Sunday, February 1, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

A friend of mine wrote one that I enjoyed and I thought that this would be a great way to launch back into the blog. My entry will probably be too long and drawn out as I am wont to do, but here goes.

Highlights from our year:

  • Peter, of course. Born on January 14 just before 7am. I already have an account of it, but in brief he came just under two weeks early and he's been just so great. More on him later. 
  • Graduating from the MBA program: This, obviously, is very big for me. It marks the end of my scholastic career at BYU. I'm sure that I'm done shooting for degrees from BYU, but less sure that I'm actually done with school, period. The end of the program also marked the beginning of a nice stretch of about 2 months where I just hung out full time with my little. This period of time was a lot of road tripping, first on our first camping adventure down for a little over nighter to Page, AZ, seeing Horseshoe Canyon and the Bryce National Park. Then we spent several days visiting Dan and Sarah and the kids out in Reno, and from there we went up to Vancouver and spent a week or so with Amy's parents and Lisa who brought Megan and Emily with her. Then we went down to California for our last hurrah out West before moving out to Indiana. 
  • Hawaii: This one was higher on my list than it was for Hawaii, but that trip was a ton of fun for all of us. We got to spend some good time with Dave and Caitlin and we explored all of Oahu. 
  • Moving out to Indiana: Right? More on that. 
Toughest parts of the year: 
  • Moving out to Indiana: It's been great being here, but it's also been tough. It has been really tough being so far away from all of our people for one. There are things about Indiana that leave us a little unsettled - the distance, of course, but the midwesterness of everything, trying to find our place socially, and adjusting financially. 
  • The Reality of our financial situation: I capitalize that because I don't think I really knew what things were going to be like financially once we were out of the La-La-land of living off of student loans, living within our means, and knowing that we were going to be able to make ends meet. It took me a few months of looking at our finances, tracking expenses, semi-budgeting to realize that we actually were doing just fine. We aren't killing it, but we are making ends meet and I have a good career trajectory and that's been comforting to figure out. But before some time passed and being able to see some of those things come to fruition, I wasn't seeing it. 
  • The Wilderness: I'll explain. I took a survey after I got out of school for recent graduates. It asked some questions that focused on how likely you'd do a few things, which included the following - change careers in your mid-30s, move across the country away from family and friends, among other things. I guess I knew I was taking a chance once I started the MBA program, but I was sure that it would be a good move, but looking back now I realize how scary those things are. With the survey I answered that I was completely willing to do those things because I don't know if I ever really thought of the import of that kind decision. Six months into this adventure, and even before now, I'm sure that this has been the right move, but it's kind of scary to see those kinds of things play out. You just don't know when you go into it. We have had to rely on the kindness of strangers, on each other, and just take things one day at a time. It's been an experience and I think we are figuring it out. So this is the wilderness. We saw the forest, not the trees, and now after having gotten into the wilderness a little ways, we know the trees a little better and it's a little daunting. You know how it is when you go into things that are unfamiliar. People are intimidating. You don't know how you're measuring up. You just try and make a comfortable place for yourself and eventually, you do. (I don't know that I've really thought about this aspect in so much detail until just now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you write these kinds of things out.) 
  • My boss quitting: This kind of rocked my world for a couple weeks. I signed up with UTC for a few different reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was the lady I was going to work for. And then one day she put in her two weeks and all of this uncertainty sprang up - did I make the right choice? should I look for a new job too? what is her departure going to mean for what my workload would be like? Turns out, everything is fine. 
Biggest surprises of 2014:
  • Moving to Indiana. For all of the above. 
  • Loving life on 2nd shift: Our biggest hesitation about this job was me having to work on 2nd shift. Everything else we were comfortable with, but working those hours from 2-11pm made us uneasy. Then I started just working from 1-10pm instead, and it turns out, we couldn't love the schedule more. It's now one of the things that we love most. I get to spend mornings with the kids. We can go do things as a family while the kids are still with energy, and I can come home for dinner, have a check-in with my family, and I can come home with enough time to unwind and watch a show or two with Amy. It's wonderful. Also, I have regular hours on Fridays so we get a normal weekend. Wonderful. 
  • Thanksgiving: We were able to surprise my family and friends, but then we were surprised with a nasty bit of flu or something that swept through Jane, Peter, and me. Later we found out that it went through all of the Reids, my mom, my dad's wife, her daughter and probably the rest of Southern California. It was awful. And then the trip home through Colorado. Let's end that conversation there. 
My take: I can't believe any of this. I can't believe I live in Indiana, that I live on EST when, after our experience in Michigan, I promised myself that I didn't want to live in that many time zones away again. And here I am, doing it again. I still hate it, but you figure it out. I don't get to talk to my best friend as easily as I could before. It feels like it's hard to get a Sunday night skype with our family because when they are ready to skype, we are ready for bed, and when we are ready, they are in the middle of dinner. It's annoying.

But the big redeeming factor, for me at least, is that I really do enjoy my job. Let me describe just a few things that happened last week in my work: I had suspended an employee for being insubordinate and then negotiated with the union president a discipline that wouldn't draw a grievance; I had to terminate three employees, which isn't fun for me, but it's crazy that I can play such a pivotal role in a person's life because who forgets when they got fired from a job and the person that fired them? But for me, it's just another guy that wasn't abiding by our company policies. I have to remind myself, "I am not the reason you are getting terminated, you are. Something brought you to my attention and now I have to resolve it." Kind of makes me sound hard core; I got an awesome performance review for my year-end evaluation. My boss really appreciates what I'm doing and I feel like I'm really starting to kill it at work and add some real value to the team' I arranged a retirement party for an employee who worked at our plant for 48 years. 48! And all of his buddies that have worked alongside him that whole time were there with him to celebrate; I helped another lady decide on her retirement date, which ended up being two days later, when she came in to my office and didn't even realize that she was going to be doing so when she came in; I interviewed candidates for other positions that will either launch a new career path, redirect a career path, or enable someone to develop new skill sets. Some of the things I do are hard, but what's really neat about my work is that my work touches on really pivotal moments in a person's life and I think that's really neat to be a part of. Just about every day at work is a memorable day  and I think that's what I really appreciate about what I do.

The Kids

Jane: She is developing into her own little person. By the end of 2014 she was really starting to talk and be able to express herself. Jane is a timid little girl. She doesn't reveal her personality to adults or when she is new settings, but she has a ton of personality. She loves her electronics. Lately she asks all the time to show her pictures of monkees, elephants, and orcas. From very little her favorite game was always to be chased or to be chasing. She's a wonderful mix of girly girl while also liking boy stuff. She loves dresses that twirl and loves her pink skirt where she can pretend to be a ballerina. But she also loves her construction books and loves trucks. Just loves them. Her favorite song to sing is Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. She's still a huge cuddle bug. She likes nothing more than to just sit on your lap and watch Bubble Guppies or Paw Patrol.

Peter: I was sure that Peter was going to be walking at 10 months because of how active he was and how advanced he seemed with all of his large motor skills, but his problem is that he's just too impatient. Every time we try and walk with him, or most of the time at least, it seems like he already knows exactly where he wants to go and what he wants to do and just wants to crawl there and do it. He's only just been starting to take steps on his own the last week or so. He's a very passionate child. He throws tantrums and for now at least, I think it's so funny - when he's laying on his back and kicks his legs up in the air, or when he's just so mad and starts crawling away not looking where he's going and crawls right into a wall or something. He also laughs really hard. He's just more extreme in his emotional expression than Jane was. He's also just all boy. He's rambunctious and not afraid to fall. Having all wood floors downstairs doesn't do the slightest in deterring him from crawling around to get where he wants to go. He loves to climb things and now has enough core strength to just slide down the slide on his own. He cares much less about electronics than Jane did at this age. Also, if he gets off schedule he gets really irritable. And he's not a great eater.

Looking forward to in 2015

  • Mike getting married on March 7th - It's neat to pray for someone for so long and see wonderful things come to fruition. We are greatly looking forward to meeting up with Amy's family, celebrating that wonderful occasion, and being in Arizona in the spring time (spring training!).
  • Trips! Aside from the trips home we'll be doing - the Walton Utah Vacation, going back to California - we are looking forward to warmer weather and going to Chicago for our anniversary, getting out to Nashville, St. Louis, and Lake Michigan (at least).
  • Purchasing a van? I hope it happens this year. We are ready for it. 
So here goes. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jane at 2 years and change

It's so crazy that we have a 2 year old now. We had a pretty quiet birthday part for Jane, seeing as how we still don't really know anyone out here. I guess it was that way for her first birthday too. Maybe we're just not big partyers. I don't know.

Our little two year old talks, runs, and loves anything to do with animals. She is incredibly shy around adults still, but is really embracing other kids now. She has no problem initiating play with other kids. Nursery was initially a bit of a struggle for her, but she loves it now. We actually pulled her out early yesterday to attend a coworker's wedding and she started crying. It's really fun to see her start actually playing with other kids and really seeking that out.

Jane talks a lot. I don't know what it's like in comparison to other toddlers her age, but she can say a lot. She sings a lot of songs to herself. It's always surprising how much she actually knows. This morning she's been singing temple, house, family, and Amy figured out that she was singing I Love To See The Temple. I'm so grateful that we have a church with a nursery where she can have those additional interactions with other kids and adults and learn things from people besides her parents. It's all so reinforcing.

She knows numbers, but I don't know if she really gets counting. She knows the context of when to count, but I'm not sure that she really understands the meaning of numbers. Colors are pretty good. She can sing the Alphabet song and can pick out certain letters. I think she's probably right in the middle of those developmental levels.

Jane loves movies and TV. I mean, just loves the visual arts. At the wedding yesterday she was the one on the dance floor the entire time.

And when I grabbed her this morning and we did our routine of daddy is still waking up so let's just watch some Curious George and Dinosaur train. she just cuddles right in and lays down with me. She's just the sweetest.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pittsburgh Video Redux

I had to redo this video because the licensing on the original version wouldn't allow me to use it. I ended up using music from The Boss because he's so blue collar to me. The funny thing about this song is that I'm really proud of it because I cut about a minute and a half out of the song because the length wasn't quite right for how long the video is and I think no one could ever tell where I made the cut unless you knew exactly how the song goes. There you go.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Job Hunt

Log this post under my own personal history. I had been meaning to write about this for a long time, but finding a job took me a lot longer than I thought it would. 

I think I've documented a little bit about the internship hunt, and later the job hunt. You get into an MBA program, especially when it's a pretty good one like BYU's, and you think that things will just resolve themselves. The primary reason that I even applied to the program was seeing the placement statistics: 95% placed within three months of graduation, average starting salary $90-100k a year. That all sounded great, right?

I elected the OB/HR track which has the most prestige within the BYU MBA program. I assumed that my previous HR experience as well as my additional MS in Psychology would make things easy for me. Every person that I talked to in the program assured me that I'd be fine. I ate it all up. 

The internship search was tricky, but I felt like I was able to get some traction and chose Ford. I had a great time at my internship, but Ford didn't feel like the right fit and so I decided I'd move on. 

I thought when I got back for my second year things would be easier. I had my top choices picked out, started out even before I got back from Michigan with my networking, and was sure that things would line up. 

You see where this is going, right? They didn't. HP, my favorite, fell through. Then the others did too. Microsoft, Chevron, Bank of America, Citi, all of them. I couldn't believe it. After the first semester, I thought something would open up. I knew companies came back all the time and was sure I'd be able to lock something down. 

It just wasn't clicking. I had some really promising leads. Citi flew me back. I felt like I nailed everything, but in the end I found out that a single line at the very bottom of my resume is what kept me from getting the job. That came from a phone conversation with the VP of HR. Then others came and went - Edwards LifeSciences, Disney, Pepsi, Applied Materials, DecisionWise, and some others. 

Between September 2013 and April 2014, I applied to at least 60 different positions which were all pretty similar - entry level HR positions for MS/MBA grad for large companies. I had about two dozen interviews, and several that went multiple stages, a few that went to final stages. 

But they just didn't pan out. 

The MBA job hunt was, for me, one of the most humbling experiences I have ever been through. It's hard to hear that many times that you're not what the company is looking for. I knew that I was a qualified candidate, but it just wasn't falling my way. My biggest problem ended up being the long duration that I had been in school for, that my experience was not really in business environments and what HR experience I had ended 6 years prior to the time that I was looking to start working. 

I should have realized earlier that would be as big of an obstacle that it ended up being. 

Throughout the year I had a number of waves of opportunities that would come and go, and then times when the tide would ebb and leave me far out from the shore of having secured a job. 

It was of some comfort to me that my experience wasn't entirely unique to me. Actually, just tonight I saw a list of my fellow classmates from the class of 2014 and noticed that there is still a large number of people looking - 5 months since we graduated from the program. 

My opportunity with UTC came up during the MBA Golf Scramble at the end of the school year. I was sitting in the clubhouse following our golf outing when I was looking at my phone at what emails had come in when I noticed that I had an email from UTC. 

I had applied about 6 months earlier for the Leadership Development Program, but had heard nothing back from the company. Someone from the Indianapolis location was calling me to see if I was interested in a different position, but that still had the basic components of what I had been looking for - big company, HR, grad degree, but entry level. 

It did. 

I was interested, but tepidly so, because it resembled so much the kind of role that I had turned down from Ford, and would also be working the evening from 1-10pm. I went ahead and entertained it because I didn't feel like I was at a point where I could be really choosy, so I went through the motions.

I had my phone screen interview and passed. I was told over the phone that I would be getting a flyback to Indianapolis. I flew out on May 1st and had a round of interviews with the entire HR staff, as well as dual interviews with six different supervisors at UTC-Indy. 

I thought it went well enough, but the more important thing was that I left feeling very impressed. I liked the HR folks that I met, and I thought the opportunity of working in a labor environment might actually be a good one. Before I left, Amy was hardly even thinking this might be a viable option, primarily because of the schedule, but I came back thinking very seriously about it. 

I liked the location from a cost of living standpoint. It would be hard to be away from family, but a great opportunity for us to establish ourselves on our own. We would be able to travel to a lot of nearby locations and explore a lot of the midwestern United States (although we did get a good chunk out of the way last summer). And from a company standpoint UTC would be able to offer me all of the things that I thought would be important for me to have as I get going in my career - good, big name company, get my hands dirty in some real HR work, and have opportunities to go to other locations that might also be really interesting to us down the line, namely, Connecticut and Charlotte, North Carolina. 

This might sound crazy too, but one other really big benefit that really appealed to me was the UTC scholar program. After one year of employment, the company will pay the way for any degree from pretty much any accredited university. At this point I think I've even already zeroed in on what degree I'm hoping to work on next year and have begun corresponding with the program director. 

Anyway, my interested had been piqued. This felt like it could be a really good option for me. After my flyback, I didn't really hear a whole lot, which didn't seem to be good or bad. I felt like I was still in process, but didn't really know what was going on. At the time I was really targeting an opportunity with Pepsi and was hopeful about that one. Then another wave came in - an opportunity with Goldman Sachs came up, an interesting role with Zions BanCorporation, and then one with Varian Medical Systems. I got contacted by a recruiter from Polaris, a manufacturing company that makes snowmobiles and other fun off-road vehicles. 

Things were moving again and Amy and I whimsically passed away our summer going on a number of different trips. It was about a month before I heard back from UTC and that I was in the running, along with another candidate. I had a follow up phone interview with the Senior Labor Manager, and then she said she would get back to me the next week. 

The answer came a few days after she said that it would, but it was worth waiting for. I finally got an offer. The trouble was wondering if these other lines I had cast were going to get bites or not, or if I should just cut bait and go with the first one that came. 

I got the confirmation from Jill while we were visiting with Amy's parents. We were both still a little wary about the second shift schedule, but the opportunity sounded right. Before going to bed one night, I told Amy that if we got a relocation package and if the starting salary hit a certain dollar amount that I thought we should take it. 

I heard again from Jill on Friday June 20th with the offer. It had exactly everything I had mentioned to Amy, down to the exact dollar amount. It's kind of crazy now that I think about it. I ended up negotiating a slightly more generous signing bonus and a slightly later start date and we took it. 

I can't believe it's already been two months. It doesn't seem long or short. I just can't believe that the time has already passed since we arrived. I think I've said this before, but I love it. I love what I'm doing. I love the people I work with, and I love the start that this job gives me in my career. 

It's hard to believe how things work out sometimes. I think as time goes on I'll be even more amazed at how things worked out like they did because I'll be better able to link what has happened this past year to the events in my life 5, 10, or 20 years down the road. 

But for now, I'm really happy. We are really happy. It's a new life for us, and we are doing our best to embrace every aspect of it. The job hunt in the end was really hard on me, but I did find and start a job within 3 months of graduating, got the great vacation following school that I was hoping for, and we are in a place where we feel we can both grow and develop both individually and collectively as a family. 

It's a nice feeling to feel like you're supposed to be where you are. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Steel City PIttsburgh


Man, we had such a great time in Hawaii. For most trips, I feel like by the end I'm kind of ready to come home and get back to my own life and stuff. That wasn't the case on this trip and every time I look back at photos or these videos of our time there, I just wish I could go back.

This was the time in our family to go to Hawaii - Jane and Peter are still both under 2 so we didn't have to pay for their flights. The upside was cost, the downside was having to hold the both of them the whole time. For Jane that ended up being torturous, but that would have been regardless if she had her own seat or not. I ended up having to hold her hold in my lap while she cried and screamed for the last two hours of the arriving flight to Hawaii. She was great in the beginning, but then just couldn't fall asleep for her nap. It was rough. Our red eye on the way back turned out to be the exact right decision though. She fell asleep before takeoff and stayed asleep even on the drive back from the airport.

Going to Hawaii with the Reids was just wonderful. Our kids mix really well with theirs and it was fun to see Jane follow Quinn around the whole trip.

My favorite parts trip of the trip - arriving at our place and seeing just how beach front it was, stepping out at night and swimming in a warm ocean, jumping off Waimea Rock, just Hawaii in general, and showing up and finding the Reids. My least favorite - maybe it was Pearl Harbor. I just don't think the day setup right for it.

Anyway, here's our video:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Snapshot: Jane (23 mos) and Peter (7 mos)

(Consecutive weeks. I'm making a comeback, baby.)

Oh man. My kiddos are the cutest, I'm pretty sure. They are so much fun right now.

I think they're adjusting to life pretty well here. It's crazy to think that this is Jane's 4th residence since she's been born. Hopefully we don't move in the next year, but you never know.

Jane first, I suppose. She is just the sweetest little girl, and when I say sweetest, I really mean it. Not too long ago, Amy was about to breastfeed Peter so Amy went to sit on the couch, and as she did so Jane brought her a pillow (because Amy always grabs one when she's doing that), and then followed that up by pushing up the ottoman for Amy to rest her feet. She just does that kind of thing all of the time.

When Jane watches TV, she loves to come over and sit in my lap or at least right next to me. She's just a cuddly little girl. I love it so much. If I'm just holding her and her attention is on something specific, she'll unwittingly just be rubbing my hair on the back of my head or my back.

Jane is very naturally obedient. She understands direction and takes it really well, at least for the time being.

She always goes to sleep really easily, whether it's naps or for the night. She's been a great sleeper for so long, I probably take it for granted. (Although I can thank Peter for not letting me go too long in not recognizing that mercy.) She still eats mostly pretty well, but she' more distrusting of things that are unfamiliar. It seems mostly to be appearances because pretty much when she actually tries anything, she almost always likes it. Jane is just easy as can be, so naturally affectionate and sweet, and she's the apple of my eye. I can't imagine that I'll not ever swoon over her.

She's talking up a storm, although she does get shy around strangers. I'm always surprised at how many words she knows and even the way she's starting to pick up on concepts and story lines. It's the craziest thing to be watching a show with her and she gets the drama behind the story, when people are distressed, that sort of thing. That's probably normal for a toddler her age, but it still surprises me. She's able to pick up so much nuance. It's neat.

Peter is so mobile now. It's great because for most of his life, he's just not been very good when being left alone (not like we are leaving our less than 6 month old babies alone a whole lot, but you get what I mean). I feel like Jane was pretty good in this area, but Peter just has not been. With being able to get around now, he's able to busy himself so much more and be content with it. He has favorite spots - the fireplace grating, wires plugged into the wall, the peddle that opens the lid on our garbage, and more recently, the door stop that makes that twang over in the kitchen. I remember last summer in Michigan when Jane was all about that. (I can't believe I have babies that close in age that I say last summer and it's talking about a different baby.) He very much does the wounded soldier crawl, but he's getting up on his knees a lot more and doing the rocking. The hardwood and linoleum doesn't slow him down at all, which is great, because there is more of that flooring in our place than we'd probably like.

His noises have a few more consonants now. He imitates a lot more. Not like he's following dance steps or anything like that, but you just can interact more with him and there is more cognizance there now.

And probably the best part about him is just how much he lights up with people. Every time he sees someone, he freely gives the biggest grins. Everyone's first comment is something along the lines of "he just loves people," "he's such a happy baby," or "does he ever get sad?" I tell people all the time that he's just very validating and will make you feel like a million bucks. All you have to do is engage with him and he'll light up. It's amazing how a child like that can just disarm people, even ones that you wouldn't think be so easy to crack. It's the sweetest thing.

He's been going through a bit of a rough patch lately and has not been great with his sleeping patterns, not to say he's really bad, but when you're being compared to Jane when it comes to sleeping, it's hard to be good. He's a little trickier than Jane, but I think we're mostly realizing that Jane was just about as low maintenance as they come. She can be really sensitive when it comes to her emotions, but I think she's actually pretty physically tough. She rarely cries long or much when things happen to her and that's really nice.

She's come to enjoy the water a lot more. It took a summer of beaches, pools, and waterparks, but I think she's there. Peter takes to water like a fish, it seems.

I love my kids more than anything. They have changed my life completely and I'm grateful for it, although I will say that just getting out to see a movie sounds like the most exciting thing in the whole world.

They're great. They bring us much joy and I'm so happy to be a dad and feel so lucky that these ones are mine. I think that day and night.