At least my 5 year old son isn’t pregnant…

Last week we had the joy of a visit from the stomach flu. Yikes, my normal bouncing, loud, energetic, hyper, busy (you get it yet?) five year-old turned into barf-a-saurus Rex. To my delight he is the least dramatic barfer I have ever met, merely turning his head to the side, doing his business and the continuing on. The downfall to this is that he doesn’t happen to care where “the side” is, and will throw up on/in anything.

After 12 hours of nothing staying down I realized that dehydration was quickly becoming a threat. Being an emergency medical professional, I know how hard it can be to access care after hours without a visit to the emergency department, so I gave the doc a call and asked for some anti-nausea medication before things got out of hand.

Blessedly, we were quickly ushered into the clinic, where my son informed the doctor he was “fine, just throwing up a lot”. (His definition of “fine” is different than mine.) Doc declared what I suspected: a touch of the stomach flu and ordered the meds to be picked up at the town pharmacy.

Once in the pharmacy I filled out all of our new-patient paperwork and plopped down in the chair with my now-crabby 7 year old and my sickly boy in my lap. The pharmacist said it would be a bit because we were new, he had to call the insurance company to verify coverage. He suggested some ginger loli-pops to settle tummies while we waited, and of course Sickly was thrilled with having “candy” to eat while we waited.

Twenty-minutes later the pharmacist was starting to (loudly) argue with someone on the phone, and then turned to me and asked if I was “certain he didn’t have other health insurance?”

I asked to speak with the insurance company, and before I could even say hello, the woman on the other end of the line informed me that she “didn’t know what kind of game (I) was trying to play, but federal fraud was going to land (me) in prison!” Ummm, yeah. I am not real fond of the idea of rooming with our favorite DIY/homemaker/chef Martha What’s-Her-Name, but I am also pretty sure I haven’t committed any federal crimes lately.

I politely asked this woman what she was talking about, and she informed me that she had “proof” that my son has other health insurance, and that I am running a scam. She continued a lengthy diatribe about “people like you” and my “free” health insurance.

So now I am standing in the pharmacy talking on a phone from 1983 with its twisted-up cord stretched over the counter while this woman accuses me of random federal crimes and my 5 year old sits on my hip and rests his head on my shoulder. Finally I get out her what this “proof” that she has consists of.

Wait for it…

She tells me she has a copy of the statement showing that he used his state medical coupon to pay for his birth control pills, in July.

(About this time he throws up ginger-lollipop down my back.)

I asked her why she thought my 5 year old boy would be on birth control? …She not-so-politely explained that is how she knew I was a fraudster.

I hung up on her, apologized to the pharmacist who was now mopping up the ginger-scented puddle off the floor, and proceeded to pay cash. (Good reason to have an emergency fund, because you never know when your son’s birth control pills will cause a financial crisis.)

While the problem was very quickly resolved the next day, with the assistance of the Federal Recovery Coordinator, I was still rather upset that my family had to experience it. (and there was no “proof” of anything, but rather a rogue employee)

The moral of this story is: Have a back-up plan in place! I will get the money refunded to me by the insurance company, but it was the emergency fund that saved our hide in this case. Even federal health insurance is not bomb-proof, and while CHAMPVA and TriCare are good, they tend to have more problems than the private sector, so be prepared for an uphill battle.


Man Skills

You want me to what?!

In our house we have had pretty stereotypical gender roles. I clean, bake, do laundry, grocery shop, etc… He did the lawn mowing, car stuff, and killed spiders. Then Mitch got blown up. So now, instead of him killing spiders, I stand in the living room having one-sided arguments with the dog about who has to do the smashing. (The dog always wins and goes to sleep while I dispose of the intruder.)

My dog completely not caring that I am about to be carried off by a pack of rabid tarantulas.


Spiders aside, I am now learning some new skills, like fire building, lawn mowing and wood cutting. Skills that are certainly okay, and probably good, for a woman to have, but none the less new to me. I think there may be a good reason I was born with baking skills and not lawn mowing skills: my yard looks something like blind beavers mowed the lawn while consuming large amounts of absinthe. Practice makes perfect, right? Since we have a riding mower Mitch does a lot of the mowing (Praise Jesus!) and my “skills” are only on display about once a year.

Car care, well I give up. I outsource for that. Mainly because I have a strong aversion to placing my hands any were I cannot see, something that is apparently required for anything more than checking fluid levels. I know how, I just don’t. We all have issues-don’t judge.

This is actually 4 rows deep, and no, I did not do it all alone.

This summer I taught myself how to split wood. Yes! Score one for Anna! It was a steep learning curve. My daughter asked me if I was okay. Twice. Then she suggested I ask the neighbor for help, which seems like a really brilliant idea for a seven year old, until I realized the neighbor she was referring to is the elderly man who lives up the hill. (It must have looked really bad to her, that she thought he would better at it.) However awkward and time consuming my splitting efforts were, they paid off and we now have a tidy stockpile of firewood.

manual labor: more fun than you are imagining!

… And a savings account for a hydraulic splitter.

Now that it is time to actually use said firewood I am practicing my fire building skills, which I will say I am good at. Perhaps I am channeling my inner Laura Ingalls, but my fire was quick-to-ignite and warm, so that is what matters!

Vacation: Family Style!

So we set off this week on our first (ever) family vacation. The day included three airports, seven TSA agent, a frightened rental car company employee, two small children, a confused airline employee, a sedated husband and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding, no birds were harmed during our travel.)  We made it to South Dakota!

Twenty-two hours after I left my house, I crawled into bed exhausted.  Utterly, indescribably, exhausted.  Vacations aren’t for moms, in case you were wondering.  Vacations are where moms pretend they are having fun while they give their children the opportunities to see and do amazing new things, like visit Mt. Rushmore and have tantrums in Wall Drug.

First of all packing for 4 people is MUCH more challenging than packing for one.  Especially when you discover that eight of the twelve brand new pairs of undies you got your son are missing.  (Seriously, I went to pack and he only had 4 pairs.  …this is why you start packing at least two days before!)  After solving the underoo crisis I still managed to forget toothbrushes.  We bought new ones, and told the kids they were souvenirs from South Dakota. (Parenting WIN!)

Luckily where we are staying has a washer and dryer, so I didn’t have to pack a whole week’s worth of clothing.  Two large duffles, three backpacks, and a purse were enough to juggle.  Made the kids carry their booster seats-much to their dismay!  Thankfully only had to carry our gear to the curb where TSA met us and took over the duffles and one of the backpacks.  (Bless them!)

Ticketing and security were un-eventful, with the airline being shockingly efficient for 0400!  Security sent us through the front of the line, which still took us forever removing belts and shoes, and laptops and liquids…

I am amused by the fact that other travelers stare at us.  Surrounded by a pack of TSA agents, they can’t seem to determine if we are terrorists or VIP’s.  It can be humorous to watch their faces as we go by, not sure if they should run or ask for an autograph.

Upon arrival in Rapid City (which has the best TSA guys evaaaar!) we checked out our rental car.  The nice girl at the ticket counter was very helpful until she noticed the pack of agents surrounding us, then she got nervous and flustered, as if she couldn’t decide whether or not she should ask why we were being escorted off the property by security.  It all worked out in the end and we drove off in our new Ford Escape for the week.

Our leased vacation home from Black Hills Executive Lodging is unbelievably elegant!  (another post to come on that!) There was even a lovely fruit basket waiting for my famished children when we checked in.  The ladies who manage it are also extremely helpful, offering insider tips for visiting the area.

Off on more adventures today, with a boy who is adamant that he does NOT want to wear pants (or shorts), and the charming British man that lives in the GPS I rented.

What Happens When The Super Highway of Life Turns Into a Dirt Road?

We have all been there.  Cruising down the highway of life at 90 miles per hour 70 MPH (because we always obey the speed limit, right?) everything is going as it should, minor bumps are soon passed and we are enjoying the scenery.  All of the sudden there’s a detour, not an exit that takes you to paradise, but rather an exit that isn’t on the map, and has your GPS yelling at you in a strange British accent, telling you that “you are now traveling in the wrong direction!  Recalculating”

trying to navigate this?

When my husband was injured we took that exit.  Gone was the fresh new pavement and reflective green road signs telling me which way to go.  We were now cruising down a dirt path in a covered wagon (I think it may have only had three wheels!) trying to read Boy Scout trail markings from the 1800’s, with no one else in sight…

So what do you do when the super highway turns into the Oregon Trail?

1)      Cut yourself some slack.  Or a lot of slack.  However much slack you need to get through right now.  Things are not ok, and might not be for the foreseeable future.  Let go of everything that is not essential to the wellbeing of your family.  No one is going to die if you wear yoga pants and skip the makeup today.  Shockingly, your family will survive if you have to eat frozen dinners or take out this week (or month!).  As long as everyone is clean and fed, you can survive.

2)        Write it down!  That means everything.  You aren’t going to remember every single thing, and you will only beat yourself up for forgetting (see #1 above).  Buy a notebook, steal a stack of sticky-notes from work, swipe a roll of TP from your neighbors, but find something to write down everything you need to do or might need to reference later.  Getting yogurt and diapers may seem easy to remember right now, but when you are in the market and have just answered your seventh call in ten minutes, it might be a little more challenging to remember!  (Also, try remembering those seven phone calls after you make it home with your yogurt and diapers.)  Write. It. Down.

3)      Call in those favors!  The neighbors that you always let use your parking space?  Let them know that for now, you need it.  The coworker who asks if you want a coffee while she is out?  Take her up on it!  The friend who asks if you need anything while she is at the warehouse store?  Yes!  Right now it would be great if she could bring you a 55 gallon drum of peanut butter!  When people offer, let them help!  Now is not the time to be pressing your super-woman cape and stuffing yourself into leotards you haven’t warn since 1998, let other people do some grunt work for you right now!

4)      Don’t make things harder on yourself in the long run.  Watch you funds.  When we are in crisis mode we tend to forget about the long-term impact of our situation.  Maybe this means only spending cash, and locking up the debit/credit cards to avoid those “feel good” purchases.  Maybe this means breaking out your emergency fund to avoid the stress of worrying about how you will pay for _____ right now.  Either way, you need to plan for how you are going to deal with the financial impact of your current detour.

5)      Breath.  Nothing lasts forever.  Whether or not this chapter in your life has a happy ending, the pain you are facing right now will not always be the all-consuming nightmare you are currently in.  Things will never be the same, and you will always carry the scars of this trip down the rutted trail, but that doesn’t mean that things are not going to get better.  Maybe better than before—but you will have to keep going to find out.

6)      Don’t be afraid to get professional help!  You can’t handle everything.  That’s ok.  Counseling, support groups (online or in person), childcare, lawn maintenance—if you need help get it!  If you are active duty or retired, call up Military Onesource and ask for help, they can connect you with the right people.  Civilian?  Call your local United Way, Church, Synagogue, or community action program and let them know you need help, even if they can’t help, they usually know people who can.

We all experience crisis in our live; big ones, small ones, short ones, long ones.  Some we leave behind, some we work through, and some we just have to live with.  Remember, that no matter the crisis, you can move forward.  Whether you spend a day, a month or a decade on the Oregon Trail you will eventually get back on the highway.  …Just don’t die of dysentery while you are looking for the on-ramp.  (And if you don’t understand that, pretend that you do, because I don’t want to feel old.  Mmmmk?)

Anna is Back!

For those who missed me, I apologize.   If you didn’t miss me, lets pretend you did, so I can feel needed, okay?

If you don’t know who I am:

I have been a Marine wife for almost ten years, and I have known my husband almost ten years and two weeks.  (yes, do the math, it is what you are thinking.)  I have two active, and busy kids who are almost old enough to brush their teeth without coating the bathroom in toothpaste.  …alas, maybe next year.

And here is a random picture of my dog. Mostly because I am lame about collecting photos of myself. …and my dog is super cool.

My husband was horrifically injured in 2006 and left active duty in 2007.  We have moved multiple times since then, experienced the uniqueness of VA healthcare, buried too many of our friends, and been blessed with a tribe of supporters who really understand the concept of “leave no man behind.”

Follow me while I share what I have learned, what I am learning (Splitting wood takes muscle.  Splitting wood without splitting your foot takes skill…) and the things that I do that you would think I should have learned by now.

Making it all work…latest edited Military Press article…

Over the weekend I realized something I wanted to share what I think we sometimes let slip in the back of our minds. Ourselves.
Reluctantly I got my hair cut & styled by a friend. I had been meaning to do it weeks ago but I hadn’t had enough time, my house was a mess, I’ve had a million Girl Scout things to do, the dogs needed a bath & my husband could just cut it right? I kept making excuses until one Friday there was no more running. I was on her block at a meeting & she said I’ll cut it then. Crap. Okay fine. I did & after she was done I felt like a whole new person! Like I’d been pulled off the street and given a total hair makeover. I almost didn’t recognize the face on the hair! I felt girly, alive, frisky & fun. This face needed makeup! But my hair was amazing and I loved it. We all know how a good haircut can make us feel and I couldn’t fathom why I didn’t do it sooner so I could have felt like this before!  By the way thank you Jessica!!!! 😛
Does it seem as if there aren’t enough hours in the day? Are you procrastinating on dieting, working out, spring cleaning, gardening, ect? Well today’s the day I hope you make that to-do list have more checks on it! Get it done. Be motivated and just do it! (ha ha that was not intended to be funny but I couldn’t help but think of Nike when I reread it)
Sometimes your feelings get in the way of your to-do list which is understandable. Say you’re at the beginning of a deployment or in the middle of a deployment in a routine and in both cases there’s a complete lack of energy or stamina to do anything let alone something for yourself. It’s typically mundane tasks, go with the flow and wherever the day takes you. I understand.
Yet I encourage you ladies to do something for yourself out of the ordinary to break the routine. We often times pour ourselves into the kids & especially our husbands but try not to forget you. Save up and splurge on a Burke Williams massage, have someone watch your kids so you can relax & read a book on the beach or get that haircut you’ve always wanted. Whatever it is have fun & embrace the moment.

Baby Birth Marine Corps Orders…

I found this and thought it was too cute not to post! It would be super cute framed and put in the baby’s room..For all my moto prego friends..enjoy! LOL!

From: Chief Angel
To: Private (Insert Baby’s Name)
Ref: (a) NAVMED6320/20

1. In accordance with the reference, you will proceed and report to Naval Hospital in (Camp Pendleton), California for further assignment to (husband’s name and rank) and (wife’s name) herein after referred to as Father and Mother for duty as on.

2. Your duties will include, but not be limited to sleeping, eating, crying, wetting, and being lovable.

3. You will initially report to your Mother at (time of birth) on (date of birth) and will make yourself available as soon as possible for inspection by your Father. Your height and weight limits for reporting for duty are established as (length of the baby) and (weight of the baby)

4. No uniform or baggage is authorized or permitted in your travel to Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton, California. Initial issue will be made prior to your Mother’s viewing. Supplemental and 782 Gear will be issued at Marine Corps Exchange upon the presentation of these Orders.

5. Upon completion of your temporary duty at Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton, California you will proceed to your permanent address at (address) for duty.

By Direction