Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quick, before Thanksgiving, here's Halloween

We made it to Bates, an annual tradition.
 We barely eked out carving pumpkins this year.  It was bedtime, the night before Halloween, but we stayed up late and made it happen.  Greg, ever the artist, carved his and the kids.  Charlie drew his out on paper and Greg executed, and Felicity just called for which shapes she wanted.  I did mine, which I was proud of.
 Greg - Charlie - Felicity - Rachel
 Greg trick-or-treated with us, but he wasn't home when I was trying to get pictures, and he didn't dress up anyway, so you just get us four.  I was a cowgirl, but Charlie took my hat earlier in the day, and I never got it back on.
 Emmet (from Lego Movie) - Kitty - Elsa (from Frozen.  Like you didn't know.)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What you've been wondering about Rachel.

I think some people have been aware that I have had some work uncertainty.  That post was back in June, while I still didn't really know what was going to happen with me.  I was working a ton as essentially the acting HR Director and generally handling the transition on the end of the former company and also the new company.  I wasn't sure what they were going to do, but my corporate level position that I had recently been put into didn't have a clear transfer into the new company.Finally, after two months of craziness and trying to both prove myself to the new managers and still continue doing all the work that needs done for the prior owners for whom I was still contracted, the new managers pulled me in and let me know that my position had been eliminated and that I would be laid off after the end of the year.  I didn't know what the final date of work would be, but that was the general idea.  I was semi-crushed, but it also wasn't totally unexpected.  There was some solace in that I knew it wasn't personal.  It is nice to feel pretty confident in my abilities and skills and knowledge, and know that there wasn't anything really lacking that was causing the change.  I didn't do anything wrong.  But even with that knowledge, losing your job isn't really something to put you in a great mood, if you know what I mean.  They did tell me I could go back to working from home about three days a week.  It was a little more than I was previously doing before the transition, but way more than I had been doing since mid-May when we started working through the transition.  They actually encouraged me to volunteer to work more days in the office than that in order to better solidify my working relationship with the new management (they hired a new HR Director at the end of August and Assistant HR Director at the end of September).  I am a good employee and would always do the best for the company, even with the certainty of losing the job in four months, but I politely declined to work overtime to improve a temporary working relationship.  Other than assisting some with the transition of the new HR Director and covering some shifts as acting HR Director when she wasn't able to do it, I have been working mostly just those two days in the office and the rest from home.  It has been wonderful to resume that flex schedule, because I have missed being home with my kids during the week.
After I got the news and started processing, the main question was "what now?"  I didn't know exactly what would be the next move.  The main problem for me is that my working from home on a more flexible schedule isn't really a compromising point for me.  It's what I enjoy doing and want to do, even though it obviously isn't for everyone.  However, since there are lots of people out there who don't have the same requirements, I knew it would be difficult to find something out in the big world.  Greg and I talked about my leaving the work arena for now, or going back to school, or applying and seeing what I could find, or even getting a full time job where I couldn't do the flex schedule.  But, I couldn't even bring myself to look for anything.  I was sort of ostrich-ing it, and ignoring the looming deadline of "sometime after the end of the year."  While I've been debating what to do, and trying to ignore the inevitable, a few other changes have been happening around the property, and just a couple weeks ago I got a call from the owner of the former company.  It's a little complicated and boring, but essentially he is still the owner of the old company, but he is no longer the manager, and he is a part of a joint venture that is renovating the property.  So, my current employer is technically the new manager of the hotel.  But, because he retains some ownership rights as part of the joint venture, he is able to get a few privileges.  He called me a couple of weeks ago to let me know that one of those privileges is the ability to have one employee who works for him, but is employed by the manager of the hotel.  In my case, the perk of that is that I would be able to maintain benefits (including the health insurance for my whole family), and I would still have a job.  I thought about it for a few days before going back to him and accepting.  There will be a couple of changes in job duties from my current job; it will actually look more like the job I originally accepted back in May, except that with no employees, there are a lot of things that will be lessened.  For example, I deal with any litigation, but much of our liability ended back in May, so after the statute of limitations finishes up (still a while longer), there won't likely be much to do there.  I will continue to maintain the corporation, and handle the transitional items that are still coming up.  Best of all, I will do 4-5 days a week of this work from home!  I will be in the office probably 1 day a week most weeks, and more or less as fitting.  This isn't exactly what I was expecting, and I would have not believed you if you had said a year ago, or even six months ago that this would be the direction my career would go in, but it seems to be right for right now, and I will keep on going until it isn't anymore!  It has been a really stressful few months with figuring out what is going on, so I appreciate everyone's nice thoughts and words.  =)
Also new with me: I suddenly have turned into one of those people who is extremely busy.  I don't know when this happened.  The other day I was trying to coordinate a meet up with some friends and I came up with one approximately 90-minute window where our schedules collided in a whole week.  (Obviously partially due to the friends' schedules, but still!)  I am serving on the PTA for Charlie's school, which isn't a ton of work, but it does take a little bit of time each month, and I am also the room parent for Charlie's classroom, which again isn't a lot of work, but it is some.  Between those responsibilities, work, and the fact that three children are never all healthy or napping at the same time, it seems like I always have something going on.  I am always headed somewhere.  But I have talked to several people about this, and I really feel strongly that my life is actually more calm with three children than it was with 2.  This is for several reasons, in my opinion.  One significant one is that Felicity was born just weeks before Greg started law school, and he was really so busy that I felt like I was doing a lot of the home stuff alone.  But, I really think it's me more than anything.  When I had one child, I could really keep things together.  When I had two, I couldn't really, but it was just out of reach.  I was so close to having my stuff together that I felt like if I just worked a little harder, maybe I actually would have it together.  So, I was always trying to do more and do a better job, and I never felt like I was succeeding.  When I had my third (and it is not a hard and fast rule of 3rd children by any means, in my case I think it is a combined effort of the number 3 and also of the first and second children starting to get older and have more going on, homework, lessons, carpool, etc), my life became so crazy that I realized that certain things (read: dishes) were never going to be perfect.  I was just going to be able to do what I could and it was going to have to be enough.  Feeling like enough (even with everything I lack, which is a lot) has been a seriously life changing experience for me.  I highly recommend it to everyone.  So, basically, I am wildly busy and my life feels pretty chaotic at times, but I feel really happy about everything.  Which is great.
At church I am keeping busy with a couple responsibilities.  I have taught the 5-6 year old kids for the last couple of years, and this year that has included Charlie, which has been (mostly) fun.  A few months ago, I was given the additional responsibility of media relations work (so far has included getting the word out on community and other events we are participating in, and I think the scope will grow and change as I sort of figure out what I am doing).  Then, one month ago, they released Greg and me from teaching the 5-6 year olds, and they are having me be the primary chorister, where I lead singing time.  There are two sets of primary classes: one all of the kids ages 3-7 and the other all the kids ages 8-12.  This is a bigger group than the class I was previously teaching, of course, because it includes all the other age children.  I still get to see Charlie in the bigger class, and now I teach Felicity as well, for singing time.  There is a SERIOUS learning curve for this calling (ie, how to prepare a lesson that will appeal to/maintain the attention of 3 year olds and 7 year olds simultaneously, and how to have that same lesson translate into a substantially similar one that will appeal to 8 year olds and 12 year olds simultaneously), and I am still working through how it's done and how I do it, but it is mostly fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Some Halloween type group pictures

 You probably know I'm a sucker for matching jammies.  When I saw these mummies on sale, I had to go for it.
We thought we weren't going to make it to the big pumpkin patch nearby this year, so we swung by the local one, which was pretty fun.  We were glad to actually make it to our traditional patch as well, but those pictures are yet coming.


Charlie, lately

 This biggest child of mine doesn't love to be captured on camera like his littler sisters, but I occasionally get a snap or two of him.
The other day he was asking for a treat, "pleeeeeeeeeeeez."  This was the please face.
He is still doing great in school.  He is reading a ton (the books they send home are easy, I admit, but it's still pretty thrilling to see your eldest child pick up a book and READ it!)  He is also doing well in spelling, and working on his math.  We are also working on paying closer attention when writing, because he routinely puts certain letters and numbers backward.  He knows he does it, but just doesn't take the time to fix it or do it right the first time.  His teacher doesn't give too much homework, which helps, because even when he has to go back and work on it again, he doesn't get overly frustrated.  They learned about voting at school the other day, and he was very eager to have me go vote.  The conversation went as such: "Hey, mom, are you gonna go elect?  WAIT!  Are you old enough?"  Ha!!
He is singing in a music class once a week, and they are prepping for some Christmas concerts.  He tried out and got a duet part in one of the songs, and he is very proud.
Greg and I recently got released from our church assignment as his primary class' teachers, and he was so disappointed, he cried the whole Sunday.  His new teachers are very sweet though, so he is over it.  Plus he still sees plenty of me, with my new assignment (more on that later).
This boy loves to take care of his sisters (especially Hannah), play outside, read, ride bikes, stack cups (whatever keeps them occupied, I guess) and eat sweets.  He dislikes cleaning, putting his shoes away, and using kleenex (kids are weird).  I'm a big fan.

Misc. Hannah

Still a total water baby. 
She has started to take some steps (usually 2-3 at a time, but sometimes 5-6 when she is really motivated) but she still prefers her walker with some cheerios as her favorite form of travel.

 Has the sweetest smile.  She has recently started wrinkling up her nose when she smiles at something she finds hilarious.  Among these hilarious things: eating non-food items when mama says no, playing peekaboo, and anything her siblings do.

 She was a little kitten for Halloween.  At the harvest festival (below) she had already ditched her ears by the time I got the camera.  I got some on actual Halloween with the ears.


Hannah is one.






At her one year doctor's visit.  Love this little girl.
27 pounds and 31 inches tall

Felcity, Recently

This girl.

Here she is practicing for picture day.  Not sure how they turned out, but she did smile for me.  And she basically let me do her hair the way I wanted.
 Felicity was dressed for the day in whatever, and then I went and got dressed in a blue striped shirt, and a few minutes later, she came down in outfit #2 (not actually an uncommon thing), and we matched.  We even went grocery shopping in matching clothes.  I'm sure passersby thought I was a special kind of weirdo, but it made her pretty happy.
 The other night for Family Home Evening, we talked about ways to base our choices on the teachings of Christ.  Greg drew several illustrations for it, and then the kids added some of their own.  Here is Felicity's drawing of prayer.
 Felicity's preschool doesn't do traditional Halloween with costumes or anything like that, but they do a sweet little harvest festival with a few different booths, face painting, and a cake walk.  She won some pretty impressive owl cupcakes that looked like they belonged on pinterest and got kitty-faced.
 She enjoyed her first field trip to the pumpkin patch.  I had to attend and I had a doctor's appointment, so we basically cut to the front of the hay ride, and then jogged through the corn maze, grabbed a pumpkin and a picture, and headed to the babysitter's.  I felt kinda bad hustling through her fun time, but she enjoyed it either way, so I guess it was fine with her.

Charlie's school had a harvest festival, and sis was dressed as one of one million Elsa's.  They did a little costume contest, grade by grade.  When they called Kindergarten, Felicity ran up and did her best princess smile (I guess) and somehow WON the contest!  I didn't even know she was doing it, I just saw her afterward with the prize.  I had to laugh that she somehow won with the least original costume of 2014, but I certainly understand her powers of charm.  (Plus, the prize was a bag of kettle corn and a free coupon to chickfila.  Score.)
 She sang with her Wee Sing group at a retirement living facility on Halloween.  They love singing for the "grandmas and grandpas."
Our little Flissy has been fun as always lately.  She definitely keeps us on our toes. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Selfie

Little sister styled all the girls the other day... in matching pink shirts.  (Hannah not pictured.)

Nan

 Baby girl is getting so big!
 The picture in the walker shows what you get when you have 1pm church.  It is a tiring afternoon for a little pipsqueak.

Hannah's skills include: clapping, pulling herself up on everything, walking while holding hands, giving kisses, repeating the sounds we make to her, standing on her own very briefly, lighting up our lives.

Countdown to one: 16 days.  How can it be here so fast??

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Flissy's First Day of School

My little sweet pea started her second year of preschool (next year will be kindergarten).  She likes her teacher, and her class is mostly boys, but she enjoys it.  (She frequently complains about the ratio of boys to girls, but one of the little boys is her princess dress up partner, so I guess it isn't really cramping her style too much.)
When I drew the apple on the chalkboard for the first day of school picture, Felicity asked me why there is an apple where it says first day of school.  I explained that it sort of represents school and teachers, because kids used to give their teacher an apple on the first day of school.  She gasped and said "poisonous?!"  Her mind is always going.
The other day I was talking to my mom over the bluetooth in the car, which puts her on the speaker in the front seats.  After a few minutes, Felicity said "mom, can you just get off the phone?" so I did.  She said "I like my grandma, but I really like songs."
I am home during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday most weeks, and there is no school Tuesday or Thursday for Felicity, so every morning she pops up and declares the day a girl's day.  She frequently writes a list of things to do, including snuggles, costco, getting ice cream, watching Sofia the First, and other dream outings.  We usually end up doing at least a couple of things on her list, since she lets me add our errands.

Charlie's First day of School

Here is my sweet boy on his first day of first grade.  His teacher, Miss Harris, is so sweet.  She's what you picture when you picture a first grade teacher.  The other day he had forgotten his backpack, so I took it to school on my way to work.  She actually wears a microphone during school so that her sweet little voice can be heard.
So far, he is doing great.  He has gotten 100% on his spelling tests so far, and has been working hard on his math skills.  He is reading lots of books, and we are working on handwriting.  The other day in the backseat he said something about raindrops, and then said "hey, that's a compound word!"  I know it's sappy, but I can't believe my little baby boy knows so much.
Most of his friends from church and from his class last year are in other classes, but he seems to have some new friendships springing up.  Every week or so he comes home with a "character counts" award, which is basically a little slip of paper awarded by a teacher or aid for good behavior around school.  The other day I asked him what he got it for, and he said it was because he had to sit against the wall (recess time out) for horseplay at the tables.  I asked him how a time out got him a character counts, and he said he and the other kid were supposed to sit there for two minutes, but the aid forgot about them.  The other kid went to go play after a little while, but Charlie stayed on the wall for the whole recess.  Sort of an ironic reason to get accolades, but he was pretty proud.

Lemons are yummy.

The bite.

The recoil.

Easter 2014

Hey... just found this little gem.

Monday, August 25, 2014

We started off strong.


 The girls started to flag.
Then, out and out rebellion.

Lauren: I'm just gonna take a few more pictures.
Charlie: A FEW MEANS THREE.  YOU CAN TAKE THREE MORE.
Felicity in this one is killing me.