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!

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!



Finding balance

In my semester recap post back in December, I wrote about some changes I planned to make to bring create some space and balance: reducing my hours at my paid job and resuming a regular mindfulness meditation practice.

Mindfulness first!  With the exception of three or four days, I have made time for formal practice every day for over a month now!  I try for 15 minutes a day, but if five or ten minutes is what I have, I go with it.  Gifting myself this time is a struggle some days, but it is SO important!  It feels good to be back in the saddle.

As planned, I reduced my [paid] work hours from about 15 hours/week to 8-10 hours/week.  Eight hours a week seems rather ideal, and it seems to be helping with the balance I was seeking, even though I have somewhat negated the reduction by adding an [unpaid] internship (≤5 hours/week).

My classes are going well, though none of them was quite what I expected. The Experimental Foods course doesn’t involve all that much time actually cooking.  Instead, we have a team project that involves making one modification to one recipe over the course of the semester.  Our instructor works at Bissenger’s [Chocolates], so our recipe had to somehow include chocolate.  My team is making chocolate waffles.

My Advocacy in Family and Consumer Sciences course has some nice tie-ins with my Business Management course.  We’ve picked a broad topic to focus on for advocacy, and mine is diabetes (likely drilling down to the issue of insurance coverage for Medical Nutrition Therapy for people who are pre-diabetic).  The management course is all online, with very little interaction, so it’s a bit of a slog, but I’ll get through it!

In terms of workload, Advocacy and Experimental are both starting slow, with the bulk of the work during the middle and last half of the semester, so I may be in the calm before the storm right now.

I suppose I should mindfully enjoy the space/balance I have right now and not worry that times may get a bit hectic.  That will happen (or not) regardless (though there is some foundational work I can do now to ease my workload later).

Breathing in . . .


. . . and breathing out.

Working my way into 2016

Happy New Year, ya’ll!  I would apologize for being late, but seeing as how I’m still getting out a few last Christmas gifts, this post is actually quite timely!

We spent New Year’s in Iowa with my family, and I spent the first few days of this week getting my head into 2016.

On the school front, I’m taking three classes this semester, two in-person (dietetics/nutrition content) and one online (business management).  My original schedule had me on campus three days a week (very similar to last semester), but my T/H class changed to one longer meeting time on Thursdays.

The new timing of the Thursday class has some downsides, but I’ll save time by reducing my commutes from three days to two, which will be especially nice in the colder weather/darker days when just gearing up (clothing and lights) for the bike ride takes a significant amount of time.

I’m most excited about my “Experimental Foods” class.  It involves a lab (i.e., cooking) component, and it should be perfect for me since most of my cooking is experimental.  Mostly good experiments, but it can be tricky when someone asks me for a recipe!

My online class is through St. Louis Community College, which means I’ll benefit from their new partnership with MetroBus/Link, which provides a semester-long U-PASS to all credit students (you qualify for the pass even if you’re only taking one credit hour!).  I’m excited to be able to take advantage of this partnership!  I don’t take transit a lot, but having a pass instead of having to think about fare may inspire some additional trips, especially in these next few months, when we’re likely to have some iffy road conditions.

Also somewhat school-related — I’m putting a few hours a week into an internship with Lighter, a cool start-up currently offering meal planning and food delivery services focused on plant-based eating.  I’m excited to be part of the work (doing nutrition analysis on their recipes) and to see what’s in store for the company going forward!

Tidying Up
My name finally rose to the top of the library’s wait list for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  While I have yet to officially start the process (I haven’t even finished reading the book), it shows promise, as I found not one, but two, long-lost items while doing some cleaning within a day of bringing the book home.

I’m curious to see where this leads for our household overall.  I’m not sure if Marie Kondo addresses this later in the book, but one of my big questions is how to get everyone in the house on board!

I dug out my mindfulness journal so I have a concrete way to track getting back on track with my practice, after a failed attempt a few weeks ago (I knew right before the holidays was not great timing, but figured I’d give it a shot — oh well, each day a new beginning!).

On with the year!
It took me a week, but with my old-school, hard copy yearly planner in hand, I’m feeling ready for 2016.  I anticipate having plenty of opportunities to practice living in the moment, taking things one day, one hour, one minute at a time in the coming year.


Worn out but still kicking

It’s been quite the week: G’s nail-removal surgery, 1 exam, 2 presentations, and an interview — glad to be on the other side of all of those things!

I started this post before Thanksgiving, when, not surprisingly, my worn-down body caught the first cold of the season.  Let’s just say that part-time job plus [9 credit hour] part-time school plus co-running a household for the past 16 weeks (right on the heels of a very intense month following G’s accident) was more than a bit overwhelming.

I survived, but I’m going to make some changes for the spring semester: reduced hours at my job and getting back into regular meditation practice.  I’ll be taking 10 credit hours, but one of the classes is online, which might make the course-load feel a bit lighter — one can always hope!

So, about that meditation practice . . . .  After almost a year of regular, dedicated mindfulness meditation practice, I fell off the train in a big way following G’s accident, and with the flurry of activity around my return to school, I never got back on board.  I don’t know if this is possible, but I felt like even though I wasn’t making time for formal practice, I benefited from the previous work I’d done, in a sense building up some reserves or buffer, but after 4+ intense months, those reserves are empty.  Time to rebuild that mindfulness muscle!

G’s surgery
We weren’t sure what to expect post-op, so we made the most of the pre-surgery weekend with a family bike ride to view local Christmas lights, a friend’s birthday party, and readying our house for Christmas.


We found the perfect field cedar at Matthew’s grandpa’s, and hauled it home on our little car.  By the end of the day, after only one tree-tipping episode, our not-so-little tree was decked for the holidays.

We arrived at the hospital bright and early on Monday morning to “get those silly nails out,” getting a lovely view of the moon and Venus on the way.  The play area next to G’s same-day surgery prep room kept him calm and distracted from his empty belly until go time.  I accompanied him into the surgical suite and stayed until the anesthetic took effect.  Two hours later, we were headed home, with the hardware in tow — nine-inch titanium nails!


Monday and Tuesday were rough, with some stomach side effects from the anesthesia (somewhat unexpected because he didn’t have issues in August), but by Wednesday morning, this kid was claiming no pain (without drugs) and literally bouncing off the walls.  So, so thankful that this is behind us!

Dietetics coursework
My first of six [part-time] semesters (plus a few summer courses) is now behind me!  Somewhat ironically, my grades matter more in dietetics than they would have if I’d gone the physician assistant route, because getting a dietetic internship (required to become an R.D.) is really competitive.  With the possibility of PA school, I’d tried to start internalizing the idea that I didn’t have to “be the valedictorian” of my PA class.  When I chose dietetics instead, I had to rearrange my plans for mediocrity 😉

Anyhow, the semester went well, and, despite a near-disaster with a group project (I had group projects/presentations in all three of my classes — gah!), I should come out well on the old GPA front.  More importantly, I met some cool people, and my classes exposed me to new information and ideas!

On the bike
The amazing weather for biking continues into December.  After making my 16-mile RT commute three days a week for the past 16 weeks, I am in pretty decent biking-shape.  I only used the car for five of those school commutes, justifying my choice to not by a parking pass.

I may have to ride my commute route a few times over the next four weeks, just so I don’t lose everything I’ve built.  Other than that, I’m looking forward to a little down time to rest and recharge for 2016!