Thursday, 31 October 2013

Two Thirds Burnout

With four weeks (and one day) left to the semester, I'm just exhausted. I didn't hit this wall first semester of last year, I just kind of plowed right through. With working and dealing with the house and insurance stuff, I'm just stretched so, so thin this time around. I'm hoping next semester will be easier, particularly since I'll have a week off in the middle.

On the plus side, my big projects are out of the way. Now it's just a few labs, three tests, and then into exams.

So far, so good on the grades front. My grades are consistently above 90%, so I'm good so far. Haven't gotten any grades back in History of Bio yet, though, even though my midterm was over two weeks ago. Not sure how that went, I'm anticipating mid-80s because I wasn't pleased with my performance on it. Really depends on the prof, though, I'm not entirely positive what he was looking for.

Right now, I really just want to curl up in a chair and sleep for a week. It's been hard to sleep for a while so I'm really just not well-rested right now. I'm physically and mentally exhausted and ready to just have this semester over with.

On the plus side, we expect to be home next week, so it'll be just over 6 weeks that we'll have been out of the house. It's looking great, though. Everything nicely repainted and clean and shiny.

On the not so great side, the house being unattended with broken windows has lead to some new inhabitants. Small, furry inhabitants who would not be there if we were home with the cats. I expect they will be evicted before we get back.

We took the kids out trick or treating this evening. My parents only have a couple neighbours within walking distance and because we're quite a ways into the country, there aren't many kids and everyone buys way too much candy. They gave the kids cans of pop and full sized chocolate bars and handfuls of bags of chips... Five houses and the kids half-filled one of those large cloth grocery bags between them. They thought it was really cool. I was just glad we didn't have to take the car into town or something.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Thrice around

My daughter turns three on Monday. Because of my husband's work schedule, we're celebrating her birthday tomorrow. 

I am incredibly cheap in some ways and figured that she is three (almost) and doesn't really care where her cake comes from, so I made her one. Boxed cake mix and (home made) buttercream icing. I had to buy the black gel though and it bugs me. 

I piped 'happy birthday' and her name on to the left and a little '3' in the bottom right corner. Not perfect, but I'm happy with it. Except my edging is crooked. I did it freehand and I am obviously an amateur at this, but I hate not doing things just right. 

My son's birthday in January, though, I think I'll have to buy him a cake. Hello Kitty is the limit of my ability. I don't think I could do hot wheels. 

I'm glad to have a bit of downtime this weekend. Not a ton, but just enough that I could take my son shopping for a present for his sister, and I could bake a cake. Just mom stuff. It's such normal stuff to do that it becomes special in this crazy couple of months we're having. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

What a week!

This has been a hell of a week.

Two high-content midterms, plus a difficult assignment, plus exec stuff, plus house stuff, plus work stuff, and I'm just completely spent.

Oh, plus I had a field trip for my animal diversity class which required that I get up before even my birds had considered waking up.

This was my hardest week this semester - every semester has to have one, I think - and now it is over and tonight I am doing nothing school-related.

I dropped the ball on personal stuff this week because everything I had pretty much was going to school and house stuff. I did, however, get the paint colours picked for the house.


The landlord's guys have finished with the new insulation and hanging the gyprock, plus have gotten the first coat of mud on. They'll be starting the painting in the rest of the house this weekend, but they can't do my son's room until the seamfilling is done. Still, it isn't too far off now. The house doesn't smell like smoke, which is an improvement, and my son's room isn't a burnt out husk. It's warmer, with the new insulation, and my daughter's room is about to have new flooring put in (yay! no carpet!)

When we get home, it's going to be like a new house. Which is awesome. I'm so excited to go home. It's been over a month and I just want to get back to my own space, my own life.

On the plus side, I did get 98.3% on my physics midterm and 100% on my organic chemistry midterm. Overall, not too bad. I wrote one midterm this week that I am REALLY not happy about and I'll honestly be surprised if I get 80% on it. The test was 20 questions and is worth 20% of our mark which I really think is ridiculous, but it doesn't really matter what I think.

I knew that MCAT studying would pay off, though. Physics, cell, and organic chemistry are all coming very easily to me.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Finally!

After weeks of waiting, the repairs to our house started on Thursday. Our house is empty except for the stuff the repair guys need - everything we own is in a warehouse owned by the restoration company.

Insurance is lovely to have, but man was th red tape driving me nuts! At least it is getting done.

We stopped by today and the guys doing the repairs are going to be working every day straight until it is done. They expect two and a half to three weeks.

My landlord is also doing some improvements/upgrades while they're in there - may as well do it while they're in there, eh?

They're semi-finishing the unfinished part of the basement. Adding drywall and upgrading the insulation should make a big difference in our heating costs.

The carpet is being taken out of my daughter's room they're going to put in the same flooring we have elsewhere.

Plus I get to pick paint colours, which is nice. We get the whole house painted to our liking - which we were doing ourselves gradually anyway - so that's a bonus.

Honestly, this whole process is frustrating and tiring and we all just really want to go home. Soon, fortunately, we can actually do that.

Back to studying. Life marches on even in the face of renovations.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Evening off

Got a test back today; 91%. Nice to know I've still got it, though that is lower than I like. That prof will drop your lowest test mark if your exam is higher, though, so I'll be fine so long as I do better on the next two and the exam.

Wrote a midterm today that I really do not feel comfortable with at all, though. I had to skip a question that was worth two points because I ran out of time, and that is very, very unlike me.

I'm just kind of 'off' this week. Being away from home is really starting to get to me. The financial pressures and the extra hours every week of driving are wearing on me a lot. I've finally gotten the house stuff started, though. Saturday will be four weeks since the fire and the repairs are going to start tomorrow. Finally.

We will hopefully be home the second week of November. Not before my daughter's birthday as I'd hoped, but still, we'll be home within the month. Most likely. These things can stretch on, though.

I have midterms in cell and animal diversity next week, so I have plenty to keep me busy with there. Back to studying, I guess. Wish my head would stop pounding, though. I hate headaches.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Give me money!

That's what I feel like I am saying with this bursary application. It's stressing me out and I'm actually thinking of going to the registrar's office and asking to cancel my application.

Three of the four bursaries I applied for are based on financial need. The application requires that you state how you fit the criteria for the bursary and I feel like what I wrote may be just too whiny, or too much like I'm looking for pity, when I'm really not.

Essentially, I'm going to the university, hat in hand, and asking the scholarships and awards committee to decide that I'm deserving enough to be gifted with funds that someone else might really need too.

Honestly, I'd rather just earn scholarships with my grades, because then it's for something I did, not as a result of my circumstances. The application required submitting a financial need form which meant writing out, in detail, all of our expenses and income. I come from a family where you do not talk about money. It just isn't done. I talk about it more here than I typically would with anyone besides my husband or a very close friend. Writing it all down for the awards committee and for the people involved in each organization/group's decision-making to look at makes me feel incredibly, incredibly uncomfortable.

I'd really rather just not ask, and request the form back. Having serious second thoughts here. How many people are going to look at that financial need form? How many are going to see my potentially too saccharine short essay? Ugh.

The fourth bursary I'm eligible for is based on my day's military service. That one doesn't make me feel as exposed, particularly since it is based on something my dad did - which our whole family experienced - not just something that *is* and it does not require a financial need form.

In the end, I'll be absolutely honoured if I am chosen to receive any of the bursaries. I just wish it didn't require opening up so much of my life to the committees.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Long Weekend

Much as I needed to recharge a bit, a day off sans kids is more what I was thinking.

I adore them, they are lovely children but my gods if they don't stop picking at each other I'm going to lose it on them at some point.

This is the problem when you have more than one kid. They annoy each other, but they are each others' favourite playmate so separating them results in whining too. You can't win. Either way, you've got them bickering over piddly little things or arguing that they want to play together. Then they get into stuff when they are playing nicely together.

It's like herding cats.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the long weekend next month. I get Remembrance Day off, of course, but my school gives us the next day off too. Hopefully, hopefully, we'll be back home by then.

I'm taking this evening to study since I have a midterm on Wednesday. Have to turn in my bursary application tomorrow as well. It's interesting how few bursaries I'm actually eligible for. The few that take academic performance into account are for other faculties, other majors, or single moms. As a married mom in second year Biology, I only fit the criteria for four bursaries, so I'm applying for all of them. None take my academic performance into account.

One of the downsides of a small school: very little in the way of academic awards. I'm a high performing student, but it does me no good. I expect this will be a problem come application time. A lot of the big universities have dozens and dozens of awards (small and large) based on academic performance. Besides entrance scholarships, my university has almost none. It means my 'awards' section is going to be very thin come application time, not for lack of merit, but just because I go to a small school with few awards for science students (particularly those who did not attend a local high school - a criterion that excludes me from half a dozen awards.) The few awards we do have are very small, compared to those at schools like U of T, and I'm sure an AdCom won't consider them highly.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Thankful

What with it being Thanksgiving tomorrow, it seems appropriate to mention what I am thankful for. 

I'm thankful that my family - including the furred and feathered members - is safe after a very close call. 

I'm thankful we had a safe place to go, and insurance that would have paid for one if we didn't. 

I'm thankful my husband has enough work that it is possible for him to stay home. Barely, and it means sacrifices, but he's here, not one idiot away from being blown up or gassed to death thousands of kilometers from home.

I'm thankful that we live on a beautiful island, surrounded by people who go out of their ways to help others. Our neighbours took time out of their evenings to help us when we were in a rough spot, bringing us coffee and helping us board up windows. 

I'm thankful that the fact that we're honest and hardworking means that even after tens of thousands of dollars in damage were done to his house, our landlord wants us back and is giving us a lot of options with the repairs so we can make the house even nicer than it was.

I'm thankful I live in a country where I, as a woman, can pursue my education as far as I choose. Where having a family doesn't mean my future involves only diapers and dishes but is as bright as I choose to make it. 

I'm thankful that I have a husband who supports me in all things and does not feel challenged by my career driven nature but encourages me in it. 

I'm thankful to have met, and that I continue to meet, many wonderful people whose paths cross mine sometimes in the oddest ways. 

We have a lot to be thankful for, and these are items I reflect on a lot, not just with it almost being Thanksgiving. I am incredibly, incredibly lucky for what we have and I try not to dwell on what we don't have, because regardless of what struggles we may face, we really do have it pretty good. 

Next Thanksgiving, I will have just applied to med school, and I will have a whole different set of anxieties; the stresses of these past few weeks will seem long past and the stresses of third year all the more present. 

That's how life goes, though. Time moves on and old hurts fade and new challenges arise. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians. I hope you have many things to be thankful for as well.






Saturday, 12 October 2013

Midterm

Six weeks into term, seven to go. It feels like it has just started. I have so much to do, so the long weekend is just what I needed.

We're all rather miserable right now, which is not normal for my family. While we have our moments, like any family does, we're generally pretty happy and easygoing. But we all just want to go home. Tonight is three weeks since the fire and the repairs haven't even started because my landlord's adjustor has been so, so slow (much to the chagrin of my adjustor.) And as of Friday, my landlord decided to have his construction company do the repairs.

They aren't certified in smoke restoration (as the company my adjustor was going to hire is) and my landlord, nice guy though he generally is, does not have a reputation for putting money into his properties and there's a very good reason for that. It's not unsafe (mostly) just... done as cheaply as possible. Which, when you've been ripped off by bad tenants many times, is understandable. Still, we're the ones who are going to be living in it and we really want it done properly - not that they can't, but I just somewhat doubt his company has the same sorts of experience as the restorers. But it is his house and it is entirely his right to decide what happens to it.

So we're considering just renting another place and terminating our tenancy at the end of the repairs (we wouldn't leave him up the creek by terminating before he could rent it out.) It would mean paying rent for two places at once, but it would at least get us into a place we could settle into long before we'd have otherwise been able to go home, and it gives us the option of finding something in town.

We discussed it with our son since he's old enough to have his opinion heard (doesn't mean it influences our choices, but we take it into account if reasonable) and he really just wants to go back home.

Our house with the big yard and the paintball arenas that act as an extension of it, the woods where we spend so many hours, the neighbours we consider to be much like family. We've lived there for two and a half years now; the longest my husband and I have spent in one place. It's home.

And we want to go back too, because it is home and we belong there.

I bet when I have to go away to med school, we're all going to feel uneven while we're gone. If we are all feeling so wrong just because we're not in our house, how are we going to feel when we're not in our province, away from the ocean?

Friday, 11 October 2013

Lovely Hope

Kasia (Kasiunut), another mom working towards getting into med school, whose blog is linked over to the right, and whose store I asked her permission to link to can be found here, is incredibly sweet and she sent me a present. My husband was at our home on Wednesday and it turns out it was delivered there even though we have a mail redirect on.

I absolutely love it. 

Shiny things are probably the only things about which I get super girly. I've only taken it off to sleep since Wednesday.

I'm so, so very touched to have been given such an incredibly lovely gift. Hope is what keeps me going, after all, which is probably true for all of us who are doing this. Hope that we'll make our dreams come true, hope that we can play a part in changing and saving lives, hope that we can build secure, fulfilling futures for ourselves and our families. 

Given that it's been an emotionally rough week, this is even more perfect. I needed to have my hope renewed a bit, because it's sometimes hard to remember what this all is for, and Kasia's beautiful gift reminded me that I've got it in me and I just have to keep going. 

Because this will all be worth it. I have to hope that I will make it, and where hope goes, hard work follows. 



(Don't mind the messy hair - I'd just returned from lab. A pony tail is about as much as I 'do' my hair. Zero girl skills.)


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Less than optimal

I posted a huge - and I mean huge - rant and promptly took it down. It really has nothing to do with premed-ish stuff.


This is going to be an interesting week. Two big midterms (15% each) and to be honest, I've really barely studied. Orgo and physics. Two classes that normally have people quaking in their shoes but to be honest, nah. I'm good. I know the material already anyway. It's a matter only of applying what I know.

It has been hard to get much done lately. I really want to go home. My kids want to go home. We're all tired of climbing into beds that don't belong to us, and waking up to strange routines.

It's making it hard to keep up with my school routines. Of course I wouldn't go so far as to let an assignment slip (my physics assignment has been done for two days already, not due until Thursday, the day of the midterm) or something like that, but my extra studying, the stuff that puts me from pretty good to really good marks-wise just isn't really a priority.

Hell, I'm still just trying to find us a place to live. The repairs to our house haven't even started - paperwork, why else? - and won't until later this week, almost three weeks after the fire. Then it's going to be 4-6 weeks. Possibly longer.

I don't even like to go somewhere overnight. Not being in my home, in my own space for that long is really hard.

That said, the marks I have gotten back for things I've done since the fire are all really pretty good anyway. I've not really asked for anything besides a bit of flexibility with tutorials which my professors have been more than willing to grant. I have no intention of asking for leniency on anything; it's just not in my nature to request it.

Typically, I'm really good at dealing with stress. The fact that I have not devolved into a bubbling puddle of cortisol right now means I'm doing pretty good, though, all things considered.

Right now, I'm probably more stressed out than I have been in a couple of years. School is not helping; I really just need a break, some time to regroup, but I just don't have it because of school.

Going to just have to keep on rolling, though. Stuff to do, things to turn in. The world doesn't stop even if I wish it would for a day or two.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Annoyance: Conspicuous Charity


I have realized what it is that annoys me so much about all these premeds going out of their way to do impressive ECs that show how caring they are: I hate it when people use the situations of others to make themselves look better.

Like the rich kids who go to Africa and post tons of pictures of themselves with malnourished children to show how bad off the kids they are going to save were before they got there. Because their volunteering for a week totally saved those aid organizations more money than they spent to get there. These trips cost, what, at least 2-3k? How many vaccinations or dewormings or mosquito nets would that have bought? How many lives could they have ACTUALLY saved by working to help their local community and just sending money to aid orgs in Africa? The couple weeks they are there on their little voluntourism trip is not going to equal what they could have actually done by just sending that money. But it looks good on a CV, and you can't add tax receipts to your OMSAS application.

Or the people who go to the homeless shelter to feed the hungry one day a year and take fifty pictures of themselves with ladles to show how nice and selfless they are.

If you're doing something nice for other people just because it's a holiday or because you want people to perceive you as amazing and giving, you need to rethink your reasoning.

People who brag about how amazing and giving and caring they are annoy me. A lot.

How many of those people in the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving sneer at homeless people with addictions on the street? How many premeds would be volunteering if they didn't get a pat on the back from friends/adcom/community/whatever?

It's how you are when people aren't looking, when there's no Facebook or Twitter post about it, that is really telling. I know some people who truly are really giving people. Often you wouldn't know it since they don't talk about it or, if/when they do, it's just to communicate that there's a need to be filled and encourage others to help. My parents have been helping hands in the backgrounds of many lives, and refuse to let people acknowledge them. That is what I learned; it isn't actual charity if you're doing it to look good. You do the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

I have a gigantic rant related to this that I've opted not to post publicly, but suffice to say that one of those 'look how awesome I am!' people really pissed me off today.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Claims

I've so far spent over 20 hours at the house, sorting things and packing things up to clean here. I will be paid for my time, at least.

We're also getting paid for the extra commute. So far, just my time and that $0.25/km extra driving add up to hundreds of dollars. That is applied towards our (already low) deductible. We will not be paying anything out of pocket for this at least.

Right now, I'm going through and filling out the schedule of loss. So far, I've listed several thousand dollars of losses.

Damn, Lego is expensive. We bought very little of it. We actually buy our kids very few toys but by virtue of being the only grandkids, they are spoiled. Tons of Lego and Angry Birds sets - averaging about $60 each.

The reason I'm mentioning all of this is because this is why it's so important to have insurance.

At any given point, if you can't afford to replace every single item in your home - at full cost, not at sale prices since disasters don't necessarily happen when there are good sales on - and/or pay for weeks of additional living expenses, then you need insurance.

ONE room is so far over $3000 and I'm not even done. The food in the kitchen is going to run around $1000 because all of my spices and packaged goods and bulk goods have to be thrown out. Even though the kitchen is on the other side of the house (and another floor) from my son's room, EVERYTHING in it was coated with soot. This is what my gloves looked like after going through just one cupboard of items that was closed at the time of the fire:



None of the food that wasn't sealed in glass is salvageable. If it wasn't sealed or the packaging can't be washed and survive intact, the food gets tossed. Most of what I buy is in bulk, so that's everything except my unopened jars of preserves. Even the cans get chucked; it'll cost more to clean than replace.

If we were in a hotel, we'd be paying at the very least $100/night, which would make $1400 as of today, with weeks to go. Not including tax. Not including food.

Plus there's the tens of thousands of dollars the cleanup and repairs will cost.

Forgive me harping on it a bit, but SO many people I have talked to do not have tenant's insurance, say they can't afford it. Well, you can't afford not to have it. We would be completely ruined right now; even just the repairs to the house will be easily more than 6 months' income for us, and our landlord would have been able to come after *us* if we didn't have insurance. We could have so, so easily been completely ruined by this.

If you do not have insurance, buy it. Call your car insurance company; you may save more on your car insurance than you'll pay in tenant's insurance, meaning it can save you money. Ours costs $184 a year and that's because we carry extra coverage for some things (tenant improvements and jewellery) and pay extra for a lower deductible.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

One third in

I have a huge dislike of low-point tests or assignments being heavily weighted. I had a quiz last week worth 10% of my mark in animal diversity and it was out of 10. Each point on that quiz was worth 1% of my overall mark.

I had one test in cell this week but fortunately she will throw out your lowest test mark if you score higher on the exam (I do well on exams so I expect I may be able to take advantage of this.

That animal diversity quiz, I got 8.5/10. Overall a decent mark, but that means I have lost a non-recoverable 1.5% of my final mark. Those little losses add up and I am only a third of the way through the semester. I got a 90a% on my first lab quiz too (also out of 10) and so I am not liking this class a whole lot right now. Immense amount of material to know, very detailed tests.

The month is going by very fast and I have a large assignment in history to do. It's in pairs and my partner - my pre-vet friend who is as rabid about marks as I am - is doing some research now. I'm starting to write up the scene we have to act. It'll be fun. We present on the 30th so we still have about four weeks.

The semester has really gotten rolling. Time is flying by. Hard to believe it is October already - a third of the semester is gone. My daughter's birthday is on the 28th and I just find myself hoping we'll be home by then.

While this is stressful, I'm not finding myself *too* stressed out. I've had a few moments but overall I'm doing well. Just feeling tired because I'm pretty much constantly doing something. I usually had at lest a little downtime every day, but right now don't have that and it's getting to me a little.

On the plus side, the room we're staying in has gigantic windows looking east over the river. It means we wake up to positively gorgeous sights every morning and really, it's hard to feel too bad when the first thing you see that day is a fog-covered river surrounded by sun kissed golden fields.