Tuesday, December 28, 2010

White Christmas

For the first time in a long time, that I can remember, we had ourselves a White Christmas. Now granted, the snow didn't really get going until the evening of the 25th, but hey, that counts!

Greensboro and the surrounding areas (meaning most of the Carolinas) were blanketed with 4-8inches of powdery white goodness, turning our normally nondescript neighborhood into a winter wonderland.  By the time we went to bed, we had a solid half-foot in the yard and on the cars.

Nice wet snow and below freezing temps gave us good accumulation and plenty of snow sticking to bushes and tree limbs. We got up early on Sunday morning and were the first people in the neighborhood to go tramping down the sidewalk (I mean, who else gets up at 6:15 on the day after Christmas?). We bundled up in our snowsuits and had a jolly time tramping through the powder, watching Dean run around like a ninny. I think he has a different gear that he reserves for bunnies and fresh powder, and the gleeful expression on his face would make you swear he's a heli-skiier. He also likes to eat snowballs, which is good, because Jack and I like to throw them, and we make a good team.

We also got to build a snowman, which despite the protests of some other household inhabitants, I insisted we do before Sunday was over, even if that meant suiting up at 5pm to catch the last half-hour of light. It took some cajoling to get Jack out the door, but once he was out in the snow he didn't want to come in. All in all, we are one goulish snowman and several great snowdays richer this Christmas.


Dean, Ghost Dog of the North

Monday, December 27, 2010

Jack in the Box

Jack had the most fun this year with a cast off container of another present - I had forgotten just how much fun a big empty cardboard box could be. But fortunately for us Gran remembered!

Christmas was surprisingly fun and low stress this year. It is just so much fun having kids, because they add a dimension and dynamic that you seem to lose a little more with each year, and they just bring it right back. Jack in particular had a great time, really getting into the presents and santa and hugging new relatives and taking ornaments off the Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The many faces of ourselves

I cannot stop looking at my children. It's like a drug.  I adore their faces.  Caroline, though not even 5 months old, has some of the most intricate expressions. And while she's generally amused, she does have a pretty good range from joyous to silly to peeved to anxious to sad to bewildered to just plain mad.  She even has The Look (i.e. the face I apparently give to the males in my house when I am not pleased with their current activity or conversational pursuits).

Yeah, kind of like that one

The ladies at daycare were remarking on The Look just last week when she very clearly wanted to be held and they were too busy to do it.  Ms Kim got it for approximately an hour which clearly distressed her given that most of her other daily clients are little balls of blubbery baby without much emotive radiation except smiling, sleeping, or crying. She was just not used to such complex imagery on the face of a babe.


And Jack, well, watching that kid's face is like watching VH1's pop up video.  His thoughts stream onto his face in real time and as his mental processes have become more complex, so too have his expressions.  It is wondrous to see pure, and often concentrated, emotion orchestrated by the 50+ muscles of the human face.  He often peppers in sound to complete the symphony in a humorously simple way.  His pout is heart wrenching, his anger is infuriating, his laugh is infectious, and his joy makes angels sing and flowers bloom. 

 Even when he sleeps, his sweet little brow furrows and lifts like a silent movie screen.  Recently, with the nearing of his second birthday, a new reckoning is dawning...mischievous defiance.  And I think this is perhaps one of the hardest parts of parenting to date for me.  He knows his smile can melt me into an accepting puddle in milliseconds and he has combined it with an ever so slight twinkle and tilt of his head that I simply cannot resist reciprocating with a permagrin.  Problem is, he uses said expression when his arm is outstretched towards the thing he knows he should not be touching in a strange game of Stop Me If You Have The Cajones.


I wish I could capture him on video so I could keep it forever because I know too soon it will be replaced with the self consciousness of adolescence, the snarl of the teenage years, or the masked facies (no, Matilda, that's not a typo...look it up) that all good adults learn to effect.  Unfortunately, he is neither still enough nor cooperative enough to allow such a recording so it will forever have to be imprinted on my own personal internal movie reel.


I wonder if all parents feel this overwhelming desire to watch their children. Is it an instinctual thing to ensure their safety or more of a fascination with another human that looks eerily similar to myself and Matilda?  Perhaps it's just because I don't want to miss any second of their lives and given how fast the first two years have gone by, I am almost afraid to blink.


I've met a few people recently who never had children and as my little family sat on the floor tonight, laughing about stuffed animals and Sissy's newly discovered ability to roll over, I couldn't help but think how much they are missing out on. For me, there is no comparable happiness like my son crawling up into my lap to hug me around the neck and say "Luff you." And catching glimpses of my husband, my father, and many other beloved family members in the expressions of my children warms a very central part of my soul by reassuring me that life and love are both continuous and contiguous and we all leave a very meaningful and lasting legacy in the hearts and on the faces of these beautiful children we create.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Calling

I have been at my new job in private practice for about 6 weeks now.  I've taken over for an incredibly well-respected physician who retired after 30+ in practice and his patient base is both loyal and skeptical of a young new whippersnapper. Most of my visits have been routine physicals and follow ups where half of the time is spent convincing them to give me a chance.  Surprisingly, it hasn't been as hard of a sell as I thought, given that word of mouth spreads fast in this town and I managed to win over just enough of the die-hards that the rest of them are mostly convinced before they get their gown-clad rear on the paper-covered table.  I'm absolutely loving private practice where patients, for the most part, care about their health and want to be active participants in their own lives.  But today was a banner day for me.

My last patient of the morning (let's call him Bob) was scheduled for fatigue. That's one of the top dreaded chief complaints for all physicians, right up there with chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, and insomnia.  When I saw him on my schedule listed as "severe fatigue for >1year" I wanted to make like a tree and leaf the building.  I was running 15min behind already and my rumbling tummy could already smell the food in the lounge. Plus, glancing at his chart, he'd already seen his cardiologist, his pulmonologist, his urologist, and his gastroenterologist for this same complaint and each of them had done very extensive workups that were all, mostly, negative.  So, obviously, walking in to see a 65 year old man who had seen 4 specialists already with no diagnosis thus far, I wasn't feeling terribly confident that I, the newbie, was going to have much luck. And he admitted to me when I first walked in the room pretty much that same sentiment. But strangely enough, within about 3 minutes, I got the flavor that this guy was depressed.  It wasn't obvious - he's a jokster and was very upbeat, but there was something about the way he looked at me when I asked him, "How's your mood been lately?" that set off my internal Warning!-bullshit-ahead bell.  I pressed a little harder and he shrugged off most of my questions with jokes until finally I said, "Bob, I think you're depressed.  That's why you're so worn out."  He thought about that for a long minute before he started to tear up and very quietly said, "Dr Shaw, I've thought that for a very long time but was too afraid to tell anyone."  I then asked him if he'd ever thought about killing himself and he said, "I am a gun collector. I had over 150 guns in my house. I got rid of them this month because I was going to use them to blow my head off but I think about killing myself all the time...I can't believe you asked me that.  Thank you."   Well knock me over with a feather.  We made a plan to start him on an antidepressant and contracted a safety plan for when he starts to have the suicidal thoughts. We shook hands on it and I walked him to the door when he turned to me and said slowly, deliberately, with emphasis on each word (and I'll never forget this for all the days of my life) "Dr Shaw, you're going to be my doctor."  And, as this very large burly man that smelled of Old Spice and woodsmoke hugged me, he whispered "And I think you just saved my life."  Well if that doesn't make my 23yrs of education worth it, I don't know what does.

As if I didn't get the message then that being a doctor is truly my calling, my nurse grabbed me as I was rushing out of the office at 5:45pm late to pick up my kids to say that a lady I had seen last week called from her hospital room to thank me for saving her life.  She had wanted me to call her in an antibiotic because she was convinced she had bronchitis like she gets every winter but I declined and asked her to come in for a visit because I didn't like the way she was describing her symptoms.  Fortunately she did come in and sure enough she was rather pissed, at first, that I was making a big deal out of her chest pain and not just giving her the antibiotic she was sure she needed.  She grumbled all the way to the CT scanner until the radiologist informed both her and me of her massive evolving pulmonary embolism. She called me from her ICU bed to say thank you.

I was born to be a mother and a wife and a doctor.  And, as difficult as each of those jobs can be, both individually but also in combination, I could not ask for a better life than this one that I've living.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Out-takes from Christmas Card 2010 Photo Shoot #1

If you can't tell from the title of this post, tonight's attempt at capturing the perfect photo for the 2010 Little Shaw's Christmas Card did not go as well as planned. We got some good shots, but nothing that quite lives up to the standard set last year. It was hard to get this light right, with the tree and the lamps and the windows, and those little buggers move fast. We'll try again tomorrow, and let you know how it goes.

First we tried a couple of Olin Mills arrangements, just for the auld lang syne. The result was about what we anticipated - cute, but a little contrived. Although you can't quite tell it in every shot, I think Caroline is more of a ham than Jack (I mean, she's definitely chubbier, but I meant a camera-ham).

This shot was a contender. You'll just have to wait a few weeks to see what shows up in your mailbox. How long until Christmas??

Some of the real outtakes. Our kids are pretty darn funny sometimes, just not at the same time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Will you marry me?

As you can see from The Adventures of Dean Dog, Matilda has gone hunting in South Dakota for 5 days.  Admittedly, when he first decided to go on this trip, I was none too happy with him.  A 22 month old in the throws of his No! phase, a new nursing baby girl not yet 4 months, and a brand new job with call and after hours meetings and I was not too excited to be a single parent for 120 hours.  As a peace offering, he managed to convince Nana to come stay for most of the time to help me out and what a peace-maker that has been. We've been having a wonderful time, mostly because I have now experienced what it's like to be a husband.  When I got home from work, the house was clean, my bed was made, and dinner was on the table.  She even got the kids bathed, cleaned the kitchen, and made me coffee and cake as a pre-bedtime snack.  And Jack is beside himself happy.  He even forgets and calls her Mommy periodically, which would bother me except that it means he's letting me have a moment of peace and I just can't be jealous for that. 

No wonder men resisted women's rights for so long.  Having a wife is Won. Der. Ful!!  
Will you marry me, Nana?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ego Wall

We're making progress on the "office credibility" front...

Thanks to Mom for getting all of this stuff framed for me!

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