4th Birthday Photo Session

4th Birthday Photo Session

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

FROZEN Potty Training

Imagine a little girl.  She gets all the words, but doesn't yet get the action.  Frustrated, her Mom starts singing her own words to the tune, "Let It Go!" from the movie Frozen:

Let It Flow! Let It Flow!
Let it flow out your woo-woo hole!
Let It Flow! L-E-T   I-T   F-L-O-W!!!
Let it flow, this is getting old!
I don't care, how long we sit here! 
You want to wear big girl underwear!!!

Rinse & Repeat. 
*thumbs up!*

Holiday Photos

Here's a collection of holiday photos of our big girl!

Friday, December 19, 2014


Here's the video from Andi's Holiday Program at school!  Andi is front row and center!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Practice, Practice, Practice...

As we approach the beginning of a new school year, I find myself hoping this year will really help Andi make friends.  Earlier today, I took her over to 'Catch Air' to play and get a good workout in, mainly practicing walking.  She was so desperate to make contact with other kids, that at times, she didn't even want to go play.  She just wanted to try to engage others who weren't really into it.  She was very excited, and very sweet, but some kids just aren't.  One boy almost got a taste of my version of Madea (the Tyler Perry character).  Andi was trying to follow these kids up the stairs to this raised box landing.  It is surrounded in protective netting, but looks out over half the building.  This lil' sh*t was trying to push those big rubber bouncing exercise balls down the stairs... the same stairs Andi was trying to get up.  Thank goodness I'm one of those overbearing parents that is right there in the action, because this kid could have chucked one of those big balls down, and taken Andi out, causing her to fall down the stairs.  I told him to wait and let her get up there.  Andi got up there, stood up at the opening, and the lil' sh*t was blocking her entrance.  She thought it was funny, and was tapping him in the belly and laughing.  I wasn't amused, but I told myself to let her play this out and see how she handles it.  Next thing I see her on the ground and he's holding a ball over her... then he's laying on the ball pushing it on her.  I went up to retrieve her and told this lil' sh*t not to lay on people, that it's not nice.  No parent to be found.  WTF?!  I know I'm hover-Mom (with reason), but what you're going to let you lil' ill-behaved child practice their WWE moves on my child?  Oh HELL No!  So, I took her downstairs and tried to explain that not all kids are nice, and we immediately went to climb up the other play-structure so we could fly down the slide.   I took Andi here to play for about an hour, because it's really good therapy (and only $8.55), it's socially engaging -- which she absolutely craves, and because I've had her cooped up in the house for nearly two weeks due to her nasty case of impetigo.  The scabs are gone, but the dark purple marks where the scabs were remain.  Pretty nasty thing she had. 

In any case, she burned some serious energy and has now resumed position on the couch with her iPad.  I'm so excited for her to start school next week so she can play with her peers, and those kids will be supervised and likely to have better manners than wrestlemania's evil grandson.  Asshat. 
Andi's just such a good kid, and so eager to socialize, I'm excited for her to get regular doses of it.  We all need to take some lessons from her on being outgoing and friendly.  As the older we get, the more we seem to forget how we're supposed to behave (especially the rude-drivers here in Atlanta! Yes, you, the eager beaver who felt the need to cut me off so you could beat me to the red light!)   So, six more days of summer break, and then Andi is back in school.  She will have a new bus driver, whom according to Andi's babysitter, used to play with Gladys Knight & The Pips... how cool is that?!  So, I'm anxiously awaiting word of what time pick-up will be this year. Every day this week, I'm working on waking her up a little earlier than usual to prep for bus-time.  This Thursday evening, she has open-house at school, which we will attend.  Hopefully, they did relocate her classroom, because that last one I lobbied to have reevaluated was simply way too small for 8 kids and three adults.  It was also the furthest away from the bus drop-off area. She's excited to go back to school and is looking forward to seeing Miss Joan, her teacher!  I keep telling her to never lose her passion for school, because as of now, she's never getting out!  (HA!) 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Potty Training and Job Hunting ... Pretty Much The Same Thing

Today, Andi has tried several hours of potty training, unsuccessfully.  She seems to know not to go when she's bare-butt.  But, she hasn't yet made that connection to let it go on the potty.  She just seems to "hold-it", which isn't good for a long time, per her former urologist.  After a few hours, she wouldn't let me put a diaper back on.  I pushed and pushed, and thankfully, she relented.  Will try again, but I really seem to lack the patience and consistency of potty training.  I'm about to beat my head against a wall over it though.

At the urging of Daddy Bean & a lack of job offers blowing up my phone, I've resurrected Anna's INK, which is also now Anna's INK 123 -- due to some unfortunate tattoo lady stealing my old name.  There's a Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a website showcasing a small sampling of my portfolio.  For some of the jobs I've applied for, they've required a portfolio or writing samples.  Being I have four Facebook pages, four Twitter accounts, four g-mail accounts, this blog, two videos out on You Tube, and a book that I haven't yet finished... this website might be a great one-stop shopping showcase of all things I do.  Not to mention all this dazzling personality and talent!  HA!  Here's a quick list of links of all my greatness.  May it help me find a dreamy job to replace my current one that is ready for me to be gone. 

Calendar Website:

Anna’s INK Website:




Friday, July 11, 2014

Priceless Patience

I've started the process of creating the 2015 edition of CHARGE Through The Year calendar.  I'm just sitting here waiting for a burst of creative inspiration to take over.  This is the time of the day where my yawning starts and I'm starting to feel tired. So, instead of throwing some images on a page that I'll likely hate... I spend time with the blog instead.
Yesterday, I filmed Andi with a new iPad app I recently downloaded called, Sight Words.  It's like electronic flash cards.  It put up a word and Andi read each word.  She did amazing through 5 levels of words.  It blows my mind how many words she can read.  It's awesome.  So, we're going to work on her reading more sentences. Yesterday, we also worked on tracing numbers.  Well, we did '1'.  She needs a lot of work on her hand/eye coordination as far as control.  She can't seem to do an up/down stroke very well.  Also, I've noticed that she does not show favoritism to one hand or the other.  We're going to watch that and let her decide which hand she favors.
As for me, I'm still trying to find full-time work.  I've met with several recruiters.  I've had a few opportunities but had to pass them up.  One was a totally ideal 2-day temp job making a tri-fold brochure, but I didn't have daycare for Andi and by the time I paid for that, plus drove, the job wouldn't have been worth it.  The other opportunity was only part-time work, and again, it just wasn't enough to justify the daycare and commuting expense.  I know something is coming, but having to be patient is sometimes tough on the ego.
We are taking one last mini-break before Daddy Bean's work gets extra crazy and Andi goes back to school.  Poppa & Ginga are going to take Andi for a few days, while Daddy Bean and I are going to escape to New Orleans, and some beach we haven't yet secured.  Neither of us were really in a New Orleans mood, but the cost to stay there is way cheaper than trying to park our butts on the beach for a few more days.  I guess everyone is trying to get to the beach before school starts back.  It's making finding an affordable (tolerable) room a bit of a chore.  Late next week, Andi is going to do a few trial half-days at the daycare facility.  The thought is when I find a job, Andi will start being dropped off at the daycare attached to Daddy Bean's building, and stay there until he gets off work.  Our roles are going to change drastically.   We've talked about it, but I still hope he's prepared for how different things are going to be.  I will likely get Andi up and put her on the bus.  And then Daddy Bean will be responsible for everything else:  dinner, baths, Dr. & Therapy appointments, bedtime, etc.  I am very excited to have my own sense of self back after being just "Andi's Mom" for the past four years.  While I will still be "Andi's Mom", I will have my own identity outside of that to embrace and explore.  YIPPIE!  We're so tight now, I wonder if and how this will change our relationship, our dynamic.  I do worry about what I will miss, having been the first to witness most of her accomplishments.  But, it will be very nice to be able to treat myself to a mani-pedi and not feel all that bad about spending a little bit of money on myself.  I'm excited!  Just have to be a bit more patient I think. I hope.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Julie McCoy -- Our Social Director

Andi Bean has been rather busy.  Wednesday, we went to go see Poppa for his birthday. Before we left, Princess Maddux was lounging on his throne of pillows! 

Now that we don't live that far away, it's not that big of a deal to pop over and hang out.  Before dinner, Andi went for a swim in her pool with Ginga.  She had a ball splashing a bit, but mainly just wanted to walk around the inside perimeter of the "pool"  (an in-ground hot tub!)  After swimming, Andi just helped herself to Poppa's phone, so she could entertain herself. 

We went to the club for dinner, where Andi was the premiere table to stop by and say Hi! 

She kept calling for her new friends, "Mister Wayne" and "Miss Terry".  The next day, Andi decided she didn't want to sit in her high chair, but at the table like a big girl!  Sadly, she didn't eat much.
The next morning, the 4th of July, we went to a place called Yellow River Game Ranch.  It's a place where you can go meet and feed wildlife.  There were peacocks, goats, deer, sheep, donkey's, black bears, eager squirrels, pigs, and Beau -- the groundhog who successfully picks Superbowl winners.  Andi loved it.  Her walking wasn't that good due to the terrain, but she'd pull our hand and say, 'let's go this way!'  And she was very vocal saying hi to all the animals.  We hand fed deer, goats, donkey's.  We dropped peanuts down the tube for the black bears.  We also dropped an apple over the fence for the biggest pig we'd ever seen.  It was super cool and the temperature was perfect.

 After seeing all the animals, we went to the neighborhood pool, where Andi wanted to sit in the lounge chair by herself and work on her tan. We met a neighbor at the pool who teaches swimming lessons.  She was smitten with Andi the moment we walked in.  We got to talking with her, and within minutes I told her Andi had CHARGE Syndrome.  She said, 'oh yeah, I know what that is, my nephew has it.'  She worked with Andi a bit in the pool and told us of another program we should contact.  One thing is for sure here, they really have A LOT of options for kids with special needs.

After dinner, we headed over to one of the local parks here.  They had a bunch of bouncy houses (although we did not join in that fun!), food trucks galore, music, and a gazillion people.  We set up our blanket by the music stage.  In true Andi form, she instantly started making friends.  Waving to people, smiling, and saying "hi!"  She ended up ditching us and hanging out with her new friends -- all of which work at a private special needs school in Roswell.  No joke.  This place offers 1 on 1 teacher/student work, so the advancement is huge.  Unfortunately, I'm guessing the tuition is probably huge as well.  *insert pouty face here.*  But, if nothing else, Andi's favorite new friend said she'd be happy to babysit if she's available. 

Andi was pretty exhausted by the time fireworks happened.  But she managed to stay awake and watch them as we 'ooh'd and aah'd' with each burst of color. 

It was yet another night where we walked back to our car just thrilled with the fact that we not only relocated here, but exactly where we landed.  We have just be very lucky with the people surrounding us.  The opportunities of services and support here have been immense.  Andi is our networking guru.  People are drawn to her.  She's our Julie McCoy -- our social director. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Gratitude Instead of Bad Attitude

It's pretty easy to complain.  It sometimes feels good to unload, and frankly, it's a bit therapeutic to dump your worries.  Today, one of my friends posted this on Facecrack... and it slapped the desire right out of me. 

It's so, so, so very true.  It's wonderful to get that reminder, even in tough times, you probably have it better than some. 

We had our 4 year old "well-child" visit with Andi's new pediatrician yesterday!  Andi is 28 pounds, and 35" tall.  So, if my memory serves, she has gained about 3 or 4 lbs since she had her g-tube removed 3/11/13.  However, even though she's growing, she's not even on the 'typical' height chart, but for her height, she's in the 5th percentile weight-to-height ratio.  We are getting a referral to all the new Dr's we need to see over the year:  cardiology, ENT (possibly), endocrinology (growth Dr.).  The Dr. got the full low-down on all things Andi.  I find it refreshing when Dr's have human reactions to some of the things I say. When I told her of our surprise diagnosis after being in perinatology every three weeks for ultrasounds, she visibly grimaced with humanity.  I think I'm going to really like this Dr!  YEA! 

I'm coming to find that a lot of Oregonian practices and preaching has really stuck with me.  I am horribly appalled at the amount of plastic bags they use here.  And Styrofoam?  They still use Styrofoam here.  I mean no disrespect to my new state / part of the country, but ding dang - it's time to move into the 21st century.  Have you ever heard of reduce, reuse and recycle?!  While the PNW is forcing composting, and every other week garbage pick-up to get people to cut down on waste (I believe up to 30% of the stuff we throw in the garbage can is compostable material!)  Here, they just use, buy more, use, buy more, use, buy more.  It might be green here, but it ain't environmentally "GREEN" here.  And I write this as I think I actually missed the trash pick-up this morning, as I was late getting my cans to the curb.  That's okay though, because our trash can isn't half-full, unlike our overflowing can every two weeks in Portland. 

Wow, tangent. 

In any case, we're adjusting our attitude to gratitude, and settling into our new lifestyle.  It's getting hot here and we're loving it.  I can't help chuckle at Portland's cloudy sky forecast on my iPhone with a high of 63 in June.  While the rest of us are already knee deep into summer. 

Well, the kid wants to go drive her convertible.  We got our original car replaced and this new one actually has the engine sound and a horn that honks.  She loves it all that much more now. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Miss Social Strikes Again

Andi is a rather social little kid.  She waves at people, smiles with her tongue out, flirts, waves again... sometimes she'll say a rather enthusiastic, "Hi!"  Today, after riding bikes for about 10 miles, we suited up and headed to the neighborhood pool.  So thankful to have this perk!  The neighborhood pool is all sorts of awesome!  After we spent a good 45 minutes in the pool, we got out to de-prune.  Andi instantly started flirting with this man sitting on the lounge chair next to us.  That turned into waving at his wife across the table.  She kept flirting and flirting and flirting... next thing we knew their neighborhood friends showed up, and their daughter, and a few others stopped by to chat.  Miss charming had them all swooning.  She didn't even want to go into the water with Mommy and Daddy, no she wanted her new friends to take her.  She told them she loved each one of them, and simply had a ball.  With time, I told them about CHARGE and gave a glimpse at some of the good times she's had these past four years.  We're giddy at the connection we made, because now we know some people from the neighborhood!  YIPPIE!  I'm even signing up to join the women's tennis group in the fall.  Super excited about that.  Apparently, it's a lot of fun with a focus more on food and beverages than getting uber competitive on the court.  We also saw a neighbor a few houses down that we've met a time or two.  He's aching to get back to So. California, and I said I understood - as we just felt that way about getting here and out of rainy-town, U.S.A. 

In any case, due to our new friends, we spent about two extra hours at the pool than we intended.  Daddy Bean wasn't as diligent with his sunscreen, so ... let me say that he won't be teased as being the pasty-white guy from Oregon at the office anymore.  Andi did not get sunburned at all.. and although she left the pool super exhausted, she's finishing up her first hour in bed singing her songs and still going!  Hopefully, she settles down soon so she doesn't get too worn down.  It has got to be exhausting being so charming... and Miss Andi Bean is definitely charming, borderline ham!!!  :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Welcome Wagon & Socializing A Bean

Since Andi has determined she really enjoys the stimulation of the WWE wrestling drops on the couch (standing on the couch then falling to it), I decided to take her over to Catch Air today for some bouncy-house, play-gym fun.  Andi was practically running from object to object.  She was so excited, she could barely contain it.  She was giddy!  I think this was the fourth time I've taken her over there. I noticed she's gotten noticeably stronger & more confident.  Today, she went down the slide by herself (I went down the slide next to her!).  She climbed a lot of structures, she even went to the back of the bouncy castle and jumped, fell backward, climbed over everything.  It was pretty impressive.  The only real concern I have is not only her social skills, but my social skills as well.  Andi gets grabby, tries to hold onto someone's leg or pull off their socks, and I assume it's to get their attention.  I told her she needs to keep her hands to herself, 'no touch!' and am working with her to use her words.  "Hi, I'm Andi... wanna play?!" Hopefully that will enable her to reach peers easier, with less resistance.  However, in noticing Andi's behavior, I also noticed my own.  I'm that Mom hovering over her child, laughing and applauding, but I'm hovering & shouting/signing commands!

"keep your socks on!"   
"no touch!"  

It's fairly annoying.  I don't look at, socialize, or make any connections with other parents.  And I sit here day after day wondering why the Georgia welcome wagon hasn't stopped at our door.  Hmmm... maybe I'm part of that problem. 

I guess I should add the thing that's really bothering me.  There were these slightly older boys bringing all the padded blocks up onto this fort.  Andi went up there and started "cockroaching" -- she was completely excited and stimulated.  She reached out to touch a kid and he moved away from her.  After a bit, he moved a block and sat on it staring down at her like she was the biggest annoyance.  The other boys were busy, until at one point one of the boys looks at Andi and rudely says like a typical little boy, 'ewh, she's a g-i-r-l!  He saw me stare at him when he said that and sort of straightened up when he saw that I saw/heard him be so rude.  I guess the issue I had was that they weren't engaging Andi at all and it makes me worry about her future and how kids will treat her... I know her personality will win them over, but, at first... are they going to be mean?  I suppose so.  I suppose all kids go through some sort of harassment at some point... but as a parent, I want to protect her and arm her with every trick I know.  We've already started discussing how to engage other kids.  She wants friends so bad... I hope she's able to make some friends here soon.  Us too.  So far, this local welcome wagon has a broken wheel!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Amusing Super Trooper

Snot monsters, coughing, and green eye boogs are gone -- although we were saddled with some pukes.  Even though I vowed to hang up my white coat, I lowered the dosage to half and we seem to be good with that.  Will continue for the full 10 days.

Today, we went back to the audiologist to get a new ear mold done.  When I removed her hearing aid the other night, the tube came out again and when I went to squeeze it back in (it looked rather tight), I noticed a good hole in the mold. Yeah. This one will be here by Monday, whereas the old one would've taken weeks to arrive.  Problem with that though is the cost is double the amount.  One ear mold set me back 80 friggen dollars.  That's like almost two tanks of gas in my ancient 4-Runner. 

Which leads me to my next update, my ancient 4-Runner.  I love my truck and am SO thankful I bought him used many, many, many years ago.  Shrek is 15 years old, and been with me 13 years this September.  I absolutely love him and love driving him, and love his minimal maintenance.  In Portland, my check engine light kept coming on.  I took him into my local mechanic and he said, 'hmm, I haven't seen this error code before.'  So, they googled it, and decided step #1 was to clean the part.  So, that set me back around $90.  The check-engine light returned, but he couldn't get the new part in time before we moved.  So, I have been driving around with this light coming on every five or so starts, then it goes off for five or so starts.  I decided he's driving okay, so let's milk it.  (Don't worry Dad, I signed up for AAA here!)  In any case, the other day the light came on and he started handling different.  One of the benefits of having the same vehicle so long, you're like two pea's in a pod, you know when something is different.  And like Dr. Cohen said often about Andi, 'let me know if you notice anything 'different' cuz that's reason to have her seen.'  So, awhile ago I used Yelp to find highly regarded mechanics here in town.  I swear the two scariest parts about moving is finding a good hair stylist and a good mechanic. I called them yesterday, and brought Shrek in today for an estimate.  They not only priced it cheaper than the Portland mechanic, they had the part delivered in minutes and we were on our way rather quickly.  They priced out the other big service I will need eventually (having all the gasket caps cleaned/changed) and it was considerably cheaper than my trusted Oregon mechanic.  Wowza. This place was awesome and I'm thrilled to have found it.  I can't remember the last time I was treated so well by a auto mechanic.  Well, actually I can... and back then I got a date with a hottie out of it! 

Andi's been a super trooper today.  She's chillin' with some Muppets on the iPad this minute while I spend a few hours in the office.  She has taken to repeating me, "No watching Lady Gaga! No watching Miley Cyrus!"  and starting to open her ears and mind to a lot of different music.  In the past she's been so quick to say, 'don't like this!' instead of listening to it.  Now she's asking for a lot more, and I'm trying to shove more variety at her every time we're in the car.  Yippie, super score for me.... although next she will likely start repeating my new phrases, "we're not listening to the Wiggles!  We're not listening to Barney!"  I don't know where she picked those up, but I am not amused! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pee Piles & Antibiotics = GOOD TIMES!

Potty Training ain't for wimps!  Today, we haven't had much luck either, but this afternoon... the pipe burst and the Bean pee'd all over the kitchen floor.  She looked down seemingly surprised by the puddle at or on her feet.  She'd pick up a foot and then try to move away from it, but find herself still submerged. We're working the potty training chart, earning a sticker for each attempt.  Sometimes, I just want to stick her in a diaper, close the office door and let her continue to listen to Pharrell over and over... (uhm, that's going on this minute!)

Two days ago, we met our new audiologist.  Liked her instantly on the phone, and just as well in person.  She tested Andi's hearing and came up with similar findings as the Portland Audiologists!  Yippie.  They even put in a new tube to fix the one Andi pulled out of her ear mold.  It's a bit long though and makes the actual aid fall off her ear.  Boo! ... but an easy fix.

Yesterday, I called to get Andi in to see her new pediatrician before the 6/23 'Wellness Check'.  Thus, also giving me an opportunity to pick-up her 400 page medical file they scanned into their system.  The retriever of that file said, 'whoa! that's a lot!'  I didn't have the nads to say, 'yeah, and that's just the Kaiser file, not the hospital file.'  I thought Andi had a nice case of pink eye caused by touching her eyes with dirty (poopy) hands.  Turns out the cold she's had for awhile is a bit of an infection, so she's now being treated with Amoxicillian for 10 days. The goop out of her eyes is considered mucous coming out from the sinuses.  I guess I should hand-back my white Dr's coat (that I bought at Marshall's) and hang up my fake stethoscope.  Time to stop self-diagnosing... ugh.  But hopefully, she'll be snot-free soon.

When we go back for that wellness check, the Dr. wants to spend a full 1/2 hour appointment.  Before that appointment, she said she will make time to read Andi's file, as I just gave her the highlights during yesterday's appointment. I need to have all my papers in a row for the Katie Beckett Waiver and she'll sign what I need her to.  All in all, felt good about about the initial meeting.


Here's Andi's first car.  A convertible, of course!  Still working with the company to troubleshoot the lack of horn & engine noises.  Hope we can fix quickly, because I'm sure Andi will be all about tooting the horn like Max, a character in a book she likes!

Having A Ball!
 Andi took uncle down the street to Catch Air... a super fun place to play.  Andi's been doing some couch diving since, having discovered she likes the sensory input.

Princess Andi!   


Monday, June 2, 2014

Doozy Of A Day

I'm not very proud of myself today. Some days this life is just hard.  Really, really hard.  Days like today, even reminding myself how far we've come and how lucky we are, didn't shut out the frustration, and anger.  It was difficult to be kind.  I am so disgusted with myself, and that's a hard thing to admit.  It's the 2nd week of Andi being out of school.  Her routine is gone.  Last week, uncle was here, and even Poppa & Ginga for a few days... last week was fun.  But here it is a new week, and it's just Andi and me, and Maddux the dog.  Let's not forget Maddux who is not as innocent as he seems in today's debacle.

Today started out innocent enough.  Daddy had to get up extremely early to head out of town for an overnighter at a different office.  I "slept in" ... until 6:15 when the princess decided it was high-time to get up and get started on our day.  Shortly after getting up, it started.  Potty training.  My game plan this time is to leave her bare-butt and "sit on the potty" every 20 minutes or so.  Every time she sat on the potty, she was given a sticker for her homemade (a.k.a. 'lame') potty chart.  If she went "pee pee" on the potty, she would be given five stickers.  If she dropped a stinky, (snickering because Daddy Bean would roll his eyes!), she would be given 10 stickers!  10 whole stickers!  Now, I'll have it be known that these are (insert sarcastic tone here) VERY impressive stickers.  The first sticker was a $.10 sticker from box I bought when I thought I'd actually do a yard sale in Portland.  The rest are a gift from once giving St. Jude's $20. a few years back.  There are soccer balls, footballs, butterflies, ducks, flowers... really super tiny ones...like three of them would equate one of my fingertips.  Whoop! Whoop!  Fancy!  Well, Andi got into it, and spent the majority of the day parading herself around the house butt-naked, and collecting a sticker every so often.  She never went potty, and she never had an accident (that I've found, anyway!)  She collected 12 stickers.  We resorted to a diaper twice, no, three times.  One when we went for a neighborhood walk to shake up our energy.  One after lunch when I know she normally drops it like it's hot... (bad use of lyrics, ...but I can hear a few people I know chuckling!) And lastly, when we ran up the street to Sweet Tomatoes for a to-go salad to turn my frown upside down! 

So, let me share the rest of the story... weird... we were just talking about Paul Harvey the other day!  With Andi out of school, I have to find ways to keep her occupied while I sit in my office and work.  If I'm not working, I'm "networking"... I'm looking for jobs, or checking in with Facebook, or working on the calendar, or trying to figure out how to make Twitter cool if you have nothing to sell, or simply trying to catch-up on balancing two checkbooks as we transition away from our Portland bank and switch to our new bank.  It's usually a full-day of office time for me.  I'm always online and I'm trying to get stuff done.  THAT says it right there.  I'm TRYING TO GET STUFF DONE!  So, let me refresh your mind.  Andi is home, not engaged in her Yo Gabba Gabba or iPad, or Barbie/Ken, her countless books, play-dough, toys, she's having none of that today.  With school, she's used to being engaged and here I am, totally unavailable.  I try to set her up at her table (next to my desk) with play-dough, but because I'm not sitting there like uncle Chris did last week, she keeps coming over, wanting up, interrupting me, or simply trying to get my attention.  She won't leave me alone no matter how many different activities I tried to set her up with... and therefore, she won't let the dog alone, because that's what she does... smoothers the dog.  It's really, really annoying, frustrating, and irritating. 

So, I start yelling.  I start time-out's. Double time out's.  Taking toys away.  Well after she colored the wall with a blue crayon, it was when she ripped out her hearing aid and separated the new mold from the tube, I snapped.  Yelling at her, I actually spanked her bare lil' butt.  Usually she laughs, but this time, she looked at me like 'Wow, I'm in trouble!'  Now, for those that don't really know me, I'm not beating my child, so please... back off.  I'm trying to discipline an incredibly smart, incredibly fearless (in certain regard), high pain tolerance Jekyll that just laughs at you when you try to correct behavior.  Like I said, I'm not proud of myself, at all.  I don't want Andi to grow up with someone yelling at her. I certainly don't want her thinking to hit is okay.  She really just wants someone to play with her. Someone to engage her.  Someone to teach her.  I feel so heartbroken. I wish I could have given her a sibling to help her, but after what we went through and my age, I just didn't think I could handle it.  I get so frustrated with her holding onto my legs while I'm in the kitchen trying to move around.  I get so irritated at going into a store, or anywhere, and having to hold her up or carry her... because her walking is so sloppy and slow.  She moves in a different rhythm and sometimes I don't want to take a half-hour in the store to grab four things because she wants to push the cart or hold my hand while I steer the cart with the other. 

I wish I didn't have to work, but I do.  I need to work more than I do so I can pay someone to take care of her, engage her, entertain her, teach her.  I need to get an identity of my own that isn't just "Andi's Mom".  I need to stretch myself, so I can be better for her.  But yeah, there are days like today, where despite all the obstacles she has overcome, it's still hard.  Andi's made me a better person, but she hasn't made me perfect.  Some days, I just lack patience. Today was one of those days.

I failed to include Maddux's part in my furor. The barking.  A neighbor three doors down farts, and Maddux feels the need to bark.  The neighbor comes home and he can see her in her driveway across the street, and he needs to bark.  Heaven forbid someone actually knocks on our door... It's totally annoying.

So, I'm putting the cap on this day and stepping away to zone out in front of the TV before I crash and try to refresh for a brand new day.  At dinner, I asked Andi for forgiveness for losing my temper.  She was quiet and soon-after was nodding off asleep in her high-chair.  I guess this day has been a doozy for both of us. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Here's a video showcasing the past year!  Lots of amazing things happened this past year!  So proud of our super trooper!


Friday, May 23, 2014

6th Annual CHARGE It For CHARGE! (Andi Bean!)

We are participating in the 6th Annual CHARGE It For CHARGE fundraiser!  Andi Bean has her own site and our goal is pretty hefty.  So get out your wallet, dig deep, DONATE on behalf of Andi and her many friends who've endured massive amounts of crappy days.  EDUCATE others on behalf of the families that have had to endure the question, 'CHARGE Syndrome, what's that?!' from everybody, including medical professionals.  SHARE your knowledge of CHARGE Syndrome, Andi's story, the fundraiser page.  Help us improve things for the future families of CHARGE Syndrome. Help us end the question, "CHARGE Syndrome, what's that?!"


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Always A Reason To Party!

Started the process of recruiting models for the 2015 CHARGE Through The Year wall calendar.  In 24 hours, we have 60 CHARGERs signed up to possibly be featured.  Initially, I was thinking we'd do a draft party and have Andi Bean draw names out of a hat.  Who doesn't want a reason to have a party!?  But now there are so many candidates, I'm thinking of a much different design, which would include everyone!  Trouble now is finding a printer whose program will allow me to manipulate the design to have photos and copy wherever I want on the page.  Perhaps creating it in MS Publisher and uploading it...   we'll see, I have much work to do.

Tomorrow is the last day of school for Andi as a part-day preschooler.  Here's a photo of her this morning at 5:45! Only Andi is that chipper at this hour.

Gotta love that dainty hand action!

Six days until Andi's 4th birthday!  Stay tuned for her yearly birthday video!  Well, her second annual video... we were a little bit busy the first two years!  :)  Need to get a card in the mail to Dr. Langley, Andi's heart surgeon that really turned things around for her.  Every year for her birthday and Christmas, we usually send him an update.  Sometimes it doesn't happen in May, so we send it in September, when he did the surgery.  I want to send him a copy of the video if I can...

Uncle Chris is coming into town Sunday for a near week-long visit!  We're super excited to have him here. Poppa & Ginga are coming next week too!  Andi will be so happy.  I'll be sneaking off to New Orleans to have some fun!!! (...kidding... just kidding!)

Our neighborhood pool is apparently open.  Andi and I are debating going down there this afternoon to cool off.  Will be fun to get her in the pool regularly, although her skin won't like it.  She's had a bit of eczema going on at the wrists lately.  Good times! 

Lastly, we have a new family moving into the house across the street.  Now that I live in a grown-up house, in a grown-up neighborhood (so, it feels like to me!)... I did the 1950's neighborly thing (sort-of!)  I did what all housewives in the 1950's did... yep, I took them a Costco apple pie!  *HA!*  While I was putting the pie in a tote, I remembered how crazy it was the first few days of moving.  So I threw in some napkins, some plastic utensils, a roll of paper towels, and some cups.  None of the neighbors did anything like that for us... so, I did what my Ma taught me.  Treat others as you'd like to be treated!  Or my version, just make the rest of them look bad!  HAHHAHAHAA...

There's always a reason to party!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Deducing Deductibles

So the Hippotherapy lady got back to me today.  Once we meet our $5000. deductible, the insurance program will pay for all her therapy, even hippotherapy.  So basically, every year - after the Christmas holiday where much money is spent on gifts, and parties, entertaining... at the beginning of the year, us special needs parents are essentially to shit out a $5000. check so we won't be nickel, dimed, and medically billed to death.  To pay out of pocket, this therapy is $120. an hour.  So, let's break out the calculator.  If we just did hippotherapy, twice a month at $120. a session that equates $2880. for the year.  You add on the pediatrician appointments (cost unknown), speech therapy (haven't inquired yet), and all the other therapies Andi could easily use, SI (Sensory Integration), PT, music therapy... geez, we could easily fork out $5000. in all those services.  Instead, we choose to tackle a lot of the practices ourselves because really, who can afford all that?!  Keep in mind, I still only work PT and sorry, Cory isn't paid what he's worth.  If we had an extra $5000., yeah, I could see that the yearly deductible would be doable.  But no... we're still paying off last year's deductible to both the insurance provider and the hospital.  It's insane!  I often wonder if / how much further Andi would be along if we afforded her every therapy out there.  I mean, could she be running along side her peers now?  It's frightening to consider that everything you do or don't do for your child has an impact, some negative.  It's true whether they have special needs, or not.  But, for those that are special needs that are simply fighting harder to "catch up" to their peers, or learning to speak so they can talk to their parents... it's just a harder 'what-if' to swallow, worrying that you're stalling their progress.

In the course of the year, we'll probably spend $5000.00 on services.  I keep forgetting that I'm supposed to apply for SS today so I can get a fresh letter of denial.  What a joy this process will be, I'm sure you're jealous!  But, you do whatcha gotta do for the Bean... and for her, I would do anything!

Nine days until Andi's 4th Birthday!!! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Summer Waiver

This week, like most weeks, has simply flown by.  Yesterday, I googled Hippotherapy services around us, and left message at a place not too far away.  Today, I received the call back.  In speaking with the therapist, she suggested we apply for the Katie Beckett Waiver which is available to us here in Georgia.  "uhm, the what?!" I think was my reply.  In Oregon, we didn't qualify for any sort of assistance because of our income level. While I understand that, I've never understood why a child with ongoing need for multiple therapies isn't given assistance -- that the parents should have to cough up the equivalent of a car payment just so their kid could go to therapy once a month.  Yeah, once a month.  The idea of getting help to send Andi to therapy more often just fills me full of joy!  I can only imagine how fast she'll blossom with additional hands-in to help!  So after I sent the Hippotherapist our insurance information, to see if we could bill the insurance company for their services, I googled the waiver.  I googled, and I googled, and I googled some more.  Basically, I have to jump through a series of flaming hoops, and it's an extremely complex process -- for example, applying again for SSI so I have a fresh rejection letter. (...cuz that makes sense!)  So, I'll talk it over with Daddy Bean and if he agrees, I'll tackle that project in all my copious free time!  (silently laughing because I'm sitting here laughing at the massive list of things I have to do and simply run out of time!) 

This week I tried to research a few options for summer programs that might help Andi.  The only seemingly affordable, appropriate one I found was a music camp.  Five weeks, one day a week for 45 whole minutes.  That ran about $20. a session.  Andi loves music, but she's very opinionated as to what she wants to hear and when. She'll meet someone and she'll start rattling off her list of favorites, "Billy Joel, Queen, Pet Shop Boys!" and the person receiving this list just looks at me to ask 'what is she saying?' Might be a good class, might not.

I found that Atlanta Speech School would be a great summer program.  It's speech, plus OT, and all those other things combined.  Oh, for only $10,000. or so.  (...coughing!) Oh, but 25% of the people there get some sort of financial aid.  (...laughing!)  I wish!!!  Even when I find FT employment and get us into a new routine that will include some after-school care of some sort... there's no way we could cough up that kind of additional coin.  I've got a 14 year old truck with 160,000 miles on it that wants some new part or he isn't going to play nice with others!  I have parts of that truck engine that are still factory parts that need to be swapped out.  But anyway... maybe down the road.  We all want what's best for our children.  We're both educated, working people and we want to give Andi Bean the best possible foot forward. She's already had an uphill climb, more so than most kids. She should be given every opportunity available to her!

Daddy Bean and I are in cahoots to hire us a babysitter tomorrow night.  We're talking about going out on a date night. I think what frightens me more than inviting a stranger into our home and hang out while our kid sleeps, is the realization that I'll really have to kick it into high gear to stay awake, and try to enjoy the break!  Our schedule has been so early every day that when 10 p.m. rolls around, I turn into a big ol' pumpkin. 

Andi's standing here at the desk and just saw her name. She said, 'Andi ... that's me!'  'yes, this is your blog!  This is all about you!'  Then she stood here for several minutes, probably trying to memorize all the different words before her.  She's so dang funny, and smart.

Today, I got on video her singing Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' with her headphones on.  I don't think she could hear herself well, because usually, she does better than this performance.  But it was pretty fun to watch her.

Andi has one week left of school. I've noticed being in this school, she's relying on signing again a lot.  I think it's because there is an interpreter in the classroom at all times.  I want her to keep up with her signing, but I also want her to focus on her enunciation, speech, sentence structure. I should probably structure her summer days to something similar to school.  Coloring-time, story-time, play-dough time, music.  Set her up with some sort of projects.  Only problem is her short attention span.  I have to strap a saddle to her and ride her like Seabiscuit to get her to stay on-task.  I think my list of things to do will only continue to grow!  Maybe I like Portland's sort of year-round school a bit more.  We shall see!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Past, The Present, The Future!

I guess I'm vying to be "the problematic-parent from Portland" when it comes to Andi's school.  Today, I wrote an email asking the school to rethink the classroom that Andi's in, as it is WAY TOO SMALL to house a Bean.  With eight kids, a teacher, a teacher's aide, and a ASL interpreter.  11 people in such a small area is not okay.  Hopefully, they will hear my concerns and try to find something a little more spacious for them next year.  Andi only has another two weeks of school and then they're done for summer. Which reminds me I need to contact this program to see if they have any sort of summer camp that Andi could enroll in.  When summer break ends, and the new school year begins, Andi will be going from 6 a.m. (likely she's still be the first on the bus) and go until 2:30!  She'll likely still be last off the bus too, which would be around 3:30!  Yikes.  That's a very long day for a four-year-old.

When I find a job, which is proving to not be a lot of fun, I am unsure how all this will get done.  How will we get her to appointments, and what do we do if we have another day where she needs to be picked up from school!?  I haven't encountered the work/home life balance fight... so I'm wondering how well *cough, cough*, okay, how poorly, I will handle it.  I'm having trouble figuring out what I want to do, and all these job titles make my eyes glaze over, annoyed.  It's going to be very difficult to find anything remotely half as decent as what I've been doing these past 18 years.  The other day I was remembering what it was like to go into the office everyday and work on different projects, with my heater cranking under my desk.  I loved my desk, my office.  I miss seeing everyone every day, and way back when, taking smoke breaks with my coworker and hearing his tales of growing up in the area.  It was fun, and I am starting to really miss it.  Since Andi was born, I haven't been able to think about me, my career, and what I want out of this life of mine.  It's all been about her.  Her needs, her appointments, her therapy, her well-being.  To switch to the land of 'ME!' is not only decadent, but scary and I guess, ultimately, one thing to celebrate.  I should be thankful we're in a place in her life where I can go and do for me... but being thankful doesn't make me any less frightened.  Wherever I land, I doubt it will have similar shoes as where I've been.  My bosses and coworkers have been my family, held me up so many times over the years, and I doubt I will find that level of comfort any where else.  I have to come to accept that.  But, as I move forward in my quest to find the next phase of my life, I can't help pause and mourn the life I will be leaving.  (uhm, ...if I ever find a job!)  But, right now, I'm savoring what I have, where I've been, and trying to stay hopeful about where I'm going.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Changing Plans

Today has not gone as planned, at all.  I awoke in a funk of haze.  After Andi got on the bus, I came into the office to get cracking on all things.  I sat here and just found myself unable to get going.  So, I put on my workout clothes, grabbed the dog, and headed outside.  We did a walk/run to the end of the neighborhood and back.  Pretty quick trip, but it got the blood pumping. Not long after my shower I got a call from Andi's teacher.  I said, 'uh oh!  what's wrong?'  Apparently, Andi puked on the bus this morning, and I needed to come get her.  She puked with an empty stomach.  That usually indicates a gas build-up and thus some reflux.  [I did feed her kielbasa and baked (farty) beans for dinner last night!]  I picked her up and she was rather quiet.  We drove back toward the house, with the plan to stop off at the new pediatrician's office.  They need a copy of Andi's 400-page medical file, which arrived yesterday!  So we navigated the campus, the parking lot, the various buildings.  She walked most of the way holding my hand.  She was still quiet and seemed very tired.  Hmmm, I thought... she must be exhausted from this week.  While we were out, we ran to Costco to restock our basics:  wine, wine, wine, oh, and a rotisserie chicken (of course!).  We got home and I fixed her a hot dog.  She ate, and I thought, hmm, she probably hasn't eaten all day.  When she gets to school, they have breakfast.  However, if she got sick on the bus, they probably didn't feed her.  She started to perk up, and I felt bad... she was hungry.  I checked her hearing aid and the battery was dead.  I felt bad about that too, but knew something else was amiss when she didn't sing along to her favorite songs in the car.  After lunch, I determined she still needed to lay down and try to nap.  That was 3.5 hours ago.  She is still sleeping.

Yep, something's up. 

She had a cold last week... wondering if it's trying to make a comeback!  Either way, I'm letting her sleep and sleep and sleep.  Poor Beano!

Meanwhile, the guys came to clean & service the hot tub!  This house came with an outdoor hot tub.  It's been neglected!  It needed a good scrubbing!  I was surprised how little they charged for that... but, it's all dialed in and warming up!  We can use it tonight if we want!  Yippie,

Earlier this week, these guys were here to install the pool table we bought last weekend.  Daddy Bean has always wanted a pool table, we had a little money left and the room... so we went for it!  Just for the record, we've played two sets of three games this week.  The winner of both of those sets is ...   ...yours truly!  My streak might not last, but least it's documented here for public consumption and record. 

Andi's awake finally.  Seemingly restored, and hungry.  She's sitting with her iPad on the couch watching Miley Cyrus videos.  I'm trying to figure out how to remedy (uhm, block) that.  Nothing like letting your near 4-year old watch Miley in her underwear swing back and forth on a ball.  I must be getting old, because my tolerance (uhm, appreciation is a stretch) for that shit is gone, gone, gone. 

So, today hasn't gone as planned.  Plans derail. Plans change. It's how you regroup and rebound from the obstacles that jump in your way.  On that note, Miley's gotta go!  Toddles.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Big Girl Standing!

Last night, I began working on the video to commemorate Andi's past year, in celebration of her birthday in 20 days!  I found myself cussing at the mediocre software, then after a few clicks I was cheering.  At one point, I was giddy with my creation and said aloud, 'this is fun!'

Today, I sold the crate used to house Maddux on his Delta flight to Atlanta.  It was a craigslist purchase prior to departure, and we don't have any use for it anymore.  It was a bit small for him anyway.  The odd thing about this sale -- the buyer is a guy from Sacramento, who moved to ATL 6 months ago, via Portland, OR.  Uhm, that's exactly my route here too, well, with a few side hops.  I told him we'll be best friends, and we'll have them over for dinner.  His wife/fiancĂ©e is a daycare provider/nanny/sitter.  So, he said if we ever need someone to watch Andi... uhm, HELLO!!!  :)  They also have a 10 year old and a 2 year old.  Thought that was a cool meet-up.

I went to Andi's school today at the request of her teacher.  It was "field day" where the whole school participated in mostly outdoor games and activities. Her teacher asked that I come help Andi navigate the outdoor environment.  I'm glad I went because it would've been a lot for them to handle -- 8 kids while helping Andi as much as she requires.  I also got to see Andi grab at her friends, overly love them with some "hugs" which look more like some neck yanking, debilitating wrestling move. One kid was a complete spastic disaster. He not only didn't listen, he was all over the place.  When we left at 11, Andi's teacher thanked me for coming to help.  I thanked them for having me.  She said, "sure, any time!"  I jokingly responded, 'there's not enough booze on the planet that would enable me to do this every day.'  It was rather loud & chaotic.  I see where some of Andi's new habits are coming from, both the good & the bad.  The one thing that came out of my visit is my new found desire and conscious responsibility to complain about the special education classroom.  They have eight pre-K kids, a teacher, a teacher-assistant and an interpreter in a classroom the size of my master bathroom.  I mean, for a bathroom, it's pretty dang big... but, for a classroom containing all those people, it's way too small.  I feel the need to voice my concerns about their well-being in such a small area.  I think I'll wait until tomorrow when I'm a bit fresh, and have the knack for pulling out the really good letter.

The one thing I was delighted to see while I was at school today, was to witness Andi getting off the floor and standing unassisted.  She's great if she can hold onto something, but today, I watched her stand without holding onto anything.  It was AWESOME!  I'm so glad I was able to see that.

Here are some recent photos - for those not following us on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Coming Out Of Hiding!

The tales of Andi Bean are now available for all to consume.  We've been, oooh, just a skosh busy.  We recently relocated across the continent to Georgia, where we are losing years of moss off ourselves with all this glorious sunshine.  It's been a wonderful transition, and our mood o' meters have definitely perked up!  Everything here is bigger!  Bigger houses, more options of things to do, and bigger temperatures!  Yesterday, after Andi Bean got on the bus, Daddy Bean and I went for a morning walk.  We were out at 6:20 in the morning in short sleeve shirts and shorts.  No  joke.  We were practically skipping down the sidewalk pathway, giddy with our new environment.  We talked about it, and although we agreed that Portland has cleaner air and water (minus the peein' hoodlum... I'm just sayin'!), we wouldn't go back.  We are home.

Now this new home is about 2.5 times the size of our home in Portland.  Dang 1924 house wasn't built to fit a Bean!  With this new found space, the Bean has taken to independent walking all over, including up and down the stairs.  One of the first things we purchased upon arrival was a set of baby gates for the top and bottom of the stairs.  But we determined that she could handle them, and so we returned those baby gates and bought her some short-sleeved shirts and shorts instead!  Andi is attending a deaf/hard-of-hearing PreK, in Roswell.  It's not the closest school, but we have the bus picking her up (at 6 a.m.) and dropping her off (at noon).  It's a long day for our almost four year old baby girl.  She's been walking the halls holding someone's hand, and she's loving it so far.  She still misses her friends back home, but I think she's adjusted amazingly well here.  I can tell she's even grown, perhaps all the walking and natural vitamin D!!!!

With the move, we've completely switched insurance programs.  We are now on Daddy Bean's insurance.  I think walking a tight-rope after having several glasses of vodka, over the grand canyon without a net, would be less scary than switching insurance and set of Dr's.  I've asked for a copy of our medical files, and they are having to mail them.  No, they're doing me a huge favor.  HUGE!  At almost four years old, Andi's medical record is 400 pages.  My record is 90 pages, and I've been in that system for 18 years.  Uhm, Y-E-A-H!

Also with this move, it has been determined that it's time for me to go back to work full-time.  I've been with the same company for 18 years.  They are my family.  I'm scared witless and thrilled at the thought of tackling a new adventure.  But... my o' my how things have changed since I last sought employment.  There wasn't an internet.  There was me, a word-processor and pre-Kinko's store with a fax machine.  It's different. A lot different.  You need profiles on various sites. Everyone wants you to create a profile on their site to even apply for their job listing.  There are a gazillion "e-recruiters" which are jobs emailed to you based not on personal opinion, but something a computer spits out at you.  You can easily make it a full-time job just looking for a job.  And the whole trying to sell yourself gets really, really old.  Yesterday, I found myself starting to write as my cover letter, 'why not me?!'  A simple protest of how tedious and obnoxious this whole process is.  Super sorry, I haven't allocated a lot of time to my LinkedIn profile... you want to hear how great I am...?! let me have you talk to the professional references I've hand-picked that will vouch for me.  Gone are the days where you can just push forth a piece of paper in the mail in a crisp envelope.  Now it's like you have to juggle knives, while balancing on a ball, in the nude with little tassels covering your private parts.  I mean, it's beyond ridiculous.  In all this though, I have listened to my Oprah-speak and determined that all things going the way I want them to, I would like nothing more than to write, create, and be a part of a team doing something fun. There are SO many directions I could take my career. I have been doing so many various things over the years. But the thing I love most is to write.  I really should finish my book.  I tried incorporating the blog, and it's sort of overwhelmed and stifled the process.  There's SO much good writing in this blog during the darkest, heaviest days -- I really want to use it, showcase it.  That energy was undeniable, and so, so, so creative & full of my personality.  It is a must. My title is still perfection... so, really, I must make the time for it. 18 years in publishing, I have to know some one that would publish it... ...don't I?!  *crickets!*

So, we're back online and reemerging from life transitions.  It's nice to be freed, and found basking in the sunshine of the south.