Friday, January 28, 2011

Together again

Amelia, Meredith and I flew to Bend, Oregon and reunited with Malin for the next week (it's been just over 5 weeks since we've seen each other). While he's working, we'll still enjoy some cross-country skiing, swimming, running, and just being together. And of course the girls are excited to play with Grammie again. The girls and I left Papa to fend for himself until my Mom returns from Haiti Feb 2nd. It really has been so good to be geographically closer to our family for a while.

Monday, January 24, 2011


By the time this is posted Mom will have already been in Haiti one week--which means I was remiss and should've posted sooner. For quite a while my Mom has actively supported and participated in a ministry called Children of the Promise ( which provides care for orphans in Haiti. They both seek adoptive parents and support Haitian family members trying to care for orphans. I've lost track of the exact number of times Mom has been to Haiti, but sufficient to say she has made a long-term commitment to this ministry through short term service, constant fundraising and awareness. Her passion for these children testifies to Christ's call to care for orphans and I'm proud of her service. This time she traveled with her sister Julie and we appreciate prayers for them and the team they are working with. Meredith's prayers for Nana go something like this, "Dear Jesus, Help Nana in Haiti. Help her know she can't stay with the babies forever that we need her here. Don't let her stay there forever. Amen."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

God made me that way....

As I carried Meredith to the car after swimming lessons she said, "Wouldn't it be great if we had a bathroom in our car?" I said, "No, it wouldn't be great because guess who would have to clean it!" She retorted that then we could not only "tinkle" in the bathroon, but in the car as well and that would be fun particularly since "we can't go potty in the hot tub or the pool." I teased her about being one of the silliest 4 year olds I've ever known. She said, "Mom, I just came out like that. That's what God made me."

I think she's right. But have often wondered what parts of my personality God made and therefore are pleasing before Him and what parts of my personality arise from a sinful heart. Sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times I'm not so sure. When does driveness change from admirable to annoying or harmful to people around you? And there have been times I've heard, "God made me that way," as some pseudo-religous reason to engage in something like gossip. It'd be convenient if that phrase provided a spiritual exempt when we don't want to aknowledge wrong-doing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Taking the oral boards in Dallas last Thursday was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. It started with snow in Seattle (seriously, how often does it snow in Seattle?) and an hour delay which meant normally I would've missed my connection in Denver, but we had an "unusually strong tail wind" and made-up over an hour of time in route. Then Laura's Aunt Judy graciously met me at the airport in Dallas and showed me the highlights of the city and took me out for BBQ and a souffle. I don't think I've ever had souffle before and it was exquisite. Nothing like an amazing salvatory experience to distract from a test. After a near sleepless night, followed by a morning run, I put on the suit and shoes on the my friend Jill lent me (I'm so lucky to have a friend with good taste and a suit my size!).

The next part was 3 hours of gruelling questioning. Some questions I anticipated, most I did not. Naturally there were questions I thought of much better answers too after the test which ate at me for the next 5 days.

I boarded a plane that night and went to Denver to visit Ana for an extended weekend. Ana did everything she could to distract me from the obvious question: did I pass or fail? We had a great time eating-out, attending a canvas and cocktails class, running, shopping and generally just being together. She was patient with my perseveration on several board questions.

After returning to Seattle Jill brought me to the ferry and Dad drove me home. Amelia had waited-up and greeted me with chatter about all the fun they had with Nana and Papa and the exciting weekend staying with Auntie Laura, Uncle Dan and Si. Meredith was asleep and only said, "I'm too tired to pray tonight."

As much as I tried to concentrate on other things the only thing that eased my anxiety was reading this morning the word "Passed" on my ABOG page.

Reflecting on the studying, travel and test I see how many people supported and encouraged me in this process... perhaps you see a bit of that in reading this. I know also that there were many people, not as obvious to me, but just as important praying for clarity, calmness and confidence as I took the exam. Thank you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Miscellaneous Pictures

Making Gingerbread houses with Grammie (and snitching a little candy too).

Papa pouring out Washington State Clams, Mussels, & Shrimp steaming hot!

Christmas Prime Rib...enough to make a vegetarian tremble with fear.
Malin giving surfing (longboard) a try at Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon Coast. Let me say if it was me vs. the waves..the waves won the battle.

Meredith, Amelia, and Sara hiked the Sand-Dune twice.

Partial Cichowski family picture (and Whidbey the dog).
The cousins with Amelia, Meredith, & Josiah.

Friday, January 7, 2011

So what is my job

It seems only fair after the last post to describe what a specialist in Pelvic Reconstruction does. First, the terms "vaginal rejuvination" and "designer vagina" are not recognized by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist and the procedures are also not sanctioned (although they are commonly presented on a certain TV real life series). So while it may be sort of funny to think of titles for cosmetic surgery of the vagina, that's really not what I am training to do.

Reconstruction is not synonomous with cosmetic. In fact the patients I'll be focusing on are patients with fecal or urinary incontinence and/or vaginal, urethral, bladder, uterine or rectal prolapse. These problems often occur from childbirth and are certainly not funny. And where medical care is limited, women can also develop fistulas from traumatic childbirth.

Sometime I'll write more about why I've chosen to focus on medical issues that predominantly impact quality of life, but for now I hope that clarifies my future area of expertise.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What do you do?

I think there's certain jobs out there that when mentioned sort of end the conversation. Perhaps I'm entering a career like that, here was a recent conversation that occurred when I picked Amelia up from school.

"Are you Jan's daughter?"


"Hi. I'm .... I served with your Mom on the school board. You're a doctor right and you've been in Kenya?"

"Yes, I am."

"What are your plans, are you returning to Kenya?"

"Well, we are still interested in medical missions, but I'm going to start a fellowship in pelvic reconstruction."

"Oh, so you're an orthopedic surgeon?"

"No, I'm a gynecologist."

A look of surprise, a slight smile and then, "Well, I better go get my kids."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Yesterday, when I found Amelia's Christmas gift in disarray I asked Meredith, "Did you play with your sister's American girl doll?" Meredith cowered and said, "Mommy, it takes a lot of time to learn how to be obedient." I tried to hide my grin and remind her that that isn't an excuse to do something you know is wrong.

But Meredith is right. Obedience takes time to learn and involves failure. Particularly when it comes to obeying God. Scripture is filled with examples of people failing to follow God and God's forgiveness following, but only after repentance. And perhaps that's the bigger lessons I'm trying to instill in my children, not that they can be perfect and obey every rule, but that repentance is part of obedience.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Friess Christmas Picture

At Cape Kiwanda near Pacific City, Oregon on a sunny but cold windy day on the Oregon Coast.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year

Happy New Year! We celebrated by playing games until 930pm. That was late enough for Meredith and Amelia and then I decided I shouldn't stay-up too much later. Good thing I went to bed because Meredith woke-up early as usual and came to say, "I need breakfast and I can't wait until Papa is up." We're looking forward to starting the year with family the "thing" we missed most over the past 2 years in Kenya.

The girls have noticed a lot of things that are different about America. Amelia, in particular, notices all the signs and names of stores (in part because there are so many more choices of places to shop). She asked me why AM/PM was named that, I explained it's because it's a convenience store open all the time, day and night. Later on she said she didn't want a job where she worked all day and all night. I said, "Like Mommy's job as an obstetrician?" "No," she replied, "Like the people who work at AM/PM." Amelia enjoys a good night's sleep so I think New Year's will never be one of her favorite holidays!