Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Tonight was the first night for our new babysitter.

In an attempt to simultaneously train for our upcoming triathlons and enjoy some nice Together Time, we hired a college student to come over and watch Brynna a couple nights a week so we can go to the gym.

Eventually, we're planning to have her come a few minutes before B goes to bed, and just hold the fort while B snoozes away. But tonight we asked her to come a bit earlier so she and B could get to know each other.

Brynna certainly does love playing to an audience, and chatted to E at great length. E came upstairs with us for bedtime, and after B carefully selected three books to read and plunked herself down in my lap, we asked her which book E could read.

B looked again at her options—Goodnight Moon, Doggies by Sandra Boynton (A Counting and Barking Book), and Fox in Socks—and pointed straight to Fox in Socks. Is it possible for a not-yet-two-year-old to engage in a hazing ritual?

For those of you not familiar, Fox in Socks is a 50-page tome of Dr. Seuss tongue-twisters. It has taken me months to learn how to read it properly. (I like the tweetle beetles best, for all of you Seuss connoisseurs out there.) Tonight was poor E's first exposure to Fox in Socks, but she dove in gamely, and in fact triumphed. Brynna chuckled along, giggling particularly hard when E got tripped up.

Once we finally got B to bed, Alex and I headed off for the YMCA, only to arrive as they were turning off the lights—they are on their summer schedule now, and my carefully constructed plan of late night swimming and weightlifting is now most decidedly off. Arrgh! So, we walked back home and took Jasper out for a run instead.

B woke up once while we were away and apparently dropped right off again with some back-stroking and a little reassurance. Anyone who can read Fox in Socks is apparently in the Brynna-approved club.

So, I think E is going to work out fine. Though we did provide hazard pay for the Fox In Socks-induced numb tongue.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Or "berries," as some of us call them.

I didn't have to be at work until 10 this morning, so Brynna and I went to pick strawberries together.

She was very excited to discover that one of her favorite foods was available in such large quantities, right there on the ground, ripe for the picking!

Brynna walked very carefully to avoid stepping on the fruit, and she helpfully held the baskets as I dropped berries into them. It was very much like Blueberries For Sal, however, in that I was dropping the berries into the buckets and she was taking them straight out to eat!

We didn't see any bears, though.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Good grief. I passed a milestone in home ownership last weekend, and I'm not too proud of it.

Hi, my name is Alex, and I own a weed whacker.

You see, I don't put much stock in keeping a neat lawn. It is not that I don't appreciate the sight and feel of a nice, lush, trimmed patch of green turf. But, really, I am not prepared to put in the necessary time, effort, money, and crazy materials to make it happen. It's about all I can do to break out the reel mower every now and then. Actually, it doesappear to be more than I can do - because the grass in the front and back yards got a bit tall and went to seed. Once it gets that tall, the reel doesn't cut it so much as just roll it down. The patches of lawn on either side of the front walk, about 10' x 10', also happen to be elevated, so lifting any mower up onto it is a bit of a pain.

So I let it go, and go, until my wife of great patience finally told me that the neighbors were getting afraid, and I needed to do something about it. So, alright, I went out to get a weed whacker. Despising lawn tools that suck down gasoline, I ended up with a nice cordless model. It seems to have enough power to knock down the tall grass. I also used it to clear the spaces between the planter boxes and fence in the back.

Now that we've finally had a bit of rain, I just might need to do a bit more work soon.

Can't I just dump a whole bag of prairie seed on it already and call it done?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Staggering Over The Finish Line

Graduation for our third year residents was last night, and the new interns have been in town for a couple of weeks of orientation. This long, exhausting year of internship is coming to an end.

I have what is affectionately referred to as "terminal call" tomorrow...I'll go in at 8 AM as an intern, and will leave Monday morning as a senior resident! Not sure what time I magically become a second year, but maybe there will be fairy dust and fireworks when it happens.

I've been working on our Maternal-Child Health Service the last 6 weeks, which covers both obstetrics and pediatrics. Things have been busy, particularly on the pediatrics side, so I have been learning a ton.

However, I am also definitely suffering from some intern-itis, and would really rather not go to work tomorrow! I keep reminding myself that it is the last time as an intern, that my schedule is going to get much better, and that I am also set to work with one of my favorite senior residents tomorrow. Best of weekend is a three day weekend, one that I actually get entirely off, and we are going to spend the holiday with friends in Lake Placid.

But boy am I tired. Just really, truly exhausted, from a whole year of working 70 or 80 hours a week. Before I had Brynna, I just wanted to power through residency and get it done...but now, I think I'd be totally willing to split a residency spot with someone else and be home more often, even if it stretched out my training further.

The nice thing about family medicine, however, is that following this intern year of predominantly hospital-based training, things shift more and more into the outpatient clinic. There will be less overnight call, and more opportunities to see my own patients in the office. When I am in the hospital, my role will shift from worker-bee to more supervisor and teacher. All good things.

So, one more call. Then on to second year.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Grandma's Here!

And Brynna put her straight to work. "Wawer plant!"

They had a lovely evening playing in the yard together, and Alex used some of our own basil to make a delicious pasta primavera.

I pretty much just collapsed on the couch...I have this weekend off, and then one more week left of intern year!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

King Pine 2010

Last year's experiences with triathlons were not just a fluke for Hilary and I. We have in fact doubled down this year by purchasing wetsuits and joining the local tri club. More on those in a few minutes. Last weekend was our first race of the season, and a reprise of our first triathlon ever: the King Pine Tri in Madison, NH. It's a great course and we benefited from being familiar with it. We're both really pleased with our results, too: be both managed to be faster than last year. I shaved off about three minutes, and Hilary a solid ten, out of about an hour and a half. Read on for more details:

First off: the swim. Last year Hilary couldn't get into a good rhythm because of the shock of the cold water. This year a combination more experience and confidence and warmer water (68 Fahrenheit vs 62) made the swim much better - she shaved some five minutes off her time. Our main complaint was that, for whatever reason, the race directors sent off waves of swimmers from oldest to youngest. Last year it was reversed: we were the first swimmers to head out. This year we had to stand around for twenty chilly minutes before our start.

For myself, how could I possible top my water exit from last year:

photo credit: Kimberly Keyes

Well, it was easy with my brand new Xterra Vortex 3 wetsuit:

Ok, ok, maybe it didn't quite look like that. It was overcast, but it wasn't the apocalypse. One thing that surely made my exit a little less cool was that, due to a mixup during registration, I was wearing the hot pink swim cap of the 30-39 female division. That's OK, I'm clear with my identity.

On the 12-mile bike segment, Hilary and I both knocked about two minutes off our times. I averaged a shade under 20 mph! However, I only had a rough guess about that at the pace, because I recently replaced the battery in my bike computer, and its calibration was way off. It said that I was managing only about 7 mph. Thankfully, after a few hundred miles in the saddle over the last year, Hilary and I have a decent sense of pace.

One positive that came from being released in the penultimate wave was that we had nearly the whole field of other racers ahead of us, which meant that we had ample opportunity to chase down and pass other competitors. That is not to say that we were total speed demons - we lack the rigor and athleticism to be true hunter-killers. Still, it does help urge you on to see someone and dust 'em!

The first mile of the run is always tough. After pushing hard on the bike for miles and miles your legs need a little coaxing to switch gears. But behold my secret weapon: the banana! I gradually mashed my way through it by mile two, though it took a concerted act of will.

Definitely the highlight of this year's race was the fact that we were a part of a team! Sure, the team has some material benefits - like the 60% off deal I got for my wetsuit, or the training schedules and swim clinics. But, really, the best part was having teammates. Teammates to help push you along, familiar faces out on the course, and people to root for in turn. Plus the team director has a VW van that they set up as party central.

And, of course, we had our devoted teammate Brynna to help us along with cries of "hooway mama!"

And a buddy to stretch out with after the race:

Next up: the Black Fly Tri in mid July for me...Hilary is on call the night before, so she's giving that one a pass. The big question: can we figure out how hard-core triathletes manage to put on their bike shoes while pedaling along...without falling over?

Monday, June 14, 2010

How Civilized...

Look! She can use a fork!

On the other hand, she also rubbed peanut butter in her hair.

Small steps, I suppose.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hide And Seek!

Here's some video of Brynna playing hide and seek in the yard with us. She learned the basic concept from her little friend C down the street, the daughter of one of my co-residents. She understands the seeking part but is still a little shaky on the hiding concept: she will say "B hide!" and run away somewhere, then by the time I finish counting to ten and turn around, she is running full tilt across the yard toward me, giggling madly.

In this clip, however, we're doing "Dada hide":

You'll note Brynna doing some of her creative counting, and her absolutely adorable "where is he?" shrug. And Jasper, as always, trailing along behind. He's always giving away my hiding places.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Brynna's language development has just exploded over the last few months, and it's really fascinating to watch her pick things up. She now mimics virtually everything we say, and is regularly coming up with her own three-word phrases. She says "more milk/granola/crayons/etc. please," "lay down, Mama," "hold on tight!" and so on.

She has discovered that some things go with certain people: "mama bike," "dada car," "B helmet," "B shoes."

And yes, she is now aware that her name is "B" or "Brynna." She also will very sweetly say her last name when asked what her last initial stands for.

She's been counting for awhile, and two or three months ago could count from one to eleven with nary a hitch. Then, suddenly, about six weeks ago, certain numbers disappeared, and we were left with "one-two-three-four-five-eight-ten!" With some prompting, she remembers about six, seven, and nine, but the odds are good that she will bust out with the shortened version.

A similar thing happened with the alphabet: she was singing a fairly good approximation of the ABC's a couple of months ago, and then "W-X-Y-and-Z" disappeared, with Brynna moving straight on to "now I know my ABC's," which was kind of ironic. W, X, Y and Z seem to be back in the game, now, though.

She can also supply large sections of many of her favorite books, especially the Boynton ones. I will try to get some video of this, because it is adorable.

Almost all of her sign language has disappeared...except for lots of commanding pointing! "Milk" was one of the last ones to go, but since a couple of months ago she's been asking for "mama milk" instead of making the sign. She does still sign "fish," which I think she finds difficult to say, and some other animals such as moose, horse, and elephant. Occasionally we see "drink" and "more" and "tired."

This evening she was eating supper and asked for "more nola [granola] please!" When I didn't respond quickly enough, she pointed across the table and said "oh-nie [orange] bowl!" which is the first time that I've heard her substitute a description like that—the granola was indeed in an orange bowl.

So, in sum, she's a riot. We'll try to post some video soon...I think I got a good shot of her playing hide and seek last week.