Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell, For Now...

My wife has graciously granted me safe passage out of Texas for the next 4 days. Starting early (I hope) tomorrow morning I'll embark on 14 hours of driving from the pit of Tartarus, er, Dallas-Ft Worth, to the immeasurable openness and soul-restoring solitude of the great American Southwest.

I plan on hiking into Canyon de Chelly near Chinle AZ and taking some photos.

I've written some posts to auto-publish while I'm gone, and I'll try to update from the road. However, to put things in perspective, the nearest Starbucks to where I'll be staying is 200 miles away and in another state...

Anyway, Happy New Year everyone, and I'll be back around Sunday night.

30 Questions

Well, I lifted this from Amanda at Crazy Miracle Called Life. It looked fun, so here we go. Feel free to play along. :)

1. What's your full name?
Haha, not that easily you don't, Dr. Drofen Drofen, DC

2. Who are you named after?
My first name is a family name, my middle name is after my mother's brother.

3. What characteristics should your wife have?
Well, apparently living with me requires an inordinate amount of patience. Thank God she has an seemingly endless supply.

4. Do you believe in love of the first sight?
I'd like to think so. Not sure that I've experienced it.

5. Could you imagine a life without children?
Frankly, no. Becoming a parent changes you at your very core.

6. Who's the baby in the family when it comes to getting sick?
I'd have to say my wife. I really don't get sick very often.

7. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a child?
A nurse of course. :) I'll let you know if I ever do grow up.

8. What would be the worst thing that could happen to you?
One of my kids getting seriously ill I guess. I'm not sure, things have been pretty bad as it is lately, don't want to think about how it could get worse.

9. What is your profession?
If I felt like my profession wanted me, I probably wouldn't be trying to join another.

10. Are you an organized person?
Probably not as much as I need to be. But I have a pretty good memory, so that helps.

11. If you could go anywhere for vacation where would it be?
Europe.

12. If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
In the US, probably Colorado or Montana. But I'd certainly be open to moving to Scotland, or Austria, or Germany, or England...

13. What is your new years resolution for 2009?
To make it to 2010.

14. When are you most likely to lie?
I'd like to think when I'm protecting someone, but I try not to do it in general, it can be a really bad thing.

15. Whats your biggest fear?
That I will NEVER amount to anything.

16. Which characteristic do you despise in other people?
Intolerance, indecisiveness.

17. What's your worst feature?
Probably my weight right now, and my nose is a little bigger than I'd like, haha.

18. If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
I'd have been much more humble.

19. What do you think about Barack Obama?
I hope he lives up to the change he promises to bring.

20. How do you want to die?
Without hurting anyone else.

21. Which talent do you wish to have?
I wish I could dance really well.

22. What is your most precious possession?
Possession? Probably my camera. But there are things way more valuable to me than possessions.

23. Who are your favorite writers?
Oh gosh, too many to even list. I like anyone with a clear voice and a pleasant tone.

24. What is your favorite book?
Again, too many to choose from.

25. For what do you feel sadness?
The pain I've caused others.

26. Which living person do you admire?
My 2 y/o. She has an amazing outlook on life.

27. Which living person do you mostly detest?
The asses at my chiro college that overstated their case in an effort to convince me to give them money.

28. What is your favorite quote?
It's at the top of my blog. "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans."

29. What do you do to help the environment?
We recycle, and we are careful not to waste resources. We shop renewable sources. We are vegetarian--did you know that 18 vegetarians can eat for the same amount of resources that it takes to produce enough meat to feed one person?

30. Why do you do this survey?
Because I'm procrastinating.

Aquadoodle

One of the favorite Christmas gifts the 2 y/o received has been her Aquadoodle Draw 'N Doodle Mat. It's a pretty simple concept really. The felt tipped pen is filled with water, and then is used to draw 'n doodle on the mat. The mat is nothing more than thin white fabric stretched over a bright blue plastic background. The water causes the fabric to cling to the background and shows the bright blue through. The toy only uses a small enough amount of water that the 2 y/o couldn't possibly make a big mess with it, and the whole thing can be used over and over as the mat dries out.

Pretty ingenious. Maybe it's only because I'm a big dumb male, but I have to wonder if the whole concept wasn't conceived in the middle of a wet T-shirt contest!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Worst Gift....EVER.

So Mom In Scrubs has posted her Top 3 Worst Gifts of All Time which are pretty funny. So I thought about it and couldn't really come up with a really terrible gift I've received, although I'm sure I've gotten a few doozys.

However, what is acutely crystal clear in my mind is the worst gift that I've ever given. I can remember every lurid detail in frightening clarity to this very day.

Back when I was pursuing my first degree, (pre-med actually) I was working in the IV room of a children's hospital pharmacy. I was one of only a few boy pharm techs, and definitely the only one without severe social handicaps. The group of women that I worked with were--how can I put this diplomatically?--well, women. There was a distinct pecking order and everyone's business was well, everyone's business indeed. All community happenings were closely observed and cataloged for later discussion of gossip-worthiness and social merit.

For example, when one of them became pregnant with no husband in her repertoire, it was a red banner gossip treasure trove. Yet, lest you think these women unfriendly or uncaring, everyone brought in gifts for the pending baby. Except for me. A fact that was pointedly pointed out to me in a casual if not indelicate manner.

Now realize this was back when I was not the quintessential smooth gentleman I am today, so I left the present selection to my wife. (My FIRST wife--important distinction there.) And she did produce a gift for me to take in to work--in an appropriately cute gift bag to boot.

At my next shift when I set the gift bag on the counter, whispers spread like wildfire.

"A gift, a gift, he brought a gift."

And every female in the department was quickly assembled to play 'rate the gift'. With an awkward swallow and sweaty palms I handed the gift bag over as the expectant mutterings increased to a dull roar.

My coworker pulled out:

Item #1... A onesie...an obviously well worn and not so well laundered onesie in that famous shade of dingy used-to-be white.

Item #2... A bib...with an obvious stain down the front.

And,

Item #3... A book...with a lovely inscription to my daughter in the front cover, "With Love, Aunt Paige."

Mortified doesn't even begin to express.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Rite of Parenthood #2

The successful parent can discern between a monkey-stuffed-banana monkey and a pile of dog crap, even in the dim light of an LED night light.

What is a monkey-stuffed-banana monkey you ask?



Wise

Canon EOS 350D, Canon 24mm 2.8
4s f/16.0 at 24.0mm iso100

Lincoln Memorial at night.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Home

I've got to get out of Texas, if only for a little while.

Every moment longer I spend here a small part of my soul flares out into the quiet oblivion. I try and slow the loss with periodic exodus' from this barren land. I've been to explore places like Atlanta, Minneapolis, New York City, Washington DC, Vancouver BC, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles.

But the last time I was in my mountains, in the actual high country my heart calls home was over 4 years ago.

Where do you call home? Not where do you live, but what landscape do you feel breathe, and sigh, and rise to meet you when you return?

On Grooming

(PG-13 Warning--and waaaaaaay too much information.)

I suppose some would say that I am a lucky man to never have to worry about going bald. But the truth is, I'm just down right hairy. And unfortunately I don't just mean on my head.

My wife claims to like the grizzly type over the pubescent boy look, but still, it can get a little ridiculous. I generally try and keep things trimmed close, you know just in case. Like just in case my wife just has to have me on the dining room table, or maybe on the washer coming in from the garage while the groceries grow ripe in the back of the car. You know, like I saw in the "Welcome to the Married Life" orientation video I had to watch as a part of my premarital counseling... Ha!

Grooming habits in general are kind of weird. I mean how much pain are we willing to tolerate? I've had my eyebrows waxed, and I have to hand it to you ladies, that is pretty painful. And I can't even imagine what that must feel like on your nether regions. But, you can't truly speak of how badly it hurts to be beautiful until...

...you've caught the skin of your scrotum in a pair of electric clippers.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Program: 30 min brisk walking
Actual: 32 min brisk walking

Capitol

Canon EOS 350D, Canon 24mm 2.8
1/400s f/10.0 at 24.0mm iso100

The Big Bad Wolf...

...tried to blow my house down this morning. We had a line of thunderstorms come through this morning that was pretty ridiculous. I'm sure we lost some shingles as bad as the wind was blowing. Only now, after getting up and checking the weather, did I discover that we were under a tornado watch. It just shows to go that living in Tornado Alley means the potential for tornadoes is always present, even at the end of December. Lucky for us there were no tornadoes--if there had been one we would have been woefully unprepared--caught with my proverbial pants down.

My parents left yesterday and drove part way home. They stopped for the night in Amarillo before heading on to Santa Fe where my sister lives. Then my dad will take the new commuter train, (the RailRunner) down to the airport in Albuquerque to pick up his truck while my mom continues on. I hope they make it ok. It's been snowing off and on for the past two weeks in their part of the state. Some road conditions simply read, "Three feet of snow in the area, travel at own risk."

I think it was a good visit. My mom had come down early to help out with the baby like she did when the 2 y/o was born. This time around we needed much less help though. Last time I was still in school and gone 13 hrs every day, so my mom was a life-saver. This time I've been a bum around the house, so there wasn't much for her to do. She did help us by watching the girls while we took the baby to get the PKU newborn screen done at the hospital. That would have been even more of a whip if we'd had the girls with us. Anyway, I hope she thinks it was worth the effort to get here early.

I hope to get by Barnes & Noble today to actually pick up my Running for Mortals book--my parents got me a gift card. I was lucky enough to have read through the book previously so I was able to get a jump start on the program once I felt the urge. Speaking of that, I plan on another walk tonight. After I get into the running portion I'm thinking of adding this program. Looks interesting, and a blog friend or two is doing it. I think it might be a good way to ease into weight training. After I complete that program then I'll hit the weights at the gym. This way I won't look quite as wimpy on the free weights. Because Lord knows getting to the gym is more about how you look than getting healthy, right?

My wandering soul has been yearning to get out of town again. Before Christmas I had been tentatively planning a trip up the Yellowstone to shoot some pictures. I've never been there, and I've heard great things about seeing winter wildlife. But that's a full two days driving just to get there. So that's 4 days travel, and with spending a couple days at the park, that's almost a week gone--too much for my wife to handle with all the kids. So I'm thinking somewhere closer. I had thought about Canyon De Chelly in Arizona, it's about a 13 hr drive, so totally doable in one day when I'm by myself. Any other suggestions 900 miles or less from Dallas-Fort Worth TX? The general idea is to go somewhere relatively photogenic... Looking forward to your suggestions.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Rite Of Parenthood

A man knows he's become a parent when he can walk barefooted across the carpet, hit an unidentified cold wet spot, and not even flinch.

It's the warm wet spots that are worrisome.

Flattened By A Flat Screen?

An unfortunate circumstance that I've been hearing about more and more in the news is large televisions falling on young children. My wife has taken care of a few of these injuries at work, and they are NOT pretty. In fact they're pretty devastating. One family kept their toddler alive for months, even after the kid's brain herniated through the foramen magnum, forcing the ethics committee at her hospital to convene.

I think this may be a relatively new phenomenon because I really don't remember hearing of these types of injuries before. Probably it did happen, but it must be much more frequent now. I would hypothesize that as technology develops, TV's are getting bigger as larger screens are supported. At the same time they're getting thinner. Now all of this sounds great--stronger, faster, better, we have the technology. But unfortunately this also leads to televisions that have much narrower bases, and subsequently a much higher tipping hazard. And that's not even thinking about TV's hung on the standard substandard interior walls that are the staple of today's modern construction home.

This morning I was struck by another aspect of this phenomenon that I hadn't previously considered. The 2 y/o and I were watching PBS this morning, Super Why in fact. For those that are non-kidded, Super Why is an animated show that integrates reading, language, and letters into stories. This morning the characters where spelling words letter by letter from an alphabet graphic. As with most children's programming these days, the show was trying to be interactive and asked the audience where the letters were. Since she knows her alphabet(!!!) the 2 y/o trundled right up to the screen to point out the next letters needed. Now, we're not rich enough to own a flat screen and still own a hulk of a CRT TV, albeit more stable because it has a much larger base. However, it's easy in my mind's eye to see that these shows are enticing kids right up into the danger zone.

The solution seems pretty easy here. First of all, young kids should always be supervised, even when they're being babysat by the TV. Seems like a no-brainer, but every parent could always use a reminder (self included.) Secondly, installation of the provided wall tethers is essential. Thirdly, wall mounted TVs should be secure fixed into studs, assuming you can find one. Studs are easily located using a studfinder--they can be found at any hardware store and are relatively inexpensive. On a side note, we tried using one at our house, but it didn't work--too much interference I guess. (Wait for it, you'll get it, haha...)

As technology morphs our society, we need to keep up in our awareness of potential dangers as parents. We owe it to our children. Because a 52" flat screen is a really stupid way to die.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Category--Training Program

I got the book Running for Mortals for Christmas. I'm already starting on the weight loss training program.

Training Plan: 30min brisk walking.

Personal acheivment: 33min brisk walking.


I think the dog was more tired than I was. What a pair we make.

Merry Christmas

Canon EOS 350D, Canon 50mm 1.8
1/125s f/8.0 at 50.0mm iso1600

Here's hoping Santa hugged you and yours!!

Love to all,

Drofen Family

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Whole Other Kind Of Stoopid.

This evening found me at the local Walmart Neighborhood Market. If it wasn't toilet paper that we needed, you'd couldn't have paid me to step foot inside that place on Christmas Eve. My worst fears were confirmed when I walked through the doors, past the normally overflowing shopping cart stall and it was EMPTY.

After securing the Charmin Ultra Soft my wife likes, (that I hate because it balls up in my butt,) I headed to the Self Check, hoping to sneak out quickly.

Ha!

The lines for Self Check were backed up into the aisles. I found the shortest and settled in for a wait. Things were going smoothly until the mom and daughter in front of me stepped up to the checkstand. They didn't have much in their cart, so I was hopeful. Unfortunately it quickly became apparent they'd both eaten glue as children. Or maybe were both dropped on their heads. Or maybe they just came from bad stock. Regardless, I'll save you the painful details, save for this one incident.

Holding a bag of two lemons, daughter was completely baffled that they didn't have barcodes to scan. Mom swooped in to the rescue and showed her how to look up produce. Daughter actually found the picture of the lemons on the screen and pushed it. Since the lemons weren't sold by weight, a screen popped up asking, "Quantity?" with a keypad to enter the number.

Puzzled, daughter looks at the lemons blankly and discovers the produce code sticker, which she dutifully enters into the screen...

4013.

Four thousand and thirteen lemons at $0.50 each...well you see, lemonade for a small army can get expensive.

The overworked and saintly Walmart employee restores order and sends the dynamic duo on their way, and I overhear daughter say to mom, "Well, I didn't know what quantity meant!"

Christmas Eve Reflection

I'm a wonderfully blessed man, of this I am aware.

I continually thank God for all he has entrusted me with. I have a wife that has stood by my side during tough times. I have 3 beautiful children. We live in a comfortable home, and we don't worry about our safety or where the next meal might come from. This year we were blessed enough to give a small but significant amount of money to another family less fortunate to make their holidays a little easier.

I sit here thinking of all the plans we have laid. My mother is here, my father flies in this afternoon--it's the first Christmas we've spent with them in probably 5years. Probably this evening we'll attend a Christmas Eve service at our church which will no doubt be a spectacle of celebration. My wife's family will join us tomorrow morning for presents and a home cooked dinner. We'll have 17 people this year--not a full house, but a strong showing. These are good plans. Full of life, and love and happiness.

So why is there this feeling of melancholy, coursing just below the surface, subtle but definitely present?

It seems like the story of my life. Feeling what I shouldn't when I shouldn't. Fighting so hard for the things I indubitably want or need, and then when they are mine...it's not what I thought, or I was led on, or the battle damaged me so much I can't accept the prize.

Sometimes we're awarded a flash of what could be, a glimpse of how happy we might be. A distant time and place that beckons with exhilaration and enchantment. Who knows if these small looking glass windows are authentic, or would the scene be simply another make believe stage with puppets and string and cardboard when clutched closely to my chest?

The cost to get here has been enormous, and the debt is just the beginning. How many lives have I affected with my wallowing about in uncertainty? What pain have I caused? What discord have I generated? What relationships suffer because of me? I don't know the answer to all those questions, but knowing for certain wouldn't bring absolution.

They make little pills for this. Glorious orbs of even keel. Of moderated pain, dampened urges, and dazzling shades of beige and gray. Of heavenly rest and muffled cries. Maybe its time, I'm so very tired.

But for now, instead, I'll paint up the clown, and go find my stage.

Balloon animal anyone?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

That and This

Is it allowable to make 3 posts in one day? I've been home all day except for running to the meat market for our Christmas brisket.

1. I've been working on my HIPPA disclaimer in anticipation of nursing school. It's in the sidebar if you want to take a look. Be sure to tell me if I should add anything.

2. For dinner tonight I made vegetable quesadillas with tomatoes, orange bell pepper, diced onion, green tomatillo salsa, and monterey jack cheese. Except that I diced a little too much onion. But I decided, "what the hell, I'm not getting lucky tonight," and I like onion so I stuffed it in anyway. It was good. Of course I can probably peel paint with my breath, but who cares? It's kind of liberating.

3. My mother is in town, so she and the 9 y/o spent the day making cookies. They made poinsettia shaped cookies with dough turned red with jello, and made gingerbread men. They had a good time, but totally took over my kitchen. I had to kick them out so I could trim the brisket and get it marinating.

4. The 2 y/o's favorite game lately is Hide & Seek. Mostly she just loves the counting part. She hides her face and counts to 20(!!!) and then she's off to find whoever is playing with her. She's good at that part of it. Turn it around though and the concept gets a little shaky. If you hide your face and count so that she can go hide, she sits in the middle of the floor listening in delight as you count. Oh well. We'll work on the hiding thing.

5. My dad flies in tomorrow afternoon, and then there are Christmas Eve services at our church. Not sure if we'll go or not at this point. We just found out there will be no childcare of any kind, so all kids will be in service. And the service is expected to last 45 minutes. I'm pretty sure that's a perfect guarantee that the 2 y/o will make a guest appearance on the "Naughty List", so it just doesn't seem fair to subject her to that. We considered leaving my wife at home with the two younger kids, but that doesn't seem fair either.

6. I think I better stop at 5.

Not To Know Me Argues Yourselves Unknown

Here's a new twist on a meme I haven't seen before. Answer in the comment section if you want to play, and then post it on your blog and I'll come interview you/me.

Edit: Ok, I've edited it and cut it down some. Also, I've only just met most of you through this blog, so don't feel shy about answering them. It will be interesting to see what you say. :) BTW, credit for this idea goes to Danasaur, thank you! And a BIG thank you to DBS for actually commenting, LOL! And now, Hope2bRNhas joined the fun!

01. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it.
02. Describe what you think I might look like.
03. How long have you known me?
04. When and how did we first meet?

05. What was your first impression?
06. Do you still think that way about me now?
07. What do you think my biggest weakness is?
08. What would you cook for me if I came to dinner?
09. What makes me happy?
10. What makes me sad?
11. What reminds you of me?
12. If you could give me anything what would it be?
13. How well do you feel you know me?

14. Given one freebie question that I had to answer honestly, what would you ask?
15. Ever wanted to tell me something but felt like you couldn't?
16. Do you think I could kill someone?

17. Describe me in one word.
18. Do you think our friendship is getting stronger/weaker/or staying the same?
19. Do you feel that you could talk to me about anything and I would listen?
20. Are you going to put this on your blog and see what I say about you?

*Bonus Question: Who said the quote in the title? (Without Googling!!)

East & West

Canon EOS 350D, Canon 24mm 2.8
1/20s f/22.0 at 24.0mm iso100

I'm starting a series of images from a trip to Washington DC back in April of 2006. This image is one of my favorite from the trip just because of the cultural contrast. This is a Tibetan monk standing in front of the fountain in front of the US Capitol building. It doesn't get much more West and East than that. Incidentally this monk was a hoot. He didn't speak much English at all, but he sure was friendly.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Operation Grocery

Camo'd up and planned a sortie to the grocery store this afternoon.

After insertion an extremely large number of hostile unfriendlies were encountered and multiple evasive maneuvers were required. Particularly difficult to negotiate were the hardened targets in the produce department patrolled by aimless wandering shoppers muttering angrily under their breath. Also, motionless senior citizen shopping cart blockades were encountered at nearly every aisle. After all targets on the list were neutralized, the team proceeded to Checkout Alpha. Unfortunately timely mission completion was heavily delayed by excessive hostile traffic at Checkout Alpha. Ultimately, however, the mission was a success as the team returned to home base with all mission critical supplies.

Casualty Report: No fatalities, although several minor injuries were sustained due to hostile incursions with enemy shopping carts, and shrapnel from one ripe diaper. Recommend monitoring team for signs of severe mental distress due to the traumatic nature of grocery shopping near a major holiday.

In other news, baby Drofen was due for his second newborn screen/PKU so we got out in the 20* weather this morning. Why 5 blobs of blood on a test card needed to be done at the hospital outpatient lab is beyond me, but our pediatrician doesn't handle them in-office. The other thing I found kind of silly is that the lab told us the results would be back in 6 weeks. 6 weeks?!? If memory serves, PKU is a pretty serious disease that can damage the brain in DAYS if the phenylalanine levels are allowed to rise unchecked. What the hell good is a 6 week result? I also wish that they had a separate waiting area for newborn screens rather than lumping us in with every Tom, sick, and scary general population patient waiting in registration. Not to mention the lab was no less than 5 hallways and 6 turns away from the waiting area, all in all about a 5 minute walk. I got turned around, and I normally have a pretty good sense of direction. I know it seems like I complain a lot, but yeesh, some of this stuff just seems to be common sense to me?

On a final note, my wife wanted me to brag that baby Drofen was back to his birth weight at only 9 days old. Go boobie juice! :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Say what?

My wife's unit at work threw us a baby shower for Baby Drofen. It was mostly a diaper shower, and a few of her closer coworkers took a case or two of size 1 diapers, wrote graffiti on them with sharpies, and stuffed them into a basket for us. It was a really creative and fun gift.

Some of the things written on the diapers included, Warning: Toxic Waste, or P/U!, or Code Brown!, or Hold the Milk of Mag!, or This One's for You Daddy!

At our follow-up appointment on Friday with the pediatrician after our cardiologist appointment on Wednesday, the nurse of course asked us to strip him down to his diaper. As I'm taking off his onesie, I realize he's wearing one of the graffiti'd diapers...and I'm sure I turned beet red.

It said,

"Hung like a 5 y/o!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Click

Ever meet someone and you just hit it off? You finish each others thoughts and find yourself laughing together, content to just sit and talk. Call it chemistry, call it spark, call it energy. Whatever it is, you just click and you feel like you've known them forever. It happens.

I'm the kind of guy that doesn't have a lot of people that I call friends. I know many, many people and get along with lots of folks, but to call someone friend, I have very few of those.

In fact right now, honestly I only have two really good friends. These are the type of friends that you'd do anything for. The kind that could call at 3:30 in the morning and know you wouldn't be upset. These guys have got my back (for lack of more current terminology), and I definitely have theirs.

But the interesting thing is, neither one of them I just clicked with. I've known one for 7 years, the other for 5, and it's taken a long time to call them friends. It's been a deliberate process to cultivate the friendships, concientiously taking the time and energy to build and foster the relationship. Maybe that's why those friendships feel hot and cold at times. When we do hang out, it's all good. But sometimes we go weeks without getting together. One is a police officer who works a ton of extra jobs, and the other is a facilities manager at a church. So I get they both have jobs that keep them busy. And they both have wives, kids, families. But our friendships definitely cycle a lot. It's nice when the cycles are opposite, but sometimes they synchronize, and that makes for some lonely times.

I'm not sure that it matters though, if the relationship is easy or hard. Both ways are valid. Looking back my relationship with my wife didn't just click straight off either. In fact she's told me she didn't find me terribly good-looking the first few times I sat next to her in class. And I remember that I deliberately decided I wanted to know her and initiated conversation every time I saw her. Slowly over the course of a semester our relationship grew. Sometimes I wonder if I hadn't been so adamant about getting to know her if we'd have dated and gotten married. Does that have repercussions in our marriage? I'm guessing probably so, but I don't know what off hand.

Anyway, I recently clicked with someone and thinking about it I just found it curious that outside of my kids, of my 3 closest relationships none are that natural, instant kindred spirit feeling. That probably says something about my ability to relate to the world, but I'm too tired to explore that part of it right now.

True Love...

...is standing in the personal hygiene aisle at Whole Foods while relaying the chlorine free maxi pad options to your wife via cell phone and body checking the hordes of other woman shoppers to keep from being crowded out...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Card

Our Christmas card this year:From the Drofen family to all of you, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stuck

The clinical requirements for my school include rigorous documentation of immunizations for students. Unfortunately I was not able to locate my childhood shot record, leaving me in a tough position.

I've alluded to the fact that I'm against wanton immunization of the population. I believe immunizations are often ineffective, riddled with more risks than benefits, and downright dangerous in some instances. I had planned to write a post detailing my position. I got out all my primary research sources supporting my position. I was going to be intellectually eloquent. I was going to present you with factual information that you've probably never seen before. I was going to expose the myths and lies that the drug companies want you to believe so they can keep selling vaccines. I was going to explain the physiology and show why with our current environment, diets, and lifestyles, vaccinations are about the worst possible thing to force on our sympathetically overdriven bodies.

But then I took a step back. I realized that here I am, hat in hand, begging to be allowed into the nursing profession. At a time when my profession has little regard for my well-being and success, I'm asking you all to take me in, teach me to be a nurse, and then give me a job so that I can support my family. This is a last ditch effort for me, and I'm going to be arrogant and haughty? I don't think so. Maybe the person I was 5 years ago could be ok with being that way, but not anymore.

So, because you didn't ask, I'm going to spare you my personal beliefs and diatribes. I'll leave it as I have personal feelings about vaccines and I am having a hard time complying with the requirements.

This morning I travelled to the local Texas Department of Health office and got vaccinated. I don't have a primary care provider because I haven't needed one since I moved to Texas in 1994--I simply don't get ill enough to go to the doctor. The UTA Student Health clinic doesn't carry the MMR vaccine, so I had to find other options. I needed the Hep B, MMR, and TDaP. I've had two full 3 shot courses of Hep B and still show a negative titer, but I was told the CDC only says to keep administering the vaccine until a positive titer is obtained. My MMR titer was negative even though I had the 2 shot series as a child. And I haven't had a pertussis or tetanus/diptheria for more than 15 years.

My experience at the health dept was interesting. It was not unpleasant, but I do have two observations.

First, I was required to sign paperwork stating that I had been advised of the potential risks and complications of vaccines. I also had to sign a statement stating that I had been given the opportunity to ask questions, and that I was satisfied with the answers I received. Thirdly, I had to sign a statement stating that I had been given a copy of the state privacy practices and they were explained to my satisfaction. Unfortunately NONE of the above was true. It had not happened, and did not happen at any time during my visit. The clinic was not busy. They were not pressed for time. So much for informed consent. My guess is that it has something to do with the demographics of the population normally seen at that clinic. Unfortunately, that particular segment of the public is the MOST in need of informed consent. Disappointing, and probably illegal.

Secondly, the local WIC office shared a lobby with the public clinic. About half the people in the lobby were there to apply for or be counseled on WIC. I think WIC is a great program, and I'm positive it helps untold number of children to be fed. I like that WIC attempts to only provide healthful foods. My observation here was the number of people there to receive WIC that pulled up in Mercedes, BMW's and Acura's. I saw two each BMW's and Mercedes, and one Acura--all late model body styles. Interesting.

After being stuck, they wanted me to wait in the lobby for 15 minutes to be certain I didn't have a "serious reaction to one or more of the vaccines." What a serious reaction might look like, I'll never know. I wasn't counseled on that, or on any after care instructions for my vaccine sites.

I did get a very nice Bugs Bunny band-aid though.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Over the river and through the woods to the cardiologist we go...

During baby Drofen's assessment at the hospital the pediatrician and the nursery nurses both noted he had a systolic murmur. In our follow up appointment with our pediatrician on Monday, the murmur was still present. Our pediatrician was concerned (more than I was,) so he set us up with an appointment with the cardiologist. Our appointment was this morning, only two days later. I have to say it was interesting listening to the secretary answer the phone and tell people their first available appointment was at the end of January. Things that make you go hmm.

My wife has been a ganglion of raw nerves since Monday morning to say the least. I was doing pretty well, knowing full well that a systolic murmur probably meant some kind of VSD. Many VSD's spontaneously resolve themselves as baby gets older. I know. I had one. But my wife is a heart nurse at the PICU and regularly sees the absolute worst possible outcomes of a heart murmur. So I can't say that I blame her for being nervous.

Baby got an echo first, and as the tech is manipulating the wand around, all I can see on the screen is valves, and beating chambers everywhere, no sense of order. It was then that the fear ran through me, buzzing like an electrical charge, my worst fears racing to the front of my mind. Obviously my wife and I are familiar with the heart, but aren't experienced at seeing things on the ultrasound monitor, so it made it very frustrating. I could recognize all the anatomy as it flashed by, but couldn't diagnose anything.

Next up was the EKG, and the first lap around the track the tech ran the machine on 1/4 standard, so we got to repeat the whole thing. Meanwhile baby is getting hungry, and fussy. My wife is trying to feed him while changing rooms 3 times, EKG machines twice, trying to get automated BP's on upper and lower extremities, walk-ins by the doctor, the nurse, the sono tech, and the patient care tech while they all discussed how the machine got set on 1/4 standard... Chaos at best. Certainly not helping my frame of mind. Not to mention the office walls were so thin we could hear them discussing other patients and their circumstances from 3 exam rooms away. Talk about a bull in the HIPPA shop!

Finally the doc got to listen closely to baby's heart, and it confirmed his findings. Or rather, lack thereof. He could find no reason at all for the murmur. Everything was structurally sound. In fact he said that even only a few RBC's are squeezing through the foramen ovale which was adhering nicely, well ahead of schedule.

Even though I KNEW this was not a big deal, it was still good to hear a negative dx. My wife was visibly relieved. So, things were so good that we don't have to follow up with the cardiologist unless the murmur is still present at 6 months, or even a year.

Whew.

Soft


Canon EOS 40D, Canon 85mm 1.8
1/200s f/5.6 at 85.0mm iso320

One of the Christmas card 'rejects', it's just too pensive. But I really like the image anyway...

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Drofen Girls

Canon EOS 40D, Canon 85mm 1.8
1/200s f/5.6 at 85.0mm iso320

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holding Hands

Canon EOS 40D, Canon 85mm 1.8
1/125s f/2.5 at 85.0mm iso1600

Lil' big sis & baby brother holding hands.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Meme

From Tiffany:

1) What is your most favorite Christmas memory?

It would have to be our searches for Christmas trees when I was younger. I grew up in northern New Mexico at the foothills of the Rockies. Every year we would go down to the BLM office and buy our Christmas tree permit for $5.00. They'd give us a tag and a little map showing which of the management areas were open that year.

Christmas tree morning was an early start, usually up while it was still dark. Hot chocolate and coffee carefully poured piping hot into thermos'. Lunches packed--ham sandwiches on homemade rough bread, home grown carrot sticks and apples from the cellar, and home made fruit cake or divinity fudge. We'd gather the bow saw, some nylon rope and hit the road--some years in the family station wagon, some years in one of the old farm pickups.

It was usually very cold out, rarely would it get above freezing during the day. We'd travel deep onto public lands, up towards the mountains until we hit the yearly designated area. Almost always there was snow on the ground, and there were always fresh animal signs. We'd find a safe place to pull off the road, and then go tromping through the forest looking for the perfect tree.

I remember most the silence. The absolute blanket of stillness that lay over the landscape. Many people haven't ever heard absolute silence in the great wide spaces of the outdoors. The sounds of our foot falls on the snow were deafening. If you stopped, the absolute loudest sound would be the pounding of the blood in your ears... Usually we'd scare up a deer or two, countless jack rabbits and cotton tails. One year a bear, another family of raccoons.

The perfect tree was elusive. Although cedar trees tended to be fuller and often grew in that perfect Christmas tree shape, we favored the pinon trees. One whiff of the delicious pungent scent of a wild pinon tree, and you'd quickly agree I think. In 'captivity' with plenty of water pinons grow quickly, and they do smell great. But in the wild the trees are stressed from year to year--often not enough rain--and they grow much more slowly. The scent of these trees, ahh... Sweet and tangy enough to make your eyes water... The perfect tree has a single straight trunk--most in the wild are either double trunked or crooked. The perfect tree is not butted up against other bushes or trees or it will have a huge dent in the foliage. The perfect tree has a single peak on it, so that the Christmas star will have an obvious home. The perfect tree has full branches with plenty of needles. The perfect tree may, or may not have blooms or pinon nuts on it. The perfect tree harbors no small animals!

Once the perfect tree was found, it was a scramble to get it cut as low to the ground as possible while dodging the needles. Then gently up onto the luggage rack or in the back of the pickup to be tied down and tagged.

Maybe the excuse for the trip was the tree. But the reason for the trip was the family togetherness. We had a real tree every year that I remember until my second or third Christmas in college when I got home too late to go get the tree. My parents use a fake tree now, as do we. I guess that's more fashionable--I mean who wants to be caught cutting down a tree in these green days.

But I miss the family outing. I miss the trip. I miss the snow. I miss the smell. I miss the debates over which tree was more perfect. I miss the single minded purpose of a whole day spent as a family tromping around the outdoors.

2) Favorite Christmas movie?

Love Actually

3) What is your Christmas wish this year?

That our family be ok through everything we have faced and have yet to face...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Baby Pictures (Dial-Up Warning)

Here's a few of the images I've snapped. The first is right after being born. The rest are the next day when he meets his sisters for the first time. (And yes, the 2 y/o IS counting his toes to make sure they're all there.) As always, you can click the pics for a closer look.







On Birth

We just got home from the hospital a little while ago, and I have to say, we're all very glad to be home. I thought I'd take a minute and document the events of our son's birth, before the details go the way of the buffalo secondary to diaper induced amnesia.

My wife was having contractions all day on Wednesday, starting about 1100. They were regular (about 5 minutes apart), but short in duration (20-30 seconds), and pretty mild. I went and took my Nursing Concepts final at 1400, and was home by about 1630. The contractions were still regular, closer together (about 3 minutes apart), but they were still mild and short in duration. We were both convinced it was false labor.

About 1700 we went to Target as a family and shopped for Christmas gifts for a local family in need our small group has adopted for the holiday season. At Target, the contractions started to increase in intensity, and my wife was having a hard time concentrating on what we were doing while she was having one. After we got home, they continued to intensify, but we both thought that she was just getting impatient, and they were getting to her more.

About 1945 a friend came over to stay with my wife and the girls while I ran to BabysRUs to redeem a "member's only" coupon available to be used that day only, 8-11pm. I got a really cool double stroller we both liked for 20% off--we had set aside the coupon for that specifically. She had been doing ok, but when I got home at 2100, it's like she knew it was ok to let things progress because her contractions intensified in a major way. So, we call her mom to ask her to go ahead and make the 90 minute drive to our house so that she'd be available to watch the girls in case we needed to head to the hospital. By 2130 it's clear that we need to go, at least so we know where we stand. My wife hopes she's 2cm and I'm hopeful, but doubtful that she's that far along.

We call the midwife on duty on the way to the hospital (30 minute drive) and let her know we were on our way. 2200 we arrive and the place is hoppin. The check-in lady is in full offensive mode trying to delay our admission so she can get caught up, and terribly unhappy we were there at all. Meanwhile my wife's knees are buckling with every contraction. Our midwife happens to walk past the desk, sees us and the condition my wife is in, rescues us and takes us directly to the back. In the triage room wife gets changed, and lets me know that she will be getting an epidural afterall, even though that was not the plan. And I was inclined to agree with her, if she was in this much pain already at the very beginning of labor, it was going to be a long night without pain meds. The midwife comes in about 2245 and checks her--6cm, fully effaced, and progressing rapidly. My wife and I are in utter shock.

They stick us in a spare L&D room, and work to get an IV started and bolus run in so she can have the epidural. Second stick takes, but is positional. And SLOW. So they pressure cuffed the IV bag, and got probably 500ml's in before my wife's membranes rupture at 2300. My wife starts to get panicky, because we all know that means she's probably out of time for an epidural. Now we're waiting on the midwife because she's delivering another baby. The L&D nurse checks my wife again, and she's complete, save a little lip that easily deforms with finger pressure. The midwife is now stitching up her patient she just delivered, but my wife is INSISTENT that NOW is the time to push. The L&D nurses are in a panic because they don't want to catch the baby. It's all I can do to help keep my wife calm and dealing with the contractions.

At 2315 the midwife hits the door, walks into her gown, gloves, face shield. The nurses have flipped my wife to her back, prepped the end of the bed, and given my wife pushing instructions. The midwife sits down and my wife gives her first push. Good push, but a lot of yelling. Midwife says don't yell, focus your energy into your pelvis. Next contraction is already here, and she bears down. Baby is crowning, and wife continues bearing down. Head is delivered. 30 second break, midwife tries to suction, but no time. Contraction. Push again, and the shoulders are through. Then the rest of baby Drofen slips out of the darkness and into our world at 2320.

He's pinking up by the time they get him up on mom's chest, and he's getting toweled off. They clamp the cord, I cut it, and then he's under the warmer being assessed while the midwife is repairing my wife's 2nd degree midline perineal tear. Everything happened so fast that there aren't even stickers printed yet. So while the nurse is handwriting out stickers, I have several moments with baby alone under the warmer. Luckily I had my camera all set to go, and got some amazing pictures. Baby is totally calm, just looking around, taking it all in. Very little crying. In fact he didn't want to clear his lungs, but finally a few hours later they were clear. By the time he's 15 minutes old he's back on mom's chest, latched on, and feeding. Post partum was so busy that we didn't have a room and ended up staying the night in the delivery room. Worked out better though I think.

Everything happened so fast that no one even knew we had a birth plan in our chart. Things happened that we didn't want. Things didn't happen that we did want. But the whole thing was an amazing experience that we wouldn't trade for the world.

Now, our early morning transfer to post partum? Not so amazing. But that's a story for another post.

Four Foods Friday #1

So I thought I'd start following Four Foods Friday from By The Sea--should be a good time anyway.

1. Does your family usually eat meals in the kitchen or somewhere else?
We eat at the table in our eat-in kitchen. The table seats four, expands to 6 in emergencies, but there's really only room for a 4 top. Going to be interesting in a year or so when 5 of us will be squeezing around the table. We're trying to eat together as a family more. Lots of studies show that kids that eat dinner with their parents are at lower risk for many nasty things.

2. Who usually does the dishes in your house?
We use the dishwasher for as much as possible, but there's always stuff that doesn't fit, and someone has to load the dishwasher in the first place. Usually it's me, but lately my wife has been chipping in more. Which is awesome.

3. What’s your favorite small appliance or tool in the kitchen?
I'd have to say it's my breadmaker, or my vegetable steamer/rice cooker. Beyond bread, I make pizza crust dough in the bread maker. And the steamer gets used all the time. There are precious few better ways to prepare vegetables than lightly steaming them. No salt, no butter/oil/fat, maybe a twist of black pepper. Simply delicious.

4. Share a recipe for chili.
Chili's are a great way for vegetarians like my family to get protein. I rarely follow recipes, but here's a pretty good idea of what I do. I usually start with the generic 17 dry bean soup package. You got to soak those overnight, and then I go through and pick out the lima beans. Blech. Into the boiling soup pot with a cube of vegetable bullion, a clove of garlic, a few fresh jalapeno peppers diced, and a small onion diced. Next add ground cumin, ground red chili powder, and ground chipotle pepper. Salt to taste. Simmer for 4-6 hrs. Let cool. Refrigerate for 24 hrs. Reheat and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve over tortilla chips or crushed saltine crackers with grated cheddar and a dollop of sour cream for garnish. Be sure to check out the dietary fiber content on the dried beans package before you throw it away, you'll be amazed!

Thank you God...

...for 2am feedings. :)

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

4 Minutes Old

Canon EOS 40d, Sigma 24-60mm 2.8
1/250s f/2.8 at 46.0mm iso1600

Elven

Canon EOS 40D, Canon 85mm 1.8
1/100s f/5.6 at 85.0mm iso320

He's here!

8lbs 13oz, 21.5in. Got to the hospital at 22OO, dilated to 6, fully effaced. Born at 232O after pushing 3 times. My wife is superwoman.

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Sent from the Cingular network using Mobile Email

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Loose Odds (& Ends)

  • Took my last in-class final today in my nursing concepts class. The nursing school here is pretty cool in that they have the keys to your exams readily available in another room. So, you mark down your answers on another sheet, then hand in your test and visit the key room for instant gratification. It's really a good idea, you get to see not only your score, but also the entire question and what the correct answers are. The instructor is in the room also to explain the logic behind the questions. I did well--I'll keep my A.
  • I have an online final in pharmacology tomorrow. I'm pretty sure they're going to be recycled questions from the previous 8 (yes, EIGHT) lecture exams, so I'm not terribly worried. For now. I'll probably start freaking as it gets closer though...
  • I was all set to pull the trigger on my PDA phone from ATT for my PDA for nursing school. Until I happened to speak with an upperclassman nursing student. They informed me that we're not allowed to have a camera OR phone PDA. So I checked the requirements they listed in the admissions packet. No mention of those restrictions at all. Man, I would have been seriously hacked if I'd paid $450 for a new PDA phone and then wasn't allowed to use it. NOT cool.
  • Oh, and did I mention my wife has been contracting since about 1100 this morning. They're about 5 minutes 3 minutes apart and only about 30 seconds long, but they are intensifying. Thought you'd all like to know. :o)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa's Little Helper

Canon 40D, Canon 85mm 1.8
1/125s f/5.6 at 85.0mm iso320

One of the pictures for our Christmas card, this is the 2 y/o.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baby Watch 12/8/08

We had a midwife appointment this afternoon, and all is well. The office scales continue to be funky, and my wife supposedly gained 6 pounds in a week. Our home scale which has been consistent throughout puts the weight gain at more like 2 pounds. Since they can't get their scales calibrated, my wife is rewarded with doing yet another 24 hr urine catch. At least this time she'll just go to the lab very near our house since the intake nurse is too chicken to draw blood from my wife.

The midwife also checked her today and said she could get a finger-tip into the cervix, but that's it. My wife was pretty disappointed, which I expected. I do know that normally her cervix is really low, and easy to find. Lately though I haven't been able to even reach it, and the midwife had trouble as well today. So baby Drofen has lots of room to drop yet. Our sonogram was 2 1/2 weeks ago, and he measured 6.5 lbs at that time, so that puts him nearing 8 lbs following the 1/2 lb a week rule.

Work-wise, my wife picked up a few hours last night for a coworker. She had been contemplating working this coming Wednesday, but I'm not sure it's worth it--not much money more, and doesn't gain us anymore FMLA on the back end. So she may be done working since she's worked all the shifts she was scheduled for.

She's starting to get uncomfortable, her pubic symphysis is achy. She got her first stretch mark, not on her belly, but on hip, one on each side. Her back was bothering her earlier, but I took care of that.

We started the discussion about how long past her due date we want to go before we want to allow them to intervene. We're both pretty adamant that we don't want an induction. We're also both comfortable with a week past her date, but the problem is that she's due on the 19th. A week past the 19th puts us interfering with the holidays, so we're not sure how that would play out. But we'll cross that bridge when/if we come to it.

Welp, that's the update for today. Stay tuned for the fireworks.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Joy

After church we were walking out to remote parking. Remote parking because our church has 10,000 members. Walking because stroller + shuttle bus = more trouble than it's worth. Regardless, I was bah-humbugging along in my usual frame of mind, worrying over everything I have to do, what I was going to fix for lunch, how I was going to get the 2 y/o in bed for a nap after she'd already crossed the delirium threshold. The steady thumping of my foot falls interweaving with the stroller bumping over the sidewalk cracks laid down the perfect rhythm track for the bitch-rap session in my head. The breeze was picking up and the dried leaves were scratching their way across the sidewalk in front of us.

Suddenly I became aware of another sound as it intruded into my thoughts.

**giggle**

**giggle giggle**

**giggle giggle giggle**

The 2 y/o was giggling up a storm at the leaves scrabbling across the sidewalk. So I stopped and let her loose from the stroller. She immediately started chasing the leaves, trying to stomp on them to hear that satisfying crunch. All the while she was laughing the babbling brook laugh of the young.

What a beautiful sound.

The sound of absolute pure unfettered joy--it hangs in the air like honeysuckle on a late spring evening. It peals in dulcet jelly-bean bell tones echoing across the valley of imagination and innocence.

How can anyone have any care in the world in the presence of such a sound?

I believe it's called perspective.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Baby Watch 12/6/2008

A lot of people are asking, so I thought I'd update.

Mrs. Drofen is doing really well. She's even agreed to hold of actively trying to send herself into labor until my finals are done. She works her last shift tonight, but may pick up a few hours for a friend so they can attend a Christmas party tomorrow night. Last BP was 102/62, so we're doing great in that dept. We turned in another 24 hr catch on Monday this week and haven't heard back, so that can only be good news.

Baby Drofen's room is fully painted. Waiting for it to dry so I can pull the masking tape down. Then a thorough cleaning, and furniture set up. Dang. I was thinking I was almost done.

That's the update, back to you Bob.

Sticker Shock

So I mentioned my admissions packet for nursing school came a few days ago. I finally sat down and worked on it in earnest on Thursday night since classes are now over, and all of my finals aren't until the latter part of next week. I'm thankful that it wasn't as bad as it seemed. Once I got a handle on things and took care of what I could right then, it made the to do list much more manageable.

I have to be CPR certified, and I registered for a class put on by our local nursing student association. Still waiting on paypal info though.

Of course my immunizations have to be up to date. And that's a real issue, since I have a philosophical objection to vaccines--that's a whole other post sometime, but suffice it to say I've done my research. Top that off with the fact that I can't find my shot record ANYWHERE. Crap. I have to have a TB test also, so I headed to Student Health Services yesterday morning. After explaining to 4 different people that I didn't want to be vaccinated, I just wanted titers drawn, (and explaining why, and then being treated to the same mindless drivel as to why I was wrong,) I was starting to get crabby. Topped my morning off with a UA drug screen, and I totally dripped on my shoe. Then comes the blood draw--it's a student nurse that will be doing the draw--and she's completely terrified. But I have hoses for veins that even a 3 year old could tap with a pair of rusty scissors. Even so, she did a great job--heck of a lot better than the last 'pro' that poked me when I gave blood. Finished off with an awesome TB welt, and then I got to pay for the privilege. $152--thank goodness for HSA's.

We also are required to have a PDA. That suits me just fine, I've been jonesing for one anyway. So I look up my eligibility for an upgrade with our wireless company. Awesome news. I'll be eligible for the discounted 2 yr contract price almost exactly a month after I start classes. I need to talk with someone to find out if we need the thing for the first month or not. Because the price difference between 2yr contract and straight-up retail? $350. The only PDA phone with all the requirements for nursing school with my provider is $449 retail.

We're also required to buy a nursing kit, which is made up of??? Apparently top secret. But they are happy to tell us the one company that will be providing this for us...did I mention $96.50?

Also included was the booklist for the first semester. There is a convenient package deal from an outside company. Too bad it's all or nothing with the package, so no comparison shopping there. All for the bargain price of $956.12. No I didn't put the decimal in the wrong place or mistype.

School is expensive enough since tuition has gone up every single year since I've graduated high school. And in Texas, we have this cool stuff called designated tuition. Each school of study gets to decide how much they want to charge per credit hour, and then they just arbitrarily raise tuition to that. It's billed separately as "designated tuition." So tuition and designated tuition and fees for the first 13 hr semester is north of $5000.00.

And it will probably go up next year.

My head hurts.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Toxic Relationship

What's your relationship with food? Why do you eat? Nutrition? Comfort? Because you have to? Because you like to cook? To celebrate? Stress?

I wish I could say that I eat for nutrition purposes only. But if I'm frank with myself, that really isn't the case.

Much of the research I've read shows that you gain your attitude toward food early in life. My mother didn't finish college (she wanted to be a nurse incidentally,) because she married my father. Academics wasn't ever her strong suit, she has to work hard at things like that. But the woman had some serious common sense, and as they say, common sense isn't so common. To this day I'm still discovering things that she knew instinctively that have been now confirmed by scientific research. MSG? The anti-christ in our house. The same with aspartame. High fructose corn syrup? The devil. (And yes, even despite the latest high dollar ad campaign, high fructose corn syrup is still bad.) My mom restricted our red meat intake, used real butter instead of margarine, limited our empty calorie intake, forced whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fast food was a twice a year treat.

We had a huge vegetable garden and an orchard out back. No pesticides, no fertilizers. My mom was the queen of canning too. She'd can fruit's and vegetables all summer long. At the end of the summer in our 8' by 10' pantry in the basement, the shelves would be full of quart jars, floor to ceiling. Not to mention the freezer.

Growing up on a farm, my activity level was naturally high. There were always chores to be done. My summer days were spent tossing hay bales and shovel irrigating. Not to mention 600 acres for a boy to stretch his legs...

For all intents and purposes, my food and exercise backgrounds have a fine pedigree.

For the most part our family's diet is the same. We're vegetarian except for eggs, a little cheese, and some fish once a week. My youngest has never tasted meat other than fish. I buy organic, use whole grains, make things from scratch whenever I can. We don't eat artificial sweeteners, MSG, or high fructose corn syrup. A vegetable and salad is served with every meal. Seconds start with more salad, then more main dish if still hungry. We only drink water.

But.

There are days like yesterday. I set myself up for disaster. I rushed out of the house without eating breakfast. Or lunch. By the time I was done with class, I was literally shaking from hunger. And then all the stress of everything that's going on right now hit me--baby, $250,000 in student loans, nursing school, finals, marriage, money... When I stopped off at McDonald's, it was for a quick snack. I came away with 3 double quarter pounders with cheese, a large fry, and a large Sprite. And I wolfed down every bit of it, I don't think I could have stopped myself if I'd even tried. Based on the McDonald's nutrition info on their website, that's 3030 calories. And more than 150 grams of fat.

I have dreams about food occasionally too. It usually takes place in a public setting, with a buffet style food setup. Usually I find myself filling my plate, but eating as fast as I can at the same time because I'm afraid I won't get enough if I wait to eat what I've got on my plate and then come back...

I'm as much as 80 pounds overweight, depending on which chart you read. I don't look it, at least not that bad. Now, I do have a large frame, broad shoulders etc, so my 'ideal' weight for my height I could never reach--my summers spent working for the USFS I humped a 50lb pack at 10,000ft and above for 4 months, and was still 10 pounds over my ideal weight with ribs standing out.

The psychological aspect of this really scares me. I hate not being in control. I'm really not sure how to go about addressing this problem. I mean 98% of the time I'm a normal functioning adult, with no issues.

But that 2% of the time, I can't control myself, and totally binge. My biggest fear is that behavior will spread to other aspects of my life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stick 'Em Up

I'm supposed to be studying for my A&P exam tomorrow, so a bulleted post will have to do.

  • Wife is good. Her blood pressure has been rock steady ever since she was cleared to go back to work. Baby Drofen is so ready to be here, I swear we hear an egg timer chiming if you listen in just the right place on her belly...
  • Our last midwife visit went very well. Now that the intake nurse's head cold has passed, my wife's BP is normal again--coincidence? I think not! Oh, and supposedly my wife lost 3 pounds from the previous visit. So she insisted she be weighed on the other scale in the office. She miraculously gained 4 pounds during the walk from one exam room to the other. So much for calibrated scales and objective data...
  • My wife and I got a babysitter last night and went on a date. We were supposed to go to her work Christmas party, but when I found out the only reason we were going is because she was not working, I nixed that crap in exchange for a nice quiet evening. We went to a Mexican/Salvadorian restaurant for dinner (with EXCELLENT service!) and then did a little Christmas shopping. And I was later handsomely rewarded for spending some couple time with my wife. :)
  • Wrapped up my A's in 3 of 4 classes with a group project turned in today. I would have to seriously fark up my finals to screw up my 4.0 at this point. The 4th class is A&P and I have 26 points to give on the exam tomorrow and I'll still have an A, which means I'll be exempt from the final.
  • Got my admissions packet for nursing school this past Friday. Holy crap I have a lot to do before Dec 19th!!

Back with more regular posting soon!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter Roses

Canon EOS 40D, Canon 70-200mm 2.8L
2" f/8.0 at 200.0mm iso200

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blossom

Canon EOS 40D, Canon 70-200mm 2.8L
1/200s f/11.0 at 200.0mm iso640

From a planter on our front porch.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Calling All Night Nurses

For those of you that work the night shift, share with us your strategy for getting a full night's sleep the next day. Do you go to sleep immediately when you get home and then wake up with a few hours before your next shift? Or do you stay up a few hours after getting home, then wake up right before your next shift? Do you block out all the light? Do you use any type of white noise? Ear plugs?

My wife comes home and gets ready for bed immediately. Sometimes she could stay up a couple hours, but most mornings she's pretty worthless by the time she gets into her PJ's and brushes her teeth. Then she gets up about 1530 and spends a few hours with the fam. We have heavy felt curtains for the windows in our bedroom, and she uses a oscillating fan for white noise. Most days she's sleeps pretty well. Sometimes not so much.

How about you?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bear & A Window

Canon EOS 350D, Canon 24mm 2.8
1/50s f/7.1 at 24.0mm iso100

Santa Fe, NM

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

My wife worked last night, so she's sleeping right now. I've been tip-toeing around the kitchen putting together a small Thanksgiving meal for when she wakes up. The 9 y/o is at her mom's house this Thanksgiving. But that's ok, that means she'll be with us for Christmas. The 2 y/o is happily clattering around the living room watching PBS and putting her baby dolls to bed. It's a good morning.

I'm thankful for all you bloggers out there that have made me feel welcome in the short 2 months life of this blog. It feels good to be read.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Busted. Big time.

I had a Nursing Concepts test today, and it went pretty well, so I rewarded myself with a Starbucks Chai Tea Frappuccino on the way home. I figured that the 2 y/o was napping and so was my wife because she went to work this evening (yay!), so I just sat down inside and enjoyed my drink.

Looking out the window, I just sat and enjoyed watching life unfold while I sipped my 'hand-crafted beverage'. There was flock of chickadees and sparrows battling over the choicest morsels on the sidewalk in front of me. Traffic was spasmodic in the road in front of me because a Firestone company pickup had broken down in the left turn lane creating a bottleneck. (I have to say, it's the ultimate FAIL to be sitting in a broken down pickup splashed with advertisements exhorting the benefits of preventative automotive maintenance, HAHA) Kids were scurrying around the playground at the daycare across the way.

And then I saw them. Four young black males, walking up the sidewalk. Hats pulled low, crotch bottom pants even lower, and black hoodies in the upright and locked position. My first thought was, "Dang, those guys are up to no good at all."

And so I watched them. I watched as they jay-walked across traffic to the median, causing people to slow down to keep from hitting them.

Yep, up to no good.

And I watched them. I watched as they walked up to the broken down truck, and spoke with the two female Firestone employees sitting inside. Then they all four got behind the pickup, and when the light turned green, they pushed it through the intersection to safety.

Busted.

Just when I was sitting there so smug with my new-found cultural sensitivity, and I totally blew it. You see, I've been working so hard to learn about other cultures and to be more accepting of people in general.

FAIL.

It's hard for me to admit what happened today, and I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion over it. My one request is that it be kept respectful to all those involved.

PIH, or not...

We had a follow up visit this morning. She'd lost weight from the previous reading after the miraculous 7 lbs in 3 days weight gain. BP was 102/94... I have never seen a pulse pressure that narrow before--if I got a reading like that I'd have taken it again, but no, she was just happy to record it in the chart. *sigh* That's when we whipped out our home BP logs and handed them over. She made a copy and stuck them in the chart.

The midwife wasn't in the office, but the overseeing MD was, so we visited with him. Turns out he's the guy that caught our 2 y/o, pretty cool 'coincidence'. He looked through her chart, and looked over the labs. 24hr urine was negative. Creatinine clearance was just fine, as were all other labs. He took her BP himself, and of course it was elevated because she was worked up over the whole situation. But he said, "Ah, you're completely normal. We just make you nervous in here."

He wrote a note clearing her to return work, but to restrict her work schedule to two shifts a week. All this with the caveat that we're to monitor her BP and if it shows signs of going over 130 systolically (haha, is that a word?), and 85 diastolically, she's to limit her activity and catch the next available appointment.

All in all I think it's a reasonable solution. Allowing my wife back to work puts the control back in her hands, but gives us good guidelines to monitor too. It also buys us another 2 weeks of FMLA post partum for mommy time, which can only be a good thing.

I just want to say thank you to all of you that have commented and generally cared about Mrs. Drofen and Baby Boy Drofen. It's greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PIH Update

My wife delivered her 24hr specimen to the midwife's office yesterday. We decided she would go by herself rather than all of us go--including the 2 y/o teething her 2 y/o molars at the moment.

Her BP was elevated again, and was back to normal after resting for a few minutes. More alarming though was the fact that she had gained 7 lbs since Friday. There was no midwife in the office yesterday, so we have yet another appointment on Wednesday where I can only hope we can stave off admission. One note of good news is her UA dipstick showed no protein again, we'll see what the 24hr catch shows.

It's been very frustrating actually. My wife has been keeping meticulous records, (she IS a nurse after all.) Our scale at home has never varied from the office scale by more than 1 lb in the past. Yet when she got home yesterday, our scale read 4 lbs lighter than the office scale. Her wedding rings still fit. Her ankles aren't swollen, she has no evidence of edema anywhere. If someone had gained 7 lbs in 3 days, shouldn't there be at least some sign of water retention? Because even with a baby growing, it would certainly be difficult to gain that much weight that quickly anabolically.

I also took her BP immediately after she got home. She had been driving for 20 minutes, and picked up the 2 y/o on her arrival home--yet her blood pressure was totally normal--120's over 60's. I'm pretty comfortable taking BP's, it was a required element of our exams at school, so I've done it hundreds if not thousands of times...

The clinical picture we see at home is not what is showing up in the office. I don't understand why that is. And I'm afraid we're going to end up admitted which will for SURE get her stress level up, her BP up, our risk for many, many things up... I feel like we're on the apex of a slippery slope, one small slip and we'll set in motion the American intervention nightmare birth. And the worst part about it is those professionals that we selected to help us navigate this fine line between safety and a completely natural birth, instead of steadying us, are tugging and pushing at us trying to knock us off balance, or so it feels.

I have never doubted that I would always put my family's health foremost in our healthcare decision making. From my independent reading and research during chiro school I developed a serious sense of mistrust of the medical profession as a whole. I think a healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing. And I honestly think that in an emergency situation, there would be no hesitation on my part. But this experience with the midwives office has only strengthened my mistrust. It just feels like they are trying to funnel us into the baby mill machinery, which is exactly what we wanted to avoid.

But, is their scale off? I don't know, I didn't see her zero it. Are the intake nurse's BP readings really that inaccurate? I don't know, she was getting ridiculously low readings in the past, and no one has independently verified her readings... Even my wife who is notoriously willing to accept what she's told in a medical office without question, is telling me that in her gut she doesn't think she gained that much weight.

It's just a very scary thing, because this clinical picture they've assembled could very well get us admitted.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gazebo

Canon EOS 40D, Canon 24mm 2.8
2s f/8.0 at 24.0mm iso200

Took this at twilight in the town center park in small town Tennessee.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Progress

Today was a good day--I made good steady progress on several projects.

Started the day at church this morning and today was the day to turn in our plastic bins with our Operation Christmas Child gifts. It was really kind of heartwarming to see the gargantunormous pile of bins waiting to go abroad. Our senior pastor is in the Holy Land right now with a small group of church members, so the sermon today was given by our missions pastor, who also just happens the father of a newly adopted Chinese son. He told the congregation about their journey to adopt, and challenged those that might be considering adopting to move forward.
This couple isn't the first of our friends to adopt from overseas. Another couple friend adopted a little girl from Taiwan.
I can't say I haven't thought long and hard about adopting. It's been on my mind, well, most of my life since I am adopted myself. My wife isn't nearly as excited about the thought as I am. I think she worries that despite her best efforts she will an adopted child differently. It's a valid worry I think, but probably an unfounded one. I know her capacity for love is much greater than she thinks.

After church my wife fixed lunch for us, a nice thing to come home to. (She stayed home because technically she's on bedrest.) Then I finally got to assemble my latest gun project after about 3 weeks painting and curing all the parts. For those that know, (or care,) it's a Howa 1500 in .308 Win in a Bell & Carson stock. For optics I chose an IOR 3-18x42 FFP MLR reticle. Anyway, here she is.



After putting my rifle together, I shifted gears and worked on the nursery. Last weekend I got the chair rail hung, and the wall beneath the chair rail painted. This afternoon I managed to get the crown moulding hung, and caulked into place. Hanging the moulding went surprising well. Crown is notoriously complicated because of all the compound angles involved, but this afternoon went really very well. In fact I didn't have any gaps that the caulk couldn't take care of. When I'm finished I'll take pictures of all the kids bedrooms and share.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Radio Blackout Update

For those of you on the edge of your seat (ha!) wondering about our travels around the dark side of the moon, we now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this breaking news.

I've told my wife where this blog is located before, and I certainly wasn't trying to keep anything secret from her, but I wasn't sure whether or not she actually read it regularly. Well, after the radio blackout post, if she wasn't regularly reading before, she is now! Which is all well and good for me, (hi sweetie!*wave*)

One might think that after my very public, (albeit relatively anonymous,) airing of our, eh, technical difficulties, we'd have had a long heart-to-heart talk about all our marital challenges, and then fallen to the floor like rabbits making up for lost time. But that didn't happen. In fact the conversation went a little something like this:

Wife: "I read your blog."

Drofen: "Oh....yeah?"

Wife: "Yep."

Drofen: "...."

Wife: "So, what time did the 2 y/o go down last night?"

As you can see, nothing earth-shattering. But what has happened is much, much better. Instead, I've noticed a distinct increase in, and more creative, ah...radio-antenna maintenance programs. Heck, we even managed to slip in (haha) a transmission with ground control, even though we're around the dark side of the moon. Let me tell you, it was good to hear from mission control...

All in all, marriage...er, space travel is still hard work, but let's just say the flight crew is much happier right now...

(Thank you sweetie!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

36 Weeks--Temporary Bedrest

Well, our midwife appointment started ok this morning, but then went straight down the tubes.

We started off in the sono suite getting our long awaited critical sonogram which showed that...the placenta is "well away from the cervix" and did not pose a problem. Interesting--much like we've been telling our midwife all along, but I digress.

We then walked across the street to the midwife's office, and I could feel my wife getting more and more anxious. There had been some discussion about wanting to do a pap smear at this visit, even though we'd expressed multiple times it wasn't something we were comfortable with. Especially since she had one only a year ago, and completely normal. She was nervous because they are usually pretty uncomfortable for her, not to mention she was probably tying herself in knots for the verbal fireworks that were sure to come.

Add into the mix that our babysitter had to cancel at the very last moment with sick kiddos, so our 2 y/o was along, and she was robustly expressing her...well, 2-ness.

Anyway the intake nurse took my wife's vitals, and of course her blood pressure was 128/90. The midwife on rotation came in, took GBS samples, and luckily she was of the opinion there was absolutely no reason to do a pap smear (did I mention I like this particular midwife?) Then we talked things through. She was willing to let us go home if we took a second BP and it was within an acceptable range. So she gave us a few minutes for my wife to relax and lay down. I managed to calm the 2 y/o to a mild simmer. I gave my wife a cervical adjustment (good for a 10-15mmHg drop, instantaneously. I know, that's cheating...)

After about 10 minutes the second BP came back at 100/76. Whew. The last thing we needed was an admission at this point.

We didn't escape unscathed though. The midwife put my wife on temporary bed rest pending the results of a 24 urine catch we start on Sunday morning. We're trying to have my wife work as long as possible because FMLA is only 12 weeks, and we'd sure like the vast majority of those 12 short weeks to be on the back end--post partum! Each weekend she can be on the schedule at work buys us another whole week...

Anyway, send good thoughts our way if you don't mind!

Golden Gate

Canon Rebel G2, Tanquaray 28-90mm
FujiFilm 200 Not sure on the camera settings.

Took this on the trip to San Francisco during which I proposed to my wife.

TINTINTS

"Oh thank goodness, it [poop] only got on the leather..."

Heard recently during a "code brown" in the car...

See more funny TINTINTS moments at Mom-in-Scrubs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I KNEW it.

Too much fun. Grabbed this from Mom In Scrubs

Pure Nerd
83 % Nerd, 26% Geek, 30% Dork



For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

Congratulations!

Find Out For Yourself: Nerd, Geek, Dork Test

By the way, I totally noticed that the percentages don't add up to 100%. Does that make me a Nerd, Geek, or Dork??

Post Secret

I'm sure there's not many of you that don't know of the famous Post Secret blog. The premise is simple, one creates a postcard revealing the deepest secrets that couldn't possibly be shared with people already known, and then mails them to the creator of Post Secret. Each Sunday he selects several and posts them to the blog. It's been fascinating to watch this phenomenon grow like wildfire. I've been following the blog for about 2 years now, and the it's grown to be HUGE. There are multiple Post Secret books published and there are regular nationwide Post Secret events. Most recently Post Secret has hit Myspace, but with a twist.

While the Post Secret Myspace blog shows 6 different secrets than the main blog, that isn't what's made it such a huge hit. Instead, viewers are encouraged to leave their cell phone numbers in the comment sections, and people are texting their secrets back and forth with total strangers. It's created a huge buzz, some good, some bad. Myspace is freaking out wondering what their liability is if someone gets hurt as a result of posting their personal info for the world to see. Most are astounded at the depth of honesty and community the act of confessing secrets to a total stranger creates.

I'm an adventurous guy, so I did it. I posted my cell number. And I've been texted by several different people. And in two of the cases, a running conversation resulted that I think was therapeutic for both parties involved. It's been an interesting experience for sure.

I'll probably do it again.

And because I know you're dying to check it out: Post Secret on Myspace.