A Sad Halloween…

Craig and I LOVE Halloween.

We have gone ALL OUT every year ever since we have been dating.

One year we were Captain and Coke
The next year was Craig’s turn to pick and we went as Garth and Wayne from Wayne’s World!
The year Carver was born we were Jack and Rose from the Titanic (that’s my mom’s wedding dress by the way)
We got FIRST PLACE the year we went as Jack and Rose – we immediately invested our winnings back into the bar in the form of alcoholic beverages…
We went as Buzz Light year and Little Bo Peep in 2018.
We got honorable mention at the costume contest.

This year, we won’t be going out. I worked last weekend when most of the partying was happening. This is Craig’s first year as a farmer and I’m coming to a sad realization that we probably won’t celebrate Halloween much together unless it rains.

He’s been pulling late late nights in the combine. It has been a shuffle between kids, grandmas, babysitters, and work the past 3 weeks. I foresee the next three weeks being the same unless Iowa gets that snow storm they’ve been talking about.

I’ve been working like a mad woman lately and I work today on Halloween. I worked last weekend while trick or treating has been going on in the local communities.

Carver hasn’t wanted to dress up for Halloween yet. Each year we get him a costume and he has thrown a fit and wouldn’t wear it. This year we *might* be able to talk him into it.

Carver had a bad experience with Halloween last year. He was having SO MUCH fun handing out candy at my mom’s house while I was at work. A big kid came and had a scary mask. Carver was doing just fine until scary mask kid was reaching into the bucket and yelled “BOO” REALLY loud at Carver. He was done handing out candy after that 🙁

Even in September we were asking him what he wanted to be for Halloween and was nearly in tears saying, “Me no like Halloween!”

So now Halloween is kind of sad. The mommy guilt is HEAVY. We won’t be celebrating much this year. No pumpkin patches or trick or treating for us. I hope we can get to a time in our lives where we don’t have to work as much and can celebrate these little holidays more. This is just a season of life for us.

In the meantime, the mommy guilt is HEAVY and I so miss going out with Craig and being silly and having fun.

Blah. What a sappy blog post! I’ll get over it. Thanks for reading.

I hope your Hallweens are funner than mine! (that was NOT proper grammar by the way)

RAMEN NOODLES ARE NOT JUST FOR BROKE COLLEGE STUDENTS!

This recipe is amazing.

I don’t care who you are, what you do, or how much money you make, you are NOT TOO GOOD for a good bowl of Ramen noodles.

This recipe is PERFECT for a quick meal. It takes like two seconds to make and is DELICIOUS. I make this after work instead of stopping and ordering out on the way home.

In typical Kalissa fashion, this isn’t a super well written recipe. I am my mother’s daughter, I rarely use recipes and I just throw whatever together.


Here’s what you need:

Beef ramen noodle package

Bacon ends and pieces (or like two slices of bacon works) chopped

2 eggs

1/4 cup (ish) of parmesean cheese


Here’s how you do it:

In a pan, chop the bacon up and fry it (add some onion if you want)

Split two eggs in the pan of cooked bacon and make it more like scrambled eggs until the eggs are about 3/4s of the way cooked

In another pan boil the noodles – Do not cook them ALL the way but like 3/4s of the way

Add the kind of cooked drained noodles into the eggs and bacon

Dump the Parmesan cheese into the mix

Add the broth packet into the mix

Mix it all up!

Top with Parmesan cheese and ENJOY!

Eggs and bacon ready for noodles!
TAH – DAH!!!

I’ve adapted this recipe from a Ramen Carbonara video I found on Facebook:

How To Make Ramen Carbonara

Ramen Carbonara is literally the easiest way to upgrade a packet of ramen noodles. Full recipe: http://dlsh.it/0dPMvLc

Posted by Delish on Thursday, March 28, 2019

Let me know if you like it!! 😀

About last week…

I’m busy.

When I say I’m busy I mean it. Spring and Fall is just nuts for me.

I work 36 hours per week in the ER.

I work 20 (ish) hours per week teaching nursing students on the medical surgical floor for the Spring and Fall semesters. That comes with a lot of paperwork outside of clinicals as well.

I’m also in the process of building this blog up.

Clinicals run from September to November and February to April every Tuesday and Wednesday from 6am – 2pm.

It averages out to about 56 hours a week plus a half hour commute both ways. Needless to say life can get hectic.

Not to mention, Craig is married to harvest season. This is his first harvest season as a farmer and my first season as a farmer’s wife.

I wanted to give you a glimpse into my past week to give you an idea of what life is like for me.


October 18th, 19th, 20th it was my weekend to work. That means 3 12 hour overnight shifts on Friday Saturday and Sunday and sleeping all day in between shifts. I LIKE working nights on my weekend.

On Sunday it was Craig’s birthday. Mom made us supper at her house after we picked up the boys from Craig’s parents house on Sunday afternoon (hour there and hour back). Craig turned 26 this year. I took my birthday cake to go or I was going to be late for work.

Monday I slept. Unbeknownst to me, my sister Kelli scheduled and took both of the boys to the doctor for suspected ear infection. Gannon FOR SURE had an ear infection and Carver was borderline ear infection (ugh) so both were treated. Can you believe she did that for me?? AMAZING.

I woke up at about 1 pm and ran around the house like a mad woman trying to get the house together before I had to go pick up the boys from daycare. Craig was HOME! We had a “family night” as Carver called it so all of us were under one roof.

Tuesday was clinicals from 6 am to 2 pm. Then it was home to work on the blog until 5 when I went to pick up the boys. Craig worked late and I didn’t get to see him. I picked up my niece Georgia for a few hours after childcare. Georgia and Gannon are only one week apart! We call them the cousin twins.

BY THE WAY! Gannon can sit up now! This is a recent development!

Wednesday I had clinicals from 6 am to 2 pm again and then picked up from 2 pm to 7 pm in the emergency department.

By Thursday at 8:45 am I had Gannon down to the University of Iowa for his swallow study which determined that Gannon swallows a lot of air! (duh, we knew that!) The university of Iowa is a SOLID 2 hours away which made for an early morning.

He didn’t even flinch. The pediatric radiology team is TOP KNOTCH!
All ready for his swallow study!
The black part is the contrast going down his esophagus. The white bubbles in the black outline is air. He shouldn’t be swallowing that much air.
He was my shopping buddy the rest of the day. He was so so patient with me.

I’m so in between sizes right now it is just awful. My Fall clothes that aren’t maternity clothes are now two years old and out of style. I have most of my post partum/bigger sizes floating around making it hard to find clothes that actually fit because I’ve really been losing the baby weight in the past month or so (Down almost 15 lbs since August!). I had a GREAT day and found a lot of classic pieces I really liked. More on that later.

I went to the shoe department too and ACTUALLY FOUND SHOES that fit my 12 W feet! Usually, I just go straight to the men’s section for a men’s 11.5 but today I hit the jackpot!

We finally got home around 5 and Craig was working late again. I came home and the boys and I had a “mommy night” which basically means Carver gets to sleep in my bed until Craig gets home.

Gannon has been super sick with a cough ALL WEEK. He has needed an albuterol breathing treatment now every night for a week. It’s so hard to watch him have these AWFUL coughing fits in the middle of the night.

Friday we rode along to Craig’s doctor’s appointment to follow up on his sprained ankle which had thankfully fully healed! I’m glad we all rode along because I don’t know when I’ll see him again. We are in for a lot of late nights. They are a little behind with field work just like every farmer in Northeast Iowa because of all the rain. Now it sounds like snow this week!

I got home, mom sent me home for an hour to tidy up the house quick. I got back to my mom’s and rode along with my brother Karl to an appointment. I got home and took a quick nap. Went to pick up the boys again from my mom’s, make a quick supper for the boys and then off to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the ER before I start the week all over.

This week doesn’t look any better – in fact it looks WORSE. Then adding an early snow storm on top of it and a goal of having a blog post every day this week, I’m pushing myself to the limits.

BUT!

I’ve got a great support team.

I know this is temporary while I’m gaining traction on my financial goals.

This chapter won’t last forever.

Our housekeeper is coming this week (hallelujah).

I make my own schedule this crazy.

I’ve got friends and family keeping tabs on me making sure I’m not going overboard.

A really good friend of mine has her bridal shower and bachelorette party this weekend and I’m SO excited for it!

I have GOALS – clear goals – per day, per hour, per week, I am intentional with my time at home and with my kids.

I’m looking on the brightside and staying positive folks! I hope you can do the same. With that, HAPPY MONDAY!

The Ball and the Box

My dad died on June 2nd, 2019 from lung cancer. He was 57 years old.

He fought lung cancer from January 24th 2019 (the date he was diagnosed) for 129 days until he passed away on June 2nd.

I’ve never really lost anyone close to me before. My grandparents had all passed away by the time I was 16 and lived farther away. I’ve been very fortunate to have avoided grieving and losing a close friend or family member for 23 years.

A few weeks after he had passed away, a friend of mine sent me this article about the ball and the box. It goes something like this:

This is a ball in a box. There is a red button. When the red button gets pushed, it hurts. It makes you sad, it brings back all of the grief and sorrow, it brings pain and tears.


When you first lose someone or something, the ball is BIG. It is HEAVY. The ball sits on the button and brings unrelenting pain. It feels like the ball will always be this big and this heavy. The button is pushed over and over.


As time goes on, the ball gets smaller. The button is pushed often but it does let up sometimes. The ball isn’t as big or as heavy but still hurts just as bad when the button is pushed but you can move the box without pushing the button.


Once the ball becomes smaller, you can go about your day without fear and function day to day until the button gets pushed out of nowhere. It hurts just as bad as when it first got pushed and can bring you to your knees. But now, you have more time to recover in between hits because the ball is smaller and might not hit again for awhile.


The ball never fully goes away. It fluctuates in size and weight. Sometimes it is smaller, sometimes it is larger. It might be larger around holidays, birthdays or anniversaries.

My family sometimes uses this when we don’t want to talk about it. When they ask me “What’s wrong? Why are you crying in the middle of a perfectly normal afternoon?” I can tell them without further explanation: “My ball is really big this week.” or “My button just got pushed.” Or it can be a great conversation starter. I’ve found that if my ball is big and heavy that my family might also have a big ball this week.

This explanation really helped me when I was trying to explain my grief to others and I know it helped my family be able to describe their grief as well.

Please feel free to share this with someone who might also be struggling with grief or loss.

Thank you for sharing this with me Karinne <3

A dead car battery, chicken lo mein, a bike, and a SUPER cute tote.

So my initial thought was to share a quick and EASY recipe with you all for a quick supper before work:

Chicken Lo Mein

  • Boil some noodles (I used angel hair, my mom uses ramen)
  • Cook some chicken or try these pre-cooked grilled chicken breasts that I love from Walmart
  • Cut up some cabbage
  • Cut up and onion
  • Shred some carrot
  • Add a cup of chicken broth
  • Let the chicken, cabbage, onion, carrot and broth simmer (in a separate pan)
  • Drain the noodles when they are done boiling and add them to the chicken/cabbage mixture
  • Fry a couple eggs (nothing fancy just cook them and scramble them) and add them to the mix
  • Add some soy sauce to your liking

Ta-dah! It is delicious, quick and easy.

Okay so these are delicious and juicy and I highly recommend! Thanks WalMart!

So ANYWAY. I made this right before I had to leave for work. I usually eat my supper on the go in my car. I threw some in an open container and grabbed my bag and was on my way.

My car has had a few issues starting lately and I thought it had resolved. Nope. Not tonight. It wouldn’t even turn over. Car was DEAD.

Craig was in the combine. Mom was in Decorah. The only other person I’d call for help was watching the boys in the house and didn’t have a car with them! Mom said I could take dad’s suburban (read more on that here: https://www.joscountryjunction.com/at-the-hospital/ and here: https://www.joscountryjunction.com/the-burb/ )

While the suburban has four wheels and could get me where I needed to be, it is still every bit of a farm truck. Dad’s boots and overalls are still in the back. Coffee stains all over the center console. It smells like dirt and dust and a farm.

The problem was the suburban was all the way across town at my mom’s house! It was getting cool and dark and I was already late for work. I grabbed my bike from the garage which had already been put up for the winter – threw my supper in my bag – and across town I went on a bike, in scrubs, with a giant heavy bag, and off I went!

I definitely didn’t go as fast as I wanted to, my bag kept rubbing on my bike tires, I was pooped by the time I got to my mom’s house!

Anyway, I was only 8 minutes late to work. The lo mein was DELICIOUS.

Don’t EVER accuse me of not being resourceful!

P.S. I LOVE this tote! Seriously! A friend at work had one. It has SO MANY pockets! She talked me into ordering one and I’m telling you it is the PERFECT nurse bag! It can hold both of my contigo water bottles, my purse, my Ipad, my lunch, it zips, it has short handles and long handles, internal AND external pockets! I bought the black and white version. This would make an excellent gift for a teacher, nurse, or I guess anyone who carries a lot of stuff! 🙂

Here is my the bag I chose but I see it comes in several colors. I LOVE the red bag too! The link preview to the bag below shows pink but you can chose whatever color you would like when you purchase it 🙂

I want to be as real as I can with you guys, I’m working to monetize my blog and I need to be very upfront. I want to eventually be able to blog half time and work as a nurse to supplement my blog income. It is a big dream. I’m working on getting ads to show on my blog.

Another thing I can do to make money in an addition to ads is have an “affiliate link” with Amazon – such as this tote. I bought it, I love it, and I want to share with with you. I’m never going to rave about something to trick you into buying it so I get “commission” off of your purchase. If I like it enough to invest an hour or more into blogging about it, you can bet that I really recommend the product. Obviously others love it as well because this bag also has a 5 star review on Amazon.

That being said, if you purchase this tote from MY link, I do get commission. If you buy $150 worth of other stuff while you’re on Amazon by following my link, I also get commission on those things you purchase. It’s a way to support my blog and it is a way to score some great quality products.

I just want to be honest with you guys. I would have raved about this tote even if I didn’t make any money off of it.

Wow! Can you believe this blog post started off with chicken lo mein? WHAT THE HECK! How did we get here?

Anyway, have a great day guys 🙂

Cancer sucks.

My mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2016. And yes, you are remembering correctly. My dad passed away from lung cancer this past June as well. More on that in another post.

Back to mom: A routine checkup with her new nurse practitioner detected a lump or a nodule on her thyroid. An ultrasound and needle biopsy (yes that it several giant needles into her neck to get a sample of the tissue while she’s awake) came back “inconclusive.” Not positive or negative, inconclusive. In other words, it might be cancer.

Created for the National Cancer Institute, http://www.cancer.gov

Mom had a choice: remove the entire thyroid, remove half of the thyroid where the nodule is, or monitor it. She opted to have the thyroid removed.

Surgery was minor. She recovered well. A few days later, the pathologist determined it WAS cancer and that it had just begun to grow into the blood supply to her thyroid making it Stage 3 Thyroid cancer. She was 50 years old then. And to think she had the choice if she wanted to remove it or not. We are so glad she did.

So mom has no thyroid. She does not want ANY thyroid tissue to grow back. Therefore she was prescribed A HIGH dose of Levothyroxine.

Levothyroxine is a pill that tricks her brain. It tells her brain to stop making any thyroid tissue. It says “Nah, we are good! We got this! Don’t stimulate the thyroid!” Which would in turn grow thyroid cancer cells. So during her recovery mom felt “normal” because her Levothyroxine was replacing the hormones her thyroid used to send.

Her surgery was in February and her cancer treatment/radioactive iodine was in April after her recovery. Mom had to STOP taking her Levothyroxine. For about 3 weeks mom lived without any thyroid hormones. It was hell.

Mom describes the symptoms she had when she was completely without any thryoid hormones as being “dry.” Every part of her body ached, every joint squeaked, her mouth and eyes and nose was so dry, she felt constantly dehydrated and constipated. Depression set in. Mom cried a lot. She felt so foggy and dizzy and whoozy and AWFUL. It was SO hard for us to see her like that. And then there’s the diet…

I’m trying to explain this the best way I can: Any cancer cells in her body needed to be completely starved of ANY iodine. That way, when mom takes the radioactive iodine, any thyroid cells or cancer cells are SO desperate for iodine they EAT the radioactive iodine when she takes the radioactive iodine pills.

That means she had to be on her very strict diet on top of having NO thyroid hormones (read more about that here: http://www.joscountryjunction.com/the-diet/ ) AND she had to be completely off of her thryoid replacement medicine.

Mom eventually took the radioactive iodine and was able to restart her hormones. Mom’s blood test, thyroglobulin tumor marker (let’s call it her TTM because that’s too long of a word to type, indicated the thyroid cancer had been TOTALLY irradicated as of October 14th, 2016. That means her TTM was 0.00 about 10 months after diagnosis.

Can you believe that is CARVER she is holding?!

Here’s a picture I snapped the day we got the good news:

This Grandma got a very good health report today! Her cancer cells are now undetectable!
We celebrated the only way we know how: beer, pizza and chicken! 😀 – October 14th 2016

In the meantime mom had had blood draws every 6 months to monitor her thyroid cancer. Her TTM began creeping up about a year after she took the radioactive iodine.

At first it was just minor – detectable at 0.04 or something. But it began doubling every 6 months. They kept telling us not to worry too much about it, we aren’t worried about a reoccurrence until it is above 5 or 6. At level 10 there is a reoccurrence somewhere. Every 6 months mom would go on her iodine free diet, get the full body scan, PET scan, get a chest CT scan, get the shots, get her blood drawn and usually get some kind of biopsy.

Over and over again mom’s scans came back clean and the biopsies came back negative. We played the “wait and see game” watching her TTM numbers double until they were 6.2 last April.

Mom’s case was even sent for a second opinion at Mayo last November – Dad and Karl and I took mom – Dad fell asleep in the waiting room so we decided to include him in our selfie

NONE of the scans showed anything. They have been watching the cancer grow and her numbers rise but they can’t find where it is in her body. About a month ago, moms number had gone from 6.2 in April to 17 in September. Mom had her blood redrawn on Monday and it was 26.

Her TTM number went up 9 points in less than a month. The cancer is back and we have to find it before we can treat it. We have to find it and surgically remove it before we can give her the radioactive iodine to give the best chance at fighting the cancer.

Which brings us to today: Friday. October 18th. Mom will be getting ready for Lacrosse as you read this. She has her scan in the morning, then she is going to EAT real food, and results in the afternoon.

We hope they find the cancer.

We hope it can be surgically removed as much as it can be.

We hope for strength to get us through whatever the results say.

I say we, because mom’s fight is our fight. In this family no one fights alone. We are #KramerStrong

If you have a Kramer strong t-shirt – wear it today! I’d love to see it and I know mom would appreciate the cyber support! <3

P.S. Just reading back through this it doesn’t seem to do justice to all that mom has been through in the past 3 years. This is a very condensed version. This doesn’t include all of the tears, the wondering, the questioning, the fear, every needle, medication, poke and prod.

I’ll paint the kitchen neon, I’ll brighten up the sky
I know I’ll never get it, there’s not a day that I won’t try

– Soon You’ll Get Better by Taylor Swift ft. The Dixie Chicks

She wrote this beautiful heart wrenching song about her own mother’s battle with breast cancer and it really hits a nerve. Get your tissues guys.