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Coupons and Checkout 51

We did another grocery shop as a family, yesterday. I was not nearly as focused on my coupons and the organization of the trip because I had both my husband and my son with me, but I think that we did fairly well. By combining sales at Shaws with coupons that I already had, we got some really great deals. For instance, I’ve been interested in buying Applegate pre-made meals to have on hand for Matt’s son. I’m not normally a fan of pre-made meals, but these contain organic ingredients and seem much less offensive than Lunchables. So, I was looking to purchase 2. Turns out that one of the varieties was being moved out to make room for more of another, so they were on sale. They went from 3.99 to 2.99 and then they had $1.00 off Manager’s Special stickers on them. So, I basically got one FREE!

All told, we spent $138 and I saved $56 by paying attention to sales and using coupons (with hubby maybe sticking a few non-sale items in the cart). That’s not too shabby! I don’t think hubby really gets the coupon thing yet. He grabs what he think looks good and buys that. I’m the planner in the relationship, the one who wants everything a certain way. Different strokes, I suppose.

I downloaded a few apps to help with our shopping trips. The first one I’ve used is Checkout 51. The way that Checkout 51 works is that every time you use the app there are specials that offer cash back. For instance, they were offering cash back on bananas this time, and bananas were on sale for $.39 a lb. Not only did I get two bunches of bananas for pretty cheap, I got a $.25 cash back offer for them. Once you accrue $20 in cash back, Checkout 51 will cut you a check for what is in your account. So, on top of what I saved, my total rewards through Checkout 51 was $1.75, bringing my total promotional and coupon savings to almost $58!

Next, I need to tackle my coupon organization! Stay tuned.

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Adventures in Couponing

So, we have decided to become one of those families and I have started couponing. I fiddled around with coupons when I was in college but not to a significant degree. I would save $5-$10 at Wal-mart every once in a while.

Now, we’re living on one income (until October) and we have two kids that require sustenance. So, my neighbor and I have joined forces and we have been couponing.

My first shopping trip was on September 17th. I spent $175.58 in total. I saved $54.38 in promotional savings at Shaws and $33.20 in coupons. For that price, I got enough food for the four of us for the next 3 weeks or so. I got some great deals on Newman’s Own products, applesauce pouches, juice boxes, guacamole, and frozen chicken for my husband. Today, I did another small trip. I found the GoGo Squeez applesauce pouches on sale at Wal-Mart for $1.98 per 4-pack. I had 4 $1.00 off (1) coupons so I got all 4 of them for $3.94. These normally retail for $4.00 a piece! All told, I saved $9 on a $17 grocery trip today. I will continue to update this blog with couponing info and occasionally post links to coupons that I like. Look forward to some haul pictures in coming posts!

For those of you who do not know how to coupon, there is a great place for Mainers at darlenemichaud.com. Deals by Darlene outlines all of the great deals at places like Shaws, Hannaford, and Save-a-lot with the descriptions of what you must do (which coupons or apps you need) to get the best deal. I’ve also downloaded two apps that I love. One is Favado. It tells me what the prices are for my favorite products at my favorite local stores and gives me a list of deals or coupon options. Using that app and 4 coupons, I got 6 boxes of Gain dryer sheets for free! The other app is new and I have not yet used it. I have heard great things though! It’s called Checkout 51. Checkout 51 allows you to snap a picture of your receipt and gives you cash back based on that week’s deals. I plan to use that on my next big shopping haul.

In all, I’m finding couponing to be an awesome way to get more for my kids and it’s a great way to spend some of my free time that I would normally waste when I’m home.

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Our New Life

What’s new?

Well, we made it to Maine. We have officially settled in. And now? We are trying to make progress. I am happy to say that I was offered a dual position with Providence Services of Maine, working as a Behavior Analyst Technician/Behavioral Health Professional. I am also planning to apply for my Ed Tech III certification so that I can put that on my resume for the future. Our biggest hurdle right now is getting our vehicle situation established. The hubby and I are planning to purchase cars within the next week or two. Once that happens, my income should become triple what it was when I was down South.

My son is flourishing here. He’s learning and gaining all of these skills that I never imagined he’d have so soon. I believe a lot of it involves spending a lot of time with his older stepbrother. He is bright-eyed whenever he is around my husband’s son, and he wants so much to be BIG, to be able to do things and say things that his stepbrother can. I am astounded by the speed at which he is gaining words and phrases.

My husband is working full time and we are doing the best given what we had when we moved here. I am seeing big changes in the next month and I hope to track some of them here.

I have been doing a lot of home school activities with our boys and I hope to continue along that path despite having to work and take classes. I am planning on setting up some outdoor playing/learning zones in the next two weeks. I am also doing a lot of home cooking. I’ve been making all of our breads for the last two weeks and we have only eaten out twice in the last 3 weeks. I hope to make some serious health and financial changes for us this way.

In the next week, expect some updates, some goal lists, and some structure to posts. I want to focus on a couple of common themes and write on what calls to my soul. I want to mix updates about our home life with posts about current events and my passions, as well as sharing some of my favorite crafts and recipes.

You will just have to wait and see! 🙂

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Letting Go

My baby boy has fought sleep since he became mobile. He’s a beautiful sleeper and he’s slept through the night since he was about 6 weeks old, save for growth spurts. But, once he was able to get out of the family bed without my help, he started fighting me about sleep. He would cry and scream and he would try to get down off of the bed. He would flop all over the bed for upwards of an hour. At one point, it took 2 hours to get him to nap. 

Today, I learned to let go. I have been following his lead all day. We didn’t fight about nap time. I just let him play in our room, once I noticed he was sleepy. Eventually, he crawled up into the bed with me, snuggled up and fell asleep. We had a lovely day out together and I wore him almost all day. After we arrived home, he played while I cooked dinner, and after dinner he started in with the eye rubbing and the yawning. So, we went up and I filled our tub with warm sudsy water and just let him play for about 25 minutes. After bath, we went into our room. I lit a candle on our dresser, turned the lights down, read a few books, and just let him play. Eventually, he crawled into the bed, nursed for about 2 minutes and fell into a blissful, deep sleep. 

Sometimes, especially as a parent, you have to learn to let go. Plans are great. Plans are organized and clean. But parenting is not organized and clean. Parenting is smashed avocado and rice between baby toes. Parenting is leaking diapers and throwing up. Parenting is 2AM tears and 4AM snuggles. Parenting is watching the SAME episode of Sesame Street three days in a row because your toddler loves the “D-d-d-d-d-dance” song. Parenting is not about winning the war, it’s about ending the battles. I feel so good about the beautiful day that I had with my little boy. 

And now, he is resting peacefully and I get to kick back with a few episodes of “Call the Midwife” and some alone time. 

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New Adventures

Hello all,

It’s been a busy few months but I am here with an update.

Matt is signing the lease on our apartment today! Well, it’s not actually an apartment. We got a townhouse in a beautiful home. The town house has two levels, with a big kitchen and beautiful hard wood in the first floor and two big bedrooms on the second floor. The bathroom has a claw foot tub. I am so excited for our move. We have 6 weeks and 2 days until we’re on the road for Maine.

Long distance married life has been tough, but we’re making it work. We communicate as often as we can since both of us work a lot and we’re busy with our boys. Matt is dedicated to having all of us under one roof and he is making big things happen for us. Meanwhile, I’ve accepted the offer of admission from the University of Southern Maine and I will start my Masters program this September. I have a tentative job lined up with Providence Services of Maine. I just have to call in and set up my interview time. All of it is falling into place.

So far, we’re having a busy summer. I took Julian to the beach for the first time and he had a BLAST! He loves the water and has absolutely no fear when it comes to wading out into deeper waters. I have since purchased him a floatation aid that will help me to start teaching him to swim. I had a crippling fear of swimming on my own as a small child and I want to encourage his independence in any way that I can.

When I arrive in Maine, we’ll have a lot more free time so I look forward to updating this blog more often then!

 

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Renewal.

So, here’s the scoop on the new life we’re leading…

J and I are doing fantastic. I’m working, he gets to socialize with friends when I’m working. Generally, we stay pretty busy during the week. On weekends, we find lots of things to do together. For instance, today, we spent the day at the Fairie Festival in Glen Rock, PA. He and I had a blast, ate some great food, and played with all of the other kids. I try to find things like festivals, farmers markets, and parks to visit on Saturdays. Sundays are usually our church and errand days. What does your family do on weekends? Do you have any fun Saturday activities that don’t break the bank?

In great news, I got accepted to the Masters program in Educational Psychology that I was hoping for and working toward. I start in September 2014. When I finish this 2 year degree, I will be sitting for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. My career goals are to help as many special needs children as I can, with clinically proven treatments, and to provide a financially comfortable home for my son.

Another major update?

I GOT MARRIED! Those of you reading this who are close friends of mine already know that I got hitched, but for those of you who don’t… I was married in March, to my best friend, Matthew. Matt has one son from a previous relationship. We have known each other for seven years and we could not be happier with our relationship now. He amazes me every day, and I am so proud to have moved forward in my life, to have a love like this and a life like this. It’s more than I could have imagined this time last year.

So, here’s to a new start to the blog, and maybe some new themes and weekly posting ideas.

xoxo Ashley

 

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Photo: Copyright 2014 Laura Rene Photography

http://www.laurarenephotography.com

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Sick Day

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My little guy and I seem to have shared a nasty cold. Sinus congestion, sore throat, fever, chills, you name it… So, we’re taking a sick day together. I’ve been pretty miserable but I received my belated Valentine’s Day package from my love and it is so sweet.

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So, I’m eating lots of fruits and veggies, drinking tons of fluids, and relaxing with my little dude watching our new Rush DVD. I went to two of the shows on the Clockwork Angels tour (once while I was pregnant) so this tour was especially meaningful to me. When I went to the first of the two, Julian did little somersaults in my belly most of the time. I will never forget that night.

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In other news, most of the little minion’s birthday party is ready and I can’t wait to celebrate with our family and friends!

 

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Oops.

I took an accidental hiatus.

Things have been a little hectic in my little corner of the galaxy. I have a little boy who is nearing the mighty ONE YEAR mark and I have been doing all sorts of planning for his birthday. I have been also planning a weekend with my love and our family. So, yes, I have let the blog slide.

Honestly? I have a tendency to start projects and never complete them. I find something so awe-inspiring and enthralling and then a few days later I’ve worn out its newness and I’m on to something else. So, sticking with this project should be an exercise of will power for me.

News:

I’ve been doing a raw detox and so far, I’ve dropped 3 lbs of what was probably water weight (dang sodium and all that).

I’m very close to getting accepted to grad school and that is both awesome and terrifying plus everything between.

There are many life changes that will happen in the next 6 months and I feel very, very good about them.

So, here’s to attempting to keep up with this in the future.

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Weigh-In Wednesday

I’m gonna be real with you guys for a minute.

I’ve had a bad week.

I’ve been stressed out. I’ve been sick (oh lord, sick doesn’t even encompass it). I’ve been eating crappy food because it makes me feel emotionally stable in a world where I feel like I can’t get anything accomplished (see: sick, tired, busy single mom).

 

So, my weigh-in this week is 275 lbs.

Yes, I gained, but no I don’t plan to stay here.

I need to get my head sorted out and to start this with a clear idea of health and body image.

In other news, I’ve spent my morning eating yogurt and listening to music with my dancing baby.

Life could be worse.