Thursday, May 27, 2010

Unemployed Teacher

CJ has always had a mind of his own as well as his own very firm agenda. On Monday of this week, he wore his flip flops to school. I told him not to wear them. He said he just had to wear them to show them to his friends. Fine, dude. Whatever. Wear your flip flops.

The problem is that he can't figure out how to put them on or keep them on his feet because his toes are all turned in from wearing his shoes on the wrong feet for so long. Because of that fact, he was causing quite a disruption with his shoes so his teacher told him not to wear them to school anymore.

A couple of minutes later, CJ stormed up to her desk and slammed a piece of paper down. It read:


Great! Just what society needs; another unemployed teacher.

More Lessons From the Apartment Complex-Teenage Pregnancy Crisis Averted

I continue to learn more and more exciting things as I reside in this fine establishment with my five children. The most recent lesson was a lesson in love as taught by the horny teenagers about fifteen years old sitting in the poolside hot tub.

When the kids and I arrived, the pool wasn't very busy at all. There were just a few adults there. Rachel and CJ prefer to swim in the hot tub (which really isn't very hot unless you sit in the same spot some urinating kid was just in) because it's smaller and more shallow. Since there were only two teenagers in the pool, I decided it was a good place to let them play. So, Aiden swam in the big pool while I sat in the hot tub with CJ, Rachel, and Drezden.

Now, I was a hormonally charged teenager just like many other youth are, but I had the common sense to control myself in front of adults. These two fine upstanding future parents were apparently not blessed with the common sense to control their urges when adults and young children were present. So, as I sat there with my children, I became more and more aware of their desires.

There were tongues flapping everywhere. There was grabbing. I'm sure she meant to grab his beach ball rather than his other ones. It's a mistake anyone could have made, right? There was carressing. And there was vomiting. Drezden was the one vomiting. He swallowed a little too much pool water. Even the entire contents of my kid's stomach didn't turn these two love birds off.

I was pretty sure she was about to become this kid's baby mama right before my eyes when all of a sudden their friends came to join them in the pool. Apparently her boyfriend's best friend also happened to be her brother. Within about a minute, her boyfriend and brother were discussing their recent "scoping" outcomes. They explained to her that scoping is when you "roll on over to yo school and check out the honies. Baby, a dude has needs, too. I'm just lookin', baby. Not touchin'." This led to an argument regarding loyalty, cheating, and something about the fact that the boyfriend could just go on home and do his mama's chores like he planned 'cuz he ain't gettin' nothin' from his woman tonight.

The next thing I knew, the girlfriend who was ready moments before to give up her virginity (I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt here) was storming out of the pool while her boyfriend sat in the pool with his peeps. After she left, her brother divulged all the fact about how "she's still talking to dudes on the phone, man. She ain't loyal to you. Dude, your relationship ain't go no hope". Really? No hope? It looked very deep and based and true love from where I was sitting.

At any rate, I can only assume it was really a blessing. It was probably a teenage pregnancy crisis averted.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Time Someone Said Something

I don't usually ask that anyone promote my blog. I'm not asking for that today, either. BUT, I would ask that you post a link to this particular post to anyone you know. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, your favorite local news link, or whatever. It's time for someone to speak up, and make things right.

As you know, Liam has spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals. Thankfully, his most recent stays have been very brief. Through it all, we've had our fair share of incidents with one hospital in particular. You may recall THIS INCIDENT or some of the many things that went wrong over the summer while he was in the care of this particular hospital. We had a doctor tell us we can't choose our child's color when we expressed concern over him being blue, nurses fail to come despite alarms going off and us begging them to come in only to discover that he truly was in distress, and had his oxygen turned off by a cleaning lady who told us the O2 was really just optional. I let all of those things go, although I did blog them for my own therapeutic benefit.

Well, they've screwed up again. DALLAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, IT'S TIME YOUR NAME BE PUT OUT THERE FOR EVERYONE TO KNOW ABOUT! I am typically a very reasonable person, but things have got to improve there before someone is seriously injured or billed unreasonable prices due to stupid mistakes.

Back in October, Liam had some trouble and spent a little time in the hospital under observation. He had chest X-rays, and a test for pulmonary hypertension. We were there just under 24 hours, and were billed just over $7,000.00. Of that, we had to pay $50.00. Our insurance covered the rest. I blogged that stay HERE. Overall, I was pleased with the whole experience.

Then, in February, he got RSV and had some trouble wanting to drink. His sats and disposition were fine, but Dr. Sanchez wasn't pleased with the amount of fluids he was taking. Since she couldn't see him in her office, she felt like she wanted him admitted for observation just to be sure he was okay.

This stay was so minimal that I didn't even blog it. We arrived and he was admitted to the unit around 8pm on the 18th of February. He got a bag of rehydrating fluids, had some chest x-rays, and some breathing treatments. The respiratory people gave him the meds, but I administered the treatments. Other than that, the stay was identical to the stay in October. He was on the same unit with the same nurses and the same doctor overseeing his care. We left at around 5pm on the 19th.

The price tag for that stay? $27,778.00. Yep. You read that right. I called to figure out where the error was and they said he was inpatient so everything costs more. I said that, no he was there for observation. They argued. I fought. They argued.

I called back again today and begged them to compare the two stays and see that he received essentially the same treatment both times. They relented and said that he was inpatient because it was 25 hours that he was there in February. This is the exact conversation we had:

"What? 8pm one day to 5pm the next day is 25 hours?"

"Yes, ma'am. It is."

"No, it's not. Are you crazy?"

Customer service rep. starts asking another billing specialist to help her count, and they both agree that it's 25 hours.

"Seriously? Can I talk to someone else?"


"Someone who can count would be great!"

"Ma'am, count it. It's 25 hours."

"No, it's not. 8pm today to 5pm tomorrow does not equal 25 hours."

"Yes, it does."

"Fine. Let's count each hour. Let me get a piece of paper."

"That's a great idea, ma'am."

We count. I get to 5pm the next day.

"21 hours! Ding, ding ding! It's 21 hours."

"Can you please hold?"

"Um, yeah. Sure."

She comes back to the phone and concedes that it is indeed less than 25 hours. (Yeah. Duh!) Then she says she's looking over the itemized bill and there are the two $10,000.00 IV injections he received. Um, WHAT?!?! He got IV fluids for hydration in case he was truly dehydrated.

I ask her to please tell me what the drugs were for. She says she's never seen this drug listed before, and has to ask a nurse. She'll call me back in a few minutes. I figure I'll be waiting about 25 hours.

So, one of two things has happened. Either A). He was billed twice for a drug he never got. OR B). My child was negligently given a very expensive drug he was never meant to have. Which do you think it was?

On so many levels, there are things seriously wrong here.

1. If he really was an inpatient, the hospital justifies charging a three times as much for the stay even though he got exactly the same treatment as when he was there for observation. That's like saying two people could show up to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. One could come in a rolls royce and the other on a motorcycle. One would be charged $200.00 for his gallon of milk while the other pays only $4.00. And we wonder why medical bills are so out of control in America? Good hard working Americans are paying high premiums for insurance only to be charged huge fees for care they never received. I even called the insurance to report the problem, and the insurance felt that these were reasonable. I told them that Liam hadn't received some of these things (2 IV's at $10,000/each). They did nothing. Just paid it out, and charged me a high premium for it. NOT OKAY!

2. The people in billing at Dallas Children's Hospital not even able to tell time let alone recognize how many hours a child was in their care. These are the billing specialists! These are the people who take my credit card number and apply charges to it. THEY CAN'T COUNT TO 21!!! This is a serious problem. (I genuinely hope that call was recorded.)

3. A child was either given a drug he shouldn't have had, or he was billed for very expensive drugs he should never have had. Either way, it's a problem that needs to be resolved.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the girl in billing who is looking into the IV charges. She said she'd call back in a few minutes. That was at 2pm and it's now 6:31pm. So, about 25 hours later and I'm still waiting. ;)

I want the record to show that the doctors and nurses involved in this situation did their jobs well. They paid attention to my child's needs. They listened to my concerns. As always, the direct care staff did there jobs precisely right while the executives and white collar workers screwed things up. Again.

I'm hoping you'll share this story with anyone who will listen. Forget health care reform. Simply fixing billing and fact checking processes for medical care could potentially save us all more money than we can count.

I may be just one voice, but my voice matters. When it's combined with other voices, it is heard. For the safety and best interest of our wallets and more importantly our children, feel free to share this post.

In all fairness to the hospital, I will continue to update as changes come. I'm confident this will be resolved fairly in due time.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Allergy-Yikes!

Have I ever mentioned that I have the MOST amazing pre-school teacher in the whole stinking world for Rachel and Drezden? Well, I do. Really. She is amazing, and she's amazing enough that she also only employs equally as amazing people to work for her. I love Mrs. Buppy and her helper, Mrs. Amy. They get big points in my book, and I'm still working on convincing them both that they want to move away with us. Since Mrs. Buppy is madly in love with a certain ruggedly handsome local elementary school principal, and Mrs. Emee likes her pretty great life here, it looks like I'll be moving on without them. That part makes me sad, so I won't write much more on that. But, I will go on to describe something they figured out this week that I had completely overlooked.

Drezden has a severe allergy to peanut butter. It's really bad, and I'd never have figured it out were it not for the great sleuthing efforts of Mrs. Buffy. I had sent him to school on Thursday with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He had a great morning, played hard, and had fun. After lunch, Buffy made note that he coughed and coughed and coughed all the way through his nap. His inhaler didn't seem to help it.

Friday, he did much better. It was the same scenario, except that I sent ham and cheese in his lunch. He played, ran around, and had a great time. He slept fine and then woke up for snack. Snack was peanut butter crackers. Immediately the coughing until almost vomiting started, and Buffy knew what it was. PEANUT BUTTER ALLERGY!

She texted me what was happening and I granted permission to give Benedryl. Poor kid. It took a while for the medicine to kick in, but it finally helped him. I put in a call to the doctor to get him tested for allergies, but it was Friday afternoon and the doctor was off for the weekend.

Last night, Drezden wanted a granola bar. Out of 18 in the box, ONE had peanut butter. Guess which one he managed to get? Yep. You guessed it. The peanut butter one! It took a matter of seconds before he was coughing, vomiting, and breaking out in blotchy spots that I can only assume were hives. We gave him a dose of his steroids, some benedryl, his cough suppressant, and his regular prescriptions. Finally, he was able to settle down and sleep.

Today, the coughing persisted. He made me nervous enough that I took him to the kids' urgent care. They confirmed that Mrs. Buffy's assessment was probably very correct. He now has a whole new set of meds including an epi pen that we will keep with him wherever he goes.

Were it not for Mrs. Buffy, we would have just thought he had a bad asthma attack. She is a stinking genius! Now, I just have to figure out how to convince her to come with us to our new area so she can continue to help parent my children...or at least prevent me from accidentally killing them.

Things You Learn When You Move

We have officially moved out of the home we owned, and are living in an apartment for two months before finally going on to our new home in our new state. Moving is always a challenge no matter who you are, but I'd like to think it was more interesting for me because of hte kids I have. I've put together a list of the things I've learned in this move from our house to a three bedroom apartment.

1. Boys are gross. They hide gross things in their rooms under their beds, and by the time you find them, it's way too late. The grossness level has gone off the charts and it's possible HAZMAT needs to be called in. That said, there wasn't any poop hidden in sock draws or closet corners...that I know of.

2. All those things you've been pulling your hair out trying to find aren't as great to find when it's been nearly a year since they first went missing. And really, it's a little embarrassing when the moving guy finds that box of condoms you've searched high and low for. Of course, the box is unopened, which doesn't seem to surprise the movers when you mention that you have five children. You'll be glad to find your wedding ring in the "really special place" you put it in so the kids don't find it. Of course, the spot will be so special that you forget where it is. Your joy in finding the ring will be rapidly squashed when you try to put it on and realize you're apparently a much larger woman than you were the last time you wore it. So, you put it back in another really special place.

3. You know that mine sweeper game you can play on your computer? Moving into an apartment complex that allows dogs is a lot like playing a real live version of that game. Seriously, people. There are doggy doo-doo dump sites every twenty feet here, and still your dog's poop covers my path to my vehicle. Really? Can I just leave my kids' poop all over for you to step in?

4. When all of your children's toys are packed and shipped away for two months, they will find other more creative things to play with. Refer to number three for examples of some of the more disturbing "toys" they've found. I knew CJ had reached a new level of desperation when he came in holding one of those pollen puffs you find floating around in the spring. He gently held and stroked it as he quietly told me, "This is my new pet. Her name is Dora." Really??

5. Children who have never had real cable before will become couch potatoes upon discovering that their new home has channels like Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. Those same children will likely need therapy to get over the trauma when they move out of the apartment at the end of the summer and learn that they are again down to basic channels. I know. They live a deprived life.

6. Sixteen month old babies and two year olds will find great delight in playing in the fire place. As their mother, I find very little delight in cleaning the trail of soot they leave behind when they're done.

7. Having a very nice pool in the apartment complex is a lovely perk. Sharing it with some of the rather unsavory people who live here is a bit less of a perk. I'm thinking particularly of the chick with about seven fat rolls hanging over her thong bikini while she held a beer and cigarrette in one hand and her young child in the other. Luckily, her equally as attractive boyfriend is there to hold her butt cheeks up for her.

8. Children who are not used to sharing bedrooms never sleep when there is someone in there with them. They should get used to this arrangement just in time for us to move out. Then they'll likely cry because they're sad and lonely all alone in their rooms.

9. Apartment complex refrigerators are far too small to accomodate a family of seven.

10. Having something break in your apartment, and knowing that some repairman will come fix it is a lovely feeling. The bathtub only works as a shower rather than just a tub in the master bathroom. Who cares? Someone else will come fix it, and I won't be paying for it. Does it get any better than that really? Yeah. I didn't think so, either.

So, this promises to be a rather enlightening summer. I can only imagine the things I'm going to learn. Stay tuned for more installments of "Things You Learn When You Move".

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Faith of a Child

CJ is a handful. I'm pretty sure that's the understatement of the century. He is a strong-willed, stubbourn, noisy little human with the potential to drive anyone completely nuts. But, with all of that comes an amazing understanding of basic gospel principles and a remarkable faith in prayer. He also has an immeasurable ability to love. I'm the first to admit the kid can throw a tantrum with the best of them and has perfected the art of dirty looks. But, this is something else I'm referring to.

Unconditional love. CJ has it in him. Once a person gets a piece of CJ's heart, that person will have love until their dying day, and then some. He is loyal to the death. Well, mostly. I think that, with the right amount of candy, he probably could be bought. He is a red-blooded kid afterall.

He has created a special bond with a couple in our ward, J and L. They have two boys of their own who are both on their own and have moved out. CJ adores them. He talks about them day and night. He plans dates with them. He makes them more artistic treasures than I can count. He loves them unconditionally. I think they feel the same way about him, so it works out well.

The economy has not been kind to J and L. It has hit them hard, and they need to sell their house soon, or they will stand to lose everything. We are in the process of moving, too, and I thought CJ might be able to relate on some level.

I approached him this morning, and told him that J and L need to sell their house so they can get a new one and be happy. I kept it very simple for him, and asked him to say a prayer for them. Immediately the tears came. "J and L are leaving me and moving far away? I will miss them!". Apparently he doesn't understand just how far away we're moving. He was more than a little sad at the idea of them not being nearby.

I decided to let it go, and just let him do his thing. The next thing I knew, I walked past his room and could hear him sending up a very simple, but heart-felt prayer for J and L to sell their home and be able to be happy. Knowing how heart broken he is about losing them, I know how hard that prayer was for him. He's never had a sincere prayer go unanswered and he knows that. For him, this was an ultimate sacrifice.

I heard later on in the day that someone had come by to see J and L's home, and that the potential buyer liked it. He will be coming back to see it again later in the week. I told this to CJ, and he was pleased because he felt like he was a part of their potential success. He went back and prayed again that they can sell their home.

I'm not saying it was just CJ's prayer that moved this mountain for J and L. Who knows? Maybe the buyer will go elsewhere. That really isn't the point, is it? What I am saying is that children can have a profound understanding of what love is. It is knowing that the best thing for another person may be the hardest thing for ourselves. It is understanding that love means choosing that hard thing for ourselves so that the other person can be blessed.

CJ knows his Heavenly Father hears his prayers. He knows that his prayers can indeed move the mountains in the lives of others. And so he offered a simple prayer, and it was answered. I can only hope that I can someday learn to have half the faith of that child.

A Very Expensive Lesson to Learn

I learned an important lesson this month. It's a lesson that I'm sure most people would roll their eyes and throw stones at me for having to learn the hard way really. Laugh if you must. I at least learned something from it. What is it, you ask? I learned that they people at the auto shop aren't kidding when they tell you to change your oil every 3,000 miles.

Yep. It really needs to be changed. Did you know that going almost 20,ooo miles without changing the oil WILL result in having to get a whole new motor? Yep. It will. Know what else? That motor will cost you nearly $4,000.oo to get. If you happen to be a rich person with money to throw away on the results of stupid mistakes, this is really no big deal. But, if you are like me, and you happen to be just a typical American doing your best to get by day by day AND buy a lovely new home for your family, $4,000.00 is a lot of money.

So, I was without my van for a week. A WEEK!!! Do you know what happens to the mother of five with no vehicle for a full week? It isn't pretty, let me tell you. I was ready to go and rent a donkey or a camel or some other beast of burden just so I could get out and about and do something, anything really. I was delighted when Byron came home and needed a gallon of milk. I immediately volunteered every chance I got to go and run the menial errands.

Then, we finally got the stupid thing back, and it died. Again. I called the repair shop all hot under the collar prepared to threaten them with...with...with CHILDREN! Yes! That was it! I'd tell them that they could take all the time they needed to fix it, and I'd be happy to wait in the sales office with all five kids. I'd tell them that Aiden would be good, but would sit there pouting the whole time because he wasn't with his friend, Jake, eating his mother's food. He insists that Jake's mom's food can be burnt and would still be better than mine. I'd invite CJ to ask the repair man all the questions he could think of and then tell him jokes. There isn't enough medication on the planet to help a repair guy who has CJ "helping" him do his job. Rachel would be polite enough, but would feel the need to sing every song she knows with all the wrong words and completely off key at the top of her lungs. Drezden would spend the entire time crying for his binky, which I would bring with me, and just forget that it was right there in the diaper bag. And Liam? Well, he'd poop. There isn't a ventilation system in the world strong enough to mask the horror that is Liam's poop.

That was my plan. I was going to bring the kids with me to help motivate them to get the job done. To my dismay, though, they were very polite and helpful. They came and towed the van in, and got straight to work on diagnosing the problem.

I learned another lesson that day. If you have a dead battery, and don't at least try to jump it, you'll end up paying for a new battery, the tow to get it to the shop. And, yes. All of that will be on top of the nearly $4,000.oo you paid the week before for not changing the oil.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Boots!

CJ has a special love for his cowboy boots. He has worn them EVERYWHERE. He wore them to school, to bed, to shower (he put them outside the shower door while he was in there), to play in the snow, to get school pictures taken, and to church.
They weren't new boots when he got them in the first place. They were actually hand-me-downs from Aiden. Regardless of how he came by them, they were a treasure and his whole heart went into wearing them. Sadly, CJ's beloved boots met their demise. They'd fallen apart before, but a little crazy glue held them together for a couple more months. This time, though, even crazy glue wouldn't fix them.
The fake leather (did I also mention they were from WalMart?) was coming off, the soles had come off, and they were as broken down as any boot could be. Still, CJ loved his boots and wanted to wear them everywhere. It was with a heavy heart that he finally gave in when I told him it was time to let them go.
Tonight, I surprised him with a Mommy Date. We drove to the cowboy store (no stinkin' WalMart boots for my little cowboy), and I set him free to choose himself some real boots. He was excited as could be, although I think it's because he also noted that there were cowboy toys there. Anyway, he proudly tried this pair on, and that was that. He was in love. We also went for a new haircut, but that paled in comparison to those great new boots.
I have a cowboy sleeping proudly cuddled up with his fabulous new boots dreaming of whatever it is that CJ dreams about. What could be better than a great pair of new boots?

Go Ahead. Laugh.

I've hit a new low. I know. I thought my last new low was as low as it could go, but I beat even that one. Yep. It is indeed possible.

I had to go to WalGreens to buy old lady make-up. "Cover your age lines and wrinkles..." That stuff. I need it. It's not actually the wrinkles that are the problem as much as the dark circles under my eyes. Okay, and the wrinkles. At the same time, I had to buy some skin cleanser that I think is meant for pre-pubescent teenagers to help clean up the lovely acne in other parts of my face. I know. Classy, right?

Now, none of this would have been so embarrassing were it not for what happened on my way out of the store. (Okay, so it was still embarrassing, but the story sounds better if I add a little suspense or something). I had Liam with me, and was running late to pick up Rachel and Drezden from Mrs. Buffy's school.

I hurried out to the van carrying the baby, trying not to let him lose the balloon the lady at the make-up counter gave him, and hoping no one would note my many facial imperfections. I pushed the unlock button on my van and promptly opened the backdoor. Upon attempting to put Liam in the van, I realized it wasn't even my van!!! Oops! There was a very kind, very old, man in the driver's seat.

In my defense, the van I opened was the same make and model as mine. It even had the same sticker from the same dealership as mine. And it was parked right next to mine. Luckily, the older gentleman just smiled and let me continue on my way. But, I and my zits and bandaged up baby with the balloon was adequately mortified.

Go ahead. Laugh.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Will NOT Use Potty Words. I Will NOT Use Potty Words. I Will NOT...

*Deep sigh* Selling a house is a total pain in the butt. I mean, really. That's just how it is. We completely flipped this house and made it into everything we ever hoped and wished it could be...just in time to sell it. Figures. We got a buyer right away, which is no small miracle with the market the way it currently is. What do I have to complain about, right?

The answer is simple. EVERYTHING! We are days away from closing and our buyer just happens to mention that their financing has fallen through. Ack! What?!?!?! That's a problem. They *think* they have it figured out now, but it pushes the closing date back. No biggie, right? Well, we think not, but we are already under contract to purchase our amazing and wonderful house in the new area we're moving to.

Sometimes it's so hard to keep the faith instead of sitting down and crying and using potty words. I mean, I won't do that because how on earth can God bless me for having faith if I'm sitting in a corner swearing, right? That's not exactly showing great faith. Of course, no one ever said living and walking by faith would be easy. I've only ever heard that it'd be worth it.

I can't complain. Byron got this job by no small miracle. It was handed to us on a silver platter. Then, Liam and Drezden's health made total turn-arounds out of the blue. Then, we found out we're moving to a place where the leading pulmonology doctors for children is. Further, we found out that some of the leading oral Deaf schools are in the area we're going to. We sold our house (if it all goes through) for a profit, and found a new house in a matter of hours over the weekend that we were there hunting for a home. We discovered that our new ward has three other Deaf children all with cochlear implants.

So, with all of that going on, how could I not have faith that this little hiccup is just that? A hiccup. *Deep sigh* Apparently I still have a lot to learn. Of course, once I learn to live and truly walk by faith, I'll probably be dead.