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35 steps to getting your nursing license (if you're me)

1.  Decide you want to become a nurse.

2.  Listen to some people tell you that you don’t really want to do that because it’s hard.

3.  Continue to think maybe you really do want to be a nurse.

4.  Apply for nursing school.

5.  Secretly hope that most of the other applicants fail microbiology so you have less competition.

6.  Get into nursing school despite the competition.

7.  Write a thousand care plans of dubious quality because it’s 3 a.m. and you have to be at the hospital in three and a half hours and you just need to finish because if you don’t get at least 20 minutes of sleep there’s a good chance you’ll try to stick a Foley catheter in the wrong hole.

8.  Progress from being terrified of patients and pretty sure you’re accidentally going to kill someone to feeling like you probably won’t.

9.  Meet a patient who helps you realize how lucky you are.  And then meet a lot more.  Suddenly studying doesn’t seem like a burden when you meet someone who went to the ER and said he was going to kill himself just so he would be placed on an involuntary hold for 72 hours and would have access to food, shelter, and desperately needed psych medications in the dead of winter.

10.  Learn that the mannequins in the simulation lab at school have much better-defined … um … anatomical parts than do actual humans, meaning that the fear in number 7 is actually possible when your patient is female.

11.  Learn that you truly are capable of using that “therapeutic communication” stuff the teachers talk about, and that someone who is in crisis can honestly benefit from your presence.

12.  Realize that yes, nursing school was hard, but you can do this.  You really, really can.

13.  Graduate.

14.  Be excited that you graduated.

15.  Begin the interminable wait for you transcripts to be available so you can turn them in and get approved to take the NCLEX licensing exam.

16.  Spend a lot of time on Facebook.

17.  When one of your Facebook friends posts “Transcripts are ready!”, order your transcripts.  (After “liking” their status, of course.  You’re not a caveman.)

18.  Drive your transcripts up to Denver to hand them in personally so you can be sure they arrived.

19.  Pay $8 for parking, and then drag your kids around downtown Denver looking for the appropriate building.

20.  Tell your kids no, they can’t play in that fountain because you’re not even sure it’s actually a fountain because it sort of looks like a water main break and you don’t want them to be swallowed by a sinkhole right now because that would definitely impede your progress toward turning in your transcripts.

21.  Drag them around the block again.

22.  No, they still can’t play in that fountain.  You don’t want to deal with an E. coli outbreak right when you’re trying to study for the NCLEX.

23.  Realize that you had the address wrong and the building was right in front of you the whole time.

24.  Drag your kids across a busy street while the older one freaks out because the younger one let go of your hand for half a second and that means INSTANT DEATH.

25.  Finally make it into the appropriate building.

26.  Get on the wrong elevator because you don’t realize that in highrise-land, not all elevators go to all the floors.

27.  Get on the right elevator and settle a fight between your children over who gets to push the button for the floor you want to go to.  Unfortunately, the winner of the fight is the one who doesn’t know what the number 13 looks like.

28.  Hand in your transcripts.  The euphoria lasts exactly 2.3 seconds before your kids start arguing again.

29.  Begin the interminable wait to get your authorization to take the NCLEX.

30.  Watch as all your Facebook friends post statuses about their NCLEX dates while you wait and wonder why the hell you don’t have your authorization yet.

Note:  The rest of this list is pure conjecture, because I’m still mired in step 30.

31.  Get your authorization.

32.  Study like a maniac until the test date.

33.  Take the test.

34.  Pass it.

35.  Get your license.  Congratulations, you’re officially an RN!  Now get a job.


One-act play: A moment of peace

Alternate title: This is what happens when I try to take a shower with conscious children in the house

Scene:  A haggard, bedraggled woman -- let’s call her Heather -- is taking a shower after a morning full of doing her children’s bidding.  She is clearly happy to be alone for the first time that day.  After approximately 60 seconds of quiet, a seven-year-old girl -- let’s call her Kaylee -- bursts into the bathroom.

KAYLEE:  Mommy!  How many hours until my birthday party?

HEATHER:  (Sighs.)  I don’t know, sweetie.  I don’t have a clock in here.

KAYLEE:  Ok.  When you get out can you tell me how many hours?

HEATHER:  Sure. 

KAYLEE:  I have to go potty.


(Toilet flushes.  HEATHER grimaces as water changes temperature.)

KAYLEE:  There was a piece of toilet paper in there.  Now I’m going to go potty.


KAYLEE, as she is doing her business:  Can you learn how to make a braid bun?  I really want to have a braid bun because they’re so pretty.  I think you make a braid and put it in a bun.  I’ve been playing Minecraft on Daddy’s computer.  I tried to play it on your computer but it wasn’t working, so now I’m playing it on Daddy’s computer.  I can’t wait until my birthday party because Keira’s going to be there.  I’ll probably say hi to the other kids, but I’ll mostly play with Keira.  I love going to Chuck E. Cheese.  I hope I get to see Chuck E.  I hope I get to get tickets from that wind machine thing.  I wonder why Minecraft isn’t working on your computer.

(Toilet flushes again.  Heather grimaces again.)

KAYLEE:  Mama!  The toilet’s clogged! 

HEATHER, sighing:  Ok.  Just leave it.  I’ll take care of it.


(KAYLEE runs out of the room, turning off the lights as she goes.  The curtain closes as HEATHER sighs again, in the dark.)




I can’t decide what to do with this blog.

I’m doing the Worst Job Ever updating it, and it costs $13.33 a month to keep it online.  Granted, I spend more than that on Diet Coke, so the expense isn’t a major issue.  But as often as I update, I might as well take that money, wad it up and throw it in the trash for all the good it does.  (Or if I wanted to put it to work for real, I could take the blog down and donate $13.33 to charity each month or give it to a homeless person … but that’s so much work and the trash can is right there.)

Do I keep the blog online so all of the internets (read: no one) can fondly recall that one span of a few years when I regularly wrote about my kids?

Do I take it down and feel guilty that all my loving chatter about my children is gone for good?  (The guilt, of course, is because I’m too lazy to have kept a baby book, so this is as good as they’re ever gonna get.)

Do I chatter some more and see if it becomes a creative outlet once again?

I can’t bring myself to shutter it for good right now.  But I don’t feel comfortable talking about my kids so openly anymore either.  Kaylee’s in school now and learning to read, and I can’t stand the thought of embarrassing her to her friends.  And I can’t write too much about school because so much of it involves patient care and there’s that whole HIPAA thing where I get kicked out of school and won’t be able to get a job if I violate it, so there’s not much to say there either.

But.  I haven’t been writing for myself for a really long time now, and that just feels wrong somehow.  So I guess I’ll try this blogging thing again and see if it sticks.  We’ll call this the Jackadillo Princess Grand Reopening Project -- Now With the Same Old Management and Even Fewer Ideas.

This was a good start, no?  I wrote more than 300 words and said almost nothing.  And isn’t that really what blogging’s all about?


Dear Robbie, at 2 years 9 months

Dear Budders,

Yes, I realize it's been like a year since the last time I wrote one of these letters, and I sincerely apologize for neglecting my chronicling of your every cute habit. With hard work, I'm sure your future therapist can help you learn to forgive me for this slight. But I'm writing now because a friend recently wrote something about hugging her grandsons, and I felt the sudden need to tell you that, buddy, you give the very best hugs.

Up until several weeks ago, when someone asked for a hug you'd just kind of lean your head into them for a second and let them do the actual hugging. I guess Grandma got tired of your affectionate head butts, because one day she decided to teach you how to give a "squeeze hug."  Now if I'm holding you and I ask for a squeeze hug, you lean back slightly, throw your arms wide and hug me with your whole body. I can tell you honestly that if I've had a bad day and want nothing more than to lie in bed with the covers pulled over my head, one of those hugs goes a long way toward bringing me back around.

Obviously you've been through a lot of developmental changes since your last letter, so I'll just try to hit the highlights. You are so fun and silly and adorable that sometimes I just sit still and watch you play, amazed at how far you’ve come.  You pretend our car is a train and I’m the conductor, and you correct me when I accidentally break character and call it a car.  You say, “Bust my buffers!” when your toy trains wind up in a head-on collision with each other or Lightning McQueen.  You have a wonderful smile.

A couple of weeks ago we took you to Golden to see Thomas the Tank Engine himself, during an annual “Day Out With Thomas” event at the Railway Museum.  I knew you would enjoy it, but I had no idea the intensity with which you would approach this adventure.  When we arrived and you caught your first glimpse of the life-sized Thomas, your grin was enormous.  But that was one of the last smiles we saw on your face that day.  Not because you weren’t enjoying yourself, but because you were so intensely focused on making sure you didn’t miss anything.  As soon as one thing was over, it was crucial to your survival that we see the next cool thing.  And if that cool thing happened to be a fire truck or a petting zoo, your reaction was a strong NO THANK YOU WE MUST GET BACK TO THE TRAINS.  Except without the “thank you” part.  I saw so much of myself in you that day.  I vividly recall trips to amusement parks where I only reluctantly allowed your dad a moment of rest before making him move on to the next ride, because there are so few hours in the day that it’s important to maximize the fun when you have the chance.  And what if I missed a cool roller coaster?  What if you missed a cool train?

We adopted a cat, and odds are good that you’ll never remember a time in your life that we didn’t have Sully.  Unless, of course, you accidentally kill him.  You love that kitten as intensely as any two-year-old can love a pet, but you don’t understand that he’s just a tiny thing with tiny bones and a tiny windpipe that maybe can’t withstand the vigorous hugs of a toddler.  Fortunately, the cat has developed some defense mechanisms, like running the hell away when he sees you coming.  If you catch him, he simply goes limp, figuring he’s less likely to get hurt if he turns into a ragdoll.  We tell you over and over to be gentle with the kitty, but who can remember those kinds of instructions when a bundle of cute is on your lap and suddenly it bites you and you really, really need to chuck it across the room?  I understand, buddy.  I really do.  Just, please try.

I could go on and on about how much I love being your mother, but I think you get the point.  You are awesome.

I love you,



The first rule of Kitten Fight Club

We have a fairly frantic morning routine around these here parts, mostly because both Rob and I cherish every single moment of sleep we can get, every single morning.  So if the alarm goes off at 6:15, I know I can stay in bed until about 6:32 before I start an avalanche that makes everyone in the house late for their respective school/job.  I'm telling you this so you'll understand that it takes an Event to bring the morning rush to a standstill, because we don't leave ourselves a moment to spare.

This morning I was helping Rob get Robbie to the car when Rob stopped suddenly and stared at the open bag of dog food on the garage floor.  He looked at me, eyes wide.  Then he looked at the dog food.  Then he looked at me.

"What is it?" I asked, impatient to get the easily distractable toddler into the car.

He looked at the dog food again, saying nothing, then looked back at me.  Obviously there was something going on that I should have seen and/or heard by now, but I just wasn't getting it.

"WHAT?" I demanded.

"There's a m-o-u-s-e in the dog food bag, jumping to get out," Rob said.

Ooooohhhh.  My goal was suddenly to see the mouse without letting Robbie know it was in there, because he would most likely want to cuddle it and name it Thomas.

Rob guided Robbie to the car, while I had visions of mouse poop and hantavirus and wondered about the best way to get that thing out of my garage without touching any part of a rodent.  Then I peeked inside and learned there were actually four mice in the bag, alternating between snacking on Ol' Roy Healthy Mix and trying to leap to their freedom.

"Should we carry the bag outside?" I said.  "I guess we should also throw the food away, because they probably pooped in it and stuff."

Rob took that as a suggestion to close the bag and throw the whole thing in our big plastic garbage can outside.  I imagined the poor, panicked little disease-carriers closed up in the dark, awaiting their deaths and said, "Poor mice."

"Well, if they can get out of there, more power to them.  I'm late for work," Rob said.

"Is it bad that my first thought was to go get the kitten and throw him in the bag with the mice?" I asked.

"Um, there are four mice in there, and he's a kitten," Rob said.  "That would be like sending a toddler to Fight Club."

"At least I didn't actually do it."

Oh yeah, I should probably go ahead and mention that we got a kitten last week.  Look:

That is Sullivan Butterbean McDonnell, Esq., or Sully for short.  Now, I've never been much of a cat person, but I believe Sully can only be described as "totes adorbz." For now, I suppose it's ok for him to live here without having to earn his keep.  He provides plenty of snuggles and entertainment.  But someday he's going to be significantly less cute and might start peeing on my stuff.  When that day comes, I expect him to be a fluffy, cuddly little assassin.

Watch your backs, mice.