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
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 ;)
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.
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)

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!!
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. :)