Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A shower on the fly!

It's times like these when you really find out who your friends are that you can rely on.

In the space of about 48 hours, I have had numerous friends come forward and offer to help with the shower. My friend C (the new hostess) has got everything under control, and other friends have offered to bring food, drinks, wine, champagne, paper products...I even have a punch bowl coming on loan! It's just amazing how everyone has pulled together so that I can still have a shower, not have to kill myself to do it, and spend time with my friend S, who I probably won't see again for a long time.

I finally let P talk me into ordering premade fruit and vegetable trays, so I'm not really going to have to make that much food after all...just my famous spinach and artichoke dip, the recipe for which P is scouring our computer for at the moment, deviled eggs, punch, and chocolate dipping sauce for the fruit. We are in GOOD shape, and this shower is going to be very nice and very special. I'm again looking forward to it so much.

(edited for content)

I have some very sad news on another note...the last two dogs that my mom owned from when my sister V and I were in high school passed away this week, so all four of them now are at the Rainbow Bridge. I knew it was coming since they were all so old, but to lose the last two within hours of each other, I know, has to be very hard on my mom.

I'm looking outside now for the locusts.

Anyway, that's all that's going on from here. I'm going back to work tomorrow, albeit with a very sore throat from all the running around and stress over the last week. I just hope it's allergies and not anything serious like a cold...because all I am left with to take is Tylenol.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The definition of disappointment

(edited for content)

Monday, September 26, 2005

The purpose of bereavement leave

As soon as my mother-in-law became really sick and took a turn for the worse, I immediately went to our company's website and looked up our policy on bereavement leave. It stated that I can take up to five days of paid leave with management's approval. I was amazed. I can't believe they give you up to a week off with no questions asked when you have a death in the immediate family, and a mother-in-law qualifies as immediate family. I emailed my supe, and he wrote back and said that five days was fine if I needed it. Wow.

P on the other hand, checked with his boss, and it turns out that he only gets three paid days, so he decided to take all three, and I did the same. I told my boss that I would be back on Thursday, but would come back Wednesday or Tuesday if I could.

All the while, I'm thinking, why would you need to take off that much time from work? I'm very much a person that believes in getting back into the routine when something like this happens, and I don't like to wallow.

However, NOW I realize WHY they give you that much time. I've never felt so physically and emotionally exhausted in my life, and I'm pretty sure that P feels the same way.

We got the call at 2:30 am Friday morning that my mother-in-law had passed. P rushed right over there, and since he wouldn't let me come with him, I laid in bed awake until about 4:30 am crying. He called to give me an update around 6:30 am (another hour lying in bed awake crying) and then again at 9:15 am (at which point I gave up on sleep). He, on the other hand, slept for maybe an hour before breakfast that morning after the funeral home came and picked her up. Keep in mind please that we did not go to bed Thursday night until about 1 am.

Friday, I spent the day working and getting things in order with work so I could take a few days off. He spent the day with his family making funeral arrangements. He didn't get home until about 5:30 pm. That's a LONG time with little sleep. Needless to say, he fell right asleep before I could even order a pizza, and we both fell asleep pretty early after dinner.

Saturday was the first wake from 1-4. We were there for every minute of it, and then went to his parents' house for dinner after that to eat and visit, and then over to his sister's house that night to visit some more. I didn't come home until 11 pm; P decided to hang out at his sister's house with his brother and brother-in-law and cousin and "visit" some more..."visit" meaning hang out, play Texas Hold 'Em and drown their sorrows in a case of beer. I can't really say I blame them...had I been able to drink, I would have been tossing 'em back too.

Sunday I woke up early, went out to the store, and proceeded to cook a HUGE feast of food to take to my in-laws' house to have to eat after the second viewing and first service. I made a 10 lb bag of mashed potatoes, yeast rolls, a cheesecake with strawberry sauce, a pecan pie, an apple pie, brownies, gravy, and boiled three dozen eggs. I didn't get to devil the eggs like I had planned, but they were at least cooked. Talk about getting acquainted with your kitchen! I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the afternoon. P had gone to the second viewing (I stayed home to cook) so I was doing this all by myself. Anyway, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law came over to our house about an hour before the service, and helped me load the car, which we then drove to my in-laws' house, unloaded, and then went to the service, which was about two hours long. After that, it was back to their house to eat the food I had made and the brisquet that the parents of one of my other brothers-in-law made. My back and legs were really cursing me for putting them through the afternoon of agony in the kitchen (even though I wore my running shoes) but seeing the look on my father-in-law's face when he realized all the food I made and hearing him say, "Erica, THANK YOU" made it all worth it.

We didn't get home from there until about 1 am. And I think the carpet at the church had fleas, because both of my feet from the ankle line down were completely itchy all night and felt like they were on fire.

Today was the big day...the funeral. We woke up exhausted and in pretty low spirits. Something about the finality of the burial just really got us...and neither one of us was ready to say goodbye.

But we did. My mother-in-law is finally at peace and with the God that she loved so much, and I know that she'll be looking down on us and on McKenna and our other children. The service was absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking and I know that she loved it. After the service and interment, we went back (again) to eat at my inlaws' house, and that's when the weekend really caught up with me. I think all of the factors combined really did a number on me...the bad salty carby food, lack of sleep, not enough water to drink, stress, the flea bites, loads of time on my feet, 100 degree heat while wearing all black clothing, etcetera. My fingers started to swell up, my feet, ankles and toes did the same, I got the worst case of gas and indigestion you can possibly imagine, my throat started to hurt, and my head is throbbing.

So, back to my original question...what is the purpose of bereavement leave? To give you time to recover from the MASSIVE family event! I am in NO way prepared to go back to work tomorrow. I'm exhausted! P feels the same way! We both are just going to take it easy the next two days and kind of get things in order in our heads and in our bodies, and THEN return to work.

Anyway, that's the status of our weekend. I thank everyone for the prayers and thoughts that you sent out to P and I. E is gone, and we will miss her terribly. Things will never be the same without her. But she is no longer in any pain, and she is in Heaven, a much better place. That thought will give us comfort for years to come.

And...before I's a new belly picture at 32 weeks.

Image hosted by

Just for comparison, here's my 25 week picture:

Image hosted by

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The loss of an angel

My mother-in-law, Elvira, passed away yesterday morning around 2 am.

The wake is scheduled for today, a private viewing for tomorrow, and the burial on Monday.

I appreciate everyone's thoughts, prayers and condolences. Thank you in advance.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A pleasant way to spend an evening...

After watching Survivor, CSI and E.R., we turned on the evening news to watch the hurricane update, and one of the lead stories they had on there was about the gas shortage. They showed a gas station in downtown Dallas with horrifically long lines.

Which reminded P and I that all three of our vehicles were on E. And apparently a lot of the area around us was reminded too.

So we spent the next hour filling up all of our tanks. I only had to wait about ten minutes to fill up my Magnum at 7-11, which then promptly ran out of gas, but filling up the Honda was VERY problematic as the Chevron I went to had the credit card readers turned off and you had to give them a credit card (like a tab at a bar) to hold your place, then wait for the car in front of you to pay so they could reset the pump, and THEN come back in and pay. What a ridiculous system. That took me a good forty-five minutes.

At least everyone in line was in fairly good spirits...we were all joking about how we must have all been watching the evening news at the same time.

Anyway, the prediction is that gas will be $5/gallon by the end of the day tomorrow, so I am QUITE relieved that we have three full tanks of gas. I already told P that he's driving my company car wherever he goes tomorrow since I am at home so we can save the gas that we bought. We were planning on going to the lake this weekend, but not any more...we canceled when the people at the resort told us that they are being swamped with calls from Rita evacuees (we are lucky that we have a place to live) and also when the predictions about gas costs started coming in.

Like I said earlier, Rita is going to make life VERY interesting for Texas the next few weeks. I pray and hope that it's not as bad as Katrina. We sure do seem to be more prepared than New Orleans was, that's for sure, but if anyone has seen on the news how many oil drilling platforms are in Rita's path, not to mention the refineries, it's going to make gas prices ugly.

Dallas, in case anyone is wondering, is in the direct path of Rita, but the weathermen are predicting that it will probably be a tropical storm by the time it gets here...worst case, a Cat 1. Most likely, we'll have really heavy rains (which we need badly) and high winds. But the other effects of the hurricane are going to be non-weather related...we're talking massive amounts of people here, high gas prices, limited resources for food, etcetera.

And of course, my wonderful company has already gotten it together to put a COMMERCIAL on television advertising how prepared we are for Rita. I would prefer not to say which company it is, but trust me, if you saw it and heard how we are bringing in 200 adjusters to work the storm and have emergency operators on call all weekend, you know which company it is. And I'm one of those emergency operators since I'm on call all weekend. It should make life interesting!

(edited for content)

Okay, I have GOT to go to bed. I'm exhausted. Today has been emotionally draining!!!

Baby news

I had my 32 week checkup today and it went pretty well. I went in expecting a huge lecture on my weight gain, and didn't get one...I think my doctor let it go after measuring me and realizing that this baby is now measuring two weeks ahead! It explains why I feel and look like I'm carrying a large watermelon.

Anyway, it looks like I get to see what my daughter looks like ahead of doctor wants to do another ultrasound at 38 weeks (November 1) and see how big McKenna is at that point, and then we will discuss early induction. I don't really want to do that, but she is worried that if I wait and let her come on her own that she'll be so big, it'll cause me to have delivery problems, ie, necessitating a Caesarean. I'd rather be induced.

So, that's the plan. We'll see how it goes. Otherwise, blood pressure looks good, I look good, and my back hurts, which apparently I just have to live with. The only negative thing about McK coming early is that if she does come early, I will have to either go back to work right before Christmas or take a few weeks off unpaid since I can't use my vacation time from 2006 until it IS actually 2006. So that has me a little worried, but not as worried as I would be if I had to have a C-section.

(edited for content)

With regards to my mother-in-law, there has been absolutely no change. She is clinging to life by her fingertips.

Work for me, with one of the biggest storms in history on its way to Texas, is going to be very interesting the next few weeks. I of course am pretty useless right now for field work, and my doctor today put me on a restriction to the Dallas-Fort Worth area (ie, no trips to Austin or Houston in my future, not that I'd want to!). There are a few alternatives...they can either have me supervise adjusters coming into the Dallas area from all over the country, they can give me lots of water and fire claims, or just continue to train A which was the original plan all along. For now, I get to be on after-hours this weekend for the Houston area, which I'm sure will be just delightful considering that all the emergency contractors to do board-ups and tarp roofs have evacuated.

Anyway. That was my crappy day. I'll update more later.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Looks like this is it...

P got the call yesterday from his family that my mother-in-law stopped breathing a few times yesterday and that she is progressively shutting down even further. The hospice nurse that is caring for her doesn't expect her to survive more than another day or two.

Even though we saw this coming, it's not going to make it any easier when it actually does happen. For E, I'm happy that it's almost over, because apparently she's in a lot of pain right now, and is very anxious and upset.

However, I am so sad for my husband and my brothers and sisters-in-law, particularly for my father-in-law who hasn't even conceptualized the idea of life without his wife yet and what he is going to do now, for all my nieces and nephews that are losing their first grandparent, for all of us that will have to come to know life after her , and for my children that will never ever know what a wonderful person that she is and what a wonderful life she led.

And I am sad for me. Thanksgiving will never be the same again without her. I'll never taste her tamales again at Christmas. I'll never get to make her another pineapple upside down cake. She'll never get to hold her next grandchild in her arms. She'll never come over for dinner, which was one of my hopes after we got the house all done. She won't come to my shower. Even though she is my mother-in-law and not my true mother, she's more a part of my life than my actual mother is and I'm going to miss her terribly.

And I can't believe that P and I are already losing a parent. The best year of our life will always be coupled with the worst year of our life, and if I could do anything to make it not so, I would.

Please keep us in your prayers this week and I'll post an update when we get the call.

As for me pregnancy-wise, I'm fine...just extremely uncomfortable. I spent the day yesterday cleaning the house, and I paid for it all night last night...every muscle and bone in my body is aching this morning and I couldn't get comfortable to save my life last night.

I have repairmen coming this morning to repair the vinyl floor again since the repair that they originally did didn't work and the tear is lifting up, and we bought a new washing machine Saturday that hopefully will be delivered sometime in the next few days. Our washer is still working but it's making dreadful noises when we use it, and I'll really hate myself if we don't buy one and then all of a sudden the thing explodes during the spin cycle and floods our house. Our Wilsonart laminate flooring is pretty darn good, but it won't survive a flood, and neither will our cabinets, furniture, new kitchen flooring, etcetera.

Anyway, that's the status for me. I'm going to work very hard today to get a lot done in the event that I have to take the rest of the week off.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A new picture finally of Noah's Submarine

Were you wondering when I was ever going to update that picture of Noah's Sub? It's updated now! I have been working on the same ten hours all summer, but I finally hit the next mark and the jellyfish is done.

I'm not really sure what I am going to do. I think my chances of finishing Noah's Submarine are very slim, but then again, the house IS done and there's not going to be much to do over the next eight weeks but hang out around the house and rest, so I guess I'll press on and see what happens.

I had a meeting with my managers today and they informed me that my replacement, A, is going to start taking the claims when she gets back from school on October 3, and I will just "shadow" her, meaning that I will go with her on the claims, but she'll be the one doing the work, talking, setting stuff up, etcetera, and I'll just be watching to make sure she does everything correctly and helping her measure, inventory, etcetera. It'll still be field work, but compared to what I have been doing, it'll be GREAT. I can't wait. I just need to hang in there for two more weeks.

I wish I had more news to report, but I honestly don't. Things are pretty status quo at the moment. My days consist of work, eating, and falling asleep on the couch before I mosey on into the bedroom and collapse in bed. I'm sleeping pretty well, but it seems like no matter what, I can't get enough sleep. This weekend I have nothing scheduled or planned to do other than laundry and cleaning. P is going to assemble the crib, and that's his big task for the weekend.

We are also going to go look for a new washing machine. Ours is nine years old, and has been making some absolutely horrible noises lately. We're both VERY afraid that the thing is going to break now that we have completely redone our house...Murphy's Law and all we're not going to take a chance. We're just going to go get a new one. We need a new dryer too, but ours still has a few miles left on it.

I'd say that the best news I have from this week is that I think P and I found daycare for McKenna. One of my coworkers that lives in the area gave us a recommendation for a place in the area that his four-year-old son has gone to since he was a newborn, and I called this week and talked to them for a while. We were really impressed. We have a tour scheduled for a week from Monday, but I think we're probably going to go with them and reserve a spot in the 'baby class' for McKenna. (All the kids are 'students', the caregivers 'teachers', the groups 'classes', and the money you pay every week is 'tuition'.) Having that solidified really has put my mind at ease. I also made the decision this week that I'm going to take eight weeks off from work, so having a plan in mind now really makes me feel better.

Off to bed now...I can't believe I'm still awake at this hour! It's only because I took an hour's nap when I got home from work!

Monday, September 12, 2005

My finished bookcase

My nursery is really coming together! Please take a look at my big accomplishment for the weekend:

Nursery bookcase

Also, I took more pictures and updated the site...afters for the hall and entry, and at-night afters of the living room and dining room.

At last, my house is complete.

And sadly, I have accepted the inevitable...that I will not finish Noah's Submarine in time for the baby. My house decided to be more important.

But I sure am glad that it did. P and I like this version of nuestra casa MUCH better.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

More about me that you didn't know!

First, I've gotten quite a few emails that my pictures were too dark, so tonight after the sun goes down and we have finished the hall and entry, I'll rephotograph the living room and dining room.

Quick little update on work...I had a long meeting yesterday with my office manager and he doesn't think it's a good idea for any adjuster to sit in as a supervisor until they are officially a sup, so it looks like I'm coming back from maternity leave as an adjuster!

Today I am spending on my baby bookcase. It needs to be done before I'm so uncomfortable I can't even move!

And now, more about me that you didn't know! Courtesy of a mama lama!

Bold the things that are true about you, and add something at the end.

I am bisexual.
I am homosexual.
I've run away from home.
I listen to political music.
I collect comic books.
I shut others out when I'm sad.
I open up to others easily.
I am keeping a secret from the world.
I watch the news.
I own over 5 rap CDs.
I own an ipod.
I own something from Hot Topic.
I love Disney movies.
I am a sucker for hair/eyes.
I don't kill bugs.
I curse regularly.
I have "x"s in my screen name.
I've slipped out a "lol" in a real conversation.
I love Spam.
I bake well.
I would wear pajamas to school.
I own something from Abercrombie.
I have a job.
I love Martha Stewart.
I am in love with someone.
I am guilty of tYpInG lIkE tHiS.
I am self-conscious.
I like to laugh.
I smoke a pack a day.
I loved Go Ask Alice.
I have cough drops when I'm not sick.
I can't swallow pills.
I have many scars.
I've been out of this country.
I believe in ghosts.
I can't sleep if there is a spider in the room.
I am really ticklish.
I love chocolate.
I bite my nails.
I am comfortable with being me.
I play computer games/video games when I'm bored.
I've gotten lost in the city.
I've seen a shooting star.
I have had two serious surgical procedures.
I've gone out in public in my pajamas.
I have kissed a stranger.
I've hugged a stranger.
I've been in a fist fight with the same sex.
I've been arrested.
I've laughed and had milk/soda come out of my nose.
I've pushed all the buttons on an elevator.
I've made out in an elevator.
I've sworn at my parents.
I've kicked a guy where it hurts.
I've been skydiving.
I've been bungee jumping.
I've broken a bone.
I've played spin the bottle.
I've gotten stitches.
I've drank a whole gallon of milk in one hour.
I've bitten someone.
I've been to Niagara Falls.
I've gotten the chicken pox.
I've crashed into a car.
I've been to Asia.
I've ridden in a taxi.
I've shoplifted.
I've had feelings for someone who didn't have them back.
I've stole something from my job.
I've gone on a blind date.
I've had a crush on a teacher/coach.
I've celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
I've been to Europe.
I've slept with a co-worker.
I've been married.
I've gotten divorced.
I've saw someone dying.
I've driven over 400 miles in one day.
I've been to Canada.
I've been on a plane.
I've seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I've thrown up in a bar.
I've eaten Sushi.
I've been snowboarding.
I've been Skiing.
I've been ice skating.
I've met someone in person from the internet.
I've been to a car show.
I'm going to or have gone to college.
I've done hard drugs.
I've taken painkillers.
I've met a celebrity.
I like playing practical jokes.
I once swore Disco would never die.
I hate surprises.
I've been to the World Trade Center.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Whose house is this?

I've now posted after pictures of my dining room and living room. Our furniture was delivered yesterday, we went and bought slipcovers for the new couches to protect them from my evil destructive cats and my slightly less evil but no less destructive Labs, everything's cleaned up, and the carpets were cleaned yesterday. And I ask the question again...whose house IS this?

Here's the link to the living room, and here's the link to the dining room.

All we literally have left is baseboards in the hall and that's it. I can't believe we are done. I'm going to spend some time this weekend working on the baby bookcase and touching up some paint areas where the furniture guys scuffed up the walls plus the baseboards, and we have some last trim pieces to mount in the kitchen and little random things like that, but otherwise, this remodeling journey is at an END, thank GOD.

Thanks to everyone for all the support this summer, and thanks for all the good wishes after my scare earlier this week. I am happy to report that McKenna is kicking her mommy happily now on a regular basis, and I've never been so relieved to feel those feet in my ribs.

And look!! Thirty weeks today! YIKES! It's getting close!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The scare of my life

Today started out as any normal day. I woke up, got ready for work, went to work, stopped and got a snack on the way out, and spent the day out at my fire. It was a crazy busy day, hotter than you-know-what, I had lunch with my replacement at work, A, and my investigator, G at a Mexican place, and stopped on the way home to get a Gatorade.

I got home and realized around 6 pm that I hadn't felt my daughter move all day.

Panicked of course, I get online and start reading about fetal movements and what is customary at this point in the pregnancy. I stalk one of my pregnant friends online and ask her what I should do. She recommends that I eat and drink something cold. I get a Popsicle and down a full glass of tea. Nothing.

I call the on-call doctor and ask her what I should do. She tells me to eat a light dinner, drink a cold drink, and lie down for a while, but if the baby doesn't start up pretty quick, she wants me to go to Labor and Delivery at the hospital just to be sure. I try that and lie down for about forty-five minutes. I felt a few flutters, but nothing like I've felt the last few weeks. I call P (who is at his parents' house) just to let him know, and I can tell he's scared to death. He tells me to get ready and he's coming home to take me to the ER.

Does everyone remember the last time I was at the emergency room of my hospital??????

Anyway, it all turned out fine. They got me right into a private room, slapped a fetal monitor on me and a blood pressure cuff, and I got to joyously listen to my daughter's heartbeat uninterrupted for about forty-five minutes. It was the best sound I've ever heard. And surprisingly, my blood pressure is way down...116/63. I was very pleased to see that.

And of course, what does the little twerp do as soon as I get in there and her heartbeat is being monitored? She starts kicking me. HARD. So hard it comes off as static on the monitor. I was really relieved that we went in, but at the same time I felt kind of embarrassed, like I was making something out of nothing.

I think the worst thing about the whole night was seeing the worry on my husband's face. It was the same expression that he had the night I miscarried. I just don't know what I would have done if I had lost this baby. I went back tonight and reread my blog entries from after the miscarriage. And being in that was just too eerily familiar.

But the best thing about tonight was realizing that my daughter was okay and seeing my husband's look of relief when he realized that she was okay...hearing her heartbeat nice and strong on the monitor...and the nurse telling me that I have a "gorgeous baby girl" in there. At first, we were like, "Hello, did you do an ultrasound when we weren't looking?" but she told us that the heartbeat patterns are what she was calling gorgeous...they were fluctuating just like they should.

And of course, what is she doing now? Kicking me. HARD!

This is probably as good a time as any. I don't think I had posted the name we decided on in my blog...we were kind of holding off until she was born to announce it. But when we went and registered and the Target and Babies R Us peeps asked for the baby's name, P went ahead and told them what it I guess we're safe.

*drum roll*

We're going to name her McKenna Lauren. If the ultrasound was wrong and it's a boy (which I seriously doubt), he'll be Diego Xavier.

The other cool thing about tonight was that I got to tour the labor and delivery area and see where I'll be giving birth. (Yes, I'm a dork and hadn't seen it yet. I mean, come on, let's get took me weeks just to register!!!) The rooms are VERY nice. Very big. Very clean. Very pretty. Beautiful hardwood floors.

Let's just hope my water breaks in the middle of the night or on the weekend and not in the field when I'm with A. Somehow I think she won't take it well. She told me today when we were in the field that she just started screaming when the last friend she was with went into labor. I'm going to have to come up with a plan to relax her so she can drive me to the hospital...either that or just have her drive her own car to ALL of our fires in October and just have P come get me, wherever I am.

Anyway, that was our exciting night.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Assembling a Pack and Play

It's NOT as easy as it sounds...or as P made it out to be. He was like, "oh, you can do it, it's ready to go, how hard can it be?"

As it turns out, very hard. I'm sure if all it was was the play yard, that'd be one thing, but of course I got the one with the bassinet and the changing table and the mobile and the vibrating thing that plays music. Lots of little parts. But it's all together now. That was my accomplishment for yesterday...and P's was putting up the blinds in the kitchen window.

As for the furniture saga, we were VERY successful. We went to the Room Store first, exactly where we bought our living room set five years ago, and we were equally successful again, but this time we were smarter. We bought a set of sage green microfiber sofas with a matching ottoman on sale, but no tables and no lamps since ours from five years ago are still fine. You can see them here. We also made sure this time that these sofas can accomodate slip covers, can be wet cleaned, and paid a little extra for the extended warranty and the Teflon coating, none of which we did last time and wish that we had. We also bought a dining room set, which you can see here. After we realized that to buy the four chairs alone would be more than 2/3 of the cost of a new set of a table plus six chairs, we elected to save ourselves the joy of refinishing and repairing our old table and just bite the bullet. This new table is very's a natural finish on the tops of the tables and chairs and a dark brown on the legs, and it's going to match our hutch just perfectly. But the best thing I like about it is that it is LARGE and can seat six people comfortably. That's awesome. Anyway, even with the table we stayed within our budget that I had set for the couches, so I'm happy. Everything is going to be delivered on Wednesday.

Today, I am hoping that I can inspire P to finish the hall baseboards and put up the drapery hardwares in the kitch, dining room and living room. We'll see how it goes. I'm going to try to get inspired myself to work on the bookcase. Compared to the work on the dresser, this is going to be a breeze, but I just don't want to get outside in the garage and do it. I also have tons of laundry to do and I'd like to get the office and our bedroom picked up since they have gotten somewhat (albeit not even close to their before state) cluttered yet again.

So, I guess that's about all from here. I'll take some pictures soon, I promise...I just really want to get the drapes up and the new furniture delivered before I do, but then I will. Everything is really coming together.

Happy Labor Day.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Three-day weekends

Three-day weekends are a wonderful thing. I have needed one for SO LONG now. It has seemed like several times over the last two months, I have worked and worked and worked, and gotten to about 4 pm on Sunday afternoon and thought, "If only I had one more day!" Now I do!

We had a very productive day yesterday...P set up our surround sound system, which is a lot trickier than it sounds. It was way easier to take it apart than it is to set it back up again. He also ran wires and things under the carpet so they are out of sight, and that takes time as well. As for me, I spent the day putting all of our things back on the wall, cleaning up the bathrooms, starting laundry, miscellaneous stuff. Last night P put our changing table and our entry table together. So it was a good day.

Today, our priority is furniture shopping. Now that our living room is done, we are constantly reminded of just HOW BAD these couches are. (Just as a reminder, these are the same couches that my dogs tore apart in May when we were on vacation.) They look so horrible. We checked a few furniture stores in the area, and of course they are all having fantastic holiday sales, so in a few hours, we're going to head out and see if we can find anything that we like. We are also going out in search of dining room chairs. We decided that we are going to find the chairs first, and then we are going to fix and paint our dining room table legs and stain the top. I'd really like a black and mahogany theme, but that will only happen if we can find four black chairs that we really like. So we'll see. We need to start working on that pronto though...I'm getting tired of not having a table to sit at in our dining room.

Another mission for today is window treatments...we still have two sets of blinds to put up, two paper shades, and four sets of drapes and drapery hardwares.

Otherwise, everything is going fine here. I told a few people at the office on Friday about my decision to go into management, and the reaction was overwhelming positive. Everyone was shocked, first of all, that they finally talked me into it, but very pleased and happy that I was going to be doing it, and thought that it was a great decision. My boss, K, is going to talk to our office manager on Tuesday and see if there is any possibility that they can just have me come back from maternity leave in January as an acting supervisor while I am going through the training, but we'll see how it goes. It sure would beat the field, that's for sure. Now that I am resigned to the fact that I'm leaving the field, I'm kind of looking forward to it!

So that's all from here. The baby is doing fine and getting bigger every day. I can't believe we're down to about two months to go!

I hope everyone has a lovely Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Making the transition

What else could have me up at 3:30 am other than more tossing and turning over work? Well, other than my daughter tossing and turning, that is.

Two weeks ago, the last time I blogged about work, I was all set that large loss was the way I was going to go. Funny how things can change in the blink of an eye...or, in my case, the eye of a hurricane.

Not that I didn't know this, but Katrina has shown me just how unfortunate that travel can be. Large loss is going to New Orleans in some capacity...just what capacity that is at this point in time is unknown. When I talked to my mentor E on Monday, he was estimating that he'd be gone for one to two weeks, although I personally feel that one to two weeks is a conservative estimate on his part. All the storm people I've talked to lately are estimating that they'll be gone for several months. Everyone is in agreement that there is going to be enough work between Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama to keep adjusters busy for YEARS.

This is the same doubts that came up when I was in California in late 2003 when the wildfires were going on outside Los's the same thing. This is the worst case scenario that could happen with being on the large loss team, and unfortunately, any time there is any kind of natural disaster in this country in an area where my company sells insurance policies, I'm going to have to go for an indefinite period of time.

Not such a great reminder for someone that's about to be a mommy.

Several weeks ago, our office manager B (the one that wants me to be a supervisor) invited me down to Austin for this leadership development seminar over two days where basically they have a chance to court us to be managers. Initially, I agreed because I thought it would be a fun trip and a chance to get off fires for two days. So I drove down on Tuesday with the other fire adjuster in our office and both M and I were pretty decided that we were NOT going to do this.

But they are good salesmen. VERY good salesmen. And since M has been on large loss before, he was able to give me an excellent perspective from someone who didn't like it OR the travel.

Here are the pros to going into management:

-opportunity for major advancement
-potential to make a much bigger salary than I'm making now, even if it doesn't happen right at first
-a solid 8-5 schedule Monday through Friday
-cash bonus to compensate me for losing my company car (which is non-negotiable, by the way)
-a chance to teach other adjusters, share my knowledge and learn a new job

The cons:

-initially, not much more money although it would be a significant raise and the top of the salary range is high
-I would lose my company car
-I'd have to report to an office every day
-no eligibility for overtime

I thought about it the entire time I was in Austin, and initially I wasn't tempted until I was driving home and had a chance to really sit quietly and think about it. I think what really got my attention (other than Katrina) was our zone manager asking us where we saw ourselves in three years, five years, and ten years. Three years from now, I can still see myself being an adjuster. Five, ten years? No chance. I have to think about more than just me now...and I don't want to be planning my daughter's first or second birthday party and then all of a sudden the night before the party be called to a fire in Oklahoma. Nor do I want to be in the field in Louisiana working a hurricane in five years and get a call from my daughter's kindergarten teacher that she's not feeling well and wants Mommy to come get her, and I can't because I can't get a flight out.

Even though I'm not a mom yet, it's amazing how things do change when you are a parent or at least, about to be one.

So, I am making a decision for myself, my family and my future...and I'm going to take the plunge and go into management. I've been a claims adjuster for nine years, and for at least six of those years, my managers above me have been trying to persuade me to become a supervisor. I never gave it any serious thought until now, but I think it's time to start climbing that corporate ladder so to speak and just do it, even though I'm terrified. This is a whole new ballgame for me. It's going to be a very hard transition to learn to manage others and to let others dictate my results. I'm going to be learning a lot more about myself and my talents in this journey.

I just hope I'm ready. I'm going to call our manager B in a few hours and tell him that I've changed my mind (a decision that I know he's going to be both shocked and pleased about) and that I'm ready to start pursuing that career path. There is a supervisor position open in our office right now but whether or not he would actually hold that position open for me remains to be seen. I kind of doubt it, but it would probably take longer for them to find a candidate and go through the hiring process than it would take for me to have my baby, be out on maternity leave and go through the training process.

Of course, the biggest downfall to ALL of this is losing the freedom to work from home. I hate that part. I've worked from home now for four years, and I've absolutely loved every minute of it. And there's no saying that they wouldn't make my position eventually one that is virtual. I even asked B today during the seminar and he said that while it's unlikely, it's not impossible. I know this...I can always work from home if my daughter gets sick or if there's a snow day, and that's valuable too. And I always knew once we had another child or two, I'd lose my office anyway.

I will really miss my company car too. I love that Magnum. But we still have our own two cars, and my office is only eleven miles away, so it's not the end of the world there either.

Bottom line, I want to stay with my company. It's a good one and I've often said that I can see myself retiring with them. I don't want to leave, and I don't want to continue in my present position. Something has to change, and I guess this is it!

So, wish me luck on this new journey. It's going to be very hard, and I'm sure that I'm going to have many days where I wish that I hadn't done it, but if I get into it and I really decide that it's not for me, I can always transition to large loss at that point. It'll be there waiting for me. All of my managers are so convinced that I have the leadership qualities that being a manager requires. The thought of managing another employee, let alone six or seven, really makes my stomach turn, I'll be honest, but I guess this like everything else is just part of growing up. I'll never know if I would succeed at it if I don't give it a try.

And P said it many times tonight...he'd rather have me working 8-5 eleven miles away from home rather than working a random schedule over seven states. He's totally on board with it and is so happy that I've decided to go this way instead of the large loss route, even though he would have supported my decision to go that way too. But it helps to have your spouse totally on board with it all.

And I have so much that I can give to new adjusters starting out in life. I've always loved teaching, mentoring and coaching, and that is one of the parts that I am the most excited about with doing this.

On other news...P's mom is still doing the same. In fact, she's doing a little better. P was over there tonight and said that she was more responsive tonight and was able to talk a little, so I know that was a comfort. They apparently are going to try some homeopathic remedies in the hopes that it might prolong her stay with us, so I'll keep you posted.

Pregnancy is still going fine, but I did have a moment (a few actually) of panic last night when I was in Austin and had FOUR contractions. I timed them, and they weren't close enough or frequent enough to be alarmed about. I'm pretty sure they were just Braxton-Hicks contractions. It was very strange though...I had always wondered if I would know when I had one, and now I don't have to wonder anymore. You definitely can't mistake the feeling!

No change on the house really since I've been out of town. P mounted our fire extinguisher tonight on the wall and put up a few of the trim pieces last night when I was out of town in the kitchen, and they look good. We're going to work some more on it this weekend.

I guess my Sleepytime herbal tea is kicking in, so I'm going to attempt to go back to sleep and get some shut-eye now that I've cleared my thoughts. I have two inspections today to do on houses in the area, and that will make for a busy day!