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New Blog

I have finally set up the new blog, although I still hate the name. I will no longer be posting here on LJ, though it's served me well for over 6 years now. Follow me now at thelifeoflauram.blogspot.com.
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I Just Can't Hide It

I'm finally getting excited about the wedding, so I'm warning everyone that I'll be talking about it a lot now. Sorry if it annoys you. I don't know why it suddenly hit me, but it certainly did on Monday. I guess it is partly because I am now the next wedding in a long string this year. Also, the reply cards from the invitations are starting to come in, so there's fun updates from my mom every day. Oh, and of course Mom is coming to visit a week from today, during which time we'll be meeting with the photographer, florist and site manager for Malmaison to get final details worked out. It really is getting close, and I'm excited.

I spent a fairly large portion of Monday getting emails together to various people, as there is in fact quite a lot of info to relay to everyone coming in from out of town. It's also time to start working out all those little things that I keep thinking of as "last minute" details. Guess what? The wedding is a month from Friday, it's getting to be "last minute" now. They're not truly last minute things, but they are things you can't do more than a couple weeks out, such as getting a marriage license (which still sounds weird to me).

I think even Sam is starting to get excited as well. One of his groomsmen decided it would be fun to get all the guys together to go paintballing the day before the wedding, since they really have no desire to do the traditional "get drunk and stupid" bachelor party. He's now VERY excited for that. He's also looking forward to seeing old friends from home that he never gets to see, so that's good.

Mom, clearly, is as into things as I am. We're emailing each other 5 or 6 times a day now, and calling at least every other day. Nothing overly important, just having fun. It's great seeing who will be coming, and also rather interesting to see who won't. Many people I completely understand. The grandparents on both sides really can't make the trip, which is totally fine. The invitations for the party with the neighbors back home also went out, so there's daily updates on those as well. That will be a fun evening, and it's especially nice that Mom is handling all the organization there. It will be a great night for us to just enjoy without worrying about details.

Work is still going well. I actually did some basic science-y things this week, oddly enough. Part of my proposal for my Master's involved doing linkage analysis on a large family affected with a specific deformity, and I started putting together samples to ship out to UCLA for genetic analysis that needs to be done prior to the linkage studies. It was weird; I haven't spent that much time pipetting since the summer after my junior year in college. It was a nice change though, as I've kind of hit a writing block for the paper I'm working on. It did show me, however, that I will never do basic science research as a large portion of my career. Possibly a small adjunct, but I really do prefer the clinical stuff.

Crazy neighbor is still out of town, so her house is still empty and being shown. It's so wonderful, I just can't explain it. It's like the neighborhood is a little brighter and happier. Oh, and quieter of course. Who knows when she'll be back to ruin it though, but for now we're just enjoying it while we can.

This was a rather disjointed entry, which I guess reflects the lack of focus I currently have. I apologize. There will be lots of wedding updates to come, though, I do know that. You may want to steer clear for awhile if you can't take the gushing :)
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Silence is Golden

Well folks, it's finally happening. The For Sale sign went up in the awful neighbor's yard yesterday. And, while I've been mistaken in the past, I do believe the dog is gone. I'm more inclined to think this is true now that the house is officially up for sale, because I'm guessing the realtors wouldn't be too pleased about showing a house to strangers with a 150-lb dog in it, friendly or not. Finally, we have peace.

Still pondering new blog names....
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Labor Day

What a weekend! Saturday: Drove to Chicago, went to the FermiLab Accelerator (yes, that's what science geeks do when visiting new places), went to Tory & Shane's wedding. Sunday: got up early, drove to Cleveland, arrived at Erica's place to change for wedding #2, had the wrong time in mind for wedding #2, hauled ass to Canton, showed up to Steve & Michelle's wedding just as they were pronounced, but had a great time at the reception nonetheless. Monday: finally slept in, met Devon for lunch in Coventry, wandered around University Circle & remembered, had far too much fun messing with my sister's Wii (and got pictures of Sam doing yoga poses :-P), then Aladdin's for dinner. Tuesday: overslept a bit, stopped at Presti's for baked goodness for the road, drove to Wooster, got stuck in traffic on I-77, had a LONG-overdue reunion with Emilee over lunch where I also learned interesting info about an ex, drove home through some very nasty rain, got stuck in more traffic on I-71 though was very happy to not be one of the cars causing said traffic jam (seriously, on car had an entire side ripped off), and finally made it home around 10 pm.

So very much driving. Also lots of fun and seeing friends. I love seeing my friends happy! Now I'm back to work and mostly caught up. Amazing how far behind I felt after only missing one day. It's also about time to focus on my own wedding. Invitations went out last week and people are getting them now! Very exciting.

Oh, and since the LiveJournal banner today was an advertisement for the XBox 360 (obnoxious), I have officially decided that I am switching to blogspot with my Google account as soon as I can think of a good name for the new blog. Any suggestions?
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Fall Approaches!

The past few days have had the most gorgeous weather, even when overcast. There was a sudden drop in temperature, and it was even cool this past weekend. I loved it! It made me want to drag out the Halloween decorations, but I resisted since it was still August. While I enjoy my holidays, I'm not one to rush into things. I hate it when people skip over Thanksgiving. Christmas isn't until December, folks! Anyway, it has been so wonderful keeping the windows open. Much as I appreciate having central air for once, I do prefer not using it. Granted, that requires appropriate outdoor conditions, one more reason why I can't wait to move somewhere without miserable summers. Only one more to go though! Sadly, I know this is temporary...there will surely be more hot weather to come before fall comes in full force.

Things here have been steadily plugging along. No real changes worth mentioning. Work continues on, and my classes are now in progress. The seminars should be fine, mainly because they're small and I like the people. My Wednesday afternoon class, Designing Outcomes and Clinical Research promises to be dull, but survivable. It's just too long though. It's almost 2.5 hours long, and we're in a dungeon-like auditorium. After switching over to the clinics, I don't do well sitting through lectures that last more than an hour. Oh well, at least I don't have to take any other courses this semester.

Work is more of the same. I've started (slowly) writing a paper, which is mildly overwhelming, but a good experience. It really is amazing how long it can take to organize data, and my sample size is only 42! Plus I'm not even doing complicated statistical analysis of this stuff! Oh well, it's interesting nonetheless, and I've finally got things organized in a coherent and presentable manner. I've stayed home today to "write" although I'm having trouble getting going. I have the beginnings of the background and methods sections, but I need to clean them up and I'm not entirely sure what I want to see in them.

I'm also having trouble focusing on work because I'm getting really excited for the weekend. We're leaving Saturday morning for Chicago for Tory and Shane's wedding, followed immediately by Cleveland and Steve and Michelle's wedding! I'm really looking forward to getting out of St. Louis for a few days, especially for such happy events. I'm also looking forward to some good food in Cleveland (man I miss Aladdin's) AND I get to see Emilee for the first time since first year! So you can see that I'm not really engrossed in work right now, with so many things to look forward to. I'm just trying to get through the rest of the week at this point.

As far as my own wedding goes, we're starting to get into the home stretch. Only 6.5 weeks to go, and I'm still not really doing anything for it :) Mom's dropping invitations in the mail this week though, so I guess that marks the beginning of the end. She's also coming up for a few days at the end of the month, which I'm really looking forward to. I guess that will be the time when I really kick into gear for getting all the details squared away. Part of me is still not all that excited about it though. I feel like Sam and I have already started "our life together," as cliche as that is, and the wedding itself is kind of just a formality. I know it'll be fun when it happens, but so much of it appears to be a hassle right now. Ah well, I'll get in the groove soon, I know.
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Working From Home

It's been longer than I thought since I last updated, but I guess that's what happens when nothing really changes. I'm still enjoying work, for the most part, and last week I discovered the beauty of working from home. A lot of what I do requires me to be on campus, such as accessing medical records and any of my statistical analysis. All the reading, paper-writing, figure-making and presentations, however, can be done anywhere with an internet connection, which is wonderful. I like the people at work, and it's nice to have someone to interact with most days, but sometimes just the quiet at home is best. I'm currently enjoying a nice cup of coffee while admittedly not working. This is also a great thing though. I can parcel out my time with both work and productivity at home, without commute-time in between.

Last week when I stayed home, I made another (re-)discovery: I love to make bread. I made a lot of bread first year. In fact, after about the second month, I stopped buying it. All of my sandwiches were on homemade bread, and I got pretty good at cranking out a lot of different kinds. And no, I didn't own a bread machine. Kneading the dough is half the fun. Bread really isn't a ton of work, it just requires time; time to rise and time to bake. These are things that you just need to be around for, which, after first year, I wasn't anymore. So bread-making kind of vanished from my life. I switched more to cakes second year, which were actually more work, but required less time. Last week, however, while working on my committee presentation, I realized I could have a nice ball of dough rising while I did my slides. Plus, my plans for dinner that night would have been nicely complimented with a crusty slice of bread to sop up the juices. Thus, my re-initiation to bread. Last week's creation was a saltless Tuscan bread that was fabulous with the white bean oreganata at dinner. Yesterday, after hearing that a friend had also conquered a long-stumping bread recipe, I decided to tackle French baguettes. I'd tried them before in college and failed miserably. They require a very long rise time, and are definitely more suited for the weekend. Well, the house still smells of the wonderful, yeasty loaves, and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. Looks like I have a new weekend hobby again.

I also have done a bit of wedding stuff in the past week. I went out to the MAC store and worked out some of the make-up stuff. We dropped the make-up artist I was originally going to hire as her prices went way up and this will make scheduling the day of the wedding FAR easier. It did mean, however, that I needed to get some decent make-up, and figure out how to put some of it on. My cousin is much better at this than I am, but I still needed the raw materials. Mom also paid the first half of the food bill for the reception, and started addressing invitations over the weekend. We also decided that she's going to come visit one more time before the wedding after all. I'm excited. I had really wanted her to come up, but there's been a lot of traveling and such for them lately and I wasn't sure she'd want to come if she wasn't really needed. She's coming at the end of September, about 3 weeks before the wedding, and we're going to hash out all the final reception details, as well as meet with the photographer. Should be fun.

A few totally unrelated items that I feel the need to comment on:

Today is the first day of classes for the first and second years. I remember being pretty excited to start, but man am I glad I'm past that. Second year especially...not something I'd ever want to repeat.

The ridiculous neighbors are still here. No surprise there. And no sign of when they might be leaving either.

Less than 3 weeks to go before we head up to Chicago for Tory & Shane's wedding, then Cleveland for Steve & Michelle's. Crazy how fast the time goes.

My fall class starts next week. Boo. This means homework again. Although really, it's not like I'm killing myself with work right now. Fall seminars have already started, but those just require me to show up and stay (mostly) awake.

Alright, that's all for today. Hopefully there will be something worth writing about before the Chicago-Cleveland trip!
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(no subject)

Another wonderfully normal week. It tends to be the case. I did realize, while walking to my car Friday, that I am really and truly enjoying this work. And not just for the hours. I like the people I work with, and I actually am learning things, both about the field and myself/my goals. I am feeling less and less like this is just a year of killing time while Sam finishes up, and more that it was an overall good decision. I had seriously thought about taking a year off between college and med school, just to give myself a break and a chance to be "normal," but I figured I might not go back to school if I did that. Plus I didn't really have a good plan for what to do during that year. Now I'm getting the chance and really pleased about it.

This past week was a lot of reading and thinking. I've been spending a lot of time looking up old papers relating to what I hope to be writing about soon. I'm finally feeling a bit more comfortable in my abilities to do a decent literature search. Plus I'm learning a fair amount about clubfoot in the process. Not something I ever really thought I'd study, but here I am. I also finished up my summer classes this week. I now have two weeks off (I think) before the fall semester starts. It's odd to be back on a true semester schedule, but at least it's only one class, one evening a week.

Oh, also on Monday was my Comprehensive Clinical Skills Exam, or whatever it's really called, which was basically like the practical final for third year. 6 standardized patients (SPs) in a row, with 15 minutes to interview & examine each one, followed by 10 minutes to write up a note, give a list of possible diagnoses and list what I'd want to do next. I ended up being a little nervous, and not coming across as well as I'd like (or so my initial feedback would indicate). I mean, I did fine, but not as well as I'd like. Usually I do pretty well on the SP exams, because I'm actually able to interact with people. I don't really know what happened this time. However, I do believe that was the last time I have to do SPs at Wash U, and the only other time I should have to do it again will be for the board exam in January.

This weekend I hadn't really planned on doing much, but then got the idea that it would be a great time to clean out the fridge. I've been meaning to do it basically since I moved, but just never really remember. Well, that led to getting water everywhere, as the shelves were just a little too big to be contained in the sink while rinsing, which then led to a scrubbing down of the entire kitchen. It sparkles now, but it definitely took over 4 hours yesterday to complete. I also finished laundry, got groceries, took all the recycling to the drop spot, finished organizing my photos (which has been ongoing for about a month) and then went for a nice long walk with Sam through the park since it was gorgeous out. Quite a day for a Saturday with no real plans.

Today we're heading back to Eckert's to get more blackberries and peaches. They were so fantastic last time that we just have to get more. I've also figured out how to make some damn good sorbet with this stuff. We're bringing some friends along this time as well, to share in the fabulous fruit-ness. Plus, it's still perfect outside. It's been in the low 80's for weeks now, and doesn't feel like a St. Louis July/August at all. I, personally, love it. The misery of June made me fear what was coming, but this has been great. Now I just hope it doesn't stay 80 degrees until Thanksgiving, but I'll take what I can get right now.
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Still Here

Obnoxious neighbors are still here, and I'm getting very impatient with it. I did have a nice talk with both of the people who live on the other side of her last week, however. She apparently thinks they're all good friends, so they've got some info. There was talk of putting the house on the market this weekend, but then that was quickly followed with a comment of "but I think that's been the plan for the last 3 weeks." Seriously, if you're being pushed out, shouldn't there be a final date?? But then when you're as worthless and lazy as they are, I guess moving in less than a month is a miracle.

Alright, enough on that. Work continues to be chill. My boss and his family went on vacation last week, and don't get back until the end of this week. I'm kind of at a hurdle right now though, so there's not a lot for me to do until he gets back. I think I also need to work out some more OR time, hopefully without a sub-i in there. I'm also wrapping up summer classes this week and next week, which is good. I still have a hard time with the fact that I only have assignments, not studying, to do. I have to put together my final protocol for next week for Designing Clinical Research, and two more module worksheets for Analysis of Clinical Data, then I'm done until September.

I'm quite excited to lose the summer research people though. I've started chatting a bit more with the other year-long people from different programs (physical therapy, nursing), and we're hopefully going to try to do something together once the summer classes end so we can get to know each other a bit better. They all seem pretty nice, and it's always appreciated to find people with different fields of interest, even if they're still medically-oriented. I do believe I only have one class this fall though, along with a seminar series that I just need to be present at. I do, however, need to get my Master's committee together for my initial meeting, and that is proving to be impossible. Yet another thing to discuss with my boss when he gets back.

As for the rest of life, things are great. The weather this weekend was gorgeous, sunny and in the high 70's! I was in heaven. Sam and I went for another bike ride Saturday, this time over in Illinois on some trails recommended by the husband of one of the Ortho nurses we met at dinner with the boss awhile back. Wonderful trail, paved and well-maintained, through some really nice wooded areas, as well as farmland and even into some suburb-type areas. We wound up doing about 20 miles, and my butt was WAY less sore than when we did 16 miles on the Katy Trail. Afterwards I got cleaned up and went grocery shopping while Sam cut the grass. How domestic are we?

We also had a date night that night, in order to check out a place for the rehearsal lunch. Our initial place fell through, mainly because the owner was flakey and never responded to me or got me a contract. We really liked the place Saturday though, and spoke briefly with the owner before leaving, who was FAR better. We've got the place booked now, and just need to decide on the entrees to offer everyone.

Sunday was a very lazy day. The weather was still fantastic, so the windows stayed open all day. Crazy to be able to do that in mid-July in St. Louis! I'm so looking forward to moving somewhere where that's not so incredibly weird, though, and this weekend just served to further enforce that desire. We slept in super-late for us (10:30), though neither one of us was really overly tired the night before. I spent the day finishing laundry and just generally cleaning up the house while Sam embarked on another yard project with regards to the stormwater drainage by the new sidewalk. I'm so glad he knows how to do this stuff...it's going to save us a lot of money in the future! The evening was capped off with some chicken on the grill and a movie before crashing. It was a good weekend :) Now if the damn neighbors would just leave already!
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Out of Shape

I've been a bad future-healthcare-professional. After all we know about being overweight and lack of exercise, and all the preaching we're supposed to do, I must admit: I haven't exercised regularly since the middle of second year. Sure, I did a lot of running around and whatnot last year, but most times that doesn't quite cut it as far as aerobic exercise goes. So, I've decided that I need to take advantage of my flexible schedule this year and get back into a workout routine. Plus, since things are so flexible, I can actually do what I love to do and go swim! None of this running crap. I run when there is no other option, but I hate every minute of it. Besides, swimming works more muscles :)

I'm easing back in, as I haven't been in the pool since first year. I decided to go twice a week for the first 2-3 weeks, and only do around 1500-2000 yards. Not much, really. Oh man though, I went on Tuesday and thought during the warm-up that my arms were going to fall off. I got into it a bit more and ended up feeling pretty good....until I got up yesterday morning. My entire upper body was sore all day. And it was great! I haven't had a "good workout sore" in a long time. Went again today and felt much better. Plus, I can still get my mile done in around 30 minutes, so I'm not completely worthless.

Now I need to stick with this. Apparently one of the physical therapy students who's doing my research year program is also a former college swimmer, so we might go together sometime. If you start hearing me whine about it and back out too often though, yell at me! I need my stamina back! Plus a habit set in stone now will make it more likely that I do something when I'm a resident and treating myself like crap. Yeah, right, like that'll happen...
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Another Chill Week

I swear, I love this research gig. I love having my life back! I still can't quite believe how much time I have, but I promise one of these days I'll stop gushing about it. I do still feel like a lazy bum getting up at 7:30 most mornings though. I'm all warped and such now.

Anyway, I actually had a relatively productive week, both at work and in the rest of life. As far as work goes, I finished measuring my 200 X-rays, only to discover that we need to add a measurement of the hip joint to all of them. This will go faster though (once I figure it out), since I don't need to determine which kids in my list of over 1000 actually have the right films. I thus spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out the correct way to measure this particular thing in the hip joint, which meant lots of time online going through papers and whatnot, as well as trying to connect with various work people to ensure consistency. Still haven't got it down, but it's in the works.

Outside of work, I actually returned to wedding planning a bit. I reserved the restaurant where we're going to have a night-before, all-the-out-of-town-people-are-invited dinner at a great place on The Hill that Sam and I love. I also finally made the decision to blow off the original place for the rehearsal lunch, as the guy continued to not respond to me. Luckily I hadn't given him any money yet, so the only loss is the time I spent planning and trying to track him down. Clearly I don't need someone who never answers me to be responsible for part of the wedding. Badness. I did some looking for some other options, and have several to check out. One I stopped by this week, as it was on the way home from work, and I was pleasantly surprised at the venue they had to offer, the menu, AND the girl in charge of the booking/planning. It might be a little pricier than I anticipated, but I need to get a few other offers to really be able to determine if it's high. We're also going out tonight to a place in Clayton that I didn't know existed to see if the food is any good. These are the fun parts of planning....finding new good places to eat!

Also this week, I registered for a lame lab safety course, since my workspace is technically IN the lab; made a vet appointment for the cats (oh won't they be thrilled); navigated the new dental insurance that started last year to figure out who my dentist actually is now and made an appointment; made Sam's birthday cake; scrubbed the kitchen clean and actually finished the week's homework assignments well before they were due. 'Twas a good time.

Today Sam's ripping out the honeysuckle from the front yard, as it has finally succumbed to the fungus that seemed to attack it last summer. He has grand plans to re-structure the front flowerbed somewhat, then we're going to plant new flowers. I think at this point we're going to go with rhododendrons. I must say, I'm quite pleased with this, as I was never really a fan of the honeysuckle. It always looked a little ragged, really more of a "growing over a fence" kind of plant. It's still a little weird to have a house with all these little things to take care of. Makes me feel all grown-up and real. Scary.

And finally, crazy-neighbor update: they're still there, haven't left yet. It amazes me how long it's taking them to paint a room. Of course, when you're lazy and don't actually start doing anything until 9 pm, the day kind of gets away from you. Dog is still there, barking away. They are, also, actually doing some yardwork...sort of. No project ever really gets finished (again, starting as the sun goes down kills the productivity), as evidenced by the pile of branches left out front this morning. I love the improvements that they're making, presumably to make the house more marketable. Clearly they're aware that it was a hole, but were never really motivated enough to make it nice to live in themselves. People amaze me. They say owning your own home makes you more invested, so you'll take better care of it. That theory is being disproved every day next door. I really hope someone better moves in.
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