Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Category: Health

Monthly Expenses – January 2018

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without breaking the bank. The less money you spend, the less you need to make. 🙂 That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is camper, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free, wherever we end up.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits.

Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state, it will be expensive! For check-ups, we both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

We finally did it... We stayed under $1000. A good start for 2018. But, it was an unusual month. Most of January, Mark and I stayed in Newburyport, Massachusetts, instead of San Diego, California, to take care of his parents. So much for a warm winter! On a financial note, life is generally cheaper there (except for wine), our plane tickets were "bought" with miles, fuel and parking were paid for, and the grocery costs were shared.

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On Call for Three Weeks

Things weren’t looking great for my mother-in-law by the time I arrived in Boston, the first week of the year. My husband Mark jumped on a plane a few days earlier, because listening to her ordeal from afar without being able to help was frustrating. When it comes to health care (and many other things), one needs to stay on top of everything, following up on procedures, discussions, plans, and promises. When the person who usually is in charge of that ends up hospitalized, someone else has to step in and be present to advocate. Full-time. We already lost a precious week over the Christmas period, because of misconceptions, wrong actions and holiday (non-)schedules. All out of the family’s control.

After being bed-ridden and connected to a plethora of machines for a month, screens being monitored and tubes being adjusted every 20 minutes, the good news arrived. Continue reading

The Act of Swapping Coasts (in the US)

I wake with a start. Natural light enters the bedroom. Something is terribly wrong. I fumble to look for the time. “Oh no, it’s 7:45. My plane leaves in 30 minutes. There is no way I can make it!” This is my worst nightmare.

I wake with a start. It is pitch black in the room. We never close the shades. I relax the smallest bit. It is supposed to still be dark when I need to get up, but also when I need to leave. I fumble, grab my glasses and flip the lid of my iPad. It is 4am. I sigh. Plenty of time. The dogs stir against my body. I double-check the alarm setting: 5:30am. I double-check the volume: all the way up. I only have one alarm without Mark by my side. I asked him to call me on Skype at 9am EST (6am my time), in case I overslept. Of course, my iPad is on “sleep mode” whenever I am, so someone trying to reach me will be useless.

There is no way I can fall asleep again after that dream. Around 5am, I do doze off. Wait, was that a plane flying over the house? They usually don’t start until 6:30! Oh no. Maybe it was one landing? Or, a delayed departure from last night? I am wide awake now. 5:20am. I might as well get up. I send a quick email to Mark – I’m up! Don’t worry about calling me. – and to the home owner’s mother. She requested the contact info of the helpful guy – a friend of the owner – who will take over our house sitting duties for two weeks. Time to get ready! I have 45 minutes, so don’t have to rush. Sandwiches were made and put in the fridge last night; plenty of snacks are packed. After the “blizzard of the century” in New England yesterday, I am prepared for the worst. With record low temperatures, massive snowfall, and heavy wind gusts in Boston, I expect delays getting there.

My last shower without the heat on. I eat breakfast, do the dishes and call Elvis and Frida. They are not used to getting up this early and lay together, huddled under the bed covers. They have moved from their previous spot to where I slept. Warm and cozy. I wake them and feed them. “Come on, buddy.” I try not to lose my patience. Usually, Elvis gobbles his medicines up without any issues. The pill is covered with fresh, organic peanut butter.  He manages to spit it out. I smear more peanut butter on it. Nope! I’m running out of time. The third attempt is the charm. Down goes the pill, with more peanut butter. Three servings of peanut butter. He gets away with it!

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Day Trips around Santa Fe, NM – Bandelier National Monument

New Mexico state has so many natural and cultural treasures, that when the weekend approaches, Mark and I are filled with excitement and the promise of wonderful excursions. We pack our camper van up and only have to drive an hour or two to reach enough sites to fill days. Of course, we only have two of those a week, and, after a tiring work week, immediately getting on the road Friday night is not the way we like to approach our time off. Instead, we have a glass of wine and a snack, make an ever-pleasing vegetarian pizza, and put a few things in the camper before picking up the mail or in between watering the plants.

On Saturday, we have a not-to-early start and depart to our destination, in this case, Bandelier National Monument, NW of Santa Fe. Continue reading

Then and Now – Yoga

This is my last “Then and Now” post for the time being, and I think it is perfect for Wordless Wednesday as well! 🙂

Then – San Blas Islands, Panama, 2012

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Weight Loss Experiment – Take 1

In November, I did a case study. Of myself. After months of staring at massive bathroom mirrors and the reflection being exactly the same, I remained disgusted and could not deny the horrible truth anymore: I am (getting) fat. For months, I thought all the scales in the houses we took care of were wrong. Yes, I was that naive. Until recently, when facing – and admitting to – reality. It boils down to this: I am not all-around fat; it just has accumulated in certain spots. My body has been disproportionate for a decade: skinny on top, bulky on the bottom. Recently, the bulkier parts can be labelled fat and some new areas of concern have appeared.

People that have known me for a long time are probably raising their eyebrows reading a post about weight loss… coming from me! Most of those people have probably not seen me in a while either. Yes, I was skinny as a teenager and happy with my weight in my twenties and thirties. Sure, I was still OK wearing bikinis on our boat two years ago, ignoring the emerging belly fat, attempting to sit up straight when in company. And then, I turned 40. I like to blame the unruly weight gain on my age, but it might have to do with Mark and I swapping our challenging boat life for a more sedentary and comfortable house sitting life as well. Food is readily available in a plethora of varieties now. Sitting behind the computer all day and eating more western food probably didn’t help. Despite going for a decent walk almost daily, I gained 10 pounds in the last year… How do I get rid of that, at this age, with temptations everywhere? Continue reading

H is for Health

Day 8 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad

“Your health is the most important thing in life,” my paternal grandmother told me (in Dutch) when I was a teenager. I looked at her and shrugged. I had much more important things going on, like making sure that my friends and boyfriend liked me.

“You are so right about seeing the world while you are still young,” my maternal grandmother said, when my nomad behavior was frowned upon by everyone else. “So many people wait until they are too old and their health is not what it used to be,” she wisely added. I was in my twenties and I agreed with her. About my age being perfect for living outside the box, ignoring the possible health issues part. I kept traveling.

Good health is required to hike in the tropics

Good health is required to hike in the tropics

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How to Get Spoiled with a Tasty, Healthy and Affordable Dinner Every Night?

Cooking asparagus and shrimp

Cooking asparagus and shrimp

The answer: marry Mark. But, since Mark is already taken – sorry ladies – try marrying someone who loves to cook, someone who cares about healthy food, someone who is as frugal as you and someone who is creative in the kitchen. Ideally, all these someones are one and the same! In appreciation, you can do the dishes and, to keep the scrumptious meals coming, take care of the shopping as well. 🙂 Continue reading

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