28 June 2014

Missouri Trip Part III - Fireflies and Lake Houses

I'm home now. Just rolled back into Florida, and I really never want to see the inside of a car again for a very long time.

Or at least until Monday when I have to drive around to my patients houses again. Yay.

I had a fabulous time with my family. Really, really great. This was, after all, a strictly family-based vacation since I haven't seen any of my side of the family since February when my parents came to visit.

So....warning: We are about to go down a really, really sappy branch of memory lane.

You know what I really missed about Missouri?

Those fantastic Midwest thunderstorms that roll in and stick around for awhile. Florida does get some pretty spectacular storms, but they're usually over in about five minutes. Minus the hurricanes.

We had one while I was there.

And of course, Dad and I go out into the driveway to look up at the sky as big, fat raindrops splash us in the face and the lightening crisscrosses the sky.

Obligatory funeral home shot right there, folks.

We used to do the same thing when the tornado sirens went off, which is probably why I'm petrified with even the smallest tornado watch alert.

Then again, when you grow up where I did, not much freaks you out.

I also missed the fireflies. For some reason, Florida just doesn't have them.

My parent's backyard right now has millions. It's gorgeous. It reminds me of family BBQs and catching fireflies in jars and bonfires and s'mores.

My cousin Andrew and I also discovered you could smash the fireflies and smear their light trail on your arms. You could also make glow-rings out of their butts. We were cool like that.

I took some pretty spectacular firefly video, but it won't upload to the blog. So trust me. It was amazing.

What else did I miss? For as long as I can remember, we've always had a place at the Lake of the Ozarks. Many summer mornings we would load up friends and swimsuits and sunscreen and head for the Lake for a day, a long weekend, a week, etc. So this trip back, we decided to go visit our favorite places.

This is my home-away-from-home.

So many memories here.

My old bedroom in the loft. I loved waking up to the smell of mom making coffee. The sound of dad snoring until noon when we would wake him up to go swimming or for him to make his famous salsa eggs.

Summers at the Lake meant staying up late whispering to my sister about the cute boys we saw down on the docks. Nighttime boat rides to watch the fireworks at Tan-Tar-A. Swimming in the pool because I refuse to swim anywhere there are fish, sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee while watching the sun rise over the bluffs.

Trips to Randy's. Always the trips to Randy's.

No matter how close I live to the ocean, I will always hold the Lake in my heart. I'm a Lake Girl. 

It was so great to be able to reminisce with my family this week. We might be getting older, but in my mind we're all still stuck in the '90's!! 

Today I love: Getting home to my puppies (I would say Matt, but he won't arrive until tomorrow)! What I don't love is the dog hair everywhere since we don't board the dogs when we're gone. They have complete run of the house with the pet sitter, which means the rest of the night I'll be vacuuming up dog hair and deodorizing the couches. Yay me!

Stay tuned for more Missouri Adventures...

27 June 2014

Missouri Trip Part II - The Arrival

I have to admit that all through high school and college the only thing I wanted to do was leave Missouri. I thought it was boring and the same thing all the time and all I wanted was something different.

Then, you grow up. You do leave. You move to other states - and yes, you have fun being nomadic adventurers exploring what different states have to offer.

But then you realize what was left behind, and you actually start looking forward to going back to your home state.

Saturday afternoon, when we crossed over from Illinois into Missouri, I saw a sight that brought tears to my eyes.

Cheesy, I know. But it's true!!

Home isn't home without the St. Louis Arch.

I had a to-do and to-see list to accomplish while here at home, and seeing the Arch was on there somewhere.


Imo's Pizza was number one on the list. NUMBER ONE.

A St. Louis classic, I grew up on this stuff. I crave it when I'm not at home.

Imo's is a religion down here, and I am more than happy to partake.

Plus, St. Louis is the birthplace of REAL toasted ravioli - not that nasty stuff elsewhere in the world that consists of floppy noodles and disgusting cheese filling.

This is how God intended ravioli to be.

And please ignore my husband when he says that Imo's is nothing more than ketchup on a cracker. Imo's pizza is tasty deliciousness of a super-thin crust smothered with provel cheese. Provel - completely processed and completely amazing.

For fun reading, try "One City's Love Affair with Processed Cheese" from NPR.

This is my heritage, people.

Day One in the Eaton Household consisted of - of course - Makeup with Aunt Addie!!!!!

Do you remember the Makeup Party last November?

Pretty much the same, except this time we were able to smear all sorts of colors and sparkles all over grandma's kitchen table.


And I'm not sure who's awesome idea this was, but Addie and Addie were put together in the same room. Maybe because of all the 3's? I'm 33 and she's 3?

In any case, this was the sleeping arrangement.

I was on the bottom trundle, because Aunt Addie sometimes has to get up in the middle of the night to go to the potty, and we didn't want her to be climbing over Little Addie at 2am.

That, and I'm not quite the Princess Sofia aficionado that my niece is.

Adelyn saw her new Princess Sofia sheets and screamed at the top of her lungs, "MooMoo (what she calls her grandma), this makes me SO HAPPY!!!"

Here's how bedtime went down:

8:30pm - Adelyn goes to bed.
9:30pm - Aunt Addie goes to bed, because we all know she can't stay up much later than that without developing a case of the grumpies.
11:30pm - Adelyn rolls out of bed, right onto Aunt Addie. After Aunt Addie catches her breath and scoots over, Addie and Addie snuggle in and go back to sleep.
12:30am - Adelyn wakes up and states "This isn't my bed! I need to go back to my bed!" I help her get back into her bed and we fall back asleep.
1:30am - Adelyn rolls out of bed again, right on top of Aunt Addie. Again. Aunt Addie groans and scoots over, and ignores the fact that one of us smells like a little bit of pee.
3:00am - Aunt Addie wakes up to the touch of a little hand patting her face and a little voice saying "Aunt Addie!! Aunt Addie!! What are you doing???"

3am people. 3am.

Aunt Addie then gives up any premise of trying to sleep and decides the couch will be her bed for rest of the week.

Amen and amen.

26 June 2014

Missouri Trip Part 1 - The Great Idea

This year for my summer vacation, my sister and I decided that instead of planning some sort of awesome tropical getaway (because, come on - I have enough sand in my car and shoes as it is from living in Florida), it would be a good idea for all of us to meet up in Missouri at our parent's house to visit them and our grandpa.

Grandpa and I aren't getting any younger, and we wanted the chance to visit with him as much as possible this week, because he's definitely not up for 18 hour car trips to visit me. So we come to him.

And of course, I'm solo. Matt is up to his eyeballs in his Master's classes (last count was that he was on page 36 of a massive paper), so he needed some time alone to concentrate - plus he flew out today to go to Ohio for some big presentation or thesis discussion or something.

Thank you JESUS we don't have summer baseball this year.

So what do I do?

I come up with the awesome idea to drive to my sister's last Friday, help her and Cole load up the family van with a three-year-old and one-year-old, and drive from Georgia to Missouri.

Let me repeat: with a three-year-old and a one-year-old.

Seriously awesome idea, right?

They were waiting in the driveway when I arrived Friday afternoon, and Adelyn was beyond herself with excitement. Liddie kept playing with rocks and bugs...letting me know where I stand in her life.

Let's recap some highlights so far:
  • I'm now referring to myself in the third-person as "Aunt Addie."
As in, "Aunt Addie has Twizzlers and Diet Coke and animal crackers and caffeine pills!!!! Who would like some??" And "Aunt Addie has to go potty. Does anyone else need to go potty?" And "Aunt Addie has a headache and needs to go lay down and her iPhone battery died so no, we cannot listen to all the Frozen songs again and again and again. And again."
  • Speaking of, I've impressed not only my nieces, but also my brother-in-law that me, the Childless Wonder, knows every word to every song in Frozen.

  • I now know the entire soundtrack to any Dora episode ever.

  • Baby Einstein videos are referred to as "baby crack." And it's seriously true.

  • I've taught Adelyn that when someone tells her she's pretty, she needs to respond with an "I know!" My sister loves that one.

  • The sound of babies crying does not register with me anymore. It's pretty much white noise. All the time white noise.

  • Adelyn and I have formed a gang. We're now called "The Addies."

We have our own hand signs and everything.

More Missouri posts to come...we're sneaking off to the store while the kids are watching Frozen with their daddy. Again. For the 139th time.

Wait. Scratch that. We're now all watching Frozen as a family. You know, more bonding time over Disney animation.

Today I love: The sound of Adelyn saying "Aunt Addie, you're my favorite Addie ever."

17 March 2014

One Year

I just realized I haven't posted since January.


For the love, people. You all have to keep me on track!

A lot of things have happened since January.

High School baseball season started. Of course. That's why you haven't seen me and I haven't seen my husband.

And, per my last post, at the end of January, we did become the parents of our new husky, Kaia. She's not the missing-ear dog we thought we would get out of Orlando...that dog was more of a one-dog family (which, um, is definitely not us). Our new girl is a rescue from Tampa who had a pretty (and unfortunately, literally) beat-up life.

Now she has us, her bear, and her own spot on the sofa.

Heaven help you if you try to remove her from her spot on the sofa.

Or take her bear.

Seriously. This girl and her bear. It's an obsession.

I joined the local running club, my parents came to visit, my cousin spent spring break with us and Matt's parents will be here this weekend.
We finally saw Frozen, and now I'm the weird 33-year-old who runs to the soundtrack on her iPod.

Plus, it's still baseball season. Still.


You know what else is still going on? My job.

I know, right? I'm still employed! I still love what I do! And because I'm still employed, I hope that means they still love me!

Tomorrow is my official one-year anniversary with Treasure Coast Hospice. I know you wouldn't think you could use the words "happy" and "hospice" in the same sentence, but that's how I am right now.

Hospice has taught me so many things. How to deal with sadness and grief and end-of-life issues, sure. It's hospice, for crying out loud. Those things are part of the obvious package.

Here's the part where I get dramatic and melancholy, just to warn you.

I've learned to appreciate my days more. Sure, I might be stressed out to the point of crying and screaming and chocolate and multiple Diet Cokes, but you know what? I was able to get out of bed this morning - on my own. I was able to dress myself this morning -on my own. Granted, scrubs and a ponytail aren't that difficult to achieve, but hey. I'll take it. I was able to think and talk and make my own decisions and order pizza for dinner. When the same-old becomes the same-old day after day, it's ok. I'll take it.

I've learned that compassion and a positive attitude and a listening ear goes a lot further with my patients than just shoving them full of another pill. By going into their homes and saying "Hey! I'm your nurse! Where are you from - since I know you're not from Florida because no one is actually from Florida!!" you set the tone of your meetings. My patients are happily surprised that I'm not there to remind them that they're dying visit after visit. I'm there to make sure they're comfortable and still be able to have a great time living out the remainder of whatever time they have left. We don't focus on dying. We focus on the present moment - something they don't think of when they hear the scary word "hospice." As our work mantra goes, we treasure life.

I've learned that my fellow nurses and co-workers are fantastic sounding boards and stress-relievers. To be 100% honest, we all have a rather weird, warped sense of humor when we're not on the clock. And even maybe when we're on the clock. Maybe. Maybe it's because I brought my weird, warped sense of humor to the job that only comes with growing up in a funeral home. Whatever the case, we can be dark and sarcastic around each other one minutes, and we can laugh and vent and cry on each other's shoulders the next. My co-workers are fabulous sources of information...we call each other daily just to run ideas and theories by each other. I'm never alone. If I have a patient who is freaking out and won't stop throwing up and I've gotten mucus all over my scrubs and I have to get the urine sample to the lab by 3:00 when they close and it's 2:45 and I'm on the other side of town, never fear. I mean, yes. Fear and trembling and speeding across town to get to the lab, sure. But at the end of the day we sit and talk and I find out that yay! I'm not the only one going through this. It's awesome.

I've learned it's ok to cry for my patients, for people I might have known this entire year or only an entire day. Sure, not to cry so much that my patient's family has to comfort me, but to cry in empathy and sadness for their loss. To acknowledge their own sadness and not just sit there filling out funeral home paperwork or staring at the charting on my computer screen. To pay tribute to a life. A person. A fellow human being. I had a family member tell me last week that it meant so much to them to see me tear up when their father died - that they knew their father had made an impact on my life in just the short time I knew him. They were grateful to know I cared.

I think I also had to go to the bathroom since I hadn't gone in 12 hours, but still.



I love my patients. I love to find out who they were before they became bedbound. I love when they want to tell me about their kids and grandkids, their dogs, their jobs, the places they've traveled. I love when they open up and tell me things they are scared to tell their family, but by sharing their thoughts and fears they gain the courage to make things right with their mother or daughter or son or dad. They like to know they're not just a patient in a hospital bed, that their dreams and fears and thoughts and feelings still matter.

So here's what I plan to do as I celebrate my one year with hospice.

  • Look people in the eye more often. Be an active listener. Make them know that they matter.
  • Laugh more. Give more. Realize we're not promised tomorrow, so we better make the most of each breath today.
  • Let things go. As my husband likes to remind me, "It is what it is." No matter how much energy I spend complaining and griping and wanting to pull my hair out, my circumstances are dictated by how I react to a situation. I can actually choose to be happy or upset, relaxed or stressed. Positive or negative. It is what it is!
  • Appreciate the little things that I used to find so insignificant. If I get bored with my work-sleep-work-sleep routine day in and day out, guess what? At least I have a work-sleep routine. I'm not bedbound. I don't have to have someone else talk for me. I can feed myself (Diet Coke, mostly). Some days, these are major accomplishments.
So that's that. How do you celebrate the days you've been given?

Today I love: Warm, spring-like temps with a nice ocean breeze and sitting outside while I blog. And drink Diet Coke.

I also love my niece, who I'm currently molding to become part of the next great generation of nurses.

Exam gloves on the feet? Nailed it.

11 January 2014


Ok, January.

Holidays are over, traveling is over, taking care of my two nieces is over.

We're home for awhile.


Except, well, baseball starts on Monday.

Thanks, Florida!

So while Matt is busy filling our garage up with baseball crap equipment, I'm doing what I do this time every year.

Trying to figure out how I'm going to fill my time from now until May, when I'll see my beloved again.

Except, well, for summer ball. Then fall ball. Then...

You get the idea.

Several things are happening:

1. My parents are coming to visit! The last time they were here was in 2012, because someone just had to have two adorably cute babies and my parents magically turned into SuperGrandpeople overnight and choose to use all their time driving back and forth between Missouri and Georgia. Further proving my point that the baby of the family - in this case my little sister - is always the favorite. Sick.

Just kidding. I know they love me. It's not their fault we moved seven million miles away into the depths of Florida.

So yay! They'll be here in February. Matt's parents will be here in March. I have a cousin who might also spend her spring break down here in March. No matter who comes between Monday and May, you won't see Matt at all, which everyone has been told and warned of ahead of time. But on the other hand...

2. They might get to meet a new addition to the family! We're currently in the process of adopting another husky. The Siberian Husky Rescue out of Tampa has a six-year-old girl available, and we're interested. The group takes adoptions very seriously...our references and vet check checked out, so today was our home visit. A volunteer came here to make sure our house is safe and pet-friendly.

Um, do you think there will be a problem? Bunch of lazy dogs...

We kind of have a special-needs dog home going on over here anyway. Suka has been blind with cataracts since he was six months old (unfortunately common in huskies), and Knuke is somewhat neurotic and scared of EVERYTHING. This new girl is six and is missing an ear from trying to fight off something from taking her babies...the babies, of course, got adopted quickly but not many people like an older, damaged dog. We do! We do! Plus she's already housebroken. Bonus.

If we pass the home inspection, we'll get to drive up to Orlando to meet her. I keep calling her "her" and "she" because the rescue has currently listed her name as "Precious," which will not stay with her if she becomes a part of our family.

Matt probably wants a name like Shaq or Dirt or Cleat or something. I'm thinking something more like Loki or Juneau.

3. New Year, New Me - back in October I quit CrossFit. It was my addiction of choice at the time, and if you haven't read my post about why I quit, it's probably for not what you think. And I miss it. I think about CrossFit a LOT. A LOT A LOT. But I'm getting back to what's tried and true for me - running. My first love. This girl has three marathons and four half-marathons under her belt, and it's been years since I've seriously ran. The pounds have snuck back on and it's a struggle to get 3-5 miles done.

Who am I kidding? 2-3 miles is a struggle. For shame. 

This is the face of a hard three miles this morning. We shared some ice cubes post-run.

My neighbor is an avid (and I mean avid) runner - she's in her 60's and runs multiple marathons a year - and mentioned to me that the Runners Depot here in Vero has training sessions that go on a couple times each year.

Today I signed up for the spring group - we start January 28 and train through April. I'm very excited about this. I'll get matched with people who run my own pace, we get custom workouts and create goals, nutrition coaching, running coaching...just like when I started training back in 2004 with Team in Training. I'm looking forward to seriously hitting the pavement again and getting back in shape.

4. My friend Marilyn took me to the coolest place today. I love little local gems like this.

The White Rabbit Organic Farm.

It's a family-owned farm that has a co-op of other local farmers, all organic produce and other such items.

Their store is on the honor system - you go in, find what you want, measure it out or weigh it, fill out your ticket, put your money in an envelope, and drop it in the drop box. 

I picked out some heirloom tomatoes and some local raw honey. 

It's a place my mother-in-law would love.

We also went down the road to Schacht Groves, another local, family owned place that is, obviously, local citrus groves.

Marilyn introduced me to one of the owners, who I was happy to discover is originally from Clayton, Missouri. Yay STL! She liked my Cardinals iPhone case.

I ended up getting some grapefruit, and Marilyn traded me one for some honeybells, which are apparently the equivalent of crack down here this time of year. They're pretty much deep orange oranges that taste like candy.

I'm ok with that. 

Have I mentioned how much I love Florida in the Spring? Wait. I mean January.

Same thing.

And seriously. Lots of baseball stuff in the garage. True story.

Today I love: Discovering funky local places and free samples of orange juice straight from the grove in the backyard.