Chasing birds

Posted August 30th, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy


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Anh’s Knitting

Posted August 30th, 2011 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

For a knitter, this package was unbelievably precious. I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it. Sonya pulled out one thing after another. All handknit from exquisite yarn. Little tops and dresses. Three hats. Two balaclavas.

Even though they can’t comprehend the labor of love behind the creation of such beautiful clothes, Sonya and Leena actually do seem to recognize that they’re special. Thank you, Anh. Thank you, thank you. We’ll make good use of these through the long fall and winter, you can be sure!

Sonya has begun memorizing some of her favorite books, starting with Goodnight Moon. She reads them aloud, pointing to the words she knows.

“Look, Leena,” she’ll say. “Good… night… cow… jumping… moon!”

“Blllllllttth,” Leena will burble in response.

“Leena funny,” Sonya likes to say, whenever she thinks Leena is being silly, which is often. “Liddle shisher.”

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Leena Takes Her First Bite

Posted August 26th, 2011 in foods by Mitsy

Two weeks ago, I left Sonya and Leena in the kitchen to find my iPhone. I’d made pea soup for lunch (very Québécois) and it was cooling in bowls on the table. I came back, answering a text from Drex on the way down our long corridor.

“Hi, Mommy,” Sonya said nonchalantly.

Setting my iPhone on the countertop, I noticed Leena giggling. She burbled some pea soup onto her chin. I didn’t know it was pea soup. I went to wipe her chin before sitting down at the table. Meanwhile, Sonya dipped her spoon in her pea soup bowl.

“Look, Mommy,” Sonya said proudly. She brought the soup up to her lips. “Hot, very hot. Blow it.”

Then she held out the spoon towards Leena. “Here, shisher,” she said. “Like it?” Leena chewed on the end of the spoon. “Leena like it Mommy pea soup.”

So… Leena’s first solid food was a few spoonfuls of pea soup with a drizzle of maple syrup on top (that’s the way we Canadians eat it).

But earlier this week, we “officially” began rice cereal for one meal a day as we approach the six month mark. Leena doesn’t really like the rice cereal, but she does like being fed by big sister.

“Do you like taking care of Leena?” I asked Sonya.

“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “Same Flynn Rider.” Read more about that here.

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Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Posted August 26th, 2011 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

This afternoon, Drex opened a drawer in his office, hoping to find a batch of chocolate chip cookies. The semester at McGill is starting next week, and he has a lot of work to get done on top of his usual research. For instance, he’s still creating the syllabus for his undergraduate class on computers and society.

Tomorrow, Drex is going to open that drawer in his office and find homemade chocolate chip cookies. Brain fuel for the new semester. Maybe a spoonful of sugar will help the syllabus come out.

Sonya has been helping me bake cookies since she was basically born. Lately, she’s become more and more independent about measuring, mixing, and scooping the batter. Yesterday’s batch, Sonya truly made from start to finish with my help, rather than the other way around.

I decided to use a recipe for a thick batter that doesn’t spread much when it gets baked so that it would be easy to scoop and release onto our new fancy cooking sheets. Grandma sent those in the mail! Before now, we’ve seriously been baking cookies in a roasting pan (the same one I used for salmon, meat, and veggies).

Using cookie sheets and parchment paper makes a huge difference! The cookies were probably the best that have ever come out of our oven. Of course, that could also be because Sonya made them.

Our delicious easy-to-measure-mix-and-scoop toddler-friendly chocolate chip cookie recipe {adapted from Picky Palate}:

In one bowl, mix on medium speed until smooth:

2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar

Then add:
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla

In another bowl, sift together:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix the flour mixture into the batter and then stir in 2 cups (16 oz) of chocolate chips. Form dough into 1.5 inch balls and flatten onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes until just golden brown.

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Little Sister’s Dress

Posted August 22nd, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy

At the last knit night, my friend Angela had a surprise for Leena— the iconic Little Sister’s Dress designed by Norwegian Tora Froseth. Remember this green one?

Well, now Leena has a very special one just for her. The colors are just gorgeous: purple and sea foam. Soft, soft yarn.

Textures and tastes are very interesting for Leena these days. She wants to get her little fingers on everything: ridges, satin, wood, grass. If possible, she tries to grab these textures and put them in her mouth, too.

Leena enjoys feeling the ridges at the bottom of her dress and bringing the hem up to her mouth. Good thing wool has two very important properties: it’s naturally antimicrobial and it stays warm even when it gets wet.

Makes this a special, practical outfit. Thank you so much Angela!

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Becoming a Writer

Posted August 21st, 2011 in Uncategorized by Mitsy

In the third grade, I started wearing glasses. Every year, the far-away world got more blurry. Towards the end of high school, when I thought lenses couldn’t possibly get any thicker, my eyes finally settled.

Everything past about two feet in front of my face is out of focus.

I think this is because my eyes actually adapted to the distance I held books, sitting on my bed, propped up by pillows, knees bent, balancing the open pages. Roald Dahl. Judy Blume. Beverly Cleary. Lois Lowry. I was constantly reading. I went through phases of infatuation with different authors. John Steinbeck. Flannery O’Connor. Charles Dickens. Ursula Le Guin. The list goes on and on.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had an urge to recreate the magic I felt when reading my favorite books. To become someone who transports people. Who stirs their souls. Through words.

I love to connect with others. I want to touch and transform people’s lives. I became a doctor. I wrote essays about my experiences in medicine. I got asked to be an editor for a special issue of the American Medical Association’s online ethics journal. But mostly, my training kept me busy, and the grueling schedule of a doctor’s life sapped my energy.

All I wanted to do when I got home from the hospital was watch TV and take long naps. Maybe drink a glass of wine. I didn’t even have the energy to read any books.

Then I became a mother, and I learned how to see myself again and rediscover the passion that had become buried. The need to express my creativity. The compulsion to write.

“There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us— to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.”

— Matthew Arnold

Thank you for taking the time to be here. I write for Kids and Company, one of Canada’s fastest growing businesses. Here are some of my blog posts.

These are some recent articles I wrote (mostly about pediatric health topics) for Livestrong.com and eHow.com.

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Out of the labyrinth

Posted August 19th, 2011 in adventures, inspiration, montreal by Mitsy

Two years ago, just at the onset of my first Canadian winter, when I felt especially lonely, I found a yarn shop tucked between Lionel-Groulx and Place St. Henri. Ariadne Knits — named for the woman who helped Perseus escape from the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

I spent at least one afternoon a week at the store. Just sitting on the sofa, talking, drinking tea, and of course, knitting. The owner Molly Ann always made me feel welcome. Along with my baby. When Sonya started crawling, the buttons were out of reach and the floors were especially clean. When Sonya was weaned, there was a carton of whole milk in the fridge and clean sippy cups next to the sink.

Over time, Molly Ann and I became friends over skeins of yarn, Romantic English literature, 1950s radio mystery broadcasts, and mouthwatering chicken roti.

This past winter, when I was pregnant and Drex had important meetings, Molly Ann ran her store with Sonya while I went to my check-ups or rested on the sofa. Neither of us had any other family around, so we became each other’s family.

Apart from Molly Ann, I’ve met so many incredible people. In fact, most of my friends in Montreal are knitters. As diverse, lively, and interesting as a group of people can be. Twice a month, there were Thursday knit nights. It was a gathering of intimacy. of confession. of discussion. of passionate disagreement. and of incredible support.

This Thursday was the last knit night. The last knit night. For after four years in business, Ariadne is closing. Molly Ann has other dreams for her life, and I respect that she wants to move on. I’m reminded of a quote from John Green’s novel Looking for Alaska:

I’m not going to be one of those people who sits around talking about what they’re gonna do. I’m just going to do it. Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. … You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

In a way, both Molly Ann and I are escaping our labyrinths together. Breaking free of the maze. And going where? Even after the shop closes, we’ll see each other often. I’m certain of that. But I’ll still miss the shop.

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Pigtails!

Posted August 19th, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy

Sonya’s hair is now long enough (finally!) to do in pigtails. She’s just as excited as I am! Now she can wake up, pick out her outfit (here, a bold combination of floral and plaid) and decide on her hair style: pigtails, ponytail in the back, or hair down. Each of these styles can be glitzed with all the clips, bows, and headbands her aunts have been sending her.

Here’s Sonya by the toyroom window, about to climb the radiator onto the sill. She looks like a little girl. Oh my goodness. She is a little girl!

Zen moment: Even as I waited for her to grow, she grew without me noticing. So this is what people mean— “it passes in the blink of an eye.” How many blinks before she goes to school? Before she’s all grown up? How many blinks? How many?

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Put Yourself in a Pop-Up Book

Posted August 17th, 2011 in crafts by Mitsy

For her second birthday, Sonya got a pop-up book of cars from our friend S. When I was her age, I would’ve probably ripped the rearview mirror and headlights off of each vehicle. She’s the type of two-year old who really respects a pop-up book, though.

We came to the page with the safari truck. “Sonya Leena here,” she pointed.  ”Animals Mickey Mouse House.”

Wow. This was really a formative vacation. She remembered our safari ride in the Animal Kingdom.

“Ell-flents… Rhinopceros… Gee-laffs…”

Well, Sonya inspired me to customize the pop-up book. We printed some photos on cardstock paper, cut around our shapes, and taped them into the pop-up cars so that it looked like we were sitting inside.

Sonya and Leena on safari, Mommy and Daddy on a jaunt through the countryside in our vintage ride.

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“Good friends, like good wines”

Posted August 15th, 2011 in inspiration by Mitsy

Real Simple magazine announced its First Ever Simply Stated Blogger Contest. I found out about it on Sunday. The deadline is midnight. That was plenty of time to write 300 words but wasn’t a whole lot of time to come up with something brilliant. I would have liked to give it some more thought, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Anyway, it was a fun exercise. I quickly typed this up last night, went to sleep, proofread it this morning, and sent it off. The prompt was: Who is the person you are most surprised to be friends with?

Jason and I met in fifth grade. We were quickly pushed together by the social forces that sort all misfits to the same lunch table. He played tuba in the marching band, and I was captain of the quiz team. We were rivals in the academic pecking order, and fierce competition turned us into sworn “frenemies.” Whether it was taking a math test or telling a joke, we had to outdo each other.

We knew how to drive each other crazy because we knew each other too well— and we relished testing each other’s limits in a “merry war” like Benedick and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. We gleefully scorned whatever the other one liked.

After graduation, we went to different universities and then continued onto different medical schools in Texas. When I called Jason after we both became doctors, we argued over who had a tougher schedule, who knew more medical trivia, and which primetime doctor show was most absurd. As usual, we couldn’t agree— on anything. Of course, after twenty years of friendship, our game of wits was even more satisfying. It was less of a habit and more of a hobby.

Gradually, we fermented from our childhood into our twenties, and eventually, time mellowed us like a good wine, indeed. Now we can toast each other’s successes and guard each other’s secrets in the cellars of our hearts.

When I married my college sweetheart, Jason was one of our groomsmen. After the backyard ceremony, I prepared myself for a torrent of snide remarks from Jason at the reception— something about the way I walked, or how I looked in my wedding dress— but instead, with a warm smile, he just told me how he couldn’t believe I’d found someone so wonderful to marry me.

Note: I e-mailed this essay for Jason’s approval and got the following response an hour ago: “Hey looks great! I say go for it! Sorry for the late response, I was taking the American Board of Internal Medicine today. Not to try and one-up you or anything —J”

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