A year ago

A year ago, I was only a week from A’s birth.  Although we didn’t know that at the time.  She was born 10 days early.

I was so done with pregnancy by that point.  I honestly can’t tell you how much I hated pregnancy.  And I had the easiest pregnancy ever.  My blood pressure was low.  Not high like most women.  Instead, they were telling me to eat potato chips, for the salt content, to get my blood pressure up.  What pregnant woman wouldn’t LOVE to hear that?

My glucose tolerance test came back low, like in a good way.  And I was nervous I would have to do it over again, because my mom and I had just gone out for lunch for her birthday.

The worst thing I had was anemia.  It was supposedly so low that I shouldn’t have been able to stand up, between that and my low blood pressure.  They were concerned that I would pass out at anytime.  I didn’t, but everyone I worked with knew about it too, and freaked out anytime I did anything more strenuous than picking up a pen.

And it drove me NUTS.

That was what I hated the most about pregnancy.  If you know me, you know I do things on my own.  I don’t ask for help.  I don’t like people to help me, I don’t like being told what to do, and when to do it, and how to do it.  I don’t like sitting still.

Pregnancy is pretty much the definition of all of the above.  It’s extra attention.  That I didn’t want.  It’s complete strangers touching your stomach.  Creepy.  It’s directions on what to do and what not to do.  I’ll think for myself, dammit.

In the end, it was worth it.  I love my little like no other.  She is the best baby ever.  She is so laid back and just amazing and perfect.  And I’m getting a little carried away….

Would I do it again?  Hmmm.  Is there any way I can get around it?  Like can I get C to be a surrogate for me?  That would be super.

In the end.  I think I would.  But I need to forget too many things about it first.  I need to stuff in as many girls nights out and margaritas as I can before we get two pink lines again.  And I think I need to train A to tie shoes first.  Because that was pretty much the only time I asked for help.  And 95% of the time I made it to work with my shoes on, but had to ask a coworker to tie them for me.  And I guess, since I’m a stay-at-home mom now, I don’t really have coworkers.

Think I could teach the dog to tie my shoes?

Probably gonna be awhile before I can teach either of them, so don’t count on anything anytime soon.

❤ Erin

One of those days.

Well, weeks, actually.

Have you ever had one of those days?  You know the ones.  Where, just NOTHING goes right?  Or one that you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed?  Or the one that you just have the sixth sense that sh*ts gonna hit the fan, but you’re just not sure when?

That was my whole WEEK last week.  No joke.

Over the past week our oven decided to check out, our internet has been playing a game of ‘now you have me, now you don’t’, and since we needed to have someone come look at the oven, we figured we should also have him look at our ice maker that hasn’t been working for months.  Monday a very nice gentleman came to fix our appliances (for a very hefty bill).  And I sat on the phone with the cable company for over 45 minutes with someone, who, after 5 minutes, STILL hadn’t gotten the correct spelling of our last name.

Tuesday morning, around 3 AM I woke to the sound of Auty dry heaving.  Then, the gut wrenching.  Then the barfing.  By the time all was said and done she had vomited around 7-8 times.  Almost every half an hour.  The poor thing didn’t make it more than 30 minutes before going at it again.  Somewhere in the middle she did last for about an hour.  I had just crawled back in bed and A let out this blood curdling scream.  Her legs (yes, both) were stuck in her crib slats.  After bringing her into my bed for a little while to calm her down, I took her back to her room.  And again, I had just crawled back in bed (this is roughly 5 AM), and Auty started vomiting again.

Long story short, after an hour long veterinarian trip, we still didn’t have an exact answer.  Rather an assumption that she ate something that didn’t sit well with her or the possibility of her just having a touch of the stomach bug.  Who knew a dog could get the stomach bug?

That in itself was a terror.  We LOVE our veterinarian, but taking a busy 12 month old to the veterinarian with a sickly 60-lb golden retriever, after having only 4 hours of sleep….  Yeah, I won’t tell you how that went other than it involved pajamas for the 2 out of 3 of us that are required to wear clothing in public.  Think people of walmart, barfy-canine style.

After nursing Auty back to health, A ended up with a terrible rash.  Now, keep in mind.  I was a pediatric nurse for 5 years.  There’s not a whole lot that scares me, or even makes me flinch.  This was a totally different story.  I have NEVER seen a rash this bad.  It’s everywhere.  She was scratching, screaming, scratching, and then crying uncontrollably.  Her little boyfriend was over in the morning and she normally loves seeing him.  But she didn’t.  Which should have been my first clue.  After they left, she screamed nonstop for almost 2 hours.

And we still don’t know exactly what her rash is or what it’s from.  We’re meeting with a pediatric dermatologist this week.  But, we’re hardcore drugging her with Benadryl, Zyrtec, an antibiotic, and a cocktail of ointments for her skin.

Forgot to mention: Auty also has some ear drops for the next week too.  How do people have more than one kid?  Seriously?  I have to think three times before giving anyone meds around here.  I’m surprised I haven’t put Benadryl in Auty’s ears and rubbed some doggie ear drops on A’s skin…

Through everything, surprisingly, I was able to keep my sanity.   I don’t know how.  So don’t ask.  I have no tips.  I’m just hoping next week will be better.  And I hope yours will be wonderful as well.  But mainly, I just hope that mines better.  😉

❤ Erin

Target

Alright, how many times have I told ya’ll how much I love Target?

Problem is: I don’t always save a TON of money like I do elsewhere.  BUT I do save more than the average Sally.

Get Cartwheel.  This is Target’s app for savings.  It works a bit like this: on your smart phone you run through their deals and pick out the ones you want.  The great thing is this:  a lot of the items are things you will need anyhow.  Example: 5% off a gallon of milk.  5% off doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it will add up.

Shopkick is a great app if you are kidless.  Whether you have no kids, or you get an afternoon out.  Shopkick gives you points for walking into a store and scanning items.  There are several other stores you can do this with, but I have found that I don’t normally shop the other stores, nor do I have free time to just wander in a store that I had no intention of going into in the first place.  Target has a lot of products to scan.  After awhile you accumulate points, that you can use to get gift cards for difference stores, restaurants, TARGET!  And you can get a $5 GC pretty easily from scans.  Almost every other trip I end up with another $5 to use.

Ibotta is another great app to use at Target.  There are a lot of stores to use it at, including Rite Aid and CVS, amongst many others, but I find I use it the most at Target.  They typically have the most deals for new products, but often have deals on others as well.  The app works like this: you scan a featured product, after purchasing, you upload your receipt and then whatever the deal was is deposited into your earnings account.  After you earn so much, you can cash out to a gift card or paypal.  I’ve made more than $20 so far this year from Ibotta. You have to be pretty intense about saving your receipts though, too.  But remember you can use both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon AND submit a receipt for this, too.  That’s a triple saving.

Target has a great coupon section and the majority of the coupons on the website are store coupons.  As with Rite Aid and CVS, their policy is for one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item.  They do have a limit of 4 like coupons per transaction.

Check the end caps in Target.  We normally make a trip there on Mondays and it seems like it is a good day for discounts.  The end caps always have good deals, and especially in the beauty care sections and grocery sections.  This is a place that is good to take a coupon binder with you if you have one.  Even though an item may be on clearance, you can still use the same one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item rule.

The clearance sections at Target have been so good to me.  Take, for example our pack and play I recently bought for $60, that was originally $140.  That was a Target find.

And, you already know about my love for the up&up brand, Target’s store brand from last weeks posts.

You can also sign up for Target mobile coupons.  Do a general google search to find WHAT to text, as it seems to change pretty frequently.  And it depends on your interests as well.  I get baby coupons, as well as the grocery coupons.

Target is a pretty great place, and with a little planning, you can save a lot of money by doing the bulk of your grocery shopping there as well.  My best tip is to make a list.  Not just a list of what you need but also make a list of what apps you need to use for each item.  This is the only downfall to Target is that it seems they are on board with all the savings apps and it can get a little hard sometimes keeping up with them.  BUT it’s more money in your pocket if you can get it all organized.  Above all, save your receipt, because a lot of times it is something you can deal with once you get home, as long as you remember to use your Cartwheel and Shopkick apps in store.

Any other extreme Target shoppers out there?  Any tips to add?

❤ Erin

CVS

I’m not NEAR as good at the ‘CVS game’ as I am at Rite Aid.  But it’s literally half a mile down the road from my Rite Aid.  I make an effort, although my trips there are normally not near as impressive as at RA (which is why I go to CVS first, save the best or last!).

I have actually contemplated giving up on CVS, and every time I do, another good sale goes on.

Grrr.  Suckers.

Anywho.  Here are my tips and tricks for CVS:

As with RA, they have a store card, which will track your purchases and reward you with their version of +up rewards: the Extra Care Buck.

These will always print out.  So keep them handy and remember to take them with for each shopping trip.

Unlike Rite Aid’s +up Rewards that expire after only 2 weeks, CVS’s Extra Care Bucks expire after 3 weeks.

The one thing they have that RA doesn’t is the Magic Coupon Machine.  Make sure to scan your CVS card at this machine right as you step foot in the store.  A tip from a diehard CVS fan: keep scanning your card until the machine yells at you.  A lot of times it will continue to print coupons after 2 and 3 scans.

I have a love hate relationship with the Magic Coupon Machine.  I love that sometimes I get a surprise reward of some ECBs, but I hate that it almost always inevitably will shoot out coupons for things that I know I have manufacturer coupons for at home, and that are likely on sale while I am there.  It’s definitely their ploy to get you back in the store.

On the plus side, those coupons will normally last about a week, which is a bit more convenient to be able to use the next shopping trip.

Register your CVS card online, and you will be able to get almost weekly emails of discounts.  In the past I have gotten a 25% off the entire store coupon, a free Nivea lip balm coupon, $5 off $20 or more, etc.

CVS has a LOT of limits on their ECBs.  If an item is $1 and they are giving $1 ECB, be sure to read the fine print.  A lot of times, it is a limit of 1.  Which is why I can’t always justify making a trip if I am buying one item.  But, they do run some good deals.

CVS has some store coupons on their website, but it is hard to find them amongst the printable manufacturer coupons.  It doesn’t hurt to check them before a shopping trip.

They have the same rule as RA, in combining one manufacturer coupon with one store coupon.

That’s pretty much all I have for you on CVS.  As I said, I am not near as good at CVS as I am at my beloved RA, but I still make the effort since it isn’t but 30 seconds away from my Rite Aid.  As before, if you are a CVS-er, please leave tips and tricks for us and I will update with your findings!

❤ Erin

 

Rite Aid

Rite Aid is my favorite.  This is where I get the most for my money.  And our local Rite Aid has the FRIENDLIEST cashiers.  They are always so happy to see me and it makes me feel valued, instead of a burden.

I only thought it appropriate to put them first in my ‘lineup’!

There are a lot of things you can do with Rite Aid.  First of all, get their store discount card.  It’s free to sign up.  Once you have that in hand, make sure to set up your online account.

On their website, in your “dashboard”, you can keep track of your +up rewards, load coupons to your card, manage prescriptions, and watch video values.

Let me break it down into sections, because until you get the hang of it, it’s a little tricky to completely maximize your savings.

Rite Aid +up Rewards are similar to CVS’s Extra Care Bucks.  They will run an item on sale and you can get ‘coupons’ back for what you have purchased.  These can be used on ANYTHING in the store.  Your not going to see the savings right away, but it will be ‘money’ for your next trip.  These rewards are automatically put on your card.  I have found that it is just too hard to manage this at the register and you can ask a cashier to switch it to print outs for you instead.  Believe me, after months of frustration with this, one of the managers mentioned to me that we could do that to make less of a headache on all of us.

Unlike CVS’s Extra Care Bucks which can be used immediately, Rite Aid +up Rewards cannot be used until 6am the following day.

The problem is this: say you have $25 rewards on your card.  You buy $25 worth of products.  You also have $15 worth of coupons.  Realistically, your total should be $10, because with $25 worth of product, minus $15 worth of coupons would be $10.  BUT the registers don’t recognize that.  They see that there is $25 in rewards.  So you will come up with a $0 balance.  Which is GREAT!  But, you’d be losing out on your additional coupons.  Which means you would eat up $15 of your rewards that could have been used the next trip.  This can be completely avoided by just having the rewards printed out that you can use as ‘cash’ at the end.

Something to note about rewards: they expire after 2 weeks, so use them up before that!

Load2Card is a program on the dashboard in which you can load coupons directly from the website onto your rewards card.  So when you go to checkout, it automatically uses whatever coupons you have on your card.  Now, for me, I don’t keep track of what is on the card.  I check every week to see if there are new coupons and I add all of them onto my card.  Make sure you check this weekly.  A coupon could be on there that expires 3 months from now, but it might not be available for you to ‘clip’ next week.  When you see them, ‘clip’ them.

I might be doing something a little illegal with these.  BUT it has been working, so I figure it isn’t a problem at this point.  If Rite Aid changes their rules, then obviously I’m not going to make out near as well.

Example: I purchase Pantene.   I have a coupon for Pantene already on my card, but I also have a printed coupon for Pantene.  So, it’s double savings.  Like I said, it may be a little illegal….  But it’s worth a shot.

Video Values are great.  But you have to prepare well ahead for these guys too.  At the beginning of every month this section is updated.  It is an area where there are short commercials to watch in order to get coupons of certain products.  What’s neat about this is that these are STORE coupons.  Rite Aid’s policy is that you can use one STORE coupon and one MANUFACTURER coupon per item.  My normal routine goes something like this: go to this section and just watch all the videos to the end, until the coupon pops up.  You will have an option to print, but just click onto the next video.  They will be saved for you until they expire.  These can be kind of tricky as well, because a lot of the coupons don’t expire until 2 months from the beginning of the month they were aired, BUT they will disappear at the first of the next month.  It’s good to watch all the videos, that way you can fall back on these coupons later on.  And Rite Aid can be pretty tricky, in airing a coupon/commercial for something one month and not putting it on sale until the following month.  If you didn’t watch that video, then that coupon is no longer there.

Another thing about video values: when you go to print them, a box will pop up asking if it printed correctly.  If you click ‘yes’ it will void it from further use.  If you click ‘no’ it will save it.  This is important to click ‘no’ in case you misplace the coupon.  Then you can still go back and reprint it.

A word about the Pharmacy: Although I haven’t set up a pharmacy account online, it seems pretty user friendly.  You can request refills via the online portal, which seems pretty handy to me!

DEALS at the pharmacy: about every 2 weeks, Rite Aid has a coupon in their sales circular for a $25 up reward with a new or transferred prescription.  This is how I started my ‘stash’ of rewards dollars.  They typically will advertise one or two.  We LOVE our local pharmacy, but if Rite Aid is essentially going to pay me to get our prescriptions filled there?  Then sign me up!  These coupons will last 2 weeks and then new ones will come out in the next circular.  I ALWAYS cut these out and keep them rotating on my bulletin board by the door.  We’ve gone through all of our maintenance meds in our family now, but with a kid in the house, we are bound to have sickness here and there.  And when we do, it’s good to grab one of those coupons before heading to the doctor.  I am ALWAYS saving, sick or not.

Rite Aid also has store surveys on the bottom of every receipt, for pharmacy or the store.  I complete them every week.  They have a chance to win a store gift card if you complete the survey.  And 4 tries a month is pretty good, I think?  It takes 5 minutes tops and if it gives me a chance at saving even more, I’m all game.

You also earn points depending on your purchases, and although I am not 100% sure what the accrual is, there are some pretty nice rewards.  I am already at the silver level for the year, which means I get 10% the ENTIRE store or the rest of the year.  The gold level is next, and I think that is 20% off the entire store.  When you reach 500 points you can pick a reward (I got a magazine subscription, but you could pick a few other things, such as a year long GNC membership).  If I remember correctly, pharmacy points double, too.  If you have prescriptions to transfer, it would be best to do it at the beginning of the year, as to get your points up there quicker.

Keep an eye on your deals of the weeks too, especially the ones that include getting a +up reward.  There often are limits of 1 or 2 redemptions.  Make sure not to make the mistake of buying 10 of something because you thought you’d get $20 back.  Because you won’t.  Read the fine print.  ALWAYS.

That covers my Rite Aid tips and tricks.  If there are any other ‘Rite-Aiders’ out there that have anything to add, comment below and I’ll get it up!

And my favorite blog hip2save has the weekly match ups at Rite Aid posted on Saturday afternoon/evening.  She is my savior in terms of figuring out the best combos.

❤ Erin