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Intern year + 38 weeks



Just a bunch ‘o belly.

So here we are – 4 months into intern year and I’m a couple weeks away from popping out our second kid (Ahem, I mean, beautifully birthing another precious human into this world). Rob is on another demanding rotation with a schedule that allows him about seven hours in-between shifts. Seven hours to get home, eat, get ready for bed, sleep, wakeup, get ready, and go back to work. It’s like Groundhog Day. With a lot less sleep. Plus, to add to the fun, the schedule switches between nights and days for the next several weeks.

Besides the intense hours, he’s learning a lot and feels very supported in his program. His spirits are up and we’re enjoying the passing moments when we do get about 15-20 minutes to catch up with each other. I actually think his biggest concern right now is that I’m going to deliver Roberta Jr. early and he won’t be able to take any time off.

I’m in the same mental state I’ve been this whole pregnancy, “Eh, it’ll be fine.” Somehow for this pregnancy my worry button got totally turned off.

But, I do have to admit that my “Eh, it’ll be fine” attitude is starting to sour as I become more and more unable to do things. I’m slowly growing into the size of whale (or it feels that way), I tire quickly, my whole body hurts, my circulation is terrible, and I’m constantly hungry but don’t want to make anything. Plus, I’m solo-parenting a 2-year old.

Now here’s a fun mental picture for you: Imagine me in my super preggo, full-on-waddle state while I wrestle a testy toddler on the ground to get her pants on. Pookie is so amazing, cute, loveable, fun, blah, blah, and all that, yes. BUT, she also is an almost three-year old who lives by the motto, “I wonder what will happen if I…”

Unfortunately for her, I love following through with consequences (that’s one of my strengths that I’m happy to admit – perhaps it’s my rule follower nature), so she gets to experience the consequence full on, the first time.

I do get a little sassy at times, to keep it bearable. For example:

Me: “Okay, it’s time to get dressed to go. Would you like to put on your shirt or your pants first?”
Pookie: “No!”

Me: “I see you don’t want to get dressed, but it’s time to go. If you don’t choose, I’ll choose for you.”
Pookie: “No!”

Me: “Okay, pants it is. Please come over here so I can put your pants on.”
Pookie: “No!”

Me: “I will ask one more time and if you don’t come over here and help me put your pants on, I will hold you down and put them on for you. Can you come over here and help me put your pants on please?”
Pookie: “NO!!” with a devilish grin on her face.

Me: “Seriously? We’re gonna do this? Okay, here we go. This isn’t going to be pleasant for either of us.”

Commence holding her down with one hand and pulling on the pants with the other hand while Pookie is acting like a rabid dog half-crying and half-laughing. I get the pants on because I’m pretty badass like that, even in my whale-ish form.

Pookie: Stands up, smiles and shouts, “Mommy, I’m ready!” Tears gone, refreshed and ready.

*face palm*

At least once I lay down the law, she’s pretty cooperative for the next several hours. I start to regain hope that I’ll be able to survive having more than one of these things called children.

I’ve decided after moments like this to not check social media for the rest of the day. I can’t see pictures of happy kids or friends on vacation. I just feel like I’ve spent all my energy reserves for that day not enjoying the time with my kid, not developing myself, and not serving others in some great capacity. All I’ve got is that I put pants on my daughter. Sainthood, here I come!

But these are the moments, right? In the thick of it, rising to the occasion and giving it your all. This is what I keep telling myself. As I prepare for labor and our new toddler+infant life, I might adopt this as my motto:

I will rise to the occasion. I will give my it all!! (And not drink too much wine afterwards.)

P.S. Oh wine, how I miss you so…


Dreaming of an unconventional life


A little flash back from the past!

Rob and I are in a time of waiting and thinking ahead. As much as I try to come back to the present, we have big changes coming up in the next few months, as well as the next several years, and it’s hard not to get stuck in the thoughts of the future.

We want to be smart about our plans and our actions. We want to be informed and educated about our options and take advantage of opportunities, especially when they might be unconventional to most but feel right for us.

We’re waiting for this new precious baby to arrive and we’re doing our best to prepare to care for an infant again, all while maintaining our relationship with little Pookie and helping her navigate through this big life change.

We’re thinking of the lifestyle we want to have now and in the long-term. Now that Rob is in residency, we are already being asked where we might want to “end up.” We’re receiving invitations to recruiting and employment fairs. Some of the companies want doctors so much, that they’ll give residents a stipend while in residency in exchange for their commitment to practice as little as two years in their communities. There’s a lot of tempting stuff out there!!

We’ve started the discussion of where we want to “end up” and it’s a really hard one for us. First of all, we have loved every place we’ve lived so far. We would move back to any of them, although Ohio is a bit too cold for me and Hawaii is a bit too far away. We are already enjoying being much closer to family right now.

We always thought we’d end up in Colorado or in the Northwest somewhere, but we’ve never lived in those places and have rarely visited. We love Virginia, but it too feels too far away from our immediate families.

Texas, to our surprise, is growing on us. We’re pretty liberal people, so we weren’t sure if we’d “fit in,” but so far, we’ve found that it feels like home. It’s not just Galveston either. It seems there are pockets here and there across the state that could also feel like home for us.

Over the years, we’ve found that we can find great friends regardless of whether we believe in the same things. As long as our personalities match and we have similar values, all is good. And as long as the community has some basic things we enjoy, we’re good.

In addition to the “where we will end up” question, I’ve been thinking a lot about Pookie’s education and our lifestyle. I would love for our future to include lots of travel and possibly living outside the US. Rob is more ready to settle down somewhere and I think I’ll be the one looking for and encouraging us into new adventures all the time! 😉

I’m not going to go into my thoughts and concerns about education – that would be a whole other post! I just know that I’m not sure the traditional way of doing things is what we want. I’ve considered homeschooling, but just the thought of it makes my blood pressure rise. For me, I think it would be too much responsibility. I’d like our girls to still be part of a community of sorts (which I know you can find with homeschooling in some communities), but receive an education that fits closer to my idealistic view of what’s possible in education.

I have no idea what that looks like right now, and I have about two years to figure it out. Also, it’s a priority thing. Is education for our girls high enough on the list that we will move to a community solely based on a particular school or education opportunity? Also, do we want to invest the money to possibly have them in the “perfect” school?

Then add in my desire to travel and things start to get complicated.

Can you have both a community and flexibility? A community where our kids can participate in school and clubs, develop longterm friendships, and play on sports teams, but also have worldly experiences and be challenged regularly by different people and ways of life?

I think about some of the people we met on our gap year and how they lived these completely different lives than we’ve ever seen before (even with children!). I’ve read numerous blogs about nomad families and part of me lights up with excitement. I start thinking, “Maybe Rob could do locum tenens work and we can travel all over the world!” Then I think about how that lifestyle would be for our girls – what they would get and what they would miss out on.

I also think about how that’s not really Rob’s future vision for his medical practice. He wants to have a strong presence in whatever community we land in, running a direct primary care clinic with integrative services. He wants to write in journals and make an impact in his field on a national scale.

I guess I worry that if we do the “normal” thing – like buying a house, sending our kids to the local schools, participating in all the activities, and following along with the path that’s laid out –  I’ll feel boxed in. I’ll long for something “different” with more flexibility.

I have dreams of living life the way I want to – rather than by what’s expected or what’s available. Problem is, I don’t know what that looks like yet!! I guess it’s something that I’ll continue to ponder for years to come. With all this thinking though, I also need to remind myself to trust and have faith over trying to control it all.

As I’ve often told my former students, there are no “mistakes” when it comes to choosing a path or plunging into the unknown. You commit, and it either fits or doesn’t. There may be financial or other consequences, but you always have the choice to change. You’re not stuck there forever.

I’d love to hear your thoughts for unconventional living and education, as well as any regrets from seasoned parents – things they wish they had done themselves or with their kids when they were younger. Help me open my eyes and bring my idealistic self either some hope or some reality! 🙂


One Month To Go


Welp, sometime in the next month-and-a-half I will be a mother to two children. I will have an infant and a three year old. Please send prayers and chocolate.

Just kidding. But not really. 😉

Fair warning, I’m feeling pretty sassy these days, so there’s attitude in this post!!

Pookie was born two weeks late, so I’ve convinced myself that Roberta Jr. will be late too. However, this pregnancy feels so different compared to the first. I feel like she is already halfway through my cervix. She does this little combo cervix and bladder punch that is so endearing – it takes all my strength not to pee everywhere. Just little reminders from Roberta Jr. to do my Kegels! 

Perhaps it was the busy year we’ve had, or that I’m chasing around a toddler, but I feel like it was only a couple weeks ago that I told Rob, “Uh oh, we did it again. Super fun timing, too! Intern year!”

The first trimester of this pregnancy, I remember sitting through voice lessons trying my best to keep focused, and to force a smile through my “I’m gonna throw up” face. My students probably wondered why my face was constantly scrunched like I was smelling something terrible.

Nope, I’m just trying really hard not to hurl on you and this baby grand piano.

I just wanted to curl up on my yoga mat and sleep (I kept a yoga mat in my office that I took naps on during my lunch breaks.). Go ahead students, sing! I’m just going to lay here and listen to you. I’ll throw some paper at you when you need to correct something…

Now here I am. 36 weeks. I have about a month to go before the big day arrives.

It feels like a couple of weeks have gone by since I found out I’d have another baby, but it’s actually been about seven months. I’m waddling around. I can barely sit – there’s too much baby in there. I can barely walk – baby feet burrowing into my ribs.

And I have another month of baby super-growth to go. Oy vey!


And then there’s my precious toddler whose requests usually involve chasing her, sitting on the floor, attention, or food. Sure, Pookie, we can do a puzzle on the floor. Just give me ten minutes to get myself into a seated position.

Oh, were you asking for something, Pookie? I just zoned out for a minute. Tired and need cookies. You want cookies too? Sweet, let’s make a batch of cookies and eat them all.

I’m the best parent ever!!!!

All joking aside, things are still smooth sailing and manageable. My mom comes in a few weeks, so I’m looking forward to that. I have a whole to-do list that I’m realizing is definitely not going to get done, and I’m becoming okay with that.

I have some time right now, but all the time that Pookie is at school or napping, I will be napping – or eating. I’ve revised my to-do list down to the most important tasks that have to be completed before Roberta Jr. arrives. I think I can do it.

I’m starting to say my positive affirmations to get myself pumped up to push this baby out of my body. “I can do this. I am strong. My body knows what to do. Release instead of run. Relax instead of fear.”

I’m also starting to lose my patience with some men who comment about my pregnant state. They have no idea what it’s like to grow and birth a child, so I’d like to put out a public announcement to all the men out there that are trying to be friendly and sweet, but end up coming about a second away from being punched in the face.

Please review the following:

If you see a very pregnant woman and think, “Wow, you’re really big!” What you should actually say is, “Looking great momma!”

If you ask when I’m due and think, “She looks like she’s gonna pop right now.” What you should actually say is, “Almost there!”

If you see that I have a daughter and think, “You having a boy this time?” What you should actually say is, “Boy or girl? Another girl? How wonderful!” (I don’t need to have a boy to complete my life. Our legacy is not at stake. I don’t feel like I’ve “failed” because I have not produced “an heir” for my husband. Girls are quite awesome, thank you very much!)

Well, I feel much better now that all my sass is out. Thanks for all your well wishes and support, friends! I can’t wait to tell you all about Roberta Jr. and her big entrance when the day comes. 🙂


A Spiritual Path


One my big priorities right now is deepening my spirituality, and in all honestly, it’s been the hardest to implement. I’m following a less traditional path, so I feel to some extent that I’m having to create a new way, without as much guidance as I would prefer!

I’ve only really talked about my spiritual journey with some close friends, but recently, I have felt an opening forming. I’ve ended up having several conversations about where I’m at, spiritually speaking, and friends have encouraged me to share more about it. When I take an outside viewpoint, I guess my path has been a bit unique. I forget sometimes how special my experiences have been and how much there is to be shared.

In recent years, I didn’t feel comfortable openly talking about my viewpoint. I honestly didn’t think people would understand. I thought they would go too quickly to judgement and not hear me out. But like I said, I now feel an opening and the time feels right to soften.

So where am I at?

For most of my college years, I largely neglected the religious side of things. This continued through the beginning of my relationship with Rob and on into marriage. He was a solid atheist and I was in the “I don’t know, agnostic I guess?” category. That was fine until we moved to Norfolk, Virginia after Rob had finished his first tour on the submarine. In Virginia we were able to relax and find a new normal – focusing on health, finding friends, and having fun again. But there was something missing.

I noticed for both of us, that we would get “in our heads” too much. We had become unbalanced. We fed our knowledge so much and neglected the spiritual so much, that things felt empty, no matter how much we learned. We began to seek out ways to bring some spirituality back into our lives.

But how does an atheist and an “I don’t know, agnostic” find a community? It’s actually quite hard!!

After hours of google searches, I found two things of interest. One, a meditation group, and two, this “church” called Unitarian Universalism. I was intrigued and told Rob about them.

We started going to the weekly meditation sessions and attending the Unitarian services. It was a really good balance for us. The Unitarian services provided a community and helped bring our intellectual sides inline with action and service.

The meditation sessions ended up being half meditation and half intro to Buddhist philosophy. We were cool with that because it was very interesting. It was a viewpoint so direct and clear, and very different from how we viewed things at the time.

The instructor didn’t shy away from the hard stuff and actually, willingly dove into it with questions and curiosity. In one of the first sessions, we discussed the second Buddhist principle in the Lamrim, which is impermanence and death. This was the start of my walk on the Buddhist path. The teacher directly said:

Everything changes. Nothing remains the same. You will age and look different. Your relationships will change. You can’t guarantee that something that is working today, will work tomorrow. You will die. Everyone you know will die including your family and children. Let’s sit with that for a moment and let the truth of that reality really sink in.

Holy sh*t. It was a serious truth bomb he dropped on us. I did sit with that reality and something really started to change in me. It started first with the loosening of my grip on Rob. I had grown so attached to him, that I had lost my own sense of worth and couldn’t imagine life without him. He had become everything to me. That is a very unhealthy place to be – and it was an incredible weight to put on another person.

I started to loosen my grip on him. I started to find myself again as a whole being. Not missing someone or needing someone to fill a gap. I was enough as I was.

Strangely enough, this switch in my perspective made an enormous change in our relationship – in a very positive way. My letting go was a huge relief to Rob. He could breathe again. My letting go actually allowed for our relationship to grow so much closer and stronger than it ever could have when I was holding on so tightly. It’s hard to explain, but it actually brought us to a whole new level of closeness and connection.

That’s what made me start to get really intrigued with Buddhism. What else was there to learn??

We continued to go to that weekly meditation class until it started to turn from the philosophy of Buddhism to the religion of Tibetan Buddhism (a discussion for another time). We weren’t ready yet for the culturally based religious aspects of Tibetan Buddhism.

Between the Unitarian church and the meditation sessions, our spirituality was budding and blossoming again and we started to feel more and more alive.

Hence, this is why when we had the opportunity to take a gap year, we took it. The first thing we wanted to do during our year off? We wanted to dive into meditation. We wanted to attend one of those silent retreats. We asked around and we heard that the place to go was the Tushita Institute in Northern India. Okay then, India it was.

I’ve talked a bit in the past about our experience at Tushita where we did a 10-day silent retreat. That retreat continued to solidify for us that Buddhism was the well we wanted to draw from.

Once we arrived back to The States, we had a period of long reflection before rejoining “the real world.” I decided that Buddhism made the most sense to me and felt a strong push to continue investigating and implementing the teachings.

Rob and I have taken refuge and we are figuring out how to be Buddhists in America. It’s a challenge! Once regular life started again (enter – medical school for Rob), it was really hard to incorporate what we had learned on a daily basis, to grow our practice from the foundation we received, and the hardest, to find a community.

There are not many communities that offer what I want that is within a reasonable distance. I essentially want to go to a Buddhist Church, where we not only study the teachings and train our minds, but where the format is more similar to a traditional Western service, there is a community for children, and the songs sung in English.

The reason I haven’t openly talked about this before is that there are a lot of misconceptions about Buddhism in the Western world. The vocabulary and meaning associated with Buddhist ideas are often confused or watered down. People use terms like Buddha, meditation, enlightenment, mindfulness, and attachment to mean all sorts of things. Real Buddhism can be a hard thing to connect with and unravel. You need a good teacher – who understands where you come from culturally, spiritually, and psychologically. That is a very hard thing to find!

I received incredible, one-of-a-kind instruction at Tushita and I am devoted to not only continuing to learn and deepen my practice in Buddhism, but also find a way to incorporate the lessons in daily life – in every action and interaction – and also present the teachings to our children.

I’m still figuring out how to do this. I brainstorm everyday and feel like I’m slowly moving toward figuring something out. The actions I’m starting with are to meditate daily, even if it’s for 5 minutes. I’ve found more teachers online and go to their Facebook pages and blogs more instead of just mindlessly sifting through my social media feeds. I find little reminders that I put in my phone, or print out and post in our house.

I’ve also actually joined a Christian-based women’s group specifically for medical spouses as a way to not only connect with a spiritual community, but to help encourage me on my own faith journey. We meet weekly, so it forces me to make it the priority I want it to be. I am absolutely loving it and am so grateful that this community of Christian women have openly accepted me.

I think for everyone, they have to find the path that benefits them the most and find a community that will support them. For all those out there not really interested in a spiritual path, I encourage you to keep searching and questioning. It was a huge turning point in our lives when we started to stretch that part of ourselves again. It can be frustrating, but also incredibly rewarding, because you never know what you’re going to find – or discover about yourself and the world we live in.

Many blessings! xoxoxo


Living as friends or foes


So I had this other blog post (on spirituality) all written and ready to go, and then I remembered that last night would be the presidential debate. I’m writing this before the debate has happened. I’m pretty sure that come Tuesday morning we’re all going to be wondering how this is all going to work out, and a blog post about spirituality would not necessarily resonate.

I’m not going to talk politics on this blog, and I really don’t want to talk politics at all right now. In the past, I have loved a good hashing out of ideas, but in our current state of affairs, I just want to throw up.

I get sick to my stomach thinking about where we are at as a country – both culturally and politically. Sure, we’ve got a lot of good going on, but there’s also a lot of pretty sad, embarrassing, and inexcusable things happening. And I just can’t take it.

My thoughts always go back to thinking about little Pookie and our little one on the way. How can I best equip my ladies to make it through this world we live in – with some grace, confidence, strength, compassion, and with love still left for themselves and those around them? I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

One thing I do know, is that I strongly feel that we are at where we are at as a country because we have chosen fear time and time again over love. Now, I totally get how hippy that sounds, but hear me out.

We are scared. We are scared of everything. We’re scared of people taking things away from us. We are afraid of looking ugly or being embarrassed. We are afraid of being the one “at fault.” We are afraid of change.

We are quick to blame and to point out other people’s faults, all while totally ignoring ourselves. We judge others harshly in order to justify our own beliefs and behaviors. We pull away, hold onto things too tightly, and forget the power we have to unite and do good.

We have forgotten our power to love. And what I mean by love is that wish for yourself and everyone else to be happy. I think some part of our society revels in people’s suffering. They don’t want to see people happy and thriving, especially if they are not.

But I think most of us would agree that peace is better than war. That trusting those around us is better than shutting them out. That loving yourself and your neighbor is a much better way to live – for us and for our children.

I just listened to this podcast by Tara Brach where she mentions a quote from Einstein that cuts right to heart of it. Einstein stated:

“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.

For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.
If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.
But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.
God does not play dice with the universe.”
 So I leave you with that today – a big question from Mr. E.
As we go forward, deciding who will represent our country, how we will conduct ourselves, what we will participate in as an individual and a society, and how we work toward change, maybe Einstein’s question will help us find some answers.