Monday, July 26, 2010

Life is a Journey

Pete Malone retired this year. It amazes me that it has been so long, and I have met enough new people, that someone reading this blog (who knows me as well, which should go without saying) might not know who that is.I retired from competitive swimming 5 years ago, after an 11 year career. Of that 11 years, Pete coached me for 9. I began his program as a shy, closed mouth, 13 year-old and finished it as an opinionated, vocal college graduate. I often joked that Pete was my second father; I spent more time with him at the pool than I did at home with my own family. With nearly 6 hours a day devoted to the sport, and 7 hours to school, I used my house for food and lodging. Pete and I fought like a teenager should with their father. And he also wanted only the best for me, like a father only wants the best for his daughter. He was like that with every kid he trained. He treated us like individuals, and treated us like a team. He coached many Olympians, is in the Swimming Hall of Fame, and built a little team in the Midwest into a well-known, feared competitor.

People often ask me how I keep it all together, with marriage, medical school, a kid, a kid on the way, etc. And I can't help but think of Pete and his constant remark, "Life is a journey, not a destination". If there is absolutely, one thing that man taught me, straight to my core, it's accountability. That one word, that one trait, that is how I keep it all together. I make every decision in my own life, and once made, I own that decision. I chose to quit all sports, except swimming in high school. It was hard, but it provided me a scholarship top 10 NCAA swimming program. I then chose to go to medical school. I chose to marry Matt. I chose to have children in the midst of all of this, so the only option left, is to make it all work! Accountability makes one confident. It makes one proud of every accomplishment, and reflective of every failure. It gives direction and breeds excellence. (I think accountability is why I blog so freely about my life. I stand by my decisions, and have no shame in sharing them.)

I have no idea where the next year will take me. I may have to uproot my family, make Matt find a new job, move to a foreign part of the country, all so I can work ridiculous hours. But this is our choice, and we will make it work, and we will be happy.

I can only hope that Pete has loved his journey, and is fulfilled with all he has accomplished. I cannot imagine the satisfaction in knowing that you have inspired, touched and influenced so many lives, so strongly. Because that satisfaction is completely deserved, as Pete has always been accountable for every one of his actions (whether it's throwing a clipboard on the ground in frustration at a young athlete, or accepting his inauguration into the Hall of Fame.) And if you had seen the turnout to his retirement party; attendance ranging from his most current elite athletes to those he trained back in the 70's, you'd see what a lifetime of achievement looks like. So, thank you Pete.

Happy retirement.

Friday, July 23, 2010

You Can't Deny It

As I sat in the airport, waiting for my flight home, I found myself using my stomach as an armrest. And as that arm rested, I felt it being pummeled by a little 1.5 pound baby, who obviously did not want it there. I have noticed, more and more, that baby 2.O responds immediately to my poking and prodding with fervent kicks. In fact, I really don't even need to poke or prod, the child just likes to thrash around for no reason; ALL THE TIME. I sometimes find myself doubting that only one child is residing in my uterus. Also, while sitting in the airport, I began to become a bit self conscious (which is a rare occurrence for me) and hoped no one was looking directly at my belly; for if they did, they might think an alien is trying to escape.

These two moments, coupled with the fact that everyone who sat next to me on my four flights asked when I was due, made me realize, I can no longer deny the baby bump. I am not just bloated. I am not short of breath because I am out of shape. I am not gaining weight because I have suddenly begun eating too much. I am actually carrying around a growing baby that is now 25 weeks old! Getting a big belly is unavoidable. I probably should have read the signs a few weeks ago, when I switched (nearly completely) to maternity clothing.

But denial makes things so much better. If I continue to deny that I have a baby smashing my stomach into my diaphragm, then perhaps this indigestion is temporary, might even be gone by tomorrow. Or, perhaps the aches in my back will be cured by one dose of Tylenol. And the restless legs will not keep me from falling asleep. Then again, feeling the kicks, seeing the photographic evidence of a growing belly, and the fact that I really do feel better then I ever did while pregnant with Brock, makes me really happy. And really excited to meet our new addition. And I can't deny it.

Click on image to view The Outtakes:
Nice, clean, beautiful photography comes with it's bumps in
the road as well, here are a few shots that didn't make the cut.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jorts, or Rollerskates...

...or being pregnant and outfitting both, which is the biggest faux-pas?
As we set out from cocktail hour at the O'Laughlin estate (because they don't serve alcoholic beverages at the roller-rink, rightly so) to SkateWorld, dressed in our jorts, a few thoughts came to mind on the topic of what to expect. None of us had been to a rollerskating rink since, umm, grade school? We wondered, would they still have couples skates? Ladies' skates? The limbo? Backwards skate? Has the music changed? We also thought, will we look silly in our ridiculous garb? Then, someone remembered that perhaps, recently, there may have been a shooting outside SkateWorld or some other local rink. As we pull up to the absolutely unchanged, unupdated building, behind a cop car mind you, a few things were confirmed immediately. Yes, if this place is being patrolled by a cop, there was probably a shooting, and we should probably be nervous. And two, I doubt if anyone will find our jean shorts, side ponies, socks and other garb to be odd or out of place.

Upon entering, we again were not disappointed by the nostalgia of it all, because NOTHING had changed! And though we spotted many people in jorts, and clothing significantly more interesting than ours, I still felt we stuck out like a sore thumb. Let's face it, you can't hide class, just like you can't hide trash - I am sure it's the hair and teeth that give it away. After skating a few laps, it was the "ladies' skate"! Then came the limbo (which Christin had a good chance of winning, until she got intimidated by the 8 year-old, 2 time champion, who told her that her had touched and she was actually time kid, lookout, we're just getting warmed up.)

The best part of it all, of course, came in the abundance of wonderful people-watching opportunities! Is the 50-something year old man, doing graceful prouette's in the middle of the floor a former figure-skater? ballerina? or just an avid rollerskater? Is the little old man, in the fastskin looking jammers practicing for his next speedskating competition? Is the Snoop Dog look-alike on something, or just really feeling the music? Which brings me to the one thing that did change, the music was updated! A bit of a disappointment, I was really hopping to hear "Kris Kross will make ya Jump, jump!"
Needless to say, we left our childhood skating rink, with a feeling of satisfaction. It's kind of nice to know that some things will always be there for our entertainment. A great idea for a birthday party, whether you are turning 27 (Matt) or 5. We also left with a feeling of aches and pains - at least I know I did. Pretty sure that night of rollerskating, launched me straight into the "pregnancy waddle" - I am hoping this is transient. I DO NOT remember it being that exhausting.

Lauren and Brad Cockrell
June 18th, 2010
Reception July 16th at the Simpson House
In other, perhaps less amusing, but probably more significant, news from the weekend, Matt and I attended lifelong friend, Lauren Frechin's reception on Friday evening. She and Brad got married in Germany, but had a beautiful little soiree back in Kansas City for close family and friends. Everything about it was so Lauren; beautiful and classic with a touch of spunk.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Last, but not Least.

I just received word that I have successfully completed all that is required from me as a third year medical student, which means...

...I am officially a 4th Year medical student!

To complete my final year, I take 2 national board exams. The first one is the PE, where they test my clinical skills and grade me on patient interactions. I take this on Thursday, July 22nd. The second is Step 2 COMLEX - another written, long, hard exam. I take this on Friday, August 13th! Hoping for reverse luck on that one.

I then complete ERAS, an online system that compiles all the information I will be sending to the residency programs for which I am applying. Then, hopefully, I get granted a few interviews that will take place from November thru January. Then, I wait patiently until the middle of March to find out if I matched anywhere. Nope, not a stressful process, whatsoever. Will I get an interview? Will I get ranked? Will I have to move in July? I take it a day at a time, really all that can be done for now.

Oh, and I am planning on becoming an OB/Gyn.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Weekender

To and from St. Louis is about 4 hours, house to house. We can usually count on Brock to be fine for the first 20 minutes, then fight sleep for about 10 minutes, then sleep for 2 hours, leaving about and hour and a half to try and entertain and appease the confined child. These 1.5 hours can seem like a lifetime sometimes, but not this weekend! Brock behaved perfectly. Perhaps he is beginning to learn there is no use complaining while strapped in a car seat. Or maybe it was dumb luck - either way, it was nice.

We visited Grant's Farm which is owned and run by the Busch family - creator's of the Budweiser empire. Here we enjoyed some train riding, animal watching, goat feeding, kettle corn & sno cone eating as well as beer sampling (Matt only). I, of course, was only interested in the Clydesdales. Wow. They are huge, magnificent, cute animals.

When I say we ate, we ate good. Imo's Pizza, Amighetti's, baked goods from the Hill, Ted Drew's and Pappy's Smokehouse BBQ. To give you an idea about how amazing these places are, we saw 2 wedding parties at Ted Drew's and the line was out the door of Pappy's.

Of course we made a stop at the Arch. Brock hardly paid attention to the massive structure, he preferred the stairs to the river bank and pushing his own stroller.

Matt's Aunt Mary Lynne was gracious enough to open her house to us for the weekend! We had a nice comfy bed to sleep in, and plenty of options for spots to park Brock's bed. Though Brock had a rough first night, he quickly caught up on sleep with a 12 hour night on Saturday. Which, I am not sure how he could sleep in so long with the scent of bacon wafting down the stairs. We woke up to fresh breakfast both mornings, I couldn't be more appreciative. And on top of great accomodations, we had fun with extended family we don't always get to see: Thomas & Claire, as well as, Tim & Kathy joined us on Friday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Eye of the Beholder

My sister returned my son to me this afternoon, after a day at the zoo. I ask her how he behaved, and she replies, "I am really sorry Erin, I almost lost your son today." Perhaps this comment would upset most mothers, but me? Nope, I am not surprised, nor bothered by this statement in the least. He IS my son afterall, and I know how he is. In fact, I would have been utterly shocked if she said the excursion was uneventful. Apparently, while he was eating popcorn out of the wagon (as he had been doing all morning) she thought it safe to turn around and place a quarter in the machine to retrieve some goat feed. How long does that take? 15, 20 seconds, tops? Well, just long enough for a toddler, well-practiced in the art of running, to disappear from sight. She goes on to say, "I always thought those little backpack leash devices for children were just ridiculous, but Brock makes me rethink this invention."

In every mother's eyes, their child is perfect. I would change nothing about Brock, nothing. But I have come to realize, that had he been born to a "lazy" mother, she might describe him as a difficult child. I am defining a lazy mother, as one who would rather sit and play, or read, or whatnot. One who when outside would rather just stroll along, or when at the park, would prefer to sit on the bench and observe as their child plays. One who would like the option of letting the kid out of their sight for less than 30 seconds knowing their little one will not have strayed more than 3 feet. And if the toddler were to wander, they'd hope it would become worried and turn around within, I don't know, a house length/ 15 yards or so. This is a perfectly acceptable "mother type" to be differentiated from a neglectful mom - which is absolutely not tolerated.

Fortunately, my high energy son, was provided with a high energy mother (all the time, except during pregnancy). For he does not turn around after 15 yards, nor 30, nor even 50 most of the time (further distances have yet to be tested...) And if he thinks you are following him, then it turns into a dead sprint to get away, and you have no option but to chase, because you never know when far is too far for him. And usually there is a street that hits before the limit of his comfort zone. He will generally play well at a playground, but eventually, curiosity gets the better of him, and off to wandering, or drinking from other mother's coffee mugs, or trying to open other people's car doors. He does have moments of "quiet play" but this usually just means he is tired. That child is either full steam ahead or down for the count. Being used to his antics, I consider him to be a very well-behaved, wonderful son. Even when his adventuresome attitude result in near heart attacks for mom.

{Photos from January of 2010}
While shopping in Gymboree one afternoon, I was waiting in the checkout line, as Brock played on the little chairs they have set up in front of a TV showing children's programs. I could only see his feet, but I watched them near continually. I sincerely don't remember ever turning my sight from him, but it must have happened, because I suddenly realized, those were not Brock's shoes. I hopped out of line, walked back to the area, saw him nowhere, adrenaline pumping, chest palpitations and all, then began to panic. The doors to the store were wide open, and lead straight to the street/parking lot. As I beeline it toward the doors, I see a woman holding Brock's hand attempting to guide him back into the store, she smiles and says, "Oh, is he yours? I found him about to step into the street." She might as well have said, "So, you're the irresponsible, unfit mother, letting your 18 month old wander on his own?" I apologetically admit to him being mine, and she adds, "I totally understand, my son does the same thing; my daughter won't leave my side, but he could care less." I was shocked and relieved. Shocked because I didn't know people like that still existed, especially in Johnson County. (My last visit to this shopping center, someone called the cops on a mom who left her van parked outside Gap with her 2 children in it while she ran into a store in the pouring rain - not that I think it's a good idea, nor would I ever do this, but it's not my business, why get authorities involved?) Relieved because I had found my son.

What I am trying to say, is the more I think about it, the more I realize that child-rearing is all in the eye of the beholder. What seems like an exhausting, ill-behaved child to one, can be considered just a curious, highly-active child to another.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Four for the 4th.

Amazing that, with a four day weekend, including dynamite inspired entertainment and a family of boys sporting mullets, our most eventful moment was provided by our Italian Greyhound. Tater HATES fireworks. He is absolutely terrified by them, and will just run away (or try to jump into the back of a tinted, close windowed 4runner, only to be met by the stark reality that glass is, in fact, impermeable). We knew this. We took him with us to the farm anyways, where there is always an over abundance of pyromaniac boys and endless boxes of fireworks. We thought he was safely curled up under a towel in the back of the 4runner (the only un-American-made vehicle in attendance; at least it's an SUV). We were wrong. Tater had managed to escape. Where to?? That was anyone's guess.

The pond where we set up camp for the day is surrounded by acre, upon acre, upon acre, upon acre of open fields of 3 foot grass which eventually opens up to a highway that, as evidenced by the road kill every quarter mile or so, is no place for a little rat dog. So, Brock, Tali and I set off to walk the path back to the farmhouse, in case our dim-witted canine friend, had a moment of logic and chose to travel in the correct direction toward safety. Matt was driving back to the farmhouse, as this errand was the reason we even noticed Tater's disappearance, so he would be checking the highway. As I walk with Brock on my shoulder's calling Tater's name and making kissing noises, Tali leaps through the grass seeming to understand our mission and Brock just continually asks with upturned hands "where's Tater" and attempts to make kissing sounds himself.

After walking a good 1/3rd of a mile, my sister pulls up next to us with the car and offers her services. We get in, and decide it best to drive back to the house, then work our way backwards. Well, we arrive, and there you have it. We find Tater comfortably curled up in the backseat of the 4runner, as if nothing out of the ordinary has transpired. Apparently, about a mile or so down the road, Matt discovered our panicked, little greyhound running in the middle of the highway! Guess he figured his best odds of being seen for a tiny, black dog, is running on a black road. Yet again, Tater amazes us that he has survived these 5 years on earth. And thank goodness this little fiasco did not put a damper in any of the daily activities:

Never again will that animal be joining us for fireworks. But let's hope the mullets, coveralls, hillbilly golf, horseshoes, fishing, food, fireworks, family, fun and various facial hair styles make a regular appearance.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's a....

...BABY!We had our 2nd sonogram today, exactly 22 weeks. This is the one where you can potentially find out whether "it" is actually a "he" or "she", but for now, 2.O will remain an "it". Though, the fact that the baby was measuring with a normal size head, in roughly the 40% for size (almost 1 lbs) and had a heart rate of 133 - I am going girl. So, according to my mother's intuition will be having a girl on November 5th, weighing 8 lbs 1 oz. Though, that undeniable trend of boys puts a damper in my confidence, this it my story and I am sticking to it.

The baby never stopped moving for the Sono, and is waving hello! It is always so fun to put a face to all those spastic movements. And also quite a relief put to rest any concerns about deformities, hernias, missing or dysfunctional organs, missing limbs, fingers, toes, etc. Baby 2.O is as healthy as a horse. Just the way I like it.

Look out world (but mainly, Brock, Tali & Tater) - appears we've got another wild one on our hands!