Friday, February 26, 2016

Just a brief post today...

I've been behind on sleep for oh... maybe the past month?  Between working long hours at a couple of places where the job is very physical, coming home and trying to catch up on stuff around the house and a vacation that was fun- but nevertheless traveling with a toddler and a toddler that appears to be afraid to be in his bed by himself in the middle of the night, I"m beat.  I know, I know, that was a massive run on sentence, but maybe you get a sense of my exhaustion?

Tuesday at the acupuncturist, I fell asleep.  The acupuncturist actually looked a little sheepish that he had to wake me up and turn the lights on.  "You fell asleep with needles in your body?" my husband asked shocked.  Yes, I was able to fall asleep during acupuncture.

Last night I had a lot of great ideas for a blog post.  We put my son to bed.  I laid on the couch and next thing I knew I was out cold at 8:30 pm.  Even the fiery debate last night was not enough to keep me awake.   So... blogpost not written.  Thanks for our patience.  I woke up this morning next to my two year old not grumpy about him getting into our bed, so I guess that means I'm not more well-rested...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Great Things I've learned from my husband on saving money

1) Menu Planning.  I admit I'm kind of a foodie.  I also very much appreciate spontaneity and going with my "mood" when it comes to food.  This created a dilemma in my single life.  I quite often wasted a lot of food that looked good to me when I was shopping, but I didn't have the willpower to actually cook it or didn't feel like eating it when I came home after a long day.  My husband likes to plan ahead.  He introduced me to actually writing down everything you need for a week of meals and planning out the week of meals and trying not to buy anything that isn't on your list.  I'm not so good at that last part, but I'm getting better.  Menu planning has helped us to minimize waste.  I've helped him with "recycling" or planning like meals.  Meaning, if we are making tacos, we should make something else that uses tortillas that week, or if we buy a bag of hamburger buns, we should make hamburgers and sloppy joes that week.  Not only has menu planning been good for our wallet I think it's also a lot better for the environment.

2) Spaving.  This is the concept of spending more to save more.  It sounds like a good idea but quite often isn't.  This is easy to do at bulk stores, like Costco, or at clothing stores, "if you spend $50, save $10."  So if you are thinking you will buy a sweater for $35, you are tempted to buy more in order to get the discount.  My husband points this out to me when I'm tempted with impulse buys.

3) Research!  I quite often do research before buying new products, especially big-ticket items, but my husband also does this before buying toys for our son and other items.  He has quite often found bad reviews, or information that demonstrates that the item we are considering may not be the best fit for our needs.  This also helps prevent impulse buys.

4) Coupons.  I still remember helping my mom cut coupons when I was a little kid.  My husband has taken cutting coupons to a new level though.  He cuts them for EVERYTHING and he makes sure we get double or triple the value of the coupon or to use them along with sales.  This has saved us a fair amount of money on many everyday supplies.

5) Planning.  Like I said, I'm the spontaneous half of the relationship.  My husband is the planner.  Whether it's a vacation, a weekend outing or pretty much anything, my husband will plan.  While spontaneity has it's own benefits and joys, his planning does help us save money and pick low-cost or even free activities and opportunities.

Of course, many of the above has been demonstrated by my parents, but it's great to think of how my hubby and I both bring different gifts to our money-saving repertoire.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Blood draws in four-legged and two legged children.

Unfortunately, this week my family had a minor traumatic medical experience.

First, to give you some veterinary info on blood draws-  Some owners want to be present when their beloved pet is getting a blood draw.  I don't really recommend this.  Unless your presence significantly calms your pet, your presence could just add more anxiety for all around.  There's something about the nervous energy of an owner who doesn't want to see their family member get hurt that makes the experience more stressful for everyone.  Then there are those pet owners who pass out at the sight of the needle.  That's the last thing we want to have to deal with, we don't need human patients in addition to our furry patients.

I sometimes ask to take pets in back because there is better lighting in the back and you are out of the room with all the stress pheromones.  Some people get nervous having their pet out of their sight, but really it can be better for them.  As a matter of fact, I often have my colleagues take my own pets to a separate room from where I am so they don't pick up on my stress, and I'm a vet!

Sometimes people will ask us, the veterinarians, to draw blood on their pet instead of a staff member.  I will be honest, they are often quite a bit better than I am at it because they have more practice.  In a well-managed, well-staffed hospital, I rarely do blood-draws.  Sometimes,  I am the phlebotomist of last resort (staff like to do this, because often if I'm doing a blood draw on a 2 pound kitten or other difficult to do patient I will quickly figure out a way to decrease the amount I need and be strategic about testing).  Most of the time our veterinary nurses are a lot better than doctors are because they just do it so much more frequently.  I typically am busy diagnosing, coming up with a treatment plan and filling out paperwork, so adding doing a blood draw to my tasks just puts me behind all the more.  I typically have a two-poke rule.  If I haven't obtained a sample in two pokes, I move on to a different person to do it.

So those are just a few pieces of info about blood draws in the vet world.  I would say our profession is particularly good at what we do.  We have to obtain laboratory samples from all sorts of species and all sizes and we can't explain to them that we are actually trying to help them.  We probably are similar to the pediatric profession in this type of way.

To get back to my two-legged child.  He had to get his blood drawn this week.  I had strategically scheduled the blood draw so my husband would be present to help and that it would be done at a facility that specialized in pediatrics.  Unfortunately, we were told that our insurance explicitly told our doctor they were not allowed to do the blood draw and we had to go to a corporate service.  I was not happy about this.

The last time we did this it didn't go well and I had had personal experience with this company that was not good.  It made me understand my patients' plight a lot more and vow to be even more compassionate to them.  The lady had been poke-poke poking multiple times into my arm, and stabbing and doing "search and explore", a technique I vow not to use.  She did this and I was bruised for a week in that arm.  I used all my patience and self control not to hit her.  She then looked at me and asked, "does that hurt".  Fortunately, I'm not in the habit of using expletives, but in her case I was tempted to.  Anyways, this corporate service was not one I wanted my son to have to go to.  The doctor explained if we didn't go there, it would cost hundreds more out of pocket.

So we made an appointment and we went there.  They didn't even have a changing table in their restroom to change my son's diaper.  Then we finally went back for the blood draw.  Initially when we were there, I told my husband we should treat our son to something special, maybe Krispy Kreme or going out to lunch, he needed some type of reward.  My husband didn't seem enthusiastic about this.  He sat down and then my son sat on his lap, fortunately not remembering his last experience.  The lab technician came in, and speaking Spanish to another coworker, was talking about how she was afraid to draw blood on my son.  She, like so many others, didn't know that my husband and I understand Spanish.  My two year old even knows how to count to ten in Spanish.

I was in a mixture of shock, anger and trying not to pass on my fear to my son and husband.  The technician tried to get blood on my son and my son went hysterical.  Understandably so.  She only got a little bit of blood and then stopped.  She told us we would have to go across the street to the hospital (not where our insurance wanted us to go).  I tried to tell her that wasn't an option.  Then my husband told me I was the medical person, so the decision was on me.  I didn't want him to have to go through this whole experience again, so I told them to keep trying.  Fortunately, two technicians walked in that looked like they had more experience behind them.  Success.  Needless to say though, throughout this process my son ended up getting Cheeburger, Cheeburger, a vanilla shake and Krispy Kreme's promised to him.  He collected.  We thought we would get out of the Krispy Kreme promise, but our son has a good memory and he was brave, so he got what was promised.

I had been very upset by the experience and called the lab back up and asked to speak to the manager (who happened to be one of the two techs that came in and were successful).  She felt awful about what had happened and was grateful for my feedback.  She said she was going to deal with it right away.  She also told me you ALWAYS have the right to ask for the most experienced tech and that in the future we should always ask for Lynn.  That is what we will do from now on and hopefully this lesson might help you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentines Day

So, once more it is snowing in the mid-Atlantic and everyone is acting like it's the end of the world.  Thanks to a Christmas gift from my sister and a class-action lawsuit, my husband and I scrounged some money to go to a couples "Cooking Italian Class" tonight.  Looking forward to that and will blog about it later maybe.

This weekend was a nice weekend at home with those we love.  We both had a long week (I had a couple of days of working/being out of the house for over 12 hours, add to that my overly ambitious Valentines Day project.

Saturday was a little slower pace and we got various "chores" done and some rest and just stayed inside as it was the coldest day of the year here.  We did make a great recipe from Pinterest-   Orange Chicken.  Even with telling my son it had two of his favorite ingredients (honey and orange juice), he wasn't very interested, he had a small amount of rice and had eaten a big lunch, so rather than bribing him with other food, we let him finish off dinner with a bagel with peanut butter (saving more leftovers for ourselves).  It was a delicious meal and a consolation that with food allergies in the family we can't order Chinese.

I had told my hubby that we had a pretty big Christmas and we have been having car trouble (and may need to get a new car soon), so we should do Valentine's Day pretty small.  Meaning- I got him a DVD of one of our favorite shows from our dating/newlywed days.  He went a lot more generous and got me flowers, strawberries and a pretty necklace.  We did try to do a lot of just thoughtful things for each other for Valentine's Day.  My husband is generally very thoughtful most of the time anyway.

So while I got to sleep in Saturday morning, my husband got to sleep in Sunday morning and thanks to a little Curious George and Charlie Brown's Valentines Special, I was able to make him some Chocolate waffles.

 We had a nice time at Mass (perhaps because my son got most of his antsy behavior out at Mass on Ash Wednesday, he was more subdued than usual on Sunday).

When we came back home we checked out the recipes we were planning for dinner.   Braised short ribs and French Chocolate Mousse.  We were also trying to get lunch (leftover Raclette from last week).  All of this is complicated by a 3 year old bouncing around a kitchen.  Having a double boiler going, a mixer, a three year old and separating egg yolks and egg whites, I felt like I was in a Quickfire Challenge from our favorite cooking show, Top Chef.  I'm pretty sure I would have lost the challenge.  As I was looking at the iPad, filling milk and navigating around my husband and son, I realized that I had switched egg yolks for egg whites in the recipe.  I temporarily considered doing what I normally do (go ahead and go with it, I mean, most recipes all the ingredients mix together anyways?).  Then I thought- nope, this is  Julia Child-based recipe and that is not what Julia would do.  Also, just the name of the recipe- French Mousse, denotes a level of sophistication and skill that does not get along well with ad-lib.  Thus, that batch was dumped and I started over again.

I was ready for a nap when that was done!  My husband made the short ribs while my son and I rocked for nap time.  We had a throughly enjoyable movie and ended it with a bit of Downton Abbey.  What a nice Valentine's Day with the ones I love (and good food : )
 My son's Valentine's Project

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Some Things I'm Loving This Week

1)  My husband for staying up late with me making Valentines for my kid's class.  I bought Valentines to make at a local craft store in an effort to save money.  The package said, "Takes 15 minutes".  I didn't think that meant 15 minutes per Valentine.  We made 24....

2) Superbowl party with an old classmate.  It's nice to remember where you came from and to have someone tell you, "you realize we're the old school vets now, don't you?".  She said it in all honesty and as a compliment.  As we talked about friends who come and go, my friend and I said, "once you've stayed up over 24 hours for 2 weeks delivering lambs in the middle of the night, that's not a convenience friendship, it's a strong friendship."

3) Raclette.  One of my friends who is actually from Switzerland introduced me to the wonders of the Raclette and Raclette cheese.  Perfect for a Superbowl party.

4) My bank's fraud alert system.  There's nothing that makes your heart go pitter patter like waking up to a text message asking if you bought $500 worth of electronics online.  While it didn't start my morning out right, there was a part of me consoled to know it was discovered right away and I won't have to pay for it.

5) Herbal sinus therapy.  While I haven't completely bought into Traditional Chinese Medicine, my acupuncturist conjured up some mix of something and shoved it deep into my sinuses.  While it was not comfortable, I think I slept that night with clear airway passages I haven't had in a long time.

6) My son's new appreciation of birthdays.  Tonight he said, "Can I have a milkshake for my birthday?"  Earlier this week, we were shopping and he saw a soccer net.  He asked my husband, "May I have a soccer net for my birthday?  Can you say yes?"  At least he's polite about it.  His birthday list is growing long and it's still a couple of months away.  I'm going to be reluctant to see what his Christmas list is next year...

Monday, February 8, 2016


I used to read 3-5 books at a time.  My mom instilled a love of reading in me from a young age.  She also was ahead of her time in not forcing my sister and me to read on our own too early.   While I'm sure if she had pushed, we could have been reading before kindergarten, she didn't and so our love for reading was able to grow.  My sister and I loved reading all the time, we would be known to take more books on vacation than we would clothes.

When I was in middle school and high school, I would read all the time.  I would come home from school and read biographies, history books and more.  I even didn't have a problem with "dryer" material.  Anything I received, magazines, etc., I would try to read start to finish.  Once I started a book, I would finish it, no  matter how bad it was.

Then college and vet school happened.  Being a varsity athlete and getting two degrees in my undergraduate days as well as a part-time job, I really didn't have extra time for reading for pleasure.  Being in veterinary school, all I ever did was read!  I read so much that I really kind of had to take a moratorium on reading (excluding Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and a couple spiritual books).  I really had NO desire to read.  I had to read continuing education journals (I still receive at least 4 a month) and other veterinary stuff.

Then we got pregnant with my son, and from about 4 months (the time he could start hearing us supposedly in the womb) and on, we've been reading to him at least once a day.  We read everything and we read some books upwards of 20 times a day.  It can get tiring, but it's wonderful to see how excited he gets with books.  He can last multi-hour car trips as long as he has his books.  We have even gotten him interested in books on tape.

My son is one of the reasons I've fallen in love with reading again.  I had to take a break for a little bit, but I'm back to reading two to three books at a time.  I don't have a ton of time to do it, but if my son is asleep in my arms sick or I'm waiting at a doctors appointment or even 5 minutes before bed, I try to get in a little time with a book.  I'm so happy I do.  It reinvigorates me and it has also helped me fall back in love with writing.

Books are wonderful and can open you to a whole new world, or with the case of non-fiction, transport you back in time and help you look at the world in a new way.  Thanks to my mom and my two year old, I'm falling in love with reading all over again.

Friday, February 5, 2016

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

1) Continuing Education- I find continuing education can be tedious at times, but one of the things I love most about continuing education (I attend about 60 hours a year) is hanging out with other people who are veterinarians.  There's always something nice about hanging out with compadres.  Many clinical settings have only one or two veterinarians.  In my line of work, I'm often the only veterinarian in the office and most of the wonderful people I work with don't have bachelors degrees.  They are great people, but it's really nice also to spend time with people who have a similar background and education.

2) New friends and support of a mom with a child similar to my own.  It's always nice to make new friends, but I realized this week just how wonderful it is to have a friend who's child's personality (and challenges) are similar to my own child's.  We had a great day with the kids having a great time and even helping each other.  When my toddler went away from the table to play (because he has a short attention span), having the other two year old at the table got him to eat a bigger lunch than I've seen him eat in a long time.

3) Knowing that I can make a difference-  It's sometimes interesting to think about all the ways our actions can affect others and how little things we do can really make a difference.  I know that's kind of cliche, but my tendency is to have a problem with scrupulosity and be hard on myself and think of all the things I should have done.  This week, I saw an individual whose life was profoundly affected by a short conversation I had with her a while back.   I had been in a hurry, but had taken the time to give her some direction and helped her to find a job that will also provide a formal education for her.  It's good sometimes to be reminded how the little things we all do can make a big impact on others.

4) Arizona memories.  Between my inlaws going to Arizona, reading a book whose authors live in Arizona and my two-year old looking through old pictures, I have been reminded a lot of the state I called home for two years.  I may have only lived there for two years, but that was probably the most eventful and emotional two years of my life (other than the getting married and having a baby a little later on).  Here is a little blast from an old e-mail I wrote:

 Arizona is hot.  Did I say hot, I meant boiling.  Have you ever experienced purchasing a normal candy bar in the store and on the 200 foot walk to the car, it melts in your hands, akin to putting it on a hot skillet?

I need to carry oven mitts in my car to touch the steering wheel.  A 100 degree day is a cool day. 80 degrees in the apartment is a blast of cool air.  I wake up around 5 am to run in 85 degrees, which is much more tolerable than 112 degrees. Yeah, this is going to take some getting used to.  

So what do people from Arizona bring with them when they go to H_ll?  They need to bring sweaters.

Scorpions, tarantulas, brown recluses and rattle snakes oh my!  So I have been discovering that though Arizona is not Florida, it still 
has it’s share of insects.  Upon arrival at my apartment and since then, I have found many insects, little black bugs, crickets to keep me up at night, etc..  Last week at work, talk of scorpions, rattle snakes and brown recluses, things that can kill you, or just rot the flesh off of your body came up with personal stories, scorpions sleeping in beds, etc..  One woman

was talking about the previous night she had to kick a gecko out of her bed.  Not being familiar with all of these critters, I asked many questions, trying to find out if I really needed to worry about these critters, what do they feel like, etc.  So I asked my apartment complex if they really were spraying my complex and my building because I had insects all over.  They said that they had.  When I got home Sunday, as I crawled out of my car (not much space in my garage) about 3 inches from my chest was
a about 3 inch long orangish scorpion.  I happened to be on the phone to a friend at the time and she heard my voice go up a few octaves.  All I had on me were some fancy beaded flip-flops, not scorpion squashing material, then got a mop and because I was on a “Buddhist” don’t kill the
bug, just throw it from my house.  So I had my mop and I schooed it out of my garage and I think it promptly crawled up my exterior wall.  Man, I wished I would have killed it.  I promptly went to Home Depot and bought some Ortho Home Defense and sprayed it out around my whole house.  This still didn’t stop me from having a horrible nightmare of being in my Grandma’s old basement and
having spiders, scorpions, tarantulas and brown recluses running after me with my little gun of Ortho Home Defense losing.  Yuck, I don’t know if I’m going to last in the land of the spiders…

Well, I did last in the land of spiders.  Two years, unemployment, two boyfriends and several thousand miles away from home, I grew as a veterinarian, and as a person.  Thank you, Arizona.

5) My car.  We went to the car show last weekend and as we oohed and aahed at cars (my toddler wants a red minivan or a blue convertible), I thought of my car.  Big Blue.  Big Blue has been good to me.  Big Blue helped me move from Michigan to New England to the Southwest and back to the East Coast.  Big Blue has been on many adventures with me... The following is a little lengthy, but it's the tale of how Big Blue got it's name.  My son calls Big Blue, "mommy's hot, hot car," but that's another story...

   Mamma mia, not the Kia!

So the adventure of getting to Arizona.  I traveled along with a good friend and a girl that I have known most of my life from my cottage (who also needed to move to Arizona and owns a little Kia Rio), Big Blue (the name which was given to my Subaru Forester by the Kia’s owner) got started and even before we left Michigan, it was realized that the Kia could not go
over 70 without shaking violently and looking like it was going to lose parts.

We then stopped in St. Louis for a wonderful visit with one of my friends there.  We had enough time to stop at the famous “Arch”.  It was really hot, and it was pointed out we were already complaining before we hit the Southwest.  The only parking spots available were at a “parking lot” (term defined loosely) that was on at least a 30 degree slope into the

As we were leaving, I stood as the only barrier between my car and the mighty Mississippi.  My friend Theresa was backing out and a barge was passing by and a huge wave got thrown out from the barge, Theresa thought I was going to go down in the wave, floored my accelerator and according to the GPS, it went “140 mph” out of that spot.  We survived backing into the Mississippi.  The next day we went through Missouri and found out that besides not being able to accelerate on the on ramp, not being able to go over 70, and every 5-10 minutes needing to slow down for the Kia (it didn’t
have cruise control either), it couldn’t go over 40 mph on the Missouri hills.  We then began to wonder if we were going to need a tow rope to bring it through the mountains.  

The below song to the tune of  “Mama Mia” explains most of our trip.  It actually turned out to be a good thing, the Kia was our scape goat, all frustration, exhaustion and grumpiness became focused on a true inanimate object, the Kia, everyone got along because we were all taking out our frustrations/cause of frustrations on the Kia.

So we started getting used to the Kia, until New Mexico, where the Kia blew a tire.  At this point, Big Blue was about a mile ahead, and the Kia’s owner did not have very good cell phone coverage.  She pulled over and then another questionable looking guy “simulataneously” ran out of gas. Then I called AAA to try to get assistance, but I needed specific information
about her car.  Cue “Charriots of Fire” music, I ran a mile (not exaggerating, one mile marker to another) in the heat, hearing sounds akin to rattle snake rattlers and trying not to get bit by a rattle snake or run over by a
semi, so the Kia owner would not be all alone with sketchy guy.  So we got to her car and AAA said they would be there in 10 minutes.  Kia owner didn’t know if she had a spare, so asked if AAA could just bring a tire.  Trying not to
be a totally helpless girl, I suggested we look for a spare and a jack. She didn’t know where it was, but I discovered by looking under the car trunk that it was where I hoped it wouldn’t be.  Under her life’s worth of clothing.  On the side of Interstate 40, in an area with tumbleweed, we swore there were rattlesnakes, and who knows what else, we emptied the
contents of her trunk  some into Big Blue, some onto the side of the road (my friend decided no time like this to use the “emergency use only” turn around.  We got the tire and the jack out and a cowboy (yes a true cowboy,
pants, boots and cowboy hat) stopped and offered to help us.  We told him AAA would be there any minute.  They didn’t show.  Then a guy on a bicycle who looked like he had just come through Death Valley offered to help.  Then two workers from the New Mexico Department of Transportation stopped and offered to help, we decided they looked legit and told them sure, we would accept their help until AAA arrived.  They still hadn’t come.  We thanked the New Mexico Department of Transportation workers, offered them some cold Gatorade and told them, “God Bless you”.  I got a hold of the
repair shop who was supposed to come and help and there had been some misunderstanding, so they went to the wrong location, they told us they were 2 miles away.  It was more like twenty.  We stopped at the next sign for an auto repair
shop, when I got out of the car, the owner immediately came to me and said, “bathroom closed” (I think assuming that someone in a Subaru didn’t break down in the middle of nowhere, this place was called Cuervo, like Jose
Cuervo and the “town” consisted of the repair hut and two gas pumps and rusty cars).  I pointed to the Kia and he looked around to see if he had a new tire, because now on the spare tire we were moving really slow.  He
didn’t have one, “You have to go to Bozo’s”, he said.

So we went to Bozo’s repair shop and got a new tire.  I’m not kidding, the place was really called Bozo’s.

Here's what we have so far for the “Kia song”;
We've been slowed down by you since the road trip began.
So we've made up our minds it must come to an end.
Look at it now, will people ever learn?
I don't know how, but the engine takes it's toll.
There's great worry within my soul.
Just one glance and then the car's gone again.
One more look and then Meg's phone starts to ring.

Where's the Kia?  Here we go again.
My, my, how could we have missed you?
Where's the Kia?  It's going slow again.
My, my, look how much we've dissed you.
Yes, we've been brokenhearted,
Slow since the day we started.
Why, why does it not want to go?
Where's the Kia?  How could we know?
My, my it could need another tow.

I've been tired and sad, but I know it's not you.
I figured Kia's were bad, now I know that it's true.
When you don't go when you hit the gas,
I think you know that it takes way too long,
Cuz the engine is not that strong.
Just one glance and then the car's gone again.
One more look and then Meg's phone starts to ring.

Where's the Kia?  Here we go again.
My, my, how could we have missed you?
Where's the Kia?  It's going slow again.
My, my, look how much we've dissed you.
Yes, we've been brokenhearted,
Slow since the day we started.
Why, why does it not want to go?