Monday, June 30, 2008

OB Orientation

This morning I had my OB orientation. It started about a half an hour late, at 9:30, because there was an accident on the Beltway and tons of people were late. Fortunately the accident didn't affect my travel time, and I had a book, so I just enjoyed the air conditioning, LOL.

I actually enjoyed the orientation more than I thought I would. It turns out that people from Annapolis, Ft. Meade, and Ft. Detrick all have to come to Bethesda to deliver, and so although they can have their routine appointments at satellite clinics at their bases, they were also at this thing. The nice OB nurse realized they weren't coming back for any more "classes", so she laid out how everything is done, even in labor and delivery, so that was very useful and practical. I know I'm not coming back for an all-day childbirth class, jsut so I can get a tour and figure out l&d procedures!

What did I learn? Hmmm . . . Bethesda has a level 3 NICU (hope we don't need that); they have 23 beds in their ward (usually only half are used as labor/recovery rooms, and then they move people to another room on the other side of the ward for the rest of the time); midwives deliver only Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings (otherwise it's residents--this is a teaching hospital, like Wright-Pat), and children are welcome at all OB appointments, and even at the delivery itself, should I so choose (no, LOL). It's good to have all the phone numbers I should need, and to know what to do if I should get something like strep (call the OB acute care number), or go into labor in the middle of a snowstorm (call L&D, who will refer you to the nearest hospital and fax your records there).

We made up our OB records too--we all filled out all the info for ourselves. After this baby, if we have anymore, Nathan will get knocked off the history part, because they only want info on your previous 6 births! LOL! They did not disappoint--we did have to fill out the crazy mental health survey. You have to read the statements very carefully. The answer choices are "strongly disagree, disagree, nuetral, agree, and strongly agree". One statement will be something like, "I feel very supported in this pregnancy by my partner" ["strongly agree"], and then the next statement will be "I have often considered leaving this relationship" [ack!! "strongly DISagree"!]. The whole thing is pretty funny. Here are some more sample statements: "I feel like a total failure" followed by "someone in my life makes me feel good about myself" (awwww)/ Or how about "my parents frequently shouted at each other and threw things" or "I can think of several situations where it would be okay for a wife to slap her husband's face". LOL!! Pretty funny!

Anyhow, I got blood work done, scheduled my first appointment for Aug. 1, and picked up a prescription for prenatal vitamins. Bob held down the fort with the kids and the A/C guys. We're still talking about our options with that. Let's just say that whatever we choose will be pricey, LOL. Today was a much cooler, less humid day, however, so that was a real blessing.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm melting . . . .

Okay, it's not all that bad. It's like 84 degrees in here. But I have found over the course of the past 2 days that heat makes me feel much queasier. Also, the kitchen, since it has no fan, is a particularly warm, still room. Let's just say there's not been much cooking or cleaning up being done of the kitchen. Sitting on the couch in the family room, under the ceiling fan, and also under the catwalk where the slightly cooler air from upstairs comes down, is comfortable. If I can just sit there and do nothing, all is well.

We have 2 different companies coming over Monday morning to give us estimates. Then we'll hopefully make some decisions, like which unit to replace, if not both, and whether or not we should also replace the furnace while we're at it. The good thing is that Monday morning I have my "OB orientation" (just in case I've forgotten what it's like to be pregnant, LOL) at Bethesda from 9:00 to 12:00, so Bob was already planning to be home with the kids, and he can deal with the A/C guys. Yay! Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying 3 hours of air conditioned comfort at Bethesda, plus the car trip, LOL. I guess it's worth it to hear about what I should be eating and make sure I'm not in an abusive relationship, and all those other nosy questions military installations can ask.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Sad Farewell

It appears that our main floor air conditioner has bitten the dust. We knew its demise was imminent, as it had already stopped cooling earlier in the season. We had it recharged with freon May 6, and we hoped it would limp out the rest of this summer. It was not to be, unfortunately, and today it started blowing out tepid air again. Sigh. I guess we know what we will be spending our stimulus check on! Our upstairs one is actually not doing so well either, so the debate is which one we should replace now. The theory is that if we replace the upstairs one, it will be more comfortable for sleeping, and the cool air would fall down to the main floor.

I am thankful I am in my first trimester, and not my third! And at least we have a nice, cool basement. But I still think this is going to have to be something we move on sooner rather than later. Right now, we're all heading to the library.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A brave new world . . .

We entered a new world yesterday . . . the world of orthodontia. We had a consult with the only orthodontist who accepts the Tricare dental plan anywhere near us, and fortunately he and his whole office were very nice. The problem is that Luke has (forgive me if I get too technical) a "very narrow mouth". I guess this goes along with his narrow feet? On the x-ray we could see that his teeth are stacked up 3 deep in places, with the permanent ones struggling to find places to come up. One of his top teeth has erupted WAY up high in his gum, so you can't even see it unless he smiles really big.

So the first order of business is an expander on the top of his mouth. After some preliminary appointments, he'll have the device put in Aug. 11. Then I'll have a key, and I'll twist it every night to expand the thing for several months. That should open up some room up top, and hopefully things will start to right themselves. He'll have to have braces then to bring the high tooth down, and the front 2 teeth up a bit.

On the bottom, he'll need to have a few baby teeth pulled. We'll probably do that in the next few weeks. He will need braces down there as well. All this stuff involving his mouth before all his permanent teeth come in is "phase 1", which does not inspire confidence that our foray into orthodontia will be brief, LOL. Hopefully all this work will allow the rest of his permanent teeth to come in not too crookedly. "Phase 1" will cost us about $1300, which could be worse, that's for sure. Of course, there are probably at least 2 other kids who share Luke's narrow mouth, and I'm not sure that Nathan and the other 2 like him won't need some kind of braces when they get a little older. At least he doesn't need anything right now!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Nathan!!!

Nathan is 11 years old today! He picked chicken salad on croissants for lunch, and kielbasa/potato soup for dinner, with ice cream for dessert. He's really growing up, too. He'll choose to read instead of play in the basement sometimes, much to Luke's chagrin. He pitches in when he can see I need help, especially if it involves cooking. He helps out tremendously with the girls. The reason I'm not intimidated by having more babies is that I know I have Nathan (and Luke . . . and Caleb . . .) to help with them! It makes such a huge difference.

I see so much of his dad in Nathan. He is a "think outside the box" problem solver, and he loves to play games. In fact, he is working on his own game right now, some complicated blend of Monopoly and Risk. He has a mechanical mind like Bob too, and he loves to help his dad in his projects around the house.

Speaking of projects, you may have wondered what Nathan was sitting in (or not--just humor me). It was one of Bob's projects last week, although he put it together after the kids went to bed one night, so they didn't help. It's a shaded swing for our front yard! We LOVE it. It doesn't have cushions that we would need to worry about if it got windy or rainy (because we are not the kind of people who can deal with those sorts of cushions, LOL). It is so wonderful to have a place to relax and swing in the shade as we watch the kids play out front.

Bob's second project is still on-going, and that is pressure-washing the deck. He bought a pressure-washer at Sam's, and he got quite a bit of the deck done last Saturday. Wow--what a difference that makes! The contrast between washed and unwashed is amazing! After he finishes washing it, he'll go ahead and stain it. We'll practically have a new deck!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Celebrating Nathan and Jonathan

Tonight we took a cake to Bible study to celebrate Jonathan's birthday (June 2), and Nathan's birthday (June 24). They picked "Lego Anakin" from Star Wars Episode 2. Actually, Nathan wanted a brooding Anakin straight from his Complete Star Wars book, but I told him I absolutely did not do (real) people, so this Anakin was a compromise. I had to use the case of a Lego Star Wars computer game that Dan and Melinda got them for their birthdays as a model! If you look closely, you can notice the little braid thing denoting his "Padawan" status there to the left of his head. Attention to detail--I'm all about that. I guess I should have gotten a side shot. I was proud of that braid. We took home from Bible study the top part of his head--his eyes and hair. That's it. All that work and then *poof* the cake is inhaled in about 5 minutes total!

Here is a picture of the 2 happy birthday buddies. Nathan blew out 11 candles on Anakin's body, and Jonathan blew out 5 candles on his lightsaber. Worked out great! I loved that I could just make one cake for the 2 boys. Maybe this baby will be a boy, and be a February birthday buddy with Luke . . . that would be nice! Now I'm all done with cakes until Caleb's birthday in November. Yay!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fun For the Week

The week was more than just the day at Bethesda! On Monday afternoon, our neighbors had a little shower for Elli, the German lady down the street. She is expecting their third child in 2 weeks. The other 2 kids are older--14 and 10--and the 14 year old, Julia, is so excited about the coming baby. A few months ago Julia (she's the one on the left in the picture) decided she really wanted to have an American baby shower for her mom, and she wanted to make a cake for it with me. She picked out a pacifier shape. I wasn't sure if any of this would come to fruition, but when we got back from the trip, Julia said she and her dad wanted to have the shower Monday afternoon. I baked the cakes Sunday afternoon, and then Julia and 2 of her friends came over Monday afternoon to help decorate them. We had such a great time! I put the cakes together in the pacifier shape, and then I started putting the frosting on. The girls wanted to help do that, so I let them. They quickly discovered it's not quite as easy as it looks! I put the frosting on the part that would go in a baby's mouth (a giant baby, LOL), and then we made green frosting, and they started putting the finishing touches on. At this point, they had been politely enthusiastic about the cake--"It looks pretty, like a flower. It tastes delicious." (I had been letting them eat the parts I cut off when shaping it.) But as they decorated it themselves, they became much more enthusiastic! "This is the most beautiful cake ever! I wish we never had to cut it! This is my favorite cake ever! I love it!" They also wanted to put as much frills on as possible. Julia said that at first she didn't think it would look that good with the border and the dots they put on, but then she realized it would look great with as much stuff as they could put on! LOL! I told them they reminded me of the boys when they decorate Christmas cookies, and how they think as many sprinkles as possible made the best cookie!

Anyhow, the cake was a huge hit. The neighbors liked it too! Then we played some games--the one where everyone cuts off a length of string that they think will fit around the mom's belly, and the same mad-libs game that we played at the shower on Saturday. The games were fun too. Let me tell you, Elli is nothing but belly! The smallest string believable was closest for her! I think she's as big now as I am! It helps that she is really tall and long-legged, but still . . . sigh.

We're slowly getting back into the school groove, but yesterday we started something else fun--the recorder! I really want the boys to learn to read music, and piano just isn't going to happen (unless one child really expresses an interest, but that hasn't happened so far). The recorder is cheap and is also something that with my clarinet skills I can certainly teach! I have recorders for everyone, but Nathan, Luke, and Caleb are the ones that are really learning. Jonathan and Anna are mainly tooting their own horns, LOL. Everyone is having a good time, although Luke is predictably frustrated that he is not immediately an expert. I did have to banish all recorders to the basement yesterday afternoon, though. We're working on part of "Ode to Joy" right now--a part that only uses 5 notes, LOL. The book said that groups of 4 to 9 recorders are called "consorts". Hey, we've got our own made-to-order consort!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I'm tired! Today we went to Bethesda. By that I do not mean "this morning, we went to Bethesda" or anything like that. We got to Bethesda at 9:15, and we left Bethesda at 3:30, so we definitely made a day of it! We started off with 4 well-child appointments (Caleb, Jonathan, Anna, and Grace), plus a follow-up on Jonathan's arm at ortho. That took the whole morning. Then we went up to the ID card office so I could get my ID card renwered. We had to wait awhile, but at least we got it. We could have waited longer, that's for sure, so it wasn't too bad.

Then Bob took the kids down to the food court for lunch, and I tried to get a pregnancy test at the lab. At all the other bases we've been too, you just walk into the lab and request a pregnancy test--no appointment needed. Here, you need an appointment, though. I could hardly stand the thought of coming back with everyone just so someone could tell me to take a pregnancy test, so I went over to OB to see if they could order the test for me. They could, but they said that I would then have to talk to Family Practice to get the referral to be seen by OB once the test was positive. So I trooped back over to the lab, took the test, then went and ate lunch myself.

I met Bob and the kids at Immunizations, where we had to wait quite a while. All 4 kids needed shots, so we all went back to the room. It was a big room, with several tables for giving shots. Within minutes, the room was filled with the outraged crying of several parties. Caleb and Jonathan both cried so loudly, I could hardly believe it! When Anna and Grace joined in, it was quite a choir. When we all departed, I'm sure the techs all appreciated their nice quiet room a bit more. Anna is still grimaced and grabbing at her leg. What a drama queen! She only got one shot!

After the immunization drama, we tried to find my family practice clinic. You might think this would be easy, but we actually wandered all over the hospital, going to 3 different places to find the right place! Apparently they have started a new system, so not everyone is clear on who goes where. At the right place, though, the receptionist lady was so nice. She loved our big family--"All Bible names! That's wonderful! Everyone can tell right away where you stand!"--and she was so excited that we were having another. What an encouragement! She told me the result was indeed positive, and they are getting the referral into the system. Yay!

Then we had to head back to the pharmacy to pick up Caleb's Zyrtec and Singulair. The lady told us that DOD pharmacies are no longer stocking Zyrtec, since you can buy it over the counter now, so we either had to buy it at a civilian place or go back to the doctor and get the prescription changed. Argh! But we trooped back over to pediatrics to try to get the new prescription. After waiting a little while, that was done, so we had to go back up to the pharmacy. There we had to wait another hour to get the Claritin. I was so glad when they finally called our number to pick it up. The girls were getting very cranky, and of course they were only expressing what we were all feeling! Poor Nathan and Luke, being dragged around the hospital all day long, when they didn't even have any appointments! I was thankful Bob was with us. Aside from getting the new ID card, we wouldn't have been able to do everything else either. I would have collapsed into a frustrated, hormonal pile of tears at all the running around!

The people that we dealt with at Bethesda were all so nice, however, and it really was a nice experience. The pediatrics doctors especially were just wonderful. They were great with the kids, they seemed like they really enjoyed kids, and--get this--they all spoke easy-to-understand-English! It was so nice to know that I was understanding everything. I wish we had been able to change over a long time ago!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Baby Shower

This morning I hosted a baby shower at our house for a lady at church, Margaret. I am in charge of helping plan baby showers for our church, and I agreed to this date before we left for the trip, but as we drove back home, I was getting a little intimidated about hosting something so soon as we got back.

I shouldn't have worried! It went great, and everyone had a fun time, myself included. It was also a good excuse to get things cleaned up and put away after the trip!

I made a breakfast casserole that we had in Utah. The day after my cousin's wedding, Sarah's parents hosted a brunch for family so we could see my cousin and Sarah once more before they drove off to their new home. Sarah's mom made this delicious egg casserole, and she had said how easy it was to make. I remembered this and asked her for the recipe Thursday. It was a big hit, and several people asked me for the recipe too! I'm not a real big fan of breakfast casseroles with bread in them--too soggy--so whenever I find a new one that doesn't have that, I'm so excited!

I also made chocolate-covered strawberries, which were also a big hit. Other people brought muffins, quick bread, cheesecake, fruit, cheese and crackers, and a few other dishes to fill in. Yummy!

Again, games were a challenge. I didn't want to repeat the games I did at the last shower , so I had to be creative. I did a matching game first--match the quotes from 10 classics childrens books, like Go, Dog, Go, The Little Engine That Could, Goodnight, Moon and others. Then we did a mad-libs style game to write the "birth story" for Margaret. That was hilarious! I love mad-libs. When we were at the party store on Thursday picking up plates and napkins, I perused a book of baby games, and that was one of the suggestions. I figured I could write my own, rather than spend money to buy the book, and it turned out great!

While I was having fun with adult conversation and good food, Bob took all the kids to Target to buy a new bike for Luke, and then on to Ci-Ci's for all-you-can-eat pizza and dessert. So they had a good day too.

Well, a thunderstorm is kicking up, so I must go. Hopefully a good storm will lessen the oppressive humidity. Ah, to be back in the west . . .

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some Final Thoughts on The Big Drive

1. Driving through South Dakota in June is the perfect place and time to listen to The Long Winter (of the Little House on the Prairie Series). In fact, I wished we had another day so we could take a little side trip up to De Smet, where it all happened. The interstate is about 50 miles south. Sigh. Of course, once we got home, and I had to throw away the last odds and ends that didn't get pitched before we left, I felt terribly guilty because I knew those leftovers would have fed the Ingalls family for 2 weeks, LOL.

2. We became efficient car travelers, bettering our previous stopping records. We generally stopped once every 4 hours or so. We quit stopping for lunch when we got to Yellowstone because the weather was too cold. I would just make sandwiches in the van, pass around chips, and cut up apples with a plastic knife (not recommended. Next trip I will bring a regular knife, LOL). Then we decided that saved so much time, we started eating sandwiches in the car the whole rest of the trip. That way we could just make a quicker potty/gas stop. Of course, now Anna expects lunch in the car, so when we ran errands today, she kept fussing around "Lunch! Lunch!"

3. We had no cell phone coverage at all through the entire state of South Dakota.

4. The north-west corner of Illinois is practically deserted, and there are hardly any gas stations or places to eat there. Who knew? I guess we did have cell phone coverage, but I still much preferred South Dakota, as far as isolated places go.

5. This is not technically about driving, but it turns out that Anna, for all her fears, loves to go swimming. I was sure she'd be terrified of pools, but she was not at all. She keeps us on our toes. Grace, on the other hand, was not a fan of the pool. She didn't like the echoing noise and the getting splashed, so she pretty much cried whenever we even had to just walk through the pool area.

6. We did indeed pick up the PSP that Caleb won on our way back through Davenport, Iowa. Now we are wondering what in the world we will do with this thing, since we're not big into watching movies at all, much less individually, we would never let any of the kids use it to access the internet, and the games seem to be very expensive for it. Hmmm.

7. It's a good thing we're having another baby, and so we will eventually be forced to buy a 12 passenger van. I think this was the last long trip we could make, all crammed together in the Sienna! Nathan and Luke's legs are getting too long to be smooshed into the back seat, and when you add in a backpack for every child (except Grace, whose toys and books just floated randomly around the car--wait, everyone else's stuff did too, since people were not so faithful about returning things to their backpack . . . but I digress), and a cooler, plus a grocery sack of bread, chips, paper towels, etc . . . it was pretty crowded in there. I won't even TALK about the back part of the van, where the suitcases, pack-n-plays, swimming stuff, etc., had to placed with surgical precision in a complicated design to all fit. Whew! I sure was glad to get all that stuff out of the van!

8. There is no better way to truly appreciate our beautiful country than a long car trip across it. The small towns have a lot of character, and I love seeing all the different types of houses and farms. We took a spontaneous side trip to drive through Badlands National Park, which was really amazing to look at. On our way back up to the highway, we saw a sod dugout house, just like the Ingalls family lived in in On the Banks of Plum Creek! Whenever I hear liberals blathering on about how we're running out of room, I always think that they haven't driven much through the middle of our country. It's so beautiful . . . and empty. I recommend long car trips!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We're back!!!!!

After 5600 miles in the car, we have finally returned to D.C. I'll be honest--it was hard to come back east! The temperatures and humidity rose, the speed limit decreased, the horizon shrank, and everything got more crowded and squished together. But we're looking forward to seeing friends at Bible study on Friday and at church on Sunday, and it was wonderful to sleep in our own beds again. We're all pretty fried! Now to start the laborious unpacking process, my least favorite part of traveling . . .

Yesterday we left Amy's house in Ohio, but before we left, we found out we are going to have a more permanent momento from this trip! Probably around the beginning of February . . . How exciting!!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Oh, give me a home . . . "

We had a wonderful time at Yellowstone, even though the weather wasn't totally cooperative. We saw TONS of wildlife--bison with their babies, elk, deer, foxes, bald eagles, and big horn sheep. We watched Old Faithful erupt, which was neater than I expected. It kept gushing out these little amounts, and I was getting pretty tired of waiting around. But we were all very glad we waited for the big eruption--wow!

We drove today through a lot of rain, but the Lord was faithful to protect us. The Wyoming scenery was beautiful, even with the clouds. I guess I'm just a western girl at heart. I really like the big, open spaces.

Tonight and tomorrow night we're at a Comfort Inn in Rapid City, SD. Our room is amazing--it has a balcony overlooking the pool! It's the only room to have this! We feel like the royal family when we step out on it, LOL. The hotel also has a nice business center practically next door to our room, which is where I am while we wait for Grace to fall asleep. She slept a lot in the car, and so she is not really tired right now. I'm glad we bought the new baby monitor before we left. It's working like a charm, and it's nice to not be in there with her while she rustles around!

You may be interested in an update on Jonathan. Bob and Jonathan got home a little after 4:00 Monday afternoon, with Jonathan's arm in a splint. The doctor said actually his arm was looking pretty good, and we should see the doctor at Bethesda in a week when we get home for a follow-up. Bob showed me the picture of the x-ray, and the lower bone is still broken a little bit, so it does still hurt Jonathan. He's doing fine with the splint on, and we can take that off if needed, which is nice. So he is healing, but it is just taking a long time. He did have extensive fractures of both arm bones in the lower arm, so it makes sense that it is taking a little while to heal. Jonathan is happy that he can bend his elbow now!

Well, Grace still hasn't fallen asleep, but Bob has returned from his swim, so I must say goodnight! We're praying that the clouds lift at least a little tomorrow so we can actually see Mount Rushmore!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!!

Jonathan is 5 years old today! What a way to celerate a birthday--on vacation, surrounded by extended family! Jonathan was 2 weeks overdue when I was finally induced. I told him this morning how glad we all were that he finally decided to make his grand appearance 5 years ago today! He was my biggest baby too--9 pounds, 6 ounces.

We had hoped to get Jonathan's cast off this morning. Bob spent a lot of time on the phone last week with Tricare and Bethesda, trying to get a referral to a civilian provider out here to do it. But Bethesda took forever to get their referral in, and so it hasn't been processed by Tricare . . . the usual sort of thing you expect from Tricare. Bob and Jonathan are at the doctor's right now (1:15 PM MDT), but I think it will be VERY expensive if we get it done without having the referral already in hand. We're considering taking the cast off ourselves. Don't laugh! It's stinky, and it's already been on a week longer than it should have been! We won't be home until middle of next week, so it will be awhile until we can get back to Bethesda. We might stick him in the bathtub and see what happens . . .

Whatever we decide, we are still going to try to make it to Yellowstone this evening. When we leave my aunt's house, we'll be out of computer contact for awhile. After Yellowstone, we are heading over to Mt. Rushmore, and then we'll eventually make our way back to Amy's house for 2 days, and then on home. And on the way to Amy's we will try to pick up the PSP from Golden Corral, that is, if we can find it again, and if they kept it for us, like they said they would!

**Update** After long conversations with both Tricare and Jonathan's PCM doctor at Bethesda, she authorized him to go to the emergency room to have the cast off, since it was way past time. They did x-rays there and discovered that only one of the bones in his lower arm is fully healed, so they are going to put on a new cast. The old cast was so loose, and Jonathan got his arm caught in the screen door a few days ago, which caused him a lot of pain. That might have been enough to jar something loose. The new cast should fit better for now, so hopefully that will do the trick. I told Bob to at least wash his hand before they put the new cast on! Jonathan was in a lot of pain once they cut the old cast off, so hopefully they won't make him wait too long. It's now after 3:00 local. I'm not sure when we'll get to Yellowstone, if at all today.