Archive for October, 2011

Do you remember these? Passing notes in school; sometimes from boy to girl; more often from girl to boy: 

It’s interesting to see that not only does this still happen, but it doesn’t have to happen in school!

Our 7-year-old (who has never gone to school) is in the throes of note writing. Our 10-year-old is another one that has regularly written us notes, and I think this is where our 7-year-old has gotten the inclination.

When your house is full of girls, you expect “girly” things. You expect the dress-up; the tea parties. While they also like playing with chickens, making a fort, playing in mud, playing with bugs, and hanging out and helping Daddy as he builds things with power tools, they also have girly streaks.  (Dear Lord, help me not kill them to be calm and understanding in a few years when they are all cycling together …………)

Lately, this has involved making more of their own envelopes (using bits of wrapping paper; scratch paper, and usually involving color and decorations) and notes.

Oh hang on- just got another mail delivery:

“Dear Mama,

Good morning. And is it a good morning?

Check yes or no ok.

Love, J”

I, of course, checked the “yes” box.  😆

Yesterday, my letter (and Daddy got one as well) said,

“Dear Mama,

I love you. Do you love me?

Check yes or no.

Love, J”

This particular 7-year-old is blond, dimpled, and extremely giggly. How could anyone possibly not say yes?!  😆


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Is she out of her mind? New bride Marielle Bishop wonders if she made the right choice, moving to Holly Oak. 

Holly Oak. Home to her new husband and his two children. Home of her new husband’s tragically and unexpectedly deceased first wife’s childhood. Home where they lived as a family when she died; where her husband and two children continued to live in the years after her death.

Home to Adelaide, the grandmother of the deceased first wife, who raised Sara from infancy.

Home to rumor and superstition from the locals. Home to a long history from the Civil War. Home to a curse of the women who live in the house?

Susan Meissner is one of my absolute most favorite authors. Her storytelling has a way of sucking you in, while twining together the past and the present. In this case, I do think the characters each could have been a little more developed. This is one of those books that easily could have been twice as long without leaving the reader feeling fatigued.

When I got to the portion near the end (I won’t spoil it for you), it was so well written it gave me total appreciation of how Susan’s mind works. That little bit there gave huge insight into one character. At the end of the book, I found myself thinking the book might have been better had those bits been woven in throughout, so that both stories were being told at the same time.

That being said, I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend this book (along with her others, some of which are out on loan) to friends.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


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Do y’all remember on VFF post #4 when I said I wouldn’t bug you but every 100 miles? Yep, it’s that time!  😀

Since you can probably tell I’m still wearing them and still running, you have probably assumed that all is well in happy-running-land, and you would be correct. I won’t bore you with all the details this time, but let’s get some summary numbers (because I’m anal like that :lol:).

Total VFF/miles record #5: 105

Total yearly miles to date: 552.56

Total VFF miles to date: 243

Miles before VFFs: 309.56

October total thus far: 49.5

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that I am contemplating a 10k early next month. When I first had this stupid idea stroke of genius, I was a month out. It goes without saying that I will wait until almost the last minute to register if I decide to.

I’m still working on the minutiae of running outdoors. My biggest issue, I think, is convincing hunny that I am not going to kill myself. I can’t just shrug off his concerns entirely, because when/if it goes south, he’s the one standing in the gap and picking up the pieces (read: taking over the household and taking care of me while I’m incapacitated). I am hoping I have enough time to show him that there won’t be an explosion of badness because I’m running outside.  😆

What’s noteworthy is the increase of mileage. I’ve increased by 1.5 miles and added a day, which means an addition of 12.5 miles a week. At this point, I am going for distance and not speed.

Within the daily miles, I’ve added incline training (my treadmill is so old that back when I got it, it was something to have any kind of incline, particularly combined with a space saver model. This means I have three levels of what I fondly call low, mid, and normal. 😀 ). Today I did 2 miles of incline work; 1 low; 1 mid.

What’s important to know about these two newer things (increased mileage and incline work):

  • I am not following the “don’t increase more than 10% a week” rule.  😆 You’ve already figured out I generally don’t play by the rules, unless I have a compelling reason to.
  • My pain levels have not increased. Because I am thinking about trying that thing next month, I don’t want to get myself in a position where I’m injured and can’t do it. I have noticed more hip soreness, but I’m trying to counteract that by upping my hip strengthening exercises. Injury is just one less excuse for me to have to think about, as I try to talk myself into it.  😆

While I have had some soreness, it’s not prohibitive. It hasn’t slowed me down at all to this point <knock on wood>. In reality, I think if I had 2 months of prep time, I’d certainly jump in with no reservations. I’m looking at two weeks and some change. We’ll see.  😆

On the one hand, I have the voice that says, ” Your mileage is fine- you can do this even if you have to walk some.” On the other hand, I have the voice that says, ” You’re freaking nuts.”  😆

Where I’m landing today? Today, I am encouraged by my bloggy friend runningthriver who ran a half marathon recently and then will run a marathon a short two weeks later. Today, I’m thinking that if this mother here could run a marathon and then deliver a healthy, full-term baby 7 hours later :shock:, maybe I can do a measly 10k…….  😎  :mrgreen:

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Again. It’s that time of year again, which means this particular dilemma is a yearly thing for me.

Our anniversary is in December. Originally, we thought this would be great and would give us an excuse for time out for Christmas shopping. Where we live, that means a few hours out, if you include lunch.  😆

Our shopping options are pretty limited, and we do a lot of our shopping online. I’ve also gotten better about looking at the post-Thanksgiving (which is my birthday this year) sales and trying to get up early and getting stuff before the mobs hit. Or going in between the mobs. Either or is fine. And that’s only if the stuff I want is on sale.

Every other year, we spend 3 weeks over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday hunkered down in the Texas Hill County. This is our year to go. I am hoping to have the chickies set up to where we can do that, but I admit to having separation anxiety, as we’ve not gone on vacation at all since we got them. (We had a staycation, but that doesn’t count :lol:) So, that’s on the radar.

Those are all things I think will work out. What I’m stumped on is the anniversary get-away.

Every year, I hem and haw and we end up staying put.

On the one hand, a weekend trip out for us would be nice. But we have “requirements.” In a perfect world, the room would have a kitchenette, a king-size bed, a two-person jacuzzi, and a fireplace, preferably a kiva. All of these things we have at home.  😆  Well, ok, we don’t have a kiva, but we do have a fireplace.

I also want to be in the mountains. Option number 1: there is a town where I can find all of these things that is just over an hour away. There is, however, no real shopping, as it’s a ski and touristy town. We don’t ski. The shopping is all outdoors and pricey stuff that we wouldn’t buy because what would we use it for? So, it would not be a Christmas shopping venture.

The second part is what to do during the day? While we love the mountains, there really is nothing else to do in this town during the winter if you don’t want to ski, so that means staying holed up in the room doing what we would normally do at home. Ok, so we could be in the jacuzzi and see the fireplace and the tv at the same time-that’s a perk.

But at $170 a night plus food that close to Christmas, makes me wonder if we wouldn’t be better off to just send all the kids to the in-law’s for a few days…… it just seems like a lot of money for doing what we do when we’re at home is all. And, if we are doing our three weeks vacation, I’d rather save that money for when we’re actually gone, as it would cover most of the lodging (we RV) for that entire time.

Option number two: where I’d really like to go is over 200 miles away (one direction) and does have very good shopping, and I found a room with a cheaper price tag.  I think I can give up the kitchenette (take a cooler like usual), and it has the king bed and a kiva, while the other room just has a wood-burning fireplace.  It doesn’t have a jacuzzi.  😦

Lower cost, but more in gas; good shopping.  In the mountains and away from home.

Normally, I go back and forth, as neither of these options is a clear winner. It’s hard to justify that kind of money that close to Christmas, whether or not you are taking an extended vacation.

I have, however, hit upon Option number three .  (ya’ll know I’m option 3 girl, right?) I don’t know why it took me this long!!  😆

In November, I have a regular visit to the rheumatolgy clinic at a major teaching hospital in a relatively near city. What I’m thinking now is that since we have to go up the night before, that we can stay in the regular hotel and check out as usual that following morning. Go to appointment early am. Hope they let me out at a decent time. Drive to other city; check in to the other hotel; do some shopping and goofing around….

This hotel in particular says it has rooms with jacuzzis, but no pics.And actually, I have a lot of sifting through options to do in the one city, so maybe I ought to get to it…… 😆


Which option gets your vote, and why?

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Take a wild guess about what I’m griping about this time…..  😆  Ya, more shopping.  *sigh*

Normally, I am not real picky about stuff, nor the lack of it locally, with the exception of a few things. If I can’t find it locally, I’ll go online and order. No biggy.

Pants are generally one item (unless they are sweats) I won’t order online. Usually I won’t order shoes online, but since Vibram has a very clear video on sizing, I followed the directions and was able to order online with no issue.

The one item I cannot make an exception for and order online (unless it’s ridiculously cheap) is eyewear. For all practical purposes, this really means just sunglasses. Before I agree to wear something on my face, they have to fit. And they have to be dark.

Even though I have transition lenses in my eye glasses and I got the darkest ones they have available, they don’t tint darkly enough. The result is that I wear polarized sunglasses over my regular glasses.

Because of my Sjogren’s Disease, I have all kinds of issues with my eyes. The biggest issue is the recurrent cornea erosion. In a nutshell, this means that every time I blink (literally- every time), I stand a chance of my cornea sticking to my eyelid and ripping off. I’ve had this happen during the day, but the most critical time for me is before I open my eyes in the morning.

Over a year after the first episode, and after being in his office for “blips” at least once a month (but usually more), it finally came to a head when, after going in to see my eye guy 4 times in a single day, his daughter called him out of a meeting around 7 pm at night (even though I had seen him a few hours earlier before the office closed) and he met me down at his office.

The determination was that there was no way my cornea would last for a 200 mile emergency drive to have a stromal puncture done. This dealy is where they take a needle and poke it in all over your cornea, which helps the epithelial cells grow “feet” an attach into the deeper layer, and thereby, encourage healing.

I didn’t have that kind of time, though. At that point, my entire cornea was filled will fluid and was mushy; rolling around in my eye and ready to rip the whole thing (including the deeper layers) off. Ya, not good. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy more painful than unmedicated childbirth.

The only viable option we had was to have him use a scalpel and scrape that top layer off. I am not exaggerating when I say that that man saved the sight in that eye. After the eye got to the point where we could take some time with it, we decided to try a more permanent solution.

I have punctal plugs in both eyes. Yep. For a fact I can say I have silicone implants.  😆

On my left eye, we started with top and so far, several years later, it’s ok. In the right eye, I have plugs in both the top and bottom ducts. He had never done top and bottom on anyone before (and none since as far as I know), and he has been doing them for years and years in a desert climate where a lot of people take advantage of this procedure.

Now we know it was the Sjogren’s that caused the problem. At the time, we were stumped, and thinking it was leftover from autoimmune disease. Turns out, it never left. At one point, at the annual state-wide convention, I was one of the case studies, and they were trying to figure out how to heal my eye and get it to stick.

Now having this information, it should come as no surprise as to the why my eyewear is so important. I’ve spent several years (and a chunk of change) trying not to go blind. Having proper eye wear is critically important to me.

I can’t leave the sides exposed; wind can go across, dry out my cornea quickly; I blink, and there it goes.  Something gets in there? Scratch, and there it goes. My eyes don’t heal normally. This kind of injury usually repairs quickly- the cornea has the fastest healing tissue in the body. Two of my kids have had scratched corneas, and by the next morning, they were more or less back to normal. Me?  I’d be a week out and still have a grossly swollen eye, sitting in the dark, trying to de-juice my cornea.

The Sjogren’s also leaves me highly sensitive to light. Bright light is extremely painful. Glare is painful. So don’t go yelling at me to take off my glasses just because you want a picture without tinted glasses in it!

Anyhow. I gots ta try ’em on. They gots ta fit. They gots ta fit right.

And I’m annoyed that I can’t find anything but $100+ glasses locally. Honestly, the eyes/glasses situation is one of the biggest reasons I run indoors. Now that my oldest dd is going to run with me, the dreaded shopping has begun. Still, because of the house gremlin running around here, I don’t feel like I can spend that kind of $$$ on something that may get taken before I even get to wear them for the first time. See the dilemma?

I think, before I invest in glasses, I will try to find an old pair and hope they don’t bruise my nose. Then, if being outside doesn’t kill me (like hunny thinks it will), I’ll be in a better frame of mind to think about finding the right ones.

Next, I’ll have to think about gloves and arm warmers for my Raynaud’s……. 😆

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Wow!  That was fast! 200 posts already?

😆  I’m good, but not that good.  😆

Remember me saying I would update every 100 miles or so?  Well, I’m at 200.  (Ok, not really- I’m actually at 211 today)  That’s 200 miles in my Vibram FiveFingers Bikilas. In the last week, I’ve added another mile to my sort-of-but-not-really-daily run and I’ve had no additional problems.

Since the nights are getting colder, and there has been a subtle shift in the weather, I’ve noticed an increase in overall hip discomfort, but so far, it’s not nearly as bad as it has been in the past. Most of the time I can sleep without it waking me up, so that is good. Because my strike pattern has settled, I am pretty sure this has been helping the hip(s).

The thing I have noticed is with regard to foot pain. Since I’m not working any more, I’ve spent the vast majority of the time barefoot. Interestingly enough, the days I wear shoes (and I’m still following the “wear heels” advice from my podiatrist for the plantar fasciitis when I’m out doing stuff) are now the days I have pain. And when I’m in them, it is hard not to kick them off when I’m out and about.

When my Komodosport LSes get here tomorrow, I’ll make the switch to VFFs full-time (except maybe for church). Does this mean I have a shoe fetish?  Probably.  😆

When you spend that many years in that kind of debilitating pain and then you find relief, it makes you loathe to go back to the days of crawling in the afternoons evening. I used to never care about shoes; I could wear whatever. Then I was on the quest to find heels that wouldn’t kill me via foot pain or tripping and breaking my neck.

So there you have it. I’m totally, completely addicted to Vibram FiveFinger shoes.

Fortunately for you, I will not be giving updates on my every-day wearing of my funky shoes.  😆

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Ya, you! You’re too fat! Clearly, you are not capable of moving your fat butt, or watching what you put in your mouth. Guess we’ll have to do that for you, too.

Yep. That’s what Denmark and Hungary have told their citizens.

On Tuesday, Hungary voted to place a tax on “junk-foods” like Big Mac, pop (soda), and sweets.

Yesterday, the fat tax in Denmark went into effect. In this case, actual food in addition to that junk-food is being taxed. Here are some of the examples:

  • High fat dairy products (what about kids under 2 years old who need the fat from whole milk for brain development??)- items like cream cheese, whipping cream, and ice cream
  • Butter (huh, seems the body can break down the fats in butter than in fake, processed margarine-y food stuffs, but what do I know?)
  • Meats
  • Pizzas
  • Pre-cooked Foods
  • Potato Chips
  • Olive Oil (nevermind that olive oil is actually healthy fat- makes me wonder if this applies to peanut butter and nuts, which also contain healthy fats)
  • Etc. (does this include eggs? I have to wonder- if everyone had their own chickens, the fat and cholesterol content would be lower)

It is no surprise that citizens were in a frenzy, cleaning off store shelves and stocking up. Who wants to pay 30% more for butter until they have to?

And it’s no wonder that the rest of Europe, particularly Great Britain, is watching with rapt attention. After all, can you blame them?

Germany wants a fat tax, too. In fact, “Recently the German Teachers’ Association recommended weighing children in class each day and reporting the seriously overweight to social services, who would have the power to remove them to clinics.”

Incidentally, homeschooling is illegal in Germany. So, if your kid is deemed too fat, off to social services you go! And YOU, stupid parent, have no recourse; no option; no choice.

Stop reading now if you don’t want my two cents on this situation. 😆

My personal opinion is that when you rely on the government to take care of you, you have given them the right to make all those decisions. Absolutely, if I was in a country where everyone got free health care, you had better bet it would be up to the government to set in place parameters and guidelines for the citizens, as a means of keeping those costs down.

And why shouldn’t they? This clearly, imo, falls into the category of taking care of the individual’s health needs, since, you know, they obviously can’t make good decisions by themselves.

If people are going to make poor eating choices that have negative consequences on their health care (that the government is paying for), it stands to reason that they should contribute more financially to help off set those costs. Alcohol is taxed more; I would be surprised if tobacco isn’t as well.

Now, that being said, (and if you haven’t stopped reading in disgust) I don’t think the government has any business mandating either of those things. I don’t think it’s the job of the government to forcibly “take care” of its citizens. I’m a fan of choice.

In the US, I don’t believe its constitutional for the federal government to mandate something like federal health care. States- sure. Go for it. But once you do (like Massachusetts), is it impossible to undo?

I know the issue of mandatory health care is loaded, and I certainly don’t have the answer. I think it’s a bad idea to give up any decision-making choices in favor of other people making decisions for you.

If you’ve been reading along, you know how I feel about the health care system as it is now. It’s definitely broken.

Case and point: out of the two hospitals we have here (the hub of anything in 200 miles in any direction) both are too small, apparently, to have their own ER doctors. Instead, they use a contracted service.

While both hospitals are in my insurance network, this contracted service, which is the same for both hospitals, is not. That means that they can charge anything they want to, and they do.

What does this mean to me?

As a person with insurance through a national insurance group on a Fortune 500 company policy, it means that my deductible is doubled because they are out of network. It means that those services (the ER doctor charge) get paid at 70% instead of 90%, after my doubled deductible. This deductible also doesn’t go towards my out-of-pocket costs because they are out of network, or to my other, in-network deductible.

If my insurance decides to pay in-network costs as a courtesy to me- which it usually does because of the rural factor, in that I have no other choice- they pay “reasonable and customary” costs.

What does that mean? That means if “reasonable and customary” is $100, they will pay the 90% of that amount. Because they are not under contract with the insurance company, this means that the provider can- and does- charge whatever they feel like. For that $100 insurance deems “reasonable and customary”? The provider can charge you $100,000.  And you, poor sucker who had to go to the ER, legally has to eat the difference.

I’m up to my eyeballs in this again right now, after having a trip a few months ago for my middle daughter’s concussion. I cannot tell you how sick I am of being Screwed. A look at 2010 should bring you up to speed.

The bill for the doctor in the ER was $800. I have no idea what amount will be considered “reasonable and customary,” but I know insurance will probably initially pay 70%. Then I’ll have to sit on the check they send me (because they don’t pay out-of-network providers; they send the check to you) and have it go for review, which can take 60 to 90 days. In the meantime, I’m going to get letters from the provider, telling me they are (and will- trust me, I’ve been down this road) going to turn you over to collections.

Nevermind the insurance you have. Nevermind that you went to an IN-FREAKING-NETWORK provider to keep your cost down. NEVERMIND that they are GOUGING you because you have insurance and being UNETHICAL because of their outrageous cost.

Ticked? Doesn’t begin to cover it.

The thing is, they aren’t all like that. Take my GI doc, for example. When I regularly go visit him, he charges *exactly* what is deemed “reasonable and customary” by my insurance. Our company changed insurance carriers since I’ve been seeing him, and his billing practices are exactly the same for each provider: they are under contract, and bill accordingly. This means when I go visit him, if my deductible is paid, I pay my 10% which comes out to less than $5.

Yep, you read that right.

LESS than $5, and the man is a specialist. And a good one. Who actually cares about his patients, even the ones (like me :lol:) who basically self-refer even though they aren’t supposed to.

So I don’t buy the mantra that all costs are high. Some providers are out to screw you, plain and simple. And when you are rural and without options or recourse, you’re the poor sucker who, again, has to take it in the shorts unless you don’t mind your credit rating getting wrecked while you duke it out.

The uninsured (particularly here, where people go to the emergency room for colds because they can’t be turned away) is a problem. Skyrocketing costs are a problem (don’t even get me going on the comparison cost of x-rays….). Something has to be done.

But giving complete control over to the federal government?

Sorry, I just don’t think that’s smart. I think once you get on that path to expecting to be taken care of, you give the right to that entity to make choices for you, like raising your taxes on butter, bread, and meats.


~~When you give up your rights to choice, you give up your voice.~~


More articles for your reading pleasure:

Germany Weighs Tax on the Obese

Bulge Battle Will Wallop Your Wallet

Denmark Levies World’s First Fat Tax

Fat Tax Lands On Denmark’s Favorite Foods


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