Three Years Later

...and still going strong.



A discussion on the Rabbit Room led me to this site, a fascinating collection of one-sentence stories. Enjoy. (Disclaimer: a few are indeed off-color.)


Christmas Letter 2008

As the year winds to a close and Eric and I prepare to celebrate three years of marriage together, we pause and look back to yet another whirlwind year in our lives. Instead of going chronologically this year, I think we’ll start with biggest news first.

In case you haven’t heard, we’re expecting the birth of our first child—a girl—on April 29, 2009 (or thereabouts)! Despite all of my worries and paranoia (no doubt due to the fact that I’m an obstetrics/gynecology resident) it has been an uneventful pregnancy thus far. The timing is really just about perfect—I can take the month of May off and then finish up with a few weeks of residency in June before finally graduating from residency! Eric, too, graduates from his family practice residency in June.

That leads us to our next biggest news: what we’re doing after residency. Most of you already know that we have planned on working internationally for some time, and those plans haven’t changed (even with a new baby). In fact, we have been accepted to a program through an organization called World Medical Mission/Samaritan’s Purse. They will place us with mentoring physicians in our specialties and help fund us for the first two years of medical work. Then it’s up to us to find a long term agency or job in which to work. We will be heading to Tenwek Hospital in western Kenya (east Africa) sometime around October 2009 for a two year commitment. Going with us are two other couples from our church, Jason & Heather Fader (a general surgeon) and John & Jessica Cropsey (ophthalmology/eyes). We hope to develop a long term partnership with them and work together for years to come. Just FYI, the hospital is located in some beautiful mountains, not far from many fantastic game parks, for whoever wants to visit. J

The rest of the year has been full of fun family meetings and vacations. Eric’s youngest sister Jena got married in June in Nashville and we were able to be a part of that wedding. Rachel’s grandparents celebrated 60 years of marriage this fall and had a nice family dinner in honor of all those years! We also traveled to Arizona, Texas, Minnesota, Louisville, and Chattanooga (for a multi-day canoe trip). Our big vacation, and last as a childless couple, was to Montreal and Quebec for a few days of “European” Canada, and then to Maine and Acadia National Park, where we enjoyed lots of camping, biking, and cheap lobster! All that interspersed with months of working primarily night shifts left us pretty busy, but grateful of all the opportunities to see friends and family.

We look back on the year, and in fact our five years together, with joy at all of the blessings we’ve received. And we look to the future, and all the promises it holds of God’s continued leading and faithfulness. Truly we can say again, as we have in the past, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” –Psalm 126:3. May you also know the joy of the Lord’s faithfulness in your lives. Much love,

Rachel, Eric, and B.G. (baby girl) McLaughlin



40% of poll respondents were correct. This, our lovely baby girl, is in fact, our baby girl. Wow. All is well.

Sara Groves

A few months ago, Andrew Peterson posted a song by Sara Groves on his Rabbit Room site, that I keep coming back to and listening to, getting more out of it each time I listen. So I figured I'd spread the love. "How It Matters"


Holiday Brot

There now, doesn't that look seasonal? The first of our two new year's resolutions was officially accomplished last weekend, as we made a nice cinnamon raisin walnut bread. Very nice, not really ethnic, but quite seasonal, and quite tasty. The recipe is in Betty Crocker, and so I don't have the link, but we do recommend it. The bow is optional.


Vote for Baby!

Our 20-week ultrasound in next Tuesday 12/16. We thought it would be fun to wait until delivery to find out gender, but Rachel being the ultrasound-fiend that she is, we decided to find out on purpose, instead of accidentally. So cast your vote above. Eric dreamed the baby was a girl. Rachel dreamed the baby was a boy. (Yes, we realize the blog poll on this issue is a copy of Clayton and Teresa. So be it.)

n.b. Eric's parents do NOT want to know the gender. Use gender-non-specific pronouns in their presence. Do NOT show them the blue or pink items you think would go well with etc...


Over The Rhine

One of our favorite bands has one of our favorite Christmas albums up on line for a complete listen, and we highly recommend it. Click on the link, click on the "record player", listen to your hearts content, and maybe think about buying it for a friends Christmas present. A friend named Eric or Rachel.


Bulldozers in the Yard

Most people think of November and December as the holiday season. But as anyone in residency, or their last year of medical school, will tell you, it's actually interview season. Every Thursday night and Friday another dozen bright-eyed medical students interested in delivering babies for the rest of their lives converge upon my residency program and they try to impress us, while we try to impress them. Part of the impressing comes in the form of a different resident hosting a nice catered dinner in their home every Thursday night before the interviews officially start. This Thursday night was my turn.

Eric and I spent much time preparing the house on Wednesday. We put up the tree, cleaned, decorated, made sure the Indian food (yummy naan and tikka masala) was properly ordered, bought the apple cider, etc etc. I rushed home from work on Thursday to put the apple cider to heat in the crock pot. Three blocks before I arrived, Eric called to tell me he would be rather late, as he had gotten stuck at work. Anything he said after that was lost as I stared in amazement at my front yard as I drove past. There was a large truck w/ a flatbed trailer taking up all the parking space in front of the house, and . . . what?! A bulldozer in my front yard! Eek!

Apparently three separate neighbors had called the gas company earlier in the afternoon because they could smell a gas leak outside our house. Fortunately, the leak was entirely outside. UNfortunately, the leak was located underneath our front lawn. This may not mean much, but for the last 2 1/2 years, Eric and I have waged a battle to magically get grass to grow in our (very shady) front yard. We have reseeded 3-4times. I kid you not, it has been maybe four weeks since we were raking leaves and I commented how it finally looked like we were getting a modest amount of grass to grow, and how this was a major improvement from when we bought the house, AND how nice it would look when we put our house on the market in a few months. Sigh. I guess we should just be grateful that our house didn't blow up.

To make matters worse, the gas to our house was turned off for about four hours. We have a gas-powered boiler. Translation: it was very cold inside our house. But, all's well that ends well. The heat turned on 15 minutes before people arrived, and most people could just keep their coats on for the first hour until the house warmed up a bit. The bulldozer and trailer left before people arrived. The Indian food was tasty. The cider was....lukewarm, but still tasty. The gas line is fixed. And our lawn, well, WE bought the house when there was no grass in the front yard, so maybe someone else will do the same. :)


Trimming the Tannenbaum

This week we continued our tradition of the Scotch Pine decorating. We poured a couple glasses of egg nog, turned up the Bing Crosby, pulled the Christmas box (singular) out of storage, and set to work. Apparently, egg nog and Bing are a combination for a wild time, as seen below.

Yet the tree found it's way to full decoration, where it has been enjoyed by all.

Stories From Thanksgiving #3

Getting to see lots of family meant that our baby got lots of presents. Thank you all so much. Here's the gender-neutral baby quilt my mom made (note: no boxer shorts were used in the making of this quilt).

By the way, the baby is officially kicking.

Stories from Thanksgiving #2

Thanksgiving Day was a balmy 60 degrees or so in Tennessee, and the women-folk decided to go for a stroll in the neighborhood. Brian, my dad, and I decided to stay back and test our relative masculinities in the form of foose-ball. But this was swiftly interrupted by a call from the women.

A snake (a good 4' long probably) was hanging out in the neighboring grass. Having recently been certified as an official "MacGyver Medicine" practitioner, I was ready to tell the populace whether this one looked toxic. Basically, if the head looks mean, stay away from it. The problem, I discovered, is that it's hard to really study the head well from a safe distance. So, better safe than sorry, and my dad threw down a shovel a few times, ending the snake's life prematurely. Everyone looked at him with awe, and we walked home...with much thanksgiving.

And thus, no matter how many times I beat him at foose-ball, his snake-killing trumped my masculinity.


Stories From Thanksgiving #1

My mom, Rachel, and I are sitting on the front porch. It goes that, several weeks ago, my sister Sami and her husband Jonathan were home.

Jonathan: "Sharon, I was wondering if you could make a guitar strap for me."

Mom: "Sure, I guess."

Sami: "Jonathan, tell her what you want her to make it from."

Jonathan: "Umm," (pregnant pause) "from my boxer shorts."

And she did, and apparently all parties were quite impressed with the result. I have to wonder where this idea came from in the first place? I might feel strange telling the world about this, but Jonathan apparently announced it from the stage a couple weeks ago, whilst trying to kill time with his (and Brian's) band Concerning Lions.

My mom offered to make me a quilt out of my boxers, but I passed. Good to be home.