Transitions

I’ve heard it takes between four to six weeks to adjust to something new, in which case, today is a really big hump day — 2.5 weeks into my semester and 2 weeks into G’s school year (cue Bon Jovi, “Ooooh, we’re halfway theeeere . . . “).

Kindergarten
G’s transition from half-day Montessori preschool (with grandma as one of his teachers) to full-on, conventional kindergarten has been a little rough, made rougher by the fact that we found out the day before school started that his supposed teacher resigned (two days before school started), which left his class without a dedicated classroom teacher for the first four days of school.  The school principal, teachers, and other staff did their best to fill the void, but it definitely made things extra rocky.

Overall, I think G is settling in and will be fine, but goodbyes in the morning are always a sad time.  He tears up pretty much every single day, rubbing his eyes and fighting back the tears while blowing me sad-faced kisses as his class walks into the building.  I held it together until the fifth day of school, when I also broke down.

I think he might actually be better off if I just dropped him off and left, except that he refuses to engage with any of the other kids on the playground, which makes me feel like he’s not ready for this step.

Instead, I stand there with him clinging to me in the hot, hot sun (his school starts on the later side and we are on the east side of the building — SO. MUCH. SUN.), staring at my phone and hoping that NOW is the time they will blow the whistle for the kids to line up and go inside.

No matter how late I push our morning departure time, or how many errands we run ahead of time, we have yet to achieve my goal of arriving exactly as the kids are lining up.  Always early!

Anyhow, I changed things up yesterday, and instead of just blowing a kiss to G as his class walked by my post near the door, I made a funny face: tongue out, fingers waggling at ears, eyes crossed — going all out and making a complete fool of myself (in front of the few parents who were actually still there) to get a smile out of that kid.  And it worked!

Time
Don’t be fooled by the fact that we are arriving early — time is NOT on my side these days.  For the past two years, I was spoiled by G’s school schedule and our transportation arrangements.  Matthew took G to school most days, and in order for the timing to work, they usually left the house by eight o’clock.  That meant my day — the chunk of time I had to do school work, paid work, and house stuff — effectively started at 8.

These days, by the time I get home from G’s school drop-off, it’s almost 9:30 a.m.  It’s like I’ve lost an hour-and-a-half every. single. weekday.  Add another 30-40 minutes to that on the days I’m also picking him up in the afternoons, and, it’s two hours a day, poof!  Gone!

Anyway, I’m slowly adjusting, figuring out ways I can at least squeeze in some housework and/or errands in the mornings before school, which helps a bit.

On the bike
Between G’s school transportation and getting to my own classes, I’m racking up quite the mileage, despite the heat.  Did I mention it is hot?  So hot?  (Actually, it could be hotter, but I don’t want to think about that.)

One of my classes meets in the afternoon, which means I am biking both to and from class during the sunniest and hottest times of the day — not super fun for this heat-phobic vampire!

Biking with G has been good overall, though as he continues getting heavier (and the difference between his weight and my weight gets smaller), using the tag-a-long bike is becoming more challenging, both from a general balance perspective and for getting up the hills.  I’ve taken to using a longer route to/from school to avoid one particular hill, at least when he is in tow.

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So, there you have it!  A couple more weeks, and we should all be pros at this new normal.  Moving toward cooler weather (if slowly in StL), doesn’t hurt, either!

Hello from the other side of summer

I’m not sure how I feel about being on the other side of summer, but I am happy to be on the other side of the move!  Between unpacking and cleaning, cleaning and unpacking, a variety of house projects, a five-year-old birthday, a visit from my family, a short getaway, and a semester-long class packed into 6 weeks (also, unpacking and cleaning), the summer flew by!

On Monday, I began the second of three years of part-time coursework that I need for my didactic program in dietetics (DPD) verification.  I have this feeling that I’m going to blink and I’ll be sitting here a year from now starting my final year of the program — oof!

My first day of class almost didn’t happen due to a a power outage on campus, but we managed to get in a shortened class after a delayed start.

I’ll be getting back into shape again with a thrice weekly commute to campus (weather permitting — I’ve already tried out my public transit back-up route).  I’m already looking forward to feeling cool fall breezes on that commute, but those are more than a few weeks away!

I’m not the only one back to school this week — Gabriel starts kindergarten today!  For the past two years, Matthew was the primary child transporter (along with my MIL, who did p.m. transportation), biking Gabriel to preschool almost every morning, first on Big Blue, then on the trail-a-bike.  The timing of Gabriel’s new school means that school drop-off and pick-up will fall to me most days, and I’m looking forward to this new routine (though again, it will be more fun when it’s not so darn hot!).

In addition to the new transportation routine, we’re going to need a new plan for lunches.  For the past two years, I’ve been able to pack Gabriel a lunch based on dinner leftovers (i.e., the same thing Matthew and I eat for lunch) that school staff or my MIL reheated and served.  He won’t have the luxury of heating his food anymore (as far as I know), and while some dishes are okay chilled or room temp, I’ll likely have to rethink others.  I’m browsing the school lunches over at Bonzai Aphrodite (and wishing she could just make G’s lunches every day).

Two days in, I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the moving pieces, but I survived last fall and spring — I’ve got this!

 

Moved!

Ten months.  That’s how long it took from first seeing the “For Sale” sign to move in day, but we were patient and worked hard (and all the stars aligned), and for the past two-and-a-half weeks, we’ve been living in our house!

The final weeks leading up to moving day were busy and stressful — everything you could want for a move, right?  But we wrapped up most of the work, got our occupancy permit (with a few minor violations to address), packed lots of boxes (is anyone every completely ready when the movers show up?),  and finished painting all but one room in time for moving day.

The move itself went quite smoothly, a marked improvement on four years ago.  And then the exhaustion hit.  Once the adrenaline was gone, the effects of sleep deprivation (and perhaps low iron?) and cumulative stress set in, and I was nigh upon worthless for a number of days, but I feel like I’m reentering the land of the living.

There are still more boxes to unpack and additional repairs / finish work needed, but we’re starting to feel settled.

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Front room, AKA living room
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Breezeway, AKA dining room (/office)

We started off with the two rooms above flip-flopped (dining table in front room and sofa in breezeway), but it just wasn’t working, so we switched to the current configuration.  In addition to just feeling better, this set-up means we’re eating in the room with the old laminate flooring (vs. the newly refinished wood), which is nice, especially with a kiddo involved.  It also means I am happy with our current dining table (I wanted a rectangular table for the front room) — one less thing to buy.

Sneak peek at the kitchen

We have quite a few ends to tie up in the kitchen: glass fronts for the wall cabinets (until then, enjoy our “invisible” glass), tile around the top of the island (over plywood visible here), buying bar stools, decluttering the island so we can actually use the bar, installing the shelf for the microwave, and replacing some baseboard.  Fortunately, those things don’t affect the function of the kitchen, and we’ve already cooked a number of tasty meals (and a pan of peanut butter brownies) in the updated space  The kitchen will get it’s own post in the future.

So, there you have it — the reason for the radio silence around here for the past several weeks!  We’re very happy to not be running between the apartment and the house anymore.  You don’t have to worry about us spending too much time on the sofa though — garden planning is in full swing!

Circus life

No, I’m not talking about aerial arts, though we have, somehow, continued to make space for aerial silks here and there.  Rather, life feels like a many-ringed circus these days: house purchase, house remodel, buying a [new-to-us] car, selling our car, my school work, and figuring out where G will go to school in the fall — just to name the big things!

The House
While the house has “good bones” — basically every contractor who comes in to give us an estimate mentions this, “Oh, this place has great bones,” which is nice, good bones are important, but if I hear it one more time, I might scream, because right now I’m ready for a house that’s liveable — it needs a number of updates.

Many of these we planned on and figured into the up front cost of the house, but it’s still a lot of work and a lot of decisions, figuring out who to call, getting multiple bids, getting providers to follow-up with us (because, spring! the most popular time for construction work, and evidently everyone is swamped).  The biggest project is the kitchen, and there is a certain order of operations for that work, so while our cabinets should arrive in a week, we are not nearly ready to install them.

Matthew and I are putting every ounce of our [public health] project management skills into coordinating all of these moving pieces.  If we don’t get a few key commitments this week, we may push back our move date a bit.

We are getting lots of wonderful support, in various forms, from our parents, for which I am so grateful.  My dad made the trip from Iowa to spend a couple of intense days working on the house, and Matthew’s dad has put in untold hours on various projects.

The Car(s)
Just in case we needed something else on our plates, we had the limited-time opportunity to upgrade our automobile by purchasing my MIL’s “old” car (a 2011 Camry, making it brand-spanking-new next to our 2002 Corolla).  While the timing is FAR from ideal, the alternative, not doing this now, when we have the chance, seems somewhat foolish.

With a little luck, we might have the car circus wrapped up by the end of the week, though adding a trailer hitch to the Camry has created an additional plot twist.  Said car went in to U-Haul for the hitch installation with cruise control working, and emerged with cruise control mysteriously NOT working.  Grrr!

School
I can see the light at the end-of-semester tunnel!  Just a few more weeks, and I’ll have another semester under my belt.  I am taking one online class over the summer, but it doesn’t start until July 11, so I’ll have some down time time to pack! and paint! and move!

Of course, the house purchase and subsequent money we’re funneling into the house is making me question the wisdom of being in school (another big expense) vs. working right now.  When I went back to school in August, the chances of us finding a house to buy anytime soon seemed rather slim.  In fact, I’d rather started to think that we would have to relocate to find (and afford) the house we wanted, and that my pursuing a career in dietetics and nutrition might make it easier to find a job elsewhere, thus facilitating that future relocation.

With the house purchase, our future is very much here in StL.  I will not change my current path without some serious reflection, but the idea of a paycheck, a real paycheck, and not just the ≤8 hours/week that I’m pulling now, plus not incurring additional school debt, is rather attractive with the expenses piling up.

Anyhow, I have more calls to make and class work to do before two house appointments this afternoon, squeezed in before my class.  Circus, indeed!

P.S. My recent posts have been more words and less images, but there are photos if you hop over to Instagram. I hope to share some house photos there soon, but everything looks yucky right now!

 

 

A house at last!

It took almost exactly SEVEN years, but we finally bought a house!  This purchase has been in the works since last August, when I happened to take a different route to school and saw the “For Sale” sign just in the nick of time.  That’s a long time for me to not write a thing about something so big!

At first it all seemed so tenuous, and while we told family members, and then a few close friends, we chose not to spread the news far and wide.  It became more of a certainty in November, but there were still lots of t’s to cross and i’s to dot (and months hoping that either the house had been winterized or the heat was still on, so we didn’t find an expensive mess once we finally had access).

Once it became more of a certainty, we decided to wait to share the news in completely public forums until it was 100% official and we had notified our landlord.  Check, and check!

The property meets (or will meet) A LOT of our criteria.  It is, in many ways, the needle in the haystack we’ve been hunting for for all these years.  That said, I will not share a lot of the specific details here due to privacy concerns given the uniqueness of the property.

While the house, was, at a glance, technically (maybe?) liveable, it needed some updates in the flooring and kitchen departments.  We’ve spent the past two weeks making the house look horrible — tearing out the grungy old carpeting, worn linoleum flooring, and kitchen cabinets — and scrambling to meet with contractors and finalize decisions.

We gave our landlord two months notice, and we’re hoping for all of the work, or at least all of the big, messy, disruptive work, to be finished by the time we move in.

Costing various options has been eye-opening and sobering.  We had hoped to use Mwanzi/Greenhaus for our kitchen cabinets, but that plan was quickly scrapped when we found out that just buying the cabinets from them would use our entire kitchen budget.  Gulp!  We’ve run into similar roadblocks on other sourcing decisions, and we’ve had to make lots of compromises on what our ideal would be (socially and environmentally) and what we can actually afford.

Sadly, it seems that certain “green” options, from cabinetry to geothermal heating, are really only attainable for those at the higher end of the socioeconomic scale. So that’s been a bit of a reality check for our idealist selves.  (We are planning to install solar panels next year — the payoff on those seems quite good.)

Anyhow, we’ve finalized our kitchen cabinetry and appliance decisions, and we have three rooms and the hallway almost ready for the floor refinishers (still more staples to pull — always more staples!).  The kitchen floor, however, is a hot mess of linoleum, a nasty adhesive, and the. worst. staples. EVER!

I’m half wishing we’d never started tear-out on that floor, and just put something over the existing flooring, but it’s probably good in the end because we’ve already pulled up moldy under-layment, and keeping that around would not have been good for air quality!

My renewed mindfulness practice, which had been going strong since January, got off-track right around when we closed on the house, which, combined with all of the big decisions, took a toll on my mental and physical health.  I’m re-committing to the mindfulness and trying to get some reflux issues (something that’s never been an issue for me) under control.