Friday, August 31, 2012

When I Grow Up...

Yesterdays post got me thinking about what it is that I want to do when I grow up. This much I have decided: when the doctor is a doctor, I am going back to school.

Oh, I already did it once.... I just didn't do it very well. Or rather not very effectively. After 5 years I didn't leave with a degree. I had my reasons (excuses), and DrH wasn't one of the them - although I wish he would have been. I would like to finish this time - before my children graduate.

I just about started two years ago, and then reality (tuition) hit and I decided this wasn't the right time. And it wasn't. We ended up having a baby. But this time, it is going to happen.

And I think I have decided upon the perfect program: I want to study money.

Yes. Money. Specifically, the world of finance.

I figure I already have a natural tendency towards saving and managing our finances now so why not expand on that to match our (presumed) financial needs in the future. Whether that means that I manage our investment/retirement accounts, or have someone else do it - I would really like to know what it all means and how it works. I don't want to blindly turn over our savings and cross my fingers. I want to KNOW. There are many things I want to KNOW.

The list of services and providers we may need in the future really opened up some possibilities for other training and education that could prove invaluable.

Law - think of all the legal implications surrounding the practice of medicine - somebody in the house should know what it means.

Business - being married to a doctor may mean being a part of the family business in one way or another.

Real Estate - finding the perfect house(s) or amassing a rental empire - this could be part of a wise investment strategy.

Architecture - why buy when you can build. Design your own dream home, every beam and door.

Interior Design - any home is going to need some personalization, and this would be fun to learn/practice.

I am sure there are many more areas of study and expertise that could come in handy to know now and in the future. Maybe I will be a forever student (like my DrH has been) and just start tackling them one by one.

What do you look forward to learning or doing when you grow up?

P.S. Don't forget Medical Monday's Blog Hop this Monday!!!!!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Creating Extra Cash

This week I have already introduced to you The Orange Bird and two doctors wives from my childhood as I ponder what a Doctor's Wife is. Today I'd like to write about other amazing women, some happen to be married to doctors in training. (Doctors in training = that long period of time when you both work harder than you ever have before and get paid less hourly than any other job you've ever had.)

Rather than naming the women - I am going to tell you about what they are doing with their talents, skills, and education to balance their desire to stay at home with their children and also provide income to fill in the gap between the doctor's salary and the expenses of life.

The difference between what our income is and our expenses are often just a few hundred dollars a month. Not enough to necessitate a full-time job, or even a part-time job, but enough to require some creative intervention. Maybe your income and expenses are balanced perfectly, but is so tight that saving for a vacation or Christmas is impossible without a little extra income. Sometimes the answer is getting a clock-punching job. Sometimes the answer is thinking outside the typical definition of working for a pay-check.

Keep reading to see how some spouses/significant others make the numbers "work" while doing what they love.

The Doctor's Wife Needs Some Cash!

Preschool - My daughter is now attending a home preschool run by the wife of a medical intern. She has a masters in Elementary Education and taught in public schools for 4 years. She loves teaching. She also has three small children. She has turned a room of their house into a preschool room, and it is amazing! Preschool meets for 3 hours, 2 days a week. Monthly tuition for this service is $100. She has 8 children enrolled this year. Do the math! That's an extra $800 month. That makes a huge difference. I am thinking a new van payment.

Dance lessons - both of my daughters are taking an introductory ballet class taught by another wife of a medical intern. She studied dance and choreography in college, and has a passion for it that started at a young age and continues to be a big part of her life. She teaches out of her home one day, 50 minute classes. She teaches 6 classes of varying levels in one day, with an average of 6 children per class. That's 36 students at $10 per weekly class for 12 weeks. She will average $1,440 per month.

Musical lessons - whatever your instrument of choice  (piano, voice, guitar, flute, violin, etc) there is someone who would like to learn. Leverage your skills and talents by teaching others. Depending on your level you could teach children, teens, or adults.

Direct Home Sales - if you have an outgoing personality, like real people, and have a product you love (as well as like an excuse to get together) home parties may be something that interest you. They have all sorts of products. Some that I am familiar with are: Mary Kay, Norwex, StampinUp, Gold Canyon Candles, Scentsy, Choffy, Uppercase Living, DoTerra, Lia Sophia, Silpada, Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, Thirty One, Stella Dot, and a zillion more. There is a home party business for just about everyone. A little online research will further prove that point. I am convinced there is a particular personality type that does really well in these endeavors - I am not one of them. I like to go, and there are lots of women who do!

Club Nights - a sister to the direct home sales that I have seen successfully done with creative products like Stampin Up! is the Club Night. You need to be a demonstrator to take advantage of this. It works as a guaranteed ordering pool each month. You recruit a number of your friends who enjoy stamping, and ask them to commit to a minimum order purchase every month over 12 months. You provide the supplies, project ideas and run the club night like a workshop. Everyone agrees to spend a certain dollar amount (and everyone always spends more) regardless of if they are able to attend or not. Each month has a rotating hostess who earns the benefits off the sales and provides the food/beverages. I belonged to a very successful club a few years ago. My obligated monthly order was $25, but it was always $35-$40. She had 24 members of the club and held two classes over a weekend each month. If everyone ordered the minimum, that months orders would be $600. Of course it will be more because spending exactly $25 is nearly impossible. You keep 20% of the sales which would be $120 profit each month. For the women attending it is just fun - they get to talk and be creative!

Beauty Services - the woman who currently cuts my hair now is a law-student spouse. She gives a great hair cut out of her home for $20 for adults and $10 for kids. If you already have acquired these skills, the amount of money required to start is really negligible. Haircuts don't require a huge investment of time and can be scheduled around just about anything. And if you are awesome you will be in demand. Who doesn't love a great cut at a great price. You can actually afford to keep that new short crop looking new all year long!

Mothers Day/Night Out - what a brilliant idea! I have seen this work twice already in our new city. A spouse of a resident posts one day a month when she will be open for a mother's day out. She sets the time and duration and number of children she will take. You commit to the full time, usually 3 or 4 hours. She also sets the price per child. By opening her home to multiple children at the same time she is maximizing her time and profits. I know I could use a day off, afternoon off, or evening off. I wish she would do it more often. Imagine if you only charged $3 per hour/child. You could charge more/less, you could take more children if you had help. If you had 4 children scheduled for a 4 hour block of time you would have made $48. If you did that every week that would be almost $200. I know my child have infinite more fun when other kids are around and it basically works like a big play date that has a fee associated and no reciprocation!

Technical Training - If you have a skill that others would like to learn, consider putting a class together and make some extra cash. I am planning on taking a photography class. It is a two week course, two nights a week for a total of 4 classes for $80. She had 23 people express interest in taking it. If each of those people actually schedule a class that is $1,840. I am thinking quick Christmas cash, or little vacation.

Photography - who doesn't love to have photographs taken? Digital cameras are amazing, but you still need a photographer with good editing skills to make them look professional. If you have a decent camera and some photo editing software this could be for you! How much would you pay for nice photographs. Twice in my life I have paid $100 for a session, and I thought that was steep. I love finding new photographers who are just getting started. Fall/Christmas time seems to be when everyone is wanting to have pictures taken. Stop practicing on your own family and jump in now! I would hire you:-)

Tutoring - are you good with math, reading, science? Depending on the grade level you might have just the skills to help another child with their studies through tutoring. Prices for tutoring can vary depending on area. Do some research and let people know you are available.

Accounting/Tax Services - if you prepare taxes there is a market for you. There is an entire country that needs to file their taxes before April 15 each and every year. I for one would rather have someone I know do them rather then the guy at the mall or paying for a fancy accounting firm to do them.

Catering Dinner - I have a friend who loves to cook. She likes it so much that she has turned it into a little business. She buys her groceries in bulk, makes a monthly menu, and offers to cook for others who might not have the time or energy to do it. She markets her services to working moms who want to feed the family home cooked meals, but doesn't have the time to do it consistently. The total cost to the customer is less than grabbing take out and is more wholesome. And my friend gets to do what she loves to do - COOK!

Sewing/Alterations - I can sew a straight line, but there are some things that I would never tackle. Hemming scares me, and I would never alter something myself. If you are good with a sewing machine, needle and thread you are set. Have you priced alterations lately? They can be pricey. Sewing or quilting unique one of a kind items are all the rage, you could be one of them.

Crafting - There are so many things that fall into this category! Jewelry making, card making, hair bows, home accents. Whatever you have a passion for there is a potential business there!

Furniture Refinishing - I recently met another resident wife who has gone into furniture refinishing. She finds old furniture at garage sales, off craigslist and even off the side of the road and fixes them up and sells them! Refinishing furniture isn't easy work, but it is amazing what a little elbow grease and paint/stain can do. People pay big bucks for stuff like this!

Think about the people you know and what services they need and use. Is there something that you can provide at a better value? Do you have a passion for something that people are willing to pay for? I like giving business to people that I know, or even better - people that are in the same situation as I am or have been. If I am going to spend the money anyway, I would rather it help a family - not just a business. Don't be afraid to network with those people.

As I have encountered these women I have often thought that I should have studied something more useful in college or developed marketable skills or at least excelled at a particular hobby!  And then I realized, I probably could have done something. At the time I just didn't possess the desire to do it. And I still don't! But if you do, maybe a few of these suggestions will make a difference.

If you are doing something other than what I have covered to contribute to your family finances from your home, leave me a comment and let me know what it is. I'll be sure to add it!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Wives I Knew....

I don't know where I picked up some of the stereotypes of doctor's wives I have, but I know where I didn't get them.

I grew up in a small rural community. We lived on the same street as two doctors, one a ER doc and the other an anesthesiologist. My parents were not in medicine. My parents didn't go to college. Our families couldn't be more different, and yet were weren't.

I remember when I found out that my friends dads were doctors, that they must be lying. In what world does my family live on the same street with doctors? They didn't have big fancy houses. They didn't drive new cars. Their mother's weren't super models. They wore the same clothes I did. They were just like me.

When we first moved to this community, the anesthesiologist family was living in a trailer on the land where they would later build their home. After it was built, I remember visiting their home and being a little disappointed that it wasn't over the top amazing. It was nice, really nice. But it wasn't the kind of place I thought doctors lived.

I can recall two times that I was aware we had real doctors on our street. The first was when my dad nearly cut off his thumb on a band saw, and the ER doc was at home to put it back together. He was stitched up on their dining room table. I remember my mother telling me she felt horrified that they were doing this on their dining room table. They didn't mind at all.

The other time was when the anesthesiologist was present for my dad's back surgery. Other than that, they - and their families - were just like mine. They worked hard in their fields and ranches. My dad worked hard. Their children went to school with me, we were friends. We went to church together.

There was nothing special about them, and yet there was. They were amazing families, kind and generous. They were the first to show up with a loaf of bread, dinner when someone was sick, or offer their suburban to drive kids to camp. They were the ones who were letting the rest of us hang out at their house, and always had chocolates or cookies ready to be devoured. They were probably some of the best people I have ever known. What they were had nothing to do with their professional status. It is who they were. They were good people.

I talk with my husband often about what our future will look like. It is exciting and terrifying. I almost feel like if we don't have a big house, and don't drive nice new cars people will be disappointed. I know I have some crazy things in my head. This kind of thinking is what gets people in trouble.  Trying to create the picture that people expect to see. Instead of keeping up with the Jones's it is BEING the Jones's.

We are going to disappoint a lot of people if they are expecting something amazing from us, especially in the beginning.

I hope our future looks a lot like those I have actually known, and not like the people I have dreamed up from the most unreliable of sources. When people refer to us I want the "who we are" to come before the "what we have" and "what he does".

I have no idea how to do that. These are the big questions floating around my head at the moment.


Monday, August 27, 2012

The Orange Bird

You never know what you might find while looking for something else. Serendipity. It sounds as good as it is.

I would like to introduce you a new online store by one of my new blogging friends, and fellow doctor wife, DW and The Orange Bird.

I first met DW while getting ready for the Medical Monday's Blog Hop. I contacted dozens of blogs, and found several new ones. In the process I also read a lot of blogs. Hers in particular, The Unconventional Doctor's Wife, stuck with me for a couple of reasons:

With a name like that, who isn't curious? Read this post, it is one of my favorites. You will laugh.

The photo she included in her blog header and profile exudes pure joy. Who doesn't need more people like that in their life? - I know I do!

She is married to a doctor who is actually practicing, no longer training! There aren't many blogs written by women in that phase of career. Her doctor husband has (had) his own blog The Unconventional Doctor

She was passionate about wanting to do good works. People like DW inspire me.

Then there was her old house. I am a lover of old homes, and would love to restore one. She lived in one, and you can tour her old house (that isn't her house anymore) here

The subtitle to her blog is life outside the stereotype. I love that! Not everyone wants to be part of a stereotype. We need an alternative stereotype, and I think women like DW are helping to change it. You can read about her here. In her profile she admits to "screwing up every day, multiples times a day... messes up priorities... speaks unkindly to her children when she gets frustrated". That is someone I can relate to!

My purpose in bringing up DW and her blog, The Unconventional Doctor's Wife, isn't to talk about her blog or her life married to medicine, that's why I have my blog! In fact, I couldn't find a single post about medicine or how she managed to get through residency with her sanity and all her hair.  Instead, it is to highlight one from our own ranks who is doing remarkable things for others.

She and her friend, Birdie, decided to combine forces and talents for good. They opened their blog and online store The Orange Bird in July of 2012 and have been busy adding new hand-crafted items to their inventory. The proceeds from their endeavors are donated to charities that are near and dear to their hearts.

They are just getting started. Brand new! And because I think what they are doing is amazing I want to share it with you (with their consent of course).

Take a look at some of the amazing things they have created together here.

These I need! My baby is almost to the stage where she is walking, but she hates to wear shoes. How cute for summer!
They have wallets, aprons, headbands, camera straps, more cute baby shoes, pacifier clips, and more. All of it is adorable, and very reasonably priced. Did I mention the proceeds go to charity? You can feel good about making a purchase. 

If you would like more information about The Orange Bird and their causes, visit their website. You can also follow them on facebook. You will be glad you did. If you would like to help spread the word, grab The Orange Bird button for your sidebar.

Be sure to join us next Monday (9.3.12) for the second Medical Mondays Blog Hop. You never know what gem you might discover. I can't wait!


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Practice House

I am trying to find more things to be grateful for, and today I am grateful that I don't own this house.

There isn't anything wrong with it, but I've decided renting is really good practice. How do you know what you want unless you've already had it, seen it, lived with it? Once you buy and it's there and you're living with it, most likely it isn't going away anytime soon.

In our last home, we had linoleum flooring in the kitchen and baths. I thought I hated linoleum and wished that I had tile. Now we have tile and I can see how amazing linoleum is! It doesn't chip. It is easier to keep clean. Dishes don't shatter when dropped on them (usually). We have three cracked tiles in one bathroom, and two chipped tiles in the kitchen. I promise we didn't cause them.

In our last home, we had wall to wall carpet except for the places that were covered in linoleum. I thought I wanted wood floors, or even fake wood floors. We now have fake wood floors and I hate them. I am sure real wood floors are different, but really bad laminate flooring that was poorly installed isn't the same.

I used to complain about our garage. The height of the door was a little lower than standard, and had our van been a little taller, or had we purchased an SUV it would have had to sit outside. The plus was that it was a large garage. Wide and long. Now we have a standard height garage door, but we can barely pull the van in and close the door. It is short. We also can't park both of our cars in the garage at the same time, so hubby is parking outside. We managed to get them both in the garage for a few days, but getting out the door and around to the car on the far side was nearly impossible.

In our last home, we lived in a ranch house with split bedrooms. I thought I liked that floor plan, until our rental home had a master down and the kids bedrooms upstairs. I love having my spaces as far away from my children's spaces as possible. That is why they invented baby monitors.  I always would have thought I liked it the other way, until I tried it this way.

In our last home, the master bath (I feel pretty lucky to have had a master bath) had a combined shower/bath. I thought I hated it, but it was easy to get in and out and easy to clean. We now have a separate walk in shower, and garden tub. The tub gets used to bathe the kids because it's easier for me. The shower is nice, but it is small. Shower for two? Not very comfortable. And the placement in the room isn't ideal. You have to open the door and get out before you can reach the towel bar. It's odd.

I guess the point I am making, for my own benefit, is that it is easy to be blinded by things that are supposedly better than what you just had. I think I have just about convinced my husband that renting as a practicing surgeon may be a good idea - long enough to figure out what it is we like and want before we buy it.

How are two "young" kids supposed to know what things they want in a home. Yes, there is Pinterest. Yes, there are people willing to tell you what you want and need. People willing to help you spend your money.

I am looking forward to practicing in another house, for a year or two or three. However long it takes to figure out what it is exactly that I (we) want for our home. And then I will be ecstatic about buying, or building - whatever it is that we decide to do.

Practice makes perfect.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Just Happened

Yesterday was a complete failure. It was nearly impossible to stay hands-free! I admire the people that give it up for lent entirely! I am sure it would do me good, and the fact that I am terrified to even try it suggests that it would be a worthy sacrifice.

I think it has ruined me... I can't think of a single thing to write today!

So what did I do?

I tackled a project that I saw weeks ago (darn Pinterest and decoupage). I invited my sons friend over to play with him (Xbox upstairs). I made a grocery list (gasp) and cooked dinner with vegetables (two of them -gasp, gasp). I day dreamed (a two-story with pool and tennis court). I watched Disney movies (from the other room).

I still didn't shower, exercise, or read the book I planned on. Or go grocery shopping, check the mail, or make a run to the bank (that's always a fun chore). Didn't really feel like leaving the house - that's what happens when you don't shower first thing in the morning. (Make note of that for future reference).

But, I did have a realization today: I prefer to work with deadlines. I need schedules. I need structure. I need places I have to be. Too much free time doesn't create a sense of urgency. I need that "urgency" as motivation. I need projects to manage, track, and someone to hold me accountable. Sure I have things to do, that I could do (they just don't matter to anyone). But too much time to do it means it doesn't get done as quickly. Does that make sense to you?

It seems completely backwards. But it seems to be working that way.

Maybe I need a job. Maybe I need to volunteer. Maybe I need to find someone to help (I am actually working on that one). Maybe I need a project that will take days and weeks, not minutes and hours.

I won't give up. I am a doctor's wife, I have tackled bigger fish. I can figure this out. Next Wednesday will be better:-)


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This Is Where I Slap My Wrist

Some times the things that I read spark a new idea. Other times they give me a good laugh. And other times a good cry. And then there are things that I read that leave me feeling ... well, like I just received the scolding I deserved and needed. Read what sparked this here.

I found the article by pure accident, or was it? I was looking through a friends blog and clicking on links in her blog roll, and then another, and then there it was - calling to me. I knew it would hit a nerve the minute I read the title. And it did.

I am so guilty.

It makes perfect sense. This is why my children are always clamoring for time on any of our electronic devices. This is why my son sits on the desk chair swiveling around and around waiting to "do something". This is why my baby girl grabs at the phone when ever it is in reach. This is why my other daughter just asked "can I do something on the computer, pretty please". This is why my back hurts - I've been spending too much time in front of the computer. I haven't set a very good example.

In the past I have used the computer as a retreat, an escape. When things get rough, when I am feeling down, alone, angry, bored... and those feelings come up more often then I would like to admit, I find solace with a keyboard and a screen. I find comfort in routine and for a while now "this" has been my routine when no other existed. There is no other way that I have found to pass the time that works as effectively, and that seems to be the mode I have been operating in for some time. What feels like 10 minutes turns out to be a hour or more.

I don't know if it was the move, the summer that never seemed the end, the stress of starting over again in a new city, or dealing with extended family drama (possibly of my own making, at this point I don't know). Whatever it was I chose to deal with it one way when there were probably other ways. I should try exercise again, it worked before!

I can add "I am almost done" when my children ask for something to yesterday's list of things I wish I didn't say. I say it far too often, and just did. I am blogging, while watching Netflix, congratulating myself on my multi-tasking skills while one kids naps, the other plays Xbox, the other is watching a movie and yet another is begging to do something on the computer. If identifying the problem is the first step to recovery - mission accomplished.

Starting today I am instituting Hands-Free Wednesdays. This blog will be going silent on Wednesdays of each week. In the presence of my children I will no longer be checking my phone, iPad, laptop, or desktop. With this many kids there are always children present, so the easiest way to deal with it is to remove it altogether - at least for a day.  You know, start small and conquer one day at a time. I used to operate that way... before. I could do it again. And now that I said it, I will.

The world will not end if I don't have something to say 5 days a week. A mid week break will do me good. Thank you for reading... I still have lots on my mind and my husband is tired of hearing it.

Wish me luck - it isn't going to be easy.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top Ten Things I WIsh I Never Had To Say

It's time for another top 10 list! Today is dedicated to the life of a stay at home mom and things I wish I never had to say.

  1. Stop screaming!
  2. Get your hands out of your pants!
  3. Don't hit your sister!
  4. How many times do I have to tell you to xxxxxx?
  5. Your hands smell like your bum, go wash them.
  6. Leave the baby alone!
  7. Make a mess in your own room.
  8. When did you brush your teeth last?
  9. Who forgot to wipe? And flush?
  10. Wait just a minute while I wash the poop off my hand.

Yes, this list is heavy on the bodily functions/smells... but that is the stage of life we are in at the moment.

And an extra one, because it just came out of my mouth: Be quiet! You are going to wake the baby!

Do you find yourself saying any or all of these things?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Strength in Numbers

For the longest time I really felt like I was the only one going through this life changing journey. You can imagine my delight when I started blogging and discovered a whole new group of people who were on it with me.

I have come to know at least a dozen women who are in exactly the same position I am: Surgical spouse, fellowship, kids, thirty something, interviewing, etc. I am not the rarity I once thought I was. There are hundreds, if not thousands of us!

You have been my saving grace.

Regardless of where you are on your journey there is comfort knowing that you aren't doing it alone. There is power in making connections with those who have successfully navigated the waters and from those who are just starting to push off from the shore. I have been blessed by my associations with you all.

The Internet is an amazing tool for connecting people from all over the world who share common experiences. The inaugural Medical Mondays Blog Hop was a success: 35 bloggers linked up, and most of them I didn't know before! Our hope is to link even more in the future.

Our next blog hop is scheduled for Monday September 3rd 2012. Mark your calendar! Please consider linking your blog and helping us spread the word to other medicine families with blogs. It is an opportunity to share your story, your business, your hobby, your passions, and your experience with others who "get" where you are coming from.

Maybe you have been thinking about starting your own blog, do it! Somebody may need to read something that only you can write.


Friday, August 17, 2012

My HOT Date!

While writing the "I am so lucky post" this week, I realized that my DrH and I haven't had a date out of the house, and without the kids, since before we moved. In fact, the last time we were alone outside of the house was at his graduation dinner. That was in June. It is now the middle of August, and no wonder I have been losing my marbles.

If the DrH and I haven't had a date out alone, that means that for the last two months I haven't really been alone either. That spells disaster. I have said it before - and I should pay more attention to what I say/write: GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!

Sure enough, when I thought about it... not counting grocery shopping, I can't remember the last time I did something non-essential outside of the house. I should have seen this train wreck coming sooner and acted swiftly.

So last night I took myself out on a mid-week date. DrH came home at 7:00 pm, the kids had dinner and all he had to do was put them to bed. I had planned to catch a movie, but there wasn't anything that I really wanted to see. But, the idea of sitting in a dark movie theater alone sounded really nice. Yes, I have done that before. I have even taken myself out to dinner, alone. You do what you have to do.

This time I settled on Barnes & Noble. It was 7:30 pm. There were no children in the store. I should have asked them to change the music, but I was just happy to be out of the house doing something I never get to do. Usually, I find refugee at the library. In our new city, the public library isn't very convenient and B&N is just up the street.... I wanted to maximize my alone time.

Of course before I enter the store proper I was stopped in my tracks by their last chance, super bargain books and took my time reading every title before walking in. I love book stores. I love books. I looked around my temporary haven and thought to myself "what do I want to read about today".

What a treat it is to be out in public, at a book store, with no one to pull your arms and drag you to a section of the store that you have no interest in going. I didn't even look at a single children's book. I didn't even dare venture near that section.

I walked through the store picking up every book that caught my eye and sat down in a chair that I remember being more comfortable at the last B&N that I visited. But I was grateful to have a chair in a secluded corner of the store all to myself.

Two hours later I had flipped through a picture book full of luxury home floor plans. They were all beautiful, but I couldn't figure out how they could claim luxury when most of them only had 3 bedrooms. We are going to need something a little more practical and less luxurious.

Next was a cookbook, the companion to the Bob Greene's Best Life Diet. I have his book, and have tried a few of the recipes that are printed in it. Who doesn't want to eat better? At this point I would be happy if I just started cooking real food more often.

Then it was on to works of fiction. I joined a book club, and thumbed through the pages to get a feel for length and subject. Sorry B&N I already bought the book off Amazon for .01 and am waiting for it. They say it has been shipped and should arrive sometime between August 17th and September 4th. How is that for a window? If it takes until the 4th book club will be over.

Then books on photography, one day I really want to learn how to take a great picture. And maybe one day I will have a camera that takes pictures that makes learning how to take great pictures no longer a necessity. I don't care what anyone says, yes the camera does matter.

And then I started reading my non-fiction selection Malcolm Gladwell's What the Dog Saw. I knew immediately that I would enjoy it. That man writes books that I like to read. I can highly recommend in no particular order: Blink, The Tipping Point and Outliers. All fantastic! Before I knew it, an entire chapter was read, and I decided that I was going to buy a book! I am now the proud owner of all his published works at the bargain price of $5.98 no less.

Two hours later, and I decided that I should probably go home, but I was a little hungry. Dairy Queen to the rescue! I don't typically like to eat anything after 7:30, but this was my first date! Thankfully they have mini-blizzards so the damage was minimized.

Husbands take note: I returned that evening in a much better mood than the one I had been in for the last few weeks. Get me out of the house!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Need To Eat Like A Skinny Girl

I have come to the point in my weight loss journey where I can no longer assume that they baby weight will fall off by itself. The baby is over a year old, I am no longer breastfeeding - this weight is mine. All mine.

It isn't much - but it isn't budging, in fact it is actually on the rise. Three pounds this last month. You may be thinking that 3 pounds isn't such a big deal but when you consider I still haven't returned to my normal pre-pregnancy weight and that I am a short gal, those three pounds are significant.

That is really one of the cruel realities of being a woman of small vertical stature. Three pounds on my frame looks like 10 pounds on my 5'9" friend. I need to eat like the short girl I am and the skinny girl I want to be.

I have been using the Lose It! app on my phone for the last three years. For the last 18 months I haven't been keeping track of what I eat, I hate that part. But, I have enjoyed watching the chart change from gaining/losing the baby weight. Makes it seem like I am doing something, when I know I am not.

But now it is time to get back to work, and it is work.

My healthy weight range for my height/age is 107-140. That is a big range, and I know all to well from personal experience what I look like at the upper end of that range and I don't like it. My experience tells me that the only way I look good at 140 is when I am pure muscle. But, I am not going to the gym and I don't have the time to make it happen. When I am not pure muscle, 115 is really a better look for me. I am thinking 120 with moderate exercise would be ideal.

According to the LoseIt app, I need to eat 1,100 calories a day to get there. Are you kidding me! I might as well just give up eating good food ever again. Calories suck.

If I consume a pint of Ben & Jerry's Mint Cookie Ice cream that is my entire caloric allotment for the day. Do you know how easy it is to finish a pint of ice cream? I can do it without batting an eye lash. And it tastes so good. And seriously, who has the will power to just eat 1 serving (1/2 cup) of ice cream.

I like eating copious amounts of delicious, high-fat foods. I don't like eating my fruits and vegetables. I know fruits and vegetables have fewer calories so I need to eat more of them, but my body doesn't crave them like they do enchiladas, pot roast, pasta, baguettes, cookies, and baked goods.

Why couldn't I be 5'10"? If I were I could eat 2,090 calories, be at the lower end of the healthy weight range, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's wouldn't ruin my whole day.

One more example of how life is unfair - deal with it!

Any healthy, low-cal, yummy tasting foods in your recipe box?


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

House Keeping

The sidebar on this blog has been getting a little long, so I wanted to call something to your attention if you have been using it to connect with your favorite blogs. All of the blogs currently, and previously, on my blog roll have been categorized and listed in the LINKS tab above. Some of the blogs can still be accessed from the sidebar, but I noticed (sadly) that many of the blogs I had listed haven't posted anything in several months. I don't want to lose them as a resource, but don't want to take up space. To those who haven't blogged in a while, please come back!

Also in the LINKS tab are online magazines and articles that I have collected and tagged that you may find interesting. Granted the last time I added an article was in 2011 so I need to clean those up, too. The cleaning never ends:-)

If you would like to follow this blog by email - you can subscribe on the sidebar (upper/left). Just enter your email address. I have no idea how it all works but I trust that it does.

Now that is taken care of I can start cleaning my "real" house.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Life in a Fish Bowl

For my entire married life I feel like I've been living in a fish bowl. Everyone knows what my husband is doing (oh, ah...), and they continue to congratulate me as if I somehow strategically caught the biggest fish in the sea.  It is really annoying. I like to remind anyone who will listen that I liked him before I knew what he was going to do with the rest of his (our) life. And for that matter it wouldn't have mattered, I loved him.

The fish bowl feeling has continued everywhere we have lived. People are amazed. They look at us differently. I must be one lucky girl! What is it exactly that makes me so lucky?

Am I lucky because we left friends and family to move to another part of the country we had never seen?

Am I lucky because we have spent every holiday, birthday, special occasion without family and often without friends?

Am I lucky because we celebrate holidays when we can, never according to the calendar?

Am I lucky because we haven't had a family vacation that wasn't visiting family ever?

Am I lucky because we have missed social gatherings and opportunities to be with friends because the hospital doesn't stop at 5:00.

Am I lucky because my kids ask where daddy is when they have a concert at school and I have to tell them that he can't make it, again.

Am I lucky because my husband works the equivalent of two full time jobs, but only gets paid for one?

Am I lucky because I usually eat dinner alone, or have Mac N' Cheese with the kids?

Am I lucky because date nights happen maybe once every few months?

Am I lucky because my friends don't understand what irritates them about their husbands working late occasionally is my everyday, every week, every month?

Am I lucky because I get to stay at home with my kids all day, every day, with no breaks?

Am I lucky because the student loan payments we will get to make will be more than the average mortgage payment?

Am I lucky because one day this will all be worth it, and somehow that makes everything trivial?

What exactly is it that makes me lucky? Oh, you mean the money! Luck has nothing to do with it. There was plenty of hard work, shared sacrifice, austerity measures, doing without, going without, being without. There were plenty of tears and a whole lot of sweat. Moments of self-doubt, depression, anxiety. Days when I thought this is it! I can't live like this another minute.

How can you put a price on that? Where is the break even point where your sacrifices no longer matter because the payout is $$$? For years friends and family have discounted our struggles (emotional and financially) based on the opinion that one day this will all be worth it. After a while, you can't even vent to the people you love because they can't see past the $$ signs that are years away. Every situation is framed in that respect.

I remember a conversation I had with a family member while in the middle of residency about being worn out and that I could really use a babysitter for a few hours every week but couldn't afford one. The response that one day you can afford a babysitter did little to console me. By the time I can afford a babysitter there will be no baby to sit.

Whatever our future holds it will because we fought long and hard for it, it didn't happen over night. It didn't fall into our laps.

I am thankful my husband loves what he does. He doesn't complain about work - thank heavens!

I am thankful for the hard and ugly things I have learned about myself that I never would have discovered.

I am thankful that even without all the vacations, holidays, gifts, and dates I know that I am loved.

I am thankful that residency was hard, long, full of struggles and heartache - I hope it makes me a more compassionate and patient person.

I am thankful that the life we have made goes beyond medicine. It may take up all of our resources, but it doesn't define who we are, what our family is, or what we can do.

Maybe that does make me lucky. But how can it be luck when I know how much it took to achieve?

I am afraid the fish bowl isn't going away any time soon. I already feel the peering eyes, and taps on the glass. Let's watch and see - what will they do next?


Monday, August 13, 2012

I Strongly Dislike It When...

We were at dinner Sunday with a new couple that we met at church. It was a great evening, and then things got awkward - for me. My husband started saying something that made me cringe. He was trying to give me a compliment, and he is always very complimentary.

What a crazy concept: my husband says something nice about me and I get uncomfortable. I am really flattered that he thinks so highly of me. I find it very endearing, but I still don't like it. Public compliments always have a way of backfiring, or at least in my experience they do.

In this particular instance, he was commenting on my amazing eye for decorating, and general ability to make things beautiful. I don't see what he sees. That may have something to do with his upbringing that didn't include a lot of creativity, and mine where there were many failed attempts at creativity. But we kept trying and occasionally things turned out.

Here we are sitting in the living room of a home that is beautifully decorated and accessorized. The hostess was obviously very talented and knew how to group items, colors, textures like a pro. Her DIY projects actually turned out looking like boutique quality wears, whereas mine are more like elementary school art projects. But I have fun.

My husband pointing out what he thinks is a talent of mine was like comparing apples to oranges. Or saying that just because I drew a couple of stick figures that turned out fairly well that I was also an artist. Or saying that I play the piano because I took lessons 25 years ago even though I haven't played a note in the last 15 years. Or that because one of the thousands of pictures that I took I thought was actually good enough to frame, makes me a photographer.

I do not like it when he talks about my skill sets in the presence of those same skills which are obviously at a whole other level. I know that it is probably because of my own insecurities. In my mind I could imagine them thinking "I would love to see their house", (after all it would be a doctor's house) expecting to be delighted, and all I could see was my house. No paint, no draperies, very few pictures on the walls, not much furniture, and our living in the "make do with what we have phase" of our life. These things are not going to change during the time that we know this couple so there would be no way to recover.

It sounds like the problem is more mine than my husbands, but that still didn't stop me from asking him, when we got to the car, to refrain from making my abilities sound more amazing then they actually are. What if they wanted me to help them with something, or play the piano, or take their picture? See where I am going? That would be humiliating to have them expect something I couldn't deliver on. I'd prefer to set the bar low and let people draw their own conclusions rather than having it set too high.

Please tell me I am not the only one. Then again, you are probably justifiably awesome :-) Wait, never mind I think this is the PMS talking - I will be fine next week.


Friday, August 10, 2012

It's A Tie!

Funny things happen to my husband when he is getting ready for something important, he gets spendy. All of a sudden the things that were good enough yesterday are no longer good enough for today.

Let me start at the beginning. Somewhere along the line, long before I came into the picture, my husband was introduced to fine twilled linens, specifically those made by Armani. He bought a new suit for his medical school interviews and wore that suit for probably 10 years. It had a good life.

When it was time to interview for residency, he would have liked a new suit - but at the end of 4 years of medical school with a wife and new baby is hardly the time to buy a new Armani suit, so we settled on looking at a new tie. Not just any tie would do. We went into Nordstrom. A Burberry tie. We didn't buy it then, because reason finally grabbed hold of him (being married with children has a way of doing that). But being the good wife I was, I memorized that tie and bought it for him the next day. It was his birthday after all, and this was a moment that should be marked by a new tie - and I hadn't gotten him a gift yet. That tie landed us a residency spot in a city we loved.

Fast forward 5 years and it is now time to start interviewing for fellowship programs. It is an important interview, at an important program, with important people. He is afraid that old suit won't make the right impression so the suit hunt begins. I am a wet towel and tell him that an Armani suit will not make magic happen. I balance the books around here and there is no money for an Armani suit. He tries them on, they look great, he really wants one. No can do. So the poor man settles for a Brooks Brother Suit in a fabric that won't wrinkle, on sale at the outlet store. (Incidentally, he loves that suit). New suit lands us our prime fellowship in a city we love.

Now we are on the cusp of THE interview of all interviews. This is the interview that has been in the making for the last two decades (almost). This is the interview in the city that is THE ONE. So what does he do? Time to buy a new tie! The man has dozens of ties. I get the whole psychological reasoning for wanting a new tie, I do. If it makes him feel more confident, then it is what it is.

Let me remind you that we have just spent our entire savings moving to this new state and getting set up/licensed/etc and we will have gone a month without a paycheck. We head to the Macy's near our neighborhood to look at the ties, and he selects a Tommy Hilfiger tie on sale $39. It was a nice tie, but what do I know - they all look alike to me. Not to him.

Later that night I catch him online looking at Armani ties. Before I know it he has located the nearest Neiman Marcus and we are planning a trip. I say a trip because we don't live in the part of town that has a Neiman Marcus, we have a Macy's.

My husband is giddy. On the freeway we see a Lamborghini. As we pull into the parking garage we see another Lamborghini. I can't remember the last time we saw two in the same day. Remember my husband is the car guy, without a car. He has one, he just doesn't like it. Where are we?

By divine providence we park on the same level, on the same side as the men's department so we don't have to look lost for too long. We are not Neiman Marcus material, and I don't ever think we will be. No offense to anyone who shops there, I am sure it is lovely. Going there with children in tow really livens the day up. I picked up what looked to be an over-sized bowling ball bag from the clearance table. I thought it looked like a nice overnight bag. But for $2,500 I think I can make do with what I already own. Kids, don't touch anything! He asks me if I want to look around? NO, thank you very much I just want to leave as soon as possible.

In the end he left happy with his $165 Armani tie. How can something so small cost so much? It is a tie!  If this tie gets us THE job, I won't bring it up ever again and will forever revere the name Armani.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


It is Olympic season - GO USA!

Yesterday evening we had the rare opportunity to spend more than just a few minutes together. That meant we were watching the Olympics, or rather he was watching the Olympics and I was sitting next to him.

During a commercial break I asked him "what is it about the Olympics that you like so much"? (Because I can only watch a few events, he likes them all.)

His response was not surprising,  "I like hearing the athletes story. So many of them have been training for years for this moment. Their families have made significant sacrifices to get them to this point and are in the stands at every event. Most of them aren't professionals, so they don't do this for the money. I could care less to watch the basketball Olympics games - they are all paid athletes, and it doesn't have the same feeling. But knowing how hard they worked to get here and how much this means to them makes it exciting to watch."

Hmmmm. Does that sound like anybody you know? It does to me:-)

GO Doctor!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Double Dip

Can you sense I have something on my mind: SLEEP!

We need a new mattress. We shouldn't, because we just bought one two years ago, but we do.

After 15 years the mattress that we had needed to be replaced. I was pregnant and not sleeping well. It had visible "dipping" where each of our bodies rest even when our bodies weren't there. With a king size bed you get two dips instead of one. No amount of turning, flipping, adjusting helped. It needed to be replaced. You can imagine my thrill at having to spend money for that, and the seriousness of the matter because we did.

We went to the mattress store and tried several mattresses. We even went to the Sleep Number (I want one) and Tempurpedic stores (my husband wants one) and tried their mattresses. In the end we decided on a traditional box spring set. We didn't buy the cheapest, but we didn't buy the most expensive either. We found a nice compromise and paid about $1,000.

It was a very comfortable mattress for the first year. It was firm yet soft in just the right places. It had 4 inch memory foam pillow top and we loved it - and then one day we didn't.

Eventually, we both started waking up sore and unrested. The memory foam seemed to have lost the "memory" and the support for my lower back was all but gone. If we tried to sleep next to one another, the dipping was even more apparent.

There was a sweet spot right in the middle of the mattress where neither one of us slept that still had the firmness intact. But anyone sleeping there would immediately roll into the dip the other created. Needless to say, sleeping next to each other was not comfortable for anyone. (And my husbands internal temperature feels at least 10 degrees warmer to me - that man is HOT!)

Now, two years after buying a mattress, that is no longer performing, I wish we would have thrown caution to the wind and bought a better mattress. What mattress might that have been, we still can't decide. I liked the Sleep Number, he liked the Tempurpedic. But we both agree that good sleep is priceless.

Considering the few hours that my husband gets to sleep, I need those hours spent in restorative sleep - not frustrated sleep. And because I get more sleep, I want to enjoy every moment of it:-)

Does anyone have a mattress that they really like and could recommend?


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Three Alarms

One I need to deactivate.
One I need to set.
One I need to ignore.


Our rental house has a security system. It isn't currently being monitored but that doesn't stop it from doing its thing.... making noise. For the first month we were able to just hit a button and it would stop. And then one day I guess I hit the wrong button and somehow activated the thing.

The next time we opened the front door it started going off and I had no idea how to turn it off. Every time we went out the garage door, same thing. It would go off for a good 20 minutes.

The first time it happened, I immediately ran to the bathroom to put on some makeup and put a bra on just in the case the fire department showed up. Luckily, they didn't.

It was pretty embarassing when you are sitting in a house with the alarm going off and you know the neighbors who are outside can hear it. It is so loud. So loud it wakes up sleeping babies:-)

We were getting ready to call the management company to see if they knew how to turn it off. How would they? But what else could we do? It wasn't battery operated, it was hard wired.

I remembered there was a stack of documents in one of the kitchen cabinets that had owners manuals and the home builder information. Luckily, someone had scribbled the code on the front of the manual for the security system. So now we can turn it off, we just have no idea how to deactivate it completely. But at least we aren't forced to listen to it.


Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard the age old adage "early to bed, early to rise  makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy, and wise". This girl stays up too late and can't get out of bed before the kids do.

One of the things I have noticed that contributes to a better day is getting up before they do. Not just eyes awake before, but up showered, dressed with shoes before.

I tried waking up at 4:30 am with my husband and it worked for 1 day. That day was awesome. I accomplished more that day, than any other day I can remember. And most of it was done before the kids woke up. I wasn't able to repeat that performance.

I  haven't actually used an alarm clock (with the exception of having to wake up to travel) since having kids. Small children are my alarm clock and they have never let me sleep past 7:30.

If 4:30 is to early, and 7:30 is too late (although my body is fully accustomed to this time) I need to start utilizing an alarm clock if I am going to make this work. That also means I need to get to bed earlier, which I should do to help my husband sleep more.

Not to mention that school starts later this month and I need to get kids up and moving instead of letting them make their own schedule.


For the last six years I have heard the same pager go off a couple nights a week. Then for a period of 2-3 months I didn't hear it a single night. Then we started fellowship and he was issued a new pager with a new sound.

The first night I heard it go off I thought it was the fire alarm and was starting to execute our evacuation plan, and then cursed myself for not having an evacuation plan. It was just the pager.

With a little coaxing I was able to convince my husband to change the "beep" to a sound I was more familiar with - and one that I had already learned to block out.

**Don't forget to check back this week for new additions to the Medical Monday's Blog Hop. I have already found several blogs to add to my reading list from other resident wives, nurses, and even a real life doctor. The link up is available all week so come back often!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Medical Monday's Blog Hop Is Here!!!!

Time to link up your medical/med life blog!

Here are the rules:

  1. Follow your co-hosts.
  2. Link up you medical/med life blog. If your blog name does not clearly state how you fit in to the med/med life world, please write a little intro or link up a specific post which clearly demonstrates your connection.
  3. Visit at least 3 other link ups!
  4. Help spread the word by using our button on your post or sidebar, tweet about Medical Monday, or spread the word on Facebook! The more the merrier for all of us!

Complete step one by following your co-hosts:

Be sure to comment and let everyone know you found them through Medical Mondays BlogHop!

Interested in Guest Co-Hosting in the Future?
Email Emma at or say so when you comment below.


Friday, August 3, 2012

A Mommy's To Do List

Last week I made to-do charts for my kids. I know, how awesome is that. My purpose was motivated by pure selfishness with a close secondary interest for their character.

For far too long I have taken 100% responsibility for all the household chores (my husband helps). Occasionally, I would ask the kids for help, but we didn't have anything official. Most of the time it was just easier and faster for me to do it myself. And I like having a clean house so waiting for them was torture.

One day it dawned on me (for the thousandth time) that these little people are perfectly capable of cleaning up their own messes and I was ready to do something about it. Yes, I knew that before. I was just seriously overwhelmed by what it would take to actually do it, and before I knew it they were well past the age that they should have been doing it.

There was always something keeping me from it. The bottom line was I didn't have the patience to teach my kids to clean. Let's face it, patience is a skill that isn't mastered easily. It takes... well, patience. Have I mentioned that I am not a patient person? I like things done right and done now. That methodology doesn't work well with small children. It doesn't work well with adults either!

The configuration of our rental house has helped spur my desire to get them working and taking responsibility for the work they create for others. Finally, we have separate spaces for children and adults. The downstairs has the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom - I can keep my spaces as clean as I want them. The kids rooms are all upstairs and the only reason I have to go up is to put the baby down. I don't have to look at dirty rooms. What a brilliant floor plan!

So I have tinkered and tried a few things and I think we are on our way to something that might actually last. I have thought about, introduced, and given up multiples times. We are starting small and will add things to it as we go.

They have basic responsibilities like making their bed, getting dressed, and putting their clothes away that they have to do. And then I have attached specific rewards to completing extra assignments. I have no problem whatsoever with my children taking all day to clean their room. Sure, I would like it to be done sooner, but the longer it takes them the less My Little Pony I have to hear, the less often I have to find something for them to do - because the "to-do" is clean your room. There is less TV watching, less computer time, less game system time, less of all the stuff I knew they should be doing less of anyway!

Sure there was some complaining in the beginning, but after a few short weeks we have finally reached the place where they know what needs to be done without me asking/nagging. Pure Heaven! I walk into the kitchen and see little bowls and spoons removed from the table and put in the sink. We are making progress. And as a bonus, they have started to entertain themselves and play again.

The other day I told the kids that when they had finished cleaning their rooms and the play area that we could go swimming. It was 4:00 before that happened. It might have been earlier but we still have naps for the baby to work around. Eventually they will catch on to what most of us know - you can play when the work is done.

And then the big mommy moment - I don't play by my own rules! See I usually do the fun things first and save the hard work for latter. Just ask my floors. I have been meaning to get on my hands and knees and scrub that grout until it shines. But I would rather do something else. Here I am.

What am I teaching my children?

So in the spirit of shared responsibility and accountability I made up my very own Mommy Reminder  to help me do what I already know I should.

And maybe if I am a good girl and finish all my work I can play with my friends. Have a great weekend!

Don't forget the blog hop starting on Monday at 12:00 am EST. It's Medical Mondays - You can read more about it here.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Am A Good Neighbor

You know who makes the best next door neighbors? Stay At Home Moms?

Yesterday as I was sitting at the computer this nice, older, grandmotherly woman with a dog came to my door. She was panicked. She had gone outside to let the dog out and locked herself out of the house..... with a 6 week old baby sitting in the swing and her phone on the counter.

Oh, no.

I try to reassure her, that babies that young sleep all the time and everything will be fine. Is there a spare key anywhere? NO. Is there an open window? NO. Does the garage door lift with a handle? NO.

She is afraid that the mother is going to kill her. Why? Because this is the first time that she has watched the baby alone. She doesn't know the mothers phone number. She doesn't know where she works. We try to find her number in the phone book. Who is listed in the phone book anymore! We try to find her online, no luck.

She uses my phone to call her husband who is at home, but  isn't interested in answering the phone with an unknown area code from out of state (that would be me).

She calls another number, no one answer. Those must be the only two numbers that she knows. We call, and call, and call.

I suggest that maybe we call the fire department or a lock smith. Surely they could help. She is terrified that she will be reported as an unfit mother.

She asks for a towel so that she can break the glass. I can imagine that is going to go over well. Its the middle of summer and HOT outside.

Finally, we get a hold of the husband and he drives over. They are the baby's grandparents and don't know their own daughters phone number. Heavens, I only know a handful of numbers myself. Our super smart phones make it impossible to learn a string of numbers and store them in our heads.  I offer her a glass of water and a place to sit, but she insists on waiting by the door or window so she can hear/see the baby.

I felt so bad for her. But glad that at least someone in this neighborhood was home! So, if you need to leave a key with someone - pick at stay at home mom:-)

I did feel bad, because we have lived here for a month and still haven't introduced ourselves to our neighbors. Perhaps if we had we could have proved more helpful. A towel, a phone, and a glass of water was all we were able to provide.

Phew, good thing we don't have doors that automatically lock behind us. Surely, this would have already happened to me!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What Color Are Your Scrubs

This could be the title of a new personality profiling system for doctors and health care providers. But it isn't. Instead it is a purely vain question.

What color are your scrubs?

My husband came home from the hospital with the most hideous colored scrubs I had ever seen. They even had a pink draw string.

Surely, these couldn't be his scrubs.

Yet, they were - and all the male and female surgeons wear them.

Who picks out these colors? What happened to regular colored scrubs? What about the beautiful blue scrubs that play up your eyes?

I am far too vain to wear ugly scrubs, or colors that didn't flatter my skin tone. In fact, if I were a surgeon, I might even go so far as to exclude hospitals with ugly scrubs from my match rank list, and certainly wouldn't consider them for a job unless in the contract I was exempted from wearing their ugly colored scrubs.

If they selected this particular color because the were worried about people making off with their scrubs, they don't have to worry about us - you couldn't give these away!