Friday, June 25, 2010

Have I Mentioned I LOVE Old Navy

I'm not going to lie, it's borderline obsessive.  I liked Old Navy before I became a couponer, but I LOVE Old Navy now!  Oh yes, it's love.  So, being that I felt it only fair to let you all in, Old Navy is having their Wholey Moly sale, where the entire store is 30% off (and online!)  Pair this with your barker's bones coupons on facebook, your stuff and save bag from May, and clearance items to get a REALLY sweet deal!  Don't delay, this sale runs until Tuesday only!  And if I know Old Navy, the stores will be bombarded this weekend!  Go check it out here!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making Him Known

To love Jesus and make Him known.  Isn't that why we're here?  Isn't that what life is really all about anyway?  I'd like to think so.  Sure, we're going to have experiences, good points, not so good points, and walk through life, but ultimately our lives are to love Jesus, give Him glory, and point others his direction, both verbally and non-verbally.
I hope I do pretty well at the non-verbal part.  I think I do, but you never really know for sure.  If someone asks me about my faith or has any sort of question, you can bet I'll talk their ear off at that point too.  Occasionally I'll have those divine meetings where faith and Jesus are brought up randomly in conversation, but it's not every day. 
Now, my husband on the other hand, he's a different story.  Divine appointments follow Him.  We can be in the most random place, and ultimately Jesus is going to be made known. 
One of the first things that tilted me towards being with this guy forever was one particular instance when we were buying stuff for the rink's snack bar and we were leaving Sam's.  Outside of the Sam's parking lot was a homeless gentleman, not begging, but not moving.  It was warm that day.  My heart hurt, but his heart helped.  With no hesitation he went to Sonic, bought the man a drink, drove over, got out of the car, put his arm around him, smiled, and asked if he needed anything else.  Seriously?  I just felt bad.  It's in his nature to make Jesus known.
Just today we were buying snacks for the youth group's trip to camp.  In the amount of time it took to check out about $50 worth of junk food and gatorade Aaron had already established that the cashier was at one time, about three years ago, from Du Quoin, that he didn't go to church, nor had he ever, and mentioned what church we were affiliated with.  It seriously took 2 minutes.
But, then, that's what it's all about.  Loving Jesus and making Him known.  I always tell the girls in the youth group that my prayer for them is that they would ooze Jesus.  Afterall, if something oozes, it does it involuntarily.  It doesn't have to try... it just happens.  What if we loved Jesus enough that our love and excitement about Him just came out?  I'm guessing He'd be made known. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Can't believe I haven't blogged this before...

Okay guys, I can't believe I haven't blogged this before.  This is a huge tool I use for my "couponing" for particular items.  It's called swagbucks.  It's easy and free.  Here's the idea in a nutshell, you sign up (free), get an account, and start doing all of your normal internet searching via swagbucks (rather than yahoo or google) and you start earning 'swagbucks'.  With these swagbucks you can earn things like, my favorite, gift cards to places like amazon or target.  Use these gift cards with sales / deals OR to buy Christmas presents early (used one to to get a really cool bday gift for B early), and you have virtually FREE Christmas presents!  Seriously, it's easy to score 25 - 50 swagbucks a day, persistence pays off.  Click here to sign up!  I've made my challenge to pay very little out of pocket for all Christmas this year!  Let's give it a shot! 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Something About a Baby's Smile

I may be sparse on coupon blogs right now, but expect some before we leave for summer camp on Saturday.  As for today... this is on parenting, again.
I'll never forget the first time I really heard Bryton belly laugh.  It was his first Easter (fitting, huh? :) ) and he was sitting in his high chair at my parent's house during Easter dinner.  He had the hiccups and my dad was hiccuping back at him.  He thought that was hilarious.
We get huge, sometime fake, belly laughs out of him now, often.  Fake or not, they melt this mother's heart.  19 month olds can be frustrating and demanding at times, but there is this wonderful happiness that radiates from their being that makes you smile, whether you know you are doing it or not.  Just try it, look at this picture:
This was at Long John Silver's today.  I love that the hat says 'I Threw Boring Overboard', because judging from that smile, he did ;)
You smiled didn't you? :)  It's something about babies...
Until next time...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You Don't Have to Look in the Mirror

I'll go ahead and warn you, females, this may attack every insecure bone in your being.  It did me. 
Growing up as a female is hard enough.  I mean the hair and the make-up, wearing the right clothes, being the right shape, hating the number on the scale, and worst of all, the constant comparing of yourself to those other 'people', either classmates or celebrities.  It doesn't matter.  It's a constant wrench of the heart. 
If you are a female and have never felt a little insecurity about your appearance I would either call you arrogant or blessed.  It seems to have plagued us all at one point in time or another.  I know it has me, more often than not.
So fast forward out of high school some to 2008 when I became pregnant with Bryton.  Don't get me wrong, I was excited for a baby, and even excited for the 6 month baby bump, but I had heard horror stories about what the post baby body would look like and how it would 'perform'.  I was a little less than stoked. 
Checking my tummy out wasn't the first thing I did after Bryton was born, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it.  I was. 
Two years past that, now, I have to admit, I think I was lucky coming out of the hospital looking like I did after Bryton was born.  I don't expect it to be like that after round number two, that's for sure.  But regardless of how I came out, I did suffer, shortly, with a deep sense of mourning my old 'self'.  My flat tummy, with my tiny belly button and no stupid line (which I still have by the way, 18 months later).  Now, the most evidence of my pregnancy is that line and a much larger belly button, not to mention a small evidence of a 'baby' bump that can easily be 'sucked in' if need be.  I don't suck very often, too much work.  Lol. 
So all of that being said, we took a trip to Holiday World the other day.  (I know, right, how are these related?)  The relation comes in the waterpark, in a swimsuit, with 1,000 other females with different bodies, different shapes, and different histories, and me, my line, and my nickle sized belly button.  But you know what I didn't find in that waterpark?  Insecurity.  For the first time ever.
Even in High School waterparks meant constant comparisons, wishing I had her hair and her legs and her boobs.  Let's be honest, here.  By the time the day was over at that point in my life I was miserable from the constant self bashing I'd faced.  I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, or enough period. 
This waterpark experience, however, had me paying even more attention to other females.  Shapes and sizes and cellulite and odd birthmarks and gray hair, and wrinkles, and less than flat bellies, and you know what, all of the women I saw were beautiful, but not one of us was perfect.  No flat stomach, perfect complexion, wonderful shapes to be found.  Even the younger ones, 'in their prime' so to speak, had some cellulite on the back of their legs or a little extra around the tummy.  Yet they were gorgeous girls. For the first time I felt no need to make any comparisons, and I, honestly, not one time, thought to myself, I wish I could have her _______________ you fill in the blank.  
Nope, I love this body.  This is the one God gave me.  This is the one that carried that precious cargo of mine, and I cherish every evidence of it, silly line and giganto belly button and all. 
Don't get me wrong.  Female hair loss and spider veins run in my family... so one of these days, God willing, I may spend the vanity money to have those taken care of, but you know what, I don't have to look in the mirror to know that I'm beautiful and created in the image of a beautiful, loving God, who created all those other women in their bathing suits the exact same way. 
Where God is, beauty always reigns. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Winner Give-Away Shopping Results

Well one month of couponing has left me with the final result for my give-away winner, Rachel!  I wouldn't have ever thought I would say this, but I was in search for such great deals to fill her bag as much as I could, that I've been going crazy these past few days trying to find a way to spend the rest of the $10.00 that I had set aside for her.  I even have $1.00 left that I'm going to just put in her bag that she can put towards her own coupons, or even use it as a coupon for something they need :)
So here are the results.  Rachel won:

1 Old Navy Reusable Tote
2 Reach Toothbrushes
1 Container Pampers Wipes
1 Box Soccer Crunch (Cap'n Crunch Cereal)
1 Schick Hydro 5 Razor
1 Bag Oxi Clean Max Force Laundry Detergent Tablets
2 Always / Tampax samples
1 Old Spice Fresh Collection Deoderant
1 Kool Aid Fun Fizz Tablets
1 Uncle Ben's Rice Pouch
1 Box Nexcare Bandages
1 Tube Revlon Lipstick
1 Benadryl Itch Stick
1 Dove Deoderant
1 Johnson's Buddies Sudzing Bar                             
1 Bottle Garnier Fructis Conditioner
1 Tresemme Freshstart Dry Shampoo (which every busy mom needs)
1 Ban Deoderant
1 Bottle of Dawn
1 Old Navy Outfit for Paisley
1 Old Navy Shirt for Wyatt (her twins ;)
1 $1 bill :)
Not bad for $10 ;)   (Considering the total before sales and coupons was more like $70.00.  Seriously, I kept total.) 
Congrats Rachel!  Hope you can use some of this stuff!


Here's a random blog for you, it's completely about my indecisiveness / obsessiveness in the employment category.  If this blog doesn't frustrate you by the end of it you are a special person... it means you can handle my indecisiveness. 
Let's see.  As I write this it is June of 2010.  I have surpassed the 2 year mark from graduation with a Bachelor's degree.  It seems, while growing up, I heard over and over by family and teachers and mentors that education was very important.  To live well (financially) and to be successful (in whatever sense that means) you needed to have at least a bachelor's degree. 
So there you go.  According to the bulk of my advice, I should be financially well and somehow successful.  And maybe we are.  I mean, financially we get around okay.  Things are tight, for sure, and there's not a lot in the way of "splurges", but we are making it.  Success, well, getting through a week as a stay at home mom is success in and of itself.  All of that being said, I wonder why I wasted my parent's money (thanks mom and dad) on college.  I need no degree for what I'm doing now. 
And don't get me wrong.  It's not that I have no desire to be doing anything, no, it's that what I want to be doing seems impossible and 43 worlds away.  AND, what I want to be doing, well, doesn't necessarily change, but rather is about 10 different things.  You think this would make my predicament easier... I have several things I would be happy doing, unfortunately, I have no idea how to get started with any of them... or, they aren't feasible in some way shape or form.  Here's my life ambitions in the career world, check them out with me:
1.  Stay at Home Mom
           -  If you say this isn't a job then come do what I do for a week.  It's by far the hardest job (but the most rewarding) I've ever had.  All in all, though, I love it.  Even if just while my kid(s) are out of school, I would love to get to be the mom to take my kids places and grow them and teach them up until they are in kindergarten.  The downside with this one... money.  Unfortunately there is no pay for being and home and enjoying your kids ;)

2.  Ministry Somewhere
          -  This is, afterall, what my degree is in, but this one seems the most impossible.  What in the ministry world would I like to do?  You name it.  Ideally, I'd love to do youth ministry, particularly girls (but I'd even serve in a secretarial position) or educational ministry.   The hard part with working in a church as far as ministry is concerned, I'm obviously never going to work at any other church besides the one I attend with my husband, and that makes this goal seem impossible and unattainable, which is a HUGE bummer. 
            Aside from this kind of ministry, I'd also be willing to serve on other non-profit ministries.  The downfall with this is that there are not many in our area, especially those with the financial capabilities to hire. 

3.  Teach
            -  Well this one is ix-nayed from the very get go mainly because I don't even have a teaching degree.  My degree is in religion (Biblical Studies).  So teaching in a public school (aside from substitute teaching), will never happen.  My only chance at this would be a christian or private school that would take me, or a jr college looking for a teacher in my field (which will virtually never happen).  I, at this point, have no intentions of doing anymore school, and honestly, with education in Illinois being what it is right now, who can blame me. 
             I am good at teaching, so maybe I can make some extra income teaching some couponing classes or something someday... who knows. 

4.  Entrepreneurship
            - Okay, if we are dreaming, here, let's dream.  Coffeeshop.  I don't have to talk much about this, because, come on, it's been mentioned in blogs past.  I would LOVE to open / run / manage a coffee shop / book store.  Not like a Barnes and Noble kind, but a small, intimate, hometown kind.  I love just thinking about it...

5.  Writer / Author / Blogger
            -  This one is very difficult for me.  I love writing.  Love it.  It doesn't matter what the avenue or assignment (okay, I wasn't that big of a fan of term papers and stuff, but anything else is fair game), I just love writing.  I know there are ways and that it's possible, but in the writing world you take huge risks in investing a great deal of time into a project that never 'makes' it.  I may be a stay at home mom, but I don't know that I have the time for such a risk.  Maybe that sounds lazy, but I'd rather be playing with my son than writing a book that only I will ever read.  If I knew there was publishing down the road, it'd be worth the investment.

6.  Work from Home
            -  Okay, not those cheesy work from home phone jobs or stuffing envelopes things.  I'm talking having some kind of hobby I could invest time in to sell product, or having a ministry I could do secretarial work from home, or blogging (see number 5) for a living from home, or even doing home based parties in a business (that actually made it worth your while).  That would allow me to be a.) a stay at home mom, and b.) a financial contributor to our household.  Jackpot! 

All in all, eventually in a career field I'd be looking for, a job I love most of the time, with reasonable / flexible hours, that is satisfying in regards to my mental nature and also is financially worth it, that stretches my comfort level to some degree, but proves to me that I can do more than I thought capable. 
I need an employer who recognizes my devotion to my family and to my ministry alongside my husband but also one who knows that if those commitments are honored, then I can offer similar devotion to my job. 
Now, just to find one of those.... hmmmm.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A couponing blog

It's time again for another couponing blog.  I'll try to keep it fairly short, so here is a short synopsis of today's deals:

1 Gallon of Bottled Water
1 Gallon Apple Juice
3 Totinos Pizzas
Green Giant Steamers Veggies
1 box Stick Butter
1 Banquet fruit pie
1 Box super pretzels (soft ones, yum)
1 Pint Starbucks Ice Cream
2 Pounds of Chuck Steak
1 box barilla pasta
1 box ronzoni pasta
2 Gerber Toddler Entrees
2 Jello Banana Puddings
Wheat Thin Crackers
Triscuit crackers
6 Reach toothbrushes
1 Can pineapple (in juice)
2 cans manderin oranges (in juice)
2 Pounds of bananas

Total before coupons and sales:
Kroger Plus Savings:
MFG Coupons + matchups:

TOTAL:  $29.54

2 KC Masterpiece BBQ sauces
1 Hunts Ketchup
1 new Chipolte Mayo


Walgreens:  (not near as good as I wanted, they were out of EVERYTHING I went for, except:)
Schick Hydro 5 Razor
Total $3.16
Received $4 in register rewards.  Free + overage!

Also at walmart I purchased my soft sleeves for baseball cards, that I'll be using to reorganize my coupons.  More on that later!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Minor Characters

Well, after my last post this one seems appropriate for two reasons.  First of all, I've set a goal for myself that before child number 2 is born in the Gregg household I plan to read the entire Bible from start to finish.  I've already started, I figure I should get a head start on things like this. 
Secondly, this post is appropriate because of what I just read today.  I was reading in Genesis 30 where Rachel and Leah are having a conception war, trying to 'outkid' the other (and maybe earn Jacob's love at the same time.) 
There is this huge rivalry between the sisters and it seems the only settling is having babies.  When both women are having trouble having babies what do they do?  Well, they go find their maids, or servants, sleep with Jacob (their husband) to have babies for them. 
All polygamy aside (that's a whole other post), but let's talk about Zilpah and Bilhah for a bit, shall we?
Okay, so here are these women sitting around doing their jobs, so to speak.  We must assume that these women are aware of the tension in the household, and suddenly they are ripped into the middle of it, being forced to sleep with their bosses' husband.  (This doesn't happen everyday, now, does it?) 
Okay, on this level I feel extremely sorry for these two ladies already.  Speaking from a strictly female perspective, but on an intimacy level, I'm a whole lot more likely to be 'in the mood' if I have some kind of 'non-sexual' chemistry / intimacy with an individual anyway.  So these women, in my opinion. are like prostitutes who don't get paid... or maybe kind of raped in a way?  Anyway, I can't imagine this was a pleasurable experience for either one of them. 
Then, they get to carry this man's baby for 10 months to have the baby stripped from them and given to this other woman who claims the child is hers. 
This is where my heart fumes a little.  I'll be honest, one of the first thoughts I had after holding Bryton for the first time (besides, owwwww), was "how do women give up a baby?"  I totally understand that there are circumstances that make giving up a child necessary, and am also very aware that this gives baby a better chance at a better life, but as a mother I cannot understand carrying this being in your womb, knowing this baby for so long, and then handing him / her to someone else forever.  Rip my heart out, please, but don't take my child.  After the connection I felt with Bryton, I felt protective of other people holding him (besides Aaron) because "they didn't know him like I did.  How dare they intrude on our bond."  I'm not lying, honest.    I did get much better with that pretty quickly, by the way.
But here are these women who are forced to give up these babies, who carry half their genes, and watch another woman raise them, love them, claim them.  It makes my heart and my will wrench.  It's not in my nature to see this happen. 
So, in short, I'm glad polygamy and slavery are out the window.  I'm not all about sharing husbands and children... nope, not about it at all.  Call me selfish. 

The "basement"

Which really is in reference to 'the baby' if you are one of the youth girls.  It's a long story, really, but let's just say that the finishing of our basement and the birth of baby number 2 come in one package ;) 
Anyway, I've been waiting since January, anticipating the coming of summer to start working on baby number 2.  I've subscribed back to many of my pregnancy sites, read tons of info on conceiving, and if I'm honest, stressed a little about the 'what if' that I don't get pregnant quickly, or even worse, at all. 
See, I'm going about this WAY differently than I did last time.  Last time Aaron and I decided to be pretty hush hush about 'trying' to begin with.  I didn't want people constantly asking, in the event that it did take forever.  Then, when we got pregnant (which didn't take long), I'd heard sooooo many stories of miscarriage on the road that aside from very close friends and family we told no one until I was almost completely through my first trimester.  I dreaded the idea of having to tell all of those supportive friends that we had lost a baby, that my body had failed. 
I don't know what is so different this time.  Maybe it's that I've been so vocal about wanting another for so long.  Maybe it's the comfort level of those around me.  Maybe I'm too overly confident that all will go well this time since it did the first time.  And honestly, the last one scares me the most. 
But all in all, it's summer, and we're preparing to hopefully give B a brother or sister somewhere around this time next year. 
So currently we're praying for God's will, a healthy baby, an easy pregnancy (minus platelet issues), and quick conception.  (Anytime in the next 5 months would fit my agenda perfectly.  Notice I said 'my' agenda... we'll see what God has in store.) 
So, that's where we are right now on that front.  Oh yeah, and I guess we better get to work on the basement ;)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Well, there's not been a whole lot on the couponing front with vacation and all, but there is still plenty going on. With a whole week (an unexpected week I should add) away from the computer, I guess I should fill everyone in on our vacation. So let's see:
We left on Thursday night to go to Aaron's parent's house in STL. Aaron was golfing in Waterloo so I picked him up on the way.
We weren't leaving until Saturday so we took Bryton to the zoo for his first trip on Friday. We went early to get into the children's zoo free (it's free from 8:00 - 9:00!, beats $8 for Aaron and I to be able to take Bryton in!). He loved the goats! In fact, I think this may have almost been his favorite part of the day because he could get up close and pet them. The rest of the day he was really odd, quiet, almost in awe. He didn't say much, but pointed from time to time. It was fun watching him check it all out!
Saturday we left for vacation. I was nervous to say the least. Bryton does NOT sleep in the car and he does NOT enjoy the car. He hasn't enjoyed the car since about 6 months or so. Now that he's mobile he just wants out. So, four hours in the car did NOT sound exciting. I had a stockpile of toys in his floorboard that I could hand him, Easter eggs filled with cheerios and raisins (one of the best tricks in our book, he loves shaking them and opening them to see whats inside... huge time burner!), and his blanket and lovey (one can wish, right?). Believe it or not, he did great on the way there! I was ecstatic. No nap, but beggers can't be choosers. We got checked in at the condo and took Bryton down, after a short nap, to the pool.
The pool with a 19 month old is interesting. Last year in August we stuck him in a baby ring, pulled him around the pool and he looooved it. Now, Mr. Mobility isn't happy in a swing, and if he can touch at all (baby pool), he wants off on his own. It was a fight from A - Z. We finally figured out we are better off in the big pool holding him.
Overall vacation was relaxing, swimming, shuffleboard, an attempt at horseshoes, some light shopping, miniature golfing, virgin strawberry daquiris, etc, BUT, Aaron and I took one day to do the ziplines at Branson Zipline. In fact, we just did one, the blue streak. AMAZING! 2000 feet on a zipline that was running, on that particular day, as fast as it would run, then a 70 foot free fall off of the tower. Amazing. I love doing things I've not done before, and this was exhilerating. We had a great time!
The ride home was not near as good as the ride there, but we made it, and we're finally back into a routine, I think.
That is, until the end of the month when Bryton stays with Gammy for a week while we are at camp. I'm totally bummed to leave him for a week. That's coming quick! June is a crazy month!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Something About Parenting...

There’s something about being a parent that makes God’s love even harder to comprehend. I know, that sounds backwards compared to everything I’ve ever heard, but it’s true. There is this certain mysterious love that is unlocked the moment you first lock eyes with your child. It is a relentless, unyielding, yearning kind of love. It’s the kind of love that takes your breath away. There is a great responsibility with this love, but with the responsibility comes a great blessing.
For the first time in my life I think I might be able to comprehend an unchanging, steadfast love, and at the same time, I can’t believe a God that I can’t see, or anyone that I can, could feel the same way about me that I feel about my son, not to mention love me any stronger. Parenting makes the knowing in my head that Jesus loves me transfer to my heart.
There’s something about watching Bryton learn new things and say new things that makes me wonder if God was smiling when I hit my first homerun. It’s something so trivial, but it’s usually the trivial things that Bryton accomplishes that makes me most proud.
There’s this urgency in my heart for him to love Jesus. I’m almost ashamed to say that I feel this urgency for him even more deeply than I did for myself prior to my own salvation. I love Jesus with all I am, and I’ll never be more proud of Bryton than the day, God willing, that he comes to know and love Jesus.
It’s the unselfish, love others as yourself kind of love that Jesus talked about. And I wonder if God feels the same hurt for me that I feel for Bryton when he’s sad, or hurt, or upset. I wonder if God feels the same joy for me that I feel when Bryton succeeds at something or simply smiles.
And all of the wondering leads me to a deeper understanding that I may never understand the heart of God. To love a husband like I love my husband and to see marriage in it’s spiritual context, and to love my son like I love my son and to see parenting through God’s eyes as our ‘Father’, it shows me that despite two very deep kinds of love there is a greater love out there that exists, and that love exists for me and for you. It’s the love of God that loves my husband and my son more than I ever could. And, though unfathomable, He holds that same kind of love for each one of us.