Tuesday, September 02, 2014

First grade!

I will admit I have let the entire summer go by without a peep. I have failed to write about things big and small, good and bad,  personal and global. But I couldn't let this day go by unnoticed.

Today my Boo boy became a "real" elementary school student. Today my baby started first grade. There was still some trauma and wport on his part. And a bit of anxiety for all involved. But, today was a success. He was all smiles when I picked him up after work this evening and he was quite happy to tell us all about his day. And overall it was a good day and he is looking forward to the year. And that makes me happy.

Overall the summer was good even if it flew by. We managed to get in some beach time and some time visiting friends and family. There was no camping much to a boy's disappointment, and mine. But we did get to Knoebel's twice.
That and the fact I love my job still and have been kicking butt are the good things.

The not-so-good includes a rent hike and the need to move and everything that goes with not enough money. We will survive and are in the process of getting ready to move November first. The other potential bad is if the district will make us change schools 10 days before the end of the first making period or if we can stay where we are for the year. Our new place is only a few blocks from another elementary school in the district. We shall see....

So peace to all and may the start of new adventures be good and not scary.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Milestones All Around!

So, while lying and staring at the ceiling trying to sleep, I realized I hadn't blogged in way too long and that there have been several milestones, well a couple at any rate, since I last wrote.

I've now been at my new job six weeks.  The time really is flying.  I really enjoy my coworkers and the job.  Apparently, according to some team mates, I've been kicking butt and doing really well.  It's funny to say or think this, but I hope I'm not doing too well.  Meaning, I don't want to come out of the gates at top speed, only to falter in a few months when the long haul catches up with me.  (That, and I don't want to "show up" anyone and make them think I'm "too good" for this job.  Because, I'm not!  I just have 12+ years experience supporting customers and software and just because this job is simpler in many ways to my last one, doesn't mean it doesn't have its own challenges or is any less than the one I had.)

But, that's just a minor milestone really.  Boo's hit a couple just this week!
First off, on Sunday the 1st Boo turned 6.  Yes, you read that right, 6 years old.  I really can't believe it in some ways.  Time really has been flying right along.

We had a wonderfully full weekend that only spent part of it celebrating his birthday.  We drove out to York on Saturday morning to go to Avery's high school graduation party.  (Yeah, I can't believe that one either... I mean, I changed the boy's diapers and snuggled him into submission at nap time yesterday, right?  No?  Oh...)  Then Saturday evening we went and watched Billy in his middle school musical.  He was an Oompa Loompa in their production of Willy Wonka.  They did a great job!
Sunday, of course, was all about Boo!  He actually slept in! He opened his presents when he woke up and then we went to the diner for breakfast.  After breakfast we got to Skype with Aunt Michelle!!  (OK, so that wasn't all Boo related, but we connect when we can with our world traveler.  This is the first time Boo has had a chance to talk to her in about a year I think...)  Then we had the obligatory Dragon pictures and the final prep for the party.  We had his party at the playground again this year.  Only one of his friends he invited from Kindergarten came, but three of his buddies from daycare were there.  And Zoe-bear and Billy were there too of course.  Overall it was a great Lego themed party.  There was one incident though. :-(  When the kids were coming back to the picnic tables for cake etc from the playground poor Dom slipped and hit his face and split his gum.  /sigh  If it had been any of the other kids.... But, all turned out OK and he was just fine in the long run.  After the party it was time to go home, relax and get ready for the coming week.

(As an aside here, the new schedule has been very tough on a Boo-boy.  He isn't liking it one bit.  We were both very spoiled by our year at home together.  And even when I was working before, I was home by 5:30 and able to pick him up at daycare and we had just about an hour or so together to wind down before Daddy got home.  Now, depending on the day of the week either Steph or Rachel are picking him up from daycare since I don't get home until almost 6:30 and our time is now all hurry, hurry to get dinner, try and get a little time together and off to bed.  We're working on it, but all the changes going on are making Boo be a lot more cranky and a lot more prone to throwing the "fits" he'd throw as a two-year-old than responding as a six-year-old.  He's finally started to find the words to tell me what's wrong, but there isn't a ton I can do about some of it.  Which breaks my heart.  And tries my patience...)

The other big milestone this week?  Boo "graduated" kindergarten.  He has been so excited about this year-end program for weeks now!  He's been singing bits and pieces of the songs and just being goofy.  I laughed so hard through most of it.  He was up there with the other kids on stage being all excited and enthusiastic and doing his thing and it was great!  If this had been just a few short months ago (even as recently as December) he either wouldn't have participated at all or only half participated just a little but mostly sat and done his own thing.  What a change a few months can make!  He's too stinking cute, which is probably a good thing with his general attitude lately.  He still has school until the 18th, but it's all downhill from here.  (Although, to add to the above stresses on a boy-o, he's already begun to say he's scared of 1st grade and adding that to the list of current stress in his life adding to the cranky and making him prone to act out instead of use words...)

It was both funny and heartwarming to see Rachel's reactions to the kindergarten graduation and stepping back in the elementary school.  She graduates on the 11th from high school and I think this, even more than her fire school graduation a week ago, really made it hit home she's graduating.

There have been a few other odds and ends the past few weeks.  I got a new phone today because my old one was a little cracked and I was due anyhow.  Gak and I took Boo to Knoebel's on memorial day, just the three of us and it was wonderful.  Rachel graduated fire school and got a new job...  Oh, and how could I forget!?  My cousin Ben and his wife Jenny just had son number 3 on Tuesday!! So, on the 10th Boo and I are heading down to Baltimore to meet the new little guy and attend his Bris!

Things just keep humming along.  Now, if only I could get back to sleep.  wake up time will be here before I know it!

Peace to all and may the good things outweigh the stress of change.

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Job Check-in

So, here I am at the beginning of my second week at my new job.  I’m successfully trained on the new software I’m supporting.  I’ve actually answered my first call “out of the box” (in other words, something that came in through voice-mail or email) with a real, live customer.  I’m being useful in writing up voice-mails, and some emails, as they come in.  Maybe by the end of the week I’ll be taking live calls.  As it stands I’ll be continuing to cover voice-mails and whatever I can do out of the box.

So, what are the good parts of this job, you might ask?  And that’s a very valid question considering how much time I have spent complaining and downright whining about my old job.  (And yes, while being laid off forced me to change jobs, I still loved it in a sad way and would have done almost anything to get it back at various points, no matter how stressful, and grumpy it was at times.)  First off, I can’t say enough great things about my awesome coworkers.  sure, I had a great team at my old office, but here, it seems like everyone I meet is downright awesome.  Everyone has been so helpful and friendly.  The atmosphere here is really relaxed (for now, I know it’ll be stupid crazy come January, but that’s months away and I’ll roll with it when it gets here).  Even the dress code is relaxed.  I’ve spent enough time in the world of the Big Corp to really relish a place that lets me wear jeans, a tank, a shawllette and sandals and I’m not even the most dressed down!  (The team lead helping the guy at the desk next to me is wearing flip-flops for cryin’ out loud!)  
The software itself hasn’t been too horrible to learn at all, and is actually much, much simpler with fewer moving parts than the old software I used to support.  I’ve shown people screen shots of my old software; they shuddered thinking about supporting it.  So, yeah, I’m a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to learning things around here, but that’s OK.  There is still way more than enough for me to learn.  It’ll be at least a year before I feel like I’m truly an expert.  And trust me, I like that challenge.
Oh, and did I mention the software I now support is actually software for nonprofits to track donors and gifts and manage contacts and things like that?  Yeah.  That’s pretty feel-good in general.  And let me tell you, we’ve got clients all up and down the nonprofit spectrum.  Sure, I may not agree with some of them, but really, they’re trying to make the world a better place in their own way.  I really can’t fault people for trying to make the world a better place.

So, the downsides, there are always downsides to every good thing.  The biggest downside?  The commute.  Checking traffic at 7:00 in the morning and it would take me about 40 or 45 minutes to get here.  Check it again before leaving at 8:00, it’s up to just shy of a full hour.  Which brings me to the second downside, the hours.  I’m here from 9 until 5:30, which means I leave the house at 8:00 in the morning and don’t get home until 6:30.  Which, yes, really isn’t that much longer than for my old job, but the hours themselves are a bit of an ugh.  Because it seriously cuts into time with my Boo.  And he’s got to be picked up from his daycare by 6:00 and Gak works until 6:30 and I don’t get home until 6:30 if I’m lucky.  Thankfully we’ve got friends and family more than willing to help with that.  (So, another good thing is that Boo is getting much more time with Rachel and his other cousins…)  That doesn’t mean I still don’t feel bad about how much time I don’t get with a Boo-boy or that I feel like I’m taking advantage of friends and family.  But, they've more than stepped up and are constantly telling me it’s not a problem.
But, really, other than the commute and the hours, I’m having a hard time coming up with any downsides.  Sure, I’m not making quite what I’d hoped to be making, but it’ll do.  I can always go up from here.  The positives of this job far outweigh the negatives.  

We’re all learning and adjusting to the new schedule and trying to actually get it to become a schedule and a routine.  We’re now doing Boo’s homework in the mornings instead of the afternoons/evenings.  Trust me, both Boo and I miss our afternoons horribly, but he’s been such a trooper about it.  It doesn’t hurt that while I was out of work for over a year, I’d been working pretty much his entire life before that, other than the first 3 months.  Dinner is still being a challenge, but I’m sure we’ll figure something out that doesn’t involve lots of pre-made junk.  (With Gak and I getting home within minutes of each other, it’s really hard to have something done when everyone gets home, let alone early enough to have a bit of boy-time before bed.)

I’m very thankful to have this job, even with the challenges.  I miss my Boo time and my “me” time and my volunteer time and walking Boo to school and all of those things.  But, the short term problems will make things better for us as a family in the long run.  And, for the moment, we’re all on the same page with that, so I really can’t complain.  Mostly, I’m just thankful to be working again, and it’s such a bonus to be working with such awesome people helping people help people.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Beginnings

I've been trying to write this post for a few weeks now.
You'd think this post would be easy.

You see, I start a new job tomorrow.
And, yes, it's a job I actually want and am excited about.
But, and there's always a but, it's also going to be adding challenges to our life, even while helping with the whole money thing.  My new job is about 45 minutes away.  And it looks like, at least at first, I'll be doing 9 - 5:30, so that'll add a whole new bit of chaos when it comes to Boo and picking up from daycare.  But, thanks to friends/family, it seems to all be sorted.

And then there's the whole time that I'm loosing with Boo-boy.  I'm not sure how I was expecting to feel, but it wasn't quite this.  I mean, remember back a year ago when I was railing about feeling useless in my own home and like an intruder and that this stay-at-home mom thing was both more and less than it was cracked up to be.  Well, I've changed my mind.  Even with Boo in school now, I really don't want to trade my time with him for anything, even though it means I'll still be able to put food on the table and pay the rent and all that kind of mandatory thing.  I'm going to miss walking him to school, picking him up, working on homework with him in a relaxed way and having time together.  If I could manage to get a job that pays as much as this one is (even though it's just about 2/3 of what I was making before...) and I was only working when he was in school or over night, I'd do it.

So, right now, until tomorrow or the end of the week or more likely the end of the month, but until I get settled into this new job, the excitement of this new adventure is strongly overshadowed by all the time I'm loosing with Boo.
And with Gak.  Even though more mornings than average we'd be sitting at our own computers doing our own thing, we were together, we had the opportunity to do things together if we wished.  It was nice just to be able to hang out with my husband.

So, yeah.  This is both a very awesome thing and something that's weighing on my heart a bit.  This will seriously take some adjusting and hopefully the growing pains won't hurt too bad.

So, yes, I'm excited and anxious about tomorrow, but I'm also a little sad.  Despite all the stress over money and the whole job search thing in general, it was a pretty good 13 months overall.

Peace to all and may your new adventures be grand and your hearts not be heavy.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

One Year

Well, it's been one year and counting.  Yesterday was my one year anniversary of getting laid off.  It's had a few good moments (like the fact that I actually got a summer to spend with my boy-o) and a lot of low moments (I won't highlight those...).  Over all, it hasn't been a very positive experience.  I could say that I've learned a lot, but even that paints a happier picture, since usually learning is a good thing.

But, I'm hoping that things are on the upswing.  I've seen a lot more activity on jobs I've applied to in the last few weeks, including two actual in-person, live interviews for positions this week!  (I'd take either one, but the one I interviewed today feels like a much better fit personality and skill wise.)  While none of the jobs I'm applying for will pay me anything near what I was making at my old position, they will pay me enough to do for now.  So, I'm hopeful but with the way things have fallen apart without notice before when it comes to job offers I'm not holding my breath too hard.

Anyhow, I really don't have much more to say.  Other than happy birthday to Mom on Tuesday and my cousin Ethan today.  I really do need to write more here, I have been letting things fester a bit too much and well, it gets kinda ugly when that happens.

Hopefully, I'll be posting more positive things in the near future.  At least spring should hopefully be finally here after the very, very, very snowy and bitterly cold winter we've had.  (I don't think there was a week in January and February where the boy-o went to school every day and without any delays....)

Anyhow, I'm just kinda rambling and I need to get to bed so I can get up in the morning to do it all over again.

Peace to all and may you have good things on the horizon.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Moving On

The last time I posted I was in a very, very negative space.  While the situation itself hasn't changed a whole lot, Congress isn't even talking about EUC, I still don't have a job, that kind of thing, I'm in a bit better of a place emotionally.

It turns out that I did decide to touch the retirement accounts.  That in and of itself was very hard to do.  I don't have a lot in there, and have no hope of ever fully retiring and I know touching them will put me even further behind the 8-ball in the future.  But, hopefully I have another 30 years to worry about that.  On the one hand, while it was hard to do, I'm glad I did it.  Yes, the way the account was structured I had to take a withdrawal instead of a loan so I'll have to deal with taxes come next year.  (But, 20% of my withdrawal was sent to the IRS, so hopefully the tax hit at the end of the year will only be minimal...)  I also talked with an adviser and finally, finally rolled my savings from the Big Corp that sold us to the Other Big Corp that laid me off into an account with the same company Other Big Corp has our savings set up with.  I think I'm pretty happy with how I have things set up... I left OBC's savings plan as it was, just taking a withdrawal.  I rolled over BC's stocks that I had in their savings plan into a brokerage account with the current Financial Institute.  I then took everything else (quite a bit more than I had in OBC's plan, since I'd been with BC much longer) and put it into a fairly aggressive, but not scarily so  mutual fund.  Since it bounced back after the 2007 mess, it has been gaining at a respectable rate that is very similar to what it was doing before 2007.  And yes, this is all the detail you're going to get.  Suffice to say, I'm happy over all with my choices and feel like I have at least a small handle on what my money is doing and someone I can call with questions.

I've also managed to do my Federal taxes.  Thank you e-file!  It turns out even with my nice severance package and an entire quarter of my normal earnings, we're getting a very nice chunk of change back.  That and the withdrawal from my retirement savings let me breathe a huge sigh of relief.  Once I get the state filed, we're actually getting money back from them too.  I'm not sure about local, that's always a pot shot.

So, with a firmer, if temporary, financial footing, I can breathe at least a small sigh of relief and focus on job hunting.

There have been a few ups and downs and some more snow the past few weeks.  And the whole family has been dealing with minor, but irritating tummy troubles the last few days.  It started with a Boo-boy being sick Thursday and Daddy and I feeling a bit run over late yesterday and through today.  I'm just so thankful that Boo-boy is as easy going as he is and let Gak and I have a fairly down day today.

I've also been thinking about Gram a good bit the last few days.  Today she would have been 91.  Yeah.  I really could have used her advice, or at least her shoulder to lean on this past year.  I always could count on her for sound advice and the wisdom to know when to just let me ramble and rant away and follow it up with a hug.
I've been not saying this here, because, well, some days I'm so good at denial, I think I should live in Egypt... Anyhow, I felt like I haven't had either of my two best advisers this past year.  Yes, I'm talking about Dad.  It is so hard to have a conversation with him some days.  And I don't want to worry him, because he's so very good at worrying.  And right now, there really isn't anything he can do to help, other than worry.  So, I find myself relying on past advice and pointers and life lessons.  It's not quite the same, but it's what I'll make do with.  Like I told a friend the other day, our loved ones may physically leave us, but they never really die as long as we keep remembering them and asking ourselves how they would approach something or what advice they'd have.  I'm so thankful that I've had such wonderful advisers in my life.  Yes, Mom is on that list too, but our relationship is different that the kind of relationship I have with Dad and Gram.  In some ways Mom and I are too much alike and both too good at ignoring what we want to.

Anyhow, I'm not sure where I'm going with this.  Other than to say that life isn't quite as gray and desperate seeming as it was a few weeks ago, even if it isn't all happy and on a positive track.

Peace to all and may you have good advisers in your life who know when to listen, and know when to talk and have good advice.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hard Week

This has been a very, very hard week.  For many, many reasons.  Most of them are small and wouldn't matter a bit if things were any better over all.  This week has been like having a boulder crushing the life out of me and then pouring salt and lemon juice in the wounds, just to finish me off.  Oh, and rain.  Or at least very, very gray and foggy until yesterday afternoon at some point.
So, you can begin to see where the difficulties of the week are coming from.

I'm still unemployed.  I've applied to at least 6 jobs this week.  I've heard back from none of the jobs I've applied for in the past 10 months.  Even the very patient and helpful person at the contract agency hasn't had anything to even float by me this week.

And Congress voted not to renew EUC.  On the one hand, I can almost see some of their logic.  From the bits and pieces I've gleaned from gong through many news sources (because there is no such thing as unbiased news anymore...) is that people were trying to add things to the bill and the Democrats said "F* that!" and voted no.  I won't get started about how divided politics are around here these days.  I don't need to.  Anyone who even just listens to the news on the radio in the car will know.  Anyone who's spent 5 minutes or less on Facebook will know.  And I won't tell you how much it disgusts me, because anyone who knows me will know exactly how deep that feeling goes. But, on the other hand, the one that's actually attached to my body, I don't get it at all.  Don't they realize that by not funding this, they're hurting millions of Americans and keeping millions of dollars out of the economy?  I can't spend what I don't have, even on necessary things like groceries and gas...

Oh, and the rent was due.  And the car insurance.  And the credit card bills.  And... and... and....
And I looked at the bank account.
And I realized there wasn't going to be any money coming in until Gak gets paid next week.
And I cried.  I cried a lot actually.
I don't have enough money to pay the basic bills after this month.
Sure, I have a 401(k) plan with a good bit of money in it.  But if I touch it, I'll probably end up getting hit with taxes, but not until next April, not to mention screw any hope of retiring at any age.  And if I don't have a job by then, we'll be in even deeper trouble than we are now.
This week alone I've applied for 6 different positions.  Six.  And I've lowered my expectations of pay even further.  Because coming from a tech industry, if I don't get back to work soon, I never will.  You see, my skills are stagnating when it comes to operating systems and what's "current" in the business world.  And even if I was keeping up on things on my own, the first thing prospective employers see is that it's been almost 10 months since I last worked.  Six months is considered a long time.  A year?  Impossible.  So, while I really could use at least 2/3 of what I was making before, it looks like I may have to settle for half or less.  Which may, but probably not, pay the basic bills of this household.  And yes, I can probably lower some of those, but just by going to work, daycare will increase, gas will increase, car maintenance will increase.....  (Unless of course, somehow I get a job that'll keep me home from 11 to 7 every week day and on Saturdays as well, then at least daycare won't go up...)

So, right now I'm at the bottom of my financial, emotional and spiritual barrels.  I've almost licked them dry and I don't see much hope on the horizon.  Oh, sure, I still haven't been told "no" from the place I interviewed at in December, but, February is looking like a long time away financially.  (I really wish I'd get a yes, but you won't start until February XX or a no, we're going to go with someone else.... then I can make better plans and decisions...)

I'm just trying to take things one day at a time and keep my head above water some how.  And with all the gray and other little things piling up on me this week, it has been exceptionally difficult, almost like I imagine climbing Mount Everest as an ant would feel like.  And just as intimidating.

But, on the positive side it's sunny out today.  Cookie sales started yesterday and I have an awesome cookie mom.  So, if anyone wants to help my Girl Scout troop out, let me know.  If anyone has any miracle suggestions on any other fronts, I'm all ears.

Peace and may your barrels be overflowing with good things.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Conservative Logic?

I've had something bubbling and boiling and causing a bit of trouble in the back of my mind since yesterday when I picked Boo up from daycare.  I was listening to NPR, as I usually do when I'm in the LRH, since music and the speakers don't always play nice...

Anyhow, they were talking about the ending of extended unemployment benefits and different Congressional views on the subject.

But first, a brief recap.  Until the end of March of 2012 I worked all but two months or so total since graduating college in 1998 and even before that I worked every summer and a few hours a week in the computer lab at school.  Then I got laid off on 3/26.  I still don't have a job.

Anyhow, one of the things that was said, and made me flip my lid (it's a good thing Boo wasn't in the car yet), was that there are some conservatives out there that think that by not extending benefits it will actually get people to "search harder" for a job.

Really?  You really think that'll help?  You think having absolutely NO income will make a job suddenly appear that much quicker?  Sure, if I want to earn $7/hr flipping burgers.  I hate to tell you that, but I was making four times that when I was laid off.  Under UI I was/am still getting well more than that.  Do you want to know how many jobs I've applied to in the last 9 months?  I've lost track but at least three a week, usually several more.  Do you want to know how many I've heard back from/found a human to talk to?  less than a dozen.  How many interviews have I had?  about 5 phone interviews and one, yes 1, in-person interview in nine (9) months.  And do you know when I applied for that job that got me the in-person interview?  Over the summer.  I had the phone interview in November and the in-person one in December... and they may have a decision in February.

So, you tell me that taking away any and all safety net that I've been paying into for 12+ years is going to make me find a job faster?  So, unless Congress gets their act together this coming week, I have no idea if or when I'll ever see another UI payment again.  I do know that if I don't find something paying at least $20/hr by the end of February, I won't be able to pay rent on the apartment, pay for any insurance, phone, cable or simple things like put gas in the car of food in the stomachs of my family.  And I actually received a very generous severance package to some people I know who've been laid off in recent months....

Oh, and if you're wondering, that $20/hr is still a pretty big cut from what I was making and will make life tricky, but not impossible.