Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Doctor McHottie

Where are all the hot doctors? Oh, that's right they are all on television pretending to be doctors. When I close my eyes and imagine going to see a doctor for some "problem" he is usually a late 30's early 40's male in excellent physical condition, well groomed, happily married, and above average in the attractiveness scale. Granted the last time I saw a male doctor he was a short, fat, balding man with bad breath. That experience didn't alter my day dream version of what a doctor should be. I have successfully been brainwashed by all those medical dramas and comedies. Try it, who do you see when you think about a potential visit to a doctor you have never seen before. See... he is cute (or she, whatever).

As we've started looking for jobs we've seen some rather interesting mug shots, I mean portraits, of physicians. That's right we are doing our homework, and checking out the docs - where they trained, what they are working on, and they happen to have photographs. (Note to self: make sure DrH gets professional photos from a professional photographer, some of these pictures look like my sons 1st grade school pictures).  My favorite is the guy, excuse me - surgeon, who looks like he belongs in the mafia. He even has his own introductory video, which doesn't do much to sway my initial reaction.

Is there a specialty that attracts more attractive people? Are all the attractive doctors still students/residents? Does working 80 hours a week for a decade or two make a person lose their "hotness"? Are less than attractive people attracted to medicine as a way to compensate for their looks? height? thinning hair? I know that is a harsh assumption. I just assumed that there would be more good-looking doctors. Or maybe all the good looking doctors with practices aren't looking to hire because everybody wants to work with the good looking group. That would explain all the less than good looking doctors looking to hire... maybe they are hoping to find a good looking candidate. That is good news for us.

My DrH is an attractive guy. Or at least I find him attractive. When I put his picture up against some of these other doctors, he is obviously above average. When he actually practices on his own I can see potential patients looking through the photos of the physicians and choosing the best looking doctor on the list. Forget where he trained! The older women especially can't get enough of my DrH:-)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fortune Cookie Friends

A few weeks ago I opened a fortune cookie and received a profound message:

"In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends".

I liked it so much I put it on my refrigerator and for the last few weeks have been thinking about my friends. 

Most of my friends before I married DrH were associated with my work. When you spend 40  hours a week for years on end, you create a friendship of convenience. Having a baby and no longer working made it difficult to continue those friendships that were based on mutual circumstances. Would we have been friends outside of work if we didn't have work to unite us? I don't know.

I had another friend that I had known for a decade. We were roommates in college. We went through periods were we saw each other frequently, and then periods of not so frequent visits. For the two years before DrH and I married we were really close. We had developed a common hobby together, long distance running and we were training partners. For over a year we saw each other 3-4 times a week! However, once my situation changed from "friend who is unmarried and lonely" to "friend who found love with a Dr" our relationship changed. 

I have spent countless hours analyzing our friendship over the course of the time that we have known each other. I was usually the one making the arrangements to visit, calling. I always met her wherever and whenever it was most convenient for her. When I needed things to change to maintain our connection she dropped out. For the two years we were running partners I drove 20 minutes to her house 3-4 times a week at 4:30 am. She had a husband and child, a job (so did I), but I didn't really mind. As long as I was willing to come to her, it worked. When I needed her to met me halfway, it no longer worked.

I can count the number of times we have spoken since I've married. When I was an unemployed stay at home mom married to a poor medical student I stopped hearing from her  even though we lived in the same city. That was precisely the same moment that I could have used a friend, and she was no where to be found. In my prosperity she was there, and should I return to that same town in a prosperous new way she would probably turn up again.

The friendships we have made in our time of adversity and poverty will be the friendships that I will always be able to trust regardless of our situation in life.

Two and a half years ago a medical student and his family moved to our town to finish their 3rd and 4th year of school. We formed an immediate bond with this family. They have since moved to a nearby town for internship year and we have still maintained our friendship. This weekend we went out and had dinner together. Us and our 6 kids combined. She is expecting their 3rd child in three weeks, so our next outing will really be fun!

When I think back over our medical school/internship/residency years these are the friends that I will associate with this time. In fact, they are the only medical friends we mutually share. These are the friends that we will go out of our way to see for years.

Some friendships are convenient, some are fleeting, and some will last forever. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ego Of A Surgeon

I remember when my DrH was first starting out he would tell me that Neurosurgeons were really a bunch of arrogant jerks. At the time I was certain that it was true and that it would never happen to my DrH, and it hasn't. But, I have seen a change in him.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the change is. Confidence? There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. I want my surgeon to be confident. For that matter I want my husband (not in Dr. mode) to be confident. Confidence is a positive trait, arrogance is not.

Confidence = Good
a) a feeling of consciousness of one's own powers or of reliance on ones circumstances
b) faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way
c) the quality or state of being certain

Arrogance = Bad
a) an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.

I have often wondered how much of a persons confidence or arrogance is just a matter of perception.  Being in charge while in the OR immediately puts you in a position of authority. It seems that people in authority get the label "arrogant" more often than others. I want my surgeons hands to be confident. I want him to act decisively. I want his instincts to be trusted. I want those under his supervision to be quick to act.

a) not proud or haughty

a) having or displaying excessive self-esteem

I have never seen my DrH in the operating room, and I don't know that I want to. I would be nervous if he were watching me at my Zumba class, shaking it and working my stuff. However, I would like to see his command of the OR, in a fly on the wall sort of way. The feedback I get from the nurses we run into out and about, indicate that not only is he confident and capable, he is also humble and modest. Good thing because he is about to join the real world.

I need to ask him again if he thinks Neurosurgeons are a bunch of arrogant jerks. My guess is that he wouldn't think they are so much now. Is that because he is becoming more like them? Well, yes and no.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Generous People

I am attempting to do a better job recognizing the good things that have come our way over the course of our schooling and training experience. It just so happened that I was cleaning out a large cedar chest that I keep pictures in and things I am going to scrapbook one day when I get the time. As I was going through photos and documents, throwing away duplicates and questioning whether I really need to keep a blurred picture of a pineapple field taken from a moving car, I ran across a lovely note written to my DrH during the last year of medical school. I am going to make a scrapbook for him someday.

"Thank you for the interest you showed in xxx while he was in the hospital. We wish you success in your medical career. We know that it is a long expensive road. Please accept our gift to help with some of your expenses. This is a tax free gift. - Sincerely xxx"

I wish I had written the exact date that we received this wonderful note and check for $1,000. Can you believe that?  At the time we were dumbfounded that someone who had known my DrH for a very short time would be so generous. It doesn't surprise me that they appreciated my DrH's attentive bedside manner, he is truly a great guy. He is the kind of guy that everyone immediately likes, I know I did. The note alone would have been a wonderful gesture. A couple of dollars would have been reason to celebrate. But to give a large sum of money? Who does that?

I shouldn't be surprised. I believe in a God who knows exactly what we need, when we need it. They were our angels. Not the kind with wings that disappear after they have done their work, but living angels who had the thought that this nice young man with a family could use a little help, and then followed through on it. I am trying to exercise a little faith that everything will be OK. We've never been left wanting. Even though it appears that there is no way we are going to finish residency with any cash left in our pocket, somehow, someway, every thing will be just fine.

I am notorious for having a thought about something I should do for someone, a call I should make, a note I should write... and never follow through. I can think of two right now!  I have certainly missed several opportunities to help someone in need or lift a heavy heart. Coming across this letter made me add another resolution to my list: better late than never. Rather than get upset with myself because I didn't do something when I thought of it, I am going to cut myself some slack and do it when I can. Hopefully it will be sooner than later, but doing it later is better than never.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Job Hunting Season

DrH has moved on from hours of endless study to hours of potential job searching.

At the end of PGY5 he started calling recruiters, combing the journals, and testing the waters. It was two years before he would be ready to work and was told that he was 6 - 12 months too early for the jobs they had available and to contact them again in January.

Guess what it is January! My computer history is chock full of "research" the DrH is doing on the different types of practices for his specialty.
  • Private
  • Academic
  • Private/Academic
  • Civilian Military (I didn't even know that was possible)
  • VA Hospital
  • Hospitalist
DrH has a strong interest in research and is doing a fellowship this next year to further that end. But he also wants to operate. So, now the process of weeding through all the available options to see which would balance his desires for research and operating in just the right proportions.

Where do we want to live and raise our family? Well it would be nice if some of those jobs were near our family. But which carries the greater weight? That is easy. After all the time we have spent to make this man a doctor, he better find a job he loves, doing exactly what he wants to do. I don't care where it is. We have been away from our families for so long that it could be anywhere. We will be fine. Our family will be disappointed, but making them happy isn't on our list.

Here is what we have learned about finding a job. (And there will be more lessons learned as we don't have a job just yet).
  1. Your best source of landing a job is knowing the right people. It is a universal truth: it isn't what you know, it's who you know. Either you know them from school, residency, mutual friends, etc. The number of jobs advertised doesn't represent all the job available. Many of those jobs will be filled without the assistance of recruiters. Our program hired one of their residents a few years ago. Many programs do that. It makes sense, you trained them, you know exactly what you are getting. Our group isn't looking for a surgeon and I don't want to stay.
  2. If you don't care where you live there is a job for you! Jobs in cities listed as "the best places to live" rarely have problems finding people to fill their spots. People find them. They have their pick of the litter, and don't require the services of recruiters or advertising.
  3. The best compensation packages often are associated with the least desirable cities. But you do have to live there. Money isn't everything. What may be the least desirable to one, may be the most desirable to another. If only we wanted to live in Fargo North Dakota (no offense to anyone in Fargo, I am sure it is lovely).
On one of our long trips to IKEA to spend money we had a lengthy conversation about compensation. Yes, I am interested in a good package but not for the reason my husband thought. I want to make sure that he is paid commiserate with the sacrifice we have made and with his skills. I want to make sure we are able to pay off our loans before he retirees. I want to make sure we have a standard of living that is comfortable, not crazy luxurious. I want to be able to pay my mortgage, feed my kids, drive a car that works, put my kids through school, take up an interesting hobby, pay someone to take care of the grass, give generously to causes I care about, etc. When it comes down to it, we don't really need that much, and will probably be just fine. After worrying about money for a decade it's hard to not worry about having enough. 

But I also realize that what I think we need doesn't accurately represent what we NEED. We also need to have enough to pay overhead expenses, malpractice insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, life insurance, retirement, taxes, etc. There are so many "other" expenses that will swallow his income. What our family will use will be far less than these other expenses for sure! 

It makes me think of a recent article that was posted about the deception of physician incomes. I have included the link on the left in my interesting articles section, and you can find it here. It compares professions by debt, hours in education, training, expenses, etc that shows that doctors earn only a few dollars more than teachers. After thinking about all our extra expenses - I believe it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Head In The Sand

January is almost over! Usually at this point I have closed the books on the previous year and made a plan for the upcoming year. 24 days into the month of January I have done neither. Very uncharacteristic of me.

I used to think that I was a great multi-tasker. I was wrong. I can multitask items that are working together for the same end but I cannot work on several big items at the same time. Example: I hosted a book club meeting at my house yesterday. Preparing for that event took every ounce of my energy over 4 days. Actually, longer because I wanted to have my bathroom painted before then too.  I couldn't do anything else. Now that is over I can move onto other items on my to do list, like getting my budget ready for the year. I am pretending this nagging task doesn't exist, and it isn't working.

I don't want to look at last year. I don't want to think about this year. I want to keep my head in the sand. I keep peeking in on my checking account to make sure nothing strange is happening, and all is well, but I haven't been taking charge of my budget like I usually do. I will do it today, I promise.

One of the reasons I am not excited about working on it is that so much of our future planning depends on whether or not we can sell our house. I know you are getting tired of hearing my worries, I am sorry. We need to spend money to get it ready... which just reminded me of another reason why I don't want to work on our budget: we blew it this month with two trips to IKEA to get our house looking like a place someone would want to live in and buy. The foreclosed house next to us just sold. It might be good news if it hadn't sold for 40K less than it appraised for just 4 years ago. We've done the math and know what our "number" is that will allow us to walk away with empty hands. If we can't sell it for enough to pay off the mortgage, the realtor, taxes and closing taxes, what will we do then? Do we try to rent it and be out of state landlords? Do we borrow money to pay the difference so we can save our credit which we have protected so diligently? 

In all fairness, things have always worked out. Even as I look at the facts, that on all accounts point to the next few months being really bad for us financially, things have always worked out to be less of a problem than I anticipated. I am hoping and praying that the same is true for this situation.

And sometimes I have to just laugh at the irony that I am married to a doctor! Just for fun I have to laugh out loud, and I do frequently when things are getting sparse and our last few dollars are ready to be spent. I just think to myself "but, I am married to a doctor" and that makes everything better:-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Glimpse of Heaven

Maybe because I have been reading a book on happiness I am paying more attention to the things in my life that bring me the most joy and happiness. For a brief moment today I caught a glimpse of perfect happiness.

The DrH is on call this week and left early this morning for rounds. I stayed in bed until 10:00 reading the previously mentioned book. The kids entertained themselves. He came around lunch time and everyone piled on the couch. DrH trying to nap while the 5 year old was pretend sleeping on top of him. Our 3 year old tucked in by his side. My son was leaning up against me with a book and our 7 month old was in my arms. For 10 minutes we all sat there together. No poking, no crying, no passing gas, no whining, no begging for food... just peace and contentment. How often does that happen for 6 people living in the same house, on the same couch, at the same time? It may never happen again, thus the permanent recording of it here.

I made the mental note that when it comes times to buy a couch I would love to have an over sized sectional where we could all do this a little more comfortably, and hopefully a little more often. Then again, the HGTV dream home had the perfect couch... could it be a sign?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Car vs. Kids

My DrH is a car guy. He loves talking about them, he loves looking at them, he would like me to be a little more excited about cars, etc. However, he is not at all mechanical. He doesn't look at classic cars with longing,  he looks at new cars. The types of cars that you would never work on yourself in a million years. Which is a good thing considering he isn't a mechanic.

He is always telling me about the cars that the attendings are driving. Once he even got to drive one! And recently he told me about the car a resident bought for his wife. She got a new Lexus IS. I don't want one. I do try to be happy for others when good things come their way. And I am. I try to look at what I have, what I want, and what I need through the lens of choices.

I can have a new car OR the kids, but not both. I chose the kids. There will be plenty of time for new cars in the future, but the time for having kids is running out every day. Even on those days when my car is acting up and the kids are too, its nice to remind myself that I have exactly what I wanted.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In The Mail

Most of the time I like checking the mail. I always have hopes that today will be the day that some money will find it's way into my hands. It's possible! I don't even mind getting bills in the mail because I love the process of paying bills and budgeting, most days. I dislike getting junk mail. It feels like a waste of energy, I walked all the way outside in the bitter cold for this?

And then there is mail that I despise above all other: anything from Sallie Mae is bad news. I know that it isn't Sallie Mae's fault that I despise her (funny how that institution has a female name), but she is on the top of my list for all time worst items received in the mail. Maybe I should send them the award.

It is with hesitation and despair that I open the envelope. I know that whatever lies inside will 1) upset the DrH almost as much as it will me, 2) will require hours to fix, if it can be fixed, and 3) will probably come with a price.

Here is an excerpt from the letter with my interpretation of what this letter really says in parenthesis:

Dr. DrH:

Thank you for the opportunity to service your student loan (since when have we really provided adequate service? We make you call our center in another country with representatives who don't speak English and who are not familiar with your training. We know it takes you hours and that we send you to unknown extensions... we have to have some fun) and invest (we like to call you our cash cow, a little insider joke. That's right! We are going to make a BANK off you and all your other doctor friends. You think you are so great and that you have it so hard right now, PAY UP, maybe you shouldn't have gone to medical school) in your potential (you expect me to feel bad for you because why? You are going to be a rich doctor don't talk to me about your little problems). The payment terms for your loan(s) listed below have changed (you thought this was all worked out, sucker, but we like to keep our debtors on edge and under our control. You will never be done with us). Here is your updated payment schedule (have I upset you now? Good, my job here is done!)

They are asking for another $100 a month starting in February, and then it will go to $166.82 next year. We will be in the middle of Fellowship still and this is only for 1 of the dozen or so loans they service for us. Three of which we have been paying on for a year to the tune of $230 a month. Now it will be $330!

Have I mentioned that we started this whole journey under the assumption that ALL our medical school loans would be deferred during residency. Guess what? They aren't. My dear sweet friends who are in long residencies (and by long, I mean anything over 4 years) BEWARE!!!! Apparently, not all loans can be deferred for the same amount of time depending on whether they are Federal Subsidized, Unsubsidized, or Private. Some can be deferred indefinitely, some cannot. We obviously have some that cannot be deferred past 4 years and 6 months from graduation of medical school.

I do not like the fact that we had to borrow money for medical school. But who can actually afford to pay for it. I suppose it you finished undergrad and then went to work in a high paying job for the next 5-10 years and saved up $250,000 you could pay for it. Assuming you didn't get married, have children, or do anything other than save every dollar than came your way. Or maybe you have wealthy parents with an extra quarter million dollars that they don't need. I would love to meet someone who actually paid their way through medical school without help from a parent, grandparent, or student loans. I don't think they exist! We are left with no options but to finance a medical education that continues to get more expensive and yet doesn't offer the salaries and respect it once did.

And we are the lucky ones. We were in medical school (2001-2006) when student loan rates were reasonably low. The one I am looking at right now is at 2.75%. Friends of ours have the same loan with rates now above 5%. The student loan companies are setting all medical students up for personal financial ruin before they even make a dollar in their profession.

Perhaps what bothers me most about receiving these letters asking for more of our money that we don't have, is that the money we send doesn't even move the principal balance. That's right. We just got our tax statement from Sallie Mae and this year we have paid $2,370.89 in interest and that is exactly the amount we have sent them. Our principal balance is untouched, and has probably increased because the unpaid interest, which I am sure there was some, has been capitalized. I am in no mood to find out by how much, but I will!

If by some miracle a tragic mistake has been made in their system and it is determined that we do not need to make payments I will retract my statements. We know how likely that will be.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dream Home - HGTV

Did you see this years HGTV Dream Home? If you haven't, don't look now and certainly don't enter. The fewer people enter the better my chances are of winning!

The DrH and I watched it a couple of nights ago, and with a boyish grin whispered to me that he had already entered us. Then I reminded him that he can do it twice every day:-) So we are crossing our fingers. Really, we know our chances of winning anything are about zero. But as the lottery slogan says, "you can't win, if you don't play". Well we don't gamble, including lottery tickets, so we never play and thus never win. That way we also never lose.

But back to the house. It is outside Park City, UT. I am not from Utah, but how could you not love those mountains! I am not a particularly outdoorsy kind of girl, but I could try.... all I could see was open spaces and clear skies. And it is close enough to city entertainment and shopping, which one day I hope to partake of in whatever city we live in. And the home was gorgeous! They called it a modern ranch.

Just about any home with a big kitchen island gets my heart going pitter-patter. Our kitchen right now is so small that I can sit at the table and open the refrigerator to get the milk. It is so small that when everyone is seated at the table there isn't room to walk between the table and refrigerator unless you turn sideways and scoot through. Having anyone over for dinner is like being in a circus routine.

Watching this show with my DrH reminded me of a conversation we had on a long car ride this weekend. Getting a job will be kind of like winning the lottery. I don't want to make the same mistakes that most lottery winners make! Yes, I want a nice home, but how will I know what nice is? (Thank heavens for HGTV to show me the way). I will think anything better than what we have will be amazing. I told him that when we finally do get a paycheck I don't want to rush into buying a home. I want to take my time and see everything that is out there.  My DrH concern is that I won't allow us to spend money and that we'll be living in a rental, shopping at garage sales and clearance racks! Those habits have been deeply entrenched and after nearly a decade of surviving from one paycheck to the next it will be quite a different feeling to have a little more to work with.

Whether I win the HGTV Dream Home, or just spend the next several years thinking about my own dream home - it's nice to have a dream that one day may become a reality.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I have finally been able to get my wedding ring back on my finger! It has been over 9 months since I could get it on and off easily. My DrH had noticed its absence and pleaded for me to get it sized. I refused, knowing that when the baby weight all came off (and it would) that it would fit right once again. I wore it yesterday for the first time. It was only for a few hours and it easily came off without the help of Windex. That is a great sign, it means that I am back.

While I was pregnant I didn't like going out in public with three children and no ring on my finger. Not that anyone would have looked at me and suspected that I had these children out of wedlock, but I wanted to display that fact that I was married. So I picked up a cheap costume wedding ring at a department store. The kind of ring I would have picked out if money were no object. It was a classic round fake diamond, probably 1.5 - 2 carats with 2 small marquis fake diamonds on the side. It was very pretty.

I am ashamed to admit that I got used to the size and feel of it. I loved the way it looked especially when I paired it with a fake diamond channel set band. It was truly beautiful. After the baby was born that ring eventually started to feel to large on my finger so I have gone without for the last few months.

Putting on my real wedding ring and band was nice, but it felt so small. When we got engaged DrH was in his 3rd year of medical school. I knew he didn't have any money, and suggested that he just get me a band. That it wasn't necessary that I have an engagement ring. Of course, he didn't listen to me. He purchased a lovely round solitaire in a white gold setting. I loved it. It is less than .75 carats. When I had the ring taken in to be sized after he gave it to me the lady at the jewelry store told me that she remembered this man and that I was lucky to have him. She told me that in his price range he could have picked out a bigger diamond with more flaws but choose the one that he did because it was the most perfect, just like me.

Over the years I have thought about this engagement ring, that even with the diamond wedding band doesn't make a carat. Would I ever want to trade up, and get a larger diamond? I don't believe that I would. This diamond will always be a reminder of where we were, what we had, and that getting married at the right time for us was more important than the size of ring he could afford at the time. The size of the diamond doesn't indicate the depth of devotion. The diamond will remind me that my husband chose quality over quantity and that I am perfect for him just as he is perfect for me. The ring will serve as my compass reminding me where we have been and that where we are going doesn't matter as long as we are together.

I do like diamonds, so I hope some stud earrings are in my future some day! Those diamonds can remind me of something else altogether different:-)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gold Stars

I am in the middle of reading a book, otherwise known as ignoring the house projects I have going on at the moment and trying to forget that I have to do them in the first place!

Have you ever read a book and thought that the author had climbed inside your head and knew exactly what you were thinking? It happened for the first time with this book: "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. Although, it might as well be written by me .... she and I are like the same person (but we aren't). I highly recommend her book and a peek at her blog http://www.happiness-project.com/

The premise of the book is her search for more happiness over 12 months in the tradition of Eat, Pray, Love - only she does it all from her own home, because isn't that where we all live anyway. She reads all the literature on the subject and composes her strategy by theme/month and then sets out to see if it really does make her happier..

Her goals for January are some of mine: go to sleep earlier, exercise better, organize, etc. And we have similar goals for the other months too! As I am reading I stumbled across something that summed up some of my experiences with this medical journey that seems to never end. It is the concept of Gold Stars. I like the sound of that much more than martyrdom.

Every now and again (probably more often that I admit) I just want someone to come along and say "hey, you are doing a great job" or "wow, you are amazing", or "I don't know how you do it", or any number of phrases that basically say that same thing. Don't get me wrong, people do say it. You say it. People who really know very little about me, other than I am married to a resident, say it. I am looking for the people that I love to say it. I am looking for my parents, my in-laws, my siblings, to give me some credit. Just writing that makes me feel a tad self-absorbed, I don't think I am. Those little gold stars are like fuel for my engine. But, unlike a car I am not going to broadcast when my tank is running empty. I am not going to ask for gold stars, or even tell anyone I know that I need them. I don't do what I do for the gold stars, I just wish they came more often to help lift my spirits.

And then the moment comes when I realize I do not do a very good job of handing out those gold stars myself. If I know how good they feel to receive them, why don't I give them out more often. I can't remember the last time I gave one to my husband or my children. I am not the only one making sacrifices, they are too!

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for leaving your comments. Thank you for sharing this part of my life with me, a complete stranger. Thank you for what you share with me through your own blogs. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone. I think you are amazing. I don't know how you do it, but it is easier for me knowing that you do. I appreciate you. I value your virtual friendship.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mood Altering Behaviors

One of the personal improvement items I was going to work on this new year was my anger management. I'm not crazy angry. And maybe angry isn't the right emotion to describe how I am feeling. Rattled? Explosive? Stretched? The funny thing is that these emotions are not directed at my husband, they are at my kids. The DrH is like my Valium (if only I could get him to prescribe me something). When he gets home I mellow out. When he isn't home I am busy trying to get things done. With 4 kids I am plenty busy, but not much is getting done. Example: I am painting the bathroom (after repainting the ceiling). It took all day to paint a bathroom! It shouldn't have taken 8 hours to paint, but I was trying to paint and be mom. Kids need feeding, naps, movies changed, attention. It is so frustrating feeling like I can't devote all my attention to one task - ever. And the bathroom isn't really done, I need to to the second coat on two walls. Today it might get that paint, but it won't really be done for a few more days. Hardware to install, shower curtain to put up, mirrors to  install, a bathroom closet to organize. It is coming together, slowly.

Because we are getting our house "in order" to sell, I have a house that is in chaos while I try to establish order. We have had boxes all over for the last two weeks, two bathrooms in various stages of improving, piles of things to donate and sell. I don't live well under circumstances such as this. It is not good for my psyche. I love organization, predictability, serenity, timeliness, quiet. I need to get this house organized and presentable so I can function properly. There are only 3 places in our home that are "perfect" right now, and they are all closets. The linen closet, the coat closet, and my closet. Periodically, I just open one of the closets and take in their order and neatness and then try to tell myself that soon enough the entire place will be in order again. Every mess I make brings me closer to that day. I wish I had a week just to myself. I know I could get this done and be done. Instead I know it is going to take much longer.

I've previously admitted that my mood is also altered by significant holidays (Christmas, Valentines, Anniversary, etc) and by upcoming life changes. We are approaching the moment we have been waiting for: residency will be over in 5 1/2 months. Granted there is a fellowship to start/finish, but we are nearing the sunset of this period of our life. It is like we have spent the last 5 1/2 years waiting so everything could happen in these last 6 months. Everything. We need to sell a house, find a rental in another state, find the "real" job. It's coming. It is going to happen. What used to be just a dream of what would be is now coming, and fast!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Surgeon, Not Painter

My husband is a surgeon, not a painter.

Every time we embark on a painting project I have to tell myself (silently) that it will need to be done twice. The first time my DrH will do it, thinking that he is contributing and doing me a favor. The second time I will do it while he is at work and fix all the mistakes and tell him what a great job he did.

We are in the process of making our 1970's bathroom look more modern using only paint and a new shower curtain, because that is all the budget can afford and even that is a stretch. One of the most dramatic ways to make an old room look new again is to paint the ceiling. You would be surprised at how dingy a ceiling can get, and you only notice how bad it is when you put up new white ceiling paint. It looks great, except for those spots that DrH missed that I now need to go back and correct.

I try to remember that he is a competent person and hold my tongue when I want to tell him how to do things. I made a subtle suggestion last night while he was painting to try to get closer to the edges that he already cut in. He told me he thought those places had already dried and that is why the color looked a little off. OK. I also try to remember that he has significantly less experience with paint than I do. I remind myself that his last painting project (our bedroom closet that has been a pink color for 5.5  years) did turn out well, and I wasn't too concerned because most of the wall space would be covered up with clothes and boxes. Deep breaths.

Now I need to go back into that bathroom and take care of all the spots he missed, and while I am there I might as well just paint the entire ceiling one more time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A 3 "P" Weekend

DrH took the entire week off from his real job to work hard at home. The list was long, and after it became apparent that a week isn't going to make much of a dent we didn't work nearly as hard. The man needs to rest on his vacation too, a fact I failed to include in my planning. We even made time for a trip to Chicago. More specifically to IKEA. A trip to IKEA is what we call a little vacation. That is just a sad commentary on where we are at this point in our adventure. The kids were less than thrilled when upon our arrival the waiting time for the 3 of our children to gain entrance to their Smalland (what we refer to as free Disneyland - they don't know the difference) was an hour! We couldn't just go and then come back in a hour, we would have to wait right there for an hour for 3 spots to open up. No waiting list... just waiting. So they didn't get to go, and we heard about the unfairness of that reality the entire trip. I would have thought the ice cream cones would have fixed it, but our son still reminds us that we didn't buy him anything for Christmas. Technically, his is right. I wonder if he would believe that we had to lend Santa the money for the Xbox?

1 P - Projects. That is what we spent the weekend doing: organizing, donating, clearing, cleaning, painting ceilings, painting closets (because ours was still pink from the previous owners), picking out paint for the bathroom, thinking about what else needs to be painted, and smelling paint fumes. As I look over the items that still need to be finished I realize that having kids also means constantly fixing up your house. Take a look at these action items for my daughters room.

  • Replace room darkening shades that the girls shredded.
  • Fix curtain rod that is being pulled out of the wall by little people who pull on their curtain. Are they trying to climb?
  • Attempt washing walls again to remove graffiti, buy Kilz if necessary.
  • Repair hole in dry wall where the door knob has been shoved into the wall.
No one would ever believe that my sweet, cute little girls could be capable of so much destruction.

2 P - Puke. To celebrate our achievements over the week, those of us who contributed went out and left those that didn't at home with a babysitter (yeah, we worked hard), pizza, and root beer. Dinner, Target and grocery shopping = hot date. Our son apparently ate half a pizza and who knows how much root beer. He came out of her room as we got home jumping up and down excitedly. As I was paying the sitter (painful) He puked all over the floors we had just cleaned. I believe they were clean (as in treated/cleaned, not just vacuumed) for 4 hours. He wasn't sick, he just ate too much and made himself sick. He is fine, don't feel sorry for him - feel sorry for my carpets and for DrH who had to clean it up.

3 P - Pee. What would a "vacation" be without it? The girls were running around today in their tutus and ballet costumes (can't afford the lessons, but we get to keep the costumes) and having a good time when we hear screaming coming form the bathroom. The kind of screaming that makes you think of large amounts of blood. Turns out it was just the screams of a 3 year old who wasn't able to get her costume off before having an accident soaking her ballet outfit and ballet shoes. Luckily, she screamed for her dad (a benefit of having DrH home all week) and he cleaned that mess up too.

Now the "vacation" is over and DrH gets to go back to work and I get to continue my never ending work here. I am so looking forward to living in a rented apartment with only the necessities for a year and I hope that something breaks so I can smile when I call the office and ask for it to be fixed. Please will someone fix something for me without sending me the bill!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Resolutions 2012

I don't really care for resolutions. Why? Because I feel intense pressure to do them all perfectly, all of the time. In truth I can only do everything perfectly for one day... and I did. It's that darn second day that gets me! So I started the year perfectly and after only one day feel like a failure. And that is why I don't care for resolutions.

This year I can't  join the millions of others who want to lose weight because by the miracle that I call breast feeding I made it through the holidays, took a month off from the gym and still lost 5 lbs. I am enjoying this period of my life immensely! Just thinking about how I can live on cookies alone and still drop the pounds is something that only happens a few times in ones life. This may be the last time for me so I am going to relish every cookie. On second, thought I am going to make that my New Years Resolution so I can cross it off the list as being completed with amazing results!

The resolution that I made for myself is pretty broad and then I narrowed it down a little. I want to be less angry in 2012. I know that I am. I am feeling the stress of 5 1/2 years of residency, our home that we need to sell at a potential loss, finding a new place to live in a new state, etc. I am angry that we've done everything right and it doesn't seem like the world has delivered on it's promises. I know that is silly because I never had a contract with the world. But that doesn't change the fact that I have been angry, and I don't want to spend the next 6 months angry. I am assuming that when residency is over and we move that will go away on it's own.

I am worn down, that is the bottom line. So in 2012 I am going to try to take better care of myself and not let the worry defeat me. The first step in taking better care of myself is getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier. I did that perfectly for one night and then last night... well that's in the past. Tonight I will try again. By earlier I am talking 9:30 pm. I need my sleep. I have a baby who is still waking up in the night to eat, and kids that wake up earlier than I would like. My goal is to eventually be up in the morning before they are. I don't want to, but I think it would help me feel like I am starting the day on my own terms instead of being pulled out of bed by kids. We'll see how that goes.

First things first, I need to go to bed earlier. I am doing it for my DrH too. I like staying up and talking with him, but he gets even less sleep than I do and I need to help him sleep!

So that's what I've got so far. Oh, and getting this house sold:-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

For fear of repeating myself too often let me summarize my post with the following keywords: drunks, sleepless nights and naked party. I have your attention now don't I?

It's was New Years Eve last night and DrH was on call. It started out fairly slow and we had dinner together as a family and then he left to do rounds and admit a patient or two. DrH was back home at 9:30 pm and we were in bed by 10:30. I remember hearing the pager, but that is all. When I woke up at 3:00 am he wasn't in bed and I checked my phone and found a message saying he would just be staying at the hospital all night. It was that bad.

Apparently on his way to the ER at around midnight he saw people stumbling out of parties knowing that he would be greeted with a room full of drunks. Some who had fallen down, some who had been in car accidents, some who were in bar fights, you get the general idea.

I don't drink. And it's not like I need any additional reasons to avoid the beverage. I hate knowing that the reason I don't get to spend New Years Eve with my husband, even if we would have gone to bed early like the old people we are, is because some people aren't responsible. I think it shows a great amount of disrespect to get drunk. First, disrespecting yourself, those you are with, and those who will need to provide care for you when you do something stupid. I would never do that to another person. But that's just me. I have a hard time believing that getting drunk is so great to be worth all the headaches. If you are going to drink, please just be responsible and leave me and my family out of it.

So the DrH didn't get any sleep last night. It is 2:20 pm and he is snoring in bed next to me. Before the snoring starting there was a little naked party. I know this is why you continued to read. So when DrH came home at 1:00 pm we had lunch and then got ready to take a "nap". It is Sunday afternoon and the kids and I had already been to church, this is what we do on Sunday. By the way our church starts at 9:00 am now. I am not a fan. I have been up since 6:45 am getting myself and 4 kids ready so we could get there on time. I am tired too.

Oh, the naked party. Well, that is what my son calls it. Yep, my child is going to be scarred for life. I asked my DrH if the door was locked, he assured me it was even after I asked "are you sure". He still swears it was, but I believe I am correct in saying that if it were locked our nearly 7 year old son would not have been able to open the door. I was hoping that he only saw his naked father getting ready to lay down for a nap by himself. I would be wrong. Apparently, he saw me too. Great! Little boys have a way of remembering things like that (as do grown men)!

A short while later I walked in on my three children having their own naked party, apparently inspired by what my son saw. He and his two sisters were running around in their underwear, thankfully not naked. When Ethan told me they were having a naked party I tried to play dumb and ask what he was talking about when he told me what he saw. That immediately got the attention of my 3 year-old who went running upstairs to see if DrH was still naked. I know it happens to everyone... or so they say. I have never walked in on my parents. My husband has never walked in on his parents. And our son has now walked in on us twice!

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Years. 2012 is going to be exciting!