Friday, March 21, 2003

Ah ha!

It's happening! It's really happening. She's starting to sound out street signs. When making picutres, she'll try to label them or write what they're about or who they are for. It's actually happening! Add to that her great job learning to play chess, and doing math in her head, well, she's a smart cookie when she wants to be.

Tonight she's sharing the sleeper sofa with Nicholas since Katherine is in the extra double in the bedroom here in the hotel suite. The first couple nights, there was a lot of bickering, kicking, rolling into each other. But it seems that she and Nicholas will be a better match.

Sickies hit again

Like this move isn't stressful enough, living in a hotel, eating restaurant food, sleeping in strange beds and cribs, a couple days ago he lost his dinner at Chili's. I guess I can be happy that while in the hotel someone else has to wash sheets and the carpet and the towels over and over again. He's taken it like a trouper though, and today is finally better on several days of crackers, pretzels and juice.

Who am I kidding, it's what he'd eat every other day if he had the choice :)

Chop chop

Grandpa thought Nicholas was getting too shaggy, so off they went for a boys trip to the barber. He's looking mighty cute now. Grandpa got his hair cut so that Nicholas could watch the whole process first and go through it himself without worry. Of course, I knew he'd do fabulous even without a guide, but they had a good time together. Grandpa even took him out after to get a couple new cars.

Last night he slept overnight at the grandparents home along with his siblings. I was told how he had a little bit of a hard time going to bed wanting mom and dad, but eventually it all worked out. After Katherine and Rebecca took care of him when he didn't want to sleep by sitting with him and looking through baby pictures, Katherine let him fall asleep in her bed. When it came time for Katherine to get to sleep, she decided that it was OK for Nicholas to stay there, and she'd just cozy up with him. How cute is that?

A couple days ago we went to the hotel pool. Nice and heated, with a great hot tub, we stuck some water wings on him, but before we knew it, he was paddling around the whole pool without any help. I figure it won't take too long in Manila before he's a true swimmer. He was very pleased with himself and kept saying "No hep, me 'im!"

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Moving on to a new stage

She's put on a brave face for the most part, but there are times when she breaks down, showing how sad she is to be leaving her school and her friends. And she gets worried that no one in Manila will like her or be able to speak to her. It's amazing how sensitive she really is, to -everything-. She can take a ribbing, but not as far as we think oftentimes. There is a very caring, gentle, compassionate nature to her that I don't ever want to quelch. This afternoon she found out our neighbor (5yo) wasn't feeling well, so both she and her sister headed inside and made him get well gifts which they promptly brought over.

She did really well at King. Her teacher seemed to enjoy having her, and I know that her principal, Mr. Shaw, will miss her. Her reading is excellent, her math is taking off (she's into multiplication now), and she's interested in learning about everything. Yesterday she was very pleased to finally beat her sister in chess. Oddly enough though, chess just isn't her game, as she hadn't realized she'd won and often has to be reminded that Rebecca is in check. Her phone skills are still greatly lacking, but we're working on them slowly.

A while ago the box (yes, just a box, not a boxspring or anything that fancy, when we bought it we were poor as church mice) under the mattress of her bed cracked badly. No one could put any amount of pressure on one corner as it would then collapse. Hmmm. So, finally, the box has been thrown out as has the frame. And the mattress is on the floor in her room. Next step, the mattress gets brought back to grandma's house for their trundle and for a couple nights, we'll either bring the futon mattress to the girls room, or we'll move Nicholas back to his toddler bed and give Katherine the full-sized... or the choice that everyone seems to like best is that Katherine and Rebecca share one twin. Why they think that's a good idea? No clue. But if it makes them happy, why not.

This morning we had a yard sale and she was really happy with that. The weather was pretty nice and all the kids played outside. Freeze tag, hide-n-seek. She's really good at keeping track of Jonathon, and she helped get him dressed this morning even while he complained the whole time. The only time she got in trouble was after they raked a big pile of leaves, she grabbed a few handfuls and stuffed them in Rebecca's underwear and pants. Ew, itchy.

Katherine is getting so big and tall now. She's almost a young lady. Of course, I suppose those top 2 teeth will finally have to fall out for that to happen! They've been ever so slightly wiggly for a long time now.

I'll let you know how she handles the flights, the stay in Hawaii and the transition to Manila.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

New Kids' pages

We're redesigning the kids' pages, so we can edit them through MoveableType, which we use for this index. This post makes those pages appear, so ignore this.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Jonathon's 18mo check-up

As I'd mentioned before, Jonathon is 18 months and went to the doctor's office last Friday. He weighed in at 24 pounds and measured 31.25 inches.

We arrived at 8:30 even though it was snowing (again), and checked in. Sat around. At 9, all the folks who'd been there before us were being seen. More people filtered in, and were called back. At 9:30 after this had happened again I asked why we were still waiting around and was told that the nurse was involved with an emergency that had come in around the same time we did, and would see us in 5-10 minutes. This is Kaiser, there isn't just one nurse, I have no idea why one of the others couldn't have squeezed us in. Thank goodness the waiting room has toys, and even a TV. Since we were there for 2 1/2 hours, I don't mind the kids watching SpongBob.

Anyway we were finally called back, and weirded out the nurses with Jonathon's cloth diaper (he was wearing a Kissaluv fitted with a Bumpy cover, nice and easy to put on and take off for exams, weights). Thankfully Ian had come and the other kids were with him, so Jonathon was the only one bored and opening drawers and playing with the sink in the exam room. The nurse came in and we discussed his food intake, speech and all the normal stuff. Nothing terribly exciting. He was amazingly patient and still while she used the stethoscope and otoscope and all the other scopes. Anyone who knows him though, knows that he remains very somber in uncertain situations, and that's exactly how he was. He was fascinated with that sink though. Kept trying to climb up on the rolling stool to turn the water on and tumbled off once half way up. The exam light was another favorite. Why they keep the lights really low down and have an easy switch, who knows!

We learned that with missing Jonathon's 15 month visit, we had to catch up on his vaccinations. He was stalwart through all four of them, it was truly amazing. He put all his siblings to shame. One annoying thing was that I asked the nurse if I could nurse him through them since I've heard and read that it can ease the sting (guess we didn't need that though), and she told me no since there was a risk of aspirating. I guess she didn't realize that an 18 month nurser does it lots more for comfort (which is what I was offering anyway) and my number of letdowns can be counted on one hand in a week.

He did great. We got a copy of his vaccination record for the move and I guess we're all set. Rebecca peed in a cup again since the last specimen came back with some irregularities and they wanted a recheck. Let's hope that's just nothing.

Have you ever wanted to strangle a company?

So, we need this release form to take the car out of country. Before this form can be drawn up and mailed to us, we have to register for automatic debit. To do this, we fill out a form and fax that and a voided check to the company. Easy enough. Did it on the 20th of February.

Oh, but of course it's not that easy. I e-mailed March 2nd to see how the process was moving along and received an e-mail back saying they couldn't do anything until the automatic debit was processed.

Hmm. OK, we sent that in 10 days ago from the message. I e-mailed back on the 3rd noting the previous e-mails with her saying she'd received our fax and was waiting for the debit form to be processed. Didn't get answer.

So today, the 4th, I called and explained the problem to customer service. I was sent to her voicemail. Ok, left a message. Called back and explained I wanted to talk to a real person, in particular the person my initial contact told me about. Apparently my main contact didn't know when she'd be off for maternity leave. OK, ask for person #2 and am told that she's not at her desk but I can leave her voicemail, get sent to #1s voicemail again. Leave an abrupt message saying I'll call back.

Half hour later, call back and finally get to talk to an actual person who might be able to help me. I explain the situation about sending this fax but finally learned that nothing is being processed yet. I'm told that once the fax is received it takes 24-48 hours to be processed before this division can do the paperwork. This is when I learn that the automatic debit form was faxed to a "secure" area of the building. A secure enough area apparently run by small molelike creatures because they aren't allowed to talk to the outside world. I cannot call them to get confirmation that they have received it and are working on it. I cannot e-mail them as they apparently don't have an address, and even if they did, they wouldn't reply. Ian re-faxed the form this morning. Did it get received? We'll never know.

So I asked her what else could be done and she said someone could walk it over. I asked if SHE could walk it over and I guess I stepped on toes there. I was clarifying what we needed to do and she rushed into the fax number. I asked if I could put her name on it and she said she supposed I could. I e-mailed Ian to have him re-fax it yet again directly to her.

SO. Here is where we stand. Supposedly she picked it up, walked it over to the "secure" part of the building and it will be processed in 24-48 hours. On Thursday I can call to see what's what. If nothing has happened yet again, I'm going to a supervisor. We leave in 3 weeks and I don't have time for this.

Saturday, March 1, 2003

Can we take the tickets and run?

Yesterday was a busy day, besides Jonathon's doctors appointment. We also had to have Rebecca pee in a cup again and that's -always- a treat!

So, we spent 2 1/2 hours at the peds office. The first hour was just sitting in the waiting room. But, we were the first apnt, you say. Why yes, we were. Oddly enough that didn't really count for much as we saw the room empty out, fill up, empty again, and still weren't called. Yeah, I complained.

Anyway, 2 1/2 hours later it's 11 a.m., we run to the house to pick up some papers for the afternoon. Leave, realize we've forgotten more papers, go back to house, hit the road again, get to my parents' house finally. Both boys conked out in the car so they go for short naps and Ian and I head to DC. Amazingly we find a ready parking spot. There's so much dark slush that Ian mistakes it for solid ground and sploosh goes his foot up to his cuff. OK, I couldn't help but chuckle. Get to the passport office, are told it's the the -other- passport office next door. Find it and after a few minutes of making our request are told that lone system that can complete it is down. We'll wait of course because this is what we'd designated the day for... getting this letter, going to the Philippine embassy and making our visa requests.

So we wait. We watch Rumsfeld on TV talking about the U.S. forces heading to the Philippines to help out with the terrorist groups working there. We wait more. A lady comes in with her diplomatic passport stuff and talks about renewing her tourist passports. I comment to Ian wondering why folks would need two passports. She turns and says "Well, if you get hyjacked, you don't want to turn over your dip." Hmm, good point. Not exactly something I want to think abut, being hyjacked, but I guess I should renew my tourist passport.

Anyhow, we wait more and finally they admit they have no idea how long it'll be and offers us other options... which entail Main State, couriers and three other steps. When Ian finally explains to her that this is our day to do this, that he's in class for the next two weeks followed by packout and adios, she says she'll see what she can do and 10 minutes later we have the letter. Well. OK then. Thanks.

So we high tail it to the Philippine Embassy which is about 4 blocks away and we're the 2nd people in line. Hand it all over and are told it'll be ready on Monday. It has to be picked up in person or by a courier with a release letter. ARG. We'll deal with that when we get to it :) We did learn that a Filipino tour is 7 years though (vs. our 2 years). Great if you're sent to DC or Italy. Crappy if you're sent to Iraq. I've always said to Ian that I can take anything for 2 years.

Heading back to the car, we stopped in at St. Matthews church on M Street. Too bad it's filled with scaffolding as it looks like it's just gorgeous. Stopped in at The Vitamin Shoppe... wow that place is just funky. Finally get to FSI where Ian heads to the travel office and I cross the hallway to the health unit and get HepB shot #2 and a polio shot. I'm proud to say I took them as well as my 18mo son. Those tickets are pretty tempting. Ian commented on our way back to the van that we could just wait head to the airport. It'd be a long 3 weeks.

Back to pick up the kids after they play out in the snow (glad I brought all their snow pants and boots!) and we go out to dinner with grandma to Silverado's.