Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Race and The Baby

The Race

Today was the big day, I ran my first 10K race! It was the first time I'd ever run 6.2 miles! I was so nervous and excited last night I could hardly sleep. My goal was just to make it thru the whole thing without having to slow down and walk, and I made it! In fact I figured my time would be around an hour and fifteen minutes, but I came in at an hour and three minutes. I set up a new music playlist on my mp3 player and just ran an easy pace the first five miles, conserving energy for the end, where I really pushed it. The inspiring thing to me was seeing all the elderly runners (mostly men). One man came in right around my time and I don't know his age, but he was in the 75 years and up class! It was a little humbling when these guys would pass me, but encouraging nonetheless. That's what I want to do... be in good enough shape to race in my golden years! Anyways, my average mile was 10:12, which was pretty exciting...I thought I'd be between 10:30 and 11 minutes a mile. But to think, when I ran in college, I got down to less than 7 minutes a mile! Anyhow, now I'm done, and the experience totally makes me want to do more...but not to worry, I'm laying off for the next 9 months. :)

The Baby

And speaking of, I went to my check up yesterday. The baby looks great and was even wiggling around for me, and the cyst is no longer of any concern at all, so I'm back to regular check ups. I have really enjoyed seeing all the growth and development every two weeks, so I'm going to miss it. I'm 11 weeks now, I go back at 15 weeks, and my next sonogram is at 20 weeks. Also, the placenta is getting close to being fully formed, which translates into very good news for me= I should start feeling back to normal soon! Just in time to not run anymore, haha.

One funny thing that happened while I was there... Since in my last appointment the baby was dancing, and I didn't video tape it, I've had a few family members remind me to make sure I get it on video this time. My doctor doesn't have a recorder, so I have to just video tape the screen with a camcorder. So I get into the room, and I tried to adjust the monitor that's mounted on the wall so it would come out clearly...but to my dismay, the monitor went from a vertical position to a horizontal one. So there I am holding my lovely check up skirt around me, trying to adjust this monitor, when the doctor walks in. I was sooo embarrassed. She got up on a chair and tried to fix it but couldn't. I really wanted to melt into the floor!! My doctor was so gracious and said not to worry, she'd call maintenance to fix it... ;)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shelley's Story

Ya know, I love blogging, but sometimes I feel like my own stories get a little...boring. Then I read people like Shelley Lubben's, and think, "Ok, this I have to share." This will make it worth your while, coming to read my blog.

This story is for anyone whose life has been affected in one way or another by the main sins of choice of our culture: sex (including porn), drugs, alcohol, unloving families, etc. And really, who hasn't been either into that or effected by it in some way?! The reason I love Shelley's story is because it holds out some much needed hope, that healing and love can still happen, and that change is possible! You don't have to be a slave to sin. It's refreshing, like being in the desert on a hot Texas day, and someone holding out a cold glass of water. Just what we needed, but not what we'd expect. The story's a bit long, but totally worth the read. So without further adieu, here's Shelley's story.

Also, it would thrill me if you'd come back after you read it, and leave a comment with your thoughts/reactions. Seriously, I'd love to know what you think!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

MAME Arcade Cabinet Update

My wonderful wife decided, for my upcoming birthday, to give me the thumbs up to get the parts that I needed to finish my MAME cabinet! I'm so stoked!

So I have been busy trying to bring things together. My good friend Anton just happened to have a set of extra buttons that he so graciously donated. I ordered the remaining buttons, 4 Mag-Stik joysticks and a I-PAC4 from Ultimarc.

While waiting for the parts to get here, I have also pulled together some old computer parts, installed Ubuntu Feisty with the Radeon frame buffer kernel driver (radeonfb), and AdvanceMame. In theory, this should allow me to run MAME on the original arcade monitor (*crosses fingers*) using my old Radeon 7500 card. I have also prototyped the control panel layout on card board.

No new pics yet, but I promise to post some as soon as I get the parts in. I'm really excited that everything is starting to come together!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wow, 2 blogs in 1 day!

Yeah, I know, I've got a lot to say today. Also could be I don't have much energy to do anything else. Less then 3 weeks left in this trimester...Woohoo!

Anyhow, it's about time I put up some pics. I've been slacking in my lethargic state.

One of my favorite things: baby feet! These precious ones are my cousin's 2 week old baby girl. And yes, I held her, too, hoping the girl thing would rub off.

Anna's Shower

And here she is, sweet Liliana. She is beautiful!

Anna's Shower

I got to meet her at my sister's baby shower yesterday. And afterwards we managed to convince my sister's husband to do a photo shoot. Here are a couple of my faves:

Anna and Charlie

Anna & Charlie

And on to the boys...

Here's Charlie playing Guitar Hero with Daddy. Of course we think our kids are future rock stars! :)

Playing Guitar Hero

And the other day I went to wake Chance from a nap, but he looked so cute, I decided to go grab my camera and take a pic of his sweet peacefulness. But when I got back, this is what I got:

Chance

This expression is new for him, and he does it a lot...at the funniest times! The whole scrunched nose looks oddly like an expression his Mommy makes.

And Chance also recently graduated to eating cereal with milk, since he can truly master the spoon. Here's his happy celebration with his first real bowl:

Chance


And one funny story that I don't have a photo for... For 3 days in a row, while Chance and I would nap, I'd allow Charlie to stay awake watching movies. And for 3 days in a row, he found the big chocolate bars I had left over from making S'mores a week ago, and he would have a little feast. So I finally hid the candy where he couldn't reach it (although there's not much left!). So what's he get into today? First he polishes off a carton of strawberry ice cream, and was halfway thru a pint of chocolate by the time I woke up! Tomorrow I think I'm gonna confine him to his room to read books while we sleep!

At least I got a Fancy New Pen

Ok, this is different from my normal posts, but I have an issue I thought I'd air out, see if I can lend any wisdom to anyone else. Maybe that'd make all this frustration worth it!

It seems that anytime we have anything medical done, we get "surprises" when it's over, where we owe more than we expected.

If you have health insurance, you'll quickly learn certain terms. Such as "in or out of network." And "copay, deductible, and limit." And of course, "HMO or PPO and EOB (explanation of benefits)." I think you need a law degree to really understand it all.

~Once we checked Chuck into an ER because his heart was beating way too fast and out of rhythm, and it was truly a life or death situation. Unfortunately they had to shock him twice (while he was awake!!), but praise God, that reset his heart, and things were back to normal. Then the cardiologist tells us we need to do a surgery as soon as possible so it doesn't happen again, and he's available to do it the next morning. The only catch is the hospital didn't have room so we would have to go to another. But the hospital said that in order for our health insurance to cover it, he'd have to be transferred by ambulance. What we didn't know is that the health insurance wouldn't cover the ambulance whatsoever...so it cost us an extra $400 to go 10 miles. All so our insurance would cover the other stuff!?

~I found an oral surgeon in my network who did my wisdom teeth, and then I returned to him to have my jaw surgery. Since everything went fine billing wise the first time, I had no idea I'd have problems this time. A week before surgery, his billing person tells me that the insurance is saying he's not in network, but not to worry, because they have a contract to prove they're in network, and even if that doesn't work, they'd take what insurance pays out of network, because it was actually more anyway, and just treat me as in network in what I'd owe personally. They required I pay the full amount ($1250) that would be owed to them beforehand, then if my insurance decided that amount should go to the hospital and anesthesiologist instead, then they'd refund the money to me afterwards.

After surgery I got a totally different story. Come to find out, they weren't in network, because it was considered medical, not dental (they were in dental network but not the medical network). And then they went back on the agreement, and decided that I now owed thousands of dollars, even though my insurance had actually paid more than they would've gotten in network. Finally I found a letter they'd written that said I'd only owe that full amount that I paid before, and they decided to write off the extra...but then my insurance did decide that full amount should go to the hospital and anesthesiologist. Do you think they refunded me the money? No way. My surgery cost double what I'd expected.

~Recently Chuck and I decided to try out a dentist. I asked if they were with my insurance, and they said yes. So I went through my visit: cleaning, consultation, even lots of x-rays. They said I owed nothing, as per my insurance. But then when Chuck went in, they waited until he'd gone thru everything to inform him that they weren't in network, and we owed $400 for the services. When I asked why they said they were with my insurance, they said "but you didn't ask if we were 'in network', just if we were with them. We take them, we bill them as out of network." Sneaky, sneaky...

~And on to my latest issue. Charlie's dentist. I had red flags that I should have heeded earlier. With the first visit, I got a fancy new pen with his name on it. I should've wondered how he pays for things like that! ;) Before the second visit, they said they like to take the full amount that will be owed (including what insurance will pay) from me, and then reimburse me when insurance pays. When I told them I couldn't afford that, they offered me a credit card application!! But then they told me they could do a "predetermination" with my insurance, which then showed the amount I'd owe, instead of a couple thousand dollars for Charlie's fillings. We went in for that visit, but it didn't work, so they didn't collect any money from me.

So once again, they wanted thousands before trying the fillings in the hospital. Again, I asked for a predetermination. What wasn't noticed is that my insurance only covers silver fillings, not white fillings. And what I didn't know is this dentist only does white. And in the predetermination they checked to see if they could do only 2 fillings, and 2 root canals, and insurance said it'd pay $1600 and my cost would be $250 (plus $300 to hospital). The dentist told me that while Charlie was under anesthesia, if they found more that they deemed necessary to do, they'd do it, which meant my bill would be more. What I didn't know is that he did EIGHT fillings instead of two that weren't covered by insurance at all!! So a few weeks afterwards, I get some big bills. I called my insurance to see why they only paid $800 instead of $1600 (on top of figuring out they don't cover white fillings). The reason for only paying $800 is because that was all that was left in Charlie's limit for the year...which they don't mention in the predetermination! So not only did the dentist have surprises for me, so did insurance. So instead of a $550 bill, we're paying close to $2 grand! And since the services are already done, there's no negotiating. And just like my oral surgeon, they want their money asap and they're not going to budge on what is owed. The ironic thing is, we just sunk $2,000 in teeth that will fall out in a few years.

So, the moral of the story: ASK questions! Pay attention to every little detail, because you never know when it'll come back to bite you. Keep good records. Check with your insurance, don't just believe what the doctor says. If you can, get everything in writing.

Another little thing the dentist did with both the first visit and the hospital visit, is that they conveniently forgot to write off the discount they give for being in network. If I hadn't cross referenced with my explanation of benefits, I might've paid even more than I owed.

Also, my mistake was that I didn't notice where the insurance said in the predetermination that they don't cover white fillings, and I didn't ask if they do silver. I assumed that because they were in network, things would go smoothly.

And one thing I've found is that doctors just want to do their jobs and don't want to talk money. And kinda like "good cop, bad cop," their billing office might not have the bedside manner after the service, that the doctor has. So while you may trust your doctor, be careful with the billing people.

That's all I have to say about that. ;)

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Low Down on the Boys

A couple of days ago I was in the midst of writing a long post about all the cute and funny things the boys have been up to lately when the phone rang. As I got up to get the phone, Chance hurried over and banged on the laptop until it froze up. Yep, I lost everything! I don't know if I can even remember it all, but here's a quick attempt.

~Chance has been learning about a word a day, it seems. From "No" to "mine" to "watermelon," he's figuring it all out. And about the "mine" word...it's starting to come into use with Charlie. I always thought Charlie did well in the area of sharing (and he still does for the most part), but now I realize it was because he didn't have someone to fight with at Chance's age. As laid back and happy as Chance is, he will let his will be known when it comes to playing with things (and eating food!). He yells at his brother often...we're working on that.

~And speaking of food, I know I've mentioned before that Chance usually cleans up after us when we're done eating, but lately he's become a bit of a food thief. Charlie isn't one to sit at the table and eat a meal. Usually he just takes breaks from playing to grab a bite here and there. This works to Chance's advantage, because the minute Charlie isn't looking, Chance is scarfing up everything on his plate!

~But I have to balance this with Chance's good side. He is so affectionate. Charlie was a bit too busy to sit and cuddle or hug or anything at this age. But Chance often crawls up into my lap, makes sure he gets my full attention, and gives me hugs and kisses. He's even learned to kiss with his mouth closed (no more drooling kisses!), and says the "muah" sound. He likes to give his brother hugs too, which is kinda ironic, because Charlie has to give Chance hugs when he hurts him, but they're usually half hearted. Yet Chance will give him hugs without prompting!

~Chance also loves to say "Thank You." In fact, when he watches Sesame Street and at the end they thank their sponsors, he always says, "Thank You." It's really funny.

~While for the last year and a half Charlie has been my more difficult kid, that's starting to flip flop... I figured it would. Charlie can still add a challenge to my day sometimes, but Chance is starting to really show his rebellious side. And while we once struggled with bringing Charlie out into the public, now it's Chance that is our challenge. At restaurants I call him my little politician, because he is not content to sit at a table. He only wants to meet all the people at the other tables! In stores he's not content to sit in a cart, he must be free to roam! I've finally pulled out the harness/leash that fits over him and allows me to keep him within a few feet of me, and to my great surprise, he complies very well with it. But otherwise, we try to stay home as much as possible. My shopping days are over for awhile :( hehe.

~And on to Charlie. He is getting easier. Of course, now the challenge is answering a million questions a day. Yesterday we got 10 inches of rain in 12 hours! And what I heard over and over was: "Why God made rain?"

~Charlie's getting closer to being potty trained. Today is the third day in a row that he's worn underwear all day. Although this afternoon he accidentally wet himself. But we're getting there. Tonight he gets a big lego set for making it three days!

~The boys play so well together, too, which makes life fun! I've blown the dust off the camcorder and have started recording tidbits of their interactions, from swimming together, to playing in the dirt (today they found a worm, that was hilarious!), to imitating each other's sounds, to chasing each other around the house. The list goes on and on.

There are more stories to tell, but my pregnant brain isn't working right now, so I'll try to post more later...Stay tuned! ;)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back to Life

Sprinkler Fun
[Charlie playing in the sprinklers. If you look closely at the larger version by clicking on it, you can see how his front teeth are whiter ("chicklets") than his other teeth.]

Sprinkler Fun

Playground Fun

[They're getting so big!!]


After a bit of a draining week, Nana and Big Daddy treated us to a weekend off. I met them late Friday night in Blanco, and they took the boys to a waterpark on Lake Travis for 5.5 hours Saturday! Needless to say, the boys had a great time. As usual, Charlie did not want to come home when we met on Sunday evening! My pregnancy hormones are really feeling for him, how he feels so torn between Austin and San Antonio.

One quick story, on the way to Blanco, Charlie was watching "Cars" and giving me the usual stream of "Why?" questions. Here's one conversation:

"Mommy, why God made movies?"

"God didn't make movies, people did, Buddy."

"How people make movies?"

"With computers."

"You think God has a computer?"

This truly is a new generation! That's definitely not a question I asked at that age...

Anyhow, Chuck and I got two nights to ourselves, which meant lots of catching up on sleep. And we went camping, something we hadn't done in 8 years! We camped one night on the Guadalupe River so we could watch the meteor shower. It was fun!


Guadalupe River
[Near our campsite on the river.]

Turn Around Don't Drown...or lose your vehicle!
[One sign of the recent flooding...a washed up car!]


So, now it's back to life, but I feel like I've been brought back to life this weekend with the break! Thanks Nana & Big Daddy!!


---
One other quick story...I went to the obstetrician Friday to check on the baby. For this sonogram, 7 days since the last one, the baby has longer arms and legs, and was dancing!! I wish I would've videotaped it, it just blows my mind. This little one is just over an inch, yet wiggling and moving his/her limbs as if to say "Hey Mom! I'm right here!" Just thinking about it makes me giggle. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

You know Charlie might be bored when...

You know Charlie might be bored when:

~He flushes two matchbox cars down the toilet.

~He drops a glass pot lid and watches it shatter.

~He comes under me as I'm carrying a plate of hot taquitos, and hits the plate, watching the taquitos fly thru the air.

~He unloads all the dirt out of a flower pot, then proceeds to scoop it up and cover his brother in it.

~He says his knee hurts, so he grabs various things out of the fridge and holds them on his knee (like a carton of whipping cream, for instance.)

And all this was just today. And the day isn't over yet...

Chance is sick today, so we've been laying low, and you can see the ramifications of that already. Chance's nose started running Monday and now he's got a fever to match. I just don't get why one has a great immune system, and the other doesn't. I hope baby #3 will have Charlie's resistance to things...

Today I really feel like I need a vacation. Big contrast to yesterday, huh?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mishaps

We've had a few mishaps lately...

~Chuck was chasing the boys around the living room this weekend, when Charlie ran headlong into the piano. Ouch! He's got a big bruise just above his right eyebrow.

~Chance has been getting into everything. He's constantly pulling things out of bathroom drawers, and leaving them all around the house. He's also quick about getting into our office and crawling around the desk, dumping out pens and making a big mess.

~Charlie's been into bubbles lately. One evening he decided to use my expensive face wash to make bubbles (Amy, I'm gonna need to place an order soon!). The next evening he decided to dump the entire body wash and shampoo bottles out into the tub. The boys were so slippery from that bath, I had a hard time even getting them out of the tub!

An update on me and baby #3...Thursday I began hurting, so I went to the doctor Friday and found out it's just the fluid from the cyst draining. I didn't realize that could be so painful! I was swollen, too, and looked about four or five months pregnant! But it's all good news, because the draining is a good thing, and I was able to see the baby's strong heartbeat, which is always reassuring! It amazes me that the baby has grown from the size of a grain of rice to an inch long in 10 days! And to think there will be about 20 more inches gained in the next 7 months! If we grew that fast outside of the womb, it'd be crazy!! So everything is well, I just rested a lot with a heating pad. ;) Chuck's been a big help, letting me get lots of naps. I live for the weekends! And actually, the cyst problem is over now...the swelling is gone, and the pain, which leads me to my next thought...

Today has been a great day. Ideal, really. First, I had a great run with my friends, going four miles (my 10K is in less than 3 weeks! It's 6.2 miles!), then Chuck had the morning off since he has to work late, so we were able to hang out and eat lunch together at Costco (side note, Charlie asked Chuck if Costco was his work...I think he's still a little confused, and thinks Chuck works at Costco and Rackspace). Then I had a successful trip to the grocery store, where the boys behaved well, and Charlie followed me thru the whole store with his own little basket. He was a big help! Then, to top off such a successful and productive day, we came home and took a 2 hour nap. Seriously, I can't imagine a more perfect day with the boys. I need to remember that these days come, when the harder ones are here.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Do you believe in miracles?

My mom told me a story this morning that I wanted to share. This is a true story of what happened to one woman in my hometown.

This woman had a female condition (I'll save you the gory details) that made it hard to have babies. She did have one successful pregnancy, then 4 miscarriages. Then she began missing periods, went to the doctor, but the tests came back negative for pregnancy so they chalked it up to her condition. Then she began gaining weight, so she began dieting and exercising. One day she got really sick, and called her sister who was a nurse, to come over. They were about to go to the ER thinking she was having appendicitis when she began hemorrhaging. She came out of the bathroom crying about it, and the nurse-sister went in to investigate, and to everyone's surprise...a 2 pound preemie was in the toilet! She resuscitated the baby girl, and they rushed to the hospital, and saved her! She's now 4 months old!

I just can't help but be amazed. The woman's mother (who told my mom this story) said she and her Sunday school class at church had been praying for each other's kids and grandkids for about a month prior to this baby's birth, and she'd even been thanking God for a new baby, if one would come...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Baby #3 is already affecting my blogging

Well, I said before, I hope to keep up with blogging once I have three kids...and it looks like that's already becoming an issue. ;)

Last Friday pregnancy hit me like a two by four between the eyes. Suddenly I am TIRED. I took two long naps Friday and haven't missed a nap since! I'm just sleeping whenever Chance sleeps, which is bad news for Charlie because he gets to be bored for an hour or two. Thankfully, Big Daddy and Nana came to visit. Then Charlie told them he was going home with them! They had compassion on the poor kid and brought him to their house to play. When I talked to him yesterday on the phone I asked if he was having fun, and he said yes, and that he's not ready to come home! Hahaha.

Once again, just like my previous pregnancies, housework has become a major chore. Poor Chuck gets to look through baskets of clean clothes each morning to find what to wear to work. And cooking a real dinner is just about out of the question. I could seriously just lay around all day for days on end and have no problem with it! No going stir-crazy here. :)

Yesterday I did muster the strength to meet a friend at La Cantera Mall and let our boys play together:


Chance's Playdate
[Chance's friend Ethan, what a doll!]

Chance

It was nice to feel normal for a little bit...

So, until my next post, if you wonder what's happening over here, you can bet...absolutely nothing! Just laziness and sleep. Baby-making is hard work! ;)