Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'm a little late on posting (as per usual), but I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas who celebrated!  Jeff and I spent the holidays down in Louisiana with my family.  We even got to see some of his family when they made the drive down to New Orleans the weekend after Christmas!  We had a great couple of days relaxing and visiting with everyone.  I was beyond thrilled that Jeff had Christmas off this year.  I long ago learned to never take that for granted. 

Jeff was post-call Christmas Eve morning, so after rounding we got on the road and made the drive down to Louisiana.  Two and a half full glorious days off work!  He was scheduled to help out on some cases on Friday in Jackson, so like a trooper he left Louisiana at the crack of dawn that morning to drive back to Jackson, then came back down to Louisiana after work the same day so we could spend the rest of our time off with family.  To most people that sounds straight up crazy, but to someone who just finished 5 years of Ortho residency it was not much longer than a regular work day.

My family lives right outside New Orleans, so we got to spend a much needed day in the city.  Our first stop was food, obviously.  I'd been dying to try Peche, a recently opened restaurant by local celeb chef Donald Link.  It was either one of the best meals we've ever had in New Orleans, or the food in Jackson has just been that bad, comparatively speaking.  The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.  Either way, go there if you're ever in New Orleans.  And our trip wouldn't have been complete without a stop at one of the local coffee shops. 

Speaking of local coffee shops, PJ's is the other favorite in a city that detests any chain establishments.  They've partnered with local brewery Abita to come up with a new seasonal, tap-only brew- the Abita Macchiato Stout.  It tasted like guinness and espresso beans.  So, basically heaven.  I feel sort of mean telling everyone about this deliciousness when you have no access to it.  Sorry.


Christmas Day in our matching plaid
The presents are all gone from under our tree in Jackson, but Mischa doesn't seem to mind :)

Here's to one of the best years yet!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Still have a few hard to buy for people on your holiday gift list?  Here's a few of my favorite things that made their way to my Pinterest boards but I haven't had a reason to buy this year.  The best part?  All of these can be ordered online and shipped directly to your giftee!

For the techie or hipster- a modern take on an old favorite:

Polaroid Instant Digital Camera

For the coffee addict, so they can make their favorite drinks at home:

Williams Sonoma

For your boss or the gracious hostess:

Barney's Warehouse

For your girly-girl friend who has everything:

lovely lipstick holder

For the party animal who likes to cook:

The Hungoevr Coobkook - This hilarious book gives you recipes based on how hung over you are.

For the product junkie:

large image view

Happy shopping!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Ramblings

Happy Friday!  I know I've been a bit MIA lately, but we've been doing a lot of this around our house lately:

There's nothing like curling up in front of a fire with a Christmas tree lit up and a cup of hot tea in hand.  Of course, a kitty to snuggle with doesn't hurt either!

Weekends have been spent shopping for gifts and generally trying to stay warm.  It's been quite cold for the deep South the past couple of weeks and our solution has been to stay indoors, only venturing out for more prepackaged, overpriced firewood.
Thanks to everyone's well wishes and sympathy about my job situation on my last post.  I want nothing more than to quit and watch Real Housewives for the rest of this year, believe me!  But I figure I've made it this far, only have 7 months left, and it pays the bills.  I don't want to wake up one day and wish I had followed through when I'm not competetive enough to get a certain job.  So, if there's one thing I've learned from watching my husband go through residency it's that sometimes you have to make sacrifices right now to have the life you want in the future.  Delayed gratification, I could write a book on it!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Medical Mondays- Life Lately and Our Vegas Conference Vacay

Happy Medical Mondays! 

I can't believe I haven't posted an update since Medical Mondays last month.  Time really seems to fly around the holidays!  I can't say I'm sad about this because I'm counting down the days til August 1st.  Not because I want fellowship to be over, more on that in a second, but because I've had about enough of my job as I can take.  As most of you know, I started a post-doctoral research fellowship this past August, or a "postdoc" for the year while my husband does his sports medicine fellowship.  Most people "postdoc" for several years or longer after they finish their PhD to become more competitive in order to get a faculty position.  Your chances of getting a tenure-track faculty position without postdoc experience is slim to none.  So, begrudingly, I took this job to try to beef up my credentials even though I despise research.  Since I'll only be "postdocing" for a year, it still isn't really enough to be competitive in my field.  Sometimes I wonder why I'm even doing this, but I figure one year is better than nothing, right?  So seeing as today is December 2nd, I'm officially 1/3 the way done with this stupid, soul-sucking job.  I'm aware I'm being a bit dramatic here, but you try doing a job you hate for years on end (I'm counting time spent in grad school) and let me know how you turn out.  Anyway, I'm starting to think the whole tenure-track faculty position thing may not be what I want in the end.  I'm beginning to get past the panic and guilt of re-adjusting my life plans and starting to become ok with this.

Back to fellowship.  Football season has not been my favorite since it means Jeff is gone covering games many Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, but oh man is it SO much better than residency!  He gets home much earlier in the evenings, even beating me home half the time (and I get home around 5:40!).  Also, there's the better pay which I know we are lucky to have since this isn't true for all fellowships.  It's just enough of an increase from residency salary that we don't have that 3 day panic in between paychecks worried that some automatic bill payment will overdraft our account.  We're able to relax a little and not worry about going out to eat during the week if we feel like it.  We can't go crazy, but we no longer have to budget and track where all of our money is going on  In full disclosure I'm making more this year too than I did as a grad student, so that helps.  Things are comfortable.  We were even able to buy a plane ticket for me to tag along to an Ortho conference in Vegas last month!  The fellowship paid for the room and Jeff's flight, so we treated it as a mini vacay.

Vegas, baby!

Does anyone else think of that scene in The Hangover when Zach Galifinakis asks "Did Caesar live here?" when they see this lobby?

While the guys were at the conference, another wife and I explored the Strip and did a lot of window shopping.  And ate.  And had dessert for lunch.  I mean, that's totally okay on vacation, right?

We even got to tape a segment for Extra, but sadly neither of us made the final cut.  Guess we'll keep our day jobs!

With the Extra! producer
So, this fellowship year hasn't been too bad.  Dare I say I'm even enjoying it?!  Now if I could just figure out a way to quit my job without any repurcussions...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Medical Mondays- Negotiating for the Real Job

Time sure is flying this fall...I can't believe it's already a new month and time for another Medical Mondays linkup!


I have exciting news to share!  This past Friday we received the official offer from the place where we will hopefully accept Jeff's first "real" job post-training.  It was surreal to see all of the numbers for salary, vacation time, and little extras all laid out on a sheet of paper.  But excitement quickly gave way to anxiety as we realized we now had to hire a lawyer and do some negotiating. 

The starting offer we were given is good, but it's just that, a starting offer.  There are things we like in the contract, and things we aren't satisfied with.  It's easy to get stuck on that base salary number, but that doesn't give you the whole picture.  There are so many other things to consider.  For example: How much call will you be responsible for?  Will you get paid extra for call?  How much vacation time do you get?  Is there a limit to how many days in a row you can take off?  Do you get paid extra for RVU's generated over a certain threshold?  If so, at what rate are you compensated?  What about insurance (tail and malpractice)?  Will they give you money for marketing?  Loan repayment?  Will there be a signing or commencement bonus?  Is it enough to get you through several weeks to a month of unemployment after residency/fellowship before you receive a paycheck from your new job AND for a downpayment on a house?  Speaking of downpayments, what is the price of homes in that area?  You will need to factor in a 40% tax rate (yay) plus about $3000/month (for us) going towards paying back med school loans before you can consider what you need out of a contract.  As you can see, base salary isn't everything.  I'm sure these are only a few of the many issues we will have to consider. 

It becomes immediately clear why it's so important to find a lawyer who specializes in physician contracts.  There are so many issues that are unique to our situation.  Someone experienced in reviewing physician contracts can give you information of the typical salaries for doctors in the same specialty in a nearby area.  Offers and salary vary greatly by location, so this is a key piece to the puzzle.  It also doesn't hurt to talk to friends who have graduated a few years ahead of you.  In our experience, they are happy to share the details of their contracts with you to help give you a better idea of what you can expect in a good offer.  And interview at one or two places that aren't your dream job.  I'm so glad we interviewed at potential job location #1, even though it ended up not being the right fit for us.  Why?  Because we were offered a contract there so we now have something to compare this new offer to.  It always helps to have leverage!

So we're crossing our fingers over here that these negotiations are quick and painless.  Does anyone have any negotiating advice for us??

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's really surprising that I don't have six cats

Research?  Not exactly my favorite.  Rescuing homeless cats?  You'd better believe my heart turns to mush whenever I see a stray cat in need of a home.  Throw in the threat of freezing weather and I don't stand a chance.  I would work at an animal shelter if I didn't find it so depressing.  So when a sweet little grey kitty started showing up around our apartment complex crying for food, I knew I was in trouble.

She was not quite a kitten anymore but not fully grown either, and obviously used to being around people.  It took all of 2 minutes for her to climb up in my lap and I decided I had to rescue her.  If our cat Mischa wasn't so terretorial, I would have convinced Jeff that she would be the perfect addition to our home.  However, images of cat fights and Mischa peeing on the carpet in retaliation swam through my head.  I decided to call up my mom and plead my case that she should adopt her.  Luckily, I got my soft spot in my heart for stray cats from her.  It didn't take much convincing.  We decided to name her Gracie.

At the vet getting all her shots

Snuggling with my cousins at my mom's house

Reflecting on her past life outdoors

 Resting easy in my mom's bed

Rescue animals really do make the best pets!

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Martha Stewart Weekend

Something about the perfect fall weather we had this past weekend put me in the mood to finally try a few things that have been on my Pinterest to-do list.  First up were these 2-ingredient pumpkin spice cupcakes, (well, 3 counting the cream cheese frosting). 

This is all you need (plus the frosting):

I was a little skeptical since you don't add any of the butter, eggs, oil or whatever the cake box calls for, but these were AH-mazing.  Seriously, you need to make them.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 and voila!  It makes about 16 cupcakes.  I'm making another batch this weekend for a potluck.  They're that good.  Just be sure you are making them for someone else or to bring to an event because these suckers have been at our house for less than 2 days and they're almost gone.

Next up was pumpkin decorating.  I had a lot of anxiety about this.  I don't do a lot of "crafts."  My Halloween decorations the past 3 years have consisted of a plain, uncarved pumpkin and a light up wire black yea.  I decided to try something somewhat simple. 
All you need for this design is some white spray paint, gold oil-based paint for the stem, and stick on crystals to make the spider web.  My crystals weren't very sticky, so I used some clear craft glue.  It would be even cuter if you had a little spider to stick to the side.  You could also use black crystals to make the web pop more, but my craft store didn't have enough in stock.

For the second pumpkin, I used oil-based Sharpie paint pens to draw the bats after spray painting it white.  I'm not finished with this one yet, though.  I have to go buy some black paint to fill in the bats:

One thing I learned from all of this is that "crafting" must be for people who have disposable income.  These supplies added up quickly, and with the cost of the pumpkins ended up costing about $40 total.  That's sort of crazy considering these guys are going to rot and can't be used again next year.  If you already have a lot of these supplies on hand though it wouldn't be too bad.

Here's hoping we actually get some trick-or-treaters at our apartment this year because I have a bag of pumpkin shaped Reese's and some orange Kit Kats taunting me in our pantry.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pins and Needles and Pumpkins

Ok friends, it's Friday!  A full work week after the place we want to go for our first "real job" said they would be drawing up a contract to email to us.  I keep pestering Jeff at least twice a day to check his inbox, but there are just crickets.  I'm crossing my fingers for some news by the end of the day because I don't think I can remain sane over the weekend not knowing! 

In other news, it is officially cold here in Jackson. (Highs in the low 70's, I'll take what I can get.  Don't burst my bubble.)  I am wearing long sleeves today, people.  It's a big deal.  Since it finally feels like Fall, I've decided we're going pumpkin shopping on Saturday and I'm pretty excited about it.  I would love to do something crafty with them like this:

Funky Ombre Pumpkins

Or this:

sharpie pumpkins square

Or this:


And I so wish I had a reason to make these ridiculously adorable placecard holders:


But it seems like every year we end up buying a pumpkin and it sits there uncarved and undecorated and we say, well at least we got around to getting one.  That counts for something, right?  Maybe I will get around to actually decorating one this weekend just to keep my mind off the contract.  Anyone out there in attending-hood, how long do these things normally take?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two Years

Yesterday was our >>two<< year anniversary.  It's been an amazing two years!  We talked last night about how it feels like we've been together forever (in a good way).  Our lives are so completely different now than when we first moved to New Orleans for residency that it's hard to even remember a different life.  By the end of this year, I'll have been along on this medical journey for 7.5 out of the 10 years of Jeff's training.  Even though it's only been 2 years of marriage, we've been committed to each other for so much longer.  Two years doesn't tell the whole story.  You have to make a decision early on when dating someone in the medical field.  You quickly learn that their schedules are crazy and there's no guarantee of things ever slowing down.  You're either in or you're out (to quote Heidi Klum). 

Anniversary flowers, the man's no dummy!

There are so many nights weeks where Jeff is so busy that we barely have time to catch up on each other's day.  Nights are spent studying and preparing for the next day's cases.  It's hard, but I decided a long time ago that I'm all in.  However, last night I got a whole night of his attention all to myself!  There were no journal articles to read or texts about work.  It was glorious!  We went to dinner at a nice restaurant, had a couple glasses of wine (and some complimentary champagne!), and talked about how our lives are about to change in big ways.  It was so nice just to be together and reflect back over this long journey and finally let ourselves get a little excited about what's next.

So, Happy Anniversary to the best partner I could ever ask for!  Things aren't always easy, but I couldn't imagine it any other way.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Here's the Scoop!

We got back yesterday afternoon from our "second look" at potential real job #2.  It was a great trip and we're pretty excited! 

We left Jackson right after work on Thursday and made it in time to meet up with some friends of ours at a local bar, which meant Jeff showed up in his scrubs...

We had a blast getting to "know" the city: we drove around neighborhoods, went to a festival, shopped a little, and spent some quality time with one of the attendings.  Everyone was so friendly and made us feel so at ease.  We had plenty of free time to just have a normal weekend and see what our life might be like if we moved there (which included going to a local bar to catch the LSU game!).

Pumpkin beer.  Enough said.

While I wasn't able to get an interview set up for myself at the local college, I was impressed enough with the city to feel comfortable with crossing that bridge at a later date. It was clear that they really wanted Jeff on board and the feeling was mutual, so we told one of the execs Saturday night at dinner that we were ready to move forward with the paperwork! They told us they would be emailing us a contract soon, so we are on pins and needles over here waiting to find out what their offer will be :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Medical Mondays- October Edition

Happy Fall Y'all!  That's what we say in the South when it gets anywhere below 80 degrees.  I was able to walk from my car to my lab without sweating this morning so it's pretty much an epic day for me already.  And in other news- Happy Medical Mondays!  I haven't linked up in awhile, so to anyone who's new to my blog, here's the rundown: 
I finished my PhD in Neuroscience this past May and am now a PostDoc doing research full-time (kill me now).  I've begrudgingly been on this research track for going on 6 years now with the hopes of being a college professor after this year (spring break and Christmas holidays off?  Sign me up!).  But the real reason I link up with Medical Mondays is because my dear husband is an Orthopaedic Surgery fellow.  After being with him through the last 2 years of medical school and all 5 years of Ortho residency, we are finally nearing the end of training!  After this 1 year Sports Medicine fellowship, we'll be moving (somewhere) for his first "real" job.  I blog about struggling with my career decisions, the ups and downs of the medical training process, and random fun things we do on the rare occasion we have a social life.
Now that you're caught up, here's what's going on in our lives right this very moment.  This weekend, we'll be going back down for a 2nd interview at potential real job location #2 (!!!).  You can read more about that here.  I didn't go with him on the first interview there because I wanted to make sure he liked the people enough to seriously consider it before I took days off work.  It obviously passed the first test, so now I'm going back with him for a second look.  We're really excited about this one, but don't want to get our hopes up too much before a few more details are worked out.  I'm mainly worried about Jeff having to cover high school and college football games every single weekend during football season for the rest of our lives, so I'm interested to see what sort of schedule they can work out for him.  There's even a college nearby, so I could potentially find a teaching job there.  Everyone keep your fingers crossed for us!  I can't wait to update everyone next week :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Jeff's 32nd Birthday

The birthday weekend started off with a bang, if by bang you mean Jeff was gone Friday night and all day Saturday with fellowship obligations.  He got home around 11pm Saturday night after covering a football game in Baton Rouge.  They flew him out there from Jackson on a tiny little plane.  The poor guy was exhausted, but I was determined to make the best of Sunday, his only day off.

Birthdays may be inevitable, but it doesn't mean you can't ease the pain a bit with a few drinks, right?  His fellowship class is awesome and they all met us out last minute for dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  It was nice to do something social and see some friends, a rarity as of late.

Sombrero and flaming shot for the birthday boy:

Happy 32!

If anyone is looking for a super easy, delicious cake recipe, make this one.  It's a red velvet poke cake recipe that I found on Pinterest and it doesn't disappoint!

Mmm, I can't wait to get home and dig into another piece!  Happy Birthday to the hubs!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

More from the interview trail

Jeff went on two more real job interviews last week.  You can read about potential job location #1 that we decided just wasn't right for us here.  That was back in May and since then we had just been too busy wrapping up loose ends with residency and moving for fellowship that we hadn't had time to even think about interviewing anywhere else until recently.

These last two interviews just happened really organically by word of mouth through people we knew. We're beginning to realize that the best jobs are found that way.  It really is all about who you know sometimes.

Both are in the South.  Both are only a short drive from my family (and New Orleans!).  Both are in places I think we would like (although one is more of a city and the other a smaller town).  Both have colleges where I could potentially teach.  Both invited us back down for a second look!  I wasn't able to go with Jeff on the original interviews because I didn't have enough notice to get off from work, so they really want me to go back with him for another visit in the near future.  It's become apparent how important the spouse is during these interviews because employers know a decision won't be made unless the whole family is on board!

Both jobs seem like really strong possibilities for us, although for different reasons.  There is a lot to consider and I don't expect it to be an easy decision, and that's if they both even offer contracts.  I don't want to get my hopes up too much because things are far from being finalized, but I'm excited!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Memoirs of a Cat Lady

I have a confession to make.  I'm a crazy cat lady.  Well, at least a cat lady.  The jury's still out on the crazy part.  If I wasn't married I would have a house chock full o' cats (well, maybe just two). The fact that I've never had a post on this blog about our cat, Mischa, is ridiculous seeing as how she is a very important part of our family.  I say that in complete seriousness- she's great company when Jeff's gone, which we all know is quite a bit!  The problem is that I've created a needy little cat monster by showering attention on her the past 7+ years.  I've mentioned on the sidebar of this blog that she's the "neediest cat in the world."  Luckily, I have photographic evidence.

What, you're trying to do work?

Ok, I can wait.

Jeff was not exactly a "cat person" when we first started dating.  He likes to pretend her charms don't work on him, but every now and then I catch them having a cuddle session when he thinks I'm not looking.

You may pet me now.

She's also a great study buddy.

I'll just sit on your lap while you work at your desk...

...or on your chair.

Still not convinced she is extra needy?  Sometimes when I'm getting dressed in the morning she will stand on the bed, just waiting for me to come close enough so she can jump up on my chest and lick me to death.

Attack of the Misch!

I shall exfoliate your face!

Proof that this was not an isolated incident:

Submit to my powers of kitty persuasion!

Her name is Mischa, but we call her Misch (pronounced Meesh).  Or sometimes Misch-pants.  Or Mischum-pie.  You get the drift.  The nicknames get pretty ridiculous.  Doesn't bode well for our future kids...

But in addition to being needy, she really is the sweetest thing ever. 

"Every day should consist mostly of snuggles." - Mischa

Who said dogs are a man's best friend?