Tuesday, December 30, 2008


...for the flu, migraines, sore throats, and stomach viruses.

We had a wonderful Christmas week at my parent's house - full of family, friends, dates with my husband, and time spent with Uncle Jeff. Unfortunately, my holidays (and several other members of my family) were spoiled (or cut short) by illnesses. I got the migraine, fever, throw-ups. My brother has the fever, sore throat. And Grandma got the stomach bug.

I got sick on the way back into DC. I willed myself not to throw-up for hours, but after an hour of the chills and knowing I needed to throw-up to feel better I just let it happen. I felt so much better. My fever lasted until late Sunday night. I'm continuing to recover...the fever and nursing has made me so stinking dehydrated.

In the midst of all of this, I'm getting ever-so-close to my comprehensive exams. Less than two weeks now. I'm made it through all of my notes and in some instances am beginning to review my review notes. There is SO much to remember!

Posts will be few and far between for the next couple of weeks, but stay tuned. I have already begun writing my 2008 Year End Review (a recount of my 30th year of life) and a holiday summary.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Foods that remind me of Christmas:

1. white chocolate peppermint crunch candy
2. hot chocolate
3. cinnamon stick cookies
4. molasses cut out cookies
5. snickerdoodles with either red or green sprinkles
6. peppermint stick ice-cream

The white chocolate peppermint crunch candy has been made. It is beautiful. Unfortunately, I don't like it. We'll be giving it all away.

I had fabulous hot chocolate last night. It was an organic powder mix from Trader Joes. So good...

This year is the first time since college that I haven't made cookies. I'm pretty sure my mom has made the cut out cookies and snickerdoodles. I'll be sure to grab a few of each from her stash. I know she hasn't made the cinnamon stick cookies because she thinks they are too cinnamon-ie (I don't think such a taste can't have too much cinnamon). She also thinks the cinnamon cookies make other cookies on a plate together taste like cinnamon. I think as a birthday gift to myself, I might make a half recipe to enjoy.

As for peppermint stick ice-cream, it is hard to come by. I'm craving a large mug of creamy hot chocolate with a scoop of peppermint ice-cream. Hopefully I'll be able to find the ice-cream in the next couple of days. However, it may be better for my waistline and hips if I don't find it.


Today: went to school to meet with my study group. It was a good meeting and the baby was an angel.

Tonight: we're going to deliver bread and candy to all of our neighbors. Then we're having spaghetti and "meat" sauce for dinner.

Bummer of the day: I dressed the baby up in a beautiful WHITE Christmas outfit today. And, obviously, she had a large diaper explosion. It was so big that the Baby Bjorn needs to be washed. Here's hoping we can get the stain out of her outfit...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I spend most of my days at home. To fill my home with the sounds of the season (and to distract myself from a crying baby), I'm listening to Christmas carols. Specifically, I'm listening to DC's WASH fm. They are playing Christmas music the whole month of December. For the most part, I'm enjoying the music. I've heard one too many versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but overall it has been a pleasant experience. Between the music, baking, the pine scented candle, decorations, and the best Christmas outfit for my baby (complete with RED Mary Janes!), I'm feeling quite festive this year. I received five Christmas cards today, which really made it feel like Christmas (btw... Mom, your Christmas card was beautiful. I see why you liked it so much).

Back to the music... I was thinking today, after hearing These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things (from The Sound of Music): what makes a song a Christmas carol? There is nothing in These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things that says anything about Christmas. Why do "we" then associate it with Christmas? Why does a station playing only Christmas music play such a song? Is there a history/story here that I'm missing? I associate the song with a terrible thunderstorm and a pillow fight. Again, what is the link to Christmas?

If anyone has an answer, please let me know.

Otherwise, enjoy this festive season.


Tonight: our church prayer group is meeting to celebrate birthdays and Christmas, which means I'm comfortable taking the baby. Our group has been so welcoming of our little one, but I hate being the one with the screaming baby.

Tomorrow: venturing up to school to meet with my study group and introduce everyone to the baby. I'm a little nervous about driving up there alone with the baby, but am fairly confident she'll end up sleeping.

Studying: is going well. Tomorrow my study group is going to go over SAS (thank goodness). I'm nearly 3/4 of the way through all of my statistics notes and about halfway through my epidemiology flash cards. I'm feeling good about my progress, but nervous about my test. I need to get a lot of work done before January.

Upcoming events: visiting with neighbors tomorrow night and bringing them homemade bread and candy. Also preparing for my birthday... am I really 31?

Monday, December 15, 2008


David claims I don't love football; I love the Steelers. And he's right. Growing up in Pittsburgh you are taught to love the Steelers through thick and thin. There were some tough, ugly years in the late 1980s. And then there was the disappointment of the January 1996 Super Bowl, and the 2002 AFC Championship game against the Patriots (where some hotshot rookie named Tom Brady walked all over the Steeler's defense in Three Rivers Stadium, nonetheless). But everything came together on February 5, 2006 when "The Bus" lead the Steelers to their fifth Super Bowl win. (The weekend of the Steelers' Super Bowl win was even sweeter for me because I was married the day before!)

The bottomline is I'm a Steelers' fan and proud of it. My PINK Steelers' jersey shirt goes to prove it (as does the baby's Steelers' onesies). Since we don't own a TV, I usually spend Sunday afternoons following the online ESPN ticker while the Steelers are playing. I can see up-to-date results throughout the game.

Yesterday the Steelers played the Ravens, in Baltimore, and it occurred to me that even though I don't own a TV there is a TV in my house. My dad brought a little 13 inch TV with him when he came for the week the baby was born. Since the Steeler game was the local game yesterday and my rabbit years successfully pick up CBS, I decided to watch the game. And I am so glad that I did.

What a game. What a way to finish things off in the last two minutes.

I'm so proud to be a fan. And so glad I was able to watch the game yesterday (it was the baby's first game and she loved it!).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Dear Baby Girl,

You turned two months old this past Sunday. I cannot believe how fast you are growing...

During the past two months, you've experienced a lot of firsts. First trip in the car, first night alone in the bassinet, first bath, first trip to Target, first visits with friends, first late night snack, first sunrise cry-fest, our first nap together, first "exercises" on the changing table, first hugs, first kisses, and first smile. I've loved each of these moments and will treasure them forever.

We've worked together to get you eating well. And we've discovered that the secret to you sleeping well is swaddling you tightly and bracing you between rolled blankets so you can't move around and startled yourself awake. Your Daddy and I try hard, but we still cannot prevent diaper explosions (hopefully you'll grow into your reusable diapers soon). We love you and will continue to clean up and try to prevent these messes.

You went to the doctor yesterday. You now weigh 9 pounds 15 ounces and you're 22.5 inches long. You are in the 25th percentile for weight and 50th for height. Your head circumference is an inch bigger this month compared to last, but it is still tiny... 15 inches (10th percentile). They refer to your size as a "peanut", but you are healthy and growing according to schedule.

I love dressing you up in all your girly clothes. My favorite outfit of yours is your pink jumper with matching diaper cover and your grey and pink striped tights. I'm so looking forward to dressing you up in your Christmas outfit! You'll get to wear it this Friday when we go to what will be your first Christmas party.

Life has really changed for me during the past few months. I'm not going to write down all the details because what you need to know is that I love being your Mommy. You are such a delight and will forever be my little "pumpkin". I cannot imagine my life without you. I cherish moments like the one I'm having right now with you asleep in my arms. It brings me so much joy to watch you sleep... I cannot imagine what it will feel like when you call me "Mommy" for the first time or are able to reach for me when I go to pick you up.

My prayer for you is that you continue to grow big and strong. And that you continue to thrive. I look forward to hearing your little voice and watching you grow up into a little girl.

You are so precious to me. And I love you.


Sunday, December 7, 2008


I highly recommend adding International Delight's MOCHA ALMOND FUDGE creamer to your coffee. It is a true delight.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


With the Christmas holiday just a few weeks away, there is much to be done. Our 'to do' list includes: writing Christmas cards, buying presents, mailing presents, making cookies, making candy, and (new this year) making breads. I got an early start on this list today, seeing I was up around 6am. Nothing like a baby who doesn't want to sleep any more to get your day going early...

Before 10am nearly all of my Christmas cards were written, addressed, and stamped. As the afternoon is coming to a close, I can proudly say that nearly all the cards are finished, we have the box for our family in Taiwan nearly filled, cookies are in the oven, and my white chocolate covered pretzels (with red and green sprinkles) are complete. It has been quite a productive day.

To make things just a little bit more festive, we saw a few snowflakes this afternoon. D says that the ground is getting a little crunchy - it might be cold enough for the snow to stick. Hope we wake up for a beautiful winter wonderland tomorrow...

It is really starting to feel like Christmas. Next week things will really kick into high gear when we start baking breads to give to neighbors and the white chocolate peppermint crunch candy is made.

I love this time of year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm sure you've all seen (either in-person or on the Discovery Channel) violence in nature... a shark jumps out of the water to capture a seal; a lion devours its prey; an alligator attacks and drowns an unsuspecting zebra, or a dog hunts down a baby bunny. One expects these acts of violence out in the wild. You don't expect them to take place in your backyard, especially when you live in the city. Unfortunately, they do take place in your backyard...

This morning I looked out our back window only to find a huge black crow sitting on our fence. He was busy doing something so I gave him a closer look. And what did I see???

Just a crow sitting on my fence eating the head off a baby rat. That's right... the big bird draped the tiny rat over the fence and was eating it from the head down. As I watched from the downstairs window, D watched from upstairs. After the crow flew away, we met on the steps to see if the other had seen the brutal act that took place in our backyard. D went outside to see what had been left behind, And what did he find? Oh... just a half eaten rat (without a head) and chunks of rat flesh stuck in our fence.


Being the wonderful husband that he is, he took several trash bags outside and cleaned up the mess. After he came back inside the crow was back with a couple if friends looking for the remains of its kill. Seeing that the rat was gone, the crows flew away.

Hopefully we'll never see anything like this again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


It's only been 48 hours since I publicly laid out my plans to study for my comprehensive exam, and I'm going to make some changes. It's not that I'm not studying. I AM. In fact yesterday was a really good study day for me. It is just that I realized that simply going through flashcards is not the best way for me to learn. I actually get the most out of MAKING the flashcards. Writing out what I need to know, re-writing slides and class notes, is how I learn. This has always been the case. Flashcards are great, but I need to write things out to get them to stick in my brain.

With this in mind, I am planning to spend the rest of this week rewriting my slides and notes from my first biostats class. This weekend I'm still planning to focus on SAS.

Next week, I'm going to turn my attention to my second biostats class.

The week of the 15th I'm going to spend the first half of the week focusing on epidemiology and the second half of the week doing biostats problem sets.

The week of Christmas my aim is still to get through all of my flashcards AGAIN. After writing out all of the materials the flashcards should be a good review.


Other plans: this weekend we are going to get our Christmas cards written, addressed, and mailed (assuming that they are delivered before then). We also need to mail our gift's to D's family in Taiwan. On Sunday we're going to make cookies and candy with the little boy D has been mentoring all year. And in the midst of all that, I'm going to study.

Today: just got home from Target where I bought supplies for making cookies and candy. I was surprised that Ghirardelli chocolate chips were less expensive than the Nestle's brand. Who would have guessed?

Sleep update: the baby woke up at midnight and 4am to eat last night. And then slept until after 7am. It was wonderful. I'm hoping the 4am feeding will begin to stretch out closer to the 7am feeding. Shoot, I'd be happy if she went from midnight to 6am and then was up for the day. All in due time...

Biggest worry: Monday is shot day. The baby has her two month pediatrician visit and it is time for shots. I'm stressed out. She has to get four shots. I have a lot to say about this and immunizations, but will save it for another post...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Slowly, but surely we are creating our very own family traditions. For instance, each year we celebrate Easter with a fantastic seafood dinner (usually five courses for eight adults, the maximum that will fit at our dining room table). We also reserve each Thursday night as our "date night". Obviously this has changed dramatically in the past two months, but we were still able to get out to a fancy dinner in DuPont about a month ago when my mom was in town and willing to babysit. Our dates will look different in the weeks, months, and years to come, but we are hoping to keep the tradition of Thursday night date nights - even if we just get an hour or two together after the little one is asleep and can watch a movie together.

[Side note: Our first Thursday night date night was Inauguration Night 2004. Our four year date night anniversary is quickly approaching!]

Back to traditions... with Christmas quickly approaching, we are thinking about what traditions we'd like to build with our family. We plan to make it a tradition (this will be our second year) to visit all of our neighbors the week before Christmas and give them a holiday treat. This year we will be preparing an assortment of sweet breads - banana, lemon, pumpkin, and a cinnamon sour-cream, white chocolate peppermint crunch candy, and chocolate covered pretzels. Last year we had a wonderful time visiting with neighbors and spreading some Christmas cheer. We also have taken the time (this year will be our third year) to visit the Botanical Gardens during an evening before the holidays. It is beautifully decorated and in the evenings they have live music. And we usually run into someone we know while there, which is always a pleasant surprise. We're planning to go again in two weeks.

Besides that, we don't have any traditions YET... I think this is a good start, but I'm looking forward to building more traditions with my family.

Do you have any good holiday traditions you'd like to share with us?

Monday, December 1, 2008


Truth be told, I've been listening to Christmas music for several weeks now. I love the sounds of the season. Usually I don't allow myself to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but since Thanksgiving was so late this year I decided to get a jump start on my listening pleasures. Much to my delight, on Sunday when I walked into church music from The Messiah was playing.

Several years ago I took my mom to hear The Messiah performed at the National Cathedral. It was wonderful. Friends of mine are going to hear it this coming Sunday, but because of a birthday party and a nursing baby I'm not going to be able to make it. Bummer...

As a consolation I purchased a copy of The Messiah, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, on iTunes this afternoon - for the bargain price of $7.99. We'll enjoy the music throughout the Christmas season and beyond...


December is here, which means January is right around the corner. And that means my comprehensive exams are NEXT MONTH. When I decided last spring to attempt to study and take my exams in 2009, it seemed like such a far off date. I was not even six months pregnant at the time; barely showing my tiny belly bump. Now I'm the mother of a nearly two month old and I have to be ready for my exams NEXT MONTH. I'm a little freaked out.

The good news is I have finished all of my background reading. This translates into having finished re-reading two biostatistics and one epidemiology text book. Now I need to move onto my flash cards. I'm going through my first round of biostats cards right now. My goal is to finish this set by Wednesday evening. Then I'll move onto the second set of biostats cards, followed by 14 lessons worth of regression slides to review. I'm hoping to have this all completed by Friday (which will be hard with Lehman coming into town for a visit).

My goal for the weekend is to review SAS, the statistical computer program I am required to know and use for the exam.

Next week I am going to devote my time to epidemiology.

The week of the 15th, I'm going to spend my time doing biostats problem sets.

The week of the 22nd, my goal is to review all of my flash cards AGAIN. You might ask how I plan to do this... well, I'm going to have them in the car with me while we travel over the river and through the woods... I'm also going to make the most of my time nursing the baby. While she's chowing down, I'm going to study.

The details of my study plan are more for my benefit than your reading pleasure. Writing down my goals will help me stay focused. You'll be able to hold me accountable. Weekly study updates will be posted on Fridays. Stay tuned...


Favorite holiday item: my soy EVERGREEN scented candle. Lighting it makes our entire house smell like Christmas.