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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Well... There's not much you can do.

Its a travesty when someone who is glued to their camera and has a backlog of photos sitting on their memory card loses the darned thing, but you know what?  You can't let it get you down.  You've gotta get up, grab your camera, your empty smaller flash drive, and hit the back roads in search of more photos.  I can't replace the photos I've lost, but I can take some new ones!

Part of the reason I haven't gone out and taken photos is because I am so clueless on the back roads.  Basically I don't know where roads go, where the views are, and there is a good chance if I venture down many of the beautiful looking dirt roads I'll end up in the middle of someone's posted property.  

The people in the Upper Valley are not as friendly about posted property as they are up in the Northeast Kingdom.  Up north posted property is more of a suggestion and really doesn't apply to photographers.  Down here, though, posted property means NO ONE except the owners, even on the edge their land along the side of the road.  They are awful serious about it.  It intimidates me, because I don't want to offend anyone... just snap some photos and be on my merry way!

Also, where we live we face east and have a massive hill directly behind our house that blocks all view of the west and indications of a beautiful sunset, my favorite time to be out photographing.  Half the time the sun sets and I don't even notice.  Then, before I know it, its dark and another day has passed without me taking a single photograph.  

So, yesterday I made the point of getting out and driving around for the heck of it...  I have to start somewhere.  I have to get to know the lay of the land, what roads face west or east, and where the best 'unposted' sights are.  There is no better way to learn than just meandering. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bare Belly... Just Because

The third trimester is hitting me like a mac truck.  I am so inexplicably exhausted suddenly just like I was during a good part of the first trimester.  The fatigue I experienced this winter was the worst part of this pregnancy so far and I really hope that it isn't returning as some say it does.  I'll chalk up my three and a half hour nap Sunday evening where I accomplished nothing except drooling on a pillow on my couch to the ridiculous weekend I had at work.

But other than that I am feeling wonderful.  Since I am going to an OB appointment this morning and will be weighed and see numbers that will make me want to cry and since I haven't shared belly photos in a while, let alone a bare belly photo, I decided to share some with you!  Bare with my messy, tied up hair and weird expressions...  looking pretty has been too much effort the last few days.   Lord knows how I'll look after a pile of sleepless nights with a newborn!  Ha.

Less than 12 weeks to go...  Holy cow.   

Friday, June 24, 2011

Recap of the Week

1. I walked around all afternoon at work with a giant blob of spaghetti sauce on my scrub top.  No one told me.  At least it sort of blended in, I think...

2. Peanut butter gives me heartburn.  Well, more accurately... EVERYTHING gives me heartburn, except milk.  Thank God for milk. 

3. For the first time in years I painted something!  Thank you guys for your wonderful comments about it, too!  I seriously wasn't expecting to hear how good it was.  It is crazy how much someone's little comment can affect you for years. 

4. I missed the hot air balloon festival thanks to work and bad weather.  A photo friend of mine took some amazing photos and I am utterly jealous and pissed.  He got gallery worthy photos of colorful balloons.  I got photos of landscapes, sans balloons.

5. I just realized that I cannot find my memory card for my camera!  This is a literal tragedy for me since it is full of photos I haven't even looked at yet from the last two weeks.  You have no idea how sad and mad I am.

So you all are going to have to settle for iPhone photos for now.  :(

Hanging out on the golf course waiting for the balloon launch... that never happened.

6. Saturday marks my entrance into the Third Trimester!  I am no more prepared than I was when I entered the second trimester and neither is the baby's room.  The pressure is starting to rise.

7.  My aunt, who was due in mid-July, had her baby several weeks early this week.  A healthy boy.  Yes, my aunt (my mother's brother's wife) is only a few years older than me.  

8. My RN license is officially official, as in its on the state's license database now.  When my license appeared I kept reloading the webpage no less than seventeen times just to make sure its real.

9. I finally ordered some of my own photos for the bare walls in my home.  Its about time I did that...

10.  I'm still wicked pissed about my flash driving disappearing...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Show and Tell

So I said I was going to paint, and by golly I did paint.  I sat my butt down outside, until it began to suddenly pour, and continued to sit inside and paint to my hearts content.  Oddly enough, especially once I got going, it was really relaxing.  Everything else seemed to melt away besides the brush strokes I was making and the colors I was mixing.  

My "Painting Studio" once I moved inside was simply my kitchen table.  Acryllic paints I bought years ago and old brushes were strewn everywhere.  After a couple hours of diligently losing myself in the paint and perfecting I was doing I finally had a finished product that I think is somewhat better than a middle-schooler's attempt in art class. 

...actually I'm really self conscious when it comes to painting.  Seriously.  Someone I dated in college once told me, albeit honest I suppose, that I paint very child-like.  Since then I have been extremely wary of painting, let alone showing what I paint to people.  Funny how one simple comment can alter your whole way of thinking, isn't it?   But, I decided to show you anyway.

Its not perfect, but I am okay with that.  I loved taking a few hours and forgetting about everything else.  I loved the feeling of accomplishing something and creating something on my own.  I loved that it kind of looks like what I was trying to paint.   

Here is a side by side comparison of the photo and the painting...

Now I think I need to figure out what to do with this painting.  I think I will hang it in my bathroom.... ha.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Day Stuck at Home

My car has a dead battery this morning.  I take all the blame.  When I realized I left the windows down I went back outside to close them, turned the key, and then oops... left the key half turned in the ignition.  So now my car won't start and I am stuck at home for the day.

The house is clean, clouds are rolling in, I can't do anything in the baby's room because the furniture is too darned heavy to move, and I can't drive around taking photos since my car is dead.  And I won't dwell on all the things I can't do since I am very pregnant... ugh.  So, I am going to try and do something a little more creative and pregnancy appropriate.... paint.

I used to paint all the time, especially when I was younger.  I have a ton of brushes and acrylic paints just hanging around the house so I think that while its not raining I'll sit out on my deck, listen to the radio, and see if I can't revamp my old talent that's been dormant for so long.

So, what shall I paint? 

This photo of mine!

If it turns out good I plan on hanging it in my living room. 
If it turns out bad you'll never hear about it again. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

In Case You Were Wondering.


I'm now Jen, RN.   I think it has a great ring to it! 

My notebooks are officially being recycled or thrown away.  As many books as I can conceivably part with are going to be donated. I now have free time.  Free time!  Ack!  

So now what...?

I think maybe I can start working on all those photos backed up on my flash drive, or take some new photos, or actually clean all the hunting paraphernalia out of the baby's room, or make a quilt for the baby?  ...I have no idea how to make a quilt.  Heck, I don't even own a sewing machine, but I still want to tackle hand sewing a quilt for my baby and I'm the furthest thing from a seamstress.

I think the pregnancy hormones have made me insane so I'll leave you with some Alice Cooper lyrics...

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School's out forever
School's out for summer
School's out with fever
School's out completely!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chasing Fires

Since I've been pregnant, for obvious reasons, I haven't been able to pursue being the firefighter I used to be.  That's not even considering the fact that there isn't a department I can join in this town since the volunteer requirements are more than I can meet.  I sorely miss putting on gear and busting my hump along side the guys so instead I've taken one of my other talents and tailored it to the fire scene. 

Of course I am talking about my photography.
If you've been around here for a while its no secret that I've been taking photos of fire scenes I go to since, well, the blog began.  I'd fight the fire and then sneak a moment to try and capture it with my camera.  Now I get to traipse across the scene, sneak over the piles of hoses, and dash through neighbor's yards to try and catch the most action I can with my camera while not completely being part of the action.

Okay, so its not exactly the same thing...  but at least I still smell slightly of smoke when I come home.

If you're married to a firefighter, a firefighter yourself, or just weird like me then you know what I am talking about when I insist that nothing smells better than the sooty after smell from a long afternoon spent fighting a structure fire.  Wood, smoke, and sweat all rolled into one.  Delicious. Trust me, especially when that smell is on your significant other.  But, this post isn't about the awesome sooty smells that accompany structure fires so back to what I was talking about.  Photographing them...

Of course in the middle of my jammed packed study session of a week I had my portable radio on listening to all the surrounding agencies respond to various emergencies.  Its a habit, the radio is always on in our house.  Ambulance calls galore were dispatched.  Nothing too exciting was happening and then suddenly, whilst in the middle of mopping up black ink from a pen the dogs chewed on my cream colored carpet,  I heard the wonderful words that sent me running for my camera.  "Structure Fire".  

In the blink of an eye I was out the door, studying left behind, and en route to the scene of the fire.  High ranking officers from several departments in the area have asked that I come and photograph their fires if I am available so I take that responsibility serious.  So, when I arrived on the fire scene, that was clogged with cops who's mission were to keep people out, I had to persuade them to let me pass through their car-blocked barricades to reach the scene. 

It's kind of hard to look official, though, when you are wearing a tank top, jeans, and flip flops at a fire scene.  Nothing on me said "I am with the fire department" in any way, not considering my almost seven month pregnant protruding belly.  I got more than my fair share of stares and confrontations about how unsafe a fire scene is and no place for a pregnant woman from the police and people who didn't know me until an officer from one of the departments informed the police that I was allowed to be there. 

Finally I was free to snap some photos...

While none of these photos may seem important to the average person to those as the scene its documentation of their hard word, their efforts, and, most importantly, of the need to community has for these firefighters.  Its a testament declaring that "their work matters."  

After a few minutes perusing the scene and saying hello to the firefighters I knew an officer came up to me again.  He began lecturing me about the dangers of a fire scene.  Just before I was about to open my mouth and declare that I knew the dangers of the fire scene and had a right to be there he pointed out my shoes.  Flip flops.  And what I was standing in.  Water.  Then he pointed above my head.  Live wires on a power pole.  (while safely connected, lord knows what could happen on a fire scene causing them to come down)

I'm an idiot.  

I nodded, smiled at my stupidity, and walked away sheepishly, happy with the photos I had already captured.

Lesson learned;
Next time I will toss my sturdy EMS boots in my car to throw on in situations like this. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Good Sign?

Something tells me that an end to a very long and stressful day like this one has to be a good sign....

Excuse the quality of these photos...  They were taken with my phone from inside my house.  I was too exhausted to fiddle with my real camera, let alone find a place with a purdy view before the sun faded. 

While I haven't gotten my results yet I feel good about the exam.  The computer shut off at the minimum number of questions.  If you aren't familiar with how computer based testing is done nowadays you basically get random questions until you meet the criteria for judged competent or incompetent.  The less questions you do the more sure the computer is of  its decision.   The fact that I answered the minimum 75 questions and then the computer shut off either indicates that I superbly passed or spectacularly failed.  My gut tells me I passed..  However, I have to wait until the Vermont Board of Nursing update's their license database online to get my official result, hopefully by the end of this week.  

In the mean time I have piles and piles of laundry and a very messy house that I've neglected over the past week to tackle.  Don't even get me started on all the projects I have lined up either, like the baby's room.  Sigh...  its going to be a busy summer. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Path Once Taken

As I prepare to take the NCLEX later this afternoon I can't help, but to think about the path I traveled to get here; almost a full-fledged RN, living in a completely different part of the state, and six and half months pregnant.  Its crazy.

When I started nursing school I applied on a whim, out of frustration over the lack of paramedic courses available in the area and even more so a lack of paramedic jobs.  I submitted my application the day before the deadline with no real thought of 'what if I actually get accepted?'  A couple of weeks later a big, thick packet arrived for me in the mail.  My fate was decided.  Now I am at the culmination of that random act of career frustration two years ago and prepared (hopefully) to take the NCLEX-RN.  

But I am still nervous.  

My stomach is still tossing and turning.

Or maybe that is the baby?

It is so hard to tell these days.  

In reality nothing can relay how I feel and what this day will be like better than how I wrote about it last year.  It will be exactly the same experience, including, I hope, the computer shutting off at the minimum number of questions and me passing the exam.  Reading my past post actually made me feel better.  You'll want to see just what NCLEX day is like for any examinee. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Little Red School House

Until Thursday of next week I am officially going to be occupied with textbooks, study guides, and notes.  With the NCLEX approaching and its weight pushing on my shoulders I am going to put pretty much everything else on the back burner until after the test.  That includes this blog.  I know you all understand and wish me the best, but in the mean time I thought I'd share a story with you...

Its a true story about a little red school house.

The "Little Red School House" taken this past weekend.

This red school house is over a hundred years old.  It still sits in a valley near a winding, muddy river, snuggled between two large hills that were once covered with farm fields.  The bell still hangs in the cupola, but students no longer play in the field waiting for the teacher to call them into class.  While I've never been inside the school I knew someone who had, someone who had sat in the rows as a student and spent their childhood years learning what had to be learned growing up on a rural Vermont hillside.  

My husband's grandmother grew up just a couple miles away from this school, up a steep hill.  She was one of four children born to a dairy farming family that had resided on those hills for generations before her when northern Vermont was a vast and unruly territory.

Every school day Gram, as we affectionately called her, would walk down the hill to the school, which began about an hour after dawn so morning chores could be finished.  Their mornings always began before the sun came up.  "No such thing as sleeping in" she proclaimed to us.   

There were always at least a dozen or so children at any given time inhabiting the school house when classes were in session... a dozen children, but only from three or four families.   Mostly girls attended the school.  Boys who were old enough to help around the farm did so, especially in the spring and fall.  The only time older boys would attend class at all was in the dead of winter when there was nothing better to do.  "Better to walk to school and socialize than spend the days frozen indoors."  Gram advised.  

Each morning one family would bring a portion of lunch.  A pot of potatoes, some salted venison, or fresh apples in the fall, depending on what was in season and abundance.  Every lunchtime, which she actually called dinner, was sort of a pot luck held by the students.   Her and her sister would carry a big pot with a handle between them all the way from their farmhouse to the school in the morning while being ever so careful to not trip and stumble on the rocks and roots lining the path lest they lose their meal. 

Heating the school was a whole different matter.  Coal was not easy to come by for the mountain farmers.  Everything was heated by wood.  Sometimes farmers would spare a bit of cord wood for the schoolhouse.  Other times the older boys were sent out with a hatchet to fetch some or they brought a few pieces with them from home. 

The teacher was always a young woman not much older than the older girls, unmarried, who boarded with another nearby family.  Every couple of years a new woman would take the former teacher's place, presumably because she was to be married and start a farmstead of her own.  Despite the different women the routine was always the same.  She came early in the morning, often before the sun completely rose over the ridge line, to stoke the fire and warm the room.  "The school house always looked lived in and welcoming if you were the first student to arrive." according to Gram. 

It wasn't uncommon to have knuckles wrapped for misbehaving or to be put in a corner while being made to recite material in a sort of embarrassing display.  There was strict order in the school house, even observed by the older and mischievous boys, that began with a daily prayer and ended with a thank you to the young teacher.  Despite all the strict order there was plenty of time for playing games and joking when dinner was served.  "The best of all times was the fall when we could run through the field after our morning lessons and then eat apples with our dinner."  in Gram's opinion.  

At the end of the day each child packed up his or her books and began the trek back up the hill or along the river valley towards their farms.  Whether it was in two feet of snow or fall leaves drifting in a warm Indian summer wind there was always a long walk ahead at the end of the day.  Gram and her siblings had to walk uphill the entire way back to their farmhouse where evening chores awaited them before supper, reading, bedtime, and repeating it all again the next day.  

"I'm glad that I was brought up like that." said Gram. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Proof of a Great Weekend

There are a lot more photos, such as a couple landscape photos, that I am dying to share, but I don't have the time to process them since I really need to study for my NCLEX exam that is officially one week away now!  If I don't study this morning then I won't be allowed to go out and play with my friend at the beach on this awfully hot, 90 degree day.

Here are a few photos from the Kingdom...

Friends by the fire

Eating Marshmallows

Lots of babies and babies-to-be around.

Two pregnant ladies and one mother of a 3 month old

And of course lots and lots of fishing
 Ok... so I'm not really fishing.
Just watching Shawn.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toes in the Water.

Well, they aren't really in the water, but very close to it.  I'll settle for rocky shoreline on an eighty degree almost-summer evening along the riverside.  My husband was wading across the rocks, casting his line in search of the ever illusive trout in the fast moving water while in my lap I juggled both my NCLEX study book and camera.  Pretty soon I'll have to forgo such multitasking and exclusively pay attention to studying...  the test is drawing nigh!

My stint in the Kingdom was awesome, as always.  It was even punctuated with a round-the-fire visit by my long lost friends whom I never see enough of now that we've moved.  There are lots of photos, but for now I don't have enough energy to sort through and share them (since I am actually writing this post last night).  A day in the sunshine, while so much fun, is always exhausting.  

More photos will have to wait until tomorrow since today I must go back to reality and back to my twenty or so patients.  Phew....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back in the Kingdom

Its only for a little while...  actually, a real little while, but I will take it.  For just a couple days Shawn and I are escaping to our family camp that is far in the Northeast Kingdom, tucked on the side of the mountain, and far away from running water and power.

The Clyde River near our Camp

It's heaven.

Tonight we will light the wood stove and relax in serenity up in the mountains and tomorrow we will do whatever the heck we feel like up in the Kingdom, which hopefully will include stopping at my favorite restaurant near the Canadian Boarder for the best French Onion Soup in the world and scouting for moose.   

I'll be sure to eat a few extra gooshy, melted marshmallows for all of you while I'm off the grid! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

So What's it Really Like Being a Nursing Home Nurse?

The last few weeks I have worked my tail off.  I've worked harder and longer without eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, or even sitting than I ever have before.  To say the least my new job is not an easy one and it is not exactly the job I expected, but in a good way.

In case you forgot, I was extremely nervous about starting my new job in a nursing home.  It was the one line of work I swore I wouldn't do once I graduated nursing school.  People constantly make fun of nursing home nurses, especially in the EMS line of work.  They are degraded, regarded as idiots, and talked down to.  I'll begrudgingly admit, I've even done some of the degrading myself...  for example when I have encountered a nurse who called 911 yet knows nothing about the patient, history, condition, or normal mental status of the patient.  Now that I am on the other side I have a whole new view point on what it is like caring for the elderly.

Not just the elderly, or some elderly, but on any given day I have over twenty elderly patients in my care. 

That is the part that seems ridiculous to me...

and exhausting.

But having to care for so many patients in a nursing home setting is common place.  One nurse is expected to pass medications, sometimes up to four times a shift, to all the patients.  Every single patient is to be assessed.  Treatment must be done, including skin treatments, dressing changes, and other specialty procedures (like IVs or catheterizations).  There is more paperwork than I could ever imagine.  Families to call with every single medication change.  Nurses Aids need delegation and supervision, almost constantly.  Then if something emergent comes up, which I have learned always does, everything else must be dropped and that becomes a priority.

And I have to stop calling them patients.... they are residents at the nursing home, not patients. 

Most days I only get to sit down when I get lunch and on many of those days I usually don't even get a full 30 minute lunch break, because something happens that keeps me with the residents. If I am lucky I can cram in a bathroom break and granola bar after my morning medications are finished and before I start my noon time medications and treatments. 

Usually by then my baby is kicking in protest.

I don't blame her.

Its hard work.  I feel exhausted at the end of the day, physically and mentally.  I've done so many nursing skills, far more than I did working at a drug rehab, and even more than I did in my actual nursing school clinicals.  In the three weeks I've been at the nursing home I've done procedures over and over again that I only did once or twice, if at all, in my entire two years of nursing school.  Also, contrary to popular belief, I've wiped far less behinds in the nursing home than I ever did in the hospital (to the chagrin of my friends who say nurses are just paid to wipe butts.)

For the life of me, though, I can't understand why its an acceptable standard for a nurse in a nursing home to take care of so many doggone residents at once.  It doesn't seem safe to me, but yet its standard practice.  Yes, I can pass all the medications and squeeze in all the treatments, but really I have no time to interact with the residents beyond a couple minutes.  The ease of something serious slipping by me because I am taking care of so many other people at the same time scares me.  I can't be twenty places at once. 

But I do my best!  ...hence why baby goes without a break for four or five hours at a time sometimes.

And I won't fill this post entirely about complaints and concerns of the tribulations of my job, because there are some great things about it!  Honestly, I love almost all of the residents (barring the select few that are truly rude, mean, and verbally abusive).  Their conversations make me laugh and smile and there is nothing I enjoy more than making them smile.  Its so very simple and in just three weeks I am starting to form great bonds with those people.  Seeing and taking care of the same people over and over again is totally foreign and enjoyable to me. 

Also, I should mention that my coworkers are wonderful!  They each face the same obstacles that I do and yet we manage to laugh, help each other out, and enjoy what we do.  Its crazy how that happens. And at the end of a long, hard day, where everything seems to go wrong and nothing is even close to being on schedule they are there to tell me that they had a great day working with me and offer encouragement as my tired body finishes the end of shift paperwork. 

It is weird how things end up...

I am working a job that I thought I'd never consider.  I am doing nursing care to a degree much higher than I expected or ever saw done in a general medical/surgical unit at a hospital.  I am learning about nursing and myself whilst the whole time I am enjoying it!  Granted I am totally exhausted and have swollen feet after it all...

But that's what its really like. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Idea of Heaven

I'm not a hard girl to please, really.  All it takes is a warm, mellow afternoon, a kayak, and some open water.  Throwing in my husband and his fishing rod doesn't hurt either. With those things combined I am Captain Planet there is no better place in the world to be.  

That fact that I am hugely pregnant and look ridiculous waddling around the river's edge in a less than classy outfit didn't bother me.  Where we were there was a thin abutment of land that divided a pond and a river.  Of course I took my time enjoying both bodies of water.

I slowly paddled around the lily pad covered pond watching the hatching bugs scatter, frogs jump, and taking in the blinding reflection of the sun on the still, cool waters.  I gently touch the lily pads, allowing water to flow into them like a saucer filling up.  

For someone who is usually very high strung and constantly moving about from one thing to the next I suddenly found myself slowed.  Inexplicably I just sat and soaked it all in, including the scorching sun rays.  In my new found slowness and patience I watched birds on the shoreline and tried my best at photographing them from my kayak with a new fondness.  With the kayak I could get so close and yet not disturb them.  It was amazing what patience could allow me to see. 

Shawn eventually called me over to the river where he had been fishing for a good while.  Despite us not being side by side the entire time we still felt more together than ever.  We were as happy as could be to be occupying the same piece of nature together yet equally enjoying ourselves. 

We spent some time together, paddling along the river.  Me, snapping photos, and him, trolling for trout.  I dipped my toes in the cool water and let the current run across my feet.  No spa could replicate a feeling such as that.  When we had drifted as far up the river as we could go we both floated back down, akin to Huck Finn on the Mississippi, and at that moment I couldn't agree more that there is no other way to live.  

I ditched my kayak for dry land as Shawn continued to fish, the trout just beginning to rise in a hungry mass for the bugs hatching on the surface.  While he caught one rainbow trout after another, holding them up and shouting to me on the shore, I tiptoed among fields of wildflowers as the sunset.  

When the light dimmed and the ruckus of a wedding reception at a nearby farm rose high in the air we packed everything up and road along the back roads until dark.  With the windows rolled down the smells of summer were high in the air, scents of lilacs and fresh mowed grassed thick enough to choke us, as we peacefully took in the countryside. 

Now that is my idea of heaven.