Thursday, November 30, 2006

So what happens when we do go out?

We did our bit of review this morning, and then after lunch we headed off to "run a few short errands". We went first to A.C. Moore, a Hobby-Lobby type store, to look for Christmas gifts for some of Bob's neices and nephews. We found some cute personalized ornaments, and, after a lot of searching, finally found the Klutz books that were on sale. We bought 2 bracelets ones for the 2 little neices, and one with Sculpey clay for the nephew. Although I am now having my doubts about that one, LOL. My boys would love it, but maybe not him. I don't know. Anyhow, I dithered around for awhile, while fragile Caleb kept mentioning how much HE would like all these different things we were looking a. We finally made it through the checkout line after an hour. Whew.

So then we were off to Target to get new shoes for Nathan. Jonathan needed to go potty, but I told him we would run in, get the shoes, pay, and then go potty, sicne the bathrooms are right behind the checkout area. That's what we did, and Nathan took him off to go as I pushed the cart over. When I got there, I sent Luke in to check on them. He comes out with the unwelcome news that Jonathan actually has to go #2. I point out that I am unable to help, seeing as how he is in the men's bathroom, but Nathan hollars out that he will wipe him. Okay. Next Luke comes out with the news that Nathan himself has felt nature's particular call, and, after waiting awhile, all I can hear is Jonathan saying, "I'm done!! I'm done!! Someone wipe me!!" Of course, there is nothing I can do, so I call in to him to be patient. Finally, after much waiting, both boys are done, and, after a big struggle, Jonathan finally has his pants back up and his hands washed. Anna was quite ready for a nap by this time! Whew.

We got home, and I put Anna down for a short nap. When she woke up, I decided to use the bottle that I had packed just in case in the diaper bag. When we go out I always put out the measured formula in a stage 2 baby food jar, so I just need to pour it into the bottle, which already has water in it. Works great. I've done it for now 5 babies. When I open up the diaper bag, I am horrified to see formula all over the inside of the bag! And the baby food jar has no lid! What happened? How could it have fallen off? Then I look up on the counter and see the lid sitting there. So I just put an open baby food jar full of formula into the diaper bag to be dragged around all afternoon. At least the formula's cheap. Ha, ha! I crack myself up! So now I have decided it's back to regular school, and I will only attempt shopping by myself on Saturdays. Well, maybe not . . . I'm still not very motivated, LOL.

Routine . . .or Not

I would love to tell you that we have gotten right back into our normal routine after Thanksgiving, but, well, that would be a lie, LOL. I am having a hard time getting motivated. Somehow we have to fit in Christmas shopping, baking, card-writing, some craft projects the boys are going to make and give away, etc. . . . And those things have to fit in between Anna's wake times and my exercising. Sigh. It is very tempting to just say that we will take off the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to do these other things, but then I can practically see their Latin vocab and math facts dripping from their ears, LOL. How to balance it all, especially while being pregnant and tired. I would love to just do fun things, like a Christmas read-aloud, fun math games, painting, and science stuff, but what will probably end up happening is what we've been doing the past few days--orally reviewing Latin, memory work, and math on the couch, and then trying to get other errands and things done in the afternoon. Next year, next year, next year . . . that's what I keep telling myself!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Visit With Pilot

My cousin, also known as "Pilot", came for a short visit. He spent Thanksgiving with his buddy who lives in Maryland, and then he drove over here yesterday morning. The boys were pretty thrilled to see him! Caleb and Jonathan thought he was the best thing around, and Pilot could have read books all day long to them, as far they were concerned! He did read quite a few, until I had to make the little boys go down in the basement or into the playroom to give him some time off! He and Nathan bonded over a game of basketball. Nathan is going to play Upwards Basketball for the first time this year, but he hasn't really played much basketball so far. Bob bought him a real ball Saturday morning, so it was perfect that he and Pilot could break it in!

I made a huge pan of lasagna for dinner, and then after dinner the L's and P's, other couples in our Bible study, came over for dessert and visiting. They wanted to see my parents, and we wanted to see Anthony L., who is home on break from the Academy! Pilot got to meet everyone, and I think he enjoyed visiting with them too. We had a lot of good dessert, anyhow!

Pilot left this morning to drive back to his base. We're hoping, now that he knows the way here, that he will make his way up more often! I have tried a dozen times, starting last night, to post some pictures, but I could never get Blogger to upload them. I printed some off and will send them to you, Aunt Claire!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Anna and Grandma

Grandma and Grandpa have been here since Tuesday night. Anna was a little suspicious of them at first, but she quickly decided they were people worthy of her great big smiles! Now she is enjoying all the extra attention and love!

Our Feast

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans with almonds, cran/apple/pear sauce, and sweet potato biscuits--yum! Good thing we have plenty of leftovers for today! I brined the turkey, and it turned out so moist and flavorful.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Today I had my ultrasound at the hospital. I know the burning question is "What was it?", but it was still too early to tell. The measurements they took came out to 16 weeks, 3 days today, just a few days different than the ultrasound on Friday, and pretty much exactly what I had thought. It looks like my placenta is just fine--a little low, but not too close to the cervix or anything. The baby was really active the whole time, kicking away.

The ultrasound was a little disconcerting, however. The ultrasound tech was a fairly young girl, and it seemed like it took her awhile to get all the pictures she needed (the scan took about an hour), so I was kind of thinking she hadn't been doing this for all that long. After she was done, she told us that she had to show the pictures to the radiologist, who may or may not come back in to see us. She disappeared, and we waited about 20 minutes. Finally she came back with another tech, who also scanned me and took some more pictures. This tech seemed more competant, and took her pictures a lot faster. I asked what she was looking for, and she brightly answered, "Nothing!", which made me really suspicious. She focused a lot on my cervix, but she said everything was fine there. Then she took so me more pictures of the baby, and she and the other girl made some comments to each other that we couldn't hear. At the end she said she was trying to see the nose and mouth area, so I asked, "For cleft palate?" She said yes, but that everything looked fine. Still, it was taking so long . . . Finally they went off to show the pics to the doctor, and after about 20 more minutes (during which we were getting VERY anxious), the doctor and the original tech came back in. He said he wanted a better picture of the bottom of the spine or something, and he said everything looked fine, but that I should come back at 20 weeks for another scan, since it was hard to tell everything this early. He said they just needed to get certain things documented, and some things didn't show up well in her pictures, so they had to take some more. So I guess she is newer, and that's what was going on, but still, it was really weird, and I'm still not totally convinced. It makes sense, and I'm sure that's what I would tell someone who came to me with this story, but . . . I guess I'll feel better after I have the next scan, or even after my doctor looks at the pictures. I go back in Dec. 8 for my next appointment. So, all you medical people--would the radiologist have told me if something was wrong instead of saying everything looked fine? Does it sound like it was just a combo of newer tech and young baby?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This Could Have Been Me . . .

Here's a short article from today's Washington Times. I wonder if these people are military . . .

MARYLAND POTOMAC Couple delivers son on Beltway's shoulder

A baby who could not wait to reach the hospital was born on the Capital Beltway early yesterday, state police said. A Montgomery County fire department spokesman said the agency received a call about 1:45 a.m. saying someone was having a baby on the shoulder of the Beltway at River Road. By the time police arrived, the baby boy had been born. The trooper gave the mother a bottle of water and a blanket to keep the newborn warm. An ambulance arrived to treat and stabilize mother and baby who were both in good condition, police said. They were taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. The parents are from Alexandria.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

. . . All to Find the Perfect Tree

Last year we threw out our Christmas tree after Christmas. It was a Charlie Brown tree that Bob brought into the marriage. It was supposed to be 7 feet tall, but the last foot at least was one skinny "branch" that went straight up in the air. We always had to fold it over several times to get our angel to sit up there, making the whole tree much less than 7 feet tall. The branches were starting to fall off, so it was reaching the end of its life. I hated it with a passion, and I hated stringing lights on it (and taking said lights back off). I shed no tears when the garbage truck took it away!

So this year we knew that we had to find a tree. We started a few nights ago, looking at Lowes and Home Depot. We didn't find anything that really grabbed us, so Saturday evening we headed off to Michaels, Target, Sams and WalMart. After going to all those places, we decided that the 9 foot tree with lights from Sams was the best for what we were looking for, so we headed back there. Bob and Nathan ran in and bought the tree, but when they got back out to the van, they could not make the box fit. So Bob took the tree back, planning on coming back this afternoon with the Pathfinder.

We bought the Pathfinder back in '95 when we first got out to Colorado. It is a '92, and we bought it from someone coming off a lease, so it was in good condition. It was a faithful Colorado vehicle, going up and down mountains, on dubious "roads" at times, pulling trailers, driving through snow, and getting us cross-country several times to visit family. When we bought the Odyssey in 2000, the Pathfinder was demoted to "second car" status, and Bob drove it to and from work in Colorado and also in Ohio. While we were in Ohio, Bob tore a muscle in his calf, and so by the time we got here to Virginia, driving a stick shift every day was painful for him. We bought an old Camry for him to commute in, and the Pathfinder got demoted to "third car, rarely driven" status. I would drive it occasionally to the library or shopping at night without the kids, but mainly it sat on the street. Even I stopped driving it lately because it was really squealing, and the battery light and brake light were both on, so I didn't trust it at all. Knowing we need another vehicle once we have the baby, we just put a "for sale" sign on it, even with those problems.

As Bob drove it off to Sams, he called on his cell to tell me that it was running really rough. He parked on a hill so he could roll-start it, if needed, after he got the tree. Well, he needed to, and he couldn't even make it back home again without it dying. We came with jumper cables and rescued him at the Shell station. He knew the battery wasn't recharging, so it must be the alternator, and we hoped we charged the battery long enough to get it home! It died right in front of our house. Thank you, Lord! When Bob looked in, he discovered an alternator belt lying on the skidplate at the bottom of the car (the thing that protects the engine if you're going 4-wheeling). So maybe when he replaces that, the squealing will be gone, as well as all the lights! And it will run, and we can sell it!

The Christmas tree is still in the back. At least we have one technically in our possession now. We're waiting for my parents to come help us get it in and decorated! There should be lots of room for all the kids' ornaments this year. And we don't have to put lights on it!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Due Date!

I saw the doctor today! When I walked into the office and said my name to the receptionist, she looked at me very skeptically and said, "Well, you look a lot bigger than 16 weeks!" I politely smiled and said, "I really don't think I am." The doctor, who was very nice by the way, did the ultrasound first, and--what do you know--it looks like the baby is 15 weeks 3 days. I would say I nailed that one! I laughed at your comment, Beverly! You would think that doctors would be thrilled to get patients who are so in tune with their bodies, but I think most of them just don't believe them! Once I knew I was pregnant, I could look back with certainty and tell when I started experiencing syptoms, when Anna started not nursing well, etc., and figure out when I must have implanted. I knew I hadn't been pregnant for an extra 4 weeks or so!

So my tentative due date is May 8, right after Bob's birthday of May 2. I say "tentative" because the doctor wants me to get an ultrasound done at a hospital to make sure of the date, since she didn't feel that confident in the exactness of hers. Also, my placenta is lying low this time, and she wants to make sure it is not blocking the cervix. I've never had previa, and you wouldn't think that I would start with number 6, but I can already see that anything is possible with this pregnancy. That ultrasound is scheduled for next Wednesday, which is while Mom and Dad are here visiting, so they can watch the boys! I will still have another ultrasound at 20 weeks. I guess we'll see how much Tricare Standard really covers.

Speaking of Tricare, after the appointment, we drove to the Tricare Service Center and put in my disenrollment papers. We put the date effective as yesterday, and the lady assured me that everything from yesterday on will be covered under Standard. Bob is still very nervous and skeptical. How can he doubt a government organization?! LOL! I think we will all rest more easily when all the paperwork has for sure gone through. As for me, I am relieved, but I still don't feel much at peace about the whole being-off-Tricare-Prime thing. I am praying for good health for me this winter!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Doctor Situation

Well, I can say with certainty that this has just been the oddest pregnancy. I called the 6 or so practices in our area that were on the Tricare website as accepting Tricare Standard. Some don't anymore, one lady only practices only GYN, not OB, one lady is on maternity leave until mid-December . . . there really weren't many options, LOL. It left one practice. I have an appointment with them for tomorrow at 10:00, when they will do an ultrasound and try to determine how far along I am. Here's the kicker--if I am over 20 weeks, they might not accept me as a patient. I think I am only 16 weeks, but this has made me very nervous. We have not yet turned in my disenrolllment papers from Tricare Prime, because once I disenroll, I am locked out of Prime for a year. Wouldn't that be awful (and yet so indicative of this pregnancy) to be locked out of Prime and unable to be seen by anyone on Standard?! So if there is some problem tomorrow, and they won't accept me as a patient, then I will just pay for the appointment and call Bethesda. If everything is okay, they Bob will turn in my papers tomorrow, with that date as the start date (the Tricare lady said that was okay yesterday when I called). Hmm . . . this little situation IS Col. Canestrini's fault, since it took him so long first to deny the waiver, and then to call back for the appeal. Maybe a letter is in order.

Anyhow, hopefully there will be an update tomorrow where I actually know SOMETHING about this pregnancy, other than the fact that I am, in fact, pregnant. The receptionist at the office was funny:

Her: "So you had a positive home test? How do you know you are pregnant?"

Me: "Well, I have had a positive test. Also, this is my sixth pregnancy, so I am pretty familiar with the signs. And I'm feeling the baby move."

I did feel like the irresponsible mother, having had no prenatal care yet. I explained the whole situation, but I still felt bad. So we'll see what happens . . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Genuine Ancient Greeks

Today was our Greek Olympics, the fifthe week activity for our co-op unit on Ancient Greece. Everyone had to come dressed up in a Greek chiton. Here you can see my paltry efforts. You will notice that I am hiding behind Luke and Caleb. There is a reason that "maternity chitons" have not caught on as a fad anytime lately, LOL. Not a flattering look. All 75 kids wore something Greek-y though! I was pretty impressed.

Greek Olympics

Each tier (2 grades) was a different city-state and had their own banner. The 3rd and 4th graders were 'Sparta", and I made the banner--a ferocious Spartan felt warrior, LOL. This picture is during the Opening Ceremony, where we prayed to the One True God, and the fire of the Holy Spirit lit the flame behind the stage. Then each tier was challenged to display godly character traits during the day's activities, which included game time, craft time, story time, and food time.

I was responsible for the Greek food. I made Greek lemon chicken to go along with pita bread. I also made tzatziki, the cucumber and yogurt sauce to go along with those. A neighbor of another co-op mom owns a Greek restaurant, and he made and donated spanakopita for us. We also had dried apricots, raisins, olives, and Greek butter cookies that I made. We had a dry run last Tuesday night for dinner so I could test the recipes, and it was all quite tasty--just like Gyro Palace, a Greek restaurant we enjoy when we're back in Ohio! The kids liked it all too. It was fun to see the positive peer pressure. Kids would pass on everything except the raisins and cookies, and then they would be back a while later: "Umm, can I try some chicken and pita now? I thought I wouldn't like it, but my friends all said it was really good . . ." LOL! I can not describe the tons of food that I made and brought, but I came back home with very little. I'm going to send out an email to the families with the recipes because the kids really liked the chicken, and it is so easy to make.

After all the tiers went through all the stations, we met back in the main room for the closing ceremony. We awarded each tier a character quality--either joyfulness, initiative, obedience, or diligence--and each person received a wreath and a medal. It was a lot of fun!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some More Discouraging News

Just to wrap up loose ends, Col. Canestrini did end up finally calling me on Thursday, and the conversation went pretty much as expected. I reiterated my talking points--unreasonable driving time, 6th baby, quick labors, etc.--and he reiterated their talking points--they could manage it, others drive farther, etc. He did say that he wanted to reassure me that this wasn't "blown off' at any level. In fact, he sent it back up to the floor 2 times because he wanted to make sure he felt very comfortable since he's the one ultimately responsible. I told him that was nice, but I hope he realized that if there were any problems whatsoever, that I would be writing letters to everyone in his chain of command about his poor decision. He sighed and said, "I'm sure you will" in a resigned voice. So that is that. And I was ready to move on, since I was feeling pretty good about the Tricare Standard option at that point.

Today I called the doctor who delivered Anna, and guess what? They don't accept Tricare Standard anymore. Sigh. So now I am back at square one and feeling quite discouraged. I know my friend Lisa's doctor accepts it, but the doctor is on maternity leave herself until the middle of December, and some doctor in Leesburg is seeing her patients until then. That doesn't sound like a great situation to walk into, and she might not even be accepting new patients until she gets back. So--find a new doctor, a total stranger, or drive the 45 minutes to Bethesda. No good choices there.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bob's Dad

Bob took Nathan and Luke up to Pennsylvania today to visit his family. Bob's dad Frank had quadruple heart bypass surgery yesterday, which came about quite suddenly. Last Sunday Frank passed out and fell while getting out of the shower. Amazingly, he didn't hurt himself, but he was admitted into the hospital for tests to determine why he fell. The doctors discovered these 4 blocked arteries, and at first there was some question as to whether or not they would try medicine, but the doctors were able to convince everyone that Frnak needed the surgery, and he needed it quickly. It went well yesterday. Bob's sisters Rose and Ann were able to be there, as well as his brother Paul and other sister Jane. Today Bob's dad was pretty cranky, so Bob came at a good time to relieve people! Unfortunately he (Bob) will be coming home tomorrow, so the relief will be short-lived. Ann is planning on staying there a few more days, which will be needed but probably not really appreciated. We're not sure how much longer Frank will be in the hospital, or how the recovery will go at home. Their house is very full of stuff. I mean incredibly full, dangerously full for an invalid. And they only have one bathroom, which is upstairs. Up a narrow, wooden, unpadded, cluttered staircase. Yes. Perfect! So we have some concerns on that front. We would appreciate your prayers.

So it is just Caleb, Jonathan, Anna, and me today and tomorrow! We were going to have a fun weekend, but you know how it goes--after our "special" lunch of hotdogs, Jonathan started running a fever. It looks like he has the same virus Anna had this week, which results in only a very high (103) temperature for 2 days. You know, if your child has to be sick, I would much rather have a bug that only has a temperature as a symptom, so I actually am considering myself very fortunate! We are praying that Nathan, Luke, and Bob are not contagious with this virus, however. That would be awful for Frank to come down with it at this point. So Joanthan was pretty crabby this afternoon as well (I had lots of sympathy for Bob's family, LOL!), and he just lolled around on the couch. We read a whole lot of books though, and we did have leftover cake and ice cream/sorbet after dinner, so the day was not a total loss!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Birthday Boy

I think you can tell what cake Caleb picked to eat! He was, and actually still is, quite blue, even after a thorough washing. So now he feels like he is officially 5, since we've had his cake. Amanda even gave him a little present tonight, 2 cute pictures frames, one a butterfly, and the other a ladybug. Perfect!

Lots of Bugs

So here are Caleb's cakes--a butterfly, a caterpillar, and a ladybug. Everyone at Bible study thought they were quite "manly" bugs. No pastel-y girly bugs for us! Caleb was quite happy with how it turned out and kept telling me how great it was. Ahhh! That makes it worth it! Caleb wanted a strawberry cake too, so the ladybug was strawberry, as were the smaller cupcakes of the caterpillar (I know, you can't really tell in the picture, but every other cupcake is small, so it looks like the caterpillar is inching along. I guess you had to be there . . . ) The butterfly, as well as the bigger cupcakes, were chocolate. I made the antennae and the legs for the caterpillar out of piped chocolate. (I know, you can't really see the legs either. Oh well.) We brought home 2 small paper plates with leftover cake, so people ate well! Of course, there are 21 of us there, not counting Anna!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Not Going Away

We've decided that we are going to play out this waiver thing for awhile. Who needs prenatal care?! See, what really gets us going is that they are trying to blow us off. Remember that we asked Constance before we left Ft. Belvoir on Monday that we would like an appointment with Col. Canestrini? She said she would look at his appointment calendar and call us back, the second time she has said that. She never called. Bob called her yesterday, and she basically said she wasn't planning on getting us a meeting with the colonel. He is supposed to call us to discuss this. Well, he was supposed to call us last week too, and he never did. That's why we went in! I doubt that he has any real intention of ever calling, but I'm sure he is hoping that we just give up and leave him alone. Well, that makes me really mad. He may be busy as can be, sitting in his big office and rubberstamping "NO" on waiver requests all day long, but you would think that he would be able to take 5 minuts out of his day to call someone who was very concerned about the health of their unborn baby now, wouldn't you?! Apparently not, however. So to me this exhibits a real lack of concern for the health and well-being of those very people he, as hospital commander, is responsible for. So Bob is pursuing things through his chain of command. I am going to find out Col. Canstrini's chain of command and blanket them with letters questioning his ability to be hospital commander with this attitude and lack of accountability. Is this how he deals with people who have complaints about their care at DeWitt Hospital? Does he hide behind his secretary with them too? The leader's attitude towards people always trickles down to those beneath him, so you really have to wonder about the atmosphere all throughout the hospital. Anyhow, stirring things up like that will most likely not change anyone's mind, but that's okay. I am resigned to driving to Bethesda for care. But in the meantime, I would like to inconvenience him just a fraction of the amount he is inconveniencing us, and maybe he will not be so casually dismissive in the future, especially if his career is on the line. By the way, several people have suggested writing my congressman, but he happens to be Jack Murtha, and well, you all know how supportive he is of the military, LOL!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fort Belvoir Visit

The visit offered nothing unexpected, as it pretty much confirmed our opinion of Army medical care (sorry, Pam! Not you, of course!). We packed everyone up and left our house about 12:50, and we got to the hospital right around 2:00 in light traffic. It's 35 miles on our odometer. We found Col. Canestrini's office right away, and to say his secretaries were surprised to see us is an understatement! They definitely didn't know what to do with all of us. We had walked into the office suite with an Army nurse major, and, as it turned out, she was the head of OB nurses. She was the one who basically denied our waiver, as the Colonel asks her for her recommendation. The secretary was glad to see her, and they conferred for a little while before the secretary showed us into a conference room and told us the nurse would be talking to us. The nurse brought in another nurse for reinforcements, and we all sat down to hear their explanation. Well, in a nutshell, they basically don't care that it's an hour away and it's my sixth child. They are confident that they can "manage" the end of my pregnancy so I don't go into labor at a time or place that is inconvenient (read: the Beltway). So what that means is they are planning, on one of my later appointments, to decide that I am "ready" and start my labor for me. How convenient! How thoughtful! How totally not natural and not what I am interested in. We laid out our arguments several times in several different ways: one hour is not a reasonable distance to drive for routine care. This is my sixth child, and I have quick labors. We have had 2 children who have passed meconium before birth, and one of them had serious complications because he aspirated it. But they were really not interested in them, and they kept saying that they would make sure I didn't deliver on the Beltway by starting my labor for me while I was at an appointment. We mentioned our concern that Bob would not be able to get home in time to drive me to the hospital and here was their idea: I drop the kids off at a neighbor's house and drive myself. Yes! One hour at least of driving while in labor! What a good, safe idea! So obviously they were not really full of any sort of compassion for the situation. In fact, they told me that they had a woman who delivered her 7th child at the hospital who drove up from south of Fredericksburg, so over an hour away, while her husband was deployed. Wow--I certainly was impressed. Impressed with their total lack of concern for the people they are taking care of. I guess it's the Army way. Oh yes--I asked why my waiver was approved one year ago, and her answer? "I must have been on leave then." Ouch! Elizabeth said I should have asked her if she usually took vacation at Christmas, LOL.

So after beating our heads against that wall for awhile, we asked if we could appeal to Col. Canestrini, who, as it turns out, actually is the hospital commander. Well, he wasn't available, but the deputy commander came in to talk to us--a lady colonel named "Jimmie Keenen". She's had 2 babies, as she told us many times. So she walked in the door and said to me, "I can tell you right now that Col. Canestrini will not approve your waiver since you are well within our catchnet." (Yes, by all of 5 miles) So! Then she started cooing to Anna, and she asked where she was born. I told her that one year ago, our waiver was approved, so she was born at a hospital 5 minutes from our home. "Oh." Not really the response she was expecting, but she recovered quickly and again mouthed the party line that they fully expected they could deal with me, since they are so used to dealing with traffic issues, blah, blah, blah, she's had 2 babies, so she knows what she's talking about, blah, blah. And then they told us that we should go on Tricare Standard, and the nice nurse would walk us down to the Tricare office to explore that option.

We did go to the Tricare office. For maternity care on Standard, each visit is $25, as is the birth, but as soon as the baby is born, then everything falls under the regular Standard rules of a 30% copay I think it was, plus a $300 deductible. Also, it seemed that the whole family had to go on Standard if one of us switched, and we have to be on that for a year (well, Bob would probably retire before that, but still). Since Caleb has chronic allergy/asthma problems, that doesn't appeal to me, and you know as soon as we switched over, we would catch every disease in the book this winter, and at least one of the boys would break a limb or require an appendectomy or something. But still, it was so comforting to know that the higher-ups at Fort Belvoir were so concerned for us that they were willing to allow us to pay an indetermined amount of our own money to make sure I didn't have to drive myself to the hospital on the Beltway while in labor. Touching.

So here is where we stand now: we went back to the office and told Constance, the ever-so-unhelpful secretary that we would still like to get on Col. Canestrini's calendar. At this point, I don't see that we have a snowball's chance of getting him to go against what all his underlings have recommended, but you know, we can be the "persistent widow" like in Luke 18:2-5 if we must be. At least we will inconvenience them all and hopefully let them see that there are human faces and consequences behind these decisions they so blithely make. Constance once again is supposed to call us to make that appointment (we aren't holding our breath but you never know, maybe now that she has met us and seen that we are determined . . .). After we exhaust that option, we will switch my PCM to Bethesda. It is only about 2 miles closer to our house, although the opposite way on the Beltway, but frankly, I wouldn't deliver a baby at Belvoir if it was the last place around at this point. I was so not impressed with their standard of patient care. No way I want one of those nurses "helping" me! Hopefully I will have another uncomplicated pregnancy, and I just won't go in for many appointments. That's the Fort Belvoir way: "Promoting Substandard Prenatal Care By Mandating Unreasonable Driving Times". I feel like that is a more accurate motto than the one on their wall: "Dedicated to Service". What??????

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Since Blogger was being so cooperative and letting me post pictures, I thought I'd better post a few of Anna. These were taken today, and she is wearing the most adorable little jumper and onesie. I will say, if I may, that she is not the most cooperative of subjects, and I don't see modeling in her future, LOL! These pictures are blurry because I had a very hard time getting her to stop moving! In the first picture, she has shoved some toy in her mouth, hence the wide-open pose. Having something in her hands was the only way I could get her to stop crawling, though, and you can see her crawling out of the picture down below. Look at her expression: "What do you want? I'm busy!"

Happy Birthday, Caleb!!!

Caleb is 5 years old today! His specially requested birthday dinner was spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread. We had sorbet (raspberry and lemon!) for the birthday boy, as well as ice cream for the rest of us after dinner. I haven't made the cake yet. We'll bring that to Bible study on Friday to celebrate with our friends there. I should say I haven't made the cakes, plural yet--we've finally worked out that I am going to make a butterfly cake, a ladybug cake, and a caterpillar cake, each one not being too big. Plenty of bugs at that party, LOL!

Here is a grainy picture of Caleb starting to open his presents. He got a video and a new sleeper from Grandma and Grandpa B., a game from Grandma and Grandpa G., 2 great knight-themed books from Aunt Amy and Uncle Jason, and a watch from us. He was pretty thrilled with it all, as you can see by his radiant smile! He has been so anxiously awaiting his birthday for such a long time, and then today he was so anxiously awaiting his presents! It was very hard to make it through church, the afternoon, AND dinner before opening them!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bad News

**Update below**

We were told today that our waiver was denied. Bob asked the secretary if we could meet with Col. Canestrini so that he could explain his bad decision to us before we appeal it. She said he would call us tonight, but he did not. Bob then called again to ask if we could set up an appointment to meet with Col. Canestrini to discuss this, and she said she would call us back when she had looked at his calendar. She never called back either. Hmmmm. . . And all this after waiting 3 weeks to hear. I'm beginning to think they don't care.

So we are going to pack everyone up tomorrow afternoon and make the long journey to Fort Belvoir to try to see this elusive god-like Col. Canestrini, supreme ruler and decision-maker of the waiver department. I mean really. Time is sort of of the essence here. I'm already 14 or 15 weeks along and have seen no one, and with the appeals process sure to be a long, drawn-out thing, there is really no hope of seeing anyone in the near future, especially if we can't get all the info we need to actually make the appeal. We tried to get Constance the secretary to fax us a copy of the denial, but--how convenient for her--she doesn't have it. No, apparently the document leaves with lightening-quick speed, unlike anything else that happens in the office, and goes to some other office, and those people were not answering their phones. I am sure that Col. Canestrini will not be there tomorrow, and probably neither will Constance, but at least we can make our objections known in person and also try to set up appointments to talk with whoever up his chain of command we need to talk to for the appeal. Since the Fort Belvior hospital is apparently full of people who do not return phone calls or even answer their phones, it appears that the face-to-face approach is going to be the way to go. And then we will have a clear report on the amount of time it actually takes to get from our house to the hospital, albeit in non-rush hour traffic. Of course, there's always the drive back too, and that probably WILL be in rush hour, so we are sure to get good sample data.

**Update: We didn't go to Belvoir this afternoon. Bob had hoped to be able to be home by 1:30, but it was after 2:00. Since it's an hour to get there, we figured the Col. might very well be leaving, and his lazy secretary (who never did call us back, by the way) would no doubt be off getting her nails done or something too. So the new plan is to go Monday afternoon, when hopefully we'll be able to get an earlier start on things. Which just leaves the weekend for me to stew.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's New?

1. We have a "new" foosball table. When Bob was leaving to take the boys to soccer practice Thursday, he noticed our neighbor a few houses up putting a nice-looking foosball table out for trash. He called to see if we could have it, and the neighbor said sure. So after practice he and the boys brought it home. Well, it's one of those "many games in one" tables, so the foosball part actually sits on top of a poll table, which is the part with the legs. The pool part is pretty much shot to pieces, but never fear! Bob got the bright idea to set the foosball part on top of his old USAFA trunk (use #1082 for those things). It fits great, and, even better, it is now exactly the right height for the boys! How great is that?! The boys are loving it.

2. I was looking forward to a relaxing Tuesday where Jonathan, Anna, and I could run some errands while the boys were at co-op, but it was not to be. Monday afternoon a woman called who was "aiding" (in their co-op, the morning is split into 2 parts--one half is the "teaching" part, or the unit study, and the second part is the "aiding" time, or character building time. It's when they have lunch, have show and tell, play organized games, and work on a character trait.) She was supposed to aide for the first and second graders, but her nursery-aged daughter was sick, so she couldn't do it. Would I be able to? I hemmed and hawed, but I really didn't have any plans, so I said yes. At least she had everything all set for the time. It was pretty exhausting--those first-graders were like little pieces of popcorn, everyone popping to a different place at one time! Whew! So once again I had to come home and take a big nap in the afternoon. The good news is that the lady is going to work for me in February when I am planning to go to Ohio to visit.

3. Last night we had our annual "Night at Chuck E. Cheese", which the boys look forward to with great expectations and excitement. The other 3 families in our Bible study were there, and later on 2 of the (big) families from co-op came in (each has 9 kids). The boys had a great time! This year some people came before trick or treating, and there were some yucky costumes. Usually there are only the cute kinds of costumes because the people who come are trying to escape the gory parts too. Oh well.

4. Since I couldn't run errands yesterday, we went to Trader Joe's this afternoon with everyone. That store is just not big enough for all of us! To reward me for my troubles, I bought a 73% dark chocolate bar. Yum. And you can all applaud me for my self-control since I only ate half of it when we got home, and I also ate a banana.

5. The new formula has not been an unqualified success. Anna still spits up with about the same frequency, I would say, although the output is less. It also smells slightly less nasty and fermented. So is that worth paying about 3 times as much?! I don't know. Anna is not bothered by this, however. She started pushing herself to sitting on Monday, and yesterday, she pulled herself to standing for the first time. She is so motivated to be on the same level as her adored older brothers (who are less than thrilled with her little face and eager hands peeking over the coffee table, grabbing at their papers, LOL).

6. Today Bob called to see what on earth is happening with our waiver request, which we sent in 3 weeks ago. Well, it is still in the "command suite", whatever that means. Apparently it has to go through "several channels", and the first person it was supposed to go through was on vacation for awhile. And she has no replacement, so everything just sort of sat. We have no idea when we'll hear something. Elisabeth Elliot's daily devotional was on patience a few days ago. Here is an excerpt. Obviously this is where God is working on me!

Waiting requires patience--a willingness calmly to accept what we have or have not, where we are or where we wish we were, whomever we live or work with. To want what we don't have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God.
Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. "Peace I leave with you; I do not give to you as the world gives" (John 14:27, NEB). What sort of peace has He to give us? A peace which was constant in the midst of ceaseless work (with few visible results), frequent interruptions, impatient demands, few physical comforts; a peace which was not destroyed by the arguments, the faithlessness, and hatred of the people. Jesus had perfect confidence in His Father, whose will He had come to accomplish. Nothing touched Him without His Father's permission. Nothing touches me without my Father's permission. Can I not then wait patiently? He will show the way.