Sunday, December 28, 2008

I don't think cookies will be enough...

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we cannot foresee. ~Marian Wright Edelman

When is the last time you saw a movie? I love the movies, but am never motivated to go anymore. It always seems like there are so many things to do and they are so much easier without a lil' one in the backseat...whining because he's bored out of his gourd, so I usually choose the boring stuff over the movies when we can get away for a small moment. We haven't seen a movie since the week after Corbin was born..almost to the minute to be exact. I had the baby blues and was upstairs crying, reading What to Expect the First Year, when Richard decided it was time to step away ;) Pretty funny looking back on it now, but that was the best movie I've ever seen...Juno...I liked it, but with the reminder that the world still exists outside these four walls...there was a special touch added to the experience. Well, we decided it was time again last night..almost an entire year later...to venture down to our local theater and spend two glorious hours in someone else's world. Will Smith's to be exact. 

Seven Pounds. Not exactly the Christmas delight you would hope for on the weekend after this glorious holiday, but we thought it looked worth the $17 it cost for the freakin' matinee and it was. I won't spoil it for you, but it was sad in the same weird sense as the Bucket List. A necessary "too bad the world is the way it is" way. It was sad that Will Smith's circumstances were what they were, but it was beautiful what he could do, and was willing to do, for other people. Good people. While sitting in the theater, it hit me like a ton of bricks...I think someone did this for us. No, no one gave us an organ, but possibly did something incredible for us...maybe without knowing it.

So I'm almost sick of writing about this, but we are going to beat this dead horse one more time. Drum role please....Oh yes..you guessed it..Corbin's infamous "procedure"...oi vey! So here goes..I promise, this is the last time, but trust me...its a good one. So on a financial note..it really sucked. Since Richard changed jobs in September, our insurance changed for the third time since Corbin was born. First, we added him to TWC, then I quit, so we went onto Richard's old job's insurance, and finally, we are now on Richard's new job's insurance...and although it's not crazy expensive...we have acquired quite a deductible. $4K quite a deductible..those insurance bastards. We are even arguing with Cigna (the old job's insurance) at the moment because they are claiming Corbin had a pre-existing condition..yes..a four month old..with a pre-existing condition..insurance bastards! Soooo, the cost was an obvious and unavoidable detail in our quest to feed Corbin something other than his golden milkies. The sucky part was that we saved a good amount of money while I was pregnant as a security blanket in case anything happened and I had to be on bed rest...trust me, I asked every time I went to the doctor..in hopes of slightly high blood pressure or a little protein in my pee. Nothing life threatening, just a little break from hauling a small whale around all day ;) I'm sure my fellow mommy-to-bes would concur. Well, Corbin didn't follow through on giving this mommy a break, so we used a good portion of the money to pay off our car, so I could stay home. I guess that was a pretty decent consolation prize. :) We still had some in our account to save for a rainy day that our beautiful baby boy decided to eat..literally.  After his milk addiction hit an all time high around 6-7 months, we were able to start inflating that baby back up. This is like Zoloft to an accountant...until someone swiped my drug supply somewhere around "$4k deductible"..those insurance bastards. So while I was on my way to a MacBook, Corbin's belly took precedence. We figured everything would work out, so we just took a deep breath and made the call to make the appointment. 

Now let me tell you about my favorite nurse...we'll call her Nurse Nancy (this one goes to Richard..for some reason he finds this fake name very amusing). She has answered the 700 calls I've made to Corbin's GI office. It even got to the point that when I said "This is Alissa"..she would say "Corbin, right?" I responded with "Wow, I must call a lot." :) She claimed that it was just that since they were still trying to diagnose him...she was familiar with his case. I, personally, think it was cause I call too much ;) New mom with a screaming baby syndrome. Nurse Nancy even bumped us up in line when it came to doing the biopsy. We were supposed to wait two weeks and she called on the Friday morning before with a cancellation for Monday....she had booked us early :) We heart Nurse Nancy. Out of curiosity and planning purposes (like it even mattered at this point), I asked if she could let me know how much it would cost us..because of those insurance bastards and their deductible. Of my bloggy friends who know me..I must add that for the first time..these weren't my exact words. She called back with better news than I was expecting, but still quite a hit to our poor sad "Zoloft" account. But it was worth it, so I'd just have to wait on my MacBook. 

So we got through that day, then Thanksgiving, and now Christmas. A couple of weeks ago we received our medical bills. Much to our surprise...there was a big fat ZERO next to the "you owe this amount" line. There was a small bill for the laboratory...well smaller than the total we were expecting..but all the other bills equaled NADA. Definitely thinking it was a mistake, Richard contacted BCBS to find out what was going on. It turned out that the procedure and the anesthesia were supposed to be approved prior to the actual event. This never happened, so by law, they had to eat the cost! Oh yes...eat like almost $5K for the anesthesia (it took 15 minutes..possibly just 5) and almost $7K for the actual endoscopy (for 30 minutes of work and 30 minutes of making us feel like sh*t)...leaving us with a measly $480 for the lab work :) WTF...not that I'm complaining..but seriously...WTF!

So I'm sitting there watching Seven Pounds and the last conversation I had with Nurse Nancy dawned on me. After she called to move up our day and I asked her the price of the therapy inducing day o' fun, I said..and I quote...if my son can have birthday cake for his first birthday, I will pay you a million dollars...not that I have a million dollars, crap, I have no idea how we're going to pay for this. Nurse Nancy already knew about the $4K deductible (and the insurance bastards) plus she had already confirmed that she got the fax of our new insurance that Richard had sent over when she gave us the quote on how much it would end up being. So what do you think happened? I know what I think. Maybe she accidentally forgot to get it approved or maybe it was someone else in the office. Maybe the 72 hours it takes to get insurance approval was a moot point because she called on Friday and the procedure would be Monday...maybe she moved us up for that purpose. Or maybe we slipped through the cracks and got a special gift from the universe that could see that these two struggling parents needed to catch a break...needed a small pat on the back for whatever it is that we had done...good or bad. All I know is that I like to believe that there are people like Will Smith in this world. And I'm choosing to believe that Nurse Nancy was ours. 

I started bawling in the car after the movie. Thinking that this is what could have happened. That someone could have seen what we were going through..what people go through everyday...and decided to give us a little light at the end of a hard year. We have seen a lot in the past 12 months. We've hit some rough times..I'm sure there will be worse in our future (like the day Corbin steals our car and wrecks it into a State Trooper..oi) and we have seen the beauty that is the simplest and most precious gifts someone can receive. The worst in people and the best. I have spent the past year focused on my own issues...reforming who I am and deciding who I need to become. It has been a rich journey and I have accidentally documented the entire thing. Just another gift I didn't know I was giving myself. I know this is a defining time in my life and what started out as just the pure love of writing, has become the reminder of the best and hardest things we face in life. With this, my New Year's resolution is the stop looking inward and start looking outward. This life isn't all about what I have done for my own family, but what I can also do for others. Nurse Nancy helped me see that. So in the next year, I hope I can help someone else see what she has shown me and give them the gift of a light at the end of their tunnel. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Peek-a-boo

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss

Life goes on. Sometimes on and on and on. Other times it seems like the end of the world, but in the end...life goes on. I'm sitting in my living room. Everything is sooo still and all I can hear is the sound of Corbin's white noise machine through the monitor. I don't get very many moments like this and due to my type A personality...very few urges to enjoy them. There are toys everywhere...and I mean EVERYWHERE, dishes all in the sink, and dust on the hardwood floor under the foyer table...along with slober handprints next to it. But I'm just sitting in my living room. It's so peaceful in my one small moment. 

 We got the results to Corbin's biopsy and as predicted, they were normal. This, of course,fantastic news...although, it's almost a reminder that some people were right and I was..I'll say it...wrong. I could hear them thinking "I told ya so"..even though they wouldn't dare say it. The really good thing that is  came out of the procedure was that we know Corbin is just fine. I know now that it was a series of necessary events to come to the current place where we are...a way of molding me into this mother I have become. Even though, I truly believe this..and love how Sally rolls her eyes everytime I say this next bit (Exactly why I love her) along with my husband's complete annoyance by it...I still struggle with the guilt of thinking I put my family through something completely unnecessary and very difficult. I used to be this girl who was SO opinionated...still am to an extent...but I've learned that you shouldn't really have an opinion if you've never felt what you are judging. I was going to put Corbin in daycare and keep my career, I wasn't going to be that first time mom that called the pediatrican at the first sight of a runny nose, I was going to know exactly what I was supposed to do. It's a humbling thing when you find out that you have no idea what you are talking about. ;) And a very adult thing to admit it. So...so far we've given Corbin white meat and he did awesome. Chows down on some chicken...one step closer to only having to make one meal. And we heard from the dietician, as promised. She told me that it could possibly be the fiber that Corbin's body is having a hard time with and, as the doc mentioned, we would have to train it to digest the cereal grain. So I started trying...he had oat teething biscuits and although he got pretty gassy, he didn't scream or stop eating like before. I'm elated by this!

I just can't get over how we all grow up so fast. Just a few weeks ago, I looked at Corbin and realized he was a little boy. Yes I know that I am stating the obvious, but he wasn't a baby anymore. He no longer needs me to do certain things and at times makes that quite clear! I can tell him things and he actually does them (give him a few years...I mean months..... and I could be singing a different song)...it's insane to me to think that just 11 short months ago, he could barely open his eyes. Now if I tell him he can't go up the stairs without mommy..he comes BACK DOWN! Talk about development. He has also started to fight growing up! Can you even imagine that this lil' guy already knows that we forever just want to be young again???? Always looking back at what once was! He refuses to feed himself and drink from a sippy. Just wants mommy to do it. And I don't mean with a utensil..I mean with his freakin' fingers. Nope not having it. Richard finally got him to do it and we went CRAZY..YAY, YAY, YAY...he immediately got hysterical. As if to say...this is all happening too fast :( I agree, Corbin. 

Sometimes he stops playing to crawl over and give me a hug or a kiss then returns to his curiosity. I must be doing something right. We all grow up way too fast. Just 11 months ago....I was a baby too. And now, especially after his procedure...I'm not a baby anymore. I see things through different eyes. Through grown-up eyes. 11 months ago I was someone who had it all figured out. And now, I don't have a clue. All I know..all I need to know..... is that I love my son and my husband. Do you really have to figure anything else out? Does everything have to have a rhyme or reason...a logical order? I've learned to keep it simple. People are who they are...only our circumstances change...we control how we react to them. My circumstances felt like the end of the world to me, but they weren't. They were just another step in my growing process. And at the other side, I grew A LOT. But I've noticed something else in this "process"..I get to be young again. I was sitting in my living room yesterday watching Corbin. He was ecstatic that I let him play with the paper towels in our closet. Such a small thing. I just watched him for at least 20 minutes thinking that I am so lucky to have these minutes, not only to be with him, but to enjoy the little things that I took for granted just 11 months ago. I had lost this girl that I once was. Free spirited, passionate, strong. I grew up and forgot all of those things..replaced them with the responsibilities of Corporate America and through Corbin...I found her again!



Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Click...I unsnapped Corbin's car seat and he quickly swooped his arms around to play with the red button on the buckle. He was completely starving, tired, and oblivious. I wrapped him in Big Blue so he wouldn't catch a cold and we headed towards the hospital. It was so different, but exactly the same. As the doors parted to allow us into the bright lobby, I noticed a volunteer getting a tour....the irony was definitely not lost on me. We made our way under the waves of iron cascading from the ceiling with tiny crystals...dreamcatchers...dangling in the light. "Last name"...Bray..."First name"...Corbin..."Has he ever been here before?"....no.

But we had. Just before I got pregnant, Richard and I began volunteering at this very hospital. I rocked the babies in the PACU and he helped cheer up the sick kids. We wanted to give back some of our time and also share in an experience we believed would bring us closer together...help us appreciate all the gifts we had. I remember going in one Friday night and comforting a very tiny newborn. He was covered from head to toe in Vaseline. There was a stack of Vaseline containers against the wall next to his bassinet with a sign instructing the nurses to only use them on him. He had a congenital skin disorder that caused his skin to just flake off. Without the Vaseline, it would be painful. No one was allowed to use his Vaseline because the parents could not afford it and were frantically taking donations so that they could care for their new baby. I can't remember his name, but I'll never forget his face. On the other side of the hospital, Richard had seen a little girl, around 2, sitting on a nurse's lap at the station. Katie Bug. She was playing with the screen in front of her...helping the nurse take her white blood cell count. She knew exactly what to do...all she wanted to do was play with the other kids in the toy room, but unfortunately, her count wasn't high enough.

By no means am I trying to compare our situation to these, but it just felt ironic that I could suddenly understand the worry these parents must have felt. We checked Corbin in and waited. He cruised around the lobby...kissing the stuffed animals in the gift shop and banging on the glass at the cars outside. Finally they took us up. We walked and walked and walked...went through several doors with keypad locks...and made our way to a door with a sign reading "endoscopy" on the outside. I didn't expect to walk into THE room. But we did..machines everywhere, nurses everywhere, and a tiny TV playing cartoons to distract Corbin. We soon found out that we had to stay while they put him to sleep and then we would be escorted back to the waiting area while the procedure was performed. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I won't describe it..I'll spare you the details..but I will say that we both cried the entire time...words can't describe the image, especially when its your child. The procedure took about 45 minutes and then the doc came to talk to us. He was anything, but sensitive. Probing on why we saw an allergist, why we thought there was a problem. I left feeling as though I might just be imagining Corbin's issues. Gotta love doctors with great bedside manner. Turns out that everything was normal, no tissue damage and no sign of anything out of place...but we are still waiting on the biopsy results. He was confident it would come back normal and we should just keep giving him different foods to see if he has a reaction...and if he does, just keep giving that particular food to him to see if he gets used to it. Must be easy to say when he's not your child.

We went to recovery, where Corbin was understandably screaming and fed him. He ate just like normal and once he was all dressed in his favorite PJs, he was a happy boy. We took him home and it was as if it never happened. He was happy, took naps, ate like a champ...he was a lil' trooper. Seeing us now, you would never know. Seeing Katie Bug's parents...you would have no idea. I've become so aware of the people around me...wondering what their personal struggles are. Could they have a baby at Levine's? Could they have just lost their job and worried about how to feed their family? I saw a woman yell at a cashier yesterday at our grocery store because she wasn't moving fast enough. What if that cashier went to see her sick child before her shift? Would that have ever crossed this woman's mind? Probably not. I wish that woman had seen Katie Bug. It's funny how the smallest thing you say to someone could make or break them...people you don't even know. As we walked out of that hospital that day, we both needed a small pat on the back. We came home to a nice meal from my mom and a good friend's company that night. She'll never know it, but her words will stay with me for a very long time. Life's funny like that. No one is aware of their true impact. I try to tell people when they look nice....when they've said something funny...when they've helped me through another day. Actions may speak louder than words, but sometimes the words are what help us get back up the next day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I do

I promise to laugh with you and cry with you, To stand by your side and sleep in your arms... ~From our wedding vows :)
*
So yesterday was our 3 year anniversary...Yup, 3 years ago today I was opening envelopes full of free cash and packing to head off to Maui tomorrow...urgh, those were the days. Just a short 3 years later...I'm sitting in front of a computer, not showered, haven't brushed my teeth, dreaming about noon so I can down the leftover fries in the fridge. Shit...hold on..I'm gonna eat them now ;) Oh what time will change. We had an awesome day planned...nope, not going to a fancy dinner..nope, not going on a fancy trip...hello, do you people not keep up...those were things the old, fancy Alissa and Richard did...so you guessed it, we were going to order in and catch up on DVR. I don't think I've ever been so excited in my life to ship the bambino off to Grandma's and bunker in with the hubby. And Chinese...And Brothers and Sisters, Eli Stone, Lipstick Jungle..basically anything that comes on after 9pm. Have a kid..you'll understand. So we woke up and I called Grandma to tell her that we'd be dropping the lil' one off after Richard picked up Chik-Fil-A and Starbucks..only to find out my nephew had a bad virus complete with fever and vomitting! Boo..don't get me wrong, poor Emmett and Erica, but boo! We obviously couldn't risk a stomach bug with the upcoming biopsy, so we were forced to come up with Plan B. Grandma came over for a fun filled day of Corbin sans vomiting and fever...and we set out on a day of whatever we could find to do.
*
So we started out at Cracker Barrel...a nice consolation prize to Chik-Fil-A I might add..but we got Starbucks anyway. I have to say...CB added a new breakfast skillet to their menu that I wish was in our fridge right now. Yummm...fries and eggs...I swear I'm not pregnant. (God that would suck at this point). After breakfast, we headed to Concord Mills. I HATE Concord Mills. It reminds me of this HORRIBLE job I had for a short time. Seriously, it was like a stop light in a small town...if you blinked (is blinked a word?), you would have probably missed it. Anyway, a friend of mine and I used to head to Concord Mills to escape the insanity of this place at lunch and it makes me want to vomit anytime I think of those bright yellow floors. BUT seeing as we are in money saving mode..we thought we would try it out..give the ol' girl another shot. Man, we hit the mother load! We were supposed to be Christmas shopping, but of course, just shopped for Corbin the entire day...yes..have kids..you'll understand. We found t-shirts for $1.99 and polos for $.99 at Children's Place and we stocked up for next summer. Richard and I, all along, arguing about what size to get. He, of course, thinks Corbin will be a baby forever, so would have had him in 6 months clothes when he was 2 ;) We also got him this awesome turtle costume for next Halloween for $5.99!! What a great day! Thanks for puking, Emmett!! As a splurge, we bought Corbin his favorite bubbles from Gymboree and headed home to show him. He was ecstatic and Grandma said she would stay so we could go to Chili's since those Buffalo Chicken Bites had been calling my name from inside the tv. They are like sliders, but AWESOME...hold on..I have to go grab them from the fridge ;) Yummmm-o! So all in all, it turned out to be a nice day even though it wasn't exactly what we had planned. Happy Anniversary, Dickey!
*
When we stopped at Starbucks yesterday morning, there were news crews and a helicopter flying overhead. We asked what was going on, but no one seemed to know. We figured it was an armed robbery, but someone said there was an ambulance that took someone away. Sad that we just assumed robbery, like we are totally numb to the crime that's happening in Charlotte, but it turned out that a man had run into the ladies restroom and left a newborn baby!! Just a few hours old. That poor baby boy...it makes me want to go and get him. While everyone feels so sorry for that sweet lil' baby, I can't help but feel sorry for his mother too. It's obvious that people will worry for him, but what kind of situation must you be in to think your best solution is to leave him in a bathroom in McDonald's. Giving birth..no post-natal care..I couldn't pee for 3 days after having Corbin (TMI sorry)...I can't imagine the pain she must be in. My hope is that that sweet boy will use this as his strength and someday you'll see him again...maybe even as president :) Life is never what we picture it to be. If it was, it wouldn't be fun. Sad at times, difficult at others, but making it through those times is what makes the easy times so much sweeter. So much more worth it. I scheduled Corbin's biopsy this morning. Dec. 1 at 11am....he'll be snoozin' in dreamland while they check out his belly. We are still trying to get over the reaction he had to the one bowl of oatmeal and two Cheerios I gave him. Poor lil' guy even got a yeast rash from it. The new horror is that whenever he hurts he calls "mama"..god it was awful. Richard was holding him and he was just reaching for me crying "mama"..there was nothing I could do...nothing but time makes it better.
*
I've gotten a little more perspective on the situation lately. While focusing on the struggle of Corbin's mysterious ailment, I realized that its actually a compliment. What if, the universe was waiting for us. Knew we were the best thing for Corbin...the people who would give Corbin everything he needed and would be able to help him more than anyone else. What if you get what you can handle in life? You get what you need to find your true meaning. I always knew I was supposed to be a mother. I even took hell for it at my first job...like it was a flaw I had..to want to be a mother and stay at home with them. What if this characteristic..this drive...this passion is my gift to give back? Make Corbin's life better than anyone else could. I believe this. What if that sweet baby boy ended up with the wrong parents...or his true parents couldn't have him for some unfortunate reason...they are just waiting for him....his unique journey is how he finds those people who will help him find his true meaning. Life isn't as we planned...there will always be a Plan B, C, D, .....Z. I love that...I love that my joy will always be based on my struggle...will always make me stronger, happier, a more beautiful person. Time will heal the pain of the journey ...and with time, you'll find your true "plan" :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sit, Rocky, Sit...F*@#in' SIT!!!!


Babies control and bring up their families as much as they are controlled by them; in fact ... the family brings up baby by being brought up by him.-- Erik H. Erikson
So I'm standing in the front yard, Corbin on one hip. "Come"..no response..."Come here"...no response..."Come here, NOW"..small step forward..."Do you want a treat?"...I've never seen that fat dog run so freakin' fast. My fake alpha male voice doesn't even work a bit...just makes me sound like an amateur imitation of Darth Vader..I mean come on..its a dog. Aren't dogs man's best friend? Would your best friend make you look like an ass in front of all your neighbors? Hmm, that's questionable, but seriously..I think I've ruined the dog. He listened GREAT when Rich and I started dating. Now he's ruined. I'm hoping this isn't foreshadowing my future as a crappy mother. We always tell friends we HATE it when people claim they have dogs as practice for kids. Do you wipe your dog's butt? Do you hand feed your dog? Do you rock your dog to sleep at 2am? Yeah, my point exactly...but do you think that it's discipline training? Is Corbin going to be hell on wheels because I've ruined the dog proving that I can't discipline ANYTHING?? I swear..I'm a good mother.


Our life has gotten a little tougher lately. Corbin has come to the end of the fruits and veggies train and is now seriously eating us out of house and home. I'm assuming that thin nasty formula and veggies just aren't cutting it and you should see his poor lil' face when his little friends get to eat cheesecake while I offer him mushy sweet potatoes. In an effort to make all our lives a little easier, I called the GI and asked for an allergist recommendation. Along with a specific doc's name from a woman on CM, I found Dr. Gray Norris. I set up an appointment with my future savior for a consultation and a skin test. You would think that if most women dread vaccinations, having your child's back pricked over 2 dozen times would strike a small amount of anxiety in you, but at this point, I would take a day of hell over what we have been through in the past 10 months, so let's just get it over with. So we go. Lil' Corby was in heaven. A new place with a big shiny box (aka..the TV) and steps to climb on. That waiting room was his next Gymboree. So we wait..and wait..and wait. Finally after they haul someone off in an ambulance (very encouraging might I add), they call us back. The doc comes in and asks Corbin's history..so I start my list of reactions...milk, soy, rice, and his six month shots. He decides that a skin test would help us out, so he leaves, we strip Corbs, pop in Baby Einstein into the lap top, and we're good to go. They do the test, with just a few tears from our lil' trooper, and the results are in. HE ISN'T ALLERGIC TO ANYTHING! "You are freakin' kidding me?!?!?!?" Those were my exact words. "Yes, 9 times out of 10, the GIs are right, but this happens to be the one time they are wrong." His exact words!!! He tells us that our son has no allergies and does not have acid reflux. Might I remind everyone that a certain someone got a part-time job to pay for formula that this man is telling us we didn't need. (This is where I pick my jaw up off the floor) Deep breath....so the next part of the tale....


Apparently, you can have another type of allergy called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE). It's a good thing I'm typing because I can't pronounce it. It's where white blood cells get trapped in your belly, throat, and small intestine and attack certain foods when you eat them..causing the blood and severe pain. Does anyone else think its a good thing that kids don't remember anything before the age of 3? Yeah, me too. Too bad I have to remember it....Anyway, So we have to do a blood test to see if this is what is wrong with Corbin. If it is, then he just takes a med and he's good to go on even REGULAR formula. "I'm sending our GI a bill." My exact words. Next trauma of the day...holding our child down, so they can take blood out of his arm like a big boy. As you can imagine..red face, gagging, hyperventilating...and Corbin didn't do much better..jk! So he screamed, cried, turned red, gagged, and by the end, Richard and I needed a serious cocktail..or possibly 3. So the wait was on...he promised we'd know by Monday, but one week later, we got the results yesterday. NEGATIVE...urgh! The nurse says to just expand his diet slowly..thanks for calling. I went through the roof! Yup, the doc called us personally.....turns out that the blood test just lowers the chance, but isn't absolute. We are currently challenging him with foods he has shown a reaction to..if he has another reaction, they will have to biopsy tissue from his belly to see if the white blood cells are in there. He made it sound simple, but it just sounds scary.


So I gave Corbin oatmeal this morning. I'm not usually an emotional person, but I cried through the entire thing. He, of course, laughed and gobbled it up because he loves anything that he "can" eat. This just made it worse because in the back of my mind I was imagining him screaming 24 hours later. I guess that's not for me to know right now. I guess it's just one more thing you can't control in someone else's life. It's funny how connected you are to your child. I know there is something wrong and no one would listen to me. I just want my baby to have a birthday cake. Isn't that sad. Somehow smashing your face into a milk-free, soy-free, gluten-free "cake" just doesn't have the same effect..shit..even icing has butter in it. It's like my "he's ok" moment...if he gets his cake. I don't care about the money we've spent or the time and effort worrying, getting frustrated about something I don't understand. Just let it be over..just give him his cake. I don't think you should be judged on the demeanor of your child..whether he sits nicely in a restaurant or whether he learned to walk before he got teeth. How about to watch tv or not watch tv? To cry it out or not cry it out? Who cares??? Who gives a shit if he sleeps through the night because guess what..there will always be something that keeps you up. I want my baby to make the same mistakes I made in life, to have the same fun I have in life. I don't want to read labels anymore, I don't want to be sad when he watches me eat pizza then run through the list in my head of all the things in it that would hurt him. Just give him his cake. So as Rocky manipulates me in the front yard...I don't feel like someday I will be a failure as a parent because he is so resistant until I give him what he wants. I've already succeeded. I bitched at my ped and GI for 10 months that something was wrong..that it was more than a milk allergy. I researched anything from milk allergies to being allergic to DHA (for cryin' out loud) to what order I should test food and guess what, my mommy intuition was right...within 30 minutes of seeing Dr. Norris we got more answers than 10 months worth of questions and unnecessary meds from two other people. No one can "train" to know all the right answers, to do all the right things, to be a good parent...it just comes with the territory. So you just wait...Corbin will have that cake AND eat it too!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Like a bra...support the girls :)

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass. ~Maya Angelou

Its no secret that women are not nice to other women. It's crazy...we are supposed to unite, band together, be one with each other, blah, blah, blah dee freakin' blah! It doesn't work that way...it must be in our nature to be manipulative, nasty, and down right mean at times. Guys just kick the sh*t out of each other and then shake hands. I'm not sure which one is more bizarre. This fact never really registered with me...it rubbed me the wrong way from time to time, but never really registered until I became a stay-at-home mom. I guess I had more to focus on when I was working and life was all about me, but I'm not gonna lie...it's lonely down here. I had this naive vision of play dates and Gymboree....lovely story time at the local library...before Mr. Corbin took over my world and social life..but reality, schedules, and interfering nap times set in REAL fast once he showed up. So here I sit..typing away..just waiting for a little peep coming from the room next door...

I can remember two weeks after Corbin was born..yes, in the middle of January...taking him for a walk around the block. My neighbor actually stopped her car and asked what the hell I was doing..I HAD TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE..AHHHHHH! My obvious response..because two weeks doesn't sound that long until you are stuck in the house with a screaming baby, barely able to walk up or down the stairs, and have seen enough Dr. Phil to start charging by the hour anytime the phone rang. Yes, that short-lived walk was just the beginning. Not long after my "bad mother" walk of shame back home....I spotted another mother in our neighborhood as I drove home from the grocery store. It was like a dog salivating at his food dish after being denied sustenance for 3 days. I pretended to check the mail at least 3 times hoping she would walk down our street...no go! It sounds so pathetic, but I'm a pretty social person and it was killing me. When Corbin was about 3 months old, I started meeting other mothers through http://www.charlottemommies.com/ and eventually we organized a "Hump Day" play date. Every Wednesday morning, my new 4 friends came over and we would discuss every new milestone, new challenge, and the next thing our husbands had done to piss us off :) 4 boys and a girl all around the same age. It was exactly what I needed and we still meet weekly now. It's so nice to know that someone else is on the same page as I am...going through the same ups and downs as I am. Someone who understands the depth of love you can have for your child and still have those days where you wonder where the hell you went wrong in life ;) Those women have made a WORLD of difference in my experience as a mother and of course, my sanity. We have become so close and have the occasional mommy's night out...going out for drinks or even to a funny show (thanks to Jenn)! I can't stress this enough..you can't be a mother without the support of other mothers.

This leads us to my new discovery! Once you are married, have kids, and are in the swing of this new life....getting picked up brings on a whole new meaning. SO....I was in Lowes foods one morning with my mom participating in their triples (surprise, surprise)! We were in the baked goods aisle as I instructed my mother on how many of Martha White's muffin mixes and Warm Delights to buy, when this woman was coming down the aisle and asked my mom, politely, to let her through. As she came up, she stopped next to us to let her daughter and Corbin "talk" to each other. We struck up a conversation and it turned out that Lila Kate and Corbin had something in common...they were both allergic to milk! As we continued through the grocery store, we kept running into Mille and Lila Kate...we discussed how they had just moved here from New Orleans, our pediatricians, and immunizations....in the end, I gave Mille my email address (I didn't want to seem to easy by giving her my number)...and we went our separate ways, promising to talk again soon. I was totally picked up in the grocery store..it was great!! This meeting new mommies thing had become a breeze..I had it down pat! Watch out or you might be next....I told my Hump Day mommies about it and they, of course, made jokes and all was right in the world. Well, it's been a week and a half and no email! I've been rejected by my first pick up at the grocery store by another mommy..WTF. Oh well, maybe she was intimidated by this rocking mommy ;)

It's hilarious how this exclusive mommy club changes your life. How the one thing I figured would remain constant in my life has been the first to go. I know its not easy for my childless friends to get all excited about how he crinkles his nose when he's super excited or how I finally figured out how to get him on a good, 2 nap, schedule. I get that. I also get that you probably don't think that Pinky Dinky Doo is as funny as I do...hello, Mr. Guinea Pig was rockin' out to an electric guitar..that's funny ;) And to be completely honest, its unfair for me to expect for you to understand. It's almost as if you give up your good friends for a short time until they have kids because it just seems impossible to stay the same. Nothing stays the same. I recently met that mommy I was pretty much stalking way back when. It turns out that her son is 2 weeks older than Corbin and they played together in the front yard. It was too sweet. Hopefully someday, I can just open the door as Corbin runs out to go play at Cameron's house...or "Mom, Can Cameron stay for dinner?" :) You have to surround yourself with women who understand you. Whether that is at work, at school, or in your local grocery store. You can have differences in opinion, you can disagree on life choices, but the truth is no man will ever get what its like to be us...so come on...support the girls!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Curb your enthusiasm


It was only a matter of time. This seems to be my path....I think I've hit a coupon brick wall :) I do this all the time..find a "hobby" and go crazy with it, but before you know it, I've gotten bored with it and the paraphernalia is lying somewhere in a corner. You name it...knitting, scrap booking, painting, writing, the list goes on and on....my latest venture, coupons, seems to be running its course and I'm sure I'll be wasting money on full priced groceries before you know it. Sad.

So I attempted my very first "prepared" triples at Harris Teeter a couple of weeks ago and I think it went rather well. I spent $27.40 on $382.31 worth of groceries!! I started clipping coupons the last week in July and I just calculated my total savings..you ready for this...$1,106.82! Yeah, baby!! What's up now, biatch!! So I figured I would pass on the knowledge before it became just one of the next casualties in my quest to find my real purpose in life ;) So first things first...it might sound obvious, but start buying the newspaper. I started getting the Sunday newspaper and figuring out if there was some good crap in there..then I would go..aka send Richard...to buy several more if there were lots of coupons I knew I would use. Here is a rookie mistake...don't just clip the things you "use". I did that at first and then found that when I went through the sales list..I had thrown out coupons that I could have used for free stuff or for things they would have to pay me for. So just clip, clip, clip away. You can also buy coupons..yes I know it sounds counterproductive...but you can buy coupons on http://www.thecouponclippers.com/, ebay, or http://www.couponsandforms.com/ there are several others, but these are the ones I visit. Think of it this way...if you were going to buy Colgate and it was 2 for $3, but you had a .75 coupon that tripled to $2.25...wouldn't you pay 5 cents a coupon to purchase 20 of them...Yeah, I would (and did). Next, organize....picture this...sweet Alissa just skipping along through your local grocery store with sweet Corbin strapped to her chest....cute purple accordion organizer in hand. What happens when you see that beautiful box of Hamburger Helper on sale that you must have (because you are too lazy to make that crap from scratch)....you pull out your purple organizer and SLAM...sweet Corbin throws it to the ground..coupons fly everywhere, no organization...OH THE MADNESS! Yes, it only took 2-3 trips of this for me to shape up and get real about my coupon organization ;) (I'm laughing at myself now)...its all about binders and baseball card holders, people. Get through that Mr. Sweet Corbin..yeah, I didn't think so :)

Now comes the good stuff...finding out what you can get free or super cheap. Thanks to the Domestic Goddesses on http://www.charlottemommies.com/ I have found the perfect website for ya..no I didn't name it, but am considering changing the name of my blog now that I have found it.. haha..ok seriously... http://www.hotcouponworld.com/ ....you can actually go on this website, click on Grocery Stores, find your store, and find posts of sales near you. I showed my friend, Alison, this weekend the sales for Kroger and there was even a post of free or almost free stuff you can get there this week. Yes, those women are pure genius. Who knew that all of us were so brilliantly frugal!

So this is what I did for my first triples...not only did I find the sales, but made an excel spreadsheet that told me to the penny how much I would spend, save, and buy (including tax)!! Trip for trip! (You can only triple 20 coupons at a time) So this only called for 8 trips in 2 days before the coupon burnout truly started setting in. It was like pure crack until then. So I've come to a conclusion on this hobby...meeting myself somewhere in the middle will probably be key. I still had to grocery shop for other stuff..like produce, meat, etc. So I'm going to use my overages for those instead of 20 packs of Starkist tuna..ha ha! This hobby actually makes sense as long as I curb my enthusiasm!! Happy shopping!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Catching my breath


A good friend will come bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying...'Damn, that was fun!


They say "A baby changes everything" and I say "Ya freakin' think?!?!?" I guess thinking back on it, you really only acknowledge the changes "they" point out (in the commercial). A mental picture of giving baby a bath while he coos or getting up in the middle of the night to nurse and cuddle him. Then you have veteran mothers tell you to catch up on your sleep before you have him or make sure you and your husband do everything you want to before you decide to have children (you don't realize they mean going out to dinner..not taking a trip to the vineyards in France)...like there's no life after baby. I currently lie somewhere in between. I remember being that naive 26 year old that knew she was meant to have a baby, lying in a bathtub in the hospital listening to her iPod (so Gen Y!), and a song came on that Corbin used to always kick to...."It's your song, Bubby"...and all of a sudden I realized he wasn't there anymore. Fast forward a couple of days..literally...waking up to a crying, hungry baby...and fast forward a few more months....splashing in a tub full of water with my giggling baby boy. Those veteran mothers...and the Johnson & Johnson people...don't lie, but then there are those tiny cracks that baby creeps into that slowly crack apart your old self...the changes that catch you off guard when you least expect it.

One of my very best friends is getting married in a few weeks (YAY!)..and as her last hoorah...she decided she wanted to celebrate in MIAMI..wahoo! I have to admit it was a pretty good choice..lying out on the beach and dancing it up like the good ol' days. Although, I would do anything for her and couldn't wait to dust off those bootylicious clothes in the closet, I was slightly apprehensive about leaving Corbin overnight for the first time. Plus, Richard hadn't been alone with Corbin for more than a couple of hours. Now, I realize it was only for two nights and that everyone would live, but he had become like an appendage. Seriously, if you forgot to pack your right arm, would you be able to survive? Probably so...but it might be rather difficult to function. I mean..how would you put on your pants??? Anyway, this is how I felt. On one hand, a weekend away at the beach with the girls sounded AWESOME and on the other...no pants for 3 days (that sounds dirty..oops..but also very Miami..ha ha). As the days approached, I became increasingly nervous about it. At the same time, things started happening. The Thursday before, Corbin got his first real cold..snotty nose..night wakings..etc. = no fun and insane clingyness (is that a word?) It sucked. He decided naps were for babies and even decided that one, one hour, nap was sufficient one day. Ummm for future reference, it's not. On Tuesday, I got into a big fight with my family and on Wednesday had an altercation with my now ex-boss. I was quitting and she didn't like that idea, but it just added to the weeks events. By Friday (the day I left), I was so OVER the whole no right arm thing, that I would have flown that damn plane myself. And to top it all off..as I went to leave, we discovered small, nasty, creepy, crawly bugs that are now the cause of an exterminator bill. EWWWWWW! So bye, bye Hubby..bye, bye bugs..and bye, bye baby!

I flew down there and met up with my 5 partners in crime (another arrived that afternoon)RIGHT as they were getting to baggage claim..it was perfect. We got to the hotel, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the beach. It was BEAUTIFUL! So relaxing and I had completely forgotten that there was even a baby whining somewhere in this world. I could only remember that cute giggly face in the bathtub. We went out that night and my old self started to come through. They dressed me in one of the sluttiest dresses I think I've ever worn, but let me tell you..for having an 8 month old..that ass was looking nice ;) It kind of felt like I was playing a part in someone else's life. I remember going out in college and dancing on bars, not caring who was there..just having fun with my girls. But it just didn't feel the same. Don't get me wrong..it was a blast..but it felt like something I had done in another life..if that makes sense. Like riding a bike...you can always do it again, but it could never be like it was when you and your childhood best friend went on adventures when you were twelve. Needless to say, I ran out of steam somewhere around 2am and PASSED OUT...my usual bedtime is on the couch somewhere around the time Grey's Anatomy starts (thank GOD for DVR). The next day we shopped, laid out on the beach, went to a fantastic dinner, and out to a club again. AND we totally saw Brooke Hogan..she cheesed it up for us...you know she loves that sh*t! In the end, it turned out to be exactly what I needed. A nice break to catch my breath from the chaos of everyday life with a baby. The break you don't even realize you need when you are caught in the middle of that daily rush to get a bottle made, get him to go down for a nap, to rush off to your weekly playdate. It also gave Richard a chance to really develop a bond with Corbin. The other day he came home from work and we were playing in the bonus room upstairs. I said "Daddy's home! Where's daddy?" Corbin immediately started looking around with this desperate look on his face. Richard slowly crawled up the stairs and through the doorway on his hands and knees. When Corbin saw him, he threw down his toy, fell on his belly, and crawled straight to him with his arms out wide and a huge smile on his face. It might have been the sweetest thing I've ever seen!

Everything changes, including your friends..sometimes. I feel so lucky to still have a person I can call up and meet in Miami to remind me of who I really am. Who I was before Corbin. It was so nice to be able to be her again. My mommy friends and I are constantly saying how hard it is to relate to our friends who haven't quite reached this stage of life yet. That after burying our heads in the throws of taking care of a child for so many months, we don't have anything to add to the conversation about the latest fashions and celebrity gossip. My perspective on all these things has changed. My appreciation for the small things in life has grown, but after this weekend, I have found that being who you are and always will be is just as important as nuturing that mother instinct. I deserved this break and am so glad that I had the opportunity to take it. I am a better mother because of it and hopefully a better freind. Here's to you R Vo and of course, Macky too! :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Won one for the Brays

I've learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them, and less to do with how many years you have lived. ~Anonymous
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I'm not a religious person. I'm sure that probably sounds bad, but let me explain.....I consider myself much more spiritual than religious. I think church is great if you are the type of person that gets something out of it, but I'm not. Maybe its because my father is Hindu and my mother is Catholic. The three of us were raised Catholic..my two sisters went to Catholic school...but I fell astray somewhere after my first communion..yes, I might have been 6 or something. But seriously, I truly think that whatever you believe in is what is true for your life...I, personally, took pieces from each of my parent's religions and made it my own. If you believe in heaven, you will go. If you believe in reincarnation, have fun the next time around....and if you believe that the party's over when the lights go out, make sure you make it worth it ;)
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Recently..well not so much...I posted a blog about couponing and a part-time job I had taken up to help support Corbin's golden milk habit. Just for the record..he's still got it. Yup, his intake has decreased slightly, but that Morton's milk is still being ordered via Ebay and he's still sucking us dry. I'm not going to lie....the job is not my favorite. It feels so wrong, but when you have babies and grow up..sometimes the things in life that suck the most are the most rewarding. My weekly paycheck has helped us off Ramen noodles and my couponing addiction has filled our pantry with the bare necessities..such as Oreos, Pop Tarts, and about 18 hundred boxes of cereal. (Why won't anyone agree that if the store pays you to take them...it is SO worth it?????) Check out my latest deal...guess the price...nope, nope, need a hint....$18 (including 4 pears, 2 sweet potatoes, and 2 peaches for Corbin's food)!!! Oh yeah baby, I saved $78...that's 81%..don't hate, I'll teach you the system ;) I've even had to clear out Corbin's baby cabinet to make room for my loot. I figured I'd give him credit for introducing me to the wonderful world of free crap by taking away his rights to a full cabinet. It only seems fair in my mind. Anyway, here's our story on faith.
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Back in March, Richard became truly fed up with his job. He's been with the company for about 3.5 years and got a huge promotion last year that turned out to be more for the company than for him. It's sad, but I guess that's business. He made a jump from a Financial Reporting Analyst to a Corporate Accounting Manager. We were psyched until Richard took over payroll for the company and realized that they got a steal by promoting him. From that day forward, the chip on his shoulder kept getting heavier. So like most people who feel slighted by their employer...he started looking for a job. I kept saying I hope you get this one..I hope you get that one, but for some reason September sticks out in my mind (I've also posted about how psychic I am..so please forward your questions to me). He went on interviews galore, but the problem was that he was competing with people who had more experience and were older in order to make an upward move. It sucked! Next I quit my job to stay home and we switched insurance...turned out that his company had done a lock in/lock out of dental on January 1. Yes, Corbin was born on the 11th...and by the way...my teeth are crap. It totally felt like it was one thing after another with Richard's job and Corbin's belly. Next the freakin' dog has high liver enzymes....he's going to have to wait. (For the PETA people out there..he's not in any pain, I promise)

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So finally, Richard's recruiter called with a Controller position at a company, literally, three minutes from our house. It definitely seemed way too good to be true, so neither of us had our hopes up. He went, interviewed, and got a second interview...YAY! At this point, I had started forgetting when he had interviews. He went to the second interview last Wednesday and it ended up being "informative" just to let him know about what he would be doing!! It was crazy!! Long story short...after 6-7 months of looking for a job and not giving in when everyone told him he'd never find anything, he got the salary he wanted, a 20% bonus, and DENTAL INSURANCE (this is very exciting to me)...wahoo!!
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It almost feels like the universe is rewarding us. The past 8 months have truly been challenging for our family. Not in this unbearable, I can't believe this is happening to us, sort of way, but in a way that felt like a huge transformation for all of us. We graduated college and both got jobs where we made decent money. We didn't have any children, so we got into this habit of just buying whatever we wanted and not having to think about it...in a semi-reasonable way. Then came Corbin and we became the stereotypical, white picket fence family, but were naive to what it truly means to make it. Mostly because we were spoiled...more me than him I hate to admit. I love staying home with Corbin, but there came a time when what I wanted was not what was important. I needed to help our family through a tough time and in turn, came upon this perfect job to fill the gap while we were figuring things out. We made it through Corbin's colic and learned how to lean on each other for support. We have now come through the next phase of babies...the whole sucking us dry thing....and have learned the true value of money and material possessions. In the end, neither of us really have any desire for those things we bought without concern. With this lesson, Richard found a job that will allow me to keep the stinky part-time job if I want or leave it and do what I really love. I truly believe that when it comes down to it, you don't have to believe in a certain god or set of beliefs to find your way...you just have to believe in something..anything. Then just live it and everything has a way of working itself out. :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

I was meant for Ramen Noodles!

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us. ~Julia Cameron
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I'm psychic! You think I'm kidding? Yeah, you are probably right..but I'm going to enjoy being psychic. I knew Corbin was a boy, knew my sister was having a boy, and just the other day, I told Richard we needed a new tape in the video camera practically a milli-second before it cut off...I'm totally psychic :) Anyway, while I was pregnant, Richard and I were banking money for a rainy day or "just in case I decided to stay home with the new baby". We'll say I was "psychic" or at least that's what I tell him..ha ha! Anyway, that "rainy day" has come and gone, along with some of our savings. I was told babies were expensive, but no one told me about Corbin. In recent months, he is eating us out of house and home...clocking in at practically a car payment a month just for food and meds. Thanks Corbs, you'll get my invoice when you turn 18!
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He has hit his peak recently, taking close to 34oz on some days and we are just up to two solid meals. You would think the kid was starving, but..oh how he sleeps :) I'll definitely keep paying for that one. Since his tummy is such an issue, we had put off starting him on solids until about 2-3 weeks ago. So far, so good. He had an allergic reaction to rice cereal, but loves sweet potatoes and avocado. But with the expense of his formula and his new bottom-less belly, things are a little tight. We figured during this transition to cheaper food, it would be. So to alleviate any financial stress in our house...I have made my trip to the dark side...yup, the coupon dark side. Now it is pretty stereotypical for a stay-at-home mom to cut coupons. Every new thing I take on that seems so common sense to most women has just been a new surprise to this new mom. I don't know what fantasy world I was living in..but the thrill of coupons is both fabulous and a little hilarious all at the same time. Now that I'm in this money saving state...I ask myself why I ever bought ANYTHING at full price. I'll tell you my story of how I became the "Coupon Queen" in the Bray/Shah households!
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So Corbin started eating us out of house and home..skip forward to all the mommies on Charlotte Mommies going mad over "triples". Yes, I was just as lost on it as you may be. My first thought was that I really didn't need all that cleaning crap and a bunch of condiments, so I would skip out on the whole confusing adventure. But as "triples" started and I got sucked into these women's results...I had to try it. I've been cutting coupons for a while now and had a reserve that we used twice a month when we went grocery shopping. I was stoked the first time I saved $20. Amateur! Yeah, some of these women were cutting 98% of their grocery costs...how you ask? You better believe I did! Oh yes, there is a huge strategy to coupons that had fallen on deaf ears if anyone had told me before, but if I had to eat Ramen noodles any time after I graduated from college..it would have been too soon. So off I went...to Google... to find my own method to the madness. Turns out that you can get all kinds of stuff for crazy cheap and even free...not to mention some of these women were leaving Harris Teeter with groceries and MORE money in their pocket! It's insane! So Richard and I found all the stuff we needed and I made a late night trip to Harris Teeter for my first shot at triples. Mistake number one...you don't pick which coupons you want to use..you follow the sales to determine that..duh! So I go through the store and get my coupons as I'm looking at sales and figure out that it will cost me $11 for all the stuff I had....cereal, yogart, Balmex, deodarant, etc. So she rings it up and much to my disappointment..it was $40! What the hell!! I ask why she didn't triple all my coupons...much to my surprise, I didn't research enough. The only coupons that triple are .99 or less...well that's some shit! But I did save 50% on my first trip..not bad for a rookie. And I was soooo hooked! Yes, Richard makes a weekly trip to my parents house to steal their Sunday coupons and then a stop to buy an extra paper. I clip, categorize, and file them away for the optimal time to use each one. I think I'm going to need to go get some sort of therapy, but in the past two weeks since my first shot at triples, I have saved $124 on $243 worth of stuff...so I'm pretty much averaging 50%. It's hilarious! I'm in heaven when I see a killer coupon and have had several dreams about what deals I may find. :)
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So here are the rules for any of you wanna-be Queens out there...Bi-Lo, Lowes Foods, and Harris Teeter double any coupons under .99 every day. Harris Teeter triples coupons for three days once a quarter and the trick is to use a double/triple coupon on something that is already on sale. For instance, I made my first FREE transaction the other day. I got a box of brownie mix, a box of rice, and three boxes of cereal...guess how much...they OWED ME 40 cents! WAHOO!! I, of course, called and bragged to everyone I knew. Who probably weren't as impressed as I was...I've even landed 4 boxes of toothpaste from Target for free because you can use a Target coupon and a mfg coupon on the same product...can you hear the excitement in my voice???? I know its sad, but you better believe that $123 has me laughing all the way to the bank!
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I've also recently landed a part-time, stay-at-home gig..paying a nice salary! I'll be working 12 hours a week in the office until the end of Sept and then I will be doing her books for the same amount of time from home. It's pretty sweet! A litte extra cash, something to do when Corbs is napping, and all in my PJs! This I also found on Charlotte Mommies...so this post is for you lovely ladies who are keeping me from eating Ramen noodles while my son eats "Morton's" milk :)
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I just find it so funny how you always get what you need when you need it...turns out that my new salary, after-tax, is the EXACT amount a month that we have been spending on Corbin. Someone is definitely looking out for us. The extra money I'm saving with my new passion can easily go towards putting our savings back to where it was and even give us an occasional date night while Corbin gets some much needed "Grandma" time. Most people find any financial woes to be so depressing, but the challenge makes staying home with Corbin that much sweeter. I can't imagine doing anything else and I would definitely eat Ramen noodles, three meals a day, until the day I die to get to see him all day long. Its so hard to explain how you never feel "full" off the time you have with your baby. He started saying mama and dada recently, plus he has started reaching out to you when he wants you to hold him. So, this is what I say to that....Pass me the bowl because I'm not going anywhere anytime soon :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Don't lie..you'd say the same thing ;)

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others. ~Anonymous *
"I'd rather my kid be dumb and blind!" Oh yes, this I say to our pediatrician who just personally called us to check on my son. Taken out of context, this statement might make me sound like a horrible mother..well, yes it makes me sound terrible. But in the midst of the conversation..doctor laughing on the other end...it is, in fact, a mother who is completely worried and at the end of her rope with what seems to be the never ending allergy! URGH!

So under the instruction of our doctor and no excitement of my own, we attempted to switch Corbin to a new formula..slightly less expensive and contains microscopic broken down milk protein. Oh, goodie. I believe his exact words were..its time for a challenge. Little did he know how right he was. For days before this "challenge", I could not sleep, eat, or do any other necessary events you learn to go without when you become a mother. So the day we appointed as the right one arrives and our adventure begins. We had planned to make the switch over 3 weeks..slowly but surely...and just like that, my pipe dream was shot down with a new reality of...wait for it, wait for it...TWO days. You heard me..make the switch in TWO days...incase you didn't get it...TWO DAYS. We were to start with a teaspoon of the new stuff mixed in the old..double it at every bottle..to end the second day with 7oz of the "new" liquid gold. So we start. Tsp in...2 tsps...4 tsps...etc. We got through the first day without a hitch...I'm thinking this is going to be a breeze and I was clinging to that inevitable mommy worry just for the thrill of it. Second day, we've got this under control. Get to the full bottle with no problem. YAY!! So here's where the fun begins...two more full bottles in and we've got colic. I don't mean..I'm a new mommy and I think my baby's belly hurts...I mean straight up..what the f*ck happened to my happy baby. Corbin's screaming..I'm trying to talk to the GI...and Richard, formula in fist..is ready to pitch that (bleep) out the window. Moral of the story..we are still on the expensive formula. Boo!

Of course, I hit google. Google is like your best friend when you have all the time in the world and a mole hill worry, you just have to make into a mountain. Needless to say, I've been banned by my husband. So, I'm searching EVERYTHING I can possibly find on milk protein allergies because we were assured this would be "outgrown" by now. When I come across, my new enemy...DHA/ARA! Now, this could be perfectly fine, but I'm pissed and looking for something other than what we know is the issue. I think its a woman thing. Anyway, DHA/ARA, for those of you who don't know, is a manufactured fatty acid that is added to formula to make it closer to breastmilk. It's supposed to make your baby smarter and have 20/20. With an entire family of pretty blind people, glasses are in Corbin's future, so I've come to accept it. Back to the point...the first case of Neocate I gave Corbin had this acid in it..did I mention it comes from algae....no go with the Neocate at that point. We thought it was his acid reflux peaking (which is probably true), but when I bought the second case..off ebay for less than half the cost...it didn't have it and Corbin was fine. Sooo, I find this website on Google of mothers who have filed complaints against the formula people for putting this in the formula and thier babies don't tolerate. Yup, one sounded JUST like Corbin.

“My son has been having serious problems with formulas that contain DHA/ARA. From the time he was 2 weeks old he was on formula that contained DHA/ARA and from the time he went on this he became extremely gassy and fussy. He would scream at each bottle. Under the doctor’s advice we tried him on the hypoallergenic formula and he still had the problems. We were on the verge of putting him on medication for reflux when I decided to try a formula that does not contain DHA/ARA and I now have a new baby. He is content and eating without pain. I completely believe that the DHA/ARA was the cause of my son’s problem. I truly believe that the DHA/ARA should be studied more and these issues made more public as I know that I am not alone after talking with other mothers.”

So this leads me to the conversation with Dr. Glass....I mentioned this and said that I can only find ONE formula besides Neocate that gives you the choice of whether you want to put this fake fatty acid in your child's body..which he nicely responds with, well if they find something that will make your child smarter and make him see better..they are going to use it. Hence the "I'd rather have a dumb, blind kid" See, I'm not so bad :)

Since this lovely event, we've tried rice cereal with no luck and had a serious reaction to a round of 6 month shots...does it seem like it never ends to anyone else? My sensitive lil' boy requires just a little more care than most, but I'm happy to do it because this is what I've learned so far from the situation. When you aren't a parent, its so easy to buy into the cliche of being a mom...especially a stay-at-home mom...is the hardest job in the world. That you don't care if you have a boy or a girl..you just want them to be healthy. It's not until you are in the middle of the storm that you realize the truth in these words. No one can possibly begin to understand what its like in your shoes. But I'm here to tell you that it is the hardest, but best, job in the world and you will never care about anything else as long as your baby is healthy. So yes, I'll take the dumb, blind kid..thanks! He just might have to hear about it later :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Murphy strikes again

A perfect example of minority rule is a baby in the house.-- Milwaukee Journal

As luck would have it, Corbin woke up in a GREAT mood this morning. Yup...didn't get up until 6:30AM..you heard me...6:30!! If you had asked me 6 months ago if I would be excited about this time of morning..I would have laughed in your face. Well, I probably would have been snoring, but I hit the snooze button at least 3 times at this specific hour every weekday morning. Not anymore..and I can't believe he actually slept in! He finally woke me up by talking to this small aquarium at the bottom of his mobile. He just discovered it THIS morning...I walked in his room, rolled him over, and he laughed, laughed, laughed.......That little shit!

So before we had children, I considered myself a pretty lucky person. Everything, well..most everything, in life just fell into place. I followed my gut and things just went my way. Until we had a baby. It seems that Murphy's law seems to ramp up right as the universe realizes that you have way more at stake. I'm thinking it's called Mother's Law, not Murphy..because Murphy doesn't screw everything up..it's those freakin' kids. When becoming a mother, just know that if something will go wrong, they..no...Corbin..has a way of figuring it out just as you think you have it all figured out!

Our sweetie has set himself on a pretty strict schedule for the past month to two months. I could time it perfectly..what time he would get sleepy, what time he would wake up, and he had not disappointed me yet. He wakes up religiously between 6:00-6:15am laughing away and his best time of day is between 11:00am-12:30pm. Judging on this fact, I booked our wedding photographer to do our first family photo as a gift for Richard for Father's day. (He had the choice of stocking his wine fridge, going to the Whitewater rafting park in Charlotte, or a family photo..he chose the photo..what a guy!) So I told her to be there at 11:30am originally, but then changed it to 11am since he was doing so well. So yesterday came...and of course, Corbin wakes up SCREAMING at 5am. URGH!

We got almost exactly one month off from the screaming...he's currently teething, so many a days, he's just in a lovely mood. I can't say I blame him, but seriously, its my sanity at stake,not his. So 5am..screaming...we tried to let him put himself to sleep, but it just kept getting worse. Of course, Richard was all "what's the big deal, it's only an hour". ONLY AN HOUR!!! Oh..he'll find out about "only an hour". Finally, we went to try and calm him down..no go..and we just went ahead and fed him. Our next course of action was to try and keep him up until his next scheduled nap time...we tried a walk..not in a stroller, but in the Bjourn...no go. He passed out hanging off the front of me around 8am. CRAP! Soooo, maybe he'll surprise us and just sleep through since he was up an hour early..no go. Up at 9:30am and still cranky as all hell. Who would have thought this would be easy..teething and of course, his first cold. So we slam him down in front of the tv..aka..baby crack! Baby Einstein blaring.."jump, jump"...always puts him in a good mood. AND it worked..wahoo! I thought perhaps we had just pulled off the stunt of a lifetime UNTIL...our lady showed up at 11:30am instead of our revised 11am. So the combo of Corbin's early nap and her late arrival did not make for a pretty picture. Long story short..she had to stay through a 30 minute snoozer and he was nice enough to shell out a few smiles afterwards right before the close of his show and back to the order of the day...screaming.

This display of untimely sweetness..on the day after our snapshot of our current lives...has me thinking. I truly thought, complete with conversation with Sally, that I had suddenly become a natural. I woke up one morning to find this young woman who had blossomed into a mother. Honestly, I was rocking Corbin to sleep one night...yup screaming..and when he puked all down the front of me..I lifted, wiped, set back down, and back to rocking without any hesitation to the nasty feeling of drool/milk running down the inside of my shirt. I had this thing down. So I thought. Then he threw me a curve ball. I think this is just how it goes and I'm still on the learning curve. It's not like a job as a financial analyst, where every 23rd or so of the month, you pull the P&Ls, analyze them, correct them, and predict future expenses. Pretty predictable..easy to master...not much to it after you figure out your niche. Now, I've been thrown into the deep end of a job much less glamorous, but with way more reward.

So as I walked into Corbin's room on this happy baby day...he had somehow learned to cross the crib and was staring into his lil' aquarium, telling his dreams to the fishies. I couldn't help, but smile. I rolled him over to whisper good morning and when I came into focus, he shot me a grin as big as his face would allow. He chatted me up for a minute then started playing with the fishies again as I got his breakfast ready. He let me change his diaper and onesie with no fuss, which never happens..even giggled as I pulled his arms out since I was tickling him by accident. He took his bottle with no problem, burped with no argument, not a drop of spit up to follow each one....and finished by reading I love you, Stinky Face with his mommy. And there we were, 24 hours later and all right in the world, thinking about how wonderful it was....just to be followed by his usual Niagara Falls gush...and OH, the universe was back to normal!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My inspiration

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Thanks to the inspiration of my friend, Emily, I made this video to show all the good things that have happened in the past 5 months. Hers was for her son's 1 year and was way cooler, but I'm sure I'll make another. At first, I claimed it would be a Father's Day present, but seriously..who am I kidding. It was all for me :) I feel like all I do is b*tch about motherhood on this thing. I don't mean to, but I guess its partially for therapy and partially to give an accurate picture of what its really like to be a mother. There really is no way I could ever describe to you what it is truly like to become a parent. Its something you have to feel on your own time and in your own way. Starting with having a child ;) But all though the past five months have been a huge transition for us, this video represents what I feel it is like to be a mother. I'm sure in 20 years all Corbin will hear about is how he cried for what felt like 4 months straight, but in all honesty...this is what really mattered. :) So here's to you Corbs..making me the happiest woman in the world for 5 months and for 5 million to come. :) :)

P.S. - To a "parent" eye, these pictures don't all look the same...but to the normal naked eye, they might..ha ha! It's a mommy thing..Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Picture perfect..


It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it. ~From the television show The Golden Girls
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So last April..Friday the 13Th to be exact...a group of friends and I decided to celebrate what most people consider to be a very unlucky day and a very unlucky number. This, like most things in my life, has proven to be the opposite. The number 13 is my lucky number..the day I went on my first date with Richard, the day we moved into our brand new house, and our first full day as Man and Wife (we were married on November 12 at 5pm). In order to celebrate this "lucky" day, we invited an astrologer over to our house to give us our "readings". After sending her our birthday, time of birth, and place of birth, she came up with the universe's master plan for the rest of our lives. I have to admit that I buy into this crap even though that sheet of paper looked like a circle with a bunch of dots on it..partially because my father's culture does the same thing when a baby is born...yet my sister didn't marry a rock star at the age of 21...hmmm, I may need to reconsider. Still it was fun and interesting to find out where the universe had me plotted on the map of life. Well after a few glasses of wine and way too many Freddy jokes later...I found out. She pretty much hit the nail on the head...I went to school because I thought I had to....hated what I did in life...would end up being an interior designer, but not until I gave birth to "all" my children and they made their triumphant leap into kindergarten. Unfortunately, I asked what "all" meant and she told me that I would have SIX children starting last fall. A month later...I was preggo! Trust me..Richard has a very important snip in his future to avoid that scary devil six she was mentioning. ;) She did mention that I wouldn't ever have to worry about money, so maybe I should start pimping Corbin out after that commercial we did..blah, we were blurry extras in the background..but still, can you say your child was in a commercial?? I didn't think so ;)
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So since she really had me going..I decided to check my yearly horoscope on her website..too freakin' funny our truth teller has her own ".com"...but anyway..this is what it said...
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Virgo: No doubt you have read this before: Now is the time to redefine yourself and your life direction. You've known it for over a year, but in the late summer of '07 it became starkly clear. It may be lonely on the path for a couple of years, but the effort will give you new life, so stay with it. Let the past go. Keep only what and who is truly important to you. Between now and the 3rd quarter of '09, the main project is to blend what is at your core and unchangeable with what is nontraditional for you. If this is not immediately apparent, it will be so in March. This undertaking will be a test of confidence and creativity, but it is timely now. If your wish is to have children or encounter a new lover, it likely will be granted this year. Take especially good care of yourself in Jan-Feb. Your energy and reflexes are lower at that time. You will be fuzzy-minded in latter April. In May-June you will likely travel to someplace you have been in the past. Sep-Oct is a time to pause and think carefully about the next steps. In Nov-Dec you will begin the new project in earnest.
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It's funny because we found out we were having a boy in Aug '07 and I decided to be a stay-at-home mom in March of this year. Don't you love how you..maybe its just me..can turn any horoscope into what's REALLY going to happen or has happened in your life. I think I have too much time on my hands ;) But anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not really the quintessential soccer mom. At this point in my life, I don't ever plan on having a mini-van or an oversized SUV. Sadly, after our afternoon outing with Max and Heather...this might just be a pipe dream on my part and I will more than likely take my riteful seat as a bus driver to six screaming children...can I make some kind of team with that many?
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Recently, I've hit the stay-at-home mom plateau...my initial drive to fill my life with playdates and lunches out..has scaled down and I'm left to find myself obsessing over a mommy website that seems to be one of my only outlets to the "outside" world. I was so naive when I was pregnant with Corbin...I may be alone on this, but at least have the loving support of our friend, Sally, who also traveled the walk of shame afterwards... in apologizing for being so opinionated about motherhood when we really had NO idea what we were talking about. One of those very opinions was how if I were a stay-at-home mom I could never just sit in the house all day...I would join mommy groups and have Corbin immersed in all kinds of activities to socialize him and make sure he was learning while he played..its a wonder someone didn't take me out before I even got going :) The truth of the matter is that being a stay-at-home mom can be very lonely...Mrs. Astrology herself predicted I would feel this way and yet again, she knows me best. All babies find different schedules..and coordinating those schedules is more pain than its worth..I've learned this the hard way. Most new mommies picture their lives with their newborn..from the day he's born to the day he learns to walk to the day he leaves for college. What he'll be, who he'll marry, and of course, how much he'll thank you for being that perfect mother..if there is such a thing..ha ha!! This perfect picture you paint is never what it seems to be..never what really happens..kind of like a horoscope. If everything worked out the way you had planned, life wouldn't be any fun. If I knew where the universe had me mapped, where's the element of surprise. The surprises come in the best places.
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Corbin started teething just a few weeks ago. Oh the joys! At least I got about a month off from the chaos ;) His spit up has gotten itself semi-under control only to be replaced by this faucet of drool he conveniently broke the nob to. He chews on anything and everything, including my face when I'm rocking him to sleep. He's always flush with a little baby fever and hasn't stopped sucking on his hand long enough to shove a bottle in his mouth. The other morning was especially rough and Corbin couldn't manage to put himself to sleep for his first nap. Richard was home from work with a sore throat and I was exhausted. I opted to go get him and just bring him back to bed...he hasn't allowed this since he was four weeks old. He must have been really tired because after settling under the covers, he lied his head on my chest...thumb in mouth..and fell fast asleep. I woke up about an hour and a half later to find the Bray family snuggled up and happily dreaming. I found my perfect picture. It's not the vision of you walking your toddler into school on the first day..its the feeling. The warm feeling that comes through the lonely times when you are staring at a computer screen. When everyone is sick and you wake up to find your family huddled up under the covers just being together. No one gets that easy ride you have in your mind when your pregnant..if you say you did, you are lying or that awesome drug your brain gives you to forget has already kicked in...but I just decided to steal this quote from one of my good friends to describe motherhood perfectly....."I'm not telling you it is going to be easy - I'm telling you it's going to be worth it" -- Art Williams

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