Monday, June 29, 2009

Seven years

Seven years ago today, I married my husband. We had a perfect day for an outdoor wedding in Colorado.

We wrote our own ceremony, including our vows. We did not share our vows with each other until the moment we said them to each other. I remember our minister showed up and said that I had never emailed him the vows. Of course I had. My maid of honor helped me to reconstruct them.

I remember my mom looking at me and saying "You look just beautiful," and getting misty eyed. My mom is a hard woman, at times, and for her to both compliment me unreservedly and get misty eyed was a Big Moment for me.

My favorite part of any wedding is not looking at the bride, but watching the groom as the bride walks down the aisle and seeing his face. I could not wait to walk down the aisle. My mom was escorting me, since my dad had passed away in 1989. She had to actually physically hold me back and whispered "slow down" after we started. I did. Then I looked at Jeremy. I didn't look away or at anyone or anything else (at least, not that I remember).

This is the place we were married. We crossed the little bridge and the ceremony was on the other side.

We faced each other throughout the whole ceremony, holding both hands, and grinning like fools at each other. He squeezed my hands repeatedly. He actually misted too, when we said our vows. I, of course, very nearly wept openly. He mouthed "I love you" to me during the ceremony repeatedly, and I blew kisses to him in return. And then when we kissed, he placed his hands on either side of my face and we kissed. Really kissed. I have a frame at home of five different angles of that kiss that our friends and family sent to me after. I have that kiss framed from almost every angle.

Since then, we've had, between us, four different jobs, one incredible and near-perfect honeymoon, one vacation to Kauai, three dogs, five miscarriages (one after Brody was born), and our greatest achievement and blessing, our beautiful son. I don't know how many fights we've had since then, but I know we've made up one more time than the number of those fights. We've waited through 12 surgeries and three hospitalizations for Brody, sometimes together, and sometimes apart. We've cried together, been in marriage counseling together, contemplated bankruptcy and losing our home together, laughed at inappropriate things together, made each other giggle uncontrollably, ranted and raved to each other about the world and its complete lack of regard for fairness at times. We've sat side by side and gave 10 vials of blood at once to find out why we could not have a child. We traveled to a foreign country to have a medical procedure that would make it so we could have a child. We've campaigned for Obama together, imitated each other's most deplorable habits, cared for each other through colds and flus and hangovers, celebrated our personal achievements and victories together, read with pride each other's glowing job evaluations, grown up into adulthood together, become parents together, annoyed the hell out of each other and loved each other for seven years.

Marriage is more work than we ever thought it would be on June 29, 2002. I cannot believe how naive we were about marriage, and life in general. But marriage has also become much more satisfying and means much more than we thought it would too.

Happy Anniversary to my handsome, creative, impossibe, beautiful husband.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A free offer

Obviously, by Monday I really meant by Wednesday. See? I'm on time.

Now for the free offer....

A few months ago, after I wrote the announcement, I received an email from a man at Silkfair. I had never heard of Silkfair, but he found my blog one night and was moved by the post that he read. He offered to do some amazing things for the Five Skies Foundation (working title) through Silkfair as far as promoting the nonprofit on their site (and I will take him up on that hopefully very soon).

At any rate, after my Medicaid debacle, I received another email from yet another Silkfair employee. How awesome are these people? Offering help to strangers.

Let me explain Silkfair and then tell you about what the first 50 readers of this post are going to be able to receive.

Silkfair is like Ebay or Etsy, but better, more functional, more user-friendly, and, here is the really good part, cheaper.

The latest way to sell anything is by using Silkfair's new selling tool, the "Silkfair Custom Shop."

The Custom Shop was created to address some basic needs in the market: to give sellers the leverage to retain and promote their brands (instead of sending their fans to third party sites).
For those online sellers that are put off by, or simply cannot afford, the cost of selling on eBay or Etsy (with listing fees, etc.), Silkfair is a cost-friendly alternative for setting up shop online. They are also making use of the eBay and Etsy import tools to easily move their stores without disruption or tech hassle.

This new tool is priced monthly at $24.99 and NO commission or listing fees. It is essentially doing for e-commerce today what Google's has done for the public blogosphere -- making it super-simple and affordable for anyone to do it. And making it personal. Compare two shops: one using regular Silkfair, and the other using the Custom Shop.

Here is the free part. Silkfair is graciously offering two months FREE Custom Shops for the first 50 readers who respond to the offer.

That's a $50 value. And that's not including the money you will make for selling your knitting projects, photography, jewelry, vintage items in your home, paintings, collectibles, hand made stationery, baby items, etc.

Lest you think I'm being hoodwinked, here is what some other people have had to say about the greatness that is Silkfair: an ebay alternative that shines; lauding the custom shop (and offering a deal not nearly as FREE as the one they are offering to us); and an article in the Wall Street Journal.

To get the 2 months free offer, here is the coupon that you'll need when you sign up:

* Coupon code : launch09pub* Set to Expire: on 7/16/2009* Redemption Qty Limit : none* Subscription plan name : Risk-free Intro Special #1 * Details of plan : First 2 months free, thereafter at regular price $24.99

The coupon code is also set to expire by 7/16, and it's without quantity limit for redemptions. When you sign up for the custom shop, you will see 2 plans presented, and a coupon code field with a "Show Hot Deals" button. Yoou need to key in the coupon code, and then click Submit, and that will show you the 2 months free plan to be selected.

Here is a step-by-step instruction for signup :

1. User selects "Start Up" button from Silkfair homepage Custom Shop banner.

2. Register on Non-non Member if no account yet on Silkfair.

3. Click "OK" on the pop-up window notification reminding user to click on email verification in their InBox.

4. Click "Yes" to 'Create your shop. Do you have anything to sell?"

5. Enter credit card information on the 'Seller Identification Verification' pop-up window, and save.

6. Click "Yes" to 'Do you want Custom Shop?'

7.Select a template

8.Enter a coupon code. Authorization and subscription goes through.

9.Congratulations! Your custom shop is now ready.

Thank you Silkfair and Mona and Andy. Any questions, post them in the comments and I bet they will answer.

And yes, I'm setting up my own Custom Shop to sell the jewelry I make. That will, naturally, deserve its own blog post.

Friday, June 19, 2009


~~I got a voicemail from our - get this - Medicaid case worker. Who is sending us a letter saying that we have Medicaid coverage to give to the doctors. I'll believe it when I see it. But I'm so very hopeful.

~~I've gotten a wonderful offer from a person who reads this blog. I will post it Monday. It's an offer for all of my readers (!) too. Something free. I adore free. (Hi Mona!)

~~Today I looked up the difference between capital and capitol; and I researched when minutes were invented. Answer to the second? Mesopotamia. Who knew? Well, obviously someone.

~~Except for Sarah, no one has sent me their address for the free stuff. Here's a hint: it's jewelry. Email me your addresses (through my profile). Rebecca, Tiffany, Jacque, Jess - this means you! And anyone else.

~~If you google "Sugarplum Swank," this blog is the very first thing that comes up. And pretty much the only thing that comes up. If you google Brody, this site doesn't come up at all. But, if you google "bilateral radial club hands" and "Vacterl," this blog is on the first page of google results.

~~June 29 is our 7th wedding anniversary. We asked my mother-in-law to take Brody overnight on the Saturday before, and she agreed. Then she offered to take him overnight Friday and Saturday. I am on the fence. Please advise. Could I be away from him for a whole weekend?

~~Brodyism: "I'm a big boy, but little too."

~~Sometimes Brody will ask me to stay in his room at night. Once, I was so tired I offered, "Mommy's got to go bed, sweetie. You want my shirt?" I figured maybe the smell of mommy would be worth something. He said yes, and now, sometimes, he asks for my (night) shirt to be put on him like his blankie. It melts my heart when he says that, and then to see him cuddle my shirt smiling and asleep.... it is one of the better things I've witnessed.

~~ I worked late one night this week, and didn't get home until 8pm. Instead of finding my husband and son reading books, with Brody dressed in PJs and washed and ready for bed, I came home to the two of them watching one of those insufferable reality dance shows and perfecting their own dance routine, which included a Dirty Dancing style of lift, and something that Brody called a twist jump. It was awesome.

~~Two friends of mine, two friends who have saved me a lot, are having awful news come at them this week; heartbreaking news. I don't know how to help. Please keep them in your thoughts and, if you pray, your prayers too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Mystery of Medicaid Mesmerizes

Interesting little letter arrived in the mail over the weekend. It's a medical service questionnaire from Colorado Medicaid Program.

First, however, I wanted to share with you why the health care system is broken.

Bill from hospital last fall. Brody had an outpatient esophageal dilation. General anesthetic, outpatient, and the procedure is not in the OR - it's in a regular room. Total procedure time is less than 20 minutes. We were in at 7am and out by about 3pm.

Total billed by the hospital? Guess.




No. Wrong. Too low.



According to the bill from the hospital, Aetna paid $6831.51.

Then a favorite phrase for anyone struggling with medical bills: "New account adjustments", aka, "contractual adjustment" : $9598.00. The hospital deducted $9598 from the bill for no apparent reason. How mysterious and amazing.

Due from us? $208.49.

Really? You, the hospital, can write off almost $10,000 in your bill but you still see fit to bill us for two hundred bucks???? It's absolutely maddening.

I'd like my own contractual adjustment, please.

Back to the mystery of medicaid.

Apparently, the hospital ER we went to during one of Brody's tooth jamming episodes billed Medicaid for their services. And Colorado Medicaid wants to know who is to blame for B's injury - was it an assault? Was it a car accident? Do I plan to bring legal action against anyone?

I dug through our pile of 2009 bills. At the very top of the bill, in small print, it's there. The hospital has billed our insurance company and Medicaid. I looked more closely at the bill: both are on there.

Do we have Medicaid? What the......

After 90 minutes on hold and calling three different offices, I've requested a coverage letter from the Medicaid people.

I might be able to make the bills go away. This is the hospital associated with the hospital at which Brody lived for the first six weeks of his life, the one at which we did have Medicaid because Brody was so ill and so little when he was born. It must have been in the system, but obviously - even though we never applied for Medicaid after he was discharged, there seems to be some indication that somehow, despite our income, Brody has it.

Google has not actually helped in my search. I put the question to my friends at the Vacterl Network chat group, and have received many interesting answers about available money for kids regardless of income.

I distinctly remember, in September 2006, the hospital social worker telling me that after Brody was discharged, we would not qualify for Medicaid because of our income and that, to even try, we'd have to apply.

Which I didn't even bother to do because the social worker assured me.....

I'm utterly flabbergasted and suspicious and confused.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Disappointed in myself

I'm organizing the medical bills. We are still paying them from January 2007. I shudder to think what the grand total is, and I am even more grateful for Shriners. Of Brody's 12 surgeries, five of them have been at Shriners, that is, completely free of charge.

And still we are drowning.

And so why am I disappointed in myself?

Because my first reaction to anything like this is to ignore it.

Ignore medical bills.

Hope they go away.

Now we have some in collection. Lovely.

We're on payment plans but seriously - at some point, there just is no more money.

And then I read an article that says that 75% of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills and the medical bills total for those people averages $29,000.

Which made me laugh.

If we only owed $29,000 in medical bills, it'd be easy.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shock a bird, build your kid's self-esteem?

Brody has 4 fingers on each hand. Well, now he has 6 fingers and two thumbs. I am over the moon happy about that. He looks at his hands - specifically his new thumbs - and tells me that they are "beautiful," and "perfect," as he has heard us say so many times.

He insists, however, that when he holds up his whole hand and all his fingers, that there are FIVE.

When I ask him, for example, if he wants one or two pieces of toast, he holds up all of his fingers on one hand and says "Five, mommy! I want five toast!"

Or when we practice counting to ten, he goes to his hand, and says "Five!"

What the hell do I do? So far, after lots of thought, I've come up with....nothing. I just let it be. I figure sooner or later he'll figure it out. And since it's okay to have 4 fingers, or 8 or 11 or 2, what's the big deal. But should we be discussing this? Ignoring it? Save it for later? Don't ask, don't tell? I don't know. But it's factually inaccurate.

This quandary led me to buy this book. Building self-esteem for, as we say, differently limbed children.

I still hate all these labels I see everywhere. Although I can live with differently limbed. I made that one up based on children with a limb difference that this organization - whose picnic we are attending in August - gave me.

For example, I hate describing Brody or other kids as special - because we all are. I don't really enjoy differently abled - because we all are. I hate handicapped - because we all are in one way or another. But I hate these labels not just for the technical inaccuracies, but mostly I hate them because they are associated with negative implications or inferior inferences. And Brody - and every other person - does not deserve that lot in life. Maybe those associations are all in my head, but they still exist for me.

But it's also that the judgment with these labels - it is not friendly or nice; it's condescending, pure and simple. I detest condescension.

I like limb difference because it's factually accurate and nothing more.

Which leads me to Brody and the five. Do I emphasize it? I have in the past and I think I was wrong. I made a guy in a Red Robin costume jump in the restaurant when, one night at dinner, the giant bird came to visit our table, and I said to Brody "Look! He's got three fingers and a thumb, just like you!" The bird jerked his considerable head to Brody's hands. I smiled. Brody loves that Red Robin bird.

Is that wrong? I want Brody to have positive experiences about his hands, but then I think that just emphasized the difference and maybe was negative? How much self esteem can a kid get from having hands like a big red bird mascot? Talk about grasping at straws.

I don't know.

But it was kind of fun to shock the bird.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Brodyisms: Love is in the air

This morning, Brody woke up, padded out of his room. I was already in the living room, reading. He was holding his monkey and his yellow ball that he insisted on having in his bed with him.

B (at the top of the stairs): Hi mommy!

Me: Hi Brody! (climbing up the stairs to him)

B: Mommy, I love you sooo much!

Me: You do? That is so nice. I love you so much too! (picking him up)

B: I love daddy so much. I wanna hug a you. (we hug) That was a big squishy hug, mommy.

Me: Those are the best kind (walking into his room)

B: I wanna kiss. (He puts both hands on either side of my face) Mmmm (kissing me on the lips, with no drool for a change). That was a squishy kiss mommy!

Me: That was a squishy kiss. (changing his diaper now)

B: I like jeraffe and ellphants.

Me: I like them too.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I believe that, at times, the universe sends you signs. Signs of which we should take heed. Signs that confirm we should follow our intuition. Little pushes in the direction we should travel.

I received an email from a company - which apparently bought my email from some travel website. At any rate, this new site is having a contest. Who deserves a vacation and why.

So I entered it. Here is my submission.

Here's hoping.

Universe? I want to win this vacation, please.

Thank you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What is right with the world

A bit of happiness.

Remember Stacy who played the trick on me for April Fool's day about adopting her second child - and first son - from China? Remember swine flu and the travel alerts?

It all worked out. Click here to get a smile for the day.