Monday, December 23, 2013

1 Step Forward... 2 Steps Back... 1 Step Forward

Woah woah woah... VERY emotional, stressful, overwhelming and confusing few weeks. Many tears have been shed, and I have realized my strength is merely... survival.

So... I'll dive right in. We have decided NOT to do the injectable cycle in Tulsa. I have already cancelled all of my appointments with the Tulsa Center. That door is closed, and we are relieved and at peace with that decision.

There were MANY reasons why we decided against the treatment Tulsa was offering. I listed them in my last blog. But what caused us to quit on Tulsa completely? The whopper that made us take a GIANT leap back from the hormonal injections? Honestly... I don't have the mental and emotional strength to handle it. Sure, I could endure. But not without hitting rock bottom and taking my son and husband down with me. That's not fair to them, and it is not fair to me. We all need a break! These past 2 years have been nothing short of exhausting. I feel down right worn out, mentally, physically and emotionally. About a week ago I discovered I have reached my breaking point. I was emotionally incapable of pushing myself further, and I had no choice but to take a step back. It felt gooooood.

I visited with a Fertility Specialist in Bentonville, AR last week. I had made the appointment months ago and forgot all about it. As it approached and my feelings toward Tulsa became sour, I decided to meet with this new doctor on a whim. I told her EVERYTHING I had been through. I told her about my emotional and mental stress, all the fertility treatments I had been through so far, and that I was NOT willing to drive 3.5 hours to see a doctor who is going to charge me $100 just to hear my husbands test results over the phone. I said I want to start small and work our way up, and I am not willing to give up on my body and I have faith in my ovaries, no matter their condition. We talked for over an hour and for the FIRST time, I FELT HEARD. She was caring, kind, understanding, sympathetic, and the best part is I didn't feel pushed to do anything she suggested. The choice was allll mine! FINALLY. After 4 doctors, I have found the one! *applause*

My Medical Records are being faxed to my new awesome possum doctor today and she will review them with me and give us a second opinion. If we decide to move forward with a smaller treatment option with this new doc, ALL the monitoring can be done in Branson. This was the icing on the cake to a wonderful appointment. No driving! Seriously people... this is a big deal. The Tulsa doctor didn't allow any monitoring to be done outside their facility. So that alone brings my anxiety down about 17,000 notches :)

We ARE still trying to conceive. Honestly, I will never be able to fully "give up". But for now, I am comfortable with the effort we have made thus far, and I know my limits. We are praying this new, fabulous doctor can help us come up with some more simple steps towards conceiving.

Please pray for us as we continue this journey. We are headed in a new and peaceful direction, but that doesn't mean I feel better about my infertility. I feel the pain of it every day, and my lack of hope in the ability to conceive is pretty heavy on my heart. I need prayer. WE need prayer as we continue to take steps on this broken road.

Monday, December 16, 2013

*choo choo* All aboard the Potty Train!

My last few posts have been more than depressing, so I will follow them up with a happy post. Your welcome. 

Potty Training. Those two words used to stress me out. We had tried several times to get Jack out of diapers, and each time failed. I kept thinking there was something we were doing wrong! I imagined him on dates with his high school sweetie asking her to keep his diapers in her purse during their dinner and a movie outing.
So I pushed him to use the toilet, time and time again. Many "been there done that" Mamas were telling me we were doing everything right, and he just wasn't ready. Yeah yeah, thanks for the encouragement, but he IS ready because by the time he is in high school the 'big purse' fashion will be out of style, and who will carry his diapers in their bag!? So I pushed and pushed again. Ok I wasn't THAT pushy, but I did try to potty train him on multiple occasions.

Well... *drum roll please* you were right Ladies.Yes I said it, YOU WERE RIGHT! :)

Last Tuesday we tried introducing Jack to the potty one more time. It was more of a random act of curiosity than actually trying. This time though, IT CLICKED! He was ready and eager to learn. And boy oh boy did he rock the pants off potty training! No seriously, he hasn't worn pants in 7 days.

I am excited to announce he is officially potty trained! In the last week he has only had one accident, and he has pooped and peed on the potty every time he has to go! WOOOO HOOOO!! Before you start shaking your head in that 'poor woman thinks he is actually toilet trained for good' manner... I realize there will be regressions and accidents, but now I am confident that Jack has the knowledge he needs to learn from those accidents. He is so so so smart! I know every mom says that about her child, but come on guys... Jack is the smartest kid in the whole wide world :)

My Potty Training Techniques:

- First step is teaching him with our words exactly what the rules of potty training are. i.e. "Jack, no more diapers. We are going to put our pee and poo poo in the potty from now on. Where does pee and poo go?" and make him repeat the rules back to you. I still ask Jack throughout the day where his pee goes and he says, "in da potty". That way we are confident in his understanding of the process.

- Naked bottom! This is a MUST! He has not worn pants (or undies) for an entire week. We just introduced underwear today since we are having company this weekend. But the past week of him being able to go sit on the potty whenever he felt the urge was what did the trick! In fact I haven't told him to try going potty in several days. If he needs to pee, he sits on the potty and pees! We are working on teaching him how to pull down and up his undies... that's going to take a lot of practice. But he is doing good so far :)

- We rewarded BIG TIME. If he even tinkled a little in the potty we would jump up and down and do a crazy potty dance and follow it up with a treat. Hershey kisses were his treat of choice. But I switched to M&Ms since the kisses were too much sugar for a kid who pees 27 times a day ;)

For those Mamas who are climbing aboard the Potty Train: don't give up! It's a stressful thing to teach a child, but when they are ready to learn, it will click! Until then, enjoy the convenience of diapers. You will miss them!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Infertility... and beyond!

Okay, I will try and keep this update as simple as I can, but there is A LOT of information to share and sift through. Here goes...

In August we decided to see an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) after trying to conceive for quite some time and suffering problems with ovulation. During that appointment I had a full lab work up scheduled and an ultrasound of my ovaries and uterus. I called a couple weeks later and was told all my tests came back normal. So we gave up on the RE and kept trying to conceive on our own. My body was like, "NOPE" and I still wasn't ovulating and still experienced many symptoms that helped me know something was off. So after much prayer and consideration we decided to schedule the follow-up appointment with the RE.

Now fast forward to December 9th... We had our follow-up appointment to discuss the results from my lab testing and come up with a game plan for treatment. We were under the impression all my lab work was normal, so didn't quite know what to expect. Well it turns out the lab had lost a few of my important blood results and the doctor didn't view them until the morning of our appointment. **LESSON LEARNED: always schedule a follow-up just in case something like that happens** because it just so happens those few lab results were abnormal.

The doctor officially diagnosed me with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). It is a hormonal imbalance that effects the relationship between the ovaries and your brain sensors that trigger ovulation.
With this diagnosis he also informed me that my testosterone levels were high and my right ovary looked off, possibly not functioning at all. We asked the scary question about the possibility of ovulating and conceiving on our own, and the answer was what we knew deep down all along. The chance of me ovulating on my own is slim. Therefore the possibility of conceiving without medical intervention is very low. This was hard to hear.

BUT there is good news for us! Our RE would like us to try what he calls an "Injectable Cycle".
Now there are a LOT of big words I'm about to throw out, but bear with me...
We would start out using a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) called letrozole followed by FSH injections taken daily. Those two medications will stimulate the follicles in my ovaries to grow and produce quality eggs and then an HCG trigger shot will force the follicle to rupture and release an egg (aka, ovulation) ;) then I will go back in a week after I trigger and check hormone levels-- specifically Progesterone-- and then a week after that they will do a beta blood test to test for pregnancy.
To put it simply: I will take injections to help me ovulate.

Ta da!! It's that easy!... NOT. We are very very excited that this treatment is available. But this will not be a walk in the park. My doctor is in Tulsa and we are in Branson. The drive from Branson to Tulsa is 3 hours and 15 minutes. I will be making this drive 4-5 times per medicated cycle. We don't mind the gas expense. its well worth it. But that is a lot of driving time-- approximately 25-30 hours of car time per month... and all with a two-year-old. *phew* That in itself stresses me out more than anything.

So far we have been blessed by my ability to be on my parent's insurance until this March 2014. That Insurance has covered EVERYTHING so far (WOOO!!) But we don't know if they will cover these FSH injections. If they are covered then my entire medicated cycle, ultrasounds and blood tests will be covered. Since I will be kicked off this great Insurance in March, we want to start treatment before then. Because after March we would be paying completely out of pocket and we can say goodbye to all our money... NO THANK YOU. So I am so very grateful to be on an Insurance with excellent coverage! Thanks Mom and Dad!! :)

So, what now? Good question! I will take a Patient Education Course on Monday, Dec 23rd. I will learn about the medications and how to do the injections, since I will be doing all the injections myself. After that course I will wait for a new cycle to begin our medicated cycle. 

How are we feeling? At peace with the decision to move forward with Injectables and hopeful for good results. We are, of course, nervous to move up a level in this journey. Our infertility journey thus far has been hard emotionally, physically and mentally... and that is about to quadruple. So I am already focusing on keeping my stress level down and trying to relax my mind and nerves.
 I have felt extremely overwhelmed this week and have had a few well deserved meltdowns. Right now this is all I can think about and it's consuming my days. I feel stuck in my "Infertility bubble" and have found this all a little tough to talk about in person. But keeping it text like this has been the perfect way to keep you all in the loop. 

For our Prayer Warriors:

-Tyler's Lab tests to come back with good numbers so we can avoid an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)
-That Insurance will cover my injections so we can save a lot of $$
-We can find a sitter for Jack during my many doctors appointments in Tulsa
-Safe travels to and from Tulsa, and a happy toddler during travel (laptop and movies=lifesaver!)
-Calm nerves
-HOPE. Pray I stay hopeful and my pessimism and disappointment don't set in too soon. Even a little hope can carry you through the most stressful times.

Words cannot describe how incredibly grateful we are to have such supportive Friends and Family during this tough season in life. THANK YOU. 
In many ways it is about to get a lot tougher, I already know my emotions react badly with hormones, and I will be on a mega dose of hormones. So I will be asking for a lot of grace and understanding from people in my life. Thank you in advance! 

I will try my absolute hardest to find the joy in this journey. I know God will (and already has) give me strength to carry forward with excitement and peace.

I will continue to update on this blog, so if you ever find yourself thinking, "I wonder how Tyler and Robyn are, and where they are at in their journey?" Check this blog :) OR those who know me, know I am an open book and would be happy to answer any questions you may have! But if it's a particularly awful day I will nicely tell you to ask again in a few days ;-)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

NO pAiN, NO gAiN

Today I am sad. It's quite odd the things that make me ache for more children... My son Jack has a terrible stomach bug and was throwing up all day yesterday. Although I held back a few gags from time to time, I didn't hesitate to snuggle him and risk my clothing, furniture and hair from getting yucky. I just held Jack, rocked him, rubbed his back and kissed his head between sickness. This was a bonding moment and it took me back to the days of 4 a.m. feedings. Quiet and full of unspoken love. Jack and I have had some precious times amidst sickness and sadness. And I am grateful for those sweet, sweet times with my baby. Today I found myself aching to hold more children like that. I want to bless as many children God will give me with snuggles and kisses. I will clean up vomit at 1 a.m. and give hugs and kisses during their illnesses. I will always feel complete as a mother with my Jackie. But today the ache to give him siblings and me and Tyler more children is unbearable. 
Today was actually a big step for me. From the beginning of this journey I have told myself that God was refusing me more children because my mothering is less than perfect. But for the first time since we started trying for Baby #2 I feel like a good mom worthy of bearing more children. I am loving and nurturing, and my future (maybe) children are lucky to have me as a Mommy. *phew* that was even hard to type. I am tempted to follow it up with a bunch of crap about how I know I'm not perfect and I'll always be striving to be a better mom, but you know what, I'm going to leave it alone.
The inability to conceive more children came as a surprise, and sometimes I am still shocked to be fighting this battle. And lately the sadness I feel is inescapable. This quote I found on Baby Center says it all perfectly, so I thought I'd share:
"I am running a race. A race I didn't sign up for. A race I didn't train for. A race I know nothing about. But deep down in my heart I know I'll find that rainbow at the end. 
I hire coaches, paying them a lot of money to help me through it. But not even the most knowledgeable coach in the world can promise me that I'll ever make it to the finish line. They can't even tell me what mile I am currently on. I am struggling between giving it my best and giving up, between running as fast as I can and taking a break to save my energy and money. An exercise so natural to most is turning into a traumatic experience for me. Sometimes I feel I can see the finish line in the distance and get hopeful only to get crushed again and again and ending in hopelessness. 
And then I get back up and start all over. Struggling at every turn, wondering if I am going the right way this time. All of a sudden this race is turning into a full time job and an emotional roller coaster that is out of my control. If I only tried a little harder, then maybe I'll get a little closer. And then again, maybe I'll never make it.
It's a lonely race most of the time - few people are running, mostly undercover. Sometimes there are family and friends standing on the sidelines trying to support, but they don't understand what all this running is about. And sometimes I feel like I am just running myself into the ground." -kati&jerry

Sunday, October 27, 2013

On your mark, get set... WAIT.

"It was only later that I understood enough about female reproduction to realize that if I wasn't cycling, I certainly had not been ovulating. So many emotional highs and lows, and there hadn't even been an opportunity for conception!"
-- Jennifer Saake, Hannah's Hope

When I read this line from my new favorite infertility book, it clicked. I finally was going to be able to explain to others why this journey of trying to conceive, was not actually trying to conceive... because I have not been given even ONE opportunity to "try" and conceive.

This past week has been emotional for me. Our TTC journey is, still, disappointing. As I watch Jack play with other children at the park, and his cousins at family gatherings, my heart aches to give him a sibling to play with. A sibling to giggle and misbehave with. A sibling to make fun of mom and dad and discuss their parents' embarrassing efforts to be "cool". I want it so bad it hurts. Up until this point my goal has been to take this process one step at a time. First goal-- OVULATE. then we will tackle the many steps to achieving a healthy pregnancy and birth. But lately my heart had gotten ahead of our plans and I long for another baby to nurse, cuddle, keep me up all hours of the night, and play with his or her sweet big brother. But in order to get a baby we must conquer so many steps in getting there: ovulate, time intercourse, egg meets sperm, uterine lining remains thick for implantation, embryo implants, hormonal levels remain balanced to keep embryo implanted... for 9 months! And then birth a baby. Man, that is a lot of steps... and we can't get past the FIRST STEP! As I typed that, I shouted with frustration, could you tell?

What this all means is: I am not a good candidate for IUI or IVF until we can get my body to produce follicles large enough to release a viable egg. And my body is not cooperating one. single. bit.
I have been told by one doctor that I will never conceive on my own and we should begin to look into adoption. Another doctor has said to just "wait on my body" and my most recent doctor is intent on loading me up with more hormones to force that little egg out. So many roads we can try... so overwhelming.

I apologize this post was pretty depressing. But lately I have sat down on my computer wanting to blog, and I would choose not to because things are not looking up and I don't want to be a downer, or depress those of you who struggle with infertility as well. But  if I wait to only blog about the positives in this journey, then you will be waiting a long, long time on a new post! So here I am, once again, sharing my life with the world. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Philippians 4:6-7

I have been putting off writing this post for about 2 weeks now... But a few friends have been asking if I have gotten any results from the RE, so I am here to update the world.

I finally got the call a few weeks ago... "Mrs. Braschler, nothing was flagged as unusual and every test came back in the normal range."... Come again? I then made the nurse go through each and every result (all 19 of them) and tell me they were normal, just to be sure. 
After asking all kinds of questions she was unable to answer, she said I should make an appointment with my doctor to discuss a game plan.

I hung up and told my Mom the news (she was right there since I was visiting family in Colorado). Luckily my Mother is wonderful and knows me so well. Her response was, "BUMMER." She understood that this was not good news. When it comes to medical conditions, most people would jump for joy at normal. But my sweet Mom knew this was just another dead end to a exhausting road. 
That night I took some time to consult the Lord about my annoyance with His timing in creating my second child. In all honesty I was really hoping God would feel bad for me and put a baby in my tummy right then and there. God cares deeply for us, but He doesn't care much for time.
I pray for my children each night, and I know God will provide. I don't know when, in what way, or how hard the journey there will be... but I know one day He will provide.

For those of you who know me, you may consider me a patient person, and with most things I am, but when it comes to trying to conceive, I am the least patient person you will ever meet! I get frustrated with my body, obsessed with every twinge and deeply depressed with every period. But I have recently found a calm place in all this. I have been patient and even considering waiting a year before seeing any more doctors. Friends, this is not ME... this patience and peace can only come from one source: The LORD. I have kept Him at arms length in all of this for 18 months, recently I began praying for peace and patience and to my surprise HE delivered immediately. I will not take this peace for granted and I will revel in it as long as it lives in me.

So what now? We will keep trying in as many natural ways as possible to get my cycles back on track. Right now pregnancy is no longer my goal.  My goal is to get my body in a good rhythm and begin ovulating. This will take TIME. Which, luckily, I have :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

the Bad, the Worse and the Ugly

I am writing this post within the sanctity of my bedroom walls. Jack is out in the living room watching the Lorax and I am in here googling "How to calm an angry mom" and "Why am I such a bad mom?"
While google actually gave me some great advice on how to calm my anxiety and strive to be a better Mom, I can't help but think, I can't be the only Mom who traps herself in her room and bawls her eyes out.

Last night I poured myself into bed around 11 p.m. and gave myself a much needed pep-talk. I confidently told myself that tomorrow I was going to be the perfect Pinterest Mother who's pockets are full of crafts, healthy snacks, no TV, and a loving patience at all times. Today was NOT my Pinterest Mom day. In fact about an hour ago I punched a wall... How's that for a confession.

After being woken at 5:30 this morning and barely dragging through Story time at the Library and playtime at the Park, I I NEEDED a break. We have all been there, "Lord if I could just get one hour to myself I will become a Missionary in Africa for the rest of my days..." Lets just say I owe God a heap of Mission work.

Nap time rolled around slowly and I couldn't wait to get Jack down for his nap so I could rest. Jack could sense my eagerness for alone time. He could smell it on me and all during lunch I'm sure he was plotting his nap time demise. It took me two hours to get him to go to sleep. two looooong hours. I was not giving up. He WAS going to nap today. After he was finally asleep I began boiling the water for my hot tea and snuggled onto the couch for a little power nap. Just as I was about to close my eyes, Satan showed up on my front lawn. Okay that was a bit dramatic. It was the lawnmowers and they, too, were out to get me. Jack was awake and crying within seconds of their arrival and I was, to put it lightly, angry. They must not have children, I thought allowed. It took every fiber of my being not to stomp onto my front lawn in tears and tell them just how badly they have ruined my day. Instead of opening the front door I heaved my fist into it and began to cry embarrassing toddler tears. Anger. Defeat. Failure. I began to label myself and decided in that moment of pure vulnerability that I was a bad mom. I was a bad mom for being so desperate for nap time. I was a bad mom for losing my temper. I was a bad mom for thinking I am a bad mom.

I can't do it all, and when push comes to shove, I fail. I lose control. But here I am, an imperfect Non-Pinterest Mom. I don't feed my family all organic food while keeping my grocery budget to an all time low. I do not shower and primp everyday. My child watches far too much Television. I have not dusted my house in months. And I get overly angry at lawnmowers for waking my child. I will say it again, I am not perfect. WE are not perfect. Thank the Lord for imperfection or this world would be boring and far less dramatic. We are all failures at times and even after we have failed, we fail again in how we deal with our original failure. But we are growing and stretching our character every day. And those growing pains can be downright... painful.

But at the end of the day we have the chance to start over.
I know with certainty that Jack will fall asleep in his crib tonight at 8:30, and tomorrow God will give me a wonderful gift... a chance to try, try again.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

One pink LiNe & A glass of wHiNe

I'd love to start this post with a, "long story short" type of intro but lets face it, when are my stories ever short?

I'll start at the very beginning... Our little guy Jack was nothing short of a sheer surprise. He was what my Sister so lovingly called a "one per-center." But I prefer "pill baby" instead. Tyler and I were only 6 months into our marriage when we discovered our bun in the oven.

After Jack was born I was put back on the pill immediately. -over share warning- Yup I was one of those lucky ladies who received a visit from Aunt Flow just weeks after giving birth (yippee).
Well like many women my body didn't take to well to the many side effects of the Pill. I was deeply depressed, extremely hormonal and all in all just not myself. So in March of 2012 we decided to ditch the pill in order to get rid of psycho Robyn. I began charting and taking my BBT (basal body temperature) in order to pinpoint ovulation so we could avoid getting pregnant on those certain days. This is known as the FAM plan (Fertility Awareness Method)
*read Taking Charge of Your Fertility if you want more info*
the FAM plan soon turned into the "family plan"... see what I did there? And we began trying for baby #2 in April 2012.

After a VERRRRY long cycle of 100+ days I went to see my doctor. He prescribed me Provera to bring on a period and sent me on my way. A month later I got my period and then endured yet another long cycle of 100+ days. Another round of Provera was given along with a lot of frustration. Where were my periods? My doctor suggested I begin taking Clomid. Now if any of you know what Clomid is, I'm sure you just shuddered (thank you). I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into when I greedily accepted that prescription, and EIGHT others. I did a total of eight rounds of this fertility drug (most doctors will cut you off at 6 for your lifetime) and one HCG trigger shot in my bum. The trigger shot had a 93% success rate to bring on ovulation and it failed to do so. By the end of my Clomid journey I was on a triple dose and hadn't ovulated once. I had seen more negative pregnancy tests than my heart knew what to do with. I was depressed and irritable from all the hormones and heartbroken from the disappointment faced month after month. I became obsessed with ovulation tests, cervical fluid, pregnancy tests, temping, cramping, timed intercourse and counting and counting and counting of calendar days. Each month that one pink line would mock how broken my body was.

So after much stubbornness I gave up on Clomid and we took a break. I didn't "relax" or stop trying, I just stopped medicating my cycles and tried to ease out of the obsessive mindset that had overtaken my life. The pattern of loooooong cycles fell back into motion immediately and on my 2nd unmediated cycle with no end in sight we finally called in the big guns. A Reproductive Endocrinologist. Our first appointment with the RE was 2 weeks ago and 2 hours from our home. I had a full blood workup and a glucose and insulin resistance test. I am now awaiting my results, but the RE is strongly suspecting PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Unfortunately because of tight money and a husband who currently lives in the next State, we will have to hold off on any kind of treatment plan offered until we can afford it.

So in the mean time we wait for answers and pray for patience.

Supermarket Sweep

I, like many bloggers, have been yearning to finally share my life with the world. All it took was a few life occurrences to make me realize what I have to offer you all.

I am a Stay at Home Mom to a beautiful and energetic 2 year old, Jack. I am struggling with the dreadful "I" word; infertility in conceiving baby #2 and my Husband works extremely hard in order for me to stay home with our little angel. Which means I have added, "save my family a crap load of money" to my day job duties. So here I am, sharing my story with you in hope that I will touch a few lives and weigh down a few wallets. Because I have chosen to use my real name and a dashing photo of my little family, that means my family and friends will get some juicy details on all things Robyn (gasp!) But it's a risk I am willing to take in order to hopefully encourage those of you who are poor and infertile. *Gosh my true humor is coming out already*

Let's begin with the other dreadful word... Money.
I have just discovered my true love of money. Yikes! That sounds much worse than I meant it... No, not what you think. I am in love with being wallet smart and finding exciting and do-able (is that even a word?) ways to feed and clothe my family with the dollar bills God has blessed us with.
This week I have focused on cutting my grocery bill in half. Since that is where I consistently over spend, it was the perfect place to start! I should tell you though, that I am only currently feeding myself and my son. My husband has been job training in a different State for the past 3 months. But even when he returns it shouldn't make much more of a difference since I always cook too much anyway! So this month I have literally and successfully cut our grocery budget from $400 a month to $200. All together now, "How did she do it?" Why thank you for asking! It was simple, but very time consuming. I spent several days (and I am only just getting started) jumping from one store to the next comparing prices and finding where the lowest numbers are truly living. So far I have done Aldi, Walmart and Harps. I compiled a very organized excel spreadsheet (man My Sister-In-Law would be so proud) of all the different prices I found on items in my usual grocery list.
In short: WALMART ROCKS. Walmart beat all other competitors by a loooong shot. Ok ok, I am getting ahead of myself. But if you have not yet discovered the Great Value brand, do it. It will become you new BFF when it comes to saving money.

*Side note: When I finish my grand list I will be sure to post it for all to see*

Something I would encourage everyone to try is meal planning, but with a twist.
Instead of planning your meals and running to the nearest store with a grocery list of all your ingredients in hand. Take the time to find where the best prices are, even if it means going to 4 different stores to gather your ingredients. Nowadays there is no "quick run" to the grocery store. I take inventory of my kitchen and compile a list of only the items we NEED. Then I take it to my spreadsheet and compare prices and re-organize my list into categories of what to buy at which store. Since I keep track of prices I can get a grand total *tax included* before I even step foot in the store! Then I know exactly how much cash to bring with me. When you look at each item individually it seems like a waste of time to drive 2 miles to Harps to save .30 on salsa, but when you begin comparing your receipts those .30 add up to dollars which adds up to Starbucks (only kidding...but not really). Even a small dent in your grocery can make a difference in the long run.
But who knows, I will probably go back to buying my bread at Saks Fifth Avenue by the end of the month. (that one was for you Jess)

For now I am inspired and energetic to begin my thrifty journey to a better future. Soooo cheesy I know, but you get the sentiment.