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Subject:These happy updates are almost a theme
Time:08:51 am
As of yesterday I've worked two full weeks at the new job AND I've received my first official paycheck. Kent texted me at work yesterday to tell me I had a letter waiting for me and I practically did a little dance right there at my work desk. When I got home he was playing the "oh whatever could it be?" game even though the sender is on the envelope plain-as-day. Of course we had to dash out straight away to deposit it--showing up at the bank with ten minutes to spare. Now I have to hurry up and wait because the silly thing won't be available to cover debits until Monday, but at least it's in there. (Our bank offers extended hours for drive thru banking, but since it's after 5, it still counts as a transaction for the next day.)

I guess I should explain what people are paying me for these days.

I'm working for a claims management company (name withheld, since this entry's open) as a disability specialist which probably means nothing to the lot of you--I know it meant nothing to me prior to my interview. Basically, I'm working in the insurance industry, but not for an insurance company. Instead, we contract with major businesses/corporations and help manage their health care by providing case management for their employees who go out on some sort of disability or leave. We handle short term disability and Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). I think another group within the same office also handles workers comp claims, but I've yet to run into any of them.

Now, why would they be hiring someone like me and why would I work there given my background? I've been hired as one of their top level examiners. My job title actually requires a professional license--in my case, it's my RN. Medical background is something they can't teach on the job so they look for people who have already received that training elsewhere. With that knowledge, you're better equipped to take on more complex cases, mental health claims, and can also act as a consult for other examiners and help in decision-making for what is and is not an appropriate amount of leave (Example I've already run into: Someone whose doctor wrote them four weeks of leave for an uncomplicated, outpatient procedure that requires 1-2 days recovery and sometimes not even that much.) and whether or not there are other factors that contribute to slower recovery. We can also help-out our coworkers with uncooperative providers who might otherwise blow off a "lowly office worker" but will talk to someone with a license and title.

So far I'm enjoying things. I like my coworkers and feel like I've been accepted right off the bat. I haven't felt like the newbie outsider or anything like that and within just days of stepping foot in the door, people were coming to pick my brain about various medical issues. It's honestly kind of flattering since 1) I'm still totally green and 2) I'm one of the youngest, if not the youngest person on the team.

In about two more weeks I'll probably be starting on phone calls and claimant contacts. In the meantime I'm digging into the computer programs we use and trying to learn the general workflow of everything. I'm getting it a piece at a time, but it all seems to be coming together pretty well in my head. Well, for now anyway. I'm sure this is one of those things that you think you know it until you actually attempt to do it.

Since the job is nice and official, Kent and I have laid down a deposit on our new apartment and even got to tour it. The kitchen is huge. It's seriously about the size of my current living room. I have counters. We have about double the cabinet space and we probably even have room to tuck a little dinette set into the corner so we can actually eat meals at a table instead of in the living room or at our computers. This is what it feels like to be a grown-up, yes? Also of note--we'll have a utility closet again. It's driven me crazy in the current apartment that I don't have a hall closet or anything where I can stash the vacuum and things like that. It's lived in a corner of the living room since we moved here, but not anymore! The new place will be toward the back of the complex which means a longer walk to get the mail, but it means less parking hassle for us and our guests and we'll be closer to the gym so hopefully we'll use it more. I'm also hoping that with a different building layout, we won't get as much noise off the steps or from people above (we won't have upstairs neighbors) so maybe Ursula won't freak-out so much from people just walking around.

I can't decide which part I'm most excited about. We'll also have two bathrooms which means no more people wandering through my bedroom! For the most part it hasn't been such a big deal, but every once in awhile I just get defensive about having people other than Kent or the puppies in there. Only a few more weeks of worrying about that though. Then we'll have a hall bath and the Lauren-Chai will have her own room so no more air mattress in the living room. Everybody wins.
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Subject:Lots of happenings
Time:10:28 am
Current Mood:excitedexcited
Well, we've had a whole slew of changes in the past month. So, in no particular order of relevance or occurrence:

-Mom is a new assisted living facility. There was nothing wrong with the old place, she wasn't desperately unhappy, they weren't hurting her, or jacking up the cost of living or anything like that, it had simply served its purpose. When this whole thing began, one of our priorities (my own priority and the one I pushed every time we discussed the matter, truth be told) was to minimize the upheaval of leaving the house by keeping Mom in the same neighborhood so that she could still attend her church and see her friends. And for awhile she did just that. She kept going to choir practice, went to weekly mass, had brunch with everyone, and even went on outings with various people.

Then she started getting headaches. Multiple ones each week, bad enough that my siblings and I all received at least one phone call or voice message with our mother on the verge of tears telling us that her head hurt. She's on medication number three now (maybe four) in trying to treat and prevent the damn things. They seem to have improved, but that's another story. With all the pain, Mom didn't want to go to church or choir practice. In started as sporadic absences and then she just stopped altogether because she never knew if she was going to feel good. She start taking communion from a volunteer that visited weekly and she seemed content.

From the start we knew that the closer you got to Dallas, the more options you had in facilities and the cheaper the cost due to competition. We also knew that there was a place right across the street from Damon's house. He toured the place and found that there was an open room so he and I took Mom out to lunch one day to discuss the possibility of moving. She was interested so we scheduled a time for the three of us to have lunch with the director and to have a tour. Everyone liked it so deposits were made and we got ready to do some heavy lifting. We were a bit delayed with all the snow and ice, but we finally made it happen last week and Mom spent her first night there on Friday.

Overall, Mom seems happy about the change. She says that Esperanza has better coffee than Sterling House. I'm happy about the change too. Instead of driving down the highway for half an hour to pick her up, I can just zip across town and be there in about ten minutes. Damon and the kiddos can walk over to see her once the weather is nicer (which hopefully won't be much longer) and they're planning to have her over for dinner at least once a week. Her expenses are now down by $900+ per month. This place is literally about 20% cheaper and they have TONS more activities including recurring weekly events, a monthly restaurant outing paid for by Esperanza and not out-of-pocket, worship services, animal visits from a local no-kill shelter, and, the thing that makes me squee the most, they have about a half dozen little brown rabbits that live in the courtyard. They even have pellets available so the residents can go out and feed the bunnies.

There's so much attention to detail and little things just make you stand back and say "Wow, someone really cared and really thought this through." They maintain memory books for the residents with pictures and such and give it to the resident as a keepsake should they ever move away or to the family when their loved one passes away. They have their own "Make a Wish" program. One resident wanted to go on a date so they arranged for some cute young man (the nephew of a staff member) to bring her flowers and take her out to dinner. Another resident writes short stories so they gathered up some of his works, had them bound, and then held a book signing for him and gave all the residents a copy of his book. And all of it is done at Esperanza's own expense. I have high hopes for this place.

-I have a job now! Not quite a month ago I got in touch with a firm that does nothing but job placements for college grads looking to get a foot in the door on their way to a new career. Put in an application, submitted my resume, and about two weeks later got a phone call. The recruiter had a potential job that he thought I'd be suited for and wanted to meet me in person, talk about my past experience, and just get to know me as a person instead of a resume. He liked what I had to say so he sent me information along to the hiring company and once we finally crawled out of the icy tomb Mother Nature attempted to encase us in, I interviewed with the woman who is now my supervisor come Monday! My head is still spinning with how quickly everything fell into place. I've faxed in my direct deposit forms and all that jazz and it still just doesn't seem real.

Kent and I are headed out today to expand my wardrobe. I'm ridiculously excited about shopping.

-I have a new plushie friend. His name is Lok'tar, but we're calling him Loki for short. Here he is. For the non WoW fiends on my friends list (which is most of you), Loki is a Windrider/Wyvern from World of Warcraft. They're a major mode of transportation for Horde faction characters. They're also goddamn adorable. Loki has been gaming with me, watching Dexter (finally started the first season), browsing forums with me, and overall just making me squee with happiness and excitement. I keep holding him up and flapping his wings at Kent. There may have also been some "Rawr!" noises. >.>

-Now that I'm employed, the Badger and I can finally start looking for a bigger apartment (woohoo!) and getting a second vehicle. Also laptops and various and sundry luxuries that have been on the "someday" list. Living within our means has paid off in having a rather comfortable existence til now and it's paying off again in that we're going to have an awesome disposable income with both of us working.

-Finally (I think this is everything) Kent is enrolled in school for the fall. I did his applications, filed his FAFSA, and requested his transcripts to be sent which is all the major stuff. He'll have some orientation stuff to do and probably some placement tests since his ACT scores are considered expired, but all of that is easily handled. He'll also be starting school debt free and if Meme and I having anything to say about it, he'll be graduating school still debt free. :)
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Subject:Happy time!
Time:12:49 pm
It's our anniversary and it's snowing. Not excited about the cold, but it's pretty to watch and Ursula is having an absolute blast running around and eating it all. ♥
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Time:03:50 pm
I know that I've been largely absent from Livejournal and that this in no way makes up for that or brings anyone up to speed on what's going on in my life, but all the same, I had to share this.

A Different Kind of Christian Demonstration at Gay Pride

My response? Christianity: You're doing it right. Had I been there, I would have also been in tears and hugging Nathan and his group.
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Subject:Imposter syndrome
Time:03:56 am
This hits WAY too close to home. Ouch.
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Subject:Running, running, running
Time:01:27 am
Current Mood:happyhappy
I'm getting my butt back on the running bandwagon. Tonight was run #2. I'm not starting over from scratch since I'm still more conditioned than before I started, but I have been working to feel out where exactly I should be picking up. After the run I had tonight though, I can officially pick up where I left off. And I did it in an uncomfortably hot gym to boot. Makes me wonder how far I would have gotten if the A/C had been working properly. Regardless though, two more runs and I'm on to Week 4. Happy!

The power supply to my computer decided to give up the ghost today so Kent and I had an impromptu trip to Fry's. We came away with the needed part, a 2GB stick of ram, and bag of really, really yummy iced tea candies. Win. While inside I ogled the pretty cases and found one I'd actually like to have. Kent asked if I really wanted it and I informed him that, yes, I did, but I wasn't allowing him to buy it for me. He responded by snapping a picture of it on his phone and now I'm sure he's plotting something. He's leading me to believe that he might get it for our six month in July. When I asked if we were actually going to exchange gifts, his response was "You're not, but I am" and then teased about giving me something on his birthday because it's his day and giving me surprises makes him happy. *sigh* Crazy boy.

After Fry's we wandered around Plano a bit and found a pet store with bunnies we could pet and a Corgi puppy who tried to eat my hand through the glass. Kent wanted to bring her home and I had to be the voice of reason. Not that I didn't want her, but we're kind of at our two pet limit and this little pup and Ursula would have surely destroyed the apartment together. That and it really upsets me to see puppies for sale at a retail shop and that's not an industry I want to support. We'll find a pup to rescue when the time's right.

Afterward we stumbled upon a Central Market where we grabbed pizza slices from the deli counter and a couple of drinks. My pizza was covered in spinach with a few pieces of goat cheese and a little bit of bacon. It was awesome. Kent wanted to try gelato so we picked up a container of vanilla and snuck bites of it at red lights on the way home. He wasn't too excited about it so now the bulk of the container is in our freezer and he's dubbed it mine. In all honesty though, it'll probably sit around there long enough for him to eventually ask if he can devour it which is just fine for me cause it's not exactly something I need to be eating too often.

And despite all our indulgences today, I'm still right on track for my points today. Definitely a good day.
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Time:04:18 pm
There is a mockingbird in our complex who knows at least three distinct car alarm sounds. Now, that might not sound like too big of a deal, but each alarm that this little guy knows is of the variety which incorporates multiple sounds/volumes. Car alarms seem to be this little guy's favorite thing to mimic and it's kind of hilarious. He's good at it too. The past few mornings Kent and I have been laying in bed just listening to him "sing" his heart out and laughing. He'll do a few loops of one alarm and then get board and move on to another. Lather, rinse, repeat.

One morning this lead to the question of what we would mimic if we were mockingbirds. Kent's vote was for bugle calls ala Reveille. My pick was doorbells just because it would drive the Ursula insane.
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Time:05:54 pm
Still suck at updating this thing. Yup.

There's no doubt that summer is officially here. Good god it's hot. Our low temp overnight is supposedly going to be 78 degrees. It's not going to be long before we start to see 80+ degree nights and people dying of heat stroke. :(

I was kidnapped over Memorial Day weekend by a few of my college friends. We went camping together at Purtic Creek State Park which was actually a lot of fun. My back was really pissed over the sleeping arrangements, but it's act together after an hour or two of being awake each day. We left on Friday, made camp, roasted hot dogs, and turned in more or less early. I woke up early the next day from all the light and bird song. (I guess my pineal gland actually works!) My back was not having my attempts at trying to go back to sleep or reading in the tent so I curled up at the picnic table outside and read until everyone else started waking up.

One of my friends has gotten involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism and wanted to attend an event going on not far from where we were camping. She actually brought costumes for all of us and even thought it was hot and the sun was blinding it was fun. Not as fun as other medieval and Renaissance fairs that I've attended, but still neat. We watched a lot of chivalric combat that day.

When we got back to camp, Joe, our resident boy scout, started prepping dinner. Pork tenderloin and veggies--all cooked over the campfire and all freaking delicious. Afterward was mead, homemade merlot, drunken Apples to Apples, and s'mores. There was also a midnight trip to the swing set which was highly amusing. (The park had a few playgrounds and we had to make use of them.)

We packed up and came home on Sunday since our food provisions hadn't kept as well as expected and Joe was wary of the meat. Dinner that night was Raising Cane's instead. I have absolutely no idea what they put in their "Cane sauce" but I'm freaking addicted. Like seriously, get me into a 12-step, stat.

Prior to the trip, I'd been freaking out over the possibility of weight gain. I was honestly not happy at the prospect of having so little control over my food choices and such. I loosened up about it after we got out to the site, but I came home feeling bloated and icky. Like four pounds of nothing but water-weight icky. My abdomen was actually tender because of it and I couldn't let Kent cuddle with me in certain ways. But thankfully, it's gone now and I'm at my lowest weight since probably high school. It's kind of a crazy thought. My goal is about what I weighed right before high school, pending how my body decides to rearrange itself. It's very obvious at this point that, despite the humongous chest, I'm definitely a pear. My face and neck, stomach, backside, and even my calves are all slimmer, but the damn thighs are holding on for dear life. And they're the one part that I hate the most. >_<

Still, I'm starting to like what I see in the mirror. Won't be prancing around in a bikini any time this summer, but definitely feeling a lot sleeker.
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Subject:Cookie call!
Time:12:58 pm
In the near future, I'm going to be making and sending cookies to asexual_enya to celebrate his triumphant return to LJ and new apartment. I'll also be making cookies to send to one of Kent's friends in Galveston.

So I figured that, as long as I'm baking, I might as well make someone else's day with some homemade cookies.

Enya is getting some form of chocolate chip (or similar chocolate-y goodness) and our Galveston friend is getting some jazzed up peanut butter ones.

Anyone else interested?

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Time:09:56 pm
Current Mood:excitedOMFG!



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