35

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35 random, in no particular order, thoughts – on the day I turn 35.

1. I’m 35 years young today. Woah. I loooooooved turning 30. I was so excited, I knew my 30s were going to be my best years yet. My husband threw me an unforgettable surprise party. And I’m happy about turning 35, but that big four-oh is looming and I’m halfway through my 30s. That is the only scary part.

2. I’m constantly torn between sharing too much, and too little, online. There are some things I want to keep private, there are others that I’m happy to share, but once you put it on the internet, it’s there forever. I’ve debated this when posting photos of Leo. While I know this is the direction of the future, I wonder if Leo should have a say. It’s an interesting argument.

3. Many times, I’ve wanted to write, to reflect, on either a moment at work, or an interesting interaction, or even an interesting case, but I’ve chosen to not write about work to protect my patients, as well as to potentially protect myself. But it makes me a little sad that I can’t write and share some of my thoughts that emerge after a shift in the Emergency Department. It’s a highly emotional, stressful job and I wish I could tell everyone more about it.

4. That being said, there are a few medical topics I feel passionate about and do not reflect directly on specific patient interactions. And I reserve the right to speak my mind on those (read: vaccination, right to abortion).

5. Please for the love of all things great, please vaccinate your children. Please.

6. Jimmy and Justin – can you get any more hilariously brilliant? Love these skits.

7. Have you tried this (the middle one)? OMG, life changing. I curse the day my sweet husband brought this home. Although good news is that it’s gone pretty fast and then I’m too lazy to go back to Trader Joe’s to buy more. And I had to make a rule that I’m following about 80% of the time: I can only eat it on days that I’ve actually worked out. Again, works about 80% of the time.

8. The backlash against the medical community is disheartening. I’m only in my 3rd year as an attending physician, but I feel it. It’s one of the reasons I am tuning out more on social media. It’s frustrating to see people turn to homeopathic, alternative medications and boast of them based on their own (one) personal experience. And then to bash physicians and nurses in the process. I support alternative medicine’s use in conjunction with traditional medicine and under the direction of a licensed physician. In our established medical community, there are double blind, placebo controlled trials on treatments, medications, diagnostics, etc. We don’t base our practice on anecdotes, or on the outcome of a handful of patients. That is called bias. We (most of us – there are bad eggs in every field) went into medicine with the best of intentions, and through our education, learned to trust the science. I wish more would trust us as well.

9. Hearing my child laugh is still the most incredible, happiness provoking sound in the universe.

10. On the eve of acquiring my child’s first passport, I’ve been reflecting on my own travels. I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the cultural experiences that have presented themselves to me. I’ve been around the world, and I’m eager to show my little one the amazing adventures one can have on this planet.

11. The instinct to protect your child is strong, innately so. It has brought out an anxiety and a different sort of fear in me, unlike the fear I have experienced in the past, but I’m trying my best to work through it.

12. There is (and always should be) time to stop and smell the roses. Life is too short, and more importantly perhaps, life is too beautiful to not do so.

13. This – who lives in Austin and can ship me some of this devine brew?!?! My picks: Black Metal Farmhouse Imperial Stout and Biere de Blanc du Bois. We went here in November on our trip with good friends and I’m still dreaming about this beer.

14. Speaking of Austin, have been craving some Texas brisket….bad. It’s worth the 2 hour wait (and there is evidently, always a wait).

15. Hoping I can raise my kiddo to be a well-behaved little man. And reading this for some inspiration.

16. Despite all the health and happiness in my world, we are all currently living during the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII. Four million people have fled Syria – 4 million!!! Thinking about Syria breaks my heart. Can you possibly imagine, having enough fear to leave your home, and then to muster enough courage to take only what you can carry, and venture out, sometimes by boat, sometimes by foot, into a foreign land in search of peace? In search of a place where your children can grow up without worrying about bombs severing their limbs, about beheadings, about rape. Syrians are in my heart. Please let them be in yours as well. Please be tolerant, be open minded, and welcome these humans into our world. And please be generous, if you are able.

17. Jury duty – they found me again! Arrrrgh… I have moved every 4 years for the last 12. And every time, I’ve received a summons within a few years. How? Why? I’ve actually never had to serve…yet.

18. My guilty pleasure: Top Chef, watching Arrested Development over and over and over – that brilliance never gets old!

19. One of my goals as I start the second half of my 30s – I’d like to get back to baking. I used to bake much more before the kiddo arrived, but it’s become difficult with little hands grabbing at the oven.

20. I’m starting to tune out more on social media. I think one of the main reasons I even still check my newsfeed is FOMO – an acronym I only recently just learned (I sound sooooo old). It can seem the more people are on social media, the less you sometimes speak directly, and thus missing out on the big move, the engagement, the babies. But I suppose, as cliched as it is, the people who truly want me to know about big life events will take the time to tell me in person. So this serves as an apology if I haven’t ‘liked” a recent post. I just haven’t been looking!

21. Over a foot of snow expected for this weekend?!?! Yes please! Bring it on. Leo needs to make a snowman.

22. I have been training (sort of) for a half-marathon in March – should be a fun adults only trip with the hubby, sister and brother in law. So excited to spend the weekend together!

23. Spending money on experiences, not things, makes total sense! And it’s a mantra I am trying to live by…as evidenced by the amount of money spent on air travel this year!

24. Along the same lines, how amazing would a year traveling be? A family gap year?!?! I want Leo to see the world and explore – this seems like such an incredible idea. Maybe I’ll get the guts to do something like this in the next 5 years. It’s officially on the 5 year dream plan.

25. The Red Truck Bakery is the cutest place – delicious granola. And I wouldn’t call myself a huge granola fan. I would, however, classify myself as pseudo-granola personality-wise. 🙂 Jake and I found this place on one of our weekend road trips with Bear.

26. Trying to find balance between my little boys. Obviously, Leo is my main man, but Bear was my first baby, and he’s totally neglected now. Makes me a little sad. I’m trying to show Bear the love as much as I can lately. Poor guy.

27. I’ve been spending some time looking through childhood photos – Leo looks like my brother in many photos, but there are a few where he is a dead ringer for me – makes me smile. My mom made me (and my sister) photos albums of our childhood photos – 5 of them in total – and it was literally the best Christmas present ever. Nostalgia is incredible.

28. Reflecting on my rockstar brother today. My birthday mate; I’m missing you and thinking about you today little bro. A wonderful soul taken too early.

29. Leo had his first episode of vomiting the other night. Poor baby. And poor mama; didn’t really know where to put him, so I kept holding him and next thing I realize I’m soaked in vomit. I have to admit thought, it was totally worth it for the snuggles that came afterwards.

30. I was reflecting on the brilliance of MLK the other day. I really loved browsing some of his quotes; he was just an incredible human being. One of my favorites: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” And another: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

31. The moon was so bright last night that it lit up my entire yard. I sat at my window for a moment and could see the dusting of pure white snow, and a sense of calm came over me. I felt grateful for that moment and grateful for my wonderful life.

32. Missing my family, wishing we lived closer. That is all.

33. To my child: Please go out into this wonderful world. Travel far and wide. Learn about different cultures and religions, about science and art, about history and above all, dream about the future. Without learning about the world around you, there is no way to make your place and shape your path in a meaningful way. And live by the words of Kurt Vonnegut: “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” 

34. To my husband: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S Thompson.

35. And to myself: “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” – Benjamin Franklin

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Return to Martha’s Vineyard

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We traveled to Martha’s Vineyard in August for a dear friend’s wedding and it was incredible to show Leo around one of our favorite places. Jake and I made many memorable trips to MV when we lived in Boston. I have vivid, wonderful memories of this place. Memories of the wind in my face riding on the ferry – with Bear in tow; of slight terror and amazement at the descent into the airport on the island in a small 10 seater plane; of the smell of the sea walking along the rocky aquinnah cliffs; of many special moments with friends we consider family. And of course, I can still taste and constantly crave the oysters – Wellfleet, Island Creek to name a few. Brilliantly briny, salty, delicious atlantic cape oysters. The best oysters, in my opinion, in the country. This trip in August, in fact, wasn’t the first wedding we have been to on the island! This magical place conjures up so many images of love and friendship in my mind. We had a glorious time getting to spend a few days with our best friends and watching two incredible souls unite. Keep the air salty, keep the waves rolling, keep the oysters fresh; Martha’s Vineyard, you will see us again.DSC_1518

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Multi-tasking

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I have an app on my phone that has reminders and a ‘to-do’ list. There are consistently at a minimum, 5 items on that list. I also receive a daily email that gives me an update on new posts from blogs that I follow. It usually contains links to somewhere between 8 and 10 new posts. It also suggests new blogs and other posts to follow based on the links that day. I am subscribed to 3 work related, and a handful of non-work related podcasts that come out with new material daily to weekly as well. I have 2 email address’s (that I check), 2 Instagram feeds, 1 Facebook account, and my own personal blog.

All of these ask for, and many of them demand, my attention.

No matter how I try, how productive I am, how long my son naps for, how late I stay up, these aforementioned items are difficult, near impossible, to accomplish on a regular basis. The excitement I feel when I have whittled down my ‘to-do’ list to a few items is disturbingly satisfying. But there always remains a few more items to do, a handful of blog posts to read, multiple new podcast episodes to digest, many, many emails to address, new Instagram feeds to enjoy, photos to upload to social media, updates on Facebook to make note of, and posts to create for my own space, here, that I love so dearly.

It was at some point in Leo’s first few months that I realized there was too much on my plate. I’m so glad I caught it early. Because sometimes, not multi-tasking is so much more important than getting everything done. Tuning in to the now. Savoring the day to day actions that are easily thought of as mundane, but which are the things that fill my heart with happiness. Throwing the frisbee in the backyard with my dog. Lying on the floor making my son giggle, making dinner with my husband. I have made a conscious effort to try to tune out, to slow down, to NOT multi-task over the past few months. It’s difficult, but I’m trying. I enjoy the little things so much more.

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Scents through the times

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Perfume is my thing. I love it. Some women buy shoes; some buy purses. I like to experiment with fragrance. I’ve heard that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. I find this so true. I can recall specific time periods in my life just by imaging and remembering the scent I was wearing at that time.

My earliest scent memory is the fruity, spunky perfume I wore in middle school and even into high school. It was called Tribe, and I’ve looked for it every time I go into a perfumery. I’d love to smell that scent again, to take me back to the days of soccer games under the lights, sitting by my pool in my family’s backyard, hanging out by the bonfire at my friend’s cabin. I haven’t ever been able to find it, and I’m sure they don’t make it anymore. But there have been a handful of times in the last decade when I’ve thought I’d caught a whiff of Tribe. And it instantly brought me back to those days.

In college, I moved on from Tribe, and started wearing scents you had to buy at perfumeries, or department stores; as opposed to the local drugstore which supplied me with my perfumes before this. My first fragrance I wore with regularity as a young adult was Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely. And maybe I became intrigued by the idea of the fragrance from my days watching Sex and the City, but once I tried it, I was hooked. Smelling Lovely triggers memories of exciting times in college – exploring Chapel Hill, girl talks with my best friends, and nights out downtown.

Medical school found me ready to try something new, and I moved on to my next scent, which I still use intermittently today. Stella has been my go-to for maybe 7 or eight years. It’s also the scent my husband associates most with me. When I wear it, he says I smell like ‘me’. I made it a point to wear this fragrance on my wedding day and it reminds me of my husband.

I wore Valentino’s Valentina for a year or so during my residency training. It was a mysterious, heavy scent that I enjoyed, but that was relatively short lasting. My honeymoon unearthed a new brand that would become my obsession for the past year: Sisley. I wore the Eau de Sisley 3, and it is a light, airy scent that takes me back to the beaches of St Barth and newlywed bliss.

I just ran out of my bottle of Sisley and was going to buy another when I was introduced by a friend to my newest favorite: Jo Malone’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt. It’s so delicious. I’m already halfway through my bottle. It’s a bit of a deeper, more seductive scent than I usually wear, but we’ve been inseparable. And because I’ve worn it the last few months, it reminds me of my baby Leo, and will always make me smile.

I get it.

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I’m a new momma. Or is is mama? I’ve been trying to figure that out ever since I became one. But apparently, it’s either. But I digress.

Since becoming one, I can now say with confidence: I get it. I completely, totally understand. Things that parents have been saying in books and articles and blog posts and conversations. Your child becomes your everything. Your child is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. Your child grows and changes every day. Your child’s first smile is what happiness grows from.

I’m overwhelmed with emotion. It seems nothing else matters besides this little family I’ve created. I could let everything else go, as long as my 3 boys are by my side. And it sounds so clichéd. Even writing it, I feel like I’ve heard people say this so many times before. I guess I always had figured it was true, it made sense and it seemed obvious; that having a child changes you and is the type of all consuming love one has never experienced before. But I had no idea how intense these emotions would feel. How my heart feels like it is bursting out of my chest when my little boy coos and smiles at me. I now know there was no way to comprehend these feelings until actually having my child.

So, I get it.

I want to show him the world. I want to protect him from evil and from sadness. I want him to experience all I’ve gotten to see, hear, eat, smell and taste. I want these things and so much more for him. And I want less for myself now. I get it.

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Ode to family

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The first month of Leo’s life has been full of joy, love, and amazement; but also rife with challenges. There have been successes, and there have been failures. A prelude to what parenting will likely be.

Having my mother and sister here has been a wonderful gift.

My mother arrived shortly after Leo was born. She promptly began cleaning – our floors, our bathrooms, our laundry – cooking, changing diapers. She even got up with me to keep me company during late night feeding sessions. She helped get us through a broken kitchen faucet, a broken refrigerator and a new momma with a fever to 103 for three days. All within Leo’s first 2 weeks of being home. Plumbers coming in and out of our house, breastfeeding with shaking chills, and sleep deprivation were a lot easier to handle with my own mother here. And as usual, she asked for nothing in return – albeit a few Coca-Colas and chocolate. Which we were happy to buy: in bulk.Grandma

When my sister came, thankfully there were no major new house disasters, and I was no longer sick. Jax arrived with the recent knowledge and experience of being a new mom. Her help around our house and her gentle reassurance were amazing. Taking a line right out of our mother’s book, she also cooked, cleaned and helped with 3am feeding sessions.

These ladies even gifted me a massage and Aunt Jacquie babysat Leo for an hour so this new momma could relax.

Dropping them off at the airport was difficult for me. I didn’t want to see either of them leave. But I also felt a little stronger, and a little more confident than before they had arrived. They both injected new life into me. My life, and Leo’s life, is so much richer for having these two strong women in it.

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Filling my days with…

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With maternity leave officially a week in, and no baby, I’ve been more productive than I can remember in a long time. I cannot sit still. I guess this is partially what they call “nesting?”

Things I have done in the last week:

1. Cooking and baking like a champion… So I’ve made this – very good, super easy, but extremely cheesy and rich – beware! And these – which appear in photos as if I’ve created some very fancy holiday candies – but really are the easiest thing I’ve made so far, and if you look, I seem to state that everything I’ve made recently is easy (at 39 weeks pregnant, I’m sticking to straightforward recipes lately).

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And OMG – these mushrooms – which are life changing. Jake wants them all the time now. So delicious and, you guessed it, super easy as well. Now yesterday I decided I needed to try to make rice pudding – which is a relatively newfound love for me. I can’t say I had ever tried/eaten rice pudding before maybe a year or so ago, because, let’s face it, the name itself is pretty unappealing. My brain conjures up an image of porridge – some mucky, sticky stew based desert that has a starchy grain as its main ingredient. But damn, I was missing out. I love me some rice pudding now. Especially the vanilla coconut one I made!!!! Thank you Molly Wizenberg of Orangette and Delancey fame! I got the recipe straight from her very entertaining book which I finished yesterday as well. Also from Ms Wizenberg’s book is a pork shoulder percolating in the fridge – to be slow roasted later today – it bathed overnight in a sweet-hot thyme/garlic infused rub. We will see how that turns out tonight.

And lastly, these cookies – which, in all fairness, I made like 2 weeks ago right before Thanksgiving, but I had to share because if you love pumpkin and soft cookies and chocolate (who doesn’t) then you must make these. They are the SOFTEST cookies I’ve ever made. I guess due to the oil rather than butter in the recipe. I’m learning things over here!

2. Cleaning… Oh my gosh, my house is spotless. I guess it’s good to start out that way before kids come and it’ll all go to hell.

3. Online shopping… In my defense, only for Christmas presents for others. Ok, so maybe a purchase or two for me, but mostly for others!!! Amazon Prime will be the death of me. How did I ever get by without this highly enabling, highly dangerous membership?!

4. Christmas decorating… The moment we told my parents we were house hunting last year, long before we even closed or moved in to our humble abode that I love so much, they had already started packing up all of my old things which were still taking up space in their basement. This included many things I had long since forgotten about (high school yearbooks, random souvenirs I bought abroad in college, old CDs), but also, it included the set of Christmas ornaments my grandmother has been giving me every year since I was born. I’ve amassed quite a collection in my 33 years. Along with the ornaments came a nativity set that I have vivid memories of incessantly re-arrainging in our old house in Bath, New York. I was (ok; am) a bit obsessive about organizing/arranging things. My parents used to have to punish me for changing my room around because they would come home to find my bed on the opposite wall; and I was an 80lbs, 12 year old girl. “You’ll give yourself a hernia,” they said. What a weirdo I was. So I was also obsessive about this nativity set. My brother (or sister, let’s face it, who knows) would move 1 of the pieces and the moment I noticed, I would have to move everything around again. So now that I’m the co-boss in this house, I can put anything wherever I like.

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 5. Labor inducing walks around the neighborhood… No further description necessary. Except that, it hasn’t worked yet. But I’ve gotten to capture some beautiful unfiltered/unedited sky colors on my iPhone. Labor inducing walks around the neighborhood

Ok, so I think it’s time for this baby to make an appearance before a) I gain 20lbs from all this food I’m making, b) I spend all of my money on more and more christmas presents, and c) my house becomes a gaudy christmas fiasco mess.

Dear baby F:

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37weeksWith 3 weeks to go (ideally, please don’t be too late…or too early…) there are a mix of emotions. There is excitement, fear, love, nervousness, anxiety, happiness.

This pregnancy has been pretty chill, my sweet pea. You kick, and roll around, and hiccup. A lot. But otherwise, you haven’t made me sick at all. I somehow got so very lucky to have none of the terrible morning sickness or pains that plagues women during pregnancy. Thankfully (and maybe because you know how important food is to me), I also had no food aversions. At all! In fact, I – and therefore, you – have eaten the same things as I did pre-pregnancy. The exact, same things. Just in slightly smaller amounts – which, was one of the perks of pregnancy that I did not expect. Because you literally take up all of my belly, there is not as much room in there for food. You are amazing baby! It’s like a secret pregnancy diet no one told me about.  So while I won’t have any fun cravings to tell you about, you can rest assured that you have been exposed to some amazing, fantastic food in utero that you will get to enjoy in a few years. Just wait until you taste what the world has to offer!

Another pregnancy perk unbeknownst to me before April of this year, is that people become so much more warm, loving, giving and helpful. Baby F, the bump you have created has caused quite a stir; strangers open doors, they offer to bring in my trash cans from the road, they let me in front of them in line at the grocery store on an insanely busy Sunday evening, they smile, they offer me their chairs. I have found the answer to world peace: give every woman a baby bump. It makes people so wonderful! At work, I’ve had patients stop mid-sentence when telling me about their excruciating pain, when they notice you in my belly, and they smile. You make so many people happy already, it is incredible.

Seeing your face in profile today, and your heart beating, and your little feet squished next to my left ovary today on our last ultrasound has made me burst with happiness. I don’t know if it’s this magic 37 week mark, the fact that you are full term now, the hormones, or if it’s the cooler, holiday season air that I love, but today, I just became so much more excited to meet you. Please emerge healthy, with good apgar scores and hopefully, with very little drama. I’m counting on you. I’ll do my part too.

See you soon little one.

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Filling my days with…

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Reading… The Dinner – psychological thriller – yes please! I was reading The Emperor of All Maladies – but needed a break with something lighthearted and fun. I’ll go back to Maladies eventually; it’s an interesting look at the history of cancer. But sometimes you just need some mindless fiction. Also starting to peruse Bringing Up Bebe and trying to understand if the French really do know how to do it. I want this kiddo to be a little adult – eating what we eat, behaving in public. Apparently, French kids do this already… Can’t say I knew that before, because let’s face it, you (I) don’t really pay attention to how people raise their kids before you have them yourself. I was never super interested in others parenting styles. At the least, Bebe seems to be an easy, funny, entertaining read so far. Much better than the dry “what to expect” and “your baby’s first year” type of books that are still sitting on our counter.  Do we really need to read these?! I feel like we will figure it out… Probably famous last words.

Feeling… This baby kick! What a crazy, surreal feeling. And seriously, how does something the size of an eggplant have that much strength?! To imagine it only getting bigger and stronger inside my belly is exciting and ominous at the same time. It always seems to want to move around when I want to close my eyes. Also feeling slightly more energetic. While I’ve managed to avoid the nausea, vomiting, and other GI ailments of pregnancy, the fatigue has intermittently hit me hard. It was mostly in the first trimester, but this past week was tough as well. How do pregnant women with children already at home do it?! I could not get off my couch and out of my bed last week…

Watching… The off beat, darkish new tv show You’re The Worst on FX. Have you seen it? It’s hilarious in a very wrong way. Also anxiously awaiting the return of Homeland – not until October – ahhhhhh.

Eating… Everything. Except alcohol and sushi and deli meat. Yes, still drinking (limited) caffeine and eating soft (pasteurized) cheese, and poached eggs. Did a bit of research with the help of some obgyn friends – turns out, there’s not a ton of data/medical literature backing all of these things up that you aren’t supposed to eat. So I’m doing everything in moderation. Otherwise, I haven’t had any weird cravings, and I seem to just eat the same way I was eating pre-preggers. I was really hoping I’d have a strange food fetish. Nope. I still want cheese, milk, pizza and chocolate gelato. Yeah, I’m super healthy… Although I have been forcing myself to eat more fruit – almost 1 serving daily! Massive improvement for me.

Celebrating…And Studying… 1 full year of being post-residency work. Can’t believe I’ve been an attending physician for over 365 days. I’m a little less terrified driving to work everyday, and feel a ton more secure in my practice. But there are still difficult days. And hopefully in a little more than a month, I’ll be fully board certified. One. More. Test. (It never ends)! Oral boards late September, then (as long as I pass) I’m done test-taking for 10 years!

Reminiscing… About our fun trip to Nashville a few months ago. I was going through old photos on my camera and came across these. I can’t believe I haven’t posted photos since before April! We explored the little shops of Leipers Fork. Went to the eclectic hangout that is Pinewood Social ~ a bar, restaurant and bowling alley – with amazing non-alcoholic drinks!!! Went for a hike – Nashville is beautiful! And of course, played with our doggies – they became best buds.  We also ate like royalty, had the best ramen of my life, and went on a brewery tour (obviously). Missing our Nashville friends terribly.

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