Shocked, Excited, and Totally Freaking Out!

So yesterday I got some pretty big news.  I received a packet from UAB stating I had been accepted into the graduate school program for neonatal nursing.  I have to admit, I really haven’t been thinking a whole lot about it or stressing at all cause I felt kind of indifferent either way.  If I didn’t get accepted, I was ok with that cause in all honesty, I absolutely love my job right now and I can’t see myself wanting anything different.  But at the same time, I know I can do this if I really put my heart and soul into it.  And it was either get back to school or start having babies 😉  I know plenty of people who wish I’d just do the latter!!  But since neither Greg or I are 100% ready for kids yet, it made sense to go ahead and give grad school a try.

And the funny thing is it was probably the least stressful big decision I’ve ever made.  When I finally made up my mind to give it a shot, I did my application (which yes, that took at least a month to finish before I felt 100% sure I was done with it), but  then I just sat back and waited.  Not that I really could have done anything else besides that, but I just felt like if this is what God had planned for me then He would make it happen.  And He very easily could have shut that door, and I can honestly say I would have been perfectly happy.  But He didn’t, so He must know something I don’t.  God knows my strengths and I’m trusting He will help me through it.  Because I know it won’t be easy.  Nursing school in undergrad wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t trying to work a full-time job at the same time.  That’s really the part I dread.  I better have fun this summer cause once grad school starts, I’m gonna hit the ground running for 2 1/2 years…at best!

So the next few steps seem a little tedious.  I have to make sure I sign all these forms, submit all my medical records, register for a background check and drug screen test.  And then I have student orientation to attend in June.  It’s the little stuff like that that stresses me out the most!  I know one thing, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  One of the requirements for the neonatal program is having at least 2 years experience in a level 3 NICU.  And if you really get technical, my unit is not really a level 3.  We are the step-down unit from the NICU.  However, when the NICU is short-staffed, we get reallocated to work on their unit from time to time.  So I have worked on the unit, but even then, I’m not trained to run codes or go to pre-term and high-risk deliveries.  And I halfway expected the admissions board to recognize that and easily say that I didn’t qualify for the program.  But apparently not.  So over the next few months I’m going to have to teach myself some of those things that otherwise would come naturally had I actually worked on a level 3 unit.  I need to learn all the code drugs, their common doses and uses, resuscitation (which I’m certified for neonatal resuscitation, but I rarely have to actually put it into practice), and common neonatal diagnoses.  So although classes won’t start until the end of August, I’ll be doing some pre-school studying.  How fun, right?  :/

So yes I’m excited but I’m also very nervous.  I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about it.  But I’m going for it and just saying a prayer all along the way!  And if anyone reading this ever thinks about me, just say a little prayer for me too  😉

Lake Day Fun

Yesterday after church Greg and I took all the dogs down to the lake where my mom and Dwayne had been camping for the weekend.  The weather was nice so they had invited us to come join them at the lake.  To add to the fun, we asked our friends John and Leah if they wanted to join us.  So they did and they had their dog Josie with them.  We arrived around mid-afternoon and first we just wandered around the property taking John and Leah around to see the area.  We walked over to the dam to check that area out, and of course the dogs were loving running around together!  Then we just hung around on the dock, throwing the ball with the dogs, watching them swim, and enjoying the sunshine.  The boys decided to go fishing for a while, so mom, Leah and I hung out on the dock.  The weather was great!  Not hot, but perfectly sunny and warm.  And it’s so quiet and peaceful at the lake.

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We had some fun tossing the ball just barely off the edge of the dock.  Jack and Josie were hilarious trying to reach down and grab it.  Jack doesn’t like jumping in to get it if it’s just right in front of him (I guess he realizes it seems pointless to waste all that energy when it’s just right there). But yet he can’t reach it!  So they just whine and stretch and hover over it, and it DRIVES THEM CRAZY!!  But it’s too funny for us!! 😉  Josie finally would jump in right on top of it to get it!Apr21-lake (17) Apr21-lake (14) Apr21-lake (18)Apr21-lake (23) Apr21-lake (20)Apr21-lake (16)

Apr21-lake (27) Apr21-lake (33) Apr21-lake (36) Apr21-lake (37) Apr21-lake (44) Apr21-lake (45)Apr21-lake (39)We took a break for dinner before it started getting dark.  We grilled hamburgers and enjoyed dinner on the picnic table.  Then Leah and I got to go out with the boys to fish just a little bit longer.  But no luck this time.  Such a fun day though!!  So glad to spend it with family and friends 🙂

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Tulips Are My Favorite

I love a lot of flowers, but tulips are probably one of my favorites.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I just think they are so pretty.  And maybe part of the reason I love them so much is they are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring.  After a long, cold, bland winter, tulips are often some of the first flowers you see peeking up through the ground as the weather begins to warm up.  You know spring is here when you see tulips and daffodils popping up everywhere.

Typically you plant tulip bulbs in the winter before the ground freezes and then they pop up in the spring.  Well, I had a bundle of bulbs that I never got around to planting so I kept them in the fridge all winter.  Then sometime in late February I planted them in the ground and hoped they would still bloom.  And luckily they had no trouble!  They just bloomed a few weeks after most other tulips I saw around town.  Here are my tulip babies as they started breaking through the surface.apr1-tulipsAnd now they are in full bloom and I love them!  I’m hoping they stay this way for a while. 🙂

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the Construction Chronicles- So close…

Yet so far!  Ugh.  I cannot even begin to explain the patience we have had to have to endure this bathroom renovation.  It has been baby steps the whole way!!  But finally, all that’s left is just a few quick installations and we are done!  The plumber came Friday to install the shower faucets, sink and toilet.  Although, our contractor has our toilet and sink faucet.  So, basically the plumber just installed the shower faucet.  And assuming our contractor drops off the toilet at our house tomorrow, we will just install it ourselves to save a little money.

The painter also came this week.  We picked some gray tones out at Lowe’s and decided on “Voyage” by Valspar.  But once it was on the walls and dried, it seemed to have a lavender hue to it.  So Thursday evening I went back to Lowe’s and got a quart of “Gravity” by Valspar.  It looks much better.  It blends well with the tiles and keeps the room nice and light.

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So although we’re days shy of 1 month in this process, here’s where we are…

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So fingers are crossed that our toilet and sink faucet show up at our house tomorrow so we can get them installed.  Then just a few more tiny details, like trim, light fixtures installing the medicine cabinet and hopefully this project will be DONE.  I am more than ready!

Posted in DIY

the Construction Chronicles- Tile work

Our tile guy showed up bright and early at 8am this morning to begin working on tiling the tub surround.  He was at our house last Thursday laying the tile on the floor, which looks great by the way! Apr16-bath (3)But he also started working on the tub surround last Thursday.  Well, I was in Atlanta with my mom at Scott Antiques market so the tile guy was just at the house working on tile while Greg just came and went checking in on him between meetings.  Well I get a phone call from our contractor and he said the tiles seem to be pretty extreme in their coloring, and he and the tile guy decided it might be best to stop installing tile until we could take a look at them all that night.  We had chosen a natural stone marble tile from Lowes, so the tiles were white with gray veining.  Well apparently, some boxes have mostly white tiles and some have mostly gray tiles, or a mixture of the 2.  I got this picture message sent to my phone from the tile guy and I immediately was grateful they decided to stop!  As you can tell, there were extremes of dark gray and white tiles.Apr11-tileSo over the course of Thursday night and Monday morning (when we got more tiles), I pulled every single tile out of the boxes and laid them all out on the ground and tried pulling out some of the extreme gray ones.  The hard part though was if we wanted to stick with mostly all white tiles, we would have had to order tiles from all over the state of Alabama, I’m sure.  We had already bought out the Homewood, Hoover, and Leed’s Lowes supply and our contractor drove to Gadsden for the remaining 25 boxes or so that we needed.  So I decided to try to use some of the gray ones and just blend them in better (although we did still pull out a decent amount of really dark gray ones).  Here’s how they all looked laying out on our floor.

Apr11-tile (2)So then today, the tile guy returned and starting working on the surround again.  It’s definitely darker tone than we thought we would have, but like I said, I don’t think we could have gotten enough tiles to only use white ones.  And we only have 1 single light bulb shining in the bathroom right now, so I’m also hoping when the other light fixture gets reinstalled, it will help brighten up the whole room.  (Can you tell I’m trying to convince myself that I love it?).  I do like it, don’t get me wrong.  It’s a MUCH better improvement from what we had in there.  I really shouldn’t complain.  Hopefully when everything else get’s finished it’ll grow on me.

So here we are….  floor and wall tiles are in place!  They will come do the grout tomorrow.Apr16-bath (1) Apr16-bath (2) Apr16-bath (4) Apr16-bath (5)

Posted in DIY

Gardening kickoff

Today I decided it was time to get the garden going again for this year.  For the most part I think I’ll do much of the same things as last year, but I did want to try at least one thing new this year.  I read about growing onions and garlic over the winter, but unfortunately now is not the time to plant garlic, from what I understand.  Apparently you plant that in the fall and then it sprouts in the spring. But onions do well this time of year.  So I decided to start planting those today.  Although, I’m a little worried I actually waited too late even for onions.  I read you can start planting them as early as 30 days before the last frost of the year, and then one chart said Mar 15 is the cutoff date for Alabama.  But the garden shops are still selling onion bulbs right now, so it was worth a shot.  For $3.75 for a bundle of about 30 onion bulbs I haven’t broken the bank if they don’t grow.Apr13-garden (4)So I headed out to the garden to investigate where to plant my onion babies.  I bought Georgia sweet onions which are “short-day” growers.  So they don’t need sun all day long, but ideally at least 6 hours of sunlight.  Since I’ll be planting tomatoes and peppers in the raised bed again soon, I left that area open.  And the far side of the garden will get cantaloup and watermelons in another month or so (and it’s the sunniest spot of the garden.)  So then I have an area next to the raised bed that I never planted anything in last year because it doesn’t get the best sunlight (the pear tree blocks all morning sun).  But I noticed today that by 1:30pm. sunlight was starting to hit this section, so I decided to make it home for my little onion patch.Apr13-garden (5)So I pulled back the weed block, got my garden rake and began tilling the soil.  Once I loosened it up really nicely, I went and filled the wheelbarrow up with a few shovel-fulls of compost from my compost bin.  I add kitchen goodies to it from time to time throughout the year, so it’s nice when I have it ready to use in the springtime.  You can read how I made it HERE.  Then I also had some organic potting soil that I bought last summer and never used, so I added that to my compost as well.  Then I mixed all that good soil in with the dirt in the garden.Apr13-garden (8) Apr13-garden (12) Apr13-garden (14)Apr13-garden (17)As you can see in the picture above, there’s a lot more richness to the compost dirt as opposed to the dirt from the garden.  But even the garden dirt had some good worms in it which is always a good sign.  Once the dirt was mixed, I smoothed it out and then made two raised rows.  Having never grown onions before, I searched for whatever tips I could find and one gardening website recommended these rows.Apr13-garden (18) Apr13-garden (20)But since you plant onions just barely below the surface, you have to pack the soil down to help hold them in place.  So you’ll see in the pictures that the row on the left is already packed down and the one on the right is not.  Then I just laid out my bulbs to make sure I had room, and then I planted them into the ground.  They are spaced about 4 inches apart and the rows are about 1 ft apart.  The bulb itself is buried so that only about 1/3 of the bulb is in the ground, and the roots are totally underground.  Although on some of the smaller ones it was hard to really tell where the top of the bulb started, since they weren’t quite as round as some of the bigger ones.Apr13-garden (23) Apr13-garden (24) Apr13-garden (27) Apr13-garden (28)Now we just wait and see how they grow.  I need to read again on what the time frame for harvesting these babies is.  Not sure if I should be checking on them in a few weeks or a month or so.  But at least they’re in the ground and ready to grow!

 

Play Ball

Last night after I got off work, Greg and I went to a Baron’s baseball game with our Sunday school class.  This week kicked out their first games in the new stadium, which is now located downtown.  They used to play at the Hoover Met but they have moved downtown to their own stadium and it is beautiful!  We had a really good time.  The stadium looks great, there was a good crowd, weather was perfect, all in all it was a great night!

Apr12-Barons (1) Apr12-Barons (3)Apr12-Barons (4)The great part for me is, if I do have to work on a day we choose to attend a game, the new stadium is literally only about 3 blocks north of my building.  You can see the Women and Infant’s Center from the stadium.  So I can easily hop over from work and meet up with friends and enjoy the game.  And although it’s downtown, and I know a lot of people were concerned with the safety of the area, Greg and I commented on the walk back to the car that we only felt unsafe for about 5 seconds (which we did happen to park in the farthest lot from the stadium).  But there were police officers posted at every crosswalk and the area is very well lit.  Granted I probably wouldn’t go walking around by myself down there, but if you’re in a group of people or have a man to hold onto, I would say you are fine.  And hopefully more businesses will start moving into the area and help create a less downtown deserted feel.  Railroad park is right next door to the stadium, and Good People Brewery is right across the street.  Which, speaking of Good People, I had never been there before so Greg and I scoped it out on our way out of the stadium and it is VERY cool.  They are definitely going to see a MAJOR boost in sales thanks to the stadium being right across the street.

But anyways, back to the game.  So we met up with a few couples from our Sunday school class and had great seats just behind home plate.  It was a good game. The Barons won and there were fireworks at the end.  I’m excited to attend more games in the future and hope the business there continues to thrive.

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the Construction Chronicles- Prepped and Ready

Quick post.  The construction guys made some more progress in the bathroom today.  They were here working at 9am (hallelujah) and stayed until 3pm.  They finished mudding and sanding all the sheetrock, sprayed it with some moisture barrier stuff and primed the walls and ceilings for paint.  So we went from having a bright green bathroom to an all white bathroom.  And boy does it feel bigger already. 🙂

Apr1-bath (4)-001 Apr10- bath (2)-001 Apr10- bath (3)-001Tomorrow, the goal is to start laying tile.  Hopefully the bad weather we’re predicted won’t keep the guys from working.  Excited to see how it looks tomorrow!  Here’s a sneak peek though 😉

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Posted in DIY

Handyman

Greg was quite the handyman today.  So along with our bathroom renovations, which are by the way…taking FOR-FREAKIN-EVER, we have started renovations turning an outdoor storage closet into a laundry room. You can read details on those plans here.  So we already cleared the shelves out last weekend.  Then yesterday Greg got to work removing the walls.  So in two weekends we went from this…Mar30-shedcloset (8)to this…

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Luckily two buddies stopped by to lend a hand.  The three of them were knocking out those black walls and taking out the remainder of shelves and bench.  And then they hauled it off.  That’s what they were doing while I was tackling weeds!

Then today after church, Greg was back to work.  The next step was building up the floor.  Right now the “floor” is level with the ground outside.  But to function as a laundry room off the dining room we have to raise it level with the house.  Which, luckily there are cinder blocks that are already in place to support a floor (because the wall shared with the dining room is already set-up this way).

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So Greg setup shop, and began building the framework for the floor.  We got all our measurements and Greg went to Lowe’s to get the appropriate lumber.  We needed boards to frame out the perimeter, and then boards to make the joists.  He also got brackets to support  the floorboards.Apr7-laundryroom (2)

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Then we had to determine the spacing needed for the floor joists.  We decided to place the 12 inches apart, center to center of each board.  (Now that I’m looking info up on the computer, I find that you can space them up to 16 inches apart).  Oh well, we have more support, I suppose 😉  The boards themselves are 2×8.  We brought the frame board out to the work station and Greg screwed in the brackets at the appropriate spacing.Apr7-laundryroom (6)

Apr7-laundryroom (7) Apr7-laundryroom (9)Next we took this board back into the storage closet, put it in place on the cinder block frame, and then we had to line up brackets on the opposite wall.  Apr7-laundryroom (16)Apr7-laundryroom (11)Apr7-laundryroom (10)

Once the brackets were in place, Greg cut the floor boards to size and we set them into place.  A quick “stress test” as Greg called it, and the floor seems sturdy!Apr7-laundryroom (18)Apr7-laundryroom (21)Apr7-laundryroom (20)Before we continue with the rest of the floor, we have to get a plumber and electrician in to do some work.  The water heater will have to be removed, then the remaining floor can be installed, and then the water heater will be raised and put back into the room on the new floor.  So, depending on how smoothly and quickly those steps go, we will be without hot water for a day (or more!).  Not looking forward to that part.  But I’m excited about progress!!

Posted in DIY

Spring is here!

It’s official. Spring is here. You can tell by the layer of yellow dusted over everything in sight.  Pollen is in the air, on the ground, covering my car, and making such a mess.  I’m grateful I don’t have allergies to pollen, cause I can’t imagine how miserable that must feel this time of year.  But I’m glad for the changing seasons.  There’s not much I like about winter.  I’m not a fan of the cold or the dreary deadness of winter.  I love flowers and green leafy trees.  I like being outside with the warm sun on my shoulders.  Now, also with the loveliness of spring comes something dreaded.  WEEDS!  Just as the grass grows taller and greener, so do those pesky weeds.  Well, since you can’t ignore them or they’ll only get worse, I decided to tackle them yesterday.  Greg (with the help of some buddies) got to working on the laundry room renovations, and I went to work in the yard.  Here’s a glimpse of what I was up against…

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Although it may look pretty with those lavender and yellow blooms, our yard is covered in weeds!!  Part of the problem is our lawn mower doesn’t have a bag on it. So every time Greg cuts the grass, the weeds don’t get picked up.  They just get cut into little pieces and spread across the yard.  The other problem is we haven’t ever done a good round of weed killer in the yard.  So yesterday, not only did I pull up a bunch of weeds (mainly all in the garden area, and in the pine straw area by the porch), but I bought some Scott’s Turf Builder with weed control.  I walked with a spreader all around the back yard, and hopefully it will start killing off all those weeds and help the grass grow better.  After a few hours of weeding and spreading and tidying up in the garden, the yard looks a little bit better.  It’ll look a whole lot better when all those weeds die, but that’ll take some time. Apr6-Weeding (2) Apr6-Weeding (13) Apr6-Weeding (23)

My battle wounds 🙁Apr6-Weeding (12)The strawberries have spread their runners into the pebbles.  I’ll have to transplant those at some point.  (They’re kinda hard to see, the pear tree casts a bunch of shadows).Apr6-Weeding (7) Apr6-Weeding (8)Lily was a lot of help, as usual 😉Apr6-Weeding (14)The grape vines are starting to bloom!  I really have no idea how the success of these will turn out. I’ve never grown grapes before. But they bear fruit on the previous years’ growth, so I’m hoping for at least a grape or two! 🙂Apr6-Weeding (27)And the pear tree is looking good. We trimmed it up this year (last year we just let it grow wild).  So we’re hoping for bigger fruit this year.  Apr6-Weeding (28)And I can’t wait for these beauties to bloom by the mailbox.  Tulips are my favorite 🙂Apr7-tulips