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Showing posts from October, 2011

Apologies from the library

I work in customer service so I like to point out the good when I see it. Especially companies and organizations who make up for their mistakes or errors well.

There was a slight problem the other day when I wrote to my local library's Ask A Librarian chat feature with a reference question...there was no librarian on the other end. lol

I did the feedback survey and this was the mail I got in return. Good job OPPL! Thanks for the explanation, at least.


We're very sorry you didn't receive service when you tried to use the chat widget on our website. The 24/7 chat service is provided by a nationwide cooperative of librarians who pick up questions for other libraries when their staff aren't monitoring the service--it is (usually!) a wonderful way to provide a service that any one library couldn't provide on its own. We didn't have any Oak Park staff logged in to the chat service when you asked your question, and I don't know why no other chatting librarian…

The new normal

It's 7am and I'm waiting for my son to get up. This is late for him. 6am would be more normal but I think he had a rough night. I say "I think" because he wasn't a complainer too much about it. I heard a few squawks but mostly he rolled over and tried to go back to sleep like a big boy.

Kelly is already gone and has been since 5:30am. Our new schedule will give you an idea of the chaos lately.

4:30am--Kelly wakes up to pump
5:30am --Kelly leaves for the hospital
6am--Leda feeding, Cole wakes up at home
7am--Breakfast with dad
8am--Kelly arrives back home

We're not allowed in the NICU between 9am-12pm for rounds. So all daily activity must happen between Kelly arriving home and me leaving at 2:15pm.

9am--Dog walk hopefully while Cole naps
10am--Everybody gets dressed and showered
11am--Errands, phone calls to insurance, etc..
12pm--Lunch, our new "dinner" since this is the only meal we all eat together
1pm--Cole nap
2:15pm--Dad leaves for hospital

Creating a better NICU -- revisited

It's on my mind and it's looking closer and closer to bringing Leda home, so might as well post a few things before it's too crazy...

I don't want the issue of families in the NICU to really move to my back burner though. We've already discussed that, as a family, we'd like to do some fundraising races for March of Dimes, etc. And it should also be said that I want to give Loyola a fair shot at responding so I won't give them a full rant. For all I know, they're like many hospitals and currently planning a redesign of their facilities.

After a couple discussions, some research of what others are doing in the region/nation, and more experience with our current hospital though, I'm not happy with the way families are treated at "ours." I can't say my daughter has received bad care. I'll give them a C. But it borders on a lower grade when you consider that I haven't been exactly getting the idea that they're cutting edge, brea…

The sucky thing about being a NICU parent

Your kid is either fine or not fine. And you know the difference. That little rush of blood when there is a rush of doctors lets you know where you stand. Obviously, your kid isn't "fine" or they wouldn't be in neonatal intensive care. But there definitely comes a point when you come to face reality and it isn't so bad. It's still your kid, your heart.

And the worst part of being in the NICU isn't the sick babies. Don't get me wrong, it's heartbreaking. I'm guessing the hardest part for the parents is the little stuff though. Kelly and I consider ourselves strong people so if it gets to us then it has to be even worse for the families there longer, with sicker kids, who have farther to drive, less time to visit, etc..

Because the absolute height of frustration is that someone else is parenting your child. She was supposed to be home and, as the parent, you really do know best. Especially if you have other kids you know what I'm talking abo…

Suggestions for creating a better NICU (draft)

A word about the's a rough draft of what I hope is an ongoing discussion in the community about creating a better Neonatal Intensive Care environment for babies, parents, and medical staff. It comes from experience as a parent and the only experience I have is with the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago--a 50 bed, Level III facility that is one of the best in the nation. My daughter got amazing care, but even the strongest families can suffer with stays that last weeks or even months.

Some of the following suggestions are simple. Some are not. My plan is to forward them to various sources when I feel that the list is more complete. They are in no particular order.

Parents should receive, at bedside (or online), a daily summary of their baby's day for easy reference.Bed areas should have curtains for privacy during family visits and perhaps a more homelike feel with rocker, chairs, table, etc..For longer stays, mom and dad should have easier access to the…

Leda update

Big update on Leda today that was just too much for FB or Twitter. So welcome if you're new to the blog. Feel free to stay and read a little more if you'd like. Sorry for the medical jargon, but it's our world right now.

She was doing great yesterday. Nursing, taking feedings by bottle, drinking what she should. A couple mild episodes but her temp was great and she's gained back weight to 5 lbs. 1 oz. So I'd already told myself that today may be a "down" day because she worked so hard earlier.

But overnight she had a series of about 6 low heart rate and breathing desats that kind of exploded us into a series of forks in the road now...

They opted to re-dose her with caffeine because the episodes were at the end of where last week's would have worn off. Unfortunately, that automatically (maybe) adds 2 more weeks to her NICU stay because they need to wait the week of the caffeine--she will get maintenance doses this time--plus an extra week to see how s…

The last place you want to go

I love science. This is not a rant against science. I work in a science museum for goodness sake. I want us to improve our science test scores, believe more in evolution and less in people riding dinosaurs a la Flintstones, and use technology to save our planet and humanity.

But I'm also of the growing opinion that a hospital is the last place I'd want to go if I was actually sick.

Last night Kelly asked me if I think a Higher Power is acting on behalf of Leda and when I answered yes she laughed a little because I'm not spiritual. I corrected her--I'm not religious. I don't like when things get institutionalized. I don't like when people or organizations resist change.

And a little lot of what we're experiencing in the NICU has to do with simple human traits. We're set in our ways and we're flawed people. The hospital is no different. Leda's care and our experience as parents has so much to do with who her nurse is for 12 hours or 8 hours. The o…

Preemie awareness

November will be Prematurity Awareness Month and Nov 17, the day before Leda's due date, is World Prematurity Day. Worldwide every year, 13 million babies are born early and 500,000 of them are in the US. That's 1 in 8 and the rate has risen 36% over the last 25 yrs. It costs $26 billion a year and is the #1 killer of newborns. The US receives a grade of D in premature infant care and no state receives higher than a C.

Please check out some of the following. Give if you can. Share, support, and keep the families of NICU babies in your thoughts & prayers. We're the lucky ones, but there are plenty of little Leda's friends who will be staying a lot longer or not coming home. 

March of Dimes Foundation

Preemie Voices

Graham's Foundation

Illinois Premature Infant Health Network (IPIHN)

World Prematurity Day on Facebook

What a week

Wow, it's been a little crazy. Last week's early-morning volunteering at the marathon I had no clue what was ahead. And it's funny looking at my neglected blog admin page seeing an unpublished draft about how our daughter was breech. We'll just go ahead and delete that. lol

So, little Leda was born last Monday on 10/10/11. What a great birth date. Six weeks early, but we're guessing she's just going to be the difficult one all her life. Heh.

We were sitting in Giordano's eating some pizza when Kelly ever-so-casually mentioned that her water may have broken. Should we call the doctor? Umm, yeah. But we didn't have any of this experience with my son. He was induced and it was a leisurely trip to Starbucks the morning before we started his (much more difficult) labor and delivery.

But now we have a new tradition for her birthday. Pizza the day before every year!

I have so much to say...about the unorganized volunteer setup for the Chicago Marathon last wee…

Happy Chicago Marathon!

By the time you're reading this, I'm in Grant Park helping runners find the Start Line. And wishing I was racing today. I'll never forget the first time I stood on a chilly, early morning Columbus Drive staring at the skyline as the sun came up while I was trying to imagine making it the whole way.

I've learned a lot since then and grown pretty passionate about the sport. It's not unlike coffee in that the deeper involved you get the more refined your tastes get.

This year, the race expo and packet pickup moved to an even bigger hall at the convention center. Which, to me, looked like all you really got was an even larger Nike store. Not that Nike doesn't make some fine gear--I use their watch and love their running shorts. But my interest in the culture of marathon racing has gone beyond wanting to see a few booths of other races and buy a t-shirt. Given the size and importance of this race, I was really hoping to see a lot more of the nutrition and hydration …

Primary caregiver vs. coming-home parent?

Ok enough with the non-kid stuff. Back to parenting!

Kelly and I had a few interesting thoughts when I came home from my Dad Night away this evening. Kelly has turned into the "dad" who comes home after a day of work and Cole loves on her. They play new games; he's a maniac. I feel like he likes her more...ridiculous and not true. But considering she used to feel unloved--or at least less enjoyed than me--it is a pretty hard turnaround in his feelings and actions towards her. He loves his mom.

To be fair, I get to have the baths, the lunches, the playground trips. And we have wonderful days. In fact, all that time together as his primary caregiver means he is...used to me. I'm dad. I'm cool and fun but I also enforce rules and wash his face and tell him what toys he can and can't have. I'm much more the pragmatic one while mom gets her 2 hours after she gets home before he goes to bed. It's party city.

Just an observation. I think it also has to do wi…

Some thoughts on Minnesota...

It's amazing how after a trip it takes a week to recover and then you've got another week's worth of material in your head!

I've been to Minnesota twice now...once may or may not have been coherent after wisdom tooth extraction complications. Anyway, I'm convinced Minnesotans are a special breed and they want to keep their paradise a secret.

Because, honestly, I doubt many of you out there have ever thought of Minnesota as more than a cold, snowy (coldest urban area in the nation) folksy place where not much really happens. Maybe I need to visit again in the winter before I pass judgment? Maybe.

But did you know that Twin Cities is actually the 15th largest metro area in the US? Home to the oldest operating Ford plant from 1924? And that Minnesota has voted for Democratic Presidential candidates since 1976, longer than any other state? Or that 78.2% of eligible voters took part in the last Presidential election?

It's this populist progressive streak that has me…

Coffee table

I'm still playing around with ideas and this feature in particular may go through several incarnations. For now, it's just a frequent, tagged blog post you can (hopefully) easily find from the homepage. I'd love to make it a separate tab (along with marathon running) since it really isn't dad-related. But Blogger apparently doesn't want me blog-within-a-blogging. So then my other choice would be to just start a linked coffee blog. But that seems like a lot more difficult solution to an easy problem.

I have a new grinder that I got before the marathon which sat in its box until I got back. But I've used it 3 days now and am quite happy with it. It's a very cheap burr mill for $15 from Target. Not anything the espresso crowd would use, but I'm a pretty solid drip-brew guy. It delivers a very consistent grind, all things considered. While we were in MN, I had the use of a Kitchen Aid blade grinder. Well-built, expensive, very nice. And it delivered a very …

30th Anniversary Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Everything I have to say about running TCM has to be viewed through the lens of how difficult a marathon is whether you're Kenyan or a turtle-slow middle aged guy. I suppose the very thing that made the race great was also the most frustrating--that it very nearly could have been my best. I was coming off a hot, uphill 5:05 with less training than I like, but armed with near-perfect conditions for the start of this race. It was in the 40's, slightly breezy, lots of shade and I hit the halfway mark a full five minutes under a 5 hour pace. Heck, at Mile 17 I was still on pace for a 4:57. The start of the race is at the Metrodome and has a great atmosphere as it winds through downtown Minneapolis, quiet residential neighborhoods, past a series of lakes, and along a parkway towards St. Paul.

But somewhere around the Mississippi River, the sun came out, the temps soared into the 70's, and the course makes a series of uphill climbs towards the state capital. As we ran through St…

Marathon weekend wrapup -- Part I

Pooping, some Cheerios, and Sesame Street seems to have Cole right back on routine after travel. This post may have to be divided into a couple parts given the variety of topics so let's just get started.

But first, a few housekeeping notes...

There's a new layout to the blog that you may have noticed. Rather than all the "extras" running down the right side in one long section, I've split them up with the main body in the center. To the right are more profile-ish pieces of info while on the left are the more practical blog-related tools. You'll notice along with a more streamlined archives is a label tool that will allow readers to more easily find related topics. I had originally intended to create 3 separate areas for parenting, coffee, and running but, alas, Blogger doesn't appear to support this concept. So if you want to read all my posts on marathons or brewing techniques just click whatever's over there. 
Now, back to the show.
This pa…