Vail – A Winter Wonderland

Okay, so I really prefer warm weather vacations.  However, having just returned from a week in Vail, Colorado, I will have to admit that the area was breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope to someday return in the summer to see what the mountain landscape looks like without all the snow.

Vail Village is a charming place, with cobblestone roads and picturesque ski lodges. Throughout the town are dozens of sculptures, wall murals and lighted decorations. My first day I spent about two hours walking around Vail Village, Lionshead Village, Cascade Village and Golden Peak.

This was our first week-long vacation in almost ten years where we were not staying someplace with a kitchen.  This meant no grocery shopping, no cooking and no dishes to wash! With restaurants abounding, each evening we selected a different place to eat.

  • Lancelot Restaurant – great weinerschnitzel
  • Almresi – here we had Austrian Hutessen – beef cooked on a flat-iron at the table, kind of a cross between grilling and sauteing
  • Up the Creek – awesome Arugula salad and Tortilla soup
  • Fall Line – the tastiest filet I have ever had!
  • Alpenrose – great German restaurant (forgot to take photos of the food here).Alpenrose

Not being a skier, I took my snowshoes along and went on several long walks.

My first trek was a guided walk through the Ford Botanical Gardens.  This walk was only about 2 miles total but was very educational. The naturalist gave some insights into the trees and plants that grow in the area.  Even though the average annual snowfall in Vail is 169 inches, the area is considered a high desert.  Due to the dry air, the snow sublimates rather than melts.  So, the amount of water available to plants is limited.  Even so, there are many lovely evergreens making the winter scenery prettier than in Minnesota with our deciduous trees.  110

On my subsequent snowshoeing walks, I headed each direction out of Vail Village.  The Gore Creek runs through Vail, so I followed the creek west one day and east the next day.  Each day, I walked for just under two miles and then headed back to the village.

For my final walk (without snowshoes), I rode Gondola One up the hill and then followed Gitalong Road and Vail Village Catwalk back down.  This path, with a few treks to get closer to some wildlife, was just under six miles in length.  Luckily it was downhill.  Unexpectedly, the downward movement made some of my muscles rather sore.

On my excursions I saw lots of wildlife as well.

We stayed at the Gasthof Gramshammer, which featured classic European ski lodge architecture.  Between a 2am fire alarm going off, the room thermostat stuck on high (we slept with the patio door open), and a constant humming noise, it was an interesting place to stay.   

Free Hugs

It’s wond’rous what a hug can do.
A hug can cheer you when you’re blue.
A hug can say, “I love you so”
or, “Gee I hate to see you go.”

A hug can soothe a small child’s pain
and bring a rainbow after rain.
The hug! There’s just no doubt about it,
we can scarcely survive without it.

A hug delights and warms and charms,
it might be why God gave us arms.

Hugs are great for Fathers and Mothers,
sweet for Sisters, swell for Brothers.
Chances are some favorite Aunts
love them more than potted plants.

Kittens crave them. Puppies love them.
Heads of State are not above them.
A hug can break the language barrier
and make the dullest day seem merrier.

No need to fret about the store of ’em.
The more you give the more there are of ’em.
So stretch those arms without delay, and
Give Someone a Hug Today!
From – The Serious Teddy Bear

Happy National Hug Day!

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2020 is Finally Here

SMILE

As a pediatric dentist, I have come across all kinds of patients and parents.  Most of the families I see are truly delightful to work with.  Some of my patients are so sweet and kind that they make me really happy that I had chosen this profession.  Still others provide a daily dose of humor that makes me laugh so hard that I have tears in my eyes.

Most parents express their appreciation for the care we provide to their child in some very challenging circumstances. However, occasionally a parent can make my job very difficult – overindulgent parents expecting miracles as we treat their “little angels”.  These parents provide no discipline at home and then expect the trip to the dentist to be like a trip to Disney World and are disappointed when their overprotected child cannot cope when having treatment done. Their disappointment comes out as anger towards me, the dentist. 

About five years ago, I had a week filled with parents like this.  By the end of that week, I was exhausted. That weekend, I came to the conclusion that I did not want to do this job forever.  To give myself a mental lift, I decided to settle on a end date, i.e. my retirement date. Taking multiple things into consideration, I thought I would aim for five years.  Being the summer of 2015, this meant I would plan to retire sometime in 2020.  Thinking a bit more about it, I settled on Monday, November 2nd.  My first day of work with Dentistry for Children and Adolescents was November 2nd, 2000.  So, this date would mark the twentieth anniversary of my starting with the practice. Twenty years in the year 2020 just sounded right.  Over the past five years, when dealing with difficult parents, thinking about this date has been my way of coping.

Well, today marks ten months, to the day, of my selected retirement date.  My office manager asked me to write a short letter to distribute to families over the next months as they come in for their dental appointments. Today, I put pen to paper (or rather – fingers to the keyboard) and wrote out that letter.

Dear Parents and Guardians,

For the past twenty years, I have been blessed to work with my amazing partners and staff at Dentistry for Children and Adolescents.  During those years, I have had the privilege to provide dental care for your children.  It has been a pleasure to have developed professional relationships and, in some cases, friendships with the families I have treated.

Over my life, my career has taken a few “turns in the road”, starting with teaching and research at the U of M, to private practice where I have enjoyed guiding patients to having the best dental health that is possible.  Looking ahead, in November I will be transitioning to the next phase of my life.  What that phase will involve has yet to be finalized.  I have many hobbies and interests, some of which I have highlighted in my personal blog (ericksonsheirlooms.com).  If you want to follow along with what I am doing, please do so. I have other ideas that I may pursue as well.

Thank you for your confidence in me over the years.  I wish you and your children all the best in the future.

Sincerely,

Pamela R Erickson, DDS, PhD

While I will enjoy the next ten months as a pediatric dentist, I look forward to the freedom that retirement will give me.

The end of a decade

It’s the last day of 2019 and the busy holiday season is nearly over.  Since I am not someone who normally spends New Year’s Eve at a party, I am relaxing in my craft room and reflecting upon the last year.

The highlights of our year were put together into a short slideshow and interactive crossword puzzle that was sent to family and friends as an electronic Christmas card.

 

As seen in the video, it was a busy year filled with many happy days.  There were, however,  some sad days as well.  As previously mentioned, my father passed away a few weeks ago.  Earlier this year, we also said good-bye to cat, Squigglez, and then a few months later our little yorkie, Duke.  These two pets had been in our home for many, many years.

Reflecting back on the year, I have had some fun family adventures, started a new hobby and completed many projects, some of which I have not written about.

It always seems a bit overwhelming to put into words what I have done. Recently, I mentioned this to a friend.  Her comment was that I should do smaller, daily blogs – briefly writing about what I did each day.  I said I thought this might be a good idea, but I worried about annoying everyone by overloading their inboxes. So, that idea will wait for some future date. 

Looking ahead, this next year is expected to be an eventful year.

My prayer is that your year will be happy and healthy!

All Things Grinch

Last December during a longer lunch break, I walked by a uniform store. Glancing in the window of the store, a couple items caught my eye.  Displayed high on one of the walls, I saw long sleeved red scrub jackets.  On another display below the jackets were bright green scrub pants.  When I saw them, it made me think – Grinch.  When I went into the store, I discovered that the displays were not directly adjacent, it was just an illusion created by looking through the window.  That visual image, however, gave me a creative idea for work, so I purchased a red scrub jacket and a pair of green pants. I have worn both of these items at work, but not together.img_4295 Now that the Christmas season is here, it was time to put them together.

To create the costume, I designed an digital embroidery pattern (using Art and Stitch) based upon a Grinch face in a child’s coloring book.  The face was embroidered onto green fleece and sewn, like a visor, inside the front edge of a pre-made Santa hat.  To complete the costume, I even found matching green gloves and red Poinsettia shoe on Amazon.

Wearing the costume at work has proven to be a good behavior management strategy.  For the past week, I have had great patient and parent cooperation, even with patients who have not been good in the past!

img_4307A few days after I made my visor, I was shopping at Target.  When walking past the boy’s clothing section, I noticed some green gloves that were the exact shade of the fleece I had used.  Since I had excess fleece, I purchased two pair of gloves and made a couple Grinch hats.  To complete the winter wear sets, I embroidered a triple heart (because, according to the story, the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes), and made neck warmers.  I will be donating these two sets of “Grinch Gear” to the Hats and Mittens collection next year.

For holiday fun, I decided to make some Grinch treats to share at work and with my sons.  Here are a couple recipes:

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Grinch Shortbread Cookies (makes 36)
1 cup  butter, room temperature
1 cup granular sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup Gluten-free flour
1 cup  Almond Flour
green food coloring
Red Jolly Rancher candies

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.  Add vanilla, egg and food coloring and mix until creamy.  Whisk together flours and salt.  Gradually mix dry ingredients into batter. Chill for at least one hour.  Roll out dough to 1/4″ on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out a larger heart with a small heart in the middle.  Place a Jolly Rancher in the middle heart hole.  Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before removing from parchment paper.

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Grinch Fur – aka Haystacks (makes 36)
12 ounces dark green Candy Melts
12 ounces vibrant green Candy Melts
1 1/2 cups peanuts
12 ounces Chow Mien Noodles
Candy Hearts

Directions:
Place Candy melts in an 10 cup microwave safe  glass bowl.  Microwave approximately 2 minutes.  Stir well until all pieces of candy are melted and blended together.  Stir in peanuts and Chow Mien Noodles.  Place by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and top each with a candy heart. Refrigerate until set.  Store in an airtight container.

Grinch Poppers (see my original post 12-22-18)

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Go Rest High On That Mountain

IMG_2193aJust over two weeks ago, my father fell and suffered a major head injury.  This injury ultimately led to his passing on November 21st (view his obituary). The rapidity in his decline was not expected. My dad had several major health incidences over the past years (cancer, heart disease, strokes, uncontrolled diabetes, etc) from which he always bounced back.  Having been through so many of these, his quickly succumbing to the effects of the fall was very surprising to me.

As I prepare for his memorial service today, I have been reflecting back on my years with him.

Growing up, my father was not an easy man to live with.  However, he did have a large impact on the person I am today.  As a child, I would often retreat to a hidden quiet spot in the basement of our home to avoid his unwanted words and action.  In this space, I would try to be as quiet as possible and thus kept several books, including some of our encyclopedia set, to occupy my time. My time was spent learning new facts and information, which ultimately helped me succeed in school.  To this date, I don’t think my father every knew that I had a hidden spot high on the storage shelf behind several large boxes.

As a high school junior, my father’s personality contributed to my decision to graduate from school a year early and attend college as a seventeen year old.  There were many things that my father had said and done that were inappropriate.  My life’s goal was to personally and professionally excel and make my own path that would be different from the path my father would have preferred.  College seemed an excellent way to accomplish this.

While in graduate school and for several years after graduating, I pulled away from my family, focusing instead on my career and raising my own children.  The things my father had done were wrong and I wanted no part of it.

However, as an adult, I have learned that we all have the ability to live a lifestyle of forgiveness.  The depth of forgiveness we have received in Jesus can be the foundation for our own love and forgiveness. In order to love to greater depths, we must continuously reflect on God’s overwhelming forgiveness and mercy to us.

In Him we have . . . the forgiveness of sins . . . Ephesians 1:7

I realized that I cannot change the past.  But, I could forgive my father and create a new future for us. So, over the past ten years, I have rebuilt a relationship with my father.  Our relationship was not a strong father-daughter relationship. But, I did love my father, spent time with him and will miss him.