Waldorf preschool, here we come!

A little over a week ago, I wrote about our (then) upcoming two-hour preschool interview to find out if a home-based Waldorf-inspired preschool was a good fit for Ava and if Ava was a good fit for the preschool. It turns out the interview wasn’t nearly as daunting as I thought it would be. It mostly amounted to Jody and me talking about what a great kid Ava is (because she really is a great kid on most days – Saturday was not one of those days, but that’s neither here nor there).

We talked about my pregnancy with Ava, her birth, her early years (wait, she’s 3 – isn’t she still in her early years?), what life is like at our house, our discipline philosophy, how much TV she watches, what she likes to play with, etc. And we heard from the preschool teacher about the Waldorf philosophy*, her discipline practices (in a word – gentle), what forms we need to have filled out, teacher home visits, parent meeting nights and work days, festivals, the checklist for the first day of school, what their days consist of, safety and health info in the preschool handbook, what foods are off limits for lunches (no peanut butter since a boy who attends on the days opposite of Ava has a severe allergy and no sweets because it’s unWaldorfian – hehe, I just made that word up), her thoughts on TV/DVD watching (if it makes it’s way into the preschool repeatedly – like if Ava was always saying “let’s play ‘Annie'” – which she actually does with me sometimes oops! – and trying to coerce the kids into playing ‘Annie’ or some such thing – then we will have to cut back) and several other things.

We easily could have filled up more than two hours talking (I think we went slightly over two hours as it was), but I felt the need to get back home to my kids to make sure they weren’t running amok while Aunt Carrie watched the both of them together for the very first time. (All was well. They all did great! Julian was even sleeping when we got home.)

Jody and I feel this preschool is a great match for Ava and are sure she’s going to enjoy it and thrive being a part of this program. The teacher is so calm and nurturing and does very well with the children. I wish it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, but I guess, in this case, you get what you pay for. I started having a bit of anxiety right after we signed the contract signing Ava up for two mornings per week because I really am unsure how we are going to pay for it, but we will work something out. We have to. We’re in it for the school year now! ;)

Just this past Saturday we went back to the school for an open house/welcome to preschool tea. Unfortunately, we’d had a rough morning at our house so Ava wasn’t her usual self and got into a few squabbles with some of the kids over various toys, but overall it went well. We got to meet one of the other girls who will be attending on the same days as Ava, and we already know one of the boys who will be going with her as well from our AP group. We drank tea, ate scones, played in the yard (which has a great playhouse/castle thing, a big sandbox, jump ropes, watering cans, bubbles, balls and all of the chalk a 3-year-old could possibly need, as well as a burbling water fountain, flowers, and gnomes and fairies in the garden) and played in the house/preschool (which has some wonderful wooden toys, a little kitchen, little tables, play silks, dishes, soft dolls, cars, puzzles and all sorts of other neat stuff designed to spark the imagination).

Preschool for Ava begins on Thursday. :) We still need to go shopping for a few things for her to keep at the school – indoor shoes (different from the ones she will wear outside) and a sun hat (so we will have one for at home). We also have to put together a change of clothes and a sweater to leave at school, and of course her nutritious lunch (without sweets) which will go with her each day. :)

Speaking of lunch, I’m hungry I think I’m going to get her a new lunch box. (We had one for her summer camp at the farm, but I have grown tired of all of the waste involved.) I’ve been eyeing this one. It’s a bit pricey, but it looks awesome and I love that there is zero waste (plastic bags, etc.) from it. I really love the idea behind these laptop lunch kits (AKA bento boxes) and am sure I will write more about it another time.

Stay tuned as there is sure to be an update from Ava’s first day, as well as pics, later this week! :)

* The Waldorf method was founded by a man named Dr. Rudolph Steiner in the early part of the twentieth century. He believed very strongly that education should not only engage the minds of children, but the bodies and spirits as well. These elements are not treated as separate; the Waldorf method is designed to educate all of them in concert.

Insurance crap stinks

I’m feeling rather disgusted with our insurance company (CIGNA) lately.

First of all, I’ve been trying to get them to acknowledge a claim (just acknowledge it, not even pay it) for Julian’s home birth since, hmmm, let’s see, probably January 2007. So, what’s that, like 8 months now? Every time I call they say it’s in “pending status” and they need something else – one more code, one more form, one more dotted i. I’ve mailed or faxed them everything they’ve requested and when I called today for my monthly status check, I was told it was still not in the system.

The good news is that the woman (Jennifer) I talked to today seemed honestly interested in helping me get this resolved. Perhaps she was just placating me or perhaps she sensed the utter frustration in my voice and genuinely wanted to help. I guess time will tell.

Sadly, with all of this exposure to insurance crap I’ve been getting over the past several month, I’ve found I’m getting more savvy with their jargon. So today I was able to tell the rep what information has been requested, what I’ve sent in, and where to look on documents for the information she should need, etc. She seemed to think they should have everything they need now and said she would forward it back to the insurance adjuster.

Jennifer is the first person I’ve spoken with there who actually asked for my phone number and said she would call me to let me know how this is resolved (which should take up to 15 business days). I was shocked! I was actually just starting to ask her when I should call back again to get another status report and she said that she would take my number and call me. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I did think that was very nice of her.

I’m still holding out some hope that somehow this claim will be acknowledged and then (*gasp*) approved and they will cut me a check for at least part of the $2200 I paid for my home birth. It’s not that the money wasn’t well-spent (my home birth was worth every penny and then some) or that I would hesitate to do it again, but, plain and simple, we could really use the money. Really.

Since I had this live insurance rep on the phone, after we finished talking about my home birth claim I had another question (one I’ve been trying to get answered for two weeks) about coverage for Ava. I have called the insurance company at least five times over the past two weeks and tried various selections on their phone menu system to try to find out if a speech evaluation would be covered. Unfortunately using the phone system to check eligibility never got me to a live person, no matter how hard I tried. I tried pressing zero, I tried saying “speak to a person” and was met with, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand your request. Did you mean… (insert everything under the sun except speak with a live human being).” I even tried a few choice swear words which got me nowhere as well (but it helped me feel a little better).

Anyway, I’d been in the process of setting up this speech evaluation for Ava for the past month or so. I had to fill out several forms, fax information in and talk to a “case worker” at the rehab center to get this all arranged. I found out today from Jennifer at CIGNA that speech evaluations for developmental issues are NOT COVERED. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you child has a lisp or can’t say sounds that she should be able to at her age, they won’t cover it. If, however, she has a medical diagnosis, like autism or had been in a car accident and lost her ability to speak, then they would cover it. Is that F’d up or what?!

I got back in touch with the case worker at the rehab center and found out the speech evaluation would cost $441(!) if not picked up by the insurance company, so I canceled it. We will have to go another route. The case worker gave me the number for “Childfind” and said I could schedule a screening with them. I guess that’s our next step. Yay for wasted time! :oP

Maybe tomorrow I will call up CIGNA again and cuss out their automated system, just to help me feel better. :)

The great money fiasco of ’07

Between all the hub-bub surrounding Ava’s birthday and having my parents staying with us for several days, I didn’t have time to keep up-to-date on our checkbook ledger. So when I went to pay some bills last week, I just assumed we had the money to cover them all – even a large credit card bill which contained expenses from Jody’s last work-related trip and a deposit on the work done on our bathroom shower. Because I was expecting Jody to receive an expense check to cover most of that, I went ahead and paid it off in full.

When I was able to update our ledger a day or two later, I discovered we did NOT have the money to pay that and still cover other bills and living expenses. Still, I was expecting Jody to get his expense check soon and figured if he didn’t, I’d just transfer some money from savings to cover it until he got paid. So what did I do then? I mailed our mortgage. Why? I’m not quite sure. It can be received up until the 14th of the month and not be counted as late, so I easily could have held onto it for another week. I guess I felt I needed more drama in my life. ;) Ha.

We found out the expense check payment was still a few days out, and now, with the mortgage pending in addition to the credit card payment, we needed the money ASAP, so Jody attempted to transfer some money from savings. However, it wouldn’t be that simple. Back in February we moved our money from a traditional savings account to a savings account with ING Direct, giving us a much better interest rate. We soon discovered that we never set it up completely. Apparently, I never called in to verify some information which would grant us access to our money. Oops.

So I called to do the verification, figuring I’d be able to then transfer the money and all would be well. Not so. Apparently they mailed me a PIN back in February that I either promptly recycled or disregarded, because I had no idea what it was. Without the PIN there was no way I could complete the verification process, so basically we were being protected from ourselves and not granted access to our money. SH*T!

The only option was to have them mail me a new PIN which would, of course, take 5 to 7 business days – more time than we could afford – literally.

Between another small checking account I have, collecting some money my sister owed me and some cash that was in my wallet, I somehow managed to scrape together just enough to cover my big snafoo (or is it snafoos?). Barely. That didn’t leave us any extra for groceries, gas or anything else. Thankfully we had a good amount of food already in the house and our gas tank wasn’t empty (though it is now).

Jody’s expense check money was deposited into our account today so we are in the clear again! Can you hear my big sigh of relief? Also, the PIN is on it’s way to me and I will finish getting that all set up so in case we run into a situation like this again, I will be able to move our money to cover it.

Nothing like a bit of financial drama to get your blood pumping. We survived, but that was a little too close for comfort.

Takin’ it easy

We’ve decided to take it easy and not rush into anything with *the* house. We’ve been talking a lot about it – our likes (the layout, the neighborhood, the yard, the unfinished basement for a possible future photography studio for me), our dislikes (it needs new windows and other updates), and what we’d need to do before we could even move in (put in a dog run or fence).

Since finding out it was on the market last summer and didn’t sell, I don’t feel like we have to rush this. If this is the house for us, it will work out. However, the more I think about it, I’m not sure it is *the* house.

In the meantime, we’ve met with a Realtor who walked through our house and told us some things we need to have fixed or start working on ourselves to prepare it for going on the market. Also, he told us we probably won’t get as much for our house as we would like, since it’s a buyer’s market right now and there are something like 16 other houses in our neighborhood already for sale. Blah. I am excited to get the ball rolling though and to know exactly what we need to fix up so that we can put it up for sale.

June is going to be a super busy, crazy month. Not only are we going to be doing home repairs, boxing up all of our clutter and moving it to a storage unit, we’re also having Ava’s 3rd birthday party and my parents will be staying with us for a week. Thankfully, I know they will be a big help in all of this. It’s just going to be a matter of finding the time to get everything done. Staying up ’til midnight painting, patching nail holes in the walls, putting Liquid Gold on our wood work, and packing up boxes is not my idea of a good time, but it all has to be done.

We’re going to revisit “*the* house” this weekend with our Realtor to look at it with a more critical eye. We’ve also found a couple other homes we want to take a look at, and he’s suggested looking at a few homes in our neighborhood that are already on the market, so we know what the “competition” looks like.

And so we are moving onward and upward. :)

Good finds, good deals, good golly – we spent a lot of money

As you know, this past weekend I participated in the Just Between Friends sale – a huge consignment event with over 300 consignors. Jody and I went to the pre-sale night, for consignors and friends only, and came away with quite a bit of loot.

I hit the clothes racks with Julian in the Ergo while Jody and Ava walked around looking at other things. I had picked out several items for Ava when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Jody wearing a big backpack and Ava riding high in it, grinning from ear to ear. “I’m in a backpack!” The pack – Kelty Kids Back Country – was in great shape and, although we haven’t done much hiking in a while, we decided to get it. Even if we don’t use it much, I think we can resell it for what we paid for it.

Kelty Kids backpack

After making my way through the girls’ clothes, I headed over to find some things for Julian. Not long after I’d started looking, Jody came back, this time wheeling Ava around in a double jogging stroller. Apparently she was getting to try out several modes of transportation that night. ;) We had previously talked about getting a stroller, so I was cool with getting it. I had actually been eyeing that one when the owner dropped it off earlier in the day.

I took the kids out in it for a test run on Friday. The front wheel pulls a bit to the right, but I think we can fix that without too much effort. Julian fell asleep in it, so that’s a good sign. I parked him under a tree, then Ava and I had some fun playing in the park.

Julian and Ava in the new jogger 5/11/07

Back to the sale…
As for clothes, I ended up buying for Ava (all size 4T):
3 dresses,
3 shirts,
2 tanktops,
3 shorts/skorts,
and 1 pair of capri pants.

And for Julian (some 12M, some 18M – yep, he’s huge and not quite 6 months old yet):
3 rompers,
4 shirts,
2 onesies,
1 pair of pants,
1 pair of overall shorts,
5 bibs (the way he drools, he goes through them like there’s no tomorrow),
1 sun hat (new with tags),
and a bathing suit with matching robe.

Combine that with what they already had and I think the kids are definitely set for the summer. :)

We ended up spending a bit more than I’d planned, but I feel like we got a good deal on everything we bought, and we should get some use out of it all, so it was worth it. One of these days, I just might show some restraint when it comes to these sales. But with such great deals, maybe not.

I’ll find out how much money I made off the items I consigned when I get my check in the mail in two weeks. Hopefully it will make a dent in what we spent. ;)

signed, sealed, delivered

We finally filed our taxes tonight. Woohoo!

We are getting back a decent federal refund but have to pay state a little bit. I’ve had our taxes nearly ready to file for about the past 2 months or so, but I put off sending them because I’d been trying to figure out what to do with this IRA form that I had (from when I had my 401K converted into an IRA). I couldn’t find a place on TurboTax to include the info.

So Jody and I sat down tonight to figure it out once and for all. We were actually able to do a search for the form on TurboTax and it said that we don’t have to report it, and that was that! It took all of 2 minutes, I swear. I assume it’s one of those things that you report once you take the money out of it, but while it’s just sitting there, nothing is happening with it.

Anyway, we’re glad to have that done. I was hoping I’d be able to apply some (or all) of the return towards the purchase of a new camera, but until we know how much it is going to cost to repair our water-damaged bathroom, I’ll be holding off on that. We’re having someone come out next weekend to assess the mold (I don’t think it’s black mold, but we need to know for sure) and someone else to give us an estimate on the remodeling. *gulp*

Since we’ve been talking about moving lately, I spent a little time this past week browsing houses for sale online. We even went to look at one of them today just for kicks. It had some things we’d really like in our next home, like hardwood floors, a nice-sized backyard, and a bigger kitchen, but it wasn’t the house for us. I think we’ll try to look at a few houses every few weeks just to help us get a better idea of what we definitely want in our next house and what we don’t.

When we bought the house that we are currently in (7 1/2 years ago), we were under a HUGE time crunch because we were moving from Oklahoma to Colorado and only had about two days to look at houses in person and make up our mind on which one we wanted. As a result, we felt a lot of pressure to decide quickly. The first house we made a bid on was rejected, and this house was our second (though probably not the smartest) choice. If we were able to do it over again, we would have done things differently. So this time around, I’d like to really take our time and find a house that we LOVE before we take the plunge.

Our next step will probably be to meet with a Realtor to discuss what we really need to do with our house before putting it on the market and to let them know what we are looking for as well.

Our weather has been really cold and crummy (think freezing rain and a bit of snow) the past few days. Tomorrow’s high is only in the 40s. Last Easter was in the 70s or 80s if I remember correctly.

We dyed eggs for the first time with Ava today. She enjoyed it a lot. Tomorrow we will hide them (probably in the house since it’s going to be chilly out) and let Ava have an egg hunt. We did it last year with plastic eggs, but decided to do the real deal this year. And, just for nostalgia sake, here’s Ava enjoying some painted eggs on her first Easter. Gosh, those chubby cheeks look familiar. ;)

Happy Easter and Happy Spring! :)