Hiking Arkansas

Over Easter weekend, four friends and I spent two days hiking in north central Arkansas. We had a delightful time and it felt good to just #getoutside!

Thursday morning, two of the girls and I left early in the morning to head straight to Little Rock and hike Pinnacle Mountain. The weather was looking to be a drizzly, sunny mix, so we timed it to start our hike around noon.

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Pinnacle Mountain has two main trails that lead up to the summit – the East and the West. The East Summit Trail, pictured above, is the harder of the two. We decided to go up the East Summit Trail, then come down the West Summit Trail, and take the base trail back to where we started. The east trail is rated as “moderate” on the state park website, which must be something of a joke. If you follow me on Twitter, I posted this saying that I normally stage these type photos to scare my mom, but this one is legit.  If you look on the right side of the photo, you can see the trail markers. We went straight up! It took us about three hours to hike a total of four-ish miles.

It rained on and off, so we just watched out for slick rocks and made our way on up. Thankfully, that was all the rain we saw that weekend!

After that hike, we made our way to a VRBO we rented in Perryville. It was halfway between Little Rock and Petitjean, our day two destination, so it was great! IMG_9443

It had everything we needed – especially the most perfect hammock trees! We opted for dinner out at the one restaurant in town for the first night, since the other two girls didn’t arrive until nearly seven pm. You know it’s a small town when you go into a restaurant and the waitress’ first question is, “Y’all aren’t from here are you?” And the food was amazing!

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The next morning, we got a slow and lazy start before heading to Petit Jean State Park to do some hiking there. The day started off with everyone giving their “survival rating,” like from Naked and Afraid. All of us got an increase to our survival rating at the end of the day, simply for getting through it. We started on the Cedar Falls Trail, then doubled back to where another trial split off.  All in all, we did some or all of the Canyon Trail, Seven Hollows Trail, and the Boy Scout Trail.

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The scenery and weather were fantastic! The temps were in the 60s, so not too much sweat and not too much cold.  We hiked about seven miles total, and then stopped for ice cream and fudge on the way out of the park (well-earned, obviously).

IMG_9444This was right at the end, an area called Bear Cave. None of the formations are true caves, but they give the appearance of them. We wandered through this area for at least thirty minutes. It reminded me of pictures of Utah or places I’ve seen in Arizona.

IMG_9447I’ve heard many people talk about hiking Petit Jean over the years, and I get the hype! I’m so glad we got the chance to spend a relaxing girls weekend up there. I highly recommend! The hardest trail was the East Summit Trail, and you need to be in somewhat decent shape for that. Otherwise, all these trails were full of dogs and kids and adults of all ages.

Etiquette Chat: Thank You Notes

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I had initially thought I would do this post a little later, and spread out the etiquette posts amongst some others. Then, I got this text yesterday and it made me both laugh out loud and nod in agreement:

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So let’s talk about thank you notes! They’re a way of showing your heartfelt appreciation for a gift, a service, or anything else. For starters, it’s never wrong to send one! If a gift or service is given and the giver can’t be thanked in person, send a thank you note. If a gift is received at a shower and the giver is there, one should still send a written thank you note. A generic “thank you” posted on social media is not appropriate.

Handwritten and mailed is the best way to go, and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy – I love the thank you notes that come in packs of five from the Target dollar section!  A good rule of thumb, one that I try to stick with, is to send one within the week. I don’t always make it, but I try!

If the gift is from a friend or relative and isn’t a wedding gift, a phone call or email is also appropriate.

In regards to the rant I received yesterday – what’s the rule with wedding gifts? I’ve heard several times that the bride and groom have one full year after the wedding to send thank you notes but that simply isn’t true – they have three months. Even as my generation is having more non-traditional weddings, I have heard several peers lament about the fact that they took a gift to a wedding or wedding shower only to never hear anything from the bride or groom.  With the increase in online shopping and Amazon registries, having gifts delivered directly to someone, instead of in person, means that the thank you note serves doubly as a heartfelt appreciation and letting the sender know that their gift arrived!

A few things to remember:

-If you wonder about whether you should send a thank you note, you should.

-Even if you don’t like the gift, send a thank you note.

-Set yourself up for success! Next time you’re in Target or the like, pick up a pack of five or ten thank you notes to have on hand. And get some stamps from the grocery store or post office!

-Keep address’s handy! To prevent asking for an address over and over, add it to their contact info in your phone or start an Excel spreadsheet.

-During a season of great influx of gifts, like around a wedding or the arrival of a baby, stay ahead of the curve by writing three or four a day.  Anything is better than finding yourself with a huge pile of notes to write a month after wedding or baby!

-Thank you notes can come from the bride or the groom, and the mother or the father of a new baby. Handwriting doesn’t have to be perfect; simply get it written and delivered.

-Notes don’t have to be long! But they do need to be specific – let the giver know how much you liked the specific gift or how it was put to use.

-If you read this and think back on times where you fell short, that’s okay! There’s plenty of room for grace in all of this. Just aim to do better in the future.

Source: Again, The Emily Post Institute and The Spruce.

Medicine Monday: What is Med-Peds?

Probably the most-asked question of fourth year is some variation of this: “What are you specializing in?!” It’s such a fun question, and I love getting to tell people about med-peds. I have noticed that if I simply answer, “Internal medicine-pediatrics,” people tend to respond with, “Pediatrics! That’s fantastic!” They’re so excited for me, and I don’t want to correct anyone and fully explain what med-peds is, so I thought I would take my longer spiel to the blog today to explain what my training will entail.

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It is pediatrics! But it’s also internal medicine! Pediatrics training is learning how to care for patients from birth to adolescence, and internal medicine is caring for all things involving patients from adolescence into late life. These are considered “categorical” programs.

Individually, a pediatrics or internal medicine residency is three years long. A year is trimmed from each side, and a med-peds residency is four years long. As a specialty, med-peds has been around as long as family medicine – both were started in 1967. There are 70+ programs throughout the country, ranging in size from two to 14 interns each year.

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In a med-peds residency, we spend half our training in pediatrics, doing all the things that our categorical counterparts do. The other half of our time is spent in adult care, doing all the things that our internal medicine counterparts do. There is variation between individual programs, but residents generally spend three to four months on one specialty before switching to the other. We’re fully considered part of both categorical residencies, and are included in all the parties and retreats and academic teaching.  At the end of training, we take both board exams – internal medicine and pediatrics. These are the exact same exams as the categorical residents, so we’re board certified internists and pediatricians. We can see adults or children in the hospital or in the clinic. Pretty awesome!

After training, we are eligible for any fellowship or faculty position available to categorical residents. There is a growing number of combined fellowships, where you can train to do both pediatric and adult rheumatology, for example.  Fellowship training isn’t required, however.

Why med-peds for me? I knew I wanted to do pediatrics, and loved my rotation third year.  What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with internal medicine when I rotated through! The patients, the complexity and variety of disease – it all drew me in. It took me a while to come around to it, but by the fourth week of my medicine rotation, I knew med-peds was the perfect fit for me. Even if I end up practicing as one or the other, knowledge is never wasted.

What do I see myself doing after training? Ask me again in three years! For real, I really am not sure. I’ve entertained a few different options, including dual hospitalist, meaning I see both kids and adults who are admitted to the hospital. I’ve also considered doing a sports medicine fellowship and taking care of college athletes, and also thought about a joint critical care fellowship, where I take care of critically ill adults and kids. Lots of options! And I may end up discovering something I love even more and haven’t considered yet.

For other details about med-peds, a great resource is the NMPRA website. I used the site for everything from the residency map to FAQs that I had myself. I can’t wait to share more about med-peds and residency training in the coming years!

A Very Floral Baby Shower

Update: Camille Ann arrived the day this post went live!

When I found out that my dear friends Molly and Eric would be expecting their first baby late this month, I knew we had to celebrate! Eric and I are in school together, and we have all attended church together for the last four years. They’ll head off to Texas after graduation, which made for even more motivation to celebrate their little girl!

It was while purchasing fabric to make my gift for Camille that I got the inspiration for the shower – florals! I know, I think of this clip from Devil Wears Prada, but the florals this season are too cute to resist!  (I’ll share the end-product of the fabric that inspired this soon.)

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The garland was a Pinterest-inspired idea. I got the actual garland from Hobby Lobby, and found the flowers at Dollar Tree. I took them apart and made little hooks out of the ends, spreading them out evenly on the garland once I put it on the mantle. The flowers I didn’t use on the mantle, I put in a vase on the table. The paper lanterns are also from Hobby Lobby.

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Since the shower was at 2:30 in the afternoon, we mainly had finger foods – a veggie tray, cream cheese with pepper jelly and Wheat Thins on the side, Chicken Salad Chick with pretzels, and cookie dough dip with graham cracker sticks. And, of course, no celebration would be complete without a Nothing Bundt Cake!

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We had the best time at the party! It was all the ladies from our small group at church, so everyone already knew each other. We hung out around the table, snacking and talking for nearly two hours before it occurred to me that we should open gifts!

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Molly (and Camille) got lots of sweet, soft gifts from everyone in attendance.  We’re now TEN DAYS or less until we get to meet this little nugget. Aunt Mel can’t wait! I’ve got to get in lots of snuggles before graduation.

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Etiquette Chat: The RSVP

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I recently hosted a small gathering to celebrate the upcoming birth of a dear friend’s baby. Ten or so guests were invited, and the invitations included a request to RSVP to me by a certain date.  As the date approached, I lamented to a friend, who was invited, that only one person had replied to me in regards to whether they would attend the party or not. She responded that she had never RSVP’d for anything, ever! I was shocked, and this led to a good discussion about RSVPs and why they’re important. I ended up having a few more conversations on the topic over the following weeks, and wanted to discuss more here today.

With Facebook events, and multiple events happening on the same weekend, or not knowing work schedules very far in advance, it’s often difficult.  Our generation has become more casual, more connected, and busier, which is often a great thing! Sometimes, however, we do need to call on more “old fashioned” etiquette in order to be responsible, respectful adults.

What does “RSVP” mean? It’s an abbreviation that stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît,” or “please reply.”  Long ago, it was expected that, after receiving an invitation to anything, you would sit down to write a note to the host about whether or not you could attend. As that began to fall by the wayside, small reply cards were included with formal invitations. Now, we request an “RSVP” for formal and non-formal gatherings, but handwritten responses are no longer required. (thankfully!)

There are several different types of RSVP. For large parties and public events, there is generally no response required.  If an invitation says “regrets only,” then contact the person listed only if you cannot attend the party. A third option, and the one I most commonly use, is a line that states “RSVP by a certain date,” and generally choose a date four or five days before the gathering.

Why is it important to RSVP? There are a few reasons that come to mind.  The Emily Post Institute, a longstanding voice in the etiquette world, maintains that etiquette is based on respect, consideration, and honesty.  Using this as a basis, one can come to some good conclusions on why responding to an invitation appropriately is important! Firstly, it allows the host to plan food, seating and the like appropriately. Knowing how many people are attending a party can allow for dinner reservations to be made, seating charts planned, or even get the correct amount of party favors. Imagine if you were planning a dinner party with personalized place cards. You make one for everyone that has responded to say they are coming, but then several extra people, who were invited but did not respond, show up the night of the dinner. A good host will handle this graciously, but with added stress to the night. You would never want to risk embarrassing a host or hostess, or add extra stress to an event that they have already put much time and effort into.

Some tips for the next time you receive an invitation:

-Does it need a response? You should be able to tell from the invitation itself. If not, reach out to the host or hostess.

-If it does require response, do you know right off whether you can go or not? If you already know, go ahead and respond! Doing so immediately will help keep you from forgetting.

-If the date to respond is weeks away, or you don’t yet have your work or travel schedule, put both the date of the event and the date to respond in your phone calendar right away. As much as I love a good paper planner, my life is made much easier by the calendar I carry in my hand every day – and you can even set reminders!

-If the event is in someone’s honor, like a baby shower, be sure to give your RSVP to the host, not the guest of honor.

-When an email address is listed, send off a quick line or two with your response. When a phone number is listed, a call or text are equally appropriate. I opt to text, because it’s the simplest. Just don’t forget to say who you are!

Thanks for joining me in a little etiquette chat today! Remember to répondez s’il vous plaît next time it’s required!

Source: The Emily Post Institute  <– there is so much great information on this website! They also have a weekly podcast that answers etiquette questions, called Awesome Etiquette. I talked about it on this blog post.