TGIF, seriously

First, my car is in the shop.  The heater wasn't blowing hot air unless I was pressing the accelerator.  I thought it was the thermostat, but the radiator had a leak and is being replaced to the tune of 500+ dollars.  I am so blessed that I am able to have it repaired.  (thank you ex husband)

Secondly,  the early on program called earlier this week to tell me to attend today's speech therapy play group.  Jack will be younger than most of the other kids, but they say it will be good for him.  She also said that she has his "report" for me to see.  I asked were we doing his IEP meeting??  Seems rather informal to me.  So, no meeting, but I promise you I will have it scheduled before I leave there today.

Finally, I am very happy the weekend is coming.  This week has been challenging.

New Game!!

Let's play push the barstool!!

Game faces, please.

Good job, now hit the shower and put those filthy clothes in the wash!

The new titleholder

I am currently king of the lab.  Yesterdays meeting with the DHS office was a bit strained, but much better than I thought it would be.  I expected some fighting, arguing and bickering.  But, no.  My case worker is a quiet man anyway and I planned to just sit quietly unless he got loud with me.

He had to do a lot of inputting and correcting in the computer.  My mom and I played with Jack and talked amongst ourselves.  Half an hour later he tells me that my EBT (food) will be available in 24 hours and my medical should be as well.

My jaw fell.  I have been attempting to get this right for more than a year and he fools around in the computer for 30 minutes and fixes it all?  I don't believe it, but we smile and thank him and leave.

Today, I discover that the EBT is indeed fixed.  All of the children's medical is back to rights.  Now, mine says that I am on deductible medicaid.  I have never heard of this and can't afford to pay a deductible.  It does not say how much the deductible will be.   So, I called, got voice mail and left a message.  And an email.....courtesy copied to my state representative.

I am very pleased that so much was fixed in such a short time.  If we can just figure out what mine is all about, I am having a celebration!!

Thanks to Thuy, SleepyG, Gwendomama, Francesca, Angie and Christy for all the awesome comments lately!!

In other news, my brother finally joined Facebook!!!  Hi Brent and Kristen.

Monday Monday

Tomorrow afternoon, I have to go visit the DHS office.  I am planning on remaining calm and getting my case sorted out.  I know that people have very strong opinions about the "system" and those who use it.

My priority is to raise my boys well.  When I was married, I contributed money to the system.  We also donated to needy causes.  I never thought I would need services or be living anywhere near the poverty line.  I was wrong.

The tax dollars that help me raise my boys now will insure that tax dollars aren't needed to feed and house them as adults.  I believe a stay at home mom can make all the difference in a child's life.

My third son, Skyler, is a hoot.  He is currently "king of the lab" because he has managed to get his planner from school signed every day for two weeks!!  Makes a mommy proud.  I swear that more and more he looks like Sylvester Stallone.


OK maybe not in that picture.

Many faces of Jack

 Sleepy Jack
Book loving Jack
Camera loving Jack
Rock Star Jack
But this one, I have no name for.

My current crisis

I haven't had health coverage for a long time. I keep this to myself and try to fix it. When it seems like it will never be resolved and your case worker isn't responding you might have to write a letter to your state representative and courtesy copy it to your case worker.

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Monica Berrios and I am a divorced mother of four living in Battle Creek, Michigan. I am financially eligible for services through the Department of Human Services. I have had services in the past and my circumstances have not changed financially. We have had another birth into the family which have increased our financial hardship.

My case worker, name withheld, is not handling my case appropriately. I have attempted to communicate with him multiple times.I have attempted to communicate with his supervisor, also. I understand that social workers and similar employees are overworked and often treated badly by their clients. I have always been polite and attempted to complete paperwork in a timely and neat manner.

I have been without medical coverage for a year and a half. I have reapplied multiple times. The last time Mr. Withheld and I were face to face it was because two of my sons' medicaid coverage had been cancelled due to a computer change in the DHS office. A glitch in the system that no one caught. At that meeting I explained to Mr Withheld my situation and my hope for a positive resolution. He informed me of two papers I needed to provide and I did that within a few days.

My children's coverage was resumed, but mine was not. I did not even receive a letter of denial. I have since been given notice that my EBT food benefits have been withdrawn because I failed to turn in a paper that I am sure I turned in. My family is going hungry this month because of Mr. Withheld's lack of communication. I have left no less than ten voice mail messages to Mr Withheld's direct line. I have received no responses. I have left two voice mail messages for his supervisor. I also hand wrote a letter while in the DHS waiting room addressed to the supervisor and put it in the DHS mail system. This system requires you to log in your mail deposit. I received no response from the supervisor. I have not kept a paper trail assuming that Mr. Withheld would do his job. Starting with this e-mail, I am doing so.

My family needs these services. We go hungry without the EBT food benefit. Do I heat the house or feed the children? I require medications that I am often going without because I lack the cash to pay for them myself. My youngest son has NO medical coverage without Medicaid. I know that my family is eligible for these services. I have the papers required by DHS to prove my income, housing ect. The missing link is a case worker that cares enough to figure out the reason for this situation.

I beg you to guide me to a solution. Where do I turn to be heard? The DHS office is a necessary part of our society. I know it is often abused and the people that work there often go above and beyond. This time the system is failing. I am hoping that someone can advocate for my family. I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and respond.

Monica Berrios

Doing this will get your MIA caseworker call you the very next day. He will also set you up an appointment for the next Monday.  I hate being the squeaky wheel, but sometimes it is necessary.

Mommy is a.....

Years ago, when I was still married, the ex and I were goofing with the kids. My ex husband is Puerto Rican and proud! The exchange went something like this.

Ex-"Nico, what is Papi?"

Nico-"Papi is Puerto Rican!"

Ex-" What is Elijah?"

Nico-"Puerto Rican!!"

Elijah- "Poor Ricah!!"

Ex-"What is Skyler?"

Boys-"Puerto Rican!!!!"

Ex-"What about Mommy?


Ex-"What is Mommy?"

Nico-"Uhh, Mommy is an adult"

Finally we could debate it no more, I was an ADULT!!!

Good Morning!

Vacation Bible School

Tonight, I attend my first meeting of the Christian Ed Board at church. I am excited and nervous. I see the people all the time, but I feel all official and responsible. I am trying to get mentally and prayerfully prepared to handle all the hard work that is coming.

I chose Crocodile Dock for our theme. I am thrilled that this is available this year. I am from the south and grew up along the bayous. I know what a swamp looks and smells like and have seen my fair share of gators outside a zoo.

On a less positive note I am seriously ready for the big boys to head back to school tomorrow. They have serious cabin fever and are bickering.


A cousin on my mom's side had started doing our family tree at Geni. It is a really super easy to use free site. Yes, I said FREE. Now, it does say that you can upgrade to Geni Pro, but I can't imagine any other feature that we would need. There is so much for free.

So, I went tonight at mom's request and added things that I knew. It was actually fun! I don't like that sort of thing, but it was user friendly and easy. I recommend it to all.

Our youth group leader dropped out unexpectedly so today it was decided that we will each take a turn. We can't let our youth group crumble. I got the first Sunday of every month. Thank goodness we decided, for now, that we would just let them get together and hang out. No programs or much planning, just basically babysitting teens for two hours. I can do that.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr day tomorrow.

Repost to explain my mad sign skills.

This post was made by me on my other blog a few years ago.

Rock Hard Puppet Points

This morning, I have been deep into the closet of doom looking for this college yearbook. There is some question as to my puppet points over at the The Estrogen Fishbowl. In, 1991 and 1992, I was a member of a group known as Kids on the Block . In case you can't find me, I am bottom right, holding Brenda Dubrowski .

Kids on the Block was first, prior to that band, eww. Anyhow, We toured local schools and churches every Thursday morning at zero dark thirty. This sucked as Wednesday nights were "college night" at the local country bar, meaning dance music for a change. I did do the hand and rod puppets using bunraku, but my preferred puppet was Mandy Puccini. This is the point where I must mention Michael Babb, again. He is the skinny guy in the top right picture below. I am on the right in the bottom picture.

Mandy is deaf and therefore a two person puppet. Stay with me here. First, do your best " I am a happy slow kid" voice and try to say something serious without laughing. THIS was the hardest part for me.

I was the arms and voice. Mike was the head. I would put my arms down two empty sleeves of her costume and Mike would stand behind me, his arm across my right shoulder and hold her head in front of my face. Because he worked the mouth, but I did the voice and sign language, we had to be in synch.

He would place his hand up my shirt and UNDER my bra strap. "putting my seatbelt on", he would say. That way he was aware of my breathing and voice rhythms. I believe this helped his hotness factor greatly. Standing in a room of crowded people, all eyes on you with a cutie's hot hand on your bare back skin is very inspiring.

Our troop visited about 30 elementarys, 5 junior highs and several churches. We also were on television when the local station tried to make an afternoon "Kids Hour". This is one of the two times that I appeared in the circle at the bottom of the screen doing sign language.

We were to be the pilot episode, but the station never aired us. Sadly, my copy was taped over by my Dad a few years back. It was labeled Kids on the Block and he figured I had outgrown that band by now. I still haven't forgiven him.

In closing, I offer this gratuitous skinny picture of me. Of course, I thought I was fat at the time. *mutter*

I am second from the left, looking rather haughty as my character, Maggie, in "Lend Me a Tenor".

Signing in the bathtub

His final say

You can follow the link here to view Baby Donald's obituary and guest book.

Today was ok.  Our weather is hating us right now and we are due for a great deal more snow overnight.  The kids are hoping for a snow day and this time they might get it.

Nico got good news today that he might have his braces off as soon as this summer.  If he would wear his rubber bands like he is supposed to it might be sooner.  Elijah has a good year or two left on his.  Again, rubber band non compliance is not helping.  Sky got invited to an overnight bday party for this weekend.  Can't these people have birthdays according to my pay day??  Have a little compassion!

As for Jack, he was a fool today.   Jack is a hair addict.  He is always up in ANYONEs hair.  He is not picky and is gonna offend somebody or get the lice.  He also adopts strangers.  Today, it was the guy in the orthodontist's office.  Poor man just wanted to drink his $7 dollar coffee.

He was a good sport and held the books Jack brought him and didn't protest when Jack got up in the seat next to him and, yes, went for his hair.  He runs his fingers through it mumbling something about the precious.  He scares me.  But, in that adorable endearing toddler way.

He can also play chess.


Kids are funny

I don't have a darn thing to post today so I will share some funny kids moments.

A few months ago, I let Nico out of the van at the mailbox to check it.  We waited and when he began walking back to the van I took off up the driveway to play a prank on him.  He ran alongside the van and hollared " Baby!!  Baby, I can change!!!"

A couple of years ago, Elijah and Skyler were going to show me a magic trick.  They came into my bedroom and Elijah hid Skyler under a blanket.  Some magic words were said and Elijah removed the blanket and WOW, Skyler was gone!!!   Elijah said, "where did he go??"  From behind the bed came a subtle but obvious sound of gas being passed.  Then laughter.  I said, "uhh, behind the bed?"  We still tease him about that one.

I hope these made you laugh like they did me.

Sad News

Baby Donald passed away last night.  I don't know the details or when his service will be.

Mike and Gwen Carter need all the prayers you can spare to deal with the loss of their son.


Speech Therapy is a GO!!

Jack had a blast at his evaluation today.  There were lots of toys and climbing things used in OT and the SLP was a big ole kid herself.  She spent a great deal more time actually working and playing with Jack than the SLP at the hospital.  She checked his chewing and tongue movement, in addition to other things.

Again, his actual language tested awesome, well above age level.  He did two sounds while there.  His normal aaahhhhh as he played and an N.  He did sign to her and she knew sign also, so that was cool watching him sign to somebody other than me.  

She says he more than qualifies for services.  Definitely speech therapy, but perhaps occupational therapy as well because of his chewing/texture problems.   We did discuss apraxia and she says he has many features that you find in apraxic kids.  But the tests to actually diagnose apraxia are intended for older children.  

Later today the SLP from the hospital called to tell me that the insurance did not approve for services through them.  So, Early On is his only path right now.

With the tragedy of little Donald, I am very calm and accepting of this for Jack.  The grass is NOT always greener.  I will stay right here in my own yard.

Second Opinion

Tomorrow, Thursday, Jack will be evaluated by the Speech Language Pathologist from Early On.  This is big because they will be the people to provide speech therapy for him.  I am pretty sure that the insurance isn't going to respond at this point.  It might just be taking a long time.

Our church got another slap in the face today.  Our para-minister of youth, basically just the youth group leader, sent out a letter of resignation.  Wow.  She could have said something.  She stated it was effective January 2nd.  What???   Last week??  Nice.  Our poor church was already small and it feels like it is shattering.

It will be ok.  I know it will.  God won't let us fall apart.

On a sad note, I put this on pause while I went to shower.  The phone rang.

The info we had about Gwen's baby, who they have named Donald Paul, was premature.  He crashed when they tried to remove the ventilator.  After much testing and another crash, they have determined that he is severely brain damaged.  This is believed to be due to the diminished or lack of O2 when his mother was hemorrhaging and in the seizure.  His father, so this is first hand info, says the doctors say he will never come off the vent and most likely not regain consciousness.  They are requesting Gwen and Mike sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) order.

I am, again, so thankful for every ones prayers for this family.  

Gwen is home

Gwen is well enough to be home, only six days after her emergency.  She faces at least one or two surgeries and may not be 100% for quite some time.  The baby is probably home by now as well.  Last I heard he was off the vent and being held for 24 more hours for observation.

That is a God thing.  Thanks to everyone who prayed and sent good wishes.

A Real Post

Happy new year to everyone.

We had a good Christmas and a quiet new year, which I like.  I got several thoughtful things for my birthday.  A new outfit, a gift certificate to an excellent nursery (like I needed a reason to want spring here) and some very comfy pajamas.  My parents actually stayed until after the ball dropped this year.  Makes a daughter proud.

I was officially sworn in as Chairperson of Children's Education for Lakeview Baptist Church.  It was brief, just part of the service today.  Sadly, our Pastor retired on December 31st, so it was done by a guest pastor.  We don't even have an interim pastor hired yet.  Sigh.  We are going to have to really pull together as a church this year.  And pray pray pray.

Today had a sour spot.  I made an adorable sign language poster with some of Jack's most common signs for the church nursery.  The ladies were beginning to need to know what he was trying to tell them.  So, I went and bought a book, copied, cut, pasted, decorated.  I should have taken a picture of it.  Today when I went to pick up Jack after service they told me he was doing a sign NOT on the board.  Little stinker, I forgot to put the sign for "help" on there.

Then in all their grandmotherly wisdom they laid all the most common helpful phrases on me.

"He is a boy"
"He is gonna just open his mouth one day and talk full sentences"
"Don't pressure him, he will do it when he is ready"
and my favorite
"well he has all those older brothers, he doesn't need to talk"

I know I have complained about this before, I am just venting.  They mean well and those old grannies LOVE my boy.  They are such lovey caring women.  I wish they were right, but I know in my heart that they are not.  I have three other children, I KNOW Jack has a speech problem.  He is 17 months and has zero verbal words.  He can no longer imitate me saying bubble.  That has come and gone.  Another sign that points to Apraxia.  Which, by the way, is not a speech delay, but a neurological disorder.

I just smiled at them and said, I hope you are right!

And I do.

Weight Loss Incentive Picture!!

I had collar bones years ago!!!

Totally Excellent Update

Gwen has been conscious and has asked for her husband.  She joked with a family member.  Her blood appears to be clotting!  Her short term memory is acting up and they don't think she understands why she is in the  hospital or that the baby has been born.  She is upgraded from critical to serious condition.  EXCELLENT!!

The baby boy is doing well and the doc for him says barring an infection or something random, he will be healthy and normal.  Praise God.

We are heading to my parents house to bug them.  They love it.

Plea for Blood Donations

I am posting this from Jennifer to try and get blood "credit" for Gwen.  

"I am not here very often, so you know I do not send many emails/messages/posts etc., but I need your help. Gwen Carter is in Ocean Springs Hospital in critical condition folllowing the rupture of an aneurism in an artery to her spleen suffered in her 38th week of pregnancy. The baby, known as Baby Boy Carter until Mom is well enough to name him, was born Tuesday and is holding his own in the NICU at Memorial. However, his mom is still fighting for her life. I will spare you the details about the tragedy and about how deserving Gwen is of your help and just PLEAD with each of you to PLEASE give blood in Gwen's name. If you are on the coast, it is easier, but most blood banks can give the "credit" to Gwen even if you are out of state. Jerry and I gave here in Florida yesterday and we are able to give in Gwen's name. I know no one likes needles, but this first time mom has already received about 30 units of blood. The situation is critical; please give if you are able. If you are not sure about your eligiblity, please contact a blood bank. A lot of people can donate, even if they are on medicines or have some conditions. If you cannot give, please ask a friend or family member to give. At the donation center about donating for Gwendolyn Carter at Ocean Springs Hospital, Ocean Springs MS (part of Singing River Hospital system if they need that info). We continue to ask for your prayers. All you moms, please kiss your babies no matter their age and remember how blessed we all are. Thank you Jenn"


Thank you to everyone for the awesome birthday greetings and wishes.  I haven't had that many "happy birthdays" since I was a kid.  I loved it.

Two years ago, I quit smoking for New Years and found out I was pregnant with Jack a few days later.  Thank you, God.  

This year, it is weight loss year.  Thirty six seems like a good age to get my weight back to where it was years ago.  I KNOW I am done having babies.  My health is actually beginning to suffer from the extra pounds.  

I am excited to get it off.  

This year is going to be much the same as others and that is awesome.  Things are going pretty good.

I am going to improve my health and improve my relationship with God.  Both doable.

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