Friday, September 30, 2011


All is well. The waters have calmed. We are speaking. I realize I may have been a little quick to anger and I apologized. We talked about his commitment to work and to our family. I am happy with the way things have turned out.

DrH is taking 5 days off to stay home with our children. After these arrangements were solidified the funeral was moved to Saturday. I was going to book my airline tickets for Friday night and return home on Monday evening. He would only need to miss one day of work. But since he had already gone through all the trouble we decided that I would spend a week away. Rather, he insisted.

It's not a vacation, but it is something. Spending a week with my family (and little baby) will be a nice break, and he'll get a chance to see what it's like to be engaged 24/7 with his children.

I leave Monday so this is probably my last post for a week or more. I'm sure I'll have all sorts of tales to tell when I return.


I have by laying in bed for the last 90 minutes trying to will myself to sleep. I need to sleep. But I have also been trying to avoid talking to my husband. Heavens, I don't even want to look at him. I am mad, angry, sad, hurt, confused, and bewildered.

This afternoon I found out that my grandfather had passed away. I don't even remember how old he was. Somewhere between 80 and  85. Last week he had knee replacement surgery and this morning he had, what we are guessing to be, a PE (pulmonary embolism). I should be crying and mourning this loss, but my heart is breaking for something entirely different.

Lest I be misunderstood, I loved my grandfather dearly. He is one of the most optimistic people I've known. He could make you smile without even trying and I can't hear the song "You Are My Sunshine" without immediately thinking of him. He would sing that song while playing the guitar AND the harmonica. We'll not all three at the same time. We thought he was amazing. Almost two years ago we had a huge 60th wedding anniversary party for the grand parents. I am so glad I went (again, only me and we couldn't really afford it then either). It was a big deal - they have a large family: 5 children, 23 grandchildren, and 30 something great-grandchildren. That last number increases a couple every year so it's hard to keep track. People came from all over the country, myself included. The purpose was two-fold: celebrate their anniversary and get the family, from all over the country, together for a happy event rather than a funeral. No one wants to talk about funerals, but we all knew eventually it would come to that.

When I heard the news I immediately thought: I can't go! I have four small children, we all can't afford to go. Tickets on such short notice will be expensive. I wrestled with this for a few hours and talked with my husband, who said we would make it work, and decided I needed to go. He actually said that I needed some time away anyway. I can't argue with that, but a funeral isn't what I had in mind.  At this point not knowing when the funeral would be held we made some tentative outlines of arrangements. My refrigerator savings account will have to start all over yet again.

My DrH called his parents to see if they might be able to pick me up from the airport and drive me to my parents house. They live in a metro area, and my parents live in a rural one and will most likely be busy with arrangements.  My in-laws don't own vehicles for transporting people, perhaps intentionally. One is a truck, 3 people max, but certainly no car seat. The other is a two seater convertible sports car. That won't work either. So they would have to borrow a car to pick me up. They are good people so of course they said yes. Depending on the flight arrival time I might have to stay the night, and then they would have to drive me 2 1/2 hours to my parents house in a car they would have to borrow. Doesn't really seem like a option to me. I may be renting a car.

My mother-in-law called me to tell me she was sorry, and in passing said maybe she could fly out and watch the kids. Well that turned out to be like saying to someone you just met "we should get together some time". It's a nice thing to say, but you don't think any one will really take you up on the offer. My husband tested the waters when he called them back, because that would be awesome and solve so many problems. It was what I thought.... something nice to say to sound helpful but no meaning to it. I am not upset with them, this isn't their responsibility. Living closer to our families would solve so many problems.

And this is once again why I often distance myself from our family. It hurts. It hurts to know that they will be there for you for some things, but not everything. It hurts to know that you can't be there for them. My mother and I just about had a falling out a few years ago. She said she would come out to visit me while my husband was working and living out of town during a 6-month period. I needed help. I was taking care of three children 24/7 with no breaks. But no one can "see" it when you aren't visible to them. The words that try to convey how tired, lonely, overwhelmed don't sound as urgent when no one can "see" you. I felt invisible and abandoned. She said she would come when my dad went out of town (so as not to inconvenience him by having to fix his own meals). Instead when he went out of town she decided to stay home so she could install some new shelving in the closet and get the house organized. I was heart-broken and our relationship was strained for at least a year.

Dying is never convenient. If the funeral could be on Monday or Tuesday we wouldn't be having this drama. But a couple hours later I find out that the funeral will be either Wednesday or Thursday. Now we have hit a road block. It turns out my husband needs to operate Wednesday and Friday, but thinks he could take Tuesday and Thursday off. So now I need to find someone to watch our kids (3 of them) Wednesday and Friday if I am going to go.

You can ask your wife to watch your offspring from 6 am until some unforeseen time later in the night, but asking a friend to do that is nearly beyond my capacity. Let me say the thought of asking even my closest friend to do this for me so my husband can go to work doesn't feel right to me. It makes me sick. I have a friend I could ask who would be up at that time. She already watches one little girl, she could use some extra money. It's too late to call, so it will have to wait. I am sure there are others that I could ask, too.

And then I break down. Do you know how ridiculous it is going to sound begging my friends to watch my children so my husband can continue with his life as normal! As if he didn't have any commitments to his family. If I were them, I would be thinking why doesn't he do it. Why am I considering having a babysitter for my children when their father isn't going? Would anyone really think less of him for taking time off to watch his children so his wife could attend a funeral thousands of miles away? Would this really impact any letter of recommendation he would get? Would this make him less of a surgeon? Would he lose the respect of his peers? Are the people he works for so heartless that they would make him feel bad for choosing this time to be there for his family? I've always assumed the hospital made the residents slaves. Now I am beginning to think the residents enslave themselves and in turn their families. And for what?

I am beyond mad. There aren't words for the depth of disappointment I feel. I thought we were a team, but apparently I've been playing ALL the positions. When I need DrH to step up to the plate and carry the load for a short time (4 days is all), I find out he is playing for a different team and can't let them down. His suggestion is to get one of my friends to watch our kids. OUR kids. The same ones that he helped create and had plenty of time to participate in the "creation" part he but can't be there to watch these kids when I need to be somewhere. And this somewhere else isn't an exotic vacation, or a weekend shopping spree. This is a funeral! To me this is putting work way ahead of family, something I never thought he would do. Never.

(Break - he discovered I wasn't in bed and figured he had done something wrong. We talked, I still don't feel any better)

I've pretty much decided not to go. When my mom called to tell me the news I told her as much. She didn't expect I would be able to anyway. She knows what our life is like. She understands short notice and expensive flights. I know she wouldn't judge me for staying home. But now I not only feel like I should go, I feel like my husband should start playing for this team and tell the hospital he has a commitment to his family. If he can't do it, then I can't go. I still think we are a team, even if it feels like I am doing all the work. If he won't make the sacrifice I will. It's what I do, it's what I've always done.

I told him that I hate his job. Those were my exact words. It was true before, but now my hatred has something to attach itself to. It's like knowing the hospital is your husbands mistress (which you've been denying for years) only to find out the hospital is actually his first wife and she doesn't even know you exist, let alone that you have children together. I asked him what would have happened if it had been a member of his family that had passed away? Would he still need to operate on Wednesday and Friday? NO answer. I don't see how this is any different. OUR family has a funeral. Does it make a difference that only one of us can go? It shouldn't.

He went to bed thinking that he could probably get someone to cover Wednesday but he still would need to be there on Friday. I still don't get it. Actually I do because I have a theory for everything. I remember when I was a working thinking that I was the only one that could do my job. If I didn't do it, it wouldn't get done. Was "IT" so important that "IT" couldn't wait a few days? The thought of taking time off was cause for anxiety. What if something happened while I was gone? What if I missed an important meeting? What if, what if, what if? And then I got pregnant and had to come to grips with the simple truth that we are all replaceable. We have to be. The only job that I had that couldn't be done equally as well by someone else was that of mother to my child(ren). Everything else, someone else could do just as well or maybe better. I think my husband really believes he is that important. I don't doubt that he is important. And I suppose that it could be argued that if he isn't at work those 4 days someone could die. It is a weak argument, because there are other doctors there.... no one is going to let his patients die because he isn't there. Working as much as they do, as long as they do, with so little time off I can see how he could come to believe that if he isn't there the world will fall apart. How can I convince him (and maybe them) that it won't?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weighty Matters

Since I've already started blabbing about health and weight I might as well just say it: I am obsessed with weight.

I'm not a big girl, nor am I a skinny girl. I wish I would have enjoyed being skinny when I was, but I didn't think I was so I didn't. Now I look back on those days wishing I could only look that good again. It's like missing what my breasts used to look like before having kids. Once you go down that path there is no turning back.

I figure over the last 7 years I have gained and lost over 150 pounds! Basically for the last 7 years my weight hasn't been constant for more than a month or two thanks to the continuous cycle of being pregnant (gaining) or breast feeding (losing). I have no idea what my actual normal weight would look like now. I like to think a skinny girl lives in here somewhere. I love the gym like a skinny girl and love cookies like a chubby girl. As I am writing this I am shoveling chocolate chip banana bread down for lunch:-)

But here is the problem I really have with my weight. I have this silly, preconceived notion that by virtue of married to a doctor I have a certain "image" I need to live up to for the peoples sake. Part of that image is being thin and attractive. I recognize this is messed up. I don't even know how I came to possess this particular notion. But I don't think it is just me. I think people expect doctors wives to be a certain way and are disappointed when they aren't. Oh me and my messed up thoughts! Why should I care what anyone else thinks? It's a recipe for disaster, and not even a delicious one.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Conspiracy Theory

The hospital is out to make my husband fat!

It's true. I can't think of any other explanation for why they would tempt these tired and hungry doctors with junk food. Near the Operating Room is a doctors lounge. In this doctors lounge are computers, flat screen TVs, leather club chairs/recliners, newspapers, magazines, and a kitchen.  This isn't hearsay, I've seen it. The only thing missing is cigar smoke. It's a man cave.

Back to the fat part. In this kitchen they have stocked: cookies, pudding parfaits, pastries, cake, and a few healthier choices like hard-boiled eggs, fruit, hummus and pita. I know myself very well and given the choice between a cookie and a hard-boiled egg I will take the cookie every time, several times. Asking a doctor who is tired, over-worked, and in need of some nourishment (in other words, incapacitated) what do you think they will choose? You must possess control of all your wits to muster enough discipline to choose something other than sweets. At least I know I do, and that doesn't happen very often.

I realize that sometimes you need the quick burst of energy that only high calorie, sweet food can provide. But when that food is readily available every day all day it can quickly become a problem. To make matters worse, depending on the hospital, the cafeteria is essentially an all you can eat buffet (residents don't pay), assuming they have time to eat in the first place. Other hospitals issue meal cards commiserate with the number of night call. They are surrounded by food that is easy to access and quick to intake but not necessarily the best items for their overall health.

I've seen it happen at our program. Over the course of a year a resident can easily gain 10 pounds. We have one resident who has been told that he can not be chief unless he loses some weight.

Part two of my theory is related to the first. This same hospital that pumps my husband full of empty calories also asks him to be concerned with his weight through their strategic use of their health insurance plan. Yeah, I'm on that topic again. As a way to beef-up our deductible reimbursement account we have to take health screening. You don't have to take the screening, but if you need some extra money for those expensive bills you need to. If you pass the screening you get $600 towards your credit. If you fail the screening you have to participate in phone coaching sessions. DrH failed the screening several months ago and is in the process of these phone coaching sessions. Just another 6 weeks and he should have the mandatory 9 calls completed. They are holding him hostage because of his BMI all the while continuing to feed him garbage. That just seems mean.

Doctors/Residents don't have scheduled meal breaks. They eat when they can, and depending on the day they might not eat at all. Any person of authority on weight loss will tell you that you still need to eat at regular intervals to lose weight. The hospital must think doctors are exempt from the natural laws that govern the rest of the population or maybe they really aren't as interested in health as they claim to be.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Attendings Forget What It's Like

I am convinced that the moment a resident graduates and starts practice they forget what the previous 6-10 years have been like. They must. How else can you explain my weekend?

Friday afternoon I get a call from my husband saying that the case that was scheduled for 1:00 pm has been postponed. The good news is that he will be home for dinner. The bad news is that he will be leaving promptly after dinner to do the case that was postponed. Why was it postponed? The attending had a "couple's massage" at 1:00 pm. Seriously! This is the same attending who just 3 years earlier was the chief resident at this program. Surely, he knows that moving a case so you can get a massage with your wife is going to make someone else's wife upset. (I hope it was with his wife). Maybe they are having "problems" and needed a massage together in the afternoon. If I were going to get a couples massage I would want it after I had worked a long day, not right in the middle of it.

My DrH is also on call this weekend. He takes call from home which is usually a good thing. Usually. The particular attending on call with him doesn't ever tell the residents when she will be ready to round. So DrH left the house before 7 am to round on his patients and waited for her to decide when she would be ready to come in. All the other attendings tell the resident on call when they will round so they can be ready. Not her. So after 6 hours at the hospital today "waiting" he was able to come home for a few hours before actually getting called back in. That is where he is now.

We still have another 36 hours before call is over. Who knows what else could happen in that time. But these two experiences, one right after the other, lead me to believe that these attendings must suffer from amnesia. They must have completely forgot some of the most important years of their life.... or they intentionally attempt to make the residents (mostly their  family) as miserable as possible.

Note to self: when my husband is calling the shots, I will never schedule a couples massage at the same time he has a case. Nor will I ever let him forget what the residents family is going through. I will always remember!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Two Favorite Months

It's about time I actually blog about something that more closely fits the original intention of this blog!

For the last 5+ years I have come to love two months out of the year more than any other. These two months aren't the same year to year but they occur twice a year about 5 months apart. This year my favorite months happen to be March and September. You want to know why? It's all about the payroll:-)

I remember when we first got our contract for our internship year. We were excited to finally have a salary, that is something to be exuberant about! In trying to work out our budget for the upcoming day when that salary would be in our bank account we naively took the total and divided by 12 for our monthly gross salary. My previous job paid my salary semi-monthly on the 1st and the 15th. Each month's total was the same. My husbands student loan disbursements happened quarterly. We were used to working with sums of money that were consistent from month to month.

I don't remember if his contract actually stated the frequency in which they would disburse his salary, but the truth of the matter is getting paid every two weeks isn't the same as getting paid semi-monthly or even monthly. Surprise! When you get paid every two weeks you have 26 pay periods. For 10 months of the year you have 2 paychecks. For 2 months of the year you have 3 paychecks. This payroll cycle wrecks havoc on my budget for 10 months and spoils me for the other 2. Not technically spoils, but at least I know for those two months there will be some surplus in my budget whereas the other 10 are cutting it close! Too close.

You might say it shouldn't make a difference, but I tell you it does. When you get those contracts be sure to look at (or ask) how frequently they issue payroll! I can't help but give an example for illustrative purposes.

A $45,000 annual salary paid monthly in 12 installments or semi-monthly on the 1st and the 15th would be $3,750 gross (before taxes/deductions/etc) each and every month. I love predictability.

A $45,000 annual salary paid bi-weekly would pay the recipient $3,461gross (before taxes/deductions/etc) for 10 months, and a whopping $5,192 for two months. That is quite a difference.

When you are trying to establish a household budget on a salary of $45,000 you really have to use what you get during most months. That means using the figure of $3,461 to calculate your expenses not the $3,750 unless you are 200% confident that you could take those extra 2 paychecks and save them. Let's be honest, who has that much discipline.

So we live on considerably less for 10 months of the year and put off as many expenses as we can for those other two months when we feel rich:-) This month is one of our favorite months and that also means our medical bills will get paid. Perfect timing. But I would much rather have the same number to work with month in and month out. On the other hand, if you don't have many unexpected expenses the two months you get extra will feel like Christmas! Happy Budgeting:-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Depends On How You Define Success

I know you're dying to know whether I remained strong or if I fell off the wagon. The results: I did stay away from my iPad, and therefore Netflix, all day yesterday and I haven't touched it today!  But I am not ready to pat myself on the back just yet.

I was partially successful, because I wasn't able to stay away form the computer. How many times do I really need to check my email? There is never anything there that requires my urgent attention. Do I even care what hundreds of my closest friends are doing at this very moment? No one really does anything that exciting. And if I were going to post something of FB today it would be "these cookies smell like donuts". Now how important is that? Is there anything happening in the world that is so earth shattering that if I don't read it the second it happens I will perish? Not likely. This machine has such a powerful influence over my life. But what would this experiment be if I didn't learn something along the way?

I use the Internet, and all that encompasses, like a drug. I noticed it yesterday when I was trying to abstain from it's siren call. When the day just isn't going how I would like, when things seem to be overwhelming, when the kids aren't listening, when I am bored with what I have to do - I look for the exit door. I want to escape!  I can't literally escape because I have children that need supervision, so I retreat within my own home, from the people who love and need me. The sad news is I have been escaping far too much. I can see that now. I have been little better than a TV and McDonalds in terms of caring for my family.

Netflix isn't to blame, it just happened to be my escape of choice. We should be glad that it isn't something really bad. When I removed it yesterday something else popped up to take its place. If only I could be addicted to healthy eating, cleaning, or laundry we wouldn't be having this conversation! I have made my home a prison instead of a sanctuary. Not just for myself but for my children also. We need to get out of the house more and I need to stop using my crazy married to a resident, lonely, tired, no money, no time life as an excuse for not living.

So what am I going to do? Well for starters I went to the gym and took a yoga class. I need that music piped into my house to help keep me calm (maybe I'll set up a Pandora station for that). I vowed not to raise my voice at my children and to actually interact with them and tell them that I love them. I am going to limit the amount of time my children are plugged in, too. I will be firm but not mad.

Can I really give up the Internet? Well that would be silly, not to mention impossible. Look how much I have learned about myself just from keeping this blog! There is something about pouring your heart and soul into the universe that is very therapeutic.  I'm not about to sacrifice this valuable outlet, but I do need to tip the scales in favor of balance. I am still working out what that would look like. I think I have been out of balance for quite a while now. No more excuses, time to snap out of it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


After a year or so of hearing all the great shows my friends were watching on Netflix, I finally broke down and joined the service. For the first few months I watched things occasionally, and then even less so when our TV somehow decided that it would only keep a wifi connection for intervals of 5 minutes of less. That made it nearly impossible to watch on TV, and I can't sit in front of the computer watching TV or movies. But then came along the iPad, and this is where our story begins.

It was the perfect storm: new baby, iPad, Netflix. These three things have conspired to keep me in my bed and away from my family. It is really bad. I think I may have a small addiction that could require it's own 12 step program. I even take the iPad to the gym so I can watch Netflix.

I'm not watching anything earth shattering, because, lets be honest there isn't much of entertainment that is also valuable... it is entertainment after all. I have watched several documentaries and can say that I learned something that I didn't know before. But, for the most part I have been consumed with BBC period dramas. I love them. They are the perfect cure for overcast, gloomy days and we've had a lot of them lately.

I seems that I find just about any reason to go into my room, lie down with the baby, and watch! It is awful. As I am writing this I am debating whether or not to take a day off from Netflix.... but can't commit to it! I am addicted. I have a few shows in my queue I would really like to watch. And feeding the baby must be done. Why not do it while watching a movie? Exercising is more fun with it. Maybe it even was responsible for pulling my weight from the overweight category to high-normal. I can't seem to limit it to just feeding and the gym. It calls to me. These BBC dramas that I love go on for hours.  One I watched was nearly 8 hours. The last one was 3 1/2 hours. It was good.

Even when my DrH is home I find myself wanting to retreat alone to watch. I should be spending those precious minutes and hours with him. I complain about never getting to see him, but when I can be with him I choose to do something else. I do feel terrible about the whole thing. The other night he was watching something on the TV and studying and I was in the bedroom curled up with my iPad. Hardly the recipe for marital harmony. And my poor children. What about them. Forcing them to take naps so I can "take a nap" with my Netflix queue.

Netflix may be the end of me and my relationship with my husband and children. I can see it now. A year from now some bad day-time TV talk show will be interviewing me via satellite because I can't take my eyes away from the movie I am watching. My husband will have taken the kids and found a new wife because I haven't been able to leave the house in months and let the garbage and dishes swallow the entire house.

There are so many things competing for our time. When I think of all the things I could do with the time I have already spent on Netflix I feel ashamed. If I devoted even half of those hours to spending time with my kids and my husband how much happier would we all be. Don't get me wrong we are happy. But could we even be happier? I have a to-do list that hasn't been touched in weeks with plenty of things for me to do that would actually be considered productive.

I've thought about this concept of competing interests for a long time. Occasionally it's a blog that gets all the attention. Other times, it is keeping up with Facebook. Really? Who cares what all of my acquaintances are doing every minute of the day, I will live if I don't know for a day or two. Won't I? Other times it is window shopping on the internet with an impulse purchase here or there. There are so many ways to waste away our day. Truthfully, that's all I want some days. But every day shouldn't be like that!

As a mother and wife I have other responsibilities that are important that I often let go in favor of wasting time. I should be doing the things that matter. Reading to my kids before naps, not rushing them off to bed so I can do something else. Making healthy food for my family (including shopping for it), not scrambling come dinner time because I've been "too busy" to think about dinner. Planning fun things to do as a family. Playing and having fun together without electronic interference. Right now I'm obviously typing this and my two little girls are watching a movie, and the baby is sleeping in her swing.

I know the answer is balance and moderation in all things. Isn't that the standard answer for everything? OK, I've decided. Today will be a no Netflix day. I can do it. I do have some discipline, or at least I hope I still have some. I can do this.  It's 10:40 and I have spent just about every minute from 8:30 this morning on this darn computer. Already updated 2 blogs, email and Facebook.... I can do this. I am starting to feel anxious when I think about the hours ahead. What am I going to do? Wish me luck!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I am not FAT!

The good news just keeps on coming. I found out today that I am not overweight!

Back story: I've written about our health insurance and how much I hate it. Part of our deductible can be reduced by participating in health screenings. I took one back in July about 4 weeks after I had just given birth (can I say I gave birth if I had a c-section) and was declared overweight (BMI and Body fat too high). Yeah, like I didn't know that, I just had a baby - they should have seen me four weeks earlier! At that same visit they told me I was 1.5 inches shorter than I have claimed to be my entire life. I am still not happy about that. Anyhow, because I was overweight I had two choices to make. I could be screened again before September 23rd, or have 6-9 phone counseling sessions over the next four months. I was confident I would lose a significant amount of baby weight in two months and did not want to have phone counseling. I hear my poor husbands phone counseling sessions and no, I couldn't do it. What would I say? I am sorry, but I ate half a cheese-cake last night for dinner, I am breast-feeding so that is my primary activity for weight loss. Oh, and I do go the gym. I walk on the treadmill while watching movies on my iPad so I can eat more cheese-cake again this week. And for the free babysitting.

Today: I went in not as confident as I was hoping to be (because I've eaten so much junk), but hopeful that I could stretch myself another inch. The verdict is I am not fat and I managed to gain an extra half inch just by standing as erect as I could possibly get. I barely squeaked under the BMI limits, and technically I am .1% over in my body fat composition. The point is I passed, I am no longer considered overweight (only but a fraction) and they will give my deductible a $600 credit for all that effort. I will take it.

The bummer is that I can't submit medical expenses to be reimbursed until my husband finishes his counseling. Another two months or so. But then I will get back some of the money we've already spent. Some is better than the alternative. I hate jumping through their hoops.

Friday, September 16, 2011

MUST I Get Out of Bed?

Wow, a whole week passed since I last blogged? That is shameful. I've thought about it, plenty of times. But this week has been hard.

I don't know if it was the sudden turn of the weather or if life has just caught up with me. I feel drained. In fact, Saturday I didn't get out of bed until 4:00 pm and that is only because my husband was close to having me admitted to the crazy ward. Not that I was crazy. You can't be crazy if you can't get out of bed:-) But he did make me get up, dressed and leave the house.

I was tired. Really tired. So the baby and I stayed in bed. Feeding, watching movies, sleeping. I didn't really want to leave. He hadn't been home most of the week, and I was more than ready for him to tend the other three kids. I wasn't leaving that bed! Truthfully, I would rather be in bed right now. I know I am not getting "quality" sleep. I wake up in the morning tired, and need a nap in the afternoon if I can get one. Part of it is obvious: I have an almost 3 month old infant... and 3 months without good sleep is a long time. I don't see any way around it though. Wait, I just thought of one: she could grow up. That will take time and I really don't want to rush it. She is already growing too fast and as she is most likely our last baby I would rather time stop for a while.

I am sure other women who have children feel the same way, and that being married to a resident isn't the only reason, but I can't help but feel that is part of it. A big part of it. He is home so little that it really is just me most of the time. Day in and day out. I am exhausted, and we've been going at this pace for a long time. I need my sleep in order to stay on top of it. When I can't sleep we all seem to suffer.

So today the only thing I am making myself do is blog and take a nap. The refrigerator is nearly empty, the laundry needs to be done, the floors need vacuuming, the girls hair needs to be brushed, you name it - it needs to be done. But most days I just can't do it all. I feel bad, because my DrH has really been picking up a lot of the slack, which I appreciate. He knows when things are getting bad without me having to say so and he does all that he can. But he is tired too.

I know "tired" isn't the only reason. We need to spend some time together, but we don't get any. When he is home one of us is usually asleep. When we try to get out (always at the last minute because you can't really plan ahead for much), we can't find a babysitter. We haven't had a night out alone since the baby was born. She is 3 months old!

I am also worrying about things that I shouldn't really be worrying about right now. Specifically, selling our house this spring. I know it is only September, but spring is right around the corner! There is so much to do and time is moving too quickly. I am too tired to get started. The DrH isn't around to do it. We don't have the money to do it. We have to sell it. I wish we'd never bought it.

So all of these things are conspiring against me. No worries, I am doing much better. I need a nap, a night out, and a handyman. Today I will have to settle for just a nap.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book, Books, And MORE Books

I know you have this problem too! The books are everywhere and new ones seem to come all the time. Imagine my excitement when the UPS man comes with a brown box only to find that it is yet again more medical books!

Thankfully, our program does include money for the purchase of books so they don't actually hit my bottom line. That is unless DrH forgets to submit the receipts in which case he hears my screams from the other room. Those books are not cheap and the purchase of them has to be carefully orchestrated so there is time to submit the receipts and get the reimbursement check before other bills come due.

I'm complaining about the books because I should be cleaning the house. That is what I was going to spend the day doing (again). But I ran across four of those books sitting on top of a horizontal surface I try to keep clear at all times! His books always find a way to that spot, or on the floor next to the couch where he left it before going to bed. I have even found them under the couch. Maybe one of the kids put them there. Where I never find them are on the bookshelf! OK, that's not entirely true. The ones on the shelf are the ones that I put there that he hasn't taken out yet.

On our list of things to have when that "day" comes is a library. We already have the books, boxes and boxes of them, just not enough room to keep them all on shelves.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Not To Save Money

Do you ever feel like all your attempts at doing some good, just turn out bad? I had one of those moments yesterday. These things also tend to happen when I am already having a bad day (remember yesterdays post).

I'm in this cleaning house mode and have been ridding my closet of clothing that just "isn't right" for me, or doesn't fit and never will (in a good way), or my pregnant clothes that I am pretty sure I may never need again. After all, 4 kids is kind of a big deal. I could give everything away and feel all generous and good. Or I could take them to the consignment shop and try to make some money. They are still in really good condition. I choose money. Although I sometimes think of the smiles I could generate at Goodwill when a stranger runs across a find like I could give them. No, I still choose the money over being good. But, I do have a pile going to Goodwill, too.... just not the good stuff.

On to my story. The DrH came home yesterday in time for me to make a quick run to the library to drop off some of the kid movies (you know the library lets you check out movies for free, right? Just don't be late or they aren't free)! Then I went to drop off some of those clothes I mentioned at the consignment shop. I scored, they took them all and in 75 days I can pick up my check. I'm a regular consignee at this store as of May. To date, they have provided hanger space for almost 100 items. I used to have a problem with clothes, shoes, and accessories. In a previous life I could buy what I wanted and definitely used retail shopping as therapy. That just isn't the life I have right now. So I am purging and hoping to make some money. Note to self: clothing, shoes and accessories aren't really an investment, the resale value isn't great, but it's better than nothing. Don't buy anything unless you love it and plan to keep it forever!

And here is how not to save. As I was exiting the consignment shop I accidentally turned onto a one-way street the wrong way at the exact same time a policeman was turning the correct way onto the same one-way street. I saw what I had done the minute I made the wrong turn. This one-way street was only about 50 yards long and there was no traffic on it (other than the policeman and myself) so I am sure the policeman saw my face the minute I recognized I was going the wrong way and then my horror when I discovered him.

I was already in the one-way street and was on it the wrong way for all of 10 seconds. No harm was done. But on came the lights. I knew he saw me. And I would have thought him negligent had he not turned on his lights and approached my vehicle now safely in a parking lot. Which is where I would have gone to turn around and get back on the street the right way had he not been there. I promise I would not have continued going the wrong way on a one way street!

Out come the license, registration and insurance. I'm praying for a warning and that he will take pity on me while at the same time wishing I had all of my children in the car making me even more pitiful. Better yet, if the baby could be crying hysterically. But as it was, I got all dressed up, because you can't be out of the house without your children looking like the mother of 4 young children. Where are those kids when you need them!

He took my documents and went back to his vehicle for what seemed like forever. In the end he was a nice officer and I have a squeaky clean driving record in this city. I apologized profusely and swore that I didn't realize it was a one way street and when I did I got off the road as fast as I could even before I saw him. I thought I was going to cry. I can't afford a ticket, and I can't go to driving school - I have a nursing baby! Here I was selling the clothes off my back to save some money and was going to get ticketed for making an tiny mistake.

Thankfully, he was in a good mood and gave me a warning and told me that he just saved me $120. I would have had to sell a lot more to make up that $120. If you are trying to save money - don't get a ticket!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cheap Fun?

Cheap and Lame....that about sums up my existence at the moment.

For Labor Day my husband signed-up to run a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) in Oakbrook, IL - a suburb of Chicago. I've known about it for a while, but was hoping he wouldn't really do it. Why? Because I manage our family's budget and even a little trip always costs a few hundred dollars. The registration fee isn't expensive, but its all the "other" stuff like gas, lodging (because the race starts early in the morning), food, etc. He had had some muscle tenderness for the weeks leading up to the race and was complaining about his hamstring and calf muscles on his left leg. I was hoping he would injure himself and stay home. That's awful! But I had just told my husband days earlier my plans for our budget and how I was hoping to save some serious $$$ by not spending on things that weren't absolutely necessary.

Thursday he ran 10 miles. When I suggested that he could just run 13 miles here at home on Saturday, he said he wouldn't do it! Really? He just did 10, is doing 13 miles 2 hours away really necessary? And its not like he hasn't run before. He has been running for years, full marathons and half marathons. His response was, yes, he needed to go. I didn't think it was absolutely necessary, but I wasn't going to make the mistake of saying that out loud. Things have been tense around here lately.

Then the question of whether or not we would accompany him on this trip. Truthfully, I could have stayed home and been just as content. But the penny-pincher I am said this could be a mini-vacation for us. He was already going to spend the money on gas, and lodging, maybe we should all go and make a day out of it. What was I thinking?

First there is the getting ready to go. That is a process unto itself. After church we ran home and I made dinner. Pasta - it's what every runner eats before running - carb loading! Then packed up the kids stuff. Meanwhile, my husband has packed up his things, is sitting at the computer and asks what he can do. He wasn't really serious about doing any of it. When I asked him to help the kids he said he was "supervising" the kids while they were getting their stuff ready. A 6 year-old, 4 year-old, and a 3 year-old need more than supervising. Then I suggest that he might clean the kitchen before we go, while I get the kids stuff packed up and finished a load of laundry. He replied that he would just wait until he got home the next day. (He was irritated). OK. Eventually, he realized we weren't ready and did it. And we still weren't ready to go when he finished. He doesn't spend enough time with his kids to know that nothing happens quickly around here, and supervising is just another word for not caring if it gets done or not. I thought we were doing pretty good. Home at 4:20, dinner, packed up, cleaned up and out the door by 6:00. That is a miracle in my book.

Then there is the issue of traveling with 2 adults, 3 children and an infant. There just isn't enough room for all the people and the stuff. We can bring one or the other, but not both. The baby can't ride in an umbrella stroller because she can't sit up on her own yet. The regular stroller won't fit in the van because it seriously takes up the entire back/trunk area. And then there is the sheer volume of stuff that is required when traveling with children. What was supposed to be a small overnight trip, looked like we were staying for a few days.

And the glorious car ride. This was our first car ride greater than 20 minutes with our 10 week old infant.  I was hopeful that she would just sleep during the entire ride. No, there was crying. Same thing on the way back. I think she cried for 30 minutes straight during each day of our journey in the car.

The kids love staying in hotels, and this hotel happened to be on the MacDonald's Corporate Headquarters campus. They thought they were going to go to MacDonald's. We pull up to the hotel, notice it is only valet. Turn around and look for the free parking. I suggest why don't we just valet it. That would be the best $5 we would spend all day. Instead he goes back up to the hotel and asks the valet guy where the free parking is, gets his answer, and then remembers oh yeah, lets just valet it. I am sorry, but walking from the parking lot with 4 small kids and our stuff doesn't sound like fun. Don't choose this moment to be concerned about our budget.

If you can't already tell, I was irritated before we ever loaded up the car to go. Not a good way to start a trip, but I knew what I was going to be in for and did it anyway.

Our kids usually go to bed early. By the time we were checked in the hotel and the kids were down for bed it was after 9:00 pm. We were "waiting" for the extra blankets we had requested because the three kids were going to sleep on the floor. My husband would sleep in one bed by himself, and I would sleep with the baby in the other bed. We both remembered our past experiences sleeping with children in hotel rooms when he has some place to be early in the morning. 

And then it was morning. DrH had to pick up his registration packet and left at 6:00 am. We didn't hear him leave. When he came back at 6:35 am to drop off his stuff he thought turning on the lights would be a great idea. It wasn't. Our son woke up. And why did he turn the lights on? I'll never know! He went into the restroom and I got up and turned them off. Did he not realize that while he is off running and having a great time, my job at the hotel would be to keep these kids asleep as long as possible so the chance of us having a good day would be greater. One day I would love to leave him in a hotel room with four kids and turn the lights on and then leave for a few hours. Good luck!

The kids did great. Although my son was awake, he managed to stay quiet until 8:00 when his two sisters woke up and then I had them all get into one bed with the iPad to watch movies while I worked on keeping the baby asleep as long as possible. Thank heavens for the iPad! The baby woke up at 9:00, yeah! Then I started getting the hotel room put back together, the kids dressed and fed, and everyone ready to go. 

DrH gets back from running his race, takes a shower, and then it's time for the baby to eat and take a nap. DrH takes the kids out for a walk around the campus and the baby and I hang out in the hotel room alone. During which time she blows out of her diaper and deposits yellow baby poo on my pants and shirt. Thank heavens I didn't bring the white ones! And now you see why we have to pack so much. Everyone needs two changes of clothes at least, for moments just like this. When they get back we have both changed our clothes and are ready to go.

It's lunch time and I suggest we use that $20 off coupon he got with his racing bag to a Greek Restaurant, but he has his heart set on PF Changs. So on our way we stop by McDonald's to get the kids hamburgers, wait for another 20 minutes while they eat. Kids don't do much quickly. Then go eat our $65 lunch. The kids didn't eat, but they did want something yummy to drink!

Next stop IKEA. Do we need anything? No! But they do have a kids play place and the kids should have some fun, right? So they spend an hour at the play place and we walk though IKEA. I notice how nice the stuff looks all set up, but on our way out see the warehouse and an item that has obviously had a cart run into it a few time and it is cheap. We just can't get away from it! We buy chocolate and ice cream cones for a treat and then it's off again.

Why must we visit Bass Pro Shops? My husband isn't really the great-outdoors type. Neither am I. But someone told us they had a lake in the store and we are going to check it out. We tell the kids we're going to see some fish in a aquarium. We take pictures with a life sized bear and sit on the ATV's. And they had a fudge shop, so the kids got some fudge. I mean, they should have some fun right?

Back in the car by 5:30 for our 2 hour ride home, during which the baby cried for another 30 minutes non-stop. Total amount I have to squeeze out our budget for this day of free/cheap fun: $250.00. Had he just ran 13 miles at home, we'd only be out the $60 registration fee. I hope the above experience was worth it.  Happy Labor Day!