Thursday, November 27, 2008

General Update

This was my first week at the new job as a medical transcriptionist in a cardiovascular clinic. My brain and body are SO tired! I came home each evening just exhausted.

Even so, I am surprised to say that I really like the job. Everyone in the office is nice. The lady training me has been there for more than a decade. She is retiring in October 2009. On my first day, she really surprised me by saying, "You're the first one they've tried that I've been hopeful about."

I don't have any training in medical transcription. I did do one file for a doctor while working for Internet Transcribers. It was a conference call for parents of children with ADHD. After that one file, I said, "I don't want any more medical stuff!" Really, that one was a piece of cake because it was mostly meds that I had to Google to find spellings on. This job is definitely a lot more than meds.

The most difficult part is actually being able to distinguish what the docs are saying on the dictation. Sometimes they speak very clearly and if I don't know the spelling, I can Google it and find it pretty easily. However, they often slur their words together so there is NO hope of Googling it. That's where Linda comes in. She checks all the dictations I type and helps me figure out what they are saying. Yesterday, Linda had the day off. I worked anyway. She'll check the files I had questions about on Monday. But I did complete some files on my own with no problems. Yay!

This is still on a temporary basis. They have to like my work before they decide to keep me. I don't know how long of a temporary basis it will be.

We had an offer on our house. It was $15,000 under our asking price and they wanted us to leave several personal property items in the kichen and they wanted to close by December 15 and have us out by December 18. We countered with an offer only $2,000 under our asking price and a closing date of January 5. They withdrew their offer. They want to be settled before Christmas. Yikes! We haven't even found a house to buy yet. We really didn't want to be rushed into buying something if we aren't sure about it. We also have a trip back to Louisiana coming up the week after Christmas. It would have been nice to have all this done with, but I think we made the right decision at this point in time.

Of the two houses I wrote about before, the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards the one I didn't think I would learn towards. There are so many negatives about the one with the wrap-around porch that they are pushing it down in my mind's list. We would have to finish the fence in the backyard. We would have to add stairs out the back door, which are missing right now (and it's a LONG way down). The kitchen is small and there isn't much room to expand it with the breakfast nook having one entire wall of windows. There isn't a place to easily add a bathroom if we decide we need/want to. No third bedroom/dedicated craft space. A pool we don't really want and would have to find a buyer for. It needs some work done on the floor in the bathroom. The positives it has: larger bedrooms, charming character, good location, great price, a basement for storage and workshop space.

The one near the hospital has a kitchen that is large enough to make a really nice work space. It has a pantry already (it just needs shelves). It has a room that can be dedicated to a crafting space as well as another (small) bedroom. The backyard is completely fenced. There is space to easily add another bathroom. There is a dedicated laundry room. The negatives: priced about $10,000 more than the other one; not a central location; smaller bedrooms; no workshop space. It's been on the market for over 3 months, so maybe they would be willing to negotiate on the price.

Now that I've written it all out, I still don't know. I'm torn! Just the lack of kitchen space is a big thing for me. The kitchen could be larger in the one with the porch but the owners added a laundry closet in the kitchen space. I am not sure where it was located before and I don't know where we would move it to make more space. I have not liked having to walk up and down stairs with laundry here; I don't want to do it again. It would probably be good to get a contractor and ask his opinion on things like where we could add a bathroom, etc. Maybe we should go on HGTV's Hidden Potential!!

We are STILL trying to get an appointment to see the one in Lakeside Highlands. I still prefer that neighborhood over anything else. The owners have moved into the house that we made an offer on, but they still aren't ready to show their former house because "it's a mess." Well, get it fixed and let us see it!!! Or don't fix it and let us see it. Whatever, just let us see it. Can you tell this is making me a little impatient??? ;-) It would be nice to know if it's something that is an option or not. Of course, at this point when we're looking at 2 bedroom/1 bath houses, what wouldn't be an option?

We do have appointments set for Saturday to see the two "possibilities" again and also to look at 2 new ones. When we looked at the two "possibilites" the other day, it was after work and dark. We want to look at them with Michael during the day so he can really get a good look at the basement of the one with the porch and at the yard of the one near the hospital.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving Day!

We are headed out to Kimberly's in-laws' house for the day. I'm about to go downstairs and make some chocolate creme pies, fruit salad, and bake a ham glazed with honey and brown sugar.

My baby brother comes in tomorrow for the weekend. I can't wait to see him. He hasn't visited us since Kimber graduated 2.5 years ago. Laikyn and I spent a few hours with him in Atlanta last December on our way to visit my nephew in South Carolina.

Oh, and tonight, Kimberly and the baby will spend the night here with us!! :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Discouraging Weight Loss Update

I cannot believe the tape measure today! :-( Even though I lost a pound since last month's weigh-in, I've GAINED 6.5"!!!

That is just downright discouraging.

Since 6/18/08, I've lost 5# and 10".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Job/House Search Update

Lots going around here lately. I haven't had time to blog much.

As I wrote before, I took a seasonal, part-time job at Sears because it was the only offer I had. I started a few weeks ago. I don't hate it, but I don't really like it either. Does that make sense? After 3 times of working with someone, they had me scheduled to work alone this week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. First thing Tuesday morning, I started making mistakes and having to call for supervisors. When my immediate supervisor finally came around at lunch time, I told her that I really wasn't comfortable being on my own. She graciously understood and sent someone over to work with me the rest of the day. Jessica was awesome and she taught me a lot.

On Tuesday, I had a call from one of the staffing agencies I applied with. They had a position for a medical transcriptionist open. I told her that I didn't have experience or training in medical transcription. She relayed that to the administrator, but he said he was still willing to give me a try. I went for the interview yesterday morning. The job is in a cardiology clinic, so the terminology will be minimum. Whatever terminology there is, it will be repeated over and over again. It's not like a general practitioner who is making different diagnoses on throughout the day. It will be the same diagnoses and medicines over and over again.

When I went to lunch yesterday, I had a message from the staffing agency to call them to report on how the interview went. I called and started talking about the interview and ended by saying, "I'm not really sure how I did." Kaytrina said, "Well, you must have done well, because you got the job!"

I was so excited! Especially when Kaytrina mentioned the fact that I can spend the holidays with my family; I won't have to work the day after Thanksgiving, etc. I start the job on Monday. When I got back from lunch, I was more nervous about telling my supervisor that I had another job than I was when I interviewed for the job! I will finish out my shift today and I won't have to go back there again, except to shop! :-)

Now, for the house search update. Laikyn and I looked at another round of houses on Monday. We looked at about half a dozen and there was only one that we want Michael to see. It's has really cute curb appeal and the inside is nice, except the kitchen. It isn't horrible, but it would need updating eventually and it doesn't have a dishwasher or pantry. We would have to buy a refrigerator.
It has a breakfast area that we could use as an office and add more storage there, but there are a lot of windows that would hamper how much storage we could add. (I'm not complaining about the windows, though!)
The price is very tempting.
It has a full unfinished walk-out basement that would allow Michael plenty of workshop space and we could store stuff down there. I'm just so tired of stairs. I really would prefer something that is all on one level.
The biggest negative is that it's only 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.
It's so charming, though. It's definitely my style. It has a nice porch that wraps around one side from the front door, which is slightly off-center. Laikyn and I sat on the swing out there and it was so nice!
We would need to add privacy fence across the back of the property and also replace some stairs out the back door. There's an above-ground pool, which we've already experienced and don't really want again. We can always sell it like we did with the one here last summer.
It's in a central location in town.
It has a one-car detached garage that would need siding added to it. They are in the process of siding the house, so they made side that as well.
We'd have to pull up carpet in the bedrooms, but there are hardwoods under it. Not sure what condition they are in.
The bathroom has a jetted tub/shower combo. Nice!
I have some things in my mind that I want to check when we go back tomorrow to look at it with Michael. I want to try to imagine the rooms without all their furniture and put my pieces (especially storage cabinets) instead. They have really massive furniture; we don't. The bedrooms are both 14x14, which is a good size. I just don't know if I could fit my office/crafting stuff in our bedroom too.

After we look at that one, we are going to look at one that Laikyn and I looked at when we first started this process. Michael said he didn't want to be near the hospital, but I will now be working near the hospital. I could walk to work from this house if I had to, which may be nice since we are a two-car family with three people working. It may be too far on the other side of town, though, and not centrally located enough for us.
However, I have already been thinking about this house again the last week or so before I got the job at the cardiology clinic. Since we looked at the one I wrote about above and it only has one bathroom, I started thinking about this one again. It also only has one bathroom. It has more space, though, inside. It has covered attached parking. It has hardwoods under the carpeting as well. It has a nice size kitchen (still would need updating eventually). The kitchen has something I have ALWAYS wanted -- a double drainboard porcelain sink. (Both my grandmothers had those and I just LOVE them.) The kitchen has room to add more cabinets, both upper and lower. It doesn't have a dishwasher, but all the other appliances stay. It has a laundry room right off the kitchen and then in that same area, there is a huge room that just needs shelves to turn into a walk-in pantry!!! I'm salivating just thinking about it.
When Laikyn and I walked through the front door of this house and entered the living room, I got goosebumps. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I just keep thinking about the house and how that happened when I walked in the door and how it hasn't happened since.
When we first looked at it, we thought of ways we could add a bathroom. The space is there to do it right off the dining room in a room that the woman used as her crafting space. We also thought about turning the dining room and the craft room into a master suite and moving the dining room to the bedroom that the homeowner uses as a sitting room right off the kitchen. None of this would have to be done before we move in. It could all be done down the road if we want to. We may find we can live with only one bathroom and leave everything just as it is.
The house doesn't have a basement, which is a plus for me. It has a completely fenced backyard. It does lack on workshop space. There is a small metal shed in the back and that's it.
It may be too close to the neighbors for Michael's taste. On the plus side for him, it has a fig tree. My husband LOVES figs.
The price is better than most we've looked at, though.

Okay, folks! That's the rather long update. I'll try to post on the results of our Friday showings over the weekend.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Birthday

As I said before, we went to Huntsville for my birthday yesterday. We fixed some of our favorite gourmet-style chicken salad, packed the picnic basket and ice chest, and started loading up the car. While we were running around loading things, Michael stopped me and said, "Do you want to bring this?"

"Bring what?" I asked.

He grabbed a blue shopping bag off the chair and put it down on the floor at my feet. It held my birthday present/anniversary present/Christmas present -- for the next two years! I was TOTALLY floored to find that the bag held a Nikon D60 Digital SLR camera!!! A few months ago -- before the recent cutbacks at work -- I had told him, "I want a Digital SLR camera for Christmas; make it happen." Of course, after recent events, I was no longer holding him to that request.

I was a little suspicious during the week when he pulled the Best Buy circular out of the garbage can and looked through it, but with all the activity this past week, I honestly didn't know he'd even had a chance to go buy anything at all. My first response was, "How are we paying for this??" His answer was, "The same way we always do."

I have a lot to learn about photography, but we used the camera yesterday to get some awesome shots to use for Laikyn's graduation announcements. Of course, I snapped a few of Nathan, too. :-)

It was a beautiful day, even if it was a little colder than I'd hoped for. Here are some of the shots we took at Monte Sano Park.

We went to IHOP for supper and oh my! Their current menu item called Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake Pancakes are to die for!! They are SO delicious, I will be dreaming about those pancakes for some time to come.

It was a very good day!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Got a Job!

I had job offers from two places yesterday: Sears and K Mart. Since I didn't have any other offers on the table, I took the job at Sears, even though it is only seasonal. Of course, there is the possibility of it turning into a permanent job after the holidays. I'm still looking, though, since retail isn't my first choice. I'd much prefer something in an office, but for now, I'm taking it! It's only part-time, but it offered the possibility of more hours than the job at K Mart. I should start next week.

When I first got the offer from K Mart (in the morning), I called one other place that I had applied at because I knew they were conducting interviews this week and I wanted to know the status of things before I accepted K Mart. This was for a part-time office assistant job at a saddle company. I was totally floored when the guy told me that they had received well over 100 applications (!!) and they were only choosing 5-10 to call for interviews. Yikes! How is a person supposed to stand out in a crowd like that??? Needless to say, they didn't call me back for an interview.

Another thing that floored me was at one of the staffing agencies I applied with yesterday. The girl who interviewed me looked like she was barely out of high school. She has been with the staffing company two weeks and they just promoted her to manager of one of their stores. That is a really hard pill to swallow for someone like me who can hardly get a interview with any companies.

This morning I got a call from one of the staffing places for a temporary position tomorrow and Friday, but I had to turn them down since my orientation with Sears is sometime this week. They had originally scheduled the orientation for today at 3:00, but then the orientation person called me saying not to come in, because they need to run the background check first. Michael wanted to know what I thought would happen when they find my rap sheet. :-)

One of the other staffing agencies I applied at yesterday was Manpower. They are the most professional one that I've gone to. Lyons HR was a close second, though. I need to go back to Manpower and take their Word and Excel tests. Since Excel is not my strongest computing skill, I spent some time online this morning with Microsoft's tutorials. I learned a lot, so I hope it helps. What I liked about Manpower was that they gave me a business card and told me to call if I needed anything. What a concept for a business!! Only one other staffing agency did that, but I didn't get a good feeling about them. The guy made me feel like he was promising me the moon.

Anyway, I'll be glad to get some "real-world" work experience on my record after a 20-year hiatus.

After that full day of applying for jobs, I actually made it to Pilates class after an entire month of missing classes. I could feel the difference in my muscles after skipping for that long. It felt good to get back into the routine and I feel the tightness returning to my powerhouse!!

It's so pretty right now here. We've been having really gorgeous weather and the leaves are at their peak. My birthday is Saturday and we are finally doing what I said I wanted to do two years ago for my birthday -- we're going to Monte Sano Park in Huntsville for the day. I hope the weather holds out. It's supposed to rain the latter part of this week, but it's *supposed* to be dry again for Saturday. It just might be a little cooler than I'd wish it to be. I hope not. Mid 70s is what I'm hoping for. The only disappointment is that my friends aren't able to make it. They're making up for it by taking me out to lunch on Friday. Woohoo!!