How to Prepare for the CRNA National Certifying Exam

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Some of my friends became nurse anesthetists and they make a bundle of money every year without the added pressure of working as a medical doctor. You know me, I like to plan ahead when it comes to the education of my children. I found out there are things to be done in high school if you plan on this career.

The National Certifying Exam is one of the most important exams to take when you are trying to become a Registered Nurse Anesthetist. As a student, there are a few important preparations to make before taking the test.

1. Start as Early as Possible

There are a lot of exam materials to cover when you’re studying for the National Certifying Exam. Whether you are taking the test for the first time or you’re doing a CRNA recertification, getting started as early as possible is a must. Continue reading »

By starting early, you can allocate a small portion of your time every day to studying. You will still have enough time to cover the exam materials without having to do multiple all-nighters or drop everything else you’re doing to prepare for the exam.

Starting early also means you can take the mock-up tests several times. That brings us to the next tip we are going to discuss.


2. Take Advantage of Mock Tests

There are a lot of online courses that will help you prepare for the certification exam. There are also a lot of resources, including mock tests, that will help you prepare better for the test. Courses from Valley Anesthesia are among the best ones to try.

Mock tests are easy to find. You can take multiple mock tests and improve your score gradually. After every test, identify the sections you’re still struggling with and study more on the related subjects. You can improve your score much more effectively this way.

More importantly, completing mock tests will also help you prepare for the actual test mentally. Again, that brings us to the next point of preparation to make.


3. Prepare Yourself Mentally

A lot of student nurses don’t pass their certification exams, not because they are not good nurses, but because they didn’t prepare mentally. The test itself can be very daunting, which is why you need to be in the right mind-set when entering the exam.

The day before the exam, don’t push yourself to study hard. In fact, it is best that you stop studying and spend the time relaxing instead. You can spend the day exploring a nearby park or relaxing in front of the TV.

The night before the test, make sure everything you need for the exam is packed in your bag. Don’t wait until the morning; pack everything the night before so you can relax as you wake up on exam day.

Last but certainly not least, get enough sleep. Allow yourself at least 6 hours, 8 if you can. You will feel so much better – and so much more prepared for the test – when you wake up in the morning. You may even enjoy the trip to the exam location. This last tip – along with the previous ones we talked about – will help you ace your National Certification Exam without hassle.

Our Escape from Gatlinburg Wild Fires

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As you might know, Gatlinburg, the town where we live, has been all but engulfed by wild fires on Monday night. I was in Knoxville with the children, for their orchestra rehearsal. When we left the house, Gatlinburg was covered in smog coming from a fire that was burning in the Chimney Tops area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We left the city around 2:30pm, about an hour earlier than we should have, but it was intentional. The previous week we ran into a lot of traffic and were almost late for practice. I just wanted to give myself plenty of time.

Gatlinburg Spur before the wild fires raged

As we left on Monday afternoon, the Spur was eerily being filled with smog and we got quiet in the car.

Outside our home, one could already smell the fire – wood burning smell, but ominous. By the time I got to Light #1, the children and I were in a state of disbelief at the smog, the cloud-covered sun, the strange yellow light around us. My husband was at Zoder’s Inn, monitoring the situation, waiting for updates from the local authorities, and communicating with us regularly.  Continue reading »

At one point he called me and told me “it’s bad.” When he said the Reagan castle was burning, the castle some of you may know, which is on the hill behind Light #3 in Gatlinburg, I knew tragedy had struck our little town.

Boy on the balcony in the Smokies

Our son on the balcony of our condo, 24 hours after the bulk of the fires was put out.

Sometime during orchestra rehearsals my husband called again to say he decided we would all spend the night at the hotel. “Don’t go home, come straight to Zoder’s. And take the back roads, as they closed off the Spur,” he said. He also mentioned high winds and that the rain we were all praying for had not started. He said tree limbs were falling all over the lawn and onto the roof at our house and he had left there to check on the hotel.

When I left Knoxville, I called him and he said the situation had gotten worse. He could see brush fires everywhere and had gotten his mother and her husband to join him at the hotel. They live very close to our home, about 10 minutes away from the hotel. Thirty minutes later I was in Sevierville and when I called him to get an update he told me not to come at all. The city of Gatlinburg was under mandatory evacuation.

Smokies Condo View

The view from our condo on Wed morning, as the rain kept falling and helping firefighters.

We decided I should call friends in Seymour to see if we could stay with them. My friend answered her phone – a miracle in itself, as it is her habit not to – and she was glad to help. This is a family we have known for more than a decade, who have babysat for our children and whose children we have watched grow into great young adults.

I found their home in the dark, shock, and confusion of the night – another miracle. The children were excited to spend the night at their babysitter’s home. The images we watched on TV were harrowing. It took my husband almost three hours to join us, but he made it to Seymour safely with his mom and her husband.

Tree falls on roof

This huge tree fell onto the roof of our home, causing some water damage too, as the rain started that night

We went to bed but could not sleep, not knowing if we still had a home or a business to go to in the morning. We prayed and trusted God for the future. The verse “I will give you beauty for ashes” came to mind and I was encouraged to hope that life will go on, even if we lose everything. My husband was at peace, but he was convinced the whole town would burn down. “There’s a reason for all this,” he said. He drove through scenes he described as hell. Fire burning everywhere: in the trees, in the grass, on structures.

The next morning we received news the hotel was standing, as well as my mother-in-law’s restaurant, The Trout House. The Rocky Tops Complex was used as a shelter and command center for the operations, and the reporters stood with their backs toward the hill where our house was. Behind them, it was dark – a good sign, I thought. No flames over the reporters’ shoulder and the fact that they stood five minutes from our house, asking people to come there if they needed refuge, reassured me that our house was going to be fine. But you don’t know until you see it with your eyes.

Tarp over roof

The recovery has begun, as my husband’s friend and his crew put a tarp over the roof

We got a couple of hours of sleep and then my husband and his step-father left to check if they could be allowed to check on their properties. Several hours later, we received news that, indeed, our businesses had been spared, no fire damage. Our home got hit by a tree felled by hurricane strength winds – it ruined the floor in several areas, because the rain came that night, but we counted our blessings.

Our cat was safe, we were all safe, and the damage was repairable. Many of our friends were not as fortunate. We know people who have lost their homes, their businesses, or both. We are staying in a condo five minutes from our house and are slowly cleaning the mess before we hire a contractor to fix the house. A tarp has been placed over the large hole in the roof.

Please pray for the city of Gatlinburg and all the people who have lost so much in the fire. If you want to support the victims, you could donate to the Red Cross, to Dolly Parton’s My People Fund, or buy a Smokies Strong t-shirt.

The last 48 hours have been a crash course in survival for our children and you better believe I count Tuesday and Wednesday of this week as school days. They learned strange new words: FEMA, TEMA, the National Guard, black hawk helicopters, legendary, evacuation, evacuees, as well as many new Bible promises about “when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned.”

Tuesday Tome Week 48 – I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression

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The second book by Erma Bombeck which I read was I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression. By now I knew Bombeck’s writing was very dated. Moms from the 70s and 80s relished her writing, but I did not.

I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression

First off, her children are disrespectful and annoying. They take furniture and appliances with them when they go to college. They never return the family car with the right amount of gas. After reading James Dobson and Kevin Leman on parenting, coming to a book by Bombeck makes me want to whisper, “you got it all wrong, Mrs. Bombeck!” But, of course, she could not hear me anyway. Continue reading »

With all due respect to a deceased author, I did not enjoy this book. It was funnier than the first one I read, about motherhood as the second oldest profession, but it still did not help me in any way.

So I chuckled because she is funny in the way she presents things, but her chaotic family life makes me want to travel back in time and space and help her put her life in order. Her overbearing mom does not seem so bad after all – she is just trying to help Erma put her life on a schedule.

Her husband – I don’t understand how he allowed her to describe him in such a negative light. Maybe it was because her books were paying the bills more so than his educator’s salary? It was the beginning of the “bash the white man” movement of the 80s. So yes, her books sold well.

Don’t waste you time on this book is what I say.

Our Son’s First KSYO Concert

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I can’t believe I have not shared with you guys about my son’s first concert on the stage of the Tennessee Theater, with the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra. He played with the Preludium ensemble, which opened the concert that night. Erin Archer is the wonderfully talented and patient conductor of this group of youngsters.

KSYO Preludium Concert

Our son (photo center, in jacket) during the concert with KSYO. Photo Credit: Faithful Photography

Kathy Hart, who directs Sinfonia and is the overall KSYO manager, told the Preludium after the concert that their pieces were the strongest opening concert of any Preludium in the 23-year history of KSYO. That’s saying a lot. They really did sound so well that night. Continue reading »

They played Finale by Tchaikovsky and an arrangement of Carol of the Bells by Larry Clark. There is a closeup of my son at the end of the clip, by the way. He is standing, wearing a jacket.

Mom and children at the Tennessee Theater

My children and I at the Tennessee Theater before the KSYO concert

The day before the concert, at their dress rehearsal, I was thinking, “I don’t know…” They still sounded shaky in places, some did not know when to cut off, and Erin Archer kept smiling at them, praising them and encouraging them. I would have been more stressed out about it. But she was right. Somehow the stage changed them and their sound was nothing short of amazing.

Boy and girl in the car

In the car, during the drive to the concert. We live one hour away, so it’s a commitment

My daughter’s ensemble, Overture, is preparing for the concert they will give to the other KSYO orchestras at their holiday party. They are not ready for the Tennessee Theater yet. They are scheduled to take the stage in May, after they have been together longer and honed their skills more. If you think my son’s orchestra is cute, you should see the Overture kids – a bunch of six-year-olds handling tiny violins and cellos. Cuteness overload.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

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This year, we stayed home and played host and hostess to a small group made up of family and friends. There were ten of us around the table, including the four of us. Viewed differently, there were six adults and four children.

Thanksgiving plate

Thanksgiving yummy food

I made Quorn vegetarian turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, fresh salad with greens, tomatoes and petite sweet peppers, cashew gravy, five-minute cranberry relish, corn and dinner rolls (bought frozen). For dessert, I made pumpkin pie, white cake with cream cheese frosting and crustless cranberry pecan pie. We drank apple cider.

Continue reading »

If you decide to try the cranberry relish from the link above, which is from Forks Over Knives, you should not add the orange zest from both oranges. Maybe just the zest from one orange. I found it too bitter and then I had to add more dates to take away the bitterness and the cranberries got overpowered by the date taste and texture. Don’t say I did not tell you.

My mother-in-law brought turkey and dressing made with animal fat for those around the table who were not of the vegetarian persuasion. Food is an emotional issue for most people and I have no desire to change anybody’s lifestyle. I live my life and hopefully everybody else can let me be just as I let them be.

At Thanksgiving, you will not persuade anybody to change their diet, religion or politics anyway. So we chose hospitality and kindness, as we always do, and we didn’t make a big deal out of our differences. We have told the children not to say anything bad about other people’s food choices. We respect everybody’s freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness in their way.

My children love animals so much, they have never asked to taste meat, in case you wonder. In fact, as we are now going through the Little House in the Prairie series, they are getting the picture that living in the big woods or on the prairie included eating a lot of wild animals. They don’t like it. They are thankful we don’t have to live off of animals shot by somebody.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is about the Pilgrims, good food, and gathering my husband and children around the table. I love feeding them.

This year, we turned on the TV for the first time so they could watch Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York City and then a bit from the dog show. It’s an American thing and they need to know some of these symbols of Americana. I liked the song about kindness – I forget which show it is from, but my son picked up on it and told me later on about it. I know they learned a lot as they watched the parade.

Tuesday Tome Week 47 – Aunt Erma’s Cope Book

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This was the third and last book I read by Erma Bombeck. It was better than the first two but I don’t know if it’s because she is growing on me or because she actually got better in this book. It’s all a blur by now but I know I don’t want to read any more of her titles.

Aunt Erma's Cope Book

In this book, she mocks self-help books. I guess the self-help movement was taking flight in the 70s and 80s when she wrote and all these people in her life were trying to help her by suggesting this title and that title. Continue reading »

She read each one and mocked each one and pretty much said she did not find any help. She was going to be a disorganized mom and housewife for the rest of her life. However, even she notices that somehow she does not miss a writing deadline. Hmmm….

What are we to make of it?

I can only suppose the majority of women in her generation felt that way and acted that way and received validation from her writings. She would not sell many books today. Or am I living in a bubble?

She mocks her children, her husband, her friends, her mom and the clients from her part-time job. I know it’s called sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, but it just seems a little disrespectful, in my opinion. Do you really want to make a living laughing at the people in your life?

If it pays the mortgage, I guess some people are OK with it. I would not be.

Life is not perfect and our families are not perfect, but this mocking tone towards them reminds me of mindless TV shows during which everybody cuts everybody down. What’s the point?

Dutch Oven Bread

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Mothers work too hard. We do. It’s no wonder we must find shortcuts in the kitchen. Recently, I found a shortcut for making my own bread and thought I would share it with you. You may know about this already. But just in case you don’t, here it is: dutch oven bread. No kneading, no kidding.

dutch oven bread

Dutch oven bread, no kneading – so easy, a five-year-old could do it

If you think you don’t have energy to make your own bread, think again. This bread is so easy, you could have your five-year-old make it. I followed the New York Times no-knead bread recipe and changed it a bit. Feel free to adapt it to your own likes and dislikes.  Continue reading »

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like sweet bread. I grew up in Eastern Europe, where bread is savory and crusty and chewy and delicious and not spongy and sweet. When I came to the US, bread is what I missed the most.

Bread machines come in handy and I do have one, which I use about once a month or so. But isn’t it nice you could make bread without a machine?

As you can tell, I am pretty excited about this bread I can make in the iron cast dutch oven with four ingredients and no kneading.



3 cups flour (all-purpose or bread flour)

1 t salt (or more, if you like)

1 t yeast (dry, active)

1 1/4 c warm water



Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, or let your five-year-old do it. Then, pour the water in and mix it by hand (it will be messy and sticky, but fun) or use a wooden spoon. Don’t mix too much, just until you get a soft dough which pulls from the sides of the bowl. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight (12-18 hours is fine) at room temperature. Flexibility, friends! Isn’t that nice in a recipe?

When ready to go to the next step… on a floured surface, let the dough be coated with flour or wheat bran. Your hands should be floured as you handle it. Fold it over on itself once or twice. Shape it into a round and put it on parchment/wax paper. Let it sit for another 30 minutes, while you pre-heat the oven to 450F.

Put your dutch oven in the oven to heat, too. Be careful when you handle it, as everything will be hot: the lid, the oven, and the dutch oven.

Pop the dough with the parchment paper into the dutch oven and bake for 45 min with a lid on and 15 more minutes without the lid.

The best part? My iron cast dutch oven worked hard for me, but it doesn’t even need cleaning. The wax paper took care of everything. I just have the counter and the bowl/spoon to clean up. How’s that for a shortcut?

Let the bread cool for at least 10 minutes before you cut it. Enjoy moderately!

Tuesday Tome Week 46 – Motherhood, The Second Oldest Profession

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About nine years ago, when I was becoming a mom, a friend told me about Erma Bombeck’s books as the solution to any of my future motherhood woes. My friend warned me that a sense a humor was a mother’s most important tool, if there is such a thing as a mother’s tool belt or tool box. And Bombeck was supposed to be the author who captured the humorous in the worst things about motherhood.

Motherhood The Second Oldest Profession

I don’t know why I never got around to reading Bombeck until now. Really. I don’t. I remember vaguely thinking about going to the library and checking out one of her books, but somehow I never made it that far. Continue reading »

It might have something to do with homeschooling – the blessed world of homeschooling which has absorbed me into itself. Now that I think I sort of have homeschooling figured out to the point where I don’t have to read about it constantly, I have finally got to Erma Bombeck.

I was disappointed.

Her books did not make me smile. Instead, they made me angry. Really. It took me awhile to figure out why, but now I know. These books are dated. They are not for Generation X moms who are raising children in a totally different way than the Baby Boomer moms for whom Bombeck was writing in the 70s and 80s.

For one, she quotes extensively from TV moms from TV shows that aired in the USA in the 60s and 70s. First off, I was not born then, so I have no idea what she is talking about. Secondly, if I was around, I was in Romania and they did not air US TV series under Communism in my country (unless it was Dallas).

So I did not get her metaphors, but I got her sarcasm to a degree and she simply came across as bitter and maladroit and ill-adjusted to her role as a mother. You might say that she was humble enough to be self-deprecating, but it did not seem so to me. Obviously, her books helped an entire generation of women to make sense of motherhood. But she did not help me in any way.

Is she funny at times? Yes, she can be. But the subject matter is so sad (her children are disrespectful, her husband watches football for three hours straight, she dreams about a career she can never have etc) that it almost made me not want to finish the book. It was depressing.

However, I am a woman of my word. And when I say I shall read a book per week, I finish the book. It’s a good exercise in patience and patience is a virtue. Don’t read this book unless you want to get depressed.

Election Night

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On Election Night, my husband and I allowed the children to stay up and watch the results of the election roll in state by state. We had taken them with us to the voting precinct that morning and we had been talking with them about who the candidates were, what issues we had concerns about and who we wanted to win.

C-SPAN Electoral Map

We referred to this C-SPAN Electoral Map throughout the night.

I printed out some great materials for that night: an electoral map which shows how many electoral votes each state gets and a US map coloring page, which they could color in red or blue as the results were announced. We also watched a video with Grover and Sal Khan, which explains the Electoral College for children.

They went to bed around 11pm and we continued coloring the map the following morning. As of today, they are still counting votes in Michigan, so we are not finished with the project.

Continue reading »

This has been the strangest and most demoralizing election of our times, but we did not get into that with our children. They are small enough not to know about the scandals surrounding the two candidates.

My husband and I are registered Republicans and we treasure Judeo-Christian values. We have friends who are Muslim, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, Catholic, Protestant, nondenominational, African American, Asian American, Native American and we even have Democratic friends. I am an immigrant.

We have a lot of respect for other people’s beliefs and value systems. We love this country deeply and treasure free markets and Capitalism. When one of my heroes, Dr. Ben Carson, decided to run for president on the Republican ticket, I was very excited. He had my vote from day one. Unfortunately, he did not get the numbers and endorsed Donald Trump. I stuck with my party based on that endorsement.

Like 18 million Americans, who were not thrilled by the tone of this election or their party’s candidate, I held my nose and voted. It was an exciting night, Election Night. I was glad it was finally over. It turns out, my husband and I were not the only people who knew this country was, in the words of Dr. Carson, like a train headed for the precipice.

We look forward to our visit to Nashville next year, when for the second year in a row our son will participate in TeenPact One Day – a seminar for children ages 8-12 held at the Capitol Building, which covers civics and government lessons.

Tuesday Tome Week 45 – Bringing Up Boys

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Bringing Up Boys came out first, before Bringing Up Girls. Dr. Dobson considered that boys were in danger, much more so than the girls, so he focused on them first. Many factors were at play during the 70s and 80s, with the rise of feminism. The book picks up twenty years later, to show the results of secular progressive movements and the pro-homosexual agenda.

Bringing Up Boys

I’m all for women’s lib, but when moms go to work and sons get placed in classrooms which cater to girls, we have a problem. Homeschooling would solve it, but I understand that some people simply cannot afford to homeschool and live on one income.  Continue reading »

I bought this book when I was pregnant with my son but never read it until now. He is nine. The urgency of his physical needs as a baby and toddler steered me toward books like “What to Expect…” and “The Fussy Baby Book.” Then, he became of school age and homeschooling books arrested my attention.

Now that parenting switches slightly for me as we enter the next phase, I remembered I had this book on my shelf and decided to give it a go. Of course, I did not find new principles in it. If you have already done your fair share of reading on parenting issues from magazines and other books, you will not be discovering anything new in this book.

Of course, Dr. Dobson is a conservative Christian man and he writes from that perspective. I’m conservative and I like his writings, but I know people who would be offended by some of the things in this book.

The subtitle is “practical advice and encouragement.” Personally, I think we all could use some encouragement on a regular basis. Parenting is not a sprint. It’s a grueling marathon and sometimes our gear needs an update or at least a thorough cleaning.

Definitely a good read if you have a son and not that hard to finish, as the book is around 250 pages. If you read 9 pages a day, you should be able to get it done in a month, which is not bad. Of course, you could also finish it over a weekend while daddy takes the kids and gives you a break.