THE COBRA STRIKES

After a couple of weeks wondering do we or don’t we, I received a letter confirming that we would qualify for the COBRA subsidy.

This is where you can go ahead and move to the next blog in your feed because I’m going to share some information about this subsidy, and since most of you lucky bastards still either have jobs, or your spouses still have jobs or you are independently stinking-filthy rich and don’t have to worry about such trivial matters like “paychecks” and “health insurance coverage” or “shit-canning”.

I was fired in January, conveniently planned so that my first full pay period check in 2009 had been deposited, which was my way of accepting that all information for year was correct, and with the loss of my job that I had had for 9 years and 11 months, I had also lost the health insurance coverage, and any other benefits that come from a large employer, for me and my family.

At the time, the subsidy bill hadn’t been passed, so accepting COBRA benefits was not an option at $1,000 a month to continue coverage without worrying about pre-existing (specifically my asthma and XBoy’s ADHD) conditions being excluded through a private health plan. Unfortunately, at the time, independent insurance it was all we could afford so we made the appropriate steps to get signed up.

Words of warning here: if you have suddenly lost employer paid health insurance, DO NOT delay finding a replacement, whatever means necessary. After filling out stupid forms, and talking to reps on the phone to get details of our health issues, and general delays with reviews and more required signatures, we JUST got a letter from the independent insurance company that we were eligible for coverage effective at the beginning of May as they will not retro the effective dates of coverage. If this COBRA subsidy thing hadn’t happened, we would have been without coverage of any kind for 3 months, even though I was ball-rolling back in January.

It was the middle of February when the COBRA subsidy was passed by Obama. I contacted my former employer’s HR department as well as COBRA carrier for more information on qualifying and they were as useless as tits on a boar, as the saying goes. Actually, NO ONE seemed to know any details, since I was googling the hell out of it and finding nothing. The U.S. Government is great at passing shit before they have figured out how to actually make it work. Kind of like what they’ve done to Medicare.

The skinny on the subsidy is that if you lost your job involuntarily (you didn’t quit of your own accord) or you weren’t fired because of gross misconduct (peeing in the office coffee pot), you qualify for the 65% reduction to your COBRA premiums.

The sucky part is that the actual reduction in premiums didn’t become effective until February 17th, for anyone. What does that mean? If your employer requires the premium payment in monthly installments, and you have to pay a month in advance, you’ll be paying full premium until March 1st. In my case, that meant that I only had to pay February’s full $1,000 premium, and now for nine more months, I’ll only have to pay $350.

In theory.

Since my employer was being douchey about my eligibility and delaying this and delaying that, I have already had to pay three months in full premiums. $3,000 is hard to come up with when one of the family coffers contributors is suddenly making 75% of the annual wage, which is considerably more than 0% since I was lucky enough to find temp work quickly, but still. It sucks in a limpy, cold, stinky kind of way. THAT level of suck.

So if you lost your job in September? Full premium for you until at least February, March at the latest.

For us, we’ll be riding the coattails of the subsidy through 2009, but hello! It’s already June Eve! I’m making sure that everyone gets their check-ups done, prescriptions are refilled, and that I get the most out of my reduced premiums while I can.

Right now, that’s more important than ever.

You see, this week I also found out that the position with the law office has fallen through. I wasted three months of job hunting because I hung my hat on a “sure bet”, and any bet is a gamble. I gambled and lost and didn’t hedge my bets elsewhere. I’ve got that flutter of panic deep in my guts once again since the temp position is dwindling down to a handful of weeks and I’ve got nothing but more potential temp work to fall back on. I feel like that grasshopper in the fable that failed to prepare for the harsh winter, and I’m about to get my green guts shmooshed by the fickle foot of fate.

I have another, and thankfully much shorter, PSA about Flickr to follow very shortly.

HOG TIED

I remember at different times reading or hearing this question from parents:

How do I keep my baby still when changing their diaper?

And I always thought, wow, you’re an idiot because you’re an ADULT and the squirmy individual in question is a BABY. Good lord. You outweigh them by a good 100 lbs at least.

Remember, I’m Judgey McJudgemental, or something.

ZGirl loves being on the changing table. When she was a newborn, she could be hungry or tired or whatever crankification overcomes newborn, but once we put her on the changing table she always calms down.

But…and you knew there had to be one – or should I say – Butt…

That girl will have quite a career in wrestling if she can keep up her current physical abilities or at least, be able to wipe the floor up with XBoy when the sibling rivalry takes on a physical manifestation.

I can have her laying (lying??) on the floor in front of me for either a dressing, an undressing or a diaper change, whatever, and have a firm hold of one leg and the little snit can twist herself over to her front like she’s preparing for a wheelbarrow race before I can even position a diaper under her little behind.

I now have to snug up my legs on either side of her body so she can’t roll over. Obviously this is when the latent banshee comes out. I’ve even had to go so far as putting her down in front of me so I could position one leg over her chest while I work on the other end.

Post-bath is the worst time. Pajamas? Bitch, please! Diapers? They’re for babies pussies!! It’s Happy Naked Time and I’m not going to let you take away the “naked” and if I have to, I’ll give you UN-happy. So by the time I’ve been able to wrangle one teeny tiny Tasmanian devil into a diaper, especially if I’ve failed to amuse her for the one eternal minute with something shiny (my necklace even though she broke it) or crinkly (plastic bags are dangerous, dangerous, dangerous, but holy hell, they can offer 30 seconds of quiet zoning) or her favorite distraction – a wipe that she will tear up into little pieces and eat – I feel as if I should throw up my arms and look at the timer while I get my horse.

What? You have no idea what I’m talking about? Then you need to watch this short little google video that demonstrates what Baby Wrangling is like. You can skip the first 40 seconds and just watch the last 20, if you’re in a hurry.

And while my daughter makes a complete fool out of me and my inability to keep her still for just a few minutes, I will still mock you if ask how to keep your baby still during diaper changes. Because I’m a bitch, that’s why.

SUBJECT MATTER

For the first time since ZGirl was born last July, I suggested to Mr. DD that we should talk to XBoy about the donor.

Because XBoy is 7 years older, I really feel that it’s important not to wait until ZGirl is two or three before approaching the subject with him. I fear that he may look at the first couple of years with ZGirl with something akin to deception if we wait that long. Maybe in not such a definitive manner, but later when he’s reached teen and adult age, he may use it as an excuse or a way of lashing out.

I also know that his exposure to peers in school will introduce him to the concept of sex before I’m ready to deal with it myself, and I just think it would be more prudent for him to know that sex is more than dirty talk between a group of boys and a way of teasing girls (I didn’t tell you how XBoy came home the other day from school and asked me what “gay” meant. Of course I tried to explain it means happy, but he knew that the way the kids were using it, it was derogatory and clearly they were not calling him “happy”.).

Mr. DD doesn’t think telling XBoy about ZGirl’s conception is a good idea. He worries that XBoy will run his mouth about it to both friends and family. While I don’t care so much about his friends, since who’s going to give much thought to a 6 or 7 year old trying to repeat something another 7 year old told them, especially about “eggs” and “embryos” and “donor gametes”? However, I am concerned about this information becoming family table fodder.

I believe that as long as we don’t make a big deal, (It’s a secret! Don’t tell anyone!!), or that the information is a topic of contraband, and that we keep it very, very simple, XBoy should walk away from the discussion as if we had just told him that we were going to repaint the living room.

For me, that means keeping the birds and bees out of the conversation as much as possible. Instead I thought I would just use the approach that women have eggs that can become babies but sometimes those eggs are bad. In those rare cases, couples can sometimes use the eggs of other women to make babies…and that’s what we did in ZGirl’s case. Is that a too simplistic way of broaching the subject of donor eggs for the first time with a 7 year old? Of course we would welcome the questions as they are asked. I just feel, and maybe I’m wrong about it, that this is something that should be trickled in for assimilation and not dumped.

Other questions for you: Do you think I should wait until ZGirl hears it first? Do you think Mr. DD might be on to something as to XBoy spilling the beans prematurely to family (BTW, I’ve intentionally started planning this to coincide with the summer break)? Am I providing a disservice to my son and taking the chickenshit way out by not talking about intercourse and ovaries and gonads and penises and vaginas and sperm (oh, my!)?

JUST TRY TO GUESS WHERE THE TRANSITIONS IN CONVERSATION ARE IN THIS POST

Everyone just needs to stop emailing me and begging for my next post. Here’s a list of those of you who were wondering if I was OK and inquiring as to my writing schedule:

  • ______

Yeeaahhhh.

OK, so three days doesn’t seem like an inordinate amount of time to some of you, but for me? I’m wondering if my keyboard has been laced with crank. No, not the crank I emote. The crank you snort, silly.

ZGirl is going to be 10 months old this week. She’s already been showing some early signs of toddlerhood (the pitching a shitfit kind) and I am so not ready to give up my BABEEEEE!

XBoy came home from school a couple Mondays ago and said, “We missed the school’s Spring Concert yesterday.” (insert pouty face and sad eyes). “Oh, no!” we replied. How could this have happened?? There was no note from the teacher. Nothing on the school’s website or the calendar. I emailed his teacher about it. She replied:

I did send home notes with the students on white paper, however while we were making stars to use as decoration for the concert XBoy told me that he wasn’t going to be able to come so when he wasn’t there, I didn’t think twice about it.

BUSTED. And like how.

He confessed that he didn’t want to go so I did what any mom would do in that situation. I made him feel like shit by saying that he only gets one Spring Concert a year and this was the only one he’d have as a 1st Grader and mom and dad and grandma are very sad that we didn’t get to see him sing with his class or see his artwork hanging (combo Spring Concert and Art Show). He was appropriately shamed.

The rabbit still lives.

Now that I’ve typed that I wonder how many of my readers will think I’m pregnant when someday I post, “The rabbit died.”

My friend’s ovaries have been bitch-slapped out of their coma and produced 3 follicles after her 3rd round of increasing dosage of clomid. The first two rounds were bust. I’m really, REALLY hoping for her.

I have had a post about secondary infertility in my drafts for a couple weeks now. I don’t know if it will ever come out of there as I’m struggling with my desire to work out some aggravation as opposed to my ever present sensitivity to my faithful readers. Yes, that was sarcasm. Gold star for you.

I am NOT writing a book. You can relax now.

This is an awesome response to a babysitter who was in serious need of a Nunya Smack.

I hate Period Poops, don’t you?

RING-RING

Don’t you miss the good ole’days when telemarketers were human?

It’s not satisfying in the least to hang-up on a souless recording. I mean, where’s the angst as to whether you should hang-up on some poor sap just trying to make a living on minimum wage as opposed to snarling, “No thank you!” when having your evening meal that you spent all evening preparing (by taking it out of the bucket and putting on paper plates) interrupted?

MAY ALL YOUR DAYS BE HAGGY

It was not a weekend where I was served waffles with strawberries and whipcream along with a venti cup of mocha with a splash of raspberry nor did we venture out once refreshed from a 10 hour snooze to a brunch replete with mimosas. Nor did I wake to find that my son had skipped out to the lilac bushes and plucked fragrant blooms to arrange in childish innocence and flair in one of my colorful copper glasses for the table.

Oh, no. Mother’s Day was heralded in when, while sitting at the counter snarfing up my egg and bacon sandwich and noting that my son had already christianed the spot as I stuck my hand in a cold dollop of yellow egg right after I stepped on an errant cheerio, Mr. DD handed over one of these as if he was presenting the crown jewels on a plush velvet pillow:

sawzall

Nothing says “thanks for bearing bearing the fruit of my loins” like a sawzall.

He obviously did not recall the email exchange that turned into this post on how to make a body disappear.

I can also assure you, it wasn’t because we are into experimental sexual adventures (SFW but it will make you wish it wasn’t).

Nope. It’s because I am the resident groundskeeper (I prefer Garden Goddess, thank you), and we live on an acreage where the only “native” trees are either Cedar Weeds Trees or Russian Olives.

Lord, are they ever ugly.

Yep, they pretty much look like this:

olive

So in an attempt to take some eyesores and turn them into landscaping points of interest (rather than yank them out one by one for the rest of our natural lives), I will be attempting to creatively prune them. A chainsaw would be a bit much, both for the branches which are no more than 7″ around and for me, with my puny, yet flappable, wussy-girl arms.

If I happen to accidentally take off any limbs NOT belonging to a tree, you’ll be one of the first to know.

Also, I can’t say my son totally blew me off on Mother’s Day. In fact his class worked on a little book that the teacher provided the first half of a sentence as an impetus to the least imaginative-challenged beings on the face of the earth with such openers as, “My Mom is the prettiest when…” or “I like it when my Mom…”, except my adoring son left all of the pages blank. Not one had a completed sentence, so I was justifiably bummed. However, what I did get a chuckle from was on the cover page, he had written Happy Mother’s Day.

Why did that bring a smile to my face? Well, since XBoy is occasionally reversing his letters, I got this instead:

haggy

Haggy Mother’s Day? A Freudian slip from a seven year old? It very well could be.

TO MY MOM

My mom will never read this. She doesn’t have a computer much less know what a blog is.

Let me tell you a little about her.

At three years old, my mom’s mother died in surgery. Ether poisoning. Her father, my grandfather, eventually remarried and my mom became part of a step-family. While she had step-brothers and -sisters, she always claims to be an only child with few living relatives. For a long time, I imagined her step-mother and step-sisters to be just like the ones in Cinderella, just because of the way my mom talked about them. I’m just now learning that it was my mom who cut herself off from them, not the other way around.

My mom slapped me. Once. I don’t remember why and I was pretty sure I was in my tween years, but I’ll never forget that later she came up to me, pulled me into a tight hug and apologized.

My mom is very conservative. The first time we talked about the birds and the bees it was after I got my first period and she found my stained (white) jeans in the laundry. She just told me where she kept the sanitary pads. The second and last time? On my first date when he showed up to take me out, just as I was heading for the door she said, “Now you know, you don’t have to do anything. You know that, right?”

My mom is terrible at spelling. Notes from her are purely an exercise in deciphering.

My mom is a latent bigot. I grew up hearing the word “n*gger”. Finally in junior high, I told her not to use that word as it is offensive. She then started to say “darkie”. Like that is somehow better.

My mom also says “Old Timers” (Alzheimer’s), “cousits” (cousins), “WalMartz” (WalMart) as well as starting almost every sentence with, “Anyways, …”

My mom use to have a little sliver of gold between each of her teeth in the top row. The original Grill.

My mom loves to tell the story of how when she moved from one little town to where she is now that she use to have her black hair braided into two pigtails. The other girls at the Catholic school all had fashionable curls and they would tease her relentlessly. One day after school, my mom had had enough. She popped the ring-leader of the teasing in the nose. About a decade later, that girl was the Maid-of-Honor at my mom’s wedding.

My mom still decorates the house for each Holiday even though no one may be coming home. However, if you did happen to stop by, there would be something in every room of the house that would be indicative of the holiday de jour.

My mom has the patient of a saint and the tolerance of Jesus himself. I remember one time at church how I was teasing my little sister and she slapped me soundly across the face. Soundly as in loudly. During the Homily. My mom didn’t even acknowledge the incident. I’m guessing now it was because she had hoped that anyone who had turned to see what the commotion was about wouldn’t see my mom’s inflamed face and realize her horrid little daughters were smacking each other around uncontrollably in church.

My mom either smells of onions (from peeling) or bleach (from cleaning). I now have an abnormal love for the smell of bleach.

My mom will crush any bug within reach with her bare fingers. There’s no screeching or reaching for a rolled up newspaper. It’s just “smoosh” and “crunch” and the bug is flat.

My mom is fearless. When we use to milk cows and a new heifer was introduced, we would leave the breaking in to mom. She’s five foot nothin’ but she could easily subdue a kicking cow with cleverly placed leverage and persistence.

My mom knows how to prepare blutwurst.

My mom knows how to clean a chicken. I don’t mean by giving it a bath, either, unless you count dunking the headless corpse of a chicken into a steaming hot bucket of water to make the plucking of feathers easier. Her favorite parts of the chicken to eat, even though she’s seen it at it’s absolute worst? Gizzard and heart.

My mom has this call that we all refer to as her “Yoohoo”. Since dad would always be in the field or the machine shop, it wasn’t convenient for mom to drive out to get him and of course, there were no cell phones. So she somehow learned to Yoohoo. Our neighbors, who live a couple miles away? They can hear her Yoohoo. She even can vary the Yoohoo enough so that dad can tell the difference between Yoohoo! (dinner/supper is ready) or YooHOO! (haul ass to the house, there’s an emergency!!).

My mom is almost 80 but when she comes over, XBoy is so excited! She will go in the basement and shoot nerf guns, play ball, throw the frisbee, play pool, etc. Whatever XBoy wants to do, she does it. Of course, this also means that when XBoy wants ice cream at 9:00 a.m. or wants a Ho-Ho for lunch, she does that as well.

My mom makes comments that are quintesentially passive-agressive. When we were building our home and we would proudly walk her through the construction, she would just shrug her shoulders and say, “I’ll never have anything as nice.”

My mom? I could go on and on and on, but you would never really know her. I still don’t know her completely. While she doesn’t hold back on her opinions, she’s an enigma. She loves her children and grandchildren fiercely but fears we don’t return that love.

Mom? I love you fiercely. I always have.

I always will.

Happy Mother’s Day.

02.08 max and hazel at roy and cams (6)

06.23 Farm family gathering

09.02 making stepping stone w gramma (4)