Thursday, December 30, 2010

And the hits just keep on coming...

So, Christmas has come and gone and lots of hits have come our way since the last blog entry -unfortunately almost none of them good. Let's see if I can find a silver lining in these clouds as I sift through them.

First, the future. Scott was to find out which program had selected him for his intern year. He was really excited because he'd had extremely good interviews with the staff in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department at Walter Reed and that was his first choice. His second choice was Psychiatry at Walter Reed but he'd been told that he was required to list it as a third choice, with a transition year as his second choice, so he'd listed a transition year at Madigan Army Medical Center in Ft. Lewis, WA. We'd talked about it and we figured that even if PM&R didn't take him that Psych would (he'd also had good interviews with them) so we'd be able to stay local, Maeve would be able to stay in the same school system for another year or more and we'd even be able to to maybe buy a house.

None of this happened. Instead, we get the curveball: transition year at Madigan. I won't go into the details, except to say that the PM&R director called to make sure that Scott reapplied to the program in order to do the residency, even though he didn't make the preselected slots and to assure Scott that he had wanted him - was his first choice, in fact - but that the committee ranked all of the non-prior military service people higher, that most of the committee members were non-military doctors, and that the 2 military doctors who wanted Scott in the program were deployed and tried to send in their votes via email but the civilian committee members rejected the email submissions.

So now we are presented with the need to move across the country, rather than across town. And while this is a move that won't cost us in terms of the packing and the moving (thank you, US Army), it is likely to cost us excess charges for having more weight than we are allowed due to our enormous collection of books and other random crap. It's also going to cost us gas and tolls and who knows what-all, because the likelihood is that the Army won't pay for one of our vehicles to be shipped to WA and we'll end up having to pay for Scott's Civic to be shipped while we all pile into the minivan and make a trek across the country.

And Scott has a report date of sometime around the 15th of June, which means we need to leave in May, right after graduation, in order to spend a week driving and then find a house when we get there.

Which means that Maeve won't be able to finish 5th grade here.

Which means that our things will have to get packed during the 2nd week of May. Which means that we'll have to live in temporary housing after all of our furniture is gone and that's likely to be the Navy Lodge in Bethesda. And that means that I'll have to get up much earlier than usual in order to take Maeve to school, though maybe we'll be able to borrow some Aerobeds from the in-laws so that we can stay in our house while we clean it and get everything ready to leave and maybe only stay at the Navy Lodge a couple of nights.

And then there was the prospect of being pregnant while all this was going on and not wanting to drive across the country for a week. Would I be able to make the cut-off for flying while pregnant, in order to make that part easier?

Well, that part doesn't matter now. A mere week after finding out about the move, I went to the doctor because I'd been spotting on and off and it concerned me, since it wasn't like 'normal' spotting and because I had been feeling that there was something not quite right with this pregnancy. And I was right. They did an ultrasound and discovered that while there was a gestational sac, there was no embryo. If there isn't one there by 11 weeks, there isn't going to be one. They sent me home to wait to have a miscarriage.

You might expect me to be sad or upset or angry, since those would be natural reactions. But honestly, not being pregnant means that I can better deal with the challenges that will present themselves due to the move. And anyway, there's no baby to mourn, since it just didn't grow in the first place. Unfortunately for us, the girls knew I was pregnant and we had to tell them. I explained that the baby didn't grow but my body thought it did - kind of like when you plant a seed but it doesn't grow. Thank goodness Gwyneth has the Eric Carle book "The Tiny Seed" which tells how some seeds don't make it to grow into plants. There's a seed that ends up not growing, so she understood what I meant on some level.

Christmas was a nice break, with lots of fun presents - Scott got me tickets to see Sarah McLachlan in January and I also got the Stacy Shiff book about Cleopatra, which should make for some good reading. Then on Boxing Day we drove to Pittsburgh to the in-laws, where tons more presents were thrown at us, as usual. My mother-in-law informed me proudly that she'd bought everything on the lists. Yep, she did. And apparently the books Scott told her to get me weren't enough because she ended up giving me cash, as well. $150 in cash. So, naturally, I feel weird about that. I'd honestly rather have her spend $10 on something that she's chosen herself because she knows I'll love it than any amount of money she could give me. And while I'm on that sore subject, if she's going to spend that much money on me, she's well aware that I collect German-made nutcrackers. Hell, she sees them on display in the family room every time she comes to visit. She's even bought me one as a Christmas gift in years past. Apparently she doesn't remember that. Funny, because my sister-in-law always remembers that and gets me some cheap Chinese-made nutcracker, usually with a Pittsburgh Steelers theme, as a joke. Got one this year again, so I told her I'd rather have a Penguins one, since I actually like the Penguins.

So, speaking of money..... we were naturally a bit short for gifts this year and, as I said in a previous post, most gifts were going to be handmade. I've done handmade gifts for my nieces in the past - the dresses of 2 years ago - but wasn't sure how well they were liked. However, the only gifts I could be certain wouldn't be duplicates for the twins who have everything would be handmade ones. So I made clothes for their American Girl dolls in their favorite colors - Emma's is purple and Ella's is pink. For Christmas gifts I made them each a skirt from fabric left over from the dresses I'd made them, flared pants (purple denim for Emma, pink corduroy also left over from Ella's dress for Ella), peasant blouses (lavender for Emma, cerise for Ella), and t-shirts (lavender floral knit for Emma, burgundy and pink stripe for Ella). Then because their birthday is 2 days after Christmas, I made lovely party dresses for their dolls as birthday gifts, using leftover silk dupionni from my stash: deep purple for Emma and magenta for Ella. I was concerned that they wouldn't like them but I needn't have worried. Ella kept on saying she couldn't believe I was able to make clothes and even doll clothes, how pretty they were, etc. Emma wasn't quite as verbal but she immediately put her doll into the birthday dress and had it "playing" its violin. Scott told me later that while I was in the shower my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were raving about how great the doll clothes were and how they were at least as good as the store-bought ones, probably better.

The one thing I'm still having trouble with is the money issue. I hear all the time about how my sister-in-law has it so hard, from my mother-in-law. Yes, K. is divorcing her husband and that makes her life difficult, but only in the sense that she has legal crap to deal with and the kids have emotional issues because of the split. So she has challenges, but they sure aren't financial. K. still has a job and she has free child care in the form of her mom, who now has retired from teaching and lives down the street. K. makes about 3 times what Scott makes. Yes, she has a mortgage and a car payment. We pay rent and have a car payment, too, and we do it on 1/3 of what she makes. But she also gets financial support from her husband (court ordered). He's a neurosurgeon. He makes, like, a million dollars a year. Seriously. The twins go to a private school that costs $15,000 a year per child. That's a separate payment from the financial support that K. gets from her husband. The financial support each month amounts to about 5 times what Scott makes monthly. I can't even get my head around that. And when I come into her house and see that she's got a brand-new stainless steel refrigerator and stove, top of the line, etc., it makes me want to throw up. Because she's doing well, financially, while I worry about whether or not I can afford to put Gwyn and Tallon in gymnastics for another term and still break even. She can afford to send her kids to a private school while I worry if I can afford the tuition for preschool 3 mornings/week at the neighborhood church. But for some reason, her life is considered hard. She bought her dad a high-definition flat screen TV and Blue Ray player for Christmas. We got him a subscription to National Geographic. I don't even know what she got her mother, but we gave her a $40 gift certificate to Amazon so she could get ebooks for her Kindle.

I don't want to compete with K. I don't even want the things she has. What I want is for people to stop telling me how hard she has it, when she so clearly doesn't. And I want K to understand that there's a significant gap between what I can afford and what she can afford. She's always telling me I stay at home too much, I should go out and do things for myself, I never buy things for myself, etc. And she's right - I don't do those things. I don't do it because I can't afford it. I don't go to get a pedicure because I can't afford it. I don't go out - either on a date with Scott or by myself during the day - because I can't afford the extra cost of a babysitter. And my mother doesn't live down the street from me and provide free child care. I don't have the luxury of going to the salon every month; I try to make my cut and highlights last for 8-10 weeks because I can't afford to go more frequently than that. I can't afford a gym membership. I don't have the extra money to just go shopping for fun. Shopping isn't even fun to me anymore because I can't justify the expense of anything I might want to buy. And every time I see K and my mother-in-law I always feel bad - mostly because I know they don't understand why we don't have enough money to do these things, even though at some level they're clearly aware of our situation, since my mother-in-law often gives us money when she sees us. I don't understand it.

So, now to find the silver linings.

Yes, it's a pain in the neck to have to move, especially across the country and before the end of the school year. BUT
1) the Army is paying for the move
2) while Scott was born in WA, he doesn't remember it, so it's a new place for all of us and that should be fun for a year
3) it gets us out of having to travel at Christmastime next year!!!
4) the trip across the country is an opportunity to see things like Mt. Rushmore and other sites we've never been to

Yes, it's a bummer not to be pregnant BUT
1) I don't have to worry about the stress of being very pregnant while I move
2) I now can get the tattoo I'd been planning on getting until I found out I was pregnant
3) I can actually work out and try to lose some weight before the summer
4) I can devote more time to other things, especially the kids

Other silver linings:
1) With that money from my mother-in-law I can pay for my tattoo
2) I have plenty of reading material for a while
3) I can always sell the Steelers nutcracker on ebay and get some money
4) moving across the country means that I won't have to deal with my in-laws

Not all is bad, right?


  1. It seems every family has a "needy" one... who, usually, isn't all that needy, everyone just thinks she is. Some people just can't handle very much. The slightest upheaval, and they turn to jelly. Be proud of your strength and fortitude. Most people couldn't handle what you do.

    Our choice to have me stay home with my children meant living on one income. That meant much less disposable income than the rest of the family. They couldn't understand why we couldn't join them on expensive vacations or reciprocate expensive gifts. Even when money became less of an issue, it was a personal choice for us not live extravagantly. For my niece and nephew who have every toy under the sun, I do not feel compelled to buy them yet another expensive gift. I give them what I feel is appropriate for the age, try to find something thoughtful, and try to not feel guilty that my BIL's wife spends 5 times as much on gifts for my boys.

    The move... ugh. The actual packing/unpacking, getting from point A to point B is never fun. However, your incredible attitude will make all the difference. You could whine about all the negatives, but that wouldn't change anything. Going in with a focus on the positive will make it all work out in the long run. Changing schools is not easy, but think of the experiences your children will have. Most children live in the same place most of their lives. How exciting to experience different parts of the country.

    Sorry about the pregnancy. Even if the timing wasn't right, it is still hard.

  2. Thanks for your insights, Teri. I probably shouldn't dwell on my SIL and the entire situation, but the truth is, I generally forget about her and the differences (of which there are many, money is only 1) and don't think about them. But the holidays come around and we end up spending time at her house (more room for everyone than at ours) and then I am faced with the situation when I'd rather just ignore it.

    You're right about the move - it's not something I look forward to by any stretch of the imagination but I figure if I have to do it I might as well approach it as an adventure.