Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Surprise Back At Ya!!

So my mom was scheduled to fly out here (CA to TX) and visit us for this past week while Dad was away for work. And then in August both Mom and Dad were supposed to come visit when dad was off. So last Tuesday I headed off to the airport to pick up Mom. She walked around the corner of the aiport exit smiling and I waved and next thing I knew DAD was walking around the corner smiling and flashing his camera...SURPRISE!!! Dad came too!! Aparently a week before Mom's trip his work thing cancelled and he booked a ticket to fly out with Mom...and in all fairness of me showing up to surprise him for his retirement party, he decided to surprise me!

~On the pier at Clear Lake~

~sitting in the rocket booster at Rocket Park, NASA~

We had them here for a week and had a wonderful time. The big kids loved having two of their favorite playmates around and Carter even warmed up to them right at the end too after perking up from being so sick when they first got here. When Josh got home for the weekend we did some more tourist-y activities with Mom and Dad. First thing was first...NASA for Dad! Then we went and played along the shore of the Gulf. Mom was floored by the teensy tiny shells she found on the beach. Since "everything's bigger in Texas" she was expecting some more significantly sized beach collectibles LOL. And after getting salty and sandy we took in the sights at Moody Gardens Aquarium and Rain Forest Pyramids.

~toes in that WARM Gulf water~

Of course a week flew by too quickly and I dropped them back off at the airport early yesterday morning...but not without tentative plans in place for them to come back out to visit around Thanksgiving (YAY!!).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Organizing my coupons

I've had several people ask me how I keep my coupons organized so here goes.
I use a padded, zippered binder that I got at Target for about $10 to keep all of my coupons and money saving stuff in one spot. It has an accordian file on the front that I keep all of my CVS receipts (so I can find them for rebates and keep track of my limits reached on items), weekly and monthly fliers, restaurant coupons and misc money saving papers. And inside the "binder" section, I slid out the 3-ring part and basically just have a zippered storage section. In here I keep a manilla folder labeled with each Sunday's date of coupon inserts. This way when I read on MSM or CS or HCW referencing a certain coupon from a certain dated insert, I can flip right to it. Also, each week when I get my inserts from the Sunday paper, I do clip the coupons I know I will use or I want to have with me EVERY time I'm in ANY store...things like diapers or cereal or favorite foods that I always buy...and I keep those in a small 3x5 accordian file that stays in my diaper bag. That way I'm sure to have those on hand and not miss the opportunity to use a coupon on things I always buy. I also file the misc internet printed coupons that I don't immediately use in this 3x5 file.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who would have thought...

...that a mere $0.99 for a four pack of punch balls would be such a simple afternoon of fun! Josh grabbed them at Target the other day and blew them up for the kids and BAM BAM BAM BAM's been a huge hit!

Check out these two videos of the monkeys having a blast!!

Catching up photos

I have gotten behind on sharing just stories and photos too. So I'm going to put a bunch in one post in an effort to aviod just never getting around to doing it as July has been busy and there's lots to tell but August is busier and it's sneaking up faster that I know it lol.
Here are a couple of pictures from our subdivision's 4th of July party at the area pool. We hadn't been until then (they lured us with free bbq and games and pool admission) and I was pleasantly surprised. It was a nice pool with a perfect wading pool for Carter.

Watching for sister to jump off the diving board...

There's her splash!

Fun in the one foot wading pool.

And then this past weekend Gabby and Charlie came to town to hang out and we went ice skating and then down to the coast to play in the water of the Gulf. Ice skating was a first for Karen, Emilee and Trevor. Charlie and Gabby had been before and it showed, and Josh of course was on olympic figure skater in his past life (and gymnast too, right hun?) *wink* so he was just fine. I found it MUCH harder to ice skate than it expected and came home with a few bruises to prove it. And the water here is sooo not like the ocean we are used to in California. The water is soooo warm! And of course the humidity here is still CRAZY...but we all did have a nice time!!

Trevor was SUPER SKATER, and Daddy's behind him trying to catch up!

This is harder than it looks!

Two little ducks in out for Mom crashing, guys!!

Now THIS is how you get around the rink!

Gabby and Charlie
Nice shell Dad, but don't let go (notice Carter's death grip on Daddy's shirt...he did NOT like walking in the sand)
Mmmm maybe I can do a little splish, splash...
What's in the hole, Dad...did ya find China??!

Catchin' up CVS

I'm a tad behind sharing my CVS shopping. Here's the pic from the week of 7/13-7/19.

I ended up spending a bit of actual cash, but everything in the pictures is stuff I actually needed and was on my shopping list (for probably walmart) so it worked out great that it was on "deal" at CVS.

Transaction #1

Huggies were $8.99 - $1.50 Q = $7.49
Sure was $2.89, grabbed two, had B1G1free Q and printed $3 ECB = profit $.11Qtips were $1.99...supposed to use a CVS beauty Q for $2 but the cashier wouldn't take it cuz I had a CVS $3/$15 and she said I was only allowed one ughhh.Used a $3/$15 and some misc ECBs and paid $0.39 and got a $3 ECB for later.

Transaction #2

Huggies were $8.99 - $1.50 Q = $7.49

Nail polish (2) $1.98 - $1.98 Q = FREE

Cheerios were B1G1free $4.29 for one box - (2) $1 Qs = $2.29 for two boxes

The GRRRR of this transaction was that the cashier wouldn't take a second $3/$15 so I spent $10.38 on this order.

Transaction #3

Two photo books at $7.99 ea = $15.98 - $6 (nice cashier was checking me out, and I didn't even notice I got $6 off until I read my reciept at home, but I figured out later he used some $3 off kodak photo books Qs that he must have had behind the counter instead of the $3/$15 I handed him...I love that guy!) = $10.78 AND each book was giving back $7.99 ECB so I got the books for a profit of about $5!

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK...spent about $22 in cash, got all sorts of stuff we NEEDED and walked away with $19 in ECB for next week!


Picture for week 7/20-7/26
Transaction #1

(2) pkg diapers = $12.00 - $2/$10 CVS brand Q = $10 (ECBs to come in second transaction)

(2) All on B1G1free = $6.49 - (2) $1 Qs = $4.49

(2) Trident gum on B1G1free - B1G1free Q = FREE (plus it prints $1 ECB)

(2) Loreal shampoo on B1G1free - B1G1free Q = FREE

pkg of sippy cups (on sale!) to get my total up to use that huge ECB from the photo books = $5.99

TOTAL with tax $5.46

Transaction #2

(2) pkg diapers = $12 - $2/$10 CVS Q = $10

used a $1 ECB

TOTAL with tax $9.72 and got $5 ECB for doing the diaper deal

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK $15.18 and $5 ECB in my pocket for next week. Not bad...about ten bucks for all THAT!

And as always, to see more great savings and the amazing people who are doing it, visit The Centsible Sawyer and Money Saving Mom.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 fun!

I read a tip a while back on a money saving site regarding cheap entertainment for the one "annual pass" per year and patronize the heck out of that place for 12 straight months. You get a bunch of bang for your buck, and if you do it at a place that has TONS to see and do you'll have a blast. Well we ended up puchasing annual passes to NASA a couple of months ago. It was ridiculous not to as one day admission was $19 and an annual pass was $21...and with an annual pass you get discounts on food and giftshop stuff inside NASA and free parking each time you come (a $5 savings). Josh and I decided to go for it as NASA is a blast *and* its something airconditioned to do over the miserable hot Texas summer, as well as we knew that any time friends and family visited they'd want to go too (right, Dad?!).

So I'm finally getting to sharing some pictures from our first two trips to NASA as well as going on July 4th. July 4th was special as they were doing a one day exhibit of Star Wars...and if there's something more up Josh's alley than NASA, it's Star Wars! (Hey, Garrett, I got to meet R2D2, a Storm Trooper and Queen Amidala!) And in April we took my dear friend, Quinn, who came out from CA to visit us. As you'll see from the pictures, NASA isn't just looking at displays of old space flights...there are tons of interactive projects and even a mondo sized play structure. And right now their rotating kid activity is a trapeeze/bungee jump/climbing structure.

Quinn's visit

(that's Trev on the front trampoline and Em jumping in the back)

Historic Mission Control-

the rotary dial phones are a bit fuzzy in the pic but they are there, and the tour guide shared the tid bit that NASA put men on the moon with a mere 400 KB of RAM...that would horrify any home computer user today lol!!

BIG rocket...itty bitty family

Saturday, July 5, 2008

CVS 6/29-7/5

Ughhhh I've been off the CVS bandwagon--I've been sooo busy and the deals haven't been awesome so I've skipped it for about 4 weeks. BUT today I pulled myself and my coupons together as I had $12.99 in ECB that expired today and I was NOT going to toss $13 down the drain. It wasn't the greatest trip. My store was out of the tampons, the mascara and the sunscreen face sticks...all FREE deals. But I still did good! I got free pantyliners, two packages of pads for 99c (cashier rang up $6.39 off the pads for the BOGO instead of $4.49 so I got a nice surprise overage on that), free lifesavers candy, a gallon of milk and loaned Trevor ECBs to buy a toy boat with (that he'll pay me cash back for---a new way to roll ECBs lol...roll 'em with your kids' allowance!)...and it cost 17c out of pocket after my $12.99 ECBs. And I walked out with $3.48 in new ECBs and my $1.50 ECB for spring spending (that printed out of my trusty CVS scanner thingy) and Trevor owing me $5. So for just over four and a half dollars I got a bunch of lady stuff, milk, candy and a toy boat...not bad once again!!!

And to see more great deals like I posted here today, stop on by The Centsible Sawyer at and see more frugal shoppers like me posting their fun at CVS from this week!

Sidebar complaint for this week~~ MSM told everyone to watch out for $4/$20 that were hitting email inboxes on 7/3 for 7/4 only savings...and on 7/3 I had nothing *pout*. I figured I'd been passed over again on these cool email coupons that I always read about other people getting. Then when we got home Friday night from fireworks at 10pm I had a new CVS email in my inbox with that special $4/$ was sent at 8pm on 7/4 and only good for 7/4...ughhh! No fair giving me TWO HOURS to spend it!! I'm going to call customer service on Monday and ask for a new coupon and hopefully a fix to their "late" delivery system.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Announcement #2~~Surprising my dad!

So the other bit of news I couldn't share last week was the trip I took to CA this past weekend to surprise my dad at his retirement party. I was just busting wanting to share but Dad reads here periodically and I couldn't have the surprise ruined, could I?

It seems like we've been waiting for Dad's retirement for YEARS (right, Mom?!) and finally on June 13 Dad went to work for the very last time, after over 30 years of service. Mom threw him a little "in office" surprise party with cake and goodies. And then his official retirement party thrown by the powers that be was June 28. Josh and I have long talked of me getting out to CA to be there to honor Dad, but costs and schedules have made the trip out questionable. Luckily about two weeks out from the party, Josh had stashed away enough frequent flyer miles to get me out there and he was able to get Friday off of work to keep the kids and I was able to call my mom and tell her I was coming!!

Dad's birthday was the 26th, and I broke the surprise to him that evening, that he needed to come pick me up at the airport the next morning, as was coming out to PARTY! It was a crazy trip, I flew out of TX, into LAX, drove up into the central CA valley, stayed at my parents' house, drove 2hrs over to where dad's party was, drove 2 hrs back, then back down to LAX and then flew back to TX...all in less than 48 hrs. BUT it was soooo worth it! It was so nice to hang out with my parents, I visited with my dad's brother who flew in for the party that I hadn't seen in two decades, and I got to see my own brother too! The party was very nice. I saw so many people that I hadn't seen since I was about Emilee's age...and several strangers came up to me telling me of what I wonderful guy my dad was (I already knew THAT *wink*) and how much he'd be missed. Dad received several awards and gifts...most importantly a hand made cannon (sort of a trophy) that is the coveted treasure by upcoming retirees, signifying that Retirement is really here.

Here are a couple of pictures...

And I can't end the story of my weekend without giving a big I LOVE YOU to Josh. He stayed home with the kids while I jetted off on my trip. He dealt with the dishwasher breaking and Carter up ALL night both nights, planted a garden with the kids AND still met me at the airport with a huge smile and "Gosh I missed you" and treated me to champagne and a ridiculously yummy dinner of seared yellowtail tuna sashimi when we got home. What a treat...and what an amazing husband!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

return your unsafe Avent baby bottles

So I caught online a few days ago from a couple of different sites that Babies R Us and/or Toys R Us were participating in a return program accepting Avent baby bottles back and giving store credit in exchange. Call your store ahead of time and ask if they are participating and how they are handling the return. My local Babies R Us was requiring a receipt and only exchanging bottle for bottle (a BPA free brand). *BUT* my local Toys R Us was accepting all Avent bottles no questions asked and no receipt required and giving a full store credit refund. So I brought in 9 9oz bottles and came out with a $42 gift card for later!

For those who aren't up-to-date on the "bad plastics" thing, Avent bottles contain BPA which has been long suspected and recently publicly deemed not-so-good for us to have in contact with our foodstuffs, heated liquids in particular. There is not an official "recall" on this yet, but it's finally becoming better known the risks of exposing yourself and your family to BPA. Food for thought on this topic...check the plastic storage containers you use, the sippy cups, plastic reusable plates/cups/bowls/silverware, water bottles. If any of these items are marked with recycling # 1,3, 6 or 7 they are made with plastic that is now being advised as a smart friend of mine told me, just use that "unsafe" plastic storage ware for storing legos. Stick to recycling # 2, 4, 5 and avoid microwaving and dishwashing (heating) your safe plastics as much as possible. And at the risk of going on and on about this topic lol, I've got tons more info and links if anyone wants to ask, like links to pages on safe sippy cups and child products.