Santa stop here

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, 2010 is finally here! I'm trying to come up with an affirming mantra for the advent of this new decade: I'll be an RN in 2010 (no, that's just a statement of fact)...Life will begin in 2010 (what in the world is this crazy thing I've been living thus far)...I vow not to sin in 2010 (well, if that were possible I wouldn't need to be at confession every week & the world would be a better place)...this is kind of difficult. I really want something that's going to embody the concepts of optimum health, financial independence, organization of my home, a stronger relationship with God, and peace on earth. I'll keep thinking.
Meanwhile, let me just tell you about my day. It started with a few meager goals: a trip back to the library to "unlock" the DVDs I rented yesterday and forgot to "unlock" before leaving; a stop by Wal-Mart to get beef bouillon for a soup recipe I was planning to make, clearing the kitchen table, and a lot of cookie baking since I'm the designated dessert person for our annual New Year's Day dinner at our friends' home this year. In the back of my mind, I had all sorts of other "goals" as well: clean the kitchen and keep it clean throughout the cookie baking process, mop the floor and organize the "plasticware" cabinet, take a picture of the kids to include in the Happy New Year's cards (for those folks who didn't get in on the first "round" of Christmas greetings sent shortly after Thanksgiving) and of course, run to Costco to pick up the prints. Then, there was that vegetable-beef-barley soup recipe I wanted to throw together so we'd have something to warm our bones on the last day of 2009. There were also Aaron's homework assignment and Alisa's projects which had been put off the whole break until now, etc. Okay, so my brain is aware that there are only 24 hours in a day and only about 12 waking hours when you don't get up until 10 a.m., and that sounded like a lot even to an eager beaver. Here's how my day progressed...
I dragged myself out of bed just before 10 a.m. After a shower I headed to the kitchen to fix breakfast and call the library to see if I could visit a branch location to unlock the DVDs or not. Nope, I had to return to the main library--it seems they're the only ones who keep their DVDs under lock and key. I thought if I could snap a shot of the kids, upload it to Costco then head out, by the time I went to the library and cruised back across town to Costco, the photos would be ready. Then, I could swing by Wal-Mart and be back in for the remainder of the evening to clean and bake cookies, and maybe even get a nap. I quick whipped up a Happy New Year poster with runny Elmer's glue and glitter for the kids to hold in the photo (I didn't need 50 greeting cards which is the minimum order for Costco). Then, my cousin Barrett stopped by for a brief visit. The kids got dressed and I snapped their photo. It took me the better part of an hour to remember how to navigate's 1-hour photo center. Meanwhile, Aaron reminded me that I wouldn't have to go to Costco if I'd just hook up the new printer/scanner they bought me for Christmas. He was met with some very unkind words spoken from sheer frustration, mind you. The good news was that I found a coupon for 50 free prints from when the kids bought me my flash drive last Christmas, so I uploaded 50 prints of various Christmas photos. I fixed myself a sandwich and chips, and we headed out the door just as it was beginning to rain (yes, it was well past lunch time by now). My photos were to be ready at 2:56 p.m. The mission to the library was accomplished with relative ease--I even remembered to pay my fine so I could start the year off with a clean slate. My photos were just coming off of the printer when I walked up to the counter at Costco. The kids decided we should stop by home to get sheets of their graph paper for their assignments so we could make extra copies. I grabbed the pages and we were off once again. The copy shop we normally use was closed, so we continued on around the corner to Wal-Mart. What in the world were all of those people doing at my grocery store?! Alisa & I did a quick once over. She was determined that I was to only get the four items on my list, but I kept thinking of other things from the list in my head (like laundry soap...I noticed I was really low when I washed a load of towels earlier; chips...after all, I had remembered to bring my Fiesta ad for price matching, etc.). It didn't take that long. Then, my sister-in-law called and said they were back in town and en route to PaPa & Tia's house to retrieve their house key, so the kids & I ventured that way, too, to see her new wheels she'd just driven from Chicago. We stopped to drop off some recycling and mail a Happy Holiday card to my cousin on the way. Does anyone but me hear all of the "extras" that were not on my original list of "things to do today"--the load of towels, a stop by the copy shop/post office, recycling?
So, we made it back home at long last and unloaded the couple of bags of groceries. I immediately set out to put the soup together and get my cookie baking strategy in order. All of this is to say, I finally began baking cookies around 7 p.m. I even fired up both ovens (since I only have one rack in each) and it still took me until 10:30 to bake about 12 dozen cookies. I realize that sounds excessive, but I still owe some folks Christmas cookies I never got around to baking for Christmas in addition to the ones I need for, well, later today. I still have cookie dough in the fridge, but figured I'd start to get too tired and burn them up if I continued. I was busy trying to tidy up dishes (from the soup and the cookies) and thinking of clearing the kitchen table before the stroke of midnight. I did manage to point Aaron in the right direction with his math homework once I got a couple pans of cookies in the oven. Alisa was on my case about us doing our nails together with the new set she received from her T'Renee and family for Christmas. At some point I had the foresight to place a bottle of sparkling cider in the bottom of the fridge to chill.
At 11:35 I took a break from the kitchen to join Alisa in the bathroom to do nails. I didn't get very far before Aaron was exclaiming we only had 5 minutes left before the new year, so I headed back to the kitchen to ready our sparkling juice for the toast. My first hint that the sparkling cider was no good should've been when I couldn't remember just how long it had been in the pantry. My second indicator should've been that it didn't spew all over the place despite Aaron's shaking up the bottle before I eased the bottle cap off of it. The final clue should've been that it was dark amber and smelled more like prune juice than apple juice. Aaron & I missed the "final countdown" messing with that mess, and ended up toasting in the New Year with our snack size Baby Ruth & Twix candy bars (which Alisa had not objected to my picking up even though they were not one of the original four items on the grocery list) instead of a sweet and bubbly drink. C'est la vie, no?!
Anyhow, that's how my old year ended and my New Year began. How I hope it's not true that the first day of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year! I'm doomed if that's the case. I wish all of you reading this blog the best of everything in 2010. Until next time...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Gift

Merry Christmas, everyone! When I used to visit my grandparents on my dad's side of the family at Christmas time, my "Big Mama" would answer the phone "Christmas gift!" instead of hello on Christmas morning. I always thought that was special and have continued the tradition myself; hence the title. This entry will actually serve as my Christmas newsletter for this year. It's kind of scary not having any margins or specific letterhead to alert me that it's time to wrap it up, so I'll have to rely on my mashed potatoes warming in the oven to be my "timer" so I don't ramble on and on and bore you to tears.

Thank you to all who sent Christmas cards, photos and newsletters. I enjoy reading them, and they are on display in the living room. This has been a quiet year in the Wilborn-White household. I'll go down the list as quickly and painlessly as I possibly can...

Mike is still doing his thing at American Airlines. He celebrated his 23rd year of employment this month. I think he is secretly eagerly awaiting my graduation from nursing school and subsequent employment so that he can work only his regular shift and not doubles and overtime. Sometimes he's out at the airport from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m.--talk about long hours! We probably don't tell him enough how much we appreciate him for that.

Aaron is halfway through the 8th grade and loves reminding me that next year he will be in high school. He just doesn't get the whole "woo-hoo, boo-hoo" thing moms go through just yet. He thinks it makes me sad to know my baby is growing up, and, on the one hand, it does a little. Mostly, I'm glad he's growing into such an awesome young man. Erma Bombeck once said the two things we give our children are roots and wings. I guess their roots are well-established. Now for the "wings" part...Aaron continues to play trombone in the Symphonic Band. He played on the 8th grade Gunn Gator Football team (left offensive tackle and tackle on defense for those of you who know what's what where positions are concerned :-). Their year wasn't so great, but the basketball team is doing much better. Aaron plays small forward, and they've had a few wins so far. For the time being Aaron is interested in becoming a DJ to earn a little pocket change while in high school.

Alisa changed schools this year and is doing quite well in the more challenging environment of Arlington Classics Academy. She is coming out of her "shy shell" more and more each day, and everyone marvels that she actually smiles for pictures these days. We're still trying to find her "verb" and she will begin taking ballet and jazz next month on a trial basis to see if she likes it. She received a shiny new purple bike for Christmas, and we plan to ride together around the neighborhood for now and check out the bike trails at a couple of our parks when she's more comfortable with her new wheels. Alisa loves to read and is an excellent writer as well (I should turn this newsletter over to her). Her goal in life is still to someday find a cure to cancer.

As for me, life remains a crazy roller coaster ride with plenty of peaks and valleys. I have one semester left before graduation in May 2010, so I have to stay focused for just 5 more months (well, 6 if you throw in passing the NCLEX-RN licensing exam)! Either way, I'm almost there. I'll be looking into externships over what's left of the break. Hopefully, I can get on somewhere close to home, and then have a foot in the door for post-graduation plans. I'm still leaning toward working the night shift in labor & delivery. Pediatrics just about broke my heart, and I don't know if I have what it takes to work with sick and hurting children (and their families) on a daily basis. I thank God that I am blessed with supportive family and friends who have been an integral part of my journey. Keep those prayers a comin' folks! I'll do the same for you.

Wishing you joy, hope, peace of mind and prosperity in the New Year!
Love, Eastlyn & company

Thursday, December 17, 2009

leaves, glorious leaves

Hello, all--Christmas is quickly approaching, and I still must get my newsletter out. I started out so well, but seemed to get a little side-tracked. I thank God for angels amongst us who have all pitched in to make sure my kids have Merry Christmas. I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they open their gifts on Christmas morning! Mike's sister has invited us for brunch on Christmas day. I'm thinking I'll do my "overnight" coffee cake and Tony Cachere's Country Breakfast dish (dirty rice mix with eggs, mushrooms and breakfast sausage). It's what I would've fixed for the kids & me anyway. Mike will be back to work come Christmas morning, so we'll celebrate with him in the afternoon.
I thought I'd give credit where credit is due for today. Today is day 4 of Mike's vacation. I always complain that we don't optimize our time off together and get stuff done. Actually, I blame it all on Mike. Not only does he not get his stuff done, but he also keeps me from getting things done that I want to do. Today, for instance, my "plans" included cleaning my kitchen, making pralines for Alisa's teachers, picking up the living room, wrapping gifts (so much easier when the kids are still in school...tomorrow is early dismissal, so Lord knows I should've already knocked that out!) and putting up the Christmas tree, oh yeah, and paying my electric bill which was due today. What actually happened was: I took kids to school and ran by Walmart Superstore on I-30 and Eastchase parkway (they had something I couldn't find elsewhere). I came home to Mike seated at the table chowing down on a plate full of scrambled eggs, toast with apple jelly and little smokies. Would you believe he didn't fix me anything to eat? I informed him that God had granted him another wonderful day for yardwork and I offered my assistance to rake leaves or whatever. He said he could work on the yard by himself, and I could do whatever I needed to do. This was like 11 a.m. I thought I'd better reconcile the checkbook and get that Stream Energy bill in the mail. Mike needed trashbags for the leaves, so he decided we could go together to Target to get the bags and drop the bill in the mail. I called my sister to ask about a gift for my nephew and she said she had seen what he wanted at Target (sorry I'm being so vague...never know when the kids will decide to check out mom's boring old blog :-). So, I called around to compare prices, and it turns out Target was about as inexpensive as I was going to get. I ended up paying my bill on line and rolling to Target with Mike around 12:50 p.m. (Half of our last full day off together without kids had already's not even like we were having fun, so time shoudn't have been flying like that!) We fussed over which trash bags to get: I thought the 39-gallon lawn & leaf bags would be appropriate for, well, raking and bagging leaves. Mike insisted that he needed to the 42-gallon heavy duty contractor bags (22 bags for almost $8 compared to 40+ lawn & leaf bags for $5.00) I told him that's why he should run his own errands and leave me out of it. We picked up a couple of miscellaneous items as well as my nephew's gift and headed for home. It was almost 2 when we returned. I did what I could in the gift wrapping department then cleaned everything up and made myself a sandwich and chips and left to pick up kids from school. Around that same time Mike headed outside to begin his yardwork (I figured he had about 3 hours of daylight and decent weather left for the day). All of this is to say, Mike deserves a gold star for at least getting the leaves all raked up. He and Aaron didn't get around to mowing the grass, but there are numerous 42-gallon bags of leaves stacked on the curb. They didn't make it in until well after dark.
Meanwhile, I made Alisa's pralines (they didn't turn out quite like Tia's), and put chicken on to cook for gumbo, but I got way too late a start and so we had chili dogs for dinner. Alisa & I ran to Tia's house and she gave us more pralines that she had made: Alisa can mix & match for her teachers. On the way home we stopped at Kroger for hot dog buns (Mike called shortly after we had left to let me know that he and Aaron were putting a dent in what was left of the loaf of bread. Naturally, we grabbed a few more items (might as well as long as we were already in the store, right?). Tomorrow will be another day where that gumbo is concerned. For now, I've got to turn it in. Good night until next time...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Angels

Yesterday I received an email with a one hundred dollar bill waving on it like a flag in the wind. It was a "money angel" and I was encouraged to send it to 6 friends/family and get rich in 4 days or send it to 12 and be rich in 2 days. The punishment of deleting it was being left to beg (as if I haven't had to do my fair share of that since nursing school began *smile*). Anyway, I sent it on to 6 friends/family members and waited for my "unexpected windfall" but figured no matter what happened, at least I might not have to beg for a while. I replied to the sender to ask if she thought I could get rich in 20 minutes if I sent the money angel to 72 people, but I didn't hear back from her. I went on about my business the rest of the day. When I went to the mailbox that same afternoon I pulled out the usual junk mail and a few Christmas cards. I love the holidays because they're about the only time of year I get mail other than ads and bills. One envelope had my name on the front but no address or return address. Not recognizing the handwriting, I eagerly opened it to see who had hand-delivered something. It was a thank you note from the mother of one of my son's friends. I had given her son a ride home from school a few times these past couple of weeks when the weather was cold and wet. I figured it was the least I could do. The mom had thanked me further by enclosing a $20 bill in the card. I immediately thought of the money angel and thought about how God always makes a way. Here I'm wondering how I'm going to pay my mortgage and taxes and auto insurance and provide a little something for A & A for Christmas, too. $20 may not sound like a lot, but it doesn't have to be. It was $20 more than I had that morning and it came to me totally unexpected. On Sunday I had given a friend in dire straights $20 that I really didn't have to give to put gas in their car, and now I got it back. It truly is in giving that we receive.
This morning I received a phone call from another special person who said she wanted to help me get some things for the kids for Christmas. She explained that she and her friend usually choose angels from the tree in the mall, but they would rather do something for someone they know personally. So, my kids became their angels. I have to ask who are the real angels here? Now, my kiddoes will have something under their own tree to open on Christmas morning. I just thank God for my Christmas Angels as well...they are an answer to prayers. I hope that someone reading this will acknowledge the hand of God at work in all of this...the ultimate money angel amongst many other things. Good night. Until next time...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Almost there!

Okay, everybody, so I have seriously dropped the ball, but I'm trying to get back in the game. I have begun mailing my Christmas cards (I know, I know, I should've warned you all to take a seat before I let that loose--take a deep breath and put your head between your knees if you need to in order to keep from fainting), but I did not print out an annual newletter to go along with the family photo greeting. My printer is acting up. I plan to use my blogspot to update everyone on our past year's events in the Wilborn-White household. Who knew a plain old first class postage stamp was way up to $0.44? Anyway...

The semester is almost over!! I have my final exam on Monday 12/7/09 and my final evaluation on Tuesday. I was just beginning Nursing care of children and families (pediatrics) when I last blogged. I have pretty much made up my mind that little people aren't for me when it comes to nursing. What an emotional 8 weeks, I am here to tell you. My first patient was a 6-year old little boy with pneumonia. I got to follow him down to surgery to have a chest tube placed--YIKES! It was grueling, and I wasn't even the one being cut, punctured, suctioned, drained, etc. The following week my patient went home a couple of hours after I got onto the floor, so I took another patient: a six-month-old baby girl who had suffered irreparable brain damage at the hands of her mother's boyfriend--subdural hematomas, fractured skull, the works. There was so much activity around her room-speech therapists working with her to see if she would be able to eat by mouth; occupational and physical therapists (baby girl couldn't even hold up her head), respiratory therapist for the rattle in her chest. My heart just broke into pieces for her. The nurses predicted that she would be a "vegetable" (that is, continue growing physically but never develop to her potential, cognitively) and eventually become a ward of the state. A couple weeks later found me in the Transitional Care Unit (or TCU) where babies who have been hospitalized for some time are about to "transition" home with all of their tubes, wires, bags, bells & whistles. One patient was a 14-month-old girl who was born with some rare syndrome with all sorts of cognitive and physiological complications. Her mom had a sign posted on the hospital wall showing tally marks for where baby had lived since birth. All but 23 of the marks were at Cooks Children's Medical Center. Baby was on a respirator and received tube feedings, and Mom was with her most of the time. Another patient in the TCU had been a healthy preteen up until several months ago when her mothers (nontraditional family) noticed a decline in her grades at school as well as her physical and mental abilities. She would have been a perfect case for "mystery diagnosis" because no one could figure out what was going on with her. You can't really treat what you can't diagnose. Finally, the third of my patients on this floor was a 4-month old little boy who was born with some musculoskeltal deformities. His rib cage was misshapen, he had a club foot, his stomach was up higher than it should be. Talk about the cutest baby, though! He smiled and laughed at me but made no sound because he, too, had a tracheostomy and was on a ventilator. They were trying to wean him off of it by turning off the respirator for one hour at a time twice a day. His parents had not been to see him in several days. I, personally, cannot imagine going days without seeing my baby, but I certainly understand that the cost of getting around and having other children to tend to at home and having to work can be quite the burden. At the TCU an important aspect of the baby's care is teaching the parents to use all of the equipment that will be coming home with their special needs children. When my instructor visited the unit to see how my day was going, I felt that familiar sting around my eye lids and broke into tears when I was trying to tell her about my patients. I told her I didn't think Pedi was for me (talk about an understatement!). My eyes are welling up now just remembering that day. I'm thinking I'll stick with labor and delivery, thank you very much! Anyway...
Next semester's schedule is already posted. It looks like I will be with some of my original classmates from Foundations (first semester) once again. I will have lecture from 8 a.m. to noon on Mondays and clinicals from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Harris Methodist-Downtown. Mondays and Tuesdays will be tough because after lecture I'm guessing I'll have to swing by the hospital to choose my patient(s) and complete paperwork before Tuesday morning, but getting kiddoes to and from school on Wednesdays will no longer be an issue since I'll be available to do that. I'll still be able to do my lunch monitor thing at Alisa's school on Thursdays as well. My instructor for clnicals is one of the few male nursing instructors, Mr. McGraw. I had him for one of my skills check offs while I was in Foundations, and he seems pretty down to earth. I have heard positive reports about him thus far. I am looking forward to the home stretch!