Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lesson learned

I work the weekend program. This means that I work every weekend, but get every 6th weekend off. The big downside to this is that they force you to use your vacation time on that 6th weekend. This weekend was supposed to be my weekend off, but I signed up to be on call so I could use my vacation when I want, instead of on every 6th weekend. I really shouldn't have done that. First, it's the weekend before Christmas and I really could have used the extra wrapping/baking/cleaning time. Second, I found that working every weekend starts to wear on you after a while. 

Still, I was signed up to go, and go I did last night at 7 pm. I have to admit that I was not in a great mood, but quickly found a bridge and got over it. Still, when my nursing supervisor came to me at 10 pm and told me I was getting canceled for the 11 pm - 7 pm portion of my shift I was pretty excited. Me, "Oh, ok, no problem." Me, on the inside, "YES! Oh thank you so very very much."
I almost started doing the horsey dance right there in the hallway.
 Because I was only in for 4 hours and had 11 patients with 5 weekly skin assessments, I had to stay an extra hour to finish my charting. Still, I was home in bed by 1:30. Now, instead of sleeping all day, I get a bonus day with my family. Score!

Hope you all have a bonus day soon too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Doing the all the Christmas things

Because I've been working full time, getting ready for Christmas and finishing my first BSN class, I am clearly not updating the blog often. Instead, you get the past 2 weeks at once. Enjoy.

Gummy Bear, riding an invisible pony, I assume. This is one of those pictures that you take, forget what was going on, and then realize it doesn't matter because the story you made up is probably better.

You know how you get your kids to vacuum? Buy a cool new vacuum.

We had grand plans to go stalk and shoot our own Christmas tree this year. Instead, we went to a local nursery and pointed.

The decorating is the fun part though, and the kids had a blast. Bear is our light tryer-outer, both inside and out.

Cheeky Monkey mostly played in the boxes and tried to destroy stuff.

After I rolled out the pizza dough for dinner that night, Bear completely made the rest of the pizza. And it was delicious.

Cheeky Monkey had his holiday program at the preschool. Watching a bunch of 3-year-olds sing holiday songs is just about the cutest thing ever. Also, it explains Monkey's obsession with Hanukkah this year.

We did the Sesame Place Christmas again this year, and again we were not disappointed. They do a really nice job with the decorations and Christmas-themed activities. The prizes for the fishing game were stuffed animals with Santa hats.

And the kids kept them warm in their jackets. Because, you wouldn't want your frog to freeze.

We almost got a good family picture.

And then we amused ourselves while we waited in the 15 minute line to see Santa. It was the only line we waited in all day.

Bear was all about Santa this year. Fin was not so sure, but did eventually climb up on the big man's lap. Requests for this year? Arthur Christmas (a delightful Christmas movie) for the Bear and a clock for Monkey. Done and done little ones.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pretty much sums it up

I'm not sure why this picture is showing up sideways, but it is too cute not to share. Gummy Bear has been having some adjustment issues with kindergarten. I feel like there are a couple of issues going on. The Bear likes to talk ... and talk and talk and talk. This serves the dual purpose of getting on his teacher's nerves and keeping him from getting his work done. If you have met him once or twice, you also know that he tends to do things without thinking. Like today, he stuck a raisin up his nose at snack time. Why? Who knows. He certainly doesn't. I got a note home, no more raisins. Good times.

What this means is that we've had a lot of conversations with his kindergarten teacher and he has had a lot of "yellow" days. I have to admit that my enthusiasm for her is waning, but we are doing our level best to help him adjust to the new rules of kindergarten. For the past week or two, we have had a lot of discussions with the Bear about asking himself, "Self, is this a good thing to do?" BEFORE he does something.

Today after yet another impulsive decision, I asked him what he needed to do to remind himself to ask his "self" before doing something. "I dunno," he said. Taking a page from my Dad's playbook, I suggested that we write a note for him to carry to help him remember. He was awfully excited about the idea and came up with this masterpiece:

"My mouth is open because my brain is asking myself, 'self,should I do this?'"
He put it in his school folder to help him remember tomorrow at school. Having observed the Bear in many different situations, I feel like his issues are pretty age-appropriate. I think his teacher has a pet peeve that Bear's ... idiosyncracies line up with pretty exactly. He's at the top of his class, academically. It's the social development (sit down, be quiet, don't touch that) that's lagging behind. Sigh. Thankfully, he still seems to be enjoying school. There is a very fine line between addressing the problem and making it the only thing we talk about.

Anyway, I thought the drawing was pretty brilliant. And I think he's pretty brilliant. And I wanted to share the brilliance.

Friday, November 23, 2012

(Night) shifting

Happy post-Thanksgiving, ya'll! We had a lovely holiday over at my mom's house. We went over early, had breakfast and spent the whole day. It was like we had traveled to visit.  We also had turkey and ham, so my holiday cockles are totally warmed.

This year I have so much to be thankful for. Here is my list, in no particular order:

1. My family. I have the world's most wonderful husband, who tirelessly puts up with me, loves me and supports me. My two beautiful boys are happy, healthy, and gorgeous. My mom and stepdad live mere miles away and are a constant force for good in our lives. We have extended family all over the country, who love and support us from afar.
2. My job. I was pretty down before I was offered the position. I would have taken many different jobs, but have gotten very lucky to have landed in a position I enjoy, at a facility I feel tries to do the right thing, with people I think are swell, on a shift that works for my family. Oh, and the second paycheck is nice too. We are making serious progress in paying back our debt.
3. Night shift. I was originally hired for evenings, and am so grateful to have been offered a night shift position. I am at work while my family is tucked safely away in their beds. While I do sleep during the day, I still get to see my boys in the mornings and pick them up right from school in the afternoons. Night shift does make me hyperaware of sleep in a way that I haven't been since the boys were infants, but so far, we all seem to be adjusting pretty well.
4. My (little) house. Sometimes I feel like my house is closing in on us. Still, it's ours. It's safe and warm and bursting at the seams with love. It's bursting at the seams with people and stuff too, but hey, it's ours!
5. My ukulele. Because it makes me happy.
6. Our town. It was a weird moment for me when I realized that here (and not Illinois) felt like home. I am grateful to have found a town that reminds me a little of my childhood home, that is safe and offers me the amenities that make life nice.
7. My friends. Who put up with my craziness and laugh and cry with me about my kids and generally make life better.

What are you thankful for this year?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A return to normalcy

I finally feel as though I'm starting to get a grip on my life again. The last month was mostly a blur and I am ever so grateful to have had my mother-in-law and her husband here to ease the transition on all of us. Here are some things I have learned from the past month:

1. I do not like working a traditional, 5-days-a-week, daytime job. At all. I feel like I never see my kids or husband and my house turns into stuff land. I can never figure out when to go grocery shopping, am too exhausted to cook, and really don't want to do anything but snuggle my boys when I get home.
2. Nights are better. I've only been on nights for a week, and already feel something like normal. I have had two days at home to run errands, spend time with the boys, get the house under control and generally feel like me again. Working nights also means that I can pick Gummy Bear up from school every day. You wouldn't think that 30 minutes makes that big a difference, but when it's the 30 minutes right after school, it does. Those 30 minutes are when I get the low down on how the day went, have face time with Bear's teacher, and chat with the other moms.
3. The paycheck is nice though.
4. The boys seem better with the new schedule too. Cheeky Monkey has finally forgiven me for going back to work and seems to really enjoy the alone time during the day. He is starting back at the preschool next week. We went to visit today, and he slipped back into the routine as though he had never left
5. Transitions are hard. The boys have definitely had a rough adjustment after their Mummu and Papa left. Bear especially has been out of sorts. Having Grandpa here is easing the transition.
6. I'm looking forward to some consistency. I think our biggest issue this past month is how crazy things have been. We have had family in town, new job with weird hours, hurricane, (extended) visits to the southwest, family health problems and other assorted strangeness. It'll be nice when my job settles into a normal rhythm and we figure out how things flow again.
7. I am rooting for our hospital to go to 12 hour shifts all the time. I thoroughly enjoy working 24 of my hours in two days. I would enjoy working all 36 in three even more. Still, 4 days a week is remarkably more manageable than 5.
8. I have chosen the right career. I am really enjoying my patients, my fellow staff members and getting to *be* a nurse. My orientation is over on Sunday. While I am nervous and certainly don't know everything, I am looking forward to being done with orientation. I know that our facility and administration will continue to support me through my first baby nurse steps.
9. Having more time during the week = more time for blogging. Aren't you excited? I know I am.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The promised cuteness

Halloween finally arrived in NJ Monday. The boys were devastated when it got canceled last week. We started off the evening with a bang when my mom came over in full witch. Make up = scary. The boys weren't too freaked out though.

Cheeky Monkey's robot costume was a huge hit. It was completely home made. The box on the front has battery-operated Christmas LEDs sticking through, and the light on his helmet is a designed as a light for pet collars. My mom made the shiny silver tunic and Ryan and I decorated the helmet and box. From now on, all Halloween costumes are going to have light elements. Everyone could see the Monkey coming and we could see where we were walking. Double bonus!

Gummy Bear's costume was equally well-received. The overalls were also made by my mom. The question mark box is from his Mario Birthday Party when he turned 4. I cut the top off and threaded a ribbon through. Mustaches are very in this year, so I found a whole slew of them at Target for a dollar. He had a mustache for trick or treating and his Halloween party at school.

Every year, one of our neighbors brings out a carriage at Halloween time. For Halloween, it has a coffin and zombie. At Christmas, it's being pulled by lighted reindeer. This house also gives out full-sized candy bars, so it's one of our stops every year. I always give out little canisters of playdough with our candy. This year I learned that kids specifically stop by our house for playdough. If you can't be the full-sized candy bar house, might as well be the playdough house, eh?

Because G-Pa wasn't able to join us this year, we took the kids trick or treating at his house. The kids scored big there.

Halloween was a big success in our little corner of the world. How was yours?

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Monkey turns 3 and wants some tail

Today my Cheeky Monkey turned 3. This is very hard for me to believe. I feel like I brought him home from the hospital, all fat and warm, yesterday.

Still, my calendar says it's true. Due to our extra stay in Tuscon, a hurricane and some unexpected time in the ER, my planning for his party was ... haphazard. I think we stuck the landing. We had a pretty quiet day, actually. The Monkey watched some TV, tormented his brother, played, and took a nap.

He requested a kitty cake. Of course I made him one.

And this afternoon we went to his favorite restaurant with some of our favorite people to celebrate his big day.

He was a bit concerned that it wasn't a party until I reassured him that we would have cake. Then, all was well. He only spit on the tummy bit. Thankfully we had laid back friends and plenty of ears and head to go around. Midway through the meal, Monkey turned to me and said, "Mommy, I want some tail!" Didn't expect that request so young.

And finally, there was present opening.

And a rousing game of Hungry, Hungry Hippo.

Happy Birthday Monkey. You charm the world around you with your quick smile, easy nature, and sneaky ways. You are still my cuddle bug. You are a joy to me and the world and I cannot wait to see what the year has in store for you. I love you, little Monkey. More than you'll ever know.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Well that was unexpected

For the first time, ever since starting this blog, I went a whole month without blogging. Um. Whoops. Our life has been so incredibly busy and full that I am exhausted at the end of the day. Thus, no blogging. There's too much to even sum up at this point, so I'll leave you with some highlights of the past month and a promise to get better.

The Job: Good. I have really been enjoying the staff, the facility and the patients at my new job. The pace is quick, and I am wiped at the end of the day, but I feel really good using my degree. I was originally hired to work Monday-Friday evenings. That was not ideal but I was willing to do it in order to get the job and experience. After a few weeks of orientation, my Assistant Director of Nursing approached me about  their weekend program. Essentially this program means that I work every weekend, 12 hour shifts, nights. Then I pick up two 8-hour shifts during the week. In return for working every weekend, they pay me a lot more for those shifts. I jumped at the chance. This schedule works much better for me. Not only do I get to see the Cheeky Monkey during the week, but I get to work my preferred shift (nights) and get paid more to do it.

Because I like pictures with my blogs, here I am in my scrubs. Very ... white.

The kids: Excellent. Cheeky Monkey loves Kindergarten. He is excelling academically. Unfortunately, he talks a lot. I know this probably shocks those of you who have met him. Without a doubt, it makes his teacher crazy. We're working on it.

Gummy Bear turns 3 tomorrow. I am not sure how this happened, but it is simply not possible that my baby is 3. He is still in permanent kitty mode. He was quite mad at me for going back to work there for a while. He seems to have gotten over it though. 

And here is an adorable picture of the boys from our recent professional photo shoot.
How. Cute. Are. My. Boys.
The Husband: Good. He's missed a lot of work lately, what with my staring a new job and his mom being in town and being in Tuscon and being stuck in Tuscon due to a hurricane and having  hurricane. Otherwise, he's good. He's adjusting to my having a full time job beautifully. He's also a beautiful human, inside and out.


The Visitors: So wonderful. I feel incredibly blessed to have Ry's mom and her husband here for a month. They are a joy to be around and were wonderfully comforting when we got stuck in Tuscon during the Frankenstorm. I know that my kids could not have been in better hands. We've had a lovely visit and I can hardly believe their visit will be over in a week. We have spent lots of time doing fall-like things, and playing with the kids, and generally enjoying each other's company.

And the bad news: We had a hurricane. It was worse than last year's. Luckily, our house had no damage and only lost power for about a day. Ry and I got stuck in Tuscon because of the storm, so the kiddos rode out the storm with Jo and Mike and my Mom and Greg. They thought it was a grand adventure. We have some friends who had some pretty serious flooding, including one who still hasn't been allowed back in his house. We were very lucky.

Also, my stepdad was inspecting a house early this week, when his ladder slipped out from under him and he fell. After a very scary couple of hours, we learned that it could been much, much worse. While he did fracture his L2 vertebrae, he had no neurological damage. He'll be in a brace for a couple months, but should recover fully. Thank God. 

Other stuff: Halloween was postponed by Governor Fiat, so I don't have adorable Halloween Costume pictures for you. Stay tuned, because they will be adorable. (Hint, there a mustache and twinkly lights.) Gummy Bear has been out of school for the past week. We're hopeful that he'll be back in school Monday. We took some professional pictures and attended the wedding of a very old friend. Those are on Facebook, so you don't really need to see them here. Maybe I'll post them anyway. Maybe not. We'll see how it goes.

So, yeah, that's about it. I'll try not to wait so long before posting again. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Lots of stuff has wrapped up here on the eastern edge of the country. Of course, the great majority of you who read this blog already know that. Still, here are the updates.

We are finally done with our mortgage refinance. It's not exactly what we were hoping for, but we are at least in a 15 year note that will allow us to move ahead with the "get out of this house in 5-years" plan. 

My transcripts were reviewed and as I expected, I now have 7 classes left to complete my BSN. I started those classes Monday. After two years of mostly exams, the next 18 months are going to be mostly papers.  Time to brush off the APA style guide. If all goes as I plan, I should have the BSN done in December of 2013.  

I got a job!

That deserves a line of its own. I'll be starting my very first job as an RN Monday. I will be working at a medical rehabilitation center. I'll be on a sub-acute floor, which means I'll mostly be working with folks who are recovering from strokes, heart attacks and joint replacements.  They are folks who are to well for the hospital (or were kicked out by their insurance), but not well enough to go home yet. I'm excited.

The first couple of weeks while I'm on orientation I'll be working days and then I'll move over to evenings. The position is part time, so I'll be working 3 or 4 shifts per week. Amazingly, I will have no weekends! It really seems to have worked out beautifully.

Childcare is going to be interesting for a while. Because Ry's mom is coming out for a month and has generously offered to watch the kids while she's here and I'm at work. So next week, we are begging, borrowing and stealing to find childcare. Between a nursing school friend, my mom and Ry taking a vacation day or two, we have the first 10 days covered. Then I don't have to think about it for a month. 

After that, a friend of mine is going to nanny for the kids in the afternoons until Ry gets home from work. It's a really wonderful arrangement that means that the Monkey gets lots of attention and we don't have to put the Bear in after school care. I feel like 8:30 to 6 pm would just be a really long day for a 5 year old.  The catch is, she's going to be out of the country for 2 weeks right after my MIL leaves. One of the weeks is Thanksgiving, so that should lessen the impact. I will deal with that in a few weeks when I know a little more about how I'll be scheduled at work. (At work! For the first time in 5.5 years!)

In other news, my Father-in-Law and Sister-in-Law were just out for a long weekend. We had a really lovely time.

It didn't take long for the boys to settle right in with their Grandpa and Tantie.

I got 30 pounds of tomatoes from our CSA this week, so it was all tomatoes, all the time. The salad you see in this picture was the first of our tomato-heavy meals. I have to say that there is nothing quite as good as an organic heirloom tomato straight from the farm. Proof that God loves us.

The boys were both thoroughly in love with their Tantie by the end of the first day.

And then life resumed as normal.

It also happened to be Bear's half birthday during their visit. The half birthday party is my favorite of the traditions that we picked up from Ry's side.

It comes with a half cake.
Bear specifically asked for the purple frosting.

And a single present. Bear has a friend who has the arrows and quiver from Brave. Whenever we go to her house, he is obsessed with it. I thought it would be a great half birthday present. The one she has has brown arrows and a brown, hard plastic quiver.  When I ordered this one, I assumed it was the same. I didn't expect it to be so .... purple.

Turns out, Bear loved the purple. It was a big hit.

We spent lots of time riding bikes.

Mauling Grandpa.

And spent an afternoon at a charming little river town near us. We always park on the NJ side and walk to the PA side because it's a neat walk over the river.

And Ry and Tantie found a microbrew, as you do.

There was salsa-making to help with the bounty of tomatoes. Canning is one of those dying arts that I'm tickled to participate in every year.

There was a head injury, because no party at my house is complete without one.

And this picture hearkens back to a picture from my babyhood and Gummy Bear's.

How much does the Monkey look like his dad? Everywhere I go, people talk about how much he looks like me. To them I say ... nu-uh. Look.

It's always hard to say goodbye to family. One of the only things I dislike about where we live is that most of our family is other places. Still, I'm grateful that we get to see each other pretty regularly.

So, that's what is new with me. I'll try to post a little more regularly. Fair warning that I'm starting a new job and taking 2 classes, so I'll do my best.

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