Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New pictures of Carmon?

I had a comment on my blog from a mom (Melissa Devine) who recently traveled to Carmon's orphanage. Here's some of what she said:

"We received our referral in August for our daughter and traveled in October. We were able to visit the orphanage. The babies at Yugan are well cared for and defiantly loved. The orphanage is a big building with one floor that we saw with the babies. There are 6 baby rooms with about 5 babies in each room. The nannies have a bed in the room and sleep there, I get the feeling the nannies spend most of the time at the orphanage and then go home for vacations or days off. The little babies spend their days in big baskets and then the older babies get moved to potty chairs. The orphanage has no heat so they are all bundled up in the winter. Overall, I have to say that the babies are very well cared for and that should give you some peace. We sent a care package to Lily and the nannies gave her some of the things back once we arrived. They also gave us a photo album of pictures from when Lily arrived and a necklace for the baby. They really like to stay in touch with the families and encourage email and letters. We even received a Christmas Card from them! "

Wasn't that so sweet of her?

Update: Unfortunately for those of you who didn't get a chance to see them, I had to remove the additional pictures I received from Melissa because she was asked in China not to publish the photos from her visit to the orphanage on the internet. If you'd like to see them, you can leave a comment for me with your email address and I will gladly share them with you.


Information is flooding in right now, but I promise our China adoption posts will taper quickly. I will get back to the blog's money saving ideas very soon, but, at this point, I'm overjoyed at what the Lord has entrusted us with. I just got the translation of Carmon's Medical Examination. I will post all of the verbage here but feel free to skip what's not interesting to you. I am well aware that this information is more appealing to me than to the majority of you.

"Yue Mei Hua, female, was born on June 8, 2008. On June 9, 2008, an abandoned infant was discovered at the gate of Yugan County Social Welfare Institute. A bamboo basket with the infant inside was discovered by an elderly lady who lives at the Institute, Lu Mei Jiao, when she was on her way out in the morning. Grandma Lu Mei Jiao immediately reported her discovery to the County Police. Lu Mei Jiao brought the infant into the Institute.

Upon examination, medical staff confirmed this was a healthy newborn. She has a round face and thin hair. Also placed in the bamboo basket was a printed record of a child’s immunization record.

After formal approval by the civil affairs bureau, this infant was officially admitted to our institute. We named her Yue Mei Hua. Because in ancient times, our county was called Gan Yue, we gave her the family name “Yue.” We named her Mei Hua, because “Mei” means pretty, and together with “Hua” because we foresee brilliant talent for her. We wish for her to grow up with high intelligence and brilliance. All immunizations for Yue Mei Hua are up to date and we continue our wishes that she will grow healthy and thrive.

According to her physical condition at discovery, under the diligent care of our loving staff, when little Mei Hua was under a month old, she drank a mixture of 50 ml reconstituted powder milk and 200 ml of warm water with a small amount of sugar. She ate a bottle every 2-3 hours, 50-70 ml per feeding. Within a month, under loving care, she had good suckling reflex and slept soundly most of the time.

At about 2 months, Mei Hua’s physical growth made great strides. Mei Hua’s four-limb movement was rhythmic and strong, and her focus improved age appropriately. She spent more time being awake and liked to look at her surroundings. Her eyes could track movement.

Now, little Yue Mei Hua can stand for extended periods of time when held under her arms for support. When lying on her belly, she can raise her head up. She knows when her name is called. She can distinguish between strangers and acquaintances. If she fusses, her caretaker calls her name several times, and immediately little Mei Hua stops crying and looks for the source of the voice calling her.

Little Mei Hua enjoys when her caretaker sits next to her and chats with her and plays with her. When she’s happy, she laughs out loud. When talked to, she replies with “eh eh” conversation. She can hold a play block tightly in each hand. She has an active character. She has quick reflexes. She has a ready smile. She likes colorful, sound-making toys and especially enjoys being held by her caretaker to go outdoors to play.

Little Mei Hua’s physical condition is good. She seldom gets sick and has a good life schedule. She gets up at 5:30 a.m. and goes to bed at 7:30 p.m.; she sleeps about 4 hours during the day and sleeps soundly. She eats 240 ml per meal; one to two bowel movement per day; normal urination.

Most recent measurements: Weight 6.5 kg; Length: 60 cm; head circumference 40 cm; chest circumference 44 cm."

Carmon's Name

Yue Mei Hua: Carmon's Chinese name is made up of three English words. The first word/name is her last name. Yue is the old way of calling the county she was abandoned in (Yugan). It is very common for all children in one orphanage to share the same surname. Yue can be translated "to exceed" or "to overcome". Mei Hua (pronounced: May Hwah), though it is comprised of 2 Chinese characters and translated as 2 English names, is actually, as a unit, her first name. Mei means "beautiful" and Hua means "intelligent", "talent", or "splendid". When I received the referral call from Jackie Harrah, I immediately (and totally lacking Tom's input, to be completely honest) decided to name our daughter Carmon Mei. We had actually already chosen to name her Carmon after my sweet sister who is also my best friend. We were thinking we would keep some part of her Chinese name but weren't sure what that would be. While I was exercising several days ago, I was again thinking about her middle name and was contemplating Mae. Our older daughter is named Madeleine after my paternal grandmother and that grandmother's middle name was Mae. In addition, our two biggest kids have referred to Carmon as Mei Mei a little because that means "little sister" in Chinese. So it seemed fitting when we found out her given name included Mei to choose that. However, after talking to a Chinese man at Tom's office, we decided to make her English middle name be her full first name: Mei Hua. He explained it in such a way that the two names comprise the one name; there's no middle name in a Chinese name even though there are multiple names that make up the first name, and he let us know that it just doesn't really make sense to take only one word of the name.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday's story

If you're bored by the minutiae, I don't blame you. Really. But I am about to ramble and try to document ALL the details I can remember about yesterday for the sake of our new daughter and those of you who DO want to know every last detail.

It's hard to know how far back to start the story so I'll just jump in with the actual "call day". On a whim, I made arrangements with Brandi to meet a Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando to spend the day. It's a lovely garden and it's free on Mondays if you get there before noon. The kids like to go there because they have a lot of freedom to roam in a woodsy or open atmosphere (depending on where you go in the garden).

We got there about an hour before Bran since she had to make an unexpected stop at an Urgent Care Center for her oldest who has bronchitis. So we waited:

Jack and Price rocking on the balcony overlooking the lake

Madeleine is quick to pose as requested.

Madeleine, Price, and Jack perched along a railing

Then, Brandi and her kids arrived. We started out with a picnic lunch and a few more pictures. I know...SHOCKER!

Jack and Madeleine overlooking the lake arm-in-arm, TOTALLY not posed :).

Price and I with the lake in the background.

Brandi exploring the river in the jungle with the kids

We were in Sunniland (citrus tree grove) when I got "THE CALL":

I was crying on the phone almost immediately. I was SHOCKED!! We weren't expecting a call about a referral for AT LEAST another week or two. When caller id on my phone showed that it was Harrah's, I thought I was in trouble. You see, we've had a bit of trouble getting our home study updated so that we could get the other necessary paperwork updated to adopt from China. I recently received a call from Jackie Harrah (of Harrah's Adoption Services, as in THE PRESIDENT OF THE COMPANY) urging me to move more quickly to complete the necessary paperwork. In my defense, just let me say that I have dragged my feet at NO TIME during this process. Sometimes, things take time though. So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard the words: "You have a referral!" Jackie Harrah was so sweetly excited for us. She told me that our daughter's name is Yue Mei Hua, that she has fair skin, that she was born on June 8, 2008, that her toes were going wild in the pictures, and that she is from the Jiangxi province. That's about all I remember from the phone call. She didn't even take that opportunity to remind how serious it is now that we get done with our home study. Thanks, Jackie :).
So, I immediately called Tom. If you know us, you know our 21 month old son has had some seizures recently. Let me tell you how unhappy he was to hear me crying and speaking unintelligibly! Here's some viedo of me telling him the specifics.

I immediately started contacting my closest friends and family. This led to a LOT of wandering, aimlessy and unintentionally, around the maze that is Leu Gardens. Several times, Brandi told me that I had to focus and get us out of that place for the love of all things human and heavenly. OK, maybe she didn't use those words, but I'm pretty sure that's a good interpretation. However, before they melted down, the kids had a sweet moment of cooperation initiated by Price and Gracie.

And let me just say, THIS POST WAS A LABOR OF LOVE! Dial-up is not the easiest thing to deal with when patience ISN'T your virtue. There are more things about the day to tell that I will post later. I imagine you'v eread about enough for now. Hope you all enjoyed it!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A departure

I don't normally share our family's personal business on this blog, but we are too excited and willing to let this be shared with anyone willing to look. Today, I received a call from our adoption agency that we RECEIVED A REFERRAL. To those of you not familiar with adoption lingo, that means that a specific child was matched with our family's profile and we received the notification about who she is. Please join us in welcoming our newest daughter: Carmon Mei Chitty. She was born June 8, 2008 so she is a little over 6 months old.

I will post a more complete story here tomorrow, but I'll start with these. We are so thankful that the Lord has entrusted Carmon Mei to us.

Who doesn't love some free Chick-Fil-A?

This is pretty self-explanatory:
Let me know if it's not clear :).

Friday, December 26, 2008

And a free audiobook, too.

While we're in the mp3 downloading mood, here's another.

My husband downloaded The Shack and I plan to download John Grisham's new book, The Appeal. I hope to listen to it on our LONG plane trip to China.

Now that Christmas is over...

Now that Christmas is over and the Christmas carols have gone the way of the dodo bird, you might need some new music for your mp3 player. So, click here and get 75 songs free, thanks to Pizza Hut. Not sure I ever expected Pizza Hut to be offering music for free (especially without requiring the purchase of their pizza) but free is free, right?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a circus around here!

Who DOESN'T love the circus? Well, I know some people have a clown problem, but the circus is such good, kid fun. We took the kids last year so we're gonna sit it out for another year or two before we go back, but I'd love to hear how much fun you have there. In case it's hard to make it out on the announcement, if you type in the coupon code 'CLIP" when you order your tickets here, you will save 50% on your second ticket when you buy two. You can also call the Amway Arena Box Office at (407) 839-3900 and mention that same coupon code to redeem your savings.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pampers Gifts To Grow

If you participate in the Pampers Gifts to Grow program that rewards you with various gifts (such as Starbucks gift cards) just for registering codes found inside Pampers products, you're going to want to log into your account and submit the code WEAPPRECIATEU08 for a 10 point bonus.

Free Christmas Music

You may be tired of Christmas music for this year since most radio stations play it 24/7 from the day after Thanksgiving through December 25, but, if not, go here to download a bunch of free Christmas tunes. Amazon is releasing a new song free to download every day, but all the past ones are still available and a few new surprises are still to come.

Last minute savings

I was in Old Navy last week shopping with a coupon and scored some really great deals! I wanted to let you know of a promotion they are running through December 24.
They have CUTE pj pants for $6. They are mostly Christmas themed, but they ARE only worn in your house (or, at least, they should only be worn in your house) and your family shouldn't care if you are still wearing Christmas pjs for Valentine's Day, right? There were many other items for $5 and $6...ALMOST as cheap as I can get them at Salvation Army!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

To make the Publix Deals sweeter

To make these Publix deals even sweeter, use this coupon to save an additional $5 off your $30 purchase at Publix. It does specifically state that there is a 1 print limit on the coupon so please have integrity and only print and use it once.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Moneymaker on bagged lettuce, fresh produce, and Revlon nail polish at Publix

Today, at Publix, I got over $80 worth of groceries for $13.35!! Woo hoo! The overage on the bagged lettuce, fresh produce, and Revlon nail color I bought helped!

Fresh Express bagged lettuce is on sale BOGO ($3.49/2). Use the coupon here for $2.00 off each bag (Thanks, Southern Savers). Then use the coupon that is on the front of the most current Advantage Buy Savings Catalog available at the front of the store for $1 off fresh produce when you purchase 2 bags of Fresh Express lettuce . Celery is on sale for $0.89 and Florida tangerines are 10 for $1. However, you can use the $1 Advantage Buy coupon for any produce you choose.

Also, Revlon nail color is on sale for 40% off its regular price of $3.29 making it $1.97 per bottle. There are PLENTY of Revlon coupons for $2 off a color cosmetic product and you can stack it with the $2 off a Revlon product from Publix's previous Advantage Buy Savings Magazine to make some serious overage.

Head on over to Cassie's blog for more great deals at Publix!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Free Dinner at Morton's Steakhouse!

Get free mini burgers at the bar of Morton's Steakhouse this Sunday, Dec. 21 from 5 to 6 pm. The deal is to celebrate the company's 30th birthday. No purchase necessary. I personally confirmed with Morton's that all locations will be serving these burgers and you can help yourself to as many as you like. Sounds like a great free date to me!

Also, through Sunday, Dec. 28 the restaurant has a three-course dinner for $49.50 that This offer includes a choice of salad (Caesar Salad or Morton's Salad Single), a Single cut filet mignon, a choice of seafood (Broiled Sea Scallops, Colossal Shrimp Alexander, or Jumbo Lump Crab Cake) a choice of a Signature Potato or Fresh Vegetable Choice, and a choice of Morton's Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake or Key Lime Pie. WOW!

All 80 Morton's locations are offering both deals.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TODAY ONLY @ mycokerewards.com

This may sound corny, but I save my codes for a day such as this. A while back, on a different day when My Coke Rewards was having a similar promotion, I decided to start saving my codes in a spreadsheet to maximize my reward values. So, today, I was able to put in 10 codes (the max allowed for a single day) and get double points for all of them.
Not familiar with My Coke Rewards? Go here to read more. It's an easy way to turn the money you spend on Coca-Cola products into future savings.

Discover Card Promotion

If you already have a Discover Card and have been doing or plan to do any shopping at malls by January 4th, listen up.
So, go dig around for any receipts that may help you out and be sure to save the ones from future purchases. I love how they give you a chance to take advantage of this offer even after Christmas, when you have your Christmas money to spend. For more information or to find a mall near you that's participating, click here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How much is your computer on?

The U.S. Department of Energy's states, "For energy savings and convenience, consider turning off the monitor if you aren't going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes; and both the CPU and monitor if you're not going to use your PC for more than two hours." Computer monitors account for a large portion of a computer’s energy use. To manage energy usage, turn monitors off when not in use.

Reducing your computer's power consumption can be a surprisingly easy way to save money, do a little something for the planet, and extend your equipment's life. Assuming that you shut down your computer for 16 hours a day (versus keeping it active 24-7), you could save $0.16 and 2.63 pounds of carbon dioxide per day, or 960 pounds per year. A car emits about 2,666 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, meaning that the energy you will save over the course of the computer’s life (3 years = 2,880 lbs) will equal a bit more than taking a car off the road for a year.

A computer and monitor turned on for 2 hours a day costs $1.44 per month. A computer and monitor turned on for 10 hours a day costs $7.20 per month. A computer running for 24 hours a day costs $17.28 per month. Do you REALLY need to use your computer for more than 2 hours a day? Try allotting an amount of time each day to check email, pursue money-saving scenarios, read blogs. etc. Then turn your computer OFF for the day. Not only will you save more than $15 a month, you'll get WAY more done around your house.

Furthermore, in the average home, 75 percent of electricity used to power electronics is consumed while the products are off. To save energy, simply plug your electronics into a power strip with an on/off button and turn them off when not in use.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dining Dough from Dining Deals

I will admit to being a full-on AM radio talk show junkie. There; I did it! Now you get to benefit from it. I recently heard an ad on AM 660 WORL for Dining Dough sold through their website. 660 WORL has partnered with local merchants to bring you an incredible deal - $50 gift certificates for $25! Well, that's their normal deal. But, right now, you can get $50 in gift certificates for $15.
So, I called up my friend Jackie, and invited her to have dinner with me at Buca di Beppo. We love that place and I get to "treat" her. I, however, failed to mention that I will be buying dinner for her and me and only spending $7.50 on the both of us. Let me explain. I purchased the Buca gift certificates from 660 WORL's website. I received them in the mail and it was 2 $25 gift certificates. Now, these are actual old-timey gift certificates, not gift cards. So you do have to be prepared to spend the whole thing in one stting, but that shouldn't be a problem.
They also sell gift certificates for Bubbalou's BBQ, Bayridge Sushi, Wasabi Japanese Cuisine, Nature's Table, Super Suppers, and others.

Free Ham Steaks, Broccoli, Or Cauliflower at Target

Through December 20th at Target, you can get some free food. Use the coupons here for $2 off Archer Farms Ham and $1 off Fresh Broccoli or Cauliflower.

There are singly prepackaged Archer Farms Ham Steaks that sell for considerably under $2 making them free. You do not, however, get an overage. The coupon, when scanned, automatically adjusts to the price of the ham steak.

If you purchase bulk broccoli (not sure if they sell bulk cauliflower), purchase only enough to cost $1 by measuring it using the scales they provide in the produce department. For example, when I bought some last week, broccoli was selling for $1.69 per pound. So, I measured out 3/5 a pound, used a $1 off coupon, and got 3/5 a pound of broccoli for free. You can purchase as many bags of bulk broccoli as you like, but make sure the cashier doesn't weigh all the broccoli together; each bag needs to be weighed separately to be able to use a coupon on each bag.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Free RedBox codes...one for today and one for each of the next 4 Sundays

Another Monday, another free promo code from Redbox. Enjoy!
Today’s Code: 23MJT7

And, as an added bonus, every Sunday in December (and the first Sunday in January), you can get a free rental from Redbox locations inside Walmart stores. All you need to do is use the code specific to the Sunday you are renting on. (So, these work like Monday codes, but we get them in advance.)

The codes are:
12/07/08 - 11MOMS4US

12/14/08 - 11MOMS4UA

12/21/08 - 11MOMS4UN

12/28/08 - 11MOMS4UT

01/04/09 - 11MOMS4UA

Notice the end of the code spells out “SANTA” across all 5 weeks. So, enjoy the codes courtesy of Redbox, Walmart, and the Eleven Moms.

And remember, these codes only work at Walmart locations on the Sunday specified.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Starbucks Indulgences

At this time of year when hot drink drinkers are so enticed by Starbucks, I want to tell you of my money saving habits at Starbucks.

The whole process begins by going to ebay. Then go to the Gift Certificates section of ebay and do a search for a "Starbucks gift card". I usually find the most savings by purchasing the smaller cards. Sometimes, I only save a quarter or fifty cents on a $5 or $10 gift card, but that's still a savings.
Then, once I win the auction at ebay, I follow ebay's link through UPromise, and receive a 1% contribution into my kids 529 College Savings account on my behalf.
Then, once I receive my gift card in the mail from the ebay seller, I go to the Starbucks web page and enter my gift card number. You have to register first, but it's worth it.
Then I take my gift card that was purchased at a discount from an ebay seller for which I received a 529 contribution from UPromise and was registered at the Starbucks reward page to my local starbucks and order my drink.
Then I order a short drip with peppermint syrup and nonfat milk. By using my registered card, the peppermint flavoring is free (savings of 30 cents). I could choose soy milk if I wanted and that would also be free with my card, too.
Did you notice that I ordered a short? That's smaller than a tall and I order that size because it's cheaper AND I can get free refills as well with my registered card.
Now, let me tell you why I just order coffee. Do you know what a latte is? It's made of espresso (concentrated coffee) that is diluted with warm milk and usually has a flavoring added. Do you know what coffee is? "Watered-down" espresso. So, when you order a latte, which is about $2 more than a coffee, you are basically just paying somebody to warm your milk up for you. Then that warm milk is used to dilute the espresso into "watered-down" coffee. Instead, just use the milk they provide and get a flavoring put in your "cheap" coffee for free by using your registered Starbucks card.
One other thing...have you tried the kid's hot chocolate? TO DIE FOR!! And only $1.15. Score!

WalMart will pay for its mistakes!

How often have you stood at the register, convinced that your item scanned at a higher price but unwilling to make a scene by requesting a price check? It happens to me all too frequently. The California Attorney General recently reached a settlement with Wal-Mart over charges that the price of items when scanned at the cash register were higher than the price marked on the shelf. The chain's customers will receive $3 when they are the victim of a price mistake.

In practical terms for Wal-Mart customers in California, this means that the Wal-Mart employee is the responsible party. If the cashier sees an error (or one is pointed out by the customer, which is a morelikely scenario) then that cashier must give the customer $3 off the item. And if the item is less than $3? Well, then it's free. This starts now and goes for four years.

The L.A. Times holiday shopping blog adds that the investigation leading up to this decision was three years in the making and spanned the state. The finding was that overcharged customers paid an average of $8 more than they should have paid.
I'm waiting for this deal to come to Florida!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Free Eco-Friendly Reusable Bags and CHEAP Yogurt Drinks

Publix has $1/1 coupons for Promise Supershots in the Publix Winter Family Savings Magazine. You can stack 2 of these coupons with some that have come out in the Sunday inserts recently ($1.25/1 or $2/2) and make off with 2 4-packs for $1.24-1.49 each.

Then you can mail in your proofs of purchase for free eco-friendly reusable bags. The offer states that only one claim is available per household address, but it does not state how many reusable bags each household can request. So I am going to request multiple bags. The yogurt is a good deal at $1.24 and I definitely live by the policy that "It Never Hurts To Ask".

Click here for the online form for the free reusable bags. The yogurt has to be purchased by December 6 (this Saturday) but you have until the 22nd to get the request postmarked.

Check back later for more Publix deals with coupons from the Advantage But Savings Flyer and The Winter Family Savings Magazine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Best Christmas restaurant promo I've seen so far

I recently posted about all the good deals from restaurants and other retailers on gift cards available at Christmastime.

At Smokey Bones, you get an immediate $5 savings on your meal in addition to a $5 coupon for a future visit when you purchase a $25 gift card. I'd use the gift card and the $5 bonus gift card together on my next visit if our bill came to that much...which it usually doesn't.

When you go to a restaurant, do you have to purchase multiple kids meals for your kids? Next time, try this: buy an adult sized meal and split it between your children. The portions at restaurants are so large that my husband and I can often share a meal. An adult sized meal is usually cheaper than 2 separate kids meals and we usually stretch it to cover 3 kids anyways.

$10 FREE from Coinstar

Coinstar had a record third quarter this year and want to share their boon with you. I think people are diggin' for pennies in their couches because of our economic downturn and wanting to turn their change into cash.

Anyway, now through December 7th, when you try Coinstar's free coin counting option and cash in $40 or more, they’ll send you a holiday bonus.
To find the location nearest to you, click here. Be sure to use the advanced machine locator to find a location near you and which specific cards or eCertificates are offered. Just enter your zip code and choose "Prepaid Card" or "eCertificate" from the menu.

Then mail in the bottom portion of your receipt for your $10 holiday bonus.

Choose from great brands such as Starbucks, Old Navy, Lowes, iTunes, and Amazon.com.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today's RedBox Code

It's been a couple weeks since I posted the free RedBox code, but here it is: CC67M4. For more information about RedBox, visit here and here.