The W Family Chronicles

Archive for January 2008

I know, you’ve heard my opinion on entirely too much lately. (Though did I mention I was quoted in the local paper in a story about the tax rebates?) I’ve been in an angry phase, apparently.  I’m in a much better mood these days.  A tad disappointed that McCain and Hilary won Florida.  At least she doesn’t get any delegates from it.  But otherwise in good spirits and happy with my little corner of the world.

We filed our taxes yesterday and they’ve already been accepted so we’ll be getting our refund back very quickly.  This is good.  Last year I filed just before the October 15 deadline and I was determined not to fall into that mess again.  I was pleasantly surprised while doing them to note that there are some new deductions available (PMI can be deducted in some circumstances…we qualified and it made a big difference!)  and to find out that we FINALLY can itemize our deductions.  It cut our effective tax rate waaaaaaaaaaay down.  With that and the addition of another child last year, (taxes last year were weird due to the job change and move…we were in a higher tax bracket than normal) we saw a significant reduction in our taxes.  I don’t mind paying taxes.  I think it’s a necessary evil so I try not to complain about it.  But it’s always nice to find out that you have to pay less!  The refund will be going (of course!) to the crazy medical expenses we’re racking up.  It should pay off the remainder of what I owe to the hospital and urologist.  It may even cover a large portion of C’s remaining helmet loan…I’ll have to check and see where we are with the hospital bills to be sure.

We had much fun today watching the leaf truck suck up the HUGE pile of leaves we had after D worked in the yard this weekend.  We’ve already had them come by 2-3 times this season, but this may have been the biggest pile yet.  We’re lucky that we can put just about anything out by the road and it’s picked up.  All covered by property taxes!  We pay a much higher property tax here than I’m used to, but it does have advantages…like not having to bag leaves and stuff.  Or hauling stuff that the garbage truck won’t take to the dump.  Very convenient.  Plus the boys love to watch the leaf truck suck up the leaves.  We sit on the couch in front of the picture window and just have a little snuggle/entertainment break.

Right now both of my little guys are asleep…C in his room and J on the couch (this time in a soft baby basket I had to hold dolls as a child) and I am enjoying the *blissful* peace and quiet.  The weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend, so I’m hoping we can egt outside and have some family fun.  Maybe a trip to the zoo???


So apparently the W family can expect a tax rebate in the neighborhood of about $1800 sometime this spring or summer.  Great.  We’ll be using it to pay off the 3 surgeries I had for kidney stones last year, J’s humongous OT bills, and C’s helmet.  (Yes, we’re still making payments on it!)  Sorry we won’t be “stimulating the economy” for you all.  I’m going to have to put my family’s finances in better shape before I entertain the idea of that.

I can make a long list of things I’d rather have…a nice vacation, a new TV,  living room and bedroom furniture, a nice outdoor play set for the kids, some work on the house, new tires for both vehicles, etc.   We could really use any one or ALL of these things.  But the sad reality is that our medical expenses have become ridiculous lately.  And even though we have insurance, we are expected to pay a lot out of pocket on it.  I know we’re lucky to have it, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about the situation. Clearly our economy needs some help.  But I feel like this is simply slapping a band-aid on a gaping, gushing wound and it will ultimately be about as effective.  We need more.

I would suggest taking the $150 billion they’re spending on this package and start working towards some type of national health care system.  Did you know that the US ranks LAST in a survey of 19 industrialized countries when it comes to the health care system?  Dead last.  France is #1, so apparently those traitorous French people know something we don’t.   One in seven people in this country are uninsured.  It’s mind blowing.  We are told over and over that the US is the best country in the world, yet every day people are having to make a decision about whether they can afford to see a doctor or take a drug or have a treatment that might save their lives.  It should NEVER happen in a country as prosperous and advanced as the US.  Even with a national system, my family would probably still be in the situation we’re in…we have access to adequate insurance.  We’re lucky we can afford to pay the premiums, even though paying the deductibles and co-pays can be hard.  But the last year has made me more aware of just how badly our system is broken.

Regardless of my (unsolicited) opinion, we’re happy to receive this money.   It will make a big difference for us, even if it doesn’t get put back into the economy via some frivolous and care free spending like Mr. Bush wants.  I just wish they had come up with something that is more of a long term solution.  So give me my band aid and I’ll pray that they figure out some way to stitch up this nasty wound before we all bleed to death.  I know a national health care system wouldn’t solve it all either, but then I’m not in charge of fixing things.  I’m just a mom who worries about the future my boys are facing if things continue in this country the way they’re going.

Yeah, yeah. I know this discussion freaks some of you out. Don’t read it if it’s going to bother you because I truly do not need any more negative comments today about the fact that I’m *still* breastfeeding my baby. I understand you think it’s weird/gross/unnecessary or whatever. I kind of don’t care about your opinion.

So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, allow me to vent about our pediatrician appt this morning. We had to reschedule C’s 18 month well visit because we ended up being out of town on the originally scheduled day. They couldn’t get us in before today so in we went, almost a month “late.” I am not a huge fan of well visits. I feel like they’re a little extraneous for those of us who do our research and know what to expect from our child as far as development and health. Plus I get sick of the vaccine pushing and trying to explain my position each time we go in. (I think vaccines are beneficial, I just don’t like giving as many as *5* or more in one visit. We vaccinate, but we slow down the process and spread it out a bit more than what is recommended by the CDC.) Yes, I know there’s a lot more to it than development and vaccines…and that’s why we go. But today I got the “you need to wean him because he’s not gaining enough weight” speech. And it’s got me SO upset that I left the office in tears.

C is nearly 19 months old and weighs just over 20 pounds. His height and head circumference are proportioned to each other, if somewhat lower than average. His weight is so low as to be off the charts and it’s been dropping in percentiles since around nine months. Now before you start thinking “Gosh, the doctor’s right!” let me say that J’s growth pattern was almost identical, if somewhat higher on the percentiles. And he was almost 100% formula fed. So I’d argue that it’s not as bad as it seems…this seems to be how my kids grow, regardless of feeding method. C has always been a tiny little thing. He had a rough start to life (not premature in the technical sense, but showed many symptoms common to premature babies) and he was nearly a month old before he’d regained his birth weight. Never did the ped suggest I supplement with formula…she told me to keep at breastfeeding and that the weight would eventually come back. She was SO encouraging and supportive and never once mentioned formula as an alternative. Sadly, that doctor has left our practice and we are seeing all new people now. Maybe this is why I’m so upset…to feel so supported back then when there were more issues than just weight gain and suddenly to feel so UNsupported when he is otherwise incredibly healthy and happy…it’s hard. I’ve heard of people getting the “you should wean” line from their ped and felt so lucky to have what I thought was a doctor who’d never do this. It’s such a shocking change of events at this stage in the game.

And I think it’s unnecessary to explain that nursing him is about WAY more than just food at this point. He eats a huge variety of foods and has been known to eat more than me at one sitting. He definitely eats more than his big brother. My nursing him doesn’t affect this AT ALL. Nursing is so much more than nutrition for him. It’s a way for me to keep him healthy…to date, he has caught many of the colds and little illnesses that have made their way through our house but each and every time he recovers faster than the rest of us and has fewer symptoms. It’s a way for me to comfort him when he’s hurt or scared. It’s not my first line of defense is these situations, but it’s one of many tools I have in my toolbox to help a toddler who’s unable to express himself or understand everything I say to him. It’s a way to reconnect after a long, busy day. It is so much more than nutrition at this stage! I wouldn’t suddenly stop kissing him or giving him snuggles now, so why would I stop nursing him?

I think it’s no secret that I no longer enjoy breastfeeding. I wish he would just decide he’s done. But I am NOT going to force it right now. Maybe after the winter’s over and there’s fewer germs floating around. Maybe after he’s 2 (the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for a *minimum* of 2 years) or when I feel like he will be better able to understand what’s going on. But not now. For now, I will continue to give him what he *needs* as far as nursing. We’ll increase his fat and calorie intake in other ways, but right now weaning is not an option. Thankfully I have a husband who is completely supportive of me and this decision. Now if only I could get other people to stop expressing their opinions on the situation, I’d be a much happier person.

Edit to add this information as found on the kellymom website:

  • It’s not uncommon for weaning to be recommended for toddlers who are eating few solids. However, this recommendation is not supported by research. According to Sally Kneidel in “Nursing Beyond One Year” (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

    Some doctors may feel that nursing will interfere with a child’s appetite for other foods. Yet there has been no documentation that nursing children are more likely than weaned children to refuse supplementary foods. In fact, most researchers in Third World countries, where a malnourished toddler’s appetite may be of critical importance, recommend continued nursing for even the severely malnourished (Briend et al, 1988; Rhode, 1988; Shattock and Stephens, 1975; Whitehead, 1985). Most suggest helping the malnourished older nursing child not by weaning but by supplementing the mother’s diet to improve the nutritional quality of her milk (Ahn and MacLean. 1980; Jelliffe and Jelliffe, 1978) and by offering the child more varied and more palatable foods to improve his or her appetite (Rohde, 1988; Tangermann, 1988; Underwood, 1985).


Maybe I should print that out and take it to our weight check in a month? 

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I am possibly the most negligent mom *ever* because J, at the age of 5, has never been to the dentist. I know this is bad. I know it’s way past time for him to be getting regular cleanings and all of that. I know this, and yet I haven’t taken him yet. That’s OK…take just a minute to think about how spectacularly bad this is…I’ll wait.

So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let me try to justify that by making some excuses and whining a little bit. First of all, I live in abject terror that something awful will happen to my mouth that necessitates a trip to the dentist. As a kid, I didn’t mind it. Never had a cavity, went every 6 months like clockwork (yes, I had a good mom) and got my cleaning like a good girl. Even braces weren’t awful. I made it through those years with no major issues other than the fact that I had a tooth that never appeared. I got a bridge to replace it and went on with life. Some of those things were unpleasant but it never bothered me too much. Once I was on my own and had my own dental insurance I switched dentists so that I could use the discounts I had available to me. That’s when things went downhill.

The new dentist recommended that I do something called “gum planing” which is really just a fancy word for torture of the mouth. And they redid my bridge which involved grinding down 2 teeth and placing a bridge over the 2 of them with a completely fake tooth in the middle. (Edited to add this link about bridges — my original was a Maryland bridge and the current one is a Traditional bridge.) It was absolutely terrible. This all happened right around the time I got married and I haven’t been back to a dentist since. I’ll celebrate my 7th anniversary in April. Yeah, it’s been that long. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there you go.

So I have my own dentist issues, which I am undoubtedly projecting onto J in some form. And then there’s the issue of his Sensory Integration Disorder. A lot of his issues are oral and so that opens up it’s own set of problems. He has a lot of oral defensiveness and I’ve been hesitant to take him to the dentist for that reason. Not to mention the horror stories my friends have told about dentist trips with their kids. Tales of being kicked out of the exam room and hateful hygienists really make me hesitant to take him to someone without knowing a LOT about them. We move around so much that it’s been hard to get good recommendations. Of course I know that waiting this long may have made the situation worse, but again…projecting my own issues and blah blah blah.

Today I asked his OT (occupational therapist) if they knew of someone to recommend…I figure they are the best resource since they’ll know other kids with the same problems as J, right? I did get a couple of names and came home to check who is on the provider list for our dental insurance and make some calls. One of the names turned out to be the ONLY local provider on our “preferred” provider list. (Which, by the way, means nothing as cleanings and other preventive things are paid at 100% whether they’re “preferred” or not!) So I call them up, give a brief synopsis of J’s situation regarding his oral defensiveness and ask if they can be sensitive to this. No, they can’t. They won’t even see him. (If you’re in NC, this was Lane & Associates. They are apparently a huge practice with offices across the state. If your child has special needs, I strongly recommend looking elsewhere. They acted like I was asking them to treat an animal or something.) Now I’m worried. Am I going to have to drive to the Triangle to get somebody to see him? I give the dental insurance provider a call and they explain the “preferred” vs. “not preferred” stuff and I start looking at the “non preferred” list. Great…there’s the other name I was given, so I give them a call.

It turns out that this dentist has a child with special needs and there are several autistic children seen by the practice. J is not autistic but this shows me that they have a bit more experience dealing with sensitive children. The woman I spoke to said she would talk to the dentist to be sure that he’s willing to see us and handle J with extra sensitivity and give me a call back. I’m currently waiting for that call, but I have a good feeling about this…the response I got was completely different than the one I got at Lane. I’m keeping everything crossed that this dentist will work out because I figure if they can handle J and his issues, then they can handle me and mine. I’ve got to go to the dentist…my bridge could use some work, I want to see if I can get my bottom teeth straightened back out (orthodontist should have pulled a tooth b/c there’s not enough room for them all and they’ve gone back to being really, really crooked) and Lord knows I could use a good cleaning by this point. But for now, I’m focused on getting J the work he desperately needs and trying to make sure I haven’t somehow irreversibly damaged his teeth by not taking him to the dentist yet.

Those who know me well know that I am *super* anal about safety with my kids.  J is still in an “infant” convertible seat in the car and C is still rear-facing at 18 months because it’s just so much safer.  Helmets while riding bikes, trikes, scooters, etc. are non-negotiable.  So when I go out to eat, I expect there to be a *safe* highchair.  That means it must not be on the verge of falling apart, and if it’s not one that we can put our highchair cover on (those wooden ones work, but the plastic ones do not) it absolutely MUST have a strap that can be fastened.  I have walked out of restaurants if they do not have a safe highchair for us.

So Tuesday night we decided to go out.  The place we wanted to go was closed (New Year’s Day) so we settled for Applebee’s as it is closest.  Despite the fact that last time we were there they did *not* have a safe highchair, I thought we’d give them another try.  I had complained both to the local manager and via their website, received an email (which turned out to be a form letter, as I have since found out) and assumed they were going to take care of it and purchase new highchairs…they are less than $50 each and I think that’s pretty inexpensive for the peace of mind they offer parents, right?  Considering a family of 4 can easily drop $50 on a meal there, I’d say they more than make the money back and it would be a no-brainer to keep safe highchairs there, right?


So we go in, and he pulls out one of those nasty plastic highchairs that we can’t use the highchair cover (with it’s own straps) on.  AND the clips have been cut off the straps so we can’t fasten C in.  Now, he’s generally well behaved, but let’s face it…even the most perfect 18 month old occasionally decided they no longer want to sit in their highchair.  So I mention that the highchair won’t work and the host tells me that’s all they have.  Meanwhile, several other parties have entered behind us and I feel like we should just sit down and not complain, but I hold my ground.  I ask him how we’re supposed to ensure his safety.

“Oh, most people just watch ’em real good.”

WHAT?!?!?!?  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???  I am *super* vigilant about my children’s safety.  Even while strapped down, I watch them closely in restaurants.  But all it takes is a split second…D and I both get distracted by J, or we get involved with our food, or we’re trying to get all of our stuff together to leave…and he’s up and out of the highchair.  Falling on his head, grabbing a knife we put on the other end of the table, whatever.  That little strap isn’t a substitute for vigilance, but it does slow them down a bit and gives you the extra peace of mind to relax and enjoy your meal.  Isn’t that what eating out is all about?

And several other customers were as shocked as me by what he said (they told me so…one said it “irritated the snot out of him” to hear something like that and it was “obvious that man had no children”) so it wasn’t just me.  The validation definitely made me feel a bit more justified at my reaction.  So I reported this on their website again.  And got the same letter back this time.  Clearly they don’t give a damn about a child’s safety there.  We won’t go back…and the irony is that I *despise* Applebee’s…but it’s the closest “sit down” restaurant to us and the easiest to take the kids to.  Next time I’ll make the drive to a place that cares or stay home, which is probably better and cheaper anyway.

W Family Players

D is the dad, the husband, and the breadwinner. All around nice guy and good at pretty much everything he does. It's disgusting, really. But makes him worth keeping around.

M is the mom, the wife, and the hopeless housekeeper. At least the kids' heads haven't fallen off yet. Beyond that, she sucks at the "stay at home" thing. Oh, and she's the blogger.

J is the big boy. Born October 11 2002, he is in kindergarten and loves it. Now 6 years old, and too smart for his own good. Talks a lot but extremely entertaining.

C is the little boy. Born June 26, 2006, he went through a lot in his first year but is doing just fine now. The only blond in the family, so his paternity is routinely questioned by rude strangers.

V is our baby girl. She is brand new and arrived in January 2009. So far everything is going well. We're thrilled to have added the final piece to our family puzzle. And yes, she WILL be the final piece!