Friday, December 17, 2010

2010, bulleted

 In 2010, I.....

*became closer in age to 30 than 20
*finished my master's degree
*passed my certification exam
*became a family nurse practitioner
*took a new job in general surgery
*went to TN a lot
*started couponing
*celebrated our first anniversary
*planted a garden
*went to D.C. to see old friends
*became pregnant
*threw up more times than I ever thought possible
*felt a baby (!) move inside for the first time
*chopped my hair off
*camped in sub-freezing temperatures
*watched my mom die
*enjoyed having "free time" and predictability for one of the few times in my life

2010 probably was calmer, overall, from 2009. 

2011 promises to be a new adventure, a turning point.  I'm ready.  Here's to the excitement of a new year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

For my momma

Three weeks you've been gone.

Bob and I flew in late on a Thursday. You were already in bed, but I went to wake you up anyway. Your breathing was different. Harder than it should be. I think I knew then, that your journey was soon to be done. I painted your toenails on Saturday. The bottom of your feet were blue. I know I knew then. I was supposed to leave on Sunday, but I couldn't. Time was short, and I wanted all of it I could get.

I wasn't shocked, really, at how much you'd declined in the two months since I'd been there- how weak you were, how you didn't interact much, because I'd heard. I had called most days, gotten the report from whoever was there. Some days you talked to me. Some days you didn't have the energy. Some days I think it just made you too sad, so you'd tell me to call some other time. It's ok. I understood.

Sometimes it makes me sad to talk about you. Like this morning, in Sunday school, when the leader asked for examples of a time when things had happened when we knew it was God working. I wanted to share, but my throat got tight and my eyes hot and I knew if I said a word the tears would flow.  I wanted to tell them of how the morning of your visitation I was lying awake at 3am and felt the baby move inside me for the first time. How I was so glad God had given me that gift on such a hard day. And I had wondered if you had met, you and the baby, and if you had had a part in that blessing.

I'm sad you won't get to be here to help bring up this child, or any that follow. That you won't make them smocked bonnets, quilts, dresses, or blankets, or anything else you were so skilled at making. I'm sad about a lot of things they are going to miss because you're gone. Some may have faulted me for not waiting, for getting pregnant knowing you were sick, knowing that you didn't have much time. At times I have briefly doubted my own judgement, but I don't now. You mourned the loss of being a grandmother even before I had a child in me, for there was little in this world you loved more than babies. Though it was terribly bittersweet, it gave us a chance to talk about things we didn't talk about before: pregnancy, delivery, children.
I know you loved the baby. I'll be sure to make sure it smells good, and I'll kiss it in all the right places, just like you told me to. And I'll brush its hair with the last gift you gave me, through garbled words and gestures, just days before you died, a Gorham baby comb and brush set.

I'm sorry the last days were so hard for you. I'm sorry I had to get out the wheelchair of Granddaddy's, bringing it down from the attic for you to use. But the pain and the weakness and the struggle to walk were too much for me to watch. I'm glad it allowed us to take you to the kitchen where you hadn't been for days, to the big window where you could sit in the sun and see the farm. I'm so glad for the morphine, the continuous drip of relief. We started that on Thursday night. You never said you were in pain again. I'm so glad we were able to keep you at home until the end.

Friday morning your breathing changed again. You were slipping away. We stayed up with you from then on; someone was always at your side. We talked to you, kissed your forehead, rubbed your hands.  I knit a blanket while you slept.  I told you to say hi to Jesus for me. I told you things I would tell my children about you. I took a turn in the middle of the night, already sleep-deprived; watching, waiting. I only lasted a few hours, then the sickness that had plagued me the whole pregnancy up to that point overtook me, and I had to sleep. I hated giving up time with you, but I had to, for the baby. Then I wondered how much you had missed for me, what you had sacrificed for me.

It seems odd that it has only been three weeks. The days since have ticked away like they always have, but a Saturday hasn't gone by yet when I haven't felt a twinge of sadness, a bittersweet acknowledgement of the fact that you died on a Saturday. At 4:17pm. I looked at the clock then, when we were all standing by your bed, all of us: your babies, and your husband. We were all there, our little crew, just like you liked it. Someone had to run and get me as your last breaths came quite suddenly after hours of struggling. I had layed down again to rest, tired from grief and retching and staying up half the night.

People keep telling me they are sorry I had to lose my mother at such a young age. And I suppose I am young by most standards, but so were you. But I'm grateful that you were able to raise your own children to adulthood, that we all turned out mostly ok, that you were able to teach 30 years worth of students, that you were married over 30 years to the same man. Maybe the years weren't that many, but you filled them with many great things. A tribute article about you made the front page of the paper. Over 1,000 people came to your visitation and funeral. You were loved.

 I'm going to miss you. I love you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

At 19 weeks I.....

*am fascinated with the baby moving
*found 2 pairs of maternity jeans, for $3.50 and $8 respectively
*am good friends with food again
*only feel sick when I don't sleep enough
*rarely nap anymore
*am making decent progress on a knitting project
*make a few consignment purchases for the nursery
*don't tolerate standing in hot patient rooms very long
*am "warm-blooded" for the first time in my life
*am totally in love with this person inside me

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

At 13 Weeks I....

* am starting to have the tiniest of a baby bump
* am finding my jeans to fit a little tight
* am really glad I wear comfy hospital provided scrubs to work
* am having some improvement in the nausea
* am still throwing up most days
* have now had the experience of throwing up (in a bowl) while driving
* have had to take a knee twice at work to keep from passing out, and promptly was rescued by sweet nurses with orange 
* have been able to eat almost normally
* think water has a whole new taste and it is amazing
* have an extreme urge to successfully knit something
* need naps a few times a week
* don't really think of the baby as a boy or a girl yet
* like watching Bob interact with kids and imagine him as a dad
* think it is hilarious when Bob says, "How are you two today?" or "Come on, you two."
* miss coffee, now that the smell isn't revolting to me anymore
* rarely make it through the night without a bathroom run
* have nicknamed the baby "Wiggly"
* am having a blast knowing there's a person growing in me, despite all the inconveniences

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I just couldn't take it anymore.....

(please forgive the tired, just-woke-up-from-a-nap look.  I really did just wake up in all of these pictures.  Napping is pretty much all I'm doing these days, along with hugging the toilet from time to time.....)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Many, Many Gifts

171.  The love of my life
172.  His self-sacrificing, gentle nature
173.  The way he brings me food to eat
174.  The way he does the dishes when my stomach just can't handle it
175.  The way he puts straws in my drinks
176.  How he was so excited when I told him the news
177.  How he's comforted me in my times of queasiness
178.  How he can't wait to share the news
179.  The amazing miracle of new life
180.  Supportive families
181.  Ritz crackers
182.  Sprite
183.  Goldfish crackers
184.  Milkshakes
185.  The blessing of carrying a child

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Thankfulness

161.  Sleeping in till 8am
162.  Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings
163.  Tiny green tomatoes in the garden, promises of red to come
164.  Late night talks in the dark
165. Mr. Water's tears
166. Aunt Carol hugs
167. Feeling accepted
168. Cup of coffee and a Bible
169. New baking experiments that work
170.  First full-time paycheck in almost one and 1/2 years, coming Tuesday!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Remember this list?

Embarrassed that it has been so long since I worked on this...

140.  Forgiveness
141.  Nine months of survival
141.  Anniversaries
142.  Summertime
143.  Bike rides
144.  Eating from the garden
145.  Evenings off
146.  Weekends off
147.  Holidays off
148.  Finding satisfaction in my job
149.  Berries in season
150.  Friends who challenge me
151.  Open windows
152.  Air conditioning  when the windows aren't enough
153.  Friends who find their life-partner in each other
154.  Nieces
155. Nephews
156.  Wildflowers
157.  Airplanes that take me places
158.  Rediscovering my piano
159.  Girls' time, 2nd Tuesday of the month
160.  homemade peach cobbler topped with homemade ice cream

Thursday, July 01, 2010

First harvest from the garden

Sunday, June 27, 2010

T is for Travel

My college roomates three are all in the same area this summer.  This means I had to go see them, to complete our funny foursome.

I neglected to get a picture of all of us.  Oh, well.  I got a lot of pictures of other things, though. Here's a few for you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

When the thunder rolls, and the lightening strikes....

this is what the Blanshans see on their bikes:

(All of these were taken on our street. Thankfully, our house and trees were spared, except for a few negligible limbs.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

one year ago today....

One year ago today...

I became yours, your name became mine, and we were no longer two.

I never knew I could love someone so much, that that love could exponentiate itself  in a few fleeting days, that I could be brought-to-tears-overwhelmed with how much you love me, that my cup could overflow so generously. 

You are my favorite. 

Thank you for this year.  I love you.

Reasonable wedding cost- My story

I've recently gottten deeper into this whole saving money phenomenon.  As we just passed into the day of my one-year anniversary of my wedding (yes, it is late at night as I write this), I thought I'd share a few ways we put on a relatively inexpensive wedding, one year ago today.

First, let my disclaimer be that we created a lot of extra work by asking/allowing others to do things for us that we normally would have had to pay for.  I feel bad about some of that.  We had the near-perfect wedding and it was exactly like I pictured it and I was so very happy.  But I don't know if I would do it the same because of the stress it caused for others.

The things that were important to us where (which is a huge part of determining your cost):
     -having all the people we wanted there (small gatherings and Blanshans don't really go together).
     -Having a "different" wedding, doing things a little less traditional
     -Having my minister from TN there (this was our biggest splurge)

-We had it at a family location, basically free of charge.  But it was a heck of a lot of work.  This is the main one I'd consider changing if I had to do it all over again.  It turned out great, but the stress of it would have been greatly reduced if we hadn't had to do so much work to the farm beforehand.

-We purchased all the food ourselves, mostly at Sam's Club and Aldi.  We also kept it simple, which fit our personalities really.  I'm somewhat of a BBQ fanatic, so it made sense to have it at the wedding even if it is a little overdone.  Family also prepared the food for us for free.

-We used postcards for the invitations.  We got 500 of them (which was more than we needed) for about $60 from

-I got a bridesmaid dress instead of a "real" wedding dress.  I loved my dress.  I'm not really a froofy flashy person, so a more simple dress fit me well.  My momma picked it out. :-)  It also helped that I found the dress I liked, then I found the store that had it for the cheapest.  So I got it for about $180 and got a ton of compliments on it.

-A family friend did the flowers as a present.  They turned out fantastic!  We used pretty simple arrangements.

-We used a photographer who was just getting into doing weddings.  We were her first one, so she gave us a great price.  And the pictures were wonderful!  We look through them all the time.

-The bigger things we bought, we planned to sell.  We bought nice tablecloths for the banquet tables, but we sold them on craigslist for just a tab bit less than we paid for them.  We also bought some paper lanterns for decorations that we intend to sell.  A friend used them for her wedding last fall, and I haven't pulled them out of the bag since.  I'll get to selling them eventually, because I'm sure someone would love them.

-We skipped the cake.  Neither one of us really like cake, so it seemed silly to pay a lot of money to have one.  We did cookies.  We both love cookies.

That's all I can think of now.  If you're planning a wedding, hope some of these ideas help!  But the lesson I learned was, just because a lot people spend a lot of money on something, doesn't mean you have to!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Twin Cities Nursing Strike

Today, an estimated 12,000 nurses in the Twin Cities walked out on the job, on a planned one-day strike.  

I am a nurse.  I am darn proud to be a nurse, too.  I understand why the nurses in the Twin Cities have chosen to do this strike.  Staffing is bad, pensions are threatened.  But this strike thing does not sit well with me.  For one reason.

They left their patients. 

For the patients' good, they say?  I can believe that rationale, somewhat, but I think it is flawed. Surely there must be another way.  It seems so contrary to a true nurse's spirit to leave a patient in need of care. Are things really that bad that you would compromise the care of your patients?  You?  A member of the most trusted profession in the States?

I recognize that my job at Mayo is pretty posh as far as nursing goes, and a big part of it is we have to compete with the Cities.  Their unions do a lot of work that makes non-union Mayo step up and match it so all the nurses from Rochester don't leave to work in the Cities.  I understand this. 

I also recognize that where I went to school, the nurses often had twice the number of patients nurses are expected to have at Mayo.  They also get a little over half the  pay that Mayo nurses get.  Nursing is not so kind in the South. 

Face it, MN nurses.  You make, on average, $10,000 more a year than nurses in other parts of the U.S.  You may not have the best staffing ratio in the U.S., but I have seen far worse in my short time in this career. 

I hope your strike is partially successful, just so you'll get back to your patients.  I sincerely hope staffing levels improve.  I also hope you don't get everything you want.  If anything, I hope you have rock-star teamwork to get through the shifts where all hell breaks loose.  I hope you stay proud to be a nurse and take the good with the bad when you can't remember why you chose this career in this first place.  I hope you compromise with the powers that be, and try to salvage some of the faith the U.S. public had in the nursing profession.

Monday, May 31, 2010

things like this happen to me.

This weekend, Bob and I stole away on an impromptu trip to the nearby Wisconsin Dells, Waterpark Capital of the World.  And it was a ton of fun.  Minus the getting stuck on a water slide moment.

This is the Scorpion's Tail ride at Noah's Ark Water Park.

At ten-stories high, it is a little intimidating.  The scariest part is the beginning, when the trap door you are standing on drops out from under you, and you begin barreling down the tube.  Supposedly you are supposed to go fast enough that you zip around the loop upside down.

But I'm brave, so I do it.  I stand on the trap door, let it drop from under me, and zip down the tube in a near vertical position.  I start the curve around the big loop and......

Suddenly, I'm not moving anymore.  I open my eyes which have previously been sealed tight, and find I am still in the tube.  I'm not in the happy little pool at the bottom of the slide.  I am still in the tube and I am not moving.

Slight panic sets in.  I look forward, and can see the peak of the slide just a few feet in front of my feet.  I look back, and see the slide curve downward to where I had just been.  I next envision Bob, who was behind me in line, barreling down at light speed and crashing into me in this tiny space, killiing me instantly.  Later I found out that he is still at the top of the slide, yelling, "She's stuck in there!  She's stuck in there! What have you done to my wife?!" I think this is when I started yelling for help and hitting the side of the tube, all the while thinking they can't hear me and they don't know I'm here.  I try to push myself forward, over the tipping point of the ride, so I would get out of there.  But my feet are above the level of my head, and with the stream of water gushing around me, I can't push myself that way.  So I figure, I have to go backwards, because I'm sure as heck not staying here.  All of this took about 15 seconds, which is, in other words, eternity.

So backwards I go, landing in the curve where the slide first makes an upstroke.  I start hitting the tube again, hoping to be heard, and all of a sudden, a magical trap door opens above my head, and I can see the blessed blue sky once again.  I stand up, step out on the staircase that is there, and am escorted by two members of the staff to safety.

And that was the time I got stuck in the water slide.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Glimpses of Family

Skyping after labor....

Discovering new life...

Laughter all around...

The little peanut...

So thirsty...

Wondering what all the fuss is about....

When the niece and nephew come over to play

We have fun.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Graduation 2010

On May 7th, I mastered science.

Ok, not really, I just earned my master of science degree.

It took me four years from the time I started.  I drove over 5,000 miles this year alone to clinical.  I've seen hundreds of patients.  I have 5-6 weeks of clinical left, then I officially will be done with this chapter of student life. For the first time in my life, I won't be in school.  And I am pumped about it.

In fact, today I also accepted my first job as a nurse practitioner.  In July, I will begin work with the Trauma, Critical Care, and General Surgery service, still at the Mayo Clinic.  In particular, I will be working in the general surgery part of that team, managing (i.e. labs, tests, meds, admissions, dismissals, wound care, teaching) patients in the hospital after surgery.  It will also include some outpatient follow-up when folks check back in after they have gone home.  I spent the day with the team last week and was encouraged by what I saw.  I think I'm going to really enjoy it.  Not what I saw myself doing, for sure, but am happy with my choice.

The thing I'm looking forward to the most about the job: having a normal schedule.  Monday through Friday, 8am-4pm, no weekends/holidays/overnights/call.  Incredible after four years of missing evening events, important holidays, Sunday lunch, and the like. And I can still walk to work in 5 minutes.

Second best thing I'm looking forward to: continuing to wear scrubs for work.  No need to buy an expensive business attire wardrobe!  I get to wear scrubs and lab coats supplied and washed by the hospital.  I love professional pjs. 

Thanks to the Blanshans for throwing a celebration reception for me!  Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes and gifts!  I couldn't have done it without you! 

Trip to TN

I'm terribly behind on posting.  Here is my best shot to catch up to speed....

I went to TN for two weeks.  It made me happy to be there. 
You see, home is where the waitress wears overalls and asks if I want "lemon with my cat" when I order a plate of fried catfish.  It's where every soft drink is called Coke, and pop is what a weasel does, not something you drink.  It's where you walk into the church and the staff knows you and has been waiting for you to come and talk with them for hours.  It's where people bring food every few nights 'cause they know your momma is sick. 
It's where little cousins come to play with the very life-like turkey decoy.  It's where the hummingbirds drink sugar water and golden finches eat seed.  It's where teachers proudly wear purple on April 21st for your mom and give hundreds of homemade birthday cards from the students. It's where you stay up till 2am with your bestest after watching twenty people over the age of fifty free jam some bluegrass.  It's where the oncologist says healing is up the good Lord and not her.  It's where you meet your aunt and uncle in the parking lot of a grocercy store to give you a container homemade pimento cheese and where homemade peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream are staples. 

You see, it's just home. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

He's taken, ladies.

I must have the most thoughtful, kind husband that ever has been.  I am so blessed.

Bob's been hearing me talk about how I wanted a garden, a little backyard city garden to grow a small amount of yummy things to enjoy.  But planting season was quickly approaching, and I was unable to fit planning a garden into my schedule.  Besides, if we did it, we wanted to pull up a row of scraggly, overgrown bushes, and put the beds there.  But I wasn't going to have time and I was leaving town for two weeks.  I had resigned myself to the fact it just wasn't going to happen this year.


Imagine my surprise when I came home from my two week trip and Bob said he had "a little something" for me.  It was at night, and he made me sit in the car for a minute.  He went to the backyard to do something, then came back to get me.  There, in full spotlight and lined with string lights was a garden!  My garden!  With the ugly bushes gone, the arbor from our wedding up, and three boxes full of black dirt, two with a happy row of striped tulips welcoming me home.  I even had my own personalized watering can.  And he kept it a secret the whole time; I never had a clue.

We've still got a little work to do: plant grass where the bushes were, tear a few more bushes out, find some way to keep our furry rabbit friends away, put a bench under the arbor, etc.  But now I can plant!  I started my first seedlings in the house today, and I might plant a few cooler weather things outside tomorrow.  I don't guarantee anything will grow, because I don't have any clue what I'm doing.  But I've given myself a crash course on the plants I want to grow, so we'll see what happens!  But it wouldn't have been possible without my sweetheart.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm a published author.

Praise the Lord, the thesis is done!  Kudos for my thesis partner Kristina for presenting our research poster all by herself in Kansas City last weekend at the Midwest Nursing Research Conference!  I had the best group ever!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Oh, grad school...

The tension came to a head today.

It's one month to graduation. After that, we have a 4-6 week internship to complete.  The papers are coming due, the stress is rising, the to-do list is long, the stakes are high. We are days away from being responsible for people's health, which is no simple task. And we are tired of jumping through hoops.  Mostly, we're just plain tired.

Due to some scheduling changes, we got done with our all-day class an hour early.  Our favorite mothering professor said, "I'll still let you out early, but since we have a minute, how are you guys really doing?"

Our small class of twelve goes silent.

Nobody says anything for a minute.  Then someone says what we all are thinking.  "This sucks."

And then we all jump in, one after another, stating the hardships we've had this past....however many years.  But mostly this year.  This year, when we go from learning "fluff" material to learning how to acurately diagnose, treat, and manage complicated patients.  This year, when we have too many demands on our time.  This year, when we're all working, going to school full-time, trying to have somewhat of a life, and find a new job in a new profession.

One mother speaks up, or tries to through the tears.  She's got three kids at home.  She never sees them.

Another one relates.  "What kind of mother am I, to drop my kids off at daycare every day?"

Others talk about how they just don't talk to their husbands anymore, because the tension and stress is too high, and they just argue.  So now they don't talk.  Others took their pets to a relative's house, because they can't take care of them right now.  One worries about the effect of sustained stress on her unborn child.

I count my blessings, because I feel I've fared relatively well through this mess.  But I've had my many moments of tears over nothing, nodding off while driving, and the like.  I can cry at the drop of a hat.  I struggle between immersing myself in my work--because people's health will depend on what I know--and still having time for my husband, my very sick mother, my family, and myself.

We (my classmates) all love what we're learning.  But this schedule is too much for most people for long. And we still feel inadequate, not confident in our knowledge or skills.  This world of health is so vast no one can know it all, and yet, you're expected to know a good deal of it.  And people may die or suffer serious consequences if you don't.  Talk about pressure.

So we commiserate together, with the only people who really know what we're going through.  And I fight back the tears, because apparently I have no control over my emotions anymore.  I think we all left feeling a little better, knowing everyone else is not doing ok either, but the days of this are ticking away. 

Monday, April 05, 2010

From my husband for Easter

I think you're eggstra special, and I love you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm one of THOSE people

I never thought I would be that lady. The one at the grocery store.

With her coupons.  All one hundred of them.

But alas, here I am, at the ripe old age of 26, clipping coupons, scanning ads, making lists.

And I love it.  I've recently gotten into "super-couponing," where you combine coupons with sales to get a lot of items for very cheap, or sometimes even free.  And so far, with limited effort, I've been able to save a nice chunk of change on things I already was going to buy.  I am busy.  So I've kept it simple.  You can make a full time job out of this, going to different stores to get the best deal on things.  But I don't have time for that.  Nor are we really that strapped for money.  So, instead of making it an obsession to get the-best-deal-that-ever-was on every item, I just do what I can in a short amount of time.  It takes me about 20 minutes to cut out and organize what I've got every week or week and 1/2, and so far, I've been saving around $20 a trip.  And that's a big part of a grocery budget for a family of two.  Trust me, I don't make a dollar a minute at the hospital.  This has been a good investment of time for me so far.

My best deal last week:
Target had a sale of "buy four boxes of cereal, get a $5 gift certificate."  I paired that with two "buy two, get $1 off" coupons, and all said (with the gift card), the four boxes of cereal cost me $3.  Pretty good, huh?

My biggest dilemna: 
Trying to still buy/cook healthy things while using the coupons.  A lot of the coupons are for packaged meals/boxed items that aren't so good for the ol' arteries.  Even though they are lucrative deals, I've tried to use them in moderation.  I also try not to buy things I wouldn't normally buy if I didn't have a coupon in order to not spend more money "saving" money.

Now I have my little organizer set up, we buy a paper on Sundays, and I have a few websites bookmarked that tell me where the best deals are that week.  I'm not a fanatic by any means, but I'm trying to be smarter about daily living.   And I try to set aside all the coupons I'm going to use for sure as I make my way through the store, so as to not take any more time in line in front of you at the check out.  :-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Go Green.

Oatmeal butterscotch cookies (a few days early) in honor of my brother-in-law's birthday, St. Patrick's Day.

Addendum: Now I remember I have TWO brother-in-laws with a St. Patty's day birthday.  However, only one got the cookies.  And yes, my birthday is the 17th too.  Go Green!

My New Favorite Picture