Thursday, September 28, 2006

And Dad

Dear Dad,

I know it wasn't thirty years of smooth sailing for you, either. But thanks for having me along.

I love you,


Thanks Mom

Dear Mom,

I know you went to a lot of trouble thirty years ago to get me here. I probably didn't thank you for it at the time. So I wanted to make sure I do it now. I really appreciate it.

I love you,


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Concerned about chafing?

Don't worry. There's help.


Last week, after watching Sam remove a doll from a toy stroller by her hair and then return her to her seat upside-down, I decided it'd be good to give him an opportunity to practice being gentle before our new baby arrives. So we headed off to the toy section of Target to find a doll of Sam's own.

The first problem was that I didn't see much that met my specifications. I didn't really want a doll with special skills (like blinking, crying, peeing, smearing her own face with babyfood etc.). And she had to be cheap. Alas, while there were many dolls to choose from, most were both highly skilled (Seriously. Who wants a doll who defecates?) and highly priced.

The second problem was that Sam didn't want to leave the car & truck aisle long enough for me to thoroughly review all of the baby doll options. So instead of a doll, I bought him this:

That'll work, right?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When you wish upon a star, you will know my sister Ree

Imagine yourself with an older sister. She's prettier than you. And smarter than you. And she's really really talented. You hate her, right? Now imagine that she's also nicer than you, and therefore impossible to hate. Got it? Hold that image right there. That's my sister, Ree*.

It was great growing up as Ree's little sister. She made up songs, choreographed music videos, built the best Barbie houses, and invented lots of fun games. I idolized her. Lots of people did, I think. For example, my cousin, Princess, rewrote the words to "When You Wish Upon a Star" to express her admiration for Ree. "When you wish upon a star, you will know the Am-a-Ree!" became our anthem.

In those days we lived close enough to the Daddy-O/SPH-1 family to get together often. There were six of us girls between the ages of five and ten, and because they were the oldest (and coolest) we constantly followed Ree (and her counterpart, B) around. Even when they didn't really want us to. And even when it was bedtime. I recall one visit when all six of us (Ree, B, me, Princess, Peanut, and Taffy) crammed ourselves into Ree's top bunk. We were small, but quarters were still tight. (I was on the bottom level of the headboard bookshelf. I believe there was someone else on the top. And did I mention that it was a twin bed?) Tired of all our wiggling, Ree pronounced: "I'll give you a spot, and I expect you to stay there. And that's an order." That "order" may not seem hilarious to you today, but I guarantee if you'd have been there (and thank goodness you weren't!) you'd have been up all night giggling about it too.

Once we were finally situated, Ree treated us to stories, including a retelling of a fantastical dream she'd had about a witch who lived in a giant Hershey bar. Only now do I realize how odd it is that I vividly remember details from her account, but I don't recall a single childhood dream of my own. Further proof of my adoration, I suppose.

Over the years, there were lots of late night stories. We shared a room until Ree graduated from high school. It was a logistical necessity, given the size of our family in relation to the size of our house. But Ree and I also shared friends, clothes, and secrets--none of which was mandatory. She was so generous with me, though I didn't deserve it. I remember one time when I'd ruined something of hers, (Who knows what? It wasn't the first time our "open sharing" relationship left her the loser.) but she did not get angry. She said instead: "That's OK. People are more important than things." It's a lesson I'm still working on.

When we were in high school, we attended early morning seminary together. My dad would wake us up with plenty of time to get ready, but we were never so good at mornings. Often, Ree would come climb in my bed with me--usually right on top of me. Neither of us would stir again until Dad returned 15 or 20 minutes later to ask why we weren't moving yet. Ree would (groggily) reply that she was up, and she was just trying to get me up too. Ah, roommates!

Lucky for me, that wasn't our last chance to live together. After I finished college and before I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, I spent some time visiting Ree and her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. Eventually, I decided to move there. Ree and Toby graciously put me up in their spare room until I found a job and an apartment.

I think I lived with them for about a month, but I have so many treasured memories of Sunday drives along the Dogwood Trail, and spontaneous hikes in the Smoky Mountains that it seems like I was there much longer. (I hope it didn't seem that way to them!) Anyway, I'd always known Ree as an ideal sister, but it was while I lived with her that I saw her as the amazing mother that she is.

Scrapbooking was all the rage with us that summer, and we spent the majority of BigZ's naps sorting through photos and piecing together pages. Before long, BigZ would start to stir and Ree would cheerfully put away her materials and tend to his needs. I loved BigZ past the point of overindulgence (still do), but to me it always seemed like he woke up too soon. Yet Ree was never a bit put out. "People are more important than things (even scrapbooks)," I'd remind myself silently, while I wondered if I'd ever be unselfish enough to be a mom like her.

I'm still working on it. And until I'm there, I hope Ree doesn't mind that I continue to idolize her. Because when I see the evening star, I don't even bother wishing. I don't need to. I have my sister Ree.

Happy Birthday Ree! I love you!

*Names have been changed. Sort of.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Life lessons

Sam is learning those little lessons that make his life easier and more ordered. Sometimes he'll point to himself and say "Mommy's boy, Daddy's boy, Malcom's boy, Sam's boy" showing a good sense of family identity. Sometimes he'll snatch the computer mouse away if I'm not paying attention to him, showing good problem solving skills.

My favorite though is when he mutters, "It's okay Sam," to himself when he's disturbed by something. We first noticed it after putting him to bed one night when his sobs stopped apruptly with the consoling self-advice: "It's okay Sam." We also hear it when he sneezes or almost falls off a chair. Today I heard it when he was perched atop the playground peering down the tallest slide. Apparently the occasion required some reassurance.

I'm glad he believes himself.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Excerpt from my journal September 10, 2001
I decided this morning that September is my favorite month, and it’s not just the anticipation of birthday loot. It’s just getting cool enough to wear flannel pyjama pants again. The sun rises late, and makes the mountains shiny for my drive to work at 7:58 am. The leaves are pretty colors, but still on the trees. And, especially in Provo, there’s something in the air that promises exciting new adventures. Plus there’s the birthday loot. Most people think of Spring as the season for new beginnings, but for me it’s fall.

Excerpt from my journal September 11, 2001
Today an unknown aggressor declared war on the United States of America. Four commercial airplanes were hijacked; two crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, collapsing the entire structure. Another hit the Pentagon in Washington, and the fourth crashed outside of Pittsburgh.

It's so unbelievable how you can wake up one morning and the whole world is different. I don't think we even realize how this will change everything -- if this is the new face of warfare for the 21st century . . . then we won't just return to life as normal.What will we do from here? How will we recover? And how will this change our day-to-day lives?

Americans may be willing to give up some freedoms in exchange for security. But I don’t think beefier metal detectors are going to be enough. No one can design equipment to detect suicidal zealots or maniacal psychopaths.

Five years have passed since that tragic day. In that time, I've married, had a child, moved a few times, entered grad school, and gotten started on another child. In a word I've lived. Although I hardly thought it possible five years ago, life has returned to normal. But the world is still changed. And I am changed.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Soft Curls

For several weeks, we've been telling Sam that it's time for a haircut. He usually responds by calmly stating "No want to!" as he runs the other direction. Yesterday, I actually got out the clippers and scissors and suggested he "sit in this nice chair right here and eat a sucker while I cut [his] hair." He sat still long enough to get the sucker, but his protests soon became so aerobic that I knew, under such conditions, any adjustments to his coiffure would be disastrous.

About an hour later, Sam took matters into his own hands to prove that his hair is perfectly manageable as it is.

And really, how can I argue with proof like that? The sad thing is, this little beauty shop session of his proves that he knows how to use this particular hair care product better than I do. I can never get that kind of sheen and body. I may have him take over style maintenance for my hair too.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Summery Summary, Or, Why Blog When You Can Barf?

It has come to my attention the chunks I've posted lately have been less than meaty. Other than birthday blogs, I haven't really written much since June. And suddenly, it's September! And the summer's over! And the Internet doesn't know what I've been up to!

So I've fired up the slide projector and I'm ready to share with you, dear Internet, the highlights of my summer vacation. (Feel free to get yourself a snack before we start. Don't worry. I'll wait.)

Just to review, we left off in June with a clean house and a recent (and royal) med school graduate.

Both were major accomplishments never before seen in the history of our family, so we did a bit of celebrating. I won't say who partied hardest, but I do have photographic evidence that some family members went a little crazy with the celebratory activities.

After cleaning up the party zone, Sam and I were off to North Carolina to see Aunt Peanut. Sam is crazy about Aunt Peanut, and by the end of our visit was pretty good friends with Razor too. We had a really great time. North Carolina even made it to our list of Places We Might Like to Live Someday.

But there wasn't time to think about that yet, because by the time we got home, moving day was right around the corner. After several weeks of sorting, tossing and packing, all of our worldly possessions fit into a teeny tiny 26-foot diesel truck. Sam would have been thrilled to drive the rig all the way to Ohio, but the Coach wanted a turn too. Once en route, Sam was satisfied just keeping his eye on it from his car seat in the back of the blue car. Each time he saw it he reminded me "Daddy drive yellow truck. Big truck." He especially liked it when we pulled into the truckers' area at gas stations and rest stops. There he saw first-hand all the wonderful things that can be pulled by trucks: boats, houses, two or three trailers, and sometimes even more trucks. Amazing!

Coach and I weren't quite as excited about life on the open road, so we were glad when we finally pulled in to the driveway at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We got a few hours' sleep, and then dragged Javich and Daisy to Akron to help us get unpacked and settled in. We were so lucky to have them. We definitely could not have made it without them. We were exhausted from several days of packing, loading and cleaning, and staying up too late to get it all done. Plus, I didn't know it at the time, but I'd packed a little something extra before hitting the road.

Yes, it's true. It's unbelievable, I know, but I went TEN DAYS before confirming--via Dollar Tree pregnancy test--that indeed I was pregnant. You see, when I first began to suspect that I was expecting, I did not have a pregnancy test (or three) on hand as I usually do because I'd declared that no new purchases (however economical) could be brought in to the house. We barely fit into the 26 footer as it was! (And we couldn't move up to the next size without sending someone to truckdriving school. Sam was willing, of course, but we just didn't have the time.) Also, I hoped that if I didn't have definitive proof of pregnancy, I could avoid/ignore/deny those little inconveniences that go along with it.

That plan didn't exactly work, but the whole strategy was worth it to see the curious look on Daisy's face when she noticed our shopping list posted on the fridge a few days after our arrival:
  • cereal
  • milk
  • preg test
I knew she wanted to ask, but she showed remarkable restraint.

Our secret didn't last long, as it turned out. In early July, Mom hosted a party to celebrate Javich's and Daisy's mission calls and my parents' fortieth wedding anniversary. I volunteered to help with preparations the day before the party, but I found myself disappointingly ineffectual. I claimed all the easy, sit-down jobs, and still had to rest on the couch after such strenuous tasks as slicing strawberries. And so I explained my uselessness. Everyone was very understanding, and were soon offering me backrubs and beverages while I relaxed on the couch.

Despite my uselessness, the party was a huge success. We enjoyed mounds of food, lots of friends, and perfect weather. Plus I convinced one of the guests of honor to row me and Sam around the pond. (How could I row myself in my delicate condition?)

On July 4, Grandma and Grandpa Frogmorton made Sam's day by coming down to Akron to celebrate his second birthday. We had a breakfast dinner of hibachi style pancakes (best combinations: white chocolate blueberry coconut with coconut syrup, and butterscotch chocolate chip with maple syrup), followed by slices of birthday cake with festive sprinkles. Sam had no idea what the celebration was all about, but he sure enjoyed himself, especially playing with his presents. (Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!)

The Coach had fun playing with toys too. After dinner, he challenged Grandpa to a rousing street race on his new X-Box 360. Though Grandpa isn't really a video game kind of guy, he sure seemed to enjoy busting through police roadblocks. The Coach has really gotten into it too, and has spent the months since the X-Box's arrival (possibly the most exciting event of the summer) mastering every one of his games. He recently beat out every racer on the blacklist to become Rockville's Most Wanted. We're all so proud. (We just hope he remembers not to ram police cars in real life.)

One reason Coach had so much time to devote to his life of crime was that Sam and I were gone for most of July to attend our biennial Frogmorton Family Reunion. Coach couldn't take vacation time so soon after starting his residency, so Sam and I drove across the country with Grandma, Grandpa and Daisy. I have to admit I was wary about about the trip; in the weeks before our departure I was constantly pukey and exhausted, and Sam was, well, a two-year-old: not always eager to cooperate for long hours of confinement. But we both did okay. Sam happily pointed out trucks and busses, and ordered "chicken and fries" at every drivethrough along the way. Before we knew it we were in Utah.

Once there, we spent a few days visiting with friends and family, and enjoyed a fantastic reunion with the Daddy-A/SPH-1 family. We swam and ate and played and remembered all the reasons why it's so fun to have double cousins (and their corresponding spouses and kids) around.

The next day, after dropping Daisy off at the MTC, we headed up to Reid Ranch to party it up with Frogmortons from near and far. Ree and Shana and Harvey were much more prompt with their accounts of the festivities, so I don't have much else to add except that IT WAS AWESOME!

On our way home from Utah, we took a detour through the pacific northwest. First we stopped in Union, Oregon to visit my great grandfather's grave. While there we met one of my dad's cousins, who welcomed us into his lovely home (a certified historic monument!) and shared stories of our grandparents, along with a delicious dinner.

Next we headed on to Tacoma, Washington. The drive would have been worth it just to see that beautiful stretch of country. It's absolutely breathtaking. But we had the added bonus of spending time with my mom's sister, Betty, and Betty's son, Kim. What a wonderful visit we had! It had been years since I'd seen either of them, but they were so generous and hospitable it was like we'd lived next-door forever.
Tacoma has some of the most amazing homes and gardens I've ever seen, and I really wished the Coach was there to enjoy it with me. It's definitely on the list of Places We Might Like to Live Someday.
I was a little disappointed when all our visiting was done and it was time to head home, but Sam and I missed the Coach, and we were ready to sleep in our own beds.

Not that it was all sunshine and marshmallows once we got back to Akron. The day after my return, I had an appointment with my dentist to complete a root canal procedure he'd started before my vacation and perform a bonus (!) apicoectomy. During the procedure, I had a little bit of a panic attack, which I blamed on my delicate condition. But it also could have been from the EXTREME PAIN. It's hard to say. Anyway, I discovered that bursting into tears in the dentist's chair is a good way to make sure you get special treatment from then on. The end of the story is that my face got all swollen and puffy and I was miserable for a few days. But it's all better now. Except that sometimes my lip falls asleep.

By the time I'd recovered from that, it was time to head back out to Utah for Carolioness's wedding. Sam was excited about that trip, in part because we traveled by airplane, but also because he was excited to see Mr. and Mrs. Lion. Every day since the arrival of their wedding invitation, he'd take their photo off the fridge to carry it around while chanting their names. So when the time finally came to board the airplane with Grandma and Grandpa and Michael (the Coach came on a later flight) he was thrilled.

Although it was a quick trip, we had a wonderful time celebrating with Mr. and Mrs. Lion. It truly was a beautiful day. And the party wasn't bad either. We're so happy to have Semaj (and Nogal) in our family!
We were lucky to spend a day in Logan with Coach's family before heading back home. All of Sam's cousins were in town for Grandma Z.'s famous Grandma's Camp, and he sure had a great time running wild with them. Meanwhile, the Coach and I had a great time visiting with their parents. We hate living so far away from all the action!

And that about wraps up our summer travels, although September has been an exciting month in its own right. On September 1 we finally sold our house in Iowa City (thanks for your prayers on our behalf, everyone!). And although my condition is still delicate, I've now graduated to the second trimester of pregnancy. So I don't complain quite as much as I used to. (About nausea, anyway. I've found other stuff to complain about, of course, but I'll save that for another entry.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bedside manner

Last night as I was working in the emergency department I was talking with one of the other residents who told me the story of his nephew who is dying with ependimoma. He told me how he had been through intensive radiation therapy for six weeks that involved therapy every single day during that time. The cancer was in remission for a year or so until that fateful MRI when the cancer was seen to have spread all over the brain and spinal cord. Now it's a matter of just a few months. He said that his nephew's family were able to take him to Disneyworld with the Make a Wish program and he was tucked in at night by a different Disney character each night.

His nephew is three years old. He was two when he was originally diagnosed. Just my Sam's age.

As he told me the story I got pretty emotional imagining my perfect son dying through a horrible long term illness (or even overnight in a terrible accident). The thought is devastating in a way that no other thought is.

Then I imagined myself next year as the physician directing the radiation therapy for this little boy. What would I do and how should I act? Would I allow myself to show my emotions and have a good cry with the family or should I be sympathetic but detached in hopes of allowing the family their grief but keeping the credibility perceived in a non-emotional assessment of the therapy's progress? I never had the experience of being involved in therapy quite like this during my oncology fellowship or my rotation last year. It will be interesting to see what it ends up being like.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

iPod, anyone?

August was a weak month for blogging. I think we've graduated from the blogging honeymoon period. Oh well, it's still fun when we get around to it.

This particular post is a shameful materialistic hedonism-fest. Okay, maybe nothing quite that dramatic, but the commercial aspect is undeniable. You see, today I opened a Key Bank checking account and credit card account to get a free iPod. This seems like a pretty straight-forward and painless thing (as opposed to my other "free stuff" adventures), so I thought I would give you the heads up. If you want, you can go into your local branch with this certificate too (rather than opening the account online) so that we can both get $25.

With any luck, the internet will yet make me RICH!!! Or at least, give me another fun gadget.