31 March 2016

Candidate or Cattle?

One of the super fun parts about a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is leaving an amazing job and income behind to start over. Yes. That is sarcasm.

I don't have a vast amount of experience with civilian hiring practices. I've been in the Army for 13 years (20030403), and I've worked for the federal government. The hiring process for the federal govt. is pretty strict. Your resume has to be filtered through many many levels of sediment before it ever reaches a hiring managers desk. The process can take weeks and sometimes months. The civilian side? You never know where your next opportunity might come from, so let's talk about my most recent adventures.

I recently applied for a position with a firm looking for leadership in their training department. I recieved a call for an interview, scheduled and confirmed. Now to prep. Resume? Check. Outfit? Check.  Research Firm/Principals? Check.

Show up for the interview, to find seven other people sitting the lobby.. three more out front smoking. 

No one wants to admit that we are all cogs in a giant machine of life. However, it is the truth. For every skill, trait or quality you think you posses there are ten other candidates out there who wrote the same thing on their resume. I'm sure this is why most interviews start out with "Tell us a little about yourself"... meanwhile you're thinking {did you read the little bit about myself I wrote in my Resume/Cover Letter}... no, they didn't. Someone down in HR somewhere read it and saw the magic words that the program manager asked for and called you. Taahhh Daaahhh - Interview. You and everyone else with the same magic words are now sitting in the lobby of a building in your best "I'm serious, but not too serious, but you should take me seriously in a I'm totally fun to work with but can get serious if needed" outfit; waiting for your name to be called by the receptionist who's being entirely too formal with her boss which just adds a layer of comedic orthodoxy to the whole process . I know all of this because I was the secretary who was calling my boss Mr. Boss when usually I yelled from across the office "Hey, Bob you wanna bagel?" (I'm pretty sure there are some obscene run on sentences in the paragraph above - it'll be ok grammar freaks - it is just a blog)

So, how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you go from "ahhh I got and interview" to "oh, so did 25 other people"; basically from Moooooo to MEEEEE!!!!

Wait for it. This is big. BE YOURSELF. TELL THE TRUTH. Yes, this is all coming from someone who two paragraphs above said "I'm not familiar with civilian hiring practices"... keep reading. Drink your coffee and keep reading.

Today's job market is flooded with qualified applicants. Many have a college degree, some have decades of military or professional experience, some have both; but credentials, skills and qualifications are not the ONLY things to be considered when sitting on the candidate side of the table.

Have you interviewed yourself yet?

What are your priorities in life?
What are you hoping to get out of this opportunity?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Are you competitive?
Do you need public recognition for a job well done? 
What is your greatest weakness?

When you are in that conference room - try to remember your answers to the above. Do not deviate from who you are hoping they'll pick you. The fact is they will see through the canned answer, and keep looking. Live your life and invest in your happiness. Employers are looking for the right person, and you should be looking for the RIGHT business for YOU!

If your family is a priority - be honest about that. You do NOT want to work for someone who loves their job more than their kids. There is no monetary amount that can make up for a work place that is supportive of your priorities and affords you balance.

If you thrive on competition - share your excitement for a performance based system or pay scale. If you find yourself in a time based pay schedule you'll be frustrated that you work at 110% and Joe works at 45% and yet you promote at the same rate.

If you are shuffling through life just hoping someone will push you along in the right direction? You're part of the herd.

If you are honest with yourself.
If you are firm in your priorities.
If you are clear on your character.

You will be a candidate.

Gotta get moo-ving for my second interview!

XO XO & Stuff,


(see what I did there? moo-ving? ha ha ha ha)

29 March 2016

Super (Lazy) Mom's Guide to School Day Pancakes

Yes. I am fully aware that I can buy frozen pancakes. I am also fully aware that "complete" pancake mix is NOT from scratch. I am also fully aware that some of the people reading this are too full of themselves to have fun...

if you're gonna pin something pin this one... please.

Here we go. According to my blue eyed devil child (yes I call him that to his face) I am a super mom.
I present exhibit A:
  • I am a super mom.
  • I cook enough for my son to feel a cup with an apron on it is applicable to me.
  • This cooking has NOT lead to his (nor his siblings) early demise. There for it can be concluded that I am not an utter failure in the kitchen.

Here we go. Super (Lazy) Mom's School Day Pancakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 325* F ('MERICA!!!!) .
  2. Get out big bowl and spoon.
  3. Get out two 9x13 cake pans and spray w/ non stick.
  4. Open box of "complete" aka "just add water" pancake mix. 
  5. Pour decent (as in half the box) amount of mix into large bowl.
  6. Add water until you get to the consistency you USUALLY prefer when YOU make pancakes.
  7. Divide batter between two cake pans (you remembered to spray that non stick stuff right?)
  8. Put some sprinkles and crap on the top (that is where the Super comes in, if you don't do this than these are just lazy mom pancakes. Stop being just regular lazy and be super lazy).
  9. Place in oven; bake until golden brown around edges (approx 15 min, I didn't really pay attention because I was being lazy and making dubsmash videos.)
  10. Remove from oven when done.
  11. Cool(ish)
  12. Use pizza cutter to slice because we are super lazy and a knife would require more effort. Duh.
  13. Divide into baggies.
  14. Put baggies in freezer. 
  15. Pull out baggy when brat wants pancakes at 0600 on a Monday. 
  16. Warm up in Microwave.
  17. Slap on Butter and Syrup.
  18. Hand to kid.
  19. Tell Kid to SHUT UP AND EAT.
  20. Enjoy having time to do other flipping stuff instead of flipping pancakes.. like drink coffee. Better yet, Irish Coffee. 

You're welcome.

XO XO & Stuff,


28 March 2016

What's It Worth?

We had a great weekend. No, honestly. We did. I had an encouraging week, no I haven't had a job offer yet. No, I haven't made any friends yet. I did however spend time with family, celebrate Jesus' resurrection and do some creative work which resulted in some jingle in my pocket...

but most of all.... I learned something greater than any dollar amount.

(keep reading, I'll get to the point eventually, 
and you need something to do while you drink your coffee)

Let's start with the creative aspect of the week/end. I LOVE to work with text art. Those little signs you see at Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, Walmart - I can make them. Show me a picture and I will paint, chalk, draw whatever it is you liked only it will be done by hand, by me, for you. It is something that brings me joy and personal satisfaction. I've been making signs, shirts and other "word art" for over 20 years. It is a hobby. Not a job. It isn't a job because I seriously SUCK at running a business. We'll get to that later. 


When we were in the process of selling our home (insert tears here) I sat down at the large chalkboard in the hall to do some chalk art for a weekend full of showings. I was trying to give our home that little edge that people would remember. So, after thinking about it for a couple hours I came up with a phrase, looked around on Pinterest for some building blocks/font inspiration, and away I went. A few hours later I had something I loved, and decided if someone bought the house that weekend I'd leave it for them to enjoy...

It is simple really: a house is built with sticks & stones, but love and laughter make a home.

Cute, to the point, and reminds the "buyer" that it isn't just the four walls you should consider. Is THIS the place you want your memories made, well it worked. We were under contract two days later. 100% because of the sign. Yeah. No. Not really. Let's not get into the mixed emotions.

Back to "word art" I call it that because it doesn't matter the material, paint, digital, chalk or ink, it is ALL word art. Capturing a bigger meaning with a phrase and carefully selected imagery. So after I posted this picture I had many requests for "how can I buy that" or "where did YOU buy that" and "can you make me one I'll pay you"... For the most part I have never charged for this type of work. I usually tell the "client" you buy the chalk board and bring me the chalk pens and I'll do the rest for free. Well, I've learned that I am a moron.

I've been praying. A great deal. I've asked over twenty-five women of faith who know and understand me to also bring my life to God in prayer. Well I'm not sure if it was Him talking this weekend, or if I'm just hearing what I want to hear, but within three days I've had seven orders for word-art. Here's the problem. I DON'T DO THIS FOR MONEY! Then I have not one, but TWO people tell me I'm crazy. Tell me I should be earning income via my blog and creative endeavors. I sold two pieces of word art over the weekend, and got an education on pricing (average is 25 cents/ square inch on Etsy).

So, over and over and over I'm being told that I should take what comes naturally to me, and turn it into a business.

I said I would consider it. I told people, if someone needs something... from invitations to chalk art... just let me know. You can help me figure out a price and do the "sales" I just want to make the art. Really. Honestly. I HATE the business of business. I feel BAD charging money for something that doesn't feel like "work" to me. My mom say's I need to get over that. Maybe I should listen to my mother. DON'T tell her I said that.

So with all of this talk about money. All of the encouragement to put a price on it. The hopeful consideration on my part, that "maybe they're right"... Something amazing happened.

As we were packing up to leave mom's and head back home after Easter Dinner. My mom picks up the luggage tag on Kadee's American Girl Doll carrier and calls me over. I said "oh yeah, she wrote her name on it on the way here" (she'd asked me for a pen while we were driving over in the morning). My mom says "I think you need to take another look."

I guess I really should listen to my mother... 

Just remember y'all - our little ones are watching. Through the struggle, the confusion, the wonder of it all - the are looking to us for what it all means. I think God was listening when I asked him "what should I be focusing on".

So at the end of the day... what's it worth? My baby girl. My little miss. Has taken a small message of hope and attached it to something she loves. I'm not sure anyone can put a price on that.

XO XO and Stuff,


24 March 2016

What Works for Me... Isn't Working

We hear it all the time "just do whatever works for you"... well... what workED for me was getting up, going to work, hitting the gym for 90 minutes while the boys were at home doing their homework/chores. K-baby and I would get back, I'd knock out dinner and if was time for showers and bed.

What works for me isn't working. 
1. No Job 
2. No Gym
3. No Friends
4. No Routine

If I'm being real with myself the last item on that list is the actual problem.  I thrive in a world of regulation and routine. I need order and boundaries. Being in a new place with the kids on spring break doesn't provide my "normal" my "happy place".

How does it go? "In the absence of order there is chaos" or something like that or whatever. Well,  I hate chaos. Right now I'm drowning in it. So I guess the truth of the matter isn't that what works for me isn't working, its that I'm not making it work. <---- whoa! See what I did there. Almost like taking responsibility for my own well being. Crazy. I know. Let me keep going who knows I might save myself some therapy co-pays when this is all over.

1. No Job
I could sit here and lament about how the Navy has completely destroyed my life by ripping us out of our home and moving us to Florida; on the flip side we're a Navy family there is no such thing as a "home" until you're Sailor is OUT of the Navy (yes I'm aware that some people are able to homestead however some are not most and most are not all so nah nah boo boo). Sorry, back to the job. I am currently unemployed. I am applying and interviewing. I've started to sell some of my creative work for income. At this point I really have done everything I can do. Time to let it go, and enjoy the "time off" even if I don't like the lack of control.

2. No Gym
BS. No really that is totally BS. Well kind of. No, it really is BS. Yes, we just moved here. Yes 2 out of 3 kids got hit with a stomach/head flu which crushed about 5 days of availability. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I passed a gallbladder baby on Monday. Yeah. It has been a rough couple of weeks, BUT there are two gyms within 10 miles of my house, I now live in Florida (aka walking/running are a no brainer), and no-one is stopping me from working out. Husband is on shore duty, and I just need to get moving. Anytime Fitness, here I come.

3. No Friends
Wrong. So so so very wrong. We no longer live in a world where you are bound by geography for relationships. My best friend walks through the door every day with a smile and a 'hey babe", my dear friend Jamie and I have made the most of FaceTime ((even maintaining our evening wine chats when appropriate - you should check her out she's a Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide - seriously so good)), sorry I got distracted by wine. I was feeling pretty lonely so I reached out to friends via FB message to request prayer. I receved so much more. Not only do I have friends I have VERY GOOD friends who remind me to be faithful. To trust that God has a plan for us, and that we as a family are strong, loving, and will grow even closer through this.  Understanding, camaraderie, and encouragement. I may not have made local connections yet, but it is simply time and opportunity. Relationships will come. For now I will focus on my family, my marriage and maintaining my long distance friendships so they can me LIFE LONG friendships.

4. No Routine
Here's the confession. I'm a pouter. When he deploys I pout. When we move I pout. Hell, I pout when the kids have a birthday 'cause they are growing up too fast (technically one year at a time and time is a measurable constant, so it isn't "too fast" I just don't like it).... anyway. I pout, usually in ranges from 5 minutes up to 3 days. Well, my pouting has resulted in a lack of action, planning and follow through, leading to a lack of routine, enhanced frustration and spiraling mood. Who's fault is that? The Navy? My Sailor? Nope... Mine. I knew this was coming. I knew where we were moving. I can GOOGLE with the best of them. I chose to wallow in self pity instead of executing a plan of action to integrate into our new community. Time to put a stop to that, and establish my routine. I need it.


So, there you have it. What's Working for Me - Isn't Working... because I am not doing any work. Today I will lay the foundation for a better tomorrow, and tomorrow will be a new day filled with promise and determination. For now? Time to hit the kids with more antibiotics, so they don't end up singing a death rattle.

XO XO & Stuff,


20 March 2016

Finding Forever - So this is happening

I enlisted in 2003 and my husband already had four years of service under his belt. June 2016 will be 17 years of enlisted service to this great nation, and we will have been married for 11 of those 17 years. Our family will have moved eight times with our oldest son attending 4 different school in just 5 years of formal education.

Not all that wander are lost... With a combined 30 years of service, this wanderer is weary, but there is hope. There is always hope. Almost a year ago Big Sexy made it clear he wanted to plan for retirement at 20 in 2019 (that's 20 years of service for those not trackin'). He was overseas... again... and we were nearing the end of nearly a decade of Sea Duty (which equates to rarely home, as in 20-27 days out of the month they are gone not including deployments). Bottom line, he was tired, I was lonely and WE were done living our life via FaceTime, email and messenger.

We'd bought a beautiful home in NC. Our kids were doing well, I was looking for full time work now that our youngest was in school... we were actually in a pretty good place. The major issue we were having was poor morale at his assigned unit, and a lack of job opportunities for me. Big Sexy began to look for open billets near our home for his final tour and I up'd my efforts to reenter the work force. He found a great opportunity just 20 minutes up the road, and I was hired by an OUTSTANDING unit for the PERFECT job.

Then Murphy showed up in the form of a lovely detailer who had other ideas.

**For those unfamiliar a detailer is an individual who manages the duty assignments for a specific military job field. They have a great deal of influence and control over where a Sailor ends up**

I'll spare you the details of that wonderful experience, but let's just say karma's a bitch and she remembers everything.

So, instead of staying put, enjoying our home and sailing off into a well established sunset. We found ourselves heading to Florida for one final Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move. I'd finally found a wonderful job with great pay and people... and now I sit here unemployed in a rental house, back on the hunt for a job, 3 kids in a new school and a whole lot of ?'s on the horizon.

HERE is the HOPE I was talking about. HOPE is based on looking for the good. Searching for what can be. Taking advantage of the opportunities before us - instead of mourning what was left behind.
  • I have my family, and other than a current stomach bug for two of the littles we are generally healthy
  • This PCS has moved us 10 hours CLOSER to both sets of Grandparents
  • I am registered for the Military Spouse PPP list (I'll write more about that later)
  • Cost of living is lower here
  • We've found a community we'd like to build in
  • We have THREE YEARS to get our foundation set, so BIG SEXY can walk away from the Navy with confidence
  • I have FAITH that GOD has a plan for us (Psalm 147:11)
 So... when you see "Finding Forever" in the title know that I'm going to be sharing about our steps toward retirement. I'm not going to preach to you, or give you some magical answer book; but I'll share what we are doing and how those actions pan out.

Have a great day y'all. Remember failure to plan is a plan to fail.

XO XO & Stuff,


18 March 2016

Holy Hiatis Batman

If there is one that is constant in the military spouse life... well anyone's life... its Murphy. That little jerk struck again by crushing not one but two computers, and slapping us with a PCS. The result? No blogging. Should have planned ahead right? Yes, you're right. Feel good? Awesome.

Anyway, have a ton to say, too many subjects to comment on for one post, but the bottom line is I'll be back to sharing my sarcastic realism with the general public on a regular basis.  Never actually stopped doing that, but I can only yell so loud. 

Just a couple of admin notes now that I'm back with bombs of knowledge worthy of  decimating entire trains of thought.
  • These opinions are my own and apply only to the subject matter specified within the text. So, if I am writing about humans born of the female gender voting based on the genitalia between their legs, I am NOT in fact implying that transgender doesn't exist. I am saying you should vote with your brain not your sex organs. See how that works. Write about A. People read Q, still only wrote about A.
  • If you disagree with me, agree with me, hate what I said, love what I said, don't like my hair or whatever - leave a comment, but make sure you include an identifiable title. Basically, if you want to talk crap or engage in the exchange of differing ideas/opinions leave your name; if you do so under the title "anonymous" I'll delete your comments. Cause I'm a jerk. Yep. If you don't have the guts to put your name to what you say - just keep your mouth shut... well fingers still, but you get the idea. 
  • Last but not least. I don't get paid. I write my thoughts, my way, on my own time... so grammar police beware. I don't care what errors you find. When you start paying my bills I'll pretend to care what you think (well, no I won't but whatever).
Ok y'all. I'm baaaaaaaaack.

XO XO & Stuff,