Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Godfather Part II, but not the movie

I am happy to announce that Hallmark4Ever/Sara & GoodEgg/Rob (our friends from NJ) asked us to be godparents to their second child!!! We are thrilled!!

I am godmother to Big Ears, my sister's son and Deal is Godfather Part I (not the movie) to Curly Locks, my sister's daughter. Many people downplay the title of godparents, but we try to take it as seriously as we can. Of course we try to be a part of all our friends' and families' kids, which is almost impossible since these folks are very prolific and I think there are about 25+ kids floating around the country. But being godparents will ensure we play a role!!

Anna Grace was born on June 1 at 12:01pm, weighing in at 8lbs 7oz and 21 inches long. She is so precious and we feel honored that they asked us to be her godparents. The baptism was this past weekend and she did great!

I am usually not a "baby" person. It's just that babies are so fragile. I get all awkward and worried that I will break the person. I do much better once they reach 8 months or so. But, Anna is so sweet and I felt comfortable enough holding her. 

Even though he is not our Godson, I'll still give him some Internet sensation time because he is also adorable. Here is their first child:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Deal's Family

Almost immediately after my sister's family left, Deal's family arrived! First, his preggo sister (our third niece or nephew to arrive in November!!) SILMeow/Julie and her hubby Napolean Dynamite/Russ.

They were only at our place for one night before we ventured to Virginia Beach (all the way on the other side of VA) for a family reunion. His family is not as big as my extended family, but more spread out, so it's fun to get everyone together. 

In Virginia Beach, we did a little bit of everything!

Eating, Drinking, Paddle Boating, Unsuccessful Paddleboarding, Kayaking, Canoeing, Eating, Drinking, Golf (Boys), Beach Time (Girls), Eating, Drinking, Family History Discussions, Meeting the Child that Will Carry on Our Family Name, Dueling Birthday Celebrations, Surprise Baby Shower, Competitive, Sweat-Inducing Games of Beersbe (???), Eating, Drinking, ... The pictures will speak louder than my words. Fun times ... the only hiccup was the 8 hours of traffic we sat in coming home ...

Whole Entire Family:




Newest Addition:

Bun in the Oven:

Hottie Bom Botties:

Birfday Gals:

Deal's other sister SILAdventure/Jamie and girlfriend DocDoc/Rachel returned with us after the reunion. In keeping with her name, we embarked on a little adventure ... rafting on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers!! Fire Marshall/Mac and A-Game/Alex (Alex, your blog name has finally been determined ... A-Game) joined us. These rivers are not raging, so we only got up to Class III, but our guide made it interesting and heart-pounding, especially when he made us "surf," which essentially means we sunk our boat into the rapid. Plus, Deal loves to try to throw people out of the raft and do as little paddling as possible (same with SILAdventure). Thankfully no one went in. Oh, and the looming thunderstorm made it interesting as well.

Our visitors departed on my birfday and Deal treated to me to something we never do ... the movies. But this was a special movie: "Step Up Revolution." Did y'all know that in another life I was a dancer? I still dream about those days ... oh wait, I'm unemployed. Maybe I can channel my inner "So You Think You Can Dance" character and make a career out of that?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Steadee's Family

Quitting my job was timed perfectly for our oodles of back-to-back family visitors.

First up, my sister and her family spent 5.5 days with us. I can't even imagine working while they were here, because we all know you need a lot of energy to keep up with those kids!!! On a side note, we have renamed Bones as Big Ears. This 10-year-old can be three rooms over, but his super-sonic ears catch everything he is NOT supposed to hear!

Anyway, while we lived in NH, I think they visited 4 times and we explored every bit of the state, doing something new on every trip. Now that we live in an unfamiliar place, it was fun to have new places to explore! As usual, their visits are jam-packed with activity.

Of course, everyone who visits us has to go out to the rocks. It's part of the official tour. How sweet is the photo below of Big Ears and Curly Locks? 

Being that we live in the woods, we took every opportunity to expose the kids to as much nature as possible. They do not think snakes and spiders are cool--thanks to their mama--but, they like hiking and being in the forest. They also take pride in picking up garbage from the trails!
Not only did we put the kids to work on the trails, but they both helped us in the store with customers and Curly Locks helped make dinner and washed dishes!! Hmm ... almost makes having kids seem appealing ...

We gave Big Ears his very own tent for his birthday, so he & Deal camped out one night. The rest of us hung out by the campfire for a bit, but Big Ears was eager to have the campfire to himself with his uncle. It was the night of the Perseid Meteor shower, but unfortunately cloudy skies blocked any meteor shower sightings. 
 On Saturday, Deal & I marched in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy 75th Anniversary parade commemorating the trail. We are proud members of the Class of 2011, but it's amazing to see how far back the classes date! While there, Curly Locks showed us she definitely lacks any fear of heights as she scrambled up the rock wall!!

On Sunday, the boys and girls separated. The boys went to the Air & Space Museum in Chantilly, which is SO, SO AWESOME (according to Big Ears). It was recommended to us and we have already recommended it to others! As for the girls, we did what girls do best (well, except for me) ... shop and nails.

Monday we made our way down south a little to check out Luray Caverns, exactly 134 years after it was discovered to the day (Aug. 13, 1878). Deal & I have been to a number of cave systems, and this is by far the most commercialized. Not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that you can notice a little bit of a difference between the private caves and the ones maintained by the national parks system.

 Regardless, this was a first for the kiddies and the other adults and the unique formations in caves really never get old no matter how many times we go. There were two signature things about this cave. One, there was a lake in one of the "rooms," which created a mirror image of the ceiling and all the stalactites. There was also a chamber where they still host weddings and someone built a one-of-a-kind stalacpipe organ, which uses the ancient limestone formations to make the music. See what I mean about commercialized? Somehow that doesn't seem right.

We opted out of visiting D.C. with them on Tuesday, but they made sure to see as many museums and hot spots as they could fit in. This means they left our place at 8am and returned at 11pm. I'd say they made the most of it?

So we survived, err, enjoyed another visit hosting my side of the family!! Until next year!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Take this job and shove it.

Hi everyone, how are you? I quit my job.

If you do not want to join my pity party, stop reading now. I am warning you, this will be a long, hopefully funny, sometimes incoherent, sometimes angry, sometimes thankful rant. The fact of the matter is, I need to get my feelings out about the awful experience I had working for Company X.

I know what you are thinking ... it was the twilight hours. Wrong. I did quite well with the overnight schedule (8pm to 5am). Not sure I will go as far to say I liked it, but it was not bad. At least there was that.

The truth is, Company X was never a good fit for me. I gave it a fair shot—6 months—even though I wanted to quit after my first week. The red flags went up right away when I began working with Company X.

Exhibit A
Steadee to Manager: "Working overnight is a new thing for me. Do people take a breakfast, lunch or dinner break?"
Manager: "We don't really take breaks here. You are pretty much expected to work 8-10 hours/day without a break. It's just the nature of the job."

Exhibit B
In my hiring discussions back in December, Deal & I didn't know where we would end up living. Believe it or not, Alaska was on the table. Then we ended up moving 50 miles away from Company X. They still said when they hired me: "We'll bring you in the office for a week of training, then you can decide if you want to work in the office or work remotely. We'll give you your equipment and send you on your way" After two weeks of making the long commute to the office, I was ready to be a recluse worker again. When I brought it to my manager's attention, he said, "sure you can work from home. But you have to take an 8 percent pay cut." Hmmm. That was the first I heard of that, nor was it written anywhere in their policy handbook. When I went back to the person who hired me to question it, he said, "I don't remember any of those conversations."

Exhibit C
By the time my 6-month tenure was up, I hadn't met all of the 50+ people on the editorial team. We work in cubicles and communicate via IM. Listen, I worked remotely for about 6 years of my career, so I am an expert at the IM and no human contact thing, but this job was in an office! With a break room (but see Exhibit A)! So I didn't take breaks for my first 2 months. I was miserable. Don't tell management, but I eventually took breaks, socialized and made friends. In fact, my one coworker and I took a break almost every day. Sometimes 2 breaks (granted, they were 10 or 15 minutes). It was the only way I could survive this long. Inclusive in the group of coworkers I never met was my own boss. He was remote, but does anyone else think it is abnormal to never meet your boss?

Exhibit D
We have deadlines that give you exactly 1 minute and 42 seconds to spare. When I first started, I noticed that people were running, not walking, to go to the bathrom. I thought that was ridiculous. But then I noticed I was always on edge and held my own pee. Maybe it was all the BREAKS I was taking. And true, certain days were slower than others, and those days I cherished my extra 3 minutes and 19 seconds. For the most part, my health care section was busy, busy, busy. If you haven't noticed, health care is on steroids in the news these days. I hated being so rushed and so tense sitting at my desk for 8-11 hours a day. I spent more time doing my job than anything else.

Exhibit E
There was a massive learning curve. It actually felt like I was being hazed. I felt so alone. I felt like my own coworkers were ganging up on me. They were not, but they certainly did not have the time to give me support and hold my hand through the learning process. I did start at the same time as 3 other guys who felt very similar feelings, but I highly doubt they were spending their drives to and from work in tears. Even though things got easier, they never got awesome. The really high expectations continued and as soon as I thought I was in a good place, something new I could improve was brought to my attention. I tried avoiding asking questions because they had a funny way of making me feel like I was an idiot for not already knowing the answer.

Exhibit F
Remember the boss I never met? HE LIKED TO USE ALL CAPS WHEN HE WAS NOT HAPPY WITH SOMETHING I DID. This happened often. For working in the communications field, he was a pretty poor communicator. He should not be a manager.

So why did I stay for 6 months? Part of the delay was something green and semi-important ... money. The other part was my ego and my determination not to give up.

Let me take you back a few months to when the job sounded so good on paper. After being laid off in 2009, spending a year dabbling in the freelance world, then taking a 9-month break to hike and road trip, I thought it was time for me to get back to work full time. To say I was feeling like a failure in the career arena is an understatement. Of course I do not place all of my self worth in work, because, a-hem, I had just hiked 2,181 miles and I was pretty damn proud, but I wanted a job to prove to myself that I could still succeed elsewhere.

Sometimes the right decisions are hard. I went back and forth so many times about this job and how long I "should" keep it. It monopolized my conversations with friends and family. It consumed me. And I strongly disliked my life with this job.

Truth be told, I never wanted any big, powerful jobs. This is a little hard for me to admit. I am only in my mid-30s, I have absolutely no plans to ever mother any children, so my career should be my life. At least that's what society makes me think. But, the job took so much energy out of me, I didn't have anything left at the end of the day (or the beginning of the day in my case). People work 11-hour days all the time and have much more to juggle than I did. I think I am a hard worker, but what I didn't like was working for money. Anyone who knows us knows we are not driven by money. That's what this job was all about. I just want to love what I do every day so it doesn't feel like a job.

A friend told me that sometimes you have to know misery to know happiness. Admittedly, my life has been pretty darn happy for the past few years. Sure, there have been a few ups and downs, but overall, I recognize that I've been extremely blessed. I think I came face to face with misery during these past 6 months. And now I'm ready to go back to being happy-go-lucky Steadee.

What will I do now? My 3 loyal blog readers will be happy to know I will post more!! I will be spending more time with my hubby at the lodge and hostel. And as Deal says, I'll "just be living life."

So if you made it all the way to the end of this post, thanks for hearing me out. Now let me go rewrite this so it is sufficient for my exit interview.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Visitations Continue ...

We had more visitors roll through in July and now in August and they will continue through the end of the month (4 more arriving manana)! As much as I know you want me to recount every detail, I only have time to highlight our most recent visitors ... of course, I probably have no readers left at this point, so to all who are listening ...

Some of our cronies back from our dawg days living in AZ reunited (and it feels so good). This included (L to R) the newest addition, 1-year-old TrailMagicCharlie, Sara/Caliente, Mike/theFather, Chris/Mouth and Kayt/NHBound. It was quite the party!!

We could have easily glued ourselves to watching the Olympics--which we did some of--but we let the activity inspire us to get off our butts. Caliente, the Father & TrailMagicCharlie went for a hike Saturday morning, while Deal & I cleaned the hostel. In the afternoon, the 5 of us went for a 10-mile bike ride on the W & OD bike path. Deal and I have been wanting to get out there since we got here, so this worked out perfectly!! It was a hot day, but the cool breeze while biking made it all better.

Mouth & NHBound arrived Saturday evening and we wined, dined, then enjoyed a fire outside.

Sunday, Mouth wanted to pretend for a minute that he was a lumberjack. So he chopped some of our endless wood pile by hand. Might I add we do have a hydraulic wood splitter, but that was just not manly enough for him.

 Caliente & crew left mid-morning Sunday, so Mouth, NHBound, Deal & I hit the bike path again! This time we went 14 miles. I have to give myself kudos ... Mouth, NHBound & Deal have nice bikes, mine is middle-of-the-line. Keeping up with them was a serious challenge!!! Not to mention, I am much shorter than all of them! Anyway, we finished just before a nice thunderstorm rolled in and said bye bye to our good friends.

It's always awesome to see these folks. Next time we'll have to get Mouse/Kathryn and Roid/Andy down here as well. This time around, Roid had a bad case of phaesothrombosis. Look it up, it's intense!!