Friday, January 30, 2009

The Next 2 Years

I have been a nervous wreck since 7pm last night. I checked my email every 5 minutes, hoping Big Daddy would tell me the lottery results were posted. No such luck.

I gave up at 10:30 and went to bed. Big Daddy came to bed around 3, and I made him get up and check again before letting him under the covers. Nothing yet. I tossed and turned all night.

We checked at 8:30 am and again at 10:30.

At 1pm today Big Daddy called to say the results were up.

Drumroll, please............


Starting in June of '09,
we will be in Mt. Clemens, Michigan for 2 years.

It looks cute, no?


Michigan?
Yes, Michigan.

We were set on Des Moines for quite a while, but 4 or 5 days before the lottery opened up, both Big Daddy and I started talking about other options. We did some research, looked at different programs, and came to the conclusion that DSM might not be the best place for us in the long run.
Yes, we will be leaving behind some wonderful friends, great schools, a friendly ward family, a cozy apartment, and a generally comfortable life & routine.

But we couldn't take the chance of selling ourselves short on opportunity. The hospital there has a great rotation program, an ER residency program, and is close to a number of other hospitals with ER residency programs. It's located in a growing suburb of Detroit, but Mt. Clemens appears to still be a relatively small town. I've already picked out which school I want Big Sis to go to.

And if we absolutely hate it? It's only 2 years and then we can move on again.

At least we know now, and I can start making plans.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Am Watching You

One thing I love about blogger is that you can "follow" people. This means that when you log in & take a look at your Dashboard, you can immediately see who has posted recently, and click through to read all the latest and greatest from them.

I'm glad that I have found a number of new craft-y blogs to follow, as many of my friends have gone quiet.

Yes, I am looking at YOU.

Is it the cold weather that has frozen your fingers? Do you think you have nothing to blog about now that the excitement of Christmas is past?

Not so my friends, not so.

I WANT to hear you moan about the cold. Tell me about your day at work. Whisper in my ear if you've found a new restaurant or better yet, a new recipe to try. Have you been scrapbooking? Did you discover a new color of nailpolish? Hear a funny joke?

Share with me, please. Because my life is totally boring right now.

Ready, set, TYPE!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Little Background Information

When we were in process of applying to medical school, I often searched the Internet trying to find out information about the process, the details, the options, what happened when, etc. One of my intentions in starting this blog was to share the trials and tribulations of said process, and I have done a poor job of holding up my end of the bargain. So here's a little update:

It's now the end of January 2009, and we are 18 months into the process of going through medical school. (As always, I use 'we' because this is a group effort, folks). Big Daddy has started the 2nd semester of his 2nd year of DO school, and this is the downhill slope of his class time. I can't even tell you how much he is looking forward to getting away from lectures and into some hands-on patient interaction.

This is also the time when thoughts turn towards Boards. For us, "Boards" refers to the COMLEX, part 1. This is taken at the end of the 2nd year of a DO program, and you must pass the test in order to move on to clinical rotations at the beginning of your 3rd year. DMU states it has a 96% pass rate, while the national average is 90%. I am a little fuzzy on the details, but I believe COMLEX, part 1 covers information gleaned from the first 2 years of class time plus a plethora of other medical knowledge. It's a big, bad, super stress-inducing test. And costs $600, so that's an extra sweet little cherry on the top of the testing sundae.

If you're a 2nd year DO student and you haven't started thinking about it, start now.

COMLEX, part 2 happens in school year 4 and requires that the student travel to Pennsylvania to take the test. Finally, there's a COMLEX, part 3, and that is taken in year 1 of residency. Once all tests are passed, state licensure is issued, and you are officially licensed to practice medicine. Amen.

Let's rewind for a moment, shall we?

Good. Stay with me now, it will all be worthwhile.

In addition to thinking about Boards, this is a time when we start thinking about clinical rotations. Rotations are the first chance to get into the field and get some real-life interaction with patients while shadowing health professionals in the field. In the 3rd year, you end up in a core hospital, and rotations are done in 4 week blocks, running through many of the basic fields of medicine: OB/Gyn, Family Practice, Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, etc. I think there are 6 or 8 in all. A very busy time. Now, although you are assigned a core hospital, that doesn't mean you'll be in that hospital the entire time. You may have to travel somewhere else (locally) to do your family practice rotation, etc. Just gotta keep you on your toes, you know.

And how are rotations chosen? Well, that's what I'm here to tell you about.

DMU utilizes a lottery system. The student is given a list of rotation sites that are spread throughout a number of states. For us, this included sites in IA, MN, MI, OH, MO, and WY. The first lottery determines your general area. Here you can choose from IA/ Midwest (includes MI and MN), OH, MO, or WY. You make a first, second, and third choice, and hope for the best.

FYI - throughout the process, the school states that 90%+ of students end up with their first choice of rotation sites.

The second lottery is the nail-biter. This is the grand decision which will determine where you go for the next 2 years, and will likely also heavily influence the type and location of your residency after graduation. Once you've determined your general area (for us it was Iowa/ Midwest), then you have to choose from the actual hospital locations.

Sidebar: About half the class wants to stay in the Des Moines area. If you are one of those who wants to be in Des Moines, this makes it much more competitive in the lottery process. Thus far, there are 17 students who were granted a special exemption to stay in Des Moines. I found this rather surprising, as from what Big Daddy told me about the exemption process, it was stated that exemptions would not be given for people pleading the case of a 'spouse with a job in the local area', 'home ownership', or 'children enrolled in local schools'. And yet 17 people were granted exemptions. Funny, and I don't mean ha ha. At first I was bitter about this, as I saw those people as cutting into our chances to stay in Des Moines (because of course it's all about us), but I have since made my peace with it.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.....

2nd round lottery: You finally choose from specific hospitals in the area where you landed from the first round. To my knowledge, beyond a name, city, and number of seats available, there is no information given about these programs. So we opened up our friendly neighborhood Internet browser and started poking around. We put together our list (top 4 choices), and hit submit yesterday evening. Results should post on Friday, and if it's anything like the first round, Big Daddy will be waking me up at 1am Friday morning to tell me where we will be for the next 2 years.

A little more about rotations: 3rd year runs as explained above. You go through your set course of rotations in various fields of medicine. Hopefully this steers you in one direction or another, and helps determine what kind of medicine you want to practice. 4th year is where the pressure is on once again. 4th year is when you do your interview rotations. Hopefully you've decided what kind of medicine you want to practice, and you've done some research about various residency programs that might be a good match for you. You then request to do an "interview rotation" at some or all of the sites where you think you'd like to do a residency. It gives you a chance to size up the staff & program & allows both of you (you and them) to see if you'd be a good fit there. While this is great - sort of like an extended job interview - it can also mean lots of time away from your home base and family. And coupled with the pressure of COMLEX, part 2 at the end of the year, it's sure to an induce an ulcer in someone (probably me).

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed our trip through the maze of medical school. Please exit the ride now, making sure to collect all your belongings on your way out.

(oh, and if I got something wrong, Big Daddy will let me know, so check back and see if I've made any revisions)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Etsy Mania

As a result of stumbling upon a number of design-y, craft-y blogs (many with more great links inside), in the last few days I have been spending an inordinate amount of time clicking and reading. And while I have found much to inspire me, I get VERY excited when I find things that combine some of my favorite elements:
  • Good quality

  • Handmade

  • Inexpensive

  • Accessible

My heart skipped a beat today when I found a link to the Persimmon & Pink store on etsy. Seriously, how cute would this be in my kids' room?? (btw, it's a print).

(sigh)

I heart etsy.

I Made a Wordle


Courtesy of Wordle. It is awesome.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Big Reveal



I am blown away by how clear these pictures are. And how easy it was to take them. I am also stoked that my 4GB card will hold 1,000 pictures at the highest resolution!

Good thing, as I many need all 1,000 to catch the perfect photo (due to my poor photography skills, not lack of subject).

If anyone can recommend a good book on digital photography, suggestions are appreciated.

PS - it's a Nikon D80. Way too much camera for me right now, but I'm hoping to grow into it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

IT IS HERE!

(clapping hands, squealing softly & doing a happy little dance)

My new purchase is here.

(more hand clapping)

I have saved my pennies for a year for this.

Do you have any idea how much self-control that took?

Can you guess what it is?

I'll give you a hint: I can't reveal more for at least 3 hours - that's how long it will take the battery to charge.

Stay tuned for the big reveal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Savings

Between Christmas last month, and many birthdays approaching, I have been doing much online shopping.

But I am cheap, and hate to pay for anything "extra" such as shipping. I know, if I order online, paying shipping is to be expected, but it just irks me when they tack on that extra $6 or $8 or even $10.

So I must share with you my latest find.

Before I make a purchase, I will google the phrase "(insert store name here) coupon".

9 out of 10 times, I end up at Retailmenot. This ingenious little site hosts online coupon codes sent by users or posted by the store website themselves.

Folks, because of this site I have saved on multiple occasions. I saved $15 in shipping on a birthday gift (yes, it's a big gift). On another purchase I found free shipping + $10 off. A third time I found shipping for 99 cents, saving me $6. The site even shows you how reliable a coupon code is supposed to be (based on whether or not users were successful in having it work for them).

If you are an online shopper like me, you have to check it out.

Pizza Dough Recipe

Note: the title is a little deceptive, as the recipe contains a mix of white & whole wheat flours. That's OK by me, as it still had a nice crunch from the whole wheat, while being easy on the tummy.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
Courtesy: Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water
2 packets ( ounce each) active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for kneading
2 cups whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

Directions
Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.

In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds; divide into two balls.

**At this point, I just rolled out one ball & froze the other. Top as you wish & bake at 350 degrees for about 18-22 minutes.

Set balls on a plate (they should not touch); freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Then freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.

Divide each ball of dough into 4 pieces. Using your hands, stretch each piece into a 5-inch disk (if dough becomes too elastic to work with, let it rest a few minutes). Freeze shells on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Stack frozen shells between layers of parchment paper. Freeze in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Bake from frozen.

Big Daddy's Birthday

Happy Birthday, Big Daddy!

Hope you enjoy your birthday dinner of lasagna, salad, bread, and chocolate cake with raspberry filling, chocolate cream cheese frosting & strawberry ice cream on the side. You are worth every second of this labor of love.

We love you so very much.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

I have tried 2, count 'em: 2, new recipes this week.

Both were so easy that I was left to shake my head at myself, and think "WHY did I wait so long to try that??".

The first was noodles. We received a pasta machine as a wedding gift, and while it has travelled with us from state to state and kitchen to kitchen, it has remained nestled in its box, napping peacefully, just waiting for the day when I would begin to think "homemade noodles: it's what's for dinner".



It's not that I have an aversion to either noodles or kitchen gadgetry. In fact, one glance at my soft delicious center, and you will clearly see that I am a lover of noodles and other carb-filled delights such as french bread and pancakes. Mmm..... pancakes.

Wait, what were we talking about?

Right, noodles. And kitchen gadgets. I love me some kitchen gadgets and take much pleasure in using a variety of kitchen tools. I own a microplaner, for pete's sake!

I always had the impression that noodles required some culinary secret I wasn't privy to. Not so, my friends. Inspired by the noodles my MIL made for our last dinner in Oregon, last week I finally worked up my courage and cracked open my kitchen bible: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. The recipe consisted of ingredients found in the most pedestrian of kitchens. Flour, eggs, a pinch of salt, a dash of water. Blend in a food processor, roll through the pasta machine and boil for 3 minutes. Delicious! Seriously, this is going into the regular dinner rotation.

Cooking Tip: If you want to make a large amount of noodles, or specifically spaghetti, use a laundry drying rack to dry the pasta.

My second culinary adventure was pizza. I know, pizza! Again, I've been skittish around yeast doughs, reading much about how temperamental they can be. I do not like failure, especially when it involves a valuable commodity such as food for my family.

I'd been mulling over trying pizza for a while, and once again Martha Stewart gave me the encouragement I needed. I recently subscribed to Everyday Food magazine ($12 for the year!), and always find something to try. January's edition featured a whole-wheat pizza dough, and it seemed easy enough that even I could pull it off.

An hour and a half after I started, I pulled a bubbly, cheesy, tangy pizza out of my oven. It was delicious! Tonight we took the easy way out and covered it in jarred tomato sauce, pre-shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives. My mind is spinning with possibilities. Artichokes! Roasted garlic! Fresh mozzarella! Roma tomatoes!

Scratch off our Friday night pizza from Papa John's. Mama Amy's Carb-Loving Kitchen is now open for business.

On that note, I think I'll be making another trip to the fridge to carve off a small slice of leftover pizza.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mock Away

I swear!

Any time I am having a bad day, all I have to do is visit Go Fug Yourself .

Yes, first you must overlook the obvious f-word reference in the title.

Then you must be open to the enjoyment of mild satire and mockery. I don't think they are truly mean spirited. They are equal opportunity mockers - no one person or group is a target. They also celebrate celebrity fashion done well!

Truly, the commentary never fails to brighten my day. And with tags such as "Oh Honey No", "Just...Wow", and "Accessories to the Crime", how can you go wrong?

The last few posts featuring JLo (or Jennifer Lopez or Jenny from the Block - whatever she calls herself this week) have been brilliant.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Perfect Imperfection

Whenever I get a few days off, I always get super-ambitious & make a to-do list with a few easy things (pay bills, make doctor's appointments), a few things which require a more marked effort (write & send thank you notes, clean out fridge), and a few things which require dedicated time and effort (plan Big Sis' party, make crib skirt, paint wooden letters). I crossed off all the easy things, most of the medium-difficult, and only one of the hard stuff.

I suppose I'm disappointing no one but myself, as the list really affects only me. I think I was so overwhelmed by planning Big Sis' party that the other stuff took a backseat (which in itself is not great, as I need the wooden letters & crib skirt to implement part of my birthday gift to her: a room makeover). Good news is that I think I have her party pretty well planned out. Bad news is that I only have 2 weeks to get my act together & finish the other things in order to pull off her full birthday experience.



I Know.

She's going to be 5.

Not 15.

5.

As she has no idea about the room makeover, whatever I do or don't do will still be a surprise to her. And she could really care less if I don't find the right party decorations or giveaway bags. As long as there is cake, tiaras, pink balloons, and a few friends, she will be pumped.

Every time I start to sweat the small stuff, I remind myself "No one cares about this but me. If I buy white sheets for her bed instead of the precise shade of pink I really want, it will still be adorable. And NO ONE but me knows the difference".

There is nothing wrong with having strong opinions. It's better to have an opinion than to say you don't care. Not caring is a cop out. But there's also a difference between being rigid and inflexible, and picking your battles (even if the battle is with yourself). When it really counts, I want it my way. But more and more frequently, I realize that I can relax a little and not get so worked up about the more minor details.

Case in point: Snack Day at pre-school. I simply don't have the time or the foresight to make organic fruit kebabs for eighteen 5 year olds. When it's our turn for snacks, they usually get Go-gurt or vanilla ice cream cups. Cheap, portable, single-serving, and kid approved. Done and done.

Does this make me a more imperfect parent? Or have I finally discovered the secret to keeping my sanity?

Cupcake Love

The new backdrop is in honor of:
  1. My ongoing obsession with cupcakes from The Cupcakery in Las Vegas.
  2. Big Daddy's upcoming birthday (there won't be cupcakes, just regular cake).
  3. Big Sis's upcoming birthday. There will be many cupcakes.
  4. This month's Martha Stewart Living magazine - featuring cupcakes.

What is your favorite kind of cupcake?

Friday, January 16, 2009

One Word

I wasn't tagged by name, but as I am bored out of my head, I thought I'd take the open invitation and be a little silly....

Question and Answer: Answer the following questions with ONE word answers and one word only!Then pass it on..

1. Where is your cell phone? counter
2. Where is your significant other? library
3. Your hair color? brown
4. Your mother? far
5. Your father? serious
6. Your favorite thing? family
7. Your dream last night? none
8. Your dream/goal? stayathome
9. The room you’re in? living
10. Your hobby? cooking
11. Your fear? losing
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? home
13. Where were you last night? bed
14. What you’re not? funny
15. One of your wish-list items? slippers
16. Where you grew up? OC
17. The last thing you did? bed
18. What are you wearing? sweatshirt
19. Your TV? Spongebob
20. Your pet? nope
21. Your computer? touchy
22. Your mood? even
23. Missing someone? family
24. Your car? Saturn
25. Something you’re not wearing? socks
26. Favorite store? Target
27. Your summer? awesome
28. Love someone? absolutely
29. Your favorite color? black
30. When is the last time you laughed? earlier
31. Last time you cried? Spring

Go ahead, tag yourself. You know you want to.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

10 Months


I can't believe another month has come and gone. I was just getting used to telling people you are 9 months old, and now you are 10 months old!

I bought your first birthday gift last week, and am already preparing for you to turn 1. Yes, I know, you won't be my little baby any more, soon you'll be my toddler. I need the next two months to come to grips with that.
You changed while I was gone last week. You can shake your head "no", and that is new to me. I love spending time with you, laughing together while you slap my face, jump in your exersaucer, or watch one of your trains scoot around the floor. Still no crawling yet, but I know you're just saving your energy. After all, it's winter - you have to conserve your strength for very important baby activities such as power napping, mashed potato eating, and hand clapping.
Over Christmas vacation I saw a picture of Big Daddy when he was 3. It was a clear glimpse of what you will soon look like, and my heart swelled and broke at the same time. I am so proud to be the mother of such a strong, healthy, happy boy. So proud to be YOUR mother. I love you, my sweet son.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vegas '09

Good Grief, I can hardly believe that I may actually be home for more than 3 days in a row. It feels like I've been gone for a month.

BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN.


I am so excited to sleep in my own bed tonight. I got home at 2am last night, and I wouldn't really say I slept at all. Big J woke us at 7 am, and although we brought him into bed while he drank his bottle, he wouldn't even look at me for the first half hour. I guess when you can't communicate fully, non-verbal cues are still just as effective in getting the message across.

Anyhoodle... here's a recap of my trip:

Monday: Caught my 7pm flight. Was upgraded to first class & reveled in the extra elbow room. Stayed at the same hotel we've booked for the last 3 years. I love this place. This is the ONLY hotel I would bring my family to we had to go to Vegas. Green Valley Ranch Resort




Tuesday: Work, work, work. Found bargain Kate Spade shoes which are not only cute & comfy, but perfectly match one of my favorite shirts. Totally meant to be. Wednesday: Work, work, work. Enjoyed dinner with Dad and J as they travelled through Vegas on the way to Tucson.

Thursday: Work, work, work. Met Richard Karn (Al Borland of Home Improvement fame). Fabulous dinner at Mesa Grill. Seriously - Bobby Flay, you have redeemed yourself after my mediocre experience at Bar Americain in November. Probably in the top 5 steaks I have eaten in my life. And this carnivore has eaten many a steak in her day......

Friday: Work, work, work. Was gifted a gorgeous box of chocolates from Japan.

Saturday: Work, work, work. Ate delectable sushi for the first time in 18 months. It's not that I don't like sushi. I just have a fear of sushi in the Midwest. It's like ordering salmon in Memphis. You can do it, but should you?

Sunday: Work, work, work. Show ended, but had to go back the next day to pack it all up & ship it back.

Monday: Work, work, work. Hauled boxes, shipped personal item back to boss who left it in his hotel room (am I a good employee or what??). Found super bargains at REI (who can resist an extra 50% off the sale price?).

I also tracked down The Cupcakery and had to indulge in my passion for cupcakes.



It was the cutest little shop, maybe 200 square feet, plus a kitchen in the back. It was pastel pink & chocolate, with cupcakes in a refrigerated case and under glass on cake plates. They also sell a few cupcake accessories (sparklers, candles, etc.) and retro aprons.

They had about 10-12 varieties available and a small tray of samples. There were a few other customers in there so I grabbed a sample while I waited. I didn't realize what I was in store for until I took my first bite. I had chosen the Boston Cream and when it passed my lips, I felt a little light-headed. Oh yes, it was THAT good. This is what I ended up bringing home:


Don't worry - these are mini cupcakes.

I don't know what all the flavors were but they were delightful. (I can identify Oh My Gosh Ganache and Strawberry Shortcake from the website).


They were all decorated very simply, with elegant, thick swirls of frosting, and a smattering of sprinkles, glitter (oh yes, glitter!), or flourishes of additional frosting.


This one tasted like a Strawberry Lemonade. Yes, that is edible glitter on top (so very Vegas). The cake was moist and dense - even after 10 hours of travel - and the frosting was thick, dense, and flavorful. There was no hint of butter or shortening in the frosting, and no bitter mouthfeel from too much sugar. They were delightful. They were sweet. They were perfect. The best cupcakes I've ever had. EVER. This was definitely the pinnacle of my trip. But it still doesn't make up for being away from my children for a week.

PS - Yes, it was sunny and 60 degrees the entire time I was there. As it was 5 degrees today, I'm beginning to get the whole "Snow bird" thing.

Back Once Again

I have missed you, my sweet blog. I didn't realize how co-dependent I had become until I went a week without blogging or checking (many) other blogs. I spent much of my time thinking about you, blog. How I can improve my writing, what to write about, what a release it is (a great place to vent my misguided frustration). Blog, I am so happy that you and I are one again.

Stay tuned for tales of my very boring Vegas trip. Right now, I am going to go watch my children breathe for a while. And maybe go put on a sweater because it is flippin' cold outside.