23 December 2013

Med School Update: Second Didactic Week

Six rotations down, six more to go! We had two of our student friends come to stay with us again. We love having them, and Scott especially loves laughing at their medical jokes and talking sports with them. He was really looking forward to when he could play basketball with his classmates, but he had a foot injury, so he had to avoid the games.

Even though it seems like basketball or football are the main events, the third years were really in town  for didactic week exams.

The night they arrived they each practiced doing patient interviews on each other covering topics in the areas that they rotated through. Then the first two days the students had a review meeting and patient encounters. The third day their was a meeting with the dean and the students took tests on the rotation areas they just completed. The scores from those exams are recorded on the students record and are viewable by residencies. The last two days of didactic week included planning sessions for the upcoming block of rotations. Scott has two internal medicine rotations and psych coming up next block.

We ended the week with our last annual medical school friends ugly sweater party... complete with an opportunity to give stitches to one of the kids. Goodness! Merry Christmas, friends!

20 December 2013

Lame Brain

An example of the typical med school jokes I hear -

On Sunday we had two of Scott's classmates, Devin and Stephen, come stay in our apartment for didactic week. Devin was playing with these two walking anatomy toys that my mom sent to Scott. So glad that these boys are easily entertained...

Devin: *winding up the toys* So you just turn this knob and let them loose?
Me: Yeah, but the brain doesn't walk very well.
Devin: What? Did it have a stroke?

Ba dom, chi! *Students then laugh histerically while wives roll their eyes.

13 December 2013

Booking a Caribbean Cruise

Last month I took a cruise with my husband to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday (yes, we still look like we're 16).

The cruise came after several months of dreaming, researching, and planning. While I thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing vacation, I have learned a few things about planning a Caribbean cruise that I want to remember.

1) Keep in mind when booking a cruise departing from Port Canaveral, FL that there may be additional costs compared to cruising from a port closer to the airport. In order to cruise from Port Canaveral, Scott and I flew into Orlando and had the option of finding unreliable shuttles, reserving a rental car and worrying about on-time flights, or booking a $70 round-trip cruiseline shuttle. I ended up finding two one-way car rentals for less than $70 and luckily our cross-country, winter flight arrived on time.

2) If you book early, most cruiselines or travel agents can match to a lower price if your room rate drops before your cruise. Since we booked the cruise this last spring, we were lucky to get an additional discount on the room before our final payment was due 90 days before the cruise. I love saving money!

3) Speaking of saving money, remember that you will have on-board charges during your cruise including gratuities. Each cruise line will have different suggested gratuities for your housekeeping and dining room staff. Royal Caribbean has a set gratuity amount charged to your room per person, per day ($12). When we booked our cruise, the travel agent gave us $100 shipboard credit as part of our deal. Because I did not pay my gratuities in advance (My Time Dining requires prepayment), the shipboard credit was applied to my gratuities. Don't forget to factor in your on-board charges and excursions when budgeting for your cruise.

4) Book a balcony. The extra space is worth it and qualifies breakfast in bed as an excursion.

5) I would absolutely recommend Royal Caribbean as a cruise line, no matter the location. Our housekeeping and dining room staff were extremely friendly and went out of their way to help us have a great time. I was also impressed with the integrity of staff members. We forgot our iPad in one of the restaurants and they were preparing to return it to us when we finally remembered where we forgot it.

Our ship was very family friendly as well. There were many family activities, including games and shows. Many of the movies shown on the ship were family films. Kids activities included DreamWorks  character visits and parades. The cruise directors did a fantastic job scheduling a variety of activities all throughout the day, especially on sailing days.

6)When choosing our cruise, I looked at what ammenities the ship had and specifically chose a ship that had the FlowRider. I thought my husband would want to try it out. While on board he was too intimidated to try, and there were plenty of other activities on board to keep us busy. We did use the miniature golf course, basketball court, and rock climbing wall. We enjoyed the jacuzzis around the pool deck, but didn't use the swimming pools. The kids play zone on the pool deck looked like a great splash pad for kids on sunny sailing days.

7) We absolutely loved our Eastern Caribbean cruise. We stopped in St. Maartin and St. Thomas, in addition to stopping at Royal Caribbean's private island CoCo Cay. However, if I were to schedule another cruise today I wouldn't schedule based on the ports. Both of the ports we visited required additional transportation once on land in order to see historic landmarks or find a low-key beach. Some shopping was available port-side, but it included mostly vendors that you see at every port (jewelry, t-shirts, Del Sol, etc.). The most memorable parts of our cruise were the excursions or the on-board activities. If you're looking to go somewhere specific, it may be a better use of time to fly directly to that port and stay at a resort.

8) The cruise was extremely comfortable. The weather was warm (70-80 degrees F) each day and the water was surprisingly comfortable, even though it was winter. I forgot when packing for this warmer weather that the cruise ship is kept to cooler temperatures. Next time I'll bring a cardigan to wear around the cabin and dining room.

9) The food onboard was sublime! Correction - dinner was sublime. All of the other meals and buffets were mass quantities of average quality food. In order to take advantage of the best meal of the day, I recommend having a light breakfast and making healthy choices at lunch. Don't feel like you need to finish a dish if you don't enjoy it.

I went onboard with a variety of food intolerances. While I'm sure that wait staff would have been more than happy to accommodate those, I was delighted to find that taking digestive enzymes before every meal allowed me to eat menu items worry and pain free!

Though I'm writing this mostly for my future benefit (very selfish of me), maybe you will get some use from this information as well. Bon Voyage!

11 December 2013

Birthday Cruise

It was the best birthday cruise EVER!

The Freedom of the Seas, our Royal Caribbean cruise ship, went on an Eastern Caribbean route in the middle of November. Ports included Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Martin. It was a seven night tour, with three sailing days and two formal dining nights. I've been on two cruises before this one, but this was Scott's first cruise. It was a first class cruise, and I would definitely book Royal Caribbean again.

Memorable events on our cruise:
Dinner in the main dining room was something I looked forward to every day. Food is such a crucial make-it-or-break-it factor on a cruise, so I was pretty nervous coming on board with several food intolerances. I give all credit for the success of my cruise to Digest Gold digestive enzymes. I took one before every meal and that allowed me to eat what everyone else was eating worry and pain free. LaraBars, my fav downtime snack, are a runner up for making my cruise healthy.

We had fantastic servers in the main dining room. Scott thought that Anthony, our main server, was hilarious. On the second night, Anthony came to take Scott's empty entree plate away and asked if he would like to try any of the other entrees. Scott mentioned that he had thought about one other dish specifically, but he was saving room for dessert.

"Oh," Anthony said. "We don't serve dessert on Day 2, so you might as well order it." Scott readily agreed.

After Scott practically licked his second entree plate clean, Anthony brought out the dessert menu.

Anthony would often bring Scott any of the dishes he mentioned an interest in (three desserts, four crab cakes…) , so Scott had to choose his words wisely.

SeaTrek Underwater Excursion
One of the best decisions we made was to do a shore excursion. We wanted to do something unique and the SeaTrek underwater helmet dive fulfilled that. Even though it was a rainy day, the water in St. Martin was pleasantly warm. We snorkeled with the fish and thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the bottom of the ocean.

My most memorable moment of the entire cruise was having a school of fish eat fish food from my hand. It was like a million tiny suction cups sucking up the pieces on my fingers.  You can't tell in the picture, but I was giggling uncontrolably under that helmet.

Poolside TV

I wouldn't necessarily say this was my most memorably event, but Scott will always remember watching weekend football games on the big screen while sitting in the Jacuzzi.

The whole vacation was perfect, which is more than I could hope for in celebrating my 30th birthday. It was the party of all parties… which Scott now thinks we need to plan for each of my birthdays.


09 December 2013

Snow Days in Oregon

We returned from our warm weather travels just in time for a snow and cold front in Oregon. In our three years in the Willamette Valley, we can only remember one other significant snow in March 2011. The weather this weekend has definitely topped that.

This was the first time that roads were closed due to poor conditions and accidents. This was the first time Western University cancelled classes due to weather in the Willamette Valley. This weekend was the first time that church was cancelled due to poor road conditions. This was the first time that the OSU Foundation has closed, while I've worked there, due to poor weather. That may be the most unusual event of the weekend!

Scott and I enjoyed a nice, safe, lazy weekend inside our warm apartment. We ate soup and warm, homemade applesauce. We studied for exams, and we looked a pictures from our cruise. I'm starting to wonder if I scheduled our cruise a week or two too early.