Archive | October, 2014

a ladybug and a donkey

31 Oct

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Thanks Anna (the current kindergartener) and Rowan for the killer cute costumes.  We had a great time, and Ari nearly devoured the wrapper of a fun-sized M&M packet.

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And because Evie hasn’t had nearly as many birthday suit photos as her older sister

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Happy Halloween, from our critter and creepy crawler to yours!

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25 Oct

Later this morning, the girls and I will pack up and begin the move back to Philly.  John had to return back for work on Tuesday, and our close and incredibly generous friends Megan and Nathan have been kind enough to stay with me to help out with the home fries.  The last four weeks have been out-of-our-minds exciting, incredibly fulfilling, at times very anxiety-producing, and utterly chock-full of good things.

So now I’m sitting at the kitchen table, sipping my malbec, greedily eating a mug of cornflakes with almond milk with a side of bell pepper and hummus (because these are the things left in the refrigerator), looking through pictures of the last weekend to avoid packing (my least favorite thing)…

We started our Saturday with a trip to Louisa to visit one of our favorite families.  Now when Ari demands “Row-Row,” I have to ask her to specify, You mean, like the song or the friend?  (As in, Rowan.)

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We then headed up to Falls Church for the wedding celebration of two awesomely sarcastic and kind friends.oct 18 14 2 oct 18 14 3

Our table was the best!  Not only was it composed entirely of folks who joined us for our own wedding celebration (plus 2 more recently acquired very significant others), but it was the only table literally on the dance floor.  No escape, baby, no escape.

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By 10pm, the cake had been cut, and the coffee with whipped cream and chocolate hazelnut shavings (best reception idea ever) had been served, and we got the text that Evie was not sleeping.  Probably the best thing for us to leave early, as breastfeeding in the middle of the night after staying out too late is my second least favorite thing to packing.oct 18 14 9

The next day, we stopped by the vineyard where we were married on our way back “home”:

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Then Octoberfest at Fry’s Spring and a Thai dinner with Italian friends.  I’m ready to be at our real home, with my husband and proper sleeping arrangements for all dependents, but I will miss this past month!

two!!

17 Oct

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I’m pretty sure she still sometimes equates “two” as simply “more than one,” or “that which I can hold in both my hands.”  She frequently uses this understanding as an effective bargaining tool: “Would Ari like a piece of chocolate?”  “Two please!”

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Last night we were wrestling/cuddling on our bed, and I marveled at how long and childlike Aurelia’s become.  What happened?  When did you turn into such a little girl, embracing your role as big sister and protector?

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When did you become so curious and excited by your surroundings?

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When did you start to learn what it means to be a friend, and all the sticky concepts (like sharing) that come with it?

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Happy second birthday, Ari!  We love you so tenderly and fiercely, as is true to your toddler spirit.  We are so fortunate and proud to have you as a daughter!

 

 

first interview

16 Oct

Long exhale…

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I am: Competent.  Capable.  Prepared to work hard to become an excellent pediatrician.

I had my first interviews today.  I was nervous and happy, and I hardly slept last night (nerves + that dreaded four-, now five-month sleep regression), but I think they went okay.  I’m trying to settle in to the fact that I’m not going to know anything for over five months, but something (hopefully a job) will likely work out.

With our babysitter still available, I was able to take a quick nap this afternoon, and the fog lifted.  We took a family walk–our home in Charlottesville is a stone’s throw away from a busy three-way stop where buses often pass, so it’s basically Ari’s own personal heaven.  Then we were lucky enough to share some wine and toblerone with Anne and her family on her birthday!

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Sweet friendship:

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so many feelings

12 Oct

Oooph.  This week has been a professional emotional roller coaster.

For those of you who know me personally or have been following this blog for a time, you know that I lean a bit toward the neurotic.  For example, some physicians were speaking near me about how this year there are more med students applying in pediatrics than there are positions.  As I looked visibly concerned, they reassured me.  I, in turn, rationalized that a little worry is what often keeps me out of trouble.

When applying to residency, I was careful.  I asked for letters of recommendation and started my application months before I could submit it.  I had my husband, mentors, friends, and colleagues read and critique my personal statement and my CV.  I scrutinized over the wording to the one-sentence answers of some very basic questions, some of which resulted in multiple emails between me, the registrar, and the director of student affairs.  And, when I submitted my application using a somewhat confusing and not always user friendly online system (which crashed the day we were allowed to submit our applications), I triple, quadruple checked that all my ducks were in a row, that my application had, indeed, been submitted, that every document was uploaded properly.

But I had this nagging feeling.  Though I had been offered some interviews, looking at the status of my application last week, something seemed off.  Finally I noticed a big problem: a very important document had not been assigned to the programs to which I had applied.  So, I had applied to programs, but the application programs had received from me was incomplete for over three weeks.  I still don’t know what happened.  Was this my error or that of the system?  My tendency to worry, to be a little neurotic, generally keeps me from making this kind of careless error.

I was tearful, disintegrating into an insecure mop in front of several residents (and possibly an attending) who were with me in the workroom as I discovered this error.  I feared that, seeing that my application was incomplete, residency programs would simply pass over my application.  I corrected the mistake, texted a few choice friends who generally give good advice on life, spoke with my mentors, and contacted the programs to let them know of the glitch and that my application was now complete.  My spirits were raised somewhat when I received an interview approximately 30 minutes later.

And then Step 2 scheduling happened…

There is a practical component to Step 2 of the boards (it’s called Step 2 Clinical Skills, or Step 2 CS), where a med student experiences 12 encounters with standardized patients that test the ability to perform a history and physical exam, medical decision making, and interpersonal skills.  It’s only offered in five cities, it is incredibly expensive, it takes forever to grade, and it has a high pass rate.  Penn offers its own version of this exam, also with 12 patient encounters taking up the same amount to time, but with a higher fail rate.  I passed this Penn rendition in April of this year, so I have not been stressing about Step 2 CS.  Many of my friends took it in the spring of their fourth year, and a lot programs only require that you complete the exam prior to graduation.

I had some trouble finding a window to take the exam and, as I was trying to cram as much as possible into the fall semester, I opted for a January test date.  Not 24 hours after I realized my application gaffe (in the middle of the night, actually, while feeding Evie), I discovered what I also should have noted months ago during my research into programs: that one of my programs requires the results of Step 2 CS long before I’ll be notified of my results.  (You can imagine the behavior that ensued at, oh, 4am.  My husband is a saint, I tell you!)

So now John and I have this crazy email alert system set up, ready to pounce on the next available test, in case someone bails last minute.  (Hey, if you feel like giving up a test date, will you let me know?  I bake!)  I might just fly to L.A. or Houston (two of the random cities other than Philly where the test is offered) on a moment’s notice if need be.

On the plus side, my lucky suit (my only suit), which did not fit so well around my birthing hips when we left for Charlottesville, miraculously fits again now.  And not a moment too soon; my first interview is this Wednesday!  The bad news is that I have one day to get it cleaned and a hem fixed.  I frantically whizzed to the mall during nap time today to buy pumps and hose, and am now starting to feel a bit more prepared.  (Pumps: still not a comfortable shoe.)

And then there’s this, sent by my love to cheer me up, in response to the question, “What would you like to tell mommy”:

the best possible day

11 Oct

When I entered medical school, I thought I wanted to go into geriatrics, in large part because of the profound impact my experience volunteering at a hospice group had (has) on me.  My youngest daughter will always allow me to think fondly the first hospice patient I cared f0r.  Her name was Evelyn, and she was a force of nature.

Though the idea of facilitating what might be end-of-life care for pediatric patients shakes my core, I’ve often wondered whether I might still one day work in palliative care.   This recent piece by Atul Gawande in the Times has been on my mind:

Medicine has forgotten how vital such matters are to people as they approach life’s end. People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, connect with loved ones, and to make some last contributions to the world. These moments are among life’s most important, for both the dying and those left behind. And the way we in medicine deny people these moments, out of obtuseness and neglect, should be cause for our unending shame.

Peg, however, got to fulfill her final role. She lived six weeks after going on hospice. Hunter had lessons for four of those weeks, and two final concerts were played. One featured Peg’s current students, all younger children; the other, her former students from around the country. Gathered in her living room, they played Brahms, Chopin and Beethoven for their adored teacher. A week later, she fell into delirium and, a short time after that, died peacefully in her bed.

John just ordered Gawande’s new book, Being Mortal, and I am looking forward to when I might find a time to delve in.

On a similar note, if you haven’t read and watched the story of Brittany Maynard, I have no words: