Monday, January 31, 2011

Bloom Where You're Planted

This morning found me staring at a steely gray Kansas sky and bemoaning today's weather. I missed the glorious sunny 50 degrees this weekend because I worked 13 hour days at the hospital Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And now that I have 2 days off, winter has returned. It took its time getting here this year, and now it's taking its sweet time leaving.

Remember last week when I said the snow was melting and I was excited to run outside again? Well, I stepped out this morning hoping to run before the most recent "snowpocalypse" hit (Seriously? What happened to "snow storm" and "blizzard"?). However, I stepped out to find the roads coated in a thin, black sheet of ice. So I ran on the treadmill again. And then I did what any warm-blooded Midwesterner does when the weather threatens to trap us at home for 24 hours-- I went to the grocery store to top off our pantry and fridge.

I feel silly now, though. We hardly would've suffered with what we have right now. But at least it gave me some contact with the outside world, which I don't get much of when I'm home and Ross is at work. And my trip certainly entertained me-- the weather brings out the oddest people. There was one guy with a cart full off 24-packs of pop. And another guy with a cart full of Pop-Tarts. Odd. But I digress.

So here I am in the thick of my least favorite season, and it's so tempting to sit here and write about how much I hate winter. But then I read a beautiful blog post on loving where you live by Kelle Hampton (click here to read it). She says:

The great thing about entertaining out-of-town company is that I rediscover the beauty of our sunny place [they live in Florida] and fall a little more in love, every time, with the elements that make up our latitude when I'm showing it to someone else. The thick humidity, the lush ferns, the tall bare trunks of our pines and the great many palms that accessorize our sun-kissed town.


And it makes me wish I would have spent a little more time when I lived in Michigan venturing out to see its best more--the dunes, the light houses, the quaint fishing towns hugging the Great Lakes. Because there are hidden best spots in every state, and the challenge lies in finding them. (We get it, right? Bloom where you're freaking planted. I'll stop beating a dead horse). And I'm again thankful that last year I was able to discover a little more about our great America, from the quiet mountains of Montana to the grand snowy splendor of Utah.

So, time to pull on my big girl pants and bloom where I'm freakin' planted, right? Any fellow Kanans or Missourians who can tell me what I simply can't miss around here?


Month in Review: October

Finally, a month that didn't zoom by. Has it really only been 3 weeks since I wrote about loving this Indian Summer? This month has been jam packed. Did I meet my goals from the beginning of the month? Not so much. But here are some other highlights I never got around to sharing.

Lots and lots of squash
Allergy drops. Supposedly just as effective as immunotherapy shots but 1,000 times less painful and inconvenient.
Rachel's birthday bash at the Cashew. My coworkers filled a big, loud table. They're hilarious.
Baby basil.
Basil "harvest" from our container garden.
Got my hair cut a little shorter than I bargained for.
New running shoes!
I hoped they would fix my knee and hip pain. They did not.
Kettle corn. You can buy a piece of heaven for $3 a bag at the Ak-Sar-Ben Farmer's Market in Omaha!
Our Hungarian hot peppers apparently thrive in the sunny, dry fall.
What a great month. Full of productivity, change, and sunshine!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Life

So. Where was my life before testing anxiety took over? Ah, yes. This quote:

*Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild 
and precious life?* -Mary Oliver

This question goes beyond New Year's resolutions. Do you have an answer when people ask who you ARE and not just what you DO?

I was watching Eat, Pray, Love the other day (the movie was beautifully filmed, but the story was not nearly as good as the book) and the characters were talking about defining words. What one word defines you? It's a hard question to answer! I'm afraid mine would be something like basketcase, or apathetic, depending on the day. This makes me sad. I want a different word and the good news is, it's completely within my power to change that! I'm still thinking what I want my word to be, but when I figure it out, I will most definitely share.

Now that I'm an RNC, people are asking what's next. I honestly don't know. My days off are now a void staring me in the face, and making me fear I'm wasting precious time. Asking myself what I really want to do is a powerful question.

The reality of life is hard to face sometimes. Part of me wants to ask, "What would you do if time, money, and other people's opinion didn't matter?" On one hand, that's a question that could lead you to your life's passion. On the other hand, flying by the seat of your pants and living like there's no tomorrow can set you up for disaster. How do you know when to jump? And if not now, when?

I do know that if I sit and think about it too long, I am sick with regret that I didn't study abroad in college. But I can't change the past. Instead, I can decide that I still can and want to live overseas at some point in my life. Forming a concrete plan to make that happen proves difficult now that Ross does have his dream job. Before Derek Porter hired him, we were talking about a semester in Italy, or else a few months overseas after he graduated. Now it's going to be much harder for him to leave.

I also know I want to LEARN more. I love learning from a good teacher (it was the self-starter studying that freaked me out about my recent test) and talking with fellow students! Whether it was discussing philosophy with my honors classmates who came from all different majors and backgrounds, or discussing pathology with my nursing friends, these conversations were some of my favorite parts of college. I love Spanish and anthropology and ancient history and physics and microbiology and genetics and words and...  [the list goes on]. But I can't know everything. So I will have to settle for awe and wonder and love of God's creations. And the possibility of grad school or at least a few community college classes at some point in the future.

I love babies with all my heart. (Does it really surprise you to hear that?) The days I have a stable baby who wants to interact are the best days of my job. I know that if I leave the NICU, I will miss "my" babies. But part of me will always wonder if I would like Labor and Delivery. I originally went to nursing school to become a nurse midwife and I would love to be the type of Midwife who can combine the safety of a hospital environment with more holistic practices of labor. I'm not saying we all need to sit in a hot tub and hum while we deliver babies without any pain medication (I personally know I won't go that route), but there are alternatives to "the business of being born" in this day and age. Inductions, pitocin, and laboring on your back with an epidural don't have to be the standard.

My future possibilities overwhelm me, and I run the risk of being paralyzed into inaction. But in reality these dreams will require a lot of discussions with my husband and family and planning ahead before they become a reality. And to an extent, I have to wait for the right time. I believe God will make it obvious when I am ready to make a major life change.

For now, as Audrey Hepburn says, "The most important thing is to enjoy your life- to be happy- that is all that matters."

Something to think about:

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.


I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.


I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

(the prayer of an unknown Confederate soldier)


 
Do you have a word that defines you? Do share!
 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pecan Pie Muffins


I'm making up for lost blogging time now. I made these muffins a few weeks ago, but studying took precedence over waiting for my ancient laptop to download photos to the blog. I'm proud to say that this is one of the first recipes I can claim as MINE! I took a basic muffin concept, tweaked it a lot and the outcome was shockingly decent. Ross LOVED them. I hope you do, too!

Heavenly with a little butter melted on top

Pecan Pie Muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup brown sugar (may be reduced, but it will make the muffin more cake-like and less pie-like if that makes sense)
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup pecans, crushed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup pecan butter (see recipe below)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350*F. Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl. Add wet to dry and stir until just combined. Pour into muffin tins and garnish with a pecan half if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes until knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.


Pecan Butter

So easy to make, I'll never pay $10 for a 6-ounce jar at Whole Foods! Simply take any amount of pecans (I used 1 cup), dump in food processor, and process until smooth. You may have to scrape the sides down occasionally. Save what you don't use for the recipe in a tupperware or glass jar in the refrigerator and try it in place of peanut butter on a sandwich, or on top of a baked sweet potato.

A big thanks to Ross' grandparents-- our pecan suppliers ;-)

edited to add: Find my recipe and some other amazing ones on Sweet as Sugar Cookie's Sweets for a Saturday!



Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt


Protests are one thing. Violent protests are another. I have family in Cairo so the recent protests are hitting a little closer to home than most other Middle East conflicts. Please pray today for violence anywhere, and that innocent lives may be spared everywhere.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Drip, drip, drip


Look closely... can you see the water droplets falling from the roof?
Whenever the winter snow starts to melt, I think of Laura Ingalls Wilder in The Long Winter (nerd alert!) when she woke up one night so excited to hear ice melting and dripping off the eaves of their cabin. I know spring is a ways off, but today was sunny and the slush and ice are melting and for now, that is enough.

Hello again, sidewalks! Maybe I'll start to choose you over the treadmill one day soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spring Semester 2011


Ross is back in school this week. He's working 30 hours a week and taking 6 hours of grad classes this semester. It actually sounds like a good balance for him. He loves work (he calls it his "big kid job," which is true, but decidedly not the adult way of saying he's employed). Anyway, he certainly has fun looking the part:

New clothes and new shoes
His classes just started Tuesday but he's already in school mode:

computer programming
electronic mumbo jumbo
And what does he do on his first day off? Drive to Lawrence and build a new desk frame since apparently the one he built a few months ago is too tall. (Yes, he's getting rid of the original frame he got into the front door, couldn't get into the office, then couldn't get out the front door to take back to the shop. So he sawed it down, drove back to Lawrence, and eventually made it into a desk. Which lasted all of a month before he decided he didn't like it.) 

new greasy metal framework
I miss him on my days off now that he has a job with normal hours, but I'm proud of him! And speaking of days off, any ideas how I can spend mine now that studying isn't hanging over my head? 

(I'm serious: any and all ideas are welcome!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Highs and Lows

Life just keeps moving, doesn't it! I thought I'd catch a break after the RNC test, but I don't see an end to my to-do list. Today I had an 8 hour nurse preceptor class. Tomorrow I get to lead a Developmental Committee meeting. Then I have to figure out car stuff, and taxes, and what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. You know, the important things.

For now, I have some wise words from Proverbs 4: 20-26...

Pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.




Monday, January 24, 2011

Desperado

(by the Eagles)

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You been out ridin' fences for so long now
Oh, you're a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow


Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet

Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can't get


Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they're drivin' you home
And freedom, oh freedom well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don't your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
It's hard to tell the night time from the day
You're losin' all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?


Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it's too late




I feel like this song defines me right now, nearly the same way it defined me a dark winter 10 years ago. I'm off to bed, praying I see the rainbow tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What went into passing the RNC

-A year of dilly-dallying with studying, and 2 months (easily over 50 hours) of real, focused studying

-1 major snowstorm forcing me to reschedule


-2 entire highlighters and 1 pen went into studying

-7 packs of notecards


-countless breaks to bake something

-1/2 bottle of Tums in the last month and 6 cans of ginger ale in the last week consumed to control stress-induced nausea


-a dozen attempts to look up a word in the medical terminology dictionary only to be distracted by a gruesome picture of something completely unrelated to neonatology

-2 dozen attempts to look up a word on Google, only to get distracted by social media sites

-2 pictures in my neonatology textbook that freaked me out. Both were in the dermatology section.

-1 major cut (finger, bathroom toilet handle in Oklahoma, fear of unknown germs invading) and 1 major burn (boiling water, 20% of my forearm) sustained in the last month of studying. I get even more clumsy when I'm stressed out.

It's starting to heal, but that's gonna be a nasty scar
-3: the number of co-workers who told me the test was no big deal and I didn't need to study so much.

-2: the number of co-workers who freaked me out and made me study my butt off. (For the record, I did study my butt off and I absolutely don't feel that I overstudied.)

-Less than 20 of my co-workers are certified- all but 1 (soon to be 2, not including me) are over the age of 30

-There are over 100 nurses on our unit

-175 questions, 2 hours, 1 huge sigh of relief!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I passed!

I can't quite express the relief and joy I felt when, after 2 hours and 175 questions, the secretary at the testing center handed me a slip of paper saying I PASSED the RNC exam! People keep saying, "Congrats, I knew you would!" But there was a minute there, after I'd closed the test and before my paper printed out, when I felt like crying and throwing up and I was just terrified I'd have to tell everyone I didn't pass. Thankfully, that only lasted a moment due to instant grading!

How freaked out do I look in the pre-test picture?!

I am now an RNC-NIC.

Besides the obvious...



 ... here's what else I learned:

-The Cincinnati Children's Heart Hospital's website is a great way to learn the basics of congenital heart disease before learning the details from a textbook.

-Do not take an RNC review by Terese Verklan. It was a huge waste of money and I only passed my exam through my own hard work, reading 75% of the Core Curriculum textbook, and reviewing with a co-worker's notebook from Linda Juretsche's review class.

-Punnett Squares are not nearly as scary as I thought they were.

-I/T ratios and Aboslute Neutrophil Counts are actually really simple equations.

-As always, I love medical terminology. I've added plenty more fun words to my vocabulary! (Just be warned that even if it's a funny word, the definition may not be. Google search at your own risk):

anastomosis
orchipexy
insufflation
epistaxis
syncope
glosspotosis

-I am slowly re-gaining confidence in myself and this is a huge step toward realizing that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Flashcard review the night before the test
 -Finally, I am more convinced than ever that a healthy baby is truly a miracle!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Negative Thought of the Day (turned positive?)

So... the Assessment Center called and said they were already closing for the day due to snow, and would be closed tomorrow as well. So I need to reschedule my test. My first response? "Eff you, snow." (Except, not in PG language).

So I called the hospital and changed my schedule, hoping to force my way to work in the snow tomorrow and take the test Friday instead. Then I called the Assessment Center, and they can't schedule me for this Friday. But they can do Saturday, or else next Friday. Ummm no way in HECK am I waiting another week. I took Saturday morning. And then I e-mailed Brooke from BadSeed and I'm hoping to reschedule my Saturday interview and not be frowned upon. (Wait, what?! I'll explain that one later).

SO. Now I am taking my RNC test SATURDAY instead of tomorrow and I can prolong my terrible self-care and housekeeping habits for another two days. Oh boy. Earlier today, I had picked up sushi and a chick flick to occupy my evening, because studying into the night won't do me any good at this point. When they called and cancelled tomorrow's test, I ate my sushi out of protest. And bought several $1.27 songs on iTunes. Once the sushi digests, I'm going to go running and pound out my frustrations to the soundtrack of Glee and hope to God that cheers me up.

I wanted to come to my blog and rant and rave and ask what else life could possibly throw at me (which is always a dangerous question). It's been a long month. And I'm driving myself crazy and literally making myself sick with a cycle of optimism and pessimism about passing this stupid test.  But when I logged into blogger.com, I had a comment from my earlier post waiting for me:

Therese, I enjoy your blog and appreciate your dedication to your career. Having had both my children go to the NICU upon birth, I know how much your presence and reassurance means to scared parents and sick babies. Thanks for what you do. 

Cue extreme humility. Thank you, Mel, for reminding me why I'm doing this. Even if I somehow don't pass my test Saturday, the big picture is that I have learned A LOT while studying for this test. Some of the things I've learned are already affecting my patient care (and helping me impress/scare med students when I can answer a question that they can't). I needed a reminder.

And, if there's a positive side to prolonging my stress, it's that I can also prolong my studying. I was cramming in a few more subjects this morning with plans to go through my flashcards this afternoon/evening. Now I can take my time today going through the last few sections (dermatology, neurology, genitourinary) today and save the flashcards for a cozy chair at Starbucks on Friday.

For now, I'm going to go clean the kitchen. And go running. And, heck, I might as well watch that chick flick!

Positive Thought of the Day

*Face a challenge and find joy in the capacity to meet it.* 
- Ayn Rand


 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Can't Take the Heat

1) Studying makes me so anxious I get sick to my stomach.

2) I felt REALLY bad for the car salesman we didn't get a lease from.

3) I burned myself two days ago. Badly. With boiling water. I took lots of pictures, but they may be too gross to post on the blog.

I can choose 1 of 2 ways to handle these recent events:

a) "When you're going through hell, keep going."

b) "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen!"

I'm still chugging along.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baby Beluga

We got a new car yesterday! It's pretty much the antithesis of my old car. And of Ross' gas-guzzling truck for that matter. Meet Baby Beluga:


Wait, you don't know the Baby Beluga song!? Am I the only one who grew up with Raffi music?

I'm so, so, thankful that my parents gave the old Honda to me for our wedding. It saved me a ton of money and hassle at a time when I was a new grad on night shift, planning a wedding. However, maybe it's rebelling against winter like its owner, but it's seen better days. Ross and I had a rough week with a single car last week, so it was time for something new.

We ended up leasing this car, because we will probably need something bigger in the next 3 years. But oh man, this car has it all:

Working radio!
Anti-lock brakes!
Automatic windows!
Automatic locks!

I'm so excited! For now, back to studying.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stress Monster

This week, winter hit hard. In fact, on Tuesday there was snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states (Florida was the odd one out)! Wednesday was by far the coldest day of winter, so of course that was the day my car decided to die. Again. On the interstate ramp. On my way to work at 6:20 in the morning. I actually think I'm fortunate because a.) I left for work 5-10 minutes earlier than normal yesterday because I had to factor in hiking from the parking lot in the snow, and b.) if my car was going to die while driving, a slow entrance ramp near a gas station was the best possible place.

I drifted to the shoulder and called Ross (twice, because he wasn't awake yet) and hiked to Quick Trip. Ross came within a few minutes and we jumped my car, only to have it die again almost immediately. So we left it stranded there and Ross drove me to work. Sick babies don't take care of themselves, and I was only 2 minutes late after all that! An awesome co-worker drove me home, and now here I sit.

Since Ross has been pulling long hours and late nights at work, I'm stranded at home today. Needless to say, my plan to camp out at Starbucks today and tomorrow and do nothing but study, isn't going to happen.

On today's to-do-list instead:

-get car towed to the place we paid $400 last week to supposedly fix it (it died before Christmas, too, and we had a new alternator installed)

-e-mail friend's dad and high school friend in an attempt to procure a decent car for a decent price in the next few weeks

-run in the cold like the hardcore runner I am ;-)

-walk a mile to Panera to study after lunch, because there are just too many distractions at home

WISH ME LUCK!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day

Just when I thought we were going to cruise through the rest of winter with 40 degrees and sunshine, a storm hit. Not a storm in the sense of a blizzard with angry whirling winds, but the quiet consistent snowfall that makes you want to get outside.


 The kind of snowfall that allows you to see each flake individually!


I may hate winter, but I love snow! If it's going to be cold and gray, at least give us a snowfall to make things prettier.



As of last night, it had been snowing for almost 24 hours straight. Yesterday morning, I had to get out and walk around in it, even if I didn't have anyone to play with.



That's right, I willingly went out in the cold. Snow is magical like that.
 











Quiet Reflections

The quiet snow was great for reflection yesterday. I have a classmate whose dad died Sunday out of the blue. She's engaged and her dad will never walk her down the aisle. My heart breaks for her.


Bad things happen to good people, and sometimes it terrifies me to think that the more you have, the more you have to lose.

 

I know I am so, so blessed. And sometimes that scares me.


We simply cannot know when we will go. Or, even worse, when a loved one will.




Have you said "I love you" today?





Monday, January 10, 2011

A Great Start

Alternate post title: The difference a week can make! 

So far 2011 is off to a crazy but great start. Maybe I need to eat black eyed peas a little more often!

Last Sunday, we drove from Roswell back to Amarillo, and Monday morning Ross and I settled in for a relaxing 3 more days. However, he got a phone call around noon that changed all that. During the fall semester, Ross took a lighting class that re-ignited his passion for illumination. He loves interaction design, but I think he has always wanted to tie it in with architecture and lighting in the end.

His lighting teacher introduced him to the owner of Derek Porter Studio, an architectural lighting design firm in Kansas City. Ross came home and told me he'd love to work there one day. In fact, he even went in one day to talk to them and give them a resume.  Then the holidays happened and we figured it'd be a while when/if he heard back.

But last Monday he got a phone call from the studio, asking if he could be there Tuesday morning to start a week of contract work. He was beaming from ear to ear, and we left Amarillo an hour later. (His family and I were a little more upset about cutting the vacation short, but Ross was so excited it was hard not to be happy for him!)

Celebrating with Wing Stop before leaving Amarillo
Until next time, Texas...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Perks

One perk of Ross' new job? Looking professional!  He looks so good (and so grown up) headed to work in the mornings. And I no longer have to worry about interpreting his beard:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_3o69DLFcCMA/TScZ8cjtYnI/AAAAAAAAEqo/JzJ41laobBI/s1600/trustworthy%252Bbeard%252Bchart.jpg

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Running



I must admit, we've had a mild winter. No piles of snow on the (minimal) shoulder of the road. No ice. No sub-zero wind chills during daylight hours. This is just what I needed to show myself that I can remain active in the winter even without a gym membership. (Well, this, and a new-found love for my workout DVD collection-- although I'm sure our downstairs neighbor loathes them.) I even ran outside the week before Christmas when it was in the 20s and 30s!

Despite the spring-like sunshine, 40-degree temps, and wind at a minimal 9-11 mph, today's run was still a winter run, right? I wore layers. I sucked the cold air in through my nose and blew out through my mouth. I zoned out to a new playlist and ran. And it made me feel strong and tough.

P.S. It's a good year to be a Horned Frog!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saving Gas?

We came back from Amarillo earlier than expected, and Ross rushed off to work this morning while I sat at home with a dead car battery. I finally got restless and decided to bike to the bank and the grocery store for a few staples since we had a more-or-less empty fridge. (I think of myself as creative, but I can't make a meal out of salsa, salad dressing, and nut butter)!

I took a route I knew, wore bright colors and reflectors (even though it was light outside), and followed biking etiquitte. Apparently, cars don't understand biking etiquitte. I was on the fence before, but I am now convinced that we live in the most pedestrian-unfriendly neighborhood I've ever lived in in my entire life. I like the idea of biking to run errands, and it was only 8.5 miles round-trip, but it's not realistic right now.


I'm home now, thankful to be alive!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Area 51

I had to share a few images from our short trip to the (bizarre) town of Roswell. I must say, though, I do love the fact that it's always sunny in New Mexico!