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Sunday, October 30, 2005


Linda and I hired a babysitter and went to see the new Zorro movie in the theater. We had a great time and laughed a lot.

When I took the babysitter home, Ellie cried. I'm not sure if she was tired from being played with a lot, or just being a bully. It could easily have been either.

After I came home, Ellie said, Wanna see my room? It's clean. Mom can walk in it. She wasn't kidding. It is clean. It is Ellie-is-at-Grandma's-and-Dad-cleaned clean. I don't know how the sitter managed to get Ellie (Can we mess things up so I can play?) to cooperate for that, but I was delighted. I grabbed the vacuum and went at it before Ellie could mess things up again.

Hard Holidays

We went to a pumpkin carving party last night. Parties are so hard for Linda. At least she has enough volume so she can talk now, but it is still like a sort of like forced shyness. She can't really search people out to talk to, so she has to wait for people to come over and talk to her.

So parties are usually measured as a few fun conversations with long boring stretches in between.

Those belligerent students

I was teaching Trigonometry on Thursday. I was really having fun, because class started with a proof. We proved the addition formula for cosine cos(a+b) = cos(a)cos(b) - sin(a)sin(b). It takes a few steps and at least one really good trick to prove.

I was nearly done, when this girl raised her hand. She was clearly frustrated as she said, Why are we doing this? I've read this section, and there are only two two boxes to memorize. Talk about not getting the point.

I gave a short talk about mathematicians. I explained that we hate magical formulas. We value knowing why things are true, even if in the end we are practical and memorize the formulas. It was a good talk, 5 or 10 minutes long. I was eloquent. At the end, a student in the back row said, Wow. Good speech.

And I still managed to finish class on time.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

0 diopters

After I ordered Linda's newest prism (weaker than the one she had), Linda decided she didn't really need her prism any longer. She took it out about a week ago; no double vision. I thought she might find it tiring sometimes, and we'd have to get her new prism fitted, but apparently not.

So, I guess I'll see if the eye doctor can send back the one we ordered. Otherwise I'll just pay for it and not complain. Prisms aren't very expensive.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ellie moments


I know a lot of people like to hear what Ellie is up to. Last night she and I played checkers. I know that 4 might be a little young for checkers. But there always seem to be problems with other games. When we play concentration, she always wants to claim the pairs of her favorite cards (no matter who made the match). She always wants the the blue cards when we play Candy Land.

Now I don't really mind playing games with Ellie. But I don't like her changing the whole structure of a game over whims. Not if she wants to play with me anyway. The truth is that sometimes she doesn't even want to play with me. She just wants me sitting there watching her play, without talking or interacting at all. As far as I'm concerned those are times she could go play against the computer.

I suggested checkers last night. There are only two colors, so she can have her favorite and there's nothing to argue about. There are only two real choices. Either you can slide a piece forward or you can jump. The most fun thing, of course, is to jump if you can (so you always do).

We played again tonight. Maybe this will become our game.

Quotes in the car

I don't want Mom to be sick. I don't want her to walk with a walker any more.

Imaginary pets

Ellie has two favorite stuffed animals right now, a little dog and cat. The dog's name is Don and the cat's name is Linda.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Russion nesting dolls

This morning was a bit of a struggle. I locked my keys in my car about 30 minutes before class. I was already at work, and I had all my papers and notes with me, so I just walked to my office. I borrowed the master key to get into my office and started making arrangements to work everything out.

Thursdays are a pretty tight schedule for me, but, in the end, a colleague said he could take me back to my house (after class) to get Linda's set of car keys. Then I walked down to class and inadvertantly locked the master key in my office. I realized right away and let the secretary know that I could get it in an hour or two (or she could get yet another key to open my office if they needed it sooner).

On the way home, it occurred to me that I didn't actually have a key to the house. So if Linda decided not to let me in, I'd have to go to the neighbor's house to get my house key to get my car key to get my office key to get the master key.

She was surprised to see me, but she let me in.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sunday update

Sunday we had this clever idea that we would go to campus, park at Violette, and walk to Pickler. We've done it before. The first time I remember well, because I had to give Linda a piggy-back ride to the car. This time, Linda took her 4-point cane, and Ellie came along.

Linda's walking was very good. It was smooth. It was fast. (Well, fast for her. Old people still make Linda look slow.) Her endurance held up for a long time, in fact all the way to the bell tower. At that point we made the mistake of walking in the shade.

We should have stayed on the sidewalk. A few feet on the brick walk under the bells and Linda was done in. It was totally a struggle from there. But we went to the library, and then Linda sat for about 30 minutes while Ellie and I checked out the video selection.

In the end, we checked out The Importance of Being Earnest, and Antz. Then we made the long arduous walk back to the car. It took a while, and we had to sit down and rest several times. But I didn't have to carry Linda.

We watched Antz first. I've seen it before, but I was still surprised by how real it seemed. The part of the movie where they decide to premptively strike a termite colony based totally on trumped-up intelligence reports could have been pulled straight from CNN.

Monday wasn't so bad and neither was Tuesday

After Sunday, Linda expected to be really tired on Monday still. In the end, she wasn't too bad. We went to speech therapy in the morning, and it was case conferences, so I went too. We reviewed some of Linda's progress, and they set new goals for her along with strategies for achieving those goals. She has major goals to improve her vocal range and her endurance.

On Tuesday, Linda noted that she still felt a little fatigue in her ankle from the walk on Sunday. But it didn't really hold her back. She had great therapies. I didn't notice; I was distracted by some reading.

I did take our old communication boards to show Linda's speech therapist. She was very impressed by our (my) creativity.

Cold or allergies

For those still interested in my cold (and amazingly, some people have been asking). I seem to have gotten over the head parts. I'm left at the asthma stage. All colds end like this for me, with a week or two of light asthma where I feel like I have to cough all of the time.

They make inhalers for this kind of thing, and mine generally helps for about 4 hours at a time. I learned something interesting about these inhalers recently though. They use sulfites as preservatives in them (as do beer and wine), and I recently began to suspect that I am allergic to sulfites. [My inhaler wore off this morning early, so I decided to check this. It turns out that they don't use sulfites in inhalers any more.]

So there's kind of a catch-22. Your allergies make your asthma worse, and your medication makes your allergies worse. I'm going to have to pay attention to see if my nose runs more after I take my inhaler...

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Ok, Linda never had 20-20 vision, but she told me some very good news today. Today was the first time that Linda could see one image without the aid of her corrective prism. She isn't ready to throw the prism away and get out her contacts; that would be too exhausting. But she's never been able to make one image before, even with effort.

Maybe it was just one of those days for her. Therapy went great. She walked from the lobby to speech without her canes. Her walking was faster and more smooth than usual, even if she lost her balance one time.

Speech went well. OT went well, PT went well. She had some trouble walking out at the end (because her ankle gets tired) but that actually went well too, considering. We have a little trick that seems to help. Normally she uses her cane in her right hand, but when her ankle gets tired, we switch to her left and it gives more support when she puts weight on her right. We would just have her use her cane in the left, but she's generally less coordinated that way, so it isn't easier most of the time.

Don and Ellie, in contrast, are sick. I was getting over my cold, but I think I have a sinus infection now. I always get these. Sometimes I am stubborn and get over them on my own, but a lot of the time I end up going to the doctor. I can't even count how many I've had since Ellie started the whole day care thing.

No cash discount

I called the wheelchair folks and asked for a discount. Nope. They gave me this line like we've already written off the rental from November and December. Whatever. I've seen the payments, and they've been paid plenty to cover those months; it just wasn't accounted that way. So while technically, they didn't receive $137 in November or December for rental, they did receive something like $300 that doesn't fit into an accounting box.

To a regular mortal like myself, getting $300 for a $274 expense isn't something you describe as writing off. But it seemed clear I wasn't going to make headway, so just I wrote out my check and we're going to be done for good now.

It's probably my fault. On our previous phone call, I had broken the magic. Andrea had been explaining that the insurance company was finally figuring things out, and that they were going to make their payments. However, they didn't seem to have their heads on straight, so they weren't interested in just paying out the wheelchair--they wanted to pay rental (even though it was more expensive).

I told her that if we got to next January and they expected more wheelchair rental (i.e. out of my deductible) on a $1600 wheelchair after receiving $3000 that I wouldn't pay it. We'd have to convert to a purchase at that point.

That broke the magic. Up until that point, it had been me and Andrea against the evil insurance companies. Suddenly we were on opposite sides.

See, you learn some things the hard way. I was frustrated, but there was no need for me to feel defensive yet in October over something coming in January. I should have played soft. Gosh, I'm worried that we're going to still be paying rental in January (out of my deductible). After paying so much that doesn't seem fair and right. We'd surely be able to convert to purchase at that point, right? That's how I should have played it.

We'd still have been on the same side making plans to straighten everything out when the time came. And there's a better chance that today we could have talked about my payment. Oh well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bumps and bruises

Every day I get Ellie after pre-school, and she has new scrapes and cuts. Today she scraped her forearm. I asked her how she got it, and she said, Going down the slide forward. She pantomimed going down hands first on her stomache. I kind of laughed at that, and said that I bet it hurt enough to cry.

The supervisors confirmed that she cried for 35 minutes, I want my daddy. The thing that really made things bad, though, was that after going down the wrong way and getting hurt doing it she got her first time-out for the stunt. Her first one a pre-school. Funny thing is, she still wants to try it again. I'm not sure that kind of determination is really good for you.

Cranky lady

Linda is cranky today, but, really, I'm the ultimate cause of it. I stayed up late researching some things on the computer. Unfortunately Linda woke up when I came to bed and then slept fitfully after that. So she got up early and has been tired all day long.

She'll be going to be soon, and I think I'll join her. We could both use a bit more sleep.

Wheelchair news

I got a phone call from the woman I coordinate with at the medical equipment company. She confirmed that the wheelchair is now fully paid out. That is actually a bit inaccurate. They managed to get both my insurance from last year and my insurance from to pay most of the purchase price. So far, I've counted $2048 paid to her $1586 balance and there are a few payments coming yet.

She told me that we still owe January wheelchair rent that was applied to our deductible. Technically that is correct, but morally I feel like they've collected more than a fair sum already. Still I don't see any reasonable way out. The chair was not overpaid in January when the sum was due. It only became overpaid after later payments.

It will be worth a payment just to get the account closed and keep the collectors from becoming involved. Still I think I'm going to call and ask for a discount. It can't hurt.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The wisdom of 4 year olds

If you have Tobasco sauce on your finger and rub it in your eye it hurts.

I never even thought to check that.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Can on the counter

There was an open can of tuna on the counter tonight when I got Linda's medicine. That was a very strange thing because I had made tuna noodle casserole for dinner tonight.

See, that's the way my whole week has been.

Is the week over yet?

What a week. I've been sick all week, undoubtedly with something I got from my students. Linda caught it from me, but Ellie hasn't been sick at all yet. That's not the usual pattern in our family. Usually Ellie brings things home for me.

There has been lots of extra running around for pre-school. So today I asked about the after school program. Ellie has been frustrated that she has to come home right away after school when the other kid are still playing, and it is very reasonably priced, so Ellie is going to start that next week. It's great for me too because it will mean about 8 more hours a week to work or do errands.

I still plan to switch to all-day when Ellie has a few more friends.

The piano tuner came on Wednesday. When he left he said, Now instead of sounding like a piano that hasn't been tuned in 20 years, your piano sounds like it hasn't been tuned for 1 year. That seems to describe it pretty well. He said the tuning should hold for 4-6 months, but we have to expect to tune it again since it has been so long.

Day care has been closed since Wednesday. Linda's day care provider has a baby in the hospital. So Ellie has been hanging out with me a lot. I asked a student to watch her during my morning class today. Added to everything else, not having day care has me going crazy. It's been insane trying to get everything done, and I've already forgotten two appointments.

I got someone to watch Ellie tomorrow for several hours, so things should hopefully be a bit smoother.

I'll be glad to have the week over, and to get over this stupid cold.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Dry spell

Wow, no post in over a week. Part of that is that I gave tests last week. Part is that I've been sick (that usually comes right after grading papers for some reason). Mostly I've been really tired because of that; today is really no exception.

Family time

Linda's parents visited this weekend. We had a pretty nice if short visit. Ellie had just been asking about seeing them, so it was fun to be able to say, Yes, they're coming over later.

More evil

We got another letter from the collection agency. They could hardly have had time to have gotten our first response despite the fact that I sent it right away. In their new letter, they concluded that the debts are accurate and Linda owes them $375. Apparently the facts of the case have little to do with their conclusions.

So yesterday I sent a second response. I noted that I have personally verified my facts with the medical equipment company (something they apparently haven't done). Since they threatened Linda's good credit, I asked them to confirm in writing that they have not impugned her good name and good credit through their inadequate diligence.

We'll see. Even a confirmation that they've received my letters would be a step forward. I'm going to have to start sending them certified mail.

A bright spot

Today I got an EOB from the insurance company. The payments against Linda's wheelchair now exceed the cost of the wheelchair by $462.22. I'd say that pretty much rules out us owing any more money on that.

Awe, she's growing up

Ellie started her first day of pre-school today. She had fun. She really wanted to resist leaving, but luckily I was able to convince her not to since she gets to come back tomorrow. There was a kindergarten girl there who informed be, When I first started, I thought pre-school was really great, and I didn't want to go home either.

I can see that the extra running around is going to make my life even busier than it was, but we'll manage.