Surviving and Thriving On a Long Journey With A Toddler

Here are a few photos from our journey to the Big D two weekends ago. The portable DVD player was just what we had hoped for, it truly made it a survivable trip with a toddler. Michael was spellbound and able to tolerate 8 hours on the road. Mom just had to ride in the back to make sure that the player was loaded, videos changed timely and kept running. He only broke down for the last five minutes of the trip.

David and I also took the time to make a few more stops than we typically do. It's amazing how you also spot a cute park, one that you have never seen before over several journeys, when you have a toddler to entertain.

We highly recommend the park in Silverton, TX if you are ever going through Silverton, it is right off of the main highway through town... We stopped there on the way home as well and I think our 15 year old Kenneth had more fun than anyone on the swings and rides. Sorry, no photos from that excursion too tired...

A Muddy Morning

I don't know if they erected this fence to protect the new bushes from the dogs or Michael, but it doesn't seem to be working...
Now, he wants a hug!!!

A mud puddle, um um good....
Michael making and sampling his mud pies...
I am able to upload a few photos this afternoon, someone is sleeping very soundly after his very adventurous morning in the backyard, playing with mud. It truly is one of Michael favorite activities. Gotta' love it.

Amanda's Graduation, A Good Day!!!

Happy Graduate

Donnie and Amanda, the proud husband and wife

Melanie and Amanda

Amanda, Proud Dad and Tired Michael

Uncle John and Jeremy

It was a very full trip, 16 hours on the road round trip, but well worth the effort.

Amanda graduated from University of Texas at Arlington with her Bachelors in Education and is set to be an elementary teacher in Waco. Couldn't be more proud, she is really excited about her career as a teacher!!! We were able to stay with our youngest daughter Melanie for a few nights. It was good to see our oldest son Jeremy. Makes me happy:)

David's brother John was a gracious host for allowing us to hang at his house in North Richland Hills for far too many hours and also meet up post graduation for a really scrumptious pig out of pizza and graduation cake.

It was also an overwhelming weekend because I was able to see all of the kids over the mother's day weekend. Nothing could be better than that, if only I could have seen my mom:(

I Love CVS

If you have never visited this site, I highly recommend you take the time.... click on the title for an auto link. This site will get you on track for an obsessive disorder that will consume your freetime and every waking moment...

Really, it is a wonderful educational tool for getting you up to speed on starting a lifetime experience with shopping at CVS.

My Saturday shopping excursion to my local CVS (30 miles down the road, so not a quick event for me) took about 3 hours with commute. What you say... I didn't take any pictures of my haul, I was just too tired. Best I can figure everything out. I received about $260 in merchandise for a net expense of -$1.83. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it is true.

Some of the items I received, 5 Aquafresh toothpaste, 2 sample Aquafresh toothpaste, 2 Johnson's soap buddies, 3 bars Johnson's soap, 10 bars Ivory soap, 2 microwaveable brownies, 10 varied nutrition bars, 2 bottles multivitamins, 3 packets of Claritin, 5 men's deodorant, 10 bottles bodywash, 1 razor set, 6 room deodorizer sprays (totally free), 1 gallon milk, $35 CVS giftcards, $25 Barnes and Nobles giftcard, $15 Itunes giftcard, 2 Huggies packets baby wipes, 1 Huggies baby soap, and 3 toothbrushes.

As my husband said, we are even getting top quality items...not the local pepsodent and generic products that I have been pawning off on them for the last few years.

The only downside, is the checkers were a little frustrated with me by the end of everything. I messed them up with the rainchecks, apparently you need to give them at the start of your transaction or they are messed up...so I didn't take the time to ask for the rainchecks that I really wanted, no problem, I will just have to hit up a couple of CVS's in Amarillo next weekend when we go and make sure that I get the rainchecks that I want.

I think the rainchecks are the long term moneymakers to look for. One of my rainchecks didn't have a item limit listed... and there is no expiration date on them, so you can take the time to look for the coupons you would like and I lucked out on the fact that the items went through as free and this month there was an ECB with purchasing the items, so I really doubled up on my ECB credits.

It looks like we are well stocked on soap and room deodorizers. I need to focus on laundry detergent, paper products and women's deodorant.

I also have started my Christmas stash piles and have already finished my shopping for two of the guys on my lists, so way ahead of last year. I told my husband, maybe I can have most of our Christmas shopping done by August of this year and that includes the shopping for his co-workers...

I wasn't the best at my OOP expenses, that ended up being about $70. I had my scenarios worked out to the t, but when they don't have some of the items or not as much quantity as I had planned, it messed with my calculations and I worked a long time on my calculations. I find it difficult to calculate on the fly. Especially when you are dealing with the volume that I was buying. I think that in the future I need to just itemize everything and look for groups of purchases in the $15 to $20 range and do one at a time and then go to the next one...it will also make the checkers happier. I now have over $36.97 in ECB left to spend and $35 in CVS gift cards, so I have about $71.97 left to spend at CVS, leaving me with a net expense of -$1.83 after it is all said and done.

The key to my shopping is I asked for rainchecks everytime I went to CVS last month and they didn't have the items I wanted. So I had two rainchecks for free 12 oz. Softsoap body washes. I then saved some coupons and this month they were also offering $5 in ECB back for softsoap purchases in excess of $10, so a true money maker after it was all said and done.

Another essential element is so many items that ended up being moneymakers. I did buy 5 of the Adidas deodorants and actually was paid $14.97 to buy them! I had five coupons for the value of the item $4.99 each and also CVS was offering ECB back of $4.99 each for a limit of three, so that's how I was paid to purchase their product....Unbelievable!!!

So thanks mom for all of your help!!!

The next self inflicted challenge is to start figuring out how to attack our food budget more and get it down to a goal of $60 per week total food expense, I am also going to go with the cash only method, I find it too easy to just pop out the pulse card everytime I want something. I think I will have to look at other blogs to increase my learning and skills.

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