Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Study, Study, study...

that's what I've been up to, studying! After the first weekend attending the Life, Health and Annuities course, I truly felt like it was hopeless. I finished the course Sunday, and I can say in good conscience, i feel pretty good about it! I took the final exam in the book today for 'practice', and on the Life Insurance portion I got an 88 percent! I think if I hadn't been getting up and down, answering to whining, tattling children I think I could have possibly gotten a 100 percent! Our neighbor child spent the night last night, after spending the afternoon with my kids, and she's been here all day today, up until about 20 minutes ago! They finally left and went to her house! Yay! Back to the studying, I was originally worried about agreeing to possibly testing on Friday of this week for the state license exam, fearing there would be no way I'd be prepared. After spending the last two days attached to the book, I think I'll be properly prepared. In fact, I'm feeling like I don't really want to have to wait beyond Friday, because I don't want to spend yet another weekend glued to this book! Enough already! I get it! Just please don't ask me too much about the dreaded annuity subject! LOL!

Yesterday morning, I made a panicked call to the dentists office, after breaking off the back of one of my upper molars this weekend. They answer their phones at 8:30. I finally got through at 8:45. She said, if you can be here at 9am, we can see you. Umm, you're on Blanding at Kingsley, and I'm in Green Cove... She said, get here between 9 and 9:15 and we'll see you. Okay! I called Jenny and asked her if she'd be home, but she had to go back to her dentist to get her permanent crown on, so not available. As an aside, her crown didn't fit, and she' returning on July 8th, the same day I go back for my permanent crown. I explained no job, no insurance, and they offered a discount plan, which really did save me quite a bit, but oh my, it's still so horribly expensive to get a crown! John and I had a bet that a crown would cost about a thousand dollars, and I said no way! He won the bet! The other option was having it pulled, and John told me go ahead and get the crown. Having it pulled would just mess up my bite, and he didn't want me to have to live with a 'gappy smile", knowing that it would bother me! I was hesitant to return to this dentist office, because the last crown, which was my first experience didn't go so well. I found the entire procedure that time to be miserable, and haven't been happy with it since. This time, was completely opposite! I didn't feel much. This new dentist in the office is young, probably around my age, female, and on the money! I didn't even feel the injection! That's saying something. I finally half way through the procedure was able to relax, and let the muscle spasm settle down in my back! I'll go back in July to get the permanent crown! On the positive side, assuming I pass my state exam, I'll be self-employed, and I can claim 100% of my medical and dental expenses on my taxes. (I also realized I can't refer to it as "tax return" since it's all about paying in taxes when one is self employed!)

After my dentist appointment yesterday, I went to pick the kids up at my mother in law's house. I called her when Jenny wasn't available, and she said she'd meet me at the dentist office. Thank you, Judy! After the kids ate lunch, she made them a banana split, and served them in glass banana shaped dishes. It came about later that these dishes belonged to her father's aunt. Well, my kids being who they are, kept pushing each other, and tipping chairs. I heard a thud and a grunt, and got up to find Daniel on the floor, chair tipped over. It took a second, then I saw the broken glass, and shouted "Don't move!" I managed to pick up the glass and ice cream, and Judy grabbed Daniel. She started cleaning him up, thinking he had chocolate syrup on him, only to find some of it was blood! When the dish shattered, it cut a piece out of the side of his leg. It was one of those nasty cuts, that you question, should we go to the emergency room? The glass took out a piece of the top flesh, and exposed a good piece. It didn't bleed heavily, it just took a while to stop. We knew stitches weren't possible because there was nothing to pull together on the side of his calf. I just kept changing band-aids yesterday, and told them the pool was off limits yesterday, and for a few days, just for good measure. Of course, I didn't think about sidewalk chalk, and I can tell you he's covered in it this afternoon. He's not looking forward to the peroxide treatment again, but we've explained to him, it's a necessary evil!

This evening, I'll study up again on the Health side of insurance, and legal contracts concerning health and life insurance. Such fun! Tomorrow some time, I should find out when I'll be scheduled to take the pending exam!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Starting to feel a little better...

Yesterday I went back for session 2 in the Life, Health and Annuities class. Ugh! Not the most exciting of subjects, that is certain! Sunday's session went over Law and Contracts, the various types of Term Life and wow, the many versions of whole life and universal life, and then went into annuities. I was so lost in annuities. So many people in the class seemed to have lots to say about this subject. I just don't get annuities. But then, I also keep my investments in conservative funds. In fact my last 401K sat in a money market, because no way was I going to gamble with that! It's hard to grasp a concept of something that you just don't "buy into". Didn't really intend the pun there, but it works! I found it hilarious that the Annuities chapter in the book is Chapter 11. The one topic that "scares the old people" according to the instructor resides in Chapter 11. I made a joke about it, but I don't think he got the "oxymoron" reference I made. Chapter 11 bankruptcy versus annuities. Maybe it will always remain my own little joke!

By the end of the day my brain was completely fried, and my morale feeling less than great. In fact, I compared my feelings to being on the "raw edge of the fight or flight mechanism". I was so overwhelmed yesterday by the end of the day I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say "I quit!". Sitting on the sofa, John asked if I had a headache. My response was "No, just feeling rather overwhelmed!" I told John today, if I'd ever been exposed to the subject of insurance and annuities before, it wouldn't have felt so hopeless. Instead this is a ton of subject matter in a short period of time, that is completely foreign! Today I spent a lot of time with the book in hand, and reviewed the first few chapters. I also went to the instructor's website and looked at his questions. His website has 800 questions (400 life & annuities, and 400 health questions) that are similar to what is supposed to be on the state's test. It's a good website, and every answer tells you if you answered it wrong, why it is wrong. If you pick the correct answer, it tells in more detail why it's right. The idea is to continue on his website as well as the book until you know with great confidence all questions and the correct answers without hesitation! There's only 150 questions on the state's exams, so you've got a pretty good chance! I did the tests in 4 chapters plus answered some on his website and found out today I know more than I thought I did! This is boosting my confidence and making it easier to approach the subject with more of an open mind, rather than feeling like a kid that's been shut in their room with their school book and forbidden to leave until their homework is done. (It's what I am at the moment, but it doesn't feel quite so hopeless now!) Maybe I should try putting the book under my pillow at night and see how much I can absorb by osmosis. Haha!

This morning, before getting started into the world of insurance, the kids and I rode with our friends Amy, Caroline and AnnaBeth to their church, Hibernia Baptist Church. Caroline invited Hanna to attend the Kindergarten/1st grade VBS this week, and Daniel and I went along to make sure the correct consent forms were signed. The girls saw a few other kids from the neighborhood and their school (including the slow kid, wink wink) and were feeling pretty good about settling in. Amy brought Daniel and I home, and then we loaded up to Wal-Mart to do our grocery shopping I wasn't able to achieve this weekend since I wasn't home. We got the pool vacuumed, filled up a bit, and shocked, ready for the afternoon's entertainment. Hanna was home around 12:30, and after a small PB&J lunch, the kids went out to play in the pool for the afternoon. It made it easy for me to sit out there with my book, and oversee their activities over the edge of my new appendage!

Since John worked overtime this weekend, the yard went unattended, so tomorrow morning before we start anything else, ie STUDYING, Daniel and I will take care of mowing the yard.Lots more studying to do, and hopefully reading the chapters that will be covered next weekend! After the completion of the test next week, I will be instructed when and where to go to take the state's test. It will be sometime between that following Monday and the end of June. (I think that's pretty much that week... )

Saturday, June 13, 2009

School is not for the weary!

Last week I went through a 3 step interview process for a insurance company. It was really a grueling process. So I thought. I've found out since, school is even more grueling! The first interview was an introduction to Bankers Life and Casualty, and the recruiting process they've begun looking for new agents. The first session was called a "career opportunity seminar", and lasted about an hour and a half. At the end of that training session there was a questionnaire, in which the participants answered a few questions about their "needs" in a career, and if they thought joining the Bankers team would fulfill those needs. The questionnaire allowed them to decide if you might meet their needs. I must have, because they called me back for a second interview. The second interview was a 3 hour session in which the Sales Manager for the Jacksonville branch explained the process of being a "career agent" with Bankers and what one could expect if asked to join the team. Once again, if this seemed to meet your needs and you didn't feel the urge to run like the wind, you filled out another questionnaire, and if they liked your answers yet again, they would call you back for an one on one interview. They liked my answers and I went back on Thursday morning for the third and final interview with the Jacksonville branch manager. He's a younger man, I suspect younger than I am, but he definitely knows the business, and what he's looking for in a team to grow his branch into the number one branch in US for Bankers. After a one hour interview with him, Keith extended the offer for me to join the Bankers team in Jacksonville. I didn't need time to consider the offer, since John and I had had an extended "what if" conversation the night before and agreed we'd give this a shot.

After many applications that have gone unanswered, John and I both agreed the job market in the "traditional" sense has dried up somewhat and if I want to try to make a career, it may be time to make a change. Being a career agent for Bankers means selling supplemental insurance for Medicare as well as life insurance, and annuities. Not something I thought I'd ever be doing, that's for certain. However, I have been driven for years with a desire to own my own business. To have ownership in my career, and have something I can truly be proud of. John and I feel this is God's hand putting this into motion, and giving us a chance for a new start. We really have very little to lose at this point, since it's not like I'm leaving an existing job, merely taking a chance for something new!

Part of the conditions for going to work for Bankers is that I have to have my insurance agent's license before I can begin their training in the office in Jacksonville. He offered the class this weekend and next, 4-days for 10 hours each that goes over the state exam in detail. The class is offered online, but Keith, the branch manager prefers a one on one teaching environment. I had to answer fast to take advantage of today's class in order to begin training in July. If not, I would have to take the class and exam in July, and wouldn't be able to begin training with the Jacksonville office staff until August. Today I went to the 10 hour class, session 1. My brain feels like mush and my rear-end is sore from sitting all day long with very little activity. On top of the in depth knowledge I gained today about the lines of insurance as well as the insurance code of ethics I learned the importance of bringing a sweater! It was very chilly in the classroom today! We were able to be casual, so I had on capri pants and sandals. Tomorrow I will take a sweater and wear jeans and a t-shirt in hopes to be warmer. I'll also take a few snacks to eat during the breaks, since it made for a very long day, and lunch just wasn't quite enough!

Of course, the session had lots of warnings about the importance of studying and how some fail to see the importance of learning the book from cover to cover. It isn't uncommon for some to not pass the test the first time. I suspect these people have the belief that if you attend the class and lightly review the book you can pass. The reiteration was strong today to memorize the book! The instructor offers a website for test review and lots of sample questions to help his students familiarize themselves with the ideas of the real test. I'm not looking forward to it, and I've always been lacking in the area of studying and commitment! However, at this point in life, I strongly believe failure is not an option, as it affects not only me but my entire family's future! I have said so many prayers for God's guidance and strength and wisdom to do what I need to make my family proud of me!

School's hard! Sheesh! :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Schools out!

Yesterday brought the end of the school year, and the end of Hanna's first year in elementary school. Wednesday morning, the kindergarten class had a ceremony where each child crossed over a bridge, and received a mock diploma. I took pictures, but the stage has a black curtain, and the pictures didn't come out well at all. Here she is on her last day of school. I've been trying to post the pictures I took on her first day of school, but what I have found is that I didn't post it on any of my internet posting spots.. and, the "cd" I have of all my backed up photos from my old laptop, is actually a dvd, and this pc only has a cd rom. Bummer! I'll figure out a way to either convert the pc to a cd/dvd-rom OR... convert them to cd's once I have a job with income!

Back to the last day of school. What I found most moving about the day was the departure. As the buses were pulling out, the drivers honked the horns in celebration, the kids were waving at the teachers in the bus loading zone, and the teachers were waving back, and yelling "Have a great summer!" As much as I was proud for Hanna and her friends finishing their kindergarten year, it made me sad that it was over. We saw Ms. Kelly, Hanna called out and waved, and we honked our horn good-bye to her as well! Hanna started to cry in the car, and said she didn't want to go to first grade, she wanted to stay with Ms. Kelly, her teacher this year. This brought tears to my eyes too, as I tried to explain to her that next year, she'll have a first grade teacher that she will like just as much as Ms. Kelly, and will want to stay with her at the end of the year too! I am impressed with what they learned in kindergarten. It wasn't at all what my kindergarten year was like in 1975-76. When I went to kindergarten, we learned the letters, danced with big blow-up characters of each letter, we learned colors, and maybe looked at clocks. We had snack, quiet time, and went home at noon. Kindergarten in 2008-09 was much different. They had to know their numbers and letters going into kindergarten, and write their names. By the end of the year, they were reading books by themselves! Hanna became a member of the "100 club", meaning she could count to 100 all by herself, she had a list of spelling/sight words that she mastered, and even learned about time and addition and subtraction! They stayed in school all day!

Today marks the first day of summer vacation. It's 10:30 and I've already refused multiple requests for popsicles, bubble gum and snacks! They seem to think the goal of staying home is to eat as much as possible. While I have been given a "gift" by staying home with my children this summer, I also think it's going to be a long summer!