the future


We moved to our current location in western South Dakota in May of 2012. Since that time I made 37 round trips (800miles each time) back to the east side of the state to complete my doctorate of nursing practice and family nurse practitioner degree. I drove in 100+ degree heat without an AC. I got the AC fixed. I drove, stopping every hour for a pee break and to prevent blood clots, while pregnant. I drove, white-knuckled, in really crappy snow/ice with a baby sleeping in the back seat. I drove through hours of crying, because what else was I supposed to do? I’ve spent many many nights sleeping in a bed that wasn’t my own, and for the last year, bringing a baby along for the ride every singe time but once. I’ve breastfed all over this state.

watching my baby grow from the drivers seat

watching my baby grow from the drivers seat

I owe my friend Karen SO MUCH (I’m still planning on paying you back!), because she’s shared her home with me to stay there when I needed to be at class and because she lovingly watched my colicky baby while I was in class. And, she brought me a life-saving care package when I was in the hospital, nearly septic, after Jackson was born.

love ya Karen!

love ya Karen!

I owe Angie, Nathel, Mindy, Karen, Darcie, Kassie, Jessie and so many others for participating in countless hours of cell phone conversation while I drove.  You’re welcome Verizon… however I will be reducing my minutes package very soon. You gals are my best friends, and you’ve seen me through so much.

he had lots of screen time with mom

he had lots of screen time with mom

I owe my family, Jesse’s family, and our extra family, because they have all taken turns helping with Jackson, whether for a day, a week, or over-night while I was suffering from a migraine. They’ve all given in some capacity to help me/us get to this point… money, time, help, food… we wouldn’t have survived without them.

I owe my husband, who has seen me through these most intense years of my life. He watched me, especially since moving, be at my lowest lows and my most enlightening highs. He’s loved me through ugly, cranky, sad, tired, and stressed. He’s taken his turn taking the baby so I could finish yet another assignment. He’s checked the oil, checked the tires, filled the gas tank and sent me down the interstate with his baby boy in tow, trusting me with his world. Trusting me to come home safely every time.

I don’t know how to repay any of them adequately… except to go out and be the best NP I can (and answering all of their random health questions). I want to make them all proud.

I laughed out loud a LOT at this ad in my NP magazine. Bahahaha!

I laughed out loud a LOT at this ad in my NP magazine. Bahahaha!

I will soon be signing a contract at the local clinic that is affiliated with the hospital where I currently work. I was terribly disappointed to decline my dream job that was offered to me last month back on the east side of the state, but unfortunately there were no transfer options for Jesse, and we made a choice to stay because it truly is best for our little family at this point. And, I am simply grateful to have such wonderful options to choose from, as not everyone is so lucky. I will start in the clinic October 1st in a family practice role… I am excited and nervous. I want to be great at my job, but I know that the next couple years will be a process of learning that is even more intense than school, because the patients are real and the decisions ride on my shoulders. It is an awesome responsibility.

lookin' all professional

lookin’ all professional

I haven’t fully realized the immense change that is about to be my life, our lives. I haven’t soaked in the fact that there is no “back to school” for me, EVER AGAIN, but instead the loans will come due. I haven’t absorbed the fact that I will no longer have RN hours, but instead will be able to count on Christmas and Easter being family time. These things will become real. We’ll settle into our new routine. Our life will continue to morph into whatever God has planned. So, with a happy heart, I look to the future!

supporting the momma alma mater

supporting the momma alma mater

graduating from grad school

I haven’t talked much about school in a while. Let’s be honest, I haven’t talked about much in a while on my blog, as it is just enough for me to keep up with monthly Jackson updates.

Two weeks ago I went in front of my graduate committee and defended my final project and my entire graduate education. This was a big deal, because if I didn’t earn passing marks I would be “held back” and not allowed to graduate until December. And a big deal, because it is kind of like the precipus of grad school. So, I stood there and presented my project, my statistical analysis, etc., and then answered nearly two hours of questions regarding not only my project, but also anything they wanted to ask me about over my five-year NP curriculum. FUN. Like I said, this was a big deal.

I passed. Which means I am now just waiting on a date to test for my national certifying board exam and finishing up my last two weeks of clinical time. Graduation is August 15th.

Passing was a big deal, worth getting TWO sets of flowers over.

Passing was a big deal, worth getting TWO sets of flowers over.

I currently have three job offers on the table. All of them have perks and downfalls, and Jesse and I have been discussing this quite a bit, trying to determine what is best for our family.

JobA: This is a family practice position at a local clinic where I did the majority of my clinical time – I love the staff and the atmosphere. I would have no call time, no holidays, no weekends – just 40 hours, probably in 4 days per week. Downfall? The pay is barely above what I’m currently making as an RN, which doesn’t give me much to work with as far as paying back my loans.

JobB:  This is also a family practice position with the local clinic/hospital.  I already work in this hospital, so I know the good, bad, and ugly of the company already, and I’m well acquainted with the staff – this is both a bonus and a drawback, especially since I work in the nursing role right now, but one day would walk in as a NP and be expected to almost both be a new person and yet be the same nurse I have always been. I would have call-time, work a few weekends and holidays. I would probably cover some extended hours into the evenings. I would get more acute care experience also, which would serve me well in the future no matter where we live someday. I have racked up quite a bit of sick time here, since I’m already an employee, and would hate to lose that (since I’d love to have another baby soon, hopefully!). I will have good CME reimbursement and a decent amount of vacation time. And they do have a loan repayment program.  The salary is better, but that’s obviously because there’s more time involved here, which would be less time with my family.

JobC: This is a “fall out of the sky” opportunity of my dream job. The day after passing my oral boards, I received a phone call from my old OB/Gyn office in our hometown – their current NP is leaving at the end of the summer and they were offering me her position! This clinic is ran by a physician I adore – I worked with him as a nurse on L&D, he was my physician, and he was my women’s health/OB preceptor. He knows how I work and I know how he does, too. There are no holidays, weekends, or call time. AND I get to assist in surgery in the OR. This was a dream come true and I would have accepted the job on the spot, except, there are no open places in my husband’s company to transfer to right now that are within driving distance of our hometown, which is 350 miles away from where we currently live. We are going to send out some resumes, but the job we’ll move for for him is pretty specific, and we want to stay with a co-op because their benefits rock (think even infertility care coverage!!).  I know deep down that I am probably going to have to decline this position, which breaks my heart, but I have to do what’s best for the whole family. Jesse worked hard for his degree, can I cannot ask him to put that by the wayside for my dream job, it just wouldn’t be fair, since I have job offers here. Maybe God will intervene and a job opening will pop up for him, but realistically, we’ll be staying here. And as one of my preceptors told me, “You don’t want your first job to be your dream job. You need to learn how to be a NP, then go after your dream job.” We have always hoped to move back to the east side, closer to family, friends, and our roots, but this may not be the time. And, since this physician sought me out, I’m hoping that in the event that we do move back in the future, he would consider adding me on to his practice then… 🙂

There are worse problems in the world than three good job offers, I know this and I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. I have been so, so blessed and just hope I take the job that best serves my family, my career, and my heart.

Until then… just a little more time until graduation. Just a little more time until boards. Almost there!

a trusting and grateful heart

I spent most of last week sitting in a hotel about 200 miles away from my baby and 600 miles away from my hubby… for a NP board review. I needed to be there, to focus, and give my self the best chance I can to pass my boards ASAP after graduation. But, besides the 2 nights I was hospitalized when Jackson was a week old and one other random night when I left the baby with Jesse while I went to class alone, this is the only time I have been away from Jackson overnight – and this is the first time he was separated from both his mommy and daddy overnight.  I think this was a big deal.

Jackson stayed partially with my brother and his wife (who also happens to be one of my best friends) and partially with my parents. These guys only live about 7 miles away from each other, but I know it was still a headache for them to haul his stuff from one place to the other. How do you pack for a 8 month old when you know you won’t be there and neither of the places he will be staying have children??? You pack everything. There was even a rubber duck in his suitcase. My Tahoe looked like a BabysRUs. I just wanted to make sure they had any thing they might need. Baby thermometer. Tylenol/Motrin. Socks. Hats. Sunscreen. Pack’n’Play. Jogger. Portable high chair. Jumper. Baby bathtub. Bottle warmer. Sound machine. Toys, toys, toys. Baby food. And plenty of frozen milk. In fact, I brough almost my whole stash – and everything they didn’t use was donated before I went back home…  which was about 800 ounces!


“so you’re going to leave me with her, eh??”

chillin' with uncle rob

chillin’ with uncle rob

grandpa's sidekick

grandpa’s sidekick

It was a little bit amazing to sleep at night, but I still woke up in the middle of the night and checked my phone just in case my sister in law or mom had called or messaged me with a question of concern… I’m too used to waking up and checking on him! It was a weird exercise of trust.  My family is absolutely capable of providing wonderful, loving care to my son, and I just had to trust them to do whatever they deemed necessary for Jackson. And I am so grateful. So grateful to have people who love me and my little family enough to swap around their schedules to spend the week with Jackson.

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

i'm fairly certain this is my dad's first "selfie" - he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.

i’m fairly certain this is my dad’s first “selfie” – he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.


Hi Mom!

I missed him like crazy, but thankfully technology provided me (and his daddy) with lots of photographic updates – proof he was just fine. I was never really worried about his safety or their capability to take care of him, but I think it’s just a momma’s nature to worry no matter what. He was in the care of some of the people I trust the most in the world… and I know they understood how much trust it took to leave him for those 3 nights. Like I mentioned, my sister-in-law and brother don’t have children (yet 🙂 ), and I think this gave them a very real look at life with a baby. A real, live, feed me, change me, entertain me baby. And when Jackson was at my parents’ home, which is a farm, he was happiest outside with the animals and hubbub. All in all a good experience for the little guy! And I cannot say THANK YOU enough to my parents, my brother and his lovely little wifey!

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

And, also good for me to be home with my family for a little bit. This is my last trip home before graduation in August. I cannot believe how close I am to graduating, how close I am to attaining this goal for myself and for my family. That deserves its own post at another time, when I have enough time to process it more fully. Until then, once I make it through my project defense on June 24th, it is smooth sailing until boards. So, hard-core school work for the rest of the month. Almost there… I just can’t believe that I am done with my “Jackson and Mommy” trips. They have not always been easy, but they have been some of the most memorable bonding moments with my little boy, just us. It almost makes me sad when I think about the fact that that season of our lives is almost over.

so worn out after a great week with his family!

so worn out after a great week with his family!

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to "share the wealth" :)

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to “share the wealth” 🙂



2 weeks away from home

I went “back east” a couple weeks ago and stayed for 2 weeks for school. I’d had this planned out for months… it was such a good plan in my mind. I’d have a new baby and could take him home and he could bond with his family that lives so far away while I did my specialty rotations for school. And on the weekend in between, Jesse would travel back east, too, and we would have Jackson baptized. Brilliant. um, or not…

Yes, Jackson got amazing quality bonding time with almost all of his family. THAT I do not regret.

proud, proud grandpa rog... no pics of gamma mary, as she was usually behind the camera.

proud, proud grandpa rog… no pics of gamma mary, as she was usually behind the camera.

tv time with papa steve

tv time with papa steve

great grandma #1 (she's 85)

great grandma #1 (she’s 85)

great grandma #2 (she's 84)

great grandma #2 (she’s 84)

And the baptism went well. I was so happy to have him baptized by our favorite priest in the church where we were married. Before I went back east I kinda forgot I would need a cake and food for all these people, but ended up ordering what I needed when I got there, and it was great.




if you know us, you are totally un-surprised that Jackson has 4 Godparents instead of the standard 2.

if you know us, you are totally un-surprised that Jackson has 4 Godparents instead of the standard 2.
Jackson loved having the warm water pour on his little head.


BUT… for me? The 2 week stent of having my newborn away from our home and my husband was very stressful.  It made my anxiety boil at times. I was attempting to get (any) sleep at night, be professional and intelligent during the day, shuffle my baby hither and skither with all of his necessary stuff, deal with my mother in law giving me attitude about the amount of time she was getting with the baby (augh…), pumping enough to feed the baby during the day, as well as plan a baptism that 30+ people were planning on attending. Oh, and go to class somewhere in there and get my homework done. PLUS graciously attend a baby shower my in-laws threw us.

{ and just for fun… I got a migraine on the second Monday there. Tell ya what… single mothers are a wonderment to me. How does one get sick with a newborn and no help?? It is beyond me. I had LOTS of help, GREAT help. THANK GOD. }

getting home to my husband was so relieving.  for all of us.


Here’s the good thing: Jackson did great. He was happy. Thriving. He didn’t know momma was nutty. So it was all good.



Happy Halloween!

maternity pics

I am so fortunate to have a great friend and co-worker who also has a photography business. We intend to have her in the delivery room, if at all possible, to capture the birth of our little man (from the … Continue reading

baby shower, hometown style

Jesse and I are exhausted.  The baby, however, is still fist pumping and boogie-woogie-ing about our awesome weekend.  Our AWESOME weekend…

972… the number of diapers that were gifted to us. holy poop. and pee-pee.

our wall of diapers.

my sister-in-law, mother, and brother’s girlfriend threw us a perfect, heartfelt, chevron-y, polka-dott-y, navy and orange baby shower.  I don’t use the whole pound sign thing very often, but I threw around #bestbabyshowerever more than once on facebook in the last 36 hours. so here are a few pics to summarize the awesomeness that was graciously given us.

I've got my dad beat in the belly department :)
I’ve got my dad beat in the belly department 🙂
the spread
the spread
the little girls loved “helping” open gifts. it was hard to keep up!
the "fuzzy, glowing thingy"
the “fuzzy, glowing thingy”


almost 4 generation picture... the 33rd great-grandchild! all because 2 people fell in love!
almost 4 generation picture… the 33rd great-grandchild! all because 2 people fell in love!
my hostesses... kate, mom, and darcie
my hostesses… kate, mom, and darcie
my bro's
my bro’s

It was a great day! My husband spent the day doing “man stuff,” and that was perfectly okay with me… and my brothers were not at the shower, these pics were afterwards when everyone was relaxing on the deck.

We received SO many wonderful things, many diapers, and SO MUCH bath soap! We will have the cleanest kid ever! (unless he’s allergic to Johnson & Johnson, then we’re in trouble!).  We were able to cross some important things off of our “need” list, received some great stuff off of our registry, and even came home to Amazon boxes on the porch – thank you Jessie VP!

I should have taken a picture of the Tahoe and how skillfully we packed it, because it was FULL! We feel so blessed and grateful. THANK YOU to those who could come, and we missed everyone who could not, I felt that I didn’t get enough time with any one guest, I wanted to sit and catch up with everyone!

oh, and Nella stayed home with some friends who have many dogs… she was in doggy heaven! and SO tired when we got home… she must have missed Jesse, she crawled right up on top of him and fell asleep. Adorable.  Even more adorable? The way Jesse snuck our from under her so she would stay asleep. He’s going to be a great daddy 🙂

nella nappin

31 weeks … single digit countdown …

Holy Moses…. 31 weeks. It’s hitting me HARD that we will soon have a new little man in our life, and like so many others around this gestation have recently expressed via blogging, it makes me tearful and nostalgic. excited. scared. anxious. nervous. all rolled into one. oh, and happy. most of all I am happy to be here, in this place in this journey with my husband.

speaking of him, I’m not sure what prompted such a sweet turning of a leaf, but it doesn’t matter, I love it. I love when he reaches for my belly, talking to “little man,” telling both of us good night… it’s awesome.


The belly keeps growing, and it’s beginning to get heavy. 12 hour shifts are getting harder, and my run/walks with Nella are becoming more walk and less run… but still some run 🙂 Muffin is a strong little dude in there. I’m so curious to know what he’ll look like, and how big he will be! Still waiting on stretch marks, keeping my fingers crossed, but I know the biggest 9 weeks are yet to come, and I will probably not escape unscathed.  Oh, and my belly button hurts half of the time… weird, huh? Is that happening to anyone else?? It’s pretty stretched out and looks so weird with its scars… maybe the scar tissue stretching is what makes it ache? Hopefully it all holds out until after next Monday, we’re doing maternity pics that day, and would like a couple bare belly ones if possible, especially since I never thought I’d make it this far without stretch marks!

Last night my dad came to visit us and spend the night… he was out our way for business and couldn’t stay long, but it was SO nice to see him and show off our new home a little. I wish he could have stayed later, and of course, cried a little after he left… he’s going to be the best grandpa 🙂 I just wish all of our family could visit more. Luckily, they are hosting a baby shower for us at the end of July, and I’m already so excited to see everyone! Hopefully my baby brother will be engaged by then… I have a feeling he might pop the question to his cute little girl friend soon!  Plus, Mom is going to take a few more maternity pics for us… despite the fact I will probably be ginormicon by then! It will be a quick trip, but with Jesse to drive for this time, hopefully it won’t be quite so uncomfortable spending 6 hours each way in the vehicle.

OH, and I had today off from work (my only day off this week… yuck!). It was a million (104) degrees outside, so I stayed in and completed the mobile for the nursery. I am so proud of my handi-work! I’ll try to do a little post about it tonight too!

Hope everyone is surviving the summer without too much swelling!

nella snuggling with grandpa roger watching a movie... so cute!

nella snuggling with grandpa roger watching a movie… so cute!

summer time

Oh summer, how I love thee (most of the time).  We got home last from a very nice “4th” week/weekend. Some of our great friends from the east side came to visit, they were our first “new house” guests. Then we all went to another mutual friends’ home 2 hours away so the guys could go 4-wheeling in the black hills.  We do things a little bit redneck around here, and it’s the classic summertime stuff that I love.  I earned a nice sunburn and tired feet. 4thofjuly We attended the parade, a demolition derby, a nice dip in the lake to cool off, and hosted a grill-out followed by fireworks.  Friday I worked and then we packed up and headed out of town. Saturday the guys and non-pregnant girls went and got super dirty riding in the hills, the pregnant girls went shopping. Saturday night we all went out for supper and a little gambling in Deadwood… I’m truly not much of a gambler, but believe it or not, got lucky and came home $125 richer, only betting $25. Sunday we came home and I watched Jesse’s softball team play. BUSY weekend, but very fun. Of course, I never take enough pictures, and a lot of our activities weren’t super camera friendly.

On a less super-duper, but equally important note, the friends that came and visited are the same friends that have been trying to make a baby for quite a while.  They are the failed-post-vasectomy-reversal friends that I’ve mentioned before. We love these friends so much… and I pray everyday they can eventually have a biological child.  They’ve recently taken the leap to see a fertility specialist, and it looks like IVF is in their future, after semen aspiration. I’m not exactly sure why they are skipping over IUI, and she didn’t know either, but my guess is going for the best shot in the least amount of time possible. I’m sure seeing me uber-preggo was not very fun, and it didn’t help when the wife of the other couple we stayed with is also pregnant. We had lots of heart-to-hearts, shared tears, and I helped calm as many fears as I could… I only went so far into the infertility-challenged process, but have learned enough along the way to know the lingo.  I just want this so badly for them… and I’m not sure I would have been able to keep my chin up through the whole weekend like she did if our roles were reversed. She’s SO strong. So, calling all prayers and good vibes her way!!

Anyway, hit 30 weeks last Wednesday (I know, I’m SO far behind!) – I’m getting pretty darn big, or at least feel like it. Baby Muffin is SO busy in there, and I’m getting so anxious (and nervous) to meet him! He’s definitely head down right now, and I can actually grab his little legs/feet until he pulls them away from me… it’s pretty fun.  OH, and guess what!!?? Jesse decided my belly isn’t so scary anymore (I think a “man chat” one night during the weekend helped).  It’s so sweet to wake up and find his hand on my belly. Almost makes me cry. What actually makes me cry? the song “sinners like me,” by Eric Church. It’s not a real tear-jerker kind of song, but my husband loves it, and it really does fit him and his McMillan men, and when I think of him being a daddy to this little boy… oh, the tears!


random ramblings

i’m a little behind this week, but it’s been pretty busy. i spent 2 solid days recovering from the flu. then drove back for class on thursday and friday, returning friday night… and worked all weekend.

tonight i walked in the house and my hubby happily states, “i’m grilling us some father’s day steaks.” i feel kinda bad he had to make his own very first father’s day supper. but, luckily the baby and i got him a gift ahead of time 🙂first fathers day

I’m really excited for jesse to be a dad. he’s really excited to get the baby OUT and actually get to know the little guy. he calls the baby by his name all the time at home (it’s a secret… no mom, i’m not spilling the beans on the blog early either!)… sometimes I  think jesse is more excited for the actually person this little man will be, and I’m more excited for a baby in the house. jesse is not into the whole pregnancy belly. one night i was trying to get him to be patient and feel the baby moving around – he looked me straight in the eye, kinda frowned and said, “honestly honey, the belly freaks me out. i’m excited for the baby when he’s acutally here, but this is weird.” ok, fair point. from what i can tell, jesse wants a healthy baby here and his wife’s waistline back 🙂 me too, sweetie!

oh, and i asked him if he wanted to attend the child birth class. i am 100% willing to go, even though i’m as well versed in labor and delivery as i possibly could be for my first baby. his comment: “you’ve done everything but actually shoot the bun out of the oven. as long as you’re conscious, we’ll be fine.” gotta love a staight-forward answer. (i TOTALLY support childbirth classes by the way, just don’t think i will personally benefit much from them).

and while we’re on the subject of fathers and their day, i CAN NOT wait until my dad is an official grandpa. i just want this little boy to be grandpa’s helper on the farm. he asks every time we talk how “little muffin” is doing, which is so cute. and when i was at home 2 weeks ago the look on my dad’s face when he saw how big my belly had grown was priceless. one of those moments when you know he was faced with the fact i’m a big girl now!

as for me, i keep growing. i have my glucose tolerance test tomrrow… i’m nervous, especially after tiny, little kearney got her GD diagnosis. i’m a mtn dew drinker, i drink at least one a day. selfishly, if have to give that up, i’ll cry. i will literally cry.

friday during class muffin was definately breech… i got a solid lightening strike to the cervix when he kicked – it made me jump in my chair. and i could rock his little head back and forth from under my right ribs.  i started to have a pregnant lady panic attack driving home. i don’t have the mental capacity for a cesarean and grad school. and the hospital where i am supposed to deliver just got a “D” rating… mostly based in their not-so-awesome surgical care. so then i started mentally planning going back to the hopsital i worked L&D at, the one with my family, friends, and beloved Dr.K to have an scheduled cesarean. by the time i got home, i had come to terms with my new birth plan. one with a family-centered cesarean. i’m not even 28 weeks yet people. at 27 and a 1/2 weeks, i’m having a mental freak-out over a real or not-real cesarean. someone needs to slap me.

luckily tonight i’m quite sure there are feet under my ribs. in fact, i’m pretty sure i can identify the moment he flipped when i was at work today. it was a whole lotta insane flipation going on. so, God answers prayers. cesarean averted for today. 12 weeks and 2 days before our due date. i am a nerd. and, he’ll probably flip back, ’cause i’m lucky like that 🙂

and here’s the bumpdate from last week… i look so darn tired. stupid flu! but look at that BELLY. yeesh!



green pokadot tankini

there’s no rest for the wicked. or the grad student.

today my husband, my student-loan-paying-full-time-working-not-in-school-anymore husband, left for the east side of the state to spend memorial day weekend fishing and bbq’ing.

I, on the other hand, have to work the next 4 days, so I stayed home.  And today, I could come up with (and should not come up with) no more excuses to ignore working on my final paper and project for school. but it’s so nice out… so I compromised. I compiled my paperwork and highlighter, found a beach towel, and put on this sweet green poka-dot tankini number…

summer3 summer4

{which I got at a second-hand store and is in mint (green) condition BTW 🙂 }

and I did research.

summer2   summer1

whalla. sun and studying. bazinga.

and if any of you are super interested in using text messaging reminders to increase completion of HPV vaccination series among adolescents, please feel free to be my research assistant.

have a great weekend (and try not to do anything silly that lands you in the ER…)