Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Happy Pigs... update coming soon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Oh MY!

I just spent half of an hour looking through Ben's old links, trying to figure out his password and username and finally an old link signed me in automatically. I've tried a few other times to sign in - obviously unsuccessfully - and had come to the conclusion that I'd need to start up a new website. :) I guess not, but I fear people will probably drop dead of shock when they see something has been posted a mere 8 months since the last post.
I don't even know where to begin because it has been so long. I can't post pictures as it is now a complicated process that Ben started to explain to me once and I ended up deciding I'd just ask him to post pictures if I wanted to. But I will post pictures of the past 8 months (in progression even) once I figure out how to do it.
I think it may be a tad arrogant to assume you are all dying to know what has been going on for this long, but because I enjoy to type I will pretend the world has been on tiptoe and bated breath the whole time. :)
This past week has been busy with my Mom visiting and helping with the girls and chores. Unfortunately it has been raining the past 3 days so we weren't able to get as much done as we wanted to and the world here is a soggy, muddy mess. The up side is that I don't have to haul water to the pigs and the down side is that I have to use the dryer to dry clothes as the house is too cold to dry clothes. We haven't lit the pilot light in the furnace yet as it requires going on the roof to cover vents and such (and it still costs to run the pilot light and I'm being as frugal as possible these days).
We do have a wood stove sitting in the living room, but have to connect it. Ben was going to do it Saturday, but we had fun with unexpected company (unexpected til they phoned LOL), and then on Sunday every time he'd open stuff to get at the chimney, he would get a call and have to go to the clinic to sew up a dog or something similar. So I cut a hole in the roof and got covered in dust and found the joists in just the wrong place for the chimney, so we three had to analyse how we could remedy the situation without moving the stove out another foot and hogging up the middle of the living room. It is raining like crazy so I will just get the hole in the ceiling done and hope that it is only rafters, wood and shingles so I can use the support box instead of the other more complicated methods to installing a chimney. It will sure be nice to have heat as it can get awfully cold at this time of year without supplemental heating. It has gotten as low as 48F in the house but then I just roast a chicken or something to warm the house up.
Elise is crying as her sister just bumped a chair into her. . . I am convinced that she is either crying or laughing at something her sister does to her. She is pulling herself up on things and crawls at lightning speed to follow us around the house. We only have 2 rocking chairs for furniture in our living room, so when my Mom was asking me the other day if Elise pulled herself up on furniture, I said I was sure she would be doing it if we had furniture. She takes a few steps if you hold her fingers and has just decided that oatmeal is a delicious breakfast food instead of toast. Yesterday she got to taste Indian food for the first time and spent 20 minutes licking dahl off a huge wooden spoon. Emily didn't like the food initially, but when I gave her a bit of chapati to scoop up some dahl and rice, she lit into it with much gusto for anything tastes good when you get to eat it with your fingers. Well, the girls are hungry and even if it is raining there is lots to do and animals to feed, so I'll sign off for now.
Heather for Ben working way too hard these days, Emily sitting on the floor eating last night's cold popcorn, Elise crying for oatmeal, Franklet and Mocha curled up in a comforter because it is soo cold, Bobby, Inky and General looking miserable in the rain (they are supposed to be barn cats . . . .), Tia, Becky and Isabelle sleeping under the house skirting to stay warm (the dogs all turned into outside dogs and won't be lured into the house), Dan missing Tilly who is at the neighbor's but not bred and will inevitably end up being pretty hamburger, Terrence who is on his own in the barn and missing his lovely girls Wilma, Mattie, and Gwen who are not enjoying the rain, and the 5 Hutterite pigs sleeping in a pile in the rain and dreaming of getting out and "hogging" down on tomatoes. . . .

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Rain, sleet, hail, ice, and snow

I looked at the forecast on Friday, and found that we were in for quite a storm. On Saturday it started to rain, and then the temperature began to drop. Soon, the entire landscape was covered by a quarter inch of ice. This morning when we got up we were met with a lovely wintry wonderland. I'm not sure the men responsible for removing all the snow were as excited as we were, and indeed my zeal was dampened quite a bit after digging us out from under the wet and sloppy blanket covering our van, sidewalk, deck, and driveway. Nonetheless, this did not keep Emily and I from thoroughly enjoying tramping around, taking pictures, walking the dogs, and freezing our fingers. Heather has a bit of a cold, so she couldn't join us, but Elise didn't seem to mind the company :^).

Here's a view down one of the streets with the beautiful snow laden branches forming a sort of archway.

Nothing like iced fruit... har har

I thought this was interesting, a tennis court chain link fence was turned into a privacy screen overnight.

There were a lot of downed branches

These icicles made a neat fringe all around our deck railing

These are our wind chimes, covered in ice

These buds had just begun to form, it will be interesting if this little coat of ice will be enough to protect them. I've heard of fruit farmers purposely spraying water on their plants when frost is predicted for this purpose.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Sisters getting to know each other Emily loves to hold Elise and give her kisses The proud papa Elise all cozy in her blanket from Grandma Nila

Announcing... Elise Ruth Stegman

Ah yes, at long last, the information you've all been vying for... Elise Ruth was born at 1:35AM on Wednesday, the 14th of February, 2007 weighing 9.8lbs, and measuring 20.5 inches long. The labor was a difficult one, lasting about 35 hours due to Elise being occiput posterior in presentation (as was Emily). Thankfully in answer to prayer, Elise rotated to occiput anterior about a half hour prior to birth which hastened progress and greatly decreased Heather's pain level. We were surprised to find that Elise was coming posterior, since she had been anterior for the entire pregnancy. Just prior to labor beginning I had ausculted Elise's heart and was surprised to find that I could no longer hear the sounds in the location I had been able to for the last trimester. I could however detect the heart tones lower in the abdomen, but they seemed very far away compared to our experience. At the time I attributed this to the baby dropping further and her head engaging more firmly in the pelvic canal, but in retrospect I and the midwife realized that Elise had surreptitiously rotated just prior to labor beginning. We had a brief scare at the point of birth since Elise was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. But thanks to fervent prayers and a wonderfully skillful midwife we were able to slip the cord from around Elise's head, it had however been constricted long enough to make her quite blue about the gills. We had about a 20 second period (seemed like an eternity) where Elise was having difficulty establishing a normal respiratory pattern, but we are so thankful to our Heavenly Father overseeing everything with such infinite care- Elise was fine after we suctioned the mucus from her air ways and continues to breath well. I don't know that I ever had realized what a beautiful color pink is- lol. We are adjusting slowly to life with two children, I think the transition has been more difficult for Emily than for Heather and I. Emily really isn't the type to want to be held and carried all the time, but I think just realizing that the option is no longer readily available has had quite an impact. Things were going quite well, but about two days ago we noticed Elise's left eye was "glued" shut in the morning- I realized after further examination that we had a good old fashioned case of pinkeye on our hands- before long Emily also had the symptoms- and soon we had the report from our concerned family that one of theirs had come down with a case soon after visiting us. So we are working through a milieu of eye drops, warm compresses, tearful mornings, and grumpy little girls (and yes parents too)... pray for us (weak smile). Don't worry, it's not quite as bad as that sounds. I know all of you are waiting anxiously for pictures so I won't blather further. Ben

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It all started last week Wednesday... or "How I had a year of my life hacked off in three days"...

It all started last week Wednesday when a rumor tore through the school that the board results were in... then we all received a cryptic email from one of the administrators at our school- he said that the results for the national board exam had been received in Des Moines and we should be receiving our letters within the next several days. This of course plunged the entire student body into a frenzy of speculation and general misery... what it meant if you got a large packet vs a small envelope, whether it came certified or first class, whether it was a good thing to get your letter early or late... on and on ad nauseum went the discussion... the dull ache of uncertainty only alleviated temporarily each day at 5pm, that sickeningly wonderful moment when all vet students would race for their mail boxes to see if today was "the day". Ok, you may be thinking that we were all acting a little silly, and we probably were- but keep in mind that most of us had been waiting for almost 2 months to hear the verdict... and a worried vet student can do an almost interminable amount of second guessing in that great a period of time. After all, for all the NAVLE's (north American veterinary licencing examination) faults, it does have the rather unique authority to render all your aspirations of becoming a practitioner mere pipe dreams if the fateful number doesn't clear the hurdle. So anyway, I of course was not altogether immune to this stress, and like everyone else, I too was only to glad to rush home to my mailbox each day. But Wednesday came and went with no word, the same was true of Thursday... and Friday... by this time I was getting nervous, since heather and I were due to head north on Saturday to await the impending arrival of our second child. Saturday morning came and we faced the decision... should we wait until noon to see if the letter would come? No, we finally forced ourselves into the van and tried to put the issue from our minds. That evening, we were tooling along an almost deserted interstate 29, the moon casting stark shadows of our mirrors on the cement whizzing below us... suddenly the phone rang- it was my friend and colleague, an able fellow whom I had entrusted with the responsibility of getting my mail in our absence. He told me that my letter had come, as had his- and his was the same size as mine (generally regarded as being a good omen, or so went the local buzz). Did I want to just wait, he wanted to know, or should he open it, or what did I want to do?? This of course presented me with a quandary... what if I didn't pass? Did I want anyone to know? Should I just wait until we returned to Ames? I'm sure my pupils were about twice their normal aperture as the sweat beaded up on my forehead as my poor overwrought sympathetic nervous system attempted vainly to support the colossal weight my emotions were bestowing... finally I decided to just wait. Arrrrgh. Suffice to say within five minutes I had heather call him back, to listen to a mirthful Dean relating how he had just predicted to his wife that we would be back on the line within a very short time... oh well, he'd have known anyway if I'd failed (or so I finally rationalized). I drove along grimly, waiting for heather to show some sign of emotion that would belie the gist of what my friend was saying... aaaaaaaaaaaah... I was truly dying. Suddenly the darkness of the passenger seat was vanquished with the light of a triumphent relieved grin from my mate... the news had to be good. And so it was- I had passed the NAVLE, and my suffering was all for nought. Such stress simply cannot be good for the constitution. We found a Chinese restaurant at which to celebrate... after I called everyone I could think of to relate the good news- after all, you only pass boards once. Ben

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Simple Life

At long last I feel as though I’ve enough mental energy to actually write something. Not much mind you, but my life has definitely slowed down at least a little. This year has been one of frenetic activity for my family, as Heather has kept you updated we’ve traveled all over the Midwest and seen a lot of new country, couple that with the crazy pace of hospital rotations and I wonder where the year went. I’m sitting here in my living room writing this just after composing a little paragraph that not too long ago seemed an eternity away- the For Sale ad for this little trailer house we’ve called home for the last 4 years. As I look at this last semester of mine rapidly drawing to a close I’m astounded at the changes that have taken place in my life over the course of my tenure here in Iowa- my transformation from a green, single, eager first year vet student, to a happily married father of one (soon two) children, higher education weary, almost veterinarian has been a whirlwind that almost seemed to happen while I wasn’t looking. I remember a wise friend saying years ago that vet school would be over before I knew it, and was she ever right. I’m realizing daily the importance of treasuring every moment- I think experiencing the exponential development of a young child does that to you. This year has been difficult for me in some ways- I don’t enjoy being so preoccupied with activity that I don’t have time to think about anything else. I’ve learned that the study and practice can be so consuming that unless you’re careful very important things can fall by the wayside. I have to say though, that this whole thing has taught me at least one very important lesson. Not terribly long ago I was part of the Anesthesiology team at the hospital, and a wise old Anesthesiologist, just months from retirement, told a group of us nervous young anesthetists something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. We were discussing various monitoring techniques for critical patients with some of the younger anesthesiologists: Intra-arterial blood pressure measurement… Esophageal cardiac auscultation… Capnography… Expired gas analysis… Pulse oximetry… ECG monitoring… Blood gas analysis… on and on went the dizzying array of various wires and tubes and digital readouts and beeps and alarms and gauges we were responsible for… some of us must have been looking a little concerned because the good old guy interrupted the discussion: “Now just a second… Don’t forget- when you have a patient asleep and the alarms start beeping and the gauges are swirling, and you can’t remember which hose hooks to what and what wire goes where… get back to basics, dive under that drape… is the patient breathing? Are the gums pink? Do the capillaries fill normally? Is there jaw tone? Everything else is secondarily important to the basic stuff you already know how to do.” I don’t think it was until later that I realized the other applications of what he said… I was reminded of Micah 6:8, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” I realized that so often I would get so overwhelmed with what I though God wants me to do that I forget the absolute rock bottom basics. I think that this verse is really the foundation of Christianity, as my prof so succinctly put it, “everything else is secondarily important to the basic stuff you already know how to do”. Then I wondered… do I really know how to do “it”? It’s pretty easy to spend so much time learning how to handle the fancy new information and issues that we lose focus on what the simple tasks God has always had in mind for us. No wonder Jesus referred to his yoke as being easy. Leave it to us to complicate such a simple concept. Ben