Final exams

However, the music of this ladythis guy and this movie have been keeping me company as I chug along. 

Freedom = Thursday

Bring it, finals. 



another good reminder

"Do not spoil what you have today by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."
- Epicurus



sympathetic nervous system series....or not

Remember when I said I would do a post each month about things that make me happy? You know, right before I went on a two-month sabbatical to re-configure my whole life because nursing school stuff was setting up camp in all the boxes and lines of my planner?

Yeah, so much for that...

Well, here is the second installment of what I've now dubbed the sympathetic nervous system series!

Just kidding.

Did you get it?

It was a joke, okay?

Sympathetic nervous system = fight or flight = adrenaline rush....anyone?

Gimme-a-break-'cause-I'm-in-school-right-now-and-all-I-can-focus-on-is-physiology-stuff-because-it's-kicking-me. in. the. rear.

10 things that put a smile on my face

1. Living close enough to campus that I can ride my bike to class and get to the science center in two minutes flat

2. My 6 qt CrockPot

3. Justin's and my weekly doughnut dates that involve some devotional time along with a good cup o' joe, a baked good of some sort and/or a mammoth-sized breakfast entree

4. The $0.41 pumpkin spice lattes at work

5. Going on runs without obligation nor any pressure to look at my Nike watch every five minutes

6. The fact that the appropriate time to start listening to Christmas music and decorating for the holiday season (AND CHRISTMAS BREAK) is getting closer...and closer...and closer...

7. Re-reading Justin's account of his near death experience - SO funny! To clarify, no harm was done to Justin or the deer.

8. The 20-minute dance party that Justin and I had last night (this morning?) at 1:30am to the Tron and Fight Club soundtracks

9. Getting to know some pretty incredible and amazing fellow student nurses so far this semester

10. Having all of my weekends free from work once again!

What's bringing you joy and smiles these days?



as of late

What have I done since I last posted?

Oh, what a complex question.

First and foremost, a HUGE ENORMOUS GARGANTUAN CONGRATULATIONS to my husband on his acceptance into medical school! Talk about a sigh of relief for us and our future... It was such a big weight off our shoulders to finally and officially know that by this time next year he will for sure be a first year medical student. Although this may not be where he ends up going, it's still such a relief to have an option at all. He found out last night when we were both at work. When he called me after receiving the good news from the dean of admissions himself, it took all I had inside of me not to start screaming my head off and sobbing tears of utter joy right there in the very public, extreme echo-inducing lobby at my desk - though I did find out that my mother-in-law screamed enough for the two of us combined and then some when she got the news in the privacy of her own home.

Second, I successfully finished my first (and possibly last...) marathon! I say last not because the race itself deterred me from considering doing another, but rather the intense amount of training that went into preparing for the big event. While the whole experience on the actual day was incredibly fun, challenging, encouraging, motivating and positive, I'm not sure I can mentally deal with the preparation aspect again anytime soon. I told Justin maybe I'd do Chicago or something big in the future, like when I'm done popping out offspring and have fallen into a mid-life crisis of some sort...or maybe just once I'm done with nursing school. Anyway, I accomplished my goal: to finish. And finish I did after four hours and seven minutes of running with about a 9:30 minute/mile pace! That day it was like I was walking on clouds. The few days following, on the other hand, were like I had never walked in my life - hilarious to see, I'm sure, NOT so hilarious to experience. Knees buckling, with a gait like I'd just gotten off riding a horse for days on end....not a pretty sight.

Speaking of nursing school, that is what has mostly taken up my time since I last posted! While my nightly routine of bursting into tears from the overwhelming stress taking over my entire life finally subsided after the first month of the semester, that's not to say I haven't had a few freakouts here and there since then. Between going to lectures and lab every day, studying for exams, doing homework, attending study sessions, working on projects/assignments outside of class and going to field placement PLUS working three 8-hour shifts every week, it's no wonder I find myself either dreaming of my work phone's ringtone and everything seeming to take place in our school's science center. Yeah, I'm a nerd!

Justin's schedule hasn't been too friendly with him, either, as evidenced by this. I will say those doughnut dates truly are the BEST - I highly recommend them to any couple whether or not your lives are so hectic that you only see your spouse for a few minutes at best each day. We'll have to see if we can keep those up come med school...

So I'm hoping to come back to this a little more regularly than I have been the past couple of months. Regularly meaning at least more than one post in two months. After all, how else am I going to remember in the future what life was like now if I don't have anything to look back on? Wasn't that the whole point of starting this blog in the first place? Yes, I need to get back at this.

It's time get back to chasing some peonies.



just a quickie

I hate to say it, but blogging is going to be just about the last thing on my list of what I have to do for at least the next few months. School began last week and already I've broken down crying from all the stress of presentations, quizzes, homework and studying that is rapidly piling up and filling in the spaces of my planner. I know that earlier I wrote about doing posts regarding moving, our new apartment, backpacking and other summer events, but it looks like I will just not be getting to that. Never did I imagine that I would be as busy just with classes as I find myself now.

It'll be worth all this hard work in the end...right?

So, who knows when the next post will come. Maybe once I feel settled and into a schedule of things, I can get my blogging booty back in gear. There is so much I'd love to write about! However, we'll just have to wait and see.

Until next time...



this post is not exciting

Yesterday I hoped to write a huge long post outlining the past few weeks, chock-full [ ...chockfull? Chockful? Chock full? Spelling, anyone? ] of photos and whatnot, but alas, I felt totally uninspired and devoid of motivation after a slightly irking incident involving UPS and my textbooks [ which turned out to be my own fault after all - cue tears of embarassment and shame... ].

So here's my little update to say that I'm still alive.

Our apartment isn't quite completely organized yet, but at least we only have about two or three more boxes to unpack and put away! And then despite slipping on a hill two miles from the end [ and straining / spraining my wrist in the process ], I survived the backpacking trip up north. I also managed to successfully stand up in my friend's wedding even on less than six hours of sleep and feeling more than slightly lightheaded and quite warm at least twice during the ceremony.

Update: done.
Just kidding.

I'll get pictures and a more detailed post up later this week. Justin and Josh are way ahead in the game with their fancy shmancy [ but not negative Nancy! That was dumb. Sorry. ] edited photos and lengthy posts, but I will catch up! Advanced apologies for repeats, though.


P.S. On a random note, everyone needs to go out and read Tina Fey's book, Bossypants [ click the link for the NY Times review ], right now. Seriously. Once you get past all the swear words [ 'cause there are lots in there ], it's absolutely hilarious. I finished it in a day and a half. Read it. You won't regret it.


I like to move it move it

Ay caray.

The past five days have been a whirlwind of activity. I silently cry on the inside every time I look at another box I realize I haven't unpacked yet. Why can't they just empty themselves while I sit in the corner, curled up reading and sipping lemonade in the coolness of our [ hallelujah! ]  air-conditioned space? But alas, I'm slowly but surely working through them.

It should also be noted that we won't have internet at the new place for another week or so at least, so I've resorted to uh, how do I say it? Using the free, unlocked resources I have when I have them... I won't say anything more than that [ though if you know my schedule you may catch my drift ]. This is the reason for my lack of photos of the new place, though we do have lots to share. Justin did this awesome job setting up the camera to take a picture every 30 [ ? ] seconds when we tackled the kitchen / entrance area and then once again as he set up the entertainment center in the living room. He compiled the photos to create a video of our progress and will most likely be posting it soon! He also took pictures of the whole place, each individual room, before we started moving things in, so hopefully we'll be getting those up for people to see soon as well. I'll also be doing a post about how the whole move went, so hang tight for that, too!



Madness, I tell you...

The lack of posts has a reason: life is C-R-A-Z-Y as of late.

For one thing, we're moving.


Justin and I realized that this will be our fourth living space in the span of two years. That's right - by the time we settle into our new abode, we will have lived in FOUR different places since tying the knot in 2009.

That is four times of packing boxes, crossing our fingers that nothing gets damaged in said boxes, breaking down furniture [ or not...because it's sooo not worth it to attempt to reconstruct those IKEA pieces sans the original instructions...], loading / unloading U-Hauls, re-assembling non-IKEA furniture, unpacking those mountains of boxes, figuring out how to best organize new spaces and places, and waiting for weeks until our new home actually feels like home.

However, this time we're doing things a little differently.

We always knew that at some point we'd have to do a major purge of our possessions since we've been planning on paring way down once Justin heads to med school. However, we didn't expect that to happen until at least next summer, so now we're scrambling to purge unnecessary items. Due to renting an actual house, we've I've gotten into this nasty habit of -ahem- acquiring [ and creating ] more items than we I maybe should have. Some vintage Ball jars to use as vases? Sure, I'll take four. Perhaps a decorative wall hanging? I'll craft some and then also take one for free from my mom! This has resulted in a few too many items than we actually need and I'm feeling just a bit overwhelmed at the sight of them as I mentally pack items into imaginary boxes.


"Please chase a peony, love"

I'm going to make a confession: I don't always do the greatest job of looking on the bright side. I realize this isn't the most ridiculous thing in the world since there are a lot of people who tend to be self-proclaimed "realists" [ c'mon, in all honesty that's just an excuse to be a negative Nancy ] and don't always consider the glass half full. However, a huge part of my motivation to revamp this blog was to change the name to Chasing Peonies, which was actually a metaphor for me to lean more towards optimism on a daily basis.

I used to be a bubble of flowers and butterflies, hopes and dreams. But somewhere along the way, for a myriad of reasons that need not be delved into, I transformed into a dark hole filled with nothing but shrewdness and negativity. While I've since come out of that [ thank goodness ] , a small part lingers and threatens to take over when I lose sight of what is so good and real in my life now. In fact, it probably comes out more than I realize, considering all too often Justin will encouragingly remind me to change my attitude with one simple phrase: "Please chase a peony, love."


fiery, incandescent & sweltry

Yes, I went to thesaurus.com and looked up synonyms for hot and chose my favorites to name this post. This is what happens when I don't have any schoolwork to be tackled as I sit at my desk at work [ because why yes, I do sit on my tush for eight hours each shift at a place of employment where my boss encourages me to "exercise my brain" and do homework...all the while getting paid... ]. Even as I bask in the climate-controlled heaven, the sun has now started to stream into the gigantor windows that make up 1/3 of my "cubicle" and I'm starting to doubt my decision to wear black.

I know I've mentioned a time or two about how very warm our house gets due to its lack of A/C, but I really had no idea what I was talking about then. In fact, I laugh at my past self, writing those posts. This week has been ridiculous, as anyone who isn't living under a rock and ventures outdoors would confirm. Last night, we reached a recordbreaking 89°F inside our home, no breeze from outside to be found. In fact, it got so bad that I was standing in the bathroom, innocently brushing my teeth, when [ advanced apologies for the sheer gross factor of the rest of this story ] I felt a drop sliding down on my leg. Yes, I was literally dripping sweat just from lifting an arm in attempt to do the simple act of brushing my teeth. Horrific. I still don't know how we managed to fall asleep. Aaaaand then this morning, I turned on the oven to do some baking and cooking, just because I was that crazy determined. How sad / ironic / funny...in the winter months, I moan and groan all the good long day about wearing three pairs of pants, two sweatshirts and four pairs of socks to bed to counter the looming threat of frostbite, just dreaming of warm and sunny days. Now, in the throes of summer, I want to just sell my soul for even a hint of cold air in the house...


"If you can see this, my invisibility cloak isn't working."

It's the end of an era, as people are saying.

Look how much they've changed!

[ Amy has a much better display of all things Harry Potter in her latest posts, my favorite being the age comparisons of key characters ]

Upon leaving work at about 9:05pm last night, I zipped right on over to the McDonald's to pick up two of their [ absolutely fantabulously delicious ] caramel mocha coffees for Justin and me with hopes that the caffeine would carry us well into the wee hours of the morning. After that, I rushed home to take out and feed the dog, change into comfy clothes [ which were not part of some sort of costume ], gather our candy and drinks for smuggling into the theater, triple-check that I had our will call ticket retrieval information and impatiently excitedly awaited Justin's arrival home. Around 9:48pm I heard his garage door open then in a flash at 9:57pm we were off. And here's a perk to living in a smaller city - we were in the movie theater's [ already jam-packed ] parking lot less than ten minutes later.


this and that and everything in between

Since deciding to go back to school as well as moving into our church's house, Justin and I have become more aware of our finances and how we can possibly live more simply. In this post, he actually wrote about our attempts at living a greener lifestyle, which also translates into a "budget-friendlier"  lifestyle. Along with this topic, over the past year I've been struggling to live more minimalistically and environmental-conscienciously [ try saying THOSE last five words fast 10X ]. Maybe it's being married and starting a new life with someone, maybe it's the fact that my money is not solely my own anymore, or maybe it's just me going through some changes - as I wrote in my "About Me" section, I'm learning to be content with less.

I'll be honest, sometimes it is really tough. With social networking grabbing me left and right via Facebook or all the blogs out there, it's difficult to not get turn into the green-eyed monster. So-and-so has the cutest clothes, why can't I just make over my wardrobe? So-and-so's house and its furnishings are so beautiful, why can't I have that, too? Oh, how I wish I could have X, Y and Z just like so-and-so. The list goes on, and before you know it, I'm feeling all down in the dumps when in reality, I'm surrounded by mounds of blessings, both physically and emotionally.

But then I shake my head, remind myself of those blessings and I realize how much I truly have to be thankful for. Along with that, I remind myself how much joy I get out of doing some of those things that are considered "simpler" or not very extravagant. They actually really are just better for me because they bring me a sense of peace, being okay with the littler or more basic of things.


Copycat: Awkward & Awesome

I've been a silent [ read: non-commenting ] follower of The Daybook for quite a while now. The author, Sydney, is super cute and super fashionable and gives me outfit inspirations for when I have to work, which is pretty much the only time I ever wear put-together outfits...well, that plus church. That's right - for all of you that see me every other Saturday and on my days off, no, I do not just wear old high school / college t-shirts and Nike running shorts paired with my oh-so-stylish flip-flops... I am capable of looking like a respectable person of society with clothes intended for occasions other than exercising and housework.

Anyway, Sydney also does this comical thing of posting "Awkward and Awesome" situations that happen to her on a weekly basis and then shares them each Thursday. Every time I read them, I think to myself, "Does anything that weird / interesting / sweet-awesome-fantastic happen to me that consistently?" Usually the answer is no. However, this past week I noted a few things out of the ordinary, so I just had to share...


1) Taking our trash out. Now, I know you're all thinking that this is just an everyday, no-brainer chore where you just walk the can down the street and leave it to be picked up on a weekly basis blah blah blah. But let me inform you of this: living in the church's house and having to walk [ or drive if we're exceptionally wasteful that day ] across the entirety of the parking lot in order to fling the bag(s) into the giant dumpster conveniently located next to the nursing home [ the church's next door neighbor ] staff's preferred smoking location generates a few confused / judgmental / entertained / just-plain-weird looks.

2) Having to literally yell to the hard of hearing elderly (wo)man if (s)he needs a wheelchair in the already echo-inducing-at-the-sound-of-a-whisper lobby from my desk. This also generates several confused / judgmental / entertained / just-plain-weird looks.

3) The temperature of our house during these summer days, which hovers around 80-85 degrees by mid-afternoon. Stepping out of the shower and sweating just from toweling off is not pleasant.

4) Playing phone tag with the sales rep from Crowne Motors regarding my gas cap replacement. Not nearly as amusing as it is with a friend. "Hi, this is Nicole, guess I missed you! -awkward pause- Just calling you back about that gas cap, he he... -awkward pause- Soooo call me back when you get the chance. Bye!"

5) Getting home after a full day at work only to discover the second button on your blouse has been undone for who knows how long. Thankfully you wore a tank underneath but yikers!


1) Five weekends off in a row!!! Working every other weekend sure is a drag, but with switching shifts around and using PTO wisely, I can enjoy part of June and nearly every weekend during the month of July NOT sitting a desk, hating the world and wishing I were anywhere but there.

2) How I spent my day yesterday = successful 6 mile run to jumpstart the day + trip to the pet store with my little family + laundry drying on the line outside + lying in the sun with my little pupper + a Speedway Coke slurpee + short but sweet meet-up with my mom-in-law + cooking up a storm with Friends in the background [ as always ] + falling asleep with the fans strategically placed by my sweet husband to allow for the maximum amount of airflow through the room as possible

3) Biking to work today with minimal amount of sweat upon arrival - much better than when drops were literally running down my leg...

4) Having my hours reinstated at work - as much as I don't particularly enjoy what I do, I enjoy the money that generates as a result of it to pay our bills.

5) The fact that only nine more days stand between me, Sarah and the lovely, completely live voice of Josh Groban! The past two times we've attended his concerts they've involved singing onstage with him as part his backup choir and having him hold Sarah's hand as he serenaded her. We can only imagine what this next concert has in store for us...

6) The weather predictions for this weekend - Saturday: sunny, 0% chance precipitation, 87 degrees = beach; Sunday: 30% chance of storms = good excuse to stay inside snuggling, baking and watching movies



Okay, let's get real here. I've been feeling anxious this past week, stressing out about how I need to do a blog post and make it interesting so people will read it - take and edit and include some pictures, link to some forums for our Nikon or for fellow non-traditional students out there, post a link on Facebook with some witty summary to entice more readers, etc. I was looking at all these other blogs I follow that have a common theme so then I started obsessing about figuring out a theme for this thing...Crafting? Well, if copycatting everybody else's ideas could count then okay, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't fly. Fashion? I'm almost positive nobody is interested in my daily t-shirt / running shorts / Teva sandals combination. Cooking / baking? I can hardly multitask with food preparation in the kitchen, much less attempt to photograph the process. It was getting to the point where I finally took a step back and said to myself, "Is this really what it's all about?"

No, no it's not.

I got caught up in the blogisphere [ it's a word, trust me ] and started focusing way too much on imitating other people's blogs rather than just making this what I intended it to be - for me and whoever in my life cared enough to read the crazy / jumbled / spontaneous / boring / exciting / ho hum thoughts of my day-to-day life. It's not about gaining readership or making money off ads or showcasing my [ albeit mediocre ] photography abilities. I may not lead the most interesting of lives, but I'd like to be able to look back on this one day and fondly remember where I was and what I was doing at this point in my life.

So, I'm reclaiming Chasing Peonies. It won't stress me out to write. It won't make me panic when I realize I haven't updated in over a week. It won't make me feel bad when I check my stats and don't see a high number. It won't it won't it won't.

Alright, it may [ and probably at times will ]. However, I will strive to just let this be what it is and progress in the way I feel most inspired. Sure, I'll still link it to Facebook. Yes, I might eventually post on a forum or two if I write about something super duper cool that I think may interest fellow nursing students or some other specific group of people. BUT I'm in no hurry right now nor do I have a certain timeline to do so. As my college apartment-mates would have said to me, "Calm the frick frack down!"

Whew, that's better now.




This is my brother-in-law: 

Currently he is living in downtown Denver trying to connect with and love on the homeless. He keeps a blog called Streets of Gold to document his experience and his latest post absolutely amazed me. I respect him so much for what he is doing so I had to share the link. 

Thinking of and praying for you, Trav!



feliz cumpleaños

So I actually meant to write a post on Wednesday, but Pixelpipe was being a pooper 
 [ turns out that the new version of iPhoto isn't compatible for some reason ] so that idea got scrapped. Luckily Justin figured it all out and got me working with Picasa so I'm good to go now [ and therefore don't have any more excuses to not post more consistently... ]. 

Anyway, the subject of Wednesday's post was going to be my love for our town's farmers market. I don't know what it is about going to a farmers market, but being able to chat with the farmers themselves and support locally and get Michigan products feels so wonderful. Not to mention it's now officially summer and all the good stuff comes out!

my favorite...obviously

Shoved one in Justin's mouth..."This is how strawberries should taste!"

Ahhhh dried kiwi!! The best...

basil to make homemade pesto

Aaaaand now it's Friday [ sorry...couldn't resist... ] so all this old news...

BUT that means that it's Justin's birthday! So, in honor of his big two six, I've decided to make a list of 26 things I love about my man [ in no particular order, mind you ] :

26) His sheer intelligence that amazes me every day...seriously - he's pretty much the smartest person I know

25) His wavy hair 

24) His tall stature

23) How he always manages to find the positive in any negative situation [ he's got this whole chasing peonies thing down pat ] 

22) The way he smiles at me when he's feeling all lovey dovey

21) The fact that his teeth are too small to bite into carrots properly

20) How he can just pick up on anything so fast [ a man of all trades, let me tell ya ] 

19) The fact that he catches all the spiders and other strange nasty bugs we find in our house

18) How great of a "dad" he is to our pupper dog
17) That he carries me to bed when I've fallen asleep on our couch

16) His dedication to anything he sets his mind to

15) How he says "thank you" to me every day for doing things for him

14) How he says "I love you" to me every day

13) That his pet peeves are often right in line with my pet peeves [ grammar, specifically ] 

12) How he'll hold my hand whenever, wherever

11) His big hugs

10) That he cleans up the dog's vomit so I don't have to...

9) His constant flow of encouraging words that come just naturally to him

8) His patience and understanding

7) How he genuinely cares and has compassion for others

6) His linguistic abilities 

5) His easygoing nature

4) How every day at some point he literally has me on the floor laughing so hard that my abdominal muscles ache

3) How great of a leader he is for us

2) The love he shows his friends and family

1) How he is truly a man of God

So, if you see him at some point [ or want to stop by here and say hi ], make sure to  wish him the happiest of birthdays!!!

Happy Birthday, Pook! You're the best!!!



high in the sky

My job does have its perks, such as having the best "office view" possible. This allows me to witness firsthand [ in my opinion ] one of the most amazing medical opportunities we have to save lives:

Aero Med is pretty sweet.

If I could get over my motion sickness, I could totally see myself pursuing that as a viable career option for at least a couple of years...



Harry's sister?

A lot of people around my age have a story regarding their introduction to Harry Potter, usually occurring around the tender age of 10 or 11, about the same as that of Harry himself when this series began. I'm a part of that lot.

I'll never forget answering the phone after walking home from the bus stop:

"Have you heard of this new book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone?" asked my dad.
"Uh, nope...definitely does not sound like my type of book..." I replied.
"Alright, well, I'm at Barnes & Noble and they have it here, so I'll just bring it home for you and you can see if you like it. Apparently it's getting pretty popular."

When Dad came home from work, he handed me [ in what my 5th grade mind perceived as ] the biggest, heaviest piece of reading material I could ever imagine myself attempting to conquer. Up to that point, I'd buried my nose in Babysitter's Club and other various "pre-teen-girl-geared" paperback hand-me-downs from my three older sisters. Looking at that hardcover with this boy flying on a broom and a close-up of " wait, is that a lightening bolt on his head?" made me skeptical - yeah, I was judging the book by its cover.

Three days later, I finished the whole thing.

I loved it. Devoured it. Could NOT wait for the next installment [ little did I know I'd have to wait a whole year - otherwise maybe I would've taken my time!]. Not to mention the fact that at the time we shared the same last name - aaaaand little did I know that that would haunt me until the day I got married and got a brand spankin' new one. Wherever I went, whomever I talked to on the phone for some sort of customer service, whenever teachers called my name or I met someone new, it was always followed up with a variation on the same question: "As in Harry Potter?" I think the worst was when people from foreign countries would look at my passport, chuckle, then in somewhat broken English say, "Ohh, Harry's sister!" All I could ever do was politely smile, though in my head I had to ask, "Do they truly think that's the first time I've heard that?!"

Anyway, following the first book, I'm pretty sure I managed to get my hands on each of the next six the same week [ if not the day after ] that they were released. I never went to any of those midnight release parties at bookstores, but my mom would always somehow manage to get one for me. When that last one came out in the summer of 2007, I was actually working abroad in Central America and could not for the life of me find one to buy in an airport [ sold out, you see ]. When I arrived back home, I was greeted by a copy left in my room by my mom...though I couldn't bear to start reading what I only knew was the end of this long journey. Eventually after a month of having it just sit and stare at me on the shelf in my dorm room, I opened up book #7 and read to my heart's desire until the very end [ although I took my time with this one, and it lasted a week and a half ].

I never got into the movies very much - I still haven't even seen the sixth one - though I am excited to say that Justin and I just got tickets for the part two of the final movie. Yes, we will be joining the ranks of all the other HP crazies and attending the midnight showing on opening night, July 15.

Okay, I was just about to write about how sad I am about this over-a-decade-long relationship coming to an end and realized this is actually way too long of a post to write about my affinity for all things Harry Potter.

I'm kind of embarrassed now.

Don't judge.



Oops...I did it...again...

Too much on the title? Sorry about that. I'm just a sucker for Britney, that's all. I blame my parents, who bought me tickets for Christmas when I was like, 9 years old. All that I can remember of that strange event was Brit swaying to and fro atop a raft thing that floated above the crowds. Oh, and the fact that LFO was the opening band - "I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch, I'd take her if I had one wish, but she's been gone since that summa, since that summa..." Such fine, creative musical artists, eh?

Brit and the boys of LFO...keeping it classy since the inception of cheesy 90's pop stars and preppy boy bands...

Anyway, back to the reason for the title.

So at some point last month, a co-worker [ fellow receptionist ] put in her two weeks notice, resulting in a hustle and bustle to cover her shifts until a replacement could be found. On one of my days off, I got a call about filling in an early Monday morning shift in mid-June. To be noted, the early shift starts at 5:30am as opposed to my usual 2nd shift that starts at 12:30pm.  Meaning, I would have to get up at 4:15am in order to shower, do something acceptable with my hair, dress myself as appropriately as one can pre-sunrise, smear any semblance of makeup on my face and operate a vehicle in order to make it for clock-in on time. Sounds fun, right? Well, with it being summer and out of school [ aka plenty of extra time on my hands ] and wanting to make some extra moolah, I accepted the challenge.

So you can imagine my surprise as I stumble into the office, much-needed coffee in hand, and am immediately greeted by the replacement. I knew we had found a replacement, but what someone failed to inform me was that the replacement had been given ALL of the previous co-worker's shifts, including the ones that were others were asked to cover just in case a replacement was not found by that time. Bottom line: I was not scheduled to be at work at 5:30am today. Once again, I showed up on a day when my name was not on the schedule.

This time around, however, I stayed. The replacement graciously let me take the shift, arguing that I'm a student in need of all the extra hours I can get. In my embarassment / post-slumber stupor / caffeine-deprived state, I thanked her and made my way to my desk.

Schedule mishaps, that's just my prerogative.



everybody sweat now + I can't live without my planner

With temperatures reaching 90°outside today along with 70% humidity [ and therefore close to about 85° inside our non-air-conditioned house ], I think it's safe to say that summer has officially arrived in Michigan.

This little guy has been getting a workout this past week...yet even our drinks are sweating bullets.

Poor pupper...trying to stay cool and relaxed in our sauna of a home...

 Pre-commute to work, though still quite flushed 

While riding my bike to work in said sweltering heat and humidity, I couldn't help but think how much I was looking forward to sitting on my bum all day at my desk, basking in the free A/C. By the time I arrived, not only was I a hot sticky mess, but sweat was literally dripping down my legs [ I know, that is so attractive ]. Walking through the automatic double doors, I was greeted with the sweet rush of refreshingly cold and heavenly bite of moving cool air. Oh, how I looked forward to cooling off and then freezing my bum off for the next seven hours... 

My hopes were dashed after about 15 minutes of confusion and finally coming to the realization that I was not scheduled to work today. I had agreed to switch shifts with a co-worker and instead of working my normal Tuesday, I'm doing an off day later this week. The only reason I forgot all about the switch was because I didn't write it down in my planner - those of you who know me are well aware that this is very uncharacteristic of me, considering I write EVERYTHING down and ALWAYS have my planner with me. You know what, though? I blame it on the heat. 

So back outside I went, into the outdoor oven, onto my baking bicycle and rode my sad little self back home, where I promptly stripped down out of my now-soaked work clothes and into a swimsuit. A half hour and 34987321093874 steps up and down stairs and sand dunes later, I could be found lying by the breezy lake. 

In conclusion, even without the free air controlled climate, my day turned out alright if I do say so. 




This makes me proud to not only be a Michigander, but also a Grand Rapids native AND an FHC marching band alum!



pardon our dust

So here's the deal - one of the things on my summer to-do list is organizing this blog better, and included in that is keeping up with it more consistently and molding my own personal blogging style. Justin is totally beating me with his customized backgrounds and consistent posts... I have some serious photography skills / technologically savvy / creativity / altogether blog-envy. Luckily, he promised to help me give this thing a facelift, so over the next week or two this may seem a little discombobulated [is that a spell-able word?! Is "spell-able" even a word?] due to changes being made. For example, my header photo is already MIA so my blog's looking a little naked and boring but have no fear! The finished product is coming soon...to a blog near you...?



a hodgepodge

* Disclaimer: This is a pretty long post and, I'm not going to lie, full of a lot of boring stuff. Proceed reading at your own risk. * 

The other day, Justin kindly noted how long it's been since I've written in here, so I thought I would update. You know, just for him. Well, and me, because if my purpose with this thing is to better document life then I should probably actually post a little more consistently.

So, life as of late...

Finals came and passed quicker than I realized [ and for which I am very grateful ]. Micro? I must have done a swell job of preparing because somehow I managed to scrape together a decent enough grade on the final to get the overall grade I did - and let's just say I was mighty pleased with that grade indeed. Also, the coming to pass of that final signaled the end of learning about microbiology, therefore meaning no more petri dishes with nasty E. coli samples, no more smelly drawers full of bacteria-infested plates, no more going into lab for no reason other than to LOOK at a plate, and most importantly, no more worst-professor-of-the-century-and-in-the-whole-dang-universe
[ for realsies, I had never experienced such a disrespectful, unprofessional, ineffective educator in my life until I met this woman ].

As for chemistry, again, I must have been on something [ and something good ] when taking that final because I have absolutely no idea how I managed to end up with the semester grade that I did. What I'm looking forward to most about saying goodbye to that class is the lab - talk about feeling inadequate...not to mention stupid, with those sweet awesome goggles they require. Good thing I'm already married and wasn't on the quest to impress with those babies.

Then this past Saturday, I laced up to run the 34th annual Fifth Third River Bank Run's 25K for the second year in a row. Last year, I ran to finish. This year, I ran to beat last year's time. A few highlights include pushing myself to go a tad too fast in the beginning, accepting GU even though I hadn't trained with it, feeling incredibly nauseated starting at mile 9 most likely due to GU acceptance [ and shocking my digestive system...this lasted until at least a half hour after I crossed the finish line ], and yet somehow finishing in 2:09:21 with an 8:21min/mile pace, more than 9 minutes faster than last year's time.

It was a whole huge massively different story this time around. While I was better prepared physically to tackle this 15.5 mile challenge, I'm not convinced that I was mentally as well. I was so set on keeping under a 8:30 pace, beating the 2:10 finish time, that I kept convincing myself that I could go faster and let my adrenaline just carry me the whole way. This resulted in my keeping a sub-8 minute pace for the first five miles, then dropping back to a close 8:35 for a while once I felt nauseated. In the end, I was able to finish strong and sprint the finish [ passing at least five guys over a foot taller than me, at that! Booyah grandpas! ], but I made the mistakes that I think a lot of novice distance runners like myself fall victim to - not sticking to a realistic pace in the beginning, not ignoring the instinct to let adrenaline take over, not focusing on the big picture of the whole race.

Last year, upon returning home after the RBR, Justin and I immediately signed ourselves up for the GR Half Marathon. This year, the day after, I decided to take the plunge and signed my name up for the full GR Marathon that's taking place this fall. I'm a mixture of emotions: terrified, excited, determined, pee-my-pants nervous, you name it. 26.2 miles is a distance that people drive - and I'm going to [ attempt with all my heart and soul to ] run it. Like my first Riverbank, the goal will be to finish - though I am shooting for a 9min/mile pace, which I think it fairly reasonable given my most recent RBR time.

So now it's summer and I have all the time in the world to run far and long, right? Partially. Call me nutso, but nearly within the first hour of absolute freedom from school, I made a summer to-do list. If you know me even the slightest, you know I love my lists. Now, to be fair, this one really isn't all that bad; I just wrote down all the things I had been wanting to get done the entire semester but couldn't because school demanded the vast majority of my energy and basically diminished any semblance of free time. Sewing kitchen and bedroom curtains, crafting my own earring and necklace holders, organizing our junk-strewn basement, reading Water for Elephants and Mennonite in a Little Black Dress [ check! I'd highly recommend it, by the way ] and Blogging for Dummies [ okay not really, but something along the lines of learning how to do all this HTML junk and unique-ifying this thing ] , learning our Nikon D90 better, making and going to an eye doctor appointment, figuring out which immunizations I need for nursing clinicals, actually getting the immunzations and turning in the form on time... Okay, those last few aren't so great, but life's not all fun and games.  Factor in soaking up all the time I can with Justin at the beach, taking bike rides to the farmer's market, reading in the park and sleeping in late and you've got yourself a very jam-packed summer.

I'm going to try my hardest to train for the marathon. I'm considering changing up my diet a little bit to try to fuel myself in the best way possible [ a.k.a. pasta, bagels and bananas are getting a little old and I need some more excitement and energy-inducing foods ] and perhaps logging further runs but less often and practicing some sort of meditation running for focus. If anyone out there has tips for first time marathon runners, PLEASE SEND THEM MY WAY. I'm not kidding. I could use all the help I can get.

Alright, that was a whole bunch o' ramble. Hope you weren't too bored along the way. I promise my next post will be short and sweet.

Oh! I'll also try to get photos up of the RBR - though if I forget and / or don't [ which is likely ], you can always check them out on Justin's blog. He's much better at updating, uploading pictures, posting consistently, and pretty much everything else!




Here is a wake up call:

When you actively smoke and blow it right in your children's faces and one of them starts coughing, that might [ just might ] be a sign that you should quit.

I'm just sayin'...



¡un estudiante de enfermería!

I feel like a real nursing student now because of this:

That expression pretty much sums up how I feel about the next 2.5 years!!