Sunday, September 12, 2021

911

Eighteen months and counting... my brain feels tired. Kids are now back in school and the physical juggling begins. Many thoughts have flickered through my mind lately, but I've not had the energy to catch them, sort them and jot them down.

So although a day late... I do want to record and remember... and since my head is having trouble forming sentences, these are some words that come to mind when I recall that day...

disbelief

shock

sadness

bravery

resilience

hope

Actually... former President George W. Bush's speech at the Flight 93 Memorial Service really moved me. CNN has the transcript and I'll repost it here but if you want to watch it, click here:

====

Thank you very much. Laura and I are honored to be with you. Madam Vice President, Vice President Cheney. Governor Wolf, Secretary Haaland, and distinguished guests:

Twenty years ago, we all found -- in different ways, in different places, but all at the same moment -- that our lives would be changed forever. The world was loud with carnage and sirens, and then quiet with missing voices that would never be heard again. These lives remain precious to our country, and infinitely precious to many of you. Today we remember your loss, we share your sorrow, and we honor the men and women you have loved so long and so well.
For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced. There was horror at the scale -- there was horror at the scale of destruction, and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity -- audacity of evil -- and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. In the sacrifice of the first responders, in the mutual aid of strangers, in the solidarity of grief and grace, the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people. And we were proud of our wounded nation.
    In these memories, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 must always have an honored place. Here the intended targets became the instruments of rescue. And many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displayed in the skies above this field.
      It would be a mistake to idealize the experience of those terrible events. All that many people could initially see was the brute randomness of death. All that many could feel was unearned suffering. All that many could hear was God's terrible silence. There are many who still struggle with a lonely pain that cuts deep within.
        In those fateful hours, we learned other lessons as well. We saw that Americans were vulnerable, but not fragile -- that they possess a core of strength that survives the worst that life can bring. We learned that bravery is more common than we imagined, emerging with sudden splendor in the face of death. We vividly felt how every hour with our loved ones was a temporary and holy gift. And we found that even the longest days end.
        Many of us have tried to make spiritual sense of these events. There is no simple explanation for the mix of providence and human will that sets the direction of our lives. But comfort can come from a different sort of knowledge. After wandering long and lost in the dark, many have found they were actually walking, step by step, toward grace.
          Watch George W. Bush's full 9/11 20th anniversary memorial speech 09:07
          As a nation, our adjustments have been profound. Many Americans struggled to understand why an enemy would hate us with such zeal. The security measures incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability. And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.
          After 9/11, millions of brave Americans stepped forward and volunteered to serve in the Armed Forces. The military measures taken over the last 20 years to pursue dangers at their source have led to debate. But one thing is certain: We owe an assurance to all who have fought our nation's most recent battles. Let me speak directly to veterans and people in uniform: The cause you pursued at the call of duty is the noblest America has to offer. You have shielded your fellow citizens from danger. You have defended the beliefs of your country and advanced the rights of the downtrodden. You have been the face of hope and mercy in dark places. You have been a force for good in the world. Nothing that has followed -- nothing -- can tarnish your honor or diminish your accomplishments. To you, and to the honored dead, our country is forever grateful.
          In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people. When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own. A malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.
          I come without explanations or solutions. I can only tell you what I have seen.
          On America's day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor's hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.
          At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know.
          At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know.
          At a time when some viewed the rising generation as individualistic and decadent, I saw young people embrace an ethic of service and rise to selfless action. That is the nation I know.
          This is not mere nostalgia; it is the truest version of ourselves. It is what we have been -- and what we can be again.
          Twenty years ago, terrorists chose a random group of Americans, on a routine flight, to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. The 33 passengers and 7 crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for us all.
          The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil.
            These Americans were brave, strong, and united in ways that shocked the terrorists -- but should not surprise any of us. This is the nation we know. And whenever we need hope and inspiration, we can look to the skies and remember.
            God bless.

             


            Monday, July 5, 2021

            Delta Variant

            It's summer! Hope everyone had a good 4th of July. Things are beginning to feel a little more "normal". The mask mandate has lifted and there seem to be more social gatherings. 

            So to answer a few common questions I've been asked lately... 

            What is the delta variant that everyone is talking about? 
            It is also known as lineage B.1.617.2. It is a version of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 that has evolved or mutated over time. This particular variant was first detected in India December 2020 and in the US March 2021. 

            What is the big deal about it? 
            This variant is more contagious than other variants. It potentially can cause another Covid surge in the US. 

            Does the vaccine protect against it? 
            Yes.  

            Which states have the variant? 
            There are 5 states where it is spreading the fastest: Missouri, Arkansas, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah. 

            Is Covid over yet? 
            The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the US are relatively low right now but there are some hot spots where vaccination rates are low. So... not quite over yet... we'll have to see what happens...




            Monday, May 10, 2021

            Being a Mom

            This is a day late but... Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. I want to give a special shout-out to my mom (who I still call "mommy"). Words cannot describe the deep gratitude and love I feel... no list would do justice to all the things that I'm thankful for.


            Below is a picture of the cover of a scrapbook that my kids have been drawing in since 2014 (thanks I believe to my sister who gave the idea to my husband)... on top is my gift this year... has each of the kids' names engraved on one of those rings. I received something similar in the past but unfortunately lost some of the little trinkets... so this is great. It reminds me what a blessing and privilege God's given me to help guide these little hearts... but not so little anymore... So every day I pray for wisdom and grace. I am humbled all the time at how far I fall short... at the same time, I am reminded to not measure with my own standards... 


            To be honest, being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever had to do... SATs, MCATs, residency, boards...q3 call in the ICU... they do not even come close! Though challenging... and may sound cliche, I would not trade it for the world and am truly grateful for this honor to be called "mom"...

            So as a side note, I find it fascinating that the word "mama" (meaning mother) is so similar in many different languages. For example, in Chinese, you would say "ma" or "mama" when you address your mother. It is pretty much the same in Taiwanese except the tonation is slightly different. In Korean, you'd say "o-ma"...


            What do you all call your moms? Mother? Mom? Ma?  Who else out there calls her, "mommy" like I do? 😅

            Wednesday, April 21, 2021

            Covid Vaccine Common Questions

            Happy Spring! Sure has been a while... but I've been getting a lot of questions about the Covid19 vaccine lately, so I will try to put together some basic information. Please refer to the cdc website for more details.

            First, here is a table summarizing the three vaccines that have been available in the US:


            What are the possible side effects?
            In the arm where you got the shot...
            • pain
            • redness
            • swelling
            Throughout the rest of your body...
            • tiredness
            • headache
            • muscle aches
            • fever/chills
            • nausea
            Can you get Covid from the Covid vaccine?
            No. There is no live virus in the vaccines. The symptoms you get is your body getting antibodies ready to attack a simulation so that when the real deal comes, it can conquer it. That's the whole point. The symptoms are usually mild to moderate and will go away in 48 hours.

            What about the J&J vaccine and blood clots?
            So on April 13, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of the J&J vaccine. There were 6 reported cases of developing a rare and severe blood clot after getting the vaccine. 6.8 million people have already been vaccinated with the J&J vaccine, so 6 out of 6.8 million is extremely rare. Experts are still investigating the cause of the blood clots and there may be underlying conditions that predisposed those folks who developed that reaction. A second meeting about all this is scheduled for April 23, so stay tuned... 

            Contact your physician if between days 6 and 13 post-vaccination you develop:
            • headaches
            • leg pain
            • abdominal pain 
            • shortness of breath
            Is it still recommended to get a Covid19 vaccine?
            Yes. You can review your personal case with your doctor, but in general, the benefits of protection from Covid19 with these vaccines outweigh any potential side effects that may occur.

            What about the timing of getting the vaccine?
            So here are a few scenarios where one should wait...
            • If test positive for Covid, you should wait until all symptoms resolve and meet the criteria for discontinuing isolation. 
            • If treated with convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibodies for Covid, then you need to wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.
            • If you got any other vaccines recently, then you should wait 2 weeks before getting the Covid vaccine
            What are the benefits of the vaccine?
            • Helps prevent severe infection from Covid19
            • Helps prevent hospitalization from Covid19
            • Helps prevent death from Covid19
            • Helps prevent the spread of Covid19 in asymptomatic people
            The bottom line is that vaccines are key to stopping pandemics.

            How can we get back to "normal life" sooner?
            • get vaccinated (as long as not contraindicated)
            • wear masks (though vaccinated folks can now potentially unmask indoors with other vaccinated folks)
            • social distance with those who don't live with you (6 ft apart and avoid crowds)
            • wash hands (should always be doing this anyway)
            For more specific questions and details, you can check out the cdc website above or discuss with your physician.

            So on another note... my family just came back from a little getaway up to the Finger Lakes. My husband and I had visited this area the second year after we got married. Funny, how traveling with four kids changes the ambiance of the trip!

            from 2003...

            quiet, serene, relaxed... gentle ripples of a lake...

            now in 2021

            not so quiet, energetic, adventurous... rushing rapids of a waterfall...

            Thursday, January 28, 2021

            My Google Classroom

            So I had a total lightbulb moment last week and I'm so excited about it that I have to share! Honestly, it has been really frustrating for me to not be able to stay organized and on top of all the things that my four kids are doing... whether it be school, music, sports, household stuff etc! I've tried printing out excel sheets... I've tried a huge dry erase board sectioned off for each of the four kids.... I've tried putting everything in google calendar and using notifications. I tried setting reminders on Alexa. None of it worked super well or lasted long... but I think I found a solution!

            For a while now, my kids have been doing this virtual school thing and they have become very familiar with google classroom. A couple of months into distance learning last spring, my oldest created her own google classroom for her siblings and cousins. Not long after that, my youngest also started his own google classroom. I really did not pay much attention to any of this but would hear about it from my sister from time to time about how my seven year old was giving tests etc. We just thought it was cute and funny. Then just last week, it dawned on me... I can create a google classroom!  Those who know me know I love excel files and lists... well, this google classroom thing is a total game-changer for how I'm managing this household!


            These are some of the ways I've been using my classroom...

            • Linking a daily devotional for them to read, reflect, and respond... the classroom allows group comments so all can share or private comments to me where I can respond back. This really has been awesome!  It was too hard before to do devotions every night with each child separately but now they can read it in their time, respond to me and I can write a thoughtful response back.
            • Putting in daily tasks for them to "mark done" instead of feeling like a broken record asking them over and over again and then forgetting what their answer was after I asked them... so things like putting away laundry, getting outside for exercise, twenty minutes of reading, etc.
            • Attaching links to websites tailored to each kid from their different extracurricular activities (like chess.com or MIT scratch)
            • Attaching a link to the Compassion children we sponsor. Now my kids can read and learn more about them as well as make google docs and submit them back to me so I can send it out. I was the one doing all the correspondence before
            • Attaching links to each others school projects etc. so they can see each other's creative works. Since school turned hybrid this fall, my kids have had plenty of projects that involve using a flipgrid to tape STEM projects they've built or video editing project reports for social studies. In the past, I'd open up my laptop and play the videos for everyone while they were all eating but it would be sporadic and often interrupted... now they can watch when they have a moment and even comment something encouraging to one another
            There is more but I will not list them all. Just one more thing...
            These are pictures taken from my kid's bathroom this morning when I walked in there.
            this so bothers me...

            is this so hard to do?  took me 5 seconds...

            So this is what I posted today:
            Just saying...

            So that is my exciting news.  Oh... AND I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine!

            Monday, January 4, 2021

            Good Bye 2020 and Hello 2021! Hope with the Covid Vaccine...

            So 2020 is now behind us... may 2021 be a better year.

            Despite the challenges and many difficulties and disappointments that may come to mind when I think of the past year, I have to say that the blessing for me was time to just "be still".  I have the first part of Psalm 46:10 on my bathroom wall:

            "Be still and know that I am God"

            This past year, I really was forced to be still... at least physically still. I'm still working on how to be mentally still. Here are a few images that come to mind when I reflect back...


            puzzles... and more puzzles...

            virtual playdates...

            kids learned to cook...

            drive-by celebrations...

            My family also had a chance to make some music together. Here are a few clips for your entertainment...








            So what images will 2021 bring? Hoping with the Covid vaccine, we will be able to return to more in-person gatherings sooner than later. So my thoughts on the vaccine?  Without going into too many details about the how and why... I'll answer three main questions here that I am getting asked a lot.

            Do I think the vaccine is safe to get? Yes

            Do I plan to get the vaccine?  Yes

            Do I recommend my family and patients to get the vaccine if they have no contraindications? Yes

            Happy New Year, everyone!