On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reply to an Anesthesia Resident

(Recently, Lynette informed me that I had a comment on one of my posts from an anesthesia resident and have no way to get my response back to him, so I am turning it into a post with the hopes that he'll see it and that it may be of benefit.)

I am a junior anesthesia resident and I appreciate your insight in this post. I'm actually at a crossroads in my career. I do enjoy the practice of anesthesia, the pharmacology and procedural aspect of the practice is what attracted me to the specialty in the first place. However, I am at the point of my training where I'm doubting whether this specialty is the best for me and my family. I am recently married and would like to start a family in the near future. However, I have found it difficult balancing time with my wife, spending quiet time with God and serving at my church, at the same time trying to keep up with my readings and clinical duties; with an understanding that life as a staff member will still be filled with call and long hours. That being said, I am considering switching to family medicine to have more control over my professional life and to allow more time for family and God. Being a physician is a privilege and I feel that I would also be happy doing family practice, developing relationships with patients and managing diverse medical conditions. I'm definately at odds with this decision and would appreciate any further insight and advice. Thanks, Jeff



I haven't written a post in a long time and I don't know if you will return to the blog to read these thoughts, but since there was no email for me to reply to I'll leave my thoughts here. It's been nearly 3 years since I wrote that last post, so hopefully I've been molded a little bit more to conform with who God made me to be.

I commend you on recognizing that the priorities for most in the world are wrong (even among Christians, myself included at times) - you are on the right path. Yes, the practice of medicine is a great privilege... one not to be taken lightly. You have been gifted and granted an opportunity to serve in a unique way. I would tell you that the decision will truly lie not just with you and God, but instead with you, your wife, and God... and through great soul searching and prayer... lots of it. There is great power in prayer and I know I personally don't do enough of it. Medicine has become so specialized and compartmentalized that I certainly don't feel like a complete physician any longer at this stage of my career. You know like how when we were medical students, interns, and young residents... we had so much textbook knowledge in our heads and beginning clinical training only broadened our knowledge? Somewhere through the years, the reverse happens. Your skills hone down specific to anesthesia, and a lot of the broadness of medicine is lost. Now, that is not to say that you won't feel competent. It is just different because then your skill set will be totally different, because you'll be an expert in what you do, that is anesthesiology. I guess that's how I see our profession for myself at this time.

In general, however, a career as an anesthesiologist will be more financially rewarding than one in family practice. I realize that that also is not necessarily a good thing because with wealth comes great responsibility. It is the rare person who can give up / share wealth willingly and be a wise and faithful steward with God's money. I have felt great comfort as a provider that (God willing) my family will be ok financially if I continue in my current path. From another angle though, I see family practice as opening up great opportunities of service/missions for you. You will be a more complete physician, able to open up shop on your own (if you wanted), be a great asset in the missions field locally & internationally. Though you may not be a specialist, you'll be able to meet & treat people in a broad sense as you've already intuited. I sometimes wish that I had that ability to just pick up and go and practice as a family practitioner or internist with much greater freedom than as an anesthesiologist. However, to come this far and be so close to actually living life and enjoying some of the delayed rewards that come with your first real salary, it may be quite a decision to set yourself back a few more years as a struggling resident (especially if you are thinking of having children soon). Remember, your wife has also had to endure these tough growing years of your education as well, and she too will look forward to some of the benefits of the income of a practicing physician. I love that you are hearing and understanding the call to your priorities to God, family, church, role as a provider.

I don't think you truly expected me to be able to solve this for you. I will tell you what I have been up to this past summer. Every month I've been going through Psalms and Proverbs (5 Psalms, 1 Proverb per day) - I plan on doing this until the year is over. I had taken a basic seminary class about a year and a half a go and it indeed changed my life. I learned so many things. This was one exercise that my professor said to try because it will change your life. He said to try it for 3 months - I thought I'd need twice as long since I'm a layperson! I'm on the 4th run through now and I do see that God is changing my heart and mind... slowly, oh so slowly, because I am so thickheaded and obstinate. His word is giving me perspective and in filling my mind with his wisdom perhaps the decisions I make in regards to the future will be his decisions. I hope this helps.

With regards... Tom

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


My sweet 92 year old grandma passed on yesterday.  We called her the energizer bunny because she never seemed to stop moving...and going...and keeping on.  Even in her dying days, she exceeded the doctor's expectations.  "She'll never make the transfer to hospice," they said...but she did.  "She only last 5 more days," they said...she spent 11 more with my family.  

We had anticipated a difficult, potentially fatal, transition when she "retired" at age 76.  She had co-owned a grocery store for her entire life, working 6, sometimes 7 days a week.  Everyone fretted over what she would do with her now empty days.  Alas, she, like the energizer bunny, kept on ticking.  Trading days of stocking shelves and visiting with customers for days filled with great grandkids, senior citizen meetings and funerals.  Yes, funerals.  She actually enjoyed going to them.  There were weeks when she was at a visitation or funeral almost every day.  Those were my early post college years when I was inundated with weddings.  It was a big joke to her that I was going to so many weddings and she was going to so many funerals.  She had a big extended family and knew basically her whole community since she ran the local grocery store.  She also attend her yearly class reunion!  Since the class size was continually diminishing, they would combine several years, but it still always made me laugh that they were still getting together 70+ years later.

Gram used to join us for dinner on Sundays.  She'd eat two dinners every Sunday.  One at our house and one at my aunt's house.  Gram was all of 4'8" and tiny all around so it was always funny to think of her enjoying two big Sunday dinners.  Since Sunday was her only day off, she was likely feasting on family time more than roast beef.  She usually worked from about noon until 10 pm every day and actually, one Sunday a month she was working as well.  So those family dinners were her chance to visit with us.  One thing I remember about them was that she always had her purse full of hard tack candy (peppermints, butterscotch, etc).  My sister Amy is a picky eater, which Gram knew, but every Sunday without fail, Gram would attempt to bribe Amy to eat some food, offering a hard tack in exchange.  At the time, it drove us all batty, but now it is a sweet memory of who she was.

The other big family time when we were young was family vacations.  Gram was always willing to take some vacation time and tag along on the family vacations - to the beach, to historical sites, to visit family and friends.  Even though she wasn't working during those times, she didn't actually leave all the work at home.  She would bring a huge black garbage bag filled with coupon flyers...and her scissors.  While we travelled in the car to our destination, she clipped coupons.  I was never fully understood why she did that and how it worked but she did.  Also, when she was along, our travels also include grocery store tourism, i.e., stopping at random grocery stores along the way to see what ideas she could glean for her own.  The dads, in particular, groaned at each grocery stop request...us kids did, too.  Of course, now I find myself oohing and aahing over grocery stores and thinking how she'd love to check out some of our local ones, like Central Market with all of it's exotic food selections and fancy prepared foods counters.  

Sometimes our family vacations were directly related to the grocery store.  Like, the time we got to spend a weekend at a local resort (Seven Springs) for a grocery store convention or, the time my parents joined my Gram on a trip to Brazil for another convention.  I guess the grocery store life does have its perks!

Family vacations also gave Gram a chance to let loose and have fun.  I remember one particular vacation to Michigan.  I was junior high age so Gram must have been in her mid-60s.  We visited friends and family.  While visiting a friend in Holland, Michigan, we went to a Dutch village.  Part of the program was a dancing/demonstration thing and before I knew it Gram was dragging my awkward, embarassed 12 year old self onto the dance floor.  She had the time of her life being part of the show!  I wanted to melt into the floor.  On that same visit, Gram joined the kids in horseback riding and trampoline jumping.  I always thought it was pretty special that my grandma was such an active, healthy lady.  Not too many of my friends could boast a trampoline jumping grandma!

On another trip to a family wedding, it was just my mom, Gram, and I.  On the way home, we needed to get something to eat and Gram insisted that truck stop food was the way to go - good and cheap!  Our waitress was a large, tattooed lady who was missing a few teeth.  I was more than a little frightened and I think my mom was to.  We laughed afterward at the memory.  And for the record, the food wasn't that good.

Speaking of weddings, they were Gram's favorite events (next to funerals).  She was quite the dancer and she would spend the entire wedding on the dance floor.  There were many weddings where she was the first one on the floor and the last one off.  Even at my wedding, when she was 85 years old, she spent much of the time dancing.  I've been told that she was quite the dancer in her youth.  

For Gram, family was the most important part of her life.  She loved to write and receive letters from relatives.  She always carried a stack of pictures in her purse so she could update friends and family on all of the special people in her life.  Her house was filled with pictures, old and new, of family.  For holidays, there was always a card in the mail with a quick update on life.  Sometimes it was so quick that half a thought was missing, but you always knew she was thinking of you!  As she aged and writing became more difficult and illegible, I offered to type one Christmas letter that could be copied for all of her cards.  For my grammatically correct self, it was always hard to type her words and not try to embellish and correct.  I remember the first few rounds were typed on my Brother word processor before computers were even common household item!

Gram lived in the same house for most (maybe all) of her married life.  It was built in the days of corner grocery stores...way before the mega stores we are accustomed to now.  For that reason, part of the house was a big open room, "the store room."  The original intention was that it would be the neighborhood store, but that dream was never realized.  As a child, the store room was our playroom. Anytime we stopped at grandma's, that's where we went.  For a long time there was a pool table in there.  We never used the cues, but we always had fun pushing the balls around the table.  In the eighties, someone came up with the idea that my widowed grandma might find her house too big one day and it was decided that the store room should be converted to a one bedroom apartment.  My grandma finally moved into the apartment last year.  Prior to that, it was the "grandchild suite."  Of her 8 grandchildren, at least 5 of us have lived their during our adult lives.  Two, with their entire families!  It basically had a revolving door.  Once on person moved out another was usually in line to move in.  And, when Gram did move into the apartment, my sister moved into her house.  She has had no shortage of neighbors in the past 20 years!  

And truly, Gram didn't consider us neighbors.  We were more like roommates.  Of course, we wanted to be neighbors and it could get frustrating at times, but looking back, it's funny to think of some of the "perks" of living next door.  We all were regaled with Lawrence Welk on Saturday afternoons.  Gram would turn up the volume on the TV really loud so she could hear it...and so could we.  If you happened to peek in on her during one of those times, you'd find her doing the polka across the 60s green threadbare carpet of her living room!  When I lived there, I would get Saturday morning football updates for all of the local high schools - the one I graduated from, the one where we lived and the one where I taught.  She could never understand why I wasn't more enthusiastic about football.  When my cousins lived there with thier children, there was never a shortage of great grandma food - oatmeal cookies, Lorna Doones...The kids loved it.  Their moms, not so much.  

I'm sure I could dig up a dozen more memories - marigolds, SNPJ, Eva, the farmer's market...Gram lived a long and vibrant 92 1/2 years.  She loved her family and her friends.  She loved life!  And she was much loved.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Crab of the Ocean on the Beach

by Caedmon

Once upon a time, I found this big seashell.  I thought it was a big seashell, but when I touched it, it stood up on all hind legs.  It was a crab!  It ran into the ocean. I felt surprised.  It was a bit scary.  Then I ran to mama and Libby.  They were at the tide pools.  I told them "Quick! Quick! I saw a crab and it ran into the ocean!" I was breathing heavily.

The Pledge of Surfing

by Caedmon

One time I was surfing with my teacher Mr. Sparky.  It was really, really, really fun!  First, I had to practice on the shore.

I practiced standing and Mr. Sparky taught me all the skills I needed to know for my lesson.  The two most important things are look at the shore and bend my knees.  I could bend them as low as I needed to.  After I practiced on the shore, I went real surfing.  Mr. Sparky gave me a surf board.

 I had to go out in the ocean.  I had to paddle with my hands.

 Then, Mr. Sparky shot me towards the shore.  I paddled.

Then, I stood up.  It was fun.

 When I got to the shore, I fell down.  I tried it many times.  It was super fun.  I had a really good lesson and my lesson was super-tastic!
The End.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Day 2011

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

March '11 in Review

March was full of fun spring days playing at parks and riding bikes:

We also still had a few cool days, which kept us inside...playing Wii...

Nai-Nai came back for another visit:

At the end of the month, Tom had a vacation and we headed down to San Antonio...but that's for it's own post.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Texas Road Trip

Tom had a week of vacation scheduled for the end of March.  We thought about skipping town and flying to somewhere exotic, but we couldn't decide on a locale.  Instead, we decided to hop in the car and head to San Antonio for a long weekend.  

Our first stop was the Riverwalk and the Alamo.  Caedmon briefly studied the Alamo as part of his homeschool class so he was really excited to see it.  We enjoyed a few photo ops and a quick tour.  

We also walked the Riverwalk and ate a yummy Mexican dinner.  We spent the evening swimming in the pool at our hotel before attempting an early bedtime in an effort to be prepared for a busy day at...

Sea World San Antonio!!

We started our day at breakfast with the Sesame Street characters.  Caedmon thought it was really cool...and Libby really did NOT!  Overall it was probably an overpriced photo opportunity, but live and learn...

After breakfast and visiting with the characters, we headed to the Sesame Street Bay of Play for some fun "kiddie" rides.  I think this was the first time the kids got to try out amusement park rides.  They thought it was super fun and probably could have spent the whole day there.  After Tom had to crawl through a 25 foot tunnel after an adventurous Libby, the adults were ready to trade in the rides for animal and show viewing.

The rest of our day was spent enjoying the shows - sea lions, beluga whales and orcas...dolphins, sharks and more.  Somehow, we didn't get any more pictures. Tom and I were amazed at the quality of the shows.  It's not the Sea World of our youth.  We especially enjoyed the beluga whale show, where there were amazing divers and synchronized swimmers. 

Originally, we intended to spend part of Sunday there as well.  However, we overdid it on the first day and when the kids couldn't wind down well after we put them to bed, we called it a fun trip and set out for home.  

Monday, February 28, 2011

February '11 in Review

Just when we were thinking that Texas had missed out on snow for the winter, we were hit with ice, snow, and freezing temperatures galore.  While it made for some bad travel days for Tom...and a little cabin fever, the kids were thrilled to play outside (yes, even with windchills in the teens and in rainboots!).

When they visited last month, Pappy and Memama brought along some Steelers garb so that we could support my hometown team (Tom, who spent his medical school years in Milwaukee, was rooting for the Packers so it's fortunate, neither of us are diehard football fans).  We watched a bit of the Superbowl before bedtime.

Our homeschool group had a Valentine card exchange so we spent some of our housebound snow days making 50+ Valentine's day cards with paint and glitter glue.  

February also brought visits from Nai-Nai and Aunt Mary.  You can see Nai-Nai in our snow pictures.  Aunt Mary came to run in the Run For Justice with us.  There's a whole separate blog post about that.  A few other highlights from February were: 

A pirate and fairy dress-up birthday party for our friend Lauren

Getting our faces painted by our fabulous and talented babysitter Sarah

Celebrating my friend Erin's miracle baby, Owen

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Run: 4Justice

On February 12, 2011 , our home church sponsored Run: 4Justice, a 5K Run/Walk (and 1K Fun Run for kids) which was a fundraising effort to raise money for the International Justice Mission. The IJM is a human rights organization that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual and other forms of violent oppression around the world. In particular, our focus has been on the child sex trafficking in Cambodia. Teams go from the church yearly to partner with IJM in Cambodia and work with them.

When I first heard that my church was sponsoring a run, I decided to jump on board as an effort to motivate myself to get on the treadmill more often. I have never run a 5K but have always thought it would be a good goal for myself. I enlisted my sister-in-law Mary to fly out and join me. She is an avid runner so I figured I'd probably be trailing far behind her but I thought it would be fun anyway. I mentioned to Tom that he should jump in on the fun, too, but initially he was reluctant to commit. However, once we saw the promotional video for the race, both Tom and I were in 100%. Every Sunday, when the video was shown, I was brought to tears. I can't help but think of Libby when I see those girls. What those beautiful children are going through is despicable to God and should make us rise to action on their behalf. If I can help even one of them running a little more than 3 miles and donating money (neither of which is really much sacrifice), then I will certainly do it. Tom asked his co-workers from the hospital in Dallas  to partner with him in the run and several of them did.

My training faltered in January when Tom and I were hit with the flu and stomach bug and it felt like we spent most of the month struggling to get out of bed, let alone train for the run.  When the week of the race came, I hadn't hit the treadmill but once in the new year.  Yikes!  Although the actual running seemed daunting, our family was really excited about being a part of such a great mission.  We bundled up (it was 28 degrees at the start of the day) and joined 1300 other people to run for justice!

Mary and I joined the runners at the head of the pack.  Amazingly, I was able to jog most of the 3.1 miles.   Tom and the kids (in our monster double jogger) joined a few of  his co-workers near the back with the rest of the walkers.  We all finished and were proud of our success.  However, the bigger success was the $133,000 raised to support the Internation Justice Mission and their work to free those precious girls in Cambodia.  "We rescue people because we are rescued people!"

100% of the proceeds from the RUN:4JUSTICE will benefit International Justice Mission and the work of freeing young girls from the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia.

Monday, January 31, 2011

January '11 in Review

Since, I'm so far behind in my blogging, I thought I'd catch up by doing the past few months in review.

January began with a holiday visit from Nai-Nai and Yeh-Yeh (Tom's parents).  They spent Christmas with Tom's sister, brother, sister-in-law and nephews in Phoenix and then, came here for the New Year.  It was a good reason to make Christmas last a bit longer...Here they are by our Christmas tree:

They also tagged along to swim and karate lessons and spent lots of time playing with Caedmon and Libby...and of course, no grandparent visit is complete without a trip to the park!

In January, we started a once a week homeschool class called Classical Conversations. We all enjoyed the weekly fellowship with other homeschooling families and Caedmon is soaking up information like a sponge!  The rest of our "homeschool" life this year has been mostly doing lots of reading and learning through life - field trips, cooking, building, coloring, etc. We've also enjoyed good time with friends...

Pappy and Memama also made a January visit to the Lone Star State.  

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