Saturday, September 28, 2013

gab gab beach photo dump

We always feel happier about living on Guam after we go to the beach.  Without that, it ends up feeling just like any other place to live, except with really expensive gas (they have to ship it to the island), spotty cell phone service, and surprisingly mediocre restaurants.  And, y'know, 8,000 miles from everyone we love.

The past few weekends we haven't managed to get out there -- first we were moving in, then we were unpacking boxes, then it stormed, then Jack was on duty (meaning he could be called to the hospital at any moment).  It was especially sad that it had been so long because we live only a mile from the beach -- literally a two-minute drive.

But yesterday we finally made the trip!

AND Josie rolled over for the first time! See?

Friday, September 27, 2013

theme thursday: out

(Apparently when I hit publish on this last night, it didn't work. Oops.)

One thing that's a slight bummer about our new house is that the backyard isn't fenced in, so whenever Ollie goes outside, he has to be on a leash or a tether.  That's why, ever since we noticed that our neighborhood has one, we've been meaning to take him to the dog park.  But what with moving in, starting new jobs, etc, we hadn't gotten around to it... until this week.

This is how we got there. It's less than a mile from our house, so I thought it would be nice to walk there.  And it was... kind of.  I knew it would be tricky (read: impossible) to steer a double stroller while holding Ollie's leash in one hand, because he has a death wish and tries to leap out in front of cars as they pass by.  So I attached his leash to the front of the stroller with this gigantic carabiner I was given as a baby shower gift (it's stamped with the hilarious name "The Mommy Hook ").  It actually worked out decently well -- Ollie tugs so hard on the leash that at times he was pulling the whole weight of the stroller, which was awesome for me. (Mush!!)  But he still tried to jump in front of cars.  So that was less awesome.  But at least I could steer with both hands.

The dog park was fun, though.  He made a doggy friend, rolled in the mud until he was unbelievably filthy, and played fetch to his heart's content.  What could be better, right?

Head over to Clan Donaldson to see more!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 5

1. It's Saturday morning for me, but because it's still Friday evening in the EST zone, I feel justified in posting this.

2. Guam is currently in the middle of what may (likely, they say) develop into a tropical depression -- which is one level below a tropical storm and two levels below a typhoon. Lots of crazy rain, wind, and road flooding.

Fortunately we haven't lost power except for a brief 20-minute period two nights ago when the military was updating the base power grid.

I should say, we haven't lost power SO FAR.

3. Faith loves it. She's always telling me, "Need see rain!" This means she wants to go outside and get soaking wet.  See it with your eyes, not with your hands, kid!  Amirite?

The following conversation occurred after I took the above video:
Me: "Faith! Want to eat dinner?"
Faith (excitedly) "Eat dinner!"
Me (coaxing): "Okay, let's go inside then!"
Faith:  "No, need play water.  Need all wet."

And let me tell you, this kid does not say no to food lightly.

4. She's also taken to singing to herself constantly.  Currently she's playing with puzzles on the floor and singing, "Twintle twintle LITT-OH 'tar! How I wond-oh what you aw!  Up a booboo woo so high, lite a die-mee in da 'ty!" at the top of her lungs.  Last night after we put her to bed, we could hear her in her room singing, "Jesus mommy dis I know! For a BIBE-OH tell me so!"

She could use a little help with some of the lyrics.

5. Yes, this post is a little video-heavy.  But clearly Faith is the cutest two-year-old in the world, so ALL THE BETTER, right?

6. The weather meant my schedule at work was a little.... scanty yesterday.  Seven of my patients cancelled.  Seven out of twelve.  MORE THAN HALF.  Back when I was in residency, on nights when I was on call we would always pray for storms, because the emergency department would be EMPTY and we would get hardly any admissions.

The second part of that always confused me.  I could understand the ED being deserted, because a lot of people come to the ED for things that are not actually emergencies, so you can imagine them being all, "You know what, it looks pretty bad out there, I think we can actually handle this runny nose at home."  But you would THINK, you would THINK that this would leave only the people sick enough to be admitted to the hospital actually braving the weather, and thus the ED would be emptier but the number of admissions would be the same.  But NO.  FEWER patients would be admitted.

This means one of two things.  One - storms meant that kids who should be in the hospital were languishing at home because their parents feel uncomfortable driving.  Or, more likely, we were admitting kids who didn't really need to be admitted.

7. Apropos of nothing:  does anyone else actually enjoy folding fitted sheets, or am I alone in that little quirk?

Go to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

theme thursday: store

You know you're grocery shopping on a Pacific island when....

 Head to Clan Donaldson for more store pics!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

three questions

So pediatricians have "developmental milestones" we use as markers of whether or not kids are developing normally.  A lot of them have been made kind of mnemonic-y so they're easier to remember - like a 2-year-old should be using 2-word sentences, and a 4-year-old should be able to draw a cross (which has 4 points).  Well, 3-year-olds are supposed to be able to answer the following 3 questions about themselves:

She's got 5 months until her birthday, and two outta three ain't bad, right? :o)

Monday, September 16, 2013

man's best friend? ha!

It was a fairly ordinary Monday morning.  I was getting ready for work and getting the girls ready for daycare - preparing lunches for me and Faith, and bottles of pumped milk for Josie.  We got out the door and as I was buckling them into their carseats, I could hear Ollie barking like a maniac (as he tends to do) in the house behind me.  I noticed the gas tank was almost empty, so we stopped for gas, which took a RIDICULOUSLY long time, and as we were pulling out of the gas station, I realized I had left the bottles and lunches at home in the fridge.

Sighing mightily, I turned us around and drove home; it had been about 20 minutes total since we left.  I left the car sitting in the driveway and ran inside.  As I was grabbing the bags from the fridge, cursing under my breath for running late, I saw that Ollie had pulled some trash from the (admittedly overflowing) kitchen trash can, and cursed under my breath some more.

"Ollie!!  Bad dog!!"


That was weird.  Ollie is not the kind of dog to be aloof or hide when we come home (is there any dog like that?).


I started hunting around the house for him, under all the beds, in every closet, behind the drapes.  I looked in every place I could imagine him hiding, and even places where there was no way he could be (the kitchen cupboards, behind the bookcases, under the dressers). All the doors and windows were still shut and locked.  At this point, honestly, I could only see two possible scenarios:

1- Someone had come into our house and, leaving everything else where it was, taken Ollie out of the house for some inexplicable reason.  They were a dog-thief?  He was barking and annoying them?  They were spying through our window and saw that he was sick/injured and wanted to take him to the pet hospital?  All of these seemed, admittedly, unlikely.

2- He had choked on the aluminum foil he'd dragged from the trash can (or had had some other mishap) and had crawled into some hiding place I hadn't thought of yet, and was dead.  This seemed slightly more likely, though very depressing - and I couldn't imagine where he was hiding.

I called Jack at work just to make sure he hadn't come home and picked Ollie up for some reason, or gotten a call about him (he hadn't), then I reluctantly called my work and asked them to reschedule my appointments (which made me feel like a terrible doctor, rescheduling for such a stupid reason, but I didn't know what else to do).  Then I searched the house once more.  Still no dog.

I was totally mystified, because I KNEW he had been in our house when I left (I remembered his maniacal barking, and there was the evidence of the desecrated trash can).  But I supposed the next thing was to search the neighborhood.  By this point Josie and Faith were both whining and crying due to being ignored and left buckled in their car seats (with the windows OPEN, people, and in our DRIVEWAY, don't worry, I'm not a terrible parent).

It turned out our next-door neighbor had seen a friendly-looking dog running around by the elementary school (which is 3 blocks away), who looked gray from a distance (Ollie is black-and-white spotted).  After some further investigation, I learned that it was indeed my dog; the school principal had caught him, and he was now in the custody of the base's animal control.

When I went to pick him up, he was happy and panting, and totally unashamed of himself.


all tired out after his "adventure"

(I still have no idea how he got out of the house.)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

potty training woes

(Those squeamish about the bodily functions of toddlers, you have been warned.)

So Faith is now 2 1/2 and we're working on potty training.

She's definitely ready, and has been for awhile.  She tells us when she needs her diaper changed, she has the ability to take her own pants off, she stays dry for hours at a time.  It'll also be GREAT for her to be out of diapers, because she's always gotten diaper rashes super easily.  We postponed starting for awhile until after Josie was born and after the big move, so now that we're settled, we figured it was time to begin.

Dude, I don't know if we're doing something wrong, but it's hard!  At first she wouldn't sit on her little potty at all, but after we got her a couple kids' books about how the potty is SO! MUCH! FUN! she's more amenable.  (Jack HATES the potty books.  They are fairly explicit in explaining what the potty is all about: "Mommy and Daddy and Ashley looked in the potty.  They saw pee and poop.  'Hooray!' Mommy said.  'Ashley used her potty!"  I think this is reasonable and even helpful, given the purpose of the books, but Jack finds it totally disgusting.  I don't completely understand that, since he's a pediatrician, and pediatricians talk about poop all.  The time.  But to each his own opinion.)

Anyway, thanks to the books, Faith will now take off her own diaper, announce, "Need potty time!" and plop her little naked bottom on the seat.  This is pretty cute, and certainly better than when she viewed the potty as some kind of evil torture-trap, but it comes with its own problems.  Like, she doesn't always tell us when she takes off her diaper, and if she's wearing a dress, we can't necessarily tell, which is clearly a dangerous situation.  Also, there have been a couple close calls where she started to remove a diaper that was already, ahem, shall we say, loaded.

And even though she'll sit on the potty, she still won't use the potty.  I can tell when she actually needs to pee because she'll get off the potty, start doing this panicky little dance, and shriek, "Need diaper!  Need diaper!"  At least I know she can hold it, I guess.  Right?

Any potty-training pros out there have tips for this newbie?

(I'll be glad when this is done for one reason other than the obvious:  I'll actually have some experience to lean on when my patients' parents ask for tips on potty training.  As one of my attendings told me during my first year of residency, "Being a pediatrician doesn't make you a better parent, but being a parent makes you a better pediatrician.")

Friday, September 13, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 4

1. I've been hanging up all our pictures this week.  The vast majority of our "art" is free printables off the internet (with a dash of homemade + Etsy) but I love it anyway.  After this, only the curtains remain to get our house home-ified!

2. I was trying to hang up our large world map poster with a gazillion Command strips.  It kept rolling in on itself and pulling off the wall and it just refused to stay stuck.  I had thrown myself down on the couch in a fit of frustrated temper, when Jack asked, "Why don't you just nail it to the wall?"  Right.  Duh.  Six tiny nails later, and it's me: 1, map: 0.

3.  Fortunately that wasn't one of the No-Nails Walls in our house.  I discovered when I was first hanging up pictures, that the studs - and some of the whole inner walls - are either metal or concrete, which, unsurprisingly, don't really take nails well.  All the better to withstand typhoons with, I'm sure (I feel like the Big Bad Wolf as I say that:  "All the better to EAT YOU WITH, MY DEAR!!!")  But every now and then the nail I'm trying to hammer in just kind of bounces off, so if I want to hang anything on that wall, it's gotta be by tape (or Command hook).  Kinda ghetto, but oh well.

4. Speaking of Little Red Riding Hood (how's that for a smooth transition?), that's exactly who Faith is going to be for Halloween this year.  I got her an adorable little vintage smocked dress off Etsy, and I'm knitting her a little hood/cape (out of cotton yarn - we are in the tropics after all).  It occurred to me after I started knitting, though, that she doesn't actually know who Little Red Riding Hood is, so of course I had to buy her a book telling the story.  It's a little advanced for her age, but it's true to the original story, which I love (wolf swallows Granny and Little Red and the huntsman cuts them out), and the illustrations are gorgeous.

5.  I dislike when fairy tales are "cleaned up" for kids.  Not only does it take away a good deal of the excitement and delicious horror/scariness of the story, but it underestimates kids.  Kids are smarter and more observant than we tend to give them credit for.  They know when you're BSing them.  I love this quote by Chesterton:  "Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already.  Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey.  What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey.  The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination.  What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.  Exactly what the fairy tale does is this:  it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear."

6. Total change of topic:  I am pumped (hahahahaha) at the milk supply I've been able to store in the freezer for Josie, with pumping just once a day, or even less.  I was NEVER able to stock up for Faith, because I was working 80 hours a week, and I could never get ahead of her... and pumping that much SUCKS.

7.  It's with astonishment that I realize that (for me at least - not discounting women who've struggled with breastfeeding) - for me, breastfeeding is easy once we get over the first couple of weeks.  (And this from a woman who had legit mastitis this time around - red streaks and fever with shaking chills and everything.)  But pumping at work?  That is hard, baby.  If you've done it, kudos to you.

(PS - I have no idea why my blog posts changed their order.  The Seven Quick Takes - Ed. 3 is from last week, or maybe 2 weeks ago.)

(PPS - No wait, I figured it out.  It's because I was adding tags to old posts, and didn't realize I could do that without actually editing the post.  Boo.)

Go visit Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

seven quick takes friday - ed. 3

1.  One of our cars arrived!  No more rental, though we are still struggling to live as a one-car family until our other one arrives.

2. This is especially tricky when Jack is "on duty" as he is now.  At any moment this week, he could be called to come to the hospital for an emergency delivery (to care for the baby in the delivery room), for an ER consult, or by a parent with a question.  This means that I can't, for instance, run to the store and leave him at home with the babies, because what if he got called in?  We can't even really go to a restaurant, because if he got called in, we'd have to quick ask for the bill, get our food boxed up (if it had even arrived yet), drop me and the girls at home, then drive to the hospital - no way he'd make it in time.  At least he doesn't have to spend the night IN the hospital like in residency.  (This is a point of some confusion for family members and friends of medical residents.  When an attending physician is "on call," generally he or she is at home but can be reached by phone or pager.  When residents are "on call," it just means they're at the hospital working, but it's overnight or on a weekend.)  Though in some ways it feels almost more disruptive/nerve-wracking to be able to be called in from home.

3. This little guy was hanging out by our front door yesterday.  (This picture was taken outside.)  A teeny one got into our house, but I managed to get him out unharmed.

4. I'll be super bummed when Faith corrects her pronunciation of certain words.  For now, "choochie" = cookie, "dot-tow" = doctor, "panpape" = pancake, etc.  Oh, and her name is "Faif."  Or "Faity."  So cute.

5. Still unpacking boxes.  Never-ending piles of boxes, seemingly.  Isn't it funny that you don't realize how much junk you have until you move it?  "EIGHT boxes from the linen closet?  How did our linen closet even hold that much?  Is it, like, bigger on the inside or something?"

6.  I love Doctor Who.

7.  Speaking of, we just watched the Snowmen episode for the first time last night.  We missed that one the first time around, which made the season finale extremely confusing.  Makes more sense now.

Go to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

theme thursday: text

This is the part where I confess that I'm almost 30 years old and still love Harry Potter, and always will.  Especially when I have a cold, like today.  Faith has it too, so I'm not sure whether to blame the kids at daycare or the kids I saw in my office.

Head over to Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday pics!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

first impressions

Guam is weird.

It's kind of like being in the US and kind of like being in a foreign country.

It's like being in the US at first glance-- many things are the same. Same money, same post office, same traffic rules, same language (well, the native Guamanians do have their own language as well - Chamorro - but pretty much everyone speaks English).  The citizens of Guam are US citizens and can vote in national elections.  True, they don't have a voting representative in Congress, but neither does DC.

But a lot of things are different as well.  It's hard to put your finger on-- there's just a different feel to this place.  It's not just the 14-hour time difference from the Eastern Standard time zone.

For one thing, there are very few grocery stores... and certainly no major grocery chains like Safeway or Kroger.  (We shop at the commissary on base, but those not affiliated with the military don't have that option.)  And even in the grocery stores that are there, there's always the possibility that they may run out of something before the next delivery comes in.  Last time I was at the commissary, they were out of chicken and salad, with an apologetic sign explaining that they were expecting a shipment that evening.  This is wildly foreign to this girl who's always lived in the states.  "What do you mean, you're 'out of chicken'?  'Out of chicken' isn't a thing!"

It's this strange conglomeration of touristy restaurants & hotels, Catholic churches, military bases, sketchy "massage parlors," flat rectangular houses build of concrete blocks (necessarily, for typhoon survival) - some of which are respectable-looking enough, and some that have had their walls and roofs patched with tied-on sheets of corrugated metal - all set in this spectacularly beautiful tropical jungly beachy island setting.
a fairly typical house on Guam (maybe slightly shabbier than the average house you see in town, but not much) - linked from

There's an impressive population of stray dogs (a.k.a. "boonie dogs") as well.  They tend to be a bit scrappy and bedraggled looking, but they seem pretty happy and fairly harmless.  (Not that I would try to pet one, but I've never seen one act aggressive.  They're just minding their own business, mostly.)

linked from

Anyway - I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but I wanted to get my thoughts down while everything is still new, before it all just becomes normal to me.  It's starting to already - I can't believe we've been here almost 2 months!

(Sorry for the radio silence for the past week and a half.  I'll try to be better about keeping the blog updated!)