Friday, February 22, 2013

16 Months of Words

We are very blessed to have a social and verbal toddler. Joanna's physical and mental development are ahead of schedule. Her verbal skills are amazing and hilarious. She makes us laugh everyday with all of the things she picks up. On a related note, we've cleaned up our language quite a bit.


Signing "more" to Grandma
Words (we can understand)
  • Hi (hai) - with a wave
  • Mom (mama)
  • Dad (dada)
  • Waffle (wwwaah!)
  • No (no) - can be accompanied with a nod or a shake of the head. 
  • No More (no mo) - with an "All Done" sign
  • Shoe (shoos)
  • Cat (cah)
  • Dog (guh)
  • Duck (duh)
  • Pretty (pih-ee)
  • Dumbledor (dubba-doh)
  • Book (booook)
  • Door (doo-ah
  • Toes (towss
  • Shh (shh) - with finger over mouth

Signing "help" to Mom to take off the mustache
(This isn't the actual ASL sign, but it's Joanna's version.)
Signs (usually in this order)
  • More
  • Please
  • Food
  • Thank You
  • All Done
  • Help

In addition to using words and signs, Joanna's eyes speak volumes. We can understand what she wants, needs, and what she's trying to get away with. We are so thankful we taught her sign language at an early age! It minimizes her frustrations and helps us better understand if she's hungry, hurt, or tired. I think it helped her with her verbal skills as well.

After working with children on the autism spectrum, I know how blessed we are to have a child that is able to communicate so clearly. After knowing families that lose their child(ren) to SIDS or other child-related illnesses, I know how blessed we are to have a healthy little girl. After knowing many women that have trouble conceiving and women that have difficulties keeping their pregnancies, I know how blessed we are to have a child.

There's no other word for it; we're just blessed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hunting Season

Job. Not as depressing as the Book of Job in the Bible, but it can seem hopeless none the less.

I have been searching for a job for a year. When Joanna joined our family in October of 2011, I chose to stay home with her for several reasons; the biggest was so I could care for her in her first months. In January of 2012, I began searching for a position so we could move back to Northern Virginia. One year of applying has yielded 5 decent interviews and 1 offer I wasn't able to accept. This is what a year of searching looks like:

50 applications on numerous websites and a Facebook status update. 
My friend contacted me via Facebook and let me know about an opening:

Job: Registrar of a Private Christian School
Details: Great job, low pay, no benefits. Hours from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Interview: My interview lasted 2 hours. I had the experience and the personality they were looking for, I clicked with them immediately, and we had a great time in the interview.
Outcome: I was offered a job on the spot. I was given time to converse with my husband and pray about it. Because it didn't offer health benefits, I wasn't able to take it.

Then I got a positive pregnancy test, so I held off on the applications. 
After we lost the baby, I began my job search again.
This time I placed about 20 applications directly on several University HR
websites and corporations. This was the only interview I received:

Job: Building Manager at a Public University
Details: Okay job, decent pay, and benefits. Hours varied from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Interview: The interview lasted 4 hours and was comprised of 3 separate panels with 5-10 people per panel. The first panel was a group of HR representatives, the second were the people I would work with, and the third panel were my potential supervisors.
Outcome: 2 months passed and I finally received a phone call: I did not get the job.

Jonathan was able to find a job in D.C. so we moved back into the
Northern VA area. I then submitted 50 more applications and scour
websites like Craigslist, Monster, and Indeed for openings.

Job: Assistant Director of a Childcare Facility (Found on Craigslist)
Details: Good job, good pay, good benefits. Hours varied from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Interview: The first round was a phone interview - I aced it. The second round was an in-person interview with the site director. We connected and it went really well. The third round included the site director and regional director. We laughed, we cried, we had a fantastic interview experience. They made comments like, "You're exactly what we're looking for," and even joked, "Can you start tomorrow?" They said I would know within a week.
Outcome: One week passed with no word. I emailed a polite follow-up asking if they needed any additional information. 4 days later, I emailed the corporate office with a similar email. Two weeks later, they said they decided to pursue another candidate.

Job: Insurance Call Center Customer Service Representative (Found on Indeed)
Details: Okay job, decent pay, great benefits. Hours are 3:45 p.m. to 12:00 a.m and every other Saturday.
Interview: First round went wonderfully and I progressed to an in-person interview and computer assessment.
Outcome: I decided to not pursue the computer assessment because I was unable to find a childcare option that would allow us to keep Joanna there until Jonathan got home from work. There would be a one hour overlap each day where we would have to hire a babysitter.

Job: SAT Prep Instructor (Found on Craigslist)
Details:  Part-time job with great pay, flexible hours, no benefits. Evening hours.
Interview: First round interview required me to complete a practice SAT and record a 3-5 minute video of me teaching anything I wanted. I was selected to continue to the next round which was a 4 hour web conference interview/training with 6 other candidates from around the U.S. We had a 70 page curriculum to study and youtube videos to watch prior to the interview/instruction/training/whatever. I was the only candidate to dress like it was an interview while the others treated it more like a training. I was also the oldest candidate and the only one with a Master's degree.
Outcome: Several hours after the interview, I received an email saying they decided to pursue other candidates.


So here I am with a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree, 5 years of experience, 2 years as a supervisor and hiring manager, and a 16 month gap in my employment history. I live in my parent's house with my young child and patient husband. I clip coupons, sell things on eBay, and make the best of each day until we're able to get a place of our own. 

But you know what's awesome? The interviewer from the SAT Prep job wrote me a detailed email about what I can work on. I was shocked that she took the time to give me constructive criticism and encouragement on my journey to employment. She said my presentation skills and professionalism were great and I was very personable. The reason I wasn't selected was that I struggled to interact with students using the digital platform she showed us prior to our "pop presentations". She gave me ways to improve and books I could read. And she concluded the email with the best part:


"I learned in food service that the one thing you can't teach someone is how to care.  And it is deeply, immediately evident to ANYone that you care by the bucketful, Laura - which is why I have no doubt whatsoever that you will *demolish* any obstacle to your success, and shine radiantly in any organization lucky enough to have you."



So take that, Unemployment Monster! I'm going to DEMOLISH you!!


- - - - - -
UPDATE

I interviewed for a position in the HR Department of Target and was offered a job on the spot - but it only paid $9.00 an hour and insurance wouldn't start until 1,000 hours. I kindly declined the offer and explained our situation to them. They said they'd keep me in mind if something else came up that offered insurance right away. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nail Polish

All women want to feel beautiful. Some women want to feel smart, some women want to feel sexy, but all women want to feel beautiful.

With tight finances and limited time, my concept of beauty became less about appearance and more about confidence and contentment. Minimal makeup, low maintenance hair, and a wardrobe from Goodwill.

But then there's nail polish. I'm a little obsessed. When Joanna goes to sleep at night, I get my black shoebox full of polish and start digging. I either add french tips to existing polish, clean up a chipped nail, do a design on my statement nail, or start fresh with a new color. It's inexpensive, easy to store, and a great creative outlet.

My stash in December 2012
It's grown by about 10 bottles since this point.

i heart you



For my birthday / Valentine's Day gift, Jonathan bought me nail art brushes! My days of simple french tips are over - now I can do sweet things like swirls, flowers, and complicated designs! Be sure to follow me on instagram at @housebrokenmom for photos. 


I may need a better camera phone for my next birthday..