Tag Archives: Family

Match Day

March 20, 2015


Today is Match Day, the day fourth year medical students across the country are paired to a residency program in their speciality during a weird ceremony designed to give you a fart attack.

For most of you, this information is strange and slightly boring. But for my little family and community, it’s a big day. A day that decides what the next six years of life looks like.

If you are new here, my spousal unit Austin is in his fourth year of med school, intending to graduate in May. I have conveniently put our timeline into an easy to read list in The End Of Medical School following an equally gripping post on Marrying A Student.

Match Day is confusing. No matter how many times I explain it, our parents still ask us over and over what is going on and is he a doctor yet. If only, parents. If only.

Here’s how it works. First you go to medical school! Actually first you sit at a your desk job doing graphic design until you’re 27 and realize you are in the wrong career. Then you apply to medical school (hard), get accepted to medical school (harder), and work hard to pass each year (hardest). Then in your fourth year of school, you interview on a residency tour before submitting a list of programs ranked by preference while the programs do the same about those they’ve interviewed. Finally a computer takes this information and spits out where you’ll work and live for 3-6 years, depending on your speciality. This is your “match.”

Bored yet?

It would be nice if someone simply called after your interviews and told you if and where you’ve gotten a job. You know, like normal people. Instead the medical community has made up a bizarre ceremony called “Match Day” where nervous med students read their destiny in a dimly lit room while the local news hovers (really) and spouses cry happy or sad tears. Kind of like the hunger games, except nobody dies (except our spirits).

Last year’s match day at Penn State, a visual aid:


We arrive today at 10am and open the letters at noon.

Some things are certain. On Monday Austin got an email letting him know he did, indeed, match to a program, as some students “scramble” into leftover programs or don’t match at all (nervous poo). This was great news and means we know for sure we’ll be headed to one of four locations on our rank list:

Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Boston, Massachusetts.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Portland, Maine.

Staying in Hershey is our first choice. Not only is it located only 45 minutes from our dream destination, it’s close to New York, D.C., and most importantly–community. A community helping us raise our babies and grow into adult skin. For all its quirks and strange habits, small town living suits our stage of life right now and, for a long list of reasons, makes it easier to parent while also pursuing our dreams.

Of course the other three spots would be great, too. Giant, life-changing pros and cons to each place.

Austin graduates in May and then begins the six year journey to becoming an interventional radiologist this June in a location to be determined in just a few short hours. Pass the Pepto.

Four very different futures at our feet.

Hershey, Philly, Boston, or Portland, here we come.

Onward and upward.


Results will be posted on FB & Instagram following the match!

Residency Tour 2014 (Hunger Games Pre-Show)

December 8, 2014


We are leaving today for seven days which means everything we own has been crammed into Target bags and placed in the back of the van where I will not find it. Some things remain up front; snacks to be crumbled, toys to be thrown, a stray phone charger, and a book I will never, ever read.

The trip is part of what I’m calling Residency Tour 2014!, like a Leslie Knope wannabe. Unfortunately there are no binders or Rob Lowes. The tour schedule consists of places like Baltimore (MD), Allentown (PA), Danville (PA), Harrisburg (PA), Hershey (PA), Boston (MA), Portland (ME), Wilmington (DE), Albany (NY), Monmouth (NJ), and a hundred trips to the city of cheesesteaks–Philadelphia.

If you are new here, Austin is in his fourth year of med school interviewing for residency programs. I have conveniently put our timeline into an easy to read list in The End Of Medical School following an equally gripping post on Marrying A Student.

Today he interviews at Hershey, tonight we leave for cheesesteaks, and Thursday morning we head north to Boston and Portland to pretend we aren’t freezing.

For a long time I convinced myself that this trip would be a vacation and we would really enjoy ourselves as a family. But I’ve since lowered my expectations and am just hoping no one puts their hand through a wall. I love to travel, but as we all know, traveling with kids is simply parenting in a different location. Thank you Jesus for borrowed iPads.

After we return home next week, the interviews continue through January. Then we submit a list of programs ranked by preference while the residency programs do the same about those they’ve interviewed. Then a computer takes this information and spits out where we will live for six years to be read in front of peers and the local news. Kind of like the hunger games, but boring and nobody dies (except our spirits). #drama

This is all a big, long post to say: we’ll be gone for a bit and I’ll be blogging via Instagram with a few pre-scheduled posts here around Evie’s first birthday.

Pray for our fragile, delicate nerves as we embark on a weeklong trip up the coast with a three and almost one-year-old who is going through a “car seat stage.” If anyone knows a place in Boston or Portland to day drink, let me know because 18+ hours in the car with two toddlers is not for the faint of heart (I am faint of heart).

Here we go.


When We Say Thank You

November 26, 2014

When We Say Thank You

Edited from the archives

Thank you for first snows. For a little boy who asks, “Should we sing, Mommy? Should we sing about the snow?”

Thank you for his face. His gummy smiles and belly laughs. Thank you for his gentleness. His arms around my neck and whispered, “I love you.” Thank you for his strong will. For a voice loud enough to scream and cry. For healthy limbs strong enough to throw all the blocks on the floor.

Thank you for deep breaths. For redos and new days and I’m sorrys.

Thank you for stretch marks. These long and weary battle scars. For a body able to grow a life, a whole human baby made up of wild hair and bright, blue eyes. Thank you for her sweet breath and open-mouthed kiss. For her loud and independent spirit.

Thank you for family. For parents who drive long drives to play with their grandbabies and sisters who don’t care if your house is messy and come over to paint your nails.

Thank you for friends. For the ones you cry with, roll your eyes with. For the ones you say all the saddest, darkest things with. Thank you for the ones who help clean up. Who watch all the bad TV. Who patiently explain what a brine is.

Thank you for the guy who comes home every night and holds his babies. Who crawls on the floor despite long days and tired eyes and builds a tall tower. Thank you for his love. For making him into a man who folds his own laundry and carries everyone to bed.

Thank you for turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes. For Steve Carell and The Family Stone. Thank you for Christmas hymns and summer smells. For all the little things in between the big things that really matter.

Thank you for our tiredness. For giving us a life so rich that we cannot help but collapse at the end of the day.

Thank you for guarding us from the darkest demons.


We use the word blessed a lot these days, as if God flew down from heaven and gave us our Chevron sweaters and drive-thru Paneras because we did something right. As if it means those who don’t have new cars or Pinterest kitchens are less loved or less chosen by God.

And so I whisper quiet thank yous up into the sky, hoping not to jinx such a blessed and happy life.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



An Important Life

November 19, 2014


We blinked and here we are again, entering the season of love and loss, joy and sorrow. The tender and bright life of The Holidays. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years. All those big, pink hams. It is so wonderful and terrible. Giant spectacles made up of tiny, meaningful things.

So we take deep breaths. Sip our ciders with resounding joy and delicate nerves. There is so much we are supposed to feel.

We pause to put on our winter skin.


We buried my grandfather on Sunday. His death was unexpected and hard. We grieved and cried and said goodbye to a good man who was a bright light in this world.

It is in these moments we realize we are not forever. That the life we are living now is the only life we are ever going to live.

It is always so startling.

I have been so many different versions of myself, it can be hard to keep track of who I am now. Am I living a life I would choose? Is there something I should change? Will I always eat cold leftovers in front of the open refrigerator door?

Whoever we choose to be, it is easy to feel insignificant. We live our lives through screens and filters, projections of ourselves molded by shaky vanity. Lined up side by side, our Instagrammed faces never look as good as the mirror.

Of course we try to stay honest, but it is hard not to curate a version of ourselves fit for Christmas parties and social media. As hard as we try to be real velveteen rabbits with messy floors and messier heads, we still sometimes slip into the lie that our lives are not exceptional unless they seem exceptional to everyone else.


A few weeks ago I took the kids by myself to vote. We were the youngest ones there by a hundred years. As we were leaving, a kind older lady grabbed my arm and said, “Look at these babies. These are the best years. You are living such an important life.”

May we remember this under the twinkle lights and beside the big parades. We have so much truth inside of us. Giant spectacles made up of tiny, meaningful things.

A season of hope.


IMG_9185David L. Baker

When We Stop Pretending

August 14, 2014


My first memory is my sister. She was born in the cold of January. I don’t remember her face or how she cried or the softness of her baby skin. I only remember a shift in space, the family changing. A doll come to life.

We grew up in the same room, with the same toys, without any other siblings or neighbors to be extras in our world of Barbies and imaginary boats with frisbee wheels. We had our fights; battles over the front seat or the bathroom or Who Said What. But mostly it was very equal, very amicable, very You Get This and I Get That and I’ll let you know if I hear the garage door so you can turn off Blossom.

But in school we pretended. We pretended to be the kind of sisters who fought because it was more interesting. Even when we were in college together, we nodded along to the sitcom stereotype.

“I bet you girls fought allll the time!” a drunk soccer player would exclaim. Oh yes, we conceded dramatically. She was a real nightmare.

It’s funny who we pretend to be.

I will never forget walking through a street fair in Pittsburgh a few years ago with my friend Carrie and spotting a clown. Immediately I recoiled, shrieking like a scared toddler. “Oh my gosh a clown,” I gasped dramatically. “They really freak me out.”

Carrie didn’t miss a beat. “You should really find something more original to be afraid of.”

It was the first time I realized pretending to be interesting is actually really uninteresting.

There is a shift that happens in our 20s and 30s when we start the lifelong process of being true to ourselves. When we stop pretending to be someone other than who we are.

It’s laughable the things I’ve pretended to fear, to love, to do. It took me years to admit I hate camping. One day I was sitting around with friends discussing our various camping experiences; tents, bears, rivers, overlooks, fires that wouldn’t start….and it just came out. I feel claustrophobic in tents! I get blisters just looking at my hiking shoes! Mosquitoes are my nemesis! I don’t even like Northface!

Of course figuring out you hate camping is only possible if you actually try camping. There is no merit in declaring our pleasures and aversions in absolute terms. There is merit, however, in letting our nerd and jock and I-actually-like-staying-home-on-Friday-night flags fly if only for the relief. The relief of settling into ourselves, of being original, of sitting at home pinning egg salad recipes in the dark while everyone else is out making small talk in a loud pub.

Age has its grievances. Growing into ourselves is not one of them.

May we stop pretending. May we camp and not camp and love our sisters in the most genuine, interesting way.

May we face ourselves.