The Traditional Resolution

Every new year the Christmas decorations vanish in the department stores and the displays are all about workout videos, protein bars, and fitness videos.  T. J. Maxx moved their athletic apparel to the front of the store and featured shelves of reusable water bottles, hand weights, and yoga mats.

I’ve been going to the gym.  One of my besties has the kind of membership that allows a guest every visit.  She goes a lot.  I’ve been going 5-6 days a week for a few weeks now.  I’m getting so into it!

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It’s the gym that’s purple and yellow, and it’s fairly new and really clean and nice.  I have my little routine where I start on the weight machines and do a circle of legs, arms, legs, arms, waist, abs.  Then I jump on the treadmill for about 30-45 minutes.  I set a pace of 13 to 14 minutes per mile and usually do 2 1/2 to 3 per session.  Today, I discovered the incline.  Now I have the capability of burning 600 calories per hour, like the elliptical machine that my friend prefers, but which kills my quads.

There are two downfalls to the gym, however.  When I’m done working out – I’m starving. And I have gained 5 pounds since I started.  I know, I know, muscle weighs more than fat.  I wasn’t exactly overweight, I totally need to work against gravity, flab, and my all-time enemy: fatigue.  It has definitely been helping there.  My back-of-upper-arm jiggle is all but gone, and I do have more energy throughout the day.  I really would like to find a tape measure and get some statistics.

I think I will blog about the fitness journey once a week, and update.  Let’s say my goal is 135 lbs, and measurements of 36, 26, 38.  Sound doable?

Overdue Christmas moments

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St. Nicholas day brought new slippers and a couple of treats.

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The older teenagers (oops, Courtney turned 20, didn’t she :/) had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas day, so we had an early Christmas with them.

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Christmas Eve day with the oldest grandson, who is now 3!

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Oldest brother giving youngest brother

a long overdue haircut.

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Before Midnight Mass.  Sisterly love.

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Christmas morning was extra-special thanks to lovely Mary and her wonderful, generous family.

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Perhaps the best meal I ever cooked.  Cooking is not my strongest attribute.  Beef tenderloin with roasted rosemary new potatoes and cranberry Brussels sprouts.  I kid you not when I tell you that from the time the last gift was opened, until dinner at five o’clock, I stood in the kitchen and cooked.  They tell me it was worth it.

Hope everyone had a blessed holiday!

12 Things

I want to write my opinion/2 cents on this article I saw on facebook today.  I wholeheartedly agree with all of what the author stated and have lived with most of it for the past 8 years.  Being poor does indeed come with its challenges and every day is most certainly a juggling act.  When you have X amount of dollars per month and your bills and expenses are X to the exponential, you have no choice but to get creative.

#12 Cars It’s all about car maintenance because the poor obviously can’t afford any car that’s near new.  And when your car is 10 or 15 years old, it’s going to have problems.  Always.  My last car was a steal for $400.  Then over the course of the year, I needed four tires, brakes all around, a battery, and an  alternator.  That’s almost $100 a month on car repairs.  But look on Craigslist, in this day and age, there is no such thing as an affordable used car – people are selling the older (cheaper) models for scrap, or driving them into the ground for necessity.  And if a person like me can muster up some credit, a car payment is going to be at least a couple hundred a month – for a car that’s only 7 or so years old.

#11 The Dentist We are lucky enough to have Husky.  That’s the state’s insurance, and it covers children up to age 18.  And the mother who cares for them.  Except that a couple of years ago, dental insurance for adults covered 6 month cleanings, and now it is only once a year.  Still not bad.  The only issue with the dentist I have, is that I have 6 kids under 18 and the dentist will only do two or three a day – and they are 45 minutes away – one way.  Husky dentists are few and far between, and busy.  So, if the kids need a dentist, and have to go back for a filling, it is about $40 that week for gas, just for the free dentist.

#10 & #9 Sick Kids Okay, these two don’t apply.  My kids are remarkably healthy.  Aside from the occasional runny nose or cough, we have never, ever had a major illness in the family.  Thanks be to God, and a lot of nutritional research, my kids have always been super healthy.  I buy about a bottle of generic ibuprofen a year.

#8 Food This one hits home.  There is always more month than food money.  No matter how much I plan or budget or shop at Aldi.  It is virtually impossible to feed 8 people for $31.16 a day.  Never mind when the older children come over, or guests, or the kids friends who are always here because they don’t get enough food in their own houses.  I know how to bargain shop.  I don’t know how to work, go to school, and do everything else I need to do and find the time to cook dry beans from scratch so everyone doesn’t go hungry.

#7 Peter or Paul Who to cheat this month.  Because I get food stamps, I am on the do not shut off list for the electric company until March.  BUT the way this house is set up, I only get that privilege for one half.  Yep, even though my converted two-family, is now a one-family, I still have two electric meters and two oil tanks.  Hence, double utilities.  And no matter how much I explain (plead) to the energy assistance people, I get ONE oil discount, and ONE electric bill on hold.  So on those months when the one month of the one tank’s assistance has run out – half the year in New England – I get to put the minimum in both tanks and pay the rent – $1400.  It’s a rather difficult thing to do when one makes $1200 a month.

#6 Bank Fees I luck out here.  The few times I actually overdrew myself, I played the, “I’m a single mother of a jillion kids and that fee is 1/4 of my take home pay!”  And have gotten out of it each time.  There are some sympathetic people still out there.

#5 & #4 School Stuff This year I not only had to contend with my school books ($1100), uniforms, stethoscope and supply tote, CPR class, countless drives to the doctor for immunizations I was non-titered for, but I had 6 kids in 3 different schools with 6 different lists of the required supplies and the need to actually have matching socks and shoes without holes – not to mention sneakers for gym, fees for this and that, the classroom parties, fundraisers, yaddah yaddah.  On the plus side, 5 of them get free lunch and breakfast.  On the minus of the plus side – I am told that the school food has high fructose corn syrup and msg, it’s gross. I consequence of my past homeschooling.

#3 & #2 Gifts When your kids have friends who have birthdays and they get invited to parties that actually involve bowling or bouncy houses and goody bags – they sort of want the same things when it’s their turn.  When you have a lot of kids there is quite obviously a lot of birthdays and  when there is a lot of birthdays, there is not a lot (if any) money for extras – like paying for all of their friends to bowl, have pizza, and a bag full of junk to take home as a remembrance of the occasion.  Around here, it’s typically a homemade cake and one thing they really want – or need.  Christmas is more of the same.  Recently, one of my 11-year-old’s friends was over and announced that she was getting the new Iphone for Christmas.  (Don’t tell her, but my 11-year-old is getting an outfit).  I am and have been fortunate enough to have received very generous help each and every one of the last 8 years at Christmas time.  It does take the edge off, but when you consider the cost of everything, the heating season, kids now in school with teachers needing a little something, and a family growing by inlaws and grandchildren – and holiday food at the end of the month … well, you get the picture.

#1 All the Other Stuff Toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant, tampons,  windex, laundry detergent, dish soap, soap soap, etc. etc. etc. etc.    Where does one find anything left for those things?  Around here, those things are always in demand, and always empty.  Always.

School is hard

When you are an old lady, school is tough.  Nursing School is not at all what I expected.  Not even close.  I spent the last year-and-a-half taking courses that my brain was not wired for: Chemistry, Biology, Microbiology… and I actually did fine.  Better than fine.  My GPA was a 3.97.  I made Phi Theta Kappa and I was actually ranked 40th in the state in the nursing school admissions list – and that includes a “B” in English I got a dozen decades ago in my first (read “party”) college days.

Now, I am lucky to squeak by with a low B all around.  You can’t study for Nursing.  No, really, it’s true.  Give me a thousand bacteria to memorize and I will spit them all back out to you by shape, spore, or gram sign.  Take a nursing exam and you’re like wondering what grade of crack the instructor smoked when she wrote it.

There are questions like: If a nursing student entered a room and a patient diagnosed with lung cancer was saying, “I really want to die for my sin of smoking.” Would you a) Call the hospital chaplain, b) tell them “It’s okay, there’s nothing you can do about it now.” c) Tell them to practice deep breathing, or d) Tell them that when they started smoking it wasn’t that bad.

I’m not making this up.  And I got it wrong.  Any guesses?

We had four different instructors in Nursing 101.  One was really good and thorough.  One was absolutely terrible, scattered, and only discussed her aging father’s hearing aids and sister’s diabetes.  Anyway, it didn’t really matter.  The tests were all subjective.

I who was a tutor over the summer for my second job, got sent to the tutor 4 times this semester.

And that’s just the classroom part.  We spent two full days a week in the hospital, taking care of real, live people.  It was reallllly intimidating at first.  The clinical instructor literally had to push me into my patient’s room the first couple of times.  I was scared stiff.  I wouldn’t want a student taking care of me!  Especially a first-semester one!  Who hadn’t a clue as to what to do.  Yep, I was a CNA briefly seven years ago.  Then I considered a career as a funeral director.  And my instructor told me once that I just might be better compatible with the dead.

The last week or two I was feeling a little more at ease.  It is very, very frightening  – for me anyway, because I really am a shy person – to walk into a sick  person’s room and start poking them with my thermometer and probing them with my stethoscope.  And you have to do just that, because the instructor will find you and ask you intimate and detailed questions about the patient’s vitals and overall physical assessment.

The one redeeming quality of the first clinical rotation – I had some really awesome patients.  Not a single one was intimidated that an idiot was caring for them.  I had everything from a double mastectomy due to the BRCA gene, to an end-stage cirrhosis, to a pleural effusion in the nicest, funniest, 92-year-old one could ever meet.  I was told – more than once – what a good listener I was.  Being quiet has its advantages.  It’s called empathy, and it’s what nursing is all about.

But tomorrow is the final.  Yeah, another whacky-question test, and I am so, so glad that this semester is over.  It is quite one thing, my clinical instructor told me one day, when she remarked about how I seem like an intelligent person – what the hell is wrong with me – and quite another, when one goes to nursing school as a 20-something single.  Or in my case, when one attempts at middle age and with a zillion kids and turmoil by the truckload, to take it on.

In any case.  I am back.  I will have a tiny bit of free time coming up.  And I really missed blogging – and all of you!