Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monopoly and medical billing

So have you seen the new Monopoly game? I know, there are scores of them, but I'm talking about the new cashless version. Evidently you use a credit card-like thing to keep track of your money electronically. You know, I have never enjoyed playing Monopoly (I do enjoy the junior version that we have), but to me it's worth playing to get some practice adding and subtracting and handling and investing money. It is beyond me why anyone would want to play the game for any other reason, such as, it's fun. But the new cashless version takes that away. I see it as both the death of a fine tradition and as a sign of the times...I am just a dab horrified (horrified is too strong a word, but the children have stolen my brain cells, so I can't come up with anything better right now), but mostly just feel sad and compelled to shake my head.
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I have been unemployed for over 9 years now, and as you can imagine, I've spent some time thinking about how to make my re-entry into the working world. I have already determined that I don't ever want to work full time again. I actually had that figured out while I was still working. I've determined that whatever I do, it'll either have to be tied to the school year, or it'll have to be something that I can do from home and that I can do as much or as little of as I wish, depending on how much is going on with kids. That is, at least until 2026.

So at times I've thought that I might enjoy being a medical biller. I'm told (by the scores of advertisements that I've gotten through the years) that I can make up to $40,000 a year at home (right). I enjoy working with numbers, computers don't intimidate me, and I actually find filling out paperwork to be calming, plus it's definitely a growth industry. What better job could there be for me?

About 6 weeks ago, during the course of a doctor's visit, my middle son was required to pee in a cup (don't worry, everything's fine). Let me just say that this is one more reason I'm glad we have boys instead of girls. So a couple of weeks ago, we got the Explanation of Benefits back from the insurance company, and found that there was a charge for the office visit, and two separate charges for the lab. Now, I can understand a collection charge and a separate analysis charge when the lab workers actually do something to collect the sample, for instance, when they draw blood, but come on, people! I was the one holding the cup for the kid. The really silly part is the fees were the same for each charge: $15, but the allowable amount for the collection fee was $10.50, while the allowable amount for processing the sample was $3.50! You'll notice that the two together just about equal one $15 charge, which it should have been in the first place. I complain about how expensive our medical coverage is, but I am so thankful that we have medical insurance, or we'd be paying double.

We had similar issues with all of the late term ultrasounds we had for Caleb: separate (huge) charges for procedures that had a marginal cost of zero. They also charge an administration fee for immunizations in addition to the charge for the immunization itself, and it's not just an administration fee, it's an administration fee for each separate shot, regardless of how many they're giving the poor kid (we've had combined administration charges of over $100 in one office visit--makes me wonder if the nurses are paid by the shot).

So this all has me thinking that medical billing may not be the best career choice for me. I think I would object to the ridiculousness of the charges, and I find it difficult to keep that kind of thing to myself. My sense of justice and fairness would always be filling me with disquiet, and who wants to live that way? So, I guess I'll have to come up with something else...good thing I have a little time to decide, eh? Any suggestions?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Caleb's favorite toy

Here's a picture of Caleb with his favorite toy. It's a toothbrush, just in case you can't make it out in the picture (or you can't believe what your eyes are telling you). He has several of them stashed in various locations throughout the house, so he'll never be far from a toothbrush. Actually, it doesn't have to be a toothbrush: any long skinny implement will do. He's particularly fond of rubber scrapers and drumsticks, although toothbrushes do appear to be his favorite.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Watching the videos

Hey all--when you watch videos today, scroll down to Caleb dancing and watch that one first, then work your way up. Also in the one with Logan I meant to point out that Coach Josh is saying in the background, "hey, good job, you guys got one point." Logan scored the first point for his relay team :-)

As is the practice of athletes the world over, Cody became more cocky with each successive basket made :-)

Cody playing basketball

Logan playing basketball

I just happened to be videoing when Logan made a basket. You really have to not blink with this one :-)


Caleb dancing

He doesn't actually start his dance moves until the 15th second or so, when he's standing by the "coffee" table. Don't blink--you might miss it. I think he was hoping for some different music.

Weather and maybe

My brother told me to stop telling people about his weather. I'd like to point out that I've been very careful to not state his location, so that people won't flock there, or stalk him, or whatever. And you know, now I have to tell everyone your weather. They've come to expect it. High of 66 today; 38 tomorrow. Fickle.
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What do you mean when you say maybe? When I say maybe I mean just that: maybe. It could go either way. Maybe yes, or maybe no. Can't really make a commitment at this point. I've learned, after 13+ years of marriage, that when my husband says maybe, he really means yes. As is, maybe I will have another slice of pie. Scott doesn't really have a substitute for maybe in his vocabulary, either. Very black and white, that husband of mine. I must admit, I take a certain stubborn glee in continuing to interpret his maybes as maybes. In the previous case (the piece of pie), I won't bring him another piece of pie until he revises his maybe to a verbal yes.

I have always (as much as I can remember), been a face value kind of girl, perhaps even a little gullible. When people speak to me, I expect them to say what they mean, and I believe that they mean what they say. Not very female of me, is it? I was blindsided this week, though. Someone other than my husband told me maybe, and I believed her. I thought, OK, we could go either way on this one. I choose no. Later on I found out that her maybe was really a yes. Thankfully I still have time to remedy the situation.

One of our pastors is fond of saying something like, "so let's let our yes be yes," usually in reference to taking the offering (if that doesn't make sense to you, don't worry--it's OK). I think there must be something like that in the Bible somewhere, given the frequency with which she says it. I feel like we should let our maybe be maybe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow boots

I forgot to tell you that Caleb has been practicing walking in his snow boots, and he's getting better! I think by the time we actually have snow on the ground he'll be able to do it :-)
OK, folks, it's time to get serious about this windscreen: the ducky blanket just isn't cutting it. One of you is working on this, right? Want me to send dimensions, or were you planning on making it one size fits all? That might be more marketable. Oh, and forget the insulation, just go ahead and heat the stroller. By the way, my husband complained that my specifications yesterday were contained in a run-on sentence. Nope. There was, however, a sentence fragment that would have made Miss Hargrave grit her teeth and roll her eyes (just in case you're not my brother, that would be my 8th grade English teacher), if she had had the displeasure to read it. I apologize. I just didn't feel like including a subject or verb in that non-sentence. So there. At least I didn't dangle any participles.

Seventy-six degrees for a high today where my brother lives. That is so funny, because a common complaint I hear about where my brother lives from people who don't know what they're talking about is that it's way too cold and way too snowy there. Humph. I think they just know how to do it right there. It snows, but usually melts by lunch time, and if they do want to play in some snow, they can find some, pretty much year-round. It does get awfully hot during the summer, but again, all they need to do is gain some altitude and it's not so bad.

My sister in law (the one who lives where it was supposed to be a high of 33 and a severe weather alert yesterday) reported that her visibility was down to less than 20 ft at times as she was driving home yesterday. Glad she made it home OK. Also glad the weather forecast was right. (I hope I haven't offended anyone with the preceding sentence fragments.)

Here, it's cold. Just what you would expect for mid-November (OK, a little colder than you would expect...well, maybe you would expect it, but a bit colder than those of us who live here would expect). I forgot to put my long undies on this morning, so as I was walking, my top half was sweating again, and my bottom half was numb. Aren't you glad you know that?

Monday, November 17, 2008


Make that a windscreen, that's see-through, waterproof, insulated, and automatically darkens if the Bubby falls asleep. Also securely enough fastened that the Bubby won't be able to kick it off and under the wheels of the stroller.

The bus stop windchill this morning was 10 degrees, and I was sweating on my walk! AND where my brother lives they're supposed to have a high of 66 degrees today! Severe weather alert and 33 degrees where my in-laws live. That's more like it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What we saw

Here are some of the things we saw while walking this week.
Willy and his owner--of course I don't remember her name.
The standard poodle Willy's owner is always telling us he was playing with, out (for the first time ever), and barking at us. He does exist.
The collie and shepherd looking dogs, across the road from the poodle, not barking at us. I guess they've gotten used to us.
A car pulling out of the driveway of the house where they generate their own electricity. Yes, it was a Prius.
Our running friend going into her house (although "friend" is probably too strong a word--we only know her to say hello or good morning as she's running past us, and she always seems to be in pain when she sees to us...)
An alpaca! Who knew there was an alpaca living within 2 miles of us!?!
A deer in one of the fields north of us. It watched us walk down the hill.
A man carrying a compound bow in a different field north of our house, looking down. I didn't know anyone hunted anything small enough that he would be looking down for it, with bows. We did not point out the deer to him.
A pair of red-tailed hawks roosting in the same tree where we saw 100s of yellow finches in the late summer/ early fall. I wonder if hawks eat finches.
The house with the 4 car garage that always seems to have 3 cars parked outside with one of its garage doors open. And nope, there wasn't room in there for a car.
Managed to once again resist gathering spruce cones from underneath the many spruce trees on our route...if only one of them was a little closer to the road...
Geese, finally flying south, in a perfect enough V that Logan noticed it was a V.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Fleet Farm does not sell eggs. However, as my husband pointed out, they do sell chicken feed and other chicken growing supplies. They even sell chicks in the spring. So I guess they do sell eggs--they're just "some assembly required" eggs :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008


Let me just start by saying I am so thankful for our dishwasher. Every time I put a dish in there, I say a little prayer of thanks, that I have this work-saving device. I'm thankful for our washing machine and dryer, our air conditioner and furnace. Running water. All that stuff.

When we first moved to West Virginia, we didn't have a dishwasher, and that was definitely not a deal-breaker in our minds. After all, there were only two of us then, and one of us didn't even have a job--I could have washed dishes all day, and I would have been happy to, although I'm sure my hands would have protested after a while.

Then, we had a baby. And suddenly, I didn't have all day to do dishes anymore. In fact, I didn't have 5 minutes to do dishes. In fact, I didn't even have to time make any dishes dirty in the first place. I distinctly remember being awake at 2 a.m., feeding Cody, and Scott would be washing dishes or mopping the floor. Eventually, Cody didn't need as much hands on care, and I was back to having time to wash dishes, but we promised ourselves that if we ever had another baby, we would get a dishwasher first.

Fast forward to November of 2002. I was pregnant with Logan, AND we had guests coming for Thanksgiving. Enter the dishwasher. I remember looking at the energy usage label, and chuckling to myself, because they based the energy usage figures on 5 loads of dishes per week. I thought, who does five loads of dishes a week? That just seemed excessive. At the time of installation, we did one load of dishes about every 4-5 days.

Fast forward to November of 2008. Now we have three kids, and a different home with a different dishwasher. And guess what? I'm one of those people who is running her dishwasher 5 times a week. I still find it hard to believe that anyone would have to run their dishwasher 5 times a week. For a good three months now I've been telling myself that it must be only temporary, all these dirty dishes. I don't know where all the dishes come from (well, I'm pretty sure they come from our cupboards)... So, yes, I am very, very thankful for our dishwasher!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fleet Farm and gas

Well! I just want you all to know that Fleet Farm is THE BEST store ever. You can purchase just about anything there--just about anything our family would purchase, anyway. They've got fishing supplies, boating stuff, exercise equipment, tools, hardwear, car stuff, clothes and shoes, bird supplies, home stuff, and even the vacuum cleaner belt that I couldn't find anywhere else, including Sears, where we bought the vacuum. And fuzzy pink slippers! What more could you want?

Right now, they have a great selection of toys at good prices. For instance, the other day I bought 3 of a particular regular priced item at Fleet Farm for less than it would have cost me to buy 2 of that same item at Target. Granted, they don't have the Shake-n-go Mack Hauler with Radiator Springs Lightning McQueen at Fleet Farm, but they do have the #48 Jimmie Johnson hauler with race car, and you should see their selection of John Deere items! And big metal Tonka trucks of various varieties (not just the dump truck). And a Caterpillar Megabloks dumptruck. I told the cashier I was going to do all of my toy shopping at Fleet Farm from now on. They have cute Christmas decorations, too.
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I saw it for myself today. Gas was less than $2 per gallon in Stillwater. I honestly didn't think it would ever go below $2 again.
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It was the perfect day to go Christmas shopping today. It was snowing, putting me in the Christmas spirit, but it wasn't cold, and it certainly has not snowed enough yet this season for me to be tired of the snow just yet. The only thing missing from my experience was the Christmas carols...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Hey, everyone, just a friendly reminder: vote today. It is your right; it is your privilege; it is your responsibility. And, if you don't vote in today's election, you aren't allowed to complain about any of the people who are elected today :-P
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Whew, I was sweating today on my walk. I must admit, though, I believe it had more to do with the temperature outside than with my exertion today.
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So yesterday Caleb walked all the way to the bus stop to welcome his brothers home. This led me to think, and Cody to say, "we need to get that kid some shoes." So this morning, off I went to our basement storage area, which is the first place I go when we need some new clothing item for any of our kids, to look through the available shoes. As I had suspected, Caleb's feet are too big to fit in our size 4 shoes (which means that he has big feet like his mama, poor kid). I found a pair of size 5s, which did fit, but Caleb didn't quite know what to make of them. He definitely couldn't walk in them, so he ended up staring at them for a while, as if to ask, "how did those get there?" I took pity on him and took them off, allowing him to head to the bus stop in his slippers again. Eventually he's going to have to learn to walk in shoes, but it doesn't have to be today.

Monday, November 3, 2008


We've been getting a lot of political flyers, leaflets and phone calls lately. I have to admit, I find this a little amusing, because IT'S TOO LATE. My husband and I have already voted, via absentee ballot. And I would take selfish pleasure in telling those people on the phone that, too, if only they weren't recordings.

Speaking of phone calls, his alma mater is trying to get ahold of my husband. They've called about 5 times, now, all at 8 p.m. Now I'm thinking that the reason they do this is because my husband is first on the list by virtue of his last name being alphabetically near the beginning, and up until 8 o'clock, they're calling all of the alumni who live in the eastern time zone, and then at 8 they switch to those of us who live in the central time zone. Now honestly, can't they figure out that 8 p.m. is not a good time to call? So this engineering student is sitting at his computer terminal with his little headset on, and it's 8 o'clock. He sees that Mr. S.B., BS ChemE, is first on his list and he thinks, "let's see, we've called this fellow at 8 p.m. five times now, and every time, we've either gotten his answering machine or his wife telling us to call back in half an hour because he's busy putting the kids to bed. Huh. Let's see if he's available." And I would ask if I would be a good enough substitute, but Scott always has better questions for the poor kids who draw the cosmic short straw and end up calling us. One time, the poor student called when there were 8 or 9 members of AZD in our house.

And speaking of time zones... Why? Why do we put up with this daylight savings time nonsense? I've heard that the reason we do daylight savings is because it saves money on energy costs, and that the reason daylight savings time has been extended now is because it's saving us even more money. So my question is, why don't we just stay on daylight savings time all the time? Time is a relative concept anyway, so who cares what time we call it?

And speaking of time...time for me to do the laundry.
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