Sunday, October 22, 2006

My co-worker

I got some good news at work - I'm doing just fine.

Here's why this is such a big deal:

I've been working in this position since the middle of July (so about 4 months now).  It was all new to me - I had never dealt with accounting in any way, and especially not in relation to retail.  It was a lot to adjust to.  I was pretty slow as I got used to it, because I wanted to make sure I was doing it right.
As time has gone on, I've gotten faster, but Kathy (who trained me) has kept telling me that I need to get faster because I'm making others' jobs harder by being so slow.  No matter how much I have improved my speed, she keeps telling me that I'm still too slow.  It's hard to deal with, because she has never said, "Good, I'm glad you're getting faster" just "You're still too slow; you're leaving too much work for Mary & Michelle to finish up."

Friday morning I spoke with Mary and told her that I know I'm faster, but I feel like I'm not good enough still and I know where I am still having problems.  That night, Michelle told me that not only am I just fine as far as speed goes, but that Kathy is not as great as she thinks she is.  She also thinks that Kathy tries to ensure her own job security by not training people well (I'm the third person in this position since Kathy started in it).  I have noticed that - Kathy has trained a couple of other people who are backups for when neither of us can work, and she trained BOTH of them better than she trained me.  I picked up a few things that I need to be doing just by listening in while she was training them.  And, she showed me about the slowest way possible to do a couple of things (I have since picked up faster methods on my own).  I've also noticed recently (including an instance just last night) that she seems to find new things that I "ought" to be doing each night as soon as I start getting finished with my work at a decent time.  I just start getting into a pattern where I'm getting what I need to get done, and she says, "You know, you should be doing this every night, too."  It's as if she wants me to look bad, so she can always look better.

Last night I was so offended, I almost told her off (but I bit my tongue just in time) because I was trying to figure something out and she said, "It might just be too complicated for you."  Um, excuse me??  This coming from the woman who spells the word "comments" as "commits"??  No.  It's not too complicated for me.  I had made a mistake on the adding machine and was trying to fix it and said to myself, "No, that didn't work, either," - thus eliciting that comment from her.  I know that I am more intelligent than she is (not bragging, just a fact) and her saying that to me was very insulting.  I did keep my nasty comeback to myself, and now that I have had time to think about it, I have a better response.  Next time she implies that I can't handle something, I will simply say that I am perfectly capable of doing my job.  That's it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

money & job

Or maybe job & money. Anyway... I'd like to find a new job. I don't hate my job, I don't even really dislike it all that much. I'm just frustrated. It doesn't seem fair to me that upper management gets more weekends off than on, and dept managers get every weekend off, and most floor people get one or two weekends a month off, but I'm expected to work every weekend??? And if I do want one off, I have to put in a request at least a month in advance and hope I get approved for it. If I don't get approved, I have to work it. It didn't bother me one bit until I requested a weekend for J's birthday so we could have friends over and I could actually SEE them, and it got denied. I don't want to be a big grouch, but if I don't get at least one weekend off between now and January, I am going to be livid. I knew I was going to be working most weekends when I got this position, but I also said that if I needed time, I'd put it in. That's annoying but okay. It's when they deny the ONE weekend I ask for in a month that I get mad. So I would like to find a new job. I am being very picky, so there's a good chance I won't find one. Michigan's economy is in the sewer after all. Unemployment is VERY high - the rest of the country has seen dropping unemployment rates, but here in Michigan it just keeps going up. Of course, that only counts the people who can draw an unemployment check. There are many more who are unemployed but have used up their benefits, but since they're not drawing the check, they don't count in the figures. I know all of this, and am going into my job search with open eyes. Here's what I'm looking for: something in an office; 8 or 9am until 5 or 6pm; Monday through Friday - NO WEEKENDS. I am sick and tired of never seeing my friends because they've all got real jobs and I'm the only loser still stuck in retail. I also need to be making at least as much as I make now. I made a comment to J that with him working, we could afford for me to drop down in salary a little bit if it gets me into a job where I'm happier. His response was that he'd love to see me happier, and working more normal hours, but if we're going to save up $15K any time soon, I can't take any kind of a pay cut. He's so right. So I need to make at least as much as I'm making now, if not more, which will be very difficult, especially in this town. If we could move it would help so much - I know of one company just off the top of my head that starts at over a dollar more than I make now, but it's over 2 hours away (I don't even know if they're hiring, but that would be easy enough to find out). We live in a college town, and there's an almost unlimited supply of people willing to work part time for minimum wage, so it's hard to find anything that pays anything above that. He's now a little worried that I want to change jobs, because the economy is so bad right now. I tried to reassure him that I will not quit this job until I have found a new one, and that since I am being so picky I know that there is a chance I won't find what I'm looking for and will have to stay with this job. He still seemed apprehensive about it, but I have promised him and I promise myself - I will not quit my current position until I have a new job lined up - and that new job must fit all of my criteria. The only thing I'm flexible on is weekends - I don't mind the occasional Saturday, but no Sundays - I'd like to start going to church again.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Donating Plasma

I'm cleared to donate!  Woo-Hoo!!  This is exciting.  It will add $200 per month to our adoption fund, making the goal of saving enough to adopt that much easier to attain!  The local center pays $25 per donation, and you can donate up to twice per week.  $50 per week x four weeks per month = $200 more per month towards our savings!  I am so excited!

I went in to find out what I would need to do to be cleared.  Did I have to talk to my PCP, did he have to sign something, do I have to submit anything?  What do I need to do?  By the time I had finished talking to the guy there, and he talked to the doctor there, I had been cleared!

They require a basic physical on your first visit (bp, temp, height, weight, general health) and the next available appointment for that wasn't until November.  So there is still a delay, but only a month!  My appointment for my physical and first donation is November 15th.  I am so looking forward to it.  I can't describe how much that money will help us out in our quest towards having a child of our own!


Just a quickie post - I found some pricing information on adopting from China today.

The one agency that I'm looking at that deals almost exclusively with China lists the cost as approximately $15,000.  Naturally, that does not include travel or other incidentals - just the adoption process itself.  But it is $3,500 cheaper than Russia, so it might be more of an option for us at this time.

A cursory search for travel costs lists Detroit to Beijing as being about $3,000 for the two of us (close to $1500 each, but still at least $1000 cheaper than 2 trips to Russia at $1000 each per trip).  Only one trip is required, which will be a big savings as well.  However, the trip does have to be somewhat long - about three weeks.  Luckily the "gotcha day" would be a little less than a week into the trip, so we would have our child with us for the majority of the time we are in China.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Money Woes

J and I discussed money tonight - specifically, money to fund the adoption. For me, it did not go well. I had been hoping that with some responsible choices and me finding ways to make a bit more money on the side, we'd be able to swing it sometime next year - late, but next year - maybe around J's birthday. Now J is saying that he doesn't think we'll be able to do it before he gets another settlement payment - which will be August of 2008. I had hoped to be well into the adoption process by that time, not just starting!

I do have a few ideas of how to bring in a little extra money. Unfortunately, it isn't much, but every little bit counts. One thing is donating plasma - there's a local place to donate and you can get up to $200 per month doing that. If I were able to get started with that, it would all be free and clear - and put straight into our savings for adoption. I'm also seriously thinking of starting to sell Tupperware. I'm still getting information on that and the decision is not final, but I am definitely leaning towards doing it. Again, all of that money would be put directly into our adoption savings. Also, it has been suggested to me that I do some knitting projects and sell them. I'd love to do that, but I'm not sure if I could sell enough to make it worth my while. I will start making some items and selling them on eBay to see how it goes. I will definitely have to make sure I don't undercharge for shipping - which is something I have done in the past.

And with eBay - that in itself is a little frustrating right now, although it's nothing that eBay has done or can do. You need 10 feedbacks to sell, which is understandable - they want to see some level of commitment. That means that I have to purchase and get good feedback on 10 items before I can do any selling - and I'm anxious to do some selling! I know that not everyone is on the ball about feedback, but there is an item I bought two weeks ago, paid for right away, received one week ago, and left positive feedback the same day I got it. So why hasn't the seller left feedback for me?? AARRGH! Every feedback counts right now and I can't afford to buy a lot of things, especially when I'm trying so hard to save and not spend. I know that I'm really impatient and one feedback isn't really that important in the grand scheme of things, but it is very frustrating.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Help from Work

I asked our store manager last night if she is aware of anything that our company offers to help offset the costs of adoption. She said that she doesn't know, but that there is someone who would - unfortunately that person is not going to be in until Monday morning.

She also said that if there isn't a company program, she would be willing to write to corporate and ask for the help for me as a type of associate assistance grant. I hadn't thought of that. She had a very good point, too - she said, "The worst they can do is say 'no'." How true. If they say no, I've lost nothing, but if they say yes, I've gained some much-needed financial help!!

I also got the impression that she would be willing to try and do something to help at the store level. She didn't come right out and say it, but she kinda hinted at it. If it comes to that, I'd have to make a big decision. I wasn't planning to tell more than 3 or 4 people at work - just those who have been praying for me for quite a long time now - and if I did agree to a store-level thing, it might become public before I'm ready for that.

I am in no way embarrassed or wanting to keep the adoption a secret, I just plan to wait until we're further along in the process to let the whole world know about it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Adopting from Russia

I got an email today about adopting from Russia. I am all for it - especially with the possibility that the entire process can take as little as 7-9 months from start to finish! I haven't discussed it with J yet because he wasn't home when I got the emails, but here is the breakdown of how much some of it will cost:

The service fee to adopt a child from Russia is $18,500 payable to Faithful Charities Foundations and abroad in installments as follows:
1st installment (agency fees): $2000 is sent with the signed contract to start the adoption process.
2nd installment(foreign fees) $4500 is due upon submission the dossier.
3rd installment (agency fees) of $3200 is sent when referral or notification of travel is received.
4th installment (foreign fees) $4300 due during the first trip in the region and a Moscow representative
5th installment (foreign fees): $4500 due during the second trip in the region and a Moscow representative

The service fee doesn't cover traveling, home study and INS expenses.

As a baseline for approximate travel amounts, I did a search for the first week in Jan. If we left on Jan 1 and came back on the 7th, the round trip cost for the flights would be anywhere from $1675 (total for 2 of us) and up. These prices will vary a little depending on when we actually go - I'm well aware that the beginning of January is a busy time for traveling - I chose those dates based on us staying about a week but J still not having to miss school (although I would hope that his professors would be understanding). If we can go over a weekend that would help, but I don't know how possible that would be considering that we have to deal with Russian courts on these trips and I doubt that they're open on the weekends. I'm going to tell J to do his best to not have classes on either Monday or Friday, giving us that much more time around a weekend available. One advantage we have is that we can easily go to one of several airports in the state, since we have family and/or friends close to many of them. The cheapest airport will probably be the one in Detroit, and my best friend lives there; I know that she would gladly keep our car for us and take us to & from the airport.

I have no idea what Home Study or INS costs would be. I need to look into those still.

This is actually pretty close to what I expected it would cost (I was figuring around $20,000) so the amount is not a surprise.

I guess it all depends on when we would start. Sooner is better for me - the sooner I have my child the better! But we also have to think of timing, because J is in school and I have work to think about (arranging for time off - would it fall on this year's or next year's vacation schedule?) If, for example, I started it today, our first trip would be in Jan-Feb. Not only is that bad timing as far as J's schooling is concerned (both parents must travel on both trips), but having that much money available right after Christmas is unlikely (although all of our Christmas money will go towards the adoption fund). At the earliest, we could have our child by mid-April - which would mean another trip to Russia (this time we'd have our tax refunds by then so that will help as far as funding the trip goes) but I'm not sure I'd still have available vacation time to take from work (my vacation year runs from July-June).

It's a lot to think about, and a lot of money to save up. I'm still undecided as to whether I am going to tell the families now or later. At the moment, I'm thinking that I want to keep it pretty quiet until more has been decided (like where we'll be adopting from and when). No need to get them all involved from day one. I wasn't even going to tell my IRL friends right away, but as it will affect something we had been hoping to do next summer, I need to tell them that my money-saving priorities have changed. It's something to ponder.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Adopt Me, Baby!!

So about adoption. The more I think about it, the more I'm feeling as if that is the way to go for us at this point in our lives. I am not giving up on the possibility of a biological child, but I am giving up on the stress and strain of trying so hard to make it happen. I have an awesome clinic with great doctors & nurses, and I still want to complete the testing to find out what exactly is wrong - why we have had so much trouble - but since it is so far away from us, and I do work odd hours, it would be very difficult for us to actually pursue treatment through that clinic at this time. There are so many roadblocks being put up along this path right now - I just feel as if God is telling us to go a different route to create our family.

I've now scooted around on two separate websites and requested information from both. Aside from a lot of browsing of things I've already seen on their sites, I can't do much else besides wait now. After bills are paid this paycheck, I'll have to see if there is enough left over to buy ink for the printer so I can print some things out - there are a few preliminary forms for one of the sites that do not obligate you, but they do get your foot in the door should you choose to adopt through them. Both agencies I am looking at deal in international adoptions - one exclusively with China and the other with several countries.

Jon's biggest thing right now is funding - he feels that you have to have a lot of money to adopt and Lord knows we don't have a lot of money. He has a good point - with all of the travel involved, plus the start-up costs of bringing a child into our home (crib or bed, other needed furniture, clothes, toys, etc) - money will be very tight. However, I think we can do it. I will be asking at work about possible help with adoption funding (some employers do it - and I won't know unless I ask), plus once we've gotten some of the paperwork complete there are grants we can apply for, plus - unknown to Jon because I want to surprise him with it - I'm putting some money into savings on the sly - $30 a month isn't much, but it's something and every little bit helps.

I have opened an account on eBay, and once I get enough feedback (you need at least 10, it's a very new account and I only have 3 so far) I will begin to sell some things there - all of the money I get from eBay sales will go towards our adoption fund. This will have the added bonus of getting rid of some of the clutter in our house as well!


Above the squiggly is what I started on last night before work (saved as a draft). Now I have even more to report. I spoke with Jon about saving some money towards adoption, and he was all for it. This to me is a huge sign that adoption is the way to go for us. The more I research it; the more I think about it; everything seems to be pointing me in that direction. I have had adoption in the back of my mind for years as something we would do in the future. Now it seems that adoption is something we're going to do starting right now!

The Time Has Come

This has been an emotional day, and will likely be the beginning of a very emotional journey. I have decided something very important.

I can no longer sit around and simply wait.

I have done a lot of soul-searching, a lot of praying, and a lot of crying. I have reached out to friends and family to help me by praying, by simply being there, or both.

Now it is time for me to take action.

I can deal with never being pregnant. Being pregnant was never my true focus, simply a means to an end. I can NOT deal with never being a mother.

Thus begins anew the journey that began four years ago. The journey to make us parents.