Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Thankful For...

      In our commercial America where Thanksgiving seems nothing more than a speed-bump along the road to Christmas, it seems that giving thanks is a dying art.  As I begin my holiday shopping, I know I get "the Gimmees" thinking about all the things that I could have or I should have; things that everyone else has but me.  Too often I forget that while I may have less than some, I have much more than most, and what you have is not nearly as important as what you make of it.  Too often I forget to be thankful for my blessings that aren't "material".

     With no family in town, Mike and I spent our Thanksgiving among ancient trees, mosses, and ocean-carved rocky coves in the Olympic National Park.  We camped in a primitive campground; meaning no running water or electricity, and as it was Thanksgiving day, no other people.  Being surrounded by that things we didn't have really put into perspective how many things we do.

We took the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston.  It was our first ferry ride!
Mother Nature at work.  I call this "fetus tree".  
Our first hike was to Merymere Falls
Here's Merymere falls… It looked like a bottle
This is where the fairies live
The forest floor was covered in moss which dampened all sound and made us feel really secluded.  
Apparently, this tree ate another tree.  This forest was like sibling rivalry to the extreme

We then hiked to Sol Duc falls…which was incredible! 

Here's Mike and our car-tent at our campsite 
The breakfast of champions

Happy Thanksgiving! This is the pie from our feast which also consisted of instant stuffing and gravy, cold turkey and roll sandwiches, and green bean casserole over the fire. 
The second day we went to the pacific coast of Ruby Beach.  The ground was covered with these perfectly round, weather-worn rocks and beautiful pieces of driftwood 
Panorama of the coast

We hiked the coast for quite a while.  It was so gorgeous and peaceful even with the overcast and the fog
We followed the sign for "Large Cedar Tree"
These are Dr. Seuss trees in the Hoh Rainforest's "Hall of Mosses".  Everything was covered in a layer of moss.  I loved all the decay and regrowth! 
We were happy in the end to come back to civilization! 
I'm grateful:

  • That places of solitude and untouched beauty still exist on this earth.  
  • For a car to act as our tent and shelter us from imaginary bears and real campsite raccoons
  • For Moist Towlettes
  • That we have indoor plumbing, heat and other utilities, and a stove to cook on at home.  It takes SO LONG to boil water in the wilderness!
  • For fire.  It was a little rainy in the forest and we had difficulty keeping a fire stoked.  I totally felt like Cast Away the second night when we actually got a fire raging for a bit
  • For the natural elements that shape things like the rocks and the land
  • For peace, love, perspective, and happiness that come from reflection and solitude
  • That I have such a wonderful, amazing husband to share in life's wonderful adventures!  

Happy Holidays!
Give Thanks and Be Merry!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Gig

I got a job! So any guesses on what I now do for a living? No, I'm not a burglar, or a donut maker, or even a brilliant film director. I don't work on an oil rig or as a flight attendant on some obscure airline.  I do work from home--er, not my home, but in someone elses' home (not a burglar, remember)-- as a Nanny!!! I'm so excited! My intentions are to write here and there about some of my experiences Nanning without breaching the families' privacy and trust. 

The boys I watch are four and almost two, and they are both really quite adorable little monsters. (Mike can attest that I use "monster" as a most sincere term of endearment).  While I love spending time with the kids going all the normal activities (playing in the park, at the beach, the zoo, the science center, and at home; watching "Dinosaur Train", playing trains or Play-Dough, blowing bubbles, etc. etc.), I've been thinking a lot lately about how this gig is perfect for me right now in my life. 

Here are FIVE reasons why I love my job (in no particular order):

1. It's 8-5, M-F....Full time. Paid vacation. Whatever. The works. Over the years I've worn my fair share of occupational hats--from babysitter to lawn-mower, to waitress, to ER receptionist, to assistant activities person in an elementary school, to administrative assistant--and in all of these, I don't think I've ever had a full-time job.  Granted, I've always been in school while working before, so about 20 hours a week was all I could handle on top of my studies.  As a post-grad, finding a full-time position was challenging but also necessary for both my sanity and mine (Get it? Necessary for both my personalities?).  This one fit the bill, and it feels so good to be doing something so fulfilling for a large chunk of my day.

2. It's lucrative! Being a nanny pays well compared to other entry level positions I could be getting at this time in my life (*I don't want to sound like an arrogant jerk so that's all I'll say about this one).

3. It's fun! Like I said before, we do everything from blowing bubbles to building forts. As a Nanny, you basically get paid to run around acting like a four-year-old all day. And part of the fun is getting to watch the children grow up and parrot some of the phrases you say, like "Oh, Darn" and "Let's head out!".  You get to become this quirky addition to the household and teach these children something because you're there so often that they pay attention to you.  It's a really special place to be.

4. It's both a structured and a flexible position.  One of the highlights of this job is that I have joint and independent control over the household.  Let me say that again; I work in tandem with the parents to ensure their goals for the children are met, and then I independently control the flow of the children's schedules, how the house runs and how their day goes in general.  These two opposing facts make my job infinitely better than some I've held.  Not only do I feel grateful for the parental advisory and loose structure they've set for their children (including basic household rules, daily schedule, and feeding and napping routines), but it's so great to be valued for my flexibility and creativity.  I am required to think and plan activities and meals in advance, but I'm not monitored 24/7 and have free range to modify our schedule if the kids are sick, sad, tired, or want to do something else during the day.  How many office jobs do you know that allow you to run around all day unsupervised and do whatever you want (within reason)? 

5. It's 8-5, M-F... While I'm grateful for a full-time position, I'm also glad it isn't a 70 hour a week thing.  It's nice to come home to Mike at the end of the day, unwind, and relax without pressure of deadlines to meet or other stressful homework.  If something didn't go well the day before (like potty training), we can try again tomorrow and frankly, I don't have to worry about it when I'm done with work.  It sounds funny but as much as I want children and can't wait for their arrival, a Nannying job allows you to be a fun friend and influence in a child's life without being their parent.  I can help them solve problems, learn to read, no hit their brother, and pick up their toys and leave the serious love, heartache, and discipline to the parents.  It makes my job easier knowing that. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The End of Mike's First Year of Med School

For those of you who don't know, I married an All-Star.  While he has many titles--Water-skiier, Little Brother, Son, Husband, Friend, Student, Hard-worker, Lady-killer, to name a few-- most simply call him Mike.  My extended family also fondly/jokingly refers to him as "Dr. Mike," a title which I can see more and more as he progresses in med school.

This summer, I got to accompany "The Doctor" to Casper where he got to do what they call a "RUOP" for a month.  It entailed Mike shadowing some fine actual doctors working in various fields; specifically emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, urology, and interventional radiology.  Mike loved the hands-on experience of getting to assist a c-section, take patient histories, witness two vaginal deliveries and countless surgeries to microwave tumors and bust up blood clots.  (You can read more about his experiences on his blog Wyoming's Watson).

NOTICE: The baby Mike's holding in the picture is not ours.  
It is a cool thing to see Mike come home, grinning from ear to ear because of something he just saw or got to help with.  Although Mike may not want to be an OBGYN someday, after witnessing his first vaginal delivery, he came in around 3am just shaking his head in a reverent way because of the miracle of life he'd just witnessed.  He kept telling me that "When the baby came out, I had to suppress this urge to start clapping!"  It makes me excited to have a cute little parasite of our own one day. :D

As a part of his RUOP, Mike also had to do some sort of project to promote health and wellness in the "rural community" of Casper.  For this, Mike did a "Bike to Work" campaign in the hospital.  He is a stud, and did, in fact, bike to the hospital almost every day we were there (except for the two times he popped a tire).

Mike's white coat ceremony
Even though he has grown up and into his own blog now, I just wanted to brag a bit about this pre-doctor husband I have.  He works hard even when his classes could be working him over.  He has this passion for learning and knowledge when he could get board and coast.  It's great to see someone you love whole-heartedly pursuing their dreams and still finding time to have such a balanced life, and I'm truly blessed to have him share all these aspects of his life with me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Life in La-rame

Many people ask me, "What do you do while you're here in La-rame?"
To them I say, "Everything you do, only backwards and in high heels." (I may have stolen that quote).  Oh, and without a job.  The last part has seemed minor when you think of how busy we've been lately!  It has been an awesome few months! To sum up what I do, I'll show pictures of some of the past few months.  But in a word, I: sew, craft, DIY, visit with family, workout a lot, rock climb, date Mike, babysit, plan parties, plan finances, clean, shop, teach a four-year-olds in church, do artwork, cook, and drive Mike around.

Here are some photos of things I've done while Mike's off in school:

Decorated sugar cookies with friends and their kids

Worked on art projects and designed clothing while watching "Project Runway"

This was actually one of my final projects for a 2-Dimensional Design class.  The city skyline is made up of an arial view of a city.   
Made a diaper cake for my friend Frannie's baby shower
Sewed a burlap Valentine's Day banner.  First I cut our these panels...
Then I sewed around the burlap panels, hand-stenciled the lettering in white paint, painted a red line around the edges, then sewed a rope across the top of the panels to attach them
(The heart in the middle is painted in red sparkle glue. Kind of my own touch.  I got the idea for the banner from a similar one on Etsy.  Their version: $35. Mine: $2 for burlap, $3 sparkle glue and hemp rope, and paint I already had) 
I planned a baby shower for my friend Jess.
For food, I made a homemade chocolate cake with raspberry filling and ruffled buttercream frosting, chocolate and red velvet cake balls, and lemon cookies.   

We went with a Valentine's Day theme because she's having a little girl and all the pink supplies were on sale 

Here's my buttercream cake

I painted an arrow feather design on an older brown t-shirt I have 

I painted the top of some thrift-store brown leather boots.  They now look like they have lighter tan leather on top...kind of trendy

I painted a Taylor Swift inspired giant heart on one of my favorite pink sweatshirts  

All you need to do is cut out a design in freezer paper, iron it onto your piece of clothing, and paint on a design with a 1 to 1 mixture of paint and textile medium.  After it dries, you iron over it, and Voila! 
I painted the toes of some flats a pastel pink, then put a clear sealant over them to give them a shiny sheen 

Mike and I are on an emergency preparedness kick.  We went to the store and bought all sorts of emergency supplies, and I planned and compiled our 72 hour kits.  They include: breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals for three days, two bottles of water per day, a heavy and light rain poncho, duct tape, an all purpose knife, gloves, wash cloths, first aid kit, toilet paper, a flashlight, camp soap, body soap, hand sanitizer, wet ones, klenex, sunscreen, bug spray, deodorant, toothbrush & paste, mini brush, whistle, hot hands hand warmers, a blanket, space blanket, some small games, a pad of paper, marker, pen, extra batteries, a lighter, matches, emergency plan, emergency money, and a change of clothes.  
Because I work out about five times a week, I made a little black (or pink) book of workouts.  It has pictures of all sorts of moves, organized by type (arms, legs, abs, cardio) and has some notes of different exercise routines I've come up with or found on Pinterest or learned in Pilates.  

I made a bag for my Pilates mat, inspired by my friend Maggi
I cut a length of blue chevron fabric a little larger than twice the width of my mat, with a 2 inch long strip for the strap.  Then I sewed along the length of one side, and along the bottom.  At the bottom I sewed little tabs to make it more rounded and to fit the bottom of my mat better.   I then turned down the top end and sewed around what would be the lip to make a clean edge.  I later added a drawstring. 

For the strap, I sewed along one edge and the bottom and turned it inside out.   Then I measured where I wanted it on my mat cover and sewed it on, making sure to secure it with a few lines of stitching and back-stitching. 
Pinterest inspired:  Many people have been making these framed pieces of paper that you can write notes on...like wipe-off boards.  Here's my take:  

I turned this old t-shirt into a skirt by cutting off the sleeves and the red trim,  then hemming the sides to make it more form-fitting.  I then sewed a seam on the bottom, and a black elastic waistband into the top.

This is the finished product.  
I modified my chocolate cake recipe and made it into a german chocolate cake that I entered into a Relief Society cake-baking contest.  It tasted pretty great!
I tried the ombre effect this time with the ruffled frosting and added clear sugar crystals on top.
Happy Crafting!