Monday, April 28, 2008


As I sat around trying to think how best to summarize the past 24 hours, the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day came to mind. Nothing catastrophic has occurred, but a series of annoying events have taken place. It all started last night...

I went outside to start the car and sure enough it wouldn't start. I ran a diagnostic test to determine if it was the battery (read: I turned the headlights on to be sure they worked) and it wasn't that. I tried to start the car in neutral, read the owner's manual, and even called my dad for some expert opinion. NOTHING. To top it off, David is in up-state New York for work (so I was on my own), it was raining the entire time I was outside trying to get the car started, and the car was parked on the side of our street that is a Monday-designated street cleaning zone. If I was unable to get the car moved by 9:30 this morning, I'd receive a big fat ticket from the DC parking police. The thought of a ticket made me madder than it should have. After about an hour of fussing in the car, I came inside to make a plan for getting the car towed and fixed. At my dad's request, I went back out to the car about half an hour later to try it one more time. And sure enough it started. The evening had its one bright note.

What should have been another bright note was the fact that my statistics class was canceled this morning and I should have been able to stay home for the day. However, my rotation advisor sent me an email last night saying she wanted to see my data analysis BEFORE our meeting on Tuesday. I had about 90 percent of the work complete, but the finishing touches had to be done at school using a statistical computing program I don't have at home. So I had to go to Baltimore this morning. And I missed the train at 6:55am - watched it leaving from the station as I was exiting the metro. I had to wait half an hour in the rain. I get to school only to realize that my flash drive (with all my programming and original data) is at home in DC. Luckily my google documents were updated and it didn't cause me too much heartache, but it was still frustrating.

I met my goal of leaving school at 9:45 this morning - with everything sent off to my advisor. So I'm walking to the train station on the sidewalk when a car comes up from behind me and zooms through a huge puddle on the road. I was soaked. Seriously wet all over my left side from head to toe.

I got home a little before noon. My no good day continues as the rain continues to fall. It's too wet outside to go for a run, and I have hours of statistics homework to complete and finals to study for.

And to top it all off, my pants don't fit any more!

Monday, April 21, 2008


During their visit to DC this past weekend, my parents brought a letter that was mailed to me at their address. Before opening it, I glanced at the return address label. I recognized the street name, but not the sender's. I opened the envelop to find a one page typed letter inside...

In short, it was a thank you note from a family in my hometown in Pennsylvania whose daughter was part of the recreational swim team I coached during the summer after my freshman year of college. This girl was only eight or nine years old when I knew her, but in the years since she has gone on to swim competitively. This past winter she along with her teammates at Hampton High School broke one of school and pool relay records that had belonged to me. (They also went on to win gold at the WPIAL meet, which is awesome!)

The letter went on to say that it was my words of encouragement to this young girl during the summer of 1997 that led her to pursue competitive swimming. Her mom remarked about how much her daughter had learned during the past ten years of competitive swimming and how grateful she was that I took the time to complement and encourage her daughter when she was just learning to swim. Those words, my words, forever changed her life. And she will forever be a WPIAL champion and school record holder in swimming.

Needless to say I was surprised and deeply touched by the letter. As I read the letter for the second time last night, I cried (I'm hormonal - so give me a break!). It was a true honor to hear how my life had touched and changed the life of another. It also cause me to pause and think about the goals I am currently pursuing. To be honest, that letter was more rewarding than setting the curve in my epidemiology class or being asked to TA a seminar class next semester. Although I want to continue to on my path towards getting a PhD, I need to be mindful of the fact that there are things more important in life. Somehow I need to find a way to share my knowledge and encourage other to find and follow their academic, professional, or personal passion.

Receiving this letter also caused me to reflect on the individuals who have impacted my life; those who have encouraged and directed me along my path in life. Unlike the family who wrote to me, I've never taken the time to write a quick note of thanks. But now that I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of one of those notes, I think my attitude has changed. There are a handful of people who definitely deserve my thanks and it is high time I give it to them.

So that's what I'm going to do. I've been looking for a project to accomplish during my break between the spring and summer semesters. I'm going to write my thank you notes and let those people who've encouraged me the way I encouraged the young eight year old swimmer that I'm truly grateful.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Each day is a gift; life is precious.

And, unfortunately, sometimes it takes a scary, near-death experience to remind me of these two simple facts. The title of this post is taken from the subject line of an email I received from a friend this morning about 12 hours after we (along with our husbands) experienced one of those events that really reminds us of how important, fragile, and precious life really is.

Last night, like most Wednesday nights, David and I were passengers in a car with our good friends on the way home from our weekly prayer group meeting. It really was like any other night until we heard the "bang, bang, bang, bang, bang" noise coming from the sidewalk. Then we felt some thump, thump, thumps on the car. I think we all wanted to believe it was the first fireworks of the season, but it was clear to all of us that it wasn't. It was gunshots. As we turned to look out the back of the car, we could see a man on the ground (obviously shot) and several others running from the scene.

As we continued on our drive, we did a quick assessment to make sure everyone was physically all right. And we did a little bit of an emotional check-in. We pulled up in front of our house and David and I said our thank yous and walked inside. As we were walking up our front steps, I noticed a spot on the side of our friends' car. I mentioned said spot to David and hypothesized that it could be a bullet hole, but quickly I steered my mind away from that thought and towards a big, old bird poop on the car door.

This morning, we got an email from our friends and a call from their insurance company. It was a bullet hole on the side of their car. Had the shot been six inches higher, this post would have an extremely different tone. Tonight I'm just grateful for the protection that surrounded us last night. Yes, we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. And, yes, having a bullet hole in your car door sucks. But the four (five if you count Baby Dawson, who was there, too) of us are safe. Completely free of harm. And we're all grateful for another day. All thanks does belong to God.

I'm not sure if I've had the time to really feel the impact/gravity of this situation. Maybe it's just too scary and too raw for me to go any deeper emotionally. Who knows? Right now I'm just grateful. I'm grateful that my husband was next to me when I woke up this morning; that my belly is still swollen (read: fat); that I got to enjoy the beautiful day. There may be more thoughts about the events of last night to share in the days and weeks to come, but for now I'm just grateful to be alive. And grateful that my husband and friends are safe as well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


As many of you know, David is an amazing cook. For our second date, he invited me to his apartment for dinner. I walked in - not knowing what to expect in terms of cuisine - to a four course salmon dinner. It was delicious, and I was so impressed. In the past three years, he has cooked up some fabulous meals; too many to list here. But rest assured, we do have a food diary and we've kept our weekly menus from the past two years.

This past weekend David made "chicken" (read: soy chicken product) wraps for lunch. I saw him add peas, raw cabbage, and red onions to the wrap. I even saw him slap on some tomato paste and garlic; however, I failed to see him slather on the horseradish.

I like horseradish, but to quote David:

"Horseradish is not subtle."

I took one bite of my wrap (which was extremely good) and immediately knew there was horseradish on it. My nose started burning and tears welled up in my eyes. At one point during the meal, I basically choked on the horseradish - my nose was burning so badly I forgot to swallow and took a deep breath instead. The sights and sounds produced during my choke were quite comical. We had a good laugh at my expense.

Since our weekend wrap with horseradish, we have finished our jar of the yummy stuff and are eager to get the grocery store for another. For some reason, both David and I enjoy the yummy flavor of the horseradish and the burning nose and teary eyed sensations that come along with it.

Here's to husbands who like to experiment with food, are extremely good cooks, and are not afraid to load on the horseradish...


Update: Homework hiatus... I'm done with all my homework that is due for the next WEEK. That means I'm going to read a book for fun (Guns, Germs, & Steel), enjoy the warm weather from my front porch, take care of the pile of clothes laying beside my side of the bed, and just enjoy life without statistics or epi homework.

Dinner: we're having veggie burgers and tator tots tonight!

Weekend: Doctors appointment on Friday (16.5 weeks along). Then my parents are coming into town for the weekend. Hopefully the weather will be nice. If not, we can go to the new Target.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Until this afternoon, I used to pride myself on being organized with my school work. There are certain areas of my life that lack organization: my sock drawer, the linen closet, and the trunk of my car, but for the most part I am very organized with my school work. I color code reading assignments, systematically go through homework assignments, and have developed my own short-hand to highlight important thoughts, ideas, theories, and vocab in text books. I have also become a super saver when it comes to papers, presentations, and other documents. My existing practice has been to save copies of all documents on my hard drive, my thumb drive, and my google documents account.

This practice went completely to pot this past weekend!

On Friday I worked with my mentor on my research practicum project. She helped me get a couple of complex formulas into my excel spreadsheet. But instead of saving my new spreadsheet on my thumb drive, she gave me a new one. By doing so, I had two documents on two thumb drives with two different sets of data. It made for a confusing weekend of data management.

I thought I had everything under control until this morning, in hast, I saved one document as the other and lost a weekend's worth of calculations. I didn't realize my mistake until I was in the library this afternoon. After checking and rechecking and then rechecking again to be SURE I had deleted one of the analyses, I gave up and said a quick prayer that the original analyses were saved on my computer.

I arrived home two hours ago to find my original files on my computer. I resaved the appropriate files on my thumb drives and google documents. I also finished my presentation for tomorrow. Now I can go out for a run with my husband and enjoy the evening...

Unfortunately, this little mis-step in disorganization has not inspired me to organize my sock drawer or the linen closest. However, it has forced me to slow down while working to be sure that I am not making little mistakes that could be extremely costly.


For those who haven't heard firsthand about my growing "beer belly", I'm starting to look fat. I'm keeping a list of everyone who stares at my stomach, but is afraid to ask whether I'm pregnant or not. I should have a funny blog post about this in the future.

Dinner tonight: baked eggplant Parmesan.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Washington DC is a beautiful city all year long, but there is nothing like the spring. Cherry blossoms, daffodils, tulips, green trees, freshly cut lawns (or 2x6 square feet of grass in front of your home - you decide whether that constitutes a lawn or not!). The sights and smells around the city at this time of year are simply delightful.

On a recent walk through our neighborhood and the neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, here are two of my favorite sights...

I really appreciate the individual(s) who made the stop sign into a flower. It just adds so much to the spring-time atmosphere.


Spring-time activities: Since it is beautiful outside right now, I've turned our front porch into a make-shift office/coffee shop. Me, my computer, my wireless internet, and a decaf iced-vanilla coffee are enjoying the afternoon.

School: I have a huge data analysis assignment for my research practicum class due on Tuesday. I'm about 95% done with the analysis and will be spending the rest of the weekend putting together a presentation discussing the analysis and results. (For those of you interested in suicide rates among females in Maryland, I have a lot of statistics to share with you.)

Rest of the weekend: Out to dinner with friends tonight in the suburbs. Tomorrow I am teaching Sunday School for the youth, but really I'm not doing anything because Pastor Faith is in town and going to spend the Sunday School hour with the kids! I will just act as the disciplinarian! And tomorrow afternoon I have a ton of statistics homework to get caught up on...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I'm one of those people who gets headaches. My first headache (that I can remember) was on the first day of first grade. I remember sitting in Miss Boyle's classroom and just wanting to either cry or put my head down on my desk to nap. I'm sure the headache was caused by the excitement and anxiety of the first day of school as well as the hot classroom (I didn't go to school with air conditioning until 9th grade) and the first full day of structured education in my life. Since then, I've had many headaches.

I don't remember any specific headaches during middle school; however, during high school I had more days with a headache than without. My headaches in high school were most likely due to dehydration. I refused to use the bathrooms at school because they were scary and smelled like smoke. Plus we only had three minutes in between classes, which is not enough time to take care of business. To prevent me from having to go to the bathroom, I didn't drink during school hours. Once I got to college and had an abundant supply of beverages in the cafeteria and time to actually go to the bathroom, I stayed hydrated throughout the day and rarely had a headache.

Post-college, my headaches have been few and far between. Most of the time they are brought on by dehydration or stress. This past December and January I had two of the worst headaches of my life. The second one was so bad that my doctor sent me to the ER to be sure I didn't have something (like brain tumor) causing my headaches. Two CT scans later, it was determined that my brain is healthy. The cause of my crazy-bad headaches is undetermined.

Yesterday afternoon I felt a headache coming on (probably the result of the thousands of hormones running feeling in my body). I decided to feed my headache when I got home from school (meaning I ate some cereal and had several glasses of water). That just made things worse. My headache became increasingly worse. By 6:00pm I was in bed; at 7:00pm I resorted to a little caffeine (to open my blood vessels); and then I slept. At 9:00pm I woke up feeling slightly better and eager to drink some more water. I was asleep again by 10:00pm and didn't get up until this morning. My headache is gone. However, I do have a headache-hangover, which a yucky feeling (from head to toe) from feeling so crappy yesterday.

So, what causes headaches? And how can they be prevented? Or how can you lessen the pain once a headache has settled in? Any home-remedies? Anything a pregnant lady should or should not do in the midst of a killer headache?

Friday, April 4, 2008


This morning as I was showering I was thinking about a story for my blog about my b-ower or shath. What is a b-ower/shath? It is my daily shower that has quickly turned into a bath because of a clogged drain. Over the past week, our drain has slowed to a near standstill. By the time I'm done showering, I am standing in a bathtub full of water.

This is the first "major" problem David and I have encountered in the house we own. Before we could just call Mike or Debbie (our past landlords who lived right above us) and they would have to fix our problem. Not this time! We are responsible for fixing the shower drain on our own. David did a lot of plunging (with our new plunger bought at the Target 5 blocks from our house) and we used two different types of liquid plumber. And no drainage. Actually in the past couple of days things have been worse. The water from a normal length shower was taking ten minutes or more to drain. It was getting disgusting. Specifically, standing in INCHES of filthy water when you're intending to get yourself clean is counter-productive, and the amount of soap scum accumulating in our bathtub was unbelievable.

Anyways, this morning I am showering and thinking about my story of my b-ower when all of a sudden I hear what sounds like a huge gulp of water. Then I started to notice that the water in the tub is going down. I turned the water off and low-and-behold the shower is properly draining. A BATHROOM MIRACLE! I turned the water back on and enjoyed another five minutes in the shower; my first non-bath/shower in about a week. It was delightful. So we no longer have to snake out our shower drain and I can get to work on removing the soap scum from our tub.


Dinner tonight: David is cooking up some fish, which should be yummy.

Weekend plans: I have to write a paper on the statistical analysis plan for my research practicum project. I'm also teaching Sunday School this week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I'm taking a lot of statistics courses this semester. I have an advanced methods class (we are studying regression analysis right now) and a statistical programming course. Additionally, I'm in the analysis phase of my research practicum class, which in essence is a third applied statistics course. I spend a great deal of time each week doing the following:

1. doing statistics homework
2. developing statistical methodologies
3. writing statistical programs (to be run on SAS)
4. analyzing data.

In an effort to get my work done AND enjoy some of my time, I'm allowing myself to watch MacGyver (online at while doing homework for my methods course. Sure, my homework is taking a little longer than normal to complete, but I am so enjoying watching old episodes of MacGyver. It helps the time pass, and I always learn something from each episode. Yesterday, for example, I learned the components needed to make homemade dynamite.

The bottomline is I'm getting my work done and I am so much happier.

MacGyver is a great show. Last night I watched season 1 episode 5 in which Mac has to defeat a army of killer ants destroying the rain forest in South America (for those of you who've read The Poisonwood Bible, it is a similar situation to the night of the fire ants described in the book). It was a great episode and one I had never seen before. I encourage you to take advantage of the old episodes available online!