Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coming To A Device Near You

Hello blogger friends! Have you seen a calendar lately? It's nearing the end of January which in my book means it is almost the beginning of February which translates to Medical Mondays. Yes, it is right around the corner and not a moment too soon. February is the second month of the new year and one month closer to spring.

Emma and Jane are your delighted co-hosts and wish to welcome our guest co-host for February, Ashlie Schooler and invite you to check out her blog The Schooler's Journey. If you have a chance stop by and tell her hi and then come back again on Monday and see what everyone has posted.

Need some ideas for a blog post this month? I've been having a bit of writers block myself so feel free to use any of these suggestions:

  • Valentine's Day for 1 - how do you celebrate when your significant other isn't home.
  • Valentine's Day traditions - what must you always do.
  • Valentine's Day for kids - anything fun to share.
  • Forget Valentine's Day! What holiday is your favorite to celebrate in February? There are plenty to choose from. Love me some Ground Hog Day:-).
  • How to survive 4 straight days indoors because of the freezing weather.
  • Must have winter wardrobe staples.
  • Pajamas or Yoga pants.

You get the idea - anything goes on Medical Mondays! Tell your friends, even the imaginary ones - you know the ones I'm talking about.

So start writing now and we will meet back here on Monday February 3rd and all week for Medical Mondays.


Monday, January 27, 2014

It Sounded Like Fun!

The notion of building a custom home from the ground up (or nearly the ground up) is a romantic one to say the least. Everything seems so easy and beautiful, and then you leave the builders office only to realize you have no idea what you just agreed to do. In reality it is closer to a nightmare than a dream.

Houses don't build themselves. We all know that. But have you ever given much thought to all the tiny little things that go into making a house? When you build a custom home you get a fast education on nuts and bolts. Yes, nuts and bolts.

Houses take time to build. You don't decide to build and then 90 days later move in. It is laborious process. It is amazing to watch how things are orchestrated and what happens when one of the cogs gets out of sync. We have had more cogs out of sync than in sync.

Not only does it take time to build, it takes time to decide what to put in it. Just when you think you have made a final decision something happens to change your mind. It might be a contractors suggestion. It could be that you got home and actually thought it through. It could be the weird look the sales person gave you. What seems to be so easy and effortless is actually mind blowing.

On top of the time it takes to build and decide what to put it in, it takes time driving to the endless meetings and driving out to the project to say "yes" or "no", "here" or "no there". And when you have small children and live 40 minutes away from the project and they need you there now you understand why your hair is changing color and falling out in chunks. This project has been my full-time job. It has consumed my every waking minute. There is always something more to be done.

Every time you move anything, cha-ching. Want the sink in a different location? Want to move a light fixture? Want to change a can to a fixture? CHA-CHING.  Seemingly small things are never small. And everything is more expensive than you think it is. Much more expensive than you expect.

We have had to pick out and make decisions about things I have never given thought to:

  • style of toilet paper roll holder
  • color and style of light switches
  • grout colors
  • toilet seats
  • door knobs
  • door casings
  • door swing directions
  • height of bathroom lights 
  • pattern of bricks
  • pattern of tiles on roof
  • cabinet handles and hinges

The sheer volume of choices in each category is difficult to understand.

One decision all by itself isn't so hard. When 300 decisions have to be made and approved, it is overwhelming. Oh, and each of those decisions comes with a price tag. So instead of just buying a house, you buy individual pieces of a house one by one until the puzzle is complete. And when you get to the end and discover that you have spent 10% more than you anticipated, well, that is just the icing on the cake. That and it is too late to do anything about it - that would be the cherry on top.

While we are building this house for our family, our family has certainly suffered for it. Mom is distracted, can't sleep, always working on something, worrying that things aren't going to get done right, afraid that our bank accounts will be hacked and our money will disappear before closing, or terrified that once it is finished I might not love it as much as I imagined.

I have said it before and I will say it again. If there are two choices to be made I will certainly pick the most difficult one. It would have been so much easier to buy a house already finished, and some days I kick myself for not doing it. First, you know exactly what you are getting. Second you know how much it is going to cost. Lastly, it is over fairly quickly.

I have no idea what the finished product is going to look like despite the fact that I was involved in every decision. I have a rough idea of what the final cost will be (and I'm not smiling) and won't be known until it is really over. It has taken a solid 6 months and we probably won't be ready to move for another few months.

I am going to be so glad when this is all over. I have been in a very bad place for months now (expensive + time consuming = grouchy). Yes, I will have everything exactly the way I want and I probably won't remember how awful the process was in a few years. But I have sworn to my family and friends that I will NEVER do this again!


Monday, January 20, 2014

The Road Less Traveled Could Be Beautiful

To some extent I think we all believe that we take the proverbial "road less traveled". Who really says, I just do what everybody else does and hope it all works out? Remember when your parents would ask you "if all your friends were jumping off a cliff would you?" Parents are so wise, even when you have long established yourself as an adult - at least according to the numbers.

It may be more appropriate to exclaim that I take the hard road! When two decisions are placed before me I choose the one that will probably inflict the most pain for the longest period of time. Because if it doesn't hurt a little is it really worth it? Pain is gain! As humans I thought we were programmed to take the path of least resistance. I suppose much depends on your definition of resistance.

In my Making Mistakes series, my last mistake referenced a certain house that may or may not turn out to be a huge mistake. We should know how much torment that decision inflicts soon enough. The process itself has been quite painful! A story for another post.

We have spent the last 6 months saving like that was our full-time job only to discover that now that we have saved a significant amount I don't want to part with it and start over again at a much slower pace due to the baggage (mortgage) we will be carrying.

But it is too late to turn back now. We are contractually obligated to forfeit our savings, all of it, and start over.  It hurts. It is easy to spend money when you have no money. It's just paper, and a promise to pay it back. But when you have actually earned it by the sweat of your brow, choosing rice and beans over meat.... those dollars mean something. When the money you spend represents something you guard it with you life!

By now you probably also know that once you start looking at something, anything, there is a very good chance that the "thing" is going to be in your possession. It could be a purse, car, house, jewelry, book, vacation, bike, sofa, etc.  If you look at anything long enough and often enough something is going to happen. It is the way the universe works even though I don't have any scientific data to point to - just my personal experience.

We started looking at houses the minute we had our job offer, about 9 months before we would start practice. That is a lot of time. I knew everything about every neighborhood in our desired area. I checked new MLS listings before getting our of bed every morning. I mapped, I googled, I had parents and in-laws drive by.  It helped that we had both lived in the city and knew its surroundings fairly well. Rather, knowing the city just sped things up. We knew this was the final stop on our journey so buying a house was in our future.  (Let me rephrase, we hope this is our last stop on the journey - there are no guarantees in life.)

Even with all of that looking and researching I was convinced that we weren't going to buy a house right away. I just wanted to be acquainted with the market, or so I told myself. Reason suggests that you have to have some money to buy a house, and we had none. What harm could there be in looking when you don't have the funds to make anything happen? We were in no danger of having someone give us money, or winning the lottery. It was just innocent fun. On a "research" trip out to our new city we contacted a trusted realtor and started looking inside the houses we had seen online. That was a lot of fun! Are you starting to see how things happen?

We looked during that trip and then immediately after we arrived in July. And then because my husband had almost a full month off before he started work we decided that would be the perfect time to keep looking. Not because we were prepared to buy, but because we had the time. What else were we going to do? Time isn't always a friend. Remember the saying about idle hands?

Our house! It is everything we were looking for. Right neighborhood, excellent location. It was perfect, except for the price. Even I knew it would be a stretch on top of the high property taxes in the area, but not impossible if we budgeted right. As much as I wanted it, and could easily imagine our family living there and building a life,  I patted myself on the back for walking away. I watched the house for months before we saw it, toured it twice, drove by it nearly every week, and watched it until the day it sold. Even now when we drive through the neighborhood we stop to admire it. It was the one that got away! Thank heavens - that would have been a big, beautiful, expensive mistake.

During this same time we found another neighborhood in a suburb I never would have considered until I discovered that my kind of homes (think igloo in Miami) existed in only two neighborhoods among a population of almost 5 million people. The one area was out of my price range, and the other out of my comfortable distance from the city. We were looking for a needle in a haystack.

Through what seemed like divine providence, and may very well prove to be, we found a home in a beautiful, new, custom, gated neighborhood that had been started with foundation and framing completed. Did I mention this all happened before we even had our first paycheck? The builder had started while between other projects and was waiting for the perfect buyer to finish it.  US!  It wouldn't be completed for months which would give us time to save our down payment. It followed the same purchasing model as a resale home instead of a new construction loan. The builder was flexible with our earnest money and allowed us to make installments over a few months. Really too good to be true, but it is true. And soon enough we will have a house. That may be all we have.

While I am excited I am also terrified. Now that we have saved our down payment I realize just what that money could do.  If we were to continue saving and living at the same rate we are now we could be debt free in another 2 1/2 years. That is all, granted we wouldn't own a home, but we wouldn't have any debt! In a total of 3 years out of practice we could pay off our student loans and our two cars. In anther 6 months (without those pesky student loans and car payments) we could have saved for a down payment on a house equal to what we are purchasing - assuming all things stay the same.

I can imagine what that would feel like, and that is all I will be able to do... imagine. There are so many more options available when you don't have debt and do have money in the bank. That would have been the road less traveled and it could have been beautiful. It would have been courageous and honorable, something to be proud of, and an example for our children. But I didn't do it.

The world needs more courage in the face of difficult decisions. The world needs more people willing to say no to debt and yes to savings. I wish it could have been me. I wanted to be in that camp! I look at the few people that I know who are living debt free and I envy them. They are a small happy group. But in the end didn't choose to join them. I read stories about people who make the decision to live without debt and cheer for them and applaud their journey and triumph. I read Dame Ramsey books and The Millionaire Next Door. But ultimately dismissed that path for myself and my family.

I feel like a complete dupe. My husband works in a highly compensated surgical specialty. It could have been relatively easy. Sure it would have been mildly uncomfortable for another 3 years, but what is 3 years when you compare that to what we have already been through, or the difficulty that we will know for years trying to payoff student loan debt and save for a meaningful retirement with a mortgage starting all of this after the age of 40?

We say we want to be debt free and fund a comfortable retirement, but our decisions when it comes to tangible purchases don't support those desires. When it comes down to it we all find ways to justify getting the things we want. Our rationalization sounded a lot like this:

  • If we wait any longer to buy a house we love we might as well just buy a retirement home.
  • Housing prices and interest rates are moving up!
  • We have 4 kids, I would be different if we had 1 or 2. We need the space.
  • Our kids deserve to have a place to call home, 4 locations in 9 years isn't fair to the kids.
  • I don't want to move the kids during their impressionable years when making friends become more difficult.
  • I don't want to wait any longer, we have already sacrificed so much.
  • We can afford it!
  • We will be the only people in the 40+ age bracket we know without a house.
  • Our financial advisor says it will help reduce our oppressive tax burden.

Definition of justify: to prove or show something to be just, right, or reasonable.

Definition of rationalize: attempt to explain or justify one's own or another's behavior or attitude with plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate.

Whether we justified or rationalized our decision, it has been made. Now we get to live with it. The truth is that in 3 years from now when I am writing checks for payments on our cars, student loans, and mortgage I might cry a little knowing it could have been different. By some miracle maybe we can make it all happen - that's what the rest of us say who take the same road as the majority. Sounds like the definition of insanity - doing the same thing yet expecting different results.

Only time will tell.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Wake Me Up When It's All Over

I am not a pop radio kind of gal. In fact, while driving I prefer to listen to books on tape (reminder: need to confess to the library that I lost an cd) or the sound of pure undefiled silence. And then I remember that I have a van full of children and that silence while in the car is a near impossibility so we end up listening to "kid approved" music or dvd's. There are moments when complete silence in achieved but usually only when I am alone. I don't make a sound:-)

So on the rare day that I was alone and listened to radio in the car I heard this great song that I thought could be my theme song for this year: Wake Me up by Avicii. Apparently, it isn't new and I am just late getting to the party. I am usually a very timely person, but I have checked out of more than one thing this year. And in the case of popular music it has been a very long time.

Back to the song. Wake me up when it's all over (please), when I am wiser and I'm older (yes - but not too old). Can I please sign up for this? The past year has been insane and we are at the tail end of one part of insanity and bracing for another. I really just want to go to bed and wake up 6 weeks from now when all the stuff I don't want to deal with is over and I don't have to think about it again. I am tired and worn down. I feel broken and at my wits end. I am ready to give up but I can see the finish line I just don't know if I have what it takes to make it.

This has really been a common theme for basically my entire life. I just want to check out and reappear when the hard part it over. I realize I have made it through some pretty crazy things and have come out of top. Not the kind of physical difficulties that are obvious, but the deep emotional and mental torments that can drive a person crazy.

Then I read about a woman who lost her husband and was left with three small children only to find out the next day that she is pregnant. Yeah, I don't have anything to complain about. Nothing like a dose of that to snap you out of it. Somehow the difficulties of building your dream house don't see to rank on this list of things to get down about. More on that to come.

Between the song and all the terrible things I know happen to people, if this is all I have to deal with then checking out is just plain cowardly. Maybe this song is really my anti-theme song. I can do this, no reason to fall asleep and miss all the good character building that is going on right now.

Do you have a them song for the new year?


Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year with Medical Monday's

It's a New Year! I love new beginnings and fresh starts and even though they are available throughout the year knowing that the entire world is trying to better for the first couple of days in January is encouraging:-)

This year I only have two resolutions, both of which I am determined to make happen. Neither of them have to do with food or exercise for the first time in years. I figure if only these two things happen in the next twelve months I should be a very happy woman!

1. I am going to move into a new house
2. My toddler will be potty trained before we move

And of course, I resolved to always spend the first Monday of the month with my favorite bloggers.

Medical Monday Link-Up and BlogHop

Are you confused if you qualify for the party?

If you have a pager interrupting your life... you DEFINITELY qualify!
Do you work in healthcare?
Doctor? Nurse? EMT? Chiropractor? Vet? Dentist? Therapist?
Are you the spouse or SO of a healthcare worker/student?
Are you a nursing student? Medical student?
Intern? Resident? Fellow?

You get the picture, right? Come on, now... don't be shy! Let's keep growing and meeting new bloggers, so we can build a community of support and friendship, learn from one another, and share our stories.


Here are the rules:
  1. Follow your co-hosts via Bloglovin, GFC (if you are Blogger), FB, email or Twitter.
  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, comment, introduce yourself, and tell the your stopping by or following from MM!
  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:
Want to be awesome? Help us spread the word by grabbing and posting the Medical Monday button on your post or sidebar...

Want to co-host next month? Shoot Emma an email at and be sure to write "Medical Monday Co-host Request" in the subject field.

Now, link up below and have fun! The link up is open through Friday, so be sure to come back during the week to check some great reads!