Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's twins!

June Carter Cash had her babies. Twins, a boy and a girl.

She's boarding for Christmas, so sadly they were not born here and will spend their first week away. But they're at a good home. Go here for pictures.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Psychology 101: Just following orders

These experiments are absolutely fascinating to me. I remember watching video footage of the original Milgram study in undergrad, and I will never forget it. One thing they don't mention in this article is that the maximum voltage of 450 is clearly labeled "DANGER: LETHAL" on the machine.

I'm just copying this over from CNN:

Milgram, who also came up with the theory behind "six degrees of separation" -- the idea that everyone is connected to everyone else through a small number of acquaintances -- set out to figure out why people would turn against their own neighbors in circumstances such as Nazi-occupied Europe. Referring to Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, Milgram wrote in 1974, "Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?"

His experiment in its standard form included a fake shock machine, a "teacher," a "learner" and an experimenter in a laboratory setting. The participant was told that he or she had to teach the student to memorize a pair of words, and the punishment for a wrong answer was a shock from the machine.

The teacher sat in front of the shock machine, which had 30 levers, each corresponding to an additional 15 volts. With each mistake the student made, the teacher had to pull the next lever to deliver a more painful punishment.

While the machine didn't generate shocks and a recorded voice track simulated painful reactions, the teacher was led to believe that he or she was shocking a student, who screamed and asked to leave at higher voltages, and eventually fell silent.

If the teacher questioned continuing as instructed, the experimenter simply said, "The experiment requires that you go on," said Thomas Blass, author of the biography "The Man Who Shocked The World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram" and the Web site

About 65 percent of participants pulled levers corresponding to the maximum voltage -- 450 volts -- in spite of the screams of agony from the learner.

"What the experiment shows is that the person whose authority I consider to be legitimate, that he has a right to tell me what to do and therefore I have obligation to follow his orders, that person could make me, make most people, act contrary to their conscience," Blass said.

An update

Because of revised ethical standards for human subject research, this kind of experiment cannot be replicated exactly. But Jerry Burger, professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, made some tweaks to see if Milgram's results hold up today. Watch an audio slide show for more on these experiments »

His study's design imitated Milgram's, even using the same scripts for the experimenter and suffering learner, but the key difference was that this experiment stopped at 150 volts -- when the learner starts asking to leave. In Milgram's experiment, 79 percent of participants who got to that point went all the way to the maximum shock, he said.

To eliminate bias from the fame of Milgram's experiment, Burger ruled out anyone who had taken two or more college-level psychology classes, and anyone who expressed familiarity with it in the debriefing. The "teachers" in this recent experiment, conducted in 2006, also received several reminders that they could quit whenever they wanted, unlike in Milgram's study.

The new results correlate well with Milgram's: 70 percent of the 40 participants were willing to continue after 150 volts, compared with 82.5 percent in Milgram's study -- a difference that is not statistically significant, Burger said.

Still, some psychologists quoted in the same issue of American Psychologist questioned how comparable this study is to Milgram's, given the differences in methods.

The idea of blind obedience isn't as important in these studies as the larger message about the power of the situation, Burger said. It's also significant that the participant begins with small voltages that increase in small doses over time.

"It's that gradual incremental nature that, as we know, is a very powerful way to change attitudes and behaviors," he said.

Stanford Prison Experiment

This idea of circumstances driving immoral behavior also came out in the Stanford Prison Experiment, a study done in 1971 that is the subject of a film in preproduction, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Work on the film will resume in 2009 after McQuarrie's "Valkyrie" is released, his spokesperson said.

In this study, designed by Stanford's Zimbardo, two dozen male college students were randomly designated as either prison guards or prisoners, and lived in the basement of the university's psychology building playing these roles in their respective uniforms.

Within three days, participants had extreme stress reactions, Zimbardo said. The guards became abusive to the prisoners -- sexually taunting them, asking them to strip naked and demanding that they clean toilet bowls with their bare hands, Zimbardo said. Five prisoners had to be released before the study was over.

Zimbardo's own role illustrated his point: Because he took on the role of prison administrator, he became so engrossed in the jail system that he didn't stop the experiment as soon as this cruelty began, he said.

"If I were simply the principal experimenter, I would have ended it after the second kid broke down," he said. "We all did bad things in this study, including me, but it's diagnostic of the power situation."

What was so interesting to me was watching the poor subjects administering the shocks. They sincerely believed they were hurting, or even killing, a fellow participant, but they also sincerely believed that they didn't have a choice. The man in the white coat said to do it, and they did it. But they look so upset, they're in so much distress. They work so hard to "teach" the poor "student" the right answer, they really want them to get it right, and they don't want to have to shock them again. They don't know what to do, and the option of getting up and walking out just doesn't occur to most people. A few do, and they seem like ordinary people. We're not talking about Mel Gibson in Braveheart here. Normal folks. How are they different?

The original study mostly focused on authority and obedience, the idea that the people did what they did because someone told them to. And that's definitely a part of it. But the revision from 2006 seemed to remove a good portion of that, reminding subjects that they can leave anytime, and our society has changed a lot in its view of authority, and yet the results were very similar. Is it more of a desire to please, to behave as expected in any given situation? To be "normal"? We reference other people so much to know how to behave; I've mentioned that before here. The question is, at what point does that stop being helpful and normal, and become pathological?

I tacked the prison study on too, even though I'm most gripped by the Milgram study. Most people function to fulfill whatever "role" they think they've been assigned. Football teams with a "mean" mascot and black uniforms commit more fouls than players with a benign mascot and white uniforms. Why is that?

That's why I majored in psych. Fascinating stuff.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More snow

I couldn't help myself. I don't know why I get so carried away about snow. Something about growing up in the South makes me think snow is just absolutely magical and fascinating. Jonas thinks so too. Betty was a good sport, but really preferred to stay warm inside.

beth made this sweet little snowman. it took most of the snow from the backyard to do it.

this is unrelated to the snow. but oh my word.



That's right! Real live snow. Of course it's not sticking, and you can barely see it, but still. I had the hardest time getting it to show up in a photograph; this is the best I could do. You kinda have to squint.

Oh, and I made Christmas stockings. I used an old burlap feed sack. I think they turned out pretty cute.

Here are some close-ups:

And some random pictures of Jonas, just because. That's a snowflake by his right hand.

edit: it's coming down harder now, so i added more pics. couldn't resist.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Curlers, Round Two

I know you're waiting on pins and needles, anxious about the next attempt at curlers. Will it work? Will she go vertical? What about the bangs? And frizz, oh horror, the frizz.

Well, you can relax. It went just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Does anyone want a play-by-play? Yes?

I put in twice as many, so they could be close together (thanks, Kim ). Curlers were inserted vertically on damp hair, sprayed with gel, wait 1 hour, blasted with the hair dryer, and removed vertically (thanks, Cat and Lynsey). No bangs. Sesame Street helped with this phase.

Don't they look like an old married couple?

The final product, my beauty queen:

Much better, no?

Thanks, mommy friends, for all your help!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First attempt at curlers...

Did not go so well.

{I still need your comments on the post below!}

It started out fine. She looks cute with the curlers in.

But then it's wrong, all wrong.

Mothers of little girls, I need your help. Where did I go wrong?

I'm thinking maybe they should have been turned vertically?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's that time again!

Well, believe it or not, it's Christmas time again. I know!

Want to know how I figured that out?

I've gotten two, count 'em two, emails this week asking what the kids want or what size clothes they wear.

I can relate; it's hard to shop for other people's kids, so I try to help out with suggestions. But that feels kind of weird too. Do I just tell people what to get my kids? It feels like a wedding registry. Does anyone else have this problem?

So, to solve the awkwardness, I created a registry.


Does that make it worse?

Not really a registry, but an wish list for both kids. It's under my name, since my kids don't yet have their own email addresses (what with the lack of reading and all). Family members who are so inclined can find my helpful hints there. *******No pressure******* (hopefully that goes without saying? no one is obligated to buy anything!). But some did ask for suggestions, so there you go. I'll probably get most of our gifts for them from the same list.

{On a side note: This is one small issue, set against the backdrop of the bigger issue of remembering that Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation. That's a much bigger discussion. Kids don't do well when they get overwhelmed with a gazillion presents. It's actually less enjoyable for them, not to mention distracting from the greater purpose of the holiday. But I want to get them toys, they will get toys, and that's great. I even enjoy a little bit of the Santa nonsense. More to come on that another day. Here's a teaser.}

Back to toys. So here's my question for you.

What do your kids love? What have been their favorite toys, books, gifts, games, whatever? What are you hoping to get for them? What needs to be on my amazon list?

I'll go first with our favorites.

I've already mentioned the trampoline. I still wholeheartedly endorse it.

Jonas loves his VTech camera.

A little shopping cart. Although ours doesn't have the baby seat; how cute is that??? This has gotten constant use since Jonas was first learning to walk. Both kids at every age have found a use for it.

Anything for dress-up. Hats, capes, props.

Books: Brown Bear. Monkey Boy. Bear Hunt. Nightmare in my Closet. Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar? (Jonas learned to count from this). When they were babies the Roger Priddy books were great. Goodnight Moon. Goodnight Gorilla. Sam who Never Forgets. Runaway Bunny. The little Elmo puppet book.

I'm being lazy and doing this from memory. If you want authors' names just ask.

OK, now it's your turn.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sweet Kids

Just some pictures of the kids.

Take a deep breath, nothing controversial today. Well, except maybe a Longhorns cap...

My dad sent a Durant Lions cheerleader dress for Betty. She looks so sweet in it.

This is how Jonas loves to dress, everyday. He has fully embraced the country life. Our family in Oklahoma might object to the hat, but you'll have to talk to Aunt Amberly about that.


Thursday, November 6, 2008


Just in case you were wondering.

I'm a private person, and don't tend to write about personal things here. And maybe that's wise. But I want to be honest here, let you know who I really am. So I'll touch on some things that you may have wondered about. As they come to me.

1. Why I quit my job. I suppose that's a fair question, given the title of my blog. I always planned to be a stay at home mom, at least for awhile, probably not forever. My plan was to finish my residency in pediatrics, take a few years off to be home and have babies, and then return to work part time. It was not a bad plan, but it's not the way things worked out, and I'm so glad. My son was born during my first year of residency, and I decided against two more years of 80 hour workweeks. I craved more time with him. I thought I might work part time down the road, and I may someday. But I'm in no hurry. I really love being here. It was a hard adjustment, but hard in a good way, like exercise is hard. Like most things that are worth doing are hard.

2. What I believe about submission. Wow, this is a biggie. Just typing that word makes me feel all nervous, like, she's not really going to talk about that, is she? Well, apparently I am.

Here's the deal. I have found a way, after years of struggle, to embrace submission without feeling degraded. I have not always understood it that way, and have bucked against the concept. Mostly as a single person; if anything marriage made this easier, not harder. I tried to write off the Biblical passages as applying to the particular time and place where they were written, but I just can't do it. It doesn't work that way. There was a structure to marriage in the Garden of Eden. There is structure to the Trinity. These things are not accidental. They are not a result of the Fall. They are intentional design, and they are good.

This is not a thesis on womanhood. Maybe I'll write more another day, maybe not. But I had to at least get it out there, on the table. The most helpful thing for me has been to look to the Trinity. Jesus and the Spirit are both described as "submitting" to the Father. Same word in Greek, if I'm not mistaken. So clearly we are not talking about a difference in dignity or worth. This is not about ability or merit. The Spirit is described as a "helper" to the believer. This is not a secretary, right? An assistant, to iron shirts and bring the coffee? Justin likes to explain it as though "help" is a euphemism, as in "air helps me to breathe." As in, without this thing, I cannot go on.

AND, my submission to my husband "as unto the Lord" does NOT mean, like I once thought, "as if he WERE the Lord." I am not pretending that. They have a name for that, and it starts with an I. This is more along the lines of whatever you eat or drink, do it as unto the Lord. As in, serve God by doing this. Glorify God in this way, by trusting His leadership, His word. Practice submission, not because he deserves it, (he being the husband), but because God deserves it.

God has lots to say to the husband in all this, let's not forget. And my husband is diligent to do his part. That's a whole 'nuther post.

3. I'm a preacher's wife. Hubby's behind the pulpit. What girl wouldn't love that? Maybe some wouldn't, I don't know. I certainly didn't expect to, back in the day. Never, EVER dreamed I'd be a preacher's wife. I don't even play piano! ha. But I am his wife. And I love that job more than anything. I'm an ordinary wife. Not on staff at the church or anything like that. I love my husband, and it's his job to care for the sheep. And he's great at it. I'm so very proud.

4. Vaccines. Man, I'm just getting it all out there tonight! Here's the short version. I think vaccines are important, and have done way more good than harm. These diseases that they protect against are real, and they're deadly. We forget that, precisely because the vaccines have done their job. There may be more risk than we know, though. There are lots of questions out there. My hunch is that some children have a genetic hypersensitivity, a disposition to react badly to vaccines. That may be one of many, many contributing factors for some very complicated neurological disorders.

Here is one confusing fact: the natural history of autism, for most children, with or without vaccines, involves a fairly normal first two years and then some regression after the second birthday. That is hard to understand, and naturally causes many people to look for "what happened" to a seemingly normal child. But some genes just work that way. I am thinking of a family who had one child with autism. They felt the MMR vaccine was responsible. They had another child, chose not to vaccinate, and that child did the exact same thing. Seemed normal until two and then bam, autism. Or Parkinson's disease. Completely genetic. Normal development, normal life, until later adulthood, and then you get sick. Nothing "happened." The gene has been there since day one, sitting, waiting.

There are things that seem to suggest involvement of heavy metals, and the immune system gone haywire. Vaccines obviously would have some connection with both of those. There are things to suggest genetics. Also environmental pollution, potentially pesticides, and who knows what other thousands of exposures a young child could experience. I'm far from an expert. I'm an ordinary "entry level" physician, and an ordinary mom. Sort of thinking out loud here, if you don't mind. This isn't "professional advice" or anything.

So who knows? I think we really don't, right now. But I still believe vaccines are important. I vaccinate my own children, and would recommend that for any patient of mine. But I understand where parents are coming from when they express concern. Everyone wants to do what is best for their own child. Just do your reading, check your sources, think for yourself. Don't do something just because "Doctor knows best," but don't avoid something just because some person on Oprah said not to, either.

Well, I guess that's enough for tonight. Thanks for hearing me out. I don't mean to stir the pot; I'm not trying to start anything. If you have questions, that's fine, please, ask away. I just needed to say some things. Oh, man, I didn't even talk about homeschooling. Maybe next time.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Baked Ziti with Summer Squash

I made this for church last night and it went over well. Lots of people were asking for the recipe so I'll just post it here. Here's a quote from one of my favorite college students: "In all seriousness I think it was the best pasta I've ever had outside of a restaurant... actually I think it was better than half the pastas I have had at restaurants!" So there you go.

4 slices white bread, quartered
2T butter, melted

1 lb summer squash, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 lb zucchini, cut same way
3/4 lb penne pasta
kosher salt
4T olive oil
6 shallots, diced, about 1/2 -2/3 cup
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c cream
2 1/2 c chicken broth
2 ounces grated Parmesan (1 cup)
3/4 c fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

1. Make topping. Pulse bread with butter in food processor until crumbly, about 6 one second pulses. Cover and set aside.
2. Set squash in a colander, sprinkle with 2T kosher salt, let sit & drain for 30 minutes. (If you don't have room in the sink, set the colander in a large bowl.)
3. Preheat oven to 400.
4. Cook the pasta in salted water until a little underdone. Toss with 1T oil and set aside.
5. Spread salted squash out over a double-folded papaer towel, pat dry with additional paper towels, wiping off residual salt. Heat 1T oil in a skillet on high until it starts to smoke. Saute half of squash until golden brown and a bit charred, 5-7 minutes. Transfer squash to a baking sheet or platter and repeat with other half of squash in fresh oil. (Doing this in batches allows all of the squash to be in contact with hot oil. If you put too much squash in at once some of it is just steaming on top, and it gets mushy.)
6. Wipe skillet out and heat 1T oil over medium-high. Cook shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in broth and cream. Bring to a simmer for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan, basil, and parsley. Season with salt & pepper.
7. Add sauce, tomatoes, and squash to pasta, stir to combine. Pour into a 9x13 dish and sprinkle with topping. Bake until bubbling and crumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

  • To make ahead: Follow recipe through the sauce, but don't chop the herbs or add them to sauce. Refrigerate topping, pasta, squash and sauce in separate bowls, tightly covered in plastic wrap. When ready to bake, heat sauce, chop and add herbs, and assemble and bake casserole. It will bake for 20-30 minutes.
  • This is from "Cover & Bake," one of the cookbooks in the line of "The Best Recipe," published by the guys from America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated magazine. I love anything these guys do.
  • The point of the kosher salt is that it can be wiped off. No biggie if you need to use regular salt. You just won't want to add salt anywhere else.
  • Even if you don't want to make the casserole, please try the squash salting & sauteing trick. It's fantastic. I made it again today for lunch.
  • I know it's a little late in the year for summer squash. Sorry. Bring this recipe back out next July. My HEB actually has some pretty good squash right now, nice and small, not all overgrown like it usually is.
  • Nothing terrible will happen if you use onion instead of shallots. One regular onion will do just fine. Maybe not a very strong one.
  • Yes, that's a lot of basil. I used one package from the grocery store, but it wasn't quite the measurement listed, so I added some dried.
  • In my opinion the tomatoes are optional. I saw lots of people picking them out.
  • I didn't actually change oil between batches, or wipe out the skillet before the next step. Shhh.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Better late than never, right?

Is anyone out there still interested in a post about Halloween????

I finally got it together to show you pictures.

Some of the local mommies took the kids to visit the nursing home. Pretty uneventful, which I guess is a good thing.

Betty's costume was originally supposed to be a dress, but I changed it to a top and skirt. I thought she would get more mileage that way. But the dress bodice is a little short as a top. Since it's not a Britney Spears costume, I put a t-shirt under. Oh well. The skirt turned out cute. Also please notice the repaired horns on Jonas' costume. And no, the pom-poms are not a part of his costume. But isn't Braelyn cute as a cheerleader!

Oh, and apparently no one else enjoys the charm of homemade costumes as much as I do. Our group had 5 kids, and two classes of elementary students came by with about 30 kids, and my two were the only ones in homemade costumes. I didn't know whether to be proud or sad. What do you think? Charmingly old-fashioned, or just ordinary old-fashioned???

In other news:

The kids are muddy.

The hens are laying.

And June Carter Cash is definitely knocked up.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

One costume down...

one to go.

jonas picked out patterns at wal-mart, and i just finished his "knight" suit of armor. kind of a viking-y knight, but whatever. i'll put a grey hoodie underneath to look like chain metal.

betty's costume still looks like this:

it's a good thing it's cold and rainy today!


ha! i just looked at the pattern, and i have the horns on backwards. they're supposed to curve up. that would look better, wouldn't it?

shoot, jonas just noticed. "mommy, i need it like his, to stick up and not go down."


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the best cookies i've ever had

go make these right now. but halve the recipe.

go on, scoot.

thanks, liz.

edit: pastry flour = cake flour. Swan's Down, big red box.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No more Baby Sudafed

I support this strongly.

No more cold & cough medicines will be marketed for children under 4. This is a good thing. They just don't work, and they're not as safe as you might think.

I've tried them, though, and I ought to know better. I know that in clinical trials they do no better than placebo, but it's so tempting to just try something, anything, when your baby is sick. I understand; I've been there. But it's better to not even have them around, because people assume they're safe and give too much. Or try two or three things, not realizing that some ingredients overlap and give an accidental overdose. Or toddlers get into them on their own.

So I'm glad.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I passed!!!!!

My step 3 score report came this morning. My score is just above average. It would have been nice to ace it, but I guess that's not too bad for four years of rust.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Snake in the Pantry

You've heard of Snakes on a Plane, but now I bring you....

Snake in the Pantry.

I kid you not.

Sunday night, I was getting ready for a bedtime snack of waffles (I know). I pulled out the waffle iron and then.....gasp:

See it? Look closer:

It was coiled up behind the waffle iron, on the knife sharpener. Scared the pee out of me.

I did what any self-respecting, capable and competent adult woman would do.

"Honey, there's a snake in the pantry. You have to get it out."

Y'all, my husband is a brave man. He really is. But....not so much in the snake department. Justin was, shall we say, a bit apprehensive about fetching the snake for me. My mother-in-law was there, and she also was completely useless. (I love you guys, I really do. Even if you are useless when there's a SNAKE IN THE PANTRY.)

I should clarify. Justin was willing to get the snake, but not in a manner that I was willing to endorse. He was all ready to get the hoe and start chopping, but I put my foot down. I will not, WILL NOT clean up snake blood from all over the inside of my pantry. I WILL NOT have hoe chops and blood stains on my new wood floor.

Hubby was less than enthusiastic about my proposal of BBQ tongs, so I was on my own.

Let me tell you, I got that bad boy. I was already in my bathrobe (see "bedtime" above), so I added boots and the one leather gardening glove that I could find:

(disclaimer: This picture is a reenactment, taken after the fact. Note the carefree laugh.)

I pinned him once with the tongs, but he wiggled out. He then proceeded to crawl all over the pantry, in and out of drawers, eventually settling in the corner behind the crock pot. When Justin pulled out the crock pot (with a ten foot pole), he coiled and hissed at us. Eventually I managed to pin him down with a drawer that I yanked out on his head and grabbed him with two pairs of tongs and threw him in the trash can. He was jumping around in there like crazy, trying to climb out, while I ran across the kitchen with the can, trying not to fall down in my cowboy boots. I kept knocking him back down with the tongs, and yelling "Open the door! Get out of my way! Open the door!" I threw the whole can out the back door, where the kitty Tiger took him down with relish.

Looking back, we probably could have killed it with a hoe without too much bloodshed. Maybe we'll try that next time.


Monday, September 15, 2008


the aftermath of hurricane ike has a strange feeling. we received absolutely no damage; in fact the rain was a benefit. but i have many friends who have no electricity and leaky roofs.

i just saw three black hawk helicopters fly down 290 right out my front door.

on the news i see palettes of FEMA "meal replacement equivalents" being unloaded by guys in camo in familiar areas of houston, near where i used to live. (i'm dying to know if they're any good.)

even my brenham walmart is eerily low on supplies. milk, meat, eggs, water, all completely empty. the parking lot is full of cars and RV's. all of the hotels in our area are full of evacuees.

i just saw an arial view of the energy company headquarters. they had hundreds of trucks. they're bringing crews in from out of state to try to get service back up. i saw several energy trucks going down the highway toward houston this morning. insurance company mobile units, also.

it's always a strange feeling to be on the receiving end of this sort of thing. i'm not receiving any aid or anything, but a city that i love is, and it's weird. i'm used to seeing these images on the news and thinking of them as the other side of the world. but this time they're not. they're close, and familiar.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

still hunkering

we made it just fine. no flooding or damage in our area. just some wind and rain.

houston is mostly without power. any of my houston friends are welcome to come bunk with us. not that you can read this, i guess.

stay safe.


Friday, September 12, 2008

hunker down

i haven't decided yet how i feel about the phrase "hunker down," but i just saw someone on cnn use it with a straight face.

but that's what i'm doing. we're officially in the zone for "hurricane force winds" of 75+mph. the wind is starting to pick up, and it feels weird because it's from the north. you wouldn't think that would be a big deal, but it feels all wrong. the trees look funny, like they're not used to bending that way. the animals are acting weird. the rooster has been crowing all day, and the goats are bleating and restless. justin is letting them into the backyard so they can "hunker down" on the back porch. their barn isn't built yet. this morning we had scores of birds in our pond, fleeing from somewhere.

the white zone is for the 75+ wind. we live by the "m" in brenham.

i was going to load up on flashlights, but heb was sold out of everything except "high school musical" flashlights, so i've got five of those.

it is nice to live close enough to watch houston news. it's been live coverage all day. it's strange to see galveston, where i've been a thousand times. the street that my mil used to live on is underwater; i saw her building on tv.

well, i'd better go fill up the bathtub. i'll post in the morning if i have electricity.


Monday, September 8, 2008

wish me luck

Tomorrow is the big day! My licensing exam will be tomorrow and Wednesday.

It's all computerized. The first day and a half are multiple choice, then second afternoon is case-based. It's a strange software with simulated cases. I am presented with a patient and brief history ("65 year old man presents to the emergency room with chest pain"), and then I take it from there. If I want to know vital signs, I click on "order sheet" and type "vital signs" as an order. I don't get any information that I don't ask for . Or I can type "appendectomy" if that's what is needed. (Better not do that for Mr. Chest Pain, though. That would be bad.) Simulated time passes, so if I wait too long to remember the EKG, my patient could die. It's a very odd little software program.

I'm trying to think of it as a video game.

I feel ready, though. Studying has gone well. I could learn more with more time, but I am somewhat back in shape. It feels good to use these old muscles, clear some cobwebs from my brain. The first week or two of studying I couldn't focus for more than an hour or two. But yesterday I made six hours straight with only short breaks, and I could have done lots more if it wasn't time for church. I am happy about the progress I've made.

Big thanks to everyone who's helped out during this time of studying. Thanks to Mamaw and Beth for all of the hours of babysitting so I could study. Thanks to Sandra at the cafe for the gallons and gallons of sweet tea. And thanks honey for your support. I couldn't do it without you.


"I can't do it by myself"

Listen to what my son just said to me:

Mommy, we've got to clean up this house. There's food on the floor. I'll get the vacuum.

5 minutes later, tangled up with the vacuum hose:

Mommy, can you help me with the vacuum?

10 minutes later, after successfully vacuuming the kitchen:

Mommy, we have GOT to clean up this dad-gum house. There's play-doh and toys on the floor. It's a big, big mess. You've got to help me. I can't do it by myself. I'll get the toys. Will you please put away the cereal?

I promise I'm not a slave driver. I really don't make him clean the house. I did help him after that. ; )


Saturday, September 6, 2008

school supplies

Does this make anyone else as happy as it makes me?

All that's missing is a bunch of sharp, yellow, real wood #2 pencils. But I never use pencils so I couldn't justify it.

Don't you just want to go write in a college ruled notebook?


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Into the fray

i haven't yet committed to a position in the upcoming election. there are things i like about both candidates, and dislike about both. i feel strongly about issues on both sides. but i have to put my two cents in about one issue. so many christians out there are all riled up about a woman in authority. so here's where i stand, in case anyone was wondering.

some may be confused who recall that i was a deacon at our last church. allow me to remedy that confusion. deacon in that church, and at christ church today, was not a position of authority. that authority is concentrated on the elder board. deacon is a position of service, much like a "waiter" in original context. i hope that helps for clarity.

another qualification: the council for biblical manhood and womanhood is generally a great resource. i don't agree with 100% of their writings, in particular the harshly patriarchal tone some authors take. but i like the article linked above.

Christ Church

Visit Stephanie's blog for an update on Christ Church.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tag....I'm It

I was never good at sports. Why does blog tag feel like a sport to me? I'm having flashbacks to 6th grade PE, playing dodgeball in the gym. (How many of my Durant friends read this? Who can be the first to name the girl we were so scared of in dodgeball? I mean, it seriously hurt when she tagged you. I remember her name, but I'm interested to see who gets it first....Beth.)

But this time I'm tagged virtually. No gym uniform, no running around in the midday sun on a playground, so I'm game.

The tagging rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag

I've been stalling because I didn't think I could think of 6 random things. But I'll try. Here goes:

1. I faked gym. See above. As in, when my parents asked "How do you like soccer in PE?" My response was that it was a little harder to PRETEND you were actually playing than some of the other sports. Softball, for example: you can just stand there in left field. Of course I'm not going to catch anything. I duck from the ball like Buster Bluth. But at least I don't have to run up and down the field while I'm faking.

2. Parenting came about as naturally to me as being an astronaut.

3. I almost broke up with Justin when we had just started dating because I didn't feel "called" to be a pastor's wife. Too opinionated, too independent, too likely to seek employment.... maybe I should run for vice president.

4. In medical school, I was always the one to raise my hand and ask a stupid question. I realized I would much rather do that than get caught bluffing. I always had people say things to me later like "I'm so glad you asked that; I didn't know either but I was too embarrassed to ask." Not me. I would literally raise my hand in front of a hundred people and say "I'm sorry, but I don't understand what that picture is. Would you please explain it?"

The ability to ask lots of questions without embarrassment is one of the best things I learned in medical school. It has served me well. I ask Justin stupid Bible questions all the time, and I know I drove our builder crazy. ("I'm sorry, I don't understand these symbols on the blueprints. Will you please explain them all to me?")

5. I have always wanted to drive an eighteen wheeler. Maybe it's something to do with my maiden name.

6. I grew up on country music, and it still feels like home to me. Not the new stuff, nothing described as "young country" or "today's country". I'm talking about Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline. My first concert as a small child was Willie Nelson. (My first concert "for me" was Michael Jackson Thriller.)

Well, there's my 6. I tag:

Beth Anderson, Jen Lokey, Heather Hendricks, and Lynsey Kramer.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


jonas found a dead frog in the bathroom this morning. i squealed and jumped, which he thought was hilarious.

check out justin's blog for a video of jonas doing a flip into the pool.


Jonas' pictures

Jonas took all of these with his own camera.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the saddest thing i've ever seen

this poor gorilla has been carrying around her dead baby since he died 4 days ago.

isn't that heartbreaking?


Thursday, August 14, 2008

nope, not dead

hi folks.

as the title says, i'm still alive and kicking. i'm trying to study for my last exam for a medical license, the usmle step 3. (well, next to last. texas medical jurisprudence will have to wait.) SO, all that lovely free time that i love devoting to the glorious world wide web, has been spent on nephrology, infectious disease, cardiology, oncology, etc.

i'm such a slacker.

i feel the same struggle i remember from med school. i need a bumper sticker: i'd rather be baking. let's recap what i've done this week, when i'm supposed to be studying: brownies saturday, turtle cake monday, blueberry muffins tuesday. trip to the outlet mall wednesday. today, blogging. but laundry? no. nutritious meals for the family? nope. i was planning to cover neurology this afternoon, but there's a little sundress for betty on the sewing machine that's calling my name...


at one point i could spend 18 hour days studying in the back corner of the library, with short breaks for meals only (at the memorial hermann cafeteria! which is not where i worked. so much the better.) now i'm doing good to pay attention to study for 2 hours, at best. i've gotten used to the multitask!

(i know some of you doctor-y types i went to school with read this blog. now's your chance to step out of the shadows and leave a comment! you know my study habits were never that impressive, but everybody else will believe me unless you step in.)

well, bye now. time to go suntan by the pool review amytrophic lateral sclerosis.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

kids' church

i may be jumping into a hornets nest with this one, but here goes.

nursery or big church?

this post asks the question. i love this blog and the writer is generally very insightful, but i'm not with him on this one.

to me, it comes down to the purpose of the weekly church service. is it a lecture, to gain facts? a concert, to have an emotional experience? or something else? yes, children are distracting. yes, it's hard for them to be quiet and sit still. but does that add up to a one-way ticket to the nursery?

i'll copy here the comment i left on the post:

taking care of children is not a distraction from worship. it is part of worship itself. would you ask if music is distracting? is the powerpoint screen distracting? the stained glass?

if our goal in worship is the cognitive acquisition of information, or attainment of an emotional meditative experience, then yes, children are a hindrance. but worship is not limited to or defined by those experiences. nothing wrong with them, but they're not the only reasons i go to church.

i want my children to love church and look forward to it. i want them to experience God there. if they can do that better in the nursery, then that's fine. if that happens in big church, even better. but i'm not leaving them in the nursery for my own convenience, and i'm not keeping them with me for my pride. a little flexibility and a little grace go a long way.

right now both of our kids go to the nursery. but here's my goal: i would like for them to be where they worship best, experience God most purely. sometimes that's in play. sometimes it's outside. sometimes it's being held and rocked. sometimes it's singing songs with mom and dad. both of my kids have been in church with me as babies, because that's where they felt safe and secure. laugh if you will, but i swear to you they worshiped as they napped in my lap or bounced to the music. (i think we need to broaden our definition of worship; we tend to define it too narrowly.) but for the restless ages, say 18 months to 4-ish, big church is just hard work without a lot of benefit. so i'm fine with the nursery. but they shouldn't just "sit church out" back there. we should provide worship appropriate to their age.

church is not just about "what i enjoy most" or "how can i best be fed." it's more than that.

church is not a product to be consumed by individuals.

families should not part at the church entrance to each go their own way, reuniting for lunch afterward.

church is also not about "being on our best behavior." many advocates of kids in big church say it's important for kids to learn to sit still and listen. ok, fine, but that's not sufficient reason for me. a child who may be unable to comprehend a college lecture or appreciate a symphony is not correspondingly incapable of worship. sure, teach them to sit still. but don't equate that with worship.

i want to teach my children to love God. to live in community. to sing praise and learn their Bible. they may do any of those things in the nursery or in big church.

or i can fail them in either place.

we need grace here. lots and lots of grace.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Veggie goodness

I am not, by any stretch, vegetarian. But I do need more veggies in my life. So I try to do vegetarian meals every now and then. "Meatless Monday" if you will. It helps me to stop thinking of meat as "the real food" and everything else as "sides," aka "optional if you're still hungry after the meat and bread" or "get this down so you don't feel guilty about the chocolate cupcakes." (Am I talking to anyone out there?) I would love to think of the green stuff as what I most need and want to eat, with a little meat thrown in here and there for protein. That would be much healthier.

Enter my new cookbook.

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman is a great reference for curious omnivores like me. Justin picked this out for me, and it was a great selection. I've tried other vegetarian or even vegan cookbooks, but they too often are preachy, or a little too funky, or call for excessive amounts of tofu. I'm just looking for good recipes eaten by normal people, not self-help. We've got enough preaching around here; I don't need it from a cookbook (wink, wink).

But this book has great ideas, modern and interesting but not weird. I love his style of "theme and variations." For example, he'll list a simple pasta sauce but then 5 ways to modify it, depending on the season or what's available. Or a list of "20 things to put on bruschetta." The "vegetables" chapter is enormous, with lots of information about how to choose and prepare different produce. I think that will help me use up some of the bounty from our CSA.

I like cookbooks that are written by regular home cooks rather than professional chefs. The recipes are very realistic, and most ingredients are available even at small town groceries. If it's a complicated recipe or obscure ingredient, he makes sure to warn you so you don't get in over your head. He's also an omnivore, so it's a good perspective for someone like me who's just experimenting.

To give you an idea, so far I've tried Southwestern Mixed Vegetable Soup, Barley Soup with Seasonal Vegetables (the summer vegetable and roasted variations), Vegetable Lasagna, Buttermilk Blueberry Pie (in an oatmeal crust), Upside Down Plum Rosemary Cake, and Buttermilk Ice Cream. I'm excited to try his Corn Chowder, lots of pizza ideas, Oatmeal Apple Cookies, Olive Oil Cake, and Brown Sugar Cookies with Sea Salt.

I know, I've spent a lot of time in the dessert chapter. So sue me. Most desserts are vegetarian anyway (although he does include vegan recipes and modifications, which are harder to find), but these desserts are a little bit healthier but still feel like real dessert. More whole grains, natural sweeteners, that sort of thing. Baby steps.


Bloggy love

My friend Steph sent me a blog award! A mom of a little baby boy who received a heart transplant started the award to raise awareness about organ donation. Click here to read more.

Here's the award and the story from the original site:

The rules of this award are: SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with all those blogs out there that you love. All the people who make you smile. All those that make you laugh. All those that make your day. All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog. **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same**


Gabriele, girl, you're gonna save the world. Congratulations on the wedding!

Mandi, you could singlehandedly bring back pioneering. You rock.

Share the love, ladies!


Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 4th Parade

Chappell Hill hosts an annual parade for Independence Day, and it is quite a slice of small town Americana. Anyone in town can enter: Tape some flags on your lawnmower, grab a bucket of candy, and you're ready to go. I love it.

I'm sentimental about that sort of thing, and always tear up at the national anthem. But this year really got me. Standing by us was a young girl, 25 maybe, in Army camos with an airborne patch and beret. She was with two kids, probably siblings but maybe hers. Here she is:

When the veterans' float went by, all these old grisly vets called out to her, "Soldier! Thank you!" and just showered her with candy. I tell you, I could've really used a hankie at that point.

Here are some more pics from the parade. Justin took most of these.

These ladies did a little drill team routine. I have no idea what organization they represent, if any, but I like their spunk.

Same goes for them.

Pastor Dean and his wife Toni.

Betty with the bounty.

Happy 4th.