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 complain...it 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 MRI...am I forgetting anything...is 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 day....as stated by a fellow contract worker...to 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 it...social 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 post...it'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 :)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Happy birthday, Jen! Hope that everyone is beginning to feel at least a little better for your birthday.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Troubles over

If you stopped by the site yesteday, you probably noticed I was having some technical difficulties. I attemped to alter my sidebar and in doing so, erased some important coding for the main page.

After a hour or two, I think I got it all back to the way it was. I did learn never to change any coding until it's been copied over. That way if I mess something up, I can revert back to the last working template!

I've got three sick kids and a sick husband...welcome to cold season! Not the way I envisioned kicking it off. Hopefully I can manage to stay healthy through it all.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


testing 1, 2, 3

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

As you know, Connor has PDD, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder. This is a broad category that includes Autism, Asperger's, Angelman's among others. He is currently receiving services paid for by the County Early Intervention program. At the age of 3 it becomes the responsibility of the school board to take over these services...IF they concur that the services are needed. It's always a little nerve racking to walk into these meetings because what if for budgetary reasons they feel your child doesn't deserve the level of services you are currently getting? We have been fortunate up til now that Austin has always received whatever we ask for, and then some. WEll, now Connor is approaching 3 and it's his turn to go before the CPSE (Committee on Pre-School Education). Well, not him but his current therapists and I have to go and represent him. We were fortunate again that they agree Connor can stay at Schonowe through the end of this school year, at their expense. Whew, one less thing to worry about! We will meet again in the Spring to determine if he is eligible for summer education services and to plan for next fall.

The next step is Connor meets with the Developmental Ped on Friday. I am anxious for this. He is the one that gave Connor the diagnosis. Some people question his decision at the time, but I felt all his points were valid. However, Connor has come a LONG way in 6 months. Can't wait to see what the Dr has to say. Keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If you are so inclined...please go over to Sarah's site (see 'other links' on left). She is not doing well at all. She is currently in an induced coma and is awaiting surgery to remove half her brain. Say a prayer for this beautiful little girl.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Well, 80 lbs of apples later...we have two cases of yummy homemade applesauce. My hands will be hurting for days from all the peeling...but it's worth it if you ask me.

Ben & Connor went apple picking with us and the boys behaved fairly well so Jeff and I could make all the sauce. Stinks that we missed such a beautiful weekend cooped up in the house.

Other than that...not too much has been happening. Connor and Austin had colds, but appear to be on the upswing. Here are some pics from the weekend.

Connor & Ben ready for apple picking...Ben in a pumpkin

At the orchard eating apples...Farmer Connor
Ouch $50 min! No problem, we completely understand. Now, can we get some input from everyone else...Noah, Joel, Phil, Paul...

Let's definitely try and get all the kids together when you come down this way again.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Jen, impressive pictures of the lift.

We are staying in Maine over Christmas. A 'before Christmas' visit may be on our agenda but we will miss the festivities in Niskayuna. I'd prefer not to do a drawing to try and keep the shopping manageable. Last year we skipped Christine's family drawing because it was too pricey for us ($50 minimum) but are being pressured to be included this year.

...almost time to get the kids in bed.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Having some issues with Blogspot today...let's try this AGAIN.

Jeff and Jeff L spent Saturday up in the trees. We had some limbs to trim and my tree swing needed to be re-hung. And, I got to use my new camera to photograph them! The boys had 'fun' when they weren't reaizing how high they were. The max height was about 34 feet. I offered to go up and do it, but then they would have had to deal with the kids :)

Here is Jeff putting pruning paint on some exposed tree. and hanging my swing

Jeff L taking a ride!

Connor had his first day of school today. He was great when we first got there...ready to play, chatting, but when Mommy went to leave...he was NOT happy. They were able to re-direct him to trains and I guess he did good after that. As usual, he didn't want to clean up though. Overall he had a great day!

He has on his Thomas backpack! He loves it.

Don't you just love the hair?!? I have given up on trying to 'tame' it! I can't follow him around with a comb and spray bottle all his life!
I am a sap...and I know it.

I cry over the littlest things...including babies, pretty days, movies and even commercials. The commercial that gets me every time is the Toys for Tots one where the little boy walks up to the US Marine and asks if he's Santa Claus. The Marine, on duty, appears to ignore him, but holds out his hand to receive the toy truck the boy wants to donate. I cry every time...I am even tearing up talking about it. I think it's the whole austere, respectful Marine and the sensitive little boy who just wants to help someone out.

Anyway...I appear to have passed this same sensitivity onto Austin. Which is not a bad thing, I am proud I am raising a sensitive little boy...even if Jeff is slightly amused by it all. Let me explain...

On Saturday Austin didn't get his nap. He was overtired and cranky. Homeward Bound: An Incredible Journey came on the Disney Channel. It's about two dogs and a cat who try and make their way back to their owners, two little boys and a little girl. Austin kept wanting me to sit and watch it with him, but as usual I was busy with laundry, dinner and everything else. After dinner (which Austin would not eat because the movie was on) I agreed to sit with him. It was just about over as I sat down. The family was standing outside their house when the first dog comes racing over the hill...only to be greeted by the ecstatic little boy. The older girl and oldest boy watch on, hoping their pets are following. A few moments later the cat comes racing over the hill and the little girl scoops him up, all smiles. This leaves just the oldest boy waiting for his dog...and nothing...no more animals coming over the hill. The boy, acting strong, gives a 'speech' about how it's okay, his dog Shadow (who looks exactly like Karat) is old and he just couldn't make it. Now, I would tear up anyway, but Austin starts balling, tears rolling down his cheeks. I try my hardest to comfort him and tell him it'll be okay (as Jeff stands in the kitchen shaking his head at the two of us!), but I am crying now too. Just then the dog comes limping over the hill and the oldest boy runs to him, hugs him, tears flow...fade out.

Now Austin is crying even harder and manages to say... "This is a great movie...I love it". Followed shortly by..."Can I watch it again?"...

Not sure I can handle it.

Can someone pass the tissues please? See I can't even tell the story without tearing up.