Tag Archives: dreams

Field Trip

9 Jan

what good


How does that line go from the old Christmas carol?

“A pair of Hop-a-long boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Bonny and Ben
Dolls that will talk and go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jenn

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

letter we are currently in my kids’ 3rd and final week of winter break from public school. Most dental offices close down for the two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s, so I got a good, strong 2-week dose of family time. But as much as I love my children, I have to say I practically skipped out of the house Monday morning on my way back to work.


…good luck honey.”

butterfly garden

butterfly garden

UnDorkMommy has been doing a herculean job keeping them entertained and out from in front of the TV/computer screen this week. So when Episode IV suggested that they go to the Academy of Sciences yesterday, everyone was onboard.

The Academy is a two hour drive away, so these trips generally mean a long haul both up and back, with a napless baby thrown in for good measure. That’s OK. You’ve gotta do that stuff every once in a while. The text messages I got throughout the day seemed to indicate that the kids were getting along amazingly well, and were having a great time. Cool.

Bunch of goofballs.

Bunch of goofballs.

As it happens, Wednesdays are the days I teach at the dental school in the same city as the Academy of Sciences, and this particular Wednesday was the first day back. Through a cosmic alignment of circumstances we found the entire family in a city 2 hours from home on a day the kids didn’t have school and the dental students didn’t have any high-stakes projects going on. It was an opportunity I just couldn’t’ pass up.

After some bartering via text messages with my wife (there was an over-tired baby and a 2 hour drive home to factor in) UnDorkMommy agreed to drive through the city and swing by the dental school so Daddy could give the big kids a tour (because let’s get real, nothing gives DorkDaddy a thrill like showing off his family).

Daddy came down to the street in his white lab coat and picked them up curbside while the baby stayed (moderately) entertained by a DVD in the minivan with Mommy. I took them to security and got them an official “visitors” badge. We walked through the clinic, a room filled with 200+ dental chairs and positively buzzing with patients, students, staff and instructors. They got to see students of mine, and shake hands with some of my former professors now colleagues. One of the administrators was pushing a cart around, overflowing with free toothbrush samples, so they filled their pockets.

For about 12 seconds I considered taking the kids to the cadaver lab…

…I didn’t. Don’t worry. But I’m still considering it.

Then it was a ride up the elevator to show them what a real dental school classroom looks like. We stepped into the back of the lecture hall – 150 empty seats all facing a projection screen at the front of the room. Episode IV turned up her nose immediately. “This classroom doesn’t look very fun” she said. I suppose I had to concede that one to her.

“Oh, you want to see something really fun, do you?” I replied. The final stop on our tour was the dental school equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Room – the Sim Lab (cue dramatic music). Imagine 150 first year dental students in a room as deep as the eye can see, all working furiously away, drilling little plastic teeth in 150 mannequin head work stations.

Nothing gives me a thrill quite like showing off my family.

Nothing gives me a thrill quite like showing off my family.

We walked through the door and Episode V said “Woah! There are plastic people in here!”

“Yes,” I replied. “And the plastic people are all going to be dentists someday.”


If Episode V looks a little too comfortable in that chair, there’s a reason.

I want to give massive thanks to my students who whisked up my kids, sat them down at the workstations and let them be real dental students, if only for a few minutes. For what it’s worth, I like to tease my dental students with the fact that my 5 year old son has done more real life dentistry than they have. They uaually laugh at me and say “yea right”. Then I show them these pictures and they realize I’m not joking.

She's got him right where she wants him.

She’s got him right where she wants him.

I also want to give massive thanks to UnDorkMommy who tacked on an additional 45 minutes to the daytrip, even though she already had a melting down baby and two tired, overstimulated big kids to deal with. She knows, as I do, that if your kids are going to dream big, they have to be able to picture themselves in those dreams.

Besides, what good is having a dental school if you can’t take your kids to the Sim Lab once in a while…?


…or the cadaver lab.


-Dork Dad

At What Cost Our Dreams?

4 Mar

letter I’ll be the first person to say I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I’m in the office 3 days a week, I teach at the university one day, and teach in the 1st grade class another. I’ve got three amazing, brilliant, healthy kids, a wife way above my station and a mortgage I can (barely) afford. People in my position are not allowed to complain. What follows is therefore most definitely *NOT* a complaint.

My dream was always the Norman Rockwell life – a beautiful wife, a house with a picket fence in a quiet neighborhood, 2.7 kids, a Labrador, and if at all possible to be able to support that family in a way that allowed for my wife to stay home with the kids if she wanted, and for me to be able to coach little league and video tape ballet recitals. Cheesy? Yes. For everyone? No. But ultimately, as of September when we finally put up the picket fence in front of the house, that’s exactly what I’ve got (even if the Labrador lives with my mother-in-law these days).

That’s it. Done. Living the dream.

But when you finish the checklist, what then? Dude’s still got to dream. Once Mazlow’s basic needs are met, the individual is free to address other less crucial aspects of survival. These, the “less crucial” dreams, are where dreams and reality come colliding into one another like subatomic particles at CERN. Here are a few “less crucial” dreams I’ve got floating around in my head – and the realities of living life that keep getting in the way.

When I compared the $’s of my “less crucial” dreams to the $’s of the interfering realities, some conspicuous coincidences seemed to pop up. I don’t know if the universe is trying to tell me something or what. I’ll let you decide.

Dream #1:

New mountain bike. Mine is from 1998 and when I take it out it gets me comments from other mountain bikers like “Wow. That’s retro.” Or, “I haven’t seen one like that in a long time.” It still works well enough. I don’t *need* a new bike. That’s why it’s a dream.

Cost: $1,900 out the door

Reality #1:

We need a new water heater in the house. There’s no telling how hot the shower water is going to be in the morning from day to day, and if it is hot it’s a safe bet it won’t last much longer than 15 minutes. If you’re the 2nd person to take a shower in the morning, good luck.

Cost for a new water heater: $1,900


Dream #2:

Vacation to Hawaii. It’s been too damn long. I need it so bad I can taste it. What I really need is two weeks, but I’ll take one if I can get it.

Cost for airfare and hotel to Waikiki for family of 5: $4,300

(Bonus Cost for production lost from me missing 3 days at work: $15-20,000)

Reality #2:

We’ve still got a balance on our home credit card after our last vacation. It would make things a little easier at home if we didn’t have to deal with that.

Cost to pay off the home credit card: $4,275


Dream #3:

Porsche Carrera. Don’t think I’ve given up on this one. I find the *perfect* one on Craigslist, or Cars.com every 3 or 4 months. Manual transmission, convertible (of course), perfect colors inside and out. It’s usually somewhere around a 2003 model with mileage anywhere from 35-85,000.

Cost: $30,000 +/-

Reality #3:

Thankfully we aren’t underwater on our house, but the housing bust was brutal on our equity. Mortgage rates have plummeted recently, but in order to refinance to a friendlier rate (on a jumbo-loan… welcome to California) we need to have a better loan-to-value ratio. Guess how much of our old loan we’d have to pay off in order to qualify for a re-fi.

Cost to refinance our mortgage to a way better rate: $30,000


Dream #4:

The home theater system. Now mind you, I’m not talking about the ULTIMATE home theater of my wildest fantasies. For that we’d need a full-on addition to the house. No, I’m talking about a home theater that UnDorkMommy might possibly be able to live with in the living room. I’m talking about a top-tier, high-def projector, a 100+ inch projection screen that retracts into an recess in the ceiling, and the 7.1 channel Bose/TXH surround sound system to go with it.

Cost for parts and installation: +/- $12,000

Reality #4:

The house needs new windows. We’ve got the same single-paned glass windows that were installed when the house was built in 1974. The house is an icebox in the winter and an oven in the summer. Both sliding glass doors to the backyard have broken their mountings and are now grinding metal-on-metal on their tracks. It takes a team of horses to open and close them. We recently had an appraisal for new windows throughout the house. Guess what the tab was going to be.

Cost for new windows for the house: +/- $12,000


Dream #5

Teaching at the dental school. I teach there because I love it, not for the $. In fact my 1-day-a-week gig there is essentially a volunteer position (technically it pays, but only enough for gas, lunch and parking in San Francisco). It keeps me current and the interaction with the students keep me stimulated and excited about what I do. When I committed to the school my office wasn’t busy enough to fill another full 10-hour day. We are now. So essentially every day I’m teaching I’m losing out on the potential production I could have been doing in the office.

Cost of teaching instead of working: 36 days/year @ $6,000 lost office production factoring in 65% overhead at the office: $75,600

Reality #5

Episode VI can’t live in the closet forever. His brother and sister both have their own bedrooms. We could certainly double them up if we need to, but it would be nice if they could all have their own rooms, and it would be nice if UnDorkMommy and I could have our own modern master bedroom. We actually had plans drawn up and investigated what it would cost to put the addition onto the house. Guess what the estimate was.

Cost to add a new master bedroom/bath onto the house: $70-80,000


Dream #6

Spaceship charter on Virgin Galactic. An exclusive space flight for me and 5 of my friends. Pioneer status on all 6 seats. 6 seats for the price of 5. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t do this if they had the chance?

Cost: $1,000,000

Reality #6

I graduated from dental school in 2005. The cost of a dental school education has only gone up since then. Students entering dental school for the class of 2016 can expect to graduate with upwards of $400,000 in debt… before they work a single day, before they buy a home or a practice of their own. The value of a moderate general dental practice on the market in California is roughly $600,000. Thankfully my numbers aren’t anywhere near those, and even so I’m nowhere near paying off my student and practice loans.

Cost of a top-tier dental education and a private practice of your own: $400K + $600K = $1,000,000


In each case the choice is clear, as is the fact that these quandries are purely first-world problems. I’m very happy with my life as it is, but still… dude’s gotta dream.

Tell me about some of the “less crucial” dreams you would indulge in if you didn’t have to be a responsible adult/parent.

-Dork Dad

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