Sunday, December 18, 2011

Simple Sports

I love the simplicity of running. Good running gear is nice, but I love that all you really need to run is a good pair of running shoes. Compared to Spiff's other beloved sports, including biking, rowing and skiing that require a bare minimum of a large investment in order to get started, running seems like the most lovely, simple thing of the athletic world.

These days, however, here's what it takes for me to get out on even the shortest of runs:
My own running gear, including sunglasses, warm winter running pants, jacket, hat and gloves.
My two children, since Spiff is working all hours and they come with me, who both need to be fed and clothed before setting out
Double jogging stroller
Weather shield for the stroller
Coats and gloves for the kids
Warmed rice bags for a little extra warmth in the 20 degree weather
Toys and occasionally food for the older one
And my awesome running partner, her little boy (with accompanying equipment mentioned above), and her Magic Garmin Watch to tell us how far and fast we're going.

That's a lot of stuff. It takes me at least 45 minutes to get ready to go for a 30-60 minute run.

Besides that, I have a wish list. I want my own treadmill. I want my own Magic Watch. I want my own Ipod (I know, right?! Who doesn't have an Ipod these days? Spiff has one that he uses at work, but I don't.). I want a new techie running cap and a strap-on-my-hand-while-I-run water bottle. I want new running shoes and socks. I want to register for a whole lot of events.

Some of these things are needs, and some of these will become needs when we move to Minnesota next year. But what this list boils down to is a whole lot of money invested into a sport that is supposed to be as simple and inexpensive as strapping on a pair of running shoes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Very Christmas

Alright, so the Christmas Season is trucking along. With two weeks to go, I feel like I have made progress, but still have so many little things to finish up that I'm still completely overwhelmed. I've got my Christmas cards, but they need to be sent out. I have presents that need to be wrapped, some packages sent, but some that need to be sent. I have neighbor gifts to make and deliver. I have a few more presents to purchase. I wish that I could be super organized like my neighbor, Kalie, and have everything done already so that I could simply enjoy the activities of the season...stuff like this:

We decorated for Christmas just after Thanksgiving, and Gunner was so sad when I took his Thanksgiving window sticker turkey down. Then some amazing Christmas elves (thank you Mom and Auntie Mhana) sent him new fancy Christmas window stickers! We have the most festive window on the block.

We went to Temple Square last night. It never ceases to amaze me. The lights are overwhelmingly beautiful, and I love it, always. I also can't help but think about the manpower and hours of work that go into putting up and taking down that display every year. Wowzah!

We tried taking the boys to a live nativity the other night, but when we got there, the area was all parked up, and there was a line of people stretching several blocks down the street. We decided not to wait in line, drove around a bit, and ended up at the zoo, where they have an event called Zoo Lights. Most of the actual animals were asleep, but we walked around looking at neon animal displays. And.........Santa's Reindeer! They have real reindeer there! Very cool.

I had a small wrapping party at my house the other night. I got two whole presents wrapped, but a whole lot of talking to friends in.

We attended my sister's ward Christmas party, where Gunner got to sit on Santa's lap. When asked what he would like for Christmas, Gunner replied, "Christmas." Well, who wouldn't?!

Gunner is so excited about Christmas this year. He's enjoying all of our little family traditions. He wakes up every morning asking to open a box from our Playmobil Advent Calender. Then we have to turn on all of the Christmas lights. Then he wants to pull out an ornament on the felt advent calender my mom made for us. Then he has to find the stuffed Tomten, which is a Scandinavian folk character who guards our tree and hides every night. He loves it all so much that I'm sort of dreading the day when Hobbes cares about doing these fun things, too. Who would want to share such fun activities?! But that's a problem for another year.

Also, I finally have a few presents under our tree, and they are killing Gunner. Just killing him! He asks about 15 times a day if he can open them, and he just doesn't get the benefit of waiting and the concept of anticipation. We got a package of presents the other day from our Aunt, and he was so upset by not being able to open them that he stormed off saying, "I Hate presents. I want to throw the presents in the garbage!" So you see, I was incredibly grateful to Spiff's mom when her package arrived, and there was a present labeled, "To Gunner, Open Right Away." Best words ever! It was the Three Playmobil Wisemen and a Camel, an addition to our excellent Nativity Scene. Grammy, you really won Christmas this year!!!

And last for today, Gunner accompanied me to tithing settlement today, while Hobbes and Spiff were home sleeping. As we were leaving, Gunner wished the bishop a "Very Christmas!"

Very Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Trot

I ran my first ever Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. I can't believe I have never done it before! There couldn't be a better way to show my gratitude to Heavenly Father for my healthy body than by running, just before cooking all day and then shoving it with tons of delicious food. Yes, I am grateful for food and health this season.

I'm also grateful for my 5K PR!!!
My time: 25:18 (Sixth in my age group). I think this is a 6-minute PR!
I ran with my sister, who came in at 25:45 (seventh in our age group). Very cool!

I loved it, and I think I'll finally join the masses and make this part of my Thanksgiving traditions.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Agenda

Today was a long Sunday, with Spiff at work all day. The Sundays Spiff is working seem to drag on forever, and I have a hard time figuring out what to do to entertain my kids when going to a park or a store is out of the question. I got lucky today, though. I had a really awesome kid to keep me company. Here's how we spent the afternoon.

  • I started to play the piano, and immediately had two boys wanting to play along.
  • Then Gunner wanted to dance to the piano music, so he danced. Then he wanted me to dance with him.
  • Dancing led to him getting his dancing dress-up on (which is a "pretty dress" that is really just one of my old shirts).
  • It also led to me turning on some old clips of Dancing With the Stars dances, me "lifting" him gracefully off the couch (this kid has got some moves, let me tell you!), and him putting on his Robin (Batman's sidekick) suit on, so he could look like Helio Castroneves in a suit.
  • Dressing up as Robin led him to dressing up as Batman himself, which led to him driving a Batmobile he created from a diaper box.
  • Then he dressed up as a Super Fireman, which is a Fireman who sports a Red cape. He saved Hobbes and me from many a fire.
  • But then there was the fire he couldn't save me from, and I got "sick". He made me lie down on the floor so he could nurse me back to health He was the sweetest care-taker. He gave me shots, medicine, and all of his most special toys to help me feel better. He also came to the hospital as a visitor to help me not be lonely.
  • Having me sick on the floor led to him getting out all of the pillows in our house so that I would be comfortable. (Hobbes liked that one. He rolled around on the pillows laughing, like he was a millionaire rolling around on a pile of money.)
  • When he helped me feel better, he got "sick" himself, and I was instructed to "feel him better." Good thing I had a great care-taker to teach me how to take of a sick person.

And that's how we spent our afternoon. He's a fun little kid to play with. Hobbes spent the day following him around, and there were some times when the two of them were both rolling on the floor laughing together. Goodness, I love seeing his imagination develop, and watching the relationship between these little brothers grow.

This is what I call Joy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fix-It Christmas

Okay, so I'm skipping the Thanksgiving post for now, and heading right on to Christmas. If you refuse to acknowledge Christmas until Thanksgiving is over, then I'll see you next week.

I will first admit that I'm not looking forward to buying gifts for my loved ones this year because I (once again) do not have any great ideas for any of them. I feel like this always sneaks up on me, and I always end up procrastinating it until I end up spending too much money on shipping right before Christmas. Either that or getting into a losing battle with a post office worker. Gift buying ends up being a big stressor for me. I don't know how to quickly come up with something great, that doesn't seem chintzy on a small budget. I'd love to get awesome things for the people I love, or do something lovely, heartfelt and homemade. But I don't have the time, money or talent to pull off anything great like that. Sigh. I guess I'll be praying for some inspiration.

Second, Spiff and I have decided not really to buy each other gifts this year. With a move coming up in June, and in an effort to keep the cost down and the level of "stuff" in our house to a minimum, we have come up with what we are calling "The Fix-It Christmas."

Instead of buying new things, we are spending any money we would spend on gifts fixing things that have been on a To-Fix list for months/years. We are upgrading things. And we are replacing things.

It's not elaborate. Little things, like my watch battery that hasn't worked for about a year and half. Spiff's heart-rate monitor battery that needs to be sent out to a special place to be replaced. New running shoes that I need for my upcoming marathon. Parts for the Yakima rack that we'll need for the move. Etc.

It sort of takes the surprise out of the gift-giving and receiving side of things, and it does seem sort of lame to get/give a watch battery for Christmas. But I feel a whole lot of peace with our little plan, knowing what's coming up in our lives, and knowing that we did something to minimize the chaos in our home. Besides that all of it will be done with money that we will need to spend anyway, so we might as well wrap it up and put a bow on it. Don't you think?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Shadow

I have a permanent shadow these days that follows me around all day, in sunshine and rain. It is about three feet tall, talks constantly, and is named Gunner.

Seriously, I don't know what it is about this phase of his life, but he cannot seem to be more than two feet away from me at all times. If I am sitting on the couch, he is sitting next to me, asking me to read to him. If I am looking at the computer, he is on my lap asking me what I'm looking at. If I am making dinner, he is playing on the kitchen floor. If I am folding laundry, he is sitting on my bed. If I am interacting with Hobbes in any way, he is right there next to me, getting involved. If I am not carrying Hobbes, he wants me to carry him.

The funniest part is when I am doing chores and am moving from room to room. He sits at my feet on the bathroom rug while I do my hair. Then when I go downstairs to do some laundry, I hear, "MOM?! Where are you?!" I call back, "I'm downstairs," and the next thing I know, my shadow has found me and is resuming his game, again at my feet. We repeat this situation in every room all day long.

It is cute, albeit exhausting having him constantly under my feet. He has to win me up the stairs. He has to get to the door and open it before I do. He has climb out my car door and pop the trunk whenever we go anywhere. And did I mention the constant talking? This boy does not know how to be quiet. He has a constant stream of words, dictating the narrative of his life. Even the rare occasion of him "quietly reading a book to himself" is narrated. No wonder sitting quietly in church is such a struggle for him!

I keep wondering when he will get more independent, and if I will miss the days of my little talking shadow. I probably will.

...But not much. :)

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

We had a great trip to California. I loved seeing our friends, although seeing them makes me freshly miss them all over again. They are such good friends, and I love seeing our children together. Gunner played guns and wrestled with their 5-year-old the entire time we were there. He loved it. He also hugged their two girls any chance he got. I went running with my old running partner, we made cookies, took the kids trick or treating, carved pumpkins, played games, ate BBQ Ribs, and we even went on a date. Awesome. And totally worth the hours and hours of traveling and whining kids.

We have enjoyed the rest of Spiff's vacation week at home. He has gone mountain biking and skating, like he wanted. We have watched a lot of TV. We have relaxed, and I feel 100% refreshed, but somehow completely NOT ready for him to go back to work.

In other news:
We have experiences three seasons in one week. We have played in the Pacific Ocean and the beach, played in Fall leaves, and played in snow. Gunner has loved it. And so have I.

We came home from our trip to find that The Neighbors have moved. I guess I can check that one off the list of things to worry about.

I signed up for my first full marathon, coming up in May 2012. I'm excited to take my running to the next level, but I am also terrified! I don't know how I'm going to find the time to train, what with taking care of my kids and Spiff's busy schedule. But the good news is that my new running partner neighbor also signed up, so we'll be able to train together and support each other with our kids. So it's on to a Winter of cross-training, leading up to full-marathon training in the Spring! Wowzah!

Hobbes figured out how to sleep through the night, for approximately a week and half. He slept all night long during our entire trip! It was glorious! And now that we're home, we're sort of back to square one. Hopefully he'll remember quickly. He has learned how to pull himself up on things, to cruise around furniture, and he is getting so much more comfortable getting himself up and down and all around. It's super fun to see him be such a busy little guy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Spiff's vacation starts tonight, promptly at 5:00 pm. The kids and I are picking him up from work and driving to California to visit some medical school friends. I could not be more excited! Not only do I get to see our good friends, I get to spend time with my husband when he's not sleep-deprived and stressed out! Ah, what sweet relief a little R&R will bring!

Wish us luck on the drive, cuz we're out of here and spending Halloween in sunny CA!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To the Doctor!

This post is more for me than anyone else. I took the kids to the doctor last week, Gunner for his 3-year well-child check, and Hobbes for his 9-month baby check. You'll all be relieved to know that my children are growing just fine, and they're both as healthy as can be. Whew. What a relief. I know you were worried.

Gunner weighs 33.8 lbs., and he is 39.5 inches tall.

Hobbes weighs 19.2 lbs, and is 29.25 inches long.
He's in the 28th percentile for weight, with a 90th percentile head circumference. Gunner was always in the 70th percentile, so it's sort of strange for me to have a smaller baby.

Both of the boys got shots, Hobbes a flu shot, and Gunner a Hep B booster he should have gotten half a year ago. Gunner hasn't had a shot for a year, so I prepared him by telling him he was going to feel a little poke. I expected a little bit of a tantrum or a fight. Instead, he watched the nurse give him the shot, sort of flinched, and then said, "Hmm, why do I have a bandaid?" No tears or fears of any kind. He's such a champ!

Also, this doesn't have anything to do with the doctor, but just to update you all on the doings and growings of our sweet little baby. He has a tooth and is working on another. I loved his gummy smile, but I sure do love that little tooth. Super cute! And he can pull himself up on things. Now that he can do it, he spends all day long pulling himself up and grinning from ear to ear. He's so proud of himself! He still has a really awkward army crawl where he pushes/pulls himself around. It looks so uncomfortable, but he's just as happy as can be with it. And he's Fast! He can really get around, limping and lurching like a little lizard who has a broken arm and leg. Oh well. Whatever works, right? Other than the fact that he doesn't sleep at night, he is just the most awesome, happy and pleasant little baby in the world. Simply happy to be alive. Love him!

An Hour and Fifteen Minutes

That's how long my baby cries when he wakes up at night. When I hear him wake up at night, I look at the clock and know that we'll have to endure his pitiful cries for no less than an hour and fifteen minutes.

I'm so sad that I know this.

How long have we been sleep training? Three months, if I remember correctly. We have had to endure this for So Long. It's miserable every night, and I feel like the worst momma in the world every. single. time.

And I think the very worst part of it is the regret. We went through this with Gunner as a baby. We rocked him to sleep as a tiny baby, and I loved it. Only when it stopped working (around six months) did we painfully decide, as first-time parents, that we needed to let him cry-it-out. Spiff and I both decided that crying-it-out was so miserable that we would never let another baby of ours become dependent on us to go to sleep. We convinced ourselves that it was our fault that he didn't have any self-soothing skills, and that we caused that situation.

So when Hobbsie came around, we both refused to rock him to sleep. From the very beginning, we put him down in his bed to fall asleep on his own. With the help of a swaddle and a binkie, "we taught him self-soothing skills," and he was awesome at falling asleep on his own and sleeping through the night. Up until six months old, when just like Gunner, it stopped working.

And now I feel like I missed out on one of the most precious and wonderful experiences I can have with my sweet little child...rocking and holding him as a tiny baby. And it was all for nothing. And I will never get that time back.

I also have plenty of time to think about this awful regret...every he cries-it-out for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Neighbors

This is a picture of someone getting arrested right in front of our house. Sorry the picture is so crappy. I was taking it from inside my house (so as not to be such an obvious creeper), and the reflections from my window are terrible. But you get the gist, right?
Notice the guy on the right who has rubber "drug-finding" gloves on? And the black unmarked police vehicles? There were at least seven of them on the street. There were police milling around the house all afternoon, and even a Drug Dog that got in that white car and sniffed all around. Interesting to watch. Exciting drama at our place today!

I have actually been thinking about posting something about our neighbors for a while. But Spiff informed me that the home teachers said that they would be moving soon, so I held my tongue. Until the drug bust today.

Gunner has made friends with the neighbor kids. One of the kids is an 8-year-old boy who is very nice and well-mannered. He comes over and brings his cool "big kid toys" that Gunner loves to play with. I don't actually mind when the big kid comes over because it keeps Gunner completely occupied for a couple hours.

I do mind it when his little sister (who is seven, I think) comes over, too. She knocked on the door the other day. I opened it. She said, "Um, is my brother here?" I said, "Yes, he is." She stared at me. Then she said, "Well, can I come in?" I let her in.

She's a decent kid, too, except that she's a big more negative than her brother. She says sort of mean things. And when she comes, her brother plays with her and not with Gunner. Then the two of them are playing with each other, at my house, with Gunner's toys, ignoring Gunner.

It's weird.

I have all these concerns, but they have mostly stemmed from the fact that I don't know the family. I worry that they'll teach Gunner behaviors that aren't appropriate for a 3-year-old because they don't seem to understand that he is a lot younger than them. I worry that he feels bad when the sister is around and he is being ignored. But mostly I worry that they will take him out of my house and across the street to their house without me knowing.

The other day, the kids were here, and I told them that Gunner, the baby, and I had to go run an errand. The boy said, "Well, can Gunner come to our house?" I said, "No." Him: "But I could ask my mom to watch him." Me: "Um, no thanks." Him: "But it's not a big deal at all. He could just come over." Me: (Letting out a little scream in my head) "No! I'm just going to take him with me!"

And then today. The drug bust. Gunner asked me, "Can I play with my friend?" I said, "Well, honey, he's probably going to be busy today." Gunner: "Why?"

Oh boy. How do I explain that one to a 3-year-old?

The kids are nice. I'm just uncomfortable with the whole situation. And I feel bad for hoping that they really do move soon.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Conference Weekend

One of the things I have realized about living in the Salt Lake valley is that it's sort of tricky to make friend here because almost everyone who lives here lives close to home. That means that they already have family and old friends around, and they don't have tons of room for new people, especially new people who are here temporarily. I'm lucky that I also have a small circle of family and old friends here (and even a new one), but they had plans with other family, and I found myself a little on the lonely side this Conference Weekend as I remembered several years of watching Conference, eating yummy food, and spending time with good friends on this weekend. (I will mention that some of my family members were nice and invited me their family functions, but I didn't want to intrude.)

That's why I was so grateful to be invited to a breakfast this morning with some of our close friends from Spiff's medical school who are doing their residencies in Utah. Our four families, minus Spiff and another of the husbands, ate a delicious breakfast together, and then let the kids play in the backyard while Conference blared on the radio. It was glorious! Perfect October weather plus happy and occupied kids means that I actually got to listen to a snippet of some of the talks. Thank you, Lindsey, for putting it together! I felt like I had a little taste of "home" today.

On a slightly related topic, I have recently given Gunner a job. I got tired of him getting upset with me when I forgot his cup of water (known as "Truck Water" because of the pictures of trucks on the cup) on an outing. So, I decided to let it be his responsibility. I tell him, "If you want your Truck Water, then you have to bring it with you." I remind him to grab it, but when he asks for it, I have loved being able to say, "Nope, I don't have it. Did you bring it?" And he loves feeling like a big kid with a responsibility.

In the few minutes of Conference I was able to catch on Saturday afternoon, Gunner sat on my lap and listened for about 30 seconds. The speaker talked about church callings and responsibilities. Gunner perked up at a word he recognized.

Today, Spiff asked Gunner if he listened to the prophet speak.
Gunner said, "Um, yeah."

Spiff asked, "What did he tell you?"

Gunner replied, "He told me that it is my sponsibility to bring my truck water."

Spiritual lesson...Check.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My New Obsession

Asian Cooking.

Since our move in June, my taste buds have decided that the most delicious food on the planet is Asian food. Curry, Rice, Thai food, Noodles bowls...Oh, may the Heavens open up and swallow me whole! I can't get enough. It is all I want to eat these days. And I have entered on a new quest to figure out how to make them.

I have gone to a local Asian Market and invested in new ingredients to me, including fish sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, fried shallots, chile paste, Srirache sauce (my favorite!), sesame oil. I have a pile of recipes to try. I have had some successes, some failures. I have tons to learn. And I'm totally intimidated by what may be the most simple thing in the world, but seems to be an incomprehensible mystery: Asian Noodles.

If you've shopped at an Asian market before, you have seen the vast quantities and varieties of noodles they sell. It is truly impressive! Package after package of noodles that are slightly different from each other, but since I don't read their languages, I can't figure out what makes them different, or how exactly to find the one kind of noodle that is specified in a recipe. I definitely don't know enough about them to know how they will behave in a recipe, so I certainly can't blindly choose something out of the masses.

I asked for help, and the kind owner of the shop led me to all the different kinds of noodles I needed. I purchased some dried Chinese egg noodles. I have never cooked them before, and so when I got home and started making dinner, I read these Engrish instructions (click on the picture to make it big enough to read):

It made me laugh. I clearly have a lot to learn about this.

***And while we're on the topic, if you have a favorite Asian recipe that makes your mouth sing, please share it with me! I'd love to add it to my repertoire.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Unreasonable Expectations

Spiff went off to work in the ICU this Saturday morning, leaving the house at 6:30 to ride his bike to work. He will probably return home tonight after 8:00 pm. He is working 13/14-hour shifts both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. This is after a week of 7pm-9am night shifts.

I mention this because, after he left this morning, I got up and read this status on a friend's facebook status:

"if grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events, and gas stations can serve the public on the weekends with out raising their rates, why can't doctors' offices? Seriously, they should staff-up 7 days a week, and evenings too. Because we all know that's when kids like to get sick."

I had to fight really hard to keep myself from posting a snippy, irritated comment in response. And in the end, I couldn't help myself from defending the doctors. I mentioned that doctors do work on the weekends, and they are do work around the clock in hospitals. I also mentioned that they are available at urgent-care and ER facilities. Her response was that doctor's weekend options are too expensive, so they should open their clinics on weekends and evenings at a normal rate.

In my opinion, expecting doctors to be available in their clinics at all times at normal rates is unreasonable. Should we expect plumbers, electricians, computer technicians, and all other professions to work around the clock, without overtime pay, just in case we need them? I don't think so.

Besides the fact that there are often weekend option available, I think it is important to think about the lifestyles of those providing services before demanding that they are available for our every whim.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I lived in Eugene, OR for five years. I fell in love with it for many reasons, a few of which are these:
  • Our great family and friends.
  • The coast, just a 45-minute beautiful drive away.
  • Blackberries growing wild on every road side.
  • Green, Green Everything
  • Bike and running paths to take you anywhere you want to go.
  • Ducks Football
  • And last, but not least, Café Yumm!

Sweet Mhana just brought me this extra large bottle of Yumm! sauce:
I made bi-monthly trips to this eatery while I lived there, and I deeply miss it. This sauce is amazing, and unfortunately for me, perishable. I can order it online, but it has to be constantly refrigerated, making it way out of my shipping price range. I even tried to make it last year by replicating the secret recipe from knock-off recipes online. The result looked good but tasted far from accurate, and far from satisfying. Now, I almost feel like I have a bottle of pure, edible gold sitting in my fridge.

I can't wait to dig into my homemade version of this deliciousness!

Café Yumm! is a small chain with locations in Portland, Bend, Corvallis and Eugene, OR. Check it out if you're ever in the area. It is so very very delicious!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vacation Crazies

The boys and I visited my parents last week. It was a glorious vacation. We didn't do much but sit around my mom's house and play with her toys. It was so nice for me because I didn't have my own chores to do, no mountains of laundry, not my own kitchen to clean, not my bills to pay or errands to run. I was free to simply play with my kids. And my mom fed my baby during dinner every day. I even got a couple naps while I was there. It was a real vacation for me, although we did miss Spiff, who was working like a dog at the horse-pistol.

We returned late in the evening a couple days ago and dumped our vacation on the floor before falling into bed. We woke up in the morning to company (so fun to have Spiff's mom and sister in town!) and a day off for Spiff, which made for a fun-filled day and weekend.

Then today, I attempted to clean up the vacation that was still on the floor from two days ago. So much cleaning to do! Bills, errands, etc. Not to mention the fact that I have yet to make it to the grocery store since before I left on my trip a week and half ago. Seriously, how do people recover from vacations?

And then there are the children. Good heavens, the children! Both of them have spent the past 36 hours crying, whining, or complaining constantly. The baby refuses to sleep at night these days. I need someone to please remind him that he is not, in fact, a newborn, and does not need to eat three times a night! I'm sleep-training now (for real this time), and it's so miserable. He cries and is awake all night, so he's tired and cranky all day. This night-waking thing is baffling us. It could be just a phase, could be separation anxiety. A lack of self-soothing skills. Teething. Tummy problems. Who knows. But it's exhausting me.

And Gunner, since we got home, refuses to believe that he can entertain himself. He seriously has seemed to lose all ability to do anything on his own. I guess all that extra love and attention he got from me and his grandparents was the absolute wrong thing to do on vacation. Next time we should all completely ignore him.

Plus, he has developed this attitude. I have heard that it's common for three-year-olds to become bossy. Boy, is he bossy. And rude. He told me today, while I was snuggling him and reading him a book, that he wanted me to "shut my mouth."

That's when I put all of his favorite toys on an indefinite time out. He has to earn them back by being nice to me and by doing nice things.

That'll teach him to be rude to his momma!

Oh, boy.

It's just vacation detox, right? Right?! A few days of regular schedule, food and sleep patterns will calm them both down. Right? Please tell me we'll all start getting along again. Please tell me that the vacation crazies will go away. Soon.

I may never go on vacation again.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Nothing to Report

I have posted in a few weeks because I haven't come across anything I felt blog-worthy in a while. We have had a month of nothing to report, other than this stuff:

I am still struggling with that darn oven! Since the banana bread, it ruined yet another loaf of pear bread (I decided to give up on that one), and it burned a blueberry pie. An oven thermometer has just moved up to the top of my shopping list. I don't think I can emotionally continue to try to bake and fail.

I ran a half marathon on Saturday with all my siblings and two of my siblings-in-law. This has been a tough training program for me this time around because Spiff has been so busy, and I haven't been able to rely on him to watch the kids. I also haven't been well rested because of my young baby who has decided not to sleep much these days. Because of this, my goal going into the Half was just to finish.

Then two days before the event, I decided that I felt really good after all, and I was going to try to PR. Race day was beautiful, the course was great, and I did, in fact, set a new personal record of 1:58:45, beating my time from 2 1/2 years ago by a whopping 10 seconds. I find myself actually being disappointed for not being even faster, but I have to remind myself that I didn't train for a PR, and I should be happy with my effort. I am grateful for my new running partner, Kalie, who has been there with me stride for stride with jogging stroller in tow, as we pounded the pavement over the past couple months. I am grateful for the friends and family who watched my children so that I could run. And I'm grateful to have had the experience of participating in a distance running event with my family, team SRT. When I started running 13 years ago, I never thought I would see the day when all of my siblings would run with me. I love it!

And also, Spiff and the boys and I have enjoyed some small hikes on Spiff's off days this past month. It has been a nice way to enjoy some family together time. It's free, it's out of the house, and it wears Gunner out completely. We did a 2-mile hike last week where Gunner actually walked 9/10s of the way all by himself! At a steep point in the hike, we told him that we were mountain goats, like the Billy Goats Gruff, and we were going to climb a mountain. It is the first walk we have taken with him in a long time that he didn't complain about being tired.

This is a pretty lengthy, wordy post for having absolutely nothing to say. Thanks for listening to my rambling.
Until next time!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When Your Ego Takes a Hit

I love good food, and I think I'm a decent cook. (Is that a vain thing to say?) In fact, I have been told that food is my love language. Having a baby? Have a family illness? Anyone in your family having surgery? No problem. I'll provide dinner! I'm not great at providing other services for the people I love, but I can usually give food.

I enjoy cooking, and I love baking, especially in the Fall when the weather chills up a bit, and warming up my kitchen with yummy smelling baked goods is just the right thing to take the bite out of the air.

Now, here's the problem. My little house has a lovely, brand spanking new kitchen. The landlords fixed it all up, with new tile floors and new cabinets. It's beautiful! They even installed granite countertops. Problem, you say? It sounds glorious!

The problem is the oven. Right now, I'm wishing they had saved their money on the countertop and bought a new oven. The one in the kitchen is old and unpredictable. I have discovered that I have to set the temperature at least 25 degrees cooler than specified in any recipe. AND I have to bake things for much less time than recommended (think 7 minutes for 11 minute cookies).

Even then, I'm always guessing. I have ended up with crispy cookies (I like 'em soft), dry pear bread (it is HARD to turn pear bread dry), and my latest "creation", this lovely banana bread:


This has a big possibility of having a seriously negative effect on my reputation. I promise that it's the oven's fault. Please don't judge me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Event Confusion

I think Gunner is a little confused by time and spacial relationships. Today he said the following:

Mommy, will you get my birthday out?

I want to go to Halloween.

My birthday starts on Wednesday.

On an unrelated note, and in honor of Liz Lemon (although he has never seen an episode of 30 Rock), he has said, entirely unprompted, and on many occasions, "I want to go to there."

Me too, Gunner. Me too.

Wild Goose Chase

Hobbes is a puker. Anyone who has been around him has either been repelled by his constant state of wetness, or baptized by a large volume of baby vomit. All babies spit up, but his puking seems excessive, although it doesn't seem to bother him. It bothers me with the extra laundry I have to do, and the fact that he has ruined my carpet! I brought it up with his doctor at his 6-month check-up, and he prescribed a reflux medication, Prevacid (Lansoprazole), in pill form. We were to administer it by crushing it up and mixing it with some baby food.

Keep in mind that Hobbes is only 7 months old, and at the time we got the prescription, he had been eating solid foods for exactly one day. Getting him to swallow enough of it to be effective has been challenging, if not absolutely futile.

It hasn't been working, or doing anything at all, from our perspective. My carpet is still consistently being doused by little wet orange blobs of vomit.

Spiff mentioned that the medication could be formulated into a liquid format for easier administration, so I called the doctor's office to see if we could get that done. Piece of cake, said the nurse. She'd call it in to the pharmacy of my choice.

I chose the Costco pharmacy close to my house, and because a series of unfortunate events, I was unable to go pick it up for about 6 days. At the end of my shopping trip, I checked at the pharmacy. They said they hadn't filled it because they didn't have Hobbes's name/info in the system. I gave it to them and left, to pick it up another day, feeling guilty that Hobbes still didn't have his medicine.

The Costco pharmacy called me back later that day to say that they couldn't fill the prescription because it had to be "compounded" and needed to go to a compound pharmacy that could do it.
Slightly frustrated and quite confused as to what that means (although Spiff said, "Yeah, I thought that might be a problem.), I called the recommended pharmacy. They were super helpful, and all they needed was the number of the Costco pharmacy so they could get the script transfered.

New Compounding Pharmacy called back a few minutes later to tell me that Costco didn't have the script. I was confused because I had talked to them two days earlier, and they said they had it, but hadn't filled it yet. New Compounding Pharmacy then called the doctor's office to get a new script.

The Doctor's Office called a few minutes later to say that they needed to call New Compounding Pharmacy, but they didn't have the correct phone number.

New Compounding Pharmacy called several hours later to say that the new prescription was ready. The pharmacist said that Costco had lost the script, and she was confused as to why Costco couldn't fill it because it wasn't something that needed to be compounded.

It was, in fact, a pill.


I wonder how or if this pill is any different than the one we already have. I also wonder where the confusion was in the first place. Yikes!

She said that it was something I can dissolve in a liquid and give to him in some water (which he doesn't drink) or his bottle (which he doesn't use because he is breastfed). Eventually, she understood that I would need a container and a syringe in order to dissolve the pill in a small amount of water and give it to him via syringe.

This sure is a lot of work for some reflux that doesn't seem to bother him. I'll pick up the prescription tomorrow, and then we'll finally be able to give this new medicine a try. I also sure do hope that it's the end of the story.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Small Things

Just a few things Gunner did today that made me laugh. I had to share:

Gunner: Can I have one of your cupcakes?

Me: Yes, as long as you give me a big hug and tell me that you love me and that I'm your favorite momma in the whole big world.

Gunner: I love zjew. I'm your big momma in the world favorite whole now.

#2: (while Spiff was attending the Tour of Utah with a buddy who picked him up from our house)
Gunner: Did Daddy go to a bike race? Who's his friend?

Me: That was Daddy's friend Sean.

Gunner: Sean the Baptist?

And #3: Here's what has been keeping Gunner entertained the past couple days. These are motorcycles made out of playdough (my handiwork. Aren't I artistic?). His hands are the riders, and they had to have helmets. I wish you could hear the dialogue that goes with it. I think I'm almost as entertained by it as he is.

Did he make you smile?

Friday, August 05, 2011

As Requested

I have had a couple requests to explain the "Magic Pooping Toy." So here's an explanation, and then I promise to stop talking about poop.

My dear friend, Pulcheria, gave this advice as a comment to a previous post. (Pulcheria, I hope it's okay with you that I'm reposting it here.)

"The pooping was my biggest stress too! And Beemer had issues. She would hold it until we put a diaper on her at night for a long time. Or have accidents like you are dealing with. AT finally made her a poopoo necklace that she could wear on the potty. It was a magic necklace that would help her poop when she needed too (it was really just a button on a string) and it worked! So our suggestion is a new car that he can hold or some article of clothing he can wear only on the potty that is magic. Oh, and a diet coke for you!"

Like I said, she and her husband are brilliant. I think this type of insight is a rare and beautiful thing.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Yessir, things are changing around our little household. Here's what's happening:

First of all, Spiff started his intern year doing outpatient internal medicine. It's definitely not his favorite thing to do, but the schedule was glorious. Mon-Fri, 8-5:00, with weekends and holidays off. I knew it wouldn't last, and I told myself I knew what was coming, but I don't think I was emotionally prepared for how difficult his new inpatient medicine schedule would be. He leaves the house at 5:30 in the morning and doesn't get back until 9:00 on most nights. We knew going into this internship that it would be hard. We knew that the interns at his hospital work hard, and I told myself I was prepared for all the single-mothering I would be doing. I think I told myself a big fat lie, and that nothing really could prepare me for having him gone through the boys' breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime almost every day of the week. We miss him.

Second, we got our huge Double Bob jogging stroller (thank you for the delivery, Spiff's Mom!), and because of Spiff's awesome schedule, I have been taking my kids running with me. The stroller is great and handles like a dream, but it's still so so so hard pushing an extra 70 pounds of stroller and children while I run. It's a totally different kind of workout, physically and emotionally, but I'm grateful to have the option.

Also, I started running with my neighbor. For two days now, we have packed up our kids and taken them with us. It's nice to have the company, and I'm glad to have a new friend and a great way to get to know her better.

Third, I decided that it's time to start sleep training Hobbes. He's 6 1/2 months old, and up until this point, he slept like a dream. I could just swaddle him up, give him a binkie, put him down, and he'd be out like a light. He still sleeps well at night, but this week, he has been refusing his naps. I remember this point when Gunner was a baby when we realized that what had been working for us (which was rocking him to sleep) wasn't working anymore. It was time to sleep train.

Like most mothers, I have such a hard time sleep training my babies because it's so very difficult to hear them cry. I second guess myself all the time, wondering if he's hungry, cold, wet, poopy, or if there's something else I should have done to prepare him for sleep. This morning, he cried for 40 minutes, and the whole time I said my mantra to myself, "He will eventually go to sleep. He will eventually go to sleep." And I have to remind myself that it's the best thing for him to learn how to comfort himself and go to sleep. It's a valuable skill, and he needs to learn it, even though hearing my sweet, easy-going little baby cry makes me want to scratch holes in my window with my fingernails.

And last, but not least, I'll update you all on Gunner and the pooping. We have both been really frustrated. We stayed home from Sacrament Meeting on Sunday so that he could poop. It took the whole hour for success. He has been asking for diapers and telling me that it's too hard. Thank you for your advice and suggestions. Pulcheria, I have a "magic pooping toy" on my shopping list for the day. I think you're brilliant.

And now I have a triumphant story to tell. Brace yourselves, folks because this is amazing! This morning while I was stuck on the couch nursing Hobbes, I asked Gunner to go to the bathroom to wash his hands. I heard the water go on and off, but Gunner didn't come out of the bathroom. I didn't know what he was up to, and I nervously waited until he finally called out to me, "Mommy, I made some logs! Come here and see!"

Yep, my little boy went poop in the potty All. By. Himself. He decided he had to go, pulled down his pants, positioned his step stool and the toilet seat, and pooped without any assistance at all! I almost cried out of joy and pride. I really hope that this good experience is the turning point for him, and that he'll finally have the confidence to conquer this hurdle for good. Go Gunner Go!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect


I'm sure you're all tired of me posting about potty stuff, but it's on my mind, so this is what you get. If you don't want poop stories, feel free to skip this one.

Gunner really is doing well with the peeing. He's not 100% dry overnight, but he does okay. He hasn't really had any accidents during the daytime at all, since the first two days. I'm super proud of him for that.

And you all warned me about this next part.

The pooping!

It's horrible! He is about 50/50 on the pooping. Today he pooped his pants. We have had a few poop accidents. Boy, I really do hate cleaning that up. The pooping is the one reason that I waited as long as I did to potty train. I'd much rather change a poopy diaper than poopy pants. Blech.

I'm having a hard time knowing how to react to him about it. Today we worked for over an hour with him because he had to poop. He told us, so we rushed him to the potty, and then he immediately hopped off saying, "I can't. I can't." It was on and off the potty, coaching the pushing, reading books, pleading, bribing, etc. For over an hour! And we got a teeny tiny little poop out of it. I knew he had more, but he just couldn't do it then.

So he pooped his pants later.

I find myself getting mad at him, and later wonder why I can't show him more empathy. I think the reason is that I don't want him to ever think it's okay, so I scold, I take toys away, I don't offer treats, I make him clean up, and I tell him how disappointed I am. Negative consequences to hopefully entice him to use the potty next time.

It's just so frustrating because I know he is more than capable of figuring this out. He has done it before, and now he's acting all afraid of it. I do realize that there's a learning curve to figuring out those bodily urges. I guess I just have to remember that he's still new at it. The first day of potty training, he peed 20 times. If he could poop 20 times in one day, he'd be a seasoned pro at that, too.

Any advice out there for how to handle the poop training?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Potty Star

That's my kid! He is a potty champ! Who knew?! He was 100% ready and has exceeded my highest expectations. I am seriously so proud of my little boy.

I would recommend the Potty Boot Camp, based on my one experience using it, even though I didn't stick completely to it. I used it as a guideline, and I think it was really helpful for Gunner. The book recommends feeding the kid lots of salty snacks and fluids throughout the day, and then taking them to the potty every 20 minutes. I did that, and he peed 20 times that day. 20 times! That's a lot of practice using the potty. He was a seasoned pro at it by the end of the day. He was also very very tired of using the potty by the end of the day, and if there's one negative about the program, it is that it can burn a kid out on peeing. Every time the potty timer went off in the evening, I'd say, "It's time to go potty!" And he would say, "No! I'm done peeing!"

The book then recommends continuing potty intervals over the next several days, starting at 30 minutes and working your way up to and hour or so. I could tell that Gunner couldn't have handled another intense day of timed peeing, so I decided to back off of him, and just take him every hour or so. He only had one big accident. And he successfully went #2 on the potty twice the second day! I think that's a huge success!

Also, the nighttime thing was sort of solved for us. We decided to put a diaper on him for overnights, and when we went to get him ready for bed, he said, "No. I wear underpants now." So we shrugged our shoulders, and nervously put him to bed in his underpants. He got up a couple times to pee in the middle of the night, and woke up (almost) dry. Last night, he went the whole night dry! I couldn't have been more proud of him this morning!

We ventured out to our first public place yesterday. I took him to the library for about a half hour. I took him to the bathroom before we left the house, and then I told him that the library also has a potty. We went in, picked out our books, checked them out, and then he ran down the hall shouting, "I have to use this potty!" So we did. I was so proud of him for self-initiating that one, and especially for telling me about it and having a public potty success.

So, he's doing great. And besides one small incident this morning in which he hid in his bedroom closet so that he could poop his pants (thankfully I caught him in time to get him to the bathroom with a stern reminder that "poop goes in the potty!!!!!"), I'd say that he's almost there.

I am under no delusion that our work is done. I'm sure that it has just started. But at least it has been a good start. I also think that it has been a good bonding experience for the two of us. I spent a lot of time just playing with him this week, besides working with him and praising him for all of his successes. I think it has been good for his confidence, and it has been good for me to put some trust in him, give him some responsibility, and see him accomplish some really big goals.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lord, Give Me Strength

I'm going to start potty training Gunner tomorrow. It's time. He's ready.

I'm not.

I'm pretty stinkin' terrified of this milestone. I'm scared of the messes, the constant checking, the accidents, going out in public afterwards. I don't know what to do about overnights. But I'm mostly scared of the fights.

Spiff reminds me not to let it become a fight. But I know my son. He's stubborn, and he's a fighter. And we haven't been getting along very well lately, and my patience is already worn thin. I'm praying that I will be upbeat, positive, and always patient with him as he learns this new trick.

I decided to go with the Potty Boot Camp Method. It's supposed to teach the kids how to use the potty in just a day or two, with lots and lots of follow-up maintenance, of course. I like the idea of a quick and dirty get-it-done method. I have heard a lot of success stories using this method. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm sure you're dying to know.

On the plus side, Gunner is super excited about his Cars, Incredibles and Thomas the Train underpants. I think they will be a great motivator. I'm also looking forward to all the new toys. It's like potty training and Christmas all wrapped up in one stressful, messy little package.

Now I'm off to prepare. I'm making a sticker chart, wrapping little presents, and getting lots of bribes easily accessible. Wish me luck.

***And for My information, what did you do with your kids over night? Diapers? Pull-ups? Cold turkey underpants?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reverse Sunset

This is our view from our front porch tonight. Not bad, huh?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

All The Water

We arrived at the beginning of June and were surprised to find the mountains still covered in snow. We had been told that it was a super snowy winter, but it was pretty amazing to see it for ourselves. Before Spiff started working, we drove up one of the canyons to do a hike with our kids which had been advertised online as "the most child-friendly hike in the area," around a little lake complete with boardwalk. When we got there, we found the trail completely covered in three feet of snow. Crazy!

I thought the trip up the canyon was still worthwhile, though, because of all the water. The creek that runs down the canyon is an all-out river. Check out these rapids!

Impressive, no? You wouldn't want to go swimming in that. I wish we had gotten a picture of some of the random waterfalls caused by the run-off. So beautiful!

Also, the boys and I also just returned from a camping trip new Yellowstone Park. I have never seen the area so green and so much water in the reservoirs and so many wildflowers. It looked like a different area of the country than the drought-condition campsites I grew up with. Truly so very very beautiful!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Take a Deep Breath

Okay, so Spiff Graduated. We moved. We can breathe a sigh of relief now that medical school is over. We made it through that huge hurdle! Go us! We also made it through the move, and we're mostly settled into our new little house.

And now we can take another deep breath as we go into this week and the year that follows. Spiff started his intern year today. We have to steel ourselves for a very difficult year, followed by another move, followed by residency.

Okay. Breathe. We can do this.

A few thoughts:
I miss familiarity. I miss knowing where things are, down to the items in the grocery store.
I miss my friends. Boy, do I ever miss my friends.
I miss my running partners. I'm running alone now.
I miss my oh-so-familiar running route.

I don't miss the humidity. Dry heat rocks! I love love love this climate!
I don't miss my ancient windows. I have been sleeping with an open window, just because I can.
I don't miss pushing a make-shift bathtub around our house (our apartment only had a shower stall). Having a bathtub in our house has never felt so novel.

I'm grateful to be in a place where I know people. I love having my sisters and nieces right down the road from me. I love spending time with my favorite cousin. I love it that some of our good medical school friends live a mile away from us. I am lucky to have such a good community of people during this transition year. It would be so lonely without them. I need to remind myself to take advantage of it and make the most of it every day of this year.

So, I'm going to take a deep breath, say a whole lot of prayers, and gear myself and my family up for a lot of hard work.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blubbering Mom

Tonight during storytime, Gunner said "Yellow" clear as day. I almost cried when I realized that it is no longer "Lellow."

He made up for it by mixing up the "p" in "pitch" for a "b." And he still can't say "truck," and he still loves to "crap" his hands.

I love his little lisp. The way he says "Yesth" when he answers a question. I love they way his speech is developing. Spiff and I laugh every day about they way he pronounces things. I love his "Nocaners" (binoculars), "Newdavard" (boulevard), "Ephalant" (elephant), "crose" (close), "Fopped" (dropped), "Wink" or "Vrink" (drink).

I'll admit that I wish away certain behaviors or behavioral phases. I wish I could skip right over potty training, the rest of his terrible twos, and pretty much every meal time. But when I looked at him the other day, swinging on a friend's rope swing in his little jeans and t-shirt, and he looked like such a big kid, and when I realize that he has his own little opinions and that he has the right to voice them, and that he has the right to a good explanation about what's going on because he's old enough to understand, I can't help but wish that he would just stop growing up. That he would just be my little guy forever.

And if I cry at "Yellow," what am I ever going to do on his first day of school?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mortification Moment.

Every parent has them. Those moments when you want to crawl under a rock because of something your dear sweet progeny has just perpetrated. Today in church, Gunner had just sucha moment. He is only two and half, so his speech isn't flawless. He still substitutes sounds in words. "Truck" for instance is prounounced with an 'F' instead of a 'T'. Similarly, c-l sounds are pronounced c-r. So, imagine my dismay when Gunner who was clapping in church, responded to my shushing him by yelling at the top of his voice "I love crapping, Daddy!"


Sunday, May 01, 2011

A strange symmetry

Medical schools typically begin their first year curriculum with gross anatomy. Whether or not there is any actual pedagogical value in this is uncertain, but it is nevertheless true. I think that mostly this is the case because gross anatomy serves not only to teach the geography of the human body, but also to accustom medical students to death. After dissecting, cutting, scraping, sawing, and otherwise exposing a cadaver for several months, we became very comfortable with the dead bodies donated to science by their former owners.

Oddly enough, my medical school experience has come full circle. I finished the year in the city medical examiner's office. Every body that was found under suspicious circumstances, with drug paraphenalia, signs of violence, under the age of 50, or unexpectedly came to our office. These were bodies donated unwittingly. An autopsy is not quite as invasive as a dissection performed by a medical neophyte. Typically, a Y-shaped incision is made from the clavicles, joining at the sternum, and proceeding to the umbilicus. The internal organs are removed, and the incision is sewn back up. The skull is also opened to remove the brain, but again, the wound is re-approximated and sewn shut. Oddly, the cranial vault is filled with rolled up newspaper so that the bone flap and skin can be sewn shut for improved cosmesis. I imagine in 500 years, when some archeologist is digging around our fair city, they'll stumble across these skeletons and will find traces of Doonesbury or the Classifieds still in the skull. Imagine the conclusions they'll draw. But I digress. The body, after an autopsy, is still mostly intact, whereas after a medical student dissection, it is anything but.

After 4 years of medical training, I am comfortable touching a dead body, or a live one. That having been said, I am apprehensive about my upcoming internship. Gone will be the protective cloak (both legal and figurative) of being a student. Now my orders will count and notes will matter. It's odd to think that with regards to my body of medical knowledge, nothing is going to change significantly in the next 4 weeks, yet after May 21, I can legally call myself Doctor.

Also, I want my head stuffed with the Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, and Pearls Before Swine. That oughtta keep those archeologists guessing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Because I know you've been wondering...

Here we are, waiting out our time before Spiff graduates from medical school and we move on to the next stage in our lives. Spiff is completely done with classes, and it's awesome/strange to have him home with us. He's not quite sure what to do with himself, and the rest of us are not quite sure what to do with him. We're trying to be creative about our activities and have a list of things to do before we move, including family outings and yummy places to eat. We tried a burger joint last night and enjoyed our bottomless mugs of house root beer and cream soda (or "juice" to a certain little person who came with us). So, besides the obvious planning for the move, going through and sorting our belongings, and beginning to pack, here's what we've been up to lately.

Spiff recently discovered a new app for his i-pod. It's a Touch Mouse that will control the cursor on the laptop. It's handy for controlling the volume on the computer when we're watching shows on Instant Netflix, thus fixing our lack of remote control problem and making it so that we don't have to walk all the way across the room to manually push "play next episode." It's also a handy little tool for messing with one's spouse as she is trying to write a long-overdue blog post. I have found myself wondering why the cursor isn't where I left it, how I could possibly have typed certain letters that are on the screen, and why the word I just typed isn't there anymore. It's really great entertainment for someone who doesn't need so study all that much at the moment.

We have a rental contract on a house! I scoured rental listings for about a month, stressed about it, dreamed about it and got super frustrated with the whole darn house-hunting thing. Then we happened upon the perfect house for us. Hopefully. We haven't seen it in person (although my sister did), but I'm in love with the pictures. I'm super excited about the finished basement and laundry room, and our very own, brand new (well, 15-years old and used) $100 washer and dryer. I'm just so relieved to have our living situation nailed down for the next year, and not having to worry about house hunting for a whole year. Great. We get to do this again next year. I can't wait.

Hobbes is three months old already. I can't believe it! Gunner's infancy seemed eternal. I swear it took him a year to reach each month milestone, and Hobbes's little life seems to be flying by. He's still a dream baby, and I can't believe how lucky I am to have such a mild-tempered baby who eats and sleeps well. He has started to smile and laugh at us, he's ticklish, he's interested in his new little toys I hung over his bouncer chair, and he can roll over to his side. Big stuff for a little guy! His eyes are still blue, and I'm secretly hoping they stay that way. I check them for signs of Hazelization every day.

Gunner is learning how to behave around his little brother. It has taken all three months for him to figure out how to be soft with the baby, but he is finally figuring it out, with lapses in concentration, of course. Two-and-a-half-year-old Gunner is hard. He's emotional, whiny, needy, and naughty. There have been times in the last couple months that I have wanted to quit and run away. But there have also been a lot of times that I'm totally blown away by all he has learned lately. I love listening to him sing to himself, and I'm always amazed when I hear him singing a song that we didn't teach him. I love nursery at church and his little mommy co-op preschool for that. I loved the other day when I figured out that he was playing a joke on me. His little sense of humor is blossoming. I love how he can't quite figure out how to use prepositions or pronouns. I love how inquisitive he is, even if we have to answer the reflexive question "Why" about a million times each day. He's a pretty neat little kid, even if he does make me want to pull my hair out multiple times a day.

One quick story to illustrate my point: On our drive to the restaurant last night, Spiff and I noticed just how observant Gunner is to noises and sounds around him. We were listening to some John McCutcheon children's song that Spiff grew up with (which are pretty darn good and something I would recommend to anyone with kids). The songs are filled with all different instruments in the accompaniment, and as we drove along, a new song would come up and Gunner would comment. Here was our conversation:

Gunner: "What was that? That larlarlarla (with his tongue)?"

We replied, "Oh, that instrument? That was the hammered dulcimer."

On the next song, G: What was that? The huh huh huh?

Us: That the Tuba

Next song, G: What was that? Bling bling bling?

Us: That was the Banjo

We realized that he is so very observant about everything around us. I can recall countless times when we have been sitting around our living room, and he asks about sounds, always with a "What was that?!" "Oh, Gunner, that was just the neighbors going down the stairs." "Oh, that's a lawnmower going outside." "That a bird singing." Seriously, so very observant.

Except with us. He has an uncanny ability to tune us out. He has gotten to where he hardly listens to a word either me or Spiff says. We know he hears us. He just chooses not to listen.

Like I said, he's so naughty and so awesome at the same time.

Oh, and by the way, Spiff is a genius. He taught Gunner how to take bites of food and wash them down with a drink of milk. It takes some coaxing still, but we have actually had some success getting Gunner to eat his meals (or at least a couple small designated bites). It is glorious! Thank you, Spiff!

That's probably enough rambling for now. We're going to go dye Easter Eggs. Gunner is ready for it, clad in only a diaper. Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Morgue III

Monday: 3 heroin overdoses. Most interesting tattoo to date: a lion-headed man having 'relations' with a monkey while a nude woman crawled around on all fours beneath them.

Tuesday: no cases. Gave a presentation on non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema in heroin OD.

***Warning: gratuitous physiology lecture ahead ***

Basically about 80-90% of the fatal OD's have this pink frothy fluid fill their lungs, sometimes to the degree that it comes out their nose and mouth. Why? The answer isn't fully known, despite this phenomenon being first described by Sir William Osler in 1880.

From a physiologic standpoint, there are several reasons that fluid can be in the lungs. It can come from 2 possible places, from the lungs themselves or from the outside world. If water is introduced through the airway, as in drowning or near drowning, then obviously the lungs can have fluid in them. Fluid can also come from within the lungs themselves. Blood flows through the lungs from pulmonary arteries, to capillaries, then to pulmonary veins. If the venous drainage is diminished, then the fluid backs up and leaks out of the capillaries because the hydrostatic pressure is increased, thus causing edema. This is analogous to kinking a hose, and water leaking out of the body of the hose. A situation which would cause this is failure of the left side of the heart, which normally receives its blood from the lungs. This would be an example of "cardiogenic" pulmonary edema, because it is caused ultimately by the heart. The inability of the left heart to pump causes fluid to back up and leak.

The foamy pulmonary edema seen in heroin overdose however, is non-cardiogenic i.e. does not originate from intrinsic problem with the heart. There are several schools of thought as to what causes it. First, a word as to non-cardiogenic causes of pulmonary edema. The pulmonary capillaries are where gas exchange takes place, where oxygen enters the blood and carbon dioxide leaves. By necessity, the membranes separating blood from air are thin, so that the gasses can move easily. If these membranes are damaged or rendered more permeable, then contents of blood can leak out. Blood is made up of primarily water, but also has proteins and of course red blood cells. If the holes in the pulmonary capillary membrane are small, then only water and protein leaks out. If the holes are bigger, then red blood cells themselves can leak out, tinging the fluid pink or even red, depending on how much blood extravasates (leaves the circulation).

What causes holes these holes then? Histamine is one postulated player in this little drama. Most people are familiar with the effects of histamine through allergies. With hay fever or seasonal allergies, the eyes and nose have clear discharge, and sneezing is commonly a symptom. The clear runny discharge is caused in part by histamine which makes the blood vessels in the nose dilate, causing congestion. The blood vessels are also rendered more permeable, so they leak fluid, contributing to the runny nose (not the only component of the nasal discharge however). This is why you take anti-histamines like Claritin or Zyrtec to alleviate hay fever symptoms. So, we see that histamine is able to make blood vessels more permeable and leaky. There is lots of histamine present in the lungs, so one thought is that histamine released in the lungs causes the pulmonary capillaries to be more leaky and causes fluid to leak from the blood vessels into the airway.

How does histamine relate to heroin though? Heroin is an opioid, which means that it is a synthetic derivative of morphine, which is the natural derivative of the Papaver Somniferum poppy, the source for opium. Opiates of all kinds can cause release of histamine in varying degrees. Morphine is especially known for this, histamine is responsible for the itchy sensation some people encounter when they receive morphine. Since heroin is diacetyl morphine (morphine with two synthetically added acetyl groups. I won't bore you with more organic chemistry). So, heroin, which is a synthetically modified morphine, can cause histamine release in the lungs, which increases permeability of the blood vessels, causing pulmonary edema.

(For the medical purists, I acknowledge that this is a simplification. The bulk of my readers are lay people married to medical students. For some reason, they are also afraid to post comments when I post.)

*** End of gratuitous physiology lecture ***

Wednesday: Car accident. Luxury sedan v. semi truck.

Thursday: No cases
Friday: Heroin OD, GI bleed secondary to duodenal ulcer, questionable pancreatic/ GI neoplasm.


48 months of studying, lectures, clinical responsibilities has come to an end. I now have 5 weeks before we move, and begin internship in June.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Funny Conversations

During lunch today I had the following dialogue with my 2 year old son:

G: Wassat daddy?
SS: That's the knife block.
G: Issa knife bock?
SS: yes.
G: Knife a sharp. Djanger. Knife for mommy and daddy, not little boys.
SS: that's right.
G: Djanger, sharp. A cutta me? I get hurt. Maybe die. Then I see Jesus and he hug me. Jesus love a me. I love Jesus.
SS: (unsure which part to respond to), uhh well, maybe. Knives are for mommies and daddies, and yes, Jesus loves you.
G: Give Hobbes a blessing? Give mommy a blessing?
SS: yes, in the past.
G: I love my noodles. More noodles please?

And with that we were off of toddler-level spirituality and back to the mundanities of life.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Morgue II

Monday: Floater. 3+weeks old. The body was green with decomposition, and the smell was unbelievable.
Obese lady OD'ed on Xanax.
GSW to head

Tuesday: Car accident, massive trauma.

Wed: Day in court, no cases.

Thursday: Self inflicted gunshot wound to heart.
Heroin OD

Sudden death secondary to cardiac arrest.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Morgue

I'm on a forensic pathology elective at the moment which is something I chose to do because I figured I'd never have the chance to do something like this again. Our charming city being what it is, there is never a shortage of cases in the medical examiner's office. This week's collection of cases was as follows:

Monday: Self inflicted gunshot wound to left chest with .40 caliber pistol.

Non-accidental trauma 2 years ago. Just died of complications, so this counts as murder/manslaughter even though the inciting event was 2 years ago.

Tuesday: Heroin overdose. Despite what the word on the street is, packing your friend's crotch with ice will not revive them from a heroin OD. Naloxone might, but ice-crotch will not.

Wednesday: Alprazolam OD (Xanax) in a massively obese patient. People don't wear as much clothing at home as you think they might.

Self inflicted GSW to the head. Split the mandible, maxilla, and exited through the top of the head.

Thursday: Schizophrenic with seizure, unknown cause.

Friday: no cases.

Since it's sunny this weekend, I expect that people will be outside shooting each other again.

It's been an interesting experience, but oh the smell can be so strong.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


So today was match day. I got my number one choice for residency, doing anesthesia at the Mayo clinic. Prior to my residency, I'll be doing a year long internship at a hospital in Salt Lake City. The match ceremony was quite a rollercoaster event. They randomized the envelopes containing our match assignments, and then called us up one at a time. I was about halfway through the group, got my envelope and headed back to the group of married students. I tore it open, unfolded it and read where I was headed. One of our good friends is also heading there too, so Sweete Wiff will have someone to be with, after our year in "zion". I'm a bit of a masochist, so I deliberately chose an intern year that I knew would be hard, but rigorous and prepare me well for residency. At least I will be able to go skiing on the few days that I have off. It's a huge blessing for us and the answer to many prayers that we wound up getting our first choice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Throwing him a bone

After fighting over dinner for the past three nights, Spiff brought a special treat home with him tonight. He got some fancy steak from a drug rep luncheon, and he was nice enough to eat the leftover chili he brought with him for lunch, and bring the good stuff home to his wife for dinner. It was delicious, and we decided not to share it with Gunner. I offered him Malt-o-meal and hot chocolate instead. You would have thought that Christmas had come early.

As he dove into his hot cereal, practically head first, he exclaimed, "I'm so happy!"

And then, "This is so yum," as he ate lemon pie for dessert.

Apparently that's how we have a happy dinner experience at our house.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winning Dinner

Gunner has always been a picky eater. I gave up a long time ago trying to get him to eat what we eat for dinner. As a baby, if he tried something he didn't like, he would spit it out all over me. I don't like getting spat on, so I gave up. He has been picky ever since.

I envy parents with children who eat. I have had an almost two-year struggle about feeding him. I decided not to make feeding him a fight. He won't eat what we eat, but he needs to eat so that he'll be happier. I have offered him foods that I knew he liked, including quesadillas, crackers and peanut butter, plain macaroni noodles, ramen noodles, and lots of pancakes. It is tiring to make dinner for Spiff and me, and then make something else for Gunner, but I have done it because it was the only way he would eat anything.

Recently, this has all changed. Gunner has recently decided to not even eat the alternative food we offer him. Dinner has become a fight over any food. He is not interested in sitting down to eat, and it is a fight to get him to sit and eat dinner with us, much less ingest anything. So, we decided that if he is not going to eat the alternate food, we are not going to offer them anymore. Like any normal and sane family, he will eat what we eat, or not at all.

I bet you can imagine how this new policy has gone off with him. It's not exactly a hit, to put it mildly.

Yesterday was pie day. I got up in the morning and made an apple pie (thank you, Mhana, for the apple peeler!) and a lemon meringue pie. Gunner helped me make the pies and we all drooled over them all day long. Then we had beef pot pie for dinner last night. Potatoes, carrots, beef, and biscuits on top. We told him that he had to eat one bite of potato, carrot and bread, and then he could get pie. Only one bite of each. We have really high expectations around here.

Gunner wouldn't touch it.

Even for pie.

And the fight that ensued lasted into the night because he was hungry and cranky. He went on numerous time outs, and he lashed out at us by hitting, kicking, spitting, and biting!!! Yes, biting! I still can't believe that one. He was so badly behaved that we sent him to bed without the usual calming routine. I can't speak for Spiff, but I sure felt defeated as he cried himself to sleep saying, "I want read books. I want sing songs!" It was so pathetic, and I felt so bad for sticking to our guns as I listened to him cry.

Let's skip ahead to dinner tonight. We had chili and cornbread muffins, which is a meal that he has actually eaten and enjoyed before. Tonight, he ate the cornbread and a little bit of cheese, but he wouldn't touch the chili. Even when we offered pie. Even when we lowered our expectations to ONE bite. Just one.

A fight ensued, which included several time outs. It went like this:

A two-minute time out on the naughty chair.
A chance to eat a choice of one bite of meat or one kidney bean. He chose not to, so we did...
A two-minute time out.
Another chance.
A two-minute time out.
Another chance.
A two-minute time out.
One last chance.

And guess what?! He ate a kidney bean. He chose the bean and proceeded to take teeny tiny bites of it, alternately with a drink of milk to wash it down. We rewarded him with a slice of lemon pie. I know that it's an unbalanced work/reward effort, but...

I win!

With one kidney bean.

I can't believe that I feel so proud of this accomplishment, but I do. I'm super happy to have won this power struggle tonight. Please wish us luck with dinner tomorrow.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Transition

Hobbes is a good baby. He's the kind of baby who makes you want to have more babies. Even in the middle of this adjustment period when I'm not sleeping more than four hours at a time, Hobbes is such a sweet, cuddly, content little guy that I find myself thinking I could have ten more just like him! (I exaggerate. There is no one on this green earth who should believe me when I say that I would like to have that many children.) But seriously, he sleeps well, he eats well, and now that he smiles at us, I find myself doing almost anything I can to get him to smile at me. It's so stinkin' cute and addictive, I just have to have more!

This adjustment to two kids is hard. On one hand, I think that the baby thing is way easier on me than it was the first time. Other than being terribly sleep-deprived, I don't find Hobbes to be that difficult to take care of. Two years ago, when it was baby Gunner, I swear he was so demanding that I couldn't find time to eat or dress myself.

On the other hand, there is toddler Gunner. This transition is hard. He LOVES his baby brother...terrifyingly so. He can't seem to leave the little guy alone. He is constantly and energetically giving him wet, sloppy kisses on his head, "helping the baby" by shoving a binkie in his mouth, giving him blankets and toys, or (my favorite) trying to pick him up and carry him. It seems that no amount of teaching, at this point, can get him to understand that some of these behaviors are actually dangerous and are better left to his parents. Gunner is also acting out for attention. Combine that with a raging case of terrible-two naughtiness and the fact that I have less patience than normal due to chronic sleep-deprivation, and we get the sad result that Gunner and I don't get along that well sometimes.

One time when Gunner was being particularly difficult, I mentioned to him that he was driving me crazy. Then later in the day, he did something that made me sigh in exasperation. He looked up at me and said, "You crazy, Mom?"

I just laughed and said, "Yes. Yes, I am."

It's sort of amazing how kids have the ability to see situations so clearly sometimes. He has given me a tool to check myself and turn the situation around when I get frustrated with him. When I feel sad about something, Gunner is the first person to look at me and ask, "You happy, Momma?" And when I lose my cool with him, he is the first person to forgive me. I am so lucky that this little person, this little child of God, continues to love me, even when I don't feel like I deserve it. It's also very humbling to realize that I mean so much to him that he continues to want and need me, even when we aren't getting along.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rank List

Spiff and I finalized the ol' rank list yesterday, submitted it to the authorities, and decided not to tweak it or worry about it anymore. Not a moment too soon, either, since it is due by tonight. Here are the top six:
1. Mayo in Rochester, MN
2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
3. Dartmouth, Hanover, NH
4. Wash U, St. Louis
5. University of Utah
6. University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

There are several more programs on the list, but we're hoping for at least somewhere in the top six. There are also transition year programs ranked, and it is very possible that we will be in one city for a year and another city for the remaining three years of anesthesia. There has been a lot of thought and prayer that went into ranking these programs, and we're trusting the Lord that we will be where our family needs to be for the next four years. Three weeks until Match Day sounds like a long wait.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Emergency Medicine

I have just finished a rotation in the emergency departement. As a child I never went to the emergency room, due in part to the fact that I never broke any bones or had any major accidents, but also because in my mind the emergency room was for people in extremis, those having heart attacks, strokes, car wrecks, etc.. St Louisans do not, however, harbor any such notions regarding emergency care. Here are some vignettes to illustrate the abuse and waste found in the medical system.

44 year old african american male presenting to the ED complaining of chest pain. Upon further questioning he actually has heartburn. He asks for Maalox. When asked why he came to the ER instead of buying a $4 bottle of Maalox at Walgreen's, he replies "the ER is cheaper".

21 year old African American female who was in the ED 2 days ago for heavy vaginal bleeding. She was given a script for medroxyprogesterone and an appointment today with an OB. When asked why she came to the ER instead of the OB, she said "I'm still bleeding, they told me to come to the ER". When the OB is queried, she replied "that's ridiculous, she can come to clinic, we never told her that". I love being lied to.

59 yo caucasian female with history of coronary artery dz, diabetes, hypertension, and depression comes in with "high blood sugar". Apparently she ate a bag of cookies, checked her glucose which was 486 (pretty high, but not astronomically so). Took 5 units of insulin, didn't re-check her sugar, and then called EMS. Came to the ED. Sugar in ED: 187. Patient unable to understand instructions regarding sliding scale insulin, and discharged home. This patient visits the ER weekly.

34 year old lady with heartburn, came to hospital via EMS.
Multiple drunk folks admitted to ED to sleep off their booze.

21 year old with severe asthma who snorted cocaine. Cardiac arrest, died.
45 year old cardiac arrest after doing cocaine. Died. (well, technically came to ER dead, we just coded her for a while. Same with the cocaine-asthma guy).

24 year old with history of 22 (!) intubations in past 2 (!) years for asthma exacerbations. Comes in after smoking (!!!!!) a cigarette and now wheezing like an accordian. Statistically speaking, this person will die within another 2 years from asthma. The only people in our day who die of asthma are those who insist on smoking.

21 who is "constipated" and hasn't moved her bowels in 1 day. Explained normal bowel movements to an adult.

33 year old man with heartburn. Describes classic timing after meals, positional nature, sour taste in mouth, relief with antacids. Not exacerbated by activity, no history of coronary disease or angina, no hyperlipidemia. Yup, another dude with GERD coming to the ER.

21 year old male whose girlfriend told him she had chlamydia, so he wanted antibiotics. When asked why he didn't go to any one of the numerous free clinics in town, he replied that it was cheaper and more convenient to come to the ER. This was after a 9 hour wait in the waiting room.

44 year old who was bumped in the knee by a motorized wheelchair who was upset when I ran out of his room when the cocaine-cardiac arrest lady coded. Sir, your utterly non-emergent mild knee pain is going to have to wait while we try to resuscitate this woman.

UTI count: 7.
Pyelonephritis: 2
Viral upper respiratory illnesses (colds): 5. Folks, the sniffles ain't emergent. No fever, no chills, no vomiting, no diarrhea,no abdominal pain, no chest pain, no shortness of breath = NO COME TO THE ER! See, a cold is a virus, so berating me for antibiotics is not going to work.

I'll post more stories of waste and abuse later when I can recall them all. Some of these are obviously not abuse of the system, but rather failings of the system as a whole. Why the diabetic lady who probably has an IQ of about 70 is giving herself insulin is beyond me.