Thursday, December 29, 2011

House husband

My husband, who let me sleep until 4 pm, took the kids to the playground and let me sleep for 7 straight hours, also made dinner. And this is why I need a house husband, because I've become accustomed to this life.

This is Texas chili from Epicurious. It's sort of like chili stew with a side of beans and rice. Fantastic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A new chance at failure

I shouldn't feel bad. Really I shouldn't. I had a solid run.

For about 3 years in a row, I was master of New Year's resolution list. I not only accomplished things on my list (rejoining the Catholic church, running a half marathon), I did things AHEAD of time (got into nursing school, beetchees). So, when I accomplished just one thing from the 2011 list, I shouldn't let that make me into a complete failure. Some people don't even have the energy to make a list, much less check things off that theoretical list. And passing the NCLEX, the one thing I actually did, was a biggie.

Still, I can't help but think 2012 will be better. Bigger and better, with less failure.

I have not yet completed the 2012 "Best List Ever" list, but I am definitely (almost definitely) doing one thing... I'm getting off the Facebook. That horse has been ridden to death and I think it's time. I'm not actually going to post this on Facebook, because it's one of those things people threaten to do, but then don't do after many FB friends, some I sure I've never actually met in person, state what a sad day it would be to never read about my adorable, relevant little updates.

A sad day indeed. And while I'm happy to be rid of this time-waster, I do feel like some people might take my departure as a personal affront to our deep and meaningful friendship. People I haven't see in more than a decade will feel let down by my sudden absence.

The truth is, I feel kind of bad about it. It's like a breakup, because, let's be honest here, I am sort of ditching the acquaintance friends of my life. High school chums. Old work buddies. College pals. Sorry. I do feel bad that I'll no longer be able to creep on your kids, or find out what you like to eat for breakfast, but we all knew this day was coming. And I'm pretty sure I won't be the only one heading for a FB-free life.

So here's to a 2012 free of failure. And if I do fail, at least I won't feel obligated to post it on Facebook.

Penny's 6

Well, she was 6, like, a month ago. But here's her birthday pictures now. Live with it.

Monday, October 31, 2011


The girls and I have been planning for this day for months. That's not a lie or an exaggeration, but it is sorta sad. We decided to go as The Powerpuff Girls, the girls' absolute favorite show of all time. And, truth be told, I love it too. Three cutie pie sisters who kick serious villain ass, all with the best theme song of all time.
Anyway, we've been planning our costumes since July. And even though there was much discussion, there were holes in our plan. For instance, the dark-haired child probably shouldn't have been the blonde Bubbles. And the light haired child shouldn't have been the black-haired Buttercup. And they don't make green dresses for little girls. And, honestly, I'm not sure why a 38-year-old woman thought she could pull off a kindergarten-aged character. I always get a little crazy at Halloween.

Well, it wasn't a hit. But it wasn't a bust either. The girls already decided they want to be scary things next year. And the year after that they'll probably want to be he same thing as their friends. And then, I'm sure I'll have years and years of slutty Halloween costumes to battle. So this year we were sisters. Triplets. And we were just in time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

P-T conferences

I experienced the full range of emotions for this year's parent teacher conferences. First off, the scheduling for these meetings was impossible for a mom who works the night shift and gets roughly 8 solid hours of sleep each week. I had to wake up early and the meetings went like a little something like this:
Roll out of bed. Forget to brush teeth. Try NOT to look like a drug addict while nodding in agreement to everything. Apologize because it's difficulty to remember what grade your child is in.

The first meeting was with Penny's teacher. It went a little something like this:
Penny is wonderful. She is top of her class. She has many friends and she's very nice. She dresses great. She is very enthusiastic. Have you seen this artwork? How about this story she wrote? Where does she get her hair done?

Oh please... I am so rolling my eyes. I thank her teacher and try not to breath in her direction.

The second meeting was with Carol's teacher. It began a little something like this:
Do you mind if the school psychologist sits in on this meeting?

I'll go ahead and end that story there.
My pediatrician once told me not to compare my children. This is an impossible task because it's difficult not to say, "Why can't you be more like your sister and NOT get the psychologist involved?" But children are different and they bring a wide range of traits to the tiny table where parents sit to meet with their child's teacher. I really am grateful that my children are receiving the help they need, or the praise they deserve, at this new, wonderful school.
And thank goodness that's over until next year!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rememberable mistakes

Remember that time, when you were a kid, when you're parents forgot to pick you up from practice. Or maybe, you had a class project they were supposed to help you with, but they forgot at the last minute and you ended up with some pasta glued to a poster board.

Steve remembers when his parents signed him up for soccer, only they didn't get him shin guards or cleats. He ended up shoving sticks in his socks.

Well, bad parenting moments have darkened our doorsteps this week. For sure.

While I forgot to give Penny her allergy medicine and forgotten to pack her snack, the worst lapse definitely was handed to Carol. We missed her soccer photos.

Yep. Sent Steve to the wrong field. By the time he got to the right field, you guessed it, pictures were over. So now, she'll have a bunch of solo soccer pictures, and a group picture without her. Awesome. Proof of our folly.

The week has pretty much gone like that. We decided to buy a white board so we can have a communal list of things that need to get accomplished. Hopefully this helps. Otherwise, we will continue to be the Keystone Cops of Metcalf families, tripping over our untied shoelaces while we race to whatever activity we happen to be late for.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The limit

I have been trying for years to extend myself beyond my capabilities and, I'm happy to report, I've succeeded at last.

Finally, I have come to the point where I can no longer add another activity to the roster. I can learn no new information. I cannot lose that last six pounds that keeps me overweight, BMI-inly speaking.

I am spent. Sure, the kids are out playing (aka, screaming) with the neighbors right now as I type away on this blog and they are in school for most of the day. Gone are the days of 15-minute stretches of toddler activity like block building and whatever other boring games parents play with their kids. But, for whatever reason, the working and running around required of school-aged children has presented a whole new set of challenges. And just when I had gotten the swing of things.

And here is why:
1) Night shift. I am always exhausted. Always. I don't remember the last time I felt great. I view Red Bull as a new food group. And I no longer sleep. I merely nap.
Today, I needed to pick Penny up from school at 1 p.m. I woke up at 1:00 p.m., on the nose. I was out the door and in line to get her at 1:05, and she didn't even know I was late. Or panicky. She did notice I still had a tag on my new shirt.

2) The minivan culture. I am constantly driving to pick somebody up or drop them off. I really am beginning to understand the sweatpants revolution. Why would you want to put on real pants when you never leave your car?

3) The scheduling. My calendar makes my head hurt. We have a color-coded, online calendar that send alerts about daily activities. And yet, I still was 10 minutes late from picking up Penny from her assessment this week. (What is it with forgetting Penny? Oh, and she's back to Penny, btw.)

4) Exhaustion. This deserves it's own category. Kids need to be out the door in the morning by 7:30. They have homework and activities and Barbie playtime, which means bedtime is rarely earlier than 8. I like to nap (see above) until 9. Then there are dishes to put away, lunches to pack, clothes to lay out, coffee to drink, schedules to check, etc., etc. Just so we can get up and start it all again tomorrow.

I'll end here, mostly because I'm too tired to go on. Today, as I was driving the girls home, Katy Perry's "Firework" came on the radio. It's the girls' favorite song, so sat in the driveway and sang it at the top of our lungs. Or, I tried to sing it. I was getting so weepy and emotional that my voices was cracking at the "Boom, Boom, Boom," part. That is what exhaustion does to a person. It makes Katy Perry deep.

This is my life. Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon. (sniff, sniff)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I have very little time to blog these days. Between work, meetings, soccer practice and carting the kids back and forth to school each day, it seems I barely have time for the really important things in life. Like drinking wine.

But here's a little sample of vacation. The beach was beautiful. The guest house was beautiful. The weather was beautiful. My father-in-law was... well... let's just say he was there.

But the pictures, as you can see, are beautiful!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Carol, normally a very brave and oblivious little girl, has recently become very sensitive to ouchies. Her elbow hurts. Her cries are out of proportion with her injury. She has vague aches and pains.

The other day she said her ear hurt. Well, I stuck my finger in it to see if it was really true, just like a good mom. The pain, thankfully, was not on the inside. It was the lobe.

I asked her what she thought it was.

"I don't know," she snapped. "You're the nurse."

Ahhhh. Attitude. I've been waiting for you to arrive.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

More than a month

Well, this has to be a new record. I blame the "Post it NOW!" culture of iPhones and Facebook on my neglect of this blog, but we all know whose lazy fault this is.

It's been a busy summer. The kids are getting so much older and work is ever present in our lives. We've spent a lot of time at the pool this summer, but we've also had a lot of guests who have been kind enough to visit this house of madness.

So, rather than go into very long, probably boring detail about the awesomeness of summer, here are some pictures. Because, really, I'm not so much great writer now. Use it or lose it. Well, consider me lost.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pictures of my kids

Because they are so frickin' cute.

Moving on

I'm once again forced to address the concept of this blog. First, I wrote about staying at home with my kids. Then about nursing school. I'm not sure what my Dirty Little Secret has become. Maybe that I work really hard and then come home and and work really hard and then I sleep for at least four hours. No. That's not a secret. I'm constantly reminding my family of this.

Anyway, while I try to come up with the next focus of my life, other than my life, I'll retire last year's secret.

My Dirty Little Secret
It's my family's clothes. I'm headed back to school for a nursing degree through an accelerated bachelor program at Illinois State University. I'm pretty sure taking 62 credit hours in a single year will result in my family wearing dirty clothes. In a dirty house. With dirty faces.

2011 Resolutions – fail

I was gently reminded yesterday (thanks Monica) that my New Year's resolution list is a complete failure. Oh, I passed NCLEX, but that's pretty much where it ended. In my defense, I've been sorta busy and ambitious the last few years. I think it's probably OK to slack off a bit. Well, at least that's what I tell myself.

But let's take a little look at the list and where things went wrong.

1. Pass NCLEX!!!! A must-do. Done and done. Lookin' good!

2. Join a gym and train for at least 1 half marathon. Maybe two. Yes, let's say two. Fail. There's a pretty good chance I couldn't run a 5K right now, much less a half marathon. Let's continue.

3. Lose at least 10 pounds. I need to lose 20, but I'll take 10. Also, drink one glass of milk every day.
Fail. I actually am losing a little bit of weight, due mostly to the fact that I stopped drinking during the week because it's frowned upon, and probably illegal, to go to work drunk. You'd think I could stick to the milk thing, but also fail.

4. Try to read the entire A section of the paper every day. Fail

5. Blog more, Facebook less. Double fail. Maybe triple fail. Facebook was once described to me like a soft addiction. Sort of like soft-core porn but less useful.

6. Be more patient with Carolyn. Fail.

7. Go to the dentist once this year and floss daily. Fail.

8. Get more involved in either church or the schools. Volunteer more. Fail.

9. Join a CSA this summer. Fail, but failed with effort. I tried to join one, but Lil' Brat, my in-law's dog, tried to attack the farm dogs at the CSA farm and instead of a CSA, I brought home $100 in paint damage to my in-law's car.

10. Try and be a more loving wife. After this last year, Lord knows, Steve deserves it. You'd need to get Steve's opinion on this, but I'd say fail. Turns out, changing core aspects of a personality is hard work. A bitch is a bitch, whether she's in a one-year accelerated nursing program or hanging out at home.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The better parent

I'm at the park right now. To my right, Penny practices t-ball. To my left, Carol (she's decided she's Carol now, not Carolyn) is at tennis.

Last week when steve brought them, and it was about 85 degrees at 9 a.m., he watched helplessly as all the other kids went for their water bottles and Penny stood there, parched and alone. This was not to be my fate, as I'm the better parent. You know, the one with the water bottles and the iPhone who occasionally lifts her head and gives a quick wave.

So summer is really here. It's only a shame j have this pesky job getting in the way of my life. Only, not today.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Penny decided she doesn't want to be Penny anymore. She wants to be Penelope.

She's worth more than a Penny, she says.


Carolyn and Penny had their class picnics at the same park this year. Penny's on Tuesday and Carolyn's on Thursday. Turns out, in true form to the bad luck surrounding Carolyn's first-grade experience, Thursday was the only day this week that was super crappy. Rain. In the 50s. Yuck.

And also an accurate portrayal of Penny's Pre-K experience, Tuesday was lovely. I **heart** every one of those tiny students. I haven't been around much this year, yet I know all of them by name and a little bit about their developing personalities. I know Penny's teachers love their jobs and they love our children.

I just wish I could say the same things about Carolyn's class. The difference makes me sort of sad, but this picture makes me happy.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I recently got an iPhone, so I'm pretty brain dead at the moment. I spend most of my time setting stuff up and checking stuff.

Occasionally, I do stuff.

Not real life stuff. iPhone stuff. Because no way did I shower today. But I have started taking a lot of pictures. Like the neighbor's Slip and Slide.

Or the girls at the Children's Museum.
Or the girls at the Coffeehouse.

And I even have a little story.

Steve has this really annoying joke. If I say I like a song, he says, "I wrote it." If I say I like a shirt, he says, "I made it." If I say I like asparagus, he says, "I invented asparagus."

So you get it, right. Annoying.

The other day, the Sting song "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" came on Pandora. Steve mentions that it's sort of our song, to which Penny perfectly states: "Good thing I wrote that."

Well played Penny. Well played.

And one more thing. High speed rail is being built in Normal. Yay...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fun at 5

Last night, after I called the girls in for dinner, Penny asked if she could go back out to play after she was done. I told her probably no. I thought it was going to storm.

"Oh yeah. I knew it was going to storm," she said.

Yeah? How's that?

"I read about it in the newspaper."

Penny and her buds at the park today.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's Day

For Mother's Day, the girls woke me up at 6 a.m. Carolyn made me a breakfast of Cheerio's, yogurt, milk and a cookie. She watched to make sure I ate every bite.

The cards were nice. The flowers were nice. Chocolates? Yes. Very nice. But my favorite part of Mother's Day was spending some time with the girls, doing what we love to do.

For Carolyn, this was a 3 mile bike ride while I ran behind her. It was a lovely day as we ran/biked along the trail. We ended up at the playground where Steve had packed a picnic lunch.

Later, Penny and I went shopping. We bought some gifts. I bought some shirts. She got a shirt. I took a picture with her and a mannequin she thought was especially beautiful.

The day was not all sunshine. Residual exhaustion, coupled with a few too-strong margaritas, left me feeling a bit defeated. But we are left with these images to remember this Mother's Day. And even a song from Penny's Sunday school class. See how cute...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ahhh... Metcalf

The Metcalf transition is one of the best things that's happened to our family in a while. And this is a family that has had a streak of good luck lasting well over two years. Here's why

Reason 1: Bullies. Carolyn has fallen victim to some very mean little girls. It's probably been going on most of the year, but Carolyn has hidden it from us. I happened to catch a piece of it the other day and was ready to call the superintendent from the complete lack of teacher supervision at that $^&*#$%% school. Apparently, the name Carolyn has become synonymous with cootie, and that is not acceptable.

After really talking about it this weekend, Carolyn convinced us that she will take care of it herself, because, in her words, "It's almost over and I'm going to Metcalf next year." Poor kid. And I think it's working. We worked on some anti-bully strategies and I think it might be helping.

I'm not so naive to think that bullies don't exist at fancy shmancy schools, I just hope the staff cares enough to try and stop it.

Reason 2: Pets in the classroom. Fairview does not allow such frivolous luxuries as hamsters, turtles or fish. Presumably, the administration is more concerned with ignoring bullies. Carolyn is pet crazy, so yeah for pets!

Reason 3: The playground. Fairview students are made to stand in straight lines while waiting for school to begin. For a first grader, 20 minutes standing in a straight line can be a long time. Do you know what they do to pass the time? You got it. They bully. Metcalf allows the students to play on the playground, or in the gym, until it's time to walk to class.

Reason 4: Drama. Carolyn will have drama class once a week.

Reason 5: Parents. The parents at Metcalf seem super friendly. I have been pretty absent this year because of school, the new job and working nights. But now that I'm getting more involved, and I'll have TWO kids at Metcalf, I feel like I'm being welcomed openly. The other day at Fairview (That's Fairview Elementary School in Normal IL), I tried to make small talk with this other mom who I know works at the same hospital I work. I say, "So, what department do you work in again?" She says, "OR," and walks away from me.

I'll stop writing now, as this is getting boring (They grow vegetables that they use in the school salad bar. The teachers blog weekly about what's happening in the classroom. They have a pool! OK, NOW I'll stop...) but I am so happy for this little life in Normal. Here's a picture of Penny with a classmate after their recent preschool performance. At Metcalf. Ahhhh.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quick news

This will be fast for several reason, which I will outline here in great detail. Ha! I kid. I kid. I am on my way to a 12-hour overnight work shift in about five minutes, so I'll just come out and say it.

Carolyn got into Metcalf, which is a public laboratory school run by Illinois State U. that is... the bomb! This means Carolyn and Penny will both be attending the SAME school next year. All day. I can't believe how big they've gotten. I can't believe how big we've all gotten, mostly figuratively and only a little bit literally.

We will tour next week, so I'll point out all the awesomeness of this event soon. Now, off to work where, hopefully, my sick patients will only march in the direction of wellness.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Otter and the Octopus

Let me just say, this has not been my finest week. I'm stressed out, pissed off and generally in a pretty foul mood. And Penny, a quite extraordinary child, sensed this about me and either a) discovered empathy or b) used this moment of weakness to her advantage.

At the library last week, she created the puppet show, "The Otter and the Octopus."

Turns out, Mrs. Octopus works nights. Poor Mrs. Octopus was sleepy and no fun during the day, and of course she was gone at night. Her three octopus babies were left to fend for themselves as their tired, neglectful mother ran off to earn a living in some frivolous night-shift type career such as, um... nursing? Or maybe prostitution?

So the tired mother runs off and leaves her babies alone. Later, the otter comes around and sees the babies. The otter decides it might be a good idea to take one. After all, they are motherless and alone.

Later, the tired Mrs. Octopus mom returns to find a baby missing. While this is very sad, the mother is tired and in need of some sleep. So she cuts her losses and drifts into an unsatisfactory morning nap.

I finally have to stop Penny after mom heads to work again and a bat is perched on the nursery door.

Penny, who will grow up to an actress, an artist, a doctor or a con artist, is so fun and interesting to be around, when she's not making me feel bad. Here's a fun Sunday picture. The girls LOVE Sunday mass, mostly because it affords them an opportunity to dress up. With accessories! Oh yeah, they love Jesus and all, but it's mostly about the clothes. And the shoes.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Math whiz

Please excuse this short, picture-free blog entry, but I needed to show a bit of Carolyn pride and the obvious outlet (the F-place) is off limits for Lent.

Carolyn just passed her first timed math test. What is so cool about it is there are two boys in the class that passed on the first or second try. Carolyn, who did not pass on the first of second try, spent all week working on her addition and doing practice drills until she was the next person to pass. I love that her trying hard paid off. I was way more proud than if she had just passed without thinking about it.

Also, just because I'm sleep deprived from a single night shift, I want to let everybody know that you shouldn't write checks at 2 a.m. that your ass can't cash. Sure, I e-mailed Steve, I'll be home in plenty of time to help you get the girls off to school. No problem. It's sort of funny the things you think you're capable of doing at 2 a.m. This night thing is sure going to be interesting.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

2:22 a.m.

I begin my new life as a night nurse tomorrow. In preparation, I got up at 1 a.m. so that I would be tired enough to sleep during the day. And, surprise, surprise, the middle of the night is super boring.

How about a blog update?

Carolyn. Well, she's learning all sorts of big kid stuff. Her and Steve spent the entire 30 miles to Peoria deciphering road signs and mile markers. She's working on timed math tests and doing book reports. She argues with everything I say without fail. For instance, tonight I told her she can stay up late reading because she has late start tomorrow at school so she can sleep in a bit. Her light was off almost instantly.

We ended up dropping out of girl scouts. It was a pretty sad decision. Carolyn loves it but the group was poorly organized and really hasn't done anything other than gather the girls to run around the gym in the last seven months. It probably wasn't the best decision to stop going, but I just couldn't waste our time with it anymore. I'm a worrier with Carolyn. I think every decision I make will impact the future course of her life. With Penny, I just sort of go with the flow. Oh, it's a real curse to be the first child.

Oh, and here's Carolyn with her new bike helmet. If only it would get warm enough to ride.

Penny, on the other hand, is having a lovely time being Penny. She likes coloring and drawing for hours. She's enjoys an active social life with her classmates and at the babysitters. And who the hell knows how she's doing in dance class. I'm too busy with Carolyn, practicing timed addition test drills. Oh, the tragedy of the poor, ignored second child.

Still, she's having fun doing all the things we like to do. Hanging out at the park, for instance.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A day away

Steve and I don't get out much. We haven't been away from the kids (together) in about six years. Well. I guess we did go away for my dad's memorial service a couple of years ago, but I don't like to count that.

We went to Chicago for the night and it was AWESOME! We ate great food, did lots of shopping and stayed in a super nice hotel. I rode in a BMW for the first time. We saw a play and ate at an empty Thai restaurant at 11 p.m. and saw about 30 minutes of the band Yes in concert. It's so nice that the kids are little older now, because I totally didn't worry about them like I would have a few years ago.

Steve was having an especially good weekend, what with all the gay men checking him out. Some dude at Banana Republic asked Steve, "So, you shop here often?" And this other guy at the Ralph Lauren bar, who was quite intoxicated, just couldn't keep his hands off Steve.

But he was nice enough to take the awesome picture of us and to buy me some Italian sparkling wine. See how happy sparkly stuff makes me! Oh, and Steve. Steve makes me happy too!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nurse Chris

I wish I had been posting more lately. It's just so darn busy all the time. I ran into a mom I knew and she was asking if it was becoming less overwhelming.

Overwhelming? Did I say that?

Absolutely I (probably) did. And it still is at times. There are days when I wonder how one person can humanly do the amount of work that is required. But as I progress forward, the days become easier. Some days are monsters. Some days are great.

But there is one thing for sure - I love my job. I absolutely love the patients, even the not-so-great ones. I love assessing and making sure everything is going as it should be. I love talking to them.

The doctors and the charting and the communication is still a challenge, but it's coming together.

So, I should try to blog more. Write more. Chart more. Because it's looking back on the record that helps me to remember how far I've come.

Oh... and the girls are great. Just in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Apparently, today kicks off tornado awareness week. Or month. Or season. Something like that. Steve told me about it and I was too lazy to look it up.

But today, our family had a "moment" without even realizing it.

It started when Penny told us she had a "grill," at school today. You know, a tornado grill...

Ah yes. Carolyn had one too. In her grill/drill, she had to sit silently in the hallway and put a book over her head. This clears up the statement she made earlier today about her head being the most important part of her body. Doctors can fix a broken leg, she said, but they have a really hard time fixing heads.

I agreed, that is difficult.

In Penny's grill/drill, she had to stand in the hallway facing her cubby. I guess they weren't as concerned with heads there.

I even had a drill at the hospital. A lady came over the loudspeaker and said, "This is a tornado watch drill. This is a tornado watch drill." And then everybody continued about their day.

Because today is the first Tuesday of the month, Steve heard the the monthly siren on his way to work and also heard a broadcast alert on the radio. This was not as organized as the rest of the family's grill/drill stories, but it was still nice he got to be included.

So, over dinner, we learned that we all sort of had a similar experience today. And after a long day away, it was nice to talk about what happened. Even if it was only a grill.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


It didn't start as an experiment. Honest to goodness, we just forgot to get Carolyn a flu shot. Well, maybe not so much "forgot," as "meant to get around to it but then put it off until flu season hit and then sorta figured it was too late."
So, Carolyn never got a flu shot. And then she went ahead and got the flu.
But, the other three people who live in this house did have a flu shot. So, deep down, we know it's kind of important. And yet....
Guess what...
Penny has the flu too.
They are so sick. Poor Carolyn has run a fever for five days. When the doctor came into the room, she was immediately concerned with Carolyn's appearance. Now we're getting worried about dehydration and pneumonia. And this is with our hardy child.
Penny is a few days behind her, sickness-wise. I'm not certain the flu shot will shorten the duration or potency of this bug, but I really, really, really hope so.
And the unintended medical experiment continues.
This has been coupled by a very tough week at a new job and money troubles at the paper (I HATE the word "furlough"). So I'm really glad I have the next three days to hydrate the children and try to get back into normal with kids who want to do something other than lay on the couch.
Who would have thought I'd have to threaten the girls to eat popsicles?!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Carolyn is 7!

I can't believe it. How did so much time go by so quickly. But here she is for her annual birthday pictures.

Poor girl is spending the first days as a 7-year-old at home sick. Again. Poor kid has been sick so much this winter. Actually, since January, post-Disney. I hope spring comes soon to take away this winter ickiness.

Now, to entertain two sick girls for the next four hours.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Christine Gardner, RN-BSN

When Penny turned 5, she kept saying, "I still feel 4." I love that. And now, I totally get it.

I finished nursing school. I passed boards. I got licensed and sat through a week of orientation and everybody keeps calling me an RN... only I still feel like a student. It's like,it just dawned on me that I'm starting a brand new career. At 37. How did that happen?

But the first week was sort of blah. I sat through hours and hours and hours of orientation about a lot of stuff I just spent a year learning. But this time, I like to remind myself, I was getting paid for staring blankly at the paper in front of me. That is so much better than paying. Also, they won't let us do our tests at home because we have to get paid to take them. How sweet is that?!?!

This week I actually get to spend some time on the floor. I'm pretty nervous, although Steve reminds me there is NO way their going to let me even touch a patient, much less be left on my own. Also this week, Carolyn turns 7. I can't believe that either. Because she might be turning 7, but she still feels like my baby girl to me.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hell yeah snow day

Here's the last of our three-day, snow-day adventures. It's truly how a snow day is meant to be to be spent.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


There is no denying it. Things have been going my way.

I have a laundry list of things that have gone well for me in the last few years. I sometimes like to analyze how my life made such a 360. I will say it made major strides after I married Steve, but the last three years have been especially lovely. I have all sorts of crazy theories why this is and I like to speculate after a glass or three of wine.

After about 5 minutes of such a conversation, Steve tells me to shut up and just take credit for it.

I'll admit, many of the awesome things in my life were my doing. I started running. I returned to the Catholic Church (Steve hates this theory in particular and asks that I don't give the Catholic church credit for my happiness). I set in motion a plan to return to nursing school and that worked out just fine.

I believe these things built upon the thing before it. But certain things, like Penny being accepted to the awesome ISU laboratory school based on the dumb luck enrollment system, are beyond the theory that I control the happiness in my life. So when I asked God or whoever would listen to grant me a snow day during my last week of freedom before I become gainfully employed, I was not expecting to be heard.

I certainly wasn't expecting this...

Crazy blizzard that has taken Carolyn and Penny out of school for three days. Totally snowed in, which is not easy to do in the Midwest. Some people say it's a "Be careful what you wish for" kind of situation, but I think the wish was very nicely granted.

For instance, it gave us an opportunity to build a bear den that doubles as a penguin pool.

Darnit if these penguins aren't a particularly cute variety.
Best snow day(s) ever! Thanks dumb luck.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Full circle

I feel like I've come a long way in the last couple of years. I started running and finished my first half marathon. I reconnected with the Catholic church and have made it a part of my family's life. I put in motion a plan to attend a one-year accelerated nursing program, completed said program and went ahead and got the job I wanted.

I even added five letters behind my name because Christine Gardner RN-BSN sounds so much better than plain-old Chris.

All these accomplishments have come with a certain level of self confidence, a trait I do not naturally possess. So I find it sort of funny that I continue to be a socially awkward, baffoonish-type mom with a stutter when I am surround by other moms. I think I'm a fairly adequate mother, just not a very good in the mom circles.

Take last week. I was having a particularly low moment of self confidence when I got an e-mail about an after-school playdate with Penny's classmates. These moms, in particular, are the sort of go-getter Stay At Home sorts that organize stuff. They organize lots and lots of stuff and they seem to all get along. I'm sort of on the outside, in large part, because I haven't been around a lot of the year. But also, I haven't made an effort because they frighten and intimidate me.

So on this particularly bad day, I decided to forward the message to Steve and ask him if I should go to this outing (even though I had other plans) because I'm a shitty mom and I need to try harder and blah, blah, blah.

Only I didn't forward. I replied.

That is a horrible feeling. Realizing a minute too late that you have sent an un-retrievable message. So I speedy quick send a very light apology.

But I never heard back, which made me feel extra bad.

So today, I tried to make amends. The woman I was certain had sent the e-mail said, No... It wasn't her. Maybe it was one of two other women. One of them said no. The other said no as I blabbered on and on about how it was a mistake and then said the word bitchy in front of like 10 children.

Then I slowly backed away and left. It probably didn't help that it's five months after the start of school I still don't know anybody's name.

I told Steve that maybe these people were just not meant to be my friends. Maybe fate was not allowing this to happen. Maybe I would try extra hard next year.

Then he reminded me that after my stellar performance in the last week, perhaps it wasn't my decision anymore.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Road to NCLEX

Jan. 2010: First week of nursing school. I can do this. I'm just as smart as these others students. I can do this! What??? Test??? What test???

March 2010, and again in June, August, September, etc.: Oh good. Practice tests. And you say I'm not being graded? And tests, and tests, and tests.

September 2010: Finally, the last session of school begins. This NCLEX guru teaches my critical care clinical. I spend lots of time learning the side effects of various antibiotics and contemplating the disease processes of the heart and kidneys. She is very smart but she scares the shit out of me. She lays in wait, pouncing on unsuspecting students, launching impossible questions she knows we can't answer. Also, she just starts singing randomly and I find this to be disconcerting.

November 2010: I decided at this point I will not take the NCLEX review class (aka... Kaplan) if I pass the pre-test (yes, another test) that determines if I will pass NCLEX with 97 percent certainty. Kaplan is $400 and begins the day after finals a week before Christmas. I feel guilty, but no thank you.
I am alone in this philosophy and the smartest kids in class sign up for Kaplan weeks ahead of the pre-test. I sometimes wonder what's wrong with me.

December 2010: I easily passed pre-test and was one of five students who decided not to take Kaplan. I bought a test bank of questions to practice and hoped I had not made a huge mistake. I hope this every day for the next month. I tell the NCLEX guru that I'm not taking Kaplan, which she teaches, and she sort of shrugs and implies, "Well. If you think you can pass on your own..." Then she starts to sing.

Dec. 17, 2010: Graduation. Many students remark that Kaplan is awesome and they are so glad they took it. That's fantastic, I tell them.

Late December: I bought a NCLEX app for the iPod. I borrowed a Kaplan book from the library. I painted my living room. My new boss calls and says, "What do you mean you didn't take Kaplan!!!!"

January 2011: I return from the best vacation of my life and start studying, for real this time, for NCLEX ... sorta. I was still waiting for "permission to test" letter. Then I received it and made my test date for one week later. One week and 250 miles later.
So the real studying had finally begun. I had a plan. I was focused and I was ready.

Monday: Carolyn was sick so she stayed home. My last minute plans of catching up on my weak spots fell apart and I even lost electricity and needed an electrician. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong.

And in my twisted, tired mind, I believed these were omens instructing me not to take the test. Failure was imminent.

Tuesday: After losing internet access, I told Steve to cancel my testing appointment. I regain computer access 10 minutes later and re-enrolled for the same test. I did this all without even the slightest break in sobbing. The girls were very unsure of how to deal with this turn of events and eventually became sick of it, asking ,"Why are you crying? Are you going to stop soon?"

Wednesday (testing day): My eyes were swollen for two days after my massive breakdown. Thankfully, I spent all day Wednesday either driving or testing, so I didn't really see many people. The nursing student working at Panera looked like she felt sorry for me, but I was too nervous for chit chat. I was so nervous that I was shocked when I started testing and actually knew some of the answers. Then...


I took the minimum number of questions (75) and finished in two hours. Easy like sleazy. So after all the uncertainty, all the doubts and all the tears, I completed the biggest test of my life with very few problems. Well, except for four weeks of paranoid terror. But other than that, it very uneventful.

Thursday: The day after the test, I came down with a horrible cold that seemed to burst out like it had been holding back for weeks. So I laid on the couch and watched old movies with abandon and then I took a 2 hour nap... because I could.
So now on to the next chapter. A chapter free of tests, but full of the possibility I could kill somebody. Ahhh... No more tests.....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Once a writer

I always had this crazy habit as a writer in that I like to write out loud. I like to talk my thoughts out as I write them down and it's always helped me in organizing sentences and creating tone.

The problem is, I've started doing this in test taking. In prepping for my NCLEX test, which is in the near future (although I'm superstitiously not revealing the exact day), I have started working through problems verbally. I'm fairly certain this will be frowned upon on testing day.

To correct it, I'm thinking about just mouthing my thoughts during my upcoming practice exam. Sure, I might look insane. But it won't be the first (or presumably the last) time.

On a completely different topic, I've decided to cure Carolyn of her forgetfulness. To this, Steve hung his head and said, "Oh no..." He believes this to be a fruitless endeavor, but I think I can do it. More on this failed endeavor in the future.