Monday, December 1, 2008


In the middle of November, we were able to make the time to take a little vacation. Since we wanted to take Brigita and conserve dollars, we decided to go camping. We road-tripped to South Carolina and camped near the ocean. The weather was perfect for camping - sweatshirts during the day and chilly at night.

The first evening when we arrived, it rained a little, so we set up our tent in drizzle and played games inside the tent with the sound of the rain to lull us to sleep. Brigita was skeptical about being outside in the chilly evenings, but we spoiled her with blankets and lots of cuddling. 

On our second day, we walked around on Edisto Beach during the day, which was about 1/2 mile from our campsite, and sat next to the campfire in the evening. 

We had planned to drive about 30 minutes to a campsite near Charleston and stay there for our last evening before starting the trip back, but we ended up finding a cheap hotel in the city instead (which Brigita loved). We were in Charleston about a year ago for one of Sean's residency interviews, and we just couldn't resist going back to places where we had been.  

We ate at our favorite little restaurant there, The Noisy Oyster, for lunch and got seated in the same booth that we had been in a year ago! Afterwards, we spent the evening watching the sun set on Folly Beach, right outside Charleston.

Yummy oysters and seafood smorgasbord were for dinner before crashing in a comfy hotel bed. Mmmm...

On the way back, I was able to snap some pictures out the window of the Appalachian Mountains as we drove through. We made the trip there and back in two days, so on our arrival day at home, we passed through Indiana early enough to stop at the Tippecanoe battleground site. 

Mom's Visit

In the beginning of November, during deer hunting, my mom came and visited me. My dad and brother were up hunting, and it was a good time for her to get away. She drove down all by herself. I was very proud of her. 

I had all these grand plans for us to go and do things - see the Shedd aquarium, walk the Magnificent Mile, go to fun restaurants... We actually ended up staying in for the better part of the time and watching movies that we had been talking about seeing with one another for months to years. It was so much fun! 

The first time that we went out, we didn't even go anywhere original. We went to Einstein Brothers and had breakfast bagels! Brigita loved all the attention and how much people were at home to play with her. Sean worked a lot, but he was able to spend some time with us on the Sunday while Mom was here.

We did manage to find a fantastic little coffee shop in Lincoln Square, very near our condo. They served Oatmeal Chai Lattes. "What is that," you ask? Well... it is a decadent little treat with oatmeal, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, etc. that they put in a very delicious chai latte recipe. You drink it and then eat the bottom with a spoon. Yum... 

On Sunday, when Sean was able to hang out with us, we went to church and then to a restaurant in Greek Town. Of course we had to get the flaming cheese appetizer! They pour brandy on a hunk of cheese and then light it on fire. It was delish. 

One of our servers loved Mom. She was herself, which constitutes being pretty funny at times, with no attempt to do so. Her comments throughout the meal amused him immensely. She really wanted to keep the extra bread at the end of our meal. She informed the server that you can't just waste good bread. HELLO?! He thought that was highly entertaining, so he brought her another basket's worth and placed it in our bag. When we left, her gave her a hug and asked if she could be his mom. I wish I had thought to get him in one of our pictures. 

After wonderful Greek food, we journeyed through the Chicago History Museum. Below is a picture of the closest that Mom got to a Chicago-style hotdog. She wanted one, but we just never got around to it.  

Brigita was all ready to go with her when she left. She was depressed for a day after. I think she missed all the attention and food scraps!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008


I would update my blog more if my pictures would actually upload onto the site in a timely manner!! ARRGH!!!!!


Sean and I were low-key on Halloween this year. I worked later than he did, and when I came home, he had surprised me with getting pumpkins for us to carve. We listened to music and had a grand old time! 

Monday, October 20, 2008


So I was confirmed for a shift this morning and then canceled within the next twenty minutes. And thus, here I am blogging at six o'clock in the morning. 

This has been a trend for me in the last few weeks. Last week I got plenty of hours, but the week before, I was available AND confirmed four days in a row, canceled in the morning for each one, and ended up with only eight hours of work.

So it is definitely hit and miss with agency work. I also heard through the grapevine at one of the hospitals where I go quite a bit, that this particular one is going to try to strive for no agency use at the beginning of November. Considering that one night I worked last week, three out of the six people there were not actually on staff at the hospital (two agency and one traveler), and apparently a hospital close to this one is closing (therefore more patients coming in) for financial reasons, I don't see how this is possible.'s all about money and financial trouble is the name of the game with hospitals - even more so now with the economy in it's current state. 

So I am little nervous about getting enough work. This time of year is slow for us anyway, because people are not going on vacation as much and are probably working extra hours to pay for the holidays. 

My dilemma...

Getting back to the agency vs. traveler scenario. A "traveler" does not necessarily even mean someone who is traveling here from somewhere else. You could live in Chicago and still be a traveler. That is what they call someone who has a short-term contract with the hospital for a certain amount of time and a certain amount of hours. 

#1 - I don't want to be a traveler (be on contract). One of the main reasons that I am working as an agency nurse as opposed to getting a "real job" is so that I can make my own hours. I love that. I don't have to work when Sean is off if I don't want to. He works so many hours that if I did work when he was off, I would never see him.

Getting a contract still allows you a little freedom with picking your hours but not much. They usually declare that you will work every other weekend (plus holidays) and then you get to pick the rest... whew hoo... that's just great. I would never see Sean.

The benefit of a contract is that you are guaranteed full-time work for however long the contract is for (usually about three months).

#2 - I don't want to get a "real job." Once again, the hours would be pre-set and I would probably have to work every third or every other weekend. Yuk!! I am spoiled with my current situation. I have only worked one Sunday since I got here, and when I have worked on Saturdays, it was only because Sean was too.

PLUS the money is SIGNIFICANTLY less working directly for a hospital as opposed to working for an agency. I just can't rationalize that. 

So anyway... that is where I am. I am not really worried, but there is always that nagging in the back of my head about getting enough work to support our current financial plan. I know that God is teaching me patience (that's a hard one for me), faith, and trust and that "plans" can always change, but it is not necessarily easy. He always allows those trials that strengthen the "weakest links" in our lives, doesn't He?... 

That reminds me of that show... You are the weakest link...Goodbye!!

It's a good thing Sean doesn't get "canceled." HA HA Ha ha ha... That's a good one... 
He wishes. :(

Thursday, October 16, 2008


On September 29th I finished my last class and now have my bachelor's degree in nursing!! This is very momentous, because I started going to school about a month after Sean and I began dating. We have never really known me not being in school (it's amazing to think we have only been together a little over 2 years!! - so much has happened during that time!).

To celebrate, we got all dressed up, and Sean took me to a nice dinner at Fulton's on the river on a gorgeous evening. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather before heading to the theater to see Mamma Mia. What fun it was! I only got one picture of the inside of the theater before some grumpy worker told me they would "confiscate cameras" if they noted pictures being taken.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Parents Visit Chicago

At the end of the same week that we visited Boston, my parents were able to drive down from Minnesota to spend a long weekend with us before Sean's vacation was over. They drove down with their friends, Kevin and Sharon (Sharon's daughter also lives here in Chicago).

They arrived on a Friday afternoon, and we immediately meandered down to the lake (by way of Starbucks) to walk around and stretch out after the long drive. After some snacks and Brigita time, we took them to the German Brauhaus restaurant in the evening and ate some hearty German food. 

Unfortunately, the next day my mom was not feeling well and did not really recover the whole time they were visiting. She was a trooper though and managed to tag along for everything that we wanted to do. On Saturday we had a leisurely morning and met Kevin, Sharon, and Danielle at the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder for lunch. After lunch, we drove around downtown and pointed out the sites. My mom rested in the evening, and we watched a movie and had snacks for dinner. 

On Sunday we met Kevin and Sharon for breakfast at Ann Sather and then went to Moody for church before roaming around the Lincoln Park Zoo for the afternoon. My mom and I rode the Endangered Species Carousel together while being watched with amusement by Sean and Dad.

Sean and I made dinner on Sunday night, and we had another relaxing evening before they had to leave in the morning on Monday. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trip to Boston and Cape Cod

Sean had a blissful week of vacation from September 13th to the 21st, so early on that Saturday morning, we caught a flight out to Boston to visit Erin and Chris, just narrowly missing O'Hare being shut down due to flooding from the leftover Hurricane Ike rain.

As I am incredibly behind with my blog updates, I am going to cheat and direct you to Erin's recap of this awesome trip, since she noted everything that I would have wanted to include.

Cheater, cheater, cheater... :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sean's Parents Visit Chicago

On Wednesday, September 3rd, Sean's parents flew to Chicago to visit us for a few days before heading out to Boston to see Erin and Chris as well. Unfortunately, Sean had to work in the evening when they arrived and a little the next morning, so he did not get to see them as much as he would have liked.

We took a long walk through our favorite park where we go running, drove around downtown and saw the sights, and went to the German Brauhaus for some oom-pah-pah music and great German fare. Sean and I grilled salmon for the first time, and it turned out delicious! Brigita received lots of attention and spoiling and took advantage of every petting opportunity that she could. She would just go from person to person expecting to be loved up, which, of course, she was. 

When we arrived in Chicago, Sean became a member of the Swedish-American Museum, which is very close to where we live. He is largely Swedish on his Mom's side. We took Ron and Nancy to the museum, which Nancy, in particular, really enjoyed. Here are some pictures of the museum, including a nod to the fact that the Swedes were very influential in medicine and built quite a few hospitals. Nancy and I are both nurses, so we liked the pictures of a graduating class during the '50's - white hats and all!

There was also a beautiful collection of old Bibles and other assorted books. I managed to get Sean to try on one of the plastic Viking hats in the gift shop and catch it on film!

On Saturday morning, after a very enjoyable time, I went to work, and Sean sent his parents off on an early flight to Boston before heading to work himself.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Resident Retreat

Every year all of the residents are treated to a day of relaxation. They are all given the day off (sort of), and they do a bit of learning in the morning and then are served lunch and given a variety of activities to participate in. This year, the retreat was held in Wisconsin at an attending physician's lake house. They provided boats, jet skis, water skiing, and many lawn games. 

A handful of people, including us, went camping at a nearby campsite the night before as well. We put Brigita in a kennel (i.e. swanky dog hotel) for the night to see how she would do. It was the perfect night to camp, and we had a wonderful time getting to know a few of the other residents.

The next morning consisted of some conferences, so my friend, Laura, and I ditched our husbands and did our own thing for a little while. We found a fabulously obnoxious little restaurant to eat at, where patriotism was the order of the day. The portions were huge, and we had a great time laughing at the menu and decor of the place. After stuffing ourselves, we went shopping at an outlet mall that was nearby and found some good deals on clothes. 

I will have to show you Laura at a later time, because she sent me the pictures from the day (my camera was dead) and did not include any with her. 

When we arrived back at the retreat, we ate a wonderful lunch of hotdogs and hamburgers and played for a few hours. Sean and I went jet skiing, which was a blast! I have only done that once before and loved it. Sean went water skiing (I have never even been able to get myself out of the water, so I didn't even try) and boating. Laura and her husband, Bobby, left at around 3 pm because Bobby had to work over night that night starting at 8 (now you understand the "sort of" day off), and it started steadily drizzling around that time as well. Sean and I left soon after to pick up our traumatized puppy. 

Chicago Air and Water Show 2008

A few weekends ago, Sean and I went to the Chicago Air and Water Show. Apparently the city puts this on every year, and people just flock from all around to see it. The water show was in the morning on both weekend days, and the air show went non-stop for the rest of the day until around 4:30 pm. A lot of the demonstrations centered around military planes, but there were many smaller, show planes whose pilots illustrated their aviation talents for the audience. 

Most of the activity was off of North Avenue on the beach, where vendors sold merchandise, and people brought lawn chairs and packed themselves all the way up to the water to watch the show. We hung out there for a while, and then, of course, I became claustrophobic with the excessive amounts of sweaty, smelly people. We meandered back across the freeway to a safer, less chaotic area, where we could still see what was going on. Sean was a little disappointed at not being able to hear the announcers telling us what everything was or what the pilots were doing, but he was a good sport about it. 

Mid-show, I decided that is would be fun to rent a paddle boat in the Lincoln Park Lagoon. We were still near the show and could see a little, and we had talked about it before when we were at the Lincoln Park Zoo I was a little bored.

Since we were already missing some fantastic plane action, I decided not to push the issue of renting a swan boat, so we just ventured out on our little green paddle boat. Sean entertained himself by chasing geese...Note the beady-eyed look of, "What do you think you are doing following me?" in the picture of the unfortunate goose, who we were paddling close after.

After 30 minutes of highly entertaining paddle boat-ing, we went back up to watch the air show from our spot that we had found. We got all settled in and waited for the really great stuff, because what air show would be complete without a finale from the Blue Angels (definitely my favorite part, second only to the stealth)? Chicago would tolerate nothing less.

(I got this last one off the internet. My zoom is definitely not that good.)