The most wonderful time of the year

When we last left our heroes…

Peter’s adjusted age was not yet 24 months.  I had not yet finished my rotation at Athol Memorial Hospital.  It was still apple picking season.  And my parents had not visited our home in 16 months (if I remember correctly).

I meant to update my blog during October, when I had four weeks off from rotations and classes.    Obviously, that didn’t happen, but I would still like to think that I had a productive month.  I was inducted into the UMass NICU Parent Family Advisory Committee as a parent member.  I attempted to make 32 baby books for parents of micropreemies at UMass (and succeeded in making 26 that passed quality control).  I made some adorable beaded snowflake ornaments for Christmas and spooky cheesecloth ghosts for Halloween.   I also revised a draft of what I hope will be the first publication of my pharmacy career.  Finally, I completed a few minor projects around the house and planned a fabulous weekend excursion to Maine with my parents.

Hurricane Sandy curtailed my parents’ visit, but we still had a lovely time visiting the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, Maine Mead Works, and Portland Museum of Art.  We stayed overnight in Portland and strolled through the Old Port the following morning.  I gave Peter the option of visiting a farm or a lighthouse or heading home at lunchtime.  He chose to head home, clearly indicating that he was exhausted from the previous day’s excitement.  It ended up being a good thing that we headed home early because as soon as we were home, my parents discovered that they needed to leave NOW or they would risk not making it back to Minnesota at all.  (Or at least not until Hurricane Sandy had finished wreaking havoc on New England flight schedules.)

My first day of school was cancelled due to Sandy.  At first I thought the cancellation was premature (remembering that Hurricane Irene was hardly more than a windy thunderstorm by the time she reached central Massachusetts), but my opinion changed when the winds set in that afternoon.  We didn’t lose power, but I felt very sorry for the postal workers who were expected to continue delivering mail through the mess.  What’s the point of delivering the mail if the weather is too nasty for me to venture out to my mailbox to retrieve it?

Thankfully, the weather cleared up just in time for Halloween, and despite his initial skepticism, Peter decided that the holiday was good fun, after all.  We walked around the block and sheepishly collected candy from a few of our neighbors before the sun set.  Afterwards, we had dinner and passed out over 200 pieces of candy to local children.  I guess I need not have felt bad about the dozen or so pieces of candy I helped Peter collect…?

November was Prematurity Awareness Month, and I celebrated with daily facebook status updates featuring NICU alumni of various gestations and birth weights.  November was also American Diabetes Month, and I organized a few diabetes-related events at my school to promote diabetes awareness: a seminar presented by a camp coordinator from the Barton Center for Diabetes Education, a day of volunteering at Clara Barton Camp, and a seminar presented by the clinical coordinator of diabetes education at UMass Memorial’s Diabetes Center of Excellence.

Our oven broke four days before Thanksgiving (and one day after buying a turkey), but we were able to fix it with a replacement part.  We ended up visiting friends in Cambridge on Thanksgiving Day and inviting other friends for a belated Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, after our oven was up and running again.  I tried to get caught up with my studies over the break so that I would be ready for finals at the beginning of December.

The first half of December was a little rough.  During a quick visit to Cambridge to celebrate a friend’s doctoral thesis defense, we lost Peter’s beloved blue blanket.  Then Peter fell ill with a flu-like virus.  Then Son and Peter were rear-ended while waiting at a red stop light.  Then I worked very hard to get an ‘A’ in therapeutics, but fell just below the A/A- cutoff after the final exam.  (The brand names killed me.)  Then our insurance deemed our car to be a total loss.   Then my brother rear-ended someone.  Then my grandmother rear-ended someone.  Then my brother got ‘C’s in calculus and biology and decided to transfer from the University of Minnesota to Normandale Community College.

This past week went much more smoothly, thankfully.  Friday of last week, Peter had fun meeting Santa at day care.  Peter also thoroughly enjoyed the video message Santa sent him (he insisted on watching it five times).  Grandma, Uncle Kyle, and Aunt Kelly arrived from Minnesota on Christmas Eve, and Grandpa arrived on Christmas Day.  Peter received a Kindle Fire for Christmas, Dad received a multifunction laser printer (that I still have not been able to successfully set up), and I received an iPod shuffle (that I still have not tried to use).  We took a little road trip to Vermont the day after Christmas and contributed generously to the artist community of southern Vermont by purchasing several wood-fired pieces of pottery and a linocut print.  We made it home just as the snow started falling that evening, before the roads got too slick.

Finding ourselves buried in 8ish inches of snow the next morning, we decided to stay close to home.  A fine mist continued falling throughout the day, and we contented ourselves with a trip to the local antique mall, library, and grocery store.

Friday was a chilly but sunny day, so we visited Lowell to see the Boott Mill Museum and other sites included in Lowell National Historical Park.  The museum had functioning looms that were tended by two experienced mill workers.  Only thirteen of the hundred or so looms were operating, but that was enough to deafen visitors and shake the upper floors of the building.  None of the accounts I’ve read of work in 19th century textile mills seem to have been exaggerated.

I drove my family back to Logan in our sexy 2012 Mazda3 i touring this morning, and another snow storm arrived this afternoon.  I’m pleased with the new car’s performance – it’s a happy engine on the freeway and averages 38 mpg with Mazda’s new SkyActive technology.  We were debating whether to get a new 2012 Honda Civic or a certified used 2012 Mazda3.  They were comparably priced, but we decided to go with the Mazda because it has a bigger engine (1.8 L versus 2.0 L) and a nicer ride.  So after the trauma of having our Hyundai totaled, things seem to have worked out for the best: we were able to use our settlement money to remove our PMI by paying down our mortgage to 78% of the purchase value, and we were able to upgrade our 2008 Hyundai to something a little sexier and more fuel-efficient.

I suppose that’s an adequate summary of the past three months.  Now for some photos:

NICU Chronicles - first edition

NICU Chronicles – first edition

Christmas ornaments 2012

P1030632

P1030650

First snowfall - November 2012

Christmas tree 2012

Peter and Santa 2012

Peter and Grandma

Peter and Grandma

December 29, 2012

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