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May 31, 2006

Sleepy Afternoon


How perfect is it then to fall asleep on a fine May afternoon, in the comfort of one's own recliner, lulled to sleep by the buzz of early summer insects, the whispers of a hot, gentle wind, and the voice of a loved one reading from a tome you appreciate exclusively for its rhythm and melody?

Quite perfect, indeed.

For those interested, I am currently reading Geraldine Brooks' latest, entitled March, to Adelaide each afternoon as we ease into out of our Fitting-In Period and move into the comfort and steady reliability of our Togetherness Period. I'm enjoying the novel immensely, and recommend it wholeheartedly to Civil War and Transcendentialist fantics alike, lovers of Little Women and Cold Mountain, or simply those looking for an entertaining summertime read ...

May 29, 2006

Health Update (Whoop! Whoop!)

Just a quick entry, Toadsland Readers ...

For insurance reasons (or lack thereof), Joel decided not to be actually tested for Pertussis, but to take prophylactic antibiotics, which will cover him if he indeed has Pertussis and keep him from being infectious. On Friday, our family received the dreaded call from the South Dakota state health department, belatedly warning us that we'd been exposed. Considering that the Pertussis exposure was known to the Vermillion school district on Monday, and that the crucial window for Pertussis treatment is the first week of infection: Way to go, South Dakota state health department! Still, Saturday, following the health department's advice, Aimee & Adelaide began taking prophylactic antibiotics, despite being free of symptoms.

Today, Aimee & Adelaide are feeling sensational, and have determined that a) the antibiotics and/or vaccinations (in Aimee's case) are keeping the whooping cough away, and/or b) Joel might just have the viral head-to-chest cold that Aimee & Adelaide had a couple of weeks ago, and/or c) we are operating under a gypsy curse.

But, since a picture is worth a thousand words, be reassured Toadsland.

No Pertussis Here (knock wood)!

May 26, 2006


To say that I am a fan of infectious disease is perhaps an overstatement. Still, I’ve had a healthy interest in the viral, bacterial, and fungal co-habitation with the human species since high school. What could be more fascinating than learning about the intricacy of infestations and the body’s immune response? To me, reading a microbiology chapter on Vibrio cholerae is like jumping under the covers with a flashlight and delving into an elaborate science fiction tale of an elite battalion of soldiers defending their home turf against the tiny, little green space invaders. For my Theatre Arts undergraduate thesis effort, I penned nearly fifty pages on how Shakespeare’s early writing was impacted by a rash of Black Death in London. One of my favorite annual reads is Connie Willis’ Domesday Book, a time traveling jaunt whose protagonist finds herself in medieval, rural England in 1348, the year that the bubonic plague arrived on the Isles. And I’m sure you can easily envision my shining, eager face at my infectious disease lectures during nursing school …

Reality has a way of unceremoniously kicking over the sets and scattering the props of our fantasies, however, and confronting a real disease outbreak among my friends and family has proved to be a little less fun. My fantasies were built behind a protective wall of effective antibiotics and vaccinations. These days, those walls seem poorly-maintained at best, and of course having my first child throws open the gates to Fear in many new and exciting forms.

Just as rehearsals for the latest VCT production began in earnest, we learned that one of our cast members has developed Bordetella pertussis, or Whooping Cough. Rehearsal was canceled yesterday after a second actor tested positive. Pertussis is a severe (but generally not lethal) respiratory infection that causes an incapacitating cough that lasts for weeks to months after the body is free of the bacteria. Once the paroxysmal cough sets in, antibiotics have no effect on the disease progression as your bodies lung tissue slowly knits back together.

All of this is supposed to be moot, however, as we’ve had an effective vaccine since 1926. An apocalyptic mood has settled over the field of infectious disease in recent years as more and more bacteria have defeated our standard (and many brand-new) pharmementarium of antibiotics. The gloom has deepened somewhat as a few bugs have, for unknown reasons, been able to overcome our vaccines. Pertussis is one of those bugs, and it’s already left its mark on the Miron family. Joel’s sister, Phoebe was struck with the Whoop last fall, and coughed until she vomited for months.

And now this morning Joel has arisen with a runny nose and a sore throat. The initial stage of Pertussis (the catarrhal stage) resembles a normal cold, so our suspicion is high. He’s called in sick for his work at the Vermillion clinic, and scheduled an appointment for this afternoon, wherein he hopes to get a culture and maybe some prophylactic antibiotics. And maybe some extra pills for Adelaide who, because of a freak failure of refrigeration, wasn’t able to receive her first shot of pertussis vaccine at her two-month check up.

Knowledge can perhaps bar the door against fear, so we’re striving to keep our relationship with infectious disease as academic as possible. Joel looked up the antibiotic he’s hoping to get this afternoon (500 mg of azithromycin) and we’ve both read through the government fact sheets and what little we can glean from our class notes and textbooks. Flimsy ephemera piled against the door.

May 24, 2006

Head Control

Adelaide impressed us all yesterday at her two-month appointment (or, in the early childhood vernacular, eight weeks, four days, and 16 hours old). Namely, when her physician inquired as to whether or not Adelaide liked her “tummy time,” I answered, “Well, like is perhaps not the best word, but …” But despite all of her protesting, when we positioned Adelaide on her stomach, she swept everyone away as she promptly raised her head and neck, performed an upper-body push-up with her arms and began to scoot herself away from our probing hands. Clever girl!

Head Control

For those interested, here are her two-month statistics:

She weighed in at 11 pounds, 5 ounces (75th percentile).
She measured 23 inches long (75th percentile).
And that noggin just keeps on growing, measuring a whopping 16 inches (90th percentile)!

May 20, 2006

Sleeping Babe

All a-bed, all a-snooze

In contrast to my previous posting, last night Adelaide slept through the night (according to all of our How-to-Baby Books, "sleeping through the night" is defined as five consecutive hours of sleep). She slept soundly from about 11:00 P.M. to 4:00 A.M. How did two novice parents manage this feat at Adelaide's tender age of 9 weeks? After the three of us enjoyed an evening of conviviality at the Millers', Adelaide promptly fell asleep on the car trip home, and Joel and I opted to tuck her into to bed, still securely buckled in her carseat. When Adelaide awoke this morning, I was reminded of all the times growing up that I fell asleep on the car trip home from a family gathering, only to find myself snuggly tucked in bed the following morning, still wearing my party clothes. This morning, I thought how cool it was to see the other side - the parenting rationale to let a sleeping babe lie - of that cozy memory.

May 17, 2006

On Being Stay-At-Home

What’s on your To-Do List today?

This morning, I thought about tidying up the living room, waking up to have breakfast with my husband, scrubbing down the bathroom, folding the towels in the dryer, and sweeping the kitchen floor. Later, I thought I might water the tomatoes, bake a molten chocolate cake for Joel (who’s deep in thought in Omaha today, finally taking Step One), do a load of darks, knit a couple of rows on a poncho-to-be, finish that trashy novel I’ve been reading, start a new knitting project, study a little for the NCLEX, take a walk down by the river, complete the new duvet cover I’ve been sewing, write a letter to my in-laws, send off some delinquent thank-you notes, or watch an episode of Everyday Italian.

Instead, I’ve been working on another project all day long … Trying to encourage Adelaide to take a nap.

Can't you see? I'm not at all sleepy ...

Parenting is one tough gig.

May 16, 2006

Pomp & Circumstance

We laughed, we choked up, we wistfully smiled, we ate, we imbibed, and we played this momentous weekend in celebration of Aimee’s graduation from nursing school, Adelaide’s naming ceremony and baptism, and Mother's Day.

Aimee, in a fuzzy sea of red gowns and mortarboards, receives her nursing degree after a two-year blur of effort.

We all laugh, because getting babies wet is one of the highlights of baptism.

As the old saying goes: Celebrate your mother with ten glasses of shiraz and platefuls of pasta and she'll love you all the days of your life!

Stolen Parenting

Kick, baby! Kick!

Once upon a time, our clever friends over at chez Briscoe employed a large helium-filled balloon to teach their progeny the basics of Cause and Effect. We here at Toads also believe that learning the importance of action and reaction is a vital skill for our Adelaide to acheive, so why not impart C&E through the use of a stimulating bright pink ball that bounces when you successfully flail your legs?

We'll leave the balloon's obtuse message, "Think pink," for her to ponder quietly until she's mastered the kicking.

May 11, 2006

Vulpes vulpes

Most people go their whole lives without being attacked by a red fox. Adelaide didn't even make it two months.


May 8, 2006

Finals, Finally.

It’s a busy week here in Toadsland. We’ve begun rehearsals for the Vermillion Community Theatre summer show Damn Yankees, Aimee has a unit exam (completed successfully 9 hours ago, yay!) and her final exam for nursing school on Wednesday, and I have Step I of my medical licensing board exam on Friday. And, as it turns out, we’re still parents of an infant who is now seven weeks old.
Parenting while studying works pretty well:


And when Adelaide demands a little more attention, we’ve figured out ways to hold and comfort her while simultaneously reading or grinding through a practice exam on the computer. No, make no mistake, this is not a “I can’t do all that I want because I have a baby” post, though I’m sure we’ll have a few of those coming up. In fact, having Adelaide around in some ways makes me study harder. I’m certainly less able to participate in, say, a distracting game of soccer while cradling Adelaide to my chest. Unless maybe I was to play goalkeeper. And I certainly can’t spend more than a few minutes composing a weblog entry, or playing a computer game, or cleaning the house, as all these require two hands. And then there’s the whole priorities thing. Sometimes when I’m sick of studying, I’ll look at Adelaide and think, “In order to be good with her I need to be happy. And kicking the crap out of this exam will make me happy,” and then I’ll go back to work.
Soon, though, so soon I can almost hear it, like you can hear the future sudden silence a train will bring after its passing while still being bathed in its clamor, we will be done. Aimee will walk across the stage on Saturday to receive her diploma. I will be finished with the academic years of my training. And, like swords beat into plowshares, the review books will be put to better uses.


P.S. If you have a moment, pay a visit and say hello to the two newest weblogs on our sidebar! Doug (my father) has a "plog" attached to the Amazon entry of his recently published book about antenna engineering in which he talks very little about antennas and quite a bit about what it's like to have a hobby farm in north central Minnesota. And, for something completely different, Roman Numeral J, the weblog of our buddy Joel Seeger in which he often talks about the subject of his soon-to-be-complete master's thesis: Zombies.

May 2, 2006

Dandelion Time

‘Tis May, and the dandelions are in bloom.

dandelion time.jpg

Contemplating their rampage across the grass, I’m struck by one of the many joys of renting: I don’t give a damn about the lawn.

I dimly remember when we had a lawn of our own, back in Portland, and, while it wasn’t exactly a putting green, we kept it free of weeds and well-trimmed. The fact that others in our neighborhood clearly were less diligent mildly irked me, especially when their dandelions went to seed and great gray tufts floated over to our yard like parachuting invaders.

Now I look at my neighbors with mild empathy and strong apathy. Sorry folks, we’re just renting the place. Yard care is the landlord’s bailiwick.