Monday, January 31, 2011

Facebook [Love/Hate]

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love that it allows me to keep in touch with family and friends (I'm not a phone person), share pictures with people, play mindless games, and stalk the occasional ex-boyfriend. It's also nice to be able to see how distant relatives and former classmates are doing and what they've accomplished since I last saw them.

On the flip side, I truly hate the website. The developers are always changing things and trying to make it "new and updated" while they're actually just making it a frustration to relearn. I get friend requests from people who haven't talked to me in years, and still won't even after I accept the request (which is why they end up deleted a month later when I get super irritated with it). And most of all, it screws with the privacy settings on a regular basis and never informs me that anything has changed. Maybe I'm just paranoid (and I won't deny it if so accused), but it feels like they're trying to sneakily share everyone's information with the entire world just to make an extra buck and that annoys the crap out of me. I think the most recent news article stated that FB would be using people's status updates for advertising. I mean, huh?

Then again, where else can I constantly know what those closest to me are doing, see pictures from neat vacation spots, and share funny pictures that I steal from Failbook or The Frisky? I guess no matter how much I hate it, I just can't break my addiction to it...not yet anyways.

How I feel every time I sign in to my account...


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shutterfly

Every year I usually custom design a calendar through Shutterfly. This is the first year I didn't end up making one, mainly because I was too busy with nursing school to take any new pictures. However, I still get coupons from them all of the time because I'm a "frequent flier" and I decided to take advantage of the past two [coupons]. The first one was an offer for a free 20 page photo book if I paid for the shipping ($7). The second coupon was for 1 free Valentine's Day card and although I'm not a fan of that holiday, I couldn't resist something else free. I considered ordering multiple ones to mail out, but with money being tight I'll just frame and enjoy this one! I already received the photo book and I absolutely love it. It's hardcover and the pages appear to be very high quality, not to mention the pictures all printed well. I'm waiting on the Valentine's Day card, but am adding a picture of it below along with the cover of the photo book. I definitely recommend Shutterfly to anyone who likes to make custom photo items. The quality of everything I've ever gotten from them has been very high and the shipping prices are reasonable.

Photo book:
Valentine's Day card:

Minimizing and organizing

Today begins the week in which I plan to minimize and organize my life. I've been putting it off for years, but now that I'm done with school (for now) and don't work for several more weeks, I can't find any other excuses. My goal is to throw away and/or donate at least 50% of my belongings and then organize the remaining 50% so that I can find things when I need them; this especially applies to financial-related items which seem to always go missing.

This week is also the time when I need to get my Weight Watchers more on track. Last week while I was traveling I completely blew off my points and the result was an obvious gain in weight, which is so not the idea behind joining WW in the first place! My elliptical has also spent months gathering dust and serving as a glorified coat rack, so that's something that needs to change too. My 31st birthday is coming up and the way I see it, if I'm not going to have kids then I shouldn't look like I have.

I'm also continuing to enjoy having time to read. I didn't do much last week due to other things going on, but last night I started reading "The World Without Us" by Alan Wesiman. It was recommended to me by one of my mom's coworkers and it sounded like a fascinating book, so I'll let everyone know how I liked it (or not).

Speaking of, I thoroughly enjoyed recently reading "Horse Soldiers" by Doug Stanton and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys non-fiction and/or military-type books. It's about several Special Forces ODA's (along with some Air Force and CIA) who were sent to Afghanistan right after 9/11 to help some of the local tribes push back the Taliban from the lands they had taken. The only catch was, the SF soldiers had to do it on horseback (and we're not talking Thoroughbreds). I'm not usually a big non-fiction fan, but I LOVED this book and, as the cliche goes, actually had trouble putting it down.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nashville

My mom asked me to accompany her to Nashville, TN for an UMCOR teaching session since I don't have all of that much going on these days! I started to bum out and stay home, but Alister told me to get my butt out of the house and go do something, so I decided to go if anything to give him a break from me appearing to live on the couch. We arrived in Nashville yesterday afternoon and went straight to the UMCOR office for a meeting. By the time we left yesterday evening, it was dark, cold, and pouring rain. I've heard Nashville is pretty but the sights were drowned out...literally.

We went to dinner with one of my mom's coworkers and her daughter, and it was not only a great restaurant but a truly enjoyable and relaxing time. The restaurant was a cute, local little French cafe and had AMAZING food. I feasted on some wine (of course), goat cheese and artichoke fondue, their fresh made bread and honey butter, a strawberry and pecan salad, and a pastry filled with spinach, fennel, and ricotta. All of that was topped off with a triple layer flourless chocolate torte/cake and that successfully aided me in ruining my Weight Watchers points for the day...tenfold.

After dinner we drove back to my mom's coworker's brother's house (did I even write that correctly?), drank some more wine (what can I say?), and got some much needed sleep. This morning we awoke to several inches of fresh snow that luckily was not sticking to the pavement and as of now have returned to the center for another meeting. Since I have absolutely nothing to do on this trip other than keeping my mom awake when she drives, I'm spending this free time catching up on old episodes of Grey's Anatomy and trying to decide which book I'd like to start reading next. It's a tough life but someone has to do it. I'll be missing the freedom once I start working, but I definitely won't miss the lack of funds!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend

Over the weekend my sister, brother-in-law, and future godfather to Baby Fetus came to visit. It was an enjoyable weekend filled with too much eating and lots of movie watching. My sister and BIL treated me to a relaxation massage on Saturday and it was, hands down, the best massage ever. The last massage I received was on the cruise ship last spring and the girl just did a lazy half-ass job. Prior to that I went for a massage at student health after my car accident. Huge mistake. The guy had poofy hair, bad breath, and a lazy eye...and he creeped me out (I don't even want to re-live it enough to write about it). I couldn't believe how much I just wanted to climb off the table, run out, and shower for hours. Regardless, this one was awesome and I'm incredibly thankful to them for getting me one.

We also watched quite a few movies (hey, we're couch potatoes). Among those: "Grown-Ups" (great movie although not as funny as expected based on the previews), "Salt" (very enjoyable action movie with Angelina Jolie), "A-Team" (have seen it before but loved it enough to watch it again), "Eat Pray Love" (I hated the book but gave the movie a chance...it left much to be desired), and "Piranhas" (the name itself should say it all...if not, well, I can't believe people are able to make shit that bad anymore).

There was also a decent amount of pizza, sausage dip, and sushi consumed...all of which are awesome foods and so bad for my Weight Watchers program. At least I stick to it 75% of the time! Anyways, I had a good time with some of my favorite people and was glad I got to spend time with Alex and Kris before they move cross-country.

Tomorrow I'm headed to Raleigh followed by Winston Salem and then Nashville (unless there are massive amounts of snowfall occurring). It will be nice to get out of the house for a little while because being unemployed has it's downfalls...one of which is boredom. I actually prefer to work; who would have thought? After my short trip I'm  going to attempt to clean out my house and de-clutter my life. Key word is attempt. We'll see how that goes.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's official...

...I am officially an RN. Let the exciting, stressful, interesting, tiring, and frustrating world of being a nurse begin!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boards

Today I took my nursing boards
It was more traumatizing than I thought
I'll be back on Friday
To tell everyone if I passed or not.

Sigh.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

BBC's Top 100 Novels and Others

While reading a friend's blog, I noticed that she was working her way through the BBC's Top 100 Novels. Now that I'm finished with school (for now) I'm realizing I'll have plenty of time to read and have been looking at different "Top #" book lists to get some ideas. I won't stick solely to the BBC one, but I think I will definitely be pulling quite a few from it and listing them on the side once I've read them. For ones that are newly read, I'll let everyone know what I thought.

Also, because I have a short attention span, I'm going to take ideas from this neat book I found on amazon in addition to Amazon's Top 100 Editor's Picks.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Burnt Out

I've been diligently studying for my nursing boards daily since last Monday. I'm managing to average around 7 hours a day of study time which includes reviewing books/notes and taking around 400-500 practice questions. Although I'm reviewing some good material, it also means that the flame is dying quickly. The big day is this coming Wednesday and even though I dread it, I would also love for it to be over and done with.

For those that don't know how the test works, it's given on computer and I have a total of 6 hours to take it. The minimum number of questions is 75 and the maximum is 265. When I get to 75 questions, the computer will decide if I'm a genius (pass) or a moron (fail); if it can't determine either, it will keep giving me questions until "it" can make a decision...then the test cuts off. I'm hoping for only 75 (genius status) but am preparing myself for all 265. I have trouble making decisions on a daily basis so I can only imagine how hard it will be for something else to make a decision about me!

The most stressful part is that I have to wait 48 hours to look up my results online, which means I will be a disheveled disaster for 48 hours. If you're reading this, please just cross your fingers for me...and toes...and anything else you have that crosses.

My ever-evolving study plan...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quick updates

I haven't already forgotten my blog, I've just been studying 7-8 hours a day for my nursing boards which are coming up next week. Just a few quick updates since my memory won't last long enough to think of these later in the week:

-I found out today that my sister, brother-in-law, and Baby Fetus will be moving to Washington state in 2 months. On one hand I'm excited for them b/c I know it's something my BIL really wanted...on the other hand I'm sad b/c I wanted to see Baby Fetus born and going there means my BIL will be deployed sooner.

-I took my cat to the vet yesterday due to some discomfort in his rear end and he ended up having an abscessed ruptured anal gland. Needless to say, it's not pretty. The vet had to open it up and drain it, and they usually leave the "hole" open to air. Now my poor cat is walking around with 2 holes on his backside and I have to put towels everywhere he lays to prevent blood from getting on things- not to mention he HATES getting his oral antibiotics and pain medications. I do believe that all four of my pets are on daily medications right now. Sigh.

Other than those two things, there's not much going on aside from studying. I'm reading, taking questions, taking more questions, and sleeping. I will be so thankful when this is all over. Hopefully I pass the first time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Not deep???

Over time, I've had several people tell me that my blog doesn't tend to come off as "deep", "educated", "riveting", or "thought provoking" and ask why this is. My instinct is to say because I'm none of the above, but the truth is, it's because I don't want it to be. My blog is whatever I feel like writing about at the moment, and with all of the "flight of ideas" that go on in my head almost 24/7, I'm doing good putting anything down for others to read as cheap entertainment when they're bored or procrastinating. If someone wants me to write about something specific, let me know and I'll try. Otherwise, be satisfied reading my jumpy gibberish or don't read it at all. Might I recommend NPR instead?

Baby Shower

The baby shower for my sister on Saturday ended up being a success. I'm fairly sure both the guys and gals had an enjoyable time and everything ran smoothly. Alex & Kris ended up with a LOT of nice baby items in addition to a hefty amount of Target gift cards. They were talking about it earlier today and I think are going to be able to afford everything they needed (furniture-wise) from just the shower. It was great to be able to see such a variety of people; family, old neighbors, former coworkers, friends, and godparents (to name a few) along with meeting some new faces.

The other 2 hosts and I had guests play several games, and were even able to convince the guys to participate in some- mainly the "Guess What Candy Bar is Melted in the Diaper" and "Chocolate Milk Chug Contest". As for food, there was plenty of my dad's home cooked chili along with some fabulous cupcakes, cookies, and brownies. A few pictures from the shower are below...enjoy (the bottom two are by Alex's friend Tiffany)!

The expectant mom and I with a couple of former PetsMart coworkers...
Alex, Kris, and the soon-to-be Grandparents (Kris' side)...
Guessing the melted candy bar in the diaper (they handled this well!)...
Smelling the melted candy bar first?
Found the jungle animal decorations at Party City and they were great!
Disappearing cupcakes...
Guessing the baby food flavor...
Either scrabble or guess the missing nursery rhyme word...
The happy expecting couple...
Getting ready to chug some chocolate milk out of baby bottles...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Regression and stuff

Yesterday I decided to be 16 again. Unfortunately, I couldn't do anything about regressing to my 16 year old body (minus the acne) but I did take some time to enjoy some of the things I did back in high school...namely watch silly teen movies and play video games. I was supposed to be at a review for my nursing boards, but we took a "predictor" exam at the end of last semester and it determined that my chance of passing is 99%. With only 1% against me I made the executive decision to do most of my studying at home. I did not do any of that studying yesterday however.

Instead, I watched the movie "Vampires Suck". I didn't know if it really would suck, like a lot of those spoof films do, or if it may actually be funny as the previews seemed to lead me to believe. I laughed my ass off. I am not a fan of the Twilight movies (although I do enjoy the books) b/c the acting, to me, is horrible and it's overfilled with angsty teenage drama...with some blood sucking thrown in. Needless to say, "Vampires Suck" did an awesome job of mocking the hell out of the Twilight films.
After watching the movie, Alister and I decided to play Super Mario Bros. on the Wii. A friend of mine from nursing school lended it to me and it reminds me of how much I enjoyed playing Mario on everything from the original Nintendo up through Nintendo 64 (what can I say? I've always liked video games). We spent HOURS trying to beat the various boards and worlds and had a lot of fun and laughs doing so.
Today I actually got up and went to my NCLEX review class...or part of it. I can't help it; I sat through 2 1/2 hours only to have our instructor (who really is a very smart woman) only go through 24 sample questions. I can answer about 200 sample questions on my own at home. So...I snuck out (with others), ran some errands, and am now taking a brief break before jumping back in to even more practice questions. I cannot wait for this all to be over!

Tomorrow I'm heading to Raleigh...again...to help throw my sister a baby shower. Although she's not due for several more months, we originally thought her and my BIL would be stationed across the country soon. Luckily, they'll be here past her due date but the shower had already been planned. It should be a good time with ~40 guests. Yes, that's right- largest unisex baby shower I've ever heard of. Pictures to follow early next week.

She makes a very cute pregnant woman. :-)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Another lag coming

I've been trying to keep this blog updated since school ended but I fear another bit of downtime is coming...but only for the next week. I get the joy of going BACK to school (haha) for a boards review class. Hopefully it will be helpful and sitting in that dreaded itty-bitty classroom won't be hell, but there's always that chance. Here's crossing my fingers that the next 5 days fly right by!

Harrison helping me study...in his own special way...
I also wanted to share this picture from my future nephew's godfather...we were joking that I could be the kid's "fairy godmother" so he made up this design. I thought it was pretty neat.



Saturday, January 1, 2011

11 in 2011 (and a review of my 10 in 2010)

Last year I had 10 goals to accomplish in 2010, so this year I'm upping it to 11 for 2011. First, a review of last year's goals and how I did with those (uh oh):

1. Skydive- Success! It was fun to go with my sister but honestly, I'd be fine if I never went again. Something about the extremely cold air forcing it's way into all my facial holes that made the experience not-quite-perfect.
2. Get straight A's- Success! Well, spring semester anyways.
3. Lose the weight and get in shape- Fail. Enough said.
4. Relearn to play the piano- Not as well as I had hoped but I did a good bit of playing during the holidays when no one was around to make fun of my mistakes.
5. Learn at least 1 type of dance- Fail. I was told I'm even bad at slow dancing.
6. Get comfortable speaking basic medical Spanish- Another fail...and besides, when would I have time to do that???
7. Do something adventurous- Success...I ended up going on a cruise with my sister and her friend to the Western Caribbean and I definitely consider the cave tubing in Beliz an adventure.
8. Complete a nursing externship- Fail. I only applied at PCMH and they didn't offer me one (although they were nice enough to offer me a job changing bedpans).
9. Graduate nursing school- Success.
10. Get a job- Super-success....and as I was reading what I had written I noticed that I even said "get a job at Duke". Score.

Now, for the 11 goals for 2011:

1. Pass the NCLEX on the first try. Doesn't seem like it would be that hard, but as I've been bombing the practice tests my teacher assigned I'm starting to wonder what the hell I actually did learn in nursing school.
2. Be successful as a nurse. In simpler terms, don't kill anyone and don't get fired.
3. Run a 5K. I meant to do that last year, but got lazy. I also shouldn't have signed up for a  5K in the hottest month of the year. I have a friend that runs all of the time and she's like a stick. I'll never be a stick b/c I love food but being more active might help the waistline issues.
4. Take the GRE and get a score >1300. My last score was in the low 1200's. I need to get in to Duke for grad school. It has to be done.
5. Lose 30 pounds. Yes, I'm serious. I gained exactly 30 while in nursing school and now I need to lose exactly 30.
6. Learn at least one dance. I supposedly can't even slow dance, so I guess anything would be a step up from that, but I'd really like to learn an actual dance. I guess I watch way too much Dancing With the Stars.
7. Do something adventurous. Not trying to copy ones from last year, but life is too short to sit around and never take risks. I need to start doing that instead of saying it.
8. Travel somewhere overseas. Whether for volunteer work or as a vacation, it's time to try that thing called traveling again now that I'll have as steady income and only 3 days/week to work. I do have a lot of debt, but to be honest, if I wait until I get out of debt to travel I'll never travel. Yes, it's probably that bad! First locations of choice: Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Africa, or Fiji. I aim high.
9. Start riding horses again. I have no intention of buying a horse until I've finished ALL of my schooling, but it would be nice to start taking lessons again. I've always wanted to try eventing...I think that could count as adventurous too.
10. Continue to get better at wakeboarding. I know that seems like a lame one, but when I started boarding in 2009 I was scared to actually take it outside of the wake. By the end of the summer 2010, I was actually starting to jump. The goal this year is to get a lot more air without smashing my face in when I land. I realize that I'm starting this sport a little late, but it's better late than never- and why else own a boat if not to use it?
11. Read more (way more) non-nursing books, both fiction and non-fiction. Over the past several years, I haven't gotten to read much of anything outside of nursing books. I'm always looking at new releases on Amazon, and I absolutely love my Kindle, but I rarely make it past browsing for things and adding them to my wish list. This year I plan to make a genuine effort to not only read more, but read a wider variety of books. Expand my narrow horizons just a little.