The world’s worst ninja

I wanted to be a ninja when I was growing up. My inspiration came from The power rangers, Mortal Combat and anything Jackie Chan related. For some reason I swore up and down I could kick Chuck Norris butt if we ever went to battle. It probably didn’t help that my dad was also a karate guru. He used to tell me that if I ever saw anything ordinary out of the ordinary that it was a bad sign. Like a perfect coke can sitting in the middle of the road or a match box sitting centered in a chair. If you’ve followed my blog post until now you know that I don’t carry a purse because it makes it harder to run if I have to, and I don’t wear jewelry in case I have to fight someone. Thanks dad. I’m a paranoid weirdo who is always prepared for a sneak attack.

This past week I went on a mini vacation. I stayed at an Airbnb and on our last night we returned late at night to find a package on the front porch of the cottage we were staying in. It looked perfect. Too perfect. We all sat in the mini van staring at it and discussing how this package looked suspicious. Against the protest from the other passengers I got out of the van to inspect the box… I had trained my entire life for this, if Chuck Norris was in that box, we were going to throw down and get this internal childhood fantasy over with. There were several steps up to the porch and while slowly making my ascend I noticed a hole in the side of the box. I thought to myself, this must be where they’ve put the laser. I needed to jump over it, trust me I’ve seen this in movies. I jumped as high as my chicken legs would take me and landed right where the laser hole was crafted. In my defense only people who do parkour daily could’ve made that jump successfully, it was an upward incline so there’s that. Luckily, no explosions set off. I took out my flashlight and peaked through the hole to find a box filled with q tips… that’s even more suspicious if you ask me.

Who orders a box of q tips this big? I nudged the package with my foot. Nothing. My kids were giggling from inside the van. They laugh now but I guarantee as they get older and discover the wicked ways of the world they too will be ready to fight an inanimate object. I wonder if the Lord was watching me the same way people watch cats play with boxes. I’m crossing my fingers hoping the Airbnb host didn’t have cameras set up. We had already discussed the conspiracy of the google home box hiding behind the couch and with this box interrogation, I couldn’t imagine what the host would think replaying the events that went on in that house. Just know Chuck wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Laughing through the Horror

I am no good at hiding how I feel, I wear it on my face in every situation. I haven’t even been successful at training my face to match a pleasant affect when I’m upset in a professional setting. I can’t seem to find the power cord that connects my brain and facial nerves to disconnect during times when I’d like to fake a smile. As a matter of fact, on my yearly review at work I was told the thing I needed to work on was smiling more… I could do that, if someone says something funny. I actually smile and laugh a lot but there is a stimulant behind that, someone has made me feel happy or I’m laughing at myself. I told my boss I could work on smiling more but that I felt she was robbing me of my feelings. Then this morning I was reading something one of my favorite women had said, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” -Marjorie Pay Hinckley

I seriously love this woman!

That is great advice! Finding the joy in every situation could be the key to a happy life. I want to share one of my most embarrassing moments in life where I was able to find humor in an incredibly uncomfortable situation. I was shopping with my best friend when I was a teenager. I was wearing underpants that were 2 sizes to big. Don’t ask questions… just follow along. I started trying on jeans and when I zipped the zipper up it embedded the oversized underpants into it. I tried everything to undo the tragic mistake but no amount of butter would’ve loosened the grip of the teeth on that zipper. I told my friend I’d just take the tag off and buy the jeans. So here I stand at the counter, with my new all in one jeans telling the clerk I want to buy these jeans I’m wearing. She giggles and says there’s an anti theft magnet on the pants that can only be removed on the cash counter. To my horror this magnet was not on the waist lining like they typically are now a days. It was up one of the pant legs. So I had to climb the counter and lay sideways as this clerk stuck her hand up my pants to remove the magnet. I don’t believe I have ever laughed so hard in my life. I could have chose to cry and be upset in that situation but Marjorie Hinckley was right, I prefer to laugh too.

It may be hard to find the joy in every situation but it is there. I don’t mean for you go to a funeral and laugh at your deceased loved ones, but in most situations when things seem to be going terribly wrong, look for something positive to cling to and smile about it. Don’t fake it, find the joy in it. Laugh through the horror.

This photo of my 7 year olds feet has nothing to do with this blog post at all. I just went to wake her for school and found her wearing my socks that I laid out for work and thought it was so cute. Apparently she got cold through the night hahaha!

What’s weird about it?

I’ve got a question for anyone who is divorced with children, does it feel weird to spend time with your ex for family functions such as birthday parties, holidays, cookouts, whatever the case where your children might be that the other parent may also be? If yes then why? I get asked this question a lot, “isn’t that awkward?”… well no, why would it be? You know what would make it awkward? If we were still married. I mean, how awkward would that be if I was still married to this guy that I only see once every other weekend, show up to a birthday party with another wife and kids, now THAT would be awkward… but I’m not. It’s not awkward because we aren’t married anymore, and haven’t been for 7 years. I’m trying to dip inside the mind of someone who would find the situation weird. Is it weird for you because you are not on good terms? Do you argue a lot? Do you harbor unresolved feelings? Bad blood between the new member to your co parenting team? Your problems are not my problems. I’ve known this fool for 15 years, he’s my kids dad, and yes I can call him a fool because it’s just a playful term of endearment. His wife is good to my kids. And here’s the thing, we live separate lives with the same children who we each love and they love us. So spending time all together is not “awkward” because I’m at the point in my life where they are just another part of my family. Sometimes it’s funny, like when we all went up the mountain to take the kids to see Anakeesta, they take a photo before you go up with your group. Imagine 3 adults and 5 kids, my kids dads laughed and said we looked like a bunch of Mormons… I laughed even harder because I am a Mormon, but not that kind 😂!

Can you see how happy these silly kids are?

Every situation is different. The kids are the most important aspect of our lives and as I see it they are not from a “broken home” they are from an expanded home, we’ve built on to what we already have. This is a very positive situation, my kids have more parents to love them, more siblings, more grandparents, more everything. We are not the stereotypical divorced parents. I despise the negative connotation that follows that term around. You are what you make it. We choose to make it right.

We did not start here. So yes I understand the scary looks on the faces of people when I mention I’m spending time with the kids and their dad/stepmom. We worked to get here. There used to be a lot of bad energy surrounding the situation. There typically is in the beginning. It takes a lot of growth, forgiveness, acceptance, and love to get here. We are not perfect but we are better than we were yesterday and that’s all that is important especially for our children. I can say that I know that in 10-20 years when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember feeling loved and being raised in homes by parents who get along, and that to me is NOT broken.

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s law is a cute nickname my kids have gifted to me, especially on vacations. I secretly love it. Kali, my 13 year old, says what’s weird is that when things go wrong like way wrong, I laugh about it. Yeah, I guess I do. Why not? I think it’s funny that crazy weird stuff happens… I’m the person who tries not to laugh when you trip in public but I am also the person that would help you up. Balance baby.

The girls have already started in on chanting “Murphy’s law” this fall break. Mind you, last fall break beat the books for all my cursed vacations. We were scheduled for a beach trip which at last minute we had to cancel and rebook for another beach because the red tide showed up, we arrived at the new beach and upon booking we were evacuated for a hurricane… decided to then drive to North Carolina to flee the hurricane where we were met with a tornado. It was like a sequel to final destination.

This time around we booked a tipee and vintage camper for our fall break just outside Gatlinburg. Little did I know my girls have never been camping in their lives. They were terrified. I had 3 kids stacked on top of me during the night, spooked about every little noise in the woods, and spiders… no ma’am. I made a fire around 4am to keep us warm and get some water boiling. A dog who lived on the camp site loved to run full speed at us anytime he heard us going to the outhouse. Full speed. Pitch black night, 7 year old walking in the woods, full speed running dog. She thought we were being attacked by a bear and clinged for dear life against my leg. There was also a kid on the site. He wore a black suit. In the woods. I didn’t have a good feeling about that… why was he wearing a suit?!

We left early morning and headed to their dad and stepmoms hotel to brush our teeth and get ready for the day. I decided that camping is clearly out of their comfort zone and since it’s vacation for these ladies it should be fun. So I cut my losses and rented a cottage instead. The kids have never been so grateful for running water and electricity in their lives!

We are settling into the new place. I even made breakfast this morning! And I only dropped the food ONCE. Tonia made it in late last night and after a night in the woods I barely had the strength to greet her while I was sunken into my memory foam mattress hahaha. I’m hoping the curse of Murphy’s law that follows me so closely will be lifted for the remainder of our vacation,and if not it will make for a great story 😉

NANNY MCPHEE WOULDN’T LIKE THIS

I love how my parents always made me feel free. I know right now if we were able to pick our own parents before this life that I would have picked mine over anyone else on this planet. They always made us kids feel like we could do anything we wanted as long as it was legal and not too dangerous and even then during the teenage years we walked on the edge of that line. I never realized how amazing the feeling of freedom was until I went through relationships and roommates and such that had rules and regulations… those are the worst. I don’t like rules. I don’t like waking up and feeling like ‘this is what you have to do today, and this is how you have to do it’. Have you ever heard that phrase, “choose your battles” when raising your children? My parents were experts at this. They didn’t focus on a military uniformed household, they instead chose to step in when it came to our safety. I could’ve woke up in the morning at 10 years old and decided, ‘I think I’ll give my wardrobe a make over’, start painting my shirts, cutting my sleeves, bedazzling my shoes… and my parents would’ve smiled and told me it was interesting. Mind you if I didn’t like my artistic work, I would’ve had to live with it because we only went shopping for clothes once a year haha. And that is something I have actually done.

When I would tell my friends at school some of my daily activities their mouths would drop open and they would say things like, “your parents let you do that?”. Well yeah… I mean I didn’t ask, but I didn’t get in trouble either. My 7 siblings and I used to do all sorts of things that you’d probably bust your kids hind end for. We used to make biscuit dough and throw it against the chimney to see who could get theirs to stick the highest, play volley ball inside, collect random animals, cut each other’s hair, paintball and firework wars, build forts and zip lines, make a slip and side in the kitchen floor with dish soap and water, carry our mattresses outside and jump through the windows onto them… you know things that would give your parents nightmares. Nanny McPhee would’ve needed some extra magic to subdue us. I didn’t feel like I ever had a bedtime. I didn’t feel like I needed permission to go out into the woods or walk to the neighbors. I didn’t ask if friends could come over or if I could have this dog I found. Sure we had chore lists and the consequences for our actions came from themselves and not my parents, like cutting our own hair was humiliating, no need for further punishment there, or having the chore of cleaning a room we just massacred. The freedom of choice did not come with the freedom of consequence but I’m glad my parents allowed us to learn from our own mistakes instead of forcing us to learn from theirs.

Perhaps it’s why I live the way I live now. Spontaneous trips and random projects. Creative and free. I planned to spend this week in Salem learning about the witch trials, only my flyer mile points don’t come in until the end of the week… meh. So instead we decided to visit with family and do a road trip, which at the last minute turned into a trip to the smokies. I don’t mind what we do, as long as my girls and I can spend time together, I’m sure we will make whatever we do interesting. I’ve been to the smokies countless times, that’s one of the reasons it wasn’t my first choice. I don’t want to relive the same vacation time and time again. I’m an adventurer. I need to explore and do new things. Then I started thinking, we don’t have to stay in the same cabin/hotel, eat the same breakfast and have the same vacation just because it’s the same place we’ve been before… we can do something different in this place. I’ve asked my sister in law who is meeting me there to brace herself for what we are about to do. It will push her comfort zone to the limits… it will test our survival skills… it will be glorious. It is camp grits. Our home away from home for the week.

Isn’t it lovely?

The girls and I will start our journey today and Tonia will join us tomorrow. Gives us an entire day to set up booby traps to keep things interesting for when the gang arrives. The facilities are probably my favorite part, you have to ask the host in advance to bath in this bath tub that’s out in the woods… that way they can light a fire to warm the bath water 😂. Stay tuned for an update on how to not only take a last minute trip with your family but how to do it on a budget! The total cost for this beauty is less than what the average nightly rate is in the Pigeon forge/Gatlinburg area. Even with the added cost of bug spray and fire wood! Let the adventure begin.

Manager of Time

I think if you got a bunch of nurses together we could all write a book on how to accomplish the impossible everyday. Each day when we come into work there seems to be an overwhelming list of task to accomplish. Any sane person would take a blink and say, “um no, can’t finish that all today you crazy”. And trust me, we say it too. Except we don’t walk away, it’s like our brains are wired to say these things and then rebound with internal reverse psychology and say okay watch me get it done!

Recently, I’ve had this calm feeling overtake my normal manic state of mind. My wound tech says she doesn’t like it hahaha. She says I’m too serious and it’s weird. I guess my serious face looks like a mad face. Probably. I took a short break from work to collect myself and it’s like this invisible blanket of patience has been wrapped around me. Perhaps I’ve brainwashed myself with all the meditation. I am one person. I can accomplish one thing at a time. I have one million things to do.

One thing I’ve noticed when tackling a long list of to dos is that when I take a step back and focus on one small task at a time, crossing it off, that the bigger things seem to check themselves off as I go. Completing a bunch of smalls will eliminate some of the bigs.

I guess it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you can’t make it to clock in before being stopped for another task. When you can’t make it to one patient without being stopped by another. Adding more to your case load before you’ve accomplished the heavy one you already have. I used to round with my mom at the hospital when she would visit her patients and thought how incredibly awesome it was that people would stop her in the hallway to tell her something else going on. It looked exciting, like this woman is important and people go to her with their problems. I find myself parking in the most reclusive entrance to work, slithering in a side door, holding my hand up saying, “whoa I’m not clocked in, give me a minute”. My moms a good woman. It only gets overwhelming if you continue to stare at the big picture. Focus on a small task and work from there. Everyday. Even when it’s not work related, like tidying up your house or going back to school. You are one person. Do one thing at a time, and go from there. Everything else will fall into place.

With love, from a seasoned overwhelmed manager of time.

P.s. For extra encouragement listen to One step at a time by Jordan Sparks… works every time.

“That perfect Broken part of me”

I’ve always been a lover of broken things. I could enter a store and see all of these perfect pieces and the one thing I’m drawn to is the only thing tarnished, broken, unique. Sometimes I try to fix it or keep it just the way it is admiring the beauty of the imperfections. I think we spend too much time looking for the perfect thing, place, person, life… when life is perfect imperfect. Maybe the obsession with that picture perfect life is an association with cleanliness. When I think perfect I think clean. Clean is peaceful. Broken things can be clean.

I haven’t posted in my blog for almost a week. My goal was to do daily updates, but this past week I have made a dozen drafts and withheld publishing any of them. I’m saving them for later. I think one of the most helpful things to do in times of trial is to write them down, get it out on paper or type it out, as long as it is out of you. Removing that energy you want to rid yourself of.

This past week I took some time to myself to try to alleviate a decision I’ve made. I know it’s the right decision but it doesn’t make it any easier. I took a spontaneous trip to the middle of no where to visit with nature, old cars, good people and creepy baby dolls. It’s called old car city in Georgia. When I saw pictures online I imagined this place being packed with people and hoped I’d make it early enough to have some space to myself. I stayed most of the day and to my surprise the place was desolate. Imagine taking a trip to an abandon amusement park and having the place to yourself, that’s what this paradise was like. I shared the wooded area with only the creatures within, saw squirrels and a deer between the haunted vehicles. The untouched cars had trees growing inside of them along with the debris of the forest. It was incredible!

My sister flew home over the weekend for a final visit before she deploys. She is soaking up every minute with my girls and spending the days with my mom, siblings, and friends while she is home. We went to the pumpkin patch on opening day and played on all the attractions like little kids, went on a hayride to retrieve our pumpkins, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over a bon fire before getting lost in a corn maze at night. I felt like I was on vacation as well. I’m working towards a schedule that will allow me to have more time home with my family. Time is important to me and spending it slaving the days away from my littles isn’t optimal. I miss this. Sometimes when I sit back and take a good long hard breath and look at the bigger picture I feel the best part of me is not being projected in the right places. I’m going to change that.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, he says, “We would do well to slow down a little focus on the significant & truly see the things that matter most”. I believe that. If we stay so busy that we miss those significant things in our lives then we are far busier than God intended us to be. I was able to accomplish several things I put off for months in one extended weekend I took off work. The dresser I rescued months ago has a new life now, my daughter has a new hair cut, my house is feeling more like home again and my time with my girls feels renewed.

I felt guilty for wanting time for myself this week. I spent the first few days worrying about all the people who would be upset of my absence. But the more time I had to reflect on things I realized I wasn’t just wanting time for myself but I needed it! There is nothing more important than self care, if you don’t take time to care for yourself you CANNOT care for others. I am blessed to have people in my life that respect that and allowed me this peaceful break! You all rock 😉

Motherhood Madness

Breakfast is free at my kids school. It. Is. Free. I don’t like to make myself something early in the morning when they haven’t gone to school yet. So I usually wait or pick something up on the way to work. However this morning I want to make it to work on time and I prefer not to be hungry so I pop some quick cinnamon rolls in the oven for the girls while starting some simple eggs and toast for myself. The girls venture into the kitchen like little birds, mouths wide open, stumbling around and touching EVERYTHING. Of course they want what I have instead. Of course. I make more eggs. My niece is dropped off as her dad heads to work. I make more eggs.

Toast? I’ve made 10 pieces of toast this morning. Where’s the butter? I just sat the butter on the table… *opens fridge, pulls butter back out for the 2nd time*. Maleah (age 9) is fast walking around the kitchen as if she has places to be, grabs the butter and yells, “WHO KEEPS LEAVING THE BUTTER OUT!” Me kid. It is I.. the butter bandit. I’ve pulled out all the bells and whistles for the perfect ‘mom makes breakfast before school picture’. You know, paper bowels and plastic utensils, perfect for clean up 😉. But do my kids use them? No ma’am. They are savages. Straight up savages.

That toast ain’t even got a plate man

Remember those cinnamon rolls I popped in the oven at the beginning. They’re done now but no one is touching them. I ask my teenage daughter if she’s going to have one? She says, “No I only like cinnamon rolls made from scratch, not a can”… so now I’m looking around trying to figure out where in the Betty Crocker hell this chick thinks she was raised! Whose mom has been making you cinnamon rolls from scratch? Huh? Tell her to pull up and we’ll have a pancake challenge! I have a big spatula and can flip 2 pancakes at a time ✌🏼.

Straight from the can

With all the little bellies full, I start in on the pre school interrogation. “Do you have your teeth brushed, where’s your shoes, hair… fix your hair, grab the back packs, has anyone fed the dog?”…. “Mom, the dog killed a possum!” Kali says all panicked. “Well don’t give him any wet food today, just the dry food since he is already getting his wet food elsewhere today”. Kali looks at me horrified. *blink, blink* where do you think that wet food comes from kid?

The madness of motherhood is doing the same things over and over, expecting a different result, only to find the butter has been placed back in the fridge for the 4th time in less than an hour. Over and out.

‘The living still need you’

If you’ve ever seen the vampire diaries you know these vampires have an extreme heighten sense of emotions, they feel everything on another spectrum. They also have the ability to shut that off. It’s like a switch they hit and it’s incredibly hard to turn that back on. People in the medical field do something similar. They call it compartmentalizing.

Have you ever witnessed something so traumatic that it breaks you? Maybe you’ve watched a loved one die, found yourself at the scene of a car crash, saw an accident happen before your very eyes… the emotional claim it has on you breaks your soul in two. Nurses experience these kind of things regularly. You don’t see it on their face at the time because we compartmentalize these things so that we can continue to care for those still living.

I was rude to someone this weekend after they had experienced an unexpected trauma. I wasn’t very empathetic because I have been doing this for so long and have forgotten what that fresh nursing experience is like. You know the old saying, ‘nurses eat their young’? I vowed when I became a nurse not to be like that. I wanted to be someone you could come to and learn from without the bite that comes with it. Whether you are new or old to the medical profession, you are going to experience shock, pain, and heartbreak. We become conditioned to these things and shut it off. We flip our switches and continue to care for the next one.

To the newbies we may seem heartless after a failed code. I know that look you just gave us as we continue to eat our lunch and check in meds… all while you sit in silence with your heated cheeks and flooded eyes. I know what you are thinking… that we are all stone faced with paralyzed hearts. I promise you we feel it. We feel it when we go to lay our heads on our pillows at night, replaying the entire code in slow motion, second guessing every move we made, retracing the steps back and wondering if there was anything different we could have done. We feel it in our dreams as the nightmares fill our minds with the last agonizing breath that was let out. We feel it as we shower in the morning, we feel it every time we hear the tone of the overhead page, every time someone says our name a certain way, every time we slip our scrubs on. We feel it. But right now, right this minute, as we work we cannot feel it. You HAVE to learn to shut that switch off. You cannot freeze up and cry in that room, they need you. Everything you have ever learned, this is it. Shut that switch off and act fast now, cry later. We cannot carry the weight around with us as we continue to work and care for the living. Right now we have to put on a smile and walk to the next room and continue on. They need us.

The dream team

You can always tell the old from the new in this way. You come to trust each other and have unspoken communication. The trauma is not held on their face but you can see it in their eyes. We almost become telepathic. We could be in the same room as another nurse and say something without saying it at all. It’s like a superpower.

Our CNAs are one of the most important parts of what we do. There is one in particular that I would trust with my own life. She works the night shift, her name is Haley. Now Haley is soft spoken, at least to me. I nominate her every year for CNA of the year (probably not supposed to say that aloud but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want). Haley has this gift I was just speaking about. She does her job without complaining, she shows up and works hard. I could tell her there’s a disaster in a room that needs attention and she doesn’t let out a groan, she just smiles and says, ‘I’ll take care of it’. Now I know I’m the wound care nurse but more often than I’d like I get put on a med cart. One morning I was coming in to start my shift and Haley comes out of a room with this face that we all recognize as the stone face (means she a veteran) and says the words no nurse wants to hear, ‘there’s something wrong with this patient but I can’t put my finger on it’. That one phrase can make any nurse cringe, it’s a enchantment for disaster… almost as if speaking the words “quiet” or “good day”. I may not speak to Haley on a regular basis or anything but I trust her, I have seen her work and she has earned that trust. Within 2 minutes we are calling a code blue for said patient, Haley saved this patients life. And afterwards, through the chaos and paperwork, I looked to check in on her and she was tending to the next patient. Continuing onward with a smile on her face. That is what these patients need. They need people who can continue to care for them even after the trauma next door.

So I know that I may seem like I wear the name badge ‘Tinman’, but I feel it too. And I’m sorry for not being more empathetic, I sometimes forget I was new once as well. I hope you continue on and create your own coping mechanisms so that you can continue to care for those that live on.

Let’s play a game

I was picking my girls up from school yesterday, asking them the usual how was school questions. My teenager for the first time mirrored that question back at me and said how was your day mom? Can you believe that?! What a dear. I choose to answer questions like this with the best parts of my day, or the worse parts. Who likes the same ole same “my day was good”… bleh. Those people are boring. What was good or bad about your day, I want details! I told her that I made a spirit stick out of highlighters and how I challenged my wound tech to a race, and how she tricked me saying she wasn’t going to race me but took off running towards the mirror ball on the ceiling… that sneaky girl… I love her. My daughter looked at me with a smirk and said, “that doesn’t sound like work, sounds like you played all day”… haha well yes, I worked but between patients I played a little. Why not? If you are having a boring or hard day at work, I guarantee if you sneak a game in there it will brighten your day up, make you laugh, and give you a fun time to look back on! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve pulled my flashlight out, turned it up on my face in a dark room, just to call the measurements of a wound out in a haunting way 😂. There is no age limit to stop playing games. Recently I was telling a friend about my day at work, he said ‘I want to work where you work’ haha well I’m sure you could make your own workplace a fun place to!

Actually photo of me at work

I just started watching that tv series ‘This is us’. How have I missed this show all these years?! I love it! Something I thought was the most incredible thing was when the family had an awful Thanksgiving. They were at a motel, gas station hotdogs, hot as hades and the kids were miserable. The dad turned the entire thing into a game! Reminded me so much of my parents! What could’ve been the worse Thanksgiving for them turned into a ritual because he made it fun! I’ve done that with my girls countless times. I even convinced them during a scary thunderstorm that I was in charge of the weather and would anticipate a clap of thunder, raising my hands as if they were magic wands and throwing them out into the world. Those fear stricken kids turned into laughing, cackling, amused little girls. I’m going to challenge anyone reading this to play a game today. You will thank me later 😉