Thursday, January 1, 2015

Where I Stand in 2015 you know how odd it feels to be typing that last digit '5' right now? Kind of surreal. Also kind of bittersweet for reasons I shall dive into in the latter part of this post. I've mostly neglected my old bloggy friend over the past year. Perhaps with good reason, perhaps out of laziness--I'm not sure that I could be the judge on that matter. But with the new year now here, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to revisit blogging, my most favorite favorite type of therapy :-) Rather than rambling on and on (like I do so frequently in posts past), I thought I would break my life down into various facets with little nuggets of information underneath and then close with a final thought for 2015.


If you've followed me into my new YouTube channel, or even follow me on Instagram, you know that I've embarked on a new educational journey:  nursing school. I've made my way through classes like college algebra, anatomy and physiology I and II, lifespan development, and applied ethics. I survived my first semester of nursing school, which consisted of fundamentals of nursing and our first clinical rotation. I've learned so much already, but with three semesters still ahead of me, still have plenty to learn! I've made new friends...yes, friends. The type of friends who encourage and support me. The type of friends who genuinely listen to what I have to say. The type of friends who will spread the cheeks while I wipe the butt. The stay up until 2 a.m. talking and sharing stories friends. They are just the absolute greatest--I'm so thankful for them. God has continued to bless me through nursing school in so many ways I never imagined in my wildest dreams. But here I am, 14.5 credit hours later (yes, all in one semester!) Sort of tied in with school comes work.


As if the stresses of nursing school weren't enough, I decided to keep my job. I, of course, dropped to part time hours, working about 3 or 4 days a week. I'm still doing medical transcription and loving every minute of it. In fact, I'm not sure if I've divulged it prior, but my transcription work is really to thank for my nursing school dream. Hearing, reading, and typing about patients and their care is nice, but really being there--being the individual to provide that care--it's a whole different dimension of the patient care dynamic and I've absolutely fallen in love with it. I'm still working as an independent contractor with the same company--I've been with them since October 2013...can you believe it!? I've been spoiled with my primarily English-speaking doctors and accounts and plan to keep this job for as long as I possibly can!


It's just been a recent thing, as in over the winter break, that I've rediscovered what it is to have fun. You see, during nursing school your fun becomes learning how to manually take a blood pressure...memorizing Erikson's developmental stages and reorganizing your own life based upon Maslow's Hierarchy. Lately I've been nesting...minus the baby. Our house has undergone a complete and total makeover! I've been up-cycling furniture I snatch up on Facebook yard sale pages for cheap, cheap, cheap. I've gotten back into knitting...I'm currently knitting a blanket also. Every time I get a few rows in, it seems like some furry little kitty cat thinks it's fun to pull on the yarn and unravel it...and my sanity right along with it.


The last few months have been pretty interesting in my household. I've kind of returned to the bachelorette lifestyle (which is something completely foreign to me as Hubby and I were married so young). I've been mostly surviving on Publix deli sandwiches, Tijuana Flats' queso, and protein shakes. I've been living life by the seat of my in following my to-do list down to the very T as I plan out essentially every minute of every day to keep myself occupied. Hubby is deployed. Our first deployment is about half-way over. Someone told me that the first half is the far, it all seems to be the worst. It's strange to have to try to figure out how to function without my other half. What's even stranger is having to reorganize my day to exclude spending time with my husband, listening to how his day went, and telling him about my nursing school adventures. I haven't seen him since the first week of November. There are still a few months until he returns, but thankfully school will be starting back up in a couple of weeks and, with that, time should begin to really fly (I hope!)

This year has really taught me not to take things for granted. Be thankful for every single minute you get to spend surrounded by your loving family and cherish them! Cherish the bickering, the nit-picking, and the disappointment right along with the accomplishment and love. I've learned a whole lot in 2014--I can tell you how to insert a Foley catheter or how to assess the radial pulse. But I can also tell you how absolutely lucky I am to have such a wonderfully supportive, caring, and loving husband whom I miss dearly. The start of 2015 will be a bit different in our household. It will be quiet, suffocated by nursing textbooks, and a bit lonely. But it will also be filled to the brim with a new-found sense of gratitude for all that I've been blessed with over this past year and, of course, I will be anxiously awaiting the return of ol' Hubby.


Friday, July 25, 2014

My Crazy, Ever-Changing Life

Well, hey there, stranger! Long time no talk, right? In fact, what was my last post even about--some advertisement? A mumbo jumbo rant on something or another? I couldn't tell you! So, after a very sweet individual contacted me via e-mail in regard to some education questions and after some prompting, I decided to own up to where I've kind of completely disappeared to over the past months.

Let me just begin by saying that my life is absolutely crazy in every aspect of the textbook definition of the term! Since December I have begun a huge journey that will change my life forever and that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. So, why do another post now? you might find yourself wondering. Well, simply put, I still get a significant amount of e-mail per week (and even some days), most of which, regardless of the intent, mentions something in regard to my having left The Air Force Wife high and dry. Rest assured that it wasn't intentional. However, my motivation behind blogging from the get-go was rooted in loneliness. I had no friends, wasn't really working toward much in terms of my life goals, and I just wanted to be heard and feel as though I could be related to. Some of these elements still ring true; however, I have most definitely grown as an individual remarkably when comparing the Rachel who began the AFW to the Rachel now getting ready to begin nursing school in exactly 31 days...yes, you read that correctly--FREAKING NURSING SCHOOL! Anyone remember me complaining about Anatomy and Physiology torture what seems like just yesterday? I certainly do. I applied to the program in April--the first of April to be exact--and was offered a chair in this Fall's nursing class on June 27th (which I eagerly accepted the very same day...maybe even hour after I pulled by blubbering self together!)

My academic journey has already been such a whirlwind. Establishing and maintaining that balance between the triangle that is home life, work, and school is something that has challenge me unlike anything I have encountered in my life before. During school (which I just wrapped up the summer semester last week and am now officially FREE until Fall classes begin mid-August), I would literally wake up, do homework, work, do homework, go to bed, and repeat. School has become my life. I'm so blessed and fortunate to have found my calling in the healthcare industry that every moment I'm awake I can't accept not doing something to put me just one step closer to my eventual goals. I've greatly neglected my blogging, but, as I hope you will all agree, with good reason. I'm proud to say that prereqs and gen eds later, I'm still sitting on a 3.9 (the B I was stuck with was literally 0.5 a point shy of being an A...AH!) and have learned so much about myself--academically and otherwise--throughout this entire time.

Hubby and I are still doing well. We have added another member to the family--Miss Luna the Golden Retriever puppy :-) She is all licks and play and an absolute sweetheart! We are still in Florida. I still miss my family every single day (although, as I type this, my sister is here for another sister vacation just like last year--woo hoo!) I still don't know many people in the area and--truly--don't care. It isn't that I wouldn't love to have friends here, it's just that I quite literally have no time to invest in a friendship. I am still working in medical transcription and absolutely love my job--I am so thankful for the ways I continue to be blessed through it and plan to continue working part time in the fall and through nursing school.

So now that you've been filled in a bit, I did want to share my new YouTube channel with you all. Be forewarned of the social awkwardness, rambling, and nursing-talk overload; the channel is completely dedicated to my nursing journey if that's something you'd like to keep up with. Aside from that, everyone, I'm over and out; lots of fun to be had and memories to be made while my sister is in town :-) God bless and I hope your summer is going wonderfully!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Montagne Jeunesse Clay Spas--Home Spa/Relaxation!

Let me take you through what my typical home spa/"relaxation" night typically looks like. I get off from work around 9 p.m., and as you may already know, I turn into a pumpkin shortly afterwards (we're talking maybe 5, 10 minutes if I'm lucky). It's a pretty big deal that I even get into my pajamas, let alone if I actually wash my face or remove my nail polish (repaint them? HA!) before sinking into a much needed sleep in a cocoon of covers. So work nights are more the less ruled out if I want to partake in some sort of home pampering. Weekends, though, are free game. I tend to do absolutely nothing on my weekends since this past semester ended (with the exception of reading...and only doing what chores Hubby pesters me to). With all of the brain power and downright hard work that went into studying for my finals, I'm due for some major relaxation...perhaps even overdue. But that's beside the point.

I love to take bubble baths--as in if our water bill wasn't affected by filling up our garden tub on a daily basis, I most certainly would. I also love facial masques. More accurately, I have an addiction to facial masks of any and every kind. I typically judge which of my collection to use based upon what the weather is like (humid, dry) and what my face has been up to lately (sweating, out in the wind, breaking out, dry, oily, etc.) And I have a masque for no kidding each of those individual elements, and in addition, there is a fabulous database of DIY masques online that I reference frequently if I feel like my face is in need of a pick-me-up. ANYWAY, getting my hair out of the way is always a must--slopping masques on is rarely a clean affair. I typically wind up with bits and pieces getting crusted in my hair, surfacing even days later after I've showered multiple times. If I could eliminate one element of my pamper night to save myself an unnecessary headache (and some time and sticky, gooey fingers!), this would be it. If only there were a way to make this step simpler...cleaner...and more efficient...

The facial masque fairies have granted my wish! I was recently given a Montagne Jeunesse Clay-Infused Masque to try for testing purposes (courtesy of Influenster), and I was shocked at what I found when I ripped into the package of (what I thought to be) clay mush!

Okay, okay, let's back up a few steps and get into Montagne Jeunesse masks themselves prior getting specific with this one in particular.

 See that up there? Vegetarian standard and no animal testing! Start keeping tab of the points MJ wracks up with our breakdown (that will be 2).

Next, take a peek at the ingredients. See anything you can't pronounce? See any wonky chemicals that probably shouldn't be in a beauty product, let alone one you're putting directly on your face? I sure don't. Another win point for MJ!

Lastly, clay-infused. What does this mean? That I'm not just buying a package of mud that will make its way underneath my fingernails, into my hair, and into other body crevices that are completely mind boggling? Um, yeah, pretty much! Take a look!

This is what was inside of my package. No goo mushing out at me as soon as I opened the package, and no mess! I was so pleasantly surprised!

Things keep getting better too--look at how easy this is to apply...Warning:  Brace yourself for what appears to be a swamp monster below. You have been warned.

Trying to look cute in a facial masque quite obviously is not happening for me here. A for effort though, right!? :)

 And after leaving it on for approximately 20-25 minutes (I may or may not have fallen asleep while breathing in the relaxing Dead Sea Mud aromas...take me back to that place!), this is what things looked like after removing the masque:

After washing my face with warm water and patting dry, there was a bit of a curve ball thrown my way with these masques:  I didn't need to moisturize. I always need to moisturize after using masques of any kind--even "moisturizing" ones! So I started to make dinner and a couple of hours later, I still didn't feel that uncomfortable tight, dried out feeling that I've come to know all too well between all of the different face washes and masques I've used. I was one happy girl. And my face was softer than a baby's behind! Love these masques!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Perfect Christmas Tale and a Word From Its Author, Alan Salisbury

I am very excited to introduce you all to a fantastically heartwarming Christmas tale about the journey of Ranger the reindeer, younger brother to our old-time buddy Rudloph, learning to believe in himself and aspiring to achieve his dream of flying among Santa's reindeer. Ranger's story is one that will become a hit with your family (all ages included!) and is sure to become an instant Christmas classic in your home with it's beautiful depictions by award-winning artist Roberta Baird and wonderfully worded pages by author Alan Salisbury. What's even more great is Mr. Salisbury, retired Commanding Officer in the US Army, has dedicated all profits of from The Legend of Ranger, the Reindeer Who Couldn't Fly to the Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund in Art Therapy for Children with Cancer, erected to help children with cancer cope with and survive their bouts with cancer through innovative art therapy programs.

Without further ado, a word from Alan Salisbury on his inspiration for and journey through penning The Legend of Ranger:

OK, so here I am a 70+ year-old man guest posting on a “mommy blog.”  Crazy?  Some may think so.  Maybe even more would think so if I added that Im a retired Army General who served 30 years in the Army.  And a computer engineer by education background.  What could I possibly have to say of interest to 20-something-and-up moms?

Maybe more than you would think. Of all the titles I have held through my career (and Ive had a few), the one I treasured most was “Daddy.”  And more recently, “Gramps” is giving “Daddy” a run for its money.  My wife and I raised two fantastic daughters and both are now mommies in their own right, juggling career and family. My grandchildren range from 2 to 10 years old, with three boys and one girl. (Guess which one is boss?) What goes around comes around and these days I, once again, find myself reading bed time stories to sleepy grandkids.  Still a joy.

My mother dabbled in poetry and wrote some WWII-era songs.  My own writing has been professional, with many magazine articles, professional papers and such over the years.  One book (you dont want to hear the title) to my credit, a computer design reference book.  And I have dabbled in song writing myself, having “majored” in glee club as a West Point cadet, and several years ago co-founded the 50-voice West Point Alumni Glee Club in the Washington, DC area where we now reside.  Three songs so far for the WPAGC, including “Eat, Drink and Beat Navy,” my personal favorite.

About four years ago, the idea of writing a book for children began percolating in my head, and resurrecting itself each holiday season. Finally, around Christmas of 2011, I convinced myself to put pen to paper (actually fingers to keyboard) and draft a story around a germ of an idea that I had been developing. It stalled out for a while because I felt the plot was weak. As often happens to me, some of my best thinking occurs while jogging or walking (more of the latter lately) and the muse visited me one day mid-walk with the crisis that my story needed to come to fruition.

It was only during the actual process of writing the story that I realized that I was weaving some important messages for children (of all ages) into it.  They come from my own life experience and from many leadership situations I experienced during my career. Before most young moms of today were born, the Army had the best possible recruiting slogan, designed to attract the best and the brightest: “Be All You Can Be.” Those five words encapsulate a philosophy that every individual would do well to internalize. If I were writing a college application essay, I cant think of a better topic to explore.

My new book, “The Legend of Ranger: The Reindeer Who Couldnt Fly,” is a Christmas story set in the North Pole region, but  it could just as well be set at any time of year and in any place.  It has been described by reviewers as a heartwarming and inspirational story, as it follows young Ranger through his quest to learn the secret of flying and join the Christmas Eve team. I also wrote a companion song titled “Dream and Believe.” The message of the book and song are succinctly stated in the concluding line of the song, “You can accomplish whatever you dream, if you just believe in yourself.” My purpose in writing the book and the song has been to teach children to think big, to set objectives and goals for themselves, and then to believe in their own hearts that, if they work hard, they can accomplish whatever they put their mind to.

Many Colonels and Generals (OK, Admirals too…) from the military have written books about management and leadership and left their constructive mark in the professional world.  I applaud them for that. I chose to target children instead.  Why children?  

For many years I served on the board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education that was established as a living memorial to the seven Challenger astronauts who perished in January of 1986 when their space shuttle mission exploded on launch. This was to have been the “education mission,” carrying the first citizen astronaut, elementary school teacher Christa McAuliffe into space, from where she would beam lessons (and inspiration) to children on earth.  Christa summed up her own philosophy this way:  “I touch the future; I teach.” She recognized that children are the future, and the direction that future will take depends on where our children will take it. 

Christa McAuliffe exemplified the Armys motto of Be All You Can Be” through her own career, and set an example that all children would do well to emulate.  It starts with dreaming and working to realize those dreams, and developing the self-confidence to believe in yourself and make your dreams come true. What better lesson can we impart to our own children? And I am convinced that we cannot start too early in a childs life to begin to shape their self-perception and ambition.  For one thing, it is easier to “bend the twig that will grow into the tree” when it is young and impressionable. For another, we need to equip our children early in life with the skills they will need to survive and thrive in the real world.

Before we know it, our toddlers and preschoolers will be off to school for many hours a day where they are out of the protective envelope that Mom and Dad would like to wrap around them. They will quickly become exposed to one of the most powerful influences in their lives: peer pressure. Some kids will be the “leaders” and many more will be the “followers.” The best defense against our children being misled by misguided peers is for our children to themselves be leaders who have the self-confidence to say, “no, thats wrong, we should do this instead.” The lesson that Rangers adventure teaches is a good place to start.

The Ranger book is 50 pages in length and takes about a half hour for an adult to read out loud for the younger children. Thats quality family time during the Christmas season. But its divided into 8 chapters, so it can also be spread out over several evenings as a bed-time story. Early readers ready for chapter books can get through it on their own.

“The Legend of Ranger” is available from the publishers web site (, from and, or from my web site at The “Dream and Believe” song (performed by Nashvilles Mary Allen) is track 1 of a CD by the same title available on iTunes. Track 2 of that CD is a complete audio book reading of the book with wonderful character voices by the reader, Barbara Quesada. [Full disclosure:  Barbara is also my daughter, a professional photographer and voice-over artist at] The full suite of Ranger products includes ebooks in all formats and an 8” loveable plush toy Ranger, in addition to the book and CD. All are available from the Opus One web site.

Opus One Studios is my creative outlet with the unique feature that 100% of the profits it generates go to selected charities.  Our tag line is “Creative products supporting worthy causes.” In the case of Ranger, the worthy cause is the childrens art therapy program in the Cancer Center at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston.

Mr. Salisbury was kind enough to provide me with a copy of The Legend of Ranger as well as the CD of the single Dream and Believe (Ranger's Song) along with the complete Audio Book of the story to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. To enter, simply check out the widget below. Good luck everyone, and thank you to Mr. Salisbury for sharing his beautiful story with us!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Life of a MilSO Student

Today after sinking what is now coming to hours into school things, I felt inspired to make a post about all of the time that goes into being a student (particularly a military spouse student) completely separate from taking notes and test taking and cramming our brains full of information. School is exhausting! The entire process! I remember first enrolling in college fresh out of high school and having my dad to walk me through every step of the way--Financial Aid, books, registration, dealing with the schools--it all seemed so much more simple back then!

Now I'm finding that investing large chunks of time into getting things taken care of and ready to go for school is taking up tons of time! Hopefully what I am able to share can help at least one person shave some seconds off of their administrative school time. We spend enough time studying as it is--we need every other valuable second to do something not school related for our sanity's sake!

Registering for classes. Registering can be a real headache, but it depends on your school. If your school is like mine (and I hope for your sake that it is), you are able to register for classes online. Your school should notify you in some way, shape, or form when class registration will open (exact open/closing dates), and oftentimes schools will let students who have more completed credits under their belts register earlier than those who do not. For example, this fall I had 6 (ish) credits, so I was able to choose my classes a day before those with no credits, giving me a greater likelihood of securing a seat in classes of my choosing. Tip #1:  Write these dates down on your calendar and set a reminder! I can't even begin to explain how frustrating it is to not make it into a class and have to wait an entire semester until you can take it.

Paying for classes. This is where the migraine starts to take the stage. Schools are sticklers about their money--can you blame them, though? If you have qualified for Financial Aid or intend to use a scholarship, you want to make sure that all of your bases are completely covered. Tip #2:  Call your Financial Aid office and inquire as to whether you need to fill out a tuition deferment form; this is essentially a document that informs the school that you are paying, but your money may come in late since it is coming from another entity in the form of scholarships/loans/grants/etc. This is extremely important, especially if you are using any military related funds! My first semester I had no idea about the tuition deferment form, and thus I was dropped from my classes for "not paying" since MyCAA had not actually cut the school a check to cover my classes by the date when fees were due. It was a nightmare, and I had to spend hours playing phone tag with the Financial Aid office to try to get everything straightened out. Just save yourself the trouble, and invest 5 minutes of your time into completing this form. You'll be thankful you did!

Just as with registration dates, I find it extremely helpful to write down the specific dates when fees are due by. The thing about these dates, though, is that you will be dropped from your class, meaning you are no longer going to be taking that class the upcoming semester and your seat is now up for grabs, if you do not pay your fees on time! Tip #3:  Check, double check, and triple check that your fees have been paid! My school has an option available online to view and pay fees, which I frequently use. Most of the times, Financial Aid and scholarships will not cover all of the fees involved with classes--for example, distance learning fees for online classes, lab fees, etc. Thus, it is extremely important that you keep on top of what you personally owe the school. I pay my fees as soon as they are calculated and displayed online. I set a reminder in my phone 3 days prior to their due date and on the due date and verify that my fees are still shown as paid in full on each of those days. It may sound a bit excessive, but like I've already said, being dropped and having to beg and sob your way back into a class is not a fun (or quick) ordeal, nor are you guaranteed any results from it!

Book vouchers. Some institutions allow full-time students to get a voucher to cover their books, but they must be purchased from the college book store. Weird, I know. What I've found to be the best bet for books is to rent them (thank you, thank you to the person who told me about Chegg!) unless it is for a class that you have a particular interest in and want to hang onto the book from (like me with my revered A&P book...I don't even let Hubby touch it!) Financial Aid "leftovers" are mailed out a couple of weeks into classes, so hopefully your books aren't too awfully expensive and you have enough of a FA reimbursement to cover them! 

Transcripts. Tip #4:  Always, always, always be sure that you know what scholarships require you to submit a transcript after you've completed your courses to A) Prove that you did in fact make it through B) Didn't drop out C) Passed as a lot of FA and scholarships will require you to pay funds back if one or more of the above are not true. You want to do this in a timely matter--I typically send them off as soon as unofficial transcripts are posted online. Make sure to verify whether the funding institution wants an official or if an unofficial transcript will suffice. Unofficial transcripts can be sent via .PDF or a Word document whereas an official transcript will be submitted either electronically or by mail from your college directly to the funding institution. With being a transient student this past semester with A&P, I had to go through the process of requesting transcripts to be sent to my home school, and after playing phone tag for a couple of days with the Student Records Department, I decided I would do an investigation on the school's student portal online. Come to find out, I was able to print an unofficial transcript and request official transcripts (electronic or hard copies) to be sent to wherever--schools or scholarship offices. This was a huge time saver, just make sure that you've got the correct address or electronic institution ID!

At the end of the day, you probably will feel like you've taken on a part-time job with all of the things that have to be done and squared away for your classes, but hopefully these pointers can help to steer you in the right direction and away from potential time-sucking pot holes!

What's been the most beneficial thing that you've learned throughout your college career? Did you learn it from a friend or the hard way?


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