Thursday, February 26, 2015

I don't know why or how it came up, but for some reason the book "The Giver" came up in a conversation with Brennan.  Since neither of us have read it and he'd never even heard of it I can't fathom how its existence came to be spoken about by us, but Brennan was intrigued by what I thought the book was about and checked it out at his school library the very next day, yesterday.

He wanted me to add it to my reading out loud routine, but I have a hard enough time being consistent with even one book at a time.  But I picked it up and began reading it myself while the kids were getting ready for bed and despite taking a break to get some things done, finished it about 1am.  On a work night, meaning I had to get up extra early this morning.  Meh.  Who ever said growing older is the same thing as growing wiser. ;-)  Anyway, the thought provoking concepts were in my dreams and on my mind all day today.  I related several of the characters to my children, and interestingly the character Asher and my own Asher seem to have a lot of similarities, particularly about standing out for being well liked.  I am excited to start quoting now, "Asher, thank you for your childhood", in my case because he's delighted me with his. :-)  I nearly cried for the neighbor boy known for being scattered and disheveled - who couldn't get the hang of all the rules regarding order and "perfection".  I worried for his future, about his label in that community because he sounded just like my dear Brenny.  Anyway, enough book review.  It's just what's on my mind today.

I was started on some new stuff at work today.  Spent a good part of the day watching tutorials and learning stuff about Customer Relationship Management and Marketing.  Cool beans.

So I'm at a sort of crossroads right now about what to pursue, if anything.  Ugh.  Crossroads.  I was more and more liking the idea of pursuing a Master's in Speech Pathology with the hope of working as a pediatric speech therapist in a private practice.  There are many pros to that path, but the cons are the amount of time until completion and the accumulation of more student loans.  On the other hand, I'm already being trained in some skills at my job at Underwater Audio, which means I'm being PAID to learn - the opposite of college.  And I already enjoy what I'm learning and doing right now.  So that sounds good, however I KNOW I can't go terribly far where I am and the earning potential is not as much - we all want to earn more per work hour, right? Not to mention what's the point of working just to pay for the childcare? And I can't be sure what I'm learning at UA will transfer anywhere else.  I may want or need to pursue a marketing degree anyway, putting me back where I started.  What to do, what to do...

I think this is the first time in my life I'm being faced with BIG decisions and struggling over them.  For many it's what college/major (the first time) and who to marry.  I chose the only church school to accept me.  I didn't agonize over marrying Brian, I knew I wanted to and knew he'd be a stable, loving, eternal companion.  Easy peasy.  I didn't struggle about whether or not to serve a mission... I've just gone along in life with the routes that pleased me most.  I mean, I pray about my decisions and tried to be ready should I be warned about wrong courses, but I've never STRUGGLED over any decisions.

Until now.  I'm late in the game I suppose but apparently I'm not getting away scott-free in this life as I was beginning to think.  I've come to realize I don't care much for the tough choices.  (Which is what made "The Giver" so meaningful to me right now, I suppose.)

The kids are all doing very well.  Brennan finished his OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books) competition, which means as a parent coach, so have I.  Whew.  It was fun, but became sort of a bother.  I'm always torn between the guilt of not volunteering at the kids' school, and the guilt of getting friends to babysit so I CAN help at school.  Now that I'm calling in so many more babysitting favors I've started sucking it up and taking the littles with me when I do things at the school.  On the plus side, they're a hit among staff and students alike.  Brennan's piano lessons are coming along.  As the weather gets nicer its harder to get practice time in because he relishes his time with friends outside so much, and I hate to decline his requests to play OUTSIDE like we're supposed to let/make our kids do more of, as a rule.  But he'd doing very well with it.

Asher is doing well also.  Not really anything I can think of to report about him.  He loves his Sunday School teacher very VERY a lot (that's an Asherism).  Not like a crush, he just loves her.  You know, this reminds me of his blankie.  What I mean is, Asher had no special attachment to anything in particular until he was about 3 or so when, in preparation for a trip to Idaho, I planted the seed in his mind that this one blanket was special.  I named it blankie, I talked about it being HIS blankie and he bought it hook, line, and sinker.  From just that little seed I planted he immediately took it as if, "duh", it's always been his blankie.  He still cherishes it as his favorite.  In this case, I only had to suggest how lucky he was to have Sister Neuffer as his teacher, that I liked her very much and thought he would as well.  And bam, a special friendship was born.  Of course he has received special comfort from her during class when he was very upset once, and because he invited her to his birthday party, she stopped by to visit with him on his birthday and give him a little gift.  Those efforts didn't hurt, or course.  And they certainly solidified Asher's feelings!  I just adore seeing him love his church teacher, lol.

Hollyn, dear sweet Hollyn.  She's doing well too.  Knock on wood, but I think the terrible twos/threes are about over.  At least when it comes to messes and getting into things.  As she gets older and more capable she gets more helpful and obedient as well.  Still three, of course.  But I think the worst is over for now.  I am loving the progress she's made in various areas.  When she started preschool - at the youngest age of any of my kids so far - I was concerned because she'd be with 4-5 year olds who can write their names and everything.  She not only couldn't write, she still just scribbled when she colored, she didn't know color names, I don't think she recognized any numbers/letters yet (now I can't remember, she may have known a couple) and I'm not sure she could count perfectly to 10.  Not out of lack of brightness, just out of lack of time from Mama focusing on those things with her.  She started preschool and all of a sudden a couple weeks later I realized she could draw stick figures, she could write much of her name without help, could count to 20 almost perfectly, and knows her colors.  So she's really taking off and I'm enjoying watching it.

Kieran and his ears!  We took care of a pretty bad outer ear infection and he's a happy, chill little dude again.  But the poor guy is always alternating every few weeks between happy, perfect baby and grouchy, pained, clingy monster.  Don't you wish they could tell you when and where their aches and pains are?  Kieran still isn't saying a whole lot in English.  He says Mama and just recently Uh Oh, as well as Ball and Balloon.  And that's about all I can think of.  The rest is still Kieranese.  He has a lot of babble-sounds and sequences that are repeated so they may mean certain things for which I have no idea.  Or maybe they're just his favorite sounds to make.  Regardless, it's cute.  I sure love my little Kier-Bear Snuggle Bug.
I had heard Brennan sleep walk last night, but was still surprised to find him here when I came up to go to bed myself.

Receiving some beads at the Blue and Gold Banquet

 I was in charge of decorations for a YW activity of an Unusual Talent Show.  I bought balloons knowing they'd be donated to my children (particularly Kieran and ball/balloon King) afterwards, and sure enough he cried when I took them to do the decorating.  They returned of course and they're the first things Kieran goes for when he wakes up.  With four of them floating around there's always been one for Kieran to grab as he goes by, especially when I'm carrying him. :-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My quick story needs some context:

I've been waking up on my own lately around the same time as I get up for work now.  But after being up in the middle of the night last night with a tummy issue I was still sound asleep when my alarm DIDN'T go off this morning.  Over an hour later than I was supposed to arise I bounded out of bed to get the boys ready and find them a ride to school after missing the bus.  I did not spend the time getting gussied up for the day, we'll put it that way.  I showered, but no hair product or makeup.

After work as I walked to my car I passed a man (homeless perhaps) on his bike who stopped when he got to me.

"Can I ask you a question?" he asked
"Sure" I replied, smiling friendlily despite my apprehension.
"Well besides the fact that your blue sweater looks really nice with your reddish hair and your pretty face..." he trailed off blushing a little and chuckling at his forthright complements.
I laughed as I thanked him and joked "besides that though..."
And he finished, "but do you know what time it is by any chance?  I can't see the courthouse clock from here."

Not bad for a plain-Jane day. :-)

In the last three times I've walked to my car after work I've given my last $2 in cash to a homeless couple, a pen to another homeless couple making their cardboard sign, and now the time to a random man with excellent taste. ;-)  Working downtown can be interesting.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

♫♪ Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes.. .♪♫

♪ (turn and face the strain...) ♫

Well life got pretty crazy for me.  I can't even wrap my mind around how I'm going to do this.  But, challenge accepted!

I needed a job.  I applied several places and looked around for something I was qualified for - not much at this point.  A B.S. in Psychology/Sociology don't get you nuthin'.  It didn't look particularly hopeful, except maybe going back to Kmart like my high school days.

During a visiting teaching visit I mentioned my job search to my "sister" and the place she works came up.  I knew many people who work at Underwater Audio, but nothing about them except that they sold waterproof ipods or something like that.  Meh.  I envisioned mostly sales and/or customer service phone jobs so I wasn't interested initially.  But my friend said her job was a "Button Pusher" - she literally pushes buttons for her job.  I thought, "that sounds incredibly boring, but I've always been comfortable with boring actually.  I like just getting lost in my thoughts."  Right after I got home from that visit my friend emailed and said, "We're hiring right now and scheduling interviews for next week..." (this was a Thursday)  "...Email your resume and last school's transcript to xxxx..."

Transcript?  Um, why?  Apparently they use that to see if you're a hard worker or something.  BAM.  My resume is bleak from having been home for the last 10 years.  But my transcript?  I graduated with a 3.94 GPA, Magna Cum Laude.  I wish I could send that to other places instead of a resume, lol.  Still, I had to finish that barren resume right away (!), and I sent out my first draft as a final draft early Friday morning.  That evening I saw the HR lady among many other Underwater Audio people at a baby shower actually, hahaha.  Seriously, this place employs almost entirely LDS people.  The jobs are mostly advertised by word of mouth I suspect.  I don't think they ever need to post anything.  It was pure coincidence (or was it?) that I was looking for a job and spoke to an employee during a time they are actually hiring, considering they don't advertise these available jobs.

Anyway, I was asked to come in for the interview the following Wednesday.  I still didn't know what they really do there.  I didn't really prepare for an interview because I figured I'd be a shoo-in for pushing buttons, right?  I got really nervous though because, well, it was still a job interview.  Eek!  I sat down and was given my first question and almost stood up saying "Thank you anyway for your time" and walked out.  Sigh.  I was asked to give very specific answers about experiences dealing with others in a group situation where we had to work together and problems arose.  Things like one person being confrontational or whatever.  Not what I would do, what I did do.  The specific situation.  I bet I paled visibly.  Uh, I can not think of a single time when that has occurred.  Definitely not recently.  Did he think the group setting of me and my kids at home counted?  Not only have I only been at home the last 10 years, but even the jobs before that were not group ones.  I've only had jobs where I was the underling, taking orders. And although he usually hears experiences related to school group projects - most of the employees are college students, some high school - in my case I wasn't given many group projects online and working with others that way is very, very different. (My experience was that we were basically ALL adults returning to school later in life and ALL motivated to do well, to work well together, to carry our own weight.) So I fumbled along trying to come up with experiences to answer the questions.  This wasn't going well.  But I had to say something.  Finally several questions in I mentioned something in my answer about doing my schooling online and that changed everything.  Whew.

Finally the questions ceased and  Mr. W pulled out a paper showing me a letter he'd gotten from someone because their licensed image had been used on the Underwater Audio blog and they wanted $850 for that copyright breach.  I started to worry I was being asked to take care of that, but instead was tasked with going through and investigating all the images on the blog and looking for any others that weren't public domain.  I was nodding, "O.k, sure, no problem."  but thinking "I have NO idea how you do that, or even what public domain means!"  At that point I was escorted to the HR room where it was explained what my current task was to that lady, and that Mr. W would be thinking in the mean time about where he wanted to put me long term.  And I was given the paperwork to fill out right then and there.  Soooo, apparently I was hired.  For what ultimate position I didn't know.  And I had been leaning towards going the in-home babysitting route instead of a out-of-home job.  But this one kind of swept me up in a current before I had a chance to consider the offer.  So, o.k.  I guess I had a job now.

Someone else had been having an interview before me and had been walked to the door with I think an "I'll let you know" kind of goodbye.  I was hired on the spot.  I think I was basically hired before the interview even started, I had to just not completely botch it.  I suspect that my transcript, and the fact I actually have a degree and am no longer a college student, set me up as a candidate to skip the line, so to speak.  Not only was I hired in a way that appeared "I know I want her, I just don't know which position", rather than a usual hiring for a specific position, but also the marketing department seems kind of like the elite, coveted one.  Considering my almost complete lack of job experience, and totally zilch experience in either marketing or html, it is a remarkable blessing that I have landed where I have.

Here's the scoop: this business was started and is run by a father and son team.  I used to babysit the son actually.  Never thought he'd someday be my boss, lol.  Anyway, they sell ipods that they've waterproofed, and waterproof earbuds.  That's it.  Everything is done in this building and shipped all over the world. They sell on their website and Amazon. The employees, like I've said, are almost all LDS college students.  They work flexible hours around their school schedule and the bosses are pleased with that.  Apparently they specifically wanted to create a business where college students could work to help them accumulate less debt.  Lots of people work there briefly before and after their missions, for example.  It's a great place for the limbo stages of life.  So yeah, check!  I was told I can work from home, although he wanted me mostly in the office at this point.  And he asked I work at least 15 hours a week.  A super minimal amount of hours (relatively speaking) and ability to work from home?  Where else could I have been given such a great opportunity as I enter into this working world from this complicated stage of life?  I feel really blessed by these aspects alone.

I knew my first task was technically considered being in the marketing department, but I didn't know if I'd be moved to, like, shipping or manufacturing or whatever eventually.  I arrived on Monday SUPER nervous, and was instructed in button pushing (much more complicated than I thought, actually) and worked on that until the bosses came in and I could go over what I'd learned about reverse image searching, the difficulty in locating the original source and copyright info on a given image, and the fact that I was pretty sure ALL the blog images were taken willy-nilly from Google images.  That's right ya'll, I did my research.  I'm a learner. :-)

Anyway, this is far too detailed.  What I meant to say was that everyone there seemed to have already heard the rumor that I was in the marketing department.  It was assumed that's where I was to stay even though I wasn't so sure.  But you see, I only briefly met one other person from that department and when she'd come in all the other employees were shocked.  They hadn't seen her for a while.  So apparently, the marketing people work almost entirely from home, and I think when they DO come in, they kind of do their own separate thing from the other departments which mingle with each other. So this last week, being my first, I was going in at 8:30 and being the only one in person for my department, and I hadn't met any of the others IN that department, and the bosses don't come in until after lunch.  So I felt a little out of place in a way.  I sit alone in this little messy office - the boss' office - while everyone else floats around within their own departments or helping in others, chatting and laughing as they worked.

Still, I'd say this was a great "soft-start" for me.  Because I had to wait hours for my bosses to arrive the first couple of days, I took the opportunity to make myself useful in and learn things from other departments.  This helped me meet the other employees and begin the "coworker" relationships, which wouldn't have happened if I was only at home or immediately tucked into that little office.

You know what?  I think I am really going to like it there.  I didn't know a single thing about sourcing images or copyright stuff, but I know quite a bit now.  It feels exhilarating to be learning something new and problem solving.  I didn't know how to create a link within an image caption so I was shown how to do that in the html code.  Wait, what?  That's right folks, I'm practically a computer science nerd!  I'm thinking there are more coding lessons to come.  We've encountered some design issues which the boss is still trying to solve, but I sat with him as he attempted different things, explaining to me what he was trying as he went along.  I can tell that I about to learn about a lot of things I previously didn't know at all.  And it feels wonderful to be stretching my brain in new ways.  I have never been super into housework and the daily Mom tasks.  I mean, I love the results of the work and I love the feelings of helping my kids or whatever.  But I'm definitely not compulsively drawn to these things.  I know many people who feel compelled to clean their house before they can think, for example.  I can totally ignore the mess because I'm drawn to the thinking time right away.  Like, I enjoy working out the logistics of a busy schedule and the satisfied feeling of thinking through all those details.  I like researching every.single.item I purchase to death.  I have felt SUPER stressed trying to balance my home responsibilities with 3 less week days, and SUPER stressed worrying about childcare stuff and dealing with commute time crunch.  BUT, when I've been at work, I really, really like having those hours to just learn and think and research and work.  I did not think I would enjoy "working outside the home".  I loved doing things on my own schedule, being my own boss, taking my breaks when I wanted, etc.  I always assumed I would be miserable having to live on someone else's schedule of when I can eat, when I can come and go, answering to someone else.  So I'm really surprised to find that I like my job.  Huh.  AND, an added bonus, I'm appreciating the home days a lot more too.  Because although I like my job, I still DO love the home perks I mentioned.

Kieran I think is struggling with these changes though.  He's also been sick and apparently has a pretty painful ear infection, so maybe that's the real issue.  But he's been very clingy to me lately.  I had Wednesday off after working the two days before it - my first two days - and Kieran just wanted to sit on my lap basically the entire day.  I had a TON of housework I "needed" to make up with how busy I've been lately, but I knew I had to put Kieran first.  It was nice to sit and snuggle and love on him and assure him I was here for him.

So anyway, that's my life now.  I am still trying to figure out how to do all this.  I sunk into a panicked bawl Wednesday night as I thought about how much I hadn't accomplished that day at home, and needing to go back to work the next day.  Thinking about how overwhelmed I already have been and now putting so much more on my plate.  3 days a week doesn't sound like much and isn't compared to a total, but I already feel like I'm on the verge of drowning under my responsibilities.  My calendar is booked every single day with all the places people need to be and all the tasks I'm supposed to accomplish to run a home, to manage a family.  Losing 3 week days and only having 2 for ALL appointments and housework and everything?  Ack!  I still don't know how I'm going to do it.  Thankfully, I know God is here to help me.  For starters he gave me the best Mom ever and other family and friends to help me get through this.  And I am SO thankful I found a job I can enjoy.  The people there are wonderful.  Not a single foul word or inappropriate comment.  They all talk about Institute and splits with the Elders and Conference talks and just generally good things.  They are welcoming and kind and helpful - I couldn't ask for a better work environment.  I was VERY excited to learn last Thursday that I will be staying in the marketing department and they have plans for me.  I don't know what they are, only that I will be working closely with "the kid I babysat" ;-) on these assignments which leads me to believe they don't intend for me to just write blog posts from home (which would be fine too) like most of the rest of the marketing people. I was told I'd be taught new things as I worked with the boss on whatever these assignments are. I'm super excited to move forward with that, picking up new skills and knowledge.  So scary-new changes, but also exciting-new changes.  Lots for me to do these days.  I'm getting a serious lesson in time management, lol.  Hopefully I'll learn that skill real soon.

And in the mean time, after reading all these blog posts about the merits of swimming and searching through thousands of images of pools, I'm now seriously considering becoming a swimmer. ;-)