Thursday, October 31, 2013


We've been so incredibly blessed thus far with our health insurance covering everything I've needed, with the exception of one doctor at Duke using their billing code for the hospital and not the cancer center, which was an easy fix.

So far.

Yesterday, I went to Georgetown for my repeat MRI (which I'll have, potentially, for the next decade), and found out that my insurance thinks I'm all better and don't need ongoing care or repeat MRIs.


I would love to think that's the case, but if I'm being honest, I've had a REALLY bad couple of weeks. I know that everyone told me that the year after treatment could have ups and downs, and I'm doing okay this week, but two weeks ago I literally thought I was going to die, the pain had gotten so bad.  I wasn't functional, I wasn't happy, and it made me happy that I was going to get the silly MRI so I'd know that nothing was wrong and it was just a bad few weeks of healing.

No dice.

Apparently, what happens now is my doctors are involved in a "peer to peer review" process where they'll work to convince our health insurance company that I need to have treatment be ongoing since they are working on the assumption that my ependymoma will come back at some point.  (I'd like to work on the assumption that it's not, but I'll be okay if it does- still, someone has to be the 20-30%, and I pick me!) So far it's just my oncologist at Georgetown, but after we hear back from our insurance with details, we may get my radiation oncologist at Duke/the social workers at Duke involved.

I understand that this is all par for the course with insurance deciding that they're done paying, however, with the timing being what it is with the Affordable Care Act and friends on Facebook posting about how they're losing their coverage, I spent all day yesterday petrified that I was going to lose my insurance altogether and we'd never be able to afford my care.  Then I had nightmares all night long about it, although one of them was okay- I was getting interviewed on a combined Colbert Report/Daily Show and I was really funny ;)

Silver linings, people.

Anyhow, now we just have to wait on insurance and my doctors to advocate for me to get what they're telling me I need.  More fun in the journey, right?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rice Krispies Map of Europe

Homeschooling! Yay! Because we do that around here when we're not having brain tumors ;)

Geography is always a struggle for us.  I don't really like doing it, and frequently the CC woman on the cd drives me nuts when she pronounces things like "Seine" which she says "sane" and "Caucasus" which she says Kaw-kay-sus.

When have you ever heard someone on CNN talk about the Kawkaysus region?  Never.

(Sorry hardcore CC lovers!)

If I haven't offended you enough for you to leave, let's continue.  I decided that for our bi-weekly review day that we invite our Classical Conversations community to, I'd do a geography only day.  This way, I could give families a reason to encourage their kids to focus on Geography, and we could make something fun.

The idea was originally that each mom would be responsible for one week of information, and kids would earn "decorations" for their map that corresponded with each week.  It didn't end up working like that- instead families worked together to review and compile their maps, but it was fun.

To prepare- first you'll need to figure out how many families you're going to have.  Next, you'll want to  go to BJs or Costco, because we're about to make some serious Rice Krispies Treats.

For example, we had 8 families coming, so I made 8 maps of Europe.  That requires you to make 8 recipes of treats.  The good news is that as you make each map and trim them, you can heat the trimmings in the microwave (we found that 2 minutes was about right) and then roll them back out.  I have a giant poster-puzzle of the world from our local teacher's store, and I used the Europe piece blown up to 150x (the teacher's store did that for me, too!) which ended up giving me a pattern that was roughly 1x2.  You'll want to roll your treats out pretty thin (and use copious amounts of butter on both the aluminum foil and rolling pin!).  I used foil-covered cardboard, but you could use whatever you want that fits your pattern.
Doing all of these ended up taking me about 4 hours, not including clean up.  I had my mom helping me, which really helped!! I also cut Russia off- but our memory work doesn't go very far into Russia, and I didn't want to make any more Rice Krispies ;)

The day of our review, each family brought a different component.  We had:
Dark blue frosting (European Waters)
Light blue frosting (European Rivers)
Skittles (European Cities- one color for each)
Twizzlers Pull N Peel (Country boundaries for Western European Countries)
Flags with names (European Peninsulas)
Hershey Kisses (various types for each range of European Mountains)
The kids earned their maps for knowing week one (Continents and Oceans) and some white frosting "glue" for knowing week eight (Mid Atlantic World)

Here's how they turned out:
I think that everyone had fun.  I ended up hearing about it second-hand because my daughter spiked a fever overnight and I couldn't host, but luckily another CC momma was willing to let 8 families invade her house- so my mom and visiting Sister in Law were able to take the boys.