Archive for September, 2010

Someone Pushed the Button

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The past week and a half have felt like they’ve gone at a completely accelerated pace.  Someone pushed the button and I don’t really know where the time went, but I do know its been crazy busy!   This is not an unanticipated busy–in fact, it was so planned out that over the summer, I asked my  mom if she would be willing to come and stay with us for this past week….to which she said yes and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that we had an extra set of hands to chase after our now incredibly mobile little man while Lars and I were both somewhat distracted with work and other things. 

The busiest component of the week was due to my work hosting some Pediatricians from Beijing.  Four individuals came over for the first part of the week to look at how the United States treats children with asthma–particularly in low-income communities. Enter, Detroit.  To be honest, I was kind of dreading this week–all the small talk and the the coordinating and getting from point a to point b in the rain.  However, it has actually turned into one of the more rewarding work experiences I’ve had at the School of Public Health.  Not only were the pediatricians just wonderful to work with (and funny!) all of the conversations that they had were so incredibly interesting.  It was great to be able to tag along to see all the clinics that they visited and to be a fly on the wall during their conversations with Public Health workers and Community Doctors.   On Tuesday we actually went into downtown Detroit where, if anyone has been paying attention, the Detroit Public Schools are in full-blown crisis-mode with many schools shutting down and parents removing children from the DPS System.   Detroit is a city that is (and has been) on its knees for quite some time–its heartbreaking seeing the skeletons of these once, assumedly beautiful buildings and all the poverty just oozing from the pores of the city’s existence.   DPS is truly emblemmatic of a city that has no resources and is constantly in a state of crisis. 

One of the chronic diseases that has been rapidly increasing in children of Detroit is asthma–probably due in large part to the environmental conditions of where they live.  The schools are seeing multiple children having to manage this disease and the Henry Ford Health System has started putting health clinics into these schools to help the students manage things like asthma (and other health-related conditions).  Side note:  In Michigan, you can talk about family planning and birth control, but it cannot be dispensed/prescribed in school health clinics.  LAME.

Anyway–along with the visitors from Beijing, we toured two Detroit Public Schools and saw their health clinics as well as the school itself.  At one point, we ended up in a Homecoming Pep Rally.  Wooo!  Intense! 

On Wednesday we were able to visit two clinics closer to Ann Arbor–the UM Allergy Clinic and the Allergy & Asthma Clinic at St. Joe’s.  We had tours from the managing doctors and the Chinese were engaged in discussions of treatment here versus treatment in China.  One of the visitors mentioned to me that he had know idea how advanced the United States was in terms of their medical care–he says there is a HUGE gap between China and the US;  maybe 30 years.  They have different rules in their health care system due to the massive size of the population–but they’re also seeing a sharp increase in asthma and food allergies (which may be due to China rapidly developing).  In any case, it was all very interesting to speak with them and hear how they practice medicine and just to talk in general.  A wonderful group and I will always cherish the time I spent with them.   They kept talking about when I go back to Beijing to visit them they will take me everywhere.  They told me to bring Bjorn.  That would be AWESOME. Bjorn and me in China.  Rock on.  Just gotta keep plugging away at a public health degree and maybe it will happen!

Speaking of, I haven’t mentioned much on here about my edumacation.  This Fall semester I started some Masters level public health courses through the “Foundations in Public Health” program at UMICH SPH.  Its where you take all the core classes for each of the five departments (Health Behavior/Health Education, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Management & Poliy, and Environmental Health Sciences) to get a foundation in public health.  At completion, if you decide you want to pursue a public health degree, all the classes are eligible to go towards your MPH should you get accepted into THAT program.  So–that is where we are right now.  I am taking a core Health Education & Behavior Class learning about theories and models of Health Behavior and I’m also enrolled in the Biostatistics class which is just an introductory class to Biostats and looking at how to interpret, read and analyze data.   I’ll tell you–I thought I would HATE biostats but I”m actually enjoying it quite a lot.  Not enough to pursue it as an area of focus but I really do like being able to manipulate a Normal Curve.  The HEB class is good times, too–its pretty abstract now but we talk about all the models and theories in our discussions and that is a nice way to solidify what we learn.  BONUS–there are like 15 people in each of my classes and one of them happens to be from ENCINITAS living in ANN ARBOR?  Can you believe it?  We are totally hanging out to crunch biostats and reminisce about Rubio’s!  So I am totally having a great time learning again and schooling myself and just doing something for me.  Its been so positive for my emotional well-being to really tackle this–and it goes without saying that Lars has been nothing if not COMPLETELY supportive (I love you, Lars!–did you just vomit?)  and wonderful taking care of Bjorn when I need to do homework or “go to class”.   This past week has really solidified for me how important the field of public health is.  I’m usually in the office working on manuscripts or grants or other back-end administrative rigomorale but it was so intense being in the field and listening to the doctors.  I loved it!  Can’t wait to keep going. 

And the cherry on top of this busy week is that Ginny and her two girls are coming to visit this weekend!  I couldn’t think of a better time-the leaves are changing and it has an autumn crispness in the air.  We have fantastic things like apple-picking and getting hot cider and eating donuts planned.  Also drinking wine.  Also making s’mores in our backyard fireplace!  Also running a 5K because apparently everything else we’re doing involves food.  Bjorn is just in love with older kids, too–so it will be fun for him to flirt with the girls.  Can’t wait!

…umm, Lucky 13 Part Deux? (Two Weeks Later…)

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Well well well–where did I leave off. Oh, yes, we were just cresting over the Eastern Sierras into the magical land of San Francisco!

We had a very fun day playing tourist in San Francisco! Bjorn rode “The Muni” (forgive me if I’m not pronouncing this right, SF people)…we were informed by our friend Paul that “the Muni” kills at least one person a month! Sounds like a menace to society to me. We walked all over Fisherman’s Wharf, had delicious Blue Bottle Coffee, ate at Rubio’s (sweet sweet Rubio’s) and topped the day off with a relaxing and delicious take-out dinner that was most definitely the best Indian food I have ever had.

Marin Headlands Upstaged by Cute Boys

Marin Headlands Upstaged by Cute Boys

We hiked in the Marin Headlands on Wednesday with Paul and the Waldos. Lars carried Bjorn in the pack on the way up and I carried him on the way down. Even though I have written this post over a month after this hike, my back is still recovering. In fact, lately, both Lars and I have been saying we are WAY too young to be complaining about our backs. Ugh–we are in for a long ride. Lunch at In n Out (sweet sweet In N Out)…chillaxing during naptime and then a delicious dinner at the Waldo’s house where Grace was kind enough to show Bjorn how to use a walking toy AND put a duck’s butt on a cow’s body in order to get a nice little song out of the deal. This will only make sense if you’re Kate, I think. It was so great to spend time with our good friends who we wish a million times over were closer than three time zones away. Luckily, SF is not so bad a place to visit so we hope to return at some point in the not so distant future!

Grace + Bjorn

Grace + Bjorn

Sunday morning I was SO excited to see my good friend Nick who I had not seen since my wedding. Even as I type this, I kind of cannot believe that statement is true! He had never met Bjorn and I was so excited to introduce the two of them–plus I was stoked to meet his awfully sweet girlfriend Hannah. He took us to a fantastic brunch place that was super kid friendly and had no wait. Delicious food was served to us AGAIN (huevos rancheros–mmmmmm) and we were able to leisurely catch up on things like fudge and hiking Mt. Whitney. It was perfect.

Hannah, Nick and Bjorn on the Wild Streets of San Francisco.  The Muni could strike at any moment!

Hannah, Nick and Bjorn on the Wild Streets of San Francisco. The Muni could strike at any moment!

After a quick sojourn to the playground so we could get out cutie patootie Grace-Fix before heading home, we packed em up and moved em out deciding to take the straightest route possible home leaving SF at 4pm and getting into San Diego at around 1am. Here is the good thing about staying with grandparents when you have an infant–when you have just been in the car for 8+ hours and you want to sleep in a little–they will take the little guy while you get some extra zzzzzs.

X-Treme Peak-A-Boo

X-Treme Peak-A-Boo

 

Merry Go Rounds are Serious Business

Merry Go Rounds are Serious Business

Cruisin' in Style

Cruisin' in Style

The rest of our trip was a cornucopia of friends and family. Coffee at the Pannikin (LOVE!) with Dana (MORE LOVE!)….bbq with family and Greg & Chris–the officiant and unofficial photographer for all things our wedding…more eating at Rubio’s and lots of nice long runs around my neighbhorhood. It was perfect. By the end of our LONG stay in California we were pretty ready to go home and be back into a routine but it was nonetheless, horribly hard to leave. It is still hard for me to view Ann Arbor as my home; Encinitas will always feel like where I belong long term. Perhaps this is something I need to “get over” but if you knew Encinitas like I did–you wouldn’t want to give up the dream.

Beach Boy

Beach Boy

Trekking to Lake Michigan

Monday, September 13th, 2010

This entire long hot summer, our family NEVER made it out to Lake Michigan despite the record high water temps and ridiculously stifling days that would make a trip to the lake seem oh-so appealling. Well, that was all to change Labor Day Weekend. Lars took Friday off and I managed to work a different shift so we could trek “out west” and have a nice beach day.

This is the type of beach weather that greeted us:

A relaxing day at the beach

A relaxing day at the beach

It did give me a nice nostalgic feeling for home.  We saw tons of surfers (yes, surfer!) running out along the pier and jumping into the giant waves of Lake Michigan as a wind storm barreled through.  We made a fun trip to Saugatuck, home to my favorite beach not on an ocean.  The sand, unfortunately, was blowing so hard and Bjorn, bless his little heart, somehow hasn’t figured out he needs to close his eyes when there is sand blowing at your face.   Regardless of the weather, we had a great time traveling to various small towns along the West Coast of Michigan.  We ended our day in Grand Haven.  Bjorn slept the entire ride home and also the entire night-and that, my friends, is the cherry on top of a great day.