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Self-Care: Where to Start

I can't even tell you how excited I am to co-host The Circle link-up with the one and only Kiki from In Its Time blog. I'm even more excited than excited because this month the topic is self-care, something I am SUPER passionate about.

How many of you have high stress jobs in your lives? I'm guessing most of you said amen to that question. Whether you're a teacher stressing about lesson plans, a financial somebody dealing with multi-million dollar deals, or a mom trying to make it through the day without pulling her own hair out, I think we can all agree that we all are stressed. Sometimes I wonder if "stress" is the American way. When I graduated college in 2013, I was offered a nursing position at a top pediatric hospital in the region. I was (and still am) blessed to land the job, but quickly realized that being at a top hospital meant seeing the sickest of the sick. Within weeks of starting my job, I began to see what kind of patients I would be taking care of including sick kidney and liver transplants, badly burned patients, and kids with seizures so severe we sometimes had trouble stopping them. It was high stress, high intensity, and the steepest learning curve I'd ever had in my entire life. 

Nurses joked that in their first year of nursing on our floor they would go home after work each night and cry... except they weren't actually joking. I explain all of this to say that I was faced with a high stress job and quickly had to figure out how to take care of myself so that I wouldn't crack under all the pressure. I've written numerous posts on this subject already (that you can check out here), but want to address how to take care of yourself during a season of change. 

I recently announced that I am now a full time graduate student pursing my master's degree to become a family nurse practitioner. I still work full time, my husband works two jobs, and we will likely be moving out of state in the next few months as my husband seeks to attend physician assistant school. It's a lot of change, but I've established a good routine of taking care of myself that is making this transition a lot easier. I'm hoping that you'll be able to learn from my mistakes and my experiences so that you can take care of yourself better.  

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. 
If I could only give you one tip for self-care, this would be it- prioritize taking care of yourself. It's not going to happen if you don't plan it, schedule it, and prioritize it. Even if it's just two hours on the weekend where I relax on the couch scrolling through Facebook, I make sure to schedule some "me" time. The first few times you do this, you'll probably feel guilty and/or antsy that you should be doing something more productive. Let me tell you friend, the two hours you take for yourself will help you be more productive in the following two hours, I promise. Just keep telling yourself that over and over (I do!)

I know for you mamas, this scheduling thing can be tough. It's a lot easier for me to shut my computer off than it is for you to shut your kid off. If you can, try to arrange an hour where Dad watches the baby, Grandma babysits, or you exchange kid-free time with a fellow mom. Whether you use your hour to shop at Target kid-free, take a nice long uninterrupted shower, or sit and paint your nails, an hour alone will make you a better mom. I can't speak to this myself challenge myself since I'm not a mom yet, but my own mom modeled this self-care behavior in her own life and I promise it's worth the effort. 

Develop a few core routines.. 
In one of my posts on self care, I shared about a book that has changed my life called "God in My Everything" by Ken Shigematsu. This book talks about a "rule of life" or routines that ground you spiritually. I have developed a couple core routines for myself, that no matter how much change or stress I'm going through, these stay the same. For example, on my days off I get up and make myself a cup of coffee and sit down and spend about 30 minutes reading my Bible and praying. This half an hour of a slower morning rejuvenates me beyond belief. In fact, I really struggle if we are going somewhere super early that causes me to miss out on this precious time. This is a routine that I've kept for over two years now, and it's really worked to keep me grounded. 

Another core routine I follow is allowing myself about half an hour at night to just spend time with my husband. Some nights it's more than half an hour, but it's always at least that much (we don't have kids- I know this is a luxury). Doing this allows me to feel more rested for the day ahead, and helps me continue to nourish my marriage which is a hugely important part of self-care. 

Whether it's a daily quiet time, a weekly walk, or a monthly date with yourself, establish some routines that are consistent and that can be kept no matter the time of life. Sometimes there is enough change that these routines need to be adapted and that is okay (see the next point about being flexible). The important thing is that you adapt the routine instead of just forgetting or dismissing it. 

Be flexible. 
Perhaps the most vital component of self-care is having an attitude of adaptability. Every week I have a different work and school schedule and as much as I would like to say that every Saturday morning from 8AM-10AM is "me" time, that's simply not realistic with my sort of schedule. I try and take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan out the next few days including blocking out a couple hours of "me time". Flexibility is the biggest asset to you during times of change. No two weeks are exactly alike, and what worked last week may not work this week. It's making self-care a priority and adapting to each week that will allow you to effectively take care of yourself.


As I've developed a self-care routine over the past two years of having an intensely stressful job, I've seen the benefits over and over. I'm not feeling burnt out like many of my other coworkers, I usually feel mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to fulfill the demands of my job, and perhaps most importantly, I feel like I've become a better person through all of it. 

Taking care of yourself is hard, and gets harder when there's change- whether it's a new baby, a move, a new job, or any other circumstance that heads your way. The important thing is to make it a priority, establish some routines, and at the end of the day be flexible with your self-care routine. Don't give up on it friend, I promise the time spent taking care of yourself makes you much more effective in the world. 

What is the hardest part of taking care of yourself? The easiest? 

Share your thoughts on self care in the comments below and then add your own post to the linkup! 

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Project 12: September

{Our second anniversary dinner celebration. Quality photo, I know}

Welcome to Project 12- a fun little monthly post where I get to recap my month and you get to tell me about the highlights of yours! 


1. Hyden, Kentucky for graduate school orientation. Now that my secret is out, I can talk freely about why I was in Kentucky (which I mentioned last month). The program I'm attending is a hybrid program based out of there- hybrid meaning I will visit Kentucky twice (once was in August/September) and then I'll visit again for clinical intensives in about a year. The hybrid part comes in because I am able to do most of the coursework and clinicals in my home community. Talking about my trip to Kentucky really needs to be its own post because it was so amazing. I realize that sounds cheesy but I have never ever left a place after only 72 hours with the sense of community and pride that I felt after leaving Kentucky. It was truly amazing and I still feel like I'm processing it all. 

{This was nicknamed "The Barn" because it used to be one, and it was where  most of our 
classes were held during orientation}.

2. Tucson, Arizona, Guajardo wedding. This was a wedding for the history books y'all. I flew straight from Kentucky to Arizona and was ready to get my wedding on. This wedding was extra special to me because it had my best friend in it, she looked gorgeous, her groom cried harder than she did (awwww), and it was just a beautiful day. I was also the matron  maid of honor (I'm going with maid because matron just sounds so old), and even though I was nervous for the extra responsibility, it was SUCH a privilege to be by her side. Carrying her 20 pound train around for pictures though.... (just kidding Carolyn, I loved it). There was good company, great food, good drinks, and a fun dance... really, what more could you ask for in a wedding??

{The glowing bride}

{I've got the best wedding date around}

4. Basalt, Colorado. My old college roommate and I hopped in a car and drove to the beautiful mountain town of Basalt Colorado. It was a bittersweet weekend as we reunited with old college friends but under tragic circumstances. It was so good to get out of the city and we saw some beautiful fall colors! 

{Those mountains though!}

5. Girl camping in Frisco, Colorado. A friend from work and I spontaneously decided to go camping one weekend so that we could see fall colors. We only went for one night but it was oh so fun and beautiful! The weekend was full of good conversation, beautiful colors, and yummy food (do you notice a trend here?) I am the biggest fan of spontaneous one night camping trips in the mountains! 


1. I FINISHED MY WEDDING SCRAPBOOK. That achievement deserves every single bold and italic letter that it can possibly get. A year ago in my "Fall Goals" post, I challenged myself to "begin my wedding scrapbook". Months and several failed attempts later, I found myself totally overwhelmed with $30 of scrapbooking supplies and no idea where to start. Cue, grad school. I knew that if I did not get this scrapbook done before starting grad school, then it wouldn't happen until I finished which is at least another two years. That means that I'd be close to my 5 year wedding anniversary without having printed a single wedding picture. That definitely didn't sit right with me so I forced myself to buck up and get to work. 

{The front cover!}

Now, here's the real truth. I hate scrapbooking and only did it because I like the finished project. I LOVE how it turned out, but I still hate scrapbooking. I truly feel like I spent all of September working on this project. If you'll notice, Alex and I didn't go on very many dates this past month and it was because I would be trying to finish a page or two of the scrapbook and then it would be too late to go anywhere. He was totally understanding about it, but it definitely cut down on the quality time we had together before school started. I am so thrilled that it's done though- it's a huge relief and I've had a blast showing it to family and friends. I eventually hope to put it on the blog, but I've gotta show a few more people in person first :) (Thanks for all of you who encouraged me to keep at it. Amanda, thanks for all the help!) 

2. Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary. Our second wedding anniversary was this month and you can read the letter I wrote to Alex here. We both thankfully had the day off from work and were able to spend it together. We took an early morning walk in a park by our house and sat by some fountains while we reminisced over the past couple of years. We then enjoyed breakfast together followed by one of our favorite dates- walking around at Costco and Ikea. We enjoyed Panda Express for lunch, went home and napped and played some games and finished off the day with endless shrimp at Red Lobster. If it sounds like all we did all day was eat, well, you're kind of right. It was a simple day full of delicious food and I wouldn't have it any other way.  

{The view on our morning stroll}

{You haven't had a cinnamon roll until you've had this one from Denver Biscuit Company.
 This should be enough reason for you to come visit me in Colorado. I'll be waiting.}

3. I ate the biggest pizza I think I've ever seen. But really, check it out! In case you're wondering, it's some sort of stuffed take and bake madness from Papa Murphy's. And our friends helped us eat it. 

{It's more like a pizza-calzone or pazone if you will}


There are none to tell you about because I literally did my scrapbook every.single.waking.hour.


This surprise wedding dance will always and forever be my favorite. 

One of the most controversial things I've ever posted, but something I felt/feel super strongly about. 

This study only reinforces what I've been telling Alex {and anyone else who I can get to listen} this whole time. 

And finally, need a laugh? For some reason, this video cracked me up

P.S. Before I sign off, I just wanted to let you know that I'm co-hosting The Circle this month with Kiki from In Its Time Blog. If you guys have never joined in, either with a post of your own or by reading the posts, you are seriously missing out. Also, if you don't know Kiki you really need to. She is encouraging, great at creating community, and one of the greatest people I've met in the blog world. This month our topic is self-care- how do you take care of yourself and make sure that you don't get stressed out? Blog? Do mani-pedis? Go run? All of the above? It's a topic I'm super passionate about so I hope you'll make your list and join us on Wednesday October 21st! 

How was your September? 

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Chasing a Dream - The Announcement

I still remember where I was when I decided I was going to become a family nurse practitioner. I was 15 years old and sitting in my high school counselor's office looking through a book called "100 Career Ideas". Seems like a totally ridiculous way to find your life's calling right? 

Well, it was that book that introduced me to the career of a nurse practitioner but it was the long line of nurses in my family that first inspired me to pursue nursing in the first place. My Grandma was a nurse for over 40 years and as a teenager I was partially responsible for taking her to her doctors' appointments. Almost every place we went, I heard "Oh that's Blanche?? {My grandma's name} She was a GREAT nurse." These were people that she had worked with decades before that still remembered her. I don't know about you, but that is the kind of legacy I can only hope to leave. 

That book in the counseling office that day introduced me to a whole other side of nursing that I had no idea even existed. As I read more and more about the opportunities that nurse practitioners have, I decided that that's what I wanted to do. 

That dream started 9 years ago and it's a dream that has stayed in my heart ever since. At the beginning of this year, I had a conversation with one of my best friends that would change my life. You see, the timing of me going to graduate school didn't seem to be right; Alex was still finishing up his radiology technologist degree and looking at applying to graduate school himself in the near future. 

10 months, several conversations, a lot of research, and many prayers later, I am thrilled to announce that today is my first day of graduate school. The decision was not made lightly and it's a journey that will take me somewhere between two and three years to complete. Not all of the pieces make sense (yet), but I/we are going into this journey excited and ready to take it on. There have been several specific events over the past few months that have confirmed our decision to have me head back to school, and that in itself is super comforting. 

I hope to write a couple of posts in the near future that talk in more detail about how Alex and I approached making this decision as it was one of the more difficult we've had to make as a couple. I'm not sure what the future of this blog will look like with graduate school added on top of work but for now my goal is to keep it around, with the goal of posting once a week. I hope you have a great Monday and I'm off to start on homework!

{Linking up with Ember Grey and Grateful Heart Monday}

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5 Best Things to Buy at the Dollar Store

The husband and I have lived off a single income for the past couple of years. The high cost of living in Colorado (and in general!) has really forced us to be savvy with our spending and saving. One of the ways we save money is by purchasing certain things at the dollar store. 

I will be the first to tell you that not everything at the dollar store is a good deal. We bought foil there recently and you could hardly pull it out of the box without it tearing- no bueno. However, there are a handful of items that we regularly purchase there that are better deals than the grocery store. Check out the list below and see if there are any you would add! 

1. Greeting Cards 
I'll be honest with you- we are dollar card kind of people. I love the cute cards that I find at Walmart and Target but I just can't justify paying $4 for a piece of cardstock! The dollar card sections at these major retailers is usually pretty sad, so I prefer to shop at the dollar store. 

In my once a month run to the dollar store I try to pick up cards for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and any other festivities that might be coming up in the next month. A lot of the cards are even 50 cents and I think they have a pretty good selection. I can get 5-10 cards for the price of one- now that's a deal! 

2. Gift bags/tissue paper 
I love giving cute gifts but can't justify paying an extra $5-10 in gift bags/tissue paper at the grocery store. The dollar store usually has a wide variety of gift bags and paper that works great and is super cute. 

Along those same lines, I have bought wrapping paper at the dollar store and decided that it can be a better deal elsewhere. The quality of the wrapping paper isn't bad, but there wasn't much of it on a roll, so if you can find bigger rolls on sale somewhere that will usually be the better deal. 

3. Helium balloons
This is where I feel like I've really hit the jackpot on deals. If you go to the grocery store, you'll pay at least $4 for an inflated helium balloon. Many dollar stores have a wide variety of helium balloons and they're all only $1! I get Alex balloons a lot (I consider it the man version of flowers), and most of them have come from the dollar store. I've gotten balloons for birthdays, Valentine's Day, anniversaries, and coming home parties; it's so fun and I feel like I'm getting an awesome deal! 

4. Plastic ziplock bags 
We use plastic ziploc baggies sparingly because they're expensive. We try to instead put things in reusable containers and plastic wrap or foil. I have found a brand of baggies at the dollar store that is 50 for a dollar. This is wayyyy cheaper than anywhere else I've looked, and the box of 50 goes a long way in our house! 

5. Canned goods 
Many times canned goods are over a dollar at major retailers. Things like Rotel, canned fruit, and canned chili are well over a dollar. However, at the dollar store they're (guess) only a buck. Even though they may only be a little over a dollar (i.e. $1.32) at the grocery store, add that up for several cans of goods and it adds up to several dollars worth! Canned goods can vary from store to store, so browse their selection and pick up what you can before you head to the grocery store! 


Depending on the trip I'll pick up other things at our dollar store including paper goods, cleaning supplies, and candy. The five above are the things that I regularly purchase. If you don't have a dollar store close to you, driving 20 miles out of the way probably won't be worth the savings, but if there's one close to you stop by and check it out sometime! I think you'll be surprised at the deals you find! 

Do you shop at the dollar store? What other deals have you found? 

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Project 12: August

So I'm not sure how it happened, but it's already over HALFWAY through September and I'm just now sitting down to write the recap of August. I really just can't figure it out how that happened! 

1. Taylor Park, Colorado. Every year Alex's family takes a trip to Taylor Park- a big reservoir and surrounding area that's a few hours outside of Denver. There are a lot of trails to dirtbike, the reservoir to fish/boat in, and just spectacular beauty to enjoy. 

{the view from the reservoir... gorgeous or what??}

We were able to join his family for this trip and it was a great time. I actually enjoyed dirtbiking for the first time, relaxed on a boat trip out on the reservoir, ate delicious comfort food, and played games. I could say a lot more but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. 

2. Blue Pan Pizza & Little Man Ice Cream. 
If you are in the Denver area, you NEED to try BOTH of these places. If you're not in the Denver area, a promise of dinner and dessert at these places is more than enough to make it worth a trip to visit me!

{It just had the cutest little decorations!}

Blue Pan Pizza is famous for Detroit style pizza. You didn't know there was such a style did you? (Or am I the only culturally ignorant pizza consumer?) If you're like me and don't know what Detroit style pizza is like, it's a square pizza that's cooked in deep dish and the main thing you need to know is that the cheese gets carmelized around the edges. Need I say more? 


Little Man Ice Cream is famous here in Denver and me and the husband just got around to trying it out. We waited 45 minutes in line, and that isn't atypical. I got a cup of salted caramel pecan amazingness and I'm not going to write anymore because that should be enough to convince you to come try it for yourself. If you need further persuasion let's just say that they offer free swing dancing lessons on Saturday nights and everyone comes and dances outside on their cute little patio (see picture below). It's just the most fun place ever!  

{How cute is this place?? The milk jug looking thing is the actual ice cream shop!}

2. All you can eat sushi lunch date. 
Alex had been wanting to do all you can eat sushi for awhile so I finally agreed to go with him after he offered to treat me out of his allowance money. I was reluctant for a long time for very good reason. If you've never been to all you can eat sushi (usually offered during the lunch hour), there's one thing you need to know- whatever you don't finish you pay FULL price for on top of the fee you're already paying (usually around $15-20 per person). This means that you have to be extremely careful with your ordering so that you don't land up with a whopping bill. 

My first experience with all you can eat sushi was going with my husband (then boyfriend), his brother, and their friend. Me + 3 guys who thought they had unlimited stomach space turned out to be a horrible combination. They ordered wayyyyyy more than we could finish so we landed up sneaking some rolls to the table of military guys next to us, and I may or may not have taken some rolls in my purse to the restroom to flush them down the toilet. I didn't eat sushi for a year after that. 

Now you'll understand my hesitation. Anyway, this time it was only Alex and I and we ordered our sushi carefully and enjoyed ourselves. But consider yourself warned if you ever try all you can eat sushi. 

3. The Piano Guys Concert 
This was a gift to Alex and I from my in-laws and can I just tell you it was uhhhh-mazing! It was at Red Rocks Amphitheater which is one of the top concert venues in the world, it was a beautifully warm night, and they happened to be filming the concert that night for a DVD so everyone was extra loud. 

Their shows are the perfect combination of beautiful music and stunning graphics with a good dose of comedy thrown in. If you don't know who these guys even are, check out The Piano Guys website. If you ever have a chance to see them in concert GO GO GO! 

{Um... HOW COOL is that?!}

4. Travel to Kentucky. 
So this trip is related to my dream as a 15 year old coming true. Last month I said that I would reveal the dream and its fulfillment in September, but certain things that are beyond our control are making me wait about another month to share the news. I'm sorry to keep y'all hanging! Spoiler Alert {because my husband thinks everyone is going to be let down}: I am NOT PREGNANT. 


1. My brother and his girlfriend came and stayed about a week with us. I love having people over, and this really was just the best kind of company. We went Water World (our local water park), Elitch Gardens (our local amusement park), and the local county fair rodeo. 

{We look like the rodeo-going crowd don't we?}

{Post water park excitement}

{My brother and I}

{Aren't they just the cutest?? I'm totally a creeper}

We taught my brother's girlfriend how to drive stick shift (Rose, you did so good!), played hours worth of spades, and laughed at Youtube videos. It was time together with my people and I enjoyed 

2. A few days after my brother and his girlfriend left, my other brother came into town and spent the night at our place. It was good brother-sister bonding time, AND he played his guitar for me. Win win if you ask me. 



She's the Man. I made Alex watch this with me and he didn't like it nearly as much as I do. Growing up in a house of boys and with all boy cousins except for one, I feel like I can relate to this movie. I was always trying to prove that I could hang with the guys so I find it pretty entertaining. Apparently there's a similar movie put out by Disney channel that is the same story line but instead of soccer the girl dirtbikes... Alex likes that version better. Pfffff.....


Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I've been hearing for years (literally) that this book is excellent. It has accompanied me on many trips but always got pushed to the bottom of the pile and never got read. Well I can finally say that I read it and it lived up to the hype. 

I finished the book on a plane and thank God the man sitting next to me was asleep drunk (not kidding), because I was quite literally sobbing as I finished the last pages. It's a beautiful story of redemption, forgiveness, and no other book has brought me to such tears. That being said, the story is heart wrenching and I found it hard to read at times because it was so painful. It won't be on my list of read-agains (not many books are on that list), but I'm so glad I finally read it and would absolutely recommend it to anyone. 


One pot spicy thai noodles is our most recent favorite dinner dish. I am all about things in one pot and this is a winner. But don't be like my husband and use the maximum amount of sriracha sauce AND chili peppers unless you want to die. The night we ate it, I ran with tears streaming down my face and ripped open the refrigerator door only to discover that we had no milk. "Alex, did you drink all the milk?!" Alex calmly replies, "Yeah, there was only a little bit". Me- "A LITTLE BIT IS ALL I NEED." I finished my dinner in misery. The next day the spice had calmed down and it was more enjoyable. I am on an asian kick lately so if you have any asian recipes send them my way! 

This letter written to the girl who wants to adopt (that's me).

One of my previous youth group leaders wrote about the dreaded t-shirt drawer . You know, the one that you and your husband either ignore or fight about. I loved her post because one, it made me feel better that I'm not the only wife that has fought about something as stupid as how to fold a t-shirt, and two, gave me some really concrete insight and wisdom on communication in marriage. 

How was your August? Or do you even remember it because it's almost October? Do you have any good asian food recipes to share with me?? 

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Dear Love,

Dear Love,

Happy two year anniversary! It feels like it's been the quickest and longest two years of our lives and I think you'll agree. That rainy morning on September 14, 2013 seems like decades ago, yet I'm still trying to get used to having bling on my left hand. 

Marrying you was and is the best decision of my life, not because it's been easy, but because you've helped shape me into a better person. Being united with you has really shown me what a sinner I am- how selfish, impatient, and unforgiving my heart really can be. Over the past two years my eyes have been opened to how much grace I really need every single day

You have seen me at my worst- crying over the kitchen sink over our most recent argument, and you have seen me at my best- relaxing on the beach during our cruise. And the amazing thing is, is that your love has stayed the same through it all. It has stayed steady, unwavering, and full of forgiveness and grace. 

Saying "I do" wearing that white dress meant that I was saying yes to it all. Yes to the struggles, yes to the fights, yes to the ugly. But it also meant that I was saying yes to the early morning cuddles, the thousand and one shared Sonic shakes, and the side cramp laughter late at night.  

You're my best friend and I can't imagine coming home to anyone else but you after a long 14 hour shift. I am so thankful that we got married at an age that is often frowned upon. Because we got married young, I am being forced to become a better person sooner in my life rather than later. I am learning to to be more selfless, more forgiving, and truly understand that my relationship with you is directly related to the strength of my spiritual walk with Jesus. 

It's been two years and I can't wait for the next fifty. I can't help but smile imagining our future homes, our future kids, and of course our future socially unacceptable dinner conversations. In the meantime, I'll enjoy our Youtube date nights, our hikes in beautiful Colorado, our bike rides that you still have to drag me on, and our unplanned trips to Costco just to walk around.

Thanks for being my supporter, my encourager, and my protector as I navigate this adult world and figure out how to be a better wife, daughter, sister, and friend. 


Your wifey 

How My Dad Made Me the Coolest Kid in School

So, I didn’t exactly hang out with the cool kids in high school. And by that mean I was pretty much cooler than they were a loser. My big things were school, choir, and even though I played sports, I got disqualified from the cool crowd once they found out I didn’t drink.
Oh, and a few other distinct events definitely pushed me more to the you’re-kind-of-not-that-cool bracket. Let me tell you the story of  one of the events that destined me to the not-so-cool realm.

In high school I lived in the boonies. And by boonies I mean 35 miles outside of already-small-town-Colorado. Since we lived so far out of town, I got dropped off and picked up at school every single day… from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. Riding with my dad to school sure beat the school bus… but when you’re a high school senior? Only losers don’t have their own cars (that was me).

One sunny day in April (it really was a sunny day in April) I was waiting for my Dad to pick me up at the high school. I was waiting with all the other uncool kids that still had to wait for their rides as well. Did I mention that I was a senior and almost everyone else I was waiting with was a freshman or sophomore? That just made it an even more enjoyable experience. I was texting on my phone when I looked up and saw a dump truck.

I watched as it pulled up to the curb wondering why on earth a dump truck would be pulling into my high school. The fact that it looked like my Dad’s dump truck made me even more fearful as to why exactly it was pulling in front of my school. The gigantic white and blue dump truck pulled to a stop in front of me, the window rolled down… and my Dad pops his head out the window and yells,

“Sarah, hop in!”

When I realized that it was indeed my Dad. In his dump truck. Picking me up from school. As a senior—I  considered running inside and pretending that he had yelled at one of the other two million Sarahs that attended my school. But then I realized that him sitting in the dump truck would only attract more attention than it already had.

So, I tucked my head down, walked quickly across the concrete, opened the door, and hoisted myself up while simultaneously ducking my head into my lap and yelling at my dad to “Go, go go!”

My dad thought it was the funniest thing he’d seen all day, and after we left the parking lot I started laughing too—about just how ridiculous it all really was.

I probably gained a few loser points that day, but my friends and family still laugh about it, and really…

How many people can say they’ve been picked up from school in a dump truck?! {The picture above is the actual dump truck that picked me up- my Dad still owns it}

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5 Stages of a Night Shift

At my hospital, nurses are required to rotate every two months between day shifts (7am-7pm) and night shift (7pm-7am), until you build up enough seniority to get a position where you're straight days (if you want straight night shift they usually let you hop on that train pretty quickly). 

I'm one of the crazies that still rotates my schedule and I just finished nine weeks of night shift. To a lot of the outside world, night shift seems like such a weird thing- like we're really awake all night? For all of you who have never had the privilege of working while the rest of the world sleeps, I thought I would walk you through the 5 shifts a night shift and give you a little better idea of what it's like. 

Stage 1- I feel good! (7pm-10pm)
Unlike waking up for a day shift (usually somewhere between 5-6am), you usually wake up for a night shift a lot earlier (between 3-4pm). This means that you have a couple hours at home to relax, work out, and eat dinner. You also catch up on the texts and/or calls you received during the day, and try to prepare yourself for the night ahead. 

I get to work around 7pm hoping for a good night ahead. My families are usually awake so I'm usually running around trying to get all my tasks done before the kids start to fall asleep. That usually takes me till 10 or 11pm when I enter the second stage of night shift. 

Stage 2- Denial, I'm not tired I just think I am (10pm-12am)
After finishing my first round of tasks, I'll sit down to chart and this is when I get my first wave of being tired. But at this point, I'm not even halfway through my shift so I just tell myself "you're not tired, you just think you are; Sarah, you slept all day you're not tired. Most high schoolers and college kids are still up right now! Please girl." I'll usually get a snack, a Sprite, or some fresh ice water to get me through my initial wave of sleepiness. 

Stage 3- Give me all the food, NOW (12am-3am)
If you've never worked a night shift, you can't know the intense cravings and the utter lack of self control that accompanies working odd hours. I can be a pretty self-controlled person, but once I'm at work on a night shift I'll eat anything and everything without a second thought. 

Oh you're offering me nachos? Great, I'll have some. Oh there's leftover chocolate from day shift? Don't mind me while I finish it all off. Oh I brought a salad and fruit for lunch? Sounds gross, I'm going to get a BLT at the cafeteria. I will eat anything and everything during a night shift and won't regret it until several hours later when I realize that yes, I did indeed eat three cupcakes. It probably doesn't help that our cafeteria lady at night serves HUGE portions of all things fried and delicious for ridiculously good prices. 

Of course, you can swing the other way in this stage. Your body can be feeling really whacked out by being awake and you'll get super nauseous and feel lousy. This has happened to me too, but not as much as the intense cravings I get for fried pickles.

Somewhere in this time frame most nurses will take their lunch break which is weird to a lot of people. I usually go in an empty conference room and eat my lunch away from the noise of the unit because at this point I'm feeling "beeped" out. A lot of times I'll lay on the floor for 10-15 minutes because my body at this point is tired of sitting up when it should be laying down. 

Stage 4- I'm going to fall asleep standing up (3am-5am)
This is where the struggle begins. I've affectionately named 3am as "the darkest hour" because that's when I get really sleepy and just want to go home. If you've never almost fallen asleep standing up, try a night shift and you will. During these couple hours it's not uncommon to look over at your coworkers and see them dozing off as they chart away. 

This time of night is also when you'll bond the most with your coworkers because you'll talk about anything and everything to keep you awake. If you're trying to do anything productive at this point, it's a lost cause because you can hardly remember your own name. 

Stage 5- Get me out of here NOW (5am-till you go home). 
This can be the longest two hours of the night  your life. It becomes a struggle to get up and go give your last minute medications, draw your final labs, and chart your final things. 15 minutes in this stage will seem to take two hours as you wait for the sun to rise and your coworkers to arrive and relieve you. 

Once you hit 7am and you're handing off your assignment to the next nurse, you'll find yourself fuzzy and only thinking about how long it's going to take you to get into your bed. 

When you're finally released, you practically run through the hospital doors, slap yourself silly (literally) to stay awake on the drive home, maybe eat breakfast, and collapse into your bed. 

And let me tell you, there is no sweeter feeling than climbing into bed after a night shift. Think of the best feeling you've ever felt- that doesn't compare to bed after a night shift (I'm not even exaggerating one bit). 


There you have it- the five stages of working a night shift. There's a whole other side of night shift that comes when you're trying to sleep during the day but that'll be a post for another time. Some people hate night shift, some people love it, and some people (like me) are in between and can't decide how they feel about it. 

Have you ever worked night shift? Do you think you would like it? 

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