I have been MIA from this site for a couple months and it seems so much has happened that I don't really know where to begin. I guess I will start out by saying... "Happy New Year!" I hope that it has been for those of you who read this silly little scroll of my so called life. Mine seems to by flying by so fast that each time I seemingly blink another day has past. I have so much to catch up on and I will do my best not to ramble but there are no promisess there.
First up... The Christmas season was full of magic this year with Ava! I will post all of it in a nut shell ASAP in my next entry from the days leading up to it, the decorating, baking, Ava's Christmas concert, meeting Santa, giving up her NUK, Christmas morning and more... There is a lot to share and a ton of pictures as well.
Second... Rob and I celebrated our anniversary this month. Number 6 but who is counting. We had a simple celebration to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse downtown. More to come later...
Third... We rung in the New Year's at the cabin which was a first! We had a great time with our friends the Arnoldink's. The kids played hard, The men fished, and the women relaxed and sewed all weekend. I need to get some pictures downloaded from Kris so I can share more of it with you.
Fourth... Home improvements are underway from Home Decor'changes to Basement finishing projects.
Fifth and lastly, there changes underway in my job. It has been weighing heavy on my heart for quite some time. I know I have vented here about work before and how it's mostly unpleasant and the lack of leadership has nursing morale as far down as it can get. We are being mandated extra hours one to two times a week to cover the evening cases. Staff seems to be expendable and the firing of competent employees seems to never end. It is this work in fear and perform well under intimidation that has me wondering what I am even doing working for an organization that treats staff so poorly??? SIMPLE... It's because I would need to move to Cadillac to get away from Spectrum Health. They seem to hold the majority of nursing jobs in our area and St. Mary's and Metro don't look all that appealing either. So, I hold onto what little seniority I have and count down the days to my retirement or for when the dream of moving to Lake City becomes a reality.
We have been under this new shift of management in order to replace the mass numbers of upper management and also hire regular staff to replace those who have been fired. We have a new young nurse manager in charge of our unit and making us a carbon copy of Butterworth seems to be his sole mission. This is not a complement in case you are wondering. While I am not envious of his position I can also say I am not overly impressed with his antics either. The numbers in staffing is such a game and to those of us in the trenches living the reality of decisions made by people who don't work these hours is extremely irritating. Work is sucking the life out of me. Why they continue to make a king sized bed with a twin sized sheet is beyond me. But I need my job so I smile politely and work the extra hours assigned and remind myself I am lucky to have a job that pays the bills.
We just went through a re-bid for hours. You guessed it... new manager's idea. We are now like Butterworth and no longer have rotating shifts. We voted for our new hours based on some computed number Human Resources gave us that was 1/3 hospital seniority, 1/3 OR seniority, and 1/3 performance review. Talk about making the process extremely complicated as we waited for our work emails to arrive with this number that stated our rank for picking hours. We had to rate our choices for hours based on eight choices. To try and make this make any sense the choices were as followed... 7-3, 7-5, 7-7, 9-5, 9-9, 11-7, 11-11, or weekends only. After the vote they decided how many of these spots were open under each slot and then assigned us accordingly. I heard no one received a shift below their 4th choice. This was something we were told to be happy about. Nice.
I have been working part time since I came back to work after losing Elise. There have been extra shifts available it seems and the flexibility of having more freedom seemed worth paying the extra premium to carry full time insurance. But now after being part time for four plus years, Rob's lay off situation, and having Ava to support has made me re-think my status of being part-time. Is the flexibility worth it or not?
The intention of the re-bid is to shift us to work longer hours to cover the evening. It was a concern of mine that once the hours were decided I would not be able to pick up hours in the evening or any in general because this should fix some of the staffing issues we currently face. I currently work three eight hour days one week and four the next. They call this a .7 status. Meaning, I work seven out of ten shifts bi-weekly. I usually pick up at least one shift on my three day week and then stay over two hours here and there when Rob can pick Ava up from daycare. It's a shuffle but it's what I am used to doing to support my family. So if I really work .8 and higher why wouldn't I just go full time and pay less for insurance while Rob's job is in the air? It seems so logical but the idea of it makes me nervous as a person who really doesn't like the politics of her job and would do most anything to stay at home raising my daughter. Ava Elise fuels my life and despite all of the work she brings me more joy than any day spent at Spectrum Health could ever dream of bringing.
I decided that I could not bear to go to work every day and have Ava raised at AppleTree. I want to be home as much as possible with her and deal with antics at Spectrum as little as possible while providing a paycheck to live off in the event Rob has no hours on the clock. I picked 7-7 as my first choice and full time status. Gulp.... That's exactly what I got.
I begin full time again on Feb 26th which is not that far off. I hope that it is the best decision for my family and that it will work out for all of us in the long run. They will be long and hard days away from them and physically exhausting. I hope that the four days a week I will be home to maintain our house, the insurance credit, no more weekends shifts, and the guaranteed hours will make it all worth it in the long run. I hope that I can get on a more organized routine with house cleaning, bills, laundry, groceries, and meal planning which is tough to juggle on my own. I hope spending four full days with Ava will be better than my current schedule of less hours spaced over more days. I hope she adjusts to going to AppleTree two days a week every week with ease. I am so thankful my mom is still willing to watch her for me one day a week! I am looking forward to planning out our days this summer since I will have two 5 day streches built in, every other friday off, and only one weekend with two call shifts. I hope I will have more personal time as well to enjoy and nuture my own hobbies. I am anxious on the mandate process and what I can do to avoid being mandated on my day's off and how I will juggle the extra hours. My finger's are crossed that it will work itself out in the end. Who knows... maybe you will even hear from me more here!
Mom... I need a break from all of your stories. Shhhhhhh... I'm trying to sleep.
Ava's 2 Weeks Old!
Check me out.
Ava's 1 Week Old!
Ava's Birthday 04/15/2009!
I made it safe and sound. Tweet-Tweet!
Ava Elise Kolkman
April 27, 2009 Ava had professional photos taken at our nest... Rob and I had this set up for Elise but were never given the chance to experience this joy with her. So this event was bitter sweet at Home Sweet Kolkman. The beautiful dress that Ava is wearing was given to Elise in the hospital but she never had the chance to wear it. Ava looked beautiful in her big sister's gown. I am glad she was able to have her photos taken in something of Elise's... which is not always easy for us to do. With love and tears... Rob and I will keep our daughters connected in all of the ways we can. Tweet-Tweet... Our second daughter, Ava, is a wonderful addition to our family. We are so blessed to have her in our lives.
Ava & Levi meet!
04/26/09 Elise & Annika are so proud of our smiles...
Elise Renee Kolkman
10/13/2007... Forever in Our Hearts
To Elise on Mothers Day
A Mother's Day Gift From God-
Lord today is Mother's Day,
but my heart is split in two.
Half of my heart is still here,
the other with Elise, who is there with you.
All the lovely presents are a nice surprise.
But the only thing I want most is missing,
and tears fill up my eyes.
I know when you sent her Lord,
You didn't promise how long she would stay.
All you said was to love her and treasure each and every day.
But Lord it crushed my heart,
when you called for her return.
I really feel like half a Mom, as I ache, weep, and yearn.
But Lord Please tell Elise that I Love her
just as much as I did before.
And could you please make a window,
so she can see through heaven's floor?
Let her see that she is missed and thought of with every breath.
And that a Mother's love begins before life,
and does not end with death.
So on this Mother's Day,
She's the Greatest Gift I Give To You.
For Lord I know you missed her,
and you Love her too.
From Elise on Mothers Day
Dear Mr. Hallmark,
I am writing to you from heaven, and though it must appear a rather strange idea, I see everything from here.
I just popped in to visit your stores to find a card. A card of love for my mommy as this day for her is hard.
There must be some mistake I thought. I saw every card you could imagine. Except I could not find a card from a child who lives in heaven.
She is still a mother too, no matter where I reside. I had to leave, she understands, but oh the tears she's cried.
I thought that if I wrote you, that you would come to know... That though I live in heaven now, I still love my mommy so.
She talks with me, and dreams with me, we still share laughter too. Memories are our way of speaking now, would you see what you could do?
My mother carries me in her heart, her tears she hides from sight. She writes songs to honor me, sometimes far into the night.
She plants a tree in my garden, there my living memory dwells. She talks to other grieving parents, trying to ease their pain as well.
So you see Mr. Hallmark, though I no longer live on earth I must find a way, to remind her of her wonderous worth.
She needs to be honored, and remembered too... Just as the children on earth will do.
Thank you Mr. Hallmark. I know you'll do your best. I have done all I can do... to you I'll leave the rest.
Find a way to tell her, how much she means to me. Until I can do it for myself, when she joins me in eternity.
Adapted from the I-Village.com website