Tuesday, December 30, 2014

christmas music rules and regulations

Happy sixth day of Christmas, everyone!

Now that it's actually Christmastide, we can finally listen to Christmas music... and we have been! Faith is currently singing on repeat, "Gloo-oo-ooo-ooo-ooria, in a chili cereal." Which doesn't actually sound that different from "in excelsis deo" when you sing it.

But I'm a little picky about my Christmas music. In order for me to enjoy it, it generally has to follow a few rules:

1- No electronica. For the sake of all that is good and holy, no one wants synthesized Christmas music. Or at least, I don't.

2- Don't jazz it up too much... unless you are actually singing a jazz version. Then it's okay. Carry on, Ella Fitzgerald. Harry Connick Jr, Diana Krall, I'll allow your improvisations. Mariah Carey, stop it.

3- Guess what? Christmas carols pretty much all have more than one verse! How annoying is it when the singer only sings the first verse?... or even worse, when they sing the first verse repeatedly?

4- Don't just change words for no reason. Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer has a lovely voice, but her version of Angels We Have Heard On High starts like this:

Angels we have heard on high,
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight.

Why, why would you do that?!

So I thought I'd share my Spotify Christmas playlist with you. It has basically all the Christmas songs I could think of... and it's a bit eclectic, ranging from the big-band crooners to jazz numbers (complete with one episode of scat singing) to folksy acoustic versions, but I like it. And it generally follows the rules-- it's possible there might be an exception or two that I still like for sentimental reasons, but hey, it's my playlist. Maybe you'll like it too!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

TV medicine pet peeves

All right, so you know... TV, while fun and entertaining, is not always the most accurate. For me, this is most obvious in medical scenarios. So without further ado, for your enjoyment, my top 5 TV medicine pet peeves...

5- "Stay awake! Stay with me!" "Don't close your eyes!" "Stay awake!"

This is only necessary if you're, like, in the wilderness and the sick/injured person has to stay awake so they can keep walking to safety. Otherwise, falling unconscious can actually be a protective mechanism (your brain requires less oxygen, your heart rate slows, etc.). It's often a sign of badness, yes, and you want to fix the underlying problem, but falling unconscious doesn't do anything bad to you in and of itself.

Important to stay awake in this scenario. Otherwise, if you're injured, pass out if you want.

4- Have you ever had to get blood drawn? Did the phlebotomist ever have trouble finding your vein? Then you should realize that you can't just stick a needle randomly into someone's arm or neck, depress the syringe, and expect the contents to go into a vein. First you have to actually, y'know, find the vein.

Sorry, Sam. Doesn't work this way. You're just infiltrating that purified blood.

3- "Mental hospital" or "psych ward" is code for "prison without trial for anyone who shows the least sign of being crazy," right?

Clark Kent would agree.
Actually (surprise surprise) WRONG.

First, inpatient psychiatric facilities are not creepy prisons where the walls are all padded, everyone wears white, and the staff leers menacingly at you. They're actually pretty nice, as hospitals go. They typically have soothing decor, comfy couches, and everyone wears regular clothes. Psychiatrists are generally extremely nice people.

A room in a real-life psychiatric hospital.
Restraints are NEVER used unless someone is actively trying to physically harm themselves or someone else, and there is NO other effective option. And patients are never just left in them for extended periods of time. (That's illegal, actually. There are extremely strict guidelines as to when and how physical restraints are used.)

Second, the ONLY time you can be admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit without your consent-- unless you committed a crime related to your mental illness and it's either the "psych ward" or jail-- is if you're a danger to yourself or someone else... that is, actively suicidal or homicidal (or an undeniable danger by your actions, even if you're not strictly intending harm).

So, let's review-- can the following people be admitted (not committed, guys, what century is this?) to an inpatient psych unit without their consent?
- Depressed man who is considering suicide but does not have a specific plan to kill himself? NOPE.
- Actively psychotic woman who hears voices that tell her she's on a mission from alien beings? NOPE.
- Bipolar man in a manic state who's spending himself to the poorhouse betting on horse races? NOPE.
- Schizophrenic woman who believes that food is poison and so is slowly starving to death? MAYBE. But they will have to try outpatient treatment FIRST.
- Delusional man who is planning to shoot his coworker tomorrow because he thinks he is a terrorist? YES.
- Depressed woman who tried to overdose on prescription painkillers in a suicide attempt? YES.

Also, on a related note, electroshock therapy is NOT painful (patients are sedated beforehand, as well as given a muscle relaxant so there are no terrifying convulsions), NEVER done against a patient's will, and is actually SUPER AMAZINGLY EFFECTIVE for treating severe, intractable depression.

2- "Give him some space, he's in shock." "Please, officer, can this wait a minute? She's in shock!"

What shock means in medicine:

Dangerously low blood pressure leading to organ damage, either due to infection, blood loss, dehydration, anaphylaxis, severe heart disease, or central nervous system damage.

What shock does not mean in medicine:

Someone is confused/stunned after experiencing something psychologically traumatizing.

Moral of the story: if she's "in shock," somebody better be placing two large-bore IVs and running some fluid boluses stat.

Nope. Sherlock, you really should know better.

And my Number One TV Medicine Pet Peeve....

1- Picture this scene (you know you've seen it many a time):

A terrible accident has occurred, and now a character you've come to know and love is lying in a hospital bed, barely clinging to life (and, I might add, looking remarkably attractive and well-groomed for someone so Critically Ill... usually without even a nasal cannula, much less an endotracheal tube, to spoil the effect).

Suddenly the rhythmic beeping in the background gives way to an ominous hum, and you know the terrible truth. The heart monitor swings into view to show you the all-too-recognizable flatline.

Instantly, doctors and nurses rush in. What's the first thing they do? Check the Airway, Breathing, Circulation? Start chest compressions? No way, baby, because in medical drama there is nothing more glamorous than the all-powerful defibrillator. One of the (also remarkably attractive) doctors grabs those paddles, slams them on the patient's bare chest, yells "CLEAR!" and the patient jerks violently.

(Note: Even if they do attempt CPR, they do terrible compressions-- too slow, too shallow-- and on a soft surface. If you're doing compressions on a bed without a board behind the patient, you're not compressing their heart, you're just compressing the mattress.)

Lather, rinse, repeat. This goes on for a grand total of about 30 seconds (despite the fact that real codes can last more like 30 minutes at times... and do, in fact, typically involve chest compressions) before the Doctor In Charge wipes his/her brow, fights back tears, and says, forcing stoicism, "Call it."

So what is the pet peeve here? The unlikely attractiveness of... well, everyone? The fast-forwarded code blue? The lack of oxygen therapy (or any kind of medical device) on a patient who is evidently Hovering Near Death? Actually, no.

People. Asystole is NOT a freakin' SHOCKABLE RHYTHM!

Friday, December 5, 2014

seven quick takes - ed. 26

1. You guys! YOU GUYS! I know it's been, um... awhile... ok, 3 months ...since I last posted, but I'm not dead! I just felt like life was getting a little out of control, and I needed to take a bit of a break to get things back in hand.

Awkward introverts unite!
(I mean in spirit. Not in person. That would be, well, awkward.)
2. In fact, not only am I not dead, but mathematically speaking, I'm kind of the OPPOSITE of dead. I mean, if regular = 1 life, and dead = 0 lives... well...

Two lives = extra-alive? Anyway, Miss or Mister Extra Life will be arriving late April 2015. :o)

("Two lives" meaning mine and baby's. Not twins, thank goodness. I don't have anything against twins, but I'd be shipped off Guam for medical reasons if there were twins. Like, by myself, without my family, to waste away in a hospital in Japan from 24 weeks until delivery. Which would, to put it mildly, be really crappy.)

Possibly this was part of the reason things felt like they were getting so out of hand. First Trimester Terribleness-- you know what I'm talkin' 'bout. But now we're 19 weeks so everything is happy.

3. We had fun hosting Thanksgiving for a bunch of friends this year. No family nearby means Friendsgiving, which is exactly what we did. Sixteen people total, counting babies. (There were rather a lot of babies.) And I kind of... forgot to take pictures. But I was busy with turkey and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and rolls and salad and gravy and all kinds of goodness, so I think that's fairly excusable, right? Also, PREGNANT. ULTIMATE EXCUSE FOR EVERYTHING.

4. How's your Advent going? We're trying to be mindful that It's Not Christmas Yet, while still being festive and fun, because being completely un-Christmasy all month makes us a little depressed. So here's what we've got going on:
- Our Christmas tree is up, but only has lights (and a star) on it. We'll add the garlands on Gaudete Sunday, but won't put the ornaments up until Christmas Eve. Last year we tried waiting until later to set up our tree, but Guam only gets a couple of shipments of live Christmas trees, and they tend to get them bizarrely early (bizarre especially considering they're not super-fresh when they get here).
- We're lighting the candles on our Advent wreath every night at dinner, and Faith adds an ornament to the Jesse Tree.

- We're listening, at least mostly, to Advent music rather than Christmas music (but we're not totally against a few carols now and then).
- We've got a purple-and-pink garland hanging in our dining room... which we'll replace on Christmas Eve with a holly-leaf garland and mistletoe.

5. Faith is 3-1/2 this year, so it's the first year she's actually excited and anticipating things. However, she also has a hilarious 3-year-old perspective on everything. I told her that St. Nicholas was coming to leave her a present tonight, and showed her the St. Nicholas prayer card, and she got SUPER weirded out. "Why he coming to my house?! I no want him! He's not my best friend!!" (That's her current way of saying, "I'm not a fan of you/him/her right now." As in, "Mommy, I don't want to clean up! You're not my best friend!!" However, when I specified what St. Nicholas would bring (a book and chocolate), and clarified that she wouldn't actually have to see him (she's quite shy), she was mollified. Somewhat.

6. She's also been paying unexpectedly close attention to the lyrics in the Advent music, and asking for rather difficult definitions. "Mommy, what means 'rejoice'?" "What means 'gloria'?" "What means 'forever'?" Hmm. Parenting is hard.

7. You may have seen this already, but I laughed.

Head over to Conversion Diary This Ain't the Lyceum for more Quick Takes! And Happy Advent!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

pediatrician psa: bullying

There's been a lot of media attention to bullying in recent years (and its modern form, cyber-bullying). But what exactly is bullying? Almost all kids are mean or tease others sometimes-- that doesn't make every child a bully!

Bullying is a specific form of one person exerting power over another by means of fear and intimidation. It's generally a pattern of behavior, rather than a single isolated incident, and it's usually done in view of other peers (which is part of the power play).

This is a great article explaining the differences among being rude, being mean, and being a bully. I thought it was a really clear explanation!  Bullying can be truly terrible, and it's great that there's increased awareness about it-- but some parents can go a little overboard!

Here's some information from the AAP (including what to do if your child is the bully):  Bullying - It's Not OK

And some more info about cyber-bullying specifically: Cyberbullying- Important Information For Parents

Friday, August 29, 2014

seven quick takes - ed. 25

1. I'm really terrible at this blogging thing lately. Seriously, these past couple of weeks have flown by.  Plus, Jack was off-island this week (in Japan for a conference), so things were a bit more desperate than usual around here.

2. I'm still way behind on Downton Abbey, but I'm keeping a running list of all the medical problems that could've been fixed with modern medicine (hint: basically all of them) and exactly how. I'm in early Season 3 and I'm up to eight major life-changing medical issues that would be much, much smaller issues nowadays. It makes me ridiculously grateful that we live in the times we do. (Though I imagine 100 years from now, people will look back on diseases today and shake their heads in dismay almost as much.)

3. This is how sweet this baby is. Unless she's tired or hungry, she basically never gets frustrated. She laughs every time she makes a mistake stacking blocks. Every. Time. (She does the same thing when she stands and falls over. She thinks that is freaking hilarious.)

4. Ready for some more baby cuteness? Instead of being mad that Josie's scribbling on her coloring book, Faith says, "You did it!! Good job!! I'm so proud of you!!"

5. And because I'm on a mommy-blogging role, here are a few other memorable quotes from Faith:

"Other girls like kale. I like CHOCOLATE!!!"

Me: "Faith, why haven't you put your jammies on?"
Faith: (stark naked) "I did! They're pretend jammies!"

Me: "Faith, do you know how much I love you?"
Faith: "No!! You not loving me!"
Me: "What?! Why do you say that!"
Faith: "Because I love YOU! You not love ME!"
Me: "Well, we can both love each other."
Faith: "Oh. Okay."

6. This is a pretty good article: Top Ten Misconceptions About Guam.  And, for your viewing enjoyment, a time-lapse tropical Guamanian sunrise:

7. I'm too tired to think of a seventh quick take.

Head back to Conversion Diary for the linkup!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

pediatrician psa: where's baby

As with most summers, there's been a lot of publicity lately about babies and toddlers who are accidentally locked and left in hot cars by their parents-- which is extremely dangerous and a huge tragedy all around.

See here for more info, but here's a clever Car Safety Checklist from kidsandcars.org.

Be safe! Look before you lock!

Monday, August 18, 2014

playroom redux

(I don't know if "redux" is technically the appropriate term if the first mention of it was just yesterday, but I like how it sounds.)

Let's pretend this isn't the exact same picture as yesterday.
A couple of people expressed interest in seeing/reading a little bit more about our playroom... I'm happy to oblige!

Storage Bins:

I love these. They're made out of webbing (like backpack straps) woven into baskets, which I really like because they're not unattractive, but are much sturdier than wicker. (I actually use them all over the house, not just in the playroom.) Each one is labeled with the category of toys that go inside, like "dolls," "vehicles," or "Duplos," and-- more importantly-- a picture illustrating that category. That way my 3-year-old knows what goes in each bin and can get out what she wants, and, more to the point, put them away without assistance. The labels were just made in Word with pictures obtained from Google Images, printed on cardstock, "laminated" with contact paper, and safety-pinned to the bins. That way the labels are sturdy, but I can change them out as necessary. We have one unlabeled bin for miscellaneous toys that don't fit into other categories, too. (I'd give you a link to the bins, but I can't find them online. We get them at the home-improvement store on base.)


We have three sling-style bookshelves that I got on Amazon for picture books, and 4 little wall mounted shelves (actually spice racks from IKEA) for small board books. (The slings are deep enough that very small books disappear into them and are no longer visible, which cancels out the whole point-- hence the separate storage for board books.) We use these types of forward-facing shelves again for the benefit of our pre-readers, who identify books by their covers, not their spines.

Whoops... ignore the outlet... looks like mama needs to do some more baby-proofing.


These are just those generic wire industrial shelves you can get anywhere. I think we got ours at Target. I like them because they're super sturdy (notice a theme?), they're deep enough for the storage bins, they're adjustable, they go high enough that I can put "with permission only" toys (like Play-doh or bubbles) out of reach, and I can clip stuff to the wire shelves (I use clothespins to hang painted masterpieces to dry and briefly display).


We have two low tables from IKEA which are reasonably attractive, a good height for my littles, and lightweight enough for them to move around.

We also have two little yellow ottomans for seating-- which Faith climbs on to reach mid-height shelves-- and one small storage ottoman from Target, which holds our collection of wooden blocks (you can see the edge of it in the above picture, under the table-- it appears that they don't sell it anymore, but it's similar to this one only with no pocket).

If we had more room, I'd love to have a comfy couch in there, but they're little enough that they still prefer standing or sitting on the floor when they play... and the living room isn't far away, so we can sit in there and still be generally supervising them. I also have a separate shelf for my own craft supplies and a small desk for my sewing machine on one side of the playroom. (Josie's hanging out by one of the little yellow ottomans, below. They really are little.)


Most of the framed prints are freebies off the internet, or old embroidery projects of mine. The astronomy ones up near the ceiling used to be an old calendar. The rug and curtains are from IKEA. (The generic wall color, tile floor, ceiling fan, and terrible lighting are courtesy of the US Navy. Thanks, taxpayers!)


Jack tells me that I'm kind of a toy snob. I guess that's sort of true-- not that I go for the most expensive toys, or insist on "organic, natural materials only," but I do try to keep our toys within the following guidelines:
- They are open-ended and stimulate the imagination.
- Ideally they're appropriate for a wide age-range.
- They're reasonably well-made and will last a decently long time.
- I don't hate looking at them (or listening to them).
- There aren't a gajillion-billion of them.

These guidelines generally eliminate most battery-operated toys-- at least those of the flashing-and-beeping variety-- and drastically limit cheapy plastic toys. (I don't have anything against plastic toys as a category, except that most of them are ugly and/or not well-made.) They also tend to minimize the number of licensed-character toys, partly because they tend not to be the best quality (Manufacturer: "Who cares if it's a stupid toy? It has Dora on it; it'll fly off the shelves!") and partly due to my personal taste. And I'm fairly ruthless about purging toys that don't fit my guidelines! 

Types of toys we love include:

- Building toys, like wood blocks and Duplos-- I'd like to get them one of those wood railway sets too (maybe Christmas this year), and others as they get older. There are so many great, classic building toys out there. Legos, Lincoln logs, marble runs, tinker toys, all kinds of good ones. And other stuff too-- look how cool these are! Clics, Magna-Tiles, Gears Gears Gears, Tubation... I kind of want all of them! Building toys are great for fine-motor skills, planning skills, practical physics (really!), cooperation, imagination, etc. And they're one toy that you might actually enjoy playing with too!

- Make-believe toys, like dolls (but the open-ended kind, not the stupid dolls that pee or talk or what-have-you), stuffed animals, cars, dress-up clothes, playsilks (which can be used for dress-up, fort-building, doll-wrapping, scene-setting, and all kinds of stuff). We also have a dollhouse, which lives in Faith's room, and a play kitchen too. Pretending is how kids learn and process things, and is actually super important. 

- Art supplies, like crayons, markers, play-doh, safety scissors, glue, construction paper, and paint. We have an oilcloth tablecloth that I spread out for messy crafts, which is so easy to wipe off that it blows my mind.

- Learning/thinking toys, like ABC magnets, fine-motor activities (lacing beads, shape-sorters, etc), musical instruments, and puzzles.

- Gross motor toys-- if we had more room, we'd have more of these! Great for improving coordination and burning off energy. All we've got right now are a noisemaking push/pull toy (Faith uses it as her vacuum cleaner), a sit-and-spin, a wooden ride-on for Josie, and a balance bike for Faith (they have a slide and a water table, but they live outside). There are all kinds of fun options, like mini-trampolines (the kind with a handle), these "hop-around steps," this awesome-looking thing called a Bilibo... I've even seen mini indoor climbing walls on Pinterest! How cool would that be?

Some specifics below:

Art Supplies:
I used to store them in one of the blue bins, but it was too hard to find things in there. Now I use one of those hanging shoe-racks with the pockets for most stuff, and it works much better. Play-doh still gets its own bin, and I have a bin for larger supplies that won't fit in the pockets, like drawing pads or our big box of crayons. I also use a magazine file for our coloring/activity books (used to use a bin for those too, but it didn't work well).

Note: paint is, happily, well out of reach of tiny hands.

Magnet Board:
We've got a big oil drip tray nailed to the wall which works great as a large magnet board! We use little magnetic bins (like the ones for lockers) to keep the different magnets moderately slightly organized. 

"Organized." With air-quotes.

(PEDIATRICIAN ASIDE: if you use magnets with your littles, make sure they can't swallow them. One magnet swallowed is usually no big deal-- like swallowing a penny-- but two magnets swallowed can stick together inside the body if they're strong enough, across intestinal walls, leading to tissue necrosis and bowel perforation and BADNESS. Click here for more info. End PSA.)

Wood puzzles:
We like this Melissa and Doug puzzle rack to keep puzzles corralled while still being easily accessible.

Right now their dress-up clothes hang on one of those accordion-folding peg racks. It works okay, but stuff tends to slide off it-- I think hooks that tilt upward (like these) would work much better. Dress-up accessories live in a nearby plastic bucket, and there's a mirror hung at preschooler-height.

Play Kitchen:
Our wooden play kitchen is older than I am (it first belonged to my big sisters when they were little) and it is awesome. My parents fixed it up last year and gave it to the girls for Christmas (I added the blue paint and shelf paper). Faith is constantly "making dinner" for us, and Josie has recently gotten super-interested in it too.

Wow, I didn't realize I had so much to say about our playroom. Do I overthink things, or what? So anyway, there you have it! Playroom extraordinaire... or something. Did I miss anything? Want any more info on something I mentioned? Feel free to say so!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

answer me this: media-consuming and hand-shaking edition

1. What is your favorite room in the house?

This might be a little strange, but I really like the girls' playroom. Not that I, personally, love spending time in there (it's not put together with adult comfort in mind), but I'm kind of proud of it. I think it's a good playroom-- pretty cute, reasonably organized, toys that I mostly don't hate looking at, fairly enriching.

2. Do you subscribe to any magazines or other periodicals?

Well, there's Pediatrics. And Pediatrics in Review. And, um, that's it. Just medical journals. I am boring. (Faith gets High Five, but technically we don't subscribe to it; Jack's grandma signed her up.)

3. How do you feel about the sign of peace in Mass? Enriching? Awkward? Overdone? Just right? Some combination of the above?

Well, I grew up in an Evangelical church where we had a "turn and say hello to your neighbor!" segment every church service, so when I first started attending Catholic Mass, the sign of peace seemed totally normal to me. As I've gotten a bit more orthodox/traditional/whatever, I don't love it as much. But I don't really mind it. I like the origins of it-- how you're not supposed to receive communion if you have anything against your brother, you should be at peace with everyone, and all that. (I just learned that apparently that's not the origin of the sign of peace, at least in the Latin rite, according to this article anyway.) It just seems, the way it is now, in most churches, like kind of an interruption of Mass. So I'm ambivalent, I guess.

4. What is your least favorite sound?

Babies screaming when they should be sleeping. *shudder* I did let them "cry it out" when we were sleep training, and it totally worked (eventually... Josie was persistent). But the sound just.... I can literally feel my blood pressure going up and my heart rate quickening when I hear it, and I truly break into a sweat. Even now, as I sit here just thinking about it!

5. What was your favorite TV show (or shows) growing up?

When I was little tiny, it was Sesame Street all the way. When I was a bit older, I liked watching Star Trek (Next Gen, baby!) with my mom. When I was a teenager and college-aged, I liked crime-solving shows like JAG, CSI, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds. (I still like crime-solving shows, actually.)

6. What are your favorite TV shows now?

The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Sherlock, Downton Abbey. And Firefly and Breaking Bad, though they're not, y'know, on anymore. That sounds like a lot, I guess, but I generally watch them in Netflix Bursts. A few of them I'm not even "caught up" on, since I started late.

Anyway, head back to Catholic All Year for more folks' answers!

Friday, August 15, 2014

seven quick takes - ed. 24

1. Last week my Facebook feed was full of news stories about Gaza and ISIS. This week, it's full of articles about Robin Williams.  This one, by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, is probably my favorite: Robin Williams, C.S. Lewis and the Demons that Drove Him.

And for what it's worth, it's okay to feel sad about Robin Williams being so depressed he felt suicide was the only option, AND feel sad about the atrocities in Iraq, AND feel sad about the fighting in Gaza. One doesn't negate the others. And we SHOULD be sad about Robin Williams, even if we don't have a tearful emotional response to it, just as we should be sad when anyone commits suicide-- or honestly, when anything bad happens to anyone. All humans are connected in ways we can't understand, and a tragedy that affects one person has ripple effects that touch all of us. It hurts everyone when something bad happens, even if it doesn't happen to us directly.

2. We had an earthquake the other day! It was 5.4, but only lasted a couple of seconds. It was actually over before I even realized what was happening. Not nearly as impressive as the one a few years ago in the DC area-- which I was also there for. Fun stuff!

3. As we sat down to dinner the other day, Faith said, "Daddy, you want a beer?" And then she went and got him one. We've trained her well.

4. This is seriously one of the funniest things I've ever read.

5. Look what we spotted on our way to my workout group yesterday! He (or she?) was actually pretty big-- a good six inches across, I'd say.

6. This is pretty funny: Should you be worried about Ebola? A helpful chart. (Language warning.)

Ha! But, for serious, here's some good info: Ten Things You Really Should Know About Ebola.

7. And finally, I saw this at the hospital (no worries, it was just a checkup for the baby):

At first I was super confused, like, um, is this a common mistake? I feel like if people are drinking from toilets, the lack of water filtration is the least of their problems...

But then an architect friend of mine gave this helpful response: "You are required to post these signs if you have a gray water system. Even as we buy them we think it's ridiculous!!" 


Head back to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!