Sunday, January 28, 2007

We have our house!

We finally made our decision, the check has been sent, and WE ARE GOING TO DESTIN!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the link to the house where we are going...don't worry, the address of the house is only available from the owner and I'm not posting the week we're going in case there are any stalkers out there.

Mi Casa Del Sol

I'm really excited. I can't believe that we're going to the beach.

Not much else is going on at the moment. I'm actually scrapbooking again and McKenna is walking. Work is getting better. My house is a mess.

That's all.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Status of Destination Destin

Have you ever tried to coordinate FIVE FAMILIES to go in together on a house?

It's no small feat, let me tell you.

Over the past week, I have researched a dozen websites and scoured the internet in the search of the PERFECT beach house.

This is what I've encountered over the past week:

-five familes who all want their own seperate rooms and seperate bathrooms and who all have very strong personalities
-my father-in-law who we want to go but not pay
-ten children, two of which are under the age of two
-one of my brothers in law who is the head of a single-income family but has very stringent requirements for what he wants in a vacation and a borderline unreasonable budget
-one of my sisters in law who has a timeshare in Destin and has contemplated buying into the house or just doing her own thing
-my other brother in law who just split up with his fiancee of eleven years and can't see committing past next week, let alone seven months into the future
-an unpublished 2007 school calendar

To say it's been a challenge has been an understatement. However, I'm proud to say that one of my sisters in law and I today worked on my list of fifty houses and narrowed it down to SEVEN...and so far, three of the five families are in agreement on a house.

My dream of a luxurious beach vacation is about to come to fruition...stay tuned.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Destination Destin

One of my most crucial "to-dos" right now on my to do list is to finalize my vacation schedule for 2007. It's kind of hard because last year was my first year with three weeks of vacation at work, and I didn't really have a chance to use it since I used two weeks of it on maternity leave.

THIS year, I'm having trouble scraping up must-do occasions to use it! I've requested the week after Christmas as kind of a nice end of the year break, and I'm planning trips to Phoenix to visit my dad at the end of February and to Orlando to visit my aunt and grandma and cousins in April, but other that that, I'm free. It's SO heavenly!!!

And there have been no beach vacations in this household since P and I went to Cancun in 1997.

I freaking LOVE the beach. I can't even tell you how much I love the beach. There is nothing that I like better than being lazy and raising my rate of getting skin cancer with a totally fluff book on the beach with my condo/house behind me. I think it kind of started when my friends and I went to Myrtle Beach in 1993 when I graduated from high school. I still rate that as one of the best vacations I ever had. EVER. It was SO awesome and one of the few times I remember being the most relaxed in my life. The most troubling decision I had every day was just deciding where my friends and I were going to go eat each night.

Now, while I realize that I can't feel that free again with a toddler in tow, I'm in pursuit of the ultimate vacation this year, and I've had my sights set on Destin, Florida, otherwise known as the Emerald Coast. I think that my interest in this area was first piqued when I saw my friend T's pictures...she and her family vacation in Destin or Panama City every year so she has tons and tons of pictures from vacations.

Destin is famous for its sugar sand beaches and its green-blue waters. I've seen enough pictures since I've been researching this place this weekend to be convinced.

I'm hoping that we can convince my in-laws to go with us since we've been talking about planning a family vacation for oh, about five years, but this year, I'm hoping we'll really do it, and I'm taking the lead. Over the last twelve hours, I have shirked my five audits waiting for me and have done nothing but researched housing possibilities...there are tons and tons and tons of beach houses waiting that range from two bedrooms to eight bedrooms and are quite affordable. I now have the bead on all the top family attractions in the area. I even know now that Scenic Highway 30-A is akin to PCH in Los Angeles on a smaller scale. I am ready!

And if my in-laws don't want to go, we're going to take McKenna by ourselves. The beach is ideal for a two-year-old, and she'll be three months shy of 2 when we go.

We'll see what happens. So far out of my husband's four brothers and sisters, one family has replied that they are in, so I'm going to see if I can get at least a tentative commitment from people by midweek so I can start researching pricing on houses with the number of bedrooms that we need.

I'm so excited!!!!! Destin, here I come!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year…and I’m still here!

Have I gone into hiding? Only my husband knows for sure.

It really started to get my attention how anti-social I’ve been when I started to get phone calls over the last week from friends wondering where I am…why haven’t I been online to chat, why haven’t I responded to invitations, why haven’t I responded to emails, and why oh why haven’t I updated my blog?

Good question. And I can answer it in one sentence.

My promotion was effective on December 1, 2006.

Effective on that date, I was officially a property claims supervisor at my company. On that date, I officially started to supervise five employees; two new hires, one transfer from liability, and two “special” adjusters. When I was in the field, I was part of our fire team which was two adjusters. When I left it to pursue the supervisor position, an adjuster that I had spent a lot of time training took my place. The two special adjusters, M and C, are the fire team. To say that I was elated to be supervising them is an understatement…these guys are really great. They are wonderful, talented adjusters, and I really consider them both friends. That, of course, is the only downfall…I forget all the time when I’m talking to them that I’m their boss now. And it’s hard to really be objective and critical when I’m looking at their work because I want them to succeed so badly. I want everyone on my team to succeed, of course, but these two men are very special to me simply because I’ve worked so closely with them in the past and I know what great adjusters they are. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s true.

So this is what I’ve accomplished in my first month of being a supervisor:

-I supervised the entire team for one of my coworkers who was out sick for three weeks with the shingles.
-I organized our management team’s Christmas dinner.
-I organized our all-employee Christmas luncheon which was catered.
-I organized a blood drive on the same day as the above luncheon.
-I supervised (and am still supervising) a storm adjuster who is up here visiting for three weeks from our Houston office.
-I took on ALL fire assignments for our entire office.
-Somehow I volunteered to purchase a laminating machine for our office, and researching it is a total pain in the ass.

Not to mention that nearly every new adjuster in the office thinks that I am, and I quote, the most helpful and patient supervisor around, meaning that I’m all too willing to stop everything I’m doing to answer any question they have at any given time. I think that a lot of it stems from the fact that a lot of them remember me well from being an adjuster myself, and I think that makes me a tad more approachable than most of the other supervisors in the office. This of course is totally flattering and I love it…on the other hand, it wreaks havoc on my daily workflow. I don’t think there has been a day in the last month where I haven’t gotten to work early, left late, and still worked a few hours after McKenna’s gone to bed. It’s just really tough.

This past weekend was particularly brutal. It was the end of the month and the end of the year, and I was really scraping to finish my file audits and everything. Plus, our virtual private network crashed due to a virus at 8:45 am Friday morning (I remember the exact time because I screamed in frustration) and I went into the office for several hours Saturday afternoon to work and Sunday afternoon to upgrade our virus protection so I could get back on the network. I am praying and hoping that this doesn’t last forever. Every other supervisor in the office assures me that the first six months is the worst. Even my old supervisor K told me that he worked some seriously long hours his first six months as a supervisor. It also doesn’t help that I don’t know how to do a lot of things that I’m being asked to do, like find management information, salary reviews, etcetera. It’s just weird. But I think going forward, it’ll be better and I can manage my time better.

One thing I did this weekend which I’m really excited about and that I’m hoping will help a lot is that I got my desk organized. Organization, as I’ve blogged about before, is a beautiful thing. When I was at the office Sunday afternoon waiting for my stupid laptop to download this virus patch, I couldn’t work on any other programs, so I used the time to my advantage. I cleaned and organized my desk. The supervisor that is sitting in the cube next to me used to sit there, and when she moved, she left a lot of her old crap behind…things like old equipment, binders, folders full of old memos, etcetera, so I basically gathered it all up, threw away what I knew she didn’t need, and stacked it all in a neat pile for her to either keep or chuck this week. I hope she’s not pissed, but I need the room. I didn’t have any room in my desk drawers and I needed the room for supplies and hanging folders. I also went shopping today and bought office supplies. P thinks I’m nuts…I’m the only woman he has ever known that gets excited over office supplies. I’m not even going to ask my new manager if I can expense this stuff, because if I do, I have to leave it there if I happen to change jobs, and I kinda like this stuff. I bought a deep-drawer black plastic desk organizer, a shallow tray for another one of my drawers, a mesh pencil/post-it/envelope holder, and a little paper thingy for incoming/outgoing mail. I also bought more hanging file tabs, index cards (I love the 5x7 size), baby lotion, and I collected the rest of my work things from my desk here at home to take up to the office tomorrow and finish the completion of my desk at work. It’s really nice to be organized, and I can’t wait until I achieve that nirvana (however brief it is) of knowing that every single solitary thing on my desk has a place of its own.

So anyway, I’m hoping for a much better and smoother January.

McKenna is doing great. She’s growing like a weed (28 lbs) and developing and learning more and more every day. There are some changes which are great. She can now walk across our living room, she can climb up on our ottoman if P sits there to act as a step, and she can say three words: hi, bye, and hot. I think she is saying mama and dada, but it’s hard to distinguish those between baby babble and actual words. However, hi and bye she says when she’s waving and hot she said in the car the other day when she was a little warm. It’s pretty cute. I think she’s also starting to sign…she can sign the word for “milk” but again, I don’t know if she actually knows what she’s signing. I know they are teaching them at school, and she does sign “milk” before we give her a bottle, but it’s sketchy sometimes. We’re also working hard on weaning her off bottles and onto sippy cups. There is one big change which is NOT great, and that is her eating habits. All you moms that I irritated when I talked about how great of an eater McKenna was before now all have my permission to say I told you so, because she is really turning into a picky eater. Every since I stopped pureeing her foods, she just won’t eat like she used to. Breakfast is fine…she has oatmeal for every breakfast. Lunch at school is fine because she is eating at the table with all the other kids and peer pressure takes over. However, you get her home with P and I, and you’d think we were feeding her roaches from the way she looks at it. Some days she’ll eat what we give her, and some days she won’t. It just kind of depends. She does really like grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, goldfish crackers, and Cheerios, but won’t eat any of the other normal “toddler” foods like chicken fingers, French fries, PBJ sandwiches or mac and cheese…at least, not for me she won’t. It’s just weird. Her pediatrician said not to worry about it at all since she’s kind of a chubby girl (and if one more person says that to us I’m going to kick their ass) and could stand to lose a few pounds (whatEVER….she’s a baby, for Pete’s sake) but I’m going to try to factor in some time this week to make her some of her old favs like beef stew, curry chicken, and cheesy chicken and veggies so I am sure that she is getting at least some nutrition. Her pediatrician also suggested that we really start cutting down on the milk and start offering other drinks like water and diluted juices so she will be hungrier for her meals. The doctor who treated her last night at the emergency room (I’ll explain in a second) even suggested that we start giving her non-caffeinated herbal teas like chamomile and cinnamon and mint as a nice alternative to juices. We did that today and while she wasn’t wild about it, she didn’t hate it either.

The latest thing though that has happened with McKenna is that she woke up on Friday with a temperature of 102. I kept her home from school and took her to the pediatrician’s office, who said that she had an ear infection in both ears. Okay, fine. However, her fever never broke and since she didn’t have much of an appetite, the antibiotics that we gave her made her vomit. By Sunday night, there wasn’t much of a change, she was fussy, parts of her skin looked sunburned from the fever, and her fever just kept getting worse, so we finally broke down and took her to the emergency room. What a way to spend a New Year’s Eve, but they totally fixed her up. They put her on an IV of antibiotics and saline to help rehydrate her since she wouldn’t drink Pedialyte, and gave her a double dose of Children’s Motrin and Children’s Tylenol to break the fever. It turns out that we were underdosing her since we were still giving her Infant’s Motrin/Tylenol based on her age, and the ER doc said that we should have been giving her Children’s Motrin/Tylenol because of her weight. They took blood and did chest x-rays, and the final diagnosis was a mild case of pneumonia. She’s doing much better today though…tired, a little cranky, and worn out, but her color is much better, skin is cooler and not feverish, and she actually ate quite a bit today…oatmeal for breakfast, yogurt for lunch and chicken/potatoes for dinner with milk. She went to bed pretty early though.

Our Christmas was great. Quiet, but great. We bought each other a couple of small gifts. I got P a Kenneth Cole cologne set and a Mavs cap. He got me a foot spa, heart-shaped silicone cake pans, a cakesaver which I love, and a perfume sampler (Liz Arden and Liz Taylor). We bought McKenna a ton of clothes (I’m now on a no-clothes rule from P for McKenna), a Playskool ball popper, a musical turtle with blocks, a Little LeapPad, some new Baby Einstein videos, books, and a new crib thing. We used to have the Fisher Price aquarium that played music, but when the water started to evaporate, we decided to upgrade her to the new Rain Forest “aquarium” for her crib, and it is MUCH better. She loves it! From her aunts and uncles, she got more clothes and some toys, gift cards from both P’s dad and from my dad and stepmom, and checks for her college fund from my mother, sister, and great-uncle. So it was a great Christmas for all. We also did a white elephant on Christmas Eve with my inlaws…Philip and I came home with a set of melamine mixing bowls from Williams and Sonoma and a bottle of Eternity perfume. I admit that I’m the one that bought the mixing bowls…when no one else at the white elephant chose them, I picked them in the hopes that no one else would steal them and turns out I was right. I thought other people would like them, but no one else bakes on a regular basis in our family like I do. We had our family get-together on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. It was nice, although we learned this year in preparation for next year that we need to start assembling the toys well in advance and not wait until Christmas Eve. We were so tired when we got home from my father-in-law’s house that we ended up just going to bed early and putting them all together the next morning while McKenna ate breakfast. Thank God a lot of them came with batteries already in them or we’d have been in trouble! Next year when McKenna is two, we will have to have it more together, that’s for sure!

Scrapbooking has been completely nonexistent. Sadly. I really miss it so much. I’ve been buying some things…stickers and some little things, but I haven’t really allowed myself to buy much because I can’t justify it if I’m not actually doing it. I am going to go to a crop in a few weeks, so hopefully that’ll kind of get me back in the mood. It’s just hard to do it when I’ve got so many other things going on!

Stitching is about the same. I have worked on the Dreamer a little bit here and there, but not too much. It’s still sitting out though…it’s right there on the shelf with my stitching box, and while I didn’t reach my goal of trying to get it done by the end of the year, I’m going to shoot for maybe getting it done by the end of next year. 2006 is the first year since I started stitching where I haven’t gotten anything done at all. It’s kind of heartbreaking. But it’s not like I didn’t know that was going to happen when I had McKenna…2006 has been really busy. And I need to really start working on Christmas ornaments for our tree. I realized when I decorated our tree this year that I’m really behind on that, and if I ever want to finish my stocking and get it hung, I should probably work on that too.

Here’s a shocker for everyone…I started to lift weights again! I started the week of Christmas (stupid) and actually made it to the gym three times, which is great. I managed to eat pretty well for about a week and then gave in to the Christmas foodies, but at least I held it together for a while. Here’s the really stupid thing though…I hurt my back lifting weights on the FIRST DAY back in the gym. At first, I thought it was just my neck from overdoing it, and then the day before Christmas Eve, it really started to hurt in my back and shoulder. It was horrible. I woke up in the most excruciating pain at 3 am Christmas Eve morning, and drove myself to the emergency room so they could give me a muscle relaxer and pain meds. I felt so dumb every time I told them at the hospital what had happened, but at least it was a quick visit since I was the only one in there. Turned out to be the best thing I could have done…one muscle relaxer and some pain meds and I was back to normal. I really love our hospital…every time we’ve gone to the emergency room, they have been really great, and so far, we’ve been in the ER four times…my miscarriage, when P and I got dehydrated last summer, my muscle strain (that’s what they diagnosed it as) and McKenna’s pneumonia. Not to mention, the hospital was fantastic when we delivered McKenna. We are quite lucky to have such a great hospital so close by.

Anyway, I’m going to start back in the gym again tomorrow…it’s just hard finding time to do it, but I have to. I’ve made the decision to either go to the gym during my lunch hour OR right after work…neither is really appealing, but it sure beats going after McKenna is asleep in bed. For food, I’m keeping it simple and doing very simple combinations of protein and carbs BFL-style, and we’re eating plain old chicken and potatoes at night. That’s it.

And lastly, here are my New Year’s resolutions and goals for 2007…has everyone made theirs?

1) To lose weight and get my body baby-ready for baby #2.
2) To adjust to my job so that I won’t have to work at nights or on the weekends.
3) To start stitching again and finish at least one project by the end of 2007.
4) To start scrapbooking again and get my pictures caught up by the end of 2007.
5) To save as much money as possible.
6) To make the trips to see my father/stepmom in Phoenix, my grandma in Orlando, and to take McKenna to Destin in September.
7) To refinish our bedroom furniture.
8) To repaint our master bedroom and kitchen.
9) To organize our garage.
10) To obtain my Associate in Claims designation.

So, next year when I’m writing my opening blog for 2008, I’ll look back to this entry and see how many of my resolutions that I kept for 2007.

I know this was long, but I had a lot to catch everyone up on! Hope everyone is doing well and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I’ll post some current pictures of McKenna as soon as I get them scanned in.