Thursday, May 1, 2008

Trying to sort out my emotions

We just got back from the house-hunting trip to Miami. First of all, let me say there really wasn't anything enjoyable about the trip. Yes, we took the whole family of 5. I guess it was warm and sunny. But it sure wasn't fun.

The plane ride there was actually better than expected. A hassle, yes. But it wasn't actually horrible. It's pretty funny having twins though. Everybody has to get in their two cents. Nobody can just walk by without commenting. I guess you sort of realize you're making a spectacle of yourself and kind of asking for it though when you walk on the plane cradling two infants in your arms while your husband gets the other child and all your carry-ons.

Anyway, the first day of house-hunting involved dragging everyone around to look at properties, Cash falling asleep in the car - so one of us sitting in the car while the other one looked at a place then switching (which wasn't that easy since we were looking downtown at condos, not like we were just parked right out in front of a place and could run in), pumping in the car, feeding in the car, getting spit-up all over the car....

Let's just say by the end of our first day, my mom was on her way to Miami.

As for finding a place to live, I guess I can say we did. Can I say I'm excited about it? Maybe not, but it's fine. I did feel fine when we decided on the place. Then later that night when I summarized our trip and it's success, I cried.

I went down to Miami with one real goal - to come away with a three-bedroom place to live. Did I succeed? No. We will be still living in two bedrooms with 5 people. Did I even get a really big two bedroom place? Nope, pretty standard, actually even smaller than the two-bedroom we're in now.

I also felt sad for what I felt like was maybe a dumb girl reason, and I didn't realize that it would bother me - I had been making plans all along for how I would decorate our three bedrooms. I guess I really thought there was no way we would come away without three bedrooms. I was excited. I wanted to finally have a baby's room and have it look cute. I was imagining that somehow I would move beyond this dorm-style living we have with completely mismatched furniture that we got off the sides of the road. I was imagining a place where the living room didn't serve as a living room, a baby's room, a salon, a gym and an office all in one. I was imagining that there would actually be space in our house, that there would be empty space, that those mismatched dressers wouldn't be covering every inch of wall in our bedroom. I was imagining that somehow I would have a place that actually looked like all my friends' places - cute rooms, matching furniture, a yard with toys for the kids, etc.

So it's a hard thing. I was thinking it was because we're on this medical route. But we came back and went to dinner with Ryan's work last night. And it was so painful to hear all those residents talk about how they just went and found houses and were all so excited about them. People buying 4 bedroom houses for $150,000 in Minnesota, Iowa, Texas. Just not Miami.

So it's not just because we're doing residency. It's not that everyone in our situation is the same. It's us. It's the choices we've made and the places we've lived I guess that keep us in this situation. We've done New York and now we're going to Miami. But we're going for the best ophthalmology training in the nation. You can't really beat that. And you can't really pass up that opportunity.

But I'm torn. I want all these things. I want to be comfortable. I don't want to sleep with my kids in my room. I want to be able to walk in my bedroom and turn on the lights whenever I want.


I want to stay home with my kids.

And I really think this is the price we're paying to be a one income family. And I know that's what I want more than having three bedrooms. (Although, seriously, I don't think that's a ridiculous request! I can do without nice stuff, but three rooms is too much to ask???) But I know that everyone else in Miami is living on a dual income. And we're just not willing to do that.

I wanted this one three-bedroom condo in the same building so bad. It was beautiful. This is the view from the kitchen window:

And we could have done it. We could have gotten this three-bedroom place - for $2300 a month. In rent. Not even buying. And that was a really good deal.

But now we're in a two-bedroom in the same complex. Overlooking the parking lot.

There were options I guess. We could have had a three bedroom far away and had a long commute for Ryan. Nope, not willing. I'm sure my sanity will be on the brink enough without waiting an extra hour for him to get home at nights. There were also some other places that were either grubby or in not great neighborhoods. But I realized I actually will feel safer in a condo with Ryan on call once a week. And there's a pool and a gym, and a really nice park right outside our condo, which is hard to find in Miami. I was seriously on a hunt for grass while we were looking too. They've put up tons of condos, but they haven't really developed the areas well. There's hardly grass anywhere. There aren't many parks or walkways or anything like you would expect. Even the houses we looked at had maybe 4 feet of grass in a cubbyhole of a backyard. Weird. But this place has the park right outside without having to cross any busy streets and there's a really nice walkway on the water there. And it's a nice place, don't get me wrong. This is a picture of the kitchen:

We opted for nice, small and safe, rather than a bigger place farther away or in a bad area. And farther away would also have meant getting a second car.

I'm sure it will be good. Ryan's commute will be less than 10 minutes. He can take the train when I need the car. And he'll get great training there.

Now it's just time to start hawking our posessions.


It was a crazy trip though, especially with all the kids. And as always, the humor continues - at one point I was in the airport bathroom - pumping, peeing, and talking on my cell phone all at the same time. And by the end of the trip, we were pretty much like this:

Desperate and cranky.

And driving home from the airport we even felt like we'd been kind of homesick and just felt relief to be back here. Yeah, Wisconsin doesn't seem too bad afterall.


Jenilee said...

I am so sorry you were not able to get a three bedroom. We are also still facing high rent for the next year. Hopefully it will be cheaper in Rochester. I totally understand the desire to have a matching, put together home. I am right there with you. Someday we will get there!!!

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Oh, Jen. I'm sorry. I totally feel your pain. 90% of what you wrote came out of my mouth this very day. (The other 10% is just different--no twins, but still three kids, etc, etc.)

Anyway, I feel your pain. I really, really do. I can't even count how many tears I've shed thinking about not being able to afford a bigger place and having to have three kids in our tiny apartment.

Lu Lu said...

I'm sure it will/does mean a lot to Ryan...your willingness to sacrifice for his success/satisfaction. I know it can get old sometimes, but that's what you get when you marry someone who is so ambitious. I can relate. I'm lucky our route is a measely 3 years. When I think of you I feel like I am steeling. BTW My friend's brother just got drafted to the Dolphins. I want to come and visit sometime and maybe we can leave the boys and go to a game...once I can leave my baby home...don't worry I'll stay in a hotel.

Corinne said...

I really liked this post. Clint and I talk about that often - the price we are paying to live in this really expensive area with me staying home. It's a HUGE price to pay, but I know that it'll be (and is...) worth it :)

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry! I can't imagine what it was even like with the three babies. I'm sure your description pales in comparison to the reality of the situation.
I remember even when we came to UT having this unrealistic idea of the house we would have. And that's UT! In North Carolina things are just as you described for your friends. Beautiful house=150,000.
You are lucky to stay home with the babes. I would love to, but we did the house thing and I have to work one day a week! Not too bad, but it was either 1200 rent or 1200 mortgage payment. AWWWH. Someday it will all be worth it and we can email our "put together" houses to each other and just look back and smile.

sarah starr said...

I'm glad your mom few out. Take it easy as you recover from your trip.

Gavin and Shawna McEwan said...

Is the experience commical yet?? We've had our share of disappointing house hunting trips...and they are funny now.
Ok- but funny because Gav was in Ft. Lauderdale the last 6 days and just got home last night. You should have dropped the kiddos off with him for the day (HAHAHa)
But to make you feel better:
1) you guys are getting to go straight through to residency and will be almost done before we even hardly begin (and we finished med school 2 years ahead of y'all!)
2) Sure we own a nice big home....but live in TX! Its all about perspective. And we kind of are bypassing making poverty level pay right now as we pay back the Navy...but we will definitely get our fair share and I am just PLANNING on ending up in a dorm style again!

Anonymous said...

But, Grandma had fun snuggling babies and playing with Cash, though she did not see outside of the Embassy Suites, nor did she expect to. 98% fun, except when all *** broke loose. Those babies ARE definitely on the same schedule. One wakes up and cries, they both wake up and cry, and their cries are exactly the same.
And Cash knows all the alphabet and the sounds of the letters, and we read every EXIT sign in EMBASSY SUITES, as well as the door mats that said EMBASSY SUITES. Great breakfast every day. Hand-delivered fast food for lunch and/or supper brought by the hunters and gatherers, as they hunted and hunted, and gathered papers and dimensions. We all held together beautifully under such heady decision making and comings and goings. Grandma walked 100 miles pushing the 2-seated stroller around and around the 10th floor enjoying the traditional atrium, while Cuban woman cleaned the rooms. Fun for those who did not have to make the decisions.


Spar-Mar Girl said...

I feel your pain! (Well, to a point) I admire your decision to forego the 'fancy' stuff to make sure you are there for your kids-that takes a lot of guts these days! I can't even image how frustrating it must feel at times.

The kitchen looks super cute at least! And it sounds like you found something great for your situation in every way other than actual sq ft, so at least you'll have an escape when you want to go outside!

Good luck with everything!!!!!!

Laurie Jones said...

Wow, what a whirlwind! Sorry you weren't able to find a three bedroom, but you are right your condo looks so nice! You won't have to work-and that is nice you can stay home with those beautiful boys of yours.
It seems to me you made all the right decisions, not that I am any expert in decision making, but all your sacrifices will pay off in the end and I'm sure it will be SO worth it!
Your mom is funny, I really liked her comment. That is so great of her to be so helpful! Glad you all survived!

Kimi said...

Jen, just think, when you are done with residency you and Ryan will be able to go buy a huge old house and fix it up with all the trimmings you want. Yeah, right now sucks, but you'll be rollin' in the dough in a few years. Especially the way Ryan Dragon handles money.

Shannon said...

Ahhh Jenn I felt your pain when my babes were small. I feel your pain now. Great decision on the park right outside your complex and the walkway too. Nothing beats a 10 minute commute or less. Babies are hard there is just no getting around it. I wanted the cute baby room too, with crib made by Scott, never happened. The boys still sleep on the floor. Being out of debt makes me happier than having matchy matchy. It will all work out. These friends that have the cute houses and furniture. How do they have so much when so young? What makes us think we should have so much before our careers have even started. It will come to you. I think you made a great decision.

Melissa Bigelow said...

What a trip! You guys are definitely brave. You really are a trooper and can handle just about anything. I'm sure you can handle Miami...and I gues you don't want to hear that we just got our house for California...we are moving into the exact same house that we lived in before! Crazy huh!

Aimee said...

Jen - you definitely struck a chord with me with this post! I cannot even begin to commiserate about taking three young kids house hunting with you - you guys are amazing. And your mom is wonderful to come help out! But I can sympathize with not living where or how you want to. When I graduated and started teaching, I promised myself I would never again live in a place without a washer and dryer. Well, marrying a student changes things! We too have the mismatched, hand-me-down furnishings and the small apartment, and we too wonder how others have such nice things. We try to reassure each other that we've been so blessed with what we do have and that we haven't had to invest a lot of money into furnishing our apartment. But of course, this too is another exercise in patience. You're getting there. Keep the end in sight!

Winnie said...

Sorry to hear about your trip. I feel your pain. I hope maybe in the the near future you can find your dream home where you can have all the space you want.

chadlee said...

That's sad you won't have a lot of space in your new place. Life is hard enough for you guys, and you need those extra comforts! Just tell Ryan he better buy you a posh mansion (and a nanny and housekeeper) after Residency. It's good to hear there are a few upsides to it. Hopefully with the nice weather in Miami you can go outside a lot. It would be hard it you lived in a place where you were stuck inside all day.

Anonymous said...

I know the feeling of not wanting to wait any longer for what you have already been waiting for- NY gives us the gift of forced patience I guess you can say ;-).

Try to think it's not forever, it's temporary. That always helped me through the waiting game. And I would pick FL over TX any time, not anyone can live in FL for a little while. It's pricey there for a reason and once thigns get a little easier with the babies you will be able to get out and about on your own a lot more and see what it has to offer. I can't wait to see those baby boys of your on the beach on a weekday!!!!! And Cash fly a kite. There will be things to love there I bet.

Liz f