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January 28, 2007

Medical School Has Made Me Strange

It was very windy the other day, and I staggered a little as I trudged up to the state mental hospital. There was a large garbage can held in a wooden frame on the sidewalk in front of the entrance, and as the wind blew across its mouth, the empty garbage bag within was drawn out and up in a dancing black plume. “A little like that prolapsed uterus I saw the other day,” I mused. “Or like the stomach as it involutes upon regurgitation.”

A few days later I was struggling to put Adelaide’s 90th-percentile cranium through the neck-hole of a onesy. She fussed and I grappled until I found a short line of buttons along the shoulder that, when unfastened, easily allowed her noggin to pass through. “It’s an episiotomy for a shirt!” I cried out, delighted.

Nine has worms, and tomorrow I’m taking a small ziplock bag of her feces into the pathology lab, to see if I can identify the eggs.

Medical school has made me strange.

January 22, 2007


Please, Dear Readers, forgive us if we aren't as attentive to our weblog in the next couple of days. After reading chez Briscoe today and learning of their crashed hard drive, a palpable fear has struck my core. Our our own photographs and words at high risk, too? Could we lose our catalogue of Adelaide's young life in the space of an instant?

We are resolved. Here at Toads, I'm afraid we must do what we can to preserve and save the images and stories that we've herein captured and divert our energy - momentarily - from creating anew to saving yolde.

Over the River and Across the Plains

To Mar's House we go ... This Saturday we enjoyed an afternoon at Mar's in Nebraska, eating, crossword puzzling, and chatting.


Adelaide loves visiting new people these days ... If not for the change in the general assembly, then definitely for the change in small items to chew on and taste. Here, Adelaide prepares to stuff a pint-sized horse figurine into her mouth while Mama isn't looking.

Adelaide was especially interested in Mar's kitty, Whiskers, this visit. Adelaide had a breakthrough at home on Friday evening, meowing and looking at Nine when Joel was reading a story about a kitty aloud, and so having another cat to consider, observe and meow at was fun for our little wordsmith.

Mar, Ae & Papa

(Above the heads of Mar, Adelaide and Joel in this photo is a portrait of the Miron kids - well, the next-to-youngest generation of Miron kids anyway - Joshua, Phoebe, and Joel, captured at varying ages of youth. I just love Phoebe's red tie.)

January 18, 2007

Welcome 10th Month!

Hooray for Me!

January 14, 2007

Inflatable Xmas

I strive not to be a snob, I really do. I was raised by humble nomadic people, and our idea of decor generally consisted of a foundation of several months of New Yorkers supported by flying buttresses of dog hair. As such, I find myself naturally snobbish about snobbishness, judgmental about those who are exclusive and narrow-minded about decor and cleanliness. Yet we all have our limits. I have a horror of dirty dishes, for example, and will go out of my way to pick up discarded beer bottles off of my lawn (a year-long sport, here in Verm-town), and I recently became scornful of inflatable lawn decorations.

We've seen a sudden surge in these here in the midwest this year. Where a few had them in the whole town, now every block boasts at least one house with at least one inflatable decoration. A few feature multiple bobbing figures, and not just for Christmas, but also for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

While these decorations are very eye-catching and festive, I have two chief objections. The first is their environmental impact. While a few strings of 100-bulb lights running for 9 hours require 1.5 kilowatt hours, your eight-foot tall Waving Santa with a spotlight will suck up 43. I am becoming more and more of a Carbon Nazi as I learn more about global warming. This year's El Nino winter has made me especially nervous. We had 14 days of 40+ degree weather this past December (four days above 50, and one day with a high of 65!). So, while a giant polar bear may raise everyone's Christmas spirit, it also raises the probability of the extinction of the polar bear.

My other objection, alas, is entirely aesthetic. If the owner of the inflatable decoration leaves them inflated all day, then their energy usage doubles. If, on the other hand, the owner turns them off, they collapse on the ground, invariably making me think they were the victims of a savage drive-by shooting by some guerilla group of anti-materialists (which, now that I put it that way, is kind of bittersweet). Neither of these options is satisfactory to my high tastes, but least palatable is the third option: leaving them inflated all day, all night, but also allowing them to become untethered. Here's my shining example, Homer Santa appears to have passed out after having one too many holiday nogs.


January 11, 2007

The Eyes Have It

Our Main Street ophthalmologist examined Adelaide’s eyes last Friday. Adelaide had lots of fun looking into flashing lights and playing “peek-a-boo” with the eye doctor. She determined that Adelaide’s baby vision is right on-track (a little far-sighted, which all babies are until they reach school-age). Then, Adelaide had fun crawling around on the optometry equipment while I had my own terrible vision examined (for the first time in three years). We both were sent home with a clean bill of eye health, me with a prescription for new contact lenses, and Adelaide with an invitation to return again when she’s three or four.

A mere three days and nights later, on Sunday, I noticed that Adelaide’s right eye was looking a bit pink at that triangle-shaped fleshy bit near her nose. I mentioned it to Joel, who barely looked up from his leisure reading (The Shakespeare Wars), and mumbled, “Yeah. It’s supposed to be pink.”

The following morning, Monday, Adelaide rolled over from sleep wearing clumps of crusty goo on her eyelashes and a brilliantly-colored snotty nose. I called Joel at his slave labor and said, “I think I should take Adelaide in to see the doctor.” Joel replied, “She’s probably just rubbed the snot from her nose all over her eyes while she slept. Let’s wait and see if it gets worse.”

So, we waited ... Until the next morning, when Adelaide awoke with even more crusty goo on her eyelashes and goo floating around on the surface of her eyes. Without hesitation and without Joel’s opinion, I called Adelaide’s doctor and scheduled an appointment. After a pleasant, but visit to the clinic, a verdict was passed. Yup, just as Mama (the new clinic nurse) suspected ...

We have pink eye. Don’t come over.


January 8, 2007

Ee-I-Ee-I ... PPHHT?


Adelaide likes to reenact the twister scene from the Wizard of Oz by making the barnyard wobble and shake while blowing lots and lots of wind, scattering the animals hither and yon. Poor farmer Jed, he'll never get the alfalfa crop in whith Adelaide around.

January 6, 2007

Controlled, Remotely

The Emergency Department here recently underwent an extensive remodel, much to the delight of staff and patients alike. Thanks to the new floor plan and facilities, staff is better able to keep track of patients, patients are more comfortable in their rooms (and move from the waiting room to their exam rooms more efficiently), and medical students are better able to stalk the emergency docs (in the old facility, the docs had an uncanny ability to flit in and out of patient rooms - seemingly materializing out of thin air, providing patient care, and then disappearing back to the mysterious realm of their offices, that undiscovered country from whose bourn no med student returns). The waiting room has also been converted in the manner of modern hospitals from the classic cramped and harshly lit room filled with mysteriously stained and malevolent furniture and two out-of-date magazines to something very much resembling a hotel lobby, complete with a sweeping mural picked out in multicolored stone, a fun area for kids, and a big-screen TV.

It is to this last that I direct your attention. It is a 50-inch, high definition, flat, plasma-screen LG television that is conveniently located in an alcove big enough for eight people to enjoy it, but peripheral enough not to interfere with people who would rather spend their time in the waiting room in deep introspection or perhaps knitting an acrylic pot scrubbie. It is a lavishly bad-ass television that murmurs soulfully in our patients' (and their families') ears "We've spared no expense in taking care of not only your body and mind, but also your soul's unslakeable thirst for high-definition reality shows depicting people eating live bugs."

Except that every time I stride purposefully through the waiting room with furrowed brow (the only way a med student should travel, even if they're on the way to lunch), the ginormous TV is more likely to be broadcasting a show with bugs eating people than the other way around. For you see, the TV is always on the SciFi channel, 24 hours-a-day. This puzzled me for a while. Is it just a coincidence? Are the patients big S.F. fans? Perhaps the hospital staff members? Of course not, use Ockham's Razor - the simplest explanation is the correct one in this case: we've lost the remote control.

For you see, the TV is brand new, which means that its sleek frictionless surface is uninterrupted by buttons. Without the remote, there's no way to change the channel, the volume, or even to turn the TV off short of unplugging it (and we can't do that, either, without unbolting it from its tasteful wooden recess).

I was approached by a patient's daughter about this a few weeks ago, "Can I change this?" she asked, gesturing to the image of a woman being devoured by a monster that seemed to be a werewolf/cockroach (it was after primetime, so all the thoughtful S.F. had been replaced by horror shows). I shook my head with just the right mix of sorrow and helplessness, "I'm sorry, ma'am, there's nothing we can do." It was good practice for me, as we take classes in delivering bad news to patients. She nodded soberly and sat down to watch the wolfroach finish his snack.

This modern trend of pristine, buttonless appliances has hit us at home, as well. Our DVD player is a few years old, so it still has buttons to "Play", "Stop", and "Eject" DVDs, but most of its functions require the remote control, including the function to put a disc on "Repeat". This is crucial to us, because the DVD player is also our CD player, and we've taken to playing a CD of "Restful Rain" all night long. This CD plays the soothing sounds of very heavy rain and was supplied by our friend Lisa as a weapon in our arsenal in the nightly battle to keep Adelaide asleep. At some point during the Christmas weekend, our remote control disappeared. This coincided with Adelaide having a sniffle and going through her fourth round of teething, i.e. turning into a big old fusspot. We've searched the living room for the remote, and I've scoured the DVD player's owner's manual for some combination of "Play" and "Trackback" that might put it into repeat mode, but to no avail. We're left with a baby who goes to sleep to a CD that plays for 73 minutes. As she drifts off, Aimee and I close our eyes uneasily, knowing that in a little more than an hour the CD will cease and that perhaps 20 minutes after that Adelaide will wake. When she does wake, as Aimee soothes Adelaide, I troop out to the living room to press "Play", attracting the attention of Nine who then loudly requests that I point out her half-full food dish again.

In this way we plod through the night, rousing every 90 minutes, for want of a remote control. I remember fondly my family's VCR from the 80s. It weighed a ton, it was huge, and it bristled with buttons. It had buttons for functions that we never learned to perform, and I suspect it had buttons for things it couldn't even do; hopeful buttons that might some day be called into service if, say, we attached a six-slot toaster to that mysterious access port in the back that we never used.

We've moved away from that with our modern appliances, no doubt for the good. We can now hang our TVs on the wall, install them into our belt buckles, and soon we'll send them attached to envelopes instead of stamps. The TV in the ED lobby is clearly striving to achieve some kind of Platonic Ideal of the Essence of TV-dom. Rather than looking like an electronic appliance that receives and broadcasts video images, it would like to get thinner and sleeker until it can be used for simultaneously watching Reality TV and as a guillotine blade. Which might make a good premise for a show, maybe something that would fit into the SciFi channel's late-night schedule.

January 5, 2007

Work and Play

After an idyllic summer and autumn of gently honing my domestic technique, I’ve returned to the Land of the Working Girl.

One early morning in November, I was perusing the local newspaper and spied a small ad that read something like, “We need an RN and we need one now!” That same day, I sent my resume to Human Resources, filled out an online application, and was called for an interview. A couple of weeks later, I was offered a position as a nurse at a clinic in town.

Many, many things made this employment offer super, super attractive: its evening hours, its part-time status, its tiny, tiny commute of 1.3 miles. But, I think that the biggest, boldest item in the pro column was that this job would give me the chance everybody's always looking for, to have their cake and eat it, too. Or, I could continue to be Adelaide’s stay-at-home best pal and wrangler for the majority of each day and get some serious nursing experience under my belt and keep my license current.

So, I took the job.

And I’ve been steadily practicing my craft each night a little over a mile from home, helping to treat the headaches, sniffles, and coughs of our community. And Joel and Adelaide have some one-on-one, father-daughter time together each evening, playing roughhouse games with unsuspecting plush rabbits, eating way too much Shepard’s Pie, and singing in the bathtub.

But, here’s the rub … Our new lifestyle means that Adelaide won’t have to use daycare. Not using daycare does mean fewer snotty noses, but it also means fewer friends for Adelaide. So far, I’ve found only a handful of baby-friendly venues where Adelaide can interact with other kids. In a town of our size and persuasion, for the under-one-year set there are story times at the library, church-related functions, and well, that’s about it. I’m probably feeling this way too because it’s wintertime and playing in the cold, wet sandbox at the park or taking wind-buffeted walks by the river are not as fun.

Still when given an opportunity to be charming in public, Adelaide shines. Is it too much to want my funny, sweet little girl to have a chance to make some friends here and there and not grow up to be some sort of sheltered, social recluse?

Although, Emily Dickinson turned out okay, right?

AE taking a break from the day's activities

January 3, 2007

Lessons of a First Christmas

In reviewing her very first holiday experience, Adelaide will be the first to tell you that Christmastime is not just a time for merriment, laughter, and celebrating, but also a time to learn some vital life lessons.


For example, sometimes wonderful surprises like no other we've ever seen arrive in the mail.

Ooo, fancy earrings, Mama!

Similarily, sometimes other people receive surprises in the mail that you wish were your own.

I just love that hat on you!

And then, sometimes you're secretly glad that someone else received that gift, and that you don't have to pretend you like it for fear of offending the giver's goodwill.

You're sure it won't burn my hand?

In December (more so than other months of the year) we seem to light more things on fire - like advent candles and yule logs - so, we have a good opportunity to review fire safety tips and practice stopping, dropping, and rolling.

I've got this clapping thing down pat!

Also in December (our ninth month), we're making leaps and bounds in the hand-eye coordination department, and so are able to finally show off our skills at Pat-a-Cake.

Ho, hum.

If you find yourself with a Christmas cold we are truly sorry for your friends and family, but at least you really have the perfect excuse to lie around and let others worry about keeping the bathroom clean, stirring up the eggnog, and carving the roast beast.


If the weather outside is frightful, one of the best places to be is inside someone else's coat.


And of course, the true meaning of Christmas, beyond all the gift-giving and receiving, beyond all the hand-clapping games and snow-dusted adventures, is the time we have together, simply enjoying the company of our loved ones.