Friday, August 30, 2013

summer in pictures

This summer has been drastically different than last year. I had just resigned from my job and took the summer "off" before starting nursing school. I've always been a working mom and it was the first extended period of time I've had where being a mom was the only thing I had to do. (I am of the belief that ALL moms are full-time moms, whether you work or not).

I dubbed it the "summer of fun." I think we went to the beach or bay almost weekly. We went to the $1 kid movies, swam a lot and did as many fun things as we possibly could. And let's not forget spending two days at Disneyland. Which spoiled my children and they ask constantly when we can go again.

This summer though, was the most intense of my nursing school program. I was gone 40+ hrs a week and spend 2 nights a week away from home. We have an awesome babysitter/nanny and great family that took care of the kids. And I have an amazing husband who is an incredible father and did a lot of solo parenting this summer.

In spite of the difference between the summers, I think my kid still had a pretty good summer.

Don't you put your blow up pool in the front yard? 

6yr old cousins losing teeth! 

 And the slip 'n slide goes in the front too, right? (in our defense...our backyard is concrete only...our grass is only in the front!)

Kids bowl free!! 

 Sparklers make the 4th of July extra special 

 It is both a blessing and a curse that a delicious ice cream shop is a 5 minute walk from our house. The kids are great at talking grandparents and babysitters into taking them there!

 Miss Rose placed Rec Center basketball this summer and LOVED it.

Mama and Lily trip to Sea World while big sisters were at VBS

Fun with neighbors

We still found a few Mondays to make it to the sea.

 Grammy's pool is always a favorite.

For me, the highlight of the summer was Miss Rose getting baptized along with over 200 others from our church. (photo with our pastor)

I was so proud of her for making this decision. She really took it to heart and the smile on her face after she came up out of the water will be imprinted in my mind always.

The Lord provided and we finished off the summer (the day before my classes started) with a trip to the new Sea World water park in town. We got there just after it opened and stayed until closing. The kids were the perfect age for it and I'm hoping we can save up and buy passes for next summer.

School starts on Tuesday for the kids. Another summer in the books. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

12 things I learned from my first year of nursing school

She lives!

My last post was at the end of May, during my short break before the summer semester. I have only blogged 12 times so far in 2013.

Perhaps that tells you a little about what life is like as a mom of 3 in nursing school.

I have no real complaints though. There are different seasons of life and it's important to know what your priorities are and focus on those, not worrying about those things you've had to put aside. As much as I love this little space, writing and sharing my life and thoughts--it has been on the back burner.

I have another two weeks off before the start of the Fall semester, so I thought I'd try to get a few posts in. I cannot predict how much I'll be able to write once school starts again.

And truly this is mostly for me, to remember this season and what I'm learning and experiencing. Because there are probably all of 12 people who will read this--most of them related to me!

I knew that this summer would be challenging. 15 units in 10 weeks. And for fun, I had to throw in another 3-unit online class that needed to be completed by the end of summer, thanks to some miscommunication. It was a KILLER. We had at least one test almost every Friday. Some weeks we had two tests and a quiz. On top of that, most weeks we had at least one written assignment due. Many were "group projects" which required collaboration and coordination.

It was quite the pinnacle of my first year of nursing school.

So, here are 12 things I've learned during 12 months of nursing school.

1. My husband is off the charts incredible. There is absolutely no way I could have survived and succeeded without him. And there is no way our girls would have continued to thrive. My family comes above all, and if I felt like they were suffering too much, I couldn't  continue. But Bean kept life going and would often send me off to study while he handled things at home. Yes, my girls missed mama a lot--but they are well loved by daddy too.

2. Nursing school--an accelerated program--is harder than I expected. Pretty much the most challenging thing I've done educationally thus far. And I have a few degrees under my belt already. The material itself is not hard--but the speed at which you need to learn it and know it well, is what makes it hard. I've never studied so hard in my life.

3. Being surrounded by smart and motivated people is very beneficial. I think this applies to many areas of life. We've had several professors tell us that we are a "very smart cohort." Knowing that my classmates are studying hard and doing well in our classes motivates me to do the same--no excuses that I have a family or am commuting 1-hour each way. If you are surrounded by people (friends, career etc) who are okay with mediocre, you will be too. Always look for those who will challenge you and want you to do better.

4. Balance is key to success, no matter how hard the task. I am one of three in my cohort with kids (one has 1, another has 3). Most aren't working and the only priority besides nursing school, is a significant other. They spend A LOT of time studying and not a lot of time sleeping. Yes, I spend a lot of time studying too--but I have a lot less time than most. I have to balance time with my family, taking care of my home (although it's been pretty messy this summer!) and squeezing in some self-care here and there. I truly believe having to strike this balance has helped me be successful in my classes, especially because I have to study smart since I may not have as long.

5. Sleep trumps extra studying. Every time. If there is one thing about being an "older student" and one with kids, it's that I can't pull all-nighters. I just can't function and I don't even have the brain power to learn in the wee hours of the morning. I need at least 6hrs of sleep, but 7 is more ideal. I have found that I do much better going to sleep at a normal time, sleeping 7hrs and then waking up early to study a little more before an exam. This keeps my body rested and my stress levels lower and my health strong. I have only been sick once this year and was able to get over it quickly.

6. I can survive without exercise. I have exercised, especially running, consistently for the last 3-4 years. There may have been a few weeks off here and there for various reasons, but exercise has been an important outlet for me. During the spring I was still able to keep up with exercising a few times a week. But a few weeks into summer, something had to give. I just didn't have the time for the workout, the stretching, the shower afterwards. I was "in school" 4 days a week, many days needing to wake between 5am and 6am. When I'd get home, my family needed me, and then there was so much homework and studying--I just had to let exercise go. Trying to fit it in created more stress than it released. Yet, I survived. I didn't gain weight. I kept my sanity.

7. I really love my kids. I calculated that I was gone more than 40-hours each week this summer. I've been blessed to never work a typical 40-hr-week job and so this was a new experience for all of us. I missed them--and their crazy ways--a lot. I was very thankful for FaceTime and getting to see their faces on the nights I wasn't home. It was definitely hard on them to have me gone so much. The experience helped me develop more patience too. I didn't want to waste my precious time with them being impatient and doing a lot of yelling.

8. Nourishing foods really do make a difference. I'll probably try to share more on this later, but I am prone to headaches and stomach issues--both of which are aggravated by stress. Of which there was a lot to go around the last months. I found that eating foods that nourish my body helped these issues not affect as much as they normally might. So what did I eat you ask? A lot of bacon, eggs, meat and vegetables. Not a lot of fruit or processed foods. My indulgences were chocolate and ice cream, as long as I was feeling good--they didn't have ill effects. Oh, and I kept Starbucks in business.

9. Chipotle is the best. I ate there almost every Friday. And by almost, I think I mean every. A steak salad with salsa and guacamole is almost my favorite meal. No beans, rice or tortilla necessary.

10. Texts, Facebook messages and emails from friends mean THE MOST. I can't tell you how many times I'd be struggling through a day, tired, missing my family, stressing over tests, assignments or grades--and I'd get a text out of the blue from a friend saying they were praying for me, they believed in me, helping me countdown to the end of the summer. If you have a friend going through a difficult time or working hard towards a goal and they come to mind--TELL THEM! It truly means so much.

11. Friends who open their home to you multiple times a week are an answer to prayer. You know that Garth Brooks song "Unanswered Prayers"? Well a few years ago a good friend, who also has three daughters, moved an hour away. And I was not happy. But guess what. She happens to live less than 10 minutes from the clinical sites I've been assigned to the last two semesters and 15 minutes from my school campus. AND she has a guest bedroom. This summer I stayed at her house twice a week and studied in her cozy guest room for almost every test. I had to go to the hospital on Tuesday nights and be there again Wednesday morning at 6:45am. Being able to spend the night in the area made a world of difference.

12. Pursuing your dreams is amazing...and amazingly difficult. If I had known how this would affect my family and how challenging it would be--I may have thought twice before signing up. But the fact remains, I am fulfilling a life-long dream and a purpose I believe God destined me for. I believe God purposed for me to be in full-time ministry for 11 years, and now he has plans for me as a nurse. I am glad I wasn't afraid to follow that dream and make these changes. I am grateful for a husband, family and friends who are so supportive and believe in me. When I finish this--I'm throwing THEM a party.

There are so many other things I'm learning and people I could give props to. But this is long enough, and hopefully I'll be back to post again soon.