Please Forgive Me. I Am A Grad Student.

April 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm (A Little Fun, back to school, Studies, Time Off Together) (, , , , , )

Not that I really have anything interesting to post in the first place, but life has pretty much been put on hold for the last 2 semesters.  I have been totally immersed in my studies.  A master’s in statistics does not come easy, especially when your background is in Theology and social services.

Hopefully I will have something interesting to post soon.  It is going to be a busy summer, but hopefully a little pleasure will be mixed with business.  I have finally agreed to go backpacking with Josh.  He has been asking for quite some time and I finally took pity on him.  So a few weeks ago he plopped this ball of plastic down on in front of me and said,


“This is our tent”



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December 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm (A New Career, back to school, Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Memories, Social Services, Studies) (, , , , )

Last year I said that I was glad to say good-bye to 2011.  Many people agreed with me.  It was a tough year.  As was the year before that…and the year before that…and the year before that…and half of the year before that.  It felt like we were in a game of Whack-A-Mole.  When we were finally able to peek our head above ground  WHACK!  We were bopped back down.

2012 offered a lot of promise.  It started out rough, got a little…well…a LOT rougher, and I think it has ended better than many of the years before.

A few days ago Josh and I took a (very chilly!) walk along Lake Michigan reflecting on the highlights of 2012.


  • Despite being the slow months of winter, Josh saw a lot of success with his program.
  • I started my first semester as a graduate student.
  • Finally out of debt, after 4 years!
  • We picked up our first ever BRAND NEW vehicle (ordered on Black Friday, we had the sales guy so flustered he inverted a couple of numbers giving us a $2,000 savings)!  After 11 years Josh now only has one more broken down vehicle to work on!



  • More success in Josh’s program during the slow months of winter.  I think they saw some of the highest number of hours served in the history of the program during these months.  The program is expanding so much Josh is having a hard time hiring staff to keep up!


  • Day trip to South Bend.  We still don’t have money, but we wanted to get OUT!
  • Josh’s brother calls on a Wednesday to invite us to his wedding…Friday.  This was supposed to be the day Josh got terminated, but because of this call he had to push the appointment back.  Yes, they made an appointment with him to terminate him, but he was told they would be working out some issues with his boss.
  • We enjoy Chris and Katie’s wedding on the steps of the courthouse in Crown Point.
  • On March 9 I post this on FB: For the first time since shortly after our move back from Scotland we have money in the bank! After 4 years of working to get out of debt we did not ask for it feels SO good to have a few bucks that are not already claimed for bills.
  • On March 19 Josh was terminated (Josh’s comment at the beach: I didn’t have to work for my creepy boss anymore!).
  • I have no choice but to continue working at the same agency that chewed Josh up and spit him out.
  • Josh’s amazing staff came together and gave him a great going away party on their own time.  We are humbled by the love and support they show.



  • Classes end.
  • Josh is trying to get out of social services so not applying for those jobs, but he is not being considered for anything else because he does not have specific experience. I want to go up to those haughty HR people and tell them my husband is so ingenuitive he can make a Popsicle stand in the arctic successful and they are missing out!


  • Josh finally starts getting unemployment.  We watch our finances slip back to their previous state of debt.
  • Josh continues the job search, trying to get out of social services.  After countless emails saying he will not be considered for a labor or manufacturing position because he does not have the experience he goes back to applying for social services positions.
  • Camping!
  • I enjoy meeting with high school friends Tiph, Jil, and Steph at Steph’s production of Listen To Your Mother.


  • We celebrated my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary in Michigan.


  • We enjoy our cousin Kristina’s wedding.
  • Josh is offered a job to start mid-June.  Neither of us feel good about it, but it is a job.  Josh tries to negotiate for more time off because of his experience, since they will not budge on the low pay, but they say no.
  • We take a road trip to visit a dear friend in North Carolina.  We love to travel but had not had the money to for the last 5 years.  We love nature and mountains and this was just what we needed.
  • Josh has an interview for another job the day we get back from NC.
  • I take my client on her vacation to Amish Acres where we see “State Fair”, eat out LOTS (I have the best ever root beer float, and I don’t like root beer!), shop at Shipshewana, and go on a horse a buggy ride.
  • I put in my two weeks!
  • Josh starts his new job, but is offered the other and quits after 4 days (He has yet to be paid for that one!).


  • Josh starts his NEW new job.
  • I become advocate for Verda, who was previously my client.
  • Blueberry picking!
  • I enjoy occasionally meeting with Verda and her staff for coffee/lunch/ice cream.
  • We enjoy the LaPorte County Fair.
  • Josh, Stacey, and I organize  help set up for Chris and Katie’s wedding (and party hard afterwards!).


  • We enjoy our summerly get together at our place for our lunch club.
  • We fly (for the first time since we moved back stateside!) to SF to visit Stacey.  We had a wonderful apartment in San Rafael, enjoyed many restaurants (YAY!), and got in lots of nature with hikes along the coast and a visit to Yosemite.
  • Classes begin.
  • Josh is working lots of hours.


  • Camping!
  • We join a great new small group.
  • I start my Thirty-One business!


  • We say good-bye to our Brazilian friends Eduardo and Natalia.  😦
  • I have my first Thirty-One party.
  • Josh is working lots of hours, but he gets his first raise.


  • We celebrate Josh’s birthday at his favorite place because he can get whatever seafood he wants (Red Lobster).
  • Camping!
  • I have several Thirty-One parties, but everything starts to become a blur because of classes.
  • Josh is working lots of hours.


  • We celebrate my birthday, but we had to squeeze it in quick because I didn’t really have time to celebrate.  We didn’t go out anywhere.  Josh surprised me with a beautiful lemon and raspberry cake he made and decorated.
  • Stevie had some of his artwork in ArtAbility.
  • Thanksgiving!
  • Josh is working lots of hours, but is caseload is changed to be more local.  He is allowed $300/mo for his expense report.  This was not even covering his mileage.


  • I feel like I am about to die as classes wind down.  I pulled 2 all-nighters in a row to complete a project.
  • Classes finally end!  I didn’t think I would make it!
  • Josh’s work finally starts to slow down and he is offered another raise.
  • Christmas!

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My Morning Walk…

February 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm (back to school, Fun Photos, Studies) ()

Chicago, 6:45am 2 weeks ago…




Chicago, 7am last week…

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First Day

January 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, back to school, Studies) (, , )

Yesterday I automatically woke up at 4:30am.  Don’t know why.  I think this made it easier to get out of bed when the alarm went off at 4:45 this morning.

I waited 40 minutes at the train station for my train.  I was 10 minutes early.  The train was at least 30 minutes late.  South Shore was kind enough to make the announcement that the train would be 10-15 minutes late.  The radio reported the trains were on time.

As I stood in the rain listening over my music for the horn I debated whether it would be better to take the train and be late (I only have 5 minutes to get to class when the trains are on time) or to drive in the sleet, in the dark (my night vision is not the greatest), in bad traffic and be late.  I guess I made the right decision because as I was getting into my car I heard the ding signaling an announcement and shortly after the parking lot was suddenly flooded with others heading back to their vehicles.

It only took an hour and a half, traffic was not great.  I arrived in Evanston at the time my class was starting.  Now I had to find parking.  Parking in this area is difficult, to put it kindly.  I found a spot at a meter and prayed I had some quarters.  They were a staple in our car when we lived in Chicago, but not any more.  The meter said “1 1/2 hours for $1.50”, but I’m wondering what you got 1 1/2 of because the meter only gave me 60 minutes.  That was all I had.  I had to give up another little supplication that I didn’t get a ticket.

I made it to my class 10 minutes late, but fortunately someone save a seat for me.  Right in the front.  Middle.  About 3 feet away from the overhead screen.  I was frazzled, my hair was in my face, and I was doing what I could to avoid an embarrassing snot situation.  There at the front of the class.  I’m not sure I absorbed much.  Statistics, that is.

After making a mad dash out to my car to move it to a non-metered spot after class, I was happy NOT to see an orange envelope hanging from my window.  Now I have to pray I don’t get one in the mail.

I found a spot several blocks away and made my way back to campus to take care of some business.  I walked in circles around campus because there is construction and many paths are closed.  I got the ID.  I went to meet with an advisor who couldn’t help me and sent me to someone in the mathematics department.  On the other side of campus.  He couldn’t help with my specific question either.

I felt like I deserved a coffee after all of this and popped in to one of the many independent coffee shops in the area.  LOVE THIS!  There are so many different ethnicities in the area and I was getting so excited about all of the potentials for lunch.  Oh, wait.  I don’t have money to eat out.

I turned down the street I THOUGHT I had parked my car.  Then I went down next.  And the next.  This isn’t like me to lose my parking spot and it unnerved me a bit.  But I saw the Devon Market and went in to look around and this cheered me up.  Josh called to see how my day was going and as I was babbling and randomly walking down the streets I found my car.

Although I wanted to get home and get started on homework (I’m in a training all day tomorrow), I thought it would be great to drive through our old neighborhood since I didn’t plan to have my car any other time.  I saw some new buildings and couldn’t believe that one of the dilapidated apartment buildings that housed immigrants was gone and a Dominick’s in it’s place.  A stop at my favourite Middle Eastern Bakery was necessary and I got falafel for tonight’s dinner.  That makes me happy.

I wanted to take a picture of my first day on campus, but the sleet and the wind off the lake didn’t really make me want to linger long enough to take out my camera.  I do hope to have more time to post about my experience coming full circle and studying once again in Chicago.

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Popping In

July 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm (Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Studies) (, , )

Just thought I’d pop in to say, “I’m still here! (barely)”  Really, my life is not exciting enough to have a blog and I don’t know why I hang on to this thing, but I guess I use it as a ranting tool every so often.  Even when I do something fun like go to Chicago or camping or something I don’t have the motivation to upload my photos.  I do intend to get round to that.  Someday.  Maybe.

My life exploded into crazy craziness a few weeks ago.  I had already been working 45-50 hours a week and then…and then I started Calculus.  That right there says it all.  It is a summer class, so only 8 weeks.  I am in class 6 hours a week and spending around 15 hour a week on homework.  If you add it up, that can be around 70 of my waking hours taken up with work and class. 

And then at the same time my class started, we decided we could start with the construction on the kitchen.  That means everything that was in the kitchen  (all counters, cabinets, appliances, island, food, dishes, pots, pans…you get the idea) is in the living room.  Our entire living area consists of a half bath, living/dining room (about 350 sq ft), soon-to-be kitchen (about 150 sq ft), small corner of a utility room shared with my parents, and one bedroom (about 190 sq ft).  To get from the living area to the bedroom you have to walk through the kitchen.  Everything is covered in dust, despite putting up plastic.  The kitchen floor is covered in dust, so that is tracked throughout the entire house.  There is often power drills, nails, pipes, cords, etc. on the washing machine that have to be removed to wash a load.  There is insulation piled in front of the dryer and wires hanging from the ceiling.  Our dining table is wedged between our fireplace and coffee table.  I have to wipe down the dust every time I need to sit at it to do homework.  Food and dishes are sitting in open boxes so they are accessible, but good luck finding what you need at the time you need it.  The electric is off today so Josh can put in a new circuit box so I am doing my homework at a coffee shop.

And my class.  Well, my class meets Monday and Wednesday nights.  I have lots of homework due at each class and there were times when I was so stressed out because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get Wednesday nights’ assignment done while working all day Tuesday and Wednesday.  I found out at the very end of my Trig class that it was not the right class to have me ready for calc, even though I said when I registered I need the right class to be ready for calc.  So I went into class not even knowing what everyone else already knows.  I got a C on my first exam which shot any hopes of keeping an A and shooting for scholarships in the future.  Throughout Trig I taught myself a lot of what I couldn’t understand in class.  I thought I would be able to do this again, but I have just not had the time.

Work is stressing me out because I do not feel appreciated or compensated for my experience and hard work.  I just found out yesterday that today Chicago’s minimum wage goes up to a rate higher than what I started out with in this agency.  I hate being 33 years old, in an entry-level position with no appreciation for my experience or education and an inability to move around to a more appropriate position.  While I really enjoy working with some of my clients (some not so much), it is depressing and moral shattering.  If we were not in such great need for my income I would just quit and concentrate on my studies.

So since I can’t quit, I went down to part-time.  I have been talking about it for a long time and hoping we would be in a position to do so when I started my class, but we needed to do the kitchen.  It’s been over 1 1/2 years in the waiting.  Finances will definately be very tight again and we have to go back into debt to get this kitchen done and it will be longer getting out this time, but I am happy in my studies (and would LOVE to do this full-time!) and this week has proved that it was a much needed move for me to go part-time.  I spent a couple of hours Monday, all day Tuesday and Wednesday, and again today on homework and studying.  I am still working 32 hours, but it is all in 3 days over the weekend.  So much for any hope of a weekend with Josh!  But at least I have 4 whole days to concentrate on things-not-work-related and regain strength to get through a power work weekend.

I’m still looking for work in Chicago (or anything that will pay more and compensate for the time I am taking off).  I interviewed last week but have not heard anything yet.  I take that as bad news.  I am looking for almost ANYTHING that I can get to by train.  If anyone has any more ideas I will look into it!  I just found a place that does research and data analysis.  RIGHT UP MY ALLEY! though I don’t have the experience or education for it yet.  😦  I am going to try to spend some time on a cover letter and researching the agency and see if they might be willing to let me get my feet wet as an assistant or something.  It would be really awesome to get some on the job training but I know these days employers can be really picky and don’t want to have to train.  But I have my fingers crossed anyways.

I meant for this to be a quick post while I took a quick break from my homework.  Ah, well.  Back to derivatives of logarithmic functions…

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One Blow After Another

April 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm (Studies) ()

What a day yesterday was!

In the morning I found out I didn’t get that job I didn’t think I would get anyways.  Still depressing though.

Later I sent an email to get some clarification on some things about the certificate programme I intend to begin this fall.  The person I sent the email to called me to talk through some things.  I found out I had received some misinformation.  What I thought was going to be 8 week evening classes is true for the OTHER certificates, but not mine.  It will be normal 16 week classes, meeting 2-3 times per week during the day.  This makes it impossible for me to work full-time, tricky for part-time, and it doubles or triples my commuting expenses.  ALSO all of the classes have to be taken sequentially.  Meaning what I thought would be a one-year programme, is really going to be 2 years.  I really didn’t want to take that long to receive a certificate.  This also means that since I would not be able to take more than one class at a time, I would not qualify for FAFSA.  I would have to get a private loan, which would mean I would be paying on the loans while I am studying on less income because I would not be able to work full-time.  *sigh*

After this I get to my homework.  I have lots to do for class that night because I could not get how to do it every other time I tried to tackle it.  Our instructor insisted she already taught us this stuff and merely went over it as review.  So homework was an incredible struggle for me and I even had difficulty working problems I should know.

After class I asked the instructor if we will be able to squeeze everything in before the end of the course.  We are on the syllabus to cover 3 more chapters and take 3 exams in 3 weeks.  We are 2 weeks behind.  She responds, “Definitely not.  There is no way.”  I ask if I will be ready for calculus after this class because that was my intent.  She screws up her face and says, “I can’t think of a single thing in this class that would have you ready for calculus!  This is more for physics!”  When I enrolled I told them I needed a class to have me ready for calculus and this is what they said I needed to take.  I’m not really sure if she has her facts straight because no one else thought it odd that I was taking Trig to be ready for calculus.  But anyways…*sigh*

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