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.