Archive for August 2009

It Started!

August 31, 2009

It happened. All of my kids are in school! My “babies” started 1st grade last week. No more preschool or kindergarten… these two are in the BIG league now. I have been looking forward to the day when all of my kids where in school, but surprisingly, I got a little sad watching them walk away. At the same time I am excited for them to embark on this new experience and I hope they have a wonderful year that includes lots of great learning and meeting new friends.

Emmaand Cooper EandCinline

The youngest (my step-daughter) started preschool two weeks ago. She is really enjoying it so far and I think it will be great for her to socialize with other kiddos her age and begin to learn the building blocks that will prepare her for kindergarten and the rest of her school career. I did take what would have been some ADORABLE pictures of her on her first day, but alas, the memory card was not in the camera. Damn.

For Alex, this was old news. She is now in the 2nd grade and really seems to enjoy her teacher and is happy to have a lot of her friends in the same class.

alex1dayschool Alex in line

It’s 4th grade for Ian, and while this year may have seemed just like any other year, this is a new school for him. Ever since we moved and he realized he would be attending a different school, he has been worried about it. BUT, he has already made a handful of friends and really likes his teacher. What a relief!

IanIan2

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Good Bye :(

August 19, 2009

I’m not ready for this thing called summer to end.

First of all, I was kind of screwed out of June. It rained most of the month, which meant it was kind of cold (relatively), and in all fairness, I think that Mother Nature should maybe throw in a bonus month. We could call it Augober.

Secondly, school starts for everyone this next Wednesday and while there ARE some benefits to this, I must admit that the summer with the kids has been fun! They’ve have had built in playmates this year (when not being enemies). And for the first time, I’ve felt OK letting the kids out in the front to ride bikes without worrying that they’ll be run over, kidnapped, or maimed in some way. This is partly due to their age and partly due to the fact that we now live in a circle.

I’m going to miss being able to sit outside with Mr. N at night enjoying the warm summer air and all of the sounds and smells that accompany it. It also sucks that our every other weekend jaunts to various corners of Utah will come to an end. Winter camping just isn’t my thing.

Lastly, during the school year, my life really isn’t my own. Some think that it’s GREAT when kids are in school. You get time to go grocery shopping without looking like a hen with 5 chicks following behind. Time to clean without it being undone in 5.3 minutes. Time to maybe shower before 3 pm. Time to get together for lunch with friends, or even read a book. That sounds good and all, but I still have a 3 year old at home whose preschool only allots me a few hours a week in which to have any child-free time. AND, I volunteer in my kids classes, so with 4 children in school this year, I think I’m going to be spread a little thin.

Guess what I’m saying is that it’s been a great summer and I’m sad it’s coming to an end. Boo hoo.

Cabins n’stuff

August 17, 2009

Before I get into the details of the weekend, I just have to say that my hubby has amazing friends, who I’m happy to say have now become mine. I’m so grateful that they’ve adopted me!

Maybe I haven’t been clear about the the weeks and weekends around the our home. There are all of 2 (rarely 3) days a month that I don’t have or see all of the kids, and only 4 (occasionally 6) nights per MONTH that we don’t have my step daughters. My point being this: when the Mr. and I have some time to ourselves, we try to take full advantage of it.

Friday night we were able to catch the movie District 9. I’m not going to get into the reasons why, but I really liked it. Entertaining and quite thought provoking.

The highlight of the weekend was being invited and going with our friends, Dave and Sarah, to their cabin located about 30 miles from Heber. It was BEAUTIFUL! There is something to be said for spending some time in the mountains with nothing but your thoughts, good friends and great company, yummy food, and our always entertaining dogs.

dogs dogs2

We arrived Saturday afternoon and proceeded to play on the Rhino, eat, talk, eat some more, and then build a fire and enjoy the stars. STARS! I have never, ever, in all of my life, seen so many stars. The weather that day had been sort of crappy, so I wasn’t sure that we would be able to see much of anything in terms of the night sky. But there was literally not a cloud to be seen. AND it was the night of the meteor shower. I didn’t seen a ton (maybe 7), but I saw the best “shooting star” that I’ve ever seen. It lasted much longer than anything I’ve seen before, and had this huge, long tail.

Speaking of sights not soon to be forgotten, the view from the back porch was amazing. I was even “lucky” enough to get to see the sun rising Sunday morning (thanks to two dogs whose bladder capacities I am entirely unimpressed with).

back deck view back deck view2

Thanks to Sarah and Dave for the wonderful weekend, and I can’t wait for our next little adventure :).

Me, 1. Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, 0.

August 11, 2009

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If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you might remember the medical issues that my daughter faced last summer (I wrote about it here, here, here, and here). She survived and all is well. But, as you can read about here, even though her medical problems resolved, my fight with the insurance company had just begun.

Here’s what I haven’t told you. The bastards lovely people at Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield not only dropped my children and ex-husband (he was the carrier of the insurance… I had a separate plan for myself), they retro-actively canceled the policy. Meaning that “it is as if the policy with Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield never existed”.

So, my kids were insurance-less. AND Regence was going to not only NOT cover any of the tens of thousands of dollars for all of Emma’s surgeries and medical care, they were also going to go back to every doctor, lab, hospital, etc that they HAD paid on my children’s behalf and get their money back.

It took approximately 50 phone calls and mountains of paperwork, but we were lucky that between Primary Children’s Hospital “forgiving” the outstanding balance as well as Medicaid stepping in cover the rest, I was only out of pocket a fraction of what was owed. Even though financially I survived, I seriously wanted justice. Revenge. BLOOD! OK, maybe not blood, but I was pissed.

I didn’t understand how an insurance company could just “dump” an entire family after we’d paid every premium. They claimed Emma’s medical history wasn’t fully or correctly disclosed when my ex applied for coverage. Regence pointed to a few specific questions on the application such as, “Has any member of the family suffered from any back, head, or neck injuries”, and “Does anyone have any deformities”. OK, this was a slightly enlarged lymph node on Emma’s neck that you couldn’t even see. I just happened to feel it one day. A pediatric ENT told us it was nothing and to not worry about it, and that’s just what we did. I would not consider this a deformity OR a neck, back or head injury. So 6 months after her first visit to the doctor in 2007 (the one where we were told the lump was within a normal range) neither my ex nor I even thought about her little lump. If a doctor tells you that you have a cold and it’s not cancer and you’ll be fine, do you remember it when you’re applying for medical coverage? Even if you remembered, would it be something you’d even note? NO! It wasn’t until 5 months after coverage began when the lymph node started growing and the problems began.

After paying thousands of dollars in insurance premiums, having my children dropped by their insurance company made me feel cheated, taken, and also incredibly helpless. How was I going to take on a multi-BILLION dollar HMO? I had already gone through their wonderful (and oh so fair) appeals process and it got me nowhere. Then again, how could I do nothing? And the bigger problem and question for me was what was I going to do now that my children had NO coverage? The thought of wrapping them in bubble wrap did cross my mind but unfortunately I thought hat might get in the way of, oh, you know, thier lives! Luckily Uncle Sam jumped in and CHIP covered the kiddies seeing as they were “uninsurable”. It’s nice when you actually see your tax dollars come back to you a little. ANYWAY…

After many tears of frustration and sleepless nights, I decided to look for a lawyer to see what, if any, options I had.

I found a lawyer (who the day before had just won a case against the same insurance company) that was willing to take our case and would only take a fee based on what, if anything, we won. I figured I had nothing to lose. If I lost, I was out nothing (except damaged pride) and if I won, SWEET! It was more of a statement that I was trying to make. I didn’t care or expect to see dime, but felt like it was my responsibility to let Regence know that I would NOT lay down and let them get away with this without a fight.

When I first sat down with the lawyers and showed them the paperwork Regence had sent explaining why they were canceling the policy, they all started to smile and laugh in that “wft” and “this is unbelievable” kind of way. Brad, one of the associate lawyers, said “Seriously, they are so dead. This is absolute crap and they know it”. I think that was his way of telling me that we had a good case.

All of this took place last summer and early fall. Fast forward to today. After months and months of back and forth negotiations, Regence has offered a settlement to which the we have agreed to. After the lawyers and Medicaid are paid, there will be a small amount of $ left over (nothing to get excited about). It will be enough to pay off all of the medical bills that I had to pay as well as the $4000+ my ex had to shell out of his own pocket for medical bills while he went without coverage for over 8 months.

Even though Regence settled and in a small way I feel like I won, I’m still disgusted that they did this and that retroactively canceling peoples policies is common place for all HMOs. It’s all about risk-analysis and $, and I find it nothing less than criminal that a company who deals with people’s health… their LIVES… is willing to take a chance and cancel a families policy to try to save a few bucks.

This settlement won’t even put a dent in Regence’s pocket and I have a feeling that they will continue to roll the dice and bet that the majority of people they “dump”  (because of some trumped up bullshit reason) will do nothing.

While I don’t have an answer for the health care crisis in America, I do know that what is happening now is NOT WORKING! HMO executives have multi-million salaries (plus rediculous other perks) while Joe Shmoe is taking in the arse. I, for one, think it’s pure evil that there are people getting disgustingly rich at the literal expense of the people they “service”.

(Stepping off of the soap box).

This is the second time in the last year and a half in which I can say the justice system has worked for me. It may be flawed but sometimes Goliath falls and David walks away victorious.

It’s Finally Over

August 8, 2009

You know those weeks that you wish you could just by-pass? Like fall asleep on Sunday night and wake up one week later? Well, this week was one of those.

We had 2 birthday parties to throw, a tennis tournament, swim camp, kids kids kids, and all of the crap in-between.

The first party was for three of the kids who all happen to be turning 7. My twins plus my step-daughter, Alex. What are the odds that 3 out of 5 kids would have a b-day within a week of each other? It’s like having triplets. SWEET! On Wednesday, we had a pretty large family party. It was a lot of work getting the yard, house, and food ready, but it went off without a hitch. Great food, great company, and it was nice to visit with the adults and watch the 10 kids who were there having a blast.

For Alex’s friend party today, we had planned this big water extravaganza. Mr. N and I even drove to St. George to get and borrow my parents big double water slide. Of course this summer has been hotter than hell except for the one weekend we need it to be warm. It’s been like 95 at 8 pm at night, but today only a high of 70? 70! By Friday we realized that we needed to come up with Plan B, and fast.

I searched the web for some easy and hopefully fun games along with pulling out some oldies but goodies from my memory bank. I had serious fears that this party might be forever known as the lamest birthday party ever. BUT, it was great! The kids loved the games as well as the crafts. It’s crazy how entertained and happy kids can be playing with pipe cleaner and beads.

I’m finally sitting down for what feels like the first time in weeks and am able to take a deep breath and relax a little. We all survived the week and in hindsight, it really was a wonderful 7 days of celebration.

$292,000!!!

August 5, 2009

As I just logged into my account, this headline caught my attention:

The Cost of Parenting: $292,000

The US government released a report Tuesday (8/4/2009) estimating the cost of raising a child from birth through high school at $292,000 when adjusted for inflation. The report from the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and […]

blah blah blah.

We’ve got 5 kids. At almost $300,000, that’s a total of 1.5 million dollars. ONE POINT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS! And that doesn’t even include college. Let’s just tack on another cool million for that.

Maybe if we start having family home evening nightly which entails making “friendship bracelets”, and we send all of the kids out nightly in ripped clothing without shoes with said bracelets along with packets of CHICK-LETS to sale, maybe, just maybe, we can raise our five children without declaring bankruptcy or me renting out my uterus to the rich.

Or maybe we can work something out with God… you know, like a payment for bringing these kids into the world? It seems only fair. I mean having a baby is pretty painful and time consuming. And costly! So if a cashiers check could be delivered along with the placenta, that’d be cool. I’m just saying.

A Touch of Random

August 4, 2009

My dog is a total wimp and will pretty much bark at any and every stranger. But once he’s seen you a few times, that empty-threat bark is replaced by a tail wag and a possible tongue bath. But sometimes he never quite gets over his “distaste” for some people and will bark no matter how many times he see’s them. Maybe he’s a psychic dog and can sense evil.

I’m seriously wondering why in the hell we planted so many pepper plants. There is one person in this house that likes peppers, and I’m thinking that NINE varieties might have been a bit overkill. And it’s harder pawning these spicy suckers off on people than it is getting rid of the delicious tomatoes.

We’re hosting two birthday parties in the span of 4 days. Am I excited? So much it makes me want to cut myself.

A clean house is sort of like a mirage… you can almost see it, taste it, envision what it is like to swim in the cool waters of it. But as you approach, it vanishes. Sometimes I wonder why I continue to do fight the battle of the clean. I can spend 5 hours of my day working up a sweat while mopping, scrubbing, wiping, vacuuming… and at the end of the day, I have very little to show for it, except a new pile of dishes, some sticky crap on the kitchen floor, and toys scattered around the house. AHHHH! Serenity now. I now know why kids are cute… survival.

Have I mentioned that I have a bum shoulder? If not, well, I do. I’m going to walk in to that Orthopedic Surgeons office and tell him I’m done with his little experimental ideas that do nothing and demand a cortisone shot. That’s right, I’m one tough MF’er!

My twins got a B-Day card WITH $ in it from Mr. N’s side of the family. But I don’t know where to send thank you notes because they didn’t use the address of anyone that sent the card… they used his mom’s address. I think they might be in the witness protection program.

An offer I submitted for a client was accepted yesterday which IS exciting. Now we just have to get the bank to sign off on the deal. I’ve worked a little here and there over the past year, but it’s been awhile since I showed homes (more than just casually), put together an offer, and did all of the other exciting things that an agent does. It feels good to be using my brain again, although I sort of forgot how much work and stress is involved.

The area over Pheobe’s eye has been infected for about a month. I’ve been playing vet on my own, and it seems like it helps for a few days, but then the pus-fest continues. I’m giving it another week before I break down and take her to the vet. She is CURSED!

Kids are more entertained by .99 dollars worth of fuzzy pipe cleaner than they are by a $20 toy.