Rules of Engagement

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hubster and I don't fight.

When I tell people this, there is usually the reaction that either I am lying or delusional. Some people have gone so far as to say that if we don't fight, it must mean that our relationship lacks passion; that fighting is "healthy" for relationships.

I disagree. Fighting is not necessary. Or beneficial.

When I say that we don't fight, I don't mean to imply that we never disagree. It would be unrealistic to think that two individuals would agree on everything. There are a multitude of things that we disagree about.

But we don't fight about it.

It's not always easy. Probably more for me, because I get very worked up over things and cry easily.

But we have rules. Rules for disagreements that have prevented us from fighting.

I'm not calling myself a relationship expert. And I'm not bragging. Or trying to say that my relationship is better than someone else's. But these rules have worked well for us. And I wanted to share them. Just in case.

Here they are..

1. Keep on subject. Don't bring up old arguments. Don't add, "And do you know what else bothers me...?"

2. Don't call names. Ever.

3. Don't attack the other person's occupation.

4. Don't attack the other person's education.

5. Don't attack the other person's family members.

6. Don't break things. Or slam doors.

7. It's okay to leave the room. But don't storm out.

8. If you need to, take a time out. If the conversation is getting heated, just stop talking, wait until you are calmed down, then try again.

9. Avoid talking about topics you disagree about in front of other people (related or not). It may just embarrass the other person and add more emotional fuel to the fire.

10. Don't yell.

I'm sure that I'm making this sound overly simplistic and easy. I'm not saying that. But it gets easier with practice.

Using these rules, we've gone eight years of marriage without a fight. (And please note: I did say fight, not disagreement. Just wanted to clarify that point one more time.)

I'm working on a list of rules about how to approach my children. Because I can get grumpy with them. More than I should. I've raised my voice to my children. While Hubster and I have never raised our voices to each other.

(However, it is true that Hubster does not color with marker on the furniture, or hit his siblings with baseball bats, or dump bowls of applesauce on the floor. He also does not try walking as slowly as possible when I am in a hurry. Or lick windows in stores.)

I realized just the other day that I need rules for me regarding them.

That's a work in progress.

There is one more things. For when all other rules fail. I love the person sitting across from me. Is winning this disagreement really more important than their feelings?

The goal of our marriage was not to sacrifice things we believe in or feel passionately all for the sake of just being able to say that we've never had a fight. I could just start agreeing with everything Hubster says, for no other reason than to keep the peace. But that would make our relationship less meaningful.

The goal was to be able to trust each other enough to feel that we can express our opinion, even if it differs from that of the other person, without being attacked.

That in this world, so full of people treating each other so horribly, that our marriage can be a safe haven.

Maybe I shouldn't, but I do

Friday, May 29, 2009

I'll admit it.

I get a lot of inspiration for writing from other people's blogs. I don't think this is cheating by any means. It just that people have ideas that get my mind going light speed, and then I need to write.

I read in several blogs lately about regrets.

Mostly, about how people were claiming that they didn't have any.

Not that they thought their lives were perfect or mistake free. But that they couldn't regret anything because it had made them the person they were today.

What's wrong with me?

I've finally gotten to a place in my life where I'm pretty happy with nearly everything.

But I still have regrets.

I've made it through medical school, and I think that I finally have stopped regretting going in the first place. But I will always regret how difficult I made the process for my family. I spent so much of medical school being completely miserable. And it didn't make it so I had to work less, or that people were nicer to me at work. All it did was make it difficult for my family.

I have a wonderful relationship with my boys. But I regret every time that I've lost my patience with them. There is never really a good excuse for it. And I know it didn't ever make me a better person.

I regret losing so many friends along the way. I could have done a better job keeping in touch, trying to be there for people, or just showing up.

I regret nearly every doughnut I have eaten on call nights and morning rounds. I might not have to work so hard to have something to report on Wednesdays if I had just eaten a few less of those glazed temptations.

I regret being so hard with myself when I was "younger." (It feels stranger to say younger when I'm only 27 and already young, but yeah, you know what I mean.) I beat myself up over how much I studied, about what I looked like, about how much I could get done in a single day. If I had just learned to relax and accept me for me, I would have not lost so much time being unhappy.

Maybe I'm over-reacting. Maybe none of these things are worth regretting. Maybe I need to work on letting go of these regrets and accepting that they have made me the person I am now.

But I don't think that any of those things benefited me. Just made me and those around me miserable.

And the regrets keep my eyes open to how to prevent those mistakes in the future.

Like my goal for residency.

My goal is to just suck it up. Yes it will be horrible. It will be much more miserable than third year or my fourth year sub-I could ever be. Will I want to quit? Yes. Will I probably cry? Yes (no probably about it.)

But I'm going to try to not be miserable. Because I have to do it. And being miserable won't make it so I have to work less, or my senior residents be nicer to me. And it won't make the process easier for my family.

I guess this is just a reiteration of my thoughts on guilt.

I don't dwell on my regrets. But I don't deny that they are there.

It was good while it lasted

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It finally happened. I knew it had to someday. But I was in denial.

My brother-in-law finally asked for his Wii Fit back. There is not emoticon strong enough to express how sad I am about this.

I lost nearly five pounds using that balance board.

I've gained 2 back in the week since he took it. (Okay, it's not just because the Wii Fit is gone. It's also because I've eaten out twice, gone on a road trip that involved marshmallows, and visited my mom.)

Unfortunately, our financial situation does not currently allow us to replace his with one of our own.

However, the Wii Fit is no longer enough for me.

I have a new lust object.

The Wii Active.




Until then, it is back to my stationary bike and the sidewalk for me.

For Better or For Worse

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today is day that Hubster and I have been married for eight years.

Those years have flown by. Hopefully by saying that, you can tell how happy I've been during these eight years.

It is no secret that we are blissfully happy.

I've very lucky. I'm sure that there is no other person in the world like Hubster. No one else would have put up with me this long. He makes me happy every. single. day.

The way things started out, you might not have guess it.

And when I say started out, I don't mean how things were when we were dating, or when we were engaged, or when we were first married. We were just as blissfully happy during those times as we are now.

When I start "started out," I mean just that.

The wedding day.

Hubster and I don't go to a single wedding or reception without thinking of our own. And what a complete disaster it was.

Oh, my handmade dress was wonderful, the flowers divine, the flower girls darling, Hubster dashing in his tux, the cake delicious, the location beautiful.

I know, it sounds great, right?

Well, let me set the stage.

My parents filled for bankruptcy around the same time. Both Hubster and I were in college. There was no money for this whole affair. We briefly talked about postponing the wedding, but decided there was no real benefit for us in doing that.

So we did the wedding on a shoe string. As in, so little, I can't really mention it here (you would die of shock.)

And we did it mostly by ourselves. Make the food, set up the ceremony and reception location.

Which resulted in us walking down the aisle an hour late. After many of my friends had given up and left. In 100 degree weather.

The guy doing the ceremony talked about making up after fights and forgot the rings.

My dear mother in law had invited some of Hubster's relatives to sing (unknown to either of us.)

When we were going around greeting guests, people kept complaining about the weather.

Do I wish that things could have gone better? Yes. Do I regret some of the decisions and circumstances around the wedding? Absolutely. Do I feel sad every time I go to someone else's exquisite reception? Yeah.

After all, the wedding day is the one that nearly every girl plans for the moment she is five years old.

Would I trade what I have with Hubster, trust, support, and love, for the most amazing wedding of all time?

Not a chance!


Monday, May 25, 2009

I feel that for my 100th post (which came faster than I had anticipated) I should have something profound to say.

I'm sure I could think of something. I could thank everyone for reading. I could talk about how great a release this blog has been. I could say that the best is yet to come.

But instead, I think I'll just share this with you.

Change of mind, not change of heart

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It has come to my attention as we make the round, saying goodbye to friends and family prior to our big move, that many are unaware of the change in my career path.

The majority of people still think (or thought, prior to being corrected) that I am going into pediatrics.

And when I tell them that, no, I'm actually going to be an anesthesiologist, there is the unavoidable explanation.

I'm always met with variations of the same conclusion.

"So, now you hate kids?"

I thought I would take this opportunity to explain why I changed my mind.

When I first went to medical school, I thought that I was going to be an anesthesiologist. For all of two weeks.

We had a lecture series for first year medical students that taught us about different specialties. I was very excited for the anesthesia lecture. But the physician giving the lecture ruined it for me. He kept saying how great it was because you got to be a doctor, but you didn't have to talk to people. I knew that I wanted to interact with people (if I hadn't wanted this, I could have just stayed in my plant lab.) So I left the lecture and never thought about anesthesia again.

After my first pediatric rotation, I was sure that I wanted to be a pediatrician. I loved the children. And the normal hang-ups that people have about pediatrics didn't bother me. Sick children didn't depress me. Demanding parents didn't irritate me.

(Okay, I also really wanted to be an OB/GYN for a while. But I had vacation right after my OB/GYN rotation, and realized how much I liked my time off.)

I also strongly believe in primary care. Being the portal into health care and the first point of interaction, continuity of care, and care of vulnerable populations all appeal to the idealist in me.

So, I created my schedule to best prepare me for pediatrics.

I took pediatric neurology and pediatric IV team. Then I took my pediatric sub-I. (Background: a sub-I is an opportunity for a fourth year medical student to act similarly to an intern (or first year resident) They get more autonomy and more responsibility.)

My sub-I was the most miserable experience of my entire medical school. I was abused by the other interns. I never got to sleep on my call nights. I was told that no one would cover my patients if I went home early on post-call and "golden days" (paperwork only days.) I was so emotionally beat down that I was close to a mental break down. I told my friends, my adviser, and my family that I was going to quit. I couldn't see any end in sight to the emotional disaster that my life was becoming.

One day, near the end of my rotation, I was rounding on a patient that had a severe intestinal condition. His parents had been at the hospital with him every single day since he had been admitted 13 days earlier.

I suddenly realized that I was envious of those parents. Yes, their son was sick. But at least they got to see him. I hadn't seen my children awake in over two weeks.

I came to a realization right there that I liked my children much more than I would ever like anyone else.

I knew that I couldn't do pediatrics. But I didn't know what else to do - besides quit.

About a month later, I rotated in anesthesia. I immediately was drawn in by how happy everyone seemed. Yes, they worked hard. Yes, the work was stressful and demanding (but honestly, in medicine, what isn't.) But they didn't have the same beat-down, lifeless look to them that other residents had. And they had a life outside of medicine. Residents and attendings would talk about movies during cases. Residents had time to see movies?!

And at the end of one day, when I was told that I could go home, I was shocked by how fast the time had gone. I hadn't been constantly checking the clock. I wasn't resentful of the time I had to spend at the hospital.

A week later, Hubster asked me what rotation I was on. Anesthesia.

"Well, you should do this. You haven't asked to drop out for weeks!"

Since then, I have completely fallen in love with anesthesia. The procedures, the physiology, the pharmacology. Everything was intriguing.

When I first told some of my classmates that I was going into anesthesia, there was disbelief. "But you have such wonderful bedside manner. It will be wasted in anesthesia!" "But, what about your feelings on primary care?"

I still get to talk to patients. The better the bedside manner, the fewer sedatives required before surgery. I'm the last one they get to talk to about their fears before going into the OR. I'm the last face they see as they fall asleep.

And I realized although I love the idea of primary care, it wasn't the right avenue for me. I may not ever practice in a small, rural clinic, taking care of people no one else would otherwise, but I still get to be an advocate for my patient. I can make suggestions for better pain control, for better nausea prevention, for faster recover.

I can still be there for them.

Something's Gotta Give

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm going to write about something different this Wednesday. Because honestly, you can only hear about someone's weight loss (or lack there of, or gain, etc...) so much before you want to completely skip the whole thing.

(And this isn't because I've given up on the diet, or I'm not having success. I'm still working at it. And I've lost 1 1/2 more pounds. Putting my total at 11 1/2 pounds so far. )

(But that's it. That doesn't make much of a post.)

So, this week, I'll talk about other things somewhat related to health.

And I'll start with a confession.

I shop at Wal-Mart.

This is either met with "So? I do to." Or "Gasp...How could you!?"

A little background.

A friend in medical school was married to an economist who studied the effects of Wal-Mart on small communities. He found a lot of evidence that after a Wal-Mart moved into a small community, mom-and-pop shops shut down at extraordinary rates, unemployment rose dramatically, and quality of life decreased slightly.

I also disagree with a lot of Wal-Mart's business practices. (Although this is not the time to get into all the details. There are plenty of links if you're interested: read here and here and here.)

Everyone knows that Wal-Mart sells a lower quality product than other chains. I would rather buy things for my home at Target than Wal-Mart any day.

And don't even get me started on their produce. I hate the commercials that say how wonderful Wal-Mart's produce is. Have you ever actually looked at the poor fruits and vegetables? Good luck finding a ripe avacodo. Or a non-soft cucumber.

Once I sent Hubster to grab some canteloupe for a party. He came back with canteloupe from Albertson's. When I asked why he had gone all the way to Albertson's when Wal-Mart is 2 minutes away, he said this.

"You know how grapes turn into raisins, and plums turn into prunes? Whatever canteloupe turn into, they're selling at Wal-Mart."

So despite all this, I shop at Wal-Mart.


After Monkey was born, I was lucky enough to stay home for six months with him. During this time, I decided that I was going to work on getting my family healthier. No more eating out. No more junk food. I was going to cook every meal. We were going to eat all organic, and local when we could. Everything was going to be whole foods.

I started shopping at this local grocer that sells primarily organic food and local products when there are available. The food was beautiful. Local corn, local heirloom tomatoes, organic onions, free-range chicken, certified hormone-free milk, wild fish.

In two weeks I had spent what we normally spent in two months.

It was not sustainable.

Our family budget is tight. There is not often room for luxury, and never room for extravagances. We just couldn't keep it up. I tried buying cheaper, not top-of-the-line organic. Still our budget wouldn't allow it.

So back to Wal-Mart we went. Back to where onions are 47 cents/pound instead of $1.75/pound. Back to where milk is $2.00/gallon and not $3.50/gallon. Back to where chicken is $5.00 for four boneless, skinless chicken breasts and not $8.00 for the same product at the beautiful store.

Do I miss it? Yes. I would rather feed my family the healthiest, most natural version of food that I can. (Even though Hubster is still a sceptic when it comes to organic food. He hears organic and he thinks carbon containing molecules and not pesticide-free food.)

I still try to cook at home every chance I get. I try to use fresh ingredients as often as possible. They don't say organic on them very often. And a lot are Wal-Mart brand. But we can afford them.

I guess this means that I'm a hypocrit. I put my budget before my ideals.

But sometimes, something's gotta give. And it's not going to be dinner.

Writing for Real

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I know that every blogger, wait, every writer, has the same problem. Do you write what you really want to? Or do you edit yourself from what seems most popular?

In blogging, where the number of followers and comments you have often speak to your blogging "status" it is easy to feel the pressure to write what is popular, even though none of us are being paid for this. We don't really have anything to lose, except followers.

(Which, by the way, this isn't saying that I don't appreciate those of you who do read. It means a lot to me, and gives nearly every day a pick-me-up.)

But thinking about the blogs that are popular, although they vary dramatically in content, have striking similarities. The people who write them are either funny or sarcastic (which can also be funny.)

I'm not really that funny.

I try. But usually my funny lands on its face while people stare.

And I don't want to be sarcastic.

Although this is becoming more and more prominent a trait. Part of it I blame on Hubster, who is the most sarcastic person I know. It has worn off a little.

But the other source of sarcasm has been my training.

In medicine, idealism, optimism, and daydreams are quickly checked at the door for better survival skills. Namely, cynicism and sarcasm.

We see a lot of bad things. Things don't often turn out the way I would like them. Children don't always go home with their parents and families don't always get time to say goodbye. Inequalities and poor decision making become glaringly obvious. Bottom-lines replace ideals.

Five years ago, I would have described myself as idealistic, optimitic, and hopeful. Now, I am just clutching at those in an attempt to not let more warped characteristics completely swallow me.

Another thing that most bloggers seem to avoid is politics. I'm pretty sure that we all have strong opinions about one aspect or another. I've avoided politics on my blog, despite down right passionate feelings. And I think I do this from example.

If you avoid politics on your blog, why?

I started this blog to hopefully reconnect with traits that seemed to be slipping through my fingers as I progressed through my training. I'm not sure I always do a good job. But I'm going to here and now make a re-commitment to write what I came here to write.

A better introduction

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Residency is just a little over a month away.

I've been trying not to think about it. I've been so happy during my time off. Playing with my boys, picking Bug up from school, reading to Monkey every night, catching up on my own reading.

I knew that it, like all vacations, wouldn't last. But it is so easy to pretend.

My first year, or intern year, contains a variety of clinical experiences. So that I have a broad variety of experiences on which to draw when I start dedicated anesthesia training during my second year.

I start in the emergency room.

I think my biggest fear about starting residency is being taken seriously. It never really happened during medical school. No matter how often I introduced myself as "Katherine, the medical student on the team," I was consistently called something else by patients.


Now, I'm not trying to belittle nurses or say that I'm better. Because without nurses, there could be no doctors. But the point is, I'm not a nurse. I'm a doctor.

Many school makes their medical students wear short, hip length white coats. This was to help differentiate medical students from residents and attendings. My school didn't do this. I wore a long white coat like everyone else. But despite this, I was never once "accidentally" called doctor.

Only nurse.

When people would ask what I was in school for, I would respond, "I'm in medical school." I got the same reaction from acquaintances, relatives, and strangers on the bus. "Oh, you're going to be a nurse!"

No. I'm not.

Once when I was admitting a patient from the emergency room, his cell phone rang. He answered it, talked for a moment, and then said, "Sorry. I need to go. There's a really pretty nurse here asking me some questions."

I know which emotion was stronger. I was flattered that he had referred to me as "very pretty" and not "nurse who looks like she hasn't slept in days, had time to comb her hair, and has the biggest, darkest circles under her eyes I've ever seen." But I was frustrated that he just assumed I was a nurse, despite my careful introduction.

It's not just my gender that have worked against me being taken seriously. It's my age. Or more accurately, my perceived age.

I think I can sum up this problem accurately with a single patient encounter. I had entered a room to place an I.V and take a patient back to the operating room. The patient turned to me before I had time to introduce myself and patted my arm.

"It's so nice they let high school students volunteer here."

Aww, thanks.

In the past, being seen as something other than I was and younger than I was made me timid. No one took me seriously, so I stopped seeing myself seriously. It wasn't until the end of medical school that I started to get a little confidence back.

This time around, I'm going to try to not let this past experiences hinder my confidence in anyway.

And this time, I can actually introduce myself as "Doctor Katherine." Maybe that will help.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Part of why movies are so great isn't the story or the characters. It's the background music. It always lets you know what to anticipate. Is someone about to be kissed or killed? Just listen and you'll have a pretty good guess.

I always wished that my life came with background music. Not only would I have a better idea of what to expect in my own life, it would just be cool.

So, I've created the soundtrack to my life.

This is not necessarily my favorite music, or what I listen to on a daily basis. But rather, it is the background music of where I've been, who I have been, who I am now, and what I (hopefully) am becoming.

(I also had to cut quite a few songs out. Because after 27 years, that would be a lot of music. And no one would buy a CD that had 462 songs on it.)

1. Lemon Tree- Peter, Paul, & Mary: My parents would sing PP&M songs as we road-tripped between California and Utah. I always remember sitting in the back of the car and falling asleep to the sound of Lemon Tree, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, and If I Had a Hammer. My dad also would play them on his guitar, whether it was around campfires or in the living room after dinner.

2. Annie's Song- John Denver: If there is a singer that reminds me of my dad, it is John Denver. When I was little, my dad had a list of songs taped to the back of his guitar. This one was on it. It was one of my favorites. He would play it and my five-year-old self would dance. Years later, he played it at my wedding, and I cried.

3. I'm Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage: I know: a big jump from PP&M and John Denver to Garbage. Besides that this song is "about" rain, and I love the rain and songs related to it, this is just a good song. It reminds me of my period of teenage angst. Bad days and good days and drives with my friends at night. Don't we all have that song?

4. I Love You- Donna Lewis: I asked some of my friends what songs reminded them of our time in middle school. This song was on all of their lists. I guess it reminds all of us of sleep overs, way too much sugar and nail polish.

5. You're All I Need- White Lion: This was the first (and only) song that Hubster sang to me. Just once. Back when we were dating, on the way home from a road trip. In the darkness of the car, lit by the instrument panel, him singing to me. One of the moments when how much I loved him hit me like a tidal wave.

6. Can't Help Falling in Love- Elvis: There was no way a soundtrack of my life would not have an Elvis song on it. Enough said.

7. Cable Car (Over My Head)- The Fray: No kidding, the first time I heard this song was after a very hard day in the hospital. Now, regardless of what the song is really about, it has become an anthem to the moments that I'm not sure I'm going to make it. (And you all thought I would choose another The Fray song.)

8. Unwell- Matchbox 20: There were days during medical school that I was sure I was falling to pieces and was never going to make it. I would sit on the kitchen floor and cry and ask to be allowed to quit. While I'm glad (I think) that I finished, it's hard to speak to how difficult those days really were.

9. If I had $1000000- Barenaked Ladies: Every time Hubster and I start talking about all the plans we have for our future, it isn't long before one of us says this. And we can't never hear this song without looking at each other and smiling and thinking how much we want for each other and our family. This is truly an everyday song.

10. Suddenly I See- KT Tunstall: The perfect song for all of us overly-ambitious, dedicated females. I felt that I could hear this music in the back of my head when I walked across the stage to receive my medical degree.

11. I Don't Love You Much, Do I-Guy Clark and Emmylou Harris: Okay, like I said, a little cheesy. But still perfect. I hum this song to my boys, because it is true.

12. When You Dream - Barenaked Ladies: I can't listen to this song without getting a little teary-eyed. Being a mother to two little boys had been the most amazing thing that I can imagine. And it is hard to find songs that speak to the hopes and wishes and insecurities and successes that parenthood provides without them being a little cheesy. But this song is perfect.

13. Closer- Better than Ezra: Every time I hear this song, I get that tingly feeling and I want to run and hold my family and thank them for everything and tell them how much I love them. This song, every since I discovered it one day among a bunch of songs Hubster had dumped into my iTunes, has become the current theme song for my life.

I know that it is an eclectic (although not random) collection of music, but isn't everyday like that? It was hard to sift between all the songs that I love and those that have strong memories and emotions tied to them, but in the end these are the ones that made the cut. (I'm sur that there will be a sequel sometime in the future.)

Music speaks to me (or at least I pretend that it is). These songs in particular always have something to say.

Give it up

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Like always, it's two steps forward, one step backwards.

I've gained 1 1/2 pounds this week (which is amazing that it is so little considering the amazing food I enjoyed over Mother's Day.)

But at least I haven't even approached what I started at.

A little weight gain like this doesn't extremely disturb me. Unless it is more next week. But I'm working on that.

Last night, curled up on the couch watching Taken, I decided to enjoy the movie with a huge bowl of popcorn.

I love popcorn. LOVE. Especially with lots of butter. It could be my favorite food of all time.

But I've really cut down. I don't even it is once a week. More like maybe twice a month.

And I don't feel sad about it. By only eating it occasionally, I don't feel guilty when I do eat it.

Other things that I have almost completely cut out of my diet are beef and ice cream. I still have ice cream, but we don't keep it in the house anymore. Which makes eating half a gallon of butter pecan right out of the box while watching When Harry met Sally... much more difficult.

However, I'm not willing to give up pancakes or waffles. Seriously, they're probably the best thing I cook, and I just can't give that up.

What are things you are willing to give up? And more importantly, what are things you aren't?

Our Problem Now

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two weeks ago, our dishwasher broke. As in pouring water out the bottom and forming the equivalent of Lake Michigan in our kitchen.

But we didn't stress too much. We grabbed several towels and a mop, mopped up all the water, and made a call to our apartment manager. 6 days later, we had a new dishwasher.

Yes, I know that it is slightly ridiculous that it took 6 days. But the only real inconvenience to us what that I had to do dishes by hand for those 6 days.

Things won't be like that soon.

In our new house, everything will be our problem. There won't be any apartment manager to call. There won't be any groundskeeper who shovels all the walks and mows the lawn and rakes the leaves.

There will only be us.

Mentally, I think we are completely ready. We've been ready for years.

But the thought that if the water heater goes out, or the dishwasher floods us out, or the air conditioner goes kaput, it is our problem.

I don't think I would be so worried about this if our budget wasn't so tight. I also think that knowing that I am going to be the only source of income also stresses me out.

Hubster has been the main money maker for our family, exclusively so for the last five years. And although I helped with the budget and took care to keep expenses in check, it never weighed on me like it does now.

Hubster has done such a great job providing for our family. I am just hoping that I can do nearly as good of a job as he has.

And I don't want a rogue dishwasher ruining it for me.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just tall enough to see myself,
a blue-eyed reflection on a large metal bowl,
waist high to the magical woman
that raised me, and bread.
That now raised me onto the cool ceramic-tiled counter top,
to sit cross-legged,
and watch.

Watch her floured hands
turn, knead, work that yeasty golden globe.
The same hands that mended the roof
when it leaked, and my heart when it cried.

Through the Nevada window, sunshine
buttered the flour air and afternoon
waited for dinner.

Mimicking the magic, I pound floured fists
into the sticky, smooth dough,
training my baby hands to raise
children and bread.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Back when I was newly married, I had a job taking orders for national florist. (By the way, worst job ever, but not the point.)

Before this job, I always thought that Valentine's Day would be the busiest time of year for florists and flower shops. But, turns out, it's not.

It's Mother's Day.

Because not everyone has a significant other, but everyone has a mother.

My mom is spectacular.

She's the one who told me my kids wouldn't hate me if I wasn't there every minute of their lives. She's given me so much support during the years.

And the fact that she has been there when I need her is amazing. Because I come from a big family.

And when I say big, I mean "could have our own TLC show" big.

But even with all the "competition" for her time and attention, none of us ever felt slighted. She was always there when it mattered.

Now that I am just keeping my head above water with my own small family, I appreciate everything she does even more.

Thanks, Mom.

What Matters

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nothing seems to make women more defensive than a conversation about stay-at-home mothers versus working mothers.

These "Mommy Wars" have inspired books, TV shows, and blogs.

It is a mix between what women see as judgment from other women and our own self-imposed guilt.

If we are a stay at home mom, we think that working moms are judging us for not having a career, for giving something of ourselves up. We also have our own guilt that we could have done something else or more with our lives.

If we are a working mom, we think that stay at home moms are judging us for picking something else over our children, for having our priorities wrong. And we struggle with the guilt of not being there for our children ever moment.

I used to think that the perception of being judged by other women for the choices I had made was just that: my perception. No one was really judging me. It was just my own guilt that I projected on others.

However, that's not complete true. I've had conversations with other women, relatives, and friends. I've heard a lot of things.

Example: "I don't see how you do it all. My children are way too important for me to be able to do work and take care of them." So, are you saying I don't think my children are important?

Example 2: "I'm surprised you choose to have children at this point in your career. How can you focus on getting a good residency?" I don't know. How do you explain that you don't have kids and you didn't even get a residency spot?

Example 3: "I feel bad for your kids." Yes, they have spent time at daycare. But we have game nights and weekly outings. They are read to every night, given horsey rides to bed. What exactly do you feel bad about?

I can't understand why women aren't more supportive of each other, regardless of our choices. Motherhood is hard. Maneuvering through the professional world as a women is hard. Why do we have to make it harder for each other by heaping on the guilt?

I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. All I saw it as was a lot of repetitive thank-less work. I did not want that for myself.

Until I had my boys.

I love my boys so much, it approached Old Testament idolatry.

Given the choice, I would stay home with them every day, just playing, reading, throwing balls, racing cars, going on outings.

But I don't want to stay home with them in a tiny apartment, living paycheck to paycheck, knowing that the next time the car breaks down our savings will completely disappear.

So I'm doing my very best to have the best of both worlds. I'm hoping that when I'm done with residency and fellowship and all that goes along with it, life will be more comfortable for us. I should only have to work 2-4 days a week.

Hubster also loves our boys a ridiculously huge amount. He wants to be with them as well.

I don't think it would be fair for me to get to spend more time with them at his expense. I could be a stay-at-home mom, even now. But that would involve him working extra hard, including evenings and weekends (which he has had to do in the past.) I would get more time with the boys at the expense of Hubster having almost no time with them.

Neither of us wants that.

It's going to take a while for us to get to where we want to be. But when we do, things will be great.

Yes, it probably is unfair that my oldest son will have spent is youngest years during this difficult time. But he is happy. He knows he is loved.

And THAT is what matters.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

(I know that this post should have been up yesterday, but I had internet problems which led to me doing all sorts of things I neither understand nor am qualified to do. But I do now have internet again. And I just can't wait a whole week to post this.)

Drum roll please.

I have now lost 10 pounds!!!

After my little temper-tantrum last week, who would have thought? But it's true. I had just reached a plateau, and although I knew that mentally, it was hard to cope with emotionally. But I'm now off that plateau, and back on the thrilling ride downwards.

I talk about my weight quite a bit. I think about it even more. But there is a good reason for this.

My oldest son will be turning 7 this summer. That means in the last 7 years, I had gained a lot of weight. Between two pregnancies, medical school, and all the stress that goes along with those, I had gained 50 pounds in 7 years.

50 pounds! That is a lot.

It was enough for me to not feel at home in my own body. I have spent the last several years not even recognizing myself. I felt like someone else. I had gained the weight so fast that my self-image didn't have time to keep up with my real image.

I was critical of my body when it was 50 pounds lighter. But this new body was one that I didn't even know. And I hated it.

My mom didn't keep any of her baby weight until her sixth pregnancy. My sister was back to her pre-pregnancy weight less than six weeks after her daughter was born. My grandmother probably weights as much now as she did when she was 18.

It hurt being the only fat one in the family.

The dieting and exercising have been demanding, both physically, but even more so, emotionally.

This 10 pound weight loss is a big deal for me. It's evidence that a lot of hard work is starting to pay off. That I'm on my way to being a little bit healthier.

I still have some more to go. Now I'm only 15 pounds over my medically ideal body weight, instead of 25.

During this process, I've come to look at myself a little differently. I've become a little more forgiving of myself. I'm starting to accept what I see in the mirror. To appreciate my new curves. To be less critical.

I know that I'll never be back to that size 4 girl I was before this whole process began 7 years ago.

And I'm starting to be okay with that.

Season Finales

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Many of my favorite shows are rapidly approaching their season finale. Although this means a lot of excitement, it also means a summer full of re-runs.

(Although Psych will be starting up with new episodes this summer. So at least I have witty 80s references to keep me happy.)

I used to say I was a fan of reality television. This was back when Survivor was about the only reality show there was. However, I don't watch "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars," "So You Think You Can Dance," "Big Brother," or "The Bachelor." Since these are the first things that people think of when they hear reality TV, I don't say I'm a fan of reality TV anymore. I leave it at being a fan of Survivor and Amazing Race.

Amazing Race ends next week. And this is the first time I don't hate at least one of the teams in the final three. I'm really hoping that Tammy and Victor will win. After all, they've completely dominated most of the race. They deserve it. But if Luke and Margie win, I'll still be pretty happy. Come on, being in the final three of a uber-competitive race, both physical and mental, doing awesome, and being deaf? That's a big deal. It's so nice to see people not using disability as an excuse, but a reason to push themselves harder. It makes it so I just expect even more from myself.

Survivor is also approaching its finale. I would just like to say that while none of the contestants are as hot as resident physician Marcus for last season, this is shaping up to be an amazing, amazing season. The contestants are crazier than ever (um, Coach, you're a big liar!). The blindside votes are better. The alliances are more surprising. Personally, I'm rooting for J.T.

Marcus from Survivor Gabon

Lost will be ending in a couple weeks. I'm very broken up about this. I watched the first three seasons of Lost on DVD. Hubster and I watched 4 episodes a night, every night, until we had seen all three seasons. During the approximately three weeks this process took, we were extremely exhausted, but so intrigued by the story, we just couldn't stop.

So for us, only one hour once a week has been a tough adjustment. But the time in between seasons is akin to torture. What will we talk about at dinner?

As for this season, it's been pretty good. I really missed the flashbacks, so I'm glad they've gotten back to those in the last few episodes. But I'm too broken up about Daniel Faraday's death to be very happy. Lost always does this. Create characters you love, and then kills them off. Charlie, gone. Eko, gone. Daniel, gone. But pure-evil, master-manipulator, horrible Ben? He's still alive. I'm hoping next season brings a little more justice.

But I'm not going to dwell on the inevitable sadness of the time after season finales. I'm going to just sit down on my couch with a huge bowl of popcorn, and enjoy the time that we have left.

The Bell Jar

Monday, May 4, 2009

I was terrified to read this book.

Having studied the poetry of Sylvia Plath during high school and college, I was familiar with her writing, and also knew her tragic life story. I was worried that the book would make me so sad that I wouldn't be able to shake it.

Now, I wish I had read this book earlier.

(I know that a lot of you read this book in high school, but really, there are only so many books you can read, and this one didn't come up. And I think I can appreciate it more now than I would have been able to then.)

The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel, follows Esther Greenwood, 19 years old and a stellar academic, through her descent into depression. Plath refuses to let her character wallow in self-pity. She doesn't want you to feel sorry for her, doesn't want you to pity her. But in the end, she nearly breaks your heart.

Set in the 1950s, at the height of "traditional gender roles," a large struggle for Esther is what is expected of her versus what she wants for herself. She wants a family, wants love, but feels disillusioned by the women around her. She wants to be successful, a poet or a teacher, but has no proof that this is not incompatible with her other desires.

The writing is both simple and provocative. Full of the metaphors that Plath is famous for, the story is both straight forward and poetic. Esther sees her life as a fig tree, each possibility, each choice a ripe fig at the end of branches. But instead of feeling that all these figs are within her reach to harvest, she feels stuck at the trunk, as the figs blacken and fall to the ground.

Told exclusively through Esther's mind, the book offers no relief from the stifling, oppressive air she experiences while under the bell jar. But I have never read a more chilling, accurate, or believable account of depression.

This is a must read for anyone who has dealt with depression on any level, or known anyone with depression.

I came away, not pulled down by the story as I had thought I would be, but amazed and impressed by how fresh the air really is out from under the bell jar.

Through and Through

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Whenever Hubster and I hear anyone refer to themselves as geeks or nerds, we just laugh.

Because we know the truth.

They have nothing on us.

It took a while, but we have completely accepted that we are true nerds, through and through. And now, honestly, we are quite proud of it.

I was a biology major with a minor in chemistry. Hubster got a double major in mathematics and physics. I was president of the science club in high school, winning silver metals in state competition. Hubster led his class to a championship in the "Knowledge Bowl."

And we are doing the best we can to instill these precious attributes in our boys.

They have a model solar system hanging from their bedroom ceiling. We encourage them to "play" on Google Earth for computer time. We spend afternoons at museums. Family movie night? Your pick: Planet Earth or Blue Planet. And for fun...

"Guess what we're going to do today?"


"Grow salt and sugar crystals!!!"

And that's what we do. And each day, they would oh and aw about how much the crystals had grown. Until finally it was the day to take them out and eat them.

And then I saw these flash cards on Uncommon Goods. And I WANT them for my two year old!

This is all for their own good.

With a physician mom, and a dad applying for dental school, being a nerd can really pay off. Well, we hope so. Someday.