The hard stuff is HARD, man. Life in 2017, so far

And why I’m making some changes so the rest of 2017 looks different.

So, the last few months have been HARD. In fact, I talked to one of my very best friends yesterday for 20 minutes, and so much of my bluster just falls away in the first few seconds talking to her because I can tell her anything. She is really a jewel, y’all. We haven’t caught up in a while, but it was refreshing to just say, “Life has sucked, Meg. I’m a mess,” and she’s all “Yeah, I’ve been worrying about you, and here’s my junk, too.” And I am so thankful for friends like that because they are the best. So, in the effort of being transparent without being a total over-sharer, here’s what my life has looked like recently, and why I have made the decisions that I have.

Ever since I started this grad school program, my life has been so rushed and unpleasant. I know that it’s the hard that makes the pay-off great, but I have felt miserable, overwhelmed, and even depressed more times than is healthy. My daughter didn’t even want me to hold her because I was such a stranger to her due to my insane work/study/adult schedule. See, I worked my required three-in-a-row, 12-hour shifts every other weekend, which meant I didn’t see Darcy at all for three solid days. The rest of the week and my weekend “off” I spent immersed in my pharmacology book to cover 16 weeks of material in a 7-week summer school class. Darcy would actually scream when I picked her up, tried to feed her, or god-forbid take her out of daddy’s immediate radius. Consistently she did this. Like for weeks. It was a combination of frustrating and heartbreaking, and it was MY fault. So on top of insane stress, I now could pile up buckets of resentment combined with a nasty dose of guilt.

A change was needed. Because on top of the crap scheduling of 12-hour shifts and working/giving up EVERY OTHER DAMN WEEKEND, working while short-staffed with hard assignments was exhausting. After one shift in particular, I came home and my husband said, “That’s it. You’re done. Apply now.” I did, and now I have my weekdays after 3:30pm, every weekend, every holiday, AND every summer. Thank the LORD! I will miss my awesome coworkers, but I cannot change the fact my husband is in engineering school, that I must work full-time to keep insurance and a paycheck coming in, that I have a busy 16 month old who needs her mama, that I am in grad school, and that I am pregnant. Those things that do add to my overall crazy can’t really change and I wouldn’t want them to (except the school). Lets make that clear. But my job could change and did.

At this point I want to say how THANKFUL I am for my husband. He is under a lot of stress with school, his internship, and being a daddy and husband. He has been a solid rock of amazingness the past few months while I’ve taken on what feels like the world (I’m dramatic, so sue me).

Ben really is amazing, though. He cooks, is an incredible hands-on dad, and he says really sexy things like, “Good morning, beautiful. I made coffee, and my mom is watching Darcy tonight, so we can go on a date,” or, “I didn’t cook tonight, but the pizza will be here in 20 minutes. Go take a bath.” Swoon. Just like that and once again I’m a goner for this man. To any un-marrieds reading this: marry someone kind. I can promise you that it is the most important quality in the entire world when choosing a spouse. I know that some would tell you that finding a man who is a Christian and loves Jesus is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER, but as I am married to a Jewish man, I can tell you from my experience that it is not true. Yep, controversial words for a Christian woman to say, but I grew up hearing that your marriage is “doomed” without Christ, and that you will suffer great despair if you are “unequally yoked.” I will further address this on a future blog, and I know it will be met with some pushback, but I can only write with complete honesty if I’m writing from my perspective and experiences. It’s not my intention to offend anyone, but I wish to offer authenticity and a worldview blog-readers can respect if not agree with. Love to all.

Thoughts on turning twenty-great

Yep. As of tomorrow, it’s here once again. My birthday! I used to be such a firm believer in birthday weeks and celebrating every last minute of the 24 hours of my birthday. This year, well, I can’t say I’ve even noticed it creeping up. This summer I’ve been super busy with school, and a new job, and Darcy, and getting food poisoning, and being pregnant, blah blah blah.

So, I only get two more years in my twenties. I’m not particularly sad about that, but it has made me somewhat reflective on where I thought I would be 10 years ago at the ripe age of 18. If I look back 10 years when I was about to start my freshman year at Delta State, I can honestly say that my life IS different than what I had expected, but also not. I figured or hoped I would be successful and finished with any schooling, happily married to the man of my dreams with child(ren?). So okay, 2/3 ain’t that bad. I had also hoped I would be living in a city bigger than my small hometown and have my own dog. Check! Check! Oh and I *really* hoped there would be lots of money. Let’s just take a minute to laugh about that one. LOL

So as you can see, my goals have kind of been checked off, but I never really thought about the journey I would take to see these things to fruition. I didn’t think that choosing to major in nursing would impact my life as much as it has. That it would wholly influence my perspective and outlook on life. For instance, if you have ever witnessed a child dying of cancer and seen the absolute devastation experienced by her parents, the important things in your life will forever be exponentially highlighted. Small stuff is small stuff, and it’s usually stupid, too. Nursing has changed my life. Before I married my husband, I never considered the hearts I would break, or even my own heartache I would experience along the way. *Sidenote–he was totally the cause of a lot of my distress at one point* Just putting that out there. I never knew that having a miscarriage would be one of the most heartbreaking experiences I would face thus far in my life. I didn’t know the JOY a healthy baby could bring into my life, either! I didn’t know that the traffic associated with “city bigger than my small hometown” would steal large amounts of my time and happiness, THANK YOU FOR THAT, BATON ROUGE. Anddd I never anticipated the amount of “inedible” crap my dog could eat and survive. I have a sudden vision of Libby dressed in camouflage, running to the sounds of Destiny’s Child “Survivor”. She’s eaten: 2-3 pair of underwear, too many to count socks, a bottle of ibuprofen, a tube of mascara, an entire bag of Hershey kisses, at least three roaches that were poisoned, and god knows what else. She’s seven and never looked so good, although I wouldn’t recommend this tried and true anti-aging diet of hers to anyone else.

The point of my ramblings is that I’ve already “met” the goals that I think mattered most to my 18 year-old-self. My sweet family is everything to me, and adding my husband and his family and our daughter to my list of people to love on has been one of life’s biggest blessings. I say blessings because considering this gift an accomplishment of mine just seems so wrong. God so lovingly sent my husband to me, and has continued to bless and grow our family. School and career and money are all important things, but they pale in comparison to the Big Stuff. And one day I think I’ll have all that other stuff, too. But without them, my life still feels full and exciting. Without my family and the loves in my life, I don’t think I could get out of bed.

So at the end of the next ten years when I’m pushing forty (now that kind of hurts), I have a few different goals in mind; some material, some not. I want us to build our forever dream home. Where? I’m not sure yet. I want to be DONE with school. Whether I finish NP school or not, I just want to be done. I want to finish up my family. I have no idea what that means at this point. I want to grow in spiritual maturity and live a life reflective of loving Jesus. Maybe that will mean less cursing or more praying or not honking at people who ruin my chances of catching a green light or because they are just generally stupid drivers. Or maybe not. Honking is rather satisfying, after all. Love to all you people out there.

Mommy wars and how I’m basically Switzerland or whatever other country doesn’t care.

Before I get into the beef of this blog post i.e. “mommy wars,” I want to explain something that few people who are truly close to me understand. I AM extroverted and friendly, yet not. Yet, NOT. Like I love meeting people, but I don’t necessarily want to sit down for a long conversation about life and the meaning of it with them. Ever. I can go without talking to my best friends for months and see no issue with that. Nothing has changed, we’re still besties, I just don’t feel the need to hash out every detail of our lives on a daily (or monthly) basis. I have the best friends you could ever ask for. They get me. We pick up right where we left off, always. I really, really love them with all of my heart, and I. Don’t. Need. New. Friends.

So being an adult who doesn’t like to meet, fall in friend-love, and share a halved-heart “best friend” necklace with new people can actually be awkward when you become a mom. Suddenly everyone tells you that you now NEED mommy friends. So people will seek you out when they see you have created a tiny human to become “mom friends”. Yikes. When I drop my daughter off at daycare, other moms smile at me and brightly say, “Oh Darcy just looks so cute today!” I smile and keep walking. I don’t even know any of the other kids names. I mean, if I responded honestly it would sound like, “Hey um…uh…oh-Nolan’s mom. Nice to see you (kind of). We’re never going to get coffee or set up play-dates, but I’ll see you around when I drop Darcy off. Have a good one!”

Now that you know this about me, it will make sense when I tell you that I do NOT get involved or feel victimized by these mommy wars. What are mommy wars? It’s the crunchy moms versus the non-crunchy versus the super “educated” versus the laid-back hippies. The amount of articles detailing specific hot topics are endless. Don’t bore yourself with them.

I personally breastfed Darcy for 10 months. Then I got a sinus infection, and felt like total crap and took meds that dried up my supply, so I abruptly weaned her. ANDDD the formula I transitioned to was so expensive that I switched her over to a Walmart brand formula for her last month. She’s still alive, so whatever. Darcy went to her own crib in her own room at 2 weeks old. She was the noisiest baby EVER, and I needed sleep, and I kicked her out. As a result she sleeps 12 hours every night in her crib by herself. Sorry, not sorry, Darcy. I gave her peanut butter at 4 months old (the horror), never made her baby food, and I don’t think she’s ever had organic anything. I may be from Mississippi, but I don’t particularly care for smocked outfits. Sure, Darcy has a few, but you won’t see me on mommy facebook pages offering exorbitant sums in an attempt to outbid another mom searching for the “OMG—perfect zoo bubble!!” Same goes for that damn cookie-print blanket that I saw some facebook crazy trying to sell for $200. What in the actual hell? Is it actually made of gold? Seriously, I don’t understand. Someone feel free to enlighten me.

I am so far from perfect. I question myself as a mom all the time, but I NEVER question myself because of something another mom says or does. I think the pinterest-worthy birthday parties with the exquisite backdrop and perfect fondant cakes are beautiful! But Darcy won’t be getting one. It’s just not in me to get that together when she is happiest shredding wrapping paper and eating dog food. I love seeing pictures of such beautiful photo shoots chronicling the growth of baby whatshisname. Darcy on the other hand has had exactly one professional photography session. It happened when she was 10 days old, and it could very well be the only one she ever has because I am just not good at planning and orchestrating those kinds of things. I won’t even say “mom fail” because I don’t view it as a failure. I just don’t really care.

All I really want to say is that parents should parent confidently. If breastfeeding just isn’t for you, and you choose to formula-feed your baby, awesome. Go you! If you make your own organic baby food, cool. If you have a professional paparazzi follow your child around for life to capture every life moment you probably need therapy, but I bet you’ll get some awesome pictures. If you spend thousands of dollars on baby clothes I will side-eye you, but I also accept hand-me-downs. If you don’t vaccinate your child, I personally think you are an idiot. Whoops. That’s judgment. Won’t apologize for that one, though. Love to all you crazy mamas. Tell me how you parent!

Yesterday, I was dying dead.

Warning: candid post, proceed with caution

Not to be dramatic, but I nearly died yesterday. It started Sunday night very innocently when my precious in-laws invited Ben, Darcy, and I to dinner along with Ben’s two brothers and sister-in-law. I REALLY needed to study because I had a huge comprehensive Pharmacology final the following morning at 8:50, BUT I’m both a procrastinator (like I could win an Olympic gold in procrastination) and a sucker for food, and going out to eat sounded like too much fun. Dinner was great! I got fried shrimp because that’s what baby wanted, mac and cheese because that’s what I wanted, and a salad because I figured my heart needed some kind of vegetable.

I don’t know which one did it, but I awoke around 3:00am feeling…off. Now, this pregnant lady wakes up almost hourly to use the bathroom, but this was a different kind of wakeup. I tossed and turned and felt progressively worse until about 5:45 when I broke out in a sweat and my stomach went *GASHMERGLE.* Oh, you know what I mean. It’s when your stomach does that churny, gurgly thing and you know that whatever is about to go down is going. to. be. bad. I raced to the bathroom and was violently ill. As a three-time veteran of the first trimester of pregnancy, I am familiar with vomiting. But this was brutal. I pathetically lay in the bathroom floor feeling miserable, but mostly sorry for myself because A) When you are pregnant and throw-up, you often (always) pee yourself and B) I suspected this plague was far from over. Unfortunately, I was right because I still had to take that final.

I had planned to get up early and study for my final, but mostly I just ran back and forth to the bathroom wondering how in the hell I was even going to TAKE the final. You see, my university utilizes ProctorU which is essentially satan’s handmaiden an online proctoring service that watches the test taker (me) via webcam with access to my desktop to ensure my “academic honesty.” Basically I was worried I was going to barf or poop myself via webcam. The first would be bad, the second might get me dismissed from the program–or made famous on Youtube in not a good way.

My proctor, lets refer to her as Jane, was super irritating. She spotted a piece of trash clear across the room, made me bring it to the webcam screen, and shred it before proceeding. It was a Walmart receipt. Definite contraband. Jane then stopped me 5 minutes into my test to reload the video screen which took an additional 5 minutes. “You are living on borrowed time, JANE!” She also made me turn my pencil in all different ways to ensure answers weren’t hidden on it. She basically sucked at life, and I almost wanted to barf directly on her. Luckily for her, my prayers worked, and the garbage cans beside me were spared! The best news is I passed the final! The bad news is that food poisoning sucks really badly at any time, but even worse when you’re 18 weeks pregnant, and have to take a web-cam proctored final. It sucked like a mutha-trucka, for sure. All the praise hands for Phenergan and a mother-in-law who took care of Darcy. Also for my own mother for bringing me a car, but that’s another post for another day.  Luckily I’m much better today, or I might actually be dead.

Oh, I semi-started my new job today. I’m super excited to exit the hospital-scene for the opportunity to be a school nurse. I’ll keep the blog updated as I get into the job a little more. Beware fried shrimp, mac and cheese, and/or salad. It could almost kill you on the inside, where it counts. Love to all!

Steakhouse de Rayner

Or, How-to-grill-a-steak-and-have-a-date-night-without-it-being-thwarted-by-your-16-month-old.

For those of you who read my “About” section, you may have noticed that the only word emphasized in all caps was “EATING”.  With the start of my new blog I think it’s only fitting that I have a few articles about food! For any fancier date night, I request a steakhouse. In Cleveland, MS where we went to college, this meant Crawdad’s in Merigold, MS. When we are in my hometown in North Mississippi, this means we go to Como Steakhouse—cue all the praisehands. Folks Folly in Memphis is beyond amazing. In Baton Rouge, it’s Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Ahh. Date nights. But you see, we now have a tiny date ruiner. Her name is Darcy, and she throws both food and tantrums, ruining most any adventure after 5pm including my beloved steakhouse dine-outs. I cannot do without this steak in my life, and giving Darcy away would be frowned upon. So, in this post, I’m going to tell you about one of Ben and my favorite discoveries:  Trader Joe’s filets (and pizza dough, but that’s for another post).  Trader Joe’s is a grocery store throughout many of the southern states, with super friendly staff, awesome products, and even better prices.  If you happen to be lucky enough to have one in town, I highly recommend stopping by and checking it out for yourself.

But anyway, Trader Joe’s filets.  You can buy a two pack of quality filets for around $13 per pound.  Combine that with a couple of potatoes ($1.00) and salad ($3.00), and you’ve got yourself a fancy steak dinner for two for less than $20 total.  Not so bad…

Here’s what you need:

  • Crib to put baby Darcy to sleep early (I should triple star this)
  • 2 USDA Choice Premium Angus Beef Filet Mignon Steaks (1.5-2 inches thick—don’t skimp)
  • Salt and Pepper (lots and lots of it!)
  • Butter (for both searing the steak and for after you finish grilling)
  • Skillet
  • Grill

Here’s how to do it:

  • Put steaks out and let them get to room temperatureIMG_4503
  • GENEROUSLY season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. If you’ve never prepared a steak like this before, when you think you’ve poured enough salt and pepper, you probably need more.  It takes a couple times before you get a good feel for what you prefer when it comes to the salt. Generally, more is better. Hellooo hypertension.
    • Don’t salt and pepper until you are ready to cook this baby. If you put the salt on preemptively, it will leach moisture out of the steak, and I’ve done it and it’s so sad. Don’t.
  • Get your skillet SCREAMING hot, throw about a tablespoon of butter and let it coat the bottom of the skillet. Yes, I said butter. This is steakhouse dinner date night, okay?
  • Sear both sides of the steak. This is a very quick step. You want to let each side of the steak sear for only 10-15 seconds.  This is going to help keep the flavor in and give it that outer crispness that you love when you order at the steakhouse.IMG_4508
  • Move the steaks to the grill. Your grill should be at a consistent temperature of 500 degrees.
  • For medium rare, grill each side for 4 minutes.
  • For well-done—you’re just a monster. Leave my blog now.
  • Remove steaks from the grill, butter to likingIMG_4510
  • Let sit for a few minutes and enjoy!IMG_4517

 

So, I’m starting a blog

Hello any and all readers! I’ve been urged by multiple friends and family members to write a blog for several years now. Why? I don’t really know their reasons, but the more people asked about it, the more I thought I might like to start one. About 3.5 years ago, I decided to do it! I had just gotten married, moved to Virginia, and all these awesome adventures would NEED to be documented. I thought of the perfect name, “Rayner Shine” because my new last name was Rayner, and how cute is that?! I told my husband, he agreed it was a good idea, but here’s the thing–I am a major procrastinator. SO. Almost 4 years, 3 moves, 4 job changes, and 1 baby later, here it is! I will backdate some blog entries on some of the more interesting occurrences in our lives, but first we have to agree on a few things.

  1. I am not a professional writer, mmkay? I say things, I write things, but I doubt you’ll see much symbolism,creativity, or special enlightenment that makes your head explode. So seek that on a different blog. Sorry.
  2. Grammar Nazis:  go away. I’m going to write in a conversational tone, end sentences with prepositions, use made up words and contractions because it’s a free country, and you can nitpick elsewhere.
  3. Weird stuff happens to me that doesn’t happen to normal people. I’ll write about it here, and I swear I’m not lying. You’ll have to just believe me.

Now that we’ve crossed that off our list, I’ll have to tell you that my life is chaotic. I know, I know, whose isn’t? But you see, my husband is in school full-time for engineering. Part-time he works as an engineering intern. I also am in school full-time to be a nurse practitioner. WHILE WORKING FULL-TIME AS A NURSE. Also, I have a 15 month old tyrant toddler. Help me, Rhonda! No, seriously, send help. I would say send wine, but I am also pregnant. 17 weeks to be exact. Anddd, I start a new job on Monday. Life is busy, time and money are short, but Ben and I laugh a lot. If you’re game to read along, I’ll gladly share our crazy with you. Love to all.