Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

As we all rapidly approach one of the busiest times of year, it is easy to get caught up in the rush - studying for finals, going Christmas shopping, planning the holidays, decorating the house, running children all over town for sports and parties - the list goes on and on.

But before all the hoopla and fanfare of the holiday season embraces us in its cold (or warm) wintry grasp, let us take time to reflect on our lives.

Every year is a lifetime unto itself. Families, friends, occupations, and lifestyles can change without warning - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Babies are born as loved ones pass on; families are transferred out of town as new families move in to begin their lives again; one door closes as another door opens. Seasons change all too often, and with each new day comes new fear. Fear that we may fail, fear that we may succeed, or simply fear of the unknown. In an effort to escape this fear, people preoccupy themselves with trivial and temporary pursuits, attempting to bring stability to an unstable world. In all this uncertainty, it is hard to be thankful.

So let me be the first to say that I am thankful for the life that God has given to me. He has blessed me with a great marriage, wonderful friends (both old and new), opportunities to continue my education and pursue a career that is worthwhile and meaningful to me, and two families that love me unconditionally. My life is far from perfect, but based simply on the blessings above, I see no reason to complain.

I hope that everyone out there can take time out of their hectic schedules to be thankful this week. I don't know the details of everyone's life, and it may be extremely difficult for some people to muster a spirit of joy and gratefulness at this present time. But amidst all of the craziness of our lives, there is one constant for which we may be thankful. I would encourage everyone to focus their joys, worries, prayers, and anxieties on the cornerstone of our hearts; Jesus is here...now...and he always will be here. And if that's not worth celebrating, then I don't know what is.

Lauren and I pray that God may bless you and your loved ones this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time...

Good night, and good luck


Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Saturday Morning Post

It's been a long time since my last post. I wrote an interesting political article last week, but then I realized that I didn't want this to be a serious, political, divisive blog, so I didn't submit it. But now I'm back...and ready to blog!

It would be a monumental understatement to say that Lauren and I are ready for Thanksgiving (and Christmas) break. Since we started school in July, we have yet to have any off days or holidays. Actually, both Labor Day and Veteran's Day were scheduled during some of my test weeks, meaning that instead of going dove hunting or celebrating war veterans, I had to study...interesting how the powers-that-be scheduled things, isn't it?

Yesterday, Lauren finished her last Anatomy lab of her life - HIP HIP HOORAY!!! Seriously, for all of you out there who have never had to smell or experience the depressing place that is the Anatomy lab, you may not be able to appreciate just how major this is, so just take my word for it - it's a big deal. To celebrate, we went out to eat at a real restaurant - not fast food - where we had a fantastic meal and molten chocolate cake for dessert. Needless to say, Lauren was quite fulfilled. And I would be remiss to not thank my grandmother or Mama Jenny - if it weren't for you fine ladies, we would not have had any money to pay for our dinner!

I would like to take this opportunity to call everyone's attention to the poor-excuse-for-real-music that is rap. Follow this link, and prepare to be amazed.

Click here!

I would now like to take this opportunity to call everyone's attention to just how wide the technology gap is in our nation.

Click here too!

And finally, click on this link to check out Lauren's new favorite TV show (and yes, she is officially crazy).

Lauren's TV show - click me please!

I hope you have enjoyed these videos this morning.

Until next time...

Good night, and good luck


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Duh-Duh-Duh...Another one bites the dust

Yes, another fish has gone to that happy flushing ground in the sewer. It was Jeffrey, Jr, my sweet husband's namesake, and the fish who had lived an astounding month in my care. He was a fighter. He hung on til the very end. And he died upright...no belly-up submission for little Jeffrey, Jr. He faced death head on,and was found peacefully sticking to the filter, frozen in a little swimming pose.

What a fish. What A Fish.

Needless to say, I'm buying a new fish tomorrow. Maybe another black molly--then we could have little molly babies. Speaking of the black molly, though, I did some research the other day and found out that Dolly the black molly is actually a boy--oops! Pretty inappropriate name.

Sweet Debbie H posted some encouragement on the bottom of my last post. Thanks, Debbie--it helped me smile that day! Debbie also suggested that perhaps I should spend less time blogging and more time studying...touche, my lady. But think of my readers...should they suffer for my schooling? Should they be forced to return to reading the backs of cereal boxes, laffy taffy jokes, and trashy novels from gas stations? By no means. The show must go on--and the show will go on.

Viva la Blog!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just for Sport

I've never been that great at sports. I mean, I played lots of them, had some good coaches, had some bad coaches, and above all--had a good time. But just because one does something doesn't mean one does it well (case in point--the studying I did for the test I took this morning).

Some of my favorite sports-related memories involve my parents yelling at me...

Regardless of the bad connotations associated with the previous phrase ("my parents yelling at me"), my experience with parents yelling (at least in the sports arena) were all humorous.

#1: Third grade. I was the point guard dribbling alone down the court. (At that age level, the point guard gets a "free pass" to cross half court without molestation by the other team, because let's face it: otherwise it wouldn't really get down the court, would it?)

I was looking over toward Coach (Dad) for the play, and focusing all my third-grader attention on trying to NOT dribble the ball off my shoe. As some sort of sixth sense, I was aware that someone was trying to tell me something, but it wasn't until I reached the center circle that the loud voice in my ear was suddenly understood. The "someone trying to tell me something" was my mom. She had been yelling repeatedly, "Lauren, TIE YOUR SHOE!" for about thirty seconds solid by the time the referee stopped the game to allow me to take care of my little wardrobe malfunction.

As a wanna-be-basketball-tough-girl, I was mortified. As an adult, I can look back at it and say, "Ahh...so that's why I always double-knot my shoes!"

#2: Eighth grade. I am not fast, but I run track. This is a problem, because only people who are fast are good at track. My little spindly legs, the coach sees, will never be bulky enough for me to even competitively run a short distance race. Some sadistic coaching assistant suggests that I try the 800. I, not knowing what the 800 is, agree to run it. Little did I know, I would be sooooo sad about that decision, say, 30 seconds into the race. Unfortunately, everyone else on the track team already knew about the 800 (affectionately called "The Death Race"), so I got stuck running it for the entire year.

At one bitterly cold and rainy track meet, I was just getting over a case of bronchitis. When you have bronchitis, you can breathe alright when you stand still, but any variation on standing still causes extreme difficulty in breathing. And so, while I just wanted to stand still, my coaches wanted me to run. The 800. In the cold rain. Nice.

Knowing from my experience with every other track meet that I would not be a contender for any points, medals, or ribbons to be won in that race, I decided just to try and give myself a comfortable race. I left my sweatshirt on so that I wouldn't get cold, and opted to begin with a nice jog rather than the breakneck pace set by the true runners.

About halfway through the race, I heard my parents yelling from the fence line. They had arrived late to this out-of-town meet, no doubt because they had had a different sporting event for another child to go to that morning. (Heaven knows why they came to my track meets at all. Watching me run the 800 against "real" runners must have been like watching molasses try to beat honey in a downhill race.) At first I thought they were just cheering me on as usual, pretending that I had some chance of regaining the family honor just by not coming in last place, but as I got closer to the fence, I heard Mom saying, "Lauren, take that sweatshirt off!" And Dad saying loudly under his breath, "It probably weighs as much as her by now."

It was true. In the time it took for me to make two laps around that silly track, my big warm sweatshirt had soaked up about 40 pounds of icy, heavy rain. Dragging all that weight and battling my aching lungs, I barely beat the girl who came in dead last and received the "pity-clap" from the crowd.

Nothing reminds me more of my history with sports than these final upcoming weeks of my first semester of dental school. I have the same feelings now as I did when I ran cross country. Cross country is an interesting sport because it's very personal, individual, and dependent on your mental strength. I used to have conversations with myself while I ran my races.

Good me: Okay, I think I have about half a mile left. That's not too far.
Bad me: Not too far? Do you not remember running the 800 in 8th grade? It's the same distance that was. And you've already run a mile and a half!
Good me: Right, but I can do this. I just won't let this girl pass me. I'll stay in the middle of the pack.
Bad me: Or you could step on that jagged rock and try to break your ankle. Then you wouldn't even have to finish.
Good me: You don't want to get hurt.
Bad me: You don't care about getting hurt. You just don't want to finish last.
Good me: Well, that's true.

Now I'm having these same internal battles with myself as I try to push through these final tests that stand in the way of Christmas break. (Except I'm not going to try to break my ankle on purpose. Mostly because my teachers would still expect me to take the tests.) All the tiredness and frustration and impatience is weighing me down like that big hooded sweatshirt that I wore in the rain. I sometimes have to just take a break and do something else--something not related to dentistry or school. Something that makes me feel good like getting a fresh hair cut or painting my nails. It's sort of like when I had to stop the game to tie my shoe. I need to get myself in order before the real fight begins.

Regardless of trials, the finish line is approaching, and I have parents to yell at me. I received calls from both my mother and my father in the last 24 hours, both encouraging me to finish this race. A little tough love, a little coddling, and a little reminder of the reward at the end.

So I'll keep on running...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


To those of you who have never had the pleasure of being a dental or medical school student, allow me to educate you on the feeling you get when you get out of anatomy lab...

It's a strange mix of light-headed euphoria (which could be connected to the fact that you are suddenly breathing non-formaldehyde air) and extreme fatigue. My parents worked as a youth minister and a teacher for most of their lives, so I would say the feeling is somewhat like how my mom feels after trying to motivate and teach high school kids all day, or how my dad feels after being in charge of 50 kids all night at a lock-in.

It is after such a trying time that one just wants to come home and rest. Instead, last Thursday, Jeffrey came home from anatomy lab to his sweet little wife asking, "Honey, could you help me rearrange some furniture in the guest room?"

Being the great husband that he is, Jeffrey agreed. I thought it would only take a few minutes...70 minutes later, we were done! My poor husband. It was totally worth it for him, though, because now he is so happy with how it looks that he often goes in there just to admire...no, wait--that's me.

Luckily, we were going to see the new James Bond movie on Friday (yesterday), so all was not lost. I would tell you more about the movie, but it's sort of Jeffrey's "thing," and I don't want to steal his thunder.

Speaking of thunder, though, I would like to officially announce that we have made the switch from Dr. Pepper to Dr. Thunder or Dr. B, the generic brands found at Walmart and HEB (Dad, please don't disown me!). Honestly, they taste the same, and they're so much cheaper. We have also changed from Diet Coke to HEB Diet Original Cola. (We're not crazy about that name, but the taste is right on the money.)

And lastly, but most importantly, the weather report.

"Thanks, Lauren. Well it's a little over a month until Christmas and we have definitely felt the chill of winter coming in here in San Antonio, Texas. Make sure and break out your coats and scarves, because after this cold front moves in, San Antonio will be seeing highs in the mid-to-low seventies, with lows in the night reaching a record fifty-two degrees! Brrr! Bundle up, San Antonio. Back to you, Lauren."

Wow. I wonder if we'll ever use our fireplace...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In Memoriam: For Ben and Bobby

Two of my friends passed away in the last two weeks. Both were sweet guys, eager to please with quick smiles. They both were about my age, and thus were far too young to have been captured by Death’s wandering eyes. And yet, and yet…

they have gone.

Those of us here are left to wonder why. Why now? Why them? Why?

Questions without answers.

No one ever knows what to say to the grief-stricken ones who are left behind. Some visit the mourners and try to tell them how they should feel. They remind the grievers not to be sad, remind them that we will see the dead when we all rise again, remind them that the ones who have gone are with God now. And while these are all sweet sentiments, they all fall harshly on the ears of a tearful widow or widower or parent or spouse or child who has lost the one they loved so fiercely. A cacophonous racket of good wishes collide with the grievers’ own wishes just to have one more conversation, one more hug, one more of everything…

I am neither a grief counselor nor a professional. I have not read books on the subject and I do not claim to have any expertise in caring for those who are hurting. I do know what it feels like to hurt, and I know that sometimes the most comforting words are no words at all. Just a hug. Just a phone call. Just an “I’m sorry.” Just a prayer.

I’m too far away to hug Ben’s hurting family, so instead I will send them some words written by Lord Tennyson. He wrote a book of poems (In Memoriam) after the death of his best friend. Hopefully the words from one griever to another will somehow strike a healing chord in the hearts of the broken…

A prayer:

“Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in Thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pain is Beauty

I woke up this morning in such a good mood! I got to sleep in (we were off from school for Veteran's Day) AND I knew that I was going to get a facial--yeah! The facial was a part of a "Spa Day" put together by an organization I am involved with at the dental school, The American Association of Women in Dentistry (AAWD). Each AAWD member got to get a facial at half price--needless to say, I was there.

After a slight detour from my Tom Tom GPS system, my friend Carly and I arrived. (I'm still confused about the Tom Tom--it apparently thought the best way to get there was to exit the highway early, make several loops, drive through the slums of San Antonio, and then return to the highway, looping underneath the overpass to go in the opposite direction. Perhaps I pushed some button that said "I want to go to my destination, but I would also like to buy some crack cocaine along the way.") Anyway, we finally got there, filled out our forms, and were whisked away into the spa area.

The facial started out ok. The woman asked me about my typical skin care routine and I was applauded for wearing sunscreen on my face daily. Then she went to go get all of her materials for the facial, and started soon after. She was doing a great job, but at first I was annoyed by the fact that even the lovely plinking of the Enya music could not sway my mind from naming each muscle of the face as the woman was massaging it. Ah, the hazards of being a dental student. Your body knows when it's time to relax, but your mind thinks it's always time to review new knowledge.

Next the woman asked me if I had ever had any extractions done. Again, my dental school mind first thought, "Why is this beautician asking me about extracted teeth?" I quickly realized, however, that she was asking if I had ever had my blackheads extracted. At the same time I realized I am a dork. I told her that I had not, and she replied, "Ok, well you'll feel a little pressure. It's a little uncomfortable, but totally worth it..."

She lied.

She covered my eyes with cucumber slices and then used her instruments of torture all over my face. I promise you, at one point I thought she was actually trying to squeeze my nose off of my face! So I guess when she said "pressure," she meant "severe pain." And when she said "a little uncomfortable," she meant "will make you want to peel your skin off, so as not to have any blackheads to extract."

Now let's get one thing straight, I'm not one to shy away from a little pain in the name of fashion. Those of you who know me have seen me walk to school and around school in shoes that make straight jackets look comfortable. My wedding shoes were so uncomfortable, I couldn't feel 8 of my toes by the end of the night, but did I complain? No. Because a little pain is worth it if you get "the look." Some people say, "If the shoe fits, wear it." I say, "If the shoe is cute enough, who cares what size it is? Put 'em on your feet, pay for them, and wear them out of the store!"

So I leave you with this: Beauticians, don't lie to your customers--they might be your dentist someday...and then we'll see who's talking about "a little pressure." And women, don't ever agree to have extractions done--it's just not worth it. (Unless, of course, I get lots of compliments about how great my skin looks tomorrow...in which case it might have been worth it. But I'm talking about a lot of compliments--a LOT!)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cat Woman

In reference to my husband's recent post, I must admit that his indifference toward pets probably stems from his fear that I will eventually become one of those 86-year-old ladies who has 212 cats in her home...and that all of them will want to sit in his lap.

And he has a point--I'm a little out of control with the animal-love. (As shown by my previous post, which was almost completely about fish.)

The Animal Whisperer

Let me start by saying that, generally, I'm not the biggest fan of pets. I think (some) pets are fun to play around with for a little while, but the responsibilities of owning a pet - feeding, cleaning, picking up the droppings, etc. - far outweigh any benefits that may come from owning a pet. (It should be noted that the preceding statement is solely my own opinion and not that of my wife.) And it's not that I hate animals; I would just rather use my free time for something enjoyable that requires little effort.

That being said, I find it quite ironic that animals absolutely love me. Whenever we go home to Lauren's house, her 2 cats are in my lap within 5 minutes of me stepping through the door. At Steven and Mary's house (2 of our new friends here in San Antonio), their little puppy dog can't seem to get enough of me. Then today, as I was walking back to our apartment from my afternoon jog, a dog sprinted full speed from 100 yards away and fell flat at my feet, ready to be petted.

What is the deal?!

Am I an "animal whisperer?" Do I look really good in black-and-white to those colorblind creatures? Am I pheromone-ically active with lower-order animals? Do I give off a silent whistle every time I breathe? Or does God simply have a very witty sense of humor?

I don't know the answer, but there's one thing I do know, and it's that having pet fish is fantastic - they don't make any noise, they can't chase you down and slobber on you or scratch you, and they are relatively cheap. So for all of you out there seeking to appease spouse or child with a pet, but would really enjoy a low-maintenance pet, then take it from me - get a fish.

Or if you're like us, get five. And give them funny names so that you can get a quiet chuckle every time you see them.

However, I'm sure that in one year's time we'll have a couple of dogs, 3 cats, a rabbit, 4 hamsters, and some birds - and not because we'll buy them, but because they will instinctively flock to me like an adult salmon returning to her breeding grounds upstream to give birth.

Honestly, I think that God just has a fantastic sense of humor, and if that's the case, then I'm keeping my thoughts and feelings on having children - more specifically, having boys or girls - to myself!

Until next time...

Good night, and good luck


P.S. Chase is coming down to visit us next weekend, so stay tuned to see what kind of trouble we can get into in the short time he is here.

P.P.S. The new James Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace," will be released this Friday in the U.S. You better believe that I'll be in the theater Friday night, popcorn and Twizzlers in hand, ready to save the world yet again!

Show and Tell

At the request of several of our friends, we have decided to put a picture of our Christmas decorations on the blog as well as some pictures of our fish babies!

For those of you keeping count, we (meaning just me) bought two more fish on Thursday, which brings our total to 5 fish babies. Oh, the responsibility! We now have 3 zebra danios, 1 black molly, and 1 Chinese algae eater. Unfortunately, none of them have been trained to sit still for portraits yet, so I had to just search google for some pictures of their species. The danios are named Shark, Turtle, and Jeffrey, Jr. The black molly's name is Dolly, and the algae eater is named Walter Douglas Edwards, but his friends just call him Walter. Here are some pics!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The 1st Blog Amendment

I have been asked by my father to retract the previous statements I made on the blog about him not having any hobbies. He has assured me that he does, in fact, have many hobbies. His hobbies are traveling, raquetball, and reading.

Hmm...so, I'm thinking of buying him either lots of raquetballs, some cute shorty-shorts to wear when he's playing, or one of those goofy necklaces you are supposed to wear around airports that filter the bacteria out of the nasty airport air that you breathe. Decisions, decisions.

Honestly, it's always hard to think of things to get for Dad for his birthday or for Father's Day or for Christmas. It's really not that he doesn't have interests, it's that he just doesn't like "stuff." As far as I can tell, Dad is much more interested in relationships, events, experiences, and memorable moments. I think that's why most of his hobbies require few materials or money. In fact, the only big material thing I ever remember him asking for was his Harley--but seriously, everyone has a weakness, right?

So court reporter, please strike the former comments about "no hobbies" from the record!

As an aside--I was disappointed to read the "Comments" portion of the bottom of an AOL.com article about the new president-elect. Many people had said very hateful things about the new president-elect, including the use of that nasty "N-word" that I wish with all my heart had been eradicated with the emancipation of the slaves in America. Some of the ugliest comments made threats on Senator Obama's life. The only up-side to this story? The person who made the threat on the Senator's life spelled his name "O-b-o-m-m-a," so hopefully if he tries to actually find out where this guy lives, he'll never figure it out.

...but watch out if you last name is Obomma, I guess!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Current State of the United States

I tried to not blog about the election--I really did. But it turns out that the idea of blogging about the election just kept coming to my mind...exactly the way that the last Hershey's bar in my fridge kept coming to my mind. So I gave up. I ate the candy bar and I'm blogging about the election. I win.

I will admit, I was frustrated last night as I watched the poll results be projected on the US map. I wanted McCain to win for several reasons, the most important of which (for Jeffrey and me) having to do with Obama's thoughts on heathcare in America. Anyway, I was sad when the final numbers were in, and even sadder when I heard the humble and honorable speech McCain gave to his supporters as he conceded the race.

In any case, though, I was really impressed by the fact that the majority of Americans were able to look past race when voting in this presidencial election. Of course, I'm sure that some people may have voted for Obama just because he is black, and probably some others didn't vote for Obama just because he is black, but all in all--go America! What a long way we've come from a general opinion in this country that African Americans weren't even people all the way to an African American president.

It's just so silly, the discrimination based on race. Here's a fun fact from one of my college science classes to explain why: Essentially all people (regardless of race) produce the same amounts of melanin, the pigment that makes your skin dark, the only difference between our skin color is that some people have more cells that break down that pigment before it gets to the surface. So loosely speaking, we're all black! Ha ha. Tell that to your racist friends and watch them cry...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekend Update

It is November 2nd. Jeffrey has a test week that is quickly approaching, and I have a biochemistry test on Friday that covers chapters...I'm not sure. So what did we do this weekend?

We set up our first christmas tree! Yeah, Santa!

Jeffrey saw that Walmart had artificial 6 foot trees for $20 last weekend, and I (who have no patience) bought one today. We were planning on setting it up around the middle of November so that we could enjoy it for about a month at our apartment before we had our Christmas break/Tour of Texas seeing all our family. The only problem was that I (who have no patience) couldn't wait that long, so here it stands, proud and tall and plastic-y in our living room.

We also went Christmas present shopping today and found things for most of our family members. (But seriously, Dad, if you want a present from us, you're gonna have to post some ideas...you are "The Man With No Hobbies," and thus you are "The Man With Family Members Who Have Nothing Cool to Buy for You." Try to be more like me--want everything.)

We did end up going to a Halloween Party Friday night, but we couldn't ever figure out what we wanted to dress up as, and we sort of ran out of time to get them, so instead we went in regular clothes as "Students who didn't have time to get costumes." Lame, I know, but nobody left us any suggestions on the blog! The party was both too loud to hear people talk, too dark to see who you were talking to, and someone came dressed as a Care Bear, but left as a drunken idiot. (To be fair to the Care Bear boy, several people left as drunken idiots.) Regardless of the craziness of the party, we loved hanging out with our friends, seeing the costumes, and meeting new people.

Saturday night we had a few people over to watch the f**tb@ll g&me. (Jeffrey has forbidden us to speak or type of that fateful game--it's just too painful.)

Taryn C., thanks for putting the pictures up from Homecoming on your blog--we miss seeing you guys!