Good Mommy Juju


During my maternity leave, I needed to get a haircut before returning to work and since I wasn’t married to a salon yet, I decided to try someplace new.  I found Juju Organics in Queen Village, which I first noticed by their clever sidewalk signs and then subsequently learned more about their all-natural and organic approach to beauty care.  This philosophy was in line with my hesitancy to expose my breastfeeding infant to too many chemicals and my overall desire to leave the planet a better place for my kids.

salonI have since had two great hair cuts and one eyebrow wax there and they were able to accommodate me on short notice (i.e. “the kids are napping, can I come over now”).  I have not yet tried out their nail services, but I know that once G is old enough for a mommy-daughter manicure outing that I will be thankful for their non-toxic nail polish options.


While the services I received at Juju Organics were good and the eco-chic policies are commendable, one of the things that I like most about this salon is that it truly feels rooted in its neighborhood and is family friendly.  Not only were they willing to help a desperate mommy get her hair cut on short notice, but the woman next to me held her infant on her lap while getting her hair cut.  One of my stylists and I had a discussion about neighborhood schools and the owner and I discussed our work-life balance.  After nine years in Queen Village, Juju Organics is as invested in their local community as they are the larger environmental impact of their salon.

Juju_salonAfter a long work week and fighting a cold, a night out at Juju Organics was just the kind of juju that this mommy needed.


{Disclaimer:  My eyebrow wax was courtesy of Juju Organics and Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations.  I was not obligated to write this post and all opinions are my own.  I paid for my hair cuts and was a client of this salon prior to the media event.}

City Green: an afternoon at the Washington Avenue Green

Raising city kids, I am always looking for opportunities to bring a little nature into their lives.  So on a napless afternoon, I decided to take G for a walk to the Washington Avenue Green, a riverfront park at Columbus and Washington Streets.  I imagined that taking a long walk would put her to sleep, but we both ended up being enthralled with the views and basked in the mid-afternoon sunshine.

Washington_Green_selfieIf I hadn’t read about this park, I would never had known it was there as it is situated behind a Union headquarters and a Coast Guard building.  After crossing Columbus Boulevard, I followed a trail of wildflowers and was amazed at how quickly the landscape changed from dirty concrete to a garden path lined with honey bees and frogs.

wildflowers_beesThe park is located out on Pier 53 and has great views of the Coast Guard boats and ships docked along the Delaware River.  The marshy smell and sound of the waves crashing on the bulkhead reminded me of my childhood home and were a relaxing respite from the city noise.

Coast GuardWashington_GreenAt the end of the pier there is a “land buoy” with a spiral staircase that goes halfway up, from which you can survey the park and gain a better view of the city skyline, Benjamin Franklin bridge, and the Washington Green.  You can read more about the historical significance of this park and art installation here, but in brief, this site was an immigration station from 1873-1915.

land_buoyG and I enjoyed climbing the lighthouse-like tower and feeling the fresh breeze roll off the water.  The park also includes a boardwalk over the water and a small rocky beach.  The pier architecture encourages exploring the local ecology and I witnessed a few children skipping rocks from the shoreline, couples stopping to photograph flowers, and bicyclists waving at offshore tugboats.


While the Spruce Street Harbor Park has been getting all the attention this summer, I was excited to find this less touristy hidden gem along the waterfront.  I am excited that Philadelphia is reviving the waterfront and in this case, restoring not only a historical landmark but a natural wetland.

Standing on Our Own Two Feet: From residents to attendings

baby_standingOne of the first friends I made during residency is one of my current coworkers.  We started off with a few light rotations together, the kind that got us out of work in time to make it to the city-wide Summer happy hours.  Then we had a few rotations together that were more intense, the kind that tests you and brings out your true character.  She was there when I had an occupational exposure to HIV and loved me when I needed it most.  She was there when I took care of children with cancer and infused my days with some much-needed laughter.  We cheered each other on for the three years when it feels like no one celebrates you.

After residency we ended up taking faculty positions in the same Primary Care office.  We are often consulting each other on challenging cases and teaching each other our discoveries.  The biggest change since residency is that we are now both mothers, sharing the daily struggles of working motherhood and helping each other along the journey.  We work alongside our mentors, who now ask us for our opinions.  It still amazes me when someone who taught me most of what I know asks what I would do!  I look around… are you asking me?  Me, the resident you trained?  And I am proud when I have something to contribute.

One Saturday, my friend and I were the only two doctors working.  We had a busy clinic day with a full schedule of patients.  On my exhausted ride home, I reflected on my work day and thought: we just ran that office unsupervised.  My friend and I who started as lowly interns, trembling with nerves at orientation, operating under the watchful eye of our senior residents, and sweating through our Boards exam, were now confidently and competently running a busy clinic together.  I texted her my observation and we marveled together at how far we have come.

After my last post where I waxed nostalgic about residency, a current resident told me that my positive reflections gave her hope for the future.  Every time I think about the educational arc of my friend and I, now attendings teaching residents, I am amazed at how far one can go in just a few years.  Residency is intense, however, it not only prepares you for a career, but for lifelong friendship.


[Dedicated to the entire Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Residency Class of 2011]

Counting 80 hours: the life of a pediatric resident

toddler_doctorAt a recent block party, neighbors asked me questions about the life of a resident.  It amazed me how little the general public still knows about the hours a resident works.  Over the years, TV shows have shed some light on what the experience of a resident is like, although none are quite realistic, but it is hard to appreciate from a one hour sitcom what it feels like to do a 12, 24, or 30 hour call.  I found myself repeating, “yes, an 80 hour week,” a few times before the crowd seemed to believe me that this was possible.

I was reminded of when I would call my mom on my post-call bus ride home, before my ritual of eating Frosted Mini Wheat cereal, sleeping with an eye mask to block out the afternoon sun, waking for dinner, and then returning to bed until the next morning.  These calls to my mom occurred at around 1 PM when I was leaving the hospital after a 30-hour call night, during which I likely had no more than a short nap.  In fact, I was always so terrified that I would sleep through an important page that if I did actually get to lay down in a call room I tried to make myself so uncomfortable that I wouldn’t fall into a deep sleep and would clip my pagers and phones around my collar to be closer to my ears.  Anyway, when I would call my mom post-call she would often say something like, “oh you’re out early.”  I would remind her that this wasn’t actually early for me as I arrived at work the day before, but I understood that to the world around me I was heading home long before others were finished with their typical day.

It shouldn’t surprise me though that people outside of medicine are confused by a resident’s schedule because I found nurses in the hospital who also couldn’t understand when we arrived and left.  New nurses on the units would often ask me questions like “how many days a week do you work?”  When I explained that I had four days off per month, they seemed to think I somehow miscalculated.  During a Winter snowstorm one year there was talk about everyone having to sleep at the hospital instead of traveling home in dangerous conditions.  One nurse came up to me and said, “Oh my God, can you imagine having to sleep here?”  I tried to look sympathetic as I thought, yes, I do it every fourth night!

After explaining the lifestyle of a resident to my neighbors they followed with, “well they must pay you well for that.”  Then I had to explain how actually the salaries are fairly standard and are roughly the same as the hourly rate for the hospital cleaning staff.  Suddenly they seemed to look at me with pity and disbelief that anyone would sign up for this position.

The funny thing is that the more I talked about residency, even the long hours and poor pay, the more I started to become nostalgic and miss it.  I missed being there all of the time and feeling like I knew the pulse of the unit where I was working.  I missed admitting patients in the afternoon, spending the evening caring for them, and then presenting them to the team in the morning knowing every single detail.  I missed having hot fudge sundaes by the windows in the atrium with my co-residents at midnight.  I missed the adrenaline rush of the ER trauma pager and the weight of the lead vests on my chest.  I missed holding newborn babies seconds after they were born and presenting them to their mothers.  I missed the thrill of hitting an arterial stick/lumbar puncture/intubation on the first try.  I missed working on a team.  I missed being the one to tell a patient that they were being discharged and seeing them leave healthier than they arrived.

As I work with residents in my clinic now I see them work through their highs and lows.  I feel their struggles and it reminds me of my own.  Residency is messy.  No one does it for the lifestyle and it looks awful on paper, but the experience is certainly unique and a special stage in a physician’s life.  Others might not always understand the details of those 80-hours, but residents know that the lessons learned there cannot be counted.


Family project: DIY Bookshelves

Crafty DIY projects are one of my favorite hobbies, although something I admit I don’t do often enough.  Recently, I got N involved in a project to build bookshelves for his room.  I saw an idea on Pinterest that got things started.

paintingFirst, we bought three spice racks from Ikea, which N painted in two-tone colors.  He chose red, purple, blue, and green as his palette.  Then, we hung them on the wall behind his door, making this awkward space more functional.  While daddy was busy measuring and hammering, we gave N a job to keep busy, which included painting the walls with water, or clear paint as we called it.  Lastly, we filled the shelves with some of his favorite books and hung a map of the United States over the top.


This was a fun and simple project that got the whole family involved.  I am glad that we will remember creating this together each night as we select a bedtime story.


As seen in photos:

Ikea spice racks

Ikea smock

Ikea reflective vest

Melissa and Doug jumbo paint brushes

Crayola Washable Kids Paint

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