April



Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Remembering the NICU...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Last week, my nephew and his wife had a little baby boy who entered the world weighing 6 lbs. 6 oz. The little guy had some respiratory issues, so he spent nearly a week in the NICU. During his stay, he lost some weight and was down to just over five-and-a-half pounds.
     When Cheryl went to see him, she was amazed at how little he was. I reminded her that our daughter Grace wasn't even four-and-a-half pounds when she was born, and she, too, lost a couple of ounces before we brought her home.
     Cheryl said that she could not remember her being that little. Maybe the eighteen years since has clouded her memory.
     Well, let me tell you... I remember.
     When Grace was born, I remember the look of concern on the doctor's face. I thought she looked small, but this was the first time that I had ever seen a baby right out of the shoot. They are born little, right?
     They announced her weight and a fairly low Apgar score. The nurses were all moving pretty quickly... only adding to my confusion and concern.
     Fortunately, the second Apgar score was higher, and the tension and urgency seemed to ease up a bit. As things settled, I remember the nurse telling me that Grace had long, slender, beautiful fingers and was someday going to be a pianist! 
     I wanted to punch him in the face. I may have misheard what the nurse said... but Cheryl quickly cleared it all up!
     He said pianist, as in piano player.
     Oh... pianist! That is not what I thought he said! 
     To be fair, after Grace was born, I had a lot going on. Cheryl was just lying there doing nothing and could afford to just sit and listen to what the nurse was saying.
     Grace was originally sent to the regular nursery. Unbeknownst to us, she was transferred to the NICU in the middle of the night. I learned of this transfer after skipping down to the nursery to see Gracie... only to find that she was not there. I then hurried to the NICU and was told that I had to scrub up and put on a mask and gown.
     I was the only person in a room full of babies that were no bigger than a little baby doll. We're talking one-and-a-half to three pound newborns. Grace was, by far, the biggest baby in the room. They all had tubes coming out of their arms or heads. They were all in little individual incubators and seemingly could only be touched through armholes. I left to call my office to tell them I would not be in to work. They asked if everything was okay, and I could not speak... I had no idea.
     I have always said that the day Grace was born was the best and the worst day of my life.
     When I went back to the NICU, I was greeted by a nurse named Cathy. I never remember anybody's name, but I remember Cathy. She explained that these babies would all survive but would probably be hospitalized for months. She let me know that they were all premature for one reason or another. She pointed out the DeVito twins who had to be delivered early.
     As I got more comfortable with things, I told Cathy that I thought that Grace needed a diaper change. Cathy shot me a look and told me to change her myself. Because Grace was so tiny, I was afraid to touch her, but Cathy was having none of it.
     I am not going home with you... so do it yourself!
     The irritation in her voice convinced me that things were going to be okay.
     I will always be thankful for Cathy. The last thing I said to her was to keep the DeVito boys away from my Gracie. 
     She assured me that she would.
     Grace was in the NICU for eight days. Each day, Cheryl and I would go to the hospital thinking that we would be bringing her home. Each day we were disappointed. There was a very young doctor that kept finding "issues." We got very tired of hearing... maybe tomorrow!
     On the eighth day... an older doctor told us to take her home. I asked him about her lungs, her heart, her size, and her hearing. When they had tested her hearing, they had told me that they could not get an appropriate response. To each of my questions, the doctor assured that she will be fine! 
     I asked him, How is it that the other doctor keeps saying keep her in the hospital and now you say take her home. 
     Because we have put her under a microscope... and when we do that to any baby, we will find problems. 
     What about that bleeding in the brain? 
     That is common in many vaginal births.
     She was a C-section!
     Oh, well... she will be fine! Take her home. 
     Can I take a heart monitor with us so if she stops breathing we will hear the beeping?
     No. 
     What about her hearing?
     Get her tested when you get her home... She will be fine... Take her home. 
     Uh, about her hearing... Poor Grace. For five days I tested her myself. I would sneak up behind her and clap and take note that she was easily startled. I was convinced she could hear and mentioned this fact to Cheryl... several times.
     When we finally took Grace for her hearing test, they told us they could not do the test because she was awake. I commented that she had been awake when they tested her in the hospital.
     It turns out that the baby has to be perfectly still and they are just seeing if the process works by sending a noise into the ear and seeing if there is a noise response that bounces back... an otoacoustic emission from the inner ear.
     So stupid! My tests were better.
     All of these memories came flooding back when I went to the hospital to see my nephew's baby... and I am here to report that this little guy is as cute as can be.
     And get this, while I was there, I was able to save my nephew some money by running a few of my preliminary hearing tests.
     The kid can hear. He is now home... and is going to be just fine!
     Congratulations to Joseph, Jess, JP... and welcome to the family baby Cooper!  

Remembering the days...
Newborn Gracie in her isolette.
Gracie and Dad.
Mommy with her happy girl.
Teeny-tiny on a standard-sized pillow.
Not quite two weeks old.
Two-and-a-half weeks old... Happy to be home. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... I'm attending what??

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Although my kids are similar in many ways, I often say that they are so different that you would think that they came from three different sets of parents.  So it should come as no surprise that I have a brother that is similar to me in many ways, but we too have many differences. Perhaps the biggest difference would be in our political views.
     I am a right-wing nut, and Paul is a left-wing kook.
     Now, when we are together, we rarely discuss politics. In fact, he sent out a very nice letter to the family during the last presidential election explaining that everyone would have much less angst if they just focused on what they could control and try not to cast all politicians as either all good or all evil.
     It was a nice letter... but he could afford to be nice. His guy was ahead in the polls!
     Not surprisingly, Paul's children have similar political views as his. They occasionally post things on Facebook that I read... sort of like spying on the enemy. Not that I consider them enemies... I love them all in spite of their misguided view of the world! I rarely ever comment on these posts, other than the occasional late-night grumble to Cheryl as I read some article about "climate change."
     Ah... climate change... the perfect explanation for everything. The 70's gave us the coming of another Ice Age... Al Gore's internet introduced us to global warming. Gee whiz... make up your minds. The world has been around since way before the '60's, and now, in the span of 50 years, we get two opposite weather theories predicting doom. Now we have climate change. Who can argue that the climate changes? The perfect explanation for anything!
     I once made the mistake of commenting about one of my sister-in-law's posts... only to have some college kid advise me, "You just don't get it."
     Oh, I get it alright, missy. I get it... and I get taxed for it!
     But I digress...
     Anyway, yesterday, I woke up and checked out Facebook. One of Paul's daughters attends college and posted that she was going to attend an event! I looked at the picture attached and it had a Pennsylvania license plate which read... SEX DOC.  The lecture was entitled, The Politics of Sexual Oppression. 
     I just had to see what this was all about.
     I clicked on the page, but it only expanded the page that I was already on. Then I did what I always do when my iPad doesn't respond... I started hitting everything on the page in hopes of getting what I wanted. Nothing happened... except that I noticed that my name appeared at the top of the page alongside of my niece's name. Oh well, I guess I never will know what The Politics of Sexual Oppression is all about.
     As I moved on, I began to wonder, why is my name up there with hers? Well, it appears that one of the buttons that I hit advised the organizers of the lecture that I would be attending. Turns out that I will know what the Politics of Sexual Oppression is after all!
     Once again, I panicked.
     Cheryl, what do I do?
     About what?
     The Politics of Sexual Oppression. A lecture that I am attending!
     Is there something you want to tell me? 
     I hit the wrong button... now I have to go.
     Un-invite yourself!
     Can you do that?  
     You can try. 
     I have never sexually oppressed anybody! This is bad! 

     I went back and hit the "Will Attend" button again... you know... to un-attend. I figured, That ought to undo it all! I jumped in the shower, confident that my little faux-pas would go unnoticed by all my friends... and family.
     My confidence was short-lived.
     On my drive in to work, I received a text from Gracie... Did you mean to go to this? with a picture of the Sexual Oppression page attached.
     Now my daughter thinks I am an oppressor. Worse, she thinks that I am going to this stupid lecture. Disaster. Who else has seen this?
     Then Grace followed up with... Can I go into your Facebook page and uninvite yourself?
     I thought I already did! Please do! 
     I hate Facebook!
     Turns out that Facebook was created by some guy named Zuckerburg. Zuckerburg is a liberal sympathizer that supports all kinds of liberal issues like immigration reform.  He is a bad, bad man.
     It is troublesome to me that a guy with these types of political beliefs carries so much control over our social media. This causes me great angst!
     What's that? He also funded groups that opposed Obamacare and supported the Keystone Pipeline? He is a good, good man.
     A guy like that can be trusted. And he probably drives my brother's family crazy!
     It turns out that my brother might be right. There is probably some good and some bad in all of our politicians.
     Except the sexual oppressors... those guys are all bad!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... One ringy dingy... two ringy dingy...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     We were sitting in the pew... glued to every word the priest had to offer. Well, not every word because my mind tends to wander... what... with baseball season getting started and teams to be selected and little baseball hearts to break.
     Anyway, in the midst of the homily, Father Lewis was speaking about the Eucharist and the necessity of important things that set us... as a people, and as a Church... apart. The Eucharist is not something that you should take for granted, and you wouldn't just give it away.
     He then asked us all to think of something special... more specifically, he asked the married couples to think of something that they have on... at this very moment, something that you are wearing right now... that you would never just give away.
     I looked at Cheryl and she looked lovingly at me and told me...
     I really do love these earrings!  I would never give these earrings away!
     Father Lewis then answered his own question... your wedding ring! You would never just give away your wedding ring!
     Of course, the priest was talking about our wedding rings... The ring is a wonderful symbol of love placed on the finger that leads directly to our hearts, and shaped like a circle because the ring, like our love, has no end.
     Since the day we got married, I have never, not once, ever considered removing my wedding ring from my finger!
     Well, that is not exactly true.
     There was this time on our honeymoon, when I was swimming in the beautiful crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. I was fooling around with my ring and tossed it to Cheryl, figuring that even if it dropped, I could easily find it. I mean, the Caribbean has the clearest water in the world. It also has this stuff called sand at the bottom of it. I mean, the water is so clear that you can see right down to the sand as you swim around... you really can't miss the stuff. Anyway, this sand stuff just gobbled that ring  right up.
     Four hours of searching and it was never to be found. One week into our marriage and I had lost my ring. Cheryl was so upset that I called the jeweler from Saint Barth's and ordered a new ring with the exact same inscription... Share My Life 4/25/92. 
     The new ring cost me a hundred dollars, and the phone call from Saint Barth's cost me eighty. Oh well... it made my new bride happy.
     She remained happy, right up until a couple of years later when I was sitting on a deck at a local restaurant overlooking the South River. I was out with people from work and was waiting for our waitress. I was bored. So I did what I always do when I am bored... I took off my wedding ring and spun it on the table, attempting to stop it by putting my thumb and my pointer finger inside the ring. I am sure you know what I am talking about... everybody does it. Right? I mean... everybody does do this... Right?
     Well, I am pretty good at this little game. Except on this particular day. The ring hit off my finger and twirled to my thigh... it bounced off of my thigh and onto my chair... it then bounced off my chair... hit one of the two-by-six deck boards at my feet... bounced up in the air and twirled around a time or two... and then fell right between two more deck boards... right into the South River.
     And get this, it did it all in slow motion with my reaching and grabbing for it at every stage of the plunge.
     I ordered a third ring. This time, the jeweler said... Same inscription? Share My Life 4/25/92?
     Yes, how do you remember that?
     I usually don't make three of them!
     Ouch!
     Okay, this third one... I have never, not once ever considered removing this third one... except when I play basketball. I mean, I don't want to get my finger caught up in the rim when I dunk! I mean, I could cut my hand up and possibly lose a finger that way!
     For those of you that just spit out your coffee at the thought of me dunking... Just know that I hate you!
     After Mass, as we walked out to the car, I confronted Cheryl about her earring comment. She immediately turned and said she was kidding... that she knew the whole time he was talking about our wedding rings... I mean, what else could he have been talking about! You couldn't possibly think that I was serious? 
     Yes I could, I said sheepishly in the best little kid voice that I could muster.
     Of course, I knew he meant our rings. Seriously, what else could it have been. I was just teasing you and as usual... you are like a mouse to my cat!
     I must admit that I felt pretty silly about the whole thing. Not because I mistakenly thought that Cheryl felt more of a connection to her earrings than to her wedding ring.
     No, I felt bad because when Father Lewis asked us to think of something that we were wearing, something that we cherish, something that we would never consider just giving away, the only thing that I could come up with was... my new shoes.
     But to be fair, they are a sweet pair of chestnut brown loafers that fit... and feel... like a comfy pair of slippers.
     And don't forget, baseball season is approaching... and I have teams to select... and little baseball hearts to break... and my mind tends to wander!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... What about me?

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     What a week.
     Noah and Matthew had the flu. Both got hit hard. Fevers over 100 degrees for several days, bleary eyes, lethargy, fatigue, and coughs to beat the band. Both boys stayed in bed for most of the days and rarely came downstairs.
     But this isn't about them, it is about me.
     When Matthew gets sick, it is kind of a boon to me. I don't have to run up to his school to pick him up. I don't have to take him to his practices. And I don't have to escort him to his various social activities. You might even say that my life gets a lot easier when Matthew gets sick.
     But Noah, he is a different animal. I don't want to sound selfish or anything, but I haven't eaten a decent meal since the little guy went down.
     Noah took an interest in cooking about a year ago. He started out trying different recipes here and there, but now he makes dinner four or five nights a week. Not just your everyday ordinary meal, but foods like manicotti, lasagna, bang bang coconut shrimp, twice-baked potatoes, chicken cacciatore, scallops with buerre blanc sauce (I don't even know what that is... but it is good), spaghetti and meatballs, chili, roasts, steaks... and his pork dish with sauerkraut and beer with dumplings? It's to die for.
     Did I mention his desserts? Apple Pie, Apple Crostata, Baklava, Tiramisu... and he can whip up a mean milkshake on a moment's notice.
     But there he was... sick... each day... taking his temperature, coughing, wheezing and sleeping while I was going hungry. Cheryl was running up and down the steps and seeing what Noah needed! (For full effect, say that last line in an overprotective, nasally kind of voice).
     I love my wife and everything, but there are times when she only thinks about herself.
     What about me?
     Who is making my dinner? I typically forgo breakfast, and since Lent started, I only eat soup or salads for lunch. Dinner has become more important to me now than at any other point in my life. Coming home and seeing what Noah is making for dinner is like Christmas morning every evening. Sometimes it is like getting a new bike... sometimes it is like getting a frisbee... and sometimes it is like getting new clothes... But it's always delicious!!!
     But not this week.
     No... this week I got Wendy's burgers, Chinese food, and Ledo's pizza. That food is good, but is not Christmas morning... that food is like Columbus Day. You know, it is kind of nice to have the day off, but it doesn't really mean anything.
     And it is not as if Cheryl can't cook. It's just that... how can I say this without offending her?... Noah is better. And he enjoys doing it so much more than she. He loves the whole process of preparing and presenting his meals.
     Both yummy and aesthetically pleasing! What else could you ask for?
     I know... a kid/chef who isn't sick.
     Things started to break my way on Tuesday when, after a weeklong fever, Noah's temperature finally fell below 100 degrees. I argued that this constituted a full recovery, insisting that he could ease back into things with some French toast. Cheryl, of course, continued to rain on my little bit of sunshine and insisted that he was still sick and still has a terrible cough!  If he makes you dinner, you might get sick.
     That is a risk I am willing to take. Besides, he lies on my side of the bed... on my pillows... for seven days straight... and you never bat an eye... and now you are concerned that I might catch his cold? You Madam are jealous! 
     You, sir... are a total goofball! The boy is sick, and he is staying put... on your side of the bed... coughing on your pillows!    
     I thought to myself... when did she get a nursing degree? And am I ever going to get a Noah-cooked meal again?
     Wednesday, Noah was back to his old self with only a lingering cough. It was a cough that I could live with. Unfortunately, Cheryl had gone out for the afternoon, and there was a possibility that we were going to meet her out for dinner... so no food was prepared.
     Cheryl thought better of everyone going out to eat, so instead, brought home... you guessed it... Wendy's.
     After dinner, Noah pulled out a recipe for chicken pot pie. The planets were starting to re-align... and nothing was going to stop me... er... uh... I mean, Noah. Except... at 9:30, right before bedtime, I was advised that we were out of chicken.
     Not wanting to disappoint the lad, I made a late night trek out to the grocery store and saved the day. You know, as I write this, I think that Cheryl could learn a little bit about giving of herself by the example that I set.
     I am happy to report that the very next day we polished off a delicious chicken pot pie with the chicken that I purchased... made with Noah's signature homemade pie crust.
     All is good in the world... except that Matthew is feeling better too. Not that Matthew feeling better is a bad thing... I suppose. It is just that this isn't about Matthew... it is about me. And now that Matthew is feeling better, I have to start chauffeuring him all around town again.
     Oh well, God opens one door and he shuts another. At least I will be driving Matthew around on a full stomach.  
     Life is good!
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