Monday, June 17, 2013

Half Day in Portsmouth, NH

I was off from work on Monday. After running some errands in the morning and having brunch with Will, I asked Will what we should do with the rest of the day. I think the scene went something like this:

J: What do you want to do today?
W: I don't know. Let me think about it.
(Will goes off to the computer for about 10 minutes, then comes charging back into the room)
W: Okay. Put on cute clothes that are comfortable. Grab your book. And a light jacket. 

I was thinking more along the lines of "do you want to go read at Starbucks" or "do you want to go walk down to the beach"... but Will had grander plans.

We got into the car and he programmed the GPS. I like surprises, so I turned my head as not to see the screen. When we started off on the journey, I saw that it was about 45miles/1hour away. Whoa! This really was going to be an adventure! I was thinking he'd found a new bakery or coffee shop to check out, but this was a bigger plan, still!

We arrive at Portsmouth, NH. Will leads me to a park and says "This is one of four things I have planned for us." More surprises yet! 

We wander around the park for a little while. There were a couple of gardens and several benches. Will said that he thought it would be prettier and he thought we'd sit there and read for a while. It looked like it may start to rain, and the park overlooked a lake with several large barges... not the most pleasing view. Even still, if we'd brought a blanket or something, we probably would have sat down to read for a bit. Instead, we decided to walk around a little while, then ended up at a little coffee shop Will had researched. We ordered drinks and read quietly for a while. It started to rain while we were there, but quickly turned into a bright and sunny day. 

We went from there to a little used book store a few streets over. It was a quaint little shop with a big plush couch right in front of the cooking section. I happily made myself comfortable there, perusing recipes and Michael Pollan books. While we were in there, torrential downpours and hail started coming down. The lights flickered several times, and even a few loud peals of thunder echoed through the city. In a matter of minutes, it went from bright mid-day sun to dark evening light, also dropping at least 15 degrees. We decided to camp out in the store with the employee, chatting about travels and the rain. 

Not a pic of us at the store... I didn't grab one there. Alas.

We waited out the rain, which lasted about 15 minutes, and then took off in search of our final destination-- food! Will researched a few different breweries within driving distance, and we ended up at Redhook Brewery. It has a pub attached, so we enjoyed a sampler flight and some pub grub. 

It was a small and unexpected adventure. I am so grateful to be with a man who likes surprising me and strives to impress me still. We already enjoyed our summer vacation, so the rest of our summer was looking pretty uneventful. After today's joy ride, I am starting to doubt my previous evaluation...

No Longer Newlyweds

We celebrated our one year anniversary over our vacation on June 2, 2013.

We celebrated by going to a sweet little French restaurant, Fleurie, on Charlottesville’s downtown mall. Neither of us had ever been before, so it was a fun new treat for us! We ordered the “tasting menu”, which featured 6 total courses of delicious, delicate French food. It was our first time trying foie gras, and much to my surprise, my favorite dish was the roasted pork!

Many people we visited with in Charlottesville and Alexandria asked what we thought of our first year? Does it feel like you've been married a year? Longer? Shorter? Do you feel like you adjusted easily? How did the first year go?

So here are my thoughts:
- In general, we feel like we've been married for longer than a year. Maybe it’s because we've spent most of our married life in a new place where everyone who knows us just knows us as being married. For me in particular, I've only ever been known as Jenn Killmer, or Mrs. Killmer. Coworkers, friends, and patients have never known me as Jenn Guthrie. This isn't distressing or uncomfortable for me-- it just is. But I think not having to frequently correct people or see my old name on several documents or emails or name badges made the change feel more absolute.

- Our first year was a smooth year-- marriage-wise :) We handled many challenges our first year, including a hurricane, a blizzard, car trouble, buying a new car, living in an old home, and the general challenges that come with getting oriented to a new job and new city. But with all of those adjustments, the adjustment to being married kind of went unnoticed because it was so smooth! We had to learn (and continue to learn) how to communicate and organize chores and bill-paying responsibilities. We had to learn how to spend and save money together. We've had to learn how to do devotions together and get on a schedule. We've certainly learned a lot through our adjustments, but none of them were really that difficult. We've had fights and conversations about goals and priorities and our future, but we recovered from those fights, and I think I can honestly say the fights were always constructive-- building towards something-- rather than just “blowing off steam.”

- Even after a year, I am still so thankful to not be separated from Will. Our year apart was definitely part of God’s plan for us and benefited us in so many ways. But we are glad that that season is done. I’m sure at some point I will no longer notice this, but I am still so grateful to come home to that guy every day and to wake up with him each morning. And despite the inevitability for more changes in our lives in the future, I am so much more at peace with facing those knowing that Will will be constant throughout all of those changes. I guess that’s the benefit of doing life together in a partnership. There are challenges that come with partnering with someone for life, such as prioritizing careers and financial goals; but overall the benefits of doing life together far outweigh, for us, the challenges.

- I can't remember a lot of specifics from our pre-marital counseling when I just sit down to brainstorm, but I have had lots of "a-ha" moments this past year of topics from counseling that just now begin to resonate with me. Most of this is about communication styles, and a lot of it comes back to me when I'm reviewing our fights in my mind (these moments are mostly me recognizing how I did not go about fighting the right way...).

- One of the biggest surprises for me (based on my expectations from friends & pre-marital counseling) was that I've drastically miscalculated my own expectations! I thought I'd be easy going about things that I'm actually a stickler for. I ruminate about things that I didn't think I'd give a second thought to. I day dream about setting up a home with decorations and organization (thankyouverymuch, Pinterest), when I had never really given that a lot of thought before being married. I care a lot more about being hospitable and having an inviting space for people. I am now less particular about budgeting than I was when I was single. And I thought I'd be bothered by doing most of the chores, when in reality we've had relatively seldom talks about needing to divide them & re-evaluate those divisions.

- My conclusion: counseling & discussion with other couples was very important to starting & guiding a lot of conversations for Will and me, but nothing really prepares you for being married to your unique spouse except to actually be married to them! We learned a lot of general principles and guidelines that are useful, but the application of every tip and technique can barely be imagined before you're actually in it. But the beauty of all of this is the security of marriage-- we can confidently discuss our issues and try new strategies because we have a lifetime to find the right fit for us. We don't have to mimic other couples or follow a specific book's strategy because Will and I are unique. It's been really fun to discover this truth in general and what it looks like for us.

A few more fun memories from our day...

We are so grateful for the gift of marriage and the gift of each other. Here's to many more years together! <3

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nurse Conference Week

Last week I had the opportunity to go to the National Teaching Institute's Conference in Boston, hosted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). It's an annual conference and I've never been to it before, but with the location being so close to home (read: not paying extra for travel and hotels), it seemed pretty hard to pass up. I went with several co-workers from my job and a few thousand other nurses from across the nation.

Here's the breakdown of my week:

- 8AM "Need More Nurses: Educator and Faculty Opportunities for Critical Care Nurses and APNs" I'll share more about this in another blog post
- 10AM AACN's President Address ... this was basically a huge pep rally for nurses, glow sticks and DJ included.
- 12:30PM "Power, Persuasion of Influence: Which Skill Do You Really Need to Create Change"
- 2:15PM "Sedation Management in the ICU"
- 4PM "Beyond Tired: Experiences in Prevention and Treatment of Emotional Exhaustion in High Acuity Nurses" I'll share more about this in another blog post

... late Monday night, William started having kidney stone pains again. He was up, rolling around in bed in pain, until about 2:30AM when I finally convinced him to go to the ER. We spent the rest of the night in the ER, getting a CT scan, IV fluids, and more pain medication prescriptions. I got home technically in time to shower and make it to the conference, but I had 1.5 hours of sleep that night, and I knew that sitting in a conference all day would not go very well. Plus, I was carpooling with a few co-workers, and feeling like I couldn't get home if Will called made me uneasy. So I stayed home with Will on Tuesday.

- first hand practice at home health nursing with my husband ;)

- 8AM "Endocrine Emergencies: Maximizing Outcomes" This was a lot about diabetes management and some other diseases dealing with the thyroid and adrenal glands
- 9:45AM "Hepatorenal Syndrome: Issues, Answers and Management in Progressive Care" I wish I had chosen another session instead of this. I wanted to learn about liver/kidney disease, but most of this guy's talk was about starting new protocols within a hospital. Womp womp.
- 11AM I met with some old UVA co-workers for lunch! It was so nice to catch up and hear about what was going on with my old stomping grounds! It made me miss my old job and co-workers a bunch, though. .I'm so grateful to have gotten some time with them!
- 1:15PM "Early Palliative Interventions for the Critical Care Patient" I'll share more about this in another blog post
- 2:30PM I wandered around the HUGE "Expo Hall", which has hundreds of product vendors, displays, and recruiting services. You get a ton of free stuff (pens, bags, sanitizing hand gels, etc) and see lots of the latest and greatest gadgets and technology in healthcare. My co-worker calls it "Hill Billy Shopping" : )

- 8AM "Super High BMI: Coming Soon to a Critical Care Unit Near You" I'll share more about this in another blog post
- 10AM "Caring for the Chronic Pain Patient in the ICU"
- 11:45AM "I'll Drink to That: Caring for Patients with Alcohol-Related Critical Illness" I thought this would be about the effects of alcoholism and withdrawal. A large percentage of the patients I care for all under those two categories, so I wanted to get more details about them. It was actually about dealing with emergencies related to alternative alcohol usage... such as drinking antifreeze or mouthwash to get drunk. Not was I was hoping for, but still very interesting!

As you can see, it was a packed week. I plan to blog about a few of those topics because they can create a great dialogue about issues concerning nurses and consumers of our healthcare system. In general, a lot of presenters mentioned or discussed the changes anticipated with the Patient Safety and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), but all of those discussions were founded on various hypotheticals... because most people still don't know what will happen when those changes roll out!

Anyway, that's what my last week was all about.

Happy Memorial Day weekend! It's chilly up here, but supposed to warm up tomorrow. I'll be hanging out with patients for the holiday, and then our anniversary trip/vacation starts at 3:31PM on Thursday : )

Monday, May 13, 2013

Back At It

Sorry for the radio silence recently. It’s been a difficult winter. We have had lots going on with school for Will (by far his hardest semester), a few short family visits to VA and TX, and some rough winter weather.

I never thought I had Seasonal Affective Disorder, but this winter made me doubt that. I know this winter was especially difficult... Blizzard Nemo is not a routine occurrence around here... so it may not be the best context for my self-diagnosis. Even so, I didn’t realize how much I was craving spring weather and the opportunity to spend time outside until I felt like I deserved it. When Easter rolled around, I was more than ready to don a floral dress and celebrate new life in Jesus and in nature! But the chilliness continued. More snow. More shoveling (my sweet William regularly woke up extra early to shovel our parking area for me). More stressful commutes and cursing my low-to-the-ground Mini Cooper.

The commutes into work were wearing on me, and I didn’t even realize it. I would show up to work, grateful to be on-time(ish) and alive, but still very stressed out. I feel like it took me a solid hour to come down from the stress of the drive in. By then, I’m well into the busiest part of my day, and I would feel heavy with stress. My work days were no more stressful than usual, but my baseline stress level was so much higher from the weather that it took very little to put me “over the edge”. I would try to keep it together at work, not punishing my co-workers or patients with my attitude, but inevitably the stress would come out at home. I was short tempered and quick to despair about things. I just felt very … unlike myself.

Then... spring came :) Glorious spring. I felt lighter and lighter as the days grew brighter earlier each day. Not only am I driving on clear, non-snow-covered roads, but I can wear sunglasses and have the windows down. I listen to the news on the radio or a sermon on a CD, and I actually look forward to my commutes in the morning now. I’m so grateful for that change in heart and attitude. Learning this about myself was important, so hopefully I can anticipate this next year and be more mindful about counteracting the effects (especially for my poor, patient, sympathetic husband.)

So rather than narrating that dreary season on this blog, I thought I’d just skip it and do a few short recaps of fun things we did and what’s ahead for us! Here’s a preview of some posts to come:

- How We Handled Blizzard Nemo
- Celebrating Grandma Killmer’s 90th Birthday in Texas
- What’s Next for Will and Academia
- We Bought a New Car!
- Summer Plans (weddings, graduations, and short trips ahead!)
- Our Anniversary Trip to C’ville
- Thoughts on No Longer Being a Newlywed

I'll try to be more diligent about taking pictures this summer. I can't believe nearly a year has gone by since we've gotten married, moved up north, and started this season of our lives. I wish I had documented it better, especially via photos. So, while this is a picture-less post, I will attempt to take and incorporate more photos of our journeys.

More to come!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Disposable Wedding Cameras: Candid Characters

More treats from our disposable cameras. We are surrounded by interesting characters :)

The gold is in the lower row faces.


I'd recognize that bald head and quizzical face anywhere. 

So much personality. (Nancy, this kills me)

For some reason, I picture this as part of some Taylor Swift CD cover...

Hey girl heyyyyy!

Will's church buddies & their ladies with their youth pastor & his lady. So much history!

Was the party that draining, Mitch?



One guy on the right looks uncomfortable.
The other two are making me uncomfortable...

Um, THANK YOU for this gift of a picture.

Look at that FACE!

This was the only photo of my CCU girls! Y'all look good in not-scrubs :)

At least one person utilized those cameras...

The sassiest candid shot of them all. (I'm talking to you, Ian)

Note the amazing camera slung across his shoulder, but he's going in for the shoot with that dandy little disposable.

Strike a  pose, Mae Mae.

Wedding present for us, Caleb? 

GQ, we're ready. 

Eventually I'll put up some of our favorite professional wedding photos in a post or two. 

In other news, we had a splendid Christmas at home in Virginia, getting to visit with both of our families! When we returned, MA greeted us with a winter storm and mice in our pantry. Will is in the midst of his January-term class about World Missions, and I'm back at work, caring for the flu-ravaged Massachusetts residents. We are planning a few fun trips and adventures this semester, so you'll see some posts with those in the coming months.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Disposable Wedding Cameras: New Perspectives

I finally took the disposable cameras to CVS to be printed. A few notes:
- The CVS near us didn't go to great lengths to do a decent job of these... but here they are, all the same.
- In general, I don't think I'd recommend using these to future brides. The lenses get scratched easily, finger prints are on a lot of them, and the only decent ones are those taken outside. I'm sure they're fun for the guests, but I don't think we gleaned a lot of "keeper" photos from these 15 cameras.
- Even though the quality isn't great, and there aren't a lot of photos I'd have printed and framed, I'm really grateful for some of the ones I've gotten. 

I'll have a another post with more photos, grouped into another category. These show a lot of parts of our reception that Will and I didn't get to enjoy or perspectives that we missed because the celebration was all such a blur!

Without further ado...

Friends signing the quilt squares my mom put together as a "guest book" for us

I never saw the large flower displays (on the left), even though there was much discussion about them with the florist. So pleased!

Cutting the cake! (view from behind)

I love this picture! Boololly (Will's grandmother) next to the table honoring Will's grandfather with his "3:00 Chocolates"

Close up of the table.

Sneaky groomsmen trashing/decorating Will's car. We STILL have that heart confetti in the car...

Oh dear...

Bringing out our cake!!

Get that topper up there.

People actually enjoying the party! We never made it the food tables, and we got to visit with so few people. Glad people were full and happy at the end!

Outdoor seating... never saw it, but it sounds like a lot of people enjoyed the perfect weather we had on our special day.

Get that iPhone in there.

Standing during toasts. Love those flowers again!

Dance dance dance

More to come!