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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.  Here’s one of our Christmas photos from this year.

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As I prepare to return to work tomorrow, I am trying to institute some change for myself for 2017.  I don’t want to call them resolutions exactly, because it’s not a goal that I’ll achieve and be done with.  Instead, it’ll be an ever-changing process as I evaluate what works for our family and what doesn’t.

My 7 year old son (oldest) wrote this letter to Santa.

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It created all sorts of working Mom guilt.  Does he realize how stressed I am trying to juggle everything is making me?  Was my frantic pace to juggle it all – work, family and friends affecting him?  Should I stop working?  It gives me so much meaning to be a physician, but is it detrimental to my kids?

When I want some special time with him, I’ll take him out for boba tea.  It’s a treat and it encourages one on one time.  Our younger two kids (ages 5 and 3) are so fiesty, that some times my oldest does not get as much attention since he doesn’t demand it in the way the other two do.  Anyone with kids probably knows what I’m talking about.

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So, I asked this sweet boy, pictured above, “Do you want Mommy not to work?”  He thought about it long and hard.  And, he said “I like that you work because you help people.  But, I like when you don’t work too, because you pick me up from school and I get to spend time with you and I love you”.  Cue the water works.  I’m not really a very emotional person, but man, did I feel proud and touched by this little guy’s answer.

So, this year I endeavor to be more intentional in my time with the kids.  I’ve had this discussion with many of my friends who work part time – sometimes it’s the best of both worlds – home and work, and sometimes it’s the worst.  I feel guilty when I’m away from the office, but I also feel guilty when I’m away from the kids.  And  being out of the office, doesn’t mean I’m off duty.  Since I am the managing partner for the office, I feel the need to be ever available to my staff.  So, on my days “off” I’m still fielding at least 3-4 phone calls with the staff, writing blog posts, emailing  our accountant, HR provider, doing Quickbooks, etc.  So, there is a tendency real fast, for work to creep into all aspects of my “time off”.  I’m checking my phone when I’m with the kids on the playground, calling patients back when we are at the aquarium.  Part of this is the price for being able to work from home 2 days a week.  But,I am hoping for 2017 that I can find a better balance.  I may not be available to my children at all hours, but I want to make the time that I with them count.  Quality, not quantity.

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With that in mind, I am trying to create these intentional moments with my children.  Carving out time for just them and only them.  Right now, my oldest son and I are working on an art project for our master bedroom.  His art teacher at school told me she was very impressed with his painting skills and I have always loved art.  Obviously, growing up in a pretty traditional Indian household, academics was always prized above the creative arts, however, now that I have my own time, I thought this was something perfect I could share with my son.

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We are doing our own version of this painting we spotted on minted (but are too cheap to shell out $2K for).  Plus, the trips to Ben Franklin, the time it takes us to construct this piece together, is worth so much more.  And, in the end, I’ll have art in my house which is meaningful to me and something that my husband and I can agree upon (we have vastly differing art styles!).

For my baby girl, she is a girly girl who loves the water and is extremely fearless.

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Climbing too high for me.

Since my husband was an all-American water polo player in high school and college, I let him handle the swim excursions with her. But, she and I have our special time when I give her little manicures.  Some might think 3 years old is too young for nail polish (as my husband says) and I agree, but I have given in on this front.  I do only use these awesome VOC-free nail polishes that I found at Nordstrom.  She has quickly commandeered all of the bright pink shades.

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For my middle, he loves reading with me and getting massages (yeah, I know, I’m spoiling him for my future daughter-in-law, sorry!) and what he calls “date night” with me.

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Usually we just go to coffee bean and I’ll get him a strawberry milk and he tells me about his day.  It’s nice to have separate time with each child, when you have more than 2, some times I feel like I’ve spent the whole day with the kids, but have not been an active participant in their playing or their activities.  It’s all about running them to ballet, soccer, piano, etc.  So, I’m hopeful that creating some intentional moments with them will benefit all of us for 2017.  As my friend said “All moms have guilt”, whether you’re working full time, part time or SAHM.  But my mom (a child psychiatrist) once advised a friend of mine “The fact that you are having guilt about these things means you are a good Mom.  Bad Moms don’t even give these decisions a second thought.”

 

**All photographs courtesy of Daphne Hargrove Photography.  She is amazing!  She does family pics, birthday parties, senior portraits, and even boudoir photos**

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a Pediatric Ophthalmologist/Working Mom/Administrator.

As a working Mom, I wear many hats, just as many of my colleagues do.  So, for today’s post, I decided to chart down what I did for a full day from the time I woke up to coming home.  People always ask me how I can manage working with 3 kids and it’s a juggling act.  We’re also super blessed with terrific babysitters who we can really depend upon when we have late days.

5:45 am: Arya is awake.  She likes to reach over from her crib and turn the light on and then calls to us “Mommeeee, Daddeeee”.  Her brother, Taj, who is a very light sleeper, will wake up then and run into her room “I’m coming Arya!”.  It’s very sweet.

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Then, get ready, make my bed (I read somewhere it’s part of starting the day right).  Man, I need some coffee.  I look longingly at my Nespresso.

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Since it’s a surgery day, I don’t drink caffeine, just to make sure I don’t have any jitters when operating.  But, I miss the routine of my coffee.  Gotta remember to buy some decaf pods.  Help get the kids ready for school, etc.  Show the nanny where the stuff for dinner is, so she can prepare it (tacos for kids tonight)

6:45 am: Leave the house.  

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Jeff usually drives and I take care of admin emails.  It gives me time to eat my yogurt.  It’s nice having a chauffeur !

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My chauffeur, Jeff, does not like being photographed.

 

7:05 am: Drop Jeff off at the office and I drive over to the Eye Surgery Center.

7:15 am:  Arrive at Eye Surgery Center, greeted by friendly smiling nurses.  I love this place.

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One of the pre-op nurses at the Surgical Center.

 

7:20 am: Say hello to my patient, mark above his eye with a large S (don’t want to operate on the wrong eye! – don’t worry, I always print a large photo of the patient and place it on the wall in the operating room to remind which muscles I am operating upon), and sign the necessary paperwork.

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Change into my scrubs  and head into the operating room.

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My scrub nurse, Jackie, enjoys 80’s Pop music in the OR just like I do!

 

8:45 am : Surgery is finished.  My second surgery canceled at the last minute, so there was no time to move up another patient.  So, now it’s coffee time! Yes!  I always go to Padovani’s.  It’s a cute little shop 2 doors down from the surgical center in Dole.  They have wonderful hand made gourmet chocolates, delicious cappuccinos and fresh muffins (my favorites are the pineapple and and mango)

Phillipe Padovani, owner and chef.

Phillipe Padovani, owner and chef.

Now, I usually wait about 45 minutes to an hour for the patient to be awake enough to perform suture adjustment on him.  So, I grab my usual bench and get to finalizing some charts on our electronic medical record system, EMA.  Paper charts are still way faster than electronic charting, but at least I don’t have to carry 25 charts with me in my bag.  It’s all on the iPad.  I am WAY behind, as usual

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9:45am-10: Perform suture adjustment.  I’ll do a separate post on this next month, but this is basically when I can fine tune the eye muscle surgery to make sure the eye is aligned exactly where I want it to be post-operatively.  My surgical coordinator in the office, Ronnie, is my scrub assistant in the OR when I operate at Eye Surgery Center and she is fantastic.  A real joy to work alongside.  And, the patients adore her as well.  She assists me with the suture adjustment as well.  I am lucky to have her as part of our team!

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Ronnie, surgical coordinator, scrub assistant and all around awesome girl!

I change and drive Ronnie and I back to the office.

10:30-12 pm.  All the fun, sexy stuff that goes into being a physician and administrator (that’s sarcasm, in case you can’t read into that).  Finish my charting, sign all the paperwork for the company 401K, talk to our financial adviser at Morgan Stanley about the conversion from Nationwide to Mass Mutual, decide upon profit sharing contributions.  Fun, fun, fun!

12-12:45 pm: Reconcile bank statement for July.  Try to locate a missing payroll report from that time period. Did I mention how much fun this stuff is?  Oops – forgot to bring leftovers from dinner to eat.  Thank goodness, one of my staff, Brandi, was kind enough to grab food for me so I can eat while at my desk.  I have the best staff.  But, quickbooks is still not working and syncing with my bank, even after spending 1 hour 38 minutes with them on the phone on my day off.  I’m not in a good mood.

Yes, this is my desk - 2 monitors, an iPad and tons of bank statements.  With a spicy poke!

Yes, this is my desk – 2 monitors, an iPad and tons of bank statements. With a spicy poke!

I’m a very neat person, but my desk at the office is always cluttered.  I think I’m just mid-project all the time.  I remember when they were filming the Hawaii National Bank commercial and they wanted to shoot an action shot of me working at my desk.  I started cleaning my desk and they said “No, no, keep it.  It’s more authentic”.  OK, so now, it’s out there, I have a messy desk.

12:45: First patient is ready for me to see. Steady stream of patients until 3:45.

3:45 pm: My gorgeous girlfriend, Amelia, arrives for our cosmetic event we are having that, yikes, starts in 15 minutes!  We’re having a high tea party with stations for colored contact lenses, Botox, and hair/make-up by Amelia.  And, I have to help get everything set up pronto, though my office manager, Sara, has already done a ton.  I kind of fell into doing Botox about 7 years ago.  I was meeting with Thomas, the rep for Botox to ask about purchasing Botox for medical purposes (strabismus surgery) and he asked if I considered doing cosmetic Botox.  My training in cosmetic Botox was injecting my attendings with the leftover  Botox that we had used for medical reasons (since it has to be thrown away anyway).  And, I do enjoy it – I don’t ever want to be a primary cosmetic surgeon, but it does help people feel happier with how they look.  Most of my patients, are moms of the kids I examine for their eyes!

4-6 pm: Cosmetic event.  It’s a great turnout and all of the guests have a blast.

 

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My friend, Amelia, performing a mini-makeover. Who wouldn’t want to look like this girl?

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Our optician, Joel, doubles as a personal butler.

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Dr. Bossert explains the technology behind the new colored contact lenses

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My friend and I, with our hair styled by Amelia.

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6:10 pm:  Yowser, I was supposed to leave 10 minutes ago for my son’s 1st grade orientation, which got rescheduled at the last minute.  I stuff some sandwiches on a plate and eat while I drive.

6:30-7:10: 1st Grade Orientation.  I’m an hour late.  It started at 5:30, but at least my husband made it there on time.  The kids each drew a picture for us.  Here’s my son’s.

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“Do not feel bad if you come late ”  Uggh.  The guilt of being a working Mom!

7:30 pm: Back at home.  My oldest and youngest are asleep.  But, my middle child takes forever to fall asleep.  He comes out when we get home and asks for a massage.  He’s such a high energy boy, so I started doing nightly massages with essential oil to help calm him down.  Now, he expects it and chooses his scent.  Sorry, future daughter-in-law!

8:00 pm: All kids asleep! I settle in on the couch to do some Netflix binge watching while I do, what else?, finish charts!

 

 

 

As many of you know, I have 3 children.

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We found out we were pregnant with my oldest son the first weekend we moved to Honolulu.  We had just taken over Honolulu Eye Clinic, and out of nowhere, I came up with the idea to have a nursery in our office.  My husband thought I was crazy, but I figured, we are the owners, we can do what we want!  And, I also predicted (correctly, as it turns out), that Hawaii is so family centric, so focused on ohana, that I didn’t think patients would mind.  Plus, since I am a pediatric ophthalmologist, there were going to be kids crying from dilating drops anyway, what’s one more kid?

At the back end of the office, there was this room which Dr. Edwards was just using as a storage space.  I told Jeff I thought this would be the perfect nursery.  He didn’t have the vision I did and had a hard time imagining it.  He said “We’re going to put our first born in a storage closet?”.

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It was definitely a bit of a mess.  The 2 nice things about the space was that it was pretty large and that it was right across the hall from the pediatric waiting room. (which we stayed up until midnight before our first day putting together).

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Pediatric waiting room at Honolulu Eye Clinic

 

So, after craig’s listing everything in the room and reorganizing it all, we had a blank slate.  The room is actually bigger than the nursery we have at home. I kept everything pretty simple.  Just some paint on the walls and I found a comfy chair to nurse in off of craig’s list.  I was given a second hand pack and play which fit better in the room than a crib.  Then off to Target for a couple rugs and a changing table.

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Hard to believe it’s the same room ,right? I made some green curtains from fabric from Walmart to hide all the storage we still needed to keep in the room.DSC_0178I cut the top off cardboard letters and filled them with fake flowers from Ben Franklin.

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Lots of books from garage sales! You can never have too many books

It was so wonderful to have my kids close by when I was nursing.  It really helped me go back to work sooner, because I wasn’t worried about who was watching my children.  We were so blessed to find a wonderful nanny, Gabi.  And, I just scheduled a block in my schedule mid-morning and mid-afternoon to breastfeed.  It was ideal.  I never had to pump or worry about not producing enough milk.  Though the downside was that none of my 3 kids ever learned to take a bottle, they were very spoiled!  Our nanny would take the kids for walks, and when they were older to activities like Wee Play, Ohana Music Together, Children’s Discover Center, Aquarium, Hawaii State Library, Honolulu Zoo.  Queen’s is so well centered, that a lot of things were walking distance.  So, as the babies got older, they weren’t actually in the office nursery for that long, but they would come back for lunch and nap, and just seeing them at those times was wonderful too.  Gabi moved to the mainland when Nikhil was a little over a year old, and we were blessed again with another amazing nanny, Shawna.  She truly loved our kids as if they were her own.

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The other plus side of having a nursery in our office was that my children grew up with the wonderful girls we have on staff.  They call them their “Clinic Aunties”.  Again, another reason they could have been a little spoiled.  My kids love coming to the office because not only do they see us, but they adore seeing their aunties too!

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And, that’s what is truly wonderful about Hawaii – my patients loved seeing my kids, they wanted to see the nursery and be updated on how they were doing.  I have one patient who even made her appointment times with me around my baby’s nap schedule so she could see him!

My youngest child juststarted preschool last week – hard to believe!  So we will no longer need the nursery in the office and the plan is to turn it into an exam room next month.  I know, kids growing up is all a part of life, but clearing out this nursery definitely tugs at my heart strings.  And, no, we’re are 100% not having any more children!

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And for any other DIYers out there, here are some pics of our nursery at home.  It’s the same room, just decorated differently.  For Taj’s nursery below, my mom made the crochet airplane mobile with sewed in musical buttons.  I painted the canvas with Taj’s name in Tamil and his Chinese name as well.

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Taj’s cultural/travel themed nursery.

When we had Arya, we moved Taj to another room and I really DIY’ed everything from the crib bedding (thanks Mom!), to the felt mermaid crib mobile (made that while sitting in the doctor’s office during my pregnancy), hand stenciled curtains for Arya’s room with a coral paisley (absolutely never again – want to get back pain? then hand stencil curtains when you’re 36 weeks pregnant and then sew them with black out liner), paint stick mirror, gallery wall from old frames that I got for free from Pictures Plus and spray painted gold.  For some reason, I really love designing and decorating kids spaces.  I think they’re just so much fun and are meant to be creative spaces for your little one to grow.  It’s my stress relief from work!

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Arya’s gold glam mermaid nursery

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I realize I haven’t written many posts about being a Mom and so I thought it’s about time I did.  I’m not going to lie – juggling 3 kids younger than 5 years old, work and being a wife is challenging.  But, I actually think because of my new found commitment   obsession with being organized, our family is actually able to survive.  I love being an ophthalmologist, I would never give it up in a million years.  But, being a mother and wife are very important to me as well.  To do all of it, I have became extremely organized and have a million checklists for it all. I thought I’d share some of those tips with you.  My favorite blog for tips and tricks is www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com.  I started reading this blog when I was expecting Arya.  The author of this blog has 3 boys and at the time, I wasn’t sure if Arya was going to be a boy or a girl and I could very easily relate to her need to tame the clutter.  Now, I don’t have the time or energy to spend hours making beautiful labels for everything as many mommy blogs out there do.  I need a system in place to make my life easier, that’s it.  So, here they are, things that have helped me stay organized and allowed us to function as a family.

 

1. Getting Ready in the Morning

Any mom knows this can be extremely tough.  Get yourself dressed, get the kids all packed and ready to go so that you’re not late for work.  My oldest son thrives on routine and schedules (actually I think all kids do), so I made this checklist for him, borrowed from here.  He’s 5 years old, so he’s really old enough to be helping get himself ready for school.  Heck, by the time I was 11 years old, I had to pack my own lunch the night before school!  And, he loves this list.  I laminated it so he can check it off with a dry erase marker.  Often, he will tell me if I’ve done something out of order (I mentioned he loves routine, right?).

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In addition, I have checklists for what goes into each child’s backpack.  I created this because my husband always wanted to help during the morning dash, but he was always asking me “What do I need to pack for them?”  If I have to tell him, then I can just do it myself, so instead I made checklists.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If they have activities for the day, I have checklists for those bags too – swim bag, karate, etc.  I won’t bore you with those.  But, everything is packed and ready to go the night before.

2.  Mail/clutter

I hate mail.  I’m not sure why, but I just can’t stand going through junk mail and paying bills.  I pay the bills at the office just fine, but home bills are another story.  To curb all the mail/bills/multitude of artwork my children bring home from school, I created a filing system.  I basically scoured pinterest and did a combination of things that worked for us.  All mail/art goes into the gold tray when I walk in the door.  Then, I sort it into this wall hanging unit which is set up in our office nook.  It seems to work – haven’t lost bills so far!

 

 

3.  Toys (Clean-up)

I realized I was spending about an hour a each night cleaning up toys, organizing, etc and like Norma Ray, I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore.  The boys are in preschool and at school, they clean up their toys beautifully, so why not at home?  I love baskets for toys and now all the baskets have labels on them, so the boys know where everything goes.

4.  Meals

I think this is probably the most difficult to do for working Moms.  My kids want to eat at 5:30 pm, they’re starving by then.  So, I need to have as much of the prep work done before I get home so that I can cook in a flash.  To stay organized, I use this meal planner – laminated cards with the recipes on one side and a list of the ingredients on the back and reference number for where the recipe is (Pinterest, particular recipe book, all recipes.com.  I sit down every Sunday and plan out the week, then I can just flip over the card and write out my shopping list from the ingredients).  I have color coded the cards – gray = crockpot, blue = pasta, green = grill, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I painted a magnetic board with chalkboard paint and hung it in my kitchen.  I have a little magnet chalkboard container in which I keep the meal cards.

So, those are just a few of my organizational systems.  My house certainly is not a well oiled machine.  There are days where we feel like we barely keep it together, but these things help us juggle it all!

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