4th Birthday Photo Session

4th Birthday Photo Session

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Andi Bean Turns 3!!!

Yesterday, Andi enjoyed her 3rd birthday!  The morning started with several helium balloons decorating our living room, presents galore on the floor, and some extra attention from her visiting uncle Chris.  We had a great day that included a trip to the local aquarium and dinner out on the town, where Andi ate like a champ.  It was a fun day full of laughter and moments of pausing to appreciate how far we've come in three years.

Over the past several weeks, I've worked on a Powerpoint presentation capturing a glimpse of the past three years in photos.  the slide show is set to music and it is, like life itself at time, extremely long.  Had I realized how difficult it would be to get it online, I would've chosen a different program.  Apparently, I have to convert it to a video file to get it up on You Tube, and then there's the whole size issue on top of that... basically, I'm sharing it through MailBigFile, which I renewed my subscription to - so if you haven't seen it and want to, shoot me a message with an email address, and I'll get an invitation to download it to you.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Andi's first week at preschool has been a tremendous success! 
The preschooler's breakfast of champions!

Preschool dancing with Bunny!

First ride to school!

Arriving in the classroom!

First day pick-up!

First day celebratory dinner:  Tom's Pizza, which she devoured.

"pizza! yum-yum-yum!!!"

She has seamlessly transitioned into the school, impressing the teachers and therapists.  Upon leaving school after her first day, we recorded this: 

So, her new words this week are "school", "backpack" and "Hi. How are you?!"  She's very friendly and outgoing, although not everyone understands her words.  She is very small compared to the other kids, but pretty happy and considerably well-adjusted.  Some of the other kids talk a lot, some don't talk at all.  They are all adorable in their own way.  One little boy actually dropped his teacher's hand and grabbed mine, as if to have me walk him out to the waiting bus. 

The teacher is pretty pleased with Andi's command of signs and words.  She said she has had a fairly easy time communicating with Andi, which is wonderful.  Andi's new PT is going to get her a different walker.  One that allows all four wheels to rotate, thus hopefully eliminating the steering problem we currently have.  As of now, someone needs to walk along side of her and correct the direction of the walker, as it pulls to the right.  The new walker will hopefully give her a little more independence. 

I'm trying to figure out where I can best spend my time while Andi is at school.  I've been trying to find a place I can set-up a mobile office, using their Wi-Fi.  I have tried two different Starbuck's and neither of those really worked for me.  Too small, too crowded, too loud, and dang it, their coffee just ain't all that great to me anymore.  Today, I left the overcrowded Starbuck's when there wasn't a place to sit and ended up sitting in my truck with my laptop & cell phone.  At one point, I look up and notice Andi's class moving outside to play with balls under this large canopy structure.  The teacher led the bunch, the speech therapist flanked the group carrying Andi's walker, and the teacher's aid, carried Andi.  I sat there and watched from the confines of my truck, and as I continued to watch, tears welled up in my eyes.  It was one of those times when I really noticed how "different" Andi is compared to other kids.  It broke my heart.  She was stood next to her walker and encouraged to join the activity of kicking the ball.  They seemingly worked to include her, but she was definitely an outsider, unable to run and chase the ball with the other kids.  I know being in school will help propel her forward faster than without. I'm thankful she's going where she is going, as I feel these teacher's are really well-equipped to deal with kids with multiple needs. I'm also glad that Andi really seems to like school!

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Brand New Chapter

This Monday, May 13, Andi will begin a brand new chapter that will continue for what we hope will be at least another twenty years, SCHOOL!!!  She will attend pre-school from 8:45 until almost 11 a.m., four days a week!  She is in a hearing-impaired pre-school where they will speak & sign, work on speech, learning, social skills, listening.  Our new OT and speech consult will happen during preschool hours.  I'm pretty excited for Andi because she will be exposed to so much more in the classroom, surrounded by teachers that can help her in ways I've probably never even thought of, and engaged by peers who will challenge her in every way possible.

I'm pretty thrilled this is happening just before her 3rd birthday and at this exact time.  I found out this week that our deductible went up from $500. to $2000. and so our therapy appointments will cost us around $150. each hour visit.  So, we're going to take a nice long break from both speech and physical therapy through our insurance provider.  There's no way I can afford to continue those therapies at this time.  For that kind of money, I think I'd rather pay for her to get hippotherapy.  That's just an insane amount of money they expect me to shell out each appointment.  Also, my deductible accrual seems to have reset based on the new contract.  I need to ask about that, because I know we'd met the $500. deductible - as it's a balance we're paying on as we can.  I have always said that if you use your insurance, you should pay for it, but given our situation, this seems seriously unfair.

In any case, a new chapter is about to begin and we're hopeful it will be the tool that sends Andi to learn, grow and develop even faster.  She is a little sponge, hungry to learn.  I'm excited to see watch her thrive!!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Yearly Cardiology Check-Up

So today was Andi's yearly cardiology check-up.  We headed up to OHSU for our Echo, and then we went onto meeting our cardiologist.  It was 9:30 in the morning when I shopping for parking, and all the places were taken, even my usual hidden gem of a parking area.  I had to get a slip and park in the main garage.  I asked if they were having a party and the parking attendant seemed equally surprised by the amount of traffic they were enduring.  As I drove to the overflow parking lot, I considered it a sign that our luck was changing, as I haven't parked in there since Andi was a fetus.  So we parked and I carried Andi, my backpack purse, the diaper bag, and her walker to the end of our level looking for the elevators.  As I almost got to the end, I saw a sign saying the elevators were behind me.  So we turned around.  We got to the elevators and I questioned my sanity, and strength.  We rode up with another family and they got off on four, I went up to seven.  I figured it was the 7th floor that had the bridge that walked over to the children's hospital.  We got off that floor and saw absolutely no signs, no directions, nothing.  So we got back on the elevator and went down to four.  That took us through a hot tunnel with signs to OHSU, but I really just wanted to go to the children's hospital.   I ended up getting back on the elevator and returned to the second floor.  At this point my arm was dead and I decided we must have her stroller. So, I got out her stroller and packed it full of all the crap I was carrying -- including folding up her walker and hanging it off the handles of the stroller.  I secured Andi into the stroller and we ended up walking out of that parking lot hell of confusion. By walking back to the end where I started and saw the exit as soon as I rounded the corner.  Ugh.  So, at this point I'm pretty worn out and very warm.  We have to navigate a very odd few things including getting some elevator doors nearly closing on the stroller, and one of the three most busiest elevators I've ever endured, but we made it. 

Our echo went swimmingly well, especially after I pulled out the phone for Andi pants to play with.  Once distracted by the app's on the phone, she was no longer interested in grabbing the ultrasound wand.  She did great and her tech, Randy was really impressed by Andi.  She's a charmer!

After the echo, we went down one floor to the clinics. We checked her in and I expanded her walker so she could walk around a bit.  She walked over and said "hi!" to the fish, and enjoyed the plethora of bubbles the volunteer was putting into the air around her.  After that, it was time for a much-needed snack.  We grubbed on some food and were ushered into a room shortly after.  We were weighed, measured and updated.  She weighed in 23 lbs, 2 oz's, but they always seem to have a lower weight than Kaiser!  I wasn't too sure about the accuracy of her height measurement, because I don't think she was at the top of the device.  Paperwork shows, 2' 9.07".  We finished with the PA and a few minutes later Dr Kelly appears.  He is very animated with her and she seems to like him.  He kept telling her what a big girl she was... at the end of the appointment, I mentioned 'do you remember how small she was?' and held out my hands to indicate how much she's grown.  I mean, she's still super small, but compared to even a year ago?!  She's grown a lot.  So basically, the echo showed she still has mild to moderate valve regurgitation, but it's more on the "mild" side than the "moderate" side.  Everything looks good and he's optimistic that she won't require any more surgery.  We're to continue with the Enalipril, which helps reduce pressure in the heart, to help ease it's work.  He increased the dosage based on her weight gain, and sent us off with a chorus of "See You Next Year!" 

After that appointment, we rode up two floors and landed at nine!  We walked the bridge into OHSU, went to get another "scooby snack" and marched through the busiest floor in OHSU's main hospital.  We walked across and down the hall and landed at the Physician's Pavilion, where we had our third appointment of the day, audiology.  This was Andi's follow-up appointment to getting her hearing aid.  She was pretty crabby at this point and wasn't even all that thrilled to see who she was pretty smitten with just two weeks prior.  We sat and ate another snack, then I had her use her walker to the children's area, where Andi made a friend who wore a cochlear implant.  He was much younger than Andi and almost as big as her.  It was neat to watch her interact or even study another kid, as I don't normally get to see that.  The kid  ended up totally falling off his chair and landing on a book.  He started crying hard.  His Mom tried to comfort him and Andi was so upset that he was upset, that she started crying.  It was pretty cute.  She was so charming apparently, that when the audiologist came to take us in for testing, the kid was crawling toward her and freaking out.  His Mom said he has some separation issues, but it was pretty sweet. 

Andi did really well on the minimal amount of hearing testing they could do.  Aided, with verbal commands, she blew them away and tested just below 'normal'.  They hadn't yet really seen that, so it was nice.  But, Andi was pretty worn out at this point, so she wouldn't sit still for much. 

We headed home and although she was exhausted, she still took awhile to get to sleep.  Now, two hours later, I'm having trouble stirring a Bean!