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.