Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Driving

The view from our apartment after last night's snow fall

I have tried a few times in the past few weeks to contribute to this blog but every time I begin to write an entry I get bored with myself and stop. You will be glad that I didn't post any of my most recent compositions. They went a little something like this "Today I put a load of darks in the wash. Luke ate 47 times. I am very tired."

It is a cold snowy day here in Kansas. I have our thermostat set to island temperature so that I can still wear shorts at my leisure. Acutally, I am super paranoid about Luke being too cold so I make sure our apartment feels like it sits directly on the equator. Do you know what direction our toilets would flush? Me neither. Anyway, Luke sweats a lot.

Last night I decided to tackle some Christmas shopping. I geared up and exited our apartment. To my surprise it was snowing. I thought, "This is great! What perfect weather for holiday shopping!" Then I thought, "I've never driven in snow, I wonder if it's difficult? (The answer is yes) I've driven in a hurricane so this should be a breeze. (foolish)"

I realize that driving in snow is a competition to see who can drive the slowest. I won. Wait, no. I came in 2nd. I was grateful to the person who won because If they had not been driving 35 MPH below the speed limit, I would have certainly hit them when I did a 180 and wound up facing against the flow of traffic. Fortunately I was only going 15 MPH so I just bounced off a curb and didn't hurt the car. The car that I just avoided hitting also hydroplaned which I may have been responsible for since I think they broke suddenly when they saw me drifting. So, we're good friends now. A bit shaken and teary, I called Joel for support. I decided, only 5 snow-driving minutes away from my destination, that I better just turn around and idle home with my hazard lights on and never drive again. I understand now that the term, "Florida Ice" was coined by someone who doesn't know what the word "ice" means.

As an end to our evening, Joel asked me "If I always cried a lot or if it was just since we've been married." I don't cry a lot. He cries a lot.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NFL game

The players were frozen like this until spring.

I went to my first NFL game this weekend. The Chiefs were playing the Broncos and Dr. Durrie asked me if I wanted to join him. If Durrie asked me to join him in sitting on a block of ice in a walk-in freezer and focus on something incomprehensible for two hours, I would do it. Hyperbole? No, it was very very cold and football is harder for me to understand than Bob Dylan lyrics.

Durrie said that I should "bundle up" because it was going to be cold, so I wore a coat. Midway through the second quarter (for the uninitiated, a "quarter" in football equals 1000 minutes), I realized "bundling up" means a different thing in Kansas than it does in Florida. My bones hurt. When he asked if I was cold, I said, "Nnnnn." Then I asked if they make the football out of some kind of shatter-resistant material.

The Chiefs lost. They lost bad. Everyone in the stands booed their own quarterback at several points. It takes a lot of emotional fortitude to be the Chiefs' quarterback. After a fumble at the end of the third quarter, Durrie asked if I wanted to go. I tried to say that I was the only person in the stadium that wanted to leave more than our quarterback, but I said, "Nnnnn."

I love hanging out with Dr. Durrie. On the way home, he said more wise things than most people say in their whole life. He knows more about refractive surgery than probably anyone in the world, and I want to know that much too. What would you do to spend time with someone from whom you have that much to learn? I'd watch football in the freezing cold.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

fun week

Hard to get a post in this week. That is how a fence maker might also begin a blog. For him it would be a double entendre. For me, it is just the one entendre. We are busy folks, but it is all good busy. Lizzy continues to raise Luke to be a good, strong, wise man. She finally got to nap while he napped yesterday and was a new woman. She might even beat this cold that has been harder to get rid of than an unwanted piece of glitter on your face.

For me, the doc that runs the pre and post op clinics at Durrie Vision is off for the week, so I get to do that all week. I love, love doing this. Weeks like this week confirm for me 100% that Hunter Vision is exactly the way I am supposed to spend the rest of my life. As you can imagine, there is a little suspicion of me when I walk in a room to see a patient expecting to see Dr. Durrie, because it is his name on the building. But it has become clear over the course of the last 5 months that, more than anything, people just need to know that you know what you're doing. If that is established, everyone is happier. And if that doesn't work, I tell them that my name is on the other side of the building.

Josh and Lauren get here today. That's my brother-in-law and his girlfriend from California. I enjoy them both immensely (though I've only ever met Lauren through Facebook). They are much much cooler than me, so I am going to have to buy a pair of high tops or a Criss Cross CD or whatever it is cool people do now. Ed Hardy shirts? I don't know. Anyway, I'm excited. I finished this in a rush because I am leaving for work now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

no words

Early early days.

That title for this blog is obviously a lie, as there are a lot of words written here. But today was just one of those days where words seem like they fall a little short of capturing the enormity of the events unfolding around us. Until today, Hunter Vision was a wonderful idea of a way that Josh and I would use our gifts to change the world around us for the better. I thought how great it would be if we provided all the stuff I learned in this last decade and a half in a way that made God happy, and Josh figured out a way to make that into a pretty amazing business model. We just sat around for an hour or so a day for the last four years talking it over (Lisa took that picture up above of this two years ago). But until today, it was just a beautiful dream.

Today, though, we completed the final paperwork to secure the loan that will bring Hunter Vision into existence for the rest of the world to enjoy, too. It is just almost too good to be true. All we can see from here to the horizon is a lifetime of prayer and hard work doing something we love. Who could ask for something better than that?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Man time

I just told him the ending of The Sixth Sense

A lot of times, in the evening I'll take care of Luke so that Lizzy can try to get a short nap before she goes to bed for the night for a series of short naps. It is a good time for Luke and I to talk about hunting, stare very wide-eyed at each other, review medical dictation software, work on our neck muscle strength... whatever we want. It is man time.

But tonight poor Lizzy hasn't slept at all because she has a cold. She's been in our bedroom for an hour and a half with the lights off clearing her throat and sniffing every 2 minutes. Maybe she's just having a dream where she is trying to get someone's attention who smells good. I hope so because she really, really needs some sleep. When I got home today, she looked like a very beautiful walking dead person. A mombie. That's a mom that's a zombie. And that's a boke.*

In other news, Lizzy and I signed off on all the final paperwork for the loan for Hunter Vision today. Friday, Josh does his signing at the bank (of the papers, not sign language), and it is official! It is nothing short of a miracle that Josh has been able to pull this off. Thanks to him, Hunter Vision will now have vim, vigor, and money. Before, we just had the first two. Big things to talk about during man time tonight!

* Bad joke.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

old video

Since we haven't posted in a while, we thought we'd go through old videos of Luke (I guess not that old) and try to find one of him doing a cartwheel or inventing bifocals. Instead, we found this one from the night before he was born.

I was barefoot and the couch was closer than I thought.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I haven't written a blog since the birth of our son for fear that all I would talk about was how tired I am. I will say this, what they say about never sleeping once you have a newborn is not propaganda. I haven't slept longer than about a 2 hour stretch since he came into our lives. I will also say I have never been so content to be so sleep deprived.

As a new parent I find I have transformed into a person I never thought I'd be. I relish in every bit of minutia related to our son. I celebrate every milestone. Even ones that aren't actual milestones, just things Luke does. The other day he peed all over the bathroom mirror. I think he was writing his name. In cursive. What a boy.

Here's an actual milestone: rolling over

Ever since the moment we heard his cry, we have been madly in love with this little boy who spends his time robbing us of sleep and requiring a lot of laundering of tiny clothes. It is amazing how much we can love another person. What they say about the love you feel for your child, also not propaganda. Seeing him and experiencing love as a parent has given me a tiny glimpse of how our Creator must love us. What an awesome and humbling thing to behold.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Between my trip to California and Lizzy's not sleeping for two weeks, we haven't updated much. I thought I'd recap the last few days.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting was in San Francisco this weekend. On the way to the airport, I realized I forgot an important lecture on a flash drive and tried to do a U-turn (at a very safe and low traffic area, Mom) on the highway. My front wheels immediately sank in median mud up to the axles. After realizing that spinning my wheels and sending mud hundreds of feet in front and behind me wasn't going to work, I had an idea that seemed really logical at the time (but much more irrational in hindsight). I got out of the car and tried to lift the front of it out of the mud like an adrenaline-powered mother lifting a car off a child. I made terrific weightlifter noises and lifted with all my might. Instead of lifting the car, I drove myself into the mud like a slow nail. The highway patrol came by and called a tow truck that winched me out of the muck. I made it to the airport, but by then I looked like I had just escaped from prison.

The academy meeting was fine. It is fun to hang out with the ophthalmology superstars from around the world, but I missed Lizzy and Luke a lot. It was the first meeting that Lizzy couldn't join me. Josh came to the last big meeting with me and that was also much better. All the ophthalmic sales people in the world come to prey on people like me when Josh isn't there. I won't go into details, but I'll just say that a lot of vendors for products that I'll never use have my email address now. That includes a salesman for an automated telemarketing system (really).

I'm home with my wife and boy again, and I am so glad. Luke grew 18 inches while I was gone and read all of The Grapes of Wrath. He says he didn't understand the symbolism, though. Alright, decreasing coherence in the last paragraph signals its time for my sign off. Lizzy is feeding Luke and I'm going to spend some family time before we all go to bed (for 20 minutes).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parent-colored glasses

That is supposed to be a play on the term "rose-colored glasses," but it doesn't really work now that I see it written out. What would that even mean? That's not a color. There is no "parent" colored crayon even in the really big box. What a ridiculous digression to begin this blog. I am up later than I have been in a long time. Luke's a night owl.

The point is that we are realizing that being a parent endows you with a unique view of your child. Lizzy and I think it is obvious after one week of life that Luke is talented to a superhuman degree. It has a lot to do with us being his parents, since his main skill set at this point is wiggling. We were really hoping to get video of him smiling meaningfully tonight, or maybe saying a few wise words. We failed. Here is a video excerpt of him not smiling.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

less sleep


Pretty much, Lizzy doesn't sleep anymore. Luke wakes up in the middle of the night more than once and asks to eat. I roll over and incoherently ask if she wants me to drive him to Subway, and she dutifully gets up and goes and feeds him appropriate nutrition. I've never gotten to see my wife work this hard. I'm not sure I've ever gotten to see anyone work this hard. But she's done the whole deal with a smile on her face. I mean a literal smile. What a woman.

It's taken a while to write anything because our schedules are a wee bit different now. I hesitated to write even this, because I worried that Lizzy might get more advice on how raise Luke differently. People like to tell you child-rearing tips. "Oh, put him to bed with a live hamster" "Never let him sleep without adult-sized sunglasses on" "Put him in a large, open Bible each night." We don't know which tips are the right ones, so we just stick to the books we read.

We are so happy, though. Neither of us knew we could love anything the way we love this guy. This really is the best time of our entire lives. I can't wait to tell Lizzy about it later because I'm not sure she will be able to remember as much of it on six minutes of sleep a night.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh Happy Day

Somehow, Lizzy looks like this after surgery.

After a long night, daylight is starting to creep in through the window. Luke is taking another crack at trying to figure out how to eat and doing an amazing job. He is a genius. Yesterday his temperature was a little low, but he has persevered and gotten it to 98.2. Incredible. He is like Rocky Balboa. I couldn't possibly have imagined 24 hours ago that I would be this proud of a floppy 6-pound human, but I am. We love this young man more than we knew we could.

Look at how great it is when he yawns! What a boy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Luke is Here!!!

Guest Blogger: Brother, Brother in-law, Uncle etc... Josh Hunter

Lizzy did great! Luke is healthy...all is well. Joel and Lizzy are resting and the rest of the Hunter posse that is here in Kansas is just hanging out in various places around town. It's colder than an "I don't know what" here. Luke is awesome. He pretty much just sleeps and makes noises like a tree frog so far. Here are a few pics I am sure you would all like to see...

Lizzy loves her new boy...

Eyes wide open...

A family pic...

Pop and Grandma...

Family of 3!

All for now. Keep praying for Joel and Lizzy and baby Luke...the journey has just begun.

-Josh out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4 AM wakeup

What our house looks like at 4am

I've been up since 4 thanks to the little man who decided to press on some nerve that causes acute pain. I guess I can't blame him since he doesn't really realize he's living inside another human being. Actually, he might. I expect that he is very intellectually advanced.

I can hear our next door neighbors' baby crying right now which gives me a sampling of what I'm trading for the freedom to sleep on my stomach. Although, I don't expect that Luke will cry much since he will probably be born fluent in 5 languages. I hope one of them is English.

Tomorrow's the great gettin' up morning. Also, it's our niece Ella's birthday. Happy Birthday Ella! (I'll say it again tomorrow) What a great day for our son to be born.

What I look like at 4am

Sunday, October 11, 2009

At home

These are our last few nights at home before Luke gets here. I used to think that maybe parents became parent-like after they had children, but it turns out that the metamorphosis begins before that. Lizzy and I make videos now with the new camera so that we can show Luke when he's old enough to understand them (3 months old). Our lives revolve around a kid we haven't met yet, as evidenced by this video.

Growing up, you never realize how cool your parents were before they were your parents. We decided to take video evidence of us pre-Luke to show him. I think we may have actually accomplished the opposite of our goal.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My life lately

I realize I have done a poor job of contributing to this blog lately and I will say it's mainly because I haven't done anything worth writing about. I have spent my days completing fairly mundane tasks. Many in preparation for Luke's arrival. Many because it's just good hygiene.

I washed and folded laundry. See, boring. I ate oatmeal for breakfast. See, boring. It was strawberry flavored. Slightly less boring. I put too much water in it. Boring again.

Tuesday Joel and I went to Babies'R'Us to go on a massive baby supply shopping spree. I would tell you what we purchased but some of their names are embarrassing to type/read. I have to say the shopping trip was less unpleasant than we had originally expected. I have often compared said store to purgatory so you can understand why we weren't looking forward it.

At the end of our shopping experience we were helped by a kind, grandmotherly woman named Marta. She was our favorite part of Babies'R'Us. We even considered asking her to be our new best friend. We ended up deciding against it because we both have a fear of rejection. Maybe next time.

Yesterday I had a car seat inspected. That was a sobering event. Generally my car contains lots of empty soda bottles and dog hair. Never anything that attaches me to real responsibility. I went to the Olathe Police Department to have it checked. I was a little scared since historically speaking, police officers have never been especially kind to me. I figured that the officers who inspect car seats would be in extra low spirits because somehow the job that trained them to correctly operate a fire arm had landed them in the rain, looking inside the cars of pregnant women. I just assumed they would write me a ticket as soon as I got there for unkempt hair or a wrinkly sweater. They are usually good at coming up with reasons to write those.

I was pleasantly surprised that the two officers were extremely nice to me. They didn't ask me if I knew how fast I was going or tell me that they have the authority to take me to jail. Nope, they just asked me when I was having the baby, told me that the car seat was secure, and wished me luck. I guess being pregnant is a some sort of mutant ability that makes people who aren't usually nice to you, nice to you. I think I'm going to start carrying a prosthetic belly in my car from next Wednesday on just as a precautionary measure.

In case you are wondering what the rest of my day holds, I am going to wash baby clothes in some sort of detergent that is supposed to keep them from breaking out in a rash. Then I might go to the dry cleaners or even vacuum. Who knows. The world is my oyster.

Our fireplace

But the fire is so delightful.

Our fireplace is working now. The apartment complex fix-it man came and jerry-rigged a flue opener with a wire hanger. Our fix-it guy is MacGyver. He also showed us a way that we can hang up our clothes using old flue openers.

We bought a few bundles of wood from the grocery store and we've had a fire every night for four nights now. We don't have any kindling, so I have been rolling up entire ophthalmology journals and using them instead. I'm pretty sure that the reason you're not supposed to do that is that it fills your entire fireplace with very tall piles of ash. The fire sits higher each night because I pile the journals and wood on top of the ash from the night before. It will just be in our chimney soon. I should clean it, but I am procrastinating because I don't think it will be fun at all, and I think I will come out of it looking like a cartoon cigar blew up in my face.

But it has all been well worth the hassle. It makes our home very peaceful in the evenings, and we know that peaceful nights are about to be in short supply when the little man gets here. While the fire is glowing and it is cold and dark outside, Lizzy and I enjoy the last few nights of quiet for us as parents, and Luke enjoys his last few nights of quiet as a baby. It's good family time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I panicked

You know part of why I think Hunter Vision will be great instead of just good? Division of labor. One of our key tenets going into this is to only let people do the job they were born to do, and try to keep the other stuff away from them. That means all medical decisions are mine, all business decisions are Josh's. He just said yesterday, "I would love it if you never had to talk to a sales person, but just told me what we needed and I handle it." I would love it too, because business conversations are as fun to me as watching The View or getting a calf cramp. I have no business sense.

Any doubt of that was shattered yesterday. At 5:30 pm, I got a phone call from an unknown number. I don't want to miss it if it is a patient, so I answer. I hear, "Hello Joel, it's Chad Blaine Maplethorpe (or some other businessy name), from the (funding company I can't remember). Can I talk to your for a moment?" Oh no, I thought. I hate these conversations. I hate them. I tried to bob and weave. "Sure, but let me give you a disclaimer at the beginning, my brother handles all the business stuff. I can fix eyes, but I really don't know anything about money." Well, I might as well have poured chum all around me. This man makes his living off pressuring people who don't know enough to make good choices. He can sense someone like me who tips 150% for a bad haircut just so he can stay friends with the Great Clips lady.

He asked me a series of pointed questions, and I finally said he really should talk to my brother because I wasn't going to be helpful, and I just want to help, and I think we really could be best friends if we'd met in a different life. "Oh sure, can I have your brother's number?" And I start thinking, "Oh man, I don't think Josh would want this guy to call him. This guy should just wait for Josh to call. I can't give him Josh's number." So I said, "Sure! Uhh, hmmm, oh wait, I don't have it." And he says, "You don't have your brother's cell phone number?" What a ludicrous lie to tell! Who would possibly believe that? But I say, "No, oh wait, let me look, oh, no I don't." Ridiculous.

In full panic and confusion, I had no idea what I was saying. I just started compulsively lying. I wondered during my morning prayers if you are allowed to plead insanity to God. Either way, it is clear to me that part of what will be great about Hunter Vision is that Josh and I are strong where the other is weak. I'd like to think he would panic if someone asked him to lift a 100 micron flap on a cornea and ablate the eye underneath it with a laser. Ask me to do that, and we're good. Ask me to buy the instrument to lift the flap, and I will likely tell you I would but I'm deaf and you should talk to my brother but he's on a space mission right now.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

new camera

Tonight, Lizzy and I got our new camera up and running in preparation for Luke getting here. This is the first movie I took with her. I said, "watch how we can do slow motion movies!" and started going, "blah bloo blah blee" without explaining to her what I was doing. She thought I was taking a picture. I am posting this purely for her reaction in the last second.

Lizzy's reaction to crazy

O frabjous day!

What a day yesterday was! My brother Josh, the great wizard, managed to get us the money that we need to start Hunter Vision. It has been months of work, and years of planning to get to this point, but my brother, the first man in space, has gotten us off the ground. I spent half my life dedicated to training for this clinic, but had no way on earth to see this through. That is until my brother, the inventor of mathematics, brought it all together. Without him, Hunter Vision would have been me with a laser pointer, making a buzzing sound with my mouth.

Then my wife, the queen of beauty, dropped a bombshell. (I mean a figurative bombshell. She wasn't literally carrying old artillery shells from my souvenir collection and then dropped one. I don't even have a collection like that. This is unnecessary parenthetical distraction, I realize now.) "Joel," she said, "Kaci is going to come to Kansas two weeks after the birth and I want you to go on the hunting trip with your brothers. You really need a vacation." An incomprehensible piece of news. What nine-month pregnant woman says something like that? No one has ever heard that without it being followed by, "and let me get a pillow for you. And bring you a drink. Comfortable? (smile disappears in a scary way) You are a jerk. I have a baby in me, and you are a stupid jerk who doesn't know how uncomfortable it is to be pregnant."

I got no follow up like that from my wife. She's seen that I'm all stressed out and genuinely offered for me to go on the annual Hunter brother hunting trip. What a lady. She is all that is kind and pure and right in the world. I am married to pure sunlight. I love her.

So Hunter Vision will be the wonderful place we hoped it would, and I will soon be in a tree stand soaking in a beautiful northern Ohio November. God is good. Josh already wrote about all this, but it is the type of news that deserves to be told twice. If you want to be in a great mood, read this blog and his back to back. If you want a secret message, read every other word of his blog alternating with every other word of mine.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Before the race. Mom: the beverage to my right belonged to the man taking this picture.

I went to my first NASCAR race this weekend, which as I understand it, stands for National American Sports Car American Racing. My boss Dr. Durrie asked if I wanted to go to the weekend NASCAR race with him. I idolize this man. To get an idea of what it was like to be invited to spend time with him outside of work, imagine being 12 years old and being invited to hang out with the Jonas brothers (if you are a girl) or Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter (if you are a boy) or Billy Ray Cyrus (if you are a NASCAR fan).

To get ready on Saturday morning, I put on jeans and a sweat shirt and a camo hat with a deer on it. I kind of worried I would look like I was trying too hard, until I got out of the car. I honestly saw men in full camo, as if they had just climbed down out of deer stands to attend this event. Walking into the speedway, there were huge trailers, each of them dedicated to a single driver. The trailers had huge, 10-foot pictures of these drivers looking very stern, with their arms on their hips. And NASCAR drivers are very light sensitive, so they wear sunglasses in every picture.

One of these is a real driver, and one is me.

The race itself was great. I sat next to Durrie for three hours. You can't really talk during the race because it is so loud that you have to wear big giant ear protectors like you would see at a shooting range. Every now and then, Durrie would tap me on the shoulder (I'd smile and wave hoping he wouldn't ask me to take off the headphones) then he'd motion for me take off the headphones (it was like getting punched in the ear by screaming engines), then he'd lean over and say what sounded like, "Bwar gaffen a stall bregner haddle!" It was too loud to have any idea what these words were supposed to be. I'd look to see if he was smiling or serious and then say "HA!" or "geez!" accordingly.

All in all, it was a fine day. Durrie and I filed out of the stands with 80,000 good people who love Jesus and love NASCAR, though not always in that order. On the drive home, he and I talked about Hunter Vision, and I was glad. Mostly because he is a better resource than anyone else I could ever find, but also because it is very possible that he was starting to think I was an idiot savant when he was sitting next to me at the race. I'd say I came out even on the day.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Throw Another Blog on the Fire

The morning mist is lifting and our house is just starting to warm past 40 degrees (fahrenheit, although 40 degrees celsius would be uncomfortable also). Last night did not go as planned.

As autumn in Kansas is settling in, the weather is cooling and it seemed like the perfect time to christen the fireplace in our apartment. Although it's not as cold as the locals love to tell me it is going to get, "You're from Florida?!" they say. "Good luck this winter!" Then I come back with something very clever and pithy. "Good luck every day!"

So last night we had weather that we would normally see in a Florida winter. We decided to go to the store and buy some bundles of fire wood and the makings for s'mores. It seemed like the perfect way to spend a Friday evening.

Joel, the veteran fire builder in our household found the perfect kindling (I believe it was the pages of a Foreign Affairs magazine) and prepared to ignite. Flue open, check. That's really all I know you check for when lighting a fire. Anyway he did and the flue was definitely open. As Joel proceeded to light the pages filled with information about the economic state of the Soviet Union (it was an old issue), our apartment proceeded to fill with smoke. Joel checked again. Flue open, check. It wasn't acting open, but either way we pushed the lever it produced the same result, smoke billowing into our apartment.

Within seconds we had a roaring fire going with the smoke detectors confirming its presence. Joel, with his super-human pain tolerance began pulling flaming logs off the fire as I turned on the stove fan, pulled my sweatshirt over my face and yelled, "My eyes, my eyes!" I then grabbed the dog and ran out onto the porch. I am not very cool-headed in a crisis. Joel dismembered the smoke detectors and finished extinguishing the fire.

As it was too cold for us Floridians to stay outside, we took refuge in our less smokey bedroom with the windows open and the fans blowing. Instead of a night of warming up to a cozy fire, there we sat on the floor of our room, shivering and feeding the dog the graham crackers intended for our s'mores (an effort to put meat on her bones before winter. I hear they are bad here. "Just wait," they tell me. "YOU just wait." That's what I say to them.) We had to sleep with the windows open and our house still smells like a camp fire. I woke up this morning to Joel covering our dog with blankets because she looked cold. It was very cute. Now I am going to call the apartment office and tell them there are some flaws with the engineering of our fireplace. They will probably tell me about how bad Kansas winters are.

Friday, October 2, 2009

slow morning

This is why Yosemite Sam never got anything done.

I got up at 5 this morning just like I was supposed to. I came to this dining room table an hour and a half ago and opened this MacBook to write a blog. The blog writing thing is supposed to gently transition me out of dead-to-the-world sleep Joel into ready-for-the-day morning Joel. But no thoughts would come to my head this morning. My brain was firing one, maybe two neurons a minute. If someone jumped out to scare me, I wouldn't have yelled and fallen out of my chair until a good two minutes afterward. Which would serve them right, because I bet that would scare them.

I think I blew myself out with yesterday's rage over sitting in an observation chair for nine hours. Rage might be a strong word, since mine is mainly cartoonish. I rarely get actually "ugly angry" except for when my sports teams are losing at their games of sports they are playing. But either way, it was a stupid way for me to expend my energy. Self-pity and/or self-righteousness (they are strikingly similar) make you both unhappy and ineffective. People should at least choose one or the other of those to be.

Finally, I watched "Private Practice" with Lizzy for the first time last night. In case you've never seen it, just imagine this line being said in a hundred different ways for an hour and you won't have missed a thing: "Don't you understand? I'm a doctor. I save people...(looks down at his hands pensively)...but I can't save her. But it's my job. I am a doctor. (takes off white coat)...But I'm a person, too. And a doctor." There, now you're all caught up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


On Wednesday nights I volunteer helping out with something called Awana at my church. It's sort of like youth group for little kids. It makes me feel nostalgic because I myself used to attend Awana as a youth. Every Wednesday night I would say to my neighborhood friend(s), "Can't play tonight, I have to go to Awana." Then they would say, "What? You're going to marijuana?!" and laugh really hard. I would laugh too although I had no idea what they were talking about. I was home-schooled.

I help out with a group called the Cubbies. They range in age from 3 to 5. The name fits well because they are all cute as buttons. They come into the Cubby class to hear a story, play games and receive stickers for Bible verses they've memorized. Also, as of tonight they participate in a pretty lengthy name calling session (to me exclusively). I think I was berated as a "giggle belly," a "baseball hitter," and an "elephant." I try to pretend that last one was directed toward my lengthy eyelashes and not my girth.

My favorite part of the whole evening is when kids who haven't memorized their verse try to "wing it." I say, "Do you know your Bible verse?" Then they just stare. Then I say, "It's Genesis 1:1.... it starts with 'God created'...." This is when I see the light bulb go off in their head and they say, "God created toys and spiderman and my mom and dad...." I think that still deserves a sticker but I stick to the curriculum.

Spending time with these little ones has really made me thankful that we are getting our parenting feet wet with a little boy. Both Joel and I have grown up with brothers so we both feel more confident about raising a male human. I generally find that little boys are quite rambunctious while little girls tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves. I still haven't figured out how a child can go from happy in one moment to hysterically crying within the blink of an eye. I usually don't know what to do so I pretend I hear my name being called. "What?" I say. "Yeah, I'll be right there.....*to crying four-year-old* sorry, I've gotta go...someone needs me on the other side of the room." Usually a couple seconds later she returns to her euphoric little girl state so I don't feel too terrible about abandoning her during her crisis. As I am reading this, I realize I wont be writing a parenting book anytime soon.

I was not in the saddle

Just as an update, today was not what I thought it would be. It was a giant pile of what Ava was singing about (but not nearly as cheerful). I sat on a stool and was the official eye dropper holder for nine hours. I worked with a big shot surgeon today. I thought he would know I was ready to bring it Florida-style in the operating room. I forgot the first rule of medical training: "No one cares about your laurels, bozo. Old doctors can make you do whatever they want." So he said, "Today, I will do all the surgeries, and then you can do all the paperwork in between the cases, and also the dictations after each case." Then I said, "Hahaha!" And then he just looked at me and I realized he was serious. Then I told him he looked like Millard Fillmore and not in a good way.

You might be thinking, "I bet that bothers you a lot because you're such a big deal." And I'd like to tell you that humility is a wonderful gift if we learn to cultivate it and that I realized today that it is fulfilling to just help in even menial ways if it is for a worthy goal. I'd like to say those things, but Lizzy or Josh might write a blog and tell you all the things I really said on the phone on the way home. I used crazy, made up words that I haven't yelled since the last time I changed a tire. It was a terrible day. There have been hundreds of days like this since I started college. Going through the steps to open your own clinic is not like climbing a ladder as much as it is like standing on the bottom rung for 13 years and learning more and more, and then blinking and ending up at the top when it is done. I get to blink in nine months.

Back in the saddle

Tampa General

That was me a year ago at Tampa General. Today is my first day of cataract surgery since I moved to Kansas. I've been doing only LASIK at the Durrie Vision office until now. I don't know exactly how to get to the hospital, where the OR is once I get there, where my first patient is, or how to log in to the computer system once I find my first patient. I have worn the same "Durrie Vision outfit" every day to work for the last three months, which is a striped shirt that says Durrie Vision with black pants and shoes, so it is my first time wearing a tie in three months as well. Somehow, my neck grew since I started working out up here, so I can't even approximate buttoning my collar. For the first time since I was 14, my neck is bigger than 12 inches. Or maybe this shirt shrunk.

But it will all be alright once I get into the operating room. I know that place. It makes me happy. It is peaceful and calm there. I feel God's pleasure in the OR. Pray for the cataract surgery patients today if you think of it, I'll be doing the same thing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


A little piece of my latest excel data entry session.

The annual meeting for the American Academy of Ophthalmology is coming up in a month. Every year, around 15,000 ophthalmologist from all over the world descend on a city to learn from the luminaries in the field and to show that same city how to really party. You can't swing a stick without hitting a man in a tweed coat telling a hilarious story about his latest antics involving ocular coherence tomography interpretation. "So I said...what of it? Why don't we just reverse the polarity if she can't keep her forehead against the headrest!!!" (huge guffaws from all around)

The AAO meeting has different meaning for me this year. Dr. Durrie (the man I moved here to work with) is one of those luminaries that people are coming to hear. It means that for six days, he will not stop giving presentations, holding meetings, or presiding over board meetings. It also means that for the last few weeks, I have been filling in excel spreadsheets, creating power point presentations, and coordinating with meeting, well, coordinators. It is hundreds of hours of work. It is tedious to the extreme. But it is part of the process.

I've got to take a moment to sit back and enjoy the fact that I get the privilege of creating power points and compiling analyses that people are flying half way around the world to see. I was one of those people two years ago. It is really easy for me to get downcast when I'm not actively in surgery or with patients in clinic, but this is all part of the process. There is a lot of tedium on the way to doing great things. Everyone I've ever talked to that did anything worthwhile says the same thing. And I bet they all thought their work was pretty uninspiring at the time, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trying to get up early like Pop does

This is me this early. It is not attractive.

Up at 5 a.m. this morning. I've made at least a dozen tries to get in the habit of getting up at 5 in order to make the day a little longer, and to get a little more done. That means that I've failed to make it a habit that many times. Mark Twain used to say that giving up smoking was the easiest thing in the world, and he knew it because he'd done it thousands of times. That's how I am with deciding that I will start getting up at 5.

I've spent the majority of my adult life trying to improve my self discipline by emulating my father in different ways. I don't know if I can remember a time that I ever woke up before Pop when I was growing up. Even morning when I would get up at 4:30 for a fishing trip, Pop was already making coffee, or was upstairs spending quiet time with God. It has been inspiring to watch him my whole life. Almost all the pressure I feel to do great things is from watching him live a life of discipline and realized potential, and not from him saying it directly.

I think I'm really serious when I wake up this early in the morning. I guess morning is a somber time for me. I'll end by saying this weekend was fun. Went to a Royals game, post op clinic Saturday morning, zoo Saturday afternoon, Blues festival on Saturday night. We saw the Blind Boys of Alabama sing. Lizzy got their signatures on a CD afterward.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Growing Out (and up)

This is what I look like now

I realize that our profile picture is a bit deceiving. I am no longer shaped like I was in that photograph. I have evolved into some sort of more geometric figure with the semblance of legs and arms. We are now 18 days away from young Luke Hunter's arrival and I have been becoming increasingly anxious about parenthood. It is a very sobering thought to know that in a matter of weeks, we will be solely responsible for a human life outside of our own.

At one time I had found solace in the fact that I have kept our dog alive for seven years but I hear that babies are very different from canines. For one, they have thumbs. And there are a couple more that I can think of but won't bore you with. My confidence however is waning after yesterday I forgot to feed our dog completely. She is still alive though so that's good. And I have heard that babies are more vocal about being hungry. That is another difference from our dog who just stares at us which, in my defense, could mean many things.

As under prepared as I feel, I'm so excited to meet this young man who has been simmering away for the past 8.75 months. Right now it is hard to imagine what it will be like to see him face to face. I think he will be very handsome and burly. I also think that he will be very good at math. He will be born knowing formulas like 4/3 (pi)(r) cubed. Ironically, that is also the formula to find the volume of my current body type.

I am so thankful for this little one that God has given us. And I am equally thankful for a husband that will be an amazing father and will probably leave "Don't forget to feed the Luke" notes around the house to help me. I am so blessed to get to join him on this roller coaster called parenthood whether or not I feel like I meet the height requirement. Those are rough estimations anyway.


3rd inning.

Lizzy and I went to a baseball game last night. The Kansas City Royals were playing the Minnesota Twins. It was my first professional baseball game and it was a great time. I realized once again that I lack some sort of natural sports competition drive that most men have. People behind us started singing that "here we go, (name of batter), here we go!" for one guy and then the guy in front of us starting yelling "strike out!" whenever there was a beat pause in their chant. I looked at Lizzy and said, "I'm uncomfortable." But apparently I have a low threshold for conflict because I was the only one who thought it would escalate, and I'm glad because we were right in between them and I'm pretty sure it would have ended with beer getting dumped on us.

We had to leave a little early because I have Saturday clinic this morning. I just looked up the score and the Twins won. Probably an advantage with twins always knowing what the other one is thinking without having to say anything. That is a special bond.

Friday, September 25, 2009

If blogs were logs, I'd be a blumber jack.

With almost all the people I care about now blogging, I was inspired to get back into the swing of things and fire up the old blog again. It took me five minutes to remember our (our being Lizzy and me) account name and password. Then I spent 15 minutes trying to change our settings so that our blog would look attractive (I feel like Gollum saying "our" so much). The only theme that it uses is "old man learning to use a computer black font on white background theme." Then I tried to create links to other people's blogs, but couldn't figure out how to do it. Then I realized it didn't matter because the web address for our blog doesn't work anymore. And all this for the low price of $8.95 per month. So I looked at what Josh is using for his blog and joined it. Lizzy and I are blogspot people now, I just have to let her know that our new thing is that we really hate typepad.

The point of all this is that with Luke here in 19 days, and a free 30 minutes at lunch, it seemed like starting a new blog with Lizzy would be the right thing to do. I've got to get back to work. And later I have to tell Lizzy that we have a new blog and that we hate now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

State Fair

Our efforts to continue with the regular postings have been frought with difficulties, most recently by finding out that frought is not actually a real word. Besides that, we've had a lot of trouble keeping up because Lizzy will say, "let's write a blog!" and then I'll say, "maybe we should wait until tomorrow." I am a procrastinator, which is actually a Latin word that means "muscle man."

Lizzy and I went to the state fair last Monday. She has been asking me to go with her for three years now, but I always found a way out by saying I was busy our pretending to have a heart attack or throwing down a smoke bomb and disappearing. But by now, it was time to pay the piper (or more accurately, the surly bearded man in the Budweiser hat) and take her.

It is really hard to write about the fair because unless you are a really good writer, a good story depends a fair amount on exaggeration and it is very hard to exaggerate the fair. What can I say? "They fry Oreos, Snickers, and Pepsi!" But they actually do. "I was worried for my life because a man that I wouldn't let wash my 1998 Nissan Sentra was in charge of catapulting my wife and me 100 yards into the air on a giant rubberband!" But this is true as well. So I will just recount my three highlights.

First, Lizzy paid a dollar to see something hidden behind a curtain that had a sign that said, " See the Strange Thing. What is it? Soooo freaky! Beware! It will really make you think." It was Joey Fatone. Second, I ate the best corn dog I have ever eaten. If the man selling it had told me that the price was one year of my life (which is possibly also true), I think I still would have eaten it. Lastly, we got to feed oats to a bunch of goats and sheep and a buffalo. Although we might have contracted brucellosis (ha!) that might have been my favorite part of the evening. It is possible that I would have really enjoyed being a farmer. But only the part where you feed oats to animals once in a while, and I think there is more stuff to do than that. Like holding pieces of straw between your teeth.

I'm sure by this point everyone is wondering what the "Strange Thing" that "really made me think" was. I'm sure I wont be able to do it justice in my description but basically it was a creepy doll with a fish tank turned upside down over it. I don't think it was supposed to be a doll though. I think it was supposed to be some sort of shriveled human with a mermaid tail. I assume the fish tank was necessary to prevent people from touching it with their deep fried Twinky grease covered fingers. Relics depreciate rapidly with grease spots on them. The following is my conversation with the Strange Thing attendant.

Me: (holding out dollar)Hi. May I see your strange thing?
Keeper of the Strange Thing (KST): (Takes Dollar)Sure. (Leads me behind divider and reveals creepy doll in fish tank) This here washed up on shore in the 1940s. They think it was a result of some kind of nuclear testing on humans. It has a tail like a mermaid. Another one washed up after the tsunami. You can google it and see a picture. Just type in "tsunami mermaid." My girlfriend...she just left to go get something to eat...her grandfather found it.
Me: Alright.
(Awkward Pause)
Me: Thank you for letting me see your strange thing.
KST: Thank you for your dollar.

Joel and I had a wonderful time at the fair. We pet a few kids (that's what baby goats are called), ate a few foods on sticks and rode a few rides. Joel was kind to do this. He doesn't like rides that are held together by duct tape as much as I do.

At one point I payed a dollar to see, "The Smallest Horse You Will Ever See." Apparently it is "So Small You Can Hold It." This investment was a big disappointment. A better title would have been, "The Most Overweight Shetland Pony We Could Fit In This Smallish Cage."

Joel and I played a some games and actually did fairly well. We won a stuffed bear (not a real one), a stuffed dog (real) (no, I'm just kidding) and a framed picture of Barack Obama. I'm a bit disappointed in the quality of the dog. It's stuffed with styrofoam packing peanuts and smells like that stuff you use to clean your hands after fixing a car engine. Definitely not worth the $15 we spent on it.

To end our fun-filled night we rode something called the "Space Roller." It looked really fun because of its fancy lights and rock 'n' roll music. Mostly it just nauseated and disoriented everyone who rode it. When the ride ended, everyone staggered off the same way you are supposed to run away from an alligator. Some bent over and put their head in between their knees. Some parked on a bench and waited for the world to stop spinning. Some walked to their cars and rode home with their seat all the way back, trying not to repeat that bite of fried snickers they had that their mom would never have let them eat but she wasn't there to stop her! That was me. I did that. When I got home I threw up. Twice.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Couple's Blog

I am sitting here next to Lizzy and she said, "we should write a blog together right now!" And then I said, "okay." And then she handed me the computer. But I don't really know what I am supposed to write about. If it is possible to have an awkward pause at the beginning of a written page, that is what I am trying to convey. I am looking at my shoes and kicking my feet together in the dirt right now. Lizzy just said, "we could write about our dog." So I will put down some thoughts about her (the dog, not Lizzy).

I inherited our dog when I married Lizzy. Inherited might be the wrong word since it conveys that I got some kind of family heirlooms in the form of Whistler paintings or Intel stocks. Roxie is not like that at all. She is a dog that looks like a very tall and hairy legged serpent. She looks like a wiener dog with 36 inch legs and a perfectly triangular head because of very large bat-like ears. A profile portrait of her would look the exact same whether she was wearing a Revolutionary era tri-cornered hat or not. Also, she has gas that smells like she cooks eggs for herself and eats them while we are sleeping.

As you can see, Joel really loves our dog. I have to admit that his description of her, however unflattering, is quite accurate. If you can imagine what a dog who has lived in a junk yard for six years looks like, you are imagining a spitting image of Roxie. Only her head is, smaller still....are you picturing a continuation of a neck that comes to a point with nostrils on the end? Great, then that is exactly what she looks like.

Despite her aesthetic shortcomings, she really is a good animal. She sits when I say, "sit." She shakes when I say either, "shake," or "nice to meet you" (I thought that would be clever trick to teach her for when she first meets people. I realize now that very few people say "nice to meet you" when meeting a dog. Or probably any other four legged animal. They might say it to a monkey. I would. Especially if it was a monkey wearing clothes and one of those shriner hats.) I'm working on trying to teach her to not run away when she's outside but chances of that are slim. As Joel always says, "You can take the animal out of the wild but you can't take the wild out of the animal." He actually doesn't say that. He's clearly funnier than me so I thought I would throw a super lame joke in there and say he said it to even up the playing field.

It is true that our dog runs away as often as possible. One time she jumped out of my car in a crowded Publix parking lot and ran laps around the perimeter. I didn't know how to get her back so I just kept yelling, "Roxie, wanna go for a ride in the car?!?!," in a really high pitched panicky voice. Obviously she didn't want to go for a ride in the car. She had shown me that by jumping out of the car. This isn't a very good story. I know because Joel read it and said, "That's funny," without actually laughing. Not a good sign. I might pass the computer over to him now....

Our dog looks like a stray no matter how much we bathe her. She looks like a dog that you might see wander by in the background of one of those commercials for Christian Children's Fund. The End.
But not really because I want to tell one more joke!

A horse walks into a bar. The Bartender says, "Why the long face?!" Get it?! Because horses have long faces. And long face also means that you're sad. (Lizzy wrote those last parts. -Joel)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Joel and I started this blog together but today I realized that I have neglected my duties as co-blog-author. Three posts have been posted by Joel post my last post which tells me it's my turn. Post.

In the spirit of family, I feel inclined to also write about my brothers. Joel wrote one blog per brother but I think I will include all brothers in one blog to avoid committing to writing a trilogy. Is that really how you spell trilogy? It looks strange. Well, it's not underlined in red, so I'm keeping it.

This blog is not very good so far but I promise, what it lacks in entertainment value and grammatical correctness will be made up ten fold in word count and unnecessary comma usage. Oh and Presidential analogies. I really liked when Joel compared Josh to George Washington. Did you know in his youth, Josh Hunter chopped down his father's cherry tree with a hatchet?!

Unlike Joel, I am in the middle, upper echelon of my siblings. I have an older brother, Daniel, and two younger brothers, Joshua and Timothy (he goes by either Tim or Timothy James). As any good family counselor will tell you, Higher Birth Order = Power. Power = Best Seat By the TV and Best Seat By the TV = Near Sightedness, or at least that's what my grandma always told me. Is that right Honey?

From what I recall, growing up in the Ariza house was very similar to growing up on a battlefield. A battlefield where none of the soldiers had weapons. And there were only four soldiers, all of whom were home schooled. And the soldiers fought a lot over the Nintendo Entertainment System. And the soldiers didn't have uniforms. The boys wore Jamz and the girl wore her Y-Ball uniform almost every day. I don't know why.

I'm switching to a new analogy.

Daniel, or Old Honest Daniel as I've often referred to him, was the Abe Lincoln of our family due to both his skills with rail splitting and the most impressive facial hair growing abilities of my brothers. He doesn't care much for the theatre arts but I believe that will aid in his longevity. Daniel and I had a mutual disdain for each other growing up. He started it though. The only time I actually remember us being allies is once when our parents left us home alone and we watched Predator together. I think the dreadlocks on those monsters make them far less scary. Daniel taught me the ropes when it came to bullying younger siblings. One of the most vivid conversations I remember having with Daniel on an almost daily basis was:

(Daniel walks up to me sitting on the seat on the couch closest to the TV. It also reclined which is a key detail in understanding its value.)

Daniel: Get out of my seat or I will beat you up.

Me: Okay, but I hate you.

For some reason I never thought about how unlikely it would be that Daniel would actually "beat me up," but maybe that's because I knew how honest Daniel actually was. Like Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe Lincoln.

Josh, or Thomas Jefferson as we call him sometimes in blogs, was third in line and always had a girlfriend. Also, he was a staunch Democratic-Republican. I wasn't a very good older sister to have. I mostly would do things like give you hair cuts when you didn't need them and try to dress you up like a girl while you were still young and impressionable. When Josh was just a wee boy, maybe 5 or so, I put him in a tire swing and spun him so fast that all the blood vessels around his eyes burst and he had two shiners. True story.

Now Tim, the youngest of us, was a sweet kid. I was able to convince him to play Barbie Ice Cream Shop with me for a good couple of months until the other brothers let him know how uncool that was. They let him in on the Lego and Constructs bin to save him from an education in matching Barbie outfits. I didn't play much with Legos mostly because I "didn't play right." When discussions about my ability to "play right" escalated, I would occasionally release Barbie to level Lego Land. That didn't usually work to my advantage in convincing them to let me play with them.

Oh yeah, I would liken Timothy James to Andrew Jackson. Because they both have untamed luxurious hair.

There came a day in my life when I woke up to find that Daniel, Josh and T.J. had gone from being my arch-nemeses to being three of my dearest friends. I'm honestly surprised that they even speak to me at all after knowing me as a youth. This blog is only the tip of the iceberg of the horribleness that was Lizzy ages 8-15ish.

Daniel is now and an extremely talented web designer ( who just finished designing Summit's new website. Daniel, I'm sorry for destroying your mixed tape in 1991. My brother Josh, also an artist (, does apparel design for Billabong in California. Josh, sorry for the whole tire swing/black eyes thing. Teej, my youngest brother (, of whom I am super proud, is studying psychology at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Tim, I'm sorry for that time I was baby sitting you and dressed up like a dead person to try to scare you. That was very insensitive of me