Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#5Faves and the War Between the States

With all the recent news and debate on the Confederate flag hanging above the South Carolina state house in light of violence against black Americans in churches, I thought I would share a few books on a turbulent time in our country - our only civil war!

One of my favorite lessons with my students is discussing the Civil War/ War Between the States. It's important to emphasize that the North and South were both to blame in terms of how they handled the crises leading up, how the regions and their people's philosophies conflicted, and that nothing can justify the evils of slavery, even if someone had good intentions. I also like to add that slavery is nothing new to history - it should not be surprising that our country had it - especially considering trade with other countries - and we should be proud to have gotten rid of it within one hundred years of America's Founding. That is exceptional. And racism? That is a power struggle and it is wrong.

Here are a few excellent books for adults to read!


Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction by James McPherson and James Hogue

This is actually the textbook from college days that I read during my Civil War/ War Between the States class. It is written in the narrative, which lends to a beautiful visualization of the historical events. This book gets into the sociology of the culture as well, and really fleshes out the country. An outstanding read!


A Nation Transformed: How the Civil War Changed America Forever by Gerald S. Henig and Eric Niderost 

I picked this book up in Georgia at a local history museum in Marietta. If you're looking for a book like the above (but not as academic), this book is a dream. It is well-written, discusses over 150 "firsts" in our country as mini-chapters, has 160+ pictures, and is very detailed and delightful.


Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

I was shocked to hear that politicians in Maryland wish to re-name Robert E. Lee Park to a more "sensitive" name so as to not honor someone who "led the forces in rebellion against the United States of America on behalf of secessionists who sought to perpetuate slavery" - frankly, this shows a deficiency of knowledge and understanding about General Lee and his life. Here is a letter written by Lee on December 27, 1856 [separated and emphasized by me for easier reading] in response to a speech by President Pierce:
I was much pleased with the President's message. His views of the systematic and progressive efforts of certain people at the North to interfere with and change the domestic institutions of the South are truthfully and faithfully expressed. The consequences of their plans and purposes are also clearly set forth. These people must be aware that their object is both unlawful and foreign to them and to their duty, and that this institution, for which they are irresponsible and non-accountable, can only be changed by them through the agency of a civil and servile war. There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. 
I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist!  
While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is still onward, and give it the aid of our prayers, let us leave the progress as well as the results in the hands of Him who, chooses to work by slow influences, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day. Although the abolitionist must know this, must know that he has neither the right not the power of operating, except by moral means; that to benefit the slave he must not excite angry feelings in the master; that, although he may not approve the mode by which Providence accomplishes its purpose, the results will be the same; and that the reason he gives for interference in matters he has no concern with, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbor, - still, I fear he will persevere in his evil course. . . . Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?

This volume of letters was collected and curated by his son, Robert, and gives insight into the man of compassion and culture. He was a true gentleman, and whose character is worth studying. Maryland should proudly have a park named after him!

Bonus: currently free for Kindle!


Emilie Davis's Civil War: The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865

This woman has a very unique perspective, and I love primary documents. A free black woman in the north who was active in the abolitionist movement? Sign me up!


The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South by Bruce Levine

If you want to understand the origins of the War, that is awesome. But don't forget about Reconstruction - for example, President Johnson's allowance of black codes is a lasting legacy and a contributing reason we are still seeing the horrible repercussions of racism today. This is a fantastic book.

Joining up with Jenna!

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Advice for Intern Year: Surviving Residency Is Possible (so far)

Yesterday was the party for the new emergency medicine residents. OH YES PLEASE. The light at the end of this tunnel is a little bit brighter.

It was a fun party and I really like a couple of the new interns, which is a shame, since I probably will not see them as often as I would like... but this year, I am inviting more people over for dinner. The Year of Survival is over.

During residency, anything is possible. It just depends on how much you're willing to sacrifice. One of the graduating seniors just moved back to Arkansas, where his wife lives and works. Yes, they survived three years of living apart. I don't think I could do that. But maybe I could, if I had to.

Then again, I am not quite sure how I survived both of a new job + pregnancy, therapy, doctor visits, editing/writing (okay, this definitely took a hit), living in a new area and a husband who works ridiculous hours. In retrospect, two under two is a breeze in comparison. I'm doubly thrilled not to be moving for a third summer...!! I can keep getting settled, and I like this feeling.

01. Establish your support system

Our families may live far away, but technology allows us to have a direct line. The girls love seeing and hearing the sounds of their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and it gives us a reason to come together, even for a short period of time.

I am an introvert, and so I often get drained after teaching even - but for the sake of the girls (and adult conversation! sort of.), we talk to family often. It's very nice knowing my people are supporting us! Then, of course, there is the occasional phone call, a multitude of texts and e-mailing with friends. Whatever you do, do not hide under a blanket during residency. When your favorite person is gone all the time, you need some sort of outlet!

02. Understand that your person is going to be gone a lot - and they often cannot control that.

Yes, residents now have an 80 hour work week limit. Okay. Unfortunately, there is more work to be done - there is charting, logging, studying for in-service exams, research projects, and waiting for lab results to come back.

A sub-question: do you find yourself feeling resentful? Are you frustrated? This is all normal. This period of time is not easy. Do NOT compare your situation with other people's, because a) you're not going to feel better, b) you're not properly dealing with these feelings, and c) everyone has their own burdens.

The biggest hurdle I am still overcoming is accepting that I (generally) do everything. I pay the bills (with Will's paycheck! HA!), handle therapy and all errands, clean the house, laundry (sometimes), and generally keep the house functioning. This is a full-time job. I might not be saving lives, but I am certainly keeping four people alive, functioning and happy. Pat on the back, people! Give yourself one too!

03. Have many conversations about what that means for you two as a couple, and how you want to re-connect and have quality time together.

Some rotations, I can't expect conversations from Will. This is tough for me because talking is a love language. We do a lot of in-home dates; I might pick up a treat from the store because it's still cheaper than going out (e.g. $6 for a six pack of Yuengling, check).

We'll watch a movie or show, talk about our days and any interesting articles we've read, do extra therapy or playtime with GHB, exercise/ take the girls on a walk, or play a game. We're currently playing a game called Hearthstone, which is like a simpler version of Dungeons & Dragons (so Will says - I am not very game literate), AND it's online, so we can play against each other!

As long as we're together, though, I am pretty happy. I definitely do not take him or his time off for granted.

04. Perspective: this is hard on your resident too.

Will and Grace are two peas in a pod. It's adorable watching them interact and play. I send Will pictures and texts throughout the day to keep him updated on what's going on. There are days Will does not see Grace, and there is a definite difference in her behavior. She misses her dad! So we look at pictures and videos of him, and that is really special. Additionally, if I'm having a busy day and forget to text Will, I'll usually get a reminder text from him!

What if I don't have any kids?! No problem - your resident still wants to hear about what you're doing! He might be super busy and not notice the clock the same way you're staring at it, but who doesn't like texts from their favorite person?

05. Get involved!

At least during EM rotations, the girls and I like to take dinner to Will. Other days, we'll stop by the ER offices to say hello. This year, I've decided to take more initiative to meet people in the program, have them over and have playdates. Isolation in this program can feel its worst on cold, winter days.

I've also decided to start a food and supplies drive within the EM department to benefit the local food kitchen. We're only a few blocks away, and we live close to the hospital, so people can drop off donations on our porch! I am really excited to spearhead this. People in need every month of the year, not just during the holiday season, and we have a duty to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ any way we can.

Here's a great list of items, if you want to help too!

Waiting to see Dad!

06. Accept your limits!

Limits are human, unlimited resources is impossible for anyone, and burn-out is very, very real.  Treat yo' self! Get sleep, eat well, exercise, pray and be kind to yourself and others. This period can feel worse than it is without a lot of love going around.

07. When in doubt, carry on. 

For as tough this final leg of learning is for the residents, remember why you're even in this situation: you love that doctor-person! Do everything out of love, even cleaning the floors.

Also, make a schedule. Just me? I need to know when I'm going to squeeze in:

  • therapy
  • doctor appointments
  • class
  • meal planning
  • errands (i.e. grocery shopping)
  • rest time
  • sleeping
  • exercise
  • prayer/ read the daily readings/ prayer of spiritual communion
  • cleaning schedule
  • play dates
  • reading/ class prep
  • writing/ editing

Et cetera. Because the fun don't stop! However, we're also up for taking a break and ignoring the schedule. Those are usually the best times. 

Today (and the next three days), Will is gone all day. After I finish this post, I am going to fix lunch, finish a book review, make the bed, and fold laundry. Once Grace wakes up, I'll give her a little more lunch, and then we all might go to Chik-fil-A to play on the play-set (rainy today!) and enjoy a peach shake. Or, we might do that next week! It's summer. We're free.

Thanks for hanging out, readers! And mucho thanks for all of your support this year. Could not have done it without my little blog platoon!

How do you survive stressful times?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#5Faves: Summer Needs

Since us Baldwin ladies are officially back on the east coast for the summer, there are a few things we are needing...


Sanuk sandals - yoga sling 2 variety

These babies are HEAVEN: made from recycled yoga mats, and I love the unique bands. These are actually my house sandals, as silly as that sounds. When talking to the running shoe saleswoman last week and discussing why I am looking for more support, she asked if I walk barefoot around the house.

"Sure," I replied.

"Then it doesn't matter if you have supportive shoes for outside if there is no support inside!" she replied.

So right. My feet are much happier! The coziness is unreal.


Grace loves water. She has swim therapy once a week, and when we were home, we took her to the swim club a few times. I realized a few things: I'll never be able to handle both girls at the pool; water is an awesome motivator for therapy; there's got to be an easier way to have fun without leaving our own inflatable pool.

Then again, we have a bag of play sand, so maybe this one: Step2 Shady Oasis Sand and Water Play Table

UPDATE (since writing this part): we actually bought this one last night: Step2 Splash N Scoop.

(Anyone else absolutely nails-on-the-chalkboard despise "N" instead of "and" too?!?)


My sister bought me an awesome glass water bottle for Christmas, but it's tough to share with Grace (who loves whatever Mom is drinking/eating), so I am buying a second water bottle for the not-so-secret reason that I adore camelbaks and I miss my old one.

I also bought this cute little one for Grace!


Our rental duplex has no air conditioning. Okay, we're okay. We have a couple of ceiling fans, a couple of little fans, and Laura even has her own personal fan (because girlfriend seems heat/humidity-sensitive). In the front room, I love our Honeywell tower - it cools down the room, isn't too noisy and really is a fantastic instrument. If we didn't have ceiling fans, I would buy more of these!

Swim diapers

Since disposable swim diapers are heck-a expensive, Grace has swim therapy once/ week, AND we're called to be stewards of the earth, these swim diapers are winners + super cute.

I also really like the Honest Company's collection - may need to buy a back-up pair!

My other summer must-haves: sparkling water, Aveeno sunscreen, my REI sunglasses, watermelon
Will's summer must-haves: cold coca-colas, fresh tennis balls, baseball hats, chips & salsa

What are your summer must-haves?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tales from the Emergency Room

One of our favorites:

Or something like this... happy Wednesday! Will is sleeping off night shift, I turned in an article and have the babysitter over while I deep clean the house (taking a break while the kitchen floor dries... and I'm off again to swiffer the stairs!).

Are you the doctor, the doctor-patient, or Hobbes? I think I'm Hobbes. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Know Thyself, Own Thyself

Driving back from the Philadelphia airport, Walk the Moon's song "Shut Up + Dance" came on the radio, which resulted in me grooving in the passenger's seat. I can't help it: I feel music. I love dancing and am convinced I should have trained as a dancer.

Even in the dark, Will is smirking at me.

"What?!?" I demanded, my head still bobbing.

"Every girl I know loves this song." (And by girl, he means any female at the hospital - they listen to music during shifts.)

I give him side eye. It's the Zora Neale Hurston effect, when Zora is at a Blues venue with a friend:
"Good music they have here," he remarks, drumming the table with his fingertips. 
Music. The great blobs of purple and red emotion have not touched him. He has only heard what I felt. He is far away and I see him but dimly across the ocean and the continent that have fallen between us. 
Will laughs at me as I argue that this song is a modern ballad set to indie electronic - the story of seeing into the future, desire and action. Plus, it has amazing beat. (Walk the Moon is a great band from Cincinnati, Ohio!)

"I never said it wasn't a great song. Just own it! Own that you like this song. Who cares that other girls like it."

Own it. Yes. Too often, we add qualifiers or apologize for having interests. Am I alone in this? Why do we always try to deflect even minor criticism?
"Oh, I like that because I am a ____."
"Yeah, I'm such a dork because I like ____."

No one needs peer review to decide what to like. No one needs qualifications for having hobbies. We're allowed to change our mind. We don't need someone else's permission to have a dance party. We shouldn't paint our life neutral colors.

I changed my favorite color the other day. I went to a running store, bought new running shoes and am teaching myself how to run with a honking double jogger stroller. I've been thinking how much I used to love drawing with oil pastels, and when I FINALLY clean my office this summer, I'm buying myself a new set.

Sometimes, we all need to stop overthinking what things mean - ooo-hooo, shut up and dance with me!

Own it! Whatever "it" is. Great things can happen.

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