Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve is full of the anticipation, the waiting, the stories, the candles and lights.

Christmas morning is full of joy, excitement, crinkling of paper, hugs, and laughter.

After opening the presents on Christmas morning, the rest of Christmas Day has always felt a little anti-climatic. An emotional low after the gift-giving high. The presents are what.

Christmas this year didn't feel like that at all.

From our bedroom door being thrown open at 7 am by bright-eyed children, to the present opening, to the cinnamon smells from brunch, to setting up of marble tracks and watching of movies, to the smells of dinner, to the snowman building (and knocking over) in the backyard, to the stories and kisses at bedtime...the entire day felt like Christmas.

This Christmas had a similar feeling to when we watched the train moved away towards the west, carrying my mom and my little brother, who had come to help us move to Iowa. We felt, that truly for the first time, we were on our own.

This Christmas, it was up to us, and just us, to create those holiday memories for our boys. Memories like the ones we all have. Full of magic, and treats, and presents, and happiness.

This Christmas, we had to be the ones to create the traditions.

Opening one gift Christmas Eve...

Reading Night Before Christmas, My Penguin Osbert, The Crippled Lamb, and the Nativity story from the Bible...

Presents early Christmas morning...

Monkey bread, fruit, and juice for brunch after presents...

Games, movies, playing in the afternoon...

Brown sugar glazed ham with au gratin potatoes for dinner...

It's the first time for many of these things, but it still felt comfortable...and traditional.

When Monkey came in from playing in the snow, he hugged me around my legs and exclaimed, "I'm just so happy!"

That, combined with the joy on the boys' faces, and the feeling of happiness so palpable in our home, let us know that Christmas memories are well on their way.

Wish List

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We finished wrapping presents the other night (all nice and cozy in front of our new fireplace.) As we placed the presents under the tree, we stepped back and looked.

That's when we realized.

We may have gone overboard just a little this year.

At first, Hubster and I looked at each other embarrased. "That's a lot of presents." Yep. And once you realize things might have gotten a little out of hand, the justification instantly starts. We started shopping in October. It's easy to forget exactly what you've gotten when you bought it 2 months ago. It's our first Christmas away from family, so we need to make sure it's a great Christmas.

We are excited for Christmas. It is going to be a wonderful Christmas. I can't wait to see the look on Bug's face when he opens the (can't say yet). I can't wait to hear Monkey's squeal when he sees his new (shhh...not yet.)

Like every parent, I want only the best for my children. It was hard to narrow down what to buy them for Christmas because I want so many things for them.

But ultimately, the things I really want for them, they won't be opening on Christmas. Most of what I want for them, I have a hard time putting in words. It's mostly this overwhemling feeling that causes an ache in my chest, full of hope, and success, and goodness.

So what do I truly want for my children? I want them to...

-know someone is always in their corner.

-feel the thrill of finding the perfect hiding spot for hide-and-seek.

-know where their food comes from.

-watch a catepillar metamorphasize into a butterfly, and then watch the butterfly emerge from its cocoon.

-always know where home is.

-spend a night wrapped in a blanket, watching thunder, and eating popcorn.

-fall asleep next to someone they love.

-lose themselves in a book.

-to finish first at something, and to finish last at something.

-fill a jar full of fireflies.

-know what it is like to not have everything they want.

Part of the Deal

Monday, December 21, 2009

When I first saw my intern schedule, one of the first things I saw was December filled with the dreaded words. Trauma Surgery.

That is when I knew. I would not have Christmas off. There would be no way to go home and visit family over the holidays. Yes, clinics shut down for Christmas. Why couldn't I have clinic in December? But trauma? That happens every day of the year. Every single day. Just watch some guy in a Santa suit fall off the roof Christmas Eve.

Over a deparment lunch, I was complaining to a fellow intern that I thought I would work over Christmas. She shrugged, non-chalantly, and replied, "Well, we're doctors. That's what we do."

Her statement made me want to shrink into myself and cry. So this is what I'd signed up for. Holidays, weekends, and birthdays away from family are just part of the deal. They don't put that on the brochure for medical school.

But I started thinking about it. Maybe this is what I signed up for. If I have patients in the hospital over Christmas, it's not as if they want to be there either (except for the homeless drunk we admitted two weeks ago. He's as happy as a clam to be in the hospital for Christmas.) And if my patients are going to be in the hospital over the holidays, they still need lab work and xrays and nursing care and food and medication. And the people who provide all that are working on Christmas. I'm part of a system that doesn't take days off.

It turns out that I don't work Christmas. So all the insight and mental preparation were for nothing, right? Well, probably not. I'm not delusional enough to think I'll go my entire residency (much less my professional career) and not work a major holiday. The fact that I got both Christmas and Thanksgiving off as an intern is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. But I remember watching home videos of Christmases over the years, and realized that many of those Christmases didn't happen on December 25th. Many of the videos had the date Dec 24 or 12/26 on the bottom. My dad often worked Christmas. And we adapted.

But I'll work on the acceptance and coping mechanisms later.

When I got my schedule with December 24 and December 25 as days off, I danced for joy. I actually bounced up and down as my schedule printed out. I hugged everyone in the house. I felt like I could finally start celebrating. I've thrown myself into Christmas. I'm more excited for Christmas this year than I have been since I was 9.

It also helps that my co-intern, who is working Christmas, is Jewish. He got the first weekend of Hannukah off. I get Christmas off. We're both happy.

Yes, there will be Christmases where presents are opened the day before or the day after or late in the afternoon. That's what I've signed up for.

But this year? Christmas morning will find me around the tree with my three boys, wearing pajamas and drinking hot cocoa and enjoying the moment.

A Place to Hang Stockings

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home improvement projects have slowed significantly. Okay, they've actually come to a complete stand still. Except for me exclaiming to Hubster that I've finally found the perfect place to hang the Dustbuster.

There are still projects aplenty. The master bath needs re-tiling. The blue bathtub and tile in the hall bath have got to go. It would be nice to have closet doors, stair hand rails, and lights in the living room. Those are all on the list. For later.

There was one project, however, that I was determined to get done before Christmas.

Do you remember when we finished the playroom/family room? There was a large black box in the far wall. Otherwise known as the fireplace.

The one thing I wanted done before Christmas was a mantle. A place to hang stockings. A gathering stop for the bitter cold Iowa winter nights. A focal place in an otherwise rather bland (but always messy) room.

We started by tiling around the fireplace. We chose a beautiful travertine tile (which we could afford to do, since this particular color was on sale, and there wasn't that much to tile.)

After I tiled and grouted, Hubster installed the surround and mantle. Let me clarify. I came up with an idea in my head about what I wanted the surround and mantle to look like. Hubster then patiently listened and examined my drawings. He then made multiple trips to the hardware store and built our mantle from scratch. By himself. With me playing cheerleader and avoiding anything with a sharp edge.

(There were many pictures of all the steps from start to here, but that would have meant subjecting you to dozens of blurry photos. Which I wasn't going to do. Merry Christmas.)

(And please note Monkey's little wooden tool box at the bottom of this photo. He and his wooden hammer, nails, and screwdriver were helpful at every stage of this project.)

After the (surprisingly large) mantle was built, I then painted it the same antique white as all the trim in the house. And painted. And painted. Repeat this step several more times, turning what should have beeen a one weekend project into a two week project.


Two weeks later, instead of this...

We now have this...

And a beautiful mantle like this is just begging to be decked out for Christmas. Just apply stockings the boys decorated two Christmases ago, free pine branches from the local hardware store, and handfuls of pinecones that the boys are always collecting.

I think the result is just magical.

There was still something missing. Hubster rectified this with a trip to a bait-and-tackle shop by the lake, from which he returned with enough wood to fill half our shed.

Last night, we enjoyed our very first fire in our new fireplace.

It feels more like home and more like Christmas than I would have ever imagined.

A Day In My Life

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Over at Mothers in Medicine, a blog dedicated to exactly that, the most recent topic has been "A Day in the Life of..." These amazing women tell what a typical day is like for them as a mother and a neurosurgeon/cardiologist/obstetrician/pediatrician.

This blog has been a wonderful "support group" for me. It lets me know that there are women who have been through what I have and come out as real people and functional mothers on the other side.

The most recent topic has inspired me to share a typical day for me. The only problem? There is no typical day for an intern. Each month is a new service, a new team, a new job. I can only share what is typical for this month.

A day in the life of an anesthesia intern on trauma surgery...

4:30 am: Alarm goes off. Want to push snooze, but don't.

4:55 am: Toast bagel, pack bag with fruit and snacks to eat later that day.

4:58 am: Run upstairs, kiss sleeping boys and sleeping husband good-bye.

5:00 am: Get in car, drive to work in the dark. Eat bagel while driving.

5:10 am: Catch shuttle in parking lot.

5:15 am: Arrive at hospital.

5:20 am: Get to locker room, hang up coat, put on green hospital scrubs and white coat. Check to make sure I have stethoscope, pager, ID badge, PDA.

5: 30 am: Arrive in SICU for check-out from overnight team. One new admit overnight, 19 year old assault victim, intubated, 2 chest tubes in place. Hemoglobin stable. One of patients on the floor had SVT overnight, beta blocker started.

5:45 am: Pre-round on SICU patients. Neurosurgery taking one patient to OR today; we sign off. Assault victim looks stable, tell SICU team okay to extubate.

6:00 am: Pre-round on floor patients. No further SVT seen on telemetery. Patient reports she had this before, but has been off regular medication. Start home medication back up. See orthopedics team, taking another patient to OR to fix tib/fib fracture. See ENT service, thank them for suturing ear laceration on patient.

6:30 am: Return to team room. Write notes, adjust some orders.

6:45 am: Go with team to cafeteria for breakfast. I don't eat any. I had a bagel when I left home. Sit at table with surgery residents. Can't wait until I'm doing anesthesia. Conversations re-affirm I do not want to be a surgeon.

7:00 am: Head to conference. Topic is interesting: angiography to identify vascular injury in trauma. Still can't stay awake. Doze off in back of auditorium.

8:00 am: Conference is over. Head back to team room to check on chest x-ray for assault victim. No evidence of pneumothorax. Labs back on floor patients. No electrolyte abnormalities on patient with SVT.

8:30 am: Call neurosurgery regarding patient with lumbar spine fracture. Injury non-operable. Order patient back brace.

9:00 am: Meet attending trauma surgeon in SICU to round together. Assault victim has been extubated. Remove one of chest tubes. Put in orders to transfer patient to floor.

9:30 am: Get page to clarify order.

9:35 am: Get page to let me know patient's IV infiltrated. Patient taking good PO. Stop IV fluids.

9:37 am: Get page with update on rehab placement for patient.

9:45 am: Return to team room. Finalize notes, finish orders. Finish discharge summary for patient going to rehab.

10:00 am: Try to read ICU textbook. Read blogs, check Facebook, check e-mail, check weather. Try to read. Check Facebook.

11:34 am: Trauma pager goes off. Activation. Self-inflicted gunshot wound. Go to ER Trauma Bay. Get on lead, gowns, face shields, gloves. Hear helicopter land on roof. Team ready when patient rolls in. Patient intubated. Take report from AirTeam. Listen to mid-level resident call out primary and secondary survey. Enter orders. Call CT. Call Neurosurgery. CT calls back, ready for patient. Neurosurgery comes, says injury is non-survivable. Transfer patient to SICU to wait for family to arrive. Contact social work. Go to SICU to talk to SICU resident. Write trauma note. Feel numb.

12:45 pm: Grab bag from locker room. Eat apple, drink Coke Zero. Wish I could finally lose the weight. Team members eating pizza, hamburgers.

1:00 pm: Answer more pages. Feel exhausted. Day only half over.

1:40 pm: Trauma pager goes off. Alert. Fall from roof. Go to ER Trauma Bay. Get on lead, gowns, gloves. No face shields this time. Ambulance team rolls patient in. Patient awake, talking, groaning from pain. Order fentanyl. Order labs, xrays. Go with patient to CT scanner. Sit in reading room while patient's scan comes up. Lumbar burst fracture. Call Neurosurgery again. Admit patient. Neurosurgery will operate tomorrow.

2:00 pm: Go back to team room. Finish trauma note. Answer more pages.

2:15 pm: Code pager goes off. Code Blue on Neurosurgery Floor. Run up stairs. Think about how I should exercise while I run up stairs. Get to room. Room full, chest compressions already going. Senior resident asks for rhythm check. Monitor shows asystole. Chest compressions restarted. Mid-level resident places femoral line. I do nothing. There are so many people in the room. Feel numb.

2:30 pm: Return to team room. Text Hubster. Feel tired. Try to read. Blog instead. Return a few more pages. Wonder why I can't pull my life together like other people seem to have.

3:00 pm: Go to surgical skills lab. Play MarioCart on Wii. Lose every race. Still have fun. Pause game to answer pages.

5:45 pm: Head to SICU to sign out to night team. Let them know the SICU is going to withdraw care on gunshot patient later tonigh.

6:00 pm: Go to locker room, change out of scrubs, grab coat.

6:15 pm: Catch shuttle back to parking lot. Drive home.

6:30 pm: Pull into garage, door opens. See boys waving and smiling at me. Help with dinner, start laundry. Sit around table as a family every night I am home. Ask about school for boys and Hubster. Feel tired.

7:30 pm: Bath boys. Give them their Advent calander chocolate. They never forget. Help them brush teeth. Hubster studies for test in morning.

8:00 pm: Read to Monkey. Tuck him in bed.

8:30 pm: Read to Bug. Give him piggy back to bed.

9:00 pm: Fold some laundry. Watch whatever is on DVR: The Office, Survivor, Chopped, Mythbusters.

10:30 pm: Turn off Christmas lights. Unplug Christmas tree. Plug in cell phone. Shower. Standing in shower, feel sad for the first time today. Sad for what happened at the hospital. Sad for only seeing my family for 2 hours a day. Sad for missing so much. Sad for myself sometimes.

10:50 pm: Kiss sleeping boys goodnight. Every night I am home I do this.

11:00 pm: Fall into bed exhausted. Asleep before I know it.

This is my everyday. The pager goes off at different times. The traumas are different people, different stories. But one day feels much like the same. Until next month.

Holiday Confession

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I guess every holiday deserves a confession.

Here's mine.

Our children don't believe in Santa Clause. And it's our fault.

We decided, long before we had children, that we would not do Santa Claus in our family.

I could say it is for religious reasons. I could say it is because we want to focus on Christmas being about Jesus's birth. I could say all those things and more. But that's not the real reason.

I don't ever remember believing in Santa Claus. Hubster doesn't either. And maybe missing out on those memories made our decision easier.

The real reason we decided not to support the idea of Santa Claus was due to watching friends stop believing.

I had friends who described the devastation they felt when they realized Santa wasn't real.

The other reason was the whole idea of lying to my child. I have friends who, even now, go through complicated charades and set-ups to keep their children "believing." Setting out cookies, then eating part of them after the kids are in bed. Addressing presents as "From Santa." Even getting on skis and taking a loop around the yard in the snow to make it look like Santa's sleigh had been there. Or using Santa as a way to manipulate children into good behaviour.

It feels dishonest.

I don't want to lie to my children. I'm not saying I tell them everything about everything. Sometimes I omit (How did the baby get in her tummy?), sometimes I simplify (What is blood made out of?), sometimes I just tell them I can't tell them (Why is that person on the news?). But I'm not going to go out of my way to support what amounts to a lie.

I recognize these might be rather strong feelings. Maybe overly strong. And I don't want anyone to think I'm condemning parents who do promote Santa. We've just chosen not to.

There's another thing about Santa that I don't like. The concept of Santa makes me sad. I always wondered how people explained that Santa only came visit children whose parents made money, but that he didn't visit children who were poor, or homeless, or sick in hospitals.

I desperately wish that there was a Santa, and that he brought new computers and PlayStations and puppies to every child. I wish there was someone that made sure everyone had something to open Christmas morning. I wish there didn't have to be children who only got one pair of socks, or a piece or candy, or nothing.

But wishing doesn't make it so.

So my children don't believe in Santa.

Watching their eyes light up this time of year, I don't think this has decreased the magic that surrounds the season. Or given them any less to believe in.

Makes My Day

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gina, over at Namaste by Day, gave me the Happy 101 award.

This award, meant to be gifted to bloggers who make you smile, has two requirements.

1. List 10 things that make you happy
2. List 10 bloggers who brighten your day.

I'm not sure I've been the "brightening others' day" type of blogger lately, but nothing like a good award to get me back on my optimistic track.

Things That Make Me Happy...

1. Sleeping in. Any day that I don't wake up and have it still be pitch black outside is a great day. Even if it means that there is occasionally a little three year old snuggled next to me. Especially if there is a little three year old snuggled next to me.

2. PhotoShop: I don't have nearly enough time to spend doing this, but it is so satisfying to see some of my less than perfect pictures be transformed into living room wall worthy pictures. And being able to remove the evidence that I didn't wash faces prior to taking pictures is priceless.

3. Christmas: I don't think this one should actually be this far down on the list. Everything about Christmas is so contagious to me. The lights, the trees, the treats, the music. I'm pretty sure I'm the most obnoxious one as work with all my excitement.

4. My house: Even after having lived here for six months, I look around and am so incredibly happy that we have our own home, without downstairs neighbors, with space to put things. I love our house. With apartments, from the day we moved in to the moment we moved out, the feeling of discontent and dislike grew every day. With our house, we fall in love more every day.

5. The end of the day. It doesn't matter how much I've enjoyed my work for the day, I'm so excited to go home. My drive home is mostly along the river, which is pretty at all times of the year. There is very little traffic, and only two traffic lights, so I don't arrive home stressed out from the commute like I used to. And absolutely nothing beats pulling into the garage and seeing the door open and two blonde-headed, blue-eyed faces light up at seeing me.

6. My new turquoise sweater. I love this sweater. It's my favorite color. It's super warm. And I get compliments every time I wear it.

7. Pancakes! I try to make pancakes (from scratch) at least once a week. I'm not sure anyone else in my family likes them as much as I do, but that isn't going to change Saturday or Sunday being pancake morning.

8. Panera Cinnamon Crunch Bagels. I had these for the first time on a call night in the ICU. And I've been hooked ever since. It's a good thing I don't pass Panera on my way home or we would be eating these a lot more. These are seriously the best bagels I have ever had. And now I want some...

9. Reading with the boys. Every night, I read with Monkey, and then with Bug. With Monkey, it's usually Bear Snores On, or A Color of His Own, or The Very Hungry Catepillar (or all of the above.) With Bug, it is a chapter from the book we are making our way through, currently The Shores of Silver Lake. I love this time with my boys that I fit in no matter how crazy the day, no matter how long the to-do list, no matter how tired I am. I will not miss this time with them.

10. Very silly, but anything related to weddings. I love the colors, the flowers, the decorations. I almost always flip through wedding magazines while I wait to check out at the grocery store. I'm still trying to convince Hubster that we need to have a second wedding, because it would just be so much fun. He apparently has different recollections of wedding planning.

I have to tag all my IRL friends.

Emma Lily
Trina Bug
The Boy and I

I love these three girls, and they've stuck around with me for years. I love that they have started blogging and we can stay in touch more these days.

Then, people that make me happy every time I read their blogs. If you haven't read these, you should.

Karen at A Peek at Karen's World
Jennee at Cheap Therapy
Christian at Modobject at Home
Tia at Clever Girl Goes Blog
Stephanie at Steph in the City

Let me know what just makes your day.

The Real Deal

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Christmas tree is not just a decoration in our house. It is a family outing, activity, and tradition.

The first week of December, we load everyone up in the car. We drive to a Christmas tree lot that looks just right, the kind that have a light-bordered sign, a hand-warming station, and rows upon rows of trees. We try to avoid stores. Then everyone tumbles over each other out of the car and spreads out to look for the ultimate goal. The perfect tree.

This was true when I was a little girl, a teenager, then a college student home to visit. And it is still true now, with my own children.

There is usually some debate about who has found the perfect tree. But after seeing them all, everyone tends to fall in love with the same one.

The tree is then tied to the top of the car roof. Everyone piles back in, chilled, but excited. The tree is taken home to be covered with lights, popcorn garlands, baubles of all colors, and a variety of ornaments made at school. Everyone gets to put something on.

The tree fills the house with woodsy freshness, soft light, and a natural gathering place Christmas morning.

Our very real tree this year

Seeing a Christmas tree from this point of view, I'm sure it is not surprising that I am not a fan of artificial trees.

My stand point on artificial Christmas tress is well known. And it isn't just the ridiculous papery overly bright green look of the things.

It is the loss of the entire event that surrounds getting and setting up the Christmas tree each year. To have the Christmas tree lot replaced by the basement. To have the smell replaced by a cardboard box. I have resisted this every way I know how.

When Hubster mentioned a fake tree in the past, I pointed out that we lived in a two bedroom shoebox, and where was he planning on storing the thing for the 11 months of the year it wasn't being used. I've ridiculed fake trees. I've clung to my real tree snobbery.

So, I can't believe I'm going to say this.

Next year, we're going to get an artificial Christmas tree.

I've lost my "lack of storage" excuse, now that there is both a basement and a garage. And Hubster has shown me some trees that look pretty amazing for fake ones. Ones that have realistic needles and pinecones.

Ones that don't shed needles on the floor everytime Monkey throws a ball at it. Ones that already have the lights on. Ones that don't turn into a crispy brown accident waiting to happen.

I've fought and resisted for a very long time. The dark side has finally won.

Oh, Christmas Meme, Oh, Christmas Meme...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1. Have you started your Christmas shopping?
I am DONE! This is truly miraculous. Usually we are still shopping the day before and feeling frantic because we still have not been able to come up with an idea for one of my brothers-in-law or my grandmother. But this year is different. No rush. No panic. All done. It is wonderful. And strange. Mostly strange.

2. Tell me about one of your special traditions.
On Christmas Eve, my family would put on the Christmas pagent. Most of the time, this involved everyone actually being in the play and no one in the audience. But that never mattered. My role, being the oldest, was usually to be the donkey. Now, when we have Christmas with my family, I get to watch, as Bug and Monkey are in the pagent. After we do the pagent, we light candles and sing Christmas carols. I known it sounds incredibly Norman Rockwell, but it is completely true. I guess to make it sound more modern American family, I should add that Hubster hates singing as a principle, and he usually sneaks out and plays poker on the computer.

3. When do you put up your Tree?
Usually the first week in December. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. We usually aim to get it up before Christmas. We've cut it pretty close some years.

4. Are you a Black Friday shopper?
I went shopping on Black Friday for the very first time this year. In the past, I've been oblivious to Black Friday shopping. I have gone out before, and wondered why so many people were also out. But this year, we actually were thinking about shopping at this time of year. So I ventured out. I actually posted the entire adventure here.

5. Do you Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Every since we got married, we haven't spent Christmas at "home." We alternated Christmases between my parents' home, 1 hour south of us, and Hubster's parents' home in Montana, 8 hours north of us. For the last 8 Christmases, we have packed suitcases and slept in guest rooms. This year, we are staying home. Because family is 1200 miles away. This will be interesting.

6. What is your funniest Christmas memory?
One Christmas, when I was about 9 years old, I was more excited for Christmas than I ever was before. My brother and I stayed awake nearly all night long, whispering and talking about what we might get and how excited we were. My parents told us we were allowed to come upstairs to open presents when we heard the grandfather clock chime six. We waited and waited. Finally, we couldn't take it any longer and we snuck upstairs, thinking we were being naughty because we hadn't heard the clock. It was 7 am. My parents had turned off the grandfather clock chime so they could sleep in.

7. What is your favorite Christmas Movie of all time?
It's a Wonderful Life. Classic, perfect. I get choked up every single time.

8. Do you do your own Christmas baking?
I do some baking. Just because it's not really Christmas without some baking/cooking. I usually focus on one thing per year. Some years I make candy. Some years I make cookies. This year, it's going to be cookies, because I saw the cutest thing on Modobject at Home.

9. Fake or Real Tree?
Real, for now. Complete post on the topic coming soon.

10. What day does the actual panic set in to get it all done?
Usually the week before Christmas. But this year, everything is already pretty much done. Boxes are to be mailed this weekend to family. No panic this year.

11. Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve?
Most years, I am. But they are usually my mom or my mother-in-law asking me to wrap presents for them. This year, I plan on being done, well, this weekend actually.

12. What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas?
Singing Christmas carols as a family on Christmas Eve.

13. What Christmas craft do you like the best?
Making paper snowflakes. For as long as I can remember, we have made snowflakes. We make them almost every day. We hang them from the ceiling, tap them to windows and wall. They are everyhwere. I did it as a child, and now Bug and I do them. Bug would like to, but lucky for us, he doesn't know how to use scissors.

14. Christmas music? Yes or No, and if yes, what is your favorite song?
Yes! Although I don't own a single Christmas CD. Strange, I know. But I do set my Pandora station to Christmas music, which works almost as well. My favorite song to sing would probably be Oh, Come all Ye Faithful. But I really like new takes on old songs, like Sarah McLachlan and Barenaked Ladies' version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I'm also incredibly partial to Carol of the Bells.

15. When do you plan to finish all your shopping?
Like I said before, Done! Although one box from Amazon did just ship earlier this week, and has not arrived yet.

Do you want to play along?Just simply copy and paste the questions into your blog, and then answer them. Then tag 5 or more of your favorite blogs, and leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged.

I am going to tag
Emma Lily
The Boy and I at Speakinathat

And anyone else who would like to do it, feel free! (And let me know if you do it.)

When you post on your blog, please spread some Christmas Cheer, and leave a link back to the blogger who started the meme: Heather at Top Ten Christmas.

I wasn't actually excited about doing this meme at all, but decided to do it because I didn't have the energy to think of a "real" post. But I actually had a lot of fun doing, and it made me think about a lot of other things I want to post about. So look forward to extending answers and more stories at a later date!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out of video today.

(Or whatever we call it these days, since nothing really comes out on video anymore...but on DVD and Blu Ray. But that's irrelevent.)

Yes, despite the fact that I've been essentially living in a trauma team room for the last two weeks, I know that Harry Potter is now available to own.

This may because that's part of what Hubster is getting for Christmas. (And he already knows this, so it doens't spoil any surprises. )
I have made my love of Harry Potter obvious. I have read these book more times than I have read Pride and Predjudice or The Hobbit.

The amazing thing is, I also like the movies.
It's a hard thing to do, to take a book that is adored and make a movie that is equally loved.
When making a movie from the book, so many different elements need to be considered. First, there is the overall feel, mood, and tone of the story. There are the characters, and how the reader pictures them compared to what they look like on screen. And then there is the plot and storyline. How closely should it be followed and what deviations and variations are okay, and which are simply just wrong?

We all know I love lists. So here is my list of best movie based on a book. I'm not saying best movies ever, or best books ever. But best interpretation of the book into a movie.

1. Harry Potter:
Okay, obviously this was going to be number one. The characters are extremely well casted. When you re-read the books, how can you not see Daniel Radcliff or Robbie Coltrain? The magic of the stories is present at every turn.

All except Prizoner of Azkeban. I dislike this one. I felt that the change of the plot to let you know that Peter Pettigrew was alive in the middle of the movie was a let down and took away all the suspense. Also, what is with the shrunken heads and the singing frogs?

2. Bourne Identity:
I really mean all three movies. This is one of the best triologies out there. Because don't you feel that most trilogies are excellent...until you come to the third movie (Think Spiderman, The Matrix, and X-Men.) However, the Bourne Trilogy doesn't disappoint from Identity to Ultimatum. I loved the movies so much, I decided to read the books. The books are terrible. Horrible. Okay, the first one is okay. The second two...ridiculous. The movies are only loosely based on the books. So this movie makes it on the list by being the rare time that the movie is better than the book.

3. Pride and Prejudice (BBC Version):

If you didn't see this one coming...well, then I've done a terrible job of proclaiming my love for all things Austen. I do like the Kiera Knightely version as well, with all it's beautiful cinematography and heightened sense of romance. But that version fudges over some of the subtleties of character and plot that I feel are essential to understanding Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Which is why the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice wins out. Yes it is long. But it so well captures the characters and plot that you can almost (almost) get away with not reading the book. (Almost.)

4. Lord of the Rings Triology

Yep, another triology made the list. Peter Jackson's attention to detail, amazing casting, and mind-blowing special effects and sets make this hard not to put on this list. Any variation from plot is easily forgiven by the adventure and magic that fill this epic.

5. Angels and Demons:

As far as books go, I like Da Vinci Code more than Angels and Demons. But as a movie...Angels and Demons wins out. This movie makes it on my list because it captured the beauty of Rome, and the horror of the events. And honestly, I'm pretty sure that if you hadn't read the book, finding out who the true villan was would be just as shocking watching the movie as it was reading the story.

There are movies based on books I read that I want to see. These include The Time Travelers Wife, Revolutionary Road, Where the Wild Things Are, to name a few.

I'm sure that I should include a list of worst movie interpretation of a book. I'll work on that.

What do you think? Anything I missed?

Days of the Week

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I don't even know what day of the week it is.

I had Monday off, which made Tuesday my Monday, and so I thought Friday was Thursday. I had most of yesterday off, which made that Saturday, which I'm pretty sure it was. But I'm working today, so it's technically my Monday, which makes tomorrow Tuesday, which it's not.

And I'm tired. Getting up at 4:30 am does not agree with me. Given the complete lack of signs of life at that time of day, I'm pretty sure that time of day disagrees with most people.

I roll (or more like droop or collapse) through the door back home at 6:30 pm.

Bug and Monkey are in bed at 8:30 pm. (or 9, or 9:30. It all depends on my level of alertness and motivation at the time.)

I try to catch up on e-mail, some academic reading, laundry, and dishes for a hour. I fall into a dazed stupor in front of the TV for another hour (At this rate, I will never catch up with my DVR). Then I shower, read a little more, and fall asleep around 11 pm.

Only to wake up in 5 1/2 hours and do it all over again.

I spend 2 out of every 24 hours with my children. I spend just over twice that sleeping. It makes me feel selfish. And those 2 hours are spent trying to get them to sit up at the table and just eat two bites, for the love of all that is holy. And where is the math homework? And I've already asked you five time to put your pajamas on, why are you still running around naked? And I'm pretty sure that is plenty of water for tonight.

And that makes me feel even worse.

The confusing thing for me is how much I like the work that I'm doing right now. I haven't once dreaded going to work. I do dread the alarm clock going off, but that's a completely different thing. Actually, most of the time, when I hear my alarm go off, I think it is mistake, and my brain doesn't comprehend that I actually need to get out of bed in the pitch black night.

Last month, the work I did was mind-numbingly boring. The days were so painfully slow that it was all I could do to pull myself out of the house, into the car, and actually go. I was home a lot more.

This month, I'm home less, but the work itself appeals to me more than anything else I've done so far my intern year (except for emergency medicine. If anesthesiology takes a turn for the worse, that it what I would do instead.)

Right at this moment, writing this between my pager going off every 5 minutes, occasionally twice at once, I am desperately homesick. Each sign of a child in the hospital tugs painfully some place deep in my chest.

I feel like I'm caught in some masochistic catch-22. I can either work that I enjoy and been gone all the time, or I can dread every second of each day of work and be home more.

I would pick the second one, if I was forced to choose.

It makes me wonder why I ever get upset with my children. Why would I ever waste a single breath being mad? (Until I find that Monkey has turned off the fridge. Again. And then I have a memory lapse about not being upset.)

Writing the month may be scarce.

With time being my most precious commodity, I'm trying to spend it on my family and get us out of the slump that the last week has thrown us into. That's what I plan doing on my next Saturday...whatever day of the week that may be.

2 hours, 10 minutes later...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I guess since it's been over a week since I saw it, I should finally share my thoughts on New Moon.

Overall opinion? I liked it.

Even with the over-enthusiastic giggles throughout the theater of girls under the age of 14. Despite the fact there were moments so cheesy and ridiculous that I couldn't stand to look at the screen. Despite the fact that Kristen Stewart had this strange chin movement and grunt noise that irritate me. Despite the fact the movie seemed to want to focus on the sex appeal of the male characters instead of the plot. (Although...can you blame them?)

Actually, maybe the giggling teens made it more enjoyable. Otherwise the periodic gasps at the sight of Jacob's abs, or the jaw drop over Carlisle (why is he so overlooked?) that came out of our group would have been much more noticeable. And who wants to feel self-conscious while trying to immerse oneself into a world of mythical creatures and romance?

As far as the technical aspects go, the larger budget is obvious. The special effects were actually believable, instead of slightly painful, as they were in the first movie. The acting was improved over the first film, as well (as it usually is as actors age and settling into their roles a little more).

The movie caught the feeling of the book remarkably well. A story that is focused on depression and isolation, these emotions come across on screen nearly as well as they did in the book. I felt the movie caught not only Bella's depression, but Edward's as well.

It could be that I'm just easy to please. I enjoy the books and had every intention of enjoying the movie. And it could have been that I was out with other girls and estrogen in that high of a dose may impair my judgement.

How does the movie come across to someone who hasn't read the Twilight books? I don't know. I'll have to wait and find out when I force Hubster to watch it with me when it comes out on video.

The Day After

Friday, November 27, 2009

I have never gone out shopping on Black Friday. Not at 3 am or any other time. I once did go see a movie with my mom the day after Thanksgiving and kept wondering why it was so busy.

It could be that I'm just not that big of shopper. I am still trying to reconcile that I may have to pay more than $20 for a pair of jeans. It could also have to do with the fact that usually, that particular Friday rolls around, Hubster and I haven't even started our Christmas list. No reason to go stand in lines and fight off aggressive soccer moms when you don't have any idea what you are looking for.

But this year, with my December being consumed by a arduous surgery rotation, the only way Christmas would be successful would be to start early. Not to mention the need to ship most of our gifts 1200 miles, which meant putting things off until December 24th really wasn't going to work this year.

So, one week ago, Hubster and I, much to our complete bewilderment, found ourselves nearly done with our Christmas shopping. We had two gifts (not including each others) left to buy.

Reeling with the shock of this, we found ourselves wandering a department store, looking for winter coats for Bug and Monkey. We had finally unpacked their old ones, which we had thought was a good idea considering it has started to get below freezing overnight. However, upon unpacking said coats, we were a little surprised to find that our boys had grown in the last year. Seriously, who wound have thought? So, a Midwestern winter staring in the front window, we went looking for coats. As we wandered around, dropping overpriced coats as if we had been tazed, Hubster casually mentioned that he had heard this particular store opened at 4 am for Black Friday. Maybe they would have good deals on winter coats so we wouldn't have to turn off the heat to afford them. (Of course I'm kidding. We'd stop buying groceries way before we turned off the heat.)

We decided to check the Black Friday ads before we did any more coat shopping.

And that was the end of that.

I spent hours (okay...many 15 minute intervals) persuing sale advertisements. I was shocked. So this is what drove normally sane people to fight off the effects of tryptophan and stand in line in the dark and cold. We carefully looked for a few things and found that we could get our remaining two gifts and the coats at one store.

So, this morning, I set out early and headed to our selected store.

I thought that was all that was needed.

As I drove, I passed other stores, not opening for a hour, that had lines wrapping down the sidewalk and around the corner. Parking lots were packed to overflowing. People were parked on the grass. Of course, anything resembling a shopping cart or a basket was gone long before I ever showed up. The people surrounding me not only had lists of stores, what time they opened and the must have items at each of those stores, they also had maps of the inside of each store, letting them know exactly where each desirable item was.

I instantly felt under-prepared. I approached a helpful-looking employee. I just need to know where coats are. That's all.

I'm proud to say that I got through the entire ordeal in less than one hour. I did not elbow anyone; I was not run into by anyone else's cart. And most importantly, I left with the coats and the two remaining gifts (which, by the way, were completely gone when we went back this afternoon to return a purchase made earlier this week.)

Hubster offered to go out and do the shopping. I was tempted to let him, because after all, he is much bigger than I am. But, ultimately, I decided to let him stay home asleep while I ventured out. And because he doesn't read my blog, I can tell you the true reason I choose to go and let him sleep.

Because his gift was on sale, too.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tomorrow is the day to gather round and say what we are thankful for.

I feel absolutely no desire to be left out.

I am thankful for my family. For Bug, Monkey, and Hubster. They are the true heroes of my life. They have put up with me through the long road to where we are, even though most days it feels like it is just starting. They love me both for me and in spite of me. They have all felt loneliness and uprootings to support me and to strengthen our family.

I am thankful for health. I am surrounded every day by people who do not have this. I do not have the ache of hugging a bald-headed child. I do not have the pain of holding a hand of unresponsive spouse. I can walk around my block without becoming short of breath or having chest pain. I am so very thankful for health, both mine and the people that I love.

I am thankful for opportunity. I may gripe about my job and the difficulties that come with it. But I will forever be thankful for the chance that I had to do this amazing thing. We own our first home, we can provide comfortably enough for our family, and all because of opportunity.

And tomorrow, surrounded by friends and family, I will remember to continue to be thankful.

An Incomplete List

Monday, November 23, 2009

Give me one hour of uninterrupted alone time, and I know exactly what I will do with it.

There are abundant things that I should do with that hour. Do the dishes, do the laundry, sweep, sleep, exercise. There are countless things I enjoy that I could also do. Paint, Photoshop, catch up on my DVR recordings, listen to music, blog.

But the one thing I choose above all others?


Since I was little, reading has been my favorite activity. In second grade, I would grab a blanket and sprawl in the sun on our back porch with novels far too advanced for my age. I didn't understand the subtleties of the plot, the emotions were often beyond the range of my own experience. But the adventure, danger, and romance swept me far away from my 8-year-old life. Any given afternoon, I was exploring tropical jungles, settling the West, or attending balls in the courts of France.

AS a teenager, I would walk around the house with my nose in a book. It was propped behind the sink as I washed dishes, it joined me at the dinner table. And often, I would sneak into the bathroom for completely uninterrupted reading, only to emerge, sometimes an hour later, and usually to frustrated siblings. I could disappear for a weekend at a time, curled up in my bed, exploring space, surviving wars, or discovering radioactivity.

I read nearly every book of the reading lists for high school. I made lists of book to read, and methodically crossed them off.

As soon as I had money, I began buying my own books. If anyone draws a blank on what to get me, they get me books.

Now I horde them. Do not ever, ever ask me to throw out a book. It does not matter that our five bookselves are overflowing and stacked every which way with tattered paperbacks from the book exchange or shiny new hardbacks from the chain store. The books are not books any longer. Each one is a character, a personality, well known and well loved.

I even love the smell of books. Open a brand new book and the smell of paper is intoxicating. I used to study on the second floor of the university library, not for the silence, but for the inviting, soothing smell of the rows upon rows of books.

It is hard for me to come up with a list of favorites. I can name my favorite people or favorite songs much easier than I can my favorite books. But I will do my best.

Some are on this list because of the story, some because of the impact they made when I read them, and others, purely from the joy I have every time I turn the first page.

A Tale of Two Cities

In my mind, this is Dickens' best book. The imagery is breathtaking. The strength of the writing and the plot development never disappoint. Not once.

Pride and Prejudice

I love Austen. Her witty, nearly sarcastic view on women's lives at the time appeals to both my feminine and feminist sides. And there is no character that I love more than Elizabeth Bennett. She is both perfect and flawed, and therefore, completely human.

Harry Potter

Yes, I am counting all 7 as one book. I have read these books more than I have any other (although Pride and Prejudice does come close.) Rowlings mastery at weaving a plot that takes twists never expected, her brilliant character development, and the sheer magic (pun both intended and not) of the books make it so they captivate me just as much the seventh time through as they did the first.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Exquisitely painful and beautiful at the same time, the range of emotions of this book nearly overwhelm me each time I read it. There are few literary characters that make you want to stand beside them as Atticus Finch.

Crime and Punishment

Dostoevsky's examination of guilt, conscience, justification, and redemption are both frightening and captivating, without letting you be sure of which emotion is stronger.

The Hobbit

I was sure at one time that I loved science fiction more than I loved fantasy. Now, I'm not so sure. The one thing I am sure of is that I can trace my shift in feelings back to when I first read a story about a hobbit stepping out of his little round door and setting of in search of gold, adventure, and self-identity.

I think I should stop at 6. Otherwise, I will be perusing my library all night, reading through books and deciding if they should be on my list or not.

This is not be any means a complete list. Not even close. Mary Shelley, Ray Bradbury, Leo Tolstoy all belong on this list as well. Nor is it even close to being a list of books I feel are must reads. I'll save that for another day.

What books are on your "favorite" list?

Let me know, so that, given enough uninterrupted alone hours, I can add them to mine.

Girl's Night

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last night was a girl's night out.

I met three other women and we saw New Moon.

It has been a very long time since I've gotten together with girls, without kids, without Hubster. In fact, after I got home and thought about it, I couldn't remember the last time I had done that.

Estrogen is therapeutic.

I had been looking forward to my night out all week. That morning, I spent a little extra time doing my hair, a little more time picking out my clothes, a little more time just trying to look nice.

When I got to work, I got all sorts of compliments. That I looked nice, that that color really looked good on me, that I should wear my hair down more often. My attending commented she had never seen me wear boots or wear my hair down. I explained that I was having a girls night out and was very excited about it.

She gave me a strange look.

"You get dressed up nice and do your hair for girls, but not for your husband?"

I laughed it off, saying I do look nice when I go out with Hubster, but that spending Saturday afternoons curled up on the couch watching college football together, while one of my favorite things, hardly inspires me to put that extra effort in the my hair and makeup or wear a pair of sexy shoes.

I've always put more effort into looking nice when I go out with girls. And up until yesterday, I didn't really think anything about it.

Maybe I don't feel the need to impress men anymore. I'm happily married to Hubster, and attention from any other male just really doesn't mean anything.

It doesn't mean that I've given up on impressing Hubster either. Although after 8 1/2 years, impressing someone just by doing your hair is a little harder. Although I have been complimented just on managing to get dressed post call, so maybe it's not. Hubster and I have just grown comfortable with each other, like an old pair of jeans or shoes that are the more comfortable thing you own.

But does all that mean I feel the need to impress other women?

I've come to the conclusion that women are much harder on other women than men are about other men. In an instant, we draw conclusion and make assumptions about other women based on their clothes, their body type, their posture, their company. We let other women make us feel self-conscious about ourselves more than any man ever could.

But I don't think that had anything to do with why I word lipstick and heels last night.

I don't think the women I was with last night would judge me if I had come looking like I do every other day of the week, like the harried, fatigued, mother-of-two, 80-hours-a-week-resident that I am. I don't think the women I was with last night would have noticed, or cared, if I had worn my work clothes out. I don't think the women I was with last night judge me for the extra "baby" weight I carry.

No. Sometimes pink and glitter and make-up are just sitting around, waiting for an excuse. And last night was mine.

The Lost Symbol

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I am finally reading again.

Okay, let me clarify. I am reading for pleasure again. I've been reading large quantities of material over the last several months, but it is hardly what I would call recreational reading. After all, "Anesthesia Techniques for Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease" or "Cricoid Pressure Results in Compression of the Postcricoid Hypopharnx" are hardly pleasurable pursuits at the end of long day. You only think I'm joking.

It has been months since I've read a novel. I did reread the entire Harry Potter series over the summer, but I finished that in July. It's been even longer since I've reviewed a book.

What better way to start reading again than with Dan Brown?

I enjoy Dan Brown novels. They fall into my brain candy category. The stories are interesting, the actual reading easy.

The first Dan Brown novel I read was The DaVinci Code. I love this book. The story and the thoughts behind the story captivated me, and I must admit, spoke to the feminist inside of me. Not to mention make me desperate to travel to Europe.

After reading The DaVinci Code, I was excited to read Dan Brown's other books. I looked forward to The Lost Symbol.

But here is the confession.

The book disappointed me.

Since it is new book, and there may be people out there who haven't finished (or started) it yet, I won't put in any spoilers.

The first part of the book was thrilling. I will admit that. There were a few chapters where I just could not put the book down, partially because my heart was beating fast, and I had to know if things turned out okay or risk not sleeping that night.

I felt the book reached it's climax about half way through the book. I kept waiting for this amazing reveal, something that would cause my jaw to drop and my mind to reel, even just a little.

It never came.

As I reached the end of the book, it became easy to see where the story was heading. After that point, the last several chapters became tedious to get through.

Brown has a way of just slightly overstating things in his book. This would change the world. This could effect everyone. I could see that with the themes of his two previous Robert Langdon books, but with this one, I just couldn't see it. The amazing things of the book were in the research done by the main female character, and while Brown describes some of her work, he does not frame it in a way that shocks or surprises the reader.

Like The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, Brown's description of the architecture, art, and history of the settings is breathtaking and detailed. I went to Washington D.C. for a class trip in middle school and reading about the buildings and art in this novel brought back vivid memories of that trip. However, it may have been that desire to maintain historical and cultural accuracy that may have caused the story to come up lacking in the end. I felt it would have been okay to exaggerate just a tiny, tiny bit. Maybe not. Maybe that would defeat the purpose, whatever that may be.

There is also the issue of character. I can easily overlook a slightly poorly written book if I connect strongly to the characters. I do genuinely like Robert Langdon. He is a great main character: logical, sceptical, with phobias included. (Although does anyone else just keep on picturing Tom Hanks?) However, the rest of the characters are 2-dimensional. The main female character in The Lost Symbol could have been interchanged with the main female character in his other novels. Attractive, intelligent, but not much more. The villians, while especially unexpected here (althought I figured it out halfway through) are not complex, but literarily complete evil.

I do not think that The Lost Symbol was a bad book. I rather enjoyed reading (most of) it. But I felt that it fell short of its potential.

A little bit early

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year.

When I had a retail job during college, I would go back to work the day after Thanksgiving to be welcomed by Christmas music and decorations that had been hung the night before. It was after Thanksgiving that the Christmas season started.

This year, there was a Christmas display up when we were getting candy for trick-or-treating.

I used to fight it. I would tell myself (and more importantly, Hubster) that I wasn't going to do my Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving.

There's only one problem.

I love Christmas. I love everything about it.

I would look longingly at the displays of wrapping paper, decorations, and cinnamon scented candles, but drag myself past them to continue with more practical shopping. I would hold off until after Thanksgiving, but it was always so hard.

Part of the reason for waiting is that I always thought Thanksgiving must feel left out. Yeah, the only reason you're looking forward to me is that it means shopping deals the day after. And I do love Thanksgiving as well. The traditions, the family, the hustle and noise, and candied yams and the pies. I love Thanksgiving, and it always felt like I was slighting the holiday by preparing for Christmas too early.

This year, we've started to prepare for Christmas a little earlier. We've already finished over half of our shopping. Partially because I convinced Hubster that Christmas would be so much more enjoyable if we weren't stressing out about gifts and crowded malls right before hand.

We'll still wait until after Thanksgiving to put up lights and the tree and wrap presents.

But already there is a hum in our house, the hum that Christmas is coming. And the fact that the joy and wonder of Christmas is slowly filling our home already doesn't bother me a bit.


Friday, November 13, 2009

"I imagine parenting is fairly intuitive."

This was told to me by someone who is not a parent.

I guess the statement itself would make that obvious. All I could do was stare at the person. Really? Intuitive? That would not be the first word that comes to mind when I think about parenting.

Your child has just rammed the shopping cart into a complete stranger. You put him in the shopping cart and he promptly flings out a package of tortillas, which hits another stranger in the head. What does your intuition tell you to do?

Your baby has not stopped crying for three days. You've been to the pediatrician, and everything is "fine." The crying has made it so you haven't slept for three days. What do you do?

You go running upstairs in response to a loud crash to find a dresser has been toppled over and the culprit has locked himself in the bathroom before he can be interrogated. 15 minutes later you run downstairs in response to another crash, to find another child climbing up a bookshelf and the globe in pieces below him. What are your instincts in this case?

(All of these represent true, first hand accounts of parenting. Ask me how I know.)

I feel like most of parenting has been about overcoming my instincts. I want to scream, yell, spank somebody, or just turn them into the customer service desk and say that someone really needs to keep an eye on this child. I've done more than my fair share of screaming. There have been occasional spankings. As of yet, no one has been left at a store. Maybe I'm a bad parent, but nothing about parenting has been very intuitive for me.

Well, other than thinking that my kids are cuter than everyone else's kids. Even with above mentioned stories.

I've run into people that have very well-defined parenting styles. I don't think I've been doing this job long enough to have good sense of exactly what it is I'm doing. For one thing, I knew that I was never, ever going to raise picky eaters. Because picky eaters are one of my pet peeves. And wouldn't you know it. Bug is the pickiest eater ever. He does not eat food that is red. Or things that he hasn't already had. Or things with milk. Which leaves us at French fries and....yeah.

As someone who has only been doing this for 7 years, I'm still a novice.

I listen to other people. Half the time, I feel desperate for advice. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me to please control my children, just so I can ask them earnestly, "I would love to. Please tell me how!"

Parenting styles come in more varieties than there are parents. There is no right answer. Finding a system that works is a delicate balance of multiple personalities, schedules, and plain old trial and error. There are some things that are definitely wrong. And there are things that almost always work.

One person once shared their parenting style with me. "I don't raise children. I raise adults. Just like you don't raise puppies, you raise dogs. You don't raise chicks, you raise chickens."

At first I liked this. That my parenting should be focused on instilling in my children the skills that would be most beneficial to them as adults.

But my children are not dogs or chickens. They are children. They have value in what they are right now.

I hope that I do prepare them to be amazing adults.

But I am also going to allow them to be children, and I'm going to enjoy every moment of that time I can.

Maybe it is all more intuitive than I thought.

The healing process

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Years ago, someone very close to me hurt me in such a way I thought I would never recover.

I'm not going into the details, because now, years later, the details themselves mean very little.

At the time, I felt angry, betrayed, neglected, and above all very, very sad. Heartbroken.

I know that this person never intended to hurt me. I understand that the circumstances surrounding the event may not have been possible to change. Even then, I knew that most of what happened was the perfect storm of bad events.

Knowing all that, I could have forgiven the person and moved on. However, one thing prevented me from doing this. It has prevented me for years from doing this. I have carried this hurt inside for a long time and it has severely influenced my relationship with this person.

The thing that prevented me from ever getting closure was this person's refusal to acknowledge what had happened. We both knew things probably couldn't have been different. However, in this person's mind, because he couldn't change things meant he didn't have to recognize the damage it did. Every time I tried to talk about it, all I was met with was justifications and excuses and even accusations. Why couldn't I recognize that it was the best he could do, and that should be good enough for me?

I eventually stopped talking about. I eventually stopped crying about it. I eventually stopped thinking about it all the time.

But it was always there, a giant gorilla that stood in place of our relationship.

I don't want anyone to think that I have spent the last many years carrying a grudge. It is not a grudge. It is such a big event for me that I needed to talk about it, and have only been met with resistance. And because of that, I felt I have never been able to start to heal.

My least favorite movie all all times is Love Story.

I felt it was less of a love story, and more of story of people using love as an excuse to treat each other badly.

"Love means never having to say you're sorry."

I don't believe that.

I think we are only truly sorry about hurting someone we love. And admitting a wrong and truly apologizing to a loved one is one of the most difficult things to do. Being able to say sorry, and mean it... now that is love.

Many people think that an apology is just words. That it doesn't do anything to change the action that happened. It's true that it doesn't go back and erase what happened, but it is not true that it doesn't change things. A true apology can be one of the most healing things there is.

During conversations with patients and patient families regarding bad outcomes, many of them say the same thing. They knew that things probably couldn't be different. They knew everyone did their best. But still bad things happened. The one thing many of these people wanted was an apology. Just to have their physician recognize what had happened and just say they were sorry. No defensiveness, no excuses, no justifications. Just an apology.

I had long given up on an apology.

Several days, I was on the phone with this person. We were talking, as we often do, about things that are "safe." Our families, our jobs. Then, out of no where, this person said apologized. Things have been rough for a very long time. And I'm sorry for that.

It was the first time in my life I have ever heard this person say "I'm sorry."

I'm not exactly sure what the apology was for. I'm not sure it was a recognition of the hurt I have been coping with for years.

What I do know, is that now, for the first time, there is a chance to start healing.

Plow Ahead

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oh blogesphere, how I've missed you! I've fallen woefully behind, not just in my writing, but also in reading so many of your blogs that I love so much. I've been trying to leave comments, just to let you know I really am still here, but even that has been spotty.

There are times when I really, really don't like my job.

The pre-dawn mornings, the frequent all-nighters, the constant crises, the eating every meal by myself, the potential for true disaster around every corner, the fatigue, the stress.

All of this is part of my job. I know that. I knew it before I ever decidedto go down this path. And there are days when none of it phases me. And then there are days when it overwhelms and crushes me.

Originially, when I was thinking about this post and trying to decide exactly what to say about my feelings, it was going to be a post about choice and having a say in the direction your life took.

But that is not what this post is going to be about.

There are mornings, when I wake up warm and comfortable. The sky is just turning from black to gray outside my east facing bedroom window. Hubster is sleeping next to me. The house is still. All I want to do is stay in bed next to Hubster, get a few more hours of sleep, wait for the boys to wake up and have breakfast with my family. I think to myself that maybe I'll just quit residency.

And then I think about how much I like our house. And if I quit my job, we'd have to live in an apartment again, and Hubster would have to go back to work, and then he might not be able to go to dental school like he so desperately wants to. I think all these things. Fine! I'll go to work, I yell at myself in my mind.

On one of my call nights, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. I was missing my family a little more than normal that night. It had been a busy night. Finally, at 1 am, I managed to find time to run down to the cafeteria to grab my first food of the day. The hospital was quiet, most of the lights off, all the doors to the clinics shut. All that made me feel even more sorry for myself.

Then, around the corner, I saw a man cleaning the carpet in the deserted hallway. He does it every night.

It wasn't just me working in the middle of the night. It wasn't just me away from my family. Here was a janitor, working in the dead of night, alone.

The cafeteria was staffed at 1 am by people who are also away from home. Some of these people may be working their second or third job and be away from their loved ones more than I am.

Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and plow on. The majority of us who work don't do it purely because we love our job that much. Or because we get so much personal satisfaction for what we do that we can't live without our job.

Okay, maybe some people do. I'm just saying I don't.

We go to work because we have a house and a car. We work because we need food and clothes. We go to work because people depend on us.

My views on work have completely changed since I know that I have three people back home that depend on me. I can't quit, even if it isn't exactly what I want to do (which would be sitting at home, playing with my children, and having time to read a good book.)

To be honest, my job is a pretty great job. Yes, it is exhausting. It is more demanding than many other jobs out there. Seriously, they had to implement laws to make sure residents didn't work more than 80 hours a week or 30 hours on one shift. People can be seriously injured if I have an "off" day.

But it is also a job that can be amazingly satisfying.

As long as I just have to suck it up and plow ahead, which I plan on doing, I'm glad I get to do what I do. People have it worse.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Other than the occasional tantrum and evidence of sugar withdrawal, this will be the scariest part of our holiday. Enjoy yours!

(Compliments of the amazingly talented Hubster)

Two Options

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Everyone can be an optimist when things are easy.

Okay, not everyone. Hubster is proof of that. I'll comment on what a beautiful day it is, and he will respond with something about how hot it will get, or how it won't last, or something else entirely pessimistic.

But it is easier to be optimistic when things are going the way they "should." When the boys are well-behaved, the cars both work, the weather is beautiful, and work is enjoyable.

This month has been none of those things. This month has pushed my ability to be optimistic to it's very edge.

My work this month has been more demanding than anything I have done previously. The people I am working with are some of the most difficult personalities I have ever encountered. My hours have been some of the longest I have ever put in, leaving when it's dark, coming home when it's dark practically every day.

The boys have reacted to my longer hours and other changes in their schedules by fighting more with each other. Monkey has had some regression in terms of sleeping and potty training. A lot of work around the house has fallen to Hubster, including the task of coping with the unwelcome changes in the boys' behavior. So Hubster has been a little more grumpy as well.

I've been so exhausted that my temper has been shorter, my desire to help cook and clean at home as been less. I come home and fall asleep shortly after, leaving little time to play with the boys (and even less time to blog.)

I dread going to work, mostly because of the people I'm currently working with.

I feel like I have every reason to fall into a pity party. There are days when I would just like to stomp my foot, and yell, and give up.

But I haven't.

I'm not saying that I haven't been grumpy. I'm not saying I haven't cried several times on my way home from work.

But I can't give up. I have to keep plodding on. And I have two ways I can do it. I can either cry, or I can laugh.

I'm doing my best to go with option 2.

And would you like to here something good about this month?

It's almost over.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Strange, that less than half way through fall, it feels like it is already over.

Where we come from

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I spent most of middle school and high school dreaming about attending an Ivy League school.

Of the onslaught of college recruiting material that arrived during the early fall of my senior year, the most treasured and poured over where pamphlets from Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Stanford. (Okay, I know Stanford isn't technically Ivy League. But's Stanford.)

I kept those particular recruiting packets long after I accepted my full-ride scholarship to the local state university.

I graduated Summa Cum Laude from my local state university, with the highest GPA earned by a female in the college of science. And I dreamed of attending medical school at UCSF, Mayo, or John Hopkins.

I applied to one medical school, and enthusiastically accepted a spot at a state medical school.

I worked hard during medical school and graduated with honors and Alpha Omega Alpha (or AOA, the national medical school honor society.) I had spent all of medical school picturing myself attending residency at Stanford (yep, there it is again), Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Mass General, or Mayo.

And then I matched into my top choice at a state program in the Midwest.

The decisions I made, compared to the ones I dreamed about, were made after weighing what was best for our family. There were times that I felt deeply disappointed. I had worked so hard, and had the ability to attend undergraduate, medical school, or residency at some of the biggest, most prestigious schools and programs in the country. But, for the good of my family (and ultimately even for the good of myself) I chose to attend less well known, more affordable state schools.

I wonder...does it really matter?

I attended public high school. I did not attend a rigourous, private, college prep school. But I still managed to get a full ride scholarship to a respected school. A state school, yes, but a good one.

I attended a state medical school. Many of my classmates had done their undergraduate at Stanford, MIT, Cal Tech, Yale, and Princeton. Those classmates had attended prestigious private programs while I had attended a state school. (And yes, I have on multiple occasions seen people say "state school" with a air of disgust or as a joke of mediocroty.) And yet, we had arrived at the same place in our lives.

I attended a state medical school, and now I attend residency along side individuals who trained at Brown, Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, and UCSF. They did go to the prestigious programs. And yet, here we are, at the same point in our lives.

I never attended any of the places that filled my academic dreams as a teenager. And yet, here I am, the initials MD behind my name.

Does it really matter where we come from?

I don't want to belittle the experience of attending an Ivy League university. The culture and surrounding probably run deep and inspire.

But in the end, does it really matter?

Because in the end, where we go depends more on who we are then where we come from.

No Right Time

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I come from a large family.

And when I say large, I mean "could have our own TLC show" type of large.

I'm the oldest of 10.

Yep, two whole handfuls of children. 12 of us all together, once you remember to count the parents.

I'll give you a while to take that it.


There are some downsides to being in a big family. There never seems to be enough space forever one. Never quite enough money for everything. And occasionally not enough time.

But the challenges never beat out the joys of having a large family. There are always enough people for board games (just sometimes no enough pieces, and then you improvise. I'll been the top hat, you be the shoe, and you can be rubber frog.) Happy birthday sounds so much better when sung by an entire choir (except when the choir consists of a couple of teenage boys, and then you just take what you get.) And there are enough for two teams in soccer, baseball, or basketball. And with that many birthdays, most of the year is spent in celebration. I always had the largest cheering section at all three of my graduations.

Most importantly, we always had friends. I'm not implying we always got along. Some sibling rivalries were more obvious and intense than others. I had siblings I always fought with and siblings I never fought with. But we never felt lonely.

I love my huge, crowded, loud, talented, chaotic, supportive, drama-inclined family.

But one of the strange things about growing up in a large family is the mind set that starts to set in. We felt bad for children in small families that only had one or two siblings. Or, heaven forbid, no siblings!

I grew up viewing parents who had one, two, or three children as selfish. They valued their time, money, and leisure more then their children. Career or pleasure topped the priority list above family. Small families were created by horrid people who valued peace and quiet more than they valued providing siblings and friends for their children.

I was determined to never be selfish. I was going to have a half dozen of my own children and create as many happy family memories as I had growing up.

(Remember, I was young, and like many very young people was prone to black and white images and a slight inability to view things for others point of view.)

I realized very soon after Bug was born that I was never going to have a huge family. I seemed to lack the pulled togetherness, resourcefulness, and patience of my own mother.

I love my two boys with a fierce, mother tiger like love. I am intensely proud of them, and nearly worship them.

But I came to realize that I was not cut out to be a leader of a very large flock.

And this is where it gets difficult.

I would really, really like another child. Monkey is three. And I can start to feel the baby hunger set in. I haven't felt that, well, since we decided to get pregnant with Monkey. Even when Monkey was two years old, I could hold other peoples newborns, cuddle and coo at them, and not feel one twinge of envy or baby hunger. But since Monkey is now mostly done throwing fits in the grocery store, nearly sleeping through the night, and for all intents and purpose potty trained, my brain has starting letting those TV commercials with wrinkly babies get to me.

Hubster and I have started talking about what our schedules look like over the next couple years, trying to get a good idea about when would be a good time to have another baby.

But I'm looking at 50-80 hour work weeks for the next four years, laden with overnight call at the hospital. Hubster is just finishing up some last minute requirements for his application to dental school.

If we were to have another baby in the next four to five years, that baby would spend a lot of time the same way Bug and Monkey have spent the previous four years. In daycare.

And then we ask ourselves...who's being selfish now?

Is it more selfish to continue with our plans for our careers and future and be content with our two boys? Or at least postpone baby number three four years until I am done with residency, have a stable job with some control over my schedule.? (That would make Bug 12 and Monkey 8 before we had baby #3, just to do some math.)

Or is it more selfish to give into the baby hunger and the theoretical chance of a much wanted girl (who would be just as wanted if they were a boy, just to make that clear) when they would be raised 8-10 hours a day by someone else? Just because we want another baby and would love her (or him) passionately and intensely, could we provide what is best?

Bug and Monkey are turning into well adjusted little boys, who play well with each other and others. Bug does amazing in school. They love each other and know that they are loved. They have done this even with years attending daycare behind them and in front of them. So I'm not saying daycare ruins children, or damages childhood.

But is it best?

When people ask why we decided to have children while still in medical school, we always replied: There is no right time to have children. There will always be reasons to postpone, put it off, delay it. There is no right time.

But maybe there is a wrong time.

I'm not exactly sure what time it is now.