Out and about


Chicago Parent Staff


Talking family

Families often have their own language. Now author Paul Dickson has compiled these personal, unique words in a new book. Here’s a few from folks nearby:

From the Mouth: A story that is told from memory rather than read from a book.

The Avis family, Oak Park

BarrisLand: The place one goes when embarrassed, such as under a pillow or behind one’s hands.

The Beskow family, DeKalb.

Vegicrud: The unidentifiable organic matter that migrates to the far corners of the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper section.

Marlene Aronow, Deerfield

Verbalicious: Pertaining to delicious words or the elegant use of a word.

Ron Helmers, Wheaton

Pernundal: The gear shifter of a car with automatic transmission. It comes from the letters on the steering column PRNDL. "Our family has used this word ever since my dad was trying to teach me how to drive and he said to me to put "it" in drive. I answered, ‘Put what in drive?’ "

Barbara Thompson, Minooka


Family Words: A Dictionary of the Secret Language of Families, by Paul Dickson, was released by Marion Street Press Inc., Oak Park. It is available in major bookstores and online at www.marionstreetpress.com, Amazon.com and other Internet retailers.

Tell us your family words and we’ll share them with readers in a future issue. Send them to chiparent@chicagoparent.com with Family Words in the subject line.



Someone you should know

Five questions with Sally Lemke

Nurse Practitioner Sally Lemke’s efforts in the Austin Health Center’s prenatal department have helped lower the number of low birth weight babies and other complications. Recently, the Oak Park native received the Visiting Nurse Association Foundation’s Super Star in Community Nursing Award for her work. The 44-year-old wife of Tony Bell and mom of Adam, 10, and Charlie, 6, believes even little contributions add up to make a difference in society’s larger social problems.

1 What is the best and most difficult thing about being a working mom/wife? The best: "For me personally, I’m very passionate about my work. I feel like my children see me making contributions to the world and to my patients. I hope I am serving as a role model to them." The most difficult: "Juggling the time, feeling like you can carve out really good quality time for your kids."

2 You’ve been in the spotlight lately, first with news about the VNA award, then soon after with your layoff due to Cook County budget cuts. What have you learned from it? It’s been weird, she says. "We’ve had all these big changes and everybody knows our business ... We don’t want to shield our children from all of the negative things that go on in our lives, we want to involve them so they can learn life skills."

3 What drove you to help expectant mothers and women, especially in underserved areas? Becoming a nurse practitioner was a second career. She has a degree in social work and spent time in the Peace Corps working in health education and with women’s groups. "I’ve always wanted to work with women, women in need in particular. ... Becoming a nurse practitioner was the final piece of the puzzle to complete what I thought to be the kind of person I wanted to be, personally and professionally."

4 What does the future hold for you? She joined the Rush University College of Nursing’s academic faculty practices, working with the Healthy Heart Project for Women through the Center for Whole Health at the Fourth Presbyterian Church and at Why Wait, a breast and cervical cancer early detection program for women over 40 who would not otherwise have access to annual exams.

5 What’s the most important thing you hope to teach your kids? "I hope to teach my kids what I think my parents instilled in me, to live by the Golden Rule." She also wants to teach them compassion.



It can happen to anyone: An update


After losing seven babies, my greatest fear as each day marched on with our most recent pregnancy was that the eighth loss would be tragically late term. And so, two hours before the birth of our child, when the doctor told me the amniotic fluid contained meconium, all I could think of was the horror a loss at this point would bring.

I clicked on my iPhone, searched the issue, pulled the OB aside and asked him if he was preparing to follow the "International Guidelines for Neonatal Resuscitation." Trying not to roll his eyes, he assured me that while this is potentially life threatening, 10 percent of all babies are born with this issue and virtually all do fine. I wasn’t convinced.

Watching our daughter arrive a whitish blue, not breathing while three people feverishly worked to thread a tiny breathing tube into her trachea, was a horrifying experience. In hopes of bringing color and oxygen back into my daughter’s tiny, seemingly lifeless body, the NICU physician also repeatedly inserted nasogastric tubes through her nose and down into her stomach like a roto-rooter clearing out clogged pipes, while two RNs rubbed her feet, prodded her sides and monitored meters for oxygen levels and pulse.

Having no experience to determine whether the resuscitation was proceeding normally or tragically, I closed my eyes and prayed. After 25 long minutes, my little girl finally turned pink and let out a cry, the most welcome sound I’d ever heard in my entire life! My wife and I echoed her sentiment and burst into tears of happiness.

I heard it once said that if every person in the world witnessed a birth, we’d never have war again. At 37 seconds and 5 minutes past 5 a.m. Aug. 18, 2007, one additional person of the 6.7 billion people on this planet was reminded of the miracle of life when Maycie Lynne Sulkin made her wondrous appearance.

Steve Sulkin, Vernon Hills

Kids Eat Chicago

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