Friday, December 29, 2006

Forever Friends

Yesterday was a great day. A group of friends and sorority sisters all got together. This is the first time in years that we have all managed to be in the same place, at the same time, with all our kids and our hubbies. It was a great day. We, too, have a blog, but it's not the same as actually being together.

Love you girls! College and life would never be the same had you not been there beside me. Whether good, bad or mischeivous times...they were great!

(cw)Me, Connor, Ben, Katie, Austin, Tim, Sam, Elana, Max, Nik, baby Katie, Cindy & Jessa
Jeff and the boys have some quiet time

Katie, Kevin & Jessa and Me getting my baby girl fix

Too much to do and too little time

I had a nice post all writeen on Wednesday and then my server crashed. Let me get a quick update on here for all my faithful visitors.

Saturday we had Christmas with the Rems, then we had dinner at Kelli's. Sunday we had Christmas with my dad's family. Monday we had Christmas morning with the in-laws then off to my mom's house. Needless to say it was a hectic few days. The kids got way too many toys, and had to de-tox, but they seem to be doing better now.

I hope you all had great holidays. Here are some pictures from the weekend.

Connor, Carli, Allison, Ben & Austin

Cowboy Connor and Cheerleader Austin...glad I passed something onto my boy!

They had fun playing with Carli and Allison's dress up stuff...all except Ben who wanted NOTHING to do with it! Yet he thought the tea set we got for Ashely was 'cute'. Actually his exact phrasing was 'that's so cute!", but he refused to have tea with her.

Ben with Big Papa and my three boys with their new hats...Jimmie Johnson, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine.

My BIL Eric with our very full Christmas tree and reindeer Elmo.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

First, I'd like to take a moment to wish all my visitors a very Merry Christmas. I hope you and yours have a safe, joyous day.

Second, I wanted to share the best Christmas present I think I have ever received. A good friend of mine from college served in Iraq over a year ago. While he was overseas, I had the chance to email live with him on a few occasions. During one of our talks he mentioned that his squadron was flying flags during missions. He asked if our family would like a flag flown for us. I, of course, jumped at the chance for a piece of history that would show my strong support for our troops. Now whether you support the war or not, I feel it is vital to always support our troops who are doing their job to protect and ensure a safe future for our children and grandkids.

Tom has been home from Iraq for a little over a year and left the Corp about a year ago. I admit I had kind of forgotten about the flag. Well, today I arrived home to find Priority package in my mailbox. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found our flag and a certificate stating it was flown for our family by VMFA(AW)-224 Fighting Bengals on June 30, 2005.

I am so excited to own a piece of history and to know it was tied to my friend Tom. Tom, if you are reading this, thank you so much...not only for the flag but for serving our country! Love ya!!

Yes I know I have some work to do on folding, but I will get the fold right and get it in a shadow box to protect it. Then I just need to find a proper place to display it.

We have a busy few days ahead, but I will be sure to post an update of our holidays when I can.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Donate Blood

I gave blood today...have you given recently?

You never know who's life you could be saving.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Sweet Respite

I think I finally have found some time to write a post. Generally the end of my work year is kind of slow and most of the engineers are out for the Holidays, but this year, we keep getting hit left and right with work. By the end of the day I am exhausted and the last thing I want to do is go home and get back on the computer.

Last weekend Jeff helped his brother install a laminate floor at his girlfriend's new house while the g-friend and I went shopping. It wasn't supposed to work out that way, but at least my shopping partner was more enthusiastic then Jeff would have been. Sunday Jeff and I went to Melodies of Christmas. If you are local and have never been...GO! It's for a great cause (Albany Medical Center's Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorder Center) and all the performers are fabulous. We had a great time and it helped put me in a festive Holiday mood...of course that mood was squashed as soon as Monday rolled around :)

Monday I got to go to Connor's pre-school for a cookie decorating party. I have only been in the classroom one other time and that was his first day of class. It was strange to see him interacting with his peers (and not just his brothers). He is 6-12 months younger than most of the other kids, but he seems to be doing really well. His OT in particular was commenting on how great it was to have him in her group sessions. They work with a lot of food activities...making and eating different tastes and textures and she said what a great role model Connor is because he will try just about everything. I truly don't know where that kid puts all his food...he's such a skinny boy....certainly doesn't get that from me :) But the cookie decorating was a really fun, if messy, experience. Poor Connor didn't want me to leave though. He thought that since I was at school then I was taking him home...he keeping saying 'don't like work, Mommy no work'. Poor kid! I also just got his IEP report in the mail and he's doing great!

Ben also just got a report card. He is also in a class with kids that are 6-12 months older than him. His Mema had a space in her 3's class and invited him to join in. As you can see below (click on the photo to enlarge) he is doing fabulous! And the areas that he is not doing so well in are really tasks that are beyond him at this point, so we are not in the least worried.

I will have to wait until I get home tonight to see Austin's report card, but I am guessing he is doing well also. AND, he's trying really hard with the potty lately. The doctor's keep telling me this is separate from all his other issues, but it is so frustrating. For the longest while he just had no desire, but the past week or two he has really been trying. Of course we keep using the fact that Santa is watching him. I guess we'll have to switch over to the Easter Bunny soon!

We have plans to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Friday...dinner with my brother in law's girlfriend's family on Saturday and then my dad's family on Sunday and then my in laws and my mom's family on Monday. It's going to be busy.

Well, I guess that's case I don't get back on here...I hope everyone has a great it Hanukkah or Christmas or Kwanzaa. If you are safe!


P.S. Great news...Sarah should be headed home on the link to her site at left.

Friday, December 15, 2006


After 6 years of eager anticipation...the president of our company is FINALLY retiring. Aside from the 'ethical' differences I have had with him over the years, he's old and just doesn't have the mental ability to help our company move forward into the next generation. We have been bought out by a UK based company, who is well know for their skill and business acumen. We have also learned they are GREAT to their employees. So much better than the Christmas bonuses we didn't receive this year!!

Have a drink for me in celebration!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Could You? Would You?

I know I said I need to stop reading the news...and I found a fair number of reasons to yell at MSNBC today, but I also came across this.

The Hualapai Indians in Arizona are building a Skywalk. A 70 foot cantilevered glass bottom walkway overhanging the Grand Canyon, with a 'view' of the Colorado River 4000 feet below.

The engineer in me is excited and amazed by the prospect, but the mom in me says no way, no how. I am a thrill seeker. I am a roller coaster junkie and I am not afraid of heights, but I think 'heights' only refers to when you can see the ground. And yes I know you can see the ground from 4000 feet in the air, but it's really not the same thing.

I think this will be something I will admire from afar.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Note to MIL

Note to MIL- I hope when you read the title to the previous post, you didn't think I was refering to Austin being asked to leave school yesterday. I support your decision and he seemed properly chastised regarding it. He awoke from his nap stating he wanted to go to school on Wednesday and that he would behave and follow directions.

Note to others- Austin's mema is his nursery school teacher. When he wouldn't cooperate and engage in the required activities yesterday he was removed from the situation. Unfortunately I think the real problem is he is still not potty trained. The other boys have noticed and commented on it. I think this upsets Austin. At first I was upset that the boys were commenting, but I have decided that perhaps a little peer pressure will help this situation. Austin is not incapable of going potty in a toilet. He can do it, WHEN he wants and on his terms. Unfortunately, he is choosing not too. Although I have seen an increase in his desire to use the potty since the 'peer pressure' began.

I am open to advice from others on this situation.

4 year old Suspended

This is going to far. What is our society coming to when a 4 year old boy is suspended from school for hugging a teacher's aide? The original letter to the parents from the school district stated he was involved in ' "inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" after he hugged the woman and he "rubbed his face in the chest of (the) female employee" on Nov. 10 ' After the boys father complained the school district removed references to sexual contact and sexual harrassment.

What 4 year old even know what sexual harrassment is? And how is a hug from a 4 year old ever inappropriate? If the teacher has concerns with a child touching her, perhaps she SHOULDN'T BE A TEACHER! I understand that at a young age you need to talk to your child about inappropriate behavior, such as, hitting and physically harming others, but hugging?!?

As I mentioned this to a co-worker he related a story about a male friend who drives a bus. One day he helped a little kindergartener up the steps and the mother threw a fit. Again, he was being gentlemanly and he gets chastised.

I understand this country is a melting pot and we need to respect others, but there comes a point when PC goes a little too far. I could go on and in point, the removal of Christmas trees from Sea-Tac airport.

I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I should stop reading the newspaper and internet news. I find myself yelling at inanimate objects. It can't be healthy!


I read this article yesterday on debt to income ratio. While it may seem straight forward on how to calculate it, I found the ratings interesting. I thought I would share.

Add all your monthly debt obligations (using minimum monthly payments for credit cards) and divide it by your monthly gross income.

If you are under 36%, you are in great shape. If you are between 37-42% you are in an acceptable range. If you are in a 43-49% range you have too much debt and if you are over 50%, you are in trouble.

I haven't gotten up to courage to calculate our situation yet :)

Monday, December 11, 2006


Blogger Beta transition much easier to modify the template...wish I had done this sooner!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Autism Legislation Passed

I was hoping to blog over the weekend, but time just got away from me.

On Friday I read an article in Newsweek. It is regarding the Combating Autism Act which cleared the House last Wednesday. The bill authorizes nearly $1 billion in research, a national public awareness campaign and early screening programs for each state to diagnose and treat children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

This is phenomenal! When we first started noticing Connor's delays I went to the Ped. I get the feeling that she thought I was slightly exagerating. But she trusted my opinion that an Early Intervention evaluation was needed. When we felt an appointment with a Developmental Ped was necessary, she again trusted my opinion. It was determined that he had PDD-NOS. Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a behavioral disorder of speech, communication, social interaction, and repetitive type compulsive behavior. There are five types....Asperger's, Autism, Rett's, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and PDD-NOS.

Had I not been pro-active, I wonder how long it would have taken to get Connor diagnosed and treated? Would we have just assumed he was a little slower than his brothers? Would he have made it to a mainstream school and been pushed aside because he was slower? That's the real concern. How many kids in the public school are seen as slow, or dumb, or 'retarded', when in actuality they may have a Pervasive Developmental Disorder. This bill will help identify those kids at a younger age. If treated, these kids have a lot of hope for improvement and will be more able to mainstream into a typical classroom.

As the parent of a child with a pervasive developmental disorder, I stood and cheered this news. I do a lot of silent grumbling about our government, but for once I am excited about a useful piece of legislation. I just hope it's not too late for some kids.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Why is it that the last month of the year, when most of my fellow engineers are on vacation for the last 4 weeks, we are the busiest. Everyone saves their vacation time, but they are also trying to use up the last of their budgets. So us poor saps who are stuck at work get bombarded with requests. I hate it!

On a more positive note, I managed to win 10th row tickets to the Trans Siberian Orchestra performance. I was just telling my neighbor last week that I would love to go. She already has tix since her step-dad is a tour manager for the West Coast TSO tour. Now we can all go together!

Kids are sick again...another round of Amoxy. Of course they love the stuff so they don't mind. I just would like healthy kids for Christmas.

Our friend Sarah is back in the hospital after a visit to the ER and a harrowing ride up the Pike. Stop over to her site and send some positive thoughts their way.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I have added multiple posts today, so be sure to scroll down.

2 last pics from this weekend.

Breakfast with Santa at the firehouse and Connor after dinner

Out-Teched- take 2

I just posted the story about Ben and the remote. I decided I 'd quickly download all the photos I took this weekend and had a surprise waiting for me.

Saturday afternoon while the kids were napping, I was helping Jeff with some of his homework. He'd been taking photos of some of his machined parts and the camera had been left out. Shortly thereafter I feel asleep on the couch. I think the camera had been on the table next to me. Well the kids woke up and obviously found the camera. 17 pictures later, I remember waking up and finding the camera next to me on the couch. I assumed I must have somehow turned it on in my sleep. I guess not.

There were lots of finger pictures, but these are a few of the best.

A self portrait...I can't even tell if it's Ben or Connor! :)
And a pic of Austin and last, but not least, the ceiling

Out-Teched By a 2 Year Old

We have multiple components hooked up to our TV...a VCR, a dual receiver DVR, a DVD, a stereo receiver and a CD player. It got to the point it required three remotes to watch something. We finally bought a (very expensive) universal remote. It made our lives MUCH easier.

Well on Saturday, while Jeff was at work, the boys were watching a show on the DVR. I slipped into the other room to eat a donut (w/o the help of kids) and overheard Ben asking to watch the Rudolph DVD. The next thing I know Austin is screaming. Ben got the remote and switched from the DVR to the DVD to watch Rudolph. Austin was not happy. BUT...the point is, it required Ben to first hit the activities button, then the watch a DVD button and then start up the DVD when the menu appeared. Most adults that visit our house need WRITTEN instructions on how to use the remote, but not Ben!

I think we are headed for trouble with that one...he's a little too smart for his own good!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Parent Teacher Conference

Probably the quickest conference ever because they were running over 30 minutes behind schedule...but in sum...they all LOVE Connor (I have to admit he is the sweetest little boy). They think he is making wonderful progress, and expect even more from him when he starts attending full time in January.

It was such a hard decision to put him in an integrated classroom. After all we had been through with Austin, no one had ever suggested he go to an integrated class. Maybe it was because he started therapy at a younger age, or perhaps it was that by the time Austin was 'of age' for a classroom setting he was doing MUCH better. So when it was brought up with Connor, we weren't sure what to expect.

I am so glad we went forward with it. He is the baby of the room. He started at 32 months and most kids were already three and four, but the teachers feel that he's working at an appropriate level. It look forward to even greater progress at our next meeting.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Good News

My friend's daughter Sarah headed home from her 2+ month stay in the hospital. See her her link to the left.

The other bit of good news is our Christmas present has arrived...our laptop. I can now blog much more easily from home!

Adults Only

The adults had the chance to get out this weekend...although I think my Jeff and Rachel had the most fun!

Morgan & Rick; Rachel's own personal pitcher

Rachel, Chris and Jeff & Nadene
My Jeff


Some pictures from the past week.

A woodpecker eating my willow; and the boys playing choo-choos

Ben & Austin handcuffed themselves, great use of Austin's police kit from Aunt Cindy & Uncle Andy
My littel Injun playing the organ
No more pie! Connor after his third piece on Thanksgiving! And celebrating Big Papa's 82nd b-day!

I See Dead People

Well, not me personally...but we think Connor might.

A few weeks ago Connor came home from Aunt Karen's house asking where Anna was. We asked if he meant Nana and he said 'No, Anna'. So I went to he school notebook to check his class list...and no Anna. We don't know an Anna, so we let it drop.

Last week he was at Aunt Karen's and was asking about Anna. My cousin Morgan asked him some questions about Anna, what color hair, glasses, how tall, etc. He pointed to a picture way up on a shelf and said 'Anna'. Now this picture had 4 people in it...none that Connor knows. So Morgan takes the picture down and asks Connor to point to Anna. He points to Karen's mother who passed away about 3 years ago...before he was born!

We are a little freaked out, but if 'angels' are watching over him...I am not one to complain.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


It only took weeks of calling, but I finally heard from the genetics counselor last Wednesday...of course I was Christmas shopping in a crowded mall and had some hearing issues, but it was a good conversation. I think we are finally making headway.

Connor's testing for VLCFAD (very long chain fatty acid) was negative. We were pretty sure of this, but just wanted to cross it off the list.

We also discussed testing of Connor for Tuberous Sclerosis. The geneticist and I have been butting heads on this issue for 6+ months. I even have the neuro and developmental peds on my side. We know both Jeff and Austin have a mutation on the TSC2 gene....I am clear. Science has so far not proven that it's a disease causing mutation. Jeff is symptom free and has no outward clinical signs. However, I feel he should have a brain MRI and an ultrasound of his kidney, liver and heart just to make sure. It is VERY common for TS to go undiagnosed because symptoms can be so mild. Austin has no outward signs but has the IS and the brain lesion. Granted it's only one lesion. His ultrasounds were all normal at 24 months of age. But I feel like we should continue to do ultrasounds to be sure. Besides, the only drug that keeps his seizures at bay is a TS drug. A drug that a lot of doctors won't use unless they have already proven a person has TS and seizures.

Then we go further into Jeff's family tree and there are more family members with EEG abnormalities, possible seizures, possible narcolepsy and a great uncle with a brain mass. This brain mass is what interests me most. It appears on a CT scan as a mass of dead cells the brain has grown around. Since the beginning with Austin, before we even knew about great uncle's mass, they have said that Austin's brain will eventually 'grow around' the lesion. This sounds just too similar to ignore.

Now we move on to Connor who has PDD and no outward clinical signs. Mental impairments are a common factor for TS patients. I think the next logical step is to have Connor tested for TS. The geneticist disagrees. I feel even though science hasn't proven this is a disease causing mutation, that there will always be that first patient and that first case that proves a scientific theory...and while I know my family is one in a million, I didn't want to prove it this way. But I also don't think it should be ignored.

So moving onto my point. In the call with the genetics counselor, she said that the dev ped and the geneticist are meeting in early 2007 to discuss a few patients and in particular to discuss this TS testing with my kids. I am anxious for this meeting to occur. We have already scheduled our next appt for late January and hope Connor will be having the TS test done shortly thereafter. Until then, we'll keep waiting and wondering.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Glimpse of Austin

Jeff and I laughed hysterically when we saw this in Sunday's paper. It's not so much what he does, but his comment immediately afterwards.

Every time Ben or Connor comes running to us crying, we ask what happened and before we can get a response from them, Austin chimes in with either 'it was an accident' or 'it was a mistake'. This is followed by a stretch in time out for Austin. Because, throwing a truck at his brother's face, jumping on their backs, taking their toys and pushing them aren't what we consider accidents or a mistakes!

IT Help

Do I have any IT people reading this?? If so I have a question for you.

If you put a new version of a web application up for your compnay and it REPEATEDLY crashed over a two week period...does it not make sense to put the old version back into place until the bugs could be worked out??

Well my Big Company can't seem to figure out what to they just let us linger and continually send us apology emails. Did I tell you this is a business critical application? What good is an apology?!?! Just fix it!!

Monday, November 20, 2006


I am kind of in this Blah place right now...

I have no motivation to Christmas shop, I have no motivation at work (hence this post!) and I really don't have the motivation to do anything around the house. Perhaps it's the's finally heading towards winter and it's been raining for almost a week.

We aren't really doing much around here. We did attempt to take the three boys shopping on Saturday, but about 30 mins into it, we were questioning our sanity. We did nothing all day Sunday except watch Jimmie Johnson take the Nextel Cup... and patch a head laceration... which is becoming common practice around here. Although I have set a band aid mandate... no blood... no bandage.

Maybe I just need some time off... or maybe I need Jeff to be done with school. It's ruled our lives for 3.5 years now. I am so thankful he'll be done in 6 months.... not as thankful as him I am sure, he actually has to do the work...but it'll be a relief to have it done.

Jeff and I are taking Wednesday off to try and finish our shopping. I try so hard to be done before Turkey Day. I just can't bare the malls after then. I'll probably be offline until next until then...

Thanksgiving Blessings to all!

And a Happy belated Birthday to my brother Pat and my Aunt Karen.

Also to R & K- if I don't talk to you, good luck with the appt, let me know how it goes!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I Bit the Bullet

So I was sitting here gathering my thoughts for the appeal to the insurance compant regarding the denial of the EEG in Boston. I decided I wanted to call the local hospital to get a little more information on their video EEG process...hoping to find situations I found lacking to use as ammuntion in my appeal.

I got in touch with someone in the CNP lab (clinical neurophysiology). She answered a few questions and then referred me to Darryl, a nurse in the EMU (Epilepsy monitoring unit). After talking to Darryl and expressing my concerns and asking a TON of questions, I have decided to have the EEG done here in Albany. Yes the accomodations may not be quite as nice, BUT, I will only have to take one day off work and family can come visit and entertain him.

I hope I am not making a mistake...for two reasons. One, I don't want my insurance to deny our visits to the neuro in Boston since we are bending to their request to stay in-network this time and two, I hope this will be a pleasant experience. If it's not, then I have that much more ammuntion for the next time around!

It will probably be at least two months from now, unless they get a last minute cancellation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Valuable Lesson Learned

If you are taking a shower and your cell phone rings...either

a) don't answer it, no matter how important the call may be nor the fact that you have been waiting 5 hours for the call


b) if you do answer it, don't lean out and steady yourself on the towel bar, because the towel bar WILL break and send you careening headfirst onto the tile floor, thereby soaking EVERYTHING and bruising large portions of your body.

Can you tell which option I took?? And I missed the call!

Yes, feel free to laugh with me....

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


So it's been almost 3 week since we were supposed to go to Boston for Austin's EEG. I still haven't figured out what we are going to do. I am conflicted.

The insurance company wants us to stay home and have it done at the local hospital...but I am not sure I have faith in them. I called and talked to someone in the EEG lab. He said they only do ambulatories for 24 hour EEGs. I am not sure if that is the best solution. Austin has had 2 ambulatory EEGs from there. Both were supposedly normal. I say supposedly because those were the ONLY two tests that have ever read as normal. I asked the tech about the process for reading these ambulatory EEG's and if they pick up everything. He said a computer reads it and that it should pick up everything. On the other's so much more convenient.

Part of me feels like giving in to the insurance company and having an ambu test done...but what if it comes back normal again...when he hasn't had a 'supposedly' normal EEG in over 18 months and it was one of their ambu tests that said it was normal. I will not be happy if it turns out to be a waste of time.

I have a call into the neuro at Children's to get his opinion. As much as it's a hassle to travel 3 hours for an EEG, especially during the holidays, I want him to say that he'll be willing to fight the insurance company to get this covered. At the same time I need to talk to the neuro about the ERG, electro-retinography. This is for his peripheral vision. He is due this month but they generally schedule 3 months out. I am not pushing to have this done. Jeff and I both feel the possible peripheral vision issues are really a non-issue. It's more important that he is seizure free. Besides, I am not eager to put him under general anesthesia again after the last time. That said, I know the neuro is going to tell me it should be done.

So many decisions to make...and I just don't have the mental strength to make them. Any one have any opinions eaither way?? I appreciate the input.

On a more positive note...Connor is doing so well in his special needs school. The teachers love him and I always get great notes from them in his therapy book. I can't wait until his parent teacher conference though so we can talk more in-depth.

Ben is also doing great in Nursery school. He is at least 6 months younger than all the other kids, but he appears to be holding his own. I am so proud of him!


L: Nana & her boys...Aaron, Ben, Connor & Austin
R: Katelyn

Monday, November 13, 2006

Will Wonders Never Cease?

We don't have a home phone...just cell phones. We also have a BIG family...lots of people to talk to. Because of this, I am almost constantly on the phone, no matter where I am. It drives Jeff crazy. So Sunday... at about 5 pm, we were on our way home from a birthday party and I realized something. My phone hadn't rang all day, nor had I made a call. Unbelievable! The first call finally came at about 8:30pm, except I was already asleep...sorry to have missed you Mom!

Friday, November 10, 2006


We had a date last night! It's been a while since we have done that. The original intention was shopping for a new rug and getting some Christmas presents. However, I casually mentioned that perhaps we could eat at the new Cheesecake Factory. I said this knowing I already had cheesecake at home in my refrigerator, but Jeff did say he'd take me for my birthday. We never quite got around to it though. It was nice to be an adult and order a beer and sit and relax and not be mindful of what my boys were to Gram & Aunt Karen...thank you for keeping the kids, we had a FABULOUS night!

I may be 5lbs heavier today...but it was WELL worth it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Too Much, Too Little or Too Boring?

I know I haven't been posting. I am trying to decide if it's because I am so busy, or because there isn't enough going on to blog about or if it's all just so boring that I don't want to subject you to it.

Well subjected you are...

We had a pretty slow weekend for once. If you know me personally, I have a hard time sitting still. I need to constantly be doing something productive, even if it entails housework. On Saturday Jeff worked then we raked the backyard then we went shopping. The boys (aka the men) all played poker Saturday at our house until the wee hours of the morning (congrats on winning the pig Chris). So Sunday we got a late start to the day... and then did NOTHING all day until it was time for dinner with the in-laws. I mean I did a little laundry, but nothing. I kept thinking we should go out and look for a new area rug (which we started to do Friday), or work on some of the projects around the house that aren't done, but we didn't. I think I am happy about doing nothing....but it also means I have nothing to show for a whole day. I have issues with that.

On Saturday I got a letter from our insurance company stating that our medical plan was cancelled as of 10/1/06 due to non-payment. I had an inkling this was coming. It's happeneded before. So Monday morning I call the lab I work for and ask what's happening. I am told it will be reactivated by the end of the business day. Then we get an email from the owner stating that the new accounting system wasn't allowing them to cut checks so they had to 'de-bug' it before they could pay. BUT that it will be fixed and be retroactive. How convenient that the system couldn't cut checks, but it still found a way to subtract our medical premiums from our paychecks! Well, it's fixed, but I now have to wonder if the referral to Boston got denied because of this. Maybe they knew they had yet to receive payment and were reluctant to agree to $10K of medical bills?

Yesterday I had a day was a long time in coming. Not that I feel it's important to have Election Day off, but the owner is an immigrant who strongly feels that each and every American needs to do their "Civic Duty". Does he not realize it takes 10 minutes to vote...and that's IF you have to stand in line???

But it was still a day whole day of no work...well, there was work. I just said I can't sit still. I was still up at 4:45 to get the kids up and out of the house. And then I had an early morning trip to Target to buy Cars. That was followed by about 3 hours of raking leaves in my front yard. Of course my trees are still half full so I am in no way done with raking. The one perk was lunch with my baby that I could grill her on her college search. She's intent on staying near or at the same college as a sibling (there are six of us...and as of next year, four will eb in college)...but I am trying to get her to drop that idea. All three schools are within 1.5 to 3 hours away....she can really come home anytime to see siblings. She is just very unsure, but I don't want to to make a concession on her college choice to fit with a sibling.

Then it was off to the Peds office for three flu shots. Not a good way to end the day...for us or the nurses!

Two pics for you... Ben insisting on eating his bagel WHOLE and getting cream cheese everywhere and Karat praying he drops some of it down to him.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Higher Being?

I am a firm believer in fate and things happening for a reason. Even if I'm not happy how something turns out, I ususally find out later that there was some type of positive that occurred because of it. It's happened this way many many times in my life.

Today's case in point... I was reading Sarah's blog for a post-op update. I had talked to Jodi last week and she mentioned how Sarah was exposed to Pertussis. Come to find out, she tested positive even though she is symptom free. Not only that but Children's ICU, ER and 9N (the epilepsy floor) have all had outbreaks. Even the Boston Globe reported on it.

Well, as mad as I was that our insurance denied our visit last week, perhaps it was that Higher Being making sure that Austin would not get exposed. Kids with epilepsy shouldn't get the Pertussis vax and consequently, Austin never finished his series of shots. Plus when kids with epilepsy get sick, their seizure threshold is lowered, allowing for possible breakthrough seizures. I know kids that have had breakthroughs and never re-acheived seizure control after the fact.

So, do I 'thank' my insurance company or thank the Higher Being that steered us away from Children's last week? I think I'll thank the Higher Being.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh What a Night!

My little trick or treaters had quite a day and night. We started st the AFLAC Halloween party that Grandma Sandey's employer so graciously puts on for the kids then it was home for a quick bite of pizza then out into the neighborhood. The weather was great...if a little too warm. It got to just about 70 in the northeast yesterday and Mom was sweating by the time we were done, but the kids made out great...lots of chocolate for Mom in the coming days!

Ben, Austin & Connor Austin & Ben

Austin & Connor
Ally & Cousins Summer & Autumn
Carli, Enzo, Austin, Ally, Connor & Ben

I will put all the photos up on Ofoto if anyone wants to order prints.

Also, if you have a moment...say a prayer for Sarah as she undergoes her hemispherectomy today.

And one last note...Happy 1 year Seizure Free to Austin. I knew we would make it there again! Hoping this is the first of many.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Well it took about 3.5 hours, but the backyard is 95% free of branches. Of course as I was raking the side yard I realized none of the leaves belonged to my trees. I think they came from across the street. Is it wrong to blow them back over??

Stayed tuned tomorrow for Halloween pictures.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I'll Take 'Sick, Sick and more Sick' for $1000 Alex

Can I title my post Sick, Sick and more Sick again? Because I am sick of my kids being sick, I am sick of the weather and I am sick of my insurance company.

So on Saturday morning I realized my kids still weren't getting better, despite the antibiotic treatments. Ben had been on them for a full week and Connor had been on them for four days. Austin has been sick, but hadn't been into the Peds office yet. So I got an appt for all three kids. The dr listened and checked over B & C and then said he feels Amoxycillin itself is not enough to combat sinus issues. So, he put them both on Augmentin. Then he listened to Austin and checked him out. He said Austin sounded the best, but he has pink eye! Yeah, that's exactly what we needed on top of everything else. So we waited with the three kids in one small exam room for the scripts. I never realized how much damage kids can do in one small room in a short period of time. Thankfully Jeff came with me. I was considering taking them all myself. As it was by the time the dr came back with the scripts, his room was a mess and Connor had a beauty of a hematoma on his forehead from Ben's front teeth. I think the office was happy to see us leave. I am pretty sure the phone operators know me by voice when I call! I am surprised they don't have caller ID and just answer the phone..."Hi Jen, who is sick/hurt/needs a referral today?" But, by Sunday night they all seemed to be doing better. At least they were acting like they were better. So I guess it was worth it.

Secondly, I am sick of the weather. I spent the time I was supposed to be in Boston raking and cleaning up my yard. I'm not entirely sure why I did it, though. See, we have 2 willow trees and willows don't drop their leaves until late...meaning usually after the first snowfall in this part of the US. So I knew full well that I would have more yard work to do, but I wasn't expecting to have to do it so soon. Mother Nature decided to unleash winds on us yesterday...and I use the term wind lightly. There was nothing remotely windy about it, it was gusts in excess of 40 mph all day long, some even greater. My backyard looks like a tornado hit. I pity anyone who actually lives in tornado alley. I was going to post a picture...maybe I still will, but it just doesn't do it justice. I look at the ground and I wonder how anything is still in the tree. We have branches everywhere and if you aren't familiar with willows then you have to realize these aren't the type of branches that you can bundle, nor can you break them down and put them in bags easily, because they bend, they don't break and as soon as you release your grip on them, they spring back to their original shape. I suppose I shouldn't could be worse. The willow that straddles ours and the neighbors yard lost an entire segment of the tree. And these trees are 50+ feet tall. It's amazing that it fell on a path missing their house and their shed. You can guess what I'll be doing after work today. At least it is a pleasant mid-fifties and sunny...good raking weather.
Yeah, this just doesn't do it justice.

And last but not least I am sick of the insurance company. I got the denial letter over the weekend, now I have to sit down and write my appeal. I have a call into the neuro at Children's. I hope he came help me out somehow.

Well back to work...if you have a minute and are so inclined...please send good thoughts and wishes to our friend Sarah....a beautiful 3.5 year old who is having a hemispherectomy on Wednesday.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Here I Sit

Here is unfortunately my office desk at work, instead of Boston Children's. Yup, you guessed it, insurance denied the request for Austin's EEG. Well they didn't deny the request per se, the just decided not to cover it as an in-network procedure, meaning if I want to pay big bucks, I can have it done in Boston. They would prefer I had it done here in Albany. Granted, Albany is working on their neuro and EEG depts, but they aren't up to snuff yet. And they did misdiagnose Austin for the first 5 months of his treatment!

Right now my plan is to file and appeal, the problem is the scheduler at Boston said they are packed with appointments over the next few months. It could be January until they have an opening again. All the fight has gone out of me for today. Trying hard not to think about it.

On a more positive note, the police have caught the burglars. We do still plan to put an alarm in, but I can rest a little easier now.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Insurance Companies Are Supposed to Help, Right?!?

I know you need insurance, but why oh why do they have to be so difficult to deal with. Austin's EEG's are routine...we do them every six months. This is not new to the company. They have always approved them at an in network level, but this time they are being difficult. I have gotten calls from both the PCP's office and the billing office at Children's. They asked if I could call and figure out what the problem is.

So I call
Me: I am following up on a request for a 24 hr EEG. It is out of network but we are waiting for approval at the in network benefit level.
Utilization Mgmt rep: yes, we originally denied it and asked for more information. We just got it yesterday. A determination has not been made.
(now I KNOW the info was faxed on Friday!)
Me: So, this is scheduled for tomorrow, can I expect a determination today.
UM rep: mostly likely not today.
Me: How about tomorrow?
UM rep: possibly, but I can't promise it
Me: so what will it cost me if it's not approved
UM rep: let me transer you to a benefit specialist
Me: (Grrrr!) Fine

Benefits rep: How can I help?
Now does she want my real answer or my polite answer?? I go with polite...
Me: My son is having a procedure done out of network. So far a determination has not been made if it should be covered at an in network level. I am trying to figure out what it will cost me.
Benefits rep: well, you have 70/30 coverage, with a $1000 deductible and a $5000 out of pocket max.
Me: Can we talk actual dollars? The procedure is about $4000.
Benefits rep: It doesn't matter what it costs. We make a determination on what we think it costs regardless of what the hospital bills. So we may think it only costs $2000, and then the hospital can bill you the remaining $2000. But then we have to adjust for the 70/30 and deductible....

At this point I am about to lose my lunch, no wait, haven't had lunch yet...well, I am going to lose something.
Me: So you can't tell me how much?
Benefits rep: well if you had the procedural code and how much they are charging, I might be able to figure it out.
Me: fine I will call back

I truly think part of getting hired by these insurance companies is a training course of how to completely annoy the beneficiaries. Because I feel like anytime I call, I end up mad and with no answers.

So I tried calling Children's for a procedural code and cost and shockingly no one has called me back. So right now I don't even know if we are still going.

Stay tuned, it's got to get better...right?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Keep Heaping, I'm as Strong as Atlas

As if one kid on antibiotics wasn't enough, now I have two kids on them...Ben for his ear and Connor for his sinuses. The NP feels that three weeks is long enough for one little boy to suffer.

Let's add to that that insurance still hasn't finished determining if they are going to approve Austin's EEG that is scheduled to begin Thursday, which should be a no-brainer[he he get it brainer!] since they've approved the last 15 or so of them and oh, yeah, did I forget to mention the NIA (national imaging alliance) has decided to reject the referral request for his brain I forgetting there enough heaped on my shoulders right now?!?

No, then let's add in the recent neighborhood burglaries...and the strange car that Nay saw on the side of the road by our houses this morning...that should do it. Although the police claim they are close to arresting someone, he added in that locked doors and windows have yet to deter the thiefs! They are still breaking in in broad daylight, using front doors and windows. He also said they are avoiding houses with dogs that barked, but Karat isn't exactly a deterrant...for one, he doesn't bark and for two, he'd probably help them, as long as they pet him. He's cute, but the cheerios are drifting further apart everyday!

I think that's it, I'm still standing...good for today

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sick, Sick and more Sick

I hate cold season. We are generally a healthy house, but this cold season is starting out rough.

It started over two weeks ago with Connor, then Jeff got sick, then Austin got a little sick. We thought we were doing good, then Ben got sick and has a bad ear infection. Then Connor got sick again! Austin woke up all stuffy again yesterday and Jeff and I started feeling sick last night. This REALLY needs to go away! Especially with Austin and I headed to Boston on Thursday.

So I guess there have been a rash of robberies in our vicinity lately...and I don't mean 1 or 2 it's more like 20! Not that we knew this based on an article in the paper or a police report, it's just trickled through the neighborhood by word of mouth. This concerns me. How can we be good neighbors and watch for anything out of the ordinary, if the police aren't even telling us there is a problem?!?

I went to a conference for the Epilepsy Foundation on Saturday. Not only did we have the Chairman of the National Foundation there, but the new Chief of Neurology for Albany Med was there...and he's an EPILEPTOLOGIST!!! Finally, I think there is a leader in place there that has plans to FIX the critical ped neurology concerns in the area. I don't expect changes overnight, but he has a vision and it appears to be good! Also, it was announced that the National Epilepsy Foundation is coordinating a March on the Capitol to be held March 31, 2007 in the National Mall in DC. Finally a chance for those suffering from Epilepsy to be seen and heard...but is the government listening?? Let's hope so.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Contract workers

Quote of the stated by a fellow contract the boss of the company that we are contracted to:

"[Being a contract worker means] we have all of the reponsibility and none of the rights"

Yup, that about sums it up...

Monday, October 16, 2006


Sarah is out of the coma and doing ok right now!! That Monarch was telling me something!

Who Yanked the Rug???

Who just yanked the rug out from under me? Because someone did and I really don’t like it. I shouldn’t be surprised...really, we knew Austin was due for a video 24 hour EEG. I had called the neuro at Children’s a few weeks back to remind him about it. We are at the 6 month point again, but I hadn’t heard anything and I know Children’s neuro department is really busy. So Jeff and I had agreed that we were comfortable forgoing this EEG. One because he’s doing really well and two because you never like to think that something sub-clinical could be happening. But, the call came just before lunch today from the schedule person. She said ‘I have an opening next week, do you want Tuesday or Thursday?’ So, Austin and I are headed out next Thursday. It’s never a fun time. I mean would you like having leads glued to your head and stuck in a room for 24 hours? Not really, but we do what we have to do.

On another note...I just had a really weird (interesting?) experience. I walked out to my truck after lunch and a Monarch butterfly landed on my shoulder. I say weird because it’s getting chilly up here in the NE US. We are consistently getting into the 30s at night and I would think he would have headed south by now. But it’s also weird because Monarchs don’t tend to be a ...wait for butterfly! He he he. Enough cheesy humor...anyway, I am taking this as a sign that all is really well and I don’t need to worry. Perferably I am taking this as a sign that Sarah is okay even though Jodi hasn’t updated her site since Friday (see link at left). But either way, it has to be a good sign...right?

What a Weekend...

It started with a visit to the developmental ped on Friday with Connor. I have been ticking off the days until we got here. Dr B is the one who gave Connor his PDD-NOS diagnosis. Some people felt it was a rash decision on his part and that Connor was too young, but I felt it was valid based on his exam last April. However, the progress we have seen since then has been amazing. Dr B could not have been more pleased with Connor's progress. He could match 12 of 14 shapes (some obscure) and knew the names for more than the Dr expected. He knew his colors and could stack 8 blocks. He could have gone higher, but my shortey couldn't reach anymore. He could build tunnels with his blocks and choo-choos. For those with typical kids these may seem odd and useless criteria but they all hit on some part of the diagnosis. About all the dr could say was how smart he was and how far he's come. It'll be a few weeks until I get the actual reports with numbers, but cognitively he is well over the 3 age level. He does still fit some of the PDD profile so it won't be dropped at this time, but the Dr is certain the day will come that we will be able to drop the diagnosis. YIPPEE! The Dr's biggest concern is the amount of echolalia he still uses. This is the 'echoing of verbal utterances made by another'. He should be doing less and less of this and more proper speech, but it's moving along. He spent a lot of time 'singing' this weekend. Head & Shoulders, ABC song...but there are a lot of 'blanks' in the song where he knows what sound is supposed to be there but not what word. The Dr is also very interested in the tuberous sclerosis issues in the family. He would love to have Connor gene tested and get a brain MRI, but feels it's important not to put Connor under anesthesia. Even though the chances of the anesthesia causing problems is remote, it's just not something he wants to risk right now. So as with Austin, we will table the issue and revisit it at a later date. The other good news is he feels Connor is doing so well that we can wait for a year to come visit again!! YIPPEE! What a great way to start the weekend.

Saturday was mostly a lazy house work day...but Mom, Doug and Aunt Karen offered to babysit my sick kids so we could go out with friends in the evening. We went to the Great Escape to visit Liam the Leprechaun (aka our friend Vinnie!). The lucky leprechaun even got us to the front of the two hour wait for the haunted house...which wasn't very haunted. Thankfully we didn't have to wait two hours for the disappointment! We froze our tushes off, but had a great time.
Click pics to enlarge...
Liam and friends

Beer mug boys...Jeff L, Eric and my Jeff - we made them wear them into the restaurant after!
me and Jeff L...bad pic of me, but a really cool wig!

Well, as some of you may have guessed from the previous's that time of year again... another birthday. As one friend so nicely put it, yesterday was my 20+11 birthday...much nicer than my other friend who pointed out that I was 62 times older than her daughter who was celebrating her half b-day yesterday. And no one better do the math for my other friends daughter who was celebrating her 3 month b-day yesterday! But it was good. I slept in (until 8AM!!!) and was awoken to Happy Bdays from my precious little boys. Although by 9 AM I was no longer calling them precious. Not sure what the g-parents and Aunt Karen fed them the night before, but they were WILD! All day we were separating them. Can't tell you how many boo-boos I kissed yesterday! By 1 pm we had the kids packed in the car for a foliage drive...aka... time for the kids to take a nap and the rents to enjoy some peace and quiet! We had dinner with the in laws...yummy spaghetti and meatballs and of course b-day cake...where the kids continued their wild ways. By the end of the night we had more boo-boos, including a nice shiner to Ben's cheekbone!
Austin & Connor
Ben- BI- before injury

All in all, it was a good weekend...

P.S. Chris we hope you are feeling better :)