Saturday, April 23, 2011

#97 Spring has...sprung?

365 Blog Challenge: Post #97

I'd just like to verify that that is not sunshine in this is simply glare.
I don't know what the rest of the country is like, but let me be the first, or the 8,000,000th to complain about this spring in NY.  I can count the number of sunny days on one hand.  Scott and I have broken at least 3 umbrellas.  It is cold and wet and rainy and certainly uninspiring, and you'd think after the crap winter we had in NYC, Mother Nature would give us a break.  But we must have done something to piss her off.  Maybe it's all that pollution in the Hudson?  Anyways, the trees are budding, the flowers are abloom, and the rain keeps falling.  I am aware that Minnesota got snow last week, but consistent cold and rain for all of March and April?  How about a break?  Looking forward to breaking out some flip know...when we top our current temp of 55 degrees.  Stay warm!

Friday, April 22, 2011

#96 How to Succeed....

365 Blog Challenge: Post #96

As much as I dislike the dated musical, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", how cute is Daniel Radcliff??  Love him.  Maybe he'll even do an enjoyable musical someday.  And I especially like his American accent.  Good work D. Rad!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#95 Waffles

365 Blog Challenge: Post #95

Shortly before we left for my cruise, my husband took part in a short film and his work is finally up online! I just remember him coming home smelling like syrup afterwards....Great work hunny! Love you!  And doesn't he look great on film??

WAFFLES from Kate Tarker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#94 Getting back on track...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #94

So I haven't been a very dedicated blogger the past couple weeks.  Partially of it was exhaustion/illness due to exhaustion, and partially, I wanted to see what it would be like not to put so much pressure on myself to do things outside of work.  In life and work, I am a self motivator, but I am also a self-criticizer.  I should stop that, I know, but there's really only so much I can change so I have to find ways to deal with it, or get around it.  I find myself wondering how I would tolerate stress at work if I didn't put so much pressure on myself.  But, that's like denying me my natural instincts so, I continue on.  I thought maybe going easier on myself outside of work would help.  But then I am just missing doing the things I enjoy!

Anyways, the lack of blogging was a nice little break but I want to make my goal and now I am a good 15 posts behind!  So I'm getting back on it.

Also getting close to getting back on track for working out.  I finally was allowed to do the elliptical yesterday at physical therapy (yes, I'm still doing that.)  I'm a little sore today, but then again, was a little sore before I started yesterday.  But definitely building strength in my hips and legs which they tell me is important.  Wearing my orthotics is helpful too. (Oh yeah...those...).

Here's to getting back on track!

Monday, April 18, 2011

#93 Leeches

365 Blog Challenge: Post #93

As previously mentioned, coming back from the cruise, work hit me like a sack of bricks.  I must have built up my stress tolerance over the months, and being so relaxed from the cruise made me vulnerable to the stressful realities of nursing.  Either that, or our floor has been especially annoying lately.

I don't like to complain about patients (though doing so usually makes me feel better).  They are sick people, and they need our care.  It's probably the overwhelming aspects of the job that make it harder to put up with people's "idiosyncrasies".  I just find it very difficult to want to care for someone who acts more needy than they really are, which some people do while in the hospital. I understand it's scary and miserable to be sick, it's uncomfortable to be away from home.  However, in addition to the medical and physiological things we nurses need to keep in mind, it's a constant psych game.  Perhaps people regress a bit in the hospital, or maybe they feel neglected when their families aren't there very often.  But sometimes I feel like certain (definitely not all) patients are emotional leeches.  They drain everything out of you due to their psychological neediness.

Being a people-pleaser in these cases is difficult.  And not all the nurses on my floor put up with it.  But I am not one to get nasty with patients, and while I try to set limits, I sometimes get pulled under.  Leeches make you appreciate the patients who are self-sufficient, or who, for medical reasons, actually do need your help as much as they insist.

So please, the next time you or a loved one is in the hospital, take the time to be kind to the nurse, especially if she is being patient and compassionate to your loved one (as he/she should be doing!)  We need your appreciation just as much as you or your loved one needs our care.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

#92 Swamplandia!

Rating: 3/5 stars
365 Blog Challenge: Post #92

Perhaps something is wrong with my taste in books.  Swamplandia, by Karen Russell, is her debut novel, and has gotten tons of critical praise.  It was a Booklist starred review, it was longlisted for the Orange Prize (literary award), it got praise from Stephen King, Oprah and Carl Hiaasen.  But I didn't like it.

Here's the thing: It's obvious that Karen Russell is an excellent writer.  Her prose are suburb, her descriptions make you feel as if you're experiencing the thing for yourself.  But the subject matter?  While I really wanted to like this book, I just found it too absurd. ("Too quirky for its own good" is the description I found in a reader review that just about sums it up.)

The book begins with the main character, Ava, describing her life in Swamplandia!, the "number one gator-themed park and cafe in the area" (the area being the gulf side of southwest Florida.)  It sounded to me quite funny.  And at times it was, mostly it was just odd.  Ava's mother, Hilola Bigtree, who is the star performer at Swamplandia! has died of ovarian cancer at the young age of 36.  Ava, 13, (though it took me reading a review just now to figure that out) and her sister, Osceolla, 16, and brother Kiwi, 17, are left alone on the island with their father "Chief Bigtree", the family's eccentric patriarch who is determined to keep the theme park going despite declining numbers of patrons.

Finally one day, the ferry which carries patrons over from the mainland doesn't show up, and Ava learns that this is because there were no passengers.  Swamplandia! is becoming obsolete.  From here the story breaks into that of Ava, who at 13 seems a little too clueless to be believable (though she did grow up on an island away from other kids her own age), and her secret plans to save Swamplandia, and that of Kiwi, as he escapes Swamplandia! for life on the mainland working a minimum wage job at World of Terror (a competing theme park) trying to earn money to get the family out of debt.  In the mean time, Chief Bigtree leaves Ava and Osceola alone on the island to attend to some "business matters" on the mainland, more or less abandoning the two teenagers.  Osceola, a silly, yet caring girl, has found interest in communicating with ghosts and claims she has become engaged to a former dredge man who just happens to be dead.  When Osceola disappears, Ava thinks she is the only one who can save her from the Underworld, where she plans to flea with her dead dredge man, and dreary adventure ensues.

My problem with this book is that I felt very disconnected from the characters.  Maybe they were too out of touch with their own feelings for them to express them meaningfully, but I just found a lot of the characters odd, and wanted to know more.  Also, as mentioned before, Ava is almost unbelievably naive which I may believe of a character 3 or 4 years younger than her, but at 13, her naivety is questionable.

The one thing I will say for this book is that the writing of Ava's adventure in the last 50-or-so pages is excellent.  Without giving too much away, she begins to get disoriented from lack of hydration along with other factors, and you can sense that in Russell's writing.  I felt the path twisting and turning under my feet as if I was with Ava while she walked.  I felt starts and stops of consciousness and remembering as Ava fades in and out of reality.

Russell is obviously a very talented writer.  She was listed as one of the New York Times 20 under 40 (she is only 29).  But I found her subject matter a little too absurd, and her characters a little too impersonal at times.  I do understand the concept of showing and not telling, which I think Russell does well. But maybe too well. Something it just felt too disconnected for me.  I may or may not give Russell another try in the future.

Monday, April 11, 2011

#91 Zoe and Heather visit NY!

365 Blog Challenge: Post #91

As mentioned a few days ago, we were lucky enough to have my sister-in-law, Heather, and our niece Zoe visit us in NY last week!  They were here for 3 days, and they were packed full of dolls, junk food, toys, and plays! A 5-year-old's dream! (And very fun for the rest of us as well!)

We all took a 20 minute carriage ride through Central Park. We tried to ignore the taunts of the protesters who think the horses are being mistreated.  How could they taunt this cute 5-year-old??

Zoe and Mama Heather, about the time that Zoe said this was the best day ever.

We really ran Zoe ragged on the first day.  She conked out sound asleep on the subway on the way to get dinner in Soho.  However, for those of you who watched her video posted a few days ago, you can attest to the fact that she got her groove back after this cat nap.

Breakfast at Alice's Teacup!  I have been wanting to take a little girl there ever since going there my first time for a friend's birthday, and Zoe is the perfect age to appreciate the Alice and Wonderland themed restaurant.  She had her first tea party and tried tea for the first time and liked it!

Unkie Scott got Mango tea.

Aunty Lauren got this cup of coffee that was almost the size of her head (but delicious! Very impressed with their coffee!)

The nice gentleman at the front register let Zoe wear some fairy wings while we finished breakfast.  She was  so caught up in all the excitement that she didn't even seen Cynthia Nixon walk in as we were leaving (though she wouldn't have known her if she did. But Unkie Scott and Aunty Lauren knew!)

Zoe stops to smell the flowers.

Love watching Scott take care of Zoe. What a good uncle!

Heather and Zoe at MOMA.  Zoe lost interest in this museum very quickly. 

My favorite picture at MOMA, and it's of words.  Is this a surprise?  

Zoe and her Mama on the ferris wheel at Toys R' Us in Time Square.  Zoe confided that riding a ferris wheel was one of her dreams and didn't throw a hissy fit about not getting the Barbie car like some other girls we saw.

In the midst of all the lights and dazzle of Time Square, Zoe paused, put her hands on her knees and screamed.  She'd found Starbucks.  And here is Mister Starbucks who offered to take a picture with her after she got her Madelines (cookies).  Grandma Judy, you've created a Madeline Monster!

Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention while deleting some old cruise photos on my camera and accidentally deleted some FAO Schwartz and American Girl Store photos. :(  Also, while we loved the play, didn't take many pictures there.  We sure had fun! Aunty Lauren had so much fun that she developed a cold, but it was worth it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

#90 Firefly Lane

Rating: 4/5 Stars
365 Blog Challenge: Post #90

During our cruise, I read a book that my mother-in-law recommended to me, Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah.  Since the recommendation was made to me, I have seen Hannah's books and name popping up everywhere.  I don't know how long she has been popular, but I must say that this book was a PERFECT vacation read, and I really enjoyed it.

Firefly Lane is the street where Kate Mularky grows up, and where she meets her best friend, Tully Hart.  The story follows these two women through their teen years to adulthood, highlighting careers, men, and priorities.  While Kate dedicates her life to her children and family, Tully throws herself into her career as a broadcast journalist.  Both are successful in their own plights, though both question their decisions throughout the book.  I had to keep myself from crying as I finished this novel in the Fort Lauderdale airport.

I would compare Kristin Hannah's writing to that of Jodi Picoult, though perhaps this book addresses less of a universal social issue, and more personal issues which we each must solve for ourselves.  It is mostly a light read though there are emotional parts of the book. The writing is strong though not amazing, but the story is endearing as are the characters and the message.  A great break from heavy books, and quite the page-turner.  Thanks Judy for recommending!

#89 Miscellaneous Cruise pics

365 Blog Challenge: Post #89

Sadly, this is my last cruise-dedicated blog, but I am way behind in my blogging and must move on.  I had a dream today (I have been sick in bed with a bad cold) that Scott and I went on another cruise and he brought another woman, in addition to me.  That one wasn't so good, but the cruise is showing up in my dreams over and over again.  I think I had a harsh dose of reality when I got back to work, and I would give just about anything to be on the high seas again.  Here are some of my favorite cruise pics not featured in previous posts.

The night we went to the Royal Caribbean Singer and Dancers' show, we had the drink special of the day, Midori Lemonade. Yummo.  Too bad it didn't make the show much better.

Sheila and Caroline, our dinner mates. They were from England, just outside of London, and they were wonderful company.  Miss these ladies!

I'm secretly only including this picture because it's my favorite outfit I wore on the nautical dress from JCPenny.  My arm is covering the cute navy belt that goes with it.

Our room was cleaned up twice a day and in the evening, the cleaning staff often left us towel animals.  This one is a cute little towel puppy.

Scott accidentally decapitated the towel puppy.  He felt terrible.

Towel Sloth! This was our favorite. We kept it up for days. Our little towel Pachito!

We may or may not have had too much to drink this night...this is Scott's first drink...after drinking 3/4 a bottle of wine because I didn't like it. Whoops.

Artsy pool shot #1- This is actually the ceiling in the indoor pool at night.  It was pretty surreal watching yourself float. 
Scott got a little more daring with his poses.

OMG I miss this seat.  And that pina colada.

Last night at dinner with our assistant waiter, Suzette and our waiter, Dennis.  They were wonderful! However, they are to blame for the 5 pound weight gain.

I have decided I could travel the world by cruise ship for the rest of my life...if it weren't for having land-loving friends and family.  We're wishing and praying for a big tax return to put money towards another cruise....or we could be smart and save for the house that we'd like to own one day...priorities....

Friday, April 8, 2011

#88 Georgetown, Grand Cayman

365 Blog Challenge: Post #88
Our last port was Georgetown, Grand Cayman.  This was basically our shopping port.  Andy, the port and shopping guide on our ship, an extremely attractive though most likely homosexual Australian, talked up Grand Cayman's shopping from the start.  The shops here carry a large amount of designer and fine jewelry, and you can haggle for a good price.  I almost was talked into buying a $2000 tanzanite/diamond ring for $650 before reason came over me, and I decided that was far too much to spend on myself.  I settled for some beautiful tanzanite earrings for much less, and that sales person was much less aggressive, which I preferred.  The water in Grand Cayman was the most beautiful blue I have ever seen! However, after spending quite a bit of money, Scott and I were too tired to go to Seven-Mile Beach, so we head back to the ship.  It ended up being a cloudy day anyways.  

George Town, Grand Cayman

There is definitely a pirate theme going around this island.  We took this picture for Tyler, our almost 3-year-old nephew who is going through a pirate phase.
On the right, a mock pirate ship on the gorgeous blue water.

I'm a happy girl after getting my tanzanite earrings.  Really liked the sales person at this store, Effy.  She wasn't too pushy and gave me a good price.

I took this picture for my sister who is obsessed with Dunkin Donuts. Who knew they had it in Grand Cayman?

Random rooster in a church parking lot. Apparently didn't like our company.

The tender boat that brought us from our ship to shore.  I just liked the name.

Scott's beautiful new Philip Stein watch.  This is one of Oprah's favorite things.  It contains a disc that emits vibrations that is supposed to interact with your biofeedback and make you feel better and sleep better.  Scott doesn't buy it but says he likes how it looks.  He better because they are not cheap!
We're getting to the end of the cruise pics to share on the blog which makes me sad.  I am sad enough being back in the world rule.  I am having cruise withdrawal.  Can't wait for our next one.  Will try not to spend so much money on that one!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

#87 Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

365 Blog Challenge: Post #87

Getting back on track after a few busy (and fun!) days, here are our pics from Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.  We booked a white water rafting excursion here, and the river was about an hour from port so we got to see a lot of the country side/agriculture of Costa Rica.  We saw banana plantains, cows, horses, goats, bulls, a pineapple farm.  This was Scott's favorite place.  After doing the first two rapids of the river, we even were startled by a cow drinking from el Rio de Reventazon about 10 feet away from us!  Talk about surreal.

Our Mercedes bus for our white water rafting excursion.

Banana plantation.  The blue bags are around the banana bunches to signal to the airplanes that fertilize the fields that they no longer need fertilizer are are just about ready to be picked.  The bags also increase the humidity for the plant which apparently is a good thing.

Gorgeous Costa Rica.

Costa Rica

Our rafting river! El Rio de Reventazon meaning River of Disruption or Rupture.  It was just a category 2 (out of 6).  Next time we'll go for a 3 or a 4. :)

In Costa Rica, they bury the dead above ground because they get so much rain.

Costa Rican lunch! It was delicious! Chicken, rice and beans, salads, pasta, fried yuca and fried plantains and Scott's favorite coconut balls which were balls of coconut in a soft sweet batter.

Pineapple Fields! These pineapple may be used in Dani's Gerber baby food.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Our final stop? An EXPENSIVE shopping trip in Georgetown, Grand Cayman...coming up!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#86 A visit from 2 of our favorite ladies...

365 Blog Challenge: Post #86

You may (or may not) have noticed an absence in my posts the last few days.  That would be because Scott and I have been entertaining two of our favorite ladies: Scott's sister, Heather, and our 5-year-old niece, Zoe.  We have had so much fun!  Who knew there was so much in NY for kids to enjoy?  We've hit up the American Girl doll store, FAO Schwartz, Mary Poppins the Broadway musical and eaten TONS of tasty treats.  After gaining 5 pounds on our cruise, I quickly lost three after working 3 straight shifts and eating less.  However, I may be back to my post-cruise weight again after all the sweets we've had.  I'll post pics in the next day or so, but I wanted to give you a preview of my niece's talents- She's an independent spirit who loves to sing and dance so we were not wholly surprised when she broke out into dance randomly in a pizza shop on Sunday night.  Wish I had those moves!

Friday, April 1, 2011

#85 Colon Panama

365 Blog Challenge: Post #85

Have I mentioned how much I hate working three night shifts in a row??  The last two nights have been horrible.  I've had two female patients that are keeping my hands full and driving me nuts.  Naturally, they're in the same room.  I could ask for a different patient group tonight, but sometimes that makes me feel like a wuss.  Not sure what is more important: my sanity or my pride.  Anyways, I think reliving some of our wonderful vacation before work might help me simmer down a bit.

Our third port was Colon, Panama.  Scott and I booked an "excursion" from the ship which means it was overpriced but safe, so we didn't have to worry about finding a cab to show us around the city.  We got to the bus early however, and decided to walk around the port to explore before getting on.  Man are those Panama tour guides pushy! We crossed a bridge from port and took an escalator down to a pack of taxi drivers/tourists who would not let you get away!  I can't tell you the number of times we had to explain we already booked something for the day.  I am not good at being pushed and haggled, however, I understand these people probably don't make much money so I felt a since of guilt and annoyance at the same time.  Talk about being brought up Catholic.  We were warned by a taxi driver not to leave the port area on our walk because it's very dangerous on the streets.  And we thought Colombia would be dangerous.  We learned differently.

Our excursion was great.  We got to see the Gatun Locks at the Panama Canal which was much cooler than I thought it would be.  Then we took about an hour long hike in the rain forest which was shared by an old US military base.  Talk about some interesting, "Lost"-esque pictures!  Though Panama wasn't our favorite, it was definitely worth the stop to see some of these things.

Colon, Panama from our ship

Scott on boat, overlooking the port.

McDonalds in Panama!  This was about the time the taxi driver warned us not to go further away from port.

These locks will soon be renovated because they are suffering some wear and tear.  They are pretty genius though!

Workers walking across the Panama Canal on a teeny tiny platform.  That takes nerve.

The canal!  The water on the left has been raised so that a shift from the left can be pulled through to the other side.

Here is a ship from Greece waiting to come through.

Another ship carrying gas coming through.  This ship paid $50,000 to cross the canal.

This is one of the little mobiles that pulls the ship through the canal.  There is one attached on either side of the canal by cords which you can see in this picture.

This ship from China paid $384,000 to cross the canal due to all its Cargo.  Pricey!

Dilapidated barracks near the rain forest.

An old bowling alley across from barracks.

Here is a banana tree in the rain forest.  Bet you didn't know they had flowers?!

Termites nest.  Nassssty. the rain forest.

GIANT ANTS! (in the rain forest).

A sloth in the wild!

Colon, Panama. Maybe not the wealthiest place.

Scott enjoying one of Panama's best beers after a busy day.  He said it was very "hoppy" though I thought it was relatively smooth for my naive taste.

Ready for some Central American agriculture?  Costa Rica is next!