In which March has been busy

The quarter system, in addition to being an arduous sprint, also means that finals happen the week in March of our anniversary/my birthday. No fun! That week used to be called Spring Break and it was an awesome oasis in the middle of a long, rambling semester. Now it’s a week where I have finals and then take a break in which I do residency and not just classes-plus-residency. This all is just really an excuse for why I haven’t updated in any substantial amount lately. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Kindergarten Class Visit

Kindergarten Class Visit

February was National Children’s Dental Health Month and I got to go speak to our dear friend Andrea’s Kindergarten class on choosing healthy snacks for teeth and the important of oral health. Along with the requisite toothbrushes and toothpaste I packed up some healthy kid snacks and some animal models to practice brushing.

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This picture of my animal models is either adorable or terrifying depending on who you ask.

The kids were amazingly sweet and knew a lot of answers to my questions from having completed the Weekly Reader in the morning (I was so excited that they still have those!! but they don’t smell funny like like I remember. They’re also not on the old recycled paper with the smudgy ink).

I handed out carrots, popcorn, grapes and cheese to demonstrate healthy snacks for teeth

I handed out carrots, popcorn, grapes and cheese to demonstrate healthy snacks for teeth

I got the sweetest thank you note from the class - definitely going to go on the fridge at home.

I got the sweetest thank you note from the class – definitely going to go on the fridge at home.

My visit made me very thankful that there are kindergarten teachers in the world - I can handle one child for a few minutes, but they are seriously miraculous on teaching 25 kids for a whole day!

My visit made me very thankful that there are kindergarten teachers in the world – I can handle one child for a few minutes, but they are seriously miraculous on teaching 25 kids for a whole day!

This is shaping up to be one of the wettest Marches on record in Seattle. As of today we’ve have 8.02″, almost at the 8.40″ record set in 1950. Every now and then we get some sun breaks:

A rare sunny afternoon between classes.

A rare sunny afternoon between classes.

The key to surviving the winter here is to soak up any sun where you can find it. This is me shedding my heavy coat for some vitamin D.

The key to surviving the winter here is to soak up any sun where you can find it. This is me shedding my heavy coat and cardigan for some vitamin D.

Anytime there is some sun I try to stand for a little bit outside in it. This day found me near the Montlake Cut between Lake Union and Lake Washington

Anytime there is some sun I try to stand for a little bit outside in it. This day found me near the Montlake Cut between Lake Union and Lake Washington

March has also been the month of finishing up my provisional year requirements with the Junior League of Seattle. I can’t say enough good things about the women in my small group and I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about the community. My main project with the League this year has been with the Kids in the Kitchen committee where we teach elementary school kids at the Boys & Girls Club about cooking healthy meals. Our March event was a success and I’m excited to tackle the April one with the rest of the provisionals on the committee:

My greatest challenge each time is not the actual cooking, it's setting boundaries so we can all take turns helping prep.

My greatest challenge each time is not the actual cooking, it’s setting boundaries so we can all take turns helping prep.

March in the Sarvas household is full of celebrations: We celebrated the Cotton Anniversary on the 10th and my 29th birthday on the 14th.

I know having a themed anniversary is probably some commercialized gimmick, but it sure makes giving gifts easier. Fancy wrapped paper and sparkler from Flourish in Greenwood.

I know having a themed anniversary is probably some commercialized gimmick, but it sure makes giving gifts easier. Fancy wrapped paper and #2 sparkler from Flourish in Greenwood.

In keeping with theme I got Jeff (and I) a hammock and I made him some pocket squares. He gave me a luxurious set of cardigans.

In keeping with theme I got Jeff (and I) a hammock and I made him some cotton pocket squares. He gave me a luxurious set of cardigans.

We had the traditional celebratory cupcakes from Trophy: Red velvet, PB&J, Salted caramel and Guinness stout chocolate.

We had the traditional celebratory cupcakes from Trophy: Red velvet, PB&J, Salted caramel and Guinness stout chocolate.

For my birthday Jeff gave me truffles as we had already had too much sugar from the cupcakes. Also, we forgot to put the sparkler in the cupcakes, so it only looks like I'm celebrating my second birthday.

For my birthday Jeff gave me truffles as we had already had too much sugar from the cupcakes. Also, we forgot to put the sparkler in the cupcakes, so it only looks like I’m celebrating my second birthday.

I’m not sure why I have such an obsession with maps or with National Parks, but Jeff found the perfect present to meld these two: a map where we can check off the National Parks as we visit them! It speaks to my love of geography, of traveling and of checking things off lists – it’s perfect.

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I’ve already started planning how we’re going to fill it it: Next time we’re in Nashville, Mammoth Caves is only 2 hours away and we could check off Cuyahoga when we’re in Pittsburgh. Else wise I think a major road trip should be in the works!

That about rounds out where I’ve been instead of writing on this blog. Hopefully this next quarter will allow for some more time to explore and report back. Especially now that I’m officially done with call and won’t have to park here anymore (though I always kind of felt like a badass when I pulled in):

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In which it’s beginning to feel like Thanksgiving

How is it mostly through November already? When planning things I’ve felt like Thanksgiving has been a moving target and now all of a sudden its snuck up on me and will be here next.week. Bring on the sweet potatoes, cranberry apple casserole and heaping loads of ham and tryptophan! I can tell it’s close, my heart is constantly swelling with gratitude and happiness.

A brief update:

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I’ve been on my cardiology rotation at SCH. So thankful there are heart docs out there because every time they asked me if I could hear the murmur I just kind of had to nod, smile and trust their judgement that it was there. I’ll stick with things I can see (like teeth), thank you.

We had some sunshine! And it's projected to go through the weekend!

We had some sunshine! And it’s projected to go through the weekend! But seriously, this fall hasn’t been as bad as last year and I’m very thankful for that (but it still doesn’t stop me from wanting to snap a picture of it though).

I wandered over to the main section of UW's campus for a talk by the esteemed Amy Cuddy. Her TED talk is here and it's worth a listen: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

I wandered over to the main section of UW’s campus for a talk by the esteemed Amy Cuddy. Her TED talk is here and it’s worth a listen: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

Suzzallo library on main campus makes me homesick for a certain Gothic Wonderland

Suzzallo library on main campus makes me simultaneously homesick and warmed my heart for reminding me about a certain Gothic Wonderland. Also Duke football is AMAZING!

This season is one of my favorite. Good food. Gratefulness. Fall smells. It’s just delicious. My dear mother instilled a solid sense of civic mindedness in us and since I can remember I’ve loved having opportunities to volunteer. My schedule recently hasn’t allowed me the flexibility to go exotic places or take part in large scale projects, but that’s the nice thing about giving, it can be done very well in your own backyard in very small amounts. You could argue that that just may be the best kind of volunteering.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 12.08.23 AMI joined the Junior League of Seattle this year as a Provisional and so far the experience has an amazing outlet for me. My mom was in Junior League in Knoxville once upon a time and I have cousins in the Memphis league. Far from being the petty organization portrayed in The Help, for me, it’s the perfect combination of fellowship with wonderful women and easy packaged opportunities to do good. On Saturday I helped out with a work crew at Green Plate Special installing their new garden space in Rainier Valley Seattle. They’re an organization that specializes in curriculum based food growing and cooking skills for middle schoolers. My public health heart just swooned.

Freshly dug carrots

Freshly dug carrots

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They’ve just moved to a fantastic new facility. We helped disassemble parts of the old garden and set up the new (pictured here

Seeds ready for planting.

Seeds ready for planting.

They asked us to do a crazy picture.. and um, this is what we came up with.

They asked us to do a crazy picture.. and um, this is what we came up with.

Also, sadly without pictures because I’m a dunce and forgot; Jeff and I got to catch up with our friend Rebecca Fairchild while she was in Seattle for work. On Friday we took her to one of my favorite places in Belltown, Local 360, and got a chance to reminisce about the 10 or so odd years it’s been since we were all freshman together in Bassett. Thanks for a fun evening Rebecca! And it was nice to meet your sweet friend Jen too! So because I sucked and didn’t get pictures, here’s some throwbacks:

Rebecca, Kuppy and I senior year at Duke

Rebecca, Kuppy and I senior year at Duke

Rebecca and I top row left, freshman dorm powderpuff football

Rebecca and I top row left, freshman dorm powderpuff football

In which I make my own rooftop deck

Today was gorgeous. The Mountain was out in all her glory and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. Naturally I was hoping to soak up some sunshine, but Greenlake was super crowded. Many surrounding apartment complexes have rooftop decks built in for barbecuing, soaking in the sunshine, social events and sometimes even pools. Alas, ours does not, even though there is space for one (maybe since we’re more a bunch of condos than apartments?). One quick hop step over the barrier and you can make an entire part of the roof your own for some quality sunbathing:

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The view isn’t great when you’re below the wall, but there was a lot of privacy and my vitamin D levels feel so much better topped off!

In which the Mountain was out

You may have the mistaken impression from my pictures that it’s always sunny here in Seattle and all my whining is superfluous. I assure you, it’s not. It’s just that I haven’t strengthened whatever gene these Seattleites posess to go do everything in the rain and be happy about it. We do do things in the rain (if we didn’t, we’d never leave the apartment)- the Ballard Market this weekend for example. I just am so rarely moved to pull out a camera (or phone) to document the longest deluge of my life.

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Mt. Rainier from the University of Washington campus

 

But when the sun does shine here it moves me so. I stop my run, pull out my iPhone and just snap a picture to try and convey it. This has what living in slow Chinese water torture has done to me – I’m compelled to document the cloudless sky. Forgive me, it’s too, too pretty not to.

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Cascades range and Mt. Rainier over I-5.

And the Mountain.. when she is out it’s all I can do to look away. Not only does she take up a vast part of the skyline – in an incredible way that only a telephoto lens could give you a good grasp on, she is ultimate witness that the skies are indeed as clear as they can be.

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My phone washes this out, but the white space in the middle is full of mountain.

 

Where ever we end up from here, I’ll never take the sunshine for granted again.

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In which I have a fun weekend off

What a nice, lazy-staycation! Jeff played hooky with me on Friday and we had breakfast at Portage Bay Cafe. Dungeness crab eggs benedict for him and lemon curd French toast for me – yum!

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The sun was shining all weekend – it was perfect! I went on a 7 mile run around Lake Union on Saturday and then walked an additional two miles back home from Gas Works Park. It was nice to know I still had a long run in me.

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Sunny skies from the University Bridge overlooking Lake Union

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The Center for Wooden Boats and MOHAI in South Lake Union

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MOHAI in South Lake Union looking North

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Crossing the Bridge into Fremont, the Center of the Universe

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Waiting for the Fremont Bridge to lower after letter a sailboat pass into Lake Union

Saturday was also our first opera of the season. I got Jeff tickets for Christmas because he always enjoyed going as a kid with his mom. We ate delicious Northwest inspired thalis at Poppy before the show and then headed down to McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center. We saw Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) – it was fun and I enjoyed opera more than I thought I was going to.

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I’m looking forward to our new two shows in February and April!

All in all a perfect, lazy weekend off 🙂

In which the sun still shines

I think if you don’t live in the northwest, some wintertime sun isn’t anything to write home about. But here, it seems like it started raining one day in October and never stopped, so bare with my iPhone photos of the sunshine. It brings warmth to my heart, a renewed faith that this isn’t the Noah’s Ark redux and some breath taking views of the snow capped mountains around us.

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Other than some brief reminders that the skies won’t always be grey, it’s been back to sklerk (Jeff’s combination of “school” + “work”, but accurately spelled schlork).

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And to end the day, one of my favorite groups singing one of my favorite hymns: Mumford & Sons – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

In which I offer gratitude for the sunshine

It happened briefly yesterday as I was walking along Lake Union from a meeting at U-Dub. And again, crisply, this morning on my drive to work. The sun! It came out! And there was glimpses of blue sky!

It did my heart so much good.

Boats sunning on Lake Union

I was fully aware of what I signed up for when I put down Seattle at the top of my Match list. And as if I was somehow the last person on Earth who hadn’t heard this area is a little on the wetter side, EVERY SINGLE PERSON whom I told we were moving out here responded with some variation of “Oh I hope you like rain!”. So yes, I had mentally prepared  for months and knew this was going to be a little rough coming from sunny Carolina, but it doesn’t make it any easier some days.

The weather here reminds me of a short story by Ray Bradbury; a little one he published right before his better known Fahrenheit. It’s a quick read and you can find the full text here. Poetically called “All Summer in a Day” it’s about school children who live on a rain soaked Venus and only see the sun once every seven years. PBS made a video that while a little 1970’s chic, has a happier ending than the real story  (you can find it on YouTube). The story itself is a little sad, but like a great piece of science fiction work it also raises some broader questions – such as, is it better to have never seen or know the sun and not know the pleasure of it on your skin so you don’t know what to pine for? Or is it better to have felt it’s kiss and remember its warmth and joy to get you through the next seven years of rain?

Sunrise on my way to work
Rays breaking over the Cascade mountains across Lake Washington

I think it would be better to know and love the sun like the story’s protagonist Margot and not like the other children who rely solely on sunlamps, no matter how sad you are when it’s gone. Experiencing true beauty and warmth, even if all you have is a memory of it is preferable to substituting a lie. Plus, that William kid is a jerk.

Living here does make me appreciate every second of sunlight that I can gather though. I hope I never lose the feeling of gratitude for it that I have begun to cultivate living underneath these clouds.

{Follow up: All signs point to Referendum 74 passing – yay!}