Saturday, May 21, 2011

Our Beagles

I seem to be on a roll of serious post, light-hearted post, serious post, light-hearted post so this seems like ample time to do a light-hearted post and tell you all about my doggies.  I have noticed that people who don’t own dogs think there is no reason to consider them so important in your life.  Now I am not as naive to say that I will always care for them as I do now but these dogs have taught me so much about training, discipline, selfless love and care and I know it is only a tiny ray of foreshadowing to what it will be like to be a parent. (can you say ray and foreshadowing in the same sentence?  .... seems contradictory.... oh well I said it)
Buster and Arden are our Beagle babies.  

About Buster:
We bought our first house in June of 2008 and we fixed it up and moved in July 4th weekend.  By the time September rolled around we thought it was time to get our first dog.  (Phil’s first dog EVER) So we researched which kind of dog would be a good fit for us and our personalities.  We also considered our budget when choosing a breed as many breeds can be over the top expensive.  We found ourselves in every animal store and shelter looking for our new family member but we just weren’t satisfied, so we took to and searched beagle puppies and then there he was our little puppy staring us in the face with a bright yellow scrunchy in his mouth.  We were smitten.  So we called and begged the family to let us come meet him and possibly take him to his forever home.  We brought him home immediately and just fell in love with our new best friend.

Characteristics of Beagles:

Beagles are very VERY loving.

Beagles LOVE food! Human and dog and they gobble everything.
(except Buster I’ll talk about that later)

Beagles always follow their noses...
              so if you want a dog that you can take off the leash and will stay next to you...        
                                                              don’t get a beagle.
          Beagles can be barkers and howlers... get one from a good breeder to prevent this.                                                 
                    (Arden and Buster rarely howl and don’t bark too much)
                                         Beagles are submissive to other dogs.
                                                         Beagle are STUBBORN and VERY smart!
                                Beagles wouldn’t hurt a soul and will put up with a lot of annoyances.
We quickly learned that Buster was much much smarter than we originally assumed.
One story, as an example of this, is when he was just a puppy probably only a year old I was playing fetch with him in the backyard.  I threw the ball but he wasn’t looking and when he came over to me to see why I wasn’t playing anymore I asked him to go get his ball.  So he took off nose-to-the-ground sniffing -- just like a beagle, he came back so proud of himself with a ball... but it wasn’t the ball I had thrown.  I laughed and praised him for finding a ball but then told him it was the wrong ball and to find the other ball.  To my shock he took off nose-to-the ground sniffing and came back, within seconds, with the other ball!!! I was amazed.

Jumping ahead a bit in Summer 2009 we took in a neighborhood dog that had been left behind by some tenants that couldn’t afford him anymore.  They left him tied up in the backyard with just a request to a neighbor to feed and water him once a day.  He was the sweetest basset hound you have ever met and his name was Buster.  haha.  So we took him in as a rescue and gave him some love.  This was our Buster’s (now called Little Buster) first time with another dog in his “territory”  it was a bit of an adjustment but they grew to like each other.  So we got “Big Buster” cleaned up loved and healthy and decided it was time to find him a new forever home.  We posted him on craigslist and got a bunch of emails from crazy people but then we got an email from a great couple that lives on a ranch and wanted a dog to scare away coons, not chase the chickens, and be a great loving- obedient dog.  I knew he was loving and obedient and it was a prefect fit.

About Arden:
After Big Buster was gone we realized that our Buster was lonely and needed a friend and more attention than we had energy for.  So we started looking on craiglist again.  We new we wanted another Beagle and NOT a puppy.  Then we found Arden!  He was the same age and male so we thought we would check him out.  We decided he was a fit and brought him home.  BOY did we have our work cut out for us.  He needed to learn to sit, he had anxiety issues, he pooped at random (that was weird - I think it was a nervous thing being in a new place), he barked and growled at men with dark hair or features.  He was kind of a mess.  Came from a sweet home but he needed to learn our way of life.  So training began.  Arden is truly the sweetest most loving dog ever.  He always wants to be snuggled up and wants to please.  But we are pretty sure he isn’t full beagle.  I believe he is have beagle and half Jack-Russle terrier.  This is proved by his courser fur, smaller build, ability to jump super high, smaller legs and paws, desire to cuddle, and HYPER activity!  But we still love him.

Brotherly Love.
They say dogs look like their owners....
I don't know what they are talking about.

Funny differences in Buster and Arden:
Buster likes to “savor” his treats - Arden gobbles his treats.
Buster likes soft food (must add water) - Arden chops down and any food.
Buster likes his space, his own chair - Arden likes to sit on top of you.
Arden likes to walk around on his hind legs - Buster can’t stand on his hind legs for anything

After he was "fixed".

What I have learned from being a beagle doggie mommie:
Consistency in training is the key.
Using the same tone of voice in training is important

Eye contact is important when training
Routine is the difference between a smooth day and a chaotic day.

I’m the disciplinarian, Phil is the push over. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Adding pic cause people like pics.
This is me and my brother.
I have been thinking a lot about anxiety and I have been reading books, listening to conferences and talks and biblical teaching on worry and anxiety.  Now I come by anxiety naturally (being a first born and believing my whole life that I have to be perfect – just ask my Mom she will tell you my WHOLE LIFE), it’s my struggle and sin that I don’t even have to consciously choose… it is so ingrained in me that it is my basic response to anything.  I know, in my heart, it is sin but I can so easy rationalize it as if it is just the only way to be.  It consumes me.  So what do I worry or become anxious about… this I have been seeking to know.  I was listening to a conference talk this morning and the speaker asks a very poignant question.  She said, “What is your treasure? What are you seeking? This is what you worry about.”  So this is what I am going to reflect on….

Now for about my anxiety:

It always seems crazy to me that when people speak on worry they always talk about financial worry or food worry or clothes… but seriously I’m just going to be blunt – yes I like clothes and I like to look nice and I like to be able to pay my bills and I like to eat good food but I’m a middle class American (and I’m content to be a middle class American - I do realize a lot of people aren’t and want to get a higher and higher status – but I am.)  So I do have nice enough clothes that can make cute enough outfits, I have food, I live within my means and so I can pay my bills… but I still am anxious!  BUT ABOUT WHAT?  It’s not what the speakers seem to focus on.  And then it hits me I am anxious about me.  I’m anxious that my best isn’t good enough.  That I am going to always let others down not “get it right” the FIRST time.  I don’t like learning (because it is often slow and difficult).  I like to know things but I don’t like the process of learning – making mistakes having to make corrections, the time it takes.  I just want the instant gratification of complete and this anxiety comes out a lot at work. 

Here is a pic of an ad I did for work
Oh work.  How exactly did I pick a career that constant critique and editing and change is daily, hourly, … remember that little word CONSTANT?  Hhmmmm.  Well anyway, creative work is always a work in progress, marketing is ever evolving and changing and so I worry.  I am anxious that I won’t measure up.  The funny thing is there isn’t really a measuring stick.  How do you measure an ever evolving process – so I create my own standard which is  PERFECTION!  Super!  I’ve set the bar to impossible.  Another aspect of my worry is my own rights.  The rights that I have set in my head that people should respect ME, that I shouldn’t be so flexible and giving because people will just run over ME, that I should have my boundaries respected because it’s my right!  Is it?  Well I’m still thinking about this one.

Now for a soap box:  Brace yourself.

So here is my other thing about talks on worry and anxiety.  Everyone seems to quote Matthew 6
 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
They talk about when Jesus talks about feeding the birds and they quote passages that talk about all our needs being taken care of… okay I’m going to take this slow… so let’s process this a little bit. 

Jesus constantly talks being thirsty – 
but he says to drink from the well of life.
     Jesus tells us to store our treasure in heaven – 
      because everything here rots away.
                   Jesus feeds the crowd fish and bread – 
                   not because they are hungry but because he wants them to 
                    listen and not worry about their earthly hunger.

          Jesus says – “Is not life more than food, 
                                   and the body more than clothes?”

… so follow me here… 
He then goes on to talk about the basic necessities of life… for birds.  okay… BUT he doesn’t EVER EVER EVER talk about the souls of birds.  So he then says, “are you not much more valuable than they?”  YES we are eternally more important than birds.  And Jesus was provided to us with the eternal salvation and redemption that indeed gives us life….

so here I go… I am open for being wrong… but I can’t get this out of my head so I am hoping that by attempting to put it on paper I can at least have it said.

This is a well in honor of my friend's baby.
They started the ministry Holden Uganda to
build clean water wells in Uganda.
I cannot say that Jesus is promising that I will have food on the table or that I will be clothed. He is saying my eternal soul is redeemed by Jesus and has life and I therefore should not worry because this life is fleeting – like dew on the morning grass.  I’m just saying, would this (the talks I listen to on worry) really be talks given to those living in the the poorest of countries and conditions - those whose children starve to death in front of them because there is no food.  Those who don’t have clean water to drink or a roof over their head or clothes covering their bodies as American’s have deemed appropriate.  Is not the gospel for them as well?  Could I say to them… you do not have in this life because you don’t need it and in the same breath say that I need food on the table, clothes on my back and a roof over my head?  NO!  

I say you don’t have in this life because 
you don’t need it for eternal life. 

Woe to us rich we are so wrong we don’t even know we are wrong!  “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14

End of soap box.

My anxiety is me… and it is selfish.  My pressure is manmade and it is sin.  My “rights” are not rights promised to me they are sin.

So where does that really leave me in my anxiety?  Well I find the majority of my anxiety is at work.  I stress about getting projects out on time with limited time to work on them.  I stress about my projects being done right the first time (because I really don’t have time to do them twice or three times.)  But what matters?  I would say that what matters is that I do my best.  Do my work unto the Lord and if I do my best and it doesn’t please someone they way they think it should or the way I think it should, I know I have done my best. Now I don’t think this means I ought to work extra hours to accomplish ever task given to me in a day.  I think it means 40 hours of work a week are the parameters I am expected and required to fulfill for my job (“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:21) and in that time I will do my best.  I should not put up walls and barriers between me and my co-workers, I should receive them as they are and love them as Christ calls us to love.

Not so easy. Bleh.  That will probably be a-whole-nother post.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Bird Walk

I found out about the Bird Walk because I follow Lewisville TX on Facebook, which is pretty awesome really because they are always telling me stuff I can do or about the city that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.  So this was a guided Bird Walk at LLELA which is Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area.  You can actually go out there any Friday-Sunday for $5 but the guided tour intrigued me.  Yes it started at 7:30am... but it’s the early bird that catches the worm....right!?!
I am happy to report Phil decided to come with me on this adventure!!!! Yay!  Let’s just take a moment and soak it in. ..... 


So with nothing but our camera and tripod we set out.  I saw nothing because we found out that in the “sport” of bird watching that’s pretty measly.  These people showed up with giant tripod scopes, bird books, camo, notepads, walking sticks and of course binoculars.  We were definitely the newbies.  Lucky for us they were glad to share, so we got to see some beautiful birds through super powerful scopes (that no camera I can afford will ever capture the detail from that distance.)  
I quickly picked up from the guide that our mission today was to see a Painted Bunting.  I was very excited about this because I was just “challenged” by my brother to see one in my neck of the woods.  The early morning wasn’t turning out too promising though it was pretty chilly and windy and I guess it turns out the birds feel the same way as I do about chilly wind... HIDE!  So they stayed hidden and we enjoyed the rest of nature and the hike we were on.
Here are just a few pretty nature pictures I took along the way.... I did, after all, have a camera ;)

So after round one our Tour Guide decided our best place of the day for seeing anything would be in the swamp area... sounds ominous but away we went.  Now this was much better.  The birds were much more active and plentiful and the hike was awesome.  I honestly didn’t know Lewisville had any area like this place.  

Here is what we saw:  

White Egret... I knew this was a big pretty white bird but I had no idea it has giant bright yellow feet.  So funny and cool!  
I didn't take this, but see his yellow feet!
I took this one though!
Then we saw what everyone was calling a Dick Thistle... it was a very pretty little bird with a red chest and blue head and back.  Now I tried to google a picture of this for you (btw don’t do that: you get milk thistle weeds and well.... you can guess what else) but I didn’t find a picture which now has me curious if this bird really is as hard to see as everyone was saying because I tell you when they saw this bird their days (maybe months) we made!  Seriously they were super excited so we only thought it appropriate to be equally as excited because after all it was our FIRST bird watching trip and we had seen this oh so illusive Dick Thistle.   
Then we saw a Belted King Fisher.... I really like his mohawk!  Pretty cool bird.  
Again didn't take this but sweet mohawk!

The bird I probably watched and followed the longest was the Prothonotary Warbler.  Beautiful bright yellow guy.  Here is a picture I took of him.  He is in the circle of color on the right and he wanted me to go away so he could fly into his house the structure on the left.  Below the one I took is a good google pic of what he looks like up close.
See the little dot on the right.
Didn't take this one but this is what he looked like.
It was fun to watch him, at one point he had a giant worm hanging out of his mouth as he hopped around the trees.
In the river bed area we saw Sand Pipers which were in a flock and that was fun to watch them duck down into the water for food and then clean themselves up.
Here are a few other pictures I took because I couldn’t get quality bird shots.

Just loved this twisted vine!
No idea what these things are but they looked cool.

Just look at his intricate wings!  So amazing!
In the end I didn’t see a Painted Bunting but several people did see an Indigo Bunting and we heard lots of others.
All in all it was a great adventure and I must admit pretty relaxing!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

PA school tried to kill my marriage

Disclaimer: This is a long one…sorry.

I really want to write this article.  My intention is to share the crazy journey PA school has imposed in our life.  I don’t write it as a warning (because you can’t prepare anyone for this journey even if you try…they won’t listen).  And I don’t write it as a complaint (it has been hard but there is nothing I want more for Phil than for him to follow his dream and have a career he loves). I guess what I want is to share what I have learned and continue to learn among the struggle of PA school extravaganza.  And ultimately proclaim that circumstances in life can really suck but God is good and is allowing growth in our lives during this journey - even if the growth is hard to see at the time.

Here are specifics on why I named this article what it is:
  1.  First semester, my husband was required to be in class 8-5 M-F and then had to study and do lab work… no time to hardly sleep = no relationships = grumpy husband and wife.
  2.  56 classmates – only 8-9 are male… my husband talks on the phone to women and hangs out with women constantly… I trust him completely it can get totally annoying = grumpy wife.
  3. PA school administration has been very unorganized = constantly flexing schedule = super grumpy wife
  4. (WARNING maybe be TMI…just skip if you don’t want to read)… PA school scheduled my husband to do a female pelvic exam on Valentine’s day = VERY grumpy wife… I know it’s part of medicine but it still ticked me off.
  5. Rotation in the ER – requirements: work 17 shifts in 21 day…oh but wait one of those days you can’t work ‘cause we scheduled a mandatory class meeting and another day doesn’t really count cause you have to take an exam.  Now pick your schedule… oh but wait… you have a grading doctor you are required to work with for 5 of your 17 shifts… oh but wait… you’re not allowed to work with the same doctor more than 3 times in a row… so figure it out and oh by the way the doctors will switch shifts at random just cause they can… so figure it out… and tell your wife to deal = No she can’t plan anything cause you have NO CLUE what your schedule is EVER.  Okay… must laugh now… it’s only 3 weeks right?!?
Okay that’s probably enough ranting, those are just a few examples, hope you find these things as ridiculous and funny as I do.  Sometimes life is just weird and you have to deal.  It’s a struggle I have but nothing like being thrown in the deep in to learn how to swim.

Now on to the official article…

Since today is exactly 1 year away from graduation for Phil I thought a perfect time to reminisce the past two years.

The first lesson and probably the hardest lesson I’ve learned is you can’t buck up enough to get the attention you want.  There is no amount of complaining or crying or being angry that will get you the right attention you desire.  You have to pray and wait on the Lord to provide – not your husband to change.  I am so thankful I married a man who desires to please the Lord.  Who searches and strives to obey.
The first semester of PA school was by far the worst time of PA school and definitely the hardest on our marriage.  First off all, I don’t like change and let’s face it; PA school was a GIGANTIC change.  Phil was in school or at school studying about 18 hours a day.  He drove to and from about 2 hours, slept 4 and did it all over again just about 7 days a week.  He was exhausted and frustrated.  And I…well I was sort of coasting unhappily (to put it lightly).

White Coat Ceremony Celebration Dinner
The high we had been on from the shear excitement of getting into PA school to the White Coat ceremony and the first day of class was quickly smothered by the reality that PA school is HARD!    Phil was all consumed with studying and I needed other things to do. After a semester of being miserable I realized that I had to “find myself” again. Just me, what I wanted to do apart from Phil, apart from work, just me!  This is when I attended the Citizens Police Academy, then I did a 21 day cleanse.  Both of those things were to fill time but they were also about finding out what I enjoy again.

Police Training Gun Range
I did the whole course!

After the first year of horror was over Phil had a much needed month break.   In this time he did a lot of reflecting and prioritizing which is when the change in his perspective really began.  He realized that having his number one priority studying was hurting his relationship with God, with me, and with friends/classmates.  So when the next semester began he already had plans to make a concerted effort to be home in the evenings at the same time every night so we could eat dinner together and talk.  He slept more which I whole heartily believe helped him retain his studying and his semester was much more fruitful in both of our lives.

Year two has sort of flown by really.  We got into a routine and set to keep it.  We joined a church and got involved in a small group which I think has blessed us more than we know.  I finally realized the goodness of the Lord leading us to buy a house in Lewisville.  After two years of cursing the drive and wondering why we had made such a dumb purchase I realized that had we not. If we would have moved to Fort Worth we would have probably (inevitably) lost contact with our good friends in Dallas, not had a church that we love, and not joined in fellowship with other believers.

We still managed to have some fun!
Now rotations has started which means the third and final year of PA school has officially arrived and it is thrilling to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.  The constant state of schedule change is still hard for me to adjust to with a joyful spirit but this too shall pass…. as they say. For now I have joined a book club, made more efforts to spend time with friends, and try to just take one day at a time. And I believe Phil and I have a much stronger marriage now and will even more after PA school than we did before or could have had without this journey.  

As James 1 says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Well that's it.  If you made it through thanks for reading!