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I’m Not Gonna Throw Away My Shot!

Days are counting down and we are on the move. This week we are wrapping up tasks. A big one has been getting our inoculations for this trip. I truly thought this would be pretty straight forward to plan and execute. Ha!

I wish, wish, wish I would started this one a couple of months ago. I found out in mid June that our insurance, which was ending on 30 June, actually does cover a lot of travel shots. Amazing as that isn’t usually the case. So, I was trying to wrangle the best schedule to get our shots in before our insurance ran out. The rest has been cash pay (ouch). IMG_2970That price tag smarts more for me than the pain of the shots, although, my sons will beg to differ.

We got about half of them in before paying out-of-pocket. Actually, cross your fingers for us as we are still awaiting the reimbursement from the insurance company after I submitted a 20+page claim on June 30th hours before our insurance ended at midnight. Please, please, please.

The other challenge has been the timing of all the shots. Japanese Encephalitis has one shot then, 28 days later, the booster. Each shot is $330. Gulp! You can do the math. It hurts my head too much.

Typhoid has one shot ($149) effective for two years or a series of four live-virus vaccine capsules ($40 per person with insurance) taken on an every other day, eight-day regiment, effective for five years. They have to be on an empty stomach that doesn’t allow any warm drinks (read NO coffee) and nothing to eat or drink for approximately two hours. Kelvin, Canyon and I figured out the way to go was to take the capsule at 5am and go back to sleep. Oakley had the shot and was none too pleased to be singled out for that one.

Then the Hepatitis series for Kelvin and I, which runs about $159 but, FREE with insurance. When I lived in Hong Kong in the 90s I had a series of shots but, I cannot (shockingly) find the paperwork on those details. Bummer for me as I got to have some of them again. The kids (and now all kids) have the Hepatitis shots as part of their normal childhood regiment so, no extra bargaining there. And it’s covered by their insurance. Yay!

Yellow Fever, about $159 a shot, is also a live-virus shot which requires someone specially trained to administer. Also, the batches here in Portland, Oregon would sell out in a day so, you had to ‘reserve’ your doses. Never knew, we had such a hot market for real estate and Yellow Fever vaccines.

Figuring out where to get them administered was hard. That became tricky as we ended going through Walgreens Pharmacy to get them all sorted. Other places charged a lot to administer (upwards of a $25 per shot fee) and an in office fee per person which could be just $200 for us to walk in the door.IMG_3024

These stand alone places (and even one connected to Providence Hospitals) refused to bill insurance even after I had arranged a conference call with my insurance (BCBS), them and myself on the line. They stated that most insurances don’t pay and I had my insurance company telling them they would if they would just bill for it. They refused. My last conversation with that medical office did not highlight my best, adult problem solving conversational skills. Sometimes you meet people who are very regimented and rigid (what’s that, Kelvin? You know someone like that?).

Also, when you vaccinate young kids you need written (read not phoned in or electronic) prescriptions for these shots so, had to go to pediatricians office to pickup or have them post them to us. Those pediatricians frequently can’t administer the shots as they don’t have them in-house and are somewhat reluctant to order them in as the transport of live-virus stuff gets tricky.

I had my patience tested many a times and collectively, I likely spent about eight hours on calls and research to find the right place. Then came the waiting times at Walgreens. We knew that store’s employee codes and all the aisles after three visits and approximately six hours being there. IMG_3025The folks there were mostly great but, with each day new people had to be told what we were doing and I was beginning to feel like I was in a Groundhog Day movie.

We would have an ‘appointment’ to get our shot. This was a loose term I realize and often we waited up to two hours to get everything written up, processed, paid for and administered. Kelvin and I broke all our screen time and sugar rules to get it done. Our sensory kids were nervous and at times it was achingly painful to have to negotiate with a screaming, sweating eight year old. I may apply for SWAT tactical hostage negotiation work later in life.

So, we are basically set in that department. One more thing moved to the DONE column. I know you can’t really put a price on avoiding a life threatening diseases. My advice to anyone out there thinking of traveling like we are. Sort this earlier as it takes longer than you think, you might get some of it covered by your insurance and budget for it. It is not cheap. And I am pretty sure this isn’t covered in any healthcare coverage being bargained over in DC.

 

 

 

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World-schooling, A Whole New Responsibility

One hundred and seven days to lift off and all the tasks are piling up and colliding. Many of them taking up all the extra space in my head between all the responsibilities of now..such as work, getting kids to and from school, food, shelter, etc. 

So, the big worry on my mind today is our kids eduction. This might be the biggest fear for me about this travel (so far!). IMG_1700I have never seen ourselves as people who home school their kids. We have always sought out the appropriate education philosophy for our boys and embraced our school as they plan for our kids.

The Montessori approach has worked really well for us, especially with the sensory challenges we have had along the way. We love the student led teaching style, how students learn concepts from accessing working materials, free movement around the classroom, small group or individual instruction and independent follow-up.

The ‘going out’ philosophy of approaching research in the world is an aspect we really love .In this Going Out activity, the kids are encouragejan-mellstrom-242087d to research and seek out a way to investigate their question. The steps to find out the answer to their question has the child find out the place where one would learn about that interest.
For example, one would go to an aquarium to learn about the Pacific Octopus (this was one of Canyon’s interests). The kids (usually two or three at the most) have to figure out how much it costs to go, they have to call the place to see what the hours are (no internet searches!), who could help them when they get there, what are the directions to get there and so on. Then they write out the questions they have to ask and how they will write down what they learn. At the end of their outing they report back to the class what they learned.

We are looking to apply this approach as we maneuver the world. However, I get scared that we won’t be able to keep them on task with their math, reading and writing skills. roman-mager-59976I realize how much we depend on our schools to keep our kids ‘on track’ for their learning. It is their professional job! I am not a professionally trained teacher. Kelvin and I both have skills to share, like any parents but, the responsibility of being in charge of a year’s worth of eduction feels very daunting to me.

I don’t want to screw this up! We have met with our kid’s teachers and they are giving us some guidelines to help us as we go through this year. It also tells me that I don’t want to be in charge of this educational part for all of their education! I have always respected teachers and now I am particularly aware that I am a bit out of my depth. We also have plans to Skype in with the class about once a month to keep up connections as well as foster enthusiasm for learning and sharing.

People are very supportive in saying our boys will be fine. “No worries!” says a friend, “you’ll be learning so much on the road.” Okay but, I also don’t want them to be behind their learning levels when we return. Our kids teacher has given us some material to use as we go along. gaelle-marcel-8992We already started a practice of writing in a small journal at the dinner table after our meal where we each write a little bit about the day. Oakley will write one sentence and Canyon a couple. Kelvin and I also write and we all check each other’s work. We generally write down what we are grateful for that day. Noting small, notable things that happened that day.

We started this journaling exercise last October and are not doing this daily due to the crazy schedule of sports, work and occupational therapy being some of the many things that rearrange our schedule every day but, we get some practice in. We plan on doing this every day on the road. Hopefully, this will help all of our writing skills and create a wonderful journal of our experiences in the world.

If you are following this please let us know what you think, what you would do and how you would caretake your childrens’ education.

 

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Perfectionism and Sensory Overload

Every day closer to our departure, I am getting more excited and, honestly, a bit more freaked out. Reading other travel blogs excites me and then sets a new bar of ‘I wonder if we could do that’ to ‘Should we do that’ to ‘Are we supposed to do that?’  Trying to avoid the quesitons in my head that have a should, ought or must in them. Trying to reword them into maybes and that could be interesting. I have a lot of articles on my reading list tab and an other dozen in open windows on each of my devices. I have to consciously remind myself to read and enjoy and not read and add to my FOMO (fear of missing out) list.john-mark-arnold-42898

Trying to be careful to avoid perfectionism, I have to dig deep and ask myself what choices would mean in the long run and avoid that biggest annoying, perfectionism question ‘What would other people think’. That is a big one that we all grapple with and sometimes succeed in out running. I reach to Brene’ Brown’s work on vulnerability and perfectionism and it helps me ask myself reasonable and helpful questions. I am striving to be more internally motivated rather than externally so.

Overall, my husband and I have had a lot of positive feedback to our travel plan. Yet, this is a plunge into the unknown, for us as it is for most folks. We can read a lot about what travel is like for families in Laos but, what will that really be like for our family. We have two boys with sensory struggles so, all our parenting life has been learning how to navigate seemingly routine situations with a new eye on how this will play out for our boys, each of which has a different threshold for specific sensory input and output.

Personally, I’ve encountered some narrow-minded feedback on what our kids are dealing with, from ‘Is that (Sensory Processing Disorder ) even really a thing?’ to the equally unhelpful ‘You are over reacting and no wonder it effects your kids’. With a deep breath and shake of my shoulders, I move on.

Our boys are contemplating thoughtful questions about travel that one with experience in clemente-ruiz-abenza-134561leaving the country might overlook. I love the simplicity of their queries about ‘Are bathrooms available where we are going?’, ‘What is the likelihood shark attacks in Australia?’ to the far-reaching of ‘What if I miss my friends?’ and ‘Where will we sleep?’

Kelvin and I are both seeking solace in knowing we can’t answer all the questions and many not until we get to where we are going and that is okay. We can find basic answers to help the curiosity but, we are realizing that we are teaching our kids that predictability is not necessary and is, in fact, a wild goose chase. We are learning to contemplate that some steps have to be taken with a leap of faith and that it will all turn out the best it can for the situation we find ourselves in.

This doesn’t mean we are not working to soothe and calm each other in the face of the unknown but, we are going to work to avoid exacting answers that may change.kristopher-roller-188180 All while understanding that trying to make other’s happy with our choices doesn’t always make us happy and ultimately we can’t control others opinions anyway.

Big lungful of air here. We are all going to be okay.

So, sensory awareness and perfectionism shake off. These are things to contemplate as we move closer to our departure.

 

 

 

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