This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Am A Mother, and I Am Amazing

I am trying to find a part time job so that I can save up some extra money to furnish or buy a house in about 6 months.  (For those of you who read my blog regularly and know that we have put in a lease/purchase offer on a house, we have not yet heard back from the sellers if they accepted our offer yet.)  I got a lead on a potential job that meets all of my requirements -- part-time, flexible hours, ability to work some from home, and a salary that is above fast food worker.  It is assistant to a local real estate agent.  I have actually done work like this before...15 years ago.  So I inquired about the job via email, including my education, background, and availability.  I received an email back confirming that this position is everything I thought that it would be, and that based on the information I supplied, I would be a good candidate.  But there was a hitch -- they wanted a resume.

Now, I have done resumes for my husband for the past 14 years.  I have become an expert at presenting his work history, education, and skill set in such a way that he has continually improved in position and salary with every new job.  I have done numerous resumes for friends and family members -- utilizing my Marketing background to spin every aspect of their professional lives into a positive image to help them further their careers or simply get their first jobs.  But this was different.  This was ME.  I have discovered that my awesome resume writing skills are a lot like clarvoyance -- the don't work on me and my life. 

Years ago, before kids, I worked for Toshiba in outside sales.  I did very well.  I was good at reading people, determining what they needed, what they could and would spend, and providing those things in a professional and courteous manner.  After kids, I decided to stay out of corporate America (partly because I wanted to stay home, and partly because I was much more willing to deal with immaturity from my kids than I was from a lot of the executive types that I had worked with).  But I did work part time as a professional photographer.  I even ventured out on my own as a freelancer who did parties, weddings, some real estate, and even a little product photography to be used in print marketing.  But in the past 5 or 6 years, I haven't done anything professionally -- I have 4 kids, and became a "professional" Blogger and Facebook addict (neither of which produce income).

So as I sat down to make my first resume in 12 years, I was drawing a blank.  I didn't know what to include in my resume from my previous job history.  While working on other people's resume, I had been able to turn any job into relevent experience no matter how much it differed from the job that they were applying for, but as I thought back on my long job history (I started working and paying taxes when I was 13), the work seemed disconnected from what I was applying for.  Also, I wanted to make this resume easily convertable to apply for other positions in case this one didn't work out. 

The flashing cursor beneath my name and contact information was mocking me.

I tried to recall what I was like then -- in my high heels and power suit, briefcase in hand, meeting with CEOs and convincing them to buy what I was selling.  I don't remember.  I hate heels now.  I sometimes wear them to church, but to be fair, I take them off at church.  As I have stated before, my wardrobe now is a lot like Garanamals -- pick a pair of yoga pants and a random t-shirt, and everything matches.  I hadn't had a "meeting" in more than a decade unless you count a playdate at the park.  How was I supposed to translate 10 years of refereeing, butt and nose wiping, grocery shopping, and laundry into marketable skills?

I knew that I could do this.  I am smart.  I am educated.  I possess valuable skills that many employers could utilize.  But yet that stupid cursor was flashing "LOSER" at me.  So as an exercise, I approached the resume like I would approach a blogpost.  Make it honest.  Make it readable.  Make it relatable.  I immediately had ideas of what to include, and decided on a skill based resume using only my job as mom.  It got me past that flashing cursor that was taunting me, and although this is NOT what I will be sending to prospective employers, I would love to send it out and see if I got any offers.  
Ginger Caballero
123 Awesome Avenue
Blissful, Delusion  98765
To secure a position that will grant me temporary reprieve from the mundane insanity of motherhood to four young kids while not compromising my Facebook or Blog time.  Seeking a position that can provide the illusion of being a responsible adult, with a salary that will keep me in coffee and yoga pants until I die.

Stay at Home Wife and Mom to Young Children, October 1998 -- Present
Number of direct reports:  4
Indirect reports:  1

Voluntary, non-salaried position.  Resposibilities include but are not limited to teacher, student, detective, nutritionist, cook, maid, chauffer, accountant, negotiator, social secretary, personal hygiene assistant, seamstress, diplomat, warden, advocate, therapist, spiritual advisor, nurse, enforcer, manager, personal shopper, mediator, personal assistant, multi-medium artist (crayon, play-dough, sidewalk chalk, etc.), repair person, Santa Clause, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and miracle worker.  Solely responsible for end product, which is still currently in development. 


-- Ability to manage a group of vastly diverse individuals while leading them all to believe that they are actually in charge. 
-- Ability to multi-task without losing track of direct reports and their actions (ie; the ability to talk on the phone, while typing a blogpost, while doing laundry, while watching TV, while supervising the completion of homework, while updating my status on Facebook, etc.)

-- Ability to utilize every bit of creativity to produce something out of nothing (ie; the ability to aid in the completion of a book report/science project/diarama 25 minutes before bedtime the day before it is due without venturing out to the store, or to create a complete dinner to feed 6 people 2 days before payday out of 2 eggs, four packs of Ramen, and half a bag of frozen brocolli, etc.)

-- Ability to spin catastophic events into a positive while admitting nothing that would reflect poorly on management (ie; convincing the oldest girl that her favorite outfit that was ruined in the wash is an opportunity to shop for something new that she'll love even more while not mentioning that the reason it was ruined was that there was no attempt to read the label on how it should have been laundered.)

-- Ability to fairly and equally distribute resources on a daily basis (ie; Must be able to dole out the mac and cheese without hearing "He got more than me!" and be able to properly manage time each direct report has had in the 'good' chair, with the TV remote, on the computer, etc.)

-- Ability to think outside the box (while simutaniously not throwing the box away because it could be used for a diarama in the 11th hour.)

-- Ability to ignore distraction to accomplish the task at hand (ie; four young children chanting "Mom? Mamma? Mommy? Mom?" ad naseum as I am trying to write this resume.)

-- Ability to think on my feet (ie; I must always have an answer to "But why?" no matter how many times it is asked, or to provide a viable reason why child is unavailable for a social engagement with a kid they do not like, etc.)

--Ability to accomplish all of the above on 5 hours of sleep or less.


BA in English and Marketing from the University of Alabama, 1996 
Masters Degree in Common Sense and Ingenuity from the School of Life, ongoing study

 If you are a mom who is trying to return to the workforce, I hope that this reminds you how amazing you are for what you do.  That's what it did for me.  I finished my REAL resume after I finished this one.  If the employer is smart, she'll forgo any interviews and throw away all of the other applicants resumes and just hire me.  I have more skills than a recent college graduate -- skills that can only be obtained through years of being a mom.  I am awesome. (As are most mothers).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Still Live With My Parents

So, if you haven't guessed from the title of today's post, I still have not found a house.  The reason behind this perpetual nomadic state makes for a long convoluded story with a weak plot, but I will tell it anyway because that is what I do here.  (Oh, and before I forget, try to vote for me while you are here.  Over there on the right, there are 2 buttons you can click to move me up in the rankings on 2 different blog-ranking sites.  Thanks.)

Perhaps I should clarify that first statement about not finding a house -- I have found LOTS of houses.  Houses that are too small, too expensive, in crappy school districts, and just plain weird.  I have also found a couple that I would like to have.  Our financing options are limited though because when we moved from Georgia to Texas in the Fall of 2007, (you know, right when the housing market crashed?), we had a house that we couldn't sell.  We kept it going for about 20 months or so before we admitted defeat and filed bankruptcy in 2009.  I will not be eligible for an FHA loan until after December 29th of this year.  So we are looking for a lease purchase.  Now, I don't know about where you live, but here in North Alabama, lease/purchase is sort of code for "I want to live in your house and treat it like my own and then not really buy it" so sellers are a bit leary of those offers.  It doesn't matter that *I* am a serious buyer, since there is no way to convince them of that.  So we have had a rejection or 2 from our lease/purchase attempts. 

I thought that the first house we found was awesome.  Enough space that every kid would have their own room, nestled in the woods on over 2 acres of land, well within our budget, and although an older house, it was well taken care of with a very nostalgic feel.  And it had a pool.  Granted it was a small pool, and it was an older concrete pool, but still.  I LOVED it.  I took my parents to see it.  They burst my proverbial bubble about how awesome the house was.  I was so excited to show them this romantic cottage in the woods, and they saw a money trap and time vacuum.  Here is sort of how that went:

"Dad, look at this beautiful driveway!  It is almost a quarter of a mile long through the woods!  We'd have so much privacy!"

"You'd have to be cutting back those trees every few weeks or it will seal you in.  And who knows who could sneak up here on you.  Bugs will be bad too.  They'll eat you alive."

(Okay, maybe he had a point or two, but it would be totally worth it for the views.  Once they saw the house and everything, they'd agree.)

"Mom, look at all of the trees!  Can you imagine how gorgeous all of this will be in the Fall?!  I can sit on one of the screened in porches and sip coffee while admiring all of the fall colors!"

" will be pretty.  But you won't have time to be sitting on your porch admiring it because you'll have to be raking leaves most of the time."

(Oooookay....this was not going how I had planned it out in my head at all....)

"And look!  It has a little pool!  Just big enough for the kids and I to cool off in, but not so big that it dominates the backyard!"

"Pools are expensive to maintain.  And you'll have to be really careful with the kids to make sure no one drowns."

(Alright, my feelings were starting to get hurt and we hadn't even been INSIDE the house yet....)

"Look at the hardwoods!  At the fireplace!  Look at all of this space!  Its got a cute kitchen, a sunroom, a living room, dining room, den, and rec room!  We wouldn't be crowded at all in this house!  All the kids could have their own rooms.  Isn't it amazing??!!"

"It will probably cost a small fortune to heat and cool this place. How old is the roof?  You're going to have to have the chimney serviced or you'll burn down your house and half the hillside.  Have you checked on the plumbing?  The HVAC system?  What are the average utility bills?"

(Wow.  Just wow.)
Then there were concerns about the age of the house and how hard it might be to maintain.  There were concerns abut the schools (although I had already checked them out).  Then they said that it seemed pretty far away.  Seriously?  I just moved here from TEXAS.  Up until a few weeks ago, I was 13 hours away and now this 20 minute drive is too far out?!  It didn't matter that they had valid points, they had rained on my parade. 

It turned out to be a moot point since the sellers wouldn't consider a lease/purchase, but still....

So we kept looking.  We found a house in a pretty much perfect location -- halfway between my parents and my in-laws.  Good schools, nice lot, but smaller than the house in the woods -- the kids would have to share rooms.  The sellers will consider a lease purchase, and they have agreed to a lower rent payment than what they had originally asked for since we want to buy it, but they have yet to accept our offer.  And there is some work that needs to be done to this house -- it needs painint, some of the facia boards need to be replaced, and the master bathroom looks like something out of an old "Designing Women" episode from 1985.  Its got dark green counters, tub, and shower with brass fixtures and dark green, bold, floral wallpaper.  Suprisingly, all of the work that is apparent on THIS house, did not freak my parents out even a little bit like the potential for work on the other house. 

I value their opinions, that is why I asked them to see the houses in the first place.  And I know that they worry about us biting off more than we can chew (not just financially, but in every other way as well).  I did point out that the longer it takes for us to find a place to live, the longer me and my 4 kids will be camping out at their house....and as much as we all loe each other, if we ended up here for 6 months we might not feel the same way when it was over.  My dad literally JUST retired -- like a week before we got here.  And he has already been doing some consulting at his old job -- probably to escape my kids for a day or two a week.  They are used to us coming to visit for 6 weeks, but 6 months would most likely drive us all nuts. 

So for now, we are still homeless.  We are saving a lot of money by not having to pay rent and utilities, but we would really like to have our own place.  In addition to invading my parent's home, I have had to reconcile myself to the fact that they are not used to this either.  The other night, as I was leaving to go to my in-laws house, my dad said "Now, where are you going and when will you be home?"  I felt like I was 16 again.  I mean, I haven't had a curfew in about 20 years and it seems a little odd to have to answer questions like that while I am walking out of the house with my 4 kids in tow.  Besides the awkwardness of living with my parents, school is starting in August and it is almost July.  If we have to enroll the kids in school out here where my parents live, and then change their school a few months into the school year, that would not be good.  I am under a lot of pressure to find somewhere that works and FAST (and that is one reason that I haven't been on the computer much).  Also, my way of doing things differs greatly from my parents....but that is a whole other story that would take too long to go into here. 

In the meantime, pray for me, my kids, my husband, and especially my parents and their sanity as we continue to encrouch on their golden years of retirement with 4 rowdy kids who fight over the TV, the computer, and the "good" chair, and who turn their noses up at dinner (and lunch, and breakfast....).  While I usually tune them out until I hear breaking glass or smell smoke, that is a skill that I have developed over time and one that my parents never really had.  I pray that they will continue to put up with us until we can find our own place to call home and before my kids destroy theirs.....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moving Perils

I have been neglecting my duties as Blogger Extraordinaire over the past few weeks.  I've been otherwise engaged.  In my last post, I told you that we were moving halfway across the country to go back to our hometown.  Well, we are here, and hubby has started his new job, but the move was not without some pretty major complications.  Let me explain.

I am not sure that I mentioned this here, but about 6 weeks ago or so, my 8 year old, Bella got sick.  She was sick for 2 weeks.  She had pneumonia.  Well, less than a week after she went back to school, Jackson (the nearly 4 year old got it).  I was busy packing, dodging calls from annoying moving companies, and giving stuff away, but we took him to the doctor and found out that HE had pneumonia.  The weekend before the moving truck arrived, I got sick.  I had pneumonia.  I also had new sympathy for my kids who had gone through this.  It was terrible.  My fever peaked at over 103.  I felt like crap.  And we were supposed to be moving.  I was too busy to be sick (I was also too sick to be busy).  Less than 2 days later, despite the fact that he had taken Zicam, Airborne, Vitamin C, Zinc, and everything else he could think of to avoid it, my husband got sick with what the doctor called PRE-pneumonia.  Then, the day of the move, my 5 year old, Lorelei, had a fever.  We gave her some medicine and sent her on to Alabama with her grandparents so that we could load the truck, but the next day after a trip to the ER, it was confirmed that SHE had pneumonia.  So, Bella was well, Jackson was recovering, I was in the throes of death, my husband was teetering on the edge of getting sick and Lorelei was sick in Alabama while we were still in Texas trying to take care of everything.  It sucked.  I wasn't just sick -- I was MAN sick.  The doctor had given me 2 shots -- a steroid and a powerful antibiotic, as well as 2 different oral antibiotics.  I was curl up on the bed and not even watch TV or read sick.  I didn't even drink coffee for 2 days because it was all I could do to take in enough food and fluids to act as catalyst for my 2 antibiotics.  I could not help load the truck (which was it's own ordeal), and the drive to Alabama which I have done dozens of times was too far for me to tackle in one day -- we stopped and spent the night in Vicksburg, MS.  That alone made the move hard, but unfortunately, it was not our only hiccup.

Although we had originally planned on renting a truck, loading it and driving it ourselves, I was becoming increasingly worried about space.  Yes, we gave a good amount of our stuff away, but we had A LOT of stuff crammed into that house.  But I still wasn't keen on the cost factor of hiring movers.  I found a middle of the road option -- hire a truck and driver, but pack and load the truck ourselves.  This turned out to be a great IDEA, and would have worked well....except that it didn't.  We thought that we had quite a few friends in Texas.  We had been members at one church and we had been visiting another church for several months, but had not placed membership.  Yet, when I tried to recruit help to load the truck, everyone was too busy to help.  Not even for an hour or 2.  One of my friends and her husband came to help, and we ended up hiring 2 of my neighbor's friends at $15 an hour.  The truck that we hired was promised by noon.  It didn't show up until 1:30.  We were told that we could hire the driver to help load.  Nope, our driver had a steel plate in his back and couldn't lift anything (although he was able to open the truck and put the rather heavy ramp in place, so I am not sure if he was unable or just lazy).  We were told that we could put our 2nd car on the truck.  Sure, for $350 and we'd have to hire a tow truck to lift the car onto the truck and then hire another one to take it off once we got to Alabama because there was not a ramp that you could drive on.  It was cheaper and less hassle to drive it, but we were sick, so driving the whole distance in one day didn't happen.  Then, despite me asking numerous times if a personal check would be fine upon delivery, they tell me that they'll need a certified check.  Well, this wouldn't have been a big deal, except the relocation money was not being paid out until AFTER my husband started his new job, so I had gotten my parents to front the money and leave me a check in Alabama since they were out of town.  (Luckily my brother in law stepped up and was able to get the funds converted).   Oh, and you know how dry Texas is?  Well, not on moving day.  On moving day, about an hour after the truck arrived, there was a monsoon -- torrential rain that blew sideways, thunder and lightning, etc.  So the front 1/3 of the truck was stacked all nice and neat, and the back half looked like my kids packed it because they were trying to get everything from the house and into the truck as quickly as possible.  My husband slipped on the ramp up to the truck and fell right on his backside bruising his tailbone -- he's still recovering from that.  If I believed in omens, I would have reconsidered moving at all. (Not really.  Come hell or high water, I was going HOME).

They finally got the truck loaded and the next morning we headed for home.  The truck company called me to check on everything, and I had to pull off of the highway to unleash my wrath.  The man who called was the same one I had talked to and arranged everything with (the owner of the company) and he kept stammering and saying "Well, um, now I think you may have misunderstood that...." I cut him off and said "Look, I am a fairly intelligent person, and while I concede that I might have misunderstood something you said, I DID NOT misunderstand EVERYTHING you said.  Now I am praying that you are a lot better at transporting things than you are at communicating them because you suck at communication."  I had had it.  I was very sick, it was still raining, and I was not in the mood to be patronized.  I felt a little bit sorry for him after I was done, but I had made my point and the worst of it was hopefully behind us.  Surprisingly, we had no further issues with them after that.

After 2 days of driving, we finally made it to Huntsville.  I still had a fever.  Lorelei was still sick.  We had to meet the truck at the storage facility at 8:00 the next morning.  My parents were out of town.  My husband's parents were watching the 4 kids.  I had been posting on Facebook about the move and the obstacles I was hitting with getting help to load in Texas and all of my Alabama friends were commenting with things like "Let me know when you get here and I will help!" and "I wish I could be in Texas to help you, but once we get you here, I can do whatever you need!"  However, a couple of days prior to arriving in Alabama, I had posted when and where I would need help and none of those people stepped up.  So then I started asking specific people -- but no one was available.  One of Gary's friends came, 2 of my friends came with their kids (one brought her husband for a little while) and one person from my home church showed up.  We got it done, but it would have gone so much faster if all of those who had pledged their help had followed through. 

So we are here.  We are home, but currently homeless.  It doesn't quite feel real yet.  Every Summer I come here with the kids and we stay with my parents and my in laws for about 6 weeks, so it feels a lot like that right now, except that I am looking for a house.  The house hunting process is a story in and of itself, so I will give it it's own post after I actually find a house.  At this point, we might end up in an apartment for a few months so that we can take our time.  I will try to get back in my groove of posting here more frequently, but I am trying to find a place to live before my children destroy my mom's house, or force my dad to abandon retirement just so he can go to work to get some peace and quiet.