Finding Housing

I don’t know what aspect of travel nursing would cause you the most anxiety.  Would it be interviewing and finding a new job every three months, adjusting to a new city and cultures, being far away from family and your support system, or finding a new home sight and neighborhood unseen?
Well the thought of doing all these things the first assignment out was a little overwhelming.  Knowing I was a newby, the travel nurse company “held my hand” (walked me through everything one small step at a time).  The interviewing is more like a friendly chat since they aren’t hiring for a permanent position and the company has screened you fairly well to make sure you are a competent nurse.  You talk about the hospital, the number of deliveries, C/S rate, the state/area and the opportunities it offers (that is them selling you on their location).  They ask you some of the normal interview questions.  You don’t feel like you have to sell your nursing abilities, the questions come from you as much as they do from the Managers.  I guess they can tell a lot by the questions you ask as well as how you present yourself on the phone.  It must pay to be relaxed and not uptight, because it has made the process quite enjoyable and I have had positive responses.  (I suppose that this is a bonus of my faith in God and that he as called me to do what I am doing and it’s all in his hands, so there is no reason for me to worry or be anxious).
Navigating a new state and city is fun, Chad is the master of finding the local grocery stores, malls, Petsmart, library, and parks.  This task really isn’t as scary as it would have been 10 years ago.  Smart phones, our little traveling multi-taskers, put GPS right at our fingertips and boy oh boy that makes a big difference.  There sure are big cultural differences from region to region.  Although I have learned a lot about the Navajo people, and the German descended badgers of Wisconsin, I am excited to be headed back to a land of Spanish practice opportunities around every corner. I’m a bit out of practice.  Being away from family has definitely had it’s effect.  I can’t hug my little sister to comfort her on the loss of a much wanted pregnancy/baby.  I can’t help my other sister move, or attend the birthday parties for my niece and nephews that I formerly would not have missed for the world.  The kids miss their cousins and friends and frequently request to see grandma and grandpa.  Chad has to deal with the most social isolation having to be so far from friends and family just like the rest of us , but unlike the rest of us he doesn’t meet new friends in Sunday school or on the playground, he doesn’t go to work where there is daily interaction with other adults. We can however make that phone call, and make Face Time chats with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Facebook, email and text messaging has also kept us in the loop.  Although we are not present physically for our friends and family we are still there for them and they have still been there for us.
Housing when taking into account tax laws and restrictions would still have my head spinning, I’m a nurse not an accountant you know.  Chad having a degree in business is definitely more of that mind.  That doesn’t mean I understand it any better, but at least one of us does.  In order to simplify things we took company provided furnished housing for our first assignment.  We arrived to a perfectly furnished apartment albeit with moderately worn Ikea furniture, but the beds were soft, the essential dishes filled the cupboards, and we didn’t have to procure it ourselves. Wow though, it was steep! So in order to go about the next assignment in a more budget friendly manner we opted for unfurnished company provided housing.  A three hundred dollar Walmart trip was a good deal when compared to the $2,000 furniture rental for 16 weeks would cost.  We bought three air mattresses (Caleb picked out a cot at Goodwill), sheets, pillows, wash rags, bathroom mat, silverware, cheap plastic plates, bowls and cups, a strainer, cheap pots and pans which turned out to be a mistake, tin foil, ziplock bags, an ice tray, a fold up camping table and four $5 camping chairs. We use our cooler for a fifth chair. We got a cot, coffee maker, and a reclining camp chair at Goodwill and a ice tea pitcher and a few utensils at the dollar store. The pots and pans started flecking off their non stick coating right away and we continued to have additional teflon flecks in everything we ate for at least a month until it was pretty much all off, needless to say the pots are going in the trash when we leave.  The camp chairs will to.  They have served us well, but are coming apart at the seams.  We lost one of the air mattresses to excited kids who mistook it as a trampoline.  We have discovered the reclining camp chair to be unnecessary, as we rarely sit in it.  It’s main function has been to hold clean laundry.
This next assignment we are braving the task of procuring our own housing which will also be unfurnished.  Craigslist was our friend this time. We opted for a bigger apartment complex very close to the hospital. This is taking some additional risk as we will be the ones held responsible for the lease (3 months) if something unexpected happens with the job, but it has it’s payoff as it does save us a good deal of money not having to pay a second party to find it and organize everything. I guess we will see how it all works out, all part of the adventure. I don’t want to let this go to my head. But maybe I’ll feel like a real travel nurse after this, having conquered finding our own housing.
From Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, “O powerful Goodness! Bountiful Father! Merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates, accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return in my power for the continual favours to me.”


Categories: Travel, Travel Nursing | 2 Comments

How we road trip/ entertain the kids/ keep it affordable

Road trips are just as expensive as you make them.  That being said, with gas prices the way they are, depending on the distance, that is one expense that will be consistent no matter how you do the math.  The other three big things are food, lodging, and activities.  These are the three big ones we will discuss here.
Food: wow food can get expensive quick.  We brought our cooler even though space was limited thinking we would use it for day trips, and the first few months we pretty much didn’t use it for anything besides an extra chair in the dining room.  (We still use it for that).  Before long Chad was telling me we either can’t do that activity or we have to pack a lunch. With eating out running us about $50 a meal it was adding up quick.  We might go an hours drive (or four) to do a free day long outing, but if we ended up paying for two meals at restaurants it was an expensive day.  So we started packing a lunch, and in typical camping style, it was cheaper but not much.  We had to decide if we really want to go out and do these outings, or eat well, and it wasn’t going to be both all the time.  So we eat mostly out of the cooler now.  If we have a four day trip, we will stay somewhere with a continental breakfast so we don’t have to worry about that meal, and we pack our lunches and dinners.  We don’t really eat snacks, but really, do we need to be snacking all the time? Lunches are usually peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches and fruit.  Dinner is usually baked sweet potatoes and more recently cold chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and occasionally hot dogs.  I won’t be able to tell you that this is healthy, plant strong, non GMO, or organic.  We will eat out of the cooler for the whole time besides one meal, and we will pick one meal and eat out as a special treat.  In this way the cost of travel food is already part of our weekly food budget, and not an added expense.
Lodging: We are headed into winter now, which limits the amount of camping we will be doing, but camping, if food is kept to a necessity not buying all of the traditional camping food for a single trip (I’m not saying don’t buy marshmallows, just don’t buy six kinds of chips, boxes of bottled root beer and ribs to grill on the fire all for one trip) can significantly cut our lodging costs from $100 a night to $30 a night.  KOA campgrounds are not usually the most forested or out door adventure type campgrounds, but they are everywhere and even close to big cities if you are trying to stay fairly close to where you will be doing your scheduled activities.
Hotels also come in a wide range of costs.  People are funny about their preferred hotel chains and you are right, there are often big and noticeable differences from one chain to another,  but if you want to travel and make those family memories just figure out what is important for you. This is just one area where there is some flexibility and the choices you make can give you more wiggle room and the opportunity to get out more. We usually opt for La Quinta, mostly because they allow pets to stay for no additional charge, they have a nice continental breakfast, frequently have a pool, are reasonably priced and have a membership type thing that has a stay 10 nights get one free deal, (it’s actually a points system) but if we are staying in a hotel as much as we do, we might as well be earning a free night’s stay.  As soon as the summer weather comes again, we will be out taking advantage of the opportunity to tent it, and be in nature. Oatmeal in the woods is just as good or better than any continental breakfast.
Activities: So far everywhere we have been has touted an large variety of activities.  We could take Moab Utah for example, but really, you will find this anywhere.  You can fill your time with the most expensive forms of entertainment paying out big bucks for jeep rides, hot air balloons, and an endless list of $12 a person museums.  It is sometimes so hard to choose since unless you just fell into some kind of lottery winnings, inheritance, or you are Bill Gates, you aren’t going to be able to do everything that piques your interest.  We have picked three favorite activities which are most often free.  They are: touring the Capitol buildings of the states we visit, hiking, and visiting national parks and monuments. (this one is not truly free but with the America the Beautiful pass that we were given by the Silverton FBC as a going away gift, they are free to us.  The pass is about $80-$85 a year.) We save the activities that cost money for a special occasion.  We plan ahead for them, and look for coupons online that help with the cost.  It also puts it in a different perspective if you think, it will cost our family $50 to do this activity.  We would think nothing about paying that much for a dinner out, so let’s not go out and do this activity instead.  Knowing that we can’t do everything allows us to do our research and narrow the list down to the activities that are truly worth the time and money.  Things like zoos and amusement parks are mostly all the same, we want do the things that are unique and only experienced at this location.
Entertaining the kids in the car: we want the kids to be looking out the windows a lot and we also want them to learn how to entertain themselves.  Chad would say that Audible has been a life saver.  We do listen to a lot of audio books. The kids also have their kindles and they read.  Another big entertainer is their notebooks where they draw and write stories.  We watch for cool new license plates, and which house we would want to live in when we grow up.  That is pretty much the extent of it.  The kids would tell you that they like their long car drives because it is uninterrupted reading time that they wouldn’t get at home.  There are times though, when it is particularly scenic that we make them put their books down and look out the windows.

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Lake Superior!!!

So beautiful, so much more beautiful than Lake Michigan!
After church we turned north. We had not seen Lake Superior yet, and what better thing to do on a Sunday afternoon than a Sunday drive. Three hours and thirty minutes according to the GPS to Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


It is sooooo green here.

We walked to the first few overlooks.



We decided to walk to the lower over look.









The short hike down to the second overlook made us hungry for a longer hike so we ventured further down the trail another mile or so. There were way less mosquitos (nearly none) the kids nearly ran the whole way it was so fun. The beautiful beach at the end of the trail was the best bonus ever.





IMG_0626.JPG The roots and mud made for a really fun obstacle course.

The slow little river was dubbed, “the honey bucket river” due to it’s color.
















It was going to get dark on us and the hike was longer than the mile it stated on the sign so sadly we said good bye to the amazing beautiful and superior to all lakes, Lake Superior.





I was bare footing it to strengthen my feet and as a child I enjoyed the mud and sand between my toes.






With the lake behind us and sunset in front of us we headed home.



Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel | 1 Comment

Hiking and a day at the beach Wisconsin style

Point Beach state park was an hour drive northeast from Neenah. The drive was gorgeous, but instead of taking pictures I just soaked it in as we drove past. Cute little towns, small farms and dairies, crops and old barns, lots of them reminded me of places I’ve been in Oregon and Idaho. We weren’t sure if the hike we had selected would have views of Lake Michigan or not, so we were pleasantly surprised when we could see the lake from where we parked the car. We had to check out the beach before we headed on out on our hike.









We were so excited for our first good hike since leaving Oregon (New Mexico was just too hot). We headed out.



We weren’t more than a half mile in when the mosquitos discovered the new meal walking through. We stopped and coated ourselves with a kid friendly mosquito repellent. Heading back out on the trail we found this big guy. So cute, I love beetles!





The scenery was great, it was so beautiful. The kid friendly repellent didn’t hold up to the barrage so we had to cut the hike short which we were all bummed about. That did leave a lot of extra time for playing on the beach.






After our late lunch Chad walked up the beach to find the light house while the kids and I continued to play and soak in the sounds of the wind and waves. I was pulled from my happy place by a strange sound coming from the parking lot. I turned, it was a ranger and he was addressing me. “Ma’am no dogs allowed on the beach!” I looked around, and down the beach. Chad was out of sight with the car keys. All three kids were in the water. I couldn’t leave them unattended. I finally got their attention and got them up on the beach. I had the big kids sit by our stuff, and Eve walked with me up to the car (it was a ways and meant the big kids were unattended while I did this which I guess was less worry some to the officer than the dog being on the beach). Then having no keys to put Myra in the car, I tied her to the bumper and quickly returned to the 7 and 9 year old. I looked around and saw no signs that prohibited dogs on the beach in case I had missed something the first time. As soon as Chad returned I had him check on Myra and put her in the car half expecting that he would return and say that she wasn’t there only a note saying the ranger had taken her because we had been negligent in leaving her tied to the bumper of our car in the parking lot. He didn’t, she was still there and fine. We knew that you couldn’t have a dog at the public parks in Wisconsin but it didn’t cross our minds that she couldn’t be at the beach either. I sometimes have trouble with letting one little thing ruin my whole day and it had been such an amazing day. I have let it go now, and some day I will be better at not letting these things get to me. I do feel like Wisconsin is such a beautiful state it is too bad that it’s so dog unfriendly it has been a total turn off. We will still thoroughly enjoy our time here but hopefully living here long term is not in our future. We didn’t stay too much longer after Chad got back. But we couldn’t leave without seeing the light house.


It was another beautiful and fun walk down to the beach on the other side of the park.



These days hiking, driving, playing in the sand are more fun than the big days and major attractions but I suppose that each have their place and it is good we do a little of both.

Rawley lighthouse must be a privately owned beach house as there were vacationers lounging around it with camp chairs and towels on the back porch.



It would be a fun one to climb. The board walk to view it was also fun.









We drove a different route on the way back home through more cute towns.





IMG_0563.JPG We came home to a package in the mail from Donna’s cousin Patty.


IMG_0566.JPGwe love it! So fun. Thank you Greg and Patty! Chad had declared it family movie night and had checked out a movie from the library for just this occasion. So we ate our dinner and I quickly walked Myra as the kids changed into their PJ’s and we piled in our room and watched “the Ugly Dachshund”

Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

A Sunday Drive to the Beautiful State of Michigan

Church was good. The president of a local Christian college spoke. After church the kids returned their church library books and checked out new ones and then we piled in the car. The plan was to go home where it was my turn to make sandwiches for lunch. Chad surprised me by turning to me and asking if I would like to go home and make lunch or grab something quickly on the way up north, taking a Sunday afternoon drive to the Michigan Upper Peninsula. Why sure, I love Sunday afternoon drives. And the hour and a half it would take to get to the border was nothing our road calloused behinds wouldn’t enjoy. We found a Culver’s, which is similar to Dairy Queen but specific to the area for lunch.


We think this Bus that was parked at Culver’s would make a great vehicle for our crew.

The girls quickly fell asleep after lunch, and Caleb and I focused on our books. Pretty soon Chad was announcing the cross over into the state of Michigan.


The view between houses of Lake Michigan was beautiful, and then we found a cute little beach where we could pull over, get out, and enjoy the view/warm sun/hot sand/cool breeze. The kids waded in the water and chased around the little frogs that scattered in every direction, but never could be caught.












The kids dug around in the sand for a while before we climbed back in the car.



We got home in time for dinner, and to all our surprise Superman joined us for the leftovers feast.

Then Myra and went out for our first attempt at a run. I was wishing for a bag to wear over my head. But it really did go better than I thought it would. Now time for bed. Work will come all too early in the morning.

Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

John Hancock Observatory or not…

Chicago has been on our radar for a while, with the weather here about to change we needed to balance. It was too rainy and overcast with predicted thunderstorms to do Noah’s ark and we weren’t ready for a longer trip yet like driving up the UP (upper peninsula) see Lake Superior then drive down to Lansing and then continue around Lake Michigan to make a big circle. We had not researched much in the way of Chicago must do’s but had heard that the John Hancock Observatory was fun. Due to traffic we got into Chicago about noon. We drove around the down town area looking for public parking having very little success. We found one place and just as we were getting ready to leave they said, “there’s a dog in your car! You can’t leave a dog in your car here it’s illegal.” Frustrated we got back in our car and drove around some more wondering what we could do in Chicago with a dog. If it is anything like Wisconsin no animals are allowed in public parks. As we drove I looked up the Illinois law which stated that it was illegal to “Confine any animal in a motor vehicle in such a manner that places it in a life or health threatening situation by exposure to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from such heat or cold.” With it being an overcast day, with the windows down and a bowl if cool water we feel like it is way more humane to have Myra with us than shut up in the house at home every time we go out. We found a public parking structure near down town and backed into our parking space. Knowing that we were not violating any laws because there was ventilation, fresh water, and no sun light intensifying the heat in the car, (I know some of my friends may get mad at me for this) we walked to the Observatory, now called Chicago 360. The cost would be 12 per child 18 per adult 26 for parking totally $98 to see Chicago from the observatory. I’m sure it is worth it but it was quite a line, and the kids weren’t that excited about going up either, so we bagged it for today and will hopefully get to do it when they are a little older. We drove by the Navy Pier several times and that looked fun. We had no plan but we were formulating a plan for next time. We decided on an early dinner of Chicago deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s Pizzaria. To our surprise they had GF pizza as well, which we weren’t counting on. Noticing we were only 15 miles from Indiana and 34 miles from Gary Indiana we decided to go there, in honor of the music man and adding another state to our list. The drive around that part of Lake Michigan was very pretty. Being in Indiana made me think of Michael Sherman. We were only three-ish hours from you. It would be fun to meet your family while we are in this part of the world.
















Gary Indiana



Back through Chicago just before sunset.


I know you are all sad about there being no Chicago Owens family selfie…maybe next time.

Categories: Family Time, food, Fun, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

St. Paul Minnesota

Capitol under construction.
The Capitol building in St. Paul was very under construction. We went halfway around the building before we finally saw where you could go in.




IMG_0297.JPG In the front you had a great view of the Cathedral on the hill opposite the Capitol.


IMG_0293.JPG There was pretty awesome views of the city as well.


IMG_0303.JPG Inside two wings as well as the dome/rotunda area were closed do to construction. Windows were boarded up furniture and clutter lined the walls and the once beautiful stenciling was faded, lacked luster and the building as a whole was dark. At 109 years of age the building was in much need of the newly commenced facelift. We still enjoyed the tour but decided it would be good to go back in 2018 when the renovations are complete.















IMG_0321.JPG Spanish ceiling tiles on the ceilings of the ground floor.


IMG_0324.JPG German themed cafeteria in the lower level, open when the House and Senate are in session.


IMG_0325.JPG the carriage entrance to keep out of the rain and snow.


We found a really cute little town to have lunch in. The food was soooooo good.






IMG_0339.JPG the scenery around here is awesome!







IMG_0353.JPG we are home not too late to get a quick load of laundry done that will include uniforms for work and try to catch some zzzzzs. After these next two days we will be three weeks into this contract (one shift shy of 1/4 of the way through it).

Categories: Fun, history, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

Minnesota…Mall of America

We had made plans to go to Bay Beach today, so we all piled into the car and started up towards Green Bay. The weather report had said there was a 50% chance of rain. We only made it about five miles before it started to down pour. Not the kind of weather you want to spend all day walking around in. So, on a whim, we did a U-turn and headed towards Minnesota and the Mall of America. We were saving that trip for a rainy day and it just so happened to be a rainy day. We had all grabbed an extra set of clothes in case it rained on us while we were at Bay Beach, so if we needed to stay the night somewhere we would be set. We enjoyed the scenery and the rain after we had made the decision to head west and knew we wouldn’t be out in it all day.




Our 13th state to hit on this trip.
California (we count that since we as a family jotted down there to get my CA nursing license), Washington (our goodbye family weekend at Great Wolf Lodge), Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and now Minnesota. Minneapolis was not too far past the boarder and only a short distance from St. Paul.
Mall of America here we come!















It was a fun day. Although we didn’t ride any of the rides or visit the aquarium under the mall, so it was kind of like visiting Disneyland and staying in the village looking in but never actually going in. The rides were about $10 per person, per ride, so it would cost our family $50 a ride. I’d rather save up and go to Disneyland.
Now for a restful night at our favorite pet friendly hotel chain so we can visit the Capitol building in the morning.

Categories: Family Time, food, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | 1 Comment

Wisconsin Capitol Building in Madison

We quickly worked to get ready for the day and on our way to Madison.

The directions from Neenah were nearly a strait line, and as you can see, even once in Madison there were no turns necessary. Only drive straight, straight to the Capitol.

There were two other Oregonian cars in the visitor parking structure. We appreciated this guy’s plates.

Our now-tradition of the Capitol building family selfie.



The building was fabulously beautiful, and seemed short after the Illinois Capitol building. I liked its all granite exterior. The inside had marble from several different states and six countries. A lot of which have since been quarried to extinction making them completely priceless.






The park or Capitol grounds were filled with people at lunch time eating their lunches in small groups and office people out on walks for exercise. It made the Capitol feel more accessible and an actual part of the daily lives of Wisconsin’s people.

The Capitol is nearly surrounded by water as there are lakes on either side with a fairly skinny land bridge between on which the Capitol has been built.

20140813-212141-76901214.jpg The resources of Wisconsin painting from before it was the dairy state.

Our guide.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will be in session while we are here and the public may attend the cases.

We got to sit in the senator’s seats and Caleb, by chance, sat in the seat of the head senator (I forgot the actual title for this position).

I love the skylights.


The senator’s parlor.


Down on the floor of the House of Representatives.

I’m ready to vote.
Here is a picture of Old Abe a Wisconsin Civil War mascot

It is actually a Jr. The original one burned in the Capitol fire in 1904. But this one has been sitting on this perch since abound 1908 and is an actual taxidermied bald eagle that a farmer found dead in a field and brought in to the Capitol as a reminder of the real hero of The Civil War.



There were beautiful views of the city from the fourth floor observation deck.

20140813-214453-78293969.jpg Also another surprise was a hidden away museum up in the Capitol not too far below the dome.












We found a park by which we could enjoy the water and let the kids get out some energy.





This little guy kept walking circles around my bracelet over and over again.


We sat under a chestnut tree which made us think about Aunt Vicki and Uncle John.




Myra and I went for a walk after dinner. The scenery is so different here than in New Mexico both beautiful. I enjoyed Myra’s quiet companionship and the time by myself to process the day, life, goals, my Jesus and the big picture.






Out of our reading from “Pilgrims Progress” today. I know this is true and may I take it to heart and remember it when I am making little decisions all day, big decisions, when I am going through hard places, and when I am tempted to take the easy way out.


Categories: Family Time, Fun, kids, Road Trip, Travel, wisconsin | Leave a comment

Appleton Alliance Church

It was much harder to find a church here in Neenah area than in Farmington.  Most were Lutheran, Catholic, or really emphasized speaking in tongues on their “about us” web pages.  The nearest Nazarene churches were over an hour away.  Then Chad found Appleton Alliance, which is a huge church, 3,700 people attend Sunday morning services, with three services and a very focused kids department, which included AWANAs.  I know we won’t be around for the whole year, but that is something we have always done for school and I was so glad to have found a church that hosts it.  The first Sunday went well.  The kids department help desk was very helpful, and the kids found their classes, had fun, and learned stuff.  After church, the kids checked out books from the children’s library (still at the church) then we headed to the car to drive around town a bit more.  After finding Appleton Medical Center, the other hospital where I will be working (two hospitals I am nervous about that) and having lunch, we decided to drive around Lake Winnebago which took the rest of the afternoon.  I think everything is in order for starting tomorrow, now if only I could quiet my nerves, get rid of this headache and get a bit of rest… if only.  I would appreciate any and all prayers for tomorrow and this first week to go smoothly.

Our bed so homey and reminds us of our friends back home, Thank you Shari for the pillow cases, and Lara for the quilt.  They go with us everywhere.

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