Apr 24, 2014

Ryan's First Easter

This past weekend was Easter Sunday and while it was definitely a lot of fun to have a baby to celebrate the holiday with, I also spent some time reflecting back on the past year and where my heart and my life were on Easter Sunday in 2013.

It is crazy and amazing to think about what has changed and where my life is heading now in 2014 as compared to this time in 2013.  All of the blessings in my life this past year are from God and I promise I haven't lost sight of that.  During the hardest times of life, it is easy to have a clouded mind and to think that it will never get better, but with the passing of time, comes perspective.  It is during the storms of life that we grow the most.  Boy have I grown.

Our family of three drove into Bakersfield for the weekend.  It is the last time that we will be there before we move out of our apartment in Redlands (which is only a mere 3 weeks away).  We enjoyed spending time with both of our families and were so excited that my sister Rachel got to fly in from Arizona, where she's almost done with year one of physician assistant school, to see us one last time before we move East to Massachusetts.  Speaking of MA, they have a high of 45 degrees this week.  Um, we are in the upper 80's here in Southern CA.  I may die.  Fair warning.

Anyway, back to Easter.  I had a lot of fun with my Mom doing a mini photo shoot of Ryan with the "Easter Bunny."

Mom Confession #1:  I didn't take Ryan to see the real Easter bunny.  I kind of forgot and then it was too late and I really didn't want to pay $22.99 for a picture of my kid screaming after I forced her to sit on the oversized, hairy, scary bunny from hell.   I mean come on. The child sleeps through the night.  Do I really want to mess that up with nightmares of freaky looking bunny monsters?  Nope.

I had a lot of fun on Easter Eve getting Ryan and Josh's baskets ready, even if I had to run out to Target for some last minute additions to the baskets.  Which for the record, don't go to Target at 9pm on Easter Eve thinking that it will be empty.  It was anything but.  In fact, you'd have thought Armageddon was coming the way people were running all over scrounging for last minute bags of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies.  Here's the finished product.

In Ryan's basket:  The Velveteen Rabbit, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Bunny PJ's, Jellycat Bunny, plastic eggs filled with puffs (her favorite of everything in her basket), and a "big girl" set of dishes.

Dad's "Man" basket

  On Easter, we enjoyed church, time with our families, good food, and just being together. 

Easter Sunday 2014
By the way, Ryan's Easter dress....I made it!  And I'm opening an Etsy shop here soon called The Dandelion Lane complete with baby dresses, quilts, and more.  I can't wait to try my hand at running a business. :)

Mom Confession #2: I have no idea how to run a business and be a mom at the same time. Really I'm not sure how to do either one by itself, BUT I bought a book called How to Make Money on Etsy and I have plenty of books on raising kids so I should be good to go right?!?!

Apr 17, 2014

Almond Orchard Family Pictures

Every year in Bakersfield between February and March, the almond orchards bloom and for the only time out of the year, Bakersfield gets "snow."  Which for the record, is fine by me, however I should probably come to terms with the stuff because I'm moving to Massachusetts in a month.  I am a lover of all things Bakersfield, things like Buck Owens, the Kern River, and warm weather are some of it's perks, but beautiful scenery doesn't really make the list.  However, when the almond orchards are in bloom, it's simply stunning.

I have ALWAYS wanted to take pictures out in the blooming orchards, but it just never seemed to time up right for things like engagement pictures, etc.  Plus, the orchards are quite the hot commodity for photographers in town and it can be hard to book a date to shoot in such a short time frame.  Josh was in NY for all of February, and the blooms came early this year due to Southern California's lack of winter so we almost missed them entirely.  By the time we got out there to shoot, most of the "snow" had fallen to the ground, but thanks to Misty Dameron Photography we were able to get some gorgeous family pictures that I will truly treasure forever.
Here are just some of my very favorites!

If you are in the Bakersfield area or even if you aren't and you are looking for a photographer, Misty is just amazing.  Great to work with, quick turn-around time, and an all around nice person. 

Apr 9, 2014

Ryan: 9 Months

Ryan Cathleen turned 9 months on April 3rd and like I say basically every single month, I just can't believe she's already a month older.  Every month, I look back at pictures and am so amazed at the little girl she is becoming.  She still wants Mom and Dad, but she also desperately wants some freedom too and it is so strange!

Ryan had her first real sickness at the end of the month which resulted in these lovely monthly photos, which were the best of the bunch by far.  Considering she had been running a fever upwards of 103 degrees, I guess you could say that these really weren't that bad.  It was a rough week for all of us, but we survived.

She had her 9 month appointment and her stats are as follows:

Weight: 20lbs 4oz/75%ile

Length: 27 and 3/4 inches/57%ile

Head Circ: 46 cm/93%ile   (apparently my child has a big head...must be for her big brain)

Her head has always been in the top percentiles, but she is actually slowly going down in percentile for both weight and length.  We assume the length is just genetic since both Josh and I are not considered tall by any means and the weight is likely due to all her crawling.

Ryan continues to army crawl like a boss.  She gets her tummy off the ground every once in a while or if there is something she needs to crawl over, but for the most part, she is content to leave her belly on the floor.  We figure at some point she will realize that she will get a lot less tummy burns and elbow burns from the carpet if she would just lift up her stomach.  However, she is plenty fast on her belly!  She has pretty much mastered the art of pulling herself up but has NOT figured out that once up she needs to HOLD ON to whatever it is in front of her.  It makes me nervous but I guess she will figure it out soon enough, hopefully with no major bumps or bruises along the way!

Our bug is still nursing 4-5 times in a 24hr period however it has gotten increasingly difficult during the day because she is distracted by everything and because she has decided that biting Mommy is funny.  I assure you it is not funny at all.  Hopefully this phase won't be lasting too long or else I may be done breastfeeding here real soon.  She also has 3 small meals a day of mostly fruit and veggies but we have added in some protein here and there too.  We have gotten to the point where we are getting more comfortable just giving her bits and pieces of our food without worrying too much about an allergic reaction or choking.  It's kind of fun to give her "real" food.  She is also learning to drink water from a sippy cup and thinks that it is a total treat when I bring it out.

"Boo Bear," nicknamed by Daddy, still sleeps pretty well at night most nights (sick week aside).  However, her new wake-up time has become earlier than 7am which I suppose is okay since I don't always have to get up at night.  But I was REALLY enjoying the 7:30-8am wake ups...oh well.  She still goes down easily at night around 7:15pm and it's only about once a week that we randomly struggle to get her down at night.  Her naps...oh her naps.  I wish for once I could say that my child was a great napper this month, however that just isn't the case.  She regularly naps 2-3 times a day for 30-45 minutes at a time.  Some naps are less (20 minutes) and on occasion she'll take a really great 1-2 hour nap but that is super rare.  On the days when her naps are all 30 minutes or less, it makes it really challenging to accomplish much at all.

Ry loves getting into cupboards and drawers and crawling into things and underneath things like tables and desks.  It cracks us up.  She also LOVES dogs and watching other kids play.  She's quite the people watcher and social butterfly.  Bath time is still one of her favorite parts of the day and usually Daddy is in charge of that.  Speaking of Daddy, he matched into a residency this month and we celebrated like there was no tomorrow!

That's about it.  Ryan continues to be our pride and joy every single day.  She couldn't make us happier if she tried.  We just love this girl to pieces.

Apr 6, 2014

International Medical Graduate. Would we do it again?

I've surprisingly received quite a bit of internet traffic on my blog this past week after my POST about Josh's trouble in the Match, in part due to the fact that he is an international graduate.  I believe the post sheds some light on some of the difficulties of being an IMG as well as the challenges and hurdles that every medical graduate must face along the road to becoming a doctor. There is and unfortunately will probably always be a stigma associated with being a foreign grad.  And so, it sparked the obvious question, given the choice, would we do this all over again?  Should anyone, especially a US citizen, consider matriculating in to an off shore medical school?

To be honest, I feel that this is such a personal decision that cannot be answered by any one person.  As with anything in life, there are pros and cons that must first be weighed to determine the best answer for you.  However, here is our experience.

Josh just didn't get offered an acceptance to a US medical school.  Whether that was due to an average undergraduate GPA, average MCAT scores, or something else entirely, he was never given the chance to go to medical school on American soil.  Perhaps he should have applied a second time.  Perhaps he should have retaken the MCAT again.  Maybe he would have been better off redoing undergraduate pre-reqs, but he was 24 years old, newly married, and ready to start down the long road to completing his dream of becoming an MD.  And St. George's University in Grenada, West Indies gave him the chance to do it.  It is extremely hard to pass up an offer to obtain your dream career when it is being handed to you, even when it is attached to a $200,000.00 price tag.

In hindsight, we were young and naive and we thought to ourselves, SGU is a US accredited program, he's a US citizen, and he will take the same exact boards, we should have no problems.  Well, SGU did what they promised us.  We paid them a lot of money and Josh and his class of over 500 students studied hard, passed classes, did two years of clinical rotations in American hospitals, passed boards, and applied to residency just like every other AMG student.  Obviously, from my last post, you can see that the residency part of becoming a doctor has been one of our biggest challenges, however, it did work out.  And it does work out the first time around for over 80% of SGU's graduates.  If you want to see just how SGU is matching their students each year, you can check out this SGU MATCH LIST 2014.  What you will see from this list is that most SGU grads match into primary care at non-University based programs (Internal Med, Family Med, Psych, Peds).  The point is that these graduates are making it to the MD, just maybe not the super specialized ones.

What we find most disturbing about the residency application process is that these students, especially ones trained at US accredited medical schools like SGU, Ross, and American University of the Caribbean, take the SAME EXACT boards, receive all of their clinical training at American hospitals and therefore receive letters of recommendation from US doctors, and yet still are considered second class choices for US residency positions because of the location of the medical school that they went to.  Are the USMLE's somehow a different test when IMG's sit for them?  Are the doctors at the hospital Josh rotated through training the SGU students in a different way than the medical students from Loma Linda University that rotate right alongside them?  The answer is absolutely not.  But, until more residency positions are opened across the US, or until the playing field is neutralized to take the strongest applicants regardless of the school they graduated from, this will likely remain the same and obviously, that is something to consider if you are contemplating attending an off-shore school.

With all that being said, our answer to the question, would we do this again?

In a heartbeat.

My husband is Joshua Scurlock, M.D.  And though those two little letters cost us a lot of money and a ton of blood, sweat, and tears along the way, he is now a doctor.  We are confident there really was never a choice of attending SGU vs. not becoming a doctor.  The United States is the land where you follow your dreams, even if that means following them outside of the US.