Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving & Birthday Vacation

We are finally back home from our long road trip to and around Florida.  Miles has taken a few more days off of work so that we can have some private family time together since we rarely ever get exclusive vacation time to ourselves anymore.  I'm so appreciative of this time with him.

Bella got to meet her great-grandparents down in Fort Meade.  They were delighted to see her and watch her bobble along everywhere.  She was herself most of the time initially and baby-gabbed away at them and everyone else who'd listen ;-)  Unfortunately, the 12-hour drive from Virginia to Jacksonville, then the 4 hour drive to Fort Meade, followed by a full day at Busch Gardens in Tampa, then another big visit/birthday party/Thanksgiving afternoon feast in Fort Meade then a drive back to Jacksonville really quite wore her out.   We'd watched her decline little by little, and hoped we could get her some rest eventually but it was very hard.  Dumbly we overbooked ourselves and Bella's presence and cost Bella a good 2nd birthday and robbed her of feeling well.  By the time we hit Jacksonville the second time, to share her birthday and the Thanksgiving day celebration, she ended up throwing up a little at dinner and then the next day she threw up in the morning.  Poor Bella was just plain exhausted :-(  As parents we felt awful!  We now know better, but we hate that it was at the cost of a pleasant 2nd birthday for our little wonder.

Regardless, everyone was so pleased we could make it down to Florida for Thanksgiving.  Seeing as we've been in South Dakota for the past 4 years and haven't spent any holidays with any of our families, I think everyone appreciated our efforts. 

We are now just celebrating the rest of November peacefully here at home.  Today we went out and took care of some pricey car maintenance (yuck!), went to the post office to send off a letter to my friend in South Africa, stopped by Starbucks for an indulgence and stared at pretty Christmasy things in Michaels.  Whilst waiting for our  car to be finished in the parking lot of the dealer we counted our budget for Christmas decorations.  We won't be able to afford a 2nd tree this year as we'd hoped for, but instead we'll be able to slightly concentrate on the outside decorations that we "desperately need". 

It's night fall already, despite being 5:40, and Miles is diligently working on a paper for school.  I'll play with Bella a bit tonight then clean up the kitchen and tidy the living room (she sure can make quite a mess!) and once she is cleaned up and sent to bed then I hope to work on two of my Secret Christmas Projects tonight. 

One thing to mention though.  I haven't personally had a terrific Monday in ages.  Miles, I'm sure, hasn't either.  When we checked our postal mail after our trip, we discovered a letter from our medical insurance.  Bella was given permission to see a pediatric cardiologist at Bethesda (where she already has her primary pediatric cardiologist).  We were livid.  Let me explain...

After our last appointment with her cardiologist we were very disappointed with their care for Bella.  The ultrasound (u/s) technician was rather rough with the device on Bella, making Bella cry and therefore making it very hard to see one part of her heart/aorta that is already slightly difficult to get a good look at anyway.  Despite me having to pin Bella's four limbs down with the weight of my arms and body (and still trying to keep her calm), Bella was NOT having it.  The cardiologist was less than honest with my husband and I the first trip in there.  He'd claimed a heart catheterization was an unncessarily invasive first option for Bella in November/December as suggested by her previous pediatric cardiologists from Omaha Children's.  At the time of hearing this we were relieved because, really, who wants to put their child through that?!  If it needs to be done, okay we will do it... but if the resutls can be accurately determined in a less-invasive fashion then we're voting for that.  He'd led us to believe by saying to us that "...a heart catheterization measures the pressures and we can do that by other testing.  Of course, if by those other tests we can't accurately measure the pressures we need then we need to discuss a heart catheterization, but really it's not necessary to jump to a catheterization first.  So, let's exhaust the other tests before we do that."  We wearily felt relieved by these words.  After another appointment, unaccompanied by my husband, her doctor begins to discuss a possible heart catheterization.  O_O  Why?  All we did was a typical and routine ultrasound of which your technician didn't even perform properly or kindly.  Now she needs a heart catheterization but you're "...not worried" that anything is wrong with Bella.  No.  Not cool.  So, we're seeking a second opinion from the pediatric cardiologists at Children's of D.C. whom we were originally referred to by her Omaha cardiologists who, like us, have no faith in Bethesda's pediatric specialists.  Military doctors are (sorry in advance to whomever this may offend) absolute crap.  They're great for combat, but certainly not for children and not for pregnant women either.  I've yet to hear something good from a woman who's been forced to give birth by the car of a MTF.

The blessing?  I know, I know.  The blessing is that TriCare (medical insurance) called us this morning  right as Miles was dialing them (to yell at them lol) and I explained that we had wanted a second opinion from a specific doctor from a specific location and we were instead given a referral to a doctor from the same institution we were having concerns with.  Without missing a beat, the lady on the other end of the line quickly realized Bella's pediatric office made a mistake and went readily to correct it and put through a request for a second opinion.

Second blessing, thank You dear Lord, was that we received word from USAA that Miles won his debate, so to speak, with the other insurance company from that small fender-bender/wreck he was in the day before we left South Dakota.  That's a good $500+ back in our pockets from the repairs!  Yay!  What a perfect time of year to receive that kind of reimbursement!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday and vacation!  Pictures will soon be posted on Facebook and Picasa!

EDIT: Bella update!  Over the holiday Bella began standing on her own from the middle of the floor (no help from furniture!) as well as drinking solely from a sippy cup!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Being Neighborly

Over the past few months I've run across our neighbors who help sandwich our little townhome in with a few others.  Sometimes they wave, sometimes they smile.  We don't know each other at all and I wouldn't even know it if their mail were in my box by accident unless I looked at the house number.

For the most part they've been quiet.  Once in a while I'd hear some major vocal fighting that led me to feeling awkward so after a quick prayer for their resolution, I'd put on the t.v. to drown out their bickerfest.

Today I noticed a new man walking into the townhome.  He, unlike his friends, waved AND said, "Hello!"  Thinking nothing of it, I continued battling the War of the Groceries into our tri-level home.  After another load of bags were dropped off at the foyer for my husband's retrieving service, said New Man went into the neighboring townhome with a cooler.  Again, I thought nothing of it.

Maybe they got new speakers.  Maybe their friend is a veteran or active duty member.  Maybe they are having some sort of weird sex orgy. I don't know.  All I do know is that start at 7:30 PM my living room wall has been throbbing.  They were in and out of their deck (which is a great stage to my couch, literally two feet from their deck), carrying on loudly and I didn't mind thinking it'd end by 11ish.  Music was playing loudly.  After a while I figured it had to be a movie because it would drone in and out without real rhythym. 

It's 2 AM.  There is still throbbing.  It's not loud enough by far to wake anyone in the house. Bella fell asleep without a hitch, but here I am, sleepy and now additionally witchy because that throbbing is just enough to be annoying.

It's. 2. In. The. Morning. 

My husband has offered me the advice to go over there and knock on their door and politely ask them to turn it down (why not off? It's 2 AM!) but at this point, I am scared that whatever comes out of my mouth will sound more, "What is WRONG with you!? It's 2 AM! You don't even have the decency to wave or smile but you sure as hell don't mind making my walls throb!" rather than, "Oh hello, good evening.  Would you ever so mind turning down your beautiful sound system for the benefit of a few hours sleep for me? Thank you kindly."

Friday, November 11, 2011

From SoDak to NoVa

Since the last post, Bella and the family have uprooted from kind, compassionate and warm (hearted, not weathered!) South Dakota to Northern Virginia.  We are back on the east coast, baby!

Bella is a lot better than she was in February 2010.  She will be 2-years-old this month and is almost walking :)  We dearly and sorely miss her old OT (occupational therapist) in Rapid City.  As a family we've noticed a decline in the developmental care of children who're disabled, particularly those with Down syndrome, in our area.  Bella will meet with her new PT on Monday, and we pray to God that all goes well there.  She has one more year with the NoVa Early Intervention services until she is in the preschool program for developmental help.  By then she will not receive one-on-one care/assistance, and we really want this last year to count.  She is doing well, but we never want to expect less of her due to her Down syndrome.  For some reason this seems to throw people off, which frankly concerns us all. 

My husband is back in school on his way to finishing his degree.  I'm so happy for him and I think he is very happy for himself too.  As for myself, well, I am still "just" a stay-at-home-mom.  I'm finding a new passion in cooking however.  Thanks to shows like "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" I am now transferring my wanderlust to the culinary arts.  All of our meals these past few weeks have been solely Mediterranean based.  I'm thinking of beginning a culinary adventures blog for my own sake/benefit, but am unsure of it's real amusement for others.  There's got to be a crowd that loves to dabble in the culinary arts for the fun of it though...

Thanksgiving is quickly coming our way and we will be headed down to Florida to see our families for the first time in over a year.  We've seen both our parents and M's brother and our sister-in-law since they visited us as soon as we moved closer to Florida, but our visit to Florida will bring us to meet M's grandparents and his aunt, uncle and a few cousins.  Bella will get to meet her great-grandparents for the first time.

Bella may be meeting her first DS friend tomorrow for coffee, or, well, in their case milk.  If there's one thing the local Early Intervention services have been good for, it's the references for local families with children with Down syndrome.