Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ain't no stopping me now...I'm on the move! (UPDATE with pictures!)

Hello Everyone!!

Well, hang onto your hats everyone, I got stories to tell! Hard to believe I have now been on the outside as long as I was on the inside! :)

Mommy prefers to type in the list format, so I am going to let her since she is so good to me!

I had my 9-month check-up last Friday and the doctor says that I am a keeper! I am officially 20 pounds and 27 3/4 long! I had the sniffles that day, so she checked me out extra good. Probably just a combination of allergies and teething.

Nope! No teeth yet!! Apparently, my gums are swollen but nothing yet. Oh well, that doesn't stop me from taste-testing anything I can get in my hands and to my mouth. And watch out, I am quick!'

I have a hard time breathing at night like my brother and sister did, so Mommy and Daddy are wondering if I will need my adnoids (and maybe tonsils) out eventually. Mommy says that I snore as bad as Daddy! We do have this neat air-blowing machine in our room now called an humidifer that is supposed to help.

Eating is still one of my favorite pasttimes! All the same favorites plus a few new ones this last month. Mommy likes to make gluten-free pancakes and pasta, so she let me try it too. YUM! I love to scrabble up the pieces and shove them in my mouth as fast as I can. Mommy found out that I like to feed myself too! If she gives me (I grab from her!) the spoon with food on it, I flip it over and swipe the food off with my tongue. Of course, then I bang, bang for more! :)

Mommy also got me some special cups to try out. They are fun to throw on the floor too! I am still love to nurse, but I like my bottles and cups so I can do things myself as well.

I can crawl faster than you can blink. Go ahead, try it!

My favorite new gadget is my little push toy. Can I hear you holler "FREEDOM!"!! I feel like Dora the Explorer. Oh, wait, I don't even know who that is yet! Never mind! I love to check out different rooms, especially when people are hiding from me.

I decided to stand without holding onto anything right before I turned 9 months old. I am not sure why, but everyone always claps when I do it. Go figure that big people were so easy to entertain! It didn't take me long to want to do it all the time. Now, I like to stand, squat, stand. I will do that forever when I am playing with my books since I like to drop them on the floor. They say that weight-bearing exercises are good for you, so my new thing is to squat down, pick things up, then stand up and hold them real high. Just call me Heman!

No steps yet. Mommy wants me to slow down, but I am still thinking I might beat my sister's 10-month walking record! Oh well, I am having fun standing and clapping anyway!

I love to play at the windows, especially when brother and sister are outside where I can see them. When they are at school, I just like to talk to the birds and squirrels. They don't much like it when I bang on the window, though.

I experienced my first snow! There was lots and lots of the white stuff on the ground and the trees. So pretty! The big kids played outside in it, but I just wanted to see it. Daddy let me touch it once, but it was too cold for me. I was happy to watch them build a snowman from my window.

I love to listen to music, or my brother sing real loud! It makes me bounce my legs and booty, something they call dancing. I will even clap to the music or when you say "yea!!".

I talk a lot! If you try to talk to me, I might act shy at first, but I warm up real fast.

Mommy loves that I think things are funny. She says that I have a great laugh. Sometimes, I even laugh for no reason, but whatever I am thinking must be pretty funny!

When I am going to sleep or hanging out in your lap, I twirl my right foot in circles. Yep, always my right foot!

Mommy and I like to play face games in the mirror. It's weird that I have two Mommies sometimes! I get super excited when she lets me stand on the sink and play at the bathroom mirror.

I love watching for people to come in the door. I am always excited to see brother and sister and I always give Daddy a big grin when he comes home.

Guess it is time to go play!

See you soon!



Practicing for the Army
Helping Mommy in the kitchen...right!

Why yes, I do look just like my sister with a bow on my head!

Go, Go Baby!

You are in my way dude!

Ready for the keys!

Toes hard at work!

Making animal noises

More cute toes!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Desert island

No, I am not on one.

I wish!

Internet down last few days.

Now home computer in shop.

Too hard to post or comment from bb.

Will return emails from bb or when at work this week.

Hope to be back soon!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

My tank runneth over

Next time I will know better than to feed my movie popcorn craving under the guise of treating my children to a movie at the nearby cheap theater. 

Can you blame me though?  Three movie tickets, extra large popcorn, and 2 drinks for under $11.50!!

Too bad I didn't figure in the $62 worth of gasoline!

See the action going on outside that window?

I was minding my own business, just putting gas in my car.  Innocently enough, I hopped back in the car to wait for the pump to finish because it was {brrrrr} outside!  Like, I might add, I have done many, many times before.

As I waited, L said something along the lines of how much longer so I peeked through my window to check the numbers.

Some number in the 60's blurred past me and I told L it would be just a minute.

Then I had one of those moments when the next series of events happens in warp speed.

$62?!?!  I opened my door to witness gasoline gushing out of my gas tank.  I screamed at calmly told the kids to get out of the car NOW and we run into the store, telling the cashier to shut off the tank NOW.

He casually looked up from his transaction and looked out the window.

I tried again.


I think he shut off the tank.

I then proceeded to strongly suggest that he call the fire department because there was gasoline all over the place.

I am not sure how to even describe this man.  Basically, he had a very casual attitude and was more interested in doing business than paying attention to the crisis that could end the business.

He waved his hand and said something about me moving my car out of the way and he had some stuff to put on the gasoline in a minute.

UM, NO!  I firmly let him know that I would not be moving my car because THERE.WAS.A.LOT.OF.GASOLINE.EVERY.WHERE.AND.HE.NEEDED.TO.CALL.THE.FIRE.DEPARTMENT!

While waiting for him to do the right thing, I noticed a car had pulled up next to mine and she was getting her kids out.  I ran out and told her and her husband what was going on, to leave the kids in the car, and to pull out of the way.  After going back in, another guy looked out the window and told the man "dude, there is a lot of gasoline out there.".

At some point, I called my husband and said we would be a bit later than planned.  I started to tell him what was going on.  Here is where I would love to tell you that he inquired about our safety, asked if there was anything he could do, and told me to call him as soon as everything is ok.  Instead, I received an inquiry as to how in the world this could happen and how I should never leave the pump/get in the car.

Moving on.

Finally, a policeman came and began directing cars and people to leave the station.  At first, he told us to stand outside behind the building then he let us stand inside at the back of the building because it was so cold.  A fire truck and hazmat (?) guy showed up next.  They resolved the situation and were very kind to me and the kids.  They could probably see the look of a woman that could have an emotional breakdown at any moment!  :)

Right before they moved my car around to me, a couple of guys were making a transaction and one guy asked the squirrely worker guy if there had been a gas spill.  He proceeded to say that "some woman was talking on her cell phone and let the pump overflow.

*#&*$@^%&!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (in my head, of course!)

Oh, you know it!  I marched right over to that counter and made sure he knew that I was NOT talking on my cell phone when his pump failed to click off!  He hemmed, hawed, and stammered that he must have been mistaken!

Finally, a nice gentleman pulled my van around and assured me that it would be ok to drive home.  He told me to head over to the carwash first and get as much cleaned off before heading home.  It was a pretty stinky ride home.  It was a pretty stinky ride for a few days.

Of course, I kept tense 10 and 2 hands on the wheel all the way home.  And someone had the nerve to flick a cigarette butt out of their car right in front of me on the drive home.  As if I wasn't a nervous wreck already!!

So, here is what I want to know....

Do you always stand outside by the pump when getting gas?  Has this ever happened to you?  In all my years of pumping gasoline, this has never happened to me.  I do stand by the pump sometimes, but a lot of times I get back in my car if it is cold.  I always make sure to touch something before touching the pump again.  And I never leave my car unattended when getting gasoline.  The fire guy told me that they will probably have to change the law soon because this has been happening a lot more.  Some guy in California went into the station and while talking on his cell phone, managed to let 100 gallons of gasoline spill out!  Yikes!  I remember when I lived in Oregon, that they pumped the gasoline for you. 

Never boring around here!


p.s. The fire chief checked on me before I left and asked if the guy had refunded my money for the spilled gasoline.  He did and when I told him that, he said "good".  Although I didn't ask him to, I did expect him to since it was the faulty pump and not the faulty mommy.  Or at least that is my opinion!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The rest of the story...really!

Part I
The thing about small towns is that every nursing home in the vicinity wants an OT.  While it is nice to be wanted, well, that is not my favorite gig.  Don't get me wrong, I do adore the geriatric population but working as a therapist in that setting is not my passion.  I also could add more home health patients, but not enough to make it economically feasable for me since driving between patient homes takes a huge chunk of the day.  I had sent out about 20 resumes to various educational settings to see if anyone needed help mid-year.  No luck.

I ended up keeping my home health patients, which I had 4 originally.  I also ended up back at the hospital 2 days a week to help them out.  Sometime in Decemeber, I received a flyer in the mail about a new outpatient pediatric therapy clinic opening soon in a town about 30 minutes away.  It peaked my interest so I checked out their website then called the administrator to get some details.  The flyer made the place seem very similar to ones I was familiar to in Dallas.  One of "those" places where they say they can meet many various needs under one roof.  My experience had been that too often "those" places were staffed by newer therapists (either new grads or new to pediatrics) and/or staffed in such a way that cookie-cutter therapy was applied to almost everyone.  My other concern was all the rules that would be involved since it would be/is a certified CORF (Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility).  When you start dealing with Medicaid and Medicare, it just feels too complicated to me.  So, I approached this situation with some hesitation.

After interviewing, negotiating, investigating, and praying, I took a position there 3 weeks ago and started working there 2 weeks ago.  I am working there on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-5.  At first, I hated the thought of not picking my kids up those two days and just being gone longer in general.  However, things seemed to fall into place which made it a bit easier.  I still take the kids in the morning since I don't have to be there until 9 AM.  B stays 2 extra hours with Aunt J while A and L both get to enjoy their respective "after school care" activities.  They were thrilled, so that made me feel less guilty.  I mean who wouldn't be thrilled with games, snacks, etc!  Daddy picks them all up and I arrive home shortly after they do.

I think I will like working there for the most part.  Like I said, all the rules that go with the type of facility it is will take some getting used to, but I feel like that will work itself out soon enough.  If I had to break it down into postives and not-so-positives, it might look like this:

  •  Brand NEW 10,000 square foot facility.  An extra bonus is that they are utilizing that square footage inside of the town's small outlet mall.  A boost for the mall, the community, and any of us that might need to shop at the kitchen store across the "hall" when we have a break!  :)
  • All new stuff~ equipment, supplies, you name it!  The administrator has great taste and has done a nice job of making it very welcoming and engaging for the kids, while at the same time very useful for the staff and families.
  • The opportunity to be part of the start-up.  It has been exciting to have my opinion valued and get to make decisions regarding what the needs of the facility are in order to best serve the clients.  I mean who doesn't love spending other people's money...with their permission!!
  • The opportunity to set the standard of care for this facility.  That means a LOT to me!  So far, the staff is small until our client base grows.  We have the administrator, office manager, social worker/assistant administrator, speech therapist, occupational therapy assistant, and occupational therapist (me!).  There are a few others that have already signed on to work as needed, but basically, if they can get a physical therapist and a dietician hired, that would make a great start-up staff.  Again, setting the standard of care is so important to me.  In spending time with the other current staff, I believe that they are mindful of that as well.  I have been told that despite what and how similar types of facilities are doing things, that our goal is to provide the best that each individual client and their familiy needs. 
  • Finally, a place once again to house all my STUFF!  :)  I have been a therapist for a long time so I have lots of stuff; papers, articles, books, stuff!  I am so proud of myself too!  Because we didn't have clients the first two weeks (getting the clinic ready), I had time to actually organize my stuff.  I love nice, clean labels on nice, new folders!  :)
  • Not having control, or not having full-confidence of those in control, of hiring.  Don't get me wrong, I truly like the administrator and I think she will listen to my opinion regarding some best practice towards hiring, but it is still an uneasy feeling when you have not known those in charge for long.  My two biggest fears are that too many new graduates or therapists that just want a "change" and decide to switch over to pediatrics will get hired and/or others will be hired eventually that I don't share like-minded philosophy with.  I certainly don't mind some balance, but I have to have confidence in those that I entrust these kids to or work along side.  I don't mean that in a know-it-all way.  I certainly do NOT know it all and I am always wanting to learn more, but there just needs to be good fit among the staff.  Puzzles pieces~ each different but creating the whole picture once fitted together.
  • The fear of being told how to treat or what can and can't be done for a child.  I don't know really.  I don't think that will happen, but I can't say for sure it won't.  Just a fear of the unknown, I guess.  For example, when we were learning the computer system and how to input the information for reports, I wanted to be able to utilize a style of reports that I felt was most beneficial for the families.  The IT person was very willing to take my suggestions and try to create something that would work, but I could tell this would be new for them.  I mentioned that I like the written reports I give my families to read a certain way and I learned that the other facilities don't usually give reports to the families.  Uh, what?!  Again, I am hopeful that this is my chance to set the standard.
  • The fact that this is a "business" into which a couple of people have invested a lot (a lot) of money.  I am not used to that.  I hope the "business" doesn't interfere with the task at hand!
I will leave the not-so-positive's at a minimum because I want to believe that this is a good thing and not keep second guessing.  And although when my opinion is requested I feel free to give it, I want to try not to always say, "well, where I used to work...".  (However, I loved so much of how we did things there, it is truly hard not to start my sentences that way!)

I am grateful to have this opportunity again.  I believe this can be a much-needed resource for the community the facility resides in as well as many of the smaller surrounding communities.

Fingers crossed!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The rest of the story...almost!

After working at the same job for over 11 years and then moving too far away to drive there almost 2 years ago (and believe me, I seriously tried to figure out how to do that!), my exhausted quest for a job around here that is a good fit for me has been, well, exhausting.

I have said it before, but I loved my previous employment situation.  I loved my co-workers/friends, the environment, the families.  I know that is rare which is probably why it hurt even more than it already did to leave.

Since arriving here, I have worked at the hospital, for a home health agency, for two nursing homes, and for an educational shared services/school district.  Many times these things overlapped.  The home health agency and the school district did allow me to work with children.  Originally, I worked 2 days a week at the hospital from June-September 2008 until the census didn't warrant me being there.  Since I am considered a PRN or as needed employee, my work there can come and go. 

Around that September, I learned of a possible OT need at a neighboring school district.  The job was actually a shared services situation (typical in small communities) which means that one special education department served, in this case, 7 school districts.  This department had not had an OT since the school year began and the director was happy to have me for the 2 days a week I could offer.

I had never really worked in the school setting, as in, having to abide by all the educational mandates that come with working in that setting.  I was used to working in a private setting where I was able to serve kids because they needed therapy, not just because and when it was educationally relevant.  That being said, I was happy to at least be working with children again.  I played by the paperwork rules, but also knew that during my time with the kids, I was providing them (as much as possible) with what they really needed.

I had that job from October 2008-November 2009.  The situation that warranted me leaving that job is a story too long to tell in full, but the condensed version will do for now. 

Have you ever worked in a situation where you enjoyed most of the people you work with, but there is that one person who just messes up the whole good vibe thing?  Well, unfortunately in this case, that person happened to be the special education director.  Loud, brash, extremely disorganized, underhanded, unprofessional, forgetful, and dishonest are my nice descriptive words!  I am also thinking bipolar.  The other unfortunate detail is that this particular person had somehow embedded herself into this job just enough that no one dared question her...out loud.  Everyone just did their job AND those closest to her made sure it looked like she was doing her job.

For me, everything was going along ok.  I had really gotten to know the kids and the various staff over that year and I felt like they trusted me since I wasn't the "new OT" anymore.  However, I knew that my 2 days a week was not enough to serve on the kids on the caseload.  I even repeatedly inquired and encouraged the director to find an additional OT.  In May of last year (2009), obviously pregnant, we talked about the next school year.  I shared that I would like to come back in August, continuing my current schedule.  And I was made to feel like I was wanted back.  We talked about my schedule and SIGNED A CONTRACT.  Just wanted to be clear on that point!  :)

In August,  I returned to my job, even arriving a few days early to do an in-service for the teachers and aides as I had promised and scheduled back in May.  Won't even get into the fiasco surrounding that situation, but it should have been my first clue.  As I worked the first few days to get all my kids on a schedule for the semester, several times I was met with pleasant surprise that I was back.  And of course, everyone asked about the baby.  At some point early on, I heard that an additional therapist (OT) and therapist assistant (OTA) had been hired.  I was thrilled because now I knew that all the current, and any new, kids could be served adequately.

After the first week back, several people mentioned that they were surprised to see me.  Apparantly, they knew the other therapists had been hired and didn't think I was coming back.  Several teachers were curious about two different therapists seeing the same children.  After being told directly by the two office managers that the director had told them I wasn't coming back, I decided I had better investigate a bit. 

My hindsight version is that I gave the director two opportunities to tell me what I was hearing from others.  Both times, she chose to tell me that I indeed still was working there and that I was to continue with my schedule.  I also tried to get her to sit down with me and the other therapists to review our kids, schedules, etc.  That never happened.  The final straw for me was the day I was seeing kids and these two therapists showed up to work on scheduling the kids I was already seeing.  I was surprised to see my kids on their schedule and they were surprised to see me in general.  Apparently, they had been told that I quit or was fired; never really got the whole story about that one!

Anyway, after the awkward encounter, I made haste over to her office.  After inquiring about the situation with her assistant, I found out that every conversation I had had with the director had been twisted into something else when she was questioned by her assistant.  A she-said, she-said shenanagans!!  Crazy stuff!  Bipolar stuff!  I would walk out of her office being told to work on as planned, no change.  She would tell her assistant that I would only be there 2 more weeks or that I was just finishing up my paperwork and then be gone.

I was MAD!  But it took me forever to nail her down because she was never around.  Usually, she was running around putting out the fires that she had caused.  In the mean time, I had finally confided in a woman at one of the schools who happened to be the aide to one of my students.  We had come to know each other on a more personal level and I knew her to be a kind and Godly woman.  Once she heard my situation, she told me things about this woman and her work history in the district that made me cringe.

After finally confirming an appointment with her and her assistant.  I requested her assistant be in there so we both heard the same thing.  After the fact, I learned that despite her assistant appearing to be understanding of my situation, she may not have actually been a "good guy" either.  WHO KNOWS!!  The meeting was a joke.  I had to show her my contract because she said she didn't remember signing a contract with me back in May.  OH AND, didn't I get her letter to me over the summer stating that they had hired other therapists and were no longer needing my services?  UH NO!  Do you think I would have showed up to do in-services?  Don't you think I would have called if I had received that letter?  Funny thing though, she just happened to find a copy of the UNdated letter she mailed to me over the summer.  YEA RIGHT!  So, why didn't you say all this when I showed up OR when I gave you TWO opportunities to say it in your office?  AND THEN, if that wasn't enough, she tried to pull some lame excuse that I had offended an employee at one of the schools I went to and wasn't welcomed back.  WHAT?!  IF that had happened, don't you think a LEGITIMATE Special Education Director would have looked into and handled the situation sooner than TWO WEEKS LATER!!  GIVE ME A BREAK!!

Basically, it ended with me getting her to apologize for any "miscommunication" and her having the decency (and I do use that word VERY lightly!) to give me the 60-day noticed as outlined in my contract.  Don't you know that next 60 days were so much fun for me!  And while I didn't directly bad-mouth her, when I told people that my last day would be in November and that it was not my decision, they were disappointed, which of course made me feel good.  Many gave me the "I understand" nod in reference to her.  That is what gets me....if everyone knows WHY OH WHY is she still allowed to be there!!  Sadly, I learned that she is one of those "don't mess with" people who basically had her heels dug in and it would take major shovels to pull up the bad weed!

In the end, the benefit came for the kids.  During those 60 days, each of the children on my caseload actually received double therapy.  Rare in school districts!  The director had to honor both contracts! 

I will be really honest though.  As much as it wasn't my ideal working situation and as much as I would never work for that system again as long as she is the director, it s*cks (the truth here!) that I lost such a sweet paying job.  I don't know how they could pay therapists so much, but I imagine that had to in order to get anyone to work out there.

Several weeks before my school job ended, I worked on securing other consistent employment.

Oh wait, I said this was the condensed version, right?

Hmmm, not so condensed!



Monday, February 1, 2010

Christmas 2009

Well, you must think I am kidding, but I can't not document Christmas!

These are not nearly all the pictures.  I may come back and add more just for my personal "scrapbooking", but these will do for now!

My son's class performed at one of the local banks in December.  They sang several songs and recited Luke 2:1-14.  They had practiced A LOT and my L took ever opportunity to practice at home, in the car, you name it!  (He is still singing Christmas songs from time to time!!)  These kids were amazing....they had really memorized it all!  I had heard L practicing "Happy Birthday Jesus" solo (and loved it), but to hear their sweet voices sing it all together!  Well, of course I had tears in my eyes!

At an extended family Christmas gathering.  As you can see, the big kids are ready to dig into presents! 

The kids were so excited for Daddy to open his present from them!  A neck massager.  Not that he had a clue or anything.  Just a few hours earlier, A had asked him if his neck still hurt.  When he answered yes, she exclaimed, "Well, not after Christmas!!".

I love this sweet picture!

This is actually an re-enactment, but the real thing was so stinkin' funny that I made them do it for a picture.  There is still a little authenticity in this one!  At the store, L had remembered that sister wanted a "sewing kit" and asked if he could get it for her.  Awwww!  She got another bigger one from her great-grandmother, so she is ready to sew!

"What?  The box isn't my present?"


There is so much I could say about commercialism by just using this one little picture!  Actually, I just might talk about that at a later date.

My girl still loves dress up, so I picked this up for 75% off after Halloween.  Check out little brother checking her out!

Another one of her requests...this ensemble is part of her "cooking kit" that Santa brought for her, including a few cookbooks and some cooking tools.  She has already blessed us with her talents, including a full meal for us!

He loves Ben 10.  Santa is all-knowing!

I usually try to pick up matching things for the cousins at off-season shopping prices.  They are some cool dudes!

Boots all around!

Tissue paper heaven!

Let me just say, that this is going to be love-hate-love relationship for years to come! 

Pillow case dresses that I made the girls.  One little missy was in no mood for pictures!

So, we settled on these two beauties!