December 19, 2012

Roller Coaster

Last time I blogged, I shared all of the emotions that were coursing through me as I prepared to start caring for patients on my own. That was about a month ago and so much has happened since that time. I can barely wrap my head around it all but maybe writing them here will help.

Let me start by saying how extraordinarily thankful I am to have my job. I worked hard to get through school but much of getting hired happened by coincidence. A lot of strangers had to put their confidence in me as a new graduate with no critical care experience to learn quickly on my feet. And I couldn't have done it without the love & support of my family, who have always believed in me and supported whatever I have decided to do. I'm still trying to prove them all right every single day.

With that being said, it has been a roller coaster of emotions unlike anything I've ever experienced. Some mornings, I sleep like a baby knowing I did right by my patients. Other nights, I toss and turn because my head races with things I could have done better. I still have a knot in my stomach before work but every night gets a little better as I'm figuring out my routine and learning to anticipate the needs of my patients.

Besides patient care, I'm also learning how to ask for help when I need it. When I was orienting, I always had a co-worker by my side whose job it was to help me. But now I'm on my own. The other nurses have their own patients to tend to as I'm expected to tend to mine, too. I'm learning who I can go to for advice and the subtle art of choosing the right things to say when I need to ask certain people for help. But sometimes it just boils down to being a polite person - pleases & thank-you's can still go a long way. And offering to help people when you have a spare moment is a good way to make friends because we all need help sometimes.

Speaking of friends, I've had a difficult time finding common ground with the people I work with. Of course, everyone has been nice but they're all at different places in their lives that I have a hard time relating to - some nurses have worked there for over 20 years! I'm probably the youngest person on my unit by at least 4-5 years, which doesn't seem like a huge difference but I'm realizing there are a lot of life experiences & lessons learned between just graduating college and being in the real world for a few years. And I take myself pretty seriously sometimes, especially at work when I'm just trying to focus on not screwing up. I'm working on it but it gets a little easier every night like everything else.

Overall, the past month has been a humbling experience. I have been challenged physically, mentally & emotionally unlike anything I have ever experienced. I have done chest compressions, cleaned up more poop than when I worked at a daycare, hugged a family member of a patient we couldn't save, and had a patient fall in love with me because I reminded him of "the one that got away." It's difficult work but everyday I am able to say that I help people in times of crisis. And I count my blessings every single day that it's not someone I love who needs the help that I'm providing.

And of course, I can't speak about the past month without addressing the tragic loss of 26 beautiful lives in Newtown, CT. I can't begin to fathom the agony & grief the families, friends & entire community are facing and have yet to face as they try to carry on with pieces of them missing. Although I am not a mother, I think this post by Ashley of Ashley Quite Frankly beautifully expresses the human experience of heaviness we all feel surrounding this incident. She also touches on my own sentiments that the best way to honor these precious lives is to appreciate our own loved ones and cherish our limited time together in this mortal world, which is exactly what I plan to do.

Nor can I comprehend the internal strife of a person driven to do something so contrary to human nature. But I believe we can all benefit from paying a little bit more attention to the people we come in contact with in our daily lives and acknowledging they are fighting their own personal battles. We could use a little more kindness in the world.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm just really thankful and love y'all.

November 25, 2012

Funky 15

Happy birthday to my favorite brother!!! I hope this year is the best yet!

I love you, Dr. B!

November 19, 2012


This time tomorrow night, I'll be at work taking care of my very own patients for the first time. All mine, just me. There will be no preceptor to double check what I'm doing, keep me on track or call the docs for me. I will be responsible for assessing, checking orders, administering meds, charting, bathing, talking on the telephone, giving report, and everything else that being a nurse entails.

In the past week, I have recovered patients after open heart surgery from the time they wheel out of the OR until the time they are discharged home. I have rushed a patient across the hospital to have a stat CT scan. I have successfully inserted a fecal management system. I have held the hand of a patient's family member who had to make the most difficult decision a human can make for the love of their life. But there's still soooo much I need to learn and experience.

I'm excited.

I'm nervous.

I'm blessed.

I'm scared.

From here on out I have to trust my instincts, my training and the big guy upstairs.

October 14, 2012

Recipe: Carrot & Apple Loaf Cake

Let me preface this post by saying that I have made those loaf twice in the past week because we're inhaling it like air. It is THAT good. 

We finally saw some cooler weather this week in Jacksonville. Nothing cold enough to bring the coats and scarves out of their storage box, but this weather was just perfect for leaving the windows open during the day. This is what we Floridians claim as our fall. 

To celebrate, I got to baking. I found this recipe for a carrot & apple loaf cake on Pinterest and knew it was the one. We had all the ingredients on hand, including 2 apples hanging on for dear life and a 10-lb bag of carrots (go big or go home, amiright?) we needed to make a dent in. Perfect!

I can't speak highly enough of this recipe. The cake is bursting with flavor and spices that wrap you up in warmth like a blanket. Then you get the textures of the crunchy carrots, gooey baked apples, moist bread and crisp crust. The original recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting that I'm sure would be delicious as well!

Carrot & Apple Loaf Cake
Barely adapted from The Best Remedy

1.5 c all-purpose flour
1.5 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
3 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1.5 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 c grated carrots (~3 carrots)
1 c apple, cubed (~2 apples)
1/4 c shredded coconut
*(or 1.5 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp nutmeg)

1. Preheat oven to 350' F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and spices. 
3. In a separate large bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, sugar and vanilla and whisk/beat until thick and slightly foamy.
4. A third at a time, add dry ingredients into wet and gently stir by hand after each addition. Gently fold in carrots, apples & coconut.
5. Pour batter into prepared loaf ban and bake for 60-70 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool the bread in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack to cool thoroughly. 

October 03, 2012

Recipe: Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Quinoa. I'm obsessed with the stuff. It's so incredibly good for you so you don't feel so bad about adding a half-pound of cheese to it!

This dish is also packed with veggies. We went with red bell peppers, mushrooms & onions. But you can really put your own spin on it with whatever you'd like. Spinach & artichoke? Yum! Tomatoes, mozzarella & basil? Mmhmm. Prosciutto & parmesan? Aren't you fancy.

Quinoa Mac & Cheese
Barely adapted from Moni Meals

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed & drained
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I used Accent)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated & divided

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, mushrooms & seasonings. Cook 5 minutes until tender. Stir in quinoa and garlic, cook 5 minutes until grains turn opaque.

2. Add chicken stock. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 25 minutes or until most of liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 350' F. Coat glass baking dish with cooking spray (we used a 6-cup rectangular Pyrex). Whisk together eggs & milk in a large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and 3/4 of the cheese. Stir well.

4. Transfer mixture into prepared baking dish and top evenly with remaining cheese. Bake 40 minutes or until browned around the edges. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

September 27, 2012

4 years & going strong

Happy 4-year anniversary, PDubbs!

I love you more & more each day. 

September 24, 2012

Recipe: Quinoa Egg Bake

This week is going to be crazy! PDubbs has his first "hell week" of the semester this week. Today, he had a presentation followed by a 2-hour biochemistry exam. There's an "active learning" module he has to prepare for Wednesday. And he'll spend the rest of his free time studying for his medicinal chemistry final that he'll take Friday afternoon. While he's slaving away, I'll also be reverting back to a student with 4 full days of classes this week. In the midst of this, we will be celebrating our 4-year anniversary(!!!) on the 27th with a date night Friday night after his exam. And Papa Dubbs is coming to stay with us Saturday & Sunday to celebrate his birthday and help us take care of some maintenance things around the condo.

So we have great things to look forward to at the end of the week! But getting there will be a challenge. And we're going to need some good fuel for our bodies and minds throughout the week. We know ourselves well enough to realize that if we don't plan ahead, we will go hungry from indecision and sheer exhaustion. We planned out some new, healthy & hearty meals over the weekend to get use through the week. We even stocked up on groceries to minimize shopping trips that usually end with extra impulse buys.

Sunday night we started on the right foot with a quinoa egg bake. It's full of super foods, like quinoa, eggs and spinach, that are high in protein and vitamins to jumpstart our bodies & minds. The quinoa settles to the bottom to create a sort of crust while the parmesan browns up beautifully for a crispy exterior. It was absolutely delicious and made enough for us to have leftovers later in the week!

Quinoa Egg Bake
Barely adapted from Whole Foods
Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
8 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350'F. Grease an 8x8 inch glass or metal baking dish.

2. Rinse quinoa under cold water until water runs clear. Drain well.
If your strainer is like mine, you may need to line it with a paper towel so you don't lose all your quinoa!
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, spices and quinoa. Stir in spinach and pour mixture into prepared dish. Cover with aluminum foil and gently jiggle the dish so that the quinoa floats to the bottom.

4. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top evenly with parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes then slice & serve. Feel free to top with salsa or sriracha (PDubb's favorite!). 

Get. In. My. Belly.

September 23, 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin Shortbread

Hooray for fall! My love for October has been heavily documented (here & here) on this blog. While October is clearly the favorite in my book, my excitement does not stop there. Oh no! I spread the love to all months that one can partake in wearing sweatshirts, driving with the windows down, and eating anything pumpkin-flavored.

Barney was one smart dinosaur.

For the past 3 years, I've started celebrating my favorite season by baking the same fall-inspired dessert: pumpkin biscotti. I jumped the gun this year and made it back in the beginning of September. And it was everything I dreamed of all year and more! Perfect for dipping in coffee, as an afternoon snack with tea or crumbled into some yogurt.

I finished off the last of the batch yesterday with my morning coffee and went into pumpkin withdrawals approximately 27 seconds later. I need pumpkin-flavored treats nearby at all times during this glorious season.

I've pinned a bunch of pumpkin and fall-related recipes on Pinterest lately. Pumpkin granola, pumpkin cheddar mac & cheese, pumpkin chili, pumpkin fudge... you name it, it's out there. But I hadn't seen a recipe for one of my favorite types of cookies - shortbread. I love the buttery goodness and crumbly texture. And adding pumpkin to it? Perfection.

After a little research, I finally found a recipe that seemed to fit the bill. Plus, the author seems just as smitten with pumpkin and its respective season as I am! These cookies are absolutely beautiful and smell just like fall when coming out of the oven. They're not as crumbly nor as sweet as your typical shortbread. But they are the perfect complement to a strong cup of coffee!

Pumpkin Shortbread
Barley adapted from Adventures in Shaw
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 cups flour (I used all-purpose, but I would love to try whole wheat to see if it adds some nuttiness)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Using a stand (or hand) mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Scrape down bowl. Add flour & salt in 2 additions, scraping down the bowl in between, until incorporated. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice until dough forms.

Smooooth like butter
After sugar added. I think this is fluffy?
Hello, beautiful autumn elixir.
Va-va-voom, check out that color!

2. Turn dough out onto wax or parchment paper. Roll into thick log, about 12" long and wrap in paper. Place log in freezer for 1 hour.

Plop aka The New Jim. (Anyone watch The Office this week?)

3. After 1 hour, cut the log into 1/4"-thick disks and lay on baking sheets covered in parchment paper. Refrigerate cookies while the oven preheats to 350'F. Bake 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks before serving.

Right before hitting the oven.

September 21, 2012

Post-Grad Life

Whoops, forgot I had a blog!

I guess the headline of this little blog is a little outdated since I'm no longer a college girl nor do I live in Gainesville. I'll have to make some changes around here if I want to keep my wonderful readers happy!

Anyways, things are great here in Jacksonville! I'm about 45 days into my nursing career as an RN in a CVICU and I absolutely love it. I'm still orienting to the position so I work with a preceptor, who shows me the ropes and prepares me to take care of patients by myself. My preceptor, Chesley, is a Samford alum and she's awesome! She's helped me a lot the past 5 weeks and I'm feeling more and more comfortable with my role and responsibilities every day. I'm working day shift right now but I'll transition to night shift in a few weeks. 

Pharmacy school is in full swing for PDubbs. He's already had 2 exams, several presentations and about 50 lectures since beginning a month ago. Most of his lectures are filmed in Gainesville and then posted online so he can watch from the comfort of his office in his pajamas. A couple of times a week he has to drive to the Jacksonville downtown campus at Shands Hospital for presentations, lectures and other Pharm activities. So far, so good!

As far as Jacksonville goes, we're trying to learn our way around the city and find fun things to do. Earlier this month, we went on a bus tour of local Jacksonville breweries with my old friend, Whitney. Whitney & I played soccer together for 4 years growing up and we both went to UF and kept in touch but had different groups of friends and extracurriculars. We hardly ever saw each other, which goes to show you just how big UF can be! But she moved up to Jacksonville for grad school at UNF and we were all in need of some familiarity (and good craft beer!). It was a lot of fun and definitely something worth showing guests from out-of-town!

That's pretty much it around here. We have a pretty good routine worked out and things are going smoothly. I can't make any promises about how often I'll post here since I never seem to fulfill those promises (sorry!). But I'll post big updates or random things when I feel inspired. Like the fact that the new Mumford & Sons album comes out this Tuesday - I.AM.SO.FRICKIN.EXCITED! They'll also be on SNL this Saturday :)

May 03, 2012

Recipe: Spinach & Sausage Stuffed Shells

Whenever PDubbs or I has a big exam or project coming up, the other one is pretty much responsible for making sure the person studying actually eats. PDubbs spent all of Tuesday studying for his last undergrad final so it was my turn to fuel his brain. We had a rare tub of ricotta in the fridge (from birthday pancakes), beautiful ripe tomatoes and some jumbo shells just waiting to be stuffed - stuffed shells it was!

Having never made stuffed shells before, I did some quick searches on tastykitchen. After cross-referencing a couple of different recipes, I took a little from each one and came up with a game plan: make the sauce, make the filling, stuff the shells & bake! PDubbs threw together some simple and tasty garlicky green beans to round out a wonderful meal. I foresee this recipe being added to our usual dinner rotation.

Spinach & Sausage Stuffed Shells 
Adapted from Kristy & shellbell396

1 box jumbo shells (12 oz)
3/4 lb sausage, sliced or crumbled
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
9 oz fresh spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c part-skim ricotta cheese
2 c non-fat cottage cheese
1 c parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for topping)
1 c mozzarella cheese, grated (plus more for topping)
homemade tomato sauce (or 1 jar favorite tomato sauce)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook jumbo shells according to package. Once cooked, rinse under cool water and set aside.
2. In a large pan, brown sausage over medium heat. Reserving the oil, remove from pan and set aside.
3. To the pan, add onions and cook until fragrant. Move onions to outer edge of pan and add spinach to the center. When spinach is wilted, add garlic for 30 seconds. 
4. Transfer spinach mixture to a colander lined with paper towels. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible and set aside.
5. In a medium bowl, mix the cheeses, sausage and spinach mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9x13 casserole dish (or several glass baking dishes, if you don't have a casserole dish like us :) ) by spraying with cooking spray.
7. Assemble the shells! Coat the bottom of the dish(es) with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Place 2 tbsp of the cheese mixture in each shell and place in dish seam-side down. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the top of the shells, making sure it gets down between the shells.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, uncover and sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered for 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve and enjoy :)

Homemade Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Bev Cooks

3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
2 lb tomatoes, roughly diced
1/4 c red wine
salt and peper to taste

1. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When heated, add garlic and onions and cook until fragrant. Add paprika, oregano, bay leaf, tomatoes and wine. 
2. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. 
3. Remove bay leaf. Using an immersion blender/blender/food processor, process sauce until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

May 01, 2012

Last Last Day of Class

Last Wednesday was the UF class of 2012's last last day of class in undergrad. While many trotted off to lectures into the beautiful morning, I was headed to a different type of classroom: the operating room.

No, I wasn't getting surgery - just watching. Although my practicum officially ended Sunday night, my instructor agreed to let me scrub in on a surgical case. And even though my alarm was set for the ungodly hour of 5:15 AM, I was too excited to care! I got a text from one of the nurses on the unit at 5:30 telling me to meet her on the floor at 7. After a quick change into surgical scrubs, I was brought to the pre-op holding area to meet my patient, who was having a coronary artery bypass graft (lovingly referred to as CABG or "cabbage"). I was especially excited for this type of surgery because Grandpa Jimmy Rock had one a few years back and I've cared for tons of patients in the ICU and regular units after this surgery. I barely had enough time to put on my scrub cap & mask before we were rolling to the OR.

I'll spare you the boring medical stuff, but I will say that it was totally awesome! The team of anesthesiologists, surgeons, perfusionist, nurses and techs worked seamlessly together from the second the patient rolled into the room. The sterile field ready to go, the anesthesiologists sedated him and then put all of their IV lines in to precisely monitor his vital signs. The nurse was running around getting the room set up. I loved watching all of the sterile procedures and how everyone knew what everyone else was doing.

I don't see myself working in an operating room anytime soon. I understand why surgery is necessary (in most cases) but I've seen the suffering that some patients go through after such an invasive procedure. I'd rather stay at the bedside and help these people get better.

And that concludes my practicum, spring semester, senior year and undergraduate career. All that's left is to walk across that stage and flip my tassel!

April 30, 2012

Happy Happy Birthday

Today my man turns 22! Happy birthday, PDubbs!

I love you!!!

April 14, 2012

Good Things

A lot has happened since the last time I blogged here 2 weeks ago. And if you have ever read any of my posts on this little website, you know that I love me a good list. So, without further ado, here's a list of things!

1. Since you're probably still losing sleep over your excitement from my last post about Dance Marathon,  I won't leave you hanging any longer. The 26.2 hours flew by and it felt like we had just began when they held up this beautiful number. 

It's incredible what some college kids can do when they work together for a great cause. It was another wonderful experience and I am honored to be just a small part of it all. I'm so proud of all of the students who participated, especially my fellow Phi Sigma Pi Brothers who do it all for the right reasons. I'm already budgeting my still-imaginary salary to make sure that I can continue to contribute to this cause that means so much to me and our community. 

2. Speaking of jobs, I'm nearing the end of my practicum in the CICU. With only 2 more shifts to go, I am trying to soak up as much information and experience as I can. I've learned so much the past few weeks and have truly come to love this type of nursing. I love it so much that I'm even willing to overcome my asinine fear of talking on the telephone to help my patients. 

3. Speaking of working, trying to work nights and balance daytime responsibilities sucks. I'm finding the time to get everything done but my body's circadian rhythm is gone. I can only sleep 4 hours at a time, which means I need at least 1 nap a day. Hopefully having these last 2 shifts spread out over a week will help get my body back into the swing of things. 

4. Speaking of working nights, our recent Phi Sigma Pi meetings have actually helped maintain my nocturnal life. The past few weeks we've had back-to-back-to-back long chapter meetings because of officer elections and Brother voting this past week. And by long, I mean 6-10 hours each. But even though these meetings leave me emotionally & physically drained (not to mention with serious cankles), I have enjoyed them all as I reach the end of my term. This past Thursday was my last meeting presiding as chair and it ended on such a great note. I have learned a lot from being Parliamentarian and I have seen our young Brotherhood grow and learn with me. 

4. Speaking of a long time, for the first time all semester, PDubbs & I were able to sneak down for some time at home. It fortunately fell on Easter weekend so Jordan was also home for the holiday. It was the first time we've all been under the same roof since January 4th! We had a nice dinner in Friday night, went to the gym Saturday morning and got to hang out with the Ownley clan for their monthly luncheon all before heading back to Gainesville that afternoon. Even though our visit was less than 24 hours, it felt so good to be together again. 

5. Speaking of feeling good, going to the gym that Saturday morning made me feel good at first but then NOT so good for 5 days afterwards. I could not sit or stand for a good 2 days without wincing and I finally regained full movement in my elbows by Thursday. Crossfit is CRAZY!!!

6. Speaking of crazy, here's the best news of all: PDUBBS WAS ACCEPTED INTO THE UF PHARMD PROGRAM!! He had his interview in Jacksonville on March 30th and found out earlier this week that he was officially accepted for the fall. I have personally seen how hard he has worked the past few years, and especially this semester, to prepare himself for this opportunity. I know he will continue to apply himself 110% in pharmacy school and he will be a fantastic pharmacist one day very soon. I've seen first hand how much he has grown a student and a person throughout his time in college and I couldn't be more proud of him. Congratulations, PDubbs! I love you!

7. Speaking of Jacksonville, I gotta go apply for jobs and apartment hunting! More sappy posts coming soon...

March 31, 2012


Later this morning, I will stand up and won't sit back down again until Sunday afternoon.

It's finally here again - DANCE MARATHON!

For 26.2 hours, I will stand & dance along some of my best friends to raise money & awareness for Children's Miracle Network right here at Shands Children's Hospital. Thank you to everyone who has donated to help me reach my goal of over $400, which allowed me to represent Phi Sigma Pi Gamma Epsilon for the second time. I am truly honored & blessed to be surrounded by such caring, compassionate people to help make miracles happen for the kids. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Check out for more information and follow me on twitter for live updates!

March 18, 2012

I Work Out

I've alluded to working out more the past few posts. While it has helped me maintain my crazy sleep schedule, it's also in preparation for running a half-marathon. It's been my semi-personal New Year's resolution the past couple of years but I'm determined to make it a reality this year!

I started this plan last week and have been following it without any problems. I've also been eating healthier: more veggies, fruits & protein, less ice cream. (But wait, isn't there protein in ice cream... maybe ice cream will make an appearance :) )

Last week I ran a total of 16 miles, 6 of which were done in one day. It was the first time I've run 6 miles straight on a treadmill and I was a little nervous that I would get bored. But I had a great playlist on my iPod and kept a comfortable pace so I wasn't killing myself. I ran most of it at a 9:50 min/mile pace, kicking it up to 7:30 the last .25 miles. It felt awesome to accomplish all of the runs I set out for the week - hopefully that motivation will keep my going!

I don't have any races in mind yet but the Florida racing season doesn't really start until the fall. Since my training plan is only 16 weeks, I have plenty of time to stick to my plan as well as cross train with other activities. Like play on my intramural soccer team or attempt this swamp dash with my dad in April. Or I could stick to the plan exactly and add on another training plan to do a full-marathon!

So that's why I'm exercising a little more these days. I may not update this little blog with my boring runs but I'll keep you posted about big ones, like a 10-miler on the schedule in a few weeks.

March 13, 2012

Preparing to work nights - an experiment

In nursing school, the last half of the last semester is spent in "practicum" or, in the new curriculum, "transition." During this time, students don't attend classes. Instead, they are paired with a precepting nurse and essentially work the nurse's schedule, which culminates in 180 clinical hours.  This year, we were given the opportunity to preference our top patient population, acuity and type of unit.

Right before spring break, I found out that I got my first choice for my transition - a cardiac ICU! I was stoked! Ever since working at Baptist over the summer, I've grown to love the cardiac specialty. But I didn't know who my preceptor was, which means I didn't know my schedule or if I was going to be working days or nights. Well, I found out Tuesday that I will be working nights and I start Wednesday!

There are a lot of pros & cons to working nights, which I'll recap in a later post as I become more familiar with the schedule. But right now, I just need a strategy to make me nocturnal ASAP!

My friend, Affitin, is also working nights and began today. I asked her for some advice so I'll be following some of her tips and documenting it here. In real time. The game plan is to stay awake until PDubbs wakes up. Let the great experiment begin...

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM: Take a nap
The idea behind this was to allow me to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. I worked out earlier in the day to help me get to sleep for this nap, which worked beautifully. I didn't wake up feeling groggy at all, but it was pretty weird waking up when it was dark outside.

9:00 PM: Eat dinner
I've been told to try to maintain a regular meal schedule like I would on my days off. 9 o'clock is a little late for us to eat dinner but hopefully it will prevent hunger pangs at 2 AM. Dinner was leftovers from last night's dinner: whole wheat pasta with onions & broccoli in a garlicky tomato sauce. It was delicious, familiar food that I know won't upset my stomach and I felt full afterwards. Let's see how long it holds out!

9:30 PM: Brew some coffee
Nothing wakes me up like a cup of hot coffee. I'm planning on saving it when I feel myself slipping. Otherwise, I'll be sipping on ice cold water all night to keep me awake. 

11:15 PM: Shower
I felt a little lull around my usual bedtime as I saw PDubbs preparing to go to bed. The shower woke me up a little bit. :)

11:30 PM: Blog
Woohoo! Another half-hour down.

12:00 - 1:15 AM: Beautify
The past hour has absolutely crawled by. I braided my hair, said adios to my nail polish, and poured myself another cup of joe. I've been listening to music & reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which I started over spring break. I'm going to try to make the whole reading thing last because I definitely don't want to be staring at a computer screen to keep me awake for the next several hours. But I got a text from Affitin updating me on her first night shift. She's loving it! She says it's been a great experience already and I will love it, too.

1:15 - 3:00 AM: Finished a book
For the almost the past 2 hours, I've finished reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. It was very well-written with great characters & plot lines but it left me feeling - uneasy? I can't really describe the feeling. It dealt with a lot of heavy issues like death, regret, and grief with a bit of mental health issues thrown in too. Probably not the best choice on a night when I have so much time to think. Next time, I'll go with a lighter read. I got a little hungry right around 2:30 so I popped a couple of these bad boys that I made a couple of days ago. They're good for you and justtt filling enough. The ice water seems to be working; I've only had 2 cups of coffee all night!

3:00 - 4:00 AM: Just keep pinning

4:00 - 6:15 AM: Just. Stay. Awake.
The end is in sight! I've spent the past few hours mindlessly trolling the internet (I think that's a thing. Right, Dr. B?). More reassuring texts from Affitin about how awesome her night is going. Hopefully I'll have a similarly awesome & busy experience on my unit to stop me from wanting to fall asleeeeeep. During this time, I also started reading The Descendants even though I have zero interest in seeing the movie. After watching two seasons too many of Secret Life of the American Teenager, I don't know if I could enjoy any movie with Shailene Woodley. But so far, the book is OK. No more coffee, just water, but I'm starting to get a little hungry. Don't know if I should eat breakfast now or not...

6:16 AM: Ate breakfast
Yes, it had to happen. I already had oats-in-a-jar prepared in the fridge so all I had to do was grab a spoon & open the lid. If it wasn't already prepared I don't know if I would have bothered getting off the couch.

7:00 AM - 12:30 PM: Zzzzzz
I rolled into bed right as PDubb's alarm was going off so we got to chat a little bit before my head hit the pillow. Then it was easy sleeping. I actually woke up 30 minutes before my alarm went off but I felt refreshed and ready to go. It was really weird waking up to full daylight! We don't sleep in much on the weekends so it hasn't happened in several months. I ate some cereal as soon as I woke up & PDubbs had the coffee maker ready to brew, just like a normal breakfast. Thanks, PDubbs :)

2:00 PM: Just keep running
Since I woke up too early, I want to take a nap before heading in. I ran 4 miles on a treadmill and felt pretty good, despite some residual soreness during the first mile from doing pilates yesterday. Hopefully this workout will tire me out enough so I can sleep for 45-60 minutes. I also showered so I can sleep in my comfy bed instead of on the couch like yesterday :)

4:00 - 5:00 PM: Nap
Well, I didn't truly nap because I never actually fell asleep. My body was tired but my phone was acting weird so I was anxious my alarm wouldn't go off.  But I felt less tired afterwards, so that counts for something. I ate the last of the leftovers before catching the bus at 5:45.

7:00 PM - 7:00 AM: Save lives
Just kidding, none of our patients lives were in danger last night. But it was soooo much fun! I met my preceptor before getting report and just went from there. It was more of an observation day to become familiar with the unit, staff & nursing care provided. Even though our patients were relatively healthy compared to others on the unit, I learned so much from the experience. Everyone, including my preceptor, was extremely friendly and excited to show me all the cool stuff on the unit. Since it's an ICU, they don't have students very often so they relish it. As for being nocturnal, there was a natural lull in our night between 2-4, which was rough. I also got hungry around midnight and a smushed banana from the bottom of my backpack (how does it always get there?!) wasn't cutting it. Bless the poor souls working at Subway during the night who quenched my hunger pangs but I will definitely be bringing more snacks in the future.

8:45 AM - 1:00 PM: Zzzzz
I felt like a zombie once I left the excitement of the hospital and walked into the mellow morning. The people who ride the bus away from campus at that time are rough, and I definitely belonged in that category. I ate some breakfast before hitting the hay and I was asleep as soon as my head touched my pillow. I slept like a baby until I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm again. I felt fine then but by 3, I was starting to get sleepy again, despite downing 2 cups of coffee.

Overall, the past couple of days have been weird. That's the best word for it. I think if I was just working full-time it would be a lot easier to adjust to the schedule & maintain it. However, I have other priorities in my life that have to managed during the day. This makes time & sleep management a difficult balancing act and I realize now that next couple of months may be a more difficult than I initially expected. But it's definitely doable and having graduation looming so closely is a great light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel motivator.

Have you ever worked nights or pulled all-nighters? What sort of advice would you give to struggling nocturnalists?

March 11, 2012

A new design

Just adding a little more spring happiness to this place :)

March 09, 2012

SB12 Day 3: The Main Event

Today's the day!

We woke up Wednesday morning to great news - PDubbs was accepted for an interview into the UF College of Pharmacy!!! He's been waiting for weeks to hear back from Jacksonville and it was such a relief to get that email. We knew from that moment it was going to be a great day!

To celebrate, we went to our wonderfully helpful yelp app to find a breakfast place that was unique to Nashville. The reviews for Sky Blue Cafe told us that there was usually a line out the door for Sunday brunch - definitely a good sign! It was the perfect way to celebrate the good news.

Pdubbs wins the meal again.

We went back to the hotel to blog and send some emails before hitting the city again. We heard from several fans that they had seen the band outside the Ryman around 2 and were able to have their pictures taken with them. We casually strolled around the auditorium around that time hoping to catch a peek at the band. No cigar. 

We decided to take a long walk around the city to kill some time before the show. We stopped in at Hatch Show Prints to see them at work making some of their iconic prints. I honestly couldn't tell you what color the walls were because they were completely covered from floor to ceiling with posters! So many amazing artists were represented - Elvis, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash & newcomers like Regina Spektor, John Mayer and Wilco. The printing presses were hammering away in the back of the store. I could have spent hours (and all my money) looking around but we had other things to see!

We visited the Nashville Library, where our feet enjoyed a well-deserved break as we sat in the courtyard.  While it might not be an attraction, I love big old institutional buildings like libraries. This one is located smack dab in the middle of downtown Nashville, providing a perfect place to rest weary feet and brains.

After seeing our fair share of the streets, we headed back to the Ryman around 5 to get in line for the gates to open. We were behind about 7 other fans who were patiently waiting outside the barricades. About 15 minutes later, we spotted Ben Lovett, one of the M&S members, getting into a car with his girlfriend. A few of us from the line ran up to say hello and get a quick picture. He gave us a sweet, apologetic smile as he told us that he was heading out for 30 minutes. Of course, he ended up not coming back out to the fans but we got to talk to him!

While were we waiting, we also saw a bearded man dressed in skinny jeans, flannel shirt & vest pacing around outside. While his trademark hipster attire didn't warrant any notice at an event like this, we watched him because he kept nervously checking his cell phone and looking up and down the street. This continued for about half an hour until around 5:45, when a big white van pulled up and several guys jumped out. They greeted the skinny-jean clad dude then began unloading the van, which was also packed full of musical equipment. With their arms full of equipment, they ran into the auditorium through the artist door. As they ran away, I noticed the last one as the lead singer of Dawes, one of the bands that was opening for Mumford that night. We would find out later that these guys had just gotten into town after playing a gig in LONDON the night before. It made me exhausted just thinking about that trek, but clearly playing in the Ryman for the first time was well-worth the crazy voyage!

The crowds slowly trickled in until they opened the gates at 6:30. After a quick flash of ID, we received our "grown-up" wristbands, got our tickets scanned, and made a beeline for the merchandise counter before taking our seats. I had researched our seats online before coming so I was under the impression that they would be considered obstructed view, as there are dozens of pillars holding up the balcony seats. But I was pleasantly surprised thrilled when we took our seats with this glorious view!

Our rookie concert-goer status was pretty evident as we were a couple of the first people to take our seats around 6:40.  But our new friends from the forum were also early birds, who happened to have tickets to all 3 shows! They stopped by to chat and told us all about the show Tuesday night. Everyone else filed in somewhere between 7:25 and 9:15 with beers, shirts & posters in hand. But we were in our own little world as we took everything in, speculated about what songs they would sing and said a few prayers that Marcus would be well.

The Apache Relay opened the show with a solid set, followed by Dawes. When these bands were announced as support for our show, I tried to become more familiar with their music so I could appreciate it more. I was able to sing along to a couple songs in each of the sets and we both enjoyed every single song. Both bands were extremely fun to watch. I especially loved watching the lead singer of Dawes, Taylor Goldsmith, jam out on guitar. PDubbs & I were laughing most of the time as homeboy boogied all over the stage, just jamming away.  We were surprised at how few people were in their seats during both of the opening sets, especially given how awesome these up-and-coming bands were.

Finally, it was time for the main event! The lights dimmed and the crowd rose to their feet, an attention most would hold all night. The spotlights came on as the boys made their way across the stage, grabbed their instruments and began with their album's namesake, Sigh No More. From my obsessive extensive research, I've found out that they frequently open with this song and I totally get why - it starts out slowly and simply with just a guitar, a harmony and some beautiful words. The song gradually builds as more instruments and rhythms are added. During the show, the sound filled the auditorium and the entire crowd was singing the beautiful lyrics, a trend that would continue all night. It was a wonderful way to start the show!

They continued with some more favorites from Sigh No More, including PDubb's fave, Roll Away Your Stone. They also threw in a couple of newer numbers in the mix, such as Lovers' Eyes and Lover of the Light. The crowd sang, clapped and stomped the whole night and whooped for their favorites (which was all of them). Something about stomping in a venue like that felt sacrilegious yet incredibly necessary. It was a blast!

You could tell the band was having a lot of fun, too, as they smiled and joked with the crowd in between songs. They all repeated the same sentiment about being honored to play at the Ryman. Ben said it was cutting into their time recording the new album but they "just HAD to be here".  They slowed down the show perfectly with moving versions of Timshel & Ghosts That We Knew, which I think were especially beautiful in this venue. Their talent never ceases to amaze me as they take on these two songs with little more than their voices.

I was a bit envious when our friends told us that Jerry Douglas had come out to perform a cover of The Boxer during Tuesday night's show. But we were happily surprised for the second time when Marcus introduced "Mr. Jerry Douglas" again! He walked on stage with his Dobro, tuned it up a bit, as Winston continued the introductions, mentioning that Jerry had "played at the Ryman about 5,000 times". Marcus joked that "he's improved". And with that, they were off with The Boxer. I might even like this version more than the original! What do you think?

The Boxer

Jerry stayed on stage for Awake My Soul, where the Dobro added an eeriness that definitely had me guessing as to what song I was actually listening to. But it was eery in the best possible way. This song turned into a big stompin' fest - the floor was literally shaking from all of the stomping. It just felt right. You know, until we were off beat. It was really cool to see the admiration these guys had for Jerry Douglas as they gathered around him with their instruments during the song. They just wanted to be close to him! Jerry left the stage after a big bear hug from each of the band members and an appreciative round of applause from the crowd.
Awake My Soul

They finished the set with a new song, Broken Crown, and Dust Bowl Dance. Both were rocking (Marcus broke a guitar string during Broken Crown!) but Dust Bowl Dance was the highlight of the show for us both! It was probably the best song I have ever seen performed live. There's not much more I can say besides mind-blowing. Yep, mind-blowing. Sorry for the lack of adjectives but you just need to see it yourself! And please enjoy Ben knocking over his microphone stand around 4:20 :)

Before they were even off the stage, the crowd was back to clapping & stomping in unison for an encore. After this continued for several minutes, the band returned with Bud Lights in hand ready for some more. Marcus had a little fun with a member of the audience as he began to introduce the next song as a new one, and someone yelled out "Liar!" (a title of one of their songs). Marcus took it in stride and responded "Liar? No, no, that's quite old, actually. No, now you're the liar." They began with an unplugged version of Sister, as they stepped to the front of the stage with nothing but their acoustic instruments. Their lovely harmonies were really evident in this song as long as the audience could stay quiet!


They followed this beauty by debuting a brand new song that had only been performed in front of an audience once before - at Tuesday night's show. They're calling it Where Are You Now, and it is crazy beautiful. It was the first time the crowd had been completely silent the entire night, which added to the magical experience. It's so awesome that they perform their new material for their fans before even putting it on an album. And I'm sure the final version will be slightly different if it even makes it to the new album. But I love that they aren't afraid to put out new stuff, get fan feedback and evolve with the music. I think that's one of the reasons why they have such a loyal fan base as well as amazing music.  Please go listen to it at your earliest convenience, but make sure you have some tissues ready!

The Cave

And what would a Mumford & Sons concert be without The Cave? It totally brought down the house and had us both singing at the top of our lungs, along with the other 2,000 fans. And the band was right there with us, smiling the whole time and enjoying the moment. After they graciously thanked the audience (for the millionth time that night!), everyone parted ways. Every single person left with a huge smile across their face. And even as we were walking the streets an hour later after dinner, we ran into several groups of people singing various renditions songs from the show or talking excitedly about their favorite moments.

Hands down, this was my favorite concert I've ever been too. Their incredible harmonies are full of passion, which just sucks you into every song. I was kind of surprised how sad I was to see each and every song end but then I would eagerly anticipate the beginning of the next one. I was a huge M&S fan before, but seeing them in concert and hearing about how they interact with their fans just made me love them even more.

I know I speak for PDubbs too when I say that we are so very grateful to have gotten this opportunity and thankful for my awesome parents for making it all possible. We're lucky for the good people we met along the way and the memories we will always share from our last amazing spring break. We might not get a chance to do something like this in a long time between careers and schools, but I think we made the most of it and we're ready to tackle the next few months before graduation!

Sorry for such a long post! I had a lot of feelings about the show and wanted to blog about them to get them all out. As a reward for making it so far, here's a link to an mp3 of the new song! And below I've posted the set list with links to some of the youtube videos I've found from that night so you can relive it with us :)

Opening Acts

Mumford & Sons
Roll Away Your Stone
The Boxer with Jerry Douglas
Awake My Soul with Jerry Douglas

Where Are You Now (New Song)

March 07, 2012

SB12 Day 2: Nashville

Wow - it's been a long but incredibly fun day! 

We woke up this morning to a small disappointment: no free breakfast at the hotel #firstworldpains. So we were dressed, packed & out the door by 8 to hit up Another Broken Egg in Mountain Brook. We needed coffee in our systems STAT!

Love the mugs!

PDubbs ordered the Castine - a grilled croissant topped with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, asparagus, bacon & hollaindaise sauce. He definitely won this round of breakfast ordering!

After a deliciously overpriced breakfast, we set out for Nashville. And a few short hours later, we arrived at our hotel, ready to explore. Or sit around watching TV for an hour. It's a problem, but I digress.

So handsome :)

We set out without any definitive plans except to meet a new friend later in the afternoon to get our tickets. We walked around downtown, taking in all of the sights, sounds & smells. There were street performers on every corner, belting everything from country to classic rock. Our first stop was to see the Ryman Auditorium. We debated for a good 2 minutes whether or not to spend the $13/person (!!!) to take a "self-guided tour" i.e. just walk around for as long as we wanted. Of course, we went ahead & splurged to (a) buff up on our Ryman/country history and (b) hopefully catch a glimpse of the band. Honestly, it was mostly (b).

We suffered through a boring enjoyed an educational 8-minute video of the history & importance of the Ryman and all of its Grand Ole Opry glory. I was a little too preoccupied with watching the roadies set up the stage for tonight's show! Actually, the Ryman is an extraordinarily beautiful venue. Between the original wooden pews, stained glass and curved walls, it makes for an incredible experience.

We were able to walk around the auditorium at our leisure and ended up staying for an hour watching the set up process. It takes dozens of people just to put on a relatively small show. It was really awesome to see it all coming together and get an idea of what the stage will be like tomorrow. AND we saw Winston while we were hanging around!

We got to go on stage to get a performers-eye view of the Auditorium.

Coming together

Winston('s back)

After an hour, we head out to explore some more and enjoy the beautiful weather. We walked up and down the streets of downtown Nashville & along the river. We had a great time just enjoying each others' company in a new city. There's so much to see and do in Nashville!

Around 5, we had plans to meet up with a very nice lady who had our tickets. But before I get to that, let me back up by explaining my ticket woes. When these 3 shows in Nashville were first announced on the Mumford & Sons website in early February, I didn't think much of it. As with most shows by my favorite bands, I would probably have a conflict with school or life that would prohibit me from going. But I kept thinking about those shows. I thought about them so much that I eventually looked at a calendar (duh) and realized that they conveniently fell right in the middle of UF's spring break! Perfection!

Except I'm a broke college student. So my brain started turning and I looked at a calendar again (duh) and realized that my birthday was coming up. Bingo! So I asked my wonderful loving parents if they could help support a trip for me & Patrick to go see them as an early birthday present. Knowing how much I love this band and their own affection for Nashville, they were all for it. I think my Dad even said "You MUST go to this show!" Thanks, guys!!!

So I set my alarm for 5 minutes before the tickets were to go on sale and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, I refreshed the page and they were ready! I did all the obligatory clicking, typing nonsense words and waiting without refreshing, but I wasn't able to get any. Nor was I able to get any 20 minutes later. Or an hour later. Or a day later. They were gone. And then they popped up on stubhub for 5x face value. Ugh. Patrick can attest to the fact that I was absolutely distraught for days after this disappointment.

But I couldn't stop thinking about these shows! I perused the fan forum on the website every day, hoping for news about new tickets sales. And as I perused, I found more and more people asking for tickets there. I took a gamble and scribbled down my own story that I just described for you. Within minutes, I received an email from a woman on the forum who had tickets - score! After a few more emails, we exchanged contact information & we arranged to meet in Nashville to exchange.

What happened on this forum was amazing. A couple of "older" fans got together to start an "over 35" thread on the fan forum. They got to know one another through talking about M&S music, then life experiences, and eventually became great friends. They even call themselves a family. When these shows were announced, they all agreed to purchase a bunch of the presale tickets and finally meet in person. Unfortunately, many of them couldn't make it but were willing to sell their tickets on the condition that they went to real fans and not some scalpers. So they searched the fan forum for poor souls who couldn't get tickets and offered their tickets at face value.

Which is how we got tickets to our favorite band for our last spring break! I'm so glad this whole situation worked out and I'm incredibly grateful for the kindness and honesty of a few great people. They could have scammed these tickets to make a quick buck. But instead they offered the opportunity for fans to experience this band in such a unique & historic venue. And they are such down-to-earth and genuine people! I feel honored to be among such amazing people who also call themselves M&S fans.

After meeting up with the lovely ladies above, we headed to dinner at Back Alley Diner with tickets safely secured in my purse. B.A.D. was literally in a back alley so we had a hard time getting there. But it was well worth it! PDubbs ordered the Mega Titan Burger and I went for the white bean soup & salad combo. My soup was delicious but I definitely wished I had gotten the burger too! It was pretty dead but it was also a Tuesday night and pretty early by Nashville standards. 

PDubbs: 2 
Megan: 0

After a whirlwind of a day, we decided to head back to our hotel and call it a night. We need our beauty sleep for tomorrow's adventures!