Thursday, July 18, 2019

Conrad Reunion (June 27)

My cousin Heather emailed me sometime in April to say she'd be coming to town (with her new husband and children) the last week of June, wondering if I'd be around.

"Just barely..." I responded.

Somehow she missed the news that we were getting ready to move to Georgia, but all the stars aligned and we were able to get together the day before we moved. My mom rented a pavilion at a park and we had a lovely family pot luck dinner. It ended up being a spur-of-the-moment reunion, which was so fun!

All of my mom's siblings were there—her sisters came in from California and Alberta, and her brother is local, so he was there, too! It's been a few years since they've all gotten together (I think the last time was when we were visiting the summer after Zoë was born). 

It was so great to see everyone...and also a little sad because it was the day before we were due to take off and I was realizing how much I would be missing out on. Or, at least, potentially missing out on.

We all took turns lamenting that we "never get together enough!" 

And, frankly, that's true! We never do! It seems to always take a special event to pull everyone together: a wedding, a funeral, or a far-away cousin coming into town for a visit. So isn't it nice for certain cousins to spread their wings and fly far enough away that when they return for a visit everyone gets excited and gathers together?

We're taking one for the team in that department, I guess. The next time we come into town we'll probably see more of everybody than everybody usually sees of each other.

Anyway, I didn't take many pictures of the event (I was too busy trying to talk to everyone), but I did eventually give the camera to Andrew and he took a few.

Here's Josie with Alexander. She was excited that he walked up to her and asked to be picked up (and then trailed her for the entire evening, begging her to play), but a little sad, too, because he would pick the day before we moved to be the day that he decided he liked Auntie Josie!

All set

Andrew and the big kids left the house at 7:30, arriving at the county health office at 7:45. There were already a good 30 families in line before them and the office wasn't due to open until 8:00.

It's noon and they just got home. But they survived and $135 later, we are now able to register our children for school.

When I look at form 3300, it looks like a fine idea to me. I think it's wonderful that they (the government of Georgia) want each child to meet a baseline of health (and to be referred to specialists if they don't). I thought that having the form filled out would be easy, until I realized that it had to be done by a Georgia-licensed professional. And therein lies the rub.

Such a mandate—along with the 30-day time limit—puts an undue burden on families (considering the mandate only affects families moving from out of state, who already have a plethora of other things to worry about, not the least of which is that insurance often takes awhile to kick in) and on healthcare professionals within the state (considering I was unable to book an appointment at a pediatrician's office within the 30-day limit and the multiple times the county health clinic told me they were, to put it lightly, swamped).

I don't propose eliminating the form (because, as I mentioned, I think it's a good idea to have a standard of health for children attending public schools (and for children, in general), though I feel that access such a thing (good health in the best of circumstances, and access to health care in the worst of circumstances) should be a right, not a privilege).

I do, however, think that they need to begin accepting out-of-state documentation (which really isn't that complicated to read, trust me (I'm no medical professional and yet I seem to be able to read medical files from multiple states (yea, verily, multiple countries) without too much difficulty (except for when they're in Arabic and then I admittedly struggle a little bit, but even when I presented Egyptian documents to Utah officials they were able to figure stuff out and North Carolina officials also seemed to think that was interesting and figured stuff out...just saying))).

Had I been able to have my previous pediatrician give my children a mark of good health on the paper, it would have eliminated a whole lot of struggle for our family and would have freed up time at the county health clinic for people who actually needed to be there.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sassafras assassin frass

There's a cabinet above our sink that I'm really not sure has been used for anything. It's...high. Like, really high. Unreachably high. But I figured it would be great for storing something seasonal like mugs or cake pans shaped like Christmas trees.

I climbed up on a stool so I could take a look inside. Some of our cupboards have been pretty clean inside while others have been downright nasty and I wanted to make sure this one was on the clean side before I started shoving stuff up there.

It didn't have the well-used look other cupboards had—with scratches from pots being dragged in and out, rounded-out edges from years of hands flicking the cabinet door open, crumb trails—in fact it looked fairly pristine...aside from a generous smattering of tiny poop pellets.

They didn't look like mouse droppings; they were far too small. I'm pretty good at identifying mouse droppings. Not, like, great, but, like, pretty good.

Mouse droppings are quite easy to recognize (especially after Trina told me that story about her sister thinking the mouse droppings in the Grape-Nuts were chocolate Grape-Nuts and that she was winning life because her bowl was sprinkled with chocolate Grape-Nuts). Mouse droppings look like chocolate Grape-Nuts.

These droppings were much smaller than Grape-Nuts.

So I stood there, on a stool in my kitchen, thinking about what kind of creature would leave behind stools such as these. Something small. Tiny, even.

And then it dawned on me that I had seen such remains before, in the upstairs bathroom (underneath a cellar spider's web), so I shined my flashlight up in the corner of the cabinet and found...a great, big cellar spider!

Even a great, big cellar spider is still a teeny, tiny creature—one that would leave behind teeny, tiny globs of frass, if, in fact, spiders even pooped. That was my next question: do spiders even poop?

They do!

I simply had never realized (or thought about) it, but I guess that makes sense because...Everyone Poops.

So I was explaining this over dinner the other night and Andrew exclaimed, "Is that what that is?! Because I've been finding similar droppings inside the electrical boxes as I've been changing out our sockets and was imagining...very small mice!"

Nope! Not very small mice (thank goodness), just great big spiders, leaving their frass wherever they please. Our discussion about arachnid frass led to some interesting dinner time conversation, culminating in Rachel telling this joke: What is a murderer with two butts called? An assassin.

And we just about died.

And Rachel started tooting while she was laughing (because she is a loosey-goosey when it comes to flatulence), so Miriam called her "sassafras."

And then we just kept going with sassy-frassy words until we could hardly breathe.

Sassafras, arachnid frass, assassin gas, fashion class! 

I'm annoyed: the story of Form 3300 and 3231

There is a medical form that I have to fill out within the next 21 days or my children will not be permitted to attend school. Unfortunately, our insurance doesn't kick in until August. So going to the doctor would be hundreds of dollars. We can't even just have our Utah clinic fill it out because it has to be filled out by a Georgia-licensed professional.

We had our records faxed to a new pediatrician's office here, but they don't have any openings for well-child visits until the end of September. They could squeeze me in on July 29th, but again...our insurance doesn't kick in until the beginning of August so that would cost us hundreds of dollars out of pocket.

I found another pediatrician who had openings on August 5 (which is the first day of school), but their receptionist called back to refer me to another pediatrician who sees children "as young" as mine. The odd thing is, I hadn't even told her about Alexander or Zoë. She was talking about Benjamin. And I'm not sure that their office should then advertise themselves as offering pediatric care because...hello.

Anyway, they don't want to see us. And Rachel wasn't too keen about missing the first day of school, anyway.

So I thought to myself, fine. Whatever. I can just have my dentist/school nurse/pediatrician fill this form out piecemeal. Fax it to the dentist...oh, wait. It has to be completed by a Georgia-licensed professional, so that won't work.

We can do it at the county health office, but they charge for every little thing they do. For example, it's $10 to transfer our immunization records from Utah letterhead to Georgia letterhead (per child). So that's $30 right there. Then it's $15 for a vision screening (per child), $15 for a dental screening (per child), but they said they will accept the letter I asked our dentist to write explaining that my children's teeth are healthy (because they would not accept evidence of routine check-ups as sufficient evidence of healthy teeth) so that means we don't have to do the dental exam. Oh, but it will cost $4 (per child) to have the nurse check a box on a form so all the work I did to get the dentist to fax the correct information to the correct fax number saved me a grand total of $6 per child.

They don't even say how much it will cost to do the general health and nutrition screening, but I'm assuming—probably incorrectly—that it will cost nothing because I had our pediatrician fax over our well-child checks.

And I'm just so annoyed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ants! Ants! Ants! Ants! Marching up and down again!

Ants are still invading our kitchen. They seem to really enjoy empty yogurt containers, the dregs of orange juice, and pancake batter and I have to wonder...did the previous owners never eat yogurt or drink orange juice or spill pancake batter and miss wiping up one little droplet? Or did they, too, have ants filing in and out of the windowsill at all hours of the day, hoping to find delectable droppings?

I honestly don't remember seeing any ants when we walked through the house. Nary a one.

And this family had dog and cat food just sitting out on their kitchen floor for the taking!

Surely ants like pet food!

Or perhaps they don't. Ants can be surprising sometimes.

This evening I was putting some green beans in the microwave and when I grabbed the lid for the dish I saw a few stray ants endlessly perambulating the circumference. I blew a couple off, flicked off another one, then shrugged and put the last few in the microwave along with the lid. Because surely they'd just be nuked in a flash, right?


I took the green beans out of the microwave and set them on the table and the ants, who'd seemed to have hunkered down for their merry-go-round ride in the microwave, got back up and started marching around the lid again.

We were all shocked. Apparently ants aren't microwavable.

We're planning on caulking around the window ledges (this helped in our Hummingbird Lane house) but I'm afraid we can only do that when we get a lull in traffic from that spot. It's ridiculously busy, but I suppose since Atlanta is infamous for its terrible traffic we shouldn't be too surprised by this. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Two shiny toilets

The toilet in the hall was leaking when we first toured the house, but "that's an easy fix" our realtor assured us. Besides, the inspector would probably add that to his list of problems (which he didn't), but the previous owners mentioned something about planning on fixing it (just as they had a shower knob that broke between our visits to the house) so we didn't think much of it until it still wasn't fixed when we did our final walk-through.

A leaky toilet isn't really a good reason to not buy a house, however, so we went ahead with the purchase. Plus they left the kit to fix the toilet innards in the bathroom cabinet for us, so clearly they had intended to fix the toilet but had simply run out of time.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

I spy with my little eye...

We lost our painter's tape the other day and after searching high and low for it we finally gave up and added it to our ever-growing list of things to pick up at the home improvement store. I finally found it when Andrew was already on his way home with another roll. It was sitting on our blue bean bag chair, perfectly camouflaged.

Alexander at...(checks calendar)...21 months

Amidst all the months-long chaos of moving somewhere new, Alexander has continued to grow up. Today I took him to nursery (and stayed with him the entire time, which was his first time staying for the duration of the hour) and another mother brought her little girl over and said, "Here. This little boy looks like he's about your age. Why don't you play with him?"

"How old is she?" I asked.

"Uhhhh...let's see...ummmm..."

"Same," I said. "He was born in October."

"Okay. She was born in November. So they're close."

It's getting tricky remembering how old he is in months, which is a sure sign it's time to start measuring his age in years, which means he's getting altogether too old.

He did okay at nursery today, even playing on his own a little bit, if only he could reach over and pat my foot and say, "Mommy!" whenever he needed to. Eventually I was able to move a few feet away ("Mommy—'tay!" he commanded me to stay) and finally made it all the way across the room where I sat in a chair and reassured him every time he looked up in a panic and squeaked, "Mommy?" that I was still there.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Gone paintin'

It was my idea—painting the basement.

I spent most of my childhood years in basement bedrooms, as far as I recall (though there were a few golden years on upper floors), and I couldn't stomach the thought of putting my sweet girls down in the dark and dingy basement. At least not as it stood.

As it stood, it was covered in garish purple and pink polka-dotted carpet, walls smeared with turquoise and grey paint (which under other circumstances might have produced a whimsical cloud effect, but which under our particular circumstances looked like a Pinterest Fail), dark brown trim, and various ceiling tiles dripping with spiders.

Oh, the spiders.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Bug filters, hot bubbles, and so forth

We went on a family walk this evening, trying to find a new "loop" (but the "loop" we found was a full mile (and then some), which was a little long for some of our smaller walkers, whereas our old loop was only a half-mile and just about the right distance for a quick post-dinner, pre-bedtime stroll, so we'll have to try something different). We've gone on a number of family walks since moving in and every time we do we can't help but imagine how moving into any given house would be.

"Oh! That driveway is even worse than ours! So steep! So long! I would hate to move in there!"

"That house looks doable."

"Oh, but look how many stairs are leading to the front door!"

"You're right! Never mind. That looks dreadful!"

We're definitely not even shopping for houses anymore, but we can't help doing a little window shopping as we peruse our neighbourhood.

"Why does that balcony have a railing on it?" Rachel asked about one house. "There isn't even a door leading out to it. I guess they could climb out the window, as long as the window doesn't have one of those things. What is it? Do they even have them in the south? I haven't seen any. That's weird because there are so many bugs here. What are they called? ... A bug filter!"