Thursday, July 30, 2015

life update.

 Hola! Hello! Holla! 
I haven't blogged in SEVEN months! How did this happen? These past seven months have been filled to the brim with adventures. And more than anything these months were filled with so much peace and contentment. I finally started to grasp how much of a gift this season of my life was. 
Let's start recapping the past seven months and then I can finally share with y'all what's happening in my life right now!

New Orleans
Roadtripped to New Orleans with Macey (recap here)
Attended two fancy nursing conferences 

Third day of work was off to a rough start, @katisingleton saved the day! #P7alldayerryday 
Holy Rosary confirmation retreat
Worked and baked a whole bunch

Braving the mist at Multnomah Falls!
Seattle for Claire's third birthday (recaps here and here)
Weekend trip to Portland with Caitlin (recap here)

Visited Holly in Utah and hiked in Zion National Park
Roadtripped to Austin to visit Amber and Natalie
My car flooded during a flash flood and I spent the night at the hospital!
My dad came to visit and we got a new car :)
San Francisco trip with Caitlin and Adam (recaps here, here, here, here, here, and here)
Virginia had her baby so lots of baby Kethan snuggles
Holly and Brett's wedding (my fifth time being a bridesmaid!!)

Roadtripped to Dallas for Josie's baptism
Scott came to visit Houston during Tropical Storm Bill

... AND in June, I also...
quit my nursing job
packed all my belongings into 10 boxes and 2 suitcases
said lots of goodbyes
and left Houston on a one-way ticket to Seattle to prepare for...

serving as a missionary nurse with Farm on the Child in Trujillo, Honduras for one year!
a life following Christ is full of surprise :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

12 in 2014.

2014 was a year of so many highs and lows. I got to go to the weddings of three of my best friends! Spencer was born and I got to snuggle with him so much in the spring. I lived with two amazing girls, Makenzie and Macey. I grew more than I ever imagined as a nurse, I became stronger, I advocated for my patients needs more, I learned that just being there in their room is enough. Daily mass continued to challenge and shape me.

planned a bachelorette weekend for 20 plus girls.
Kailin and Ben got married.
Makenzie, my new roommate, moved in.
visited Amber in Austin.
pressed the code blue button in a patient's room for the first time.
 had an emotional breakdown in Target when buying new bedding.
overall an extremely emotional month, so many life changes.


helped plan a wedding at the cancer hospital.
survived ACLS and became a card carrying member.
Spencer was born and I got lots of baby snuggles in.


celebrated Claire's second birthday in Seattle.
said difficult goodbye's to two of my patients within one week - we had two patients who had both had the same surgery back in November and developed many, many complications - one patient finally went home with his family and the other patient passed away as soon as his family left for the night.


bridesmaid in Natalie and Robert's wedding in Austin.
with the help of parents, paid off $30,000 of student loans!
and walked to sonic a lot, haha.


Virginia and Raj's wedding in Houston.
Macey came to visit Houston.
retreat with the Dominican Sisters in Austin, such a turning point in the year - stopped comparing my life to my married friends, stopped feeling sorry myself, started to embrace my life as a single girl.


trip to visit my Grandma in Ottawa and explored Montreal with the Burch's.
turned 23. celebrated one year of being a nurse!


college visits with the parentals for my little brother.
Edel conference with my sister in Austin.
graduated from nursing residency.


volunteered at Camp AOK, a camp for teenagers with cancer and their siblings, for a week.
said goodbye to college/new grad apartment and moved into a new apartment in the Heights with Macey.
went to the gynecologist for the first time.
wedding dress shopping with Holly.
also an extremely emotional month!


visited Ms. Spiering in Corpus Christi.
visited Katelyn in Boston.
pondered my future.  

became PCCN certified.
celebrated Maggie's first birthday in Seattle.
visited the Hoyt's in Spokane.


started volunteering at St. Dominic's nursing home.
completed my first whole30, lost 12 pounds!
thanksgiving with the Craft's.
Holly's bridal shower in Houston.


Ms. Spiering's funeral in Corpus Christi.
multiple work Christmas parties.
celebrated Christmas with my family in Seattle.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

new orleans trip recap.

Macey, my apartmento bestie (roommate/best friend), and I had both had a three day weekend last week so decided to road trip to New Orleans. We have since named this trip the Carbs and Churches tour of New Orleans! We are such compatible travelers, not very many people get excited about exploring churches, parks, and libraries like us. And this trip was surprisingly affordable, only $325 each! We found the best NOLA recommendations here. Here are all the details of our yummy trip.
Fact: New Orleans is a 5-6 hour drive from Houston depending on many stops you make for Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits, Wendy's frosties, and cheaper than Htown gas.

Hotels in New Orleans are pricey! After some late night research, we found the perfect historic bed and breakfast - free parking, big fluffy beds, great location (5 minute walk to the WWII museum and 25 minute walk to the French Quarter), and breakfast included yummy croissants with nutella and hot cocoa. We were a bit worried about the “European attitude” clothing optional pool advertised on the website but luckily no one was swimming in January :) 

After checking into the bed and breakfast, we headed down to the French Quarter to explore the Old Ursuline Convent Museum before they closed. The convent was built in 1752 and is oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. We loved exploring the museum and chapel and learned so much!

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, you'll find her in pretty much every church in Louisiana. 

In between the museum and mass we were hoping to grab some yummy beignets at Café de Monde but the line was SO LONG. So we people watched (there was a wedding!) in the Jackson Square park and Yelped restaurants for dinner.

5pm mass at St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America. Amazingly, the church was packed which I didn't expect for the vigil mass.

So many beautiful details.

We lucked out and found the yummiest restaurant for dinner, if you are ever in New Orleans you should totally go to Cochon Butcher. We had the best sandwiches and split a mini king cake for dessert!

After sleeping in and sipping on cocoa, we decided to go explore another nearby church - Immaculate Conception (also known as the Jesuit Church) was built in 1815. We weren't planning on attending mass again but since we only got there 5 minutes before mass started, we decided to just take a seat. And wow, the organist and homily were the best.  
Since we were already in the neighborhood, we decided to explore Our Lady of Guadalupe which also happens to be the International Shrine to St. Jude.  Built in 1826, this church was originally built as a funeral church for the yellow fever epidemic, then a home for Italian immigrants and now a church that serves the homeless and has a large Spanish speaking population. I loved the realness of this church. It wasn't fancy or shiny but packed with people who are making a real difference.

Then we hit up Audubon park and soaked up the sunshine and Spanish moss. We were so blessed with beautiful weather this entire trip. A few blocks away from the park near Tulane, we enjoyed lunch at Tartine, a yummy French café, and then walked around the park some more.  

I'm all about free activities, we had already hit up churches and parks, so we headed to the library next. But not just any library, the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library which is a mansion built in 1907 that was later donated and turned into the cutest library.
Can you imagine this being your local public library? We hunkered down in the reading room for a few hours until they closed. I was so happy.

I hope the students at Loyola realize just how blessed they are with a campus in the middle of so much beauty. 

We just had to hit up one more church before the end of the night so we explored the Holy Name of Jesus located on Loyola's campus. Twas beautiful.

We ended the night with sliders, donuts, and coffee floats at District. Perfection.

We got to the National WWII Museum right when they opened at 9am and then spent the next five hours taking it all in. I could have stayed there all day. Such a powerful museum.

If you go, please make sure to buy tickets to Beyond All Boundaries (4D movie produced and narrated by Tom Hanks) ahead of time. So worth it.

One of the most interesting parts of the museum was learning about Archbishop Philip Hannan. He served as a chaplain in WWII, liberated concentration camps with soldiers, served briefly as pastor of the Cologne Cathedral during the American occupation of Germany, delivered the homily at JFK's funeral, later was the Archbishop of New Orleans when JPII visited, and then at the age of 92 he remained at the Catholic television studio he created during Hurricane Katrina to protect it from looting. Totally ordered his book from Amazon today!

Monday, January 12, 2015

day in the life.

I love reading a day in the life posts. Especially mommy blogger posts, like my sister's. I've been wanting to document a day in my nursing life for quite a while now. I'm trying hard to embrace this single season of my life with thankfulness.  I missed the link up with #NotAloneSeries but still want to share - read Jen's and Natalie's too. Here we go!

I'm an oncology nurse on a cardiothoracic surgery floor at the best cancer hospital in the world. I love being a nurse and I love my nursing schedule so, so much. We have to work six 12 hour shifts every two weeks. The shifts are long and usually end up being closer to thirteen or fourteen hours but it is so worth for the time off. On my days off, I go to daily mass, meet up with friends, grocery shop, try new recipes, read library books, walk along the bayou, and general apartmento tidying. I also have this habit of going to visit my family in Seattle on almost a monthly basis :)


5:00 - Wake up, get ready, breakfast.

5:45/6:00 - Leave for work (If I can get it together to leave at 5:45 I park at my old apartment and walk 20 minutes to work. If I'm running behind or encounter crazy weather or traffic I have to park in the $12 parking lot - obviously need to get better on leaving on time and walking because $12 is a lot of money to just be throwing away on parking!)


6:45 - Clock in, start getting report on 2-4 patients depending their acuity. Go introduce myself to each of patients, see if they need anything and double check tele/pain meds/drips/wounds/drains with the night shift nurse.

7:15-10:30 - Sit down at a computer and look up medications, orders, labs, past vital signs, H&P. I'll page doctors now if I need to let them know about patient changes or needs. Then go get meds out, assess patient, give meds, get them out of bed, discuss plan for day, make sure they order breakfast - repeat for each patient. During this time I'm also sending patients with chest tubes off to x-rays, so calling report and removing and then reapplying telemetry leads. I try to chart in between seeing patients but we paper chart (I KNOW!) and that takes FOREVER so usually end up charting my nursing notes and assessment along with the six other pages after seeing everyone. This is the most stressful chunk of my day - all the patients are calling, there are lines at the pxyis, patients are always needing to go for procedures, doctors are hunting you down with questions.


11:00 - My ideal lunch time, sometimes it happens and other times I'm eating WAY later. I bring my lunch and bask in the 30 minutes of watching HGTV. If one of my nurse besties is working with me, we try to eat lunch together.

11:45-17:30 - Do all the things. Give meds, change all the dressings, probably page a few doctors, walk all the patients, change a bed or two, give more meds. Usually discharge or transfer someone to another floor. Saltine and water breaks are a must.


17:30-18:30 - I call this the "power hour". I'm running around getting everything done before night shift comes. Finish giving all meds, charting, last walks for the day, update the shift report handout.

18:45-19:15 - Give report to night shift, I love when the same nurses come back because report is quick and easy and the patients like having the same nurses back.


Now in all honestly, everyday is different. I probably only clock out at 19:15 half of the time. Crazy things start happening in the 17:30pm region - we get PACU transfers or patients randomly start developing problems (increased oxygen needs, heart arrhythmias - all sorts of things). If a patient is high-risk telemetry, on heart drips, or on more than 6 liters of oxygen, I have to take them off the floor to procedures which changes the whole rest of the days schedule. Our floor is crazy and fast paced and I love it. We get to help with lots of hands on bedside procedures (chest tube insertions, bronchs, the occasional bone marrow aspiration or spinal tap) and critical thinking is so engrained in everything we do.


What is your favorite part of the day? When I put someone else's needs before mine. Maybe it's answering another nurses patient's call light, or letting someone go to lunch before me, or drinking chocolate milk with a lonely patient. When I look back on those moments, I feel the happiest and the most helpful. Now to do it more often!
What is your least favorite part of the day? Waking up. I tend to stay up way too late reading library books and my poor body feels it in the morning. I start feeling good about the day once I'm in the car, jamming out to my mixed CDs, drinking my required two water bottles (sometimes the only water I get during the day, eek).
Are you making any changes to your daily routine now that the new year has started? Well starting a few days ago, I made some big changes in my daily routine - now I just need to stick with them! Getting back into the habit of praying on my knees when I wake up and before I go to bed. I also am trying to be consistent with reading the Blessed Is She emails (the daily mass readings and a reflection) before or after work. I want to treat my body well too, so more whole30 eating and working out on my days off. More about these changes in another post!

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015: looking ahead.

01. Do you think you will be going to school at any point in 2015?  If so for what? Almost half of the nurses on my floor are in graduate school right now, so we talk about school all.the.time. And the hospital I work at actually PAYS for you to go back to school...but I have no idea what I would want to study. Right now I am happy and content to be working at the bedside. We don't all need to become nurse practitioners - we need smart and driven nurses at the bedside too.

02.  Will there be a job change for you in 2015? This July I'll have been an oncology nurse for TWO years. I love my job, my coworkers, my hospital. But the past year and half have been hard emotionally - oncology nursing is heavy. My patients - their stories, struggles, families - come home with me. I send patients home to hospice daily and it's not unusual to have a code status discussion on a weekly basis. But I know that I thrive in caring for high acuity surgical patients, I love having the same three patients when I work three days in a row, and I know that working in a Magnet hospital is such a blessing. If I move in the fall, I will be keeping my options open but would love to try NICU, L&D, ICU, or ER nursing - we shall see :)

03.  What adventure or event are you most looking forward to during this coming year? Totally can't narrow this down to just one event so I'll list a few - my nieces 2nd and 3rd birthdays, one of my best friends weddings, precepting my favorite new grad nurse, my family moving back to America, seeing my brother choose and start university in the fall, and trips to Portland, Utah, and San Francisco.

 04.  Do you think there will be a move to a new house/apartment/city/state/country in 2015? Oh gosh, lots of unknowns in this area. In all honesty, I feel ready for a change. I've lived in Houston for four years on my own now and all of my family will be living in Washington by this summer. And after working as a PACU nurse in Ecuador for a week in 2013, I also hope medical missions are in my future. In the fall I applied to Catholic Medical Missions Board and hope to hear back this spring about the next step in the application process. My apartment lease is up at the end of July - so I could possibly be exploring the world and using my nursing skills through a medical mission, or moving to Seattle and working in a new field of nursing, or renewing my lease and working at my favorite cancer hospital for another year. I know He has this whole thing figured out so I'm just trying hard to trust in His plan.

 05.  What do you see as the direction of your blog in 2015?  Design update plans?  Link-ups coming down the pipes?  More or less posts? The plan is just to keep blogging! This blog is really just an online journal for me. I love going back and reading posts that I wrote late at night in college, or after retreats, or about my nursing experiences at my favorite cancer hospital. I would love a new blog design as well :)

06. If you could guarantee that one thing could happen this coming year what would it be? In the deepest part of my heart, I hope that He shows me if He is calling me to marriage or religious life this year. The struggle of the unknown is so real. I feel like such a big part of my life and future is on hold until I know - even though it would be so hard, I just want to jump into whatever vocation He is calling me to. 2015 is such a year of discernment for me - for my vocation, my nursing career, my future.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


I am thankful for my family. We are spread out across the world but they are always just a phone call and few time changes away. I am thankful for parents who always pushed me to try harder, read to us nightly, and put up with a whole lot of backseat fighting so we could go on vacations every summer. I am thankful for a happy childhood filled with dinner together nightly, library books, swimming pool outings, and clean laundry. I am thankful for my mom who sacrificed so much to stay home with us and who shared her love of laundry and candles with me. I am thankful for my dad who instilled his love of traveling and the New York Times in me. I am thankful for my older sister and brother-in-law who are my very best friends and let me come along on their family vacations. I am thankful for my little brother who is about to go to college and experience the adventure of grownup life. I am thankful for my two adorable nieces, they bring so much happiness and joy to my life.

I am thankful for my job. I can't believe I work as a nurse at one of the best cancer hospitals in the world. I never thought I would be an oncology nurse. Some days are hard but even the worst days are always worth it. It is such a honor to care for people during the hardest and most vulnerable times of their lives. And I have the best coworkers in the world, seriously once you've cleaned up a pooptastrophe together you know they'll do anything for you.
I am thankful for this season of my life. I feel more and more confident in my nursing skills. On my days off I get to go to daily mass, walk to the grocery store, meet up with friends, and volunteer at my favorite nursing home. I live in the cutest hipster neighborhood with one of my best friends in an apartment that backs up to the bayou.
I am beyond thankful for the immense comfort my faith in Jesus Christ brings me. He loves me more than I could ever imagine. And I feel his love in little moments throughout the day but especially at mass. At mass, his sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice, is laid out before us.
I don't know why I've been given so much. It seems so unfair that I been blessed with a healthy family, an amazing job, and so many material blessings while so many suffer from hunger, disease and loneliness throughout the world.  I pray that I am attentive to the needs of others. I pray that I truly listen and trust in His plan for me. I pray for the courage to do whatever He asks of me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

twenty-three. boston trip recap.

Last week, I visited my friend Katelyn and her husband David in Boston. We had the best time.
Prepare yourself for pictures and details overload!

I escaped Houston on a very rainy, gray day and landed in Boston to a perfect 70 degree sunny day. I packed pretty light for this trip, just a backpack and large Vera Bradley tote bag, since I knew I would be carrying my stuff around the city our first day. It was a little tricky to take the T (Boston's subway) from the airport to Katelyn's work at first (first took a bus and then connected via the blue, orange and green train lines!) but once I figured it out it was pretty easy. IPhone's, Google Maps, and Charlie cards make things 100x easier!

Katelyn and I meet for lunch at Sweet Greens (so yummy - I had the Kale Chicken Caesar salad) which is conveniently across from the Boston Public Library. I loved this library. A historical library with stunning architecture, famous paintings, a coffee shop, reading rooms, and a beautiful courtyard - what's not to love?

We explored the library quite a bit and landed in the rare book room where John Quincy Adam's personal collection is held!
After lunch and library time, we headed back to Katelyn's work so she could finish up a few things. She works in the infectious disease lab at the Harvard School of Public Health. Right now, she is working with malaria samples from Senegal. Basically, she is awesome and super smart.   

While she worked, I explored the area - Harvard Medical School is right next store, along with some pretty awesome hospitals, a bunch of other college campuses and a lovely park.

We took the T together Friday morning, she headed to work and I went to mass at the Holy Cross Cathedral. It was finished in 1875 and is the largest cathedral in New England. Mass was actually in a small chapel to the left of the altar and the ninth grade theology teacher from the high school next door brought his whole class, which was really funny to watch. After mass, the whole church just happened to be unlocked so I explored! I found two more chapels, lots of stained glass, old statues and the church's original safe.

After mass, I had an hour and half to kill before meeting Katelyn for lunch so I headed to the closest CVS and found mini dry shampoo - be still my heart! I also found a bakery called Flour down the street and sipped on a chai tea latte while reading.

Katelyn and I meet for lunch at a tasty pub called The Squealing Pig (loved the lobster grilled cheese). She went back to work and I explored the neighborhood a bit more and then parked myself in the courtyard outside her building to charge my phone and finish my book. After work we headed to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (have you heard about the 1990 art heist that is still unsolved? craziness.). Loved this place, I didn't really think I was a fan of art museums before but I definitely am now.

Katelyn got free tickets from work for a Harvard football game so we took the red line over to Cambridge. Their football stadium is actually the oldest in the country and it was the first game of the season but oh boy, it was definitely different from a Texas football game - no body paint, pretty empty stands, minimal tailgating. We stayed till halftime and then left to grab dinner.

After the game, we headed to Shake Shack for a very tasty dinner (get their Crimson Red Velvet custard concrete!). We also hit up one of my favorites - Lush. Everything smells so good, we settled on dry shampoo for me and a lip stain for Katelyn and a dark chocolate mud mask (made our skin so, so soft) for our girls weekend.
We slept in on Saturday morning and then baked cookies, totally necessary, before heading out the door to begin our road trip. First stop, Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Twas beautiful. We dipped our toes in the Atlantic, snacked on still warm cookies, and walked on the beach.

Second stop, Coolidge Reservation also conveniently in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Basically, you hike through the forest and past a pond and through a giant field and arrive at the OCEAN. We climbed down the cliffs and just sat down on the rocks taking it all in. We live in such a beautiful world.

Next stop, we arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for lunch. Yep, we were already in another state! We ate lunch at a tasty place on the square called Popovers on the Square and then wandered into the cutest letterpress store called Gus & Ruby. I might have picked up a few Rifle Paper Co. items, I just couldn't resist! Paper goods speak to my soul.

45 minutes later and we arrived in Portland, Maine (be sure to bring lots of quarters, Maine tolls are pricey) AKA lighthouse capitol of the world! I loved Portland. Totally would consider moving there but don't know if I can handle the winter or the necessity of parallel parking. Alas, we drove straight to Portland Head Light located in Fort Williams Park. This is the lighthouse of lighthouses, commissioned by President George Washington in 1787, it is straight up adorable and historical. We frolicked in the surrounding park, climbed down a few more cliffs, explored the forts, and just basically loved it. We spent the next few hours of daylight hunting down two more lighthouses and power walking through Two Lights State Park.

After exploring the wilderness of Maine, we picked up pizza from Otto's (mashed potato, get the mashed potato. also make sure you place your online order to the right store...might have made that mistake) and settled in for the night at our amazing Airbnb loft.  The place was so, so nice - think crisp sheets, lots of hot water in the shower, complimentary hot cocoa mix, and adorable throw pillows.

We slept in Sunday morning and after surviving a terrifying parking garage fiasco (turns out some parking garages are CLOSED on Sundays) we arrived at The Standard Baking Co. for some baked goods. This place was amazing, like so amazing that their cookbook is currently in my Amazon cart amazing. It was a bit rainy outside so we sat on their one and only bench inside to devour our baked goods (and try to memorize their cookbook) and people watch.
We both share a love of history and wanted to learn more about Portland so hit up the Portland Observatory and toured the Victoria Mansion.

After the tours, we headed back into the Maine wilderness and explored Crescent Beach and dined at the famous Lobster Shack. I experienced the lobster roll, which is basically lobster and mayonnaise on a hotdog bun, so lame. I'll take a lobster grilled cheese any day! Afterwards, we headed back to Boston for a candlelight yoga class and big bowls of Double Dunker.

Katelyn and I took the T together again in the morning and while she worked I explored the Boston Commons (oldest park in the USA), public gardens, and settled on reading out on one of the docks by the river.

Before heading back to meet Katelyn for lunch, I explored the Beacon Hill neighborhood and just happened to stumble upon Anthropologie - let the window shopping commence!

Boston's Basilica just happened to be a mere five minute walk away for Katelyn's lab. We all know how much I love exploring churches and I made it just in time for the 12:10 mass. Coincidence? I think not.

I love the details of old churches. The surprises in the ceiling murals, the sparkling mosaics behind the altar, the peeling paint on statues, the creaky wooden pews, the flickering of candles, the stations of the cross carved out of marble, the glimmering stained glass windows, the slight smell of incense that never fades. I think God speaks to me in the details. Letting me know He is there, that in the quiet, in the stillness He is always there waiting for me.

We meet for lunch at Lilly's Gourmet Pasta (fresh, yummy homemade pasta) and ate in the park across the street. Katelyn headed back to work and I explored the Mission Hill neighborhood a little more. After work, we headed to Museum of Fine Arts which unknowing to us closes at 4:45 on Monday's. Instead of being disappointed, we basked in the free tickets and explored the museum very briskly for the next 45 minutes. Such a beautiful museum filled with truly amazing works of art, one day I'll spend more than 45 minutes there. Before heading home we stopped by Katelyn's favorite coffee shop, Pavement, for some iced coffee and a heart to heart. We dinned on homemade Indian food that night and snuggled up with more Double Dunker while watching The Young Victoria (a must see, ranks in my top ten all time favorites).

Tuesday morning I headed back to Houston. I left Boston feeling renewed. Six days earlier, I had left Houston after working three extremely stressful days. I was training a nursing student and all my patients were dying. Boston was a much welcomed break. I experienced a bit of fall. I got to wear my boots and scarves. I explored the city and conquered the subway. And most importantly, I reconnected with one of my best friends. Katelyn was the perfect travel buddy. We both love road trips with frequent stops, exploring nature, Indian food, Boden, and British miniseries. She didn't mind me Yelping our restaurants or monopolizing the Spotify so we only listened to The Old Hello's. She is honest, and vulnerable, and real. She reminded me that marriage isn't always the rainbows and sunshine that I imagine. She constantly reminded me to be thankful for this time in my life. The freedom of singleness is something I take for granted all too often.