Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I didn't grow up celebrating Halloween.

I do remember trick-or-treating once, maybe twice, when I was very little, 3 or 4.

And then we never went again. My parents felt it was not a holiday they wanted to celebrate. And that was fine, and I never minded.

(Although I did go trick-or-treating with my cousins when I was 15.)

However, for my own children, I love Halloween. I love carving pumpkins. I love lighting candles and making little tissue ghosts.

But what I love most is dressing my boys up in ridiculously cute costumes and parading them around in public. There is no other time of the year it is acceptable to do that. (There is also no other time it is acceptable to wander around in public wearing a tiara, either.)

This year, the festivities started with a Halloween parade at Roman's school. This is still new for me. I debated whether I should go, or get started on my paper. I decided to go. It turns out it was a good thing I did. The school was packed, music going, most of the adults dressed up as well. It would have looked bad if I had been the only parent within the school boundaries that didn't go. And there is no better reward than seeing your boy's face light up when he sees you in the crowd.

Roman at his school costume parade

Roman decided to be a cowboy this year. It says something that we have enough dress-up to put the costume together without buying anything. (I'm not sure what it says. Maybe that we've been a family for a while.)

Doesn't he make an extremely good-looking cowboy?

Stick 'em up!

My boys, the cow-pokes

Blaise was going to be a bee, and wear his costume from last year, since it still fit and there is not reason (other than wanting to) to buy a new costume every year. However, when Blaise saw us bring the bee costume out, he starting crying and saying that he only wanted to wear a cowboy hat. After the morning spent in the black sweats for his bee costume, we relented and let him be a cowboy.

We always go trick-or-treating at Keith's work and then at the mall. These are both safe places to wander around with our little kids, and are immune from the unpredictable weather of late October.

Keith, Roman, and Blaise
Ready for trick-or-treating!

The boys enjoy it, at least at first. But inevitably, Roman gets tired of walking. And Blaise gets plain tired.

I'm not sure,
but something is telling me
we are done trick-or-treating,
and it's time to go home.

I don't think it is exciting as door-to-door, but it is an efficient way to get candy.

And even though it is not as much candy as I remember getting when I was very little, it is PLENTY!


This next month is technically my research month.

I'm doing a project about attitudes among the Navajo about diabetes, and the resources available.

Cliffs south of Moab

I know. Very exciting.

Actually it is. However, I think that this month is more a cleverly disguised way to spend some time with my dad and have time to travel for interview. Genius!

My first week on the Navajo reservation was rather exciting. I had some excellent interviews for my project.

And I helped deliver a baby! It honestly can't get much better.

The down side is time away from my family. And I think I hate that more than anything. But Keith is doing a great job holding everyone and everything together. Just like he always does.

I won't bore anyone with all the details about my project. I try to save that to do in person.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have to wonder how my Gmail knows me so well.

When I was reading my email, a quote came across the top:

"Indecision may or may not be my problem."
-Jimmy Buffett

This may be the best quote to describe myself. Or not. I'll keep looking.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crazy, Hectic Interview Schedule

With my first interview for residency just a few weeks away, and multitudes of them lined up before hand, I thought I should send an update about how things are going.

First things first: I think I was a little over-zealous about applying. Everyone scares you with the idea that you won't match anywhere, and you will have to scramble, and therefore should apply to 100+ programs, even if it means you won't have the money left to actually travel to any of them.

(Don't worry, I will explain that match process and the scramble and all those delicious details at a later date. So patience...)

I didn't quite go so overboard. I applied to 25 programs: 17 anesthesiology programs and 8 transitional years (remember, a transitional year is the required year of additional training I have to complete before I can start my
anesthesia training.) T

he problem is this: I have interviews at nearly all the programs. And there is no way I have the time (or more importantly, the money!) to travel to nearly 25 places around the country in a 3 month period.
So I have to cut it down to a reasonable amount. For me, that means 10 anesthesiology programs (not including Utah, since that doesn't cost anything other than a day that could be spent interviewing elsewhere.), and 6 transitional years.

Here are the programs I'm scheduled to interview at so far: Utah, University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina, Loma Linda, University of California San Diego, University of Virginia,
Vanderbilt, University of Iowa, University of Colorado, San Antonio, University of Texas Southwestern, Virginia Mason (Seattle), and Oregon Health and Science University. (I also have transitional year interviews at Utah, Colorado, Virginia Mason, and Arrowhead in Southern California). And roughly in that order as well.

If I'm counting right, that is thirteen programs. Which already puts me over my limit, and I haven't heard from 3 programs.

Needless to say, this is just a little stressful. You feel so happy to have an interview, that someone actually wants you, that it is hard to say no.

But, methodically, thoughtfully, and painfully, that is what I have to do.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I realized this week how much I love it when I get comments on my blogs. (Okay, this particular blog doesn't really get any comments). When I sign in, and see a comment, I get excited to see who it was and what they said. And it never gets old.

I think the best part is not necessarily what is said (although, don't get me wrong, I enjoy the feedback). No, the best part is that someone actually read what I wrote. That I put myself out there. And it got noticed.

After all, anyone who blogs regularly knows that a lot of thought goes into each post. What topic to cover, what pictures to add, and how to make it interesting. After all that effort, it is satisfying to have the acknowledgment that it was noticed.

I read a lot of blogs. I don't put myself out there as much as other "writers" do. After reviewing some of the topics I've covered in this blog, I realize that I don't come off as thoughtful or insightful. Maybe I haven't become brave enough yet.

It's a work in progress.

I've also realized that while I wish I was funnier, more clever, wittier, and thought-provoking, I'm just me.

And that's also a work in progress.

So, hopefully with time, this blog will continue to grow with me.

And please, continue to comment.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Memory Park

So, I decided to break away from my routine of going up Mill Creek Canyon every time I want to escape the valley, and took the boys to City Creek Canyon.

(Okay, the real reason I went to City Creek/Memory Grove is that I wanted horse chestnuts for decoration at home, but the boys didn't know that.)

I have to say, that although it is technically a canyon, and there is a "creek," it doesn't feel like getting out of the canyon. There were tons of people with the dogs, bikers, joggers, a wedding, and a multitude of photography sessions going on. You can also see the capitol building dome over the tops of the trees, and houses on the ridges that overlook the canyon.

Capitol Dome, as seen from Memory Park

But regardless, it is a beautiful park.

City Creek

City Creek with fall leaves

The stream once again provided plenty of opportunity for Blaise to participate in his favorite activity of throwing things in water.

Blaise, busy with his favorite activity

Blaise, sitting at the side of City Creek

Isn't he getting good looking?

The monuments are beautiful to look at.

Roman, sitting on the steps of one of the memorials

And it is a very pleasant walk, strolling through the trees. Even with Blaise running back to grab my leg every time a dog ran past us.

Walking along the fall trail

Oh, and we got plenty of chestnuts!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Teen Books

I know. You think that with eight years of post high school education, I would enjoy a philosophical, though-provoking book. And it's not that I don't. It's just that I prefer something less strenuous. And something that is completely different than my life. It's what I call brain candy.

And I just finished the most delightful serving.

I admit that I hadn't heard of Libba Bray. And apparently neither have any of my friends, even the ones who actually read the Twilight series. But I think that this series could be easily as popular as Twilight. (Especially since they are making a movie!)

After I read the Twilight books, I found that I didn't have anything I wanted to read. I spent time on LibraryThing and Shelfari, looking for "what should I read next." And nothing stood out. Until I read a review about one of Libba Bray's books.

"This series will appeal to lovers of Jane Austen's novels,
along with older female readers of Harry Potter."

Okay, now I had to read it. I've never read a description that so accurately describes the books I loved.

The books are A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. Most of the titles are lines from classic poetry. And the cover art is some of the most beautiful I have seen.

I'm not going to give anything about the plot away, in case you were worried.

The triology, set in 1890s, features sixteen year old Gemma, who moves to London to attend finishing school. However, she is haunted by a secret that she doesn't understand and that threatens to destroy her and everyone she cares about.

These books explore not only the magic and power surrounding Gemma (yes they are fantasy), but also the twisting, complicated psyche of the female teenager. Although the writing is lacking in appropriate period figures of speech and language, the story not only explores the fantasy world, but the social pressures and expectations of females, at that time and today. Issues of race, class, and self-identity are discussed.

Libba Bray also brings to the surface a multitude of issues that young girls face, not just then, but today. She mixes these issues throughout her characters, and they alway come to surface just when you least expect it (and in the character you least expect.) And you realize: everyone has a secret.

Gemma, who desires to be her own person, still desires to be beautiful and wanted. She can be frustrating, doing things against her better judgment because of her friends. And then she can be amazing, turning against the most stringent social pressures. She can be very immature and the next second, make the best decision.

These books are a wonderful read for any girl that felt she didn't fit in, that there was something about her that made her different from the girls around her. For every girl that remembers how confusing being a teenager could be, and how hard it can be to separate out what you want and what everyone around you wants.


There is nothing more iconic to the fall season than fall leaves. And nothing speaks to my childhood memories of fall more than playing in them.

And now, since I'm a mom, there is nothing that make me happier than seeing my beautiful boys making some of the same memories that I have.



Being apartment dwellers (yuck), we don't technically have a yard. There is a shared common area of between the buildings, which works great for a little bubble blowing, ball kicking, and parachute man throwing. (Well, that is, until the other apartment dwelling children come out and take my kids toys away.)

However, we are "lucky" enough to live next to a church that has a huge parking lot that is empty 6 1/2 days out of the week. There is also a small area of grass. This area is perfect for bike riding. Very few cars ever come through the parking lot, so there is no yelling at the boys to "get out of the way."

The boys on their bikes

Roman riding his bike

Blaise on his "bike"

Blaise loves the sound of the leaves crunching under the wheels

Just look at that tongue!

Yes, Blaise has a tricycle, not just the riding toy that he is using in the pictures above. But his feet don't reach the tricycle pedals (after all, he is two, and riding a tricycle is a skill developed at three years of age. So no pressure.) Roman has gotten very good at riding his bike, and through the whole learning process got away with much fewer scrapes than I remember getting. I can wait until I have a bike to ride with Roman down the Jordan River Walkway (sigh).

since, like I mentioned before, the church is being abandoned most of the time, it is also perfect for playing in large piles of neglected leaves.

Jumping in the leaves together

More jumping

Now that looks like fun!

When Dad gets home, he joins us in playing in the leaves. Well, that is until the boys gang up, and use their huge leaf pile as arsenal. And I joined in too.

Unfortunately, a lawn maintenance company came by the next day, and now the leaves are gone. But at least we enjoyed them while we could.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By Popular Demand

Due to the amazing reception and popular demand (yes, 2 out of 3 is still a majority), I'm going to post some of the best pumpkins from past years.

I'm going to start with mine, because the best should always be saved for last.

So, as I mentioned before, I tend to get stuck in a rut, and do something extremely girly. Such as a flower.

Pumpkin 2005: Butterfly

Pumpkin 2005: Hawaiian Flowers
This is the same pumpkin as the butterfly carving,
just the other side

Pumpkin 2006: Rose
(From Pumpkin Lady)

This next pumpkin is the one I'm most proud of, for multiple reasons. First, I made the stencil myself from a photograph I took. And second, these are Blaise's baby feet, and is there anything cuter?

Pumpkin 2007: Baby Feet

So now, let's get to the really good stuff. All the rest are done with Keith. Unfortunately, none of these stencils are available online anymore, due to that copyright image I mentioned earlier. So this is the only way to enjoy them.

Yes, we do have a thing for Pixar, in case you were wondering...

Pumpkin 2006: Lightnin' McQueen (from Cars)

Pumpkin 2005: Mike Wazowski (from Monsters Inc.)

Pumpkin 2007: Spiderman

I saved my favorite for last...

Pumpkin 2006: Superman

I would love to know what pumpkin is everyone's favorite (including this years and my siblings pumpkins).

Hope you have as much fun looking at these as we did carving them.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Our pumpkins having been safely brought home from the pumpkin patch, now the next step begins. I would like to call it a carving contest. But let's be honest, it really is no contest. Keith definitely has the upper hand in this area.

We always carve the boys' pumpkins first. Roman, now that he is older, always designs his own. He draws out what he wants on paper. He then draws it on his pumpkin with marker. And then, I cut it out for him. Roman is the only one who seems to want to do anything that is traditional Halloween for his pumpkin.

Blaise, hard at work on his pumpkin

Roman, showing off his handiwork

Roman's finished jack-o'-lantern

We always try to choose something cute for Blaise, something we think he will like. Keith usually ends up doing this pumpkin as well, since cute usually means a little complicated as well. This year, it's a lion. (Okay, maybe not "cute," but definitely Blaise.)

Blaise's pumpkin: a lion

Close up of Blaise's (well, Keith's) lion

Every year, my indecisiveness makes itself known, since I can never decide what to carve on my pumpkin. For the last several years, after hours wasted on the internet looking at pumpkin stencils, I always fall into default mode and carve a flower. This year, I branched out into another direction: art. Thus, Mona Lisa. Or at least, an attempt of Mona Lisa.

My pumpkin: Mona Lisa

Keith is the "master carver" in our house. He has more patience and attention to detail that I do. Every year, Keith tries to see if he can challenge himself. After some of the best pumpkin stencils were taken off the web due to some copyright technicality, we thought we wouldn't be able to find any more decent stencils. But there still are some, hidden in obscure places.

Here are the steps of developing a masterpiece jack-0'-lantern:

Step 1: Find the perfect stencil
This year, it comes from Stoneykins. This Jack Sparrow pattern was perfect.

This is what the stencil looks like when it is printed

Step 2: Transfer the pattern to the pumpkin, and carve, carve, carve. Keith estimates he spent 6 hours transferring the pattern (punching holes along the edges of the pattern) and then carving the pattern out.

This is what the pumpkin will look like when the carving is done.
(Or what it can look like if you are good at it)

Step 3: Light up! You always wonder how the pumpkin will look like after all that time spent carving. And you never know, until you light the candle.

Keith's pumpkin: Captain Jack Sparrow

Close up of Keith's pumpkin
The detail in the face is impressive

Every year, the pumpkins keep getting better. Keith is no longer allowed to say that he is not artistic. I mean, just look at what he make with a knife and a pumpkin!

(If anyone wants me to post pictures of pumpkins from previous years, just let me know.)