About American Idol and My Real Life

So last night we watched Idol’s disco night. All the performances were fine I guess but the only two which stood out for me were Kris Allen and of course Adam Lambert. I’m not-so-silently pegging them as my top 2 at this point. I love both the ladies, but I don’t think either of them stand a chance at this point. We’ve got Lil Rounds who just doesn’t seem to get it, and that’s fine, she still has a beautiful voice and I’m glad to have heard her – and then that tiny little bombshell, Allison whose voice just kills me, but she seems to have plateaued for me. And then I think, “She’s 16, give her time.” So despite thinking they are both very talented ladies, I’m at peace now with my decision to leave their fan camps. Matt Giraurd seems to be an every other week thing for me. I love him or ‘meh’ him. Last night veered on the side of ‘meh.’ Anoop, man, he’s found his place with ballads which consistently pleases the judges but sometimes I have to wonder if he’s even happy being pinned in this little box. Whatever keeps him in the competition? Maybe I’m over analyzing. Last night was just okay for me. Oh and Danny, well we just won’t go there. If you don’t know my opinion on him by now, you can just search all my other American Idol related posts and you’ll soon catch on, but I’m tired of bitching on it.

So we’re leaving early early early Thursday morning, dropping the kiddo off at my MIL (from there he will be getting carted around to several other relatives for what should be the weird mid-week weekend sleepover extravaganza of his life) and heading to the airport for our flight which departs at 8:50am but between the 90 minutes of preparedness time they want you to have and the hourish commute to get to the airport, it still means a god awful morning. We should arrive in Dream City by 1:30pm. Apartment hunting, town drooling and then a dinner at the hotel restaurant which Dream Company is footing the bill for. Sweet. I’m hoping and praying the hotel has cable and that I’ll be able to watch Bones and Grey’s Anatomy, because I realized last night that tv owns half my life. Sad but true. I’m already accepting that I’ll be missing America’s Next Top Model this week. It conflicts with tv times tonight and Friday when it reruns we will literally be in the air on our way home. Drats.

Friday is the actual interview with Dream Company. Dan prepared a 20 minute presentation on a previous work project of his that he has to present to the big guys. Apparently there will be other candidates there also – I don’t know if they are hiring multiple people or if he simply has competition but the concept makes me nervous. Somehow, despite trying very hard to remain on the “if this happens” camp, I think I’d largely assumed it would. What if there is someone else coming there who is better? And they get the job? And we come home to our unemployment and disappointment and continue this search? ::sigh:: I know we’ll survive it either way, either way is a big thing to deal with, but ugh, I just want this to be over either way you know? I want to know where my life is headed by Saturday PLEASE.

So yeah, that’s about all the new and big. Not sure when I’ll be posting again as it’s about to get crazy busier (like busier than already) but I’ve got some posts up today and my weekend diversion’s is scheduled to post on Friday, so my blog won’t be completely silent without me. Hope you all have a great week!

Taking The Good With The Bad

Babycenter.com has a great article up called 25 Good Things About Bad Times – the silver linings to be found in this bad economy are there if you look for them. We’ve certainly had to lately. While I’ve had plenty of stress to deal with lately, money worries and a world just waiting to change on me at every turn, the good things have been plenty and should not be forgotten. Some things I am thankful for in this bad economy:

  • Quality Time - While it would be nice to have Dan working, earning money and life returning to normal, it has also been very nice having him home, spending more time with him and both of us spending more, quality time with MM. We’ve gone to the park and playground more, taken more pictures, played more as a family (blowing bubbles, tickle fests), played more board games and video games together and talked more about more things than we would be able to otherwise.
  • Having An Extra Helping Hand - Being all six months pregnant or something absurd like that, it’s been nice having Dan home to help out. He’s been able to help with dinners, cleaning and even just chasing the boy around. I’ve been able to sleep in by almost an hour every morning, which I can hardly feel guilty about when we have nowhere to be and um, I’m six months pregnant.
  • Getting In Shape - Lately we’ve been finding extra ways to fill our day, new things to do to kill an hour or two. Our favorite thing to do is probably take long walks. We walk for at least a mile and a half almost every day, sometimes more. Dan’s also been jogging (something I have no interest in joining him with right now). He’s lost over 50 pounds since October and well you all know I’ve been able to maintain my pre-pregnancy weight. But we’ve been able to kick our lifestyle into high gear by really focusing on the exercise part of our “diets” where we weren’t before.
  • Eating Better - You’d think that by cutting back on our grocery bill everywhere we can, that our diets would be suffering, but that’s really not true. We’ve been making more meals from scratch and enjoying every minute of it. Can’t afford to buy cereal? Let’s make pancakes – oh darn, right? When we ran out of bisquick, we started making them honest to goodness from scratch and found we loved it! We learned how to make homemade meatballs and may never go back to those frozen meatballs again. We’ve also loved seeing how much we can cut down our grocery bill without it killing us. And seeing what indulgences are really important to us at the end of the day, and which ones aren’t. Our grocery bill will never be the same again.

I’m sure there are more things – I know there are – but honestly, rather than sitting here talking about it – I’m going to get up and go live it and get back to that quality life I’ve been enjoying. While it lasts.

In what ways has this bad economy made a positive impact on your life?

I’m Dreaming Of Paid Employment

We got an email from Dream Company today basically just saying, “We received your written exam (which he took last Monday) and it is now being graded.” After it’s graded, his entire application process will be reviewed by the company and then a decision will be made as to whether to contact him for an in person interview. That process of grading and reviewing will take 1-2 weeks with a chance of a delay. They’ve been fairly prompt so far, all things considered so I’m crossing my fingers that maybe by next Monday we’ll know if he’s getting an in person interview. It’s a good thing this is all for a company that we’re half in love with, otherwise I’d have lost interest in the whole process by now. But it’s still something we really want so I’m hoping.

Other than this, he’s only had contact from two companies and two or three staffing agencies. One of the companies turned him down for lack of experience with Java, the other company has just started their hiring process and may get back to us at a later date. All the staffing agencies seem to like him but haven’t actually offered him any leads yet. So really Dream Company is our most promising prospect right now. He applied to four more jobs this morning that are all relatively in the area which could be nice. Especially if it meant not moving out of state because THEN I’d get to keep my health insurance.

But for some reason, despite set backs like that, the prospect of moving to a new place still thrills me. Like setting out on a grand adventure, starting over, discovering a new place. I love to travel and I’ve moved a lot growing up, so this desire to move probably stems from that, but really, it wouldn’t be terrible. I’d like the idea of setting down roots somewhere new, even if not permanently. Finding this new place to call home and really coming together and strengthening as a family unit. Smaller holidays would be both good and bad – I’d miss our friends and family but I’d also welcome the challenge of creating a good life for ourselves. And a lower cost of living just makes all of this all the more appealing. Plus, the economy is really in a bad place so any good job would be welcomed at this point, distance or no.

We figure that worst case scenario we’ll have a maybe or no answer from Dream Company by May 4. If he flew out for an interview the following week and was accepted, we could be into the new state by June easily. If they turn him down, at least we’ll know and we can stop waiting not terribly patiently to hear back. We could still end up anywhere at this point, but I’d love it if wherever it is could be figured out soon. Next week is my prenatal appointment so the good news is that I should have no problem keeping the appointment and will then have another month I think until the next appointment, wherever that is.

Monday Morning: April 13

Monday Morning Meme at writefromkaren.com

April 13th Questions:

1. How long have you been blogging? Who is your target audience? How often, if at all, do you think about quitting or taking an extended break? What do you do when you start feeling burned out with blogging? I’ve been blogging a little over a year. My target audience? I suppose it’s fellow mommies and anyone else who might be interested in the goings on of my life. Basically it’s the eight of you who may or may not be reading right now. :P I very occasionally feel burnt out from blogging, usually because I’ve started to “care too much.” But typically I’ll just take a day or two off or try a new approach, even if it’s only in my mind. I’ve only been blogging a year so it really hasn’t been an issue yet and at the heart of it, I’m really just doing this for me.

2. What’s on your mind now? ::laughs:: What isn’t on my mind? Yesterday was Easter so we just saw family, ate good food, MM got to participate in Easter Egg hunts at both families’ which was fun and he was adorable. We had a great time and I’m berating myself for being a terrible mommy blogger and not taking any pictures. And you know… the job hunt. Still no word yet from Dream Company but it’s still earlyish, who knows. Dan applied to a bunch of jobs this morning and we took some long walks, did laundry, etc. Productive yet relaxing. Now the boys are both napping and I’m squeezing in some bloggy time – yay!

3. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the body or the mind of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? Explain your answer, please. I think I’d take the brain of a 30 year old. I think that accepting the physical aging process is a good thing to do – those wrinkles and what have you are a sign of where you’ve been, the gray hairs – they are worth every minute. But the memory loss that comes with age? It would be nice to skip that, to stay sharp and really be able to remember every little second – or you know, as much as possible. It’s not like my memory is so hot now to begin with. :P

4. What would you constitute a “perfect” evening for you? Perfect would mean that MM ate his entire dinner without complaint, didn’t kick and scream his way to bed time and that we enjoyed every minute of the day together. Dinner would have come out perfectly and / or been prepared by someone else. We’d have a great movie or favorite tv show to look forward to or maybe play a board game or get together with friends. I’d go to bed tired but content and actually fall asleep when my head hit the pillow.

Your turn.

Where’s Mom (5 of 52): Gone Tribal

My grandmother had the genius idea to build a teepee – but after buying all the necessary equipment, for whatever reason (or maybe it was her reason all along) she decided to recruit Dan to build it instead and gave us the equipment. I think Dan was thrilled to have a project to work on and he put all his boy scouts / master seamster / engineering skills to work and built the mother of all teepees in my opinion (you aren’t even seeing the finished version in these pictures, it got even better than this.

I’m not sure if you know that my husband is a Wampanoag – you’d never know it looking at him in all his white boy glory, but it’s true. I can vividly remember having to get a DNA test after MM was born so that he could be accepted into the tribe, too. Silliness. But regardless, it’s kind of cool and it made this whole teepee business all the more fun, even though Dan said something about claiming that his ancestors lived in teepees was about as absurd as saying my (European) ancestors came from China – whatever – he’s Native American, it’s a teepee – and clearly it’s in his genes to build these things because unless he’s built like 80 of them before now that I don’t know about, he certainly made it look easy – but maybe that’s just a guy thing. Speaking of China, I really got a kick out of the fabric being all Asian Zen-like. We’re a multicultural free for all kind of family I guess.

Anyway, in the midst of all this fun, I also managed to get myself into a couple of pictures – I hate most of them, but there I am, nonetheless. If I think of it, I’ll take some pictures of the finished teepee and we can all ooh and ahh over hubby’s handiwork and stuff. Meanwhile, MM is pretty much thinking he won the luckiest kid on the planet lottery right now – his daddy seems to have decided to stay home and make teepees for him and eat lots of birthday cake. Basically the best vacation ever in his opinion. In my opinion? If we don’t find a few more projects to do – or a new job for Dan – I might go crazy. He had a quick impromptu phone interview of sorts with another company that’s in the early stages of hiring, even further away than Dream Company and in a state that had me feeling all geographically biased and holier than thou, thinking, “We can’t live there – gross!” But I researched the town a bit, because it sounds like they really liked Dan (who wouldn’t) and it doesn’t seem as bad as I thought, maybe even kind of nice. I guess at the end of the day, every town has it’s ups and downs – I’m sure even Dream Company in Dream State has it’s negative points (besides the 17 hour drive from here). What really gets me – is that it could end up being either of these places, or somewhere else entirely – and it could happen at anytime. My life has turned into one big Choose Your Own Adventure book except it kind of feels like someone else is choosing which pages to jump to and I’m just saying, “But will I have health insurance?” over and over until I turn blue in the face. I mean… Look – up there at the top of this post – pictures of me!

52 Weeks is a year long challenge for YOU to be in a picture once a week for 52 weeks. We are always the ones behind the camera, this is YOUR chance to get out in front and be in the pictures with our family. We are glad you are joining this challenge. More importantly your family will really enjoy having you in the picture. Thanks for playing along! Oh, you can just jump in now with 1 of 52, you’re not getting off that easy! Now go take a picture!

An Absence and Abudance Of Planning, All Rolled Into One

I’m not going to do a monthly menu plan this month, because, well frankly I have no idea what this month has in store and flexibility (and cheapness) is the name of the game right now. We’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants, getting together with friends and family when we can since we don’t know how much longer we’ll be staying in the state and trying to use the contents of our cupboards as much as possible in the meantime. One new recipe I’m meaning to try soon that contains mostly ingredients we already have on hand is this Honey Glazed Chicken Stir Fry on Simple Mom’s monthly menu plan that just looks delicious. We’re doing a lot of pasta, burgers and hot dogs these days because we already have a lot of those things (reviewing Omaha Steaks last month helped a ton in that).

It’s been kind of weird, doing my laundry and wondering if I’ll be able to use all the money on our prepaid laundry card if we move – or if I’ll need to buy another one and if so will we be able to finish that one? Looking at the contents of my cupboards and imagining them in boxes fills me equally with a sense of both excitement and dread. The long, long list of people we’ll need to call, addresses to change, bills to make sure get handled properly – and finding a new place to live – especially if that place is somewhere we’ve never been and can’t just go drive to and look around. It’s nerve wracking.

The interview this morning with Dream Company went really well. He’s now had a phone interview with the Tech Guys and filled out a personality test thing (Rembrandt something or other) and the next step is a written exam to test his problem solving skills or something. I don’t know if that’s something he’ll be able to do here or if they are going to fly him to Dream Company to do it. The whole process reminds us of the beginning of the Mysterious Benedict Society – completing each step, acing each test, not knowing how many more tests stand between us and the job – or if he’ll pass all the tests and get the job – and because it’s so far away, the job itself is still a bit of a mystery in some ways – will we like it? Would we like our new home? Is this something worth coveting or something we may grow to regret in years to come? We have no way of knowing anything except that assuming he gets the job (the phone interview went really, really well) that means he’ll be employed and all this unemployment nonsense can go away. And that’s a good thing, change or no.

And of course even as we’re mentally preparing ourselves for what could be a new reality, we’re also still making back up plans, continuing the job hunt and looking for new listings, sending out his resume, waiting on our first unemployment check and wondering what other government aid we’ll be able to get while we wait, if we need it. I’d love for this all to be over soon but if over means moving somewhere new part of me also wants to hold onto every last moment we have here, to linger at each minute of the days passing – who can we visit today? What memory can we savor? How much longer is this going to last?

And if he doesn’t get the job, and we have to scrap that pipe dream – we’ll be back at the beginning, starting over again, looking for a new dream, making new plans and hoping for the next thing. It’s very strange living here on the edge, unable to plan but incapable of not planning. So no monthly menu plan this month, because clearly I have enough things to half plan right now.

Prosperity, the Economy, Lincoln and Me

Karen posted this today on her blog and I loved it so much I had to throw it over here and share it with all of you, too. In only slightly related news my husband has a phone interview next week with Dream Company. We are trying not to be giddy, but also secretly dreaming about moving trucks while slightly dreading the big move that would relocate us awfully far away from our support system (i.e. friends and family). This week he had a phone interview with Would Be Nice job that was only one hour away – but we knew it was kind of a long shot because one of their main criteria (java) he has no professional experience with. Kind of a deal breaker – but apart from that, the woman who interviewed him LOVED him and she’s looking into the company to see if there are any other jobs opening up that he’d be a fit for. The interview with Dream Company is for a job he’s perfectly qualified for but the job is SO freaking good that we’re trying not to get our hopes up because um it’s amazing and perfect, apart from being a 13 17 hour drive away. So far these are the only two jobs that have contacted him for an interview but his lovely wife searches for new jobs daily so if neither of these jobs end up biting, eventually somebody has to.

Dan’s only been out of college for 2 years – meaning he’s only had 2 years of real world work experience – which means that no matter how brilliant he is, and no matter how quickly he picks up new programming languages and can literally do anything (I’m not exaggerating, honestly, I think he might be a genius) – he still only has two years experience and hasn’t had time to become a seasoned expert in everything yet. And in this economy – you know there are other people who have. In a normal economy, this wouldn’t hold him back – heck in a normal economy, he’d still have his old job. But regardless, right now I’m just crossing my fingers that either Dream Company or Would Be Nice job offer him something – or that the other perfect job we don’t know about shows up soon. Thank god we’re really good at living cheaply now that we have to, in the meantime.

Anyway yeah – economy – Abraham Lincoln – stuff. I’m off to put the toddler to bed and watch Jeapordy. Good night guys!

What Splurges Are Worth It?

Sara @ On Simplicity wrote a post today about what 3 splurges are still worth it in this economy. I think this question might have been easier to answer a few weeks ago. Since Dan lost his job though the question is a bit harder – we are trying to spend our bare minimum these days. We found a TON of things we simply didn’t need to buy, thank goodness, and this has helped us save some money. But some things we’ve held on to that are probably considered splurges:

  1. Our netflix account – I thought about canceling this but for $12 a month we have cheap at home entertainment. Since our cable plan is so cheap ($10 a month) we aren’t already spending a lot on “the same thing” – in fact, we get only VERY basic cable, i.e. no movie channels so it really does still make sense. I also thought about canceling our cable plan but we’d actually lose money – some fee would be charged for only having internet (which in this day and age we need) that costs more than our cable bill! Now, all those decisions would change if he remains unemployed for a long time, but at this point, we’re holding those splurges.
  2. Some things at the grocery store come to mind that maybe we don’t need but we’re currently still buying (for now) – like Greek yogurt (we use the heck out of our Greek yogurt though – it’s in all sorts of the things we cook). I hope we can still justify another tub of greek yogurt the next time we run out. We cut out a lot of things in our grocery lists, which I think make space for the things we really love and use – but it’s nice to know there are still things we can cut out the day we decide we need to save more.
  3. The cost of gas to visit friends and family – when we don’t know how much longer we’ll be living here, it makes sense to visit people while we can – and it’s cheaper than going to the mall, that’s for sure!

Things like fair trade coffee, Yogi tea, going out to eat, expensive gadgets – those are nice, but they are just nice and at the end of the day, we don’t really need them. It’s almost comforting to know that though. In good news – Dan has a phone interview tomorrow with a company that is only one hour away in a town we could afford to live in if we decide the commute is too much – so cross your fingers for that one!

What three splurges are worth it in your lives?

So Here’s What’s Up

Spring has sprung and life continues to change. For us it’s changing a lot. My husband’s company literally ran out of money, forcing them to “lay him off” – i.e. they had nothing to pay him with so he has no job. This happened last week. We’re doing okay. We’re job hunting, we filed for unemployment, we’re doing all the normal things you do. Nobody is freaking out, for the most part. Money is tight. But we’re doing okay.

We’ve told our parents and a few other people but there are still a lot of people who don’t know – talk about a weird subject to bring up – mostly I just don’t know where to start – or don’t want to talk about it – you know we’re dealing with it but I’m really doing fine and just don’t want to talk about it mostly. All we can do is look for new work. Where that new work will be, I have no idea. We are looking in this area but there isn’t much that wouldn’t involve a ridiculous commute. We’re looking further away and have this one state that we are kind of half in love with but it’s over 1,000 miles away – i.e. over 13 hours drive away – i.e. kissing our support network goodbye. All our friends and family, for the most part, live very close by and that would cease to exist. It should bother us more than it does I’m thinking.

Part of me wants to go – the cost of living here is terrible, as I’ve mentioned before and frankly it sounds like an adventure to me. But I’d miss people – and it’s scary, the idea of breaking off – especially being all 22 weeks pregnant and whatnot – that would likely mean finding a new doctor, new health insurance, a new hospital – and who knows who’d be able to come see the new baby, much less watch MM while I’m in the hospital. It’d be tough. But obviously people do it.

So you know it sucks but in some ways it’s almost awesome – a big chance for change – but it’s no secret this economy sucks and mostly I’m just hoping we can find work before our money dries up. And that’s pretty much all I feel like saying about that. For now. If you’ve noticed me being less chatty than usual / abandoning Twitter, etc. that’s why. The small talk is kind of wearing on me to be honest – plus with Dan home, I’m trying to spend time with him instead of just playing on my computer. I’m also helping him job hunt and applying for any government aid I think we can get. Every little bit helps right? Lord knows how long this job hunt will last. I’m still reading your blogs and mostly commenting but I’m also still laying low. Don’t take it personally – I’m sure I’ll get back in the swing of things before you know it.