Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting Dirty

Destination: Hiddenite Gems Emerald Hollow Mine
Total Miles: 290 miles
Cost: $70

For months now, I have been hearing the same refrain almost any time I mention "Field Trip."

"Are we going to go to that mine to dig?"

You would think that after TWO YEARS (and yes, it's been 2 years), they would forget that I promised to take them back to a random mine.

But not my LPs. True to form, they retain promises like elephants (or know the analogy). And this one was apparently more important than some of the others.

This trip started out a little early (for me, this means getting up before 8 a.m.). We were on the road around 8ish, and after a quick stop at Chick-fil-A for breakfast, we were off on a grand adventure. For starters, I had not told them where we would be going for the day. All I said was that it was approximately 3 hours away...the fact that they inferred from this information that we were going to Charleston was out of my control. Once we started passing signs on I-85 for Charlotte, they started thinking differently.

The last time we trekked to the mine, we returned home, clutching our baggies of precious stones, only to hear Mom telling us we should have worn different clothes. Which was true. So, not only did we all wear grubby clothes, the LPs also took a change of clothes.

This particular "mine" (used in a very, very loose sense of the word) has few options listed on their website regarding how to obtain precious stones. The option I went for (this time) was "creeking."

What creeking entails is (for a fee of $10/person plus a couple extra bucks for a pan and shovel) walking up and down (and in and out) a small creek (which has been "salted" or had certain ore placed in it to make it appear rich), digging up the dirt and rocks, placing this dirt into a pan, and sluicing.

Dirty. Wet. And...with my 3 adventurous Little People in tow...a ton of fun.

I estimate our creeking time to be between an hour and a half and two hours. I'm not sure who had more fun: the LPs wading and digging, or me watching them.

Charles, in particular, found several excellent specimens by just walking up and down the creek. Chenie and Thomas had more luck in digging and sluicing.

With our baggies half full, we headed back to Mr. Darcy for a quick picnic lunch.

Then came the dirtiest, wettest part of all: the sluiceway.

We were each given a complimentary 2-3 gallon bucket full of Carolina-red-dirt. Chenie sat next to me and promptly shoveled a bunch into my lap. The point was to shovel out a few scoops into our pans and sluice out the dirt. What would (hopefully) be left was an assortment of stones/minerals.

This process took almost another 2 hours. But by the end, everyone had a baggie full of beautiful stones.

I would HIGHLY recommend the mining process to anyone with children between 5-18 years old. There is something intrinsically fascinating about digging up dirt, sluicing it, and finding colorful rocks. Any kid with an imagination will be intrigued. It is also a useful teaching lesson (how were these formed, explaining the difference of a real mine versus a salted mine, etc), math lesson (add, subtract, calculate pricing of precious stones), history lesson (how early miners worked, important mining facts, etc), even reading lesson (find books on mining, types of rocks, fictional stories about miners, etc).

After doing some basic research, I felt that this mine (check it out here) had very reasonable prices and options. I like to Google things to do in and around various places. I also check out tripadvisor and read reviews (some of which, I take worth a grain of salt). Check it and let me know your opinion!

When we were heading home, I asked the Little People what was their favorite part of the trip. To my astonishment it wasn't eating Chick-fil-A for breakfast or QT for supper; it wasn't creeking or sluicing. They all 3 agreed, their favorite part was "Getting dirty."


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Climb Every Mountain

Destination: Denver, CO
Total Miles: over 3,000
Cost: $300 (give or take a few)

Last year was truly the year of far traveling for myself. My list of  places visited (just in the year 2012) includes: Seattle, WA; NYC (twice); Denver, CO; Boston, MA; plus multiple road trips (Concord, NH; Charleston, SC (twice); Victoria, BC; Knoxville, TN (several times).

So, why bring up an old trip, you ask?

Because in 13 days, I will be heading back to Colorado...which was one of my favorite places (ok, so I say that about all of them, but I really did like each one for different reasons).

Nursing school may not be the best place to meet a vast number of people, but it is an excellent place to find friends with similar interests.

One such person is my friend, Caroline.

She grew up in Colorado, but her family moved for a couple years to Greenville, SC. Even though she was a few years below me in school, we became good friends (it's a long story that I won't go into). Before she graduated from college, her family (which is one kid bigger than mine) moved back to Colorado.

I was invited to visit, and as I had never been to Colorado and wanted to hang out after she graduated...I bought a plane ticket.

Mind you, I am a Southerner. And I love warm weather. So, my trip (and this future one, too) was planned during the month of July.

The mountains...

The Rocky Mountains are indescribably magnificent. And I fell in love.

I stayed for 5 days, during which we covered a lot of ground. Literally. We drove up both Mount Evans and Pike's Peak, walked through Red Rocks, visited Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods, shopped around Breckinridge, rafted through Brown's Canyon, and just hung out.

My vocabulary felt very limited..."amazing," "wow," "incredible," and "breath-taking" were about all I could manage. The Rocky Mountains (so named because of the innumerable rocks that make them up...versus my mountains, the Smokies, which constantly have pockets of fog rising from them which look like smoke) were not what I was expecting.

And I am very excited about going back for another visit!

So stayed a couple weeks, you will see my vast vocabulary (which someone informed me was several thousand words larger than normal people because I am a "medical professional") reduced to "wow."


Monday, June 18, 2012

And Some Sweet Day...

Campers' Song
Forty-eight teenage boys' voices raised in one song. The perfect way to end camp.

Sr. high Champions
Friday night, we had the Awards' Ceremony after the championship games. We watched a preview video of activities from the week, heard several testimonies from both the guys and their parents, trophies were awarded, Pastor Mike gave the final challenge, the staff sang one last song, and the campers got up in front of their parents, quoted the camp verse and sang the camp song.

John 3:16
"For God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Victory In Jesus
"I heard an old, old story how a Savior came from glory, how He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me. I heard about His groanings, of His precious blood's atoning. Then I repented of my sin and won the victory! O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood (Praise God!). He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood."


Kristen and I
Saying goodbye was a little harder than I thought. But the last verse of the song was the perfect reminder that someday we who have trusted in Christ alone to save us from our sin will meet together on those golden streets and sing together again the song of victory.

Was it worth the long hours in the van? Was it worth a week of sleep deprivation? Was it worth going outside my NICU comfort zone and nursing a bunch of teenagers? Was it worth staying up late and getting up early? Was it worth sitting for hours in a gym with 48 sweaty basketball players?


(Ice, the new staple)
Because long hours are a part of traveling. Because sleep deprivation is nothing new to me. Because nursing teenagers is still nursing. Because staying up late, getting up early, and sitting in a smelly gym for hours was an adventure I'll not soon forget.

Because in the end, this whole trip was a chance for me to meet brothers in Christ, brothers that I will spend eternity with in heaven.

And THAT is worth more than anything in this world.

Thursday, June 14, 2012




Nothing in common? Think again.

Tuesday morning my brother, Will, texted me to see if I could sing in the morning service. Which started in less than an hour. Fortunately, I had a couple songs prepared and, with the help of my amazing pianist, Kristen, we picked the song Bow the Knee.

After a quick breakfast, everyone headed downstairs for the service.

My solo was right before the speaker, Mike Fisher. Everything was great up until the end of the second verse.

As I started the chorus of the second verse, a loud, high-pitched wail started.

I couldn't tell if it was a cellphone (which the guys were not supposed to have with them), or if it was something else. I kept singing. After a few seconds of ear-piercing wails, the lights on the fire alarm boxes began flashing.

What we learned later was that the construction crew across the hall had managed to trigger the fire alarm wires.

I finished my song, singing a little louder to be heard over the sirens, then the decision was made to move everyone to the gym for the service. Some of the guys asked for me to sing the song again, so in the after-lunch service, I sang again. Sans fire-alarms.

Every morning after the service and a time with the counselors, the guys have "gym time." A majority of this time is spent doing drills. By the second day of drills, everyone was groaning and moaning. The second morning in particular, I found most of the guys coming into the gym, and instead of grabbing a ball as soon as they could hit the court, most of them laid down on the floor in a desperate attempt to capture any possible amount of extra sleep they could.

One drill in particular, the first one they learned on Tuesday morning, has been a particular source of soreness. I believe it's called "Skating." The basic idea is: going the length of the court, hopping from one foot to another, swinging arms from side to side, land on the toes of one lower extremity and pull the other leg up and behind. The purpose of the drill is balance and toe-strengthening. And apparently, it is stretching hitherto un-stretched muscles.

Updated List of Injuries:
Sprained ankles
Jammed fingers
Jammed thumb
Bruised knees
Sore backs/shoulders
Strained shoulder
Bloody nose
Lack of sleep

Life is falling into a pleasant pattern. Of sorts.

At least until Friday, when I am told the "Field Time" which is new in the schedule will include football and water balloons.

Bring on the injuries!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meds and Inhalers, Sprains and No Brains

This about sums up my last 2 days.

Monday afternoon, camp was bombarded with 49 teenage boys...and not just any boys. Basketball players. (aka "ballers")

Registration was a little touch and go. My job (as the first table they visited) was to make sure that every kid had a medical waiver form signed by a parent/guardian, filled out the medication form, and turned in their meds to me. Easy enough?


For starters, the medical waiver forms were not printed. So, we had to figure out who had one, who didn't, and get the basics filled out and signed by a guardian.

Then there were the medication forms. Hence, the title. My constant refrain: ''Any meds and inhalers?" If yes, they had to fill out the form and hand over all their meds (which I get to dole out throughout the day). If no, then they could finish registering at the next table.

So far, my nursing duties have consisted of taking care of a sprained ankle (for which I have been hailed a miracle worker), a jammed finger, babysitting a Junior Higher who broke his wrist the week before coming to camp, a bloody nose (during the service, not from playing), and prescribing sleep for a jet-lagged kid who only slept 2 hours last night.

I know, you're thinking: "Wait. Aren't you a Neonatal nurse?" And the answer is, yes. I am. And I following these four steps: (not in any particular order)
1. Ice it.
2. Elevate it.
3. Wrap it.
4. Medicate it.

I have taken to employing my time in the gym (which is any time there are guys in the gym playing) with reading. Namely, this is to avoid watching these kids running into bleachers and falling repeatedly. They will give themselves concussions. And it does nothing to my blood pressure to watch them and wonder if the next one will be some awful injury.

Bless them. These kids are dedicated to playing ball...though, I'm certain some of them either have no brains or don't care about them enough to stop running into bleachers.

The services have been phenomenal! Pastor Mike and his evangelist friends, LJ and Mike Fisher, have been challenging the guys in every aspect of their lives. From learning how we as sinful humans are separated from God eternally by an insurmountable wall (metaphor: the Berlin Wall), and that Jesus Christ is THE only Way to the Father, to knowing how they can have assurance that they are truly children of God, to learning that what we put in us (music, movies, language, etc) is what will come out eventually. It's not even half way through the week, and the Lord is doing a mighty work here!

A small highlight for me and Kristen (the other girl, aka secretary/pianist/teacher) was Monday morning. We had to make a McDonalds run...and happened to be talking about it when we were at the Welcome Center picking up supplies. One of the men in the office volunteered his car for us to take. It was sweet, and I enjoyed every minute of driving (even if I couldn't put the top down).

Well, lots more to say, and more to come later, so keep an eye for updates! I will share in the next post about one of the most...unique? things that has ever happened to me while singing a special during the morning service.

Til then, night ;)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Of Tolls and Stadiums

Today's journey included a decent amount of driving. Having not been this way since I was a little child (little enough I do not remember the trip), I loved seeing the new scenery.

We trekked from Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Watertown, Wisconsin in 10ish hours.

Once we hit the more northern states (namely Indiana and Illinois), there could be felt a perceptible difference in the quality (or lack there of) of the roads. Yet this was correlating to the increase in toll booths, a fact I find perplexing.

One such toll booth even had a McDonald's drive-thru located in the middle of the highway. You could grab your meal (and change) and a few feet away also pay your toll.

Traveling with a bunch of guys also meant listening to a slightly more than fair share of sports talk, complete with sightings of a couple big name stadiums (in Chicago and Milwaukee).

One of my favorite sites was driving past Chicago. What a huge city!

I will try to post more (once we have internet access at the campus we are staying at...I'm currently in McDonald's enjoying free Wi-Fi) soon.

For now, please pray for us as basketball camp starts tomorrow morning! Campers are arriving from all over the States. Life is an adventure...and never dull!