Friday, December 12, 2008


So.... this year at my church, as a congregation, we are decorating a Chrismon tree. A Chrismon is a handmade ornament with a design that symbolizes Christ. The name is derived from the words Christ and Monogram. Originated in 1957 by Francis Spencer, the daughter of Lutheran missionaries, Chrismons are used by churches of several denominations to decorate their sanctuaries.

I started out with my pattern, a fleur-de-lis, some left over white polar fleece and gold lame.

My first attempt failed miserably. I tried to use my serger to put two pieces of fleece together, but I couldn't really get into the curves, nooks, and crannies like I needed to. My serger has a knife that cuts the fabric as it is being stitched, so my fleur-de-lis started looking more like the Bat-Man symbol.

Attempt number two only yielded slightly better results. Stitched on my old trusty cheap-o sewing machine, it looks more like it is supposed to, but the fleece was too stretchy and the cut aways made it all janky looking.

The third time's the charm - well, sort of. I ditched the fleece and found some old craft felt. Using a slightly more stylized pattern, this (what I'm calling successful) Chrismon has the handmade feel, but also adheres to my secondary world view of going over the top (my primary world view being hospitality).

There's always a huge mess after unbridled creativity (I so totally need a dedicated "project room" in my house).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

So.... along with my spectacle of a Christmas tree, I decorated the mantle with greenery, lights, decorations, stockings, and collected figurines.

I bought new stockings this year (because I needed three that coordinated, instead of just two).

So Santa would know who's stocking was whose, I personalized each with a small photo frame ornament. Hopefully, Santa would have figured out that the high-heeled boot stocking was Rachel's without the photo, but he's awfully busy on Christmas Eve.

I love the little frame I found for Rachel's picture, and the picture of Travis is pretty cute too (especially on that stocking with all those sequins).

Here's a close up of some of the figurines on the mantle. They are Byers Choice Carolers. The boy was given to me by my friends Patrick and Monica. A caroling Jack Russell Terrier sits next to him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nostalgic Spectacle

So.... I'm essentially finished decorating for Christmas. The past few years have seen the big tree in the living room with gold decorations, but I was inspired a couple of months ago to change things up. I'd move the gold decor to the smaller (dining room) tree and use the big tree as a backdrop for my more sentimental ornaments. The idea was to have a nostalgic tree, one similar to my childhood. Of course, I sometimes cannot leave well enough alone, and my sweet, endearing, memory-laden tree was transformed into, what else, a Nostalgic Spectacle!

First things first: colored lights! Last year on the big tree, I blew a (non-replaceable) fuse on the extension cord (snaked through the middle of the tree) that was apparently overloaded with too many strands (five days before Christmas). This year, I have 1300 lights on two separate extension cords, plugged into a power strip, plugged into a remote controlled outlet. Yes, you read that right... a remote controlled outlet - no crawling under the tree, no clap on - clap off, no blindly stomping through the tree skirt to find the toe tapper switch, just a simple push of a button and the blinding fury that is my Christmas Spectacle illuminates the living room!

The idea was to make the special ornaments the "star attraction" and just have simple glass (or plastic) Christmas balls as the "backup dancers." Well, a couple of trips to Hobby Lobby with all their Christmas decorations on sale for half price gets you a whole lot of "backup dancers."

At one point during the decorating, I said to myself, "That looks really nice - just enough." Of course, I had yet to add a single metallic berry, shiny pick, sparkle wand, glitter crinkle, or glass grape, and it's not like I can add just a couple of those things. I proudly stand by the fact that the statement, "He just didn't go over the top enough," has never been said in reference to me.

I started collecting Mark Roberts Santas a few years ago, and I usually use one of them as the tree topper; however, in the spirit of nostalgia, I used a not so expensive, not so collectable Santa as the topper, and he totally works to bring the theme together.

Actually, I bought this Santa four Christmases ago at Wal-Mart. He was the very first topper on that same big Christmas tree (which I bought on sale) in my first house during my first year in private practice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Photo Op

So.... on Rachel's last visit, we conned our friends Lori and Donnie into taking Un-Official Engagement Photos of us. Being the wonderful friends that they are, they happily agreed. We scoured all of Arkadelphia to find the perfect locations. No, the trash container wasn't the perfect location - just an homage to my family (owning/ having owned trash companies).

We started off at Feaster Trail. It was just a little too early in the season to get much in the way of Autumn color, but the pictures looked great. The setting is so good that it almost looks like an Olan Mills background was rolled down behind us.

We eventually made our way downtown to get some "urban" shots (the alley behind the Beehive is as urban as it gets here). We actually got a great picture (not shown) that we'll probably use as a Save The Date Card (which Lori is designing for us).

The old church/dry cleaners at Caddo and 7th made a great location. Donnie has this great little Polaroid camera that does these neat panoramic shots.

Click on the pictures to see them enlarged.

This photo, probably one of my favorites, was taken in the wooded area between our clinic and the hospital.

Thanks for enduring my obvious narcissism, but they're really good pictures! Donnie and Lori do a great job; of course, with subjects like Rachel and me, how could you go wrong?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Autumn Engagement Party

So.... my family hosted the first official celebration of our upcoming nuptials. Rachel came to visit this past weekend, and we thought we might invite some people over. I mentioned this to my mom who turned "might invite some people over" into engagement extravaganza, and I wouldn't have had it any other way! The party certainly gave me impetus to get the house finished, and aside from some neglected landscaping and a couple of janky ceiling fans, the house was complete prior to the party.

I ordered flowers from Mary and Martha's Florists, and the owner David did a wonderful job.

Entry Hall Table (please notice the new pineapple lamp)

The centerpiece for the coffee table was gorgeous (and massive).

Instead of one centerpiece for the dining room, I ordered three small arrangements that we were able to scatter amongst the buffet.

Earlier that day, Mom, Rachel, and I set up the buffet table, making sure there was a platter, bowl or tray for everything.

The invitations stated "6pm Open House." Well, all of central Arkansas poured into my house promptly at 6:02. It was so exciting to see everybody show up to wish us well. Rachel and I stood in the entry hall and greeted our guests as they arrived. My wonderful family did a phenomenal job of "catering" and hosting. Thanks go to Gabe, Rebecca, Hannah and Tyler for dips, snacks, and fruit. Thanks to Ray (Dad) for the fire pit and roasted pork. Thanks to Matt for all of his help and for the photos of the party. Kaitlin and Tricia (Mom) prepared a majority of the dishes and made sure the table was full of food throughout the party.

The friends were many, the food was great, and the energy was palpable.

Friends visit with one another in the living room.

Guests enjoy the opium den... er, I mean the cozy sun porch.

Neal and the college men station themselves in the dining room (right by the buffet table).

Rachel and Lori smile for a photo op, while Donnie enjoys the witty banter of adult sophistication.

The Kears graciously endure one of my boring anecdotes.

Thanks to all of our friends who traveled near (around the corner) and far (Gurdon, Little Rock, Louisiana, the Deer Woods) to help us celebrate our engagement. We hate that some of you couldn't make it that evening (that's okay, it meant more food for us). Rachel and I are overwhelmingly blessed to have you in our lives and enthusiastically appreciate your friendship.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Fun

So.... we had a little fun on Halloween this year. No maniacal pumpkin killers like last year, but I still gave out full size candy bars. We had about 170 trick-or-treaters - that's approaching my Tennessee Halloweens.

Rachel spent the weekend in Arkadelphia with me. We won't be able to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas together this year, but we weren't missing a Halloween together for anything. We dressed as Fred and Wilma. One kid said, "you're either a caveman or Fred the Flintstone." My sister's boyfriend thought my wig made me look like Clay Aiken, and I agree that the wig looks flat-ironed (but nowhere near Aiken standards).

Travis also dressed up. He was Dino, but only for about 3 minutes, despite the frantic effort that Rachel and I gave to get it ready that afternoon.

Not too shabby of a dog costume for 1.5 hours (with no prior planning or pattern).

Part of the fun with dressing up is having trick-or-treaters recognize you (or wonder who you are because they can't quite place you). I gave an enthusiastic "Hey!" to one Dad, and he had quite a puzzled look on his face until he realized I was his daughter's pediatrician. I was asking one "tween" what her costume was, and her intrigued but repulsed reply was, "You're my doctor!" Our favorite quote of the evening was from an 11 year old boy (with a group of his friends) who stated quite loudly, "Hey, you're the doctor that figured out I had constipation!"

Since Rachel was in town, we celebrated by having an informal party (costumes were of course required). Donnie made his pumpkin head costume from scratch; it was an amazing piece of wearable sculpture. Lori made a wave pattern skirt and came as Leanne Marshall, winner of Project Runway Season 5.

Rachel S. came as Sarah Palin.

My sister Kaitlin and her boyfriend Matt wore camouflage and came as "Upper and Lower GI."

My mom teased out her hair, wore big jewelry, and carried around boxes of butter. You guessed it... Paula Deen.

Rachel even tried on Donnie's pumpkin head.

Meet the Flintstones

So.... Rachel and I chose the Flintstones as our theme for Halloween.

More later... I promise.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Surprise Visit

So.... Rachel made a surprise visit last weekend. We had both had crummy weeks, but her visit made it all better.

-My two favorites-

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dining Companion

So.... sometimes at Sonic I let Travis order for both of us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

None of the Above

So.... Arrrgghhhh! The Presidential debate was such a disappointment. Neither of them answered the questions. All they did was regurgitate their campaign talking points. I had heard it all before. I actually like both McCain and Obama less after the debate than before. Isn't a debate supposed to help you decide for whom you want to vote or inspire you to rally around your chosen candidate?

I think part of the problem was their apparel. Obama's tie was totally lavender, and I don't know what McCain was thinking with that pink striped piece of work, or that ill-fitting suit jacket. Don't their campaigns pay people to consider how a color is going to read on television?

I was annoyed with the format (well the inability to stick to the format). Some pundits spoke ill of Tom Brokaw and his aggravation with the candidates not adhering to the rules of the debate. I have no problem with Tom on this point - I like order, and even Presidential candidates should play by the rules (Tom was just bringing some very needed oversight and regulation to the debate). I was more offended by Brokaw when at the very end, being the consummate professional that he is, he very obviously darted his head to-and-fro to read the teleprompter (and told the candidates to move)! Tom, can't you wing it by now? Make up something! I was also annoyed with the way that the candidates made sure to tell the undecided Nashville area voters (yeah, right) how great their boring and unimaginative questions were. And come on, Undecided Middle Tennessee Voter, practice your question before you read it live on national television! And don't wear magenta dress shirts! Where on God's Green Earth does any self-respecting man buy a magenta dress shirt (to wear to a Presidential debate)? That guy is probably the one who picked out the candidate's neckties.

I did enjoy the moment when the Senator from Illinois said his opponent thought he was "green behind the ears." What a mixed metaphor! Green? Green-horn? Wet behind the ears? Green around the gills? What did you mean to say, oh, Great Orator?

McCain sure didn't win any points with me with this HOME Plan which gives deserving Americans the "opportunity to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects their home's market value." How much is that going to cost? Way more than this ill-conceived debacle of a Bail-Out Bill! Is there no personal responsibility anymore? Where's my gov'ment check?

I am completely unimpressed and underwhelmed with both candidates. By the way, I know you can be over- or under-, but can you ever just be whelmed? Sorry. So... I am not pleased with either option. Can I mark "none of the above"? Oh where, oh where has my Huckabee gone? I'd probably be happier with the other viable Arkansan option... gasp... dare I say.... Hilary? Scandal! I know, but I really think she'd do a better job than either of the two that will be President. Those of you who know me (and my politics) well, know just how telling a statement that last one is.

My favorite part of the debate was when I fantasized about one of the candidates running over and hitting his opponent in the back of the head with his microphone. So, who will I vote for on November 4th? Who I always vote for: the lesser of two evils.

Actually, in living out my Pursuing Pineapple World View, I'll probably vote for the candidate whose spouse will be most likely to do the least amount of damage to the White House.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dancing Dog Art Shop

So.... this past spring I went a little crazy with eBay. I won a few auctions for some art and art books that I wanted; then I started buying more because I decided I could start selling them myself on eBay. I've obviously been involved in too many projects because only today did I finally post some items for sale. I honestly was a little overwhelmed with the process for listing something to sell (I think I was just too worried that I might mess up). I'm sure that for some of you eBay is old hat, but I'm still new to selling, and I was very excited to see that three of my auctions already had people "watching" them!

The original plan for Dancing Dog Art Shop was to purchase original lithographs, have them custom framed, and sell them in a retail store (probably one of the many stores - clothing, art, bakery, bed & breakfast, books - that I've planned on opening); eBay seemed a lot easier. So, I amassed a small collection of mid century art prints and lithographs, established an eBay "seller" identity (dancingdogartshop), had stationery printed, opened a free checking account at my bank, authenticated my PayPal, and waited until I was bored enough or desperate enough for extra cash (Do I hear wedding bells?) to start selling. Well, today was the day!

I spent almost three hours just going through a couple of the books and folios that I have, to pick out just a dozen pieces to sell. I would have had more items, but first I went through and culled out the pieces that I wanted. This 1948 Matisse print was saved from the auction block as I was typing up the listing - something about the blue striped wall and the red on the shutters wouldn't let me part with it. Now that's atypical - not an exposed chicken boob in sight!

I spent another three hours typing the listings into eBay. Don't worry; by the end of the day, I had gotten the hang of it.

Oh, and Travis, the Dancing Dog, he kept busy too, supervising from his position on the sofa, the bed, or the floor.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pursuing Pineapple... Electable?

So.... as I'm sure many of you did this evening, I watched the Vice Presidential Debate (Sarah Palin vs. Joe Biden). I am fairly sure that I would not make a very electable politician because when confronted with a question or comment which I felt strongly about, I would be more likely to say what I truly believe as opposed to saying what sounds good to "Main Street America."

When asked who was to blame for the problems with the economy/mortgage debacle, Palin enthusiastically attacked the predatory lenders (who are to blame), but I would have also added (getting on my high horse, likely only to face the same fate as Eight Belles) that those borrowers who knowingly and willingly did their best to take advantage of the situation to buy a house that was significantly out of their means of ownership are also to blame. I hate when anyone goes through tragedy, and I wouldn't wish the situation of losing a home on anyone, but those people who intentionally borrowed more money than they could afford or borrowed more on a house than it was worth must face the consequences of their actions.

Biden at one point in the debate stated that he and his ticket mate supported legislation that allowed bankruptcy judges to not only rewrite the terms of someone's mortgage (the interest rate) but also to rewrite the amount of principal owed. At that point in the debate, I would have inappropriately (or appropriately) shouted, "Oh, hell no!" and furrowed my brow disapprovingly. Why does the person who made a bad financial decision get a free pass? I'm not saying I'm better than anyone else, smarter than anyone else, or have a better sense of style than any one else. I'm no financial sophisticate, but I bought a house I can afford, drive a dented, payed-for car, rarely pay full price for clothes (or shoes), and buy the cheapest dog treats available. Why should I not be rewarded? Judges should not be able to "rewrite" the principal owed on a home! If you borrowed the money, you need to repay it! I can't go back to Kohl's tomorrow and tell them that I'm going to change the amount that I payed for the jeans that I bought earlier today (which were on sale - yeah, I know, everything's on sale at Kohl's every other week).

Citizens, we have a responsibility to make responsible decisions! We must be disciplined in our budgeting, saving, and spending! We should not buy things we cannot afford! Before agreeing to a contract, we should read the fine print (the title company people are surprised that I've read the documents I've signed at my house closings - that's ridiculous)! We should not borrow money (or print money, you listening to me Washington) without considering the cost!

Thanks for enduring my rantings. Usually my diatribes deal with uncontrollable giggling, forsaken yard work, or mean old women in Wal-Mart, so I felt I was allowed this one focusing on something of substance. Please understand I am compassionate; please know that I genuinely feel for those honest people who have been taken advantage of and those hard-working people who have fallen on hard times.

So, though I feel I would probably do a good job if elected (not that I have any intentions or aspirations), I doubt I would be elected because I'm likely to (too quickly) speak my mind and say things people don't want to hear. No matter, I'm sure at the nano-second that I had my above mentioned outburst, Dr. James Dobson would call for a boycott against me, and my credibility with the "religious right" would be gone, but "Joe Six-Pack" might like me a little more, and I'm sure my siblings would have enjoyed hearing me cus on national television.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Root Canal

So.... immediately after my root canal back in August, I started writing this "Dear John Letter," but only now, after a time of healing, am I able to finish it.

My Dearest Endodontist,

I hate to write this letter.

Ever since my friendly neighborhood dentist introduced me to you, I've been enamored with the idea of you forcing yourself upon my pulp and enamel. I've longed to have dozens of your tiny files jammed and twisted into my nerves' canals. My heart was a flutter with the thought of me sitting nervously, captive and victim to your every dental whim.

But, no! You had to destroy my idyllic oral utopia. You failed to even introduce yourself before shoving your gorilla size hands into my mouth. The horrible rubber mouth guard you muffled over my face! Endodontist, you didn't even ask if I was latex allergic! You do realize that I saw you look away while filing my teeth, right? You probably weren't even thinking of me or my needs (even if that need was to spit).

Now to be fair, you give a shot like no other. Pain? No, there was no pain, but that doesn't mean I wasn't hurt. Yes, I was hurt! Hurt that you didn't know what procedure I needed, hurt that you didn't even know my name until you were almost finished, hurt to give you several hundreds of dollars (at the time that services were rendered) and you didn't even shake my hand.

Oh, Endodontist, why did it have to end like this? Gone are the halcyon days of fluoride gel and easy listening music... why couldn't this relationship work out? Why couldn't you have showed the most basic of courtesies? In officially severing this relationship, the only thing left to say is: You're No Pediatrician!

Pursuing Pineapple

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Popped the Question - She Said YES!

So.... if you haven't guessed by now, I'm engaged! I proposed to Rachel on Friday, August 29, and, fortunately, she said yes! I'll try to distill the evening into as few a words and pictures as possible.

I arrived into town for the long weekend on Thursday afternoon. I had Rachel's favorite bouquet, white lilies and red roses, delivered a few hours before I got to Murfreesboro.

To distract her from thinking about other pieces of jewelry, I gave her this necklace when I arrived (sterling silver fleur-de-lis with blue and purple peacock pearls).

We've known each other about 4 years now, and we have been pursuing a relationship since Spring. We spent lots of time together when I lived in Tennessee, hanging out with friends, but since we've actually been "dating," we've only gone out by ourselves just a few times (a long distance relationship will do that).We joke about never going on dates, so I told her we'd get dressed up and go out to a nice restaurant. I brought her a bouquet of gerbera daisies (her favorite) for our "date." We had been visiting some friends that afternoon, and after I dropped Rachel off at her house to get ready for our night out, I ran by the florist to pick up the daisies. On the way to the florist, a flash rainstorm started (apparently directly over my car) - I can literally say that I went through Hail and High Water to propose to Rachel!

I knew where I wanted to propose - our church home in Murfreesboro, Third Baptist Church. That is where God brought us together and where we developed our friendship. The church recently renovated some areas, including building a little prayer garden complete with benches and a waterfall - that would be the perfect spot. How do I get her there without arousing her suspicion? A few weeks before my visit I had suggested that we needed to get more pictures of the two of us together. "Rachel, where's a good place to get pictures made"? After she made a few suggestions, I commented that I'd seen some of her pictures on Facebook that were taken at the prayer garden. When I picked her up that evening, I suggested that since we were dressed up we go take a few pictures. We got to the church - I was a little worried that there would be random college kids everywhere since they were doing a movie night in the back parking lot. No students to be found, whew! I set up the tripod and camera (weeks of foreshadowing kept her from being suspicious).

Below is the first picture we took. The ring was in my left pocket, so I didn't want to get too close. How embarrassing! Poor Rachel is trying to lean in a little bit. I reviewed the first pic, and resolved to do better.

In the second picture, I'm at least in the same time zone, but nerves had completely taken over and I looked very scared (and pale as one of our friend's pointed out). I have a "deer in the headlights" look.

I tried to do better on other pictures. I started screaming "limburger cheese" during the camera countdown for this shot.

Now, we come to the moment of truth! After that last shot, I went back up to the camera and switched it over to video. I pushed the button and got back in place...

My apologies for my incessant nervous giggling. I was going to edit this, but I couldn't get the audio to work when I tried, so I've posted it in it's entirety - all 2 minutes and 23 seconds of it, including all 27 kisses (that's a kiss every 5.3 seconds). Sorry about the make out session in the prayer garden!

Obviously, she said yes, and we were both very excited!

After all the huggin' and squeezin' and kissin' we got back in my car. I had typed out a letter (more like a short story) about our relationship and about finding the right ring. It was eleven pages, but it was 18 point font, so I don't feel too bad. During reading that letter, she cried... I cried... It was a sweet moment.

I called my parents to let them know that she said yes. My mom had called me earlier that day to tell me that she was praying for us; she started praying that afternoon when she heard Benny and the Jets on the radio -Rachel's ringtone on my phone. My family was very excited. We then went over to see Rachel's parents, to tell them. I had gone to ask her Dad that morning for Rachel's hand in marriage. He told me, "Well, I don't know you. I guess it's up to her." Her mom asked if I'd already insured the ring.

We then made our rounds, announcing our good news and showing off the bling! Lots of fun! We even met Patrick and Monica in the Target parking lot to talk to them. We never made it to our fancy restaurant, so we stopped by Sonic. We had Fritos Chili Cheese Wraps and Route 44 Dr. Peppers.

Finally, we had a little time to reflect on our evening. Our friends Misty Leigh and Marty encouraged us to "enjoy the moment."

I'm really excited!

This is a picture from the next night - we still can't stop smiling!