Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Rite Aid run to share!

So, today I made a Rite Aid run with my dear sis-in-law. To be honest, I didn't even have a list put together before leaving for church. Tanya asked if I wanted to go with her so we quick stopped at my place to big up my binder and grab today's inserts and then headed to Starbucks for a coffee and took a few minutes there to put together my list and gather the needed coupons.

Here's the break down of this amazing purchase!

Transaction #1:
4 - 1.5 qt. Dreyer's Ice Cream...reg. price $5.99, on sale for $2.99, receive $2.00 ups for each
2 - Colgate Total Adv. White Toothpaste...reg. price $3.69, on sale for $2.99, receive $2.00 ups for each
      ...just noticed that my toothpaste actually rang up for $2.95 each...not sure why but I'll take it!

Used $1.75 in coupons for the toothpaste and 6 - $1.99 ups rewards from lightbulb purchase last week.
(coupons were from smartsource...1 - $1.00 off one and 1 - $0.75 off one.)

Total out of pocket - $4.67 (inc. $0.50 tax) and received 6 - $2.00 ups rewards to be used on my next purchase.

Transaction #2:
4 - Lays Stax...reg. price $1.79, on sale for 2/$2 = $1.00 each, receive $1.00 ups for each (unadvertised)
4 - Chex Mix...reg. price $2.99, on sale for 2/$3 = $1.50 each, receive $1.00 ups for each (unadvertised)
6 - Pringles Super Stax...reg. price $2.29, on sale for 2/$3 = $1.50 each

Used $7.50 in coupons for pringles and chex mix and 5 - $2.00 ups rewards from transaction #1.
(coupons for pringles...$1 off two...were from this weeks P&G insert and coupons for chex mix were from Safeway's Joy of Football coupon book...$1 off one...and one was a Rite Aid Video Value...$0.50 off one)

Total out of pocket - $1.50 and received 8 - $1.00 ups reward and a $5 ups rewards for purchasing $15 of participating products...all from from the grocery aisle.

**I tried to be very clear on the coupons used and sales they were applied to from today's shopping trip. Let me know if you have any questions on how I did it.

We were thrilled with how stocked Rite Aid was today. You can tell that their store manager is really working hard on getting a good amount of stock in for us serious couponers!! Now...get out there and save! My husband was thrilled that I profited $11 on today's purchase. Yes, that is all in Ups Rewards for Rite Aid but no doubt that I will be back there for more product! It's my number 1 store that I shop at these days.

Happy Shopping!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saying goodbye & a week of blessings

On Tuesday, we said good-bye to our van. We had driven it for the last time. We had been having issues with it and took it in to the shop only to find that fixing it would be more than the van was worth. After having a few consults on the situation we decided that we were better off getting rid of it. We didn't have the money to fix it, we don't have the money to replace it, but we know that God has a plan for this.

So, once Jason got home from work on Tuesday, we headed to the shop to get everything out of the van. The kids had been sad at different times on Monday and Tuesday...Ethan was crying while we were talking to the shop owner. Of course, he chose Tuesday to name the van...bad timing!
We had the kids join in on the clean-out. They had seat pockets to empty...lots of little treasures to be found. It took us about 20 minutes to go through and to make sure we had everything. This would be the last time the kids would be in the van.

We took one last picture before pulling away.
As much of a tragedy as this has been, we have experienced a week of blessings! We have a very dear couple in our Christ Group who has loaned us their car for two weeks. (I'm scared to death to have the kids in it because it is a very new car to them and has more bells and whistles than I would ever dream of in a car. This leads to much curiosity for the kids and I am constantly reminding them to not touch any of the buttons.)

Today was filled with another blessing, we were blessed with a very special gift and feel very loved! We also got some encouraging news on replacing the van. I don't want to go into any details but I know one thing...THIS IS ALL A GOD THING!

This past week has been nothing but a great week of teaching tools for the kids. Yes, I had my moments of tears over the van but I assured the kids that I 100% trust that God is going to provide for us. What mom wouldn't be upset over losing her wheels for getting the kiddos to and from school, after school activities, etc. Yes, I've been able to borrow a car this week but it's just not the same.

I'm just so thankful for the people that we have in our life and that they love us enough to want to help in the tough times. I'm thankful for a Lord and Savior who has promised to take care of us and is doing so as I type. I'm not sure why we are having to go through these tough times but I do know that they are making us stronger.

I would ask that you continue to pray for us as we are going through this "stuff". We just made our first mortgage payment for the modification process. We continue to try to put together a budget that is going to work. A little tough to do with fluctuating work right now. We did list the van on CraigsList in hopes to get a little more for it than what the scrap yard has to offer so pray that it sells quickly. And, as we begin the search for a "new", to us, van. We want our attitudes to remain positive and be reasonable in what we look for. We don't need all the bells and whistles but yet have some requirements for seating, etc. It's a hard thing to balance.

We will keep you posted on our journey!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

FINALLY! Some good news!

Yesterday afternoon, we were out running errands, etc. I mentioned to Jason that I had yet to get the mail for the day. So, before pulling into the driveway, Jason pulled up to the mailboxes. He stood out in the rain going through the mail piece-by-piece. He handed me a pile of mail but I noticed that he had kept a piece of mail. He informed me that it was from GMAC and that he would let me know what it was about after he had read it. In other words, he wanted to be prepared in case he was having to give me bad news.

Well, it definitely was not bad news. Just the opposite! OUR LOAN MODIFICATION HAS STARTED! Nothing is final as we have guidelines to meet over the next three months but we are at least on the right path! This was such a relief to us. It has been a long 4 years. However, we know that this waiting is all a part of God's plan and we continue to trust Him through this process.

We would ask that you continue to pray with us through this "trial period" and that things continue to move forward smoothly. We love our home and would love to be able to keep it. This loan modification will be the only thing that will make that possible.

Thanks to those of you who have already been praying with us through this process.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More deals to come but for now....

You are invited to a coupon class! This class is FREE and you will learn exactly how myself and a few others have started to save, save, save! Let me know if you are wanting to join us on Thursday, January 20th!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

$.09 Fruit Snacks and more!!!

These past couple of months I have been discovering the world of couponing. This has been huge for our family budget.

My sister-in-law and I made a trip to Safeway on January 3rd for an AMAZING deal on Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks and Nature Valley Granola Bars. We were a "well oiled machine" going through check-out. In fact, when we got to the check out lanes, they had a gal "directing traffic" and we told her that we each had multiple transactions and we were profiling our cashier! Profiling your cashiers while using coupons is very important!! You do not want anyone up-tight and unwilling to work with multiple transactions. She called for the asst. manager to open up a lane just for us! WooHoo!

Tanya and I had planned our transactions ahead of time and had our coupons bundled together "by transaction". It really did go smoothly and we paid very little for what we got! Here's a picture of my purhcase...
Transaction #1:
5-Betty Crocker Fruit Snack/Roll-Up items ($0.99 each)
5-Nature Valley Granola Bars ($1.77 each with store coupon) card savings = $16.60, coupon savings = $4.00, out of pocket = $9.80!!
I also received a $3.50 Catalina for the 5 granola bars and a $3.00 Catalina for the BC fruit snacks/roll-ups.

Transaction #2:
5-Betty Crocker Fruit Snack/Roll-Up ($0.99 each)
5-Nature Valley Granola Bars ($1.77 each with store coupon) card savings = $16.60, coupon savings = $4.00, Catalinas used (from previous purchase) = $6.50, out of pocket = $3.30!!
I also received a $3.50 Catlaina for the 5 granola bars and a $3.00 Catalina for the BC fruit snacks/roll-ups.

Transaction #3:
5-Betty Crocker Fruit Snack/Roll-Up ($0.99 each) card savings = $9.00, coupon savings = $1.50, Catalina used (from previous purchase) = $3.00, out of pocket = $.45!!
I also received a $3.00 Catalina for the 5 BC fruit snacks/roll-ups.

Transaction #4:
5-Betty Crocker Fruit Snack/Roll-Up ($0.99 each)
4-Mission brand tortilla chips ($1.49 each)
4-Totino's Pizza Rolls (2/$2.99)
Simply OJ ($2.49)
16-Yoplait Yogurts (10/$5.00)
2-Johnsonville Sausage Patties ($3.99 each...BOGO), buy one get one
2-Johnsonville Sausage Links ($3.99 each...BOGO) card savings $31.99, coupon savings $6.70, Catalinas used (from previous purchase) = $6.50, out of pocket = $25.63!!
I also received a $3.00 Catalina for the 5 BC fruit snacks/roll-ups

Later that day, I went to Rite Aid. I had a few things I wanted to get.
Transaction #1:
2 Frosted Mini Wheats (2/$5.00)...used mfr. cpn.
2 Rite Aid brand cotton balls ($1.29 each)
2 Zicam ($12.99 each...these were a BOGO item and I had a mfr. cpn for additional off)
2 Scunci hair items (BOGO 50% off)

Wellness Card Savings = $19.07; Coupon Savings (this includes any UPs Rewards that I had from a previous purchase) = $25.00; Total Out of Pocket = $1.30. My subtotal before tax was $.05!!

Transaction #2:
2-Lysol Wipes (2/$4.00)...used mfr. cpn.
1-Garnier Shampoo ($4.99)...used mfr. cpn.

Wellness Card Savings = $5.48; Coupons Savings (this includes any UPs Rewards that I had from a previous purchase) = $8.00; Total Out of Pocket = $1.67. My subtotal before tax was $0.99

**The only information I'm missing here is exactly how many UPs Rewards I received for each purchase. I'll try to get better at that but can't promise anything.

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve was spent with friends from church again this year. It's become an annual thing and every year we look forward to getting together with everyone. It's probably one of the only times that we really get together and it's always a fun time!

Wayne and Janet VanWerven do a great job of hosting and always have fun things planned. We all bring appetizer type foods and any goodies that we have left from Christmas. It's a great way to get all of the sugar out of the house to start fresh for the new year.

The kids end up doing a variety of different things but this year spent most of the evening watching movies while the adults played games.
By the time midnight came around we were all so exhausted and thinking that maybe we were getting too old to continue staying up until midnight. It was tough this year to keep going. Even playing games wasn't helping, especially when you had to really think. I was coming up completely blank...I had nothin'. The kids were all starting to wind down. However, we were all still awake when 12:00am came around.

We all said "Happy New Year" and quickly loaded up to head for home. I think this year we all actually left earlier than any other year. I tell ya, we are getting old!

New's Year Day was spent at Grandma Groen's. It's become our annual pizza day and sometimes game day. I hope this tradition continues on for a long time! It's a great day to just wind down from all the holiday hustle and bustle and just hang out. We didn't get any games out this year but we had a great time!

Catching up continues...Merry Christmas!

Christmas morning was very relaxing! We had absolutely nowhere that we HAD to be. Once all of the kids were up they emptied their stockings. Brenna decided to sleep in this morning so the other two were getting a little impatient waiting but I refused to wake anybody up. We had nowhere to go so we had no set time frame.

Once everyone had breakfast and were dressed, we headed for the living room to open gifts. This year's gifts contained mainly clothing but there were a few fun things in the midst. Ethan is still at the age that I can find cheap toys. The girls on the other hand, they have hit the age where their "toys" are not so cheap. Oh my. We had to have a little chat before starting..."Ethan has more gifts to open but we promise we spent the exact same about of money on each of you." The girls accepted the news well. I'm sure the time will come when it will be one gift under the tree for each of them. The more advanced the electronics get the more expensive the gifts get!
A couple of weeks before Christmas, I had worked for a friend for a very big catering job they had. Jason and I decided that we would take a little bit of that to do Christmas for each other. The kids were so upset earlier when we told them that Mom and Dad didn't need anything and we were okay with no gifts. Imagine how excited they were when they found out we were exchanging gifts. Alyssa had gone with Jason while he shopped for me and I took Brenna with me. They loved being a part of this!

I loved the deals that I found to be able to really surprise Jason with some great gifts...Huskies hat and sweatshirt, a capo for his guitar, and Maden '10 for the Wii. I thought I "out did" him for sure...we get a little competitive when it comes to gift giving...who can surprise the other one the most. Well, this year...HE WON! He totally disguised my gift and I was shocked when I opened my very heavy, squishy box to find an envelope letting me know that I was getting a new computer program for scrapbooking. He couldn't actually purchase it because once you purchase it, it is a downloadable program and I'm constantly on the laptop so I would have discovered it early. I have an AMAZING husband!!

At about 1:30 we decided that we would head over to Grandma Groen's to see what was happening there. We knew Mom and Duane were there with a couple of my aunts and uncles for lunch with Grandma. We spent a couple of hours there just hanging out and then came back home to play with more of our Christmas toys!!

I think this was one of the best Christmas' ever! We had time to just enjoy each other, spend quality time at home together, and didn't have to rush off any where. We hope that you had an amazing Christmas as well...celebrating the real reason for Christmas...JESUS!

Part 4 - Getting caught up little by little!

We worked hard on gathering the information we needed and on December 23rd, we faxed all paperwork requested for the loan modification to the mortgage company. It was nice to know that it is now our of our hands and it is just a matter of waiting to hear from the bank now.

We worked hard on getting things ready for Christmas with my family. It was our turn this year to host and we were all looking forward to having everyone here. My dear, sweet sister was great in coming to help with the table set-up and decor. I just don't have much of that and wanted the table to look great. I was excited that we would be able to use our china again. It's the only time we ever use it so it's always fun to try to "tie it in" with the table decor.

Christmas Eve morning came and everyone arrived...except for Tanya and Wayne. =( Wayne had come down with the flu the day before and they were hoping he would be feeling much better by morning but that just didn't happen. We all jumped in to help Tyler with Wyatt and Weston. This now was even a better reason for it to be our year to host. These boys are so use to spending time here that there really was no need to worry about what they may be in to, ect. (This has kind of become a second home to them while Daddy and Mommy work and I love that they are so comfortable here. So much so, that Wyatt went down for a nap mid-party and didn't even hesitate going to sleep in the playpen.)

The food was absolutely wonderful! And even though Tanya wasn't here, she was up early preparing what Tyler was to bring and it all tasted so good...made us miss her that much more!

Once we had the tables cleared and the extra table out and away, the kids joined us in the living room for gifts. It was so nice and relaxed with sweet little pauses in between the gifts so the kids could enjoy each one for just a little while.

Once gifts were finished, TyTy and the bigger kids moved to the family room to play a little Wii. Tyler doesn't have one of these so the kids were having fun beating him at the games. I think Alyssa totally out-bowled him!
By late afternoon, Wayne was feeling so much better so on our way to church that night we stopped by so Wayne and Ethan could have Christmas together...they had each others names in the name exchange...and yes, that was totally rigged!

All in all, it was a great day!

Part 3 - Still behind but getting caught up!

December seemed to come so quick this year. We started the month out making some crucial decisions. We met with our friend who is a realtor and started working on the process of putting our house up for sale. We knew this part was not going to be quick. We were going to have to put together a short-sale proposal for our bank and our friend needed time to come up with a solid price and do some research of his own on the process we were about to embark on. We continued to pray that God would make this journey clear and that we would continue to feel peace about our decision.

We tried not to let this consume all of our time because this was an exciting month in our home also. The kids had their Christmas program, Alyssa was turning 9 on the 15th, and Christmas!

Sunday the 12th was our Christmas program at church. Of course, it wasn't until we were about half way through the program that I realized this was Brenna's last Christmas program EVER...AAGH!!! Brenna was an angel and read a passage of scripture and Alyssa was one of the sheeps in the group choir. Ethan's class came in part way through the big kids' program to join them in a few songs.

We also celebrated Alyssa's birthday on the 12th with family. We knew that this would be only day to do so with Christmas parties starting on the 18th. This year, Alyssa was sure to NOT wish for snow. (Last year she wished for snow on her birthday and then ended up getting so much snow the day of her party most people couldn't make it to our house to help celebrate and those that did didn't stay long because they needed to be able to get back home while there was still daylight.)

It was great to have cousins here to help celebrate and Alyssa received so many great gifts! We had the lady at the bakery make her cake this year...mommy was just a little too busy to get it done and since I work at the bakery, I have connections! =)

It's hard to believe that 9 years have gone by since this precious gift was given to us. I remember her birth clearly. I must say it was the absolute best of the three...if any birth can really be "the best".

To celebrate on her actual birthday, the 15th, we headed to Billy McHale's for dinner. Alyssa had received a post card for a free kids meal and once we were there, we realized all of the kids meals were 50% off!!!

It was a fun family night and when we got home we gave Alyssa a gift from each of us. Boy was she surprised to open her gift from Dad and Mom!

It was just after Alyssa's birthday that Jason made probably the most important phone call of all regarding the house. It wasn't that he was putting this phone call off...our friend had just come across some very informative information and it had a phone number for us to call. During this phone call, the financial counselor was asking Jason different questions and at the end wanted to know why we weren't requesting a loan modification from our mortgage company and just jumping straight to a short-sale. Jason informed him that we had applied for a loan modification earlier in the year that we were denied. The counselor did not understand why until he had Jason read him our denial letter and it was at that point that our plan changed. We were denied a loan modification because we were making mortgage payments. This counselor advised Jason that no matter what, we were to not make a payment in December and because we had already missed November's this would give us the two missed payments needed to be considered. He was going to put all of the loan modification in the mail the next day and forward all of the notes from the conversation to the mortgage company so that they would be made aware immediately that we were serious with the initial request and now have assistance with this loan modification request. Jason called our mortgage company the next day and sure enough, they had all the information from the counselor. They too sent us information on what needed to happen next. They gave us a deadline of December 28th to have all of the requested information in to them and we assured them they would have it before that!

We continued on with life and started Christmas on the 18th with Jason's family for lunch and then my mom's family for dinner. This was the first year in probably 4 years that Jason's family has all been together for Christmas. We made sure to get some pictures of us all together! It was great to just spend time eating and catching up with each other and the kids. We hadn't seen Jason's younger brother and his family in several those boys have grown up!
(Love self-timers on cameras...otherwise, the family picture would have never happened!)

The evening was spent with all of my mom's family, I think there were close to 60 of us. Grandma enjoys every minute of having us all together. Jason and I had the "job" of making the rolls again. Everyone loves the homemade rolls so we are happy to do it!

The day was great but the kids were absolutely exhausted by the time we got home. It was nice to know that we didn't have another Christmas party until the 24th and we could just focus on spending time together as a family and working on the things that we needed to do. Jason was off for two weeks and the kids were home from school. Much family time to be had!

On the 22nd we had our annual cookie baking day with "Aunt" Janice. The kids always look forward to this day. In fact, Brenna was already asking on December 1st if I had set a date with "Aunt" Janice for baking day. We start our time out with a little lunch and then the kids each take a turn cutting out cookies with "Aunt" Janice. Once they have each cut out their cookies that will decorate to take home they go watch a movie while Janice finishes up with the rest of the dough...cutting out goes a little quicker at this point!


By the time the dough is all cut out and baked the kids' cookies are cooled and ready to decorate. This year, Alyssa's artistic talents totally came out. The girls are usually both very particular about how they decorate their cookies but this year was to the extreme with Alyssa. She was very proud of her cookies...each of the kids were proud of their cookies!!