“Draw Something” – I’m Having Fun With My New App!

Here is another picture that was fun to do on my Iphone App.

And another….

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Taping and Bedding Drywall in the Murphy Money Pit

Taping and Bedding Drywall is not something that I am good at. I have watched numerous YouTube “How To” videos to get tips on technique. It looks SO much easier in the videos! I even bought a new tool called a “Hawk” because the guy that used the Hawk tool was very quick and efficient. Well, the Hawk was not the miracle worker I had hoped it would be. I am still just as bad at taping and bedding as I was before the Hawk. I have been doing it for a couple of days now, so I think I am improving, but improvement from what I was doing before is not saying a lot. I keep telling myself that when it is sanded, it will look better. But, as I stand back and look at what I have accomplished so far, (from a distance) it looks great! There is still so much more to do, and it is piece meal at best since we don’t have much time to work on this project that I have named, “The Murphy Money Pit”. I am going to keep at it as long as I can and hopefully the next time I come and am able to work on it, it will look even better! Oh, to win a lottery and be able to just hire people to do it all!
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Going Back to College

It’s been 25 years since I last attended any college classes. At that time I would take one or two courses at night while Kevin was home with the kids. I accumulated 26 credits before I stopped going. We relocated from Oklahoma to California and I just never thought about going again. Kevin began pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Cal State Long Beach at night and I just focused on being a “Stay-at-home-mom”…my true dream job. I was never career oriented so I never thought twice about going back to school.

Once the kids were in school full-time I thought it was time to do something so I just went back to work part-time. That eventually turned into full-time.

Then the “Great Depressing Recession” hit the California construction economy in a big way and in October of 2008 I was laid off from my job of 8 1/2 years with Lucas and Mercier Construction, a residential home framing company. Throughout all of my years in the working industry I wound up focusing on Accounting related positions in one form or another. Once laid-off it made it a great challenge to find another job. There are a million accounting clerks out there, many who are much younger than I am, which is apparent once my resume is reviewed.

I became a “99 Weeker”. I was blessed in the fact that if I was going to be laid-off and had to rely on Unemployment Compensation, the timing was perfect. It’s crazy how fast 99 weeks can go by. It’s also very humbling to realize that you are no longer in demand, have no real special talents and are not getting any younger.

That is when I decided that going back to college to pursue a Medical Assisting program was the way to go for me. It was somewhat of a daunting idea. But, the application and admission process was very simple since everything is an online process. Before I knew it I had decided the direction I want to go and had applied, was accepted and registered for my first semester of classes.

My brain can actually handle it. That was something I was very happy to find out. Learning and remembering and being tested on vast amounts of knowledge was still doable. It is interesting to see that I’m not the only “PSC” – “Pre-Senior Citizen in the group. There are others that have been laid-off and have the same idea as me, the Medical field seems like the way to go…a field of possible job opportunities.

So we’ll see. So far, so good. I’ve also learned that being on the planet for a few more years actually does have its perks…you just pick up more knowledge as you go…especially if its something about the medical field!

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A New Direction

Most of my adult life I have worked for companies in the areas of accounting or estimating. I really didn’t choose those fields as much as they chose me.

I did not go to college right out of high school. I graduated from Putnam City West High School as a Junior in 1975. Because I had taken summer classes after my Freshman and Sophomore years, I only needed one Senior level class,  Senior English, to complete my graduation requirements during my Junior year and receive my high school diploma. So I went to the guidance counselor to confirm that and signed up to take my Senior English class during zero period and went home that day to tell my parents what I was doing. I never even thought to ask if it was OK if I graduated a year early, it never even crossed my mind to ask.

During that year the thought of college was in my mind but our family was not in a position to pay for me to go to college. I wasn’t a star athlete, so an athletic scholarship was not on my horizon. I was a good student, National Honor Society, but not an exceptional student. I could have  received financial aid but that required my dad to fill out the paperwork, which was very similar to a tax return and so that wasn’t done. I didn’t have the gumption in me and it never even crossed my mind that I could put myself through college and the guidance counselor never really threw that out there as an option either. Another thing that just didn’t cross my mind. So, I decided to enter the workforce right out of high school.

My first full-time job was as a sales clerk for Dillards Department Store in Oklahoma City at Shepard Mall. A friend of mine worked there and suggested that I apply to work in the toy department, I did and I got the job. I worked there several months for a boss that was not very ethical or professional. She used her employees to cover her when chaos was going on in her family life which in turned caused chaos in my life and because of that I wound up leaving Dillards.

I decided to apply for an “office job” and so I went to the Hertz Data Center in Oklahoma City as many friends worked there and said I ought to apply. I got my first job at Hertz in the Litigations Department. I was making a whopping $98.00 per week…gross! But I was on the way to developing my “office skills”. Hertz was very regimented and so I started with a good basis of work ethics and experience. I moved up over the years that I worked there. I became an Adjustment Correspondent and then a Senior Unapplied Correspondent in the sales department. These positional moves while interesting just weren’t paying that much and so with the blessings of my husband Kevin I resigned from Hertz and searched for another job. I started with a temp agency and worked at a few places, one was an oil company located in downtown Oklahoma City. I got the fever…the oil fever. I decided that I wanted to work for an oil company so I applied at a company called Texas Oil and Gas, also located in downtown Oklahoma City. I just wanted to be a receptionist. At the time I thought my brain could use a break and answering phone lines seemed to be just the ticket. Well, once in the interview with the Administrative Manager, Roger Fite, to talk about the receptionist position, he brought up the fact that with my experience at Hertz I would be able to work in the Accounting Department and make more money than as the receptionist. It took a millisecond for me to decide…greed won out. So started my many long years of working in some way or another in accounting. For the past 30+ years that is what I have done, with the exception of a few years of being a “Stay-at-home mom”.

In October, 2008 with the downturn in the construction industry in California and all over the United States I was laid-off from my position as an Estimating Assistant with Lucas and Mercier Framing after over 8 years. There just wasn’t enough work and so the company over a period of about two years downsized to the bare minimum and I was in the last group to be let go due to “lack of work”. It was not a shock. Kevin and I have been through times similar to these and with Kevin always having worked in the construction industry we always try to have plans for “what if?”. So, as I continued to apply for jobs I also collected unemployment. Although I have a strong resume, one that also shows longevity with employers, it just isn’t enough for these times. My competition in the work force are younger and many in numbers. So I’ve had to rethink what I want to do with my life as the end of my “99 weeks” of unemployment is on the horizon.

I’ve always enjoyed anything to do with the medical field. My kids even bought me a medical encyclopedia once as a birthday gift. So it isn’t surprising that I have chosen to go into the field of medicine, specifically the direction of a Comprehensive Medical Assistant. I will have the knowledge to do the front office and the back office of a doctors practice and also learn what it takes to work in a hospital in this area. I am taking my classes at Saddleback College and I am entering my third week of classes. Medical Terminology and Medical Coding are both very heavy on the homework and memorization. My brain doesn’t know whats happened to it. I’m filling up new wrinkles with information. But so happy to be doing it. I think I am going to enjoy my new endeavour. Even the long commute doesn’t bother me at the moment because I am doing something that I think I will truly enjoy.

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A Cute Moment

Last night Kevin and I took Hudson to see a high school football game. It was so great. We went to see Melissa’s high school team play…the San Juan Hills H.S. Stallions. They were playing against the Sweetwater Red Devils I believe. Well the Stallions stampeded over the Devils. It was an exciting game with high energy.

We decided to sit down low and near the cheerleaders since Mel is now a co-advisor and she also cheered in high school and college. There were cheerleaders and song leaders. They did a good job. Hudson really enjoyed the music, dancing and high flying stunting. But what he was most amazed by was the Stallion mascot. At first he didn’t want to even go near it…I think because it was so big. As the evening wore on though he ventured down to take a look.

We left before the game was over as it was getting pretty late. Next time maybe we’ll get there before the game so he can actually talk to the Stallion.

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Date #3 of Fun and Creative Dates for Married Couples

In April, Kevin and I went on our  “Get Historical” date. We decided to take a weekend trip up North a ways and visit some museums and also drive around Newbury Park where I lived for a few years as a kid.

We started out going to the going to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and walked through the different exhibits that were on display. A notable exhibit was drawings that were done by Leonardo Davinci. It was disappointing that we were not allowed to take any photographs inside the exhibits…they want you to buy the books with his drawings in the souvenir shop.

Kevin and I standing outside the Getty

From there we drove up to the Thousand Oaks/Newbury Park area and got a hotel room at the Hampton Inn for the night. It was great, the hotel turned out to be a brand new  (only a few weeks old) hotel and it was so nice. An expanded continental breakfast was included so that was nice.

For dinner that night we chose to go to a restaurant called Mama Ritas in Newbury Park. This is a great Mexican food restaurant that I first heard about on the television show “Kitchen Nightmares”. A beautiful restaurant but struggling because of menu and preparation issues. I thought it would be fun to check it out and see how they were doing since being revamped by Chef Gordan Ramsay. We weren’t disappointed. I had a chili rellano and Kevin had mini steak burritos. Both were great. The chips were hot and crispy and the salsa was spicy and hit the spot.

In the morning we got started bright and early and headed out to explore Newbury Park and visit the Stagecoach Inn Museum that I used to visit and hang out in when I lived in Newbury Park. When we were kids we would walk behind our houses along a path that led to the museum. On our way there we would pass a fenced in pasture that had cows and I can remember feeding the cows the long grasses/weeds that were just out of there reach beyond their fence and feeling their long tongues swipe my hand as they grabbed their treat.

Standing on the lawns of the Stagecoach Inn Museum

That morning Kevin and I found they were having an antique faire so there were tables and booths set up all around the yard out in front of the museum. It was a very hot day and I was glad that I didn’t have to be sitting in one spot trying to sell my wares.

One of the docents inside spent quite a while showing and explaining to us about all of the gramophones. They must’ve had over one hundred different styles in all shapes, sizes and colors.

We also visited the room where “Pierre” the ghosts is supposed to live. The story goes that a psychic detected his presence and said that Pierre was a 35 year old man who was shot on the second floor back in 1889. There is no documentation supporting this anywhere but it makes for a great urban legend and it made us kids want to spend a lot of time there when we were young, hoping to see the infamous Pierre Duvon.

When we lived in Newbury Park my mom donated some furniture and an antique dictionary to the museum. Unfortunately in April of 1970 a fire destroyed the museum and most everything in it, including what we had donated. The structure that stands today is an authentic reconstruction and was reopened on July 4, 1976.

After visiting the Stagecoach Inn Museum we continued to drive around and explored Newbury Park. We drove by the house that we used to live in at 68 Karen Place. The house still looks great and has the same pine tree on the side of it that used to sound so peaceful when the wind blew through its needles with a whistling sound.

Our old house in Newbury Park

 It was a great place to grow up. We hiked in the hills behind the housing addition from dawn to dusk, built onto a tree house in the big oak tree that stood in the middle of the field on Kelly Road, played in the creek catching pollywogs, frogs and salamanders near the old chicken farmhouse that was abandoned and just enjoyed being kids. Some great memories.

We drove by the schools that I used to attend, Timber Elementary School and Redwood Middle School.

Me at my old middle school.

We tried to find the location where Manzanita Elementary School used to be but couldn’t find it since it is no longer an elementary school. Everything looked pretty much the same. At Redwood, the girls locker room door where I went running through at break neck speed trying to be the first one in and out of the showers and instead hitting a puddle of water and wiping out and ruining my knees for the rest of my life. The hill that we had to run up and down during P.E. that caused me to wind up in the nurses office with one of my worst asthma attacks at school. The wood shop room where I remember the instructor not allowing us to say the word “thing” as it drove him nuts when students would ask for help with “this thing”. My English classroom where my teacher was so strict and mean…also my first encounter where a woman dressed like and had the mannerisms of a man…but she turned out to be one of my best teachers ever.

We even drove by Newbury Park High School even though I didn’t attend there. I did spend time though being a Pop Warner cheerleader and that is where our home field was. It’s different. Now they have a beautiful stadium and running track. We did go through a rummage sale that was being held by the LaCrosse team and wound up buying some fun action figure toys for Hudson for $.05 a piece!

We decided to go to the Ronald Regan Library, something that Kevin has wanted to do for a while. While we were there we got to see a miniature of the White House with working televisions inside it and everything. Pretty neat. We also saw Airforce One and got to walk through it and see the inside. We walked through the exhibits and saw the bullet proof car that President Regan rode around in, the gardens and the site of his grave. We also learned about a famous Ronald Regan quote, “Trust but verify.” I like it and so does Kevin, so he bought a book marker with it and a pad folio. We now have visited the Ronald Regan Library and the Richard Nixon Library. They are both so full of great information, memories and mementos.

From there we decided to head north to Oxnard. Since we didn’t have a hotel reservation I pulled out my Iphone and started looking for a place to stay. I wound up choosing Homewood Suites in Oxnard. Turned out, this was a brand new hotel also…it’d only been open about a week. I don’t think anyone had ever stayed in the room Kevin and I stayed in so we were the first! Such a nice place too. For dinner we decided to “eat in” and placed our order online to the nearby Outback Steakhouse. The OKC Thunder and the Lakers were playing in a play-off game so we enjoyed that while we devoured our steaks. The next morning the continental breakfast was also another expanded breakfast. I just love hot waffles with butter and syrup!

In Oxnard we visited “The Murphy Auto Museum” … no relation to us. There we saw collector cars, vintage clothing and model trains. The Murphy Auto Museum collection has American classic autos, including several Packards from different years. Cars were really a work of art back in the day. You could just imagine cruising around in these cars that were built of real steel that didn’t crunch so easily like the cars of today.

Keivn at The Murphy Auto Museum

It was time to head back south towards home so we decided to hit one more stop. We were going to try and make it to the Griffith Observatory but the traffic to it was insane! We would have to park and literally hike the hilly and winding road up to the observatory. I said, no thanks. Instead we visited the Autry National Center Museum of the American West. There were exhibits of the Art of the Native American Basketry, Home Lands – How Women Made the West, and extensive collections of artifacts from the Wild West Shows and western memorabilia. In the Golden Spur Cafe I ate a buffalo burger for lunch.

Autry Museum

It was a whirlwind weekend of fun and food. A great date!




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Date #2 of 52 Fun and Creative Dates – Our “Planting Date”

Herbs and Beans all planted and ready to grow!

Kevin and I decided that for our second date of our fifty two creative dates that we would do the suggested date of “Plant a Vegetable Garden”.  Since we don’t have a backyard to plant and cultivate a garden we instead got boxes to plant that would fit on our patio, still leaving room to enjoy sitting out to watch the incredible sunsets in the evenings.

The next thing that we had to decide on was what to plant. We wanted to plant something that we would also eat. So we chose Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Tomatoes and Green Beans.

Kevin planting the herbs and beans.

We bought all of our supplies at Lowes and came back home and got down to business. At the same time that we were planting our vegies we also were transplanting our rubber tree into a larger container. We received the rubber tree from my mom and dad on our 10th wedding anniversary, twenty years ago, and it is still going strong. I have to admit, it’s because Kevin is so good at making sure that it gets the water that it needs just before it is ready to croak.

Our Rubber Tree and Herbs and Veggies

After transplanting the rubber tree it was time to start on the vegies/herbs. The first container we decided to put the herbs into. We used the second container for the beans. We figured that the beans needed a container of their own since they are a much larger plant.

It only took a few days for the little plants to start coming up. It is so exciting to see those first little sprouts and know that soon they will be supplying us with fresh produce that we don’t have to remember to put on the grocery list! I can’t wait until my cilantro is ready to pick, it is one of my favorite herbs.

Everything's sprouting!

Another thing that we incorporated into our Planting Date was getting some “Veggie Tales Peas” for Hudson to plant. When the kids came over the next day, Hudson decorated his planting bucket with some Disney stickers before starting the planting process. Once that was complete it was time to dump planting soil into the bucket. We had also gotten Hudson his own little gardening tools that just his size. He wanted to dig more than plant but we did manage to get him to push his peas down into the soil and cover with some more soil. According to his mom and dad his are starting to sprout also.

Hudson Planting his Veggie Tales Peas

While Hudson was planting his peas there was a bit of spillage. At the end of planting we swept the extra dirt and peas up from the patio floor and just dumped it into another planter that we had. Now…we have peas growing there too!

We had also bought a mini greenhouse that included soil and seeds for tomatoes. Those didn’t get planted right away so we are still waiting for them to sprout.

At least after this date Kevin and I know that if we had to, we could probably manage to grow some food to eat. 🙂 We both have farming in our family background so it doesn’t completely surprise me.

Kevin and I with our "Garden"

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