Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 2

1- Our household goods arrive today!!!!!!!!  We've basically been living out of suitcases for a month and a half, with generic loaner furniture now since moving into our house, so this is SUPER exciting.

2- They can't pick up the loaner furniture until Monday.  The weekend may be a bit crowded around these parts.

3- Josie, amazingly, slept through the night on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  On Tuesday night, Faith woke up crying with a bad dream.  On Wednesday night, Faith fell out of bed and cried, and then a few hours later woke up asking for a drink of water.  Last night Faith slept through the night like her normal, sleep-trained self.  Josie woke up at 3am to nurse.  I recognize that all of this is perfectly reasonable toddler and baby behavior. But maybe they could get together and try to coordinate, so that I can maybe sleep through the night at least once?  (Cue laughter from all parents of more than one child.)

4- I'm officially licensed to practice medicine on Guam!  Woohoo!  Did I already talk about that in a previous post?  I do t remember, and I don't care much, because I'm composing this post during the forementioned 3am nursing session.

5- Now I just need to get credentialed with the various insurance companies accepted by my office.  This is a weird process because they all have their own long, complicated application packets they want me to fill out, which aren't standardized at ALL.  They all want to know my license information, but otherwise it's a crap shoot.  Some want to know where I went to med school, some don't care.  Some ask for references, some don't.  One wants a copy of my college diploma.  One wants to know how many CME credits I have.  One wants to know whether I plan on working part-time (yes), and if so, why?  It's kind of bizarre.

6- I also need to be studying for the Boards, which I take in October.  This is not going as well as planned.  Yesterday I spent most of the girls' nap time on the phone with our internet provider because our internet wasn't working.  Then I got 5 practice questions done!  Aaaaand then Faith woke up and demanded a snack and a re-reading (complete with hand motions) of her current favorite book.  They should make an Etsy print saying, "Mommy, I'm sorry we don't let you study for the Boards as much as you need to!  Just kidding. I don't care."  (Kidding. They shouldn't make that.  It would be a poor investment.  I would buy one, but I can see how that would have slightly less mass appeal than the one linked above.)

7- ALSO, I need to work on writing a research paper.  My last year of residency I did a research project that I got to present at a poster session in our hospital, and my mentor wants us to turn it into a paper to publish.  Which is great, because - publishing a paper!  Awesome!  But it needs to be submitted over the next couple of months, which... is also the couple of months that include "studying for boards," "starting a new job," and "moving into our house on the other side of the world."  Fun fun fun!

Go to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

theme thursday: food

It's actually Friday morning for me, but it's not for (most of) you, so what the hey.

 I made hash browns for breakfast. They were super yummy. When Faith woke up she immediately demanded food (as usual) so I served her up a bowl of deliciousness. She ate one piece of corn and then abandoned her food to go play with her ABC magnets, and refused to eat anymore.  Alas.

Head over to Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday pics.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

et tu, amazon?

I had basically come to terms with the lack of a Starbucks, Ikea, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, or Target on Guam. (Well, okay, the Target part still stings a little.)  I was consoling myself with the fact that Amazon ships here.  And I do love me some Amazon.  We even got Prime last year and we've been loving the free two-day shipping and the streaming videos (especially important after Netflix got rid of Faith's favorite show, Yo Gabba Gabba, with no warning... humph).

So today I was placing an Amazon order for the first time since moving here (because we FINALLY HAVE INTERNET, hallelujah), for various items including Jack's birthday presents, when I learned a Terrible Truth. Actually, three Terrible Truths.

1. Amazon does ship to Guam, but they don't ship everything. Now, for some things this makes sense. Furniture, for instance. But some of the things they don't ship mystify me. For instance, I can order this popsicle mold but not this one.  Is there any hint that one is significantly different from the other, shipping-wise?  Not that I could find.  I guess this means Amazon shopping will be like a Game Of Chance now.  Search... read through reviews... find the perfect item... now, drumroll... can we actually buy it?!?  So exciting!!!!

2. Amazon does ship (some things) to Guam, but NOT for standard shipping rates... and certainly no free two-day Prime shipping... and not even any free super-saver shipping.  Despite the fact that the US Post Office considers Guam basically a state, and to mail a letter here you just need one stamp, just like everywhere else in America.  This I kind of understand (we are in the middle of nowhere) but it's still quite disappointing.

3. Amazon does ship (some things) to Guam (for more dinero), but they do NOT stream videos here.  "What?!" I hear you exclaim. "How does that even make sense??"  Um, yeah.  It doesn't.  I might think there's some mysterious media regulation that I don't know about... except Netflix, Hulu, and Apple don't have any problem streaming videos here.  And also, they'll stream videos to Puerto Rico, which has the exact same "US Territory" status that Guam has.  So WTF?!

So basically, I'm feeling all grumpy and betrayed.  Picture me plunging an imaginary dagger into my heart when I realized the above facts.  I TRUSTED YOU, AMAZON!!!!!  *shakes fist at the sky*

(First-world problems, right?)

Friday, August 16, 2013

new house photo dump

WE HAVE A HOUSE! One that we can ACTUALLY LIVE IN NOW! Only those who've spent a month living in hotels will understand how exciting this is. There are, like, multiple rooms and a driveway and everything.

Our house!

It's not the prettiest architecture in the world, I know, but all houses on Guam are built really low with a flat roof like that, the better to withstand typhoons (note the hurricane shutters by all the windows).

Living room (which I think we'll use as combination living room and study):

Look how much counter space! And cabinets! The kitchen at our last house was like half that size, and only had two, count 'em, two, drawers.

Dining area, with family room beyond:
(There are a little toddler head and finger sneaking into the picture, of course.)

Family room, which will be a craft/playroom:

The back patio (accessed via the family room door):

Master bedroom:
It has its own bathroom! And a walk-in closet! Squee!

Laundry room (just off the kitchen):

There are two other bedrooms, a hallway bathroom, two big storage closets, and a garage, but they are not that interesting without furniture.  We did get loaner furniture delivered a few hours after I took the pictures, so we're not, you know, sleeping on the floor and stuff.

AND I was notified that my medical license was approved! Yay! I'm all official-like!

Next up: getting Internet and awaiting delivery of our Unaccompanied Baggage (mostly kitchen stuff).

Oh, and I thought I'd include a little info about the getting-a-house process, in case anyone stumbles on this blog looking for info on their upcoming PCS to Guam (I know I hunted for blog entries to get first-hand info when we first got our orders). Feel free to skip the remainder of the post unless you're interested in the details of Finding Military Housing.

We qualified for a 3-bedroom house because we have 2 kids (which is nice especially given the fact that we could conceivably have another while we're here). (Ha! "Conceive-ably." That was an  inadvertent pun.)   When we arrived, the housing office told us there were 2 houses available that we qualified for, one in Lockwood (on Big Navy) and one in Nimitz Hill (about halfway between Big Navy and the Naval Hospital).  We asked about Apra View, because we'd heard that it was the newest and most desirable neighborhood. Well, apparently everyone else had heard that too, because there was a TWELVE-MONTH wait list for Apra View!!! WHAT!!!?! Um, no.

We were told that the Nimitz house was available for immediate occupancy, but the Lockwood house wouldn't be ready for about 2 weeks (the previous occupants had just moved out, so it was still being cleaned/repainted/etc). And for the same reason, we could go and tour the Nimitz house, but not the Lockwood one.  But they did give us floor plans for each.

Well, even comparing the floor plans, it looked like Lockwood was the way to go. It was about half again as big (almost 1500 square feet vs about 1000), with 2 bathrooms instead of 1... a family room vs, um, no family room... a laundry room vs just having the washer and dryer in the kitchen... a garage vs a carport... a bigger patio... and Lockwood was a stand-alone house while the Nimitz place was a duplex (which is fine, but we have loud babies and we like our privacy).

But we decided to go tour the Nimitz Hill place because, why not. The neighborhood was very pretty - more park-like and with bigger yards than Lockwood. But the house was (unsurprisingly) tiny, and... there were dead cockroaches. In almost every room. Ew. Now, to be fair, the house had been empty for awhile and would be re-cleaned before occupancy... and at least the roaches were dead... but still.  Ew.  

And even discounting the bugs, the Nimitz Hill place had only a few advantages (bigger yards, closer to work, available immediately) and many disadvantages-- aside from differences in the houses themselves, Lockwood is closer to the Commissary, the Exchange, and the beach. Also, when we went to go look at the Lockwood house from the outside, the next-door neighbor generously let us see inside her house (which was a different floor plan, but similar enough to give us a general idea).

 I'm so glad we stuck it out!

Now, we did consider living off-base in the community, too. A lot of people will say "DON'T DO IT" but it's a totally reasonable option.  Jack's PCS sponsor lives in the community with her family, and their house is really nice.  But we decided to live on-base mainly for the sheer convenience factors of not having to worry about whether our landlord would be good or not, and not having to worry about paying for utilities - especially on Guam where you need A/C year-round.  Electric bills in the community can get pricey if you're not careful. Base housing has central air, but everywhere else on the island there are separate A/C units for each room, so you can conserve your electricity and only cool the rooms you need to. (They work really well, not like window units in the states, but you have to be more strategic/mindful about it than on-base.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

inside, outside

One of Faith's favorite requests is to go outside. Except usually she asks to "go in outside."  She gets a little confused with prepositions/adjectives and their opposites... she'll often say "need door open" when she means "closed," "need light off" when she means "on," etc.  It can get a bit confusing.

And in fact, thinking back, I might have accidentally lied on her 30-month Ages & Stages questionnaire, when it asked something about your toddler knowing the difference between "on," "under," "around," and the like. I was all "oh yeah, she's totally got that."  Oops.

Yesterday we worked on knowing the difference between "inside" and "outside."  Faith would step out onto our hotel balcony and I would follow her, and we'd both exclaim "Outside!!"  Then we both stepped back through the doorway and said "Inside!!" just as excitedly. We did this approximately four hundred times. The hotel housekeeper was there at the time, too, and I'm pretty sure she thought there was something wrong with me.

But this was not the end of the balcony adventures. Jack and I were reading or something, and Faith was playing with her toys and going in and out onto the balcony, doing her incomprehensible "I'm a 2-year-old and my games make no sense" thing.


It turns out that the best game ever? Is dropping things over the edge of the balcony.

Her shoes, my shoes, her toys, whatever.

Jack went out to retrieve our belongings (of course our balcony is the maximum possible distance from the hotel entrance, just to add to the fun). I was standing on the balcony, trying not to laugh, with Faith who obviously still thought this was the best ever and hugely successful.

Rearranging my face into what I hoped was a stern expression, I told her, "No, Faithy. You can't throw things over the edge. That's very naughty."

She looked at me for a second, then covered her face with her hands (clearly realizing the depth of her transgression for the first time). I wasn't going to say anything more about it, but Faith apparently thought more reparation was necessary.  So she trudged inside, dragged a chair into the corner, and put herself in time-out.

Omg, how cute is she?!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

how we got here

As you may have figured out from my vague description in the first entry, Guam is really far away from the continental US.  Like… 23 hours and multiple connecting flights away.  Just the kind of trip you’d want to take with a toddler and a newborn, right?  By yourself, because (due to a paperwork screw-up, of course) your husband traveled there a week ahead of the rest of you?  Sounds like a good time, right? 

No.  Incorrect.  It was not a good time.

But we did survive.

If you ever travel with a toddler on a long plane ride, here are my suggestions.

1- Have some method of bodily moving them through the airport, be it Beco/Ergo carrier, stroller, or a contraption like this (which is what we used, as I was also lugging carseats).  Faith is normally an excellent walker for a two-year-old, but it’s a stressful trip for anyone, and toddlers have less emotional reserve than adults, so I just knew that if I tried to have her walk, she would at some point freak out and throw herself on the floor and we’d miss our connecting flight.  (This definitely would have happened, by the way, because we had extremely short layovers, so I was all flushed and sweating and puffing by the time I reached the next gate, where they were of course already boarding.)

2- Videos.  I know, I know.  I’m a friggin’ pediatrician, I know the TV is not meant to be a babysitter, it’s bad for Learning And Development, etc.  But we’re talking sheer survival here.  Bring a portable DVD player, download movies to your laptop/tablet, whatever.  When your toddler is exhausted and miserable and on the verge of FREAKING OUT because THEY JUST DON’T WANT TO BE STRAPPED INTO THEIR SEAT ANYMORE and THEY ARE DONE WITH THIS STUPID AIRPLANE (and who can blame them?)... they don’t want to participate in enriching activities carefully crafted to improve their pattern recognition and fine motor skills (though we brought some of those, too).  They want to be lulled mindlessly through another 30 tortuous minutes of travel via the antics of the Yo Gabba Gabba gang.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  Your fellow passengers will thank you.  And besides, isn't that what you want when you're on an airplane, too?

3- Buy some type of activity/tray thing with sides to help prevent spillage of crayons and crackers and such - as much as possible, anyway.  We used this one.

4- Bring snacks.  The second flight we took, which was EIGHT HOURS and brought us from Houston to Honolulu… served no food (except to buy, for extra $$$).  WHAT?!  I know, right?  But we successfully subsisted on peanut butter crackers, granola bars, raisins, chex mix, etc.  I tried to keep it moderately healthy to avoid the dreaded sugar rush/crash.

5- Speaking of sustenance, did you know that if you have little kids, they can each bring a drink through airport security?  (The security guys will just test it to make sure you’re not packing explosives in their sippy cups.)  And did you also know that when the flight attendants bring their drink carts around, you can ask them to refill said drink container with water?  I don’t know if that’s a policy or if they just felt sorry for me, but they refilled Faith’s Sigg water bottle like three times.  That’s three $6 bottles of airport water I didn’t have to buy.  (Not that I would have actually had a chance - see above Extremely Short Layovers.)

6- This one doesn’t just apply to toddlers, but we discovered these things shortly before our trip, and they are amazing.  Have you ever heard of Limeade chargers?  I hadn’t until recently.  You charge them up at home, and then you can use them to charge your devices (phones/tablets) when you don’t have access to an outlet… like, say, when you’re on a 23-hour plane trip with super short layovers.  They’re only slightly larger than a cell phone themselves, and one kept my smartphone and tablet charged during the entire trip, despite almost constant use of both (iPad toddler games, the Yo Gabba Gabba episodes mentioned above, Kindle books for me, etc).  My trip would have been much more miserable without it. Useful post-travel, too - ever been in a coffee shop, hoping to get some electronic work (or "work"... ahem) done, and all the tables near outlets are taken?  Super annoying... BEFORE these bad boys came into my life, that is.

7- Your toddler is going to freak out at some point.  Just accept it.  Take a deep breath in and out, will yourself into a Zen state or something, don’t panic, and try not to get angry.  They're not doing it on purpose.  To quote an article on tantrums I read awhile ago (a good read; I recommend it), your toddler isn’t giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time.  There was one point on the second flight when I was taking Faith on a walk down the aisle of the plane to give her a chance to stretch her legs, and something tipped her over the edge (I don’t remember what - nothing major at all), and she literally threw herself onto the floor of the plane and had a screaming, kicking tantrum.  I remembered the above advice, took a deep breath, picked her flailing little body up, sat down in my seat with her, and stayed as calm as possible.  We cuddled and sang quietly for awhile, whatever songs she wanted and as many times as she wanted (which was a LOT of rounds of "Jesus Loves Me"), and I told her a bunch of times, “I wish we could go outside like you want to, but we can’t, baby, so what else can I do to make you feel better?”  Eventually she actually requested to go back in her seat and she fell asleep.  And people were nice about it.  I think they felt sorry for me. (Just to be clear, I'm not trying to make myself out as some saintly, eternally-patient mother figure.  I'm not.  At all.  But it was good advice that I read before the trip, and it worked for me.)

Fortunately Josie is an extremely accommodating baby and slept/chilled happily through most of the trip.  I was about to say "Thank God for small favors," but then I realized that was actually a BIG favor.  Thank Him for those, too.

Friday, August 9, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 1

Pop quiz: what's an easy way to bump up your post count when you have a brand new baby blog?
Answer: join a link-up!

(Did you cheat and look at the answer? Shame.)

So without further ado:

1. I was looking for all the Seven Quick Takes posts so I could actually figure out HOW to join a link-up - being the new inexperienced baby blogger that I am - and there weren't any, and I was really confused, but then I realized I'm in Guam, and although it's past 8am here, it's not actually Friday yet for a large part of the world. So I'll just write the post and actually publish it later. (Was that a cheater #1, or what?)

2. We chose the hotel where we're temporarily living because it has kitchenettes in the rooms. Good plan, right?  We didn't realize, however, that it does not have Wifi. (Thus my phone is now getting an excessive amount of use.)  This distresses me to what might be an unreasonable degree. Like, if I had known about the no Wifi thing, I would have been hard-pressed to pick this hotel, despite the kitchen. "Hmm, food or Internet? Food or Internet?" So you tell me: is that a legitimately difficult choice, or is there something wrong with me?

3. We went to the pediatrician this week for Josie's 2-month checkup (and Faith's 2-1/2 year checkup) and girlfriend is almost 13 pounds already. She's at the 96th percentile for weight, people, and exclusively breastfed.  Can we say "oversupply"?

4. I love it though. Her thighs are so chunky and she has dimples in her elbows and her cheeks are so squidgable. I mean, look at these cheeks. Don't you want to squidge them?

5. The Guam Board of Medical Examiners is going to (hopefully) finally grant me a license next week. I feel like this has taken an excessively long time. That is all.

6. We have allowed Faith to watch entirely too much TV during this whole "overseas move" process. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it again (sanity is a valuable thing), but now when I try to limit her screen time, it leads to tears. Many tears.

7. She does do this adorable thing lately, though, where she says "okay" in situations where it's not quite the appropriate word. Just now, I forbade her from watching a third episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, which (as noted above) led to heartbroken tears. In the midst of her tears this happened:

Need sit on lap!

[confirming, heart melting]
You need to sit on my lap?

[as if it were all my idea - and still sobbing]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

hello and welcome to the other side of the world!

So I used to have a blog during my fourth year of medical school.  It was here:  You can read it if you like!  But I kind of abandoned it during residency, because… RESIDENCY.  There’s a reason that the life mantra for residents is “eat when you can, sleep when you can, pee when you can.”  Note that there is no “blog when you can” in that mantra.  For me there was apparently a “have babies when you can” caveat, though, because I had two.  You know, if you CAN spend half your residency pregnant (and another
year of it breastfeeding/pumping), why WOULDN’T you?

Anyway, residency is now over.  And I felt like starting a new blog instead of picking the old one back up, because SO much of my life has changed since then.  I’m, like, a doctor and a mom and stuff.

And also, living in Guam!

Guam.  Yes.

We just moved here so it’s still a bit surreal. 

What happened was that, back in the fall/winter (I don’t remember exactly when, to be honest), the Navy told Jack, “Here’s a list of 22 places around the world where we have pediatricians practicing.  List them in your order of preference.  Go!  (No guarantees that we will honor your preference.)

Do you know how weird/hilarious it is to list 22 worldwide locations that you know almost nothing about in order of preference?  We had to look some up to see where they were.  We literally wrote them all on slips of paper and then arranged/rearranged them in a list on the floor.  I took a picture of the final result:

It seems a bit random, because… well… it kind of is.  I mean, what order would YOU put them in?  Is Okinawa preferable to Yokosuka?  Rota vs. Sigonella?  Bremerton vs. Jacksonville?  It’s just such a crazy spread of places.  (Some that seem like preferable locations, we ranked lower if they only had a clinic instead of a whole hospital.)

Anyway, back in March they broke the news:  Guam.

In case you’re not ENTIRELY sure where Guam is (as, I’ve found, most people aren’t), it’s a little speck of an island in the Pacific, just north (yes, north) of the equator.  It’s about 1000 miles east of the Philippines, 1500 miles south of Japan, and 1500 miles north of Papua New Guinea.  It’s 30 miles long and about 6 miles wide at the widest point.  Population of around 160,000.

Not much different from DC, right?  (Hahahahaha.)

If you know anything about PCSing (PCS = Permanent Change of Station - the military could rival medicine for number of acronyms), you know that the whole time since they gave Jack his orders to Guam, the whole five months since then, have been full of… paperwork.

(That’s another way the military is similar to medicine, by the way.  Both SOUND exciting, but are in actuality fairly boring and full of mostly paperwork.  Moving to Guam sounds kind of exciting, right?  But in actuality it entails things like getting medical checklists signed off by doctors you’ve never met, completing powerpoint-style “move counseling” online, tallying up the total weight of your household goods, standing in line for no-fee passports, and getting health certificates for your dog.  Working as a doctor in a hospital sounds kind of exciting, right?  But in actuality it entails things like writing endless structured daily progress notes, typing orders into a computer, calling the lab to ask them why the results aren’t in yet, and trying to reconcile lists of patient medications with the pharmacy.)

And if you know anything about PCSing overseas (a.k.a. OCONUS = Outside the CONtinental United States), you are not surprised to learn that despite being here for almost 2 weeks now, we are still living out of suitcases and in temporary housing, and our household goods (a.k.a. HHGs… again with the abbreviations) are God-And-The-Navy-Only-Know-Where.  We certainly don’t.  On the ocean somewhere, I suppose.  We’re supposed to be able to track them on the DTS (that’s Defense Travel System) website, but it seems to be broken.  At least, we can’t log in no matter what we try.

BUT!  We’re moving into our house on the 15th, and presumably all our stuff will get here eventually.  So until then, we’re dealing with it. 

And the scenery is nice.