Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Angels Among Us

Nursing humbles you. It gives you a grand perspective on this thing we call life. It makes you a front-row witness to the strength of life, as well as its immense frailty. When people hear I'm a NICU nurse, they always say, "what a sad job. I couldn't do it." I tell them most of the time, it's such a happy place. We see so many success stories and tiny victories every day.

I can't believe it's taken me 3 1/2 years to see what they were talking about. Today, I'm not crying for me. I'm crying for sweet parents, full of love that I got to witness firsthand. And I'm crying for the rollercoaster that they're on: their baby took a steep, unexpected downhill turn last night and passed away early this morning. I had signed up to be his primary nurse so the hospital called me this afternoon to tell me.

I wish they'd called earlier so I could've been there. Not to take care of the baby- nothing could be done by that point- but to take care of the parents. Instead, I can pray. And beg you to pray as well. God only gave this long-awaited baby to his parents for a short time. They got to hold him in their arms for a few days, but now God is holding him for eternity.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Being Proactive

There's a point at which hanging out in your pajamas all morning crosses the line from indulgent to lazy and just plain sad. After several weeks of careful experimentation, I believe that line is lunch. Yet here I sit, eating lunch in my PJs.

You know when you have dreams so real and vivid, you're confused when you wake up? Last night I dreamed we still lived in Ft. Worth. I was missing my old job like woah yesterday and I guess my mind wanted to escape to Southland fantasy-land last night. I woke up in a funk. I was ecstatic about having 4 days off after a crazy/terrible/emotional/overtime-filled week at work, but now I'm just sad and lonely.

I don't remember being bored like this on my days off in Texas. I had friends with similar schedules and a husband with an 8-5 job to cook dinner for. It was predictable and enjoyable. And it's long, long gone.

But if I dwell on it too much longer, I'll start to cry again. So here's what I CAN do NOW to enjoy my life more:

-Get dressed before breakfast.  Nothing fancy, nothing snazzy, just real clothes.

-Have 'quiet time' before computer time. My days are so much better when I start with devotionals or even a workout instead of checking e-mail and reading blogs. The internet seems to be my best friend since we've moved here and that's just pitiful.

-On that note, limit internet time to 1 hour a day. Enough said.

-Start going to small-group tomorrow. I've been looking forward to this ever since we finally found a church we like. The young women's small group was on a hiatus but they start back up tomorrow. Can't wait to meet some new friends!

-Get out of the house every day. Have a set plan and stick to it. Whether it's yoga, a lunch date, heck, even walking to the library (when it's not raining like it is today).

-Do something active every day, even when I really really don't feel like it (like *ahem* I feel right now).


Help! Any other suggestions for me?


Sunday, April 24, 2011

How Deep the Father's Love for Us

I spent Easter taking care of some sweet babies. Honestly, it didn't feel like a holiday at work but toward the end of the day, when some parents were holding their long-awaited babies for the first time, I witnessed a dad looking at his wife and their son with such a loving, tender look I almost melted.  And I realized, if this dad loves his new family that much, how much more does our Heavenly Father love us? What a beautiful Easter realization.



How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Christ Alone

by Stuart Townend

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Bunny-Approved Muffins



I don't know why carrot cake muffins make me think of spring. After all, carrots are a root vegetable and aren't in season here until mid/late summer. However, I remember requesting this as my birthday treat multiple times as a child. Carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting made my heart sing.

I haven't tried these with frosting (yet), but they're adapted from an Elena's Pantry recipe and I'm very pleased with the results. In keeping with tradition, I served these for dessert in Omaha a few weeks ago while celebrating my birthday along with Ross' and I was pleased to note that almost everyone at the table tried one!

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1½ cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of cloves
3 eggs
2 Tbs canola or coconut oil
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups carrots, grated
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup fresh pineapple, diced (optional)

(Look at the difference between the "cage-free" eggs from the store and the true free-range eggs!)
In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.
In a separate bowl mix together eggs, oil, agave, vanilla, and pineapple if using.
Stir carrots and walnuts into wet ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.
Scoop a heaping ¼ cup batter into paper-lined muffin pans. Bake at 325° for 18 to 22 minutes.


I'm working all weekend, but Easter is coming! This good Friday was appropriately cold and drizzly all morning, but the sun came out later in the afternoon and gave me chills thinking about how it may have happened 2011 years ago.


"So shall we join the disciples of our Lord, keeping faith in Him in spite of the crucifixion, and making ready, by our loyalty to Him in the days of His darkness, for the time when we shall enter into His triumph in the days of His light."   -Phillips Brooks


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What dreams are made of

No I'm not going to wax poetic about grad school again (for now). I'm talking about running. And the fact that if nothing changes, nothing changes. I want to run a sub-30 minute 5k this year. More specifically, this summer. That means it's time to up the ante on my workouts.

Complaining about asthma won't get me anywhere. All I can do is push myself as far as I can and what happens, happens. I did a "speed" workout on the treadmill Sunday and by the end my face was red and my lips were purple. But I didn't throw up. And I didn't pass out. And I realized maybe my limits are farther away than I thought. And I'm stronger than I give myself credit for.

Then today, even though my thighs were still sore after one day off of running (a busy work day, at that) I ran 4 miles on a more-or-less flattish trail nearby. It wasn't fast and it probably wasn't pretty (I know the weather wasn't). But it acutally went by kind of quickly and I wasn't miserable the whole time.

You are so much stronger than you think. You are so much stronger than you know.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Re-cap

My schedule has been weird lately. Between overtime and poor planning, I haven't had more than one day off in a row for a while (the exception was last weekend when we went to Omaha). This means I'm not getting a whole lot done around here. I usually use my first day off to relax and recover, and the second day to get stuff done.

Anyway, I worked this Saturday, but Ross and I both had Sunday off and we had a great "weekend!"

Thursday night birthday dinner with my cousins and Ross.
Ross adding to the awesome container garden he made me last year.
Lettuce!
Remnants of the Wall of Chocolate from PF Chang's.
Domination. (Please excuse the chocolate in my teeth).

I was mighty excited about my birthday cake, but I'm also excited about all the seedlings we bought at Family Tree Nursery: lettuce, serrano peppers, strawberries, a dwarf tomato plant, basil, and some flowers. Sadly, something (I'm guessing a bird?) has already eaten the leaves and flowers off of two strawberry plants and the pepper plants! And I thought we were safer from pests being on a third floor balcony...


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two Six

I hated turning 25, but as the year went on I actually came to realize that 25 is still young! I've gotten used to checking the 25-34 age box as opposed to the 18-24 box on paperwork (although I still cringe... there's a big difference between 25 and 34 y'all!) In hindsight, 25 was a great age and a good year. I'm trying to be optimistic about turning 26 today, because in a year I'll wish I were turning 26 again instead of 27, right?!
I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be… This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages…the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide… Far too many people misunderstand what “putting away childish things” means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I’m with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don’t ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and “be” fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.

{Madeleine L’Engle}
I love this quote and it's so appropriate 20 years after my first age-related moment of panic. (I didn't want to turn 6. I don't know why.) To be honest, there's a lot to look forward to this year. A lot of unknowns. A lot of plans that may or may not pan out. The biggest one, of course, is a goal that I've been looking at for the last year and a half: running 26 miles for my 26th birthday. It looks like my first marathon will be the Omaha Marathon in September. While I really want to beak my 10k time from last year's event, it just makes sense to run this marathon instead of tackling the notoriously hilly marathons in Lawrence or Kansas City. And I don't want to travel to a new city to run a new race distance. I officially start marathon training at the end of May. Wohoo!


 My birthday has started off well. My mom's mom used to bring us doughnuts before school on our birthdays and I always requested double-chocolate cake donuts. Ross' sister gave me a mini-donut pan for my birthday and when it came in the mail yesterday, I knew what I was making for breakfast today:






Cutest donuts ever. Thanks, Emily! I feel 26 years young right now.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm 25 years old

Just wanted to say it a few more times while I can. 25 was is a good age. It's an ideal age. Old enough to (hopefully) have college behind you, but young enough to be energetic and enthusiastic about the opportunities in front of you.

This morning I gave a presentation at work and then went to lunch with some co-workers. (I didn't tell them it was my birthday tomorrow because it snuck up on me this year and I have all of one day to be melancholy lol).

Then I came home and crashed on the couch. They must've put something in my miso soup- I was so tired after lunch. Now I'm puttering around, resisting the lure of the donut pan my sister-in-law sent me for my birthday. (Don't worry, Emily, I'm breaking it in tomorrow if I can hold off that long).

It's a gorgeous day so I think I'll go for a walk as well- allergens be darned!

And, since this is such a random post, here are a few pictures from this past weekend in Omaha. On Saturday, we got to watch my baby brother play in a Varsity soccer tournament. Prep won!




Bobby is #24. I'm glad we got to see him play! Saturday night, my parents invited my grandparents over for dinner- perfect weather to break out the grilled burgers! Since Ross' birthday was on Saturday and mine's tomorrow, my brother added up our age and wrote it out in candles. Lovely :o)



 Then after dinner, we picked up a canoe my mom had bought at a garage sale that day. I told you... random.


Sunday morning was gorgeous and we got to go to church and lunch with the whole family. Like my dad said, we did get to see spring twice. I had to take pictures.




Ross tied the canoe to my dad's truck and we headed out. It was a fun celebratory weekend!


Happy belated birthday, Ross!

Monday, April 11, 2011

What do I want to be when I grow up?

Do I want to go to grad school?

If so, what specialty?

What do I want to be when I grow up?

That's the million dollar question, isn't it. (Well, ha, I WISH it were worth a million dollars when I do figure it out). But really, a career you love is priceless. I've been talking to a lot of people lately and I seem to get 2 answers when I ask what's important in a job:

-One camp says a job is always just a job, and never who you ARE. You are more than your work.
-The other camp says that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life

I'm sure a realistic dream job falls somewhere between these two categories, depending on the day. There will always be some days when you hate everything about working. Not that it's happened to me ;-)

The good thing about nursing is that it's so flexible and changing hospitals or specialties is easy-ish. But after the RNC test, I have had this nagging thought: what if? What if I became a Nurse Practitioner?

What if I DID go back to school, now that I have had 3+ years to recover from undergrad? What if I DID pursue an advanced practice degree?

I love bedside nursing, for now. But will I always? I take pride in my assessment skills and I love educating families at the bedside. But if I don't decide on grad school by 2015, I'm out of luck because Advanced Practice nurses will be required to be DNPs (Doctor of Nursing Practice) and let's be honest, I'm not going to get my doctorate any time soon. I have ZERO desire to sign up for a minimum of 5 more years of school. 2-3 years, on the other hand, now seems like a bargain.

I still haven't figured out exactly what my motives are for suddenly really wanting to go to grad school. The time crunch is definitely a huge factor. But I also wonder if there's more to a career than trudging to work, feeling powerless over my schedule, and feeling awkward around my co-workers. I LOVE my NICU babies with all my heart, but I'm a little disenchanted with the NICU itself. The noises, the politics, the drama. Maybe I need to work at a smaller, non-teaching hospital. Or maybe I need to be the one in charge (mwahaha <-- sarcastic evil laugh).

{explanation}

Have you seen this diagram before? If only I could actually answer the question: what you can the the best in the world at. Nurse practitioner? Bedside nurse? (And no, Ross, princess is not a realistic option.)

Chocolate Walnut Cookies (gluten free)

We had a great weekend in Omaha celebrating Ross' birthday and now we're back in KC and back to work. I will post weekend pictures tomorrow, but for now: cookies!

These were inspired by another recipe from Elena's Pantry. I liked the idea of the double-chocolate mocha version, but we've eaten a lot of chocolate chips lately, so I improvised.


Chocolate Walnut Cookies
1 heaping cup almond flour
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a smaller bowl, stir together coconut oil, syrup, and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry and then add walnuts. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Makes 12 cookies.

Therese-created, Ross-approved :o)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring has Sprung


*But you knew there would always be spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.* -Ernest Hemingway

We kind of went straight from 30-degree days to 70-degree days, but I'll take it!


Isn't spring a great metaphor for those times in your life when you find yourself in a new situation, with new possibilities, and a new outlook? I'm seeing the new possibilities (grad school?) and new outlook (I'm in a better mood when the sun is shining), but my situation hasn't actually changed yet. Just a few big decisions pending between 'here' and 'there.'


What I'm loving this spring:

-Grad school interviews


-open windows

-running outside in a tank top 

-daffodils- they're so optimistic!


-taking walks outside

-the cute bag my mother-in-law made for me-- and all the yet-to-be-read library books inside!






Things I'm looking forward to:

-birthdays (Ross and I have birthdays this month. Did I mention I'm 25? I need to say that as much as possible before it changes!)


-shadowing a few Neonatal Nurse Practitioners, labor and delivery nurses, and Nurse Midwives this summer

-the farmer's markets opening again

-reading a book by the pool


What do you love about spring? Anything you're looking forward to in the next few months? 



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Milagros


Our little goddaughter is truly a miracle. Despite all odds, she has made it to her first birthday- what a celebration! From one pound to one year is quite the achievement.

Trying to wrap a hexagonal box in a compact car
All that work will be undone in about 5 seconds
Cute + yummy
How sweet is this?!
What's the big deal, guys?
I'm not sure what you're going for here, Mom
Ummm...
Hey! This stuff is good!
Hey guys, you should try some!
Gifts
Are we done yet?
I'm cute and I know it!
What a fun Sunday. Happy birthday, Olivya!




Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend Run

Is it April already? And is the warm weather really going to stick around? It's about time! I'm so unbelievably happy that the long trudge through February and March is over.


Ross and I both kicked off the month with an eventful weekend! I had to work Saturday, but Ross rocked the Rock the Parkway 5k in 25:59. A huge improvement over the Truffle Shuffle less than a month ago!

{source}
Then Sunday morning I was fortunate enough to be able to join some co-workers in the Brew to Brew relay: 44 miles from Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City to Free State Brewery in Lawrence.

6am. I don't think anyone is fully awake!

Winds from SW at 26mph gusting to 42mph
I ran the second leg, which was 5.26 miles and I loved it! Despite the massive 20+ mph headwind for 95% of the run (we were out in the open on a levy with nothing to block the gusts), I felt pretty good and was plenty happy to finish in 58 minutes with gas left in the tank!

About 1.5 miles in after climbing up to the levee. Lovely.
Done already!
Sadly, I couldn't stay the rest of the day (and party in Lawrence at the end). But I'm already looking forward to being on this team again next year!