Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And The Winner IS.....

The giveaway closed last night at 11:59 pm PST. I told you the odds were really good, I just didn't realize how good they would be:-)

Congratulations Lindsey!

I was concerned about how I would select a winner, but in the end we did it the old fashioned way. This morning I wrote the names of everyone who made a comment on a piece of paper and let my 7 year old draw the winner - it was excitement for everyone (and very scientific)!

(The above was made with their software too - they have the best layouts already made, just add text and/or pictures!)

If you were the winner you will be contacted by e-mail with your FREE code to download the award winning software.

If you weren't selected as the winner, you can still be a winner - everyone gets a $10 off promo code for the purchase of the software plus a $10 off coupon to use at the My Memories online store. It is a great offer, and the next best thing to free. Use the Promo code:  STMMMS37585. I recommend copying and pasting:-)

Thank you so much for playing along and thank you to my new friends at My Memories, you have a wonderful product that I am happy to share. It has been fun, and a nice distraction for me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ends Tonight at 11:59 PST

I am giddy with excitement. Today is the last day to enter my first (but hopefully not only) giveaway.

So how do you enter?

1. Visit
2. Browse their collection of digital papers or layouts.
3. Leave a comment on this blog with your favorite item before 11:59 pm PST on 2/28/2012
4. Check this blog. Winner will be announced on 2/29/2012
5. If you are the lucky winner, you will receive a special code for a free download copy of My Memories Digital Software by email.

Our winner will be randomly selected from those who have made comments and will be contacted to redeem their free download.  Remember even if you don't win, you can still purchase the software at a significant savings and receive a $10 off coupon code for their online digital store. See my original post for more details.

Best of Luck!

Monday, February 27, 2012

This Weekends Musings

Has the price of gas suddenly spiked in your area too? When I bought gas last week it was $3.49 and now it is $3.79. That recent increase in gas got me thinking. (I can't help myself).

I remember during our internship year specifically, staying home for what felt like the entire year. I noticed something, that is probably just common sense to everyone else: every time I left the house I was spending money. I am not talking about getting in the car and going somewhere TO spend money in exchange for goods/services. I am talking about every time I turned the engine over I was spending money.

No longer was just going for a drive a free way to pass time, it was money that we were literally burning without receiving anything in return. When I did venture out it was never to only one place. I have noticed as our children have increased in number, and we have a small baby, that it is more difficult to do more than one thing with each outing, but I still try to make every trip count. DrH even helps by calling on his way home from work to see if we need anything from the grocery store. Anything to avoid getting in the car when it isn't absolutely necessary. 

When I think about the particular cost of things I also use the amount of gas in my equation. For example we have a family membership at the local gym about 7 miles from our home. Our membership fee is $58/month. And we use every penny of that and then some! They offer free fitness classes, free swimming lessons for the kids, and 2.5 hours of free babysitting every day. Of course, I don't actually use all that time every day, but when mama needs a break it's nice to know I have somewhere to go. But in going to the gym I am spending money in the getting there that makes my gym membership more around the $85/month mark if I only go 3 times a week. Some months I go more often, making it more expensive. I think I just successfully talked myself out of working out!

When thinking about a home to rent (or purchase, if you must) consider the cost savings that will come by living in a location that is convenient to the hospital, a grocery store, a gym, the library, your church, and any other establishment you believe you will visit often. 

Living close to these amenities will enrich your life in two ways. One, you will spend less time in a car getting to were you need to go. This could be particularly important for your DrH who will be tired and your family who will want to squeeze every available minute out of your time together. Two, you maximize your dollars. Every dollar you don't spend in getting somewhere is another dollar you have to spend on something you might need or save for something you will need (and you will need something that even your best budget will not predict).

When the gases prices move like they have recently it makes establishing and sticking to a budget more difficult if you do a lot of driving. By living close to the services you use the fluctuations in gas price won't hurt nearly as much. You might also be able to have just one car further adding to your savings, by not needing to insure a second vehicle.

Some fuel for thought: when we started internship/residency the cost of gas was $2.59/gal. Today's gas price of $3.79 represents a difference of $1.20. It may not seem like a lot but multiple that by the 80 gallons of gasoline we consume between our two vehicles and it represents an extra $96/month that we weren't spending in 2006. That is some significant cash.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Can't Read That

It is true what they say about doctors handwriting.... it is impossible to read. I know they write a lot. I know they write quickly. But even before my DrH had the Dr. part his handwriting was atrocious. I wonder if there is some correlation between having bad penmanship and potential? Does chicken scratch indicate some particular type of aptitude for the study of science/medicine? As a child did he know he wanted to be a doctor so he purposefully didn't pay attention when they were teaching and learning to write the alphabet?

Today my DrH called and asked me to pull a paper out of his suit coat pocket that had a number on it. Did he really expect me to be able to read it? With some practice I have been able to figure out the nuances in his numeric and letter formations. It still doesn't make any sense to me, but I am getting better at it. On top of that he write rather small and the letters are all the same size, regardless of whether it is an "a" or a "b"making it that much more difficult when the letters don't extend.

Several years ago he filled out a form that needed his social security number. He wrote his number, but there is a problem if you are the only person who can read it. Not surprisingly, the person who needed the number read it wrong, and documented it wrong. (It wasn't their fault). My DrH makes his 7's look like 2's, I can't even explain exactly how, but it is almost as if he puts a cross through it like you would for an "f". And there are other weird looking characters. I say I am getting better, but it is still difficult.

Now when there is paperwork to fill out I make sure that I do it and then he can sign it. I feel bad for anyone who has to attempt to read his handwriting. It looks beautiful from a distance, but if it has to be read I will apologize for him. It is BAD, but it is most certainly a doctor's hand.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Home For Sale

I have been slightly preoccupied the last few weeks. We put our house on the market and have already had 6 showings, mostly in the first few days, and no offers. But it is getting lots of hit, and we are happy to have any showings at all. What originally started out as worry that we wouldn't sell our house has turned to worry that we might sell it too soon. I like to worry, can you tell?

We started looking at options should we sell faster than anticipated. The hospital has two houses that they use for rotating medical students, but not too many rotate in the late spring, so that may be an option. The hospital also has discounted rates for corporate suites. I don't know that they will have anything larger than 2 bedrooms for our family of 6, but they might.

Here is hoping that someone will like my house enough to buy it. And preferably that they will make an offer on April 20th with a 45 day close so we can avoid having to move twice within 4 months. I ask for a lot, don't I?

To promote the current giveaway (which I hope you will consider entering here) I created this post card (all by myself from scratch) in honor of my "home sweet home" for sell.  You can do all kinds of things with a My Memories Digital Suite download. I know you want one. The best part is it is FREE (if you enter and win)!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giveaway - My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software

So how do you enter?

1. Visit
2. Browse their collection of digital papers or layouts.
3. Leave a comment on this blog with your favorite item before 11:59 pm PST on 2/28/2012
4. Check this blog. Winner will be announced on 2/29/2012
5. If you are the lucky winner, you will receive a special code for a free download copy of My Memories Digital Software by email.

I started scrapbooking in 2005 after my son was born. More specifically after my mother in law started purchasing scrapbooking supplies for me. Since then my collection of all things scrapbooking related has grown from a pile that could fit in a shoe box to an entire linen closet in our house. But ask me how often I actually get to pull the stuff out to make something, anything. I'll tell you how often... just about never. First, I don't have a place to do it. We'll I have a kitchen table, but we need to eat there. Second, I have small children who are constantly trying to "help me". And third, just thinking about getting everything out where I can see it is cause for anxiety. It is sad but true.

I have good intentions of getting all caught up. I am only several years behind and now that we are in the "keep the house spotless" mode until it is sold, that stuff isn't going to see the light of day for a few more months if not years. Because really, am I going to unpack it all just for a year when I haven't used it this year? Probably not.

Welcome to the digital age! My Memories Digital Scrapbooking is an fast and easy way to get those scrapbooks finished. And make cards, and calendars, and interactive dvd's, and gifts for the grandparents all without taking up space in my closet, on my kitchen table, or within reach of tiny hands. I have also used digital software to create blog headers for my family blog, made birthday invitations and thank you cards. You can do just about anything with digital software, it isn't just for scrapbooks - but you can do that too!

This is an example of one of their layouts. I just added my pictures and text. Their designers are really good - but you could create your own unique design using digital software.

I am going to make some assumptions here: your pictures are on your computer just like mine. Traditional scrapbooking says that I need to have those pictures printed before I can do anything with them. When is the last time you uploaded photos to be printed?  Digital scrapbooking says I can keep my digital photos digital. I can use one and then change my mind. I can try any number of layouts without commitment (glue). I can work for 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. And lets be honest, that is about how much time I have. When is the last time you had an hour or two block of time to make a mess and then clean up? Have I made my point?

I received a copy of My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software to try out and review. And I love it! To be fair I have used another version of digital software before and I find it very similar. By similar I mean completely intuitive. You don't have to be "trained" or "shown" how to use it. You download it and you are ready to go!

The best part is that you can create an entire album (or any project really) in just a few minutes thanks to their pre-designed templates that are really cute! The projects in this post I created in less than 5 minutes, all three in the same 5 minutes. It is really that fast and that easy! This post took longer to write than that.

Did I mention digital scrapbooking is also an affordable way to save your memories. No more buying supplies you may never need, no more buying accessories that turn out not to be what you wanted, no more taking up valuable space, the list goes on.

So how do you enter again?

1. Visit
2. Browse their collection of papers or templates.
3. Leave a comment on this blog with your favorite item before 11:59 pm PST on 2/28/2012
4. Winner will be announced on 2/29/2012
5. Winner will receive a special code for a free copy of My Memories Digital Software by email.

It couldn't be easier. Start browsing now!

I hope that you will enter to win this great digital software. Even if you don't want to enter we have a great offer for those who are interested in purchasing the software or some digital content to use with your digital software. Use this link to get $10 off your purchase and another $10 off digital content purchase from their store by using this code: STMMMS37585. I recommend copying and pasting:-)

Disclosure: I received a copy of My Memories Digital Software free in exchange for my review. But it really is good and our winner will get a free copy too!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My First Giveaway!!!!

A reader recently approached me about hosting a give away on my blog. In the beginning I was hesitant to venture into that particular side of blogging, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I have a great group of readers and I would love to do something for them. It's nice to do nice things for other people. Just thinking about it makes me feel good. And everybody loves free stuff (at least I do), and who better to receive some free stuff than women (I guess men could read this) who are either living this, survived this, getting ready to do this, or maybe just interested in what it is we "doctor wives" do.

So tomorrow starts the beginning of what I hope to be many more give aways. I have no idea how often I will host one. I have no idea what the next one will be. It could be fun, or it could be a bust. Let's just give it a try and see. Special notice to my faithful readers.... there aren't very many of you so your odds of winning are really good:-). I hope you will enter.

Check back tomorrow to see what you could win and rules for playing. I am so excited! I hope you are too!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Free Medical Advice

When people find out that your spouse is a medical student/resident/fellow/attending they assume that they know everything about everything. No, you laugh, but it is true.

The first time my then boyfriend (later to be DrH) was introduced to members of my family they suddenly felt compelled to share their medical history and current ailments with him. In our church congregations the same thing has happened. He gets approached by people that he doesn't even know very well, but who know him, asking for his advice on medical issues they have. 

My DrH is very generous and kind, he takes all of their questions in stride. He has had the opportunity to help steer friends to the right doctors, visit friends/acquaintances in the hospital, provide reassurance to their family and friends, and to be a friendly face in the business of medicine.

Last night as I conducted my weekly phone visit with my parents my mother said "when your dad gets home you or your husband need to talk to him about finishing his course of antibiotics. He only took two, and thinks he doesn't need to take anymore."

That exchange reminded me of all the other questions he has been faced with:
  • I have had this pain in my back for the last couple of years, what do you think it could be?
  • Every time I swallow I feel a little sting, any ideas?
  • I have this spot on my skin that is always a little dry and scratchy. What should I put on it?
  • Have you ever heard of ????
  • What do you think of Dr X?
  • I have seen several doctors and no one can figure out what is wrong with me. What is your experience with X?
  • Who is the best X?
  • My son has a rash that won't go away, how should we treat it?
  • I need a prescription for x, can you get it for me? (NO)
  • Is it normal to have x?
  • I have a strange sensation in my x, should I see a doctor about that?
  • I had blood work done today and my x was x, should I be worried?
  • What do you think of this x diet?
  • If this were you, what would you do?
Because DrH is "a doctor" (it didn't matter at what stage of his training) people just assumed that he would have the answer to anything. And because he is such a good guy, if he didn't know and thought it was something worth looking into - he would and get back to them all in the name of gaining experience.

But my favorite response to those with questions is "come over about 5:00, I'll get the butter knife sharpened and we can take care of it then". No one really wants anything done, they just want to talk about it. That seems to be a portion of a doctors job, listening.

He has gotten used to all the questions. Me, I still think it is weird. But on the other hand being married to a doctor has made me a bit of a hypochondriac. I routinely tell DrH about a pain I am having in my head just in case he comes home and finds me passed out on the floor - he will know where to look first:-)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Windows of Heaven Opened

I have contemplated this particular post for several days. I have thought about it in the middle of the night. I have thought about how to share this with my family and my friends. And I have thought about how ungrateful it would be of me to keep this to myself after I have shared all of our trials and tribulations with you.

In the end I have decided to share it in the same straightforward and detailed manner I have shared the rest of my experiences over the last several months. And if you have been reading from the beginning you will remember some of our hurdles and obstacles over this last year. The same things that drove me to start this blog in the first place! Of all the years we have been married there are two that were unquestionably the most difficult. Our internship year (PGY1), and this year - our last year of residency (PGY6).

At the end of every year as we prepare our taxes I look at our statements. I look at our budget. I look at our charitable donations and wonder why are we sharing what little we have with others when it is obvious that we have legitimate needs. The majority of the time I give with a willing heart, grateful that I have something to give. Then I see the totals for the year my mind immediately calculates what we could have done if we would have never given it.

There is a scripture in the Old Testament that I have been familiar with for years but have never felt so personally.... until now.

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it". - Malachi 3:10

I do believe in giving. I believe in God. I believe that we are blessed when we give. There are defining moments that mark a persons life and today I can think of three of them: the day I married my husband, the day I became a mother, and the day that the windows of heaven were opened and poured out blessings upon my little family. I will remember this year for the rest of my life.

The FIRST Miracle
It was about this time last year that my husband was in the middle of pursuing a fellowship. That wasn't in the plan when we started, and the thought of adding one more year to the six we already were doing caused me great stress. Adding another year was the equivalent of forfeiting a few hundred thousand dollars in exchange for another year of sacrifice. That's a big deal. His student loan payments were just starting and represented a car payment at precisely the same time we needed to save money for a baby and house expenses and maybe even a car. My DrH knew what he was asking of me, and I knew that I didn't have a choice. The sub-specialty he wanted to pursue required a fellowship, and no amount of money would be worth asking my husband to settle for something less. 

DrH had decided on three very competitive programs. Secretly, I prayed that he wouldn't get any interviews and we could start looking for a job. He could say he tried but it wasn't meant to be. By the middle of April he had his first interview with his first choice program. Then my prayers changed that if he should get a fellowship that it would at least be in my first choice state. A month later we had received an acceptance letter from his first choice program and my first choice state. But that isn't the only miracle. The program usually has 50+ applicants for only 4 spots. This year the applicant pool dropped significantly and they took on 5 fellows instead of 4.  It's impossible to know if he was the 5th accepted, but it is very likely.

The SECOND Miracle
This summer we also had our fourth child. Having children during our residency has been a very expensive adventure. Not so much in the caring and feeding of them that happens gradually, but of the medical bills that accompany them at birth. Our first child was born before residency. The two children we had during residency had out of pocket expenses of at least $2,500 each (c-sections). This baby would now be born under a new insurance policy that the hospital had adopted which had a deductible of $3,200 and then a 10% payment of services received. I was anticipating a bill of about $4-5K. We had saved about $2,000 and thought we would have enough by the time the bills started coming in. 

Well, the bills came and we started paying, praying that somehow we would have enough. When we received the bill for the OB/GYN's services my jaw dropped. It was for $2,682.59, and that was just for her, not the operating room, the anesthesiologist, pediatrician services, or the hospital stay. I was beyond depressed with our current financial situation. In trying to figure out how would we pay our bills our options were quickly running out. We thought about asking our parents (which we have never done - we were that desperate) but my DrH's parents had just purchased a home that their daughter would be renting from them. In doing so they cashed out a big portion of their retirement accounts for a huge down payment and we frequently heard how they were scrimping to put it together in time for closing.  My father had just retired and they were adjusting to living on a reduced income. Neither of our parents are well-off enough to have money to throw around (although I would hope they would know that we would be good for it soon enough).

Our next option was to start begging. At least that is what it felt like to me, so I made my husband do it. We decided to approach our OB/GYN about reducing our portion of the bill. We had delivered all three of our "residency" children with her and had previously paid the full portion of her bills. My husband had rotated with her during his internship year. We felt like we knew her well enough and that she knew us well enough to ask. I still feel embarrassed about it, that's why DrH had to do it. She was kind enough to accept $682.59 as our payment in full and waived $2,000 for us. When it was all said and done we were able to pay the remainder of our medical expenses with what we had saved.

The THIRD Miracle
After the baby, our savings account had now been wiped out and we still needed to fix a few things on our house, namely replacing a cracked and sinking driveway, before it would be ready to sell and we were running out of time. We have a deadline of July 1st for moving and need to have it ready to sell before spring. Winter was on it's way and for concrete to cure properly it needs to go down before the snow. We had a contractor come out and give us an estimate the end of September of $3,500. It had to be done, but we didn't have the money - again.

My husband is part of the Army Reserves Medical Corp. Part of his compensation is a monthly stipend, and another is in the form of compensation for hours served in qualifying activities, not necessarily military related. Each month from March - September he had submitted invoices that hadn't been processed. The payments were finally processed and received in the middle of October for the sum of $3,500. We had the concrete poured two weeks later.

The FOURTH Miracle
The first week in December we meet with a realtor to discuss selling our home. That is when she told us that we had over-improved our home (I still disagree). Perhaps it was a mistake to buy a/this home in the first place. At the time it felt like the right thing to do, and maybe it was, but it has been an expensive adventure. I told the realtor about everything we had done to the house (roof, driveway, appliances, hot water heater, a/c unit, garage door, soffits, seamless gutters, etc). The major things totaled $17,000. At the time we spent the money on the house all indications suggested that we would see a large portion of that returned in the sale price. Now we were being told that those improvements wouldn't change the price of our home, but may help it sell faster.

Prior to this meeting I had worked my own numbers to determine at what price we would have to sell at in order to not write a check to the bank (meaning that the difference between the sell price and the equity we had would pay the realtor, fees, taxes). That number was $135,000. It would represent taking a loss of about $40,000  in equity and improvements). I was hoping that we would be able to sell the house for exactly what we purchased it for six years ago, $145,000. That would give us enough money to close, plus enough to move. If we couldn't get back everything we put in, getting a little was my new best case scenario. That wasn't going to happen and you know how I panic.

My realtor sent me her recommendation for a listing price last week of $134,900. Almost exactly what my break even price was (minus taxes, doc fees, etc), but she also said that it was on the high end and should expect it to sell for less and that we should be thinking about our options. And we did, we have. I can't be a landlord. I wish I could. Financially it would make more sense. 

And then the miracle, which is actually 3 separate events making one great miracle.

1) The Deposition. In November my husband was deposed for a lawsuit. He isn't being sued, neither are his attendings, but DrH had a note in the medical record of a patient who is suing another doctor. In preparing for the deposition someone had mentioned that the attendings get paid $1,500/hour for their time in a deposition. DrH approached his program director to see if he could similarly get compensated. They discussed it, came up with a fee schedule and approved his deposition as "moonlighting". DrH took the day off, spent three hours on the deposition and submitted an invoice to the attorney for $3,000 not knowing if they would approve it or not. January 20th we received a check for $3,000.

2) The Military. In recounting these events I have already mentioned the military once. But they have come to our rescue again. Two years ago DrH attended a training course as part of his Reserve commitment. During that training they explained the process for obtaining additional compensation for non-military activities. This was something we had never heard of. At this point DrH had been in the reserves for two years and asked the commanding officer about submitting records for activities performed in the past. He was told to submit them if he had documentation. He spent months getting things prepared and submitted them. In our excitement we emptied our savings account again and went to visit family for a week. (Lesson: never spend money that you don't physically have in your possession even if you expect it shortly). Over the next 22 months he would inquire about their status. He would resubmit the documents 3 different times. We had just about given up on the possibility, determined that it was a lost cause. It wasn't going to be approved, and we were foolish for pursuing it. And then on February 3rd, we received a check for $8,189.05.

3) The Taxes. A few of my previous posts have been dedicated to taxes so I won't repeat my sentiments. Our refund this year was the largest it has been in any year, with the exception of our internship year. Our federal refund is $4,100.

Over the last 30 days the windows of heaven have opened and a total of $15,289.05 has been poured out upon us. Money we couldn't have foreseen. The deposition, no other resident had ever been deposed. The Military, we had given up. Our Taxes, we claim so many deductions during the year that we never expect much. It is a miracle. You may call it coincidence, but it is miraculous to me. This is a huge burden lifted from my shoulders. I would not be surprised if this is the exact amount we need to get out of our house and relocate to another state to finish our final year of training.

And if that wasn't enough I would add that over the last year as I have dreaded the prospect of selling our home I often tried to figure out how this was all going to work. The only solution I could come up with is that the global economy and housing market would need to correct itself before we needed to sell. I thought we needed a large scale miracle. And then I thought how foolish I am to think that God would correct the entire universe just so I could sell my house and have a few thousand dollars left to move. Bad things happen to good people all the time, and we would need to figure this out on our own. We had come to the conclusion that we would probably have to put our moving expenses on our credit card. A decision that would be breaking a commitment we made when we got married to never carry a balance on our credit card. A commitment we had been able to keep for 8 years.

Instead this last month the city we live in was listed in the 10 top cities for recovering home prices, and a major employer in the area just announced last week that they would be hiring 3,000 people - 300 of which would be located in this community of 175,000 this spring. The timing is perfect.

I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father loved me enough to open unseen paths for us and to postpone payments. I think of the position we would be in now if the $8,189.05 would have been received when it was expected two years ago. We probably would have "invested" in another something for the house that would have been "lost", or would have made another trip to Arizona, a newer vehicle, or ballet lessons for the girls, or date nights, or weekend trips. The point is that it would have been spent and gone.  Instead, He saved it for us and delivered it at just the right moment. I know that He knows me and has heard my pleas and I will never, ever forget the miracles that have happened in our family over this last year.

I am optimistic that we will sell our house. I am optimistic that we will have enough money to cover our expenses. I am excited about selling our home and moving because I know that everything will be all right, but I can't help but cry when I think about the amazing year we have had. What started as tears of fear and frustration 12 months ago have ended in tears of joy and gratitude.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When Are You Leaving?

From the moment we moved to this community six years ago and announced that we would be here for six years we've been asked "when are you leaving". Now that the time is rapidly approaching when we will actually be leaving, the frequency of these questions has picked up.

At first it was fun to share our news, again. But then it became a little tiresome. How many times do I have to tell the same people when we are leaving and where we are going? Aren't they listening? Are they secretly hoping that it would be sooner? Are they getting tired of us? Have they been waiting 6 years for us to get out of town? Maybe they didn't like us as much as we thought.

I tell myself they can't help it and they are excited for the next phase of our training to begin (and end). I tell myself to smile and respond as politely as I can. In truth, I felt myself checking out of our community months ago.

We had a new family move into the neighborhood with two small children and one on the way in December. We had them over for a play date in October. It is now February, she has had the baby and I haven't been over to say congratulations. In my defense it is the middle of a not-very typically winter, but winter still the same. I just can't muster up the energy to pursue a friendly relationship with a new person I will never see again. For one it would require getting dressed and leaving the house. Chances are good we are not going to become fast friends. And I feel like all my time and energy needs to be focused here at home. (I am dreading the day the For Sale sign goes up. How am I going to keep this place clean all the time just in case some one wants to come see it, and hopefully they will want to see it).

Even with some of my old friends, who I am going to miss terribly, I have found myself pulling away a little. As if I am trying to lessen the impact by gradually retreating so when the time comes we can just disappear without a trace. I don't want to think about leaving my friends, I don't want to think about trying to make new friends when we will only be there for a year. But, friends are important - they just take energy and I feel like mine is all spent.

I am so grateful to have found an online community of friends who are all in various stages of the same process. I have a feeling I will need those connections to get me through this next year when it hardly seems worth the effort to unpack boxes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dream Family Vacation

We have been discussing for a long time what we will do as a family to celebrate the completion of DrH extensive post-graduate medical training. Having forfeited any vacation that didn't involve visiting extending family and sleeping on the floor for the last 8 years, soon to be 9, we thought that a nice family vacation would be in order. After all, everyone in this family has sacrificed something and wouldn't it be fun the celebrate such a monumental achievement with something equally as grand?

Our children love Disney. They get so excited when we watch a movie and the Disney castle comes up with the fireworks before the movie is announced. We decided that depending on where the job is located we would go to whichever theme park is closest and do it right. By right I mean not worry about nickels and dimes, just letting go and having a good time (what would that feel like). But then we realized that our location for fellowship puts us near one of the ports that the Disney Cruise Line departs from and our wheels started turning. Think of the money we could save by not having to fly anywhere. (Saving money appears to be an obsession of mine). We thought it we went to a park we would probably have to enlist the help of a set of grandparents, but a boat - we could do that on our own.

Did you know that you can take a vacation of sorts right from Netflix? We watched what basically was a 45 minute promotional video for Disney Cruise Lines. It looks amazing!!! I want to go now. So do my kids. At the time the video was made they had 2 cruise ships, the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic. Now they have 2 more larger and newer ships.  We watched it with them and now I get asked at least once a day when we are going on "The Boat". Sunday during church my son drew a rather convincing picture of the Disney Wonder. They are thrilled!

Then we got online and started looking at prices. It appears that a 7-day cruise for a family of 6 would cost us a mere $9,000. That is assuming that they will let us take 4 kids. We tried putting them on the itinerary with us and only 3 were accepted. The instructions said we would have to book another room. All of a sudden two rooms, one parent with 2 children each doesn't sound as much fun. They said the suite we selected would sleep 7 but why then wouldn't it let us put 6 people on our pretend booking? I am getting all indignant and we aren't even ready to plan a trip. First things first, we need a job!

I am sure we'll have it all figured out in plenty of time. Realistically we have probably a year before we will actually go on the cruise. That means I have a year of deflecting questions about when we are going to go on the boat. It is so fun to think of it though. Our kids will be 8, 6, 4 and almost 2 - the perfect age for their introduction to all things magical.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I am beginning to think that DrH and I are the most practical and unromantic couple when it comes to buying gifts for each other.  I am sure my DrH wishes I were less practical and more whatever the opposite of practical is. He also wishes I liked Victoria Secret more than I do, but how many ??? does a girl need - and they don't even carry my size.

His present I am very excited about. He is obsessed with swimming, biking, and running - otherwise known as triathlon. He has competed in 3 small triathlons and recently purchased a nice bag for his training and to use in the transition area. So I found a very manly and very compact sport towel like the ones the Olympic swimmers use to dry off. A regular towel is very cumbersome and takes up a lot of room in a bag, but this towel rolls up small and comes in it's own travel pouch. I hope he is as excited as I am about it.

I would much rather have something that I can use and enjoy every day than something that smells good or tastes good. Anybody can by flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day, it doesn't take much thought at all. I love getting kitchen gadgets, small appliances, or even some of the As Seen On TV things. Some of my favorite gifts from the past include: the Pedi-Egg, digital kitchen thermometer, Turbi-Towel (for your hair), non-drug store mascara, book light. It doesn't take much to get me excited! But these gifts show that he pays attention and thinks about what I might like.

Another example of our super practical very romantic gift giving: for Valentine's Day DrH wants to upgrade my iPhone to the latest model which I am very happy about. I love my phone and use it to manage just about everything. We both got our first iPhones for our wedding anniversary a couple of years ago. But we are going to hold off buying it until next week when all of DrH Best Buy Reward Points are available from our refrigerator purchase and Xbox purchase at Christmas. Waiting will make my gift virtually free and there is nothing more romantic than FREE in my opinion.

I hope you all have a very happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Now You See Him, Now You Don't

DrH was on call this weekend. We went to bed Sunday night at 10:00 and by 10:30 he had been paged. An elderly person with a head bleed that the family didn't want intervention for. My husband is a surgeon, you don't page him unless you want intervention. But either the ER doc or the family needed reassurance that the head bleed was serious enough and not just a tiny bump. I am just guessing based on what I heard. But I know he came home, I think he came home. I could swear that when I got up at 3:00 am to get the baby I saw him in our bed. By the time I went to the baby's room and came back he was gone! It was magic, or my mind was playing games with me.

I know it was probably the latter. But I really thought I saw him. Turns out when I did finally see him (for real this time) a few hours later he had another call that disrupted his sleep, but not mine.

Here are some things about call:

House call: this is where the resident stays in the hospital during his entire call shift. He sleeps in the call room if there aren't enough calls to keep him up all night.

Post call: usually for docs who take house call there is a post call "holiday". This is where the doc, after working his call, reports to the incoming doc and then goes home to sleep until the next day. I was so looking forward to post call. I could schedule all my appointments for late in the afternoon on his post call days and we would get to spend late afternoons/evenings together. It wasn't meant to be.

Home call: this is where the resident stays home and comes in if he gets paged. Some days/nights you score and not much is going on at the hospital and you get to sleep. Other nights are brutal and the resident spends all night at the hospital and then gets to work that next day too.

Programs either have one or the other. Unless you live more than 20 minutes form the hospital then you must sleep at the hospital but you don't get post call time off.

So my poor DrH is running on about 2 hours of sleep but luckily has a pretty light caseload today. I hope he finds time to take a nap, but he should probably consider taking it at the hospital because this house is going to be hopping today - it's finish all the little projects day!

Hope your weekend was great!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Taxes Are Done!

My taxes are done! By my calendar they are late.  As ridiculous as that sounds when April 15th is still two months away, it is very unusual for me to wait this long to file. Why the hurry? When you are a resident family (or any family) and there is the possibility that you could get back some of the money you paid to any entity, you claim it as soon as it is available. You don't wait until the very last minute.

We don't usually anticipate getting a very large refund because I play with our tax withholding (W4) to ensure we keep as much of our money as possible each pay period when we actually need it. Last year it was about a thousand dollars. This year it almost quadrupled. We had some new factors that changed the dynamic of our refund. For one, we had another child. Every kid counts, and we certainly spent more than they give credit for. Second, we had a substantial amount of student loan interest we didn't previously have. I complain about it, but apparently it helped. Why ask me to pay it now anyway when it appears that you are giving it all back. Thirdly, in addition to our regular generous contributions to our church we had a nice sized donation to Goodwill. The saving receipts, picture taking, itemizing, and data entry into their system really paid off. I wouldn't have guessed it to be as large as they said it was, good thing I didn't guess.

BUT, this year I am questioning the tax system. I don't think I really paid much attention to the power of taxes and what they mean on an individual level. Maybe because I am getting closer to the day when taxes will be a much larger percentage of my income I am starting to care. Let me tell you my personal feeling about taxes.

I feel guilty taking the federal income tax refund the IRS calculates I am to receive. The total of our refund is $300 less than the total of our federal income tax withholding and our payroll taxes (medicare/SSI). Instead of feeling elated at getting that money back, that we desperately need, I feel like I am a loser. I didn't contribute to anything. They basically refused to take my money and they are broke. They don't want it for our national defense, they don't want it to help fund social security, they don't want it to fund medicare. I want to be a tax payer. I want to have skin in the game. I want to feel like I have a right to say something about how our taxes are spent, but when I am not actually paying taxes do I even count? Yes, I know I count. Luckily, to vote you don't have to actually pay taxes. But I am of the mindset that everyone should pay something. Zero is unacceptable. At the same time I am not about to send in a check just because I am feeling generous. Nobody really does that, do they?

Before I made any claims to statistics I wanted to find out if I was actually part of them.

I am part of the 99%. That's obvious. But not part of the group that wants to overturn the system. I just want the system to work like they said it was going to work. You know the promise: work hard, play by the rules, get ahead. I feel as though we have done it right. We have certainly worked hard, we played by the rules, and while we will be ahead in a few years we could have been ahead a little now had the global economy/housing market not tanked. Now we have to pay someone to buy our house.

I am part of the 48% of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes. In fact my effective tax rate is -.47%. That's right a negative tax rate.

But here lies the problem that I have with my taxes. It feels like one big shell game. I give you some now, because I am required by law, you then give all (or nearly all of it back) and during the year I feel like I am actually paying taxes when we both know that I am not.  You give me a payroll tax break but my state raises the income tax nulling that break. You give me my federal taxes back so I can give them to the state, or more accurately this year to the bank so we can leave our house.

Our federal refund increased this year but so did the state taxes that we paid. They nearly doubled. While I am wishing that I could pay federal taxes I do not share the same feelings about my state taxes. In fact I get physically ill when I think about them. We live in a state that has one of the highest income tax rates and property tax rates. I will not miss their taxes. We have never received a refund of any of our state taxes. In fact, most years we end up having to pay a little more.

Last year our state taxes were $1,764 this year they were $3,200 plus another $3,100 that we paid in property taxes. $6,300 or $525/month just for state taxes (not including sales tax) is a lot of money for one little family.

I am thrilled at the prospect of moving to a state with no state income tax. It does beg the question why there is such a difference among the states when it comes to how they tax their residents.  I would happily give some of the money I paid to the state to the federal government but I understand my state has already spent all of my money and then some. It's hard to feel too guilty about our tax situation after I consider what we do pay.

Taxes do matter.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tax Prep Part 2

A few months ago I read a thread on the LDW face book page about residents being able to deduct a percentage of their cell phone bill from their taxes as work related expenses not reimbursed. In previous years we haven't pursued that particular deduction because we would have had cell phones whether they were used for work purposes or not, and our bills were fairly reasonable for our two lines (about $75).

Today, things are different. It's amazing how quickly technology can consume a profession. Today my husband uses his phone constantly for work, and the phone he has now is a fancy phone. He has the new iPhone as do all of the residents so they are sending photos, texts, and occasionally talking on the phone. Our bills have increased by almost double!

I started with January 2011 and realized that if I printed out an itemized statement for each of the 12 months I would probably run out of paper and ink. Just the itemized list for his number for one month was 20 pages. I decided to print off quarterly itemized statements to get an average and last night we spent a romantic evening combing through the bills highlighting the calls that were used for work. We only completed one month and decided this is crazy.

Here are some interesting statistics from the month of September:

Phone calls made/received: 345
Work related: 121
Percentage: 35%

Texts sent/received: 621
Work related: 457
Percentage: 74%

Overall he uses his phone for work 72% of the time.

The problem is I can't find the tax code that talks about being able to deduct this. From what I read we might be able to deduct "depreciation" but not the actual monthly expenses and only if it comes to more than 2% of our adjusted gross income (AGI). We can't take the depreciation route because the hospital covered the cost of purchasing the phone. If only I could find a way to write off the percentage of our bill that is used for work. I figure that would be about $790.00. Would it meet the 2% of our AGI? No.

Some of the potentially deductible employment costs can be found here. Do we have any other work related expenses to help us get over the 2% AGI? No. Fortunately his program covers all of the items on the list. I need to be more grateful for that, they really have been good to us in that respect.

Next year though we should have some expenses related to moving for fellowship and other job searching expenses. But that will be a post for next year.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tax Prep Part 1

It is the first full week in February and for the last 7 years I have always had our taxes filed by now. As it is, I am still gathering documentation! I feel like a complete slacker.

I would have had them done at least two weeks ago when we received the last of our tax documents, but this year we are trying to squeeze every dime out of our taxes by doing something we haven't done before.

Charitable donations made to agencies like Goodwill. (See here for complete details).

Non-cash donations must be made in "good used condition or better" and must be documented with a receipt showing the charity name, date, description and value.

If the total of non-cash donations for the year is under $500.01, then just the charity name and value is then shown on the tax return.

If the total of non-cash donations for the year is over $500 and under $5,00.01 then more information must be listed: full address of the charity, age of the donated property, original cost, how it was originally acquired, and a description on how the current value was determined (independent appraisal, looking at comparable sales, using the thrift shop value, etc.).

In previous years we have donated less than $500 in non-cash items to Goodwill. This year we know it is much more. We are talking about 4 large van trips. For each of those trips I itemized our donation, took pictures, and got receipts from Goodwill. What I haven't done yet is calculate the "thrift-store value".

We use Turbo Tax to prepare out taxes. I used to pay someone to do them for me because I thought they were too difficult. More specifically, they must be too difficult for some many places to charge ridiculous amounts of money to process them for you. What I figured out is that I am just as qualified as most people to process my particular type of return. We don't have weird stuff. We have mortgage interest, charitable donations, and this year student loan interest. No dividends, no capital gains, no gambling losses. Our taxes are pretty straight forward. Anyway, Turbo Tax has an application built in to it that calculates the donated value of non-cash items. I just have to put my itemized list in there. I have been dreading that part. Oh, and I am crazy busy trying to get our house ready. But today is the day to start working on those pesky taxes!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Morning Rush

Mornings around here are rough. Because whether you want to recognize it or not, I am personally unaware of any doctor who is in their home after the hour of 7:00 am. In our house, probably because he is a resident, he leaves for pre-rounds at 5:45 am. Guess who isn't up at 5:45 am and who sometimes isn't up at 7:00 am?

Today that person wasn't up until 7:50 am. I have been feeling awful lately. It's this persistent cold. It has me feeling beat up and the baby isn't doing well either. She can't clear her throat the way I can. She can't blow her nose the way I can. She sounds awful, so she and I slept together last night, which means there wasn't much sleeping going on. At one point in the night my husband asked me to move over. I wanted to  smack him and say go sleep on the couch. But I didn't. I suppose I could have but I can't very well sleep on a couch with a baby. I did that for one night on my trip out of state. It wasn't comfortable.

I should add, the only reason I was up at 7:50 am is that I heard my children running, literally running, around the living room, which is right outside my bedroom door and squealing. We have some basic rules in our house that my children continue to disregard. The first, and perhaps the most important is that when you wake up please get dressed. This is really important for my 1st grader who needs to be at the bus at 8:00 am. Regardless of how important it is to me, he fails to keep it. When I staggered out of my room prepared to get him breakfast I shouldn't have been surprised that he was still in his pajamas. I shouldn't have been surprised that he blamed his sisters for his disobedience. He expects me to believe that his 3 and 5 year old sisters are bullying him? I don't buy it and he knows it isn't true.

I am concerned with his lack of respect for our rules and for his refusal to accept responsibility for his actions. These are the kind of morning battles that make me wish I had a second person in the ring with me. For starters that person would probably be up before me and could get things started. Instead, I wake up to the sounds of a party outside my bedroom door, still tired, and ready to pounce. Then I see small people who, not for a lack of time, thought it unnecessary to do the one thing I ask of them every morning. Our mornings always start off rough. I wish they didn't.

I know I could help things out by going to bed earlier, and I try - but that is the only time I get to spend with the DrH. I could wake up earlier, but that would require going to bed earlier. I just wish they would listen. Or I wish that DrH had the kind of job that allowed him to be here in the morning so he could deal with them. In reality, I wouldn't want him here every morning, just some mornings. Some days I just don't have it in me.

Today we learned about consequences (again). You don't get breakfast until you are dressed. By the time he got dressed it was time to go to the bus. No breakfast at the table. Lucky for him I made muffins last night so he had something to take with him to the bus. He is really lucky that I didn't go crazy with consequences. While he was getting dressed I made him lunch. I should have made him eat the hot lunch at school (shells and cheese) that would have been the ultimate consequence and one he probably would  have remembered for a long time. He does not eat mac n cheese - ever!

One morning I would like to wake up a nice mom, and not mean mom. I guess it's a good thing the DrH isn't here to see it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Shredded, Ripped, Torn

...and I am not talking about my abs 7 months post baby #4 - but I wish I was.

What do you do with all the mail you get that has personal information on it? I never realized how much we get that qualifies for the shredder. Oh, and we have a shredder! But we also have a friend who had their 3 year old boys finger get caught in it a few years ago so I don't have it plugged in and I hide it in the basement. For the last six years I've been putting it into a box. When it outgrew the original box, I moved it to a larger box, and eventually into a 66 Qt clear plastic box with a lid. This box has been taunting me for years.

My last attempt to rid myself of it's evil gaze was last year. I lit a fire in the fire place and burned quite a bit of it, but then all the ashes started to accumulate and tried to escape. Not a good idea to burn straight paper in a fireplace that hasn't been cleaned in a looooong time. I don't want to clean it either, and I don't want to burn my house to the ground.... not yet.

Then there were periods when I would shuffle though it and weed out all the parts that didn't contain sensitive information. You know the envelopes and fine print that accompany the never ending credit card offers in the mail addressed to DrH. Then I started tearing the sensitive stuff off and putting it back in the box and the other half with non-sensitive material went straight to the recycling bin. Even with all my sorting, burning, ripping, and tearing... oh and sometimes shredding on the home shredder until it overheats, I still have a huge box of paper with our names, address, social security number, account numbers, etc on them.

I spent 3 hours yesterday and another 3 hours today sitting on the floor watching back to back episodes of Drop Dead Diva on Netflix (I highly recommend the series) while once again sorting. I decided that my time was far more valuable and needed to be focused on other pressing matters (like painting) so I am looking for a company that will take my junk and shred it!

I am certainly not going to pack it up and move it with me! What kind of crazy person does that? Technically I did, already once... but I will not do it again.

I am terrified of identify theft. And who better to target than some guy with "doctor" written all over his mail? Luckily the neighborhood we live in says "teacher", but still it only takes one mistake for someone to figure it out and ruin your life. I keep hearing commercials for Life-Lock and think, oh I should do that - but instead I keep clutching this big box.

What do you do with your "stuff"?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Housing Update & The Hard Truth

I realize that my posts about our housing situation may be the equivalent of DREAM SQUASHING. It is exciting to finally to dig in and start seriously looking for a home. After being students for so long (or what you feel is so long) you rightfully want to have a place of your own.  If I do nothing else, my purpose in starting this blog was to share some of the roadblocks we have faced so that you might be better prepared for making your own decisions and mistakes. Or at the very least aware of the possibilities and pitfalls. I know that my situation and circumstances aren't exactly like yours. BUT I have heard from enough residents who are in similar situations to know that this isn't the exception to the rule. It may be the new rule.

When we bought our house 6 years ago the long standing assumption was that buying a home was the practical and responsible thing to do. Doing anything else didn't make financial sense. Home ownership was a virtue that every married couple with children should strive for. For heavens sakes DrH was 33 and I was 31 and we would be spending 6 years in this community. Side note: I know of many residents who 1) are unhappy with their programs and leave or 2) have their programs shut down and need to find a new place - something to think about.  At this point in our lives didn't we deserve to be home owners? If you use the word "deserve" in any sentence to explain why you want to do something you can almost be assured it is the wrong thing to do - it is one of my life truisms.

Up until about 2008 or 2009 there was virtually no way that anyone who bought a house would lose money when it came time to sell.  It was a forgone conclusion that you could buy a house and sell it for a profit. Property values continued to rise all over the country (some more quickly than others) and while it seemed naive to think it would continue forever, who would have thought it would stop abruptly and change course? We had moved from a large metropolis in the west that had seen crazy increases in home prices and were just beginning to level off. The smaller rural Midwest town we moved to seemed to be insulated from the speculation and we just assumed this is what normal was. Little did we know that national and global changes would affect a place so "stable" a year or two after the rest of the country.

Prior to the housing crisis (that I contend we are still in - I am having my own personal one right now), even if you sold your home for what you paid for it you were essentially guaranteed to profit from having paid your mortgage balance down even after paying realtor fees and closing costs. In 6 years we should have about $20+ in equity. That equity when we sold would have been used to pay the realtor, closing costs, taxes, etc and should have given us enough to move on with our lives. But equity is only equity if your house value maintains or increases (that used to be my definition of equity). Now equity is your loan balance minus your homes current value (not what you paid for it), and in fact the term negative equity has now entered our lexicon.

Dear friends, times have changed. Today we received our realtor's market comparison analysis. It was bitter sweet. Our realtor suggests pricing our home $10,000 less than we paid for it 6 years ago. And she thinks that is probably on the high side but a good starting point. It is ironic that the number is exactly the same number that I calculated we needed to sell at to walk away from the closing table with $0 proceeds, and $0 out of pocket. But, who actually pays the listing price? Nobody. So we can count on at least 3% less than our listing price which means we will pay. What we don't know at the moment is exactly how much.

I have had enough time to think about this and to come to terms with it. It is what it is. I wish it were different, but for me and many others it isn't. I will say it again: even if we are fortunate enough to close without having to provide cash at closing we still have lost all of our equity plus $17,000 that we spent in making our home something we would be proud to own (i.e. roof, driveway, appliances, etc). That doesn't include all the little things, just the BIG ones. That's a grand total of $37,000 (equity and improvements) that just disappeared.

At the time we spent that money it was widely assumed that improvements made to a property would be returned when the time came to sell. That cannot be held up as truth. The shows on HGTV that I had been addicted to, I refuse to watch any longer. Yes, fix up your home if it is your HOME and you will be living there forever. That is money well spent. There is value added in that type of improvement/investment. Spending money to fix up a home that you will own on a temporary (yes, 6 years is temporary now) basis cannot be guaranteed to be returned.

I know this is hard to hear. I wouldn't want to hear it either. But IF I had and IF I had listened, I may have lost the equity in our home (renting), but I would have $17,000 in my pocket - or rather I would probably be driving a newer van, or I might have taken a great family vacation, or a hundred other things that would have made the last 6 years... different and perhaps more bearable. Think about it. With that money we could have paid a babysitter once a week for a date night. We could have taken little weekend trips. We could have put the kids in ballet/tap/gymnastics/swim/karate. We could have bought each other gifts. We could have done all the little things that contribute to having a quality of life that we only wished we could have afforded.  We would be looking forward to moving to a new city and finding a new home to rent instead of stressing about how to sell this one and save for closing costs while also saving money to move. I am aware that our situation could be much worse.

Renting has been branded as throwing your money away, or a less desirable option. I hope that perception is changing. In today's housing market renting may be the most responsible thing to do, and possibly the one way to avoid throwing money away. The tables have turned. What used to be is no longer.

I don't have a crystal ball that will tell me (and you) what will happen to the housing market in the future. That is precisely what makes buying a home a risk for short term buyers like residents. It wasn't ever called a risk before, so this is new vocabulary too. There are a number of factors that impact home values, one being interest. Right now interest rates are really low, maybe too low. Low interest rates make it easier to get into a home that you wouldn't be able to afford in any other situation. When those rates rise, you (and people who make the same amount of money as you) can no longer afford to purchase that same house. You may get a great deal now but home values may drop a little more, and interest rates may be much higher when you go to sell.

Example: If you bought a $150,000 house today at 4% interest your payment (principle/interest) would be about $715. To borrow that same amount at 7% interest your payment (principle/interest) would be $997. (There was a time not that long ago, when 7% was considered a low interest rate... just saying). Your $715 at 7% would get you into a house at $108,000. That's a big difference. Buying power decreases as interest rates rise.

OK, enough with the lessons today. As we get closer to match day think hard about buying vs. renting. Remember this is only a temporary home, you will not be living in the same house when residency is over. You can pick an unknown outcome: buying. Or you can pick a known outcome: renting. The choice is up to you, but I hope you will consider what I have put forth. No sense in everyone making the same mistake if it can be avoided.

One last thing. I remember at the time we bought our house thinking that we'd have a job secured with a signing bonus before it was time to sell. I was thinking like I had lots of money to spend (in the future). Little did I know that my husband would decide to do a fellowship changing the dynamics of our financial situation. Something else to think about. Nothing is certain until it is certain.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Six More Weeks

Yesterday was Groundhog day.... I totally missed it. Parade? Special menu items? Cards? (I don't do any of those things, really).

The little guy saw his shadow and we have 6 more weeks of winter. I am confused is this winter?

The DrH and I are both from warm, western climates....ahhhh. It has been hard living in the Midwest with frigid winters. This year we remarked that we are getting some special treatment in honor of our last winter here, and I pray that we find a job in an area with no snowfall:-) But I am a little disappointed that our last winter here has been a less than "wintery" one. But only a very little.

Our first winter was awful. Maybe because it was the first. The in-laws came to visit the first week in December and their flight was cancelled because of ice and they had to sleep in the airport. I was sure they would never come back again.

Then there was the January where every day of the month we were covered in snow. It didn't snow every day, it just never melted! It was so cold.

Then in mid February we had a really bad snow storm that left us home bound for three days. I remember the DrH trying to get home from the hospital and his car got stuck at the top of the street and the neighbors came out with shovels digging him out so he could get home. He was on call that weekend and I remember thinking, if he gets called in how is he going to get there. But if he can't get to the hospital no one else can either. It was a bad one.

This is the first year that I can recall that the school hasn't had any snow, or it's so freezing cold we aren't going to school, days. We might actually get out on time!

This winter has been a strange one, but I appreciate the reminder that anything is possible even when things seem backwards. For me it is like a little post it note from God that says: "Relax. Everything is going as planned, I know what I am doing". 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Domestic Diva

I have stretched me domestic diva legs and am feeling rather accomplished.

Right before my own baby was born I went a little crazy making hospital gowns. The ones they issue are just plain ugly and boring, and I wanted to be hospitalized in style. So I made four hospital/nursing gowns - one for each day that I would be a guest. A zebra print, a solid turquoise, a pink/white stripe, and a black and white damask with red trim. They were great! But I forgot that having a c-section means that you have an IV and a foley bag for a day or two. All those tubes and such interfered with my new custom gowns, complete with slits for breast feeding.  So I didn't wear them until the stuff came off.

What possess a woman to sit down and start sewing? This is where my vanity becomes readily apparent. I was delivering my baby in the same hospital that my husband works. His colleagues would be popping in to check on us. I wanted to be glamorous even during my recovery. And it worked. I felt great wearing something pretty. My hospital pictures look so much better with my 4th baby than my other three. These gowns served me well when I came home, too. So it wasn't purely vanity it was also practical. In the beginning I wore them during the day at home. Then as the weight came off and I could wear real clothes I wore them at night so I could nurse. And now seven months later I have passed them on to my friends. All except one that I am saving just in case I ever need to spend a night in the hospital again. (I don't plan on it, but you never know).

Now my sister has just had a baby. I intended to make her a few before the baby came, but I was too late. So today I just whipped out TWO! She won't have the opportunity to wear them at the hospital but she is going to love hanging around the house in them. And she will look so stylish!

Now, here is where I really earned my Domestic Diva medal. My husband had a pair of flannel pajama pants that he got for Christmas that were too long. He wore them anyway, which reminded me that I needed to hem them. So I did. They look great.

And just for fun I had some scrap pink satin material and crafted a little dress up skirt for the girls. No pattern, thank you very much. What can't I do! Actually, I had better put that sewing machine away so I can get back to my other projects. It was fun to get distracted for a day, but back to work:-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rx for the Doctors Wife

You would think being married to a doctor would gain you access to some of the best drugs available. It doesn't. I can't get drugs for you, don't ask. I can't decide if I need an anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, or a mild tranquilizer. I could probably benefit from a combination of the three. Well, DrH won't write a prescription for me. He could get one of his buddies to do it, but then they would know what was wrong with me. Or worse they would try to guess! I won't let that happen. I would never tell my real doctor about it, what would she think the next time she bumped into my DrH at the hospital? So as a last resort I self-medicate and I've been known to overdose. Don't judge.

It took a while to work out the kinks, but I think I have come up with a dose and regimen that seem to produce the desired results. Two scoops, QD (that's doc talk for once daily), taken between 7 - 9 pm, unlimited refills. Side effects are mild but may produce weight gain in the lower extremities, upper extremities, mid-section, and your face. I suppose I will live.  "Fat and happy" isn't just some cute phrase it is real. But then there is the self-loathing that comes to visit in the morning - I might actually need real medication to deal with that.

The problem with my choice of medication is that it feels good while I am doing it, but when it is gone I immediately feel bad. I don't like that feeling. Maybe that is why they call it a "guilty pleasure".

Why do I feel the need to indulge in ice cream every night?

Well, for starters I can hold myself together between the hours of 7 am when I am woken up by one child or the other, until it is time to make dinner. Dinner time reminds me that I haven't thought about what to make for dinner. I hate making dinner, because no matter how much time I spend in the kitchen my kids don't want to eat it and DrH usually isn't home. Then we fight about them not eating their food, or why it is taking an hour to eat a tiny plate. Then we argue about how unfair life is because they don't get to do exactly what they want to do when they want to do it. They are 7, 5, 3, and little bitti. Then we rush around trying to get ready for bed.

All the while I am thinking about what is waiting for me in the freezer as soon as I can get these little munchkins in bed.  They can't get in bed fast enough. We are talking about the last minutes until the end of a 13 hour shift here, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year! And if I hear the word "mommy" one more time I might lock them in their rooms. If it is a particularly bad night I won't even get a bowl, all I need is a spoon - a little mindless tv, and dim lights.

Some nights I don't even care that they are up chatting with each other. I've got my spoon.... now where are those earplugs.