Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's been a year of changes, with more on the way!

Since August of last year:

We got a new car and had it for six months. In February, we got into a car accident that totaled the car but fortunately, there were no severe injuries other than my suffering a cracked rib. It took a couple of months but we were able to get another car, this time a van. The girls still miss the car though.

In October, we took a trip up to Fond du Lac, WI to see my mom. It was the first time I had seen her in 9 years and Natalie got to meet her for the first time as well. I didn't take Isabelle since I wasn't sure how she would react to the surroundings. It wasn't too bad but it was kind of hard to see how different my mom was in some ways. Yet, she didn't really look that different at all.

Also in October, we were finally able to leave our roach infested apartment and move to a very nice neighborhood into a duplex. While we lost a bedroom (went from 3 to 2), we gained a laundry room and I feel the trade was a sufficient one as I no longer have to wash clothes once or twice a month. We did have to leave a number of things behind in order to avoid bringing any bugs with us but we've been able to replace most of it since then.

John quit his job at the local call center just a week before our car accident. He had finally heard back from a job he had been waiting a number of months for and decided just work at that one job instead of working at both of them. It never did come through as he planned, only giving him 35 hours a week when he was working 40 hours plus overtime at his other job. He lost that job (as a debt collector) in June and was unemployed for a month. Now he's working a night audit job at a local hotel (one of the best hotels in town where he actually has to dress up in a suit).

I've now completed a full year and a half of dialectical behavior therapy and I'm looking at graduating to stage 2. This program has been extremely helpful for me in terms of giving me the skills I need to keep my emotions regulated.

During John's month of unemployment, I looked into returning to the workforce. However, I quickly realized that being out of the workforce for nine years really put me at a disadvantage and decided instead to return to school. I start Monday as a student seeking an Associate's Degree in IT (Information Technology): Network Systems Administration at the local technical college. I'm very excited to be going back to school and while it's going to be a challenge, I really think it's going to help me a lot in terms of self-esteem and self-reliance.

John also returned to school. Back in April he started working on his Master's in Education degree. He is going through an online university so it's been a very interesting challenge for him as he learns the ins and outs of technology he had had no experience with the last time he attended college.

Both girls are doing well. Isabelle just turned four last month and is a bundle of energy. She has also inherited her father's build which makes finding clothes for her rather interesting. She can still wear 18 month shorts. Pants that size would be a little short on her but regular 3T pants tend to fall off her bottom. Natalie seems to have the opposite problem. She needs a larger size (especially in jeans) due to her waist but can't quite pull it off because of her height. She's not short but it just doesn't quite add up. Knit pants tend to fit her better (now I think I know why my mom rarely bothered buying me jeans when I was her age).

We joined the YMCA earlier this year and the girls have both had a chance to take some lessons. Natalie and Isabelle both took swim lessons and Isabelle also took some gymnastics lessons while she was waiting to get back into swimming. Both of them had a lot of fun and did very well. We're taking a small break right now until I can get our schedules all figured out but I hope to get them back into lessons before too long.

Natalie attended summer Bible camp for the third year in a row through her local church. As always, she had a blast and can't wait to go next year. It was a little bit of a challenge since it was during the month John was out of work but we were able to get a scholarship for the camp and made do with the things we already had.

I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting to mention, but those were the big things in the last year as far as I recall. This next year will be quite interesting as I work my way through college and juggle family and all the other things that are bound to come up. I look forward to the challenges though as I know that they will make things easier for all of us down the line. At the very least, we won't have to keep relying on just one family member for employment.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Looks like I will be returning to school this fall.

At least, this is my plan. I'm still waiting for my high school transcripts to get over to the college and to hear the final word on whether I've been accepted into the program I've applied to. Once I hear back from that, financial aid should all fall into place as well. I have applied for the IT: Network Systems Administration program at the local technical college. It's a two year degree but after that, I should be able to find a job that will pay at least a decent wage (close to living wage if not above living wage at any rate). Looking for work wasn't really going anywhere and I suspect that 9 years out of the workforce with no recent job training is a good part of the reason for that. Rather than seeking out a full-time job at just slightly over minimum wage, I figured it would be better to take the time now to go back to school and get that degree. I can still look for part time work to contribute to our income but ultimately, going back to school is going to be the best bet at this time.

I've done my research. I was originally looking into the Administrative Professional program but after some consideration and research, decided that Information Technology was a better plan. The potential job growth is higher, the wage is higher, and I will be learning skills that can be used in a variety of places (even self-employment if I'm so inclined). I feel good about the decision I've made and I'm looking forward to the classes I plan to take. It will be a mentally challenging field for me to go into but not so challenging that I will feel overwhelmed and want to give up.

It will mean some changes. John has found a job working at a hotel overnights. He, obviously, will be home more with the girls during the day while I'm in classes (though most of them will be in the later afternoons and evenings). This may mean changes with homeschooling among other responsibilities but I think these will be changes for the good. I spent 9 years putting my full focus on our family and while that will be changing a little, I really do feel that it will help with my self-esteem and ultimately, improve our family situation.

I have struggled with the idea of going back to school for a long time. I was about the same age as my oldest (actually a year younger) when my mom decided to go back to school. It was hard for me because she ended up having to commute 50 miles and therefore wasn't there when I came home from school. Even after we moved, she still wasn't around as much and wasn't at many of the school events I had. She took longer to finish her degree though and was still in college when I started in 1999. I'm planning to get my associate's degree and go directly into the workforce. I have come to realize too that my situation now is much different that the situation I grew up in. It's not the same at all and both girls have had a lot of time with us and will continue to get time with us, it just won't be all the time.

It will be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to the needed changes and to feeling like I'm accomplishing something in my life.