Friday, February 27, 2009


I'm thinking about that whole "Love your neighbor as yourself" thing. The premise is the idea that most people will be sure to take care of their own needs, and need more help in putting the same or more effort into caring for and understanding others. The individual generally knows exactly what one's own needs, wants, and motivations entail. And that is where the trouble starts. I do not always like me or my needs, wants, or motivations. I really do not like the me who responds to my offspring by yelling, drops consequences on my kids that sometimes are more severe than warranted, or who jumps on the mister's case when what I really want to do is teach and train the kids while loving and supporting both them and their Daddy.
Know what? When I treat one or some of these nearest neighbors badly, I don't like me at all. This is not an all the time scenario. While occasional bad behavior or a less-than-stellar attitude does not define me, any more than the provocation defined the person to whom I responded, it can still bring on the unpleasantness and cause our household to squirm with feelings of discomfort and unrest.
Lately I have bounced from one craptacular moment to the next without time to stop and catch my breath much less regain the equilibrium traditionally defined as sanity. Today, I am forced by the physical responses to stress to do less. Stress = pain in this body. Which reminds me that this body is temporary. It is mine to use in loving others. Not in satisfying myself. It is also my responsibility to take care of it and of the soul, heart, and mind that govern it. Because in loving myself enough to take care of me, I am both honoring Christ and being equipped to love others. Not always an easy lesson to learn or to implement.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I hang out with a group of Mommies my own age. Most of whom have toddlers or sweet infants, and I do adore their little ones. Pregnancy always strikes me because the wonder of a new person who has all their avenues still open is jaw-dropping. Eventually, the life of each person is mapped out beginning with the very first question of gender stretching forward into the future of family, education, relationships with friends and those who will be more, occupations and preoccupations... the choices and decisions that will narrow into the road that an individual travels. All this in such a small, precious, needy package.
Not that I fail to recall the constant barrage of needs to be met. The discovery of what "tired" really meant. Baby bird open mouths waiting hungrily for a spoonful of goopy food which would promptly be pushed back out because that whole eating thing was still enigmatic. The calls for "duice" or "miwk", sippy cups, and the occasional lack thereof with the resultant messes. The travails of potty training complete with mental images of my grown daughter headed down the aisle to her future groom in a pull-up. The constant accompaniment of the "Mom", "Mom" chorus throughout each day sung by my trio. Many memories flash through my mind in a flipbook of single moment snapshots. So demanding. So tiring. How wonderful. How deeply precious.
A wise Mom suggested that I tuck baby pictures into the window of my key chain or wallet that faces out--- a visual reminder of the babies who I held close to my heart in their earliest days while I struggle with the ultimate necessity of letting go. They are not leaving home anytime soon, but they are already moving further and further away. They sometimes duck out of hugs. And they venture out into the wide world in explorations of independence with mixed results. We give a bit of freedom, and if they successfully manage it, we give them a bit more. If they blow it, we reign them in until they seem ready to try again. We're not pushing them out of the nest, but we are watching them spread their wings in anticipation of eventual flight.


The Boy and I had a bonding thing yesterday over a haircut. Crazy. The last thing one would expect, but there it was anyway. He talked to me for a good half hour. He told some genuinely awful jokes, but he was still talking. It can also be reported that he thinks the B-52's are just plain weird. (Well, yeah. That's part of their charm.) We hit a local bookstore after the salon where Mom earned big points for knowing exactly where the Boy's favorite books were located when even he (Teen Knower of All Things) wold have otherwise had to look up the location of the sought-after title. He buried his nose in a book for the trip home, but there will be a few days of savoring of this all-too-rare connection with him.
What goes up must come down. Hopefully,there will be a residual bounce in this case. Last night I went to pick up Evan after youth group to discover that Middle Child's small group leader was engaged with him in an all-too-familiar manner. Over and over I find myself locked on an expected and reasonable response to some transgression or socially awkward situation only to be met with a stone wall that is intent only on forcing me to see his point of view which has a total lack of concern for others. This makes me crazy. Every mommy I know deals with this in their toddlers and preschool kids, but by kindergarten the general rules of society seem to be functioning. "Say you are sorry..." is eventually replaced by an expectation of recognition of wrong-doing and hopefully contrition or at least acceptance of responsibility. Reason has wings in our home, and it flies right out the window at the most inconvenient times.
I interjected myself into this discussion to determine what was wrong. The group leader turned out to be a concerned mother. The Boy threw a chair at her kid last week. She found this behavior to be unacceptable--- well, yes. She was seeking some sign that the Boy saw his action as wrong, and she was determined to get that response. The Boy saw her as being on the attack. Oh, I know that cycle so well. I engage in it far too often. So I disengaged the Boy, made the necessary statements to him about "personal responsibility", "injuring others", and "inappropriate responses" before instructing my offspring to go get a drink of water and wait outside the gym.
I turned to the other mother wanting to scream with frustration because this woman was treating my child like he should know better. Because we have taught him better,but she fails (as I do) to understand the skewed perspective of the Boy. I have already discovered that he felt cornered by a herd of teen boys who were pelting him with balls because he threw a ball at a boy who was "already out". And because he felt cornered, he responded in an absolutely not okay manner by throwing a chair at Other Mother's child hitting the boy in the back. From Other Mother's end, there is a big difference between the slight sting of a ball that is designed to give on contact, and a chair. Yes. There is.
Today I went to ask the question, "Where were the adults?" and "How did this happen?" And the more important, "Can I send my child here with any measure of security that there will be supervision sufficient to prevent the triggering of that primal Fight or Flight response?"
Which is not to say that Evan has escaped this scenario without consequences at home. Or that the other kids and at least one Mom won't see or treat him differently from the other kids forever more. The good news is that our middle school pastor has some good ideas for how help reinforce consequences and expectations for Evan in the church setting that are in line with what we are trying to do at home. The amazing thing is that the Boy for the first time expressed remorse for his behavior and the other boy's injury. Small steps, painfully small steps, but progression at least.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Calendar Girl

Whoops. In the midst of the teen's and tween's issues (which have been wrapped up as neatly as a sitcom ending for the moment), my calendar went AWOL. This is not an uh-oh of epic proportions, but it is pretty big badness. The Mama's role in our household is generally a managerial position. It's a challenge to manage five people and the assorted furballs while flying absolutely blind. Hopefully, we did not actually miss anything, stand anyone up, or keep anyone waiting as a result of the missing date book.
Anywho. The missing calendar created a debate as to whether the middle school kiddies who made the honor roll would be honored Tuesday or Thursday. I thought it was supposed to be Thursday night, but we turned up one of the kids' parent letters that said it was last night. Despite our excitement over the kids' success, the mister and I find any sort of school event to be a trial. (Neither of us found school appealing when we had to go there. Somehow it never occurred to either of us that if we produced offspring they would need an education. Poor planning on our part!) So our kids get all hyped up courtesy of school announcements, e-mails, and other methods of infusing school spirit into unwitting youth every time there is some school event, only to find that their parents less than jazzed about the prospect of entering the hallowed halls of education.
Last night we attained a new level of Bad Parent. We attempted to bribe the teen and the tween to miss their Honor Roll Ceremonies with a dinner out to celebrate privately. There was some surprise that Middle Child accepted since she absolutely loves anything that reeks of school, accomplishment, praise, peers, or parental fear--- and the ceremony promised all of the above. The Boy was thrilled because he only attends those sorts of ceremonies to humor adults. We went out to dinner, but were back home early enough to feel relaxed with the evening stretching out in all its glorious nothingness before us.
Until Middle Child turned on the water works. Both parents fuming over her acceptance and ingestion of our bribe only to welsh on the deal, we headed off to the middle school. Evan immediately found his place in the ranks (where we could not possibly reach him without a scene). Moments later, Katie returned from the search for her own seat to report that sixth grade was being honored in an entirely separate ceremony on Thursday. *sigh*

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh, come on.

I want to go into hiding. Just for a day or two. A sabbatical in search of my groove perhaps? The heart-shaped box of chocolates is emptied so I can no longer feed my emotions, while therapeutic exercise, laughter, and writing rants are just not quite making with the happy. Case in point: yesterday I walked five miles, and today 4.5 so far. (Not meandering, but with some serious go-go. This adds to my theory that endorphins are mythic.) I married for funny, but even Mr. Chuckles making with the ha-ha's has yet to bring about the uplifted countenance that means Mama (and therefore everyone else) is cheery again. As for the ranting, the posts of yore speak for themselves.
Instead of the proposed flight, this afternoon will see the continued enforcement of unwelcome, but necessary consequences for the teen and the tween. While Little Bit enjoys her dance class, the tween and I will be having a needed chat about how much it is appreciated that she trusts Mom and Dad with the details of her life and relationships. And that we have responsibility to protect her from unsafe situations (Yes, there was more than what was published.) even if her friends are not subject to the same rules and expectations. Because we love her too much to be the popular, fun parents. This sort of conversation usually goes well with her. At the same time, the teen will be forfeiting his after school activities because he opted out on some school work and chose not to accept responsibility or be fully honest.

Today I am tired. But I am still a parent despite the strong urge to stop answering the "Mom, Mom" chorus temporarily. I have to go write "I will not frustrate my children." a hundred times now.

Monday, February 23, 2009

To Scale

Alrighty, then. Middle child seems to have her attitude adjusted. It seems unlikely that she would go from diva to divine in less than 36 hours. Except that she is generally a sweet girl. Who happens to be soaking in a hormone bath. I figure this is just the warm-up for the trauma and drama that will likely accompany this age with our youngest daughter. The Middle Child is the reasonable one. Uh-oh.
Something will have to happen to give our darlings a better view of the advantages they enjoy. Because the constant barrage they receive outside our home (and from the assorted media we welcome into it) tells them constantly how much they are missing, need, or should want. Yet there is comparatively less that reminds them of how very blessed they are to have boundaries, parents who adore them, reasonable, but high, expectations to reach for, and the assorted niceties of food, clothing shelter, medical, dental, and vision care. And they actually recognize this in general.
They know where the food pantry is located, but they do not know anyone who relies on it. They have heard of the local homeless shelter, but no one they know sleeps there. They have heard of people losing jobs, but they do not live with the reality of unemployment or underemployment. (Nor do they really remember the periods of unemployment that shook up our household in 1996 and 2001.) They hear some of the nightly news, but we still exercise a measure of protection over them. They are not without care for others, but I am uncertain whether or not we are actively teaching them how precious others are--- that "I", "we", and "they" are not the center of the universe.
Which is the real reason for my ire when one of my precious children acts like a spoiled brat despite the desire to provide them with every advantage and opportunity.


We live quietly amongst the Suburban yuppie hordes. Which means our children enjoy the benefits of good schools with plenty of parent involvement--- both in terms of parental time and money. Our neighborhood is relatively safe because affluence buys both security systems and drive-by security guards--- not to mention some snazzy leisure spots for everything from swimming to tennis. And we live in a nice, normal neighborhood built smack-dab in the midst of this multiple golf course, country club affluence. Our neighborhood (which is perfectly nice) is considered by some of our neighbors to be a bit of a blight on an otherwise well-manicured landscape. I not-so-secretly find this amusing, because my own tendency is toward a bit of reverse snobbery.
Middle child is not handling this very well. She compares us to her friends' families, and we are lacking. Thus far, we are specifically lacking a maid, manicurist, daily restaurant meals, lawn service, backyard swimming pool, dvd player in the car, separate bedrooms for each child, an excess of privately funded fine arts, civic, and sports activities for each child to develop their well-roundedness (It's a word now.), rainbows, ponies, fairies, and unicorns. And I am not, nor have I ever been (or even wished to be) a bikini model. The only car I will be draped across is one that runs me down while I am out walking the mean Suburban streets to maintain my child-bearing, chocolate-eating figure instead of working out at the gym in an outfit that matches my over-priced shoes and professionally painted nails under the careful instruction of a personal trainer named Trevor. Oh, and we say "no" to our kids.
Middle child's concerns have earned her the opportunity to spend a little extra time in her inadequate home environment over the next week without the benefit of certain modern conveniences. The ungrateful little princess is caught up in something of a Cinderella Complex, but I feel fairly certain that we can help her to overcome her circumstances even without a fairy godmother.

i heart faces wk 7

This week at i heart faces the theme is "black and white". The site has added several new features from a beginner's category to a weekly photo help commentary. I offer the Boy working a puzzle on a wet Memorial Day weekend. The puzzle was eventually undone by his youngest sister, and there was a chase scene that followed. There were no photos of the later havoc.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Last night our house was the setting for the Middle School Mixer 80's themed dance preparations for Katie and her best friends. Having quashed their initial misguided plans for afros and bell bottoms by displaying a series of photos posted on Facebook that highlighted authentic 80's looks on friends (who were much cooler than I could have hoped to be during that particular decade), the girls expected me to provide alternatives to their original plans. The girls expressed disbelief over the hair styles because they have no existing memory of "big" hair or "tall" bangs outside of dance recitals and Halloween. The evening's preparations included a special trip to the store for banana clips and Rave hairspray which were eventually put aside in favor of less disturbing hairdos.
The girls' outfits were absolutely vintage. A dear friend was dusty, but laughing, as she unearthed a series of her college and high school vests, tops, giant belts, bangle bracelets, and other miscellaneous treasures for the girls to try on while putting together the ultimate 80's ensembles. Her treasures have a far cooler international flair that my own long-gone suburban duds from the same time period would have lacked. Ruching, leg warmers, marled yarn, giant buttons, rubber bracelets, fingerless gloves... oh my.
The girls had a ball at their dance, and they were extremely pleased with themselves for showing up in a muted monochromatic palette and having brushed out their terrifyingly big hair before leaving the house. (How many of us wish we had done the same back in the day?!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Talk Show

Middle Child asked to go home with a friend after school. I would love to be a fly on the wall at that house. The mom was a bikini model, and now she doesn't have to cook. (I have never quite figured out what one had to do with the other.) Apparently they will be doing science experiments to determine whether or not ice cream can be lit on fire. My house will never, never be that cool. (Because I prefer to eat the ice cream which eliminates both the bikini and the opportunity to commit frozen treat sacrilege.) Anywho. Middle child stayed until time for her sister to be at choir. And then she was busy doing the stuff normally done after school.
At ninish, the child sauntered into the master bedroom where I was tucked up in bed with a heart-shaped box of chocolates watching the fictions of reality t.v. play out on the small screen. She informs me that the amongst the girlies coming for tonight's 80's Dance Sleepover there are those who don't really like pizza and one with an allergy to wheat. Which would be fine if I had not already been to the grocery store to stock up on Middle Child's favorites from pizza to cheez-its to frozen waffles for her sleepover. All of which contain what? Yes, Gentle Mommies, "wheat" is the correct answer to today's rhetorical question. I glare through narrowed eyes at Middle Child before informing her that I will deal with this tomorrow. (Besides, if she doesn't leave soon, my chocolates might start to get squishy because I stuck 'em under the covers upon her entrance to avoid sharing.) I watch her clear the doorframe before slipping my chocolates back out.
No sooner do I clear the "What do I feed the girls!?" question out of my head to allow the reentry of mindless t.v. chatter, and she's back. (I think she saw the chocolates as I shoved them back under the blanket a bit too slowly.) This time she wants to come up with 80's themed outfits. I point out that I was totally available for this discussion after school when she was hanging out with the bikini-clad, ice-cream-burning Mommie. There is a back-and-forth that does not bear repeating. I finally tell her that I will pick up oversized t-shirts and shoulder pads for her and her friends today. They will have to come up with their own flats, wide belts, and skinny jeans. Mistakenly thinking the topic has been put to rest, I return my attention to the last two minutes of trash t.v. with no clue what is going on anymore. Kate continues to talk at me in the horrifying valley-girl accent that she has picked up since starting middle school. She punctuates her sentences with "like," and "uh,"--- and the mister finally intervenes to send her off to bed. (So I can hide the chocolates back in the closet instead of in our bed.) And turn off the t.v. so we can go to sleep and have nightmares about valley girls.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Happy Birthday to me a few days after the fact. Don took Middle Child out last week to shop for my gift. She considered the wonders of the Burt's Bees line, but she had something else in mind to mark Mama's 35th birthday. Miss Katie headed for the toy department rather than risk giving Mama a gift that could possibly say, "maturing skin". She was prepared to spend her hard-earned baby-sitting money on an almost original sock monkey which was just a tad out of her price range. The two of them eventually returned home with a carefully selected gift that stayed within her budget, but left Mama's feet feted.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Warning: rant coming. I pinched a few pennies (well, make that quarters) and bought a less expensive laundry detergent. Apparently the price difference was in the fragrance. My clean laundry smells like--- kid you not--- grapes. Actually, not even grapes (which really have very little scent), but grape scent. Like a lollipop or grape bubble gum. Bleah. Color me unimpressed. The stinky scent has resulted in a wrestling match between my "waste not, want not" mentality and the growing desire to pour the entirely offensive detergent down the drain. So, for the moment, I have settled by using it on the kids' laundry and being very, very glad that it was not a big bottle.
Okay, enquiring minds want to know, and "Wow! Is my face red..." after reading the horror-show name of this stuff. Ready? Okay. The badness is, "all small & mighty... with the essence of blue sparkle with Cuddle-up Fresh scent Snuggle". The disturbing inability to decide when to use capitalization is courtesy of the All label. Had I read the label, anything that has "blue sparkle" scent would have failed to make it into my shopping bag.


Crazy. Some leading analyst or other is actually suggesting that the downturn in the economy could lead to a permanent decrease in the standard of living for many Americans. To this, I say, "Y'think?!" For years, the increasingly bloated balloon of consumer debt has covered over more and more of what were once sunny economic skies. Once the monstrous consumer debt resolves through defaults and repayments, there will hopefully emerge a saner, less extravagant economy that can be sustained. Maybe. But first, I predict, there will be a continuation of loss and the accompanying shadow of fear. People are unlikely to re-inflate a sagging economy with spending while forced to consider the grim possibilities of disappearing provision for income, medical care, possessions... whatever is at the heart of one's security.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Not big on small measures, Miss Lori and I went from sitting around on our bums for the past couple of months to walking three miles every morning. Wondering about our speed, we have been keeping an eye on the clock. 45 minutes for three miles. Yay, us! Someone mentioned to Lori that there is a local team training for marathon walking. Hmmm... Let's not put the cart before the horse here, but such wild ideas will give us reason to keep on trekkin'. Right now we are just working toward putting our best collective foot forward toward taking 10,000 steps per day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

i heart faces wk 6

This week's theme on i heart faces is "Wonder".

These are our friends' daughters on the occasion of Daughter #3's birth. The photo was the first one that came to mind when I thought of this week's theme.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I've had orphans on the brain of late. And I am not too sure where those thoughts will eventually lead, but I am not alone. A couple of nights ago, Erin headed down this road less travelled. She was full of questions about orphans and orphanages. She has several friends who are adopted, and some were only brought into their forever families after years of waiting. Erin asked about what happens to teenagers who live in orphanages. Rather than blow her little mind with the horrors of aging out, I simply said that kids of an adult age are no longer able to live in the orphanage. She pressed on wanting to know what education was given so the kids who mysteriously "aged out" could get good jobs. There was sheer outrage that the hypothetical teen orphans were not given any money, either.

Since the missy was so curious, I asked if she might be interested in our family perhaps helping out with orphans or maybe serving short-term in an orphanage together at some point. She was intrigued with the idea of working in an orphanage and caring for the kids. Her response was, "If we work at the orphanage, do we get to take one home?" Oh. No, baby. People who do not yet have a home of their own are not party favors. And international adoption is a long process that is very expensive. She asked just how much was meant by, "expensive". Not one to dodge an earnest question (and not wanting her to ask any of our friends how much their kids "cost"), I responded with the rough estimate of thirty to fifty thousand dollars. Which was met with a heart-wrenching, heart-broken wail followed by my daughter sobbing.

Because she will never be able to earn enough money to "buy her teenager baby". This eight-year old child has saved $22. She gives a percentage to our church. Knowing how much of her money is left, she asked if I would put her $19.80 into her savings account toward her teenager. I have no idea where all of this came from, but I confess to being both perplexed and intrigued. And floored by my daughter's heart.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Okay, I was already intrigued with this interview thing, but after being called (jokingly) an "international woman of mystery" by Green Girl, I am so in... and away we go...
Here are the "rules:"
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

1. What childhood personality trait did you outgrow or give up since becoming an adult? Was there a reason for doing so? I have given up my independence. I am utterly reliant on God. My husband runs a close second. On the days when I feel rebellious and want that independence back, there is usually a little some somethin' or other to remind me of just how I am blessed. Sometimes it takes more than a day because I did not give up my stubborn streak.

2. Describe 3 daily rituals that you never miss taking part in. Huh. I don't think I have three daily rituals. Which is odd considering my general antipathy toward spontaneity. I drink coffee every morning, does that count? I have weekly rituals. Let's go with that, okay? Okay. Every Tuesday Heidi and I have coffee, laugh at her girls' antics, and hide from the Jehovah's Witnesses (except when we are eating their way awesome cookies). Every Thursday (except when it's another day), the mister and I have a lunch date (unless we go for breakfast). Oooh, there is a new thing I do every day--- every weekday morning Lori and I walk three miles (or less). It occurs to me that despite the generally scheduled order of our days, there is a distinct lack of sameness that suits me well. Within the comfortable confines of routine lurk all sorts of little adventures.

3. Have you become the person you thought you'd grow up to become? What part of adulthood is markedly different from what you believed when you were young? I have no resemblance whatsoever to my childhood imaginings of "When I am a grown-up...". I am a Christian. My children are not clones, I know exactly what "10 centimeters" feels like, and not one of the darlings has red hair. I have never held any type of corporate job, and I have no degree. I am married. My children do not have a nanny, and our household is run by me rather than the paid staff imagined in my carefree, idealistic youth. There is an incredible sense of pride in providing a good meal, clean clothing, and warm home for my husband and children. I never saw myself with special needs children. (I still forget on occasion.) The idea of chronic illness and periodic near-fatal illnesses never figured into my life plans. I am content.

4. Given no limitations, what would be your ultimate vacation? Oooh, ooooh! I know this one! That "no limitations" thing really grabs me, too. I would simply travel the whole world taking the time to be immersed in the cultures of everywhere and anywhere. This permanent vacation would involve a lifetime of globe trotting and soaking in all the variety on this planet.

5. Write your first sentence/paragraph for NPR's "This I believe." Scrap NPR, I just have Third Day's song of this title running through my head. That's all we're gettin' today. Because the siren song of the dryer buzzer calls.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I headed to a friend's house for our standing weekly morning coffee. Shortly after 10:00 the Jehovah's Witnesses arrived. Friend had requested that I do something about these repeat visits. No problem. Or so I thought. The door swung open to the expected but unwelcome guests, and I was fully prepared to use some very blunt language to make it clear that they were not wanted and should stop returning. Except our JW's came with an unexpected arsenal. I saw the goody basket, and all resolve not only melted--- it flat-out fled.
Rather than telling the JW's to move it on along, I watched Friend's preschool daughters take off with the basket of doom. Friend and I stood feeling helpless as the JW's read us a single line of scripture before saying how they knew this to be "our special time" and then leaving. They know my car. They know our schedules. We closed the door behind the pair with an air of resignation and thoughts of, "Oh, ___fill-in-the-blank___."
Walking into the living room Friend pointed out that I was all sorts of going to take care of this. They had a gift basket. A gift basket! Who can be firm in the face of tea and coffee assortments, handicrafts, and cookies in an attractive presentation container?! We took the basket of doom away from the pre-K crew. The feeling of helplessness only worsened as we examined the wonders contained within as we sat at the kitchen table sipping our coffee and eating the world's best-ever gourmet chocolate chip cookies (clearly homemade). While wondering if the cookies had some sort of special JW conversion spices within, we made sure to polish off the every crumb.
We are sunk. But maybe they will bring us more cookies next week.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Carpe Diem

This morning a bloggy friend (who happens to be local) asked for accountability in getting back into an exercise routine and lamented a period of depression. Her post in many ways mirrored my own recent thoughts. So I suggested we either partake in coffee or a walk. Within hours, we were trekking around a three mile course with my coffee in a to go cup. As we walked, we talked about the sorts of things which one would never post in the polite bloggy world--- or even the mildly irreverent one which we both inhabit.
Along the way we passed my kids' elementary and middle schools. As we trucked on by the middle school track, a certain far-off form caught my maternal eye. Walker and I head off our planned path to stand at the side of the school track. (Middle Child would have absolutely died, and we would never have pulled such an act with her.) We stood by the track with a jogging stroller, and me wishing for pom poms. We called out to The Boy and his friend, and we cheered them as they continued around the track. The boys thought that was just the greatest thing ever. We called after their retreating forms to be sure to practice for the next upcoming Special Olympics event on the 20th before walking away laughing about the unexpected break in our walk.
Thinking about the odd little adventures that come when one seizes on an opportunity whenever such things happen to present, I decided to take Middle Child out to "our" spot en route to the grocery store. Of course, she was in a rotten mood after school and picking arguments with her brother. The singularly unlovable behaviors guaranteed the girly needed some extra attention just when her actions and words made her less-than-appealing. She climbed in the car to go to the market in a semi-pout. On hearing I was thinking of going to La Madeleine, the surly tween was replaced by a radiant daughter. (Score.) We shared a dessert, caught up on points of interest, and determined that bell bottoms and afros have no place at an 80's dance.


Awesome. We are deadbeats. A final notice prior to placement of our account with the financial bogeyman has arrived. Despite every effort to communicate an error on the part of our medical insurance company, the billing service for my infusions has determined that our account is far enough past due to warrant it's sale to a collection agency as of February 20th. The real fun is that the account is only showing 10% of the originally billed amount due. A computer glitch with the insurer never quite accounted for the monthly payments made on my infusions in our total out-of-pocket. So the insurance company continued to pay the claims at 90% according to our contract despite our having satisfied our full financial responsibility by August, 2008. Which means that providers kept 10% of our billed balances on their books while our accounts aged beyond the reasonable period for receipt of payment.
Two weeks ago, we were contacted by the latest in a long line of account reps and supervisors from the insurance company claiming to be able "fix" this teensy glitch. This gentleman assured me that we would not face any consequences from accounts aging to collections or denial of services due to unpaid balances on the part of Evil Insurer. Should such action be threatened, I was to call him right away. And I have called. Twice. In the last two weeks. With no response whatsoever despite Michael S.'s voicemail assuring me that he will respond within 48 hours. My original thought was to wait until April when we would reach the first anniversary of my requests that the insurance company correct their error to contact a lawyer. Yet, it begins to appear our final recourse may be on an accelerated schedule. In the meantime, we have to decide whether to begin paying the outstanding balances or allow those balances to become blots on our credit rating.
Follow-up: Still no word from Michael S., but ran across a friend's post regarding his nephew's extraordinary needs.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Night before last found a longtime friend and I walking the short distance from her home to our nearest high school. As we walked, we each mentioned how very odd our destination felt. Too soon, our eldest children are slated to enter their freshmen years in the coming Fall. Stating the obvious, we commented on how it was quite impossible for us to have children old enough to enter high school. Or not so much.
Her child is in our local gifted program and will have already completed sophomore level courses before ever making the leap from middle school to high school. My child will need some technical training as well as college preparatory classes to give him increased odds of being able to support himself without closing the door to a possible college degree. Both of our soon-to-be high school students are highly intelligent, but only one of them is highly motivated and socially savvy. We sat through an hour-long meeting that satisfied neither her questions nor my own because we fall on opposite ends of a broad spectrum of student needs.
Equipped with information from the meeting and found on-line, last night I waded into the murky waters of high school registration and course selection with the Boy. It went somewhat better than expected. There is a fundamental lack of understanding on his part that feels remarkably similar to pounding one's head against a solid brick wall. Grade points? Class rank? Required courses? Prerequisites? There is no interest whatsoever in the more challenging pre-AP or AP classes that might result in college credit hours eventually being accepted to accelerate any progress toward a degree. He is interested in the technology courses that are offered, but he will have limited access to those while fulfilling the course requirements for graduation. At least we have another month to wrangle with these new ideas before final course selections must be made.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Ugh. Today was an infusion day. Like December, we waited an extra week to run the infusion. In December the wait was due to a combination of holidays and the need to push back the January date since we would be changing insurance with the advent of New Job. Then the actual insurance change occurred, but we needed to wait for approval from the insurance company for the treatment the M.D. prescribes. It seems ridiculous that insurance companies have the power to determine treatment over a doctor's orders unless one wishes to pay entirely out of pocket. (Grrr.) The insurance company needed an extra week to make their determination. Then it was necessary to wait for a spot in the nurse's schedule long enough for her to run the i.v. which saw us at the end of the first week in February having entirely skipped January.
At least the infusion is done for the next four weeks. And this one was not bad. I slept through the thing except for taking vital signs every half an hour and a sweet friend stopping by to drop off a card, book, and magazine as incentives to rest today. Those moments of lucidity were brief, and once the i.v. was stopped I just crawled into bed to sleep away the afternoon and the Benadryl. This evening finds me crazy tired, and generally whiny because I am tired. This will hopefully pass in the next couple of days along with the unwelcome nausea and headaches that so often accompany the IVIG. (The squeamish should stop reading here.) Especially the tummy troubles because the mister kindly brought me home pistachio muffins this morning (They're like crack. Seriously.), but they are way less enticing the second time around.That solves one particular danger to my waistline because the very thought of those muffins makes me gag.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Katie reports that there seems to be more room in her mouth. Not a huge surprise considering the vast quantities of metal removed today. This milestone calls for "Before" and "After" pictures.


Considering the dire news of our economy's downward spiral, one would think no one was spending a dime. Here to say, "Not true!" Wish it was true, but not spending has failed to work out around here. This morning is a prime example of our inability to embrace a financial plan characterized by hording.
The mister's car was due for it's state inspection and registration. The gas-guzzling Behemoth mom-mobile was due for inspection next month and definitely needed two new tires. We bit the proverbial bullet by having the tires replaced and threw in an oil change for good measure. Ouch. Then we leave the mister's car behind after picking up the Behemoth for an oil change and the necessary inspection. At least we can consider ourselves good stewards.
Back at the ranch, a much-anticipated orthodontist appointment looms. Katie is due to have her Phase I orthodontia removed. (The expenses associated with fixing the teeth of one's offspring have become so great, that multiple phases have to be employed to keep from breaking the Bank of Mom & Dad.) As the time finally arrived to go withdraw the daughter from school and deposit her at the ortho office, the auto shop phoned to share the news that the mister's front tires will cause the car to fail inspection. Eeesh. I was in a hurry, but the time was made to haggle over the price of the tires.
Sliding out the door and into the Behemoth, it's a race to get Middle Child to her appointment. Where we talk about the wonders to come of Phase II orthodontia, and I make an appointment to bring in the Boy to start working on his teeth in between his sisters' treatment plans. The pocket book spasms throughout the conversations only to go into its death throes a short time later when the mister and I ran to pick up our second newly shod vehicle of the day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

i heart faces wk 4

For week 4, photography blog i heart faces features the theme, "The eyes have it".