Saturday, January 19, 2008

Addendum to Christmas letter, for my college friends

Finally getting my “Christmas” cards done. Ha. I don’t think I’ve sent Christmas cards before Christmas for years. At least I usually get them done before Valentine’s Day.

I had a good start…then the craziness broke out at work. I don’t know how much I’ve explained about how this works, so I’ll start at the beginning, and you can skip ahead if I’ve already shared.

I work for Hallmark (Marketing). I supervise nine (soon to be ten) Wal-Mart stores that have Hallmark card departments in them. The employees that work in the card departments are hired (and fired) and supervised by me. Typically, a Retail Merchandiser in a WM works 10-15 hours a week, two to three days. We staff the stores anywhere from three to seven days a week, so there may be one or two or three merchandisers per store. My territory ranges from Benton Harbor to Sturgis (MI) to Kendallville and Warsaw (IN) in the south. Obviously, I don’t look over their shoulders every day, so it is a very independent job. Theoretically, mine is supposed to be a part time job also. However, if you have personnel issues, such as: someone decides to quit showing up for work and not tell you, someone shows up but fails to do the work, someone decides to leave for two weeks over Christmas, and inform you on their way out of town….all means that I have to cover the open spots in the stores. So, starting about two weeks before Christmas, I was driving myself MAD trying to be everywhere that wasn’t covered, at one of the single busiest times of the year. In short, I made myself sick. While I was trying to do resets in all of these stores (the day where we take down the previous holiday and set the new one), I was throwing up every few minutes wherever it was handy. And I got sicker. Finally got to the point where I was flat on my back for four days straight. (Fun job, eh??)

Well, I did get somewhat better, but the constant nausea has persisted. Such that I lost almost 20 pounds in the last month. (When one feels sick, one tends not to eat at all.) So the last two weeks, I’ve been making the rounds of drs. and hospitals and tests. Yesterday I had an upper GI endoscopy. So far, nothing remarkable. (I keep telling my husband, they are not going to find anything. When they have exhausted every other possibility, they will look at me and say – “Lady, this is all in your head, get over it.”) I have stopped, for the most part, losing weight so rapidly, but it’s still not right.

Job wise, I have finally hired five new people, and am in the process of training them, and getting ready to gear up for Valentine’s Day, which is the SECOND largest, and busiest Hallmark holiday. Once that’s over, perhaps we can all breathe again, and hopefully, I’ll go back to supervising my stores, instead of working them.

I really do like my job (despite what it sounds like). I worked in Human Resources for a variety of companies after college…almost fifteen years. When I got pregnant with the twins, it just didn’t make sense to go back to work, and Nathan was ready for kindergarten, so we just decided that I would stay home. I did, until about two years ago, and my husband politely suggested that I start contributing to the family income again. I started working for Hallmark as a merchandiser at the super WM here in Goshen, and became the supervisor about six months later. I will NEVER go back to Human Resources. Sick of the politics. I suppose once all the kids are in school, I’ll have to get a full time job, so that we can start paying for their college. Maybe there will be a fun job open at Goshen College then, and then my kids can go there for cheap. (because it’s cheap, you understand, not because I went there).

So that’s it, in a nuthshell. My husband works for a company called Trinity Health, which is a Catholic health organization, owns hospitals and stuff all over the country. They are primarily based out of the Detroit area, but have a satellite office in South Bend. His title is Senior Systems Analyst, and I really don’t have a clue what all he does. He generally likes it, and because of the nature of his job, he can work at home two days (or more) a week, so that I can also work. The twins stay with a sitter one day a week, but that is getting awfully expensive too.

Nathan is now in third grade, and loves math, hates Language Arts. He’s at an age where he’s trying to figure out what he likes, so we seem to join a lot of activities, but follow through on very few of them. Mostly, he keeps his face pasted to that Nintendo DS game system. I’m still trying to decide if it was a good idea or not to get him. (Quiet, or NOT.)

Alex is five, and attending preschool three afternoons a week at Eighth Street church. He technically could have gone to kindergarden this year, but we held him out…he just wasn’t ready. Schedule wise it has been a pain, but so worth it. He really has blossomed in the last few months, and will be much more ready for school next fall. His obsession is legos and Star Wars. It’s their dad’s fault. He bought them a Lego Star Wars game for the computer a couple of years ago….and from there they started watching ALL the movies. Both older boys can recite dialogue from it, name all the characters and what color their light sabers are, and who is on the dark side, and who isn’t…so on and so on. So much for that peace loving Mennonite thing.

The twins, are three and driving us all insane. My mom says Leah is just like me. I don’t know if that is true or not, but if it is, I’m surprised I lived to know you all. She is aggressive, impudent, obnoxious, sassy and rude…and she has this little smile and cock of her head that she uses when she knows she’s in trouble. The other day she cut her hair…I wrote about it on my blog, you can read the story there, if you’re interested. Colin is more laid back, but just recently has started exhibiting a lot of his sister’s obnoxious tendencies. Some days I’m so grateful for bed time that I almost feel guilty.

Colin’s obsession is music. He has been conducting/leading music like a chorister for as long as he could stand up. He especially likes to go to church and watch the song leader and sing from the hymnal. He’ll turn any old book into a songbook, but real song books with music in them are better. He will play the piano, sing into a microphone, and generally perform for anyone. (and he is often asked to do so.) He also, occasionally will get out a book, lay it on one of the end tables and grasp the sides and preach to the wall. When he is done, he slams the book shut, raises his hands and says, “AMEN”. I’ll have to get a video of it someday, it is so hilarious.

I don’t really know what Leah is into, other than driving me crazy. Her sassing just makes me wild. Leah, please put your shoes on, “NO”. Leah, please bring me your dishes, “NO”. Leah…. “NO”. You get the idea. Sometimes, she plays with a baby doll, but more often is taking off with whatever toy someone else has, just to make them mad. She is the only one of my children who ever developed a thing for a stuffed animal, so there is this (formerly) white bunny with no name that is barely hanging on. It used to have one of those satiny butt tags, but she has worn it to shreds playing with it in bed.

I’m not proud to say that both of them still use binkies (at night)…we have whittled it down to that, and neither of them is potty trained. I tried to start that this week, but I truly feel that fate is out to get me. Day one, the washer broke down. Day two, my dh put pull-ups on them. Day three, they just absolutely, out and out refuse to have anything do with it at all. I don’t really know where to go from there, so if you have any amazing potty training advice, I’m all ears.

We spend a fair amount of time and energy at church. Gary is church treasurer, and sits on Ministry Leadership Council (the governing body). I have been teaching second grade Sunday school, but stepped back for this quarter to take a little break. I did my fair share on Ministry Leadership Council several years ago…and got tired of those politics, too. Now I’m supposed to be planning the church’s 50th anniversary celebration, if I’d ever get around to it.

Don’t know what else to say, I think that’s the gist of the current situation. I hope you chuckled a time or two, and didn’t gasp in horror too often. Someone told me the other day that they were impressed that I never seemed to “resent” my kids – the twins especially – for ruining my idea of what our family should be (like three kids, not four). This was kind of an odd revelation to me. I certainly don’t resent my kids. From the moment that we knew there were going to be two babies instead of one (another story, for another time!) I have wanted and loved both of them, and couldn’t imagine not having either one. Sure, it has made the money a lot tighter, and the tiredness much greater, but God gave me each of my children, and for that I am grateful. – NOW, I’ve been known to yell at them, and be angry with them, and want to get away from them temporarily. I am no saint.

Can’t wait to hear your stories too….much love, vb

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