Friday, February 25, 2011

A Judah Update.

I felt the need for a slightly happier, less serious post up here. Hence a post about my sweet boy.
As much as I love the baby stage, as we're getting closer to the toddler stage he just gets more fun. Today was glorious. After Bible study this morning, we came home, ate lunch and then went out to enjoy the beautiful weather. We went on a long walk to a pond with some geese - Judah was enthralled - and then the playground. It has taken Judah a few times, but I think he's finally coming around to enjoying the swings. He was laughing and giggling the whole time. As you can see, I felt the need to take off his pants. The weather was so nice that I wanted him to enjoy it. And what better way to enjoy the sun than by not wearing pants?

He is also getting more and more communicative. I have been trying to teach him the sign for "all done" that involves just raising his hands. Instead, he will very vigorously flap his arms for all he's worth to tell me he's finished. I have also been using the traditional sign for "more", but he has adapted this as well. Instead of putting his hands together, he will shove the back of his hand into his mouth. Which, when you think about it, is actually more logical. As in "I want to put more stuff in here, ma, so give me that banana."

He also is getting good at giving hugs. He loves to hug onto my legs when I'm working in the kitchen. His current favorite game, which has replaced "door," is one we call "Lucy." This game involves an unwitting dog who just walks being all dog like which Judah takes for her playing with him. He'll laugh hysterically then try to hide in my neck. Then look at the dog as she walks by again and do it all over. It's wonderful.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What is wrong with medicine.

This photo helps capture part of what is wrong with medicine today. I got what I am calling a little love note from our coding specialists at the hospital today:
What is a coding specialist you ask? Let me explain. There is an endless game played by insurance companies and hospitals. The insurance companies and government want to pay as little as possible. The hospitals want to make as much money as they can. Insurance companies and the government therefore have all these rules about how they will pay for this diagnosis but not that one. The people who make decisions about these rules are definitely not doctors. Hospitals therefore do everything they can to make sure they get all the possible money for each admission. For instance:

Any doctor would understand that urosepsis means someone who is very seriously ill with systemic symptoms stemming from a bladder or kidney infection. But those who will pay have decided that if you call something "urosepsis" it means just a basic UTI. You have to write "sepsis due to UTI" as well as "UTI" to make sure you get paid to take care of your critically ill patient. Similarly, you can't just write "CHF" for heart failure, but you have to specify "acute systolic heart failure." Of course none of these words mean much to any of you.

All that to say that I never get it right. I am forever leaving off whatever specifier I need to and usually I am left green notes that say things like "Dr. Tell - Is this malignant hypertension that was present on admission? If so, please document."

So now we have numerous people whose actual job it is to go around and read the charts and make sure that I write "acute blood loss anemia" instead of just "anemia." This means more people we have to pay which means higher health care costs. Don't get me wrong - I am very thankful for these ladies and was especially happy to see such a lovely note in my chart. It is just sad that we are forced to spend so much time and money doing things like this, as opposed to using those resources taking care of patients.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


My friend Rebecca wrote a great post about infertility that has me thinking.

One of the hardest parts about infertility for me are the feelings of shame and inadequacy I struggled with. Children are (rightly) viewed as a blessing by the Christian community. It is easy to talk about how wonderful kids are, and how happy you are to be pregnant. These are all true and good things.

What doesn't get talked about nearly as much in church is the pain and sadness that comes along with not getting children. Obviously, it's a touchy subject since it involves the most private parts of marriage. But when we were in the midst of our struggle to get pregnant, deep down I just felt ashamed and sorrowful. I feel that it's likely that these feelings were mostly coming from me and the way that I often forget that I am valued because I was made in God's image. Because I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

And not, as I am prone to believe, because of something I have done or not done.

But it wasn't until after we told people that we were having a hard time getting pregnant that slowly, out of the woodwork, I'd hear from other women who had struggled with the same issues. It's like there was a secret club and I'd finally been allowed in. I know that it is hard to talk about it. It is not fun to revisit those painful feelings. But I also know that no matter what happens in our child-bearing future, I want God to use the pain and sadness for his glory. I think for me, in the midst of my struggle, that is what encouraged me - that somehow this would all be for his glory and for my good. Even fairly early on, I could already see the good that God was doing with our sorrow. I am a better wife because of what we have gone through. A better mother. A better doctor. I do not want other people to feel alone and ashamed in their struggle.

Rebecca put it well, and bluntly, when she wrote that infertility sucks. Thankfully, we serve a God who takes the, um, sucky and makes it lovely, who takes the ugly and makes it beautiful.

There is this Buechner quote I had forgotten about until I spent some time reading some old posts about infertility - about how we all need to tell our stories, that stories that can call us like a beacon to the safe harbor that is life in Christ. For the fertile and the infertile.

Blog update

As you can see, I am trying to make some changes to the ole' template. I was getting bored of our blog looking the same. I finally ditched the old template and upgraded to a new one. Hopefully I can make another header in the next day or so. Maybe add a photo?

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


One of the worst parts about Jeff not preaching at our church is that I don't get to hear him preach.
Selfish, I know.

Having gone to seminary for a year and heard some of the best preachers in our denomination several times each week at chapel has forever spoiled me for good preaching. (Not to mention the last three years of listening week in and week out to one very, very excellent preacher) I'm a bit of a sermon connoisseur and have a hard time listening to bad preaching. Each week these days I really try to listen and pray that God will speak to me, because I know that he can use anyone and any sermon to speak his truth.

But lately it's been so. much. harder.

I can't wait until he's preaching again.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I feel like I'm pretty far behind the times, but in the fall I was on a big cupcake baking kick. Jeff got cupcakes for his birthday, then I made them again for Judah's baptism. I realized that I never actually blogged about the cupcakes I made for the baptism. And since I'm still having a hard time coming up with good things to blog about, I decided you can never blog enough dessert.

First up: Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Frosting.

Now I'm not normally a vanilla-loving girl, but these are not just vanilla cupcakes, they are vanilla bean cupcakes. With vanilla buttercream. And I love that you can make the frosting any color you want, which makes for a more festive party. I'm thinking these might make another appearance at Judah's birthday party.

Next Up: Chocolate Cupcake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache frosting

Chocolate and raspberries. Need I say more? These were so good I am drooling thinking about them. I used a piping bag and actually piped the filling into them before pouring the chocolate ganache on top. So the link is actually a link to a regular layer cake, but I just made them into cupcakes. Even though I love chocolate, I do not always love chocolate cake. I guess it just doesn't always taste chocolately enough for me. This cake did not have that problem. And the combination of the chocolate with the raspberry just put it over the top.

I've been itching to bake some more cupcakes recently. Anyone with any other good recipes out there?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recipe Round-Up

I'm now on day 8 of a major cold, and going back to work tomorrow. Hopefully by then I will be feeling better.....

As I'm not thinking about much besides my hacking cough, I thought I'd post on some super tasty recipes I've made recently.

I'm not big on going all out to celebrate Valentine's Day - It seems silly to spend a lot of money on what feels to me like a manufactured holiday. I do like doing a little something for my valentine, though. Instead of buying chocolates, I have made him candy several times. This year, I did a combination of buckeyes, probably his favorite candy, and some oreo truffles. Both are fairly easy recipes to put together and they make a lot.

Next up for some dinner:
PW's Spicy Shredded Pork. Hannah put me on this recipe because it's a great one to do with the dutch oven. It makes a ton of delicious shredded pork that you can put into tacos or quesadillas. I could not get over how easy it was to make. Or how delicious. Next time I'm feeding a crowd I will definitely be doing this again. I suspect it would also work in the crock pot.

Anyone else make any new recipes recently?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

9 10 month "well" visit

This past week I finally got Judah checked out for his 9 month well visit.

Here are his stats: Weight: 20 lbs., 30th percentile (I really was surprised this wasn't more, but I think if he hadn't had the GI bug and ensuing bad appetite he wouldn't have dropped down quite so much on the growth curve. That plus the fact that he is cruising/crawling everywhere now probably made him drop down some. Not that I'm worried about it - he's certainly eating well and growing.)

Height: 30 in, 86% - still tall like his daddy
Head - 49cm , 99% - yep, still with the big ole' noggin like his mamma

At 10 months, he FINALLY has a tooth. From some research I did during residency, I knew it was normal for kids not to get their first tooth until 11 or 12 months, but when all the other babies his age already have 4 or 6 teeth, I was starting to wonder if we'd need baby dentures or something. His second bottom tooth looks like it's also about to pop through.

He's getting much, much better at babbling. Occasionally, he has said something that sounds like mama, but I am not convinced he was doing it on purpose. As much as I'd like to believe he was. He loves to wave now and I do think I've seen him sign "all done" a few times. Maybe. At his age it's so hard to know if he's actually signing or just flailing his arms around.

His favorite food is definitely cottage cheese. I can't give him any until the end of his meal or he will refuse to eat anything else. For a while, his other favorite food was blueberries, but lately he has been refusing them. Bananas seem more of a hit lately. And anything carbohydrate related, like rice or bread

During this "well" visit, Judah's doctor looked in his right ear, didn't really say anything, then looked in his left, then back in his right. That's when I knew he probably saw something. He is on his first round of antibiotics and thankfully seems to think they taste pretty good as he happily sucks them down twice a day. He actually gets mad at me when I put them away. I figured his waking up and fussing at night was just because of the tooth he was getting. Thankfully, it was probably more due to the infection in his ear. Tylenol and his medicine seem to be clearing the infection right up.

It's hard to believe I'm already starting to think about this first birthday!

A scourge on our house.

We are slowly recovering from a major dose of the cruds around here.

It started with a major case of the puke-up-your-guts bug (which thankfully I mostly missed) and is ending with the head-cold-so-bad-your-teeth-hurt bug (which I definitely did not miss). Somewhere in the middle Judah developed his first ear infection and got his first tooth. If you didn't know, an ear infection plus teething = one very fussy baby.

It's been a week. Thankfully Judah is pretty much back to his exceedingly happy self, and hopefully this awful cold I've got will be going away soon.

In other news, we just got back from a quick overnight trip to Charleston where we had a free stay in a really nice downtown hotel, some good time spent with my brother and his wife, several tasty Charleston meals, and a nice walk along the battery this morning before we left.

Hopefully a sign that better things are coming....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The dreaded question.

I'm starting to get it.

The (semi) dreaded question. We used to get it before we were pregnant with Judah. Someone would see me holding a friend's baby or talking about my niece or nephew and it would come. "So when are you going to have kids?" Back when we were first married, I didn't think much of it. I'd answer breezily that maybe in a few years we would, or after med school, or whatever.

Then came the long months where we were trying (unsuccessfully) to get pregnant but weren't telling anyone. Then I'd force a smile and say something like "we'll see." Of course after we started talking more about our infertility, those who knew us best didn't press us. There would still be the occasional inquiry by our more distant friends, and depending on my mood I'd either try to answer truthfully about our struggle or give a quick noncommittal answer to end the conversation.

Now that Judah is almost a year, we are starting to get it again. "So, do you want more kids?" or "So, when do you think you'll have another one?" As if it were just that easy. I am not bitter or upset when these questions come, but I do find it hard to answer honestly. I don't want to unnecessarily overburden someone who was just trying to be polite. But I am also not ashamed of the road we've been on and at this point do not mind talking more freely about the struggles we have come through.

The truth is I don't really know what will happen. My optimistic, hopeful heart wants to believe that we will be one of those couples who struggled with infertility, then got pregnant, and then... oops... an accidental/semi-unplanned pregnancy. I want to believe that since they were never able to pinpoint a cause, that maybe it won't be so hard next time. My more realistic, try-not-to-get-high-hopes side realizes that it will probably be a struggle again. One of the best things about finally getting pregnant with Judah was the chance to be able not to think about trying to get pregnant for the first time in a long time. To not be obsessed with counting days, taking temperatures, or any of the other things that people do to try to get pregnant. And I have loved being able to continue not worrying about those things. I am enjoying where we are now - loving our boy and not worrying about what the future may hold. Well, mostly. Clearly I am at least thinking about it some.

I guess that's why I have such a hard time with that question. It is very hard to condense that all down into the kind of response people expect when they ask. Maybe I should just start directing people to my blog....

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


It's been a little quieter around the ole' blog lately. I enjoy having this space to be able to write, but I guess lately I just have other things going on.

My friend Gray made what seemed to me a very reasonable resolution: to clean for 30 minutes each day, using either a product or a device. I am much more of a feast-or-famine type cleaner, frantically trying to clean everything in one big swoop while in between letting things just pile up. But 30 minutes is really not that long, so I am trying to do something every day. We'll see how long this lasts.

In addition to trying to keep things a little neater around here, I am also trying to be much more diligent about personal bible study and quiet time. This is something I have struggled with for a long time. Of course, there is always an excuse as to why it isn't happening. I'm a med student. I'm an intern. I'm a resident. I'm pregnant. I have a newborn. I'm tired. You get the idea. I want Judah to love the Lord and seek him with all his heart. But how will he do that when I'm not even taking the time to sit and pray and listen?

In light of this, I have been convicted lately about the amount of time I spend on TV/internet/ and the like. I am not saying that I am not going to blog, but maybe just try to be a little quieter.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The smell of love, part 2.

After more reflection on this post, as well a recent bout of a GI bug at our house, I've had a few more thoughts about the taste and smell of love.

Sometimes, love smells like throw-up. The throw-up that you get on your shirt as you hold your retching, vomiting 10 month old as he gets sick on you for the third time in the space of a few hours, the throw up you clean off sheets, mattress pads, his hair, your hair, and the floor.

Sometimes, it smells the dank, sweaty, and awful smell that only comes from the feet of people with poor circulation or diabetes, feet that I have been called to wash and care for.

What does love smell or taste like to you?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I have a really. really. cute kid.

After my last fairly wordy post, I decided to take it easy for this one.

I really cannot understand why he is so much cuter when he wears his cubs hat.

10 months old!
See how he's grown!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The taste of love.

Does love have a taste? How about a smell?

For me, I think it might taste like my grandmother's fried chicken or the chocolate cake my mom made for my birthday. Maybe it smells like the cinnamon toast we had with our oatmeal before school or the cool, damp air of the basement where we had our Christmas gathering every year. Or maybe it smells the sweet baby smell that Judah has when I'm holding him just before I put him to bed at night.

For my mom, I think it tastes like coconut cake. Her mom used to make coconut cake every Christmas. I realize now that I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, mostly because I am not so much a coconut-loving girl. (See reference to chocolate cake, above.) She must have cooked for several weeks before we came, making chicken salad and pimento cheese and her beautiful coconut cake. It was pristine - flaked white coconut pressed around the outside, white coconut filling in between the layers. She stored it covered in saran wrap in the freezer. After dinner, my mom, dad, aunts and uncles would take turns pulling it out of the freezer and slicing off pieces. I never realized that she often made the cake completely from scratch. She'd start with an actual coconut, peel it, grate it and then use the water and flaked coconut to make the cake.

We haven't gotten to have her cake in a long, long time. Even though she only died a few years ago, she stopped making the cake a long time before that. I remember visiting her once in Florida and being disturbed at how she would ask the same question, over and over. She could still make the cake, though. I guess she stopped making it around the same time she started wandering outside, wearing her winter coat in the hot July sun. Long before she got quiet, forgetting how to talk, and lost her way to us.

Christmas this year had my mom reminiscing about that cake. I could tell she especially missed her mom this year. Missed the taste of her love. Her birthday is today, and I wanted to do just a little something to give her a nibble of what has been missing. So I made a coconut cake. Unfortunately, I don't have her recipe as I didn't plan ahead enough to track it down. But I found this one from Alton Brown, because mom had mentioned watching the episode and felt it was very similar to the one she ate all those years. She and my dad came down today for a little birthday dinner and grand baby time. The cake was good enough to convince even this chocoholic that she would be making this cake again.

What does love taste like? Sometimes, it tastes like coconut cake.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Judah and the Basket


On our walk around the block tonight, Jeff and I were talking about the job search. I realized I'm a little more nervous about it than I've been over other situations. Interviewing for residency was a little nerve-wracking, but in the end, a giant computer (under the sovereign hand of God) basically decided our fate.

This feels a little scarier for several reasons. When we moved to Greenwood, we were coming for residency, which was only for 3 years. As we look to our next job, it is much more open-ended. And the interview process itself seems scarier to me. Maybe it's because it's harder for me when it's Jeff doing the job hunting. Contributing, though, is the fact that interviewing for a pastoral job is different than other types of job interviews. It is a much slower process usually, since there are typically committee involved that have to meet and wade through applications and listen to sermons. We can send our info to a church and we don't even have a good timetable for how long it will be before we hear back.

In a regular job, people usually just talk to your work references, and are not necessarily as interested in your character, morals, spiritual development, or family life. Jeff made the comment that it is more unsettling since it feels like they are making a judgment about him and his character, and not just his skill set or professional capabilities. In the back of my mind (and sometimes in the front) is the worry that I (and my advanced degree and outside-the-home work) will be what committees reject. The PCA does not have many pastors who are married to doctors, and some churches have very high expectations for the wives of their pastors.

It is also difficult to know where to apply. We both would prefer to be near-ish to some family, but realize that may not be possible. I mentioned that some job descriptions seem a little ridiculous, but does that mean we just automatically write them off? I think about our little church where we are now, a church filled with wonderful people whom we love and who love us, and realize that the job description of a place like that might not jump out at us right away. But it has been an incredible experience and God truly blessed us by bringing us there.

So those are some of my thoughts and fears about our next transition. It was actually great to read some of my posts about interviewing for residency as a reminder of how God's faithful leading during that time brought us here. He is good and I know we can trust his leading, no matter what happens next.