Friday, January 30, 2009

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are getting a new baseball stadium in Minneapolis. Currently, they share the Metrodome with the Vikings, but come 2010 they will have their own place to play. John is doing some work on the site for his company and took some recent pictures of the progress. I'll let him explain...

West elevation showing what the outside of ballpark will look like - note the street bridge right next to the bldg. - underneath the bridge will be the loading dock & player/employee entrances,

View down the main concourse showing some of Olympic's work - the ceiling framing and the yellow walls, which will be covered with an acrylic plaster product....

View from concourse level facing West across the field - on the upper left is the start of the terrace level seating.

View from the other end looking East - the red sign w/ 2010 (bottom right) is where home plate will be. No games today, it was about zero degrees when I took these.

Looking towards downtown to the Southeast. On the left are some of the outfield bleacher seats.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Does this make sense to anyone?

I just spent the last 45 minutes on the phone arguing with a dental insurance representative. Gee, that makes for an afternoon of rainbows. :)

Ok - here's the situation...remember about a month back, John and I were concerned about a 'spot' on Katie's tooth. I called the dentist and they suggested to bring her in and they would take a quick look to see what it was. Turned out to be a small surface cavity just beginning, so they fixed it. They also found another 'spot' that was just beginning to decay so you couldn't see it just yet, but they suggested we get that fixed as well. And then they would apply a sealant to the tooth to make sure it was protected even further. The whole process took 2 visits - about 15-20 minutes each. And because we had caught them so early, they didn't even have to use Novocaine.

Fast forward to now - we get the bill. The total the dentist charged was $517. Let me say that again....$517. That's 2 filings, an x-ray, and a sealant. Our insurance paid a whopping $123.00. Our balance is $358.00. (The difference of $36 was reduced because we used an in network provider - whatever.) There was an office visit of $60 - insurance company wouldn't pay that because she had just been in a month ago for a checkup, and they only allow for 2 visits a year, no emergency visits.

"Ok, if she was just in a month ago - why the HELL didn't the dentist see the cavity?"

"I don't know ma'am."

Then there were the x-rays....the insurance covered those....thankfully. The sealant? Nope, insurance says no way, Jose. We didn't need Novocaine...but Katie did use the nitrous oxide. Insurance doesn't pay for that at all. When I used the 'gas' 2 years ago, it was $25. This dentist charged me $50 for Katie....each time. You can't tell me that a 35 pound little girl uses more gas than I do.

The filings - the dentist charged $274.00 for those tiny teeth. Insurance is supposed to pay 50%...did they? No. They paid $87. Leaving us with $187. The insurance company claimed that they will only pay 50% on mercury fillings...these were amalgam fillings - they cost more. Here in Minnesota, it's very difficult to find a dentist that will do mercury fillings on a child. Our dentist is no different, we didn't have a choice in material.
Because we were concerned for Katie's teeth - we took her to the Dr. I asked the insurance rep if it would have been better off for us to wait 5 months to bring Katie to the dentist - wait for her 6 month checkup. That way the tooth would have decayed even MORE to the point where they would have had to use Novocaine. The Novocaine would have been covered and the office visit would have been covered. And perhaps Katie would have been in pain and not as excited about the dentist anymore. The rep apologized saying that she realized the system isn't perfect, but this is the coverage that is contracted, blah, blah, blah.

This sure didn't make any sense to me. And I don't think there's any quick fix to correct it either.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A book report...

I just finished a book the other day that I thought I would take time to tell you about. It's called My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. If you are in the mood for a gut wrenching, tear jerker - gee, are you in luck.

Some of my college friends recommended the book a few weekends ago. I got it from the library and was hooked by page 3...crying by page 60.

It's about this typical, everyday family. Their discovered their daughter had a very serious form of leukemia at age 2. Their other son wasn't a good enough match for donating things like bone marrow so they decided to have another baby - but this time they would genetically match her so that she would be able to donate cord blood, bone marrow, etc. for their other daughter.
Fast forward 13 years - the sick daughter is in kidney failure and needs a transplant. The younger daughter files a lawsuit for medical emancipation, claiming she doesn't want to be picked apart anymore and harvested. If she wins the case, she will lose her sister. If she loses the case, she loses her independence

It's certainly a heart breaking book - especially if you happen to have sisters (like I do).....and have children (like I do)........and happen to have a daughter named Kate (the daughter with leukemia is named Kate...gee, I have that too.) Do I have to explain to you why I was bawling by page 60?

They are in the process of making a movie out of this book as well. Unfortunately, it's being directed by the same guy that directed The Notebook. I haven't seen the whole movie, but in my opinion it was too sappy and fluffy...the book was much better - as is in most cases. Anyway they have a pretty good cast set.....Alec Baldwin will be the prosecuting attorney (great choice)....Cameron Diaz will be the mother (hmmm - not sure about this one)....Abigail Breslin will be the daughter suing her parents (GREAT CHOICE! I LOVE HER!). Anyway - keep your eye out for that this summer - June, I think. It'll probably be one of those cases where the book is much better - has there ever been a case where the movie is better?

Next, I am opting for something a little lighter. I am on the waiting list at the library for Twilight. (I hope I reserved the right one.) I am told the movie is good - who has time to go to a movie??? - I'll read the book.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Birthdays and more birthdays

Today, a birthday wish goes out to John's brother, Jim Pladsen. Katie hopes that you get cake. :) Maybe all the farm animals will get together and sing for you. Although Katie tells me that won't happen. Not many people know this, but when Katie was younger she took to calling Jim "Butch." Not sure where that came from, but no matter how much we tried to get her to say "Jim" she always said "Butch." So....Happy Birthday Butch!

Another happy birthday for our friend, Joe Margolis. While he and his wife, Jamie and all their families are out celebrating his 30th birthday (yeah, that's right - I said it) we get to babysit their son Noah! I figured I would let your age out of the bag because you're younger than me and I figure you can't hurt me too much - you need me to watch Noah. :)

Boy - you guys sure picked cold days to have your birthday on.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

6 years....

I want to take a moment to say Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband, John. 6 years ago today we were married on a sunny beach in Key West, Florida. I'm glad we aren't there right now because they are having a cold streak and it's only going to be in the 50's there today.

Although none of you could be there with us...because, well, we didn't really invite you... :) It was one of the happiest days of my life. The love I have for you, John, is a thousand times more powerful today and I am thankful for every day we have together. You're stuck with me now.

So to celebrate, we are having a nice dinner at home. I am going to get some crab legs at the store today and cook those up. (Yummy) And I spose I'll try to make or find some type of Key Lime desert...our tradition. I told Katie we were going to eat crab for dinner and she informed me that she will be dining on peanut butter and jelly. Great - more for me....I mean us. :)

I also wanted to update you on Katie's skating progress. She had her third lesson on Tuesday. It was a big day - she was able to stand up all by herself. She fell like 4-5 times and each time got right back up with no problem - slowly, but she did it. Then towards the end of the half hour, she started moving her feet and was able to actually gain some forward motion. And once - by accident - she even went backwards. (She thought that was extremely funny.) If you would have told me 3 weeks ago that she would be able to do this, I would have laughed. The most important thing is that it's giving her a new confidence in herself and strengthening her balance skills.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Denise!!

Today is my sister Denise's birthday. Should I say the number? I DO live 3 1/2 hours away so it's not like she could kill me IMMEDIATELY. :). All I'll say (if I have the number right) is that there is a 5 at the end. Happy Birthday Denise!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow. You're only a day away...

It's almost here. Do you sense the excitement and anticipation? Tomorrow is Inauguration Day. We will have a new president and a place in history. I've been trying to explain it to Katie because she doesn't really understand WHY he isn't the real president yet. Good grief - the election was over 2 months ago! I also haven't explained that he is the first African American president. She doesn't really SEE differences like that - and I think I'd like to keep it that way for the time being. She has a great mix of cultures in her preschool class, and it's no big deal to her. So, if she isn't making a big deal about people's differences, why should I point them out to her and MAKE them an issue.

The bigger issue here is remembering who will NOT be president tomorrow. After approximately 2,922 days Bushie will finally be gone. Did you hear my sigh of relief? I don't agree with his policies, I don't approve of most of the people he surrounded himself with, and I don't think history will look back positively on his legacy.

I've heard over the last few years that people liked him because he was someone you could go have a beer with. Ugh. I never understood this thought process. I don't want MY president to have a beer with me. I don't want him to be some average Joe off the street. I don't want him to be my bar buddy. Our president should be the smartest, most eloquent guy in the room. I want him to be more intelligent about things than I am, and to be WAY too busy to have a beer with me. Here's the twist - he has to have compassion for other people and a sense of service to the people that elected him....or her as the case may be. :)

On another note - I haven't come across her birth certificate yet. I'm trying to think if we were even issued one. We got the certificate from the hospital, but it says right on there that it isn't an official document. When Will was born, I remember them asking me if I wanted the birth certificate. Is it possible that I didn't get one for Katie? In any case I'll have to call the government center tomorrow and see if I can get one. I never had to have proof of birth date for Katie's preschool - they just took my word for it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Fam

Back in December we had our family picture taken at our church here in town. I got our free 8x10 last weekend and thought I would share that with you. So here's your one glance at the whole family together. Doesn't happen very often. :) Will was SO giggly. Every time the flash went off he laughed and laughed....and I'm talking BELLY laughs. :)

It's finally above zero here today. They never called off school for Katie this week. They rarely do - not a lot of buses having to travel off road I guess. I am in the process of filling out her paperwork for kindergarten. I need one last if YOU were Katie's birth certificate....where would you likely be? I can find Will's, but can't seem to locate Katie's...yet. It's not in her baby book, but that's the only place I have checked.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A note from Katie

Today after breakfast, Katie wanted to do her usual drawing activity. Most mornings her and Will belly up to the table after breakfast and after we are dressed, and use crayons and paper to create their masterpiece. Today this was what Katie's said:


:) Do you get it? I asked her to read it to me. She said her alphabet and then "Katie wrote it." I asked her how she knew to write that sentence and she said that she just sounded out the letters. To say the least, I was pretty proud of that. :)

Yesterday we went to Will's 18 month check up. He checked out fine. He weighs just over 25 pounds (our home scale says 28) and is just over 33 inches tall. He still has a big head. :)

The only thing we are keeping an eye on is his speech. "They" say he should have between 10-15 words now - which he doesn't. I would say he has times. I told the doctor that we can never get him to say any words - but he'll say them on his own. She said this showed independence. (Yeah, right.) She also said that slow speech is a sign of early intelligence. What ever works I guess. :) So we decided that we would check in again in 3 months to see if there is any progress....maybe do a hearing check just to rule that out.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is staying warm. It's very cold up here, although bright and sunny. I have 2 loads of laundry to get folded before I start supper. We are having No Name steaks tonight...with some kind of vegetable(s) on the side. Should I set a place for you? :)

Katie's not cold...she's kickin' back on a beach.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 we come!

Katie had her second ice skating lesson today. If she keeps improving at the rate she's going, she'll be competing in an upcoming Olympics. :) Ok, probably not, BUT she did stand vertical on her skates today which was a VAST improvement from last week!

So this was last week. And here, you can see Katie trying to stand up...this was as close as she ever got.

She has lessons for 30 minutes ever Tuesday afternoon. The session only goes for 7 weeks. I figure that's enough of a taste for now. Thank goodness she is skating indoors. I don't think we could be outside very long today. It's -11 right now, and that's the warmest it's been all day.

Will had no interest in watching his sister learn to skate. (I know - big surprise!) This week though, I brought snacks for him so he was much easier to handle. We got there early so that Katie could practice walking in her skates on the floor, and practice getting up from a sitting position. She still has trouble getting up by herself on the ice, but once she is up - she stands up. She doesn't MOVE, she just stands there, but heck - one thing at a time, right?

Wah-Hoo! And we're up! Look, no hands! Note the poor little girl off to the side grasping onto the teacher's hand for dear life. :) Her name happens to be 'Katie' too.

It also helped that there were 5 kids there this week with 2 teachers...versus 10 last week with 2 teachers. Last week out of Katie's 30 minute lesson I think she was either on her butt or her knees for 25 of the 30 minutes. (I'm not exaggerating.) This week, it was easily the other way around. And next week - maybe she'll start some forward motion.

There is Katie and the other Katie standing alone. Neither one dares to make a move or shift their weight...God forbid they start to glide. (Note the Plexiglas cleaner in the background. They said that they clean that weekly!)

Wow! Look at that determination....look at that braveness...look at that DIRTY coat! Geez..note to self...'wash your kid's coat!'

At least she hasn't broken anything...that's the biggest accomplishment of all.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our Slumber Party

This weekend we had company at our house. Some friends of mine from college came to town and visited. Julie and her husband traveled from Holmen, WI. Laurel, Casey, and their two kids, Karlie and Cameron came up from McGregor, IA. And we also got together with Jamie, Joe, and their son, Noah in St. Louis Park, MN. For those of you keeping score that's a 4 year old, a 3 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and a 6 month old. (Including our kids)

We all met for lunch at Jamie's on Saturday and then a few of us brave souls ventured out to an indoor park nearby. Whew! Was that a mistake! There were SOO many people it was crazy. Of course the kids (all except baby Cameron went) had a blast and weren't phased by the massive numbers. Us adults though...that's a different story and we left after not too long.

For supper, everyone came over to our house. The kids ate a played SO well - it was a lot of fun. Katie and Karlie had a great time with each other. Katie also took a liking to baby Cameron whom she decided she wanted to babysit.

When it was time for bedtime, Julie and Russ went with Jamie and Joe to stay at their house. Laurel and Casey stayed at our place. That meant that the girls were going to be able to have a sleep over in Katie's room. We laid out sleeping mats on the floor, got blankets and pillows ready, and after hearing a story - the girls passed out. I wanted to get a picture of them on the floor, but didn't get in there before they fell asleep. And there was NO WAY I was going to take a chance waking them up. :) Poor Cameron was teething and had a rough time settling down. But the kids had SO much fun - I'd love to do it again.

We all met again for lunch at Jamie and Joe's today. The kids played together for a few hours after lunch and for having 2 days with no naps...they were GREAT! They really do get along so well and have a good time together. It's a shame we are all so far apart. Hopefully we'll all see each other again when the weather warms up.

Be ready - I'm trying to get a post up about Katie's ice skating lessons...haven't had time lately, but keep checking's coming!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Jeff!

A Happy Birthday goes to my brother-in-law, Jeff Mezera. Hope you have a great day! Janet told me your age, but I'll be nice and just say you're over 20. Heck, you have a 19 year old son so I guess you would have to be. :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cold, but sunny

We got some fresh snow last night - not too much, but enough to probably warrant some shoveling. Katie starts back to school tomorrow. (Yipee!) It will be nice for her to get back on a schedule again. Will slept through the night on Friday night, but awoke this morning at 6:30 am...luckily he went back to sleep after a few minutes of rocking and nursing. I guess I can't complain about that.

The kids are getting much better at playing together. Katie likes to be the teacher, and gets very angry at Will when he doesn't listen to her. I don't think that's ever going to change. Right now they are both playing in Katie's room and we haven't seen either one for about 20 minutes. (I get to blog and John is reading the paper!) Katie always alerts us when something is wrong by screaming at the top of her lungs "Mom, Dad come quick! This is a catastrophe!" Which means that Will has grabbed her doll or toothbrush and is about to put one of them in the toilet.

We had ice cream cones last night. Gone are the days when Will was satisfied just having bites of my cone. This time, HE had the cone and I had to be happy with bites and licks every once in a while.

On Saturday the four of us went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. There was an exhibit there on Eero Saarinen that John wanted to see. He was an architect that designed such things at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the IBM plant in Rochester, MN. It's an amazing museum! The admission is free and Katie really got into looking at things like the Egyptian artifacts and some of the Indian displays. She also thought it was funny that she could see the rear end on some the statues. That's a four year old for you. Both kids were amazingly well behaved. And even though Katie spilled her milk at lunch time, I considered it a successful trip.

Then we drove by the new Twins stadium so John could show us the progress they have made. They sure SQUEEZED that thing in there. It's going to be very nice, and hopefully I will be able to post pictures from there soon. And no, we don't get free tickets. :)

Katie starts ice skating lessons this week too. Let's hope we don't have to make any mad dashes to the emergency room...