Tuesday, September 30, 2008

when cranberry juice is expensive

so because we are penniless & insurance-less (ben's school doesn't offer insurance, neither does ben's part-time job), yesterday we took a trip to the medicaid office so that we could have the ability to go to the doctor.

anyway, you know you're in for a good time when you walk up to the front doors & you're greeted by a shaky man who immediately asks you if you have a cigarette. you are clearly looking pregnant in your maternity shirt, and you're holding the hand of your toddler.

"um, no" i say. and sigh. i had the feeling it was going to be a long morning.

so here are highlights:
  • ben had the pleasure of sitting next to a lady who the medicaid workers knew by name. good sign. she spoke non-stop, to herself. however ben, being the nice guy he is, doesn't realize she is out of her right mind until she starts telling him about her urinary tract infection. then these words start flying out of her mouth, and i quote:
"i'm in so much pain that even the highest dose of Oxycontin doesn't do jack."

"i take enough drugs to get us all high."

"my daughter told me she was no longer my f'ing bank."

"because of my urinary tract infection, i have to buy the special cranberry juice and that d*#n stuff is $6 a bottle."

by this time, ben knew.
he got out a book and just started reading as she rambled away.

  • the man with the tattoos on his eyelids.
  • being asked to wait over 3 hours to even be seen...i had been up since 5:30 and as 10am neared, i bristled. ben told me to take a walk so i could "cool off" so out into the 100 degree heat i went. i came back in even more fired up than when i left. and now, to top it off, sweating.
  • caleb getting exhausted & laying face down on the nasty floor. as he got up ben remarked that he probably picked up some form of diptheria. that's better than what i was thinking he picked up. (an STD)
  • when we finally were seen by our case worker, kaita, ben started asking about any job openings there. our case worker was really nice & had a good sense of humor. that is, until ben started joking about arriving for his interview wearing only a tie. (it came out of left field, but i think he was trying to make her laugh) it clearly made her nervous.
  • nearing noon, caleb nearly had a meltdown when we informed him that not only could we not take kaita's miniature toy killer whale home with us, but also couldn't take the pen that was attached to her desk with a chain. it was a near-miss in the catastrophe section.
  • we were told we were the only people that smiled when our picture was taken for our insurace i.d. cards. i asked "why's that?" and she replied, "most people are ticked off that they're even here." fair enough.
that being said, it's done. we are insured so now i can get my first check-up since week 12. halleluyer. ben also sent a resume in to apply for a job. hopefully kaita has nothing to do with the hiring process. she might deter him a little, knowing his plan to "wow them" when he walks through the doors.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

buckle up & keep your arms & legs in at all times...

last night was a sleepless night for ben & a restless night for me. (especially seeing i am up at 6am blogging, you know something's going on.) anyone else catch oprah yesterday? anyone else turned on the news, msn, dateline, & actually listen to it??

we are in some real trouble here. when i hear suze orman, a financial adviser who's opinion i really respect, say that our economy is in "as much trouble as in the crash of '29," i get a bit scared. to the point that i am dreaming about it, and ben is not-sleeping about it. all last night we watched hours of news talking about the horrible state our country is in. retirement savings are being cut in half, people are losing their 401k's, and the stock markets have crashed. then we stayed up for hours talking about what we are going to do about it. some questions we have been asking ourselves:

  • is now the best time to be going to school & living off of student loans? (aka, money that isn't really ours??)
  • if our country can't figure this out, are we really going to need psychologists in 5 years? or will we truly be a cash-economy....as predicted...and be more focused on jobs such as home building, farming, sewing?
  • how do we protect ourselves?
suze orman says:

...So what can you do to protect yourself? "People, stop living the financial lies that you have been living," Suze says. "If you don't have the money to pay for something, can you just not buy it? Can you wait? Can we start looking at keeping our cars for 10 years rather than getting a new one every three?"...

there have been many times that i have looked around at others & have been a bit...let's just say it...jealous. buying huge, beautiful homes, driving nice cars, their houses looking like the inside of a pottery barn catalog. as i am thinking, "how are they doing this?? what do they know that we obviously don't? where is our piece of the pie?"

i've had to check myself before i wrecked myself because i could feel pride getting to me. not the pride like i thought i was so cool, but pride from what i call "the bottom up" which to me, can eat you alive. it's the jealous, coveting, feeling of entitlement that you feel when you look at what others have that you don't. but it can cause feelings of bitterness and resentment, because you feel you deserve a nice living as much as the next guy. but the only person suffering is yourself. i would feel so frustrated because we felt we had done things the "right way," by putting education first & career second, but nothing ever felt to be working out, at least as far as we could see it. still living in apartments, still barely scraping by.

now that i am hearing about the housing market, the economy, the debt our country is in, i can do another reality check. we have done our best to avoid any credit card debt, have one car, have cheap stuff. we have lived as lean as we can...and maybe now that is a good thing. it is a scary feeling to know that the money you live off of is not your own money. it is borrowed money. and if someone decides that today is the day they need to collect on the debt because they are low on funds, that is when things get ugly.

i have never seen my friend suze as fired up as she was last night. there was a couple featured that is in over $90,000 of debt with 29 credit cards. 29. credit cards. little suze took this couple to the cleaners, not showing them any mercy for the poor financial choices that they made.

so, on our to-do list today:
  • sell our car. we are only going to buy one that we do not have to make payments on and that someone else doesn't own while we are driving it around. true, we may be the family with the loud muffler or backfiring engine at every stoplight. true, it will be very difficult to make this change. i have just gotten used to the feeling of security that our car won't be constantly breaking down like our old jalopies. but the reality is, this car is too expensive for our budget right now.
  • double check that the banks we use are all FDIC insured. this was something suze drove home about the economy crash. please make sure your banks are insured too!
  • pray our little guts out as to whether we are making the best decision here, to be going into so much debt at this point in the game. we know that the prophets have counseled that education is a worthy debt. but is it smart right now, with what the future could be holding for the country? should ben just go back to work and we start beefing up our savings again?
okay, now that i have written this all out, maybe my mind can sleep again. if you need anymore help, here is a link to go to for "5 steps to secure your financial future."

be aware of what is going on around us.
and hold onto your hats folks, we may be in for a rough ride.

Friday, September 19, 2008

utah friends, listen up!

on my sister's blog there is a really great giveaway going...really, i am so jealous. she has teamed up with kathryn michaels photography for a free giveaway from beginning to end. you have the chance to win a free photo session along with a set of 25 free holiday cards!! she is in the salt lake valley, so for us out-of-staters, boo hoo. i went on her website & of course my favorite was her newborn collection, they are so sweet! also she took an amazing, award-winning picture that is featured on her blog.

anyway, go over to supermomcentral.blogspot.com & enter to win!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

dr. strader explains obesity

so ben comes home today and tells me he learned the reason he thinks he is overweight & addicted to cheese.

"it all comes down to evolution, you see. my ancestors were hunters & gatherers which means they constantly had a desire for high caloric food anytime it was accessible. so it's my ancestors that are making me fat."

it all makes sense now, doesn't it? wow graduate school is enlightening.

the best part was, when i told him this was going up on the blog, he said,

"why can't you ever write about me when i do or say something sexy?" which of course got me laughing even harder. i told him it's because his grandma reads this blog and we need to preserve his image in her eyes.

but, i thought i would indulge dr. strader. so here is a picture of my sexy husband climbing trees with the group home kids. this fella has some mad tree climbing skills. not only did he school both of the boys when it came to speed, technique and accuracy, but check out those leg muscles. and ladies, he's not even flexing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

how big is too big?? how small is too small??

(caleb at primary children's hospital for 3 days of testing & seizure-watching...notice the cute little shirt? we kept it as a souvenir.)

okay i think shellee & i were online at the same time b/c her comment just popped up in my inbox. and so i will answer the question...it's actually something that's been nagging at me for a couple of weeks now.

really the reason ben was concerned about me not "getting bigger" for those who don't know, is because with caleb i had a 2-vessel umbilical cord. which apparently happens in like 2% of all single births & like 7% with twins. so i was a pretty normal size until i was about 6-7 mos along and then my growing slowed--almost stopped. for some reason i had gone to two doctors who did the full measurement work-up at around 5 mos. who did not find it. i naively thought i was just lucky...and going to be small. (seriously, where was my brain?? i'm under 5' tall! you have nowhere to go but OUT when you are this height.)

(me 3 wks. before i had caleb)

it was only until caleb popped out at 4 1/2 lbs. being full-term & they actually saw the cord that it was confirmed. it is not genetic, i was told it's just a "freak thing" that happens. but the chances of having a stillborn baby go up to about 85%, so we were that much more grateful that caleb was tiny, but alive.

once the 2-vessel is supposed to be discovered (about 5 mos.), you have to go in for weekly check-ups to weigh the baby & they are usually taken via c-section the moment you are considered full-term (36-37 wks.) because the risk of the baby losing nutrients & starving in your uterus is so high. i did not do any of this because we did not know.

many 2-vessel babies have SEVERE problems when they come out. physical deformities, mental retardation, etc. caleb was not "normal" nor was he "easy" but his problems were miniscule compared to what they could have been. poor digestive system, seizures, inability to gain weight (did not get his mother's metabolism) and slow physical progression were basically what we dealt with. not to mention the CONSTANT crying for several months. he seemed to always be in pain.
(caleb's 1st out of 3 EEG tests)

we spent our first 18 mos. with him in & out of hospitals, working with several specialists, and a lot of physical therapy. but the older he has gotten, the better his health. plus we prayed every night in gratitude to our heavenly father that as far as neurologically, he was doing fantastic.
(ben helping caleb in his old-man walker)

sooooooo....back to the point. i popped out pretty early with this pregnancy, which made me think i was a little farther along than i really was. at my 1st (and only, so far) dr's visit, i asked the midwife what the chances of this being another high-risk pregnancy. she said one in a million. i saw the baby, saw him punch & kick the little ultrasound thing when she pushed down on him (good for him, she was pushing down HARD), and my fears settled down.

but since that time, i don't feel i'm getting much bigger. i had noticed, and ben noticed. i'm only a little over 4 mos. along and am hoping i'm just paranoid, but the next dr. visit should give us a better idea & hopefully all is well.

now i just need to silence the little nagging voice in the back of my head that something is wrong. positive thoughts, right?? right!

Monday, September 15, 2008

reason i love ben #1,893:

because he said to me,
"hey, i'm kind of worried about you. you don't seem to be getting any bigger."

what pregnant girl doesn't want to hear her husband say that??? the only improvement i could see in the conversation is if he added,
"here, have another brownie."

love you bennie.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

playing house...

i don't know if anyone else is like me or i'm just a little crazy (hold the comments please), but when it comes to unpacking, i've got my own sort of "system." instead of caring about the bajillion of boxes surrounding me, i am quickly unpacking our pictures, mirrors and curtains. i am in panic mode until i can find a good hammer & some sturdy nails so i can get to work.

ben is so great and has tolerated it every move even though i know he thinks i'm a bit insane. (example: yesterday i had about 5 boxes at my feet but i'm humming a tune as i'm hanging up our "decorative towels" and pictures in the bathroom. ben walks in, says "um, hon? maybe we should unpack the toothbrushes before we start the decorating." i smile sweetly and continue on with the task at hand.)

there is just something about walking through the door with curtains hung, rugs laid out (even if they are 90% covered up with boxes) and smiling faces of our friends & family looking at me. it makes me feel like i can conquer the rest. and i may as well just lay it all out there and admit to the fact that until i get all the decorations hung up, i lay awake at night and try to figure out in my mind where it is all going to go.

i also take several breaks in between unpacking the "boring" boxes (you know, underwear & such) to daydream about what i would do if i had unlimited funds. i will share.

for several years now, i have been in love with the store:

anyone else? not only do i love the look of their clothing...but more than that...the look of their home decor. it is a mix of classy & vintage. i love that when i look through i feel like each piece is original & i don't think that everyone in my neighborhood will own the same one. it's colorful & artistic & just a little bit old-fashioned. and let's not forget pricey.

look at that fun family room...

and these dishes...

and these dishtowels (would make a cute apron too)...

rugs, hardware, mirrors, i could go on. i don't think i could do my entire house in this style but mix it up a bit. so enough about me. i know this may not be your style, but what is? where do you go to get decorating ideas? i'd love to get something new to dream about. plus, i need some more websites to look through when i'm tired of unpacking. oh wait, i'm always tired of unpacking!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


since our stuff didn't show up yesterday as planned, (here today though, hooray!) we decided to shake off our funky moods & go swimming. the pool was beautiful, the temperature perfect, and the moon was bright. we had a fantastic time and are already planning tonight's marco polo game. we were the only 3 in the pool and stayed for about an hour, ben worked on his "stroke" while caleb & i worked on kicking. after burning all those calories, we just couldn't take the thought of losing weight...and came home to make a plate of nachos. but as i was swimming back and forth, this song kept coming my head. not to sound too over-dramatic, but the swim just felt magical in a sort of way and we came back completely refreshed. feeling like us again.

(ps-mr. stipes is looking a bit un-well here & my favorite version is the one from the cd with the strings in the background, but the video to that one was a bit funky.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

adventures in moving

well, we are here! in our own little apartment in sunny phoenix. i can't tell you how surreal it has been to just be "us" in, well...since honestly may of '07. that is the last time we lived as just the three of us. oh my it is quiet. the run down:

  • may '07: lived with ben's twin sis & her family from may-july
  • july '07-july '08: lived in the insanity that was the group home
  • july '08: spent nights with (in order): the thompsons, ben's family in indiana, my mom's house, a getaway in park city, my MIL's house, my dad's house, and then with the goldings in AZ
we have had so many fun memories while being generously allowed to sleep on floors, in basements, on childrens' beds, and in teenager's bedrooms. i am pretty sure though that we have exhausted all of our resources until probably the year 2020. thanks again for everything friends & family, we will try not to bother you for a while. :)

so now, it is our turn again. we arrived here on saturday, but not without a few adventures along the way.

  1. our moving company told us they were going to charge us an extra $150 to bring us our stuff on saturday. for pete's sake. so we decided to go anyway, knowing ben was pushing his 5th week of stay with the goldings & me my 4th. so here we are, with just some clothing & an air mattress.
  2. as we were driving, and almost to the complex, two girls at a stoplight motion to me that our trunk is slightly open and we have been dropping things out of the back for a little while now. so, with a lot of backtracking & running out into the middle of intersections, and questioning some questionable characters at bus stops, we recovered none of it. now as we unpack, if we can't find something, we figure it must have been one of the "street treasures" that someone will uncover soon. i know if i came across an unopened box of nutri-grain bars, i would think it was christmas day.
  3. starting over. because we were so gosh darn poor when we moved to NC, we decided to sell just about everything. (i am thinking we assumed that we would be in a different financial state once we emerged) but here we are, more destitute than when we started, and about $100,000 in debt (thank you graduate school!). so we took a little trip to target and had to buy the "basics" such as; trash cans, plates, cups, silverware, cleaning supplies, a vacuum, canned goods, you get the idea. almost $500 later, we put it all away and wondered where it had disappeared to. we were still in an empty apartment.
so just a couple of bumps in the road and we (hopefully) will be moving in the rest of our things today. the good news is this:
  • so far, our apartment is fantastic. we have a beautiful complex, gated, and overlooks a golf course & million dollar homes. it is small and fits just what we need. we have heard very, very small peeps from the upstairs which is a fantastic sign.
  • no sign of scorpions yet!
  • 3 beautiful, sparkling pools that are hardly used. and yes, the water IS as blue as it looks in the ad! (i had to see it to believe it)
  • our apartment has shade & is very nice & cool. we don't have to do much with the a/c to keep the temperature nice.
  • ben started school last week. i think it has the potential to kick his rear, but more importantly, i think he is really, really going to like it. not only that but be fantastic at it.
  • our ward seems great. small, and a mix of old, young, families & singles. met some very nice people yesterday & am hopeful. why do i have to be so shy though?
so we had two nice, quiet days with no t.v. and borrowing internet from someone in the complex...thank you wireless! it is really fantastic to be in control of my own environment again. it's so peaceful that i'm tempted to start a little argument with ben just to spice things up. :) i think after living in the group home, it brought to the surface an interesting side of myself. more about that later, this one is long enough. multiple bulleting? yikes.

home sweet home.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

when things get scratchy

caleb with his friends, the marching band of ducks outside our favorite mall in NC

a couple of days ago caleb & i were laying down to take an afternoon nap. he rolled over, his face just inches away from mine and stared. after a few seconds i opened one eye to see what he was doing. he was staring up my nose.

i said, "what's up?"

and he answered, "momma, your nose. it looks scratchy up there."

love how blatantly honest these 3 year olds can be.

(i think he looks a bit like a little lady in here because we had neglected his mop top for so long)