Insurance Woes

January 31, 2007

Okay, get this:  regarding some particular medical issues:  our Medical Plan (not unlike the Girl Scouts, insurance requires CAPitalization at times) might pay for some of the testing to achieve diagnosis, but they need to have a diagnosis first.  Um…what?  Pray for me as I fight “The MAN” and quite possibly “The WOMAN” today.  Yeah, I have unlimited hours to be on the phone, negotiate impenetrable phone trees and speak with people (often overseas where the connection is so bad that we can barely even hear one another) who give varying answers and ultimately make no commitment to pay a ding-dang thing.

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AHHHHHHHHH!

January 30, 2007

Stressed beyond measure by the sheer amount of stuff that must be done in the shortness that is this day. I feel like my head might blow right off the top of my neck.

And a small question: why does packaging for everything from children’s underwear to orange juice to a PACK OF HEADBANDS FOR MY DAUGHTER need to be so freakishly difficult to open? You’re telling me that Goody needs to use serrated plastic knotted three times to keep a pile of headbands together? Really? Do people tend to steal them one at a time?

Book Reviews with Beth

January 27, 2007

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have a voracious love for reading. And I love to find unexpected books, ones I would never pick up without a recommendation or a book club encouraging me to discover something new.

To-wit: I don’t usually read “thrillers,” usually out of a concern that they’ll be too gritty, too violent. Plus, I can often see through at least three steps ahead in a typical thriller (“Yeah, we know she’s not going to end up being his sister, but his daughter.” or “Obviously, he changed identities and used to be Bill.”), and I don’t find such precognition all that thrilling. It’s not that I’m all that smart, but I sometimes seem to have a sense of what’s coming next in a book. So when I find a good thriller, one that keeps me reading into the wee hours of the morning, one where I’m tempted to utter, “Sh__! I didn’t see that coming, one that makes me gasp in the final pages — I feel like I should recommend it.

I had never read anything by Harlan Coben (and I do somewhat wonder what motivates a person to name his/her child “Harlan,” but anyway). Just finished Gone for Good (upon the recommendation of Tim’s co-worker) this morning. And wow. A good, escapist, yes thrilling read. Lots of fun if you can spare a couple of hours from your day (or night, as the case may be). Briefly, Coben tells the story of a man whose brother was accused, he believes falsely, of a grisly murder of a neighborhood girl several years before. The brother has been on the run and has been believed to be dead. But…well, I’ll let you read the rest.

And the other book…anyone ever seen the children’s book by Robert Munsch, Love You Forever? It chronicles the story between a mother and son. Oddly enough, the mother always appears to be crawling around the hall outside her son’s bedroom sneaking these loving (?) peeks at him. Okay, first off, anyone who has kids knows that while gazing on the adorable visages of our sleeping children produces great joy and thankfulness, you sure as heck try to avoid waking up said children once they’re sleeping. And I question if all of this skittering around on the floor might not be a tad distracting to our kids. I picture Rob’s startled eyes as I peer up at him: “Mom, what are you DOING?” The book reaches a pinnacle of creepiness when the elderly mother actually climbs up a ladder into her adult son’s bedroom, so she can hold him in her lap. Co-dependent anyone? And is it really good for this woman to be quite this physically active, in the dark no less? I realize that I’m treading upon sacred ground here, because I’ve had people talk to me about this book in strange hushed tones like it’s something sacrosanct and untouchable. Like somehow if I’m not belly crawling across the floor of Abby’s room to sneak a glance at her, I must not truly love her forever. But, really, think about it for a moment — all of you who love your mothers dearly and whose mothers love you — do you really want to awaken to this wonderful woman who gave you life on the floor of your bedroom? Don’t you think that you might begin to question her sanity just a wee bit? Of course, the son in the book never wakes up as his mother cradles him. I don’t know — maybe she drugged him earlier in the evening with the batter of her famous fried chicken.

That’s all for now!

Medical Rant

January 25, 2007

I sit here this morning in utter and complete frustration. I feel like a ship at sea in the midst of waves so high they’re splashing over the bow and making it hard for me to hold the rudder. It’s like I can almost control this ship in this particular weather, but I can tell you now that one wave hitting wrong will capsize the whole thing…

I’m talking about making medical diagnoses. Without going into extravagant detail in an effort to protect the privacy of the people involved, I am trying to discover a diagnosis. But the thing is? Why am I the one, the only one it seems, to be trying to solve the various conundrums here? When I suggested a possible diagnosis, the doctor was all like, “Wow, I think you may be right.” This, after I called the office last week, requesting an appointment with her, and was somewhat brushed off.

So yesterday the doctor gave me some names of occupational therapists and told me to call Children’s Hospital because the waiting list can be as long as six months. Well, the woman at Children’s acted like I had some kind of social disease and informed me that the blinkin’ doctor’s office has to send a prescription for occupational therapy, that I, as the parent (and did I mention, the only one who seems to have any idea what the hell is going on here), cannot make the appointment, because I need a diagnosis from the doctor’s office.

Irony, anyone?

And no one is on our insurance plan; in fact, some of these professionals don’t even deal with insurance and operate on a fee-only basis. I might as well continue this rant and state, for the record (or at least the blog), that the insurance-medical professional tug-of-war always always always screws the patient in the end. The money is, as Tim always says, just a thing, and really the least important thing here. But still.

I’ve been dealing with voice mails and people not calling back. I’m generally running blind, hoping and praying that I’m pursuing the right avenues here. And I’m a really really good medical advocate and diagnostician. Despite my lack of any formal medical training, I have an intuitive grasp of what goes wrong in our bodies and minds and how to move toward healing. Good thing, I guess, ’cause it sure seems that such a gift is needed right now.

And I know: God is in control. He’s been guiding our steps. But is it too much to ask for a medical professional to come alongside here and help?

I am not worthy…

January 23, 2007

Tim, also known as First Cookie (or I like Andy’s Most Honorable Tagalong) has entered all the Cookie Data in a spread sheet. He’s a good, good man. Cookie Mom says a VERY PUBLIC THANK YOU to her ever-loving husband. Our troop sold over 1500 boxes. For those of you who know me: picture for a moment the size of my living room…wow, I say. Wow. Thanks to all who bought Cookies, and some of you even lied to me and said that my pressureful “You gotta buy Cookies, dammit, because I’m the Cookie Mom” tactics didn’t influence you at all, and that was very nice of you.

On a different note, a wonderful woman at church (I should probably ask her before I put her name out in a public forum!) has felt God put Abby on her heart. She wants to hang out with Abby, give Abby a sense of being someone special in the body of Christ, do crafty stuff with her. Do you know how incredibly blessed this makes me feel? My girl has had some tough days lately — but wow, God knows and God sees and God loves her more than I do (how is that even possible). I think Abby could really flourish in this kind of one-on-one relationship, and I’m not too proud to say that I’m glad of other believers coming alongside me in my parenting. Sooo cool.

Why do I still need constant reminding of His intimate knowledge and love of each of us? You would think one day I would just remember, and instead of getting all twisty-stomached, I would just say, “Yeah, God’s here. He’ll take care of this.”

Over the next 24 hours, Cookie forms come into the Cookie Mom’s house. Cookie Mom tabulates the numbers of boxes each Scout has sold, then enters this information into the all-encompassing, all-powerful T-2 form. Luckily, I received an e-mail with a special block of instructions as to how to handle the T-2. I would tell you more about this, but then I might have to kill you.

Cookie Mom’s husband (I’m trying out the title “First Cookie” for him) has promised, promised a spread sheet so that Cookie Mom is not forced into chicken scratch on legal pad. Cookie Mom anticipates a nervous week as she rounds up the numbers of boxes to determine the number of cases that must be ordered. Cases that will sit in my living room a mere few weeks from now. I’m considering getting an invisible fence to put around the Cookies and then a collar on each kid, so each receives a small shock (just a small one, really) if they pass into what will be known as Cookie Zone.

This week will be a small test of my Cookie Mettle. Here’s hoping…

A few prayer requests

January 20, 2007

Hey, no time to be eloquent, but today has brought with it some prayer needs.

  • A dear friend’s sister has found out that she has ovarian cancer. She was having surgery for what the doctor thought was a non-malignant growth on her ovary. Turns out it was cancer, which runs unfortunately rampant in their family. The doctor performed a complete hysterectomy; he thinks that the cancer is Stage 1 and that it was contained completely, but they won’t know until the results of biopsies. I don’t feel at liberty to give out her name, but I figure God knows, so please pray…for peace, His presence, His healing touch.
  • Tim’s sister, Julie, was in a three car accident this morning. She was rear-ended and the impact pushed the front of her car under the bumper of the car in front of her. She’s okay, but has had lots of serious back problems (surgeries and the like), so that’s a concern. She’s got some pain in her shoulders and I expect she’ll be sore as heck, but please pray that nothing more serious happens with her back.
  • My father is sick — some pain in his ribs and he’s coughing a lot, even coughing up a little blood. He’s going to urgent care. It sounds like pneumonia maybe? Whatever it is, please pray that he gets better quickly and that my mom doesn’t catch it.
  • Another dear friend’s father is dying of Alzheimer’s disease — the family expects him to pass away in the next few days. Please pray that God’s presence is tangible and His comfort sweet.

These are days when I eagerly await the kingdom of God…please pray that the kingdom breaks through in all these most imperfect situations. Thanks.

I come here again to give you the latest up-to-date information on my ongoing quest to not completely screw up my role as Cookie Mom for Abby’s Girl Scout Troop…

Attended a meeting last night for us Cookie Moms (they call us “Managers” — I prefer “Queen” or maybe “Czar” but whatever). Gotta love a meeting where 5 actual minutes of information manages to be disseminated in an hour. This meeting concerned “Booth Sales” — you know when you walk out of Kroger and there’s some adorable little girls set up at a card table with their Cookies and you think to yourself, “My gosh, I love me some Thin Mints and some Do-Si-Dos and that little girl down the street never came over to ask me if I wanted to order — note to self: Must.Control.Pit.Bull.” So you amble over to the table, proffer your three bucks a box and walk away a happier person with plans to scarf some trans-fat free (see — I’m always advertising, always spinning) Girl Scout Cookies.

Bet you thought that the Troop Leaders (see — I’m gettin’ good as capitalizing too) just decided one day, “Hey, let’s set up a table outside Wall Mart and see how it goes.” Ah, but you forgot about Council. Council must be aware of when and where Cookies are being thrust upon the public. And so, the meeting.

Let me make a weather guarantee: The date February 24 or 25 — one of two days that will probably contain our Booth SALE (sorry, went a little crazy on the CAPS button) — will contain blizzard-like snow, sub-zero temperatures and butt-cold-wind-chill, the rest of this warmer than usual winter notwithstanding. If you can even see us through the white-out, our little Troop will be probably be outside a local Westerville establishment holding on to our card table for dear life. For the love of all that is good and holy, come buy some Cookies.

A couple of important tips received from the Meeting: We should watch out for counterfeit money, because apparently more and more Girl Scouts are victimized every year by this scourge (who knew?). I think I’ll send Abby up to the burly, bearded guy in the plaid flannel shirt, the steel-toed boots and the prison numbers tattooed on his hand who purchased himself some of the sugar free Little Brownies: “Um, excuse me…sir? I believe that your twenty dollar bill is a fake, and as a Brownie Girl Scout, I am honor-bound to make a citizen’s arrest.” Also, we should not keep the cash box open and available with a little sign above it that says, “Steal Me.” A most serious recommendation, nay an assumption, was made that the Mom-in-Charge would have a fanny pack in which to place the money, thereby making it less likely to be stolen (because really, who wants to mess with an item with the word “fanny” in the title?)

I turned to our Troop Leader and muttered, “I don’t do fanny packs.”

She knows me by now and knows that despite my irreverence there are a few sacrosanct aspects as to who I am.

“We can keep the cash box under the table,” she assured me.

And so it continues…more updates forthcoming.

Grateful for my kids….

January 17, 2007

Because I was reflecting on the fact that I often use this blog as a forum to complain about my children and their various idiosyncrasies, I have decided to have one entry (and only one, by God) where I note the many wonderful qualities inherent in each of them. As a parent it is so easy to spend one’s entire allotted energy on the aspects of one’s children that prove frustrating or need to be “fixed.” But I think it’s also important to remember the infinite more they offer to my life and the world at large. To that end:

Abby:

I have never met anyone more verbally creative than Abby. Or maybe more creative in general. This is a girl who is currently writing a book about a girl named Emma who discovers a magic door in Alley 54 (it’s the 4th alley on Fifth Avenue, she explained). In crossing the threshold of this door, Emma stumbles into a magical world where her fourth grade teacher is actually a unicorn and there exist bad guys “thinner than a broom.” Emma’s quest is to find the white flower that will save the magical land and ensure her passage back to her real world. Obviously, Abby reads like a fiend and feeds an already an incredible imagination.

Despite Abby’s introverted personality, the girl is funny. She constantly cracks jokes and can laugh at herself as well as anyone I know. She’s extremely spiritually sensitive, loves to worship God and can often hear His voice in any given situation. She has a heart for the least, the last and the lost and it wouldn’t surprise me if she became a missionary someday. Spiritual concepts — like grace and justice and sanctification — come to her so quickly that I’m often amazed.

It may take you a while to get to know Abby, but once you do, you’ll never shut her up. Her commitment to the people she loves is total. Make friends with Abby and you have a loyal friend for life.

My best memories with Abby involve being cuddled up together in my bed, each of us reading a book. She loves nothing more than simply spending time together — she’s rarely greedy for anything “new” or “better” — she appreciates the good things she already has. Our “girl times” are some of my favorite moments in my life.

Rob:

Oh, my sweet little guy…other mothers love Rob because he is so incredibly kind to their little ones. At the age of 6, this kid already has a father’s heart. He pays attention and respects the needs of kids both his own age and younger.

He has an exuberance and humor through which he views all events in life. And he can roll with the punches — he is always my kid willing to give up his seat in the van for a sibling or willing to play the game a friend wants to play. He attracts people through his flexibility and willingness to listen.

Rob is a builder and fixer and sometimes, a taker-aparter. He always wants to know how everything works, how to take something apart and put it back together again. I often wonder how God will use this talent, but I anticipate never having to call a repair person to fix a household appliance!

He is the easiest child to correct because a stern look or word seems to break right through his heart. He wants to please and he needs lots of assurance that he is, in fact, forgiven after he makes a mistake. He is the first person in the family to say, “I love you,” out of the blue. What a gift that is. I have never seen a child light up like Rob does when his dad walks in the room. Being loved by Rob is pretty cool.

Dan:

No matter what Dan approaches in life, he has a passion and a fervor unlike anyone I’ve ever known. Be it OSU football, Pokemon or playing soccer, Dan is 110% committed. Because of this, he can learn and retain absolutely anything he chooses. He’s the kid who can tell Tim and me how many rushing touchdowns a particular player has at any given point in the season.

This passion extends to his friends. Dan loves his friends and will literally jump up and down chanting their names before a play date. And Dan makes friends fast because he’s got the kind of charisma and openness that attracts others. Dan wears not just his heart, but his entire personality, on his sleeve, and others love to be around him. Know Dan two minutes and he can call you a friend.

Dan is my cuddler (although all my kids are physically affectionate). He will snuggle up next to me and somehow fit his little body into the exact curves of my body. Despite all his big boy pretensions, Dan is in many aspects, still my baby. And I suspect that a part of him relishes this role and that it will continue. Because he and I are so unalike in many ways, we compliment each other and find each other endlessly fascinating. I can see us being close all our lives, laughing together (and watching Buckeye games, of course) well into my old age.

Thanks for indulging me…just some stuff that needed saying.

Picky Eater Revolution

January 16, 2007

One of my best friends from college days has four boys ranging in age from eleven to six. She’s a fabulous mother, full of energy and wisdom and humor. This tidbit she said to me years ago when Abby was still a baby and I was debating how to get her to sleep through the night came back to me today: “Oh well, whatever you do, you can always un-do it later.” There’s such grace in that, I think — the realization that as parents, we will screw up, and we will sometimes take shortcuts that benefit the situation at the moment, but don’t benefit our child in the long run. And the fact that we can change course, that every minuscule decision is hardly life and death, provides freedom for a perfectionist like me.

We are currently in the process of a pretty unpleasant “un-doing” in our house right now. Abby, who will be nine next month, is an extraordinarily picky eater. I’ve read lots of books, talked to lots of people, received a lot of unsolicited advice and criticism, and the bald fact remains: my daughter is picky. I can theorize a lot of reasons why she is like this — she’s sensitive (oh so sensitive!) to textures and smells and tastes and I truly don’t think many foods taste to her the way they do to me; she likes the control (and I wonder where she gets this from…really) of not eating when I want her to eat; she is slow at adapting to new experiences and new food truly makes her nervous…

I guess I’m a little defensive about her eating (and frankly, Rob’s no prize in the eating department either, but he’s slowly expanding his palate — Dan on the other hand will eat anything so long as it doesn’t talk back), because people have oh so many opinions about what I, as mother, have done to create this issue.

You should always make her clean her plate.

Don’t make it a battle, no matter what you do.

Just keep offering her the food. You know it takes 14 exposures of a new food before it’s accepted by most kids.

She’ll grow out of it.

You need to show her who’s boss.

Guess what? Not much of this is helpful when you have a picky kid. I don’t know why she doesn’t like baked potatoes. I don’t know why any ground meat makes her gag. And believe me, if all it took were 14 exposures, the kid would be eating squid in its own ink by February. On the most fundamental level, I have come to believe that parents don’t create picky eating, that this is something hard-wired into a person. I suspect that the range of food she enjoys will always be somewhat limited.

But…and it’s a significant but…I believe that I have been complicit in facilitating her picky eating, primarily by allowing her to fill up on snack-type-food. Somewhere between Tim traveling and my mom getting sick, I sort of threw in the parental towel here. So she didn’t eat the chicken and rice at dinner? Maybe later she would have some crackers. It’s tough when you have a skinny picky kid because you fear her getting too hungry or actually losing weight. As it is, she’s gained a reasonable amount each year to be on the growth charts in the lower percentiles for weight. And she’s a fairly healthy kid, though her complaints of tiredness have been part of the reason that we’ve decided to take on the challenge of helping her become somewhat less picky.

I’m wary of battling her because I fear that she could head down the eating disorder path at some point. But I’m really really trying not to make this about food per se as it is about healthy lifestyle. The new family policy is that she has to at least try (even one bite) of what she thinks she won’t like, because even though there are some foods she will probably never like (see ground meat above), there are plenty of other foods that she truly might enjoy if she can get over her anxiety about trying them. I always try to have at least one (or two if possible) thing she’ll eat at every meal, so that every bite doesn’t cause war. If she doesn’t eat what I’ve asked, I don’t make a big deal about it, but tell her that she may not have a snack later if she gets hungry.

You would not believe the hysteria at my table the last few nights! Abby wants her snacks, and has clearly relied on them waaaay too much. So I feel like I’m doing the right thing. Most of the time. But gosh, it stinks to undertake a task that you know will make your child miserable in the short term, and I feel guilty for my part in allowing the situation to get to this point. But God’s mercies are new every day for me and for her. And so we keep moving forward.