Thursday, November 7

extravagant generosity

It is with a big grin that I can tell you that I have, in fact, now finished my 8th book of 2013! I have a personal goal of reading 12 books that are not mandatory school reading/research books in 2013. And a mere 12 books seem easy enough...but I find myself in November with only 2/3 of my goal met! My husband and I just finished reading "Practicing Extravagant Generosity - Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving", by Robert Schase (yes, I can't help but to pronounce it like schnoz, as in a big nose). This book was recommended by our Pastor and church staff in an effort to ramp up the commitment of monetary giving to our church. Yes, I'm talking about stewardship month.

Normally, I *DETEST* stewardship month. Year after year, the month in which the church staff take turns imploring the congregation for more money has done nothing but make me feel like a jackass for not having much money. And also a frivolous human being for spending money on yet another pair of shoes, instead of putting it in the collection plate. No one likes to feel guilty, myself included. So in the past, I have kind of skipped out on church services when I knew they were going to involve asking for money. I'm certainly not proud of it, but it's the honest truth. 

This year, I cannot believe how successfully my church pulled off stewardship month! I've never seen anything like it! Instead of the guilt trips like I was expecting, the sermons were filled with inspirational stories about ways we can build up our church into a community that fulfills each member's hopes and dreams. In one sermon, the older population from the church were asked to reflect on memories they have from Hope United Methodist Church, and how their lives have been changed by having Hope at the center. In another service, the church's youth organized the service, and the theme was what the children's dreams for Hope were. The children of our church yearn for a place that is accepting, loves everyone, reaches out to the community, and sings loudly and proudly. That right there is beautiful. That is what every church should strive to be. Seeing the dreams that our children have for our church makes me want to give anything I can so that our church can be that safe haven in the future. 
In addition to these powerful sermons, the congregation was asked to read about what it means to practice "Extravagant Generosity." I want to share with you a quote from the book that sums up the message quite elegantly:
"Extravagant denotes a style and attitude of giving that is unexpectedly joyous, without predetermined limits, from the heart. People who practice Extravagant Generosity change their lives in order to become more generous. They become rich in giving. They do not wait to be asked. When they see a need, they step forward to meet it, offering their resources as a means of help...They persist in doing good...They pray and hope and dream about the good they can accomplish through their gifts...People who practice Extravagant Generosity change lives."
Never before has a stewardship month been so successful in helping me to see that what I'm giving today has lasting importance on the potential of what our church can be in the lives of those who need it in the future. I have always enjoyed donating my time, talents, and money to organizations who are doing wonderful things to help people in this world. I have no idea why it has taken me so long to see my own church as one of those worthwhile organizations to start donating to. Well, better late than never :)


Wednesday, November 6

two thousand fourteen

Well hey there blogland! 

I know I am officially the most infrequent blogger on the planet, but I have a few minutes tonight {while multi-tasking and watching season 5 of Breaking Bad, of course}, so I thought I'd write up a little post!

Here we are in November!!! Today I realized that 2013 is almost to an end, and that means that 2014 is coming! The thought of 2014 immediately got butterflies going in my stomach, because 2014 is the start of a new set of adventures for us! My husband and I both graduate in May, and we will officially be a Doctor and a Physician Assistant, ready to take on the world with big kid jobs! It's such an AMAZING prospect, because I have NEVER ever ever been this close to the end of the "school era" of my life. After high school, there was college, in undergrad I was preparing for PA school, and it will be time to put everything I have learned to use! It's daunting and thrilling all at once!!!

So, here are a few updates: Tyler has decided that he definitely is going to be a Family Medicine doctor, and he is going to be *amazing* at this! He has such a heart of gold, and he wants to be able to touch the lives of people from all walks of life; young and old (and in between), typical children and those with special needs, healthy and those who require multiple interventions...he is simply going to be incredible! I have never had such complete faith in one human being as I do him. I can't wait to see what he accomplishes in his career! He is in his final year of medical school, has his Masters in Public Health under his belt, and is gearing up for residency interviews --- which start this Friday! He has interviews in California (near Sonoma, yes please!), Salt Lake City, North Carolina, and all over Colorado. 

We find out in March what residency program he gets in to, or where he matches. It's the most nerve-wracking day to ever be designed on this planet. Tyler ranks his residency choices, and the residency programs rank the students who interviewed with them, then some sort of matching machine (robot?) decides which student should be happily attached to which residency program. On "Match Day", you'll find me popping Xanax on a regular basis in order to suppress a series of panic attacks. My heart is already racing, I must remember to keep this phrase in mind come March:

An update on me: I have been having a WONDERFUL year out in the world of clinical medicine! Patients > Powerpoints. I learn so much more effectively when I have a face and a story to put with a diagnosis! Some months are more challenging than others...those of you who are friends with me on facebook know that October was brutal! I had 3 days off the entire month, and was working >70 hours a week. Yuck! 7 day work weeks??? Get real!!! I mean, part of the reason I wanted to be a PA instead of an MD is so that I could work like 3 days a week. This month, however, I am in a rotation that understands the importance of easing into the workweek and also having early release for the weekends - so I have half days on Mondays and Fridays! This is much more up my alley.

Clinic is great. Not only do I learn so many things every day, but I also have a new awkward experience every day. Maybe I should start a series of blog posts called "Awkward Mondays" or "Embarrassed Wednesdays" or "Tongue-Tied Thursdays"...because I seriously have some outrageous stories to tell you all. What do you think??? I might seriously do this

In a completely unrelated note, but in keeping my blog tradition, I have to share with you guys that I finished my 7th book of 2013 {FINALLY}. I literally read it at a snail's pace. Like if a snail could read, that's probably how slowly I read it. And the masterpiece that I just finished is titled, "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" - by the one and only Chelsea Handler of course. 

It was ridiculous. It was raunchy. It made me LOL and snort. It wasn't good, but it was funny. I won't likely be rushing out to buy her 3 (?) other books anytime soon, unless any of you can convince me that they're worth it, but I'm glad I read it. It provided some comic relief on nights I wanted to cry from the stress of clinic. 

I'm glad to be done with it because I have 3 books I have been dying to read! Next on my list are "Revenge Wears Prada", "Allegient", and "50 Shades Freed". Considering I'm only a little more than halfway through my goal of reading 12 books in 2013...I better get going so that I can get reading!

Hope you all are doing wonderfully :)

Cheers :)

Friday, August 30

inside out and back again

Happy Friday, y'all! This week I successfully finished my 6th read of 2013 (halfway through my goal of reading 12 leisure books this year). My mom is in grad school to be a librarian, so she is constantly recommending little gems for me to read! This particular gem is called Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai. 

This novel incorporates much of the author's actual experiences as a young girl fleeing Saigon during wartime. It is written from the perspective of of a 10-year-old girl who loves long hair, papayas, and her home in South Vietnam. Together with her widowed mother and three older brothers, she is uprooted and journeys across the ocean to Alabama. In Alabama she must learn a new language, new cultural practices, and a new way of life. The author successfully draws you in to the 10-year-old protagonist's thought processes. She is sassy, determined, and wistful. I love her. 

This lovely story is a very quick read, I think I read it in 5 hours or so. I recommend it as little day trip in the mind of a child, it's always good to remember to look at life through the eyes of a child from time to time :)

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, August 20


Tonight, I finally finished Dan Brown's latest installment, Inferno. I have been carrying around my copy of Robert Langdon's latest adventure since May, when the novel was released. For some reason, it just took me forever to get through! I suppose it could have something to do with my end-of-may Vegas vacation (no time for reading when you're busy sunning and drinking), and my "full-time job" (for which I am paying a hefty price to do) called 3rd year clinicals. Alas, I have finished it (and with this book, I have finished my 5th book of 2013 --- in case you didn't know, I have a personal goal of reading 12 books this year). 

I'm glad Dan Brown decided to stick with Robert Langdon for his protagonist in this story. In Deception Point and Digital Fortress (in which Langdon was not a character), I just pictured Robert Langdon as the protagonist anyway. It's just easier this way. 

This novel follows Langdon, a symbologist/art history nerd who teaches at Harvard, as he gets involved in an international life-and-death quest involving a brilliant lunatic of a genetic scientist. Naturally. As far as Dan Brown's novels go...this was not his best work. My enjoyment of Dan Brown novels goes in this order:

Angels & Demons > Da Vinci Code > Deception Point > The Lost Symbol = Digital Fortress = Inferno

In my (humble?) opinion.

However, if you're a Dan Brown enthusiast, you should probably just go ahead and read this. It's got adventure, art, architecture, mystery, bloodshed, and of course there's a girl. There's always a girl. Robert Langdon shows regular nerds out there that you don't have to be James Bond to always have a hot girl as your sidekick.

Grade: C+ / B-

Have you read this book? What did you think?
What are you reading lately? I need some amazing books on my "to read" list :)


Monday, August 19

loving life

Wow, this is my first blog post about ME, and not a book, in a very VERY long time. I have been incredibly busy since the start of Physician Assistant school in May of 2011, and blogging has most definitely taken a back seat to everything else in my life. I still enjoy blogging about the books I read though, because it keeps me mindful of my goal to nourish the inquisitive and creative part of me that likes to learn about things beyond medicine.

School has been SUCH an amazing roller coaster! The 2011-2012 school year was a whirlwind of science, new friends, factoids, diseases, factoids about diseases, tests, anxiety about tests, failure, depression about failure, success, relief, and collapse. 2012-2013 by comparison was a walk in a magical park filled with sunshine, frolicking baby animals, and world peace. But it was still hard. Now that I am officially in the 2013-2014 year of school (the last leg), I am just filled with joy every day that I have made it here! There were SO many times in my 1st year of PA school that I wanted to give up. Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (May = graduation), I am beyond grateful that I somehow persevered, passed all of my classes, and didn't end up in an insane asylum. Thanks to the assistance of my classmates, friends, family, husband, puppies, my treadmill, and Zoloft, I'm going to make it out of this alive.

I remember being 18 years old and wanting to be a Pediatrician. "But I'm not good at science," I said. So I diverted from that path for a while, only to realize at the age of 21 that yeah, I still wanted to be a Pediatrician. However, I learned about the great gig of the PA, and went that route. I did my first General Pediatrics rotation in June, and my heart was so happy each and every day I was there. I adored the kids and loved the opportunity to provide education to both parents and children about their development. I think it just might be the perfect fit for me!

Before working in General Peds, I got a variety of experiences in other specialties. Some specialties, really neat and useful. Others...not for me. I worked in Asthma and Allergy, Family Medicine, Peds Pulmonary (oh neat, asthma again), General Surgery (no thanks, I prefer my patients to be awake), Hospice (AMAZINGGGGG!!!), Peds Orthopedics/Sports Medicine, Peds GI (pooooop), and more Family Medicine. There, that's my resume.

In July of this year I got to work in the nursery at Denver Health, which was really fun. Most of you probably know that before PA school I worked as a CNA in the well-baby nursery at Rose. I have missed the little tiny peanut babies so much! So working in the nursery was like being brought back into my comfort zone. And while I adored the babies, I found that I need a little more variety in my population. Surprisingly, having your patients be babies who are o - 48 hours old gets a little repetitive.

I am now working in Peds Neurology - which is so cool. What is your reaction to the word, "seizure" ? Is it something like the hyenas' reaction to "Mufasa!!!" in the Lion King? Yeah, my reaction used to be like that too. Seizures are scary, because, well, we don't know many people in our day-to-day lives who have seizures. What I'm learning is that a) a seizure is not just a seizure, there are like 7,534 types of seizures, b) not all seizures are really bad, c) plenty of people with seizures have totally normal and fulfilling lives, they just have little blips in the brain sometimes (like a literal brain fart). Seems like common sense - of course kids with seizures lead pretty normal lives! But sometimes you have to really see it to believe it. I am working with a pretty incredible population. The kids are awesome, and the dedication these parents have to their children is beautiful. Being in this rotation makes me both terrified and inspired to become a parent. (speaking of babies - yes we still want them, however, now is still not great timing, so just calm down.)

Coming up in the remainder of my education, I will be journeying through: Internal Medicine, Peds Inpatient, Peds Dermatology, Adolescent Medicine, Salud Family Med (my "rural" month will be in Fort Collins! Ha!), Emergency Department, Psychiatry, and OB/GYN. I still have lots of medical flavors to experience this year, and I am excited for this opportunity! So that's me.

Then there's Tyler. He is doing amazing at life, per usual. Rocking his 4th and final year of medical school, got his Masters in Public Health last year in his spare time, and is applying for Family Medicine residencies. At some point in March we will basically be told, "Welp, here's where you're going to live for 3 years." Then we go live there starting June of 2014 until Tyler gets his Doctor training wheels removed (because being a resident is like being a toddler... super valid comparison I think). Tyler also has joined the elite 1% of crazies who run marathons, he ran 1 in 2012 and 1 so far in 2013. Ridiculous --- So just keep being awesome Tyler, not like you know how to do anything else :)

Then there's our puppies. Our sweet little furbabies that are now both 4 years old! They went to the vet today, and Gryffin is still stoned from the anesthesia from his teeth cleaning. We were also told today that Penny has abnormal liver function lab values today. Greaaaaaat. Our problem puppy is at it again! Crossing my fingers that her liver was just playing jokes, so we'll recheck labs in a month and tell the liver to behave this time. But they're both doing great, and they looooove the fact that daddy not trains for marathons. 

So that sums up the Aurora brood pretty well. On the off chance that we get out of the house for a few hours, you can find us at church or a pub playing trivia. 

Well, friendly reader, you're probably really bored by now, I know I am. So I'll sign off. Maybe now that I'm in the magical land of 3rd year, I'll keep up with my blog a little better! (no promises)

CHEERS (to love, life, and happiness!!!)


I'm embarrassed. It's been almost 5 months since my last post! YIKES, that's bad. I have ***so*** much to catch you all up on! Naturally, I shall start with a book review (#4 of 2013)...

I read the book Shine by Lauren Myracle in May. 

You know those books that just touch you to the core, and ignite in you the desire to help the world be a better place? Shine was one of those books for me. Shine takes place in a small, tight-knight, intolerant community in the South. The story follows the antagonist, Cat, as she reels from the news that her best friend was brutally attacked for being gay. Cat works diligently to try to solve the mystery of who in her community would take intolerance that far. With the gossiping religious folk in her community thinking that victim deserved his attack as punishment for his sins, Cat doesn't have much support in her quest. But when Cat uncovers a rampant meth use problem amongst her peers, some of the most unlikely people become suspects. 

This story is a mystery and coming of age story all at once. It addresses the monstrosity that is meth, and how drastically it impacts individuals and communities. It doesn't shy away from the theme of hate crimes, and the fact that it is an unfortunate reality still in 2013.

This book encouraged me to not give up on the world. Instead of shaking my head in shame at the horrific things that occur every day worldwide, I need to keep trying to be a part of the solution to the world's problems. Lofty goals? Yes. Cliche? Yes. Heartwarming and empowering? Also, yes.

For a powerful and sobering read, please check this one out. 

Cheers (and check back for a real life update on me, not just my reads)

Wednesday, March 27

fifty shades of f***ed up

Hey all!

I know, I know... I have been terrible at checking in on my blog. I pretty much remember to blog when we have a fantastic new recipe to share or when I have finished reading a book that doesn't have to do with medicine! Considering I've been mostly consumed by school reading since January, I haven't been able to read for fun too often. However, I did just finish Fifty Shades Darker (my 3rd read in 2013) over Spring Break, and I have to say that Christian Grey is 50 Shades of FUCKED UP!

If you read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey, then you know that I was very conflicted about the emotional journey I went on while reading it. Disgust and concern aside, by the end of the book, I decided I needed to know what was next for Christian and Ana.So I borrowed the sequel from my 18-year-old sister's college dorm roommate. Yup, sure did!

And I have to say to say that I was intrigued that there was much more of a "plot" this time around. Yes, there was kinky sex. Yes, there is this deep dark past of Christian's that is annoyingly alluded to for much of the book. However, a lot of his issues are revealed in this book (for better or for worse), so at least I finally understood some of why he is so damaged. It's still not one of my top 10 favorite reads ever, but I'm glad I understand Christian and the dynamics of Christian/Ana a little better now.

Next on the reading list:
Fifty Shades Freed. Yep. You know me --- I'm a girl who likes to see a series through! Whether or not I love the book, I want to know what happens for the characters so that I can sleep soundly at night. Haha...but really, sometimes I literally stay up at night wondering what is going on in the lives of fictional characters. Pathetic, but true...

Also...I still love to imagine just how good looking Christian Grey is supposed to be. And of all the hot men in the world, I always go back to this picture of Matt Bomer in my head! (and yes, I know he's gay. He's just an incredibly good looking person!!!)

Have you read this series? What did you think about them? And who wants to loan me the 3rd book in the serious???

What good books have you read lately??? (not that I have time to read them...)

Happy Spring to you!!!
Cheers :)

Friday, January 11

heaven is for real

Hey there, beautifuls!

I have officially finished my 2nd book of 2013, and I have to say --- I haven't had a book impact me in this way in a while! I read Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.

Heaven is For Real chronicles the experiences of the Burpo family in 2003. Todd Burpo is a Protestant Pastor in Nebraska, and had known since he was 13 years old that he wanted to be a pastor. In the Spring of 2003, Colton got very sick with an acute case of appendicitis that went undiagnosed for 6 days before he eventually underwent emergency surgical removal of his ruptured appendix. The Burpo family was relieved and grateful that Colton survived the ordeal, and everyone was ready to put the incident behind them. 

However, over the next few months, Colton started mentioning things that puzzled his parents. He had a real concern about whether people had Jesus in their heart when they passed away. Why would a 4-year-old boy be frantic over whether a deceased stranger knew Jesus? The more Colton's parents began to probe and ask questions, the more they realized something incredible had happened to Colton. Colton nonchalantly told his father that while the surgeon was removing his appendix, he was watching everything outside of his body, while sitting in Jesus's lap. Colton was able to describe what his parents were doing during his surgery, information that the parents had not told Colton. Colton was able to describe Heaven in terms that are consistent with the Bible, disclosing details that are not taught in 3-year-old Sunday School. Colton told stories of meeting other children, and of meeting his Great Grandfather (whom had passed away long before Colton was born).

For me, the most jaw-dropping moment of the book was when Colton described meeting his sister in Heaven. Colton's mother had miscarried a child when she was 8 weeks pregnant, and grieved that loss deeply. They never knew the sex of the baby, but experienced a void where that little life would have been. Colton's parents had certainly never told him about this miscarriage, not exactly a conversation you have with a then-3-year-old. Colton told his parents that he met his sister, who has no name, and that his sister told him she died in his mommy's tummy. How would Colton know all of this? 

The story of Colton meeting his deceased sister in Heaven was poignant for me. I have always been pro-choice. I believe that in every incident of rape or incest that results in pregnancy, the woman should have the right to decide how to proceed with the pregnancy. Though I have been confident in my pro-choice beliefs, I have always been unsure about when exactly "life" starts. Is it at conception? Is it at birth? Is it at the 3rd trimester? This segment of the book changed how I look at abortion. Pursuing a career in medicine, it is fairly easy for me to depersonalize abortion and think of it as a few cells that have been multiplying...not yet a child. But the fact that Colton met his sister in Heaven, and that he proclaimed, "She's okay. God adopted her" --- really has got me second-guessing my previous feelings on the topic.

The cynical and scientific side of me immediately jumps to questioning the validity of the story. How do we know what Colton really revealed to his parents? Was Todd Burpo looking for a payout by writing a book about his son's experience? Was he looking for a slice of fame or to increase the numbers within his congregation? But all of these questions I found myself asking go against the very purpose of the book - and that purpose is the strengthening of faith - faith in God, faith in Jesus, and faith that Heaven is real. 

It made me smile to read Colton's accounts of what God is like, what Jesus is like, what angels are like, and what Heaven is like. It bolsters my hope in a wonderful after-life, and uplifts me. His description of beauty, rainbows, light, and peace are exactly what I hope for Heaven to be. I also smiled when I read that Colton told his dad there are lots of animals in Heaven - it's comforting to know that our on-Earth companions will be at our side once again in Heaven. 

I HIGHLY recommend this book to you! It is only 150 pages, and reads super super quickly. Even if you aren't a religious person, I think you'll enjoy it. At least your curiosity might be piqued enough to investigate the notions of religion and Heaven further. It can't hurt to take a look at this one!

Have you read this book?
What did you think?
Cheers to this beautiful read :)

Monday, January 7

francesca's kitchen

Howdy! I hope you are all enjoying the new year! I have really cleaned up my eating habits, and I feel wonderful! The sunshine is shining bright in the sky here in Colorado, giving me lots of opportunities to get outside and be active with my puppy dogs without freezing my butt off!

I finished my first book of 2013 --- and of course I had to share my read with you :)

Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli

This lovely story follows Francesca Campanile, an elderly Italian woman with a great love for good food and big families. With her husband having passed away years ago, and her children grown and now living all across the United States, she has a persistent loneliness and lack of purpose. She decides to answer a local advertisement for a nanny position. Loretta is a single mother to Penny and Will, the loves of her life. But she can't seem to catch a break. She feels like she is drowning and can't find the piece of her life puzzle that brings calm and happiness. Francesca's presence in her home brings a new love for cooking and re-instills the value of "togetherness" in the little family. Francesca needs the family, and the family needs her.

This book is happy and warm, a little gem. Not necessarily the best book I have ever read, but it is encouraging to read stories where hope leads to happiness in a world where much sadness is experienced. 

I started Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo last night, and of course I'll report back to you with what I think of it when I'm finished :)

Happy reading!

Friday, January 4

welcome to twenty thirteen

Hey all! I know it has been a month since I have posted! I am surprised at myself, because I finished finals for my 4th semester of PA school on December 14th, so I figured I would be on here before this! I had an intense and amazing fall semester, and I can't believe I only have 1 semester of classes left before I hit my clinical year! SO EXCITING!!!

First things first --- just want to inform you all that I did meet my goal of 12 books read in 2012. Kind of had to cram books in on break time (summer, Thanksgiving), since after studying 8 hours a day every day, the last thing my eyeballs usually feel like doing is reading a book, even if it is for leisure! My last book of 2012 is something special to me, it is a little book called 

God's Minute: 365 Daily Affirmations for Positive Prayer

Each night before bed, my husband and I would read the quote and the accompanying Bible Verse. It took no more than 30 seconds, and it was always a great note to end the day on. Reminded, right before bed, that God is looking out for me, holding my hand through trying times, and supporting me to be the best version of myself I can possibly be. It was a great habit to get into, and I'm glad we saw the entire book through! 

I recommend this little gem for sure!

I am currently reading Francesca's Kitchen --- and I hope to be able to finish that + at least one more book before I get back to school! I would like to say my goal is to read 13 books in 2013, but I think I'll stick to my one book/month goal --- let's not get too lofty, here :)

Any recent book recommendations? I think next on my list is Fifty Shades Darker and Heaven is For Real {I realize I sound like an insane person, listing those two vastly different books int he same sentence}. Whatever, I like variety :)

Cheers to a good read!
Cheers to 2012 --- the experiences it brought and the lessions I learned!
Cheers to 2013 --- may I become an improved version of myself!