Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grandpa Kolkman

Grandpa's are a special breed
They love you and hug you,
And spoil you to death.
And then, they send you home!

I am really happy to have this photo because we have very few photos of Grandpa Kolkman and Ava together. He lives in Switzerland so the opportunities for picture taking are few and far between. Today at GiGi's, Aunt Dawn captured a super sweet Grandpa moment... Grandpa loving up on two of his grand-girls. Ava's not one for sharing anything in her life from toys to people so I am even more happy she is sharing Grandpa's lap nicely with little Evelyn.

It's been a really enjoyable weekend spending time with Grandpa, who as of this weekend Ava very ultra casually refers to as Pa-Pa, and the rest of the Kolkman Family. We had a dinner date with Grandpa on Friday night where he brought Ava an extremely beautiful handcrafted music box.

Ava's Rodi Holzwaren Music Box

I wish I had some pictures of Ava unwrapping her gift because her face was very animated and I am pretty sure I even heard her say, "Oh Boy!" Surprise presents are always delightful. When she opened her music box the very first question she asked "Pa-Pa" was if it had candy in it! I have a feeling that as she grows into this gift she will be ever so thankful that Grandpa will most likely help to fill it with pretty jewelry instead of chocolate and suckers!

The music box plays the song 4 Seasons (Spring). It is a beautiful classic tune from the Sound of Music. Ava and I enjoyed listening to this classic and it was nice to enjoy a bit of culture at Mr. Burger while we waited for our meal and snacked on some pretzels. Apparently, it really bothered Ava that her box was empty so she placed a piece of her pretzel inside for safe keeping. Yes, this fancy box comes with a lock and key. I look forward to seeing what special "pieces" she keeps safely in her music box! Only you my Ava Elise Kolkman... Just like your fancy gift you are one of a kind! Thanks again Grandpa.

Sunday we enjoy a family gathering at GiGi's house. We ate a delicious meal that included a homemade apple pie from Aunt Dawn, a highlight for everyone. It was nice getting together and having the little girls visit. Ava enjoys her baby cousin, Evelyn, (as long as she's not in my lap) and wanted nothing more than to hold her. For Evelyn's sake we had to re-direct that want but she was able sneak an Evelyn snuggle with the help of Aunt Dawn. Sylvia was a little under the weather but the two of them enjoyed a game of hide-and-seek before everyone had to go home. Ava was her typical entertaining self and showed off her silly side.

Ava playing a sneaky game of "dizzy-dizzy" while chanting, "Don't Tell... Trouble!"

Thanks, GiGi for opening up your home and providing us with a tasty lunch. Thanks everyone (GiGi, Grandpa, Uncle Key, Aunt Dee, Uncle Jason, Aunt Ann, Sylvia, and Evelyn) for a fun visit. We already look forward to next time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hairstyle Change... or NOT

Every now and again I daydream about cutting my hair shorter. Back when I was in my early 20's I had a short pixie haircut that I did sport for about a year before I ended up growing it back out. If you have ever had extremely short hair and have grown it back out like I have... you have known many awkward hair stages. During my growing out phase I swore up and down I would never have a short hair style again until I was ready to commit to it for the rest of my life. Beyond this solemn promise to myself... Rob didn't really like my hair short and doesn't care for short hair on women in general. If he had his way my hair would be down the middle of my back just like I wore it when I was nineteen and we were newly dating! For the past year I have stashed a magazine clipping of a super cute short hair style in my calendar just in case I change my mind and get the nerve at one of my hair appointments. I talked about this potential hair cut with my hair stylist and she seems to think I should just go for it because I've been thinking about it for so long. Here are a few famous celebrities that I have short hair envy of...

Carey Mulligan

Meg Ryan

Victoria Beckham

Sarah Harding

Michelle Williams

Ginnifer Goodwin

This clip is off of a short hair site and I have no idea who she is...

I have a little time before my next hair appointment to decide if I am really ready to change my current look. I also should mention, just for the sake of mentioning it... I am happy with my current short angled bob that is very much insired by the georgeous Jenny McCarthty. But sometimes it just feels like the same ole' same old cut...

Sometimes following hair trends and celebrities constant changing looks makes me want to go for the gusto and try something new. The only problem is I am probably not ready to commit to short hair forever and the idea of cutting it now and growing in back out later is holding me back. The awkward hair stages from my 20's really must have tramtized me. Also... Why change what works? I think you really have to be flawless to pull off a short hair style and I'm not sure I am going to be able to be on point each day with a toddler running my life. BUT... if I could pull it off and maintain my soft feminine side it could really be a striking statement for 20011! I just don't know if I have the guts or if it's the right time to part ways with my hairdryer. Any thoughts??? 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blodgett: Old & New

I have been busy lately picking up extra hours at work and it has really been cutting into my free time. Trust me I use the term "free time" loosely since I had very little of it to begin with. Most working parents struggle to manage this balancing act between work, family, and play. Over the past couple of months I have come to understand that I am no different. It is such a tedious balancing act and at times very stressful. Lately, I have been out of balance which is really wearing me down. I just want to have a little time at the end of the day to read, exercise, cook, socialize, blog, work on Ava's albums, and play with my child... Is that too much to ask for? I'm starting to think I might need a life coach to help me find better ways to balance my act without burning the candle at both ends because I am truly spent.

I am not sure why I am blogging about work when lately I have had more than my fill. To be honest, it's not a bowl full of cherries there. As a whole, we are under some pretty big changes with the addition and renovation projects that seems to have everyone on edge and stress levels are high. We are coping with very little leadership at the moment which is somewhat of a disaster. It is very unsettling to me that the lack of leadership seems to have created this us against them, and worse yet, us against us! Co-workers are just plain at each other lately and it's hard to swallow. Still, I thought that you might be interested in taking a tour of Blodgett via my photos.

The new unit may not be 100% user friendly but it is beautiful and it has come a long way over the past two years. The transformation is approximately nine months out yet from completion so there will be more to share in the future. It is impossible to really capture such a large surgical unit in a couple of photos so I am sharing several photos and by several I mean a boat load. Recently, I worked a Sunday shift and we were slow for a change in the afternoon. I ended up walking around our entire suite taking approximately 100 or so photos of the old and the new. I had a hard time trying to capture our entire preoperative unit on film but I did cover the basics. Here is a quick view of Blodgett... past and present!

Old Charge Nurse's Desk

We are currently still using this Charge Nurse's Station until the renovation is complete.

Old Outer Hallway

Old Inner Core Hallway

Old O.R. 6 (My home away form home!)

O.R. 6 Nurse's Work Station

Old O.R. 4 (Our Weekend Room.)

Old O.R. 11 (Our Laparoscopic/Bariatric Room.)

Old High Density Shelving Room

Old Storage Room in our Center Core

Old P.A.C.U. & Current O.R. Supply Room

More of Old P.A.C.U. and Current Sterile Supplies

Old/Current Nurse's Lounge (I can't wait to see the re-model in 9 months!)

Old Building & Courtyard View

The Old meets the New

New Charge Nurse's Station

Another view of the Charge Nurse's Station

New Outer Hallway

Scrub Sink (One of 5 in the new wing.)

New Inner Core Hallway

New Patient Holding (It's a ghost town on the weekend.)

New P.A.C.U (This is one half of the recovery unit.)

Nurse's Station in P.A.C.U.

Second half of P.A.C.U.

New Dirty Utility Room

New Quiet Room/Lounge

New Building and Courtyard View

O.R. 9 (My new home away from home!)

Overall view of O.R. 9

Nurse's Station & Central Nervous System of O.R. 9

The Brains of O.R. 9

Anesthesia's Work Station in O.R. 9

Surgeon's Work Station in O.R. 9

Every time my alarm goes off I hear the song, "She works hard for the money!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Smore' Cookies & More...

Rob and I spent a bit of time reading magazines in Barnes & Nobles before our movie started on our anniversary weekend date. I glanced through some cooking magazines and skimmed some magazines on closet organizing. I have so many dream ideas for our upstairs closet that we plan to convert to a toy closet someday soon in effort to reduce some of the clutter in our living room. If you've been to our home you will agree this is a definite YES on the needs list for Home Sweet Kolkman.

I would seriously love this to be a part of my life. Organized and user friendly! LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Once I tackle this project I would love to decorate Ava's "big girl" room which is currently our guest bedroom/office. I should probably fill you in on some recent Ava news. She started to climb out of her crib! A tell tail sign she is ready for a "big girl" bed whether or not we are ready. Here is a little story for you to enjoy about Ava... It made me laugh this past Saturday.

Me: "Ava, it's time for your nap."
Ava: "Okay momma."
Me: Let's read a couple books and I'll rock you. Then it's night-night."
Ava: "Yip."
A few books later and a little "Rock-a-Bye" Ava said: "Crib momma."
Me: "Okay, sweet dreams."
Ava: "I better not get out." (With a twinkle in her eyes...)
Me: "Right, you better not get out... It's nap time."

I went to the kitchen to clean up lunch and watch her on the video monitor. Rob and I have both been surprised by her wondering out of the nursery at nap time but we had not yet caught her in the act to see how she is climbing out. About ten minutes into her singing and farting around she moved her baby, Stella, to the corner of her crib.

Ava: "Sorry, Stella." Then she stepped on her baby giving herself some leverage. Leaning over the crib's corner she swung one leg over the side and then the other. Down she went. She then opened her door and came out to the kitchen to inform me she had gotten out.

Ava: "I got out momma!"
Me: "I see that... but it's still bedtime... sigh"

While I would love to keep her little forever... (Yes, I am that crazy mother who fears the day her child will be all grown up and out of the house.) I do worry about her really hurting herself and breaking a limb or worse climbing out of her crib. I'm trying hard not to get too far ahead of myself for now so it's baby steps here. The first baby step taken was letting Ava have a "big girl" bed. The crib we bought converts into a toddler bed so that's a no brainier and seemed simple enough. Rob took the face of the crib off on Monday in hopes that our "big girl" would love this change and that we could rest knowing she wasn't going to seriously hurt herself climbing out of her crib any more.

I love the look of her new "big girl" bed.

She did love her "new" bed. She had great fun getting in and out of it on her own and playing babies in there on Monday night. She had a busy evening tucking them all in and giving them pats to put them to sleep. All of the fun can to an end when it was time to go to sleep. I was a little surprised since it is still her room... still her bed (minus the front)... still her sheets... still her everything. But she pitched a fit and cried and carried on and on about not wanting to sleep in her bed. Then I thought to myself... Nothing about sleep with this child has been easy so there was no reason to think this would be easy either, Right?

So long story short... Rob rocked her for a long time while I made Tuesday's lunches. He tucked her in bed sound asleep. A few minutes later she was in the living room carrying on again about not sleeping in her bed. She begged Rob to let her sleep in our bed. Not wanting to make her bed an issue the first night in addition to the fact it was now 9:30pm we gave in and Rob tucked her into our bed. Out like a light. At 10:30p Rob moved her to her bed with no trouble. She was up and in our room at 3:45a asking for milk and cookies. "Sigh.... Kitchen is closed Ava.... It's bedtime." Rob took her to her room and rocked her some more and I fell back to sleep so I could function at work in the morning. When my alarm went off at 5:45a she was sleeping in the middle of our bed. Guessing it didn't go well. "Oh, Child.... why must sleep be such a challenge?" Last night was similar and we didn't force her to sleep in there again. She has a terrible cold, runny nose, cough, and keeps telling me her eyebrow hurts (headache maybe?). We are hoping that in time she will get the hang of  her "big girl" bed because she is not welcome in our bed for the rest of her life or she WILL be an only child!

Back to reading at Barnes & Nobles... I did come across a recipe in a Weight Watchers Magazine. I didn't want to buy the magazine so I took a quick photo of the ingredients with my camera phone. (Yes, I know that is wrong...). I just made them for the Super Bowl Party Rob and I went to on Sunday and they were delicious. I missed the cookie title so I am just calling them Smore' Cookies... Not bad for a diet cookie.

Smore' Cookies:

14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
4 1/2 cups of low-fat graham crackers
1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the grahams. Add the rest of the ingredients to the crushed graham crackers and stir. It is very thick so you will eventually need to use your hands to mix thourally. Use a 1/2 in scoop and form your cookies. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool them on a cooling rack.

I used 3 full sleeves of Graham Crackers and it was perfect. I used regular honey graham crackers not fat-free. I also used semi-sweet milk chocolate chips instead of dark. I added a few more chips & nuts... Why not? I figured out I made 40 cookies from one batch and they are 2.3 points a piece using the non fat-free version. If you eat them warm out of the oven they taste similar to a chocolate chip cookie. If you eat them at room temperature they taste like a Smore' hence the name. I have been enjoying putting them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them up before eating them. They are extremely sticky in the mixing department but they are delicious and worth all the goo! Enjoy...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary!

There is just something special about celebrating your 5th wedding anniversary. I have to admit that I have been thinking about my marriage and Rob and all the moments that got us to our wedding day and all the moments we have shared since we promised each other forever. I am feeling lucky to have truly married "the one" I want to share my life with, raise my family with, and grow old with. Which is good because we are stuck with each other! I love this photo of us on our wedding day... taken moments after seeing each other it's filled with so much emotion. We look so young and unaware of what we are actually about to promise each other. I'm glad to have shared this moment with Rob on our wedding day. It's a moment in time I hope to never forget.

I hate to be the super corny wife who gushes about her love life and how blessed she is because in general that's not what I'm all about. I'm not one to boast or a flaunt what I have good in my life. I am just taking a moment to reflect on a pretty important part of my life, my husband, Rob. I wrote this for him really so beware. It's me gushing a little over my love for him and the love we share. So if you are not up to read a love post skip this one and know I will NOT be offended. I just wanted to simply give thanks for the blessings I have received from having him in my life. I thank God for each day we are given together.We are a true testimony that opposites do attract and can complement each other very well. I am sincerely thankful to have Rob in my life... today, tomorrow, and until death do we part. However long that may be.

I love the song, "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. It's such a beautiful story he wrote for his wife. When I hear it I think of my own "Remember When's" that Rob and I have shared. The song we have danced to week to week. It's such a touching love song and it takes me back to simpler times. I would love to spend a week with each other again at the ages of 19, 22, or 27... To go back to such a care free time and whoop it up again. The eight years we spent dating was a little bit of a learning curve. It took us a while to figure out what was really important and how to make us work while we were growing into who we are today. The point is we did and it was a heck of a ride and good time along the way. I have so many wonderful memories of the good times we've shared!

For having only five years of marriage under our belts we have been through it all it seems. As cliche' as it is to describe life like a roller coaster... it seems to have been just like one for us so far. We have weathered double mortgage payments, taking the plunge into parenthood, loosing Elise, grief at it's ugliest moments, a high risk pregnancy, the birth of our second daughter, Ava, parenting, the death of my father, and slow work periods for Rob. Yet through it all our love has remained strong. In fact, it's stronger now than it ever was in the beginning. I guess we are like fine wine and I look forward to getting even better together with age. How's that for cliche'?

As much as I wanted to take a trip to sunny Mexico to celebrate number 5 there's always number 6, right? I did enjoy all of the dates we shared over our anniversary weekend. I loved seeing the humor in giving each other spray cans as gifts (inside humor). Who would have known year 5 is aerosol! I love the way you make me laugh. I love sitting shot-gun in your truck and holding hands with you no matter where we go. Promise me you will always hold my hand. Promise me we will always celebrate this day no matter how big or how small our budget is. Promise me we will always laugh at each other. Promise me we will always take good care of each other so we can grow old together.

Rob... thanks for being who you are. You are the most loving, patient, hard working, loyal, honest, giving, funny, respectful, and kind spirited man I know. You are an AMAZING husband and father. When life is hard I want you in my corner. When life is easy I want you in my corner. When life is anything and everything in between... I want you in my corner. We are more than a married couple. We are friends and I am just so glad you are mine to dance with week to week!

Cheers Rob! I'm hoping we will celebrate many more happy years together... I love you with all of my heart! I am yours faithfully... now and forever. Let the good times roll... the best is yet to be!!! Amen.