Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Got a Dollar

My VA funds finally came through. No guarantees the amount's correct, but at least we can pay our bills now. It is kind of nice to get a bit of a windfall, two months pay all at one time. I'm not sure whether the compensation was simply a result of the problem being fixed, or whether it was due to my persistent phone calls and emails to HR, or maybe it was contacting our congressman, or maybe it was wielding my journalism past - regardless, this girl got paid and now this family can pay their bills. Phew!

How I Spent My Day

On the phone with HR. Writing letters to the Bureau af Labor and Industries and to the office of Senator Wyden. Calling to follow-up with my ONE patient who no-showed his appointment. Daydreaming about having my own private practice. Smiling at the picture texts of my delicious baby hanging out with her daddy at home.

Oh, what? You didn't email your state representatives today? Maybe that's because you get a regular paycheck. I, on the other hand, work for a federal organization that can't seem to figure out how to quickly remedy a "system error" in order to get me appropriately compensated for my hours worked. Yet, I continue to hold out hope that the bureaucratic clusterfuck will figure it out and in my impatience I'll continue to enjoy my small role in the organization and passion for serving Iraq/Afghanistan veterans with traumatic brain injury (and the cognitive impact that is probably more related to stress, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, and poor sleep).

I'm reminded of the news stories about the long waits for veteran benefits. Sure, my situation can't hold a candle to awaiting many, many months to receive compensation/pension for combat-related conditions. But still, I can imagine how hopeless or frustrated some may feel when up against a system so large it's difficult (near impossible) to connect to the right person to help your specific need.

Should you care to read up on the VA wait for yourself, here are a few news articles from a few different outlets to peruse from the last few months:

Friday, June 21, 2013

15 Months

Speech/Language: Her language skills far outpace her speech skills; I think this will be the last month that I can actually list out all her spoken words, and I can't even begin to list those she's understanding - she can follow directions well, and seems to know at least one new concept each day; as for her current repertoire:

Dada, mama, papa, duh (dog, duck, airplane sounds, anything unknown), nana, hot, hat, kakuh (cracker) guhguh (guitar), puh (pear), buh (bath, bed, ball, boat, bib, book, beer), nuhnuh (nose), nono (for things she's not supposed to touch), muh (Max, mouth, vaccum), mm (arm, mail) nuh (milk, Soothie), duhduh (toes), ah (eyes), up, home, daydee (baby), puhpu (applesauce, please), buhbuh (diaper, belly/button), mmmm (I'm hungry), wuf (woof), mow (meow); vrooms when pushing her car; inconsistently attempts to oink, quack, and choo-choo, when whining and asked to use her nice voice she points to her noise and says "puh puh"

Signs/Gestures: so big, blows kisses, please (she invented a sign where she points to her noise), thank you, love, waves, points, winks, more, all done, gives hugs and kisses

Motor: walks with walker or finger for support, climbs up and down stairs, crawls and bear walks, rolls and throws balls, likes to crawl under or squeeze behind things, dances, climbs on top is us to ride like a horse

Likes: getting what she wants, saying "mama" when asked "who's your homie?", daddy playing guitar, push toy, stirring, digging, identifying her head/hair/ears/nose/mouth/arm/belly/knees/feet/toes; making friends with strangers (but only when she feels like it); putting things in and out, climbing up and down the stairs, pretend rubbing lotion on her legs, playing in the kitchen drawers and cupboards; asks to go outside/for a walk, swinging, airplane and truck sounds; splashing in her water table; crackers -she talks about them all.the.time; naked crawling after bath; whining noises for attention/help

Dislikes: being denied crackers, sitting in her high chair for more than 6 minutes, green veggies, laying still for diaper changes, not getting what she wants

Physical: 8 teeth - one of them now chipped, strawberry blonde hairs, smiles really big with a wrinkled nose, Buddha belly, wearing mostly 12 month onesies but some 12-18 month clothing, wears Robeez shoes 6-12 months, at the dr. on 6/2/13 she weighed 20 lbs 5 oz

Sleep: naps about 2 hours twice daily; regularly sleeps through the night, about 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.; sleeps in her crib with her Soothie and surrounded by blankets, but doesn't like to have any blankets on top of her; usually cries a bit when we first put her down for a nap or the night, but then lays herself down and goes to sleep; seems like she might be toying with the idea of downgrading to just one nap

Eating: likes to feed with spoon but needs help loading spoon; drinks mostly from straw (still coughs when too big if a gulp); spent the first three weeks of this month as a very picky eater, but has since regained her appetite; favorite foods include; crackers and pretzels, applesauce, pears scrambled/hard-boiled eggs, yams, oatmeal, cereal in milk, beans, string cheese, apple, banana, oranges; nurses 3 to 5 times daily, is not drinking any other milks

Other: her attention span is increasing; she plays with more purpose; and she plays alone for longer periods of time; likes to observe others more than necessarily interacting with them; smiles with a wrinkle in her nose; turns BRIGHT pink/ red when warm; will tolerate sunglasses or a hat for a bit longer

Riding the guard pig while playing outside in the sunshine

Blowing kisses from her favorite rocking chair

"So big" in her new jumper handmade by Grammy

Playing in the pool with Logan

Bright red - I promise she's not sunburned

The Pope Mobile - loves her wagon on loan from Logan

Drawing with Grammy

Splashing around in the sand/water table her daddy made her

Riding shotgun with her summer buddy

Oregon girls swing in the rain

Multitasker - rocking her fedora, pushing her wagon, and FaceTiming Uncle B

Stirring the pot

Cuddling her mama

Walkin' it out

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dads are Cool

Happy Father's Day to the man who taught me: to swim, pitch a tent, ride a bike, survive in the wilderness, shoot a bow and arrow, that rabbits are food not pets, drive a stick shift, change a tire, balance a checkbook, ride a motorcycle, paint a room, dance, make lists, that money is fungible, to listen to Suze Orman, how to access podcasts, to watch Fox News "to know what the enemy is thinking," explore the world, to eat an entire carton of ice cream, to question the monkey mind, and that family matters most. Thanks for being a great teacher, a new grandpa, a strong supporter, an open communicator, an eccentric character, a good listener, and my favorite person to ask for help. Even at 31, I still need ya! Love you lots.

And the Bean says something that sounds like "daiyee." I think she means BDA rocks.

To my husband, the daughter of my little Bean. Thanks for loving her, and appreciating that I made her myself :) You're an amazing daddy, a fun co- parent, and you probably change more diapers than me. She loves her "dada" - and with good reason.

And to Papa Pablo - a doting grandfather, a fabulous FIL, and the man that showed my baby-daddy the ropes. Now if only you would move to PDX. Just think, as soon as the Bean gets a little bit older, she'll be just the right size for those hard to reach boat projects. Francie sure does love her papa (insert open mouth air kiss and love sign here).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cheater Cheater Red Robin Eater

"I've never been on a diet before, it makes me want to eat whatever I'm not allowed, like cold, leftover scrambled eggs. Even if they might have dropped on the floor."

"By the way, have you been cheating more?"

"I might have eaten bites of Costco sheet cake from the staff fridge when no one was watching. It's neither here nor there."

Believe it or not, that was a diet infidelity on Alex's part, not mine. I've been loyally adhering to our plant-based, whole-foods initiative for nearly two weeks. I quit diet soda cold turkey. None of my usual daily candy indulgences. No meat or dairy of any kind. Minimal oils. No fried foods. The only packaged food I've consumed has been graham crackers, pretzels, and dried fruit. But I have had sugar or agave, in the form of Oregon Chai or in homemade waffles. Oh yeah, and chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate chips from Trader Joes are dairy-free, FYI. It appears I can't survive in a world without chocolate. Why should anyone have to?!? But, overall, I have been surprisingly successful with this new approach to nutrition.

Until last night. I "cheated." I fell off the wagon. At Red Robin no less. It's not my fault, seriously. We had a grueling drive to drop our fabulous Grammy Nanny off at PDX, more than an hour in the car. The Bean was fussing. Alex was freaking out. We needed a break. And the Bean was hungry for dinner. Our choices included Famous Dave's BBQ, Buffalo Wild Wings, IKEA, Pizano's Pizza, Panda Express ... you get the picture. We settled on Red Robin, reminiscing about our high school days frequenting these kinds of establishments, remembering their yummy seasoned fries. Turns out they had ZERO vegetarian options, let alone vegan. We ordered the Bean a grilled cheese, of which she had one bite. I ordered just a side of sweet potato fries. And Alex opted for a cobb salad. I did, indeed, have a few bites of salad, and couldn't find a bite without blue cheese or bacon or egg. So be it. I'll tell you one thing, that's not how I imagined introducing animal products back into my dinners.

Overall, I've actually felt pretty great. I think the main reason is because I'm not drinking soda and eating candy, so my blood sugar is more regular. The first week I even felt like I had an easier time waking up in the morning. Except now I'm going on week 2 of this head/chest cold, and I've been doing lots of napping and eating whole grains only, with the occasional piece of fruit. Diet or no diet, I'm a carb-whore. Unfortunately, we've had some pretty disappointing dinners. I still love rice and beans as much as the next gal, but the recipes we've tried from the Forks Over Knives book have been pretty damn bland. We keep hoping that our taste buds will wake up to these more natural flavors. But so far we've just found ourselves adding more and more table salt.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Just Another Tuesday

I definitely just heard/saw an elderly white veteran singing along to Kelly Clarkson at the top of his lungs with his windows down, while parking his new cobalt blue Ford Edge in the disabled spot. I couldn't help but giggle aloud.

It's hard to believe (not!), but The Man has done it again. That's right, I'm being (temporarily?) screwed by bureaucracy. It appears that the VA failed to pay me for more than a week worked last November during my clinical fellowship. And I only discovered this because I have not received funds on either of the last two pay days since starting my new position. Hey, it's cool. I don't really need the money. I'm just working for fun. Besides, my hubby's a teacher, so we can totally support our wannabe-upper-middleclass lifestyle. Oh, what? With only his salary our mortgage payment is more than 50% of our income? What's that you say? Suze Orman recommends less than 30%?!? No, no indeed we can NOT afford to be without 1.5 incomes. But no worries, I actually got a returned phone call updating me on the glitch and the process underway to remedy it. I hope. My bet is on August.

Dinner last night was supposed to be fabulous - everything about the curried lentil recipe sounded yummy. But it was, indeed, a #pinterestfail. Cue the keyboardist playing "wa wa wa." Seriously, I added mae ploy (sweet thai sauce) and I still didn't eat much of it. I couldn't make myself bring it to work for lunch today, so PB & (corn syrupped) J it is. I got the Bean's cold (Alex said it's from letting her french kiss me) which makes it both easier and harder to eat "clean." It's easier because I'm not really tasting much right now. But it's more difficult because when I'm tired or don't feel well, I want comfort food - which is really just candy and ice cream. Surprisingly, Alex has been the cheater-eater so far, not me. I may have used some condiments that are likely "against the rules" - like mae ploy and blackberry jam, and the occasional olive oil for cooking - but have most definitely avoided the big criminals. He, on the other hand, ate two cookies at school yesterday. And then told me, "at least I didn't have any of the cake." We gotta count our successes as we see them.

Work continues to go well. The question is, what do I actually do? I'm a speech-language pathologist, yes. But really I'm a professional organizer. A life coach. A non-spousal nag. An Apple product pusher. And a scheduler. I help people make goals, and break them down into accomplishable tasks. I'm starting to build up my caseload now, which means I'm actually getting to do the work I was trained for, and not just learn all the institutional systems anymore. And the best part is, I don't really have to answer to anyone else. I just do my job while being part of a multidisciplinary team to better coordinate patient care. Sure, I have a supervisor, but her job is more to support my role on the team than it is to "oversee" my work, per say. Finally! Being an actual, bona fide SLP with a regular job (and theoretical pay) is so much cooler than being a student or fellow.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend Warriors

It's hard to believe, but we each got something done this weekend. On Saturday, "his" day, Alex finished designing, cutting, and placing the arbor. Our fence is officially done. Except from the stain we need to do sometime this month. And to think, it's only taken us just shy of three months.

And for "my" day, aside from sleeping in past 5:30 or 6 am, I got to finally put in some time painting the previously camo walls in the living room. Which then inspired me to rearrange all the furniture. Alex is twitching because he hates change. Of course now I want a new couch and different rug, but still haven't won the lottery so that's out.

And before I take on any other projects I still need to finish the other two walls, which will be "Silver Drop."

The Bean seems to have come down with a cold - phlegmy cough and runny nose. She's been pretty pathetic all day, and because my girlfriend's son has double ear infections, I took the Bean to urgent care just to be sure she doesn't need any antibiotics. So far her ears are clear. And she's still cute as can be, playing outside while daddy builds.

Ridin the guard big. Not even staged.

Rockin and blowin kisses.

As for eating: Alex made vegan waffles this morning, which did contain oil, which is on the FOK "avoid" list. But vegans eat it, so why can't we?!? We snacked on fruit and pretzels. Ate the leftover potato/corn chowder over rice for lunch, and I made pasta with lots of roasted zucchini, toasted almonds, and raisins, cooked with lemon juice instead of oil. Drank a small chai and lots of water. Feeling normal so far.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 1

I started my day with an apple and peanut butter, and my leftover iced chai with soy milk from our walk to Starbucks yesterday. After nap (both hers and mine) I ate oatmeal made with boiling water, and added sliced almonds and raisins, with lots of cinnamon and just a bit of maple syrup. For lunch, leftover potato soup with a slice of rye toast. Late afternoon, another slice of rye bread with peanut butter and jelly. And dinner consisted of grilled portobello sandwiches with roasted red pepper, lettuce from our garden, and an ear of grilled yellow corn - and yet again slices of that rye bread. I snacked a few times on dried apricot, and had hot soy milk with cocoa for dessert. Looks like we're gonna have to be careful about the toast intake and definitely the jelly. Oregon Chai should probably be excluded, but I like it too much. As far as I'm concerned, Day 1 = success.

Slow cooker potato soup with frozen corn and carrots. And Killer Dave's rye bread. The loaf is almost gone already.

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