Sep 25, 2014

Autumn Day

Ryan and I leave for California bright and early tomorrow morning.  I've spent most of today trying to pack and get everything organized for our departure.  However, we had to get out of the house for a little bit so I took Ryan up to our apartment complex playground and tennis court to let her run around for a bit.  The weather is cool and crisp and so some fall attire was necessary today.  And, I took about a gazillion pictures of this kid while playing and I love like all of them so an entire post is being devoted to today's non-exciting activity.

Pointing at the birdies. 

Here's looking at you kid!

I am happy that I have pictures of her just playing.  I know someday in the not so distant future I'm going to look back and be glad I documented so much of her life through photos.  I just feel bad for my future children who I'm sure will never be so well photographed!

Sep 22, 2014

Hello Fall

It's really strange, this "seasons" thing.  I've lived in Southern California for the majority of my life where the only evidence of season change is a couple of weeks near the end of October where it starts to get a little chilly and a week or two of "Spring" blooms in March.  My life outlook on seasons?  It's cold in winter and hot in the summer.  Oh, and Starbucks whips out their pumpkin spice lattes during "fall." That's it.  Except for maybe when I lived in Grenada for a year and we just had a perpetual year long summer.

Massachusetts seasons are an entirely different story.  Fall, real Fall, is upon us.   All of the sudden last week, there is a chill in the air which requires cardigans and closed toed shoes, some of the leaves have started to turn a little bit yellow, and the hours of daylight are getting shorter.  And don't worry, the pumpkin spice lattes are here too. :) I keep hearing that Fall in New England is the best time of year and that the color that nature provides is truly jaw-dropping.

Most importantly, we can participate in apple picking, pumpkin picking, fall festivals and much more.  All while Ryan sports some seriously adorable fall attire.  Seriously, toddler sized peacoats and boots?  I die.  And umm hello?  Halloween costume prep is on in full force.  It's about time for me to bust out Hocus Pocus and eat some candy corn, October 31st will be here before we know it!  Fall in Massachusetts is definitely my new favorite season.

Leave me alone shadow. 
Of course, Josh will be missing out on most, if not all, of these fall festivities.   He is on nights the ENTIRE month.  Blah.  A whole month of him working every single night of the week Sunday-Friday has me kinda bummed.  But, 'tis the life of a resident (and his family).  Though I shouldn't be the one complaining since I get to hang out with this silly girl all day.

But, before we jump neck deep into all things Fall, Ryan and I are heading to California on Friday for a week and half of much needed family time.  And considering that the high in Bakersfield tomorrow is 95 degrees, I'm gonna go ahead and say it's not quite Fall there yet. :)

Sep 14, 2014

What Does Being A Preliminary Resident Really Mean?

I am a researcher, probably to a degree that is sometimes unhealthy.   I have spent countless hours over the last 4+ years researching online anything and everything about medical school, board exams, residency applications, and residency in general.  There really is an endless amount of information out there on the web.  But, there is NOT very much information regarding being a preliminary resident.  Granted, this is something I had hoped we wouldn't have to deal with.  But now that it is, it's very disappointing to not find much in the way of guidance online for how to navigate this type of situation.

The main issue as a prelim is that it is only a 1 year guarantee.  At the end of this resident year (July-June), Josh will no longer have a job.  One year as a surgical resident does not allow you to practice on your own, become fully licensed, etc.  In short, it's not a situation anyone wants to be in.  At the same time, it is a slightly better situation than not matching at all and having no job for the past year, no new experience, and no income.

The biggest downside for us is the uncertainty that being a preliminary resident brings.  We still don't know where we will be living after this year.  We still don't know if Josh will get to continue on in his quest to become a surgeon.  We don't know if he will have to repeat his PGY1 year or if he can move forward as a PGY2. There are so many unknowns.

Here are a few of our options as "prelims."

1.  Take and hopefully excel on the ABSITE (American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination) and wait for any PGY2 categorical spots that come available across the nation.  Apply to these programs with the backing of his current PD (program director) and hope you can secure a second year spot meaning you have wasted no time. (This is our first choice.)

2.  Reapply to the 2015 Match in General Surgery (because it was oh so fun the first time around).   We are hopeful that with some new experience as a resident, brand new letters from current attendings, an updated CV and Personal Statement, and an ECFMG certification, Josh will be granted more interviews and hopefully match into a PGY1 categorical surgery spot.  He would be repeating his intern year but would have a full residency. (We are doing this.)

** The problem with the above options is that it is likely that many PGY2 open positions will not become available until after the ABSITE scores are in, which is after Rank Order Lists are due for the 2015 Match.  If you enter the Match and do in fact match to a PGY1 spot, that match is a binding contract.  You would then be unable to accept a PGY2 position if one were offered to you.  We plan to see how interview season goes.  If Josh interviews at some programs that seem like a good fit, we would likely move forward ranking programs for the Match and not put all of our eggs into the PGY2 basket.

3. Apply to and take a PGY2 preliminary surgery position.  This is a second year spot, but again is still preliminary leaving us in a similar situation next year as we are in this year.  After a PGY2 prelim year, Josh would be able to apply to PGY3 positions that are available and hopefully secure one.  But again, this is not a guarantee and therefore our last choice.  (We will consider doing this come the Spring if nothing else pans out.)

4.  Reapply to the 2015 Match for a spot in something other than Gen Surg.  For example, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, or Anesthesia which he is more likely to get.  Match into one of these and be happy we have a job, even if it's not initially what Josh thinks he wants to do. (We are NOT doing this.)  At least not this year.

**Josh and I have discussed it a lot and together we have decided that we are not ready for him to give up on his dream of being a surgeon.  While he could likely match into one of these specialties, doing so would close the door on surgery and we both feel that there are too many other viable options, even with extra years, that would still allow him to pursue a successful surgical career.  IF after this year, he becomes a PGY2 prelim we would likely then decide to apply to some of these specialities for the 2016 Match.  We sure hope we don't get to that point.

As I'm sure you can tell, it is a stressful time with lots of possibilities hanging in the balance.  However, this atmosphere is almost becoming "normal" around here.  Applications are open to be submitted tomorrow for the 2015 Match.  We have been finalizing Josh's application all weekend and are maintaining faith that our outcome will be different this year.  We also wish so many of our friends who are doing this for the first and hopefully only time, a successful Match season.

May the Match be ever in your favor.

Sep 13, 2014

Make Way For Ducklings

Ryan and I took another trip into Boston yesterday with some of our Mommy/Baby friends.  We seriously need to do it more often.  Boston is such a great city.  I don't consider myself a big city girl. New York and Los Angeles are fine, but not necessarily my cup of tea.  But Boston?  I could live in Boston I think.  It's a big city, but not overly crowded.  It has a lot of character and it is so clean for a large city.  If it weren't for the high cost of living, I'd ask Josh if we could move their tomorrow.  Well the cost of living and the fact that we don't get to choose where we live for another 5+ years.  :)

Anyway, the majority of the day was spent at the Boston Commons and the Boston Public Gardens.  These are two extremely kid friendly places to go if you are in Boston and are adjacent to each other. The Commons has a fenced in playground for kids and the Gardens has Swan Boats, the duckling statues, and a lake with tons of ducks that LOVE to be fed.

The statues of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, and Quack were by far the kids favorite part of the day.  They were garnering lots of attention as they mounted the ducks.  I'm sure you can see why.  Hilarious and adorable I tell you.  There is a book called Make Way for Ducklings based on this little duck family which I intend to buy before we leave MA.

Mrs. Mallard

Full speed ahead Ducky!
We also spent some time feeding the ducks (and pigeons and squirrels) after lunch.  The girls weren't too sure of them yet were intrigued at the same time.  I guess I don't blame them, there were a LOT of ducks!

Sep 7, 2014

Ryan Cathleen: 13 & 14 Months

Well, at 14 months, my baby is surely not a baby anymore.  At 24lbs 4 oz (80%ile) and 30 inches tall (43%ile) she is most definitely a toddler.  And, while it's sad to come to the realization that she is no longer a little baby, I really LOVE this age.  There are great things about every childhood stage, but at 14 months, Ryan is independent enough to play on her own at times, feed herself snacks, sit in the bathtub without me holding on to her 24/7, and put herself to sleep at night.  But, she still loves a good cuddle.  It's the best of both worlds in my opinion.  And if you are wondering, she sleeps from 7:30 pm to 6:30am every night without waking up.  That would be another HUGE reason to love this age. :)

So what's she been up to these past two months?  Well, she's on the move 24/7.  This girl is quite the walker now.  She insists on walking everywhere and really is not a fan of being strapped down in a stroller or being held.  It makes running errands a little challenging but, that's toddlerhood I think.  She also asserts herself by pitching a fit and throwing herself to the ground in tears.  It's actually pretty hilarious.

She continues to "talk" up a storm, but there's only a handful of words that I know she knows.  Her first word was "bye" which sounds Southern when she says it and she typically will wave her hand at the same time.  Adorable.  I also think she knows "hi," "ya," and some version of "shoe" which mostly just comes out as "shhhh."  She says "mama" and "dada" as well but I'm still not 100% certain that she correlates saying those words with Josh and I.  Kids learning words is just so cute.  Although I'm sure I might change my mind when she learns the word "no." Haha!

I officially weaned her the day before she turned 14 months.  I started weaning just before her 1st birthday and so the entire process took about 2 months.  I was in no rush and while she likely would have been fine stopping at a year, I wanted to make it as comfortable for me as possible.  Breastfeeding was a very good experience with Ryan and while there will be aspects of it that I miss, I am very thrilled to finally have my body back to myself after 2 years!

Ryan had Hand Foot and Mouth at the tail end of July.  So that was a good time.  She handled it like a pro, but being house-bound for over a week wasn't particularly fun.  We are glad to be past it and glad that it didn't seem to bother her much.

She notices other kids these days and loves to run after older children at the park or in the church nursery.  She'll give hugs to all of our baby friends and is pretty much a social butterfly.

Her likes include raspberries, strawberries, and most fruits.  She loves the movies Frozen and Tangled and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  She recently got a baby doll and will regularly tote it around the house.  She continues to "organize" things including her pacifiers, things in the refrigerator, and toys. She loves to dive into the laundry basket and put clothing items and blankets over her head.  She gets so excited when Dad comes home at night but still prefers Mama when she wakes up from naps or is upset.

Ryan has the best personality and her smile and laughter are contagious.  I get stopped daily so that someone can comment on how adorable she is and how much personality she has and I just thank the Lord everyday that she is mine.  How did I create such a perfect little human being?