Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Morrisons

We love to read others’ Christmas letters. We love to hear your updates, your stories, your creative commentary on the year’s events. Writing our own yearly letter is, on the other hand, a bit of a chore. Getting a good picture to go with the letter (since what is a yearly update without the picture?) verges on nearly impossible. Nevertheless, without further ado, we attempt the nearly impossible chore once again:

Matt continues to work for Vann Pumping Systems and with mentally-challenged adults at Breckenridge Village on the occasional weekend, where he demonstrates the kind, patient attitude we’ve admired in him for years. He continues to manage several income-producing websites, as well as our budget. These two tasks afforded him the opportunity to eke out the cash for a big purchase: after stalking his friend Denny at Stereo and Video Center for months, he finally bought yet another large TV. It’s newer and better than the last one. Does that make it worth it? Elisa’s not sure.

Elisa continues to work part-time at Mother Frances Hospital on the Labor & Delivery unit. She has completed nearly all of her Master’s-level family nurse practitioner program and looks forward to graduation in August. Although she’s not in charge of the budget, Matt’s purchase of the TV afforded Elisa some leverage, so her main purchases this year were a new couch and a Queen-sized mattress set. Did we mention that we are not really buying gifts for each other this year? Feel free to give us a call anytime you’re in the area: we now have a guest room complete with a brand new sleeper sofa and large-screen TV.

Ethan, sweetly oblivious to his parents’ materialistic ways, continues to grow, talk, learn, run, finger paint, and pull things out of cabinets. His current obsession is playing in the sink, pouring water from one side to the other, filling containers, dumping them, and generally getting the entire kitchen wet. He repeats nearly everything we say, and loves to sing and dance. Naturally, we think he’s brilliant. Ethan will turn two in January, and will be starting Mother’s Day Out twice a week, giving Mommy a chance to complete her clinical requirements early in the semester.

We all eagerly anticipate the arrival of baby Noah James in March (except maybe Ethan, who really has no idea how drastically his little world is going to change. For that matter, neither do the rest of us). If Noah should turn out to be a little girl despite three very convincing ultrasounds, we’ll be sure to let you know next year.

We pray God’s richest blessings on you this coming year and always, remembering the words of the old Christmas hymn:
All praise to Thee, eternal God,
Who, clothed in garb of flesh and blood,
Dost take a manger for Thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone. – Martin Luther
With love, Matt, Elisa & Ethan Morrison

Monday, November 17, 2008

The $3.00 (+One Afternoon) Sock Monkey

I try to make something for Ethan for his birthday and Christmas. If I don't do it then, when will I? I won't. As evidence of this fact, I present the Sock Monkey. I bought this pair of socks about a year ago at Marshall's, full of good intentions. They languished in a drawer, until today, when I pulled them out to make a Christmas present for Ethan. At first, I was afraid he'd be horribly ugly, but after getting one ear on, he turned into a pretty cute little guy, very appropriate for our little monkey. If it were up to me, I'd name him "Awesome" after a character on Chuck (just because I think the name's funny), but given Ethan's current naming trends (or lack thereof), I think the sock monkey will probably be called "Monkey."

The pattern came from

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008


So, I am now at the point in my life where doing laundry is a major accomplishment. As in, "I did three loads of laundry today. So there, all you full-time working moms who shuttle three kids around to ball games after work and do laundry in the middle of the night when your family is asleep."

I have only two things to say about this:
1) How do you do it? and
2) Do you have any tips/pointers for washing car seat covers and high chair straps? because mine are looking grungy and the thought of washing them is a little overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things I Never Really Realized I Would Enjoy

I never imagined I would have a child who called himself "Eee Tee." We think of it as E.T., and I am convinced Matt tried to teach him "phone home," too.

I never thought I would have an echo to all my spoken thoughts. If I say, "Look, it's raining again. My goodness," Ethan walks around saying, "Rainin. Mye goo-noose. Rainin. Mye goo-moose," for ten minutes.

I actually never thought I would start talking out loud, non-stop, referring to myself in the third person, as in, "Hum. Mommy really does need to do something about her hair," while driving BY MYSELF to work.

I never really believed all those parents who insist you never get to go to the bathroom by yourself again. I thought I would just shut the door. Ha. Whatever.

I never really believed I would enjoy all of these things as much as I do.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Less Frustrated

So, about 1/3 of the frustrations below have been resolved, and I am waiting to hear about the rest (fellow students I'd called to see about changing schedules, MDs I'd called to see what their schedules are, etc.). I have to keep reminding myself of a song I know... "It Will Be Worth it All." I sure hope so. :) The NPs I have followed lately assure me they love what they do. This is one of the biggest encouragements I've had, along with the knowledge that other NP students are having the same problems.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So, I just counted up. I have contacted 14 nurse practitioners and doctors trying to find preceptors for this semester. Fourteen, folks. And I started this process in early August. So, that makes about six weeks that I have been calling people to see if they will let me come in and see their patients with them. This is without counting all of the NPs I met at a recent East Texas Nurse Practitioners meeting, none of whom were in family or pediatric practice. Of the fourteen people I called, six agreed to work with me. Wonderful, except that the two in pediatrics work for a health system that doesn't (yet) have a contract with my school. So, that leaves four, one of whom only sees adults and already has a student, two of whom are MDs who don't see children, and one of whom is in cardiology.

Now I have a case study due in less than a week on a pediatric patient seen THIS SEMESTER, and guess what... I HAVE NOT SEEN ANY KIDS.

And my preceptor wants to come observe me on a certain Friday, but one preceptor is out of the office that day, the other one has a student that day, and the other two haven't e-mailed me back to let me know if they see patients on Fridays. Frankly, I wouldn't if I could avoid it. So, I have no idea how to ensure I will be doing clinicals that day, other than outright begging and pleading a complete stranger who happens to have MD or FNP after his/her name (and who is not one of the fourteen I have already called) to let me come in and see patients with them for several days prior to as well as on that particular day so that they can evaluate on a five-page form how well I interview, diagnose, treat and write up patients. (And, incidentally, if I find someone who will do this, I will have to rearrange the remainder of my clinical schedule and possibly childcare). Which brings me to my point: all of this has been so distracting from school that I doubt I will be examining, diagnosing, treating, and writing up very well by that point.

When I am an administrator at a nursing school that educates nurse practitioners, remind me to put a system in place that all students have an adequate clinical experience without having to beg people to work with them. That should only happen after graduation, if at all.

I was thinking earlier today that this whole experience will probably trigger some latent personality disorder or bipolar tendencies in me, so that by the time I finish, people will be saying things like, "She used to be such a nice, normal girl before she went to nurse practitioner school." AAARRRGH!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sewing Area Redux

So, I buckled down during a couple of Ethan's naps and straightened my sewing area, with pretty pleasing results. It'll stay this way until I start a new project. :)

Now, maybe I should work on the fabric/yarn/crafts/uniforms closet:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sewing Area

Her sewing area:

My sewing area:

Needless to say, I am inspired to clean up and organize. I have no idea what the original blog post was about because I stopped reading as soon as I saw that neat, tidy sewing area with about as much space and storage as my own. I think I'll be looking for some fabric-covered boxes, or maybe make some for myself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Political Post
Okay, okay, A Rant. Maybe even a Tirade.

Since this blog is mostly about me, and about parenting Ethan, and what we do and think about in our family, I'd love to post right now about how one of the most difficult aspects of parenting a baby is getting the crib sheets on the freaking mattress. (Because it is! and because we have ruined more than one crib sheet just trying to get it where it belongs.) But our family (and by that I mean Matt, and to a lesser extent, me) is pretty interested in politics, so I've got to add my two cents worth to the latest blog fall-out over Sarah Palin:

Apparently, Carol Fowler, the South Carolina Democratic Chairwoman, recently stated publicly that Sarah Palin's primary qualification for the VP ticket "seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.” Good work, Carol. You just offended mothers of special needs children, mothers of large families, fathers of both of the above, the governors of all 50 states, and particularly, the governors who have subsequently become President and Vice President. (I might add, that they haven't had abortions either, so maybe Ms. Fowler is on to something. Maybe I'll run for President in a few years, since by this standard, I am eminently qualified.)

This mean-spirited, immature, ludicrous comment, and others like it, are only more likely to increase public support for the McCain-Palin ticket, and my guess would be that many, if not most, parents of special needs children will consider voting Republican this year.

The only thing I can add, other than speculation on how soon this will start being referred to as "Fowler-gate," is that it is really the best anti-Dem strategy since the swift boat incident. Keep it up, Carol! Let's hear some more nastiness!

A further note: Ms. Fowler later apologized, and indicated that her remarks had been taken out of context. Of course. Probably a case of too little, too late, as the damage has been done.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What I Would Buy if I Had an Extra $3,300.00 Lying Around

Seriously. It's cool. It can hold carseats and groceries and kids, and it's way better than one of those flimsy wagon things you pull behind you.

And, for the record, what Matt would buy if he had twice that amount lying around:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ethan Climbs

He's getting a little more adventurous on the toddler playground. Like all first-time parents, we are smitten.

Ethan Climbs

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cathedral Window Quilt Pattern

I have been so inspired by finding free patterns on other peoples' blogs that I decided to offer one of my own. I wrote these instructions for a class I taught on Cathedral Window Quilting (after learning how to do it from my industrious friend Brite, who has actually finished a cathedral window quilt, unlike moi). This is a variation of a traditional Cathedral Window pattern, easier because you quilt the squares individually then piece them together.

I've been hampered by technology, though, and I can't figure out how to merge the two .pdf pages into one. I also can't figure out how to add a nice "download" button to my sidebar, so it looks as if I'll have to post the images themselves, and you can feel free to download them by right-clicking and selecting "Save image as."

Photo of finished quilt squares courtesy of The Gathering Room.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New Mooches

I'm still enjoying bookmooching, although it seems I have to look hard for books I want. Here are some I've recently received (and am thoroughly enjoying in the 4.5 minutes I have of free time every day):

Exchange your books at

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reversible Bird Seed Skirt GIVEAWAY!!!!

In case you hadn't noticed, I am a sucker for giveaways. I like them. They're quick. They're easy. They're free. In fact, I even win things. Recently, a set of baby caps and an autographed CD. It's like slot machines. You win a little, randomly, and that increases your desire to lose even more money. Amazing, and scientifically proven. But there's nothing to lose here. So, go ahead and take a look at Grosgrain fabulous' sweet handmade and originally designed clothing:

Reversible Bird Seed Skirt GIVEAWAY!!!!

You might even want to enter. :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Babywearing: The New... Oh, Wait. It's Old.

I think the recent trend toward "babywearing" and "attachment parenting" has mostly blown over my head, or flitted by me, or something, undoubtedly while I was changing diapers, nursing, or working on my Master's. However, I had a sling that I used all the time when Ethan was little. I still use it from time to time. I like slings. I liked being able to stick Ethan in one, and nurse, and make dinner at the same time. Slowly, of course, but surely. All this multitasking (in my case) and attachment parenting (in other cases) is seen as some new thing. I've seen authors of websites attack the idea of wearing your baby as if it's some new American fad. As if it's better to let little Johnny go off and be independent by himself just because he's growing up in American suburbia and his mommy doesn't work in a cane field. They seem to forget that women in other cultures have been wearing their babies for years... for millennia, really, that it works well, and that is a normal and natural thing for a mother to do who wants to take care of her baby and take care of other business as well. Does it really matter whether that business is in a Central American jungle or an air-conditioned North American house?

In that spirit, I'm posting a link to this contest: Win the Essential Babywearing Stash from Along for the Ride (one Beco Butterfly, one Hotsling baby pouch, one BabyHawk Mei Tai, one Zolowear Ring Sling, and one Gypsy Mama Wrap). If I win, several of my lovely pregnant friends should rejoice at the gifting potential, and I will, too, because I have wanted to try some of these slings myself, before passing them on (possibly).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ethan Gardens (Read: Plays in the Rocks)

I made this playsuit yesterday (yes, in one day!) from a great oliver+s pattern. I had seen their patterns a while back (maybe Matt's mom sent me a link? Maybe we both saw it in Mary Engelbreit?), so when they offered a free shipping deal, I pounced. Kind of. I thought about it for a day or so, because I haven't spent more than $7 on a pattern in a long time, if ever. It was worth it. Besides, they come with sweet card stock paper dolls, so it's really not that much for the pattern, if you consider how much you'd spend for a paper doll.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pillowcase Dresses

I haven't made any yet, but my mother-in-law has these lovely pillowcases dresses for sale in her shop The Silvery Moon:

Monday, July 7, 2008


I've started bookmooching, giving books away in return for points, that I then use to request books. Here's a sampling of my current inventory:

I've recently read and relisted:
Everything Conceivable by Liza Mundy
and have on my shelf to read:
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
When Character Was King by Peggy Noonan

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Problem with Internet-Based Classes

Internet-based classes are great. I can do the work, listen to the lectures, and write researched discussion posts all from my desk in the dining room, and all while Ethan is sleeping. I'm prone to fall into the trap of rabbit trails, though. I start out trying to find out what the average turn-around time on a GC culture is (2-4 days), and an hour later I'm reading about fatal familial insomnia and trying desperately not to click on over to etsy.

Seems some other people have the same problem: Completely off-topic post about health, fish and clothesline.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quote from Matt after hearing about my experiences in the ER

"I guess you get to see first-hand how people like Obama get elected."

Make what you want of that. I thought it was so funny, I had to blog it right away.

Monday, June 16, 2008

We Were There (or, The Perfect Alibi)

We really did go to see Matt's cousin Jeff on Saturday. I'm not sure who took these pics, but I promise we are the subjects. Other people were there, too, but I'm not at liberty to say who...

Friday, June 13, 2008

The New Toy (and Toys)

My mom's old Kennmore died recently, so I sold it on eBay and bought a stop-gap machine until I know what machine I really want to buy... this justifiable because I have some projects to finish up. :)

The new machine inspired me to try a new pattern:

So, to inaugurate the machine, I made two baby balls (Tag toys pattern from New Conceptions... what a name!) for friends who recently had little girls.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

June Photos

Ethan June 2008

Click above to see more funny faces as Ethan eats grapes and hams it up for the camera.

Too Much Information: C vs. BC Explained

A clarification for NP students and current NPs who really can't remember at the drop of a hat which is which: The American Nurses Credentialing Center awards the "Advanced Practice Registered Nurse - Board Certified" (APRN-BC) designation after successful completion of their exams for nurse practitioners. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Program awards the "Nurse Practitioner - Certified" (NP-C) designation after completion of their exams.

The state of Texas requires that nurse practitioners use the specific title of the certification they received, and prohibits "Advanced Practice Nurse" as a title. This is probably because it's vague and covers a wide range of scopes of practice, from Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to Nurse Practitioners (nine different specialties plus six "by exemption only" specialties are approved in Texas) to Nurse Midwives to Clinical Nurse Specialists (six approved specialties, and ten exemption specialties). For this reason, Family Nurse Practitioners in Texas usually sign their name either FNP-BC or FNP-C, although I've seen NP-C. I am happy to report that this convoluted situation appears to be the result of state legislation rather than RN oversight or the desire to overwhelm patients with long lists of confusing letters.

Image courtesy of Nurse Week.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Update on School: The C vs. BC Dilemma

I've been tooling around the internet trying to figure out which certification exam I plan to take for my FNP certification next year. It's very therapeutic to remind myself that I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I have a simple question: One organization's exam qualifies you to write FNP-C (Family Nurse Practitioner - Certified) after your name and the other organization's exam qualifies you to write FNP-BC (Family Nurse Practitioner - Board Certified), so which is which? You'd think it would be a simple question, but apparently it's not. Someone needs to just put a fact sheet out there. FNP-C vs. FNP-BC. If I find out soon, I'll do it. And it boils down to a mere cosmetic issue. I think FNP-C looks better. Less letters and all. But since I can't figure out which is which, maybe I should choose based on the design of the two groups' websites.

Underlying this question is another one I have: how on earth did we (registered nurses) allow two certifying bodies to emerge for the Family Nurse Practitioner? Does no one but me think it's silly, redundant, and (somewhat) unprofessional?

In other school news, I have decided to transfer to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to finish my Master's. This involves a little more travel, but not much else will change. Now, I'm off to try and find someone who will let me follow them around in the ER to sew people up and such.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another Shameless Plug

I have listed about half of my jewelry in my etsy shop (karenelisam, if you want to search for it). I'll be listing more over the next couple of days. Take a look, and enjoy browsing others' shops, too. (Subliminal messages: Look... spend... enjoy... buy... buy... buy!) Interestingly, this burst of entrepreneurial fever happens to have occurred on the same day I purchased textbooks for next semester. Seven of them. Kudos to Amazon for having the lowest prices overall, and kudos to future jewelry shoppers for feeding my education habit.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Environmental Consciousness for the Underachiever, part 2

In an earlier post, I talked about walking places nearby, like the grocery store, the parks, the pediatrician's office, the pharmacy, and the bakery (where the almond croissants are to die for... or at least, to walk a mile for). An update on that train of thought: how much can I fit in the bottom of Ethan's strollerwhen grocery shopping? $40.00 worth of groceries, apparently. Today's trip was the most I've fit so far:

2 gallons of milk
1 box of Texas toast
1 can of olive oil Pam
1 box of rotini pasta
2 lb. block of Mozzarella cheese
1 avocado
4 bananas
1.5 pounds ground beef
1 loaf of bread
3 packages of yeast
2 cans of spaghetti sauce
1 bag of chocolate chips
36 corn tortillas
1 dust pan

What I didn't do for the environment: tell the cashier to skip bags entirely. I forgot to say anything because I was having too much fun watching Ethan flirt with her and with another nearby baby.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back Home...

and grateful for indoor plumbing, air conditioning, my own car, and my own family. So I did okay without the first three, and missed the last until I got home. Ethan showed he's glad to have me back by patting my shoulder repeatedly and saying "MA-ma!" in his sweetest voice. I'm enjoying the time off in between last semester and the summer session by trying to simultaneously accomplish a lot of little things and do nothing at all. We'll see how this experiment goes. And no OCONUS annual training next year.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sometimes I Feel Like This, Too...

courtesy of xkcd

Ethan's First Picnic

New Jewelry for a Cause : )

Mom and I are planning to sell some things at a crafts fair in May, so I've been busy making jewelry. I hope to sell at least 2-3 pieces, but if I don't, I can just consider the entry fee a donation, since it's to support Children's Miracle Network.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Conversation Between Matt and Me About Nurses

Matt: "I can always spot a group of nurses from like a mile away."
Me: "What do you mean? In a restaurant or what?"
Matt: "Yeah."
Me: "The scrubs probably give them away."
Matt: "No, not the scrubs."
Me: "Okay, the stethoscopes."
Matt: "Nope."
Me: "What then?"
Matt: "Um, their... demeanor."
Me: "So... by demeanor, do you mean attitude?"
Matt: "You could say that. Yeah."
Me: "So, you're saying nurses have attitude?"
Matt: "Yep. You can always hear their opinion even when you're not part of their group."
Me: "This is hilarious. I'm going to put that quote on my facebook. No, I'm going to blog this."
Matt, as I walk toward the computer, "You could also say, 'Nurses are really sweet until you cross them.'"
Me: "Now YOU'VE crossed the line."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Things that Made Me Smile Today

Our azaleas

Ladybug at a neighbor's

Casey's old craftsman house
When I first moved to Tyler, Casey and Sarah Jane lived there. Then Casey and Alyssa. Then, finally, Casey and Travis. Other people I know lived there before, but I always think of it as Casey's.

Lizard on a fence post

Ethan on the playground

The Unboxing

My aunt sent me a box of things from my grandmother. Tomorrow, it will have been two years since Abuela died, and although my aunt set up a memorial website where we could post about her, and my sister-in-law wrote a lovely tribute, I haven't been able to write anything yet. I'm not sure I can, still.

The box contained old pictures and letters to my grandparents from my father, scraps Abuela had saved from when we made my wedding dress, and an empty bottle of her Chanel perfume. It smells like her.

I cried looking through the pictures and reading the letters. I'm not sure why. Maybe because Matt and Ethan never got to meet her, and maybe because she never got to meet then. Maybe because I never knew my father as an adult, and he never saw the person I've become. Maybe because I had a happy childhood.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Crude is up to $110 a Barrel

This is Matt at work. And yes, that is oil all over the ground. I'm just glad it's not all over my carpets. Something... "blew up," I believe is the technical term he used tonight. Babe, I appreciate your hard and sometimes frustrating work for us!

A Post for Knitters

Mom watched Ethan for us for a few hours while I went in to a staff meeting and some training at work. I've been called off so often lately I'm desperate for a few hours. So while I was gone to work, Mom and Ethan played and browsed free knitting patterns at Knitting Pattern Central. A page was up on my computer, and there were so many free patterns available, I may never buy another knitting book again. I downloaded about 10 in one sitting, including the pattern for these adorable baby socks:

I'm already thinking of making them for a friend who's having a girl. Thanks to f. pea for the picture, and Pickin' and Throwin' for the pattern.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ethan Chills on Marmee's Swing

You light up our life, baby boy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How to Get Your Toddler to Eat Grapefruit

Every time you eat a grapefruit, give your baby some. Eventually, he will eat it and like it. Or he'll go off to college.

Here, Ethan eats grapefruit so fast I could hardly take a picture with any in the tray. It's not the first time he's had it, but the first time he liked it. He liked it so much, in fact, that he managed to sort it out from the boring, bland, nearly-the-same-color-and-texture tomatoes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Dream Car

So, we bought our dream car on Friday, a Volvo S80. If it had been new, it would have matched the car Matt has as his laptop wallpaper, which really is a dream. It was used, so it matches the pic below. We're excited about a much larger, safer car than the Bug, which we recently discovered needed almost $1,500 worth of work. Although it is supposed to be mine, Matt's got it today, ostensibly so a friend who is a mechanic can look at it. I think he just wants to drive the new Volvo.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ethan's Birthday Book

For Ethan's birthday, I made him a little Winkflash photo book about the first year of his life. I put an apple green cover on it, called it "My First Year," and wrote simple text in first person. I'm thrilled with the results, despite the fact that I did it in one sitting late at night. I plan to make one for him every year, but I've been thinking about a colors book next: Ethan in green clothes, holding a green toy, for instance, and the word "green" in a large simple font. This will enable me to preserve a few more brain cells by not having to come up with text that chronicles an entire year. I started looking into some different online photo places, and put the results into an article at Real Clever Moms. Follow this link to get the lowdown on photo books: Creating Custom Photo Books.