Baby Parade entry

We entered out twins in our local county fair’s annual miniature baby parade yesterday. We have so much fun doing this each year. They are only allowed to enter if they haven’t turned three yet as of the day of the contest. Our older daughter entered all three years she was eligible and this was the second time for the twins.

Published in: on August 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

It has been a while, and starting new adventures

It has been quite a while since I’ve had a chance to update my blog — it has been a VERY busy year. The twins are now 16 months old and my older daughter is getting ready to start her second year of preschool. All three girls have quite distinct personalities and it has been a fun and challenging year watching them grow and guiding them as parents.

We’ve been doing some tent camping this summer and enjoyed trips to Deep Creek Lake State Park in Deep Creek, MD; Patapsco State Park in Catonsville, MD and Fox Den Acres (foxdenacres.com) in New Stanton, PA. All of us have greatly enjoyed the trips and the children especially like the thrill of sleeping in a tent. We hope to get in another 2 or 3 weekends before the weather turns too cold to get away, so stay tuned for the camping posts.

I’m about to embark on “freezer cooking” to better manage our time and budget. I have two books on the subject: “Once-a-Month Cooking” by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg and “Don’t Panic — Dinner’s in the Freezer” by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell & Bonnie Garcia. Since we do a highly sodium restricted diet, I expect that I’ll be heavily modifying the recipes in the book and plan to blog about the experiences. Right now, I’m looking over the books and drafting my menu and shopping lists for my first attempt. I’ve done freezer meals at a commercial setting at “Let’s Eat” in Ellicott City, MD (sadly now closed) and at “Let’s Dish” in Columbia, MD and they were great and I loved them, but because of the sodium restrictions, I can’t use them any more, plus the at home version must be more economical! (I hope!!)

Published in: on August 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Favorite ages and stages…

I love the ages that my children are now. My oldest daughter is 3 1/2 and started pre-school two days a week this fall. I love her enthusiasm about everything and they way that her brain reasons things out. I love how wonderful she is with her sisters. My twins are 6 months old and are not yet mobile but are very reactive and interactive and definitely starting to communicate in ways other than just crying.

I definitely can’t claim to be a perfect mother (but then again who is?) but I feel like I must be doing something right whenever I look at my smiley, happy children that get along well with each other.

I was concerned while I was pregnant that the almost exactly 3 year age gap between my children and have twins at that would cause jealousy issues with my older daughter. I can honestly say I haven’t seen jealousy at all. Yes, she absolutely wants to do what they are doing (including climbing into one of their exersaucers while one of the twins are in the other so she can show them what they are doing) and want to participate when I play a game with them (during diaper changes I usually play with each baby for a few minutes — smelling and kissing toes (it’s a long time game of mine to pretend their toes are super stinky and I always get grins and giggles)), blowing on bellies and kissing their checks and my older daughter is often hovering to see if she’ll get included (which of course I do!) and will often hold up her foot to tell me her toes are NOT stinky and then peals of laughter when I tell her that they are VERY stinky. The baby games aren’t exactly age appropriate for a 3 year old and we probably wouldn’t do them if we didn’t have the babies, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to include her in the play and I think makes her closer to her sisters.

On the babies’ part, they actively seek my older daughter’s attention. And she happily gives it to them. While I’m making dinner, the twins often sit in matching reclined gliding chairs. I check on the them often and almost always will find them with added toys on their laps. My older daughter has tea parties with them and each baby ends up with a tea cup. Or she plays baby dolls and each of the babies will have one of HER dolls. It’s so heartwarming to see how much she shares with them.

It’s wonderful for her that they are able to interact back with her — many days she would wake up when they were newborns and ask me if they were big enough to play with her yet.

I hope this means that they will be best friends and I can only imagine the fun they will all have together growing up.

Published in: on October 19, 2009 at 2:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Health care thoughts

Wow! I was stunned to read yesterday that a baby in Colorado was denied health coverage at 4 months old because he had a pre-existing condition. He is “obese” at 17 pounds because he was greater than the 95th percentile for his weight. After this made national news, the insurance company, Rocky Mountain Health has reversed itself and is now not using height and weight as eligibility for infants. Good for their policy change, but it’s pretty sad that this little boy’s parents had to go through the stress of the denial and it was only the national coverage and reaction that made the company change. There is absolutely no such thing as an obese 4 month old, especially not a breastfed one! Clearly the underwriter has no experience with infants to make such a determination. The insurance company is blaming more people seeking individual policies because they don’t have health coverage through their jobs (either no job or the job dropped coverage or made it too expensive for the employee) and that they are new to individual coverages for families with children (which seems disingenuous to me as there have always been families without coverage because of self-employment) so this was the first time it came up. Perhaps, although I think it more likely it was the first time a parent was denied coverage and made the reason public.

Clearly, stories like this illustrate the problems in our health care system. It seems blatantly unfair that whether or not you can get health coverage is predicated on your job. Someone with a pre-existing condition like asthma can get coverage through their employer’s group policy, but not through an individual policy where they are personally scrutinized and accepted or not. I understand the economic reasons: the group absorbs the higher cost of the individual claims; however, that is supposed to be true of the entire insurance company so any individual that buys coverage from an insurer is supposed to be covered by the entire collective of insured people. The denial of insurance to those who need it the most does need to be remedied.

I don’t think the current plans in Congress will necessarily fix that problem though but will most certainly affect everyone else as the insurance companies rush to cover themselves so they can make the most money and raise rates on everyone.

I honestly believe that the solution to the problem is re-evaluate how our medical facilities are paid. Quite honestly, I believe that medicare is the biggest problem with our health care system. Not that people receive medicare, but the rates that medicare pays. Almost all medicare rates are below the actual cost of the services and the facilities and doctors can not cover their costs if 100% of their patients are medicare patients. They make up this gap by increasing their costs to all non-medicare patients. Insurance companies negotiate rates with the providers (or more correctly, also tell the providers “this is what we pay if you want to treat our patients as a preferred provider”). That’s why if you have insurance you receive an explanation of benefits that shows what the provider billed and what the insurance paid and there is almost always a gap. That billed amount is inflated to cover the losses that are incurred from Medicare and some insurers paying less than the actual costs and overhead of the procedures. This leaves those without insurance with unreasonably high bills that they can not afford. Health care related expenses is the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country.

I think the most basic fix to our health care system would be to set fair and reasonable rates for all services that EVERYONE pays the same for. Providers won’t have to overinflate their costs to a percentage of their patients to make up for the shortfalls of other patients. Medicare, health insurance and private pay should all pay the same rate — an x-ray is an x-ray no matter how it is paid for.

Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Traditions

One of the things I enjoy most about being a mom is watching the world through my children’s eyes. The marvel at the fullness of the moon, the delicate dance of a dandelion spores floating away on the wind of my daughter’s breath and the pure magical glee of discovery of the things we take for granted. Yesterday, we relived a tradition from my childhood and went as a family to Hunting Lake in the Houck area of Cunningham State Park. My husband had never been before and we had a pleasant afternoon. The water of the lake is relatively warm, they have a fine sand beach and grass and trees surrounding the lake. Some pleasant splashing in the water (my oldest daughter seems to be part mermaid) a little sand castle building and some climbing on the play ground rounded out our afternoon.

What made the day so special to me, is that I can remember doing all those same things with my mom and dad as a child. The lake has changed a little — I certainly don’t remember the bath house being so spacious or clean and it has a modern feel to it. I really don’t think it was there in the 1970’s in it’s current incarnation. There are picnic tables and grills available and I look forward to going back again and again.

For us, this little bit of peace in the mountains is about an hour from our house, which makes it closer than the beaches at the shore. There is almost no traffic between our house and there (perhaps a bit near Frederick depending on the time of day, but nothing like what can happen on the Bay Bridge) and there are no waves to knock over the children in the water. Picnics are welcome and there is only a small entrance fee to the park (during the season it is $3 a person, with children in carseats free).

Will we still go back to the ocean? Of course, that is a totally different experience (also filled with my childhood memories… a trip to Nicola feels incomplete without eating at Nicola Pizza and riding the rides at Funland) and one that will continue to be cherished. But it’s not practical to go to the beach for a quick afternoon, and it is perfect to do so at Hunting Lake.

I hope that my daughters end up with memories of their childhood as fond as the ones I have of mine.

Published in: on September 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A day for beginnings

I had the teary experience of taking my three year old to her first real day of preschool today. She told me she was scared before we left the house and was much more subdued that usual, but gamely entered her classroom. She’s been talking about school for a month so the last minute nerves were a little unexpected. I shed a few tears in the parking lot after dropping her off. After she got home, she rushed to check on “her” babies and gave each of the not quite 5 month old twins a kiss. She later crawled into my lap and confessed that she missed me.

Later this afternoon, I’ve had cause to reflect on the status of being an “older” mom. This wasn’t entirely by design on my part… I had my children after age 35 (that great label of “Advanced Maternal Age” slapped casually across my medical chart)… but I did so because I chose to refuse to settle for less than I deserved in a husband for life and parental partner. The nature of the timing of our meeting (after I was already in my 30’s) precluded me from having children earlier than I did. But upon reflection, I wouldn’t change it. I believe that if I changed a single moment of my life, then my life would be so altered as to be unrecognizable and my children wouldn’t be my children and I wouldn’t be the wife, mother, friend, sister or daughter that I am. If things were different, then I wouldn’t be the me that I am. Which makes the heartaches and tears of the past currency I am glad to have paid in retrospect.

The announcement that the Duggar’s are expecting their 19th child seems to have polarized the net. I had a conversations with a friend’s friend who insisted that she was “concerned” about “the complications usually associated with older women having babies.” Another friend of mine read this comment and took offense at being labeled “older” at 42 (not that she is, but we are close enough to shudder at the label attached to that age). I scratched my head over why anyone would be concerned for a complete stranger needing to deal with the complications of a post-35 pregnancy. I also asked which complications she was explicitly referring to… other than the complication of a judgmental public.

Her response was the difficulty in conceiving a child “later” in a woman’s fertile age. Hmmm…. I’m not quite sure I understand why that would be a concern, since quite obviously Michelle Duggar was able to do so without “complication” Her argument then turned to 42 being very close to 50 and 50 being too old to have children. I don’t see that “in the scheme of things 42 is not a far cry from 50.” Are there complications for having a child at an “Advanced Maternal Age?” Absolutely. But those are between a woman, her husband and her doctor, not strangers who will likely never meet the child or his or her parents.

I don’t understand the need for everyone to pass judgment on other people who have chosen a different lifestyle than they have. I do believe that as long as someone is not being neglected or harmed, that most people have a “right” to make their own choices. If you choose to have 5, 9, 14 or 19 children and are able to care for them and provide for their physical and emotional needs, then why should anyone else have any right to judge? If you choose to have no children or a single child or two children, why should anyone else judge you and tell you that your circumstances are wrong? It does not have any direct impact on their lives, so why do people feel the compulsion to judge?

I offer my congratulations to the Duggar family and with those congratulations, I turn my attention back to the things that actually affect my life — the love and emotions of my own three children and my husband.

Published in: on September 1, 2009 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment