Thursday, December 30, 2010

Joy to the world*

Our Christmas festivities, and the days since, have brought with them all of the magical things that Christmas is supposed to bring:



(going in for a kiss)


(and support and devotion from your nearest and dearest, and faith in an ever-more-standing future)


(wish granted in the form of a giant snowstorm, and she sure does love sledding)


(helping Daddy in the kitchen in her new safety tower, which opens to us a million new possibilities for interacting in the kitchen---thanks Grandma & Grandpa!  Moms of kids with special needs---this thing is totally worth it.  Maya can't stand on a chair, like others her age can, but in here she's much more safe and can help clean the counters do kitchen stuff.)



Wait, how did that one sneak in there? 

Yeah, she's sick.  Me too, although she's got it worse.  3 breathing treatments and 1 pediatrician visit today, and it's something viral that is causing a lot of postnasal drippage (yeah, gross).  She's coughing herself sick (literally and figuratively).  Actually, as I'm typing she's coughing herself awake again.  Sigh.  Poor little thing.  It might be a long night. 

Oh, and Parker & Maya both adore the snow, so we've got some cute pictures/video  :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

She walked! Like, for real!

So it turns out that Maya can walk from the table to the couch . . . who knows how long she's been harboring this secret skill.   Clearly, she's never cared enough to get the job done before.  But tonight?  Well, tonight Dave & I were setting up her new iPad (thank you, Grandma Lainey & Grandpa Joe!) and we put on a few Sesame Street videos.

Well, that got her attention real quick.

The first time she did it we were speechless, but for the second time we had the video camera ready:

As always, if you see an empty box and a play button, just click play and the video will appear.

Friday, December 24, 2010

We can hardly stand the wait, please Christmas don't be late . . .*

Dear Santa,

It's me, Maya.  I want to let you know that I've gotten everything all ready for you.  I put out cookies (well, mom and I made "Maya's Minty Truffles" this year, but they're just as good as cookies.  And all of the other kids leave cookies, so I'm shaking it up.)  And I left some hay for the reindeer, too. 

Just like I did last year . . . remember?  I was littler then, but it was still me.

Oh, and I did it the year before that, too.  Back then I was teeny tiny, but I was still excited!

This year is my BFF Parker's first Christmas, and he's a super good doggie.  So you should bring him something nice, like a bone.  We gave him a bath tonight so that he wouldn't smell all doggie when you came, so he's a little soggy and pouting in this picture, but he'll be happy to see you, I promise!

Lots of love,
The cutest girl ever (me, Maya!)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


So I haven't been able to post recently because I had no eyes.


I mean "i"s. 

What happened was, in an irrational fit of frustration, I ripped the stuck "i" key off of my keyboard.  As it turns out, that didn't help.  At all.  It just left me frustrated, sheepish, and unable to type normal sentences without whacking away at my i nub.  (iNub sounds like a new Apple product)

See, this blogger sums it up just right.  Sometimes a series of somewhat mundane annoying events is enough to send a person into a Sneaky Hate Spiral.  And if you're me, you get up in the morning already a few loops into the spiral, what with looming (constant) insurance battles and (non)diplomatic street fights and all.
(Please read that link.  It makes me laugh out loud, and not many things do.  But you can't skim it---you have to really take the time to read it and slowly look at the pictures.)

 So Dave decided that he could just order a new keyboard and replace it himself.

It wasn't at all scary to watch him disassemble my computer (the cocktail in the lower left corner of the above picture may have helped with that).

And it WORKS!  I have a new keyboard and a superhero husband :)

And he did the repairs right next to our wall of love (that's where I hang up all of the Christmas cards that we get).  Except for my sister's, because Maya needs to carry it around so she can hang out with her cousins.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pretty lights on the tree . . . I'm watchin' 'em shine . . .*

. . .  literally.  The tree's finally up and fully decorated.  My first presents are wrapped, cookies (well, truffles this year, but close enough) are in production, and I'm soaking in the year's most fabulous week . . . it kicked off with my birthday (31) yesterday and will remain magical until Christmas :)

We celebrated my birthday with a tript to the mall and a visit to Santa . . . I actually really like the mall at Christmas, and it turns out that Maya was in love with Santa . . .take a look:

Hold on a second---Santa shrunk Maya!  (Actually, that's 2008, she was 6 months old)

Santa, you are fascinating.  (2009)

Santa, I love you and I'm slightly afraid of you at the same time.

Lest you wonder if she was really a fan, take a look at what happened when it was time to leave Santa's lap:

(Her shirt says "I Believe in Santa")

*More pictures of our trip are going up on the blog's Facebook page---remember, you can see it by clicking on the little badge on the right, even if you're not on FB.  If you are on FB, you should totally "like" us, because we're totally likeable :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The making of the Best Holiday Card Ever

Here's your behind the scenes look at the holiday card shoot (these were taken the last week in November).

Dave and I traded off with the camera and staging duties---it's surprisingly complicated to get a toddler and a puppy to simultaneously cooperate.  Add in some wet paint, and it's (literally) a messy situation.  (The paint was black fingerpaint--totally nontoxic, washed right out, and I'm not sure if he even knew it was there, so no animal rights hate mail.)

Did you know that you can click on any picture to make it bigger?  So don't squint and hurt your eyes :)

Setting the scene-in the living room (the backdrop is our comforter draped over our couch):

Parker is clearly enthused and ready to begin.

Me: Parker!  Get in there!
Maya: Parker!  Let's go!
Parker: I don't think I like this.

Ok, guys, come on-perk up!   Pay attention!

Um, not like that.  That's too children-of-the-corn.

Maya's starting to get into it.  Add the paintbrush!

Hold it like this, Daddy?

Parker: I don't like the look of that paintbrush.

Maya: I think I could do some serious damage here.  (Is it me or does the way she's holding the brush totally scream "Psycho"?)

Ok, Maya, paint your Parker.


I love this day!

And then things took an  . . . um, unexpected turn.

Hope your holidays don't stink!  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The best holiday card EVER!

Without further ado, our 2010 card . . .

(You can click on this to make it appear full-screen)

I got into a street fight* this morning

*By street fight, I mean a yelling fight with a stranger on the street.

Ok, blog readers, I need your suggestions.  I feel like this is bound to happen again, so if anyone has advice for how to proceed I'd love to hear it.

Background: In NYC, parking is tough.  Some ritzy buildings will put orange traffic cones out to block cars from parking in certain spots (like to keep the entryway to a building open).  While this tricks a lot of out-of-towners, they don't have the legal right to block a spot (in most cases).

Also, the spots that I'm talking about here are on the street, so I needed to parallel park--to back in, then pull forward.

The scenario: There is a diplomat loading/unloading zone near Maya's therapist's office. They put orange cones along the spots and a "No Parking" sign in the middle. The diplomats pull up (with their hazards on), get out, move the signs, and then park. With DD's parking permit, we are now entitled to park there, but I've been avoiding it because I knew there would be drama.

Today I can't find any other spots, so I pull up, move the signs, and start to back in when a guy appears out of the building and rushes behind my car with the sign and puts it down. I get out and this conversation follows:

Him: You can't park here, diplomats only.

Me: I have a handicap pass, I'm allowed to park here.

Him: No, I have people coming in all morning!

Me: I'm sorry, but I'm legally allowed to park here-please move!

Him: Well, you have to park there!!!! (pointing to the spot the furthest forward, as there is a row of 3 spots available)

Me: Ok, fine. I'll pull up. But you need to move out of the way so that I can back in first. Then I'll pull forward.

Him: No, you park up there!! (the front of the spot)

Me: OK! But you have to MOVE so that I can get in!  I can't back in if you don't move that sign back further!

Him: (Stares at me, hand on the "no parking" sign.)
Me: Sir, if you don't MOVE THAT SIGN I'm going to back over it with my car.  And if you don't MOVE YOURSELF I'm going to call the police (gets in the car, puts it in reverse)
He moves.
I park (in the front, like he wanted, because I'm a NICE HUMAN BEING) and unload Maya while he walks around my car and mutters to himself.
I was amazed when I got back to the car that it hadn't been keyed or double parked or whatever.
So what do I do when this happens again?  Because it definitely will.  And I got so upset so quickly (especially because we had about 5 minutes to get to the appointment on time) that  I was *this* close to yelling at him "Hey, do you have kids?  Can they walk?  Well then thank your lucky stars because MINE CAN'T and we NEED TO PARK HERE so just GET OUT OF MY #@%$##@%  WAY!"
But that wouldn't have helped, right?
I'm so tired of feeling like I'm fighting all the time.   I don't want to have to justify myself to every idiot insurance agent and entitled doorman that I come across.
Maya cooperated by going stiff as a board when I took her out of the carseat (it's a new game, so that I can't put her into the stroller), so she was laying completely horizontal across both of my arms as I took her out of the car . . . it must have looked like she had a broken back :)  It kind of made me laugh, it was like she was hamming it up :)
Anyway, I'd love help with this one.  Post thoughts in the comments, on FB, or email me directly (
And the Holiday Card goes up in just a few hours!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And go round and round and round in the (ridiculous insurance) circle game*

If you "like" us on Facebook, you have been privvy to a few random I'm-going-to-crawl-into-a-hole-and-die-because-I-can't-handle-dealing-with-the-insurance-company rants.

It's got me thinking (more) about all of the bureaucratic nonsense that parents of children of special needs end up dealing with.  Yeah, I know that many people without kids with SN have insurance wars, and many people deal with other bureaucracies . . .but it can become (literally) a full time job for parents of children with special needs.  And, referring back to the learned helplessness model that I'm such a fan of, it's hard to keep trying to fight the shocks.  Last night when Dave got home I took a long, hot shower and had cookies and wine for dinner, because I was ready to just give up.  (Thanks to the KIPP cookie exchangers for providing my dinner ;)  )

If you are lucky enough to not understand what it means when someone says that they're "fighting with the insurance company", or if you don't understand why it would be stressful to just make a few phone calls, I hope that the saga below will help to shed some light:

Maya gets a lot of therapy, most of which is through the state's Early Intervention program.  However, we also supplement with private speech & feeding therapy, which we pay for out of pocket.  Insurance reimburses us for about 1/3 of what we shell out (don't get me started on the additional expenses of having a child with special needs).  Once we have a statement (EOB) from the insurance explaining what they will or won't pay, we can take money out of our FSA (a special account that we pay into at the start of each year, tax free, and can use only for medical expenses).  Without those EOBs, our money is stuck in the account.  If we don't submit EOBs to use it, we lose it.

The Saga:
I submitted a bunch (60ish) claims back at the end of Sept. Some were processed, some just seemed to disappear (meaning that I never heard anything about them, whether they were approved or denied). I've now spoken to different representatives about these claims a bunch of times---each time "something" is wrong with them, preventing them from being processed at all.

Call #1 : The first time I called, they "didn't have the provider's name and address"---but when I spoke to a representative and explained that all of that information was on the receipts that I sent in she was then (miraculously) able to see it. She then submitted them for re-processing.

My thoughts: Hooray!  That was easy to fix.  Now I'll just wait a few weeks for checks to come in the mail.
Call #2: The second time that I called they said that the person who resubmitted them the first time did it incorrectly, so we had to re-do everything from the first call.

My thoughts: Argh!  It's annoying that I waited all this time thinkng that it was being processed!  Oh well, at least now it seems like everything is fixed, and I just need to wait a few weeks for checks to arrive.

Call #3: The third time they said that the problem wasn't the missing address information, it was that they felt like the therapist wasn't qualified to provide feeding therapy (because her letterhead says "speech pathologist"). I pointed them towards 2 other claims that I had submitted and they had paid. She agreed that it didn't make sense, and put them all through for re-submission, again. She said that she would mail me EOBs that said the claims were denied, so that I could submit them to the FSA.  This phone call took 47 minutes, as we had to individually identify each date of service and claim (it's a good thing I've learned to keep good records).

My thoughts: What the hell-o goes on at these places?  How is it even possble that there are so many issues with these claims?  I'm starting to suspect that things are done incorrectly intentionally so that eventually I will give up.  Or be committed to a mental institution.  It's a good thing this girl was so helpful, she'll at least get those EOBs out to us tomorrow so that we don't lose our FSA money.  If I don't get them in the mail in the next few days I'm going to call and check.  

Call #4: The fourth time I called, the person said that we couldn't get EOBs in the mail because our account was now paperless (I'm 100% sure that this is another stalling tactic.  We never changed our account to paperless.  I have statements that were mailed to me in Oct, but in Nov they started posting notices to our "online insurance account"--which I had never even heard of prior to this call.  WHAT THE HELL? ).   She also said that they would never agree to mail 36 EOBs without something in writing. When I offered to fax in something she said that wouldn't work.  Then I had a crying, cursing mental breakdown on the phone and got the supervisor :) I faxed over 50 pages (that I had previously mailed in) to the supervisor. She said that she would try to figure out some way to help.

My thoughts: IswearonallthatiisholythatifiknewwherethisofficewasiwouldbetherecampingoutwithmywhinytoddlerandchangingherdiapersonsomeonesdeskandsingingwheelsonthebusandrowrowrowyourboatallthelivelongdayIfyoupeoplemakemelosemyFSAmoneyIwillcallyou3tmesadayeverydayfortherestofeternity.

Call #5/6/7: The 5th-6th-7th times I called, the supervisor dodged my calls. 
My thoughts: Shocker.  I think they may be starting to realize that I've crossed the line from "Overwhelmed victim of this company" to "Angry and annoying client who won't. ever. stop."

Call #8: The 8th time that I called, the supervisor saw that all of the claims are in the limbo of resubmission (for the umpteenth time). She emailed the manager to see if there was a way to print EOBs for the ones that have been denied and send them to me.  I still don't think that this will help with th 36 claims that are in limbo.

My thoughts:  I'm coming to the realization that the "supervisor" does not seem to be much more capable of getting things done then the call answering folks.  But at least now I have a name, and I get to the same person each time.

Call #9 (today): Supervisor dodged my call

Call #10 (today): Supervisor said that her manager emailed her back, but it was a secure, encrypted emal so she couldn't open it.  So she emailed the manager back and asked her to re-email it but not in a secure encrypted way so that she would be able to open it.

My thoughts: Ok, now you're just making shite up.  There's not even a remote possibility that any of that is legit.

So, there you have it. In my humble opinion, the insurance company is deliberately giving me the run around, trying to wait me out. 

It's maddening. 


And every time that I get out my notes and stack of papers to call, I think of one of my old favorite quotes (which you may have seen on the FB page):

"Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'.- Mary Anne Radmacher

And I guess that's what I'll do.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time*

Last night we headed to Maya's favorite place (Stew Leonard's) to get our tree  :)

Have I mentioned that I love Christmas time?

And Maya's learning to love it, too :)

Dave and I are excited to get the tree, Maya's perplexed that some strange lady just took our camera.

We quickly grabbed our tree  . . .

 . . . because it was pretty cold.  (Those are my gloves on Maya . . . if you follow our Facebook page you would know that getting her to keep gloves on is tricky business.)

"Santa, your beard is mighty suspicious"

And today has been as magical as last night . . . the holidays are definitely here, complete with a deliciously pine-scented apartment (courtesy of the above tree). 

Maya helped me make cookies (for the first time ever)!  It makes me kind of giddy to think about the ways that she'll soon be able to "help" in the kitchen (she's a big fan of "helping".  Note the quotes.).  Today she loaded cookies into the food processor to get crushed:

KIPP teachers, you will be eating the fruits of her labor tomorrow if you're cookie-exchanging.    Don't worry, her hands were spotlessly clean :)

Then she helped me bring out the lights and beads for the tree . . . which quickly evolved into a mini photo shoot, because she's just so darn cute.

Parker!  Get out of here, I'm tryin' to untangle these lights and you're just makin' me giggle!

And then she showed me that she's totally ready to unwrap presents by destroying her walker.  Yeah, you read that right.  I'll post about that tomorrow(ish)---it was a handy DIY project, but now I'm back to square one on it.

(cue big, announcer-type voice)

And now, folks, it's the moment you've all been waiting for . . . the winners of the first ever Holiday Card Giveaway are . . .
 #6- Jerri
#11- Lucie
#1- Candice

Hooray!  Congratulations, ladies!  Please email me your name & address ( and I'll get those right out to you!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Card Giveaway!

This Wednesday night, our 2010 holiday card will make it's web debut!  (Applause, applause!)

Wanna sneak peak?  Well, you're in luck!  We have some extras, so I'm going to offer 3 to blog readers.   It's my first ever blog giveaway, delivered straight to your door and coming with holiday cheer from us to you :)

To enter:  Simple, just leave a comment on this blog post. 

How it will work: Sunday night I'll use a random number generator (or some other random thing) to pick 3 comments.  I'll announce the winners, you email me your mailing address, the cards go out first thing Monday morning.

Also: If this gets 3 or less comments, those people automatically get the card.  Plus, I'll feel lame.  But who cares, it's all in the name of holiday fun.

Bonus: It's a really adorable (and kind of funny) card (in my humble opinion).  So it will make you giggle, or at least smile.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hungry like the wolf, part 2

Parker is experiencing toy confusion.

This cow is mine

Actually, that's misleading---he is experiencing toy confusion, but not with the cow.  He just likes to cuddle the cow.   The blue car, however, is another story:


To be fair, it's not his fault.  It's Maya's fault.  Maya likes to play with her toys on the coffee table (which we encourage, because then she's standing and bending and twisting instead of just sitting on the floor).  The coffee table is right next to Parker's crate, and now she likes to sneakily load her toys into his bed. 

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Obviously, that's enough to get a puppy confused.  The other night we didn't notice that Maya had put her blue car in the crate, and he slept with it overnight.  In the morning, he woke up with it there and started chewing away . . . and now he thinks it's his.  He'll sniff around her pile of cars, gently lift out the blue car, walk away and flop down somewhere and happily chew to his heart's content.  

At this point I almost feel bad shouting, "Parker!  Leave it!"  . . .  because he looks up at me with such sincere curiosity, it's like I can hear a little voice in his head saying " . . . but it's just my blue car!"

Oh, and Maya thinks it's really funny when he takes her toys.  She'll hold them up to his mouth, and if she can get him to take it (he's so gentle) she starts giggling madly.  So that's helpful.

I am mildly concerned that if I'm not vigilant, we will have a Little People/little animal/little car massacre on our hands.

In other news, I had a hysterical breakdown on the phone with our insurance company today.  I cried, stomped my feet (yeah, that's embarassing but true) and when the representative told me that she "could put in a request for a supervisor to call me back, but they were both busy right now" I got menancingly quiet and say "Oh no.  I'm not getting off this phone.  So you can pretend to be looking up all of these claims, we can talk in circles about my paperwork, or you could just tell me about how your day is going if you want.  But I'm not. getting. off. this. phone."    I hate that so much of my time is spent fighting with people (insurance, agencies, DOT, soon to be DOE) and organizing paperwork in order to fight more effectively. 

It's no wonder my hair falls out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We wish(ed) you a Merry Christmas (2009 style)*

Last year we thought that we had come up with a great card.  It was a pictoral representation of 2009, it made us laugh, and we thought it was clever.  We didn't anticipate that it would prove to be possibly too clever.  Have a look:


(sorry that it's a little blurry, I'm not a tech person so I don't know how to clean that up!)


Get it?

To us, it made total sense.  Spring = Maya is sad, Summer = Maya is sad, Fall = Maya is sad . . . but in the Winter, Maya is happy!  Tie it all together with "It's the most wonderful time of the year" Christmas song quote, and we loved it.   But then we had a few conversations that went like this:

Them: "Hey, we got your card!  It was really cute.  It was interesting how you picked so many crying pictures, though."

Us: "Did you get it?  Like with the whole 'it's the most wonderful time of the year' thing?  You know, because the holiday season is fun, so she was only laughing in the winter?"

Them:  "Ohhhhhhhh . . . "

Us:  (Sigh)

Oh well.  We still think it was an excellent card  :)

So now you've seen 2008 (Maya's first card) and 2009 (Maya's 2nd card) . . . in a week I'll put up this year's card (which is Maya's 3rd card and Parker's 1st card).   And this year's card . . . well, let me just say that it's good. 

Really good.

(I'm slightly biased, but whatever)

I can't wait to share it here!