Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Come & Gone

Well, we survived Christmas. It really was great this year. We rented a cabin in Island Park for the weekend, where we knew we'd be in for a white Christmas. It was great driving from green grass and jackets in Poky to 4 feet of snow and parkas up in the mountains. I must say I have never packed our car as full as I did for that trip, it's hard to pack up Christmas and travel! Our first night there, Christmas Eve, ended up being such an awful night. We stayed up until 1 am putting together the boys' train set and since Leyla simply hates sleeping anywhere but her crib she was up with us. She then woke up around 2 am, screamed for literally an hour, then was up until 5am playing. Everyone decided that Christmas needed to start at 7 am so that nap was short lived! Everyone really enjoyed their gifts, and each other, though so it turned out to be a great day. Every single present Jack opened he exclaimed, "It's just what I always wanted!" even though all he would ask for was a yellow remote control plane (which he did not get). They all got pillow pets this year. We first bought them out of desperation because we didn't have a clue what to get any of them this year. Shortly before Christmas the boys saw them at Fred Meyer and started making all sorts of plans on how to make money to buy them themselves, it was cute. Leyla even loves hers, she's slept with it every night since. Nick was sneaky with my favorite present, some Ugg boots. He kept making comments that made me believe they would be the last thing he'd ever buy me as a gift. I had been pretty excited to give Nick's present to him, I got him a years membership to the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake, I think he is pretty excited about it, too.
I hope everyone else was able to enjoy Christmas as much as we did. But alas, it's come and gone and it's back to school for us all.

















Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let's Be Friends

I've been thinking about friends a lot lately. I've always felt very strongly that family comes first but I also think having friends in your life is quite vital.

We knew that with the boys starting kindergarten this year that we wanted them in separate classes. We felt that they needed that time to be away from each other and develop more as individuals. They're both very smart and we knew that this year would mostly be for them to grow socially and not necessarily academically. They've stayed home this past year and really haven't been around a ton of other kids so we didn't know what to expect. Jack ended up in the same class as about 5 other kids from primary, while Owen didn't know anyone in his class. We thought this wasn't too bad of a setup since Owen has no problems making friends, and Jack is a bit more awkward around other kids. The first couple weeks both the boys would say they hadn't made any friends and they didn't know anyone's name. The last two weeks, however, Owen comes home telling us about a new friend everyday, Jack...not so much. The only person Jack says he wants to play with is his brother Owen, but Owen says he only wants to play with Jack at home and never at school. I guess this has started a few fights between them at recess, they've even had to meet with the principal about it twice. What do you do? This is the first time that I've ever seriously wished they weren't twins. I never imagined that it could be like this, in my head it was either they would always have the same friends, or they would have totally different groups of friends but be fine with it. Jack was just crying the other day because Owen said he couldn't play with him and his friends, they even ended up taking Jack's shoes away from him and hiding them. I just don't get it. They are great at home, they play all the time and seem to genuinely love being together. It makes me so upset that Owen would be like that at school. I feel very helpless in this situation.

All of this has gotten me thinking more about having friends later in life. I am always having times where I really wish I had some close friends here. Even just one! I'm okay with admitting I don't have any friends on here because I'm pretty sure the only people who read this are my sister-in-laws :) Seriously though, just because you get married and have kids doesn't mean you shouldn't have friends anymore. Even couple friends would be wonderful, though that's even harder to come by since there's four of you that all need to like each other! I guess that dream you have with your best friend when your 10 years old about living next door to each other and having your kids grow up together never really goes away.

I hope Jack and Owen can work things out. I hope that they both realize that the bond of a family is greater than that of friendships, and that you protect your family at all cost. I hope they will love each other always, no matter what. I hope that even if they end up with different friends that they'll support one another and always stick up for one another.

Oh yeah, our camera is broke; has been for a couple months. I hate blogging with out pictures, hence the no blogging. Do you have my name for Christmas???

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gone are the days of toddlerhood

We have been trying since winter ended to teach the boys how to ride bikes. They got their first bikes 2.5 years ago for Christmas, and they did pretty good with them (except on hills, where they'd accelerate until they went out of control and then just crash). Those bikes had training wheels. So when this summer rolled around, and we pulled the bikes out of the shed, and in addition to re-inflating the tires and greasing everything up real good, we took off the training wheels. And we invested in kneepads, elbow pads, and helmets.

We would take them to parks, out in the driveway, to running tracks, and would try to teach them how to ride without training wheels. They'd never go for more than 20-30 feet before giving up... they'd never even fall over! They'd just kind of slow down and then put their feet out and wait for mom or dad to catch up to help them get started again.

Recently the twin boys whose grandma lives next door demonstrated for Jack and Owen how to ride their bikes without training wheels. And just like that, our boys decided they could ride, and they did. This video is a clip taken up in Rigby yesterday (I think), where they've been with Grandma and Grandpa Ward the last couple of days, on their brand new bikes.

I am personally a little traumatized from bike-riding on my mission. The accidents, the soreness, being run off the road by cars, having beer bottles thrown at me, etc. I gave away my $400 bike at the end of my mission and couldn't have been happier to see it go. I probably haven't ridden 10 miles on a bike since coming home. But maybe that will change now.

They just aren't little boys anymore. Look at how they ride, as if they've been doing it forever.
video

Friday, May 28, 2010

Puzzling


This puzzle took us three weeks, but we finally finished! Two thousand pieces. All for nine bucks, and we get to keep the puzzle and try again!

But we won't. We'll donate it tomorrow. And next time we feel like a project we'll build a time machine or perpetual motion device or something easier than this puzzle.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One down...

Know why it's called a "toothbrush" and not a "teethbrush"? It was invented in Arkansas! Ha ha...

Last week Jack and Owen eagerly announced that they each had a loose tooth. They'd show anyone who would give them ten seconds of attention how they could wiggle it with their tongues and then their fingers.

Today that ended for Jack. After spending all morning with his finger in his mouth, he came to me to let me know he couldn't get it back; it was stuck protruding forward. I decided it was time.

Right after sterilizing my trusty needle-nose pliers, I gave Jack a damp paper towel to bite on after the extraction. He asked if it was going to hurt and I told him I thought it would a little bit (lacking memories of my own teeth falling out).

The next ten seconds were traumatizing. The pliers gripped the incisor nicely, and the connecting tissue tore slowly, so that I could feel the tension in the flesh as it tried to hold onto that little guy but failed. I don't think tearing off a limb could have made me feel more nauseous. Then I wrote up an invoice for $6,800. Ha ha, just kidding, I'm not a doctor/dentist. But Jack survived the ordeal just fine, unlike his dad, who will stick to cleaning up blood, diarrhea, broken bones, and puke, and let Mom handle the teeth-pulling.

Jack is so excited to put it under his pillow for money tonight. I guess I'll go get a small stack of dollar bills for the ensuing months.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Winner winner winner!!!







You may not have thought someone could ever actually enjoy sucking grease off a bike but as you can see, Miss Leyla sure did! Nasty.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quiz Time

Was this photo snapped after Leyla
a)found some black licorice?
b)ate a crayon?
c)opened a pen with her mouth?
d)chewed on a freshly greased bike chain?

Saturday, April 10, 2010



It never really occurred to me that anyone would want to attend this graduation. But here's the info if you'd like to come (just got it today from the timely university).
-----
Idaho State University
Commencement Information
Saturday, 8 May 2010
10:00 AM
Holt Arena

Tickets are not required, but seating will be on a first come, first served basis. Parking is available on the north side of Holt Arena, located at 15h Avenue and Memorial Drive.
-----
Also, I hear this is really long so charge up your phone so you can play games or bring your iPod or do whatever you do to kill time. The boys have already begun mocking me about wearing a dress.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sometimes I Forget


The other night Leyla and I went to Fred Meyer to pick up a few things. I went to check out, got everything scanned, reached for my purse only to realize my debit card was sitting on top of my chest of drawers at home. Did I mention how everything was scanned, cashier waiting for payment, line of people behind me? Sad huh? What's sad is that's probably happened to me at least 3 other times in the past year.

We've been trying to make a week long menu before we go grocery shopping each week. We've only done it for a few weeks now but it seems to get easier each week. We go grocery shopping on Friday or Saturday and we tend to plan our best meals for the weekend because by the end of the week we've somehow depleted our entire stock of food. I must have been feeling extra ambitious this week because on the menu for Sunday was german pancakes for breakfast and baked salmon for lunch. I seriously dreamed about the upcoming feast all night Saturday. The kids all slept in, no one woke up until after 8 am, what a perfect way to start the morning. As I was just really waking up Nick turns to me and announces that it was fast Sunday. Of course it was. My mind quickly raced back to my New Year's resolutions...like the one where I was glad we had 1 o'clock church because it would help me have a meaningful fast each and every month. Was it too early in the year to give that one up? After church we ate turkey pot pie, and no, it will not be on the menu again.

I forget a lot of things. I forget where I put my keys, I forget the load of wet laundry waiting to be dried, I then forget to push the button to start the dryer. I forget that 3 hours of church is too long for Leyla to go without a bottle or her binki- and they're both sitting on the kitchen counter...and we've walked the 6 blocks to church that day. I forget that it's after 8 pm, my kids remind me we haven't had dinner yet, and they haven't had a shower in two days, oh and their bedtime is 8 o'clock. But those are the small things, at least I try to remind myself that those are the small things.

I forget that just 5 years ago I became a mom. That it was the craziest, most wonderful, inexperienced day of my life. I would forget that I had kids because for two months they were in the hospital, but once they were home I didn't think I could ever forget my children. I did though. I forgot my baby girl in the car that was only a few weeks old. I didn't make it into the house before our friends reminded me of the precious cargo I had just forgotten. Humiliating. I forget that my boys will start school this fall, that maybe I haven't taught them enough, and that I haven't played with them enough.



Sometimes I forget to say family prayer before bed, but my kids remind me. Sometimes I forget to read my scriptures, the Spirit tries to remind me, but I don't always listen. Sometimes I forget to pray for my husband, my kids, myself, and I wonder if life wouldn't be so hard if I would just remember to do these things, to not forget.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Insurance

It's that time of year again, when health insurance companies arbitrarily decide to increase rates. We got the standard increase: 30%. Last year it was a 32% increase, the year before that it was a 29% increase. So, yep, we're paying more than twice as much for our premium as we were three years ago, even though our risk (according to our company) has not changed.

Seriously, I want someone to defend that, to show me how this is a fair and reasonable example of how a market ought to work.

And since I'm now unemployed I'm fairly certain this will be the year I decide the risk/cost of going without health insurance trumps the fake sense of security that comes with it.

Sorry, everyone else that has insurance, I know that will make your rates go up a bit (but let's be honest, your rates are going to go up no matter what). I'd rather watch healthcare crash and burn and be rebuilt the right way than continue to fund a corrupt system.

EDIT:
There are a few things here.

1. When I said I was dropping, I meant I was dropping myself. Kids are still covered, and so is Kara for now.
2. The idea that you are protected from financial hardship if you carry health insurance. It's totally false. We could run all sorts of scenario analyses, and you just don't win in the long run. It's the same concept as believing that steadily buying a lottery ticket will pay off in the long run. It might, but it's not a responsible use of money. Pay me $900 a month and I'll be glad to cash out $50,000 ten years from now. Really, I will.
3. In the event of a medical emergency that racks up $2M in bills, guess what? We're filing bankruptcy. No way I can get away from $2M in debt otherwise. So let's assume I continue to carry insurance and rack up $2M in bills. Well, I pay the first $10,000, then I pay my 20% copay ($250,000) while my insurance company pays their max ($1M), then they are done, and I'm left with the balance of $650,000. So I'm still left responsible for everything over $125,000, and 20% below that. So... I'm filing bankruptcy. Because we could probably liquidate everything we own and in 30 years maybe pay off the debt, but that's financially retarded. As an MBA with a finance emphasis, let me just say that one more time: that's financially retarded. For anyone. Hey, if you can work hard and get out of debt in a few years, more power to you. Don't waste away your entire life protecting your pride. Bankruptcy is a tool. Use it if you need to. So if I'm left with a mere $1M in debt, we're filing bankruptcy. You know, I'd probably have to work some numbers, but I think I'd file bankruptcy for $100k in medical debt. In 7 years a bankruptcy is off my record. At 18% interest, my payment would be $2,100 a month for seven years. Sorry, ain't gonna happen.
4. Inevitably, whenever I discuss this with anyone, nobody who has to pay for health insurance out of pocket disagrees with me. It's always (but maybe not you guys, Alisha) disagreement from people who get (usually good) coverage from their work. I don't. I never have. I've picked the wrong line of work, apparently.
5. Crystal, high costs are probably the biggest part of the problem. You may get billed $500k, but the hospital will settle that bill for something like 2/3 that with their negotiated rates and closer to 1/2 if it were covered by Medicaid. PROFITABLY. What does that tell you? Hospitals can profit on their lowest rate (Medicaid) but regularly bill multiple times that. Also-- how much has your insurance helped you with the other costs- missing work, commuting, etc?
6. I DO have solutions. Here they are.
a. Increase transparency. With the exception of emergencies, people should know up front exactly how much they are going to pay. When Kara's bills for Leyla came in, we went over them, and surprise surprise (I'm being sarcastic, there was no surprise at all), there was a crapload of stuff on there that was not legitimate at all. There must have been a dozen charges on there for c-section related charges... and she didn't have a c-section. "Oh, our mistake" they said after we made all sorts of calls and finally met with them, and they did eventually drop them. But what does that tell you about the industry? They are systematically dishonest. Their approach is, "we're going to go ahead and charge you for this, and then if we get unlucky, you'll catch us and we'll drop that charge." But being healthcare, it's not like you can just take your business elsewhere. Sure, you can doctor-shop to some extent, but it's hardly free-market competition. Crystal, I'll bet if I had my hospital administrator friend sit down with you guys, you could cut $100k off those bills just by scratching illegitimate charges. Dishonest, dishonest, dishonest. You will never pin the blame on anyone. It's always "an honest mistake." BS.
b. Allow insurance companies to compete across state lines. Too few options, too much collusion.
c. Enforce antitrust law.
d. No more negotiated rates with insurance companies. That is, no price-discrimination. If I need my appendix removed, don't charge me triple what you charge John Doe who carries Blue Shield insurance. In fact, stop negotiating rates on everything. Charge what you charge, and don't pay out until some chosen cost is met. You don't see Geico agreeing with Joe's Auto Shop to offer car parts at half price, do you? Just get rid of it. Have a set list of prices and insurance doesn't even get billed. Leave it to the patients to keep the bills and submit them once the deductible has been met. There, you reduce fraud, reduce costs, and increase transparency all in one fell swoop.
e. Government reform. There's lots here. Obama's plans aren't bad. I challenge you to specify anything he's calling for that's a bad idea, besides the premise that it's government paying for healthcare in the first place.

Keep in mind that 30% per annum growth is unsustainable. The median household income in the U.S. is about $50k. The average health insurance premium last year was $13,375. At 30% growth (which is what it's been for the last three years), it will only be another 7 years before the cost of health care exceeds the entire income of a family in a year, even accounting for inflation.

Finally, I don't think I'll ever understand the "licking the boot that kicks you" mentality with people accepting the status quo. It SUCKS. The U.S. ranks lower that almost every developed country in terms of care, and way higher in terms of cost. Hey, you can hate Obama, you can hate Congress, you can love capitalism, you can point out that some government official flew from his sparsely populated nation in Canada to have an operation in Miami, you can take all the lies out there about how perfect our system is and repeat them, but this system simply is not working and it's senseless to defend it. We've got good doctors, good facilities, and there's no reason we can't revamp the system and stop bankrupting people (and killing them through neglect) along the way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friday, January 08, 2010

Pebble Creek


On Monday we went skiing. The week before we had driven up to the resort to watch people ski, and Jack was thrilled with the prospect of going. So we decided on Monday Dad would go with Jack (Owen wanted to stay home and play with Mom).

So I woke up that morning to find Jack bundled up and ready to go. The equipment rental store wasn't open for another two hours, and every five minutes Jack asked, "Are you ready to go skiing yet Daddy?" We were mildly annoyed that the only kids' skis they had were pink skis. But finally we went, and here's a representative video of how Jack liked it.


video
It took us about two hours to make it all the way down. And the last half of that was Jack crying. But, in fairness to Jack, it wasn't all bad. He got hot chocolate at the lodge.
But we had an all day pass, and Jack was done before noon, so we drove home, picked up the rest of the family, and headed back up. Owen decided he wanted a turn, while Kara, Jack, and Leyla hung out in the lodge. Owen's experience was a little bit different.


video

Neither of the boys would use the snowplow/pizza technique. They both just figured the easiest way to slow down was to fall over.