A Sigh of Relief

DD1 applied for a fifth state university over this past Christmas break.  The incentive was due to information gained that they give out generous scholarships for the right GPA and SAT score combination.  Last week we received the offer letter.  It’s two thirds of the cost of the year, and it’s renewable for a total of eight semesters.  They also, with the right IB test scores, accept more of DD1’s classes than the other schools applied to.

DD1 has yet to visit this campus (scheduled to go in two weeks), but she’s already embraced this as the final decision.  We won’t decline the other schools until after the visit, but none of us see a reason that this latest acceptance will be turned down.

We can finally afford college for DD1 without the prospect of her being saddled with mounds of debt when she graduates.  Our own financial goals won’t have to be sacrificed.  We won’t be carrying massive debt on our own shoulders.

The cost of public university in our state has quadrupled since DH and I graduated 25 years ago.  We were seriously sweating the prospect of $125,000 for college (teaching is a five year program at the top three schools in the running for DD1) just for one of our three kids.  DH set up a Go-Fund-Me, which apparently offended my husband’s uncle, who commented on the site that we could “well afford to put that kid through school”.  I’m glad he’s looked at our finances and done the math.  That’s a load off my back.  Need I mention that this same uncle has been in debt since well before I married into this family 23 years ago?

Anyway…we’re so immensely relieved.  DD1 is also planning on trying for a Resident Advisor position her second year, which would take care of the rest of the cost.  She’s elated and so are we.  Hopefully our son is paying attention since he starts high school next year.  I was starting to lose faith that good grades and hard work paid off.

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I Surrender

I’m tearing out my garden plot.

It’s never been a wonderful producer, but I’ve done what I could because DH offered the garden to me, in spite of his dislike for them.  He gave me a shady corner, but I didn’t want to look the gift horse in the mouth.  Recently he asked me if we could take it out.  I was going to try one more summer until today.

A year or two after our garden went in, the neighbors added a basketball court.  They poured a cement pad and painted the lines on it.  It’s in the corner of their yard just off of our living room.  We are in town on a 1/2 acre lot and our back yard shares border with their yard.  Our hearts sank when we realized what was going in.

In our early years of marriage, we lived in a large apartment complex with our apartment situated above the basketball court.  Every child who lived in the buildings spent their every waking moment in this space.  The boys would even pee in the bushes to avoid having to run home to do so.  We constantly heard bouncing balls and yelling kids.  When we started our house search, we paid attention to how many basketball nets were near the house for sale.  Homes were rejected without ever crossing the threshold, based on the numerous ball nets.

Fast forward to today, and a court located less than 100 feet from our living room.  Winter is now the most wonderful time of year.  We’ve even thought about spraying down the cement to render the court unusable even with heavy coats.  The incessant bouncing is bad enough – especially as this is the home of a youth pastor and we’ve counted no less than nine balls in play at once when a large group of teens is over.  The crucial thing not included in their basketball court was a net to catch the balls.

The neighbors actually cut a hole in their fence to make a gate to retrieve the balls.  Strange boys are often in our yard.  They’ll even stop to try to make the shot from our yard on their way back.

My garden, pathetic as it is, has suffered.

Last summer I had to reinforce the rabbit fencing with bamboo stakes because no one has ever used my garden gate when getting their balls out of my garden.  I added tall metal stakes to protect the beds from balls slamming into seedlings.  A couple of those are now bent at a pretty steep angle.

Today I looked out in my yard to see a strange boy looking at my garden gate.  It’s now broken.  I huffed outside to inspect the damage then saw the ball still in the garden.  I whipped it back into their yard.  Four boys just looked at me.  No one apologized for the damage.

So now I’m giving up.  My garden will come down soon.  A physical barrier along the fence line will be going up in exchange, however.  Something fast growing that forms a hedge.  We’ve been talking about it for two years.  While the plants are growing, they will be protected from careless kids as well.

The really sad this is that before the basketball court went in, we really liked these neighbors.

 

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A Jonah Day

For those who have never heard the term “Jonah Day”, it refers to Jonah being swallowed by the whale in the Bible.  I first (and maybe only) heard of this term while reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  Well, this is certainly a Jonah day for me.  I even tried to type Anne of Green BAGELS, for Heaven’s sake!

The day began poorly while I was unloading the dishwasher before school.  I reached into the cupboard to put away the largest of three nesting casserole dishes, when one of the lids jumped out of the cabinet and onto dirty dishes, the clean casserole dish, then my foot.  DH calls in to see if I’m okay, and there appears to be water on my toes so I sit down to investigate.  It’s not water. Socks are apparently good filters.

Soooo, I apply pressure to the bleeding foot while DH cleans up glass and DD2 fetches gauze, band-aids, and clean socks for me.  My son quipped that that’s the most dishes that any of us have broken at one time.  Our house enjoys a good laugh.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  The cat is downstairs, so I head upstairs with the vacuum cleaner.  (No animals are about to be harmed – I just try to be considerate of my senior cat’s nerves.)  I finish the master bedroom and realize that the girls’ rooms are both at a state where I can get the vacuum inside the door and actually do some good.  DD1 has been particularly bad with room cleanliness lately, so I’m nearly giddy with the opportunity.  I finish the big paths and whip out the hose.

Did you know that Dyson’s are incredibly powerful?  And earbuds are incredibly light?  I’m getting the hair and bits around the bed when shwoop!  ear buds are flying up the hose.  My husband came home to get ready for a dentist appointment to find me fishing in the vacuum and pitched in to help.  My Clorox wipe was dried up, but a little water brought it back to life and the ear buds are returned.

It might be a good idea to take the rest of the day off.

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Forward Momentum

Finishing the rug for DD1 gave me momentum to keep going.  The rug from old sheets is finished for DD2 and so is the cotton dress for DD1.  Finishing the dress gave me scraps for a quilt I’m making for DD1 to take to college.  I got the last three quilt blocks sewn, then had my daughter lay them out the way she wanted them.  Six blocks are purple, six are blue, and three are green.  One of the greens is a rather bright lime with darker green leaf sprays which my daughter wasn’t sure about, but playing it off of a cream solid toned it down and she ended up putting it in the center of the quilt.

She had to be reminded that these are all from scraps, needing a bit of acceptance in hues.  The girls were drawn to brighter colors back in the elementary school days, and I especially indulged that when it came to sleepwear.  I put strips of cream between each of the blocks to help the colors meld together better.  Laying the quilt out, it needs a few more inches, so I’m making a border of colored squares to run all around.  The squares are cut and ready to piece.  Once the top is all pieced I’ll set the quilt project aside and work on a dress for DD2.

My project stack only seems to grow, and I desperately need to keep the momentum going to reduce it.  My son wants to learn how to use the sewing machine and make a quilt out of fleece this summer.  He loves to make things, and is a bit jealous of DD2’s projects.  His quilt will be simple squares, preferably large.  I have a piece of fleece large enough for the back that I bought on Black Friday back when he wanted fleece pajamas, then changed his mind after the fleece came home.  We should be able to scrounge a good pile of fleece scraps to make a good share of the top with.

DD2 is starting to lose interest in 4H, and I won’t be surprised if she tells me that this is her last year.  This is her sixth year, and since next year is her senior year, we’ve talked about talking a couple of basic college classes on line to start getting a feel for if she wants to pursue a veterinary technician degree (it’s an associates).  I’m hoping that she can dual enroll through the high school through which she’s taking her vet science class.  We’ll find out about that after the SAT.  If she takes those extra classes, it will be a busy time.

Some day I’ll have time to make things for me again.  The days of sewing for the girls are coming to a close.  DD1 wasn’t happy to hear that, but growing up brings some realities.

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Something Fun

My middle daughter (currently home schooled/attending a veterinary science class through a local high school) got a fun letter this week.  She was invited to apply for the National Honor Society.  Her older sister was nearly spluttering as if she couldn’t believe it.  She looks down on us from her lofty IB nose on occasion.  It turns out that while DD2 does indeed meet the requirements to apply today, she probably won’t next year as we’ll be home schooling all day again.  She wouldn’t know any of the other members and would miss all of the meeting announcements as well.  She’s keeping the letter.  It’s always fun to be asked to join in on things like that.

I went through the catalog of events for our local nature center and my son and I will be attending a foraging class March 1.  He’s thinking of a career along the outdoor lines and I’ve been keeping an eye out for something that puts him in the foreground.  He’s been overshadowed this year with DD1 being a senior and all of the scholarship competitions and college talk.  Also, DD2 has this vet class (very special and cool), is attending the state level of a competition in April, and is beginning the college visits.  Even if she chooses not to attend, we want her to have the experience and exposure.

Back to my son.  I also found a class in mid March where you learn how to identify sugar maples, how to tap, and the syrup making process.  I believe there was a bit more but can’t recall what it was.  Later that night, there’s a full moon prowl, which DD2 will probably want to be part of and which we may simply do as a full family.

We’ve had some unseasonably warm temperatures and DH and I went for a walk the other evening.  Our hospital has paved walking trails which run through a wooded area, so it wasn’t muddy, and the kids are old enough to be home alone.  I made the kids pancakes and grilled cheese (odd combination, but the griddle is on so why not), and we walked then went to dinner for a date.  It’s nice to walk by ourselves now and then as one of the kids will usually park by DH and the other two will vie to be by me.  At times they all run ahead loud and crazy and scare away any chance of seeing wildlife, other than chipmunks.

I’m dreaming about getting seeds in the ground.  I think I’ll try more in pots this year, but will need to form hardware cloth domes for the pots to keep birds and animals from stealing the seeds.  They’ve started to leave my peas in the garden alone, but you just never know what they’ll go after.  I tried planting asparagus a couple years ago, but the roots were dug up and eaten.

To crown off the week, I had a call from my best friend yesterday.  She lives about 5 hours away and we don’t see each other very often, but they may be moving back in about a year.  That would be wonderful, but I don’t want to get excited until it’s in the works.  Things can change.

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Battling Aetna

Aetna has something within our prescription program they call Maintenance Choice.  It’s a misnomer.  Essentially, if a member of your household is on a “maintenance” drug, you get a slip of paper in the mail stating that you need to get it in 90 day chunks from CVS, or through the mail – I didn’t even pay attention to who that goes through.  If you don’t use one of these two options, you will pay full price for the medication.  Some choice.

We’ve run up against this before with my thyroid medication, but it was a non-issue. I asked my pharmacy and it turned out I was already paying full price so it wouldn’t change anything and I kept my own pharmacy.

Now my daughter is on a blood pressure medication to help with her exercise induced PVCs.  She may or may not be on this medication beyond June.  Our current pharmacy has taken care of at least 95% of our children’s prescriptions.  There’s been an occasional free antibiotic from elsewhere, or a really late night need which only one place in town could fill at that hour.

Two of the pharmacists know me by name, one of whom has greeted my elsewhere in the store before I saw her.  The point is: they know my family’s history and nearly everything we’ve taken (for 17 years).  I want to continue to use the pharmacy which knows my family, but with this medication our cost will increase $20 a month if I continue with them.

I called Aetna and asked to be elevated as high I could go right away.  The person I spoke with was respectful and professional.  After about a week, the decision makers came back with “no exceptions”.  They sent along the message that there is a CVS within four miles of me.  I responded with the fact of that being beside the point.  It is on the complete opposite end of town from everything else I do, but location was not the deal breaker.  Thank you for listening, Aetna Powers That Be.

Apparently, I am now at a dead end with Aetna.

That said, I still have a voice.  I can still post my story and share it with whosoever wishes to know more about Aetna.  They are a cold company which does not care about anyone’s health.

Aetna is quick to tell me that my children haven’t received flu shots or the HPV vaccine.

When my son was two, his pediatrician prescribed the use of a nebulizer (sp?).  The word asthma was never spoken or written, yet Aetna so thoughtfully sent us literature on asthma control.

We’ve received other unsought advice from Aetna.  If they haven’t noticed, we do go to the doctor when needed, and the kids have had every recommended well check and all other vaccines.  We are intelligent people who can make decisions based on conversations with our doctors, and research of our own.

Aetna is very quick to poke their nose in our business, yet really don’t care to hear anything back.

Conversations don’t show up on the spreadsheets.

Education doesn’t tally up on the balance sheet.

Knowing what the doctor’s plans and possible treatment plans ahead don’t help make the line move further into the black.

A pharmacist who has a seventeen year history with a family doesn’t make a blip on an executive’s radar screen.

I understand that Aetna is a company who wishes to make a profit. I just ask that common sense not be thrown out the window as a sacrifice to the balance sheet.  Do Aetna executives have to live by the same rules?  Probably not.

 

 

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The Drama Continues

The other night we were in the living room when we heard a loud BOOM!  We didn’t know if something blew up or some kind of crash had occurred.  We looked in the basement (thinking about the propane water heater), we looked in the garage, we looked out on the street.  Nothing.  The next morning we found out what it had been.

Apparently, every 8-10 years the spring on the garage door will snap.  This is a new situation to us, but the repair guy said he fixes about 200 of these a month.  We had a rough time getting the door open in the morning when everyone needed to leave for school.  Two of the kids were on time and the third was only five minutes late.  So much more could have gone wrong.

I tried discussing my efforts to prep for the SAT with DD2.  I’ve got practice tests for the PAST which have step by step answers.  We are going through the math problems, looking at them without the answers first.  The object is to become familiar with how the writers of the test think and to learn how to eliminate some answers to make a good guess when you need to, and just to become more comfortable with the whole thing.  DH went on a doom and gloom tirade and said he didn’t know why I was bothering to even encourage her to take the test.  She sealed her fate a long time ago, apparently.  It went on and on and on.

He had a long, frustrating day, and he loves his daughter, but I can’t take these discourses of hopelessness.  I’m the one who manages home school, gets her to and from her vet science class, helped her through driver ed (along with an awesome teacher), and I’m the one who is the first line of defense on pretty much everything thrown at her.

I get tired of being the cheerleader, but I can’t take the speeches of hopelessness from DH either.  I try not to bring things like this up but we talk a lot and they pop out now and then.  Sometimes I need my own cheerleader to point out what I’m doing that isn’t so awful.  Sometimes I need to hear that DH thinks the effort is worth it and that he sees progress too.

Do I think she’s going to do awesome on the SAT?  No.  She does quite well on the practice English sections, but is a slow reader and doesn’t finish.  That will hurt her.  She’ll have to complete the writing portion, which isn’t likely to go well because she has a bias against writing.  Math practice isn’t the best.  The point of taking this test (in her case) is to simply keep the door of options open as much as we can.

It’s possible that her sensory processing disorder will send major anxiety to her and flush the test down the crapper…then again it might not.

I’m tired.  I’m looking forward to DD1 being finished with her IB diploma and all of her complaining that comes with it.  I’m looking forward to not being directly responsible for DD2’s education (one and a half years).  I’m not wishing away my children’s time here at home, I’m just ready to be relieved of a couple of big responsibilities.

 

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