Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bridge to the future

Today is one of my first residency planning meetings with the dean.  I have successfully put off this kind of meeting for a year now since I deferred matching and graduation this time last year.   Unfortunately, other than knowing where T and I will be next year for his fellowship,  I don't have any greater clarity about what my professional future will hold today than I did a year ago.  I have tried finding the answer in my prayer life, talking with T, through program websites, while playing with my kids, in conversations with advisors.  Today, I've got no answers.  I struggle to straddle two worlds, my home life and the medical profession, both of which I feel demand my utmost excellence and attention.  I know which world I want to come first.  What does that mean for the other, for my contribution to the world in medicine?

Proverbs 31 speaks about "The Wife of Noble Character" who I desperately want to be:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Decisions about residency are so hard for me to make.  Today, if you think of us, please pray for my insight and wisdom as I search for sure footing for my next steps.

Update: just want to thank everyone for prayers and encouragement.  The meeting was long, but I came away from it with renewed trust in God's plan for me.  Can't wait see what the future holds!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Fun: Popsicles

After three days of rain it is HOT and sunny here today!  
T came up with the perfect after-church treat:  popsicles!

I am somewhat ashamed to say that this was our children's first encounter with popsicles.  

G-Bear had no idea what I was talking about when I said we would get to have popsicles for a treat:
G-Bear: "What are popsicles, mommy?"  
Me: "Well, they are sort of like lollypops but frozen like ice cream."  
G-Bear: "ICE cream?"
E-Bear: "EYE ceeeem!"
Me (concerned I might be building up false expectations): "Well, sort of like ice cream, but they are different."
E-Bear: "EYE ceeeeem!"
T: "B, you had better stop saying that word."

Anyway, they were a huge hit.

Such a hit that I am thinking this would be a fun treat to repeat more often in our house. But, how about homemade?  A store-bought popsicle here and there is not going to kill anyone.  But, even more fun and healthy to make them ourselves, with fresh ingredients & *sigh* organic fruit while avoiding the *GASP* high fructose corn syrup and *TISK* genetically modified ingredients.  Right? [This is the point at which T says to me, "don't make us sound like food nuts, B."]  Ok, just more fun and healthier.  I will leave it at that.

There are gazillions of homemade popsicle recipes to discover.  Here are two great postings with a total of 82 different recipe ideas, something for everyone!

Grab your blender, a few sticks & paper cups and have these ready for your next front-step snack time!  Or, if you want super cute and feel splurgy, consider these cute silicon molds from OKRA (you can buy them on Amazon):
....and your popsicles will look like this:

(super cute idea from Take Back Your Table)

Do good this summer, and have fun too.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saint Josemaria Escriva

"God is not removing you from your environment.  He is not taking you away from the world, or from your condition in life or from your noble human ambitions or from your professional work....But, He wants you to be a saint, right THERE!" ~Saint Josemaria Escriva
This weekend marked the celebration, or feast day, of one my favorite saints and inspirational people, Saint Josemaria Escriva.  Have you heard of him? He is the founder of Opus Dei, a Catholic organization dedicated to helping people turn their daily work and activities into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and improving society.  He is known for emphasizing that we are all called to and can achieve closeness and holiness with God, no matter what our station in life or what our profession.  Mother, pre-schooler, father, baker, janitor, judge, priest, missionary, dishwasher---God has a plan for each of our lives and wants to use us in extraordinary ways to bless the world and His Kingdom.

When he died in Rome in 1975, thousands of people, including one third of the world's bishops, requested that the Vatican begin the process of his beatification and canonization as a saint.  

I really like this quote from one of his books, The Furrow.  I am reminded that sometimes I go about my day trying to be perfect in many ways, but still feel unfulfilled. Why?  I have missed the whole point by forgetting to do everything in love for God and love for others:

"You fulfill a demanding plan of life: you rise early, you pray, you frequent the sacraments, you work or study a lot, you are sober and mortified, but you are aware that something is missing. Consider this in your conversation with God: since holiness, or the struggle to achieve it, is the fullness of charity, you must look again at your love of God and your love of others for his sake. Then you may discover, hidden in your soul, great defects that you have not even been fighting against. You may not be a good son, a good brother, a good companion, a good friend, a good colleague. And, if you love your "holiness'' in a disordered manner, you are envious. You sacrifice yourself in many small personal details, and so you are attached to yourself, to your own person. Deep down you do not live for God or for others, but only for yourself." (Furrow, 739)
You can learn more about this amazing man at  Then, when you have time, learn more about Opus Dei and its amazing mission.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Vacation Bible School Celebration!

Consider yourself warned....this is one of those proud parent posts coming at you.......
How can I help it?  This was such a special week for us.

Today we celebrated G-Bear's first week of school....
Vacation Bible School!

Yes, it is Vacation Bible School season right now. This year we got to participate for the first time.  I would like to give a proper shout out to Grandmo, who foresaw a great opportunity back in February and signed G-Bear up.  G-Bear wasn't yet potty-trained at the time, which was a requirement to attend this week. GULP!  Momo had more faith than I did at the time, thank goodness!

Our big girl has certainly grown up a lot this spring, and this week was a great example of that in so many ways.  G-Bear LOVED school.  I'll confess, I almost cried on Monday dropping her off with her little nut-free lunch in a brown paper bag.  Goodness, Queen B, VBS is only 3 hours!
G-Bear, however, didn't bat an eye--she was ready to play!  What is more, she practically leapt out of bed the next morning when I told her she got to go back again.  What a blessing!

Today was the sing-along performance finale and picnic.  Momo, E-Bear and I were there to cheer and sing along.  E-Bear couldn't help but dance along himself--he has been green with envy all week, wanting to stay and play in G-Bear's classroom every morning when we drop her off, and bouncing along to the music when we pick her up together.

"Ok, everyone," the leader said in front of the crowd to the 144 kids, "ready to sing and dance?  
G-Bear, are YOU ready to dance?  You always do such a good job of dancing around!"  

Holy cow.  Need any more proof that she loved this week?

Our conversation on the way home after the sing-along was really special for me:
Me: "G-Bear, I am really proud of how much fun you had at School this week.  I am proud of how you sang songs and made lots of friends and danced and listened to your teachers."
G-Bear: "yeah, but, mommy, I didn't really get to learn the songs very good."
Me: "Oh, G-Bear, don't worry!  Remember, your teacher gave us your school songs so that we could listen to them in the car.  Would you like to listen to your school songs again?"
G-Bear: "Yeah!  Mommy, do you think we could sing the songs TOGETHER?"
Me: "Sure, sweetie!  I would love to sing them with you."
G-Bear:  "And put our hands up like this?!  Just like at school?"  (Hands up above her head, doing the "Awesome God" choreography from the performance)

Can you believe how my heart was bursting with joy as we drove home, music blasting, singing along, E-Bear clapping and bouncing and G-Bear mouthing the words she could remember....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Fun: Finger painting

Who says you have to leave the house to create summer fun?

This week we turned our front yard into a finger painting art studio that even Michelangelo would have admired...

Start with a flat surface where you can secure a piece of paper with clips or tape.  You don't need an easel, but they are fun. We found one in my mother's basement....the same one I used as a kid.

It passed muster with G-Bear.  She was hard at work in no time.

First with one finger...

then two....

....pretty soon her whole hand...

Don't forget an apron, or an big old t-shirt, because things are bound to get messy...
that's half the fun!

(The tongue is just like her Dad when he's concentrating.  I am pretty sure his tongue looked just like hers as he was taking this picture.) 

I had to resist the temptation to tell the kids what to do with the paint.  Just tried to let them figure it out for themselves.... temperance definitely paid off.

To prevent color mixing in the paint pots, I gave the kids plates with little paint piles so they could mix away without me hovering.

Don't forget to get a little paint on your forehead.
And take a break for a new piece of paper!

Or stop, smell, and finger paint the roses in the neighbors' garden...

We got to display our masterpieces as they dried in the breeze.  The top most picture is E-Bear' can tell he was a bit short for his side of the easel.  

Time to wash those hands!   Nobody back in the house until we have washed hands! 
Thank goodness for washable paint :)

Do good this summer, and have fun too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Simplifying life...lessons from Kids

Becoming Minimalist is a blog I recently came across, the story of one family's journey in "becoming minimalist," working toward a life of greater simplicity.

I crave greater simplicity in my life most days.  Work, school, kids, activities, chores, what's not to love??  All the clutter that can come with those things, that's what!  I think my tendency to clutter my life is part of a greater problem I have: a constant God-shaped hole in my soul that I sometimes try to fill with other things.  I see my desire to de-clutter my life as the inverse of my cluttering missteps--the Spirit reminding me that this world is temporary and God is all I really need to depend on.

The author of "Becoming Minimalist," Joshua Becker, doesn't offer any religious affiliation, but his thoughts on a simpler approach to life resonate deeply with convictions I hold as a follower of the One who said,
"Then go, sell all you have, and you will have treasure in heaven.  
Then come follow me."(Luke 18:22) 
"Do not worry about what you shall eat and what you shall drink and what you shall wear
...for your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things." (Matthew 6:31-32) 

He has posted some awesome thoughts, "7 Minimalist Lessons I've Learned from My Kids." I couldn't agree more with his essay, especially with the "Life Lessons"learned.  His site is worth a visit, but I have also included the essay below for sake of simplicity :)

7 Minimalist Lessons I've Learned from My Kids
by Joshua Becker, June 21st, 2010

1. One neighborhood friend is worth more than a basement full of toys. My two kids can spend countless hours with their neighborhood friends running from yard to yard, playing tag, catching bugs, or swinging on swings. They can spend every afternoon and evening together without being bored. But take them away from their friends for one Saturday at home with their toys… and boredom almost immediately sets in. The joy of playing alone in a roomful of toys quickly fades.
LIFE LESSON:Relationships with others are always more exciting and fulfilling than possessions.
2. Clothes are not worn to impress othersMy First Grade son has two requirements for his clothing: 1) that he can get them dirty and 2) that he won’t get too hot. He has never worn a shirt to impress a girl or a pair of slacks to impress his teacher. (He has worn a shirt and slacks because his parents asked him to, but that’s a different subject). I don’t think the idea of trying to impress others by wearing the latest fashions has ever crossed his mind. He feels no pressure to conform or impress. And thus, he’s simply content with a clean tanktop and shorts.
LIFE LESSON: Wear clothing for its usefulness rather than as an attempt to impress others.
3. Life’s pains are healed best by a hug and a kiss… not new toysMy daughter falls down often (as most four year olds do). And when she skins her knee, she only wants one thing – her mommy to pick her up, give her a kiss, and tell her that everything is going to be okay. She doesn’t ask for a new toy… she only desires love and security. She has found the antidote to pain and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
LIFE LESSON: Don’t look towards ”things” to soothe the pain we encounter in life. Instead, seek love, acceptance, and security.
4. Fancy possessions and character are completely unrelated. I love helping in my son’s First Grade classroom because Kindergarten and First Grade may be the only places left on earth where labels don’t exist. At age 7, everyone is accepted and everyone plays with everyone else. Each person starts the day on equal footing. Nobody is pre-judged by the house that they live in or the clothes that they wear. Oh, that our world would begin to resemble a first-grade classroom.
LIFE LESSON: Judge people by their hearts and character, not by the meaningless externals of life.
5. Too many toys in a box only get in the way of the good ones. A funny thing happens after holidays. A mountain of new toys enter my childrens’ lives. The toys are initially meant with incredible excitement. However, after two or three days, they are pushed to the side as my kids return to the tried-and-true toys they had been playing with long before the holiday ever occurred. The new toys we thought would make them happier, don’t. Instead, they just start to get in the way.
LIFE LESSON: We often think that material possessions will bring lasting excitement into our life, but most of the time they just end up getting in the way.   
6. The more toys you play with, the more time you spend cleaning them upBecause we clean up every night before bed (well, almost every night), our kids understand this pretty simple equation. The more toys we pull out of the closet, the more time we spend cleaning them up. And conversely, the less time we spend actually enjoying them.
LIFE LESSON: The more possessions we own, the more of our time is required to care for them, clean them, organize and sort them.
7. A hike in the woods beats a new video game anydayVideo games simply can not compete with the graphics, the full-sensory experience, or the relationship of a family walk through the woods. Never have, never will. And for that matter, nothing else produced on televsion can compete either.
LIFE LESSON: Turn off the television. Go outside. Live life, don’t just watch it.

Such great lessons!  Becoming Minimalist also has a great post on "Building Others Up" today, also something we need to do more often and another essay worth reading.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Fun: On the Farm

You may notice the "Farm Fun" section on our new "Summer Fun" page, and here is why....

That's right, we were enjoying an afternoon at a hobby farm last weekend!

Okay, okay, it wasn't entirely my idea...we were really there for the wedding reception of our dear medical school friends, R & N.

R's family owns a dairy-farm-now-hobby-farm southwest of the Twin Cities.  Lucky for us, they chose the farm as the site for their marriage reception celebration.

The cows were ready to celebrate with us.  G-Bear and E-Bear loved the cows.

We happened to have a conversation with a circle of friends as to whether we could live on a farm.  I don't know if it is because I am now a mom of small kids or it is just a phase in my life, but I love the idea.

There is something about the sunshine, breeze in the air, the veggie garden and flowers in the yard and the cows in munching on the grassy field (and a perfect space for a cute free-range chicken coop---fresh morning omelets, anyone??) that really feels attractive right now.  

Plus as the father-of-the-bride put it to us, "if you are looking for a good place to raise your kids, there is no place like a farm."  I believe him.  E-Bear and G-Bear had a blast.  

Not that I dislike living close to other people.  I love people.  I want my life and my family to be about helping people, creating community, close friendships and neighborly generosity.  These views were beautiful, but I would be sad with my nearest neighbors 5 miles down the road.  

I have a feeling that there might be a happy medium to find for our future.

Since I have farm on the brain today, I was looking for inspiration from on-line farming-types.  One of my favorite inspirations is Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman whose website I adore.  Her homestyle cooking is amazing and I found a great recipe for dinner tonight....Pasta alla Vodka (perfect for the bottle of Mexican vodka I have in my cupboard from a cancun hotel....what else am I going to do with the stuff??).   Here is her shot of her finished product.  I can promise you, this recipe is five-star amazing, because I made it for our dinner tonight.

Ok, briefly back to my crew, our day at the farm was all kinds of fun. 

If I have my way, we will make farm visits a part of our summer.  I have a short listing on our Summer Fun page to remind me where to take the crew.  Maybe if we're lucky, we'll get to visit the farm where the grassfed pig and free-range chickens in my freezer lived before they came to us.  But that's a post for another day.

Enjoy today,

.....treasure it....

...this life is a gift.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hail to the Chief!

Today might seem like any other day at the hospital to many people.....

....but it is a big day in our residency life.

Today is T's first day as a Chief Resident physician.

Awwww, I am going to embarrass him.  I know he is already blushing.
He has already worked four long years of residency, and now he has just one more to go.  Although he might try to convince you that he doesn't feel any more senior today, don't you believe him.  I am here to remind him what good work he does, how much he has learned, how far he has come, and how blessed his patients are to be in his care.

How do I know this? 

Because I have been with him everyday along the way.  No one is bursting with more pride and admiration in his journey than me.  Because what makes T an excellent physician and Chief Resident is far more than what he has learned in the hospital these past four years:

He is a man of his word, careful not to make promises he can't keep.
He is a man of patience, even under pressure or when others are not.
He is a man of gentleness and love, placing the welfare of others before himself.

No matter how hard the day, T always comes home cheerful and loving.
No matter how short the night's sleep, he has a kiss for me in the morning before he leaves.
He always calls to update.
When the work is done, when others may go their merry way, he is hurrying home to be with us.

know that I don't take you, 
or your past 4 years of hard work for us and your patients,
for granted.

I love you, my love.  Hang in there, I am so proud of you.  Lord willing, this will be a great Chief Year.

We love our Dads....

 Raising kiddos is the hardest job you'll ever love.

Thanks, Papa, today and everyday,
for each gently-combed tangle,
all your big bear hugs
and every loving sacrifice.

Dearest Dee,
we miss your sideways smile
and your post-work encouraging phone calls,
but your generous example lives on in our lives.

And T, I couldn't be more thankful that you are the dad my kids celebrate on Father's Day.

With love for all fathers and great thanks to the Father....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Fun Edition...Splash Pools

One of the best parts of living in Minneapolis with kids during the summer is the free splash pools.  Blessedly for us, we discovered them early this year.

We are becoming frequent splashers.

The pools are located in many of the city parks throughout Minneapolis neighborhoods.  They are impressively maintained.  Many are even new, zero-depth fountain pools, perfect splashing and spraying for all ages.  If you live in the Twin Cities, you need to stop by one of these on a warm, sunny day.

Don't forget your pool toys,

...your hat, and sunscreen. 

Did I mention the part about the fountains?  

They delight like no other. 

Wishing for more? 

Go to the Minneapolis Park website for a full listing of the splash pools. 
Let us know when you are going...we'll meet you there.

Do good this summer, and have fun too.