Do What You Love and Love What You Do: Why I Became a Nurse

I’ve wanted to care for people ever since I was little. By the age of four, I was determined to be a physician. By high school, I knew I wanted to specialize as a Cardiothoracic surgeon. Alas, life had other plans for me.

High School Graduation: May 2000

College was hard! I was living on my own with my boyfriend at the time, and working a full-time job while I went to school. On top of that, my grandfather, to whom I was very close, suddenly passed away from a massive heart attack. Later that same month, I found a lump in my breast & worried it was cancer. I let the stresses of adult life weigh me down, so I let go of my dreams of becoming a surgeon and dropped out of school.

For years I tried, unsuccessfully, to go back. I worked various jobs from parking cars at a casino to working as a bank teller. Yet, my heart was still drawn to medicine. In 2005, I decided to try and get my foot in the door to healthcare. I acquired my CNA license so I could work as a nurses aid, essentially staring at the ground-up.

As wonderful as it was to finally be helping people, I knew I wanted to do more. However, working full-time and attempting school wasn’t successful for me in the past, so it became a mountain too tough to climb. It wasn’t until the birth of my first child 2 years later that I knew I had to buckle down and get my degree, if not for me, for her.

Izabella Jade was born 04/26/2007. She stayed 2 days in the NICU because her respiratory status was compromised at birth. Luckily, all was well.

Becoming a physician seemed out of the realm of possibilities at that juncture. Instead, I started looking into nursing. Of course, I’d worked with several nurses as a CNA, and what they did for both the physicians and their patients really peaked my interest. I knew that was what I was meant to do.

With the help of my then-boyfriend (now my husband) and his family, I cut back my hours at work, and went back to school. Nursing school was, by far, the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life! It’s hours of reading & studying, a complete lack of sleep, little time for the family, and no social life for 2 whole years. You really have to want it, to make it happen!

My clinical group. Only 6 of the 8 of us finished nursing school.

For me, school took an additional year. Not only did I plan a wedding & get married but I also had another baby. Life tried to get in the way, but this time, I persevered! In May of 2012, at the age of 30, I graduated nursing school. It was one of the most proud days of my life.

I married the most loving & supportive man, Bill Stevens, on August 22, 2009.
Our second child, William Patrick, was born March 30, 2010.

I’ve never regretted not going to medical school to instead become a nurse. Knowing what I do now, I would have hated being a doctor. The long hours, being on call, and minimal time spent with patients would have made me miserable. As a nurse, I get to spend time with my patients, get to know them, and educate them about their health. You’re not afforded the time to do that as a doctor.

I just love being a nurse! I meet so many people of all ages from different backgrounds, religions, & beliefs. For a short period of time, we are thrust together in what may be one of the most difficult times in their life. I don’t just bring them their medicine and assess their health but I tend to their soul. Whether I’m holding their hand, or sharing a smile, or taking time for conversation, we connect with one another on a human level. I bring them love, compassion, and peace, if only for that brief moment. What other profession can say that?

To me, being a nurse is about serving others. Now I don’t mean like a waitress bringing you endless food and drinks or as a stewardess bringing you pillows and blankets. What I mean by “serving” is providing care to those in their time of need. Even if it’s changing the dressing of a surgical wound, administering IV antibiotics, or showing a new diabetic how to give himself insulin, I’m imparting assistance that individual cannot perform at the time for her/himself.

I have a passion for helping people. Whether it’s rocking a newborn baby to sleep, holding my patient’s hand as they take their last breath, or wiping away tears after the doctor has delivered devastating news, I am there. I may work long hours, my back and feet may ache after a long day, and I may be sleep deprived, but when a patient says “thank you for caring for me”, I know it’s all worth it.

My path to becoming a nurse may not have been straight and true. It was filled with many obstacles & road blocks. But it is my calling, what God put me on Earth to do, and I love it!

From 2013 when I worked at Immanuel Hospital.



I LOVE SHARING MY FAMILY ADVENTURES…                                                                          …AND ARE HAPPY TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

Finding Our People on the Road: Our First Fulltime Family Rally

The beginning of March, we had the opportunity to participate in our first RV rally. We’ve been a part of Fulltime Families since we hit the road nearly 2 years ago. With my work schedule, however, our timing hasn’t allowed us to participate in a rally, until now.

The individuals who helped organize the rally & all of the activities.

Our journey from New Orleans took us east to Orlando. Along the way, we stopped in Madison, Florida where the RV rally took place. We stayed at Jellystone campground, a cute park with several playgrounds, jump pillow, bounce houses, mini golf, a water park, tether ball, & Gaga ball (I’ll explain in more detail later).

Our RV spot at Jellystone. The low hanging trees worries us a bit, but we luckily had enough clearance.

With this being our first rally, we didn’t know what to expect. We were super excited to meet people & make connections, but nervous at the same time. I think the kids had an easier time making friends than we did. They just say, “Hi. Wanna play?” and they’re off. As adults, we have to find a conversation starter or some common ground to get the ball rolling.

Initially, what made it challenging was the sheer amount of people. There were 69 families, so about 280 folks in all. Where do you start? To say the opening ceremony was overwhelming would be an understatement. In fact, we left that first night wondering what in the heck we signed up for.

FTF group photo of 69 families: about 280 people.

But we shook off the first day jitters, and jumped back into the activities. They had morning “Coffee Talks”, which were small group gatherings discussing different topics like building relationships, healthy eating on the road, videography, etc. The afternoon sessions were much like the coffee talks but took place after lunch, so they were great for those of us who aren’t morning people. These small group gatherings were a great way to not only learn something new but also get so know folks without feeling the pressure of such a large group.

Our favorite part of the rally was probably the small group potluck and branch campfires. Again, these small gatherings were a great way to get to know other families without being overwhelmed. Friendships happen best around a meal or a campfire, right?

FTF Traveling Mercies branch fire.

There were sessions provided for the kiddos, too, with art projects and games. However, our kids’ favorite part of the rally was the GaGa ball. We’d never heard of this game until we arrived, but it was all the rage. It originated in Israel, and GaGa means “Hit Hit”. The players enter an octagonal sand pit with a rubber ball in the middle. The kids then push or slap the ball across the pit in an attempt to tag the other players out. The last one standing wins.

Photo credit:

The kiddos spent from sun-up to sun-down every day at the GaGa ball pit having fun playing, making friends, & soaking up the Florida sun. In fact, they have an address book they made at one of the crafting sessions that is now full of friends names, emails, phone numbers, or instant message links so they can keep in touch with their friends on the road.

Here’s a couple of photos of Will with his new friends Spencer & Jasper. There was a costume contest during the closing ceremonies, and Will’s friend Jasper dressed up as Will. It was so cute! 💗

Will with his friend Spencer.
Will & “Will” (aka: Jasper) during the closing ceremonies.

The rally also had a Mom’s Night & Dad’s Night Out. It was another opportunity to get to know our peers & have some fun, too. For the ladies, we played a dice game called Bunco. We gathered in groups of 4, and rotated every round, so we played with new people. Between the snacks, adult beverages, and the fun of the game, I was able to meet so many other ladies I’d not connected with before, and I had a blast doing it! In fact, I may have had a little too much fun and felt it the next morning, but it was worth it!

The Bunco Queen gets to wear the crown.

The guys had a casino night with poker, blackjack, and craps. They, too, had some adult beverages to go along with the fun. Bill was smarter with his alcohol consumption than I was, but he stayed out a bit later than I had.

With all the activities of the rally, and late nights over the campfire, we were exhausted by the end of the week but also rejuvenated. It was so amazing to have met all these folks that are living life on the road just like we are. We feel like we now have a community to belong to, that we’re not alone in this crazy journey. The best part is we all have a few new friends, too.

One of the families we connected with at the rally: Casey & Jessica Lindsey. We can’t wait to meet them on the road again and build our friendship.

We can’t wait to attend another RV rally and continue to grow our new friendships!

For more photos & video of our time at the Fulltime Families Reunion rally, check out our YouTube video. NOTB Goes to Its First FTF Rally



WE LOVE SHARING OUR ADVENTURES…                                                                          …AND ARE HAPPY TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

New Orleans to Orlando: Our Journey East

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. We journeyed through 3 states and 2 time zones, met with 69 families at the Fulltime Family Reunion 2019 (more to come in a future post), lost another hour of sleep with daylight savings, & I started my new assignment at Orlando Health.

Our schedules have been all out of wack! So I’m definitely behind in my blog posts. But here’s a summary of our latest adventures.

My job at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans finished up February 27th, so we hit the road the next day.

On the morning of the move, I broke the toilet flusher. Oh s$@t 💩 Yet, we had places to go & people to see, so onward we went.

Our first stop was in Biloxi, Mississippi. Luckily, there was a Camping World near by, so we picked up a new toilet. You can check out how Will & I tackled the replacement here. 👉🏻 RV DIY: Replacing Our Toilet

The next morning, we hit the road again. This time we stopped in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Now this is a town we could really sink our teeth into. Alas, we only had the one day, but we made sure to visit the infamous white Alabama beaches at Gulf State Park. I just love the beach: the sound of the waves, the smell of the salty air, & the peace it brings. It’s definitely one of my happy places! 💗

The next day, you guessed, we were off again. It was our longest travel day on our trek west, and we lost an hour with the time change, but we were only on the road for about 4.5-5 hours. This time, we were able to park the home on wheels for a full week in Madison, Florida where our first Fulltime Family RV rally was being held. We got to meet other families (69 to be exact) who travel the country via a mobile home. It was refreshing, overwhelming, and wonderful all in one. Both the kids as well as Bill and I made some great new friends and had lots of fun. But since it was our first rally, and we didn’t know anyone, it was like speed dating for an entire week. Needless to say, by the time Sunday rolled around, we were all an exhausted. Yet, no rest for the weary; it’s off to Orlando we go!

The next day (yes, I said NEXT day), I started orientation for my new job at Orlando Health.

I had to report every single day for 7 days straight! 😵 Not every day was a full one, but it was exhausting. Between the hectic week of fun in Madison, the busy work week, the new time zone, and daylight savings, my immune system was shot, & I ended up down & out with an upper respiratory infection.

After a few days of much needed rest, plenty of fluids, some meds, and some TLC by my amazing husband, I’m on the road back to health. So now, you’re pretty much caught up.

Hopefully, we can get back into our regular rhythm this week. But we’re not ready for the excitement to end! We still have to make it to Disney & Universal Studios. AND we have a few family members planning a visit south, too. So stay tuned for more to come over the next few weeks.



WE LOVE SHARING OUR ADVENTURES…                                                                          …AND ARE HAPPY TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

Reflections of the Big Easy: New Orleans, Louisiana

Well, our time in the Big Easy has come to an end. While we know Louisiana won’t be our “forever” home, we had some fun experiences & made some great memories here!

We stayed at a nice, no-frills campground called Ama RV Park on the Westbank of the Mississippi River (about 35 minutes from the famous French Quarter). We were literally right across the road from the levee, so we got to watch all the barge traffic…so neat!

Being on the Westbank also means we have to cross a bridge to get to town. The bridges here are no joke! They tower miles above the water to accommodate all the barges with their cranes as they drift up & down the Mississippi. Being EXTREMELY afraid of heights, I have a mini panic attack every time we cross!

We arrived just before Halloween, so we missed their Krew of Boo parade. However, we did attend the Park-a-Boo event in Lafreniere Park. The kids got to play games, experience a haunted house, get faces painted, and go trick-or-treating. When the big day came, the kids made out like bandits in our neighborhood, too!

Our first touristy stop in New Orleans, was not the French Quarter but Lake Ponchartrain. The causeway that crosses the lake is the longest roadway over a body of water in the world. We stopped for some fried oysters & Poboys in Mandeville & checked out the local farmers market. There’s even a cute lighthouse museum on the south shore. Check out the video of our experience: Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

After a few weeks, we finally made the journey to the infamous French Quarter. The people, the architecture, the music, & the food all give this historic part of the Big Easy it’s charm. Of course we had to try the notorious beignet, a donut-like pastry covered by a pile of powdered sugar. Check out our short video where we compare the original Cafe du Monde beignet to Cafe Beignet: Battle of the Beignets.

We also stopped at Central Grocery to try their famous muffuletta. It’s an Italian-style deli sandwich with mortadella, salami, & ham, Swiss & provolone cheeses, and an olive salad on a sesame focaccia bread. It’s certainly not that traditional southern food of New Orleans, but it sure was delicious!

Perhaps my favorite part of the French Quarter was the St. Louis Cathedral. The three steepled house of worship faces the Mississippi River and was dedicated in the 1720’s to Louis the IX, the King of France. With its colorful, life-like mosaics, intricate architecture, and brilliant stained glass, it’s hard not to feel a sense of awe and peace when you step through the threshold of this ancient house of God.

Of course, the other side of the French Quarter is the more adult Bourbon Street. Walking the streets with kiddos during the day was safe, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend it after dark. It was cool to experience, but it was a little disappointing. The streets were so dirty & smelled of urine, and most of the stores & bars are traps for the tourists. In fact, a lot of the locals I worked with said they rarely venture to the Quarter at all.

We did come back for a second visit to the French Quarter when my brother & dad came for a visit. Instead of paying the $30-$50 to park our beast of a truck, we parked on the other side of the river & took the ferry over. I HIGHLY recommend that alternative when visiting!

I was also able to spend some time with my friend Deborah in the Big Easy. Deb was a nurse I’d met while traveling in Tucson, Arizona. She was interested in getting into travel nursing as well, so I hooked her up with my agency, and she took her first assignment here in NOLA. Not only were we able to work together but we also got to hang out in New Orleans. One of my favorite outings was our day at the World War II Museum. It’s comprised of 5 different buildings with 3 floors of history. It was fascinating, & I highly recommend a visit!

Christmas time in New Orleans is full of lots of opportunities for family fun, too. We had to check out the zoo lights at Audubon Zoo, which was really neat! We also went to the Celebration in the Oaks in City Park. Aside from seeing Santa, the park was filled with all kinds of Christmas light displays as well as a farmers market & poinsettia tree. It sure put us in the Christmas spirit!

After the holidays, we ventured back in time to the days of the last great battle of the War of 1812. The park was actually closed because of the government shutdown, but we were able to explore the grounds. In addition to loads of information about the battle that took place here, we were also able to check out artillery cannons, the Malus-Beauregard antebellum plantation house, and the national cemetery. It was so humbling to walk where so many fought for their lives & for our freedoms so long ago.

We also explored an old indigo & sugar cane plantation. The Destrehan Plantation offered a guided tour through the old antebellum mansion. We were also able to explore the grounds, which included a one room school house, a trapper’s cottage, and slave homes. Feel free to watch our video tour here: Destrehan Plantation Tour.

While the main home was beautiful and the history of the plantation intriguing, I was saddened by the disparities between the rich & the enslaved. One room in the slave house had a bean-stuffed mattress on the floor that was meant as a child’s bed. I was also taken aback by the fact that the plantation owners did not have to provide all the food or even clothing for their workers. For example, we learned that most slave families had to tend their own garden after working long days in the field if they wanted enough food to eat.

Our last couple of weeks in Louisiana were during Carnival season, which is the time of celebration leading up to Mardis Gras. While we didn’t get to stay for the big parade, we did get to experience a family friendly one. However, it is not like parades back home in Nebraska! Folks down here are serious when it comes to beads!!! People were literally rushing up to the passing floats just to get their hands on some. It was insanity!

We also made it to the Gulf of Mexico before we left. The town of Grand Isle is Louisiana’s most southern city and the place where we were able to finally get a glimpse of the gulf. It was crazy windy & a bit chilly, but it was still neat to lay our eyes on it for the first time as a family.

Our final and, perhaps, most memorable experience in New Orleans was trying the infamous crawfish. It was just coming back into season, so we were able to get our hands on some. We picked our feast up at Hebert’s (Irene’s Place) Seafood, and warmed it up at home. We had to watch a couple of videos on how to properly eat a crawfish before we were brave enough to tackle it. Lol And the idea of “sucking the head” was a bit unnerving. However, we all dove right in and really enjoyed this southern food. Bill’s working on the video of our experience right now, so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

From the French Quarter to the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans certainly had a lot to see, do, and experience for us Midwesterners. Yet, our time here has come to an end. Onto the next adventure…



WE LOVE SHARING OUR ADVENTURES…                                                                          …AND ARE HAPPY TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

Preparing for the Move From Louisiana to Florida

If you’ve been following along with our story these last couple of weeks, then you know our time here in Louisiana is coming to a close. With just 2 weeks left on my current contract, I was able to lock down my next travel nursing assignment. All the stress and worry is over, right? Well, the short answer is yes…and no. We now have to prepare for the move.

Step one is finding a new place to call home. Of course, the rig is home, but we need a place to park it. Florida is still flooded with all the snow birds escaping the cold up north, so spots in RV parks are hard to come by. We called about 15 parks without luck. Most had no vacancy until mid April or May. However, luck was on our side, and we found ONE park with ONE spot available for the length of our stay. Woop woop! 🙌🏻

Step two is getting the truck ready. We had an oil change done about a month ago, but we had a check engine light come on. As a result, we needed to address that before we leave town. No problem. We have an extended bumper-to-bumper warranty. Unfortunately, the warranty didn’t cover our issues. Go figure. 🙄 $1300 dollars later (yes, ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED dollars) we’re back up and running. Except, that pesky check engine light was shining bright again once I got our beast home. So back to the shop we go. We’ve already replaced the DEF tank sensor, and thermostat. Now the DEF pump is out. Once again, the extended warranty will not cover it. The joys of having a Diesel engine. 😬 By the time all these issues are fixed, we’ll practically have an all new DEF system. Totally what we wanted to spend our income tax refund on. 💸

Step 3 is preparing the rig for the big move. My close friends and family know that I hate clutter with a passion! And we’ve been collecting junk that’s been cluttering up my life for too long now. So we’ve gone through drawers and cupboards to purge our excess and lighten our tow load.

With the clutter gone to Goodwill, we switched our focus on the outside of our rig. It hasn’t had a proper cleaning since our last visit to the repair shop in Texas last January. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to scrubbing. By the time we were done, we were sore and tired and had broken our scrub brush, but our rig is now shiny and clean. I even spent a couple of hours cleaning windows and screens. Ugh…that was a miserable task to be sure!

The last thing we have to do to get our home ready for the move is check our tires. We use a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) to monitor our tire performance while on the road. However, we have to make sure the tires are fit to hit the road first. When we move from state to state, we also move to different climates. Those climates can affect our tire pressure. In Omaha, Bill’s buddy Mike had an air compressor, so he filled our tires for us. Yet, we don’t have any friends in Louisiana to reach out to for help. So Bill and I purchased a portable Viair compressor on Amazon, and are now self reliant, as far as tire pressure goes. Lol

Well, we’ve found a place to stay in Orlando, we’ve got the truck ready to rock, and we’ve got the rig ready to roll. The fourth and last step is getting us all ready for the move. I have 5 shifts left at work, and we plan to hit the road after my last one. That leaves little time to get all our tasks done. We need to go grocery shopping, make sure laundry is done (including bedding), and return all our library books.

There’s a lot of preparation that goes into our move from place to place with every new contract. Although our biggest stressor is definitely acquiring a job, it can be nerve wracking making all the arrangements, too. Yet, excitement is building, and we can’t wait to see what adventure awaits for us in Florida. Stay tuned!



WE LOVE SHARING OUR ADVENTURES…                                                                          …AND ARE HAPPY TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.


Where to Next…

It’s that time again…time to find a new job and a new place to live. We’ve been in Louisiana now for nearly 3 1/2 months & are itching to hit the road!  I have 3 more weeks left on my current contract, so it’s time to start the search.  This process is both exciting and terrifying!

We usually have an idea of where we want to venture months before we look for the jobs.  Our ultimate goal is to explore the east coast this year, head back to the south for the winter, and explore the west coast next year while chasing the weather.  For our spring contract, we’re hoping to head to Florida. Sunny beaches, Mickey Mouse, and Mets spring training are all on our bucket-list.  Of course, life doesn’t always work out the way you plan.

I’ve reached out to my recruiters to see what’s available out there, but Florida isn’t paying squat.  In fact, it’s one of the lowest paying states in the nation right up there with Louisiana.  So, we’ve had to compromise our desired location and expand our search to Georgia & South Carolina.  We’ve even been open to looking at the Virginia coast.  The trouble is, there’s not a lot of jobs paying what we need to survive without depleting our savings in the process.

Patience at this juncture is key, but it’s not easy.  I had a job offer this week for a position in Brunswick, Georgia.  Yay!  Guaranteed work!  However, the patient acuity was high for the nurse to patient ratios, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking that assignment. Sooooooooo…it’s back to the drawing board.

The yo-yo of emotions can be exhausting.  And the multiple phone calls, e-mails, and job listing can be overwhelming. But, we’ve been doing this for 3 years and have yet to be jobless at the end of a contract.  (I hope I didn’t just jinx it!)  The Lord always provides, and we have faith that he’ll come through.  But an extra prayer or two from you all wouldn’t hurt 😉

We’ll keep you updated on our progress, so stay tuned! And if you’re curious about what our process is when looking for the next contract, check out our latest video on YouTube.  5 Tips for Finding Your Next Travel Contract



WE LOVE SHARING OUR ADVENTURES…                                                                          …AND ARE HAPPY TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.



Less Stuff < More Memories

Since the birth of our idea to live full-time in an RV and travel the country, we had to let go of concept of the “American Dream”. Keeping up with he Jones’ was no longer for us. Besides, we couldn’t possibly travel in a 400 square foot rig and still keep all the things we thought brought us happiness.  So we downgraded, sold our stuff, and hit the road. And we’ve been exploring the country every since.

We’ve had to change our mindset, to get rid of the idea that things would make us happy. Now our focus is all about making memories.  This makes it challenging when trying to celebrate special life events that traditionally require and exchange of or gift giving such as a birthday.  But, really, when Bill & I think back on our childhood to holidays or birthdays, it’s not the presents we remember.  It’s the feelings, the people, and how we celebrated that evoke those nostalgic memories.  We want that for our children, too.

This last year, all of our individual birthdays were spent doing something special for the honoree.  In January, Natasha was treated to a home made breakfast, a “choose your own adventure” birthday card, dinner in a fancy restaurant in San Antonio, and a special home made cake baked by the kiddos.  For Will’s birthday in March, he chose to dine at an authentic Mexican restaurant in Tucson so he could enjoy some nachos, his favorite meal. Then, we went mini golfing at a pirate themed fun center.  When Izabella was back in Omaha for an orthodontist appointment, her Grandma Mary surprised her by getting her ears pierced. When she was back with the family in Tucson, she picked an Italian restaurant for lunch and a day of playing video games. Since Bill’s 40th birthday the year before was pretty low-key, Natasha wanted to do something epic for his 41st.

We were in Bemidji, Minnesota during Bill’s birthday in August. Minnesota in the summer is perfect for outdoor entertainment.  With its beautiful scenery and pleasant summers, Minnesota is perfect for activities like boating, hiking, or camping.  Bill really wanted to get some fishing in during our stay there.  So Natasha surprised him with a guided fishing trip for his birthday.  It was certainly a day none of us will soon forget!

Check out the video & pictures on our YouTube channel at Bill’s Birthday Experience .

We love the freedom that traveling has given us not only from the rat race of the 9-5 but also from our stuff.  We’re making memories every day, and experiencing so much more of the country than Bill & I ever dreamed when we were growing up.  The adventure we’re on has so much more meaning than any of the things we had accumulated.




WE LOVE SHARING OUR ADVENTURES…                                                                          …AND ARE HAPPY TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.