One Week In!

Last week was the start of in-person kindergarten for Little Miss Minion and the start of my second semester of nursing school.

Little Miss Minion loves being in-person. I walk her to school, since we aren’t too far away. My classes are still virtual, so I put my earbuds in and listen to lecture while I walk. We drove her on the first day, since it was pouring rain. Then it snowed the next day. All the snow is gone now, but its been raining for two days, so she’s gotten a lot of use from the rainboots I bought her in preparation for walking. She gets to bring her backpack and her water bottle, and she is very excited about her cubby and her table spot. She has brought her lunch a couple times and “bought” her lunch (lunch is free through the end of this year for our district) a couple times. About half the kids from her virtual class switched over to in-person, so she isn’t starting totally from scratch in terms of knowing people. And one of the girls from her Girl Scouts is in her class too, so that helps.

My school stuff is starting slow, but my schedule is PACKED for the rest of the semester. I have way more clinical hours now, we are participating in a mass vaccination clinic, and I have a heavier academic load of lecture as well. We *could* be taking care of Covid patients during the medsurg part of clinical, so I got fitted for my N95 masks the other day. I also got my second dose of the Covid vaccine on Friday. More details in a minute. It looks like we do 12 days of medsurg clinicals, 4 days (12 hour shifts) of pediatric clinicals, and 4 days of mental health clinicals. There is more paperwork to be done for these clinicals as well, so I anticipate I’ll be doing that for most of the weekends. Due to Covid, there are no spinoffs, so I won’t get to see the PICU or NICU.

Vaccine details: The hospital system that I volunteer with includes their volunteers as “patient facing” personnel, so I was able to get the vaccine through them. I suspected that we would either be working with Covid patients during clinical or the odds of caring for someone who was positive would be way up this semester, so I signed up. I got the Pfizer vaccine. The first dose resulted in a sore injection site, very similar to the flu shot. My upper arm was sore for maybe 4-6 hours and I had no other side effects. My second shot was Friday. I had no real injection site soreness at all, and woke up yesterday feeling a little off. I had a slight headache (but I was already getting one prior to the shot-I get migraines, so this is not really notable), and my back hurt a little. I took some ibuprofen and felt much better. Today, I am totally back to normal except for what I assume are swollen lymph nodes in my left armpit (I got the injection in my left arm). Definitely was not expecting that one! It doesn’t really hurt unless I slide my arm back and forth, but it sure looks and feels interesting. Today, I learned that lymph nodes are not actually IN your armpit, they are slightly higher and toward the center of your body. I signed up for the CDC side effect tracking program, so I report all my side effects/how I’m feeling every day for a week following the shot and then once a week after that. I am excited to see the data on this after its released.

My school is doing a vaccine clinic every week for the next couple of weeks and my first turn is this week. I’m officially a vaccinator! They assigned us positions so some of us will be vaccinators, some will be doing intake paperwork and assessments, some will be walking the clients to the vaccinator stations, some will be monitoring the waiting area for any possible reactions. We get lunch provided (always a good sign), and it sounded like the group that went last week had a great time. I’m so excited to be able to actually help administer these vaccines and help stop the spread. Bonus: I’m going to get really good at giving intramuscular deltoid injections. We have practiced in the lab, but I have only given one shot to a real person so far, and it was subQ (subcutaneous).

Busy, busy, busy…as always.

Time Flies…

First of all–updates on the Minion Family:

Mrs. Minion: The first semester of nursing school is officially over and your favorite future nurse has a 4.0! I actually scored a 98.11% in the class, so this wasn’t even a close call. The lowest “A” grade is a 93%, so I am solidly in the A zone. Scored the highest grade on 3/5 tests, plus the highest grade on the final. Yes, I’m bragging, but I’m pretty proud of myself. Virtual nursing school while facilitating virtual kindergarten is no joke.

Little Miss Minion: We have also made it to Christmas break in virtual kindergarten world! Little Miss Minion is doing pretty well, and can navigate her computer with very little prompting from me. She’s learning sight words and can recognize a decent amount of them. They do writing, math, and phonics every day, and she’s catching on pretty quickly. Getting her to sit still is sometimes a challenge, but I remember having similar struggles when I was in kindergarten. The good news is that she seems to be picking up on math better than I did. 😉 And she started Girl Scouts, although that is currently on hiatus since Covid cases here are through the roof. If you want to buy cookies, hit me up on Facebook or via email (my first and last name @ hotmail–no stalkers please. You’ll have to already know my real name😁 ). Santa brought her a scooter, so that has been entertaining to watch. She’s left footed–which is interesting to me, since she’s still writing with both hands. I’m thinking there’s a good chance she might end up being a leftie after all.

Mr. Minion: Apart from being an awesome husband and a fantastic dad, he put a gate into our back fence for easier access to some walking paths and trails. The downside of this is that we have one less excuse to go walking. He also built a custom laptop stand for me to use during class, so I can elevate my computer to a more comfortable position and still put notebooks underneath. Since I’m doing school on two tray tables, every spare inch of space counts. He also made a cookie extravaganza with Little Miss Minion for Christmas. Chocolate chip, M&M, bourbon sables (my new favorite), peanut brittle, snickerdoodles, and chocolate nests. So many cookies!!!

Since we didn’t see anyone for Christmas, I decided to try and make it extra special by making Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon for dinner on Christmas. The long way, not my crockpot shortcut. It was delicious. While we were trying to decide on the menu for Christmas, Mr Minion suggested making something from his Titanic Cookbook. After a moment of consideration, we decided that there was no better way to throw out 2020 than by making the last meal on the Titanic on New Year’s Eve. 🤣

Upcoming Events:

  • I get the first dose of the Covid vaccine in January, thanks to the hospital I volunteer with. They consider volunteers as employees for the purposes of health requirements, so I signed up. There are two doses, and I will definitely report back with my experience. I’m so excited to get vaccinated and be able to go out in public again without worrying about bringing this virus to someone who won’t be able to fight it off. Clinicals will also be way less stressful.
  • Semester 2 begins in a few weeks. A friend who is a couple semesters ahead of me in the program called this semester “hell on earth” so I’m really looking forward to it. 😑
  • The official 2020 summary of the books I’ve read this year will be coming soon. I set a goal of 52 books, one per week. I have crushed that goal, mostly due to the fact that we couldn’t go anywhere for most of the year.

Here’s to 2021 (almost)!

One week down!

We’ve survived the first week of virtual kindergarten! I have to say, it went much smoother than I was anticipating.

Her daily schedule usually looks like this: morning check in form, breakout room chat with friends (she’s getting better about talking to her “new friends” on the computer), then they talk about the calendar and what day of the month and week it is. Then they have an activity and a little break. Then they do a few more activities and then it’s time for lunch and recess. After lunch, they do a class read along, then an activity, then art class. After art is recess again, plus quiet time. They meet again for check out at the end of the day.

The activities have been really fun. They do a dance party where the teacher plays a song about counting and they all dance, they listen to books, they do drawings in art, she had to go outside and spell her name with random stuff in the backyard.

Little Miss Minion is learning to use a mouse too, since I have to help her navigate. We have a tiny mouse that fits her hand so why not? She does some of her activities on my iPad through some app that links to her teacher. They are having a supply pickup this week with all kinds of physical materials like workbooks and stuff. We are also getting a hotspot, which should help with us both being able to zoom at the same time.

Which brings me to another point: 3 weeks of nursing school are finished! Our first test is Monday (we have two days to schedule them through a proctoring company). Should be interesting…

The Night Before Kindergarten

It seems impossible that five years ago, we were dealing with Little Miss Minion’s second shunt surgery and had two more to go in the next couple of months. Tomorrow, LMM will have her first day of kindergarten.

It isn’t what we thought it would be. She won’t be riding the school bus-she’ll be walking downstairs to our classroom area. She will meet her classmates and see her teacher on the computer. Lunch will be at home and recess will be held in the backyard.

She knows people are getting sick and that’s why we have to stay home most of the time. She knows we wear a mask over our faces when we do go out because we don’t want to get other people sick. Since she has no idea what she’s missing, I think this is a pretty good year for virtual school.

So tonight, we will talk more about kindergarten and what will happen tomorrow. We will tell her about how she’s going to learn so much and see new friends on the computer. How one day, she will get to see them at school. She’s going to learn to read, how to write, and how to do math.

She’s also learning to be flexible. This is not how I pictured her first day of kindergarten. But this is what her first day will be. I am not going to waste time wishing it was different. I am going to enjoy the fact that my 1 pound 14 ounce Preemie is about to start school just like every other five year old. She’s making new friends just like everyone else. She’s learning new things like everyone else. She’s learning to adapt and roll with changes. Things don’t always turn out how you think they will, but the way you think something will turn out can change what happens. She’s learning that a positive attitude is a good thing to have.

To all the kids starting school (and their parents and teachers): we will get through this together.

Back to School…?

Our local school district gave two options for this year’s school year: 100% virtual or 100% in person. After weeks of debating the merits of all the options we heard about around the country and after one week of carefully considering the actual options presented by the school, we made the decision to keep Little Miss Minion home this semester for virtual kindergarten. I am in no way saying that this is the best choice. All the options suck, for everyone. Everyone wants the best for their kids, and I fully acknowledge that we are lucky to have this option. So I write this post with the disclaimer that it contains my personal opinions and observations about our particular situation.

To the parents who are sending their kids back to school in person—you made a great choice.

To the parents who are keeping your kids home to go virtual—you made a great choice.

To the parents who are pulling their kids from the districts and doing homeschool on their own—you made a great choice.

Little Miss Minion’s pediatrician said that her lungs have likely matured to where they should be, given her respiratory illness history over the past two years. I don’t want to test this theory, but two winters ago, she had a runny nose that lasted approximately 12 hours and gave the bug to me, where it turned into a double ear infection, bronchitis, infection-induced asthma, and almost pneumonia. So clearly her lungs work better than mine on certain things. 😂 The doctor also said that she recommends mask wearing, frequent hand washing, and social distancing wherever possible to reduce the chances of catching or spreading the virus.

The fact remains that the county we live in is seeing a large uptick in cases. The schools have developed a rigorous list of precautions that will be put into place to prevent transmission. The combination of these two facts is going to make (in my opinion) a very unstable situation for consistent education. Between students being sent home for every runny nose, fever, cough, sore throat, headache, stomachache, and generally not feeling well, the teachers and staff will also be held to the same standard. Any symptoms will require a 72 hour quarantine at home after the symptoms are gone without medication. So if a student is sent home on Monday for a fever and the fever disappears the moment they exit school property, that student is not allowed back until Friday. Same thing for teachers. It is only a matter of time before there are either not enough staff to cover the students or not enough students to justify staying open.

The way we saw it, it was not so much a question of virtual or in person. It was a question of her being home from the start, with a consistent schedule and organized setup, or going to school for a few weeks, then getting sent home for a few days, then going back with a new teacher, then being sent home again, and then having to continually arrange a space and provide structure.

We are incredibly lucky that I was already planning on being home for nursing school. We were able to create a space in our basement for a shared classroom. One side is the Minion Kindergarten Academy and the other is Virtual Nursing School. The kindergarten side looks pretty good so far. The nursing side needs a little work—I had been planning on working in our office. I do have an amazing computer shelf that Mr Minion made for me to set my computer on during class. I also made a tea table area over by Miss Minion’s playroom. I’m going to move one of our kettles down there, along with a selection of tea, cups and saucers, and space for a thermos of ice—Miss Minion doesn’t like to wait for her tea to cool.

We are also incredibly lucky to have Mr Minion’s parents able to assist. With him at work, and my clinicals schedule still up in the air, they will be able to take her on those days and continue her virtual school at their house, since school goes wherever her computer goes.

We’ve had a lot of “it shouldn’t have gone this way” in our lives with Little Miss Minion. From her complicated birth, to her infection in the NICU, to her hydrocephalus, to coming home and not being able to have her around people…the list goes on. We are used to it by now, but that doesn’t make it easier.

Summer Update

It has been an interesting summer here at the Minion House. We’ve had lots of walks, lots of time “at the pool” in the backyard (kiddie pool), gardening, tomato picking, and more recently, our area has had an explosion of Covid cases for reasons I can’t get into without wanting to throw my computer through the nearest window. This recent burst of activity has thrown a wrench into the local school district’s reopening plans, and is also impacting my nursing program’s plans.

The official plan for Little Miss Minion’s school won’t be coming out until this week and we will have one week to choose which option we want to do. It sounds like there will be an all in person plan, a hybrid plan, and an all virtual plan. The district has not mentioned what the protocols will be for transportation of kids, eating lunch, bathrooms, masks, etc., but these will hopefully be addressed in the official plan. I’m curious to know what the procedures for a sick child will look like as well, since children do tend to be germ factories even when there is not a global pandemic happening. And does Little Miss Minion still have preemie lungs and a depressed immune system? I don’t want to use this disease as the test.

My school is also altering the plans, but I don’t have a clear picture of what that will look like yet. They have mentioned livestreaming lectures with the option to come in person, virtual labs with in person check off days for skills, and generally trying to give everyone the option to go online where possible. It sounds like clinical days will remain the same, but the partner hospitals have to agree and I don’t know if many of the local ones have enough PPE for their employees, let alone a bunch of students who can’t really do much in terms of patient care. They hope to have more information released this week as well.

Soapbox Moment

As a preemie mom, this pandemic is bringing back much of the same feelings that I had when we were in isolation after Little Miss Minion got out of the NICU. The silver lining of this whole situation is that our household is uniquely prepared for hunkering down, away from germs. We are used to not going to the store as a family. We don’t usually congregate in large groups of people. I have a weekly disinfecting schedule for our house. I did these things because I wanted to keep my child healthy and out of the hospital.

When I hear stories about how people are completely disregarding the recommended safety procedures because they think it is a hoax to take down a certain president, I see red. They clearly haven’t had anyone they know get sick from it (I have). They don’t know of anyone who has died from it (I do). The fact that people are refusing to wear a mask is just absolutely astonishing to me. Masks do nothing for the person wearing them, at least the ones that non-healthcare people have. The average mask is meant to contain droplets that could contain the virus. If I do wear a mask, I am keeping my droplets from coming out into the general area around me. If you are not wearing a mask, your droplets can spray all over the place and become a source of infection for other people. People who are not wearing a mask are essentially saying that they don’t care about spreading disease. They don’t care about YOU.

Some tips for reducing your exposure from a Preemie Mom who has been there:

  1. If you have to go out, WEAR A MASK! There are very few legitimate reasons for not wearing one. If my five year old can wear one, so can you. If you can’t wear one, STAY HOME.
  2. Stay home unless you have to go out. Please note that there is a difference between HAVE TO and WANT TO. You have to buy groceries. You don’t have to browse the sale shelves or make multiple stops because the store is out of your favorite brand of cereal. Deal with it. If you can order something online, do it. Most places have free shipping.
  3. If you do have to go out, make it a quick, solo trip. You don’t need your whole family to come with you. You don’t need your spouse to come with you to the grocery store. Make a list. Get in and get out. Get everything at one place, even if this means you have to do without your favorite brand or a sale item from another store.
  4. Just because you are “out” doesn’t mean that this experience counts as one exposure. Every store you set foot into is another chance to spread the virus if you are asymptomatic, or to become infected. If you don’t NEED it, do without.
  5. Be smart about your surroundings. If many other people around you in the store are not wearing a mask, get out of the store.
  6. If you have ANY symptoms of illness, STAY HOME. I’m always infuriated by how many people have told me “its just allergies” and then they turn out to have a cold or the flu, especially when we were isolating with Little Miss Minion.
  7. When you get home, take your shoes off. Launder your mask. Wash your hands with soap. Don’t rely on hand sanitizer unless you don’t have access to soap and water. Soap is better.

The thing that makes me the most angry about this whole thing is the secondary toll that the surges are taking. Irresponsible behavior and the refusal to wear masks leads to a rise in cases, which leads to a rise in hospital beds being occupied. If all the ICU beds in an city are full of Covid patients, there is no room for the pedestrian who got hit by a car on their walk to the bus stop. There is no room for the person who is having a heart attack. There is no room for the cancer patient who is having a reaction to an unrelated virus because their immune system is already shot.

For Little Miss Minion’s last shunt surgery, we waited in the ER for several hours before a bed in the PICU opened up. And it turned out that it wasn’t even a true PICU bed, it was an overflow area that is usually reserved for pediatric cardiac patients. And that wasn’t during a pandemic. If pediatric cases increase, which they probably will if schools reopen without proper protocol, there might not be beds available for unrelated things like shunt surgeries.

Stay safe and healthy!

Don’t forget your mask!

Little Miss Minion: Volume 5

Yesterday was Little Miss Minion’s fifth birthday! I can’t believe it has already been five whole years since she was born.

Since we couldn’t have a regular party like we normally would have, the plan was to have a Yes Day and try to meet up with people on Zoom to sing happy birthday. Mr Minion took the day off from work and went out to get donuts for breakfast. After that, she got herself dressed in her Snow White dress and watched tv. She got bored of Snow White after a while and decided to be a pirate princess instead. About an hour later, it was time for Snow White again. Around noon, we had a special visitor—Nurse J from the NICU!

Little Miss Minion had requested a steak dinner, so we happily obliged and Mr Minion grilled some of the best steaks I’ve ever had. After dinner, we fired up the computer and Zoomed with friends and family to wish her a happy birthday and sing before she blew out her candles.

After cake and such a busy day, she was full of energy (and sugar), so we went for a walk in full Snow White regalia, plus a new Frozen baseball hat. I’m sure the neighborhood wasn’t expecting a Royal parade. 🙂

Today was a rude awakening, as Princess Minion realized that it was no longer her birthday and she had to do her normal daily things, like pick up after herself and not have cake for lunch. She’s so deprived.

Excitement!

Its been almost a month since my last entry and there are lots of new things to share. My seeds have all sprouted and I planted the tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and sweet peppers outside. We added a little border to our patio and planted some flowers in it. The broccoli and green bean bushes are almost ready to be transplanted outside, with the cucumbers soon to follow. We are supposed to get a lot of rain this week, so I don’t want to drown them. I would like them to be a little bigger before I stick them out in the elements. I’ve got zucchini that will be ready to go outside too, plus romaine lettuce.

 

Another new addition to our backyard is a playhouse for Little Miss Minion. A neighbor on the other side of our backyard offered it to us, so over the weekend, Mr Minion and his dad moved it through two gates and over a fence (with some help from awesome neighbors). The playhouse made it over in one piece and Mr Minion put it back together. It had a slide, which we kept, but also had monkey bars and a swing extension that wouldn’t fit in the yard. He took pieces off of those to reinforce the existing structure and add a wall. I think the slide has been used approximately 150 times in the two days that it has been assembled.

 

Grocery delivery slots have become more common, so I’m no longer ordering twice my usual amount. I’ve been on a Julia Child kick recently. I made Supremes de volaille aux champignons last night and it is my current favorite. This recipe is for chicken breasts in a port cream sauce with mushrooms. I did the chicken in my instant pot (not very authentic, but I am lazy) and while it cooked, I made the port cream sauce and threw on some risotto and grean beans to finish it out. The rice is a necessity so that you have something to sop up the extra sauce. I could drink that sauce, it is soooo good. I usually make it with buttered peas on the side, per Julia’s suggestion in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I haven’t been able to find peas for three weeks (thanks, Covid-19).

 

We went for a drive yesterday to do a contactless wine pickup from a semi-local winery. Beautiful scenery, nice weather, and we planned it during Little Miss Minion’s naptime so she slept there and back. I need to find some good recipes to pair them with. We had a white merlot (not from the winery) with our Julia dinner yesterday and it was a PERFECT combination, so my new hobby is going to be matching the wine with our food.

 

My last bit of news is the most exciting (in my admittedly biased opinion). I was accepted into the nursing program!!!! They pushed the application deadline back by two weeks and then it took another two weeks to determine who would be accepted. I have been killing my phone battery that whole time, refreshing my emails to see if I got an acceptance letter and it finally came last Wednesday. I am so excited!!! We are supposed to get an invite to a digital course that has all the information we need to prepare for the fall semester (drug testing, insurance information, class registration, etc.) so I am burning out my phone daily looking for THAT email. And my friend from school (former lab partner from A&P I) also got in, so we are trying to sync up and have the same schedule this fall. There are only 36 spots, so classes will probably fill up quickly once the notice goes out. Everyone has the same lecture, then there are three times for lab and two times for clinicals. I am hoping to get the lab that immediately follows lecture and the early clinical slot. Just need to wait on that email…

 

Hope everyone is staying safe and staying healthy!

 

School, Crafts, Baking and More…

A few quick updates, since Little Miss Minion is bound to wake up from her nap at any moment-

  1. My school has gone completely online for the rest of the semester. I can’t remember if I said that before, but its official. We will be doing video conferencing for lecture and lab for the first time on Saturday, and I am hoping we will get more information on how our tests will go, since we have pushed back a lecture test and a lab practical from this weekend to next weekend. I’m curious to see how the lab test will go, since so much of the practical is hands on. I guess we will find out Saturday.
  2. The coffee filter crown turned out cute. I will attempt to upload a picture to this post once I publish on my laptop-the pic is on my phone.
  3. Sprouts have been transplanted into peat seedling cups (kind of like cardboard ice cube trays that you break up and plant) and await warmer temps outside.
  4. Mr Minion has hijacked the office since he is working from home for the foreseeable future. He had been going to the office each day, thereby exposing himself and us to the chance of bringing home the virus.
  5. The weather, while not warm enough to plant things, is warm enough for Little Miss Minion to go outside without complaining that its cold.

Our grocery orders have been running about five days out, since delivery has become so popular. I joked the other day that our kitchen is going to end up like an episode of Chopped (American TV show where you are given random ingredients and have to make do). Sure enough, we got our last grocery delivery and several items were left out due to low supplies. I had gotten all the components for Boeuf Bourguignon except the meat–solution: Coq Au Vin! Almost identical ingredients list, but with chicken. Luckily, we got the fruit and Little Miss Minion’s string cheese, so she is happy.

I can hear tiny feet thundering around–off to the next adventure!

Spring is here!

So today is the first day of spring…and it is cloudy and raining. But the high is supposed to be decent, so I have opened the windows a little to get some fresh air in here. Little Miss Minion and I prepped the seeds for sprouting the other day. We are hoping to do two plantings-a cool weather one and then a summer one. Since I am home now, hopefully I will be able to keep up on maintaining the plants.

First planting: dill, parsley, cucumber, thyme, lavender, and broccoli. I plan to make pickles out of the cucumber. They are currently sitting in damp paper towels, taped to the window of our office so they can sprout.

Summer planting: we are planning on doing cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, onions, zucchini, green beans and/or peas, lettuce, and some peppers (probably a combo of sweet mini peppers and some spicy ones for fajitas).

Mr Minion tilled up both of our gardening areas-we have a raised bed already, and we pulled up some grass in another area of the backyard to plant more things. This area will be shaded once the leaves come back, where the raised bed is in direct sunlight all day. I think we will move the tomatoes back to the raised bed this season. They didn’t do well in the small section of the shaded area we put them in last time.

As I mentioned above, I am going to try my hand at canning this year. I’m hoping for pickles, and I will probably attempt to do any extra green beans/peas, and maybe make some salsa if we have enough tomatoes and peppers. I’m terrified of giving us all botulism though, so I need to read up on how to not kill us all.

Other than that, not much going on over here. We pretty much stay in the house anyway, since it has been so gross out recently. Mr Minion refilled the sand in the sandbox for the kiddo, and she was very excited about that. We made chocolate cupcakes yesterday, and I am going to attempt making a spring flower hat with her today. I am not crafty at all, but I think this is doable. I will update if it turns out well, and if it doesn’t…this never happened. 😉

Wish us luck!