Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mark of a Great Marriage

When Dr. Ethan Larson was in orthodontic school, in spite of the incessant study and work schedule, he and Dolly discovered a kind of rhythm in their marriage. Though they knew things would eventually change, they’d figured out a way to keep their relationship going. It worked in school.

When they moved to Puyallup though, few of the old habits worked any more. In the middle of the demands of his new practice, finding a new home, and settling in to a new church family, Dolly and Ethan had to find a new rhythm. A new way of making marriage work.

It turns out, flexibility is the key.

“I wasn’t much help while I was in school; frankly, I wasn’t even home much. Now that I’m no longer in school, I’m home much more often. I’ve had to learn how to help Dolly, and how to take care of our kids so she could have a break.”

These days, you won’t find Ethan off camping or hunting with the guys; he doesn't pursue a bunch of his own hobbies. “With our kids this young, they are my primary hobby. They are what we do. We know it won’t be like this forever; but for now, they are our focus.” In fact, Ethan has only recently taken up his first adult hobby; he trying to learn to play golf.

As for marriage? “I find that we treasure those few minutes between the time we get the kids in bed and the end of our evening. We sit on the couch together and talk—first about our day, and then about the deeper things that are going on around and inside of us.”

Ethan isn’t embarrassed to call Dolly his best friend.

Sometimes during that magic hour together, they watch television; sometimes they read while sitting on the couch together. “It’s not like we sit there staring deeply into one another’s eyes,” Ethan laughs. “Sometimes we share the things we discover in books and articles, and I find myself listening to Dolly read something she found exciting or challenging.”

While Ethan and Dolly don’t follow the prescribed methods recommended in the latest marriage books, they’ve found what works for them. “No one in my life will ever know me the way that Dolly does. I feel completely safe with her. She is my big motivator.” Those quiet evenings alone in the family room have become the anchor for their relationship. Life together isn’t what it used to be, but to Dr. Ethan, it’s just the way it he likes it.

What about you? What is the thing you and your spouse share that keeps your relationship alive?

Dr. Ethan Larson,
(With Bette Nordberg)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shorter Days

Do you realize how quickly our summer has gone? In only six and a half weeks, we'll be sending the kids back to school. The days are already growing shorter, and soon we'll be wondering what to cook for Thanksgiving dinner.

A person could get a little depressed about that, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where summer doesn't really make an appearance until after the Fourth.

Do you remember March 1st, 2012 when we launched our new blog format for Smiles by Sutherland? While most orthodontists are trying to find something interesting to say about braces, Dr. Greg and Dr. Ethan decided to talk about something we all have in common -- our love for our kids.

It has been an adventure, starting a new blog with such a big change in direction. It's been hard to be so real and vulnerable when you don't really know who is reading your work. But we've had good feedback (and we'd love more!). We hope you've been blessed, that you've thought about old ideas in new ways, and perhaps challenged to try something new in your family.

And of course, no one wants to go on an adventure alone. We hoped that by starting things out with a contest, you'd all decide to join us on the blog!

Though our contest has been going for some time, there's still lots of opportunity to join in. On August 31st,  2012, some lucky person will be chosen to win 2,000 dollars off of SBS orthodontic treatment for ANY new patient. You can win for yourself, or your spouse, or for a child.

Someone has to win. It might as well be YOU!

There's still plenty of time to enter; and if you make an effort, sometime in the next five weeks or so, you can rack up as many entries as those who've been following us from the very, very beginning.

We've never run a contest this valuable before!

Each of the following activities counts as one entry. Enter as often as you wish! Just let us know what you’ve done by leaving a comment about your activity, either on our facebook page, or on our blog, or by dropping by the office with your records. Contest ends August 31st, 2012. To enter, simply:

1. Like our blog posts on facebook
2. Read the new blog and leave a comment.
3. Read the blog and become a regular follower (We post every Thursday!)
4. Leave a comment on our regular facebook posts.
5. "Share" our facebook posts on your facebook page (simply hit the "share" icon).
6. "Share" our blog links (best done as we release them) on your facebook page.

We'll do all the record keeping for you. But, you MUST be sure to let us know what you've done to help us spread the word. Who knows? Maybe you'll be the lucky winner!

Here's to the new patient!
Dr. Greg Sutherland, Dr. Ethan Larson,
(with Bette Nordberg)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Keeping Watch

Lately, I've been thinking about how the godly face crisis. It's a big subject, one I'm not sure I can explain. Perhaps the answer lies in the wisdom and experience of the one who struggles. Or, perhaps there are as many ways to struggle through pain and sorrow as there are people who do so. It is our common human experience, isn't it? Pain is the darkness that makes bright our pleasure.

My daughter Amy recently faced the loss of her father-in-law Joel Kortus. At the time of his passing, she wrote this account of her experience. I appreciated the honesty of her writing, and wondered if her words might challenge you as well. Let us know what you think?

We are on day three of keeping watch with Joel. He is shutting down bit by bit.  He lays, dying, in the middle of the living room while the everyday events of life go on around him: Thomas grinds the coffee; I change the baby. Nancy prepares dinner and Rachelle does dishes. Taft takes a conference call and we check email, text, have wine with dinner. It is at once the most normal thing in the world and the most incongruent. Joel, the father of all these children, the one who gave life to these children, who brought order and laughter, comfort and approval, lying like a child unable to wake up.

Audrey, as she was tucked in last night, asked if we could pray just for Papa. "For peace," she said.  Then, crying, said it wasn’t going to be the same at the beach without Papa, and why did he have to die--she has so many memories with Papa... when I said we would see Papa again in Heaven, she said yes, but that’s not for a long time and I am going to miss him...

I don’t understand death--how can I expect her to understand?  And how can I explain something I do not understand? Papa is here; Papa is gone.  He did not go on a trip.  He is not at work or at the gym or hunting. He cannot call or email or send a text. He cannot even send a letter. He goes, and we aren’t totally sure how, or what it looks like where he goes... and we have to stay behind. It is the one harsh and irrevocable truth about living: we will all die.  Each one of us will, in our turn, make this journey.  I have a lot of ground to cover before I feel peace about this reality.  

And as the living, we continue on, but we do not forget. Nor do we go unchanged. Each of the siblings will now carry a piece of dad with them, holding him in some ways even closer than before. When Joel was living, his clothes were something common and insubstantial; now they have the value of a relic, a piece of someone we all wanted to stay but couldn’t.  And I say when living; he is still alive, but not living and active.  He is in that strange twilight between life and death; he cannot get up and join us in living, but he is still breathing.  And remembering?  And going over memories?  How could we know?

These things I know: There is a big fat robin perched on the deck rail looking for his breakfast in the grass. There is a mist over Penn Cove today; the sky feels heavy with sorrow and mournful. The cove across the way is covered in pine trees, the kind distinctive to Washington and looking almost too green for my North Carolina trained sensibilities. Too green and too thin and short-pined. There is a sense of rest and resignation to this day, to this island. What will be will be, even as the sea plane, having just unloaded its customers on the far side of the cove, circles back to Seattle momentarily disrupting the quiet.

How do I think about what comes next? Can I believe in the Heaven described in extra-canonical detail in the latest books? This Heaven, shrouded in so much mystery in the Biblical text--is it a place? When do folks arrive? How do we get there? And how does the breath of life survive apart from the body?

It seems like a dark comedy, the brevity of our stay here. We are born and, just as we learn what it means to live, we experience pain and sorrow; we experience death--and then realize that too soon, possibly way too soon, it will be our turn to die also. It is impossible to gather up all the minutes in one short life and try to form meaning. What will I leave behind?

Here is what I know: In the midst of this dying, there is so much living still. There is the rhubarb I harvested yesterday, while talking on the phone with my mom. The stalks two feet long, the leaves at least three feet across. I have never seen anything like this rhubarb, so determined not only to flourish but to take over the garden. I almost needed two hands just to bear the weight of one stalk. After leaving the stalks for a day so the kids could see them (so big!) we tossed the leaves in to the water, to turn back in to soil or compost or energy again, however that happens. Another miracle of death to life to death again.  And then I will take the stalks this afternoon, while the baby is napping, and wash and chop them and make a crisp to feed the twenty or so of us that are gathered here, fourteen of the crew under twelve years old. So much life, so much unlived life, gathered under one roof to keep vigil for death.

I want to understand how to let go of someone you cannot keep. It feels like sand slipping through my fingers, holding on to this man we all love. We can keep his treasures (beach glass, pocketwatch, old photos), his creations (driftwood clocks, lamps, furniture, mobiles). We can keep our memories, but we cannot keep his. We do not even know what they are, or how over the past few days he has sifted through and released them. Does death come on like childbirth? Is it hard and fast and animal-like, something you crouch under and submit to--something wholly other, physical and instinctual and out of your control--or do you let yourself down, piece by piece, like a rock climber coming down the sheer face of a cliff, letting go of the rope bit by bit as you near the ground?  Has Joel in the last few days sifted through memories, one by one, letting go of each of us in turn? Has he turned over pictures of us in his mind, Thomas as a toddler with his eye patch, Tiff in pigtales, Taft working on the old Ford, coaching basketball, camping, doing the paper route, driving the bus.  Each grandchild... Lindy.  Did he go through each person, one by one, and say goodbye?  Did he get to make his peace with this parting?

If so, I wish he could tell us the secret to letting go.

Amy Kortus ( Thomas' wife)

Saturday June 16 2012
Little bird beach house, 9:30 AM

Friday, July 6, 2012

Knowing the Difference

“We know of a general dentist who does braces. It seems like that would be cheaper. Why should we go to an orthodontist? What’s the difference, anyway?”

This reminds me of an old Sesame Street song,
“One of these things is not like the other. . .”

When it comes to choosing a health care provider, it’s important to understand the differences among the various options. Some general dentists do provide orthodontic care; but what separates them from the orthodontic specialist?

1. The first difference between a general dentist and an orthodontist is training. While a general dentist can take additional short courses in tooth movement (most are weekend courses), Both Dr. Greg, and Dr. Ethan have completed a full-time orthodontic residency after obtaining their dental degrees.

These post-graduate orthodontic programs focused not only on clinical training (how to achieve the desired results), but also on the scientific basis for clinical treatment. At SBS, we understand why treatments work on a biologic, cellular level. This knowledge enables us to make the very best choices for each individual case. Our advanced training helps us recognize and treat even the most complicated cases in our office—something the general dentist rarely does.

2. The second difference between a general dentist and an orthodontist is experience. During post-graduate training, Dr. Greg and Dr. Ethan spent years treating patients under direct supervision. In private practice, they continued to treat hundreds of cases per year. This gives them vast experience in moving teeth, correcting facial deformities, and creating beautiful smiles. Because the general dentist continues to perform routine procedures (exams, cleanings, restorations) between his ortho patients, he has far less opportunity to gain this kind of experience.

3. The third difference is efficiency. At Smiles By Sutherland, orthodontics is all we do. Every member of our staff is specially trained in orthodontic procedures. We do them all day long. We buy orthodontic supplies, equipment and technology. By focusing exclusively on orthodontics, our efficiency allows us to provide top-quality care at competitive prices. Many of our patients are surprised to discover little cost difference between the general dentist and specialized orthodontic treatment at SBS.

Choosing an orthodontic provider is a big decision. With so much at stake—your oral health, a beautiful smile, and a serious financial investment—we understand your need to understand all the options. That’s why we provide free consultations for every new patient.

Call for an appointment. We can help you sort through the possibilities!

Dr. Greg Sutherland,
Dr. Ethan Larson
(with Bette Nordberg)