adults

I know that at this point in my life, I should probably feel like an adult – a real bonifide grow-up person.   But I just don’t.  Maybe it’s because my other half can get the student discount at the movies.  Or maybe it’s because I spend a lot of my life with people who are one and four.  Or maybe it’s because I spend a large part of my work life with teenagers.  (Last week, we were trying to come up with group names for our NEW! Evening Women’s Group at church as well as our NEW! Middle School Girls Bible Study.  I made a few suggestions at the women’s group – some not-so-serious like “ladies of the night” – but some others that I thought were great like “soul sisters”.  The women did not like any of my ideas, but the middle school girls LOVED “Soul Sisters”  which you can pronounce “Soul Sistas” if you’d like, so perhaps I do think more like a middle school girl than a grown-up woman).

I do feel more like a grown-up today, however, than I did a month ago.  In the past month or so, our tasks have included:

  • Refinancing our mortgage
  • Celebrating the FOURTH birthday of our firstborn
  • Taking our second born for his 15 month well visit
  • Making living wills
  • Making wills*
  • Meeting with two different lawyers and a mortgage broker
  • Making copies of aforementioned living (and post-death) wills as well as copies of the keys to our firesafe box to give to our executor and alternate executor.
  • Switching banks (from a mega evil bank to a local bank – which we hope is less evil)
  • Switching information on all automated payment accounts because of bank switch (FYI – this is a pain in the butt)
  • Switching cable/internet providers
  • Organizing our files
  • Buying a shredder
  • Interviewing for residency programs (ok, this is just Russ)
  • Making plans to start a DMin program next year (ok, this is just me)**

All of these words just sound boring and grown-up.  And the actual doing of the tasks that include these boring words is just a bit overwhelming.  Perhaps this is why the last few weeks has also included the use of a heating pad on multiple occasions because of back and neck pain.

*Whilst making our wills we had to calculate all of our assets (house, cars, bank accounts, investments) and liabilities (mortgage, car loan, student loans) and we have a negative net worth, so I guess we’re not so grown-up afterall…or maybe we are.  But not to fear, Russ reminded me again that if he dies, his student loans go away, so I’ll be ok.  If I die, Russ is screwed – for the next four years anyway…after that, he won’t really need me.

**That’s right folks, we’ll both be Drs.   Our poor children.  Also, this DMin (Doctor of Ministry) is REALLY exciting.  It’s a DMin program that will have a satellite HERE – so for a majority of my classwork, I don’t have to travel anywhere (if we stay HERE for residency anyway..and even if we don’t stay here, where we go will be close enough and my parents will still live here).  Also, it is a DMin program that will most likely include one course in SCOTLAND.  Also, it is a DMin program that will include only women, most of whom I already LOVE – CAN YOU TELL I’M A LITTLE EXCITED?!

Ok, so maybe being a grown-up isn’t all that bad.

looming loans

The other day, we were killing time at Target, because it is air conditioned and not inside our house.  We didn’t buy anything; just wandered around.  As we were leaving, Russ asks “Hypothetically, if I came to you and said that I had a great idea for a business and that I could guarantee that I would make $150,000 a year with it, would you let me take out a $200,000 loan to get it started?”  I knew what he was implying, but I still said “no” – mainly because in the entrepreneur/business world, you cannot guarantee success.  We went back and forth on the “hypothetical” nature of the question…because apparently my brain doesn’t work with hypothetical all that well – too much of a realist I suppose. My argument was that he couldn’t (with 100% certainty) guarantee success.  He kept saying, “But let’s say hypothetically I could”  And we repeated ourselves several times before we got to the root of the question.

We have been fortunate that we won’t be stuck with $200,000 in student loan debt when Russ finishes…but that is the average amount of medical school debt over four years.  (Not all med students are lucky enough to have a high earning sugar mama to keep them afloat).  Regardless of the amount, the hypothetical situation is basically what he is doing now.  I like to think the odds are pretty good that he will be a doctor one day and will be able to pay off the student loans rather quickly if we stick to our current lifestyle for a few years post-residency (I mean we’ve been doing it for eight years, what’s a few more).   But it’s still a pretty stressful cloud looming over our heads.

Today, I ran across this article about whether or not student loan debt was worth it.  It’s sad that all the people featured say “no”.  But they all had expectations of the jobs they would have after school that are not coming to fruition.   I suppose the same could go for medical school…but I’m still optimistic that Russ will be a part of a practice one day and that the student debt will be worth it.  And that we’ll be able to pay it back.

Though Russ did give me some good news yesterday.  If he dies while he still has student loan debt, it goes away; I’m not responsible for paying it off…hmmm….food for thought, yes?  Just kidding.  I thought it was odd that he shared this bit of information with me while we relaxed on the couch.

Russ’ loan for the fall came in this week, so we feel a little less poor (even if we are more in debt)…so we celebrated by going to McAlister’s for some sweet tea and to split a piece of chocolate cake four ways, because we are just CRAZY like that.

woe is me

Once upon a time, we had a savings account.  Seriously, we graduated seminary with savings.   We both worked three part-time jobs and got scholarships and financial aid and were ridiculously frugal.

Then I got a full-time job, so surely we would continue to save, right?  notsomuch, Russ went to school and more school.  And we bought a fixer-upper of a house.  Then we had a baby.  Then said baby got older and we had to pay for daycare.  Then we had another baby.  Then I had surgery (DUDE, medical bills are ridiculous).  Then second baby needed to go to daycare.  Then our second car died and we had to buy a new one.  And along the way, there were the normal kind of expenses and such.  Just in the last week, Russ’ car died for the last time, Russ’ phone died and had to be replaced, our AC broke, and Caleb got another ear infection (requiring a office visit and prescription copay).

So now our savings is no more.   For the first time we are really having to watch what we spend.  We’ve always been frugal…but now we’re taking it to a new level.  It’s a weird feeling, this living paycheck to paycheck thing.

But all of this is pretty ridiculous because above all else I am extremely humbled because our entire existence has been supported by the generosity of others.  Growing up, our parents provided everything we needed and much we didn’t.  In college, we were both on scholarships given by people who loved the college and invested in our future.  Same thing in seminary.   We even took it to a new level in seminary.  We got free meals whenever we could.  We drove old cars passed down to us from our parents without car payments.  All of our furniture was passed down to us from family.  Nothing was new – except the CD rack – we bought that for $20.  Russ’ grandma bought us a washer and dryer.  A refrigerator was left behind by previous tenants.   All of the other nice things we had were wedding gifts.  And even our jobs were at the seminary or the church, so our salaries were based on people giving.

And still now, I earn a living on people’s generosity.  So it makes me unbelievably grateful and humble.  And it really makes me at least attempt to be a good steward of what we have….not wasting ANYTHING…couponing…giving when we can…etc.

It’s weird to feel poor but to also look around at all of the people and things in my life and feel an embarrassment of riches* in light of true poverty and and problems in the world.   So whenever I’m feeling woe, I need to remind myself of this…and also to remember it won’t be like this forever.

I am really looking forward to being a doctor’s wife and not only not worrying about our own cash flow, but being able to be extravagantly generous with others as others have been with us.  It’s going to be fun.

*I stole the phrase from Girls Gone Child – I love it because it really describes how I feel a lot of the time.

FULL

Thank-FULL

I am a little mushy these days…just truly overwhelmed by all there is to be grateful for.   Like my family, church, friends (who are like family).  I had my appointment with the second opinion surgeon today.  I am truly thankful that Russ is in med school and therefore working at this great hospital and on his OB rotation working with a gyn-onc surgeon who knew the surgical oncologist who is DA BOMB.  Not only was he great, but every single person – nurses, NPs, techs, check-in people, financial counselors – was super nice and helpful…explaining everything and being very reassuring.  After my appointment, they sent me over to pre-op for blood work, an EKG, and to talk with the prep nurse and anesthesia np.  While there, three different people offered me a drink.

I know I’m in good hands.  Surgery is scheduled for NEXT Thursday at MUSC.  They can’t do it laproscopically because of the size and just to make sure they don’t let any of the fluid leak.  I’ll be in the hospital for 3-4 days, then home to grammy care for at least two weeks before I’m able to take care of myself and the kids.  I still won’t be able to lift Taylor for a while, so I’ll have to do some creative parenting.   I’m a little bummed about the wait, but totally worth it to be cared for by the best.

Stress-FULL

Have I said that our new pastor is great?  He is.  Today, I was cracking some (probably bad) joke about how I would be spending a lot of time on the couch in the next few weeks and how I’m not really good at sitting.  He said…”You know I think this thing (meaning my cyst) is stress…I was thinking about that e-mail you sent me about all the transition you’ve been through here, plus the two babies, and Russ in medical school…that’s a lot of stress.”

He then pointed out how in Psalm 23, it says “He MAKES ME LIE DOWN in green pastures” and tells me that I need to actually take the time off when I’m recovering.  Which is going to be really hard.  I’m not a sitter….I don’t sit still long.  There’s always something that needs doing.  And if I don’t do it, no one will.  (I know that’s not actually true, mostly)

PLUS, if I’m really gone for a few weeks, he might realize that he doesn’t need me.  And I need to be needed.

But he insisted and gave me a stress inventory thing.  It said that if you scored higher than 200, you were over you stress threshold and needed to take some time to evaluate and fix things.  I scored a 380.  Let’s recap the last 5 years:

2006 – Graduate from seminary, Russ start taking undergrad science courses, live with parents for a summer, apply and interview for jobs, start first real job, buy first house (a fixer-upper)

2007 – Still learning first job, pastor has knee replacement surgery and is out for 6 weeks, Russ finish undergrad science courses, works as ER tech and takes MCAT, get ordained, have baby

2008 – pastor of 33 years retires, solo for 5 months, Russ starts med school, BAD interim starts

2009 – bad interim gets worse and is let go, new interim, secretary of 15 years retires

2010-  new secretary, let custodian of 12 years go, new custodial service, pastor has knee replacement surgery and is out for 6 weeks, have baby, new secretary doesn’t work out, new secretary #2, interim pastor leaves, finish CE certification exam

2011 – new pastor begins, FOOTBALL CYST

Thank you God, I’ll take the hint…I’ll rest.  Maybe.  A friend posted this link about doing nothing on facebook…I couldn’t do it.  FAIL popped up within the first 15 seconds.  I’m going to try again after I post this.

Opposite of FULL

Just to make sure I win the weight loss challenge, I am fasting for two days.  TWO DAYS.  before my surgery.  I am really not exciting about the clear liquid diet leading up to the surgery…really not excited.  I really like to eat.  I’m going to be really hungry.

chaos

Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m still going to add some more.  I feel like this picture represents the last 7 months of our lives.   Total chaos.  And what you can’t see in the picture are 1000 little paper circles from the hole puncher that for some reason  (AHEM) were all over the floor instead of in a trashcan or other logical place so that they got stuck on your feet and tracked all over the house.  I don’t know how Russ was able to function in this room to study – it would drive me crazy….Heck it did drive me crazy, so I had to just close the door most of the time and pretend that the chaos didn’t exist.

Which is what I did the majority of the last 7 months – pretend the chaos didn’t exist.  Which is probably why I’ve been such a slack blogger – if I were to write, it would be about the chaos and I would have to admit that it was actually there.  Instead, I spend my evenings in denial on facebook and falling asleep at 8:00 instead of blogging most of the time.

BUT – this evening, a clean floor exists in the office once again.  The papers have all been taken to the recycling center.  The little paper circles are in the vacuum cleaner.  The turkey fryer is in the attic.  And the horse is back in the playroom.  Oh, and Russ finished his board exam.  And I feel this amazing sense of relief.  Like we have really accomplished something and are on the other side of the chaos.  Sure we also got down all of the baby things from the attic today making more real the chaos that is to come, but for now, there is a strange sense of calm and peace.

To really appreciate the peace and to feel like we really deserve it, I want to highlight some of our accomplishments from the last 7 months.

Piglet

  • Potty Trained
  • Transitioned into a new room with a real big girl bed
  • Overcoming serious sleep (lack of sleep) issues
  • Dealing with the ever present reality that she will soon not be an only child
  • Being two, which is a constant balancing act of trying to assert independence and realizing limitations – that’s hard work
  • Getting smarter and cuter everyday

Russ

  • Finished and PASSED second year of medical school and the last of his classroom work.
  • Completed the 8 hour board exam
  • Dealt with cranky pregnant wife and two year-old daughter without causing bodily harm to either
  • Continues quest to fight the church bureaucracy and be ordained
  • Being First Runner-Up in Womanless Beauty Pageant

Me

  • Being Pregnant
  • Being the mother of a two year-old
  • Being the wife of a med school student
  • Setting world records for the number of trips to the bathroom in a two-hour time period
  • Not sleeping at night (and not falling asleep at my desk or during worship…yet)
  • Surviving a month of solo pastoring AGAIN while head of staff was out with knee surgery while also training the new secretary
  • Completed my Christian Educator Certification Exam and accompanying reflection/evaluation process
  • Advent/Christmas/Ash Wednesday/Lent/Holy Week/Easter
  • Womanless Beauty Pageant/Coupon Workshop/Confirmation/Vacation Bible School/Montreat
  • Preaching more in 7 months than I thought I would in my whole life…and actually enjoying it
  • All the regular church stuff
  • Keeping the family fed, in clean clothes, and in a mostly clean house
  • Learning to play the coupon game and save our family $150+ each month

I realize that not all of these things seem like huge accomplishments, but during this pregnancy EVERYTHING feels like a huge accomplishment.  And this peace and sense of accomplishment comes at a very good time because the adrenaline that was keeping me going this past month especially officially ran out yesterday around 9:30 am and I’m pooped.

Dr. Dad

Last night, I was at youth group and get a phone call from Russ (which is rare, so I answered).   He asked with a concerned tone when I was coming home.  I then heard Piglet talking in the background (it was 7:40 and she usually goes to bed at 7:00).   Since I still wasn’t going to be home for a while, I asked why she was still up.  He said, “We’ve had a little accident, and I don’t know what to do about it”  I begin to have all these terrible “worst scenario” kinds of thoughts.

But Russ then explains that while pulling her out of the tub, he thinks he hurt her arm.  She wasn’t crying at the moment, so I said, “so what – she sounds fine”  He continues to talk about how she keeps holding her arm and talking about how much it hurts.

Me:  “Is it swollen?

Russ:  “No”

Me:  “Can she move it?”

Russ:  “Yes”

Me:  “Did you put Nemo on it?”  (She has a Nemo shaped ice pack)

Russ:  “Yes”

Me:  “I think she’s fine”

Russ:  “But I’d rather wait until you get home and look at it”

Me (in my head):  “Aren’t you the one in medical school?!”

Me (out loud):  “That’s going to be too late, go ahead and continue the bedtime routine.  I think she’s playing you and stalling.”

Russ:  “OK, I’ll try”

Russ (15 minutes later via BBM):  “She was totally playing me”

I’m not sure if medical school was the wrong path for Russ or if maybe just Pediatrics is out or if doctors should just never be allowed to diagnose or treat their own kids.   Regardless it was funny.

going mad and old

The other night, Russ was studying in the office and I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed.  I heard a strange grumbling noise and thought it was my stomach…the Cracker Barrel lunch and the few bites of Russ’ onion rings and Piglet’s ice cream post dinner dessert made that seem like the most logical explanation.

Then I heard it again.  Then again.  Definitely not my stomach.  It actually sounded like it was coming from the toilet.  So I stood over the toilet trying to hear it again.  There it was.  and again.  it sounded like we were above a sewer and someone was tapping on a pipe down below and the vibrations were making their way through the water.

Then the sound changed.  This time it sounded like someone was actually talking in the imaginary sewer below.  so strange.  so there I stood staring at my toilet wondering what in the world was going on and thinking I was going a little crazy.

I was about to walk into the office to get Russ to come and examine the sound with me and at least prove that I wasn’t hearing things when I realized the sound was not coming from the toilet but from the other side of the wall – in the office where Russ was studying the various sounds of regular and irregular heartbeats with a simulator.

So I guess I’m only a little crazy, at least not hearing things that aren’t there yet.

__________________________________________________

Speaking of hearing things, the youth proved that we are in fact old.  Last night they were playing the ring tone that is supposedly at such a high frequency that adults can’t hear it, making it the ideal ring tone for school hours.  Just a few short years ago, I could still hear that ring tone, but last night – NOTHING.  After I discovered that I could no longer hear it, Russ decided that surely he could hear it – still in denial he was – but sure enough, they tested him too and NOTHING. sad.  It’s hard getting old and not hearing things that are there.