Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Life. Was. Good.

New Year's Eve.

2013 got away from me, folks. Somewhere in the middle of laundry, gymnastics, carpool, refereeing children's fights, working too many hours, taekwondo, vacation to Mexico, cooking, crying, laughing, yelling, running, half marathons and school...I lived an amazing year.

January found me starting the second semester of nursing school. I had survived one semester and had high hopes for this one. Clinicals in the hospital, instead of a long term care facility, sounded amazing and I couldn't wait to deliver babies, save lives and just. be. awesome. The kids were excelling in school and their activities. We totaled our minivan, but thankfully not a soul was hurt. Life. Was. Good.

February came and went. I was knee deep in school and somewhat disappointed with clinicals. I hadn't delivered any babies. I hadn't saved any lives. I didn't feel awesome. Avery celebrated her 8th birthday, which I missed, because I was in clinicals/school that day from 6 am to 10 pm. She still loves me, though. ;) Life. Was. Good.

March finally let me see a baby be delivered. One. Guess I shouldn't be greedy, huh? ;) Bek celebrated her 27th birthday, the twins of terror tested for their yellow belts and me...well, I decided it would be a good idea to run 13 miles down a mountain. I had five months to train, what could go wrong, right? Peanut learned how to ride a bike without training wheels, reminding me, yet again, that our time of having babies in the house was quickly diminishing. Life. Was. Good.

April proved to me that maybe I would survive this running craziness. I ran my first five mile run. And my first six miler. Ryleigh made the competition team for gymnastics and the twins both placed well in their taekwondo tournament. I finished my finals and with that, my first year of nursing school was done. Life. Was. Good.

May was a time for chaos and so. much. busy. The children wrapped up their school year and we surprised them with a trip to Mexico! Such an amazing week full of way too much food, sun, sand, laughs and memories that are so incredibly priceless. Our family did the Susan G Komen 5K and had a lot of fun talking about and remembering Mom. Luke celebrated his 7th birthday; where does the time go? Life. Was. Good.

June brought Ryleigh's 10th birthday and her first day of training with her competition team. This month was full of family fun days, Sunday night s'mores, homemade ice-cream and relaxation. Bay went to her first boy/girl party and I realized very quickly how fast my girl is growing up. Josh and I made some decisions and had some hard conversations with many people that we love. Thankfully, for the most part, it went well. Live your life for yourself, my friends. No one else. Life. Was. Good.

July gave us Bailey's 12th birthday. My baby girl is no longer a baby and I'm so impressed with the young woman she is. The 4th of July is my most favorite holiday and it didn't disappoint. I studied and studied and studied for the NCLEX and passed! I was officially a nurse and on the job hunt. I ran my first 8 miler and started to believe that the half marathon might not kill me. Life. Was. Good.

August found me starting a new job! I was finally going to realize my dream of being a nurse and I. was. terrified. The twins had another taekwondo tournament and did amazing. All of the kids and myself were gearing up to go back to school. Josh and I celebrated 12 years of marriage and I left the job that had seen me through the last seven years. I ran my first half marathon and didn't die. Life. Was. Good.

September meant that Peanut started her last year of preschool. I turned 32 and decided to embrace my "old age". I started my third semester of nursing school and it looked like it may kill me. We took the kids to Lagoon and had an amazing day full of laughs, chaos and nausea. (Old age apparently means that Mommy can't spin in circles anymore.) Life. Was. Good.

October was a blur, as I settled into a semester that was determined to ruin me. I realized I was falling in love with my job and my new responsibilities. I loved the amazing people that my new job had brought into my life. My life was changing...and only for the better. The kids annual Halloween party was a success and fall had descended upon us. Life. Was. Good.

November brought Josh's 33rd birthday and Peanut's 5th birthday. We no longer have babies or toddlers in this house. School was killing my will to live. Ryleigh placed really well in her first gymnastics competition and she was all smiles. I lost my first  resident and I know without a doubt, that day changed me forever. Thanksgiving came and went, surrounded by love and laughter. Life. Was. Good.

December meant finals and stress and chaos. I eased out of my third semester, tattered, beaten down and exhausted...but it was over. Christmas meant immense feelings of gratitude for all that the last year had given me. Life. Was. Good.

Tomorrow begins another year. Another chance to do better and be better. But really...we get that chance every. single. day. We don't have to wait for a new year to make changes or make decisions. If New Year's resolutions are your thing, by all means, make them. I hope that you find the wisdom, the strength, the love, the endurance and the motivation to achieve them. If, like me, you don't make resolutions for fear of disappointing yourself or because you believe that every day is a chance to change...good luck to you, too.

Either way, make 2014 your year. Stop letting other people hold the pen, as you write your story. Figure out what makes you happy, and do it. Find your passion in life and go after it. To all my friends and family, as the new year rolls in, I offer you the following...something I tell my kids every day..."Be kind. Be helpful. Make good choices. I love you." Life. Is. Good.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twelve Steps to Wrapping Presents...on Christmas Eve

Twelve odd shaped boxes,
Eleven friend gifts sitting, 
Ten paper cut fingers, 
Nine swear words shouted, 
Eight hours later, 
Seven rolls of paper, 
Six tape dispensers, 
Five gifts still missing, 
Four lost pairs of scissors, 
Three piles of garbage, 
Two crying fits, 
And one Mom drinking wine under the tree...

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Cannot Give You, What I Do Not Have

My kids are growing up. Every single minute, of every single day. I have to force myself to take a step back and realize...every minute allows me the opportunity to teach them something. Even when I am being pulled in every direction, from my numerous responsibilities...I can teach them something. It can be as simple as how to make scrambled eggs. It can be as little, yet life altering, as how to tie their shoes. It can be as easy as the pronunciation of a word. It can also be deep. Intense. A lesson that will be a life long learning opportunity.

"Life ain't always beautiful." Right? Gary Allan has an entire song dedicated to the complexities of being alive. While it can hurt and it can cause stress...it allows for a teaching moment. Contrary to popular belief...I don't know it all. (Yes, laugh...that was supposed to be funny.) I don't always know the answer. I don't always know how to fix things. I don't always know what to do. But...I'm not here to fix everything. I'm not here to create this false idea for my children, that the world is easy. How I react to stress, teaches my children far more than how I eradicate the reason for the stress. Real life is hard. My children need to know that they can do hard.

I can't give my children something I don't have. That is a profound thought. Think about it. I cannot provide my children with anything that I, myself, do not possess. If I do not possess self confidence, I cannot give it to my children. If I do not possess a strong work ethic, I cannot give it to my children. If I do not possess determination and drive, I cannot give it to my children. If I do not possess the ability to adapt to change, to stress, to hard...I cannot give the ability to my children.

However, I am also not na├»ve enough to believe that if I possess these qualities and freely give of them...that my children will accept them. I know that ultimately, it is up to the child. They are their own unique person, with their own agency. But...if I don't emulate the qualities that I feel are important...if I don't possess them myself...it is impossible for me to give them away.

I need to be better. Do better. Be more. I need to react to the stress of life in a way that is healthy and beneficial. I do not need to shelter my children from the difficult and lead them to believe that life is meant to be simple. My children need to know that life is hard, but that they are strong.

...and if I don't? If I fail and blow up and make a mountain out of a mole hill? Well, then I guess I'm allowing my children to learn the lesson of apology and the art of righting wrongs. I'm not perfect and I don't expect them to be. Every single minute, of every single day, is an opportunity to grow. For all of us.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shylo - Our Old Man

1999 - 12/04/2013
When Bailey was a newborn, we knew we wanted a dog. We both grew up with animals and wanted our children to, as well.

We visited the local Humane Society and in the midst of active puppies, yappy little dogs and big, hyper jumping dogs, was Shylo. They estimated him to be about two years old and he was with them because his previous owners were moving. He was the only dog sitting quietly, not jumping up against the fencing.

So, we took him home.

For the past 12 years, this old man has been our steady. We have moved to several homes, had a few other pets and brought home four more babies. Shylo was always there. As the children got older and began to play outside, he would follow them. Herding them, if you will and always keeping an eye on them. Whenever we told someone that he was part chow, we would hear about what an aggressive breed they were. Not our boy, we'd tell them.

He was getting old. No disputing that fact. His legs shook, as he walked across our wood floors. His eyes were glazed over, evidence of eye sight loss. He no longer investigated noises or came when we called, all the time. We knew his hearing was going. We tried, desperately, to keep him on a tether when he was outside, but when he could open the doors by himself...it was challenging. What a smart old man, he was.

On Wednesday night, our old man...our constant companion...passed away. Our hearts are broken and it was incredibly painful to tell the kids. No parent wants to make their child cry, knowing that there is nothing you can do to fix it. You can only hold them and wipe away their tears. We have chosen to have him cremated...something I never thought I would do for my pet...because we can't imagine doing anything else.

I'm so thankful that my children had so many years with such a loving animal in their life.
We love you, Old Man.

Friday, December 6, 2013

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Finals week is here.

By December 12th, the only thing standing between me and my RN is three more classes, 120 hours of preceptorship and the NCLEX.

*insert sounds of me screaming here* Screaming with delight. Screaming in fright. Screaming to let go of the ball of anxiety that has piled up on my shoulders faster than a snowball rolling down hill.

First...I must survive the hell of finals week. None of my professors feel that a study guide would be helpful. For a comprehensive final. That will also not have any repeat questions from the rest of the semester's exams. (Go ahead...mouth "What. The. Eff?" I have. Several times.) Apparently, being given a few textbooks that are each...eh...1,800-2,600 pages a piece, is sufficient. "Just know...all of that...plus anything else we haven't covered."

I have come to terms with the fact that I will be getting my first B this semester. B. Yeah. You know what? I have learned more this semester, than any other semester...and a miniscule amount of that knowledge has come from my classes.

Real life, my friends. It will teach you far more than case studies, books and a professor ever can.

I have learned how to think first and react later. I have learned how to deal with criticism. I have learned how to deal with anger and realize...it usually has nothing to do with me. I have learned the true meaning of dignity. I have learned that it is okay to cry with someone. I have learned that the art of distraction is powerful, at any age. I have learned to multi-task far more than I ever thought possible. I have learned how beautiful people can be. I have learned how strong I can be, under pressure.

So...finals week will come and go. I will spend the next 5 days studying. (And by studying, I mean that I will spend 30% of my time on Facebook, 15% of my time watching snow fall (look! something shiny!), 23% of my time eating my stress,  35% of my time complaining about studying, 10% of my time studying and 4.2% of my time recognizing that my math skills suck.) But...at the end of it all...I will have survived. One step closer to the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

Finals Week.
May the odds be ever in your favor.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why I Don't Have An "Elf on the Shelf"

You may call him/her Buddy or Jack or Patrice or Helga. I call elf on the shelf a Pain In The Ass, or PITA, for short.


I know, I know...some of the moms (and dads) reading this are getting ready to toilet paper my house. (Two-ply, please)  But, this post is called Why I Don't Have An Elf on the Shelf. It's not called Why I Think You Shouldn't Have An Elf on the Shelf. You can do whatever you like in your house. Seriously. I won't judge.

This damn elf has made people go crazy. For real. The pressure it has created is nuts. Not only are people trying to top each other's antics (Go Big, or Go Home!), but they have to top the crazy shit that they did last year. Can't have Junior disappointed, now can we? #SuburbanMomProblems

When in the hell did Christmas become a month long process? Why is it necessary for Junior to receive a little gift every damn day of the month, to remind him to be good and that Santa is watching? Just be good, dammit. It's like your only job, as a kid. Expectation, not bribery. (Now, is that to say that I have never bribed my kids? Of course not. But it is not a month long process. It is a once in while "smile and pretend you like each other for this photo and I'll get you an ice-cream cone" kind of thing.) I've noticed that sometimes the Elf doesn't do gifts,  but is one of those naughty elves that makes messes, that the children think are hilarious. What. The. ****. Why in the world would you let PITA create a mess, that you know damn well YOU will have to clean up? I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

But, I digress.

This isn't about me not understanding the craziness. This is about why I don't have one of those little bastards living in my house.

You ready?

It has nothing to do with the bribery. Or the mess making. Or the irrational competitive drive that overwhelms some people. Or the fact that...admit it...they can be creepy little SOBs.

Point blank...I don't do Elf on The Shelf because...I'm lazy.

There. Now you have it. I can barely get Christmas gifts, stockings, neighbor gifts and teacher gifts pulled together by the 25th. If I had to come up with 25 different and creative scenarios for PITA, I would become an alcoholic.

...and I'm really not up for explaining to my kids why PITA smells like chardonnay and is face down, ass up, on the kitchen counter.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holding Hands

My job allows me to do some of the most amazing...disgusting...personal...and crazy things. Need me to sit with you, while you cry about how your children never come to see you? I'm your girl. Need me to clean out your wound, that requires me to stick. my. fingers. in. your. body? I will be gagging a wee bit inside...but I'm your girl. Need me to help you use the restroom six times in an hour? I'm glad you're hydrated...and I'm your girl.

Need me to hold your hands for an hour and a half? I'm your girl.

I have a resident that has bilateral tremors. All the time. Imagine your arms shaking, uncontrollably, all. the. time. Usually, it is just tolerated. The resident doesn't mention it much, or if they do, it's a briefly voiced frustration and they move on. The other day, that wasn't the case. The tremors didn't seem worse, to me, than normal, however they were causing some anxiety for the resident. I offered a blanket. I offered a rolled up towel for the resident to hold. No. She didn't want any of that.

"Do you want me to hold your hands?"
"Yes. I think so."

So, for the next hour and a half...we held hands.

"Holding hands is a promise...that for just a moment, the two of you don't have to face the world alone."

After about an hour, I felt like I had motion sickness. I had to have someone take over for me, for about ten minutes, just so I could have a break.  I don't know how the resident deals with this, on a daily basis. I can't imagine the feeling of being trapped in a body that won't do what I want it to, or does things that I don't want it to.

I had never really sat down and talked to this particular resident before, past asking how they were doing today and asking if they had any pain. This was an eye-opening experience for me, getting to know this resident and their past. The people I have the privilege of caring for, are amazing. Their stories, their life, their experiences. These are not your every day average people. There is something truly inspiring about every single one of them.

After pondering this for a few days, I have come to realize...we are all amazing people. Every one of us. There are no "every day average people". We all have a story and experiences to learn from, if we are given the chance. Everyone that surrounds you, has something to teach you, if you just take the time to listen.

Hold my hand.
Tell me your story.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thirty Days of Thanks

1. Today I am thankful for fear. Some fear keeps you safe; other fear teaches you to be strong.
2. Today I am thankful for the learned ability to be more calm at work, when everything goes wrong. In a 30 second period.
3. Today I am thankful for people who can make me laugh. Laughter heals the soul. 
4. Today I am thankful for Josh and how hard he works for our family. Our children are incredibly lucky to have him for a father. 
5. Today I am thankful for patience. Those who force me to have it...and those who have it with me. 
6. Today I am thankful for beautiful fall colors and living in a state where I can enjoy them. 
7. Today I am thankful to have a career that I love. A career in which I feel like I make a difference...sometimes big, sometimes small...every single day. 
8. Today I am thankful for healthy babies and the knowledge of the medical community. I was scared today. I don't always like being a nurse...sometimes ignorance is bliss. 
9. Today I am thankful for friends that are loving and accepting. It is good to feel like you aren't alone in this world. 
10. Today I am thankful for feeling like I'm moving forward, rather than merely treading water. 
11. Today I am thankful for knowing what to do. No panic. No worry. Clear head. 
12. Today I am thankful for Bailey and the amazing example that she is to her siblings. 
13. Today I am thankful that I got to be there. I'm thankful that she got to spend his few remaining hours with him, in peace and was able to say good-bye. 
14. Today I am thankful for Ry and her thoughtfulness. I love getting texts while I'm at work, just because she wants to make my day better. 
15. Today I am thankful for Bek and how she manages to flawlessly deal with my insane schedule. I couldn't pursue my dreams without her love and support. 
16. Today I am thankful for Luke and the way he can make me laugh like nobody else in this world. 
17. Today I am thankful for lazy days full of cooking, playing and giggling. These types of days are too few and far between lately. 
18. Today I am thankful for people who can say, "I know exactly how you're feeling.", in so many areas of my life. Without the support that I have, I'd be nothing. 
19. Today I am thankful for being surrounded by love. 
20. Today I am thankful for the unexpected. 
21. Today I am thankful for Peanut and the perfect caboose she is for our family. Happy Birthday, my preemie princess.
22. Today I am thankful that the end of the semester is near and I am somehow surviving it.
23. Today I am thankful for Avery and the person she is becoming. I wish everyone could see her the way I do. 
24. Today I am thankful for the kindness and thoughtfulness of others.
25. Today I am thankful for a nap. Why I ever fought those as a kid, is beyond me.
26. Today I am thankful for the moments when I feel needed and the moments when I feel like I belong. 
27. Today I am thankful for friendships that have spanned multiple decades. 
28. Today I am thankful that my children are growing up in a safe and loving home. 
29. Today I am thankful for family traditions.
30. Today I am thankful for this past year, because it has taught me so many things. It has made me stronger and more patient. It has given me opportunities that I only dreamed were possible. It has brought amazing people into my life, that I can't imagine living without. This past year has served to teach me that I AM enough. Just as I am.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tell Me Your Story

I like stories.

Someone wise once shared with me: "Your past is just a story and once you realize this, it has no power over you."

I have this idea...this dream...of a book I'd like to write one day. I want to approach people in the cemetery...random people of all ages and backgrounds...and say, "Tell me your story." Why are you here? Who are you visiting? Tell me a funny memory about them. Tell me something real. I want to know why the old man is visiting a forty year old grave. I want to know why the young girl is weeping at a child's headstone. I want to know how that woman survived the loss of her husband. I want to be a collector of their stories.

People like to tell me their stories. Why? I haven't quite figured that out. But, I'm thankful to be the resting place for their trust. I don't judge their stories. I don't berate their stories. I don't chastise them for their stories. I take their stories in...and they become a part of me. It may not always be a story I want to hear...or a story I want to hold...but I listen and carry it anyway.

This is one of the reasons I love my job. I am around people, all day long, who want to share their story. At their age, they see no reason to hide from their story. They aren't ashamed or scared or unwilling to give this part of themselves. I ask, they answer. It is as simple as that. I don't offer advice...how could I? I have nothing to add to their story. It is theirs...I just listen. Sometimes, that is all that someone needs. To voice and process their story, out loud, without the world weighing in.

Some stories are hard to hear. They are painful and gouge my soul.  It is hard not to crush under the weight of those stories. I don't pity the storyteller, but I do have compassion for them. I have respect and admiration for them. I feel special and unworthy to be privy to information that few people know. Why do people trust me with their story?

Because I ask. Tell me your story.

Simply put, I want to know people's stories. I want to know why they have made the decisions they have and why they are the person that they are today. I want to know why a certain scent can send someone back two decades in their memory. I want to know why they flinch, when surprised by someone too close to them. I want to know why they avoid what they avoid and why they embrace what they embrace.

I want to know people. Knowing what makes them cry, what makes them laugh, what makes them angry, what makes them cower in fear...is to understand them. If you understand someone, you can love them...and accept them...and support them, through whatever may come.

Being able to love and accept other people for their stories, allows me to love and accept myself...and my story.

Tell me your story.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Don't Worry, Be Happy

What do you need to be happy? When you break your emotional well-being down to its very core, what is necessary for you to have in your life, for you to thrive?

Im a girl. My needs and wants are subject to change, based on the music playing on the radio at the moment, or the clothes I'm wearing that day. (Aren't women FUN?) 

Today, this is what I need to be happy...

I need to feel loved. I need laughter; I need to laugh and make others laugh. I need to feel wanted. I need consistency and follow through from other people. I need reassurance. I need hugs on bad days, without asking for them. I need to feel needed. I need to serve other people. I need to feel like I make a difference and that I've contributed to the greater good. I need to feel passion in my life; passion for others and passion for my career. I need the feeling of accomplishment and achievement. Big or small. I need to be allowed to be irrational...and then be allowed to say I'm sorry to whomever I hurt. I need to be working on a goal. Always. I need new experiences so I don't feel stagnant. 

I need people who allow me to be unapologetically ME.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Insane Courage

Courage has been on my mind lately. Why? No idea. But, like most everything else that plagues me, if I don't get it out...write it down...talk about it...it eats at me until I do.  
"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.
Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery.
And I promise you, something great will come of it."
When faced with some trial in life, we build it up in our minds. We make it larger than it is and give it more power than it deserves. We create a worst case scenario and dwell on it, until it consumes us. We imagine the amount of courage that this trial will require to overcome...when in reality, it takes very little courage. All we need is a short burst of insane courage to say what we need to say, or jump in, or stand up.
It takes insane courage to say "I love you" or "I'm sorry". Just say it. Gather all your courage up into a tight ball and hurl it at the other person. It's up to them at that point, if they throw it back.
It takes insane courage to stand up to someone that you are intimidated by. Or to stand up for something that you feel strongly about. Insane courage, my friends. But, once you start it...you can finish it. Do not be mean. Do not be condescending. Be truthful. Stand your ground.
Living your true life. Being unapologetically you. Super hard, right? Not everyone will agree with choices you make in your life. From who you love, to where you go to school, to which house you buy, to how you cut your hair...everyone has an opinion. This can take insane courage, almost daily, but in big giant bursts. Once you announce that this is who you are and these are your choices, to someone, you no longer have to carry the weight of being something you are not. The other person now has to choose how to handle the information.

Scary things in life are rarely as big as we make them, in our heads. The less power  you give scary things, the more power and courage you have for facing hard things. You can do hard things. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Peanut!

Dear Peanut,
Happy birthday, my baby girl. The last five years have flown by! This year you have transformed into a little person with your own thoughts, ideas and sense of humor. You definitely get your sense of humor from me...witty with just enough sass. ;)
You are so incredibly smart, my girl. You impress me with how quickly you pick up concepts and your understanding of sarcasm. You will stand up to anyone, no matter how big or small; your fiery temperament tells me that you will not let people push you around and for that...I am thankful. You are also so incredibly tender. You are the first one to great me with hugs and kisses and you love to hold my hand. You randomly spout off, "Mom! You're the best!" or "Mom! I love you this big!". It melts me into a mushy puddle.
My little caboose...I can't imagine a better way to complete a chapter of my life. You have been such a blessing to our family and to my soul. I love you, Peanut butter. To the moon and back. Happy, happy birthday.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nothing Can Prepare You

Nothing can prepare you for death. No amount of studying, no book, no lecture...nothing...can prepare you for how it feels to lose someone that you have cared for, for months.

I knew that eventually I would have my first death on my shift. I have come close, numerous times, to losing someone under my care. Residents that come in on hospice, that we expect to go at anytime...their death I could have dealt with well. I have comforted their families and I have cried with their families...not because I was close to this person, but because the look in their spouse's or children's eyes is all too familiar.

Yesterday was different. Yesterday was a resident I felt an attachment to. I knew this resident and I knew the family. I knew the tough decisions to be made and the struggles. I knew how this resident felt and I hated watching the process. Once decisions were made, I knew I wanted to be there. I had to be there. For the resident and for the family. I knew, that under my care, this resident would be at peace and comfortable. I knew the family would have all their needs met, while they spent the last few hours together. I'm sure any other nurse would have done the same thing, but I felt a sort of ownership of this situation and I wanted to be the one doing it all.

Nothing can prepare you for the range of emotions that you feel, as the nurse. Nothing can prepare you, when you realize today is different than previous days and that today...your interventions are not going to work. Nothing can prepare you for the realization that the last time you said good morning to someone, would be the last time that they would respond. Nothing can prepare you for the call, notifying family that they need to come. Now. Nothing can prepare you for the hard conversations.

Nothing can prepare you for how you can change, in an instance. Suddenly, you know exactly what to do. You know exactly what to say. You know how to comfort someone, watching their loved one go through the dying process. You know how to explain, at their level,  that everything they are seeing, is expected. You know how to reassure them that there is no pain. You know how to gently tell them that they don't need to be scared. You know how to involve them, gauged to their comfort, with the last few hours of cares. You know how to be confident, allowing them to lean on you. You know how to tuck away your own fears and insecurities and feelings...so that all involved are receiving the best.

Nothing can prepare you for the moment that life eases out. For the bated breath that everyone in the room will have, as you place your stethoscope on someone's chest and where the rhythmic sound of life should be...there is silence. Nothing can prepare you for having to look their loved one in the eyes and gently shake your head. Nothing.

Nothing can prepare you for your own good-bye, after the family has gone. For a few stolen seconds, to stand in the fading sunlight through their window, hold their hand and silently thank them for letting you care for them. For allowing you to be present at their most intimate times.

Nothing can prepare you for the flood of emotions. Sadness. Peace. Gratitude. Love. Nothing can prepare you for the way that a death can...in an instant...make you feel so alive.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Baby Ani

Two days ago, my baby was born.
Okay, so she isn't technically mine, but I love her like one of my own.
My best friend, Amey, and I have been friends longer in our lives, than we haven't. That is a lot of memories, experiences and fabulousness, over the last nearly two decades. One amazing thing we have always shared with each other, is the birth of our children. I still feel so privileged and awed, that she would allow me to share such a special day and moment with her and her husband.
Ani's birth story is Amey's. I won't go into details about everything that happened, because it's not my story to tell. Birth can be such an amazing thing...but it can also remind you so very quickly how miraculous the entire process is. It can remind you that while most deliveries go flawlessly...they don't always follow that path.
I hated being a nurse, the day Ani was born. I hated the knowledge I had, because I knew exactly what was happening. There was no placating me with a smile from the medical team, because I read behind the smile. I saw the stress and concern, on all their faces. I knew what the medications and procedures were for. I knew what the worst case scenario could be. I knew what the absolute worst case scenario could be. Ignorance is bliss, when a person you love is the one at stake.
I admit it...I panicked. Inside. I wanted to fix it...and I couldn't. I wanted the entire scene unfolding before me to go away...but it didn't. I questioned ever wanting to go into labor and delivery as a career choice, because I could barely hold it together. I know now that I could have held it together flawlessly, if it hadn't been Amey. I left the hospital that day...and cried. Everyone was fine. Everyone is fine. But I wasn't. I don't like the feeling of helplessness and I don't like being scared. I hold it together for everyone around me...I don't like to lose control...and I felt completely out of control at that moment.
I'm so happy that everything turned out the way it did. I'm relieved that out of a worst case scenario, came the best result. I'm thankful that all of the births we have shared in the past, have been relatively easy. Every baby is a miracle...including Miss Ani...and so is her Momma. ♥
AniLerrie Kendrienne
7 lbs 8 oz 19.5 in

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Bald and the Beautiful...Six Years Later

Six Years Ago

 To read the original newspaper article, click here.

I still haven't really cut my hair. It has been trimmed and it has been dyed and it has been layered...but I have yet to whack off a good chunk, since the day I went under the razor. I have this plan that when I finally do cut it, it will be long enough to donate to Locks of Love. I just haven't found the courage to do it yet.

I don't regret doing it; I didn't then and I don't know. I'm thankful that we all got to share that amazing day with her. Her laughter and love has been a huge void in our lives, for four years now. I would do it again, in a heartbeat, if it meant one more day with Mom. One hug. One moment.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Carter

Dear Carter,

Happy 5th birthday, my Little One. You have been on my mind a lot lately, as your birthday has approached. I still sense your presence around me, at times, and it makes me smile. Luke still brings you up the most...I have a feeling you must visit him more often than the girls.

I ran my half marathon this year, Little One. Whenever I felt too tired and wanted to give up, I talked to you. You ran with me a lot during training and I knew you wouldn't let me down on the big day. I knew you were there. Thank you for holding my hand and pulling me along. I couldn't have done it without you.

It has been a hard year, Little One. School is challenging and pushes me to my limits every single day. I almost had to care for a Mom in the PACU, that was waking up from her D&C. I was thankful that she wasn't out of surgery before I had to go for the day. It would have been too hard, to watch her open her eyes and see her face shatter, as reality settles back in through the anesthetic haze. I remember all too well, waking up and crying out...knowing in that instant that you were really gone.

Watch over us, Little One. Celebrate your birthday in Heaven, knowing that we would give anything to have you here with us. Bounce on a cloud, dance on a star...and never forget how much I love you.


Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm Proud Of Her

I don't shock easily. Not much throws me off my game, these days. I mean, once you've had your hand inside someone's abdomen, there really is nothing else. If that didn't shake me, what would?

My kid.

I had a conversation with the twelve year old last Friday that rocked my foundation a bit. I was once again so proud. So pleased that my child will seemingly talk to me about anything. As I've raised her (them) that has been a huge priority...talk to me. You can tell me anything. I won't judge. I won't yell. I won't get mad. Just talk to me. With that said...I felt like I had walked into some after school special.

I won't go into details, because the conversation involves more than just her, but I was so incredibly proud of her for telling me. I felt in that instant, that maybe I'm not the failure of a Mom that I worry I am half the time. This "almost teenager" crap is hard work, my friends. Hard. Work.

Today, this story got deeper. She took every ounce of courage that she had in her willowy little body and did the right thing. The hard thing. The challenging thing. I have no doubt that because of this act of bravery, she saved someone's life today.

Listen to your children, parents. Even if they jabber on endlessly about who wore what and who is dating who and how the fruit at lunch was gross and they never. seem. to. stop. talking. Listen to them. Because eventually...they won't be jabbering. There won't be an endless flow of girly chatter. They will be sharing with you a worry and a burden that is too large for them to carry by themselves. They will need your guidance and your support. They will need to be wrapped up in a huge hug and told "I'm proud of you. You did the right thing."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Don't Know All The Answers

We've all hit our breaking point.
There have been threats made.
I fear...for our future.

No, seriously, this semester blows. I don't know if it's because we are all just burnt out, all working in the medical field now, along with school or the fact that our guidance has been less than stellar. Or a combination of the above.

Regardless...it blows.

My class is in a constant stage of "let's-quit-and-run-away." (And burn the building down, on our way out.)

I've taken a lot of online courses in my time. Hell, I've been a college student for the last 7-ish years. This isn't my first rodeo. I know how they work. Or, rather...how they should work. I should get power points. For every class, for every week. I should get a lecture. Recorded, live, something. I should get some kind of interaction with my professor that doesn't involve him/her blaming the class for being shitty. I should get some assistance, not a determination that our work ethic sucks and we just need to buck up.

If everyone could learn to be a nurse just by being assigned 100 pgs of reading, in scattered areas of a few books, and then being tested on it...everyone would be nurses. This isn't a driver's ed booklet, for hell's sake.

Engage me!
Teach me!
Break it down into simpler terms!
Tell me stories by relating the concept to a patient you've dealt with!

Don't admit to me that you don't know the answers to the test I'm taking. Don't admit to me that in order to correct my assignment, you had to consult a nurse who actually works in that field. Don't become frustrated that I don't know all the answers, when it's been made clear time and time again...that you don't either.

Am I blaming? Maybe. Am I frustrated? Absolutely. Could I give school more of my time and attention. Of course. We all could. But...there comes a point where priorities have to dictate. There comes a point where kids, family, work...they all take priority.

Telling us that we suck and that we're going to be nursing school drop-outs isn't the solution.

It's the problem.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I Gained

I knew when I finally became a nurse, I would gain a lot of things. I knew I would gain a sense of accomplishment. I did this. Me. No one else did my school work or put in the hours to get me here. I knew I would gain job stability. I will always be able to find a job, no matter where I go. Will it always be in the specialty that I want? No...and that's a good thing. I've learned so much by being in long-term care and rehab...when I originally swore up and down that I would never work in "an old folk's home".

What I didn't know I would gain is self confidence. The ability to talk to strangers. To be able to walk into a room of people I don't know, and hold my head high. To be able to deal with people that aren't pleasant, with poise.

Those that know me...I mean REALLY know me...know how little self confidence I have. They know how hard it is for me to be in new places, with new people, and feel comfortable. They know how much I would rather sit in the corner at an unfamiliar place and go completely unoticed, instead of be the center of attention. Those who think otherwise...well...they don't really know me. 

Nursing has forced me to put myself out there, in social situations. It has forced me to talk to people I don't know. >stranger danger!< It has forced me to be the one that people come to with questions.

It has forced me so far out of my comfort zone. 

"Life begins, at the end of your comfort zone."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Angry Momma Bear

I'm a rational human being.

I can see both sides to any situation and most of the time, I can argue for either side. (Really should have gone to law school, huh?)

This applies, even in situations with my kids. I'm not the crazy Mom that thinks her kids are perfect. If there is a fight going on with a neighbor kid, I know there is a 50% chance that it is my kid's fault. I don't assume my kids are perfect...because they aren't.

When it comes to my kids and school, I know that I expect a lot. I want them to learn from my journey and attempt to avoid the hardships and challenges I've faced. When something is going on with them in regards to school, I do not blame the teacher. Or the school. Or anyone else on faculty. I want to get to the bottom of a situation and solve it, but I'm not one to lay blame.

Avery has a F in history. She has one missing assignment, that is causing this F. Avery swears she handed it in. Avery says her teacher says she didn't. Avery says her teacher won't print her another one, because Avery needs to find her missing paper.

What does the teacher say about this?

I. Don't. Know. See...when I've reached out to the teacher to get her side and her guidance, I've not been responded to. When Josh has reached out to the teacher, he has not been responded to.

That irks me.

We are the parents of a student in your class. We deserve a response.

Five days ago, I sent this:

Dear History Teacher,

I am writing in regards to Avery Garrard. She currently has an F in history and when I asked her about the missing assignments she is adamant that she handed them in. I'm not agreeing with her, but I'm wondering what we can do at this point in regards to the missing work. Avery's medication dosage was recently doubled by her psychiatrist and unfortunately one of the short term side effects is forgetfulness. I don't say this to make an excuse for her, but perhaps to explain that she is not being difficult on purpose. We've seen an increase in her leaving homework and study materials at school, since the dosage increase. If it doesn't resolve soon and continues to affect her schoolwork, we do have a plan in place, with the guidance of her psychiatrist, to hopefully remedy the situation. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do.

The Mom

I got nothing. Nothing. Not even a "Hey, got your email, but I'm gonna be super busy for the next week and will respond when I can."

So, today I sent an email to her main teacher:

Dear Main Teacher,

I reached out to The History Teacher on 10/3 in regards to Avery’s grade. I have not gotten a reply and Avery is still showing as having a F in history. Do you have any suggestions for me? I’m not asking for special treatment for Avery, I would just like it to be acknowledged that we ARE aware of this situation and asking for guidance. I would hate to see her remain at an F because of one missing assignment, that Avery still to this day says that she handed it in. I’ve checked on Compass and unfortunately there is not a way for me to print the assignment.
I welcome any help that you can give me.

The Mom

Now? Now I'm becoming frustrated. And angry. And turning into a Momma Bear.

I can't do my job as the parent, if someone is unwilling to do their job as a teacher. I know teachers have a lot on their plates. I'm not disregarding that at all. I think teachers are amazing and underpaid and underappreciated. I appreciate everything that all of my children's teachers do. I just want to be acknowledged, as a parent trying to do her best, that my concerns are being listened to.

It doesn't help that this is the second teacher that I have opened up to, a little bit, about Avery's situation, who has ignored me. This happened last year, as well. Why can't I just get someone, anyone, to recognize the struggles that I...the struggles that AVERY...faces on a daily basis? I don't want special treatment. I don't want her to float by on her "excuse". I just want someone to take the time to say that they see her. Just see my child and who she is!

I will never stop fighting for her.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Makes Someone Beautiful?

A letter to my children...

What is beauty? Is it skinny legs and a tiny waist? Is it a perfect nose and long hair? Is it blue eyes? Brown eyes? Green eyes? Perfect teeth? A certain number on the scale?

These things may fall into some people's idea of what attractiveness is, but these things are not what makes someone beautiful.

Beautiful is a tired mother, pushing her giggling toddler on a swing, on a lazy fall afternoon.
Beautiful are the hands of an elderly couple, linked by love, hardship, commitment and six decades.
Beautiful is a mind that is able to respect different ideas, without needing to approve of them.
Beautiful is the teacher who stays after school, to help the struggling student with his reading.
Beautiful is the soul of the victim, who has forgiven.
Beautiful are those that build up the worth of others.
Beautiful is the woman who stands up for herself and her family.
Beautiful is the sound of the wind, blowing through the autumn trees.
Beautiful is the man with tough hands, calming a crying newborn.
Beautiful is the drive to follow your passions, even if the drive leads you off road.
Beautiful are the eyes of the dying; all "worldly" problems have been stripped away.
Beautiful are the arms of a mother, comforting her child.
Beautiful is a cancer survivor.
Beautiful is the lap of a grandparent; from where all the best stories are told.
Beautiful is self confidence, self worth and self reliance.

Beauty is more than how you look, my children; it is in who you are. Beauty is in the way you are kind to those that may not deserve it and in the way you help those that can't repay you. Beautiful is when you are a voice for someone that doesn't have one; when you stand up for those that can't stand up for themselves. Beauty is in knowing who you are and never apologizing for it or defending it. Being beautiful is not about the clothes you wear, what your body looks like or how big your bank account is.  Beauty is about the smile you wear, what your soul feels like and how big your heart is.

You are the most beautiful people I have ever known.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fifteen Years Ago

He stuttered out the request...and I said yes.

Fifteen years ago today, Josh and I went to the homecoming dance at my high school...and I swore I'd never go out with him again. He didn't talk. He didn't know how to dance. He let me pay for dinner. It. Was. Awkward.

Life since has been a whirlwind. It has been very, very great at times...and very, very bad at times. We have struggled through so much, merely kids pretending to be grown ups, but we always stuck it through. Deaths, lost jobs, broken down cars, financial worries, sickness, surgeries, sleepless nights, lonely days, arguments, stupid choices, and a miscarriage were all balanced out by births, giggles, new jobs, hugs, goals achieved and LOVE.

"We may not have gone where we intended to go...
but I think we have ended up where we needed to be."
I love you, bun boy. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What I Learned Today...

Today I had clinicals and was lucky enough to go to the emergency room, instead of oncology, like I was originally scheduled for. Not that I don't like oncology, or didn't have a good experience...but, seriously...the ER??? Of course I'm going to jump at the chance. Even though it is one area of the hospital that I feel the least comfortable in. I mean...go to oncology, you're gonna deal with cancer. Go to labor and delivery...babies. Orthopedics...joint and bone crap. The ER? You have no idea what is going to walk in...or be pushed in...those doors.

I was lucky enough to be paired with an awesome nurse. While our day wasn't exceptionally busy, I still learned a lot.

1. Drugs are bad. Just say no. They will lead you down a path you don't want to go down. (And that path leads to the ER.)

2. You can only be nice for so long...then you have to be stern.

3. You cannot help someone that does not want to help themselves.

4. Bored medical personnel will do some strange things to entertain themselves.

5. Avgard hand sanitizer tastes similar to a lemon martini. No, I didn't test this out...I decided to trust the word of the ER doc.

Did I mention that I have the ability to "kill" any department I'm in? If I'm scheduled there, they are guaranteed to have a slow day. True story. It is my own personal super power. It's happened to me, my entire nursing school career.

My nurse and I had two patients. The whole time I was there.


My powers live on. ;)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm A Bad Mom

Ever have "those" moments? Those moments when you look around, on some unsuspecting Tuesday morning and feel...like you're a bad mom.

You didn't even see your kids before they went off to school this morning, because you were still sleeping. You are a lazy, lazy woman, who worked late last night and just couldn't. drag. herself. out. of. bed. Due to their own schedules, you realize that you haven't seen one of them since yesterday morning, when she was getting dropped off at school. Hey, Mommy loves you...

Speaking of school...they have been back to school for a month now. Yet, you can barely remember your kids' teachers' names. In your defense, each child has multiple teachers, thanks to the way charter school runs the show...and the kid in jr high has like seven...all by herself. *thinking* "Three kids times three teachers, plus one kid times seven teachers, plus the Peanut in preschool is at least...108 names I'd have to remember." Maybe this isn't my fault, after all.

You used to be the Mom that would all but background check anyone who looked at your kids. Now, you get a random text, on a Monday afternoon, that says that your daughter's gymnastic carpool is set up. You don't have to worry about driving her. Three times a week. Thank you, kind, unknown stranger. You had me at "You don't have to worry about driving her. Three times a week." Your day continues until a few hours later, when you come to your senses and ask who the hell is at the other end of the text. Perhaps you should be better about saving contacts in your phone...

You also realize that you haven't done or seen very much homework at all in the last month. And I don't mean the kind that discusses ABG's, abruption placentae or PCA's. You've done plenty of that homework. I mean homework about the 50 states, reading comprehension, Latin or Spanish. Hey, kids, how's your homework going? Wanna trade? The weekly progress reports that you get in your email (and that you find time to read four days later) show that the kids are all passing and doing fine. Without your help. Well fine. No, seriously...you guys wanna trade?

Then it hits you. Your house is still standing. Your kids are still thriving. Chores are still sort of being done. You have raised children that are somewhat self-sufficient and who are living in a house with support other than yourself. They aren't starving to death. (As evidenced by the 4 year old who thinks she is cleverly sneaking potato chips at 8:48 in the morning.) I hear you crunching! Perhaps you aren't a bad mom. Perhaps you are doing everything right, in order for your offspring to survive in this cold, cruel world.

So, you're welcome, children. You're welcome, that Mommy is a hot mess, flying by the seat of her pants, trying to make it through this last year of school. You're welcome that Mommy is working too many hours and really needs to learn how to say no. You're welcome that I haven't brought up the disgusting mess under your bed, because I'm just too tired to deal with it. (However, know that I am aware of it...so watch the attitude, or you'll come home on some unsuspecting Wednesday and find that mess ON your bed.) You're welcome, that Mommy-guilt is real and powerful...so you get spoiled on my rare days off.

Thank you. For being amazing kids.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Am A Nurse

I am a nurse.

Sometimes, I leave for work when it's dark...and I get home when it's dark.

Sometimes, I cry for you and your family. It's in the hall. It's in the bathroom. It's in my car. You never see it. But, I do.

Sometimes, I go my entire shift without eating a single bite. Of anything. For twelve plus hours.

Sometimes, I have to keep my "nurse face" on, while holding in my hands your poop. Or puke. Or...I don't even know what.

Sometimes, I'm scared. I don't always know what the answer is.

Sometimes, I see you at your most...intimate moments. It really is okay. I don't mind.

Sometimes, I see you at your most personal moments...thank you for allowing me to care for you.

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night, worried about you.

Sometimes, I don't sit down for entire shift. My back aches. My feet ache. My head aches.

Sometimes, I go home covered in things that no one should be covered in.

Sometimes, I miss an entire day in the life of my family...so that I can take care of yours.

I never deserve to be yelled at, or talked down to. Especially when the matter is trivial in the "real world"...let alone the world where I am caring for your ill family member.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thirty-two Things I've Learned This Year

1. The older I get, the faster time goes.
2. Time heals all wounds; but scars can remain forever. 
3. Some people will surprise you. Let them. 
4. Some people will not surprise you. Don't let it ruin your life. 
5. I am lucky to have family. Family I was born into, family I married into, family I created and family I chose. 
6. The stress of keeping a secret, like a surprise vacation out of the country, was totally worth it. 
7. I can handle far more than I give myself credit for. 
8. You can point one finger and judge...or extend five fingers to offer service and comfort. The choice is yours, but remember that it speaks volumes about who YOU are...not the person you are condemning. 
9. Thirteen miles is every bit as painful as I assumed it would be. 
10. I can argue any side of any debate. I see this as evidence of an open mind. My husband sees this as being unable to win an argument. Ever. 
11. I have had the good sense to surround myself with people who have immeasurable amounts of patience. 
12. You can only control yourself; no one else. Likewise, no one has control over me. 
13.  Angels really are among us. I'm reminded of this daily. 
14. I am grateful for my troubles. In all reality, my troubles are minimal compared to what others endure. 
15. A hug can solve a lot. A good cry can solve what a hug can't. For everything else...there is wine. 
16. I underestimate my children's abilities. 
17. Having my first child start junior high was every bit as traumatic as I thought it would be. 
18. Nursing truly is my calling. It is hard, emotionally, physically and even spiritually...but I know, without a doubt, that I was born to be a nurse. 
19. Love is messy. 
20. It can be hard to walk away from things and say good-bye...even when the change is something you want. 
21. Know who you can count on and who you can't. Do not confuse the two and you will rarely be disappointed. Perhaps surprised...but rarely disappointed. 
22. I cannot be everything to everyone. 
23. Living your life your way may mean that some people choose not to walk your path with you. Allow them to self select out. Their time in your life is over and their purpose has been served. Wish them well. 
24. I appreciate time with my children now, more than ever. They are growing so fast. 
25. Do not be afraid to try new things. Try everything once. 
26. Broomsticks are useful. Random crap you learn as a nurse. No...I will not explain that one. 
27. Everyone has a story. 
28. Apologize when you are wrong. Mean it. 
29. I am responsible for my own happiness. No other person on this planet can define my happiness better than I can. 
30. I am terrified of dying alone. I want to be surrounded by love, when I go. 
31. I do not need to control 100% of things, 100% of the time. 
32. Love is personal. Do not try to define someone else's love and do not allow someone else to write your definition of love. Replace the word "love" with "life" and this statement still holds true. 
Happy 32nd birthday to me. :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

I Paid Money To Do This?!

So, picture this:
About four months ago, while taking the kids out for ice-cream, I get this crazy idea...
"Why don't we train, for the next four months, in the blistering heat, to run 13.1 miles? THEN, we will PAY someone, to get up at 4:00 in the morning, to ride a bus to the top of a mountain, to be left in the chilly air, with thousands of other people and a hundred porta-potties for a couple hours, before we run down the mountain???" Yeah...why in the hell didn't someone slap me and bring me to my senses?
For the next four months I trained. And trained. And trained. I trained on days that I wanted to train...and it was amazing. I trained on days that I did not want to train...and some of those days turned out amazing, too. I trained on days that I left the gym crying, upset that it hadn't gone the way I had expected. I trained on days that I had to get up at 4 am, to drive to a neighboring town and leave the car, to run home, just to get in enough miles. I trained on days where the pain from my legs was unbearable. I paid over $1,000 in medical testing, ruling out a stress fracture, torn ligaments and ripped muscles. Finally, after finding out it was more of a circulation thing and being prescribed compression knee-high "socks" (can you say SEXY?), I found some relief. I trained through my running partner's gallbladder removal surgery. (She trained through that recovery! Can you say ROCKSTAR???) I trained through school, finals week, a trip to Mexico, crazy long work days, days with migraines, "I don't give a damn" days, studying for and taking the NCLEX, starting a new job and days that I just wanted to quit. I trained.
"Believe in yourself and all that you are.
Know that there is something greater inside you,
that is greater than any obstacle."
No one tells you what you are getting yourself into, when you train to run these kinds of distances. No one tells you about the need to pee, so badly, that you can't stand it...and you're still 5 miles from home. No one tells you that you really do fear pooping your pants (which I will gladly say NEVER happened to me). No one tells you that your feet will swell and be painful to the touch. No one tells you that your toenails will feel like they are being ripped from your body, like a military torture session. No one tells you that your sports bra can rub a permanent mark around your rib cage that swells, turns red and BURNS. No one tells you that your appetite goes through the roof because you are running your ass off. No one tells you that it's possible that you will train for four months and not lose any weight. At all. No one tells you that although you didn't lose any weight, you finally got your bum more toned, "Heeeeyyyy, bottom buttcheek! Nice to meet you!" 
No one tells you that the greatest obstacle you will face with training...is yourself.
The race we chose to do is Top of Utah, in Logan, Utah. Because it is about two hours from home, we decided to make a weekend of it and get a couple hotel rooms. It was important to me that the kids see me finish this goal I had set for myself and I figured that one last hurrah before my semester started, was well deserved. We arrived at the hotel Friday afternoon, picked up our race packets and went to dinner. By 9 pm we were asleep, knowing that we needed to be up at 4 am. We boarded the bus from our hotel to the park, where we changed buses and were driven to the starting line. Weaving through the canyon on the way up felt like it took forever. Knowing that we were going to have to get back down to the finish line, on our own, was a little daunting. At this point, the furthest run I had done was 12 miles. But, what was another 1.1 miles at this point, right?
We stood at the top of the mountain, with a couple thousand other amped up runners...and waited. Most people were fantastic. They were nice, they were helpful, they were friendly. There is always that group of "mean girls" that feel they need to stand around and bash other people. We quickly moved away from them...that wasn't what I needed to be listening to, before I attempted to do one of the most challenging things of my life.
When the gun went off, a cheer went up from the crowd...and we didn't move. That's what happens when you place yourself near the back of the pack. ;) You wait several minutes before you actually get to approach the starting line...but then it thins out rather quickly. The first seven or eight miles were fantastic. We ran most of it, walking only to take a drink and tie our jackets around our waist. I tried eating half a banana at mile 6 and it made me super nauseated, so I didn't eat again until we finished.
Mile 9...I hit my wall. I fought back tears and I had to dig deep within myself. I had to find that place where I can push through anything. I had to find that place within that doesn't allow me to give up. I had to pull up my big girl panties, swallow back my tears, squash down my doubt...and plug on.
Somewhere around the beginning of mile 11 we turned a corner...and there it was. I actually said out loud, "Oh. Shit.", as I looked at the hill. The next two miles would prove to challenge me, in ways I know now that I hadn't trained adequately for, as most of it was at an incline. (Which, let's take a moment to talk about. WHO DOES THAT? Who puts the last two miles of a half marathon on an uphill incline? Asshat.) This was the moment that I decided that I will never, ever, ever...do another half marathon. Again. Ever.
We could see the finish line for most of the last mile. It was like a mirage in the distance, that we swore kept moving. That was the longest mile I have ever run, in my life. But then...I saw them...and then, I heard them...my family. They were screaming, and jumping up and down and holding signs and tooting kazoos. Ahhh...my chaotic little bunch was there...and I was almost to the finish line.
They all ran along side us, for the last little stretch.

We started this training together. We made it through months of ups and downs to get here.
We for sure, were going to finish this, together! 
I have never, in my life, been so happy to finish something. I crossed the finish line, bent over and thought I was going to hurl, looked at Bek and said, "Meh. I might do another one."
After finally attempting to eat a little something, icing every part of our bodies, wincing every time I even looked at the rub marks that encircled my ribs and taking a short nap, we celebrated at Olive Garden for dinner.

Hell yes, we wore our medals to dinner. ;)
I had a date with the hot tub and the kids wanted to play in the pool, after dinner. It was a fantastic way to end an incredibly long, painful and amazing day.
My Fantastic Five
I'm happy that the race is over. I sacrificed a lot of time (and mental anguish) to train for this race...but I don't regret it. Bailey would like to run it with us next year and nothing would make me more proud, than to cross the finish line with my little ladybug. She has already started training and even now, I'm impressed with her and I can see the runner that she will become.
I'm happy that once again, I have shown my children the importance of setting goals and reaching them. The importance of pushing yourself past your comfort zone. I have shown them that nothing is unreachable, if you are willing to put in the time and the work. I want my children to know that hard is okay. They can do hard.
Luke: "Mom? I thought this was a race...? Cause you lost..."
Me: *laughing* "Darling, this was a race with myself.
No one else. And I promise you...I won today."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Whoa. Time Got Away From Me

It's been over a month since I blogged last. Yowzers.

I'll blame it on my lame computer. It became so bogged down with photos and so slow that I couldn't even work with it anymore. I've since bought a new computer and an external hard drive to play with. That should help. :)

I'll blame it on studying for the NCLEX, passing the NCLEX and then getting a new job! I've been working in a long term care and rehab facility for over a month now and I LOVE IT. It is crazy hard, emotionally and physically, but it solidifies for me that I have truly found my calling.

I'll blame it on training for my half marathon. I completed my first half marathon a couple weeks ago and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I must blog about it.

I'll blame it on school starting again. I'm only a week and a half into my new semester and I've already cried twice. I'm a tad overwhelmed with my life at the moment.

I'll blame it on the kids keeping me busy. Taekwondo tournaments and hyped up gymnastics schedules have kept me hopping.

But...I'm back. And I should post the last couple days of Mexico...and maybe I'll get there...but I have really just missed having my outlet. My place to vent and whine and discuss (with myself most of the time), all the goings on in my brain. :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SURPRISE!!! (Day Five...Photo Shoot)

From the moment we booked this trip I knew that more than anything I wanted to do a photo shoot with the kids on the beach. When would I ever get this chance again? Not likely anytime soon! I knew exactly how I wanted them to look and what I wanted them to wear. I knew they would turn out perfect. Thanks to an overcast and drizzly day (sunny days are no bueno for pictures...shadows and squinty eyes just don't look great) I got exactly what I was hoping for.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Bailey Bug!!

I am so blessed to be this child's mother.

She is such a kind soul. Too kind, sometimes...I worry she will be "walked on" or "taken advantage of" as she grows...but kind. She is always looking out for, and be the voice of, the under dog. That makes my heart melt.

I can always count on her for the best hugs. No matter where I've been or how long I've been gone, this child always greats me with a great big hug and a smile. It's good to feel loved! :)

She is always such a good kid. I mean...she has moments when "teenagerhood" rears it's ugly face...but they are typically few and far between. I love that we can talk about anything and that she has a very mature view of things.

She loves and forgives easily. I could stand to learn a few lessons from my beautiful girl.

I love you. So much. You have been a blessing in my life, from the very moment that I discovered you existed. You have changed my world in ways that I can never repay you for. I hope that you continue to be the bubbly, loving and kind young woman that you are today. You are so incredibly beautiful, inside and out, and anyone who is lucky enough to have you as part of their life, is forever changed. I love you, my beautiful little ladybug. Happy 12th birthday.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letter To Myself

Hey, you.

Yes, you.

You thought you couldn't do it, huh? You thought you would fail and have to deal with the embarrassment. You questioned your choice to give so much time and energy toward something that you might not be good enough to accomplish. You wondered how you would face the world...as a failure. You were already ashamed of yourself.

You were wrong. 

You did it.

You passed the NCLEX.

"I'm going to be a nurse one day" has now turned into "I'm a nurse. I'm. A. Freaking. Nurse."

Have a little faith in yourself, would you?

Now...go find a job. ;)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

NCLEX Schmclex

I realize that it has been nearly a month since I blogged. I realize that I have yet to finish blogging our amazing vacation (I want to go back so. damn. bad.) I realize that this summer is getting away from me.

I have a good reason!

Tomorrow, I take the NCLEX. The first NCLEX I will take, to earn my first nursing license. Yes, after years of droning on and on and on about becoming a nurse...I will soon actually be one. Soon. So soon. Like, I will know for certain by this weekend, soon.


I have spent the last five days studying. I think I have taken more notes in the last five days than I did all last year. I have taken several practice tests. The sole purpose of those, I have decided, is to break me down emotionally and suck every last ounce of confidence out of my body.

The pressure is slowly killing me. I stupidly planned this exam after the 4th of July parades and I'm pretty sure I have stress eaten my weight in taffy. My hair is falling out. I clench my jaw so much that I'm exhibiting TMJ symptoms. I no longer dream of bunnies and rainbows, but of words like ketoacidosis, ischemia, betamethasone and hypernatremia. I have so many lab values floating in my head that it may explode...and numbers will come spilling out like a movie theater popcorn machine gone berserk.

Everyone who has taken the exam already tells me that there is nothing I can do to prepare. I will be questioned about medications I have never heard of and a third of the questions will be "select all that apply". They tell me not to waste my time studying and to just take a nap...because they wished they would have.

They have all passed.

I still can't do it.

I prefer to teeter on the edge of sanity, worried that I will be "The One". I will be the one to fail it. I will be the one who has to show up in the fall when classes start, without my license, because I couldn't hack it. I will be the one who chokes, at the most important time. I will be The One.

God bless my family. They bring me food. They bring me water. They go for runs with me, when I need a break. They hug me when I want to cry. I couldn't do this without them. I pray...I don't let them down.