Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moomin

A few weeks ago I picked up these mugs featuring Moomin characters at a garage sale.For what it's worth, I've never been a huge fan of the Moomin books. I know, such sacrilege! But, I do think the characters are cute and I can appreciate the artistic talent and creativity that went into making the whole series. So, for 25 cents a piece, I snatched them up thinking that, at the very least, they'd be great for hot cocoa.

After a bit of research though, I realized that I'd be a fool to not put them on ebay. So, I snapped the above pictures and in five days I was $292 richer.

The moral of the story is: Always stop at garage sales. Even if the particular garage sale is in a snooty neighborhood. You may just stumble upon someone who doesn't know the value of their own possessions.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Father's Day Hike

On Father's Day Jay wanted to go hiking. I have to admit that at first I wasn't up to it. The stress of job hunting is slowly breaking me down and I was certain the kids would wear me out even more with their petty bickering. The drive to Bagby Hot Springs was long, but once we got there I was glad we had made the trip. Annoying children seem far less annoying when they have acres of woodsy land to roam around in and a cool stream to splash in.
Tree graffiti:Why do I think a twelve year old boy wrote this one: Like all of Oregon's parks, Bagby Hot Springs is simply gorgeous. So lush, green, and alive. (Plus, at the end of the hike there are FREE {!!!!} hot tubs in hollowed out logs. We didn't get to take advantage of this because the wait was long and the girl only has so much patience, but I vow to return.)
On Father's Day there were so many good sentiments in blog land. (The beauty and simplicity of this one stands out in my mind.) And I don't really know if I have anything creative to add to the discussion about Dads. But I will say that Jay is the best dad I know. He's worked tirelessly and without complaint to make better lives for our children. And on a more personal note, he's really good at picking up my slack. When I've had enough or feel like I'm going to lose it, he knows when to jump in. He is forever and always, my partner.


Happy belated Father's Day to all the dads out there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Day of Summer

From a young age, both of my children have been really good with a hula hoop. Jay and I passed on our round shelf butts, so I think the kids are genetically pre-disposed to being good at keeping the hoop above the waistline.

Lately it is the girl's thing. The other night around 11 PM I went into her room to investigate a noise and found her, half naked and doing the hula. The noise I had been hearing was the swish swish of the hoop.

I suppose it says something about my parenting that my six year old is even up at 11 PM in the first place. During the summer months, I have a really hard time being consistent about bedtime. As long as both kids are at home and safe, I don't care what time they fall out or what part of the house they're in when they do it. So yeah, work that hula hoop all night long, just don't bother mommy when she's watching her crime stories.

Father's Day Dessert

Jay doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, unlike myself or the kids who will fight to the death for the chance to suck the remaining cake batter off of the mixer paddles. Jay knows I love to bake though so, letting me have my fun, he requested this Lemon Icebox Surprise after seeing it in the most recent Penzey's catalog. (You can view the catalog here, this specific recipe is on page 52. Also, thanks to Peggy for turning me on to this great company!)

We weren't sure whether to classify this as cake or pie, since it really is neither. It has the taste of lemon bars, but with the consistency of cheesecake. But it is baked in a pie dish so I suppose we can go with pie.

As I was looking over the recipe, I got a bit scared when I saw that I'd have to use egg whites. I tend to avoid recipes that call for me to separate eggs. It's just a silly hang up of mine. Anyway, for the sake of my baby daddy's happiness, I braved the eggs, all was well, and a yummy dessert was made.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Let's Talk Job Hunting

I've been wanting to sit down and talk about some of what I've been feeling and dealing with on my quest to find a job.

I've been actively pursuing employment now for about 3 weeks. What this means is that every chance I get, I "look for a job." I usually start by putting on my best clothes and shoes, going out, walking into places, asking if they are hiring, then filling out an application and returning it with my resume. A large number of companies now only have online applications. In that case, I then head back home, go to the company's website, create a profile, and fill out the application. After filling out the application I'm usually directed to take a personality test and an SAT-like intelligence test. This entire process ends up taking at least an hour. There have been days where I've done three or four of these a day. Within a few days, I return to the business again to inquire if anyone has had a chance to look over my application and resume.

A few random thoughts on this process:

*Everyday that I go out, I have to prepare myself for rejection, or at the very least apathy, and this entire process sucks an incredible amount of life out of me. Jay says I have an internal battery for this sort of thing that takes about 24 hours to charge and then gets drained after 15 minutes. I'm not good at talking about my qualities and achievements, which is something you have to do if you want a job. I know that I'm a good employee and a hard worker but it doesn't come naturally for me to list all the many ways in which I'm great and should be hired.

*Most places I've applied to have at least three members of management and repeatedly catching the one who actually makes the final decision in who gets hired, can be tricky. Because of this, I spend a lot of time attempting to make a good impression on people who have no say at all in whether or not I'll get the job. Of course, I never find this out until they say something like, "Well, I'll be sure to pass your resume on to the manager." This drives me nuts because I only have so much charm to go around and hate that I routinely find myself wasting it on someone who doesn't matter.

*Companies don't update their listings on job sites as often as they should. I've applied for a few jobs only to find out that the position has already been filled. Very frustrating, not to mention a waste of my time.

*The online application part of a company's website has got to be the least funded part of their site. Just about every one I've done has been inundated with glitches. Most of them are minor and I can find a way to work around them, although it's a pain and adds time to an already long and tedious process. But there was one in particular that I couldn't get past so I attempted it on a different computer and the same thing happened. At this point, I may have just given up but this was a job that I'm actually qualified to do and I wanted to pursue it as much as possible. So then I physically went into the business and asked if they were hiring, only to be told, "Yes we are, but the application process is solely online." Wonderful. This wasn't the first time that a company advertised that it was hiring, only to tell me to go home and apply when I arrived. I truly, truly do not understand why companies that NEED EMPLOYEES send qualified, motivated people away. I didn't just call on the phone, I didn't just sit at the computer, I got up off my ass, and came to you. Why send me away? I just don't get it.

*I applied for a bookstore job. I'm not going to name them here but it's a national company that recently filed for bankruptcy and has been closing a lot of stores. The location near me is a two story building in a fancy outdoor mall and seems to be doing well so I went in to inquire about a position. When I walked in there were six employees behind the registers. If you've ever worked retail, you know that there is rarely a need to have so many people doing one job, especially at 11 AM on a Wednesday. I thought it was odd, but I continued walking around in the hopes of finding someone who looked managerial. No luck. I go upstairs and the second floor is filled with customers but no employees. (Hello. Loss prevention issue on the second floor!) Finally, I go back to the register area, find a manager, and ask if they are hiring, and she says, "We're always looking for new people but the application process is all online." Of course it is. I guess it should come as no surprise to me that this company isn't doing well.

*There are a lot of really dumb people who have jobs. I know this to be a fact because I've met a lot of them lately.

*There are also a lot of really gross people who have jobs. Again, I know this to be a fact because I've met a lot of them lately. I saw a young gal the other day at her workplace and she was wearing a black mini skirt and she had scabs on both knees. How is knee scabs employed and I'm not?

All jokes aside, I'm really trying to not get too down and negative about the job thing. In the grand scheme of things, 3 weeks isn't that long of a time to be looking, and I know that even if/when someone does show some interest in me, the hiring process can be slow. (Although it seems so much slower on my end, as opposed to the one doing the hiring.) I also know that there are a lot of folks looking for jobs right now, folks in much tighter binds than myself. Sure, I'm not in the place I want to be financially, but my needs are being met and for that I'm thankful. So, I'll just keep plugging along.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Day in the Life of Detective Terri Stivers

I mentioned a few weeks back that Jay and I have been spending our evenings watching Homicide: Life on the Street, a crime/detective show from the nineties.There are eight seasons of this show, a large portion of which Jay and I have watched in the last three weeks. Needless to say, lately it's all we think about and all we talk about. So it should come as no surprise that when I bought this odd little stuffed cat at Goodwill, the first name to pop into my head was one of the detectives on the show, Terri Stivers, a tiny but tough female cop.

Before I tell you more about this cat, I'd like to share a few moments from her day:

"That's my yarn Detective Terri Stivers.""Uh-oh, you better wait your turn Detective.""Oooh good work Detective. You've used your keen observational skills to locate Oregon's elusive sunbeam. Enjoy it while it lasts.""This bathroom is occupied."

A few thoughts on this cat:

*She's not a regular stuffed toy. She's some strange toy/taxidermy hybrid.

*You can't tell by any of these pictures, but she's a bobble head. This fact makes it much more fun to give her scritchies under her chin.

*Jay was actually the one to find her and for that I am forever grateful. He showed her to me and half jokingly said, "You want this don't you?" Hells yeah!

*The girl really wants her, but this toy is all mine. But it's funny to hear her say things like, "Can Detective Terri Stivers sit with me on the couch?" Or, "Aww look, Detective Terri Stivers likes me."

Detective Terri Stivers, one of the silly diversions keeping me sane lately.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Silliness

The other day I was at Goodwill and I came across a bag filled with stationery odds and ends. Inside the bag were three of these gals:Her name is Holly Hostess and she is the 'host' to the Parasite Pals, one of which you see right now in Holly's belly. This particular parasite is Blinky the eyelash mite, but I definitely want to find Tickles the Tapeworm. If you go to the Parasite Pals website (and I know you're gonna) you can read this description:

Here is the girl with small friends of life present for always. Some irritation she finds with them, but much fun and love is to be shared! Hope for you to enjoy much the friends like Holly. The good fun of Parasite Pals bring us together.

LOVE IT! I think from now on when my kids start to bug me, I'm going to scream at the top of my lungs, "Some irritation I find with you!"

Also cluttering up my apartment are these thread spool people:

My son tells me that one of the other art classes at his school made these and he's been finding them all over the school and our neighborhood. Such a simple, yet clever idea. Plus, I love how they are being found in random places.

Finally, the third thing I wanted to share with you all today is this:

Earlier in the week I got a letter from Jessie and she enclosed a few of the above stickers. I love how they celebrate low-level achievement. I may not be a winner, but I did my best! After a day of job hunting: I may not be gainfully employed, but I did my best! This may be my new motto.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: Faith

Over time, Sheila McGann has distanced herself from her staunchly Catholic family. But when her brother Arthur, a popular and well loved priest, is accused of molesting a young boy he was close to, Sheila finds herself going home to find out the truth and deal with family members who have already made up their minds about Arthur.

I don't know. For me this seems to be the year of lackluster books and Faith is another one that falls into that category. It wasn't a bad book by any means, it kept my attention and I was anxious to see how it would end. But then when it did end, I looked back and, once again, thought, Eh.

I didn't think most of the characters were fully developed, and the ones who were well developed were minor, so I was never really able to root for or against anyone. After a while I just stopped caring about what the truth was. Also, the big moments in this book end up being let downs. For instance, the book jacket hints at hidden truths and "long buried secrets" but when these revelations are finally made, they're not really all that shocking or surprising.

That being said, lately I've been finding myself drawn to books that are nothing like my actual life. Job hunting and parenting have been kicking my butt lately and I've been wanting to read books that don't even mention those topics, so in that sense, this book fit the bill and was a bit of an escapism read for me.

All in all, Faith wasn't a bad book, just one that will be forgotten about as soon as I return it to the library.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What I've Eaten Today

* Three cookies from my favorite bakery. Sure they were gluten free and low in saturated fat, but when a cookie is the size of a frisbee, does it really matter?

*A square of white chocolate and some gummy candies.

*A Filet-O-Fish sandwich and some french fries.

*Most of a bag of potato chips. A few of which were dipped in blue cheese dressing.

That's it. No fruit. No veggies. Unless you count ketchup, which today, I'm going to do.

This is completely unlike my usual way of eating and I'm so ashamed of it that I felt the need to confess it to all of the internet. I never go to McDonald's and I rarely eat potato chips.

Tomorrow I will balance all of this out with a lettuce smoothie and some raisin skins.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Toy:: My Little Sandbox

I've mentioned before that we don't buy a lot of toys around these parts anymore. Not only do we have space constraints, but I hate spending money on toys only to watch them go untouched, thrown aside in favor of video games or something involving work from me, like a board game. For instance, last Christmas the girl was wickedly into Zoobles. She got about a dozen of them and the Zooble tree house. She plays with them from time to time but recently told me that she just likes to "look at them." Um, even when I do get a job, I will never be willing to buy toys solely for "looking at." When she gets a job, she can buy her own tchotchkes, but while she's living under my rented roof, she'll be getting only toys that she actually plays with, toys that keep her busy and out of my hair for a few precious moments.

Which brings me to this: My Little Sandbox. It is, as the name implies, a small, tabletop sandbox. And she's played with it everyday since Monday, a huge feat around here.

Each playset has a theme, this one is Fairy Workshop but there are quite a few different ones. (I love Big Builder and we may have to get Mermaid and Friends.)
I don't often give toy recommendations because, well, who cares really? But because this toy has given me three straight days of relative peace and quiet, I thought it was worth mentioning here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grumbles and a Happy List

I've always hated Sundays. I think it all began when I stopped liking church. Where I grew up, there were a lot of different congregations meeting in the same building, because of this our church service wasn't always in the morning, sometimes it would be at noon or three. When you have to be somewhere at noon, it just puts a damper on the whole day. Not to mention the fact that this was Florida, and beyond the AM hours it was far too hot for church clothes, so I usually ended up sweaty. Afterwards, we'd come home, my dad would fall asleep on the couch watching reruns of something like Matlock or Bonanza, my mom would read or start cooking dinner, and I'd hide out in my room and wait for Monday. Nothing was bound to happen on Sunday.

Now, I obviously don't have to go to church anymore but it's still my least favorite day. When Jay's home it's not bad because together we find ways to stay busy, even if it's just by playing Trivial Pursuit or traipsing through the woods but when he's not home it's just more of the same: ME AND THE KIDS. Lately, I'm thinking that could be the title to the book of my life: ME AND THE KIDS. (One of the reasons I was so looking forward to the job I did not get, was the chance at spending time away from my children. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and mama needs some absence.)

Today is one of the ME AND THE KIDS days. And as awful as this may sound, they are seriously the last people on earth I want to be with right now. The fact that its almost 2 PM and they are still in their pajamas is really grossing me out. Also, I have no patience for their petty bickering. I suppose as their mother I could go out there and make them get dressed and stop fighting, but that involves more energy than I'm willing to expend at the moment. After yesterday's let down, I kinda just want to lie in bed and watch all the Law and Order's that I've recorded. But life is refusing to stop for my let down.

I know that I shouldn't complain. In the grand scheme of things my life is good. Sure, right now I have a minor cash flow problem and I want to lock my children in a sound proof room, but other than that, my life really isn't that bad. Before I go I want to share a short list of things that are making me happy lately:

*Since moving to Oregon, I've met so many people but I finally feel as if I've made that one friend that everyone needs to have close by. The kind of friend who doesn't mind if you stop in unannounced. The kind of friend who is never embarrassed by her own messy house so you know she doesn't care if your house is a complete disaster area. I no longer want to be friends with women with pristine homes. Sorry, I know it sounds harsh, but I need signs of life. I need laundry everywhere and dishes in the sink. I need to see the clutter that comes from a busy family. Shiny counter tops and spotless bathrooms no longer impress me.

*This past week I finished this pillow:I started the embroidery a few weeks ago, not really having any set plans for it. Eventually it became a large piece in a patchwork pillow cover.

*My last little bit of happiness comes in the form of this $5 garage sale find:

I have no idea what these things are called but it's sort of like a tackle box for embroidery floss and I've been wanting one for a while.A funny story about this floss tackle box:

Last year shortly after moving here, we went to a garage sale near my house. The woman was selling tons of craft supplies including three such boxes. I carried them around for a bit but ultimately decided not to get any of them. Since then, every time I get out my round vintage tin that holds my jumbled mess of floss, I would get a little pissed at myself for not having bought at least one of the boxes. Fast forward to this morning, Jay and I are out enjoying a quiet drive before he has to leave for work. We see a garage sale sign and as we near it we realize that we've been to this family's garage sale before. I go right to the craft table and there sits the three embroidery floss tackle boxes. I was smart enough to snatch one up this time.

I guess good things can occasionally happen on a Sunday.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Change of Plans

Well, although I said I would be hiding out underneath my bed with cookie dough if I didn't get the job, I refuse to do that. Oh, I want to do that. But I'm not going to. In the long run, that won't make me feel better.

So yeah, I found out this afternoon that the high end skin care company I applied to is offering the position to someone else. How do I describe how I'm feeling right now? Angry, hurt, frustrated, rejected. All those bad, negative emotions we try to avoid. I think what bothers me the most is that I jumped through a lot of figurative hoops to get this job and at each step of the way I was given the impression that the job was pretty much mine. I was more than once told that I would be a perfect fit for the company and the team with which I would be directly working. I had three interviews with this company, two in person and one over the phone. The district boss even had me come in and get a complimentary facial because this company gives facials and she wanted me to learn the process.

The reason that was given for me not being hired was that I "don't have enough sales experience." Since I do actually have a decent amount of sales experience, I'm taking this explanation to mean one of two things: a.) I don't have enough recent sales experience or b.) I don't have enough experience selling cosmetics. Both of those are fair assessments I suppose, but my irritation stems from the fact that my experience and work history was clearly stated on my application and resume. If it wasn't enough, and would never be enough, why waste my time? Why have me come in and learn how to do facials?

Another point of irritation for me was the personality test/phone interview that I did with the home office. This took place late Friday afternoon. Right off the bat the questions seemed odd with the answers unfamiliar to me. I felt my stomach knotting up and I tried to fumble my way through the questions but after about twenty minutes I spoke up and said, "You do realize I'm just applying for a sales position right?" She got real quiet and then said, "Oh no, I've been asking you the management questionnaire. I need to see if I can fix this in my computer. I'll call you back." Fifteen minutes later she calls me back and launches into the appropriate questions, but the damage had been done. I was completely flustered and to be honest, aggravated. I was told to schedule an hour for this interview, that hour was almost up, the interview wasn't even half over, and I wasn't given the option to reschedule it. Not only would Jay be back with the kids soon, but it was almost time for my facial training appointment. So, I honestly have no idea how I did on that interview or how much impact the results of it had on whether or not I got the job, but I hate that it's even slightly possible that the incompetence of someone else played a part in me not getting hired. Of course I don't know if that's the case, but because everything that was said during the first two interviews is so completely different than the end result of me not getting the job, I don't know what to think.

I'm trying to look on the bright side. Obviously this company has some kinks that need working out and somewhere along the line in my interview process it got unprofessional and kinda shoddy. Maybe by not getting hired I've been saved of future irritations and stresses. That's a valid way of looking at it, right? Plus, as I mentioned before, I do feel pretty good about a lot of the other potential employers I've met with. I'm going to spend the next few days working on my resume and then on Tuesday I'm heading back out.

(Deep breaths. Deep, relaxing breaths.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Random Thoughts From A Jumbled Mind

*So.....I just tried to take my daughter to school but found out along the way that school is delayed because there is a black bear "loitering" (odd word choice care of the local news) in the field behind her school. We trudged back home, flipped on the news, and sure enough there is a giant bear hanging out not far from my apartment. They hope to have the bear removed and school opened by 9:00, but since the girl is only in school until 10:30, I highly doubt I'll be taking her.

*Since Sunday I've had two job interviews with one company, a high-end skincare and cosmetics company which shall forever remain nameless in this little corner of the internet. In a week or so I have a phone interview with the main office of said company, sort of a personality test type thing. After that I'll know (hopefully) whether or not the job is mine. I mean, everyone I talk to seems to really like me, so it's looking as if I will soon be a working gal, but I don't want to get my hopes up only to be forced to deal with crushing disappointment. But the fact of the matter is that this is the first *real* job I've applied to in 13 years and the more I think about it, the more I want it, so if I get it, it will do amazing things for my self esteem. If I don't get it, I may crawl underneath my bed with some cookie dough and hide out for a week or two.

*I also have a folder full of applications to return if Opportunity Number One doesn't pan out. But I really want Number One. Although it would initially be part time, there seems to be a lot of potential for advancement and it could eventually be more of a career than a job, and a good career at that.

*I have been so anxious lately. I think I've eaten more Tums than food.

*In other news, my kids still have about two weeks of school left. I'm pretty much dragging them out the door at this point. Mentally, they are both anywhere but school. As for me, I'm sick of packing school lunches and I'm totally uninspired in regards to what I throw in the brown bag everyday. Yesterday my poor son had three cookies, two granola bars, some fruit, and a bottle of water. I momentarily considered throwing in a few Tums, but thought better of it. (Hey, they are a great source of calcium.)

*The entire country is dealing with record high temperatures. Except us. It's 52 degrees right now. Saturday our high is supposed to be 83 and I think that will be the warmest day so far this year. It may sound as if I'm bragging (and I kind of am), but I've done my time with the heat and feel I've rightfully earned a bit of a reprieve.

*I have a sewing project and a handful of crochet projects in the works and hope to be finished with at least one of them soon. I've been doing a lot of crafting lately to keep my mind off of all the things in my life that I can't control.

*Jay and I have been spending our evenings re-watching all seven seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street. This gritty, police drama originally aired in the early-mid nineties and the love of it is one of the things that brought Jay and I together. It feels like we're dating again.