Dr. Molly’s Weblog

Molly O’Shea starts a revolution in pediatric care

Brown? Tan? Green? Blue? aaarrgghhhh!!!! June 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr Molly OShea @ 10:28 pm

Amidst the dust from the hardwood floor installation and the stripes of paint color options on the wall, the gorgeous granite counter tops and maple kitchen cabinets a home is emerging. Light suffuses the living room, streaming through the kitchen and the eye is drawn to the windows at the back of the house in the family room that overlook the back yard and golf course. The outdoors feels like a part of the house with the huge wall of windows.

It is amazing to think that a mere 29 days ago this process began. In just under a month we’ve opened a wall between the living room and rest of the house, gutted the kitchen, took all the paneling down in the family room, built new soffits, hung drywall in the kitchen and family room, laid new hardwood floors and patched the old ones, gutted a bathroom and rough plumbed it, put in new electrical in the kitchen and bathroom, found most of our appliances on Craigslist and bought a couple retail, had the new kitchen cabinets installed last week, granite counter tops in today, and yet despite all of this I still can’t seem to decide on the paint colors for the rooms. I had the painter do the master bedroom first and hated the blue I chose and now I am paralyzed it seems. After buying 9 quarts of different browns, tans and a couple of greens and blues, I have yet to feel great about the any of the colors. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I should just choose a few and be done with it and yet it feels somehow like the most important thing. I chose the kitchen cabinets and granite in less than an hour, the bathroom vanity, tile and fixtures in just about the same amount of time and now I am hobbled by colors. Ugh.

Joe and Lori at Acorn Kitchen and Bath have been amazing. Ahead of schedule at every step and even though there was a little glitch when the cabinets arrived with the wrong drawers and slides, they were quick to get a solution moving. They are efficient and their crew is great, leave the place spotless and since it seems they are all named ‘Mike’ it makes it easy for me to remember! Why can’t I be as efficient and neat and confident? Why has the issue of the wall colors been so difficult for me? I’ve designed an office that’s bright and cheery. I chose the colors for the space in a matter of about a day. This is just feels so hard!

I could get all psychological about it and recognize that for the first time since my divorce I am making a home. A long lasting space that will be ours and although I am not ambivalent about it, it is daunting and exciting and I guess I just want it to be if not perfect, at least really close. I love the kitchen and bathroom and love the floors and the openness removing the wall has brought but I just can’t commit to the paint colors. I see parents like this all the time in the office who worry that the small choices they make will have huge repercussions for their child and lack confidence when in reality the everyday choices they make won’t make or break their kids or their role as parents. I see them wavering about whether to introduce fruits or veggies first, whether to have a babysitter or not, whether they should let their toddler cry it out when he wakes up at night. In reality, none of these are make or break choices in the big scheme of things and yet they feel huge to some parents. For me, it is whether Chipmunk or Dusty Trail is the right brown for the living room. I need a dose of my own pep talk medicine and just relax a bit. I need to remember that a home isn’t made or ruined by a color on the wall. I need to stop buying quarts of paint and just make a decision. I need to piss or get off the pot as the saying goes.

Hmmmm, the pep talk isn’t really working…. I still don’t love any of the colors I have tried out on the wall and so I still have a huge urge to return to the paint store for a slightly creamier brown and tan for the walls…. Maybe just a couple more quarts……


May 26?! Yikes and Hooray! May 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr Molly OShea @ 12:09 pm

Yesterday I emailed Joe D’Angelo my kitchen and bath contractor to ask when they planned to start the kitchen installation. We took possession of the house on May 3rd and even though we had met before that date, it wasn’t until later that week that I made the kitchen cabinet and granite decisions so I figured it would be June or so before the install would begin. In the meantime, we have talked to and hired the painter and the guys to do the hardwood floor repair and installation and have gotten estimates from a few dry wall guys. Apparently the economy isn’t as bad off as I thought since the dry wall guys are all pretty darn busy. The ones we had talked to could all do the work (there are a bunch of smallish jobs totaling a few days all together) but the start dates were in early June for them. No problem I thought to myself! We had finished the gutting of the kitchen and even though there is drywall work and soffit work to be done before the cabinets get installed we had plenty of time.

Apparently I was wrong! Joe and his crew are on the ball and because I am using stock cabinets (very nice ones but not custom made) they are pretty easy to get. Joe fabricates the granite counter top onsite in Pontiac so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when he emailed back to say that he has scheduled the carpenter for May 26th to start the install. YIKES! and HOORAY!

In panic mode, after having already made an emergency trip to the house in the middle of my patient time to meet the flooring guys and let them in to let the wood acclimate, I put Tony on the job and he called the guy who had done the drywall at his house several years ago. Dave met Tony at the house yesterday afternoon and can do the work! He’s not a young guy and had mostly retired hence his availability. He gave a list of supplies to Tony and said he would start on Wednesday this week. Wow. Now we have gone from a leisurely week following the demolition work this weekend to a hectic time of running to and from Home Depot and renting a truck to haul the stuff we need to the house for the work.

One thing you need to know about me: I’m cheap. We are serving as the general contractor on the job and doing a lot of the less skilled work to minimize costs and frankly to get a decent work out without a gym. But I’m learning this cheap quality has some downsides…..First, when I realized we were going to have to get a ton of stuff from Home Depot today, I pulled out a 10% off coupon that I got when I got the utilities in the new house. That was good! The downside is that I then decided I didn’t want to ‘waste’ the coupon and drove back and forth from the house measuring doorways and the small bathroom we are not gutting to choose doors, a bathroom vanity, counter top, and toilet. Did you know that you can call Home Depot with the SKU numbers and quantities of the items you want and they’ll pull them all for you and all you have to do is load them on a truck and head out?! Awesome!

So last night I stayed up late perusing the Home Depot site making selections of stuff I won’t see in person until it’s bought hoping I like them (returning them if I don’t) just to use the 10% off coupon. I gave the list to Tony with drywall and studs and framing materials, toilets and vanities and counter tops, and a door or two and that wonderful man has spent half his morning roaming around Home Depot making sure the building materials and bathroom stuff is right and he is arranging to get the stuff to the house later today. Hectic time for both of us but we sure don’t want to be the stalling factor for getting the kitchen installed late next week!

A couple of funny little things we learned about the house yesterday: the hallway lights are fed by a circuit from the master bathroom that had been disconnected in the demolition making measuring things at night really hard. Second we learned that a switch on the ceiling in the basement near the furnace actually does activate something: a light in the crawlspace! Lastly we learned the the breaker that says ‘oven’ really means ‘oven’ and even though the oven is disconnected the wires sure are live. OUCH! There was a bit of a ‘boom’ when we turned that breaker on trying to figure out how to activate the hall lights and the metal box with the capped wires inside was singed. Better the metal box than my eyebrows! A recapping of the wires was done so not a shred of metal could touch any other shred of metal and voila! no more electricity arcs!

It was a very busy day yesterday and today will be too as I go to the house after work to unload 2 billion things bought today before Mairen’s band concert tonight. What I want to know is how did Tim ‘the Toolman’ Taylor’s lovely assistant look so good on so little sleep and nighttime runs to the hardware store??? There isn’t a tool in the world to lift up the bags under my eyes!


Demolition of the new house underway May 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr Molly OShea @ 8:51 pm

It’s been an exciting time lately! Just over a year ago the kids and I moved into a great house we have been renting near Seaholm and had fallen in love with the neighbors and the street itself. I love hearing the band playing and the football or baseball games from the back yard but as many good things this too is coming to an end. Although I am sad to leave my neighbors, I am excited to be moving into a permanent place at the end of June near Lincoln Hills golf course (just about half a mile away) and we are in the midst of renovating it before we move in.

This weekend was “Demolition Weekend” and friends and family came over to disassemble the cabinets, take down a wall between the kitchen and living room, and remove all the paneling in the family room. Heat ducts and electrical needed to be moved, glue from the tiles needed to be scraped off, soffits undone, cabinets removed, carpet and padding and tacks removed in preparation for the hardwood floors that are going to be installed next week. It was a lot of work but we got most of it done! With the Gallucci demolition crew (Tony, his brothers and dad), my brother Tom and friend Kay we set to work. By the end of the day Saturday we had the family room paneling out, a window removed, the carpet and padding out, the wall nearly done and the kitchen cabinets out. Whew! A giant pile of splintered wood with sharp nails and stinky carpet lay strewn all over the garage but at least the rooms were somewhat cleared!

After a relaxing night out with friends seeing a comedy show at Go Comedy in Ferndale, we returned to the scene of the crime today to finish up the work. All the fun stuff was done yesterday….nothing left for a sledge hammer or even a reciprocating saw to do so we spent the day with needle nose pliers, hammers, and string taking out carpet padding staples, hammering down nails in the demolished wood and combining them in bundles with string to ready them for trash day. Strange how fun and even oddly sexy it all seems on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, in real life it’s a little different. Lots of dust and broken saw blades, and searching all over the place for the one flat head screwdriver we all have to share was our experience. No great music or heart string pulling stories to share, just sweat and loud hammering and the buzz of a saw ringing in our ears. You never see anyone with tiny tack tools kneeling on the floor moving one inch at a time to remove 10 million carpet padding staples from a subfloor on TV. Nothing sexy about that.

All in all though we made a huge amount of progress and even though there’s a little more electrical to do, a stud to replace (not a guy, a wood stud), and a vent to move we got a ton done.

Last week I spent my day off at Acorn Kitchen and Bath (the contractor we chose to install the kitchen and redo the master bathroom)having a marathon session with Lori and Joe and I chose all the cabinets, granite, faucets, tile for the bathroom, sinks, toilet, vanity, and fixtures and we will be ready for their end of the project to start as soon as the materials are in! Joe D’Angelo and Lori Salinas have been great to work with and with a tight schedule (I have to be in by June 30th) and a tight budget and they’ve been working hard to make sure we stay on target. I’m looking forward to working with them more as the install phase begins in a few weeks!

I’ll still be spending evenings and weekends at the house doing little things like taking down curtains and wire closet organizers but we are off to a great start! Now if anyone has ideas for a 1954 bathroom with peachy/tan tile that isn’t coming down I’d love to hear ’em!


Talking to your kids about serious health issues March 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr Molly OShea @ 4:57 pm

This week has been a weird and difficult one for my family. My brother Tom, 41, works for me four days a week and called me on Thursday (his day off) to ask what a heart attack feels like. Yikes. Not a question you want to be asked as a sister or a pediatrician. After having him high tail it to my office we found his blood pressure was sky high (but at least his EKG was normal) and I sent him to the ER for evaluation. He’s been in the hospital ever since. At first we thought he would be coming home Friday, then his tests weren’t so good. Then he was supposed to go home Saturday but when his cardiologist looked at the test results he kept him in the hospital until Monday to undergo a cardiac cath and a stent placement. Risky….

My kids love my brother Tom and like most other parents faced with a seriously ill relative, I wasn’t sure how much to tell them. I wasn’t sure if I should be vague or specific, honest or reassuring. I went with my gut and decided to tell the kids the whole truth. My kids are 9, 11, and 13 and so I told them that Uncle Tom had had something like a heart attack and that he would be staying in the hospital for several days for rest, testing and ultimately a procedure to fix his heart. The flood of questions began. Everything from ‘Will he live?’ (I hope so but I can’t be sure) to ‘Is he really lonely in the hospital?’ (Yes but he has us and his friends to visit and keep him company) to ‘Did this happen because he’s fat?’ (Yes in part, but Papa Vic also had a heart attack at a really young age and he wasn’t fat) to ‘Why do you have to spend so much time at the hospital when it is your only time away from work?’ (Because I love Tom. He’s my brother and we need each other. You kids need me too but right now Tom needs me more.) Each day as we got worse news, I would update the kids and tell them honestly what this all meant. We have been going together to the hospital to see him and they are amazed at how good he actually looks. We have been organizing our daily life around my visits and need to be with him and although it has been stressful for all of us, I believe this honesty has been a good thing for my kids.

At what age then do you share all this info? How old should a child be to visit at the hospital? How much of your own fear or sadness should you allow your kids to see? To what extent should they see the logistical challenges a sick relative presents? These are all tough questions. It is often difficult enough for adults to acknowledge our own feelings of fear or worry but to then share these feelings with our children can be that much more daunting. I encourage you to. I encourage parents to share their real feelings with their children all the time. Of course the purpose of sharing your fears or sad feelings is not to have your child feel any sense of responsibility for making you feel better, but rather for him to see that intense feelings are ok, that they can be shared and by sharing them you begin to feel more yourself again. You would never want to lean on your child emotionally but rather talk to them, using age appropriate language, about what’s going on and how you feel about it.

For kids under 5, sharing very intense feelings can be scary for the child but it is still important. You may not want to sob in front of your children, but telling even young children that their relative is very sick and needs special care is important. You can tell them that you are sad that the person is sick and feel like you wish there is more that you could do to help them. You can tell them you are a little worried but that he is in good hands with a team of doctors to figure out what has gone wrong and what can be done about it. Asking young children about what they may want to do is often heartening for parents. Kids aren’t bound by the same emotional restrictions we are and as such often will come up with wonderful ideas to brighten a sick person’s day or help those around that person feel better. Encourage your kids to follow through on their ideas to help others and who knows, you might feel a bit better yourself!

Kids under 5 may be intimidated by the hospital setting but if it is a close relative or friend that is sick, I would still encourage you to make a visit with your child. Try to time it when no tests are scheduled and keep the visit short. Talk your child through what you are seeing (the nurses and machines and IVs and other sick people) so they know it is ok to talk about all of that. Let the child decide how much contact, verbal or physical, she wants with the ill person and don’t force them to give the person a hug, for example. As you leave, emphasize how different a hospital is from a regular bedroom but that it is rest that the person needs. Encourage your child to talk and ask questions and answer them all as completely and honestly as you can. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth, kids usually have a much better sense of reality than we think and if you downplay everything when they can tell more is going on, they may not trust that you will tell them like it is later either.

It is never easy to have a sick relative but being open, honest, and emotionally available to your kids will make the process easier for all of you and set the groundwork for talking about all feelings, good or bad.


I have a house!!!! March 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr Molly OShea @ 11:32 am

This has been an exciting week.

Last weekend I decided it was time to find the house I will be moving to when the divorce is done and when I decide to do something, I DO something. I talked with the kids about what was most important to them and heard a resounding cry: our own bedrooms! I talked through the pros and cons of this: in my price range, the choice of 4 bedroom homes to rent in Birmingham schools is limited but even if it meant less living space, they wanted to each have their own bedroom. With that in mind, I went online to look at my options. My good friend Maureen Francis has been my real estate agent forever and about a month ago she had showed me 12 houses in my price range, one of which I loved. It had 4 bedrooms, a decent kitchen (important for me!) and was in the most ideal location, about a mile from my current home. I had put a lease offer in on that one then and didn’t get it so when I renewed my search last weekend (about a month later) if found slim pickings in my price range. Only 4 houses had four bedrooms in my price range in the Birmingham schools and I was discouraged.

I emailed and called Maureen and she set up walk throughs of these homes for last Sunday, late afternoon. Her husband Dima actually showed me the homes and I was determined to find a place. We went first to the place I liked the best online and walked through it. It was terrific and beautiful and had real charm. It was in Beverly Hills which meant I would have to drive all three kids to three different schools next fall every day they were with me. A drawback but not a deal breaker. This house did indeed have 4 bedrooms but 2 were on the second floor, one on the first, and one in the basement. All were nice sizes and beautifully done so that too was a drawback but not a deal breaker. The kitchen was large and had top of the line appliances (a huge plus) but the décor was a bit too European country for me but with the size and appliances, I knew I could make this house work. On we went to two more, near town, east of Woodward and although they had four bedrooms, the kitchens were very small. One had only 2 ½ feet of counter space! For a girl who loves to cook, this was indeed a deal breaker. One more possibility to see….in Westchester village….a perfectly good house with a decent kitchen but no charm. Quirky layout too, when you walk in the front door you are in the kitchen. Not off the list though as it had the bedroom space and a finished basement. We returned to the first house and I strolled through it again and even had a friend come through it and I decided this was the one I would put the lease offer in on.

Monday morning came and I excitedly waited to hear from Maureen about the house. She called around 10 only to tell me that the owner had accepted a different lease offer just yesterday! Oh man! I was disappointed but I really wanted this decision done and so as I considered whether to put a lease offer in on the Westchester village house or return to the drawing board and look at some of the three bedroom houses available, Maureen called me back. Believe it or not, the first house I loved weeks before was available for lease again and the agent called to see if I was still interested! Fantastic news! I quickly talked through the options with Maureen and a friend and decided that I was going to take the house I had originally fallen in love with. Although in my price range, it was at the upper end so I paused first before sealing the deal. But it had so many pros: less than a block from Seaholm for Mairen, on the Derby bus route for Declan, and a few houses down from Conall’s best friend. I loved the house too so I said yes! Now that it is done and the lease signed and the checks cashed, I am thrilled!

This is the first time I have ever lived on my own. Ever. I can’t wait! I am so excited to live in my own space, inhabit it as I want, decorate it at will, have my own place with my own rules and I will be the only one I have to consult about decisions. It is freeing to think that after half a life I will finally have a chance to be me, all the time. I love the thought of having friends and family over whenever I want and encouraging my kids to do the same.

I take occupancy on April 15th but probably won’t move in until early May when the divorce details are all worked out. That can’t come soon enough. I am ready to live my life as ME with the kids and my work and my family as my guideposts and supports. Bring it on!


More than a feeling February 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr Molly OShea @ 9:14 pm

A week ago I was excited. February break was about to start and my kids were going to be off all week. In an unusually organized tour de force, I had arranged to take a couple of days off work and pile the kids in the car and head to Chicago–well Skokie actually–to visit my best friend and former college roommate, Deena.

Deena is an amazing woman and friend. She and I were roommates at U/M way back in the dark ages when there was no wait at the computer centers on campus because everyone still typed their papers on Selectrics. Deena and I met on my first day of freshman year and we were fast friends despite or different backgrounds. Deena is a very conservative Jew and I am a very lapsed Catholic. She swore like a sailor, I blushed and said ‘Holy Cow!’. She attended every class and drank a lot of beer and I skipped class and drank a fair amount of beer. She got A’s in everything, I didn’t. And yet we became incredibly close friends and have remained so for over 25 years.

Our lives weren’t always in sync though. I married young, when I was 24, and she didn’t until she was 39 and as a result, we were at very different points in life for many years. She is an accomplished attorney and yet when she was in her early 30s, she took a year off from work and traveled the world, literally. She went from Europe to the Middle East to Australia to Hawaii and then back across the US for 12 months. She went on her own, not with a tour group or friends, and I was both envious and nervous for her. Deena is such a good person and friend that through her travels she met people with whom she still communicates regularly and one even traveled from Israel to attend her wedding. She is a true friend. Before she went on her world tour, she was consumed by work and admits that it was in part a compensation for the lack of depth in her personal life and she had become quite ‘independent’ and not in a good way. When she returned, she was relaxed and grounded and although she liked her work, she didn’t need to have that be her whole life, she wanted others in her life in a more complete way.

When she returned, we were more compatible again, she more relaxed in many ways and me older and more able to see the joys of the freedom her life provided. We continued to talk regularly, sometimes weekly and sometimes just a few times a year, all through our post college time. Several years ago, Deena found her soulmate in her husband Joe after waiting patiently for the absolute right man. He is a gem and I love him as I love her.

Deena and Joe have listened as I cried or raged over the last few years and have done so patiently and will love. They have held me and reassured me and treated me with kindness and love. They were the first I told that I was planning to file for divorce and Deena and Joe were not only supportive but sent me chocolates on the day I told Kevin I had filed knowing that would comfort me. They talked me through my decision, helped me weigh the options, and helped me see and accept that in order to be happy and truly myself this was the path I needed to take.

Last fall, after Deena and Joe knew I was filing but before the kids did, I took the kids with me to Deena’s stepson’s bar mitzvah (Joe’s son from a previous marriage). My kids have been to several bar mitzvahs but this one was the first in a very conservative community. They experienced the Hebrew Torah and prayers, Sam’s reflection on his Torah part and then saw a very traditional Kiddish lunch afterward. We went to the party in the evening (quite modern and fun) and my kids saw Deena and Joe in a way they never had before: as faithful parents and spouses with a community around them full of love and support. It was moving. We were planning to return for a quick visit this week of February break but decided at the last minute to cancel when my kids all got the stomach flu. (F-U-N)

I had really hoped to go during this somewhat unsettled time for them. All five of us are still living under the same roof and although Kevin and I are doing a good job keeping things not only civil and respectful but friendly, I wanted them to see that Sam, even following Joe’s divorce, is a happy kid and that his life didn’t end with his parents’ divorce, merely changed. Unfortunately that was not to be this week.

As if by divine intervention, I reconnected with a friend who is also divorced and with whom I could vent and share and feel the love and support I was hoping to find with Deena and Joe. What a wonderful gift. My kids weren’t able to connect with my friend’s kids to feel reassured, but I so enjoyed our time together and could see the light at the end of the tunnel both as a mom and a person.

At church last week, the focus was on making ‘love’ a verb. Acting to show your love by making others’ needs come first and remembering that falling in love is easy but staying in love and showing it is hard. As I was talking with my new old friend this week, we agreed it seems so easy to fall in love and yet neither of us could make our marriages work, in my case I couldn’t find a way to be myself and be embraced. As I look around, thinking about love and what makes it work, I return to Deena and Joe. They always put the other person’s needs first and because they both do so willingly and without keeping tally, they are happy and remain in love. I look at other families around me and see other examples of this sort of relationship in my friends Kristie and Mike, Sue and Tom, Kathleen and Mike. I see that all of these marriages work not only because they put each other first, but also because they put others first too. They have a community of friends and relatives that they support and love and help and do so without ever expecting anything in return. For Deena and Joe this is found in their conservative Jewish community, for others the community they love and support is not religious but rooted in their love of friends and a desire to give of themselves to them. It gives me hope that I can experience the verb ‘love’ and share my life with someone who will embrace me and for whom I would move mountains, who wants to be integrated in a ‘family’ of sorts in a community of friends and be devoted to those friends as we are to each other. I already feel this way about my kids of course and even with friends like Deena and Joe, but  it seems to have eluded me in the closest relationship of my adult life. Maybe someday I will have another chance and being both older and wiser (and droopier!) I hope that I can find someone that will share this need to give ourselves to each other completely and without reservation and in the meantime I will nurture my community of friends, my ‘family’ of sorts, and surround myself with people I love, as a verb.


Declan, my inspiration February 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr Molly OShea @ 10:32 pm

I am still amazed sometimes when I look at Declan. He’s 11 as of last week and already my height. Mairen is older (and shorter) than he is and she has always been more mature than her age and frankly more mature than MY age half the time. Declan is different. He’s a kid, through and through. He laughs loudly, storms off when he’s mad, and gives the biggest hugs on earth. He cries at the movies and still likes to sleep with a stuffed friend or two and his ability to see the joy in everyday life is remarkable.

He’s not the intellectual powerhouse his sister and brother are but he is an emotional powerhouse and has a giving spirit that reminds me every day what I aspire to be. He’s not perfect mind you, but he’s definitely got his priorities right most of the time. He is thrilled for others’ accomplishments even if they are doing things he would love to do but can’t. When I think about what makes a person great it isn’t their smarts or their accomplishments, it is their heart and Declan has that in spades.

Tonight we watched the movie ‘Rudy’ which we loved. For those of you who haven’t seen it, ‘Rudy’ is the true story of a blue collar guy growing up in the sixties and early 70s whose dream was to play football for Notre Dame. This guy wasn’t smart and he certainly wasn’t big, and according to everyone around him really didn’t have a God-given gift as an athlete. What this guy had was heart. He sunk everything he had into fulfilling his dream and made it. He ultimately played in the final minutes of the final game of his senior year and was so loved and respected by his teammates that it only through their bidding with the coach that he was even in uniform for the game. He was carried off the field by his teammates and no one else has been since.

What I liked best about this movie was that it showed that Rudy’s success came only because he was absolutely committed to his dream and never compromised who he was to get there. He didn’t transform into a great player or a bright student. Instead he remained an incredibly hard worker and in doing so he inspired everyone on their team to give a little bit more. Declan is the Rudy in my life. Almost nothing comes easy to him and yet he perseveres with a smile on his face most of the time and in doing so he inspires me to give just a little bit more.