Friday, December 17, 2010


I love Christmas. It is by far my favorite holiday. I love the lights, the food, the music, giving presents, and the general happy spirit of the season. And although I love the holiday, I feel like I have had to work a little harder than usual to feel festive this year. And now, a week before Christmas, and because of a series of unfortunate events, I feel like all of the Christmas spirit I was trying to have has been squashed out of me.

Last Saturday, I dragged my good friend and her two kids out with me to do a 5K walk. I signed up weeks ago for a "Gingerbread Walk," a 5K where we would walk around the main street of a little town, collecting cookies along the way. It sounded fun and festive, and would have been great, had it not been December and raining. We made the best of it, but our kids were cold and wet, and they lasted through 6 (out of 35) cookie stations and about 1 mile, the last half of that being on the way back to the car after calling it quits while the two young boys screamed their poor little drenched heads off. We dried the kids off and took them to McDonald's for lunch. And then Gunner and I came home and ate our six cookies. I think that cancels out any exercise we got in that day.

Yesterday, I dropped Spiff off at the airport for his millionth interview trip of the season, and then I dragged Gunner all over the city in order to finish up my Christmas shopping. We had to wait an hour for a store to open, so as we hung out in the childrens' section of Borders, he pooped. As I went to change him, I realized that I didn't have a spare diaper with me. "There goes the rest of my shopping trip," I said to myself. But determined not to have to drag us both out of the house later in the day, I cleaned him up, pulled up his pants over his bare little bummie ("My pants fall down, Mommy!"), and carried him to the neighboring Whole Foods store to buy some organic, chemical and dye-free diapers, just praying that he wouldn't pee on both of us. He was a real trouper, and with the help of some animal cookies and dum dums, we made it through the marathon shopping trip.

Then I stayed up way too late last night finishing up some homemade Christmas presents, and wrapping and packaging gifts to send off to family members. I told myself that the sacrificed sleep was worth it because everything was ready to go, and all gifts would be to their recipients on time, as long as I could make it to the post office today. A friend even stopped by my house unexpectedly today and volunteered to watch Gunner for me while I ran to the post office! Gratefully, I took my large box and several small envelopes to the post office, where there wasn't even a long line. All good signs, right?

The lady behind the desk worked through my stack of packages quickly. And then she got to my large box, which weighed in at a whopping 6 pounds. It came up on the computer as an $18.40 package, which was more than I had hoped, but I sucked in my pride and kicked myself for procrastinating Christmas, and I swiped my debit card to pay for it. Only then did the desk lady say, as she got out a measuring tape, "Oh, gosh, wait! I don't know where that number came from! Your dimensions are all wrong. It's not $18.40. It's $32."

Excuse me?! $32?!!! To send a package that weighs six pounds?! Because my dimensions are wrong?!?!?!?!

What does that even mean, anyway?!?!

I told her that I was in no way willing to pay $32 to send this package, so I immediately grabbed some flat rate boxes and proceeded to move and repackage everything, trying desperately to get the various items to fit in a box. Two items had to be unwrapped and shoved into the box, and will have to be re-wrapped by kind family members on the receiving end of things. One item didn't fit and will not be sent for Christmas. And as much of a bummer as that was, I figured that it was okay because I would not be spending $32 to ship something that cost me only $13 to begin with.

So, I placed my newly repackaged parcel on the counter for her to work on. It was a flat-rate box that cost a blessed $10 to send. All is well.

Except that I had already swiped my debit card and already paid the USPS $18.40. And this is how the rest of our interaction went:

Desk Lady: "You have 8.40 left on your purchase. Can I sell you a book of stamps?"

Me: "No, I don't need stamps. I have plenty of stamps. Can you void that last transaction, please?"

DL: "We can't refund debit card transactions. But I can sell you a book of stamps."

Me: "I don't need stamps! I just want to pay for the package, and that's it."

DL: "Well, I can't refund the money, so you either buy a book of stamps, or pay $18.40 to send this $10 flat rate box."

And that's about when I blew a gasket, melted in to an embarrassing pregnant, hormonal puddle on the floor, gave in, bought the stupid book of stamps, and stormed out of the post office, while the desk ladies laughed as I walked away.

I'm still seething about how it was her mistake in the first place to measure the package incorrectly, how she basically forced me to buy a book of unwanted postage stamps, and how she was utterly unwilling to do what any other cashier in the country is trained to do and void the transaction.

Then when I got home, I found Gunner crying uncontrollably at the door, where he had been since I walked out of it 25 minutes earlier. My poor, generous friend was calmly making lunch and feeding her two boys in my messy kitchen while my kid screamed uncontrollably in the entryway. I walked in feeling so bad for putting her through that, and for being hoodwinked by the USPS, and she soon had two crying people on her hands.

Now besides having a new resolution to boycott the US Postal Service for the rest of time, I'm having a hard time feeling the Joy of Christmas. I'm sure that I will feel differently in a day or two. I will be happy when Spiff is finally done traveling and home for the holidays on Monday evening. I will be happy to spend Christmas with my little family and my good friends here in town. I will be happy to bake and eat yummy food, play games, and watch Gunner's excitement over Christmas presents. But at the moment, I'm just not feeling it.

So, please tell me something to cheer me up. Share a Christmas story, or a successful shipping story! Or just something to help me bring the Christmas spirit back into my hardened little heart. I do want to love Christmas this year.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Loving My Boy

We put our Christmas tree up on Sunday. Gunner was so excited about decorating the tree, and it was so much fun to watch him hang the "guys" (little Scandinavian people) and "tubas" (bells) on the tree. He loves his tree so much, and he calls it his "Christmas". He even made Spiff and me sit down on the floor with him in front of the tree and "Watch Christmas". Who knew that a Christmas tree could be such an exciting show?

Gunner and I made a batch of Jiffy blueberry muffins today, and then he licked the batter bowl. Seriously, Jiffy Muffin mix is really that good!
And just as a side note, notice the box of Wheat Thins on the table. Gunner refers to them (and Chex Mix) as "chicken". They are the only meat products he's willing to eat.

Tonight, my baby had the hiccups. I put Gunner's little hand on my belly so that he could feel it, not really expecting him to feel anything or get it at all. But he felt it! I explained that the baby had the hiccups, and he smiled and pressed his little hand in closer so he could feel them better. Then he kept asking for more hiccups as I put him to bed. Pretty awesome.

The best part of my day these days is bedtime. I love reading books and cuddling with my little boy before his nap or bed. It gets better every day as he gets better at talking. He remember phrases from his favorite books and quotes them throughout the day. And he almost always asks for more books, which is almost always irresistible for me, and I almost always cave and read him just one more. Especially when he asks for them by content, like tonight when he asked for the peanut butter ("beanut buttet") book, which turns out to be a library book where a dog eats some butter off the kitchen counter on one of the pages. I think the only thing I love more than reading him stories is singing his bedtime song while he cuddles on my shoulder. He's old enough to pick his song these days, and it melts my heart to hear him ask for "the daddy song again." Like I said, it's the best part of my day.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The interview trail and duty hours

So the interview trail has been a busy one for me. I have been trotting all over the midwest, and I'll share a few thoughts on the strengths of the various programs that I've been to:
Mayo: Amazing physical facilities. Dozens of different kinds of marble in the waiting rooms alone. Also, the truly bizarre cases come to Mayo
Michigan: A lot like Mayo from a pedagogical standpoint, Ann Arbor has a little more going on than Rochester
Case Western Reserve: Sweet moonlighting possibilities where you can make $65/hr doing anesthesia after hours. Level 1 for children's trauma.
Cleveland Clinic: Very strong in hearts, lots of pump cases and congenital cases. Very strong ICU
University of Wisconsin: national leader in transplant, very livable town.
Medical College of Wisconsin: Strong peds rotation
Washington University: Has everything, knife and gun club.
SLU: lots of penetrating and blunt trauma.

I have two more anesthesia interviews and three more prelim or transitional year interviews before I'm all done in January.

So, now my rant about duty hours. Residents are currently able to work no more than 80 hours a week, averaged over a month, with no shift lasting longer than 30 hours. They must also have 8 hours off between shifts. I think this is reasonable and allows for sufficient exposure to ensure a balanced and adequate post-graduate education. The Institute of Medicine, a think-tank (if they in fact think there) which makes recommendations to the ACGME, which is the accreditation body for residencies, recommended that interns not be allowed to work more than 16 hours at a time. This recommendation becomes codified into regulation next summer, when I become an intern. Great! I hear you cry. Interns won't be as tired and will be alert and less prone to make errors. Right? Wrong.

Here are the problems with that line of reasoning. Yes, there will probably be fewer fatigue related errors. The flip side of having shorter shifts is that there will now be more hand-offs of patient care between residents. Would you rather have your ailing father be cared for by someone who had seen and monitored his care continuously for the first day he was admitted? Or would you rather have 3 different hand-offs?
Remember playing Telephone as a kid? the same problems with garbled messages and discontinuity will now exist in medicine. In essence we're trading fatigue for the problems engendered by frequent pass-offs of care. I think it will also turn the newest generation of physicians into clock-punchers who will be ill-prepared for the real world where doctors don't have duty hour restrictions. I would rather work hard as a resident and emerge a well trained physician who is competent and has seen and cared for a wide variety of illnesses than emerge a well-rested but half-trained doctor.

There are also changes for upper level residents, who will only be able to work for 24 hours straight. This will not be any change for anesthesia residents who only work 24 hours at a stretch when on call anyway, but will be devastating to surgical residents. If you shorten the amount of time a resident can be at work, you limit the number of procedures he does. Would you like to have your knee replaced by new surgeon who has done it 350 times in training? 200 times? 100? 50? 10? It is a mathematical necessity that in order to be competent in a procedure, you have to have a baseline minimum number of repetitions to be good at it. Surgical residents are going to be doing fewer cases and emerging from training with less experience than their predecessors.

Bravo, institute of medicine. That's some strong work.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thar she blows

As previous posts have noted, we have been subject to an invasion by Mus Musculus Domesticus, or "el mouso"as the Spaniards are wont to say. 3 spring traps, 3 sticky traps and 5 pieces of anti-coagulant bait were to no avail. Our bold little nemesis would spring forth in the evening to scuttle across the kitchen floor or race across the dining room floor. We would rise, anger boiling and driving us into a killing rage, only to be frustrated as he scampered arrogantly beneath the baseboards. This evening, Mindy noticed the enemy as he darted behind a bookcase. Surely this is a dead end, I thought. The baseboards seemed to close to the floor for even a mouse to scuttle beneath, yet when I looked behind, there was nothing. I even prised the bookcase away from the wall a few inches for a better look, but there was nothing.
We sat on the couch, thoughts of vengeance filling our hearts. Lulled by thoughts of another failed attempt at extermination, I was unprepared when Wiff cride "Oh! Mouse" again. He was running across the dining room and hid under the piano. Aha! I though, we will drive him out with music, like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Wiff hastily improvised some 20th century atonal riffs, since rodents hate Schönberg, this seemed a logical choice. Nothing. No hasty retreat from his musical abode. I peeked under the piano with a headlamp, hoping to spy the dreaded beast. Nothing at the bass end. I moved upwards in register, and still nothing. Finally, beneath the plinky little notes at the high end, I thought I saw a robust looking dust bunny. Upon closer inspection, the dust bunny had moved a little.
Quickly, I outlined the plan to Wiff, who reluctantly agreed to cooperate. Would she prefer to be the Coaxer, or the Smasher? Coaxer she quickly replied. Her job was to use a wooden spoon under the piano to drive him out where I would quickly reduce him a lifeless paste with a hiking boot. As I refined the plan in my mind, I recalled that deep in the recesses of my stored camping gear, there was a blow gun. I ran downstairs, leaving instructions with a very hesistant Wiff to prosecute the rodent with extreme prejudice, should the occasion arise. I tore into my boxes of camping gear, and at the bottom, was able to dig out my blowgun.
Hastily, I assembled the 4 pieces, and pulled a dart out of the holder. I checked under the piano to ensure that my target was still downrange. I put the muzzle of the blowgun up to the edge of the piano, drew in a breath, and expired swift death to the mouse waiting 6 inches away.

We now have a very small addition to our trophy room wall.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Unwelcome Houseguest

We have a mouse in our house. It's so super gross to admit it, but there it is. The little creature came in on the first cool day of the season, about a week and half ago, on a day when we happened to have some contractors working on our bedroom wall. Since they were walking in and out of the house and up and down the basement stairs, I blame them for letting the little mousie in. That first day, just after we finished eating dinner, it scuttled across our kitchen floor and ran into a crack between the cabinets and the dishwasher. I was so grossed out I couldn't step foot in the kitchen for the rest of the evening. Spiff thinks I overreacted. Gunner now walks around periodically scolding the mouse, "No, No, Mouse is yutty!"

Spiff found it several days later scurrying around the drawer under our stove among the baking dishes. I can assure you that we have washed those dishes several times! I can also assure you that if it had been me who had found him there, I would have had a heart attack, and then run screaming from the house, just before moving into a hotel for the rest of the winter.

Later that night, our bold little mouse scurried into our living room. Spiff saw it run behind the couch. He got all excited by the thrill of the hunt, handed me a work boot and said, "Okay, when I move the couch, it's going to come running your way. Stand on that vent and smash it before it gets away! Great. Ready.......Go!!!" He practically picked up the couch and threw it two feet into the room, leaned over it and yelled, "Ha!", while I squealed "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" from my post on the vent with the boot dangling tentatively from my girlie little fist. The mouse must have found another exit because I thankfully didn't have to try my hand at boot-mouse bashing!

A couple nights later, we watched him scuttle around the house. He appeared at random places without any kind of indication as to how he got there. We'd see him at the stove, then by the TV in the living room, then scurrying under the baseboard across the room, without having run across the room. It was like a gross version of Jack Jack Attack, when Jack Jack is floating around the house through walls, while Kari was chasing him from room to room, never quite knowing where he is going to surface. Spiff occasionally tried to "catch" him by waiting stealthily on a kitchen chair with a small frying pan in hand. He never did.

We have set all kinds of traps around the house. Sticky traps, snap traps baited with peanut butter, and mouse poison. I have had dreams of catching him. One night in particular, I woke up and heard noises in the kitchen, which I then convinced myself were the sounds of the mouse getting caught by the snap trap behind the fridge. I even thought that I posted "Got Him!" as my facebook status. I couldn't quite believe that the trap was still empty in the morning. Even more unbelievable was the fact that the peanut butter on the trap had been licked clean, and the trap was still set.

We haven't seen him for a few days. We're hoping he got some of the poison and has now gone somewhere to die quietly. But if he's still around next weekend while Spiff is away, I'm borrowing a cat.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

And that's how I broke his heart...

New words for the week: Church (turch) and Nursery (nursy).

Gunner has been asking all week long to go to church. Seriously, all week long! I didn't know that he knew or cared that we go to church, other than that it's the place we try to make him sit still and be quiet! He even asked to take one of his friends to church.

As it was Sunday today, we went to church. We planned to only stay for Sacrament meeting because Gunner has a cold and we couldn't send him to nursery. I was actually happy because that meant that he would get a Sunday nap, which hasn't happened for months. So we headed for home.

And when he realized we were walking out of the building, and not into the nursery room, the tears began. I can pinpoint the exact moment when his heart tore in two. (Anyone remember that episode of the Simpsons when Lisa breaks poor Ralph Wiggum's heart? It was like that.)

All the way home, I got this, between the tears:
G: "Nursy, please, Mommy!"




He didn't stop until he had cried himself to sleep in the car.

I didn't realize that it meant that much to him. You can bet that he will be asking me about church all week. You can also bet that as long as he's healthy, we're taking him to nursery next week.

In other news, Spiff's residency interview season has started. He traveled to an interview over the weekend. While he was gone, I hung the plastic on our two living room windows. I will happily accept the Best Wife Award for the month of October. Thank You.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nervous Confession

I know a whole lot of pregnant women these days. A whole lot! It's that time of life for us, and most of our friends are having babies and expanding their families. If someone isn't pregnant, it's probably because they just had a baby, or are somehow in that wonderful in-between stage when your baby is still a baby and you haven't yet thought about the next one. I just spent a few minutes looking at blogs of some friends who are in the just-had-their-baby category. I love their birth stories and pictures of their sqwudgy little newborns, but reading their stories had an unexpected effect on me.

In short, it made me nervous.

Don't get me wrong. I'm already nervous out of my mind about having another baby. How will we make it through labor & delivery again? How will I handle having two small children? How will I survive the newborn stage? How will Gunner handle things? Etc. The nerves are in no way a new thing.

What I didn't expect was realizing with intense sadness that I am coming up short of my alone time with Gunner.

I remember visiting a friend in the hospital 18 months ago to meet her second child. Things went great for them, and their new little boy was a dream! I asked her the details of their hospital stay, and she replied that she was hoping to go home sooner rather than later. She stated, "My girl is there."

I remember being sort of shocked by this opinion because of my own experience being at the hospital with newborn Gunner. I didn't want to take him home. I liked being at the hospital. I liked the food. I liked the nurses. I liked being able to send Gunner away to the nursery, get some sleep, and see him again with a diaper that had been magically replaced for me! Home meant that we had to care for this foreign little demander all on our own, and I had no idea what to do with him!

I think I understand what she meant now. While I read my friends' experiences, I imagined our upcoming stay at the hospital, with Spiff going back and forth from hospital with me to home with Gunner, leaving me to get acquainted with our new little boy. I feel a bit jealous of him. I'm feeling that I would rather go home to the little boy we have had two years to know and love, than stay at the hospital by myself taking care of a stranger and missing my sweet toddler.

I'm also imagining baby #2 reading this post someday and thinking I'm a horrible mother who didn't want or love him. That's not the case. Of course I want this child, and I imagine that I will love him and Gunner equally. All I'm saying is that I have loved having my one baby. I have loved giving Gunner my undivided love and attention. I will miss that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The windows.

"Honey, I think it's time that we put up the plastic," Mr Thrimbly's wife exclaimed chipperly one clear October morning. Gerald Thrimbly thought himself a rather stolid and unflappable chap, not given to easy starts or fear of any kind. Yet his wife's bright announcement sent his heart sinking and the erstwhile cheerful Saturday had suddenly taken on a gloomy timbre, a funerary pall now hanging in the air. Gerald dreaded the annual autumnal ritual placement of plastic over his windows. Secretly he hoped that his wife wouldn't think it necessary, that the baggy sheets of clear cellophane loosely festooning their living room would somehow suffice to keep winter breezes at bay. Realizing that his wife was still awaiting a reply, he answered "Isn't it a bit early?""No," came the stern reply. Gerald's heart sank even further, knowing his one stalling tactic had failed him again.

With dread-laden steps he trudged to the basement. The chipped plaster in the stairwell looked to him as the dank walls of the Bastille, closing in on the foppish French aristocrat. Soon, the tumbril would take him back to his cackling Madame Defarge with her maniacal fascination with weatherproofing. Mentally crossing his fingers, he hoped that the basket with sheets of plastic would somehow be empty, that he could forestall the dreaded operation by making a trip to Home Depot, which might take place some indeterminate day in the future. Sadly, the basket was full, boxes of unopened plastic from the last winter leered at him, mocking his fear. "It's not so bad", they seemed to say, "all your friends are able to hang plastic without the final product looking like a blind chimp placed it". Gerald knew the lie, and had once told himself the same thing. Now, after several years in his centenarian house, he knew the sheets of clear plastic were deceitful. Not only would the final product look like some grotesque parody of a window, but that he would be confronted with his own inadequacy every day he spent in his own home. There could be only two solutions. Either Gerald could hang the plastic and stare his incompetency and incoordination in the face for six months, or he could kill himself. Death seemed a welcome alternative to the incessant barrage of mockery, lies, and poor craftsmanship.

Knowing that flight through the locked basement door was impossible, and realizing that his 2 year old son needed some kind of father figure, but fearing that his son's affection would forever be tainted by disdain for his father's poor handyman abilities, Gerald Thrimbly decided suicide was out of the question, and shambled back up the basement stairs. "Honey, we need to hang the plastic before it gets too cold for the tape to stick", said Mrs. Thrimbly brightly. She too knew of the duplicity of the plastic, but was somehow inured to its lies. Gerald masked his dread and presented his wife with a basket of plastic, like some trembling Aztec priest offering the sacrificial knife to a homicidal shaman. Suddenly, Buddy ran in, distracting Mrs. Thrimbly. Quickly Gerald put on his shoes and said "Let's go, we need to get to the store" He knew that if he could get the family moving, his sentence would be commuted, and that perhaps in the interval, some miracle would intervene on his behalf. Vaguely, he thought hopefully of flames licking the side of the building or a smoking pile of rubble greeting the family on their return from the store. Calmly, he walked out of the house, leading his family, his aplomb and nerve restored. No coward he, he thought bravely of himself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gunner's 2nd Birthday

Our little boy is two! I can't quite believe it! We celebrated by doing things he likes to do. We took him to the zoo, where we rode the carousel, visited penguins, the red rock animals, and the bird house. We got splashed with penguin water (gross!), he said Hello to an owl, chased peacocks, and bounced like a kangaroo. Then we had two of his favorite little friends over for dinner and birthday cake.

Some funny things about our little two-year-old boy that I want to remember:
All musical instruments are "tubas," including all brass instruments, drums, a piece of rubber inner tubing Spiff pulled out of his bike toolbox, and his new kazoo that he got for his birthday. Exceptions to this title are violins and guitars, which are "la la's," and the piano, which has no name.

All tools are "hammers," including tape measures, screwdrivers, bike pumps, and my iron.

He has picked up new names for me. From the other room, I have heard him calling me "Honey" (which is what I call him sometimes), "Hottie" (which is what I call Spiff), and "Mindy."

He is ecstatic about his new Richard Scarry books he got from his Grammy for his birthday. He searches for Goldbug and squeals when he finds him, and he walks around the house saying, "Go Go Dinno!" (Dingo is the bad driver character who is running away from Officer Flossy, who is trying to give him a ticket.)

He received some new matchbox cars from his auntie and uncle, and he has already named one of them his "Noon Car." I have no idea what he means by that, but at least I know which car he is referring to.

He is also ecstatic about receiving a new Lightning Mcqueen car from his other Grandma. Now he has his beloved Blue Car, and his new beloved Red Car.

He is such a talkative little guy, and I love hearing what's on his mind. I also love hearing his speech develop. Just the other day, he started putting the final syllable on his words. Instead of "Duh" for Duck, he says, "Dut." Dump Truck used to be "Dump Fwuh" and is now "Dump Fwut." Garbage/Cement Trucks are now "Dahder Fwut." He also answers questions with a crystal clear "Yes" or "Nope," emphasis on a listpy little "s" and the "p". Love it!

He is generally fairly polite, asking for things by saying please (mlee?!) and Thank You (Day dyou).

"Blue" has become a term of endearment for him. He has his beloved Blue Shoes, Blue Car, and "Blue Blank", which refers to two different items, neither of which are blue. One is a baby quilt he got from his Grammy before he was born. It is orange and brown with monkeys on it, and quite gorgeous. Gunner found it one day and decided that the border is a great place to drive his cars around. The other is his Gunnerville. He sits on the with "Blue Blank" on his lap, driving his cars around for hours. And he insists on going to bed with one or the other of these Blue Blanks and falls asleep playing with his cars.

Whenever Spiff gets home from work, Gunner asks to "Mar Daddy." Spiff turns on a playlist of "The Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg, "The Ride of the Valkeries" by Wagner, "The Imperial March" from Star Wars, and the "Indiana Jones Theme." Then the two of them march around the living room, getting faster and faster as the music gets louder and faster.
Spiff has also taught Gunner to hold his hand to his ear when the music is soft and whisper as they listen to hear it. It is a Daddy/Son game, and he loves it!

So Happy Birthday, Gunner! We love you more and more every day!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Grab Bag

Here's the stuff that's been on my mind recently:

Things I learn from patients:

If you have a subarachnoid hemorrhage, don't leave the outside hospital against medical advice. You will come to my hospital obtunded with minimal brainstem activity.

Don't inject "shake and bake" homemade meth synthetic product into your arm, it will give you cellulitis.

A dead liver cannot be fixed by changing ventilator settings.

Things I learn in General Conference

The word "even" can be used as punctuation, in lieu of a comma. Consider the following example:
"We are thankful for the prophet, even Thomas S. Monson, who leads us...."

Alternatively: "We are thankful for the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who leads us.." This is another instance of why we need Victor Borge's phonetic punctuation.

"Indeed" is three words. "Indeed" becomes "in very deed". Indeed is not the same as "in deed". Indeed is an adverb, expressing incredulity, or to reinforce the credulity of a statement previously asserted. Etymologically, I believe this tendency to embellish words stems from the King James version of the Bible, as seen in very deed in Exodus 9:16, 1 Sam 25:34 and other places. From a literary perspective I think it's fine, but in oral speech it is somewhat stilted and contrived.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Gunner loves the movie, "The Incredibles". It is one of my favorites, and I'm happy that he likes it. Recently, he has been commenting on the show, asking me what the characters are doing (Doonat guy?). He likes it when Dash runs away from the bad guys (Wunning!). I think it's cute how he has woken up to the action on the show.

Yesterday, I decided to show him "Jack Jack Attack" on the second disk. I turned it on and left the room to finish up some dishes. I returned four minutes later as the short was finishing to find my sweet little movie-loving guy on the couch, shaking from head to toe, pointing at the TV, saying, "Baby?!...Baby?!!"

He was terrified!

And I felt terrible! I immediately picked him up and he glommed onto me like a wet shirt. I turned the little show back on and tried to talk him through it, saying things about how funny the little baby was for flying or disappearing, or bursting into a flaming monster. See, Gunner, isn't that hilarious?! Please, please think that it's hilarious! Mostly, though, I comforted him and told him over and over that the baby was okay.

G: "Baby?!"
Me: "The baby is okay."
G: "Baby K?!"
Me: "Yeah, the baby is just fine.

And then we got out our newly acquired library books and read about planes (Cop-ter!), trains (joo joo), and automobiles (Bus, Mommy!) to try to distract him.

I never thought that it would scare him, and I feel just terrible for putting him in into such a scary situation. But I'm glad I was there for him and realized quickly what was going on. And I'm grateful for the glomming cuddle time, since I have to take the cuddles when I can get them these days. I also guess I have learned to be a little more careful about what I expose him to. Although, really, who would have thought that it would have been scary?!

*Several days later, Gunner is still assuring us that the baby on the show is okay. Out of the blue, several times a day, he declares, "Dac Dac fine. Dac Dac fine." And we reply each time, "Yep, Jack Jack is just fine."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Residency App

I've had my application in for about 3 weeks now, and have heard back from several programs. My application strategy is to apply to 16 anesthesia programs, 10 medicine prelim years, and 10 transitional year programs. Of the anesthesia programs, 3 are in the pacific northwest, 2 in the mountain west, 2 in Ohio, 1 in new hampshire, 2 in Boston, and the remainder are scattered around missouri, michigan, minnesota, and wisconsin. I don't know if 20 is enough preliminary years, I hope it is because I don't want to have to scramble into a prelim surgery year somehwere, that would be pretty awful. For the readers who are not intimately involved in the drama of ERAS and the NRMP (electronic residency application service and national residency matching program, respectively), the difference between medicine and transitional years is that medicine programs are just that, medicine, and the transitional year is a mix of medicine, surgery, ER, and elective time. There are some pretty nice transitional years that I would love to go to, although interview invites have not yet come for those.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mid-night Heart Breaker

Gunner crying in the middle of the night:



Blue Car!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gunner Speak

Love how this kid talks! If you're ever around him, here's a translation guide to some of his more obscure phrases:

On, On--Means, "Give me your hand (yes, "On" means Hand), and come here, now, please."
Lul You--Love you (usually accompanied by a kiss on the cheek and followed by a melted heart)
Cop-Ter--Helicopter (this is something he exclaims every time he sees or hears an airplane or helicopter in the sky)
Uh, Yah!--(accompanied by smile and bright eyes), means Yes
Huh?--UhHuh, also means Yes
Wuddy?--This means that he wants to play with the cardboard race track Spiff made for him, meaning, "Ready, Set, Go!"
Morchee--More please
Beenoon-a-beenoon-a-beenoon-a-beenoon...--means there's a balloon over there that I need to run across the room to get.
BlueWhiVreen--Blue, White, Green
LellowWhi--Yellow, White
Blue Car/Car Blue--his new Dinaco Blue Lightning McQueen car. He has seen the movie but doesn't really get the whole character thing. He just loves the color, size, shape...everything about this little toy. He carries it everywhere with him, and sleeps with it at night.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Next Few Days

So, it turns out that this surgical procedure actually bothers the patient more than the doctors and nurses say it will.  It also turns out that a toddler who has just undergone a surgical procedure, and who is feeling terribly sore and awful, is very very cranky.  Also, I feel horrible when I'm taking care of his wound site and he is saying, "Ow. Ow. Ow." and then hobbles away in obvious pain.  It also turns out that even though I feel very badly for him, and I am very sympathetic towards him and what we made him go through, my patience unfortunately has its limits when dealing with the cranky child.

Today was a very very long day.  I'm looking forward to the end of the week when the wound isn't so fresh.

Also, Happy 29th Birthday, Spiff!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Gunner's surgery went well! The surgeon was very pleased with the results, and he said that Gunner handled everything incredibly well. I was impressed with the staff at the hospital, and the nurses and doctors were all great. The first patient of the day didn't show up, so they were able to get us in early, so we didn't have to make Gunner fast for so long. And since it was an outpatient procedure, we were done and home before 1:00 in the afternoon.

Gunner did great with everything, although the longer we were there doing pre-op stuff, the more wary of everything and everyone he became. He was absolutely terrified of the scale, and he absolutely refused to sit in the crib. They gave him some medication to help calm him down, and he was hungry enough to ask for more of it. The meds worked like a charm, and the nurse told me that he was asleep before they even put the anesthesia mask on him.

The procedure took slightly less than two hours. I went back to the PACU to be with Gunner after he woke up from the anesthesia. As the nurse took me back, she told me that he woke up great, just quietly opened his eyes, which was a relief since I was expecting hysterics. When we entered the room, I glanced around the room and saw several little babies on stretchers. There was one in particular who looked especially small, and I was amazed at how young the baby was to be having surgery. Then I realized that particular tiny little guy was mine! He looked so small on the stretcher, and so pathetic lying there so placidly, hooked up to an IV.

I was very grateful when they let me hold him, and when we got back to the recovery room, Spiff and I took turns holding him and helping him come out of the effects of the anesthesia. Amazingly, after that wore off, he perked right up, and was running and jumping around the house just a few hours later. Today, he acts like nothing happened at all. Amazing!

I'm so glad it's done, and that it went well, and I am incredibly grateful for the great doctors and nurses who helped him yesterday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gunner's Surgery (Pre-op)

Our little boy is having surgery tomorrow.  It's an outpatient thing, relatively routine, and I'll tell you the details if you ask.  (I don't want to post them on a public setting.)  But even though it's supposedly a common thing and the recovery is supposedly not bad, I am insanely nervous.  Spiff is cool as a cucumber, and I assume this is because he has seen countless procedures and sees this as no big deal.

But it is a big deal.  Poor little Gunner has no idea what's coming, and I guess that's a good thing.  I am mostly worrying about the logistics of the whole thing.  He can't eat breakfast in the morning prior to the surgery, nor can he have anything to drink past 6:30 in the morning, which means that he probably won't get anything at all since he'll still be asleep at that point.  This also means that we will be dealing with an incredibly hungry and cranky toddler who is in a strange place and dealing with strange things and people.  Not a recipe for success.  And then there are the logistics of taking care of my post-op toddler.  I don't know what to expect about how he will handle it, what he will need, or how he will feel.

I just hope that he responds well to the pain medications, and that he doesn't really remember the whole experience.  I also have to deal with the guilt I am feeling about putting him through this in the first place.  It needs to be done, but I still have horrible guilt about taking him to the hospital to "be hurt".  And I feel so badly for him and his sweet little self to go through something like this.

Please say a prayer for us.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stake Conference In Utah

I went to Stake Conference with my sister's family yesterday. Russel M. Nelson was in attendance because their stake got a new presidency. I'm sure he gave a wonderful talk at the end of the session, but I'll have to take it on faith since Gunner was a crazy person yesterday morning and was absolutely not in the mood to sit through a two-hour meeting. (Who ever is, really?) I walked the halls as he ran them, and I was able to catch a few sentences of the talks here and there.

But, here is the cool part...

I took my niece to get a drink before the meeting started. As we were walking down the hall, Elder Nelson was standing in the hallway with just one other guy. I said Hi to him. He looked right at me and said, "Good Morning."

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! He practically said Hi to me!

I didn't have the guts to ask him to shake my hand, but I did drop down to my knees after we passed him and explained to my 3-year-old niece (who couldn't care less) that "That guy over there is Elder Nelson, one of our apostles! Can you believe he's standing Right There?! Isn't that neat!?"

So, that's what you might get for going to stake conference in Utah, where apostles still attend the conference in person instead of attending via satelite. Very cool. Sure wish I could have heard his talk.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Away rotation

So I'm going to go into anesthesia, and I'm currently doing a rotation at my number one choice, Major Medical Center in the midwest. The trouble is, as a newcomer, I don't know who anyone is or where anything is. Major Center has a rigid dress code of suits and ties all the time, but the residents still show up to the OR in regular clothes, change into scrubs, and leave in regular clothes. Should I do the same? or should I be the sore thumb who stands out in a suit when the residents go to lecture in mufti? I err the side of formality. The whole point of doing away rotations is to see if the program is a good fit, if you like the area, and if training there will help you accomplish your professional goals. I like being at Major Center, it's got world class resources and faculty. The problem is that I have no idea where I stand. I don't know if I"m doing the right things to impress the right people. I hate being 'on' all the time. Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation? I hate all the ambiguity. I will probably rank Major Center #1, but doubt very much that I will match here in March.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The poll Part 2

For those of you who don't know, we are expecting another addition to our clan. We don't yet know if it's a little man or a tiny little woman, but we will be finding out in a few weeks. Since it worked out pretty well last time, I think I will again have a weekly poll with our name options for you to vote on. Just so that there's no ambiguity, I will posting facetious names. Again, these are not real. Mindy and I have already decided that Zeal-for-the-Lord will be his name if he's a boy, and Taquandafaqweyah if it's a girl. So look on the banner to the side every week and cast your vote for names.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Small Truths

I am in Utah with my family while Spiff is getting ready to head to a month-long away rotation. Gunner and I miss him. I still can't imagine being away from him for that long, and I am hoping that he has a good experience at this new hospital and new rotation.

Gunner and I traveled on Wednesday, and I learned a few things on this trip:

1. Southwest is hands down the best airline company I have flown with. Their employees are generally friendly and helpful. I enjoyed my experience with them, and they even just changed their policy to allow people to check two bags for free, PLUS a carseat as a free special item. Awesome. I also enjoyed the layover since it was a chance for Gunner to get off the plane, run around, and use some of his energy. I no longer think that the best way to fly with kids is non-stop.

2. Traveling with a 21-month-old lap child is not fun. Never never do it.

3. When your child is throwing a screaming tantrum on the airplane 30 minutes before you're scheduled to land, no one looks at you. No one makes eye contact. No one offers to help, not even the flight attendants. They put their heads down while occasionally send vicious glances your direction, and make you feel like there is something else that you should be doing in order to control your very very very loud, bored, overtired, uncontrollable child. And yes, it is very embarrassing to be the mother of "That Child".

4. While I was being so very embarrassed by my tantrum-throwing one-year-old, I noticed that people were throwing the nasty looks. And while I desperately wanted Gunner to stop screaming, (Please Just Stop Screaming!!!), there was also a vindictive little part of me that thought, "Well, if no one is going to look at me or say anything nice at all, then he might as well scream! Scream, baby, scream!" I apologize to all the people who may be on future flights with me. I also promise not to pinch my child or make him cry on long as you're nice to me.

5. It is much nicer to fly when the toddler falls asleep during take-off and wakes up during landing at the destination. I would love that to happen every time. Hopefully Gunner will read this post and behave accordingly when we fly home in a month.

6. I love love love the West. It's gorgeous. The mountains are so very beautiful. The dry heat is tolerable. It cools down at night. There is sometimes even a nice breeze! When I sweat, it actually does something to cool off my body! I am a Western Girl, and I am made for this type of weather. It is going to be very difficult for me to go home and back to heat plus humidity. Spiff might have to do some major convicing in order for me to go back. (Not really, Spiff. We love you and will be with you wherever you are. All I'm saying is that I want you to eventually bring me back...for good.)

Now it's off to a week-long camping trip and a visit to Yellowstone Park. I'm hoping to see some wild life, and I'm looking forward to cool weather. (It's supposed to get down into the low 40s at night. Doesn't that sound glorious?!) I'm sure you all wish you were me right now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MICU part 2

I have learned a lot on this subinternship. I thought I would learn a lot about the administrative stuff, writing orders, all that crap. I have, but I've also learned a lot about thinking about disease. Consider the following comparison: treatment of disease is like hiking through the forest. At the beginnig of my third year, I was barely able to recognize anything abnormal, to notice that there were trees in this forest as 'twere. I was too focussed on walking along the path and getting the motions of a physical down. By the end of third year and where I am now, I can see trees, and occaisionally discern between types of trees. I can now recognize when something is abnormal and know what to do about it. But I still see a lot of individual trees. What my attending does which I cannot, is to stand back, and say "this is a 3rd generation mixed forest of deciduous and coniferous trees, typical of the pacific northwest, most specifically the costal region between latitude 35 and 50 degrees north. I can say "this guy is hypotensive, hyponatremic, hyperkalemic, is covered in non-blanching livedo, and has 2+ pitting edema of his lower extremities. He is also anuric." This pt does not immediately scream SEPSIS to me, although he does more now than he did 2 weeks ago. It's really hard to put all the pieces together and parse between the important,the urgent, and the less-important, and identify a unifying diagnosis and come up with an appropriate treatment plan. I guess that's why I'm still a student, huh? At least watching my brand new interns, I can see myself doing what they do and being able to at least function at that level.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bad things happen at night

It's true. I'm on my medical ICU rotation right now (MICU) and I'm on overnight call every 4th night. I usually sleep for 2-3 hours a night when I'm on, and then go home at 12 or 1 the following afternoon. That adds up to about 30 hours on at once, which happens every 4 nights so I work about 75-80 hours a week. This is a foreshadowing of internship. I have had two firsts for my medical career during this rotation.

Last tuesday night, we got a transfer from an outside hospital. It was an 84 year old lady with a history of small bowel obstruction, dementia, and coronary artery disease. She arrived on a levophed drip (powerful vasoconstrictive medication for maintenance of blood pressure), and intubated. Her family had allegedly retracted her DNR status and now wanted a full court press. We were barely able to get a femoral arterial line in, and when we checked the CT from the outside hospital, it confirmed our clinical suspicion that the bulk of her bowel was dead. Surgery was reluctant to take her to the OR, for the obvious reason that she would likely not survive her operation. We contacted her family and they informed us that they wished us to withdraw care, which we did. She expired about 10 minutes later as we watched.

Four nights ago we received a call that one of our patients was seizing, had probably aspirated, and was now becoming bradycardic (her heart was slowing). We ran upstairs, started bag masking her, and had to begin CPR. After several rounds of vasoactive drugs, her heart actualy started beating again and she returned to her baseline, which was incredible. This was my first experience in a code and I'm glad that I did 6 weeks of anesthesia to practice bag masking pt's, since that was my job.

MICU has been quite intense, that's for sure. I do enjoy the complexity of these patients, but caring for them is like trying to replace the transmission in a truck, at night, by flashlight, at gunpoint, when you're a bicycle mechanic. It's really hard for me to see the big picture, I can spot many of the abnormalities, and piece some of the parts together, but placing all of them together as part of a coherent whole is far beyond my current knowledge base.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What's On My Mind

We're back from a much-needed and great vacation to Michigan. We saw some family and spent time with some wonderful friends. We left the cabin with mixed feelings, being ready to be off of vacation, but not ready to leave our friends who live far from us. We were not quite ready to start life again, and were wishing for a few more days to decompress at home before Spiff started into 4th year.

But, we got home, and he started right up. Starting 4th year is sort of a strange thing. For the first time, he isn't starting up the same big thing as the rest of his class. Everyone picks their own schedules for 4th year, and so everyone has something different to start off the year. Some of his classmates are studying for and taking Step 2. Some are doing research electives. Some are out of town. Some are doing dissection with a very flexible schedule. And some, like Spiff, started off the year with a bang by doing an intense sub-internship. He is in the MICU (adult intensive care unit), and he is on a Q4 overnight call schedule for three weeks. The means that he has to spend the night at the hospital every fourth night for three weeks. It's pretty intense, he has to do a whole ton of rounding (like 8-12 hour each day!), and he's tired. I know there are residencies that do this kind of schedule for several years in a row, so I can't complain, but it's still a tough thing to start up with.

And then in just two weeks, Spiff heads up to Rochester, MN for a 4-week anesthesia away rotation. Gunner and I will be leaving to visit my family for those four weeks, and while Spiff is enjoying a nice, month-long interview process, I will be enjoying my family. We will be camping and visiting Yellowstone (which I haven't seen for 11 years). I will also be running this event with my sister. I'm not in very good shape, so I'm a bit nervous to tackle the distance and altitude. But as long as the team doesn't care that I'm super slow, I'm just excited to do such a cool event with one of my favorite running partners ever!

Also, we're enjoying Spiff's sister, Mhana's, adventures while she researches doctoral paper material in France for the Summer. Check out her blog here. She writes good, that one.

I also recently found out that one of my good friends from college has breast cancer. It has spread to her bones and is incurable, although the doctors say it is treatable. She is only 33, has a wonderful husband who loves her, and has three little kids. I can't stop thinking about her and how unfair the situation is. I keep praying that her treatment will give her years with her children, but it even that doesn't seem good enough. I want her to grow old with her sweet husband. I want her to see her children to adulthood. I feel so helpless. And I am already grieving for her.

Spiff and I have discussed many times recently how we seem to have so many good friends who are going through terrible trials in their lives. My friend with cancer, another good friend who's pregnant wife had cancer on her tongue (thank goodness it was taken out and she is cancer free for now), good friends with infertility problems, friends who's children have been diagnosed with serious health problems. They have all been on my mind and in my prayers. While I am so grateful for my own family's current health, I find myself feeling guilty being grateful that it's not me. At least for now.

I feel so helpless. I wish I could do more for these people I love so much, and each and every one of them have been shining examples of how we should handle trials that come our way. They rely on the Lord. They share their experiences with those who love them, so that we can all at least pray for them. I'm sure they suffer more than they show, but they certainly do seem to handle things better than the way I imagine myself handling similar situations if I faced them.

And that is what I have been thinking about lately. Now I'm going to bed. Hopefully Spiff can get a few hours of sleep in the on-call room at the ICU tonight.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

OB-GYN part 1

It seems fitting that a specialty which refers to itself with a five letter abbreviation is one that is chock full of abbreviations, to the point that our syllabus was annotated with a glossary. I imagine this is some subconcious throw-back to the days when physicians spoke in latin both to impress their patients and to conceal their thoughts. Here's a sample:

CC: VB for 2hr
HPI: HC is a 38 yo G4P3103 at 37w5d c/o spontaneous VB this afternoon after waking from a nap. She denies any LOF, d/c, and has postive FM. Pt denies pain, no h/a, dizziness, RUQ pain, or VC. Pt only c/o BRB with dime sized clots. Denies any dysuria, pyuria, hematuria, no n/v/d.

Gyn Hx:
Pap-no hx of abnl pap
STI: neg trich, GC, CT, HIV.
Sx: LTCS for FTP

G1: 2001 IOL for dates at 41, F 6#7
G2: 2003 SVD at 33 F 4#1
G3: 2005 LTCS a 38 for FTP F 6#9
G4: current, pt desires TOLAC.

Med Hx: none
Rx: PNV and Fe
Allergies: NKDA
BrCA: mother, maternal aunt, MGM,
DM: mother, MGF

Pt is 38 G4P3103 c/o VB.
1. U/S
2. FFN, CBC,
3. consider MFM consult.

For the medical purists out there, I know that this is an incomplete H &P and that the assessment and plan are incomplete, but I'm illustrating a point. Here is a prose version:

HC is a 38 year old female with a history of 4 pregnancies, 3 deliveries, 2 term and one premature. She has a complaint of vaginal bleeding. She denies any loss of fluid, vaginal discharge (i.e. purulent discharge), and has felt fetal movement. Patient does not complain of a headache, right upper quadrant abdominal tenderness or vision changes.

Gynecological history:
patient has never had an abnormal pap smear
-no sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas, or human immunodeficiency virus.
-Her only procedure was a low transverse cesarean section
Obstetrical history:
-G= pregnancy
SVD= spontaneous vaginal delivery
IOL = induction of labor
x#y= lbs and oz
TOLAC= trial of labor after c-section

Family history:
MGM= maternal grandmother
CAD: coronary artery disease
DM: diabetes mellitus.
BrCa: breast cancer

NKDA: no known drug allergies
FFN: fetal fibronectin a test than can help predict the probablility of labor or rupture of fetal membranes.
MFM: maternal fetal medicine: high risk OB doctors.
U/S: ultrasound.

A lot of these abbreviations are very standard, but the OB specific ones can be challenging, especially since they can be interpreted multiple ways i.e. VB could mean vaginal birth, or vaginal bleeding. Mostly there has been a movement towards the standardization of abbreviations in medicine as well as a decrease in their use overall, but OB is a lone holdout.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Portable Fomite

I wear a short white coat that I loathe. I have had it since my first day of medical school and have worn it nearly 6 days a week for the last calendar year. Sometimes I'm better at washing it than others. It has some ring around the collar, numerous ink stains in the breast pocket, and two pockets that are in the process of being torn off, and stained cuffs. It weighs between 6 and 7 pounds.
Breast pocket: 1 cracked cheap-o school logo pen.
1 stolen Bic pen.
pocket lint.
Maxwell's pocket guide.
2007 Tarascon's Pharmacopia
1 pen light.
2 ID badges in a semi-opaque holder.
1 monofilament in badge holder.

Left inner pocket:
2009 Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial therapy
Pocket Medicine 3rd edition.
2 old H&P pages with notes.

Left outer pocket:
1 Littman Cardio 3 stethoscope with freebie Army light attached in the likely event that the penlight craps out.

Right inner pocket:
1 FACTS card (little card that I have to get signed periodically during a rotation)
1 gestational age wheel
1 old tongue depressor still in wrapper
2 procedure cards (similar to FACTS card)
2 scholarly papers
4 old H&P's
1 bandaid in wrapper.

Right outer pocket:
study book du jour, in this case Case Files for OB-GYN
2 current H&P's
1 more scholarly paper
1 page of notes from lecture
Sometimes a reflex hammer and tuning forks, depending on how likely I think it is that I'll do a neuro exam (usually these stay safely in my bag or even more safely in my locker 7 miles from the hospital).

Sleeves: miscellaneous dirt, MRSA, VRE, cruddies.

This little gem is my friend for another year, after which I can swap it for a longer version. After I graduate I am going to dowse this one in kerosene and set it on fire, both for sanitataion and catharsis.


Gunner loves cars, and he has recently taken to driving them around on little "tracks". He uses anything that makes for a good road, including the circle on a See 'n Say, the straps on Spiff's school bag, and the tiny little loop on the base of a stacking toy. He's actually pretty creative. It has made me want to buy a new toy for him, a race track or road, something that would probably cost $20-70 that we shouldn't spend on a toy.

Today, my awesome friend, Maggie, helped me make this:
If you can't tell, it's a cuddly little felt town with roads for driving little cars around on, complete with red fire station, blue police station, gray library, pond w/ park benches, and a gazebo in some lucky person's backyard (lower left). I'll call it Gunneropolis. He loves it. I love it. It was fun to make, and it cost about $3.

Thanks, Maggie! Drive on, Gunner!


Okay, two things before I tell my story:
1. I recently got out some toys for Gunner that I had kept hidden for a while. It is a set of pretend food and dishes. I got them for him for Christmas, and I hid them for a while because I was tired of picking them up off the floor.

2. Gunner loves helping me when I cook and bake. His job is to dump cupfuls and spoonfuls of ingredients into a bowl. He is always right there by my side when I make cookies, dumping in the salt and baking powder. Sometimes he doesn't get the dumping action quite right and gets a facefull of flour, to his great dismay, and my great entertainment! Of course, he enjoys the perk at the end of mixing of licking the beaters.

Alright, on to my story. I made dinner rolls the other day, and as usual, he was right by my side on a kitchen chair, helping me out. As I was rolling out and shaping the dough, with my rolling pin and pizza cutter, he gasped, climbed off the chair, and ran out of the kitchen. I thought he was just tired of baking or just excited to play with his long-lost toys. Then he returned with this:
I gave him his own little piece of dough to cut. Man, I stinkin' love watching him figure things out!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Potty Talk

Let me begin this little discussion by stating that I have no intention of potty training my son for a long while, so I'm not really looking for actual potty training advice at this time. That being said...

Gunner has been very interested in the potty lately. He plays "Pretend Potty" by having us help him sit on the potty and go through the motions with him. He runs to the potty after doing some business in his diaper to show us that he knows relatively what it's all about. He also runs up to me after I have done my business on the potty to help me pull up my pants. (Is this too much information? I don't know since I have forgotten what it's like to have any privacy.)

The other day, Gunner and I had a 10-minute conversation about the potty. He initiated this discussion by pointing at the potty, turning around, scooting his little tushy up to it, and the swinging a leg up, like he was saying, "I'm going to sit on this thing, now." So I helped him on, he sat there for a few seconds, and then hopped off. Then he sat on the floor with me and told me lots of baby-babbled stuff about the potty. Then he stood up, backed up to the toilet, swung his leg up, and sat back down on it. He continued this routine for several rounds. The whole thing was very endearing.

He is very obviously interested in the potty. I would like to fuel his interest and keep him excited about the potty, without actually potty training him yet. We have talked about getting him his own little potty, but a friend suggested getting a toddler-sized seat that connects right to the actual toilet seat instead.

So I am wondering what people's opinions and experiences are with their little ones. How did you fuel any existing interest? What devices/products did you use? And where do I find these gems?

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Wowzah, it's been hard to think of something to blog about lately. It's the end of 3rd year, and I'm really feeling it. My patience is low, my creativity is almost nonexistent, and I can hardly wait the two weeks for Spiff to be done with his OB/GYN rotation which marks the end of 3rd year and the beginning of a two-week vacation!!! I feel like a kid who just can't quite wait for Christmas. Maybe I should make a paper chain.

Before this turns into a total whine session, I'll write about some of the things we've been up to.

Spiff participated in his first triathlon a few weeks ago. It was a mini-tri, with a 200 yard swim, 9 mile bike ride, and 2 mile run. He said that the pool was very warm and the bike/run route was very hilly, and it was hot and sunny. But he had a good time and finished in 52 minutes, which put him at 5th in his 20-29 age group. Not bad for a first try!

I am amazed at how grown-up Gunner is these days. He is becoming so independent, and he knows what a big kid he is. He knows his body parts, he loves reading with us, and he loves, loves, loves being outside. He is also coming up with a whole bunch of new words. My favorite new ones:
Larli (Charlotte...his very best friend in the whole world)
Gah gahn (all gone)
Lellow (yellow)
Gaing (again)
Mmbomeh or Bubby (bummy/bum/tushy)

Our primary class is going well. Thank you for all of your fabulous suggestions! We have some great kids in our class, and I've actually been enjoying it. The 4-5 year olds are a whole lot different than the 2-3 year old nursery kids. The main differences are their capacity to color for a long period of time, and the fact that they want to tell us all kinds of stories. They ask over and over again if they can tell us something, and if we tell them to wait (for the sake of some kind of continuity in the lesson), they completely tune us out while they hold onto their thought. They wait for a pause in the lesson and then say, "NOW can I tell you something?"

Their stories are cute but hard to listen to. They ramble, and there is hardly ever a point. One time last week, we tried to wrap up a little girl's story by saying, "Alright, thank you." And she yelled at us, "I'm Not Finished Yet!!!"

Okay! Sorry to offend. Go right on and finish. We're all ears.

My favorite quote of the class so far:
Spiff asked, "Why should we obey our parents?"
One kid responded, "So we can get stickers."

Anyway, we're one day closer to the end of 3rd year. I can't believe Spiff is almost a 4th year! I'm going to go make my paper chain now.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Primarily Primary

Spiff and I are the ward's newest primary workers (CTR4). When I was released from the nursery, I found myself surprisingly broken-hearted by the loss of my coworkers, my wonderful class and the familiarity of something I felt like I finally had gotten the hang of. As I prepared the lesson for today, I became less and less excited to try my hand at something so new. Spiff on the other hand is looking forward to a change of pace. This is the first time he hasn't been in the Elder's Quorum presidency since he returned from his mission six years ago.

Our first day went quite well, considering that we both felt like fish out of water. I also think we both enjoyed it. I had to hide my face several times to hide the fact that I was cracking up at the silly things the kids were doing. And as an added bonus, the kids listened really well! They participated, and we ended in about the right amount of time, so we didn't have to scramble for boredom busters at the end of church.

The highlight of the day was singing time. The chorister is a genius and brought a game for the kids that she made at home by cutting eight holes out of a large cardboard box and covering them with pieces of tissue paper. She calls it "Singing Time Punch Out". Like a game on the Price is Right, kids are called up and they punch out a hole, which has the name of the next song behind it. Not only do the kids get to take turns participating, but they get to legally punch the crap out of something! Pure genius!

Anyway, we're in new territory, and we need your help. My question to our faithful readers and anyone who has experience teaching primary classes:
What are your genius ideas? What do you do to make your lessons interesting? Do you have any awesome tricks or games that engage the kids?

Friday, May 07, 2010


"Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth becasue one we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters." Thus wrote Scott Peck in his work The Road Less Travelled. I would not say that my life is particularly difficult, far from it really. Like you, I have friends and aquaintances who have survived or are currently living through hellacious trials. In particular, I have two friends whose children are sick with diseases which may them within the next 6 months or 16th birthday. I cannot conceive of the grief and pain that such a burden must be for them. Obviously, life can be punctuated with periods of great pain and anguish, which are tempered by periods of joy and elation.

As we raise little Gunner, I see just how much inner dampening of our emotions happens as we age. He has no filters or coping mechanisms to suppress rage, fear, grief, sadness, joy, and exuberance. As a consequence, he throws tantrums, and two minutes later gives us a hug while belly laughing. He feels the full spectrum of unfiltered emotion. I think he is acutely aware of how vulnerable he is in the world, because to be 18 months old is to be utterly powerless. I recall as a child my mother would tell me that adolescents think they are immortal. As a teen myself, I recalled those words, but never felt myself immortal, but perhaps invulnerable and supremely confident in my own strength and intelligence. As a parent myself I realize now that nobody is spared heartache and pain and that my invulnerability of adolescence was an illusion founded in ignorance. Now that I have friends who have survived tragedy the fact that Bad Things can happen is more real than it used to be 10 years ago.

Though there is pain and hardship in life, there are occaisionally moments of perfection as well. In popular psychology this is known as "flow", but as a rower, my coaches identified this concept as "swing". In rowing this would be those all too rare moments when the boat was perfectly balanced, when everyone was concentrated on their technique, the boat was surging smoothly through the water and bubbles from the bow-wave were audible under the hull. Time slows down, physical pain may be present but is irrelevant, and for a few brief minutes, there is perfection. Inevitably the spell is broken and we return to the real world where things break and don't go according to plan. As Scott Peck elucidates in The Road Less Travelled, these moments are the exception, rather than the rule, although we frequently lead our lives as though the reverse were true, and that any deviation from perfection is the aberration.

Where do I find swing? There are times when biking when my feet turn effortlessly despite intense exertion and the pedal stroke is smooth and perfectly round, the bike is rolling as though pushed by a tailwind. Downhill skiing is the perfect mixture of danger and concentration that allows me to swing. Recently I have found it in brief moments while inline skating. And professionally, I have experienced during my anesthesia rotations. I am not a very emotive person, but there have been times during these last two rotations where things felt as "right" as they did when my lightweight men's four man shell was perfectly balanced and slicing through the water. Since I have never yet felt this way during any of my other rotations, I can say that anesthesia is definitely for me, without reservation.

Editor's note:

It has come to the attention of the editorial staff that there was an erratum in the previous post. Windy did not in fact have an accident after her prolonged journey.


Spiff often tells me that when he is an anesthesiologist, he wants a personalized license plate that says N2B8R. He also wants one that says PB4UGO. I thought of that today when I was stuck in bumper to bumper construction traffic on the highway and I regretted my decision to just hold it until I got home.

I went to a mall with a good friend today so she could retrieve the purse she left at Cabela's last night. It was supposed to be a short trip, there and back, with a stop at the play structure so the kids could run around. Out and back, before lunch and naps.

But it wasn't.

We missed our exit on the way there and had to call a friend to give us directions. My friend's camera was dropped and broken on the way into Cabela's, one week before her son's 1st birthday. We stopped to play at the structure only to discover that all three kids were ravenously hungry and weren't up to playing. We went in search of food and missed the entrance to the food court. By the time we got them all fed, they were tired, and we were in a hurry to get them back in the car and home before a meltdown occurred. I thought about visiting the ladies' facility, but in my need to avoid critical mass, I decided to hold it for the relatively short drive home.

And then we missed our exit on the way home (purely because we weren't paying attention) and ended up across the river and into the neighboring state.

Since we had gone so far from our missed exit, we decided to keep on going and go home on a different highway, which turned out to be 12 extra miles. After finding that highway, we turned homeward and got stuck in construction traffic, 15 more miles from home. At which point both younger kids woke up from their way-too-short naps. Sigh.

It was a terribly funny day, and we got a good laugh. And when I got home, I was oh so happy to see my bathroom, though naturally it was too late.

Friday, April 30, 2010

So it begins...

There is a story in Spiff's family that is told again and again. When Spiff was a young child, he found the slots on the dishwasher (the vent) to be the perfect size for coins. He proceded to fill the front of the dishwasher with various pennies, nickels and quarters which then lived inside the dishwasher door for the rest of its existence. They never retrieved the cash.

This morning, while I was doing laundry, and going up and down the stairs to our treacherous unfinished basement, I noticed Gunner playing with the doorknob to the basement door. Months ago, before he knew how to descend stairs safely, I turned around from doing laundry downstairs, and I found him sitting as quiet as a mouse at the top of the stairs. We immediately put a doorknob cover on the door.

As he was playing with the doorknob this morning, I thought for sure that he was figuring how to open it with the cover on it. I imagined him tumbling down the stairs onto the concrete basement floor, and dread filled my heart until I took a closer look and found this:

It must be a boy thing. And cute or not, I fear for my dishwasher.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Hobbies

I've decided to take up speedskating. Why? Because there's spandex involved. Well, not really, but it does seem like all my other sports do involve an inordinate amount of lycra. Swimming-speedo, Cycling-shorts and jersey, rowing-unisuit (think modest wrestling suit), and now speedskating which involves essentially more cycling gear. Why speedskating you ask? Hmm, again, true to form it's a relatively obscure endurance sport rewarding technique and stamina and filled with lactic acide and pain. It's fast and graceful. My real wish is to do long-track speedskating like the olympics, but there are only a handful of 400m ovals in north america, and none of them are here in town. Short track can take place on any regulation hockey rink, so that is a possibility. There is a speedskating club here in town, but I'm not sure I can justify the club dues and the equipment on our student budget. So, that leaves us with off-ice speedskating, which is inline skating.

In the good ol' days of 8th and 9th grade, I used to skate frequently on my trusty Bravoblades by Rollerblade. Since I no longer sport a men's size 7 shoe, those skates are long gone. I have instead decided to work my way into speedskating from the ground up, using cheap-o recreational skates until my legs are ready for more advanced skates. Craigslist was good to me on thursday, and I got a pair of skates, pads, and a bag all for $60.

I tried them out in the park that evening and fell back in love with skating. It's like running only faster. I went to the larger park here in town and managed to skate the 5 mile circumference in about half an hour. At least now I have a baseline to compare myself with.

Since there don't seem to be any local inline clubs, I have been using Youtube for technique and tips, although I might have to spring for a book and maybe try to find some real people to work with as well. My current goal, pending a match at my #1 in Minnesota, is to to do the North Shore Inline Marathon near Duluth. We'll see...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Gunner has been doing some very cute new things that I don't want to forget about. Here's a small update of our almost-18-month-old.

He jumps. He can get both feet off the ground! He stops just about anywhere at any time of the day and jump, jump, jumps. He knows he's cool. And I'm pretty proud of my little athlete.

He started singing! I will say to him, "Can you sing, La La La?", and he will respond, with a curled up tongue, "daa, daa, daa", or stick his tongue way out and say "laaaa, laaa, laaaaaaaaa." And of course, he has to applaud for himself.

He nods his head when he wants something. For example, if he sees you with a cookie, he will come up to you with his head nodding, like he's saying, "Yes, you will give me some of that, please, now, thank you."

He likes to knock on doors. He likes it so much that he will start "knocking" as soon as we pull up to someone's house, while he's still in his car seat. And of course, he keeps on knocking all the way to the door.

He plays the piano with us. He sits next to us on the piano bench and adds his contemporary flavor to any piece we play. When he gets tired of me playing, he grabs my arm and hooks his around it...and holds me captive. It's so cute, but it sure makes it hard for me to get any real practicing done while he's around.

He loves balloons. We brought two helium balloons home from a party a couple weeks ago, and he loved them so much that he would not let go of the string they were attached to. We had to pry his hands open to get him dressed, which sent him into hysterics until his arm was through the sleeve and we could give the balloon right back. He even went to bed with them one night (don't worry, we took them away just after he went to sleep).

He also loves little cars. He clutches them almost as tightly as he clutched the balloons, and won't let go until he's asleep. He is also starting to play imaginatively with them. So fun!

He grabs my hand and takes me places. If he wants to go somewhere, he'll grab my hand and pull me along. He even does it when I'm holding him, although it doesn't work very well.

Some of his words:
Dad "Da"
Mom "mommy"
I Want That "mommymommymommymommy"
Car "car" (he said "car" about five times one day, but hasn't said it since.)
Usually car, truck, train, plain, helicopter, or any vehicle is "brmmm brrmmm"
Airplane and helicopter are "brmm brmm" with a flying hand motion.
Duck "duck duck duck duck" (always with a head bob)
Bird "bir"
Dog "doggie" or "dah"
Cat, a high pitched squeal
Fish "whish"
Ball "ba"
What is that? "Thisisthat"
No "nah no" (or when he's tired, it's a whiny, "Noooooooooooooo!" to everything.)
More, not a word, but a hand motion (think "milk" in baby sign)

I'm loving being his mommy. He's so cute and fun, and I love his happy personality and enthusiasm for live. He makes me happy every day.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Deepest Desires of My Heart

I am not a garage sale-er. I have been to a few yard sales, but I generally don't go out looking for them. I have friends who find amazing things at amazing deals at garage sales, and I sort of wish that I would do it. Apparently, my subconscious thinks so, too.

I have had my eyes on a few items for Gunner. I have looked in stores and online a bit, but haven't purchased anything since they seem like such a luxury. And what are these items? A tricycle and outdoor play equipment (namely a water table) for Gunner. I didn't realize how much I desire, want and covet these things until I had multiple dreams where I find happen upon a garage sale and find perfect deals on these toys. And then I wake up and realize that it wasn't real.

And Gunner is still without a bike. A bike which I thought I bought for him, but that he can't yet figure out how to ride.

I can't tell you how disappointed I have been when I wake up from these dreams. Or how strange I have felt to have dreamt them at all.

I guess I want these things so badly because my boy would love them so much. He loves loves loves other children's bicycles. He's not big enough to actually ride them, but he sure does love to climb on them, sit on them, scoot around on them, and it's an extra special treat if someone will actually push him around on them.

The water table is just an extra. We don't own our back yard, so I don't feel like I can put a kiddie pool out there. A water table sounds like a super fun and easily-storable Summer Fun option for us. I know he would love it.

It's funny that my apparently-very-deepest desires revolve around the potential commercial happiness of my son. I wonder why I'm not dreaming about a month-long vacation with Spiff, Hawaii...without Gunner. Imagine the sleep we'd get! That sounds like a better dream to be having. But I sure wouldn't see Gunner's amazing little smile and hear his contagious laugh if I left him with Grandma and went off to Hawaii without him.

I guess that's why I dream about garage sales.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I taught my nursery class our Easter lesson on Sunday. All seven 2-3 year olds were so excited to learn about Easter, and they asked me to tell the story over and over. I told it at least 4 times. We talked about how Jesus died, was put in a tomb (Me: say Tomb. Them: "Tooooom!"), then was resurrected three days later. They especially loved the part about how the stone was rolled in front of and then away from the tomb. They are cute kids, and it was a fun lesson to teach.

Then during coloring time, I remembered that one of the kids had just had a birthday. So in order to highlight the birthday girl, I asked her, "What did you do on your birthday?"

She replied, "Well, I was resurrected on my birthday."

I obviously got the meaning across very well. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Close Call

This is my dad's plane...
And he loves flying it. Flying makes him so happy that his wife and four children don't really mind his risky hobby. In fact, my mother has worked through her fears and has embraced his hobby. Because Dad is a good, safe pilot, Mom often goes flying with them, and they take small trips together in their little plane.

It was on one of these small trips, just last night, that my dad was forced to make an emergency landing. They lost power, landed on a snow machine road (thankfully not too far from home), and Search & Rescue went to pick them up. The landing was perfect, so my parents and the plane were uninjured. Search & Rescue responded quickly, and their big concern was that Mom & Dad were without heat on a cold evening on a snow-machine-accessible road. They think the plane lost power because the carburetor iced up. This has happened before, and they have taken preventative measures to keep it from happening again.

I spoke with my mother late last night, and she seemed chipper, energetic, and unconcerned. This reassured me enough to be able to fall asleep.

I was at a party when I found out. It was late, and I checked my phone only to find that I had missed two calls from my siblings, who never call that late. I knew something was wrong. The first message I received from my sister informed me that my parents' plane had "gone down", but that they were fine. The second message was from my brother who said, "Why aren't you answering your phone? Pick up your phone! We have news."

These messages left images in my head of balls of flaming metal careening to the ground from the sky, and images of my parents barely escaping the burning wreckage. Of course I was grateful to my siblings for letting me know what happened, and I am so very grateful that Mom & Dad are okay. It doesn't do much to slow my imagination, though.

Ever since our family has embraced my father's passion, we joke that my parents will die together in a plane crash. And quite honestly, for them, I don't think it would be a bad way to go. My dad would probably be smiling all the way to the ground, and my mom would be happy to be holding his hand. And neither of them would be left behind to live life alone.

On the other side of things, anyone who is familiar with Stephanie Nielson's story knows that dying in a plane crash maybe isn't the worst thing that can happen. I have bigger fears than that now.

And last night, when I received those messages, my thought was, "I'm not ready." I quickly found out that everything was fine, but I was still shaken. I'm not ready to live without my parents. I'm not ready for them not to be in Gunner's life. I'm not ready for them to not be a phone call away. It sounds petty, but I'm not ready to go without my mom's cooking advice and Dad's computer, car and building knowledge. I'm not ready to deal with the loss of my parents in any way, and I feel for those people who are dealing with that.

Today I'm grateful for the safety of my parents and that my dad is a good pilot.

Next project: Figuring out how to get their plane off of that snowy road and back to the airport.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Gunner is a Long Hugger. He is one of those people who goes in for a hug and just doesn't know when to quit. I have had him in nursery a few times and watched him chase down some of the younger kids (older than him), tackle them to the ground with a hug, and continue to hug them while they are begging anyone to help get this kid off them! He hugs babies, and he's mostly soft with them. He hugs older kids, and mostly they just want him to leave them alone. I can tell that he has good intentions, but he just doesn't know when to quit.

Besides that, he is very enthusiastic when he is around other kids. He wants to be involved with them, but they generally don't want to have anything to do with him. This means that when we are together with other kids, I spend my time running interference. I try my best to teach him how to behave around other kids, and to keep him from hurting them (feelings or otherwise). This means that I spend this time keeping him from pushing, taking toys, pulling hair, knocking down towers, and especially tackling with love.

It is exhausting.

I babysat a good friend's 2 1/2 year old for most of the day a month or two ago, and she and Gunner spent the entire day fighting.

I get together for play dates with friends, and I spend the entire time chasing him around, trying to keep him from doing any of the above things. By the end of the play date, I am so tired, frustrated, and stressed that I have wondered if it is worth it for us to get together with other people at all.

But not yesterday. Yesterday I babysat two children. The older one is 3 1/2. I'm not sure whether it's an age thing, or a combination of age and the fact that she is a big sister, but she was amazing! He did his regular tricks, including tackling her with long hugs.

And she just laughed. She hugged and wrestled him back. She played soccer with him. She encouraged him to play with her. She and Gunner actually played together all day long. It was actually easier for me to be at home yesterday while babysitting all day than it normally is because Gunner was being entertained, and I didn't have to constantly referee.

Really what it comes down to is the fact that Gunner should have been a second child. He needs an older sibling. I don't know how we're going to accomplish that, but in the mean time, I'm going to insist that he play with this little girl. A lot. Which is extra good for me since I love spending time with her mother.