Archive for August, 2011

So proud of Andrew

Andrew is making great strides in the areas of honor, attitude, and initiative!  I’m really pleased that he is becoming quick(er) to repent, he’s a lot less disrespectful than he used to be, and he’s taking ownership of completing his daily checklists.

Way to go, Andrew!

My grocery decisions

In light of these self-evident truths:

1.  Wal-Mart’s produce leaves much to be desired.

2.  Harter House has generally good produce at generally high prices.

3.  Country Mart has generally good produce at extremely high prices.

4.  Most pre-packaged goods are much cheaper at Wal-Mart.

5.  The Harter House weekly specials that begin on Wednesday of each week are unknown to me (and therefore cannot be planned for) until Thursday’s mail runs.

6.  Harter House is 12 miles from home.

7.  Country Mart is 10 miles from home.

8.  Wal-Mart is 8 miles from home.

9.  Wal-Mart rarely has in stock at any given time the full list of things I’d like to buy there.

10.  Wal-Mart’s strawberries must be eaten the day they are purchased.

11.  No matter how much fruit I buy at any given store on any given day, it will be too much and some of it will go bad before we eat it.

12.  No matter how much fruit I buy at any given store on any give day, it will not be enough and we will run out of some of it before I get to a store again.

13.  Someone will want something from the store I just went to, right after I get home.

14.  I YEARN with deep longing for the days when I shopped at the grocery and at Wal-Mart on the same day, only ONCE a week. . .

My current plan is to go to Wal-Mart once a week and Harter House once a week.  When and how to do this with minimal trips away from home is yet to be determined.

Too bad I didn’t have my camera

On yesterday morning’s walk there was a green heron standing on three square inches of dryness on a rock in the creek.  He was quite handsome standing there, but when he flew, he was dazzling.

On this morning’s walk there was a (juvenile?) great blue heron standing in (for him) knee deep water, doing what great blue herons always seem to do when they aren’t flying:  absolutely nothing while executing an excellent statue imitation.

It takes me about 35 minutes to do my full walk, and Mr. Great was standing there on my first pass over the creek.  I go over and back three times, so there would be six creek passes.  I could tell he wasn’t yet full-grown, because unlike adult GBHs, he did move a bit from time to time.  I watched him slowly swing his goose-neck around almost backwards to look at some unseen something on shore.  On the fourth pass, he took a few long-legged steps.  How elegant!  But on the fifth pass – oh, my.  I spied Mr. Great eating a striped fish!!!  It was yellow and black striped, and although I didn’t get to see him grab it out of the water, I did watch his wrestle a bit with it in his very length beak and then swallow it whole.  Wow!

On the sixth pass, he bent his knees slightly and lifted off, gliding downstream under the bridge.  Sometimes you just have to envision a memory, without the benefit of film (or an SD card).

The world of self-pay

Now that I have joined the ranks of the uninsured, going to the doctor is a whole ‘nother ball game.  I think I rather prefer it, actually.

I told the lady at the front desk that I no longer had insurance and that I’d like to do anything possible to get the charges as low as possible.  She told me to pick up the phone and call registration and tell them I was self-pay, which I did.  I also asked the registration lady if there was anything that could be done to lower the rate, and she said she didn’t know ANYTHING about that and that I’d have to talk to the doctor.  That struck me as odd, because the doctor never seems to know anything about what various services cost!

So I gave my body to be examined, poked, prodded, sampled, and drained in many different ways, and when I went to check out, I told the exit lady that I needed to give her some money and if I promised to bring her chocolate chip cookies or something, could she lower the bottom line because I’m a self-paying patient.

“Oh!” she said.  “Does the doctor know you’re self-pay?”

“Umm. . . I’m not sure.  I don’t think I mentioned that to her.”

“Well, you should ALWAYS mention it to her, because that would help.  You know, she sees SO MANY patients and she can’t remember them all.”

Noted.  I apologized.

Then Roxanne spent nearly the next ten minutes trying to figure out what to charge me.  It had to do with which code did or didn’t include a Pap, and whether the doc knew I was self-pay, and something else that had to be looked up and about which phone calls had to be made.  She was very kind about the whole thing, and when it was all said and done and she added up the charges for the annual exam with Pap, A1c, comp (other blood work), lipid panel (nearly expensive enough to panel one’s breezeway, and lesion removal (had to have a wart re-frozen – ouch!), I was tempted to feel faint.

Then she told me that she had been instructed (by the doctor, I’m assuming) to subtract 30% from the total.  Wow!  Now, I was thinking that it wasn’t too hard to multiply in my head a rounded version of the total by .7 to get a rough estimate of the final charge, but she had to do it on a calculator; and not just any garden variety calculator.  She was using the calculator feature on her computer, and evidently it was quite cumbersome.  She went at it over and over, without success, and even though she was a quite friendly lady, she was beginning to get a bit frustrated.

I had the figure in my head to within $10, so I knew that if she was too far off I’d catch it, but it was taking her so long to wrangle with that blasted calculator that I had time to scribble the cost x .7 math on my exit paper.  With an exact figure, I waited to see what she’d come up with.  Still no success from the ACME calculator of science, so I worked it again; this time cost x .3, and then subtracted that value from the cost.

Same answer, so I knew good and well that I was right.  About this time, sweet Roxanne said with a note of exasperation, “Well, let’s just do it the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper!”  Which she did.  But she had a hard time with the borrowing on the subtracting part.  I graciously failed to inform her that she could’ve avoided the subtraction completely by multiplying by .7.  I’m nice that way, you know.

She rounded the change to the clinic’s favor, but what’s a dollar when you’re talking hundreds thereof?  We agreed on a number, and she ran my credit card, and St. John’s Physicians and Clinics will not have to do one iota more of work related to billing my visit.  They should be very happy.

Furthermore, since medical care has officially entered the 21st century, I have already this afternoon received an stating that my urinary microalbumin is (as desired) less than 2 milligrams per liter.  O, the joys of titration!  I’m really glad I didn’t have to relinquish a whole liter for that bit of information to be determined.



How I hate the fluoride

I had a dental appointment today for a checkup and cleaning.  I’m not too keen on that sound saber cleaning stuff, especially now that he digs halfway to China down below the gumline.  I yelp with my mouth full of hands, mirror, and stun gun, and he says, “You know why that’s so sensitive, right?”  “Hrrzzhat?”  “It’s because your gums are receding.”

Lovely.  My dentist is about my age, and I told him that it really doesn’t seem fair that at a mere fifty years of age, my:

~ gums are receding

(now I know why only old people use toothpicks – sigh)

~ eyes require trifocals

(and the prescription I got a mere ten months ago has been off for a couple months now)

~ temples are graying

(but not evenly – the right’s definitely ahead by a nose – and what’s with THAT?!?!?)

~ hearing is shot

(at least according to my kids, although I can’t hear them say so)

At least I didn’t have any new cavities!  But I do have three old fillings that need to be replaced (sigh).  That will require another visit to the rock ‘n’ roll and  motorcycle house of fame, but at least it won’t involve fluoride.  I’d honestly rather get an injection and have my teeth drilled than deal with that nasty fluoride.  It gets on my tongue and gags me like crazy, and then I can’t get up out of that chair fast enough to rinse.  O, how I hate it.

This time the assistant (Ron, his brother) applied the fluoride, and I asked if we could do it standing up by the sink.  He laughed and asked if I could sit in a chair.  Which I did.  With the suction device in hand.  It was still quite bad, and Ron couldn’t believe how much I gagged.  He was terribly apologetic and so was I.  He said maybe next time we’ll do the swish-it-around-in-your-mouth routine.  I can’t imagine that being any worse on the gag reflex, so I told him I’m game.

My theory is that God only intended certain things to land on my tongue, and fluoride wasn’t one of them!


I remember those days

Today Jessica asked me for some help in solving a certain third-degree algebraic equation.  I looked at the problem for a few minutes, then did the only possible things I could do to the equation – to no avail.  I then tried tackling it from another angle, with the same result.  I found this to be quite discouraging and fairly reminiscent of my ninth grade year of horror and tears in Algebra 1.

I spent that year dreading algebra class during the day and crying over algebra homework at night.  Just about every night.  I hated to fail, and because I didn’t understand how to work the problems, I knew I would fail.  This was completely unacceptable, so for the first and only time in my life, I cheated on a test.

The teacher – I can picture him and his one glass eye clearly, but I can’t remember his name – handed out the tests and left the room.  I struggled through the first couple of problems (problems which I had NO idea how to work) and then turned around and copied the answers from the mathematically brilliant guy who sat behind me.

Imagine my total shock when the tests were handed back.  He got an A and I got an F!!!  It had never occurred to me that there could be different test forms. . . duh.

So today, when I had no earthly idea how to solve this rather simple looking equation, I pulled out the Saxon Algebra 2 book and looked through lots of lessons and lots of examples, but I couldn’t find anywhere in that book or its index where it taught how to solve third-degree polynomial equations.  I’m not saying it doesn’t teach that; just that I couldn’t find it.  So – VERY frustrated with myself – I gave up.

Until Katie chatted me.  Now, I haven’t actually studied algebra since 1977 – some 34 years ago.  (By the way, after limping through Algebra 1 in 1975 and somehow ending up the year with an A, even though I didn’t understand ANY of the material we covered, I took Algebra 2 with Alice Jo Gadberry.  Unlike the Algebra 1 guy – and BTW, I think his name might have been something like Mr. Nicholson – Mrs. Gadberry actually explained things until I understood them, and I did quite well in her class.  I actually enjoyed it and even considered taking Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry from her my senior year.)  But Katie probably studied algebra something like five or six years ago.  That 28-year difference, plus the fact Katie must’ve inherited her dad’s innate mathematical ability, was key.  She was able to tell me what I was doing wrong on that silly problem, and given one key fact, I was able to solve the problem.

Jessica’s trigonometry prof on Monday gave the class something insane like 200 algebra problems to work before the next class on Wednesday.  I think Jessica feels under the gun, and I wish her high school algebra teacher had been named Mrs. Gadberry.  Jessica did Algebra 1 and 2 on her own, because I’m not much of a teacher.  I’m a much better mom.

I just hate it when algebra makes me feel helpless and ignorant, and I resent the fact that it can still do that to me.

She felt the earth. move. under her feet.

There was an earthquake in Virginia today.  It was centered about 95 miles south of Purcellville, occurred at 1:51 PM local time, and registered 5.8 on the Richter Scale.

Katie was in her boss’ office (ground floor) at the time, and she said seh definitely felt it.  It sounds like everyone did.  Evidently, it felt really weird, a rumbling as if some enormous truck or something was going by, but instead of stopping after a couple seconds, it just kept going.  It was strong enough that some pictures were no longer straight on the walls.

I’ve certainly never experienced an earthquake, and I guess as long as no one was injured and nothing was damaged, it’s kind of exciting.

College comparisons

Both our girls start college classes today.

One’s a freshman and one’s a senior.  One’s living on campus and one’s living at home.  One has a roommate, and one doesn’t.  One is taking First Year Foundations, Physical Geography, Psychology, Fundamentals of Public Speaking, and Trigonometry, and one is taking Roman Civilization, Music History and Appreciation, Cold War Novel, and will be writing a Senior Thesis.

Both had orientation-ish meetings over the past couple weeks, but last night only one returned to her room with a rubber duckie from the Health and Wellness Center AND a Reese’s peanut butter cup from the Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  (sigh)

We just hope that our tax dollars at work help fund Christian campus organizations, as well.

A full Sunday

I overslept, never a good thing, and especially not on a Sunday.

We visited a church and saw some friends from long ago there.

Jessica starts MSU tomorrow and had to attend a convocation there at 2:00 PM.  Due to parking, walking, etc., she planned to leave home at 12:45.  We were sure we’d be out of church by 12:00, home by 12:15, and she’d have time to eat and leave.  Actually, we needed to go to a non-Wal-Mart grocery for some lettuce, margarine, and coconut (not to be eaten together!), and if we got out early enough, we’d do that shopping on our way home.

Church went till 12:30, we got home at 12:42, and Jessica flew in, changed clothes, grabbed some food for the road, and flew back out.

While she was driving, she called us on speaker and we all de-briefed the church service.  Good discussion.

Because my Mondays are so busy and I have an extra appointment tomorrow, I decided to go ahead and do the ironing this afternoon.  I also coached Andrew through his piano practice at the same time.

I met with Josiah and Andrew about some academic adjustments we’re going to make effective this week, to hopefully enable me to have an off day.

Scott met with Josiah, and I decided that before I went to the grocery, I really needed to plan a week of menus.

I did the menu planning and made a grocery list.

On the way to town, I called Jessica’s friend, Melissa to try to pick up a receipt, but it didn’t work out, so she said she’d bring it out to the house sometime later.  (Melissa’s phone is being repaired in Springfield.  Jessica told her she’d be in Springfield a lot and could pick it up for her, but she needed the receipt.  Melissa lives in town, so I was trying to do that errand for her and Jessica.)

I went to Staples to drop off the used ink cartridge that I had forgotten to take when I was in there a couple days ago.

Next stop:  Harter House for produce and a few other items.

It was a lot of other items.  The total was $91!

I brought all that home and Andrew helped unload and put it all away.

We had canceled our home group tonight, because several families couldn’t attend.  That’s why I was able to do all this other stuff today.

While Andrew and Scott pulled together some supper, I worked on academic checklists.

We ate supper and cleaned it up.

Scott worked on some house-related stuff, while I got Andrew’s checklists printed for this week.

I also printed his books read and filed his checklists from last week.  Someday they will be entered into Homeschool Helper, but since I am right now entering August 2010 for both boys, readers are encouraged not to hold their collective breath till I get last week entered.  = )

I watered the upstairs houseplants and spilled water on the trunk in our bedroom.  And cleaned it up.

It’s 9:25 PM.  Andrew’s finishing his shower.  Jessica’s watching the Cardinals game.  I’m not sure what Scott’s doing.  I’m sleepy.

G’Night, John-Boy.


24-hours of tidbits

MSU Deems Freshmen Stupid:

Yesterday, Jessica noticed a charge for $388 on her student account at MSU.  It was from the bookstore for ALL of the books for her first semester classes.   While Jessica was out of town, Katie ordered most of her books for her (since Jessica’d only have a week-and-a-half to get home and zing into classes) from a variety of sources.  Two of the books were ordered from the MSU bookstore, but the rest of them were either free from pbs or cheap from amazon.  There was NO WAY the bookstore could legitimately be billing her for $388 worth of books!

So Jessica called and was told that they had pulled all her books, and she could come pick them up.  Jessica said that she didn’t want those books from the bookstore, and the lady told her that they AUTOMATICALLY pull all of a freshmen student’s books from the bookstore and bill the student.  When she comes to pick them up, if there are some she doesn’t want, she can turn them back in and they will refund her the money.

Jessica (and I) found that quite insulting to a student’s intelligence!  It is also sobering to realize that MSU thinks its freshmen are categorically stupid.  Our tax dollars at work. . .

Bronchitis Recurs On Annual Cycle:

Last August, Josiah contracted bronchitis while vacationing out west.  He ended up needing Zithromax to clear it.  This August, he returned home from a month-long sojourn overseas sporting a cough that just wouldn’t quit.  Diagnosis:  bronchitis.  Treatment:  Zithromax.  Maybe I should keep a round of it on hand every August, just in case.

Foreclosure Possibly Delayed by Snakes:

Long term readers may remember the saga of Gene, the jerk at the top of the hill.  He’s known to be a thief and suspected to be a drug dealer.  He also seems to be a few bubbles left of plumb.  He’s the guy who stole the beer signs from the restaurant next door, started the fire along the highway, and has had numerous visits from law enforcement – including what appeared to be a drug bust, complete with an ambulance standing by in our driveway – in recent months and years.  Let’s just say that he’s not the real neighborly type.

After I returned from the doc’s office with Josiah this morning, Jessica reported the following.

A man dressed in sweats and a T-shirt came to the door.  Parked in our driveway was his van, pulling a trailer with a lawn mower on it.  He told her he was from the bank and that he had come to foreclose on (Gene’s) house.  He had tried to drive up there yesterday and had gotten stuck in the steep and badly rutted driveway, so he came back today.

He asked Jessica what she knew about whoever lived there, and I guess she told him that the guy is weird.  I’m sure he’d now agree!  He told her that he had been told to go up and mow the grass, but that when he had gotten up there (not sure if he had walked or driven up), the electricity was still on, and there were snakes in there – big ones; eight foot pythons and such, so he “didn’t think the owners had left yet, because those snakes were valuable.”

Andrew told him he had seen a U-Haul and some traffic up and down the hill recently, and the man said he was trying to get confirmation from the neighbors.

Assuming his story is true, we are actually glad the house is going into foreclosure.  Any new owners will be much better than he, and maybe we’ll even get some great friends for Andrew!

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