Oh yeah summer adventures

Again so soon? It must be blasphemy.
It’s true, another blog post.

So today (I started writing this post yesterday, Friday) was the new incoming ND class’s first day in the gross lab. You may recall the first year NDs start classes a week before the rest of the school to get their groundings and orientation and such. A day or two ago a classmate reminded my class on our facebook group page that this would be happening and called for volunteers to sit outside the lab on their first day for moral and emotional support. Several people in my class had a really hard time dealing with gross lab the first several weeks and although some sought the help of the actual school counseling services, many suffered in silence because talking about the challenges somehow became taboo. Upper class students would talk about how awesome gross lab was and how rewarding, without actually touching on how students may struggle emotionally in integrating to the cadaver environment. Thus, this little project was born.

Although I didn’t personally struggle with dealing with our cadaver environment (some of you might recall me saying the biggest issue for me was not that these subjects were dead, but that they were larger naked older people, which honestly not many people are used to seeing!), but I could relate and am certainly sympathetic and desperately want to help the first years in any way that I can, despite feeling like I have limited knowledge (I’d at least be able to find them an answer somewhere if I didn’t know it myself).

So I got up at 6am on my last Friday of summer break to be outside the gross lab by 7:45am to offer tidbits of advice to anyone who needed it. There are sections of gross lab at 8am, 10am, and noon, each lasting two hours. The students and teachers were all very grateful for us being there, even if not all of the students needed to ask us anything. There were a couple we were able to give some personal advice to. We plan on being there the next couple weeks as much as we can because the students only met their cadavers today and won’t start actually dissecting until next week.

Anyway the point of this actually is I ended up staying for all three sections because the last section I ended up chatting away with our replacements about our summers. There were a lot of opportunities for my classmates over the summer. Some like me took the massage intensive. Others took different electives on campus. Some took the Bot Med Lab early. And others were able to go on a variety of fascinating trips. One of my classmates for the last section attended the Hydrotherapy German Spa Town Tour, where they learned about the roots of hydrotherapy, saw how hydrotherapy is very integrated into the lives of local Germans, and then this classmate had the opportunity to also visit France and Ireland. My other classmate took a field course to Appalachia and learned all about the local herbs and plants there. Other classmates’ trips I’ve tracked via facebook also included a botanical study trip to Italy with time on Elba, and two medical mission trips to Sri Lanka and Nicaragua. Other students went home or hiked around the area. Plenty to do.

But the real point is I had cool adventures this summer too, that I forgot to post about last time because I was so busy catching up on everything else. When I was telling my classmates about my adventures I wound up reminding myself not all of my pictures were even on facebook yet and oh yeah wouldn’t everyone on the blog like a little story.

So our summer adventures, featuring clans Hankins and Fry:
My mom and dad landed in town on Friday evening June 20th. June in the area is actually a very intermediate month. May is finally getting nice, but June gets weirdly rainy/foggy again before it breaks out into full summer mode in July and stays that way until the middle-end of September. So my parents’ adventures were still mired in a lot of typical moist weather, but we had a whirlwind of a trip.
In the six full days they were here we went on three different adventures.
All the pictures and videos I took are on my facebook, and you can see them with this link.

The morning after they landed, we got up SUPER bright and early to drive downtown to meet our cruise to take us up to the San Juan Islands to go whale watching on the Victoria Clipper. Special thanks to my dad for planning this whole trip by the way because they arrived the evening of the same day of my last final of spring quarter, and I missed the first three days of massage intensive (which started the week immediately following finals) for the other adventures that followed. I had zero energy or willpower to make any of my usual planning happen so it was a real relief for someone else to be in control after the most draining quarter of my life.
Dad booked us for the Whale Watching and Sea Life Search Day Trip, but what the description of the title or caption on the website doesn’t tell you is that half of your money’s worth on this trip is the cruise up to the islands. It was unbelievable. Word of advice, bring so many warm clothes, including hoods and gloves, if you are above the water, out early in the morning, flying through the sound with the chilly wind whipping your face. We got a little wind-burned and sun-burned staying on the top deck the whole way up there but JEEZ what a ride and what a view. I don’t think my pictures really did it justice. The aqua water of the sound whipping up in the motor, the icy mountains in the distance, the rugged shoreline, the little harbor towns…. it was basically on par with actually seeing the orcas …which is partly due to the fact due to conservation regulations you have to stay REALLY far back from the orcas which makes it not quite as thrilling to see as you might imagine. But still, finally seeing orcas in real life, breaking the surface of the water, traveling in their pods, bein’ all black and white…. especially against the gorgeous backdrop I first fell in love with back at good old Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (do you family members recall the show featured porpoises, not the typical bottle-nose dolphin, in what they described as a Pacific Northwest ampitheater? Little did we all know back then…)
There was a little bit of drama with the resident pod vs a transient pod that was passing through the same area. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and seemed to be able to tell apart one from the other and gave good commentary.
There was plenty to see on the long cruise ride up there. I don’t have a map with the exact route to post to you, but on google maps you can visually trace our route: We left from Port of Seattle Pier 69, made our way up through Puget Sound, passing Bainbridge Island, Whidbey Island (to our left)… then I think we must have gone up the Sarasota Passage because we sailed under Deception Pass, which has an impressive bridge, before we came out into more open water and must have sailed between San Juan Island and Lopez Island to get to Friday Harbor. It’s hard to believe but I think our 2.5 hour whale watching tour took us all the way around San Juan Island because I think we made a big circle.

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After the whale watching part we stopped into Friday Harbor and got to eat lunch and walk around town for a short while before it was time to get back on the clipper and hit a few more rock islands for our “sea life search” part, where we saw some seals, and tons of different types of birds. Being really exhausted, we spent the ride back below deck with some refreshments and just dozed and talked with each other.

So we came home and had Sunday to recover and I went to the first day of massage class (to get important announcements and clearance for the next few days, even though I emailed plenty of the administrators ahead of time and got clearance).

Tuesday we geared up for the second planned adventure, an overnight trip to Cannon Beach in Oregon, of many-a-film fame, namely including The Goonies and Twilight. We drove out of Seattle south on I-5 and headed west to Aberdeen before turning south again on 101 and took the bridge across the mouth of the Columbia River to pass by Astoria (where the Goonies is set and the Goonie house still stands, but we didn’t go see it) to continue down 101 past Seaside to Cannon Beach.

We got our stuff settled into our hotel room at the Hallmark Resort, which is the hotel that is closest to Haystack Rock. Dad booked us an ocean-front suite (why not splurge if it’s just for the one night we all agreed), so we had a balcony that had a magnificent view of Haystack Rock right outside our window. See the picture. After we dropped off our stuff in the room, we decided to go exploring on the beach, just a little, just to walk around and get out to Haystack at low tide so we could see the tide pools. Long story short we accidentally ended up walking about 6 miles because distances are deceiving on the beach. We were just walking and we saw these other set of rocks in the distance and told ourselves “ah we’ll just go out to these and then we’ll come back”. Turns out it was really far. Luckily we brought our cameras so we got tons of great beach and tide pool pictures, but we were pretty sore after.

We had dinner at a restaurant in town which was ok but sadly nothing to brag about for the price, but we had a good time there anyway. We rented the movie “9” from the front desk at the hotel because my parents hadn’t seen it (James and I love it), and we got cozy in our room as darkness fell and fires and porchlights sparked up all across the beach. With the sound of the relentless surf in the background (we had to almost totally close the porch door to hear the movie better), it was a comfy evening.
The next morning we had a nice breakfast at one of the town restaurants (despite the waiter spilling coffee all over my jacket sleeve), and spent the afternoon walking around the main street looking at all the shops. We bought various interesting flavors of saltwater taffy from a candy shop, daddy bought us some postcards to remember the trip, I was heavily tempted by some commemorative Christmas ornaments and lighthouse stuff I resisted buying, and other fun stuff before we headed back to the car.

It was decided as we piled in that since we’re here we really do have enough time to pop up to Ecola State Park (just a couple miles north) and walk around a little longer, since that’s actually where a lot of the movie stuff was filmed, especially Indian Beach.
Here are some websites that do comparison shots of the filming locations. See if you can spot them in my pictures on Facebook.
http://moniqueklein.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-favorite-movie-goonies.html
http://www.filminamerica.com/Movies/TheGoonies/
http://www.locationshub.com/blog/2014/7/29/3-movies-you-might-not-know-were-filmed-at-cannon-beach

It was here at Indian Beach that James really got into exploring, so at low tide he was hopping rocks out to the water and climbing all over everything. After great hesitation and with much urging from him, and because there’s a little Gryffindor in me somewhere, I let him lead me out. Eventually he wanted to climb this rock face/steep hill at the south end of the beach, and I followed after watching he could do it successfully. At the top of this hill is the best view of the beach, hands down. I took a ton of pictures up there and one panoramic video. I’ve uploaded that video to Facebook as well.

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After that we were all very tired and still had hours to drive home so the rest of the day in the car was pretty quiet.

James couldn’t get any more time off work, so the last adventure was taken without him, just me and my parents on a bus tour around Mt. Rainier. Early in the morning on that Thursday, the morning after we got back from Cannon Beach, we drove down to a hotel in Tukwila where we’d meet the bus for our tour. I was still tired and dehydrated from the day before, and I wasn’t able to eat much by way of breakfast, so there was a lot of real fear in the morning that I’d be in for a doozy of a day being sick. Mom brought her trusty motion-sickness patches for all of us, which helped, and I guess I felt better later in the day after I woke up some more, but it was a rough start for a while.
After a lot of confusion and some shuffling around (they decided to change busses), and after driving to a couple other hotels in the area to pick up the rest of the passengers, we were off.

I don’t remember the exact route but referencing Google Maps I can see we headed south. We stopped at a Safeway (grocery store) (I think it was in Puyallup) to stock up on snacks for the day (the bus driver stocked a cooler of water bottles for all of us) before heading further south through probably Graham and Eatonville or La Grande. We made a stop at a viewing point for Alder Dam and passed by Alder Lake (very pretty) as we wound ourselves into Mt. Rainier National Park. It was an intermittently rainy day which never really cleared up so I’ll tell you now we never got to see the peak of Mt. Rainier, but it was excellently moody all day. If only there could have been a safe fire in the bus and cushy armchairs and warm drinks… but at least we brought warm jackets/raincoats.

We drove along National Park Highway to make a stop at the entrance to the park and our tour guide explained how the architecture of the buildings there became the classic structure we think about in national parks like Yosemite, but I can’t remember the exact phrase he used for its type.
We made a picture stop of very pretty Christine Falls. If you visit the Hankins house you’ll see a framed photo mom took of it. I took a bunch of pictures and a video there too.

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The top point of our day’s ride was lunch at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. We were up past the snow line so even though it was the end of June we found ourselves in a bit of a winter wonderland. We only had so much time to pal around at the top, so we didn’t end up crossing the enormous parking lot to go to the Paradise Inn, which was supposed to boast very ornate interiors, but we ate some surprisingly good pizza (and a hefty portion despite the high price) and chili dog and looked around the museum and gift shop. I learned that living in Bothell we are far outside the danger zone if Mt. Rainier (a “dormant” but technically geologically active volcano) ever decided to erupt.

Before I move on I’d like to take a second for all of you to find Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center on google maps and zoom out slightly. Until just now I’d been too far zoomed in tracking our route to realize just how close to the summit we were at that point. Unfortunately, despite a brief hope that an uptick in the wind would blow all the fog away, the fog actually blew in with a vengeance by the time we were back on the bus. I can only imagine the view we would have gotten had the day been clear. *le sigh*

After piling back in the bus, we began our descent along Stevens Canyon Road, which began the scarier part of the day’s journey. We stopped a short way down the mountain (I can’t find exactly where on the map) for another photo-op along a cliff down into a deep valley. The tour guide told us it was here if the day was clear we’d have a truly excellent view of the peak, but the clouds never blew out of the way enough, so we continued on.

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It was this part of the journey that makes me hesitant to repeat this trip because I was so terrified. We drove right along the cliff edge that dropped into steep ravines and valleys for what seemed like an eternity and although there were some trees blocking the way in parts to make it not so stark, it was still hard for me to look out the window (and I had the window seat on the cliff-edge side, so it felt like I was practically already dangling off the cliff). I have promised James we’d repeat this trip so he could see all this stuff, but I’ll really have to call on that Gryffindor to make it happen.
It must have been Box Canyon where we stopped for another photo-op and walk-around. I have two videos of Williwakas Creek passing under the bridge on the Wonderland Trail inside Box Canyon, probably a hundred feet below. I was terrified I’d drop my phone so I tried not to lean too far over. The mist was really heavy in this area and while it was very nice to walk around, I began to wish we could get warmer. We’d also been up and active for many hours at this point.

Luckily our trip was almost over and as our tour guide had been building us up to all day, we were almost to the place where we’d be rewarded with huckleberry ice cream, the best he claimed could be found anywhere. We basically napped from Box Canyon until we got to Wapiti Woolies for the ice cream, because I know we were all tired but I tracked it on the map and we went a really long way. We must have connected with Highway 123 where Stevens Canyon Road ended north of the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center and taken 123 (which is apparently closed in the winters) north around the east side of the mountain until we hooked up with Highway 410 and continued north.
He wasn’t lying about the ice cream. I’d never had huckleberry ice cream before, but I’ve tried to buy it once from the store after we got home and the one at the store was not even in the ballpark of being as good. This stuff was great. It was all purple and the ice cream was totally smooth and creamy. I should have taken a picture of it, dang.
I guess we took 410 back into Puyallup and made our way back to our hotels from there, then dad drove us in the rental car all the way back to our house.

Mom and dad’s flight left in the afternoon of the very next day and although we were all very tired, I still can’t believe the trip felt so short. Maybe next time we can just hang out more and take it a little easier now that we’ve done some of the major sight-seeing.

The second part of our summer adventures were more low-key with Holly and Dan’s visit at the beginning of September. We watched a movie every night, and our outings were more geared for sprucing up the house. They bought us a set of Mexican Train Dominoes so we would have something around the house to play as a group when company came. Even James, who hates table games, enjoyed it so yay another thing we can do together. Thank you Holly and Dan.

I didn’t write down what we did day by day, but it included:
A day out to the Seattle Aquarium. James and I had been putting off going until we had some kind of company, so now we finally got to go. Although I wonder if anything will ever beat Shedd Aquarium in my eyes, the Seattle Aquarium had plenty to look at. I have posted those pictures to Facebook as well. The aquarium uses water from the sound in all of their exhibits, so in some areas, like the domed/underwater viewing area, kelp forests can grow entirely on their own in some years without the worker intentionally planting them there. I also learned in this trip that halibut are huge fish. They also swim sideways, big and flat.
There’s an extensive tide pool exhibit and many individual aquariums of different types of fish further back in the building. They also have fur seals and river otters. The seals have a little training show area outside on the dock where you can see them do a couple tricks.
I don’t recall ever having seen an octopus in an aquarium before, and there were two here. They were pretty cool. Because the only hard part about them is their beak, they would technically be capable of squeezing themselves through a 3-inch hole.

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Another day we went to Pike Place and walked around half the day. The way we wound around following Holly and Dan they led us to several hallways that were further deep and up than James and I had previously explored, so it was fun seeing new shops we hadn’t caught before. I have plans to go back and buy a steampunk watch/locket necklace we saw that was totally cool. There was also an ocarina seller who would include a pamphlet of how to play the various songs from Zelda on these little ocarinas, but at $60 I passed for now.
At one of the vendors Holly convinced me to get a device that helps you make perfect sock buns. On my hair it’s much harder than the vendor made it look, but I’m practicing. I made it work perfectly once so far, but I was only using half my hair. It works a little better if I already have my hair secured in a ponytail then use the thing (really similar to something that was available in the 90s by the way). I see it being used on lazy days in the school year to keep my long hair off my neck and out of the way.
We stopped back into my favorite spice and tea shop and I finally purchased some black peach tea. Everyone insists on peach tea being herbal and I haven’t been able to find black anywhere else. Holly and Dan bought me a new tea container for it, which makes me very happy because I have an unnatural love for canisters. Maybe I was an apothecary in an alternate universe.

Much of the rest of the trip involved random shopping. Holly and Dan took us to Costco, since we don’t have our own membership, but I couldn’t find a cushy kitchen mat that I wanted, but we did find a giant canister of a favorite powdered cappucino, a big bag of bacon bits, and some new runner rugs for the entry hall and coming into the house from the garage. In a stop at Home Depot James got an early birthday present of an electric hedge trimmer so we can tame the blackberries in the backyard. I showed Holly I finally have a good Goodwill in my life (she was appalled by the one in Edwardsville and wondered why I never wanted to go there for stuff) and we bought a nice tablecloth for the kitchen table with its own matching runner for the counter, and a nice placemat for the entry table. We also went to Bed Bath and Beyond where I got an early birthday present of a smaller crockpot than the one we currently have, perfect for a meal just for two people. It’s also one of those that can hook up to others so in the future I can entertain with lots of food at once with crock pots of different sizes.

A big thank you to my parents for taking us on adventures James and I just couldn’t make ourselves go on, on our own, and a big thank you to Holly and Dan for helping us outfit the house with more accouterments of comfy living. An excellent time was had on both counts.
And now my next adventure begins. The closer we get to school, and the more I see my classmates freaking out about their courseload and already trying to get ahead on assignments, the more grateful I am that I’ve switched to the five-year track. Zero regrets.

Entering Year Two

It is ridiculously unreal to me that I am about to start my second year at Bastyr. An entire year went by. And I made it. One way or another, I passed all of my first year classes.
I’d like to emphasize that “one way or another”. 12.5 credits in the summer, 16.5 in the fall, 24.5 in the winter, and 26 in the spring. Several times I got between 55 and 69% in a class and qualified to take the remediation exam, which had to be passed with 75% as a cumulative exam over the whole course in question. Only one time, in the spring, did I fail to pass the remediation exam and got to retake the section of the class, the biochemistry portion of Endocrinology, in a directed study that met 3 times plus the cumulative exam and passed this time with an 88.5% on the final.
It’s been a rough road. We moved twice in a year, once across the country and away from everything familiar, then from that rented townhome sooner than expected into a house of our very own. We have lived in this house just over 8 months now (it was 8 months on the 19th). So much regarding the house has been accomplished and has happened in that amount of time.

Because I’m the one writing, I’m going to try to list as many points as I can remember. If you don’t care, feel free to skip down past the list.

-I held a job at H&R Block, this time in Kirland at the Totem Lake office, for the third year running. I will be going back for this fourth season coming up.

-While holding that job, I was unpacking the house and handling those 24.5 credits.

-We researched, selected, and bought a fridge for the house, since it hadn’t come with one.

-We finally got to unpack so many wedding gifts that never had space before.

-I used my wages to purchase bedroom furniture that matched the set James had already started (our bed, his nightstand, and a chest of drawers)- a dresser and mirror and a matching nightstand for myself.

-(You’ll be able to tell what room had the highest priority in the house this year:) We painted the bonus room at the top of the stairs for our theater room. We painted it ourselves over the course of a weekend. We installed a pretty ceiling light. I helped James run our sound system through the walls and attic, carving out of the drywall, dealing with insulation, dealing with so many wires. I also helped James mount our projector to the ceiling by drilling the hole, running more wire, standing on scary ladders, holding up the heavy projector. James then had to readjust the image (it was upside-down). As luck would have it, the ugly white-wash the bank did on this place when they owned it is a lovely screen color. We taped off a 130″ screen on the wall and painted around it. We have yet to find a border with outside corners that we like to give the edges of the screen some flair. We also ordered fancy rods and hung curtains in the theater room.
I helped James hold boards steady as he cut them with a saw in the garage, then we hand-stained the squares with a nice very dark brown wood stain. The squares were mounted at corners of the theater room on bronze brackets we selected from Home Depot. James had specially drilled a hole in the square to drop the cable so these two platforms could hold our satellite speakers and drop their cable down to the plugs lower in the wall.

-Oh yeah I also used my H&R Block wages to buy a very large cushy brown microfiber sectional for the theater room. It can comfortably seat at least 5 people. The loveseat we had been using was moved to our bedroom. That’s right, we now have a couch in our bedroom.

-I took the massage intensive over this summer and purchased a table off Craigslist for practice. This table is also sitting in our master bedroom.

-I bought a large filing cabinet for my office off Craigslist so I could finally organize the house/life documents better. James and I bought a blue metallic spray paint at Home Depot and sprayed the fronts of the drawers (after removing the handle, etc). This was done inexpertly by me with his help in the backyard. I think they look just fine but there are a couple places he would love to go back over. (I also bought fun-colored folders so I could work on reorganizing all of our stuff) I still have James’s smaller black filing cabinet from college a- because it is my printer stand and b- it’s more accessible while sitting at my desk for the most-often-grabbed document types.

-We bought a TV off craigslist and a TV stand from Goodwill to put in the living room. We finally unpacked our gaming systems (my Wii, his N64) and have been able to play them. Thanks to my brothers and mom for sending me a couple of our shared childhood N64 games. I’ve been enjoying some Ocarina of Time over this summer break.

-There are curtain rods for the two double windows and the single window in our master bedroom, now equipped with blackout curtains and scarves. One of the doubles even has tiebacks so we can open the window in style. We still haven’t figured out what to do with the two daylight windows.

-Speaking of the daylight windows, a few months ago our neighbors complained that it was our daylight windows that melted the siding on their house. Apparently this has been a common complaint in several other neighborhoods built by our builder. The builder paid to have these side-melting windows replaced. A few weeks after they were replaced, one of them popped. Luckily they agreed to re-replace it for free. It’s possible it will never pop again and it was just the angle of the sun on that particular day (sun angles are weird here), or there might have been a microfracture in the window.

-Speaking of other windows, we had the balancers in our single windows replaced to that they are finally openable. The builders used balancers that were way to heavy so only a strongman could get them open and closed. Now they are no big deal yay!

-Erm, other windows- there is a rod and curtains in the guest room/library now too. Not exactly blackout curtains but they’re very pretty and block some light. That room doesn’t get as light-flooded as the others anyhow.

-PS the guest room is a library. Mom and Dad shipped the rest of my books from home to me so all my babies could be together. It was about 13 boxes of media mail. Thanks again Mom and Dad! James let me buy bookcases off craigslist to house them, and we needed more bookcases than even I thought I’d need. I now have the half-height solid oak bookcase from my old room, and two six-foot bookcases of standard width in the guest room. I also have a six-foot double-wide bookcase downstairs in my office for all of my school textbooks, binders, and books I get for free when the school library is discarding stuff. I also moved from the upstairs library most of my more science-y and anthropological titles so this is now my science library. Upstairs is the literature and recreational learning library. Because I’m marvelously materialistic, I still don’t have all the books I want. I have hardly any classic children’s books, and I’m still collecting the Lemony Snicket series. I’ve nearly given up trying to find anything past book 3 at Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul because I doubt most people collected past that. I’m about to order the next two from amazon.

-There is a small table in the entry hall now, and it’s on the to-do list to hang the mirror and candle sconces above it. It has a very pretty blue runner that Holly altered on her visit here to actually fit the width of the table.

-I bought a sun lounger on clearance at Home Depot because I wanted to be able to lounge outside in the backyard to occasionally get some sun. I’ve been able to use it once but I did buy it at the end of the season for a reason so it’ll get more use next year. I hope to buy a comfy cute pad for it too.

-The neighborhood ordered the fence lines cleared a couple months ago which resulted in the clear-cutting of the meadow behind our house. Luckily I came home from class early that day because I wasn’t feeling well and we weren’t doing much. I was able to intercept the workers in time to save our mature blackberry patch that serves as our fence. Now that the season is over I can say from experience we have too much patch so this winter we’re going to prune it way back and make it easier to actually get at more of the berries for next year. We’re also going to have to do something about the bugs. Despite the atrocious number of gargantuan spiders living in the patch, there were an unsightly number of very small bugs and worms on the berries later in the season so we’ll have to do something about that.

-We tore up an ugly dying bush in the front yard. We still haven’t decided exactly how to renovate the front landscape but that’s a project for next year. We want to border it off with stones to make it look nicer.
-Also a project for next year is renovating the front lawn in general. A mole wreaked havoc while the house was vacant and there are big dead patches along with nasty grass anyway. We need to dump a lot of extra dirt on the yard and re-seed it.

-OH, I have to tell you. James finally let me buy a Squatty Potty. This is one of those nerdy doctor things for me. I may not be head-over-heels about kombucha and kale like my classmates, but I love my Squatty Potty. Yes it’s just a plastic stool, but it tucks under your toilet and…. well I should let it speak for itself. Check out the stuff on the website. Let’s just say it can make life easier by getting you more in touch with natural living. Cheers to your intestinal health!
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There’s still a lot we’d like to accomplish on our future to-do list to give the house more personality, increase its resale value, and regain some of the amenities we lost by not having our parents nearby anymore. We hope to stay in this house through the end of school before deciding where to relocate afterward, but there is so much life that will happen between then we’re not thinking that far ahead yet.
-a bicycle for me so we can actually go on rides together and enjoy all the trails around here
-a portable firepit for the backyard
-a new grill and/or grill cover. Our grill was purchased used $20 at a garage sale, but there is entirely too much iron on my chicken now for me to want to use it all the time. And after two years in the hot direct sun our grill cover has officially torn and fallen to pieces. But because of the cost we’re unsure which repair direction to take.
-hanging the curtains we already have in my office
-painting and giving a backsplash to the kitchen walls
-buying two counter-height stools for our kitchen island as a comfy place to hang out while preparing food
-adding more shelving to the walk-in kitchen pantry and our master closets. We sold our over-the-door shoe rack to a classmate but now need to install another way to organize the shoes.
-we’re currently gathering estimates for what it would take to repaint the wood trim, front door and shutters on the exterior of the house. Since we’re officially into fall here in the PNW this project probably won’t get done until next summer.
-We might give a half-height paint border to the entryway bathroom. My desired future project includes getting rid of the nasty pedestal sink in there and replace it with a proper sink with a counter. If I want to apply makeup in the entry bathroom I have no place to put anything down. I think it’s a utilitarian nightmare.
-We’d love to put a ceiling fan in the master bedroom. Way low on the list though, especially since I’d have to pick a style of one first.

 

So in the 8 months we’ve been here we have heard nothing from our HOA. This is because there’s actually no one on the board. We’ve been supervised by a management company so far, but I finally was able to get in touch with them (thanks to a neighbor providing contact info, otherwise contact info is nowhere). I’ve been told we will all be getting a letter soon regarding the issue because an important decision is coming up the members need to pass a vote on, but also because if we don’t have a board elected by the end of the year our HOA will be turned over to the courts and a lawyer will be appointed to manage our affairs until a board can be selected. Resorting to having this lawyer will likely triple our dues, so they’re really calling for volunteers. Like I need another thing on my plate, but I think I’d be excited to help re-invigorate our neighborhood. I’ve been wondering about our HOA this whole time, and we hardly see our neighbors. No neighborhood picnics or block parties or anything. I’d at least have liked a welcome committee and to learn some basic rules, but now I would get a chance to be a part of that. So we’ll see.
The important decision that needs to be made is that the county wants to purchase lands owned by the HOA so the North Creek trail can actually come by/through our neighborhood, which would be pretty cool. They’re working on massive expansion of the trail which would really increase mobility in the area. I heard somewhere there might even be future plans to hook up the trail with Burke-Gilman, which runs around Lake Washington and practically into downtown.

Whew so much life is exhausting. I’ll just tell a bit about my school changes before finishing this post.
At the beginning of this summer, after I learned I would have to remediate the class of Endocrine Biochem, I made the decision to switch from the 4-year track in my ND program to the 5-year track. This was a really tough decision for a number of reasons. Firstly, the first two years of the program are really basic-science heavy, and on the 4YT at the end of the 2nd year you take your basic science boards- a standardized test regarding all your basic sciences that shows you are ready to enter the main clinical portion of your studies.
Only a couple years ago Bastyr revamped their ND curriculum, going for an integrated-based approach. As I might have explained before, this means that all our classes tie into each other. In the fall we had Integrated Musculoskeletal as our main science course. During the actual lecture the days were divided by topic on the syllabus. IMS met a couple times a week, but one day would be the anatomy lecture, one day would be the biochemistry lecture. In Physiology class, we’d discuss the mechanics of how muscles worked. In Gross Lab, we examined various gross muscle structures, their attachments and their actions. This also spilled into Clinical Skills lab, where the origin and insertion of the muscle determined the action of the muscle, and we learned to feel the muscle underneath the skin on each other and feel it contract.

Well this new integrated curriculum is still being fine-tuned. My class is only the second class to go through a year of it, and I know feedback from my class has already influenced the way this year’s incoming class will be taught. As a result, I don’t think they’ve quite gotten a grasp of the scheduling of the material. I know we’re in med school, but there’s just so much. Over the course of the year, many of my classmates “dropped down” to the 5-year track. Some switched before classes even began last year. The beauty of this program is the ability of everyone to take their own path. I cannot compare myself to my classmates. It’s not just unfair, it’s illogical. We have so many different things going on in the background of our lives that we are not comparable samples of our population.
On the five-year track, I will be splitting the traditional second year into two years. This is slightly different than people who switched before me, as they split the first two traditional years into three and more evenly distributed their classes. Because I’ve already passed all the first year classes, I won’t be in every class of either set of classmates. I will be taking half the credit load of the traditional track, and while for me this is a terrifying thing, it’s absolutely necessary and something I needed to mentally deal with. This fall I will be at 13 credits instead of 26.5. I will have time not only to work hours at H&R Block during tax season, I will be able to do some massage work on the side (less of it during tax season, but over a longer term than H&R Block).
I will also be able to take better control of my health. With my wages I will be able to join a gym with the facilities I want, and I will have more time than last year to pursue it. There aren’t public pools out here, and there are hardly membership ones either. There is one public outdoor pool in about a 20 mile radius, and after you pay your $4 admittance fee, they kick everyone out every 75 minutes to let in a new batch of people. I haven’t been there, but I read about it and don’t really think that’s worth my time or money. All the other pools are in apartment complexes or are indoor at places like LA Fitness, the YMCA, or sparse recreational facilities.

Ok anyway, this fall I will have the following classes (for you to wonder about):
Clinic Observation 2 (our second year of observing shifts at the teaching clinic in downtown Seattle)
Botanical Medicine Lab (basically Potions class, for real. A bunch of my classmates took it over the summer. I’ll try to post updates about all the cool stuff we’ll make in this class, but we learn about wildcrafting, and making tinctures and our own medicines)
Integrated Therapeutics (a combined botanical medicine and pharmacology class as far as I can tell)
Counseling Theories and Interventions lecture and lab (a continuation in our counseling branch of core classes)
Physical Medicine 3 (the syllabus only just got posted this morning, letting me know some things included in this section will be: postural assessment, Swedish massage, muscle spasm and trigger points, myofascial release, ROM (range of motion) testing, and orthotic fitting, among others. Previously, quarters of Phys Med taught us about hydrotherapy and electrotherapy.)
Naturopathic Theory and Practice 4 (continuation in a series where we get to tie in a bunch of aspects, especially history of our medicine, professionalism, and non-sciencey clinical aspects)
Homeopathy 1 (I will finally hear about it straight from the horse’s mouth. I’m SUPER skeptical about homeopathy, but willing to learn. I accept there are things we do not traditionally understand about medicine, the body, and the spirit. I’ll let you know how it works out. So far I’ve heard homeopathy is based on the concept that like cures like, so when a homeopathic remedy is concocted, an active substance is diluted down to a ratio where basically the active substance no longer exists and it’s basically working on memory. There are also documented “provings” where a client goes through a very particular set of symptoms that show a remedy does or doesn’t work. I don’t understand it, but I’ve heard many stories over the past year where homeopathy has helped where other methods failed.)

Classes I am not taking this year, which 4-year-trackers are but which are pushed into my 3rd of 5 years, include very clinically based courses:
Integrated Immunology, Pathology, and Infectious Disease (2 section of this class each quarter. Pretty self explanatory content)
Naturopathic Clinical Diagnosis
Clinical Diagnosis Lab (aka “Stab Lab”, where we learn the fine art of drawing blood from each other)
Physical Exam Diagnosis Lab
Integrated Case Studies

Unfortunately those classes are all tied together, so I can’t take one without the other.
I hope to add in a few electives with this wide-open schedule, but I haven’t settled on anything yet because for many electives the scheduling stinks, like 6pm classes when my last class ended at 3.

Is there anything I didn’t cover that you wanted to know? Comment on this post!

(James is still gainfully employed and loves his job, despite the company going through usual company/startup developmental changes. They even changed their name! They’re working on the 2nd generation of their product, but the first gen is available and they do have paying customers, adding new customers all the time. Check out the new website.)

Winter quarter 2014 and moving

James and I are both alive and well. By now I think I can finally understand that I don’t need to apologize for almost never posting because you guys understand I’m in med school. *whew* that’s a relief.
So in an effort to tell you anything, here are the most generalized points:

Fall quarter ended as well as it could. I ended up having to take the remediation exams for Integrated Musculoskeletal Biochem and first quarter Gross Anatomy Lab. I was only 2 points under passing for biochem, which was a little depressing, and a handful of points under for Gross Lab, but I ended up spending some more time with the material. I am sorry that I had to study while I was home over break and didn’t get to spend as much time with everyone, but it was worth it because I passed both remediation exams and converted by PC (partial competency) to AC (achieved competency). Recall, my classes are essentially pass/fail, so the focus is that you “only need to know enough for now” because we’ll see it more and more over the course of our classes. AC for Gross Lab is 72%, 70% for biochem. This is really still something I’m getting used to and almost feel like I need to justify to others, but you know what this is really just a different ballgame so you can’t relate it to the way you earn grades in undergrad.

In case you were really under a rock and I never got around to telling you this: back in mid-October we discovered per a notice posted outside our front door that our landlord was defaulting on our rental unit and it would be going to auction in March. This was a fortuitous double-edged sword because what we wanted from the beginning was a 6-month lease that would allow just enough time to get to know the area before we could decide where to buy a house. At the same time, it was slightly earlier than we’d been planning after we arrived because we would have liked a little more time to rebuild our down payment amount after all the moving expenses.
So we called up our real estate agent who helped us secure the rental and she and her husband (they’re a team :)) worked together to help us view a lot of houses and work on offers and all the mess of trying to buy a house. We lost out on our first two offers against investors and stupid-ness and were really sad about it, but I knew that I had to remember the only reason we could miss out on houses we thought would be so good is because we were being saved for something even better. And it was true. We definitely prayed about it and asked several of you to support us, and it was … sometime in early December when we came across a listing that had already been on the market at least 20 days. It was actually a house I’d looked at the listing for before but we had dismissed because earlier in our search we weren’t looking “so far out.” So at this point we were totally worried because houses move fast here. You guys don’t even know. I can hardly explain it to you. Even really crappy houses sell for ridiculous prices within a few days practically of going on the market.
So we got an email off to our agent Beth right away and she arranged a viewing as soon as possible. Of course James and I fell in love with it right away as soon as we saw. And you know, it was the fall in love, immediately comfortable feeling we just hadn’t quite gotten with the first two houses, even the 2nd one, which we were pretty agonized about losing. We knew immediately, finally, this one was the right one and we had to fight for it tooth and nail. And we really did. We found out we were in another competing offers situation and were invited to submit our “highest and best”, which was above what we originally wanted to (but we still came well under the appraisal, so that was ok). Still, we won out because we had the best offer, we were going to be owner occupants (as opposed to the investors, and this time, because the property was bank-owned, they actually wanted owner-occupants), and we’d be using Wells Fargo, which was a stipulation by the listing bank.
The in-between steps were a real headache of a mess. Not only was the selling bank out of state, but the escrow company was in a different state too. And they had the most atrocious, antiquated, hard-to-meet requirements. One document after another to provide to Wells Fargo, in some cases documents that didn’t previously exist because of the way James and I do online banking with CapitalOne360 (formerly ING). Let’s just say it was a freaking nightmare and we are so glad it’s over that’s all I’m gonna say about it so I don’t have to think about it anymore.
So then we had to actually get all geared up to move out of the rental, clean up, rent the UHaul, and move all our stuff to the new house. It’s actually pretty amazing I only had to remediate two exams by the end of fall quarter. We were looking at houses during all our free time from October-December, then all of December we were fighting with escrow and securing our loan, and the first 2-3 weeks of January we were moving out/in. We had the UHaul on a Sunday (because I had an all-day shift at H&R Block that Saturday and it was essentially my first shift), which happened to be the day the Seahawks won the qualifying game that put them in the Superbowl. Thankfully this move was easier than going from Collinsville to Kenmore in that not everything needed to be perfectly packed and secure and we didn’t have to play the world’s worst game of Tetris with our moving truck to make it all fit. To save on sanity we ended up using a 20 foot truck (we had 26 coming from IL) and making two trips, only taking the pre-packed boxes and the bulky large items like furniture. The husband of one of my new friends from school helped, which was good because I’m not so great at lifting large heavy things, being un-worked-out and low to the ground.
After the UHaul, we spent the next week or so making small trips with my Jeep, which can actually hold a ton of stuff (especially with the front passenger seat taken out because we were in the middle of replacing my seat heating elements). So that was pretty stressful too, at the end of January- James would stop by after work and do what he could, most of the time switching cars with me before I made my way down to Kirkland for my own work shifts, then stopping by again on the way home from H&R Block to pack up more stuff and unload it at the new house in north Bothell. Finally January was over and the rental was empty and cleaned and we handed the keys over on like the last day of the month. Since then, we’ve been slowly getting things tucked away and fixed up in the new house- one day, one box, one room, one appliance at a time. The house didn’t come with a fridge, so after a while agonizing about how, what kind, from where, and for how much to buy one, we got a nice black fridge from Sears Outlet. Of course, this means we lived out of James’s minifridge for 1-2 weeks, which was less than cool but now it’s a nice story. We also no longer had a washer and dryer since we had to sell our beloved unit back in Collinsville and finally no longer have to deal with the stackable apartment unit in the rental. We got a nice set from a used appliance place a couple weeks ago and it works great (and it’s essentially the same one we had to leave behind, which we loved). Also, James worked really hard to clean the nasty dishwasher when we moved in so now it works great too and yay we don’t have to buy a new one.
The first week of February I had a round of tests over our Integrated Cardiovascular and Immunology unit- biochem and anatomy/embryo/histo portions. I passed the anatomy one but was 4 points under for biochem so I’ll have to take that remediation exam in April before spring quarter starts. This is pretty darn good, seeing how little time I had to study all of January. The way this winter quarter works is we have a 3 course cycle of integrated systems classes. Cardio/Immune was January, Respiratory system is covered in February (the exams are Mon and Tues), then we’ll move on to Integrated Digestive system. In the meantime, gross lab is continuous so covers all 3 of these over the course of the quarter. We just took the midterm on Friday over cardio and part of respiratory and I PASSED. It was pretty awesome and I’m pretty proud of myself. I made sure I had off work the two evenings preceding the exam so I could really bear down on studying because I still hadn’t gotten to study much with trying to get the house settled. But I really bore down and studied hard and actually came out of the exam feeling cautiously optimistic, which has never happened before yet here. I’d like you to compare that my gross lab midterm grade last quarter was 59%, and 72 is passing (even though I did much better on the final last time my average was too low in the end so I had to take the remedial exam)…. well this time I got a 76.5 on my midterm! That’s so awesome. Now I know I won’t have to think the world is ending when I’m studying for the final because my average is starting so much higher. So now I just really need to study for the exams Monday and Tuesday. Luckily at least the anatomy portion was already partly covered on the gross lab exam.

UMMMM what else can I tell you about the house? I know a few of you have been asking about pictures and I haven’t finished uploading all the moving pictures I took but my dropbox folder has at least sufficient pictures to get you started https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gnlfub8rizu5zlk/h9UWqCV6Tc
We have a guest bedroom finally and even though it will only have an inflatable bed, you will have your own space when you visit us (with a guest bath just outside the door). Our projector now has about a 120″ image on the bare wall and we’re brainstorming ways to decorate the bonus room at the top of the stairs where we’ve set it up, possible painting to make the screen area brighter, making the other walls darker, hanging curtains, etc. James and I have separate rooms for our offices so I can focus on studying without dealing with his EDM (which I guess stands for electronic dance music). The kitchen has a walk-in pantry, I have a huge peninsula where I can finally spread out for baking/cooking (it is currently strewn with stuff for making Hankins cookies which I hope to finally accomplish after work tonight)… we’re browsing paint samples for hopefully late this spring/summer when we can paint the kitchen dark green. I wish I could replace the sink but that will wait a while. The mantle of the fireplace in the living room is as tall as I am (see the picture). It’s a gas fireplace so yay. Eventually we’ll put an actual TV down there and set up the gaming systems we have (I miss my Wii and would love to unwind with some N64 sometime). We have a small backyard that backs against a hill of blackberry bushes and meadow at the end of a walking trail. The yard is currently infested with moles but we look forward to making it look nice this spring/summer, along with giving new life to the very sad landscaping. We’ve met a couple of our neighbors and they seem pretty nice. The rental house across the street just got leased this past week or so and those neighbors are definitely interesting. More on them as we find out more, because we’re still not quite sure what’s going on but large muddy cars and young-adult boys are involved.
We just got the garage opener replaced this weekend after it stopped working Saturday (I believe James said it was a broken worm gear?), so that hurt our wallets sooner than we anticipated by several hundred dollars but we had planned on getting it serviced soon anyway cuz it was practically on its way out. I spent my first paycheck on getting the rest of the furniture that matches James’s pre-existing bedroom set. That will arrive sometime next week and I am SO excited to finally have a real nightstand and dresser after using makeshift stuff this whole time. We’re also working on trying to make the attic usable for storage. Apparently people out here use their garages for storage and don’t park their cars in them because “there usually isn’t bad weather”, and apparently don’t even use their attics. Our furnace is in the attic so that takes up most of the space and there aren’t boards laid down that make it usable for anything else, plus all the cross-beams are totally in the way and there isn’t flat clear space except between them. The good news is we have plenty of walk-in closets so only so much we would want to put up there anyway. There is a walk-in closet in our master bedroom as well as in our master bath, plus in the guest bedroom AND in the bonus room. Seriously.

For now I’m still on the 4 year track at school because I really want to at least get all the gross lab out of the way and not have to come back to it next year. The five year track does Gross Lab 1 in the fall of the first year, then Gross lab 2 in the winter of 2nd year, and 3 in spring of 2nd year.
James’s work is still going well. He continues to enjoy experimenting with stuff and actually getting paid for it where he used to experiment at home on all the servers we have. Some of those servers are slowly getting consolidated and turned off, which will eventually help make his office less hot 🙂 The upper floor is already significantly warmer than the ground floor (no basement, we have a crawlspace) because of the location of the furnace, so who knows how it will feel in the summer.
Erm that’s all I can think of for now. If I missed any details you’re dying to know about, ask!

Rambling, minutae, catching up

I know I know, I’m sorry I’m sorry. I really did start writing this over a week ago. Let me try again, and follow up soon. Oh PS, see what happens when too much time passes between writing? I tell stories twice. So I posted an update with this disclaimer and then I went and re-wrote the story to make it only one telling instead of two. You may have lost some unimportant details/whining.

Alright here we go again. I’ll get as far as I can this time, but mostly this post will likely focus on the end of summer quarter and scrapping up all the other nonimportant stuff as fast as I can. Other things that are still on my recapping to-do list (from last time and then some):

*Revival that I didn’t go to and why
*Still out of shape
*Pictures of the toe-stubbing
*Exam 3/barely comprehensive final is Wed 8/28, lab practical Tues 8/27
*Fall schedule was “posted tomorrow” last time
*The continuing education courses
*Meeting with my advisor and the financial aid advisor before registering for electives
*Going way back: Seafair weekend with James, pictures, and our great public transportation adventure
*The weather still sucks, off and on
*My “herb garden” and Lily
*In which I “forget how to food”
*Water heater
*Blackberries!
*Slugs!
*The creature in our shower
*I’m a nail polish addict
*Upcoming between-term-break vacation with Holly and the Roskoms
*Upcoming orientation

*Revival: From my limited understanding, as I did not attend, this weekend event was basically the second annual thing where Bastyr students and graduates and practicing NDs all got together on a faculty’s rural estate and got to glory in each other’s mutual quest to bring health and happiness to all we come in contact with. They called it “Restoring the Vis” (vis = life force). It was a couple hours away, you camped, and basically got to do a weekend of naturopathic weekend summer camp.
Did that sound cynical? I don’t necessarily mean it to be. I had a few classmates who went and had the time of their lives. I didn’t go, but just as every person is different and has different experiences, I had different reasons for having zero interest in attending this year.
First of all, it sounded like there were going to be quite a lot of people there, and really I don’t like doing things in large crowds, even if the crowd is going to be all huggy and loving. Wrockstock, for those of you who know about it and my attendance there, was different, but that may be because I was slightly different back then, or maybe the thing that united us was different. At this point in my naturopathic education, it simply didn’t sound like my cup of tea to go camping for a weekend in a place I didn’t know with a ton of people I either didn’t know/quite trust at all, or new classmates who I was still getting to know. I also am not really the touchy-feely type of naturopath. I’ve hardly begun my naturopathic journey, but I do not currently envision myself as one of… I don’t even know how to describe it, and I certainly don’t want to be condescending about a “type”… I simply want to differentiate that I do not quite fit in that social category, as similarly as someone simply does not enjoy reading (aka my husband) and would rather not spend his time sitting down with a book. In a year, I may feel more spiritually close to my profession and may get something out of the experience, if I decided to go alone, which I rarely do because I love my husband’s company and would rather share experiences with him. That’s just something I’ve passed on for now and will see about in the future.

*Still out of shape (related)
This one hardly deserves updating by itself, but I’m using it to talk about something related. James and I do run, but it’s like once every two weeks, and I do log it on my RunKeeper when we get back to the house. However, this isn’t about fat or running. I’d like to talk about how we finally got James’s bike fixed up a couple weeks ago. It’s a green Giant (lol) Boulder (someone else’s http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FLwbkw23nEU/T9f_EuTxtkI/AAAAAAAAAVQ/nvYj0GwPhsw/s400/Giant.jpg) and he rode it all.the.time he tells me, when he lived on campus at SIUe. For those of you not aware, the distance between the dorms and actual class buildings (along with the incline) is practically enough to ward off the Freshman 15. But especially toward the later years of class, and especially when he moved off campus, his poor bike got less and less used. He hadn’t ridden it the entire time we’ve been together, and by the time we were living together in Collinsville it was relegated to the garage, covered in cobwebs and dried grass, needing a new saddle (the seat had split), new helmet padding (it’s all crumbled away), new brake lines, and at the very least a cleaned up, if not replaced, chain. The poor thing also had the misfortune to have some rubber melted to it from his bike lock.
Well about two weeks ago, we took it down from the ceiling in our garage here in Kenmore, walked it down the bike shop around the corner, and deposited it for a tune-up over Labor Day weekend. The new brake lines alone make it look much healthier. We did have the chain replaced, but opted to buy another seat ourselves (although they did loosen it for us, since it seemed to have rusted into the socket) and give it our own good scrubbing.
When we got the bike back to our own garage and hung it up again on its hooks in the ceiling (which were there before we moved in), we started to scrub it to clear up some of the real grit that a simple wash doesn’t get. A rather long time into this process, the bike suddenly came crashing down from the ceiling on top of James. He got a small deep cut on his finger where he was in closest contact with the bike, but was otherwise unhurt. The chain fell off the bike, but we believe the bike itself is likewise otherwise unhurt. Due to this ridiculous mishap, we have since discovered that there appear to be no studs whatsoever in the garage. The hooks were anchored solely into drywall. It’s a miracle they lasted this long.
The bike is currently (as of the first writing, but no longer) occupying an unfortunate position at the front of the garage, precariously positioned on top of other stuff we barely have room for, and making it just that much more difficult to pull the car in. We’re hoping that now that our tripping is done, James and his grandpa will be able to find a solution to get the bike back out of the way, even if it means somehow creating our own studs, which we will of course have to run by our landlord.

Ok so previously here is where I initially told my (really long) double-tell about water heater and car washing. I’ve done my best to combine both versions of the story further along the post where the second-telling was.

Um ok I got distracted again
What I meant to talk about when I was mentioning James’s bike, besides the mishap of it falling and the joy that it may soon be rideable again: I lack a bike. Biking is a big thing here; I don’t know if I’ve talked about it before. There are trails (converted from train tracks, like back home) very near to our house, and if we used them we’d be able to go much farther than our jogging or walking excursions. It’d also be nice to go riding in these inbetween times of school (and especially nice weather) when I have free time during the day and James is at work. One of the biggest obstacles to me getting my own bike (besides the lack of somewhere to currently hang it in the garage) is to actually pick a bike. Since we’ve moved here and the desire to get one has been renewed (mom and I shared a bike back home, but rarely used it), I’ve been poring over options but predictably unable to choose.
Here is my predicament:
I predict that 90% of the time, this hypothetical bike will get used on the paved trails around the house/neighborhood. There are a lot of hills in the area, so it would have to be able to handle those. As an additional factor: I detest road bikes. I think of them purely in context of the Tour de France and having no practical use otherwise. I in no way wish to speed by life hunched over a bike with no way to enjoy scenery. At least that much I have eliminated. However, James thinks that the other 10% of the time the bike will be used for mountain biking, which he is so keen to pick up again, and to introduce me to. Therefore, I am most divided between getting a hybrid bike (which is advertised to be able to handle some off-road trails if you have a suspension that can unlock, tho of course will not perform as well as a full-out hardtail mountain bike) like this http://www.bikesale.com/giant-rove-3-womens-bike-2013.aspx or this http://www.bikesale.com/giant-revel-1-w-womens-bike-2013.aspx
or a hardtail mountain bike, like this beauty: http://www.bikesale.com/giant-talon-29er-1-w-womens-bike-2013.aspx

Obviously, the beautiful hardtail, The Talon, is basically twice as expensive as the hybrid bikes. I am of course a fan of hybrids, but the nature of such are that they are jack of all trades and master of none. The hybrid would not be able to handle mountain biking as effectively as an actual mountain bike.
I know that the most obvious first thing to do is to actually rent mountain bikes (those things exist here) and see if I like it at all, right? I agree, but I also think that it may be one of the things where the more often you do it, the better you might get acclimated to it, and why waste the money on multiple rentals instead of going headfirst into something.

Anyway, while I continue to agonize, I welcome all your opinions, but more than likely it will eventually be the Revel 1 W (and at this point we’re prolly going to put off buying it even longer, now that it’s getting rainier……haHA Seattle pun).

OKAY now that I’ve said a lot of nothing and only covered a couple of the topics I set out to… let’s see how much farther I can get:

*Most importantly: The end of the summer quarter
For those who want the short version: I passed.

The longer version: Honestly, I’m not sure what happened here, but somehow I got too behind on all three subjects, and I did my best to go through each subject and make my usual study guides. I knew that I didn’t have to earn many points to get my passing grades in all three cores, but I came away from the test actually unsure if I’d have to remediate in a couple weeks. Histology was my weakest, I felt, so I still have to go back over muscle and nerve material sometime just to feel better about myself knowing the material better. But later that same evening, after some very arduous grading on all three teachers’ parts, our scantrons were deposited into our student mailboxes and an email was sent out to all students that if this was the only email you were receiving, you’d passed. I rushed to campus to pick up my scantron to really see it for myself.

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

But they weren’t lying (even though I can still hardly believe I made it through).
James and I went to the local toy store and bought a 1000 piece puzzle in celebration, because it’s something I’d been itching to do and now I had three weeks off to complete it (as if I’d need that much time, but we had talked about buying a second puzzle soon after, which didn’t happen). I ended up finishing in like 4 days, every piece by myself 🙂

yay

yay

Turns out I also passed the lab practical with flying colors, but I really did study as hard as I could for that, and a lot more details seemed to finally click for me in the last 48 hours before the exam, so I ended up with 61/70. Very exciting.

So YAY I passed my first quarter without having to remediate anything!

Other things trying to be brief:
*Fall schedule was “posted tomorrow” last time

-I will talk about my schedule when I post about orientation
*The continuing education courses
-School is really awesome about providing opportunities for continuing education courses that are not part of the normal curriculum. There are tons of these, covering stuff from Aromatherapy, Craniosacral Manipulation, Medical Qi Gong Self-Care (the one I wanted to take but decided not to), Treating Eating Disorders, Yoga, Hypnotherapy…. tons of stuff. They are not part of the actual curriculum tho, so they don’t qualify for financial aid. You’d have to pay for it out of pocket, even though students usually get discounted rates. Many of them are all-Saturday seminars (a couple meetings in a quarter) with some outside homework. I do hope to utilize these in the future, but for right now it’s not the right time, especially given I will learn at least a little of all of these things at some point in my actual curriculum.

*Meeting with my advisor and the financial aid advisor before registering for electives
-Briefly, this was an amazing meeting I’m glad I spontaneously decided to do. My advisor was able to explain to me about some electives and the continuing education courses and cautioned me against some because I was going to be exposed to similar material later down the line. She also got me to talk to one of acupuncture department ladies and talk about why NDs can’t take base-level electives in the AOM (acupuncture, oriental medicine) department to get a feel for things and maybe get ahead (currently, you have to be enrolled in the AOM program to take any of them). She explained those classes are taught at such a level that it’s not really beneficial for an ND unless they’re already dual-enrolled. Sad, but understandable I guess. They are still working out kinks in the new integrated curriculum so who knows what electives they might eventually be able to offer. And in the meantime, I’m still considering applying for the dual-track next year anyway.
Secondly, my meeting with my financial advisor was even more immensely beneficial. She was able to explain to me the process about what to do when I don’t need all of my living expense distribution (the leftover money you get back from your student loans after they’ve been applied to tuition). I can return any portion of it at any time during the quarter, up to 90 days after its distribution. I can also take it back out later if I find I need it, but there’d be a two week wait for processing. This was a huge relief to me because I’d been holding on to a very large living expense distribution from the summer just in case, but because of James I really didn’t need it. I didn’t want it to start accumulating interest either, so I decided to give it back to the school. If you write the check to the school and give it to the Student Accounts lady, it’s returned to your lender as if it was never borrowed, AND it goes back into the pool of borrowable money, so it doesn’t count against your total. She was also able to share with me various ways other students have used their money (because I hadn’t bought my new laptop yet and was wondering if it was allowed… ps you can buy whatever you want with your living expense distribution, just bear in mind it’s borrowed money that accumulates interest and you have to pay back more in the end) AND ways students have paid back their loans, wherein she described to me the few loan forgiveness programs currently available to NDs. A last trick I learned is that you could borrow the student loan money at the beginning of the quarter to pay your tuition (since it’s due on the first day of the quarter) and if you’re really good about saving money you could make a payment to Student Accounts near the end of the quarter with your own money which could cancel out a large part of your student loan because it’s like a delayed paying out of pocket. Cool, huh?

*Seafair weekend with James, pictures, and our great public transportation adventure
-I’m working on giving this its own post

*The weather still sucks, off and on
-Well at this point summer is basically over here. Since buying the pedestal fan my office became a lot more bearable, but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgiven the PNW for not having air conditioning. We still don’t necessarily like having our windows open all the time because it makes things dirty and you can’t always control the humidity. We’re finally getting into fall here tho, so the hot days seem to be over. It’s been raining more than usual (really, it rained like 3 times all summer) and heavily. I like it, of course. I do not like when it promises to be perfectly overcast and beautifully gloomy in the morning, and the sun will break through in the afternoon. In that way, it’s like home, which couldn’t decide to be consistently gloomy either. Maybe it will get more consistently gloomy as winter carries on. We’re at the point where we will need to bust out/buy new sweaters and such, with which I am perfectly content.

*My “herb garden” and Lily
-Still struggling along, though more often than not I neglect them for being lost causes. Holly told me Lily had a fungus and we pruned her back and treated her a bit, but for the most part I have given up on her. When Holly was here (don’t worry, that gets its own post) she took some bits from my herb garden for a salad or two we ate, which was nice.
2013-08-17 19.13.32

*In which I “forget how to food”
-This terminology is taken from an internet meme, but I want to blurb a little about how all summer I seem to have forgotten how to grocery shop for healthy food, think of wholesome meals, and forgot how to cook, at all. It’s been very depressing. I think part of it might stem from the fact that my mom and I would usually cook things together, and especially share certain healthier foods certain other people wouldn’t eat. Now that it’s just me and James, I seem to have wholly reverted to all but the simplest things. Thankfully, Holly being here and cooking all the time helped re-invigorate me a little bit, and I’ve been cooking a little more since then and actually had a little more inclination to bake things. It was like being in food depression.

*The second telling of the double-told story.
I’m gonna sum up the rant that started the first telling, without trying to be as whiny as the first time. The event where the bike fell on James (as mentioned higher up in the post) got us really aggravated about our rental. James and I have been really spoiled with the places we’ve lived previously. We’ve gotten used to things like storage space and air conditioning, even if we had to trade it for occasional basement flooding or bugs in the basement. More and more James and I yearn for our own house that is set up the way we want it and has a design we really like, etc. A very married thing to want. We’re very grateful for this place, because it was the best option available at the time, but we look forward to the day we can buy our own house. Unfortunately the market sucks here, as something around the size and quality of even my parents’ single-story house in Edwardsville has an extra 100k or so price tag on it. We’re still playing with options, which will unfold more clearly as time goes on.

Ok so about that water heater story
-This little tale is about feeling sorry again for our poor landlord. A couple weeks ago James and I noticed that there was a little trail of water in the garage. Initially we thought it might just be runoff from my car after pulling in. When it didn’t dry up, we also very soon noticed that one of the pieces of cardboard that had fallen over and was laying face-down in our garage (we have so many, I hardly cared about driving over it once or twice) was completely sodden on the underside. So we pulled the Jeep into the driveway and investigated. Apart from the pool the cardboard was sitting in, we traced the little river back to the corner where the water heater sits. Now James and I love this water heater. It’s so much of a step up from our Collinsville house. This is a three story townhome, but you just have to run the water for a little bit before the hot stuff gets up to the top-floor shower, and we never run out of hot water. We used to have to pace our showers a bit back in Collinsville, because there was barely enough hot water for one person to have an 8 or so minute shower. We’ve gotten a little better at monitoring our shower times (see the next story) but we still love not worrying about it. So of course we’re sad and worried about our poor heater if it’s leaking. I text our landlord and he gets someone out right away to look at it. Long story short he says the cause of the leak is kind of twofold: 1) the cap and fitting place were made of metals that warped too much with changing temperature and 2) the threads on the cap were eroding because of age and overtightening. He was able to patch it up with some putty, but said the heater will basically have to be replaced before a year is out, because he says the longest he’s seen the putty-fix last is about 7 months. What surprised me most about this event was that after he plugged the cap the whole river and puddle dried up on their own in about a day, but I guess it just didn’t have a steady stream of leak anymore. We haven’t had any problems with it since (*knock on wood*) but it’s not likely to be replaced soon just cuz it doesn’t need it yet, which is ok.

*Another housing adventure
After the first weekend of adventure with Holly (see related upcoming post), Pretty Blue Thing performed very admirably and deserved a nice bath. So a couple days after we got back we parked her in the “driveway” and busted out all our car-washing stuff. I even got on our ladder so I could scrub her roof. I think this may have been PBT’s first actual bath since we got her. Aside from realizing she already had a couple scuffs, the wash went fine and she even got her tires shined. A couple days later, the interesting thing happened. We got a letter from the HOA telling us we’re not allowed to wash our cars in our own driveway because the water rate is very high right now and the complex is trying to conserve water.
For two people who have never lived somewhere other than independent single homes, this was quite a shock. It took me actually rather a while, while I was trying to ponder the water bill, to realize that we’ve never paid a water bill here – our landlord kindly wrapped it up in our monthly rent along with sewer, trash, and HOA dues. So we have no idea how much water we’ve been using, or what the rate is. We usually don’t think about conserving water either because we use as much as we need and don’t consider ourselves wasteful (I turn off the faucet when I’m brushing my teeth! We only run the dishwasher when it’s full! And we certainly didn’t have water gushing out of the hose onto the ground the whole time. It has a spray nozzle on it.)
Even though these are townhomes, we honestly did not think of them as connected, like an apartment complex. We just thought they were independent units (only two of them are being rented, the rest are owned) that just happened to have a HOA to deal with the landscaping.
The takeaway from this experience is that it just makes us so much more eager to own our own place and be in command of our own lives and things. Alas.

*Blackberries!
-This is fairly short and sweet. Unbeknownst to us for at least the first month we were here, blackberries grow wild all around this area and anyone living near Seattle can forage for them along roadsides. James had heard it from his coworkers, and I had seen a Facebook post in passing about a student who had picked some, but it wasn’t until we were on a long walk along a new route that James and I finally encountered some wild berries near our house about a month ago. Some of them were quite sour, but most were pretty good. I was of course nervous about eating them right off the plant without washing them first, but we picked a handful or so to take home (after eating a couple at the bush) and I got to wash them and refrigerate them (because lukewarm berries are slightly awkward).
2013-08-17 20.16.01

foraged!

foraged!

*Slugs!

-On this same enlightening walk, we came across a stretch of road about a block long that had a tiny strip of grass before the tree forest started. All along this strip of grass were the most slugs I’ve ever seen in one place in my life. There must have been hundreds of them! Apparently slugs can be quite an issue here (invading houses, eating garden plants, getting stepped on), but I haven’t heard from anyone about so many hanging out in one place. Plus, these aren’t like dainty little tiny slugs like I’ve seen crawling around my mom’s front porch on evenings back home. These are like, potion-making slugs. Suckers are sizeable. 
James's index finger, for comparison

James’s index finger, for comparison

freakin' so many! on one weed!

freakin’ so many! on one weed!

fascinating

fascinating

*The creature in our shower
     -Here’s a fun one. So when we moved in, the drainage on the master shower wasn’t really bad, but we bough a hair-catcher because I need one >_<. But still, as time went on, even though we were stopping anything that would contribute to clogging, it seemed to get worse and worse. Finally, after some Drano didn’t really have any effect, we started digging. And this….. THIS! A creature! The nastiest clump ever may as well have been a living creature, because it certainly came from one. Scroll past quickly if you don’t care, but it is so grossly impressive we had to share:

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While we’re posting gross things, let’s do this quickly. Remember the time I may or may not have broken my toe?:

First day after. Doesn't look quite so bad, right?

First day after. Doesn’t look quite so bad, right?

Later. Lots of bruising. And as you'll see, it goes all the way around.

Later. Lots of bruising. And as you’ll see, it goes all the way around.

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2013-08-04 22.38.35
2013-08-04 22.37.15

My toe’s basically fine now, btw. The bruising was gone in like a week I think, and I was able to get movement back into it within a couple days. It doesn’t really bother me. It might have a little less bendability than the same toe on the other foot, but I have no way of knowing if this was actually any different than before.

*I’m a nail polish addict
QUICK! Here’s a pretty bottle of nail polish! wheres_my_chauffeur
There. Now that you’ve scrolled down a little more, maybe you don’t have to look at the creature and my sad toe so much.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about how, if you didn’t know, I have been going through a phase in my life the last year or two where I can finally wear nail polish again because I haven’t been holding a food service job. To make matters “worse”, I found a way for myself to get bottles for almost half price. Getting back into the nail polish world (which I hadn’t inhabited since middle school and only collected cheap bottles of colors I would mix in every fashion as one of my only forms of self-expression per St. Mary’s’ dress code), I quickly found that I love the brand Essie.
My Essie collection is now up to 15 bottles, with 25 bottles total of color from other cheaper brands too. But still I want more. The funny thing about collecting nail polish is that there’s a shade for everything. It’s not like finding a nice shirt or cute shoes. Sure you could limit yourself to just a few shades of nail polish that might go with anything and everything else you wear. I quickly found that to be boring. I’ve found myself using painting my nails as a meditative practice, creative outlet, and color therapy. And these are exactly the kinds of things that are encouraged in med school. I bought a round of bright summery colors before I left Illinois, and those will probably come in handy in the depths of winter (that was the secondary part of that plan), but now I really want to beef up my fall/winter/neutral shades. I told some of my classmates during orientation about my color therapy, and offered to share with them any time we wanted to do our nails, so it just follows that I should have even more shades, right? Lol well I’ve held off a bit so far mostly due to indecision about particular shades (since you’re allowed to release a “new” color even if it only has like, a few more parts per million of some color making this new hue just the tiniest but not really different).
James really wants me to order some nail art brushes so I can get really detailed and start drawing flowers and seashells and stuff. I’ve tried dotting with the end of a pen and it turned out ok. For those of you unfamiliar, a current trend is the “accent nail”, in which you do something different only to the nail on your ring finger. Usually I’ll just do a complementary or contrasting color, but polka dots are really fun. I’ve mostly stuck with Essie just because their shades are so rich and creamy, but I feel a slight itch to branch out at least to OPI for a bottle or two. I saw recently an OPI shade called Ginger Bells which looks like the perfect pumpkin pie shade of orange, but it’s apparently discontinued as part of the 2011 Holiday Line so I might only be able to get it on Amazon. Also, Essie doesn’t currently have any yellow shades (just a couple weird golds), so I’d have to get a different brand for that too.
Just some musings on a thing that occupies my interests, you know? They start chipping by about the third day even with top coat (of which I need a new one because my current half used non-Essie bottle is getting goopy and was never great to start with), so it’s an opportunity to change things up quite frequently. Remaining helpless while they dry is a pain, though. I usually paint later in the evening when I won’t have anything to do that might smudge them, or similarly, on a weekend afternoon.

*Upcoming between-term-break vacation with Holly and the Roskoms
*Upcoming orientation
Things you would have heard about these events, had I posted about them ahead of time, would have told you that James’s mom Holly and her parents (the Roskoms) were planning on visiting for two weeks in September and Holly had planned the whole trip. But that trip gets its own blog post that I’m working on, so there’s not much left to say here. I would have told you I looked forward to it because I looked forward to being validated by Holly about the way I set up the place and complain about our lack of space, and hoped that she might have advice on how to arrange things better.
I would also have told you that new ND student orientation was coming up Sept 17-19 (turns out there was an event on the 20th too that they added last minute) where I would get to meet all the rest of my new classmates and that I was really nervous about it because it marks the start of my real schoolyear and there are a lot of new people’s names to know. But orientation gets its own post too, which I have no idea how soon I’ll be able to finish.

Ok so I’ve been busy

No really, I swear I started typing this on Wed 8/14 during a study break, and it got really long really fast and I wasn’t even nearly covering everything I want to because I’m just verbose. So I’m gonna go back through the things I already wrote, and what I want to write, and just post a bulleted list in the first part of the post, and post as much as can get gotten, and maybe work on building subsequent catch up posts.
In no particular order:

*Not quite being late for class anymore
*Still tired from not getting great sleep
*Revival that I didn’t go to and why
*Still out of shape
*But that’s partly because I maybe broke my toe a couple weeks ago
*But James and I did go to Sports Authority and now I have 5lb freeweights
*And the other malls officially suck compared to Alderwood
*Go see We’re the Millers
*Study group is improving but not yet optimal
*Exam 2 results
*Exam 3/barely comprehensive final is Wed 8/28, lab practical Tues 8/27
*Fall schedule was “posted tomorrow” last time
*The continuing education courses
*Meeting with my advisor and the financial aid advisor before registering for electives
*Going way back: Seafair weekend with James, pictures, and our great public transportation adventure
*The weather still sucks, off and on
*My “herb garden” and Lily
*In which I “forget how to food”
*Water heater
*Blackberries!
*Slugs!
*The creature in our shower
*I’m a nail polish addict
*Upcoming between-term-break vacation with Holly and the Roskoms
*Upcoming orientation

So maybe now I’ll post the stuff I had written last week, and finish the topic I was mid-way through, then I’ll publish and feel lighter.

So last time I posted we were almost done with Week 3 of the quarter. Today (I started typing this Wed 8/14, finished…) we are halfway through Week 6 (and now we’re done with Week 7, where the heck did my time go?). Since that time I’ve done a lot better about being on time for class. I’m still tired a lot, but that’s hardly different from undergrad, being able to get enough good sleep. It’s still something I’m working on. The funny thing about naturopathic med school is all of your fellow students understand the need to do things that support you non-academically, so you hear a lot about other people’s activities that they’re doing to keep themselves sane or enrich themselves. Revival is one such example, but I’ll talk about that later. The point is that it’s a balance everyone has to find in their own time, and it’s something I think I’ll always be working on.

Currently my biggest challenge is still disciplining myself to do simple exercises a day. Exercise is still a problem carry-over from last post. Exercise is always a problem for me, being the least athletic and least athletically-inclined of the family. Funny enough, since I stayed home during undergrad I never experienced the “freshman 15” that typically comes with new independence, stress, and a limited array of options. I actually lost weight after high school when I started college, around ten pounds, with no effort on my part. The weight stayed down all through college too. Now, with the stress of the move, the stress of school, my undisciplined schedule, homesickness and “independence” (such as one gets not living along but being married)… well now the weight is starting to creep back up. It certainly did not help that last week I nearly broke my toe. I won’t post the pictures here, but those interested can follow the link to the picture gallery (which I have yet to post). Let me say, it was pretty gnarly. Here’s the story:

I’m usually very clumsy, so it’s no surprise that I’m constantly banging into things. Usually it’s door frames or table corners, a painful bang, maybe a raised scratch on my shin, but no lasting damage. This time, Friday the 2nd, I was nearly running late for my only class (nearly- I was still doin’ good, people). I was printing my lecture notes that morning after breakfast because that teacher never seems to post them the night before. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but as I was sitting in my swivel desk chair, turning toward the printer to get the papers, my left foot somehow slipped and full force my 2nd toe slammed directly into the lower corner of my wood desk drawer. I’m no stranger to stubbed toes, but usually there’s a single exclamation followed by some slow breaths and waiting for the pain to subside. This time was definitely different. I remember immediately knowing so as I fully cried out for a second time, which I never do. Life’s a little blurry after that, but I ended up getting my notes into my backpack and thanked luck that I had already planned on wearing flip-flops that day. I couldn’t bend my toe, I couldn’t put weight on it, I couldn’t touch it. I limped all the way to class, and gritted my teeth during lecture waiting for the pain to lessen. It took a good three hours before it even started to not throb so bad. By the end of the day I was limping less, it still hurt, but there was no bruising. That came the next day, and got worse the day after that, but then it leveled out. As of today, nearly two weeks later, I can report that there is only the slightest purple twinge right at my nailbed, and I can bend the toe almost perfectly. I haven’t tried to run on it yet, in sneakers, but even two days after I stubbed it I was able to put a sneaker on and walk around all day. So even though the bruising was pretty brutal, and for several days I worried on and off about it being broken, I decided that the swelling wasn’t so bad, and I wouldn’t be able to move it so much without much pain if it had been broken. I showed it to my histo teacher that Monday and she agreed, so I haven’t worried about it since, but have just been careful with it.

Saying all that to say (as my husband says), exercise that I could have done, had I felt up to it, would have been limited to upper body exercises. Even abdominal exercises would have put enough pressure on it to be uncomfortable. But now that I think it’s pretty ok, I’m going to test it out soon. I’ve been too stressed recovering from the test and this week’s assignments to do so, but I have used my weights a couple times, which segues into another anecdote to share.

Last post I said I was going to drag James to the mall we hadn’t been to yet to check out Sports Authority. Well I was too excited about the opportunity to be in the store I never actually did price checks on all the lovely equipment I wanted to buy. I forget how expensive they all are, and why some people join a gym, but James reminded me about the math of the gym membership and that over enough time, there’s plenty of equipment I could have bought. So in the end we settled on just getting me a pair of 5lb freeweights, and if my sugar daddy actually saw me using them, then I might earn the right to get some more. It’s proven to be a very fair deal, lol. It’s also motivation, though. And now that my toe is getting better and my mood has improved, it might be easier to do a little every day.

The rest of the Northgate Mall proved to be a disappointment. I have officially decided that Lynnwood’s Alderwood mall is the only worthy one. It just has everything. The other two malls don’t have as good variety of “staple-mall-town” stores, and have bad layouts, but that is my opinion. Luckily Alderwood is only about 20 minutes from us. We just were there this past weekend to go see “We’re the Millers” at the giant 16 screen cinema up there. This is another must-post-about event. I have not laughed so hard for so long in I don’t even know when. Now those of you who know me know I don’t appreciate gross, crude humor. I still haven’t seen Bridesmaids despite the hype because much of it just looks like vulgar, unfunny crude humor. We’re the Millers, in comparison, could still be described as crude, but that is where my words fall short. The most justice I could do would be to describe it as “actually funny crude.” It’s not overly vulgar like some, and although there are suggestive dirty sex jokes, they are actually funny. This may be just an opinion, but I really thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the entire movie, which even from the trailer was not something I expected to do. The trailer makes it look funny, and maybe quite crude, but I really wasn’t prepared for laughing really hard the entire time. I recommend going to see it, then you guys could comment back to me what you thought.

Let’s see, switching gears, I’m referencing my last post bit by bit to see what kinds of things I should update about, even though it’s all out of order.

My study group is going pretty well, but there are things I’d still like to improve upon it to make us more effective and thorough and prepared. I’m growing increasingly grateful that I have this summer quarter to adjust to school here. Already, every teacher and faculty member we come across has congratulated us for being here for this quarter. It’s never been much of a big deal for me, who has taken summer school almost every year of my post-high school life. It’s just what you do when you want to get ahead or make room for something else. I understand that for many students it’s not possible for one reason or another, but if any prospective student happens to be reading this, I cannot recommend it enough. We few who are already in class (I don’t want to call us “advanced”, because it only applies chronologically) are already forming bonds and developing study habits and finding our ways around town and campus in a way that will be infinitely harder in the fall when the course load is much heavier and there will be many more people at once. I’m glad I’m able to make this transition back into full-time school and work on bettering my habits and working out the kinks while I can with this smaller group of people. My study group is only three people large, including myself, but it works pretty well for us (and the recommended number is only 3-5 anyway). Right now we operate on a three-way Facebook chat. The chat messenger I usually use, Pidgin, seems to not currently have a capability for 3+ person G-chat, but we’re working on it. As much for myself as for April and Michele, I recap the upcoming assignments due or tests coming up. We talk back and forth about questions we may have about assignments, and the chat is saved way back thanks to Facebook, so we can always go back and look through links we’ve posted of helpful websites we found, etc. We still don’t have a regular meeting time, nor have we divided responsibilities of typing up study guide sections, but we’re doing pretty well so far.

This is a lovely opportunity to talk about Exam 2, which happened on Monday (8/12). You’ll recall I didn’t do so hot on my first exam. Well, just like this blog post slipping away from me, the last couple days leading up to the second exam slipped away from me too. I was doing ok and then before I knew it like four unproductive days had gone by and now it was the weekend before the exam and James was telling me his coworkers had volunteered him to host a work-in at our place because our network is the only thing that would work for their project and of course the place was a mess so I spent most of Saturday cleaning it (and not even to the point of spotlessness). The rest of Saturday I was depressed because I hadn’t been working on studying and I have had an increasingly looming blocked goal of “I need a new laptop for school.” My old one was bought around Junior year of high school and served me faithfully for a long time. After James and I got serious he built me a desktop that I used for everything and my slow laptop got set aside. When I did try to finally use it again, we discovered the battery was no longer capable of holding a charge and my power cord somehow had a short where if you bumped the cable the whole computer instantly shut off.
You can see how this might be a problem trying to take the thing on campus. Even though we worked on clearing and updating it to improve speed, I still simply can’t use it at school for fear of losing everything in an instant, even with constant saving, and having to wait to boot the thing back up again. So we’ve started looking. Saturday evening we ventured up to Best Buy in Alderwood to look at a Lenovo Yoga, which might almost be my best/favorite option, except that it doesn’t have a digitized screen. Thanks to James having a Lenovo ThinkPad Twist at work, I have pretty much decided I would be best served by a laptop with a digitizer screen for my doctorate. James’s best friend Matt used the same laptop all through his undergrad and masters in electrical engineering (and yes, he and my mom get on well) thanks to the handy way it can also convert into a tablet you can write on with a digitizer pen.
I’ve only been able to borrow James’s laptop twice for class, but I think it’ll suit me well. We’ll likely place the order before the weekend is over, but of course I won’t have it ready until almost the start of fall quarter.

Omg I digress. I was trying to talk about why, due to this sudden lack of studying, I was pretty sure come Monday I was going to fail the multiple choice section of the exam. The things I studied, I didn’t study nearly well enough, and the things I didn’t study sure came up on the questions where I was divided 50/50 and knowing the application of that term probably would have steered me to the right answer. Be that as it may, I came away from the test in low spirits for the scantron portion and feeling decent on the written. Our teachers set to work grading the three sections right away, and we had our scores by Wednesday’s tutorial.

Biochem (on which I scored lowest first exam): Scantron – missed 2 questions (of 20) 54/60; Written – full points 30/30; Total: 93%
Embryo: Scantron – missed one question of 11 (20/22); Written – she only took 2 points off my essay 16/18; Total: 36/40 = 90%
Histology: Scantron – missed 5 of 20 questions (45/60); Written – 9/10; Total: 77%

So that’s an improvement of 25.9 percentage points in biochem, improvement of 15 percentage points in embryology, and decrease by 3 percentage points in histology, despite being fairly certain I’d do poorly. Some friends of mine are known to complain that when I’m certain I’m going to fail I never do so I should stop complaining. Well I won’t count on every time I think I’m doing poorly I might do better in the end, because I’m getting superstitious about some magic of accepting my fate of likely failure rather than thinking anywhere in the back of my mind it might still turn out ok.

Anyhow, most of the grades are in now, so I can do those lovely fun end of term calculations to see how many more points I need to pass the class. According to my calculations:
I need 96 of the remaining 150 pts in Histo to pass (includes the 70 pt lab practical).
I need 27 of the remaining 100 pts in Biochem to pass.
I need 19.5 of the remaining 50 pts in Embryo to pass.

I’d like to end this post with these sentiments: Facebook has been flush with posts of people starting grad school, starting an upper year of undergrad, starting clinicals in nursing school, or their kids’ first days of school. It’s funny to see that, seeing as how my school isn’t even done yet. But we won’t start again until almost the end of September. I guess the summer really is practically over though because James and I were startled to suddenly discover this week that we’ve been able to watch our shows earlier in the day because it is now dark at 9 o’clock. We literally only just noticed by finally glancing at the clock during our evening TV ritual, so we have no idea how gradual the change was.

Post First Exam

I’m still working on getting into the swing of things. Even though this is the end of the third week, the 8am classes this time have been brutal. I get up just after 6 every morning and try not to rush breakfast and have a nice time, but it’s been so hard this week to get to bed on time, and equally as difficult to pry myself from the sheets in the morning. I’ve been about 5 minutes late to each of my 8am classes this week. Obviously I must make more of an effort to tweak things in my daily schedule to make this work better, exercise being one factor. This weekend I plan on dragging James to the Northgate Mall with me and (lovingly) making him buy me the at-home exercise equipment I’ve been wanting for about 2 years: a super high density foam roller, a medicine ball, and a set of small weights (James already has ones past 10lbs). I also need a new pair of running shoes.
I’m also working on forming a study group with a couple classmates, but I also have to get some better organization together on that.
The fall schedules will be posted tomorrow for registration, so I am excited about that, to form the schedule for my next step. The plan is that because I took these summer courses I should have room for one or two electives. I just saw around campus yesterday that there are ongoing certification programs that students can enroll in, including for aromatherapy, craniosacral therapy, and medical qigong self-care. Those courses meet on Saturdays, have a lot of out-of-class study requirements, and cost about as much as a regular class’s tuition, if not more (the price is more apparent to me now that I’m in charge of my own school loans). I don’t know if I’ll really have time for that kind of commitment, but I’m sure I’ll fit them in sometime before I graduate for at least one cert.

Anyway, the long-awaited bit of news: results from my first exam.
Admittedly, I discovered too late the weekend before the exam while studying that I was not nearly as prepared as I thought I was going into the weekend. I ended up being more consumed with an assignment that was due the same day as the test, and found that I really wished I already had my study guides drawn up and all pretty and full of pictures and structure. I had a hard time concentrating on the material, but did my best to soak it all in again (I go to every class, but you know how it is when you sit down the with material in crunch time and think “was I even there?”).
I could have done worse, and I got about what I deserved (even caught a break or two), but I could also have done better.

Since we have three cores that are integrated into the class, overall score on the test doesn’t matter. We’re graded on the section of the test that applied to that core. The exam was broken up into a scantron portion and a written portion for each core. Scantron was mostly multiple choice with a few matching. The short answer written portion included short answers, short essays, drawing structures, labeling your picture, or identifying an already drawn biochemical structure.
For the scantron, most of the answers I missed was where I was divided between two responses I equally did not know and picked the wrong one. On one I changed my answer, and on a few I simply had no idea because of the way the application was worded. On the written portion, there were some structures I did not memorize well enough (or at all), some details I got nicked on for my short answers, and was granted great mercy on an embryo essay where I misread the question and wrote the wrong details (perfectly, tho), it so happened one of the details spilled over into the correct area so I didn’t lose all the points.
Overall, my scores on the exam were thus (and I will post this publicly for all to see, to share my “shame” and encourage me to work harder):
Histo 80%, Biochem 67.1%, Embryo 75%.
Bear in mind, the only grade that matters in this class is 70%, and anything above that is passing. The however high you are above 70 is relatively inconsequential. And I’m not quite so bad off for biochem, because I’ve been doing a little better on the quizzes.
Anyway, room for improvement and much will be learned from the results of the way I approached that test.

In other news… it’s been hot here still. There are many nights where I stick quite grossly to my office chair and we use the air conditioner on sleep mode but swelter until we get to bed.
I guess I didn’t mention that last week at open lab I forgot my water bottle outside the lab and didn’t realize I had not brought it home with me until many hours later. I made James come back to campus with me late that afternoon and used the excuse to show him around the school, then we went hiking in St. Edward State Park (in which my school is situated). It was quite an experience because I’m so out of shape and you basically go down a whole bluff (very steeply, mind you, on a narrow track) to get to the lakeshore at the end of one trail, then going up again is torturous. I’m not sure how the trail calculated how long it was, but when I logged the hike in runkeeper it was nowhere nearly as long as it said. All in all, we ended up walking about 2 miles that day, most of which was on the trail itself, but we parked at Bastyr (cuz we don’t have the pass to park in state parks yet, as of yesterday it’s on its way) so we had some extra hiking to do to get back to our car on campus. If you visit, we will take you there, because within the trees it’s amazing this is tucked right in suburbia.

Can’t think of anything else much of note, but will post of course if anything interesting happens.

The first week

I wish it would rain. This summer weather is ridiculous. I know I’ll be getting my comeuppance for that come like October-May, but seriously, does it have to be all or nothing? It’s only been exacerbated by the fact that today and yesterday our HOA community has been having our exterior windows cleaned, so we were told to take our screens out and shut all our windows for the cleaners or that window wouldn’t be done and the owners would still be charged anyway. The charge doesn’t matter to us, since we’re not paying for it, but we had several windows that looked like they could use it, so we obliged. First of all, taking the screens out is ridiculous and we nearly broke half of them because they wouldn’t budge, PLUS there was the little risk of losing grip on the suckers while we’re yanking on them and then they would topple two or three stories to the pavement below, and possibly land on whichever of our cars we parked in front. Oh by the way, the windows did not really improve with this effort. The one window that needed it the most did not even get touched (and I climbed our stepladder to sit on the ledge, lean slightly out the window two stories up, and do my best to scrub the dirt from the places I could reach), and the other that we thought was dirtiest is actually permanently disfigured by some kind of splotchiness that won’t budge.

We have discovered because of this experience that it is due to us leaving all the windows open overnight that brings the house to a livable temperature for most of the following day. This morning and yesterday the thermostat in the living room read about 77 degrees, at 7:30am. On the hot mornings with the windows open it might be 73. More usually, when the windows have been open all night everywhere but the bedroom, the living room often reads somewhere closer to 65 (or 60, one especially brisk morning). This means wearing my fluffy blue robe (that I got from Gma V & Lee several Xmases ago) every morning when I go downstairs for breakfast, which is great because that just makes it breakfast-ier.
I do not do well in heat. I was quite excited to move to a place where I could be cool all the time. I do not deserve this summer yet; I have not suffered through nine months of rain and no sunlight. Summer especially holds no meaning when there are no pools to hang around, and we did not choose an apartment complex with a pool. Our air conditioner that stays permanently in the bedroom because it weighs nearly 100 pounds keeps the nights tolerable, if not wonderfully comfortable. We’ve had it on way more often overnight than we thought we would ever need so far. Even now, having the windows open without a fan at each to pull the air in seems almost futile, since there is hardly much breeze to blow it through the house. It is not nearly so hot outside, but we apparently live in an oven. It was 86 in my office yesterday, and I even went so far as to open the window screen-less to hope to tempt in a breeze. I say even so because there is a wasp that once a day while I sit here tries to get in, but luckily the screen prevents him. Also luckily, he did not tempt me while the window barely served to let heat out, let alone let cool in.
The clouds outside right now are brightly overcast, and I so wish it would rain, but rain is nowhere in the forecast.

Anyway… I will never stop griping about heat… but that’s enough of it for now.
SO I have survived my first week of summer medical school. I will not exactly say I did terribly well, to be honest. Monday was a histology lecture, but Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to biochem lectures. There was a surprise practice quiz on Tuesday that I was terrified about but ended up getting 10/10, but the actual quiz on Wednesday had a bunch of questions I did not study the particulars of (because I have a gift of not focusing on the right stuff) and got 5/10 on the quiz that actually counted. *sigh*
Tuesday’s histology lab had me really freaked out because I am bad with microscopes and none of the slides have ever looked like much more than pink messes to me. Because of this, I even went to the optional open lab Saturday morning from 9-11am. After today’s lab though I’m beginning to feel slightly better. It helps to take pictures with my phone through the ocular lens, although iPhones take better pictures through a microscope lens for some reason. It’s super hard to do because even breathing can move your hand out of the lighted area and you’ll miss the shot.

One of the more distinguishable bits of microscopy, this is a simple columnar epithelium. The nuclei are purple, goblet cells are white circles, cytoplasm is pink, and the white is "outside world".

One of the more distinguishable bits of microscopy, this is a simple columnar epithelium. The nuclei are purple, goblet cells are white circles, cytoplasm is pink, and the white is “outside world”.

My teacher is really good and if you can catch her attention (my lab section is a bit large) she is really nice about explaining things and more helpful than I guess I’ve ever had from lab instructors. I realized last week that she reminds me of my aunt-in-law, April. Holly: you’ll have to tell her if she doesn’t read the blog. They even kind of have the same face, unless I’m imposing that. I’ve never been in a class of April’s, but I imagine their teaching methods and enthusiasm are much the same. Dr. Love is very enthusiastic and uses a lot of hand motion and exuberance and repetition to bear a detail to us. Right now I know to recognize epithelial cells as “samesamesame touchingtouchingtouching”. 

Wednesday and Friday were Fundamentals of Research Design with Dr. Wenner, who reminds me of a mix of Darryl Hannah a la Steel Magnolias and Geena Davis. She has this light, feminine voice that you don’t often hear and she’s very passionate about her science. This week she’ll be away to present about her studies that she’s doing (involving the Turkey-Tail mushroom and its possible effect on some kind of cancer), so tomorrow I’ll get to meet our other teacher for Fundamentals. Because of the integrated curriculum, most of our classes are taught by more than one teacher with a different background specialization to help us get the most well-rounded picture possible. Dr. Wenner is an immunologist, but tomorrow’s Dr. Fulton-Kehoe is an epidemiologist.
Last week we learned a little about epidemiology and the importance of ethics in medicine. Our homework through the end of this week is to complete an online certification training about biomedical ethics. Every person who will possibly conduct research with human subjects is required to have this training, and Bastyr has integrated it into their core first semester curriculum. It’s freakishly long, since I read slowly, but I’ve heard the first two sections were the longest. The first took me about 45 minutes to get through, with small reading breaks (it’s not exactly riveting), but the other took me almost an hour and a half because I was already burning out on it and it wouldn’t end. I’ve got a couple more sections left, then I can print my certificate to say how I understand the underlying principles of why you shouldn’t target vulnerable populations unless you have a really good reason and how to ensure the protection of your human subjects. It tells you a little about the history of bioethics and the great failures of them and how we learn from them and what new laws resulted from them.

Constitutional Assessment I can’t really say anything definitively on yet because not much happened last Thursday. The class only meets once a week for two hours and doesn’t last the full 8 weeks. My teacher lectured for a little bit, but the material didn’t really say anything about anything, and most of the period was spent by a guy coming in and showing us around Bastyr’s online student homework portal, Moodle. Even that really didn’t tell me anything new because we were already thrust into figuring out Moodle earlier in the week when our ISF teachers posted stuff there. Plus I have experience with stuff like BlackBoard and my husband is in IT so I’m a little… less in need. We actually had to discuss not to use Internet Explorer, which I haven’t used in years, if I can help it. Internet Explorer is the browser you use to download other browsers, but my teacher had apparently never heard that phrase.
So maybe later this week I can tell you more about it.

For now, I will sit here in my office, which has risen a degree since I opened the window and haphazardly placed the screen in front of the opening braced under the blinds, and do my homework for biochem (where I have another quiz tomorrow, and our first test is Monday) and Fundamentals.
Seriously, if there’s any details you’d like to hear more about, please comment! No feedback is sad sometimes. And thank you to those who read, even if you skim 😉