Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. We arrived in Boise on Friday night after a relatively painless flight - far less painless than actually getting to the Los Angeles Airport at 4:30 p.m. during rush hour on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. The trip has gone by fast but we feel pretty accomplished in all we have managed to do since we got here. Saturday morning we finished up the last of our Christmas shopping, ate lunch at the Noodle Dump (endearing term for Don's family's favorite Chinese Restaurant), and had a fun one night gaming session at Angie's place (Don's sister) with her boyfriend and some friends. They were a great bunch and we had a lot of fun despite keeping some of us up slightly passed our bed time to finish the session.

Sunday was our official unofficial Christmas day. After sleeping in, we all got ready and headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house to open presents and enjoy a fabulous turkey dinner which had been roasting in the oven since midnight. The evening's events also included a couple of rounds of the game Apples to Apples until the Boise State Football game which started off terrible, came all the way back to tie with one minute to go, only to get beat by a winning field goal in the final seconds of the game.

Sunday morning we met up with Don's good friend Adam from high school and his VERY pregnant wife Julia. They are due in the next couple of weeks and very excited for the big change their life is about to take with the birth of their first child. We wish them all the best and are very excited for them. We had a very nice breakfast at a place called Capri's and then were off to rescue Mom from boredom and get her out of the house. We actually decided to brave the mall because Don wanted to get his ring sized. I got him a wedding ring for Christmas and his mom also gave him her old band which works well as a men's ring too. So now instead of having no wedding rings (since he lost his first one) he has two! He is REALLY married now.

Monday night was Christmas eve and time for the annual holiday gathering of extended family. It's my fourth time now attending one of these holiday gatherings and I finally have all of the names and family tree connections down. There have been some difficult times of late with some major injuries and illness in the family so it was a very low key evening. But it was nice to be able to just get together and focus on being together rather than somebody having to organize a major dinner party or big gift exchange. Everybody brought what they could, an appetizer or some sweets, a friend of the family helped out with the main dish and we all had some food and drinks and caught up on each other's lives. And there was good news too. Don's cousin announced that she is newly pregnant and expecting their second child in about 7-8 months. Congratulations! Which of course lead to us getting inundated with questions about when we were going to produce offspring so we got to make our own announcement that we are NOT pregnant and NOT trying and that everyone better just take care of their health so they will be around to enjoy it when we are good and ready to get around to it.

It's Tuesday morning now and we are getting ready to leave to the airport in a little bit. When we get home Kristy will pick us up from the airport and we will get to spend the rest of the week with her until New Years when she flies back. So the holiday will continue and apparently I have been on the computer longer than I thought and now have to rush to get ready in time to catch our flight. Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Baby Cordy

We pulled this old archived footage off of Grandma Bunch's computer today of Cordy as a puppy. Here she is at 6 months old playing with Saucey - Don's Grandpa's Nephew's Wiener Dog. These were the days before Seumas existed and Cordy was desperate for a playmate. At 6 years old and carrying the typical doxie weight, Cordy had Saucey worn out in about 20 minutes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seumas Heaven

Doggie heaven is very simple. It consists of your favorite dog toy and a pile of clean warm blankets fresh from the dryer. Here is Seumas enjoying his seven minutes in heaven.

He Works Hard for the Money

Couldn't resist this picture worth a thousand words of Don Monday evening at the end of a long hard day at work. I think it's the beer in the crotch that really sells it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

99 Blogs on the Wall

Yep, this is blog number 99. I'm about to hit triple digits. Took me a while to get here since my last post but with the ups and downs of the unemployment ride one never feels like blogging during the downs so I had to wait for some good ups when I would have something interesting to report on rather than just silence. And the downs are all about the silence - waiting for the phone to ring and being stuck all alone with the thoughts in your own head: "This job is perfect! I'm so qualified! I can do this in my sleep. They'll love me. Is there something wrong with my phone? Maybe my applications aren't getting through. Did I really say that in the interview? Why didn't I just quit while I was ahead? I'm going to be unemployed for the rest of my life!!!!!!!!!" Actually, the application and interview process is going well. However, thanks to the wonderful timing of the holiday season no one is in a hurry to get on to the actual hiring process. Everybody would rather take vacations and stuff. Dummies.

So of the applications that I sent out, three have already resulted in an interview. I'm averaging one a week so far which isn't bad. The first one, thumbs down. Not interested. I don't think they could afford me anyway. However, the next two are both very exciting prospects. One in Commercial Lending for a major bank and the other a credit position with a very successful Leasing Company. The interview with the bank was last Tuesday and it was a slam dunk. I was exactly what they were looking for and they were exactly what I was looking for. I emailed the HR rep today to tell her that I would be out of town for the holidays and let her know when and where I could be reached. She emailed me back and said they plan to make a decision next week and would be in touch as soon as she had more information. Two hours later I heard from both of my former bosses that she had just called and they had both given her glowing reviews. So it sounds like that one is in the bag but you never know until it's all said and done. The other one I interviewed with just yesterday. The interview went very well and the credit manager and I hit it off immediately. I don't have as strong a read on that one but I am certainly qualified and there is a strong chance that they may make me an offer as well. They also intend to make a decision by the end of next week.

Now, on the superficial side, the bank has way better benefits but a longer commute, while the leasing company is much closer and includes a variety of other incentives. Both of them have excellent opportunities for professional growth that will continue to make me even more marketable and advance my career in the direction I want to go. If offered both, I do not know at this point which one I would choose. It does not come down to money. Both are competitive salaries and I have no intention of holding out for the highest bidder. But I have already passed through the entry level and even mid level stages of my career and established myself at the advanced level in my industry which to this point has been a combination of equipment financing and banking. These two positions will allow me to now start focusing in the longer term toward the management level with the specialized knowledge that each industry offers and could define my career from this point forward. Basically, the decision that I have to make at this point is whether I want to be a Banker or a Lessor. They probably sound like the same thing to most people but they are actually some considerable differences and I'm not going to make the effort to try to explain it to you so you will just have to take my word for it.

Wow, and when I put in those terms - whether I am a Banker or Lessor at heart - I actually know now which I would chose if both offers presented themselves. This blog has actually been really productive for helping me straighten out my feelings toward this. However, since I know that the unemployment cycle includes ups and downs and revolving feelings and cycles of thought that can change on a whim, and since I haven't been given an official offer from either one yet, I will refrain from publishing it on the internet and keep you all in suspense until the actual miraculous event of being hired actually occurs.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain

I know it would be way too much to wish for snow this Christmas in California. But in the last couple of days we actually have had a few rain showers. It is amazing how clear and beautiful the sky is and how clean the air is. When Don and I were driving to church and to Burbank this morning for an errand, we couldn't get over how gorgeous all of the mountains are when you are not admiring them through a lense of haze.

Company Christmas Party

Last night was Don's Company Christmas party. We had a really good time. They held it at the same venue they always do but it was interesting to be able to drive there for the first time instead of flying from Washington. It was our fourth Christmas party with Revchem so it's definitely starting to have that feeling of family. Anyway, there was good food, drinks, music, dancing, and games in which Don and another coworker won themselves each a nice gift card to Starbucks. You couldn't ask for a better prize than that for Don. I was really excited to be there with my handsome husband. I'm so proud of everything he has done and accomplished in his position since we have moved here and it was nice to be at a function where I could publicly support him and get to know all of his employees and coworkers.

Today we have church and a couple of errands to run. Then it will be back to the grindstone of getting ready to start the job hunting for the week again and prepping for my upcoming interview.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cricket, Cricket, Ring

You would think that being unemployed and staying home would be a treat. There's just so much liesure time to walk the dogs, read Harry Potter, get some exercise, and do errands during the day when the stores aren't crowded. Actually, in the words of the controversial character Borat ... NOT!!!! Not true at all.

Job hunting takes a lot of time -- searching all the websites for current openings in my field; writing, and rewriting, and modifying my resume and cover letter for each position; calling industry contacts to see if they have heard of any openings or know of anyone whose looking for help. At this point, if I'm even unemployed long enough to collect on my unemployment claim, I will feel like I've definitely earned that money. I'm not saying that I've been productive every minute of every day, but it amazes me that after one whole entire week of being home, I have not been able to get to a single load of laundry done, haven't walked the dogs once (poor puppies) or exercised at all for that matter, and haven't had the time to put together a meal plan that lasts longer than what's for dinner tonight? And forget doing errands during the day. I'm tied to the house during normal business hours for fear of leaving and missing a phone call from a potential employer. So, surprising to say, after my first full week of unemployment, I'm actually glad it's the weekend so I can have a bit of a break!

To sum up the search so far, I had one interview on Monday with a colleague of my previous' boss. Went well, is a possibility, but I'm kind of hoping to get away from Broker Leasing and see if I can steer more toward Commercial Banking since that will offer a lot more stability and opportunities for advancement, not to mention better benefits. In the last week I have found and applied for 5 such jobs in the immediate vicinity that I am highly qualified for and am excited about.

I have found in the past when job hunting, that it takes a week or two from when I start sending out applications to start getting calls back. And usually when I get a call that almost always leads to an interview which almost always leads to an offer. But still, there is that initial week of silence that is always a little bit deafening and makes you start to doubt yourself, start to panic a little about the job market, start to waffle on your salary. At the end of the first week, even after carrying the cordless phone all over the house with me so that I wouldn't miss hearing a phone call, 5pm on Friday rolled around and still had not heard from anyone. Now don't get me wrong, I got plenty of phone calls. It's amazing how many calls you get from people when they know you are home during the day, and lots of support too from people who had just heard the news. Just no calls from any of the potential employers I was looking forward to hearing from.

So last night Don and I settled into our chairs to watch the finale of Supernatural Season Two. And what do you know, 6:00 p.m. rolls around and the phone rings. Don and I both sighed, not in the mood for personal calls and annoyed by the interruption to our nice relaxing evening. When I went to pick up the phone, I noticed that I did not recognize the local phone number on the caller ID. When I answered it, a nice lady introduced herself as an HR recruiter for a bank that I recently submitted my resume to! She was working a little bit late on this Friday evening and had just received my resume and thought it was worth trying to catch me before she went home.

We had a very nice chat about the position. It sounds like I am exactly what they are looking for and they are exactly what I am looking for. It is a Commercial Loan Administrative Assistant position in my salary range with the opportunity to grow into some Underwriting responsibilities. Perfect! The only bummer about the position, and this is a pretty big bummer, is that though their offices are in Sherman Oaks right now, they are going to be moving to Glendale soon. Doh! Well, that is farther than I wanted to go but the farthest that I am willing to go. Too bad they are not staying here though! Anyway, I will be interviewing with them next week. There are still a couple of similar positions in the direct vicinity. If they offer the same salary and the same opportunities those would obviously be preferable. And it always helps for salary negotiations when you already have an offer on the table. So it looks like things are moving in the right direction. And I'm going to enjoy a nice, well deserved weekend.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Job Hunt

Thanks everyone for all the support! It's nice. Really. :)

Couple of positives on the job front. Looks like there are two positions of interest in my immediate vicinity (a.k.a. less than two miles). One with a bank, the other with a successful credit union. I have applied for both. My sister helped me upgrade my resume from awesome to awesometastic so I'm feeling pretty positive that I should at least get a call or an interview out of them.

Also, I submitted my resume to a leasing recruiting agency and got a call from a recruiter this morning so it is possible something could come from that.

And finally submitted my claim for unemployment insurance. Weekly benefits are about 30% of my normal take home pay. Ouch! Good thing I have a Sugar Daddy for a husband.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Big News

It's funny how you can post one thing in the morning and then something big happens later that day and you go back and read your last post and think, wow, I can't believe that was my frame of mind only a few hours ago. So much has changed since then!

Anyway, for those of you who haven't heard the news yet, I was laid off from my job on Friday afternoon. No notice, just handed me a check for wages-to-date and said Merry Christmas. The owner of the company went over my boss' head to let me go. We were doing pretty well on the finance side of things but unfortunately the second company was dragging both companies down. Luckily, I was aware enough to notice the signs so it wasn't a complete surprise and had already started keeping an eye out for other opportunities.

Honestly, the working environment was becoming more and more unpleasant anyway so Don and I are both feeling pretty positive about this opportunity/nudge to get out there and look for something better. And it could not have come at a better time financially. Luckily, I did our Christmas shopping early so that was mostly taken care of and had just paid our rent and all of our bills for the month. We were getting set up for a nice month to pay off some debt, but easy come easy go I guess. Still, there have been enough positive signs in this to keep us feeling like God is watching out for us and we are on the right path. Sunday was the first week of Advent, which is the first week of the new Church year. It just really felt like we were in the right place and right time to be beginning a new path for something as big as starting a new job.

I have already had one interview with a friend of my boss. He has more interviews to complete but if he offers me the position, it would be similar work with the same salary range. It's more than he wanted to spend but I put my foot down. He is a small company too and no guarantees like my last job. There are some positions I would be willing to take a pay cut for (within reason) but mostly they involve a greater amount of stability and opportunities for upward mobility. Speaking of such jobs, there is an opening for a commercial loan administrator (similar to what I do) that is less than two miles from my house for a major bank that I really have my fingers crossed for. They just posted the position last week and banks can take a while to get through their interview processes so I am kind of spinning my wheels this week hoping to hear back from them before I start really getting out there and doing the mass resume thing.

Although we are feeling overwhelmingly positive about the situation all things considered, there are still the obvious anxieties, insecurities, and depression that come with being unemployed to battle. So far I'm doing pretty well but would certainly welcome any and all prayers for a quick resolution. In the meantime, in between job searching on the internet and making calls, I am having fun being a stay at home mom for the pups and playing housewife. Don has already offered for me to come to his office and help him with his filing but he says he will have to pay me in other ways than cash. I'd be happy with dish duty for a week or scrubbing the kitchen floor, but I have the feeling he was thinking other things. . .