Well, I discovered the solution to my problem, and since it's always very frustrating to be searching for a solution only to find posts that briefly state "I solved my problem" without including the solution, here's the solution to my issue.
I had first set up wheezy (2.6.x kernel) months ago and was using ATT DSL at the time, and I had also been using custom DNS servers with my DSL (set in /etc/dhcp
/dhclient.conf). More recently I moved to cable internet, upgraded to the 126.96.36.199 kernel and did a dist-upgrade, which is when I noticed the network "pausing". Now somewhere in my upgrading process dhcp3 had been installed so when I was looking at my "pausing" problem I discovered that my resolv.conf had custom DNS servers and I naturally checked /etc/dhcp3
/dhclient.conf. When I saw that there were no DNS servers listed I was stumped, until I looked at the dhclient.conf in /etc/dhcp
/. The custom servers were still listed there and removing them solved my problem.
I had assumed that since dhcp3 was installed that the dhclient.conf in the /etc/dhcp folder wasn't being used which led to a couple of hours of googling and my post here. Now I'm wondering if dhcp3 is being used at all.