Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Little Knowledge

It has been said that a little knowledge is a bad thing. This is certainly the case with Megan.

Megan entered into the world of language with flawless use of the word "kitty." But as time progressed Megan morphed the word and used it for anything that was particularly exciting, most specifically, all of her stuffed animals became "kitty" (none of them are actually cats) and pictures of babies (including herself) became "kitty." They were all things that were cute and cuddly, so we could kind of justify the useage. But now Megan is trying desperately to learn new words - "duckie" and "daddy" occasionally escape from her lips, particularly if we bait her with repetition: "look, Megan, it's a duckie...DUCK-IE," to which she will reply in jarbled tones,"dck-EE." These new words have only brought confusion, not clarity, to Megan's naming system. We catch her calling the cats "duckie;" Her ducks are frequently "kitty;" and often her jumbled thoughts come out in a run-on list of syllables: "da-da-da-kit-TEE-dck-EE."

We've had some laughs at Megan's expense. Playing flashcards goes something like this:
P: [cat] Megan, what's this?
M: Kitt-ee
P:[horse] Megan, what's this?
M: Kitt-ee
P: [dog] Megan, what's this?
M: Kitt-ee
P: [cow] Megan, what's this?
M: Kitt-ee

And so on and so on.

Megan also now knows that big spoons are for big people food and big people food is better than baby food, so she refuses her little spoon. We have to feed her baby food with the big spoons.

And Megan is now great at climbing the stairs. Her spatial awareness is even worse than her dad's, so we frequently have to catch her when she turns to sit or tries to come down.

So the one thing that Megan seems to have no idea about is "mommy." One day we were in the bath. When I asked Megan about the duckie, she grabbed the rubber duckie, when I asked Megan about the cat she looked to Zeus who sits next to the tub while we bathe, and when I asked about Mommy, Megan looked expectantly toward the door to see if there was a Mommy walking in.

A second time I was trying to get Megan to repeat after me.
P: [cough, cough, cough]
M: [cough, cough, cough] (Meg loves to imitate coughing)
P: Megan, it's Daddy
M: Dad-dy
P: Look, Megan, the kitty.
M: Kitt-ee
P: Look, Megan, it's Mommy.
M: Dad-dy


Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Meg is quickly mastering climbing up the stairs. Down is a MUCH different ball game though.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Unfortunately, our ice storm was a minor event. Down here in Salem, away from the gorge effect, I fear we will get less snow than we got in Portland. It makes me sad. I did snapp a couple of pictures, however.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Fort Brecks

Pam inherited a green house from her parents when they moved into their active adult retirement community. It was sitting in the crawlspace in portland for six months before we moved. It was sitting in our garage for the last three months. But now it's the most well-protected green house I've ever seen. The chain link fence around it will be moved to the pasture in the future and serve as the new chicken run.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My face matches my shirt!

Today, Pam and I got an soft and squishy envelope from Oxy. In it was a letter congratulating us on our new "cub" and reminding us that there was a place in the freshman class 18 years from now for her. It was the first piece of mail, other than the class notes, that we've received from Oxy that hasn't asked for money. It was very refreshing.Note to self, no more squash for Megan!

Thursday, December 8, 2005


"Are we there yet?"

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Bottoms Up!

As mentioned before, Megan loves buttons and things that her little fingers can push. Light switches definitely fall into this category, especially our old fashioned rocker type light switches which make it easy for Megan to turn the lights off and on. (Aside: how sad is it that I am calling something from 1979 "old fashioned"? What does that make me??) Megan is particularly fond of her closet light switch, mostly because she can reach this one by herself from the changing table and because she can watch the lights go on and off.

This excitement with the light switch makes her incredibly difficult to change, because she won't lie still for even a few seconds. In fact, it is a down right pain in the butt (mine, not hers)!

Monday, December 5, 2005

The death of the autopsy

In 1975 there were 150 autopsies at Salem Hospital; this year there were 14. This precipitous decline is not unique to Salem; this drop-off is a national phenomenon.

Most of this is due to improvements in the medical armamentarium. With CT's and MRI's so commonplace, one no longer needs to open a body to find out what is ailing the patient. Additionally, laboratory testing is more sophisticated, employing techniques such as PCR, ELIZA, antibody testing, and cytogenetics in the diagnosis of human disease. And our knowledge about many diseases is increased. In summary, less people are dying of unknown causes.

However, part of the decline in autopsies is financially motivated. There is no charge for an autopsy; the hospital eats the cost. In an era of budget cuts and HMO's, there is little incentive for hospitals to perform autopsies. And while families are often comforted knowing the cause of a loved one's death, an autopsy can sometimes provide ammunition for a law suit.

Most pathologists do not mind this decline, in fact many are downright thrilled by it. An autopsy is labor intensive, both in the time and physical effort required. They are messy and frequently unsatisfying as even an autopsy can fail to uncover the cause of death. There is little compensation for the task. And with increasing cancer rates, pathologists have plenty else to do to keep them busy.

But for the purist, the decline in autopsies is unsettling. Most of our knowledge about disease originates from autopsy findings. An autopsy provides an opportunity to admire human anatomy and get back to "hands on" medicine (and make a bloody mess all in the name of science!). And despite all of the improvements in medical technology, there are still many cases where the cause of death is only discovered at the time of autopsy.

I don't expect hospital autopsies to ever pick up again. In fact, I suspect that they will die out all together with occasional hospital cases being sent off to the medical examiners. However, I don't expect that the truth in this pathology cartoon will ever be completely gone:

Saturday, December 3, 2005


Over the past two weeks we've become convinced that Megan has said her first word. The word is no surprise, because she of course has chosen something very near and very dear to be the first comprehensible utterance to spill from her lips, a word to make her mother proud. That's right, Megan's first word is "kitty." Megan happily announces when a kitty gets anywhere near her.

Megan understands several other words, too. She gets that "Dante," "Zeus," "cat," and "gato" all refer to those loveable furry beasts, though I don't think she knows which cat goes with each name. I am not certain Megan can differentiate between "mommy" and "daddy" but she does know we are talking about one of those big people who live with her when we say either. But she can locate "baby" and "Megan" with complete accurracy in the mirror.

She is now at a stage where those little cogs are working non-stop to try to figure out the world. Megan is infatuated with things with buttons, because she knows toys with buttons make some kind of funny noise when you push them. She's always trying to get her hands on the phone, the remotes, and the computer to see what all those buttons do.

Megan also like doors, particularly closing them. She has fun opening and closing cupboards, but isn't too interested in the contents.

Megan understands dressing and will help with her arms, both to get her clothes on and off. She'll even sometimes raise her arms up (to take off her shirt) as soon as she hears the bath water running. She hasn't figured out, though, that she is supposed to lie still while getting her diaper changed!