$14,179.39

That’s how much money I’ve spent online since December 2007. How do I know that? A handy-dandy web and iPhone (and Android, if that’s your thing) app called Slice.

Slice allows you to link you your Gmail or Yahoo mail email accounts to the service so that it can monitor your online shopping activity. After you click the “buy” button on a merchant’s site and a confirmation email is sent to your linked email account, Slice processes the email and creates a record of that purchase. Thereafter, additional emails received from the merchant updating the status of the order or providing shipping/tracking information are processed and linked to that purchase’s record in Slice; enabling you to go to the app for the latest and greatest information about all of your online shopping activity. Slice even brings in tracking information and can display the current status of your shipments on a map.

The available iPhone and Android apps really take advantage of this functionality. The mobile apps send push notifications about the shipping status of your order. On the day that your order is out for delivery by the carrier, you get a “heads up” alert pushed to your phone – so you know to expect that box on your doorstep when you get home. And anyone who has tried to track a shipment from a mobile device before will appreciate the simplicity of opening up the Slice app, clicking on the tracking status of an order, and having the current information display for you complete with a map view with just those few clicks.

Where Slice really got me hooked, though, was its ability to track and display your purchase history and then “Slice and Dice” that information into easily digestible charts that help you to see where you’re spending your money and what you’re spending it on. The Purchase History tab is where you can view your purchases by order or item and use filters to easily find things you’ve bought by Status, Merchant, or Item Type. Slice stores all of your receipts, so you can delete receipts out of your email in-box without worrying about needing to find them again in the future. If you need to return an item or contact a merchant’s customer service department about something you’ve purchased, Slice provides all of the information you need in one secure location. Slice will even monitor your purchases for price drops and help you request a refund if applicable.

On the “Slice and Dice” tab, I was easily able to select just the last twelve months and produce a series of charts to help me analyze my spending.

The charts enable you to easily drill down into categories or merchants to provide further detail. I could see, for example, that I’d spent $1,230.87 on Amazon.com in the last 12 months, and by drilling down into that piece of the pie, I was provided with a monthly spending trend and summarization of how much I’ve spent broken down into categories at Amazon during that time.

I already had all of this information in my email in-box, of course, but the power of Slice lies in its presentation. I’d love to see the app help me take the next step, though, and provide me with some context for my data. Is my spending above or below average? Could I have potentially saved money on my purchases by buying at a different time of the year, when that type of item is typically on sale?

I’ve really enjoyed using Slice and have come to rely on the app for tracking my online spending. I’d recommend it to anyone who shops online, though you have to be comfortable with the idea of another company having access to all of your spending habits and history. Slice is free to use and their website doesn’t say how they plan to monetize their service. Your user data is secure and encrypted at the item level, so items can’t be associated with individuals. But it’s pretty safe to assume that in some way your data is being aggregated and sold – just as with any social network or other “free” service online. For me, the pros of using the service outweigh the potential cons and I’ll continue to use the service. Check it out for yourself at slice.com or by downloading the Slice app from the iTunes App Store or Android Marketplace.

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It’s amazing…

…how you’ll apparently remember Barney songs forever. I haven’t watched Barney since my youngest brother was a little guy – so that’s like at least 15 years or so, but when Max was crying at me the other day and I suddenly busted out with, “Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest, scooping up the field mice and bopping them on their heads!”

Max stopped crying and stared at me. I stared back at him. I think we were thinking the same thought: “WTF what a weird song!”

Home Ec: TNG

After Max was born, we had a good couple of months where we didn’t cook so much. We got into the habit of ordering food to be delivered – Mealeo.com just made it too easy! Unfortunately, that habit was a bad one that was no good for our waistlines or our wallets. So we had to break it. But getting to the grocery store and cooking everyday now that I was back at work proved to be no easy task. What were we to do?

I decided it was time to take advantage of the services offered by Shop Rite. I’ve been aware that Shop Rite offers online grocery shopping with the option of scheduling a pick up at the store or delivery at your house for a while, but going to the store didn’t seem like such a big deal before Max arrived. Now the idea of trudging around a grocery store, fighting crowds while trying to keep a baby happy sounds like torture. So I decided to give online grocery shopping a go and I am in love! It’s so easy to search for an item and then filter down to see just the items that are on special or to narrow down by brand to see the items that you have coupons for. Oh, and matching up coupons to stuff you’re buying is so much easier while you’re shopping online, versus trying to shuffle through clipped coupons in a coupon organizer in the aisle at the store! Combine the ease of finding items on special and/or items that you have a coupon for with the fact that you’re not wondering the aisles picking up impulse buys and I’ve got to think that we’re saving money versus going shopping at the store.

I’ve also gotten more organized about meal planning. Now that we have cable again, I discovered the show, “Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day”. In that show, Rachael presents five recipes that can all be started in one day and finished (quickly) later in the week on the day that you serve it. Alex is not a Rachael Ray fan (he hates that she says things like “yummo”‘, “EVOO”, and “sammie”), but he’s always enjoyed her recipes. So we’ve been picking an episode a week and just going with the recipes that she has for the line up of that show. And OMG there have been some winners. Her “French Onion Soup French Bread Pizza” was fan-freaking-tastic. Now, these aren’t the healthiest of recipes, but they are certainly tasty and satisfying! And it’s nice to just pick an episode and to have your menu planned out for the week!

We’re pretty psyched about our grocery and cooking system – it’s definitely taken the stress out of the process (no grocery store trips!!) and we no longer are stumped by the eternal question of “what’s for dinner?”

If only…

If only I could somehow pump milk in my sleep. Like a cow, as Alex said when I whined that sentiment to him. I don’t care if it’s cow-like… This staying up or waking up to pump thing is getting old. At least when Max wakes me up, we can lay in bed and nurse. I’m whiiiiiiiiining, I know… Just gotta keep reminding myself that this is a short period of time that Max needs milk from me in the grand scheme of things. And at least we “un-cut” the cord and have cable again. HGTV makes the middle of the night pumping sessions a bit more bearable lol!

Another weekend gone

It’s amazing how fast the weekends fly by, now that I look forward to them more than ever before. Weekends used to just mean two days off in a row. Now they mean forty-eight hours straight that I get to spend with Max! I love our weekend mornings. Max may wake up the same time as he usually does during the week, but instead of rushing through our morning routine of nursing and getting dressed and out the door, we get to laze around. I usually groggily get Max from his crib when he wakes up and bring him back into bed with me to nurse – and we lay in bed and nurse and snuggle off and on for a couple of hours. He’s such a smiley happy guy in the morning and it’s so much fun to be able to lay there for as long as we want making him smile!

This weekend we got to hang out with the Wham and Ashley for a bit on Saturday, and with Nina and Papa, Aunt Becky & Uncle Kevin, and Nora and Juliette today. I’m so glad that Max has cousins nearby! Cousins are usually a little kid’s first friends. Max loves Ashley, who always pays him so much attention and is such a big help. And it was so great seeing him give big smiles right way to Nora and to watch him watch Juliette as she toddled around.

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Max had a pretty big day today overall. He helped me bake from his sling – well he watched and pooped out on me:

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Later on, we took a walk in “our park” and I showed him the blooming trees (he was not all that impressed):

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It was a fun and full weekend! This week will be a very busy one for me as I’m on call for work this week. That means it should go by quickly, at least!

Let the Playroom Planning Begin!

When we bought our house, we thought that the room between the kitchen and the garage would make a good playroom. It’s the only room in the house that’s carpeted and it’s tucked out of the way and separate from the living room – where Alex would like to keep free of toys (hahahahahahaha). It will be a while before Max is really able to use that room (since it is so separate), but I’m gearing up to start decorating that room (since it will likely take me approximately 100 years to finish all the projects I’d like to do for it!). It’s really just been an oversized mud room since we’ve been in the house – a place to dump your shoes and coats on the way in from the garage. Alex painted the room last year a deep royal purple and I think that color will be a great playroom color. I picked out the fabrics that I’d like to use for it today and started to fill up my Playroom Ideas Pinbord. I’m starting to get really excited for that room!!

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Back to Reality

My little guy is two months old already and that means that my maternity leave ended last week. Boooo! So it’s back to reality… Or really, it’s welcome to your new reality because seriously my reality before never included spending three times a day in a storage room in the basement at work, sitting topless with my boobs hooked up to a pump. So there’s that.

My transition back to work hasn’t been as hard as I was afraid it would be. The last few days of my leave (which, omg were only a week ago – it feels like forever ago already!) were spent dreading leaving Max. I went back to work on a Thursday and I think I spent most of Wednesday night crying. I’d planned it so that my first day back was a day that Alex could be home with Max and I’m really glad I did it that way. It enabled me to get through my first day without having to worry that my baby was with strangers. Then when I had to bring him to daycare the next day, I’d already had a day under my belt and had proven to myself that I could survive and that Max was fine and didn’t forget about me after my being gone all day at work (my irrational fear).

Max did fine at daycare his first day. I mean, he’s still so young that so long as he’s being fed, changed, and cuddled he’s good to go. He’s the youngest by a couple months in the infant room and there are only three other girls in there right now, so there’s a two to one ratio, which means lots of extra attention. And the Wham-ma works upstairs, which means extra cuddles when she can get away to visit him. It also means that I’ve got the Wham to call if I freak out during the day and want to be sure he’s ok. She checked in on him for me on Friday and sent me a picture, which was a huge help for my “omg I left my kid with strangers” mommy guilt.

Now that I’m back at work, I can’t believe how quickly the days fly by. I’m busy from the second I get up in the morning (so much earlier than I used to have to, since I have to feed the little guy and get him ready to go in the morning too now), until the end of the night when I’ve played with, snuggled, and to Max go sleep and then finally have everything packed and ready to go for the next day. I’m still trying to get a routine going, so right now everything takes much longer than I think it should. Soon enough I’m sure I’ll get into a groove and the next day prep won’t seem so monumental each night.

While I’m not too thrilled to be back at work, it is nice to be “back to real life” and see a new way of life emerge. It’s amazing to be on this side of things – to actually be parents with an adorable baby boy – after wishing and waiting and wanting it for so long!