Saturday, December 31, 2011

Child Support

My husband was in the doctors lounge this afternoon and met an ENT he didn't previously know. He described their conversation like this:

ENT: Hi, I don't think we've meet before.
DrH: No we haven't, I'm xxxxx.
ENT: So where do you go next?
DrH: I start a fellowship in July at xxxx.
ENT: What are you going to do with your first paycheck?
DrH: I told my wife she can have it.
ENT: Do you have kids?
DrH: Yeah, we have 4.
ENT: Oh, then she deserves it.
DrH: I think so.
ENT: What kind of car are you going to buy?
DrH: My wife is looking at a Honda Odessey.
ENT: Those are really nice. How about for yourself?
DrH: Um, I don't know a BMW maybe.
ENT: Did you know that child support starts at 25% of your income and goes up 5-10% per each additional child. In your case that could be almost 50% of your income.
DrH: No, I didn't know that. It doesn't matter, I plan on staying with my wife.
ENT: Oh.... OK. (DrH says his tone was like "sure you will").

Awkward. What kind of crazy person brings that topic up out of the blue? I am dying to know if he is married, divorced, or scared to death of being married and having children!

And for that matter why do men think that just because they might do something stupid like cheat on their wife means that all men will. ARHGGGGG. I should give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he wasn't implying that my husband would be unfaithful, but rather that I might grow tired of the absent husband and leave him. Of course I would never do that either. If I can make it through residency (and I will) I can make it through anything!

Happy New Years Eve!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Year End Rush

I am no policy expert but I am smart enough to know a problem when I see one. The reason I know about this particular problem is that my DrH has been missing in action all week. No technically missing, because I know where he is and there is plenty of action there.

You see in the surgical world there is mad rush of people "needing" surgery the week following Christmas up until New Years Eve. What a strange phenomena that so many people would require attention that one week out of 52. Not so strange when you realize that they are manipulating the system to their advantage. They probably needed surgery earlier, but who wants to be in the hospital during the most exciting time of the year (Thanksgiving - Christmas)? They could probably have surgery scheduled later, but they don't for various reasons. No, everyone wants to have their surgery performed at the end of the year before the clock strikes midnight.

OK, in all fairness not EVERYONE. Just the ones who have already met their deductible for the year and want to squeeze in a freebie. And this is what is wrong, in my opinion. I wonder if there have been studies done on this year-end rush. I love google. I put in year end deductible surgeries and this article came up. It's not a study, but apparently everyone is aware of it.

Of course much depends on which side of the operating room you are on. What a rush of patients in November and December means for my family is that DrH probably won't be able to take time off during those months, when the rest of the world wants to take vacations, unless he wants to lose patients.  Well, at least not for the first several years at least.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I have held the anti-gaming position for my entire adult life. We had one when we were kids, a Nintendo I think. I don't ever remember playing it. EVER! I vaguely remember my brother playing it. And I have more vivid memories of my dad thinking it was a complete waste of time. It was. And now I am the owner of yet another piece of time-wasting equipment. Yes it is. As if the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products didn't rob us of our productivity already. We are die hard apple fans, but they don't make gaming systems... they might be on to something.

My husband would have me believe that the future of medicine can be found in the science of video gaming. That his eye-hand coordination will improve by playing these games and thereby make him a better surgeon. Don't I want him to be a good surgeon? For years I have been telling him to show me the evidence that such research on the subject exists. He said there is a study showing that surgeons who played video games prior to operating had xyz, a good something or other. You can tell that I didn't really listen to that. He did show me this article recently that makes sense, but I am convinced that it could be learned in 5 minutes  - it's not rocket science. Wasn't Kinect targeted to kids?

I have images of a grown man sitting on the couch for hours with drool pooling below him, unshaven, and in a state of hypnosis, game controller in hand saying "just until I get to the next level". The kind of guy that suddenly loses his desire for the OR by the same device that was supposed to make him better in the OR. Sounds really attractive. I have no intention of enabling that kind of behavior. I have four children to take care of, one of which already drools and wears a diaper. I don't need another one.

Well after years of denying my husband what every male wants, I have finally given in. We are the owners of an Xbox Kinect gaming system. I am a practical person who respects a good deal, and I suppose we needed to buy something for Christmas with the money that the hospital gives us. It was supposed to be for the kids. Yeah, right. I suppose every man needs a way to decompress after a long day in the OR. And I suppose that because he is playing Lego Star Wars with his son that can count as male-bonding time that was previously lacking. But so help me, if I find him sitting up in the middle of the night in his underwear playing games I'm going to pull the plug!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Merry Christmas

Today is Christmas. Today is also Sunday. The best part of today, and yesterday, is that I was with my family. My DrH, and my four kids for two days:-) Today we went to church and listened to beautiful Christmas music and visited with other members of our church who were just as excited as we were to be there. I wish I could bottle that feeling. A couple of times during the opening songs I thought I could just cry. I don't usually cry at Christmas, it's a jolly holiday! But when I think of what Christmas really means it touches a place in my heart that I usually keep closed, tightly.

Regardless of what was, or wasn't, under the tree this year I have been blessed beyond measure. I know this, and in the back of my mind each time I complain about this or that I know that it is really just a small thing. All the big things I have in my life are amazing.

I am so grateful for this time of year. The only reason I have been able to make it this far in this journey is through my faith in Jesus Christ. I know that he is the Son of God. I know that he fulfilled a divine purpose that was laid out from before the beginning of time. I know that he is the perfect example. I know him as my brother, my friend and my Savior. I am so glad that God loves me, and each of you, enough to have sent his son to prepare the way for us to return to Him. I know not everyone believes that Jesus Christ is what I know him to be. If I didn't know that I would feel lost and alone. He gives me hope. Hope that what is happening now is for my good. Hope that even though it may be uncomfortable at times, it will be better. Hope that something bigger awaits me if I can endure my trials well. Hope that at the end of my life I will be found a good and faithful servant. Hope that what I do matters.

This is our last Christmas with our congregation, in this particular city. This is the place where we have raised our children. I am going to miss this place. I am going to miss these people. I am going to miss this part of my life when it is over. And yes, it will be over soon!

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas traditions and what our Christmases might look like one day and the thing I keep coming back to is love and generosity. I don't care what we get, I want to give. I know of a family to wakes up early Christmas morning to make and serve breakfast to residents of a senior, low-income housing building. Another family who quietly gives wonderful gifts in secret to people they know who are in need. I don't know the giver, but I do know the receiver. I want to be someone like that. That is what Christmas means to me. That is the spirit of Christmas that I want to be able to teach my children. Instead of wondering what Santa will bring for them, I want them to be excited about what they might be able to give to others.

Merry Christmas!  I hope that you had a wonderful day and that you were able to feel the spirit of Christmas and the joy of the season. I am looking forward to a wonderful New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Our Christmas's are really lame around here. Very ungrateful sounding of me, isn't it?

You know what it is like paying the bills month to month, there isn't a whole lot left to save for Christmas. Add that to my obsession with keeping a zero balance on our credit cards doesn't leave many options for gift giving. At this point I have come to grips with the fact that Christmas isn't about gifts anyway. Isn't the purpose of Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ not sending the best cards, making the best treats, or getting the best presents. One day we will have a Christmas that looks perfect. This is just another one of those years when we dream about the things we would like to buy for each other.

This time of year is always so stressful, mostly because of the financial strain we have been in for the last several years, but in addition to that we are separated from our family - it's almost like we are being shunned. We aren't, but a couple thousand miles exist between us. It's more like exile.

I've been making an effort to be more honest and this year and had to tell my sister that my family didn't want to participate in our annual gift exchange and had to defend our position. She was a little surprised. It didn't make me happy to do it, but it was the logical thing to do. Would you like to hear our position?

In the past each child has purchased a gift for one of their cousins. I have 4 kids, 4 gifts at $7-$10 each plus shipping means that we will spend upwards of $50 on gifts that we will not see opened, from cousins who don't know each other, and we will never receive a thank you call or note saying they received it and how they liked it. We will spend another $40 plus shipping on a gift for my sibling and their spouse, that they probably won't even like. We still won't get a thank you call or note. So I can spend $100 on "stuff" that will most likely be thrown away and forgotten or I can save $100 and use it for something that I know will get used: like groceries. By exempting myself from the exchange it also means we will have even less under the tree this year, because I don't want their stuff either. I tried to explain that we are DOWNSIZING. Our family of 6 will probably be in an apartment for a year and we can't bring everything we own, and I certainly have no intention of storing anything (that costs money, too!) Whatever they give us will end up donated to Goodwill. So please just save your money and let me save mine.

I have labeled myself SCROOGE, no one did that for me. In an effort to keep things simple and economical this year we:

1) removed our family from the gift exchange, noted above.

2) will not be sending out Christmas cards. Remember we couldn't' get a decent picture which turns out to be a blessing because now I won't print cards or buy stamps for them - I'll send an e-mail.

3) I am limiting holiday baking. If I receive as much as I give I will gain 10 lbs this year, or have to throw away stuff. We don't throw food away, so I will have to eat it out of principle. What comes into the house goes back out. My husband is a little upset that I "re-gifted" the baked goods given to us. But I know he cares about his weight too, and now I have one less person to bake for. That is, if I decide to bake at all.

4) I re-gift other things too. Like Monday my son's school had a Christmas party. I realized I didn't get a gift for his teacher until 10 minutes before the party. He is in the first grade so we are still new at this. Luckily, we had just received a gift card to Starbucks (we don't drink coffee, I know they have hot chocolate) so his teacher was the new recipient of a $25 gift card - nice gift, huh?

5) I have sold some of my children's other toys. Yes, I am paying for this years Christmas by selling Christmas from the past. That is also part of the down-sizing. We don't have room for all these toys. I made $75 bucks so I am happy.

6) The grandparents all buy a gift for our kids so I know that they will have at least 3 things under the tree and some cash. My DrH has extra parents from divorces and re-marriages, which works out well for us at Christmas time.

I often think that these lean years will help us appreciate having money some day in the future. It will either do that or turn us into those people who are unable to control their desires and buy everything they see just because they can. Please let me be that latter person for just one day, it doesn't even have to be on Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What We Have Is A Failure To Communicate

Is that any surprise? I discovered long ago that we do not communicate well on the phone. Why? Because one or both of us is multi-tasking and not really listening. Then why did you even call? We have had disagreements in the past over things that the other thought they heard that weren't actually spoken. I understand that DrH has a limited amount of time and that using 5 minutes to just talk on the phone without doing anything else isn't practical. For that matter I don't usually just sit and talk either. I am feeding kids, cleaning the house, etc.

With our last argument this week, after giving him the silent treatment for 24 hours, I sent him an email. That's right. He can't interrupt me mid-sentence, I won't get all emotional, I can remain strong and say what I need him to hear. This may become my preferred method of communicating with DrH. It isn't the speediest of methods, but I could hear him the next morning pounding out his response on the computer.

All is well, but there are still a few things that really annoy me that we didn't get a chance to hash out as much as I would have liked.

1) Don't tell me that you were tired and not in your right mind. I know that! But, you don't get to use that as an excuse whenever it is convenient.

2) Don't talk to me about "do you know what I do for a living". If anyone knows what you do it is me! Do you know what I do?

3) Don't go getting all high and mighty on me, you aren't the only one with a stressful job around here.

4) Just because your boss might rip into you doesn't give you the right to take it out on your wife and kids.

5) If you are sick don't go shopping. That is a no-brainer in my book.

I think what really gets me is that he knows how good he has it. He tells me about the wife of an attending who dictates when he operates. She will call the OR during surgery to yell at him for not being where she wants him. If my DrH is operating, it is what it is and I can deal with that. I would never ask him to move a patients surgery to fit my needs and wants. So if he says he knows how good he has it, he best not tick me off because I am a time bomb waiting to explode.

To his credit he did apologize and recognized the foolishness of his actions. Now I feel better.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Last night my son ran into a door that was being closed and cut his skin above the cheek bone right where the soft tissue of the under eye is. It bleed and bleed. When we were able to take a closer look at it, I thought he might need stitches, or maybe just one. We tried to clean it up and apply a butterfly bandage but had to modify it to fit the amount of skin we had. It bleed. I thought, when DrH gets home he can look at it. I sent him a text with pic. And by "we" I mean me and my MIL who was a nurse.

DrH didn't get home until 9:30 pm last night. The kid was already in bed. He went in with a flashlight to look at it. But you can't see the cut because it is under the bandage. Diagnosis: he is OK. DrH says he has some derma-bond in the closet and that he will fix it. Well he can only fix it if he is home. I probably should have woken the little guy up so he could do it just then, because now he is back at work and I had to clean the wound up again and put on another bandage.

Isn't it ironic? I am married to one of the most qualified people to deal with cuts that require a stitch, or something more, and he isn't home to do it. Sure I could have taken him in, but with DrH in the OR I would have had to pay the co-pay for the ER and it is Christmas after all. I don't have money to spend on things that could be done at home.

It doesn't look too bad, and if it scars it will be in a crease that will only get deeper as he gets older and more distinguished. He is 7 so that might take a while. And talk about double standards, if it were my daughter who had a cut on her face, I wouldn't be waiting around for the DrH to get home. But he is boy, a scar or two will be good for him.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Irate, Irrational, Irritated

I don't know if these three words (irate, irrational, irritated) all share the same root, and I'm in no mood to look it up. Today has been rough. In all honesty, most Fridays are. By the end of the week my nerves are fried, I am tired, I need a break. Today is Friday, and my moods are pretty predictable on Friday, but today my mood is begging for me to hit something.

We have out of state visitors, that we asked to come and paid for airline tickets. It was mostly selfish. I needed someone to help me fix up my house, I needed a Christmas gift for my kids and for their grandparents. Flying them out seemed to be a great gift for everyone. And it has been.

However, this is our second week of visitors and it falls upon me to do the entertaining. I am tired. But I've discovered something else. What started out as an irritation has lead to some irrational thoughts (although right now I don't see them as irrational), to full on irate.

Yesterday the DrH and I went out to dinner. It was nice. I told him that I was becoming easily irritated. He responded with "I should be home early tomorrow, the attending is having a staff Christmas party at 1:00 and he needs to be out of the OR by then. You can have the whole afternoon to yourself."

Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I didn't even bother getting dressed and ready to go. Why? Well because my DrH has a habit of over promising and under delivering. I can usually handle it and get over it quickly, but not today.

DrH indicated this morning when I talked with him that he wasn't feeling well, maybe something he ate last night. OK. DrH told his parents that we would all go out to dinner tonight. I wasn't really thrilled with that (does he remember what it's like to take 4 little kids out), but was OK. Then when he called after the time he was supposed to be home to say they hadn't even started their last case, I was OK. When he called at 4:58 to say that he was getting in the car and on his way home, but still didn't feel good, I said OK, and suggested that instead of going out he should just pick up a pizza on his way home. I preheated the oven and I was OK.

Then 90 minutes passed, and my simmering irritation became a full boil. He's not on call. Remember that we have 4 kids and we usually eat dinner at 5:30 and his commute is only 10 minutes. Stopping for pizza would add maybe another 10 minutes. The oven has been preheated at 425 for the last hour. We should have had dinner ready, eaten, and have been in our pajamas. Instead, DrH comes rolling in at 6:30 pm and when I ask him where he has been he gets all put out with me. I wanted to scream "I don't care if you aren't feeling well, you felt good enough to leave the hospital and go to the sporting goods store to exchange a pair of running shorts while your wife and children are waiting at home for the food you are bringing." But his parents are here.

And the pizza he was supposed to be picking up still needed to cook, and the one he selected happened to be a stuffed pizza that takes twice as long to cook as a regular pizza. I don't want to eat, I just want to get out.

His parents come to the kitchen for dinner and he starts looking pathetic. Sure go ahead and lay down, I'll feed your kids the food you brought home an hour after their dinner time. I'll get them ready for bed while you play sick. I am not doubting that he doesn't feel good, but if you don't feel good you don't go shopping. Especially when you previously told your wife she could have some time out today. If you are sick you come straight home. I have no sympathy for him right now. In fact as soon as I fed the kids and the baby I left. I didn't say where I was going or when I would be back. I don't want to talk to him.

Where do I go? The grocery store and I wasn't even gone long. But when I come back he is laying on the couch covered up under a blanket. He doesn't' even stir when I come in. I can tell he is pretending to be asleep. I have never had violent thoughts, but I'd really like to walk over there and slap him. That is awful!

The only words I want to hear him say are "I was wrong. I should have come home, I am sorry." Maybe I will get it. Maybe not.

I wish he would understand is that I am a reasonable person, and I put up with a lot. I give him the benefit of the doubt in every situation. I don't ask questions. But when you tell me you are in the car on your way home and you show up 90 minutes later, I have a problem with that. Especially when it is dinner time and we are waiting for you to bring us our food. I am mad and hungry, that is never a good combination.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

200 Days and the 5 Stages of Greiving

I just looked at my residency count down ticker and we only have 200 more days.... yeah!!!! Good thing I opened up my blog to look. I've had a great week visiting with my grandmother and mother. It has been so good. We are now on round two of family visitors, this week it is the in-laws:-) I am sure I'll have more to blog about soon.

My intention as I signed on to blog tonight was to follow up on my previous post, the vomit or cry post. I've come to the conclusion that I am grieving and I have nearly passed through all the phases.

First: Denial. How could this be happening to us? We do the right things, we are good people, we are financially responsible, this can't be happening!!!!

Second: Anger. This is the stage I was in when I wrote the post:-) I was mad at everyone. Why do I have to pay for other peoples mistakes? I know of people who could afford their mortgage who walked away from them just because their home had lost so much value. Is that right? I know it might not feel good, but if you can afford that house you agreed to buy, and there is no reason to move, pay what you agreed to pay and get over it. If I didn't have to move I would stay here and keep paying my mortgage. How much worse has this housing crisis been made by those people who decided that it wasn't fair that they were now the owners of an investment that lost value. Not everyone can be a winner every time.

Third: Bargaining. I think I even tried to bargain with the realtor. It went something like: I can't just walk away from the closing table with nothing. We have spent all our savings fixing this house up so we could sell it. I can't just give it away. I have to walk away with something, even if it is less that I would like, but I can't give it away. After all we have done we deserve something, anything! What do I have to do to make sure that happens?

Fourth: Depression. We aren't ever going to have any money are we? Just when things start to look good something happens to slam us back down. I am tired of fighting this uphill battle. I am tired of doing what I think is the right thing only to wind up on the losing end of every situation. I just want someone else to take care of this and I want to forget it ever happened. I don't want to own a house again for a long time, and certainly not until we know we will never move again.... because apparently that is the only way owning a house makes sense.

Fifth: Acceptance. And this is where I have found myself. You know what? It doesn't make any difference how I feel about this situation. So, I am the loser again. I am not the only one. So, I am feeling sorry for myself.... is that really new? Is it really that bad? NO.

It always helps getting some perspective from your family and from history. When I picked up my grandmother and mother from the airport I was telling them about the awful day that I had. It was the same day I met with the realtor and the contractor, bad day.

When my grandparents married 62 years ago they lived in an old railroad car. My grandpa worked for the railroad and those were the living quarters they were assigned. They lived. Not only did they live, but I doubt they really ever complained about it. She said that no matter where they were, as long as they had each other it felt like home. I am sure having recently lost her husband she would gladly live in that railroad car again if he could be with her.

My grandparents made and lost a fortune not just once, but a couple of times. In all the time I've been with my grandparents never once did they complain about what they had lost. In fact, I didn't even know they had lost so much. They didn't dwell on the past, but just moved forward. My grandparents didn't have anything to speak of when my grandpa passed away this year, and she still doesn't have much. But she is one of the happiest people I know. It is just money.

One of my favorite lines from the movie (and it's probably in the book, too) Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is when one of the grandparents says that there will always be more money but there will only be one golden ticket. I am paraphrasing, but every time I hear that it speaks truth to my soul. Money is not as important as we think it is. I give money too much power over me.

This weekend we visited some historical sites. There was a time in our country's history, not that long ago, where a group of people were persecuted beyond anything I am able to comprehend. An extermination order was issued in Missouri in 1838 authorizing the legal murder of a group of people, men, women, and children who were found in their state. They were given warning and forced to leave or face death. The federal government did nothing to prevent that order, and provided these people with no protections. They were forced to leave their homes, their property, and their possessions. Not just a few families, hundreds.

As they crossed the country one mile at a time they buried infants, children, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents along the way. Not just a few, but too many.

Being in the place where they set off across the Mississippi River made me feel rather silly and insignificant.  It's just money. It's just a house. I have a place to live. I have children that are not starving. I have good health. I live free of persecution. No one is trying to kill me. I am good.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vomit or Cry... which one first?

The posts over the next several months are probably going to be consumed by my angry rants about home ownership. If you would rather plead blissful ignorance, don't read them. If you want to know that truth about what it means to own a home, keep reading.

There is nothing glamorous about owning a home. Let me be clear on a few points:

1) you do not actually own the home - the bank does, and you pay a ridiculous amount of money for the pleasure of having them rent it back to you.
2) a home may be an investment, but not all investments are good, and all investments involve risks and "hidden" costs.
3) a home is a thousand little things that could go wrong or need replacing. They will start breaking the minute you take possession.

We have been good home "keepers". We have fixed what needed to be fixed, replaced what needed to be replaced, and in general took very good care of our home. Our realtor used the phrase "over-improved" for the area to describe our home. Seriously, this is over improved? Cracked laminate counters in the kitchen, 1970's bath vanities, linoleum flooring, indoor/outdoor stained carpet in the basement, oak trim everywhere, brass. Goodness what kind of condition are our neighbors houses in? Regardless, our home hasn't taken nearly as good care of us as we have of it. Well, yes, it has provided us with shelter and warmth for which I am grateful. But it has consumed much more than it has given.

I haven't posted much recently because we are in HGTV mode at our house. By the way, don't watch anything on HGTV... you will just spend money and it won't make a difference anyway. That's right, I said it, and I mean it.

And this is where I want to vomit, or cry, maybe both and the same time. Reality is starting to hit, we have to move in 7 months! We meet with a realtor today to discuss what we could possibly sell our house for and when to put it on the market. You can imagine how much fun that is even during a good economy, its practically a funeral during a bad one.

Almost 6 years ago we bought a modest home for $145,000. Today we owe $128,000 and have spent about $20,000 in needed repairs/updates (roof, garage door, appliances, water heater, a/c, driveway). So the realtor told me today that she wouldn't list it above $150,000 (I was hoping for more than that) and that $145,000 would even be tough for this market. Not terrible you say, the math indicates that we'd still walk away with our equity as profit on the transaction. Right? You would be wrong.

You see when you own a home there are big and little fees that come with acquiring one and selling one that eat away any profit you might see. If we were to sell it for $145,000 after all the fees and commissions have been paid we would walk away with about $2,000 maybe less. It looks like we will be giving this house away and will be lucky if we can close without having to pay someone to take it off our hands. 

All we need is enough to pay for a trip to find a place to rent, our moving expenses out of state, security deposits, first and last months rent, connection fees, etc. We have poured every bit we've been able to save into this house. I am sure the moving truck alone will be more than $2,000. Where is all this money going to come from... apparently not from the sale of our house.

See what I mean about being better off renting? If we had rented we would only be out rent. That used to be a bad thing, like throwing money away. Turns out owning is home is exactly like throwing money away. Even if that rent equaled our mortgage payment, that is all we would be out. We would not have been responsible for, or compelled to fix or replace anything! We would still have the $20,000 we spent. What could you do with an extra $20,000? How about get a babysitter occasionally, take a vacation, celebrate holidays without home-made gifts, get a decent family photo taken. I could go on. Instead we have just given whoever buys this house a very nice gift. Do you think they will appreciate our sacrifices? No. Will they care that we spent our money on their house? No. They are going to get a great deal. Me, on the other hand, will probably have ulcers and other related health issues thanks to all this stress.

I can only see three options

1) DrH moves for fellowship by himself and we stay here for another year until we have a paycheck to get us out. That would still be expensive. That's not really an option. We have four kids! I did it off and on for 6 months, but don't think I could do it again. It about killed me (mentally, that is). 

2) We could scrimp and save so that we could write a check at closing getting us out from under the house with pretty much nothing to start with.

3) We say a prayer and hope that some way, some how, some person will love our house and want to offer us more than what our realtor wants to list it at. Maybe they will feel sorry for us (not likely).

We could really use a miracle here. But this isn't where our story ends.

Last week I was tackling our bathroom in the basement. I hated it when we bought it, we don't use it much, and in an attempt to make it appeal to the masses (just like they brainwashed me into thinking on HGTV) pulled up some baseboards to replace them with some thing nicer only to discover rotting wood.  At some point, before we owned the house, they had some water damage that was significant. But we found it, and now we have to fix it. Replacing drywall, studs, etc when all I wanted to do was put in some nicer baseboards. I am not allowed to pull anything else up!

And because this house knows that we are trying to get rid of it other things have started breaking. Like the pump from the a/c to the whatever unit in the house. It started making a hideous noise last week so we unplugged it (at the direction of our local HVAC man) only to have a puddle of water and a slow dripping leak as the result. This house is either trying to make us hate it or convincing us that it will continue to break down unless we agree to stay. Either way I am out of here!

We also have overnight guests coming tonight, my mom and grandma, no stress. Now I am crying. It is nearly impossible to vomit and cry at the exact same time. I don't recommend trying, just trust me on this one.

And seriously if you think buying a home during residency is a good idea, try thinking some more until you realize it is a gamble. Do you have extra cash you are willing to risk? I don't. Whether you choose to make the bet or not is up to you. Learn from my experience. If I had to do it all again, I would choose renting.

I can already hear the arguments forming in your head because you don't believe me. Let me counter with this:

You say buying is better because of the home mortgage interest deduction on your taxes. Well and good until the politicians decide to do away with that deduction. It could happen this year, next year, two years from now. Who knows? See they get to control things that like when you don't buy something with your own money.

You say that a mortgage payment is cheaper than a rent payment. Maybe, but when is owning a home only about a mortgage payment? Something breaks, you fix it. Property taxes, another thing the local politicians control and have raised every year that we've lived here. Your mortgage payment is only one of several expenses that come with "owning" a home.

You say the interest rates are too low not to buy. Really?  The fees, commissions, and closing costs ate up all our equity built over 6 years, nearly $20,000. Most residencies aren't 6 years. If you own a house for less time, good luck.

You say the housing market is at a low and it will probably just go up. Really? Can you be sure? NO! Are you willing to bet that it doesn't go down any further, or ever again. What if it does? I think we've just seen some long-standing beliefs about owning real estate shatter over the last few years. What people thought were good investments are showing to be really poor investments. I suppose we are lucky that we'll only lost a little versus a lot. Although, today it feels like a lot.

Come on, our husbands are going to be doctors one day! One day they will and when that times comes (I mean not when they have their degree, but when they are practicing) buy a house. What is the hurry? And don't say because everyone is doing it.... would you follow them off a cliff? Yes, it is more sacrifice, but isn't that what we do? I'm getting kind of good at it now. And the cliche is true, the time really does go by fast. I wish I had the money I put into this house instead of the major headache I have now.

More crying. I am going to be dehydrated at this rate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Best Gift I Ever Gave Myself

I would love to have a make-over. The kind where a team of professionals sweep in and make you into some fierce beautiful creature. That's what I thought I wanted, but how many of those people really can  maintain that or feel comfortable over time with that particular look that someone who doesn't even know them created and told them would be best?

I met a woman at church who always looked amazing and overheard her one day talking with another woman about this program that was a DIY make-over system (of sorts). That really got my attention. The premise of the program is that you become your own expert. Who knows you better than you do. The first part is finding out who you are, the nuts and bolts. The second part is learning to dress yourself so that your outer appearance is an expression of who you are.

This really got me interested. For years I had struggled with having clothes in my closet but not feeling like I had anything to wear. I had been using the excuse that to look good I needed to have money (false), and that I also needed a big wardrobe (false). I would see something that I liked at the store, or on someone else, and be frustrated that it didn't look as good on me. I would look at my closet and see several different "styles" going on that were competing and not complementing. I would see things that I bought but never wore and feel guilty about spending that money, regardless of how small, on something that wasn't getting used.

The program is called Discovering Your Beauty Profile and Dressing Your Truth. The first part was reading the book and taking an online quiz to help me identify which of 4 personality/behavior/energy types I was. Once I understood, what I already knew in my heart, I was able to move onto to how to dress my body - the fun stuff.

It has honestly been the best investment I have ever made in myself. I have taken my existing wardrobe and narrowed it down to just the things that work for me. No more junk in the closet taking up space. When I look at my closet I can see continuity of style. I don't have nearly as much as I used to have, but I don't miss it because what I have I actually wear and want to wear!

The program does have a cost associated with it, but in my case it has already paid for itself (and it is on sale this week). All those clothes I took out of my closet that were wrong for me, went to a consignment store. I literally sold, or gave away, everything that wasn't honoring who I was. Do I miss it? Not at all. Like I said, I may have less but what I have I love. Now everything I own goes with everything else. I found this to be particularly helpful when packing for my funeral trip a few months ago. I didn't need to bring a lot for those 7 days. When everything works.... you don't need as much. It has also made shopping a breeze. I know what colors, textures, fabrication, etc work for me and can skim a rack of clothes in seconds... no more checking each item to see what I think of it.

The best part is that you don't have to have a lot of money to dress well. It works for any budget. It works for anyone. Check out some of the before and afters submitted by women like you and me who did this all on their own! It really is amazing.

In previous posts I've commented on my desire to look the part of a doctors wife. What I was really trying to accomplish was looking my part, and looking my best. You don't have to be a doctor's wife to do that. I think all women want to look good.

If you are interested in learning more I suggest you check out this link! You can also watch some of the videos on YouTube. It really is an amazing system. So far everyone I've told about it has been equally as excited. Not only has it helped me feel better about myself, it has helped me to understand the other women in my life.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why didn't we just rent!

You know how excited you get about the prospect of buying a home after months or years of renting? How you think it will be so great to be able to paint and hang pictures, finally. How everything will be sunshine and roses every day since you actually own your home (well, you don't own it the bank does). No landlord telling you what you can and can't do. You will be queen of your own castle.

Ah, why didn't we just rent! Now we HAVE to paint. We have to fill the holes from the pictures we've hung. And, there are have been more dark clouds and weeds than I care to count! Buying a home is like falling in love (with the wrong guy). You just see all the wonderful things and completely overlook the very real things that are going to haunt you until you dump the house (or the guy). I want a landlord telling me what I can and can't do. I want a landlord that I can call when something breaks. I want a landlord who will need to repaint, re-carpet, and provide all the maintenance I've been doing for the last 6 years. I don't want to own another home for a loooooong time. I don't have the energy for the endless amount of work it takes.

Example, yes please. Painting. We have painted the entire interior of the house once, when we moved in. Now we are on round two. Why? Well because after almost 6 years those walls need to be repainted! The first time around we were really in a hurry and could have done a better job. Only my eyes see it, my DrH can't tell. But most importantly you'd be amazed at how many marks show up during 6 years. Unintentional marks, and then those marks that those little kids decide to make. Like my 5 and 3 year old daughters room: might as well be graffiti. It is bad and must be repainted. And I get to do the painting myself, because I went and married a doctor.... I didn't realize at the time that I would be painting by myself, and doing all the work while also tending 4 small children. It's amazing I am still standing today.... sorry you get to hear about it, but the DrH isn't home!!!!!

The kicker is that now we have to pretty up this house as best as we can to attract a buyer! Yes, we have to find a buyer and not just any buyer, but one who will pay enough to pay off our mortgage. Still stressing about that one. Just 3 months until the For Sale sign goes up in the yard and at least 3 months worth of stuff to get done just in time for the snow to start falling.

Yeah, having a house is great - it will be even better when it is gone and I rent someone else's house, or an apartment is looking really good about now.

Advice from someone on the tail end of a residency - don't buy a house! You have no idea what you are getting yourself into.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I am thankful for good friends that still think we are worth keeping. I do have friends, I just don't do a very good job of letting them in, really in to the pits of my soul. Who should really go there anyway? I have several friends that I admire for their ability to create an event. Nothing fancy, but they know how to put a room of people together.

Wednesday night, we attended Pie Night with another family-less family. Typing that makes me realize how crazy that sounds. Most of the people that I know here are far away from their parents or siblings, yet I seem to be the one complaining about it the most. Or rather thinking that I am the only one suffering from the distance. Not the case.

Thursday afternoon for dinner we were at a friends house with three other couples and their children. All form the inter-mountain west, transplanted for one reason or another in the Midwest without close family. What these two events made me realize is that yes family is flesh and blood, but we can make family out of our friends. Honestly, I think I had a better time this Thanksgiving with my friends than I have past Thanksgivings with my family. And certainly better than the ones we celebrated alone all the while thinking the rest of the world was with their families.

I am grateful that my DrH was available for Thanksgiving! Sure he ran into the hospital to check some films for his cases, but he was there. The pager wasn't going off, it was nice.

I told my DrH that one day I hope to 1) have a house large enough to invite more than 2 people into, 2) to have friends that I want to spend Thanksgiving with where ever we are, and 3) remember to invite those who don't have family to be part of our family.

This is such a wonderful season we are entering and I hope I can remember to be thankful every day!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Say "Cheese"

Its that time of year again when I start thinking about the beautiful holiday cards I want to send. They are amazing. I imagine my family all dressed up in their holiday best with their pretty faces washed and ready for their close-ups. I have the cutest family, I do. Every hair in place. Lighting perfect. And then I wake up. We have yet to have great family pictures taken, ever, and this year I had all but given up on the idea. First of all, we have yet to have a great picture taken! Second, I am beyond cheap and may not even send out cards. Don't need a picture if you aren't going to send cards.

Monday when I checked my inbox there was an offer from Sears that was too good to pass up. Free sitting fee, 5 free prints, and 1 photo on a CD with copy right release. FREE! I bet you already know where this is going. How is the Sears portrait studio still in business, I do not know! But, since I am so cheap, and since it's free, we might as well give it a try. I called and made an appointment sealing my fate. You get what you pay for - lesson learned, again.

It really isn't their fault, sort of. When you have 6 people in a photo sitting it's difficult to get them all looking and smiling in the same direction. But then there are the little things like hair getting ruffled while changing positions that needed to be smoothed. Or a nose started running and they needed a Kleenex. Or someone was kneeling when it would have looked better if they had been sitting on their knees. I appreciate the 20 year-old who was behind the camera, I know her job isn't easy but she could have helped us out a little. Give us some direction, or at least a suggestion. Don't just let us think these are going to be great!

One hour later we had ZERO pictures that we liked enough to put on a card. We have 1 photo of our family that is alright, but I look fat, so that's not going to be seen by anyone. And we have 1 photo of just our kids that is OK and maybe will be sent to the parents. They will love us anyway. But it's free, I really shouldn't complain. Free except the threats I had to make to the DrH about being available that day, the 2 hours that it took to get ready, the 1.5 hours in the studio (waiting, waiting) and the ice cream we had to buy for cooperating ... that wasn't free.

I am not kidding when I say we have yet to have a great family picture. I know we are capable of them, but I also have discovered that great family pictures come with a price. We aren't ready to pay that price yet. We need a stylist to coordinate our outfits. We need hair and makeup people. We need Photo Shop. We need an assistant to stand by fixing all our wardrobe malfunctions. Then, and only then, we might stand a chance. Maybe my list of needs is an exaggeration, but it feels that way. We aren't ugly people, but you probably won't see us on a magazine cover. One day I hope to have a decent picture of my family taken that I will proudly display for the world to see. Until then, I fear our Christmas cards may be just cards after all. Better yet, they may just be a quick email or blog entry wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Imagine my awful family picture here. Happy Holidays.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time to Clip Again

Last year I was a crazy coupon clipper, and then I was really pregnant and couldn't muster the energy to chase that dollar all over town, so I took a break. A break turned into months, and here we are 9 months later, piles of coupons, no coupons clipped, and I'm wondering why my grocery dollars aren't buying as much as they used to. So it's time to start clipping again, but I'm not looking forward to it.

1) now I have three kids to drag all over town.
2) it's getting down right frigid and I don't want to get out of the car unless it is absolutely necessary.
3) I'm trying to eat everything in the house, not store it for later.

When I did coupon it involved buying lots of stuff that I wouldn't be using today, but would next week or next month. Like 20 boxes of cereal. A person has to have a place to store all that stuff. Currently we are in the process of eating the stuff so we don't have to move it, and more importantly so when we do put our house on the market we don't look like a bunch of pack rats.

But looking at my grocery bill over the last few months it is clear that I need to be more vigilant with sale shopping, coupon clipping, or both. I am not looking forward to it, but it must be done. My DrH says he admires my motives, but he thinks it is ridiculous visiting 5 grocery stores a week. And he's right, but it gets the job done and my budget is happy.

I don't ask for much, but one day I really hope that if I clip coupons it will be because it is so much fun, and not because I need to. Being frugal is a virtue, but it is hard to sustain that level of frugality over time. Or at least it is for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Experience vs. Endurance

This morning during yoga the instructor was challenging us to "experience" the poses and embrace all the sensations that come from holding the pose. To not let our focus be merely on enduring or thinking about how good it will feel when it is over. Since I was in such a relaxed state, my mind started wandering and I began to think about those two terms as they apply to medical school/residency/fellowship. (I am not supposed to wander, I should be paying attention to my breath)! Experience vs. endurance. Most of the time I have been so focused on endurance that I have missed part of the experience.

The instructor reminded us that experience isn't always pleasant, but it teaches us something. I would have to agree.... but should I?

As I look back over the last few years of medical school, and the last several years of residency I see where I wasn't fully embracing the experiences. In fact, right now as I am writing this post most of what I recall is the endurance. Perhaps when I have endured, and this ride is over, I will be able to see more clearly the experience and then will be ready to embrace it. That is just like me, doing things backwards again.

With the last several hundred days of residency/fellowship what are some ways that I can embrace the experience? I've decided that yoga is part exercise/relaxation and part philosophy..... I don't know what she is talking about, but I am trying.

Well maybe I do know what she is talking about. I figured it out as I am sitting at the computer watching my two girls watching TV for the 3rd hour in a row. If I were going to "experience" this I would be over there with them and the TV would be off. If I were going to "endure" this, I would let them watch TV all day and throw some potato chips or dry cereal their way when it was time to eat. Maybe a few water bottles, too.

Time to start experiencing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Have You Thought About Your Fertility Lately?

The question of when is the right time to start a family is one that comes up often during a medical residency. Some residencies are longer than other, some are shorter. Some people want large families, others small. Some are older than others.

This article was posted on a friends facebook page and I read it enthusiastically... who doesn't love to read about fertility:-)

We had no problems conceiving with our first three children. I mean, the moment we decided to get pregnant was basically when we got pregnant. I was almost 30 with our first one. When we tried this time at 35, for number 4, we assumed it would work exactly as it had in the past. Decide you want to be pregnant and boom, pregnant. It didn't work that way. It took 4-5 months and I was beginning to worry that there was something magical about the age 35 that made getting pregnant more difficult than at 34.

Turns out there is something black magic like about that age, and 40. So when is the best time to start your family? The article suggests if you are between the ages of 26-34 start having babies now!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Panic Is Setting In

I am officially in panic mode. I don't know how my DrH can be so calm at a time like this. He is the one with all the faith and patience and I am the logical, I don't see how this is going to work, one. We have 230 days until he starts fellowship, and about 100 days until we need to put our house on the market. That means 100 days to finish all the projects that have been waiting for us to have the time/money to do. News flash: we won't have enough money to finish everything and when we do spend that money we will probably never see it again.

But what really has me in a panic is our neighbors house that had a for sale sign put up this week. Normally, not a big deal. Houses in this neighborhood have been selling, although not for as much as I would like. But this house was foreclosed on several months ago and I looked up the list price and, while ours isn't the same house, they are asking $20K less than we paid for ours 5 1/2 years ago. I've already done the math. I know at exactly what point we break even with the cash we've put into the house and I know the exact price that we can take and walk away with nothing. The price the house next door is selling for is $10,000 less than our walk away price.

I keep telling myself our house is much better. It has been taken care of, fixed up, updated, and loved. Their house has been neglected, empty, is dated and needs a face-lift inside and out. Our home has one more bedroom and one more bathroom. That's a bid deal, right? I remind myself that we bought this house (big mistake) and all we need is 1 person who loves it (and is willing to make a big mistake).

Oh, and to add pressure to an already stressful situation. We are putting the house up for sale March 1st (nobody really goes looking for a house in the snow) and need to sell it and close so we can be out 4 months later. Not too soon, not too late... just right. The timing has to be just right.

And then this is where my mind immediately goes: we shouldn't be having this stress right now! See the plan was that my husband would finish his 6 years residency and start a JOB, not a fellowship. Our decision to buy a house was made on that model. His particular speciality usually secures a job in the later part of PGY5 or early PGY6 (that would be us - we should already have a job). Those jobs usually have hefty signing bonuses of $50K or more. Selling our house and breaking even, or perhaps taking a small loss, was something we were prepared to do under that scenario. See, we are going to be rich doctors (how silly)! When DrH decided to change the game and add a fellowship the pressure was on. Now we have to sell the house and make a little profit, and make that happen with less money than we thought we would have at this point.

I refer to this house as our big mistake, and it is, but this will always be our home. This is the first purchase we ever made together that actually cost more than a couple hundred dollars. This is the home that we brought 3 of our 4 children home to. This is the home we have been able to experiment with and try out our DIY skills. In some ways I will miss it. Considering the investment we've made in blood, sweat, tears, and lots of cash - we won't be forgetting this place any time soon. We have a relationship. It is complicated.

Buying a house is an individual decision, and not everyone has the same variables, but I would still try to talk you out of it. Maybe it's a good move for you. If I were really ambitious I would figure out what the exact impact has been including the tax deductions, etc, but can't bring myself to work on that equation. Maybe I will work on that once we sell the house and I have a clearer head. I wish we were renting and could just call the landlord and let them know when we would be moving. No stress, no throwing money away trying to fix up a house to sell fast knowing that we may never see that money again. I don't like wasting money. I don't like being stressed.

My DrH tells me to not worry about it. It will all work out. Really? Please tell me how you know.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We Don't Do This Alone

When I take time to sit and think about all of the reasons I have to be thankful, it is overwhelming. In this case, overwhelming is a good thing. How often can you really say good and overwhelming in the same sentence?

I am thankful to have good people in my life. Some of those people happen to go to church with me. Today I was sitting by myself with my four children. This is not an unusual occurrence, it is the rule and has been every Sunday for the last 18 months. Technically, I wasn't by myself because I strategically choose to sit by an amazing woman. She is the kind of woman I would like to be when I grow up.

When we moved here for residency her husband had recently passed away. Her daughter was in an Air Force residency for family medicine. Another son was serving in the military and had two or three grandchildren that lived far away. We immediately claimed her as our own. Having an insiders view of a medical residency gave her some perspective into our situation and she has, and continues to take great care of us.

She sits in the same spot each Sunday, and if we are lucky enough to get there before anyone else steals the coveted seats next to her, we get to be the recipients of her kindness and devotion. She brings colored pens/pencils, sketch books, and story books to entertain my children with. This Sunday she brought my husband, who is also in the military (reserves) a "treat" for Veterans day. It was American Blessing Mix.

Pretzels: Arms folded in prayer, a freedom sought by those who founded our country.
Corn Cereal Squares: The patchwork harvest landscape of our bountiful land.
Oat Cereal: The cycle of life and renewal of the American spirit with each generation.
Peanuts: Promise of a future harvest, one our children will reap if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.
M&M's: Memories of those who came before us which guide us to a blessed future.
White Chocolate: The pure sweetness of love that can bind us together.

There are so many things that I admire about this woman. I think of things, but fail to execute so often. She seems to be actively thinking about the ways that she can bless the lives of others. It isn't just us that she takes care of, she does this for countless others. She could choose to be sad, depressed, resentful, and lonely. But she isn't. She could choose to sit somewhere else, but doesn't. She has made herself available to us on numerous occasions. She has had us over to dinner. She has come over to watch my children so my DrH and I could go out to dinner. She has watched my children so I could go to the grocery store. She watched my kids at a spray park this summer so I could go get my teeth cleaned. She has met us at a park to play with the kids. She even brings her homemade gigantic bubble wand! She has accompanied me on a long run (10 miles!) when I was training for a 1/2 marathon and didn't think I would be able to run that far alone. She is always bringing something for the kids, or something for us. We love this woman and I wish I could convince her to move with us.

I am excited for the next phase of our life, but I am going to miss all the people who have been true angels to us while we have been here. We are especially going to miss her.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's not going to turn out the way you thought

I saw a link to this post on a friends blog and it sums up so many of my feelings about this journey I am on. It's poetic and encouraging. Enjoy.

It's Not Going To Turn Out The Way You Thought

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Date With Chuck

I always look forward to my date night with Chuck. Our relationship is a little unconventional and we don't always get together the same time each week, but we do make an effort. We met three years ago when he was relatively new and I've been seeing him once a week ever since. We have the regular breaks that most "couples" have mostly during the summer months and around the holidays. Those months seem to take forever.  He has recently been gone for most of the summer and early fall and just came back a few weeks ago. I am so happy he is back. But, I just found out that this will be our last year together. He is moving. Bummer.

If you haven't figured it out, Chuck isn't the name of my husband. That's right! But my husband likes him, too:-) Before you get any crazy ideas Chuck is the name of a TV series on NBC. The DrH and I don't have much time to watch TV together, and we have developed little patience (or time) for commercials. So we DVR Chuck, which now airs on Friday, and watch it sometime during the week when we can. Last night happened to be the night. Tuesday night after the kids went to bed we watched Chuck, commercial free, in 40 minutes. We even ate a little chocolate to sweeten the night up. This is what most of our date nights look like, hanging out of the couch in front of the TV. That might explain why our couch is sagging.

Chuck may be the only show that we both agree on and we always, without exception, watch it together. It is also the only show that he will close his medical books for and actually watch. Sure, I watch other things, but this is "our" show and I'm going to be sad when this season is over. Will we find another show to watch together? I don't know. It's hard to find programming that appeals to the both of us. We like Chuck because it has just the right amount of romance, comedy, drama, and action - but not too much of any one in particular. I don't have to worry about swearing, or bloody gore, or overt sexual innuendo. Its light fun that doesn't require one to think too much about what's happening... just watch and enjoy.

I've often thought I should move the expense for our basic satellite package of $36.99 from our utility category to our "leisure" category. Leisure makes it sound more luxurious. Most of the things that end up with that designation are trips to the Redbox, ice cream, and the rare babysitter fee. Adding our TV to that category might actually make it look like we are living a life of leisure:-) We know the truth though.

I am still holding out hope that we'll get a date one of these days that will be couch free.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Empty Vases

The DrH is on a first name basis with our local florist, and in the last 30 days I've received flowers not once, but twice. When he goes out of town, when I go out of town, when I have a baby, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's day, when he has had a particularly bad schedule and hasn't been home much, or just because, all seem to require flowers. A woman should be thrilled about this, but I must be the only wife in the entire world who cringes when she sees the florist delivery truck pull up to her house.

Saturday I was sitting at the computer watching my kids play in the front yard and saw the van drive by. I immediately got up out of the chair and walked outside. I thought I would save the man a few steps and at the same time let him know I don't let my kids play unsupervised. Isn't that presumptuous of me? There are 16 other homes in our cul-de-sac that could be receiving flowers. But in the 5 years that we've lived here I've never seen that van stop anywhere else. They are for me... always.

Instead of feeling elated, spoiled, and loved, the first thing that crosses my mind, every time, is "there went another $50". And I had just told him that he couldn't spend any money, our checking account was/is getting low and payday was another 6 days away.

A few years ago I was inputting our most recent expenses into our budget and ran across a charge for "Caseys" and assumed it was for gasoline because the amount was very similar to what I am used to inputting for an entire tank of gas and we sometimes buy gas from a station named "Casey's". But as I looked at our fuel expenses I saw that we just filled up the cars so it couldn't be for gas. I found out about the flowers before they were even delivered! "Casey's" is also the name of the florist that my husband is a proud patron of.

I have learned, over time, to bite my tongue when it comes to my feelings about flowers.  I sufficiently hurt his feelings early on in our married life when I told him we didn't have the money to be buying flowers and explained how even though it is nice, I have to find a way to cut that money out of the rest of our budget. For a while after that I didn't get flowers, and then they started showing up again. He can't help himself. And I love that about him, even if it does cut into my savings plan.

In my opinion flowers are a luxury, especially the kind that come in vases from the floral shop. If you must buy flowers I am happy if they come from the grocery store in cellophane. They will die just as quickly, but will cost much less. When you are the one making the budget every month and someone decides to spend $50 on a luxury that will die, you might understand while I would get my feathers ruffled. And if I was given the choice between flowers, that will die, and a night out, or a new pair of shoes, or not spending the money at all, I would choose anything but the flowers. They die and go in the trash and I am left with empty vases.

As we are in the process of preparing to sell our house we are doing a lot of cleaning. The other day I packed up a large box full of empty vases. There must have been a dozen or more. I couldn't help but smile at the thought of all those flowers, and had to restrain myself from adding up how much money he spent on them. One of the things I hope I can learn is to be grateful and accepting of gifts and to see the intention with which they were given, not the impact to our bottom line. This man wants to buy me flowers and nice gifts. For that I should be grateful. I'll be even more grateful when we have the money to spend.

When DrH came home Sunday night he asked me if I'd already found a camera and then told me about something he had "won" at the conference. The first day of the conference they passed out BINGO cards that you had to take around to the vendors/reps and have them sign and then turn in at the end of the conference to be put into a raffle for an unknown prize. My first thought was, he won a camera! Then I realized this was a medical conference so it was probably a leather portfolio with an engraved name of a device company, or a year-supply of pens. Something cool like that. He said that as he went around asking reps to sign his card they all commented that his was the first one that they'd seen. He realized that no one else was having their cards signed and didn't tell anyone. Now my DrH is thinking like me! The day before the conference ended he talked to the lady doing the raffle and she said, "you must be the only person doing this". Sure enough the conference ended, and instead of having a raffle, the nice lady just walked up to him and said "Congratulations, you won". He won a $100 visa gift card! Yeah.

I suppose he figured out a way to pay for the flowers without hitting the budget after all. The best part, he said I could have it to put towards my camera. How amazing is he? I didn't have the heart to tell him that his $100 gift was actually $50 because he had already spent half of it on flowers... that will die. How awful am I?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Was I Dreaming?

I've been counting down the days until DrH returns and I think he came home last night. I think it was around 9:00 pm and I remember (or do I?) talking with him for a few hours before going to bed. But then I woke up this morning and he was gone. Was I dreaming?

I was feeling sorry for myself, yet again, when I was reminded that I am not the only one that misses him. This morning my son asked where dad was. I told the kids he was coming home on Sunday night. True, but what I failed to take into account was that dad would be getting home after they went to bed, and would be right back to work at 6:00 am and would be on call that day/night, and they might see him Tuesday... maybe? I didn't lie to my kids, but I almost wish I would have just told them he would be home on Tuesday. It probably doesn't even matter, they are used to this lifestyle and haven't known anything different. They don't complain. But I still feel awful that they have to miss him a couple days more.

I will say that things seem to be on an upswing in our family, which makes me nervous that something bad is getting ready to happen. You know that feeling when things just start getting too good that it can't last long? I have that feeling. Or maybe that is just me sabotaging myself. It wouldn't be the first time.

We had a great talk last night. I got to hear all the latest gossip from home. It's like watching our very own mini soap-opera played by a cast of characters we personally know. There are so many people, a few in our own families, whose marriages are on the rocks or are crumbling. My heart breaks for them, and I am quick to see where they can improve... I can't help myself. It is so much easier to see what things could be better when you are the outsider looking in, not so easy to critique your own relationship.

How have we escaped? In analyzing our relationship there are many things that we could do differently or better, and we try.  In the end, the one thing we truly succeed at is commitment and perseverance. We love each other, we are committed to our family, and choose to do what has to be done to make it work.  Sounds simplistic, but it's the "what has to be done" that is tricky, and hard to put a finger on, it's a moving target. That doesn't mean we always get it right, but we don't let it stay wrong for too long.

I've often thought the reason our relationship works is because we are both so busy there isn't a lot of time to spend in fault finding. We don't argue about who is carrying the largest burden, or who has the short end of the stick in every situation. I know that he is working hard. He acknowledges that the work I do at home is equally as important and difficult. I try not to fault him for things that are out of his control, and he doesn't criticize me for the way I keep the house, or manage our finances, or spend my time. Trust me, there are plenty of things we could choose to nit-pick each other about. Just writing this brings several to my mind:-) If he were home more often, who knows what might happen!

We aren't perfect by any means, but we are trying. We have survived the last 8 years, and by all accounts will make it out of residency with our relationship in tact. It will be over before we know it (or so I tell myself)!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Sweetest Things

Today I am grateful for my DrH and all the little things that he does for us. I thought they were little things, until all those little things were mine to do alone.

My husband is the first person to tackle the dishes. I make the mess, he cleans it up. Dinner could have been over hours ago, but the dirty dishes usually stay until .... well, truthfully, they stay there until he does them. It doesn't matter what time he gets home, he heads for the kitchen and starts the dishes. I don't intend to leave them for him, I just get busy trying to get the kids ready for bed and forget about them. And I've grown accustomed to our arrangement. I don't mind unloading the dishwasher and loading it, but washing dishes by hand doesn't appeal to me at all. If there are dishes left to do after the dishwasher has been loaded I leave them until the next load. DrH, on the other hand, will just wash by hand any dishes that won't fit and be done with it. Dishes done! It really is like magic. I make dinner and then put the dishes by the sink and when I come back they are done. Presto! Now that he has been gone for 5 days I am doing all the loading, unloading, clearing, soaking... but I still will not wash by hand. I don't like the feel.

And then there is laundry. I sort, wash, dry and bring upstairs. I didn't realize we did this, but we have a little system going:-) At the end of the night when he is finally home (and the dishes done), and the kids are in bed, we sit up and fold laundry together. With a family of 6 this happens quite often. I am going to sound really lazy here. Most of the time I sit on the couch watching TV and he folds the laundry. When I talked with him last night I told him I was watching a movie and folding laundry. His answer to me was "just leave them, I'll take care of them tomorrow". I couldn't do that to him! It was a tempting offer, but I couldn't live with 5 loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded and put away.

Garbage and recycling. This must be some unspoken ritual we have. I put the trash and recycling in the containers and he takes them out when they are full. I rarely have to take the trash out and I despise the job of taking down the recycling. Our city asks us to sort everything so once the recycling makes it out of the kitchen it has to be sorted. My husband would much rather just throw everything into the trash and be done with it, but it makes me feel good to recycle and so he sorts it. This man must really love me.

Emergency trips to the grocery store. When I need something he is the first person to either volunteer to go out and get it, or, if he isn't home (which is usually the case) he calls to see if there is something I need and offers to stop and get it. I love that about him.

When he is gone for a day or two these little things aren't noticed nearly as much. But in 5 days there is a lot of dishes, laundry, garbage, and grocery shopping to be done. He may not be home much but, when he is, he is a big help. I can't wait for him to get home tonight. Maybe I'll surprise him and have the dishes done.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

You Made My Day!

We're day 4 into DrH being out of town and only 1 more to go, I can do this!

I didn't make it grocery shopping yesterday. After breakfast this morning I think it is safe to say that we don't have anything left in the house to eat (except some left-over mac n' cheese from Wednesday - yuck!) that wouldn't require the skills of a Chopped champion to concoct. (Have you seen that show? It's one of my guilty pleasures).

We must go grocery shopping today. So while I am sitting here starving, my DrH called and told me about what he had for dinner last night and where they are going for dinner tonight. I am salivating at the thought of food I don't have to make. Food that doesn't have to appeal to the preschooler taste-buds. Maybe we'll break down and get something off the dollar menu at McDonald's for dinner. The big spender that I am. No, we probably won't do that either.

The conference is going well and he is meeting some of his colleagues that he will work with next year, and catching up with acquaintances from days gone by. I know it is technically work, but it still sounds like such fun. Can you believe he had the nerve to run into a friend of mine? (Not at the conference of course, my friends don't hang out there). And how perfect is it that the conference happens to be in our hometown? Yep, he gets to visit with family, too. I am happy for him. Can't you tell.

And here is the best part: Just when I needed it someone totally made my day! Thank You! *hugs*

Friday, November 4, 2011

Frumpy Friday

I can't believe I went out of the house looking like this today!  I have a "uniform" that works for most things, but it didn't work today. My uniform is black yoga pants, workout shirt, and tennis shoes. It is all very stylish for the gym, or so I tell myself. I got up this morning and put on the uniform because I expected to go to the gym today.... for yoga.

But, this is the way things have been going lately: the little girls slept in, the baby girl was getting ready for a nap and yoga class started before I could even leave the house. I should have just gone to the gym anyway... I mean I was dressed for it. But my gym pal said, "hey, why don't we go to the children's museum today?" and I was like "sure, but I'm not changing my clothes". Why? Because that would take precious time. In this uniform people assume I am either on my way to the gym or just leaving the gym and don't expect too much of my appearance. I like to workout, I just don't get around to it as often as it looks. I did put some make-up on because I can't seem to live without it and I needed to go to the grocery store, too.

We get to the museum and guess what? My gym pal was supposed to be in her uniform too! She wasn't. And then we ran into two other pals, also not in their uniforms. I am feeling frumpy... not a good feeling.

My husband is out of town at a conference, eating delicious food, driving a luxury rental car, wandering around a spectacular hotel, wearing nice clothes, talking with adults, and basking in the sunshine. Me? I did take a shower last night, I've been living on mac n' cheese and cereal (didn't make it to the grocery store today), and there are chocolate candy wrappers all over the place! I need an intervention.

Where are the What Not To Wear people telling me to get out of my uniform and start getting dressed in the morning. Why aren't they humiliating me on TV. And where is my Visa card for $5,000? I need it badly! But, I refuse to buy any more clothing until the baby weight comes off. What if what's hanging around never leaves? How long will I be wearing this uniform?

I seriously want to go shopping and blow what is left of my checking account and max out any credit card the store will give me. We are already almost $300K in debt, what is a few more thousand? I know it will only feel good for a minute, but I would take a minute today. Lucky for me my husband is out of town and I would never take 4 kids shopping. Financial crisis averted.

My house is a mess and the baby is crying:-( I hope my husband is having a good time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coming Clean

This past weekend I attended an adult only meeting that our church holds twice a year. I had the baby with me, so technically it wasn't just adults. It is hard to listen when you have an adorable baby with you. But, even with that distraction, I heard what I needed to hear.

The speaker was talking about infidelity. His main point was that infidelity isn't just physical, it also takes place when you share things with other people instead of our spouse. That person could be your girlfriends, family members, anybody. If you are keeping things from your spouse that is a form of infidelity (albeit a much lesser form, and much easier to rectify). Or at least that is what I heard.

This blog has been a wonderful haven for me, and I have enjoyed knowing that I was the only person in the entire universe who knew that it was mine. I could write and say exactly what I was feeling... so liberating. But it was something that I was hiding from my husband. Prior to this meeting, I'd had subtle promptings that I should just tell him about it, but hadn't. I didn't really know how to bring up something I'd been keeping a secret. That was probably the guilt talking.

You can imagine my husbands surprise when on our way home (the drive was 45 minutes) I said, "there is something I need to talk to you about". He was genuinely intrigued, as I would be had I just attended a meeting where they were talking about infidelity. Out it came. It was the readers digest version. The why I started one and why I didn't tell him. I usually tell him about what I write about anyway, just in fewer words and after this blog has served as a buffer and I've had time to cool off. He gets it, and was relived I was only talking about a blog.

Now he knows. He is a smart man and didn't ask the name of the blog or if he could read it. I appreciate that about him. He is a good man. I am sure he is mildly curious and at some point I may ask him if he wants to read it. Until then, I have the best of both worlds: no secrets from my husband and a place I can still spill my guts. No more sneaking around feeling:-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You Are Leaving ME?

Now I know why I have been so moody this week! My husband left this morning for a conference. My subconscious knew about it days before I actually realized he was going to leave and be gone for 5 days. I do much better when I am the one leaving, instead of the one being left.

Every time he says, "won't it be great when we can all go together". Meaning, won't it be great when we have enough cash to blow on airline tickets for 6 for a quick trip. Yeah, that will be great, but I have a feeling it might not even happen then. I mean our kids will have to go to school, we can't always be tagging along at conferences. And then he wouldn't be able to rent a convertible to drive around town in, he'd have to rent a mini-van. That somehow takes the fun out of a trip doesn't it?

I couldn't figure out these sudden symptoms: poor sleep and nutrition, headache, agitation for no apparent reason (well there was a reason, I just didn't remember it), and in general just a terrible last couple of days. It makes sense now. I hate it when he leaves. The last time was almost 6 months ago and I've gotten used to having him around. You know, around as much as a resident can be around.

Last night we said goodbye and he left this morning before we woke up. I don't handle him being gone very well. I can feel the stress all over my body. Thus my trip to the gym for some much needed YOGA! Oh, how I needed that. My muscles were tight and needed a good stretch. My mind was racing and I needed dim light and soft music. I needed Yoga. I love Yoga.

As much practice as I've had doing this alone I should be better equipped to do this. But this is the first time I've been left alone with 4 kids... could that be the difference? Whatever is going on I am sure I'll get over it. I do the same kind of thing around holidays. I get all.... "weird", it doesn't feel good. I wonder if there is an official diagnosis for a 30-something year old female who gets moody the few days before her husband leaves for trips and for the week preceding Christmas, Valentines Day, Anniversary and Birthday? I would say the symptoms are similar to PMS.... but since I am not menstruating (thank you breast-feeding), it can't really be PMS. What to call it????

The symptoms typically subside within a few days when I realize I am not going to die, but they are sure a pain to live with. My husband and kids would probably agree.

5 days. I can do this! I hope when he comes home the three bags of chocolate candy left-over from Halloween haven't been devoured and that I have changed out of these yoga pants.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Medicine In The News

This morning I read a few posts and comments about the Physician reimbursement cuts proposed by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MPAC) and the Presidents Student Loan program. What a great way to start your day: depressed. Does the world seem to be backwards to anyone else? I don't understand why we take issues and make them more complicated instead of finding a simple solution.

As a medical family that is on the horizon of starting a full fledged career in a specialty the thought of having reimbursements cut while trying to establish a practice and pay back hefty student loans is overwhelming. Medicare reimbursements set the pace for all other insurance company negotiations with physicians and hospitals. What they do, the rest of the industry usually follows.

Instead of worrying about student loan repayment why aren't we talking about why student loans have risen so high in the first place? The tuition at my husbands medical school was $32,000 in 2004. This year (2011) it is $50,000. Debt will be increasing at the same time anticipated salaries will be decreasing. It doesn't make sense to me. My DrH and I talked about this last night. The reason schools continue to increase their tuition is because people will pay it!  The reason they are willing to pay is because they aren't actually paying  - they are taking out loans that they will pay in the future. As long as they can get access to loans in greater numbers what is to stop a school from raising tuition. At what point will people stop paying? If doctors can't make a commiserate salary with their investment, maybe they will choose not to be doctors. Does anyone pay for their education at the time it is received any more?

I know that the vast majority of Americans are completely unaware of what a doctors lifestyle is like. How can we change that? Maybe my little blog will help, but probably not. Where are the doctors and their families? Who is perpetuating this idea that a doctor is some rich, selfish, high and mighty snob that is out to rip them off? The bill they collect for services provided pays for more than just their salary. Doctors are also employers. They have to pay the person who answers the phones, the medical billing coder, the office manager, the book keeper, the medical tech, the nurse, benefits for the employees, rent for the building and utilities, investment in equipment and tools, and medical liability insurance.

Of course we would be perusing a specialty with one of the highest rate. Obstetrics and Neurosurgery are at the top of the list. At the end of the day, the doctor isn't making nearly as much as people think they are. True they are making more than the average person, but I would argue that their investment isn't average, and their exposure to risk is anything but average.

The average person only sees the income and refuses to acknowledge the sacrifices that were made and are continually made. How much should a doctor be compensated for 4 years of undergraduate studies, 4 years of medical school, 7 years of 80 hr/week training, and $300,000 of education debt, so that when a patient (who may sue them) comes in at midnight, on Christmas Eve, with a brain tumor that threatens their life they can be seen by a skilled professional? I suppose the answer to that question depends on whether or not you are the person with the tumor.

On a brighter note, it is Friday. Our student loans are paid for the month, and this weekend the DrH might be home long enough to do something fun, or something really boring, but we'll be together!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If DrH Would Have Been There....

This is a phrase I find myself repeating often: "If you would have been here (fill in the blank) wouldn't have happened."

It is October. Time for pumpkins, scarecrows, corn mazes, candy, and costumes. I am feeling the need to do whatever we can that is "local" while we still live here. We already missed the haunted trail because when DrH came home he was too tired to do anything, and I didn't want to take them by myself. My son is old enough that he knows what is happening and wants to do it all. Monday the DrH thought he would be finished early and we could go as a family to the local pumpkin patch. This place isn't so much about the pumpkins as it is about selling you admission to their pumpkin fun and sell you over-priced pumpkin inspired foods. That's OK... you see this will be our last visit, for more than one reason.

Monday came and DrH isn't going to make it. It is now my responsibility to 1) break their kids hearts and say we aren't going, or 2) Dad can't come, but let's go anyway. I choose option 2. Especially after the previous week when we were going to do the trail and didn't. I couldn't disappoint them again, even if that meant I would be taking them alone.

I hate always being the pessimist in situations like these. We get to the pumpkin patch and find a place to park. It is packed because it is a gorgeous day, no jackets needed, and everyone had the same idea. Within the first few steps it is obvious that this is going to be slow going. You see I have my four kids. I am not about to wear my 16 lb. baby all over so I bring the stroller. But the path is covered in gravel. Have you ever tried to push a stroller through gravel? It is nearly impossible. We finally make it, and decide to start with a snack.

Being the great mom that I am, we went directly to the pumpkin patch after my son came home from school so we could stay until it closed (because we are going to pay admission - we are going to use it). That meant we didn't get an afternoon snack. Inside we spend $10 on 5 pumpkin donuts (I was going to bring one home for DrH), 1 small apple cider, and 1 small popcorn. See what I mean about over-priced! Then we make our way outside where we fork over $14 dollars to meander around their pumpkin fun.

I wish it were meandering, it was more like plowing. I don't think the wheels on the stroller were even able to spin. We weren't going anywhere fast. At this point it is about 4:15 and the patch closes at 6:00. The plan was on our way out to make another stop at the food court and see what else we needed, because the food is really the only reason I am interested in the pumpkin patch at all. I'm not about to buy a pumpkin there!

The kids are having a great time. They had a huge trampoline like thing, a mountain slide, hay castle, little cute play houses, etc. Perfect activities for my  6, 5, and 3 year-old. I met some nice moms in the process and talked to one of them while our kids ran around. After we were done talking I took some pictures, and then realize I haven't seen my 3 year-old in a while. She usually plays with her 5 year-old sister. I ask where she is, nobody knows. I am stuck. Do I leave my 3 other children including a baby so I can find one of them? What do I do? I tell my 6 year old to sit "right there" and not to leave. Don't let your sister leave, and stay with this stroller.

Now I am starting to panic. We are at the far end of the play area, and adjacent to where we are is a corn maze. I have paralyzing thoughts of my 3 year-old lost in the corn maze. I am calling her name, looking everywhere when a nice woman says are you looking for a little girl? Yes! They have her in the gift shop, they have been announcing her name over the loud-speaker. Well, that speaker isn't very loud because I didn't hear it!

Luckily, the other three were still in my line of sight and didn't have to wait long. I gather them up and we make the slow track THROUGH THE GRAVEL to the gift shop. And here is where things really turn south. As I approach the gift shop the door opens and a woman looks at me, my lost daughter runs out, and the woman says "didn't you miss her"? Are you kidding me! I looked directly at her and said, yes, I did. She was supposed to be playing with her sister and I thought she was in the little play houses. And I no one can hear the loud speaker over there! I still don't know how long she was gone. It may have been as long as 30 minutes. I felt terrible.

And that's when I thought to myself: If you would have been here, this never would have happened! What was I thinking taking 4 small children to a crazy place like this! I can't keep track of them, especially when that stupid gravel made it all but impossible to stay near them, or keep up with them. Thankfully, she was found. Thankfully, she wasn't in the corn fields.

That sad part is, in the end I wasn't worried so much about losing her as I was about having people think I was a bad mother. I was embarrassed and we marched right out, and can't go back again.

Then I found myself being mad at DrH. He wasn't even there... and that's why I was mad. If he had been there we would have had two sets of eyes watching our kids. Between the two of us, we would have had them all covered and accounted for. If he had been there, I wouldn't have been distracted talking. If he had been there we could have moved more easily (that darn stroller). If he had been there people wouldn't have been looking at me like maybe I shouldn't have all these kids. Four looks like a lot when you lose one of them. If only he would have been there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Future in Medicine

Since we've been married my DrH has always been "studying" medicine. By virtue of that fact, I too have been studying medicine. I vividly recall driving to my parents home, about 3 hours from where we were living, with a huge stack of flashy flash cards. He was studying for Step 2 or 3 I don't remember. The front of the card would have a question like: Which of the following is NOT a common side effect of x... and there would be 4 or 5 choices. I would read these cards to him while he was driving and then give him the answers on the back. After doing this for a few years I started to feel fairly confident in my ability to diagnose (based on the flash cards, of course).

Even now, I will hear something and think "why or how do I know that? Oh, yeah - there was a flash card!"

In residency I don't help with flash card study so much. What I get now are images that my husband will put in front of me to see if I know what is wrong. Last night he did it with an image of the cervical spine. And I got it right! Slipped disk there, and disk compressions below. Yeah, I'm ready for my second career in Radiology. He then went on to explain how they were going to fix it. He is a fix it man.

Oh, and maybe your husband is like this too. I have to be careful when I ask a medical question because he likes to give an entire lesson. Last night it was on the circulatory system. I was really curious how the blood found it's way home after being severed/amputated.  30 minutes later and a few drawings on a scrap piece of paper and I have my answer. He would make a great teacher.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Life Is Great!

I know that the majority of my posts are dedicated to the difficulties of being married to a resident doctor, but it's not always so dreadful:-)

My world often feels very small. Most of my daily interactions take place with 0-6 year-olds, or on-line. It doesn't have to be that way, I just allow it to be that way. For the record at least once a day I talk with a non-relative adult, and most days I do leave the house. (Although, with winter fast approaching those excursions may become fewer). Life really is what you make of it. I know I could do more, and some days I do, and I try to no criticize myself too much when I don't.

There really isn't anything unique about the trials of a doctors wife that cannot be found by wives in many other professions. I try to remind myself of that often. Take these careers for example:

Truck Driver: Often gone for 5 straight days during the week. Home on the weekends, and back out on the road. By virtue of the fact they they are on the road, they have a dangerous job. They work long hours, don't eat well (most trucks don't have kitchens:-), and don't get much rest. They miss the same things my husband misses

Attorney: Those guys work crazy hours, too! Depending on their specialty they may be working in a hostile environment, and with peoples lives (although not life and death). They miss their kids events probably just as often as a doctor. Their wives are probably at home doing many of the same things we are.

Military Personnel: Deployments for months or years. I don't think I need to say more, except I will. I've often thought that it would be easier if my husband were just gone so I knew I would be on my own, instead of hoping he'd be available and being disappointed when he's not. I would rather be disappointed that have him gone. Not to mention his life is in greater danger when deployed.

Firefighter: working 24 hour shift, often dangerous work.

Law Enforcement: Dangerous work  (i.e. the bullet proof vests and hand-guns). At least when my husband goes to work I am reasonably assured that he will come home alive.

And the Doctor: long hours, unpredictable schedules. Really not that bad when you consider the others I just listed!

The main point I wanted to make is that regardless of the profession your spouse is in there will always be something that is unpleasant about it. I can't think of a perfect job that would guarantee marital harmony and adequate funds to meet the needs of a family. Life is about making choices.

I chose to marry a medical student. Before I met him I had some requirements that I was looking for in my potential husband. The first was that he had a job, and the second was that he didn't live with his parents. As a student he didn't have a job, and even though he wasn't living with his parents he was living in a home they owned rent free. Technically he should have failed the test. I am glad that I made the exception for him.

I chose to have a baby when it didn't make sense. We had only been married for a few months when we found out we were pregnant. Not a big surprise when you aren't preventing it. Our son was born the later part of MS3. Having a baby changes everything... that is true. I can't think of a single change brought on by having children that didn't also have a direct positive benefit. Sure having kids costs money, but they are worth every dime and dollar, and then some. I don't look at my son, or my daughters, and think "I wish I would have had an exotic vacation or a new car instead". Knowing that we sacrificed that and more for them makes them even more precious to me. They are our greatest achievement and investment.

I chose to not work when it didn't make sense to do so. My co-workers were baffled when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom and give up "money". There is so much more to life than money. Thankfully, I had saved some money knowing that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom that lessened the blow a little, but it was still an adjustment. Over the last 7 years there have maybe been 5 days where I thought I should have just worked a little longer. Only a handful of days. I don't regret my decision.

I chose to move with my husband thousands of miles away from our family. I didn't know at the time how hard that would be, but I wouldn't have stayed behind and I wouldn't have asked my husband to give up his residency to stay. Our families are wonderful and I miss them dearly, but we have learned invaluable lessons being away from their safety net. We have had to rely more upon each other, and upon friends. He is my best friend, I share everything with him (except this blog, I still haven't told him about this - but this is my only secret!)

I choose to accept his unpredictable schedule and long hours. I try not to complain (to him) about how long he works, or how many conferences he attends (wishing I could go), or how many meetings he has. He often expresses appreciation that even though he knows it is hard for me that I don't make it hard for him.  We try to enjoy the time he does have with us.

I choose to support his choice of specialty. We talked about it in medical school, we talked about it during internship year, we've talked about it during residency. I support what he is doing. I wouldn't want him to do anything else. When I see how excited he gets about his work, I want him to do it. I know he wouldn't be happy doing anything else. His happiness is directly connected to my happiness and vice-versa.

I choose to support his fellowship. Even though initially I wasn't very excited about extending our training for another year, I know that it is important to him. I know he wants to be the best, and I want him to be his best. I trust that doing a fellowship will open more opportunities for him, and possibly for us.

I choose to drive older cars, skip vacations, buy 2nd hand furniture, and clip coupons to make what we have go as far as possible. I take pride in managing our household finances and taking care of our home. I know that the work I do doesn't have a salary, but that my work in our home contributes in ways that cannot be quantified by monetary values.

I choose to accept the years of training, incommensurate salaries, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt as an investment in our future. A future, that by all indications, should be bright and without want.

I choose to trust in a Heavenly Father who has plans for my life that includes blessings and experiences that I cannot fathom. I chose to believe that all the experiences we have had over the course of this life have been for our good. We haven't been given any challenge that we haven't been able to over come. I know that whatever the future holds we can handle it, of that I am sure.

This isn't the life I would have designed for myself... I couldn't possibly have dreamed this big. What an exciting journey it has been. I would have designed something safe, predictable, and certainly boring. In reality, easy is boring.

I have a wonderful husband who loves me, his children, and his work. I have my own little family that I get to teach, love, and influence. What an amazing life I have chosen to accept!