Saturday, December 27, 2008

Its a mixed up amazing life and a MUni to boot




































 Wonderful, bizarre, heartbreaking, fulfilling, enlivening, beautiful, satisfying, disappointing, peaceful, stressful, unsure, secure, fun, happy... yeah, I think that pretty much sums up the holiday season for me.  It all began with exams...those works of wonder conjured up by the state to give a uniform standard of measure no matter what the cost - emotionally, academically, or financially.  And once again I got to watch students who know the subject well enough fail because they don't read/comprehend multiple choice questions real well.  And by fail, I mean that they pass the class and the exam but they don't score quite high enough on the exam to be given credit.  So they don't fail, but they do.  The system is bizarre and hurtful.  Oh, and did I mention that its kind of a ju-ju as to how the test is graded.  Some questions don't count, but no one knows which ones those are.  Its all a mystery wrapped in an enigma, balled up in a piece of toilet paper.  Its frustrating.  At the same token, there are plenty of students who don't know the subject well enough but are really good at multiple choice.  They always do fine.  After all, passing can be as low as the single digit percentile rank some years.  OK, must move on.  Christmas was really nice.  Kathy came up a day early and just as she was getting here a quick rain sprinkled over the area turning the cold roads to ice.  I picked her up at Valle Crucis and we crept back to the house.  Christmas ended up being a bit excessive.   And we really tried to tone it down.  Grandparents don't help at all here.  All I can say is that we got more than we deserve.  We bought one big gift for each person and did the same for Heifer International.  Ash got a sewing machine, the kids got a nice table and chairs, Zoe got a great handmade doll, Adia got a nice toy piano, and I got the gift of gifts.... the mountain Unicycle...MUni for the uninitiated.   So I guess I win.  I feel like Ralphie on "A Christmas Story"...  "I want an orange Nimbus 24 inch MUnicycle with a leopard 3 inch tire and Kris Holm cranks"  Ah, if it only had a compass in the stock.  I fighting off the urge to go outside to look at it right now.   Yes, I do have issues.  Some unicycling is coming back to me, however... like weakness and pain -  I forgot how unicycling brings out those feelings - but it will be a long time before I venture on a trail.  It does fill a needed place in my life however.  I'm not training for anything, I will soon have no time (after the baby is born) - so I needed something that could really work me over that I could do in my backyard or while walking with the kids... and the MUni has the added benefit of being dangerous... and wicked cool!  Score.  Now if I could only get over this soreness...
I tried to get out to Damascus the day after christmas with the kids, but had a break issue show up again after a hiatus - it must be dragging caliper or something.  We let it cool off in Mountain City and played in a graveyard...well, near a graveyard.   And then on the way back spent some fun time at the Old Mabel School.  It was so warm, Zoe and Adia both got in the creek...briefly.  I got a short bike ride in in the wonderful weather as well.  Then today Kelli and Gray came up for a visit.  They brought Teri's kids rabbit for us to keep.  We promised we'd try not to kill this one.  Although it is quite stout and I joked about frying or stewing.  Kidding.  I took Gray and Zoe to Grandfather mountain (dollar days!) and we got a bit muddy on the trails but had a really wonderful time.  The picture up there is after we were catching in our mouths drops of water dripping of a cliff.    I, in my infinite biological knowledge, took them to the bear enclosure and it never crossed my mind that it was winter and that bears tend to do a lot of sleeping in the winter.  In my defense, it was pretty warm.  Gray grabbed the electric wire fence to get a better look at the deer and got quite a zap.  I really tried not to laugh.
We got to see my parents in Asheville early on and had a great visit.  Adia pretty much ran dad ragged, but thats what she does to everyone.  I'm trying to bridge some gaps with my family and the weather seems to be improving on that front as well.  It sure has been a blessing to talk more with my new half-sister.  She seems to be one of those truly wonderful people.  I think she is going to try to come up after the baby is born.  I can't wait to meet her.  Speaking of which.  The date for the induction with the midwives in Asheville is Jan 13.  Amazing.  A couple of weeks and we will have a new baby in the house.  Little bald Adia will be a big sister.  Wow.  Ashley is doing really well even got back to walking - after the clot diagnosis, it kind of derailed exercise for her - which sucks because that is a major stress reliever for her.  She's getting close to the end now - 37 weeks which means the baby is not even considered premature if it is born now.  Thank God.  But she's pretty uncomfortable.  The last 2 weeks will be like the last 2 weeks of any pregnancy - a reason to go through labor.  We are settling in on a name - the frontrunner is Esme Ruth.  Esme means beloved and Ruth was the name of my grandmother.  We'll see.  Many of the women in the family think that it might be a boy.  We'll see.  
On a down note, I went to the visitation for the step father of a former student of mine (current friend).  He was murdered in downtown Boone at the pawn shop.  I don't really know any details except that there is a suspect at large and that the family is heartbroken.  I wonder what the world would be like if we didn't kill each other.  We can be very stupid apes.  I did get the hug of a lifetime from my student in the visitation line, however.   My heart aches for that kid and that whole family.
And for all the things that sit in my mind so wonderfully all the time.  The many times a day that I witness my kids do something or say something amazing.   Whether it is Adia climbing, dancing, playing that piano like crazy, pillowfighting, or just being difficult - or Zoe serving tea, sir, or replying so matter of factly to a woman on the trail who said that she was surely wearing the wrong shoes "well, I don't care" as she scrambles up some difficult rocks, or her questions, or her laughter... it is quite a wonderful life.  OK, thats it.  I need to get some sleep so I can MUni tomorrow.  

Saturday, December 6, 2008

O, Christmas Twig, O Chritmas Twig....

Don't laugh (well, try not to) - we cut the branches from a 3 year old hanging dead black locust tree (perfect wood - still in perfect shape after all that time) - I did it with Adia on my back and Zoe helped me drag the branches back to the house... in snow flurries. We peeled the branches and then "assembled" the tree in the basement. Wrapped it in lights and voila - Christmas spirit jumped into the house without the guilt of buying a pesticide treated tree that is polluting our groundwater. Thank you Jed and Deby for the idea. Ornaments are not on yet... more pics to come. The standing joke now is "who's gonna water the tree?"





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1 day later. We put on the ornaments and now the Christmas Twig is complete. Pictures included in various formats for your viewing pleasure:) Pappy, Mimi and Morgan came up today we had a really wonderful visit. It was so great to see them again and reconnect. Me, Zoe, and Morgan went up on Bobcat hill and plastered a few tracks and wandered along the ridgeline further than I had gone before - Some really nice areas are up there as long as you don't mind walking deer trails and avoiding briars. It was pretty breezy and cold, but coming back to the warm apple pie was especially nice.

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5 minutes later - I was messing around and googled my name - I was checking out the other Steve Ahns - the Harvard chap, Dr. Ahn the business guy, then I came up on YOUTUBE!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1gNQ_fhYUI&feature=related It turns out it was an interview from a grant I got, but still - its a bit unnerving. Its been viewed 23 times....the question is "by who?"... or is that whom? I don't know...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

24 Units







Its been a great start to winter so far - as long as you like snow days and cold weather. I read today that this is the 3rd coldest November in the past 80 years here. Zoe, Adia and the dogs like it, though. We all went sledding the other day (on the same sled) and had a ball. Hardly anyone got hurt:) You can see Zoe and Riley in the pic with our newly-being-painted-except-for-this-cold-weather barn in the background. In triabetes news, Reid is into the Triabetes thing full bore and even got his triabetes blog up and running. http://trashmantoironman.blogspot.com/ He is trying to outdo Dave to see how far off the couch he can go - but he's got big shoes to fill. Rumor has it that Dave was interviewed for a story...about him...in the New York Times. I talked to him before the interview but I haven't talked to him since. I hear it will be out in early 2009. I'm pretty proud of those 2 jokers. Which reminds me - I am also proud of my chickens. Nice segway, I know. Of the Buff Orpington roosters, it turns out that one was a hen! Found 7 eggs in the henhouse. We thought she might be a hen and so we kept her and another rooster out of the freezer. Didn't think she'd lay until spring however - pretty exciting, in its own hickville sort of way. My first eggs. As Woody Allen said "Its all about the eggs"... wow - didn't know it was a literal thing! The other picture is of a bike I am commuting on now - I turned Ashley's cross bike into a singlespeed with a flat bar. I absolutely love it - however, my ride to work is 11 miles and its all uphill. Actually its not all uphill - it just feels that way - its a pretty large overall gain. And now on singlespeed, its a bit brutal. There are times my arms wear out because I am pulling on the bars so hard. I'm even slower than before but I love it more. On the flats and downhills, you are forced to coast and enjoy it. OK, now rewind a couple of days. With all the worry and doctor visits concerning Ashley's leg over the last few weeks, I just stopped doing any activity. I did go for a run the day after thanksgiving but that is about it. Well, a couple of days ago we went to Asheville to meet with a specialist and to figure out (1) how Ash is doing and (2) what the plan is to have this baby next month. (Ash is doing fine and we are going to have the birth in Asheville...which is difficult but doable...somehow) Anyway - a couple of hours before dinner I was 270, so I took 4 units. I ate nothing. At dinner I tested again to see how far it had come down. 285. I got a bit angry and rage bolused 10 units for dinner - and didn't eat a whole lot. Before bed I was feeling a bit high and tested again. 360! Furious, I took another 10 units and just expected to wake up stunningly low at some point in the night. Slept all through the night and woke up the next am at 75. Man. 24 units for one meal. I went an ran the cub the next morning. As I was coming down the last mile and a half or so, Russ drove by and I hopped in for a ride back to Valle Crucis. I wasn't just out of shape, I was low as well. Then I rode to work today and home in the rain. And the last 2 days have been in perfect control. Exercise and Blood sugar, Exercise and Blood sugar.... why can't I remember it?!? Wasn't that the lesson from Triabetes?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Where I have been lately


All right. A lot has happened. And I am just going to give the condensed version or this would take waaay too long. First and foremost for us is that Ashley was diagnosed with a clot in her leg (saphenous from knee to junction with femoral). She worried she had a clot but had a devil of a time convincing doctors of that. After a few weeks of pain - it changed color and she once again called the doc and they said to go to the ER. After a very long time in the ER and very little sleep and an ultrasound, Ashley's worst nightmare had come true. Now I am not just joking about that. It really is her worst fear..and tornadoes. We would always joke about DVT (deep vein thrombosis) whenever anyone had a twinge of anything in their leg. Joke is on us, now. However, after numerous talks with doctors all over the place (we go to Asheville today for another) we have learned a few things. 1) don't joke about DVT - the universe has a sense of humor (2) DVT is not the guaranteed death we used to think it was (remember David Bloom?) its serious, but not as bad as we had it in our minds (3) Trust your instincts - doctors are very human and (4) the goal of clot treatment is not necessarily to remove it - just to stabilize it so the body can kind of make it a permanent fixture. Anyhow - Ashley has walked through her personal valley of shadow and is really emerging in great fashion. I am extremely proud of her. Now we just need to get that baby out. Which we don't have a name for yet. Other rather gigantic news is that I have a half sister that just learned about. She is a really amazing person and I hope to see her soon. She has the potential to be quite a healing force in my life and I am grateful to have her in my (and my family's) life. More to come on this later, however. A quick aside - just got the call about a snow day! And this makes the second day that I have made sub plans and not had to use them! I'm golden! And then our dear friend Janet called to see if she could keep the kids while we go to Asheville. Wow. People are great. I have more things to tell but now the clock is against me. I'll leave with a photo of Adia in a turkey box. I used to love being pulled around in a turkey box... circle of life thing, I guess:) Oh, I did learn one more thing triabetic wise: a complete lack of exercise for a few weeks wreaks havoc on blood sugar. Hmmm, you'd of thought I would know that already.