Tuesday, May 21, 2013

San Francisco in a Snap

Well, we made it back from our trip to California! And I have to say, it was REALLY hard to go back to work yesterday. We didn't get home until 11 p.m. on Sunday night, and that Monday morning alarm clock came just a liiiiittle too soon.

In short, Kyle and I pretty much fell in love with the city of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area while we were out in California. It was so beautiful and unlike any other part of the country I've seen. Which probably explains the memory card full of pictures currently waiting to be uploaded to my computer and edited (yikes!). Thinking about editing that many pictures makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little, so I'll just take it one baby step at a time. For now, here's a sneaky peek at our fast times in Cali via Instagram (and yes, we were that annoying couple with a vacation hashtag. Don't hate, it's a great way to organize all your vacation photos in one place!).

I really can't wait to blog all about our trip, but sadly, I just don't know when that's going to happen. This week commences Operation-Pack-All-Our-Crap. We are scheduled to close on our house one week from today (YAY!), but that week includes a Memorial Day Weekend trip to the beach and the lake. So we really don't have that much time to pack between now and closing (and I've accepted the fact that I'll be living out of a suitcase for the next 2-3 weeks). Life is CRAZY, but it is crazy good. I do want to write about everything before I forget it all, so hang in there with me y'all! And come back tomorrow for a sneak peek of our house...I can't wait to show y'all the whole thing! :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Spouse's Guide to Surviving Physical Therapy School

Y'all are in for a special treat today! It's graduation week, which means it's time for a little reflection. One thing I've been thinking about lately is what advice I would give to a married couple about to go through Physical Therapy school. Is there anything Kyle and I did that particularly kept our marriage sane over the past three years? Is there anything we wished we did differently? I remember moving to Augusta three years ago with these rose-colored glasses on and ZERO idea of what to expect, and I think Kyle and I would have benefited from talking with someone who had been there, done that.

So instead of hearing just my thoughts on the subject, I extended these questions to my fellow PT wives and boy did they have lots to say! I think their advice is great advice for ANY marriage, whether your better half is going through professional school or not. I think these are timely words of wisdom even for seriously dating and engaged couples to tuck away for the future. I definitely learned a few things myself! So without further ado...

First up, we have the lovely Amanda. Amanda and her husband Sam were (and still are) some of our closest friends throughout PT school. They are fellow Georgia grads (and hiking buddies!) and have a Weimaraner named Sterling, so naturally we hit it off with them right away. Amanda blogs over at Genuine Greavu, so be sure to stop by and say hi! Take it away, Amanda!

If I could sit down with a newly married or engaged wife of an incoming PT student I would tell her to R-U-N while she still can. Just kidding. It wasn't that bad. I'll admit there are some definite sacrifices for getting married and then putting a spouse through grad school or med school. The biggest of course is finances. While other young couples have two incomes, you're more than likely acquiring more and more debt. You'll watch your friends buy houses and start families while you support your spouse both mentally, emotionally and financially. It's tough sometimes to delay for someone else's career or dreams, but it's kind of a first lesson in marriage. So what are some quick things I'd recommend to keep you both sane? Glad you asked. Here you go:

Try not to be jealous of classmates, school work, study time, etc that take time away from you.

Establish clear expectations for when study sessions, group projects, etc should take place (i.e. not during dinner). But remember to be flexible and offer grace. Classmates are more than likely not in the same situation and not everyone is sensitive to a married couple's commitments.

Discover ways that the spouse in school can unwind or de-stress WITH you. You'll be looking for time together. If you can make yourself a calming presence or fun escape, you'll find that you spend more quality time together.

Make an effort to get to know other engaged or married couples. You'll appreciate someone who "understands."

Show as much interest in the current subjects as you can muster. It will help for a few reasons. One, it's often all the spouse in school will want to talk about. Two, it will help you know pronunciation and have a general idea when you help study. And lastly, it will allow you to nod in the correct moments and prevent embarrassing comments when you get together as a group, because believe me, that's ALL they'll talk about.

Next we have the hilarious and beautiful Courtney. Courtney and her husband, Nolton, are what you might call the marriage dream team. They have huge hearts for the Lord, they are super hilarious, and are just so darn cute together. I don't think we had a time hanging out with them where we weren't cracking up. So here's what Courtney had to say about being married during PT school.

I'm not sure how much advice I have to offer but my first thought is just that it's good to hang out with everyone from school or other friends when you want to, but always be comfortable just spending time together and turning down an invitation if life has been too busy. Also get involved with a good church that supports newlyweds - it helped us so much!

Next we have sweet Hannah. Hannah actually got married about halfway through PT school, so major props to her for being able to juggle the stress of school and wedding planning at the same time! If anyone knows what it's like to be a true newlywed during PT school, it's this gal. So here's Hannah's advice on navigating those first few years of marriage.

The number one tip Brandon and I both would give to a couple about to go through PT school is to spend as much free time as you can together. It was a lot harder for Brandon and I, simply because he works night shift. So we basically never saw each other except when we was off rotation. Every off rotation, whether it be during the week or on the weekend, we would find something to do together (go to the movies, go to the park, ride our bikes)...whatever it may be. Honestly, the whole night shift thing was probably a blessing in disguise because every day/night that he was off, I would completely put off any school work that I had. Oops. So the nights he was working, I was able to completely devote my time to school. As stressful and terrible as I thought our messed up schedules were, it all worked out in the end.

And of course you should always worship TOGETHER. I wish that Brandon and I were able to do this on a regular basis, but unfortunately it's very rare. I would have LOVED to join a bible study group together while we were here. Now we are just praying that we can both find jobs with normal schedules. 

Finally, we have the beautiful and wise Laura. Laura's husband, Jason, actually graduated PT school a year ahead of Kyle, so they have been a great resource of support and advice for us throughout our time in Augusta. Laura and Jason are the type of people who will go above and beyond what you ask of them, and are all around GREAT friends. Their daughter, Lucy, is about to have her first birthday in June (I can't believe it!!), and Laura blogs about her experience as a mother here. Be sure to stop by and say hi to her too! Take it away, Laura!

Share the workload - we quickly realized that we both needed to pitch in when it came to work around the house in order to stay at peace with each other. To make things easier, we each chose certain chores that were our responsibility. I did the laundry and put clutter away and Jason always did the dishes. For the less often chores, Jason did most of the yard work and I cleaned the bathrooms and deep cleaned. This really helped us week in, week out. For us, Jason actually ended up with more free time than me. So he took on more than half of the work around the house. He used some of the free time that school gave him (such as extra weeks off) to do bigger home projects like staining the deck, raking the yard, etc.

One is not more important than another and vice versa - It is easy sometimes for the working person to feel like their job is more important because they are making money, however this is simply not true. The working person needs to realize that the PT Student is working just as hard at school as they would at a job (hopefully this is true!), and that school is a necessary first step to get to a job/career that they love and will make money in the future. The PT Student needs to realize that work is not the same as school and sometimes there is that extra level of pressure on the working person to keep a job, do well, deal with work stress, bosses, etc. It is super important for each of you to value what the other one is doing and realize how hard your spouse is working, and thank them for it.

The PT student needs to treat school as a job - this was really important for our time together. During school, 99% of the time, Jason would finish his homework and studying before 5 pm so that we could spend evenings and weekends together. Of course there are exceptions to this, like when he was studying for his board exam.

Realize it is not going to last forever and the end goal is something your spouse will love as a career - sometimes it feels like 3 years is an eternity and will never end. It is tempting sometimes to compare your lives to other couples where both of them work. However, just keep remembering that the 3 years will fly by, it will be a 3 years that you will remember forever. For us it is the 3 years where it was just the two of us, without any kids. It is a special time, so enjoy it!

Be thankful you're not in medical school - this is just a funny one, but true. Sometimes when I felt sorry for myself that my husband had to study on the weekends (which he did sometimes do for large tests) I would remind myself that it is a lot harder for medical school students and their spouses. At least we don't have to go through residency. Just take a moment and be thankful - that helped me!

Amen to not having a husband in med school! Did these ladies do an AMAZING job of bringing the advice or what?! I don't think I need to add anything in that department, but I do have a piece of advice of a different sort...

I want to encourage anyone thinking about PT school to seriously consider it. It will be one of the hardest things you ever do since it is a doctoral level degree, but it will also be one of the best decisions you ever make. The reward far outweighs the hard work, as the demand for Physical Therapists is really high right now and will only continue to grow. Kyle accepted a job back in March and he will not start working until after he takes the board exam in August. Talk about demand and return for your investment! My cousin and my little brother are both following in Kyle's footsteps in going to PT school, and we couldn't be more excited for them. 

So with all of that said, thank you for sticking around for this novel of a post! I hope it was enlightening for all you lovely readers, no matter what stage of life you are in. And speaking of stages, the graduation festivities begin tomorrow with the hooding ceremony, then continue on Friday with the class brunch and big school-wide graduation. Lots of pomp and circumstance, but I think Kyle and his classmates deserve it! Congratulations DPT Class of 2013! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

When Are You Going to Have Babies?!?!

Now that Kyle is about to have his degree in hand and we're under contract for our first house, the inevitable next question is....when are you going to have BABIES?!?! We were asked this a lot before, but recently I feel like the pressure has especially been on.

And I have to be honest, while we were living in Augusta and around a TON of babies, I started to get that itch. I was pinning cute nursery photos to my Future Little Fentons Pinterest board all the time. I was taking maternity, newborn, and growing baby photos for friends. I was volunteering in the nursery at church. It wasn't an all-consuming desire or anything, it was just something that danced in the forefront of my mind a little more often.

Now, I feel like I've experienced this huge shift in my thinking. I am NOT ready to have kids anytime soon. If I got pregnant tomorrow, I would probably (selfishly) cry. I don't know what happened that made my attitude change so drastically (maybe because these past few months I haven't been around that many babies?) but that baby fever has just kinda vanished. On one hand, it worries me a little bit, but on the other, I think God is giving me grace for this next season in life, where we are going to settle down in our first home and will probably be around a lot of young couples with children.

So with that said, it will probably be a few years until we have a little Kyle or little Lesley Anne running around. There are some things Kyle and I would like to do before we start a family, and I think we still need a few years where it is just the two of us before we are ready to make that step. Sure, it has been just the two of us for the past three years, but those three years have been a little different since one of us was a full-time student the entire time. We weren't able to give each other our undivided attention. Not that we will EVER be able to give each other our undivided attention, because life will always pull us in a million different directions, but having a baby in the mix definitely changes things. And we just aren't ready for that yet.

Of course, one thing I've learned is that my plans and God's plans are usually two different things, and it is prideful to tell God how my life is going to go. So God could have a completely different plan in mind for us, and ultimately that is what we are going to follow. He could surprise me with a positive pregnancy test tomorrow, and though initially I would freak out, I know God would be faithful in preparing my heart for motherhood sooner than planned. Or we could get a medical curveball that slows down our current timetable, or we may find out that adoption is going to be the only option for us. All I know is that whatever God has in store for us, He is going to bless us with a child in HIS timing. And we can't wait to see what the future holds. :)


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