Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Literary Tourism - New Hampshire and Vermont

We're staying in New England for this week's entry.  New Hampshire and Vermont are similar in a lot of ways.  They are the most mountainous of the New England states and both of these books discuss the plight of the New England dairy farmer.

New Hampshire

First Boy by Gary Schmidt - Cooper is being raised by his grandfather, a New Hampshire dairy farmer during a heated presidential campaign.  Cooper's grandfather passes away and he copes by putting all of his energy into saving the dairy farm.  But mysterious men start to visit him and even the president sends her henchmen after him.  Is he really the president's illegitimate son?

This fun YA political thriller captures small town New England quite well.  There's the crotchety neighbor, the helpful families, and in the end they all pull together.  Anything by Gary Schmidt is a pleasure to read. Many of the reviews of this book on Goodreads are quite negative, but I actually enjoyed it.  Schmidt is a great writer.

"Keep reading!  There's more!"

Return to Sender by

Monday, July 21, 2014

Joshua's First Trip to the Library

There are two places that I have been dying to take Joshua, but simultaneously nervous about due to the incredible amount of germs.  One of these places is the library.  I was a rookie librarian during the swine flu scare so I am perfectly aware of what lives on those books and tables.

Today, we threw caution to the wind and braved the library.  I loaded the stroller with the books that needed to be returned, Joshua, and ample amounts of hand sanitizer.  (I'm not kidding.)

After teaching my nephew the abbreviated version of the Dewey Decimal System.  I sanitized my hands and shared some books with Joshua.

He took storytime very seriously.   Then I sanitized my hands again.

The little guy mostly stayed in his stroller while I searched the catalog for books, sanitized my hands and helped my niece and nephew find books.  My niece did a great at keeping the stroller moving Joshua could relax.

I've dreamed of taking this picture for a long time.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Literary Tourism - Connecticut

Technically, I've been to Connecticut.  I've spent two nights there, but mostly in an I'm-just-passing-through capacity.  But it's part of New England and therefore, I must love it.

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora  - When I checked this book out, I wasn't planning on it being part of this project.  In fact right now I'm still a little ambivalent about it because my very brief research has not yielded a real West Glover, Connecticut.  But I really liked this book.  So, oh well.

Lucy, Elena, and Michael are assigned To Kill a Mockingbird as a summer reading book.  The rest of the class is dreading it but Lucy and Elena love the book.  In an effort to make people want to read it, they make the book disappear and they're not quiet about it.  They knew a little controversy would get a lot of people reading the book.  Soon the whole country is caught up in the craze.

I didn't know this book took place in Connecticut when I started, but from the beginning it had a distinct New England feel.  The small state matters too.  The kids were able to travel across the state to hide books.  It spins a little out of control, and they have to repair their work.

I loved these kids.  They were certainly not realistic middle-schoolers.  But I wish they had been my friends all those years ago.  They were smart and passionate and fun.  The dialogue in this book was spot on.  If you like books especially Harper Lee's classic, you should give this one a shot.

"Good books make me drowsy."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Joshua had a little surgery on Monday.  I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say it was neither heart surgery nor an organ transplant.  So, if you're not his mom, it's not the scariest thing in the world.  Last week felt very long because we were just waiting around to have this procedure done.

I was dreading Sunday night, because we couldn't feed him, but Joshua did remarkably well on an empty stomach and managed to keep his spirits up right up until they took him into surgery. 

"Ha, Ha, Ha.  I just peed all over this gurney."

"Why is mommy holding me so much today?"
We waited and waited and waited ... okay the surgery didn't really take that long.  The surgeon came out and told us that everything went fine and what to expect for the next few days.

The most heartbreaking part was when they wheeled him out to us and I could hear him crying from all the way done the hall.  Joshua was really angry that we hadn't fed him yet.  His cry was hoarse and angry.

"Feed Me!"
Because Joshua isn't known for his respiratory talents, we got to spend the night on the pediatrics floor.  I was actually really happy about that.  The nurses and techs were experts at calming baby who is in pain.

"Ooo, fishies!"

"These warm blankets are comfy!"

"Mom, can you get me one of these for home?"
 Joshua did great and didn't have any epidosres of apnea.  We were able to come home yesterday morning.

"I can't wait to get home!"

Saturday, July 5, 2014

02 - Part 4

Well, we got the final word from the doctor on Thursday which confirmed what we already knew.  Joshua is good to go off oxygen.  Yay! 

We will keep the tank until next week in case of any post-surgery problems.  The pediatrician  would like us to still monitor him for a month.  I really hate the alarm, but I really like knowing how the little guy is doing.  For example, the above number means that he is getting plenty of oxygen.  The lower number means is his heart rate.  Based on how high it was I could assume that he was still awake.  It makes checking on him super easy.

We conveniently celebrated our oxygen free independence on Independence Day with a short trip to Bridal Veil Falls.  (We may or may not have taken the tank with us in case he had a problem with the higher elevation.)

Joshua slept through his first real outing.

After a short photo session we actually left.  Joshua was starting to burn and he isn't used to all of this sun.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Literary Tourism - Kansas

And back to the Midwest we go.  I used the website that I like to see what it offered for Kansas, but didn't get very far.  The Wizard of Oz takes place in more of a fantasy land than the state.  Then I remembered Sarah, Plain and Tall.  I was almost positive it took place in Kansas.  I reread it and discovered that it never actually mentions the state it takes place in.

I googled a few lists and found a bunch of rural horror novels which are seriously not my thing.  Then I found a list reminding me that, indeed, I had read a book set in Kansas.

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool - Because I like historical fiction I enjoyed this book.  I don't think I would have liked it otherwise.  It tells the story of Abilene who is sent to Manifest, Kansas to live with her father's friends.  Flashbacks and a little mystery help intertwine Abilene's and her father's stories.  This is my review from Goodreads a couple years agao.

"This was a lovely historical fiction story of how a girl finds home and family. It expertly weaves the stories of father and daughter together. Abilene has a very strong voice and the flashbacks were well put together and emotional. While the outset of the story did not seem unique, many of the plot elements made this story unusual for children's literature. My one complaint is that it was very slow. It took me forever to read."

Honorable Mention 

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlin - While a number of websites list the setting of this book in Kansas, it is never explicitly stated in this book.  It may be revealed in the sequels, but I don't remember.  It deserves mention because I LOVE THIS BOOK.  I read it for the first time in third grade and the teacher who shared it with us brought it to life.  I think I felt connected to Sarah because she is originally from Maine.  It's a simple story about finding family and love.  An adult could easily read it in one sitting.  But it is packed full of emotion and meaning and strong characters.  I'm gushing I know, but seriously everyone should read this book.

"I just know that mommy's going to make me read this book."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

O2 - Part 3

I've sat down to right this post a few times in the past two weeks and each time I get distracted.  Then things change so I have to start all over.  Well, the saga continues.  Here's a summary of our oxygen situation.

Last Monday
  • The pediatrician determined that Joshua was indeed ready for an overnight room air trial to decide if he was ready to come off oxygen.
  • We told the nurse and the doctor the appropriate home health company to contact, and they sent an order.
  • I called the home health company to discuss other business and mentioned that they should be receiving a doctor's order. 
Last Thursday
  •  Joshua needs a minor surgery, so we took him and his oxygen tank to the appointment.  They informed us that they would prefer that he was off oxygen prior to his surgery.  Joshua needs to be officially off oxygen in six days.  We've been weaning him and he needs less and less everyday
  • I still hadn't heard from the home health company.  This surprised me because we have been high-maintenance clients and I assumed they would want to be done with us as quickly as possible.  I called them and it turns out they had not received an order.
  • I called the pediatrician and the nurse sent the order to the wrong company.
Last Friday
  • As anticipated, the home health company got us the equipment we needed right away.  But the problem was nothing could really happen with it until the next business day - Monday
Sunday Night
  •  We set everything up, put our sweet boy to bed and attached the test to him.
  •  We discovered during his early morning feeding that somewhere in the four hours the test had stopped.  We needed at least eight hours of data.
  • Jerry dropped the test off and asked if they could check to see if they had enough data.  After a series of "I don't knows,"  someone said they would call him.
  • At 4:50 PM we still had not heard anything so I called.  There was indeed enough data and it had been faxed to the pediatrician.
Which brings us to this morning
  •  I called the pediatrician's office and asked a nurse if/when the doctor could look at the test.  She informed me that the neonatologist who they fax the information to would not be able to look at it until next Monday.  He's a mission president in Germany and only reviews these tests on his P-Day.  (Seriously, only in Utah)
  • At this point, patience ceased to be a virtue.  I informed her that the call needed to be made before next Monday, and that I was calling today to make sure it gets made before the holiday weekend. If the nurse had sent the order to the right company we would have had the results and decision already.
  • She arranged to have a respiratory therapist look at the info and make an unofficial decision before the doctor takes a look at it.
  • As I write, I am still waiting to hear back.
This whole ordeal reminds me of two experiences.

A few years ago, I was talking to my old boss.  I said something along the lines of, "I hope I'll be able to fight for the things my kids need."  She responded with something like, "You will.  They're your kids.  You fight for them."

I understand this now.  My mother bear claws are out.  I'm done waiting.  I want this call to be made.  We have a deadline.

Second, on the day Joshua came home from the NICU one of the nurse practitioners told us that if we think there is a problem with Joshua, there probably is.  We know him better than any doctor   Right now, I don't think there is a problem.  In fact, I know better than a doctor in Germany who has never examined him that he is ready.  I'm the one making sure he doesn't look dusky and obsessively watching his belly rise and fall.  I'm the one who gets up at night because I haven't heard the monitor beep and I"m afraid it's not turned on.  I know he's ready and I'm powerlessly waiting for a doctor to confirm ut.

On the upside, Joshua has had the cutest smiles today.  He gets better and better at it everyday.  Although he refuses to perform for the camera.