Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

I was a wee-bit scared to hop on the scale this morning.  I didn't exercise at all while we were on vacation over Christmas and my eating routine was completely-off.  So, I didn't know what to expect.

Fortunately, with all the desserts, Starbucks runs (with whip), butter and fast food at the airport, I only gained one pound.  I have 3 more pounds to go to reach my goal... however, Joel's homecoming is approaching fast so I need to rededicate myself to healthy eating and schedule plenty of dates with the elliptical machine.

But first, I'm enjoying one last muffin for breakfast.... Wish me luck!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Baby's New Accessory

My baby has a new accessory... a helmet.  Yes, I am the proud momma to a "helmet baby". 

Autumn was diagnosed with plagiocephaly - basically a significant asymmetry to the shape of the skull.  A lot of babies have a flat spot, due to SIDS and having to place babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk.  But even with the amount of time that Autumn spends sitting up and on her belly, her "flatness" was not getting better - it was getting worse.

So, we had many doctor's visits this fall, took some xrays and saw a plastic surgeon.  Fortunately, the plates her in her head are all open so we didn't have to go the drastic route of surgery, but three physicians all advised me to have her go to an orthotic specialist to get fitted for a custom helmet.  Joel and I talked on the phone and via email a lot about this, but it was really hard to be the only parent here to make the final decision.

The night after we saw the plastic surgeon, I was doing some research on the Internet and saw an article that talked about how Tricare (the military insurance) will not pay for baby helmets.  (You can read that article here.)  I was shocked when I read that article and immediately went to Tricare's website to look up their coverage, and I was surprised to see it in black and white.  They weren't going to cover it.

The next day, we got in to see the orthotic specialist and the owner happened to be the person who saw Autumn.  We did all the measurements and the 3-D scan and I mentioned to him that I was 99% positive that Tricare was going to deny the claim, but that I would look into grant money to pay for it.  He kept telling me not to worry about the money, but to focus on Autumn.  I was stressed because I knew that Joel and I wanted to go ahead with the helmet and treatment, but everything in total cost around $3800.  The helmet itself cost $1800 and then there is about $2000 in visits, treatments and measurements.  We're a military family and $3800 is a major chunk of change for us.

As we left that first appointment with the orthotic specialist, I went to make an appointment for a follow-up visit.  As I was talking with the receptionist, she mentioned that the owner told her that he would accept $1500 for the helmet and all the treatments that are needed for Autumn's care.  I couldn't believe what she said - that's a $300 loss for the cost of the helmet alone and then he would be eating all the cost for the treatment  My mom was waiting with Grace in the car.  I told her what just happened and both of us just sat in the front seat of the car together and wept.  God was taking care of us.

I came home and emailed Joel all the details about the visit and told him I would start looking into grant money that was available through an Indiana non-profit for military families.  Over the next week, I did my research and started to gather the paperwork I would need to submit for the grant, but I was still waiting for Tricare to deny the claim.  They did and it shook me.  I was so mad.  Joel and I don't feel entitled because we're a military family, but believe me, he works hard for what we have.  I was mad because I knew by research I had done, that the baby helmet was very common, was approved by the FDA and so many insurance companies pay for them.  What made even less sense, was that Tricare didn't have any problem paying for the half-dozen doctor's visits and all the xrays that lead up to her diagnosis.  They paid almost as much in all those medical costs as the cost of the helmet.

I shot off any angry email to my congressman ... I'm pretty sure their kid wouldn't go without and they're the ones who decide what military insurance covers...  Anyway, that's a major soapbox issue that I'll just leave be.  I made a random post on Facebook about having to work on the grants, and what came next floored me.

In the four hours after I made my angry Facebook post, six people contacted me.  Each of them said that they would happily pay for Autumn's helmet in full so that we weren't burdened by it.  Six people willing to shell out $1500, without question.  I was completely humbled, and will admit that I cried.  A lot, actually.  I felt so alone in all of this - with Joel overseas.  And it meant the world to know that so many people were willing to care for our little girl in such a generous way.

So, 10 days later, Autumn's helmet came in and I was able to write a check for $1500 without a worry.  It was paid in full and my only worry is now for Autumn's treatment.

She's rocking the helmet, I must say.  Who wouldn't rock a $1500 accessory with such pride?

Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you  I Peter 5:7

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!  Whether your loved one is home or far away, I pray that you would find joy today.

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

Just wanted to let you know that I'm on break from my normal Wednesday weigh-in.  It's Christmas and I'm trying to be as good as I can be...  next week I'll see what damage I've done.  And then I'm sure the elliptical machine and I will be back to our regular visits.

Merry Christmas and enjoy it in all its deliciousness.

Friday, December 17, 2010

MilSpouse Friday FIll-In

Thanks to Wife of a Sailor for a very Christmas-themed fill-in this week!

1.What is the best gift you have ever received or given? from Jessica Lynn Writes
My engagement ring... it was one of the best moments of my life and started something great!

2.Do you celebrate holidays differently when your loved one is deployed/gone or do you keep tradition? from The Albrecht Squad
This is our first time celebrating Christmas while Joel's overseas.  I'm trying hard to keep things as they always are.  If anything's different it's that I'm spending a lot more time with family this year.

3.If you celebrate Christmas, do you put an angel, star or something else on the top of your tree?
I have a star on our tree.  I'm obsessed with stars - probably because of the symmetry.

4.What are your three favorite websites?
The 3 I visit the most are: Hotmail, Facebook & Blogger
The 3 I love to visit are:  Pottery Barn, Sephora &

5.On your man do you prefer… boxers, briefs or boxer briefs? Or commando? (yeah, I’m starting to get desperate for questions!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pay Increase

Read more here about what will most likely be the military pay increase for the coming year.

Good news is the House bill proposes for increases in Housing and Subsistence allowances.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Bump for the Little Troop

My Gracie is quite the little troop.  In her short 4 years of life, she's been through 3 deployments.  I knew that as she got older, that each deployment would get more difficult for her.  She's close with Joel - they're best buds, and I have learned, that I'm no-where near as fun.  (I've been told.)

Grace has had some separation anxiety since the beginning of this deployment.  I've worked hard to be intentional about letting her know what I'm doing, where I'm at in the house, what the agenda is for the day and week...  These things all help her feel a bit more secure.  She sleeps in bed with me, follows me around the house (including the bathroom) and is a worrier.  Now, if Joel was here, I promise you, that she wouldn't be in bed with me and I wouldn't tolerate her following me into the bathroom.  But I've learned that you have to be extremely flexible when parenting during a deployment.  My main priority is giving my girls a sense of security when their daddy is away, and if that means that she crawls in bed with me every night, then so be it.

The last few months have been pretty smooth sailing for Grace.  As long as she knows what to expect and how many more months until Daddy comes home, she's pretty well set.  She's obedient and respectful.  Until recently.

I feel that we've taken a million steps back the last few weeks.  Grace is talking back, hitting me, coming out of her room at bedtime (like a thousand times a night)... she's crying about having to go to school, going to bed, going to the bathroom, taken a bath, going to Sunday School.  You name it, it's a problem.  I know what she's going through and why she's doing this - she's had it with this deployment.  She's finished.  Done.

But so am I.  If you've been through a deployment, you know there's a wall you hit after a certain point.  I hit it last month.  You don't think you can go on another day.  You feel that you're completely zapped of energy and emotion.  You don't want anyone to have any expectations of you whatsoever.  You just want to crawl in bed and wake up the morning that your loved one comes home.

Grace is there.  She's hit her wall and waiting for Daddy to come home isn't an option.  She's done waiting. She's done being good.  She's over it.  I am, too.

So, I give her extra hugs and kisses.  I put my to-dos aside and play princess one more time.  I read an extra book with her at night.  I let her pick out treats now and then when we're shopping.  I spoil her.  She deserves it and she needs it right now. 

I just hope and pray that the behavior stuff works itself out when Joel comes home. Please, Lord!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Baby Changes Everything

I love Christmas.  And even with Joel's absence, my Christmas spirit is in high-gear.  Our small tree is up, the stockings are hung, all the presents are bought and Christmas music has been playing pretty much non-stop in our house for the last month or so.  I have a lot of Christmas CDs and there are definitely those songs that I am always drawn to and have on repeat.  Faith Hill's A Baby Changes Everything is one of those songs that I just love to hear and sing with... and cry to.

The words are powerful and her singing is perfection.  I'm so thankful that some two-thousand years ago, my Savior came to earth, as a baby, and changed everything.  He changed the world, He changed the hearts of man, and He changed my life.

The last stanza of the song is so powerful:
My whole life has turned around
I was lost but now I'm found
A baby changes everything


I'm sure you've already heard it, but if not check it out!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

Happy Wednesday!

I lost one pound this week!  I was a pretty good-girl this week and worked out and watched what I ate.  I also made sure to not binge while watching The Biggest Loser last night - instead I did squats during the commercials.  *pats self on back*

So, I have 2 more pounds to go to make my 25 pound weight loss goal.  I'm still kind of shocked that I've lost 23 pounds... it's a good feeling.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

150 Days

We've made it through day 150.  I had to look over my calendar again and make sure I counted right because 150 seems like such a big number and I can hardly believe I'm still feeling sane at this point.  But I am.  People ask me all the time how I'm doing and I usually say "well" or "really well"... it all depends on the day.  But I'm still saying "really well", and I know that for me to say that at this point, with all that's gone on in the last 150 days, that it has to be a God thing.

I know so many people are praying for us daily.  I know because I'm told all the time and it means the world to me that so many people are standing next to us right now. 

Our pastor and his family came back to church today after a 4-month sabbatical.  When they left in August, I was anxious, because it was just another change from normal and security for me.  It was great to hear today all that God did in their lives and in their family during this time - they are renewed.

Sometimes a time away renews a person.  Sometimes time away from those we hold the most dear renews us far beyond what we could imagine.  Our church was renewed, refreshed and strengthened even during our pastor's absence.  It was great to see how our church came together to pick-up the slack and become a united front.

The same thing is true of this deployment.  People are always surprised when I say we're doing well and that my marriage to Joel is strong, despite his absence and what he's doing overseas.  But the same principle applies for us as it does to our pastor and our church family.  When you are away from those you love the most you: 1) realize how much you count on them 2) realize how different your life is with them away 3) realize that you can do more than you ever thought 5) realize that your life is absolutely better with them there, but they are not the head of your life.  And a very important #6 for us, is that your realize how often you put that other person in the place that God should have. 

So, 150 days done, with plenty of lessons learned, and I'm sure, more to come.

Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Friday, December 3, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

We're back with MilSpouse fill-ins, courtesy of Wife of a Sailor.  So, glad she has power back and has finally warmed-up!

1.If you were given $1,000 right now, how would you spend it?
I'd use it to pay off debt.  I really, really want to get rid of my student loan and pay off our other debts!

2.If you had to choose a movie title (a real one that already exists) for your life story, what would it be?
"Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"... It was a movie from 1988 and is really "Women" but I cheated and changed it.  I've never seen it, but some days (like today), the title seems appropriate.

3.If you were a teacher, what subject would you like to teach?
English.  I had a great English teacher my Junior year of high school who really opened my eyes to how fun grammar can be and it because of her that I did so well writing papers in college.  I'm kind of a geek and actually have a grammar book next to my bed to read at night.

4.Has being a MilSpouse changed how you view holidays or how your holidays are celebrated? If so, how? If not, what hasn’t changed?
Most definitely.  I treasure the times our family can be together and I think Joel and I really appreciate the holidays we are able to spend together. 

5.What is your favorite Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) memory?
One year, my family traveled home to Illinois from North Carolina right after an ice storm.  Thankfully the road were pretty clear, but I remember how gorgeous the mountains and trees were - all covered in the most beautiful, glistening ice.  It made a long ride home really enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

Finally!  I finally lost a pound - the same pound I gained a few weeks ago.  I'm back to where I was one month ago.  So, 3 more pounds to go to meet my 25 pound goal.  I plan to dust off the elliptical machine and get back on it this week - it's been horribly neglected the last few weeks.

I think I figured out why I've been staying steady the last few weeks, even with a stomach flu thrown in...  The Biggest Loser.  It's the show's fault.  See, The Biggest Loser airs on Tuesday nights, right before my weekly weigh-in.  And I love that show, but I don't know if I'm alone on this one, but watching that show makes me hungry.  Really, really hungry.  And not just, hey, maybe I'll sit down with the apple.  But, I'm talking about a row of Oreos and some milk to wash it down.  I need Oreos in order to watch people lose weight.  Twisted.  I don't get it.  So, I'm blaming the show on my plateau this past month.