Monday, June 30, 2008

Keys to the kingdom

I'm glad Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom and not us--we'd probably lose them!

Tonight the boys were playing "pizza delivery" on their scooters, with the back shed as the store. One of them pushed the button and locked the door behind them...and we have no idea where the key is for that door. It's probably inside the shed itself, as we've never had a reason to lock it. The irony is Patrick spent the day arranging and organizing the shed, and now we can't get in!

It makes me wonder, what else do I have keys for that I've locked myself out of, just by losing the keys? Jesus has promised us lots of great stuff, and sometimes, I think the biggest obstacle is myself.

Help us find the keys, Lord--both to the shed and to your Kingdom and its power here on earth.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Travelogue part 2: Celestun

Saturday we went to Celestun, an estuary where flamingos, other birds and tons of seafoood live.

We were picked up by a tour van, then picked up three other individuals--another American and two women from Spain. The ride to Celestun was twisting and turning, but our tour guide Antonio did a good job of telling us about the towns we were going through (including his hometown, Uman). Antonio went on the boat ride with us, and did a great job telling us about what we were seeing, and it was fun to hear it in two different languages. Patrick was hooked at the cormorants in a row--he wasn't sure he wanted to go, but he was hooked. The flamingos were so graceful--they looked like they were skating through the water, and they were beautiful in flight.

We went through some mangroves too, first by boat and then on a small trail. There was a small cenote (natural spring) in the middle, but it was so mosquito ridden, that we all made a beeline back to the boat!

We then went into the small town and had lunch at one of the hotels on the beach. For "tour group food" it was great! Then we had some free time on the beach--there were TONS of shells--so many that it was hard to walk. We collected a bunch to bring home for the kids. The water was very shallow--in nearby Progresso, the pier goes out 5 miles to get to a depth where the cruise ships can navigate.

The return trip was uneventful, though Antonio told us about a free concert that evening that sounded interesting. So we returned to the B&B, showered, and went looking for the concert, without success. We had asked one of the assistants at the B&B for a dinner recommendation, and decided to try it out. The food was awful, but the singers were great! We did stop by an Oxxo (7-11 type) and got some snacks, then headed back to bed. A long but fun day!

Island of misfit toys

We had an all church picnic today. In true RVC style, it threatened to rain (in the pre-service days, I think it rained or threatened to at every gathering!) Maybe it was because no one else from our life group was there (nap time + softball + vacation + moving), but I distinctly felt like we/I don't fit there. It's definitely a group of young, cool, beautiful people, and I'm none of the above.

So guess instead of Patrick and I having re-entry, I'm having church re-entry. It probably doesn't help that I haven't actually been to the service in several weeks (out of town last week, I was teaching this week and the two weeks before, and I couldn't get everyone out of the house on time for 1st service). Everyone is friendly, but I just don't fit. Not that I'd fit better anywhere else. I love doing kids' church and all the kids, but I'm not a toothpick, early twenties, "in group" person. We (at least I) should not be leading a life group--we have the slowest growing (currently a negative growth rate, with people moving) group.

Thanks for the reminder, God, that we're not supposed to fit anywhere here on earth.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Travelogue, part 1

So a week ago Wednesday, we hung out with the kids in the morning (and finished packing), had their favorite lunch (Steak and Shake, on the barstools), then dropped them off at a friends' house. They've spent a lot of time there, so they pretty much said "bye, Mom" and were off playing.

We made it to the airport just on time and checked a couple of bags (a rare thing for us). Luckily we were flying on Continental, who is not charging for checked baggage. They also still serve food--we usually fly NW, who only serves beverages without charge.

We arrived in Merida around 10 pm, then waited in a huge line for Immigration. We were behind an American who has a vacation home there, so she gave us suggestions of what to do in Merida. Behind us was a group of teenagers on a mission trip. An hour later, we pushed the button to see if we'd be inspected at customs (nope), and went to find Roberto, the driver who was picking us up.

Roberto was easy to pick out--he was taller than most Mexicans...and he only has one arm :) He quickly recognized us and we were off to Casa Santiago. We chatted with Frank for a while, and discovered that his son went to the rival college! Small world...(it'll get smaller in a subsequent episode...)

Our room was nice, but it was a little disconcerting--totally unplugged! No TV, no internet, no radio, not even an alarm clock! Luckily (?) the birds were wide awake at 5:30, so there was no chance of oversleeping.

Friday morning we got up, enjoyed our continental breakfast, then set off to explore Merida. Dante, one of the assistants at the B&B, tried to help us get a SIM card for Patrick's phone--but even though we had it "unlocked" before we left, it didn't work. So limited phone time with the kids, since without a Mexican card, we were roaming at $0.99/min plus fees...

First we checked out our neighborhood, including changing money, Santiago Park and some local shopping. Patrick bought a lightweight shirt called a "Guayabera", and I got a female version. We also got Panama hats after several stores, were very much well used. We checked out the Macay, a modern art museum,
as well as the Anthropological museum. By then it was raining (well, pouring), so after changing more money (did I mention it's a cash society? Credit card acceptance was rare.) and catching some of a Lord of the Rings movie(the line was very slow at the bank), we took a taxi back to our hotel (we were about two miles away by now).

For dinner, we hit Casa de Frida, and discovered a favorite--chilis en nogada. Basically it's a poblano (not spicy) pepper stuffed with meat, rice, and fruits with a pecan sauce. The duck in mole sauce was great too.

By then we were past tired (as I am now),

Friday, June 27, 2008

We're back!

We're about an unplugged vacation! No phone, internet (except the 10 min limit at the conference twice), or even TV at the first B&B. It was very nice :) The kids had a great time, but were more than happy to see us. I'll probably do a travelogue over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few pics...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bloggy break

We´re in Mexico, so I´ll be on bloggy break until June 30th (no internet, tv or phone where we´re staying; talk about unplugged!). I think I have enough wordless wednesdays for the next couple of years, though...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wordless Wednesday--Strawberry picking

Too bad they weren't very sweet (the strawberries, that is...)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Top ten signs my experiment today probably didn't work

I rarely talk about work on here, so for a change of pace, I will :) I've been trying to characterize how (or if??) two proteins interact with each other using a yeast two hybrid system. Basically, you put tags on the DNA for the two proteins you want to study, then put the DNA into yeast cells. *If* you feed the yeast the right food AND the proteins interact, the yeast turn blue. If they don't interact, the yeast stay white. I'm putting the second set of DNA in now. I'll try and translate into cooking terms...

1. I didn't have enough of one of the DNAs I want to test (I ran out of flour).
2. My buffered lithium acetate was missing the buffer.
3. The carrier DNA stuck together as a blob instead of mixing into the samples (the butter is still in a big chunk in the bottom of the bowl).
4. I ran out of plates (not enough cookie sheets).
5. I'm not sure how long I heat shocked them (I either over or underbaked them).
6. When I scaled back the experiment to accomodate #1 and #4, I forgot one of the controls (oops, forgot the chocolate chips...though I have some of that combo from a previous experiment).
7. H&H were "helping" me with the final step.
8. Four and a half hours of sleep is not enough for me.
9. I'm going on vacation and would like to be done with this before I leave. The more you want it to work, the less likely it is.
10. Most of the time, research just doesn't work!

But you have to be an optimist to be a scientist...and sometimes the "oops" experiments work out better than you expect!

Paperwork in order

Passports, meeting registration, e-tickets...check.
Will, medical release forms...check.
Reservations for places to stay...check.
Places for the kids to stay...check.
Itinerary...mostly check (somewhat flexible, but there is a general plan).
Packing...gotta do laundry first.

Being ready to go on a trip...not even close! It's as much mental as anything. It's a long time to be gone from the kids, and while I know they'll have a blast at friends' house and grandma's, I'm going to miss them! It's strange leaving all these permissions--medical release forms and making sure all the legal stuff is in order. Not the kind of stuff you want to think about, but need to.

And my calendar is completely out of whack, since Monday was "Sunday part II". Hope I don't forget to go to my haircut appt tomorrow afternoon!

So if the blogging is thin, that's why...I might schedule some posts, but we'll see how packing and everything else goes!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ten things you should know about the Strawberry Festival

It's Strawberry Festival weekend! It's a fun time in the "big" city--if you live close, I hope you'll join us sometime--we're always up for another funnel cake :) I know it's not Tuesday, but here are some tips...

1. The best place to park is at our house. Pretty much you won't get closer without pain.
2. BYO water bottle. We'll have our fridge stocked if you need one!
3. Tickets for food are 50 cents each--prices range from 1 ticket (cheap drinks) to 24 tickets (a whole pumpkin roll).
4. If you don't want water, Mt. Zion has iced tea for 1 ticket, and Tri-Kappa has cans of soda for 1 ticket.
5. The grounds are non-smoking--yipee!
6. If you actually want to eat strawberries, try the tractor people's "the works"--cake, ice cream and strawberries for $4 (just outside the grounds, so it's cash). The ice cream is homemade, and cranked by an old time tractor--worth watching while you eat.
7. BYO chair if you want to enjoy the entertainment.
8. There are picnic tables and hand washing facilities.
9. One of the churches in town usually does a free drawing for a great playhouse. Definitely register.
10. If you only eat one thing, it should be Norvell's BBQ--it's what we ate 11 years ago our wedding rehearsal dinner! We sent my uncle down here to pick it up. Somehow he found Norvell and got the food back...dinner was only an hour late :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Lots to be thankful for this week:

--Our insurance is NOT dropping the local hospital (at least that's the word on the street). Yipee! That means not driving an hour for a 5 minute OB appt (or to deliver the baby) for the next five months!

--Henry has made fast friends with the boys upstairs.

--Henry is very excited about the summer reading program (at least he was until I got on him for drawing all over his record card). He's been wanting to read books left and right (so he can check off another box)--and they haven't all been easy readers. Yesterday morning it was a Bible story book, and the only words he got hung up on where Philistines and threw...not bad for not having started school yet!

--I got a new camera (with a lens that opens--mine died) and Patrick got a 3D lens to go on my work SLR camera.

--The kids (especially Harmony) are getting excited about going to Grandma's house while we're in Mexico.

--Jen's family had a good time on their vacation, and are back--we missed them!

--For a great strawberry crop this year.

--Harmony did a beautiful job in her dance recital (much better than the rehearsal). We'll definitely be sticking with that studio if she decides to continue--there were several pieces set to distinctly Christian music, and she prayed with the girls before the show.

--That Patrick and I have flexible jobs, so we can take time to go strawberry picking (pictures later :)) or just hang out with the kids.

--That even though Patrick has gone to part time work, somehow we're still able to afford everything--we haven't cut back our tithe, mortgage payment (we pay a payment and a half every month), or child care spending (the three biggest "chunks" of our budget--though we have been more careful with groceries, eating out and gas (woo hoo to not commuting as much!)).

Thanks, Lord for providing good friends, jobs, and abundantly giving to us. Help us be good stewards of all of it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yup, that's me...

Works for Me Wednesday--Parenting

Parenting is hard. You're on 24/7, and the "instruction manual" is lacking details (I don't recall the Bible discussing potty training). And if you mess up, you mess up someone's life--not something to take lightly.

One thing that's helped us is parenting partners. When Henry was 2 and Harmony was a newborn (and for the next year or so), we regularly hung out with the neighbors across the street. Since we've been back from sabbatical, we've done a lot with Jen's family, and more recently, the family who lives upstairs.

What's great is that we have someone to share frustrations with, bounce ideas off of, and trade childcare. For example, last night we had seven kids at our house--our two plus Jen and Charlie's girls and the boys upstairs. The kids had a great time, and it allowed the parents to do important things without helpers. (Believe me, we've had our share of kid free time in return!) Sometimes kids will listen to another trusted adult more than their own parent, and if we can help foster those relationships with people we know and trust (instead of with a stranger down the street, who we may or may not agree with), all the better!

Things that help make it work:

1. Kids of similar age. They don't have to be *exactly* the same age, but similar enough that they play together.
2. Similar parenting philosophies and strategies. Once again, they don't have to be exactly the same, but they're similar enough and compatible enough that we have common ground rules.
3. Similar schedules. The family we used to hang out with, we don't spend as much time with them because their life is on an earlier schedule (they're heading to bed when we're heading out to play).
4. Geographic proximity. Henry is loving having the boys live upstairs (though it may be a little TOO close--they want to play every second of every day!)

So what works for you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One more strike, and I'm outta here

Last night, I went to bed too late. Then I woke up at 4 because Patrick still wasn't in bed. Henry fell out of bed and hurt himself at 5:30, then crawled in with us...I never sleep well with three in the bed and the cat was climbing all over me, so at 6:15 I moved to Henry's bed. 7:20 and Henry's rarin' to go for the day...ugh.

When I'm tired I make stupid mistakes. I have a lot of experimental stuff planned for today, so that's a bad combo. My new policy is when I've made the third stupid mistake, I call it a day and go home...start over tomorrow.

I'm already on number 2...I forgot the kids' lunches when we went to school (strike 1!), then I forgot my keys (why do maternity clothes not have pockets?? Strike 2!) Wanna take bets on how much longer I last?

Monday, June 9, 2008

CVS victory

So I may have failed Menu Planning this week, but I passed at CVS :)

I went this afternoon and got:

2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios (3/$9)
2 boxes of Lucky Charms (3/$9) (The kids will love me)
2 boxes of Fruity Cheerios (3/$9)
1 box of Nature Valley Almond bars (3/$9)
4 SoyJoy bars ($1 each)

Total: $25.00

$5 off of $25 (got on a previous order; I've also gotten from the machines)
2x0.60 off HN Cheerios (Printable here)
$1/3 GM cereals (From newspaper, I don't recall the dates)
$.65 off Nature Valley bars (Printable here)
BOGO SoyJoy from All You (March or April?)

After coupons: $15.15

Paid with: 11.97 of previously earned ECBs
Out of pocket: 3.18

Earned: $10 ECBs for later

So considering ECBs as real money, I got 7 boxes of cereal and a box plus four snack bars for 5.15. Less than a buck a box! You can see other people's CVS runs at

Menu planning Monday....a failure

I know that if I don't have a plan, it spells bad news for the week. And I don't have a plan. There is tons of food in the house, but I have no clue what we're eating...other than working on stuff from the freezer and trying to not eat out.

So if you're inspired, send some my way!

L: Harmony got leftover mac and cheese, Henry got a ham sandwich. They both got cantalope, strawberries, and chocolate milk.
D: Homemade Pizza (we made two, as we had two extra kids for dinner)

L: Leftover pizza, fruit, veggies and milk
D: Breakfast (I have tons of eggs and bacon that needs to be used)

Wednesday: (Here's where we run into trouble...)
L: Grilled cheese, veggies
D: Curry chicken with veggies and couscous?

L: Remaining pizza
D: Some kind of pasta with salad

L: ??
D: Strawberry festival!

L: Strawberry festival!
D: Middle eastern dinner party at a work colleague's

So if you're feeling inspired, send some my way...Though the Strawberry Festival gets us off the hook a little...we got $5 free per person from work, but that's not going to even be close. At least I know where our eating out budget is going this week :) I think I'll be reading everyone else's menu plans for some ideas!

Melodic Monday--The Ants go Marching

In honor/memory of the ants that tried to invade our kitchen (ha! I won! Vinegar works!), living room (it's not all out war yet) and bathroom (why are they in the bathroom??) to get out of the rain...

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to suck his thumb
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two,
The little one stops to tie his shoe
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching three by three,
The little one stops to climb a tree
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching four by four,
The little one stops to shut the door
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching five by five, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching five by five, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching five by five,
The little one stops to take a dive
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching six by six, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching six by six, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching six by six,
The little one stops to pick up sticks
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching seven by seven, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching seven by seven, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching seven by seven,
The little one stops to pray to heaven
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching eight by eight, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching eight by eight, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching eight by eight,
The little one stops to shut the gate
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching nine by nine, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching nine by nine, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching nine by nine,
The little one stops to check the time
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

The ants go marching ten by ten, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching ten by ten, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching ten by ten,
The little one stops to say "THE END"

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
1. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
2. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
3. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

Q. What were you doing 5 years ago today?
1. Doing research with summer students
2. Marveling that Henry could walk
3. Listening to Henry's first word, flower (wha-wha--very Boston)
4. Demoing what is now our bedroom (used to be a kitchen)
5. Wondering when I'd finish the quilt I'd started

Q. 5 things on your to do list today (well, Monday)
1- Finish the learning objectives for a case study I want to publish
2- Find some books I want to check out for my Freshman Tutorial on InterLibrary Loan
3- Start a bunch of stuff for my experiments on Tuesday
4- Go to Walgreens and CVS
5- Figure out a menu plan for the week

Q. 5 snacks you enjoy
1- Double chocolate oatmeal cookies
2- Peanut butter rice crispie bars with chocolate frosting
3- Take5 candy bars
4- my version of strawberry smoothies
5- popcorn (plain, airpopped if I'm being good; SmartFood if I'm not :))

Q. 5 things you would do if you were a billionaire
1- Build RVC a new church facility
2- Pay off our house and hire people to finish it
3- Set up an endowment for some favorite charities
4- Stay at home, home school (maybe in a coop) and write children's church curriculum
5- Have a lot of fun randomly giving money away

Q. 5 jobs you have had
1- Library aide
2- Community ed instructor (foods classes for kids)
3- Sample lady/costume character for a grocery store
4- Grant writer's assistant
5- Professor

Q. 5 people you want to tag
1- Jen/Blessings
2- Jen/Mexican Masala
3- Jan/Midsummer Meanderings
4- Kelsey
5- Mindy

Friday, June 6, 2008

Harmony's dress rehearsal

It was the first time on the "big stage". They did well at the beginning, but lost it after the "running with ribbons" part...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Learning another language

In less than two weeks, Patrick and I will be in Mexico, sans kids. I've had one semester of Spanish in college and two years of French in high school--just enough of both to confuse them. And Patrick knows enough Spanish to request the table by the window at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

But I don't think that's going to suffice for the three days we'll be touring on our own there, so I've been working on learning some more Spanish.

What I find interesting is that they teach you how to ask the question--"Donde esta el cuarto de baƱo?" but not how to understand the answer. I have no idea what the response would be--how do you say, "The third door down the hall, on the left hand side?" Maybe we'll need to hire a translator!

Isn't that true in our prayer life too--we're awfully good at asking for things, but pretty poor in hearing the answer. Good thing we've got a translator, the Holy Spirit.

Lord, help me to listen as well as talk when I pray. And thanks for sending us the "great translator", the Holy Spirit, who can speak our language as well as yours. Help us listen and obey.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thankful Thursday--Protection

Psalm 5:11:
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

This week I'm thankful for protection and provision.

Thanks for protection from the tornadoes and thunderstorms.
Thanks for Your protection, as we hiked on trails immediately after a storm.
Thanks for protecting this pregnancy.
Thanks that you will provide a substitute for me at work, so I can actually take a maternity leave (unlike the two weeks I took with both previous kids).
Thanks that you are working out where we can have this baby--if not here, at the place you want us to.
Thanks for the opportunity to share our house with another family--Henry has been so blessed by playing with their boys!
Thanks that Harmony is loving her dance class--help her to still love the idea of being on stage when she's on it next week.

Thanks for Iris and all the other praises raised through Thankful Thursday!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Top ten signs you might actually be pregnant

10. Your running pace goes down by a minute a mile every two or three weeks.
9. Strange foods suddenly sound great.
8. None of your summer shorts fit.
7. Snacks are a requirement, not an option.
6. Your shirts are suddenly too short.
5. The floor got further away.
4. You can't sleep on your stomach anymore.
3. You're not supposed to sleep on your back.
2. You have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
1. Strangers ask when you're due.

Guess we better tell the kids soon :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Menu planning Monday

Well, it's legally still Monday for a few more hours! And if I don't get a plan, we'll be in trouble soon. Right now we're dealing with hiking trip left overs--specifically bread and ham (the packages were open, so we couldn't donate them). We also have four open containers of peanut butter (I brought new jars from our stash at home to the hiking trip) and eighteen eggs. So mission #1 is to use up that stuff! We'll be eating lots of strawberries, since they're ripening right in our front yard!

L: Ham sandwiches, watermelon (the end!) and pudding
D: French toast, bacon, strawberries and chocolate pudding

L: Left over french toast, fruit, milk
D: Sausage, green beans and potatoes; salad; strawberries

L: Mac cheese for Harmony, hot dogs, apples,
D: Monte Cristo sandwiches, strawberries,

L: Ham or PBJ sandwiches, salad, apples
D: Patrick's in charge :)

L: Kid's choice
D: Pasta

Saturday (Harmony's recital)
L: Grilled cheese, salad, fruit
D: Probably out with the grandparents

What's on your menu? For ideas, visit MPM!

F/U to Melodic Monday

...and right after I typed the last post, I opened my e-mail, and the devotional from Proverbs31 started this way:

“She’s choking!” Juli’s precious little girl could not catch her breath, so with stealth-like maneuvering Juli pulled her from the high chair, and retrieved the goldfish cracker that was lodged in her throat. For the first eleven months of life this child had only known gentleness from her mother, but today’s crisis called for swift, if not exactly gentle, action. Juli spent the next 45 minutes consoling her quivering baby, all the while she trembled herself realizing how close she’d come to losing her.

Sometimes the Lord treats us the same way. He rescues us from certain danger and yet we see it as the most painful event of our lives! I look back on my life and see moments I deemed devastating, only to discover later they were actually life-giving.

Thanks for the reminder, God, that you're looking at a much bigger picture than I am!

Melodic Monday--Mighty to Save

Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
A kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

It's hard for me not to cry every time we sing this song. During the first, missed miscarriage we were studying the passage where Jesus says if you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could move a mountain. We specifically prayed for a mountain to be moved, and it didn't budge.

That's still hard for me to process. Is my faith (and the faith of all the people in our life group at the time) really smaller than a mustard seed? Will God really show up when I need Him? Will He really conquer the grave for me?

It does just trigger a faith crisis for me. I know God has used the situation to grow me in lots of directions and He was very present in the process, blah, blah, blah. It still hurts. I'm having a hard time attaching to this pregnancy, and it's partially because I don't believe that it's really going to result in a live baby. Why should it? The last two haven't. This pregnancy has had a lot less prayer than either of those.

Guess that's why there is the last verse...all I can do is surrender.

Whatever, God. Whatever. Take me as you find me, all my fears and failures. Fill my life again.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The "drugstore game"--rookie edition

I'm relatively new to the "drugstore game"--though I've been playing at Walgreens for a while. The "game" is by combining in store deals, like extra care bucks (ECB's; at CVS) or rebates and register rewards (RR's; at Walgreens), you can get household supplies, personal care items, and sometimes groceries for pennies. (For a great tutorial, check out this site.) The deals aren't quite as sweet at Walgreens, but I like that you get the money back on a gift card instead of as pieces of register paper, that you then need to keep track of and use before they expire (usually within a month--the gift cards are good for a year, I think).

But I started dabbling in CVS this week. I'm not a die-hard, "get out of the store for pennies" person--I'm mostly happy with getting a good deal on something I'd buy anyway.

So here are my two transactions tonight:
#1: Baby stuff (stocking up, both for us and for shower gifts):
2 size 1 Pampers, 56 ct, on sale for 7.99 each = 15.98
2 unscented Pampers wipes, on sale for 2.99 = 5.98
1 Huggies baby wash = 3.49
Total before anything: = 25.45
Plus tax 1.22
Grand total: 27.67
$5 of $25 CVS coupon - 5.00
2 $2/2 pampers products coupons (today's paper) - 4.00
$1 Huggies baby wash coupon - 1.00
$3 ECB bucks from earlier - 3.00

Out of pocket (oop) total 13.67

$5 ECB on $20 Pampers products - 5.00
$2 ECB on Huggies baby wash - 2.00

So including coupons and ECBs earned (prorated), I spent 10.25 for 112 diapers. That's a little cheaper than the generics I used for Henry, and are more attractive in a gift bag :) And the Baby wash ended up being only $0.50--some people would hold out for free, but I'm ok with a "good deal".

I then went back and used the ECBs I had just earned for a second transaction--Patrick desperately needs a new toothbrush, we're out of AA batteries and almost out of Charmin. I know we could get better prices with generic, but we do have some brand loyalty, especially to Charmin :)

3 Oral B toothbrushes (regularly 2.99) 1.77x3= 5.31
2 Charmin 9 packs (normally $6.99) 4.99*2= 9.98
1 16 pk AA batteries (same $/battery as the sale)11.99

Total before taxes 27.28
Tax 1.07
Grand total 28.35

$5 off of $25 CVS coupon -5.00
Duracell peel off coupon -2.50
2 Charmin coupons -0.50
Buy 2 get one free Oral B coupon -1.77
ECBs from last transaction -7.00

OOP 11.58
Earned $10 ECBs

So although I spent $25.25 and $3 ECBs, I earned $10 in ECBs (net), and all the stuff I bought is stuff we can use. And $18 for all of that isn't bad at all, in my long as I spend the $10 ECBs on stuff we need!

It's definitely a game--if you don't enjoy figuring out scenarios and being prepared to either show up at the crack of dawn (I actually went to Walgreens the other morning at 4 am...but it was because I couldn't sleep!) or have the really great deals be out, it's not for you. But it is a good way to save $$ on basic household supplies! If you'd like to see how the pros play, check out the Money Saving Mom's blog--she often has people report on their latest game strategies.