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March 23, 2007

Hooray for MusicTime

MusicTime class

In celebration of Adelaide's birthday, Joel and I tried to get Adelaide gifts that we thought she might really like, so we bought her a series of eight baby music lessons. Music and dancing are two of Adelaide's favorite things, so when our friend Laynie invited us to join her MusicTime class, we didn't hesitate. For one hour this morning, we gathered together with other parents and kids and sang and played and danced. We had a marvelous time!

March 18, 2007

Let Her Eat Cake

A first birthday just isn't a first birthday without cake!

CakeI

In Awe of It ...

CakeII

Sampling It ...

CakeIII

Loving It!

Go Fly A Kite

LadybugKiteFlying

On Adelaide's birthday, we braved the strong South Dakota winds to keep a kite aloft ... Our attempts were certainly photogenic, but can hardly be deemed a success. After an hour's messing around with wind speed and direction and a snagged line, we've determined that there's such a thing as too much wind.

March 17, 2007

Much Better Than Before

PonderousAe

On this birthday eve, we're all doing much better than Thursday. We're relaxing here at home, keeping high fevers at bay, watching old movies, and generally having a pleasant time in spite of our ailments. Tomorrow, we'll ring in Adelaide's first birthday here with lots of cupcakes (we have plenty on hand what with her cancelled birthday bash), homemade tacos, and maybe an outing to the park, if the weather permits ... Thanks to all of you out there in Toadsland who've been checking in with us over the past 48 hours; your show of solidarity means a lot ... More than we can really even say ...

Oh, yeah! And Happy St. Patrick's Day and Happy 15th Birthday, Erna!

March 16, 2007

Ides of March: The Morning After

“Beware the Ides of March.” Julius Caesar, I, ii, 33.

Yesterday morning, Adelaide and I rolled out of bed a little earlier than usual so that I could drop her off at daycare while I worked a morning shift at the clinic. She was acting kind of funny: sleepy, not hungry, not thirsty, not wet, and not in a very good mood. I remember thinking, “Well … I don’t really need to go to work … Maybe … Nah. She’ll be fine.” And just like that we were fed, dressed, and on our way out of the house.

I dropped Adelaide off at Sue’s, and drove off to work. All morning long I saw patients with snotty noses and deep vein thrombosis and high cholesterol, and then, at 11:40, we were finished and I went to the break room to collect my jacket and bag and head home. The break room telephone beeped and our receptionist said over the speakerphone, “Aimee? Pick up the phone, please.” I answered, “Hi!” and then, the receptionist said, “Sue, your baby-sitter, is on the phone. I’m going to put her through.”

I don’t know if any of you have every received this call, but this is the worst kind of phone call ever. I mean it, The Worst. It can only mean one thing, and that one thing is something bad. Yesterday was no exception.

Sue said, “Aimee, Adelaide isn’t doing very well. She’s got a really high temp …” Sue said some other things, but I didn’t hear them. “Adelaide isn’t doing very well … Adelaide isn’t doing very well.” I heard only that, over and over. And then, suddenly I was running to the car.

I arrived at Sue’s moments later, shaking. I burst through the door and looked in … There was a group of people, some big, some small, all with worried, concerned faces huddled in a corner of the room. At the center of the sad, little huddle was my care provider, holding my daughter. Adelaide was just laying in her arms, with squinty, lethargic eyes peering – unseeing – out of her gray, pale face. I said, “Adelaide, Adelaide … Mama is here,” and scooped her up and ran out of the house to the car.

I threw her into the front seat, and drove as fast as I could back toward the clinic. In hindsight that was the only stupid choice I made yesterday, not taking the time to buckle her up for the three-block trip, but I just wasn’t rational yesterday.

We pulled into the clinic and I held her close as we walked through the sliding glass doors. As she sucked air in through these scary, raspy breaths, I kept murmuring, “They’ll take care of us, they’ll take care of us,” like a mantra. We walked straight up to the reception desk and I demanded to be seen by our doctor or any doctor. I have never demanded anything in that way before; I’ve worked long enough in retail and at front-desk jobs to learn that you can catch more flies with honey and so I typically try to use my sweetest voice and best manners around people who work in the service industry. Yesterday, it was all I could do to keep from shouting at the poor lady wearing a beehive hairdo who insisted she needed our insurance card before we could be seen by anybody. I heard her mutter as she stalked away from us to find a nurse, “Should’ve come in an hour ago. We had appointments then.”

I saw red.

And then, I relaxed … Adelaide’s nurse, Patty, appeared like a vision, and was followed by Adelaide’s doctor, Mary Jo. “We are saved!” I thought. After some quick story-telling by me and a physical examination (Adelaide’s temperature was 104.5º), Mary Jo discovered that Adelaide had a double ear infection. And then, Adelaide threw up her breakfast, all over everyone. A nurse came in and gave Adelaide some Tylenol, Mary Jo handed me a fistful of prescriptions, and I swabbed off bits of partially digested oatmeal from our clothes. It was high noon.

We got back into the car, and this time I buckled Adelaide into her seat. We drove two or three blocks toward home and then the Grand Am began to sputter and fuss. I looked at the gas gage. To my horror, the bright orange indicator pointed smartly to the letter “E.” We rolled halfway across Main Street, before the car refused to move another inch.

Halfway across Main Street at lunchtime in a small town is a frustrating place to be. You see, most of the people around here, students, farmers, dentists, insurance agents, they like to go home for lunch; most of our businesses, except eateries, close down from 12:00 to 1:00 in a kind of pre-war, early twentieth-century sort of civility that honors the basic human need for rest, a sandwich, and a slice of pie. But, we still drive our SUVs the half-mile from work to home, or work to the pub.

So, there I was, yesterday at 12:07, with a sick baby strapped into her car seat, pushing a beat-up old Grand Am across Main Street, wearing bright pink scrubs sporting a swath of hastily wiped away vomit down the front as cars and trucks zoomed past me in the noontime parade.

After I’d pushed the car off Main street onto a side street, and illegally parked the car on the wrong side of the street, I quickly scribbled a note to the police department about my situation and shoved into up on the dashboard. I pulled Adelaide out of her seat, and we walked back to the clinic. I walked through the back door, where many of my coworkers were lunching, and said in a choppy, crazy-person way, “We’re having a bad day. I ran out of gas. She is sick. I need medicine. I’m going to call a friend.” I walked to the nurse’s station, picked up a telephone, and dialed the only number I could think of: our church. “Churches have to help people like Adelaide and I,” I rationalized as the phone rang and rang and rang and rang. Not yesterday, I guess, and I hung up without leaving a message.

Then, one of our doctors appeared around a corner and said, “Aimee, let me help you. What can I do?” There was too much to do … I couldn’t really think about what was most important to do. I could say, “Get gas to the car,” but then, I still needed the prescriptions and to get home. I could say, “Drive us home,” but then I still needed the car and the prescriptions. I could say, “Drop us off at the pharmacy,” but then how to get home? Adelaide was still feverish in my arms. My mind was a mess; I was beyond decision-making.

Finally, someone said, “Just drive her home.” So, they did. We walked in the door at 12:24 and I just collapsed.

Adelaide drank about 8 ounces of Pedialyte (It’s Gatorade for babies) when we walked in the door, and smiled at me for the first time since I’d picked her up at 11:45. I took her temperature and the thermometer bleeped out a reassuring reading of 100.7º

I called Joel’s cell phone and left a horrifying, teary message that he didn’t ever receive because he forgot his cell phone at home yesterday. So, I called my mom. Sometimes, even though you’re somebody’s mom, you just need your own mom. I bawled the whole story out to my mom over the phone, and then, I felt better.

One of my co-workers had called in our prescriptions to the pharmacy, and van appeared about an hour and half later carrying a bottle of Amoxicillin and a little vial of ear-pain-relief stuff. Adelaide and I snuggled for the rest of the afternoon in bed, snoozing between doses of antipyretics and antibiotics, and sips of Pedialyte.

Joel spent a day blissfully ignorant of our activites in Sioux Falls, learning advanced life saving skills with his classmates, until he arrived home – a little earlier than usual – at 3:30. And then, everything was okay.

March 12, 2007

Town Mouse, Country Mouse

It’s Springtime here on the prairie. Yes, indeed, March roared in a week ago with blizzard warnings and school closings, but by the looks of today’s sunshine and mild breeze you’d never guess that 7 days ago we were weathering a below zero windchill.

The robins are skipping and flitting about building nests. Squirrels are happily digging up buried caches of acorns. Bunnies are hopping around piles of last fall’s leaves. Nine is leering at everyone greedily. In our humble garden, yarrow shoots and strawberry leaves are poking out from beneath the dirt. And finally, we’ve been able to crack a window and air winter’s dust from our carpets and upholstery.

Yup, Spring is here. And it has put us in a mind for moving.

One year from now, Joel and I will anxiously await the results of computer-generated, tell-all Match, which, like a gypsy fortune-teller, will mysteriously inform us of our future, in no uncertain terms. “Here’s the name of the town that you will live in for at least the next four years,” the paper will read, “and here’s the name of the place where Joel will continue to learn, grovel, and wheedle his way into the World of Medicine.” We’ve been dreaming about this moment for months now … Counting down to that wonderful Match Day when we’ll move on from Vermillion to wild and untamed lands like Minneapolis … or Omaha … or Portland … or Iowa City.

Until then, we’ve got one last brilliant summer to remember Vermillion by, and here’s the question: where to do it?

We’re happy outside of our cozy little domicile, a few blocks from nearly everywhere in Verm-Town. The grocery store, the movie theatres, the swimming pool, and the park are just a sidewalk away. Inside our house, however, is different story. The three of us share a little less than seven hundred square feet of living space, and it’s getting cramped more and more as Adelaide scales the Growth Chart.

Adelaide’s presence however welcome has made our quarters even more tight with her extensive, constantly changing wardrobe, her battalion of plush toys, and her ability to turn a tidy, organized cupboard of pots and pans into a mine field of trips and falls. Additionally, we’re happy that Adelaide’s company has brought grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends to our home, but – and I think that we can all agree on this, grandparents, aunts, and uncles – one tiny bathroom for 6 people to share over a long weekend is crazy!

So, here’s the thing … We’ve got an opportunity to move to a farmhouse outside of town, for less money, for more space, and for an additional bathroom (even if it is in the form of a compost pile that only Joel uses). This farmhouse is in between Vermillion and Yankton, cutting Joel’s daily commute to twenty minutes one-way and adding ten minutes to my commute. We could get a dog. We could have fabulous outdoor parties. We could have guests a bit more comfortably. We could live like country folk for just a year. But, we might miss the sidewalks. We might get scared all alone in a creaky old farmhouse on nights when Joel will be away next year. We might get lonely. And we’d have to move. Yuck.

But then again, listening to the prairie on summer nights, sitting on the back stoop of an old farmhouse, seems kinda nice, too.

March 1, 2007

Too Wintery to Move Much

It's a four-day weekend here in Toadsland with a lot - and I mean a lot - of loafing around ... School and work were cancelled on Thursday for fear of wintery roadways, and then were cancelled again on Friday due to the reality of wintery roadways and subzero winds.

So, we snuggled in to watch movies and play Nintendo ...

Learning the ways of a Snow Day

And dined on hearty venision stew, but (gasp!) what about the wine?

Provisions!

Not to worry, the liquor store is open (and will be for the duration of the storm, according to the Liquor Store Guy, because we prairie folk prefer to weather our weather with a clinking glass of Canadian Mist or blended Margarita in hand)!

Staving off Cabin Fever

But I'll bet your wondering how we plan to keep the dreaded Cabin Fever from infecting our surprise long weekend at home? A jog around the blustery yard is just the thing!

Like a Lion

O Lovely Snow

March growls in with swift gusts of blowing snow, wind advisories, freezing rain, school closures, and blizzard warnings. It's our second Snow Day of this week!