Work

School of Hard Knocks

I am not totally sure my husband is going to be o.k. with this post.
Which means, you should definitely keep reading.

As many of you know, LG’s law practice was a huge trial of our faith.
LG was able to help a lot of people and do some amazing things,
but it never paid out like it needed to.
In fact, The State of Tennessee was so bad about paying
their court appointments, that many times we waited over 6 months
for LG to be paid for his work.
That is 6 months, after he submitted his claims.
When you do juvenile work,
your cases can drag on and on and on.
So he would work on a case for years sometimes
before he could even submit his claim for payment.
And then after he submitted,
we would wait and wait and wait.
I e-mailed the governor about this travesty twice.

It just seemed wrong that the State never had any trouble
paying out their welfare, food-stamps, and Medicaid,
but when you were a hard working attorney
living with no health insurance or food stamps or welfare,
and had four kids to feed,
the State would turn their back on you.
Must be a bunch of Democrats.
Maybe that isn’t fair to say,
but I feel like saying it.
Government is flawed people.
Even if you are a Republican.
Government will never run as
efficiently as the private sector.

But really,
it is just wrong.
My husband busted his tail every day,
lived with humongous amounts of stress,
taking care of hundreds of clients
who had more than he did.
Because even though they were on drugs,
and beating their spouses,
and abusing their kids,
and didn’t work,
they lived off the very same government
that refused to pay out the dues that my husband had rightfully earned.

Anyhow, looking back there are a lot of things we would have done differently,
but what is the use in looking back?
Ultimately, we know we prayed and got revelation in our lives
for what we should have done, and we did the best we could.
God’s will is important to us.
Even if it isn’t important to you.

So, LG was forced to close his practice.
We had no income for months.
Nothing.
Nada.
Guess what?
Our credit got screwed.
Much like a lot of other Americans out there,
we are pretty much starting over.

Which is another trial of our faith.
On a daily basis.
But I am grateful every day that LG’s employer

offered him his current position.
It’s a great job
with a quarter of the stress.
And it comes with
health benefits, a consistent paycheck,
and people who appreciate my husband
on a daily basis.
So life is getting better every day.

But, there is always the flipside to the coin.
Yesterday, I heard back about that second interview.
You are going to cry for me
when you hear what I was told.

I basically had the job,
but was denied for one reason,
and one reason alone.
My credit check.

Doesn’t that seem like a Catch 22?
I decide to get a job,
to help my hubby dig us out of the hole,
and a company that I have already given
much reliable service to
decides that I am not reliable enough
for an entry level position
(a lower position than I used to hold)
because of my screwed up credit.

The craziest part, is my credit is not
screwed up because of anything that I personally did.
Unless you want to count the fact
that I did my best to support my husband
in doing what God told him to do.
I’ve been a stay at home mom
for heaven sakes.
Didn’t you read that on my resume?

For eight years,
we scraped by on nothing
while raising kids,
seeking education,
giving church service,
and community service,
and running a law practice that helped the less fortunate.
And it all came crashing down.
Right on top of us.

So, what do I have to say?
Your loss NuSkin.
I still love you,
but I think you are very narrow minded.

And last night
I cried a little bit
while telling friends that
I just have to continue to put my trust in God.
Because I know He will consecrate
all my heartaches for my good,
if I let Him.
And He will sanctify me
in my trials.
And He has to have something better out there.

Even if it was just that
I could cry with friends,
buy and eat a $4 piece of chocolate cheescake
without an ounce of guilt,
and watch Glee re-runs all night.

It was amazing.
I gave myself permission
to be bummed
for just one day.
And I woke up this morning
feeling totally cool with it.

I don’t know why I am willing
to air my dirty laundry like this
out there for the whole world to see,
but I think it’s because
posts like these
are usually the ones that resonate with
my readers the most.

And if every company out there
won’t hire me because our credit
got screwed during months of
unemployment,
I might as well be as honest as I can on my blog
because it may be my only chance at making  a little money.

And if I tell you that I have hope
because of Jesus Christ,
it may give someone else out there
struggling
a little hope too.

Screw you Corporate America.
Screw you Government America.
Watch me make money
with Google AdSense.
It’s the wave of the future.

I am not going to tell you
to click on an ad
because I signed a contract that I wouldn’t
and after this post
it would just be pathetic.

I am going to apply for a job
with every single one
of NuSkin’s competitors.
And I am even thinking about sending
this link along to the founder
Blake Roney.

Just because
I am a fighter.

How the heck do you think I am still surviving?

Now – the soundtrack plays in your mind –
It’s a hard enough life for us.
It’s a hard enough life for us.
No one cares for you a smidge,
when you’re in an _____________.

Feel free to fill in the blank.

What’s your talent?

LG and I share a talent.
We both play the piano.
Kind of.
He sent this video to me this morning.
How cute of him, huh?
I love it when he finds cool things online and sends me the link.
We have a cyber love, what can I say?

I wanted to pay it forward.
So I decided to share the video and tell you that it made me happy for two things today.

One – Harry Potter, the final movie, will soon be here.
Two – He loves the piano like I do.

I remember the first (and quite possibly the only) purchase I ever made from an infomercial. I bought it proudly with my newly obtained credit card. Right off that 800 number. I was 17 and had just gained my independence. And what did I buy? The three set cassette tapes of Masterful Piano. Oh how I loved the variety of the song choice, the beauty of the moods and the tone of the piano. I should have known then that I only needed to consider then men with talent on the keyboard as suitable suitors.

Many things make me happy in this world, but listening to my man play the piano is at the top of the list.

Today, I interviewed again for that same job. This time it is a daytime position that I was encouraged to apply for when they turned me down last time. I humbled myself and endured another interview. I hate selling myself, but I knew I had to do a better job. So I socked it to them. I hope I wasn’t overboard.

“What is my greatest strength?” they asked.

“I’m a people person.”

It’s my talent. What can I say? I can talk to anyone. Sometimes (o.k. oftentimes) I might stick my foot in my mouth, but if you are in my vicinity, I will know something about you before I walk away.

Like today, when I changed my goal of upselling them on the sharpies to upselling them on why they needed me in their call center, the lady interviewer told me that her favorite color sharpie is purple.

If I land the job, I will be taking her a purple sharpie.

Not just because she is cool, but because she laughed when I told her if I had to come for a third round of interviews, I expected a purple sharpie at the desk next time.

Job Interview

Yesterday I had a job interview. It’s been a long time since I have interviewed for a job. I really want the job, but I am a little worried.

I think everyone worries after interviewing for work. In fact I think that the only people who can feel really confident after a job interview are those who have no feelings whatsoever.

I had to take a computer assessment. You all know I am computer savvy, right? How else could I blog like I do? But I am a little worried because there was this one question about using the shortcut function for searching. I answered with Ctrl+S (for search). Right? Makes the most sense. Wrong. The correct answer is Ctrl+F (for find). “How was I supposed to know that? I just use google,” I tell my hubby. He says, “No Alice, you don’t use that function online, but in word processing.” Oh, yeah, I actually do faintly remember that function from back in my secretarial days. Too bad I couldn’t remember the correct answer during the assessment. I even got this little voice in the back of my brain saying NO NOT CTRL+S, that would be too obvious  Too bad I can’t call them up and say, “I know I got that question wrong but I will never forget it now.” I am trying to console myself by thinking that I got every other question right. And you only had to pass the assessment, not ace it.

But, then I start freaking out about the interview portion. I replay every word out of my mouth. And you all know that can be a scary thing.

All I can do is chuckle and question myself as to WHY I told this story. Seriously, I have no shame. Two male interviewers and I pull out the story with the word pee in it? How did they even contain their laughter.

I will say one thing, that company that I just interviewed is one professional place. Those interviewers barely cracked a smile. Even when I tried to upsell them on the fact that they need colored sharpies instead of just plain black ones for their interviewees to write their names on the nametags. Just barely smiled, those two. Even if it was dress-down Friday, they were not giving up on their professionalism.

I bet they busted up as soon as they saw that my professionalism made it all the way out to the parking lot where my minivan awaited. At least I didn’t pee on their floor from pure nervousness.

There’s always an upside.

The self-talk that will be ensuing for the next few day at my house: at least you didn’t pee on their floor Alice.

And if they don’t hire you, no worries. You will still get to sleep through the night.

Oh, and the last but greatest calmer downer: you used to work there Alice. In a higher paying position. If they don’t rehire you, it’s not God’s will.

And I will believe me. Because serenity is awesome. And the only way to get it is to believe and trust in God. He can work miracles. Even if I stick my foot in my mouth at every crossroads in my life.

Legal Assistants

LG’s law practice is a thing of the past. I think sometimes he misses it a little bit. Although he would never admit it. For any of you starting your own practice my husband will gladly give you some advice. Have a partner. The other thing he will tell you was told to him by a smart law professor.
“Get a good assistant and keep her.”
The first year of LG’s law practice I was the assistant. I guess I wasn’t good enough because he didn’t keep me. We often joke that I think I quit and he thinks he fired me. Either way it doesn’t matter. What really happened is I had a baby and it was too hard for me to take care of the baby, the other girls, LG, and his practice. I was forced to let LG take a portion of his take home pay and divvy it out to a real assistant.
I can’t remember the details, but before I knew it, LG had hired two assistants. 
You see, he tries to be a humble guy and will gladly admit to needing all the help he can get.
The other lawyers that got to know is assistants always teased LG that he knew how to do things right. It was more than a little eery that they would all make the same joke:
“LG, you must be one hellofaguy. You have a blonde assistant on T and TH and a brunette on M,W,F.”
Yuck.
I really had to work on my confidence for years, and a wife really doesn’t need jokes like that. For a long time LG and I had an understanding that the only assistant he was going to have was a gay man.
But then came Sheena and Stephanie. I trusted these girls with my life and my husband. And they took really good care of him. I think if LG were to enhance his new job in any way, he would request a personal secretary to do all the things he doesn’t like doing. These girls were a godsend. They relieved my man’s stress level by about 40%.
Funny, by the pictures you would think that Sheena was the brunette and Stephanie was the blonde, but when they worked for LG, they both had opposing hair colors to these photos.
Sheena on her wedding day.
I stole this photo from her facebook.
Stephanie on her graduation day.
She e-mailed me this photo.
And gave me permission to use it on my blog.

When Stephanie was working for LG, her mom showed me a pair of shoes that Stephanie had requested for her birthday. Upon seeing them, I begged her not to wear them to work. No explanation needed. She honored my request. Or didn’t she? I can’t remember. It really didn’t matter. I was just joking with her.

You can imagine my entertained laugh a few weeks back when opening an e-mail with this photo from Stephanie. Stephanie had graduated from paralegal school. She said she had to wear her heels to make a statement.
I replied with, 

My thought was what point were you trying to make…that all legal assistants have to be hot? Because if that’s the case, my sex life should have been a lot better than it was during that year that I worked for LG.

Of course I wasn’t serious.

Jam Making

A few weeks back our family studied
This was a timely declaration made by our living prophet.
It is filled with wisdom and truth.
We discussed with the kids this line:
Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
We came up with the best ways our family could work on living these principles.
This is what the kids came up with:

 
Faith – Read scriptures daily.
Prayer – Everyone pray more often.
Repentence – Admitting when were wrong and saying sorry.
Forgiveness – Not being upset, loving in return.
Respect – Listening /Put ups instead of Put Downs
Love –  I cannot hurt /Breathe/Support Each Other
Compassion – Include Everyone
Work – Everyone Pitch In
Wholesome Recreational Activities – Activity Jar
 
As I pondered how to implement these things into our home I felt inspired that I needed to take the lead. I have personally been wanting to work on being actively engaged with the kids. I want to lead by example. I want to be more kind. I want to be more respectful and quiet. I want to work hand in hand.
 
I found some strawberries on sale last week.
99 cents for 2 quarts. 
That’s a steal.
The fruit was bought and so was the Sure-Jel.
It was time for some jam making.
 
I felt a feeling that instead of making jam alone that I should include the whole family.
I decided that we would forgo our typical sit down Family Home Evening lesson
and work together.
 
This turned out to be one of the best evenings we’ve spent together as a family.
We worked on the jam, each taking turns with the different jobs.
When we got through the kids burst out into a impromptu jam session.
We never work without music around here.
There was such a feeling of love and cooperation and industry.
I was so happy. 
We had Strawberry Cake for dessert and sat down to
sing, pray, and read from the scriptures about work.
The girls made up a great song.
I am so grateful to a God who listens to my prayers
and answers them.
He answers when I take time to talk to Him honestly
and to listen to Him when he talks back to me
through the Holy Spirit.
I love my family.
They are the best.
I am so glad God has given us tools to learn together and grow closer.
And now, every member of my family knows how to make jam,
but I doubt they will ever want to do it without someone with who they can jam at the same time.
What a sweet evening.
Oh and inquiring minds want to know, I am sure.
The homemade freezer jam recipe is a piece of cake.

Buy a box of sure-jel, a couple quarts of strawberries, and a lot of sugar, and you are good to go.
Make sure you have a freezer safe container.
And did I mention A LOT of sugar.
There is NO better jam in the world.
So yummy.
I’m going to have some now.
All the sudden I am starving.

Thanks Cally.

Sometimes, I just love my friends even more.
Because I remember that I love them
And real.
And humble.
And they don’t have to be perfect,
and when they don’t act perfect all the time,
it gives me permission to be myself.
I wonder why sometimes
I waste time
building friendships
with non-real people.
You know,
they are made out of cheese.
I guess this is my guest post for the week.
Because Abigail came home with lice on Tuesday.
And I have been laundering,
and mayonaising,
and RIDing,
and laundering some more,
and spraying,
and vacuuming,
and crying,
and bagging everything,
and boiling hair things.
And my brother has been in town.
Thank goodness without his kids.
I would die to give them lice
and lucky for David, he is bald,
and had a hotel room.
Did you ever read my post
(Yeah, I just made that word up.)
Congrats to me.
Therapy has worked.
I’m o.k.
to tell the whole world
that my daughter has lice.
I have arrived.
I don’t care.
Go ahead,
I dare you.
Call me
A-lice.
It won’t hurt.
Have a wonderful Friday.
And know that this completely imperfect person
will never EVER claim to
be anything more or less than just that.
And, yeah,
sometimes my kids don’t shower every day.
But, that’s not how they got lice,
because they’ve been doing that
for 6 years.
And they didn’t get lice
until Abigail went to middle school.
And I have my suspicions
of how she got it.

My kind of Craft Project and Chore Chart

I am NOT crafty.
That is not a confession,
like the kind you have to hide in a closet,
but a declaration of this is part of who I am.
More power to those of you who are crafty and take joy in it.
I would rather buy your stuff than attempt it myself.
Because I am a shopper.
Shopping is a talent I like to spend my time working at.
I’ts also something that I have learned how to curb.

You see, God made everyone different.
It’s o.k. that I am not crafty.
It’s o.k. that I don’t want to spend my time
trying to be like most of the other moms I know.
It’s o.k. that I would rather spend my time
reading and writing and bargain shopping.
It’s o.k. that I don’t care if my girls hair is perfection.
And that I don’t even like those horrible
crazy HUGE bows on the modern babies’ heads.
It’s o.k. that my house is simple.
That I don’t need a showroom
for my friends.
It’s o.k. It’s o.k. It’s o.k.

I recently came across a friend’s cool craft project.
It involves a T-shirt and a can of spray paint.
It’s my kind of project.
I am going to try it.
But, I will probably never post a picture of it.
Because that’s just not who I am.
I would rather blog about my
thoughts, opinions, ideas, and funny stories.

Go over and check out how to do it at Jennifer’s blog.
She’s most definitely a crafty.
In fact her mom tried to teach me how to sew once.
It was a disaster.
The only way my ugly skirt got done
was because my sister took pity on my
and finished it after she got done with hers.
We were 14 and 16,
and she was and still is a million times craftier.

And to add to that
Here is an example of the simplicity I prefer.
It’s our chore chart.

I will show you how to make your own
if you are craft challenged.
Like me.

This system made it through the whole summer,
and is still in full swing
into the first week of school.
I’m very proud.
Not of its gorgeous display,
or the effective system,
but I am proud of the fact
that I pulled out
the electrical tape,
crayons,
scissors,
paper,
contact paper,
and magnets,
and my kids made it for me.

The kids were crossing their weekly jobs out
with a dry erase marker
as they get them done.
Now, we just know when they’ve got them done.
The sooner the better.

Each of the girls were assigned a row.
Oldest to youngest.
And there is even a spot for Caroline.
Because we are putting her to work
as soon as possible.
Trust me,
the older girls
can’t wait to pawn stuff off on her.

And they each have three columns.
One for everyday jobs.
And a column of weekly jobs.
Because Excel spreadsheets,
I can reinvent.
We rotate the dailies on a weekly basis.
And they get to choose their own weeklies.
First come, first serve.
They love the grab.
And the competition.
We’ve initiated the concept
in family scripture study too.
Scripture chase:
Old Testament.
Go.
Proverbs 3:5-6
They are memorizing the
scripture songs
so they can get faster.
Watch out seminary kids.
The Gold Girls are in the house.

The last column is completely unrelated.
They are not rewarded any longer for chores.
They are expected to comply.
They don’t get allowance.
But, they do get warm fuzzies
for good behavior.
Kind of like
dad gets warm fuzzies from mama
for bringing home the bacon.

The black circles are worth 1 warm fuzzy.
The yellow are worth 2 and a treat at the store.
The red are worth 3 and a rented Redbox.
The blues are the biggest hit.
They are worth 10 and a date with mom, dad, or a friend.
The green are worth 20 or $5.
They haven’t learned to save up yet.
They like instant gratification.
In the form of candy and movies.
Lucky for dad.

The term warm fuzzy was coined
by my first grade teacher.
And you will hear me use it as a threat often.
“Go take two warm fuzzies for hitting your sister.”
But hopefully, more often than threatening,
you will hear me rewarding:
“Everyone gets three warm fuzzies
for being so helpful today.”

It’s on the fridge,
like every other important thing in my life.

And did I mention?
That it’s been working
at my house
for three months!!!

Kids doing chores = one very happy uncrafty mom.

One last sidenote:
At church the other day,
a teacher was explaining to me that
in his training he has learned
that you don’t want to divide and conquer your kids.
For example,
“Look at Bella, she is such a good cleaner.”

I am trying to figure out a way that I can
make this system
more of a Harry Potter style.
Where
everyone
gains
and
loses
together.
I am thinking that may
unify the girls
a little bit more.
Go Griffendor Gold Girls.

Self-Employment

For the past two years,
LeGrand has been running his own law practice.
It is a two years that I would
NEVER want to live over again.
LeGrand has done a great job.
His practice has been successful.
He really did amazing things.
He’s accomplished a lot of his goals.
And he has gotten to know himself
more than ever before.
I bet he has been significantly more successful
than most people who start a practice
right out of school.
But it’s all because of God’s grace.
And it does no good for anyone
to compare themselves to others.
Better than monetary success,
LG has helped a lot of people.
And that makes LeGrand
really happy and proud.
He could keep going,
and we would only get richer.
But, life isn’t about riches all the time.
Sometimes it’s about having some vacation time.
I can’t wait for the day that LG clocks out
and leaves work at work.
I want to be the wife that looks forward to
that summer vacation.
Instead of feeling guilty for asking the man
to take a day off of work.
I couldn’t be happier,
that it’s time for the next adventure.
Because the stress that LG has carried around,
has about killed his wife.
And I am pretty tough.
Thanks be to God
for letting us know
that we can finally move on
from our second two year mission.
Or maybe it’s our third mission.
The first being our literal church missions.
(Where we met by the way)
The second being having all of our children
while finishing college.
And the third being the law practice.
I wonder what the 4th will be?
Here’s to NOT minding your own business.
And going back to working for the man.
I know that LeGrand will find the perfect job.
People would be stupid not to hire him.
He’s a genius.
What does this have to do with church anyway?

40 years

I promised Faye that I would post this last Fall, but I only started.
Duane celebrated his 40th year working for Eastman.
They threw him a little reception.
It was lovely. And the girls loved missing school.
They made us all feel like heroes for supporting the company for so long.
Really they have been the ones supporting us.
Our two liters of pop can only do the company so much good, especially considering that we don’t use their cigarette filters and the Kodak 35 mm film went out of style a long time ago.
Thank you to Eastman and thanks to Duane for supporting us in living our dream.
Even if ours is starting out a little too late to last 40 years.
(I don’t know maybe LG could work until he’s 73!!!!)
As the inevitable layoffs are lurking, we will hope for the best.
40 years…..Man, I don’t even think I will make it to any 40 year anniversary.
Being only 35, I can’t even imagine the length of 40 years.
40 years of engineering is something to be proud of.
And we are proud of Duane, but mostly because he is a wonderful man.
Not to mention the best dad and granddad.
Here’s to 40 more….well, maybe not 40.

Dad’s Money

A few weeks back Bella accompanied me to the bank. It was a wondrous experience for her as she had never been to Daddy’s work bank before.
We stood in the line for the teller.
Bella asked me about my little deposit bag. I explained to her that this was daddy’s bank for work
and that I had to give the bank the money that dad had earned.
She asked me how much money daddy had in the bank. I told her that it wasn’t very much, but that this deposit would give him more money.
She exclaimed to me and the three people behind us in line:
“Maybe we should go to daddy’s work and get his money.
Daddy has a lot of money at work.”
I was perplexed.
I then rememebered that we have been trying to teach Bella about coins. Daddy had given her free reign in his change drawer a few days before. She loved counting all those pennies. I guess I had better go and rescue the change from the office, now that you all know where mu hugely successful lawyer keeps his big bucks.