Thursday, January 29, 2009

Once There was a Snowman

I don't like winter.

It's cold, the boys and I are stuck inside, and we can't do a lot of our favorite things.

Despite all this, even I can't help occasionally getting in the mood for some snow fun.

We've gotten quite a bit of snow lately, mostly the powdery kind.

But yesterday there was a new fall of soft, squishy snow. And the temperature was a little bit warmer.

All of this, of course, adds up to the perfect snowman making conditions.

So after school, I bundled Roman and Blaise up and we went outside to make "the biggest snowman ever."

All bundled up and happy
With a smile that breaks through all the cold

Yep, perfect snowman snow.

We rolled the balls around until they were too heavy for us to move. Which also lead to the problem that I couldn't lift the snowball that was supposed to be the middle. So, being the clever mom I am, we made a snow ramp. (And woke up with sore shoulders. It was that heavy.)

Blaise helping Mom push the snowball for the bottom
and just being cute

Roman, pushing his snowball all by himself
(To show how "strong I am!")

Viola, the "biggest snowman ever!"

Roman with our masterpiece

And yes, it probably is the biggest one we've made.

And the happiest.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A New Project

Since I am now done with both school and residency interviews, I found myself with nothing very demanding on my schedule.

But if you know me, you know it was too good to last.

I just signed up to be a student research assistant for a project with my school's Department of Anesthesiology. Nothing exciting really, just chart reviews. But considering I somehow fanangled my way out of doing any research during medical school, I figured this was a good time to start.

It's nothing too demanding, just a few weeks worth of input. But an incredibly valuable experience.

Unfortunately, it comes with its requirements, such as IRB training. (IRB stands for "Investigation Review Board, which is a panel that makes sure the research people are doing about people is safe and humane, etc, etc.) The training up to this point has entailed of at least 6 hours of reading thrilling passages such as:

"If an IRB has been given the responsibility to consider HIPAA in research issues and if the research potentially falls under the purview of HIPAA, an IRB will be applying not only the 45 CFR 46 exemption categories but also determining if HIPAA applies."

If anyone knows what this means, please let me know.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Backward Glance 2008

This post really should have been done in December or the first week of January. But better late than never. And I feel that 2009 is still young.

2008 was a year of big changes, small adjustments, and high hopes.

Here's a glance at what 2008 held for us...

I switched specialties. I had been planning on becoming a pediatrician, but had a horrible experience, combined with a wake-up call, and decided to do anesthesiology. And have never regretted the switch.

Roman turned 6!

Blaise turned 2!

Keith decided he wanted to go to dental school. This was a huge change for us. Keith had graduated with a double major in math and physics in Spring of 2007. We thought he was done with school. But dental school meant prerequisites and that meant back to school. Big change (but I couldn't be happier! or prouder!)

Roman started first grade! A true elementary school student! I'm still not sure how he grew up so fast. He also went from kind of reading to reading full books.

We decided to enroll Roman in tennis lessons. Roman found a sport he loved and could do, and we found a new family activity.

The boys switched daycares, which was hard. We still miss their old one. Blaise adapted almost effortlessly, as he is so friendly and happy. Roman...Well, we're still working on it.

I graduated from medical school! So, officially, I can add two initials to my signature. M and D.

Keith and I, after celebrating our 7 year anniversary, took a trip, just the two of us, to Florida with a day in the Bahamas. We snorkeled on a coral reef, saw alligators in the wild, and spent a ridiculous amount of time on the beach. Loved it, sunburn and all.

We decided to try pets again, and killed half a dozen neon tetras before getting a goldfish named Rosy (because "she looks like a girl.") The fish has survived for 5 months and is huge.

I started this blog, and then another. And have become fanatic about them.

Many other things happened, including hiking, museums, other celebrations and births. Everyone grew a little bit and got a little bit older.

And, we hope, a little bit wiser.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spokane and Portland: Trip Recap #4

This will be the final trip recap. (And for the record, there are more than four. I just didn't start labeling them as such until January. But the trips can be found here: Trip 1, Trip 2, Trip 3, Trip 4a, Trip 4b, and Trip 5).

I have done 6 separate trips, stayed in 11 cities in 9 different states (not counting two overnight stays in airports!), and interviewed with 16 different programs.

I'm glad to be done.

This last trip took me to the Northwest.

My first stop was Spokane, WA. I have to admit I was just glad to get there. Spokane has been in the middle of an inversion and has had freezing temperatures and lots, lots of fog. I've had friends that warned me of grounded flights and long waits. So just making it in and out of Spokane without any problem was a relief.

Spokane was a surprise. It was bigger than I had anticipated. The area actually reminded me of the major city closest to where Keith grew up in Western Montana. (Which shouldn't really be surprising, considering how close they are.) The city definitely has a unique feel. One of being older, slower, but homey.

The fog was thick when I got there.

Church tower in the mist

Later, the temperatures dropped and the moisture in the fog froze to everything, creating some of the most beautiful winter scenes I have ever seen.

The frost covered everything in a thick layer

Magical, frosty winter scene
(Click on this picture to see how amazing the frost was!)

I then left the foggy, frosty scenes in Spokane to head to Portland, OR.

My grandmother lives in Portland, this wasn't as new as other trips. What was new was the beautiful clear weather that greeted me when I arrived. The sky was blue, and Mt. Hood stood sparkling in the distance.

Mt. Hood over Portland
(Courtesy of the Internet)

(Since I didn't get the chance to take my own pictures of Mt. Hood, Keith is still convinced that it isn't there, since we were there for a week and he never saw it. You know, rain.)

I stayed in the most fantastic hotel, Hotel Lucia. (I have to admit, I've been looking forward to this particular stay my entire interview trip. And it didn't disappoint.) I don't have any pictures, other than this one of a door knob that reminded me of doorknobs my grandmother had in her Reno home.

Beautiful, antique doorknob

It was a nice trip, but, WOW, it is nice to be done, and home.

Now the next adventure, deciding which of these trips was the winner, and where we would like to go for my training.

I will keep you updated on that later.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Staying In

I have had almost a whole week home, four days of which were spent at home with Roman and Blaise. It was shear delight.

Being home and having a lot of stuff to do, and the boys making messes and terrorizing each other, me, and the neighbors isn't always so fun. But being home, with nothing to do except be mom and boys is heavenly.

I was at the peak of my domestic self. I made cookies. I cooked nearly every meal, making cinnamon rolls completely from scratch. I also got down the crock pot (and admittedly, wiped the dust off of it) and made chili. Or, rather, something resembling chili, only because it contained meat and beans and a few other random things. But still...

I also was crafty. We made paper snowflakes (which is a long standing family tradition during the winter, going back as long as I can remember, even before I knew how to hold scissors.) I even tried to teach Blaise how to use the scissors (I know, what was I thinking?! Lucky for me, no damage done, he is still completely frustrated by the things.)

One of Roman's creations

One of my creations
(Yes I know, the windows are filthy,
but try to ignore, just like we do.)

Roman, standing proud with our snowy artwork

While Blaise took naps, we spent early afternoons in the sunshine at the kitchen table with "iron beads." I'm sure that this delightful craft has a real name, a trade name. But in our house, they are simply "iron beads."

Roman, intent on his iron beads
(I love this picture!)

"Iron beads:" a lot of fun
But you can see why I wait for
Blaise to take a nap before
we start in on this project

When you're done, you get pretty things like this

We went for walks in the chilly air and skated on frozen puddles. We went to the library, and discovered a treasure trove of Mo Willems books! We made chocolate chip cookies and ate them warm with milk.

Absolutely fantastic children's books!
And fantastic for parents with short(er) attention spans.

I spent an entire evening with Roman on a "mommy-son" date night. We ate pizza, popcorn, and lemonade while we watched "Tale of Despereaux" at the theater.

Wow, that's a cute mouse
(Despereaux: the hero)

The house didn't really get cleaned, no projects go finished, the laundry barely got done. But none of that really matters. Because I was home. And I wasn't there for the dirty floors, the laundry, the dishes, or the paperwork.

I was there for my boys.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Colorado: Trip Recap #3

I have to admit that I expected Denver to very similar to Salt Lake.

Salt Lake is associated with skiing, and Denver is too. They are about the same latitude.

My first thought when flying into Denver was "Wow, those mountains are really far away." The next thought was that if I looked east, I could see Kansas.

It was surprisingly warm when I flew in: 50 degrees.

Beautiful January day in Denver
(Again, I had a hotel room
with a fantastic view.)

Denver skyline at sunset

Then the next morning, there were 6 inches of snow (which all melted by the next day.)
(The weather channel had predicted 1/2 inch.) Apparently, that's typical Denver weather.

Next morning: snow!

Denver is a beautiful city (or big town, as one of my interviewers called it). They claim to have 300 days of sunshine a year. There is a lot of green space; there are tons of activities. There is also skiing, despite the fact it is three times as far to the ski resorts as it is in Salt Lake.

There was a stock show in town while I was there. In the airport, I got asked three times if I was there for the stock show, and I kept thinking, "Do I look like a girl that's into cows?" But then I found out that the stock show is a huge event in Denver, with rodeos, and such. But still, do I look like a girl that's into cows?

Oh, Denver wins the award for my favorite airport. (Before this trip, the prize went to Charlotte, NC.) But this airport wins hands-down. Fantastic!

Denver International Airport
(Photo courtesy of the internet)

I was surprised by how much I liked Denver. It has all the things you want from a city, but has the same livable feel that Salt Lake has. But then I guess that is the story of my travels.

Everywhere surprises me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Iowa: Trip Recap #2

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of winter.

I love a white Christmas as much as anyone. I don't mind sledding or making snow angels occasionally. But for the most part, winter means heavy coats, wet shoes, no more bike riding and tennis, and a whole lot of bad driving conditions.

I'm definitely a summer person.

It was precisely because of this aversion to cold that I had initially decided to give the Midwest a wide berth. I know winters can be cold and long here, but they are nothing to Midwest winters, with ice storms, and -30 degree wind chills, and all that. If we were leaving Utah for residency, it was going to be for some place warm, gosh darn it.

Which is why I was surprised to find myself interviewing at Iowa City, IO this last week. I was even more surprised to find that I liked it.

Don't get me wrong. It was cold. A friend of mine who lives out there now said, "You think you know what cold is out in Utah. Well, ya don't."

But the town was small, friendly, pretty, and safe. The small-town feel really appealed to me, as did the warm Midwestern people I met there. It wasn't the complete flatness that I had imagined (apparently, that's Kansas.) There were a lot of trees, rivers, and rolling, um, "hills."

I only saw it in the winter, but I heard that I can be beautiful in the summer.

Iowa City
(Courtesy of the internet)

And people kept telling me the cold could be worse. I could be in Minnesota.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Texas: Trip Recap #1

Yeah!! After being on the "road" (mostly runways, terminals, and hotel rooms) since January 5, and one short (less than 24 hours) jaunt back in good ol' SLC, I am home!!

Well, for a week.

I've been a lot of places, done a ton of interviews, and have gone from discouraged, to excited, to plain worn out.

I can't share all of my trip locales in one post. It would be photo and information over-load. So, I'm going to cover one state at a time.

Today, we will start with Texas.
I was in Texas for most of last week (four days.) My first time in Texas.

The first part of my trip was spent in San Antonio. It is blissfully warm there. After my interview, I decided that I wasn't going to fly all the way to San Antonio, TX and not see any sites. So I took an extremely expensive taxi ride to downtown.

First, obviously, to see was the Alamo. Very cool. I wandered through the grounds, read all the plaques, took a tour, and in general marveled. Not only is the history surrounding the area amazing, but it is a cultural icon. It stands for sacrifice and loyalty. For dying in what you believe.

Classic picture of the Alamo.
Beautiful building, fantastic architecture.
(No pictures of the amazing rooms inside, since photography is not allowed)

I loved all the old stone work.

Fantastic huge tree on the Alamo grounds.

Next, I strolled the entire length of the River Walk. Of all the luck. I was there the only week of the year that they drain the river walk for cleaning. Great. But still, all the buildings, bridges, restaurants were very beautiful. San Antonio is definitely a city that appealed to my artistic side.

The entire River Walk is full of beautiful vignettes like this.
It was all I could do to not take pictures off every tree,
piece of tile, bridge, and fountain.

View down the River Walk.
Lovely arched bridges and curving sidewalks.
(Fact: the River Walk was initially developed for
flood control for the city of San Antonio. A beautiful solution for a
practical problem.)

Designs in the paths

White stucco building with ivy covered bridge
(Like I said, very artistic area.
I took way too many pictures.)

After three days in San Antonio, I went for a day and a half to Dallas.
I didn't really get out and do anything in Dallas. But I did go to a fantastic Tex-Mex restaurant. And stayed in the most gorgeous hotel so far. Yeah.

Downtown Dallas skyline:
View from my hotel room
(Working on a better, panoramic image)

So, now that you have seen my trip, I have a couple of comments about Texas in general. I know that these are stereotypes, and there are nice people everywhere. But these were some general, biased, (and I'll admit, un-charitable) observations about Texans...

People from Texas are weird. So, a long time ago, Texas was it's own country. Seems like a lot of people (both in and out) think it still should be. Texans are bizarrely proud of being from Texas. Stars and flags on every building, house, street corner, and some places, shirt. Really, we know we're in Texas. I don't think we'll forget. You don't need to have Texas-shaped waffles at the hotel.

Symbol of Texas: side of building downtown San Antonio
It's everywhere!

And then, being from Utah, I've gotten to be quite the outdoorsy person. I love the mountains, the streams, the parks, etc. When I asked people what they did, the universal response. "Oh, we go out to eat!." Each city is very proud of their restaurants. There is some weird competition about which city has the best restaurants. And yes, they do have great restaurants, much better than the Wasatch Front. But, honestly, I need something else to do.

That's why you're one of the fattest states, Texas.

Anyways, if you are from Texas, I'm sorry. I'm sure you're very nice. But I don't think I'm going to be changing nationalities anytime soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I want everyone to know that I haven't forgotten about this blog, and those of you who read it.

It's just that things have been very busy. I've been traveling for the last week, and am heading out again tomorrow (um, I mean, later today) after being home for less than 24 hours.

I've slept in airports, been lost, gone from never using a taxi to countless rides in said expensive transportation option, met a lot of new people, and "been" a lot of new places (mostly the inside of hospitals.)

I'm overly tired, extremely home-and-family-sick, approaching my credit card limit, and ready to be done.

I know this will all be worth it.

But I can't wait for it to be done.

P.S. I have some great pictures to share when I finally have time for a real post.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Poem

I know that Christmas is over. But there is something related to it that I simply must post. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to beforehand, because of interviews and out of town visits. But enough excuses.

This is a poem written by my little sister Galilee, who is seven years old (soon to be eight!!).

Thanks, Galilee, for the beautiful imagery of Christmas, seen through eyes we all once saw through.


Christmas feels like cold as the
winter air.

Christmas looks like colorful

Christmas sounds like snow falling.

Christmas tastes like minty

Christmas smells like the cold fresh

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ring in the New

Welcome to 2009! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year's.

One of the family traditions we've had since I've been married (and because we currently live close enough to my parents that it is feasible) is a late Christmas with my family on the years we spend Christmas with Keith's family.

The best part of buying gifts for other people is watching their face when they open the gift. Since we don't want to miss that part, we save our presents for each other. Then we get together on New Years Day and have what amounts to another Christmas.

Everyone (especially a certain six-year-old)
could use more Christmas

I'm just so excited!

This year, we also decided to spend New Year's Eve with my parents. The evening was spent playing games with the small children. Then, as attention spans and patience waned, the children were put to bed.

Keith, Roman, my mom, and me spent the time until midnight playing Texas Hold'um and enjoying chocolate and family-friendly drinks.

New Year's Night Poker

Don't let his age fool you.
This kid doesn't fold. Ever.

Check or bet?

A child-friendly way to celebrate

At midnight, we toasted each other. Then we stood on my mom's back porch, which overlooks the valley, and watched the valley sparkle with fireworks.

The next morning, it was time for presents!!

When are we going to open presents?

(Oh, and
the wrapping paper was a big hit.)

It is wonderful to watch my little siblings and parents enjoy their gifts. Any tradition that extends the magic of Christmas has my vote.

Laurelei, my darling niece,
looking pleased with her gift

Gwendolyn opening presents

My mom and sister, Auralee

Even my dad can't resist

So, here's a toast to the magic of Christmas, childhood, and being together. Here's to the new year and the adventure that awaits my family in it. Here's to new plans, ambitions, and hopes. Happy New Year.