Music Man shoutout

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Madeline and I got a shoutout! In this essay about Hilton Village and all its charm, the author happens to mention our production of The Music Man at the local theatre. There’s even a photo of the cast, shown below — M is the youngest member. It’s been a great run and loads of fun. Last show is tonight!

Harold Hill meets the River Citiziens of Iowa

Harold Hill meets the River Citiziens of Iowa

Screenshot of the shoutout:

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See the full essay here:

It Takes a Community: Life in Hilton Village

Holiday Photos 2015

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A beautiful woodsy session with Melissa Neck Photography, and this year’s resulting holiday card:

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Hilton Village 4th of July

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They told us kids AND dogs are in the parade.

Our old-school historic neighborhood proudly maintains many traditions, among them a 4th of July parade down Main Street. Wagons, bicycles, strollers, a historic fire truck, a modern fire truck, classic cars, and lots of happy faces were decked out in red, white and blue. A neighbor held a block party brunch where we decorated our vehicles the morning of the parade and then congregated after for some amazing potluck treats and good conversation. Both Madeline and Henry had a great time.

Getting ready:

And now, the parade (which started off with motorcycles before the grand marshal and reminded me of my time in the Disney Stars and Motorcars Parade):

The parade ends at the elementary school, where everyone in the parade gathers to watch the rest of it. Some of the vehicles are parked so that the kids can explore them. The neighborhood milkman also has a tent where you can sample the dairy’s products.

Then we headed back for brunch and a day of barbecues with the neighbors.

Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?!

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We’ve doped her with myriad cartoon shorts along with occasional full-length animated features for months now. She invites us to do the “Mee-key Gonald?” round and round the nursery (see video below). She’s got her princess dresses ready and has been asking to wear her Minnie polka dots to school. Minnie herself has been lovingly smeared with yogurt, milk, cookie crumbs, and various other toddler foods. Yep. At long last, we are going to meet the Mouse and the rest of the Gang.

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M gathered Mom and Dad in her room for a jam session to the Mickey Mouse Club March. She added in her favorite electronica beats.

Two years ago

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If I haven’t said it enough, Isabel March is awesome. I am picky. And let me tell you, it is truly amazing when you find someone who captures your aesthetic sensibilities. Which is why I am all the more tickled and honored that, when we visited her a few weeks ago, I found Madeline (in the belly) and I were still on her studio wall. Not only that, but we are still on her website’s maternity page, too.

Here’s Baby Madeline at 36 weeks. She didn’t stay in there much longer after this photo.

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We’re on the maternity page!

Happy Valentine’s Day

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taken by our awesome wedding/family photographer, Isabel March

Isabel March, our fabulous wedding photographer, held a Little Love Portraits event with complimentary(!) mini studio sessions in honor of Valentine’s Day. With our busy lives, it was a nice reminder to stop and capture the moment. Only a short time ago, our tiny 5-lb valentine came home and transformed our world. She’s now a sweet, endearing toddler who seems to have picked up her puppy’s habit of making friends wherever she goes. A singing, dancing, belly-laughing little girl with a big grin, tiny feet, and baby wisps still waiting for real hair to grow. Happy Valentine’s Day, and happy birthday, little Madeline. May this memory be one of many we will hold dear always.

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A language guide for translating Madeline

I loved the introduction to the development of language in my college cognitive science class, and I love that each child builds his or her own vocabulary of gibberish that makes no sense to anyone else except perhaps family and friends. If you ever babysit M, here’s a leg up on trying to understand what the heck she’s saying. I’ve collected these words over the past few months; a lot of her language is fairly intelligible with context.

  • Taintu: Thank you
  • Malcom: Welcome
  • Bassoo: Bless you
  • Babybug: Ladybug
  • Pickabook: Pick a book, read a book
  • Henny: Henry
  • Nahnice: Not nice
  • Meow: Cat
  • Rawr: Lion, bear
  • Mohs, Mimi Mohs, Mimi Moush: Minnie Mouse
  • Schwann: Shoe on
  • Muk: Milk
  • Shawbee: Sorry
  • Shtawbee: Strawberry
  • Shuggoe: Snuggle
  • Simmee: Excuse me
  • Padzu: Pretzel
  • Kooky: Cookie
  • Kinko Shar: Twinkle Star
  • See-yoh: Cereal
  • Ahmo: Elmo
  • Sheesche: Quiche
  • Wound and wound: I want you to sing The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round
  • Uppeedown: I want you to sing The People on the Bus go Up and Down
  • Weh ee go: Let It Go
  • Ewer: Ever (For the First Time in Forever)
  • Shummer: Summer (In Summer)
  • Up high, dow-woe: High five, down low
  • Baddee: Belly
  • Burr: Bear
  • Budday cake, Ahmo cake: birthday cake, Elmo cake
  • Chiddee: Chilly
  • Dah-wee: Dolly
  • Ditz: Dance
  • Dump: Jump
  • Pouts: Pouch (fruit pouch, yogurt pouch)
  • No-wah: Laura
  • Gama: Grandma
  • Gampapa: Grandpa
  • Eeemee: Amy
  • Miam: Liam
  • Eee ah you: Where are you
  • Mon: Come on

Mimi Moush valentines

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M_Valentine_2015Last Valentine’s Day, I had a shelf exam and Madeline had a GI virus. So, class valentines did not happen. Fortunately, being in a class of 1-year-olds means they didn’t really miss much.

This year might be Mommy’s last chance to make Madeline valentines for a while. Besides being super into Frozen (audio here and video here), Madeline loves “Mimi Moush,” whom she knows as her crib buddy. So Mimi Moush valentines we did.

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She’s come a long way from her tiny almost-9-week-old self.

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So, we ordered Minnie valentine cupcakes from my awesome friend Judy of The Good, Bad and Yummy, who also made Madeline’s birthday cake.

photo credit: www.thegoodbadyummy.com

photo credit: www.thegoodbadyummy.com

This morning, she was not feeling the Valentine dress, so we went with her “babybug” shirt instead.

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Babybug: “Cheese!”

The cupcakes were a big hit, as were the treats from her class party.

Madeline’s interpretation of Let It Go

Each night at bedtime, Madeline gets a song. This routine has become unwieldy given her penchant for repetition, but evidently she has been paying attention, at least. Who knew kids had such good memory at this age?

“Weh ee go, weh ee go”

It’s challenging to catch Madeline on digital media because she often wants to grab the recording device. Here, she is absorbed in singing her song to Mookey and Boo.

Madeline requests “Weh ee go” daily. She listens to the soundtrack, and every now and then you can hear [“Finally they’re opening up the”] “GATES!” or [“The past is in the”] “PAST!” ringing from the nursery. You’ll have to turn up the volume on this one quite a bit; don’t forget to turn it back down 🙂

Madeline’s first visit to the Poconos

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What a visit to the Poconos! Although Madeline first became acquaintanced with snow in Philly, she was delighted to play in fresh, deep fluff for the very first time. She also, for the very first time, identified “Gama” and “Gampapa.” By the end of the weekend, she added to her vocabulary “Eemee” (Amy), “No-wah” (Laura), and “Mee-am” or “Ee-am” (Liam).

First came story time with Gama and Gampapa on the evening we arrived. M loves her board book collections, perfectly sized for her hands. She especially loves her Mother Goose rhymes, including “Dumpy Dumpy,” “Fuffin Man,” “Kinko Shar,” “Pah Cake,” and “Diddo Diddo.”

The next morning, we headed out for the grownups to ski while baby and puppy explored the snow:

Back home for lunch and a little playtime with Dad:

Heading out for the afternoon, we were much more about our wits and ready to play.

Fortuitously, we discovered a neighborhood friend!

Madeline found a little friend, about four years older, whom she calls “Bibbeh.” Bibbeh was wonderfully (and amazingly!) kind and patient with Madeline, repeatedly making snowballs for Madeline to smoosh. Madeline loved their new game of falling back in the snow, sitting up to dig, and repeating. Now and then Madeline would look up to peek if Bibbeh was still lying down.

Winding down after a full day. Let’s do some rock n reading.

Out to play the next morning. Say goodbye to the adults! We’ve got business with a toboggan.

Afternoon ski time. Go away Dad, I’ve got a toboggan to ride.

Finally, some scenic shots over the weekend:

Happy Birthday, Babies!

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The babies in our little circle of friends were all born around the same time, so rather than have a slew of birthday parties (and cakes…and goodie bags…and party commitments), a friend and I decided to do our kids’ two-year-old birthday celebration together. Happy birthday to R, M, and the rest of the gang.

R_and_M_2ndBirthday_004 Our amazing two-sided Elmo cake and cupcakes were made by my friend Judy of The Good, Bad and Yummy. Judy is a hilarious kind-hearted soul and directed me in my all-time favorite role, Sally in YAGMCB. Most. Fun. Ever. Nowadays she pours her creativity into her baking. She made the bottom tier of mint chocolate chip cake and the top of red velvet, and both were indeed yummy.

First, the kids went to play while things were getting settled.

Then, we started on the cake and munchies.

Next, we attempted a group photo. You can just imagine the storyline here. We had a near fall with a dad on hand to catch, someone who brilliantly conferred upon each toddler a balloon, a brief alignment of smiling babies, and rapid deterioration into chaos as their attention lapsed.

Finally, they went back to the playroom. M was a big fan of the cat (“Kitty! Kitty!”).

The kids had a few presents to open. M was excited for books, Minnie Mouse, and shoes.

Everything is Awesome

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“Awetom? Awetom? Okay!”

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Madeline’s alphabet

Since the holidays, we have become very acquainted with Madeline’s repertoire. Here is her version of the alphabet:

A B C D E esshee (at 20 months, up to here was all we had — she would repeat this loudly with gusto and with emphasis on “ESS” if you attempted to sing any other song, as if you didn’t know what you were doing)
Ay-shy gay K ehhhhmm mo P
Syoo aww S, See-ooo B
Dubboooo X, Y n Z
Now I know mah A B C
Ness tahm bon’t oo sing WHIM-MEEE!

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Madeline’s first snow

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The first real snowfall of the season occurred a few days after New Year’s. Until then, Madeline had never truly experienced snow; she was only a bundled-up baby in a carrier the previous winter. I am thankful to be able to capture this moment in photo and film. Thank you, smartphone.

On the way to school, Madeline experienced snowfall for the first time (as a walking, talking person rather than a carry-dependent baby). She took it in slowly, shuffling through, surprised to find her tracks behind her, and occasionally dusting off the snow from her boots. We took a slow walk so she could play, and by the end she was all giggles, running through the snow.
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Happy New Year!

2014-12 Holiday Card

this year’s holiday card

Better late than never, right?

Poor Henry endured much yogurt, fur tugging, and swatting from Madeline last year. Fortunately they are still buds. It’s amazing how M has grown and yet still looks very much like her baby self.

Confessions of a burnt-out physician

I don’t harbor any illusions about how hard ob-gyn residency will be, let alone with a young child. But this physician’s story only reinforces my belief that I made the right choice — an intensely personal choice that was the right choice for me — to start our family while in medical school. I need to learn how to live with balance now, so that I can draw boundaries when necessary for my own health, and so that I can thrive in the face of career challenges as before.

Thanks Jenny for sharing. Reprinted below in its entirety.

I’ve wanted to be a physician for as long as I can remember. As a teen, the choice to become a doctor seemed to perfectly meld my affinity for science, academics, and helping others. Better yet, pediatrics offered the ability to work with families and children of all ages and developmental abilities.

For fifteen years, I lived, breathed, and worked toward my goal to become a pediatrician. In college, I studied the foundational cornerstones of science and humanities and focused on how health impacts the rest of our lives. In medical school, I learned about different aspects of each organ system and marveled at the miracles of the human body. During residency, I walked the halls of hospitals during the wee hours of the morning. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes as I provided artificial breaths to a dying infant and smoothed the crinkles in my yellowing white coat as we brainstormed why another child was brought to us at death’s door.

When I finally achieved my goal to call myself a board-certified pediatrician, I beamed as I walked into my new office space that had my name posted on the wall outside exam room doors.

Despite my lofty dreams and expectations, practicing primary care pediatrics was nothing like I hoped it would be. My days were filled with opportunities to meet and grow with patients and families, but my tidbits of time were sliced into 15-minute increments. As my practice size increased, I was persistently pressured to add extra patients over my lunch hours, before the day started, and into time slots already booked with other patients. The need to move increasingly efficiently sparked anxiety within me — I was halfway through greeting one patient before I was also surreptitiously listening for the opening and closing of the next exam room door to signal that another patient was waiting.

The physical and emotional work of completing a visit every 15 minutes repeatedly refreshing my smile before I burst into the next room began to make me feel like a machine. As a robot in the factory of medicine, the demands of my job pulled at my greatest skills of empathy and compassion, two of the character traits that made me most suited for primary care. Try as I might, it was hard to feel compassionate for the mother of a child with a mild cold when I was already ignoring my raging headache, need to urinate, and fatigue. Despite my gut instinct to address the “one last thing” that patients often bring up at the end of a visit, the pressure of metrics that detailed my length of visit and wait time for patients coerced me to ignore their concerns, even if my actions translated into another office visit, another co-pay, another day.

When I did have time to sit down, I was crowded into the corner of a small office shared by two other physicians. When we all were present and trying to make phone calls, type office notes, and converse with staff, the cacophony rose. My brain and my inner self was desperate for peace, though I knew it would be only moments before the next patient was ready in a room to begin again.

By the time I got home each evening, I was a deflated emotional balloon, sucked of energy and ambition and left with little to share. When my own children rushed to greet me, I offered them a quick hug and kiss and then silently wished they would quiet down. After dinner and bedtime stories, I rested with them until it was time to open my laptop again and work through additional charts, emails, and work tasks. My husband personified my laptop as a bedfellow in our marriage. I struggled for the emotional energy to make my steadfast lifetime partner feel loved.

As a part of the middle management administration at my health care organization, I sat in meetings week after week where the physicians in the organization were referred to as “lazy, whiny, irresponsible, and unmotivated.” I gazed through the picturesque windows in the large administrative offices and chuckled at the irony that money is too tight to upgrade or expand space in clinics to improve the workplace environment. I seethed quietly as I listed to the mantra that we need to see more patients, more efficiently, and work longer hours as if I were listening to the drumbeat at a funeral march.

The articles on physician burnout cite the need for physicians to develop coping strategies to deal with the daily stressors incurred in the office. We are tasked to learn and practice mindfulness, meditation, and regular exercise. While I make exercise a priority, I simply can’t find the time to learn the other soul-saving techniques in my current work environment. I think it is not only a physician’s responsibility to take care of ourselves, but the scaffolding of the health care system needs allow for practices that will sustain those of us at its very core.

Last week, I submitted my resignation from medicine.

Many have asked me if I will ever come back, but I’m not sure. I am jaded by the push to provide efficient and effective health care for others while ignoring my own personal needs. I am saddened by the palpable wounds that I have left my children through lack of energy, lack of engagement, and inability to be there when they need me. I am discouraged that despite 15 years of focus and sacrifice, Dr. Google has become a smarter and more esteemed physician than I. I am worried that the advent and elevation of pseudoscience has led to increased vaccine resistance, re-emergence of previously eradicated diseases, and hours of time spent fruitlessly discussing why the opinions of thousand physician researchers should outweigh the thoughts of one or two dissenters.

I have heard that it costs up to $10,000 every time my organization hires and trains a new physician. It costs patients and insurance companies each time I ask a patient come back to discuss other concerns I didn’t have time to address. Every time I order a diagnostic test that is not medically warranted but desired by a patient that has Googled their symptoms, costs increase.

The United States spent approximately $8,895 per person for health care in 2012, which is higher than any other developed country but is among the worst health outcomes. If we want to decrease the cost of American health care, it will be imperative to make efforts to retain primary care physicians, decrease administrative costs and overhead spending, and put back some autonomy in physician’s hands so that customer satisfaction does not override the importance of good patient care.”[sic] In addition, health care companies and patients need to recognize that those of us who chose to study medicine are not merely well trained machines but humans who strive to deliver care with compassion, empathy, and expertise.

I don’t know what my next career will be, but for now I will work on regaining what made me chose[sic] medicine in the first place. As I cultivate the human that has been suppressed by the robot that provided medical care, I look forward to regaining the health and happiness that we seek for all.

The author is an anonymous pediatrician.

Confessions of a burnt-out physician.

Christmas 2014

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Christmas2014_132 2014 might well be our last year to sleep in on Christmas Day for quite a while. (Last year’s photos are here.) Madeline had been asking to open the gifts under the tree, but she doesn’t yet understand the concept of Christmas Day. This year’s holiday was all about introducing her to the tree, to decorating it with ornaments, to seeing the Nutcracker (a kids version put on by the Rock School), wrapping presents, and now opening them.

With a little help getting started, she’s gotten the hang of ripping off wrapping paper. First came a Hess truck with a space cruiser and a little baby scout ship. The space cruiser emits sound effects upon swerving or diving, making it a big hit with Daddy (and baby).

Next, we have a family of Calico Critters, the Woodbrook Beaver Family.

Then some snow mittens, a detour to the trash (“srash”), and Brio trains!

And in the biggest box was a Safari Express train set, a perfect finale to Madeline’s Christmas morning.

Madeline had a present for Daddy, but she was somewhat reluctant to give it.

What’s a holiday without coloring on your face?

Some shots with the afternoon sunlight.

Christmas dinner.

Some evening shots of the tree.

Madeline ended her Christmas day by laying her head in Mommy’s lap and falling asleep on the hard wood floor. Mommy was unable to move for the next half hour.