Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's not so bad...

Really. I'm shocked, but this whole college thing? Not bad at all. Granted, I've only had 2 classes. But so far, I'm wayyyy ahead of the game, and I like it that way. I like both of my real life teachers, which for me is a major bonus. I am NOT AT ALL an auditory learner. I have a hard time with normal conversation, because after about 30 seconds, my eyes glaze over and my ears shut down and it all sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. I have such a hard time absorbing information that way. Both of my teachers are very high-energy, and both have a fantastic sense of humor, which really helps to keep me engaged. And since both of my classes are largely lecture-based, well, anything that helps keep me paying attention is fantastic.

And I accomplished something I'm pretty proud of - I managed to test out of one of my online classes. So, I replaced Computer Essentials with the Impact of Mass Media. I have no idea how I'm going to do with that one, but what the heck, we'll give it a shot. I have discovered though that the online classes are not what I expected. I thought they would be more of a work at your own pace, self directed thing. Instead, you have to log on every week to get your assignments, and part of your grade is participating in the discussion groups with the rest of the class. I had really planned to just go in, and work my way through as quickly as possible, so that I could take a ten week class and have it all done in 5 weeks or so, but with the way these are set up, I won't be able to do that. It's kind of disappointing, but there's nothing much I can do about it now. I think next quarter I might take more live classes though, instead of the online ones.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Global Warming, go AWAY!

The weather is so bizarre here right now. I am in Alaska, the frozen tundra, etc. It should not ever under any circumstances be 41 degrees in the middle of January. We are experiencing rain, which is a wonderful combination with the ice that was uncovered recently under all the snow blown away by the 80 mph winds. I couldn't leave my house today. Even with 4 wheel drive and studded tires, I couldn't get off my street. The wind was so bad that as I was at a complete stop at the bottom of the hill, trying to figure out how to either get all the way up it and out of my subdivision, or halfway back up it and into my driveway, I felt myself creeping to the side and the wind literally pushed my truck along. Schools were closed today due to the icy conditions, portions of the highway were shut down, even the city busses were cancelled. It's insanity, I tell you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

But I refuse to wear a plaid skirt

I have an announcement to make. Drum roll please.....

I am 30 years old, and I am going back to school. And I think I may have just lost my mind.

Once you hear all the details, you're REALLY going to think I'm crazy.

For starters, have I mentioned lately just how much I hate having my mother in law be my children's nanny? Hmm, well if I haven't, let me just reiterate it. I SERIOUSLY hate it. She drives me crazy. Our new house would have been a huge improvement over our old one, but it still would have been hard (before, she had the second master bedroom, now, she would have the tiny guest cabin in the backyard). After the latest argument between her and John, she hasn't spoken to any of us in a couple of months. So we decided to see about finding a new nanny.

I have had very few people in my life that I could call close friends. My best friend is no longer speaking to me because of the way we bought our house, but even before then, there was a pretty big gulf between us. My other other friend here comes around a lot when she needs something, but I am never the one she calls to go hang out with, or go party with, or pretty much do anything social with. They come over to our house for holidays, and we have their kids over at our house all the time, but I rarely see them socially any more. I seem to have issues with holding on to friendships. I don't know if I become too clingy, or too distanced. Nonetheless, there are a few people that I do remain in infrequent contact with. One of them, Sue, worked with me at the company I worked at in Tulsa. We became friends in our training class, and although we never really hung out much outside of work, we have kept in contact, mostly over MySpace. She was one of the few people who really stuck by me when Garrett died. She was totally supportive of our move to Alaska, in a way very few people were. Over the three years since we have been here, we have kept in touch, and we have discussed how much she and her parents have always wanted to visit Alaska. I offered my home and any assistance I could give as tour guide whenever they wanted to come, and for the past several months, we have been eagerly planning her trip up this summer with her daughter. A few weeks ago, she was telling me unhappy she was with life in general right now. Crappy job, yet another roommate screwed her over so she was living at home with mom again, and just generally not really moving AHEAD with life. So John and I discussed it, and we offered her the nanny position for the summer.

On the one hand, it felt really weird to offer a friend a job, in my home. One the other hand, we look at it more as offering her an opportunity. Neither John or I can explain it, but since moving here, our lives have done a complete 180. Our credit is improving almost daily. We both have good jobs that we really like. We are paid well, and neither one of us has a really outrageous commute to work. We have a LOT of time to just spend at home, being with our kids, and each other. Just a couple months ago, we were able to buy our first home, which is something neither one of us thought we would be able to do for years to come. We have enough money left over to pay for our "toys," and especially during the summer, we take frequent trips to nearby (and some not so nearby) parks and rivers to ride our machines and fish, or just play around in the mud. Last year, we went clamming for the first time, and had such a blast, we have already planned this summer's trip too. By the time you offset the upgrade in pay with the higher living expenses, you would really think there wasn't any difference between the way we live here and the way we lived there. And there shouldn't be, but there is. I don't know if it's because we are more relaxed, our kids are healthier, or we just feel more like we belong here than we did there, but moving here was the best thing that ever happened to any of us. And we would like nothing more than to offer that to our friends and family. Which we tried to do with John's mother, and had it slapped back in our face, repeatedly. And so we are trying again, with Sue, and her daughter, Diva. What we have discussed with her, is that essentially, we are offering her a paid vacation. It doesn't pay extraordinarily well, but it does include room and board. And she will have all three of our heathens in tow all day. But the rest of the time is all hers. She can explore, hunt, fish, camp, play, and enjoy her daughter all she wants, all summer long. And if she likes it here, come fall when John is laid off again and stays home with the kids himself, then she's welcome to stay as long as she wants (although, to keep things professional between us, once we aren't paying her to be a nanny, we will charge her a nominal rent fee for the cabin, or help her find a different house if she prefers). We will help her get a job, and we'll help her enroll Diva in Peanut's school (they will both be in kindergarten this fall). We'll help her establish residency so she can qualify for the PFD, and we'll do whatever else we can for her. We won't hand her the moon, but we will help her climb towards it in any way we can. And I'm thrilled that she wants to do it.

Now I bet you're wondering what all this has to do with me going back to school, aren't you? Well, it seems that in an attempt to get her life moving in a better direction, she decided to go back to school in Tulsa. Had everything all set up to start this fall. So to help her continue with that goal, I started looking into colleges up here, trying to find one that had the program she wanted. What I found was a small community college that offers classes in Accounting, my major of choice. And more than anything, since the day I quit high school, I have always regretted that I never went to college. I was supposed to be the first one in my family to go. And I failed, miserably. And while I was sitting there in that office, listening to all the options available to my friend, I suddenly asked myself, "Why can't I do it too?" So I signed up, right then and there. I still have some paperwork to finish, and some financial aid to figure out, but classes start at the end of this month.

It's going to be so hard. 2 nights a week, after work, I will be going to 4-hour classes. I'll leave the house in the morning before the kids get up, and not get home until after they are in bed. That hurts me more than anything. And at least two other nights a week, I will be taking online classes, so even though I'm there, I can't really focus on them. But, if all goes well, 14 months from now, I WILL have a degree in my hand. And 7 months after that, I'll have another. I decided to take two majors, so that I have the accounting degree that I've always wanted, with the hope of moving into a more formal accounting position in the future, preferably closer to home, or with more flexible hours, and also medical billing and coding, so that I can have a second, part time, work from home career, that eventually I'm hoping will move into something more permanent. My goal is to work entirely from home, or barring that, work from home at least 50% of the time. That could translate into any combination of billing and accounting, but since they do tend to go hand in hand, I'm hoping for something like a small doctor's officer that just needs someone to handle their books and insurance billings. Preferably one that already has a receptionist/office clerk, that will allow me to have limited contact with the public, and maximum flexibility. Is it too much to ask for? Yeah, probably. But you've got to have goals, right?