Monday, August 24, 2009

Room to Breathe

What a momentous weekend!

Celia turned 10 months! I would post a recent picture but I've been distracted because:

Viva lost her top front tooth! She was excited, if a little unsure, because some spoilsport 5th grader at school told her "The Tooth Fairy is actually your mom." I was happy to honestly be able to tell her I have never snuck into her room to take her tooth and leave money under her pillow. (I leave that to Daddy since I generally fall asleep while waiting for Viva to fall asleep on such occasions.) I would post a picture of her newly revised smile, but I haven't had a minute because:

We found a house! And we've been approved to rent it! Thank you, thank you, everyone, for sending all your good wishes and good vibes our way. There are many simply wonderful things about this house:

  • It is about the same square footage as our current house, but costs substantially less. I mean, way less. I mean, like cuts our housing costs by one-quarter.
  • It sits on a 14,000 square foot lot. No, that's not a typo. It's huge, especially by LA standards. The backyard goes on forever, and it's completely gated, and it's flat! Perfect for playing soccer, tag, whatever.
  • The house itself has three bedrooms and three baths, and comes with all appliances including a restaurant-grade six-burner stove. I admit to being a little intimidated by the stove, although the owner says, "On Thanksgiving, you can cook a turkey and a ham at the same time, and cook your pies – all on the same day!" That sounds a little ambitious, wouldn't you say?
  • The neighborhood seems to be a very nice diverse mix of ages and racial/ethnic backgrounds: you got your Hispanic, African-American, South Asian and Asian all very well-represented on the same street, and young families with kids live side-by-side with elderly types.
  • There's an elementary school down the block, which makes it a safe school zone (note that the accompanying link is not for our specific neighborhood school, but it’s still a good explanation). The park right next to the school is well-patrolled as well as being locked at night. There’s also a sheriff living right around the corner.
  • It's not a cut-through to anywhere – the street curves around in a "C," taking you around the block right back to the main street from which it comes. That, combined with the speed humps peppered along, means there's no speeding through the neighborhood.
  • It's less than a mile from Target! And Trader Joe's!
  • The shower stall in the master suite is 5' by 5' and has three shower heads. And a separate Jacuzzi tub. "There is a danger that we could get spoiled by this house," I said to Sweet Dub this weekend. It is a little crazy. I like that the house is very modest from the outside. (Ah, that New England Puritan streak rears its ugly head at the most unexpected times.)
  • It's a slightly longer commute, but still no freeway driving.
  • We can get a dog. Since Viva has been asking for a puppy almost every day since she was about three, this is very welcome news. Not something that will happen right away, but fun to think about.
  • Two of Dub's closest friends (who he's known since junior high) live less than five minutes away. One has two girls, ages 7 and 3, and the other has a 9-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Viva has known them all her life, so it is pretty much Insta-Playdate City.

We are officially moving next weekend, although the house is now vacant and we are cleared to move in at any time. We spent much of this weekend sorting, cleaning, and packing. I am relieved to have packed about half of my kitchen, which is usually one of the most time-consuming jobs. Any box which is labeled "kitchen - not everyday" can happily sit for a few weeks without being unpacked, and seeing as they don't get much use anyway, my giant roasting pan, blender, and slow-cooker will be none the wiser.

Posting may be lighter than usual (I know, how is that even possible?) over the next couple of weeks due to the moving mayhem.

And, exhale.

P.S. Apologies if you see multiple RSS-feed updates. Something is funky with the spacing so I had to keep going back to try and fix it after it already published.

P.P.S. I had to go back and tinker with the HTML again. Sorry. Something is just not sitting right with the Blogger temperament.

P.P.P.S. Ah. I just discovered that Blogger thinks I am typing this whole post as a table. Yeah, but I'm not, see?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sick and Tired

Like many Americans, I’m confused about the health care reform legislation currently taking form in Washington. I understand that one of the main goals with this reform is to provide insurance for people who don’t have it/can’t afford it. What I’m not seeing clearly spelled out (and admittedly, perhaps my work-life demands are getting in the way of me researching this properly) is: what about those of us who have insurance but the insurance is crappy? As in, the premiums increase every year, the deductible increases every year, the amount of coinsurance increases every year, and yet if anything you get less care?

Right now in the Blah Blah’s employer-provided coverage, we pay insurance premiums and then we also have a $500 deductible apiece, on top of which we each have to pay 20% of any medical costs beyond that, up to $3,500 per year per individual or $5,000 per family. What that means is that if we had serious medical problems we’d have to pay up to $2,000 in deductibles, plus $5,000 in coinsurance out of pocket. There is also a lifetime cap but I haven’t yet paid attention to that because our insurance carrier changes almost every year as costs go up and the company negotiates with various carriers to get the best deal.

Now, the insurance premiums are no joke either. At my job to pay for yourself and a family you can expect to pay some $1,800 for premiums per month. The company will pay your premiums, but not those of your family. Fortunately for me, Sweet Dub’s job offers a better deal on insurance and will actually pay for part of the premium, so I’m covered through his employer rather than my own. I realize we are privileged because we both have jobs that offer insurance, but it sure doesn’t feel like I’m getting what we’re paying for when even with insurance, I’ve paid over $7,000 out of pocket this year for having a baby in October and having her end up in the NICU.

Yes, at least we have insurance, but I fight with the insurance company at least once every couple months. The latest thing we’re dickering about is me having a mammogram. Isn’t it recommended that women age 40 and over have an annual mammogram? (Answer: why, yes – yes it is!) Particularly if they (like me) have a history of breast cancer in their family, or (like me) have had a suspicious lump biopsied in the past. And yet, I’m having to fight with my insurance company over whether I have coverage for this procedure, which was recommended by my primary care physician and my gynecologist. They want me to pay 300 bucks and some change for this screening.

I’ve been trying to get caught up on the health insurance reform storm, I swear I have. I have heard so many horror stories of people who are uninsured, and as we’ve seen with the recent Remote Area Medical Foundation visit in Inglewood, which wrapped up yesterday, there is a huge need for free and/or affordable medical care here in my own neck of the woods. But I want some reassurance that those of us who are “insured” are also going to get some help. Am I missing something?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Not funny, and yet it is.

My grandmother is in poor health. She will be having a lung biopsy later this week because a recent scan showed what looks like lesions on her lungs. She is on some pain medication and sleeps much of the time, and when she is awake she is pretty out of it.

Recently my 6-year-old nephew, who lives in the same house as my grandmother and mom (yes, four generations under one roof – it’s like a sitcom but not at all funny), made a little bird out of beads. My sister Lola told him it was beautiful and asked if she could have it. He replied that he had made it specially for Nanna (my grandmother has always had a thing for birds). He was a little shy about giving it to her, but he mustered up his resolve and knocked on her bedroom door.

“Here, Nanna,” he said. “I made this for you.”

“Oh, isn’t that nice,” my grandmother said. “Did you know I’m going into the hospital?”

“Yeah,” T said. “You can take this with you—“

“They’re going to stick a knife in my neck!” my grandmother said.*

Well, that shouldn’t give him nightmares at all. Thanks for sharing, Nanna!

* My understanding is that they are going to go through her throat rather than open up her chest. This is the less invasive procedure, probably due to her age. I am concerned either way about post-procedure infection but I am trying not to think about it and I am not getting a whole lot of info from my mom, which is par for the course. Mainly because she doesn’t like to talk about it in front of my grandmother because it agitates her. This is why email was invented. Why don’t people understand?

Monday, August 17, 2009

On the move. Yeah, again.

“Your life is like a bad comedy,” the real estate agent said as she was showing us a place on Saturday.

It’s not feeling very funny right now. Let’s recap: about a year ago, our then-landlord contacted us and apologetically stated that he and his wife were getting divorced, and that he knew it was horrible timing since we were expecting a new baby, but that he would like his house back. I was 7.5 months pregnant. We found another place and, one week after getting out of the hospital from my C-section, we moved to our current rental house.

Now, our current landlord has approached us with the wonderful news that he and his wife are expecting. How exciting! Oh, and guess what – they want their house back. They’re happy to let us out of our lease early if we can find something and get the heck out.

Both times, this hasn’t given us enough time to find a place to buy, even if we were in the position to do so. This has been a rough year financially. You remember that we thought we could pay more in rent because it would be offset by having Viva in public school and not having to pay private school tuition. Oh, you remember how well that worked out. And we’re also now paying for daycare for Miss Celie. Our rate of saving has slowed down dramatically.

And moving is expensive. You have to put down deposits, you have to rent a truck, you have to pay installation fees for cable/satellite, the phone, etc. Not to mention you have to pack up all your crap.

Things are dark over here in my little corner of the universe. It will pass. We will find a place. We might manage to stay in this new place until we can afford to buy something. Think good thoughts.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Let the wild rumpus start!

It's officially August and you know what that means…it's my birthday month! Huzzah! I proudly celebrate my soon-to-be 41 years on this planet.


I discovered today that it is Barack Obama's birthday today (I don't know how that escaped me before). I did not realize he was a fellow Leo, but now it all makes sense.


As we were passing the CNN building in Hollywood this morning, I noted the date on their ticker on the outside of the building and blurted out, "Hey! It's only a week from my birthday!" I got that excited feeling in my stomach – so funny that it's such an automatic reflex.  


Viva said, "It is? We're celebrating your birthday this weekend, then. What do you want to do?"


Hmm. I don't know. I'm taking Monday off and getting a facial and maybe going for a walk on the beach and then browsing around a bookstore and then sitting in a café and reading a new book and listening to the iPod until it's time to go pick up Cily from day care. On my actual birthday, I imagine we will go out to eat after work (yes, I'm going to work on my birthday, I know).


One of my favorite birthday memories is of having a birthday party at the park by the Charles River in Boston when I turned 6. My mom made me a cool cake with a swimming pool on the top and little tiny babies with swimsuits she made by winding embroidery thread around to cover them strategically. I remember the diving board was made out of a piece of gum. I would like that kind of party. A little picnic by the water, with a paper tablecloth and party hats. Maybe not a piñata this time around. Maybe just a little bit of a rumpus?


Let the games begin…