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17 posts from May 2011

May 30, 2011

I'll spare you the photo-op, but today

I did the unthinkable.  And, yes, I know it's Memorial Day and I should not be writing about trite/trivial stuff, but that being said...

As we were getting ready for our afternoon at the pool, I realized my only swimsuits were two sizes too big, not very flattering to begin with, really not for swimming and I was a little depressed.  I wanted to open up a drawer and magically find something that would make me look good (well, decent), feel good and not scream "mom swimsuit" the minute I slipped into it.  In the second drawer, I found a two piece that I ordered on a whim two months ago.  

The weight had started dropping off, I saw this suit on Zulily and threw caution to the wind.  It arrived, I tried it on, it seemed a little tight and I tossed it in the drawer and forgot about it.  Then today I picked it up and thought, "What the heck?  I can try it on, no one has to see me in it!"

Try it on I did...and I looked in the mirror and it didn't look quite so bad.  So, I called Peter upstairs saying I needed something and his reaction was, well....he was happy.  In fact, it gave me so much confidence, I realized I could actually just wear it to the pool.

Now this might sound easy for some, but I have had body issues as long as I can remember and I find that covering up myself makes them all just go away.  Well, they seem to go away.  My feet are too big, my wrists and knees too knobby, I've been too thin, too fat, you name it, I'm sure I've agonized over it.  You'd think by my age, I'd just learn to get over it, but I have a feeling from all of the beauty magazines out there (that no, I don't bother buying anymore), that I am not the only one.

I thought about it long and hard...I could put on the mom suit.  I would be well-covered, no worries about my skin, no frets about that which we don't mention, I wouldn't think about my still a tiny bit flabby thighs or my stomach (which might actually be in the best shape since I don't know when).  Or I could say what the h-e-double hockey sticks, quit worrying, get a life and just put the bikini on (along with tons of zinc oxide for my chest) and go make my entrance at the pool.  I always worry about looking funny or people staring at me, but for all I know they don't give a darn, so why should I?

So I didn't fret and my bikini-clad self found it's way to the pool.  Not only did the world not end, I'm pretty sure it's still spinning.  

Yep, it really does sound a bit silly and self-absorbed...then again, finding the self-confidence to do anything new is sometimes highly underrated.  No worries, not dusting off my dancing shoes...yet.



May 27, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.



 Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  







May 24, 2011

Making headway?

At long last, it appears (I know, I know) that we might be moving toward closure on one of the bills. Despite the fact it is the smallest, the $3,170 is actually the largest thorn in our side.  If we hadn't been dealing with it for 5 months and if we hadn't been promised how many times that it would be handled correctly the next time around...

It appears Peter finally reached someone in a supervisory sort of position, at least more so than before. Now there are no guarantees, but she (said supervisor) is forwarding everything to Quality Assurance.   Not only was she appropriately appalled by the situation, but she was even...apologetic.

I had somehow forgotten this was all going on, so was surprised when I received the text from Peter yesterday.  Not that didn't expect him to follow up, but I wasn't sure anything was going to happen on the other end.  When I asked for details, he texted, "She was so thankful that I was calm and didn't tell."

Uh-oh, didn't tell?  Are you kidding me, I blogged about it just the other day in pretty graphic detail (minus the hospital's name, which I will happily share off-line)!  I wrote him back for a clarification and it turns out she was thankful he didn't "yell".  Well, yes, because you talked to the man who puts the "D" in Diplomatic (and, yes, the "S" in Security)...ask anyone.  Rather than just reaching  a person and promptly either screaming or bursting into tears, he calmly went through the entire situation (mind you, for the 4th time) and we might now actually have a resolution.

Might...and if we don't?  You'll hear the primal scream wherever you are in the world should I open up a bill from them next month and find anything more than a $75 co-pay...and then Mr. Diplomacy will be at it again...

May 21, 2011

The third time...

is NOT the charm.  Today, for the fourth time in four months, we received a bill from the hospital where I had my original surgery.  As I mentioned last month, they have successfully billed us incorrectly three times.  They have refused to believe that we know how long I was in the hospital and are still charging us $3,170 that we absolutely, positively do not owe.  Ask our old insurance company, even THEY agree that we are in the clear.

Since discussing this with the billing department three times has gotten us nowhere, Peter is going to try a different method on Monday. For all we know, it was incorrectly coded in the doctor's office.  Given the other mistakes they made with scheduling, and oh, say, attitude, this would not surprise us in the slightest.  Just a few of the reasons I am so happy that I am no longer seeing that doctor.

Now I'm nearly at the point of laughing myself silly over the whole thing, but I'm not quite there yet. Why?  Well, because including the above amount, bills totalling the outrageous amount of:

about $52,000

are still outstanding.  So, really, the $3K is a drop in the proverbial bucket.  Now you must be wondering how I haven't lost my mind and why I am not sitting here tearing out my hair (well, what you can't see...). Perhaps because as far as we understand, we owe little to any of that total.

The above amount includes $17K for the implant exchange for which hospital has yet to bill our OLD insurance company, $3,170 for the above-mentioned idiocy, $8K still being debated by the insurance company vs. the plastic surgeon (a continuation of care issue) and (are you ready for this) $23K (plus) for the radiation treatments that were incorrectly coded (at a different hospital) as being treatments for Peter rather than for me.  Three appointments were submitted correctly, but the rest (despite me giving them my insurance card with my i.d. number) were incorrectly submitted and thus rejected as they need the "appropriate procedure or diagnosis for sex."

I did get a tiny laugh over the diagnosis for sex bit, but other than that, I'm really over hospitals either not wanting to bill or not billing correctly. Despite the fact that I probably should lose my mind over the insanity of it all, I am trying to maintain a selse of calm and look at it from a different point of view.  I've realized I have many questions and not sure that anyone can answer, but here goes:

  • All of that being said (or written), how is it that mistakes like the above are made constantly and no one seems to care?  
  • Do they (hospitals, insurance companies, mailmen who deliver said bills) not understand how financial issues stress people out while dealing with medical issues* or getting on with their lives after said issues?  
  • Do they not understand that we have better things to do than correct their mistakes month after month after month? 
  • How is it people aren't fired for continually making said mistakes?
  • Do hospitals not want their money?  
  • Is there a statute of limitations on hospitals submitting claims to insurance carriers?  (No joke, I am actually worried about the old insurance carrier rejecting the implant exchange hospital's claim since they have waited so darn long.)

These are all questions that I think I would love to see answered...then again...


*Just for clarification, I am not actually dealing with medical issues, but KWIM? I am healthy, remember?  I am perfect, got that?  There is no "C" on my chest and hopefully no one else thinks of the topic at hand and then immediately thinks of me...if you do, then stop!



May 20, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.




 Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  




May 18, 2011

USAA Rocks, Part Deux

You may recall (well, or not) an entry from April of 2007.  I had heard about the online check deposit service with  USAA and reminded myself for the billionth time that we needed to join.  Join we did and within minutes had shaved our car insurance bill in half and we were members for life (as are the kids).

Not that we haven't continued to love them throughout the years, whether it be their fabulous homeowner insurance rates, their uber-responsiveness to customer service issues or the whole deposit checks via the iPhone which saves me oodles of time standing in line at a bank.  I thought at some point in time they would stop impressing me...not today.

Saturday morning I received a phone call while I was still sleeping.   I checked the voicemail once I woke up and heard a message from the USAA fraud department.  Apparently, nefarious-looking charges were being tacked onto my debit/credit card.  They noticed the charges, put a hold on my account and called me ASAP.  (Now for those thinking I wasn't being aware and continually checking my account, I was...however, I do actually sleep once in a while and that's when the charges were made.)

I pulled up my card information online and called back as soon as there was little background noise.  I let them know that I did not recognize the charges (made at a Sunoco in San Leandro) and it turns two identical charges were attempted at a Target as the hold was being made.  USAA immediately canceled the card, promised to send me a new one and let me know the charges would be reviewed and hopefully refunded.  Hopefully.

I've heard of some serious damage being done to accounts, so I was happy to learn that the total was only $50.  However, still $50 I did not want to pay, especially for a criminal's gasoline and (likely) junk food purchase.  I checked the account yesterday and learned that the charges had gone through and immediately sent off a note to USAA to inquire about the refund and learn if I should just kiss the money good-bye.

I opened up my mailbox this afternoon and to my surprise, there was my new card.  They promised me a new card in 7-10 business days and instead it arrived in 3.  I went online to activate the card, noticed the balance was different in my debit card account and lo and behold:  the $50 had been refunded.  From the immediate alert to my cell phone to the rapid refund, USAA has made what could have been a nightmare nothing more than a glitch in my weekend.

USAA, you had me at hello....


May 17, 2011

Sorry, Peter...

I know I told you I wouldn't blog about today, but how could I not?



and now....




Happy (14th) Anniversary!  



May 15, 2011

We did


IMG_0036 After dragging myself out of bed at 5:40 a.m. (yes, really!), only having a light breakfast and coffee (only 1 cup!), getting dressed, getting Kelsey up and making her pancakes (semi from scratch and she actually ate a few) and getting Peter and his accoutrement, we headed off to the race.  

Traffic was light and Kelsey noted that nearly ever car on our side of the road held lime-green shirt clad parents, teachers, mentors, grandparents and/or girls.  The closer we got, the more apparent the excitement was in her voice.  

IMG_0039 We arrived well over an hour early and should have explored more (to have more photo ops with our favorite VIP photog, Jack Powers!), but ended up mostly hanging with the group, stretching, taking pictures, stretching and fretting over those running a bit late.  We were finally all set at 7:45 a.m., with all members of Kelsey's school team present and ready to run.  

Photo-9 We were in the second group to start and headed over the minute they announced the Red group.  The course, set on the campus of George Mason University, was long, winding and fairly flat.  The weather was nearly perfect (cool from the rain and nary a hint of humidity).  We started running just moments before we hit the start line and as soon as we ran under, I clicked the starter on my Garmin Forerunner (which I adore, for the record).  

The run?  Absolutely perfect.  I was a bit concerned as Kelsey didn't seem to want to run as much during the practice run last week.  However, her school running turf is patches of grass, patches of weeds and dirt, not exactly an ideal surface.  We also did not have a chance to practice together at home, as we had hoped, as most of my running was at night or during the school day.  

_DSC6217 8x10ppi300_resize Photo-11 We did walk a bit, but not nearly as much as I thought we might. We were in good company with others who were walking bits and pieces of the 5K.  There were also several parents (like me) who were at times pushing their daughter to run just a bit more, because we knew they could do it. 

The first mile flew by and before we knew it, we were getting water.  The second mile was a bit longer, but once we hit 2.0 on my GPS, we were in the homestretch.  Kelsey was getting excited and her grins were bigger, running pace faster and stretches of running longer.  

We finally rounded the last bend and the finish line was in sight.  We sped up, crossed the line, high-fived one another and found Peter while pushing through an immense crowd.  I can't find my watch to verify (hoping perhaps a Little Guy has borrowed it), but but believe our time was about 41 minutes and 7 seconds.  

I can't deny it, despite the fact that we didn't run the entire time, I had an immense feeling of elation. Perhaps it was knowing I could have run, perhaps it was not only being able to keep up with Kelsey, but having a running conversation without huffing and puffing or perhaps it was doing something I didn't think I could.

So, what am I doing to celebrate?  Since I am just all kinds of crazy, I came home, realized there might still be spots for the Army 10 Miler on October 9 and promptly registered for the race.  I've either completely lost my mind or found a new religion (of sorts).  I'm going with the latter for now...

*The head shot is courtesy of Jack Powers (pre-race) and please note, I am not falling over in the running pic, simply leaning in to speak with Kelsey.



May 14, 2011

The Culmination

of 9 weeks of work begins tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.  Kelsey and I will be carbo-loaded and clad in our Girls on the Run t-shirts, shorts and sneakers and ready to take our first steps in the race.  I know what you must be thinking...

  • It's only a 5K.
  • I'm just a buddy runner, therefore I run at her speed.
  • It's not the Boston Marathon, and I've barely broken a 12 minute mile.

Nope, it's not and I do not suspect that we will break any records tomorrow.  In fact, I have a feeling whether do to the overwhelming amount of people or Kelsey running out of steam or who knows what, we could end up walking a portion.  I won't be heartbroken though, because since I started training for this, I've:

  • lost 20 lbs
  • gone down 2 dress sizes (and the current size is loose)
  • increased my lung capacity to I don't know what
  • increased my overall stamina
  • finally feel good about myself for the first time in ages. 

IMG_0034 It's not all about weight or dress size, but those are added bonuses and signs that I am doing something correctly (in my book).  I am at a weight range that I feel is good for me and would perfectly happy here for the rest of my life.  The goal wasn't even weight loss, but feeling healthier overall.  Since 2005, when my mother was admitted to the hospital for (mistaken) heart issues that turned into lung issues that turned into death, I have been trying to get to the real me, not the one hiding behind the extra weight and unhealthy lifestyle.

It has taken nearly 6 years, a lot of ups and downs, but I've finally reached a place where I feel comfortable.  I actually eat well now (I scoff at my old ideas of "healthy"), truly exercise regularly and feel as though I have accomplished something fitness-wise at long last.  It's by no means the end of the road, I will always have maintenance, but it feels so good to be at a place where I feel...good.  

I have also learned that by setting goals for myself (a run with an uber-runner friend in June, another 5K in July...), I have a much better chance of keeping myself in decent shape.  However, now is not the time to stress about the future, but to get a good night's sleep.  Oh, and say a little prayer that the nasty thunderstorm threatening the 5K stays far, far away....


May 13, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.


Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  



May 12, 2011

Nothing makes one fly

out of bed more than hearing the words, "I think I missed the bus!".  Even the most excellently-brewed cup of coffee (or cocoa or *blech* diet coke for some) doth not stir the sleeping like the thought of having to get up, get dressed and be ready to navigate that nasty turn onto the main road in order to get The Cait to school. 

This morning, just as Nick and I were snuggling in bed (yes, I suppose I should have been up, but...), Cait popped into the room and startled me awake with the above words.  Not half an hour before, I had checked on her, found that she was reading on the couch, reminded her of available breakfast foods and wished her a good day before I headed back up stairs for a few more minutes of sleep. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE awful moms who makes sure her kid is up and then promptly goes back to bed....)

After she made her announcement and I realized I had to mobilize, I quickly asked what had happened.  Her answer?  "I don't know, I was in the bathroom and..."  Her voice was faltering and I gave up.  It didn't matter what happened, only that she get to school in a timely manner.  

I quickly woke Kelsey up and alerted her to the situation.  Given that I didn't want two kids missing the bus (that turn onto the main road *shudder*), I made sure she understood that she needed to be completely ready for school when I returned home.

Cait was ready to go prior to the whole missing the bus business (hence my confusion about how she missed the bus), so after convincing Nicholas he did not need his "dressed" (his term for non-jammies) and that he could wear shoes without socks, we headed to the car.  We not only arrived in time for Cait to drop something off in the office for me, but she was a good 20 minutes early.  The real test?  The state of things when we returned home...

I opened the front door, walked up the stairs...

and there was Kelsey, completely ready to go, eating her pear and waiting only on her sandwich for lunch.  No muss, no fuss, no complaining and no missing the bus!

Now despite the fact that I missed that extra 5 minutes of sleep, I realized a few things today:

  • It's the first time Cait has ever missed the bus
  • She didn't oversleep, but we later discerned that she fell asleep while reading on the couch (I know, READING...who could be upset about that?)
  • School starts entirely too early (well, we knew that one!)

And, most importantly:

My kids, for all my haphazard mothering (especially of late) make me extremely proud of them.

Nicholas just went with the flow of things, Kelsey knew what she needed to do and was ready to go when I got back and Caitlin wasn't even late....she just missed the bus.  

I realized, especially recently, I have put a lot of pressure on myself and on them.  It may not seem that way, but trust me, it's festering beneath the surface.  I worry they aren't athletic enough or they don't eat enough healthy food or they eat too much junk food (I know, stupid worry and more on that later).  I worry they watch too much tv (when days go by and it doesn't get turned on) or that they use the computer too much (yet Nicholas has shown me tricks on the iMac).  

IMG_1502 IMG_1503 I fret about not being pushy enough, being too pushy, smothering them, not being a loving enough mother and in general, thinking that I have been a completely cr*ppy parent for the past 7 months.  Then my kid misses the bus and I remember that for all my worries, my kids are insanely independent in many ways and maybe for all of my faults, I did a few things correctly.  I thank my lucky stars for this and take pictures of notes like the above as a reminder of how much they think about their priorities on their own. So maybe I haven't completely screwed them up....yet.

A pretty good (late) Mother's Day gift right there, if I do say so myself.




May 08, 2011

Firetrucks, Peacey-Cars & Candles

Oh, my!

Yes, forget about Mother's Day, while it was terrifical, Nicholas's world was truly rocked tonight when he witnessed his first fire (as in he actually saw the fire vs. just the firemen/trucks).  As we were driving Cait to CCD in Arlington, he pointed out that there was smoke outside.

"Look at the clouds, Dad!  Look at the trees, Dad!  Look at the steam, it's going to burn those trees!"


Peter looked, ready to say that it was just steam (um, yes, coming from where we would have no clue...) and then he realized Nicholas was right...the trees might very well burn.  It wasn't steam, but smoke from a house that had quite literally just started to go up in flames.  Nicholas was beyond pee-your-pants excited and desperately wanted to get a closer look at the fire trucks and peacey cars* that were closing in on the neighborhood.


We decided since Peter was busy getting gas and still had to drop Cait, that it was the ideal time to take a walk.

We arrived in time to witness the house on fire, with flames leaping into the sky (to a 3 year old who loves all things fireman related...this had him stunned beyond belief).  Not one minute later, the hoses were on and the firemen were "burning the fire" in Nicholas's words.  We watched for nearly 20 minutes as they put out the fire, walked around on the rooftop (assuming to ventilate), pulled out insulation and one firefighter crawled in the second story window.  I'm honestly not sure how Nicholas managed to sleep tonight after all of that excitement.


He will not ever forget this Mother's Day nor will I, thanks to the sweet cards and gifts (notice in Kelsey's card I am in my skinny jeans AND wearing my new necklace).  I won't forget breakfast in bed, Peter's homemade card or our dinner at La Caraquena (which took us right back to our days in Caracas).  It was a lovely, lazy day and I enjoyed every minute.

*Peacey-cars are police cars and candles were the flares the police officers used to block the road.

May 07, 2011

Some people

celebrate Mother's Day just on Sunday.  This year, I have 3 days of celebration.  Yesterday was my final radiation treatment and as a treaty-treat, my friend Janet took me out to an early lunch.  She toasted me with a mimosa and this made me promptly want to do what any good mother would do:


take a nap.  

I had decided well in advance that Little Guy should probably go to daycare Friday afternoon as I had a little bit less energy this week (could also be the upped running schedule).  I headed home, slept as much as the gardening service would let me (thanks, guys, for using the edgers just as I nodded off!) and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon not really doing much of anything.

I had yet another chance to celebrate last night at a get-together of FS friends and was toasted once again.  I sipped a whopping 1.25 margaritas (over a 2 hour period) to my utter amazement and like to think I rocked my new skinny jeans (well, Kelsey said they looked like HER skinny jeans...soooo).  A good time was had by all and I went to bed as soon as I got home so I could get an early start on the day today.


Well, I tried to go to bed, but was wide awake the minute I got home.  Of course, my hopes for an early awakening were dashed by Peter letting me sleep in until 11:00 a.m. (I know, what am I, a Caitlin?).   No worries, I wasn't the last one to wake up and when we did get Sleeping Beauty up, it was nearly time for her to primp and preen for her 6 hour birthday party.

As we had promised Kelsey a nature day (minus the gas-guzzling we did to get there), we decided a trip to Great Falls was in order.  Peter wanted it to be an easy day for me so I created a picnic lunch from the Whole Foods hot bar and deli (yum, yum, yum....).  Note: when you go to Great Falls, you should wear your best hiking shoes. Actually, I'm really surprised she didn't wear her knee-high boots...then again, she didn't complain, so who am I to say a word...


We arrived at Great Falls in good time and spent a lovely two hours picnicking and walking the grounds (along with the rest of Northern Virginia) and had the best tour guide in the world:


 We saw peacey-horses, ducks trying to cross the river and cursed those who litter in national parks (really, people, REALLY...smoking in a national park AND leaving the butts behind?).  It was a bit of a downer in an otherwise happy day.  

Kelsey measured herself against past floods and nearly equalled the flood of 1937.  Nicholas was too shy for a photo-op, but would have just been a bit taller than 1996.


While Peter is normally a bit camera shy, he didn't have time to sneak away from this cute shot with the Little Guy.

With another day left, I can only imagine what Sunday holds for me.  Perhaps I will be allowed to wear my gorgeous new "neck-las" from Nicholas (pictures forthcoming) or might have a card or breakfast in bed waiting for me?  Honestly, though, I think the celebration may keep going all week long as I realize that my daily routine will no longer revolve around you-know-what and that is worth its weight in gold.

Happy (early) Mother's Day to all!


May 06, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment(s)' in the comments for all to find and see.



       Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  




May 05, 2011

Fry me, baby, one more time...

and then I am done.  Finished, really, a better word I know, but I think done may also be applicable in this case.  One more hit of the nasty rads and I am out of that office until August when I stop by for nothing more than a follow-up.

Tomorrow will mark the last time I'll have to swing the car wide to get into the parking lot (forget their shining stars, they need a comment box for parking lot design tips) and slink into the center acting like I'm with someone until the happy receptionist shouts, "HI, how you DOING?" loud enough for everyone to know I must be some sort of regular.   One more clicking of my blue card, dropping off of the coat and trying not to barge in on those free-floating spirits who don't like locking their doors while changing.   

One more "pre" set of photos before I flounce out to play WWF anxiously while hunched down so no one knows me (well, with my new hair, they don't).  Actually, I may not play tomorrow, as in celebration, my friend Janet is driving me to AND fro and hopefully we will have a brunchy stop someplace post you-know-what.  So, instead of WWF, we will nervously chat until I am guided back for one last nasty dip in the radiation fry-pan.

I'll alternately freeze and try to meditate  while praying to God I never, ever, ever see the awful fake pictures of cherry blossoms tacked to the ceiling (though I won't...I just won't...).   I'll get up after the 10 minute eternity, amble off to the changing area, slather, stretch, slather, put my gown IN the laundry hamper (unlike the previous occupant of my pre-rad changing room today...thanks for leaving your dirty duds there, not).   It's then time to grab my jacket, alert Janet and oh-so-slickly drop off my blue i.d. card and parking pass before I walk out the door and don't look back, because...

that's all folks!



May 04, 2011


Monday was one of those crazy days.  I forgot to take care of several things, screwed up timing on several things and in general, felt like an idiot.  However, Monday also provided me with newfound knowledge:  according to at least one person, whose opinion is quite important for the next 4.5 years for paperwork issues, I am nothing short of "perfect" in her eyes.

Monday, you see, was the day I was slated to see the new breast surgeon.  She is at the same hospital as Dr. R. and had been long ago recommended to me.  It was not difficult to believe she was a popular choice, as an appointment was extremely hard to come by.   Ironically, the date chosen, May 2, was supposed to be my follow-up with my original surgeon.  Peter wondered if it was even worth it, however, I had already emphatically stated that I was not going back to the previous doctor.  So, it was the new one or nothing.  That solved that and the appointment was kept.

We found the center easily Monday morning and I was tasked with filling out 4 sheets of paperwork, handing over records and films and then nervously waiting until we were called back.  The exam would take place first and then a talk, so I was hopeful this meant that perhaps I would be accepted as a patient...yet having never met her, I was extremely worried about how much I would have to explain and whether I would want to keep her as my doctor.

There is nothing I loathe more than trying to explain life in the Foreign Service to someone who just doesn't get it.  You can talk until you are blue in the face and you can tell they don't get it as they just stare at you.  They don't understand why you want to move, why you need to move, why it's best for your family, or how this little bump in the road really threw you off course.  As I was in the middle of muddling through how I would explain my story, the surgeon walked in.

She introduced herself, sat down and asked for a brief history.  I told her how I had found her and that she came highly recommended.  I gave a bit of info about the discovery of the lump itself and then Peter added more detail with his "I was  on an unaccompanied tour" spiel.  He mentioned how the discovery was while he was gone and she just threw her head into her hands and said, "OH, no...at THE worst possible time!"

With that, she was hired.  She GOT it.  She understood.  Unlike the others who didn't understand how the delays frustrated me, how hard it was to be here alone when it happened or how this inexorably wrested so much control from me...she did and it was apparent from the get-go.

We finished with the basics, she had already reviewed the records and films, so she was set with that information and decided it was time for the exam.  It was extremely thorough, but she didn't say much other than "let's meet in my office" and she left the room.  I got dressed, we found her office and Peter and I discussed how we were sold on her.  Her bedside (if you will) manner was impeccable...caring but not sappy and we felt like she might jump up and hug us just because.

She walked in and immediately made us feel at ease.   Perhaps because she didn't seem 12, perhaps because she obviously had much more life (and work) experience than my other surgeon, we just felt, well, at home.  She asked a few basic questions and then jumped right in.. 

"So, for now we will see you every 6 months, but once you move overseas next summer, we'll just bring you back once a year.  We'll do all of your tests at once and get you out of here and on your way."  She sat back satisfied and I was ready to cry.   I didn't have to suggest anything, she had the plan all ready to go.

"Oh," she added, "By the way, you are perfect!  Your MRI is so clean, your exam was great, you are perfect!  We are all set here, I'll just see you in six months!"

I'm perfect.  Never thought I'd hear those words again from a medical professional and despite my own personal beliefs, it was incredibly reassuring.  

Even better?  No trying to convince me to stay here or delay our FS lives.  Nope, as with the others, she is ready to sign off on any paperwork we need and send us on our merry way.   Now we just need a bid list and things can really start to move forward...

(In other news, I had an article published in the Foreign Service Journal this month.  If you are interested in perusing, the link is here and on the sidebar.  Thank you to everyone for the awesome feedback thus far!)




May 01, 2011

I've been a little lazy lately

as we are all well aware and I have not been getting the Little Guy out and about as much as I should be.  If you recall, when we were in California, we made it our mission to see as much as possible.  I had joined not only a walking group, but an outdoor playgroup started by a friend who knew the area like the back of her hand.

Fast forward to now and I am barely finding time to get the minimum completed each day, much less investigate new places.  I realized that a big part of the problem is that we could be considered 'local' and know the area too well.  We done so much that we forget things change, places are updated/expanded and we need to keep seeing them, not just checking them off and filing in  'bucket list complete' folder.

IMG_1504 After spending nearly two hours with the LG at the Long Branch Nature Center (well, really most of it was playing with sticks and rocks in the water) on Friday, I knew we needed to get out again on Saturday.  Of course, sometimes in this area things can be more enjoyable should the weather be sunny, but not too warm (for Peter's sake).  The morning rolled around and I could tell the day was going to be spectacular by the time I dropped Kelsey off for her Brownie camping trip.  I kiboshed all nasty ideas of laundry, pantry-organizing and yucky indoorsy stuff and headed home to get ready for a day on the town, beginning with a trip to the farmers market.

The start to the day was delayed a tiny bit by the pre-teen who needs 18 hours of sleep on Saturday mornings.  I get it as I was the same way at her age.  Sleeping Beauty stayed home, we made a quick trip to the market, thankfully avoided the 30 person line for the balloon man (who authorized THAT?) and returned to collect the Cait.

I realized that in order for an outing to work, we need to have an exact destination.  Peter's only item on the agenda was a BBQ dinner of sorts.  The morning drives to and from Sibley each day have me passing by areas that I keep meaning to rediscover, so I quickly created an agenda that was easy, free and guaranteed to be enjoyed by all:  a walk around Roosevelt Island and a trip to Gravelly Point (anyone with a toddler or a love of flying/planes knows the joy that IS Gravelly Point). 

IMG_1507 IMG_1509 IMG_1515 Despite the parking lot seeming to be jam-packed, we quickly found parking at Roosevelt Island.  The only minor issue of the day was sending Cait back to the car to drop off her books (she brought two to read on our nature walk).   She was a little less than enthused in the beginning, but began exploring and forgot all about everything else.  The walking paths were a paradise for Nicholas (water, rocks, sticks, oh my!) and when his little legs began to tire, Peter did that wonderful dad-guy thing and hoisted him up on his shoulders.  

IMG_1517 IMG_1539 IMG_1533 We meandered around the island for more than an hour and walked at least two miles (no idea on pace, left the GPS at home...probably a good thing).  The only disappointment was the noise from the city on the outer edges of the island...though Nicholas loved the sounds of the cars flying over us on the bridge just a few feet above us about 2/3 of the way through the walk .  We ended the trip with a stop at the memorial (the area around it is under construction, but still worth a look) and made our way back to the car to continue our journey.  

IMG_1545 I have been meaning to take Nicholas to Gravelly Point for ages.  It is a park very close to National Airport and has grassy areas perfect for picnics, frisbee games or just relaxing and watching the planes zoom overhead.  He loved it and watched at least 6 planes take off.   As it was nearing dinner time, we assured him we would return, next time with a picnic basket and a few extra hours to watch the "the plane!".

We ended the day by easily finding a parking space in Old Town and having dinner at King Street Blues (have their portions always been that big??).  To make our day complete, we chose to have dessert in Del Ray and tried the Fairy Godmother for custard and ice pops.  I fell in love with the crunchy granola and we enjoyed our treats while walking the neighborhood...ah, if only we had a cool $750K to put down on a house around there.  I'd love to be back in a more walkable neighborhood, if only it didn't mean not being able to eat while living there.

The day could not have been more perfect.  We missed having Kelsey around, but knew she was enjoying camping with her friends.  The weather was superb, we spent nary an hour inside and we were reminded that there is plenty to explore in this area.  Now what to do next week when Cait is at her 6 hour (yes, six hour) birthday party?