Friday, May 04, 2007
Emma's buddy Caleb brought his umbrella to Mary's today so Emma wanted her umbrella as soon as she got home.

She's pretty good at putting it up and down.

The reason it is now bent out of shape is because the first time she did this it was open.

The Gatekeeper
Gatedraper? Gatehanger? Daddy lets her do this, climb the gate. Which is all fine and well until he's not around and I catch her doing it with no one watching. I try not to be such a mom sometimes, but it's hard.

Thursday, May 03, 2007
Way to go, Ace...
Those of you who remember my post on man-places know that my desire is to get in and out quickly, praying that there is no humiliation involved. So you'll love this story...

This morning I decided to try to cram in a trip to the gas station in between dropping Emma off at Mary's and getting to work on time. I always pay at the pump in order to avoid any actual human contact. I whipped out my Exxon card and slid it in the reader and it said T_. It's supposed to say something more like "remove nozzle from the pump." I tried it again, no better. So I walked to the door and popped my head in and asked Mark if there was anything wrong with his pump. Of course one of the three town lawyers was in there chatting with him. Mark told me to be sure and insert the card slowly and withdraw it quickly. I stepped away from door and glanced at the card in my hand which had in big bold letters COSTCO. Damn. "Nevermind, Mark, I grabbed the wrong red, white, and blue card."

Nothing like starting off your morning with a hot steaming cup of dumbass.
Fill 'er up!
Today was Meet-Popi-at-the-Store day. This involves a cold water from the coolers, a single-pack of Pringles, and a car ride. Today Daddy added another element. He found Emma a jug to fill the gas tank on the car. After that there was no more riding, it was all about topping off. Obviously she's not paying the gas bills around here or she wouldn't be so free with the refills.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Picture of the day
Just some random sweetness.

Preschool screening
We've been getting invitations to this thing since Emma was born. I've resisted going because I didn't see the value at her age. I figure the big reason for it is so the local school system can figure out who's coming up in the next few years. It also gives them the chance to test for problems and start early intervention if necessary. Pardon my bias, but Emma has no problems that require intervention.

Nonetheless, I was persuaded to take her. Just as I figured, it was really geared towards three year olds and above. At Emma's age just following directions and paying attention for a long time are a challenge. She did three separate stations where she was tested on all sorts of things. Some things she was game for, others she just wasn't interested. She didn't do the hearing test because we still haven't been able to persuade her to wear headphones. I'm not worried about her hearing because that child can hear a candy wrapper crinkling from three rooms away.

One test they had a wheel where they would expose a picture and ask her what it was. There were some things we'd never named for her, like an ambulance. She was asked to touch her stomach. We've called it tummy and belly. One picture they showed her was a television, but it was from the 1970's. The screen took up 2/3 of the box and the other 1/3 was two huge dials. The box had two antenna sticking out the top. I mean, give me a break! Where would she have seen something like that? My baby kept insisting it was a radio, which is the closest thing to it which she could recognize.

She aced the color recognition and most of the relational questions. Big, bigger, small, smallest, less, more...she did OK.

Anyway, it was pretty grueling, if you ask me. We got there at 4:30 p.m. and left at 6:15 p.m. I was just relieved that she didn't have a meltdown. The bonus for her was that she tried her first water fountain. She thought that was a riot.
That's Emma's new interest. So now her rotation of approved shows includes Backyardigans, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dora the Explorer, Little Einsteins, Wonder Pets and Go, Diego, Go! I cannot understand what children see in Wonder Pets. It's the show with the least amount of redeeming value in this list, and that's saying something with Dora on there. This morning she asked for Wow, Wow, Wubbzy and I acted like I didn't know what she meant.

We got her this Backyardigans book at Costco on Saturday.

"No, Noni, don't take my book!"

Health Insurance Angst
My group health insurance at work has to be the worst in the state. We have too many people in the group who are older and several have been treated for cancer. My premiums are atrocious. And like most insurance, every year the rates go up and the benefits go down. My not-so-secret shame is the M has no health insurance. My employer only covers me, and not completely. It costs me over $400 out of pocket to cover Emma and the balance of my coverage. Yes, you read that right, $400 a month for a healthy 2 year-old. At this years rates, if I wanted to add M to our coverage it would cost me $805 out of pocket. Every month. That could be a house payment right there.

Anthem has a monopoly where we live. We have one medical center in the county and they only bill Anthem. Of course I can't just drop Emma from my group coverage and buy her an individual plan with Anthem. They won't touch her again until she's been off their group policy for 64 days. Nice, huh? I found this out two years ago. When I realized they were basically telling me my baby had to go uninsured for me to be able to obtain a more affordable plan I cried. They had me in vice.

This year I was determined that I was going to find some way to get insurance for my husband. It means we absolutely have to get Emma off my group insurance. This time I found a ray of hope. I found a provider who offers short term insurance which is actually accepted in the valley where Noni and Popi live. Both major hospitals in that area accept it.

We're going to go for it. The timing will be tricky because two people I asked for help dragged their feet for so long we're getting dangerously close to the end of my open enrollment period. I went ahead and filled in an online application for Emma today and now I'm praying I have something lined up by the 13th. The effective date isn't until July 1, but I want to know she'll be covered by the short term plan before I drop her from my group. Wish me luck that I hear back by then.

Oh, and by moving from my group insurance to individual plans I will save from $300 to $550 a month, to cover both of them.

I hate insurance companies.
Sunday Playground
We spent a good deal of time at the playground yesterday. We had the place to ourselves. Emma had a really good time leading us around. When it came time to go, for the first time ever, she left the playground willingly. She was a good girl.

Popi's new toy
When we were at Costco Popi handed Noni something when we were waiting in the checkout line. He had found a cool new toy, a remote controlled helicopter for indoors. When Emma got up from her nap he showed it to her. She was slow to wake up and all she wanted to do was go downstairs and watch TV. But when she saw the helicopter she woke up fast. She was laughing and squealing with delight. It was quite fun.

Right before we left for home he pulled it out again and gave her another show. I think everyone got a kick out of her enjoyment of the helicopter.

About the shopping...
Long-time readers of the blog might get the idea that all we ever do when we go to Noni and Popi's is shop and eat fast food. Technically, you'd be just about correct. There is a reason for this, however.

We live in a remote mountainous area. There are no fast food chains here, no big grocery stores, and only two chain gas stations. We have only three restaurants, no movie theater and no pharmacy. There is no Food Lion, no Walmart, not even a Dairy Queen or a Rite Aid. Three years ago a Dollar General snuck in somehow. It's a great place to shop if you're in the market for cheap junk made in China.

For us, there is no popping by Walmart on the way home when we need something. M and I are better off than most because he has his store. But it has a limited selection of groceries, hardware and sundries.

When we go to Noni and Popi's I usually have a list. I'm your worst nightmare in line at Costco because I'm shopping for two separate businesses, both with tax exemptions, and myself. That's three times I have to be rung up. M does go to Walmart once a week to shop for the store, but that's him, not me. I don't put everything I need on his list.

As far as the fast food goes, it's a relatively rare treat for us. My child is not being raised on Chicken McNuggets, you can rest assured.

So if it seems like all we ever do at Noni's is shop, it's actually only a part of what we do there. But it needs to be done.
A Day in the Life of Highland Gal
I volunteered to do this video assignment for my mommy board. It's a week overdue, but I finally got it done. It features Saturday, March 31, 2007. It's a typical Saturday at Noni and Popi's.