Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kid's Exchange Sale

Even though I'm a Dave Ramsey fanatic, I'm not all that good at couponing, bargain shopping, or finding awesome deals.  I work with women that are EXPERT coupon-ers.  I'm pretty sure each of them has a grocery budget of $10/month.  They are that good at it.  (Ladies, you know who you are...)

When I found out I was pregnant, people all around me started offering up ideas of how to get baby stuff for cheap.  One of the greatest ideas told to me was the semi-annual Kid's Exchange Sale in Raleigh.  It is a HUGE consignment sale with a ton of variety of quality used items for kids.  It is so hard to know pre-kid what you'll really use or need or want to have 10 of.  While pregnant, I went in January with my friend Amy.  She advised me on what types of things to get at this sale:  bathtub, play mat, pack 'n plays for mom and mom-in-law, clothes, bouncy seats, to name a few items.  This past July, I went to my second sale.  This time, I had a 6 week old baby to shop for.  I had a little better idea of what I wanted/needed/couldn't live without.  My mom and mother-in-law joined me at this sale.  We had a great time!  Lots of great deals were found.

Here we are with some of the loot: (mom on left, mother-in-law on right)
Mom got a diaper champ and a bouncy seat.  Gail and I both got high chairs (the kind that secure to a chair).  I got a Pottery Barn rug for $60 that matches the nursery perfectly.  Gail got a Radio Flyer Wagon, which conveniently served as our "cart".

Searching through a mountainous pile of crib sheets.

The loot, waiting to be packed up.

Oh, I also got a jogging stroller for cheap!  Haven't tried it out yet, though, because apparently you have to wait until the baby is older to put them in such an apparatus.  Who knew.

Thankfully Gail drives an SUV.  We would've had significant trouble cramming this stuff into my Honda Civic.

Happy shoppers!

After a couple hours of shopping, we treated ourselves to a lovely lunch at Remington Grill.  Yummm.

Side note:  At 6 weeks post-partum, I was still living solely in my Target-brand nursing tank tops, exhibited in these pictures. :)

If you are not familiar with this sale and you have kids, or nieces or nephews or grandkids or neighborhood kids you like a lot, I'd recommend you checking it out!  It is every January and July in the Raleigh area.  There are lots of other cities that have these sales as well.  Check out their website.  If I can plan well enough, I hope to get James' clothes at this sale and not have to pay full price for clothing.  Ever.  Because James is so young, I haven't ventured into the "toy" section of this sale yet, although it is EXTENSIVE.  The whole area is brightly colored and fun looking because of all the exciting toys.  Maybe at the January sale I'll get him some toys. :)  As a 6 or 7 month old, he won't know Christmas isn't in January, right??  

The great thing is that as James outgrows stuff or we realize we aren't using certain items we have, we can sell them at the next sale.  Maybe there's hope for me learning to be frugal!

Have you ever been to a large-scale consignment sale?  What types of things have you purchased there? What would you never buy used?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Let me paint a picture for you:

Imagine Scott stretched out on the couch, arm draped over his eyes, as if any more light will make his head explode.  I'm folded up in the recliner in a most non-chiropractic-friendly position, trying to keep my eyes open.  The baby is asleep.

It's 8 pm.

We are totally wiped out.  At 8 pm.  The house is a wreck all around us.  Baby gear and burp cloths on the floor.  Dishes strewn about the kitchen.  Piled up mail and miscellaneous papers cover the dining room table.  Laundry baskets, ours and the kid's, are overflowing.  The bathroom is so dirty...well...let's not discuss that.  

Last week Scott and I started back to work.  We've been off together all summer.  Maternity leave for me.  School teacher summer off for Scott.  Break is over.  Back to work!

I told Scott I feel like we're free-falling right now.  Grasping at air around us, trying to stop the fall.  He said it doesn't feel like free-falling to him.  More like survival mode.  Side note:  I'm a cat lover.  My analogies relate to cats.  How I feel right now is like one of those time-lapse photography thingy-boppers that show a cat falling and twisting in mid air, ultimately landing on their feet.  Except I haven't landed on my feet yet.  Scott is an Eagle Scout.  His analogies relate to his boy scout experiences growing up.  It makes sense to me that he feels like we're in survival mode.

When you're surviving, only the very top priority items get attention.

Food, for example.  We are all eating.  Well, most of us are eating. The problem is that one of my cats, Otto, gets canned food on a daily basis.  Long story shortened into one run-on sentence:  He has health issues and is losing weight and to try to stop that downward trend, we started canned food, which he loves more than dry food.  Poor Otto.  He either gets his canned food zero times a day or several times a day.  Who knows.  Scott and I are doing well to keep ourselves and the baby fed.  We can't keep track of whether we fed Otto or not.  So it's possible we BOTH fed him.  Or neither of us did.  Again, poor Otto.

Employment is important.  Well, most of us are working.  Money being the necessity it is, Scott and I have been going to work.  James isn't working yet.  Neither are the cats.  Lazy freeloaders...

Personal hygiene.  Well, most of us are bathing.  I'm pretty sure Scott and I are still showering on a regular basis.  (Well I KNOW I am, just can't speak Scott.)  Poor James is getting left out of this one.  For a little while I was doing nightly baths.  Counter-top baths, not in a bath tub, for reasons explained here.  But now, it's been a few (several?) nights with no bath-ing going on for James.  I've been too tired at night!  And he doesn't smell too bad.  Yet.

Some things that have not been making the priority list:  Sleep.  Cleanliness of the home.  Grocery shopping.  Details, details.

I know we'll find our groove soon.  This is very much a phase, not a destination.  We started out the summer learning to do life with a newborn.  Now we're learning to do work + life + a newborn.  It is very doable.  It just takes some adjusting!

Today when I was driving around doing errands, I noticed at one particular stoplight that after I went through the intersection, none of the people behind me followed suit.  Either they were all waiting to turn left like I was and oncoming traffic would not permit them to do so, or (more likely) I ran a red light.  Immediately after turning I could not for the life of me remember if the light was red or green.  I'm not an intentional red-light-runner.  But today, due to a little case of distractedness, I may have run one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Umbilical Granuloma

Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I haven't.  And I'm a nurse.  And I work with babies.  Apparently, this happens to 1 in 500 babies.  Way to go James!  Way to be 1 in 500! :)

When he was borned, his belly looked like this:

Four long weeks later, his cord finally fell off.  I was so excited to finally get to put him in a bathtub instead of doing counter-top sponge baths.  After the cord fell off, the tissue underneath was yellow looking and moist (for lack of a better word).  I didn't feel comfortable putting him in a bathtub yet, so I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Two weeks later, it was just not looking right to me.  Every onesie he wore was stained yellow-ish by the end of the day.  His belly button area actually looked BIGGER than when the cord fell off.  Off to the pediatrician we went.  When I made the call, I was expecting to have to "defend" my reasoning for needing an appointment.  I guess I thought it was like I was at work, calling a doctor or nurse practitioner.  It's best to have all your facts straight prior to making a call.  Not that I always have my facts straight when I call an MD or NP, but it would be best if I would.  I thought the call would go like this:

Pediatrician office-lady-person:  "And what is the reason for this appointment?"

Nurse-mom-me:  "My son has something wrong with his umbilicus.  His cord fell off two weeks ago.  It's like a wound that won't heal.  It oozes a serous fluid on his clothing.  He is afebrile.  (no fever)  He's eating and voiding/stooling normally.  He doesn't appear to be bothered by this umbilical issue.  Do you think we could get an appointment for this?"

How the conversation actually went:

Pediatrician office-lady-person:  "And what is the reason for this appointment?"

Nurse-mom-me:  "My son has something going on with his belly button.  His cord..."

Pediatrician office-lady-person:  <interrupting me, in a good way>  "Alright!  We'll see you at 3pm."

Wait...that's it?  They didn't make me explain anything at all!  That was AWESOME.  When we got to the pediatrician (visit #1), they weighed him.  He was several ounces heavier than his two week check up.  If we learned nothing else at that appointment, I felt reassured about how the breastfeeding was going!  I explained to Dr. Monroe that I wanted someone who was medically trained and way more well-rested than I was to take a look at his belly button.  It looked like this:  (Sorry for the blurry pictures.  I am not a fan of my new point and shoot Fuji camera.)

(It looks like a small brain!!)

She immediately said "Oh, that's a granuloma.  We'll put some silver nitrate on it."  She silver nitrated the mess out of that thing.  It was quickly obvious to me that there were no nerve endings in this granuloma-thing because James didn't hit the ceiling when she applied it.  We think James has a crush on his pediatrician, Dr. Monroe, so maybe he was just trying to be brave.  After learning that silver nitrate can stain clothing, we changed him into another onesie we had in his diaper bag.  An "ugly" onesie that we didn't mind getting stained. We left the office with an appointment the next week for follow up.  

The next week we went back.  The appointment (visit #2) went exactly as the first.  Weight check, silver nitrate, change into ugly onesie, leave with appointment for the next week for follow up.  

The next week's appointment (visit #3) was shaping up to be the same as the previous ones.  No noticeable change observed in the granuloma.  Silver nitrate was not winning this battle, so they referred us to a pediatric surgeon.  Before we left the office they had already made us an appointment for that Friday.  

At the surgeon's office, the beginning part of the appointment (visit #4) was much the same with the weighing-in part.  The doctor decided to apply some lidocaine (topical anesthetic) for 15 minutes and then tied two really tight sutures around the base of the granuloma, cutting off the blood supply.  In theory, this would cause it to fall off within a week, according to the surgeon.  James was fine with the whole process, right up until those two sutures were cinched down nice and tight.  Apparently there were some nerve endings SOMEwhere in there!  My heart hurt to watch him hurt!  It was very brief, but still.  It hurt both of us. :(  We left there with instructions to come back in a week if it hadn't fallen off.

That very night during one of his diaper changes, it fell off!  There was MUCH rejoicing!  Okay, it was just me rejoicing, but I was happy.  Once again I had visions of putting James in a bathtub, hopefully prior to high school.  

The Monday after our Friday surgeon appointment, James had his two month well visit.  Back to the pediatrician.  Again (visit #5).  At this point Dr. Monroe was probably thinking we LIVE in her office!  She said that his belly button should heal up within a week or so.   Well, that was August 8th.  Now it's the 23rd and it still hasn't healed.  Yes, I should've taken him back to the doctor by now, but I keep hoping against hope that it will heal on it's own!  I got some silver nitrate sticks and had a nurse practitioner friend treat his belly button again.  That was two days ago.  Folks, if this doesn't heal it up, I don't know what will!

I guess I should post a picture of what it looks like now, but he is sleeping.  To be SURE I'm not waking a sleeping baby for a blog post. :)  Because of the silver nitrate, it sort of looks like we lit a firecracker in his belly button.  It's all dark gray/blackish around his belly button.  Scott says we could try the firecracker-route if this doesn't work.  

I can no longer football-hold James for his counter-top baths.  He's way too big for that.  One day he'll get a real bath...

disclaimer:  I know there are a million worse health problems my kid could have.  If this is the worst health-thing we go through with him, I'll be grateful.  It's a nuisance, but that's it.

Aug. 24th update:  Here's a picture of his firecracker belly button:

This picture also portrays his pot-belliedness quite well. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back To Work

Tomorrow is the day.  THE day.  The go-back-to-work day.  To be honest, I am not excited.

Used to, I thought women who came back to work after maternity leave and cried were sissies.  Overly emotional sissies.  If you were one of those women, I'm sorry.  I misjudged you.

I get it now.

  • I get it that you've been attached to this baby for 9 (really 10) months of pregnancy and 9 weeks after.  You've never spent more than a few hours away.  A work day suddenly feels like a lifetime of separation.
  • I get that you feel like nobody can take better care of your baby than you.  
  • I get that you even doubt your very-capable husband's ability to care for your child.  Much less a grandmother or a daycare worker.  
  • I get that you're afraid of missing something fantastic that your baby does for the first time.  Or the hundredth.  
  • I get that you feel like you're just starting to understand this role of "Mom", and going back to work to put on the "employee" hat might threaten your "Mom" role.  Like it's impossible to do both well. 
  • I get that somewhere deep inside you feel a little guilty for not wanting to be a full time stay at home mom.  Because, to be sure, that makes you a bad mother.
  • For other birthmothers, I get that going back to work and "leaving" your baby feels like a distant cousin-feeling to leaving your child that you placed for adoption.  And that stings.  Your heart wants to run into a closet and hide in the dark to avoid the pain.
So tomorrow when I rejoin the work force, if I shed a few tears, I'll be sure and give myself a little grace in the process.  I'm no sissy...