Friday, August 31, 2007

What I've been doing

Absolutely nothing that I should be doing.

I had planned to do all this sewing but haven't done anything more than wash some fabric. Since I'm planning on sewing a number of dresses for Lorna I wanted a dress form to use to fit the clothes better. Looking at all the options I decided we would make our own using duct tape. It went well but it's been sitting for a few days waiting to be stuffed because I just can't get up enough umph to finish anything. Instead I've thrown myself into reading a few books I've read before. I guess I really just needed the escapism of a few fun fantasy novels. Now if I can just get myself back to reality, finish the dress form, and clean the bathroom we'd all be a lot better off!

Monday, August 27, 2007

More medical billing junk

This has turned from frustrating to funny.

Paul was able to get ahold of someone at the billing office who said they sent over 2 claims to the agency. Once we get a call back from them we can hopefully get everything settled there. We enquired about the bill from the X-Ray that seems not to exist. They don't have a record of it but suggested we try a different office.

Paul called and they don't have it but they do have 4 bills for other visits, 3 of which happened while we lived in CO! I think we have gotten it at least started to be worked out. It seems these 4 visits were to pediatricians and were for normal visits and immunizations. The date of birth on the claims didn't match Lorna's so it should be really easy to fix. We only see 2 specialists and have never seen pediatricians there so that should be a great indication that these aren't our claims!

It makes me wonder how come no one ever noticed the records don't match. If we hadn't known about the first claim problem we wouldn't have ever realized the accounts had been mixed up! I just hope they don't mess up the medical records like they do the billing records.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Confirmation and Communion

I read this post by Pastor Stuckwisch last week and then Susan posted an entry on her blog on the topic. I highly recommend you read them if you haven't already!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lack of patience

I find myself with less and less patience as time goes on. I literally lost it this morning while trying to get the medical billing stuff straightened out. I sat on hold for 20 minutes only to have the person I was speaking to hang up on me. I called back, prepared to wait on hold again, and got the answering machine. I left a very blunt message saying that I want to have a supervisor call me back. I really did not want to leave a message but I was told by the main operator that I have no other option. Before I was hung up on the billing person was less than helpful telling me that I needed an account number (I only have a patient number). I tried to explain that I never received a bill so I don't have an account number. That was the point at which she hung up.

This just added to my already bad mood. I've had countless headaches and migraines over the past few months. They stopped for about a week and I thought maybe things were on the mend but they returned a few days ago. Tracking them I've noticed that they pop up whenever the temperatures get around 100 degrees. That is also when the swamp cooler starts to have problems cooling the house off. This summer has had more days over 100 than last year so it's starting to wear me down.

I'm also starting to really miss attending church on a regular basis. We have a trip planned for this weekend but it is so stressful to plan for 3 meals on the road and a 7 hour round trip that I just don't think I can do this anymore. We've called 2 more churches within a 2 hour radius with no luck. One doesn't have a pastor and hasn't had one since they were organized 4 years ago and the other one hasn't returned our calls. That leaves us with the option of attending the one church we found that uses the liturgy but does not place a high value on the sacraments or law and gospel preaching. We will probably try this church a few more times before making a final decision.

I'm just unhappy and I don't know how to fix it. I pray daily that God would give me the strength to get through the day knowing that He is faithful. I want so much to be a happier person, to be able to accept the situation we have been given with a cheerful heart but I just can't seem to get there. Being so unhappy makes it difficult to have any patience.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Medical billing frustrations

I got a call from a collection agency today which surprised me. It seems the doctor's office messed up the billing information for Lorna's visit almost 6 months ago. The person who entered it put down we were a cash patient. We've never been sent a bill or had a phone call telling us there was a problem. In fact we were there not 3 weeks ago and no one mentioned they were having a problem.

I think we have everything straightened out. I called the billing department only to be put on hold and then hung up on once 4:30 hit, that is when they go home. I guess even if you call and are on hold before they close, if they can't get to you they just hang up and you have to sit on hold the next business day hoping the same thing doesn't happen.

I was frustrated to learn that they have an address and phone number on file that is almost 6 years old. It seems that there was a glitch somewhere and the correct information was sent to everyone but billing. They have been sending bills to this old address. Even more frustrating was the information that the medical coverage can deny coverage if the doctor submits the claim more than 6 months after the services. If that happens it is the patient's responsibility to pay the full amount even though you have insurance. My question was how I can protect myself from the idiocy of the billing department. The answer was that I'm supposed to call 30 days after each visit to make sure that all the claims have been submitted. So that's what I was trying to do when they hung up on me. So tomorrow I will be on the phone again trying to make sure they have submitted all the claims to the medical plan. The amount I was given today doesn't sound correct for all the services that were performed so I have a feeling there are a few more claims that need to be filed before that 180 days is up.

Just a heads up to anyone dealing with large medical groups, make sure you cover yourself!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hilarious link

This ebay listing was posted to Loopers. After reading it I wandered over to the sellers blog which had our whole family laughing hysterically. We spent over an hour reading the previous posts which made me laugh so hard I cried. I highly recommend you start with the oldest post first, you won't be sorry!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dogs and neighbors

I really don't think they mix well. We have 5 dogs, 3 large and 2 small. The smaller ones can become quite annoying at times with all their barking. We do make every effort to quiet them down when they start up. They usually don't bark more than 2-3 minutes before we get them quiet again. Because we have so many dogs everyone around here thinks that it is always our dogs that are barking no matter what direction it's coming from.

I met a new neighbor today and let me preface this by saying that he was very nice. He lives a ways up the road but because of the way the land slopes it creates a coliseum effect. The sound of our barking dogs echos right up to his house. I tried to explain that we're working with them and that they really don't bark much but he didn't believe it. The problem is that it's not just our dogs but that's what he can see so that is what he blames. I also let him know that we've had problems with people coming by and taunting our dogs getting them riled up. I can't control other people's actions and I can't blame the dogs for getting worked up. There are coyotes that live right behind the property, unleashed dogs that roam the neighborhood, and inconsiderate people. With all of that it's no wonder the dogs bark. I know for a fact that they don't bark at night because my window is open, yet the neighbor talked about how loud they are at night.

We are making an effort to keep the little dogs inside more but since it's not just our dogs I can't stop all the noise. I've made sure to check the county ordinances and we aren't in violation of any of those, they would have to bark for 15 minutes straight and a majority of the property owners would have to willing to file a written complaint. I don't want to annoy the few neighbors we have but I also love our dogs. We are going to continue working with the little ones to curb their barking and I can only hope people will notice as they quiet down even further. I do understand the frustration of the neighbors, especially this one that has been here for 20 years, at the changes we have brought with our dogs. Along with the bad changes we have made some for the better, we are cleaning up a property that has been vacant for a number of years. Since news travels fast around here I'm hoping my comments that we are working on the problem will make people realize we are trying. Of course if we could get the rest of the neighborhood to keep their dogs from roaming and the inconsiderate people from deliberately stirring them up we would all be a lot better off.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Nourishing Traditions

I've heard so much about this book that I was excited when my request at the library was finally filled (yes I'm still using the library but sparingly and never in town, we send everything for pickup at a more friendly branch).

I'm so disappointed. I keep reading this stuff and thinking who can eat like this! We just don't have any of this stuff available and even if we did it would be way out of our price range. Everything we eat is on one of the pages that says how bad this stuff is for you. We eat processed everything, white everything, and refined sugar. Even the veggies and legumes we eat are not organic and full of pesticides and thus not great.

At this point I'm ready to send the book back. Since it's not a matter of just changing some stuff but literally everything, I don't even want to try. I figure if we are gonna die because our diet is so bad we may as well live it up and enjoy those things we love. Bring on the Diet Pepsi, margaritas, and chocolate!

Activity envy

I keep reading emails that talk about how busy everyone has been this summer. They talk about all these trips they've made, visitors they've had, activities, and fairs. They say they can't wait for stuff to go back to normal. All I keep thinking is that I wish I had that problem!

We've had a very boring summer. There has been no packing or unpacking since we are not moving this year. We haven't had tons of visitors, no trips, no VBS, and the fair isn't till next month. None of our kids are involved in 4H because I can't find a local group so there are no projects to work on or finish up. So even if we go to the fair it will only be for the day so we can look at all the animals and crafts.

Excitement in our schedule is our twice monthly trip to the stables for Lorna's riding lessons. Yesterday I even got to have a conversation with a couple of nice grandparents that were there with their grandchildren. I don't get out much so yesterday's trip to the city was a real treat for all of us, it's been at least a month since the last time I got out like that. For those that are super busy this probably sounds like a wonderful thing, and it is nice to have enough free-time to read or sew, but sometimes I miss being busy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I just wanna hide

Today we spent the day out in the big city (population 330,000) with Paul as he worked. He only had a few quick things to do and I wanted to do some price shopping at the grocery store. The kids and I don't go out of our little valley very often and really don't go many other places than the post office and hardware store even when we do get out. I was honestly shocked as I watched people today.

I saw a newborn baby in a carrier with a bottle propped up in it's mouth. I just kept thinking how much the baby should be cuddled and loved as he was fed. Kids grow up so fast and to actively ignore such a little baby just broke my heart.

I saw toddlers running around unsupervised in a fast food restaurant. In and out of the bathroom and in the outside play area while their parents sat and ignored them.

I saw young girls wearing clothes that looked like they belonged on a street-walker.

I watched drivers weaving in and out of lanes not caring if there was someone in their way.

It was all enough to make me want to run home and hide!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Who's to blame?

I read an article about one family's experience with a sub-prime loan today that had me questioning if the writer really thought I would feel sorry for the family.

The further I read the more bewildered and frustrated I became. I kept wondering if these people really understand how irresponsible they sound. Then I wondered if this is what mainstream Americans are like. This is a frightening thought!

For those that don't want to bother with the article I'll sum it up... This family took out a mortgage on a $567,000 house with little or no down payment. The payments were interest only for 2 years at which time the payment would go up by almost $1000. They knew when the 2 years were up that they wouldn't be able to afford the payments but planned on refinancing using the equity gained as the price of the house climbed. It's now been almost 2 years, the house isn't worth enough to refinance and they don't know what they are going to do.

The family states that they didn't know about the large prepayment penalty and that they believed the mortgage broker who told them they would be able to refinance after 2 years. They aren't first time home buyers so they can't feign ignorance about how mortgages work. Having bought and sold a couple of homes I know that you have to sign a document on every aspect of your loan, this means they didn't bother to at least scan what they were signing.

I'm just left shaking my head. With their combined income of $90,000 why didn't they buy a less expensive house? Or couldn't they have saved money during the 2 years they were renting? There is no way their rent payment was as much as their $3200 mortgage payment! Now they are going to have to cut back on eating out (only 1-2 a month instead of weekly) and discontinue piano lessons for their teen-age daughter. I'm still sitting here trying to figure out why they are going out at all if they are having such a difficult time.

Ultimately they can only blame themselves for taking out a mortgage they knew they couldn't pay. It's too bad they don't seem to see that it isn't any one's fault but their own. It's difficult to feel sorry for either this family or the mortgage lender who lent them money knowing they wouldn't be able to afford the payments after 2 years.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Malachi came into the kitchen a few days ago and said, "Don't forget to make the gorilla."
I asked him what he said and he repeated it. I asked him what gorilla was and his response was, "You know that cereal you make for Daddy!"
My response was, "Oh, you mean granola."
He said, "That's what I just said!"

Now I laugh every time I look at the gorilla :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Preparing for the future

Loopers (the Lutheran hsing list I belong to) has been talking about preparing our kids for the future, specifically working and supporting a family. This has given me an occasion to really think about what I expect to teach our kids about the real world. The conversation has included sending your kids to college or not but also finding a career field. My question is, do you have to love what you do?

A few years ago I would have said that was something we should teach is a necessity but now I'm not so convinced. I would say that a majority of people out in the world are not working in a job that they love. Now this is all my opinion based on our experiences and the people we have met...

I think God gives us the ability to earn a living but I don't think that ability is always something we love to do. Some people have the great fortune to be able to spend a lifetime working at something they love. I just keep thinking that if everyone insisted that they only do something that they love then we wouldn't have enough food servers, grocery clerks, and garbage collectors to go around. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to find something that you like but at the same time I don't want to set our kids up with a belief that it is of the utmost importance.

I think there are many ways to find enjoyment in a job that you don't care for. The ability to provide for your family and the needs of your neighbor is one such way. Even though you don't like the actual work I think you can find pleasure in the idea that you are serving those around you. You can find fulfillment in doing your job well and being successful. I also think that sometimes your job gives you an opportunity to do those things you do love. Maybe you will be able to save up enough money to pursue that hobby that you've always wanted to try. Or your job may help you on your way to be in a position to try farming when you are older and more financially stable. In that way, the job is a means to an end. It can enable you to do things that never would have been possible otherwise.

With the increasing risks of downsizing and outsourcing I cringe at the thought of suggesting that going into a field that doesn't have a lot of options is a good idea just because you enjoy it. Sometimes we are called to make sacrifices in what we want to do in order to fulfill the vocation of providing for our family. That doesn't mean we cannot find an outlet for our passions but that in reality we probably won't be able to use those things to provide for our needs.

A couple more thoughts...
Paul and I have spent lots of time reading books and watching programs that talk about "living the good life" or finding a way to live the way you want. One of the common themes in all of these things is that you have to sacrifice in order to get there. The common element in what we have read is that these people are older and have a source of investment or income that makes it possible to do the things they want. The people have worked jobs they didn't like but those same jobs have given them the ability to perfect their goals. They didn't start out making carved wooden bird and supporting themselves on the income, they worked a boring job to provide for their family while saving to make their dreams a reality. Of course there are some people that are very lucky in that they fall into something that works both financially and makes them excited to get up in the morning, but I think the majority of people have to make the best of a less that perfect situation.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why am I doing this?

I was reading Cheryl's blog today and her comment about "Where have we been?" really got me thinking about how far we've come in our homeschooling journey.

It's amazing for me to look back at where we started and see how our lives have morphed during all of this. I started out refusing to homeschool, thinking that people who did such things were just insane. After all, you can't protect your kids from the world. It's ironic that the only reason I started looking at this possibilities was for that protection.

Lorna went to the kindergarten at the LCMS church we were attending. She was harassed by a little boy who would go around pinching the behinds of all the little girls. He would also go around hitting them "below the belt". Our daughter decided not to take it any longer and hit back. Of course she was the one who got into trouble and we were asked to pick her up. During our talk with the teachers it came out that they knew this boy was doing it but wouldn't do anything about it. We sent her back to school the next day with assurances that they would separate the two kids. A few days later I was called again to pick her up. At this point I was upset and went to talk to the two pastors whose office was adjacent to the classroom. They were sympathetic and said they would look into it. They didn't and the problems continued. This was the final straw that pushed me to realize that we couldn't continue to expose Lorna to such things, especially when she was being blamed for standing up to this child. I thought we could try this homeschooling thing for a year and see what our choices were then.

Six years later we are committed to doing this for the long haul. It only took a few weeks into that first year when we decided that this was the life for us. It was my first experience with being a SAHM too so we had some serious adjustments to make. Our first year was so structured, I really tried to recreate a classroom. I can look back and see how overboard I went, planning our life down to the minute. I had just finished up 2 years of teaching jr/sr high school age kids, so I was determined to teach my daughter to sit still and pay attention. It took awhile for me to realize that I needed to lighten up. It's a good thing I practiced on Lorna first because there is no way Malachi could have made it through that first year!

I'm still fighting with the idea that I should be out contributing to the household income. I look at the faces of family and friends who hear about Paul's second job and I feel their accusing stare. I know I'm imagining it for some and I am seeing the truth in others. Maybe someday I will be able to completely let go of society's expectations of me. This last year has been the most difficult for me in this regard. I was the odd one in our neighborhood before we left CA, no one else stayed home with their kids. When we left and moved to Indiana I found an entire community of SAHMs, that's what most people did. When we came back here I found myself back in an environment where I am asked, "So what do you do for a living?" I haven't run into one other woman who stays home, let alone homeschools. I realized this week that this is adding to my negative attitude the past few months, I feel so alone.

Thankfully I'm not alone. I'm somewhat active on a Lutheran homeschooling email list, Loopers, and I have lots of blogs to read from some of the people on that list. Now all I have to do is find a way to make it to the get-togethers that always seem to be held in the Midwest!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Start of School

We started school on Monday and I'm surprised that it is going so well. The past few weeks I'd noticed that chores were being done less thoroughly so my fear was that adding school on top of fixing the chore problem was going to be too much. It seems that this isn't the case.

Our dc aren't the type who can do schoolwork anywhere in the house. On the occasions I have allowed work to be done on the couch or in their rooms, nothing gets accomplished. They work best when they are sitting at the table with the books spread out in front of them. Lorna does much of her work on her own using the planning sheets as a guide for what needs to be done. By the end of the year I expect Malachi will be doing the same.

I think the craziness of our schedule the past few weeks has made school seem more appealing because it's a return to a more scheduled life.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Changing schedules

I don't think I ever really appreciated how our schedules determine our sense of time. Both Paul and I are having a hard time keeping up with what happened on which day. I guess that's what comes of Paul having a night job that starts at 10pm one day and ends at 7am the next morning.

It's taken 2 weeks but we are all starting to feel a bit more alive. Our eating schedule had to be adjusted to accommodate family dinners. We moved dinner to between 8 and 9 so Paul can still get some sleep. We are all eating smaller meals more often so we can make it to the family meal at night. Sleeping also seems to be coming easier for all of us. I've never seen someone be able to fall asleep as quickly as Paul does now. His head hits the pillow and he's completely gone in less than 60 seconds which is a necessity with the odd times that he is given to sleep.

Overall, we are adjusting and it looks like we will be able to cope with this. More importantly, it looks like Paul will be able to keep up with both jobs indefinitely and still have time to fit in all the important things like sleep.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Church dilemna

I've mentioned before that we cannot go to the local LCMS church because the teachings are not solid. We were driving the 3.5 hours to church but had to cut back for financial reasons. When Paul got the second job our hope was that it would allow us to attend church on a more regular basis but we are finding that there just isn't enough time for that kind of drive.

Paul isn't working this Sunday morning but is working Sunday night. Next week he is working Sunday morning. Neither of these scenarios works to gets us to church because of the excessively long drive and early time for the Divine Service. As much as I hate to admit it, this just isn't going to work. Which leaves us back in the same situation we were in before, where are we supposed to go to church?

I've been investigating a church that is 2 hours north of us (we've exhausted all the possibilities within an hour or so). The drive is still long but the service is later so Paul would have time to get home and get ready. We would also be home in enough time for him to take a nap if he had to work in the evenings. The difficult things is that neither of us wants to try again. We've attempted this a couple of times in the past few months only to be woefully disappointed in the teachings and practice of the churches we tried. I keep thinking there has to be a better option but I can't find one.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What I should be doing

There are so many things that I should be doing. The most pressing thing is planning for school since we are starting on Monday. In an effort to be more efficient I am planning for the whole year before we start. My biggest weakness is not wanting to sit down every week or two and plan out lessons. My hope is that doing it ahead of time will see us getting things done on a more consistent basis. Of course as I start planning I start thinking of all the stuff I'd love to accomplish. It makes me want to just go back to bed because I know that we can only get so much done!

I should be sewing the rest of the curtains. I should be making Lorna some more clothes. I should really finish that suit for Malachi that I started all those months ago.

We've lived back in CA for 15 months now and owned this house for almost a year. I feel like we should be packing, it just doesn't seem right that we aren't moving again anytime soon. I should be trying to make this place even more comfortable. I should be going through the stuff we've moved and haven't used. I can't seem to make myself do any of this. I keep hoping my inability to make myself do things will pass but it's been a month and it's not getting any better.

I should be insisting that the property be cleaned up some more. We've made 3 trips to the dump and 1 to the scrap yard with stuff that was here when we moved in but it doesn't look much better. There is still stuff everywhere that needs to be cleaned up. I've come to the realization that I just don't care. Maybe when the weather gets better I'll be able to make myself start in again.