Friday’s Meanderings: easily sidetracked

During the first year of dental school, midterm exams for all our classes all fell during the same week. It was absolute torture, mostly: you finish taking one exam only to go to the next one; and then repeat for the rest of the week. After a whole year of this madness, you kind of end up used to it. Sure, it’s horrible, but at least they’re all done in one big shot.

When our second year rolled around, our test schedule was eventually switched up. What’s different is that midterm exams are spread out over two, sometimes three weeks. In a way, it’s been nice not having to lose sleep and cram, cram, cram for a slew of tests in a row. On the other hand, especially now since our classes aren’t as time-consumingly science heavy like before, the primary downfall is that I end up relaxing. Relaxing too much. I’m caught off guard during the period of midterms easily: I always rationalize myself into thinking that they’re be time later to study.

The past three weeks or so have been our midterm exam weeks. Because there’s been so much time between tests, I’ve been finding myself watching a lot of movies, reading books, and even getting into some crafting.

What kind of crafting?

Well, cross stitching, apparently.

robots in love, pt.4

knit fast, pt.1

Yes, I cranked the majority of these puppies out rather fast. I’m thinking my subconscious was telling me to do something, anything other than studying. In short, I’m trying to say that was easily side tracked.

But at least I ended up with some products to show for my efforts!

The robot panel is for some friends that obviously got married. As for the knitting one, I remember seeing the phrase cross stitched somewhere, loved it, and just had to make my own version of it.

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Lastly, another obligatory photo of our dog, this time of her wishing with all her heart/eyes to have me give her the go so she can eat the piece of chicken balancing on her nose:

it's in her eyes...

That’s what I would call a display of extreme longing.

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Study Manic

I’m getting tired of studying for this doggone test. I’ll be done in less than a week–!

My studying this week hasn’t been that great. Let me rephrase: what I had originally planned to study this week hasn’t exactly happened. On the flip side, I’ve at least been going over practice questions that explains the correct and incorrect answers. I’m going to chalk that up toward still learning something.

Minus the weekends and an extreme need to sleep in really, really late yesterday morning, I’ve been doing cardio workouts every day since I started studying last Monday. I haven’t exercised regularly at all for months, probably more than a year even. A year ago, I realized that my study habits weren’t cutting it for dental school. You probably won’t believe me, but I truly was worried about not passing a couple classes at the at time. That’s when I hooked up with some classmates and started doing some serious group studying. One of them peeled away and went a different direction, but nonetheless, I’ve essentially been studying my tail off for an entire year. I’ve never studied so much before in my life! Deep down, I’m a very lazy person (shhh) but knowing there’s someone else that’s going to hold me accountable to her own studying…ah, I can’t say no to that. Sure, I moan and groan to her quite often (“Do we really have to study? But it was so easy to understand when we heard it in class!”), drag my feet around, but somehow we get it done. Thankfully, all this hard work has paid off: my class rank keeps getting better every quarter and I’ve made the dean’s list for an entire year.

But there has been a drawback: my health. Well, general health. I can still walk up a hill, climb stairs, ride my bike, but I’m huffing and puffing and have a hard time talking when I do. When I do any sort of yard work (since I hardly do any), I’m always sore the next couple of days. I’ve decided that I’m not very good at balancing my activities during the school year; academics has always taken precedence in my mind. Now that I have three weeks off, albeit studying should be first and foremost for two of them, I’m taking advantage of all this free time to kick my butt back into gear.

Long story short, working out does suck most of the time, but it sure is nice to walk up hills and not get winded again.

I’d say it also helps to have fresh food come from our garden as well. Yesterday, Andrew boiled some whole wheat pasta to finish up leftover sauce he had made last week. I took what was left and made a quick tomato and basil dish with it:

fresh tomatoes & pasta, pt.2

fresh tomatoes & pasta, pt.4

fresh tomatoes & pasta, pt.5

These little yellow cherry tomatoes were very sweet, something that’s missing in a lot of store-bought tomatoes which one will find on the acidic side. Thanks to Dana for showing me a long time ago what tomatoes (especially heirloom tomatoes), basil, pasta, olive oil, salt and pepper can do. (Wonders, if you must know.)

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Now, it’s back to studying, but only after I show some obligatory pictures of our dog:

funny face girl, pt.2

long noser

How can you not love that ridiculously long nose?

Good Company

Guess who’s keeping me company today?

good company

Edgar and Ellie!

All Ellie ever does is sleep. As for Edgar, most of what he does is come over to me with a ball in his mouth. He then drops it on the floor and waits for me to throw it for him.

Silly dogs.

Friday: meandering thoughts for catching up

Oh Friday, how I love thee.

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We had our last official final exam today. It was a mock board exam that the school requires you to take. The scary part is that if you don’t pass it, the school doesn’t let you take the national boards that you had paid $260 in order to take. I’m pretty sure that my score was good enough to be considered passing, but I sure wouldn’t call it stellar.

I take my national board exam in just over two weeks, June 28. I’m giving myself this full weekend off…and then it’s time to hit the books hard come Monday.

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I’ve been eyeballing this vegan coffee cake by Vegan YumYum for a while and finally decided to make it. After I mixed up the batter, I licked the spoon–tasty! It there’s one thing I enjoy about vegan cooking and baking is that there is a very very low chance of illness after taste-testing. (No eggs aka salmonella scare!) The only real problem I ran into was that my batter wasn’t as dough-like how the instructions said it would be; I then added a little bit of flour at a time until it became a little more thick.

apple pie coffee cake, pt.2

apple pie coffee cake, pt.4

apple pie coffee cake, pt.6

After serving it for dessert at dinner tonight with a friend, it was obvious that I over-baked it a bit more than I should have for our oven. Next time I’ll stick to the 80 minutes baking time after all. Also, one thing I would do different is to make less batter: the base of the coffee cake was pretty thick. Otherwise, not too shabby for a vegan delectable!

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Our gardens are still alive and doing well after all, thank goodness.

basil plantsliving flowers

fresh tomato...

Below, you’ll see Andrew digging up some Ash tree saplings that have escaped our notice and grown into sizable little trees. Now, I enjoy trees and love them, but not when they grow rightnext to houses, walls, etc–they’re just going to be a problem in the future. I’ve tried pulling them out before by hand, but they were too big for me to do anything other than strip all their leaves off.

ash tree saplings...

ash tree saplings...smooch

Hence, that’s what my husband is good for: getting rid of spiders, eating left over food, and uprooting unneeded saplings!

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I think our backyard is due for an update. A week and a half ago, I wouldn’t have thought that the ugly screen room that was poorly tacked onto the back of our house would be gone, that concrete would be poured for additional patio space, and that a new gate would be up and running for the backyard! Everything just moved so fast. I’ve been taking pictures of everything but haven’t had a chance to share any until now.

On Wednesday night, the rest of the room was pulled down. Scrap aluminum from the roof that all sorts of other junk that was part of the screen room was piled on the lawn. Also, the rebar for strengthening the concrete that will be poured over it was ready to go.

backyard mess, pt.6

backyard mess, pt.5

Early Friday morning, the concrete truck came with an awesome pump for bringing it all the way to the backyard. By noon, the concrete was done with being worked on.

new concrete, pt.2

new concrete, pt.3

new concrete, pt.4

The following Monday, Andrew decided to install the new gate that he and Arthur had made. If you were looking at it with a detailed eye, you’ll pick out quite a few things that aren’t quite perfect. Other than that, it’s excellent for a first-time try at building a rolling gate!

new gate, pt.2

new gate, pt.4new gate, pt.7

new gate, pt.9

new gate, pt.10

I wish I knew how Andrew wanted it to be put together, but I didn’t nor did I want the responsibility for drilling the correct holes, etc. In the end, I was stuck with holding the gate in place while he took care of the important steps. Each gate is really heavy. Sure, they were propped up on blocks mostly, but let’s just say that I got a slight workout from pushing myself against them to make sure they didn’t slip and fall forward or backward. Oh yeah, and got mildly sore for doing that. (Good grief, I need to start working out again…pathetic!)

Now it’s Friday again. The backyard is cleaned up and all the scraps are sitting out on the driveway waiting to be taken away for recycling.

backyard clean up

scraps

Phew!

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On that note, I’ll leave you with a picture of our dog running in our backyard with such a happy expression on her face:

evil laser-eyed dog

Okay, fine, a crazed look on her face.

Friday: meandering thoughts

Okay, technically it’s Saturday already (it’s past midnight) but it’s still my Friday evening.

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Earlier this week, I came home from school and headed toward to backyard to let the dog out. As I went into the ghetto screen room that was added to our house years ago before we bought it, I was a bit startled when I saw this:

screen room knockout, pt.1

Uh, what?

screen room knockout, pt.2

Apparently Andrew and our neighbor started a bit of demolition on that ghetto back room. Frankly, it didn’t really bother me but it would have been nice to know about it ahead of time so I wouldn’t have been so…startled.

Ladies, you know.

The long term plan is to take out the back room, replace one of the walls with a fence, and turn that area into a covered patio.

When we have more money, that is.

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Speaking of money, I finally had a chance to listen to some audio CD’s of Dave Ramsey last weekend while we were driving. (Thanks, Mom & Dad O!)

Who’s Dave Ramsey? you might ask. Long story short, if you have money and want to learn more about it or have debt and don’t want any more of it, he’s worth listening to.

No joke.

When I think about it, I somehow indirectly inherited some good money concepts from my family: always pay in cash (you can’t overspend your money if you don’t literally have any in your wallet), pay off your credit card every month, and also the related of idea of staying out of debt whenever possible.

Unfortunately, the latter is pretty hard to do when you’ll end up owing $300,000+ for graduate school. Then again, that’s what my eventual degree will be for: to pay off that debt.

Going back to my family, there are a number of things that I didn’t really learn about: insurance, taxes (I’m absolutely clueless how to do my own), investing money, and proper budgeting. All I can say is thank goodness for Dave Ramsey because now I’m on my way to learning all this. Thankfully he’s very easy to understand, too.

Again, he’s worth knowing about and learning from. I promise.

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On a wildly different subject now, I spent a good amount of my time in lab yesterday.

Ah yes, pediatric dentistry, how I loathe thy lab sessions. In reality, even though things actually went well enough in lab the past couple of sessions, there’s something about it that I just don’t like and I can’t figure out what it is exactly.

There’s hope, though: most people I talk to say that working with actual kids and teens is a lot more enjoyable than the lab. (Phew!)

In lab this week, I finished the project of making a mandibular lingual arch space maintainer. What the heck is this and why is it so important? When a kid loses her most posterior baby teeth too soon, the adult teeth that come in behind it will eventually drift into the space of the missing teeth in front of them. This will set the child up for crowded teeth in the future. If this goes on and you want to fix it, then she’ll have to go to the orthodontist and lots of $$$ will be spent to get her teeth straightened out.

Point being, if you have a child and they loose any of their teeth too early (ask his/her dentist about it), then you will be setting your child up for orthodontic issues later on.

This project included learning how to bend wire. You might be thinking this is an easy concept. Generally speaking, I’d agree with you: How do you bend wire? Well, don’t you just bend it? Since we haven’t taken an orthodontics lab yet and don’t know how or have had any sort of experience with it, bending wire is no easy task. It’s a true test of one’s spatial abilities, that’s for sure. Thankfully my spatial skills were working (I didn’t need to go to an instructor to ask for help) but were definitely on the slow side.

After bending some ortho wire into a very specific shape that touches very specific parts of the mouth, I held it in place with some plaster, and then was ready to attach that wire to ortho bands via soldering:

mandibular lingual arch SM, pt.1

mandibular lingual arch SM, pt.2

I’ve seen soldering done before, but never with an actual flame. I was a little worried that I’d screw things up and have to start over. After wandering around the lab to see how others were doing it, one of my classmates offered to show the process to me. He came over and soldered one side of my space maintainer

mandibular lingual arch SM, pt.3

and then I did the other side:

mandibular lingual arch SM, pt.4

Thankfully it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Though I did find myself occasionally picking up the entire cast after soldering and almost burning hand in the process. Multiple times.

After breaking the wire and now-attached ortho bands off the cast, I ground off the excess solder and had a good look at the not-quite-done project:

mandibular lingual arch SM, pt.5

When I started grinding away, I realized a lot of silver (!) solder was getting kicked into the air and promptly grabbed a mask to wear. When I was done, my lab coat and the exposed bits of my scrubs were covered in a fine mist of metal dust. After getting the soldered joints to the correct size, I polished everything and placed it on my pediatric typodont:

mandibular lingual arch SM, pt.6

mandibular lingual arch SM, pt.7

Thankfully I got it all signed off and was done for the day.

As much as some part of me deep inside doesn’t like pediatrics lab, I always find it satisfying to make something with my hands. It’s even better when it’s approved (even if only barely) by an instructor.

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I’ve been finding fleas on our dog for the past month now, maybe about one or two a week. Andrew was kind enough to finally give her a bath (shower, really) tonight. Ellie dog is now nice and soft and smelling clean again. Not that she has ever smelled bad–greyhounds are amazingly clean dogs–but with the fleas I’ve been finding, it was high time for a bath. As soon as she stands up to meander over to her crate in our bedroom, I’ll “flea bomb” her with a medication real fast.

Ah, it’s like having an actual child. But not quite.

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Okay okay okay. Time to go to bed. Happy weekend!

She’s not a watchdog

When we have our kitchen door open and the screen door closed, our dog likes to occasionally walk up to it and peer outside.

what a watchdog.

Though this isn’t because she’s guarding the door. Oh no. Rather, it’s one of her attempts to see what kind of small fluffy wildlife or domestic creature she can spot and get excited about. Otherwise, all she’s good at is possibly licking a stranger to death, nothing more serious than that.

Oh yeah,

in the shade

in the shade

and she’s good at lounging, too. Actually excels wonderfully at that, really.

She’s a calm kind of girl

So, our dog has a funny looking long nose

ground shot

and an especially calm demeanor

long noser

that can make her seem quite boring. Actually, we do call her boring from time to time, straight to her face even. But it’s always said with affection.

Because of this, it makes us love her all the more when she turns into a puppy and runs around in our backyard, tearing up the turf in short, speedy bursts of energy:

happy running, pt.1happy running, pt.2

happy running, pt.5

happy running, pt.4happy running, pt.3

Really, what’s not to love?

a smiling pair

How life rolls on

The past couple of days have been interesting. Well, really, not too interesting. It’s more like a sequence of normal events that happen in life. It’s just that since my life is generally predictable (school, study, eat, sleep, repeat), it made yesterday’s little highs and lows feel greater than they probably actually were.

A classmate and I studied and studied and studied so hard this weekend for a pharmacology midterm that we had yesterday, Monday. What a harrowing subject! So many drugs, so many different ways that they work, how they interact with one another… If anything, this class has garnered more respect toward pharmacists in my eyes.

We had our midterm exam yesterday morning. The first 16 questions or so took up so much brain power that I wasn’t sure if I could make it through all 80 questions and keep my sanity if the rest were any similar. Thankfully they weren’t. After flying through the exam in less than a hour, I ran out the door to head home.

I was excited to get done with the test because, well, it would be done and that my classmate and I were going catch the last day of the snowboarding season down here in southern Cali. I jumped on my bike and sped the less than five minutes ride home. Part way into the ride, there’s this tree that I pass that has a bee hive in it. Well, considering large number of bees that are always flying around the tree, I’m assuming so. Since I’ve only been stung once before and, with the slightly-greater-than-the-average-person allergic reactions that I have, am always worried about a possible anaphylactic reaction from a second sting that can spell death in minutes, I’m very careful when I pass that tree. Thus said, I hit the brakes and rode by the tree and through the bees slow enough for them to avoid me.

Almost a short block away from home and with snowboarding on the mind, I was suddenly aware of an immediate and intense pinpoint of pain on my neck, strong enough to bring tears to my eyes and make me slam on the breaks. I came to a complete halt. In my shock, I quickly realized that I had just been stung by a bee. With adrenaline and fear pumping through my body and the knowledge that a bug is attached to me at the neck, I ripped the fuzzy little creature off in absolute disgust. I knew the stinger was still in my neck; it hurt so bad. Since there was no one around to reach me fast enough in case I actually did have a serious allergic reaction, I did the only thing I could think of at the time and rode the rest of the way home.

Turning on to our street, I almost careened into a moving van coming in my direction. When I was rolling up our driveway, I was hoping and praying that nothing would happen to me. I shakily dropped my bike, eventually opened the door, dropped my bag, hurried to the bathroom and fumbled through the medicine cabinet for tweezers and a small mirror. I knew the lighting wasn’t the best in there, so I quickly headed for the backyard and direct sunlight. To my horror, I saw half a bee butt sticking out of my neck. (Seriously, it was gross. Gross, gross, gross.) Once again instantly disgusted, I slowly pulled out what I could of the stinger and hurriedly wiped it off on the grass.

bee sting, day 1bee sting, day 2
L & R: The evening after pulling out the stinger and what it looked like the next day.

Since at least a full minute had passed by this time, I figured I was going to be okay after all, thank the Lord. With still shaky hands, I called my husband for any advice for taking care of a bee sting. You’re probably wondering what kind of American childhood I had where I could avoid ever being stung and not knowing what to do. I was a careful child, so what? After liberally applying a baking soda paste to my neck and nursing it for the next hour, I slowly got my stuff together for snowboarding. Oh heck yeah, I wasn’t going to let a dumb little bee sting that, well, scared me silly hold me back from having some fun!

When Jen arrived, I jumped in her car and off we went to find some slushy snow. We reached the highway that would head up the mountain only to find that it was closed. What were we going to do? After another call to my husband, we found an alternate and longer route for getting up the mountain. Nothing was going to stop us from getting to the snow.

Southern California has had a pretty darn good and long snow season this year, something that doesn’t happen regularly down here. Earlier this season, Jen and I became even more addicted to snowboarding and jumped on a deal for the local slopes that would let us board what was left of this season and all the next. So far, we haven’t had a good chance to go this season at all. After finding out that today was the last day of the season and that we knew we would have finished a difficult midterm, we wanted to at least fulfill the promises of our pass and make it up there that day.

last day of the season

last day of the season

After getting our season passes, we hopped on the lift. The bottom of the hill looked pretty sad with distinct brown patches on the side. Halfway up though, we realized there was a lot more snow than we thought we’d see.

jen boarding, pt.1jen boarding, pt.2

jen boarding, pt.4jen boarding, pt.6

The snow was soft and slushy yet a lot more fun that we thought it would be. Even though I took quite an impressive tumble on the second run (and thankfully no one saw it), I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have hurt even if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet. I did have to take it off after that, though–I somehow managed to get a large amount of snow in it and wanted to empty it out. After a great third run, we decided to call it quits: they were going to close the slopes in a half hour and we had at least reached our goal of using our passes for both seasons.

After I got home, there was nothing pressing to do. Well, except to take the doggie on a walk:

walking the dog, pt.1

walking the dog, pt.4

Oh, and I stopped and saw some pretty flowers along the way:

pink flower redux

yellow flower redux

At the end of the day, everything was back to normal again. Well, except for my neck which now itches like crazy. I guess it’s just been a while since I’ve had such an up and down again kind of day, except on the slightly smaller scale like a kiddie roller coaster. As interesting as yesterday was, it was nice to have a day to live life and just roll with the punches.

Though I’d appreciate nothing stronger than that for a little while, please.