Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Blitzkrieg Christmas Update

Sorry for the lack of posting. For the two of you actually reading this, that is.

The job continues to rock. I go in every day, driving down the highway saying, "Thank you for such an awesome job, God!" The people continue to be nothing but awesome. I have no illusions that they're perfect. But they rock and that's evident. So I continue training, reading, starting out some documentation. It's all good.

So after one whole week of work (and only 40 hours, mind you!), I got a 2-day work week for Christmas! Same thing for New Year's week. Only two days. I was joking with my new coworkers going, "Whew! I really NEED a vacation!"

We had Lil'Bro's big birthday party on the Friday before Christmas. We had a great turnout and he had a blast. The next day, most people were leaving or prepping for Christmas so I think we lucked out picking Friday.

Because of my new job in the city, I knew I'd never get up home in time to get the boys to the party in time. So mom picked up the cake and brought that (and the gift bags) to the party place. Then my awesome friend TJ (the one that was recently in the hospital with that scary lung infection) picked up the boys and took them to the party. I got there just in time and everything went perfectly! Thank goodness for awesome family & friends!

I've had a tummy bug all Christmas week. I never yarfed. But felt like it. It's like constant car sickness - I'm hungry but everything I look at makes me nauseated.

My awesome mom watched my boys on Mon & Tue while I worked. On Monday, Pokemon Boy ended the day hurking. He spent that night at my mom's house getting up to yarf about 5 times. Then on Tuesday, mom was driving dad to a doctor's appointment - boys in tow. Lil'Bro announced he didn't feel well and christened the back of mom's minivan. Man, talk about un-fun. She dropped dad off and took the boys home to clean them and the minivan up. Poor mom! She called my awesome neighbor, MissK, and asked her to pick dad up at the doctor. And if I haven't mentioned it before, my neighbors ROCK. She drove over and picked up my dad - no problem. Later, I thanked her and she said, "Hey, that's what we do, right? We help each other." Right on, MissK. Right on.

On the way home from Grandma's, Lil'Bro decided to wear his bucket like this:
Prompting Pokemon Boy to wear his similarly:
Both of the boys and I have been nauseated off and on the whole week. We have moments where we eat normal and then feel like punk. We went to church for Christmas Eve candle light service. I told the boys not to touch babies and to wash their hands all the time. We didn't eat much but loved the service and fellowship of our awesome church family.

Stockings and Santa gifts all set for the next morning.

We were functional enough to have Christmas. That was awesome. But during the present opening, my sinus headache turned to migraine. I caught it with meds just in time, I guess. I napped for 2 hrs while mom again watched the boys. It stayed at a dull roar for the rest of the day until about 8pm. Good times. But like I said - I was functional. Not very. But it could have been WAY worse.

The boys opening their stockings.

Mom & dad avoided the tummy bug (thank you, God!) but mom developed a sinus infection that really knocked her out. So we were all almost on empty.

Today, the boys and I went to use some of their Christmas money and/or gift cards. Then grocery shopping. When we got home, the boys played outside for a while. Now, we're all kind of low and void of color. It will pass. We're just low. Not miserable.

But even with all the pseudo-sick, we had a very relaxed and stress-free Christmas.

Oh - and I'm sick of being nauseated. So I have broken down and taken the advice of my aunt Brenda. My mom's two sisters and their kids swear by the remedy of cider vinegar for tummy bugs. When she first told me to try it, even ice water made me want to puke. So I didn't try it. But today I was tired of this. So I called her and said, "Ok...exactly what do I do?" So while my aunt played Wii, she told me to take a tablespoon of cider vinegar, mix it with a little water and swig it down. Which I did. Not as awful as I expected. I don't know if it's doing anything yet. We'll see. I'm still bloated from who knows what. It seems that any sugar/carb based anything seems to feed whatever bug this is and I bloat painfully. So I sit here typing this with a distended belly.

Ok, I'm off to watch more cartoons with my boys and then get them to bed. I still have to prep the watermelon and cantaloupe for church tomorrow.

Smooches, y'all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The New Job (A Day Late)

This should have been posted yesterday. But it was crazy and exhausting so I'm posting it today. I'm also cheating by cutting and pasting what I put on Facebook. Sue me.

Monday, Day 1:
Dudes, I hope you appreciate this. I am so friggin' tired. And sore. But very happy. I put down the iPod, got out of bed, fired up the computer and am typing this update because I can't type this much with two fingers.

I woke up at 5:15am. Unless you know me, you really can't appreciate the miracle here. I am not a morning person. I'm not sure who invented mornings. But they were mean and hateful. I got my kids up 50 minutes before they normal get up. And this, after a late (but awesome) night at church.

I dropped the boys off at day care at 6:30am. The boys weren't thrilled about it but they are troopers. They know "mom has a job" trumps "I hate early mornings".

I left the day care around 6:45am which misses the hellish rush hour. I made it downtown by 7:15am. I parked on the 8th floor of a state employee parking lot which I thought had no elevators (this will come to play later).

I got to the orientation conference room at 7:33am - way early. A really cool lady dragged me into her office saying, "Tell me who you are, where you came from and what you're going to be doing here!" She rocked. She must have had like 17 cups of coffee. She was from NYC so we bonded on the north-eastern-chicks-rock thing.

Orientation started at 8am and went to about 11am. We got a quick tour of the building which included some huge room where they were prepping a Christmas party - complete with amazing smelling BBQ!

11:30am - my new boss came to get me for lunch. And proceeds to take me to the afore mentioned really amazing smelling BBQ room. So on my first day, I got to participate in the IT Christmas party. Sweeeeeeeet!

Later, I had to register my car for the free state employee parking (woot!). So I ran up the 8 flights of stairs in the parking lot to get my registration from my car. Well, I ran up about 5 flights and then pretty much dragged myself up the last 3, gasping like the out of shape suburban mom I am.

The rest of the orientation lasted until about 4:00pm. Complete with a video outlining one of the agency's procedures. All my former Big Financial Corporation coworkers will enjoy conjuring visions of all of the "superbly acted" corporate education videos we endured. Seriously, the kids in the Peanuts cartoons can read their lines better than these. It was a hoot. It had this horrid screeching string quartet as the "incidental music". The poor instructor looked like he was going to put knitting needles through his ears. He said he has to listen to that video EVERY Monday. He's a musician and now refuses to play his own violin. HA! Anyway, made me recall many hours of corporate videos over the last 22 years.

I got to see my supply closet ala 'Office Space'. I think tomorrow, I will bring my own stapler and clutch it to my chest all day.

I don't really care. They created a space for me. I share this little supply closet with two other people. The one I met is awesome. I asked her if she was ok with me bringing in my 'Precious Moments' figurines and could she help me figure out where to place them. She laughed hard which gives me great hope.

Also, my new boss is super nice. When I would tell people who I was working for, they'd all go, "Oh he is like the nicest guy!" And apparently knows his stuff. I'm told my new PM is quick thinking, very focused and doesn't like excuses or drama (those last two are his words). I told him I just finished swimming in a shark tank. I can hack it. We'll see if I can still swim.

Everyone I met today seems really nice. I'm sure there are the usual mix of characters and personalities.

The benefits rock. Health, dental, wellness initiatives, optional life and all that stuff. The official state holidays we get off are great. Plus, they just this year started giving "early release" days on a schedule. So you can know that you'll be released after 4 hrs on, say, Dec 23rd. So you can actually PLAN something in stead of being told 3 seconds before it happens. VERY cool.

Clothes are "business casual" but on Fridays, it's "jeans and tennies". I'm quoting. I'm not sure I own "tennies" but my pink Chucks will have to suffice.

I have not been around an IT group this calm in...well...EVER. There are stress times, don't get me wrong. But not like the sweat shops most of me and my IT pals are used to. They don't like you to work OT. If you do, you get COMP TIME! What is THAT about?! I told them, I just finished working for a company that thinks working 40 hrs a week is slacking. Can you imagine? I'm in heaven.

Oh and here's a chuckle: So when I left for the day, I walked up those 8 flights of stairs again. I was dying. As I drove out of the parking lot, I pass a big sign on the wall: "ELEVATOR-->". DOH!!! one is done. It's a 12 hr day for my boys. That's my only regret. But they'll get used to it and I will make sure the weekends are family time. They're going to let me work 7:30a-4p with a 30 min lunch. I opted for 30 mins in stead of an hour so I could leave and miss the worst of the rush hour and have more time with the kids doing homework and such.

I think this is going to rock. I'll let you know.

Tue, Day 2:
I'm still loving it. I'm being introduced to a gazillion people and only remember about 3. I'm doing a lot of reading and getting overviews from people. Everyone is being extremely generous with their time. Their tools & software are a bit different but similar to what I've used before. So nothing (so far) is making me think I'm out of my element. I just want to do a really good job. This state agency is one of the best. So I want to help by adding to the "cream of the crop" thing.

The funniest adjustment for me today was returning to Windows after a year on a Mac. Outlook is way different since I last used it in...oh...when did we can that? Maybe 2002? But hey, if that's the worst of it, I'll do ok.

All in all - WOO HOO!!!

Thanks to everyone for praying for me. Thanks for all of the encouraging notes on here or in emails. Thanks for the text messages and phone calls today. I did see everyone's texts today but couldn't really justify replying ("Hi, I know it's my first day but let me just reply to my friend..."). And tonight, my bro-in-law and niece just got in so I went from work to day care to my mom & dad's house. Then I got home and tossed the boys in bed. I was in bed before 9pm. But decided to come down and type all of this for those that care for way too many details.

You all rock. I'm so lucky to have such an amazing cheering section!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Christmas Miracle for Donnie!

Back in May, I told you guys about a friend of a friend named Donnie. He's my age (so mid-40s) and has lived this long with Cystic Fibrosis. Not many people from my generation with CF made it past 20. So he's a miracle already.

Since May, Donnie's lungs have worsened. The prospect of a transplant happening in Boston was getting more and more bleak. His doctors were suggesting he head to Pittsburgh where they do many more lung transplants. So this was what everyone was gearing up for.

Prayers for Donnie were recently renewed and/or stepped up. I know in my case, I started pestering God hard-core!

This morning, I logged on to Facebook to find an update from my friend Michelle saying Donnie had been called in for a transplant and was in surgery!!! Oh my GOODNESS!!! I mean, seriously, what are the odds?!

Since this morning, his family has posted that he made it through the surgery well. I think he's off a ventilator already which is amazing. He will be in a medically induced coma for a week or so so that his new lungs can adjust.

Here's a picture his mom snapped through the glass. It makes it so real for me and - even with all the machines in there - it is the most beautiful and hopeful image!

Right now, we're all praying big time. He still has recovery and possible rejection to deal with. I have no doubt God kept him alive all this time and will carry him through this!

Michelle also very wisely reminded me that we should pray for the donor family. Here we are all out of our minds excited that Donnie is receiving these miracle lungs right before Christmas. This is wonderful news. But when we pause a minute, we remember that these miracle lungs had to come from someone who died. And right before the holidays.

I hope that donor family knows that their loved one's donation is saving a life and bringing untold joy to his whole family. I'm hoping that maybe all of the other donor's organs are also saving other people.

Such a mix of emotions when you look at the big picture. But it renews my desire to donate any of my viable parts when I pass.

Thank you God.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Job Has Been Approved! WOOT!

So I officially have a job. Well...I guess it's not official until I sign a bunch of papers with HR some time later this week. But today I received the call that the job offer was approved by all levels of approver type people and I'll be hearing from HR soon.

I cannot TELL you what a huge relief this is. This is - in my humble opinion - God rockin' a huge year of blessing. Wanna see?
  • I was laid off in January and took the summer off to hang with my kids.
  • I used my time off to hone my resume writing & figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up.
  • I only started looking for a job (for real) in August.
  • The average job search takes 4 months and mine only took a smidge over that.
  • I only used my "networking" skills twice - which all the outplacement people tell me should have been the kiss of death.
  • I applied to about 102 jobs through a myriad of different online job search engines.
  • I probably only got phone interviews for 4 of those jobs.
  • My severance lasted would have run out in this next January.
  • I've kept my house.
  • I've paid off all non-house debt.
  • I've been able to fund birthdays for two boys this year.
  • I've been able to fund a pretty decent Christmas.
  • I have been able to both tithe and give out of my surplus all year long.
  • Even when things looked bleak and my hope waned, I knew I had friends and family that would risk our friendships by letting us move in (if the worst case happened).
  • All the while, I received phone calls, emails, Facebook comments, etc., from friends, family and blogger pals telling me they were praying. Telling me it would work out. Encouraging me to never give up. I cannot TELL you how much that part mattered. If you prayed and encouraged me? I am asking God to heap huge gobs of blessings on you and your family.
I have been blessed beyond measure. I have been scared out of my mind at times. But God never left me. Even when I doubted and asked him just what the heck he was doing.

So God has rocked me a state job with some pretty cool people. And in a state agency that helps the schools. An actual job I like to do, in a city I love, for a company that I feel good about.

I'm not sure how many times I can keep saying God rocks. But he does!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I Have A Job! ...I think...

I've been a bit busy. Thanksgiving was awesome. I hosted my parents, BigSis and her TallGuy. Not having to work is the key to a stress-free Thanksgiving. Or at least it is for me.

The week before Thanksgiving week, I had an interview for a job. Like all of my other interviews, it went well. And like all of the other times, I didn't get my hopes up. I have spent the last few weeks, admitting to God that I'm terrified and full of doubt and really am wondering just what it is He's doing with this whole situation. I fluctuate between absolute faith and thinking he must be teaching me some lesson where I'll have to walk through fire. But I found that finally telling God that I'm really scared and having trouble trusting him helped. Kind of got that guilty feeling off my chest.

So for the week of Thanksgiving, I didn't worry about it.

When this past Monday rolled around, however, I had trouble motivating. I couldn't face having to apply for jobs I didn't want. I couldn't face reading through job listings going, "Oh, I've already applied for that one." So I did what any strong person would do. I climbed back in bed and hid under the covers. If I'm asleep, I can't worry or feel guilty. I ignored my constantly vibrating cell phone. And when my house phone rang, I almost didn't get up to answer it. Almost.

I answered the phone to hear the nice man who interviewed me last week. He proceeded to tell me how well I had done in the interview and subsequent test. And would I like the job? Hmmm...would I like a job...let me think about that one. I nearly screamed! Yes! I'll take it! He told me a little bit about it and could I fax him this or that. I honestly don't remember what he said because I was busy silently jumping up and down.

I called my parents. I called BigSis. I posted it on Facebook. Everyone I knew was informed within the hour.

But I may have jumped the gun.

You see, when they offer you the job, it would seem that you have the job. Not so. When they offer you the job, you have said you would like the job. Then they have to see if upper management will approve it. This is where one previous job offer tanked on me a few weeks ago. When I realized this, my heart kind of sank again. But not too horribly. God's got it. This one really does seem like it's a done deal. But until I have it in stone, I'm not counting any chickens.

Yesterday, I went in to meet with my potential future 2nd-level manager. It went well, I think. So hopefully the approval process has moved up to the two people above him. They wanted me to start this coming Monday. I'm not sure they can get the approvals and paper work done in time. But I'm operating on the assumption that, come Monday, I will be sitting in traffic, honing my road rage skills.

So...I have a job! Kinda...