3 and 31

Ben turned 3 and I turned 31 on Monday.

My sweet friends Erika and Galina surprised us with door decorations on our front door when we opened it up in the morning:

FullSizeRender (1)

Last weekend, we started the birthday celebrations with some time spent in Frankenmuth at the Bavarian Inn with Grammy and Mike. Of course, Grammy spoiled Ben with a few too many presents! 🙂


The cheesy photo that is starting to become a tradition. Although this is the last year we can do it as a family of 3. Luckily, we spotted one with 4 “head holes” so that we can eventually include baby sis.

IMG_4272 (1)


Out next birthday trip was to Chicago the next weekend. We re-visited the Museum of Science and Industry again since it was such a hit last time. Ben loved the Legos exhibit, the trains, and the baby chick hatchery (especially this little chick that kept kicking up sawdust…he laugh so loud and so long that I thought we might get kicked out).


Ben met a new babysitter and her boyfriend who is a PE teacher for preschoolers; needless to say they hit it off from the moment we dropped him off. While he was with the sitter we went to a reunion with several of my former co-workers and friends from UIC College Prep. It was so great to catch up with them. Several of them have not seen me since June 2013, 3 years ago, when I was almost exactly as pregnant as I am now. The running joke was that I should probably see a doctor about this ongoing watermelon-sized lump that has persisted in my stomach for 3 years…

IMG_9549 (1)

On Sunday we hung out with Ben’s good friend Oli and our dear friends Joanna and Tom, who are also expecting baby #2 anytime now. We ate a yummy brunch at Eggy’s and played in a cute park.


Then we headed back to Ben’s favorite place downtown (the Bean) and discovered a new favorite (Cloud Gate fountains). Last time we were here the water wasn’t on, so Ben had a blast splashing around.


IMG_4316 (1)


On our way out of town we grabbed ice cream and the essential bag of Garrett’s popcorn. Ben fell asleep almost immediately and slept almost the entire way home. Out of our desire to not wake him, we never stopped for food but instead ate almost the entire bag of popcorn. Later Sunday night I got super nauseous and feverish with some chills. I started getting more frequent contractions and eventually threw up, but felt pretty weak, queasy, and out of it afterward.  Although I suspected the popcorn had something to do with it, I was terrified that I was going into labor. On June 5th. Which would likely mean an arrival date of June 6th. Exactly like with Ben 3 years ago. I was determined to NOT have yet another baby on my birthday, so I went to bed praying. Luckily I woke up June 6th feeling much better. 🙂


On Monday, on our actual birthday day, we went for a lovely outdoor dinner at Real Seafood Co.



Then we came home to blow out candles and open presents. Up until that moment Ben had lately been denying that it was Mommy’s birthday too. It was all his, and I was fine with that. Having minimized the mention of it being my birthday too, we gave him all the attention. But right after he blew out his 3 candles, he sweetly said: “And now it’s Mommy’s turn.”  Be still, my heart.


I’d say our 3rd and 31st birthdays were a success.


M3 Wk 1 Peds

I’m a week into my first rotation of M3 year (Pediatrics, which is 6 wks long) before maternity leave begins, and hoping I can make it to the end in one piece. So far I am loving it so much and learning a ton, but it’s also kicking my behind. I can’t recall the last time in my life that I’ve been so tired. I’m sure being 34 weeks pregnant is responsible for much of it, but I’m also not getting enough sleep for having to wake up around 5:30am. And the clinical world just demands way more energy than than the pre-clinical years, when studying all day was the only expectation much of the time.  It’s hard to imagine how I will do this with a 3-year-old AND a newborn when I return to the wards in late August. But somehow I will…

For most of these next 6 weeks I will just dump some photos or videos on the blog because that’s about all I’ll have the time or energy for. So here goes for Wk 1:

From a walk on Mother’s Day last weekend:

000 Mothers Day walk.jpg

Ben’s latest drawings… The scribbles on the right are usually the final product, but lateley he’s been more into drawing figures and even attempting letters. On the left, he did all of these on his own, but when I saw how adorably his B’s were (top left) I helped him practice the neatly drawn one on the tip middle/right.000 Bens drawings

Doodle board (at daycare) and dominos (John’s creation). Ben has been obsessed with making various formations to act out football games and marching band shows with dominoes lately. Interesting kid…

000Ben Dominos

Ben had his first day of underwear (only 2-3 hours of the day really). Two accidents and no successful pee-ing/poo-ing on the potty, but he seemed excited about the underwear and the two episodes of peeing on the floor (hardwood, thank goodness, not carpet) was a good learning experience for him. Hopefully more of these weekend days of big boy undies will help him be better at recognizing when he needs to go and building motivation to get to the potty… right now, it seems he’s a long way from being potty trained.

000 Ben undies


Step One Done

I had this post open all week, but couldn’t seem to muster the clarity of mind to write down any words that properly conveyed the exhausting experience of studying for and taking that test. So I didn’t.  And since I’ve been done for a full week now, enjoying every moment of the freedom, I’m much less motivated to re-live the experience. We also started M3 orientation today, so my mind is already elsewhere… forced to move forward on this journey to the start of my clinical years.  But I have to jot down a couple of post-Step 1 memories that I’m sure I’ll vividly recall someday when I re-read this:

  1. I got lost in the building after walking out of the test. It was a simple entrance and exit, but somehow I got lost. My mind was spinning and I called John and couldn’t even formulate a sentence properly.
  2. I cried 3 times in the first thirty minutes after being done. First, after just hearing John’s voice. Then, when I saw two geese (they were just average geese standing in a patch of grass…but they just looked so beautiful to my glazed-over eyes). And finally, when I scrolled through my phone looking at photos of Ben. (The tears came in fits and burst. I would sob for about two minutes and then be totally done. It was like I had no energy left even to cry beyond the necessary minimum).
  3. Picking up Ben from daycare was the sweetest thing in the world. He was drawing with chalk when I arrived and he flitted around from one patch of scribbles to the next showing me every detail of his artwork. His fluency and vocabulary and tone made him seem like he had aged a whole year in just six weeks. It was such an overwhelming feeling to know that during that difficult time he was growing and thriving among people who so loved and so cherished him (grandparents, teachers at daycare, and Dad of course), even when I couldn’t spend nearly as much time with him as usual.
  4. For 6 weeks John did all daycare drop-offs and pickups, so when I loaded Ben up in my car that day (post-test), his first words were, “Mom, I’ve never ridden in your car before.” (He likes to say he has never done something when it’s been quite awhile since he last did it). It melted me. The whole way home we talked about how Mom’s car works and all the different buttons and parts, as if he has never seen it before. It reminded me of how I suddenly was alive again, seeing things in the world that I (similarly) felt deprived of for six week, almost as if I had never even lived before.



This is a bit random, but I will always associate this picture with Step studying now. My parents sent it a few weeks before my test, while they were digging through some old photos for a party for my great Aunt. It’s me at age 3, almost exactly as old as Ben is. Our faces are strikingly similar. It made me laugh. Soon I’ll find a good side-by-side of Ben to post along with it.


This picture also reminds me of how I was at age 3: strong and tough and fiercely independent (or so I’m told). Very similar to Ben.

This quote I randomly read the same day my parents sent me that picture helped me get through some of the tougher moments of study period.    “It’s interesting how we often can’t see the ways in which we are being strong — like, you can’t be aware of what you’re doing that’s tough and brave at the time that you’re doing it because if you knew that it was brave, then you’d be scared.”   —Lena Dunham


Ok, enough rambling about Step 1. Onward to M3 year! And 7.5 weeks and counting til Baby #2 joins us on this crazy, fun adventure. 🙂

Almost There!

Only 2 days of studying left!

Inspired by this little guy to keep turning the pages…keep reading…keep reviewing…keep studying… even when I’m sitting on the toilet.. Ok I haven’t gone that far. But I am listening to Goljian review on audio while brushing my teeth at this point. Every moment counts now.

Hiccup Tummy

Baby girl has been getting the hiccups a several times a day now. It’s such an odd feeling for me, and I can’t help but wonder if it bothers her. Ben got tons of hiccup episodes outside the womb, when he was tiny guy, but I don’t ever recall him hiccuping in utero like this. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to have hiccups when you’re “underwater” … the version in my head seems unpleasant.

In the past few days Ben has initiated a lot of pretend play around being sick and going to the hospital… he’s playing doctor! Can you imagine my excitement!? We saw the UM Survival Flight helicopters flying overhead a few days ago on a walk and he had lots of questions about them; perhaps that was the prompt for this game? Anyway, he was playing doctor with his animals and then he pretended to be the sick one and wanted me listen to his heart, for like the first time ever. (He would never sit still when I used to try long ago…)

Our little Ben has also been more aware and expressive of how he’s feeling and curious about how his body works. Yesterday, at dinner, he wanted to look down at his belly after every bite to see if it got bigger. “It’s SOOO big now, see!?” he kept saying. It was SOOO FUNNY!  Of course, I had to brag to him that my tummy was bigger. So after dinner we both got our tummies out to check. Mine won. 🙂



Don’t move away friends!

I had lunch with my dear friend Jenna today…such a nice study break!

We’re moving into the house they’ve been renting in July (they’ll be moving back to Chicago). It makes me so sad to see them go, but we’re excited to visit them in Chicago…and we will force them come back to Ann Arbor to visit their old house.

Ben will really miss his lil friend Aivry. They’ve been two peas in a pod right out of the womb. I just discovered these gems, from back on a day when they played in a park together. Their little bodies are just so round and hilarious next to each other, aren’t they!?



One more throwback picture of me and my chunky little round man. I think this was from apple picking with Jenna, Paul and Aivry…Ben was probably just over a year old here.