A new chapter . . . and back to the car

I finished my final semester of dietetics coursework (and bike commuting to campus) in early May, and I am now one week away from working full-time outside the home for the first time in SIX years.  Six. Years.  August 1, 2012.  That feels like eons ago.

Also, while my job from December 2009 — July 2012 was full-time, it was a four-day-a-week full-time gig.  Which means it’s been over eight-and-a-half years since I’ve had a 5-day outside-the-home work week.

Needless to say, I go into these next 10 months (the length of my internship) with more than a little trepidation about what this change will mean for me and my family.  As the partner who worked part-time, from home, with fairly flexible hours, it made sense for me to take on the bulk of the household tasks for the last six years — that will have to change, but exactly how remains TBD.  It’s not like Matthew will magically have more hours in his day, as he will continue to work his full-time job.

We have talked about cutting back on the garden, at least temporarily.  We’re hoping to continue to have homemade, mostly garden-grown meals most nights, but we will also need to be flexible on this.  I thought about exploring some meal kit options over the summer, but that hasn’t happened . . . .

On the transportation front, I will once again be primarily car-bound.*  My time will be split between two sites, one that is 13-16 miles (25-30 minutes) by car and one that is 7-8 miles (20-25 minutes) by car.  The longer commute will actually be pretty similar to my previous car commute.  I hope to bike to the closer site somewhat regularly, though I need to explore shower options.

The further site is a bit less far by bike than by car — 10 miles by bike vs. 13-16 miles by car — but still, TEN miles one way.  I test rode this route over a year ago and wrote about it here.  Those 10 miles took me a bit over an hour, which means 2+ hours out of my day, round-trip.  If I didn’t have a kid to get home to, maybe, but as it is, that’s time that I can’t regularly afford.  I don’t see that time decreasing much short of getting an e-bike, and getting an e-bike for 10 months doesn’t make sense.

While the realities of this change are sobering, I am excited and grateful that I not only matched for a dietetic internship (nationwide the match rate is under 60%), but I matched with my first choice program!  I will be engaging in amazing, hands-on learning in a field I love while working with great preceptors.

These next ten months will be challenging, and I’m not expecting a great work-life balance.  What will come after May 2019 remains to be seen.  Our ideal work-life balance is probably working ~1.3 paid jobs between the two of us, leaving room for our gardening and from-scratch cooking habits.  Realistically, while it would be great to divide the paid work evenly between us, with health insurance and other benefits being tied to full-time employment, that means one of us working full-time and the other working part-time.  Once I finish my internship, secure employment, and pay off my school loans, we will see about that 1.3 jobs goal. And more consistent bike commuting!

*Any of the internships to which I applied would have required a car commute, given the distance and time to the sites, so this internship is neutral in that sense.

Final semester

It’s hard to believe that I started the journey to becoming a registered dietitian just two-and-a-half years ago.  And what a journey it’s been!

2015 — Fall Semester
After I decided to go back to school, but before classes start, life takes a big turn when Gabriel breaks his leg.  After a rocky few weeks, he is on the road to recovery and I am once again a college student.

Sometime during the first couple of weeks of my new school commute, I bike past a property that we had had our eyes on, and notice a “For Sale” sign.  The next couple of months involve sealed bids, working with cash buyers, and lots of holding our breath.  Finally, in November, we find out that our cash buyer got the house, which meant that, eventually, we would be buying the house!

The semester ends with surgery to remove the pins from Gabriel’s leg and lots of house limbo.

2016 — Spring Semester
We do not own the house because we’re waiting for the original owner/seller to close with our cash buyer so we can buy the house in a more traditional way from the cash buyer (confused yet?).  In the meantime, we are anxious because we cannot get a clear answer on whether a) the heat is running or b) the house was winterized to protect against pipes freezing, and we’re worried about additional costs we may incur if the pipes burst and there is damage.  (The house was not winterized, but the heat was on — no burst pipes for us.)

The first sale finally happens, allowing us to proceed with buying the house in a second sale.  We take a lot of measurements, especially of the kitchen, and begin to plan our remodel / renovations.  For three months, we work as general contractors for the remodel, coordinating many moving pieces.  Finally, it is [mostly] ready, and we move in June.

2016 — Fall Semester
I’m expecting smooth sailing.  I have two semesters under my belt, including the whole home buying-renovating-moving thing.  Not so fast!  I may be used to MY routine, but Gabriel is starting a whole new school, and the transition is not easy.

There is also a lot of work going on outside the house, including a lead-remediation ordeal that it appears I never wrote about and Matthew’s work installing a big ol’ fence, plus general planning and scheming for the garden.

2017 — Spring Semester
I completed my practicum this semester, which required quite a bit of juggling my usual school, home life, paid work balance.  With the garden at our own house for the first time, this was also the first semester that I didn’t have the benefit of the “commuter garden Saturday.”  For the previous three semesters, nearly every Saturday from March through November, Matthew and Gabriel would head to my MIL’s for a day of gardening, leaving me with a nice, quiet house where I could do homework AND catch up on housework.  Losing that was a big deal.  Ultimately, I cut the hours of my paid job to make everything fit.

2017 — Fall Semester
Course-load and homework-wise, this was my most challenging semester yet.  Things were going well, but the stress finally caught up to me in mid-October, when the ear infection from hell totally knocked me on my ass.  I managed to keep swimming (figuratively, because actually swimming would be not so great for the ear issue) and made it to the end of the semester, but I only made it one week into winter break before I started having issues with my ear again.

2018 — Spring Semester
So here I am, with ear issues not fully resolved.  SIGH.  On a positive note, I’ll be carrying my lightest course-load yet this semester: one in-person class and one online class.  Things will be a bit intense until I complete and submit my dietetic internship application (mid-February at the latest; sooner if I can manage).  Then I sit and wait until match day, April 8, when I will learn my fate.

For those of you not in the field, the process of getting a dietetic internship is very competitive — nationwide, there are only spots for about half of the applicants.  You must complete a dietetic internship to be eligible to become a registered dietitian.  The application and matching process for the internship is similar to what medical students do to find a residency.  Unlike a medical residency, in almost all dietetic internships, you pay tuition for the privilege.

Lest things get boring, Matthew and I signed up to perform in our first aerial student showcase, which is in early April.  While we have built a lot of strength in the last three years, and know a decent number of tricks, the choreography and artistic aspect of performing is completely new to us, so we have a lot of work to do!