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Archive for September, 2008

Seeking a Second Opinion

Preschooler, as she colors a picture of a rabbit with one floppy ear: Mommy, this rabbit’s ear is broken.

Mommy: I don’t think so.

Preschooler: Why not?

Mommy: Well, some rabbits just have floppy ears. Besides, I don’t think rabbit ears have bones in them, so they can’t be broken.

Preschooler: Why? 

Mommy: Ears have cartilage, and you need a bone in something to break it.

Preschooler: Oh.

A long pause…

Preschooler: I’ll have to check with Daddy. He’s a doctor, and he knows more about bones than you.

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This is a great dish that can go from freezer to oven with no thawing required.  This recipe makes enough for two casserole dishes which is perfect making one for your family, giving one away to a new mom or putting the second one in your freezer. Oh yes and did I mention that one serving is 470 calories. Not bad if you ask me! Add a green salad and some garlic bread and dinner is done!

Yield

2 casseroles, 5 servings per dish (serving size: about 4 stuffed shells and about 1/2 cup smoky marinara)

Ingredients

  • 1  pound  jumbo shell pasta (40 shells)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  (12-ounce) carton 1% low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1  (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh chives
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley- I used Italian parsley (flat leaf not curly)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained-(you could use fresh baby spinach too)
  • 6  cups  Smokey Marinara (recipe to follow)
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Coat 2 (13 x 9-inch) baking dishes with cooking spray; set aside.

Place cottage cheese and ricotta cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine cottage cheese mixture, Asiago, and next 6 ingredients (Asiago through spinach).

Spoon or pipe 1 tablespoon cheese mixture into each shell. Arrange half of stuffed shells, seam sides up, in one prepared dish. Pour 3 cups Smoky Marinara over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat procedure with remaining stuffed shells, Smoky Marinara, and mozzarella in remaining prepared dish.

Cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step 5. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover frozen casserole with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the shells are thoroughly heated.

Smoky Marinara

Yield

6 cups (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Ingredients

  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2  teaspoons  balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  pepper
  • 1  (28-ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained

Preparation

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light

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I have been reflecting on my  journey with my husband in medical school and residency and thinking of the fears I had in moving to a new place. I must admit that I was very fearful of moving to a new place and the possibility of never making a friend. Those who know me would probably say that these fears are unfounded given my love of people and making new friends. None the less, I was afraid and uncertain.

The move we made for medical school was an hour and half away from our home town and it might as well have been on the other side of the globe. I was panicked at the idea of being away from all that was familiar. In my hometown I was very comfortable within my existing circle of friends. When we moved for medical school I was in a city where I knew my husband and maybe three other people. I was lonely and unsure of my role in my husbands life as a medical student.

The first few months of medical school I made lots of trips up the turnpike to my hometown excusing myself from the loneliness of another Friday night with no friends to hang out with. It became clear that my weekend get-aways were getting me nowhere in the friend department and it was time to step out of my comfort zone and make some friends. My husband and I went to a Med-Student social and I met lots of other spouses that were just like me. Their spouses were cramming for test-blocks and dissecting the human anatomy just like my husband.  I then  discovered the Medical Student Spouse Alliance chapter of my husband’s institution and there was to be a dinner for the spouses at one of the physician’s homes.  It was this rainy evening that I went on to meet more medical wives, one that stands out in particular is my now dear friend Tiffany. We hit it off instantly and laughed our way through the uncomfortable evening. We even got elected to be the President of the Medical Student Spouse Alliance. A job that we weren’t sure we were qualified for but we took the job probably due to the amount of wine we consumed at dinner.  After the dinner was over we stood outside on the wet neighborhood streets and chatted. It was then that Tiffany asked me a question that I have yet to ever forget. “Will you be my friend?” she said. I was dumbfounded as I hadn’t ever been asked that question ever or at least since grade school.  Tiffany went on to explain that this was a question a old friend had asked her and now was a question that she asked of people that she wanted to be-friend. Still dumbfounded, I said, “Yes”. Could a lasting friendship be started on the premise of grade school antics? I wasn’t sure but my heart was happy to have a friend to laugh with and share the ups and downs of medical school.

Medical School proved to be not only a time of growth for my husband but for myself as well. I was growing not only in the aspect of living in a new city, or a new job  but also spiritually. In our second year of medical school, Tiffany invited me to a Bible study with some other medical student spouses. It was here that I grew spiritually in ways that I had never imagined and made friends that have lasted well beyond medical school and still to this day are my closest friends. These women were strong, loving, and encouraging. This was just what I needed to make it through the tough years of medical school and really what prepared my heart for residency.

The first year of residency was easy relatively speaking, we moved an hour and half up the turnpike to our hometown and I was relieved to get a year to spend with my family and old friends considering we were about to move 800 miles from our home state of Oklahoma so my husband could finish his residency in Anesthesia. The year flew by and it was time to move again. This move was not as easy as the previous two moves. I was really leaving a lot behind. Family, Friends, and Security. I could not escape up the turnpike like I had done just 4 years ago. I was more afraid than ever because this time I had a small child and I was pregnant. A mom and an expectant one at that; two factors that called for lots of support. I knew that I would have to take the task of making friends head on!  While in Oklahoma, I had heard a networking sites like “Meet Up” and some other sites that catered to the stay at home mom crowd. Upon arriving to our new city, I quickly got unpacked and plugged in literally. Within the first month, I was going on “blind friend dates” and meeting perfect strangers for play dates. My friends and family back home thought I had lost my mind in this 800 mile move. I knew I had to do something to make friends in this city of 4 million people. This would be my version of Tiffany’s question, Will you be my friend? Sure enough within a few months I had met friends. I had regular play dates for my daughter. I had even met some resident spouses through these random “meet ups”. I found a church and a fabulous small group of people to grow with spiritually.  My life was not what I had feared. I was not alone and I was able to make friends. I had stretched my self beyond my comfort zone once again and it payed off with genuine friendship and companionship in this time of long call nights, even longer post call days, and living on a shoestring.

It is hard to move. It is even harder to step outside of what is comfortable and make yourself vulnerable to the possiblities of new friendships and experiences.  However, you never know what friendships you might miss out on if you don’t take that first step and ask the question, Will you be my friend?

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This is the most frequent “compliment” I receive.  Within a few short weeks of my husband starting residency I discovered that I was part of a stereotype that I didn’t even know existed.  I was now supposed to be rich, snooty and out of touch with reality.  I was supposed to hire a nanny and spend my days shopping for designer labels, working out with my personal trainer and staying current with my Botox injections.  I should be unapproachable, have no understanding of a “paycheck-to-paycheck” lifestyle, live in a huge house and drive something along the lines of an Escalade.  I didn’t know that I was supposed to be filling this image for people, so I dared to walk around being friendly, anxious to make new friends.  I was open about the fact that my husband was a doctor and all of the hard work he did to get there.  I was excited to be able to afford a mortgage payment, to go out to eat for something other than mexican food, and to have a husband raking in a $37,000 salary for 80 hour work weeks.  We had hit the big-time!  

Unfortunately, my excitement seemed to only be shared by those in the same position.  I found myself relating easily to other “doctors’ wives” and to those I knew before I was a doctor’s wife.  I eventually became very guarded about my husband’s profession.  I wanted to keep that “secret” for as long as possible when I met someone new.  All of my husband’s hard work had almost become a burden on me.    

Fast forward five years later.  Family Man is in an established practice.  The salary, the location, and the number of children has changed, but the stereotype has not.  The first person I met at our new location approached me after finding out my daughter’s last name.  Our girls were in dance together.  She asked me if I knew Dr. Family Man.  I said “Yes, he’s my husband.”  A look of shock came over her face.  I will never forget the next thing that came out of her mouth.  “The doctor is your husband?  You don’t act like a doctor’s wife!”  I gave a half-smile and said “Well, I am!”  We started talking as we would pass dropping our kids off at dance.  We sat together and talked at the recital rehearsal.  She would introduce me to her friends (she’s lived in this area her whole life) and she would tell them that I was married to Dr. Family Man, but that I don’t act like a doctor’s wife.  One day I asked her what she thinks doctors’ wives are supposed to act like.  She told me they are usually “awful.”  I told her I had met quite a few awful people and very few of them were married to doctors.  

Today I sit here hoping that someday the profession of being a doctor will regain the respect that it carried as few as 10 years ago.  Along with that I hope that those who are married to doctors are seen for the people they are, not the stereotype that they fall into.

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The moment I married my husband is the moment that I officially became a hypochondriac.  Can anyone else relate to this?  Being that my husband is a doctor, I run to him for reassurance that the unexplained bruise on my leg is just that… a bruise.  I have a headache and I never get headaches… Could it be an aneurysm? 

He is forced to inspect anything I deem questionable, and I end up getting the same response every time.  “You’re fine.”   My husband has such a calming nature about him, and because he is a physician and tells me I am fine, then I can relax and believe him.  But in the back of my head I have the thought that he didn’t look at it closely enough and it could be a bigger deal than originally thought.  

Now, if I didn’t have access to this wealth of information 24/7, I think that I probably would be a lot calmer myself.  Since I tend to be just a little dramatic at times, I know it’s not as bad as I am making it out to be.  It’s not worth actually going to the doctor to see if it is anything, and I would probably just sleep on it and see if it goes away.  It’s not so easy to do these days now that any possible abnormality can be inspected at any given moment.  My poor husband.

I, along with several others, assume that since my husband is a doctor, he knows everything there is to know about medicine and can solve any medical mystery.  It is not abnormal for him to get a frantic phone call that a friend’s dog (who is 4,000 miles away) is trembling a little? “Do you thing he is dehydrated?  Is it his heart?”  

Now, we have to think in realistic terms here.  One, doctors choose specialties for a reason – to specialize in an area of medicine.  My husband has formed a default answer to such inquiries: “If you think it is something serious, go to the emergency room.”  Two, there is a lot more to know about your situation than the current status.  Maybe some medical history?  What occurred prior?  My husband is a genius, and he can pretty much hit the nail on the head every time regardless of the situation, but sometimes he ends up doing what we all do: Googling it.

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Summer Cake Recipe

I’m pleasantly surprised at the drop in temperatures around here these days, but I can’t help but find myself looking back at the summer and saying: “Where in the world did my summer go?”  So I’ve decided to enjoy these last few weeks of true summer by doing all the things I meant to do this season.  You know, take my kids camping, grill out and have picnic, make homemade ice cream, create some beautiful sidewalk art with chalk, and (my personal favorite) make lemonade cake.

So grab your list, head to the grocery store, and have an end-of-summer party!  Now that hubster’s no longer a resident he might actually be able to spend the holiday with us!  (With his pager and cell phone close by, of course!)

1 package yellow cake
1(4 serving) package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup Country Time lemonade powder, divided
1 cup cold water
4 eggs
1/4 cup oil
3 TBsp warm water
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix cake mix, pudding, 1/4 cup lemonade powder, 1 cup cold water, eggs and oil. Bake in Bundt pan for 50-55 minutes. While cake is baking, you can make the glaze: Mix 1/4 cup lemonade powder with powdered sugar, and mix in warm water. (You want it to be liquid-y, so if you do it too early and it gets “stiff” just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds!) After removing cake from oven, cool for 5 minutes and flip out onto serving platter. While the cake is still warm, use a fork or skewers to poke holes all over the cake. Pour glaze over cake. Cool and enjoy!

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