Saturday, March 28, 2009

So It Begins

The Wife has a full day of work today, so it's just me and the kiddos today. Today is the day also, that the Boyo and I will be starting our tomato and pepper seedlings... and maybe some basil too!

The Boyo loves planting time. More playing in the dirt I think, than actually planting the seeds. But it's a time we can share together, and maybe we're planting the seeds (as it were) of something we can share when he's a teenager.

So. Today we plant!

More Later

Thursday, March 26, 2009


My parents love Thanksgiving. They always have. Especially my father. For a great many years the members of our clan have gathered at my folks house for the Thanksgiving celebration, and enjoyed the amazing cooking of my mom and dad on this wonderfully American holiday.

My sister is three years older than I am. My brother two years younger. Yet we were all three born in the first week of August. For you non-math wizards out there, this puts conception right around... you guessed it... Thanksgiving.

Anyway, we always celebrated the first week in August as "Shaffer Week!" A festival of birthdays and cakes and present and pool parties. All in all a pretty good time.

This phenomenon has passed (sort of) to the next generation, for today marks the beginning of "Grandkids Season" for my folks. Today is the birthday of my nephew, Harrison. He started it all off eleven years ago. I remember his birth day quite well. The Wife and I were hanging out at the hospital with my sis. When she was moved to the birthing suite, we passed the time playing gin down the hall. My mother was standing outside the birthing suite wringing her hands. The wife sent me down to comfort my mom.

At my arrival my mother promptly clamped my arm in a death grip indicating just how worried she was about her daughter. From inside the room I could hear grunting and growling from my sister, encouragement from my brother in law and the staff, and the usual sounds of activity associated with a new life entering the world. My sis had been in labor for quite some time, and apparently had produced a womb so comfortable that my little nephew just did not want to leave. After one particularly long grunting push, my sis exclaimed quite loudly,
"Get out of there already!"

Not long after that, I heard a different sound. From inside the room, a duck quacked. Not really loud, just a short "Waack". I listened for a moment, sure that either my ears had deceived me, or this hospital was incredibly avant garde with the duck in the birthing suite therapy, when it came again.

"waark, quaak."

And with that, my little nephew finally made his way into the world. The family was ushered in soon after (I got to hold him when he was five minutes old). Many pictures were taken and brownies were smuggled to my drugged up sister by my Wife (who was just my girlfriend then, and not yet a nurse who realized what havoc food can play with a sedated individual) And we have enjoyed the little bugger ever since. Of course, he's not so little anymore!

So Happy Birthday HD! We are glad you were born!

This starts off Grandkids Season as my kids and my brothers kids were all born at various times throughout Spring. Let the festivities begin!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

John the Medic

Well. I'm all done with my re certification hours for being a nationally registered paramedic. (NREMT-P) We need 72 hours of training every two years, to include 48 hours of mandatory core courses, and 24 extra of whatever.

On top of classes on airways, breathing, cardiology, deformities, etc. I had the opportunity last weekend to attend a class on snake identification and treatment for bites. During the class, the presenter brought out four snakes. A Milk Snake, Fox snake, Bull snake, and for the finale - a Timber Rattlesnake. Now I can say that I've handled a live rattler and even shook it's little tail. (little? the thing was about four feet long.) Anyway, quite entertaining!

I had LOTS of pediatric classes this time around. Many on peds trauma, which can get a little depressing after a time. But good to have the classes, as fortunately we don't have much actual experience with peds in the real world.

You know, we medics experience a lot of things that others would literally vomit to see. We really are a breed apart in some ways. There are certain laws we have come to accept as EMS professionals. Among them...

If you want the tones to go off, warm up your first meal of the shift.

If someone is going to code, they will find their way to the narrowest, most remote part of their house before actually collapsing.

Every drunk driver who has crashed and mangled everything in their path will only admit to having "a few beers".

Even a garden hose vein will be missed on occasion when starting an IV.

Never loan trauma shears or flashlights, they rarely return.

The sicker a person is, the more they will apologize for bothering you.

And of course, we develop certain skills and intuitions on the job...

No GI bleed will go unnoticed, and they usually present just before your meal break.

Bandaging will NEVER be like you were taught in school.

If you list off a bunch of non-narcotic pain killers as allergies and tell me your back hurts, I know you are a drug seeker.

The real psych patients know what to say to avoid a committal.

9 out of 10 "sick kids" that come in are in need of nothing more than a little Tylenol and some sleep.

There will always be one medic who thinks he is "Super Medic" and ten more who really are. But they stay quiet and do their jobs.

In short, this career - like many others - has it's pros and cons. But I love what I do, because for as much as I gripe about the human race, I still love helping them out when they are hurt or sick.

Anyway, more later.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Dog Shoba

She died a year ago tomorrow. The ground was covered with snow then, overcast and blah day. Today there is no snow, but strong winds and rain. And no Shoba.

She was the kind of dog that needed very little. Little training, little food, little anything except a little attention now and then. She loved it when I rubbed her ears one at a time, then both together. Then she'd shake her head and set it in my lap for me to do again.

She would lie at my feet with her head on her paws, then yawn and stretch out and sleep. She was mellow and loving and gentle.

She was the best dog ever, and I miss her terribly.

More Later

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


What a week. We would have returned from vacation today. Tired and worn, semi-rested, bags full of laundry to be cleaned of dust from a dozen states. Instead, we are still recovering from being sick. Everyone is feeling much better now, just some persistent coughing and runny noses to go.

The little Sweet Pea has been rather ill of late too. Her little nose has produced more goo than I've seen for a long time. She's been a little snugly lump for the past three days or so. Lethargic and gooey. Suddenly tonight she has exploded in a symphony of ten month old activity. Talking a blue streak, climbing all over whomever will hold her, more energy than we've seen in a time. And it's been great to see. She claps her hands when I sing to her. It's awsesome.

I spent some time in the shop, bow #2 is almost done. I'll post some pictures later.

EMS education for me for the next four days. But then I'm all done! At least for the next couple of years.

Sleep time,

More Later

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Recovery and Continents

I think we're on the mend. I can't hear for some reason, at least not well. My ears are full of some strange, viscous goo. But the Boyo is once more bouncing happily off the walls, which is great to see... if not a little wearing. The Sweets is getting better too. For the past couple of days she has been a wet noodle in Mommy's arms, riding the fever wave. Though she still sounds cruddy and full of goo, her fever is down without meds, and she is smiling at times and playing at times. Looks like the Wife dodged the worst of it, which is great. Though she's a bit under the weather too yet. But I think things are getting better rather than worse. So no worries!

I've had an influx of Australia related things lately. Read Bill Bryson's "In A Sunburned Country", a hilarious account of his travels through that land. Rented "Australia" with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, a long but quite good movie. Read a few Internet things about the Aborigines, following up on stuff Bryson wrote. It's a place I'd like to visit some day. Actually it's a place I'd like to go live for a few years, to really get the flavor of it. If you're looking for a good read on the only country that's a continent, read Bryson's book. It's awesome and hilarious.

Well, the Boyo wants some hot chocolate and attention. So I'll write again soon.

More Later

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I'm not a terribly superstitious person when it comes to generic superstitions.

Don't let a black cat cross your path, Friday the 13th is bad luck, break a mirror and seven years of bad luck blah blah blah...

So yesterday was a Friday the 13th. So many posts on the facebook thing mentioned how even though it was Friday the 13th they were somehow still having a good day! It seems to me that the only ones who need to fear anything on a Friday the 13th are the Templar Knights, and since I'm not one of those, I guess it just doesn't matter.

I do have superstitions of course. But they are private ones and not really relevant to anyone else.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Blech, Blah, Grrr

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. Apparently whatever the Boyo had I've got in spades. Cough, congestion, a voice like Barry White. Fever over a hundred for a few days now, God bless NSAID's.

I've been sleeping more than I've been awake, my body fighting it's silent but not so peaceful or tidy war with whatever has invaded.

This could be the worst vacation I've ever had.

More Later

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Ah, Vacation! After two years without a real break, we finally managed to carve out a solid eight days just for ourselves!

So the plan... drive down to Florida to visit the wife's parents and grandmother. On the way we'll stop in St. Louis to visit my brother and hiss lovely family, then on through Memphis for some BBQ. Then a few days in FLA and warm weather and sunshine. On the way back we hit Chicago for the wife's sister and her kids. It would have been a fine trip.

This morning we were scheduled to depart around nine. I slept all night with the help of a diphenhydramine, ensuring I'd be good to drive all day, and the wife stayed up all night after getting back late late late from a four hour shift at work. She packed and cleaned and such. This morning we were packing in the last bag and getting ready to clean the last dirty plate of remnants of home made fried chicken. It was time to rouse the kids, load up and head out!

The Boyo had climbed into bed with me at some point last night, so I went in to get him. I could feel warmth coming from him before I even moved the covers. A hand on his head confirmed it. Fever. And a good one. He didn't want to do an oral temp, and our tympanic (ear) thermometer was out of battery, so we got an axillary temp (under the armpit)which read 101. That's usually a degree or two lower than his core, so we knew he was too warm.

Shivery and a little weepy, he agreed to a day of sitting on the couch and watching movies.

Ah, vacation. I watched it slip away today in a flurry of Pixar films and children's Tylenol. Maybe in a couple more years we'll be able to find time for another one.

More Later

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Today we were installed at our church. Which means we are now members to those who may not be too church lingo savvy.

When told we were going to be installed today, I had an overwhelming urge to tell them that I wanted to be a light fixture near the stained glass, perhaps shining through it. Or better yet maybe just some software on their computers. Then I could surf the web on my off days.

Installation went fine, we all looked great. The Sweet Pea danced and sang along during the hymns. The Boyo went to Sunday school for the first half of the service and joined us after the sermon for the installation.

After the service, many nice people welcomed us and congratulated us, which is a big reason we joined this church. The people are pretty nice.

Some time after he was born, the Boyo was baptised by an old friend of ours in a church near Chicago, making him a member there. Baptism for the Sweet Pea is coming up, so she isn't really a "member" anywhere, and the Wife and I have been members at a church in a small Iowa town since before we were married. We've been church shopping since we moved here. Now that we have joined this church, we are all in the same it were. Another first for our clan, being members of the same church!

Much to do today and tomorrow. Some of those projects I was talking about earlier.

More Later

Mr. Unicorn

When I was a kid growing up, one of the things I remember best were the times when my dad would tell unicorn stories.

They weren't unicorns that were pink and fluffy with those poufy white manes like my little pony. In fact, they very seldom had more than one unicorn in them. But this unicorn was our unicorn, and he would take us on adventures to exotic places and we would be able to do amazing things.

Since my son was born, I've been telling him unicorn stories as well. It has been much more enjoyable since he learned English of course, though he did smile a lot when he was just a baby.

Tonight, I was able to tell a unicorn story to both of my kids at the same time for the first time. The Boyo got into his "Unicorn story listening position" which is snuggled up next to me with his head on my shoulder. This was the appropriate position when I was a little boy too, and must surely be universal. Sweet Pea was cuddled up on the other side, chattering away and cooing contentedly. I started the story in the traditional way.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, when animals and people were much closer together, there lived a Unicorn. Now, a Unicorn is a big, beautiful blue horse, with beautiful white wings, and a horn growing right out of the middle of his forehead...

When my dad would tell the story, he would then explain that a unicorn can change into any animal that it wanted to, and he would go letter by letter through the alphabet, listing animals that started with that letter. This of course was a great way to use time and make a story longer, in the hopes that his children would get drowsy!

When I tell the stories, the Boyo and I alternate naming animals that Mr. Unicorn could change into, not even close to alphabetically, but fun none the less. The last animal is always the one that came to visit most often in the stories of my youth, a little red hen.

So tonight, as I started the story, and the Boyo was squirming and Sweet Pea was chattering I thought that it might just be a long night. But in short order they both calmed down and got lost in the story. I rambled on and on, making things up as the story developed, and soon the boy, the girl and Mr. Unicorn were on a great adventure deep in a jungle seeking the lost treasure of the Monkey King.

And as I talked and snuggled with my kids, I was content.

More Later

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I've somehow managed to accumulate about a thousand and one things to do. Some more important than others. Some much more enjoyable than others.

Yet I find it hard to find the time or energy to accomplish all of these things in a timely manner. All I can do is do what I can, as best I can.

I learned a great new phrase at the last EMS educational weekend I attended. One of the speakers was summing up her feelings about what others thought of her. Like me, she really didn't care too much about what others thought.

I mostly don't care what most people think of me either. Mainly, I think, because I place such importance on what my close friends and family think of me. It is their opinions that matter most to me. Their opinions that can influence me.

So her phrase seemed doubly accurate as she said,

"They're not coming to Christmas."

Simple and exceedingly profound. What I do and how I do it are for the benefit of nobody but me, my family and my friends. They get to come to Christmas!

Well, a three nighter coming up, and tons to do there as well. Hi ho. Hi ho. It's off to work I go!

I'm glad I like my job!

More Later

Monday, March 2, 2009

Post Number 200

I was wanting to save my 200th post for something profound or an amazing event. Perhaps logging a feat of some incredible sort. Turns out I'm a pretty ordinary guy, with a pretty extraordinary life, and sometimes the most amazing, profound, incredible things happen not during great expeditions or worldwide events, but in the day to day musings of a four year old boy and a ten month old girl.

In the world of adults I am faced almost daily with deceit, hypocrisy, guile, ulterior motives, dishonesty, low integrity, lack of honor. I miss sometimes the Marines I served with because of their honor, integrity, courage and commitment. The Marine without these was rare. But it seems in the civilian world, finding a civilian with those traits is the lesser known.

With my children, I don't have to guess at their motives or honesty. They are like little Marines. Able to speak honestly and openly, in English or Babble. Without the two facedness that many people today seem to wear with such ease.

I live my life like that. Open, honest. And I miss my kids and my wife when I'm not near them, because they do the same.

The Boyo has been learning courtesy and consideration, right and wrong. He's quick to call me on my transgressions, but not in a mean or hurtful way. But gently, as his mother and I correct him. The other day I was mixing up a few cups of Strawberry Milk, a favorite of his and of mine. Sometimes the Boyo helps stir, and he stirs with the wreckless abandon of a four year old. Often there is liquid everywhere, much to his delight. And when he goes "stir crazy" my response is the same.

"OK now. That's enough, that's enough. Let's stop stirring for now."

The other day I was talking to the Wife as I stirred. A few drops of the frothy pink goodness sloshed over the rim and trickled down the side. Suddenly his little voice piped up...

"OK Daddy. That's enough, that's enough." Completely charming.

He is an astute observer, and a sponge of all that happens around him. He happily takes on the characters of our favorite DVD's and gives their voices to whatever action figure or toy he is playing with. So the pirate ship has Rob Petrie for a captain, Laura Petrie and Buddy Sorrell and Sally Rogers as crew. The Lego ship carries Mr. Magorium and Mahoney, and perhaps "Lightning BaQueen" as well. The cast will then carry on a conversation, sailing and adventuring. Correcting each other gently for saying things they shouldn't or making bad choices. Rejoicing, often loudly, when the choices are good or they've behaved. He's a riot to watch.

Our little girl is starting to come in to her own as well. She emotes well. Frustration, sadness, giddy happy, excitement. It's all in her face and eyes. She chants "Ma ma ma ma ma" as she crawls towards the Wife. I am rewarded with an occasional "Da da", which melts my heart. Or the less friendly "Shet" which is either the naughty excrement word, or just random sound. I think it is the latter, as we are very careful as to what words we use around our little language sponge, for he will indeed repeat any questionable prose at the least opportune time. The Sweet Pea lights up like a supernova when mommy or I appear, and I know what true love is.

Then there's this whole space thing. International Year of Astronomy. That's all thanks to Galileo who back in 1609 borrowed a Dutch telescope design and tweaked it to work better. No doubt the guy was a genius. And thanks to my Sis for taking me to the observatory and reigniting my uber-space-nerd and leading me back to wanting to build a huge telescope to observe the heavens, and wanting to find an easier way to see black sky at some point in life.

And as I've said before, Space is Big. Big in a way that makes me feel like many things here just don't matter but at all. All the drama at work... who cares. The life and death nature of my job... eh- it's just a job. Whole galaxies are colliding right now, stars are dying, cosmic events happening that make me compare my life and eventual demise to how a fruit fly must see me. So again I focus on what is true and important.

Sweetiest of the Sweets
their spouses and kids
in laws

Those are the main players in this show of a life of mine. I have friends of course, and they rank right in there as secondary characters. (Some appearing more often than others, some I wish would reappear and hang around for awhile) There are tertiary characters playing the parts of the inevitable antagonists. And like most villains, they are not as two dimensional as they appear to be in this show. They too have their good side, their friends and their aspirations. But for some reason in my show, they are the ones presenting me with interpersonal challenges. But you know what? They really don't matter. In the grand scheme of my life, they really don't.

So the joys in life are what I am leaning towards more and more. Working in the shop, creating, thinking, inventing, snuggling, laughing.

Pondering the size of the universe has the strange effect of focusing my view into things as small as enjoying a warm sunny breeze on a coolish near spring day.

Of course, thirty one hours without much more than a few hours of rest also lead to ramblings like this, my 200th post. Good luck making much sense of it.

I did have a couple of really good ideas that I should write down and revisit when I'm rested to confirm whether or not they were actually good ideas, or exhaustion induced ideas comparable to a really high Pineapple Express type guy thinking "Dude, that's a really good idea!"

Tomorrow will tell.

Thanks my true family, born into our blood or not, you are the ones who are really important.

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