Monday, December 31, 2012

Ending out 2012.

Today was my last day of employment at WellPoint.  After 14+ years with the company, on November 29th I was told by phone that my job was being eliminated.

And just like that everything changed. Again. 

My first day at Anthem August 19, 1998 Gidget stood in front of us newbies and drawing a big C with her finger in the air told us matter-of-factly that if we couldn't handle change, we were in the wrong place.

The one thing consistent in my 14 years with the company was change.

From acquisitions to job roles to reporting to managers- change came fast and furious.  And, I learned early to never burn bridges because you never know who your next boss will be.

I went to work to provide health benefits and income for my family.  Starting in customer service I worked my way up without college, but by working hard and giving 100% or more.  And in return, my job gave me several promotions and many opportunities I never dreamed of. One such opportunity, was to be able to travel.  I was able to go to California, Louisiana, Denver, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and stopped over in Atlanta, Charlotte and Chicago many times. 

I met some really awesome people and got to live life with co-workers who became friends.  Together, we witnessed 9/11, the VA Tech shootings and Health Care Reform.  That's all I got to say about that.  We have laughed together and cried together. 

These people loved me through breast cancer and the foster to adoption of my sons, and that's just a couple examples.

They inspired me to take chances, dream bigger dreams, share ideas, live my passions and that it is okay laugh out loud during staff meetings. 

But I learned that in the end it's not the classes, travel, metrics met or reports given, overtime and endless hours of meetings that is most important; because at any time any one of us can get that phone call announcing that we are no longer part of the organization.

Which makes me more thankful for the bosses who encouraged me to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up, what my passions are and how they can be part of my day at the same time they were encouraging me keep the first things first.

I am sad today.  Sad because I have built relationships that are of great value and I will miss these people every day.  

As far as the job, I know that God is in control and while I was shocked to learn the news, He wasn't.  He has it all planned out, I just need to wait on Him.

So as I say goodbye to Anthem- I do so with a sense of pride in the person I grew up to be. 

2012 is over and so is my job.  But with 2013  just around the corner  I can't wait to see what's ahead. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saying goodbye to Christmas 2012

My house is quiet.

After a month of celebrating our Savior's birth and all the excitement that comes with the season, all is quiet.

After 16 people under our roof for the weekend (which I LOVED) everyone has gone home and even taken my two youngest with them for a few days.

The lights are out. 

The dog is sleeping along with Rex and Shayne who are sacked out on the couch.

My trees are down and most of the decorations put away.  Only a couple of cupcakes remain. 

This Christmas season officially ends tonight for our family.

It was different this year for us.  But that's been true for most things family and tradition related since Iris was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  We had so hoped to bring her to our house for the day.  We did not.  It wasn't best for her.  And hard as it is, when you love someone with Alzheimers you have to put your own wants and needs aside.  So, we celebrated Christmas Eve with her as best we could in her world, not ours. 

Christmas Day was much the same, Mom and Larry came for breakfast, the Allen's came for lunch and The Nance's came for dinner.  In the midst of the joy and fun, we silently grieved for what we knew was to be no more as we loudly joyed in the traditions that continue. 

This weekend we partied again for our Henley-Parks Christmas.  Growing each year, our family is at 27 and counting.  We're expecting new baby Naff to be rolling around or crawling by next December and with children becoming adults we know the number will continue to grow. 

There is great comfort in the familiar- Christmas coffee in our PJ's, snuggling with little snotty noses and baby toes, the hugs from family we see far too less and love so much. Joy in the patter stomping of little feet on the stairs way too early in the morning yelling "wijah, where are you" and the laughter bouncing off the walls of a full house.

This year especially, I was more keenly aware of the people surrounding me.  Between the shootings in Newtown, a mother-in-law who can no longer enjoy the season and the unexpected death of a classmates daughter, I looked around and listened carefully. I soaked it all in and frequently caught myself whispering to God, Thank You!

Thank you for my family that I can touch, smell, hug, kiss, cook with and assign sentences to when the we can't get along shirt fails.  Thank you for brothers fighting and mommas consoling and the husband wrapping packages up special just for me.  For the abundance of fudge and the hands who made it with love.   For the friends who are family.

Thank you for allowing our family,  the Allen-Kirchner-Torres-Parks-Henley-Naff-Hunsley-Farmer family to enjoy another Christmas.

And thank you most for your own baby boy- JESUS who makes it possible for us to live and to love.



 Merry Christmas, y'all (a little late)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The weight of the why- sad in America tonight.

The news was shocking.  I was at the mall with Shayne and my Mom when Rex called me. About the time I hung up the phone, I saw her.  The lady at the table across from me was reading on her smart phone.  Her face told me she was hearing the same horrific news.  She looked up at me, as if we'd been friends forever and told me there had been another shooting. Kids.  Small kids.  She asked why and bowed her head.  
"And in despair I bowed my head. There is no peace on Earth I said. For hate is strong and mocks the song. Of peace on earth goodwill to men.

Then rang the bells more loud and deep. God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail. With peace on Earth goodwill to men."

My niece posted the above excerpt tonight as I was searching for words of comfort.  In times like this, I go to the Bible, God's word which I believe to be the source of truth, peace, comfort, and hope.  When life gets too hard and scary and out of control, the word and songs based on it's truth is the only thing that seems to bring comfort. 

Tonight I'm overwhelmed with sadness.  For the mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters.  And the teachers.  And the family members.  And their friends.  And the first responders.  And the pastors. And the survivors. And the strangers in CT and across the states who are now coming together as if we've known each other forever to support this town. 

The pain of loosing a child is too great for us to understand unless we've experienced it.  I think I can imagine it, but the truth is I can't.  So, we do what comes natural, we hug our kids a little tighter tonight, walk in their bedroom a little more often than usual and whisper I love you over them.  And then, we pray - crying out to God to comfort everyone whose lives are forever changed as a result of today's evil.

Is there still hope to survive another day when they weight of the why seems more than one can bear?

When we don't know why, we can know God.  

He alone is our hope and in the midst of tragedy may we find peace in knowing that HE IS still God.           
"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) 
Praying for Newtown & America tonight, 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hard Work Yields Yellow.

The boys have been going to Lindamood's for Taekwondo for a few months now and they really like it.  They did testing on Saturday and Monday night was the pay-off for their hard work.
Yellow belts.


Bobby Lindamood   and his team are great and we highly recommend them.  
Now, on to orange.
Happy Thursday y'all!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Doing Different- Thanksgiving 2012.

This past week has been very different for us.

We, just the five of us, took off, flew the coop, left town for the holiday.  We totally broke tradition. We spent our Thanksgiving in a hotel in Arlington, VA . 

Instead of hosting our family for lunch and our friends for dinner on Thanksgiving- we grabbed lunch at Subway. 
Instead of spending hours cooking and sitting around the living room we rode the subway, walked around Arlington National Cemetery, watched the changing of the guard and feasted on burgers and fries for dinner at the hotel before swimming and relaxing in the hot tub.

Sadly, there was no pumpkin pie to be found.

Instead of fighting the crowds for Black Friday shopping- we fought the crowds at the Natural Science and American History Museums at the Smithsonian. We listened to street musicians play buckets and meandered around the Washington Monument. 

Instead of putting up our Christmas tree, drinking egg nog and laying on the couch watching the twinkling lights, we wandered among the crowds at the Holocaust Museum, watched testimonials and read details of people who lived and died under Hitler's rule.  

Instead of calling the people we always call to share Thanksgiving wishes, we went 5 days without being able to text or talk to anyone because we had no cell phone service.

Instead of vacationing with friends it was just us. 
No agenda, no plan, no schedule. 
Just us together doing whatever we felt like; definitely different than the rush, rush we're used to.

And it was good.  Really good. 

And then we came home to what we thought our week would be.   

Instead of being selfish as normal my kids shared. 
Their virus. 
All of them. 
Even shared with the Daddy.

Our schedules were shot but at least work was the same. 

Until Thursday.

When I was invited to a mandatory meeting and told by phone that my job was eliminated. 

Okay, now I'm feeling sick. 

Yep, that's a whole lot of different for one week don't you think? .


Monday, November 26, 2012

Need More Space.

So I came all prepared to blog but instead got a message that I'm out of space.

I gotta think.

Your ideas are welcome.

Be back at 'ya soon.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Missing You!

So this is me
with my Daddy
and my sister.

November 17, 2012

It's been a long time since we'd been together in one place.
As of yesterday, we now reside in three different states spanning Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. 
It may be a very long time before we're together again.

I think I'm pretty sad about that.

Happy Sunday y'all!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shayne Graduated, Let's Eat!

With diploma in hand and a GPA honors worthy, the only thing left to do was party.  

friends came

friends he sees a lot 

and friends he hasn't seen for a long time
they filled our home

and the yard

and meeting for the first time filled our hearts

Grandparents came from far

and Grandparents came from near
even teachers in our hearts held dear
and did I mention the food?

cooking the hot dogs

So party we did.

Happy Monday y'all!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Panic Attack.

My mother-in-law used to tell me that I wasn't okay unless I was "fine".  If I told her I was good, okay or anything else when she asked, she'd say "what's wrong" and she was usually right.

I'm trying to be fine with this whole my son wants to be a marine thing.  

Today, it got to me.  I'm not sure how it invaded my day between meetings and uh, meetings.  But like an uninvited kid showing up at the bathroom door as soon the mommy closes it for 5 minutes of peace and quiet, it was there knocking.

As the waves of nausea rolled over me, I could feel my heart beating in my throat.  I couldn't breathe.

I decided it was a good time for a lunch break so I could get this thing under control.  I gasped my way to the car.  I prayed.

I know I am not the first nor will I be the last momma to have to learn how to stop doing what we've done since before our children took their first breath.  We are designed to make sure our children are safe, and their basic needs are met.  We feed them, cover them to keep them warm, and protect them from sticks and stones and words that hurt. 

I understand the purpose of boot camp.  I know it is necessary.  And I know that once he leaves everything will change.  My control- gone. 

We're in the very first steps of this journey, but I'm already learning some things.  In the midst of my panic today I learned
  • I need to be very selective in what I read 
  • the words of other Marine mommas are very comforting and welcomed
  • I can't pray enough for my son
So indulge us here at 5ALLENZ as I figure out just what a momma is to do when her child wants to be a Marine.  And if you've got it figured out, I'm open to suggestions.

Happy Friday y'all!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

scaring Aunt Nae

Gangster Zombie

Teen Werewolf

Shayne- the cool big brother who spent his evening with us when he didn't have too.

my favorite 3 kids in the world

Trick or Treating at Meemaw's, a tradition we started with Shayne, 17 years ago 

Trick or Treating in our new neighborhood


Isaiah found another wolf

The parents goofing off while the kids play at New Hope's Trunk or Treat

The boys were really into it this year- no longer afraid to say Trick or Treat and Thank You to strangers, but still a little scared of all the decorations- especially moving ones.  They kept saying this is creepy.  But my favorite quote of the night was Isaiah's, when he'd happen upon a living breathing adult in costume and say "hey, you're not a decoration, I know."

Thanks Aunt Teri for tracking us down to bring treats
And lastly, a special shout out to Aunt Nae who not only made us pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from scratch this afternoon (insert YUMMY) but also had homemade cook it on the stove not from a packet hot chocolate waiting for us when we got home tonight. 

Happy Halloween y'all!
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