Friday, December 14, 2007

The Headlines

I'm officially a blog slacker. I've been meaning to update for sometime but, well, the only time I seem to be able to do so is at unwelcoming hours in the morning when my 17 month old baby can't sleep. It's hard to coordinate a sleep-deprived brain with fingers to compose a sentence that makes even the remotest bit of sense! However, since I seem to be on a roll, here goes nothing.

  • I somehow neglected to post about some free toys that I won from CafeMom's Playskool Preschool Playgroup. Every once in a blue moon, they offer free toys to moms who are members of this group if you do certain things such as post three times, post a picture and respond to a poll. I was so excited to see that they were offering up some toys that I thought would be perfect for Caitlin for Christmas. After a long wait, the toys arrived a few days ago. Click here to see what Caitlin will be opening on Christmas Day. Cool, or what? I haven't opened the box yet but, after the Mr. Potato Head promotion earlier this summer, I know I won't be disappointed!


  • I finally got around to putting up some Christmas decorations. It's been challenging because I have little, curious fingers who love to get into everything. Let's just say that the decorations are well out of reach except for those of a plush variety. We still haven't decided where to put our tree or hung stockings. I imagine that we'll figure out those logistics this weekend. All that I know is that it's starting to feel a bit like Christmas around here. We even have snow to prove it--and more on the way.


  • Caitlin has been practicing writing both upper and lower case letters and reading beginning readers books. She has been doing so well. I'll have to get a video of her "reading" and scan in some of her writing. There's no doubt that she's ready, intellectually anyway, for Kindergarten.


  • Cara has been making huge strides lately! In the past few weeks, here's what she's learned:
    --She is now pulling up to stand on just about anything--the tub, couch, an air mattress, you name it. She goes from sitting, to kneeling to standing just like her therapist wanted her to.
    --She knows how to give you a "high five" or "holla" if you say that to her. Cutest thing to watch because she actually tries to make the slapping sound.
    --Cara also knows and will do on command or copy you if you say, "So big!" She'll put both of her hands in the air and smile.
    --I think, though I'm not totally certain, that she now puts her hands up when she wants to be picked up. She did it last night to Ben, but not sure yet, if it was intentional. I hope so!


  • Some other 411 in regards to Cara. She is going to be evaluated for a mild form of cerebral palsy called hypotonic cerebral palsy. While I'm not 100% convinced that she has this, she does show some of the "signs" and we want to rule it out. Cerebral palsy is not that uncommon in hydrocephalus patients. Her evaluation, through the neurology clinic at Children's Hospital, isn't until the end of February. I have asked to be placed on the waiting list in case someone cancels, so I have a shred of hope that we might get in before then. Cara is also going to be needing orthopedic braces on her legs to help her build up strength and unlock her knees so that she can walk, without support. We are still trying to get things coordinated to get her in to see the orthopedic doctor. All in due time. It seems like I spend an obscene amount of time on the phone scheduling appointments these days.


  • We took all of the kids (including my best friends') to the Children's Museum last weekend to see Santa. Caitlin hoped right up, made herself at home and told Santa, at a novel's length, what she wantsed for Christmas. Cara, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the man in the red suit and, clearly, let me know that. Click here to see the picture of the girls with Santa as well as some from our day at the museum. Go to page three to see the girls with the jolly old elf.


  • I picked up a gingerbread house to do with the kids to enter in the extended family's gingerbread house decorating contest. From the looks of the good times had by Judy, it's sure to be an enjoyable and memorable experience. We got one that uses Willy Wonka candies, so it's a little "non traditional", but I'm sure the kids will do a good job of making it look cute.



I guess that's all that is making news in our neck of the woods for now. Thanks for tuning in!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cara Sports Her New Glasses


Cara's Glasses
Originally uploaded by Mountain Chronicles
Have a look-see everyone! We think she looks adorable...when she keeps them on, that is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I See, I See...

Cara had a follow-up ophthalmology appointment on Monday. We were told to follow-up right around a year after her initial visit back in 2006. She went just before turning one because we were concerned that she was cross-eyed. At the time, we were told that she just "appeared" to be cross-eyed due to having a wide bridge on her nose. Being a mom, I didn't really buy that, but her ophthalmologist at the time dismissed my concerns. Lo and behold, 8 months later, we are still concerned about the crossed eyes and have also observed her eyes "dancing" when she focuses, thus, prompting a much needed follow-up. This time with a member of the Eye Clinic team at Children's Hospital. After dilating Cara's pupils and doing a few procedures, we had a diagnosis, and this time, it made sense. Cara is farsighted--big time! It makes so much sense because eyes cross or dance when they are trying, unsuccessfully, to focus or see an object in front of them. We left Children's Hospital armed with an Rx for glasses and on a crusade to find someone who could fill the prescription and not make my baby look silly. After many failed attempts, we finally found a great place, picked out some adorable purple feather-weight frames, tacked on a 2-year scratch warranty, and Cara will have her glasses in 1-1 1/2 weeks. I'm so excited, and hope Cara will be too, when she realizes that with the glasses that she kept trying to pull of her face, she will be able to see so much better. Her frames will have special hooks on them to go around her ears, making it (hopefully) virtually impossible for her to pull them off. We might also have a baby band going around her head for awhile until she gets used to them. Our technician said though, that in her experience, the little ones are so amazed that they can see that they don't want their parents to take their glasses off! Oh, we can only hope this is the case with Cara.
You can bet your dollar that I will be posting pictures as soon as her glasses come in. Our newest optical device wearer is going to look so darn cute!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Late Night Thinking...

I'm sure you all know what this is like, you're tired, you want to go to bed but, you just can't shut your brain off of it's conscious thoughts. Well, I'm having one of those nights. I'm thinking and contemplating a lot of stuff right now, so I thought I'd share.

Before I do though, I want to say one thing right now, I am in no way asking for sympathy, charity or anything like that. I know, that in the grand scheme of things, our problems are minute, there's a lot of people who are worse off, facing much more monumental decisions and who do not have the love and support of a wonderful network of friends and family. I simply just want to share what life's really been like because, I try real hard to "appear happy" and to go forward with as much normalcy as I can muster. Yes, I am very open with people, but I am not one to burden others with my problems because I know that they have enough of there own. With everything in life, it seems, there are challenges. Okay, that said...let the ramblings begin.

For those that do not know, Ben works 80 hours a week (two full time jobs) so that I can be home with the girls. He works from 8:30am-5pm, comes home to eat dinner and sleep for a short period of time and then, is back to work at his night job from 11pm-7am. How he does it, is beyond me. He does, usually, turn into a pumpkin pretty quickly after coming home on Friday nights. That said, we don't see much of each other and the girls don't see much of their father. Ben & I seem to do a good bulk of our communication via email and instant messaging. True, we can't have real disagreements that way, but sometimes, I crave face-to-face time with him. We cherish the weekends, when he is home and there a sense of a normal family about our place. While he is working, I'm attempting (some days I manage better than others) to keep our house in order, the kids from self-destructing and running here & there for our various appointments, library trips and such. Most days, I feel appreciated and I really do love being home with the girls. Some days though, I don't know how I'm going to put up with being around only children for much longer and wish for a 9-5 job or maybe more friends to have playdates with or a free preschool option for Caitlin. Sometimes, I'd like to just step out for a few hours, grab a magazine, hit a local coffee shop and engross myself in a work of fiction--escaping the realities of my so-called life. I guess that's the point, I don't feel like I have a life anymore beyond being a mother. Yes, that's a great part of who I am but it's not everything. That bring me to my next topic.

The other day, as I was combing the Colorado State Library Jobline, I came across "my dream job". A position vacancy at a library not too far from us for a circulation supervisor in materials handling. For those that aren't too familiar with my background, I have been working in various library settings (academic in college, public in Michigan and finally, institutional--read prison--here in Colorado before Cara was born) for about 7 years. This job would be a perfect fit because, as much as I like people, I think I'd like to deal with the material side of library operations for awhile. I would be dealing with the "behind the scenes" actions of the library--holds, missing/lost books and things like that. Perfect! The best part of the job offer was the pay--over $3K a month, which for the library world (non-MLS) this is really good. I was really, really thinking about applying until my current reality hit home. I don't feel that I can be employed right now without doing a disservice to Cara. Who would do her weekly therapy sessions (not to mention the daily home therapy) if I was at work? Children's Hospital pretty much mandates parental involvement in PT and OT. Cara is doing so well, she doesn't need a major setback. Also, no matter how much this job pays, I still would have to factor in child care times two and arrange drop off & pick up strategies with Ben. See, he would still need to work two jobs, at least for awhile so that we could catch up (I'll explain that more in a minute). Oh yeah, not to mention the money I'd have to spend on getting a whole new wardrobe because lounge pants and ratty jeans just wouldn't cut it for a library supervisor, I don't think. I decided, that as tempting as the offer is (and it's very, very, extremely), this is just not a good time for me. I wish I could find a way to make it work because goodness knows we could use the money, but after talking with Ben, I just don't see how. Hopefully, something wonderful will come up again when I feel that I can take the leap back into the work force...maybe once Cara is caught up developmentally and Caitlin is in school.

Okay, I said I would further explain the whole "catching up" bit. Even though Ben works 80 hours a week and makes pretty darn decent money, we just can't seem to stay much above water. It seems that every month, more and more bills keep piling up (especially medical) and try as we might, we just can't stretch the money far enough. Let me assure you that we are not being extravagant with our money either. We do not eat out, hardly at all, we don't do activities which require money but once in a blue moon or if we happen to have a BOGO coupon or something. We are very careful. As careful as we are though, things go unpaid or get partially paid, creditors are calling and all that not-so-nice stuff. There have been times when we've had to choose between going grocery shopping and paying a bill. Frugality is an important lesson, no doubt, as is budgeting, but it is almost impossible to budget when you don't have enough money to go around. It is also really hard not to be able to provide your children with what they need or a few extra comforts. By some miracle of a higher power, we have not yet gone hungry and our children are not freezing. For that, I am extremely grateful. I would, however, like to be comfortable, to know that we can pay all of our obligations each month and maybe, just maybe, have a small "rainy day" fund. I'd like to get caught up instead of it looking like we're sinking deeper and deeper. I mean, we have actually talked about the "big B word" a few times but know that it would just bring us more trouble than it's worth. As you can imagine, this is all very stressful. I have learned how to be very resourceful with our limited supply of food...finding meals that are cheap to make and making them stretch as long as possible. I have also found ways to have fun for next to no cost. These are things that are going to be with me forever and are good lessons learned. I just wonder how much longer they are going to be a fact of my daily life? How long can one family struggle? I know that God never gives us more than we can handle and that our struggles are so minute and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn't make them any easier to deal with. I feel like such of a bad parent in some ways, having to tell my child that we can't get something over and over again. Christmas is a mirage in the distance, something that's going to take just short of a miracle to pull off. I know, it's not all about the presents, but the rituals and celebrations. However, have you tried to explain this to a 4 year old who is, thanks to advertising up the wahzoo, bombarded with images of the latest and greatest toys? Every time she sees something on television, she wants it. I just nod my head and say, "We'll have to see what Santa brings you, won't we?" when deep down inside, I'm not sure if Santa will be stopping at our house this year.

I just feel so frustrated, defeated and downright hopeless at times and I know that my husband shares these feelings. I know, in my heart of hearts, that this too, shall pass, but am I having a hard time waiting for that day to come. The day when we can all breathe easier and go to bed knowing that everything's been taken care of...the bill juggling a thing of the past. Some days, I just don't know how I'm going to go on and I'll admit, the "woe is me" creeps in too. Then, I usually give myself a good kick in the bum and realize, hey, it could be a whole lot worse...we'll make it through it...we're together as a family, we're happy & healthy, nothing else really matters, right? Now, would all of the bill collectors please respect this, know that we're doing the best we can and--BUG OFF! I've been just about as polite as I can be and no matter how many times a day you call, you're going to get the same answer so you can stop calling upwards of 5 times a day! Surely, you all have bigger fish to fry than my petty $35 or $120 bill.

If someone has a crystal (or heck, even a Magis 8) ball, may I borrow it please? I'd love to find out how soon the end is in sight for us.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Plain With a Side of Spots

A recent discussion with Caitlin--

Me: Oh, I see that you colored the boy in the picture to look just like Daddy.

Caitlin: Mom, Dadda's not black, he's brown...dark brown.

Me: I see, then what color are you?

Caitlin: Light brown, like my chocolates.

Me: What about Cara?

Caitlin: Plain

Me: Plain?

Caitlin: Yes, like you. Mom, you're plain too, with spots.

Me: Spots! (laughing) Like a Dalmatian?

Caitlin: No, I mean freckles, sprinkles, you know?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Halloween 2007


Halloween 2007
Originally uploaded by Mountain Chronicles
Caitlin had a wonderful time this Halloween. We trekked across the mountains to spend the week with my parents in Montrose. We visited a local pumpkin patch where Caitlin selected white pumpkins for herself and Cara, a first for us and we ran around in a corn maze. We carved pumpkins on Wednesday and Caitlin had fun ad-libbing a face onto hers and then using stencils to add a more personalized touch. I tried my craftiness at spelling Cara's name into her pumpkin and then using a pattern to make an evil clown on mine. Even my parents got into the game by carving their own pumpkins. We attempted to roast (read burn) some pumpkin seeds and let Cara play in and taste fresh pumpkin. Halloween dinner was lovingly prepared by our local Domino's and enjoyed by quite the crowd: the girls & I, my brother Matt and his girlfriend Natalia (Matalie according to Caitlin), my parents and my aunt & uncle. Afterward, we all put on our costumes. Yes, we all dressed up albeit my dad who decided to stay home and pass out candy. Caitlin was Snow White, Cara a puppy, my mom as a cow complete with a cowbell, Matt as a freaky old dude and Natalia as a pirate. I downed a court jester hat to complete the festive scene. A quick walk across the street to a bigger subdivision and we found, much to Caitlin's delight, many homes with porch lights on. We spent about 2 hours walking the streets with Caitlin who was rewarded for her efforts by a Target bag full of candy (inspected my Uncle Matt & Natalia and Mommy). Cara was pretty much unnerved by the whole experience and slept, nice and cozy, in her stroller. She fussed for a little while and then was happy again. We returned home, on the chilly side, where Grandma promptly made hot cocoa and we all settled down for the night.

We topped off our stay on the Western Slope with a trip to the Ouray Hot Springs for a very relaxing soak. There is something almost magical about this place. The views are amazing and watching the steam rise from the pool in the evening is just totally cool.



Here is Cara and my dad in the pool. Cara had the time of her life! We got the float ring for 50 cents at WalMart--what a find!


We headed back to Aurora on Friday morning, feeling refreshed and relaxed. That was one mini-vacation very much needed, especially by me.


**Click on the collage to see it bigger**

Friday, October 26, 2007

Using Big Words That I Understand

Thought that some word association would be a fun way to update on Cara.

Audiologist: Cara will be having a hearing test in the middle of November to rule out any hearing impairment (we know she can hear just fine) as part of the thorough clinical evaluation from Child Find.

Staffing Process: This is what will happen after the hearing test results are complete and given to Cara's perspective therapists and service coordinator from Developmental Pathways. Simply put, this is the process where all of the therapists sit down with me and determine which services Cara would benefit from (PT/OT, speech/language), which ones the school district can provide (through it's Child Find early intervention program) and how often she will be receiving these services.

Home visits: Once the services get started with , the therapists will come to our home to do home therapy! One less place for us to run to every week.

Ophthalmologist: After getting through a lot of medical red tape, we were finally able to get all. of the ducks in a row to get Cara an appointment with a pediatric specialist He/she will be investigating the "dancing" in her eyes (especially, her left) when she attempts to focus on an object. I can almost see drops or a "pirate" patch in the future for her. Even if she has to wear glasses, they have such cute ones for little kiddos these days.

Orthopedics: At one of her last PT sessions, her therapist confirmed a concern that I've had about Cara's feet. They seem to turn/curve inward when she puts her weight on them. We are aggressively attacking the problem by doing exercises to hopefully straighten the ligaments and muscles in her calves and feet and encouraging her to stand. Right now, we are hoping that these exercises along with some new, supportive shoes, will do the trick. If not, we may be seeing an orthopedic specialist to have an orthopedic shoe insert or something similar made for Cara.

Therapeutic exercises: I always come from PT sessions with activities to do with Cara or toys/instruments that would be helpful for us to get for her. Currently, we are working on getting Cara's leg muscles strengthened so we are wanting her to sit, bearing weight on her feet, stand and support herself while reaching for objects on a low table at her height, etc. So, I'm having fun searching around our house looking for things that can be tables, benches, and the like. Have found that laundry soap containers, laundry baskets and packing boxes work well. Doing therapy with Cara does spark my creativity. We currently do therapy for at least 30 minutes 6 days a week. Seeing improvement always makes me smile and encourages me to continue.

Attagirl!


I can't believe I forgot to post about this. About a week ago, the whole family was sitting on our couch, Ben holding Cara when she looked right at me & said..."Momma!" She had been babbling and saying, "Mmmmmoooommmmm" for awhile but never associated the name with me. We think she really knew what she was saying that day however. She has said it to me a few more times, so I think we've confirmed that Cara has said her first word! And how awesome that it wasn't the traditional "Dada" although she does say that now, just not to Ben...yet. I've been telling Ben that Cara is a "Mommy's girl" from just about day one (he has dibs on Caitlin), seems I might be right? No offense Ben, but the truth is the truth!

**Edited to add--I forgot to mention how moved I was by this one little word. I looked at Ben with a face of disbelieve. All he had to do was nod his head to confirm that he had heard the same thing. I was beaming with pride while tears were streaming down my face, unchecked.**

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The First Snow!



It snowed for the first time this season late last night and into the afternoon today. Colorado weather is so weird because yesterday I was walking around downtown Denver in a t-shirt!
Anyway, the snow was so beautiful as coated everything--like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. I was able to snap a few pictures of things around our place before Caitlin got up and demanded to go out and play in the first snow. Her excitement was contagious and soon, Cara & I had joined her. Cara seemed taken aback by the whole experience and just sat and took in the activity around her. Caitlin & I engaged in a snowball fight and then made a snowgirl. Not a snowman because she had a pink scarf on. Such a blast! This is what childhood should be about. Afterward, we came inside, made hot cocoa and Ben & I played a heated match of Scrabble. I'm currently working on making some chili and cornbread muffins for dinner. The perfect meal for the perfect snowy day!

Art & Architecture in Denver

Yesterday, as I was walking back from the Denver Public Library, I decided to snap some pictures of things that captured my attention in downtown Denver (also known as LoDo). To see the mini-set, click here.
I was downtown hoping to pick up Knuffle Bunny Too, which I had placed on hold a few days ago. However, the library decided to close early in preparation for the annual Booklover's Ball. Somehow, I managed to miss this little announcement while skimming the homepage earlier that day.
It was a beautiful fall day (even though snow was on the horizon), so I decided to make the most of my time, ALONE (gasp) downtown and took a little scenic tour while I waited for the next Light Rail train to come.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Glimpse @ the Craziness


I was challenged by Lauren to capture 24 hours of my life, in photographs. Well, I'm proud to say I did it! It was actually kind of fun, even toting my not-so-light Kodak DX 6490 around. We had a fun 24 hours, well, at least up until about 10 o'clock last night anyway. So, here is the my set--"A Glimpse Into My World".

(I wanted to upload a picture to go with this post, but Blogger is being dumb and keeps giving me an error. I will try again later.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You Really Can...

...Get something for nothing!
The other day, as I was logging in to my Flickr account, I noticed an email from Flickr. Thinking it was so boring, not helpful newsletter or promotion, I was about to delete it. Then, I say the words, "Your account has been upgraded to pro"! Turns out that as a reward for downloading my old pictures for Yahoo! Photos (now defunct), Flickr gave me three months of free pro status for my account. I get to enjoy the perks of this status until January '08 and after that I'll have to pay to keep it. Still, I can finally see all of the pictures I've uploaded and not just the last 200. I can create sets of pictures and more. I'm not sure what the rest of the perks are right now, I'm just basking in the fact that I got something for doing absolutely nothing besides clicking on a mouse. Pretty sweet deal in my book.

Speaking of my Flickr account...it is lonely. I haven't had a comment on there in ages. To make things easier, I will probably be making more of my pictures public soon. It seems that "people" (and I use that term loosely) are only interested in picture of my kids if they are wearing a bathing suit in a kiddie wading pool.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Does It Work For You?



I came across an interesting article in Parents about sibling spacing and it got me to thinking about the spontaneous, yet wonderful spacing between my own two girls.

Caitlin & Cara are exactly 2 years, 11 months and 3 weeks apart. Did we plan it this way? No, Cara was a big surprise, one in which we didn't discover until she had been growing inside of me for about 3 months! That said, over the past year, this age gap has proved to be just wonderful, most days. Here's my reasoning--

~Ben & I had been out of "baby mode" for a few years, so finding out that we were expecting again was a refreshing and welcomed change.

~Caitlin got just shy of 3 years of our undivided attention and she has blossomed into a wonderful kid because of it. I am so happy that we had that time together to develop her personality, interests and knowledge. She remembers this time and knows that we love her. She also cherishes "alone" time with each of us all the more.

~Caitlin was at an age in which she could understand about mommy having a baby in her tummy and that she was going to be a big sister. We were able to play up the concept and get her so very excited for Cara's birth that there was almost no jealousy.

~Most days, Caitlin is more than happy to share toys and my attention with Cara. The two sisters will play together for a long time, happily. The bond between them is so strong, they are the best of buddies. Caitlin told me the other day that she doesn't want to go to school next year because she's going to miss Cara and wonders who Cara will play with while she's gone. So very sweet.

~Caitlin can entertain herself independently for awhile. This has come in handy because I've been able to attend to Cara knowing that Caitlin is happy and not resentful.

~Caitlin was potty trained, fully, within a few months after Cara joined the family. So, I only have one kid in diapers at a time.

~I absolutely love that Caitlin loves to be a big helper and is proud that she can "help" with little tasks like fetching diapers, sippy cups and other things for Cara as well as doing little chores around the house. I'll take all the help that I can get.

~I love watching Cara try to copy Caitlin. I know that Caitlin is a great role model for Cara to look up to. I hope that Cara learns from Caitie so of the things that make her so dear to us.

~Caitlin is in pure "big sister mode" a lot with Cara and watches out for her, shows concern for her and advocates for her baby sister. I know it will be so comforting for Cara to know that Caitlin will be there to walk her to her Kindergarten class on the first day of school.

These are the reasons that I love the spacing that we happened to get between our girls. Is it the only way that it would've worked? Of course not, there are advantages to any and all age gaps, which is what the article talks about. I guess it just helps us find the positives in whatever arrangement we happen to have.

So, I'd like to hear from you, my blog readers. What is the spacing between your kids? Does it work for you? What are some of the positives that you can see? Did you plan it that way or did it just happen? I thought that this article might open up an interesting conversation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Little Milestones...


It is becoming very obvious that Cara's physical therapy (both at the hospital and at home) is paying off with very big dividends. Every time she goes in for an appointment, I am just amazed at what she can do and how she is learning to move outside of her comfort zone.
In the past few days, Cara has learned how to stand from a sitting position while grabbing onto my hands; raise herself off of her bottom while holding onto the edge of the coffee table (totally unassisted); and sitting up from lying on her back using the sides of her changing table for support.
Before I know it, she will be crawling, cruising and walking! I just love seeing the baby steps of progress.

Cara, Mommy & Daddy so are very proud of you!

A Day @ Our Second Home

Yesterday was one of the longest lengths of time that we've spent at Children's Hospital without being admitted.

At 9 o'clock, we were in a PT session with our sweet therapist Karen. Cara continues to make progress and I always come away with new things to try with her at home.

We had a break from 10 o'clock until around noon, so we went to a local McDonald's to grab some lunch--Happy Meals for me & Caitlin--with the goal of Caitlin getting to play at the PlayPlace and for me to split my 6 piece chicken nuggets with Cara but she fell asleep. We decided to let her sleep and opted for home. We all ate lunch (Cara having woken up) and then ventured back to the hospital.

12:30 saw us filling out the necessary billing paperwork for Cara's CT scan and then breaking out the coloring book & markers while we waited for Cara to be called in.

1 o'clock rolls around and we are ushered back to the CT machine. They begin to swaddle Cara to keep her from moving, which promptly causes my toddler to scream. She just wanted to be able to suck her thumb! After trying a pacifier (which she's never taken) and puppets, it was finally my voice singing and a picture show on the ceiling that calmed her enough so that the images could be taken. Caitlin got the honor of watching the whole process at the computers with the technicians. Ten minutes later, it was all over.

Next, we went to the Creative Play Center (day care for siblings of children being seen in the hospital) to drop off a very reluctant Caitlin armed with a Sprite & cheese crackers (yes, I bribed my kid). The girl who didn't want to go play had vanished from my sight before I was able to complete the sign-in paperwork. Funny how quickly that fear went away.

Cara & I then went over to the in-house Pearberry Coffee stand to get a Chocolate-Banana Bear (heaven, let me tell you) and then found our way to her neurosurgeon's office for a consultation following the CT scan. All is well with her shunt, the incisions have completely healed (almost no visible scars) and her head circumference is down another little bit. He is pleased with her developmental progress and unless we see a need otherwise, he doesn't need to see her again until April! I did voice one concern with him about Cara's eyes. Ben & I have noticed some "dancing" in them, especially the left, when she concentrates on an object. Her neurosurgeon doesn't think it's neurological, but we are going to follow up with the Eye Clinic at the hospital to see if we can figure out what's going on. I am just waiting to hear from the neuro's assistant that the referral has been sent to the clinic before I can make an appointment.

Finally, at 2:15, we were all done with appointments and whatnot, went to pick up Caitlin, who by now, didn't want to leave and had to be coaxed out (armed with two neat spin-art pictures), and head home. What a long, but good, day!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The 4's...

I got tagged by Lauren to do this, so here goes...

Four Jobs I've had in my life:
1. Party coordinator for McDonald's--called a Ronald Ranger
2. Prison Librarian
3. Copy editor/proof reader
4. Circulation clerk

Four Movies I have watched over & over:
1. Sound of Music
2. Beaches
3. Sarah, Plain & Tall Trilogy
4. Mystic Pizza (or any Julia Roberts chick flick)

Four Places I have lived:
1. Ferndale, MI
2. Wixom, MI
3. Durango, CO
4. Aurora, CO

Four Shows I love to watch:
1. Extreme Makeover
2. Law & Order
3. Don't Forget the Lyrics
4. Food Network Challenge

Four Places I have been on vacation:
1. Orlando, FL
2. Yellowstone/Grand Tetons
3. NYC
4. Mexico

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Gyros
2. Just about anything Greek/Mediterranean
3. General Tso chicken (or just about anything Chinese)
4. Pasta--enough said

Four of my favorite drinks:
1. Iced sweet tea
2. Lemonade
3. Flavored water
4. Chocolate malts (chocolate milk or shakes will work too)

Four Places I'd rather be right now:
1. Buying myself a new wardrobe at a really ritzy mall
2. Curled up with a book at a chai latte at Tattered Cover
3. Sitting by a mountain lake contemplating life
4. Gathered around my mom's kitchen table with my family

Four People I will tag:
1. Sarah
2. Angela
3. Ben (Fat chance that he will read it and post)
4. Anyone else who reads my blog and is so inspired

Thursday, October 04, 2007

First PT session

Cara had her first official PT session at Children's Hospital yesterday. She did very well for almost the entire time. Her therapist, Karen, worked with her on reaching (using her neck & torso), rotating her body, putting weight on her legs and playing on all fours. She didn't seem to mind being in "crawling mode" as much as before, so we are making some progress! We left the therapy gym with a handout of things to do at home to keep her moving forward. Cara will be going one a week for awhile and then we will re-evaluate and see how she's doing...possibly cutting back to twice monthly. Cara really likes Karen and loves to play with her.

We also had a home visit from a service coordinator for Developmental Pathways. Cara's paperwork has been submitted so, within the next month, we should be able to start services for her there. She has a multi-disciplinary evaluation with them on the 25th to get a better idea of what they think she needs in the way of therapy. We're excited because it's 100% free!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Evaluation Results

Cara had her PT/OT (physical therapy/occupational therapy) open evaluation yesterday at Children's Hospital and, overall, things went better than I expected. On average, Cara is at the 10-14 month range, which is right on considering she just turned 14th months on the 17th. The one area that she is lagging behind is in her gross motor skills. She is not really mobile yet and because of that, she's at/around the 6-9 month category for those skills. We also need to work on getting her pincher grasp developed. Her therapy plan is going to be mostly focused on strengthening her torso and leg muscles so that she has the strength where she needs it to begin to crawl, support her weight and eventually cruise furniture and walk. They are also going to "push her out of he comfort zone" when it comes to maneuvering from a sitting position to the pre-crawl position and forcing her to get used to supporting herself and using muscles that she previously hasn't used. She does have low muscle tone in her lower abdomen and legs. I have been given a list of things to work on with her here at home to try to encourage her development in these areas. Basically, we are doing play therapy--such things as coloring with markers, stacking blocks, turning pages of a book to develop the pincher grasp, reaching and playing with toys on her Boppy pillow to get her accustomed to being "on all fours" and other fun activities. Somehow, I don't think Cara is going to mind having me spending more time with her. She thinks it's all great fun.

She will be going to PT once a week for awhile until we start to see some progress and then will possibly scale it back to once or twice a month. At this point, she will be seeing OT once a month. Reason being is that they want to make use of our limited insurance coverage to get her mobile, which both therapist deem more important than anything else.

Cara had the most fun yesterday and soaked up all of the attention. She enjoyed playing with all of the "new" toys in the PT gym and showing off for the therapists. She was able to do some things that I didn't know she could do, with a little bit of coaching. Now that I know the potential is there, she's not going to be getting off as easy anymore!

Her therapists also want her to see a speech and language pathologist to work on language development and acquisition. At this point, Cara has still not spoken her first word though she does babble almost constantly and says "Mmmmommmm" a lot. She also needs to learn to respond to simple commands and phrases. We are wanting her to talk right now, but I imagine, once she does, we'll be wishing for peace!

We have been very fortunate to have great friends who have helped point us in the right direction for finding sources of free or reduced cost services for Cara. We have discovered Developmental Pathways and are busy getting started on the qualification process for receiving services from them through the Child Find program that is offered in conjunction with their program and the local school district. They provide developmental screenings, personalized home visits to see, hands on, what services Cara might benefit from and then, if we qualify, all of the intervention services we might need. This includes PT and OT as well as, hopefully, a speech and language pathologist. The best part is that the therapists from the hospital will work with Child Find to coordinate services. In other words, they will fill in the gaps if Child Find isn't able to provide everything that Cara needs. I'm so excited to get the ball rolling and start to see Cara catching up developmentally.

All the therapists seem to agree that if we follow the therapy plan, Cara should be on track developmentally by the time she's 2 years old. This is such wonderful and encouraging news for us! We have our work cut out for us over then next year or so, but it's going to pay off big time for Cara.

Oh...in other news. We have qualified BARELY for the Colorado Indigent Care program which will help pay for any medical expenses that we incur. I found out too, that we can back-bill up to 90 days which means, this may help cover the cost of Cara's shunt surgery--the portion that our primary insurance won't cover (about $1300 to date and rising). I just about cried when the financial counselor told me this yesterday. A huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders! Finally, we may be able to catch up financially.

So, yes, yesterday was a great day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Glance @ my Palm

(I'm so glad that I found this--it got lost in the moving shuffle--and brought a cable so that we could sync it up again. It's old, but gets the job done)


September 24th
--2pm--Hearing Aid Appointment (Laura)to put an end to this annoying feedback I've been getting lately.
--Clean house in preparation for parents' arrival on 26th
September 25th
--2pm--Meet new mom friends Megan & Kitty at Children's Museum for a play date.
September 26th
--Parents coming into town
--11am--Open Clinic Evaluation with PT/OT department at Children's Hospital to find out what kind of help Cara might benefit from.
--1pm--Appointment with Financial Counseling department at Children's Hospital to see if we qualify for secondary insurance to help with our insurance's lack of PT coverage and the mountain of bills we already have.
(Whew, looks like we have a week or so with no "commitments" except for story times, maybe)
October 10th
--12:45pm--Report to Radiology (1st floor) @ Children's **REMEMBER @ new campus** for Cara's CT scan.
--2pm--6 week post-surgery follow up with Dr. Winston @ Children's (3rd floor).
October 15th
--3pm--Well baby shots for Cara (no co-pay) @ Alpine Family Practice.
(another week or so "free")
October 25th
--12:30pm--Full evaluation with Developmental Pathways/Child Find; re: Qualification for reduced cost PT/OT.

I'm exhausted just looking at that! And, I'm sure as time goes on, more things will be filled in for the "gaps" that we have. Oh yeah, and that doesn't include putting aside time for more play dates, pre-K lessons and things like that.
Judy, I'm beginning to know how you feel...slightly.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

C-A-I-T-I-E

I will admit to being slow. I just now realized that I can upload videos thanks to upgrading my Firefox browser, so here's a cute video for you all.

video

May Not Seem Like Much...

My new car, named Sally Subaru, taking her rightful place in the garage.
A few odds & ends that are getting donated. The Apple computer is Ben's co-workers and will soon be going back to her.
My clever organizational skills. It looks like a scene from Tetris.

But to me, it's just short of a miracle. I can finally park my car in our garage! Woot! It only took 3 weeks, unpacking hundreds of boxes, purging and donating to make it happen. Today, I had finally had it with parking outside and with a very rare burst of energy and determination, I attacked what was left in the garage making it impossible for me to get my car in. I neatly organized and stacked the few things that remain in the garage along the wall and the rest, I found new homes for. Oh, it will be so nice to be able to just pull into the garage and not have to bring kids and groceries in from the parking spots. Granted, it's only a difference of about 100 feet but, the point is, the garage is being utilized like it is meant to be--a home for my car. Winter is fast approaching and I'm looking forward to NOT having to shovel off my car before I can run errands. Oh, I'm spoiled now. Too bad that we couldn't have a 2-car so that Ben could enjoy this luxury too, but heck, he's hardly ever home, so he wouldn't appreciate it like I will.

The clearing of the garage also means that we are finally all moved in. I unpacked and put away the last box (minus a box of pictures that my parents are going to help me hang next week) yesterday and it was a wonderful feeling. Our place looks like home. Okay, honestly, it looks like a toy store blew up but we're working on that. Toys have declared war on our living room and have been winning but we are about to deploy the special ops. Once we reclaim the living room, life will be good. I'll be able to display some knick knacks and, more importantly, walk around the room without stepping on Kixs, plastic food or crayons.

We're home and we love it here. We love how quiet our neighbors are, we love the open floor plan, we love the grass and "quad" right out our front door and of course, we love our garage. Oh yes, and we love our property manager. She's the sweetest and, if we ever have an issue, she sends our cool maintenance guy right over. How's that for service? I can see us living here for a good long while, happily.

Welcome home, family, welcome home!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh, and..

For those of you who have Flickr accounts, I have added new pictures to my profile. Please check them out and leave your comments!

Insurance Blues

For a long time, I've been a supporter of both equal-access public health care and a nationalized health care program for all Americans. I was rallying behind Bill Clinton when he put Hilary in charge of coming up with something economically feasible years ago. Now, faced with my own health care crisis (of the mini-sort), I am wishing that I lived in Canada, Australia or any country that offers free health care to it's citizens. The United States really needs to get on the ball. If we can't have nationalized health care because of the cost and putting the federal government further into the red, than can we at least have a "watch dog" type of organization to ensure fair and equal access to those paying top-dollar for private insurance plans? There are so many injustices and just-plain-wrong things going on that I wish someone was in charge of preventing. What exactly am I referring to, here's the skinny...

I called our insurance company today (Aetna) to ask about a claim that was denied when I truly thought it should have been covered because it was a simple clinic visit and we paid our co-pay at the time of service. So, I call up and speak to a Yolanda who informs me that the claim wasn't processed correctly and that she will re-submit it. I will get a final bill from Aetna after it's been processed again and may have to pay a portion if the $5K deductible hadn't been met prior to this appointment. Good, just what I wanted to hear. True, I wish we didn't have to worry about deductibles and co-pays but that's life. Gone are the days of covering my family members for free, no deductible, cheap co-pays and excellent coverage--only had that once in my life, while working at Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, MI. There are days when I want that job back, just for the benefits. Anyway, I'm wandering...Next, I dared to ask about our plan's (Aetna Advantage Plus) coverage for physical therapy (PT) since Cara is going to require some to catch up on her milestones. This is where the dam of bad news broke loose. I was informed that our plan doesn't cover ANY (not one ioda, one dime, one session) of physical therapy unless the deductible has been met prior to any PT claims coming through. Now, thankfully, due to the $21K brain surgery and ER visit we have far exceeded our deductible this year so here is what Aetna will graciously cover:
-24 sessions of PT per calendar year
-$25 maximum per session to be paid by insurance
Whoa! Hold the phones, did she say a WHOLE 25 DOLLARS?! Wow, that's so generous. Now, while I have no idea what an average session of PT costs, I can almost bet the ranch that it's more than $25. I mean, when we saw the Nurse Practioner for 10 minutes for Cara's 1 week follow-up, $100 was billed to Aetna. Since physical therapy is a bit more hands on and involved, I just know that $25 isn't going to cut it. So, we're going to be shelling out some serious cash for every session that Cara needs and we will because we are going to everything we can to give her a chance to have the best quality of life--bills be damned.

Now, come next year, when we start all over with the $5K deductible, you have to wonder how in the world we will afford the PT. This question was on my mind too, so I asked Yolanda if there was a plan in existence (with Aetna anyway) that covers more, in terms of PT. She then transferred me to the sales department where I spoke to a gentleman who told me:
1. I couldn't change plans until we had been enrolled, with no policy changes, for 6 months which would bring us to Novemeber of this year.
2. If we wanted to change to a more inclusive policy, we would have to undergo the underwriting process again and Cara's hydrocephalus would be "exposed" and probably wouldn't be covered on the new policy because it would be deemed to be a pre-existing condition.
3. We are stuck with this policy and I just wasted 10 minutes of my time asking about changing.
I thanked him for his time and hung up.

The wheels in my head were turning and I was starting to get pissed off. I mean, what the heck is wrong with insurance in this country if the people who really need it (sick, poor) can't get it because it's either too expensive or because said insurance will not cover the medical condition that they so badly need coverage for? We pay just shy of $300/month for this insurance only to find out just how limited it is. I sometimes wonder why we even bother to pay for it at all except that I wouldn't want to be stuck with a $27K tab. It just bites (in lack of a stronger word to keep this blog at it's "G" rated status) that only the healthy can get good, affordable insurance these days. Yes, it's nice to have so that you don't have to pay for well-child visits and just in case something horrific happens but, when something does happen and heaven forbid, you need some special services, good luck! Hope you have a nest egg hidden under the mattress for such things.

Some would say to me that we should have sprung for a better, more inclusive health care package but, give me a break, who actually sits down, when selecting insurance, and says, "Gee, let's see how the coverage would be if Johnny needs brain surgery or Sally gets cancer." Nobody is that morbid. You get a plan that you can afford that covers the basics and you think life is good. Then your literature for said plan arrives, and you might read the little chart that explains the percentages of coverage and such, but you push it to the back of your mind--you're not going to need to know how much your plan is going to play for orthopedics because you're never going to need it, right? I don't want to go through life thinking about the worse case scencerio every time I purchase something, that's too exhausting.

Since I have discovered our fate due to poor insurance coverage, I've had to try to find funding from other sources, unless, we went to declare bankruptcy next year, which I'd rather avoid. I have a meeting with the financial counseling department at Children's Hospital on the same day that Cara goes in for her PT evaluation. In the meantime, I have to round up 90 days worth of pay stubs, bills and such so that our counselor can determine if we qualify. I have also contacted the county health & human services department to see if the state has any programs that might off-set our medical expenses. Short of having a fund raiser or setting up an account at a bank for donations, which will probably never happen, I'm fresh out of ideas. Of course, there's always payment arrangements, problem is, you have to have money to make those payments and things are already quite tight around the waist right now.

If we had nationalized health care like some other countries, while I may have to wait to receive some services, they would be free. Cara would get the treatments that she needs without us having to worry about affording them. What a wonderful thing that would be! Imagine that, everyone getting the care & services they desperately needed without having to be the next Bill Gates or Donald Trump. We claim to be a land of freedom, equality and opportunity and yet, there's an alarming number of people who an either uninsured or, in our case, under-insured. What's being done to help...not much at all. Some states are better at helping their indigent than others. Colorado just happens to be a pretty lean state in terms of social service programs. Just great!

My point...you just might hear that we've jumped ship and moved to Aussie-land. Move over, Sarah, we're moving in!

**OMGosh, this just might be the longest post I've ever written so, bless your hearts if you take the time to read it!**

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Our social calendar was so full!

Have you noticed that it's been weeks that I've posted anything? If so, I can explain---
Labor Day weekend (starting on that Thursday) saw us in Montrose in preparation for my brother Mike and bran-new sister-in-law's wedding. We had a rehearsal, rehearsal dinner (yummy, not good for the gut, Mexican food) followed by a beautiful wedding ceremony outdoors at a state park overlook (overlooking a reservoir with the San Juan Mountains as a backdrop) and concluded with THE MOST happening and fun wedding reception I've ever been to. Yes, me, the one with no rhythm and two left feet was on the dance floor several times and even did "The Train"! It was an absolute blast and I loved dancing with my husband (a very rare treat) and grooving along with family and friends, some whom I hadn't seen in years and years.
After the wedding, we had a brunch honoring the newlyweds and then, some social activities with some old family friends. Once everyone returned to their home city or state, things calmed down some and the girls and I settled into our role as dog-sitters for the rest of the week.
We arrived back in Aurora on Friday night to a condo flooded with unpacked boxes. Ben & I have been hard at work unpacking, setting up and weeding through our belongings. I am proud to say that I have a have fully set up kitchen, can get to my bed without tripping over boxes and dropped off a car-load of items no longer needed to Goodwill. How is it that you can start off a marriage with only the bare essentials and end up with way too much stuff? I swear, I don't remember buying most of this stuff. Did I sleep-shop?
Anyway--we are back and slowly, things are returning to normal. That said, I am hoping to schedule playdates with a few friends, visit the Children's Museum a few times and continue making our new residence feel like home. Yep, my plate is full once again, but would I have it any other way, probably not. Life would be too dull!

No, I don't play a neurosurgeon on TV...

But, I might as well as familiar as I am becoming with medical terminology lately. Let's just say that I've become a dedicated advocate for Cara and her medical care. We have survived surgery--$21K worth--followed immediately (seriously, we were home for a whole 3 hours) by an ER visit due to projectile vomiting, which, of course, stopped the moment we walked through the ER's doors. The diagnosis for said projectiling? Cara's brain and it's connected parts hadn't gotten used to the change (less) in pressure in her brain due to a working (thank goodnes, no malfunctioning) VP shunt. Her neurosurgeon said to give it a few days and see if she wasn't better. By golly, he was right! Thank you Children's Hospital for that lovely 12 hour wait in the ER to be seen by a neurosurgery resident, CT scan with the dolphins on the ceiling and chicken puppet, and $6K bill. You can't put a price on a peace of mind.
Since this episode, Cara has been doing wonderfully. I continue to be amazed at how quickly she recovered from a having something permanently implanted in her skull. Our little trooper only needed a regular dose of Tylenol for the first day and a half! She was back to her normal self--even a bit more happier and less fussy. She has started to do an "Army crawl" when she wants to reach something and is vocalizing up a storm. Still, she is behind developmentally--not crawling, walking, pulling herself up, etc. So, being the advocate that I am, I spoke with the Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy (PT/OT) department at the hospital and we have what is called an open-clinic evaluation on September 26th to see which services she might benefit from. I also need to ask about a speech & language pathologist to work on helping Cara learn to talk. I am so excited to hear her say "Momma" or "Dada" for the first time. Hopefully, with some techniques and strategies from the PT/OT people, Cara will catch up by leaps & bounds and will continue to be the happy little toddler who always has a big smile on her face.
She also has a follow-up CT scan in October to check the placement and functioning of her shunt and then will see her neurosurgeon right after for a follow-up with him. So far, so good, so I am hoping this appointment will be brief.
Let's just say that we will know our way around Children's Hospital like it was our own backyard and I will be shooting off medical terms like Doogie Howser. I am determined to become just shy of an expert on all things related to hydrocephalus so that I am certain that Cara is receiving the very best care that she can get. Thankfully, I have found a few moms who have already been down this road of whom I can ask questions and receive advice. One such mom, Sarah, has been so very helpful and patient in answering my 50,000+ questions. She has a beautiful and amazing daughter herself and is also quite the knowledge source and advocate. It's so comforting to know that I'm not alone--that others have gone through this and their children are doing so much better as a result. It gives us hope for Cara, that the future will bring nothing but the best for her. But, even if she doesn't move forward from where she is right now, we are okay with that and will love her nonetheless. She will always be our Bubba (and Peanut and Cara Lou) and Lulu Bird (don't ask how Ben came up with that one) regardless.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

80's Memories

This quiz got me thinking about some of my favorite things from the 80's and how most of them have become popular again. Caitlin has My Little Pony, Polly Pocket, a Cabbage Patch Kid, Mr. Potato Head, Colorforms and other things that I used to play with. This is "Laura's Childhood Part 2" and I'm having fun!

You Are 72% A Child of the 80s

Not only did you experience the 80s... you are practically an expert.
You should be totally stoked!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Success!

Cara's surgery went very smoothly. She was back in post-op recovery around 5pm and moved to a recovery room around 8pm (they were booked, so we were on hold). She is returning to her normal self, wanting to eat and drink and playing peek-a-boo with Mommy. If everything continues to go as planned, we should be released tonight or early tomorrow morning! It's amazing how children bounce back from things like this so quickly.

In other news, we were approved yesterday afternoon for a condo (rental). We will be moving on Friday, August 24th and hope to having everything settled by the 29th. Thankfully, the development is just down the road from where we are, allowing us to "move dirty" if needs be. We will have a 1st floor condo which means NO MORE STAIRS!

So, all is well in our world. We are extremely thankful to the Lord for watching over Cara and the dilligence of the medical staff here at Children's Hospital. They have been wonderful. Also, I want to thank everyone, once again, for their thoughts, prayers, text messages, emails, phone calls, instant messages, etc. I don't know how I would've made it through this without you all. We know that your thoughts and prayers made a difference. We felt surrounded by love & support.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Kind of Pizza

Thanks Kendra for this idea...

It's funny that what you put on your pizza and how you eat it can tell so much about a person! I'm all over that "travel to Hawaii" part.

What Your Pizza Reveals

Your appetite is pretty average. You don't go overboard - but you don't deprive yourself either.

You aren't particularly picky about pizza. It's so good... how could you be? You fit in best in the Western part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are dependable, loyal, and conservative with your choices.

You are carefree and friendly. You should consider traveling to Hawaii.

The stereotype that best fits you is geek. You're the type most likely to order pizza to avoid leaving your computer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fictional Father Figure

Say that three times fast! Okay, I'm not looking to replace my father, but this was kind of funny...



Your Daddy Is Patrick Stewart



What You Call Him: Papito



Why You Love Him: He's the Mack Daddy



It's funny because my dad's name is Don(ald) and how they got Patrick Stewart from that, I'll never know. But, I've always loved Mr. Stewart from Star Trek days. He has the sexist voice. He's narrated a couple of books and TV specials and I just melt!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Going Under the Knife

Cara had her pre-surgical consultation at Children's Hospital yesterday. We met with the neurosurgeon who is going to be performing the surgery and felt confident that he will do a good job and take care of our daughter. Surgery has tentatively been set for Friday, August 17th in the afternoon and will go as planned as long as the doctor receives the CD-Rom of MRI images in time to review them before the surgery. He wants to make sure that a shunt is the best option for Cara and see exactly where the placement would be.

My mom googled the doctor last night and found out that he has some pretty remarkable credentials including having been a professor at Harvard University. He is just modest and simple, so he doesn't flaunt what he's done or where he's been. He's done thousands of this particular procedure and has been in pratice for over 30 years, operating at two different hospitals.

So...we will be admitted to the hospital on Friday morning for the pre-op stuff (IV antibotics, etc) followed by the surgery 4 hours later. Cara will remain at the hospital overnight and go home the next day as long as everything goes well.

My mom will be coming across again to be by my side as will my brother and very soon-to-be sister in law. Again, I am so blessed to have my family & friends for support and assistance! We love you guys, each and every one of you.

Prayers, prayers and more prayers, please!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Two for One

The ball is rolling on Cara's hydrocephalus. Her pediatrician got the MRI results yesterday and promptly called me explain them in layman's terms. He wanted us to move quickly on getting Cara in to see a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children's Hospital. After running to the pediatrician's office to pick up a copy of the MRI results and the name of a neurosurgeon, I was on the phone attempting to book an appointment. My mom ended up having to act as an intermediary since I was having trouble hearing and understanding the appointment scheduler. At first, it looked like we weren't going to be able to get in for a consultation until September, then it moved up to the end of August. Cara's pediatrician felt that there was some urgency to her case, so he called the pediatric neurosurgery department, pleading Cara's case and got us in this Friday (8/10). She is going to see the neurosurgeon recommended by her pediatrician even though I got another referral from my mom (long story) for another who is supposed to be the best in the state...so we may end up changing doctors if we're not impressed. She is also going to see a plastic surgeon at the same time. I'm not entirely certain why a plastic surgeon is necessary but, I'm guessing that it's due to the scars that will result from the surgery. Two surgeons in one visit...way to simplify things, I suppose. Right now, it is of dire importance that we get a surgical consult done ASAP. I am prepared for the fact that we might be prepping Cara for surgery as early as this weekend or the first part of next week depending on the neuro's take on the MRI results and the degree of urgency he attaches to her case. It could be next month too, no way to know right now. From everything that I've read, it looks like there will be a 2-3 day hospital stay after the surgery, assuming that she has a shunt put in. If they do another procedure, I have no clue as to how long as there wasn't much information available on alternative surgeries. I would really like for her to have a endoscopic third ventriculostomy because it is less evasive and sounds like permanent fix to the problem whereas shunts can malfunction and get infected...so it's a life long thing. Right now, we are playing "wait and see" until 2 o'clock on Friday. Then, we should have a lot of answers to our questions.

Again, please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. We are all a little scared of what is yet to come. I take comfort in the knowledge that my family and friends are there for me. My mom will be making the 5 hour journey across the state to be here for the consultation. We need all the support (and medical know-how) that we can get.

Thanks everyone for your love, friendship, caring and support!

Monday, August 06, 2007

3 Weeks and a Dilemna

For those that don't know, our lease is up at the apartment complex known as Del Dumpe (yes, even the 4 year old calls it that due to my slip of tongue one very frustrating day) at the end of this month. We signed a notice telling them that we will not be returning despite the pleads and "great special offers" or the lure of the new community center. Some of you may remember the issues we were having with maintenance and our neighbors. Frankly, we think we can do better. For the better part of the last month, I have combed through page upon page of listings on Craig's List and have found a few that look promising. We'd really like to get the 3 bedroom house. We've seen the inside and really like it. It's big and open, with more than enough space for our growing family. Not to mention that there's a 2 car garage and a nice sized, fenced-in backyard. However, I just didn't feel a good vibe from the owner. He's supposed to let us know by tonight, so we'll see. This house is also in a great neighborhood with kick-butt schools and REALLY stinking close to the water park. I have also called on a 3 bedroom townhouse that's right by Cherry Creek State Park. Again, it's in a good area with the same kick-butt schools. Hopefully, the property consultant will email me back tomorrow so that we can go down and check it out. If all else fails, we have arranged to move into a condo-style apartment about two miles away from where we are. It's really nice but, again, it's an apartment and we're trying to avoid returning to apartment living at all costs.
What's going to be interesting is finding a new place, getting the money together to move in, pack up our stuff here and load it into a Budget truck along with the things that are in our storage unit (only bare essentials are with us now), move in and get things semi-unpacked all before I have to show my face in Montrose for the start of my brother's wedding activities. Whew, talk about a busy few weeks!
Of course, add all of this to what is going on with Cara and that makes for complete chaos! I must find order in this chaos though...what choice do I have? Well, wish me luck!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cara's MRI

Cara went in today for her MRI at 9:30am and was back in recovery around 11am. She was given an oral sedative and then two doses of another sedative in shot form. She was so out of it, there's no way she could've moved a muscele. We were in recovery for about 3 hours, waiting for her to be alert enough to sit up, hold up her head and drink. She will still be groggy for the rest of the day, but she did very well.
We went to Montrose Memorial and were spoiled rotten. My mom works there and had, of course, spread the word that we were coming. They have always treated us well though--like family. I'm so glad that we drove out here to have this done rahter than waiting 3+ weeks to go to Children's. An MRI is an MRI and now, her pediatrician should have the results no later than Tuesday.
The next step is to meet with a pediatric neurosurgeon to discuss the results and how to proceed.
Ben & I want to thank you all for your thoughts & prayers and ask you to keep it up as the journey has just begun.

We have the best friends and family members out there & we love you all.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Unfortunate Events

Things have taken a definite turn for the worse (not to be pessimistic) with Cara. After running a fever, vomiting and not having an appetite for about 48 hours, we determined that it was time to call her doctor. We got an appointment this afternoon for her to be seen. Our biggest concern being dehydration since the poor baby couldn't keep anything down for more than a couple of hours. A thorough examination led to the conclusion that Cara has a mild ear infection and that the pain and nausea associated with that was probably causing her to vomit. We were given a Rx for amoxicillin and told to offer her fluids around the clock and if she wasn't much improved by the end of the weekend, to bring her back on Monday. We narrowly escaped a positive culture for Strep, thank goodness!

We had also asked the doctor to discuss the ultrasound results from Children's Hospital earlier in the week. We had been praying that the radiologist saw nothing alarming...that it was just genetics. Unfortunately, Lady Luck was not on our side. Instead, the ultrasound found that the three front lobes of Cara's brain are enlarged and causing some concern. Her doctor wants us to take Cara in for a MRI to provide more details and hopefully reveal the reason for the enlargement. At this point in time, her doctor has no idea what this enlargement could mean. She did say, however, that it could very well explain her developmental delays, but that would be the call of a pediatric neurosurgeon, if it came to that. It could be nothing at all or it could be something quite serious. Originally, we were going to take Cara back the Children's Hospital for the MRI but, then, found out that they are 2-3 weeks backlogged. There's no way that I would be able to wait that long wondering what's wrong with my baby, so I put in a call to my mom and asked her to check with the hospital in Montrose. Being a smaller hospital, there's not as much demand or a backlog, so as long as our insurance will cover it, Cara has an appointment there on Thursday morning. We will be packing up and going over on Tuesday, most likely, as long as Cara is feeling much improved from the ear infection. My mom will be able to go to the hospital with me (Ben will be here in Denver, he has to work all week, unfortunately, but he is very supportive of me going to Montrose and getting this done ASAP) and hopefully, we'll get Caitlin's former sitter (or maybe my best friend) to watch her while we go.

Please, continue praying, thinking good thoughts and crossing fingers & toes. I'm trying to to think "what if" or worse case scenario but, I will admit to being scared out of my mind. My little girl has been through so much in her short life and it seems like there's no end in sight.

Thanks everyone & I'll continue to keep you posted.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Birthday Splash!



Since the sprayground has become one of the most popular summer attractions for the girls, it was the natural choice for hosting their joint birthday party. Wednesday, the 18th turned out to be the perfect day for playing in the water. Temperatures crept up near 100 degrees (oh, humanity!)and the water spraying down was lukewarm--not goosebumps cold nor sauna hot. While, for some unknown reason, Cara was not that into splashing around, Caitlin had the time of her life and told everyone she ran into that it was her birthday today. In fact, when we first got there, she just had to go around and show the other little girls her birthday dress (a yellow flower print dress with an overlay that my mom made) and twirl around for them.
After Caitlin had enough fun running and splashing (and was chilled to the core), we headed over the our picnic shelter and began to grill hot dogs. There's something about BBQing outdoors that makes everything taste better...maybe it's the grill marks on the dogs but, the hot dogs were awesome along with the salads and chips.
After everyone was full, it was time to open presents. Of course, this was the part that Caitlin had been waiting for, rather impatiently, days. She was jumping up and down and smiling real big with anticipation while her Grandpa and I brought the presents over from our cars. Her enthusiam showed for each and every present she opened--exclaiming over each one.
Cara joined in the festivities from her stroller giving us big grins when we presented her with present upon present. Big sister helped her unwrap them, of course. While she got some great gifts, Cara was much more fasinated by the ribbons on her packages and the bright paper than the gifts themselves, at least until they were out of the boxes and she could play with them.
Both girls were spoiled pretty darn rotten by their parents and grandparents. One of my favorite gifts was a family membership to the Children's Museum of Denver. I love the fact that we can now go whenever we want, for how long we want without spending $14+ each time. We've already been once and both girls had a jolly good time. We even get the scoop on special members-only events and new exhibits. I cannot wait to get our money's worth out of the membership, especially during the winter.
After opening gifts, Mother Nature decided to grace us with her windy presence, blowing everything (including Cara in her stroller) all over the place. We had to quickly pack up and move the celebration back to our loft.
Once there, we lit the candles upon the Dora the Explorer and Care Bears cakes, sang "Happy Birthday" times two and let the girls dig in. Cara had the most fun with her piece, slurping up every last bite. She was quite a mess and promptly got a bath which filled the bottom of the tub with candy confetti. Caitlin's favorite part of the cake was the icing. I was so tempted to just by the kid a tub of whipped frosting, put a candle on top and call it a done deal!
After cake & ice cream was eaten and enjoyed, my parents retired to their hotel room and the girls wound down (or up) by playing with some of their new toys. The popular favorite was Cara's Bounce & Spin Zebra from Mommy & Daddy. Both girls had fun riding on it.
All in all, it was a great day! The girls really had a blast and were so happy to see their grandparents to boot.

**Oh, I wanted to brag, just a bit. Cara's cake was the $6 WalMart special. I had them write on it for me, for free. Then, after searching around the store without success for some Care Bear figurines, I came back to pick up the cake and asked if I could purchase on of the Care Bears cake top decorations that they had. The bakery manager disappeared and then returned with two sets (4 bears total) and asked me which I wanted. Being the budget conscious person that I am, I asked how much they were and she said, "Go on, take them, they're free!" Both of them, all four bears for free! Score! I think Cara's cake looked good, if I do say so myself. FYI--Caitlin's cake was from Target and I think they have the best marble cake with buttercream frosting ever!

On the "Forefront"

Before I start a post on the girls' birthday party celebration, I wanted to write about something that really had Ben & I (along with our close friends and family) wondering. Our youngest, Cara, went in for an ultrasound of her frontal lobe area of the brain yesterday. Her pediatrician showed some concern because her head circumference has been measuring off the charts for several months now. At first, he was hoping that the rest of her would catch up to her "out of proportion" cranium. When that didn't happen, he wondered if it was genetics. However, been at approximately 105% of average still worried him. He wanted to be sure that she didn't have hydrocephalus, which could account for the reason why Cara is a bit behind in her developmental milestones like crawling, walking, pulling up, etc. So, he wrote up an order for the ultrasound and we drove to downtown Denver yesterday afternoon to the pediatric imagining department of Children's Hospital. We arrived on time, after a nerve-wrecking experience parking in an ancient parking structure (problem to resolved when the hospital moves to the Fitsimmons campus in October). Let me just say that this hospital is the cutest and most kid friendly place I've ever seen. The information desk looks like a hot air balloon and there's a huge fish tank, TV playing Disney channel shows and playhouses in the waiting area. Doesn't seem like a hospital in a lot of ways. Anyway, we checked in at the pediatric imaging department and waited about 15 minutes for our turn. We were escorted to the ultrasound room by Jessica, a really sweet ultrasound technician. She put enough gel on Cara's hair to hold a mohawk for a long time, did the ultrasound while I kept Cara from swatting at her and within 10 minutes, we were out.
We are still waiting for the results from Cara's pediatrician and have an an appointment scheduled for next week. While we seriously doubt that there's anything "wrong" with Cara's cute little brain, we are prepared for the news that she might need some physical therapy to help her learn to crawl and walk. We will do whatever it takes to help her along. Looking back, I think it was meant to be that I became a SAHM because should she need PT a few times a week, I will be free to take her whereas, had I been working, I would've had to take time off. There is a divine plan and reason for everything in life.
So, if I may ask, could you all keep Cara in your thoughts & prayers over the next week or so as we find out the results of the ultrasound and decide on how best to go forward from here. No matter what we find out, nothing will change how much we love our little girl and how she means the world to us!

Political Profile

If only it was this easy to figure out where I stood on all the issues surrounding politics and the upcoming 2008 election. I could go on & on about how I would do things differently but now, talk is cheap! As for the results of this profile, doesn't surprise me one bit that I'm more liberal. I really would like to know if it's possible to be a sociology/social work major and be an extreme conservative?

Your Political Profile:

Overall: 35% Conservative, 65% Liberal

Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Happy Birthday Caitlin!

(Bad mommy forgot to publish this post on the 24th)


Little Bug--2003


Balancing Act--July 2007


Dear Caitlin,

There's something we want to tell you...
We are so proud of the young lady that you are becoming. Your independent personality is really starting to show through and you are one unique little girl. You are so smart and creative. You continue to amaze us with the things that you know, say and do. Your biggest accomplishments in the last year have been learning to use the potty, riding a "big girl" bike, writing your name, "pumping" a swing, balancing on a balance beam, and learning your ABC's. We are so very proud of you and love you more than you'll ever know. We are looking forward to being a part of your very active and exciting life. Please allow us to come along for the ride but please, don't be in a big hurry to race on ahead. Even if you do, Mommy & Daddy will be there, in the distance, watching out for you. Forge on, Princess Caitie!

Happy 4th Birthday!

Love always,

Mommy & Daddy

In 1978

In 1978 (the year you were born)

Jimmy Carter is president of the US

US Senate votes to turn over the Panama Canal to Panama on December 31, 1999

Israel and Egypt reach a peace settlement at the Camp David Accords

The US and mainland China announce that they will restore full diplomatic relations

Members of Jim Jones' People's Temple commit mass suicide in Guyana

Pope John Paul II becomes the first non-Italian pope in centuries

Ted Bundy is captured in Florida

The first computer bulletin board system is created

Garfield debuts in newspapers

Ashton Kutcher, Kobe Bryant, Usher, Clay Aiken, and Nelly Furtado are born

New York Yankees win the World Series

Dallas Cowboys win Superbowl XII

Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup

Saturday Night Fever and Grease are the top grossing films

"Night Fever" by the Bee Gees spends the most time at the top of the US charts

Diff'rent Strokes and Mork & Mindy premiere

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New pictures

Hello everyone! I have just uploaded new birthday pictures to my Flickr. Again, they are set so that only family & friends can view them. So, if you don't have a Flickr account, you might want to get one. Trust me, the pictures are worth it. Or, if you'd prefer, you can send me an email and I'll send you a few of my favorite pictures.

I will post later about the girls' birthday and other news.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Cara!



Happy Birthday to our little Peanut, recently renamed Bubba. It's so hard for Mommy & Daddy to believe that twelve months have gone by since the day that you joined our family. You have brought so much love and happiness into our lives. As we look back, we are amazed at how much you've changed and how much you've learned. We have enjoyed watching you blossom from a tiny baby into a bubbly toddler full of personality. It's been quite the journey, sweet girl, one which has only just begun! Many more milestones & memories await us. We will always be by your side.

We love you!

Mommy & Daddy


Then, such of a little peanut--small and, oh so precious!


Now, a sweet little girl with a personality as bouncy as her hair.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Meme Go 'Round

I got tagged by Judy to do this Meme...so here goes. Trying to make this 8 things that you don't know about me.

THE RULES:
List 8 facts/habits about yourself
Post the rules at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed
Tag 8 people and post their names, go to their blogs and leave them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and ask them to read your blog.

1. I once took my car (an '88 Dynasty) up a 4-wheel drive only trail. We're talking over boulders and all of that.

2. It is my secret goal (well, I guess it's not a secret anymore) to own all the Disney movies ever made.

3. I once wanted to be an interior designer and have a whole notebook full of room designs, furniture, etc.

4. I often read books in reverse...meaning that I'll read the last chapter or two and then go back to the beginning. Sometimes, I just can't wait to see how a book ends.

5. I have a bizarre urging to catalog the books, CDs and DVDs in my house.

6. I'd love to get selected for TLC's What Not to Wear. I wouldn't even give Stacy and Clinton too much lip.

7. I once went to summer camp and spent 2 weeks learning how to "de-bean" a horse.

8. I have a long list of places I want to see and things I want to do before I die. Some of them would surprise you.

Umm, as far as tagging people...I don't know 8 people who have blogs who could do this, who haven't already done this.

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