I Accidentally Stole From Target & Other Recent Happenings

HOWDY! Excuse me while I unleash my good ole’ southern side (I just booked a quick four day trip to Dallas in August!). YEEHAAW. My schedule only comes out about three or four weeks before, so I’m doing all my planning last minute, but I’m learning to navigate it.

I’m thrilled to tell ya’ll that things are getting mucho better. I think after I wrote my last big nursing update post I began truly coping. I’m able to sleep through the night most nights without taking an absurd amount of melatonin, and I am able to separate work from home a bit better. I actually have some energy outside of work and am becoming motivated to start, idk, do real people things, besides sleep on my off days. I’ve still had days that would consume me at the beginning, but now I try to just see them as a learning experience. I feel that I am contributing more to my patients’ care too. One of my patients was just a bit too drowsy for my likin’ and had sluggish pupils. I let the doctor know, and when they did the CT scan it turned out he did have a re-bleed in the brain. As much as I wish these types of complications didn’t happen, it was incredibly rewarding to feel like I actually made a true difference for a patient. I still have an infinite amount to learn, but I don’t get nauseous every single day walking into work. I’ve actually had a few times where I’ve been somewhat excited to go back in because I knew I was getting my same patients back from the prior day! This turned corner is all, 100%, due to the tremendous support I have received in the last couple months and spending time in God’s Word has truly helped change my perspective. I don’t think I could have survived the first three new-grad nursing months from h-e-double hockey without you all, DJ, my family, my friends, and other coworkers. It sounds supes cliche, but it’s the truth. I have just a couple months until my probation period ends and I think I might just make it, guys! Then I will officially be a Clinical Nurse II! Just gotta keep peddlin’ on. (I needed to work in this photo somehow).

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Also my coworkers have jokes… I walked into this when I worked last Sunday and found it hilarious.

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When going through my Camera roll as of late I noticed two things. A. All I do is take pictures of food. and B. I make some weird crap. But I swear, it’s delicious crap.

Ok, exhibit A….

I decided to try a portobello mushroom cap stuffed with baked tilapia, blistered tomatoes, hummus, kalamata olives and seasoned with Za’tar. I had a side of quinoa & brown rice. It turned out crazy good. I made it the next day. DJ really enjoyed it as well and commented how good the house smelled when it was all cooking.

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I also have been craving tofu lately! Last week I made a medley of roasted veggies, vegan turmeric cauliflower mashed potatoes, and pan roasted tofu with tomatoes.

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I then bought giant collard green leaves and stuffed them with the above plus a dollop of hummus.

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I’m obsessed. I can’t stop eating these little guys!

Last Monday (7/10), I finally FINALLY was able to see one of my girlfriends, Sara. Our schedules haven’t been lining up lately, but they matched for once! DJ had to work super late that night so it made for a great impromptu girl’s night. I still had to work on Tuesday, but not until 2:30 pm, so I didn’t have to go to bed at 9 pm. She came over and we watched Bachelorette, sipped champagne, and ate cookies & chocolate. It was sooo needed.

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Tuesday (7/11) DJ and I worked our toosh’s off, but Wednesday (7/12) we both had the same day off! *GASP*. The same day?!? Yes, yes… I know it’s hard to believe, I was looking for the pigs flying overhead too. We were both pretty exhausted from the day before and decided to just take a chill day. We started our morning with a breakfast at Bobbie’s Cafe. This is a staple breakfast place in Cupertino. It’s your typical mom-and-pop dive with great staple breakfast options, phenom service, and friendly folks who appear to frequent the diner for their morning cup of Jo and side of eggs.

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You know a place is gonna be good when they welcome you with this many hot sauce options….

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I ordered their poached eggs over an english muffin with a side of cottage cheese. It hittt the spot!

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DJ says Bobbie’s pancakes are some of the best around here. I tried them, and definitely concur. I say they taste similar to Heidi’s– light but full of flavor.

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In the evening I made DJ a pepper jack crusted chicken with a sprinkling of pita breadcrumbs and pasta. For myself, I ate a collard green/cauliflower/veggie/hummus/tofu whatever-the-heck you wanna call it wrap.

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Since we graduated our FACC series class, we are only having one class with our Cohort every couple of months. We begin our research project in September. Eeeek! I am too pumped. I already know what our topic is gonna be, and I’m nerding out hard core.

They surprised us Thursday morning (7/13) ( with the most gourmet breakfast! I quickly snuck a picture when no one was around 😉 ) #DOITFORTHEBLOG.

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It included all kinds of fruit and bagels with cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon. I told one of my coworkers that every single tear in the last few months was worth it for this very moment.

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After a long week of work, DJ and I set out to Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street lateee on Friday night (7/14). It was a super spontaneous date night, neither of us thought we would be home as early as we were (I actually got out on time!).

If you want the run-down of Oren’s, go here, such a throwback post. It’s one of our all time favorite spots, and they have some of the best hummus in the whole wide world.

For an appetizer, make sure to order their original hummus with a side of whole wheat pita. Greatest life decision, I promise.

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I always order their Moroccan carrots, marinated beets and veggie skewers, and DJ usually gets their beef hummus.

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Funnnnnyy story: We stopped by Target afterwards to pick up a few groceries and a card for a friend. I picked out the card and walked around with DJ for the rest of the food he wanted to pick out. When walking back to our apartment, I realized I still had the card under my arm and hadn’t paid for it. I FREAKED out, classic “me” mode, and started sprinting back to Target hollerin’ to DJ, “I accidentally stole it!” When I looked to my right there was a Sheriff stepping out of his car in the parking lot. I dived into Target half expecting him to chase me. I’ve always loved the show Cops, just never expected to be on it. Nothing ended up happening. I walked up to the cashier and explained what happened, they couldn’t have cared less, but I clutched that receipt ready to explain myself as I left the building!

On Saturday morning (7/15), or any day I have off, you can almost definitely find my in my lil’ egg basket. I just swing, swing, and swing while enjoying my coffee, avocado smoothie, and oatmeal chocolate protein cookies. It’s hands down my favorite part of the whole day!

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DJ and I both had Saturday off too. DJ played some basketball with the guys in the morning and I went on a nice, loooong run. We also snuck in a few episodes of Game of Thrones and before we knew it, it was dinner time!

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DJ suggested Mod Pizza. How I haven’t been here yet is beyond me. They have them all over the US- anyone tried it?! It’s basically a subway for Pizza and it’s amazing.

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The crust/sauce/and topping options are endless AND they are reasonably priced. Around here that is a BIG deal. (literally). SUNS OUT, PUNS OUT.

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Deej ordered a Chocolate Milk Shake- I tried a sip. If you are a shake lover, you should definitely order one of these. Wowza! It was sweet, but the chocolate flavor was sending me into a whirl like the Cuckoo bird in the Coco Puffs commercial.

I did a Mini-Mod with red sauce, all the veggies, and fig balsamic glaze to top it.

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DJ had the Mad Dog!

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I couldn’t believe how quick the service was too!

After we devoured every bit of our pizzas, we headed to the Row to be out and about (like I said, I’m beginning to turn back into my old self a bit more!).

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The parking was super limited on a Saturday night, so we had to park on tippy-top of the parking garage. We didn’t mind though, the view of the Sunset was perfect, and we made it just in time!

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Anyone recognize the car below? It’s the one from Back to the Future! (DeLorean DMC-12).

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On Sunday (7/16) we went to Church. It was one of the first Sundays since starting this job that I actually had off and could actually go. It did something good for me to see all my friends. I missed everyone so doggone much!

After I did a quick grocery trip. I love grocery shopping- I just put my headphones in, listen to a podcast, and stroll the magical Safeway aisles.

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In the afternoon I meal prepped a bit- cutting up veggies, getting meats ready, yada yada yada, and then I made my faveeee oatmeal chocolate chip protein cookies. I cannot get enough!

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DJ has been asking me lately to make the Dixie Stampede soup. Dixie Stampede is a Dolly Parton owned show/restaurant in a few locations. DJ went with the basketball team in college to the one in Branson, MI, and came back raving about the soup. I whipped up a big ole batch that lasted all of three days.

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It is currently Wednesday (7/19) after working Monday and Tuesday. Today I am going out on a long run to catch up with podcasts and then I’m not sure what the evening holds! Tomorrow is pretty busy though, I’m excited to share all about that in my next recap post. Now that I’ve downed basically an entire jar of PB2, I’m off to run and soak up some beautiful sun! What are you all up to this week/weekend?

((BIG HUGS))

Blog Birthdays:

Major happy birthdays to Fallon @ Slacker Runner in July- an epic, motivational, and genuine runner who also has an terrific sense of humor!

and Niki @ Nikisthoughts.wordpress.com on July 18th! (I’m a bit behind, but I hope you had the most wonderful day!). I love Niki’s Share Your World challenges- they are super fun and insightful, and also spark some awesome conversation.

xo ❤

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Nursing: Peace in the Chaos.

Do you ever have an endless stream of thoughts that you want to share but are not sure where to even begin?

That’s me right now.

In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to divulge about the past couple months, my journey with nursing, about how I’ve both regressed and then grown in my faith, and how I have learned more in just a couple months than I do in a typical year…

I have a lot to unravel, it may take the full seven hours of traveling honestly. I’m treating this like a diary post, and I know it will be long. I will not hold it against any of you, even my loyal readers if you skip it.

But today I just need to write.

I need to write and record the transformative period that is my existence right now, and share the tremendous ways God has been moving in what seems impossibly bleak circumstances. I also know some friends and family that are going through this similar transition, so I hope to offer some encouragement to those individuals as well.

So, nursing. Nursing, nursing, nursing. I always compare this to an emotional rollercoaster, and all I can say is what. a. ride. While I may start off kind of explaining the gargantuan obstacles, it’s amazing what I have learned through it! This is not a venting session, but rather the most raw, honest insight into the life of a new nurse, and how I am slowly, but surely, learning to cope with the hardest year of my life.

Neurosurgical nursing is notoriously difficult, and our floor is no exception. I deal with a number of critically ill patients. For example, a patient’s nausea can be a simple side effect of their pain medication, or it can mean they are developing increased intracranial pressure; if I don’t assess it correctly, they truly could die on my watch. We have patients that have drains coming out of their brain’s ventricles and spinal cords. If they sit up without letting me know they are repositioning, they could drain out their own cerebral spinal fluid, and have dire consequences. I’ve had patients that seize, and I watch as the oxygen saturation plummets, while I hold them on their side. They sometimes go still and for a second, I panic- thinking for they are dying right there in my arms before their oxygen creeps back up. Fear gnaws at me, an unwanted tumor that relentlessly impedes on my emotional well-being and my life. I give so many medications constantly, so even when I triple check before giving anything, I am always afraid of making an error. In nursing, there is infinite room for error, countless scenarios that could potentially go wrong. It leaves me, a brand new nurse, perpetually terrified.

Every day I wake up to go to work I know I will make a mistake or have some type of failure. I was not prepared for this when graduating nursing school. I knew that I would have a massive learning curve, but I didn’t realize that making mistakes was part of the job. No worries- nothing that has compromised my patients’ well-being, but I always fail in some way. This isn’t some pessimistic self-fulfilling prophecy, but the reality of being a new nurse.

Do you ever have those dreams where you can’t run or talk or scream and feel stuck in quicksand? That’s how I feel majority of days on my shift. I know exactly what I need to do but one thing after another impedes me from moving at the pace I would like. Say I have my morning meds to give to four different patients. I have a one hour window to give those meds. A realistic, typical day goes like this- I step into my first patient’s room to do assessments and give medications. My phone rings, another patient wants their blood glucose checked and their insulin because their meal tray has arrived. I glance down wide-eyed at the twenty pills sitting on my workstation on wheels and can’t leave until I give these meds. Hence, my patient down the hall will have to wait at least fifteen minutes before they can start to eat. Overwhelmed. I go down to see the patient and give them their insulin, and then they ask for their food to be microwaved (understandably so). They also want to use the toilet, but it takes twenty minutes to get them out of bed, to the bathroom, and back. I wasn’t assigned a nurse assistant to said patient because they are technically mobile. They also want a bed-bath, their teeth brushed, and me to fill them in on the “plan” for the day- which is all totally understandable, but at this point I have to explain that I will come back as soon as I finish up with the other patients. Frustration. As I leave they ask for their pain med, so I have to go back out down the hall to the Pyxis, grab their pain med, and come back. I get a page from the front desk, “your patient in room#__ is de-sating” (an emergent situation). Panic. I explain I must leave although I have their pain med in hand and run down the hall to make sure my other patient is getting oxygen. I look at the watch. It’s 0830. I still haven’t seen my last patient and rounds with the doctors are at 0845. I dive into my last patient’s room and quickly grab a set of vitals because our sepsis screens are due by 0900. Overwhelmed. As I hand my patient their med, I get a call from a patient’s family member wanting an update on how their loved one did overnight, but I can’t remember all the facts pertained to which patient in report. Confused. By the time I get back to the other patient to give them their pain med their pain has spiked from a 5 to a 9 on that 0 to 10 scale. Incompetent. It’s one big game of whack-a-mole, and I feel like the weak little four-year-old that keeps fumbling with the hammer in an arcade. Except I have ten hours left in this arcade.

I have so many moments like this that I freeze like a deer in the headlights. I start to go into a panic, I can’t see straight, I can’t breathe, I wait for my knees to buckle out from under me. I can’t stop the tears from coming. I duck into the break room and let the attack pass. I suck it up and step back outside. I’m supposed to smile and act like I have it all together in front of my patients. Nothing is supposed to rattle me, but everything does. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so this is quite difficult for me. A colleague asks if I am ok. I wish they hadn’t asked because that question gets me. I can’t respond because if I do the tears will start again. I failed. I let my emotions show. The rest of the shift is one thing after another. I don’t sit down until 2 pm for a 30-minute lunch.

At 1730 the float offers me a break. We aren’t allowed to chart off the clock, but my charting isn’t done. I use my last fifteen-minute break to frantically chart. Exhaustion.

At 1830 I still have a list of things to get done, but change of shift is at 1845. I’m in my patient’s room in a hot sweat trying to get their antibiotics hung, their last meds given, and their lumbar drain checked as the night shift nurse anxiously waits for me to give them report. The family members asks, “rough day”? I failed again. I failed miserably. I let my feelings show in front of a patient. No one told me how much acting is involved in nursing.

I go home filled with guilt that I was so busy I didn’t connect with one of my patients. I replay the things I did wrong over and over. I can’t turn my mind off. Guilt. Fear. I wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat. Panic. I think I’m supposed to be charting, DJ reassures me I’m at home and not at work. I get texts from friends asking to hang out on my day off and feel guilt saying no because all I want to do is sleep. Guilt. Failure. I’m drowning. Exhaustion. I slip into a dark place, the depression that I experienced in high school is creeping back, suffocating me. Darkness.

This is the reality. I am not able to handle this on my own. And about two weeks ago, I realized it. I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to make it through the rest of this year unless something changed. I gave myself a hard look in the mirror and realized what was starkly missing- time with the Lord.

Since I’ve started this program I haven’t opened the Bible or prayed much at all. I don’t know what it is about stressful periods of life that I just stop actively seeking God.. it’s weird. I think it’s possibly this selfish defense mechanism, or maybe I just want to be numb and engaging with the Creator of the universe kind of doesn’t allow that. I think I also feel as though I don’t have the energy to invest or something, but it’s so ironic because all God does is renew and refresh when you devote that time to Him. I decided that I would recommit my mornings to Him, and it has transformed everything for me.

I decided to read 1 Peter. I have no idea why. I never spend much time there. I don’t even remember consciously choosing it. I read it once, then read it again, and again. God knew exactly what I needed right when I needed it. There were certain verses that blew me away; the Holy Spirit undeniably was directly speaking into my circumstance. This happens every time I spend time in the Word, but it nevertheless continues to amaze me each time. It is the living Word for a reason.

The first verse that jumped out was verse 5, “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power”. The idea that I am shielded, guarded, and protected by God’s power each day I step foot onto that nursing floor gave me a great sense of peace. I felt like I could take a deep breath. I actually had a conversation with my sister Andrea (who always brings the wisdom) and when telling her my fears she said, “Kenz they aren’t just your patients”. At first I thought she meant they have a team of doctors and other nurses on the other shifts that care for them. I quickly went to the defense “but they are my sole responsibility in that moment”, but she jumped in saying, “No- you are not alone, they are in God’s hands too.” Woah. So true, but why hadn’t I thought of that? I’m not alone. It really hit home for me when I read this verse. I am shielded by God’s power. He has called me to this place. I can’t do this in my strength, but I can in His strength (Philippians 4:13). And what a relief that I don’t have to live in intense fear. (2 Timothy 1:7). That fear is not in line with walking with the Lord.

Then verse 6 and 7 continued speaking into my circumstance.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 

Um, hi. This is the greatest trial of my life! Grief has become quite the familiar acquaintance. So naturally this verse grabbed my attention. Why does God have me here going through this painfully difficult time? Why did he call me to this profession? Why does it have to be so hard? I could have chose from plenty of other directions or majors, why this?

Those questions were answered by the second part of the verse.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

This verse woke me up. These trials that I’m experiencing will only strengthen my faith- which I can say, without a doubt, is true. If I wasn’t going through this time, I wouldn’t see how much I need Christ daily. I wouldn’t feel that I was hitting rock bottom with only Him to lean on. But then there is a responsibility attached to this- we are to bring praise, glory, and honor to Christ through it. The whole reason I went into nursing was because I believed it was my place of calling and ministry. In the two and a half months of working, I haven’t been ministering in any type of way. I haven’t been looking for ways to have conversations with patients about Christ, I haven’t been offering to pray over them, and I haven’t been praying myself asking the Lord to give me His eyes and heart and courage to offer to make a difference for Him. But when I read this verse, I realized my perspective has been all wrong. I haven’t surrendered this career to Him, and I haven’t surrendered this blessing to Him that He brought me, that I begged Him for. This career is not about me, but I was making it about me for the first couple months. That changed with reading this scripture.

The last couple verses in the first chapter that I underlined many times was verse 22 “… so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” And then verse 24, “For all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

This last verse might sound a bit off-putting in our human nature. But I found such great relief in it. The fact that this life is not about me, about my accomplishments, about my success relieved such a great weight. All I am called to do is love fiercely in Jesus’ name and bring Him glory through sharing this love with others.

The last verse I want to share (although there are countless others that really spoke to me) is 1 Peter 3: 13, “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?”. Since beginning this job I have had this strange mindset of waiting for the next shoe to drop (my irrational fear of getting sued or fired). I may not be perfect, but I can say I am tremendously eager to do good. This brought me peace- God knows my heart, He is my strength, and He will protect me with His shield of power. Wow. My perspective shifted. I felt like I could breathe.

On the way into work that morning after reading these chapters, I was ready and even eager to get to get started so that I could approach the day with courage be this love to my patients and my coworkers.

Here’s what happened…

I arrived at work and glanced at my assignment. I did a double take, convinced they made a mistake. I was assigned to the NCOR room (neuro close observation room). This room is where the patients require eyes on them literally 24-7, the most unstable patients on our floor. The nurse is isn’t allowed to leave the room, and if she/he does, then she must be replaced by another nurse, even to use the restroom. I didn’t think we would be placed there until further along with more experience, although we technically oriented for a couple weeks in the room.

A week prior, or even a day prior, I would have seen that assignment and immediately been thrown into a full blown panic attack. Rather, I looked at it and felt excited because I knew this was just an opportunity to rely on Christ, to love people in a scary point in their lives, and to grow my faith.

It ended up being one of my favorite shifts. I grew close to nearly all the patients and families, I took initiative, I kept a smile on my face, but I wasn’t faking it, even in the midst of the craziness.

Every shift since I have grown deeper with my patients. The best moments are the moments I get to pray with my patients. I had one patient who was not exactly kind toward me and wearing me down a bit emotionally. At one point at the height of my frustration I just offered to pray for him. He seemed stunned and allowed me to. This opened up the door to a great conversation about church and faith.

Another patient expressed to me her doubts about God’s existence. I shared with her how just a year ago I was in her shoes. I assured her that God would make himself known to her, and I would be praying for her. Tears rolled down her face and began welling in mine as we shared this moment together. That shift ended up being one of the most chaotic, one where I didn’t get my meds done on time, one where I felt like I was drowning, possibly the worst shift I’ve had yet. But even if I did many things wrong, I know I loved right.

The opportunity to love deeper had been there, I just hadn’t seen it in my selfishness, my distorted perspective. The shift loads are the same, maybe even worse, but I see each challenge as an opportunity, not an obstacle. My purpose for being where I am is clear now. My purpose in this life, this career, is simple, but I was blind it. It is simply to love. Not to be perfect, not to start flawless IVs, and especially not to be comfortable- because God very clearly calls us out of our comfort zones, and nursing is the furthest thing from comfortable. Additionally, no one has changed the world or a life while being in their comfort zone. So, I don’t wish for that. I will embrace the exhaustion, I will learn to forgive myself and look at each mistake as an opportunity to learn, I will be eager for constructive criticism and invest in a heart of humility. I will see this year through, even when I want to quit, I will not. I know I can make it because I have someone omnipotent holding me through those twelve-hour days, I have someone omniscient that can help me think clearly, I have someone omnipresent who will continually wrap me with peace in the chaos. I will fail at times, but I am following the One who never does.

Thank you all for your prayers and support through this time. I am thankful beyond words, truly beyond what I can express, for all of you. All Glory to God.

A Super Quick Update!

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HEY YA’LL!

Long time no seeeeee.

I have a sweet & short post about what we have been up to lately (well, relative to my other posts) . I received a text from my mom yesterday saying she was concerned since I haven’t made much contact with anyone the last week or so. NO WORRIES- all is well & good just busy, busy.

It reminded me that I haven’t updated the good ole’ blog baby in a while. I need to write an entirely separate post soon about what I have learned this past month in regards to nursing, faith, and dealing with some intense emotional battles. It’s been nothing short of a glorious, ferocious, awful, and beautiful rollercoaster.

That will come soon… I travel to Pittsburgh this weekend so I’m thinking the flight may be a good time to unravel that one.

But for now, for all our friends and family that are all, “How the heck are ya, where the heck are ya, and what the heck are ya up to?!” … this is my response!

I graduated from the FACC series class last week (Foundations of Acute and Critical Care Training). That means wayyy less online work, aka less free time sucked up, and more consistent 36 hour weeks in the hospital rather than sporadic classes mixed with shifts. HALLELUJAH! I learned so much through this series and while it was a major time leach, I am incredibly grateful for all I learned.

Alsoooo..come on now- this cake..

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. Hahahahha. I know it’s bad, but I couldn’t help but share. Our FACC leaders definitely have a good sense of humor (which I have learned is entirely necessary in nursing).

DJ’s doing amazing at his job working with the SJ Giants in marketing. I admire him beyond words with the way he has handled this job and the integrity with which he also handles the challenges. He has been an outstanding leader in our small group through church as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to our small group because of work, but DJ has been leading a good deal of the sessions. I am just thankful I have him as my rock as we go through this hard, hard year.

We both are in such similar places of navigating the season of NEW. New jobs, new coworkers, new schedules, new responsibilities, new frustrations, and new memories! We still hardly see each other but soak up every second when we do.

Many evenings I get home and go straight to sleep after a 12 hour shift, and can’t do much the night before a shift considering I have to get up at 4/4:30. But some nights when I don’t have to go back the next day I try to just soak up that alone time.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy those quiet evenings are in my feng shui hangout eating sushi, drinking some wine, and reading or watching a reality show. Call me basic if you wish, but these sushi rolls are ANYTHING but basic.

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A place near our apartment called Azuma can be delivered through GrubHub. I oscillate between the 49ers roll (eel, avocado, and other assorted fish), and the sunshine roll (lemon, tuna, eel, green onion, and avocado)…. with brooownn rice. Brown rice adds a texture and heartiness to the roll that I love.

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It’s all so delish. Probably the two best sushi rolls of my life. But I have a problem. When DJ and I went through the budget/spending this month I embarrassingly replied “Sushi” when he asked what each purchase on my card was from. Whoops. Girl’s gotta eat. #sorrynotsorry. #sushinotsorry.

Speaking of eats! Here are our other recent ones..

I have been LOVING my turmeric cauliflower mashed potatoes with black bean burgers, hummus, and parmesan asparagus. You know I get on kicks, and this is the most recent! I also love topping it with basil.

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Flat-out pizzas are always a good go-to. If you’ve never tried a good flat-out pizza, it’s definitely worth a try- especially if you are a lover of thin crust pizzas! Each flatbread is only 100 calories, and then I top with vegan cheese, tomatoes, basil, and oregano to make a mean vegan margarita.

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It’s also been a while since I’ve made Indian. When we lived in our Toho in Indiana this was one of my favorite meals to make! DJ loves it too. For myself I make a vegetarian version with dosa, idli, and tons of curry laden veggies. For DJ I make chicken tikki masala with jasmine rice and naan. Who doesn’t love naan?! If you don’t know what naan is, you don’t know what life is, so please stop reading this and go try some naan.

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Did you try the naan?!?

I’m serious.

Try it.

Now.

Since I am leaving this weekend, I made DJ tons of BBQ chicken, parmesan rosemary fingerling potatoes, fried okra, and wild rice.

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Alsooo, I may have casually ordered a jillion gallons of PB2 on Groupon. It was a steal!!!! Pb2 is so dang expensive, so when I saw this Betty bargain steal I had to jump.

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Ok, ok you caught me. When going through the budget and spending it goes like this … Sushi, sushi, PB2, sushi, overage data fees while blogging about sushi and PB2, sushi.

I’ve also been running a ton to deal with my stress. Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts rather than music. Just wait for the next Friday Faves, folks, and I will divulge some of my loooves. Anyone have favorites out there?!

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Last Thursday I got my hair did! Wooohoo!!!! The roots were so bad. I am in the wedding Saturday, so I felt like I had to be somewhat presentable for someone else’s forever wedding photos.

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After getting the roots all touched up and a nice (MUCH NEEDED) trim, I was craving me some boba. Luckily, next to the Aveda salon on Santana row there is an amazing Boba shop It hit.the. spot. Especially because it was way too hot that day. Raise your hand if you love boba?!

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FINALLY one of DJ and I’s days aligned for a day off last Friday. We started our day off by sleeping in until the cows came home.

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Then I was craving boba, … so… boba.

We also decided to try out Game of Thrones. Holy maloly- it’s entralling! Does anyone watch? Yes, it’s pretty dang explicit, but I know most shows are out of the gate to get more ratings. The story line is just insanely good. Any thoughts?! We love it.

For dinner we tried the newest addition to our little Cupertino downtown- Stein’s Beer Garden.

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It was one of those places that just has pizzazz.

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I loved the feel. It was beery unique! There is a literal wall lined with faux foliage in a modern, industrial environment.

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The staff was super friendly off the bat. While there was a bit of a wait, it was worth it.

We started with complementary pickled veggies in a jar. I don’t know why more places don’t do this! It was such a great mini app. I didn’t even miss the typical starter bread (GASSSSPPPP!).

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I’m not big on beer, but felt like I should at least try one, considering it’s in the restaurant’s name. The only kind I really like that I’ve tried are Sours. Their Mango Gose was surprisingly refreshing with the meal I had!

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I tried the roasted beet & smoked salmon salad with arugula, chevre goat cheese, and spiced pecans. It was fantastic! (Also- PS. I just have to tell my Aunt that she would LOVE this place, it’s so up her alley, so ya’ll need to come back soon!).

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DJ tried the Yucatan Pulled Pork Sliders with chili paste marinated pork shoulder with chipotle aoili chicharon, cilantro slaw, jalapeno, and roasted tomato salsa.

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The rest of the night we flew through a couple episodes of GOT, then we both worked all weekend.

Fast forward…

It is currently Wednesday evening, I’m on the heels of 4- 12 shifts nearly in a row. I’m not sure my mind is all here and this post probably has a million errors haha. I’m haphazardly watching bachelorette and realizing I have a million things do before 10 am tomorrow. Oh well. It will get done, it always does.

I leave tomorrow for Pittsburgh and don’t return until Sunday. I plan during that time to catch up on blog comments and your blogs too (although, I’m not sure the 7 hour traveling day in the air will have wifi?!)..

Monday is back to work and then I won’t see DJ again until Tuesday, but he works most of the time too. Also- my best friend’s baby is due this week, and I can hardly stand it. This time of life is wild, and hard, fun, challenging, and rewarding. I know we will look back on this year and see it as one of the most transformative for the both of us.
What are you all up to this weekend?!

xo ❤

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Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

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I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

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Isn’t she lovely?!

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My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

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Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

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My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

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Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

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Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

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After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

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After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

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