Friday, November 27, 2009


Thanksgiving 2009

We had a blessed Thanksgiving this year. Sam was able to drive down from Greencastle, Indiana, where he goes to Depauw University, to join us. And Rachel's mom, dad, and brother came over for the feast. Dylan's girlfriend, Rachel Ramsey (who I now call "Twix"), was also able to join us. It was a great time!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Honor 58 & Spelling Bee

Kaylee did really awesome in this year's spelling bee. Last year, Rachel wouldn't let Kaylee live down her first round elimination on a word that they told her would be on the spelling bee. This year she made it through three rounds and even had a word - "solemn" - come up that we'd studied together. Yeah Kaylee! On a related note, I was hoping to see Anna compete. But for reasons of her own, she opted out.

The Honor 58 situation, though, is a honor choir open to 5th through 8th grade students who qualify in a tough audition. Kaylee and Savannah both made it in and gave a great performance. Great job, girls!


Sunday, November 22, 2009


Dia de los Muertos & Cheekwood, Fall 2009

Dia de los Muertos is the Latin American tradition celebrating the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day. Emily's Spanish class entered the contest at the region-wide tapete contest. Tapete (pronounced "tap-et-ay") is a traditional Mexican chalk art expressing a variety of traditional "Day of the Dead" themes. Since the Day of the Dead is not traditionally a sad or scary day, the scenes are usually very festive and bright. Emily drew the image for her team and they put it on pavement and ... WON! Great job Emily!

The celebration was held at the very beautiful Cheekwood botanical gardens and, after Emily's competition, we got to traipse around the property. The beautiful garden and grounds were also decorated with a large variety of scarecrows put out by all of the area schools and several civic groups as well.

Check out the pictures below:

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Saturday, November 21, 2009


Injury at the Fall Festival

If there's one thing I've learned about the annual expedition to the Lakeview Elementary Fall Festival, it's that all the girls will want to go to the MASH tent at least once, maybe many times. Fortunately, Anna was not really injured though Dylan had fun playing up all of the bandages and bloody marks on all the girls.

(You can click on the images below of Katie (looking surly) and Ava (looking content) to see bigger versions of the pictures.)

I went to the Fall Festival for reasons of my own, primarily to drink:

And to eat all the yummy cakes we won in the cakewalk:


Friday, November 20, 2009


MTSU Convocation

I don't know how I managed to, but I forgot about posting the pictures from Dylan and Connor's convocation at MTSU. Dylan and Connor had everything hammered out and were ready to get settled into their dorm room. Rachel Ramsey came along to cheer on her boyfriend, Dylan.

The girls, while tolerant, were not having an awesome time. They had a few sodas, enjoyed the shade, and mostly just hung out with us trying not to look too bored.

Emily managed to have some fun too and, I think, looked wonderful when I snapped this picture of her. As you can tell, she especially enjoyed climbing in the beautiful trees all over campus.

Dylan and Connor's dorm room was in a really cool location. There are a lot of stairs, but that's good for 'em.

See more pictures in my on-line photo album at MTSU 2009 Convocation


Thursday, November 19, 2009


Mustache's Are The In-Thing, I'm Told

As a joke, I bought Emily a pack of silly stick-on mustaches for her birthday back in the middle of summer. I was shocked by how much she - and all of the kids - enjoyed them!
Katie and Ava wore them all day long. Ava's was light brown. Dylan, who was getting ready for some choir thing, decided to play up his suited look with a pipe just to make sure he was pulling off the English banker look. Jelly Bean added the Basset Hound flavor to the whole mix.

I think he needs a bowler hat to go the full 100%. LOL!


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Cool Tool - ScribeFire

On the recommendation of my friend Joe Webb, I've started to use a cool blogging tool called ScribeFire. ScribeFire is a Firefox plug-in that makes blogging easier than ever.

If you do much blogging of your own, I encourage you to consider adding ScribeFire to your tool kit. You can find it here.




Friday, November 06, 2009


Her Bite Is Lethal!

Ok, she's not a killer. But she can kill you with cuteness! I took this picture of Jelly Bean a couple months ago when it was still very warm. I don't remember exactly why but, as I was driving the entire family somewhere, I decided that we needed to take a bit of detour to spend at Old Hickory Lake. The weather was great and we all had a fun time splashing in the water. JB enjoyed teething on the driftwood, as you can see in the picture above.

Be careful, this one bites too!



6 Minutes, 50 Years

Can I get a "Roll Tide!"

When I was growing up in northern Alabama, the legendary Coach Bear Bryant was leading the Crimson Tide to championship after championship. (I eventually had to entirely forsake watching SEC football in the mid-1990's because, well, the Tide wasn't rolling like it used to and every loss turned me grumpy for days.) He was said to be such a good coach that he could switch teams and still beat his opponent with either team because he made more of a difference for victory than did the players themselves.

Bear's speech to his Alabama football team before a 1974 game included some of coaching's greatest words: "Most of you will live another fifty years or more. I hope it's seventy, but if it's fifty that's still a good life, and what happens today you'll have to live with the rest of the way. You can't get it back if you don't win. It's sixty minutes and over. The losers are the ones who say, 'Oh I wish I could play it again.' You can't play it again.

Well, you're not really going to have to play sixty minutes. None of you. The longest play in a game is six and a half seconds. The shortest play is less than two seconds. That's barely a wink of the eye. You'll average five seconds a play. Five seconds of total effort, going all out, giving a hundred percent. You oughta be able to hold your hand in a fire that long..."

Read the rest of Bear Bryant's speech here. It's worth the time.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009


Unintended Effects of the CPAP, or Conquering Persistent Acid Reflux (GERD)

I usually think of myself as a rather healthy person, with few chronic problems and those few that I do have are usually injury related (my spinal fusion for example) than immune-system related (getting sick, allergies, etc). And whenever I've had an illness, my body's first response was to make me sleep extra so that my body could fight of the virus or bacteria.

In fact, that was one of the first symptoms that I had developed sleep apnea. I was sleeping so poorly that I was having a lot of trouble fighting off illness and bouncing back from injuries. It's weird how, if a problem crops up gradually over the course of many years, you simply think of it as normal. Whereas if it'd happened overnight, you'd wake up the next morning and take yourself immediately to the doctor's office. Anyway...

Now that I've had the CPAP, to fend off sleep apnea, for about two months, I've seen all kinds of benefits. Some were expected and some were unexpected. The first big benefit is the enormous improvement in my daytime energy. Hallelujah! I'm more productive and focused than I've been in years, and all from a good night's sleep. The second is that I'm back to form when dealing with illness. It's kind of a joke these days at the annual PASS Conference that I'll lose my voice because of the changing weather and the flu de jour. This year, I started to lose my voice, but quickly recovered and was doing much better by midweek.

I've had two unexpected outcomes from using the CPAP. The first and most important is that my chronic acid-reflux, which I've had for about 15 years, has almost gone away. I used to take one Prilosec or Prevacid per day to control the severe feeling of heart burn and the sensations of a lump in my throat (something called globus hystericus). Tests had shown that my reflux was not cause by the H.Pilori bacteria that is responsible for about 80% of ulcers and the like. But once I started using the CPAP, I've only needed a pill about once every 5 days (probably due to a little extra acid production).

Evidently, people with strong apnea are often unconsciously try to sleep with their mouths closed by sucking on their tongue, cheeks, etc. That sucking action puts an upward pressure on their esophagus and basically sucks some stomach acid up into the throat causing the reflux and globus. When they start using the CPAP, which puts downward pressure on their nasal passages and into the esophagus, the acid reflux is averted. Again - Hallelujah!

The other unexpected effect of the CPAP is a major decrease in the number and vividness of my dreams. Rachel and I would frequently discuss and laugh at my weird and wacky dreams which I could recount with great detail. Evidently, sleep apnea allows the sleeper to get plenty of level 1 and level 2 sleep. That's the kind of sleep you have when you drift off on the couch in front of the TV and, as you've probably, experienced causes dreams that incorporate what's going on around you. If the TV program switches to a commercial about some new kids' toy, your dream might steer into kid territory. The truly productive sleep occurs at levels 3 and 4, in which REM sleep occurs and, oddly, is very hard to remember. Now that I'm getting level 3 and 4 sleep again, my dreams aren't memorable.

In fact, I'd seen 4 other doctors before the last doctor I saw mentioned that there's a strong correlation between sleep apnea, heart problems, and GERD. I have all three conditions! Now, two of the problems are in control and the heart issues are being supervised by my pacemaker.

If you're struggling with reflux despite medication, it could naturally be what you eat or drink since sodas are very acidic and so are many kinds of food. However, if you've adjusted your diet and still haven't seen an improvement, I strongly encourage you to conduct a sleep study to check on the possibility of apnea.


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