Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tale of Two Thanksgivings

Deal and I spent Thanksgiving apart this year. Don't gasp. We live and work together everyday, so we should probably take breaks like this more often!!

What this means is you get 2 tales instead of one! We had very different Thanksgivings, and I will let you be the judge of which was better (not that it's a competition, but note that mine included more family time than concert time).

Let me preface by saying we spent Thanksgiving apart for a reason. My mom was coming to spend the holiday at BD, but my dad can't travel that far. So Deal volunteered to essentially switch places with my mom and keep my homebound father company. Save your "awwwwws" for later because there may have been an ulterior motive in that ...

So, my mom arrived Tuesday. Knowing she would be here for 6 days, I had my to-do list for her. Before you judge, know that this was necessary. Anyone who knows my mom knows her favorite things to say are, "Is there anything I can do for you? Can I help you with something?" In an effort to decrease the number of times she asked me that while I was busy working, I had several BD projects for her.

1) Wash 30+ blankets
2) Fold 250 maps
3) Number and fold 200 parking envelopes

She accomplished all of them, logging 20 volunteer hours.

I promise it was not all work and no play. I showed her all the typical hot spots--Harper's Ferry and the ATC Headquarters, our infamous overlook, Purcellville--plus we did Christmas shopping on Black Friday (during normal daylight hours), Christmas decorating and she got to meet all our friends. We first went over to Hopeful/Marie & Redwing's/Scott's (previous caretakers of BD) house for Thanksgiving meal #1, then to Fire Marshall's family's house for meal #2. We were stuffed like turkeys. Ha!! But really, more important than the meal was the fellowship. As usual, we have good, good people in our lives that provide us with our "families away from home" and she was happy to finally meet the faces behind the names.

 As for the Christmas decorating, this is my mom's forte. Her 1,000-square-foot house is decorated from ceiling to floor for every holiday (she even has a few decorations for President's Day). As much as we swore we wouldn't be that way, my sister and I both inherited her decorating bug. But this time, I got to spread my 2 boxes of decorations across 8,000 square feet. My mom & I were in heaven. My mom kept telling me I should write down where I put things so I remember post-season! And, we finally have a 9-foot ceiling and were able to go a little crazy and get that huge tree Deal has always wanted. Dreams do come true afterall.

Deal's Thanksgiving was quite different. In New Jersey, he went to 3 concerts (I do not kid about these things), 1 live football game (J-E-T-S) with a good friend who has stellar season seats, saw all his Prep boys and instead of partaking in any debauchery, they went bowling. These boys need to calm down in their old age. Plus, my dad rewarded him for "taking care of him" by taking him out for a nice Thanksgiving meal at the diner (no big-time outing because my dad was very sick) and plenty of other take-out meals.

Please note that there are far more pictures of Deal's festivities than my own. Anytime Deal goes away on his own, I tell him I will only blog about it if he takes pictures (and not just pictures of the concerts). So, he took the camera and took many, many pictures.

Which Thanksgiving would you rather?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Who wants to be a sawyer when they grow up????

I used to joke that when Deal worked in parks and recreation, he went to all sorts of cool conferences. I mean, they played wiffle ball and Minute To Win It. Where was all the learning in that?  

In his new role here at BD, though, he attended something that tops the cake: a chainsaw certification class.

You heard me right folks. Deal now know how to juggle 3 chainsaws and carve bears. Next up, he will build us a remote log cabin.

Okay, maybe he just learned to turn on a chainsaw. Either way, he came back from the class with all 10 fingers and toes and all limbs attached. (We weren't too worried because now we have that awesome health insurance with awesome coverage of severed limbs).

As a sawyer, now he can tend to the 66 acres at BD. Vroom, vroom.

I thought he would look sexy using such a manly machine. But I'm not sure sexy is the word I'm thinking of.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bottom Line: Don't Get Sick.

Everyone has a horror health insurance story. And everyone has a political view on health insurance. I am just going to tell you our experience of getting individual health insurance and you can make your own judgement. My opinion is that it's neither a horror story, nor political, just kind of comical.

Deal and I had employer-provided health insurance through my terrible, no good, very bad company up until August 31. Deal's employer is a tiny non-profit. So our choices were expensive COBRA, even more expensive plan through nonprofit or venture into the individual insurance arena.

Let me preface by saying I tried to get individual insurance before we did the AT, Deal was flat-out denied (pre-existing condition from 10+ years ago—you guessed it. Severe mental illness) and I scored a decent plan. He ended up with expensive COBRA for that time period.

I thought maybe the health insurance landscape changed a bit in the past 2 years, so this time around could be a little easier for Deal.

Well, he wasn't denied. That was good news. But, we did have to jump through fire-laden hoops and fill out an application that asked how many cuts and bruises we ever had. I'm not sure if it's Deal's pre-existing—which is non-existing by the way—condition, but it took us a about 45 days for them to process our application and we ended up with a plan that is very affordable, but has the most asinine restrictions.

1) I cannot get pregnant because the plan does not cover maternity care. If I do, that baby is going to cost a BUNDLE. (They gave me a pee test to prove I wasn't pregnant before approving us. Either that, or they were testing me for drug use).

2) Our copayments for office visits are on a sliding scale for the first four visits, then we pay out of pocket for visits 5+ until we hit our $750 deductible.

3) Our copayments for prescriptions are also on a different sliding scale. Just to mix things up. (Except my birth control was FREE versus $250 thanks to Obamacare. Need the birth control. See #1.)

4) No chiropractic care. The nerve. We've gotten really good at cracking backs though.

5) Does not cover frost bite. Does cover broken arms, but not broken legs. Does cover impalement by tree branch, but not ice axe.

6) We can only go to the doctor's office on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 4pm and 6pm. 

7) It does cover medical marijuana, but not generic drugs.

Okay, so maybe #5-7 are not true, but still. The health insurance market is brutal, confusing and laughable. But, I suppose we are happy to have insurance and hopefully we won't need it too much because I believe what it all boils down to is that nothing is really covered in our plan??

Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Extended Visit

During the last week in October, my mother-in-law, MamaF, scheduled a 4-day trip. It turned into a 7-day trip because of the storm and flight cancellations.

For most people, 4 days with their MIL is a nightmare, let alone 7 days. For me, it's only a bad dream. KIDDING. I am one of the lucky ones who gets along with her MIL...
 We filled our days with fun activities in the area. It was actually pretty slow at BD during the week, so we had time to spend with her. We played at least 5 games of Scrabble and Super Scrabble (which means I lost 5 games of Scrabble), went leaf peeping, met up with Fire Marshall's family, visited Harpers Ferry, drank wine at a winery (we live in wine country - who knew??), went to the casino (some of won, some of us lost, some of came out even - not going to name names), visited the awesome consignment/thrift shops in our area ... Family time. Quiet time. Relaxation time. All good times.

We prepped for the storm, but luckily, this area was saved. Unlike my parents who are still without power, my old neighbors who lost their roof and Deal's grandma whose house definitely sustained water damage.

We lost power for a few hours Sunday evening, forcing us to play Scrabble by the fire and candlelight! We had 2 hikers hunkering down at BD during the storm and they joined us for a Scrabble game. It was the first time I didn't come in dead last!