Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oh, but it's wonderful.

Where there's the flower
there's the sun and the rain
Oh, but it's wonderful
they're both one and the same

~ Frankie Beverly and Maze

On this night he was missing his Auntie Deanna something ferocious. That usually quiescent grief rose up mightily and gnashed at his little soul. First, it was just his lip quivering ever-so-slightly while working math problems at the kitchen table. That's when it always happens. Over homework. Homework makes him miss her the most. So his mouth trembled. . . then, he just let it go. Those flood gates opened and out came the longing.

I tried with words at first but they fell on the floor in awkward splats. "I know she's in my heart," he said, "but that's not enough for me right now." And that was that. It wasn't.

And so. I just pulled him close and held him. Kissed his curls while he cried and cried. Eventually, he just asked to go to bed, which is what he always does on the nights that he grieves like this.

The next morning, I found him fast asleep. . . curled into the tiniest of balls and clutching this with both arms as if his life depended upon its safekeeping.

Even though that sight sucked the wind from my chest and nearly dropped me to my knees, it gave me a little lift, too. How precious is it that he remembers her with such tenacity! Oh, what a gift to not only him but to me! I love how he loves her. I do. His tears that day were as raw as they were in 2012. They were.

"Some piece of me always wants to miss her," I told Isaiah, "the pain reminds me of our love."

"She always said I was a special boy. And very smart." And he wept some more.

"Do you believe that?"

He nodded. "Because she helped me know that. And I still think about her every day. Every, every, every day." And the innocence of his words and the sincerity nestled inside of them made me both happy and sad because I knew they were true.


Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain. And you know? That's alright with me. It is.


Happy Wednesday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .

Saturday, December 13, 2014

To care, perchance to love.

I met a man in the hospital the other day and fell in love with him. Well. Not "in love" in the eros sense with, like, flying cupids and romantic butterflies. But love nonetheless. It was immediate, too. Kind of like the way people describe meeting someone and falling in love at first sight.

With him, it wasn't so much me laying eyes on him that made me fall in love. It was his throaty laugh and gentlemanly mannerisms. It was in the conversation I heard him having on the phone with his daughter, massaging down her worry the best he could with brave jokes and soft chuckles. I could tell that allaying his family's fears was more important than tackling his own.

I loved the way he said "Miss Kimberly" before every question and how, no matter what I said, he would nod and thank me. He knew that I was a doctor. Somewhere in our interactions, though, perhaps that felt too formal. Maybe not. But whatever the reason, not only did I not mind him calling me "Miss Kimberly," I actually welcomed it. I did.

His admission was for the thing you don't want people to come in reporting--unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite. Vague abdominal pain and "maybe some kind of knot" in his abdomen. It was bad from the start. Sunken in temples and skin outlining high cheekbones that jutted out prominently since they didn't have to compete with subcutaneous fat. All it took was one look and I knew. This was bad.

But even worse was the story behind the diagnosis. One of those things that, had he been in a doctor's care, quite possibly could have and would have been caught. Or maybe even prevented altogether. Maybe. Like really and truly maybe.

So loving him made this harder. We made the diagnosis and called the necessary parties in to talk about the treatment. At this point, there wasn't a whole, whole lot in the way of "treatment" although there would be palliative things to offer. And he was stoic, that man. Tough as nails and with the courage of ten lions. He looked me in my eye and said, "Okay. I'm okay and I will handle this fine." And he wasn't saying it because that was what you're supposed to say either. He said it because his insight was excellent and he'd been around living his life as a patriarch long enough to know that sometimes you just have to take what's been handed to you and, well, handle it. Which was what, I think, he'd made up his mind to do.

But I loved him. Really, I did. Even though I took care of him for less than three and a half days, I loved him. Loved him enough to be mad that it was too late for anything short of a miracle and madder that I hadn't met him sooner.

In front of my team I was regular sad. Like, "Man, I hate this" sad but not really much more. But in the safety of a conversation with my very dear friend and Grady doctor, Lesley M., I grieved.  And no, I'm not being dramatic by saying "grieved" either. I wept into the phone and told her how very, very sad I was about this man that I now loved and how badly I wished she or I had met him ten years ago. Met him and ran his labs and said, "You know? Let me check this" and then discovered all of this earlier. But I've been living and doing this long enough to know that a lot of times the reciprocating circuit of "if I coulda woulda shoulda" is as futile as a dog chasing his tail.

But still. I loved him. And today I'm sad because this is going to silence his beautiful, smokey laugh and quiet his glistening eyes. Short of a miracle, it will.

I allow myself love patients--and people--in this way. I do. It leaves me raw and vulnerable, yes, but still. I would much rather feel it than not care. If meeting that man and telling him such bad news ever became "business as usual" for me, that would make me far more sad. Far, far more sad.

My friend Shanta always speaks of the privilege of stepping into human lives and caring for them as their physician. I hear her voice and savor that idea. It is indeed a privilege and an honor. To care, perchance to love. Even if sometimes, it hurts when we do.


Happy Saturday. Gotta go round now.

Friday, December 12, 2014

I remember.

Dear You,

I remember. I know that you are feeling sad today and missing your boy. I know that you will be sad on December 20 which was the day he was born. Remembering must be active. It must. And so no matter how busy I am, I pause. And I remember.

Holding your hand and remembering. I think remembering is an act of love. I do. I hope you do, too.



Reposting these two posts and thinking of you. So much love. That's all.

Smelling the roses

Slip sliding away

Happy Friday again. Who needs you to remember? Reach out to them. Give them a space to let their love be a verb and not suffocated by awkwardness, apologies or fear. Especially this time of year, okay?

Three Ordinary Miracles this week at Grady.

"And expect miracles, sugar. Everyday, okay?"

~ a Grady elder

I love working at Grady Hospital. Moments like these underscore why.


Expect miracles

"Will y'all be able to give me some medication before I go?" my patient asked.

"I think so, "I replied. She was talking about a program offered by our pharmacy that assists patients with either a seven or thirty day supply of their medications upon discharge from the hospital. "Do you have a plan for getting them after that, though?"

She dropped her head and gave this lopsided shrug. "Nope."

Nope? Ugggh.

The problems that landed her here were all because she hadn't been taking her medication. This was the wrong answer.

"We've got to figure out a way to get you to be able to get and take these meds."

"I'm on a fixed income There's nothing I can do about that."

And you know what? It was true. She had no family that could step in or other forms of income. She was a little too young for medicare but not really equipped to do the kind of hard work that she used to do. It was terrible.

And so. My intern and I sat in chairs in her room brainstorming ways to help her make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Or rather savvy ways to afford prescriptions that she'd need each month to stay alive. And what sucks is that no matter how many permutations of a game plan we made, it still involved her needing $17. Which regrettably she just didn't have.

And yeah. In these moments, I am tempted to just go into my pocket and pull out the money to place into her hand. Tell her "I've got it. Don't even worry about it--and then keep it moving. But really, I can't do that for reasons more than just how endless that cycle would be.


But then something happened. I heard this muffled sound from the other side of the curtain in that hospital room. As it got louder, I realized that the person in the next bed was crying. I leaned around toward the other bed to put my eyes on the patient. I mouthed to her, "You okay?"

The patient, a sixty-something year-old woman with salt and pepper hair, just nodded her head while wiping her cheeks with the heel of her hand. She sucked in a big breath of air and exhaled with a shivering weep. "Lord Jesus." That's all she said and then erupted into even more tears.

I wasn't sure what to do since I was with another patient. My resident was still talking to our patient in the other bed about her medications. I looked around for a nurse and tried to decide how involved I wanted to get. But before I could do anything more, she spoke, "I know you ain't s'posed to be in another patient's business and that y'all got rules on all of that. But you know? I'm just sitting here thinking about what I do with 17 dollars each week and how much it's hurting my heart to know that somebody is in a life or death situation over less than twenty dollars." She shook her head and started crying again. "God been so good to me. I got to be obedient. I just. . ." It was too much. Her hands came to her face and she slowly shook her head again.

The whole room fell silent. Our patient could hear this and immediately her own tears started flowing. "God bless you, ma'am. Jest for caring." My patient spoke those words out into the air since the curtain separated them from seeing one another.

By this point the neighbor had gone into her purse and pulled out a card. On the back she wrote a name and then handed it to me. "Give this to her. It's from my church. I know they can help her with the seventeen dollars she needs to stay alive. And I put my name on the back to let her know who to say referred her. She ain't got to say nothing to me. I just want her to be okay."

I thought for a moment about whether or not this was okay. But you know? I was running out of answers. I put the card in my pocket and thought on it for a bit. While writing my notes, I picked up a phone, looked at that card and dialed the number on it. Sure enough, it was that church indeed and a kind voice answered. Instead of going into anything, I just said "good morning" and then got off of the phone.

A couple of hours later, I came back, walked straight into that room, and handed the card to my patient. "This is a community resource," I said. "I hope you'll look into it."

"I will," my patient said. "I will." Her bottom lip started trembling and she couldn't hold back the tears that came streaming down her face. The late morning light from the window was bathing her glistening cheeks and the sight of it made my eyes sting, too.

"God hasn't forgot you, sugar."  That's what the neighbor in bed one said toward that curtain. "Be encouraged, okay? And let people help."

"O.  . . ka-ka-haaaay," my patient said through now heaving sobs.

"And expect miracles, sugar. Everyday, okay?"

And that part was such a good word that I almost unraveled right then and there. I had to stick it on a post it note in my heart to unpack later. Yeah. But the first thing I did was leave that room, slip myself into the nearest bathroom and allow myself a good hard cry.

I sure did.

Before she left the hospital, my patient called that church and gave the name as requested. And they arranged to assist her with her medications. They did.

You know what? It was a miracle.


Head back, shoulders up

I met with a student on a late afternoon earlier this week. A young woman with a brain made for learning and a heart made for caring--perfect ingredients for a the makings of a great physician. Problem is, she has a bad case of the "Imposter Syndrome" and her light was dimmed because of it. Eyes shifting sideways instead of straight ahead. Shoulders slumped instead of back. And a smile that almost seemed apologetic.


And me telling her that she is smart wasn't enough. The inventory of her high scores and hard work, I wish, should have been the panacea but it wasn't. And it never is.

Instead, I just looked at her. My eyes were soft but the focus on her beautiful brown eyes was searing. I reached across my desk and touched her hand. "You are enough, you know. Already, you're enough." And I could see her eyes starting to glisten with tears. So I spoke again before she started crying. "Your words are worth hearing. Your face is worth seeing and noticing. Your ideas are worth sharing. The minute you believe it, others will believe it, too." She nodded and kept her eyes on mine.

Next, I told her about the night on call during internship that my fellow in the NICU taught me how to be a lion. To stand tall and not keep apologizing for things that didn't warrant apologies. And I promise you, that day changed my life. It did. And so, I reflected on that and realized the power in the actions instead of just the words. Yes, I did.

"Come with me." I suddenly stood up from my desk and slipped on my white coat. "Let's go for a walk together."

The student was intrigued. Her face broke out into a big smile and mine did, too. I had no idea what was about to happen but I was hoping ti would be pivotal for us both.


And so. Out we walked. Out of my office, out of the faculty office building, out across the street, and into the entrance of Grady. We stopped in the lobby and I turned and put both of my hands on her shoulders while staring into her eyes. "Owning your space takes practice. I've had more practice than you. But here's what's going to happen--we are just going to walk around the wards. And I want you to  watch and model what I'm doing, okay?" She nodded.

Inside it felt a bit hokey and maybe even a wee bit self important. But that wasn't my intention. I wanted her to pay attention to the interactions she witnessed and how powerful our self images can be in not only doing well in medical school but just being able to do anything. Our energy and strength permits the same of others.

At least that's what I think.

We rode the elevator up to 5A first. When we stepped out into the hallway, I turned to her and said, "Head up, shoulders back. Eyes straight ahead. Make eye contact with those you see. Acknowledge them and let them know you see them."

We walked up that hall and did just that. I put my eyes on people. Said hello. Approached some cardiologists and talked to the about our patients. Tried my best to show her that there is room for everyone, including her.

And she got it. She did. "You've got to own your space," I told her. "Or someone else will take it from you."

"I see it. I see what you are saying," she replied.

I thought for a moment and then added, "You know what? I think people want us to walk in our full authority, you know? Like it feels better. Does that even make sense?"

"It does."

"I want the challenge of being me in the face of you. Not trying to overpower you or make you invisible, you know? I sort of think that's what everyone wants. It feels better."

"I think you're right."

"Head up, shoulders back, okay?"

"Head up, shoulders back," she replied.

"I have to coach myself, too. It's all a work in progress, you know?"

"For you, too?"



She felt better, I think. And, to me, it felt like a small miracle.




This last one is simple. Yesterday, the hospital was busting at the seams. Sick-sick people with few-few resources needing care. Too little being divided by too much. Which makes for some real bad math.

But you know what? Our chief residents came in dressed in scrubs. They rolled up their sleeves and went hard. Senior residents who were on light rotations came in and took admissions. Our chief of medicine and Grady residency program directors went into damage control. And you know what? It all worked out. That sure leadership made a difference, man. And it allayed everyone's fears, too.

You'd think everyone would be freaking out and hating life yesterday. But nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, hearts were light. We took excellent care of our patients and I know we did. And you know what else? We had fun.

That, too, was a miracle.

Look, man. It's Christmas time and people are struggling. But you know what I know for sure? Miracles aren't just happening on 34th street. They're happening everywhere. On Jesse Hill Jr. Drive and even nestled in the everyday hustle bustle of the things you have to do before going to sleep. if nothing else, Grady Hospital teaches me that.

Which sort makes me want to cry this morning.

Damn. I'm just glad to be here. Right here, right now, witnessing these everyday miracles.


Happy Friday.  I hope you expect some miracles today and appreciate the when they happen. I've missed y'all.

Now playing on my mental iPod.

First this one which I can't stop hearing in my head . . . . The Clark Sisters kill it on this one. Dang. It's making me cry all over again. This? All day long.

Next this one. . . .Whitney and Mariah did this true justice.  Le sigh.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Failing miserably. . .

. . . at my 21 days of writing. But a sister is tired after work, man. I have so much to say, too. I just need to keep my eyelids open long enough to write. . . .

For now, enjoy these two fun photos from Friday of me rounding with the two awesome medical students on my team. We were stamping out some serious disease, man. Learning lots, connecting with people, and, I think, taking excellent care of the human beings under our care.

More to come. . . .

Happy Saturday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advanced social history.

"What do you do for fun sir?"

"Just sit around. And talk shit."


"You heard me."

"Actually, you're right. I did."

"Next question."

"Do you drink alcohol, sir?"

"Every chance I get."


"You asked."

"That I did."

Happy Hump Day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Life in pictures: First day back on the wards.

Best. Job. Ever.

Happy December.

Our only hope.

Zachary took this photo. I don't like the wrinkles under my eyes, but I love that my eyes look kind.

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."

~ Dalai Lama

I was standing in the checkout line at Publix yesterday afternoon. In front of me was this older gentleman. He was tall--Abraham Lincoln tall--with very straight posture and long elegant fingers that I couldn't help but notice as he carefully placed his items on the conveyor belt. The fair skin of his hands was smattered with age spots and the thick, gold band he wore on his left ring finger was covered in tiny scratches. Every strand of his stick straight hair was a different shade of silvery grey and, even though it was cropped close and thinning on top, I marveled at the sight of it. Thousands and thousands of shades of grey all blending together into this one mane.

I think it's human instinct to feel it somewhere deep in your bones when someone is watching you. And so, this tall, tall man with his multifaceted silver hair turned his head in my direction. We immediately made eye contact, although neither of us spoke. The bottom half of his eyes squinted in a bit and his face burst into a gentle smile. I smiled back and offered him a tiny head dip of salutation. 

I placed the two t-bone steaks I planned to prepare that evening on the counter. Next to it, I lay the Graeter's ice cream and chocolate syrup. The elder gentleman raised his eyebrows whimsically, threw back his head and chuckled. "I'll be having supper with their family," he told the checkout lady with a wink. She surveyed my four to five savory items and giggled, too. 

"I'll be having supper with their family."

For some reason, I pondered his choice of words. First there was "supper" which, honestly, just confirmed what his greying hair had suggested. I thought of that as a word from another generation. That, or another part of the map. Either way, it made me smile. What really struck me though was the last part--"their family." 

Their family. Yes. That. 

You see, I do have a family. A husband and two sons who, I was sure, would be just as thrilled to see that juicy red meat coming out of my broiler as he was seeing it come out of my shopping cart. A family, a unit, at home awaiting my return. And, by many Americans' definitions, my family, though black, is the kind that they are comfortable imagining. But something about how this man was interacting with the world around him made me think his reference to me wasn't for that reason. Like, what "their family" meant could have been anything representing love and commitment. And that, however that was defined, like any family filled with love, suppers are special times for celebrating that love. So yeah, that's what I got from his eyes and also those words. They seemed to assume the best which I liked. 


Perhaps this is completely over thought and totally off base, right? Like maybe this man was really just waiting to drop a solid pick up line on me in the Publix parking lot. Or maybe, in his mind, I was just another "baby mama," part of the 47% that mooch-mooch-mooch due to lack of ambition (never because of circumstances) and a representation of all of the things he and his own family deplore. Maybe I would even come up over their own "supper" as some outlier and that, just maybe, every so often you'll find one of "them" that's okay.


But somehow, I doubt that. I had watched this man for nearly five minutes. His light was shining. He was kind to the sweet Ethiopian woman ringing up his groceries and patient with the seemingly transgender person who'd preceded him in line as she rummaged through her handbag for the right credit card. His smile was warm when she kept apologizing with her throaty voice and no part of his face even flinched at the sound of it or the not so inconspicuous 5 o'clock shadow her thick coating of foundation was trying to hide. That Abraham Lincoln man shrugged his bony shoulders and told that same lady to "go right on ahead" when she wanted to grab eggs because, after all, that was why she'd come in the first place. I liked that. And then, with me, he'd looked into my brown eyes with twinkling blue ones of his own that seemed to believe that humankind is more good than bad and that differences are okay. 

I mean it. It didn't seem like obligatory Southern kindness. It was more than that. His gestures were loving, accepting. I found myself wondering about the person connected to him, the other soul with a weathered golden band. Was it a dear older woman in overalls who was outside sweeping their porch? Was it a very chic grandmother with hair pulled into a tight chignon and a giant list of high end charity events to attend in December? Was it woman who looked like me, with brown skin and coarse hair, and a story of fighting for an interracial love in Jim Crow Georgia? Or maybe--just maybe--it wasn't even a woman at all. 

I don't know.

But each time that man reached down to grab another item from his buggy, he let his blue eyes rest on mine. And each time they would twinkle in acknowledgement of my existence without intruding upon it. All of it was lovely and worth placing on a post it note in my head for later.

There are some bad, bad things going on in America right now. People feeling alienated and like they don't matter. Folks doing things that come from desperate places and in response to proving that they aren't invisible. Unfair assumptions that unfortunately are so, so complicated that nobody even knows where to start in terms of making them better.


In those five minutes in the line at Publix I wondered. What if everyone looked at each other like that tall, tall man looked at me, the checkout woman, and the transgender woman yesterday? What if our words suggested wholeness and love instead of fractured elements of what someone else has deemed socially acceptable? What if just being human and here and a child of God was enough? And even if that man has no connection to things God-related and none of that was driving his actions, what if he and the whole world just decided that every single person deserved a twinkle from the eyes of those looking in their direction? What if?

I wonder that. Like, would we be so afraid of each other? Would police officers wield guns in the faces of teens much more slowly? Would those same teens feel that their worth is so great--from their whole lifetime of being looked at with trusting eyes of approval--that never, no not ever would they even find themselves in situations that could lead to violent outcomes? Would a misdemeanor seem not even worth it and a felony so foreign that no Michael Browns would even consider them? And eventually would seeing or hearing of any beautiful brown boy participating in one seem as outlandishly unbelievable as a flying saucer sighting? 


I do not think that man just started looking at the world with kind eyes. I think somewhere in his life it was modeled for him and that, despite how much tugs against us all to not be accepting of others, he'd made up his mind to see the best. This wasn't a white thing or a black thing. It was a human thing. And sure, I could write about some experiences I've had with unkind people in the majority who looked at me, my husband and my children like scum on the bottom of a work boot. I could. But today, I'm choosing to reflect on the times that obviously someone chose kindness. Someone who did not look like me and who has access to all of the current events and horrific 6 o'clock news stories that I do. 


So today, I guess I'm thinking about kindness. Not just in deeds but in subtleties.  Because something tells me that this--choosing kindness--is our only hope.


Happy Monday. And first day of wards.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Life in Pictures: My "take some time for you" day.

When I woke up this morning, the BHE said, "Take some time for you. The boys and I are going to go and do something fun all day. Do whatever you want and don't worry about us."

So you know what? I did just that.

You know what I wanted? Time with my woman friends. Yes. That. That always recharges me.

I sent a text to my girlfriend Sherie H. We've been failing miserably at getting together. On a wing and a prayer, I asked if she, too, might have a kid free window and availability on short notice for breakfast.

And she did! Yay.

Sherie and I met through Jack and Jill. She's such a good soul. I'm glad to have her as a friend and was even gladder to finally line up our busy schedules to break some bread and clink coffee mugs with her.

After I left Sherie, I decided to knock around in a few little boutiques. Mostly window shopping, but enjoying my "time for me" un-rushed time. The BHE and I call it "not being 'book-ended.'" That's when you not only get a pass to do what you want, but you also get to go for as long as you'd like.

So that's what was going on when this picture below was taken.

This lovely woman, Nancy, came up to me and said, "Excuse me--are you 'gradydoctor?'"

And y'all already know how completely giddy this made me. Again, it continues to blow my mind that anyone other than my mother reads this blog. But it turns out that my mother and Nancy read it. Ha. Nancy had a beautiful light shining from her and the kindest eyes. Can't you see it from this photo?

So nice meeting you today, Nancy.

After I left my boutique window shopping (which actually became a bit more than that), I picked up a few Christmas gifts for the kids. While shopping, I realized that the button had popped off of one of my insanely overpriced Ugg boots.


Well. Then I remembered that Harry had gotten them for me from Nordstrom. And the reason we always will pay a wee bit more for Nordstrom is the excellent customer service you get in times such as this. I strolled right in, button-less Ugg boots on my feet and explained to the kind customer service representative my situation.

At which point he promptly went to the back, and returned with a replacement pair. Complete with intact buttons. Yes, he verified my purchase. But still. All of it was super easy and super low key.

5 points for Gryffindor. And by Gryffindor I mean Nordstrom.

Next, I called my BFF Lisa D. to see if, perhaps, my luck would continue. Turns out that she, too, had a kid-free afternoon. Grandparents were doting over her 3 year old son, which opened her up for time with me.


My friends Hillary D. and Verna C. opened up a new business and were having a grand opening today. A really, really, really super cute place called Atlanta Olive Oil Company which features savory artisan olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I couldn't wait to try them out and knew Lisa would love it since she's a total foodie.

I'm pretty darn sure that Lisa and I tasted everything in there. For reals. I didn't meet one thing that I didn't like. And as someone who is SUPER picky and who has the palate of a sixth grader, that's saying a lot.

My favorite surprise was this:

The flavored balsamic vinegars! Oh my goodness. Such a treat.

But here is the kicker. . . . Hillary and Verna let us try a glass of prosecco with a bit of flavored--yes, balsamic, yes, vinegar in it. I cannot even begin to explain to you how amazing it tasted.

Even though it is called "Atlanta Olive Oil Company" I left with almost all balsamic vinegar. My favorite of them all was the "Espresso Bean" flavor. I can't wait to drizzle it over a steak or some fish.

Yum. Yum. YUM.

Oh yeah--and they are not only super delicious, but also reasonably priced. You must, must, must make your way over to the west side of Atlanta to this place. It is WELL worth your time. (Angella, I think your daughter and husband would fall in love with this place.)

As we were leaving, a group of Jack and Jill sister moms from our Atlanta Chapter came in. All of us Jack and Jill mommies paused for a picture. That box in my arms is my big bounty of yumminess which I'm slightly embarrassed to say was rather excessive.


All those tastings left us wanting some food. Inspired by the olive oil and balsamic experience, Lisa and I decided to hit the best pizza place in Atlanta--Antico Pizza (also on the west side.)

This is a fattening food that is always 100% worth every single fat gram, calorie, or work out. Yum, yum, YUM.

Lisa is nice enough to offer you some.

Whoops. Too late. Hope this slice of life I'm sharing suffices.


Regrettably, BFF time had to eventually come to an end. Both of us departed on a Neopolitan pizza high.

Called the Manning boys to see how they were. "We're kicking it!" Harry told me. "About to go get you a Christmas tree! We'll see you later on!" And in the background the boys were cheering. So I didn't bother trying to barge in.

Besides, I had another stop I wanted to make.

This sweet girl was having a wild and crazy first birthday party. What a delight it was to have things work out for me to be able to stop by to celebrate with Francois and Jess R. Their darling Claudia is a walking, waving bundle of energy. Look at those bright eyes!

Turns out that last Thanksgiving when everyone else was rubbing their "food babies," Jess was at the hospital having a real one. The result was this little pumpkin.

What's that you say, Claudia?

I love how it looks like she is having a full on conversation with her dad here.

And how she is mean mugging me on this group selfie. Ha ha ha.

Such a beautiful family. Can't wait to keep watching Claudia grow up. And to see Team Rollin grow as parents. This picture of them was my favorite of all. It really seems like the love leaps off of the page. Celebrating milestones with special people feels good. And it's important.

To me, it is.

I came home to a a quiet house. And a few moments later was looking at this:

I told my man and those boys that they did good with that tree. "I love him," I said. "He's so big and handsome."  And Harry just smiled because whenever I give something a gender, he knows how much I really, truly love it.

Tomorrow we shall dress him up in lights and ornaments. And I bet you he will fix up quite well.

My "take some time for you" day was awesome. I highly recommend you taking one if you haven't. And if yours doesn't involve as much hustle bustle as mine--that's okay. Mostly I just hope you get a day to yourself that isn't bookended by anything other than a very handsome male Christmas tree and another very handsome husband who just happens to be a kick ass dad.


Happy Saturday. Live, savor, repeat.