Thursday, July 13, 2017

Granddaddy and Grandma Mellie come to visit

Lee and Melanie came into town last weekend and graciously were willing to be our first house guests. We worked hard to get the main living areas of the house ready for visitors (don't go up to the master suite though). Although we've been in Lexington for a few weeks, that time has been spent getting the house organized. We have not really explored or ventured around town in any capacity.

We went out to Keenland to watch the houses "train". It was so fun to be back at Keenland and this time it was basically empty. We walked right up to the track and watched the horses run. After watching and exploring a bit, we walked down to the track kitchen . On our way down there we got to see the horses being walked and groomed. A few of the caretakers came over to the fence so we could pet and see the horses up close. Lillie loved it and so did all of us! We will be be doing this again and next time we'll head to watch the horses earlier. They're such amazing creatures!

We did a lot of driving around in horse country and just seeing the sights. In this moment, Lillie was very fussy and we were trying to drive home. Lee and Melanie tried "fake sleeping" to entice her to close her own eyes. Obviously it didn't work, but it was pretty funny!

On Saturday after nap time, we headed out to Crank and Boom Ice Cream. Our neighbor has been an awesome supplier for all of our ice cream needs. We went out there and all got a scoop. It is delicious and is on our must list for people who come to town. Richard LOVES the strawberry and I have yet to find a flavor that I don't like. Melanie got the Caramel and I think really enjoyed it.

Melanie got the bath time routine down pat while she was here! Lillie LOVES bath time and when she's ready to start the wind down process she will even walk over to the bathroom door. That is our clue that she's ready for bath time. and ultimately bed time. She and Melanie had fun and Melanie even brought her a new duck toy for the occasion!

We had a lot of fun showing Richard's parents around our new city. We appreciate their willingness to be our first victims/ house guests.  We are falling more in love with our fun new city. We cannot wait to explore and learn about all that Lexington has to offer! We are looking forward to more visitors, learning more about horses, maybe kind of  start liking bourbon and learn to love everything UK.  Come help us explore!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Finding Our New House

I wanted to share with some of you the story about how we found our precious little house.  We found out in December that we would be relocating to Lexington. We immediately began using every possible online house search possible, we set up meeting with a realtor that we suggested to us by our friends and the hunt was on. Lexington has a real estate market that rivals Greenville. A house comes on the market and in less than 7 hours it is gone. We made the trek to Lexington ( 6+ hours) with Lillie about 4 times in the next 4 months. Often times with Richard's schedule we would go up Saturday morning, look at houses late Saturday and early Sunday morning and drive back Sunday. We were exhausted and so defeated by the whole process. When our Greenville house went under contract, we were frantic to find something that would line up with our timing but more importantly Richard's start date at the hospital.

Helping mama unpack
Back sometime this winter, I was added to a Facebook group of Lexington Moms. I put out a desperate plea sharing that we were coming up, looking for a house and listed all of the specs we were looking for, the price range and the area of town we were living in. I asked the Lexington Moms to let me know if anyone was getting ready to put their house on the market and were willing to let us get a 1st look. I was flooded with messages from folks. The moment I got a message with pictures and a message from the previous owner, I knew this house was it! Richard immediately loved it too. We drove to Lexington and were graciously welcomed into the house for a look. It was just what we were hoping for, less than 2 miles from the hospital and in our price range. It had the old house charm that we love (the house was built in 1925).  We made an offer the next day and were thrilled when they accepted.  When we met the owners, we felt as if we had made some new friends.

We love our new house and are so glad it worked out how it did. When Richard was in orientation for work, he met people who shared that they had tried countless times to find a house but they were stuck renting because of the fast turnover.  We really lucked out and are excited about our new adventure in this sweet little tudor home.

Let me know if you need our new address and know that we have already had our first round of visitors (Lee and Melanie). Kara, Michael and sweet Greta are next on the visiting list and we cannot wait to have the cousins reunited after not seeing one another a year! Know that there is an open invitation to our friends and family.  We'd love to have people come visit and help us explore our new city.  As always, thanks for reading and following our adventure! 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Adventures of Nomads....

On May 25th, we left our empty house and said goodbye to being Greenville residents.  I cannot believe that 5 years of living in such an amazing city flew by that quickly. It was sad and I'll admit that I cried much more than I expected to. We said goodbye to Lillie's wonderful teachers at ARBC and hit the road onto the next chapter on our road to Lexington. This time however, we headed south to the beach. We stayed at a Wyndham resort and loved our special time together. We played in the sand. Lillie made friends with EVERYONE and both mama and dada became reacquainted with aspects of their childhood that once meant so much. Richard loved the water and I worked hard on a "drippy castle" and pond area of Lillie to relax in. It was our first vacation as a family of three and our first trip alone since April of 2014. We've vowed that it will not be that long before it happens again. 

After leaving Myrtle Beach, we went to Charleston for just a few days. Nothing really special to report during our time there.Lillie and Luka both were such wonderful travelers. Being 17 months old and having to sleep in a pack and play for almost 3 weeks was a challenge. Before leaving Greenville, Lillie was sleeping through the night like a champ. She rarely woke and would sleep 7:30-7:30 without disruption. Being a nomad changed that a bit. Without a rocking chair to soothe her, Lillie ended up in our bed. She loves snuggling at night and enjoyed this a lot more than we realized.

We headed back to Greenville for Richard's big day! On June 2nd, Richard officially graduated from his residency program. Being the house staff president, he ended up giving a speech. I was so proud and Lillie was beyond thrilled with her daddy's achievements. It still is amazing to me that 3 years have flown by since he got the nice long white coat. He loves GHS so much and they have been such an incredible family to us. They have loved us, supported us, celebrated with us all that life has blessed us with over the past 3 years. We will cherish our wonderful residency family for the rest of our years.  I know that we will meet some wonderful people in Lexington and I know we will have more extended family, but the GHS residents, attendings, program staff and everyone else involved in the program are top notch. Already, we are planning visits with people. 

GHS Internal Medicine Class of 2017 

Speaking of our GHS family, lets talk about the spouses and how amazing my "support group" is. As much as people outside of this lifestyle want to relate or encourage, it is almost impossible to do so. Only a special group of spouses understand what it's like to see your spouses leave at 5 am and watch them arrive home at 9:30 pm, complete orders via phone or computer for another hour, go to bed and get up and do it all over again. When my dear friend Kara found out that we had to come back to Greenville for graduation and for Richard's board review class, she immediately offered to house us. It was so special and wonderful to spend time together before we left the city for good. Kara (and her husband Ryan) have 2 beautiful children, Carolina and Duncan. Lillie falls right in-between both of them age wise. When I first met Kara, she and I were both talking about someday having kiddos. After struggling with infertility, they pursued adoption and were very quickly blessed with Caroline. Shortly after Kara found out she was pregnant and in May 2016, Duncan arrived. As I drove away from Kara and her sweet miracles, I couldn't help but think about the progress and changes that we've supported one another though. Growing our families, surviving being a residency spouse together and loving our sweet children together.What incredible blessings we have been given in 3 years. I am so thankful for Kara, Ryan, Caroline and Duncan. I know that as the years go by and the adventures continue that the Paulk family will remain near and dear to our heart. Kara and I often talk about our girls going to summer camp together and I cannot wait to watch them grow up.

Lillie & Caroline dancing to Raffia

Hanging at Aunt JJ's
Our next home was with my wonderful college Bff and her husband. Spending time with my best friend before leaving town was so special. We were lucky enough to live just 1 mile from her for the past 2 years and although I don't think I'll ever get this lucky again, I am so glad we had this time. Jesse and I met on our freshman hall in 2006 and it was immediate friendship. She was been there through everything and I am so thankful I got some one-on-one time with her before moving away from South Carolina. Lillie loves her to pieces and watching Aunt JJ love on Lillie makes my heart so happy. Jesse is more kind and loving than I can express. Richard's graduation had been on my birthday and those events overshadowed my 30th birthday. Jesse called my favorite spa, set up a massage and watched the baby while I went and had "me" time.  How thoughtful of a friend is that?  I am so lucky to have such an incredible best friend and miss being near her. I will say JJ and Trey trey are planning on coming for a visit sometime soon!
Our final "home" was Walt Disney World. After driving away from Greenville (yes, I was crying), we headed to Lexington. We had just over a week before closing on our new house and it just so happened that we were due for our awesome #BruceDisneyVacay . After our initial flight from Lexington was cancelled, we finally made it to Disney on Monday the 12th. We spent great time with Grandma and Grandpa and enjoyed every moment. I don't think my parents have had such a relaxing trip in their whole lives. While at Disney, we met a few characters, ate some wonderful food, laughed and enjoyed our "magical" time. Lillie was yet again a trooper, she met Donald Duck without being scared, ate well, tolerated going to 4 different parks and everyone we met gushed over her. On our last trip to Disney in 2015, we shared a special time with my parents and told them that I was pregnant ( just 5 weeks). That made it even more special to know that we brought our sweet 17 month old along with us. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Our lasts in Greenville...

Time is flying by and with only a few more weeks before we will be leaving our home and our town, we are trying to to the best of our ability to soak up everything. We are going out to eat at our favorite places, walking around Falls Park, walking through Mast General Store, visiting with our friends and making as many memories as possible. We have so many exciting opportunities to create new memories ahead of us but we are just enjoying the last bit of time we have in Greenville.

Friday Night, Richard and I left Lillie with her favorite babysitter. We went to a fancy dinner and had drinks after. We walked all around downtown and talked about how much the town has changed in the 5 years that we've lived here. Downtown in unrecognizable in some parts and is just booming. When we moved here, the West End was dark and you did not really go down there except for maybe a Greenville Drive baseball game. Now it is just crawling with people, new bars, new stores and the next "hip" spot. We joked that should we ever come back to Greenville- to visit or live that we won't recognize anything about it.

Falls Park- Greenville, SC

Coop Crawl/Bad Hair day for me
Saturday we went to the North Main area of town for the "Coop Crawl". Urban Chickens have been a very popular thing in town. When we lived on Faris Road, our old neighbors (and friends who now live in Lexington) had chickens. We thought it was such a wild concept but thoroughly enjoyed eating the eggs.  Well, the fad has exploded since then. We traveled from house to house and saw the various types of chickens and each unique coop. It was fun and made us once again want Chickens. Lillie was pretty tired and didn't know what to think.  Everyone who welcomed us into their backyards were so kind and truly love these chickens. One lady shared that if she leaves her kitchen door open that one of her "girls" will help herself inside and check out the kitchen. Imagine that!!

We love this awesome town and will miss so much about it. We are so thankful for the friendships that we've made with everyone in town. Everyone has supported us and our marriage, they've supported Richards Career,  they've let us borrow their cars to move things or get mulch, they were gracious and loving when Lillie was born and continue to be an incredible part of our family. This upcoming Wednesday I will be attending a "goodbye" dinner for my Side-By-Side bible study (a ministry for medical spouses) and it hurts my heart a little bit to be saying goodbye to these women who have walked with me for 3 years through this journey.  Hopefully there will be no tears but if there are, I am sure it will be the first of many. We are trying very hard to soak up time with our friends and hopefully we will be able to do so. We cannot express how special you are and how thankful we are that God placed you in our lives. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fellowship Follow-up

My friend Kara started blogging again after a long absence and I took that as my cue to make some time for it too.  Check our her blog here--White House Red Roof .

What the email we received looked like
The last time I wrote we were preparing to apply for the Fellowship application process. Now months later, we are preparing to move for Fellowship.  In July we applied to 56 programs for a Hematology/Oncology Fellowship. Shortly after his application was submitted, the craziness began. Over the next 3-4 months, Richard traveled non-stop around the East Coast to interview at about 10 programs. We were lucky enough to hear from about 16 total programs, but interviewing at 10 programs was insane (time wise and financially) that we had made the decision to only interview at 10. He was gone multiple nights a week for that 3-4 month time frame and our family time was extremely limited. BUT it was all worth it. On December 7th, at Noon- we found out that Richard had matched at the University of Kentucky.  

At Keenland horse race in Lexington, KY
We were thrilled to finally have our location and a little more known about the future of our family.  As a family we had traveled to Kentucky for the interview (and twice since finding out). Our dear friends and old neighbors from Greenville now live there and graciously welcomed us for the weekend so that we could learn about the city and explore a little bit with their guidance. We thought Lexington was a great town and surprisingly seemed like a bigger version of Greenville with horses.

We will be moving there sometime in the next month or two and Richard will officially begin July 1st. We truly feel like we are being called to Lexington for a reason and are excited to relocate. We are excited about the possibilities that Lexington will bring for our little family and the time to explore in a completely new area of the country for both of us.

Richard is nervous about the unknowns of what Fellowship will be like but Lillie and I have every faith that he'll be amazing and successful.  As of right now, I will be staying home with Lillie until she can get into a daycare and I can start the job hunt. On December 8th, I put her on a waiting list and the daycare still has no idea when she'll be able to start.We don't have a place to live yet but are going to look next week as a family. The right house will happen for us. Our home in Greenville is under contract after less than a weekend of being on the market and we will leave the house officially mid-May. We love our house and our dear friends here in Greenville. We are sad to leave all of these wonderful and precious things/people behind but phones work 2 ways and it won't be goodbye, just see you later. My sweet bible study friends are already planning their trip to Lexington!

Life right now is very busy and our time is limited with so much to do before we leave South Carolina. Somehow a million events are happening in May and right now Richard's hospital schedule leaves us with a 36 hour window to drive to Kentucky (6 hours), tour houses and drive back home. Please think of us and send good thoughts as we try to wrap everything up and find our new home.  As always, thanks for reading and following!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Another 3 years?? Maybe

This month Richard is officially in his FINAL year of residency. It is amazing to me that time is flying by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday that we had matched at GHS and were getting settled into our new house. Now, we are starting on the 3rd and final year of residency. This year Richard is the top dog. He's come so far in his knowledge and throughout the course of his time at GHS, he has decided that he has an interest in going further into his medical training.

Richard has a passion and interest in Hematology/Oncology (Cancer and blood disorders). His intern year he started sharing how much he enjoyed it and that he thought possibly he would be interested in a fellowship. Well, the time has come for us to pursue that interest. Hem Onc is one of the most competitive fellowships for internal medicine with 1/6 people getting accepted. There are a lot of extremely competitive programs across the country and many associated with big name schools. Unlike residency, there aren't any small community based programs so the stakes are much higher. Richard has worked hard to beef up his CV  and has more research. He has asked some wonderful physicians to do letters of recommendations for him. On Friday we will once  again hit "submit"in ERAS and say lots of prayers. We have selected many programs across the country and hopefully, will be hearing from them soon.  If the programs like your application enough, you will be one of the lucky ones to get an interview.

The timeline of Fellowship events:
- July 15th applications are due
- August-October is Interview Season
- December is Fellowship Match Day

Should Richard match, we will be looking at another 3 years in a location TBD. We would be moving and selling our house in June of 2017.We are keeping our fingers crossed and saying lots of prayers for Richard (and our family). He will be so wonderful as a Hem Onc Doctor and I know that he will touch so many lives. I pray that these programs all want interviews with Dr. O'Neal, but I know that with such competitive odds that we are going to be thankful for any interview that we do get.  I have complete confidence that regardless of the outcome this year that Richard will someday be a Hem Onc Doctor.

Please keep Richard in your thoughts, send him good vibes and prayers that he does not get discouraged or overwhelmed with such a competitive application process. Pray for lots of interviews! We are excited about the possibility of another adventure in a new place and hope that we can visit people during the interview season. As always thank you for following our adventure.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Mamas Fears

Since Lillie's birth Richard and I are constantly being told how "beautiful" she is. Yes, we think she's the most beautiful baby in the world but as I read things in the news or hear stories about things that horrible things that happen to people in our world I very seriously worry about my child's future.

I sat down with a lady (co-worker) the other day who shared with me a sad story relating to her daughter and a sexual assault situation at her high school. This young woman is stunning and has been since infancy. She was attacked by another student in her class and the school district is not doing anything to protect this girl or punish the young man.  This mother was in tears as she spoke about it and about her 14 year old being in counseling for something so traumatic. It broke my heart.

For years now I have been aware of the sex trafficking issues in South Carolina. There are people who prey on beautiful children or people that they can lure into enslavement. This is a very serious problem in the world and is in our own backyard.

This year there have been more violent hate crimes against the various minority groups than I ever remember happening in my lifetime. Never in 2016 would imagine that such hate for a population of people could exist. It is tragic and unjust what is happening in the African-American community and I pray daily that we will get to a point where skin color, religion or sexual orientation will not lump an individual into a category.

Lillie is 1/2 Colombian and 1/2 White. At this point, she looks more Colombian. In my own lifetime, people have made racist and ignorant comments towards me. "I don't speak your language" and "I was going to ask you for towels" are just two examples.  I am beyond proud of my heritage and my skin tone. I wear a Colombian bracelet everyday and proudly share my heritage with people who ask "where are you from" (which means what's your ethnicity).

Richard and I don't know what Lillie will look like as she grows up (maybe she'll eventually favor him more) but I do worry for her. I worry that people will remain ignorant and racist. I worry that she will be targeted for many reasons or that she will be discriminated against. Any situation that involves the safety of ones child or of human injustices is terrifying but for me as the mother of a "beautiful" (and bi-racial) baby scares me for her future. I really hope she has an awkward stage until she's 80. Braces, pimples, horrible glasses- you name it and I hope she gets it.  Most of all, I hope and pray for a safer world with more equality for all people

Please Pray for a world with accepting people, pray for a world with less hate and pray for the safety of individuals.