Monday, November 19, 2012

What Happens in the Kitchen...

Should stay in the kitchen.

A few weeks ago, my wife ran across a snowman cookie recipe. This evening she decided to give the whole family the opportunity to make our very own snowman cookie. Bad idea.

The designs trended slightly different than Better Ohms and Gardens suggested and the results were highly varied, very creative and... um original.

The first five are shown below without their creators names. The sixth design... the one with the caribbean theme comes courtesy of my sixth grade teaching wife. Is there any doubt of the negative effect of prolonged exposure to middle schoolers?

We have decided to turn this into a contest. I encourage you all to vote in our poll and tell us which snowman cookie you like best.

Entry Number 1

Entry Number 2 

Entry Number 3

Entry Number 4

Entry Number 5

 No, you may not vote for a sunbathing Christmas cookie.
Why? Because it is just wrong, on so many levels.

Oy Vey.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Just a drop please.

No, I mean literally, just a drop. a few weeks ago, Nathan graduated to real peanut powder! Not a lot of it, but we now have the real deal peanut dust, double bagged and stashed in a designated drawer of the fridge.

I found this image for a reference. The smallest spoon attached to the ring is a drop measurement. The largest is a tablespoon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Non-Peanut Related Post

The Frontiersmen

I know that this blog has been recently focused on the peanut desensitization treatment that my son is undergoing, but I would like to interrupt this regularly scheduled blogcast to announce a rather momentous occasion in my life. During one of our outings to Texas this summer, I came across an interesting book by Allan W. Eckert, called The Frontiersmen.

While I have mentioned before that I am generally a slow reader, this book absolutely wrapped my attention and in the period of less than five weeks I have zipped through this amazing 600 page historical narrative about the frontiersmen Simon Kenton and his Shawnee counterpart Tecumseh.

I recommend this book and it's five subsequent volumes (which I have yet to read). They offer an enthralling and personal yet brutal portrait of life on the early American frontier.

On a slightly unrelated note, notice the new fall colors in the background. Boy I wish it would snow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's The Real Stuff Maynard.

Well, we are back from the seventh appointment. Each visit has seen a doubling of the amount of peanut protein Nathan has to take each day. We returned from this trip with actual, bone-fide peanut powder. Yikes!

We don't have much of the stuff, maybe one tablespoon full, but it will last us a while because we are using a half of a drop dose this week.

For a little perspective, Nathan's dose is currently one half of a drop of the protein. A drop is about the size of a roley poley bug or a half or a frozen pea. We have a ridiculously tiny little itty bitty scoop and have to cut the amount in half with a knife.

The amazing thing is not how little it is, but how much Nathan is taking without a reaction.

Consider that there are around 20 drops in a CC or a ML. Currently we are at 1/40th of a CC. Each week they have doubled that dose for the last seven weeks. Do the math and last week we were at 1/80 of a CC and 1/160th the week before. The dose gets smaller and smaller and smaller until we are absolutely blown away by the minuscule amount that it took to set off a reaction just seven weeks ago.

We really do appreciate your prayers and will continue to keep you updated.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Half a Cubic Centimeter

Just a quick update on the peanut desensitization front. Nathan has so far handled the increased doses amazingly well. This week, he was bumped up to 0.5 cc of stock solution. I am not really sure what stock means as far as the diluted amount goes, but the liquid looks much more peanut colored and Nathan says that it tastes weird.

Next week is the big break. No more prepared syringes for this family. We will be returning home with a large bag of peanut powder next week. Talk about frightening, for the rest of this year, we will have a huge bag of this stuff in the very house that we live! 

Those of you who are gnawing on a Snickers bar as you read this will just have to take our word for it, It is disconcerting.

Next week Nathan will be taking two daily doses of a half a drop of straight peanut powder.

Things are going amazingly well. We have to rise early in order to have the recommended two hours of rest after the dose, but other than that, life is good.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The third time's a charm

You may notice that each post for the next few months will begin with words like "afraid", "scared", "worried", "yikes" and "Oh my sweet potato pie".

Please don't come away with the impression that we are a family of 'fraidy cats. Its just that the process of giving our son daily doses of a deadly poison, tends to make our knees weak.

This last trip saw our son's twice daily dose increase to an undiluted one tenth of of a cc of peanut protein in a liquid suspension. In terms that might be easier to understand, the amount of liquid that he is taking, is less than the size of a quarter inch of the length of a number two pencil. It is smaller that one of those little round lego pieces with one knob on top. In volume, if you were to cut a penny in thirds, this is about the same amount as one of those thirds. Compared to a can of soda, it would take 3550 of these doses to equal one can. In short, there is not a lot of stuff in these doses.

To combat the natural response of his body, he is on a 24 Antihistamine, a twice daily inhaler and is required to rest for at least two hours after each dose.

Nathan is doing great, despite a rash that the doctor is not positive is related and slight swelling around his eyes, he is a trooper and is taking it all in stride.

As a parent, I would take a bullet for my son and I have to tell you that the feelings of helplessness here are tremendous. This semester will be a great lesson in trusting God's grace.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There and Back Again

Well, we returned last evening from the second appointment for our son's peanut allergy. We were a bit more than nervous due to his reaction after the last visit. Last week they sent us home with 0.5 cc of 1/10 dilution doses, but after a night of vomiting and stomach cramps they moved him back to 0.25 cc of the same dilution.

This week they bumped the dose back up, observed him and sent us home. So far there has ben no adverse reaction, which points towards and increasing tolerance to the legume.

We shall see.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Fourth Ice Age?

I don't know your opinion on global warming or climate change or whatever the recent term we are supposed to use is, but the undeniable fact is that the fourth Ice Age has arrived. While I think the first Ice Age was a better movie, this one was a pretty good movie.

This week we have friends staying with us and so we went in a herd of eight to the theater. The noteworthy thing about this outing was not the number of our party, but rather that this was the first real outing since we began the peanut protocol that Nathan showed no signs that the activity adversely affected him.

I know that we are going to face difficulties over the next twenty weeks, but this afternoon was not one of them. Woo Hoo!

Home Again, Home Again... Jiggity Jig

Anyone interested in living in the big city should take an hour or two and drive around the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport area and then take a stroll through the GrapeVine Mills Mall. I can think of no better cure.

People, people, people.

Our original plan included spending Saturday at the Forth Worth Stockyard and Sunday at the Grapevine Mills Mall visiting the Legoland Discovery Center and the Aquarium there. It became apparent very quickly that this new peanut protocol would not allow for either. And so, rather than spend the weekend stuffed into our hotel room, we woke up Saturday morning an began the slow trudge home. I may chronicle the directionally challenged misadventures of the journey in a later post, but suffice to say that Texas would do well to invest in a few sign makers to help out with the construction confusion in and around the Dallas/ForthWorth area (Fort Worth/ Dallas area for Allison).

We arrived home safely and even gave Nathan a dose of peanut protein on the way. He seems to be handling the 0.25 cc dose much better than the 0.5 cc dose and though it will mean that his treatment will be extended, we feel good that Dr. Foster is being cautious with our son.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Little Trouble In The Night

With Rush Day going so well, we decided to go out to eat at Olive Garden to celebrate and then came back to the hotel to rest. Around six P.M., we decided that he was doing well enough for a lazy dip in the pool.

All went well and we came back to the room and settled in for the night. Nathan slept sound until 1:00 A.M. When he woke us to let us know that his stomach hurt. I fed him a few crackers and he fell back to sleep for half an hour when he started vomiting.

He threw up again at 2:00 A.M at which point Kerri took over and found Cool Runnings on TV. After a long bout of abdominal pain, Nathan fell asleep around Four A.M. and slept soundly until Seven when I woke him for a required dose of antihistamine.

After breakfast at nine, he took his morning dose and seemed to do well, so well that around noon, we decided to try Cracker Barrel. Lunch went well, but afterwards, he began wheezing so we gave him Benadryl and when that didn't seem to work quickly enough, he took two puffs of the rescue inhaler and we took the rest of the day off in the hotel.

The doctors office had warned us that Nathan should limit his activity after the treatment, but we have been amazed at how little activity seems to set him off.

Not being convinced that things were going quite as they should, we call Dr. Foster and he decided that we should reduce the dose from .5cc to .25cc of diluted peanut solution. It is kind of scary to think that the reaction that Nathan is having is due to .05cc of peanut powder. That is less than .01 of a teaspoon.

So, this may not be the walk in the park that we imagined. Nathan is probably going to have to reduce his activities this semester as will the family. Nathan's reaction to the treatment is similar to a lot of the kids who have ended up dropping out of the program. So far, our son does not seem deterred by the difficulties and seems to understand that the short term pain will result in a safer and less constrained long term life.

We encourage you all to pray with us for Nathan, his resolve and God's hand in all of this to change the way his immune system handles the peanut protein.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Final Dose

Well, there we go. At noon, they administered the last dose and we are going to wait and see if there is any reaction.

Number Five is Alive

11:32 and we have just completed five doses with no reaction. One more dose to go and then we wait a few hours so they can observe him. After that we are free to go.

Thanks for your prayers

Third and Fourth Doses

Well, here we are at eleven A.M. Four doses down with no adverse side effects.

Nathan felt that the third dose tasted funny, but the fourth had no taste. Apparently this last dose is the dose that we will take home. 1/10 dilution.

Also, it seems that they do not expect Nathan to have a reaction during this visit. We had expected that they would bring him to the brink of anaphlaxis, treat him with Epinephrine, observe him and then send us home with a lower dose.

So far, this is going much less dramatically than we had expected and so much more pleasant than we could have hoped for.

What? The second dose already!

Moments after submitting my last post, the nurse came in with a second dose. Nathan reportedly could taste something different this time, but then, he admitted to having no recollection of what peanuts taste like.

Two doses down.

Rush Day... The Adventure Begins!

This morning began innocently enough, waking early, tickling the kids awake and the mad rush and tumble that is our morning process of getting ready. This morning was complicated by the fact that the five of us were in a small (but very nice) hotel room, with only one bathroom. I cannot imagine how we survived in the Edwards house with only one shower.

This morning was also complicated by frayed nerves as we prepared to begin the peanut Desenatization treatment. Trusting doctors is a difficult thing, especially when you are trusting them with your first born.

Regardless, we made it out of the room on time and drove a distance that we probably should have walked and arrived at the Southwest Allergy and Asthma Clinic just before nine o'clock.

After a decade of avoiding peanuts, and protecting Nathan from situations were he might be exposed, it was a little anticlimactic to watch as he downed a tiny bit of liquid that apparently contained some minute amount of peanut powder.
Even though the medicine is the same poison that we have avoided like the plague, he handled it like a man and so far has had no adverse side effects.

In just a bit, they should be in with a second dose. Keep on praying.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A "Cure" for Peanut Allergies?

Big Jim Cole once said, "Ain't a man alive, hasn't got trouble. How he deals with that trouble's what counts."

Our trouble for the last decade has been peanuts. For most of you, reading this blog, these small "beans" have been a staple in your diet for longer than you can remember. Roasted, candied, ground into a buttery paste, as an oil or by the handful, these same small legumes have become to us, a poison, deadlier than any snake venom.

Our son, was diagnosed just before his second birthday, with an anaphylactic reaction to peanut protein. That means that anything remotely related to peanuts, or processed in the same factory as peanuts has been off limits to our family for the last decade. We are constantly checking labels and avoiding restaurants that use peanut oil or peanut products in their food.

Double Dave's pizza was taken off the safe list when they introduced Thai pizza. Chili's restaurant was recently added to the list of off limit food establishments when they added a peanut drizzle salad dressing and a peanut butter brownie dessert to the menu. Baskin Robbins is out because of cross contamination in the scoops and don't even mention Chick-Fil-A, They fry everything in peanut oil, or at least did until recently and even if they changed over, how long until they have sufficiently cleaned the peanut residue off of everything. We even had to forgo canned spinach from Walmart because it contained a peanut warning (not a big sacrifice there). Accidental contact has our biggest fear and has in fact sent us racing for the hospital on more than one occasion. I am not complaining, just explaining the reality of life with a peanut allergy.

It really has not been that much of a sacrifice. We learned to read labels, ask questions and stay nearby when he was out of our control. I ate a PB&J sandwich most every day of my life for the first 23 years, giving it up was not a big deal, it was what needed to be done. My wife has missed M&Ms and I miss chocolate covered raisins. Both of which are manufactured in facilities or on equipment that also processes peanuts. Life without peanuts is not nearly as hard as life without two feet. Like with so many other things that are thrown our way in life, we pull back, regroup and move forward.

There have been little issues, school cafeteria serving unsafe food, birthday parties with unsafe cake mixes, Halloween, Easter baskets, etc. But for the most part, we have remained safe within the walls of the little world we have created. Safe, that is until this year when our son expressed a desire to go to high school! Having finished the eighth grade at the top of his class, it seems only logical. But the world of high school is a wide open, scary place where none of the safe guards we have worked so hard to set in place will be. It really feels like we are sending our child swimming with alligators.

And so, you can imagine our delight when, after years of searching, we found a facility less than 500 miles from our house that has successfully desensitized over 40 people with similar peanut sensitivity.

We begin treatment soon and will keep you posted on the progress. But for now, know that we are tickled blue (don't particularly like pink) about the possibility of sending our son off on a field trip, to camp or eventually off into the wide wide world of college and beyond without fear of a life threatening reaction. We encourage you to pray with us as we begin this journey.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Maybe this post is better suited for a MyFace or SpaceBook account. Maybe it should have been twittered. but seeing as how I have none of the above and have no desire to begin tweeting like a twit, I will post this little tidbit here, in an old fashioned blog.

As a reward for the kids work in the yard as mentioned in the last post, Kerri decided that the kids could stay up until midnight watching movies. After a long and heated debate, they settled on Spiderman I and II. I skipped out on the first, but joined in at the intermission to soundly squash everyone at 100 pin bowling. Afterwards, with a large plate of nachos in hand, we settled down to watch the second installment of our friendly neighborhood web slinger.

The movie was fairly eventless, with only the usually gasps from the girls at Peter Parkers lack of romantic intuition. Girls seem to know exactly what a guy should do in any given romantic situation, while the majority of us male-folk stand there as clueless and slack jawed as Mr. Parker. It has to be a product of the fall. In heaven, I imagine that us guys will have the answer to any romantic situation, just as the girls do. But then it will be too late. (See Matthew 22:30)

But I digress. Back to the movie... As the final scene rolled by, as Mary Jane stands in Pete's door after running away from her own wedding in favor of Spidey, she tells Peter, "I am standing at your door Peter, I have always been standing at your door"...

At that very moment, a little Roo voice, from beneath a blanket, snuggled deep down in a too big chair, says, in a very sassy and drawn out voice, "stalker".

Peels of laughter ensued which ended the effect of the deeply romantic moment, in which Peter Parker says nothing, or at least very little... Which, apparently was exactly what he was supposed to say in that romantic instance. I guess? I don't know. 

...of Backyards and Automated Sprinkler Systems

One of the benefits of teaching, both in the public schools and at the college level, is the time off. I never really understood the need for the breaks, but now after seven years of being "on stage" for four or more hours every day, I find that I really look forward to the down time. More than that, I need the down time. It allows you to re-animate.

This week, for the Carlsbad Municipal Schools and New Mexico State University, has been a very welcome and needed spring break.

On an average evening in the Christensen house, you will find my wife or myself grading, preparing lessons, reading about teaching techniques and of course, attending to the various tasks required to run a household. This week, however, there has been no grading, no prep, very little required reading and the like. This week, we have taken the opportunity to work on fun things, cool things, our things, and boy has it been fun.

When we moved in in August, we found that this new house came equipped with an automated sprinkler system. Unfortunately it had been maintained by at least one large canine who decided the chewing sprinkler heads and burying the valves was the preferred method of maintenance.

This week, armed with plyers, gloves and the debit card (for new sprinkler heads), I set forth early, as the mist hung low in the yard and I conquered the beast. This morning, with the help of my lovely assistant wife and three weed pulling children we de-weeded the backyard and tested the system.

In addition to these momentous feats, we built a cabinet for the television and I started a novel. The cabinet is on wheels and once the TV is strapped in, the kids will be able to check it out on weekends to watch a movie in their room. We have never liked the idea of having a permanent TV in the kids rooms and as they get older, this seemed like a nice compromise. We shall see. We shall also have to wait and see about the novel, which is currently only 1200 words long and will probably wax cheesy as it is about a young city slicker who travels west to start a new life in Montana.

Now it is time to trounce my family at 100 pin bowling and so I will sign off. I hope that your week has been as non-productively productive as mine.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


A few weeks ago, on a sunny Saturday morning as I leaned against our back gate talking to the neighbor across the way, the top portion of one of the boards decided that it had had enough, and it quit.

Turns out that the entire gate was ready retire. After a quick review, I found that the rest of the boards that made up my gate had grown so rotten that they were not worth salvaging. Notice the old white gate sitting on its side against the wall. I think that it looks bored... board?

Anyhow, being a cheapskate, I chose to make the gate out of salvaged 2x4s that I picked up from the construction site at work. In an attempt to keep the weight of the gate down, I ripped the boards, some across the height to create 1x4s and others across the width to create thick lath strips.

The boards are held tight with screws but also anchored with a health spread of construction grade glue to keep them from shifting. I will paint it this weekend, if the wood is dry enough from the rain we got on Wednesday. Can't complain about moisture falling from the sky, would rather that it had been snow, but any form of wet is better than nothing.

It is a quaint little gate. It wont keep out the advancing hoards, but once I have the latch installed and the concrete blocks buried in the base, I think it will deter the rouge skunk, or dog that ventures near. Cats are another issue. Have you ever seen a cat walk through a gate, even an open gate? It seems that they would rather hop the fence than walk through an open gate. Obstinate and uncivil beasts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guitar and Revolvers

Here are a series of rendered images stuck on a generic background (where I would love to be). I still need to work on the phonemes and facial expressions. The guitar, both revolvers and all ten fingers are rigged and working.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Man with no name, Partially Rigged

I still need to work on the movement of the fingers on the right hand, Weighting for the guns and guitar and facial expressions, but here are a few renders of him posed.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Latest Modeling Project

Just a quick post showing a quick render of the latest modeling project. Haven't got a name just yet. Names can be tricky, they can skew a characters personality. Any thoughts or suggestions? This guy will have a guitar slung on his back and will be carrying a shotgun or a henry rifle. I had thought about giving him a New Mexican name on account of his being created on the centennial.

Note: He is standing with his arms out because I have not rigged him with a skeletal system yet. His stance is a basic symmetric modeling pose. He is not getting ready for a gun battle.

Posted later, I built a quick skeletal system, gross movement only. Here he is with his arms down.