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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Do I like nursing?

As I near the 6 month milestone in my new nursing career, I've been asked a lot (and ask myself, too!)..."Do I like it?"  Do I like nursing as a career? Do I like my job specifically? Do I like working night shift.

To make a long story short: Yes.  Yes. Yes.

But I'm not really one to make a story short when I could go on and on, so if you're interested in The Long Story...read on.

3 months ago my answers would have been "Prooobably." "I'm not sure I'm lovin' it, but I'm interested in working in OB." and "Nights sure beat Days!"  Now I'm feeling much more settled, and a little bit more competent (just a little!), and I'm extremely grateful (most of the time) that God chose to make me a nurse .  Since nothing is ever 100% perfect, and there's always bad with the good (and good with the bad), let's break it down a little.  Here are 5 things I don't like, and 5 things I do like.

5 things I don't like:

  1. Working and having a job.  I know that these are both good things, but having that obligation really cramps my style, ya know?  Not to mention it takes a lot of time.  It would be so much nicer to have every day, evening, and weekend off!  But this is what God has called me to do, so here I am.
  2. The rest of the world does not operate on a night shift schedule.  Packages are delivered (causing the dogs to bark like crazy) about an hour after I get to sleep.  Important phone calls come in the middle of the day (middle of the night, for me), and I am sometimes forced to choose between sleeping and missing out, or showing up and being a zombie. If I worked days, these things would be a little more clean-cut: I can be there, or I can't be there. I'm working or its my day off.  The lines are a little fuzzier on nights. Also, trainings and meetings are never scheduled at convenient times for night people. But is there every really a convenient time?
  3. Dealing with anxious, confused, agitated, or otherwise very needy patients.  Like the ones that have a hefty dose of Lasix ordered for 2100 (why?!) and need assistance to transfer to the commode.  Every. 10. minutes.  I think I find this especially draining (no pun intended) because at home I have a very mommy-dependent toddler that wants to be with me all of the time, and even if she doesn't want to be with me, she requires CONSTANT VIGILANCE (in the words of Mad-Eye Moody).  Its just a lot of being needed, and not much of a break.
  4. Calling the doctor.  Because I hate calling people in general (does anybody actually like it?), and because I know I sound like I'm 12 when I'm on the phone (and probably in person, too), and because I'm always afraid they'll ask me something I don't know but I should, and because it usually means the doctor forgot something or I forgot something or the patient has had a change of status. Not good things.  Thankfully, we have some really great docs (especially on nights) and after working with them for awhile you can have an idea of what to expect from them, and what they expect from you.
  5. I don't like not being perfect. I hate it that I'm not super-nurse.  I can never get everything done, and if I can, it's not done on time.  I can never give my patients the level of care that I want to.  This is mostly due to the fact that I can only be in one place at one time, and I only have 2 hands and not 4.  And they forgot to give me my magic wand at our pinning ceremony (I really need to follow up on that).  I'm slowly learning to become more efficient and sort out what really does and doesn't matter.  And occasionally I have come home after a shift and thought "maybe I kind of did ok."

5 things I do like:

  1. Working and having a job. Yes, the "I want to stay home/I want to work" debate is never. ending. in my head (seriously, it never stops).  But I'm glad I have a reason to get out of the house.  I'm glad to have a break from The Peanut that I love so much, and I'm glad she gets time with her dad without me.  It really helps that the work I do is extremely meaningful and pretty fulfilling. And I'm not complaining about the money that gets deposited into our checking account due to the fact that I work.  The money that allows me to PAY SOMEONE TO CLEAN MY HOUSE.  Yes, you read that right.  I pay someone to clean my house, and it is WORTH IT!!
  2. What I love about nights is that there are way less people around.  On days you can walk into the nurses' station at any given moment and there could be 5-15 people in there.  On nights you walk in and chances are good there will be NO ONE in there.  We don't deal with physical therapy, or doctors rounding, there are a lot fewer visitors (don't get be wrong, they are still very much there), and there are no administrators- just a House Supervisor.  The vibe is much more chill on nights.  The lights are out.  Even when it gets busy (which it does!) it is a quiet busy.  I love the night-shift vibe.  And the people that work nights tend to be much more laid-back and easygoing as well.
  3. Being there for patients who are anxious, confused, agitated, very sick, or otherwise need a nurse.  I love bedside nursing! I love taking care of people.  I love explaining things to them as much as I am able.  I love helping them when they really need help.  I love talking to them and joking with them, and hearing their stories (they have some GREAT stories, guys), and making them comfortable and fluffing their pillows and getting them pain meds and fresh ice water. And I LOVE giving them warm blankets.  Nursing is the best, guys!  I LOVE it! What a relief...nursing school was quite a hell to go through, and how awful would it be if I didn't like nursing?
  4. The team of people that I work with is fantastic.  Since I clearly am not perfect, I rely on others so much.  First of all, the grace of my All-Powerful God has carried me (and my patients) through more that I will ever know.  Secondly, the aides, nurses, supervisors, monitor techs, lab techs, respiratory therapists (love them!) and yes...even the doctors that I work with are all in it together to do what's best for the patients we care for.  We help each other and we support each other.  And we have fun, too!
  5. I love that the work I do is meaningful and life-giving.  When the world around me seems to be filled with darkness and dismay, and there is so much that I feel helpless about, I feel like there are maybe some things I can help with.  I can't save the world (but God can!), I can't heal anybody (but God can!), but at least I now have more skills to use to serve the Lord and help hurting people.

So, yes, I like nursing.  Yes, I like my job (I think I'll hold off on moving to OB for now).  And night shift is definitely my jam.

As always, thanks for hanging in there with me.  I know my posting isn't very consistent, but you all read and support me anyway, and I am so thankful!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

So... it has come to this

Here we are again, my friends.  That part of the show where I am coming back from a long absence (I think this was a new record), thanking you for being here, for not giving up on me.

Clearly, I don't even know where to start.  I think we last left off with how to get through it... and we got through it!  At least my little family did.  Barely.  By God's grace alone.  To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Let's hit the highlights since my last post, and then we can just move forward:

Last December I was honored to be part of a wedding for some very special friends.  The bride was a 5th grader in the Sunday school class we started teaching the summer after we moved here.  In the last 9 years our relationship has changed from a frustrated student and teacher to a sweet friendship and I was so blessed to be a bridesmaid and stand with her and her husband (from Tim's Sunday school class!) as they exchanged vows before the Lord.  Two lessons from this:

1) When you first meet someone, you NEVER know where that relationship will go.
2) It is amazing how God grows and changes people!

That's me on the right...a lot of people didn't recognize me!



The Peanut turned 1 in January, and we had a little bit of a party.  Her Aunt Kelly and Uncle Justin came to visit and some of her friends came over for cupcakes and hot cocoa.  We tried not to go overboard... I think we succeed. We were lucky to accomplish a party at all!

She liked the cupcakes
In March I BECAME AN AUNT!!!!  Guys, being an aunt is SO GREAT.  Honestly, when I found out about my nephew's arrival, the feeling I had was what I had expected to feel when I became a mom.  To see them and be like "Awwww' and just instantly love them.  Becoming a mom was so different, though.  Of course I loved the Peanut right away, but it was a ferocious, terrifying love.  Like "If anything happens to this child I don't know how I could even keep on breathing."  Of course I would be devastated if anything happened to my nephew, but it's just a lot different.  Probably because I'm not the one responsible for keeping him alive.  I didn't get to meet him until I was done with school in May, so it was so much fun to love him to death and explain that I'm the silly aunt (just so he knows).  That kid is the highlight of my year.

HE'S SO HANDSOME I CAN'T EVEN STAND IT!!!


Cousins!


In May I finally graduated from nursing school with my Associate Degree in Nursing!  SUCH a good feeling.  School was killer.  It really, really tried to kill me.  I was so tired, I even drank flavored coffee.  Twice!  (It was all that was available...I take my coffee black- no flavor, no cream, no sugar).  I remember being with my family for a weekend to have a baby shower for my sister, and thinking to myself (as I was sitting in a room by myself, pumping and studying) "Everyone tells me what I'm doing is crazy and they don't know how I'm doing, but at least no one has said 'Steph, I'm worried about you.  Seriously, are you ok?' So it can't really be that bad..."  The next morning I was sitting at the table eating breakfast and working on a take-home test that was due Monday when I got back.  Dad-- (Dad!)-- came in and said "Steph...I'm worried about you."  Dad doesn't say things like that.  It was that bad. But the Lord carried me through, because this is what He has called me to.

These two made so many sacrifices to get me through school. I love them!

Sven surprised me and came for graduation!
In June we went on our long-awaited vacation to my FAVORITE vacation spot, my happy place...Hilton Head!  We went with Tim's extended family to celebrate his grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary.  The house we stayed at was AMAZING, and we had a great time, but let me tell you...Hilton Head is a very different experience with a toddler.  She had a great time and was such a trooper though. We are so thankful for the fun-loving, happy, laid-back kid we have.  And we're so thankful for Grandmom and PopPop and their generosity in taking us all to Hilton Head and their example of 60 years of love and commitment to each other and the Lord.




This summer I also starting working full-time nights as an RN at the hospital where I had been working as an aide.  It has been challenging, rewarding, exhausting and a HUGE adjustment for our family.  But that's pretty much a whole post in itself, so we'll talk about that later (probably).

As usual, we snuck away for a weekend at the lake with Sapphire and the Peanut did much better this year than she did last year.  It was a fun and relaxing weekend, but maybe next time we'll leave the toddler home with some friends to help with the laid-back lake weekend vibe.



Late July and August have been filled with travels, since my sister Kelly is getting married in September!  The Peanut and I flew back to Ohio for the bridal shower, then a few weeks later I left the Peanut here with her dad and flew to Albuquerque.  Both weekends were very full but a lot of fun.





The beautiful bride!


And that pretty much brings us up to the present.  While these were all big moments that were pretty exciting, this summer I've been remembering that it's really the little moments that make life so great.  Having a slow breakfast with the Peanut while we watch Instagram stories, spending time outside watering my plants in the evening, Skype calls with grandparents, and Bible study with friends.  I'm so glad to be free from school to enjoy these moments!! We continue to adjust to my new job and work schedule, but overall we're doing great.

Hopefully I will be checking in here more often now that I've cleared the hurdle of Breaking The Silence.  Blogging helps me get things out of my head, and helps me look back and remember where we've been and where we're going.  Maybe I'll do some kind of regular posting "Bake of the Week", more episodes of "Real Life with the Taylors" or I could even finish up my "London Travel Tips" series.  Or maybe I won't post again for another year :)  One never knows.

For an explanation of the title, check out (the always-informative) xkcd 1022.  If you didn't need an explanation, then I'm glad we're friends.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

5 Tips and Tricks for Getting Through It

Why hello there, Strangers!  It's been awhile.  I hope you're well.

Last week I finished up two classes, and I start a new one tomorrow, so this weekend has been light in the school department.  I also had the weekend of work, so... yeah.  It's been pretty great.  Last night I was doing stuff around the house and thinking "I feel different.  What is going on with me?  Oh wait... sleep.  I got sleep. This is what it feels like when you get sleep."  It was a good feeling.  I enjoyed it while it lasted.

As you probably know, life has been busy around here.  Nursing school + baby + working overnights = a whole lotta stress and tired.  Work has been crazy for Tim as well, and we've had some family stuff going on that called for a quick weekend trip to Florida on the tails of Hurricane Matthew.  The day after we got back from that trip, the Peanut had her 9 month check-up and I was filling out the post-partum screening. 

"Rate the level of stress in your family right now: 
__ None  
__ Mild 
__ Moderate 
__ Severe."  

Severe.  Yes, that is us.  But by God's grace we're getting through it, relying on His strength and the amazing friends and family He has blessed us with.

My cousin, Paige, is also in nursing school right now (at a very different school in a very different state), and I said to her on Facebook "I hope you're surviving all right!  It will all be worth it...probably."  I loved her response: 

"Well, right now surviving feels like a bit of an exaggeration, but it'll be worth it!"

Yes.  Surviving does feel like a bit of an exaggeration.

If this sound like you, if you're just trying to get through It (whatever It is), I'm here to offer some advice.  I (obviously) don't know it all, but I've learned a thing or two, and I would like to pass it along.  Whether you're home with littles and they're wearing you out, or you're in school and living from deadline to deadline, or if your family is in crisis and you spend so much time at the hospital that no one has clean underwear... this is for you.  And I am sorry for you.  I won't ask you if you're ok, because the answer is probably "no" and that's probably ok, because it's ok to not be ok, and it doesn't mean you will never be ok again.  Because you will.  Probably.

So here are 5 bits of advice/tips/permissions for you (photos of my house included so you can feel better about your house):




1)  The laundry doesn't need to be folded.  It can sit in that laundry basket, and you can rummage in that basket every morning for something to wear, and yes it will be wrinkly, but that's ok.  The stuff that's crusted on your stove top?  It can stay there.  The dust and dog hair in the corner?  Don't even worry about it.  We're in survival mode.



2)  It's ok to eat frozen convenience food.  No, it's not usually the healthiest option, but frozen food has come a long way in nutrition in the past several years, so throw that food in a skillet and don't even worry about it.  If you really are worried about it, eat and apple or a banana and take a mulitvitamin.  Life's not always going to be like this.  You just gotta do what you gotta do.

3)  Let people help you.  Did you catch that?  One more time for the kids in the back. LET.  PEOPLE. HELP. YOU.  If you're anything like me, this is a tough one.  Asking for help is so much harder than just doing it myself.  At least that's what I tell myself.  So I've settled on this goal for myself right now:  Say "YES!" when someone offers to help.  Whatever the offer, and whether I need help or not, I try to say yes, just so I can practice accepting help!  Even if it is just someone holding the door open for you, LET THEM DO IT.  Yes, I know you are a strong, capable, independent person.  That's not the point.  Don't you feel good when you can help someone else?  Then let someone else have that good feeling by helping you!



4)  When your baby falls asleep in your shoulder, and you really need to start studying, rock that baby for a few more minutes. Just soak it in.  If your husband wants to talk about cars or politics or work or anything, but you need to get something done, talk to your husband, and forget about what needs to be done.  Above all else, spend time quietly before the Lord everyday, telling Him your troubles and asking Him to help.  Because He loves you, a whole lot, and He wants to help.  And there's no way you can do it without Him.  What I'm getting at here is priorities.  Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.

5)  Work hard, do your best, and trust God to take care of everything else.  Because when we're being honest, "everything else" is really a lot of stuff because what we bring to the table is basically nothing.  But we should still offer our nothing.

Hang in there, my friend!  This too shall pass.  

Disclaimer: I want to mention if "this" is life, with no end in sight; if the "It" that you're getting through is day to day life, with no end to the season in the foreseeable future, you need to look long and hard at making some adjustments. I don't know what those adjustments are or what they may mean for you, but survival mode should be time-limited.

I love you guys!  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  Life is good, and I am enjoying it, because God is good, and He has blessed me through (and with!) these struggles.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer 2016

Hi Friends!  I'm here with a little update/ check-in while I have a bit of a breather from school.  Here's what's been going on around here.

May

The Peanut got to meet her Aunt Anna, and we all had a fantastic time.   When we picked Anna up at the airport, we decided to go out to breakfast at a French bakery I had been wanting to try.  For those of you who don't know, I always take my coffee black.  No cream, no sugar, no flavorings.  Anna is always posting pictures of her beautiful cappuccinos and lattes and I always look at them and think, "I wish I liked milk in my coffee, because I wish I could enjoy that."  It's one of those things, like chicken sandwiches, that I try occasionally and thing "maybe this will be the time that I like it."  And every time I'm like "Nope."  A friend of mine had recommended the cafe breve at this bakery, so I decided to go out on a limb and try it. You know what?  I LOVED it! With a pain au chocolat? Perfection.



Anna changed places with my parents who came Mother's Day weekend to see Peanut's dedication.We had a small crowd on the stage, but it was a blessing to stand up there with our long-time friends and newer friends, celebrating 4 births and 3 adoptions.  But it's pretty daunting to look ahead and think about the importance of raising our Peanut to know and love the Lord.  When we met with our pastor before hand, he said one of the most helpful things I've heard about parenting. "The Bible simply tells you to teach your children the Truth.  Teach them what the Bible says and Who God is.  God will do the rest. You are not responsible for their salvation, you are only responsible for teaching them."  It was a great perspective, and in a way, a weight off my shoulders.  But also, teaching her God's Truth is overwhelming.  So we will do it one day at a time.  And we have biological and church family that love that little girl like crazy and will pray for us and support us as we raise her up in the way she should go.





June

Sapphire, the Peanut, and I started June by taking a trip out to Colorado to visit Sapphire's new nephew (and her brother and sister-in-law) and also my sister Mandy, her husband Kevan, and their dog Lance.  The drive there and back was, shall we say... intense, with a 4 month old.  She didn't travel quite as well as she did on her Grand Tour.  And Nebraska is a big state.  (Seriously, does it ever end?) But we made it through, and our time in Denver was so relaxing and wonderful.  I was also able to sneak down to Colorado Springs for a day and visit my cousin, Rachel, who I hand't seen in awhile.  On the way back, we stopped for a much needed break to meet my cousin, Kim's, baby girl and see Kim and Chelsea.  Overall it was a good trip, but Sapphire and I agree that next time we should just fly.



I started my ADN program (Associate Degree in Nursing- an RN program) at the end of June.  I was excited to get back to school, ready to study, work hard, and learn stuff.  My first week we learned how to do IV's, and practiced on a fake arm.  It was awesome.




July

By the time we got to July, I was ready for school to be done.  Forever. School was INTENSE.  We called in The Grandmas for help with the Peanut the last two weeks of class, because I also had clinicals, and we were all in pretty bad shape.  I was stressed, Tim was stressed, and the Peanut was Over It.  Thank goodness they came, because I don't even know how we would have made it through.  




The Fourth of July weekend was especially terrible, because for the third year in a row, my job kept us from going to visit family or doing anything that was much fun.  Not that I could have spared a weekend from studying anyway.

After five weeks of class, I had passed, but I was exhausted and sick with a nasty cold.

August



I've been using my 5 week break to rest, relax, and regroup.  I've been trying to catch up with friends before the fall semester hits, yet trying to get as much sleep as my baby girl will allow, which is actually a lot.  We got away for a vacation with Tim's family to a cabin in the woods, which was exactly what I needed.  The Peanut finally got to meet her Aunt Emily as well, so now all aunts and uncles have met this crazy girls. Also, I may or may not have gained a couple of pounds, because we ate so much good food.  



Since we've been home, I've been trying to catch up on some things, and enjoy the Olympics as much as possible.  I actually find that my evenings are more productive when the Olympics are on, because I find all kinds of tasks that I can do while I watch, and there's always the list of "during commercial breaks."

Tim and I have tried to come up with a new game plan for fall semester, because we barely made it through the five weeks of summer class.  We're going to arrange for more childcare, and (thanks to my mom) we have the freezer stocked with food.  I need to start each day remembering that my Strength is in the Lord, not in myself, and that He will carry me through this, since this is what He has called me to do.

Also, for an update on the Peanut, she continues to be awesome.  She's not technically crawling, but she moves around on her tummy to get where she wants to go. She's doing well with solid foods, and continues to sleep 10-12 hours at night.  She could turn nap resistance into an Olympic sport, and when she is awake she is busy, busy, busy.  When she works out the mechanics of crawling, she's really going to keep us on our toes, since she'll be getting around (and into everything) so fast.  And she still loves her Tico.




That's it for now.  Christmas Spirit Days start next month, so get excited.  Has this been a summer of survival or a summer of fun for you?  Are you loving the Olympics as much as I am?

As always, thanks for hanging in there with me.  Maybe someday I will get on a regular posting schedule, but today is not that day.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

London Travel Tips: Eating Out

Some family friends are going to London soon, so I was going to send them a list of tips and ideas.  I figured it would make a good blog post, so here it is!  Disclaimer: I don't live in London, I only spent 3 months "living" in a hotel outside of London, then went back for another 2 weeks a year later.  There is so much I did not do/experience/learn, so I am by no means an authority.

Food


Obviously, there are TONS of places to eat in London, and things are ever changing.  What I found helpful was to figure out which chain restaurants are good, especially when you're out and about and starving and don't want to read 100 restaurant reviews, then arrive at a place and not be able to get in because you had no reservation.  When you're near attractions, you will probably see at least one of these chains, and I felt that they had good options.


Cafe Rouge- I ate here once, and I really, really liked it.  They have French food at a reasonable (for London) price.  I think I got the house salad (not pictured), and chicken (above).  Maybe it's because I was exhausted and starving, but it really hit the spot. When we went back to London the second time, I saw fewer of these around, so it might be a dying chain.  Bummer.



Pizza Express- If you're used to American portion sizes, the reasonable portions in London take some getting used to.  However, I found these brick-oven pizzas to be plenty to fill me up.


Zizzi was probably my favorite Italian chain that we tried.  They have a pizza (pictured above) that is "cool" (creamy sauce, potatoes, etc) on one side and "hot" (spicy sausage and peppers) on the other side.  The server (who was extremely helpful, and also one of the thinnest men I've ever seen) recommended eating from one side then the other to balance the flavors.  They also have a hanging kebab thing that I LOVED.



Strada was my favorite Italian place the first time we went, but they are always changing their menu, and I didn't like it as much when we went back a year later.  It was still very good, though!  Before I ate at Strada, I always thought pasta was just pasta. No.  This is not true. There is good pasta, and there is REALLY good pasta.  Strada has the REALLY variety.  They also have amazing tiramisu.



LEON is a healthy, fast-food place.  I really like their hummus and flatbread (above).  Tim likes their hot-boxes.  He does not recommend the dairy-free milkshake.  If you're a meat and potatoes kind of person, this place probably isn't for you...

Bacon roll on left, pasty on the right.


West Cornwall Pasty Co.  It took me WAY too long to discover this.  I mean, I knew it was there-- I walked past it multiple times daily in Richmond and Waterloo stations.  But I guess I thought that something that was so... right there couldn't really be good.  Then Sapphire and I tried it last summer.  Life.  Changing.  The pasties are FANTASTIC, and so is the bacon roll.  Pasties are quintessentially British, and West Cornwall pasties are so good! I cannot emphasize this enough!


Benugo is a chain of restaurants, but they also run the cafes in the museums and parks.  They have a wide variety of delicious options, but of utmost importance is the scones.  This is DEFINITELY the best place to get a scone (a fact that was confirmed for us by a local).  After walking around a park or museum all afternoon, it is so, so good to go to the cafe and order a cream tea (pictured above): tea, scone, clotted cream, and jam.  I recommend raspberry jam, and use ALL of the clotted cream and ALL of the jam.  Because you just did all that walking, didn't you?  You must keep your energy up!

JD Weatherspoons is a brand of pubs that you can find all over the place.  Some of the food is a little mediocre, but I love the broccoli soup!  It comes with warm bread and butter.  If you're really hungry, order two servings. Since we're talking about pubs, here is the seating arrangement for most of them.  

  • Walk in and find yourself a table.  There will be a number on the table.  Reserve the table in some way, probably by having a member of your party sit there.
  • Go up to the bar to place your order.  They will ask for your table number.When you pay, do not tip.
  • Your drink will be handed to you at the bar, and your food will be brought to your table.

If you're ever not really sure the system at a restaurant, start by looking for table numbers.  If they have numbers, you probably order at the bar.

In the world of non-chain restaurants, I have a few things to say as well.



Brasserie Zedel- This is located just off of Piccadilly Circus.  A reservation might make your life a little easier.  I don't think there's a dress code, but try to look nice.  The atmosphere is a little swanky, yet relaxing, and the food is good.  It's not cheap, but it's not as expensive as I thought it would be either.  We ate here a couple of times, and I don't know if anyone had anything they didn't like.




Tae Won Mein- This is a Chinese place on a corner in Greenwich.  When you go out to see the Prime Meridian and the Maritime Museum, plan on stopping here.  The food is amazing and the portions are generous.  You should probably get noodles (above) instead of rice.  

While we're here, let's talk about community seating you often find in the London area.  Tae Won Mein has very large tables that seat about 8-10 people.  You will be seated with your group, and another group, and maybe another to fill the table.  You're served and waited on as groups, not tables, so no worries.  Being a pretty reserved person, I was surprised at how much I like this arrangement.  You eat your meal shoulder-to-shoulder with a total stranger, and it's totally fine!



The Pig's Ear (Richmond)-  This pub can be a little hard to find, but if you think you're in the right place (it's right by Wagamama) look for stairs going down, and they will take you right to this magical gem.  The highlight (for me) is Tuesday night because that is the only night they have fish and chips- and they are the best fish and chips I've ever had!  Also delicious is the Triple Pig Burger, the sticky toffee pudding, and I've heard the mussels are really good as well.  The top level is just a pub for drinks, but if you go back to where the stairs are, you can ask for a seat for dinner.




The Slug and Lettuce (Richmond)- This is right on the river, with beautiful views and a nice atmosphere.  I'm pretty sure we went on a Monday, because food was half price!  I got the mac and cheese (above), and definitely won the prize for tastiest choice.  So good.

I had intended to write just one post with all of my London travel tips, but... I guess I got a little carried away.  I get kind of passionate when it comes to food.  We'll call it quits for now, and next time we'll talk about museums or something.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

31 Things I've Learned in 31 Years

Hey Kids!  First, of all, I finally got around to changing the blog title.  Since we're no longer DINKs (dual income, no kids), I had to come up with something else.  Real Life with the Taylors seemed like the obvious choice.

Secondly, I recently turned 31. (I'm cringing as I confess my age.)  I thought I would share with you 31 little tidbits I've picked up throughout my life.  In no particular order, here we go...
  1. God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.
  2. If you try to walk three dogs at one time by yourself, you're probably going to end up wearing poop.
  3. It's not for us to plan our families.  I've seen teenagers striving to be the best parents they can with what they've got.  I know single women who have been called to foster care and adoption.  I know couples that would be great parents that can't have kids.  I know couples that would be great parents that don't want kids.  And I think we all know some people that we don't think should have kids that do...If everything worked out the way it "should" life would be boring, and we wouldn't think we needed God.
  4. If someone's in respiratory distress the priority nursing intervention is to place them in High Fowler's position.  That's fancy medical speak for sit them up.
  5. You will be amazed at what you can do when you simply have to do it.  It's impressive what you can get through when the only way through is through.
  6. It's God who grows things.
  7. People who love drama say that they hate drama.  
  8. Dairy + grains = a complete protein.  Legumes + grains = a complete protein.
  9. You can't do it all.  And that's ok.
  10. Ravenclaw is my Hogwarts house.
  11. Vampires have a compulsion to count.  Related: sometimes Tim laughs like The Count after he counts.
  12. Onesies can be pulled down to be removed, they don't have to go back up over the head.  Life.  Changing.
  13. It is just as easy to put on a nice shirt and decent pants (or at least jeans) as it is to put on an old t-shirt and yoga pants.  Getting dressed in real clothes feels better and is more motivating that wearing pajamas/ "workout" clothes all day.  (Says the girl wearing yoga pants...)
  14. Dancing with the Stars is the best reality show on television!  Related: I love the Argentine tango.  Definitely my favorite dance.
  15. Life is short and there are no guarantees.  Treat people like they will die tomorrow.  Live like it's your last day.
  16. I am rich. Definitely by worldwide standards, and probably even by American standards.
  17. For some reason that I still don't understand, God has put all of the best people in MY life.  I don't understand why, and I don't deserve it, but that is God's grace-filled nature!
  18. Calcium constipates.  Magnesium is a laxative.  You're welcome.
  19. A lot of the things that drove you crazy about your mom when you were younger, you will thank her for when you are older, if you have the chance.  You might not have the chance, so thank her now and tell her you love her.
  20. If your deep freeze is making funny noises and you just bought a quarter of beef,check into that situation IMMEDIATELY.  Do NOT say to yourself, "Self, I have five tests in 3 days, I don't have time to worry about a freezer."  Because when you are done with all your tests and think you can relax, you find yourself with a bloody mess, crying as you throw your precious ribeyes into a crock pot.
  21. Don't gossip.  Just don't.  If you would be embarrassed for them to hear you say it, don't say it.  We all hate that awkward moment when we find out they were just coming down the hall and heard everything.
  22. Related: venting never works.  It doesn't make you feel better, it just makes you more frustrated as you focus on your anger and think up EVEN MORE reasons to be angry.  Try this instead: give them the benefit of a doubt.  Also, count your blessings!
  23. If you are feeling grumpy and/or angry, drink a big glass of water, eat a healthy snack, and take a nap.  If you're still angry when you wake up, take a walk.  If you're still angry, then maybe you're really angry.  But sometimes hormones can get confusing, so maybe wait 'til those die down, too.
  24. My dad knows a lot of stuff. A lot.  Of stuff.
  25. When we were babies dad would hold us all during dinner.  He would also talk in a Swedish Chef voice when he changed our diapers.  Which is funny because it's funny, but also because he is 100% Swedish and a really good cook.
  26. Sometimes the things you think you believe strongly in you change your mind about.  I used to think it was okay to heat water in the microwave to make a cup of tea.  Tim felt that water must be boiled in a kettle.  I now always use the kettle and he uses the microwave.  My, how people change...
  27. Generally speaking, when in London, if you are going one stop down on the Tube, it is faster just to walk.  
  28. Just when you think you've hit your maximum number of friendships you can maintain, God gives you more friends.  When you think you can't possibly love any more people, He expands your heart and gives you the love to love them.  It's really quite amazing, actually.
  29. You have to be doing what you're doing because it's what God has called you to do.  It can't be because of other people.  Your work besties will come and go.  Bosses change.  Your purpose has to be bigger than that.
  30. Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park are great places to finish off your list of license plates!
  31. Even though I'm a broken, screwed-up mess, God makes something beautiful out of my life.  Christ has saved me!  It doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Thoughts of a New Mom

Be warned: you're about to catch a glimpse of my mind, and it can be a very scary place.

Well, kids, I feel like I can breathe again. The first month or two of Peanut's life were kind of a whirlwind, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  But she's sleeping through the night now (yes, I know how lucky we are), and we've maybe kind of sort of found a rhythm with breastfeeding, and she's basically a dream child.  For now.  I don't know if we're through the woods, or if it's just the eye of the storm, but I am thankful for the rest, and the quiet, and the slow pace of life in which to soak up every minute of this baby girl.



A couple of months ago, this was not the case.  When we took her in for her two week check-up, what our pediatrician (and friend) seemed most concerned about was Tim and I and how little sleep we were getting. I guess we were looking a little rough.  But what concerned me was that she was concerned.  Aren't all parents of two-week old's exhausted?  Were we just whinier, or were we worse than normal?  I know it's an adjustment for everyone, but it felt really rough for us.  Were we having a harder time than other new parents?  If so, why?  Maybe it's because we had 8 years just the two of us.  Maybe it's because we still weren't sure we were ready to be parents.  I don't know.  But I kind of felt alone.  Like, "I know everyone else goes through this, but they don't do it quite like this."  And it's true.  My friend shared this fantastic article* with me, and the line that stuck out to me the most was.

"You've likely heard this so many times that you've stopped hearing it, but having a kid changes everything. That means different things for different couples, and different things for every individual, and it takes many months to begin to understand what it means for you..."

I can't even begin to explain how my life has been flip-turned upside down, because I'm still not even sure I understand.  It's a little unnerving, because sometimes I feel like I don't even know who I am anymore.  Speaking of feelings...motherhood has opened up ALL the feels I could feel.  I'm not really a feelings kind of person...I don't even know what to do with all of the feels.



*Sidenote: Tim never asks "What did you do all day?", at least not in that accusatory way.  He is so full of grace, and I am so thankful.

---

In early October, when I was about six months pregnant, a very dear, precious friend of mine lost her little boy.  He was 3 years old and was in a farm accident.  He died in her arms the next day.  I can't begin to tell you how much that broke my heart, and I can't begin to imagine how it broke hers.  Not surprisingly, this has impacted how I have parented my Peanut from day 1.  I want to soak up every moment, because I don't know how long I'll have her.  And for all I know, she could be my last child...there are not guarantees.

Another dear, precious friend recently sent me a book she read when she was a new mother.  I'm still working through it, and it has been so good in helping me work through my feels.  The author, Lisa-Jo, lost her mother when she was 18 years old. I'm reminded that I'm not guaranteed another day on this earth either, and I want to communicate to the Peanut how intensely I love her every day.  So we sit and we snuggle.  All day.  Every day.  She takes about 4-5 little naps per day, and I prefer that 1-4 or 5 of those naps are taken while I'm holding her.

My own mother lost her mom when they were both too young as well. My grandma never met any of us kids. My mom had to become a mom without her mom.  I honestly don't know how she did it, but I am blown away by how much courage that must have taken.  I'm so glad that I have my mom to help me be a mom.  To tell me I'm doing a good job.  To love my daughter like crazy.  To tell me that even though things aren't going like the books say they should, they're going fine, and I'm doing fine, and my girl is doing fine.  I'm glad she texts me and calls me to see how I'm doing.  It means so much to me.  Mom, I love you!



---



Sometimes I look at the little mittens the Peanut wears, and wonder what the child who made them in  a sweatshop thought as they sewed.  Did they laugh at us Americans, that we would need such a frivolous thing for our babies?  Did they resent that a baby would be so treasured and loved that someone would think to put mittens on it? Becoming a mom has placed a huge, heavy, sometimes oppressive burden on my heart for moms and children that do not have love and support.  Sometimes I feel for them so strongly that it is almost suffocating.  But I know that people are resilient.  And I know that God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. He makes beauty from ashes.  And he loves these people even more that I do.  He sees them.  He knows their names.  He knows their struggles.  He has a plan.  So I will rest in Him and His promises.  I will ask Him to carry that burden, because it is too heavy for me.  He is able.  I will make myself available.  And I will encourage anyone I can, whenever I can.  Praise God, from Whom all blessing flow!



---

When I was pregnant, I kind of wanted a boy because I thought I didn't know how to be a mom to a girl.  Now that I've met the Peanut, I'm so glad God gave me a girl!  Specifically, I'm glad He gave me this girl.  Because she's pretty awesome.  And I also realized that I have no idea how to be a mom to a boy, either!  The thing is, these little people teach you how to parent them.



---

I'm so glad that I started nursing school before I had a baby, because otherwise, I would truly have no idea how to take care of this little person. During my pregnancy and in the early weeks with the Peanut, I would reference my peds and OB textbook so many times the pages were curling.  And I would go over and over the information from childbirth classes and the hospital.  And the Peanut would not follow the book, especially in respect to eating.  Lots of people tend to have feedback and advice for new parents.  It can be a little confusing.  And let's not even talk about the information you can find when you google.  I've finally figured out that these are the people I should listen to in regards to how to care for my child:

1) My parents
2) Tim's parents
3) My pediatrician
4) Anyone who tells me that I'm doing fine, especially if their kid did the same thing and turned out fine.

That's all.  No one else.  Mostly, I just need to listen to the people that are telling me we're doing ok.  Because mostly, we're doing ok.  Probably.  Time will tell.



---

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a doctor.  Then I changed plans, and figured I would be a stay at home mom.  Then I wasn't sure I wanted to be a mom, but I wasn't sure I didn't either.  Then I decided to become a nurse.  Then I started nursing school.  Then I got pregnant.  God has carried me through nursing school and made it clear in so many ways that He has called me to be a nurse.  And He also obviously called me to be a mother.  As I already mentioned, nursing school has helped prepare me to be a mom.  Then I had a baby, via c-section, and the nurses that cared for me were phenomenal.  They knew what I needed before I did. They cared for me when I was so broken and vulnerable, and literally helped me get back on my feet again.  They watched us so closely in labor, and when things should have been scary for me, they weren't, because I knew those nurses were watching us like a hawk and were on top of it.  And one nurse in particular said just the right thing at just the right time, the morning after my c-section, when she got me out of bed and starting (oh so slowly) to feel like a person again.



In school, I worked so  hard to master the knowledge and skills necessary to care for people.  But I kept remembering what my experienced nurse friend told me when I first told her I was thinking of becoming a nurse.  She said "Nursing gives you a unique opportunity to minister to people when they are are their lowest."  Being the patient puts a whole new perspective on nursing.  The nurses in the OB department truly ministered to me in a time that was full of joy, yes, but also overwhelming fear and uncertainty.  My life and identity (not to mention my body) were changed when my daughter was born, and those nurses rolled up their sleeves and leaned right in to caring for me.  I miss them.  I want to move back in to the hospital...

All of that to say, this journey into motherhood has prepared me to be a better nurse.  So I'm not sure if God made me a nurse to help me be a mom, or made me a mom to help me be a nurse.  But the Glory of God is that it is both of those things, and probably so much more that I don't even know yet.



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Nursing school is a double-edged sword, though.  You learn about all kinds of things to worry about, that you didn't even know where a thing.  A few weeks ago, I was almost convinced the Peanut had intussusception and was going to take her to the ER.  Just because she was fussy and hadn't pooped according to her usual schedule.  Instead, I messaged my friend who is a mother and a pediatric nurse and ran it by her.  She talked some sense into me, and laughed with me, saying she goes through the same things.



Motherhood is not a solo gig.  It should not be done in isolation, or else you quickly (oh so quickly) spin off into crazy land!  I'm so thankful for Big Time Timmy Jim, and for my friends.  Other mom friends who struggled through breastfeeding, who aren't afraid to get personal.  I'm thankful for my many close friends who have also had c-sections, who tell me that, heck yes, it takes a full 6 weeks, if not longer, to recover.  Thankful for friends I can call to watch the Peanut for a minute, who are used to my messy house, and who don't bat an eye when I have a pile of kleenex because I wrote a pile of thank you notes that brought tears to my eyes.  I am thankful for so many people that love me for me, despite the fact that I'm a disaster, and love my daughter and tell me how great she is, and who are cheering for our little family.  And I'm thankful that from the very beginning, years before the Peanut was conceived, God whispered in my ear, "I am with you.  I am right here."