Honestly, I did plenty of stuff on this day, I just can't remember what now! But I did get this in the mail:
Ten skeins of Peruvian 100% wool, for $50 for CARE Package! That's a really good deal; I got it from Discontinued Name Brand Yarn. I've purchased from them several times before and have always been happy. They offer steep discounts on great yarns. I like this green, but it's not extremely soft. It's not too scratchy, I think, but now that it's not so soft I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do with it. Perhaps a felting project that I design myself? Eek, nervous about that. We'll see!
As usual, I spent my first hour after the kids got on the bus screwing around online, doing my Facebook games. That is a given, and I don't apologize for it. I'm not a morning person and it helps wake me up. Plus it's hard for me to move and do things when I'm so cold. But after that I got busy!
I spend a lot of time now looking at couponing and deal blogs. Money is so very, very tight right now that I'm pretty obsessed with saving money and getting the best deals. On Wednesdays, the grocery ads come out for Farm Fresh and Harris Teeter (my favorites, although I need to branch out more because those are also the two most expensive stores); Farm Fresh doubles coupons up to $1.00 on Wednesdays. Both double up to 99cents every other day, so I look at those blogs to see what I can get for free after sales and coupons. I'm going to start stockpiling, too. I just have to figure out how to get massive amounts of the coupons I need to do so, without spending too much to make it a worthwhile cause. I'm already stockpiling the toiletries from CVS and Walgreens, and now I'm going to start doing it with food, too.
Rob says to me after I tell him this, "What are you, Mormon?"
Well, no, but it would be much better to get a ton of stuff for the pantry for FREE and then shop from the pantry, planning our meals around what we have on hand, then having to run out and buy stuff at full-price! Right?! So that's the plan.
(Also the current plan, because of super-tight finances, is to scrap spending the summer in L.A. and use the money I will hopefully earn from subbing to, you know, live off and stuff. It sucks, and Chloe was bawling when I told her, but we gotta do what we gotta do to stay afloat.)
So anyway. The deals I got Friday were thus:
This 8x10" photo collage from Walgreens was completely free! I paid nothing out of pocket for it! And it turned out really nice, too. I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but I like it.
(Sorry for the crappidity of this picture. I hate my camera!!)
All of this, which is 1 bottle of Gatorade G2, 2 single-serve bowls of Kashi cereal, 8 bottles of DanActive, 8 Activia yogurts, and a Tony's cheese pizza, were free after deals at Target (the Kashi) and Farm Fresh (everything else)! Only the Kashi and some of the Activia still remain in existence; everything else was quickly consumed. My kids are BIG fans of yogurt shakes and smoothies, so when I can get these free, I act quickly. Might have to take subbing off on Wednesdays so I can be sure to have time to get the freebies! ;) I kid... sort of.
My total out of pocket for the above was five whole cents for tax, at Target. Would've been 13 cents at FF, but I had a $5 gift card that I'd JUST gotten in the produce department for signing up for a second Sunday newspaper delivery. I'm getting it for the coupons for $1.47 extra a week, and I KNOW I will recover that in savings each week, so it's worth it. Too bad I can't just get the extra coupons and not waste the whole rest of the paper, but I'll definitely Freecycle that.
And I got a free lunch, too! I can't eat very much, so just a few bites satisfies me. I got a cracker with smoked salmon spread from the seafood department, a slice of bread and a bite of donut (not the best, but one little bite won't kill me) from the bakery, and a hunk of cheese for my bread from the deli department. All free samples, and it filled me up. Hey, I have no shame.
I made myself laugh going out and doing that shopping, too. I don't have pictures of it on this computer, but I knitted Jack a hat with cars on it a few years ago. He wears it now, and it's still big on him. It turned out HUGE, because I didn't really pay attention to gauge back then. Anyway, I hadn't showered yet but really wanted to go out and get my deals before they were sold out. My hair was a mess, so I went out wearing Jack's car hat! It's blue and yellow and orange and green... and oh, so not grown-up. Every time someone would glance at my hat and then look away, I'd chuckle to myself.
When I got back home, I realized I still hadn't made anything for Bunco that night. I was supposed to bring a dessert, but I had no mixes of any kind in the pantry, and absolutely no money to buy something. So from-scratch it had to be!
I couldn't find any recipes I liked on AllRecipes.com, so I used the one for vanilla cupcakes in the back of my beloved Hello, Cupcake! cookbook. I got it from the kids' school Book Fair last year, but I've seen it around everywhere. The recipe was supposed to make 24 cuppies, but since I way overfilled the cups, mine only made 16. That was enough for the 12 for Bunco and one each for the family, so it worked out fine.
They turned out beautifully! It has been harder for me lately to resist sweets, but fortunately I'm not a big cake lover, so I had no temptation to try these. Still, they looked pretty good!
I just dipped them in that chocolate Betty Crocker frosting I got from Walgreens the other day and then used the pearls from Williams-Sonoma to decorate them like the colorful petit-fours I made one other time. The kids remembered those, too, and kept saying so.
Dontcha want a bite?
While they were baking, I was talking to my dad on the phone as he drove from his home down to Florida to pick up his fiance girlfriend. Their wedding, which was to be his fifth, is off, but they rented out her condo, so they're still moving in together! Eek. I'm worried for him. It is kinda funny, though...
Also, while I was on the phone with Dad, my doorbell rang. It was a fellow Freecycler dropping off yet another awesome package of stamps for my grandfather! Grandpa has been collecting stamps for over 60 years now, and he's got dozens and dozens of albums full of them. He loves all kinds - used and new, foreign and domestic, whatever I send him - so I always ask on Freecycle for people to save the stamps from their holiday mail. Several people responded and sent me stamps for him, which was great, but then I hit the jackpot with Ken! Ken brought a huge pack last week and another one Wednesday, filled with thousands of stamps (old AND foreign) I'm sure Grandpa doesn't have. I'm so excited; he's going to be thrilled!
I also got another freebie in the mail Wednesday: My e.l.f. cosmetics! Remember I'd bought that e.l.f. mascara on Target so I could get a free $5 off $5 code for their website? I just bought five random things that I really didn't look at, on a whim, just to see what I ended up with. It came yesterday; I haven't tried anything yet, but it looks fun! And if I don't end up using it, it would make a great gift (or Bunco prize?)
(By the way, if you want me to stop posting my deals and steals, I'm not gonna, because they excite me so. But let me know if you hate them and maybe I'll do it some other way. If you love them, let me know if you want to know how I save money, and maybe I'll get it together to write a post on that. I'm still learning how to do it big-time, though!)
After dance class that night, I had Bunco. I had to remind Rob to come home so I could go, because he completely forgot and was going to work several more hours. Poor Rob is having a tough time these past couple of weeks. He's got a new chief whose mission it is, apparently, to make his life a living hell. He's coming home more disenchanted with the Navy than ever, wishing I would win the lottery and get him out. (Too bad we don't play.) It sucks, and I feel bad for him, but there's nothing I can do.
Also, speaking of Rob, he's going back to nights starting next week. Bah. I hate that. HATE IT. But it might solve the problem of how I'm going to get the kids on and off the bus once i start subbing, now that our nice Japanese neighbor-lady has moved to Texas!
And further Rob news: He may be going to Haiti with 48 hrs notice, for up to three months. I am not worried about it and am not complaining, but I will miss him terribly if he goes. If they need him there, though, so bet it. I'll let you know when I do.
Back to... Bunco. I quickly decorated the cupcakes and got my stuff together to leave, as soon as he arrived home. Fortunately, T was hosting it at her house just down the road from mine, so I wasn't late. I drove so carefully so my poor cupcakes wouldn't roll around in the cake case! Bonus: because her wee baby girl goes to bed at 7:30 every night now, she's going to host it every month now so the baby can go to bed on time. Yay for me; I hate hosting at my house!
Bunco was a lot of fun. We had a new face there, and she turned out to be really nice. And Steph was there, which took me by surprise; I had no idea she was coming since she quit back in April and didn't tell me she was subbing this month! That was a thrill, and of course I got to love on Baby Luke some, too. The cupcakes mostly got eaten, except for three for the kids to take to lunch today, so that worked out fine. And I was really hyper and silly and in a great mood. I kept cracking myself up, and I think maybe I made a few other people laugh, too. ;) Hopefully I wasn't too annoying. I didn't have caffeine, so I don't know what was up with that...
When I got home, we watched our Netflix movie: Bruno, with Sacha Baron Cohen. Oh. My. God. Do not see this movie if you have weak sensibilities! Rob thought it was stupid as hell, but I laughed my ass off! He is SO wrong. I mean, don't get me wrong, I thought it was stupid too, but there were many hilarious parts that just had me laughing because I couldn't believe he actually did that! On film! For the whole world to see! What a riot. Have you seen it?
I've been sleeping upstairs in the bed still, with my heating pad on and snuggled up to Rob. Keeps me nice and toasty, but man, I miss my couch. My eyes are always in bad shape from the way I sleep in the bed. All puffy and crusty and gross. Nice, right? Plus I can't stay asleep; I toss and turn and adjust all night. It's not the best sleep. When it warms up, I'm back to my couch, thank you very much.
At ten, I picked up Jack from school, so we could go to our respective doctor's appointments. I had my one-year (!!) post-surgery check-up first, in Newport News, and then his appointment was two hours later in Portsmouth. He was happy to be out with Mama and NOT at school - so long as he didn't have to get any shots. He didn't.
I had been praying all morning about being blessed with abundance, because those places are NOT close together, and would require a lot of gas. I only had an eighth of a tank left, and like I said, not one penny in the bank account. I was hoping for a loaves-and-fishes type miracle. Well, that didn't happen, and my gas went down almost to 'E' by the time we arrived in Newport News. Then I remembered there was still a little money in the CARE Package account. Now, normally I am very carefully about not touching CP money except for CP needs, with no intermingling, even though I use OUR money for CP needs all the time. But I had no choice; I had my son in the car and couldn't afford to just run out of gas in Newport News, so far from home. So, I put $20 worth of gas in the van - which I will pay back tonight since it's payday now, phew - and considered that the blessing I was asking for!
We arrived at 10:30, a half-hour early for my 1100 appointment. So when I was sitting in the waiting area at 11:45 with a very antsy six-year-old boy, I was pretty annoyed. Especially after the receptionist called me up to tell me that my referral had expired on the sixth, and I could either reschedule or try to get a new one, backdated for today's appointment. Or pay out of pocket. Um, no. So now I need to get a backdated referral, which they refused to do last time, because no one in that whole stinking office can figure out how to set up a system for contacting patients to let them know their referral is running out?!?! What the hell? Every other place I go handles that themselves. Or at least lets me know - well in advance - that it's time to get a new one. I made that appointment THREE months ago, which is plenty of time for them to have noticed that I would need to get new insurance paperwork. Shame on them.
I found a suggestion box in the bathroom - which I always use before weighing in, hehe - but nothing to write with. I should have just said something at the desk about it. Very annoying!
Anyway. My appointment went really well. Doc was extremely pleased with my more-than-150-lb loss in the last year (it's actually not my anniversary for 12 more days, so I'll post more pictures then) and congratulated me thoroughly. They only guarantee - and not even really that - a 75-lb loss, so I've done well with his help!
My protein is still on the low side of normal, so as usual I was admonished about that. I've been eating a ton of eggs since my labs were drawn, though, so I'm betting it has come up since then. My iron is still quite low, even though I've been taking the ferrous sulfate, so he prescribed chelated iron, which will be more readily absorbed. And that should help me stay warmer, too. My vitamin D came up nicely, though, at least!
He answered all my questions (and a couple of Jack's), and when I was getting up to leave, I was overcome with gratitude and instead of shaking his hand, I grabbed him for a big hug! He was a bit taken aback by that and kept saying, "Oh! Okay!" and laughing. I thanked him for myself and for Rob, and told him how happy I am now. And I am. It's been great, this past year. I love my RNY (roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery)!
It was late by the time we got out of there, probably about 1225, and Jack's appointment was at 1300, more than half an hour away! I still had to get the gas, so I stopped and did that, and then I stopped next door at the Burger King to get him the free lunch I'd already promised him all the way up there. He was so excited - not by the food, but by the watch in his Kids Meal! He kept telling me the time, which was actually the date and never changed. Funny!
Then I drove like a bat out of hell to make it to the hospital on time. It's pretty sad when I'll drive more carefully with cupcakes in the car than with my kids, so I'm resolving now to do the opposite. I'll just have to consider them my little cupcakes, instead of my little ducklings. We got there late, not getting to the peds office until 1313; they consider you late if you're not there 15 minutes early, so I was worried they wouldn't see us. But they did, so yay!
He needs a new referral to the endocrinologist who prescribes his growth hormone shots, and also he needed his physical form filled out for the school testing he's getting for special services. We spent until 1400 with young Dr. A., a little cutie who I really like (not in THAT way, just as a doctor). He's very patient and attentive, and he really cares about the kids. I kind of sprung the physical form on them without notice, but he was more than willing to get that done for me, so I appreciated that.
Jack will be seven in just over two months. Hard to believe... He weighs 32.4 lbs and is 39.5 inches tall. I said to Dr. A., "Well, he's stil the size of your average two-year-old, huh?" He said, "Yes... but think of it this way, he's the size of a small three-year-old, and a really small four-year-old - isn't that better?"
He failed his vision test again, so I need to take him back to the eye doctor to see if his prescription needs to be adjusted. It's been less than a year since he got his glasses, so I was kind of surprised to see how bad he did! Maybe he just wasn't concentrating enough on the chart?
Otherwise, everything went well, and he's healthy and happy. He was bouncing around, having fun, and cuddling with me at times. A couple of years ago, I didn't even think he liked me at all. I was very sad about that. Things have done a 180, and now we're quite close. It's fantastic!
I was worried about being late for the bus to get the girls, and my phone was dead, so I couldn't call anyone to go get them. So, again, I drove too fast. Just around the corner from our house, a policeman pulled me over for doing 40 in a 25. Eh, oops. I looked right at him as I was passing his unmarked car, and knew he was going to pull me over. Sure enough. I was cringing at the thought of yet another bill to pay the whole time, so I was beyond grateful when he told me that because I have "plus points," he was going to let me off with just a warning. And warn me to slow down, he did. Twice. He also saw Jack in the back seat and examined his carseat to make sure he was buckled properly. Hopefully he didn't notice what a mess the van is right now, but at least the boy was safely harnessed.
When we got home, I was surprised to find Rob in the driveway! He usually doesn't get home until at least 1800, but it was before 1500. Jack was excited to see Daddy, too. He bounded out of the van and ran into the house; I followed, sure that either Rob was sick or there was trouble at work. It was neither (although there WAS trouble at work); he just got off early today! What a nice surprise.
We all walked down, with Lily on her leash, to get the girls from the bus. Jack wanted to drive his Caddy down there, but it doesn't move fast enough. He was so bummed. When all the kids came off the bus, they surrounded the dog and gave her loads of attention. She's so shy, though, I'm not sure she enjoyed that!
Rob and the kids played outside, working on Jack's Pinewood Derby car and driving the trucks around, while I took a nap. I'd planned on an hour-long snooze, but it turned into three hours! Which meant we missed the Parent Reading Night at school. I'm so bummed about that, because the Math Night was so fun and informative. Darn it. I really, really wanted to go.
And now I have to pay the bills before I get back to sleep. Happy Friday, everyone!