Saturday, August 29, 2009

Girl's Night Publix???

So the Sundown Vitamins Coupons were expiring on the 28th and unfortunately I still had tons left. :( In order to use them, it was time to get serious! My friend Tutti (who now Tim has nicknamed us Batman and Robin) and I headed to the city to do some major couponing. We went to 4 Publix stores and 1 Whole Foods! I don't have a picture because it was LATE when I got home (their stores don't close until 11) and I had a tennis tourney this morning. I was simply too tired to arrange the items and then take a picture and THEN put up the items, so you'll have to just be inspired by the totals....

Total Saved: $322.91

Total OOP: $19.64

Yes, my total OOP, seems slightly high compared to some of my other trips, but I NEVER went into the negatives. I usually get my total into the negatives and then with manager intervention, I pay next to nothing. However, I decided to fly under the radar this time so I would have successful trips. IT makes a HUGE difference! It just takes a lot of the stress out of the situation.

Now, what did I buy? Here's a small york strips, london broil, filet mignon, lunch meat, bread, produce, vitamins, mailers/envelopes, water, rotisserie chicken, fresh flowers (awesome!!!), bread machine flour, organic cookies, cereal, crackers, stamps, etc....

I am very pleased with my trip and I had a great time! Tim was joking with me by saying, "Wow! It's girl's night're going to PUBLIX?? Seriously?????"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's coming today!!!

Woohoo!! I am getting an early Christmas present from my mom and stepdad today. An upright freezer!!! How exciting, right?! Who would have thought that a freezer could make me jump for joy!!! Now, I'll be able to collect my frozen items that are sitting in my sister's freezer and bring them home! :) Last night I dropped off a few more items to store until today, but I was informed that the cookies and creme pie and the reese's pie might not be there tomorrow! LOL! (they came home with me....)

I'll post a picture when I get it all set up this afternoon!!! Yay!!!! It's a couponer's dream!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Walgreen's Shopping Trip

These are Register Rewards (RR) from Wags.
I went to Walgreen's for the first time in what seems like months. I was pretty excited about the deals that I got and definitely the RR's that printed out!
6- Huggies Wipes- $2.79ea - (6- $2.00 WQ and 6 $.50 MQ)= $1.74
8- Bic Highlighters- $.39 ea- (3- $1.00/2 MQ)= FREE+++
1- Softsoap Body Wash- $3.99
4- Stickers- $.25 ea (clearance)
Total: $50.94
Total OOP: $9.39
BUT....I received $5.00 RR and $4.00 RR, so technically, I was $.39 OOP! I will now turn around and use the RR's to pay for my groceries at Publix.

Extreme Tennis Tournament

A group picture of my team after the tournament
The ever so focused Tim
Sheer determination
The Racquet Clap
Serve in action!
Thayer (my men's tennis partner) and Tim coaching from the side
Playing singles and waiting on my opponent to fetch the ball
Me and the guys (minus Tim who was playing behind us)
When Tim is super focused, his tongue hangs out!
Last Saturday, we competed in an Extreme Tennis Tournament. WE WON!! This was my first official tournament win and I am still on cloud 9! My team was made up of 3 women and 4 men. The cool thing about Extreme Tennis is that it is similar to WTT. You can make substitutions and you can coach from the sidelines. We had an awesome time and we can't wait to go to the next one!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blog Giveaway at Tribal Talk!

My friend Tutti over at Tribal Talk is offering a very cool blog giveaway! Cultures for Health is giving one lucky reader cultures for health yogurt and kefir starters. What does this mean? It means that you no longer have to buy yogurt filled with artificial perservatives or whatever else is in there! YOU will now have the power (and the goodies) to start making your very own fresh yogurt! How cool is that?!

This is what Tutti has to say, "With help from Cultures for Health, making it was easy and simple. In fact, it is so easy that I make small batches and make a new one every other day or so. I do this because I love the fresh taste of the yogurt, but it would last up to a week in my refrigerator before I had to make a new one.

I use the Pima yogurt and milk kefir grains to eat with raw honey, add to smoothies, and ferment my grains before cooking. My kids love it because I let them take their spoon and by themselves, scoop out some raw honey straight from the honey jar.To read more about the benefits of culturing your own yogurt, go here."

This total package retails around $30 (not including shipping) BUT can be yours for FREE! Go to Tribal Talk and sign up now! The giveaway ends on Sunday at midnight!!! Good luck!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guess What???

Guess what Caroline??? We're going to Publix for more charcoal!!!
Seriously Mommy??? Are you joking??????

Alright, I surrender...I've thrown in the white flag....I'll go for a sugar cookie!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FREE Bacon at Publix!!

We are in a phase of loving BLT's right now at my house. I was delighted to see that Publix has Smithfield Bacon 2/$5.00. Right now if you go to the Smithfield website, you can print out two coupons for $3.00 (remember to hit the back browser button until you see the page 'printing coupon'). This equals FREE bacon plus $1.00 in overage! Hurry as the sale at Publix ends on Wednesday night or Tuesday night, depending on your region.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recipe for Chili's Salsa..Yum Yum!

Don't you just love the salsa you get from Chili's? It is one of our favorites! I was reading Kelly's Korner and came across her version of the salsa. I made it last night to go with our Mexican themed meal and I must say, it was super yummy and super easy! Thanks to couponing and stockpiling, I had all the necessary ingredients in my pantry and fridge.

Chili's Salsa Recipe
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can tomatoes and green chilies
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can whole canned tomatoes (plus the juice)
4 teaspoons jalapenos (canned, diced, not pickled)...I used fresh!
1/4 cup yellow onion (diced)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon cilantro
1/2 of a lime juice

I used too much jalapeno in my salsa so it had quite a kick to it! We paired it with the Organic Blue Tortilla Chips that I got on manager's special at Kroger. I must say that it is now a family favorite. Try it out and let me know what you think...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thank you Publix for paying for my groceries!

Blogger has messed up the order of my pictures once again!!

This is the same picture as the day before because I didn't have time to take another one! I now have 13 more bags of charcoal and one more case of water than what is now pictured...
This picture combines 2 different shopping transactions

Like I previously said, Caroline and I went to Publix once again to do the charcoal deal. I bought the $4.00 MQ on Ebay a few months ago and the FL Q was expiring on the 11th. We loaded up the car and away we went.

We went to the first store (Lovejoy) to see how many bags of charcoal they had in stock. They had 5 bags (ummm...wonder why?? LOL!) I met the Grocery Manager and after several minutes of talking, he called the Fayetteville Store to check on their inventory for me. I decided that I wouldn't purchase any more other than the 5 from this store. Did my shop and was successful until I went to the register. The casheir demanded all of my coupons up front and then wrote down the quantity of multiple items. I wasn't worried because I knew all of my coupons were legit but I was a bit worried because of the "overage". She then told me that they do not accept FL as a competitor. I asked her to call the manger over. The asst. customer service manager came over and said the same thing. After several minutes of debating, I asked her to ask her manager. She relucantly walked towards him (he was coming my way) and I was able to overhear the conversation. The "big man" said, "yes, FL is a competitor and we do accept them." She then tried to argue with him! He became really annoyed with her and stood his ground. She came back, said apparently we do accept them, but didn't apologize. Oh well...

It was successful until my balance went into the negative. Another Customer Staff member came over to override the system and this is where it went downhill. The cashier waited to input the last of my PQ's for the Sundown vitamins. I had one left which would have made my balance around $1.00. Now, we all know that Publix has the right to downgrade their store coupons and you can't argue with it. However, I think perception is everything. You could tell that when she was explaining to me what happened that she didn't really want to downgrade and "fix" the rest of my PQ's. So, I suggested that I just pay the balance and we call it even. She happily agreed and I went on my merry way.

I then decided to go to the next Publix and buy the remainder of the charcoal since the deal ended on that day. But, I had to run into ALDI and buy an insulated bag for my charcoal and dairy products.

This shopping trip was successful and stress free (other than Caroline needing to go potty during the middle of my shop. She yelled out "doo dooooooo!!!" in the middle of the aisle). :)

Transaction Details:

13- Charcoal $7.99 ea- (13- $4.00 MQ and 13- $3.00 FL Q)= $12.87
13- KC BBQ Sauce $1.69 ea- (13- $2.00 MQ and 6- $1.00/2 FL Q)= Free+++++
13- Pork- various prices= $12.98 (5- $6.00 MQ)= Free+++++
4- Covergirl Products $2.49 ea- (2- $2.50/2 MQ and 4- $2.00 PQ)= Free+++
1- Crest Toothpaste- $1.89 ea- (1- $.50 MQ doubled and 1- $1.00 PQ)= Free+
10- Sundown Vitamins $2.20 to $3.79- (5- $5.00/2 MQ and 5- $6.00/2 PQ)= Free+++
2- Publix Bread $1.25 ea- (2- $2.00 MQ wyb Keebler Snack)= Free++
1- Lime $.25- (1- $2.00 MQ wyb Keebler snack)= Free+++
1- Lemon $.43- (1- $2.00 MQ wyb Keebler snack)= Free++
Bananas $.77- (1- $2.00 MQ wyb Keebler snack)= Free++
2- Crisco Olive Oil $3.24 ea- (2- $1.00 MQ)= $4.49
1- Welch's Grape Jelly $1.50- (1- $.75 MQ)= $.75
1- Half and Half Creamer $1.09- (1- $.55 MQ wyb Welch's)= $.54
4- Kraft Cheese $1.66 ea- (4- $.50 MQ doubled)= $2.64
6- Keebler Sandwich Crackers $2.00 ea- (3- $1.00/2 MQ)= $9.00
4- Keebler Fruit Snacks $1.48 ea- (2- $1.00/2 MQ)= $3.90
3- Healthy Choice Mixer $3.00 ea- (1- Free wyb 2)= $6.00
1- Turkey Bacon- $2.39
2- Tennis Balls $2.99 ea= $5.98
1- Sugar- $2.39
Jalapeno Pepper- $.14
Serrano Pepper- $.18
Okra- $.54
Garlic- $.60
Apples- $1.27
Total: $219.15
Total OOP: $5.45 (-$1.87 before tax)

Note: The cashier didn't take off my $1.00/2 FL Q's for the BBQ sauce, so my total could have been lower. I began to get confused with her system as she was inputting coupons and then taking them off and separating them and piling them up... You get the picture....

8- Charcoal $7.99 ea (7- $4.00 MQ and 7- $3.00 FL Q)= $7.92
8- KC BBQ Sauce $1.69 ea- (8- $2.00 MQ and 4- $1.00/2 FL Q)= Free+++
6- Sundown Vitamins $3.59- $3.79 ea- (3- $5.00/2 MQ and 3- $6.00/2 PQ)= Free++
8- Pork..various prices= $18.58 (8- $6.00 MQ)= Free+++++
2- Campbell's Soup $.75 ea (rang up wrong but didn't realize it until now)- $2.00
2- Lamb Chops- $4.46
1- Cooling Bag- $2.99 (needed this for the ride home for the pork/dairy)
1- Dried Fruit- $2.50
2- Weight Watcher Smart Ones $1.67 ea= $3.94
2- Healthy Harvest Meals $2.00 ea= $4.00
1- Deer Park Water- $3.99
1- Purpose Face Cleaner- $2.39
Pears- $.57
Bell Pepper- $1.85
Total: $192.22
Total OOP: $3.75 (-$3.17 before taxes)
Grand Total: $411.37
Grand Total OOP: $9.20

Note: I will be submitting for a $10 rebate from Kellogg's, so technically I am -$.80 for all of my groceries! Now that's a great day at Publix!

Some Caroline Preschool Cuteness

Wednesday, August 12
She loves to "pose" for her pictures now, but she closes her eyes!

Geese were in the street and she was telling me "Ooh, Mommy...Look...Geeeeesseeee!"

Second Day Art Project
Monday, August 9

Friday, August 7... I dressed her in purple because she was painting a giant purple crayon that day and I didn't want to push her luck with not getting paint on her clothes!
Happy to be at school!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On a mission...a Publix mission...

Caroline and I are once again going to Publix to take advantage of the charcoal deal. Yes, I know, I am insane! I bought 40 $4.00 MQ for the charcoal off of ebay a few months ago and they are literally burning holes in my pocket! Also, the FL Q for $3.00 is expiring today and I have no idea if the stores will accept an expired competitor Q.

I called Tim this morning and asked "Is there anything and I do mean anything, that you want from Publix?" He just laughed and replied, "Do we have room for anything else?" LOL! If the charcoal is there, I plan on buying some random things such as a new contact lens case for Tim (I've been too cheap to purchase this for full price), tennis balls (hey, why not?), and a glass carafe for Caroline's iced tea.

Alright, wish us luck and pray for Caroline's patience (and mine too!). :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Super Savings...Publix-Saved $289.61!!

Full Picture
Right Side of Picture
Left Side of Picture
Charcoal and Water Picture
I had such a wonderful experience yesterday at the Lovejoy Publix, that I decided to go back today. Since Food Lion (FL) is considered a competitor (I called to confirm again today), I needed to use some more charcoal coupons. I found a raincheck I had for 12 bags at $6.99 each, so with the MQ and the FL Q, the charcoal would be free. I had to use all the raincheck quantity, so I gathered all the necessary coupons, made a quick inventory of essentials around the house and headed out the door. I just love a great challenge!

Transaction Details:
12- Charcoal $6.99 ea- (12- $4 MQ and 12 $3.00 FL Q)= Free+
12- KC BBQ Sauce $1.69 ea- (12- $2.00 MQ and 6- $1.00/2 FL Q)= Free++
13- Pork Various Prices $5.47, $3.90, $2.25, $3.10, $1.17, $1.61, $1.27, $2.23, $5.99, $1.01, $1.79, $1.73, $1.81- (12- $6.00 MQ and 1- $3.00 MQ)= Free+++++++
2- Crest Toothpaste $1.89 ea- (2- $.50 MQ and 2- $1.00 PQ)= Free++
1- Gallon Milk $2.00- (Free MQ rang up $4.00)= Free++
1- Half Gallon Chocolate Milk $2.49- (Free MQ wyb gallon milk rang up $3.75)= Free++
2- Covergirl Products $2.49 ea- (1- $2.50/2 MQ and 2- $2.00 PQ)= Free+++
1- Publix Bread- $1.25- ($2.00 MQ wyb 2 fruit snacks)= Free++
1- Knox Gelatin- $1.39- (1- $4.00 MQ)= Free+++
1- Honey Bunches Pecan Cereal $1.99- (1- $2.00 MQ)= Free

2- Fruit Snacks- $1.47 ea- (2- $.50 MQ doubled)= $.95
1- Crisco Olive Oil $3.25- (1- $1.00 MQ)= $2.25
2- Kraft Cheese- $.66 ea- (2- $1.00 MQ)= $1.32
1- Publix Cheese Pizza $4.69- (1- Penny item)= $.01

1- Bath Sponge- $1.69
3- Deer Park Water- $3.99 ea= $11.97
3- Mexicorn $.87 ea= $2.61
1- Black Bean Can- $.83
1- Corn Tortilla- $.99
1- Lays Potato Chips- $2.00
1- Dozen Eggs- $1.39
1- Stone Ground Mustard- $3.45
1- Turkey Bacon- $2.39
1- Oscar Mayer Lunch Meat- $3.00
1- bag of Red Potatoes- $3.99
1- Grapes- $1.13
1- Strawberry- $2.50
Onions- $1.34
Okra- $.54
Apple- $.63
Watermelon- $3.49
Spaghetti Squash- $1.95

Total: $291.95
Total OOP: $2.34 (-$5.54 before tax)

I had to have manager intervention at the very end because the last $6.00 MQ put me with a negative balance. After he approved it, he just shook his head in disbelief but he smiled. The customers behind me were amazed and even one guy said he wanted to be my friend. :)

It has been reported that the registers have been reprogrammed to accept more than the $50 MQ limit. Obviously they have! Yay!!! This is great news for couponers! But, remember to have equal amount of items as coupons. This helps keeps the manager away. ;)

I decided at the last minute to use my $4.00 Knox printable coupon to help get my OOP as low as possible. I am very glad I did!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My New Favorite Thing....

Two of my favorite things are coffee and tea. I LOVE them! We have several Teavana shops in our area and they have the best tea! BUT, they are NOT cheap. Several months ago, my sister and I were at Phipps Mall and walked into Teavana. After tasting a couple choices we decided we would splurge and buy some tea. The salesman forgot to mention that it would now cost us about $100 for a pound of tea!! I swear it must have had liquid gold in it! I looked at him and asked "Seriously? For a pound of tea?" He was dead serious! We just busted out laughing at the poor sapsucker! Fools, we are not! To make a long story short, we walked out of there with 1/4 lb of tea split in two bags for both of us....around $15 each.
A few weeks ago, Caroline and I headed into the city to go shopping when we walked into Teavana. They had a tea that was perfect for children because it is served chilled. It is a Roobios Tea, which is extremely high in antioxidants, relives allergies, aids in digestion, and increases iron absorption. It's a mixture of the Apple Lemon Pomegranate and the Tarocco Ruby Orange. Needless to say, it is YUMMY! The selling factor for me was the aids in digestion. Caroline has constipation issues, so I am always trying to find ways to help her.
I was also in the market for a new tea ball (strainer) when the salesman showed me my new favorite thing. It's called the Perfect Teamaker and it is! You boil your water, put the tea in the cup, pour water over and let steep and then you sit it on the cup of your choice and it literally flows into the cup. How cool! No more straining, shaking out a tea ball, or scooping out random pieces of twig that snuck into your cup. I spent around $40 total (for 1/4 pound of tea and the teamaker. Money well spent in my opinion.

Super Shop at Publix today! OOP $1.00!!

Went to Food Lion in Fayetteville today...I guess it's okay...
Picture is minus 4 more bags of Charcoal!

I have been dying to do the Charcoal deal at Publix but it hasn't really been the most opportune time for various reasons. NOW, was the time! Tim's out of town and it's just us girls, so we loaded up in the car and went for a drive to Fayetteville. They had a new Food Lion (FL) open up and as an avid couponer, I was dying to check out the competition (or great deals!). We walked around and gathered a few coupons (no tearpads, sniff..sniff) and happily went on to Publix. We really didn't need anything because I went to Trader Joe's on Wednesday (spent almost $60 on organic produce and wine). But, my new found knowledge of the close FL was burning a hole in my pocket, along with the competitor coupons. :)
Here's the scoop...
Transaction Details:
6- Kingsford Charcoal Bags- $6.99 (raincheck price)- (6- $4.00 MQ and 6- $3.00 FL Q)= Free+
6- Pork packages- Various prices- $14.13- (6- $6.00 MQ)= FREE++++
6- KC BBQ Sauce- $1.69 ea (4- Free BBQ wyb Charcoal and 2- $2.00 MQ and 3- $1.00/2 FL Q)= Free++
1- Gallon Milk- $2.00 (Free MQ rang up $4.00)= Free++
1- Half gallon Chocolate Milk- $2.49 (Free MQ rang up $3.75)= Free++
1- Cover girl make up sponge- $2.49 ($2.00 PQ)= $.49
1- Cover girl pencil sharpener- $2.40 ($2.00 PQ and $2.50/2 MQ)= Free++
2- Pepperidge Farm Bread- $1.99 ea (2- $.55 MQ)= $2.88
2- Glad storage bags- $2.50 ea (2- $.75 MQ)= $3.50
2- Deer Park Water- $3.99 ea= $7.98
1- Purpose Face Soap- $5.59 (no coupon)
1- Strawberries Pack- $2.50
Grapes- $1.64
2- Cloves of Garlic- $.62
Okra- $.64
1- Green Onion- $.50
1- Snow Peas- $.64
2- Jalapeno Pepper- $.12
Total: $139.68
Total OOP: $1.16 (-$2.96 before tax)
Note: The two milk coupons gave me unexpected overage! Yay!
Note: I only paid $1.00 OOP because the man who was bagging my groceries was so impressed, he pitched in the $.16 so I wouldn't have to get back a ton of change. After a bit of "no thank you's", I just gave in. So thanks!
Note: I had heard that the registers for Publix had been reprogrammed to accept more than the $50 coupon limit and obviously they have. I had to have manager intervention because the last coupon (the free chocolate milk) put me into the negatives. That is why my total is so low.
All in all, I am very pleased with my shopping trip and look forward to making more deals work later this week. I am trying to drastically reduce our intake of processed foods and increase our fruit and vegetable intake, along with fresh meat. So this should be very interesting! I am hoping you will continue to see a drastic decrease in boxed foods and an increase in 'real' foods.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Centennial Park Fountain Fun!

The Friday after our vacation, we decided to go with our dear friend Tutti and her children to Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta to play in the water fountains. The kids LOVED it! Tutti's boys had the most fun as they were running in and out of the spraying water. The girls who were a bit more reserved, loved playing inside the Olympic Rings and watching the others. We then had a picnic lunch and watched the "water show".

Caroline standing in the middle of the Olympic Rings fountain.
Wow! Check out the water!
Tutti and all the kids!
Try, try again...RUN now!
Whew...we made it!
Caroline chowing down on her PB&J sandwich.
Torbin, Ruth, and Thomas watching the "Water Show" and eating.
Note: Check out our Market Totes (mine is Pink and Tutti's is black). If you don't have one, you NEED one! They make the best picnic baskets, pool bags, car baskets, etc... RUN and get one!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

First Day of Preschool

Caroline started her first day of preschool (2 year old) at Stockbridge Methodist. We love her teacher! Miss Jessica is so energetic and has such an awesome chemistry with her students. You can tell she honestly loves her job!

It was kind of a bittersweet morning for me. I was glad that she was going to school (I'm a former teacher and BELIEVE in early education), but I was also really sad. I was with her every day this summer and now she's in school three mornings a week. Now, don't get me wrong, I am grateful for some time to get things done in the A.M., but I miss her! AGGHHH, my baby girl is growing up!

When we dropped her off, we were snapping pictures like crazy people (as were the other parents). Tim suggested that we say our good byes, but I quickly said "not a good idea". We needed to sneak out quietly. As soon as I said that, Caroline's head popped up and WAHHH the tears came. We told her good bye and we loved her and walked out the door. We waited outside the door for a few seconds. We obviously looked like first timers and immediately another mom asked which one. "Oh, she stopped crying as soon as you walked out the door." Whew!

As we were pulling out the driveway, I remembered that I forgot to remind her teacher that Caroline is potty trained. Crap! I just knew that we were going to pick her up and she would be wearing new clothes. I was so bummed (first because the other clothes weren't as cute and second, because I was stupid to forget!). But, I was wrong! Miss Jessica said she went to the potty and "did her thing". :) Yay!

We can't wait until Friday for another successful day at school!

Oblivious that we were taking pics!
Look at her name on the table! So cute!
Each day, Caroline's teacher posts the "news" of the day.
The first stop of the morning...math center!
Family picture! She doesn't look too impressed! Notice I took the diaper bag...what was I thinking??? Friday, we will have a bookbag!
On the way to school. She wanted to take her tennis racquet with her!
Waiting on me to stop taking pictures so we can get in the car!
Caroline's Very FIRST picture of her First day of school!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Part 3 of THE Story...

It is taking me much longer than I had hoped to publish Our Adoption Story. This is Part 3 and there will be a Part 4, which will be the end. I have been typing on this for months and even though it has been over a year now, it is still really hard for me. I was a normal girl, leading a VERY normal life and then BAM! my life turned into craziness! Please bear with me as it still feels like I am pouring salt into wounds. These last two parts of the story are the most difficult. I became a VERY strong person during this and realized that even though I didn't "birth" my child, I have that Mother Bear instinct. This is part of the fight for my life and Caroline's life....

I need to make sure that all my readers understand that my agency, who seems to sound somewhat decent in this story was NOT. Now, I do not fault most of the workers, but I do blame the agency's directors for their grave mistakes. They knowingly hired a banned facilitator and known crook in Guatemala to oversee our adoptions. They refused to pay money that was rightfully owed to our foster moms. They also allowed our children to be used as pawns in a very dangerous game. The last one is the one that I refuse to forgive them for....

Scott put us in the taxi van and we were off. It was the last time that I would see my dear friends. (It's truly amazing at how God chose to introduce us to them back in July and then again in September. Looking back, I can see how God was placing dear friends in our path, so that He could use them to get us to safety.) We followed Susanna through winding roads, ones that I would become very familiar with over the next two months. My mom sat in the front seat while I sat in the backseat with Caroline, who sat in a carseat for probably the first time in her life. I held onto my mom's hand for the entire trip. I'm not even sure if I breathed. We arrived at our safe house in a small village outside of a larger one. Our house was buried so deep into the village that I swear you had to have a map to find us.
In any other circumstances, our house would have been amazing and it would have been perfect for a nice vacation or even normal fostering. But, of course, perfect was not the "perfect" word.

I called Tim to let him know that we were safe and Caroline was with us. I will never forget the 'worry' in Tim's voice. He didn't know where we were, had never met Susanna, and was back home in the United States, far away...

Tim said that Teo, his assistant, and other families who were using our agency had been calling him. They all wanted to know where I was and what the hell I was doing. According to Tim, Teo and his assistant were still waiting for us to come down to the lobby, hours after we had left. They had no idea I was gone. God was so good that day! As it turned out, Teo had talked to one of the families that I no longer associate with to find out what room we were staying in. He then talked a housekeeper into letting him into our room. I guess he was surprised to find we had been gone for hours! I wish that I could have seen his face!

Once we arrived at the house, Susanna ordered us our food and introduced us to the family who lived on the grounds. She helped us to make our house a "home" and then said her goodbyes. We were alone and feeling very vulnerable. I know for sure that we didn't talk very loudly and I'm not even sure we breathed out loud. We double locked all the doors, checked the windows, and settled into our new residence.

I called one of the worker's from the agency to let her know we arrived safely. She informed me that Teo was furious and for her own safety she didn't want to know where we were. I had already decided that at that moment, NO ONE would no where we were because I wasn't sure what Teo was capable of. My mom and I packed a small bag of important documents, dollars, quetzals (Guatemalan currency), diapers, formula and one change of clothes for each of case of an emergency exit. Crazy, eh? What's even crazier was the fact that we slept with our clothes and shoes on and had a large knife under the mattress. For days, we slept like this (in a full size bed).

What was going on with our agency and Teo? Because of the "stunt" we pulled, Teo suspended all visits for adoptive parents. I guess he wanted to pull in peer pressure. He had one of his "friends" (the same one that I no longer speak with) put out an email telling "the truth" of the situation. It was a rather interesting email that went out...I may publish it one day, but for now I am choosing to keep it private.

The day after arriving, I hired a very trusted taxi driver to take me and the "housekeeper" to the grocery store. I needed a cell phone and we needed food. I put on my sunglasses to help hide the fact that I was American (I'm blue eyed and 5'10". I'm an Amazon compared to the Guatemalan women!!) and I tried not to show my fear. I managed to get a cell phone and some food to hold us over for the next few weeks until we could be "safe". However, I now learned that Teo was about to bring kidnapping charges against me. I was told NOT to leave the house because he was looking EVERYWHERE for me.

Unfortunately, everything was stacked against us. I was basically a wanted felon. And Caroline became even more sick and began wheezing. We needed immediate help. I had my sister join a foster parent message group (under a fake identity) to find out medical contact information. Susanna called her pediatrician to see if he could make a house call for us and my US pediatrician listened to her breathe over the phone. It was bad! We couldn't hide any longer. I called a doctor's office and the taxi driver to come pick us up. I took all my quetzals, put the certified documents into a zippered pocket and covered us up. A new taxi driver showed up to take us. Do I trust him? I had no idea who he was and he didn't speak English. I prayed, Lord, Please help me know the difference between a stranger and a friend. At the moment that prayer went up, the trusted taxi driver called me to tell me that he was sending a friend and he would take me to the doctor. Trust Him....

We got in the taxi and prayed for safety. I was being hunted and needed to be invisible. How exactly do you hide a 5'10" inch blue eyed American? Prayer! We walked into the doctor's office and was never looked at twice. I gave a fake name for myself and Caroline and we sat in a crowded waiting room. We were eventually called back. The doctor who had kind eyes and a gentle smile asked for my paperwork (my legal documents that proved that she was in my legal custody). A knot formed in my throat and I said a quick prayer.
"I don't have them with me, sir."
"Are you waiting for your foster mother to give them to you?" he asked.
"Yes." Is a lie still a lie when your life depends on it?
He assessed Caroline's physical situation. She was very sick. He told us that had we waited one more day, she would have been in the hospital. He gave us some medicine and some instructions on how to keep her hydrated.

We came home and I called Tim. We discussed that I really needed him there with me to help me make some decisions and we needed some supplies that we couldn't get in Guatemala. My mom is a diabetic and didn't have enough medicine and my pediatrician friend needed to send some breathing treatment medicine for Caroline. The problem that we faced was how do we get him into Guatemala without being seen. The agency told us that Teo was watching the airports and the local hotels. Tim flew in and was picked up under a different name. Our beloved taxi driver, who was a bit confused, but never asked questions, picked up Tim and brought him to us.

Seeing Tim opened up a huge flood gate of emotions. For the first time since Teo told me that I would never see Caroline again, I allowed myself to cry. Tim had the needed medicine for my mom and Caroline and brought us supplies that my sister packed.

Over the next few days, we made contact with some missionaries in the area. One family even traveled over an hour to come take us to lunch and to pray with us! I now know that the extra prayer was because my life was about to become a rollercoaster ride.

Tim and I spent hours on the phone with the agency discussing the situation. At this time, the accountant told me that I was on my own and they had washed their hands of me. The directors also decided to abandon me and let me either sink or swim. Two of the workers stuck by my decision and kept me informed of what was going on behind the scenes. What was brewing? International kidnapping charges...

It was time for Tim to leave and return home. At this time, my kidnapping charges had not been finalized. They were only being discussed. The morning Tim was supposed to leave, I received an email. My kidnapping charges had now been put on paper. It was official. I was now a fugitive and had a warrant for my arrest.

Publix Shop Friday night 7/31

We had Caroline's open house at her new preschool on Friday night. After we left there, I dropped the familia off and headed to Publix. I had some awesome coupons that produced major overage expiring today (7/31) and I refused to let them go to waste. However, I didn't have much of a plan, forgot coupons and the calculator and seemed to be aimlessly wandering the aisles! My friend Tutti met me at the store, brought me some coupons and we "bartered" for some of the J & J products. ;)

Transaction Details (be sure to check bottom for some notes):
12- Band aids- $.79 ea (6- $3/2 MQ and 4- $5.00 PQ)= Free++++
3- J & J First Aid Kits- $1.47 ea (see below)
3- J & J gauze- $1.79, $1.99, $1.99 (3- $3/2 MQ and 2- $5.00 PQ)= Free++++
12- Apple & Eve Juice- $1.39 ea (12- $.50 MQ doubled and 12- $1.00 PQ)= Free++
7- Reach Floss-$1.49 ea (7- $1.00 MQ and 7- $1.00 PQ)= Free++
3- Carefree Pads- $1.39 ea (3- $.50 MQ doubled and 1- $3.00 PQ)= Free++
2- Velveeta Boxes- $.99 ea (1- $1.50/2 MQ)= $.49
2- Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges- $2.00 ea ($.55 MQ)= $2.90
3- Lipton Organic Green Tea- $2.39 ea (3- $1.00 MQ)= $4.17
1- TGIF sandwich- $2.99 ($1.00 MQ)= $1.99
1- Gatorade 8 pack- $5.00
2- Milk- $2.25 ea= $5.00
2- Water- $4.49 ea= $8.98
1- Seedless Watermelon- $3.99 ($1.00 MQ wyb laughing cow)= $2.99
1- Cantaloupe- $2.00 ($1.00 MQ wyb laughing cow)= $1.00
7- Saturn Peaches- $.25 ea= $1.75
1- Half and Half- $3.39
1- Coors Light- $9.49 (for a tennis party)
2- Arnold Bread- $1.99 ea= $3.98 (rang up wrong...refunded money)
1- Egg- $1.39
1- Carrot Stix- $1.99
Apples- $1.67
Bananas (not pictured)= $.54

Total: $129.88

Total OOP: $19.08 ($13.75 before tax)

Note: Cashier did NOT take off $5 competitor coupon. Didn't realize it until much later.

Note: I forgot to give a $1.00 Target coupon for the apples. :(

Note: When I got to the car, I knew my total was quite a bit higher than it should have been. I scanned my receipt and realized the Arnold Bread rang up wrong. I took my receipt and the two loaves of bread back in the store. The manager greeted me, I told her the situation and we walked back to the bread aisle. She couldn't grasp the signage. She kept telling me that the sign said for the 22 oz loaf and I had the 1lb and 6 oz loaf. I insisted that it was the same item. She said no...What?? So, I had to pull 4th grade math teacher and break it down for her. There are 16 oz in a pound so 16 plus 6 is 22 oz. This took several tries before she gave up and walked me to the customer service desk. I received a refund for $4.00ish. The first loaf at $2.98 was refunded and then a price adjustment for the second loaf plus some tax.

So, all in all my total should have been around $8.00. I have to look at this in a positive taught me a lesson. ALWAYS check the receipt BEFORE you walk out AND WATCH those registers!