Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Great Trip to Walmart

Shopping at Walmart can be a hit or miss experience sometimes. Occasionally the items I'm looking for are not stocked, though it's a rare occurrence.

Usually my mood in leaving the store is set at the checkout counter. Is the checker competent at taking coupons and price matching? Is the line ridiculously long? Are there even enough cashiers available? And are the customers behind me patient?

Today I got lucky!

Middle of the day on a rare hot Saturday - the checkout lines were not super long even though there weren't very many cashiers open.

After getting in line I realized I'd forgotten two bags of Cheetos - necessary for my price matching options and needed for two potlucks. The woman who had gotten in line behind me could tell the second I realized I'd missed them and encouraged me to "run" back to get them. I let her know I would walk running is not currently an option.

New baby Dillon

(Why do the chips have to be so far away from the front of the store???)

When I got back this sweet old lady was unpacking my cart for me! The gal in front of me was just finishing up. Talk about sweet.

Of course, it kind of messed up my OCD organization of items...I group things so that all the price matched items are together. But it was so nice of I sucked it up and didn't have a panic attack. :)

The cashier was not the friendliest of gals but she was competent and took all my price matching in stride. It always takes a long time - I wish their technology would allow them to price match faster since Walmart makes such a big deal about being able to do it.

I love price matching. Their soda regular price is $3.98. It was on sale at QFC and Albertsons for $2.75 a piece. That's a savings of $1.23 per twelve pack. Now, obviously NOT buying soda is a better option but that's not going to happen so saving $1.23 makes me very happy. I bought 8 twelve packs - saving $9.84. Plus another $1 savings from a coupon.

Using Price Matching I also saved on Cheetos, Eggo Waffles, Ragu, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Powerade, and Totino's pizza. Nope...not the healthiest items. But on my list nonetheless.

So today's trip was good. Lots of savings, a good cashier, and friendly and helpful fellow customers. Plus it's super sunny outside!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hopefully Postpartum Will be Minimal

When my little man Marshal was born I was completely overwhelmed. I lost a lot of blood and a difficult recovery. He had blood sugar issues and ended up in ICU.

I was so determined to breast feed him and avoid a bottle that instead of allowing the nurses to give him formula we kept trying to breast feed. But nothing came out and he ended up with blood sugar in the 20s...and a trip to NicU.
Marshal in NicU - 2009
We fed him with a tube and syringe for the first few weeks of his life, simply to avoid the bottle. I pumped as much as possible to get him breast milk. I could pump for over an hour and get less than an ounce of breast milk.

I tried everything to increase production - drinking beer (which I HATE), tea (also can't stand), and all the other things the lactation specialists recommended. We met with her at least twice a week.

I was NOT bonding with Marshal. I wanted to send him away and even thinking about it now makes me want to cry. I was completely depressed and hubby eventually made me go see the counselor.

Finally, even the lactation nurse said I needed to stop trying and move to formula. I was not bonding and I needed to take care of myself and my son.

This time, as much as I wanted to breast feed I went in with a completely different attitude. I willingly tried to breast feed and worked with the nurses after Dillon was born. For a variety of physical reasons my breasts do not cooperate and I didn't even produce colostrum. :( I still feel like crap for not being able to breast feed...I WANTED to. But it just wasn't meant to be.

Dillon's blood sugar did start to drop a few hours after birth. Instead of trying to force my will, we started him on a bottle with formula. Praising God - he avoided NicU completely and his blood sugar was perfectly normal from then on out.

Heading Home - Brothers

When my Sister in Law visited us in the hospital she said she could totally tell a difference in my attitude and temperament this time around. Obviously, a new mom will have more emotional issues. But with my history of depression the second time around is still a huge risk.

So far so good. I've had a few moments of baby blues - one night of crying uncontrollably - but nothing like the soul crushing depression I felt after Marshal.

We made it home and are now a family of FOUR! It boggles my mind. I still can't believe we have a new baby. It's such a huge change...and I don't love change. I know we'll find our routine eventually.

Marshal has been a good big brother so far. I know that could change any second but we're working really hard to make sure he feels like part of this team. And thankfully my family knows what to look for to make sure I don't fall into the abyss that is postpartum depression.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back in the Saddle - Free Food with Ibotta and Coupons

After Marshal was born I was a complete wreck and didn't leave the bedroom for a good month. Now, Dillon is ten days old and I can't wait to get out of the house. So I went grocery shopping! Oh the joys of motherhood.

Making grocery shopping fun for me is the challenge to save money - One great app I discovered for that is called Ibotta*. Together with coupons I made a pretty good haul today and felt almost normal.

Basically, Ibotta pays you cash money for buying groceries and items you normally buy anyway. The more you use the app the more bonuses and items you unlock. I've earned more than $50 cash back so far (using it for a couple of months) - and I haven't even spent that much out of pocket on items because I also use coupons with the items and try to find them on sale.

Using Ibotta and shopping at WinCo I actually got paid to buy a couple of items and got a few others for free.

The app itself is super simple - Take a picture of your receipt within the app and scan the bar code for each item. It takes about 2 minutes if you have a lot of items to scan...but only if you're really slow. =)

Here's my score using Ibotta.

Free cereal, granola, and yogurt - Total spent around $4

Yes, it may be "junk" food to you but the granola is healthy and so is the yogurt and the Oatmeal bars. Healthy by our standards at least. And hey, chocolate is a bean, so technically the chocolate milk is a veggie drink. Right?

Hershey's Cookies & Cream Cereal - $2.28
Ibotta cash $2
Coupon $0.50 off
$0.22 Money Maker

Vanilla Chex Cereal - $2.28
Ibotta Cash $2
Coupon $0.50 off
$0.22 Money Maker

Oatmeal Bars by Nature Valley - $1.98 each
Ibotta Cash $1.00 for One
Coupon $0.25
Cost: $2.71 for Two

Yoplait Yogurt - $0.49
Ibotta Cash $0.50
$0.01 Money Maker

Nature Valley Protein Granola - $2.98
Ibotta Cash $3.00
$0.02 Money Maker

Betty Crocker Cake - $1.18
Ibotta Cash $0.50
Cost $0.68

The Chocolate milks were not part of Ibotta cash back BUT the cereal and oatmeal bars had coupons for $0.50 off any milk - no size restrictions - so I got small chocolate milks as a treat for Marshal. Each one cost me about $0.55 after coupon.

So everything in the picture cost me out of pocket around $18 - minus coupons bringing it to about $15 and I get $9 cash back from Ibotta. AND Ibotta has bonus deals which I *should* qualify for giving me an additional $2 back. So the final total for everything above is about $4. Not too shabby.

Other Ibotta Stuff:

  • It IS cash back. It's not a reward card or points or anything like that. I can redeem the money anytime (Once I get $5) and have it transferred to my paypal account. 
  • I also love that you can use coupons along with getting cash back - making many of the items money makers. 
  • There's more than just food too - the items available for cash back rotate - fabric softener, scotch tape, and even movies have been available for cash back. 
  • There are several stores that participate in "bonus" cash back including Target, Winco, and Walmart - my three main sources of shopping.
  • You do have to have a smart phone but I don't think it's exclusive to the iPhone, which is what I have.

If you buy groceries this app is a no brainer...even if you only use it once in awhile you will earn cash on things you are buying anyway. I know the items I bought aren't the healthiest - and for you healthier folks never fear - they do have organic and gluten free items pop up as available items. :)

* My referral link - sign up and download the app and you'll get a $10 sign up bonus!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A New Human - Introducing Dillon James

I abandoned my blog during the last part of my pregnancy with Baby Boy #2. It was pretty rough for me...very tired, too many shots of insulin, lots of pain. It was all I could do to keep up with laundry and dishes.

We were scheduled for induction on there at 7:30 as requested...and were sent home. Oh my goodness that was so horrible. Obviously in the scheme of things it wasn't a big deal, but I was SO ready to be done. But obviously it wasn't God's will for Dillon to be born on Friday. So we called Saturday morning and were told to come on down.

As of Saturday night, the pregnancy is officially over and Dillon James arrived - on June 15 at 9:57 pm. He was 7 pounds 7 ounces and 20 inches long. In comparison, Marshal was 7 pounds and 4 ounces and 19 3/4 inches long. God blessed us with a very healthy little guy.

Marshal took a little longer to arrive than Dillon and I don't remember it being nearly as painful but it's been nearly four years so I'm sure I blocked out those memories. I only pushed with Dillon for four or five contractions and he arrived...could have been less than 30 minutes. Pretty sure Marshal took over an hour once I started pushing.

On the bright side - my recover, and Dillon's, was nearly textbook and NO ICU for baby!!! My blood sugars were great and my blood pressure didn't crash this time. I was actually able to stand up to get in the wheel chair to go to recovery this time. With Marshal they had to wheel me in on the bed.

Dillon James Casto - Newborn
When Marshal was born I tried so hard to breast feed and was adamant against using formula. Within a few hours of his birth his blood sugar had dropped so low that he was admitted to ICU. If I'd agreed to go with formula right away we probably would have avoided the ICU.

This time, I made up my mind ahead of time that I would try to breast feed but was not going to be stubborn about it if it didn't work. And not surprisingly, it didn't.

There are a few reasons why breast feeding doesn't work for me...that I won't go into online. They are mostly medical. I tried for over a month to breast feed with Marshal and it caused me nothing but pain, depression, and lack of bonding with my son. I've come to terms with not being able to breast feed my sons. And this time I was pretty glad for formula.

Dillon did not need to be admitted into ICU after his blood sugar started to drop because we started him on formula. I'm sure there are moms out there who will lecture me, say I didn't try hard enough, judge me...that's okay. Feel free. I'm okay with our decision and I know the ultimate reasons behind it.

Dillon - 1 1/2 days old at home

We came home less than 48 hours after birth with a super healthy baby boy - doctors and nurses said he was "perfect"...we'll see. :) No jaundice, hearing and cardiac tests passed, eating and blood sugar perfect.

I'll write more because I want to document our experience with our new boy...and Marshal too. This is kind of a diary for me.