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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A New Chapter

There are far fewer people to read my musings these days, since cutting my social media friends (and therefore outreach) literally in half a few weeks ago. I don't mind though. I am beginning a new chapter in my journey, and have a feeling that the blogging and Facebook time will eventually fall to very little. 

Last week I began orientation for my new employer, a large hospital to the south. It was a gruelingly long week of classroom training, written and computer tests and some simulation scenarios reminiscent of nursing school. Each day I joked to Barrett, "What new hell awaits me today?" I miss Peds sooooo much. I have only questioned my decision to leave approximately 1,342,587 times (per day). The funny thing is that I didn't find much satisfaction in the job itself, but the people I worked with and knowing the good we were doing. It would not even be one iota of fairness to say that I dislike my new role, as I have yet to train on my unit. That begins this Thursday-Friday. To say I am anxious would be the understatement of the year. Someone needs to slip me a sedative so that I can calm my nerves regarding the big, scary hospital. I am sure it will be fine. Scary? New? Intimidating and overwhelming at times? All of those things, but also... just fine. My expectations for my new job are actually very low. I need a place where I can work a minimal amount of hours to make a certain amount so that I can go to NP school. I need to do it well to be safe and competent. 
Made me laugh way too hard!

I have not "bought in" to my new position or employer yet, and I suppose that will come in time...or not. Honestly, school is the #1 career priority for me for the next 2.5 years (and I have the complete support of Barrett), so if for any reason my job cannot accommodate my schedule, is too much and I can't cut further back, or just causes me too much stress to be worth it, I will have to go elsewhere. My new manager seems accommodating to school, so my fingers are crossed, but I do know that I have other options (possibly with the clinic, though I need to find just how tied I can be to them and still be placed there as an NP student), but if not home health and nursing home RN jobs abound, and while definitely not my first choice, certainly a flexible option. We have run the numbers again and again, and we need me to work some, but we need 24 hours a week at "clinic pay" and 20 hours a week or a tad less at "hospital pay" (and yes, there is a substantial difference). Currently I am scheduled to work 24 a week at the hospital and estimate 16 hours a month at the clinic.  In all fairness, if we cut out our travel budget and some "fun" money/savings we could have me work one 12 hour shift a week, but we are trying to change things as little as possible, which hopefully will be doable for the 1st year though perhaps not the 2nd when I am in clinical 2 days a week. Not only do I NEED to take school very seriously, but anything under an 83% equals a failed class that can only be repeated once.

So...there's all that. Praying for a job I can tolerate with a schedule that works for school. It seems like it should be fine, but NP school is no joke. It is estimated that I will spend 25-40 HOURS per
week studying plus an additional 4-6 in live classes (done via video conferencing) the first year then ADD another 16 hours per week in clinical the 2nd year. Do the math. It will be like a full-time job already. Add in kids, caring for a home, etc and you can maybe see why I was keen on seeing just how little I can work. 

Classes open in 4 weeks, but I can start studying now, so I am planning on it! Advanced Pathophysiology and Nursing Research here I come! You can follow my journey here. Prayers appreciated. Love to all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

As I move on: Lessons Learned in Pediatrics

According to my Facebook memories, 3 years ago today we had a lecture on pediatrics in nursing school. I was floored! Something that combined both my love for children, education, and medicine. I have 3 work days left after spending the last 1 year and 10 months working as a Triage/Advice/Care Coordinator RN in a pediatric clinic. It is bittersweet. I desperately want to be more hands on, while I love the population I work with and will miss it dearly (hence leaving one foot in the door by moving to relief so I can fill in sometimes). I know that moving to hospital nursing is in many ways necessary for my career, my skills, and my confidence as an RN. I know that just working the 2 LONG days will give me much needed time to continue my education to be a family nurse practitioner. I know that in just 1.5 years I will walk those pediatric halls again as a FNP student, and complete my pediatric training alongside my friends and mentors there. Maybe, just maybe, I will eventually work there myself again...but as a provider? I have definitely considered that, but I want to leave all the options open even in my heart, as 2.5 years is a long time of exposure to areas I have never even considered, and who knows if I'll fall in love with one of them? 

I am required to do rotations in primary care for women's health, pediatrics, family medicine, and then have a rotation in a specialty of my choice. Nurse practitioners are of course trained for primary care essentially, though you will see them also filling roles in hospital EDs and even as hospitalists. I am thrilled to see that NPs are being hired just about everywhere: neurology, urgent care, dermatology, cardiology, ER. It exciting to see that the sky really is the limit, and I wonder if I will love my position on the post-surgical floor, or if I will even stay there the whole time I am in NP school or if I will transition to another floor or a closer hospital. When I met with my new manager he mentioned that he is even seeing NPs make rounds in the hospital on various units (hospitalists mentioned above), and a trauma team composed of nurse practitioners. Very cool.

I want to enter my training as somewhat of a blank slate and be open to the opportunities placed in front of me, but I need to take with me the valuable life lessons learned in pediatrics.

1. Kindness is worth its weight in gold to a scared kid (I would venture adults too). Always smile, always find a way to connect with your patient whether it is over a sticker or complimenting their tutu. 

2. Appear calm and in control (even when you are not). These people come to us for help, for answers, for assurance. It is okay to show a co-worker you are nervous about what you are doing, but do NOT convey that fear to your patients. They (and their parents) are trusting you to use your skills and judgement.

3. Explain what you are doing. It doesn't take that much longer to explain to a kid that the BP cuff will give their arm a squeezy hug or that the alcohol wipe will feel cold for a second or two. In the know patients are less scared and easier to work with. 

4. Be quick when you need to. This may seem to go directly against my last statement, but there are times for all patients when you wish your nurse would "just get it over with." Let's face it, no one wants you to take forever or explain the heck out of inserting a catheter or giving a shot. Provide a brief explanation, and perform the needed task as quickly as you can while maintaining safe technique. 

5. Re-assure and congratulate your patient on small victories. High five! "That shot was scary but it's over now." I get that this needs modified for adults, but it still applies. "I'm sure that surgery seemed really scary, but now it's behind you and we'll get you set to go home."

6. It is okay to not have a clue about something but NOT to act clueless. BIG difference. I cannot know it all. I have been asked some obscure things by parents. They trust me. I am trained for this. When I don't have a clue it is okay to say, "That's an interesting question that I don't have much experience with. Let me research it and get back to you." Isn't that a much better answer than "I have no idea."

7. Advocate for your patient. Sometimes it's really little things. I had a teen patient one time tell me she refused to put on a gown. For whatever reason this made her feel vulnerable. Not a big deal. I indicated she did not need to, and I told the doctor who was also just fine with this. Peds patients (and parents) are often more comfortable having the lab workers come down to them for something that is already scary. I get that the lab gets busy and it is easier to have patients come up. I also get that I have told our lovely phlebotomists when I really felt they needed to come down to us, as it was better for the patient, and have made that happen. 

8. If you are tasked with telling a patient/parent what a result is, take 5 minutes to educate yourself to know what the result means. You will be asked. I have explained electrolyte levels, what CT scans do, various genetic tests, etc. 

9. Stand up for yourself. It is perfectly okay to tell a patient/parent "I need to get another set of hands to help me," or "I can't do this shot if you wiggling makes me feel unsafe." Know what your limits are, and ask for help as needed. Take breaks and lunches, and use your PTO. When a patient inevitably screams at you respond "I will be back in a bit, and we can try again. It is not okay to talk to me that way."

10. It is okay to cry. I sobbed on my way home the other night after a tough psych case. I can't fix it, but I needed to let those feelings out. I have cried after poor diagnoses (always even more sad in peds it seems when patients are just so young), as well as after talking to terrified parents. A great friend/mentor told me "It's okay if my patients even see me cry at times. It just shows them I am human, and I care."

Sunday, October 28, 2018


I sit on our flight back right now, travel magazine in my lap, husband next to me, and the Arctic Islands below out the plane window. I am ever so grateful for the journey we just made and the way that it has filled my heart. I will never forget those brief but oh so memorable five days we just spent in Dublin and Northern Ireland. 

I don't feel my words can do justice to the power I felt of the churning Atlantic many, many (1,972 to be exact) feet below at Slieve League, nor the spirituality felt in the giant, historic cathedrals. My favorite was St. Eunan's in Letterkenny, which was built in 1890. Giant's Causeway felt otherworldly as I looked at the strange, hexagonal rocks and the tumultuous surf feeling its misty spray.  Inch Abbey humbled me with the sheer age of the ruins. We explored all alone and I felt as if at any moment we could be time travelers, experiencing the monastery in all its glory. Our bus tour of Dublin made me giggle as the driver told of the Millennium Spire, built 3 years too late and often referred to as the "Stiffy on the Liffey" and provided opportunities to see many of the city's famed sites. Our castle hotel stays were grand, and the Irish countryside simply breathtaking. I especially loved all the stone walls and walls made of hedges. Our meals were delicious and hearty. Nothing fills you up better than Irish stew with wheaten bread. Speaking of delicious, The Irish accents everywhere were absolutely delicious to hear. I only joked to Barrett a few times that some of the Irish blokes could come home with us! Kidding. Mostly. 

Ireland did not fail to impress, though of course every adventure is what you make of it. 
Our favorite places were the ruins, coastline and countryside. Dublin was fun, though Belfast wasn't really for us. We had little time to spend so we crammed in so much. We woke to alarms each morning of our vacation and drove many miles. It worked for us to make the most of the time we had, though I would love to be less rushed next time. Hours spent in the car I got to reconnect with my husband. I was grateful for that as we lead very busy lives it seems between kids and all their activities, work for each of us, and the commencement of finishing our home. I received great news while on vacation, and in 4 weeks will begin a new job as an RN on the surgical floor of Riverbend Hospital. It was nice to have time to process my thoughts regarding this and school. 

 In February we do 3 days in Barcelona, 1 day in Morocco, 2 days in Malaga, and an overnight in Amsterdam. I will be a nurse practitioner student, so the pace will likely be frenzied coupled with homework... But we'll take it. Maybe move a bit slower, though sleep is overrated when there is a country to see! The plan for school that the program sets out is a two week break every three months or so. One coincides with the boys being on summer break in August and another in December. Neither are great times to travel cost wise, but we will make the most of it. We had wanted to do Greece but I really want it to be over a school break which changes things some. Greece is not affordable in the summer nor really what we want in December. Barrett requests somewhere warm and tropical, so I'm at the drawing board to try to meet all our requirements: warm, safe, possibly ruins, and international. We are looking into Costa Rica, which has been on our list, Columbia, Grenada... We shall see. Tropical travel during summer may seem silly, but it is also at its most affordable!

In the last decade I've been so blessed. I've prayed at the Vatican and lit candles in Christchurch Cathedral. I had poffertjes in Aruba, swam with rays, turtles and eels in Hawaii, Aruba and Turks and Caicos.  I've seen sights such as Chichen Itza in Mexico and Monasterboice in Ireland. I've had gelato in Rome and hiked to glacial lakes in Canada. I don't intend to stop anytime soon, as evidenced by the planning while flying home! 

Travel changes you. 

It gives you an appreciation of other cultures and natural beauty. It stays with you. It makes you uncomfortable at times, and it should. It is often a wake-up call to understand others, to slow down with nature, to leave work and the responsibilities of day-to-day life at home. Travel is a call to action at times, a rekindling of a flame of passion, a nudge to do and be better and to just get out there and try things. Sometimes flights are interminably long, roads bumpy and winding, bathrooms small and scarce while getting around. Sometimes the food is not mouthwatering, and sometimes you feel lost. Travel makes you grateful for home.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Calming the Chaos

The scene is and has been utter chaos since the second I woke up with my sweet husband bringing our near 100 lbs shepherd "puppy" to wake me. Stumble out of bed, gather enough eggs to feed a small army (aka my family of 4 with two growing boys), turn on the burner. I have been up just 1.5 hours and I have made breakfast, organized and arranged all of each kid's school fundraiser packets taking pictures of what was ordered and putting checks dutifully in each envelope which involved "covering" a few family members and coordinating with father of the spawn for his orders. I have done room checks to ensure my spawn are not living like the slobs they would be if I did not enforce said checks every few days (because we should all have a multitude of string cheese wrappers and sports paraphernalia in every crevice). 

I have re-stocked the toilet paper in each bathroom since apparently I am the only one who thinks of this even though I am only 1/4 of the butts in the household. I have begun the "special wash" laundry which is scrubs, church clothes, and chapel wear and requires just slightly more attention that the other loads of laundry that would make my mother's generation cringe (all colors and textures together all the time, because who has time to sort carefully?!). I have straightened each room of the house, because after a few days of me not doing this there is a pepper shaker by an Amazon return package, corn ears for getting kernels for seed from in the laundry room next to a drying bra, street hockey balls on the kitchen table next to photos for Matt's family get the drift. 

Side note: Why oh why do kids have SO much homework these days? It is a punishment to parents. I worked 10 hours yesterday and came home for the 3rd day in a row to help with 2+ hours of homework with overtired kids who had already had sports practice (not saying sports are more important...but can we tone it down???). Matthew is a perfectionist (God help him-no idea where that came from 😏), so his work is painstakingly done hour by hour. 

I have it good. In this chaos I am attempting to calm I at least have help. Matt unloaded the dishwasher and Isaiah did the recycling. Barrett made our bed and drove the kids to school. Bob (our robot vacuum and sometimes my favorite member of the family) is happily vacuuming the floors and was seriously the best investment ever and I may need a fleet of Bob's at some point. I retired to finish the coffee I had barely touched and to blog. Yes, there are still dishes in the sink I will tackle later, dusting that desperately needs done, plants to water and oh so many things on my get ready for open house in a little over a week list such as touching up paint (does it ever end?!) and cob-webbing the exterior. Again, though, I am reminded that I have it good. I get one weekday off a week to attend to all of these things and hopefully get a little time for me to write, to shave my legs, to interview with potential NP schools, to contemplate life. 

Sometimes I feel there is very little time for me. I know, I am a mom-I signed up for this, but we all need time. I need time to plan our vacations, and to paint my toenails. I need time to read. I need to overthink what in the world I should do with my life as I am always so undecided. I could write pages on that just to vent it all out. What is the BEST career for me? How do I be fulfilled AND get enough time at home? How do I do and have it all?

I am a big thinker. I need that time. I wilt without it.

How do other families manage I want to know? I do not feel as though I am an easily overwhelmed person. For the most part I tend to roll with what life gives me, but I also have AMAZING support and a plethora of blessings. I can definitely see how stay home moms have a full time job. All I ever think with my one day off during the week is that I need many more to manage things the way I would want. I keep looking at ways to cut back. My boys LOVE their activities even though we as parents are run ragged. 1 child in soccer and piano, the other in soccer, basketball, baseball and choir. I feel bad. I still say no. Isaiah would love to play ice hockey. He has the aptitude even, but the nearest leagues are Salem or Eugene. I had to say no. We just can't. He can play any sport locally and/or at his school that is offered and any instrument...but I can't. We can't work and get him there. We told Matt no to fall baseball and club soccer for the same reasons. I love that they want to, and I want to give them everything...but I can only be one place at once (kids and also my employer seem to have trouble with this basic physics concept). 

Life is great. We have so much to be thankful for. I guess when it is all said and done chaos is a by-product of a full and happy life. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

It's Okay to Want More: Thoughts on Authenticity

Sometimes I think I am a rare creature. I have friends, but few close ones, and I often feel very misunderstood. I don't mean that in a woe is me-I need sympathy way, because I am fine being misunderstood. It is more a statement of fact. I have NEVER felt as though I have fit in. I have always felt like an outsider for as long as I can remember. Does that surprise you?

 I was the shy bookworm in my early years. I even hid from family members. I was the outgoing queen bee in junior high because that is what people like, but craving alone time to recharge. I had a million good acquaintances but few actual friends in high school, being both very nerdily intelligent as well as a drama and choir kid, still shy but often mistaken as aloof, and boy crazy. What a combination!

 I always felt more at home with adults than peers (only child thing), and sadly, I remember hiding things such as my IQ score when we tested in school psych class (I am in the top 5% if you believe in IQ tests as a marker of intelligence- Intelligence presents in many ways though. I am language and people intelligent. I am book smart. I am not great at spatial awareness and struggle much, much harder to learn hands-on skills involving muscle memory or even just common sense, I struggled to learn to drive...But I digress) or how many answers I really knew to questions the teachers asked, yes-I did all the homework because I wanted to learn, but effortlessly, and no-I rarely studied though I lied and said I studied hard. With the glaring exception of math, I never had to try in school, not even through my master's degree, but I was embarrassed that made me even more different. I often acted as the dumb blonde. Side note: I tried in nursing school. So much to cram in...not difficult per se, but just tons of information to memorize. I actually loved the challenge. I guess I say all that to say that in many of my formative years I was embarrassed by my smarts, the things I enjoyed, and who I was. I say NONE of that to brag and I pray it doesn't come across that way...just trying to be real here. Remember that when you are a kid, different does not seem better, and it is embarrassing. I felt like an outsider. Side note again: Being intelligent does NOT mean having all the answers or automatically knowing what to do. It means being willing to seek the answers and wanting to know more.

 I don't think it ever appears that way on the outside to others, as one saving grace of my personality is that I am a chameleon. I can have a decent conversation with the drug addict the same as the doctor examining them and make both feel comfortable with me. There will never be any judgment from me, truly, as I know we all have varying tough paths to walk, and who am I to think I know what is best for you? I will advise you if asked, and I may even seek advice though Sarah fact-I rarely follow it. No offense to the advice givers, I just see a million sides to everything and overthink with the best of them!

I got to thinking about all of these things recently. It has taken me into my mid-thirties to be at home in my own skin. Yes, I am both smart and a ditsy person all at once! I both want to know all about you and want to be left alone. I am very contradictory...but that is OK. 13 Curious and Contradictory Things About INFJ. It's me. Last year I set out to know myself better and to be authentic to who I am. That brings me to my next point. 

It is okay  to want more. I ALWAYS want more. I don't mean this in a materialistic way though I do enjoy nice things as much as the next person. I mean, that even if I appear to have it all, I want more. I have my faith. I have my family. I have a man who loves me like crazy and (I am sure) a fairy-tale romance that sickens others even 7 years in. I have healthy, happy kids who are amazingly talented, smart and kind. I have a new home and a stable job where I work with people I love. I fulfilled my dream to be a nurse. I get to travel 2-3 times a year to far-off places. I want more. 

What??? How can I even admit that? Am I a disgustingly greedy creature??  Is my selfishness off the charts? Should I be ashamed that I am seeking even more in my life? 

My answer is no. It is okay to want more. It is okay to be true to myself and both be insanely grateful for all I have and also want more. I want to be a nurse practitioner. I can't stop learning. I love learning. I love books. I love lectures on things I want to know more about. I want to help more people. I want to go on missions where my services are needed in remote parts of the world and share my love and my humanity. I want to find a way to bring animals into treatment even more, even if that is just a side hobby, training Thor to be a visiting dog to nursing homes and special education classrooms. I want to teach again, to teach with passion about bullying, anxiety, and depression. I guess my goals of wanting more are mostly for me. I am insanely blessed and happy with whatever path my children choose, and am so proud of them as they grow. I love my home and do not need more, and even if something terrible happened to Barrett (God forbid), I would know that I had more authentic love in our time together no matter how long or short than many people ever find. 

For me, though, I want more. Well wishers have asked me "Don't you guys do well enough financially? Doesn't your husband make good money?" Sure.... But to even ask that question means you are missing a fundamental part of me...I do not wish to advance my career for the money. Honestly, it will cost me a lot for the schooling, so extra income is welcome to pay back loans, but there are easier things I could do for a raise! And no, the money is not needed nor even really a big factor. I am very thankful for that. "More time away from your kids?" people say. Yes and no. My kids are resilient. I would rather be a bit busier and have them know that Mom did not sacrifice her dreams, that women can be ALL things if they want-mom, wife, employee, student, and still do them well. I want to set an example that if their wives want to be professionals, that it is not only okay but encouraged. If they want to stay home and raise a family, that is OK too. So no, I don't believe my kids will be hurt in the slightest to see their mom work passionately toward another goal. 

In 10 years? I don't know. Maybe I will dual certify as a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Psychiatric NP or in Women's Health. Or Pediatrics. Maybe I will work toward my DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice). Maybe I will have grand-kids and slow down slighty! Maybe I will have my own practice somewhere or be an expert on a cause that matters to me. What I do know, is I will never stop bettering myself...because I ENJOY it. Because I want more. 

This is quite a rant this morning, and I have maybe repeated a few common themes from throughout the years of my blogging. I have shared a few great links below and in this blog if any of this resonates with you as well. What a difference it makes to no longer hear "It will never be enough to make you happy, Sarah. You think you are just so smart. Just dial it back," replaced with "I love your passion and perseverance. Your intelligence is sexy." A co-worker/friend saying "It is not for me, but you will do great, and I admire that." Another doctor friend, "we will always encourage you here."  If you are still reading, and have gotten nothing else from this, remember that your words may matter to others. Your encouragement not chastisement may mean the world. It is both okay to want a more simple life as well as to want more and reach for the stars. Can we stop judging and just be happy for one another and celebrate our differences? Can you do you

And I will do me. I don't want to ever again DIAL IT BACK. 

Some great links. I love this. Stop feeling guilty or thinking tragedy will strike! It's OK to Want More

5 Things That Happen When You Decide You Want More

Thursday, September 13, 2018

I Almost Have a Teenager

In 6 days I will be the mom of a teenager. Everyone always says that time is but a blink of an eye. That time goes so fast. It does, and it doesn't all at once.

I remember vividly the day that Matthew was born. Emergency C-section at 34 1/2 weeks. It was a Monday, and I remember that because the day before I was at church, singing my heart out to hymns, and he was tumbling all around his cramped living space. The next day he moved not at all. I went to work (I worked at a dental office back then), and I had some light spotting. I was concerned enough to call my OBGYN office, and we planned to have me seen after work. Long story short, as many of you have heard it before, Matthew did not move again all day, nor later at my appointment despite countless efforts to elicit a response-movement/positional changes, sugar, shock. Nothing.

I would love to say that I remember his first breaths, but he came out not breathing at all. His first breaths were delivered via ambu-bag by his father and the on-call pediatrician who in the weirdest twist of fate, I would work for briefly before his retirement last year. Time was not fast at Matthew's birth. It was slow. It was interminable. The hours stretched before I could once again lay eyes on my child who had been whisked away. It was eons, Jurassic, Triassic, entire periods of huge chunks of time that passed -it felt- before I could hold my baby three days later. 9 days later we went home, and the first few months of maternity leave with a child I was terrified was so fragile were never ending.

But then time sped up. He was crawling, walking, kicking a ball, Isaiah came along. More years passed and I was divorced and then remarried. We moved a few times. I remember the first soccer game, the way he held his baby brother, the way he reassured me (at age 5!!) when my heart was broken.  I remember him coming into my high school science class and watching a dissection when he was in pre-school.  His crushes. His hopes. His goals. His school projects. His face crumpling when Max was sick. I of course have more recent memories too, a choir duet, domination on the soccer field, basketball court, and baseball field, a weekend just with he and I when we discussed puberty and sexuality.

My baby is slowly (yet oh so quickly) turning into a young man. He is a young man who cares deeply about his grades, his sports, his pets, and his family. He is a young man who knows God (perhaps better than I). He is calm and stoic, intelligent and compassionate. He is talented and most of all, he is kind. So kind. I am immeasurably proud. He is also moody, sulky, and full of smart assed comments, and argues with his little brother often. He worries about his hair, his skin, and when his braces will come off.

How on Earth do I have a teenager? In 5 more short years he will be a man. I pray that he will be a good one, and I feel that he will.

I feel like a teenager myself at times. Who made me responsible enough to be an adult?? I still want to roll my eyes when people say dumb things. I want to cry and sulk, to hang my head and to flop on my bed. I don't want to do things that are boring, like work or driving or chores. I don't want to get up on time. I want to eat entire pizzas and potato chips, cookies and ice cream with no regrets. I want to run through the house crazily excited when my crush notices me (and quite frankly spend all my time hugging, kissing and talking to him...Matt isn't there yet thank God!). But I don't. I hold my tongue. I keep a steady job, a clean house, and responsible hours. I eat (mostly) healthily. Often I am far too busy to enjoy more than some stolen kisses at the end of the day when my crush (aka husband) and I are both exhausted. I put my sons' needs and wants ahead of my own daily.  Is this what makes us adult?

Regardless, I will have a teenager soon. It has flown by in many ways, and I am determined to make the next 5 years matter. To engrave them in my memory. To cherish them, to give him roots and wings, stability and freedom.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Dual Living So Far

I thought I would write a short little post to update you all on how this dual living thing with my parents is actually going now that each family has their own space. It seemed like such a long journey to get here, but we have been in the house (new portion) for a few months now as all the final touches have been getting finished up.

Before the addition, we had 4 adults, 2 kids, and 3 dogs sharing 2300 square feet (which doesn't seem too bad), and our family of 4 was crammed into 2 bedrooms. We had all of our things stored in the garage/shop, and shared the living rooms and kitchen as well as the laundry room. Barrett had set up his office in the garage amidst boxes and boxes of stuff. It was doable, but it was a tight squeeze and we were often at odds about who was going to use the kitchen or the laundry, who was in charge of cleaning what, etc. Barrett was constantly interrupted while working by a flow a traffic through the garage as that is one of the main exits my parents use. Tensions would simmer high when on my only day off the washer and dryer were occupied or when Barrett cooked up meat in the kitchen and my parents wanted to cook (and they hate the smell as they are vegetarian). Our 2 boisterous boys are indeed the apples of my parents eyes, but I know the constant NOISE of them was a bit much at times.
When we were just getting started, 1 year ago

Fast forward to now. We took over a few hundred square feet from my parents (what a HUGE gift, as was encouraging us to build here!), re-purposing/re-doing the 2 downstairs bedrooms and then added an additional 1700 square feet. I believe we have around 1900 sq ft and they about 2100. It is a BIG house overall at just around 4000 sq ft with 2 bedrooms, 2 master suites with bath, 3 more bathrooms, 2 laundry rooms, 3 living rooms, an office, and 2 kitchens. I know it sounds like a lot, but remember, 6 adults, 2 kids, 3 dogs! Our homes divide after the boys' bedrooms, giving us a 3 bedroom, 2 bath with office over on our side. It is plenty and has made ALL the difference in the world.

 For starters, each boy has their own room again (we had this in Brownsville, and I wanted to give them this again as they get older). It has given them each a space of their own and each room is as unique as they are from one another. Matt's is log cabin style, featuring his rock collection, sports awards on the wall and a small walk-in closet. Isaiah has bright blues, greens and grays, his keyboard, an industrial locker desk, and cool corner bookshelf. Barrett now has an office which he decided to share with me so that I too have a work-space for when I am in classes again. Since I average 4 work-days a week, he is alone in it mostly, and able to have a professional area in which to do his job. We cook over here all the time (well mainly Barrett, as he likes to) and do laundry whenever we want. My parents have been updating the rooms of their side, and I give them advice on colors and decor (they take some of it!). There is privacy to lounge around half my day off un-showered and on the internet haha, to watch what we want on tv, etc.

My parents once again have their privacy which we were encroaching on. They are cooking more and seem all around happier. My dad has moved all his exercise equipment into the garage and has thus freed up part of the huge shop. One section is an indoor area for boys to shoot hoops and play, and one part has Barrett's lathe, and machining paraphernalia and re-loading gear (Barrett makes things from metal as a hobby as well as re-loads his own bullets). I have an amazing closet and master suite which is what I wanted, and many areas to relax and read or study when the time comes.

The best part? How we all work together. Our whole family cheered on Matthew at his first soccer game of the season yesterday. We are taking turns with who makes breakfast and runs the kids to and from school. My dad is retired and Barrett works from home, so their flexibility is amazing. My mom and I both commute in opposite directions to work, but I know we are both thankful to come home after a long day and know that the home, kids, and pets have been well cared for. Nothing will ever be perfect, but this has been a huge improvement, and we are all very thankful.

And for those wondering, so far, YES the door between the homes is closed all the time! ;)
...But we see the "neighbors" often.