Friday, June 29, 2012


Where do I start? I should probably start by saying this up front: I AM NOT OPPOSED TO YOU BEING ABLE TO AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE. I'm not. In fact, I'm happy for the people that this turns out to be the answer to their health insurance prayers. I want my friends to have what they need. Heck, I want the homeless guy on the corner to have what he needs. I'm not a hateful, harsh person here.

You know what else I want? A CHOICE. I want some stinking INTEGRITY in this whole mess. I want them to call a spade a spade or in this case to call a penalty a penalty. For heaven's sake just because you called it a tax doesn't make it one. Get real and don't treat the American people like imbeciles. It's a penalty, folks. It's a punitive act against people who opt out of health care coverage. Period. End of discussion.

Now, I'll grant you, I don't know why anyone would opt out of health insurance if they can afford it. Obviously this new law is supposed to make that happen. Make it affordable, that is. I am still not buying that it will be. (Pun not intended.) Currently, the feds have set the poverty level for a family of 4 at $23,050 annually. 138% of that is $31,809. Obviously a lot more people will qualify for Medicaid when that happens...unless your state decides it doesn't want to play ball. They can decide that by the way. If they feel the amount of money the federal government is offering in subsidies isn't enough to off set the increased costs due to the increased numbers of people served, they can say "No thanks" and promptly end your opportunity to apply. So the increased eligibility will vary from state to state. In a state like Michigan, I'm thinking that's not completely unlikely. We have a TON of people that will probably fall within the new guidelines. Think about that for a minute. The state would have to make up the difference in what the feds don't subsidize and that means, yep, higher taxes in a state where we already struggle to keep our noses above water. That can also deter new businesses and new residents from coming to our state. You may think I'm exaggerating, but it's a real possibility. Not to mention that if you make $31,810 you're outta luck. So it's really not a benefit to those families anyway. Again, I'm not saying these folks shouldn't have insurance, I'm saying this set up sucks.

You can go to and look up quotes for insurance rates. If you're single, around 30 years old, have no preexisting conditions and don't mind big deductibles and high out of pocket limits you can get a policy for around $90.00/mo. Keep in mind, even with the new guidelines, at $15,415 annually you no longer qualify for Medicaid. So if you can afford to do it, pay the $1080.00 per year for your newly mandatory insurance. Remember, that's $15,415 GROSS. So your net will be less, and unless you're living in your mom's basement your rent will be at a minimum $400.00 month if you can find a place that cheap that you aren't afraid to live in. So that's $4800 a year. So let's just say you don't pay any taxes at all, with just your rent and mandatory health care coverage you're left with a whopping $9535 for anything else you need this year. That's about $795 a month. Yeah, I'm thinking that's not going to work. So, you pay the penalty instead because 1% of your gross income is way less than that insurance policy. So you're only out $154.15 but you still don't have health insurance. (And it's a TAX not a PENALTY but somehow you're probably feeling screwed right about now.) Hope you weren't sick at all because even though you paid out of pocket for medical services this year, you still get fined - uhhh, I mean taxed.

Seriously now, was anybody really believing that this is an actual TAX? I didn't know we could be taxed on what we DON'T HAVE and DIDN'T BUY! Next I'll be getting taxed on that house I don't own, the car I don't drive, the food I didn't eat... Please. Is anybody really thinking there is any integrity at all in this game of semantics?? If I call a squirrel a cow, does it become one?

Let's not even get started on the fact that if you already have insurance through your employer, and that insurance policy was initiated by the company prior to March of 2010, that policy is grandfathered in and doesn't even have to adjust to the parts of the law that may actually BENEFIT people currently being insured. See here: And, no, it doesn't matter that you started paying for the plan after that date, as long as the comany you work for initiated the plan prior to that date. So, all my U of M buddies and I can opt to keep our grandfathered in policy with the U, or pay out of pocket for Obamacare. Let me tell you I have part time status with a higher premium rate than my full time coworkers and in searching the Healthcare website I can't even come close to the coverage I get now for the money I pay now with the plans offered. The ones I can afford have deductibles, I currently do not. The ones with no deductibles, I can't afford. If I could afford a $12,000 deductible I wouldn't need health insurance.

So let me say again: I do not begrudge a single person in this country the opportunity to purchase affordable health care coverage. I really hope this works out for you if you don't have coverage right now. Sincerely, I do. I just don't see how it will. What's worse is that it's the law now. You are out of options. Buy the insurance or pay the "tax" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) for the thing you don't own.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

If you don't have anything nice to say...

I have a friend at church. I've always liked her, she's been nice to me. One time I "confessed" one of my struggles, one of my imperfections to her and she just shrugged it off. She's never even brought it up again. It simply doesn't matter to her. I wouldn't call this particular "confession" a huge deal accept that I've been on the wrong end of harsh judgement on it more than once. Another time I actually SWORE in front of her. She didn't even blink. I about dropped dead from embarassment, but she just handled it with grace. When I whine about my current neck injury she never says "Well if you just had faith..." Nope. She pretty much nods her head and says yeah, you know what? That does suck. She's a friend, she loves me right where I'm at with all my quirks and imperfections and *gasp* struggles with sin. Huh. Just imagine that, a human being who CLAIMS TO BE A CHRISTIAN struggles with sin??? Well kids, I'm just trying to be real here.

My sin is no worse and no better than yours. It's all rebellion in the eyes of God. Some of the stuff we judge each other on isn't even SIN. It's just the same old middle school bullies all grown up still screaming "You're ugly. You're not as good as me. You're dumb. I'm cooler than you." Except now we're a little more covert about it. Now we gossip in the name of God. We wound each other on Facebook and we tweet a bunch of cryptic crap with full knowledge that we will get asked what we mean, then we get to play self-righteous martyr and respond with "I don't want to mention names..." or "I'm going to be the bigger person and just drop it..." We put this stuff out there knowing all the other malicious back-biters and gossips won't be able to resist asking for more info and giving us all that yummy attention we crave, knowing that the target of our poisioned barbs will see our hateful words and know with out a doubt they are under attack and defenseless because if they DARE to defend themselves they will also have outed themselves to the hundreds of faceless judges reading our filthy hateful garbage.

I have very few "friends" at church. I'll admit, I'm afraid of you my "sisters". I do have a few treasured souls I call friend. They are beautiful. They are flawed. They *gasp* struggle with sin, and emotional issues, and life. But they love. They love because they have not forgotten what Jesus forgave in them. They love because they remember the love God showed them in their darkest hour. They are kind. They are authentic. They are merciful.

My friend from the first part of this post was recently a victim of the catty christians and the born-again bullies that the unsaved world often credits with their distaste and distance from all things church and all things God. It breaks my heart. I think it breaks God's heart too.

Yep. I'm afraid to let you see the real me. I'm afraid to share my scars with you. I will never invite you to my home because I don't think it will meet your standards. Shoot, it doesn't even meet mine. I will never come to your "home party" because I can't afford to buy what they're selling. I will never tell you about my pain or my shame or my struggles because you will tell others. Or post it on Facebook. Or tweet it.

My mother always used to say "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I wish everybody would heed the words of my mom. There would certainly be less broken hearts in the church and more butts in the pews if we just did that much.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Summer Store of AWESOMENESS opens June 12!

My family has ADHD. Seriously, all of us. Ok, not my husband and potentially my oldest child. I think she may just have 17 years of her mom's ADD-ness to combat. In other words I think she learned it and doesn't really have it. Anyway, the rest of us... um, yeah. So school isn't fun for us. There's all that reading and number crap they want us to do. We aren't diggin' it. At all. Especially the number crap.

So last year I flatly refused to send any of my kids to summer school. (That decision was not well recieved by school officials. I think I earned some big time "bad mommy" points on that.) Seriously though, WHY would I want to do that? We wait all year for summer break and they want to torture us with that stuff? Ok, ok I know a lot of kids benefit from it but mine don't. It's just another heart ache, another head ache, another something-or-other that doesn't really work for them. They already go for 9 months out of the year, why prolong the torture? Honestly, if traditional school worked well for my kids they wouldn't need stinkin' summer school, right?

I digress. Let's get back to the topic at hand: The Summer Store of AWESOMENESS!! (SSoA) This is my answer to summer school. My kids loved it last year and in fact, asked me multiple times over the past year if we could have the SSoA. I said "No. It's October (December, January, March...)  It's not summer." It has kept the excitement building around here. It's almost summer and today we started brainstorming about it.

What is this Summer Store of AWESOMENESS you ask? It is a fun creative way to get the kids thinking over summer and hopefully reduce summer learning loss without the trauma of summer school. Here's the basic outline: we set up a selection of math or language arts related activities and assign them a dollar value. The more "scholastic" the activity the more money you earn. Our money is called "Brain Bucks". (That helps us remember we can't just earn them for any old thing, it has to be beneficial to our brains.)

So the kids earn the brain bucks and I have a small but AWESOME store set up where they can spend the brain bucks on anything from picnics to Pez dispensers, from music downloads to make-up. I put trips to museums, tank tops, baseball cards, funky socks, cool pencils, whatever I find. Now I'm not made of money so I shop a lot of dollar store/discount store/clearance aisle type venues. Sometimes yard sales bring a particularly good find. I look for anything the kids might want that will motivate them. Friday is shopping day, and although they can look and plan all week, no items are "sold" before Friday.

The kids earn bucks by reading books, estimating totals on grocery trips, cooking (from recipes), writing about stuff we do over the summer, playing games (we're particularly fond of Farkle and Hangman) reading poems out loud to me... what ever we can think of that the kids will actually do. Some activities are totally simple, like Hangman. Some are more challenging. I like to give them some really easy fun things because it helps them stay motivated and gives them a small reward come Friday.

It's hard to earn brain bucks. There are limits on how many 4 line poems you can crank out on a Thursday night before you don't get paid. If you memorize the poem you earn more. If it's more that 8 lines you earn more. You can earn a couple of bucks on a Farkle game, but flash cards are worth much more. Also everything in the "store" is priced according to desirability. A 99 cent eyeliner is far more in demand around here than a 5 dollar bead kit so the prices in my store flip. I also put math problems on the packages that the kids have to figure out to know the price of the item. I get to be totally obnoxious about my store and I love it! Whether they admit it or not, the kids love it too.

Last summer there was a certain amount of competition between the kids about who can earn the most brain bucks by Friday. They battled it out for who would get that one really cool 'whatever-it-was'. They challenged each other to do better, they played games together, they spent "down time" figuring out what brain buck activity they wanted to do next. It was fun and I think it worked out well, I think it acheived the desired results.

So this year I'm looking for new ideas. I'll take whatever I can get that I think will work, that the kids will actually do. I'm thinking of summer blogs and goofy graphing projects (How many times does Mom say "dude" in a day? In a week? Is there a time of day she says it more? Is there a specific kid she says it to more often? How many minutes late is Cayla on average date with Dylan? How long is the average date? Whatever silly thing we can graph data about). I'm starting a reading group for my youngest with her friend. I'll be reading a lot of middle school girl books this summer I think. :) Please, if you read this, give me your thoughts. You can suggest a game a reward, and activity, whatever.

Summer break is just around the corner and I'm so excited for the Summer Store of AWESOMENESS! I hope it's as successful as last year.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Can you rate your pain from 0 - 10 please?

What is pain? In nursing school we are taught that pain is subjective. Pain is what the patient says it is. There is no "pain-o-meter" so we cannot objectively measure pain. So why do so many health care workers claim to know if a person is really in pain or not?

If you're not familiar with pain scales here is one to give you an example of what I'm talking about. I find the faces helpful because the numbers are completely arbitrary to me.

Recently, unfortunately, I have been dealing with my own episode of unrelelnting pain. Actually I think it's improving, but it's sporadic and unpredictable. Some days are really good, my pain hangs out around a 1 or 2. but it can easily and without warning spike to a 5 or 6. The main medication I'm taking (gabapentin) does nothing for immediate pain relief. When I called the doctors office about getting a prescription for something short acting for this kind of pain I was reluctantly given a prescription for a low-dose hydrocodone and told to "Use it sparingly. This is not a long term fix." I was also "cautioned" about narcotic dependancy, and over use.

Uhhh... hello? My pain is a freakin' 8!

At that point I'd been off work 4 weeks and was consistently rating my pain a 4-6 and NOTHING had been prescribed. At about this time (2 or 3 days before) they gave me a prescription for gabpentin which has to build up in your system and be titrated for a while to be effective. In other words it provided no relief. I toughed it out with ibuprophen and acetaminophen until I just couldn't take it. When my pain was in the 7-8 range for about 48 hours I called, crying. I felt like a drug seeking junkie after talking to the nurse.

It is now about 7 weeks in. My pain is really improving, however as I said, there are times when it just gets bad for no discernible reason. I have 4 1/2 our of 30 hydrocodon left. I'm thinking about calling for a refill just in case I need it. I'm really uncomfortable about it though.

As a nursing student I understand the problem of addiction. I understand there are people who are, what we call, "drug-seekers". I understand that doctors just can't prescribe any ol' thing we want when ever we want it, but the additude of some health care professionals really stinks around this subject.

What I'm going to try to take away from this is that pain really is what people say it is. Nerve pain is insidious and unpredictable. While I can't prescribe medication I can advocate for patients for more effective medications, for alternative therapies, and for attention from the doctors I work with to patients with unrelieved pain. I can be sympathetic and compassionate. I can refrain from snide comments to co-workers, I can check my additude, I can use some discernment and common sense, and hopefully I will be a blessing and a help to someone who is really hurting.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hunger Games - Don't like it? Don't read it.

So a friend of mine just posted an article about parents complaining to the ALA about the "Hunger Games" book series. Some of the complaints are that the books are  "anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence." (The Hunger Games Ignites the ALA's list of most challenged books) I get the violence part, but the rest sort of boggles my mind.

I love to read. I always have. I encourage my children to read. That's not always easy. Two of my kids have difficulty with reading and one has problems with comprehension. Reading isn't always fun for those two. However, both have read, or are reading, (or at least TRYING to read) the Hunger Games. It thrills me to no end. I have read the Hunger Games myself (I've also read all of the Twighlight books, and the Percy Jackson series). I really enjoyed it. I blew through all 3 books in about 4 1/2 days. I love the whole dystopian society genre. Why? It gives me something to be thankful about for one thing. It makes me think about the world we live in for another. And that's the key right there. It makes me think. I want my children to think. I want them to question the world and not accept blindly whatever crap society shoves down their throats. My kids read YA literature and they read their Bibles. They ask questions about both secular and spiritual concepts. I do my best to answer them honestly. I give them my opinions on what they read. I listen to theirs in return. I discuss my moral and personal standing on what I deem "objectionable". I read their books. I listen to their music. I watch their tv shows.

I wonder how many of these parents who are so up in arms about these books have actually read them? I wonder if these parents are as careful about what their children watch on television? What they hear on the radio? I take more offense, and find more objectionable content in Spongebob Squarepants than in these books. (Spongebob is a moron, people. He encourages your children to be morons too, in my opinion.) The Hunger games are sexually explicit? Are you kidding me? There's more sex on Glee in one 10 minute segment than in the entire trilogy of the Hunger Games combined. Satanic? Really? Where is that coming from? I will grant you this is not a pro-christian ethic series of books, but it isn't anti-christian either. I suppose, if you stretch it a bit you could look at the "sacrificing" of 2 children from each district every year as satanic in nature, however the premise is political, not spiritual. I truly believe parents who want to ban books are operating out of sheer ignorance and fear. This is the United States, right? Freedom of speech and all that still applies in this country... at least for the moment. At least until people stop thinking for themselves, start banning books, start eating up every tidbit of crap Hollywood and Washington D.C. feed them... oh wait, that's already happening.

I just don't get why we feel the need to ban books at all. If you object to the content, don't read it. If you object to your children reading it, then say so. Talk with them for crying out loud. Explain your rationale (if in fact you have one) and shoot, you're the parent, you don't even have to explain if you don't want to! (Although, I don't recommend that method of parenting for this kind of situation. Just my thoughts here...) This leads me right into another can of worms, parents don't talk with their kids. We talk AT them. We talk near them, we talk about them...

Look, I don't want someone to tell me what my kids cannot read. That's my job. I don't want someone to hinder a child, any child, from reading by taking away options across the board. It's just flat not your call outside of your own home. Who are you to say what is good for someone else's family? I believe that God gave us all a free will, and it's not my place to take yours away from you, so don't take mine, or my childrens. It's not a huge request.

Friday, March 30, 2012

My Current Favorite Christian Artist - Meet Propaganda

This guy. I love what he says, I love how he says it. This is where poetry gets flat out cool. There is so much talent here. Words, rhythm, the refreshing view and creative expression of faith is so moving to me. When you watch him I think you'll be impressed with his talent regardless of your personal belief in the content of the message.

New item on my bucket list: See this guy live.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Apparently Not.

Michigan militia head, son plead guilty to gun charge

So this news article in and of itself, I could take or leave. It's a decent enough account presenting quotes and opinions from both sides of this trial. It doesn't seem particularly biased in one direction or another. Right now, everybody has an opinion about who is right or wrong, what they would have done differently, blah, blah, blah. That's not what bothers me in this article. What bothers me is that in a federal court these men were cleared of all charges of seditious conspiracy, they were cleared of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, they were cleared of all charges except for a couple of illegal firearms charges on only 2 of the defendants.

Here's the quote that is getting to me:

"Militia members are finding that resuming their lives isn't easy. Despite his acquittal, Michael Meeks of Manchester, Mich., said he can't open a bank account yet because the bank told him he's still on a terror watch list. Told of the troubles, McQuade didn't seem moved. 
"It's the consequences of their actions," the prosecutor told the AP"

Their actions? Their ACTIONS?? According to a federal court of law their actions were LEGAL. According to a well respected federal judge these men were being tried on circumstantial evidence. Their actions? A judge threw the case out because they couldn't PROVE any actions. None that were illegal anyway (with the aforementioned exception of 2 defendants having illegal firearms). Now I'm not defending anyone's statements, I'm not saying all of these guys are squeaky clean boy scouts who love everything about the good ol' U.S. of A. I'm saying they were cleared of these "terrorist" charges because of lack of evidence. In spite of this they are going to be on a terror watch list. They are going to be watched by government agencies for any suspicious activity for God knows how long. They can't even get a bank account now. Their homes have been vandalized. (Hutaree leader FBI's actions validates distrust by patriots last lines) And this woman, a person who has based her career on the law says, in essence, they deserve it? "It's the consequences of their actions"? Ummm... I thought your very own court system just cleared them of any illegal actions? So it must be the action of exercising free (if controversial) speech?

I think the thing that shocks me most is my own naivety. Somewhere in my heart, I still believe/d in the United States. I really believe/d that we were innocent until proven guilty. I did not know we were guilty even when proven innocent. People, when a U.S. attorney general can make a statement like that, and even a portion of the population backs her, we're all in trouble.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

First Amendment

So I am following the Hutaree trial. It started out because I have a friend from high school who is a defendant in the case. It's become something bigger. It's become a case of national importance, only not in the way you might think. The more I see of this trial, the more I see basic constitutional freedoms being violated.

The First Amendment to the constitution reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Look at it. It says plainly that congress shall make no law that abridges the freedom of speech. But these guys are on trial for TALKING. For expressing their opinions, no matter the content, about our government. For talking about what they would do if "the war" starts. There was no plan, no preparations to initiate war on our government. It was talk, plain and simple.

(Abridgement is defined as: 
1. to shorten by omissions while retaining the basic contents: to abridge a reference book. 
2. to reduce or lessen in duration, scope, authority, etc.; diminish; curtail: to abridge a visit; to abridge one's freedom. 
3. to deprive; cut off.)

It says Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. These guys are on trial because they (well some of them) are Christians. The Bible plainly speaks of a time that will come when government will inflict an establishment of religion, and that those who oppose it will be imprisoned, tortured even. They will be unable to buy or sell for their basic needs. It says to be ready. And when it happens, the government, and the "police" will be the enemy. Whether or not you agree with the theology here, they (mostly the Stone family) believe this is coming. It could be now, it could be a generation from now, no one knows for sure the time, but it is coming. They are on trial for an expression of faith. Preparing for what God says is to come.

It says Congress shall make no law restricting peaceable assembly. These guys are on trial for assembling peaceably. Now I get, that it can be hard to emotionally justify the word peaceable, with the phrases "weapons training" and "military maneuvers", but the fact remains, no one was hurt or killed at these meetings. No one was forcibly held against their will. No one was coerced by force, or threat of force, to attend or participate. It was peaceable.

(Peaceable is defined as:
inclined or disposed to avoid strife or dissention; not argumentative or hostile: a peaceable person; a peaceable disposition)
And that's just the First Amendment! At some point I will take a deeper look at the Second Amendment (the right to assemble militias), the Fourth Amendment (the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures), and the Sixth Amendment (in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial). The grey area in which the prosecution and the judicial system is treading is astounding.
This trial is about far more than it appears. It is wielding the potential to impinge further on our already increasingly limited freedoms. It's definitely something to think about.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


So, I've been reading my brother's blog. ( You can find it here: ) A lot. I've been thinking about the things he says and the veiwpoint he takes. I've been forced to examine my own complacency in life. I'm REALLY comfortable being a 40-something mom, student, christian, lower-middle class woman. We don't have a lot. We don't need a lot. But we have enough. We go to church freely and without fear. We eat well, maybe a little too well, we don't have to scramble to find enough to eat. We don't have to make a choice between food for the kids and paying the electric bill. My husband is good to me, to our kids, he provides for us and comes home every night to us. We're all clothed. We're all getting a decent education. No one is telling us we can't achieve whatever we set out to achieve. We are living, for the most part, the American dream. I am blessed, and my life is good. It's not always easy, or fun, but it is always good. I've grown fat and complacent in my blessings. I've been content to "go with the flow" wherever it leads.

Just recently though, I'm a bit disturbed by where that flow is heading. I'm a bit disgusted with myself for being so content to turning a blind eye to the gradual and subtle loss of freedoms we are experiencing as a nation, because, after all, they haven't REALLY affected my little corner of the dream. At least not yet. I think that's normal. I think it's what the majority of us do. (Why get uptight about having your phone tapped if you're not saying anything wrong? I'm not worried about that, I'm a law abiding citizen after all.) Well, maybe because it's a violation of our freedom of speech. Maybe, under the pretense of the greater good, we're sacrificing tiny little crumbs of freedom that left unchecked will end up being the whole cake one day. Maybe under the cloud of fear over this country, we're willing to give a little too much, a little too easily, if we can just stay in our bubbles and be left alone. Yep. I think that's a normal response. But is it wise? I really don't know, but it is something to think about.