Sunday, February 28, 2010

Choc-oat-banana cookies

I've been craving classic Toll House chocolate chip cookies all week, but we're out of eggs. Now that I have a day off, I could go to the store... but it's cold out and I'm feeling lazy. Yet I still want cookies. I saved a recipe for Banana-Oat cookies a while ago and remembered that they were vegan (a.k.a. no eggs required)! I adapted the recipe a bit to fit my craving, so here's what I used:
1 banana, mashed (I bet they'd also be good with the equivalent amount of applesauce with a little extra flour to thicken it)
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup honey OR 1/3 cup agave nectar + 1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 rounded cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350*F. Combine banana, peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and almond milk in medium bowl. In separate bowl mix together oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir dry mixture into the banana mixture and mix until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough on greased baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are lightly browned. Place on wire rack to cool. Makes a 18 cookies.
(This recipe would also be great when you have that one lonely overripe banana-- you don't want to waste it, but it's not enough for banana bread either) :o)

A note about agave nectar: I love brown sugar, but I can take or leave white sugar. I'm skeptical of Stevia and I think artificial sweeteners are disgusting chemical concoctions that will never improve the taste of my food. I do love honey as well, but it crystallizes quickly if I don't use it right away. I finally bought some agave nectar to try and a straight spoonful tastes like really mild honey. This is my first time baking with it and I can't tell the difference (Ross still doesn't know). It's supposed to have a lower glycemic index than sugar and honey and since it's sweeter, you use about 2/3 the amount (2/3 cup agave nectar replaces 1 cup sugar). I'm hoping to get some fresh, local honey at the farmer's market this summer but until then I do like agave nectar as an alternative option.
Yes, my blog makes it look like all I do is work, eat, run, (try to) sleep, and bake. And yes, that's an accurate portrayal of my life right now.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seeds of Change

I was saving these pictures for a future post, but I think I'll share a little now. Ever since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver last summer, I've become really interested in local "slow food" movements and gardening. Slow food is a post in itself, but now is the time to prepare for gardening!
I got a bunch of awesome books for Christmas about container gardening and organic gardening. I'm also a member of Seed Saver's Exchange and I hope to use some of their heirloom seeds in my garden this summer. (Don't worry, I've joined a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group in case the garden doesn't work out.) Ross was feeling crafty last week, so he built a container garden on our balcony!

Didn't my husband do an awesome job?! Since it's been sunny the last few days, I have actually started to believe that spring is coming even though it only reaches 40 degrees during the day, which is plenty cold for me! Sunday or Monday, I'm hoping to get the right soil for the containers and start some seedlings indoors. Ross has even offered to build a little incubator for my seedlings. It's nice to have a handyman around!
For now, I'm headed to bed after making a long to-do list for the next few days. My first day off after several consecutive night shifts is always hard. This is what I want to do all day:

When in fact, I try to only sleep from 8:30am until 1 or 2pm (Ross usually has to drag me out of bed at 2 after I've hit the snooze button every 9 minutes for an hour) and then workout and have a normal evening before going to sleep again. We went out for sushi and now I have a full, happy tummy, clean sheets, and no work tonight!

Friday, February 26, 2010

One Moment in Time

Despite what I said earlier this week about looking forward to my runs, I really didn't want to work out this afternoon! Tonight is my 4th 12-13 hour night shift in a row and the previous 3 have been busy nights with critical admissions, double admissions, and picking up extra patients when a co-worker's assignment went downhill.
I put my workout off as long as possible, but finally had to follow my own advice and Just Do It. Instead of driving to the gym, Ross convinced me to run outside with him. It's 41 degrees and sunny! However, we got to the path by our apartment and it was still covered in snow/slush and it's just hilly enough that I'd be sure to fall quickly. So I went to the apartment gym which I try to avoid-- the treadmill there is so old and noisy! I do like the fact that the machine faces a mirror though. It allows me to make sure I'm running in a straight line, which is harder than it sounds! My feet tend to splay out(leftover from my ballet days I'm sure) and it hurts my knees after a while if my ankles, knees, and hips are not in one line.
I got a blast from the past on my iPod song shuffle while I was running: "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston from the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul! The opening lines say, "Each day I live/ I want to be/ A day to give/ The best of me/ I'm only one/ But not alone/ My finest day/ Is yet unknown." The Truffle Shuffle 5k is next weekend and Emily reminded me that the 2010 Cowtown Marathon is tomorrow... can't wait until they announce the 2011 date and we can start counting down!
When I finished my run, I had the innagural brewing on my new coffee maker to look forward to.

Coffee connoisseurs may scoff, but I'm so excited I found a small, inexpensive coffee maker. I don't need a 10-cup brewer since I'm the only one who'll be using it and I drink one cup three days a week.
In other news, my primary patient at work is doing so well! Her cheeks are getting rosy and she opens her eyes and looks around a lot more. I'm the one who "caught" her in the delivery room and I've been a little attached to her ever since :-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I'd always seen Larabars next to the Luna bars and Powerbars in the grocery store, but something made me buy some this weekend and they're SO GOOD! They only have between 2-6 ingredients (for example: dates, almonds, and cherries) so they don't taste anything like over-processed energy bars. And since they're made from fruits and nuts, they're much more filling than granola bars (I can plow through a box of granola bars in one sitting). I guess this is my plug for the week because you have to try these! They have mini-bars that make a great snack. I just opened one at work... and then dropped it on the floor and I'm extremely bummed. Once you try them, you'll understand!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eat, Sleep, Run

I have a Nike t-shirt hanging in my closet with "Eat, Sleep, Run" emblazoned on the front. Senior year of high school, I was in my running element! It's embarassing to think how long ago that was. Yet I still think of myself as a runner. I'm so happy to be getting into it again. I'm actually starting to look forward to my workouts!

I recently discovered a blog by my friend Amari from high school (by the way, anytime you see an underlined word in my blog, you can click on it and it'll direct you to a link regarding whatever subject I'm talking about). It's a great blog and the other night when I couldn't sleep, I started reading hers and some of the other blogs she recommends. I ran across a one called Healthy Tipping Point and found some tips for beginning runners that I could really identify with! If Emily and I can do this, anyone can :o)

Here are the tips, with a few of my own comments added in:

1. Start slow and short! You don’t want to burn yourself out mentally OR physically. Don’t try to pound out a 5 miler on your first run, and don’t be disappointed if you have to stop after 10 minutes. Similarly, don’t try to be a speed demon right away.

2. Try the Galloway Method, which is basically walk/run/walk/run. You walk for 2 minutes, then run for 2 minutes, then walk for 2 minutes, etc. This gives you time to catch your breath and cool down. Gradually decrease the amount of time you spend walking and increase the amount of time you spend running.

3. Stay hydrated! This is equally important in the winter and in the summer.

4. Find a running buddy. It’s best if you can run with someone slightly better than you who is willing to walk when you need to. A running buddy holds you accountable, pushes you to improve, and gives you someone to chat with — which helps the time fly by. (Emily Gilmore is my running buddy even though we don't exactly go on runs together since we live in different states. But she's hard-working, determined, and committed. I can't skip a workout because I KNOW she's not skipping a workout!)

5. Sign up for a race! I love doing races. Races give you motivation to succeed, and it makes your workout schedule have a “point.” (See my personal training goals a few posts ago).

6. To fight the urge to slow down or quit, listen to music, plan your day, or just zone out! Running serves as excellent mediation. Focus on your breathing, the feel of your blood coursing through your veins, and the sensation of power pushing through your legs.

7. Think positive! Too many people focus on how hard running is. Well, of course it's hard work. And it's even harder if you think about how mucy you're dreading it or you bitch and moan about it. I talk and think about running as my life’s passion, even though I'm just (re-)starting out. Put a positive spin on exercise, and it won’t seem like a chore!

8. Just do it. Seriously. This is what gets me out the door most days. Sometimes I don’t want to run, but I just lace up my shoes and GO. Within an hour, my workout is DONE and I feel more energized, happier, and more positive! It's hard to remind myself of the rewards of working out before my run, so my bottom line had become JUST. DO. IT.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ms. Cranky Pants

I am in a bad mood, so I'm going to vent. Feel free to skip over this post because I'll warn you right now, it's going to be pretty whiny.

Lately I've recognized a fun pattern on my nights off where I'm tired and go to bed at the same time as Ross, but then wake up around 2am and don't fall asleep again until 7:30am. Awesome. It's probably the root cause of my bad mood today. I woke up at 2am Saturday morning and stayed up until 10:30am. Then I napped until 1pm. I stayed up after that and Ross and I went to my cousin John's basketball game and out to dinner with my Aunt Theresa, Uncle Charlie, and cousins John and Jimmy. Came home and accidentally fell asleep on the couch at 9pm but by then, I'd had 2 1/2 hours of sleep in the last 19 hours, so it's safe to say I had been awake a normal amount of time and didn't sleep the day away. I crawled into bed at 10pm, woke up at 1:30am, and have been awake ever since. I'll say it now and you can assume it holds true until next month when I'll say it again (I try to limit it, since it's really a self-evident truth): I HATE NIGHT SHIFT!
Secondly, when I do start to get sleepy again around 6am after killing time for several hours, the neighbor we share a wall with wakes up and starts smoking. I swear they sit in bed right on the other side of that wall and smoke a pack of extra-nicotine cigarettes for an hour and the smoke seeps through. The smoke is not coming through the vent, mind you, but the drywall itself, insulation and all. This makes me incredibly angry, causes my bronchioles to spasm and I start to wheeze and I absolutely cannot sleep by that point. I lay there for an hour and a half inhaling this second-hand smoke, working up a sweat because I'm so angry. It takes every once of my self-control not to start throwing things at the wall or to march up to their door and scream at them for being such idiots. The apartment complex won't do anything because, "they have a right to smoke in their apartment." Well, don't I have a right to breathe clean air in MY apartment?! I'm soooo over apartment living.
Which brings me to the fact that I'd love to start looking for a house, but I'm suddenly making less money than I did in Texas. Not only did I take a $2.50/hour pay cut, but I'm not used to having income taxes taken out of my paycheck. Night shift differential almost makes up the difference, but moving to day shift (while much improving my personal life) will not improve financial matters. Not that it looks like it'll happen soon anyway.
Recently, I added that application on Facebook that counts the most frequently-used words in your status updates. Here are mine:
1. work
2. night
3. tomorrow
4. days
5. good
6. Ross
7. baby
8. today
9. off
10. NICU
No surprises there!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Floor seats!

For Valentine's Day this year, Ross bought me tickets to see Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts last night! We had so much fun! (Never mind that he was so excited after buying the tickets and taking pains to make sure I wouldn't find out about them, he showed them to me the day after they came in the mail last month). I've always loved Rascal Flatts. I think I identify with more of their songs than any other band. Their lyrics are awesome!

However, after last night, Ross and I are both Darius Rucker fans as well. They play about 3 songs of his over and over on the radio and I like them; I also fell in love with his distinctive voice in Hootie and the Blowfish, but didn't know a whole lot about his country career. Turns out, he's a great performer! When he gets his own tour, we'll definitely be going to see him again.

When Rascal Flatts came out for their encore, they brought Darius too and they all sang three songs together. So cool!

If you want to see more pictures, click here. Ross got some good ones because we were so close to the stage!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Sadly, I didn't get to go to church this Wednesday because I am in the middle of 3 night shifts in a row. However, I love Ash Wednesday. Here's one of my favorite songs from services when I was a kid:

We rise again from ashes,
from the good we've failed to do.
We rise again from ashes,
to create ourselves anew.
If all our world is ashes,
then must our lives be true,
An offering of ashes,
An offering to You.

We offer You our failures,
we offer You attempts;
The gifts not fully given,
the dreams not fully dreamt.
Give our stumblings direction,
give our visions wider view,
An offering of ashes,
An offering to You.

Then rise again from ashes,
let healing come to pain;
Though spring has turned to winter,
and sunshine turned to rain.
The rain we'll use for growing,
and create the world anew,
From an offering of ashes,
An offering to You.

Thanks be to the Father,
who made us like Himself.
Thanks be to His Son,
who saved us by His death.
Thanks be to the Spirit,
who creates the world anew,
From an offering of ashes,
An offering to You.

It's a very simple gospel song, but the lyrics are just so beautiful and poignant. I always get chills when we sing it!

Are you giving up anything for Lent? I'm not so good at giving things up (therefore it'd probably be good for me to make myself do so); instead, I'm making a "Lenten Resolution" to go to church every Sunday this season. I know that sounds like a small thing, and very easy for some. But it's hard to want to get up and go to church when you've only gotten an hour or two of sleep! I like the church we've chosen for now, but I wish it were closer. The drive also makes it hard to get up and go in the mornings. But I'm excited for the "Just..." series they're doing right now (see several posts ago) and I really need to re-center my life on the One thing that matters most and Lent is a great time to do that.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cowtown Marathon

Back in November, I mentioned that I was going to start training for the February 2011 Cowtown Marathon with my friend Emily Gilmore. We started running then but got sidetracked by holiday travels and winter weather. We started again in January (hence my New Year's resolutions) and I'm still running!
However, I have attempted to train for a marathon before and seen it fizzle out for 1,000 reasons. I was talking to my Dad about India when I realized I wasn't going to be able to go on that mission trip, and he brought up the marathon. My parents know me better than I know myself sometimes! I'm the type of person who will say "yes" to everything, but I rarely follow through. He said not to set my hopes too high on the marathon, either. But if I really wanted to do it, I needed to set a goal and a date on which to re-committ and know that I'm able to put the work and time in to train.
Therefore, since I've been going to the gym and running and feeling an improvement (for the most part... although this Monday was rough), I feel that it's safe to tell you my short-term goals and my re-committment date. Ross and I are running the Truffle Shuffle 5k on March 6 (I have no idea why they chose that name, sorry!) and we have the March for Babies (sponsored by March of Dimes) on May 1. I'm hoping to run the entire 5k next month without taking a walking break.
I think the key will be to keep signing up for little events along the way, several 5ks and 10ks and maybe even a half-marathon (although if the timing doesn't work out with my training, I don't have my heart set on that). That way, it puts more pressure on me to keep running. The Cowtown Marathon is a year away, giving me a false sense of security. I'll think, "I have plenty of time to train for this! I don't need to work out today!" An immediate deadline is much more motivating. Bottom line, if I can run 5 miles without stopping by May 1, I'm going to officially re-committ to the marathon and it will be much more realistic and tangible then!
In other news, I can't BELIEVE we've been in Kansas for 4 months as of today! It's growing on us, but I still don't let myself dwell on Texas too much-- it makes me heartsick. We're hopefully going to Amarillo in March for Ross' spring break ("spring break-- wohoo!") and in May we're GOING TO DENTON/FT. WORTH for Emily's grad school graduation!!!!
I'm still on night shift with no end in sight, but having a primary patient makes me want to go to work a little more because I get to see how she's doing! Her parents are so wonderful and they've been able to take all her ups and downs in stride and be here for her every day. I wish all babies had parents like that.

Friday, February 12, 2010

You Know You're a NICU Nurse When...

I stumbled upon this list when I was looking for that CPAP picture in the last post. I've seen it before and I thought I'd share an edited version. If you think these are at all offensive, let me know and I'll take it down. I think I edited out the most offensive ones, though.

You know you're a NICU nurse when...

1. You weigh diapers and always make note of poop color.

2. At one time or another you've had breast milk, poop, or urine on your work clothes.

3. You have affectionately called a patient wimpy white boy or FLK (funny looking kid) in report.

4. You can change your patient's bed linens with one hand while holding your patient in the other. (This always impresses Ross. He's seen me do it!)

5. On a related note, you can swaddle a kid so well that you can "palm" them with one hand at their head doesn't flop around.

6. You can make an IV arm board out of some 4x4 gauze and tape.

7. You've used a sock, a beanbag, or a piece of tape for a restraint.

8. Jaundice is the first thing you notice when you see a friend's new baby.

9. You use a cotton ball to obtain urine samples.

10. You use Saran Wrap to keep micro-preemies warm.

11. You refer to pacifiers as "mute buttons."

12. You think the pulse oximeter, CPAP, and those leads that barely stick were created by someone who hates nurses. And babies.

13. You have ever shown a doctor a green residual while they were eating.

14. You have obtained a 10ml residual when the patient only "eats" 1ml.

15. You have put an intensive care patient in a swing.

16. You don't get excited if your patient has a heart rate of 180 and if they have a bradycardia episode, you usually just have to pat them gently on the butt a few times to recover.

17. You prepare your patient's bath water in a (clean) emesis basin.

18. You use a rubber band for a tourniquet.

19. Newborn babies look like preschoolers to you.

20. You have assisted with emergency surgery on your patient in their bed and on the unit.

21. You have considered using medical tape to hold a pacifier in a screaming baby's mouth.

22. Sugar water is a genuine pain medication in your unit.

23. Adult-sized medical equipment freaks you out!

24. It never ceases to amaze you how much noise a 3 lb. baby can make.

25. You've taken care of a baby no bigger than your outstretched hand (my smallest was 405 grams-- that's 14.25 oz.)

26. You get attached to your tiniest patients because you take care of them for months at a time!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Set Your Intentions

Most of the time, I think Bikram Choudhury is a materialistic windbag, but I have to admit there's something about Bikram yoga that I find comforting. It's a 90-minute sweat session in a 100+ degree room that never fails to kick my butt, but I love it!

First off, it's not hard to look forward to working out in a sauna-like room when it's bitter cold out! Much easier to muster up courage to leave the apartment when I'm headed to yoga than to the creaky treadmill at the big, drafty gym.

I also like knowing we'll be doing the same 26 postures in the same order every time. You know exactly how hard the workout is, so you can anticipate this and decide early on exactly how much effort you can put into it to get what you want out of it.

The teachers all learn the same scripted dialogue, so you hear more or less the same thing every class. However, different things will always stand out to you depending on the day. The point of this post is that at the start of the balancing series (the hardest 5-6 postures for me), they often say "set your intentions now," basically meaning that you need to make up your mind in that moment that you're going to put your full effort into the postures.

I tend to wimp out during the standing head-to-knee posture. I have a huge mental block against it for some reason! But yesterday I decided that I needed to suck it up and attempt every single posture, including that one and the triangle pose, which also freaks me out. I did both of them and you know what? I survived! It was a better class because of it! And my heart rate slowed down soon enough that I wasn't too exhausted to immediately go into the next posture. I know its a small victory, but it meant a lot. I realize that I need to "set my intentions" and follow through a lot more often! It would improve my confidence level, that's for sure.

Bikram yoga isn't for everyone, and I'm using it as an adjunct to runnning instead of treating it as the only legitimate exercise program out there like Bikram does (I'm telling you, he's one crazy guy). I'll keep going once or twice a week until the weather outside is hotter than the studio, and I'll be back next fall when the first real cold front blows in! Baking isn't the only way to stay warm through the Midwestern winter. In the meantime, I'll practice "setting my intentions" and following through!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super (Bowl) Sunday

Yesterday was a good day. For starters, Ross and I went to church at 11:00am and FINALLY found a church we both like! I'm ashamed to admit that the church hunt fell to the wayside with holidays and traveling to see families. And then either Ross was working Sunday mornings or I had worked the Saturday night before and just wanted to go home and go to sleep. I know, excuses, excuses. The verdict for now seems to be Heartland Community Church in Olathe. It's a 15 minute drive, which isn't ideal but then again, we were spoiled having Christ Chapel 5 minutes away from our apartment in Fort Worth.

We chose a good Sunday to attend. This was the first Sudnay of a series called "Just..." They played the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and I think it summed up my life right now! The pastor was talking about how we tend to live in the past and the immediate future instead of the present and the eternal future like we should. I know I certainly find myself thinking, "things will be better when I can just move to day shift, just wait until the weather is warmer, just pay off our credit card, just save up for a house...

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." I always read this and think that "in its time" means, "someday in the future when the timing is right." However, it can also be read, "He has made everything beautiful in its time," which is the present. I don't know if I'm doing justice to the sermon, but it was very, well, timely. We can't wait to get more involved in church again! I'm sure some of our stress lately has been because we lost our center in Christ and let ourselves become distracted with daily worries instead.

Sunday evening, we went to my Aunt Theresa and Uncle Charlie's house for the Super Bowl. I played Rumicube and drank wine with my aunt and some of her friends while Ross and all the boys watched the game. We had a lot of fun and munched on yummy game food. All in all, it was the best Sunday we've had in a while.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A New Day

by Eve Merriam

Morning is
a new sheet of paper
for you to write on.

Whatever you want to say,
all day,
until night
folds it up
and files it away.

The bright words and the dark words
are gone
until dawn
and a new day
to write on.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy February

Fort Worth spoiled me. I start anticipating spring this month when in reality, it'll probably come to Kansas City in early April. At least the snow is gone for now... and yesterday was sunny even though today isn't!

We've had a busy weekend. On Saturday, Ross went over to my cousins' house to stay with John and Jimmy for a few days while my aunt and uncle went to Arizona. I went to work Saturday night and finally did my first admit in my new unit! Even more exciting, her parents are really nice. I finally feel official! I even went and bought "my" baby some preemie clothes at Wal-Mart, although she won't fit into them for a while.

After getting some sleep on Sunday, I joined the boys at the Dixon's house and we stayed until Tuesday afternoon. Thanks to their cousin Emily (on the other side of their family), I started reading the Twilight books while I was there. She had left the first one at their house during a summer visit and I was desperate for something to read. Then, of course, I had to read the other three. The books are so creepy, I can't put them down until I'm done. I'd have nightmares if I went to sleep without knowing how things end up.

I literally read one Twilight book a day on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I'm so embarrassed! I mean, the story is intriguing but I still think Harry Potter books are infinitely better-written, more symbolic, and more complex (sorry Brittnye). But I can't deny that I want to see how Twilight ends up and, of course, I want to see why everyone's so obsessed with the movies. For those who know (or even care) about Twilight, I do have to say this: how can you fall in love with someone who is stone cold?! I'm always so cold... I'd choose Jacob over Edward any day. I'm also biased because I liked Robert Pattinson so much better as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter than as Edward in Twilight.
Okay. Teen-geek-fest over. I think I need to end this post now before embarrassing myself further. On the bright side, I get to see "my" baby tonight!