Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Nursing School Graduate!

I have been away for a long time. And there is a very reasonable explanation for that. Many, actually. But the biggest reason for my absence was nursing school. The past year has been a beast. And then with the whole Covid quarantine and school going online it got even worse. 
I'm done!!!! 
On Friday, May 11th, I took my final nursing school exam. All of my assignments had been submitted. I was DONE. It was a very surreal feeling. And there really was no closer. There was no final walk through the halls of school. No saying goodbye to the lovely ladies in the library, or testing center, or cafeteria that I had gotten to know and love. I was just done.
To help me celebrate my kids hauled all my books and binders out to the backyard for a little photo opp. Luckily, I only had about half of my books (I rented a bunch and sold a bunch back to the bookstore in the last 3 years) because the pile kept falling over. 
So, that is me on my very last day of nursing school. Very exciting and anticlimactic at the same time. It was a mix of emotions. It didn't feel real. And for the next week or so I kept having nightmares that I forgot to take a test or hand in an assignment. But it was a busy week with Mother's Day, my anniversary, and graduation so I had a bit to distract me. 

My friend and I went out to school to pick up our gowns and medals together. I hadn't been able to see her in a while, so it was so good to hang out with her again. We didn't get to do our typical lunch and drinks to celebrate the end of a semester (or the end of school, for that matter) but at least we got some time together. My other wonderful nursing friend took my cap and decorated it for me. I am so fortunate that I made such amazing friends to go through this with. We started out with 8 of us but only 3 of us made it all the way through (so far). 

I was able to stop at my mom's house and show her what I looked like in my cap and gown. 
My mom is currently in the hospital awaiting a valve replacement surgery (a story for another time), so any prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Since graduation would just be held virtually I told the boys they could all go up north for the weekend and get the work done that they needed to complete. When I woke up on Saturday morning I wasn't expecting much of the day. However, one of my nursing friends snuck onto my property and decorated my porch and yard with "Congratulations!" signs.
Not only did she decorate my yard, but she also left chocolate covered strawberries at my door that she had made herself. What a great way to start the day! And shortly after that I received a delivery of beautiful bouquet of flowers from my mom. 

PLUS, for any of you that have been reading this blog for a while, you know I love birds. All morning long in my backyard there were tons of birds. And birds that I don't normally see! Orioles, and blue jays, and indigo buntings, and cardinals, as well as sparrows and chickadees. They were everywhere! It felt like a sign. Maybe a message from my dad. All I can say is that it made the day that much more special.

Later on my bestest bud, Jen, came over to watch the virtual graduation with me. I have been with this woman since the first day of the Chemistry class I had to take before I could even begin my prerequisites. I can't tell you what it meant to have her by my side through all of this. I never expected to gain a best friend but that is exactly what happened. 
Jen brought her daughter over (who is Grace's same age) so our girls could play together while we watched graduation. It was actually a lot of fun to sit there with Jen and drink wine while watching. And Grace did a great job of getting some fun pics of us too.

After the ceremony was over Steph (the one who decorated my yard and decorated my graduation cap) came over to celebrate with us.
 Of course we had to get a bunch of pictures of the Three Muskateers who made it all the way through nursing school together. So grateful for these two.
Steph actually decorated all of our caps. She is so talented!
I really wasn't expecting much from the day but it actually turned out to be a wonderful graduation day. It felt really special.

When Todd and the boys came home on Sunday they came with flowers and balloons.
We celebrated with snacks and cake and watching a movie together. It was a fantastic weekend.
So, I am officially a nursing school graduate. Although, I still have to pass the NCLEX board exam. And that is a tough one. I have already started having nightmares about that test! And I start my new job in the Emergency Department at our local hospital on June 1st. Life is very full at the moment. But I am grateful.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

My Amazing Mum

Fourteen years ago my mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. She wasn't expected to make it more than a few months. I remember praying to God we'd have more time.
Today my mom is 80 years old. She has defied the odds multiple times over. She is meant to be here and I couldn't be more grateful. My mom is, and always has been, my inspiration.
Happy 80th birthday, mumma!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Time Waits For No One

I have sat down to write this post a million times and just became too overwhelmed. It has been almost a year since I last wrote. How on earth can I capture all that has happened in that time? I can't. And I feel incredibly guilty. I don't want those memories to be lost. It is getting harder and harder to know what I can write about as well. So many sweet, personal conversations my kids and I have that I would love to write down so that I can remember, but I also don't want to break their confidence in me. So many exciting and difficult things happening in their lives but some stories are not mine to tell.

I guess I'll start with my story.

I finished my first year in nursing school. I sat for my LPN board exams and passed. I am now back in school for my last year to get my RN associates degree. It is incredibly difficult, time consuming, and really, all consuming. Emotionally, mentally, physically. All of it. I question my decision to continue on this path almost daily. Having this past summer with my kids is really making me feel bitter about being back in school. I am going to have to dig really deep to finish this year.

In being in nursing school there are things that have just fallen to the wayside. A perfectly clean house is one of them. Taking care of myself is another. No more working out and running, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. I am trying to do better in that area but there is just such a shortage of time. Because of that shortage of time this blog has also been neglected. I have missed writing about milestones, and vacations, and sweet conversations, and momentous events, and trying times, and all the millions of hilarious things my kids have said or done. It makes me so very sad.

So here I sit, trying desperately to come up with a way to write about all the hundreds of moments I missed writing about in the last 10 months.

I can't do it. It's impossible. But I must start somewhere. And so for my heart, and my sanity, I'll try my best.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were both lovely. Filled with lots of food and family. After Christmas we went up north to the cabin for our typical week of skiing. Grace finally felt comfortable venturing around the hill and we were all skiing together as a family for the first time. It was a blast.
As a Christmas present we got the kids tickets to their first Bucks game. It was so much fun. The new arena was amazing and the game was fantastic. I love gifts that are more about experiences than stuff and this was a good one.
The winter months were long and cold and full of tons of snow. We had a lot of snow/cold days when school was cancelled. It was an icky winter and a blah spring. The boys all had their birthdays in February in March and turned 16, 14, and 12.  The kids' spring break and my spring break from school doesn't match up so once again we couldn't really do anything. The kids went up north to the cabin with Todd for their spring break and I stayed home and went to school. However, because of no spring vacations Todd and I were intent on planning a fabulous trip that we could take as a family in summer.

In May Tommy and his 8th grade class took their class trip to Washington D.C.  It was an amazing trip for him. Very memorable.

In June Tommy graduated from 8th grade after eleven years at the same school. At graduation he was awarded the Christian Leadership Award for demonstrating and living Christianity. Very proud mama.
About a week after the kids were out of school we took our much anticipated summer trip. Twenty years ago Todd and I took a friendly trip to London and Paris that changed our relationship and the course of our lives. We decided to go back to London and Paris and this time take our 4 children with us. It was amazing

It was fantastic to have the kids finally meet our wonderful friend, David, whom they had heard so much about.

It was a trip of a lifetime. I don't think any of us will ever forget it.

(Grace and I trying to figure out how to work this washing machine. It was making weird noises.)

It is incredibly difficult to find accommodations for a family of 6 but we managed to find a beautiful flat located right in Notting Hill. We loved it. It was really hard to leave.
When we got back home it was back to school (for me- I had an online class for summer to lighten my fall load) and back to work. Joe had just gotten his first job at Menards working on loading and unloading (heavy lifting). When we weren't working and studying we were swimming, going up north, and lazing around. It was a nice summer.
We also managed to make a trip to Madison. We just love that city and it was so fun walking around there for the day.

We even managed to go to the zoo. The last time we were at that zoo was over 10 years ago. My how time flies.
Joe also got his driver's license. Very exciting stuff. A job, a girlfriend, a license. The kids was having a great summer.

Right before her 10th birthday Grace got her braces on. Before she could get her braces she actually had to have 4 adult molars pulled because of her extremely tiny mouth. Poor kid. She handled it like a champ. She is a tough kid.
For her 10th birthday she was adamant that she did not want a big birthday party like her brothers had. Instead she wanted a day at the waterpark with her family. So that is what we did. The next day Grace and I had a little campout in a tent in our backyard. I think it was a pretty good birthday for her.
Before we knew it summer was coming to an end. It was back to school. Now I have two kids in high school and two kids still at the grade school. 11th, 9th, 7th, and 5th grades.
These two are so happy to be going to the same school again. Here they are on the first day of high school together and the first day of kindergarten and 3K.
These two are the only ones left at our beloved grade school. Aww.
Now we are back into the swing of things again. In the thick of it, I should say. Tommy and Ben are in football. Grace is in dance. Joe just made varsity for cross country.
Life just keeps flying by. I'm doing the best I can to try and keep up but I feel I just keep lagging behind. I'm hoping to do a much better job documenting my family's daily life so that when I am old and gray (alright, I'm already mostly there) I can come back and read how magical and lovely and hard and fabulous and trying and wonderful this life really was.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Picture Recap

Here I am! I'm still alive! I've been wanting to post for a while now but I just couldn't find the time. Now that I have an extra hour this morning I figured I'd better take the opportunity to post while I can.

We've had a busy few months. Of course the kids started back to school in September. They continue to grow and now two of my children are taller than me and the third is quickly gaining on me.

Molly and I often walk down to the end of the street to meet up with the kids getting off the bus when they come home from school. It's Molly's favorite part of the day.
I am back in school again as well. Although, I took a summer class so it wasn't like I was gone very long anyway. This semester's course load is pretty heavy. I guess they all will be for the next two years. It can be pretty overwhelming but I continue to do well. I don't know how. I feel like I can barely keep track of what is due when but I somehow get it done. My biggest struggle is to try and be the mom I want to be while being in school. It's tough. The kids were so used to their stay at home mom and I know I can't do everything the same way I used to. I don't like that. There is nothing more important to me than my family. I don't like how much time school sucks away from them. I'm still working on finding a good balance to make it all work.

The boys were in fall sports again. Tommy and Ben played football and Joe was in cross country.

Tommy's team was amazing and only lost one game all season. They even went to the playoffs. A great way to end their youth football "careers". Next time Tommy plays football it will be in high school. Oh my. Where does time go? Tommy is a defensive back but also played on special teams and a bit of wide receiver on offense.

Ben's team had a winning season as well. Ben was in for almost every single play of every game. He plays on offense (sometimes wide receiver, sometimes quarterback), defense, kick off, and special teams.

Joe had a tough cross country season. He really did a great job of working out year round and during summer his run times were amazing. Then, right before the first time trial he got a nasty cold. It hung on for weeks (we all got it and suffered through it for weeks as well). How he ran at all is a mystery to me, but his times definitely suffered. Finally he kicked the cold. His times started coming down. For four meets in a row he PR'd finally getting his time into the teens as he planned. Then he got another cold for the last meet. He ran anyway. Shortly after this pic was taken at the last meet he started shaking uncontrollably and was kind of breaking down. Really freaked out his coach and teammates. I came back and picked him up, gave him some food, and he was fine. But I guess he pushed himself a bit too much. All in all, I think it is a season he can be proud of.

Grace went to the Heritage School with her fourth grade class. It is something she has been looking forward to for a very long time. I ordered a "Laura Ingalls Wilder" outfit for her and it turned out pretty well. She definitely looked the part.

After waiting years to be an altar server Ben finally finished his training and was able to serve for the very first time. And, he was able to serve with his brothers! It was so wonderful sitting in the pew watching all three of my boys up at the altar together. It was a proud mama moment. 

Todd and I went to his best friend's wedding a few weeks back. It was the first time he and I have gotten away alone together for a long time. We missed the boys' last football games of the season (which was really difficult for us because Todd is the coach and it was against the cross-town rivals; but both of our boys' teams won). Luckily, Joe was texting me updates on the games. Todd's sister and mom drove the kids around all day but it was the first time the kids stayed alone overnight. They did great. And Todd and I had an amazing time.

The wedding was beautiful and it was a fabulous day. It was so much fun hanging out with the whole gang again. It had been too long.

I just recently started clinicals (on top of my regular classes as well) for nursing school. I now have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get out to the long term facility by 5:45. I am not a morning person. It's not easy getting up that early. And my nerves kind of kick my butt. Hopefully that will ease as I gain more confidence.

Luckily, I have two of my good school friends in my clinical group and we even carpool together in the morning. It is so good to have them there with me. 

Life sounds all rosy and lovely from the recap but there is sadness and stress as well. My mom has stopped her cancer meds. Last year the meds she was on (that worked for 13 years) stopped working. Her cancer cell counts had gone back up. The doctor tried a few other meds (there are not too many options) and this last one was making her completely miserable. She can barely walk a few steps without having to heave for breath. She feels like she can barely move. She can't sleep at night because she can't breath. Her immune system is way down so she can't leave the house. She has no energy to leave even if she wanted to. It is no way to live. She has had to quit choir, she can't even go to church, she can't take her dog for walks, she can barely get up to go to the bathroom. Last week she told the doctor that she was done with the meds. Now the doctor just wants to make her as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. I was hopeful that her quality of life would return when she went off the meds but so far she still feels awful.

Of course, if you've read my blog for any length of time you know how important my mom has always been to me. We are incredibly close. I've always considered her my best friend. This news has been tough on me, to say the least. But I respect her decision. I get it. She has been fighting this cancer for 13 years. And through it all she was always able to remain her. Five mile walks through the woods every day, always at church/choir, volunteering at the hospital, hanging out with her friends, doing yardwork, running errands, and being independent. It hasn't been like that for a long time. Even if the new meds would have work (which they weren't doing a great job anyway) this is no way for her to live. When she finally told her doctor that she was stopping treatment she was so relieved. She was so happy with the decision. Thirteen years ago when her diagnosis first came she was very ill in the hospital. We didn't think she would make it a few months. While she was unconscious she had an experience with Jesus. She talks about it often. She didn't want to stay on earth but Jesus wanted her to. She wasn't done here. So she agreed to come back. She took care of my dad through his Alzheimer's, saw the birth of two more of her grandbabies, witnessed First Communions, many holidays, birthdays, her son's wedding, and many celebrations. We are blessed and lucky that we received another 13 years with her. But she's had a good talk with God again and she feels this is the right thing to do. I hope we have her for a few more years (if her quality of life returns) but I doubt it. I have no idea how this is going to go. It could go quickly. I have no idea. Honestly, I try not to think about it too much.

So, this is heavy on my heart. I don't really know what to do with it all right now so I just put it to the side and carry on. Life happens as it should, I suppose. I just pray I can be there for my mom as she needs me to be. I pray I can be there for everyone I love. Life gets so crazy, and I have so much on my plate, but nothing is more important to me than loving my family. I just want to be there.

I hope all is well with you, my lovely friends. I hope life is treating you well and that health and happiness surround your lives and your families. Please keep my mom in your prayers (if you are the praying kind), and I will continue to pray for you all, my friends.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson