Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Other Stuff I Do--MOPS

As we have gotten back into routine after all of the Christmas and holiday hullabaloo, I realize that I rarely talk about the other stuff that I do OTHER than being a mom.  I thought I would make a few posts about the other things that I am involved in.  Right now I am in MOPS at our church, sing in the group Alive, workout in Body and Soul, and volunteer in various roles at our church.  So, my next few posts are just going to be explaining the other things I am involved in that you may not already know :-)  Today,  I am going to tell you about the fabulousness of MOPS :-)

I have heard all about MOPS when I was pregnant from my sisters.  They had told me it was the greatest ever and that once I had Belle I NEEDED to find one.  During this time, Paul and I were between churches.  We were searching for our church home, and started attending Cornerstone Church.  At that time it was right next door to our neighborhood, and we could actually walk there! 
I can honestly say that MOPS is what sealed the deal for me on attending Cornerstone Church.  Paul was certain he wanted to go to the church, but I still wasn't quite sold on it.  MOPS made me feel connected and allowed me to get to know many of the other women in my church. 

We had probably been going a couple of months when I was approached by Cheryle.  Cheryle was the MOPS Coordinator at the time.  I was probably a few weeks out from my due date.  She introduced herself and encouraged me to consider joining MOPS.  I knew that MOPS was supposed to be all sorts of amazing per my sisters, but I wasn't sure about joining a group where I didn't know a single person.  Eventually, I contacted Cheryle and took the plunge.

I always laugh because my first ever MOPS meeting I was HUGE pregnant and overdue.  My second ever MOPS meeting I brought Belle with me and she was just over a week old.  It was the first place I ever brought Belle to on my own, and I was SO nervous.  I look back now and realize I had no clue that MOPS was actually the IDEAL place to go to my first time out with Belle on my own. 

So, what is MOPS?  Many groups might do it differently, so this is my experience with MOPS at Cornerstone Church.  Our MOPS group meets every other Monday for a couple of hours in the morning.  We have amazing people who watch our children, while all of us women eat breakfast (and it is always delicious), talk, play games, listen to speakers, and share life.  It gives us the opportunity to socialize with other women going through the same stage of life.  Other than meeting every other week, we have table play dates, we do group outings, we have Mom Nights Out, and stay connected via Facebook.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have leaned on the support and advice of my fellow MOPS women. Just recently I received at text while at a MOPS meeting about my nephew, Kahsay, and some serious health issues he faced.  At the end of each meeting we get in a circle and pray.  I cried as I lifted him up.  I could hear the other women begin to sniffle.  I had women put their hands on me, and when the prayer was done I was given hugs and the promise of so many more prayers.  In the weeks after those same women would ask me how he was and how my sister and her family were doing.  The women in my MOPS group hurt for my family when they saw me hurt, and they all rejoiced when I was able to share good news with him when things were looking good for Kahsay. 

I think there is something powerful that happens when women get together.  I find that in our group we are able to open up, let down our walls, and see each other in the same way we want to be seen.  We are all raising children and hoping we don't screw up!  We are all trying to live up to the all new perfect "Pinterest Woman" who has it all together.  In actuality we head to meetings with laundry on the floor, jelly in our kid's hair, and feeling rather surprised our hair looks halfway decent for not washing it in two days. 

MOPS has become my support group in more ways than one.  It is an opportunity for me to get out of the house and socialize with adults more than just on Facebook.  It is the place I know I can go to with all of my junk and find women who won't judge me, but nod their head in understanding because they remember when they were dealing with something similar.  It is also something that has given me some purpose that is outside of my home, which I think can be very important for many SAHMs.  I am part of our MOPS leadership team and I am putting my social work degree to work by helping plan our service and outreach.

If you aren't in a MOPS group, I HIGHLY encourage you to find one.  I'd LOVE to invite you to ours at Cornerstone, but we currently have a waiting list and need to find more workers to help with childcare so we can bring in more moms.  I hate that we have to tell women "no" because we don't have enough volunteers to support more growth in this ministry.  If you have a desire to spend time with children a couple of times a week we can totally use you.  It would allow so many more women the opportunity to have the experiences that I mention above.

To all the women in my MOPS group, thank you to each an every one of you!  You are my support group, my friends, and often my sanity!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Things to Remember

I just wanted to make sure I documented what the girls are doing right now, which is the purpose of this post.  Belle is all sorts of 3 years old, and Evie is giving us all a run for our money at 14 months.

Right now Belle is still working on the whole potty training bit.  Frankly, I am over it.  She could care less about sitting in wet pants all day.  I thought we had tried it all, but little did we know the power of Disney Princess Polly Pockets.  We have had three days dry, and she actually has something worth staying dry for.  I am not getting my hopes up, but it is major progress compared to the past couple of months!

Belle is still loving preschool.  She is one of the youngest in her class, so I try not to compare her too much.  I am working really hard with her at writing her name.  She can recognize her name, and she is really good at writing a B.  The lower case e tends to be tough for her and she gives up rather easy when I try to make her practice.  It will come :-)

Currently, Belle is still into anything crafty.  She loves nothing more than to paint pictures, draw on our windows, and color.  She LOVES doing mazes, and is actually really good at them!  When she isn't crafting, she singing or dancing.  Someone get this girl a stage!  Takes after her mother a bit :-)

Evie.  Oh, Evie.  Lately, it seems her new name is "Stink."  Short for "Stinker."  Evie is into everything, yet so much fun.  Right now these are her newest "tricks:"

  1. She dances when you ask her to.  This involves stomping her feet and flapping her arms
  2. She will gladly put her hands together when you say "clap, clap, clap!"
  3. She melts hearts with all of the kisses she blows
  4. She throws her arms up when you say "Sooooo big!!!"
  5. She loves to do something naughty and look at me while shaking her finger and saying "No No!"
  6. She is really good at grabbing a book off the shelf and handing it to me, all while backing herself up to sit on my lap.  Melt.  
  7. If you ask her what a cow says she buzzes her mouth together like an elephant.  I can't decide if I want her to learn that a cow actually says "moo" or not :-)
  8. She loves to mimic me when I say "aaaaachooo!" and pretends to actually sneeze.
  9. She will wave anytime she sees someone new or thinks we are leaving.  If I am lucky she will say "buh-bye!"
  10. I am so thankful I got a little snuggler.  Belle was never much of a snuggler, but Evie so easily lays her head onto my chest and cozies right on up.  
Evie is also REALLY good at pulling hair (sorry, Rory!) and loves to lay down in the tub and flip around, which means her entire face goes under water.  She comes up smiling and it makes Belle laugh hysterically!

I love the stage my girls are at.  Evie is busy, but it is so much fun to see how much she is learning.  Belle is my little buddy and we play dolls and color more than I ever imagined.  Sure, there are days I lose my cool and want to pull my hair out, but when I head to bed each night I am so thankful for the sweet girls I am blessed to mother.  I kind of love that neither of them are sweet little perfect angels, because there is just something about a naughty little stinker that makes me smile and cringe all at the same time.  

Each day I am thankful for my girls and being able to watch them grow up.  They make me crazy most days, but that's motherhood right? :-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Big Health Insurance Drama of 2012

Hmmm, little did we know how much we were about to spend on this hospital stay....

I know that many people write about what 2012 looked like for them and what their hopes and plans are for 2013.  I was going to do that, but in all honesty, the one topic that kept coming up over and over again for Paul and I was health insurance.

Many of you have seen posts of mine on Facebook about Evie not having health insurance.  It was definitely one LONG year of praying and stressing about her health and counting down the months, weeks, days, and hours until January 1, 2013.   I have been waiting to blog about this until all was well and taken care of, so without further ado....our big Health Insurance Drama of 2012.

Evie was born November 11, 2011.  All was good.  I had an emergency c-section, but other than that, things were no big deal.  In January I brought Evie in for her 2 month check up only for them to inform me that she was not in their system.  Rather shocked, we did some calling around, and realized Paul and I completely missed enrolling her in our group plan.  By all means, feel free to call us idiots.  We know.  We could not believe that we let this slip our minds.  We figured we would get it all worked out and it would be no big deal.  HA!

You dummies!
Over the next couple of weeks it was made very clear to us that since we missed our 30 day enrollment period to add her, we could not add her until the next enrollment period that wouldn't become effective until January 1st, 2013.  The only way we could make a change is if Paul was fired and rehired, we had another child (HA!), or we divorced and remarried.  Not going to lie--we actually entertained the idea of getting divorced and remarried in order to add her.

During this time I was an anxious mess. I felt like an awful mother.  I felt so guilty.  Thankfully, Paul and I never went after each other during this time with the blame game.  Neither of us pointed fingers, but instead we took it one step at a time and worked together to figure out a solution.  We finally accepted that Evie was not going to be able to be added onto our group plan, so the next step was figuring out how to find her insurance elsewhere.

We first looked into getting her on her own individual plan, but it turns out that if you are under the age of 18 you cannot do this.  Therefore, I was going to leave our group plan to get onto my own insurance and add Evie under me.  Easy, right?  Nope.  I was denied by one insurance company because they said they could only offer insurance to me if they were a last resort, and since I would be voluntarily leaving my group plan they could not be considered a last resort.  We tried to explain that they were our last resort for getting insurance for our infant, but that did not change their decision.

I was denied from two other insurance companies due to my health history.  The items they listed were the facts that I had a c-section, I suffered from migraines, and I had a history of bladder infections (this issue only arises after I give birth).  In general, I am a very healthy person, so I was shocked that I was denied health insurance because of these items.  Paul and I began to wonder how anyone gets insurance without a group plan!

I should add that I did call the state of Michigan to look into MiChild.  Unfortunately, and fortunately really, we did not qualify for this based off of our income.  I asked them if they had any other suggestions and they could not give us much.  They gave me information about another company I could look at that offered insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.  I looked into it, but my "conditions" weren't severe enough, AND I have to be without 6 months before I can even began to be insured through them.

So, here we sat.  Evie could not be added to our group plan, but could not be on her own individual plan.  I could not get insurance outside of the group plan in order to add her to mine, and MiChild wasn't going to work either.  All in all, we were willing to pay out of pocket to make sure our daughter had health insurance and we still hit dead ends.

We began to call our congressmen and send emails and letters.  We called the Insurance Commissioner of Michigan.  We tried to advocate for SOMETHING for ANYTHING.  We did find that they tried to help us, but even they were running into dead ends and road blocks.

During this time we had to start figuring out how and where we would be getting her well-child visits and immunizations.  For one, we had a hefty hospital bill to pay off for her.  In case you were wondering---those basinets that are in the rooms are $1000 a day.  Just saying.

We are part of Grand Valley Health Plan and they worked great with us on trying to figure out how to get Evie some coverage.  They have something called PrimeCare, which allows us to pay for 4 visits at a time at a discounted rate.  We had to do this twice during the year, but it was well worth it, and gave me a huge sense of peace.  We went through all 8 of our visits between well-child appointments and basic appointments for when Evie became sick.  As far as immunizations, I went to the Health Department, and because we had zero insurance for her I only had to pay the minimum amount for each injection.  Nonetheless, this was still very expensive.

Thankfully, Evie never had anything serious happen to her.  I definitely thought twice before putting her into any nursery, and once she started moving I felt like a helicopter parent because I was so scared of her falling and needing stitches or getting a concussion.  Anyone that knows me knows that I don't tend to get overly worried about these things, but this year was an entirely different perspective.  My mind also went to the awful thought of her having cancer or some other terrible disease.  Not likely, but still was something I thought about.  The fear of Evie getting sick or hurt and not being able to give her proper health care was petrifying to me.  Thankfully, my MAJOR anxiety was in those first few months, and then I was able to relax a bit and focused on praying nothing awful would happen to her.

I know this was our fault and we were so stupid to miss enrolling Evie, however, I am still really disappointed that we weren't left with any options for her.  This was definitely a costly mistake for us, but I fear how much more costly it could have been if Evie needed a hospitalization or major testing.  Money should not be an issue when it comes to health care for your child, but I learned this year that it definitely is thought about when you don't have insurance.

So, all in all, the biggest lesson we learned and want others to learn from us is NOT TO MISS THE 30 DAY ENROLLMENT period.  Paul and I have made it very clear that when we have our next child we are going to be trying to fill out the enrollment form in the hospital!

This year we were happy to ring in the new year with great friends, but even more so, when that ball dropped Paul and I gave each other a kiss and we both breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.  This was one new year that we had been anticipating for a very long time.  We had made it.

Happy New Year from the Thompson family, especially this little healthy cutie!!

(Kate Krueger Photography)