All About Us

Cory and I met online through in February of 2003.  Neither of us were active online daters.  We had both just discovered the world of online dating and thought to give it a try.  Cory worked long hours and had little time for getting out and meeting someone.  I had no interest in meeting anyone else in a bar type setting.  After all, I had just bought a house for myself and my daughter and taken on a full time job.  I was ready to start a quality relationship and so was Cory. 

We chatted a little through email and then I gave him my phone number.  We talked for hours on end one evening and decided to meet for lunch that Monday.  The plan was that Cory would pick me up at work and take me out to lunch.  Quick and easy just in case we didn't like each other ~ haha.  Well, that Monday morning I came down with a terrible soar throat and couldn't make it to work or to our lunch date.  The worst part about it was that I didn't have a phone number to get a hold of Cory!  I was so worried about this all morning and kept checking my work voice messages.  Finally I heard a message from Cory.  He was calling to make sure we were still on for lunch and he left his number!  I was able to call him back and tell him that I was sick and swore over and over that I was not standing him up.  He was very understanding and we agreed to have dinner instead later that week. 

During the week before we met in person we spent hours every night on the phone with each other.  It felt like we had known each other forever!  That Friday evening Cory arrived at my house to pick me up for our date.  He brought with a surprise for my daughter.. a kitten!  Yes, I knew this surprise would be arriving with him.  He knew that I was looking for a kitten for Mariah and he surprised me with finding one for her and warned me with the LOUD kitty cries in the background of our phone conversation while he was on the way to my house.  Mariah was so pleased and had no problem saying good bye to me while I left with Cory on our first date.  Mariah, Uncle Scotty, and Shannon stayed home that evening and kept our new kitty Finster entertained. 

Cory and I had a very nice first date together.  We went to a local restaurant called Los Mariachis and then out to the movies to see How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  We had a nice conversation and felt very comfortable together.  It was a perfect evening.  A couple dates later was Valentine's Day.  Cory came to my house and cooked steaks for us.  I attempted to make cookies, but Cory would not get off the phone with me while on his drive up so I managed to turn the oven to broil instead of bake and almost started the cookies on fire!  The house was smokey and I was laughing and yelling at him while throwing the cookies in to the snow in the back yard.   Luckily, I was able to change the oven to bake and save a few cookies!  We sat and talked and played cards that evening.  They were Valentine's cards that asked questions about getting to know each other.  By this point I think we knew more about each other than some couples did after dating for nearly a year. 

About a year later Cory moved in with Mariah and I.  We built a small office in the basement for Cory to work from.  We also put in a paved driveway, redid the siding on the house, and put on a new roof.  All of these projects were VERY involved just like every project since in our life together.  When we hired a contractor to replace our roof he tore it off and left never to return.  We had no roof and a major rain storm!  This led to a new living room ceiling and all new insulation in our attic.  The siding was also half off from the same contractor.  We found someone quickly to replace the roof and siding and fortunately they did an wonderful job!  Another project we took on at that house was knocking out a wall in the master bedroom.  I knew there was empty space behind the angled wall and I wanted badly to know what was back there so I put my heal through the old plaster and grabbed a flashlight.  I found 4' x 12' of unclaimed space!  My dad came over, gave it a peak, and nodded at Cory with a look of "well, good luck!".  Dad knew that I wanted to claim that space as part of our room and that is exactly what we did.  After our slight remodel we put in new carpet and painted the walls a dark chocolate brown.  It was a beautiful room. 

Our next step in life was to buy land together to build on in the future.  No, we weren't engaged at this point, but we knew we'd be together forever.  So, we purchased 3 acres from my uncle and started looking at house plans.  This is where the projects really began!  We had some of the most beautiful house plans picked out but the cost of them seemed beyond unrealistic.  Oh if we could go back to this point of planning and starting over.  We ended up choosing a house plan that seemed simple to us.  We cut back on bedrooms, cut back on wasted space as it was called ~ otherwise known as character, and did as much of the house planning and building on our own as we could.  Now, 5 years later, we've spent the amount of our original plans and still don't have the house we first dreamed of.  It is a lovely home and it's our home, but to know then what we know now...

A couple months after buying our land together, Cory planned an evening out for just the two of us.  I had been asking to go out somewhere fancy for some time and was so excited about our date.  I never realized what the evening was about to bring.  We both got dressed up and went to dinner at the Polaris, a spinning restaurant above a hotel in Milwaukee.  It was an amazing restaurant and the views were breath taking.  It was late November of 2004, Black Friday actually.  The city was covered in snow and lights.  Breath taking.  After dinner Cory pulled out a ring and asked me to marry him.  I froze at first and asked if he was serious.  I did this in a state of shock, not at all denial as he likes to tease.  I quickly grabbed the ring box and said yes.  I think then I started to panic and told him we need to get out of the tall spinning restaurant.  The ride down the elevator was the longest ever because I couldn't wait to get outside and start calling friends and family!

Over the next one and a half years we began to build our house and plan our wedding.  In November of 2005 we moved in to our new home and July 15, 2006 we were united in marriage.  We had a large and beautiful wedding followed by a romantic honeymoon in Punta Cana.

In early May 2007 we found out that we were expecting child.  Our little Ethan James was born on January 14, 2008.  Mariah was thrilled to be a big sister.  We were a happy family of four! 

In late October 2010 we found out that we were again expecting.  I am at the half way point of this pregnancy as I write this post.  We are due to have baby Carter Oliver join our family around July 5, 2011.
We are ecstatic to become a family of five.  I think we'll cap it at five, but ya never know.  ;-)

Kelly (AKA blogger-mama):

I was born in Racine, WI on May 5, many years ago. I grew up in Union Grove, WI most of my life. When I was 13 years old my parents got divorced and my mom and I moved to Racine while my brother, Scott, stayed to live with my dad in Union Grove. My brother is 3 years younger than me so at the age of 10 he became an only child and at the age of 13 I became an only child. Yes, we still saw each other at times and my mom had custody of my brother every other weekend, but I rarely even went to stay with my dad. At the age of 13 the court feels a person is responsible enough to choose where they want to live. I chose to live with my mom and the court did not argue it. It was a good decision, but some times I wonder what life would have been like if my brother and I would have stayed together while growing up. I mean, watching our parents go through a divorce was dramatic enough, much less losing the daily interactions with a sibling.

These life changes events caused me to act out a bit and become a true handful of a teenager. I will not mention my doings here, but to make a long story short.... I got married 12 days after graduating high school and had my precious little Mariah exactly 6 months later. Shortly after that I realized that married life was not for me. Well, I realized the husband I had chosen was not for me. I filed for divorce with the help of a friend that worked for a local attorney. A couple years later my divorce was final and I had primary placement of Mariah.

When I was 24 and Mariah was 5, I bought us our very first house to live in. It was an old two story house with tons of character and had two nice sized bedrooms with huge walk in closets. The house had a covered front porch, a mud room off the back door, a beautiful open staircase, and a driveway of it's own. It was a perfect house for the two of us.

Shortly after buying the house I was transferred in to a full time position with Gateway Technical College. I had been working at Gateway since 2000 as a part time mail room / duplicating clerk. Going full time was a blessing to Mariah and I and finally gave us real insurance and a better income.

Before working at Gateway I had worked as a barber cosmetology apprentice at Partner's In Design. I loved doing hair and wish that I could have done it forever, but the hours were poor, there were no benefits, and the pay just wasn't enough as an apprentice. My passion still belongs to hair styling and making people feel better about themselves, but now I just find different ways to make that happen. While working at Gateway I went back to school and finished my nail technician license. I've worked at salons on and off over the years for extra income and fun social time. I also went back to school and earned my associates in general business and my bachelors in psychology. After finishing my bachelors degree I realized that finding a corporate career job was not for me. I am happy in my M-F set hour full time job. I call it my mom job because it's reliable, flexible, and allows me to fulfil my main obligation in life as a mother and wife.

I love to eat, cook, and bake. I hate diets but am always on one. I have always wanted 5 kids, but 3 kids plus 2 adults sounds wonderful enough for me. I love being around friends and family. I work outside of the home full time and I sell Pampered Chef part time. I am a Tauras (bull) and tend to have personality traits of a bull from time to time. I love to dance. I can't sing. I am a Christian.

Cory (AKA hubby and amazing dad to our littles):

Cory was born in Lake Forest, IL and spend most of his life growing up in Beach Park, IL. Cory was born on February 18, 1981. He has always been a hard worker and dedicated to everything he does. Cory and his sister Megan were raised by their mother Linda.

Throughout high school Cory worked at Baker's Square in Gurnee, IL. He met a lot of friends that he still keeps in touch with to this day. The most significant moment of his Baker's Square career was the day he was introduced to the idea of a new career. Two men often visited the diner for lunch and approached him with a new career option. That is when he was introduced to Cardinal Health. Cory went through a line of interviews and was offered a position as Application Specialist. He made the major career move and began working for a division of Cardinal Health called Pyxis in 2001. He has since worked his way up the corporate ladder and moved over to CareFusion with Pyxis as a Manager of Product Implementation.

In 2010 Cory began working towards his B.S. degree in Business Administration. He is doing really well with balancing his course work, full time career, family, and personal well being.

Mariah Rayann:

Mariah was born in Racine, WI on December 2, 1996. Mariah is my princess even though she has a bit of a sassy attitude from time to time... I guess she is a lot like her mother. :-)

When Mariah was 9 years old she was diagnosed with Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO). This was the most traumatic experience that I have ever lived through. I do not wish illnesses on any kids ever. It is terrible to go through for the child, the parents, and all the loved one's around them.

This all started when Mariah was 8 years old. She was complaining of her bones hurting. She was sad and didn't want to run and play with the other kids. I took her to the doctor many times and they always sent us home saying nothing was wrong. They said she was having growing pains, which I believe is a fictional term, and that she'd feel better soon. They told us to talk to her about depression and asked if she was shy. Having no answers and an aching child was very frustrating. We had nothing to test though because there were no symptoms or signs besides quietness, little interactions with kids, and her saying she was hurting.

It was Christmas time just after her 9th birthday when we saw the lump on her back. There was something bulging off of her "wing bone" on her right side. She told us it was hurting. She said this was the same type of pain she'd been having in her legs. By this time I was fed up with the doctor's answers. My friend Sarah was working in pediatrics and suggested we switch doctors. We made the switch and got her in to see the new doctor right away. He looked at the bump on Mariah's back and sent us straight up to Children's Hospital. We started with a rheumotologist. They were thinking that maybe she had rheumatoid arthritis and that was causing the pains in different areas of her body, but they still couldn't explain the bump. The doctor's at Children's were wonderful and very thorough. They sent us through every test imaginable. Mariah had a CT/CAT scan, she had x-rays, an MRI, blood draws, and finally a biopsy where they sedated her, put a tube down her throat to help her breath during the surgery, and they removed a part of the bump on her back. Before the biopsy, the doctors had explained to us that whatever Mariah had going on was affecting or was located in her legs, forehead, and both wing bones/shoulder areas. They ruled out rheumatoid arthritis and wouldn't give more guesses until after the biopsy.

The word biopsy terrified me. The word sedating my child also terrified me.

Cory (my fiance at the time) , Genaro (Mariah's father/my x-husband), and I sat in the hospital on a Friday night while Mariah had her biopsy. We talked and tried to entertain and calm each other. The time was passing so slowly and I was a mess. Finally the doctor came out and called us in to a small meeting room between the OR and the waiting room. He sat us down and said... well, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck then it's a duck, but we can't get exact readings... right now we are thinking it's cancer. We just need to do more test to confirm. At this point I went numb. I did at that I could to keep myself together and to try to process the terrifying words that I had just been told. We stepped out of the room and the doctors brought me back to be with Mariah. Cory and Genaro came with me. I walked to the table and began getting light headed. I grabbed on to the table to stop myself from falling over. The nurses ran over with a chair and made me put my feet down and put my feet up on the table were Mariah was laying as she was coming out of the anesthesia. The nurses brought me juice to sip on and helped me to calm down.

My world was ending as I was processing the thought of my child's life ending at just 9 years old.

We took Mariah home that night and heard little from the doctor's until that following Wednesday when we were scheduled to go back to Children's to review the results. Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and in to Wednesday... the LONGEST and hardest days of my life. We did not know 100% that Mariah had cancer, but we knew that the doctor's believed she had cancer. Bone cancer, throughout her body. I went through the stages of grieving. Stages 1 and 2 were pretty blended together. I was in shock, denial, and pain all at the same time. The guilt quickly followed. I felt guilty for not switching doctors sooner and for not catching this over the past year while listening to her complain. After that I became angry. Why Mariah, why my beautiful baby girl? Why did we deserve this. Our family was happy. I was getting married, Mariah was at a good school, we lived in a new house and had good jobs. Why our Mariah? By Monday and Tuesday of that week I had already made it to acceptance. What did I have to do to save my child's life. What ever it was going to take, Cory and I were willing to do it. We were going to give our all to make her life a long and happy one. She became our reason for existence even more so than she had been before.

On that Wednesday we received the best news we could have ever hoped for. Mariah did not have cancer. She had a very rare disease that had only been heard of a handful of times over the past 10 years at Children's Hospital. She had something known as CRMO. This was a disease that caused her bones to swell which in turn caused lesions. These lesions looked like disformed growths which made the doctors believe that she had cancer. This nasty little disease could be treated and managed with naproxen twice a day. This is recurrent and can go away for periods of time or stay as long as it would like. This news felt like a miracle. We would never wish anything on our child, but if we had to pick something we would pick CRMO hands down over bone cancer.

The naproxen has helped Mariah greatly. She took it for 6 months straight after being diagnosed. She has taken it for short periods of time over the past couple years. She is very good as spotting right away when inflammation is beginning. She has been active in soccer, cheerleading, dance, and life in general ever since her diagnosis. She is a very happy child now. Completely different from where she was at 8 and 9 years of age. We thank God often for the miracle that he gave us.

Ethan James:

Ethan was born in Racine, WI on January 14, 2008. Ethan was born 4 days after his due date. My original due date was January 10, 2008, but the doctors tried to induce me on January 4, 2008. Twenty-four hours of pain and I was sent back home with no progress, no dilation, no pain meds, and no baby... January 10th came and went... and finally I was rescheduled for induction on January 14th. My doctor looked over at Cory and I and said, today you will have a baby one way or another. This frightened me big time. I was terrified of a c-section and I knew the last induction did not work. Fortunately, on January 14, 2008, it worked. Ethan entered our world that afternoon. Cory was unable to cut the umbilical cord because it was wrapped around Ethan's neck. The doctor quickly worked his magic and had Ethan out with no issues. Health, handsome, and instantly loved.
Ethan in words: he's curious, creative, talkative, loving, oh so loving, he's happy, friendly, curious, a snuggler, a mini-Cory, polite, did I mention curious? He is our handsome little man. A couple of his nicknames are E-man, E, E-man-chew-man, the list goes on. He loves to introduce himself using his full first, middle, and last name. Adorable.

Ethan wasn't much of a crawler. He began butt scooting shortly after he learned how to sit up on his own. He would get everywhere quickly in a butt scooting fashion that had adults impressed. He didn't start crawling until he was close to a year old. Around 14 months he started walking and has been non stop ever since.

October 2010 Ethan developed a rash on his skin. We were told by his pediatrician that it was eczema. I have been treating this rash on and off for the past year with steroid creams, special lotions, and allergy medicine. This week we are taking him for skin testing with an allergist. I know it seems horrible that we've waited a year, but we took him to the doctor a handful of times over the year and all they kept doing was treating. I am fed up and no longer want to treat. Instead of want to figure out the cause and then eliminate. The idea of having my little man on daily medicine breaks my heart. I've also been doing things around the house to improve our way of living. I am hoping this will make things better for Ethan and the rest of our family. Read this posts for more information.

Carter Oliver:

Here is the post announcing Carter's arrival to our world. He was in our hearts and family the minute we found out we were pregnant with him. He is my completion. He makes us a family of five.

Carter was born on Saturday, June 25th, 2011. He was 10 days early, but right on time if you ask me. I was so uncomfortable the days before he was born. I wrote this post the night before his arrival begging him to come out. I was so very ready.

He is an awesome baby. From the first night home from the hospital he started sleeping a 4-5 hour stretch through the night. Quickly that turned in to a 6-8 hour stretch. Shortly after I returned to work though that 6-8 hour stretch went back to a 4-5 hour stretch... and stayed there. I long for those 8 hour stretches, but I'll take the 4-5 hours when I get them. Sleep is an awesome thing.

Carter rolled over for the first time on Saturday, October 15, 2011. Only Cory saw him. We knew he was close. He was teasing us all afternoon. I left the room to get things ready in the kitchen. Cory yelled for me to come quick, but by the time I got there Carter rolled from his back, to his side, to his belly. Cory saw it. I missed it. It hasn't happened since. Maybe I'll get to see his first crawl, or first step. I'm just happy that Cory got to see the first roll over happen.

Carter smiles and babbles a lot. He is a happy baby. He loves Mariah and Ethan. He loves to burry his head in to our chests as we hold him. Ethan used to do this too. Snugglers. Both of my boys are snugglers.


We have three furbabies. One giant, one medium, and one small. Yes, this makes for a crazy household at times... but we wouldn't know life any other way.

Mongo is our English Mastiff = Giant

Rex is our Yellow Lab = Medium

Oscar is our Pug/Pekingese = Small