Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Monday, July 30, 2012


When my husband called me and said in a strained voice, "I think I need to go to the emergency room," I knew he was in serious pain.  This is the man who took one pain pill after getting all four wisdom teeth cranked out of his head.  The same guy who busted his ankle so badly it looked like a sick version of dead man make up, and refused to be taken to a doctor, saying, "I can still walk on it." Yeah, barely, and you look silly trying, I thought to myself.


As Kyle's birth approached, Jonathan and I talked a lot about what to do regarding insurance.  Since returning from Mexico in the late summer of '10, we had been unable to buy any stateside insurance of our own.  During our time in Mexico, we were covered by an international plan we had found online.  In order for that to be valid, we had to spend more time per year outside of the States than in.  So, of course, we had to switch insurance at the beginning of '11.  We contacted a number of different insurance providers but no one would sell us a policy since I was already pregnant.  While I do understand why they do it this way, it is still extremely frustrating when you have no other choice.  The beginning of 2011, when I was about 32 weeks pregnant, coverage began for me on my dad's insurance policy.  I started going to the doctor then and all of that was covered.  We knew Kyle would be covered by my dad's policy for up to two days after his birth.  But, since I had so little prenatal care and we qualified for Medicaid, we determined that the wisest thing to do was get some "back up" help for Kyle's birth.  I cried as I called to figure out how to get on Medicaid.  I hated having to depend on the government for my baby and I hated feeling like I was left with no other option.

After Kyle was born and deemed healthy by our pediatrician, we took him off Medicaid as soon as we could.  The look on the woman's face in the Medicaid office said, "No one ever does this."  In fact, she looked us in the eye and asked why we wanted to take him off of government assistance.  She assured us he qualified for the rest of the year and likely the next.  But, our answer was simple; we wanted to buy our own insurance and we wanted to be responsible for ourselves.  Head shaking, she conceded.

Unfortunately, since we couldn't get insurance through a group or a business, buying it individually was unreasonably expensive.  We opted for the lowest deductible for which we could afford to pay the premium.  It is a pathetic plan which basically covers catastrophic injuries and we still pay a considerable amount each month for that.  I am not complaining about not having tons of money or having to pay for ourselves.  I think we function fine on our income and we don't have trouble paying our bills.  I am complaining that we can't afford to buy any decent insurance because it is so ridiculously expensive.  It is pathetic that we could so easily qualify for food stamps, government funded health care, and whatever other kinds of assistance we might decide we needed.  We don't want the government to pay for us but the cost of healthcare is such that we can't even begin to afford the bills for something as seemingly routine as a kidney stone.

Knowing that a visit to the ER would certainly cost more than we really wanted to spend, but not seeing any other option with a groaning man in the car beside me, I drove him there last month per his request.  His stay was short; they took his temp, blood pressure, had him rate his pain and asked him a few other questions.  We walked back to a room where he laid on a bed, still grunting and groaning to keep from screaming and crying.  The nurse came in, asked him what was wrong, then left to get some drugs.  She came back, hooked up the drugs, the doctor came in and said hi.  Once the drugs kicked in, they wheeled him down for a CT scan.  Having seen a CT scan bill of my own the year before, I knew that wouldn't be cheap.  But, what other option did we have?  They wheeled him back five minutes later, we waited a minute before the doctor came back in.  He told us the stone had already moved to the bladder and he shouldn't feel anymore pain until he passed it.  He didn't prescribe any drugs and told us if Jonathan had any more pain to "come back."  The nurse walked in, took his IV out and we were on our way.  An hour and a half, tops.  Probably closer to an hour.  I hoped the bill would be around a $1,000.  I still cringed at the thought of it, and I still think $1,000 is an unreasonable amount to pay for an hours worth of care but, whatever.

I had absolutely no idea the hospital bill alone would be nearly $4,000.  The physician's bill was an additional $1.000.  Then the CT scan should've been the least of my worries at a lousy $500.  How can it possibly cost this much to get an IV, a pat on the back and a picture of your insides?  Good thing he didn't have any more pain, and good thing we didn't "go back" or we'd be doubly in the hole.  The system is so broken.  I cannot understand where the problem is or what the solution should be.  But, it is so absurd. $5,500 to see a doctor for an hour?  Unreasonable.  Ridiculous.  Absolutely infuriating.

Of course we will go to the finance office.  Of course we will tell them that we just can't pay this bill and we can't make payments either.  We can't have debt when we leave for Africa and we're hoping that will be in about five months.  And I figure, or at least hope, that they will cut the bill into quarters and let us pay a "reasonable" amount.  But, if we had "good" insurance or if we were on Medicaid or if we had a higher income, they would get their five thousand dollars and no one would think a thing about it.  And that is why the system is broken.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Making Progress

Life is busy over here.  Jonathan is over half way done with his first semester with Liberty and it is kicking him at the moment.  Between working full time, taking nine credit hours, being a husband, father and trying to raise support, he isn't sleeping much.  I'll be glad when this semester is over; I know he will, too.

I've starting cleaning two houses weekly to try to help supplement our income a little.  I'm thankful for free babysitters (thanks, Mom!).  After completing eight online classes, I only have one left to finish before I'm d-o-n-e, done.  I plan on treating myself to something chocolate when that happens.  Although I'd like to get this last class out of the way, I may end up waiting until Jono finishes his classes.  It'd be a little difficult to keep up with Kyle baby if we're both preoccupied with studies.  I am also continually trying to set up meetings for support raising.  We are making great progress and (we believe) are still on track to leave in January.  Of course, it is still difficult not knowing whether or not we will be leaving, but with about 64% of our monthly and 44% of our outgoing expenses raised, it is looking promising.

And then there is Kyle.  He is always busy.  From the moment his two fat feet hit the floor in the morning until the second he climbs in the rocking chair, arms full of books, to snuggle before going to sleep, he is a busy little bee.  Fortunately, he takes about a three-and-a-half- to four-hour break in the middle of the day to recharge.  That is nice.  But, he keeps me on my toes (literally) when he is awake! 

A little over a month from now the three of us are packing up to go back to Mexico to visit our church there.  This will be, I believe, the first vacation we've taken as a family.  In fact, I think it will be the first vacation Jono and I have ever taken "by ourselves" besides our honeymoon.  We will spend the first two nights of our stay on the hotel zone and the other five nights will be spent with friends in real Mexico.  I can't wait.  I'm a little nervous about speaking Spanish again after being away for two years. I anticipate being highly frustrated at how much I knew how to say but can't now.  I often find that to be the case when I am trying to think in Spanish.  Nevertheless, I can't wait to see our friends there and tell them all about our plans for Africa!  And, of course, a day on the beach will be much welcomed as well.  Soon I'll post about some of the many things I am looking forward to in Cancun!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Car Wash

After Jonathan and Kyle finished washing the cars, they played in the water and soap for a while.  Great daddy/son bonding time, I suppose.

Baby washing Baby

Daddy washing Daddy

Daddy washing Baby

Baby takes the sponge

Baby washes truck

Daddy washes truck

Baby takes the hose

Baby washes Daddy

The cars are clean.  The guys are clean.  Mommy is happy.  It's a great day!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins

I think it's high time I posted a recipe, don't you?  I don't even remember the last recipe I posted and that is sad.  Very sad.  So what better to rectify this pathetic situation than a good muffin recipe?  I've kind of been on a muffin kick lately.  They taste great with my other two-year-long kick, orange juice.  I love muffins.  Kyle loves muffins.  Jonathan doesn't care much about muffins, but that's fine; we feed him meat instead.  Any kind of meat.  But, I digress.

This recipe practically leaped off the page of a Southern Living magazine, begging me to try it.  It looked simple and summery, so I did.  What could be better than fresh strawberries with lemons?  Nada.

Begin by chopping up lotsa strawberries.  This is fun.  But not nearly as fun as the next step.....

.....This is my favorite part.  Well, besides eating the final product.  Are you ready for this?  Brace yourself..... Squeezing the lemons (!!!!).  See my nifty little lemon juicer gone measuring spoon?  Love this thing.  Paid nearly nothing for it at TJMaxx and it makes me squeal on the inside every time I use it.  Okay, having too much fun thinking about juicing lemons.  Also, you gotta zest them.  Get all the zest you can, this recipe calls for a ton.  I barely scratched the surface (pun intended, hehe) of what it called for, but, they turned out just fine.  I'm sure if you managed to get the whole tablespoon of zest, they would be even... lemony-er.

Next mix the self-rising flour and sugar together in a large bowl.  If you want to be like me, you can not have self-rising flour on hand and make your own.  If you don't wanna be like me, try not cutting your finger open on the baking powder can.  Why do they make the edge out of such sharp metal?  Ouch.  I type with a sliced finger wrapped in paper towel secured with Scotch tape.  I'm making a lot of mistakes and back spacing often.  Anyways, back to the dry ingredients.  Once they are really good friends, form a pit in the middle and set aside.

The wet ingredients are butter, sour cream, lemon juice and zest, and eggs.  Combine those until smooth and pour them into the dry ingredients.  Stir gently until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Fold in the diced strawberries.

Fill baking cups (or lightly greased pan) 3/4 full with batter.  I am so impatient.  To me it feels like this takes forever.  And might I propose that it takes even longer with a one-year-old hanging on my legs announcing (loudly) that he brought me his BUH-BAAS (bubbles).  Run along, Kyle, go find Daddy.  I'm sure he wants to blow your BUH-BAAS.

Really, is this positively irresistible child mine?  See the flour on his face and shirt?  He's really a big help.  I said, "Kyle sit down and smile" and this is what we got folks.  Edible.  Sweeter than Strawberry-Lemonade muffins.

Okay, okay.....When the cups are filled (I got twenty out of my batch), sprinkle the top of each one with sugar.  Pop them in the oven.  Oh me, oh my...... YUM.

Strawberry Lemonade Muffins

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1/2 c butter, melted
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups diced fresh strawberries

Oven: 400*
Combine flour and one cup sugar in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

Stir together sour cream and next 4 ingredients, add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold strawberries into batter. Spoon batter into lightly greased 12 cup muffin pans, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar over batter.  Bake for 16-18 minutes or until lightly golden.

Let me know if you try them.  Let me know if you don't try them and I'll ask you, "Why not?"


PS: Sorry some of my photos are blurry.  I am working with an old-itty-bitty-won't-focus-for-anything camera, as my sister has my nice one with her in CHINA. :o) 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

One of the deepest desires of my heart was fulfilled today.  While at the sight of it I felt like dissolving into sobs, I managed to maintain reasonable composure.  My heart is rejoicing and I am indescribably thankful for this answer to my prayers.

Since we began the process of adopting Holly nearly ten years ago, she has held a special place in my heart.  She is an absolutely delightful young lady to be around, full of joy and laughter.  She is kind and helpful and truly a gem in our family.

I began praying a few years ago that I would be here to see Holly profess faith in Christ and be baptized.  When I moved away and she still hadn't made any such decision, I began to lose hope.  While I didn't doubt that it would happen eventually, I figured it was nearly impossible that I would be there to witness the event.  I assumed I would hear of it via my mother and I would be happy and sad at the same time.

About two years ago, Holly (and Maggie, together) did pray to receive Christ and I rejoiced with her in that decision.  She wasn't, however, ready to make it public as she is timid and shy.  Earlier this year, Maggie decided she was ready to be baptized and so she was.  Holly remained quiet and didn't talk much about it.  Of course we didn't want to force her into anything she wasn't ready to do on her own.  And so, although I have continued to pray that I would be able to witness her baptism, I figured it could've been years further down the road before she would proclaim her faith publicly.

However, out of nowhere this morning, she decided to walk forward in front of the church and request baptism.  I am so proud of her for her boldness and confidence!  I am so thankful that no one pressured her at all and she came to the decision completely on her own.

Today marks another day where I have seen God answer the specific prayers of my heart.  I am so thankful!

October '08

Wedding Week '09

Thanksgiving '08

I love you, Holly Faith!  You are a treasure in my life.  I am so proud of you!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Home of the Cute!

Is there anything more patriotic than a good Fourth of July celebration?  We had a great one this year at my brother's in-laws.  And, of course, Kyle was the star of the show.

Posing baby

Happy baby

Trying to get away from Mommy baby

She put me back in this seat baby

Toddler baby

Playful baby

Corn Hole baby

Strong baby

Cheater baby

Cute baby

Bean bag baby

Chipmunk baby (THOSE LIPS!!!!!!! MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH!)

All-American baby

Zoned baby

After dinner, we went back over to my parents' to play some card games and swirl some sparklers.  Kyle enjoyed sitting in front of Jake and the Neverland Pirates while Jonathan creamed us all in Phase 10 until too late.

Blessed and free!


Monday, July 2, 2012

16 Months

Is it really possible?  No, I don't think so.  My baby can't be sixteen months old already.  Nope; I just won't believe it.

Okay, there's no denying it.  Sixteen months have past since I first held him in my arms.  I love him more now than I did then (although I didn't think it possible).  He is such a precious little guy.  He loves to give kisses and snuggle (for a minute, before something else intrigues him).  Everything about him, from how he looks to how he acts, is precisely how I wanted my son to be!  He's obedient, talkative, active, silly, curious, friendly, smart and sweeter than honey, not to mention, cute!  If I didn't think you'd just say I was biased, I might say he is the best kid!

He loves his toys and seems to take playing very seriously.  The look on his face when he's pushing around his "corn popper" says, "this is my job and I want to do it well!"  He walks around with Mr. Potato Head's hat on his head and ears in his ears.  This morning he tried to use his Fisher Price keys to open the front door.  While I was on the phone, he went and found his phone, held it to his ear and yelled "Hey-O!" (translation: hello).  As I type this, he is twisting, flipping, pushing, sliding all of the zoo animals in his pop-up toy and then pushing them back down with his feet.  He is all boy.  He squeals excitedly as he bangs his toys together.  He makes car noises as he pushes his lawnmower around the living room, plowing into every toy in his way until he rams into the wall.  Next, I'm going to teach him how to "beep beep" as he backs it up.  I wonder what it feels like to wake up every morning with only one responsibility: playing.

That is an excited face

His vocabulary is exploding!  Of course, we can understand nearly all of his attempts at words.  Others probably couldn't.  He understands a significant amount of what we say and will follow simple commands like, "close the door", "turn off the TV" or "get in your (high)chair."  A couple times a day we repeat a lot of his body parts; he knows hair, eyes, eyebrows, nose, ears, cheeks, lips, teeth, chin, arms, fingers, belly, bottom, knees and feet.  He knows how to make the sounds for dog, cat, sheep, cow, duck, fish, and monkey.  After months of being fixated on "Dada" he has finally resumed saying "Mama."  Melts my heart.  A few of his other new words are car, cookie, Jake (for Jake and the Neverland Pirates [his favorite show]) and diaper.  The latter is the indication that he has successfully made a stinky.  If only I could get him potty trained before we leave for Africa.... I'm not holding my breath.

Although he fought relentlessly to be picky for a few weeks, he lost that battle.  Now, he is a champion eater and will take nearly anything we put in front of him; he even points and "asks" for broccoli.  Love that!  I am dreading having to wean him but with an impending necessary surgery (for me) before our departure for Africa, I figure I'll have to.  For the most part, he is getting his nutrition from whole foods and raw cows milk and likely won't miss nursing as much as I will.  Still, I have loved every minute of it and will continue for a couple more months before being forced to call it quits.  At that point, I'll probably ball my eyes out.  But, I just won't think about that.

Until now he has still been regularly taking two naps a day.  For the past month or so, I have been alternating between one and two.  I think today will mark the switch completely from two to one except under rare circumstances.  While he hasn't seemed very sleepy, he has still been willing to curl up and sleep in the late morning for a snooze.  But, his afternoon nap has been pushed so late that he is up too late at night and thus wakes up much later in the morning.  Guess that is the cue to cut the first nap.  Maybe he'll surprise me and keep sleeping in in the mornings.  I'd like that.  He sleeps all night every night without exception.  I like that, too!

I cannot adequately describe with words how wonderful it is to be his mama!  The tears that well up in my eyes might better depict the joy I feel when I ponder that he is mine.  I truly cannot believe how fast it is going and wish I could pause time.  Yet every new day is exciting to watch all that he enjoys about life!  I love my sixteen month baby.  He makes life sweeter than I ever could've imagined it!

Yes, that is the chair on its side so Kyle doesn't climb on the table.