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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Screw you, residency

I've about had it with residency and its associated costs.  Jeff may already have an MD behind his name, but he's not making "doctor" money yet.  Fine by me.  But I get downright angry when we have to pay for doctor-related expenses out of our residency-level budget.

For example, recent expenses:

Orthopaedic Board Exam fee- $1,040
Sports Medicine weekend course- $500

Seriously?  We just paid for both of those things in the last 2 days.  I don't want to think about how long it took us to save up that much money, and how quickly it was wiped out.

And that Board Exam fee?  What a racket!  It's an online test!  What exactly costs so much that they have to charge EVERY ortho resident over $1000?  Please, anyone?  I'd really like to know.  Granted, the Sports Medicine course was elective.  But due to Jeff's less than stellar sports medicine opportunities during his residency he felt like it would really be helpful to go to before he starts his fellowship next year.  So we both agreed it would be a worthwhile expense...even though I was grumbling under my breath that residents should be able to attend for free or at a much lower cost.

Speaking of fellowship...we spent over $5,000 on interview expenses.

Grumble, grumble...



Friday, December 7, 2012

Internet Sensation and Christmas Comes Early


This is the same video I posted the other day...but this time instead of being on the local news, our lab made it to the CBS news website!!!

See it here.



And introducing the newest member of the family, my Dad's new dog, Bella!  An early Christmas present from me and Jeff :)





She's the sweetest puppy ever!  She is an 11 month old lab/shepherd mix that we rescued from the shelter.  Already learning "sit," "fetch," and to potty outside.  I can't believe she sat in a shelter for 6 months- she is really a great dog and I can't wait to puppy-sit in the future!

While Bella is still technically a puppy, there were so many other wonderful adult dogs available for adoption at the various shelters we visited.  It's so sad how many sit there for months or years just because someone wants a tiny puppy or a designer dog they can dress up.  I wish more people would at least consider adopting a shelter dog (or cat!) when looking for a new pet- they'll love you forever!








Friday, November 30, 2012

15 minutes of fame

Actually only 2 minutes and 27 seconds of fame, but I'll take it!  Beggars can't be choosers, right?

With much anticipation, I watched the clip about my lab's research on the local news last night.  It was almost entirely accurate.  You never know what you're going to get when you have non-science people explain science...

It was still pretty cool though!  You can catch a glimpse of me talking to my PI, Jill.  My face is just about completely obscured behind a microscope, but oh well.  My labmates fared better in their closeups.

You can watch it here!






Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Almost famous

Something really cool happened today.

The local news came to our lab to film a segment!  They heard about my PI getting a big grant for our research on the effects of estrogen on learning and memory and Meg Farris decided to feature us on her Medical Watch segment.

 

The only inconspicuous photo I could get


Anyway, if you're in Nola, watch WWL this Thursday at 5pm and you might catch me looking into a microscope!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On a roll

I'm officially NOT a one hit wonder!

I just got word that my 2nd first author paper was accepted for publication!  BAM.

I'll be in and out of the lab tomorrow for Thanksgiving, Friday, and all weekend.  It sucks, but at least I'll be riding this manuscript acceptance high for a few days.  Makes me feel like all this hard work actually pays off every now and then.

It is hard though seeing everyone post on Facebook about going home and how much they "really needed" this break, when I have to be on campus every freaking day testing rats in a maze and doing drug infusions into their brains.  Fun.

I know I'm not the only one.  I have first hand experience being married to a doctor, after all...Jeff is taking call for Thanksgiving so it's not like I'm missing out on too much.  And I know lots of other people have to work holidays.  Cops, the military, poor sales people who get tricked into working Black Friday.  That last one might get the shortest stick of them all.  Only kidding, sort of ;)

It really irks me though when I hear people complain about how hard they work at their 9-5, M-F jobs.  I know it's all relative, and to them it probably does seem difficult.  There are annoying, frustrating aspects to every job.  But come on, people.  Many of you have every weekend off, guaranteed.  And you can choose to take your vacation days whenever your heart desires.  You can even call in sick in the morning if you feel like it!  So far I've been able to keep my mouth shut, to their faces at least.  But behind their backs, Jeff and I sometimes can't help rolling our eyes a bit.  We're the ones who really need time off for the holidays- the people who don't clock out just because it's 5:00 on a Friday.

I never expected grad school to be easy, but I also never thought I'd be giving up quite as many holidays and weekends as I have in the past 4 1/2 years.  I mean, that's why I never wanted to go to med school!  I sure wasn't about to sign my life away.  I've always heard that nothing worth doing is easy.  I don't know if that's true, but I know that getting a PhD has definitely not been easy.  I just hope it turns out that it was worth doing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Am I crazy?

...or just a typical indecisive woman?

Because I just accepted a post-doc position for next year in Jackson.  Me, the person who hates research, just committed to another year of benchwork.

Remember how I said I had an interview?  Well, I went up to the medical school last Wednesday and the PI offered me the job on the spot.  I didn't post about it immediately because I needed a few days for everything to sink in and for me to give her an official answer.  I mean, I had gotten used to the idea of having a nice, relaxing year with perhaps a part-time job at Pottery Barn!  Or something equally fun with a nice employee discount ;)

But how could I turn down such a potentially great opportunity?  She is completely aware I will only be there for 1 year and is basically handing me a surefire, publishable experiment on a silver platter.  Plus, she wants to mentor me in regards to developing my teaching skills.  She's willing to let me carve out time to get some teaching experience, maybe even at my old Alma Mater across the street...

And, drumroll please...

I wouldn't have ANY rats!  No little critters who need to be fed on weekends.  No behavioral testing to be done on holidays!  I could potentially have a normal M-F, 9-5 work schedule.

Ok science, you've sucked me in.  Grr...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Success!

This is about a week late, but...

My 1st first author manuscript was accepted for publication!

Source
Looks like I will survive!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Home Stretch and All That

Happy Halloween!

I could actually care less about the holiday.  Jeff and I never have enough time to celebrate things that require advance planning, such as getting costumes.  We have candy.  And I just put out a little wire black cat that's lit up with orange lights.  That's as good as it gets at our house.  So instead of being excited about the 31st of October being Halloween, I'm excited that it marks another month down of Jeff living in Baton Rouge.  4 months of this stupid away rotation are over and 2 more to go!

In grad school news, I finished what was most likely my last rat ovariectomy EVER yesterday.  Feels awesome.  I've been working my butt off lately so I can hold onto hope of graduating in May.  I still have the option of graduating in August if I need a little more time, but the summer graduation doesn't carry all the hoopla of the big one in May.  After 5 years of research misery I want to walk across a big stage and get "hooded" dammit!  Would be pretty anticlimactic if one day I'm just done and someone says- congrats, your diploma is in the mail.

I've started preparing my PI (my boss to all you non-science people) for the fact that I will most likely be done with research after graduation.  She is supportive, but I know it's a huge disappointment to her whether she says so or not.  Of course everyone in academia thinks any career a PhD gets outside of the full-time tenure track faculty position is a waste of a degree.  There are a lot of students who are so burnt out after grad school that they go into something else entirely, but no one talks about it.  It's all very hush hush.  You don't want to do a post doc?!  You're throwing your life away!  Blasphemy.

It's a real guilt trip and it's ridiculous.

With that said, I have an interview in 2 weeks for a post doc in Jackson.  The PI was willing to let me stay for just 1 year during Jeff's fellowship.  One year post docs are completely unheard of- the minimum is usually 2 years, and many people stay for 4.  Needless to say, I would kill myself.

Pros-

  • The PI is a woman, which I think makes a drastic difference as far as having a life outside of the lab.  She has kids which is another bonus.  NEVER work for a single man.  They will expect you to be in the lab all the time since that's their only obligation.  Women with kids understand you have a life and other responsibilities.  
  • She obviously knows I will only be there for 1 year and is ok with that.  
  • Doing a postdoc will open up doors for me later on in terms of being able to get a faculty position...although I would need to do a 2nd postdoc since 1 year is not enough...see below.
Cons-

  • I'm not sure a 1 year postdoc would make a difference if I decide I just want to adjunct teach, which is what I'm leaning towards.  You don't need a postdoc for those positions.  With us moving around for Jeff's job and wanting to have kids at some point, I think adjunct teaching would give me flexibility.  
  • If I change my mind and DO decide I want a full time faculty position, I will have to do another postdoc and commit to another lab for at least 2 years.  So that's at the minimum THREE more years of research after grad school.
  • Thinking about doing more research makes me want to cry.

I'll obviously know more after I meet with her and see what her personality and the lab dynamic is like.  It's only an overwhelming, life changing decision.  No big deal.  Sigh...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I know a LOT about a very specific topic

You know what's annoying?

Having someone knock on your door during dinner trying to get you to buy something.  Or in my case today, buy magazines from some random, totally not legit sounding, probably religious yet they don't want you to know that, "program" that somehow eventually helps inner city kids.

Seriously I asked the girl 3 times to explain what company she was affiliated with and I still don't know.  She was trying to collect "points" in order to progress through the program and had to go door to door asking people about career advice and to rate her on her professional skills (such as her eye contact while talking to me), all while selling magazines.  Once she gets enough points, she can stop selling magazines and gets to be a mentor for inner city kids...whaaa?

Anywho, she asked me how I "entered the work force."

Blank stare.

Does a 2 month stint as a waitress in high school count?  Oh yea, I worked at a gift shop for about 5 months in college...

Yea, I can't help you.  Move along.

Believe me, I'm aware I have no marketable skills outside of science, thanks.  #whatshouldwecallgradschool




Sunday, October 21, 2012

Semblence of Normalcy


 Jeff, his dad, and brothers went fishing a few weeks ago- charter guide and all!  So that means we have a ton of fish in our freezer right now.  But with Jeff always being gone working in BR, covering football games on Friday nights, doing a clinic at the local prison (and other fun stuff), we haven't had much of an opportunity to enjoy any of it.



So when we found out he would be home this past Friday night, I jumped at the opportunity to cook a real meal together, that didn't involve following directions on a box (ok so the broccoli was frozen, but whatever).  We had two redfish fillets that have been waiting for just such an opportunity.  I found a recipe on the Food Network website and tweaked it a bit.  You can find the original recipe here.  The recipe is from Brigsten's, a popular New Orleans restaurant.  The official recipe name is Broiled Fish with Shrimp and Jalapeno-smoked Corn Beurre Blanc.  Sounds fancy, right?!

I wasn't going to spend time smoking corn to use, so I just used Mexicorn from a can.  Also used regular melted unsalted butter where it called for clarified butter.  And can I just say, it was incredible all the same!



I mean seriously, look at that butter.



Fresh jumbo Gulf shrimp from our local grocery

The jalapeno corn compound butter would also be amazing spread on hot cornbread.  I plan on just making that part of the recipe again to keep in my fridge for things like that!  I made the compound butter and deveined the shrimp ahead of time, so everything was prepped and ready to go...the actual cook time was only about 20 minutes or so.

I used to cook meals like this on a pretty regular basis, but since Jeff has been living in Baton Rouge they have become few and far between.  I'll admit, we've gotten in a bit of a dinner rut.  It's easy to do when life gets a little crazy.  Residency and grad school have a way of forcing you to prioritize your time, to streamline your life.  Cooking creative, fresh meals has a way of falling by the wayside.  But, every now and then it's nice to slow down and enjoy the process of cooking a nice meal together! 

And enjoy drinking the rest of the "cooking" wine ;)

What helps you get back to a sense of "normal" when your lives start to get a little too hectic?


Monday, October 15, 2012

The year flew by!

 Today is officially our one year wedding anniversary!  

Since it fell on a Monday, we celebrated on Saturday by going out to a nice dinner at August, which is John Besh's flagship restaurant here in New Orleans.




  

My family in St. Louis gave us this bottle of wine for our engagement and I have been saving it ever since.  I figured our 1 year anniversary was the perfect time to pop it open.  (Another cool thing about John Besh's restaurants?  He lets you BYOB with no corkage fee!)  





I started thinking about where the year has gone, and I realized it's gone to Jeff's residency.  Of our first year of marriage, he has been gone for 6.5 months.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is not normal!  It's been very challenging, but we've made it through.  Adjusting to married life can be hard for any couple, so I wasn't happy about having to spend so much time apart when I first learned of his 5th year schedule.  But we're on the downward slope now! 




The funny thing is...next year in Jackson, he will do two 5 week rotations here in New Orleans.  So we're not out of the "away rotation woods" quite yet.  I guess I have gotten pretty used to it by now..





 So we'll take our celebrations when we can get them, since on the actual day of our anniversary Jeff is in another city.

We did the usual save your cake topper tradition and cut it on Sunday.  We've had the most terrible luck with refrigerators over the past year, and our cake actually defrosted no less than 3 times.  I was really expecting the worst, extremely freezer burned mess of a cake, but it wasn't too bad after all.  Not very good, but not terrible.


Our cake the day of our wedding



Red velvet for the top layer




So here's to many more years of marriage to come for us, hopefully spent living together! 





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Big Things

This week has been full of big things.  Great, exciting, big, scary things.

I got an initial decision back from the editor of the journal (PLoS ONE) I submitted one of my manuscripts to- I just have to make some minor revisions and it will very likely be published!  They call it "revise and resubmit"- which is a good thing!  Especially since the revisions are easily doable.  I have submitted a different revised manuscript to another journal (Endocrinology)- I'm still waiting to hear the final decision from that editor.  Everyone cross your fingers!

I am actually published now on another manuscript, although not first author on this one.  That means it was another grad student's project, but I contributed a significant amount to her experiment.  You can find my name in lights here:

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory- Nelson et al 2012

AND...drum roll please...a professor at the med school in Jackson e-mailed me today and offered me an interview for a post-doc position in her lab next year!!!  The best news is that she is willing to let me do a short post-doc.  Most people want you to commit to at least 2 years, usually more, which is why I never really considered a post-doc to be an option for next year.  Remember- we will only be in Jackson for 1 year for Jeff to do his Sports Medicine fellowship.  I guess there's always the possibility he could work something out in Jackson and stay a bit longer, but it really seems like this professor is willing to work something out with me!  I'm going up to interview sometime next month so I'll know more details after I talk with her in person.

Can I just say:  NETWORK PEOPLE!  The only reason I got this offer is because I used my connections from my undergrad in Jackson and one of my old professors passed my CV along to the medical school.  There are a grand total of ZERO post-doc openings posted anywhere online for Jackson.  So the only way to find out about openings is to cold call professors whose research seems interesting or to use connections.  Admittedly, "using" people doesn't come easily to me.  I always feel like I am inconveniencing people.  I just had to realize that in research, a lot of times it's not what you know, but who you know.

I was really about to give up on next year.  I'd gotten really frustrated trying to figure out what my path will be after I graduate in the spring.  I'm still not sure if this post-doc is the right choice for me, but sometimes all you need is for someone to want you and make you feel like you're doing a good job in order to get motivated again.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birthday Boy

    
I completely missed this month's Medical Mondays bloghop.  Sorry to all my fellow peeps who normally link up!  I had the best intentions, but just couldn't get a post together in time..

Jeff and I spent last weekend celebrating his 31st birthday.  31!  As in, not just barely out of his 20's, but moving full force ahead into a new decade of life.  31 is very adult sounding, isn't it?  This is the same age he will be when he finishes residency- big things people!

Last year was the big 3-0 though and I went all out planning a surprise party.  Here's the fancy 30 year old person cake I got him last year:


                               


And here's the not-so-fancy 31 year old person cake he got this year, homemade by yours truly:



You're never too old for Funfetti.
                           


You know, basically the same thing.


But we did have two nights of delicious birthday dinners where we spent way too much money...

First was Mexican with a couple friends at The Velvet Cactus in the Lakeview area of Nola.  The whole place has Christmas lights and funky decorations everywhere, such as this:


                             

It was one of those meals where you are so stuffed you can't move afterwards.   You may have won this time Cactus...

And then Saturday night we went to a new-ish sushi place Uptown called Chiba.  The (very good looking and single!) owner happened to be our waiter for the night and to say he is obsessed with sake is an understatement.  He helped us navigate his extensive cold sake menu and after a 15 minute speech on the different types and qualities of each sake we ended up going with our usual option- the second cheapest bottle on the menu, which happened to be this one:

       

It was perfectly fine for our non-sake-discerning palates, thanks.  I'm sure the owner/waiter was judging us.

Oh, and we also had some sushi with our sake:

Very tasty indeed!

Told you I NEED a new iPhone with flash.  I'm ruining birthday memories!  I'm good at justifying wants into needs, see?




Believe me, it was good.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Reunion and a Wedding


I had the best time this past weekend getting to catch up with all of my best friends from college who were in Nola to celebrate our friends Rikki and Evan getting married!

The girls



Some of us with the bride


It was sort of like old times, albeit a little less crazy perhaps...a weekend in New Orleans would probably had ended much differently 5 years ago.  There was just the right amount of crazy to have a good time, but not enough to seriously question life choices, know what I mean?  
  


With the beautiful bride!

We're all growing up, have real jobs, some of us getting married or almost getting married.  But it's nice to know we're all still here for each other and that our friendships will hopefully stand the test of time no matter how far flung we are around the country.  We all lead such different lives now, but it's amazing how we can fall right back in step with each other when we do get together.  



At the wedding

The only difference is that we have to include the boys now :)


Boys creepin' in the background


I'm sad the weekend is over and already looking for another excuse for a reunion!





Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Grad School Woes

Ok.  I'm having a bit of a crisis as of late.

I just realized that I planned my experiment schedule for this semester wrong and instead of finishing all my behavior testing by Thanksgiving, I actually won't be done til around New Year's.  I somehow managed to be over an entire month off!  So that means I'll be working through ALL the holidays.  As in, right now I'm scheduled to be working Thanksgiving and Christmas DAY.

Ugh.  Like...really?  And people wonder why I hate research so much.  If you want a career in research, you really have to love it and be prepared for it to be your first priority.  That's something I'm not prepared to do.  I anticipate Jeff having to work holidays.  He's a doctor.  It's something he sort of signed up for and I've gotten used to it.  But when I first started grad school, working holidays (major holidays at least) was not something I thought I would have to do.  So this year, while Jeff will finally have both Thanksgiving and Christmas off (if those are the holidays he picks), I will most likely be working both!  Oh, how the tables have turned.  Cross your fingers that I can fudge things a bit and somehow work around the holidays.

That in and of itself completely sucks (I mean, I haven't even processed that yet).  But what I'm seriously having a small panic attack about is the fact that I now have an entire month less of uninterrupted dissertation writing time than I thought I would have.  People sometimes take an entire semester just to write.  I'll now have about a month and a half.

I have to graduate this May, people!  For my own sanity.

Assuming I still get everything done on time, I'm still faced with the question of what the heck do I do next year in Jackson?!  It's not long enough to do a post-doc.  Do I even want to do a post doc?  Apparently I have to if I ever want a full time college teaching gig.  Is it worth putting myself through 2-4 more years of research misery?  Does that mean I need to do another year of research while in Jackson to keep my CV up to date???  Are there even ANY research jobs in the thriving metropolis of Jackson?  Am I seriously now considering more research?  I thought I was going to have a vacation year!!

Can someone please send me a crystal ball?  Thanks.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Photo Dump and Hurricanes


Looks like today is my lucky day!  My Blogger iPhone app decided to work and let me upload pictures from my phone.  So lucky YOU- you get to see all the random pictures from our lives the past couple of weeks!

There have been lots of baseball games...


Zephyrs game





And birthday parties for cute babies at baseball games...

        
 

  


How cute is this setup?!

Oh, and did I mention there was a hurricane?

Hurricane Isaac completely screwed up my plans in the lab last week so this week will be a mad dash to do twice as much work in half the amount of time.  Unexpectedly, Jeff was able to stay home with me the ENTIRE week.  A week!  That we had off together!  At the same time!!!  It was a miracle.  Since he's on an elective rotation he got lucky and didn't have to cover at the hospital during the storm.  So we both drove to my mom's house a little north of New Orleans to wait out the storm.  We went a little a lot stir crazy sitting around doing not much of anything (Jeff did continue to study every day like normal though). 

Somehow we got lucky and never lost electricity.  Which is astounding in my opinion since almost all of New Orleans and the surrounding area lost power for at least a day or two.  Have you ever had to go without air conditioning in 100 degree August heat with 100% humidity?  Let's just say, it's not fun.

So while we had electricity, cable, etc. there was still nothing to do because everything in town was closed (and obviously storming outside).  So we ate.  Like, the whole weekend nonstop.  I probably gained 5 lbs.  Whatever.  The night before the storm hit my mom and I went out to eat because we figured it might be our last chance to get out of the house for a few days at least.  We were in luck because the restaurant was trying to get rid of as much food as possible before it all went bad if they lost power.  So they had this special pasta- Hurricane Pasta to be exact.  Softshell crab, crawfish, shrimp, scallops, and mussels all in one delicious dish:


It was a beautiful thing.

We made it back to our little apartment in Nola this past Friday morning and all was well.  We actually never lost power there either- apparently our street all had power throughout the storm.  Another miracle!  Unlike the rest of Nola.  I actually felt a little guilty...I mean, we had a surplus of air conditioned houses to stay in!  Meanwhile, everyone else was tossing and turning at night in sweltering heat.  If that doesn't make you go out and immediately buy a generator I don't know what will.

We ended our week off together with spending our Labor Day in the French Quarter playing tourists.  And the final miracle of hurricane week?  The French Quarter was EMPTY!  It was like we had the whole of New Orleans to ourselves for one afternoon.  Pretty darn good.


Having beignets at Cafe du Monde

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blogging delay

I had been planning to post about Jeff recently covering LSU football practice and some high school football games. And about a fun birthday party we went to for our friends' baby at a Zephyrs baseball game. And about my good friend Erin having her baby boy this past week!

But then Blogger wouldn't upload my pictures. And I got sick. And we found out Hurricane Isaac changed course and started heading directly for New Orleans.

So I'll upload that post whenever all of those above things resolve. But right now we're hurricane prepping and trying not to panic. Tomorrow will be a regular work day for us and we'll know more about the exact path by then.  It's supposed to make landfall late Tuesday night/early Wednesday.

How much is a bag of sand worth?  $3.60 seems a bit steep but if it saves our furniture downstairs it will be a steal!



But here's the kicker- this Wednesday is the anniversary of Katrina.  BOOM.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Residency Blues

So we're almost 1.5 months down on this away rotation and it's completely sucking. It really wasn't too bad until this week. Either Jeff or I would drive once a week to see each other on a weeknight, and we would be together every weekend. Not ideal, but not terrible either.

Well, as football season is getting started, all that is about to change. Since Jeff is on an elective rotation right now, he shares some of the responsibilities with the resident on the Sports rotation. Which is great, in theory, since Jeff is doing a Sports fellowship next year. Lots of great experience! The problem with that is the football team practices and plays games on weekends. Which means Jeff has to be there various Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays to run clinics and check up on the athletes.

I'm so happy that he will get to work with the LSU football team (how cool is that?!) but I'm really starting to resent residency on a whole new level lately. Is it not enough that he has to live in a different city for 6 months, but now he'll be gone weekends as well? Ugh. And the cherry on top is the fact that he has a work-related dinner or conference every evening this week.  So there goes my plan to see him at all this week.

Don't get me wrong- growing up an only child, I really appreciate some alone time every now and then. I love getting to watch all my trash/reality/Housewives of whatnot shows whenever I want. But after a few days when I've caught up on all my errands and let's get real-there's only reruns on, it get's pretty boring.

So hurry up away rotation. I want my husband back!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A little levity

I had a great time this past Sunday throwing a small baby shower for my friend Erin.  I was realllly excited though to finally get to use some of the wedding gifts we received last year.  So I went shopping in the closet at my mom's house a few weeks ago where half of our wedding gifts are still stored.  It was like Christmas!

 
This is really dark :(
   
And all my months of obsessing over Pinterest were finally put to use...







    

Can't wait to meet her baby boy in about a month!


In residency news, one month of this Baton Rouge rotation down! 


And has everyone been as obsessed with the Olympics as I've been?  I can't stop watching the gymnastics, women's beach volleyball, and men's swimming.  I've been struggling through work this week in a sleep-deprived haze since my usual bedtime is way before it ends each night :)


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living in the future

339 days til residency is over.

That's the first time I've actually counted how much time we have left in residency.  I can't even calculate a number for how much longer I have til I'm done with my PhD.  It gives me too much anxiety to not have an exact graduation date.

339 days feels like such a long time, but it's not really when I think about how far Jeff and I have come since moving to New Orleans the summer before his intern year.  For some reason I feel like this last year will be extra slow and as torturous as possible though.

We've started reading a book called The Medical Marriage by Wayne and Mary Sotile.  We'll read a chapter together on the weekends or whenever we have time.  I know this is incredibly cheesy, but so far it's given us invaluable insight.  Not all of it pertains to us, but that's ok.  So far, the biggest lightbulb that has gone off in our heads from reading this book is that we are constantly living in the future.  Physicians in training and medical families are used to delayed gratification.  But after so many years of postponing our lives til residency is over, til we have more money, til I'm done with school that we've become pretty miserable in our day to day lives.  Or at least I have.

It's no secret that I hate grad school.  But the constant "going without" all the time so we can save for when we'll have no income next summer has gotten pretty unbearable lately and has compounded my hatred for having to go into the lab everyday.  It makes it extremely difficult to get through the stresses of grad school and residency when we feel like we can't even enjoy ourselves along the way.

Add that to the fact that the hubs and I are both crazy Type A people who always want to do the responsible thing by saving for a rainy day.  This has resulted in our social lives becoming pretty depressing lately.  But our recent failed beach vacay combined with some insight gleaned from The Medical Marriage was just the push we needed to decide we were done living in the future.  Or at least to such an extreme.

We've decided to treat ourselves to nice dinners every now and then, and not panic so much if we go over our set monthly budget for various entertainment expenses.  But perhaps most exciting of all, we've started planning a big vacation for next summer after we both graduate.  We've always tossed around this idea in our heads, but for awhile dismissed it as costing too much money, money that could be more responsibly spent paying down loans.  But postponing our lives for so long has taken such a toll on our morale that we've just decided to go for it.  Even though it's still a year away, it gives me something exciting to look forward to which will hopefully make this last year a little less painful.  I know that looking forward to a vacation next summer is still technically living in the future, but at least it's the not so distant future.

It will be nothing short of a miracle when Jeff graduates residency and I finish my PhD next summer.  And I can't think of a better reason to spend a chunk of our hard earned cash on something intangible!

So here's to living more in the present.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get off your butt and cook

I was doing so good last week cooking healthy meals for myself.  Full of motivation and still excited about my new "project."  I have to say though that sometimes it's just easier to have a bowl of cereal and some yogurt and call it a night.

But the eggplant and zucchini I bought last week weren't getting any fresher sitting in my fridge, so I pulled myself out of my cooking rut tonight and decided to make this Barley Ratatouille Salad I found on this Sprouted Kitchen blog recently:




It turned out pretty good!  It's the first time I've ever cooked with barley and I really liked the texture.  Plus, I'm giving myself a big pat on the back for actually enjoying the zucchini and eggplant which have historically not been my favorite veggies.

Guess I'll be eating leftovers all weekend cause I know there's no way I'll get Jeff to eat it :)


If you're interested, I'll have the recipe posted on my Recipage.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Let's try this again

Our last attempt at a beach vacation was a complete bust.  It literally rained poured the entire time Jeff and I were in Gulf Shores last month.  So when my mom invited us to come stay with her in the condo she rented this past weekend, we made a last minute decision to drive back to Gulf Shores for another chance at some sun.

Jeff and I were both in a rush to get out of work Friday and get on the road.  And that's when Jeff realized he had lost his wedding band.  Awesome.  I knew it was only a matter of time before this happened with him taking it on and off all day during surgeries.  That's why I bought him a cheapo ring.  But still, I couldn't help being a little irritated.  After driving downtown to search a classroom he had been in, and making frantic phone calls to housekeeping staff at the Baton Rouge hospital he had operated in earlier that day, a cleaning lady actually found his ring!  In a scrub pants pocket in a huge laundry bin full of dirty scrubs.  We will be writing this woman a very nice thank you note.  So an hour behind schedule, we were finally on our way to the beach!

And get sun we did.  The weather on Saturday was ok, but Sunday was perfect and we soaked up as many rays as possible.  I have proof of a successful beach vacay in the form of an uneven sunburn covering approximately 75% of my body.

One thing we have learned about Gulf Shores is that the eating situation is terrible.  Not only do the majority of restaurants down there serve downright bad food, but you have to wait a guaranteed hour and a half to get into most places at dinner time.  Anyone looking for a surefire business opportunity?  Open a restaurant in Gulf Shores.

Luckily, there's a little beach shack called Sea & Suds within walking distance of where we always stay that serves the best fish or shrimp sandwiches for only $5-6.  (They also serve a pretty mean pina colada).  We had lunch there both days.

At Sea & Suds

Jeff's parents, brother Joe, and grandma also made a last minute trip to Gulf Shores that same weekend, so we were happy to get to spend some quality time with them:


Jeff's parents

Joe, Grandma, and Jeff

And my cousin Addie made the trip as well:

Mom and Addie

After many trips to GS driving around trying to find a tourist trap for dinner with a less than 2 hour wait, we decided to go to Louisiana Lagniappe for the sole reason that they let you call ahead and put your name on the list.  Smart, those people.


Before dinner

Dinner was awesome, albeit a bit pricey.  But definitely the best meal we've had in Gulf Shores.


At the LL Bar


Jeff, me, and Mom



Me and Addie


Note that those pictures were all pre-sunburn.

So back to the daily grind again today and back to eating healthier after our weekend splurge.  Jeff headed back to Baton Rouge this morning before dawn like he does every Monday.  Hope everyone has a great week!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time for a change


With summer well underway and shorts and flip flops a part of my daily wardrobe, I can no longer ignore the fact that I've been a little lax on the healthy eating front lately.  Ok...a lot lax.  It's easy to do in New Orleans.  Even someone with an insane amount of willpower would have trouble resisting the lure of delicious treats on every Nola corner.  And insane willpower I have not.

So with my pre-wedding clothes fitting a little tighter and our bank account suffering from our frequent restaurant visits, I knew it was time for an extreme makeover, food edition.

I decided I really wanted to start eating better, not to be on a "diet" but just to focus on putting healthier foods into my body.  When Jeff is home, it's hard to eat healthy while also finding something to cook for dinner that he likes to eat and that's filling enough for him after a long day of fasting at the hospital.  With Jeff now living in Baton Rouge on week nights I had the opportunity about a week ago to do a complete grocery list overhaul.

Here's some of my swag:




I've been sticking to these foods for a week now and I already feel so much better.  AND by eating mostly whole foods at every meal I didn't feel so guilty when the hubs and I went for a Sunday night froyo run.

Although I have come up with a pretty good froyo substitute:


Nonfat Greek yogurt w/ frozen berries


I introduced Jeff to Lentil Quinoa Salad this past Friday night in an effort to get him to jump on the bandwagon:






He hates beans so I told him lentils were a grain.  Still couldn't fool him.  He wasn't a fan.  Guess you can't win em all.

I've been trying to make healthier decisions for breakfast and lunch as well.  I had gotten into the habit of bringing a Lean Cuisine for lunch everyday out of convenience.  Have you ever looked at the sodium content on a Lean Cuisine?  It's a lot...


Easy quick breakfast- apples and nonfat cottage cheese


Veggie sandwich- better than a Lean Cuisine!

They say it takes 30 days for something to become a habit.  It's only been a week, but so far it's been pretty easy as all these foods are filling and don't leave me feeling deprived.  I'm going to start sharing some of the recipes I've tried on a new "Recipes" tab on this blog.  

And I'd love for you to share some of your healthy recipes with me!