Monday, April 13, 2015

Wedding in Arizona - Lesson in Parenting

We had a really great time with Amy's family in Arizona back in March. Mike and Carly got married. The weather was just right as we were leaving Indy at 15 degrees and getting into Arizona at 70 degrees. And we all stayed together in a big rented house. It was a good setup, but travel lately has proven to be really exhausting.

The Wedding

Weddings are fun. They just are. It is such a happy occasion with a couple being celebrated. People come from long distances, take time off, spend money and vacation days to show their support, and it's a big planned party.

What made this one more fun was the fact that this was Mike. Of all the single people we know, I don't know that we pulled harder for anyone to reach this stage than for Mike. I think every day since we have been married we have prayed for him to meet, fall in love with, and have a relationship work out for him. You pull so hard for somebody and after years of wanting it, when it finally happens it's just so great. That's what we have felt for Mike.

I won't get into all of the details about the wedding, because that's not really what I care about.

The celebrating events were really fun. There was a wedding party dinner the night before the sealing ceremony that was really nice. The reception was at a perfect venue to host families with kids and it was a really fun atmosphere.

The actual sealing ceremony was beautiful. It's such a special feeling to be in the temple and with so much of your family and loved ones around. The Waltons are a wonderful bunch. I can't say enough about how great they all are.


Traveling west with our kiddos has been hard. The flights are long and it's a constant battle with Peter in particular to try and keep him entertained and still. He doesn't care about electronics so that aid that can put Jane into a hypnotic trance has no pacifying effect on him. The kid just likes to move and in the last couple of months has taken to more yelling and screaming when he cries. Not great, but he did okay when it came to the actual travel. About as well as we could have expected.

The worst part was that he just wouldn't sleep soundly at night. We had him in a nearby walk-in closet, which was a decent enough setup, but he would moan through the night and never get good sleep. With Jane our solution is just usually bring her into bed and she cuddles right up next to you and sleeps perfectly. We tried that with Peter and he will lay down to start, then two seconds later he sits straight up, turns himself around, and just flops down, seemingly trying to find a comfortable spot. He ends up kicking both of us in the face at some point and almost like he's doing it deliberately, turns himself perfectly horizontal to how everyone else is lying down. It's almost comical the way he does it, but the fact that he's only 14-15 months old makes me think that he's not quite looking for laughs.

The weekend was just exhausting for us. He never slept well, which meant we never slept well, and with the busyness of a wedding and being in a new place, he never really got much opportunity to nap either. He would fall asleep here and there, but it just seemed like he was all emotions all weekend long because he's just not able to cope as well.

I think this is where our inexperience as parents starts showing up. For Amy and I, we wanted more predictability for our kids. We wanted them to get some opportunity to sleep at a regular hour, take naps, adhere to some kind of schedule. We have two kids, but we've only been parenting for about two and a half years. Truth is, our kids, even when pushed to their limits, still behave pretty well. Jane is an amazing traveler (if she's not actually sick, which is rare anyway), and while Peter gets out of sorts, he's getting better.

Watching Amy's siblings and their families helps us to realize sometimes what kids can do. Even in our most recent jaunt down to Nashville last weekend, we tried to get back into the hotel at a regular hour and put the kids down in our room like it wouldn't be any problem to just tell a 15 month old that it was bed time, and even though we were in a bed five feet away, just lay down and go to bed because you really are tired.

That just doesn't work. Amy's brother Dan has said this and the longer we do this, the more I realize how true it is, but vacations are really for parents. They might be for kids of a certain age, teenagers, but they definitely aren't for babies and little toddlers. You know what those kids need? Stability. Regularity. Routines. You know what vacations are? None of those things. That's kind of the whole point to vacations, right? They're meant to break routines and get you out of the doldrums.

So flying out somewhere, visiting with people you don't really see, having things to do and one event after another, there really isn't going to be an opportunity for routine. Granted, you can't be extreme, with them, but they can usually do more than I think they can. And then they wear themselves out and fall asleep in the car while you're getting to the next place, and then you do it again. It's just kind of how it goes.

The Best Part

For me, it ended up being Sunday after everyone left. Normally I hate being the last person to leave the trip. Everything has wrapped up, there's not a lot left to do, and you're just wanting to get back home and get back to your regularly scheduled programming.

But it turns out that I really like my wife and with arrangements as they were, I never really just got to talk to just her the whole trip. We went to In-N-Out and got to recap the wedding and the weekend, different thoughts that we had, and talked about our kids and I just really love those times with her.

Afterwards we went to the Mesa Temple and walked the grounds and it was just the thing that our kids like to do these days. They love being outside and being in new places. They to wander. Peter likes walking over uneven surfaces (yes, really, he does) and Jane can always spot wildlife and loves to point that stuff out.

While on the grounds we stepped into the visitors center and watched a video about families and both Amy and I really got wrapped up in the spirit that we felt there. The senior missionary asked us if we had anyone pass away recently, and we remarked that her grandfather actually just passed away a few months ago, and that we were in town for a sealing for her brother. We talked about the circle of life, all in one ten minute conversation.

I'm just so grateful for my little family, as well as the bigger one that connects us to the Waltons. It's an amazing thing to be a member of this church and to be seeking after a Christ-like life, receiving the blessings of peace and unity that is available to us.

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.