Saturday, February 28, 2009

Burn-out and Break

I always knew that Physician Assistant school would be rough, but there are times I feel like a got a bit more than I bargained for. It’s been nearly 9 months since all this madness started and I can’t believe how much they’ve managed to cram (or try to cram) in my brain! Our professors seem to be very aware and have been giving us pep talks all this week. Dr. Handler, our medical director, is amazing and our biggest cheerleader. When we had our white coat ceremony, he gave us a standing ovation. He never has experienced PA school, but is very familiar with its rigors. He encourages us by reminding us it’s harder than med school because we’re learning 65-70% of the same material in half the time. Despite the encouragement, most of us have been approaching the burn out stage and are getting very tired of spending our days sitting in a classroom, prepping for one exam after another. Thankfully, spring break is only one week and one test away, then we’ll be eight short weeks away from starting our clinical year and using all this knowledge we’ve been storing away. There’s only so long that you can read about things before you just need to get out there and start doing it!

Friday, February 27, 2009


Oh what small little valuable things. It has been not once but twice that I have forgotten my keys before walking out the door on my way to school recently. And yesterday, it proved to be the worst. Dan had taken a half day off work to ride/shadow a police officer that we know--and the shift wouldn't be over until eleven! As a result, I was expecting to be home by 5, but I ended up being locked out of my apartment until he could pick me up from school at nearly midnight. I guess though, that it wasn't all bad. I did spend the entire evening studying for my emergency medicine exam (which didn't go too badly) and I'm going to be sure to have a spare around for future forgetfulness!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Double Standards

Dan and I value country life. We also value having a large family and growing up around animals and gardens. We feel that all these things add to a child’s growing up years and teach them responsibility, hard work, life skills, appreciation for where their food comes from, and many other lessons that I haven’t mentioned. In order to accomplish all these things, Dan and I realize that one of us will have to stay home, especially while the kids are younger until they’re of school age. While we were discussing who would be doing that and Dan quickly volunteered. He very practically pointed out that I have a higher earning potential as Physician Assistant and cheerfully commented that he could do what he always wanted—build our home and have his own cabinetry and furniture making business. If he worked part-time from home, he could make his own schedule around taking care of our children and our farm.

When I was talking about this with some of my classmates, sharing our dreams and excitement, the look on their face obviously showed that there was a lack of respect for our decision and a snide comment was made. Let me tell you that this was not the response I was expecting and my feathers were quickly getting ruffled! I was somewhat upset about the incidence and talked to Dan about it later that evening. He reassured me that he was very comfortable with our decision and didn’t feel that his manhood was threatened. In fact, since he was taking care of our farm he jokingly commented that he would be the one “bringing home the bacon” and “putting food on the table,” literally!

What bothers me so much is the double standard in society. If a woman wants to do the “non-traditional” thing and have a career, everyone is so supportive and it’s a near rally call for equality and justice. If a man decides that he wants to do the “non-traditional” thing and be a full-time dad, he’s looked on with disdain and skepticism. Though, if you look through history, many fathers did exactly what Dan wants to do. Most farming families had fathers who worked from home and spent all day teaching their children how to work and run a farm—think of Charles Ingalls, for example.

I’m so proud of Dan. He knows exactly who he is and always surprises me with how little he’s affected by cultural norms. Instead, he makes the choices that will be best for us, not ones that are most in-step with what society might try to dictate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust--
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
by Robert Frost

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tails on Kites...

If you asked my mother, she’d say the one thing I have been since I was old enough to read is a planner and an organizer. When she asked me to clean up the videos, they would be arranged in alphabetical order and my clothes were organized by color code. Even as a little girl, I had the next 15 years of my life all figured out… Unfortunately, some family friends gave us a copy of Back to Basics—which I poured over. I knew how I wanted to build my house, what I was looking for in a man, how many kids I wanted, including possible names, what was going to be in my garden, and how many animals I wanted, where they were all going to fit in my barn, which fruit trees I was planting—and I had a 10 year plan…of course, 10 years starting after graduating from high school, college, and grad school.

Well, I’m well in the swing of planning again and this time I have Dan in the midst of it all with me. We just finished outlining—to scale!—our house that we want to build and have our handiwork hanging up on the wall. We’ve discussed animals and farms and plants and how’s and when’s ad nauseum. Thankfully for my sanity (and my grades!) he gets burned out after an hour or two and needs a break for a week. I could go on for several days. Unfortunately, this often keeps my brain in a constant twirl, thinking of a new option, trying to remember something I was going to look up. And now that I’m getting to about half way through grad school, I am trying to figure out where to look for jobs and where will be the best place for Dan and I to call home—Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas…somewhere else I haven’t thought of yet.

And this is where kites and their tails come in…my mom once told me that in my parents’ marriage, my dad is the dreamer and my mom is the practical one, the tail on his kite. For Dan and I, I’m definitely the dreamer and I’m pretty good and being practical, but what I need is someone to pull me out of all the planning and remember to stop and enjoy the ride.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Producing Fruit

At the church camp where Dan and I spent our childhood and eventually met as camp counselors, we always used to sing a fun song about the Fruit of the Spirit. It was a bit of a kiddie song, but honestly, I could never keep all of the fruit straight or in what order they came in.

Today I was doing a bit of journaling and got to thinking about what a lucky woman I am to be married to Dan. I thought of that verse and suddenly realized, "You know what, Dan exemplifies all of the fruit of the spirit!" I've always strived to exhibit the fruit of the spirit, but normally got caught up somewhere around the "patience" part. I'd say that I have the better end of this whole marriage business! I love you, Dan!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." -- Galatians 5:22-23

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lessons from the Lily

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 2And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it."

~ Luke 12:27-29

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Banana (Oatmeal) Bread

The other day, I decided to try my hand at making applesauce as I had some apples that were past enjoyable eating stage...Well, I ended up making something more resembling baby food, so I think it will become dinner for our squirrels and such in our backyard. Needing to have a culinary success, I turned to an old stand-by of mine.

Here's a recipe that I've grown up with--both my mom and grandma used to make it! I did make a little substitution--quick cook oatmeal for the walnuts. Growing up, my brother was allergic to most nuts, so we just left them out of things. It took until only recently for me to put something in it's place, though. Also, I forgot it for this loaf, but I like to sprinkle a bit more oatmeal on the top of the loaf before baking--it looks so pretty when it's done! Knowing Dan and I when it comes to banana bread, this loaf probably won't make it past Monday!

Banana Nut/Oatmeal Bread

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar (or sucanat or turbinado for the real foodies!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. sour milk (I normally use regular milk and add a splash of vinegar, could also substitute some buttermilk or whey)
  • 2 c. flour (I use white whole wheat usually, but sprouted would be a better choice!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. ripe bananas (approx. 3), smashed
  • 1/4 c. walnuts or oatmeal, per preference/allergy concerns

1. Cream the butter/margarine together with the sugar. Mix in the eggs. Beat well.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to above, alternating additions with the smashed bananas.
3. Stir in nuts or oatmeal.
4. Pour into greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until done.

I normally make one larger-ish loaf and cook for about 55 minutes. It's just easier and I just pop my glass pan's lid on it after it's cooled. Enjoy!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A little R&R

Well, whether I like it or not, I have officially been forced to slow down this weekend. I have a most lovely cold that my body's in full swing of fighting off....too many hours of lost sleep up studying and doing other things these past couple of weeks. Thankfully, I did get through my Pediatrics test today, despite the maddeningly loud sniffs and drips. On to Emergency Medicine next weekend..oh joy.

Not that I mind relaxing, it's great to just slow down for a few days. However, I will miss my weekly salsa dancing. I learned when I was down in Mexico for language school a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. I love it because it's such great exercise (I was never in better shape as when I got back from Mexico!) and so much fun to work hard, learn to follow (never one of my strong suits), and finally nail a new step. Both myself and the girl in my class whom I go dancing with have colds, so unless something miraculous happens, it's bed and soup for us all weekend. Que was even the great band, Esperanza, playing this weekend...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Miss Mary

Moving to Maine was quite a change for both Dan and I. We grew up in the rural Midwest (or near Midwest, however you want to define it). Point being, it was rural and it was pretty conservative. I had always heard of people refer to New England as being liberal but I never really understood what they meant until I moved here. It is very liberal. My school was no exception and there have been a lot of things that that might come up in a clinical setting that we're expected to offer support and acceptance of. If nothing else, it's taught me to have a "wicked good," as they'd say up here, game face!

On the other hand, there are a few gems of getting things right that I've been able to extract from my experiences. Things that I'm not sure would be so greatly appreciated in the more main-stream way of doing things in the cities back home, one of which is integration. There's one thing that I adore, and that's symbiotism. It just feels right, like you're plugging into some level of how God created things to work. And the school has found a little niche for that in their program.

Our IGEP class (Integrated Geriatric Education Practicum--say that three times fast!) has been an example of this. The school has partnered with local assisted living facilities and nursing homes to provide us with "elder teachers." These senior citizens volunteer their time to be our "patients" on whom to practice our exam skills. It provides them with someone to come and visit them and focus on them, in an age, that unfortunately, shuffles all of it's elders away from the rest of the world. And for me, it has provided me with much needed practice and one of my staunchest cheer-leaders--Mary.