A fight

I am lucky to have very good insurance.  Years ago, when I had my gallbladder out, it was supposed to be covered in full, but it was emergency and billed differently than normal–insurance denied the claim.  I ended up having to involve my employer, who quickly ensured that the bill was paid.

Because of my plan, I have to be very careful about who I see and where I go, as most In-Network things are covered 100%, but out-of-network would cause me to be 100% responsible.  As a result, during this pregnancy, I’ve spend a lot of time on the phone with the insurance company and doctor’s office billing area to ensure certain things would be covered.

When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, my doctor told me I had to see a nutritionist.  The insurance company said it was cover in full, no copayment.  And then I found out it was at the hospital, insurance still said it was covered in full.  I went, but still fretted a bit the bill.

A week before Lynzie was born, I got the bill.  Insurance had covered nothing and I now owed $246.  Now that isn’t a TON of money, but I was still rather pissed.  I spent my Monday calling the hospital, calling the insurance company, calling the hospital, calling the insurance company, calling the hospital, being transferred, calling the doctors office, talking with the dietician….I was so very frustrated.  It eventually came down to the fact that the codes the hospital billed under didn’t reference diabetes and the only nutrition counseling for diabetes.  I was assured that it would be re-billed with the correct codes.

Then I had Lynzie.  I didn’t even think about the bill, until about a week ago when I got a second notice.  I called the hospital again to see if they rebilled and spoke with a man who told me they hadn’t, I was responsible and that there was a note on the account that I called on the 28th and said it was billed correctly.  WHAT?  That was a Sunday and I was just being released from the hospital with Lynzie.  I am 100% sure they did not speak with me on that day.  But one good thing came of that conversation–he vaguely mentioned a secondary billing code that was on the bill to the insurance that referenced maternal diabetes.

Loaded with that info, I called the insurance company AGAIN, after explaining my situation, I was put on hold for a long, long time.  In the end, she told me that she was going to resubmit it to the claims department for processing.

Now, for some reason I don’t get statements about my claims, so I had to call back to find out what was determined.  Insurance paid $120 on the day I last called, and the rest will be written-off, so they say.  I called back to the hospital to see if they had received the payment and to ensure I owe nothing.  I’ve heard too many horror stories of things like this getting messed up.  As of today, the hospital has nothing on my account, but she said it can take several days for them to receive the payment, review the statement of benefits, agree with what was sent and post it to the account.  So now I have to call back next week.

But here’s the thing.  My parent’s don’t have insurance and a great many people don’t.  How come these people would have to pay $140 more (over twice as much) as the insurance company does?  I know it’s what is been negotiated, but man, it really screws the people who don’t have money for insurance in the first place.  I remember having this same feeling with the billed from my last hospital stay.  It’s no wonder this is such a hot topic in the political world.


From a mistake

Before Lynzie, we were eating a grilled meat (steak, chicken or pork), a baked potato and broccoli for dinner pretty much every night.  After Lynzie, I could eat what I want, so dinner was up in the air again.  I have to say our first few days home from the hospital weren’t the greatest food.  We pretty much had Kraft Mac and Cheese except for the nights a few people brought us food, and even then it was sometimes just homemade mac and cheese.

Last week, I decided to return to planning and preparing dinners, it felt right.  I don’t remember what we had on monday, but it was successful…Tuesday was another story.  I wanted to make a Haitian beans and rice recipe I’d seen on blog I read.  It called for the use of dry beans.    I quick soaked them and then began following the directions, which said to boil for 45 minutes.  I set the timer so I wouldn’t forget and went up stairs to put laundry away–30 minutes later I could smell burning.  I went down stairs and my beans are black, the pan is black and they are no where near done.  I was so mad.  I ran water over them, turned off the stove and told Zach I was taking a shower.

While I was in the shower, Zach cooked dinner.  He knows once I’m mad about food, I won’t make a decision and then I just get madder because I’m hungry.  We ended up with Mac and Cheese and tuna at 9PM.

On Wednesday, I was determined to try again.  I started a little earlier, so if things went south, we had time to make another meal, and this time when I boiled the beans for 45 minutes, I covered them and simmered them AND I found a project to keep me IN the kitchen.  45 minutes later and the beans still had plenty of liquid and I continued on.  They were good beans and rice, but the star of the night was my side project.

We had three bananas that were past eating, but not past making something with.  I thought of making Banana Bread, Banana cookies, Banana roll and then suddenly, I decided I was going to make banana pudding.  At first I thought I was just going to use the instant pudding mix I had in the pantry, but then I remembered I don’t really like instant pudding…it has a yucky after taste.  So I began browsing the web.  I ended up combining ideas from a few places, but the main ideas came from here.  The end result topped with homemade whipped cream, was amazing and so rich you really didn’t need a lot.  A perfect dessert.  We ended up eating the rest for Thanksgiving and the family loved it.

Banana Pudding – Jenn’s Style


  • Vanilla Wafers, crushed in big pieces.
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium bananas


  1. Place bananas on cookie sheet and bake on middle rack of 325° oven until black.  About 20 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool. about 5 minutes.
  2. Line 9-inch pie pan with crushed wafers.
  3. In sauce pan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt together.  Add in heavy cream and stir until smooth.  Beat in eggs and then milk.
  4. While constantly stirring bring mixture to a boil on medium to medium-low heat.  Continue to stir until starts to thicken.
  5. Strain through sieve to remove any lumps and place in bowl.  Add in the roasted bananas and stir.  (I used my hand mixer to get it well blended up).  Stir a few more times as it cools.  About 10 minutes.
  6. Put pudding mixture on top of wafers in the pie pan and cover with plastic wrap.  Make sure the plastic is touching the pudding.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  8. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

I will never ever make instant pudding again!



For being the season of thanks, that last post seemed more like a complaint…so, on a happier note:

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the negative, but I’m reminded daily about how much God has blessed us.  A little list of the things that have been at the forefront recently, but in no certain order…

My family: Zach, who is an amazing companion to me.  The first person I ever felt comfortable enough around to admit when I didn’t know something and didn’t walk out the door the first time he met my dad who was at the time yelling at me stating that despite me wanting his house to be a democracy, he was “the alpha male;”  Isaac, my amazingly smart, courteous and all things good (most of the time) almost four year old;  Lynzie, my precious four-week old.  A blessing we waited for for many years;  Mom, my best friend, who is always there for me, even when it’s hard on her;  Dad, we might not always see eye to eye, but he loves me and would really do anything for me;  My sister Stacy, who I miss so much, who else can find the laughter in anything; Cody, my brother-in-law, who is amazing with Isaac and one of the most thoughtful young men I’ve ever been around.

My job: I wonder sometimes if I made the right decision to leave teaching after only one year, but more and more I believe I did 100%.  My job has led us to have great insurance that keeps my medical bills very low (I just had a baby for $100).  I’m able to work from home…cooking bread on my lunch, shuffling my kid around, taking naps when I was pregnant, seeing my family more, having our internet paid for and a host of other things.  I also work with some pretty amazing people (even if I’ve never met any of them face to face).  This job allows me to pay my bills, enjoy what I do, but most importantly, keeps my family as the top priority in my life.

Zach’s job: We wanted Zach to have a teaching job this year, but honestly, his current job pays just as much as teaching, he just doesn’t get the breaks, and the split shift works extremely well for our family.  Being as manager gives him more flexibility with his schedule and he works with a great bunch of people.  Not to mention, he can take Isaac with him ever so often and Isaac gets to enjoy the interaction with the kids.

Our House: Our house is tiny, we have too much stuff.  My kitchen is tiny and a bit of a challenge to work in.  There are a host of other things I’d change, and we wanted to sell and move about two or three years ago, but it’s OUR house.  We have always been able to make the payments and pay our utilities (which, BTW, I’m thankful for as well).

Our Cars: We may only have one car that can hold the family and really only one car that can carry a passenger in the front seat, but that one car is great.  We bought it brand-new when I was pregnant with Isaac and I was scared it wouldn’t be worth the car payment, but I’ve never regretted it.  Zach’s two door car, has been well loved and recently had a passenger seat mishap, which had led to no airbags on that side and it might be a bit of a challenge to get rid of someday, but it’s a perfect car for getting too and from work and it’s completely paid off.

Our Neighbors: We haven’t always gotten a long with our neighbors, but recently we’ve bonded and I have to say, someday when we move, I will miss our neighbors most.  By that point, they might be family.

My friends: I don’t have many and I don’t really call any when I’m having a bad day and need some help, but I’m oh so thankful for the ones I do have.  They are bright spots in what could otherwise be a very boring day-to-day.

These are the big things, but there are more subtle things to be thankful for in everyday…the geese flying low and the golden sun reflecting of their bellies…the glow on my sons face when he sees the moon through binoculars…gas in the car…12 weeks of paid maternity to love on my kids…cheesecake…hot showers…fresh water…afternoon walks…the list goes on and on and on.

Thanksgiving 2012

At some point in my life, we stopped getting invited to my grandparents or aunt and uncles house for holidays.  We’d never done anything with my Dad’s side of the family, even though they all live within an hour of us.  So we always just had our family day.

And then Zach joined the picture.  It seems like he used to do more holiday stuff with his mom than he does now and I’m sure I’m to blame.

Holidays stress me out slightly.  Our family is small — My parents and my sister (and her husband); my father-in-law and brother-in-law; and my mother-in-law and her husband.  Zach is technically and “only child” and his mother’s only kid.  Her husband has two kids in Kansas, but they never do holidays with them.   As a result, I always end up hosting which is a LOT of work.

No one in our family even thinks to offer to host.  If we don’t mention anything, no one asks us until maybe the day before and then it’s only “what are you doing?”  Well, this year, I told Zach I wasn’t doing anything…I was going to have a four week old.

It wasn’t so much the cooking, although that was part of it, but it’s so stressful to get the parents together.  Z’s dad is the most easy going, but Z’s step-dad isn’t too fond of being around his wife’s ex-husband.  My parents, especially, my dad tries to fit in, but I don’t think Z’s mom and step-dad like them very much, which makes for awkward conversations.  Cody fits where ever (I couldn’t ask for a better brother-in-law) and my sister is only around on occasion as she lives in VA and when she is in town, she has to split her time with her in-laws.

I think things would be less awkward and more fun if we had more people.  I love to play games, but can only get about half the people on board and most of those always leave as soon as possible.

So we weren’t having family over, Zach agreed, but he still wanted to have turkey so he could have left-overs.  And I have to admit, Zach makes pretty much the best turkey and stuffing I’ve ever had.  Anyway, the weekend before thanksgiving, Cody asked what we were doing, even though he was working that day.  And then later on Sunday, my dad asked if he could make a turkey and bring it over.  I explained that we were just staying home and I was trying to avoid the stress-out.  We never heard from any of Zach’s parents.  So again, no one was coming over.

On Thanksgiving, we got to cooking really late.  I think the turkey went in the oven at 1 or 2.  When it was cooking, we decided that we’d call/text the family when we took the turkey out and tell them they could come over in an hour to eat if they weren’t busy.  The three of us weren’t really going to eat a whole turkey!  And I was going to make green bean casserole, which is always too much food (but that didn’t work out because I didn’t have enough onions).  Right after we’d determined this, my dad texted to see if we had a meat theomometer that he could borrow to check his turkey that he was cooking.  We said yes, and he came over with Mom and was just going to leave Mom while he went and checked his turkey.  But then Zach called him and asked if they wanted to eat with us.  He offered to make the gravy (his specialty) and carrots.  And then Zach texted the rest of the family (his family).

We ened up with everyone by his mom and step-dad, who eventually texted back to tell us they were at a friend’s house that day.  I hardly did anything.  I made the potatoes and some rolls and whipped cream, but Z did the rest.  It worked out just fine, but had more of Sunday night family dinner than a holiday dinner.  And Z and his dad cleaned the whole kitchen, so I didn’t even have to worrry about that.  I just got to sit around and hold Lynzie all night and chat with the parents.  Now to determine what to do for Christmas and Isaac’s birthday…

Nine Months

In nine months, I grew a baby, but I also nurtured a little person quickly coming into his own.  Sometimes, its hard to see the changes when you are always together.  This weekend, I ran into this “big brother” video from March and can really see the changes in Isaac.  The second video was taken last weekend.

Everyday Miracles

God made us such incredible beings.  I’ve been amazed at how my tiny newborn knew by instinct exactly where to go for milk the second she was born.  How her oxygen levels were struggling, until she was placed skin-to-skin on my chest.  How my body spends months nurturing this tiny being.  She had always been surrounded by liquid and then is thrust into the world and must breathe and eat to survive.  Every little bit of life is a miracle.

The other day I’d just taken a nice long hot shower.  As I was getting dressed it was time to feed Lynzie, so I decided to forego putting my shirt and bra on and feed her skin-to-skin.  As I picked her up, she started crying and I immediately thought her diaper was leaking and pee was running down my belly.  As I looked down, I started laughing as I was dripping milk for both sides.  All over myself, all over the bed, the floor, everywhere.  I quickly put Lynzie down and grabbed a towel to clean up as she continued to cry and I continued to leak.  Zach looked over at the mess and said, “go something about her crying.  You are just making things worse.”  And true enough, I wasn’t going to be able to clean up a mess, until I could keep it from happening.  It was so funny, but it also was such a reminder of how amazing our bodies are.

Halloween ’12

I love the fall.  Actually, I kinda love any change in seasons.  But I’m not one for Halloween. I don’t like witches and monsters, scary and gore, so I’m not one to do it up.  Zach loves the costumes and candy…it’s all about the candy.  We’ve always struggled with how to mesh these perspectives together.   Eventually, we decided on allowing the kids to dress up and trick-or-treat, but that we wouldn’t make it a huge deal, and then we had a three-year-old.

Isaac has been reading and learning about the seasons and one of the things he learned from the book was about Halloween.  He was suddenly very interested in it and kept asking when he got to go trick-or-treating.  “After your sister is born,” was always the answer.

Having a baby on Friday, coming home on Sunday and Halloween on Wednesday, I didn’t know exactly how it was going to go, but after Isaac looking forward to it for so long, I didn’t want to completely disappoint him.

On Halloween, we decided to take Isaac over to a local church (the church we’d like to go to if only Isaac wouldn’t throw such a fit when we tried to leave him in the children’s area, and really church is the only place he has ever been like that) for their Harvest Party.  I didn’t want to be left out, so we bundled Lynzie up and got Isaac dressed and headed out.

The party was a little lower key than some other churches around, but it was just perfect for us.  It wasn’t too crowded, had a few games, some blow-up bouncies and a bit of food.  Isaac had fun touring the games and getting his candy, but his favorite was the bouncy house.  Unfortunately, this lead to him not being able to breath and Zach having to go get his inhaler out of the car.  We spent about an hour at the church, which was just long enough for me as I was beginning to get really sore.  Isaac agreed it was fun, but isn’t quite sure if he is ready to go to church yet.  We’ll work on that.

Back at home, a neighbor brought us dinner and Isaac learned the rules of handing out candy: do not open the door if Mommy and Daddy aren’t downstairs, do not give candy to anyone unless they say “trick or treat.”  I had decided to stay upstairs for the night with Lynzie, but since our house is small I could still hear everything that was going on downstairs.

Halloween is Isaac’s holiday.  It is perfect for his personality.  He got to dress up as a fireman (someone who helps people, not a bad guy) and he gets to be social with lots of people.  Zach said he would stand at the door staring at the kids until they said “trick or treat,” and then he’d have conversations with them – “Cool costume,” “You talk good,” “how is your day?” – something different with everyone.  Zach then took Isaac door-to-door around our block and I guess his conversations continued.  Every person who opened a door was blessed with a different Isaac question or statement, typically related to their house or decorations.

The next morning, Isaac immediately asked when he could go trick or treating again.  He was so sad when I told him he’d have to wait a year.  I asked him if he liked Halloween – “Not the scary stuff, just trick or treating.”  And when asked if he preferred to hand out candy or go trick or treating he stated – “I love it all.”  It really was great to see his little personality shine through.  What a kid!