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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sort of a Working Woman Again

Those of you that know me in real life, know that when we lived in Minnesota, I was a stay at home mom, that worked.  What is that acronym....WAHM? 

Rainman and I both had strange schedules, but my work was flexible so  I could pretty much schedule it around his and the kids needs.  It was pretty awesome.  Having the ability to bring in a little extra money, while still getting to be with my kids was spectacular.  Yes, I was tired, but, we had bills to pay.

Back in Minnesota, I had a few jobs, all at the same time. 

I was a massage therapist.  I spent time working a salon.  I spent time teaching at a school of massage, but mostly I just saw private clients.  Super flexible.

I was also what is called an off-site secretary.  I primarily worked for a group of commercial real estate brokers.  I would type correspondence, contracts and purchase agreements and help close big deals....from my home office.  I remember how fancy I felt when we were able to get my home system set up so I could just connect to the printers at their office and even their home and send over the completed contracts to be ready for them when they woke up in the morning.  (I did most of my work after kids were in bed.)

I was a transcriptionist.  Back when I worked in an office, I did medical transcription, but, at home, I did legal transcription work.  Mostly it was probate hearings that took place on an Indian reservation.  I am not afraid to admit this was hard.

I was also what is called a recording secretary.  This meant that I attended city council or corporate board meetings and took minutes.  Sort of like a court reporter, but with just a regular laptop.

Somehow, Rainman and I were able to sort of balance my work, his work, homeschool all of our kids and just other normal life stuff, without too much drama.  But, usually either Rainman or I were home with the kids.  Every now and then we would have to get an aunt or grandma to cover childcare, but that didn't happen very often.

When we got the news during my last pregnancy that we were going to have to relocate to Georgia, we paused for a bit.  We realized a few things:  Georgia handles licensing for massage therapists differently than Minnesota (so even though I had been working in the field since 1992, that meant nothing in Georgia); I couldn't work for either the realtors or the recording secretary company from Georgia (I actually could have kept the realtor job, but they were VERY nervous about me being in another state); I would be in a totally new state with 6 kids and no family or friends.

We made the decision to try to just let me be a stay at home mom and see how both our budget and my mental health did.

Both did pretty well.  I think my sadness and depression about being in Georgia was just because I missed my family, friends and church.  I don't think it had anything to do with me not earning my keep, if you know what I mean.  In a way, it was relaxing to just stay at home and take care of kids and the home, without having to feather in any work. (I did do some home school curriculum reviews in there, but I am not really counting that, since no money changed hands.)  In the last 8 years, I have done a bit of temp work here and there to bring in extra money, but nothing regular, like the olden days.

Fast forward 8 years and the realization that I sure had a lot of free time to read and drink wine on the back deck.  LOL  Seriously, I couldn't believe how many books I was able to read.  The house was fairly clean.  Actual meals were getting cooked.  The 3 kids that are still homeschooled were still getting a great education.  Yet, I had quite a bit of actual chunks of "free" time sprinkled throughout my days.  It was just the age old scenario of "the kids don't need me as much anymore".  (Now, I will put in the caveat that the free time was also because spring sports season had not yet arrived at my house.  Things are a lot busier when you have kids in golf, tennis and baseball at the same time!)

About this same time, Rainman and I sat down and had a budget talk.  Things are tighter than we would like.  Not awful.  Not great.  We have some debt that neither of us want and the sooner those payments are gone, the better!  So, I decided to see if I could find something to do again from home.  I decided to update my resume and references.  I had a possible lead on some clerical work from home at a company the sister of a friend of mine owned down here.

I am still Facebook friends with my past bosses (and their families), so I contacted the most recent ones to make sure it was still okay to include them as references and make sure that I still had the correct contact information.  They all said that they would be happy to be contacted about me.

The next morning, my phone rang.  It was the owners of the recording secretary company in Minnesota.  I have know them since I was a teenager.  We went to the same church.  I babysat their kids.  They gave me a chance and hired me when I had a bunch of little kids. 

Guess what she was calling about?

She basically asked if I wanted my old job back!  Technology has changed so much that recording secretaries no longer need to actually drive to the various cities and companies and sit there frantically typing what everyone is saying.  Most meetings are videotaped by the local cable companies and the ones that aren't have audio recordings.  So, since January, I have been working for various Minnesota cities taking minutes as I sit in my living room, in my sweats, with my feet up on a footstool.  I still teach the kids.  I still keep the house clean.  I still manage to cook fairly regularly (when I am not running here or there for sports drop offs/pick ups/games).  I even still have a little time for recreational reading and wine drinking.  So it is....all good. 

I still get to hold babies and play with toddlers too.

My first set of audio minutes took a REALLY long time.  I was really rusty.  I was scared that I was stupid to think I could still do this.  I didn't know the voices, so I couldn't concretely say who was talking and asking questions.  I kept rewinding and listening again.  It was tedious.  But, I have found, I possess a strange skill set and it was like riding a bicycle and it didn't take me long to get good and fast again.  I am feeling pretty confident in my abilities again.  It is a nice feeling.  Bringing in a small paycheck again is magical.  It is just helping me breathe a bit financially. 

I am going to get religious on you for a second here.  As I was thinking about trying to find work, I kept thinking and saying to people..."I wish I could find something like TimeSavers again! I want to find something where I can control my schedule and when I do the work. I want to be able to work around our lives, instead of it taking over our I had in Minnesota, with TimeSavers."

I really wasn't sure if it was even possible though.  It felt sort of selfish to basically say....yes, I want to work and make money....but I only want to do it when it is convenient for me and my family.  You know?

But, that was basically what I wanted.  To work when it worked for me.

It was like God looked down at said, "Well, Kayla, how about instead of finding something "like" TimeSavers, I just let you work for TimeSavers again?"

Seriously, it was like God could dream bigger than I could. (just like with our and here...)  To me, it was really one of those moments where I realized things really work better when you just get out of His way and let Him be in control,  I am sure there is a clever motivational t-shirt that says something like that.

I got this t-shirt from D-man and J-Girl for Christmas.  I LOVE it.  One fun side of working for Minnesota cities is I get to listen to Minnesota accents again on a regular basis.  Let me just say to my southern friends....okay, I hear it now.  LOL 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

February Summary - Part 2

Okay, I know I am boring some of you, but, I promised part 2, so here is part 2!

A-man had a buddy sleep over for his birthday.  They decided it was a great idea to jump in the pool so they could say they were the first ones in.  Lol! (If you can, zoom in on his face when we comes off the slide!)  They actually stayed in longer than I expected.  Good thing we splurged and got a hot tub too!

A-man, has also succumbed to the lure of the t.v. show Vampire Diaries....thanks to his older sisters.  Much of it is filmed in a nearby town, and friends just named their baby after one of the characters in the show. So, for his birthday lunch, he picked the restaurant from the show.  (I will admit I have never watched the show, so I know nothing about the show or the restaurant - but apparently it is a big deal to be in the same spot that you have seen in the show)

 Isn't he looking like a man?!?

I will say the food was quite good and not super expensive.

We didn't really celebrate A-man's birthday much on his actual birthday, because D-man wasn't around and Rainman was working.  We waiting until the next day, because we took a drive up to North Carolina to go tubing.  We have timeshare points that we could use up there, so we could stay for free.  With all the almost snow events we have had here that last few years, the kids have really just been heartbroken that they don't get to build real snowmen or go sledding.  So, Rainman said, this year we were going to take them up into the mountains and do some snow stuff.

We just barely succeeded.  They have had a very warm patch and we happened to get there on the very last day that they had the ski slopes and tubing hill open.  It was a balmy...50 or so.  It was wet and slushy on the hill and brown and bare ground everywhere else.  Not enough for snow for snowmen, but we did throw a bit of it at each other.

When we got to the hill, I scoffed at its size.  It seemed small and I totally did the mom thing  - inside my head "What a rip off!  We paid that much for this little baby hill!  What are we going to do for 2 hours?!?"

Let me just say, that hill was a lot scarier at the top than it was at the bottom.  We spent the entire 2 hours going down in various formations and partnerships.  All of us.  I will say I didn't go as many times as everyone else.  After the second time I landed at the bottom of the hill and whooshed right past the protective rubber mats onto the gravel and tar beyond, at speeds that made me realize why they had me sign a waiver acknowledging that I may get hurt and releasing them from any and all accountability, I took a break and watched.

I left my phone/camera in the car, but, luckily, my teenagers didn't and captured some of our fun for you.

 See?  It doesn't look that big and scary, does it?

We succeeded in doing an 8 person train a few times.  The people at the bottom said it was like a Christmas card was coming down the hill.  But, somehow, none of us thought to leave a camera with one of them and ask them to take our picture or a video while we careened down the hill.  So, we have these action shots instead.

The warm weather took its toll on the businesses around town too.  We had a hard time finding a restaurant that was open or didn't have an hour wait.  Plus, many of them seemed to be shutting down the next day for renovations or spring cleaning. (more later on why this is important) We ended up eating at the first place we had tried and walked out after were were told it would be an hour or so wait, not because they were busy, but because they had 3 staff members up and quit earlier that day.  But, as we traipsed around town trying to find something else that was open, the ones that were all had a long wait too.  We realized that the first place had smelled fantastic and was close to our hotel, so we really wanted to eat there.  So, we called them and made sure that they would still seat us if we came back and they did.  They even remembered that we were the big party with the birthday boy.

As D-man said later that night for a night were just about everything that could go wrong....actually went wrong, it was one of the best experiences that we have ever had at a restaurant. Food wise and service wise.  Seriously.  They had 3 workers quit and they were closing the very next day for renovations.  What went wrong?  For example, we would order a salad with spring greens and ranch.  The waiter would take our order.  Go to the kitchen.  Come back and say, that he was very sorry, they were out of spring greens....would be like a spinach salad instead.  Sure, we would say.  Then he would come back and say that they no longer had any ranch dressing and give us another option.  Seriously, just about everything we ordered initially they were out of and had to be tweaked somehow.  We lost count of how many trips back to the table our waiter and the manager made to apologize and offer us a different tweaked option than what was on the menu.  It was almost like we were being punk'd or on candid camera, except we weren't.  We just laughed.

The skeleton staff that was still employed there was super nice.  We were planning to go back to our hotel room and open presents, but A-man wanted to open up with birthday cards while we were there and lo and behold, turns out it was the manager's birthday also. (For real.  We thought maybe he was lying to try to bond with us, but we overheard him telling someone else it was actually his birthday, so we know he wasn't just sucking up to us.) We were just getting ready to leave and he sort of corralled us and said that we had to go sit back down.  Out he came with cupcakes for the whole family and singing Happy Birthday for A-man!

We realized later that we are pretty sure he sacrificed his own birthday cupcakes  that his staff or someone had gotten for him and gave them to A-man, because this was kind of a little hole in the wall bar and grill that didn't even have dessert options on the menu.

The next day, we drove about a 45 minute drive through the foggy mountain roads to visit with our niece and her family who run an outdoor store there.  We stopped to see a few waterfalls along the way.

This last one was a big beautiful one with walking trails down the side.  But, the path had a chain across it and said it was closed because of icy conditions.  Guess who that stopped?

A-girl and I were the only rule followers who wouldn't climb over the chain and go to the bottom.  LOL

D-man had to get back to campus, so he left from there and we took a different twisty road through the fog back to our hotel and the next day, headed back home again.  When we got home it was like summer.  It was in the high 70s/low 80s and the kids decided they were going in the pool....even though the water was only in the low 70s.  But, it was a fun finish to our quick trip away for some winter-ish fun.