The cost of a loss

Has anyone out there had the pleasure of dealing with medical insurance drama before? If so---you might totally feel me on this post. And if not, you are incredibly lucky and maybe you should read this anyway in case you are ever in a similar situation. I feel like SOMEONE has to learn something from this horrible journey we've been on since April and I'll gladly share my story in the name of helping someone else beat the bad guys and come out on top. Where to begin? This might get long. And maybe a little sad.

Well, first of all, Nate and I have always felt very strongly about always having medical insurance no matter how expensive or inconvenient it may be. It's just not worth the risk of having a catastrophic accident wipe us clean of our savings because we didn't opt to pay for a policy, assuming that since we are healthy we don't need insurance. That's just our mindset and I know not everyone thinks like us, but even after all of this ridiculous drama with insurance I still vow to always carry a policy no matter what.

Earlier this year, when I decided to change companies with my job, I knew that there would be a gap from the time I left my old company in March to the time when my new company would qualify me for benefits in July. We were planning on Nate carrying all of the benefits for our family when he began his new job, and that would get us insurance by June 1---so we still had a good few months when we needed to patch in a policy for our family.

Enter the confusing world of an internet 'self' policy, not provided by an employer! We found Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield online and figured it would work out just fine for those few months, although the premiums weren't cheap at all (about $300 per month for our family) and the deductible was high ($5,000). We knew it would cover any major catastrophe past the 5k mark and it was really the best we could do without employer coverage. The one catch was that it did not include maternity coverage---something we knew way back in February when we selected the policy. But we were not planning to expand our family or 'try' to get pregnant and I personally figured that if I did happen to get pregnant in those few months before Nate's employer kicked in, it would only be one or two office visits before his coverage, which we could handle if we were blessed enough to be in that position.

And then, of course, I got my surprise BFP at the end of March and immediately called the OB's financial office to figure out how much one office visit and one ultrasound would cost us out of pocket. I had calculated that I'd only have to see her with Anthem for those two early appointments, and then by the time I hit 14 weeks we'd have Nate's policy and I'd be due for regular maternity visits and they'd all be covered. If I had only known then what was about to unfold.

If you've been reading my blog since April you know that during that 'out of pocket' ultrasound at 9 weeks we found out the worst news possible. I remember saying to Nate, while we waited for the doctor to come into that wretched ultrasound room, 'What if they want me to have a D&C? That is going to be SO expensive and not covered by this stupid policy!' He reassured me that we'd figure it out and my health was most important but I couldn't help but wonder if maybe somehow I could postpone any interventions at all until June 1, when Nate's policy would cover the surgery. I was just praying to pass the baby naturally, fully, and without the need of any help from my OB. But those prayers were definitely not answered and we began a horrible journey full of many complications.

I remember the day before I went in to finally get the Cytotec placed, to force my body to begin the bleeding it refused to do on it's own. I spoke with our insurance company on the phone and discovered that although our policy did not include maternity coverage, lucky for me it DID include 'pregnancy complications' for coverage. I really felt that God had to be making this happen for us, because there was no way for us to have known that we'd need this little clause in our policy more than ever.

Of course it's never that easy. I had a total of 4 more ultrasounds, medication placement that didn't work, multiple blood draws, a particularly nasty ER visit and hospital stay, then switched to a different OB and finally got the surgery I should have gotten from the beginning. If you are like me, you just read that last sentence and started hearing 'CHA-CHING' in your head as you pictured the enormous bills to follow such a complex course of care. But hey, lucky for me my policy covered 'pregnancy complications,' right? Ha.

As the bills started rolling in, we noticed that not one dime was covered by Anthem. And the grand total for the entire nightmare? Brace yourselves: $17,000.


I knew in my heart that we should not be responsible for these bills. I knew that our policy clearly stated they cover miscarriage, and 'therapeutic abortions' (don't even get me started on this term for a D&C). I had the policy itself circled, highlighted, and practically memorized. And so I began to call Anthem at least twice per week for months. Every time I spoke to a rep, I tried my hardest to ask questions and get answers. And every time I felt like I was banging my head into a wall. They kept telling me that the diagnosis code used by my doctors was not covered under my policy. They would not TELL me what the freaking code was, so I had to talk to my OB's office a few times to figure it out, and after discovering that it was 'missed abortion' I felt more disgusted than ever. I mean, really? The 'A-word?' Talk about a shock to my heart--as if I purposely chose to lose this baby.

I did more research and discovered that there is NOT a code for 'miscarriage' as that isn't the technical medical term. The doctor's offices were using the correct code, then (as sad as the word was to me)----but my insurance still wasn't budging. There were even more phone calls to them, including one time when I couldn't take it anymore and just burst into tears saying something about 'Please stop treating me like I'm a number or a code---I just lost a baby should not be paying for thousands of dollars in bills, according to your stupid policy!' Not my finest moment but there just aren't words to describe the sadness and stress of paying hard-earned money for the loss of a child. It's one thing to pay for the birth of a child. But it's quite another to come home empty handed, with a broken heart, and more bills than I could have imagined.

There were definitely times during this struggle with Anthem when I really felt like giving up because I just wanted to move on with my life. Most all of the doctor's offices and hospitals had 'self pay' policies for patients who don't have insurance, and if mine wasn't paying a dime I could probably qualify for those discounts (which were only about 25% at the most, by the way). So we figured that if Anthem really didn't pay we were looking at about $13,000 or so out of our pockets. Technically we could pay this giant sum but only because we've been working so hard for the past four years to save up a 'down payment fund' for our first home. I realize that not everyone would be able to even fathom paying this amount of money and it might set some families back by years. Of course I'm extremely grateful for our financial situation, but that money was not supposed to go towards a loss of a baby. Especially not when our policy clearly stated, in black and white, that they'd have our backs in this case. And isn't this type of 'catastrophe' exactly why we wanted medical insurance? To cover us during a horrible, unplanned event? The more I thought about that idea, the more angry I got with Anthem and I refused to go down without a major fight.

I sat down and created a huge Excel spreadsheet with every single claim listed, so that I could keep track of everything. I documented every single call I made to Anthem and the doctor's billing offices. I asked to speak to supervisors and I tried to remain calm. I had already written a formal 'grievance letter' back in May, after one of my calls to Anthem's fabulous customer service department lead me to believe that would be the only way I could dispute my bills. I didn't really think too much about this letter, since I thought it would take months of ambiguous decisions made by faceless people behind the scenes. I really preferred to speak to someone in person about this issue because I believed that would be my way to convince them all that I was right. But finally, I asked my husband to take over calling Anthem for me because I could no longer mentally handle the stress of dealing with them. He agreed when he saw I was teetering on the verge of yet another breakdown.

And two things happened: First, we got a letter in the mail stating that my grievance letter had been reviewed by a committee and they thanked me for bringing my case to their attention (gee, three months after I wrote the darn thing). They said that they were reversing their decision to reject my claims, and agreed that everything should be covered under their policy. HALLE-freaking-LUJAH!!! And secondly, my husband can be a badass when we wants. When he called Anthem for his first time, he simply told the lady that he would not get off the phone until she personally figured out how to fix this problem, since she admitted that she was confused about why everything was being rejected. Turns out that our policy is basically the only one they have that covers pregnancy complications. Nearly every other policy does not cover them and therefore the computer automatically rejected my claims, because almost all of the time they don't cover 'missed abortions'. And it only took four months for them to figure that out, you guys. Nobody in the dozens of calls I had made before bothered to really look at the problem and figure out they needed to manually override the computer system. It wasn't the doctor's office using the wrong code---it was the insurance company not recognizing a correct code.

Even though we still have a 5k deductible to hit before Anthem really does pay for claims, it's amazing to me how each bill has been drastically reduced because we now have insurance 'covering' the claims. For instance, the total bill for the ER visit and brief hospital stay was almost $7,000 before insurance. And after the bills were 'adjusted' for allowable claims? Only $2,200 will be paid by us, going towards our deductible. Isn't that just insane? That doesn't mean that our insurance paid the difference (because they didn't pay any part of it), but the hospital just had to eat the rest of the total cost that nobody is paying. I could go on and on about how messed up insurance coverage is in America today but this is already ridonkulously long.

And according to my most recent calculations, after everything has been re-processed, I think we will pay the deductible and that is about it. We'll still need to recover financially from this big hit on our savings but nothing like what it could have been if we didn't fight for our coverage. Although I really considered giving up the fight just to move away from the pain much more quickly, I'm so glad we stuck by our guns. And I'm so glad my grievance letter worked---it must have been the two glasses of wine I downed while typing it. Oh, and of course my heroic husband's phone call didn't hurt, either.

If you made it through this whole post, I commend you. I guess I just had a lot of pent up thoughts and stories about this process. And I just want you to know that if you are banging your head against a wall with your insurance company you are not alone. But stay strong, go through whatever formal processes they suggest for a grievance, and keep meticulous records of all bills and all interactions on the phone.

This whole craptastic situation is yet another reason why I'd consider moving to Canada, if it weren't for the pesky fact that it's even further north than Milwaukee (and therefore colder, and past my limit of frigid weather). Not only do my lovely Canadian friends get a whole year of paid maternity leave, but they also wouldn't be paying a dime for this stupid fiasco. Love ya girls, but SO jealous right now.

Suffering a miscarriage is bad enough for anyone and I'd never wish it on my worst enemy. Throw a little financial drama into the emotional mix and you have a recipe for a serious breakdown. Just ask Nate---he's seen the effects first hand and it wasn't pretty. But I suppose it taught us a lesson in persistence and if we are EVER in this type of situation again, I'm having Nate make all of the calls from day one:)

7 meme

Because I have become such a lazy blogger (ie one who posts so infrequently it's amazing I still have readers), I usually don't partake in any 'tagged' posts or any giveaways. But when Leah tagged me in her 7 meme post, I was intrigued and thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane, remembering times when I actually did post a lot. I guess it will be 4 years of blogging this November----so 606 posts later and I should really be able to complete this tagged post with no problem, right?

What this is about:
To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

1) Blogger is nominated to take part
2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
- Your most beautiful post
– Your most popular post
– Your most controversial post
– Your most helpful post
– A post whose success surprised you
– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved
– The post that you are most proud of

3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.
4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers
5) And so it goes on!
6) The site Trip Base is sharing the best posts from participating bloggers on their blog and everyday on Facebook and Twitter at #My7Links

My most beautiful post:
Probably this one---I wrote it to Truman on the last day of my maternity leave. It still sort of makes me want to cry just thinking about how emotional my return to work was for me. Being on the other side of the whole transition, knowing that we are both thriving with our current work/home balance, I am much more at peace now. But it was still a very special post to me.

My most popular post:
I got the most number of comments on this post, when Nate posted Truman's birth announcement for me --116 comments from happy readers who followed my dramatic labor and delivery and wanted to hear the outcome!

But a close second was the exact opposite of that happy post---the one where I announced our pregnancy loss got 112 comments. I really love that I have been 'virtually' supported through the ups and the downs of my life on this blog.

My most controversial post:
Honestly, I am not the most controversial blogger. I tend to stay pretty neutral on the 'hot topics' and choose my words very carefully if I DO think what I'm saying will ruffle feathers. I guess I'm just a big pansy that way:) I think that when I posted about The Best Birth topic, I was most concerned that it could be too controversial for some and I might get some opposite opinions posted in the comments. Lucky for me, my readers tend to be pretty nice to me even if they disagree with my statements (now, watch---this will jinx it and I'll get hate emails)

My most helpful post:
Hmmm, probably my posts about pumping as a working mom, found here in part 1 and part 2. I think I probably get the most 'thank you for posting this information' emails from readers about this topic so it must help someone out there.

Or maybe the ones I've written about cloth diapering, and how it works for our family. Those tend to be linked to quite often, too.

Wait, can I choose a third? Apparently I consider myself a very helpful blogger:) This post about my DIY upholstered headboard gets a huge amount of hits according to Google Analytics, which is sort of funny because it's so old that the images are all blurry now.

A post whose success surprised me:
Maybe the post about Truman being a garden gnome for Halloween? I didn't really think everyone would like it as much as I did, but apparently it was a big hit.

The post you feel didn't get the attention it deserved:
I never really thought about it before, but I guess any post that gets less than 10 comments seems like it wasn't really popular to me. So maybe Truman's 12 month post, since it only got 5 comments. But then again, I had just done two maybe three whole posts on his birthday party itself and then another 'one year' post to Truman so more than likely my readers had already commented multiple times about the fact Truman turned 12 months old:)12moclose

The post you are most proud of:

Just to be wild and stray from all of my mommy-posts, I'll go out on a limb and say that my post about running a full marathon has to be one of my proudest accomplishments.

Or maybe one of my anniversary posts, like this one for our second anniversary, when I get to remember how much fun we had at our wedding and how lucky I am to be married to Nate. I really like that second anni post, too, because I have the video of our actual vows embedded into it and I love hearing those words all over again.

so here are my five bloggers, although I know some of you might have already been tagged. Again, I'm lazy:)

Jenna at That Wife
E at Oh! Apostrophe
Erin at It's All Happening!
Molly at A Day In Mollywood
Mary at Girl Stand Still


Doo-dee-doo. Don't mind me. I've just been a bad blogger again and sort of dropped off the face of the earth for a bit, no? Let's skip the explanation (there is none) and apologies and get caught up, shall we?

So our family embarked on a very special journey last week. It was our first official family vacation and actually, the first 'real' vacation of any kind since Nate and I celebrated our first anniversary in San Diego back in 2008. Sickening. MUST make this whole 'real' vacation thing a habit somehow because it was mind-blowing-awesome.

I'm sure I could make the report about our trip very elaborate, taking up about 3 separate posts, with all sorts of details. But I'm not really feeling that type of thing right now, so I whittled down the 630 pictures I took from the trip down into about 35 pictures here. It sort of hurt my brain to choose the cream of the crop pictures, by the way. I'll also include some text and funny stories and tips on traveling with a toddler, too, just to go above and beyond a picture dump. Aren't you proud of me? :)

The deets: we flew out of Milwaukee on Wednesday, August 17 and returned home on Sunday, August 21, so that was 4 nights and 5 days away from home. We went to Fort Myers, Florida, and stayed at The Pink Shell Resort with our buddies, The Millers. They have an adorable child I've mentioned many times on this blog named Tilly and seriously, she and Truman together are almost too much cuteness for my heart to handle. At just 3.5 months his elder, Tilly really did capture Truman's heart because he is still talking about 'Til-Til' and requesting to see pictures of the 'poo', which of course means 'pool'. Is there anything better than two adorable children, with four fun adults, playing in the sun/sand/pool without a care in the world? Well, besides trying to get said toddlers to sleep in foreign and weird cribs in a totally different environment---that put a damper on the whole 'carefree' thing.

We arrived to the resort before the Millers and we just HAD to check out the pool immediately! This is one of the three pools, and possibly Truman's favorite. Zero entry, tons of fountains, and made of salt water. Amazing.

Um, the fake palm trees even sprouted water. In heaven. And trying really hard to be in SOME pictures during this trip since I'm normally so bad at remembering to step in front of the lens.

Our little beach bum. All grown up and loving the life in Florida.

My boys.

We packed a cheap pair of water wings with us but were skeptical they would work, since they are for kids over 3 years old. But seriously, these things are both adorable and totally helpful in keeping a heavy toddler a float in water that isn't zero entry.

On vacation = lots of ice cream. This is my new favorite Truman picture of all times. And yes, I know that is a bold statement.

Thursday morning, the children discovered the sliding doors to our balcony. And also, note the fun pajamas by both.

The dads went off to golf (surprise) so Hannah and I were on baby duty. We hit the beach and then pools over, and over again from about 8 am until 11 am. Then it was time for lunch and naps. Really, this morning routine was super easy and amazing and I miss it already. Why can't we always spend our mornings on the beach and at the pool??

Strutting his northern stuff.

Tilly became enthralled with putting sand on Truman's hat. He didn't seem to mind.

That afternoon after the men came home, we all went to Sanibel island to explore another beach.

There were a ridiculous amount of shells here, so many that it was almost painful to walk out into the ocean on them. But also beautiful.

Why does my little man look like a red head here? And also, how is it possible to get a tan when I slathered on SPF 55 multiple times per day on that precious skin?

Let's discuss the fact that Truman is 100% boy and would be happy if we allowed him to throw sand, shells, and all beach toys 24 hours per day. This is him telling me that 'MOM THIS IS SO AWESOME, WATCH ME THROW THIS SAND!!' before he let a handful go.

I remembered to get one of our whole family, too. Proud of myself. Also, I tan easily. My husband does not. End of story.

Thursday evening was the night the Millers made dinner for us all (we had a full kitchen in our two bedroom condo---highly recommended!). The children were particularly adorable out on the main balcony while dinner was being created. Also, I love evening light near the beach.

And then it was Friday morning! Truman pulled his usual 'let's wake up before the sun rises' stunt in Florida, but honestly----being up before sunrise when you can watch the sky turn colors over the ocean is WAY better than in Wisconsin. And this image of my boys eating breakfast and chatting in the wee hours of the morning makes me happy.

See? Sunrises are awesome.

Tilly is up and I force them to sit next to each other for a shot. Obviously they are thrilled.

The men went off to golf yet again, so Hannah and I did our new fave routine of beach/pool/lunch/naps. I wanted at least one sand-writing shot. This one fit the bill.

Oh and my little stud with rolled up pant legs, because this suit is impossibly long. He could totally pull off the man-pris but I prefer that he doesn't:)

Snack break with goldfish crackers. Did I mention that snack foods were god-sends during this entire trip?

I noticed this fun sign by the pool, leading to the beach. Please note the yellow sign, second from the bottom. We are a long way from home, no? Also, as noted on Facebook when I posted this picture, pay no mind to the fact they spelled Cincinnati incorrectly. Whoops!

Friday afternoon, when the dads were back and kids had napped, we all went to the pool for some family/friend fun. Except the wives requested that the husbands man the parenting detail while we enjoyed some 'us' time lounging in the sun. As expected, that lasted about .2 seconds as we followed the kids/husbands around and snapped pictures. This is my second favorite shot of the whole trip. Pure happiness.

And after a little family walk on the beach, I remembered to step in front of the camera again instead of behind it. Truman is very excited.

And Tilly is seriously the most hilarious toddler ever. She loved sunglasses and T's water wings. Very intense, this one.

After that, it was our turn to make dinner and the babes had to show off their bods a bit in just diapers. I just can't help myself---blackmail pictures, yes. Adorable? Double yes.

After dinner we went to the nearby pier and got ice cream, then walked around a bit. Truman was on a sugar high at this point, and I just love this shot of him and his daddy. Again, the evening light here is divine.


Note to self: since makeup is not really allowed on vacation, at least try to keep your hair from being totally wind-blown to avoid the crazy mommy look. But whatever, this is a cute picture anyway. Even though my jaw is basically dislocated here from Truman's body.

Sunset at the ocean is also magical, just like sunrise.

Saturday--our last full day together---the men decided to skip golf and hang with us all morning. Very good decision, if you ask me. They would have missed this adorable moment when both Tilly and Truman wanted to get up on the beach chairs. And of course, I scrambled to get my camera for this shot---oh so worth it, right?

That night we all went out to dinner and it was yummy and quite entertaining, with the children. For instance, Truman was very pleased with his appetizer of goldfish and wanted to show it off to all of his new-found girlfriends: the teenage waitresses.

And the only one of our whole crew. Don't we look vacation'd?

Sunday morning, waiting to go home at the airport. My men looking handsome as always.

And please note Truman's arm tan lines. And the gut. That is still there, for sure.

As far as the actual traveling part went, here is the scoop: one of my requirements for this trip was to find a location that would allow a direct flight down. After my last escapade with a 12 month-old Truman (hint if you aren't clicking the link or remembering the drama---it involved massive amounts of poop and an impossibly small airplane bathroom. And a lot of sweat), I knew that I could not mentally tolerate a layover of any kind. The less time in the air, with the least amount of stops the better, really. So a flight from Milwaukee into Fort Myers takes approximately 3 hours and although this was Truman's fifth round trip by plane, it was certainly the longest by far. I sort of freaked out while packing because I seriously could not comprehend how I was to entertain a 17 month old in a confined space for 3 whole hours. Also, I had images of those tiny bathrooms flash before my eyes and shudder at the thought.

My biggest advice for flying with a toddler (which is a million times different and likely harder than flights with kids under one year) is come with an endless bag of goodies. I had all sorts of fun snacks stashed away, plus a whole sippy of milk (no issues with security this time, unlike the many times I brought breast milk and fretted over the idea of needing to dump it out). Also, I went out and bought about 4 brand new Elmo books for Truman's delight mid-flight, and didn't reveal them before we were in the air for added excitement. We even bit the bullet and purchased a portable DVD player after much debate, and also bought about 4 DVDs (Elmo included, of course, and Nate picked Blue's Clues---not really sure why?). This DVD player can also be used in the car for future road trips, so that pretty much sold me on it's worth in our lives. And overall, both flights were fine with these tools for entertainment. On the trip home he was incredibly overtired and had simply had enough by the time we were descending, plus he refused to drink his milk so I'm sure his ears were killing him. We all survived just fine but let's just say I still don't anticipate us flying with Truman every month or anything crazy like that.

We also brought our own car seat, since our Sunshine Kids version does fold down and has a carrying bag. We used a tiny umbrella stroller for Truman in the airport and of course Nate had to bring his golf clubs. So if you are keeping track, not even including actual luggage we already had a heap of crap to lug around with us. Somehow we managed to each bring one 'small' carry on bag jammed with our clothes and all of Truman's gear, and then we each had a small personal bag to carry on as well. Mine was the diaper bag of goodies, of course, and basically we didn't have to pay to check anything except the golf clubs since car seats and strollers are gate checked for free. SCORE!

Oh, and we got our own rental car and installed our car seat in there for Truman, and the Millers also got their own car, too. The whole process of landing from the plane, getting luggage, finding the rental car, installing the seat, and driving to the resort seemed to take forever but it was still our best bet instead of doing a cab or something. Plus it was really nice to have cars there so we could explore the area a little bit and the boys could golf.

And there you have it---our first real vacation as a family. I hope we make this an annual event because it was much needed and completely worth all of the time we spent planning and prepping for it.

Seventeen Months

I'm ALMOST to the point when I can drop the monthly count on Truman's age and just settle for 'one and a half'. In fact, I was brave enough to say he is 'almost one and a half' the other day when a stranger asked. But of course, inside my head I was screaming 'SEVENTEEN MONTHS---HE'S ALMOST SEVENTEEN MONTHS'. It's hard to 'round up' and not feel like my baby is growing up too fast, you know? I don't even enjoy skipping ahead one month of his life but I guess at some point the yearly count should suffice.

If you are looking for us during the summer, you'll probably find us outside. Truman LOVES being outside and lately he wants to hunt for big trucks, city buses, large vans, and motorcycles. And don't even say the word 'train' to him or you will witness a freak out. When we hear a big bus go by us during a run or an errand, he immediately gets the widest eyes and points and says ''oooooooh!" Gotta love my boyish boy who loves transportation vehicles!

(we've been swimming SO much this month and I still can't get over his adorable suits. Getting ready for the Florida beaches next month!!)

(T at our favorite local pool's giant sand box)

The month of July made me realize that my son can be quite obsessive at times, on a one-track-mind for whatever he wants at that very moment. A few months ago he was literally obsessive about playing with our clock radios every morning. Then it was all about picking up sticks outside. For a while there he could not stay out of the kitchen, pretending to play with our pots and pans non-stop. But now all of those things are SO lame and we are onto bigger and better obsessions.

(speaking of obsessed, I cannot get over T in a baseball cap, polo shirt, and cargo khaki shorts. Something about little boys wearing preppy 'man' clothes makes me giddy)

(true dat)

Best thing in Truman's life #1: Elmo. More specifically, Elmo videos on You Tube. And even more specifically than that? The video of Elmo and India Aire singing the ABC's. Seriously, this is my biggest parenting tip of the decade (for the moment, at least)---during any tantrum, if I ask Truman to watch Elmo with me, he immediately stops his wailing, starts to grin through his tears and says MELMO!!!! I mean, the video has 27 million views, so I'm pretty sure I'm not the only parent inviting Elmo and India to be a part of our parenting team right now. I think we might have watched it close to 100 times since Elmo was discovered by Truman about 2 weeks ago. Ridiculous, right?

(T watching his beloved India and Elmo, and also loving himself in the iPhone. This kid cracks me up to no end!!!)

Best thing in Truman's life #2: Garden gnomes. No, the irony is not lost on me for this one, since I did dress him up as a gnome for his first Halloween. Let us remember the amazingness for a second, shall we?
Smiling, aren't you?

So anyway, my mother-in-law bought a garden gnome for Truman to 'hide' in different spots of her yard and flower garden. He runs around the yard with his hands up as if to ask, 'where in the heck did I put that guy?' When he finds the gnome, he'll immediately put his hand up to cover his mouth and fake laugh loudly, then point at the gnome with a proud finger. This game can continue for hours if you are up for the challenge. The little unassuming gnome is only made of hard plastic but the daily, strenuous, physical demands placed on his tiny legs by mister T just became too much. With every new 'hiding' spot came another sudden slam onto the ground. A few times he was strategically placed in the middle of the driveway and his poor plastic shoes couldn't take the pressure anymore. Little gnome became a bilateral amputee so many times that even super glue would not mend his broken body anymore. And so, the foam platform emerged which Truman finds incredibly hilarious. The gnome's broken legs are basically jammed into a foam pad---how can you not laugh at that? Also, we got a second, more stable gnome to go along with our disabled first. Both of these gnomes are like gold to Truman as he constantly requests to go outside and play with the 'no'.

(his disabled gnome on a platform)

As far as communication goes, Truman's speech has exploded this month. I counted 25 words he can say, although a lot of them are only distinguishable by me or Nate at this point. I mean, duh---of course 'rah rah' means 'frog', right? :)

(trying to get him to show off his vocab, but my bad---I mentioned an item outside and then it was game over.)

Although Lori constantly assures us that Truman nearly eats her out of house and home every day he is there, we are certainly struggling to get anything past that cute little mouth of his besides granola bars, fruit snacks, and crackers. He'll down milk like it's his job but getting something nutritious in him isn't quite as easy. The Pediatrician did say that his calorie consumption will probably slow down now and not to worry if he won't sit still long enough to eat dinner with us anymore. I mean, how dare we try to keep Truman from exploring the whole house and great outdoors by such a LAME, peaceful dinner? I just hope he doesn't actually turn into a fruit snack with the sheer number of them entering his digestive system. But you have to pick your battles and this is not one I'm choosing at the moment since he's still growing like a weed and eating well at daycare. He's in all 24 month or 2T clothes and I'm guessing he might be about 26-27 pounds or so. Mostly he seems like he's grown inches since his 15 month appointment, but I guess we'll see at his 18 month visit. I think our boy will be tall. Shocker!

(speaking of daycare, T and buddy Henry at the zoo. Tell me that toddlers hugging isn't the cutest thing ever!)

Oh, and he's trying to feed himself now. It's hilarious and usually semi-successful. That is, until I let him use a huge adult-spoon with jello. Then he got a little mixed up:)

I don't know if it's the summer heat, or our extremely busy and 'purposeful' days around here, but Truman has been sleeping a lot better lately. Well, his naps are freaking amazing and most days he'll sleep in until 6 or later, so that is a success for us, too. He has been consistently napping for 3 hours or more every day at home with me now and it's freaking fantastic to get that time to recharge my own batteries, too. We've discovered that if we hold him off until 10 or even 11 for the nap it goes much better. Also, if we keep his bedtime to the 7-7:30pm range, he really sleeps a lot longer in the mornings. A few nights we let him stay up way too long until almost 9 pm and we really regretted it at 4:30 am when he was ready to start all over again. Lesson learned, I suppose. Also, a month without a new tooth was a pretty sweet break for us in the sleep department, too.

(and just look at all of those teeth!)

(me and my boy at the zoo)

Truman is definitely a full blown toddler now, full of opinions and the need for instant gratification. If I try to redirect him away from something he has decided he NEEDS to do right that second, he will definitely freak out and let me know that my authority is not appreciated. But honestly, for the most part, Truman is still incredibly laid back, happy, and dare I say it....EASY. I mean, as easy as a 17 monther can get, I guess. I was chatting with friends the other day, talking about the frustrations of raising a toddler. I sometimes forget how good I really have it with Truman's temperament because I can honestly say that I've never had a 'lose my mind' moment with T. Sure, I've been frustrated when he won't calm down or throws a little fit over something insignificant. But thankfully I can usually distract him quickly and get him back to his happy ways before it wears too much on my sanity. Trust me when I say I know I'm extremely blessed to have such a happy child and I pray that he stays this way forever. Who knows, maybe his teenage years will be our payback for a relatively simple toddlerhood?

(his first Dum Dum sucker and I chose the blueberry flavor. Silly mommy!!)

He really isn't naughty too often, but he does have this new trick: he'll put his fingers in both ears while I'm talking, pretending not to hear me. Hilarious or scary? You decide.

Remembering back to Henry's puppy days, we would die laughing from his nightly 'puppy attacks' when he'd just run around the house like a mad man, trying to get rid of all the remaining energy before passing out for the night. I swear that Truman has 'baby attacks' sometimes---he gets totally wound up for no reason. Well, usually it has to do with his main man, Raffi, and beloved Henry. But sometimes, when the mood hits him just right, he is out-of-his-mind crazy and we love it. Observe:

Pepaw (ie Truman's great-grandpa and my regular-grandpa) came for a quick visit this month and it just reiterated how loving Truman can be to 'strangers'. Sure, he's met Pepaw before but he warmed right up to him as if it were no big deal to play with someone he's only seen a few times in his life. I just love this shot of the two extremes of our four generations:

So that is my babe at 17 (ALMOST ONE AND A HALF YEARS!) months. Again, it's definitely my favorite age yet:)

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