Friday, March 28, 2014

My life in cardboard

Mmm. This morning is off to a lovely start. The rain is gusting down, hot chocolate and biscotti are within arm's reach on the coffee table, and I'm skipping a class at work that should have started at 8am. No guilt. I'm already familiar with using the arctic sun, and in between shifts I need every possible day off to get this move underway. Baby could potentially come out anytime, so I'm trying to stay semi-organized.

But my annual moving habits do seem to follow a particular pattern. I start off all organized, with every box labeled, wrapped, and packaged perfectly, and then things deteriorate as my junk becomes more random, harder to sort, and randomly thrown into cardboard.

I also cannot write "fragile" on any box without hearing Old Man Parker from A Christmas Story, "Aaah! 'Fra-GEE-leh!' It must be Italian! "

Our challenge this month is a two-part move. I really can't afford to be paying rent here and mortgage on the new house, but the new house is not yet ready for move in. So we're moving everything out of the rental into my in-laws' place down the street . . . and will later relocate it all again to the new house. Ryan and his dad have been busting butt getting the place rewired in copper, redoing the electrical fixtures, etc. But the new walls/sheetrock still needs to go up, and the carpet needs to be replaced. It would be counter-productive to fill the house with boxes and have no room to work.

Sooo, I'm preparing to live out of a duffle bag for a bit and crash at our parents'. I sorted out most all of the baby clothes by age range, washed all the newborn to 3 month stuff, and split up the baby supplies into a newborn-keep-handy box and a can-wait-for-later box. 

One of the surgeons I work with asked me the other morning, "So, how many more life-stressors do you want to throw in right now?" Oh boy. I'm not asking for anything more. Though honestly I do not feel stressed at all right now. Maybe I should. But I just don't. Our parents, families, and friends have been overwhelmingly generous and given us everything a kid could possibly ever need. And the more pregnancy stories I hear from other women make me appreciate that mine has been a cakewalk in comparison. 

But . . . back to packing.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

closing time

Guess what? We're homeowners! I mean, we're indentured servants of the mortgage company for the next 30 years. But nevermind that.

Work was not bad last week--the families I worked with were super nice--but it did keep me busy enough that I never left even close to on-time. One of my patients was on the vent, had multiple gtts and TPN running, continuous CRRT (i.e. dialysis), a central line that required at least 3 sterile dressing changes per shift, and was going in and out of Afib with RVR. All that was manageable, but it made for a ton of charting when everything has to be documented down the cc/ml. Ugh. And the bedside computer was running as slow as molasses.

So, on closing day I barely got a cat nap in before we went to some attorney's office--Denis So-and-So, Douchebag at Law--to sign away our fortunes. Okay, maybe I shouldn't say that. I don't know him well enough, and perhaps he is really a swell guy. 

But first impressions were:
1) Condescension 
2) Baritone voice with a polished Southern accent. Think of the judge from My Cousin Vinny.
3) Political naivety. "I don't care if the government reads every email of mine and hears every word on my cell phone if it helps catch even a single bad guy." 

You mean the same government that can't balance its own checkbook? You trust those guys? You know what they did to the Japanese Americans not so long ago? I hope you can keep your optimism when you're lucky enough to be sent to the next desert internment camp. 

And he had some problem with my signature and wanted me to sign it a very specific way (different from "my" signature signature) on every one of the hundred pieces of loan papers. Nevermind that his own signature as well as Ryan's were both illegible. Somehow mine was the problem. So I thought "two can play this game" and took my sweet time reading and signing every sheet as carefully as a third grader in penmanship class. Heck, our closing costs included a $500 fee for this guy's office services, so I figured I'd milk it for all it was worth.

Regardless, in the end the individual who profited the most was not Denis the Menace but the lady who sold us the house. She seemed like a really nice person, and we were glad to do business with her despite the disorganization of our loan broker or the scowls of the real estate lawyer.

And we drove away with the keys : )

Friday, February 14, 2014


Just an update on some exciting things coming down the pipeline . . .

Our offer for the house was accepted, and we expect to close by the end of the month : ) While we won't be able to move right away--there are some major upgrades which need to be addressed first--there's a chance we could vacate our current rental before the kid comes, which would be ideal. Otherwise, paying rent and mortgage simultaneously is going to hurt. Our neighborhood is in a pretty desirable area, so I'm hoping our landlady can easily find another tenant and let us off the hook a bit early. 

Meanwhile, the thought has started crossing my mind: what if I go into labor early? I always presumed I would run late. Everyone in my family seemingly does. But nothing is guaranteed. I just asked my supervisor to schedule me for work through the week following my due date. I really don't want to waste precious FMLA time before the birth (even though the time off would be super helpful in moving). Also, I need every possible paycheck between now and then, so here's hoping baby stays happy where he (or she) is.

And, speaking of work, have I mentioned I absolutely love my coworkers? Sometimes I hate my job. Wait, no--what I hate is not having time to complete my job--but the team on our unit is really the best. They've always been good to me, but their support over these last few weeks and months has been especially kind. The charge nurses assign me the least infected patients on the unit, and, if I want to move or lift anything, I literally have to pull the curtains closed so the other nurses won't see me! They help me out so much already; I don't want anyone feeling compelled to rush in the room and help me turn a small patient. I'm pregnant, not disabled ; ) but their thoughtfulness means a lot. OMG. And they're throwing us a baby shower--on top of everything else. 

My in-laws are planning showers too, and I'm starting to feel like I did when Ryan and I got married: simply overwhelmed (in a good way) by everyone's generosity. We have been blessed with such golden friends and family in our lives. I really don't know where to begin to reciprocate what we've been given.

Speaking of, while I was napping yesterday, Ryan cleaned the whole house. I thought I'd take some snapshots now to remember this place--before everything is disassembled and packed up.

Living Room

Ole' Bob watches the front door, and Old Hickory peers out from Ryan's room

Stonewall stands guard over the alcohol.
My grandfather built this bar out of a ship's hatch and split logs

Ryan's man-room . . .

Dining room

I think y'all have already seen the kitchen. 
And my messy bedroom is not being particularly photogenic right now.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A sad day in Texas

Lifesite News reprinted this tragic story on the Munoz family in Texas. It's a perfect example of the shoddy journalism that makes the pro-life cause look ridiculous and fanatic.

Baby Munoz: first forced abortion documented in Texas BY JENNIFER MASON

 . . . except that allowing natural death when there is no reasonable expectation of viability outside the womb is certainly not a "forced abortion." 

I couldn't resist jumping into the com-box mud fight. My response:

This article and its title are outrageous and misleading; I expected better journalism from LifeSite News. I am 100% pro-life. I am also a seasoned ICU nurse who knows that medical technology is notorious for giving false hope to those that do not understand it. If, for all we know, Mrs. Munoz was truly brain dead (which is a distinctly different situation from being in a permanent vegetative state), the state law regarding the continuation of life-support should not apply. The court order to discontinue mechanical ventilation was appropriate so long as it concurred with the decision of Mr. Munoz.
The Catholic Church's teaching is clear that extenuating, extraordinary treatment IS NOT mandatory when it constitutes a heavy or undue burden on the patient, and this decision must be made by the patient (or patient's representative). As guardian of the unborn Munoz baby, the father was not obliged to pursue such extraordinary means as artificial life support to the baby via a corpse.
Have babies survived outside the womb at 22 weeks? Rarely, and they have done so against all odds. No outcome is guaranteed. Mr. Munoz is not obligated to make a decision which goes against reasonable medical expectations. He did not intentionally end the baby's life; he simply chose to let nature take its course. That's acceptable.
We were not made for this world; death comes for us all. Faith belongs in Christ, not in the limited arts of medicine. Catholics should understand this the best, but apparently many do not.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A long weekend (and more cheesy bump shots)

Where I am in life right now:

30 full weeks as of today

And my ribs are on fire from this bout with bronchitis. I've been coughing so hard and sound like an 80 year old with emphysema. Earlier this week I called out sick for the second time in my entire nursing career. (Okay, okay. In seven years I've called out four times. But only twice for being sick ; )

And . . .

we're waiting on pins and needles as we wait to hear whether our offer on a first house will be taken.

We found a home in my in-laws' neighborhood that really captured our attention. It's in a great location, the yard is huge (by suburban standards), and its floor plan is exactly what we've been looking for. It also has a considerable amount of upgrading to be done--none of which will be cheap. Our plans for bargaining were sidelined by learning that another offer was being made the same day. The seller's realtor called out all cards and asked for everyone's highest and best offer. So much for negotiating. We're giving our top figure we think we can afford and crossing our fingers. 

I keep telling myself that if it's meant to be, it will work out. And if not, I hope I can maintain some kind of serenity as we go back to the hunt. But I can't lie; it will be very disappointing. This place is in my first-pick of neighborhoods, and the size of the yard is a rare find for that part of town. The next 48 hours will be very telling.

In the meantime, I should be studying or doing the dishes, but instead I'm playing with a faux-photoshop.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rethinking lucky

In a recent conversation I mentioned that a close friend of mine was a stay at home mom. "Hmm. She's lucky," was the response. The comment immediately irritated me, though perhaps I misinterpreted it. After all, I've worked with so many of those fascinating creatures called single-working moms, the women who personify the concept of hard work as they struggle to be both full time breadwinner and full time parent . . . with no sleep. So yes. The more time you can spend with your children, the luckier you really are. Lucky or blessed. Whatever way you slice your pie.

But there's another interpretation to that comment that is sadly quite applicable: the presumption that to stay with your kids full time you must be well off financially, or that to pull off that feat requires the same kind of luck as finding a good parking spot at Target on a Saturday in December. It's perceived as some kind of luxury good. And that is quite untrue.

A recent thread on a pregnancy web forum mourned the cost of daycare. Moms were quoting childcare costs that easily rivaled a rent or mortgage payment:

Tennessee mom: $600-$1000/month.

Mom in Houston suburb: $1200-1400/mo.

Moms in Washington, D.C. suburbs and Philadelphia: $375/week.

Pensacola, FL mom: $105/week for part time (< 4 hours/day) care.

Chicago mom: "the daycare I was looking at is $1300 a month for care 3 days a week. & $1800 a month for 5 days of care."

Mom from unspecified "rural area": $550/month.

Unsurprisingly, I read quite a few comments echoing these sentiments:

"It almost seems like it's discouraging women [from] work. I'm a licensed elementary teacher, although I'm not teaching in a traditional classroom this year, but having 2 kids under 5 in day care and my entire paycheck would go to day care!!! That seems absolutely crazy!"

Also: "And this is why I'll be staying home!! I have a min wage job, there's no way I could afford that. Nothing gives you more comfort then [sic] raising your own kids."

And: "Daycare costs is the primary reason I quit my job working in a special needs classroom last year. After daycare for 2 kids my take home pay was basically paying for my gas to and from work."

It also reminded me of my own coworker who's the breadwinner for her family. Her husband stays home to be full-time dad because their combined employments weren't enough to make hired child care worthwhile. Might as well one of them stay home instead of paying a stranger to raise the kids, they figured.

Anyway, so back to my friend. In a lot of ways she's not "lucky" to stay home. I guess in many respects she is lucky to have a loving husband and two beautiful babies, a roof over their head, and food in the pantry. But to pull it off, that family lives very frugally, budgets carefully, and she hasn't had herself a personal shopping trip since who-knows-when. I don't believe luck had as much to do with it as did their conscientious effort to strictly prioritize time and money.

If a woman is an au pair or nanny or full time tutor to just one or several kids, nobody says anything. But if a woman is full time mom to her own children, why does she get the raised eyebrow like it's some kind of entitlement?

Vent over. (Just FYI, this post isn't about me. Yes, I'll be working after the baby. I'm blessed with a career with pays well enough [considering it only requires a minimum of two years college education] that even part time shifts can pack a pretty paycheck. My skills do need to be kept up. And perhaps I've watched too many Jane Austen movies wherein well-to-do but skill-less women are turned out for paupers when their men die.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Work is never done

I woke up at 0330 this morning and I'm not sure why. I didn't even have to go to the bathroom. There's a front moving through and the wind has been very gusty. Maybe it was the wind chimes going bonkers.

But waking up gave me plenty of time to fret over what needs to be done. My ACLS certification expires soon, either in February or March. I need to check my card and get on board for a renewal class. Also, I think my CCRN certification expires really soon, which means I will probably need to cram in a ton of continuing education over the next month or so. And, most important to my boss, I need to finish (I mean start) the prep work for post-open heart training and get that underway soon

 . . . because we're due for a baby in three months. Yikes.

My other Christmas/bump shots got lost in cyberspace somehow when I tried transferring them from my phone. There must be an easier way to move iPhone pics onto a laptop than emailing them to yourself? Yes, I know I'm a dinosaur when it comes to technology.

Oh, and we need to find another place to move to when our lease ends--also in three months.