Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving

November and I have had a love-hate relationship.  The babies have become less predictable with sleep patterns, which throws our whole schedule off.  Constant congestion has created frustrating feedings.  I developed mastitis and thought I might be dying.  I had to supplement with formula for the first time in four months.  I still can't schedule a doctor's appointment for the babies.  We can't get Maddie's Prevacid refilled.  Jackson's Thanksgiving feast was cancelled because of power outages. And on and on...

Despite challenges, we continue to have blessings in abundance.  This month, I have been thankful for:

1. Getting to watch these sweet faces react to their first beach trip and swimming experience.

2. Waking up to this view two days this month.

3. Taking Christmas pictures.  Even though I didn't capture the ideal image I had in mind, we were all able to have a sense of humor about it in the end.

4. Witnessing a loving father in action.  It was especially nice to have Jesse home for six consecutive days.

5. Enjoying multiple days of 70 degree weather at the park.

6. Clearing up Amelia's stubborn diaper rash with nightly baking soda baths.

7. Watching our silliest James master rolling over.

8. Jackson requesting that I take pictures of him with his brother and sisters.  (Confessions from a bad mom: I kept trying to get Jack to leave so I could take the babies' four month photo.)

9. Listening to these two jabber back and forth nonstop.  I sure do love my girls!

Why yes, that would be spit up all over Maddie's shirt.  Surprised?
10. Finding something that entertains James and Amelia during tummy time.  Hello, Catch Me Kitty.

11. Enjoying walks around the neighborhood, even on cold days.

12. Catching Jackson doing sweet things like reading the trio a story.  (So what if they weren't looking?)

13. Packing away all of the preemie and newborn clothes.  Maddie might be the runt, but she's certainly outgrown her first outfit.

14. Taking time to bake and decorate cookies on a rainy Wednesday.

15. Knowing that my kids have the best cousins to play with and learn from.

16. Indulging in two different Thanksgiving feasts on two different days.

17. Discovering that Jackson genuinely enjoys vacuuming out the van.  So helpful!

18. Admiring God's creation during my favorite season.

19. Laughing nonstop on the best date night in a long time.  I pray that I will never take my family for granted for volunteering to watch the kids. 

20. Meeting up with friends and fellow mommies at monthly play dates.

21. Being confident enough to take Jackson for a haircut while wearing Maddie in the Ergo, rocking James and Amelia in their carseats with my feet, and holding Jackson still in my lap.  Bless the hairdresser at Great Clips!

22. Jesse taking the initiative to get my engagement ring fixed and have my wedding ring resized.  I haven't worn either ring since I was pregnant with Jackson so I'm elated to wear such sentimental rings once again.

23. Two words: Magic. Shell. (nom nom nom)

24. Receiving free tickets to the circus and being able to enjoy it with Jackson.

25. Decorating a bit earlier.  Jesse uncharacteristically became the most festive person ever, demanding that all Christmas decorations be up before Thanksgiving. 

Hanging the babies' first ornament.
26. Starting new Christmas traditions with Jackson.

27. Falling in love with cooking/making meals that taste and look this good:

28. Having a total stranger approach our family, pick up our bill, pay for our lunch, and walk out.  I love random acts of kindness (almost as much as K&W mashed potatoes).

29. Purchasing this silicone spatula for $2.  I can't believe how much food was washed down the sink because I couldn't scrape it out of the bowl with my old plastic spatulas.  Seriously, best kitchen utensil ever!

30. Passing National Boards.  I'm not going to trivialize this accomplishment.  Even though I'm not currently teaching, it feels amazing to be recognized for years of hard work.

Friday, November 29, 2013


This is what I heard when I came out of the shower:

Love my Maddie Moo!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Medicaid Migraine

Here's the goose chase we've been on over the last six months:

June 10-We mailed the completed application for Medicaid (for myself and Jackson).  Even though I had Blue Cross Blue Shield through the end of maternity leave, I wanted to get us approved and in the system. The theory was that we could simply add the names of the children once they were born and it would go into effect ASAP. 

July 15-Happy birthday James, Amelia, and Madeline!

July 19-Babies had their first appointment with the pediatrician for weight checks.  Because they weren't expected to have insurance as newborns, the receptionist assumed they'd be added to my insurance. 

Late July-We still hadn't heard from Medicaid.  FYI, the phone system is ridiculous and there is no option to leave a voicemail.  Jesse went to DSS office, only to be told they never received our application.

August 1-Babies had two week check up with pediatrician.  Maddie was back up to birth weight and all three were healthy.  We were told we didn't need to schedule another appointment until two months old.

August 15-I receive a call from a social worker through the hospital.  She informed us that insurance claims must be made within 45 days of birth.  We only had two weeks from that phone call to make sure everything was processed. 

Late August-I spent every morning on the phone with hospital social workers, DSS, and case managers to try and check on the status of our Medicaid.

August 30-Medicaid cards were issued for all four children (with one day to spare).  Praise God!

September 18-We took babies to the pediatrician for their two month well-check (which included four immunizations per child).  The receptionist told us we would either need to pay upfront (almost $700) or reschedule because our Primary Care Physician was incorrect.  They would not accept our insurance until the PCP listed their provider number.

Mid September to Early October-I tried to call the customer service number dozens of times.  You have to listen to about 10 minutes of automated prompts and menus before being directed to the actual Medicaid office.  Again, there is no voicemail so if you don't get through you hear, "We're sorry.  We are currently assisting another client.  Please try again." before you are automatically disconnected.

October 16-Maddie and I went to DSS after her chiropractor appointment.  We waited in line for over an hour and finally got to talk to a kind social worker.  She inputed the correct information into the system and assured me the change would be updated within 7-10 business days.

November 5-We still had not received updated insurance cards.  After dropping Jackson off at preschool, the babies and I waited in line for almost two hours at DSS.  Another social worker looked up our information, confirmed that the PCP had been changed, but informed me that insurance cards were never issued to be mailed.  She requested that the cards be mailed and told me to call (what a joke!) if I didn't receive them within a week.

November 10-When we came back from the beach, we found four new insurance cards in the mail!  Unfortunately, they STILL had the wrong PCP listed!!!

November 12-After dropping Jackson off at preschool, the babies and I went to the pediatrician's office to try to resolve the issue.  The receptionist informed me that they cannot accept our insurance until their provider number is listed.  I happened to glance up and see a letter on the glass door that announced our beloved pediatrician had left the practice.  We still cannot schedule an appointment until our insurance cards are correct.  I was given a list of pediatricians in the area to contact.

Mid-November-I called all local pediatrics offices, only to be told that they are not accepting new Medicaid patients.  I continued to call DSS, only to be disconnected after sitting through the automated prompts.

November 27-Since Jesse had the day off, I was able to go to DSS by myself this time.  The line was rather short, and the social worker assured me that even though their electronic system was down, I would leave with an answer today.  I was given a number and directed towards another waiting area.  When my number was finally called, I went back to speak to a case worker directly.  Here was our conversation:
(I swear I'm not making this up!)

CW: How can I help you today?
Me: I need to update the PCP on my insurance cards.
CW: Did they not tell you that the system is down?
Me: Yes, but I...
CW (interrupted): Yet you chose to wait anyway?  What did you think I could do?
Me: Well, I've been up here four times before and...
CW (interrupted again): Oh, you don't have to explain.  I've heard it all.
I received a text, which caused my phone to vibrate in my purse.
CW: What is that?  Is that your phone?  My God that's annoying.  Turn that off.
Me: Okay.  So what am I supposed to do about the PCP?
CW: Well you can fill out the change of request form and I'll enter it in the system on Monday.  (Hands me the form.)
Me:  But I've already done that multiple times.
CW (rolls eyes): So you don't want me to change your PCP?  That's why you came in here.
Me: I just want to know what the problem is.  I've received new insurance cards but they still have...
CW (interrupted AGAIN): Right.  Well, the only other thing I can do is give you your personal case manager's phone number.
Me: Will that be a direct number?
CW: Yes.  We're closed until Monday.
Me: Fine.

At least I have something new to try on Monday.  The babies have not seen a doctor or had any immunizations in the last four months.  I feel angry and helpless, but I cannot afford the thousands of dollars in medical expenses.   

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

And the Stockings Were Hung

Remember me saying, "I never wanted more than 2-3 kids"?   Well, for Jackson's first Christmas, I bought three stockings for our little family.  Being the obsessive planner that I am, I ran back out that same day and bought two more for my future children.  I wouldn't want stockings that didn't match, so I thought buying two extra would surely be enough. Again, I'm sure God is laughing at the thought that I'm the one in control here.     

A.C. Moore, Michael's, and two different Hobby Lobby stops later, I finally found a matching stocking.  I used a 50% off coupon from the weekly sales ads in addition to my 15% off teacher discount and bought iron-on letters for $2. FYI, I'm pretty sure this morning was the first time I've used an iron since making the stockings for Jackson's first Christmas two years ago.

In the past, the stockings were placed along the banister of our stairs, but six wouldn't fit so we had to get creative.  Jesse found the perfect spot between the dining room and living room.

Madeline's name just barely fit.
 Here's my new favorite view in the house:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Growing Up Too Fast

Let's start with the biggest boy.  We got his preschool pictures back last Thursday.  The photographer is smart to print every pose.  There are no proofs.  You simply select the sheets you want, pay for them, and take them that day.  I assume they just throw away the printed pictures you don't select, which goes to show how cheap it is to print pictures and how much money they make off of you.  I hadn't planned on buying any, but once I saw them I had a hard time narrowing down my purchases.  I can't get over how grown he looks!  Here are the two poses I selected:

The next big boy is continuing to set the curve for the girls.  James' latest development is wanting to be in a standing position at all times.  He constantly puts weight on his legs and he laughs every time he's held and able to jump.  James is really interacting a lot more and reaching for toys.  He continues to have the best head control.

In the past two weeks, James has stubbornly held his bottle.

Ms. Diva has surpassed her brother in the amount of time spent on her tummy. After months of screaming on the floor, Amelia is finally content on the floor.  She still isn't rolling over, but she is beginning to grab her pacifier and other objects while on her tummy.

Amelia continues to exhibit the strongest personality of the family.  She is every bit the diva we call her.  She gets the worst congestion but when I use the nasal bulb to suction it out she has actually snatched it out of my hand.  She's such a mess! 

I'm afraid our sweet Maddie hasn't shown a whole lot of physical advancements.  She struggles to lift her head while on her stomach, but she has fine control while sitting in a bumbo.  Her reflux is slowly improving.  Most days she is able to wear the same outfit all day along, compared to multiple wardrobe changes each day.

She is so mild and meek.  Of the three babies, Maddie is the most gentle and the most talkative.

While she has finally grown into her looks, she still resembles an elf at times with this strange quirk:

And there you have it.  My babies are growing oh so quickly.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Best Saturday Ever

I'd been looking forward to Saturday for a few weeks now because we had several fun things planned.  The day managed to be even better than I expected.

During my 2 a.m. pumping session, I logged into the National Board website, hoping they might release scores early.  I was beyond elated to immediately be directed to this screen:  

With the excitement of passing National Boards, I couldn't sleep.  I started going back through old blog posts and pictures from this same time last year and made an exciting realization.  It's been exactly one year since I took a positive pregnancy test.  I had been having intense symptoms at only 3.5 weeks and got a super dark line right away.  I guess that should have been my first indication there might be more than one baby. 

Reminiscing and celebrating was an amazing start to the day.  I was already in a great mood before 6 a.m.  The morning only got better because we had the opportunity to take Jackson to the circus.  A member of our church donated tickets, so we only had to pay $5 for parking.  My sisters were at our house by 9:30 a.m. to watch the babies so we could have a Mommy/Daddy date with Jackson.  Jack was unusually quiet and sat on Jesse's lap the whole time.  Tigers jumping through hoops of fire, motorcyclists performing tricks, acrobats, fog machines, bright lights, and loud music can be a bit overwhelming for anyone, much less a two year old.  Jackson did a great job and said he had a lot of fun.  Some random Jack quotes: "I not scared of clowns." and "Where are the giraffes?'

After 90 minutes, I was skeptical Jackson could handle the second half of the circus.  We left during intermission to go eat lunch.  Not surprisingly, Jackson requested to go to CiCi's.  It was nice to be able to give so much individual attention to Jackson.  Once home, we were able to briefly visit with my sisters before they left.
Jesse asked if I wanted him to go get a bottle of champagne to celebrate National Board certification.  I said I'd rather nap!  Two peaceful hours later, I was well-rested and ready for our fun evening.
Jesse had purchased tickets for a comedy show that was hosted by one of our favorite radio talk shows. Jesse's parents graciously volunteered to feed and put all four kids to bed while we drove 45 minutes to eat dinner and attend the show.  We had time to kill after dinner so we walked around downtown.  It just so happened to be the same evening as the town's annual tree lighting ceremony.  What a fun surprise!

The comedians did not disappoint.  I laughed 'til I cried and rarely thought about the kids.  After a rough week with schedule changes and babies' fighting sleep, I desperately needed a few hours away.  It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sibling Bond

I bought a set of two big, girly bows in August 2010.

I made the purchase soon after finding out I was pregnant, and it was one of the first and only things I bought.  I just knew I would have a girl.  When the ultrasound revealed I was pregnant with a boy, I cried for hours.  Of course, I quickly fell in love with the idea of having a mama's boy and instantly loved Jackson when he was born.  Still, I tucked those bows away into a closet, hoping I would be able to use them one day. 

The plan was to try to conceive again right away.  If we were to have a girl, our family would be complete.  If our second child was a boy, we would try once more for a girl.  If the third child was a boy, we would stop.  Three strikes; you're out.  I mean really, who would ever want four children? 

Clearly, those "plans" are laughable now.  When we found out I was pregnant with triplets, I prayed there would be two girls and a boy.  Since I knew we were going to have a larger family, I desperately wanted each child to be able to experience what it's like to have a brother and a sister.  Finding out the sexes at 15 weeks was one of the best moments of my pregnancy.   

I can't express into words what it means to have a sister.  Amelia and Madeline will never know life without one another.  Through good, bad, and ugly, they have a bond that can never be separated or replicated. 

And then there are my boys.  James' face lights up every time he sees Jackson.  James will always have someone to look up to, and Jackson will always have his sidekick. 

This is the family I never knew I wanted and I am so, so thankful for these kids each day.