no do-overs (thank goodness!)

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?
Smarter than this one?

I have to warn you that she is pretty smart. Competitive too. Now where in the world did she get that from?
It’s teacher conference week here under the Big Top and the news is that her straight A streak continues.
Yes, I played along with her last night and I will admit that I am just barely smarter than the average 5th grader.
Thank goodness I don’t have to repeat 5th grade!

Monday Photo Shoot: magnets that save babies

John Scalzi writes:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Fridge Magnets!

For this week’s Photo Shoot, it’s time to use your camera to reveal — your refrigerator!
Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off your refrigerator magnets. Because you know you have ’em.
Your turn: Get that fridge in the camera frame and make those magnets famous. Post the picture up on your blog or Web site and then come back here and leave a link!

Like a few folks who shared with John already I have quite a few refrigerator magnets. But these are the ones that have a purpose.

For a $5 minimum donation made here this magnet pin combo can be yours too.

Special note to those who have already made generous donations, your car magnet and pin combo is on the way soon, I promise. When they arrive, I hope that you will display your support proudly.

sometimes, I do have all the answers!

Well, at least I have some answers to the questions that you have recently asked.
I confess that I was pretty nervous when I challenged y’all to ask me anything…I mean, what if you ask something I can’t answer because it would reveal my secret identity or that I wouldn’t want my parents to ever find out?
Thank you for the questions and here are your answers.

Jamilyn asks two questions:

Is it Holly or Hollie?

Basically it is both. I named her Holly. It says so on her birth certificate, immunization records, medical records, school records, social security card…you get my drift. But my first darling daughter decided when she was around ten years old or so that I misspelled her name when I filled out her birth records. She claims that it must have been all the drugs I took to have her. Of course I remind her that hers was a completely unmedicated birth. Nevertheless, she maintained that it was supposed to be H-o-l-l-i-e. So she goes by Hollie. Feel free to refer to her as Holly. I do, her grandparents do as well. We all know that grandparents pretty much trump anything else. Besides, my spell-checker only recognizes H-O-L-L-Y. So Holly it is!

How long do I have to scrape my pennies together for TeamDaniel this year?

The walk date is May 12. We are accepting donations (and no amount is too small or too great if you are inependently wealthy) from now until about a month after the walk. All generous donations are more than appreciated. You guys ROCK!

Chris asks:

What was the funniest thing your husband ever did?

Oh my goodness! Bill is indeed a funny guy. Why we just laugh and laugh all the time! Okay, most of the time.
Seriously, because Bill does have a very quick wit and tends to make everyone laugh it is assumed he is always “on”. People acquainted with us have often made such a comment to me. I usually will smile, giggle a little and agree.

The funniest…hmmmm…..

I can tell you that he does make me laugh a lot and often. I can tell you that just when I figure I really know him he says or does something that catches me completely off guard.

But the funniest?

Besides the fact that he timed our wedding ceremony and then told me how long it took immediately after the ceremony?

The most recent funny Bill moment that had me laughing perhaps a little too hard was this. Anyone who knows Bill in real life that reads this blog is invited to share their own funny Bill moments in the comments.

At your cervix posted some questions regarding this recent entry of mine:

just where to we draw the line???

I’m not sure. But I do know that I do not want to be the one to play God. I still stand on the point of my entry and that is there needs to be a better job of educating and informing the general public of the whole big picture of micropreemies. The heart warming successes are wonderful and I do celebrate them but they need to be balanced with WHAT IT TOOK TO GET TO THOSE SUCCESSES (sorry for the caps) and that was my point. Check out The Preemie Monitor to view some rare, but more balanced reports of the recent preemie news story.

Many neonatal professionals and preemie parents seem to agree on this. Many people just don’t understand fully what these babies and families must go through while in the NICU and beyond.

Neonatal doc recently wrote a very good point though. We can inform and educate all we want but sometimes one still does not hear what is being said to them. I for one do not want to be the one to step over them and make such a decision for them. To me that is too much like playing God and that is not my job. For the record, I don’t want that job either because it has been taken.

I still stand on better education and information for the general public. It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) start when a mother is about to deliver a baby 4 months early. It must start at with sex ed (parents and in schools), regular annual check-ups, prenatal exams, childbirth classes and with those “heart-warming” media stories. We need to start calling the media on their misinformation. Those of us who do know and thoroughly understand need to start by calling them, writing them, emailing them and letting them know they only got maybe a third of the story and what a disservice they are doing to the general public by perpetuating their misinformation and partial truths.

I’m sure her parents are very happy that she has survived this long, but at what cost?

I thought I shared some of the costs in my post?

Again, you are preaching to the choir. I stand on the fact that it is too late to question this family in the news or the families of surviving (and thriving) micropreemies. Many of us are too busy living the ultimate reality of it all, for better or for worse, so your point is pretty much moot with us.

Perhaps we need to take our arguments to the source and in this case, it is the media.

I did just that by writing letters to the editor of a local paper and local tv stations that reported the story. I would ask what did you do?

Concerning my new toy, Abby asks:

I love the new camera; how is it on batteries? My older-model Canon Powershot SI IS EATS batteries, which kind of sucks.

It has a rechargeable battery which seems to last a pretty long time. I charged it the night I bought the camera and did not have to recharge it until a week later and I was playing with it pretty much everyday taking an average of 10 pictures each day. There is a battery pack I can buy to attach to the camera that is even better. A friend told me that it is worth the investment for occasions where I might be taking lots and lots of pictures like a wedding, graduation, sporting event that the kids are in. Someday…

Becky recently asked:

Hey! I read the following tonight:

“Music as a source of strength. A study at Brigham Young University found that premature infants who were exposed to music gained more weight, had lower blood pressure, and had a stronger heartbeat than a comparable group of babies who weren’t.”

Just curious…does your NICU play music?

Sadly, no we don’t. Like many NICUs, we struggle with keeping the noise level down as noise is one of the things that can really stress these tiny ones out. All the alarms on monitors, IV pumps, isolettes, warmers, ventilators. The noise some of these generate just working is also a factor. Then there are the overhead pages, the staff talking, the families talking and such. It can be a very noisy place and very stressful for the babies. God only knows what it is doing to their brain development but I can tell you that many cope with the noise by stopping breathing, dropping their heart rates and turning blue. Of course the noise level in the unit often increases even more then.

To remind us of the noise level in the unit, we have these lovely devices that light up when the noise level is too loud for sensitive, underdeveloped ears. They resemble traffic lights. I can tell you that even in the middle for the night, the yellow and sometimes, the red lights are flashing more often than we want. In a perfect unit, the traffic light devices would always be at green light.

My last employer did play music in the NICU but I would question who it was for as it was often on the local top 40 station or the R&B station. Sometimes I was even overstimulated and stressed from the music playing. I can only imagine how it affected the babies. Yes, I did question this but I was in the minority.

Of course having said all that, I do encourage parents to bring in mini-cassette recorders or cd players with recordings of them reading, singing or talking to their babies. I also suggest some lullabye and classical cd’s that I played for Daniel as a preemie. I will wrap the player in a diaper (to muffle the sound), put the volume on the lowest setting and play it in the baby’s bed for them to listen to. Like the studies have shown, this kind of auditory stimulation seems to have a positive affect on the tiny babies that I care for.

Kelly, my inspiration for this exercise, asks several questions:

Describe the best thing you’ve ever cooked.

I believe, and my family will back me up that the best thing I cook is my three bean chili con carne (and without for my vegetarian daughter). It’s actually quite easy.
2 cans of black beans
2 cans of red kidney beans
2 cans of white beans
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
2 canfuls of frozen corn
1 onion chopped
several stalks of celery chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
(more or less to taste on all the above herbs and spices- honestly, I don’t measure)
1/2 pound ground sirloin
1/2 pound ground pork

combine the first 5 ingredients in a large stock pot or crock pot. Sauté the onion and celery then add to the pot along with the next 5 ingredients. cook on very low heat on the stove top or in the crockpot on the low setting for 4 hours. Stir occasionally. After 4 hours, brown meat in skillet then drain in colander and rinse in hot water. Add browned meat to pot and continue to simmer for one more hour. Serve with grated cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh cilantro with con bread on the side.

Describe the best thing you’ve ever eaten.

Oh my….there is this chocolately, velvety smooth cheesecake that I had about 5 years ago that was like the best orgasm ever. Did I just say that? I did, didn’t I. Trust me, it was that good. Unfortunately, the restaurant where I enjoyed that is no longer in business.

How many cases from the NICU stick with you through the years?

Off the top of my head, I can name 10 babies and families whom I know I will never forget.

Do you ever see any of the children who were in your NICU, once upon a time?

I keep in touch on a regular basis with 5 families whose babies I cared for, usually through holiday cards and birthdays.

That’s enough fo now. Be sure to stop by and say hello to the folks who had questions. They all write some pretty cool blogs too.

Anymore questions? Anyone, anyone?

I could go longer

I'm a Top Mommma!

I have lasted two days so far thanks to all of you.
I could go even longer; but not without your help. Keep on clicking….click, click, click….even if you clicked before, click again. Just be sure to click on that picture of Daniel’s teeny, tiny hand holding his daddy’s finger just like this one.

Is it sad that I am this competitive?
Anyway, I am having issues with my wireless connections today….grrrr…. I forgot how S-L-O-W dial-up can be. So I will most likely be offline until Bill gets home to help me troubleshoot this problem.
I think it is more sad that I am so worked up about this.
I guess I will do something constructive, like laundry. Better yet, I will work on answering those questions some of you have asked. I have five so far that I am working on.
To those who asked, thanks.
I’m sure there are more that y’all are just dying to ask. Don’t be shy. I will answer them, I promise.
Until then please keep on clicking.


Zoë Elizabeth is fifteen years old today!
I could share with you her birth story because, well, it is on my mind today. It seems just like yesterday.
I could recall the day she was almost killed. Six years later I still get teary as I recall seeing her lying there in the street.
No, I think I will tell you fifteen things about her. She is an amazing life force and today I celebrate Zoë.

1. She taught herself to crochet in one evening last Sunday and yes, she has finished her first leg warmer.

2. Of course her hair naturally curly just like her Daddy’s once was.

3. She makes the most amazing quesadillas.

4. She has little patience for gossip or drama which seems to be the driving force of almost every teenage girl.

5. She is a straight A student.

6. She is a gifted photographer.

7. She has been a vegetarian since she was 9 years old.

8. She is an insomniac

9. She helps out around the Big Top so much, rarely needing to be asked and even more rarely will she complain.

10. At an age when most kids desperately want to be accepted and will conform to be accepted, she is accepted because she does not conform.

11. She is currently in a retro 80’s phase which is reflected in her dress and taste in music.

12. Pan’s Labyrinth is the next movie that she intends to see.

13. She is exceptionally gifted in mathematics. She makes it look easy. Yet she tells me that it isn’t her thing.

14. She is rather ambivalent about turning 15 but she is very much looking forward to being 15 years and 6 months as she can then get her learner’s permit.

15. Today she is celebrating her birthday by working with me at a WalkAmerica fundraising event for TeamDaniel. The very best way to wish her a happy birthday would be pledging $5 or more for her to walk for TeamDaniel.

Oh and she definitely wants you to check out Topmama and click on that picture of her brother’s and father’s hands so that her mom can be a topmama!

Happy Birthday Zoë!
I love you!