Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Money for nothing, and bills to pay!

Hey, did you know that there is a health care crisis going on currently in this country? Did you know that Democrats and Republicans are at each other's throats over a health care bill that one side says will save us all and the other side says will be the destruction of life on earth?

Up until now, I have been reluctant to wade into the fray. I can really see both sides of the issue, and I don't really know which side to come down on at this point. I am not really going to discuss the finer points of the bill, just one issue that was made clear to me last night. That would be a continuation of the governments (R and D) habit of punishing you for not being able to afford things. And when I say punish you, I mean force you to pay out even more money that you can't afford because you didn't do the thing you couldn't afford in the first place.

Did that sound confusing? It sort of is confusing. It is an absurb concept that I am shocked people are actually willing to put up with. I briefly mentioned it before in an earlier blog. If you have a car, and you suddenly become unable to afford your car insurance, the state fines you even more money, then they take away your tags making it impossible to go to you job to make the money to pay the fines. It is a vicious,vicious circle. And it doesn't stop there. What happens if you accidentally write a check that you can't really afford? The bank punishes you by charging you an overdraft fee. Because if you couldn't afford the check in the first place, taking more of your money is certainly going to help, right? If you use your debit card, it is even worse. Then the bank covers the transaction, and then charges you a fee anyway. Either way, being broke just does not fly in this country.

Now we come to my only problem so far in the health care debate. I understand that in this bill, the government will penalize you monetarily for not having health insurance. So if you don't use the gov't plan, and you don't have insurance through your job, then you are mounted with fines. To me, this is worse than the car insurance fines. If you don't want to pay for car insurance, you have a choice to not own a car. You can take taxis, you can take the bus. This country was built on freedom, and freedom is about having choices. This situation seems to have no choices. The government is telling you that you have no choices. If you want to be alive in this country, you must have health insurance, and if you don't, the government will punish you. Does this sound like a choice to you?

Sorry to deviate into a politic heavy post, but I just needed to get this off my mind. It was bothering me all night, and I needed to get it out. I promise, next week I will pick up with parenting on the Eastern Shore, and my quest to find an athletic activity that will not damage my daughters feet. Until then, just try to stay healthy. That might be the best bet of all at this point! : )

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Morning at the Podiatrist

About two weeks ago, at my daughter’s 6 year check up, we were told that Alli needed to see a podiatrist. Apparently when she stands up, her feet spread out and become flat and her pediatrician was concerned about it enough to refer us to a specialist.

Now, Alli has always had small issues with her feet. When I was pregnant with her, I remember an ultrasound picture where all you could see was her foot. That’s all there was to the picture, it was the blackness of the amniotic fluid and one big foot in the middle of the screen. When she was a baby, I had to cut the feet off of all of her sleepers, because her feet were too big to fit into them. I remember looking at the bottoms of a pair of newborn pajamas and thinking, “Really? Are you kidding me?”

About three months ago, she started complaining about ballet class. She said she didn’t want to go, that her feet felt too tired to do ballet. Alli has taken ballet since she was 4. She has been in two ballet recitals and loved every minute of them. For her to say she doesn’t want to go to ballet is a huge deal. I tried bribing her to go, I even told her that if she doesn’t go that she cannot be in the recital (which is true, as it turns out), and she still held her ground and insisted that she was finished with ballet for good.

Cut to today. We walked into the Podiatrists office, gave the nurse our name, and sat down to wait. Do you know how to tell if you are in an eastern shore doctor’s office? Go to the supply of magazines they keep for the waiting patients. If you see any copies of Field and Stream, or the special double issue of Deer and Deer Hunter Magazine, then you are definitely on the right side of the bay. Plus, when they ask for your co-pay and you hand them a credit card, they proceed to run the card through one of those slidie things that I haven’t seen since 1987 when I worked at The Gap.

So, do you know who most often visits the podiatrist? Apparently it is the elderly and diabetics, which makes sense when you think about it. The body parts first and most profoundly affected by both diabetes and old age are the feet. We sat down in the chairs and there was an elderly man sitting in a wheelchair about 5 seats to our left. He obviously had been dropped off by a local nursing home or hospice care situation. He was the sort of old man who is slumped over in his wheelchair, drooling and randomly spitting out incoherent sounds. Well, he was freaking my daughter out. She was staring really hard at her Scooby Doo Magazine while occasionally stealing peeks out of the corners of her eyes. At one point, after a particularly loud outburst, she tugged on my sleeve and pleaded, “Can we please go see the Doctor NOW, mom?” I felt sort of bad for her, and was about to suggest that we switch to the other side of the waiting room, when I suddenly focused on the poor man’s face. He was staring at Alli, and for a brief moment looked sort of happy. I decided that she could endure a little more discomfort in a doctor’s waiting room if it was the right thing to do.

The appointment was very illuminating. It turns out that Alli has very loose ligaments. The Podiatrist described feet as being like one of those rafts from Gilligan’s Island. You know, like the ones that are made of logs and held together with vines? When the vines are tight, the raft stays together and floats, and when the vines are loose, the logs spread out when stepped on. Luckily, she won’t need special shoes, but just special inserts in the shoes she already has. I apparently also need to buy her shoes with unyielding soles and heels on them. Like athletic shoes and those Stride Rite Mary Jane School Shoes.

All in all, it could have been worse. The best thing I was hoping for was to be told that she was absolutely perfect and fine. The worst case scenario was for her to have to wear special shoes or some other type of apparatus. This was sort of in the middle. There was a problem, but it had a simple and easy solution. Whew! Glad that over! Now, we just need to get her ears checked out next month. That might be a whole new adventure

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Clampetts go to Tullum

Sunday February 14, we packed up our clothes, kids, and last remaining brain cells and left for the Dreams Tullum resort. As you know from my last blog, I started with the end of the story because stress and trauma make things especially fresh in your mind. Frankly, after the whole airplane incident, I was having trouble remembering the previous 7 days of vacation. Thankfully, now the fog has lifted, and I am able to make a proper start at the beginning of the story.

Our group of merry little travellers all managed to arrive at BWI at the exact same time, despite the fact that we arrived in two cars from opposite ends of the state. I am not sure how we did that, but at this point I am willing to concede that we might just be that good. We showed our passports, took off our shoes for the obligatory security scan and managed to all make it onto an airplane with a minimum of drama. Yay, we were on our way to sun and fun!

When we arrived at the resort, after 4 hours on an airplane, 1 hour going through customs, and 90 minutes in a bus riding down the Yucatan, we were hot, sweaty, and ready to get to the pool and beach. It was then that I discovered the first blunder of the trip. I must have packed my bags in the dark while smoking crack or something because I discovered that I had only brought one bathing suit with me. Really? I am going to the tropics and I only bring one swimsuit? And one pair of pants? And one dress? And one pair of pajamas? (don't worry, I had some shorts, shirts, and underwear, but still . . .)

The room we reserved was gorgeous, although it begged the question: Is there a such thing as too much marble? The walls were marble, the floors were marble, the bathroom was a large marble room. It made sense at first, I have been in too many beach hotels where the carpet has gotten so nasty that you feet turn black the first time you walk on them. But the next morning, after the AC had been running all night, getting out of a nice warm bed to put your feet on ice cold marble was making us long for a little nasty carpeting.

I really don't know why we are allowed to leave the country. We really are the Clampetts sometimes. Here is a partial list of questions asked by various members of our party. They are in no particular order and may or may not have been preceded by vast amounts of Tequila is various forms.

1.On this customs form, is “surname” Spanish for last name?
2.What will we do if there is an earthquake and we get hit by a salami? (I am guessing that was supposed to be Tsunami. . . but in the case of an actual salami I guess we will eat it with mustard?)
3.(asked of an actual Mexican resident) Are you sleepy? Are you going to take a nap-o?
4.Maybe next year we should go to the Caribbean instead. (Um, look to the right)

To our credit, my sister in law and I managed to redeem ourselves from the last time we traveled, by NOT GETTING DRUNK, not that my father-in-law, brother-in-law or husband could possibly resist making “drunk on Lemon Drop Martini” jokes for the whole entire week. Luckily, we have a sense of humor about ourselves, our tolerance for hard liquor while on vacation, and our ability to speak when on such liquids.

All in all, it was a great trip. The kids had fun, we had fun. It was almost a pity we had to return to the cold snowy shores of the Chesapeake Bay. We did have one disapointing moment towards the end. We decided the last night to really dress up for dinner, have our pictures taken, and get a really nice meal. We gussied ourselves up and walked to the Italian restaurant in the resort (that very clearly stated that no reservations were necessary) and were told that there was an hour wait for a table. Well, okay, we can certainly go get our pictures taken on the beach while we wait, just give us one of those little pager things and we will be on our way.

Cut to 1 hour and 30 minutes later. The pager still hadn't gone off. Matt walked up to the host and inquired about when our table would be ready. He replied, (and try to say this in your head in a thick Spanish accent) “I am sorry, it is going to be another hour or two until we have a table for you.”

Really?? Three hours for Italian food? With four kids under 10??? My father in law proceeded to toss the pager back at the man and we walked over to the Chinese restaurant. There was at least an hour wait there too. Then we walked over to the Seaside Grill. That was closed for a wedding.

Would you like to know how this ends? It ends with us, dressed to the nines, seated at the BUFFET! Surrounded by families, the kids club eating dinner, and people wearing various forms of swimwear. Not quite the fine dining experience we wanted, but at least we were eating.

It bears saying again, though, that we had a super time. So super, in fact, that we have decided to return to Mexico next year for vacation. As long as the resort doesn't get hit by a salami!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To be mormon, just for a moment. . .

Sometimes I wish I could be split into two people. One of me could stay here and take care of the house and the children, and the other me could go take care of me. I would get so much done. I could get a job and not have to look for day care. Of course it would have to be a pretty high paying job, since there would be two of me to feed instead of just one, but I am sure the extra food would be cheaper than child care. Maybe the second me could be the one that sticks to a diet.

I am sitting here in my living room currently. I was supposed to be somewhere about 39 minutes ago. I was actually supposed to be at two different somewheres 39 minutes ago, but the one place was a funeral so I am not quite counting it in this situation. The other place I was supposed to be was my weekly craft group. I am in the middle of decorating a wooden lazy susan with an enormous mosiac'd lighthouse decorating the top. I have the design all planned out, the lighthouse looks just like the one that my husband and I climbed on our honeymoon. I am using black tiles for the night sky, with tiny little mirrored tiles for stars. Yellow tiles will represent the sweeping beam of light coming from the windows of the lighthouse, and I have used deep ocean blue tiles for the. . .well. . .the deep ocean blue ocean in fact. It is going to be gorgeous and I can't wait to finish it.

Yet, here I sit. My husband supposedly left work now 43 minutes ago, right when I was supposed to arrive there. The kids have been bathed, and are sitting in front of an episode of Go, Diego, Go! and I am very patiently waiting. If I had two of me, one of me could be sitting here watching the kids and the other of me could be finishing my project.

Have you ever seen the show "Big Love" on HBO. I used to think that it was so unfair that the wives on the show had to share Bill. Now, I think I really could use a sister-wife. (ironically enough, Matt has said before that he is all for the idea of a sister-wife, as long as she is hot. Isn't that just a GUY thing to say?)

I am sure he will be home soon. Until then, I will be sitting here enjoying the first moment of peace and quiet that I have had all day. And I am equally sure, now that I have said it outloud, the peace and quiet will soon end and I will be once again back to my job as house referee. Until then. . .