I can remember impatiently awaiting the arrival of the summer months when I was a child. Because summer was for swimming lessons. While my momma tells the story that, at first, I was terrified to put my face in the water, I remember swimming like a fish. And loving every minute of it.
I remember being in swimming lessons and desperately wanting to get better to earn the next badge, the next rank. You remember the ranks, don't you? Pollywog, tadpole, guppy, dolphin, etc. Ah, to be a dolphin...
For several years we have attempted swimming lessons with the kids. More out of concern for their safety around water, but also for fun and exercise. It has never been fun. And the only exercise was getting them into swimsuits, into car seats, turning away while hearing their frantic calls while with their instructor, reloading into the car, and getting home, and getting out of wet swimsuits. Exercise had? Yes, by me. Fun had? None. Not by anyone.
The fault is my own. Being a new, doting mommy, when my babies were widdle puddles of goo, I would cover their widdle faces when I gave them a widdle baff. So as to avoid water going into their widdle tiny eyes. As they grew, so did their desire to keep water off of their faces and out of their eyes.
Fast forward to about a year ago. My kids, splashing in the pool, life jackets on, hanging off the neck of the nearest adult, and F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G out anytime water would get on their faces. "MOMMA!!! Make that boy stop splashing! It's getting in my face!!!" Sigh...
So, this year we decided to try lessons again. For fun. For exercise. For safety. Because my kids' rank? Their rank is not dolphin, guppy, tadpole. Not even pollywog. Their rank is R-O-C-K. You know the qualifications: splashes, makes water rings, promptly sinks to the bottom... Yeah. Rocks, I tell ya. Rocks.
We went to base. Met the nice little instructor. (Seriously, I think I'm old enough to be HER mother!) Signed up for lessons. Wrote a BIG, FAT check to the base for one month's lessons. For two kids.
And then some friends went out of town and asked us to condo and cat sit. The payment? Keys to their condo's pools. And so, we went. I, expecting more whining and fussing and a general dissatisfaction with faces and wetness. Them, just happy for a new opportunity.
But, alas, I was surprised. With no prompting, no instruction, no help, no screaming about splashing, something amazing happened.
The first day:
And by day two:
And, on day three, the base cashed my check.
You pay for lessons and your kids learn to swim on their own.
I love the South. The weather is great. (Until the humidity sets in.) The people are friendly. (Unless you're shopping at a certain Stuffmart, then all bets are off.) The English is goofy. (Sweet peaches!)
So, y'all run along now and go get you your coupons and we'll have a visit. See? Goofy English. Funny enough to make me fall out!
Okay, enough. I did want to tell you how I was able to score so many great things, including a $50 gas card, for only $52.57. (Wanna know exactly what those things are in the picture? Yeah, I thought so.)
Here's the secret of how I done did what I done did: I used coupons.
There. Now you have it. You're welcome. Au revoir. Auf Wiedersehen. And adios.
(Yes, another Google Image)
Hee hee hee... I jest. I jest. The items above (not the horse, the groceries) were actually purchased at three stores: CVS, Target, and Publix.
I'll talk you through each one. If you have the patience and the desire to learn more. If not, have a nice day. Oh, and call your mother and tell her you love her. It IS Mother's Day after all!
My CVS trip was quick and to the point. After doing this for a few months, I've come to the decision that I will only buy things at CVS that they either give me for "free" or that they "pay me" to take out of their store. Now, really, do they give me the items for free? No. Here's how it goes: I buy something and they give me ECBs worth the same amount as the purchase price. That, my friends, is free. (ECBs are Extra Care Bucks that you use like cash on a subsequent transaction.) When I say "pay me" to take something out of the store, it usually means one of two things: I had a coupon whose value was more than the actual price on the item OR using a coupon and an ECB reward was more than the price of the item. Either way, a money maker.
Where was I? Oh, yes. At CVS. I only had a few things on my list, and the store was out of most of them. But, I did take advantage of the razor ECB deal they had this week. "Buy $15 of Schick Quatro Razors &/or refills and get $5 ECB."
Here's what I done did (sorry, I cain't stop myself!):
Schick Quatro Disposable Razors (3 ct.) $9.89 x 2 = $19.78 Minus two coupons ($2.00 each) - 4.00 Minus ECB's from earlier trips - 12.99 Total = $2.79 Tax (thanks, Uncle Sam!) + 1.49 Grand Total: $ 4.28 ECBs Earned This Trip: $ 5.00
And they paid me to take it out of the store! That trip was a MONEYMAKER of $.72!
I realize that you probably don't have all the ECBs to recreate this exact deal, but over time, you will. Shopping at CVS has almost become a game for me. I try to see what I can buy for free and then how long I can roll forward my ECBs. It's a sick game, I know. But fun!
On to the next store, Target.
Kandoo Wipes $1.49 x 2 = $2.98 Dora Colgate Toothpaste $1.99 Suave Shampoo $ .84 Suave Conditioner $ .84 Scotch Scissors $1.49 x 2 = $2.98 Total: $9.63 Minus Coupons: - $7.25 Grand Total: $2.33 Minus bonus for reusable bag - $.05 Super Grand Total w/tax $2.87!!
Most of the items I bought (excluding produce) were on their weekly Buy One, Get One Free sale or were marked down. I then paired all the items with coupons and saved a bundle! Because I don't have the patience to type it all up, and I'm sure you don't need another list of my savings by each line item, I will just tell you the highlights of that purchase.
First, I had a $5 off $30 coupon that I clipped out of the Wednesday newspaper. Then, I bought a gas card that was $50 for $40, so it showed up on the receipt as a $10 coupon. Additionally, I had some manufacturer coupons and some Publix store coupons (which you can "stack" together) that totaled $14.99. So, once it was all totaled up, I had a grand total of $50.42, which included my $50 gas card!
I tell you all this not to be boastful or to bore you, but instead, to inspire you. Using coupons does take some pre-planning and a bit of your time, but the savings are so worth it. And, as a friend of mine said, "Knowing that you are providing for your family AND saving money is such a blessing!" Amen, sista! Amen!
** You'll notice that I refer to my shopping list. I NEVER go to the store without a list. A list that I've created after using SouthernSavers to pair my coupons with sale prices. I'd HIGHLY advise you do the same! Jenny at Southern Savers does all the legwork for you. God bless that woman! There are a few websites that I use to help me match up coupons with current sales but these are my current faves:
It has been a while since we've talked coupons. If you're wondering how I'm doing, or even if you're not wondering, I'm gonna tell ya. Yes, I'm keeping up with my coupons. Yes, I still use them. I do still love using them, but some of the initial "honeymoon" has worn off. One thing I've found is that there are some things that always seem to be cheap or free: toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, deodorant, etc. And because I didn't know that when I started out, I am stocked UP on those things. I've also been able to donate a lot of it, which makes couponing so, so worth it!
Now my challenge has been to only buy the things that we either need now, or those things that we can still stock up on. That means no more body wash, toothpaste, or deodorant for me. At least not for a while.
Because of that, honestly, I haven't shopped much in the last two weeks. Only because I didn't see anything I had to have that I also had coupons for. Don't get me wrong. My family is not starving. We have been buying plenty of produce and fresh meats but, sadly, very few coupons pop up for those things. And so I haven't had much to celebrate.
Until today. Today I went to three stores: Target, CVS, and Publix. I only purchased things that we could stand to stock up on or those things that were free. Here's what I came away with:
In case you can't see it, or in the case of the few 'shy' items I know are in the picture, here's the list:
2 pairs of Scotch Brand Scissors (full size) 2 packs of Kandoo Wipes 2 packs of Schick Quatro Disposable Razors (4 ct.) 1 Suave Shampoo 1 Suave Conditioner 4 Honest Tea 1 Olay Foaming Face Wash 1 Colgate Dora Toothpaste 2 packs of Gas X (after all the produce, I figured these were a good purchase!) 1 bunch bananas 1 ready pack of broccoli 1 ready pack of zuchinni 1 ready pack of sugar snap peas 1 bag baby carrots 1 travel size Krazy Super Glue (2 tubes inside) 2 bags of Yoplait Smoothie mix 3 bags of Steamfresh rice and veggies 1 Publix reusable Green Bag 1 $50 Shell Gasoline Card
And the total?
And that INCLUDES a gas card for $50!!
Look at it this way: I paid $50 for a gas card (which will only fill my Tahoe's tank about 3/4 full -- boo!) and received all the rest for $2.57....
Don't know about you, but I think that's a great day shopping!
In case you're interested (and even if you're not), I'll spell out how I did it, step by step, in the next post... Yes, it was legal. Waiting at the edge of your chair, aren't you?
Of course it had to come. He's a pilot. A pilot who flies really fast aircraft. Hurtling through space at speeds that only come naturally to wind and sound is what he does. He does it for his job, but mostly because it's fun.
So I knew this day would come. And I thought I was prepared.
Then why do my knees tremble? And my heart race? And my brain go wild with the possibilities?
It has been 4 months and 4 days since the incident. And in that time, the time between flights, we've had great opportunities to discuss God's role in it all. We have come to know, to the very marrow of our beings, that He is the only thing, the only answer, for the reason things came out the way they did. By all accounts from the 'professionals,' my husband shouldn't be here today. The 'professionals' say that there are many, many places in the course of the incident that MotorMan could have should have been killed. But those 'professionals' don't take into account one thing:
Our God is sovereign.
And so, this morning, as I listen for the Sound of Freedom flying overhead, I rest in that promise.
My God is sovereign. My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty. There is nothing my God cannot do.
And while I rest in that promise, I hear a Still, Small Voice. A Whisper:
"I am He who hung the stars. I am He who holds them in place. I am He who holds your husband. Trust me, Daughter. Trust me."
And I do.
**In the defense of the 'professionals' I've mentioned above, their job is to find concrete answers to the causes and results of the incident. Not to analyze things from a Biblical point of view. I am very, very thankful for all the men and women who worked during the rescue, recovery, and through the months of investigations. My prayer would be that those who don't know our God would learn from this incident. There is more than concrete answers and things that can be explained by the brain. There is God!
I had great, lofty dreams of what it meant to be a mother. And then I had babies. And reality set in...
MotorMan is my exceedingly handsome and very handy husband. He loves this GHM, our kiddos, flying really fast jets, and restoring his old 1970 Blazer. Oh, and anything fried!
CraftyGirl is our very smart, cute, and loving eight year old. She can turn anything (i.e. empty Cheerios boxes, Diet Coke cases, whipped cream containers) into a zoo, playhouse, or park for her many, many "Pet Shops." CraftyGirl loves canned ravioli, black beans, sparkly dresses, nail polish, her family, and Jesus!
TheBoy is all boy! Our funny six year old loves Legos, military action figures, jets, his family, and Jesus! He fills our house with constant chatter and a lot of laughs!
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