Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crazy Savings at CVS

So, about 3 months ago, I decided to embark on the world of couponing. I have always made excuses for why I couldn't, wouldn't or shouldn't do it ~ takes too much time, won't save me any money, they don't have coupons for the stuff I buy, etc. But, Corey and I really needed to trim our budget, and after visiting a few couponing websites, I thought I would give it a try. Since then, I have seen some SERIOUS savings ~ cutting both my grocery bill and baby supplies expense in half :) I have had a few friends ask to share some tips on how I am doing it and my blog seemed like the most logical option. So, here you go!

Today, I thought I would share about CVS because I got a great deal on diapers there today, and I don't know too many of my friends that wouldn't like a little savings in that department :)

I don't know about you, but I like step-by-step instructions, so to make it simple, I thought I would number this post - so its not just paragraph after paragraph.

1. First of all, if you are thinking about couponing, I would recommend visiting ~ fantastic website with How-To's on all the stores, coupon policies, and the weekly sale items with coupon match-ups. And, I would recommend starting off slowly and then getting more advanced as you see success.

Some people shop both Walgreen's and CVS, but since I am new to this, I decided to just focus on one and found better deals at CVS. Just to be clear, I still shop Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods for all of my grocery needs. I primarily buy my baby supplies and toiletries from CVS.

2. Go to and sign up for their Extra Care card, AND sign up for their email list. This is the ticket to super savings. They will immediately email you a $4 off $20 coupon just for signing up and then will periodically email you more - I have been getting about 1 a month.

3. CVS runs their sales from Sunday to Saturday, so check the couponing websites or the Sunday sale papers to see what their sales are. The best deals are the ones that give you ECB's or Extra Care Bucks. Basically, this is money back after your transaction that you can apply to your next transaction.

CVS will allow you to do multiple transactions in one visit. So, as an example, let's say you want to buy Crest Toothpaste for $2.99 and has $2 ECB and Listerine that is $1,.99 and has no ECB's. Buy your Crest in your 1st transaction and then use your $2 ECB towards your Listerine purchase, which you will get for FREE!!

4. Figure out what you plan to buy, coupon match-ups, and your transactions before you go - this will save you time and frustration in the store.

5. Go shopping!! When you get to the store, be sure to stop by their red coupon kiosk. When you scan your card it will print off additional in-store coupons for you to use, either on that trip or a later one.

I want to finish by sharing my example from today, so you can see how good the savings can be. The Pampers Jumbo pack of diapers (36 per bag) were on sale for 2/$18. I had $4 ECB's left over from last week, a $2 off Pampers coupon (manufacturer coupon) and a $2 off Pampers coupon that I had printed off the kiosk last week (store coupon). So, I walked out of the store with 72 diapers for $11, which averages out to about $.15 per diaper!! I was one happy Momma!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back at it Again

So, they say that the 3rd times the charm ~ I guess we'll see. I have decided to start back blogging once again, and hopefully I'll have better luck this time than the last two.

I really love blogging - it is very therapeutic - but, it seems to get put on the back burner when things get hectic. I read somewhere that you have to do something 21 times before it becomes a habit. So my goal this time is to write 21 posts and hopefully by that point it will be like second nature.

So, I hope you'll follow me as I navigate the highs and lows of being a stay-at-home wife and Mom! And, I hope you enjoy the new layout and name ~ decided to start with something fresh this go round!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time to Organize

So typically I am not a fan of New Year's resolutions. But, this year, I decided to set one - figured it would be something to help hold me accountable! So my resolution is to declutter and have a yard sale!! I guess that is actually two, but who's counting!!

If you know me, then you know I am extremely organized ~ probably to a fault. So, if you walk in my house on any given day, you would think I have it all together. But, what you don't see is the monster that lives in all of my storage places.

We currently have an unfinished upstairs, which is a good thing. But, it seems to be the catch all for everything and throughout the year can get pretty crazy. So, I decided that every January I am going to have a purge session!! If I haven't used it in the last year or can't find a reason to save it for a future use, then it is out of here!! And then in March I am going to have a yard sale to get rid of it all!!

So, I started on this last weekend, with the help of my wonderful hubby!! We started by organizing the attic into sections - one is for things we want to store long-term, but don't need to access (momentos, stuff for a future home, etc.). The other section is stuff that we need to get to on a regular basis, but doesn't have a place downstairs (Christmas decorations, kids clothing/toys that we need to keep for future little ones, hunting gear, etc). And, finally is our yard sale section. That way when we started with the downstairs, we new which section to take things to.

Then I began at one end of the house and moved through it, cleaning out every drawer, cabinet, or closet. I re-organized the contents, removing anything that we didn't need or use anymore. Those items then either got trashed or put in the yard sale pile!! Other than mine and Corey's closet, we got through the entire house!! It was a weekend of hard work, but felt so good once it was done!!

So, now if I can just keep it this way throughout the year!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Oakes Family Fall Festival

For those of you that know me, you know that I come from a pretty big family. My mom is one of 6 kids and all of them, with the exception of my Aunt Bobbie, live within about 30 minutes of each other. So, needless to say, our family is very close. Over the last 4 or 5 years all of my cousins have gotten married and started having children, so our family has expanded significantly. When we all get together, we have about 40 adults and about 15 kids, so we have alot of fun!! About 4 years ago my Mom started a tradition of having a fall festival for the whole family and over the years it has grown into quite the event.

This year it was held at my Uncle Jesse and Aunt Deb's house in Snow Hill. We cooked hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill and had all sorts of games ~ pony rides, hay rides, doughnut eating contest, pumpkin carving contest, apple bobbing, etc. I don't know who has more fun ~ the kids or the adults.

Corey and Riley carved her pumpkin before we went, because we learned the first year that it takes way too much time to do it at the party! We were so proud ~ Riley's pumpkin won first prize!!

Riley also decided to try the doughnut eating contest and the sack race for the first time! The doughnuts are tied to a string and you have to eat it without using your hands. Riley tried about two times to do without her hands, got frustrated and just grabbed a hold and started eating! It was hilarious! So, she unfortunately didn't win, but I think she still enjoyed the doughnut!! Then when it was time for the sack race, she had the jumping part down, but couldn't figure out how to move forward, so she just stayed in place!! She got the hang of it though after we showed her what to do!

By far the most fun Riley had was the pony rides! She loves horses, so she was super excited to get to ride one! We had a lot of great pictures, but I think the one below is the best. This is Riley with her cousin Hailey, my brother's daughter that is only 3 weeks younger than her!

To finish off the day, my brother took everyone for a hay ride around my Uncle Jesse's farm - it was a great way to end an awesome party!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

3-D Vision

No matter how many times he does it, I am always amazed at how the Lord knows exactly what we need to hear and when we need it. As I have shared before, I have had a challenging couple of months adjusting to life as a Mommy of two. While Georgia has been a great night sleeper, she just can't quite get the hang of napping, which throws a major kink in my seriously Type A lifestyle!! So, week after week I tried everything I could think of to help her nap - put her down earlier, put her down later, CIO, etc. - all to no avail. I finally gave up and just decided to stick to a eat, awake, sleep cycle, no matter how short it was. And instead of reading any of my "sleep" books, I just laid it all at the Lord's feet. But, then I began to get frustrated because I felt like he wasn't answering my prayers. Day after day I would come before him, crying out for help, and yet there was no answer and no reprieve.

So, the Sunday before last, we were in church, and Pastor Mike spoke about 3-D vision, and boy was it what I needed to hear. He spoke about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and how when Jesus arrived, Martha said to him, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died," as if he had arrived too late. This is where the first D comes in - Delay. The Lord often delays answering our prayers because he wants to lead us to a place of Development (the 2nd D). He is not denying our request, however, he wants to increase our ability to trust in him - can we wait or are we going to try to take matters into our own hands. And lastly, the 3rd D, is Deliverance. The Lord will deliver us from whatever it is we are walking through, but it will be on his timing. In the case of Lazarus, it appeared to Mary that Jesus was too late, because her brother had been dead for 4 days when he arrived. But, that wasn't the case, he delayed coming to develop a greater trust in Mary, and then ultimately his deliverance comes when Lazarus is raised from the dead.

Each day presents new challenges, but I know that the Lord is doing a great work in me and that my deliverance is ahead!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Answered Prayer

So, I have had every intention of keeping my blog updated, but I think I underestimated how challenging being a mother of 2 would be. These little ones are keeping me busy so I don't have as much time as I would like to blog, but I know this is just a season, and soon enough more time will come!!

But, today I am lucky because both girls are sleeping at the same time - Praise Jesus!! So, I thought I would share about a huge answer to our prayers.

On September 7th I took Georgia in for her 2 month check up. I assumed everything would be routine, but towards the end of our visit, Nancy, our PA, asked if I had noticed anything wrong with Georgia's left arm. She thought that it was looking weaker than her right and she wasn't fisting like she did with her right. The only thing I had noticed was that her hand turned in slightly, but I figured it was just an awkward newborn thing that would go away as she grew. So, then Dr. Stewart comes in and says she is concerned as well - that there seemed to be less muscle definition and obvious weakness in that arm. They suggested we go to East Carolina Neurology for further observation. Needless to say, I left their in tears, worried that my sweet little girl had something serious going on.

They scheduled us an appt with East Carolina Neuro for September 20, and then physical therapy for September 27. So, Corey and I began praying that the Lord would heal her harm before she ever went for these follow up visits. And, as no surprise, at both appointments they couldn't find anything wrong with her arm!! We will follow back up in a few weeks just to be for sure, but we are praising God for healing our sweet girl!!

As a side note, Dr. Stewart happened to see me swaddle Georgia as we were wrapping up our visit. I use the "Miracle Swaddler" blanket, as many other moms do. She was appalled that they recommend swaddling their arms at their side, instead of across their chest. She was even concerned that swaddling Georgia that way could have caused whatever was going on with her arm, because it was pulling it to an unnatural position, and may have stressed a nerve or something. So, when I met with the physical therapist, I showed it to her and asked her about it and she agreed that a baby should never be swaddled with their arms at their side, but across their chest. So, I am still using the "Miracle Swaddler" blanket, but am now positioning Georgia's arms across her chest when I wrap.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

While I'm Waiting

Today I had a brief moment of alone time in the car. My mom was here for the morning and I ran to the post office to mail birth announcements. While I was in the car, the Lord totally spoke to me through a song. What' s funny is that I typically listen to the country music stations if I ever get control of the radio. But, today I flipped to the Christian music station, and within a few minutes the perfect song came on for me.

As I have talked about in some of my previous posts, Georgia has been giving me a lot of trouble with her naps. She will sleep for about 45 minutes and then wake up and cry the rest of her nap. I started CIO (Cry It Out) with Georgia at 2 weeks because I saw how beneficial it was for Riley to learn to soothe her self to sleep. Riley picked up on it fairly quickly and I saw progress almost immediately. But, Georgia seems to be more of a challenge. She doesn't cry for long going down for her nap, but she just can't seem to soothe herself back to sleep if she wakes up. So, I am sure all of you mom's out there can understand how I am feeling. Although I know CIO is the best thing for her, it is not easy to hear my sweet girl cry.

So, I have been crying out to the Lord for the last 6 weeks asking for some reprieve. So far, this hasn't happened and I have found myself growing frustrated.

So back to the song that I heard in the car. The name of the song is "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller and it goes something like this:
"While I'm waiting, I will serve you; while I'm waiting, I will worship;
while I'm waiting, I will not faint; I'll be running the race, even while I wait."
It was exactly what I needed to hear. Instead of disengaging I should press in even more. The Lord's will is sovereign so if he is having me wait, then he has a reason. I just have to trust in His plan more than my own.

Hoping this song ministers to you as much as it did me.