Monday, April 27, 2009

A Very Restful Monday

We kept LB up till 10 last night; he usually goes to bed between 7 and 7:30. We were with friends. We had put on a VeggieTales video and we were playing board games and having fun. So LB got to stay up late. This morning he woke up a little later than usual, but not by much: a little after 7.

Then around 9 this morning he was in need of a nap, so I put him down. He slept for four hours. I knew it was going to be a long nap! (I got to do all kinds of stuff, with the house to myself and LB asleep!) A little after 1 when I checked on him (for the tenth time it felt like) he was more or less awake. But he didn't want to get out of the crib. I switched the laundry and did some other stuff, but he still didn't want out. So I pulled the side back up and left, with the door partially closed. After a few minutes I very sneakily peeked back in.
He's sitting there, very happily sucking on binky, holding on to blankie, and playing with books. I zoomed in with the camera to get a closer shot.
He saw me! I guess I wasn't as sneaky as I thought!

He still doesn't want out though. He's still in there, talking to himself while I'm in here. On one hand I feel like I should pull him out, insist that he get dressed (it's 1 in the afternoon!!), and get some lunch. On the other hand, why should it be a fight? He wants to sit in his crib a little longer, what's wrong with that? Lunch can wait. Clothes can wait. I'm sure I can find something to do for a little while longer ;)

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Thursday, April 23, 2009


As you know from a previous post, continuing with my previous OB, Dr. Link, was out of the question. So began my search.

I began with Google searches and found a (large) list of all the OB/GYNs in the area. I randomly picked a couple and wrote down their phone numbers. I also found contact information for the OB/GYN clinic at Vanderbilt and some other clinics in the area with nice web pages. It was rather overwhelming, and I didn't entirely like the idea that I was going to end up with a doctor effectively chosen by closing my eyes and pointing at the phone book page.

I was debating about including the (financial) numbers here, because I wasn't sure it was necessary, but then I thought that if I'm going to put in the effort to blog about it, I might as well include ALL the information because I've shown up in search engine results before, and as a searcher, how helpful is a blog post on the exact topic you're searching if it's just a bunch of vague references?

(Yes, that is ONE sentence. I got skills.)

Here are our baselines: Dr. Link wants $2500 up front. That includes all the office visits and the delivery. It does not include lab work, ultrasound(s) or hospital etc. costs. The imaging place where we had LB's ultrasounds done charges $380.

I called four other offices, plus Vanderbilt.

Option 1 (Vanderbilt) is $9,000 (but that includes the hospital costs (since they ARE a hospital, you know), so it's hard to compare.). They take $500 at the first visit and $150-$200 at each visit after that.

Option 2 is $3,040: $500 at the 1st visit and $100/visit after that. They gave quotes for some of the other costs: $400 for ultrasound + reading (whatever that means) and $500 for labwork (ouch!!).

Option 3 doesn't do OB anymore, just GYN, but they gave me phone numbers to two other places (places, btw, I had found online - nice websites, but no contact info! Just a form to fill out and then THEY would email ME. Nuh-uh, I want to be in control of when I talk to these people!)

Option 4 is $3,300: $1,000 at the 1st visit and the rest due by 28 weeks. That includes one ultrasound (nice! except for wanting 1g at the 1st visit, not so nice).

Option 5 is $3,000, but has a 10% discount if a cash patient: $350 at the first visit and over $300 at each subsequent visit (yikes!).

The five options are more reasonable for our situation than Dr. Link's policy: We'd rather pay-as-we-go than put it all down and hope for a refund.

We decided that option 2 was the best (financial) choice. So I called to make an appointment. In the course of the call, I tried to verify that they were still at X location. "We don't have a location there anymore, we're only in this other city that's really far away now." (no, that's not REALLY what she said, but kinda.) Bummer. I called DH and we discussed (briefly) and decided that the 20-30 minute drive wasn't THAT bad, just because it's a place I've never been before and seems sketchy in my mind. So I made the appointment. Tuesday. At 10 am.

The day before the appointment (so that would be....Monday), a new thought occurred to us: midwives! They're not "doctors" - they don't go through the same type of schooling, so maybe they'd be less expensive.

So Monday morning I'm on the internet, looking up more phone numbers. Since the OBs were all awfully similar, we decided I only needed to call a couple to get an idea. So I picked three (randomly, for the most part), and called. .

The first one didn't answer. Her answering machine message suggested that email would be more effective. I left a message and also sent an email.

The second one didn't answer. I left a message.

The third one answered and the information she gave me almost knocked me out of my chair: $200 at the first visit, $80 at each visit after that; labwork $209, ultrasound $100 (1.5 hour drive though). Wow. Can I say that again? Wow. I made an appointment right then and there (May 1st). Okay, so it's a 30 minute drive. But it's in a MUCH nicer city than that other one. So that makes all the difference, right?

After I made the appointment, I started reading more about midwives, and subsequently home births. I had read some of this information when I was pregnant with LB, but didn't delve too deeply into it. Being a petite size, I wasn't sure I'd be able to deliver, and midwives (obviously) don't do c-sections. But for us in this situation right now, it works out so very nicely. I'm actually rather excited about learning more about midwives and home births. I kind of have a unique opportunity to try something (anything I want!) for these five months, because I'll be starting over when we move. You can be sure you'll be hearing a lot more about THIS these next months. I expect I'll be drawing lots of comparisons, not to say that one is better, but simply how they're different.

The first thing is that the exam room, besides being in someone's HOUSE, looks like this:
I'm actually quite curious about the I lie on the bed sideways...? Does the midwife kneel on the foot of the bed...? ....

The other two midwiferies (is that the right spelling?) called back. (well, one emailed). One had similar numbers, but since I already had an appointment with this one, the decision was kinda already made (did I jump the gun on that? Was I too hasty? I just got so excited that it was SO much lower than ALL the OBs!). The other one isn't taking new patients, so THAT decision was already made too.

So, I did not find an OB to go to instead of Dr. Link. I DID find a less expensive option for my prenatals, though, and I'm really looking forward to this new experience.

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P.S. On a totally different note, I put some new pictures in the side bar. The others were almost half a year old! Not that DH or I have changed that much, but LB sure has!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Comedy theater - right from my kitchen table!

From the back of our house, we have a rather nice view of the neighborhood behind us:
(This picture was taken from an upstairs window only moments ago. Isn't it a pretty day today?)

Yesterday afternoon I was rooted to the kitchen floor by a scene that was taking place on the roof of the house directly behind us. (The gray roof on the right side of the picture.)

Apparently, the homeowners (I know they're homeowners because I've talked to them. Their names are Travis and Suzanne and they have two little girls) hired some people to clean out their gutters. When the action first caught my eye, I could only see one guy. He was sitting near the chimney. It was a very windy day yesterday and he was having trouble with his black plastic trash bag. I stopped what I was doing to watch because I wanted to see if it was Travis. It wasn't. But I kept watching anyway as he finally got his trash bag under control, then, veeerrryy slooooowly inched towards the gutter, reeeeeached a hand out...grabbed some crud...fumbled with his bag...and finally deposited the crud. Then he paused...messed with his bag...adjusted his position...paused...then reeeeached into the gutter for another handful...fumbled with his bag...dropped some of it...finally deposited it, then paused.

At this point I was mesmerized. He was moving soooo sloooowly, I wondered if he planned to be there until dark? He adjusted his position...looked around...then reeeeached into the gutter. When he sat up again, there was nothing in his hand! This didn't stop him from messing with his bag, adjusting his position, and looking around though. Then he reeeeeached into the gutter. This time, he brought up a huge wad of crud. Was he making up for the previous attempt? As he fumbled with his bag, he dropped half the wad, and subsequently pushed the dropped crud back into the gutter. I couldn't help laughing. It's a good thing he didn't know I was there, watching his every move, memorizing it for a future blog post (poor guy...).

There was another person on the roof, behind the chimney. Every once in a while I could see an elbow, and there was lots of debris falling (being thrown?) to the ground. Then he, whoever that person was, got up and started walking towards the star of the show. Suddenly, Mr. Taking-it-easy stepped it up. He reached into the gutter, grabbed a handful, shoved it in his bag, reached into the gutter, grabbed a handful, shoved it in his bag. If I hadn't been laughing before, I certainly was now! Obviously he was very aware that his performance was sub-par and didn't want anyone to know!

I decided that I'd probably had enough fun at the guy's expense and found something more useful to do. I just hope Travis and Suzanne were paying them by the job and not by the hour!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

In which I announce some news and share more details than you wanted to read

LB's napping, so I have some time to myself. While I probably SHOULD be doing something "productive" like doing the dishes...I'd rather not :)

The first thing I HAVE to tell you is that I'm pregnant! Yay! We're really excited. (Ehart, you guessed it: that was why I cried so hard in church that day!) I'm 9 weeks along; the due date (according to the internet) is November 19. We found out at 5 weeks but didn't tell anyone until my parents were here (7 weeks) (More fun to tell in person). It was so hard to keep it a secret! Every time I talked to my mom on the phone I wanted to just blurt it out! The hardest was the morning after the positive test. We found out Saturday night, so Sunday morning was REALLY HARD! All our friends, and we had JUST learned something exciting, but couldn't say a thing! Well, now all our family knows. We told my folks first, then DH's parents (over the phone). We gave permission for them to spread the news, so everyone knew within two days (yeah, phone calls are not my favorite thing).

We haven't told our friends here though. My first reaction was to tell family, but wait to tell friends until after the first trimester. That's what we did with LB: we told family first (at 4 weeks, and that was a tough decision because it was so early! It's a great story though. 'Nother time perhaps), but didn't tell anyone here until 14 weeks. But that was a completely different situation: I was working and didn't really want the whole office to know if it wasn't a viable pregnancy. I mean, if something happened, family is supportive, but I didn't feel that strangers and acquaintances needed to know all the details.

Well, we'll have to tell our friends soon.

So expect to see many more preggy posts! Sitting in this quiet sunshine filled room all by myself while LB naps gives me the illusion that I'm completely isolated, so I'm apt to share all manner of personal details that I would NEVER divulge in person. Hope you don't mind.

Now that you've been warned, let's get this party started with some digestive tracts issues and OB woes.

I've been having major tummy pain, with bloating. Intense, can't-do-anything-until-it-subsides, pain. It goes away after some gurgling noises (things moving around?) and I often burp (belch?). It had happened about 3 or 4 times, then hadn't happened for a while. My parents arrived and we went to Gatlinburg for the weekend. Saturday evening we had dinner at a brewery and I was so hungry, I ordered a steak. Well, after dinner, I had that intense pain. I sat in the bathroom for a while, but no good. We slowly walked back to the condo we had rented, stopping when the pain came back and continuing when it subsided. Then I threw up my whole dinner in the street. (Talk about miserable experiences in Gatlinburg! The first time we go, LB has a seizure, then when we try again, I can't keep my dinner down!). After that I felt much better. I confessed that I had been rather constipated. We determined that my system was so backed up, the dinner had no place to go, so it came back up. That evening I had a very loose bowel movement and everything seemed to be better. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our time in Gatlinburg.

But the tummy pain and bloating revisited me last night. I was able to use the bathroom and it went away, but it concerns me. I thought the problem was gone. Obviously, it's something I'll have to talk to my doctor about, which does NOT thrill me (who wants to discuss bowel movements with a stranger?). Speaking of doctors, I don't get to see the same OB who delivered LB :(

Dr. Link was recommended to us and we are SO SO SO glad! He was fantastic! So, this time, naturally, I assumed I would be seeing Dr. Link again. He doesn't see a patient for the first time until closer to 8 weeks, so I didn't even call him until then. So I called last week and made an appointment then asked to talk to whoever handles the payments and such. See, THIS time, I don't have maternity coverage. This is rather complicated, so bear with me.

We are not planning to be here permanently. As soon as DH graduates, he'll get a job, and it probably won't be here. So after LB was born, we dropped the insurance I had been on because the premiums had become ridiculous ($450 a month) and picked up essentially the same coverage for less than $200/month. It had been the maternity rider that got so expensive, so we didn't opt for it this time. Yes, that sounds irresponsible, but hold on, I'm not done. DH is expected to finish this August. Which means he'll be starting a new job in August (maybe September, but hopfully August). Which means we'll be moving before the baby is born (in Nov). So there was NO POINT in paying for a maternity rider here that we were never going to take advantage of. Of course, this whole thing would be a moot point in California (where we're from). ALL insurance includes maternity, so the cost is spread out. But HERE it's only the people women who are planning on getting pregnant who pay for the maternity coverage, so it's rather expensive. (One of the things, or perhaps the only thing, that DH will negotiate for is to have the company insurance pick up the rest of the pregnancy and birth.)

All that is to say that this time, I'm a "cash patient". And Dr. Link is too expensive. Actually his price is quite reasonable for the industry (yes, I did my research. On the phone. No I didn't enjoy it.) The problem is that he wants it up front. Paid in full before I even get past the front desk. And we just can't do it. We can afford a "down payment", and we can afford to pay at each visit. But we just can't put it all down at once. So sad. I begged the gal on the phone. I told her I'm a previous patient. Isn't there ANYTHING they could do?? She left me on hold for a good long while, but came back with a negative. "If we do it for one person then we have to do it for everyone." (Well, NO, you DON'T! You're a private entity, you can make and break your own rules! Sigh). So I had to find an OB with more reasonable terms.

Well, LB's still asleep! Let's see, what else is going on? (I'm talking to myself, btw. My mom does that on the phone, and I never know if she's asking me or herself! lol)

My parents flew back to CA on Monday. We had a great time while they were here. In addition to Gatlinburg, we also went to Kentucky (to see a cave) and Costco. (Yes, I think it's okay to draw a comparison between those two). DH and I don't have a membership to Costco (or Sam's Club), so it was really fun to shop there since my parents are members. Probably more fun than grocery shopping SHOULD be. Everything's in bulk, so our pantry, fridge, and garage are FULL of food! It's rather amazing. We have 15 boxes of Kraft Mac&Cheese. FIFTEEN!!! Of course you never can remember EVERYTHING at once, so we ended up a Walmart three times later in the week, and we already have a list going AGAIN! I like buying in bulk, and told DH that I anticipate we'll have memberships eventually. He's a little more skeptical. He's not sure the prices are actually any better. We'll have to do some comparisons some day.

DH stayed home on Wednesday, so he's at work today :( (He usually "works" from home on Fridays). It's a really, really nice day today, so we're really hoping he can come home early so we can go to the park or something before it rains this weekend.

I seem to be always tired almost to the point of falling asleep and hungry. Even after a meal, I'm hungry again a short time later. After our trip to Costco, the house is full of snackable food, but I have to be careful to not eat too much junk! I also have to be sure to snack while LB is napping or I'll have to share with him, and he doesn't need all the extra calories! (We've actually been very blessed with a very good eater. He eats just about whatever we put in front of him and he'll stop eating when he's full.)

Speaking of food, LB is still asleep, so I'm going to head to the kitchen and see what appeals to me. The tummy troubles seem to be aggravated by some foods, but I haven't had morning sickness (I didn't with LB either), so I've been very glad for that.

This sure turned into a really long post! I told you I had lots to say! I still have some other topics, but I want them to have their own posts, so that's all for this one! Thanks for sticking through to the end!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Coming up with a clever title is the hardest part

Well, we got the furniture all rearranged, just in time for my parents' visit. The direct result of having the computer upstairs? I don't turn it on anymore! LB and I still spend most of our time downstairs, and now that I can check email and Facebook and read blogs and all manner of other things on my nifty phone, I hardly use the computer anymore! Blogging from the phone doesn't seem to be happening though, so I haven't been blogging. I READ blogs, because I downloaded an RSS feed reader app, but it doesn't allow me to leave comments. So I've become a blog stalker.

How is it I'm posting this morning? I'm helping DH correct a paper he's working on, so he's playing with LB (it's so nice he gets to "work" from home sometimes :) ) while I use the computer. (LB can't be trusted near computers. If he doesn't turn it off, he wants to sit in the chair, type on the keyboard, and play with the mouse.) I've finished my task and am totally taking advantage of the baby-free time. So this can't be a long post. Which is a bummer, because I have LOTS of things to blog about. But I'm afraid I'll have to leave you in suspense, because I can't take anymore time here.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Browned Meat

This is the quickest, easiest way to brown a pound of ground beef (or turkey or whatever). I like browning it on the stove, but sometimes I'm in a hurry and need the meat browned QUICK. This method takes only about five minutes!

What you need: a plastic colander, a dinner plate, and your microwave.
Why a plastic colander? Well, you can't put a metal one in the microwave. Why a dinner plate? To catch all the grease that comes off the meat. You could brown the meat on the dinner plate and forget the colander, I suppose, but this way you can pour off the grease.

Here's a 1lb chub of ground beef, thawed and cut in half (to make it fit). I've used this method with frozen patties, but I've never tried it with a frozen chub. I'm not sure it would work as well.
It'll take about five minutes total to brown the meat, but you'll need to pull it out a couple times and break it up. I usually start with 2 minutes, break up the meat, another two minutes, break it up, and then however many more minutes I think it needs to finish (between 1 and 3).
At some point, you may need pour off the grease:
And then voila! One pound of perfectly browned meat, WITHOUT all the extra grease, and all the dishes are dishwasher safe! Easy!

Click here for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Several Questions

I have several problems that I need help with. Please respond to any or all of them that you have a suggestion for! I'd really appreciate any input.

1) I bought this cute pot, but the tag was attached with hot glue. Does anyone have an idea how to get hot glue off ceramic?

2) My son's rubber ducky has a green tinge to him. No, he hasn't got the flu, he's got mildew (ew!) I was thinking he needs a vinegar soak. Any other ideas?

3) We picked up this coffee table (for free, can't complain), but it needs some work. Those aren't stains - it's the wood underneath the cracked paint. I think we should strip the (poor) paint job and enjoy the natural wood. Does anyone have experience stripping paint? Do you have any suggestions for me? (best products, methods, etc.) Or if you have a different suggestion, I'm open for ideas!

4) My son played a little roughly with a vertical blind and ripped it right off. Any idea how to repair it? Or do you know if I can buy just ONE slat?

Thanks in advance for any help! If you're feeling particularly helpful, click here for more dilemmas that need solving!

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