Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What to write?


I've written several posts over the last 2 weeks, but they never made it to the posting stage. When I re-read them, they felt like I was just going through the motions. The posts weren't all there, they were fragments of many thoughts running through my head at any given moment.

Since my last post, I heard back about the job I was offered back in September. The paperwork finally went through. I'll be starting on January 3.

This is great news, although I find myself feeling a little nervous about it all.

I've been working at home for the last 6 years now, until the layoff in May. I was interacting with my teammates and colleagues only via telephone or chat. Working in shorts, or sometimes even my pajamas. Being here when the kids got on the bus, and when they got home.

Everyday.

I was lucky to have that opportunity. I know that, and I tried to appreciate it every day.

Now, I'll start work an hour before Abby goes to school (so she'll attend a before-school program), and get home about 30 minutes after her sisters meet her at the bus stop.

Abby is OK with this. She's excited to see some of her classmates before school, and she doesn't seem nervous at all. She's a brave, independent kid who goes with the flow.

Me, well, I'm another story.

I know she'll be fine. Totally fine. And I will be, too. But, being the worrier that I am, I think about it.

However, I was reminded by an old friend that I should spend more time being thankful and less time sweating about the small stuff.

He's right. And I am tremendously thankful. This is a great opportunity, it's a good-paying job, and it seems like it will be a good fit for my entire family (flexible, good work/life balance, etc.)

That's exactly what I prayed for. So it isn't a work-from-home job. I guess God thinks I don't need to work at home right now. And if that's what He thinks, then that's how it needs to be.

Maybe working in an office is exactly what I need - to get my creative juices flowing again, to get me out of the house more and interacting with other people besides the kids, to change Tiffany up a little bit.

I'm a little nervous, but I'm ready.

Here's to a new beginning - and the hopes that this new job will start 2011 off with a BANG!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

*image courtesy of www.careerealism.com

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Feeling Lost

I am seeing all the comments online about the Extended Unemployment Benefits running out. Everyone has an opinion about those who are currently jobless, and this is mine, as it relates to me.

I do not want to sit around anymore, waiting for my job paperwork to complete. Seriously, what is taking so long? The company says it's normal and that they still are excited to have me join the team. But it's been 5 weeks since I turned that paperwork in. Come on.

I don't like not having a job. The house is quiet, and there's only so much laundry you can do. I want to work, and feel like I am contributing - to the family, to my place of work, to society.

I am still mad at *** for letting me, and all of my teammates, go 6 months ago. I worked hard for that *%$&*( company, I gave more than 100% and ALL my performance reviews were stellar. Why was I rewarded with a layoff notice? I know, everyone tells me - with this company it isn't personal, it's the almighty dollar. So why can't I let it go?

I am constantly struggling with my faith. I am a Christian, who tries every day to do the right thing. I try my best every day. I have a relationship with my God, and I feel I can go to Him with my troubles. But for almost 2 years now I have been praying about this - about losing my job (back when it was still a rumor) and finding a new one that was right for me.

Two years. And I am still jobless. (I know, I am not the only one. There are millions.)

So, I struggle with why? Why doesn't anyone want to hire me, or at least talk to me about hiring me? Why did *** let me go? Why is this prayer that I so desperately need answered being shelved?

I know, patience. It will happen when it's supposed to happen. My head knows it and my heart knows it, too.

It doesn't keep me from hating the situation I'm in, and wondering what else I can do to get my foot in the door somewhere.

I have applied for at least a hundred jobs since we moved here. I think I've had 4 interviews.

I am frustrated. I am crazy with emotion. Mostly, I feel lost. I have never, in 17 years, had to struggle to find a job. Never. This is new territory and I am not handling it well.

I guess that the upside is that, despite my feelings about the job situation or lack thereof, life otherwise is pretty great.

Now if I could just start working already. "Right Job for Tiffany", can you PLEASE hurry up and find me? PLEASE?

Happy Wednesday all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alissa got her learner's permit yesterday...


Yesterday I took Alissa to get her learner's permit. She's been talking about it for months, but because of the timing of the move, she couldn't get it when she was 15 1/2.

We've been trying to go for a couple of weeks now, but things keep getting in the way and the place is only open until 5 pm. Plus, the DMV that's practically around the corner is closed indefinitely. So, yesterday we drive to the next-nearest DMV, which is about 7 miles away. However, because traffic is perpetually bad here, it took us about 20 minutes to get there. We still had plenty of time before closing.

We get there, talk to the receptionist and receive a number and wait for that number to be called.

***By the way, is this a new process? Talk to someone and tell them why you're there before you can actually receive assistance? The pharmacy, the deli at the commissary, the vehicle registration place on post all do this now. If this is the new process, at least make sure the person on "Explanation Duty" is cordial. There's nothing like having to explain your case to a grouch.

Anway, we wait patiently for our turn to be called. When we're called, we present our folder of paperwork verifying that Alissa is who she says she is.

HALT!

They don't accept our lease agreement as proof of residency because there is a line crossed out, neatly, and corrected underneath. (It is our owner's new address, which honestly shouldn't count because it has nothing to do with the Heffners.) Anway, they say they can't accept it as proof, so we spend 35 minutes driving home to get a utility bill with my name on it. Because, as Alissa's guardian and partner in this expedition, I also have to prove that I am who I say I am, and that we are allowed to petition for a Virginia license.

We rush back to the DMV, and catch a little traffic (again). Blech. We explain our situation to the new "Explanation Duty" clerk (they must take turns or something) and receive a new number.

We're called fairly quickly, by a new person who takes our new paperwork and enters it into the computer. Five minutes later Alissa is called to the Test Center (a cubicle at the end of the room) where she stands at a computer to take the test. (I can see her standing because they have a mirror on the ceiling so they can make sure the students aren't cheating.) However, I don't understand the no-sitting policy. Weird.

Anyway, 10 minutes later she emerges, and talks to the test attendant to let him know she's done. She turns to me and motions "come here". I know then that she's passed and my eyes start to tear up.

My firstborn is legally allowed to drive. On the road (with a licensed driver).

Every milestone she reaches is also a milestone for me. She's my first child, so every thing she does for the first time I also do. (OK, not everything. But most important "firsts" I am also present for.)

It's bittersweet.

She's a responsible kid. Caring, compassionate, gets decent grades and tries her best. I know she'll be a great driver.

And, as a funny aside, her best friend in the world got her Virginia license yesterday. And, to top it off, Alissa will be eligible to become a licensed driver in 9 months, on August 18. August 18 is that best friend's birthday.

It's a sign. (To me, anyway.) Yesterday was supposed to be the day she got her permit.

And she did.

CONGRATULATIONS, ALISSA!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shopping for Thanksgiving


Went shopping for stuff for Thanksgiving (and general food for the house)...

Notes of importance:

* For the first time today, ever, I think, I needed two grocery carts in the commissary. TWO! Well, they were small carts. not regular size, I think, and I did get two of just about everything that I put in the cart. Total price, just over $200. For TWO full carts! SCORE!!

* the commissary was INSANE today. Everyone was there. But, I didn't seen anyone in their pajamas and everyone I was in contact with brought their manners with them. Guess people have been reading my lowly blog! :-) Either that, or people are getting into the holiday spirit a little early.

* they had every item on my list. If you've ever been to any commissary, you know that this is a true achievement - to leave the commissary with everything on your list. Truthfully, I'm not sure I've ever done it before.

* I am super excited about cooking for Thanksgiving. I haven't cooked a turkey in like 8 years. It will be nice to have Thanksgiving dinner at home, and Jon's mom and stepdad are coming. Not that I don't love being a guest at someone else's house. And the last 2 years we spent with our 'Ohana, which were blasts. We'll have a fire, and fill our bellies and then just relax. It will be a great day.

Happy Thursday everyone!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Cards - What are your plans this year?

Yes, it's that time of year - I am thinking about Christmas Cards.

I love choosing what I feel is the "right" card for us each year. This year, I am thinking of personalized cards from Shutterfly. I have ALWAYS wanted to do the cute cards with the kids and personalize them, but I've just never done it. I think this year might be the year. After all, Alissa is getting older and the kids can all sit for a photo session without too much drama or crying, even if it's an impromptu photo session by Mom. Shutterfly doesn't care where your picture came from...

I'm really thinking that I like this card:



Granted, I don't have a baby, but I like the "Believe" in the corner. I guess this card just spoke to me. They have many designs to choose from, and maybe I'll change my mind once I find a picture that will actually be suitable to use for cards... (Check Shutterfly's selection and see which ones you like: http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery)

You might even be able to get some cards free: http://bit.ly/sfly2010

I always love receiving cards. But, lately, we've been receiving less and less every year. I guess not everyone shares the giddiness that I feel when I see a card-sized envelope in the mail. Maybe it's because we are so stinking far away from those we love. The cards sometimes feel like a lifeline, like a piece of our loved one is actually there with us.

(Hint hint, if you send the Heffners a card, you are guaranteed to receive a card in return.)

So, I'm off to see if my phone has any great pictures on it. If not, I guess I'll have to get the kids to sit still long enough for a quick photo...

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankful - Nov. 10

Today I am thankful that:

* people were less rude and obnoxious in the commissary than usual, and they weren't out of anything that I needed;

* there were no bills in today's mail. I hate getting bills. Actually, I don't really love the mail because it's almost always junk that gets shredded and/or thrown away;

* the person I interviewed with a couple of weeks ago emailed me and asked if she could pass my resume on to a contracting agency that she thinks will want me. A new friend that I met at this past weekend's neighborhood party also emailed me and asked for my resume;

* I had a good laugh this afternoon with my 2 teenagers over a Facebook questionnaire I subjected them to in 2008. It was fun to re-read their responses and we had a good talk about how they've changed in just 2 short years.

Jon doesn't have to work tomorrow and Friday so we're going to have lunch with Abby tomorrow and spend some QT together on Friday before our weekend visitors arrive.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks - November 9


I missed a couple of days because I tried to stay off the computer all weekend.

Today my thanks are frivolous but:

I am thankful that Glee and Sons of Anarchy are on TV and both are new episodes. My two favorite shows, and probably the only 2 I really watch (besides the Disney Channel), are on the same night.

I am also thankful that Alissa and I will be attending a meeting tonight for prospective new VA drivers. Most kids, including me, get their permit the day they turn 15 1/2 and their license right around their 16th birthday. Since she turned 16 inbetween moves, she doesn't have a learner permit.

Yet.

Tonight we're going to get the information we need to change that. More details to come.

(Plus, the rules are a little different here in Virginia and since this is my first almost-driving child, I want to make sure I understand all the rules...)

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Giving Thanks - Nov. 4

I am thankful that I have taught my oldest daughter at least one thing that I didn't know at her age:

that it's ok to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, and you will be ok even if the love affair with the person that you are "in love with" right now is over.

She's going through a teenage breakup (and there's a little ugly backstory) and handling it all like a pro.

When I was a teenager and went through a breakup (and there was more than one), I handled it badly. Crying, thinking low of myself, not eating for days.

She's a champ. I am so proud that she has a moral compass and a sense of right and wrong. And she has confidence in herself and knows that a boy doesn't define her.

And I am thankful that she is the person she is, and that I get to share her life's journey with her.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I am thankful for...

image courtesy of www.squawkfox.com

I think that many of us, myself included, forget to be thankful for...well, everything.

I forget sometimes that even the things that seem smallest are things that we should be most thankful for.

In the month of Giving Thanks, I was inspired by a friend's blog to try to give thanks out loud everyday.

So, today I am thankful for:

* my children. They are sweet, compassionate, fun people who I am grateful to have in my life. They are all healthy and getting decent grades, and they have a moral code and a sense of right and wrong.

* my husband. He doesn't cook or clean as much as I'd like, but he loves me, and supports me, and lifts me up. He is always the optimist to my pessimist, and the voice of calm reason. (And usually he's right - it's not the end of the world after all!)

* my family. We are closer now than we've been in years. All 6 of us. It warms my heart. I am so grateful to be 39 and have parents who are both there, on a moment's notice. Who still love me unconditionally. I'm grateful for my extended family - joined to me by marriage 17 years ago. As I grow older, I appreciate more and more that family is everything. And a quick shout-out: I have the best mother-in-law in the entire world.

* my friends. I have never had a ton of friends, because I am afraid to trust. Someone I trusted and really considered a true friend hurt me DEEPLY, and I have never gotten past it. However, in the last couple of years I have reconnected with high school friends and friends that I haven't seen in a while. I get a lot of support, uplifting, and nice comments from them. I appreciate you all! (And thanks, Facebook, for allowing me to talk to people I haven't seen in a million years!)

* life. Being alive. I am grateful for the journey I am on. No matter the trouble that comes along, there is always sunshine on the horizon. Remembering that is 90% of the battle.

* all the little stuff. A fireplace to warm the chilly Heffner clan. A blog that allows me to "vent". A dishwasher that works. A doctor that finally listens to my concerns and sent my kid to a specialist instead of saying "that's normal..."

* A comment on Facebook that made my day, by a person who will probably never know how she inspires me! She will never know how happy I was that she friended me on Facebook, because I am embarrassed to tell her. But her comments make me feel accepted and happy, and like we're really friends. It means a lot.

There are so many things to name. I'll save some for tomorrow...

But, on a final note, let me reiterate my thankfulness for friends and family. You really mean everything to me. Besides you, everything else in life is just a bonus.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Commissary Etiquette


I don't know how many military-related folks read this blog. Probably not many.

Before I begin, let me in advance say that this post is not meant to offend any one particular person. My thoughts on this subject are mine alone.

That being said, here goes:

Shopping at the commissary has become a nightmare. Truly. Maybe I am just getting curmudgeonly in my still-pretty-young age and have no patience anymore, but I am flabbergasted at the etiquette in the commissary.

Not just the one that I live near, but the etiquette in most of the commissaries in Hawaii sucks, too. (Hickam AFB Commissary in Hawaii is awesome. Probably the best commissary I've ever been to. Fort Campbell was a great commissary back when we lived there, and the others before that, I can't really remember...)

For those of you not familiar, the commissary is the grocery store on or near a military post. They can offer groceries at lower - sometimes MUCH lower - prices, but you must have a military ID card to shop there.

I don't understand why patrons at the commissary are so rude. They routinely:

* cut in front of you, with or without their cart, without regard to the fact that I might not be able to see them around a corner and accidentally hit them;

* leave their cart, often with a very small child or 2, half an aisle away while they walk to get something they need (that is usually in the direction that their cart is already going.) Where is the sense in that? I would NEVER leave my cart with a child in it. NEVER. I can honestly say that I never leave my cart when there is no child in it.

* stand in the middle of the aisle, looking at coupons, checking their phone, redoing their list, or whatever else they happen to be doing. The commissary is almost always crowded. There are clear "rest areas" in every single commissary that I have ever been in. Even the small ones have places you can stop your cart, out of the way of other shoppers, so that you can tend to other business. They have benches, side areas, and empty spots in every commissary that I have ever been in. In fact, the commissary I go to now is fairly large and there are benches all over the place!

* look at you with the stinkeye for no apparent reason. I am always using my big-girl manners, saying Thank You and Excuse Me and Please in the commissary. It's how I was brought up - "Do Unto Others". I don't understand why people come to the commissary so cranky. I've been to plenty of civilian grocery stores in the past 17 years, and those shoppers are not nearly as cranky.

Oh, and can you please at least change out of your pajamas before going to the store? I don't care if you are tired and have 17 kids under the age of 5 and your husband is deployed and you're 5,000 miles away from family. I've been there, too - all of the above (except the 17 kids part, but sometimes 3 kids can feel like 17).

Have some respect for yourself and at least get dressed for the day. Maybe it will make you less cranky.

One last thing - this rudeness I've only noticed in the commissary patrons. The employees in the commissaries are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Definitely some of the most helpful. And, not every single commissary patron is terrible. But many are.

There, I've said it. If I offended you, it was not my intent. But maybe the next time I go to the commissary, one person will be a little nicer. That's all I'm asking for.

Happy Tuesday!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Rejection...

So, many of you know, I have a job offer from a few weeks ago which I accepted. Right now they're checking my background and making sure I am who I say I am, that there are no skeletons in my closet, etc.... The job offer is conditional on me passing (which I don't foresee as a problem...)

However, I can't officially start working until that's complete. So, last week I was offered an interview at another place that I won't name, just because. I thought, "I'm not officially employed yet. What the heck, why not?"

I went to the interview. I really thought I killed it. You know where this is going by now, but wait for it...

I came away from the interview feeling confident. I could have seen myself at that place. I could have fit in and done a h*ll of a job.

Today I received the dreaded rejection email. The sender was nice, she said I was an "...exceptionally strong candidate..." and that she "...strongly encourage[s] me to continue to apply for similar positions [at this employer] as they become available...". She asked permission to send my resume to other people at this employer, so that I "...would be on their radar screens...".

That all sounds good, and flattering, and encouraging, but all I saw was "I regret to inform you...".

Why?

I guess I don't understand. How I got a different perception of the interview than they did. After the Q&A, I was asked to submit a writing sample, which I also feel that I killed. On the way from room to room, the gentleman escorting me said, "Whichever way this turns out, it was such a pleasure to get to know you today. You seem like a really cool person."

At the time, I was flattered. Perhaps I should have actually taken that as a sign of what was to come.

It all sounds selfish, I know. Being disappointed and feeling sorry for myself. I know times are tough and lots of people are looking for work. It has just always come to easily to me in the past, I suppose I took that for granted. I don't mean to be selfish. I really just want one job. One actual job, that I can actually go to and do a good job.

I don't even know if not getting the job was what bothered me, because I'm not sure it was my "Dream job". (In the interview, the job description was a little different than the one I actually applied for...)

I think what kills me is the rejection itself. Don't people know that I am a hard-working person, who will give my all? Why don't they see it? I thought I sold myself well, and sincerely.

It hurts. It sucks. And I cried about it this morning.

I hate rejection. I want some acceptance, not rejection.

And, to top it off, I've decided that being laid off from IBM this past summer is what has really driven my self-esteem down. I did a h*ll of a job for them for 5 years. I gave them a BIG chunk of my life. And they laid me off for it.

Meanwhile, there are still a couple friends of mine there. Still working from home and still doing the job that I was doing. Another huge blow - why wasn't I good enough?? I don't understand.

Then I remember all the things I've been taught:

1. technically I was offered a job and accepted (at the first place), I'm just impatient that the background stuff isn't done yet;
2. when one door closes, another opens. There IS a reason that the IBM door closed, even if I never find out what that reason is;
3. things happen for a reason. There is a reason that God doesn't think that job was the best for me;
4. that, with faith, good things happen.

It hurts less, but still hurts. So, I'm a little sad today. A little discouraged.

By dinnertime, though, Alissa's not-yet-started Halloween costume will be made (by me), I will have cooked a great dinner for my family, and I will have spent a great 90 minutes dancing with 2nd and 3rd grade Girl Scouts, laughing and forgetting about this one setback.

I will be refreshed and renewed. I will find my determination and perseverance, and I will get back in the ring.

For now, though, just for a few minutes, I want to be sad. I want to be angry at IBM for letting me go. I want to feel the emotions that I have pushed down for 5 months. That I am angry and discouraged and worried that no job will ever want me.

Then I will brush myself off and continue with life.

Happy Halloween everyone. The weekend can only get better from here, right?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Remembering a Fallen Hero...

image courtesy of www.westernherald.com

A year ago today, a friend of mine got the visit that no military spouse ever, ever wants to have.

It's the first (and so far, only) close friend the Heffners have known to lose their life in a war that I don't really understand.

I remember everything about that day, like when someone asks you what you were doing when 9/11 took place, or when Katrina hit.

I haven't seen this friend in a long time - we have lived in different cities since 2005. I haven't been able to hug her, to physically be there. But I think about their family all the time. I don't know what it's like to lose the person that you love most in the world. And I wish she didn't either.

To my friend: I know that hundreds of people are telling you this, but I am here. A phone call away. A shoulder, a comforting ear, a friend. Someone that has prayed for you and will always be there. Always. We will probably never live in the same town again, but we'll never be far.

To her fallen soldier: Thank you for your selfless service. You paid the ultimate price so that America could continue to live life the way they are acccustomed. You gave your life fighting in a conflict that many of us are baffled by, and some of us have probably even stopped paying attention to (as sad as that is).

You are missed by many, admired by even more. And a grateful nation remembers you, grieves for you, and mourns that your life was cut short.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

Blech. Rain again.

I liked the rain the first 10 times it rained here. I welcomed it.

Our love affair is over. Rain, we've had enough for a while. Can you please take a break?

At least the temperature is decent. The weather guy says it's mid-60's but I have on shorts and flip-flops, and I was OK outside for the stuff that I needed to do outside.

Abby's home sick - well, getting over a fever and the doctor told me to keep her home today just to be sure. She's watching Wonder Pets and playing with her army of Littlest Pet Shops. I think she counted 106 of them. I'm cleaning the house (again) and wondering if this job I was offered will ever become real. The paperwork just to get started is taking an awfully long time, and today the person that I need assistance from is away. (I asked around, and was told to wait for her return tomorrow.)

I was really excited about this job and hope that it becomes real very soon. I'm sorta over the stay-at-home-and-do-stuff-around-the-house-for-7-hours-everyday thing.

Well, back to cleaning...Happy Wednesday (again)!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life is much different in Virginia - in unexpected ways...

In many ways, Virginia is so different from Hawaii. The Heffners are having to learn all over again about the 4 seasons, and having to rake leaves and wear jackets, and what it feels like to have a cough and a sniffle.

Virginia has changing leaves, and rain. We've had more rain in the last 2 weeks than we had in 3 years living in Hawaii. It has freeways, actual freeways, and back roads for when the freeways are too busy or cluttered with accidents.

The pools are closed, and the nearest beach is probably 3 hours away.

We have nice neighbors, the ones we've met at least, but there is no 'ohana. No one stopping by just to say hello or drop off brownies or show us their new baby's smile.

We're getting used to all of it, all the changes that I don't think we were prepared for (even though we all talked about it, and we all knew were coming.)

But in many ways, living here is better. We get to spend a LOT more time with Jon, which is nice and unusual at the same time. It's great to have him here for dinner every night, and to be able to hopefully carpool with him if my job ever finishes the paperwork needed for me to start.

It's nice to see Alissa with a boy who cares about her, who thinks she hung the moon. A boy with goals for the future, and who has a moral code and a work ethic and a polite demeanor.

It's great to have a finished basement for the kids to retire to - where the toy mess can stay out of sight, and the elliptical machine can squeak without me waking or bothering the kids.

But every day I spend at least a minute missing Hawaii and being grateful for the time we had there. I watch Hawaii-5-0 every week just to see glimpses of the place we so recently called home. We talk about Hawaii all the time - I think to preserve the memories of a place that gave us such a wonderful 30 months.

Overall, Virginia is growing on me. I am very slowly learning which roads go where and the best way to get from Point A to Point B. The kids are settling into their school routines and after-school activities, and we're planning for the upcoming holiday season - my favorite time of year.

I hope to be starting a new job in just a couple of weeks, God willing. I was offered a job but can't start until the background-check process is complete and successful. Of course, there's no reason for me not to pass a background-check, but it still makes me nervous. Yeah, that's what I do best. Worry.

In the meantime, I'm trying to tie up loose ends and get everything done around here that needs attention - dentist appointments, car service, eye appointments, paperwork that I won't have time to do during the day once my job begins.

I secretly like being at home, and having that as my main job. But, part of me also hates it. Hates being alone with nothing to do except house-related stuff. There's only so much laundry you can fold, only so many dishes to wash.

Again, as I mentioned in a post before, this is not to say that SAHM's don't have tough and rewarding jobs in themselves. But, for me, working outside the home is something I like and am very proud of. My kids are older, even Abby at 7 doesn't really need me here during the day, since she's at school all day herself. So why not work outside the home, and use that money to pay for my kids to go to college (or whatever else we decide)?

But the background process has been longer than I originally expected. So I have more time at home than we originally expected.

I pray that the background check is uneventful and that I hear soon that I can get started at work. I am really excited about this position and the possibilities it holds for me over the next couple of years. I really want to get started.

On a totally unrelated note, Glee (my favorite show in the world) is a rerun tonight, so I think I'll try to hit the hay early. 5:20 comes awfully early every morning.

Goodnight all! Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sisters

image from www.3sisters.com

Seems like, for the last couple of years, my 3 daughters have just been pushing each other's buttons on purpose. They seem to purposefully find things to do or say to irritate one of the other girls.

I know that a lot of it has to do with their ages. They are currently 16, 12 and 7. I know that Abby gets on their nerves, because she isn't as mature as they are, or into the same things that they are. It's a fact of life, they are all at different stages and that in itself makes liking each other difficult.

But I wish I knew what to do to help them want to get along better.

Having lived in a different town from my 3 sisters for the last 20 years (if you count college), I know what it's like to miss your sisters and wish you could be near them whenever you want. Even for 5 minutes.

I wish I could help them understand how important it is to treat your sisters like they are your best friends. One day they may live in different towns, states, even countries. It can be really hard. Especially when something happens in your life or theirs, and you can't share it together.

Tonight Alex, Jon and I went out for various reasons. Alissa and Abby stayed home. Apparently there was some sort of disagreement between the 2 of them, which resulted in Abby throwing things and Alissa calling her "evil".

Let's just say that within 2 minutes of me arriving home, Abby had been verbally reprimanded and she and I were both crying. She was crying because she's 7 and didn't think she was at fault. I cried because I just don't understand why they can't all get along.

When I start this new job in the next couple of weeks, I will be leaving Abby in the care of Alissa and Alex for an hour a day. If they can't get along, what will I do? I can't be at work worrying about them every single day. And I don't want Alissa calling me every 5 minutes telling me how "evil" Abby has been.

Abby is still upstairs crying, because her TV time before bed was taken away. She's been crying for over an hour, although it has let up quite a bit in the last 10 minutes. Maybe she's surrendering to being tired and finally relaxing into sleep.

So, hopefully one of my very small group of followers will read this and have some words of wisdom to share.

And to my sisters, I wish I had treasured you more when we were younger and annoyed each other. I wish I had known that I'd spend my adult life away from you, so I could have treasured the time we had. Please know that, no matter where I live, I will always love the 3 of you very, very much. If I could change one thing about my life, it would be that we were closer in proximity so that we could hang out more.

Laurie, Shari and Mandy - I love you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alissa turns 16 today


My oldest, Alissa, turns 16 today. A milestone birthday.

I've written her birthday letters before, but this one will be a little different. Instead of remembering her birth, which I've done on the blog already, I would like to write a bit about my hopes for her.

Every parent wants their kid to be happy and successful. They want their kids to have a better life than they did (even if their life is pretty great already). I am no different. I want Alissa to have the best of everything. I want her to know that the world's her oyster. She can literally do ANYTHING she wants. She's smart, she's outgoing, she's confident, and she's overall just a great kid.

Alissa's had it rougher than my other 2 kids. She's moved the most. She's been to 8 different schools. She's been the new kid at school, at daycare, in the neighborhood, more times than is really fair. (The other kids don't remember or haven't moved as much obviously.) She is the oldest, which means we hold her to a higher standard, whether we mean to or not. She is automatically the example for her sisters. She is automatically the one we look to first.

It's not always fair. In fact, sometimes it downright sucks, being the oldest. (Sorry, Mom. No offense meant.) Alissa handles it in stride. Sure, she has her moments when she disagrees, or talks back. Doesn't every teenager? Or every kid, for that matter?

But if that's the worst thing we've had to worry about with her thus far (and it is), I'd say we're pretty darn lucky. And grateful.

She's a great kid. I'm lucky to be her mom. When I hear her laugh, I am forced to laugh along, whether I actually think whatever she said was funny. (It usually is.) When I look at her, I can't believe how beautiful she is. How grown up. How mature and strong. She has beliefs. She has a moral code. She has a sense of right and wrong.

I am so proud of her.

I love you, Alissa. I know you're at an age where it's not always cool to say that out loud. But I want you to know I love you. I am so blessed to know you and to get to share the events of your life with you. As you turn 16 today, and prepare for all the things this year will bring - driver's license, Junior Prom, AP classes - always know that I am there for you, with you.

You are never alone. Ever.

I hope that you have 90 more birthdays after this one. But I hope this one creates a memory that you can keep forever. I hope you can remember turning 16 as a great day.

All my love to you this day - and everyday - my beautiful Alissa.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The last of our belongings arrived today...


So, we got the last of our stuff today. The things that we put into storage in Tennessee almost 3 years ago, as we prepared to move from Tennessee to Hawaii. It was mostly stuff that we knew we wouldn't use - an heirloom wooden high chair, keepsakes belonging to each of the 3 kids, yard work accessories, Jon's and my winter clothes, and the car top carrier for the van.

Most of these items made sense to place into storage. We wouldn't need cold-weather clothes, and Abby had outgrown the high chair already. We'd heard the yards were postage-stamp size, and where would we drive to in Hawaii that we'd possibly need a car top carrier?

I smiled as I saw these things returned to us. As my childhood rocking chair came into the house, I teared up, visually remembering Alissa sitting in it at Ft. Knox, rocking her babies to sleep (when she was little more than a baby herself.)

I was thrilled to see my winter clothes and realize that half of them are a size too big. (Man, jogging actually pays off when you stick with it!) My high school varsity jacket even almost closes. Almost.

There wasn't a lot to go through, less than 30 different boxes or items to be unwrapped. As I sorted through each one briefly, I remembered that I haven't seen this stuff since 3 houses ago. (Yes, 3, if you count the 2 we lived in in Hawaii.) That makes it seem like forever ago.

All the items were labeled specifically. I remember walking around behind the movers, writing on the Rubbermaid totes, cardboard boxes, and paper wrapping. I wanted to make sure I remembered this stuff when we next saw it.

But there was one Rubbermaid tote that was curiously not labeled. I knew it was ours, but I couldn't figure out why it wasn't labeled. As I sorted through these things, I pushed aside that tote for last.

After everything else was opened, inspected, cried on (in some cases), embraced, and smelled (these things definitely smell like they've been in storage for a while), I opened the last tote.

I was hoping for a final surprise, and boy did I get one. This tote was full of...

Wait for it...

Tupperware! (and fake-Tupperware, like Gladware, etc...)

I giggled as I wondered aloud what I must have been thinking when I packed this box and marked it for storage. Why did I think it was stuff worth saving, but not worth taking with us to Hawaii?

It's nothing special, just cups and bowls and water bottles. They aren't fancy or expensive or rare. And I didn't even miss most of that stuff (we had a SpongeBob water bottle in Tennessee? Really? I don't remember it.)

Anyway, I got a chuckle out of it and thought I'd share. Guess I've gotten a little boring since I became unemployed, if Tupperware makes me giggle...

Happy Thursday all!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Unemployment sucks

Just random thoughts as I sit here in the house, all alone, while the kids and Jon are out being productive.

I hate being unemployed. I hate it.

Some women want to stay at home all day. That isn't me.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not trying to start the SAHM vs. working-mom debate. I'm just saying that, for me, working is what makes me happy.

The house is nearly unpacked and just about everything is in its intended home. Jon is getting familiar with work and the girls have successfully completed a full week of school.

Things are back to "normal" at Casa Heffner. So now it's time for Mom to go to work.

The only problem is, so far there is no job waiting for me. I mean, I have contacted contracting agencies, and they are looking. But the right job has not come along yet.

It's frustrating.

When I found out 18 months ago that my job was short-lived, I started praying. I prayed that I could stay employed until we moved. (That happened, thank goodness.) Then I started to pray that a new job would find me, one that was the right fit and had some flexibility (so that I could be there for the kids when they need me.) I'm still praying, every day. But so far no job.

And it's tough. I mean, I haven't had to interview in over 9 years. The climate has changed. And, I have experience in lots of different areas of IT - not just one area. That used to be a good thing, but now I worry that it's working against me.

And I'm not sure what to do next. I just posted my resume online (again). I am attending a job fair on the 22nd. And I call/email the contractor every day, just to check in.

I know I'm not the only one facing this. I pray for everyone in my position to find a good new job.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A letter to Krysti on the eve of her 18th birthday...


Happy Birthday Krysti!

I remember the first day we met. Your mom and dad came to Ohio University to help Uncle Jon move his stuff back home at the end of the school year. I think you were about 8 or 9 months old at that time. (We'd have to ask your mom for sure.) They had a pop-up camper and we camped out. They were so gracious to let me stay with you all, since we weren't yet related, and they didn't really know me.

But I knew you. Or at least I felt like I did. On the day I met your Uncle Jon, we had to walk from one end of campus to another to get to the computer lab we were going to be using. He and I had been grouped into a team (with two other boys - which is another story for another day...). As we walked, we talked and talked. I think we both knew very quickly that we'd each met someone special.

And all that way, he talked about his new niece, Christine. All about you, how special you were, your lovely blond hair and how smart you were. Later that week he even showed me pictures of him holding you in the hospital.

You may know this, but you are part of the reason I fell in love with Uncle Jon so easily. He had (and still has) SUCH a love for his family. And the way he spoke about you, it warmed my heart so deeply.

So meeting you was a big deal to me. To me, it sort of meant that I was worthy. That I was meeting his family so soon in our courtship felt like I was an important part of his life. Meeting his sister, who he respects so much, and you - the tiny person who had part of his heart.

You are such a beautiful young woman. You are kind, respectful, smart, confident and warm. You have a smile that lights the room. And you are so funny! (I mean that in a nice way...) You have the whole world ahead of you, and I am certain that you will continue to shine.

I am proud to be your aunt. Alissa, Alex and Abby adore you, and we are so happy every time we know we're going to get to spend some time with you.

I hope that your 18th birthday is wonderful, and that it holds a memory that you can keep close to your heart forever. Remember that, though we may never live in the same city, you are never more than a phone call away. And now that we're back on the Mainland, I hope we'll get to spend more time with you and your family.

As you bridge from teenager to adult, always know that the Heffners are in your corner. We love you and feel blessed that we're in the same family.

Have an amazing day tomorrow and know that our heart is there with you.

Love you!
Aunt Tiffany, Uncle Jon, Alissa, Alex and Abby

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of school in Virginia...

Wow, today started early. For me, I guess yesterday never really ended. At my bedtime (starting around 10 pm), I laid down and tried to settle down. My mind kept processing everything - life, job - or lack of, messy house, difficult teenagers, mood swings, lack of parking on our street, the end of summer, and finally - the first day of school. I finally fell asleep around 1:30, only to hear the alarm sound at 5:15. (Yes, we really have to get up that early. The two oldest leave for the bus stop at 6:20.)

For the Heffner kids, every couple of years means being the "new kid" at school. My girls are champs. They handle the first day like a pro. Talk to people right away, make friends before they're even on the bus. They know exactly how to fit themselves into their new lives.

I shouldn't worry. But I do.

I think it's mostly guilt. I can relate to most of the things that my girls are going through or will go through - teenager-hood, menstruation, boyfriends (or lack thereof), high school, driver's ed, being the oldest, having sisters, sharing, and thinking they know everything.

But I lived in the same town my whole childhood. The same house, with the same friends and the same routine for many, many years. I don't know what it's like to be the "new kid". Well, not as a kid, at least. (I have too much experience being the "new grown-up" on the block.)

I hate that my high-schooler has me check her forms to make sure the address and phone number are correct, because we've moved so many times that she can't keep the new address straight.

I hate that my second-grader didn't know anyone on the bus today so I don't know whether or not she sat alone. (She probably didn't, but my worried-mom-brain fears that she did.)

I hate that my middle-schooler is afraid that she won't find her locker and when she finally does, she won't have time to open it or won't know how to get to her next class. (We went to "locker night", but her locker and hundreds of others weren't programmed yet so it was a colossal waste of time.)

Is there anything I can do to protect them from these things? Not really, I suppose. I did everything I could have - talked to them, asked them about their fears, put "love notes" in their backpacks, and hugged them all as they prepared to board their respective buses this morning.

I cried as I watched Abby board the bus. Her first bus ride to school, ever. (Hawaii buses cost extra and I would never have sent her on it. Long story...) She was a trooper. Not scared a bit. But I felt sad that she didn't have a sister or a pal to share this experience with. (Alissa and Alex ride the same bus, to the same school, so at least they have each other...)

I guess I just hate that they have this extra worry, on top of it being the first day of school. It's not fair. But, it's the life we chose. The life we were given - the life that God is confident that we can handle. This Army life. It's been very good to us, but there are tough days, like today, when I wish that Grandma or Auntie lived down the street and that we had more than one name that we could list on our Emergency Contact sheets.

I'm sure that their first day is wonderful, and they all found someone to eat lunch with, and had no problems getting to their classes, lockers, or buses.

Right???

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moved in and Getting Settled...

So, our stuff came 7 days ago. Most of it, anyway. Our "hold baggage" - the small shipment, less than 1000 pounds of last-minute stuff - hasn't arrived yet. Traditionally, that one is supposed to arrive first. That's how it's designed. Not ours, though. It's supposed to come this week, but I'm still holding my breath. (It was promised 2 weeks ago.) That shipment has my Kirby vacuum in it - and I need it! :-)

There was some damage in this move. Furniture, to be exact. I am not happy about this, but fortunately it's just furniture. It can be replaced, and it will be, on the moving company's dime. It looks like one of the 17 wooden crates that our stuff was packed into was either dropped or something was dropped onto it. There was a gash in the side of the crate, and the crate didn't stand up straight, it tilted a little. I took plenty of pictures.

So far, the house is fairly unpacked. When you have 17,000 pounds of "stuff", it takes a while for everything to find its new "home" in the house. We're hoping to be in this house for a good while - at least 3 years, but we're actually hoping for a little longer - so the plan is to place this stuff in its "home" and then not move it for a long, long time.

School starts next week. Boy, are we all ready for that! I love these kids more than life, but we need a break from each other. They need to start school and make new friends, and have a life outside the house. I've been networking and trying to work the new-job angle, but it's not happening as quickly as I would like. I guess that I need to have more patience and more faith, but it is a constant struggle for me. I know that God will help me, I know He has a plan. I just need to wait for it (while trying to do everything I can to market myself and find that perfect job.)

In the meantime, unpacking continues, and I am starting to run again. Gotta get back out there and do something for Tiffany...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Getting back to "normal", one day at a time...

So, we made the move. Left Hawaii and spent some time in Ohio with family and friends that we hadn't seen in a long while.

Then, about a week and a half ago, we made it to our new destination. Virginia.

Since then, we've:

* found a house to rent. Housing on post has a crazy 12+ month waitlist. That is insane, and a rant that I will save for another day. We decided that we aren't ready to buy yet, but that's ok. We found a great house, in a great neighborhood with great schools, and the owners are retired military with ties to Ohio (OH-IO!).
*started getting familiar with Northern Virginia and DC. It is a crazy, overwhelming place, but slowly I am figuring out how to get here and there, and learning to avoid the freeways as much as possible. It is definitely an adjustment that will take some time.
* started the job hunt. It is a slow, arduous process. I don't think I'll be lucky enough to work at home, at least not at first, but to find a job in my field is something that I won't take for granted. We'll figure it out, we always do...
* had our convertible devliered to us from Hawaii (the day after we got here) and picked up the van in Baltimore last week. It is a BIG deal to the Heffners to have our own vehicles back. For those of you that don't move regularly, or haven't moved in years, I cannot begin to explain the joy I feel when I see my belongings. It's not the belongings themselves that are important to me, it is the comfort of having familiar things around you. Seeing our own vehicles makes us feel that much more at peace in a new place.
* Enrolled Abby in school, and made appointments to enroll the other 2 kids. Yes, you need appointments to enroll your child in school. I don't claim to know why, I am just following the rules.
* Registered everyone at the Army hospital here so we can get medical appointments.
* Made appointments for all 3 kids to have physicals - which VA requires before your child can actually attend school. Thankfully, we got appointments for dates before school actually starts, which is a blessing.
* spent the last 10 days (and the next 10 as well) in a hotel. Granted, it's a nice hotel, the price is decent, and they have breakfast everyday. But it's close quarters for a family of 5 and I am ready to have a place to settle into on a more permanent basis.

Life is getting back to "normal", one step at a time. It is a slow process, since we're coming from across the ocean. And the Army hasn't made it easy for us. There have been many hurdles, and I am flabbergasted at the amount of people who we meet who are supposed to be working for the government, providing answers to soldiers and their families, who say to us, "I can't help you." Really? Does the Army know that you can't help me? I wonder if they would be surprised.

I am planning to write to my Congressman a letter. Will it help? Most likely not. But, if I don't write, I will never know.

For now, the blog won't move - you'll still find us at this URL. After we're settled, I may change the name. If I do, I'll be sure my (few) readers will be able to find me.

Until then, I will post as much as possible. Our cell phones will stay the same. Stay in touch!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Moving, Moving, Moving....

So, we're on day 3 of packing and moving. The house is practically empty, except for our small shipment (to go later this week) and all the stuff we have to fit into 8 suitcases. I think the movers will finish today and we'll have tomorrow to reflect on our empty house, the memories, and the plans we've got for the next phase of Casa Heffner. (Not to mention the 2 loads of laundry we've accumulated in the last week and the trips to the dump that need to happen, and picking up school records...I could go on and on...)

It's always strange to me, to see an empty house that we lived in just days before. There's no trace that the Heffners ever called this place their home. No evidence that we loved it here, cared for it like it was our own. We laughed and cried here, had "firsts" here, and made memories.

The reality of this move won't hit for a while because we'll be on an extended vacation for most of July, visiting family and friends and cruising around Hawaii (not in that order...) When we finally get to our destination in early August, and have to live in a hotel and navigate a new place and decide quickly where to live, the reality will hit, and hit hard. No Ms. Tania to bring us brownies, no Willa and Violet asking if the girls can play. No Elena yelling "Levi!" and no Jackson or Matthew giggling at Park Day. No beach down the street or having to take off our shoes to enter the house.

This move is strange in many ways. It's like the old days, where I didn't have the security of a job to bring with me. Where there was a lot of uncertainty - a LOT. But it's better, because we know we made the most of our time here. We saw the sights, we got out of the house at every opportunity, we took advantage of what Hawaii has to offer. We made memories here that all our children will treasure. We made friends that I hope to still be close to, many years from now. After the Army isn't our life anymore and our home is really our home, and not just a stop along the way. We had a really great run here, and as scared as I am about finding a place to live and a decent job, it's time to go.

You have no idea how long we waited for the Army to send us that stupid paper, how we waited for 'permission' to move. But now that it's here, it's much harder than I ever imagined. Harder to say goodbye to a place that is expensive and far from Ohio, but that gave us an amazing 2 1/2 years. A place we may never see again.

So as June moves into July and the world keeps on going, despite my fears about housing and work and the kids getting settled, I am confident that it'll be ok. God never leaves me, especially when I need Him the most. When I can't sleep and all I can think about is "How will we get everything worked out the way we need it to be?" I don't always hear the answer when I am supposed to, but it's there. I feel it. He always knows what I need, and somehow He provides. I am constantly amazed at that. And I strive to be confident that He'll be there again, helping us get settled into our new life.

As the Heffners move from this chapter of our life to another, I hope that you'll stay along for the ride. The blog will change and the posts will be less than normal over the next month or 2, but the new adventures will be chronicled as we get settled and hit the ground running. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010. My first day of unemployment in over 9 years.

It felt weird, and great, and scary.

In some ways, I feel as though I have let Jon down. This layoff wasn't my fault, it isn't personal, it wasn't anything I did wrong. But I'm not contrbuting to the family finances right now. That doesn't hurt us too much, actually, we're in a good place. But it feels so strange. I feel like I owe it to our family to contribute to our needs.

I have always worked, with the exception of a small window of time in Germany, and I was volunteering then. Jon tells people that I get restless and make the family unhappy when I'm at home too much. I worry that he's right.

I have sent out some resumes, and started the networking process. But since we aren't in our new location yet, that's about all I can do for now.

Yesterday Alissa and I commemorated the first day of unemployment by spending the day together. We ran errands and listened to the "Glee" soundtracks together, and laughed and ate lunch. I treasure these small moments with her, and it reminds me of times that I spent with my mom at her age. When she's not in a teenager mood, she is fun and fabulous to be around.

Today I file for unemployment and Alissa and I hit the beach. I want to chill out and forget that I'm upset with IBM and not think about "how and when am I gonna get another job"?

Just for today, I am letting God handle the worry for me. I need a break. And although I'm not sure I deserve one - I mean, I am pretty tough on myself - I am taking a break with Alissa and getting out of this house for a while.

In fact, I hear her moving around upstairs so I bet she'll come down momentarily, in her skinny strapless bathingsuit and wonder if I'm ready to hit the beach.

"Coming, Alissa..."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Here...

Tomorrow's my last day at work. It's bittersweet. I have given SO much to this job over the past 5 years. It has eaten into my family time, and I have lost dozens of hours of sleep due to late night calls and issues. I have fixed dozens of issues without even a "Thanks for your hard work." I give my all every single day.

It didn't matter. They didn't care about my work record or my outstanding performance reviews, or the awards I'd won in the last 5 years. They dropped me, and a few thousand others, because I didn't want to move. Well, I couldn't, really. We won't separate our family for the sake of a job, and Jon goes where the Army tells him to.

Where he goes, I go. It's as simple as that.

I won't miss the job itself - I have said for years that I don't want to be an antivirus administrator for the rest of my life. I won't miss the long hours, the "it's not my job" mentality, the calls at 2 am (even when I am supposed to be on vacation!).

I will miss working at home. It was a blessing, to be able to be here for the kids and work at the same time.

I have decided to take the next couple months to chill, re-group, and spend time with the kids at the beach. I need to think about what I will do next.

I have started networking, but we need to get settled in a new house in a new city before I can start back to work. I'm even considering going back to school for a Master's Degree. For years, I have wanted to be a college professor, and I am really considering pursuing that.

The next few months will be tough - moving, leaving our friends, waiting for our stuff to arrive from Hawaii, new schools, new town, different everything. And no job.

I pray and pray that that will just be temporary. I humbly ask that you pray for it, too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May's half over!

I told you, life at Casa Heffner is busy every May. So many things going on, so little days in the month to complete them!

Abby's recital was last weekend. She did spectacular. They had a routine with umbrellas. It was precious, and all 10 girls did really well. Ms. Nataliya should be very proud.




We're taking a short hiatus from ballet as we prepare to move to.....

Virginia!

Well, it's not final yet. But it should be tomorrow. The PA job was given to someone else. Not that Jon wasn't totally qualified for it. I guess the assignments guy offered it to more than one person, and that person was before Jon.

Figures. Anyway, I'm already over it. I'm already thinking about where we'll live, all the great stuff there is to do in that area - history, museums, daytrips. All of it. I am really excited.

And, it should be great for job prospects as well. I mean, DC has a mecca of IT jobs just waiting to be had.

That's what I'm told, anyway.

Jon and I are both actually really excited about it. It's time for a new adventure. We'll miss things about Hawaii - the weather, the laid-back weekends, the scuba diving, and mostly:

Our 'Ohana.

Still trying to figure out how we'll say goodbye to our friends here. I don't know how we'll do it. I've made friends here that I am closer to than I ever was to a childhood friend. I am a little scared to leave them...

We're kicking around the idea of a great party. A celebration of the 'Ohana, so to speak.

The end of May is in just a few days! And our adventure is beginning soon after. I can't wait.

Well, it's late, really late. I gotta get some sleep. More posts this weekend!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May is a busy month!

Well, so far I have worked 9 OT hours in the last 2 days. Why, you ask? I don't know. I guess I just think it's the right thing to do. (I mean, when I get called in the middle of the night, what else am I supposed to do? Not answer?) I guess I could, but since I have to work the next day, I don't think that will go over very well. It brings me comfort that I am getting paid for this ridiculous overtime, that -- insert company name here -- is paying for what it should be paying for - my ACTUAL work hours. So many times I have worked an extra hour here or there and not claimed it because, well, it's a pain in the butt to do.

Since I was notified of the layoff, however, I claim every single moment. Especially when the phone rings at 2:30 in the morning and I end up working for over 13 hours straight, like yesterday. I can't wait for May 27, when I know the phone will ring, but my cell phone will be turned off. (Note: Family and friends who may need or want to call me that day, please call my home phone #.)

Anyway, besides that work-junk, life is good. Jon is home, here with us, and has no plans to go anywhere (at least that I know of). Saturday he and I took the 2 younger girls bowling at Pearl Harbor. (Alissa went to a birthday party.) Jon won 2 games, and - wait for it - Abby won one game! She loves to bowl. Puts her hands in the air when she rolls the ball. It is cute and sweet and hysterical. She got an 82 for the win (yeah, I know, we are all terrible bowlers if Abby won with an 82, but it's the fun that we had that counts, right?)

Abby bowling at Pearl Harbor, May 1, 2010

Friday the girls and I went to the Hale Koa pool. As I've blogged before, that is such a nice place. The pool is clean, they have nice bathrooms/changing areas, and the water was warm this time! There were some kids there, but it's never really been "crowded" when we go. It is truly worth the 25-minute drive.

gorgeous banyan tree at the Hale Koa Hotel

Tomorrow marks Alex's 12th birthday. It is insane to me that she is 12 already. She's finishing 6th grade in just a few weeks, and she's really changing. She's blossoming, transforming, right before my eyes. She is a great kid, very polite and inquisitve, very caring and sweet. She's been bitten by the babysitting bug, and that to me is also crazy - that she is old enough to watch other children. I still remember the moment I met her as if it were yesterday. I remember the day I found out we were expecting her. After the shock (long story), I was elated. To have another girl in the family. And through her transformations, she has transformed me as well. How lucky we were to have been blessed to be chosen. Chosen by God to be such an important part of her life.

Alex with one of our 'ohana, Matthew, at Park Day. She's a natural!

Friday Jon and I celebrate 16 years of marriage. I know some people might not have expected it to work for us. We met and fell in love very quickly. We were engaged within 6 months, and I was already 5 months pregnant with Alissa on our wedding day. I'm sure people thought we were rushing. But it was meant to be. We still laugh every day, we still hold hands, and Jon kisses me goodbye every single day as he leaves for work. It is a rare thing, love. I mean, lots of people fall in love. But a love that is complete and forgiving and full of laughter and understanding, that is a love that is forever. We have ups and downs, and there are days that I'm sure we both just want to be alone, but we have that forever-love.



So Friday, for our anniversary, Jon and I are ditching work and embarking on a deep-sea wreck dive. I wouldn't want to go with anyone but him. I never dreamed that scuba would be a hobby I'd enjoy, but diving with Jon is peaceful. It's tranquil, and beautiful, and fun. And I know I am safe if he's there. (I'm sure Jon will post pictures to his Facebook later that day...)

There are many brithdays this month - both family and 'ohana. Alissa finishes 10th grade this month, Abby has her 2nd ballet recital, and we will start to prepare to leave this island and embark on a new chapter of our life. My 5-year run at -- insert company name here -- ends, but a new one will come to take its place. One that is less stressful and more enjoyable. One that allows me to grow. I can feel it coming.

May is busy. But it's the best kind of busy. Busy with family, friends, celebrations, and new beginnings.

May your May be blessed as well. Thanks, friends, for being a part of the Heffner journey. Stay tuned as the adventure unfolds!

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Friday!

(image from Photobucket.com)

Thank goodness I survived another week. Work still stinks, but those 3-hour meetings have whittled down to more like hour-and-a-half meetings, so that's good. The 4 guys I am training are nice, they ask questions but it doesn't drag. (My boss had nothing to do with the meeting changes, and frankly I think he has just washed his hands of me. Whatever, dude.)

I am over the whole "you're taking my job" jealousy. It is what it is, right?

A friend reminded me today that a job doesn't define you (well, at least most of us). It's simply a means for you to support your family and your lifestyle. It isn't who you are.

I have already started networking and hope to have a new job as soon as we're moved. My current company gives us training money, in addition to severance, so I'm planning to take a couple of courses and enrich myself as well. Maybe work toward a Masters Degree. Who knows. But I feel good about it. God will help, He will provide, because I am a good person, and I have a good relationship with Him.

It's all good.

Today's Friday, that means Park Day. I haven't been there for the last couple of Fridays - so much going on, Jon and I have had meetings to attend, the girls have their own agendas.

Today is more carefree. I'm going to make some pigs-in-a-blanket, and take my jacket, and head to Park Day in a couple hours to laugh with my friends and soak in the April Hawaii sun.

The weekend means Jon will be home. We're planning a family day at Bellows, a dive or 2 on Saturday, and some good quality time.

I ran yesterday, first time in a month! I am ashamed to admit that, but it felt great. My baby sister is inspiring me, gotta put myself first. Remember to do it every single day, even for 45 minutes. She's been walking every day, and I want to have some of that leisure time too. I forgot how good it felt to hear Chris Daughtry at full volume on my iPod while shutting out the world for 45 minutes. It's my sanctuary.

I stopped drinking soda this week. All this time I knew it was bad for me, but it became a habit. Dare I say, an addiction. I found myself wanting soda all the time. So Wednesday I just stopped. I'm on the 3rd day, and it feels better than I imagined. I don't have headaches or cravings. I see the 12-pack on the kitchen shelf and I can easily walk right by it.

So, back to putting myself first, even for a shred of time.

Happy Weekend everyone!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Can't wait for May 27...

Work totally sucks.

Today I ask my manager if we can scale back these 3-hour daily training sessions between me and the folks that will be taking my job. I understand the importance of training, and I do want them to succeed. I mean, I harbor no personal ill will toward these men or their ability to do their job. I just think 15 hours a week is a lot. It keeps me from being able to do what I need to do, so I have to work at night and on the weekends to catch up.

His response to me: "What are the other tasks on your plate that prevent you from being dedicated to this training?"

WHAT?? Are you freaking kidding me??

Hmmm. First of all, I am dedicated. DO NOT SAY I AM NOT DEDICATED, especially since you don't know me from a hole in the wall. You've been my manager for exactly 15 minutes. Don't say stuff unless you either have something to back it up with, or clarify what you mean. I wrote over 20 &^$%@* documents, with screen shots, explaining STEP-BY-STEP how to do my freaking job. If they can't read, why am I bothering to spend 15 hours a week reading these documents to them? That's basically what we do in "training" - I write the docs, then read them aloud on the phone. An unimaginable waste of time.

Second, you are my manager, for goodness sake. If you don't know what I'm doing on my account, then you aren't a very good manager (especially since I cc: you on tons of email everyday). Oh wait, I forgot. You are the 5th manager I have had in 5 years, and you and the last manager I had don't really care about me at all. You care about shoving me out the door after I have given you all the stuff you need so that this account doesn't become your team's problem. (If I train them successfully, you'll never have to deal with it again, right?) I got spoiled with the 3rd manager, thinking that all managers were like him. He remembered things I'd told him in the past, he cared about my success on the team and at --insert corporation name here--. He had my back, and stood up for me. You don't seem to care about me at all.

Third, thanks for caring about my feelings in all this. Just because you're not being let go, you could have a little more compassion for my situation. I have given a lot to this team and to the corporation, and my performance reviews show it. ( Take a look dude, they're available online for any employee to see. I checked.)

So, I called him. (What do I have to lose? All he can do is fire me, and right about now that doesn't sound so horrible.) I said, "Don't assume I am not dedicated. That's unfair and not founded."

He responds: "You are reading something into this. When I said dedicated, I meant what other things are you working on that you don't have time to do because you are training these folks? I don't mean you're not dedicated..."

Uh, everything. I spend 3 hours a day with them and then another couple of hours writing documents for tomorrow's "lesson". I still have hours of work that have to be done when the workday is over.

And if you don't think I'm not dedicated, then don't send me another email like that one. It wasn't cool.

Too bad for --insert corporation name here--. I'm not working overtime anymore. I have 6 weeks left and I'm not gonna kill myself for this. I will train the new folks, I will write down all the information that's in my head, and I will show up to work everyday and give my best for 8 hours.

That's it. And when May 27 comes around, may the Force be with you.

Because I won't be. I'm done. (And I won't be answering my cell phone...)

-----------------------------------------------

Wow, that felt GOOD to write. Today's been crappy already and I have vowed that my ridiculous short-term job is not going to bring me down. It's just not...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A new week, lots going on...

It's a new week tomorrow. Lots has happened this past week, as usual...

Last week, I was asked to start training my replacements. Yuck. I have spent all week training them, writing "how-to" documents for them, thinking about all the stuff I do and figuring out how to explain that to someone with 90% less knowledge of the environment and the products than me, and whose native language is not English. I have written over 20 documents for them. Documents that I am proud of. I hope they help.

My current corporation keeps rejecting my applications for other positions within the Global Services organization. I had heard that this happens - my doomed friends say that the same thing's been happening to them, too... they "lock out" positions when there's been a layoff. I don't know what will happen. I worry about that (yes, same old song - I've been worrying a lot.) My head knows it will be OK, but my heart worries. What is meant to be will be, I keep reminding myself. Sometimes I think maybe I should just apply at Target...But then I remind myself that I have a degree in IT and that someone will see that and want to hire me. Someone will. Gotta have more confidence. I ask God for it all the time.

I went scuba diving off a boat with Jon and our friend Deanna last Thursday. This was probably my last major issue in the scuba-diving apprehension I had harbored. Some of you may recall that I went out on a boat with Jon last May. I donned the gear, I rode the boat out many yards from shore, and I jumped in the water. I couldn't do any more than that.

Well, Thursday I conquered that fear. I went down 61 feet! I saw some beautiful sights. The biggest eel I could ever imagine. (He was so large that it looked like he was stuck in the nook he'd been hiding in.) A pipe covered over with coral and sea life. A thorny cowfish. Many beautiful yellow fish (that I don't by name). I stayed calm, I enjoyed the peace, the beauty, the majesty, the unbelievable world out there in the water. If you are friends with Jon on Facebook, you can check out his pictures there. (I'm not at the picture-taking step yet.)

Saturday, Jon left (again). At least it's just a week this time. I missed him even before he left! It seems that, in my opinion, we are at the best place in our marriage. I mean, we've never been on the verge of divorce or anything like that, but the last couple of years we have really just gotten close. Spent time appreciating each other and finding things in common. I can't tell you how it feels when we're scuba diving and Jon takes time to make sure that my gear is all set up properly, that I will be safe during the dive. He helps me in the ocean, adjusting my fins and making sure we're at arm's reach, because he knows I am still nervous. He cheers me on when I step out of my comfort zone. And he checks on me every few minutes, giving me the "OK" sign underwater to make sure I am all right. Last weekend, we went on a night dive. In the dark. I was freaked out, but curious and brave.

Jon held my hand from the time we went under the water to the time we surfaced at the dive buoy. The entire time.

The house is different when he's gone. And even though we don't watch the same TV channels or like some of the same activities, I hate when he's not here. I hate it.

Yesterday the two older girls and I went to Ko Olina (Abby had a sleepover with friends). Alissa and I mostly stayed on the beach - we didn't feel like swimming - but Alex swam. And we looked for shells and walked the paths. We found the path from Lagoon #4 to the marina harbor. On the outside there was a rocky barrier between the path and the ocean. There were signs warning you of the danger, but we took the risk and walked out. We saw tide pools with small fish and crabs, shells, and even some sea sponges! It was beautiful and quiet, except for the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks. We watched the sunset and I marveled at our fortune, to be able to have this experience in the book of our life. I hope it's memories like these that my girls will remember and retrieve later in life. "Mom, remember when we walked those rocks at Ko Olina and Alex found a sea sponge?"

I sure do.

Thank you God, for that moment. It was a small moment, but most of the time those feel like the best moments.

Tomorrow starts a new week. The younger girls go back to school for their final grading period here in Hawaii. Jon comes home on Saturday. We're gonna find something to do here on Sunday (out of the house). And I will be grateful for every single day, because every day that I get to wake up is a good day.