Archive | November, 2007

Are We Done Yet?

30 Nov

The end is in sight.  I’m in the fourth day of all day meetings and all night dinners (lasting until almost 11pm).  I have been meeting with people from all across the world.  Just last night at dinner, I sat with a Canadian living in Singapore, a Russian, a Britt, people from Ireland and an Australian.  I’ve met a guy from Yugoslavia, and people from Japan, Mexico and Ireland.  It makes for interesting dinner conversation, that’s for sure.  I think I’m getting better and understanding all of these accents.

So Little Miss is on the mend, and I can’t wait to see her when I get home.  It was a hard week to be away, and our reunion will be that much sweeter.

This afternoon, I think a few of us are going to downtown Seattle to actually enjoy ourselves a bit before the flight out late tonight.  Lord knows we deserve it!

Who Did You Say Was Attending?!

28 Nov

About 10 minutes before I was scheduled to do a presentation to my peers, I was informed that my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss (i.e. 4 management levels up) would be attending.  EXCUSE ME?!

Internal panic ensued.  I ranted to myself about how I would have created the presentation much differently if I had known this big wig would be attending, regretted my wardrobe choice, and then frantically reviewed my slides.  Thankfully it went smoothly.  Crisis averted, but man, was that an adrenaline rush!

Hunt and PECK

26 Nov

I hope everyone had a great holiday.  We sure did, as it included a lot of quality family time, relaxing, and good food and drink.  We flew with Little Miss to visit her Grandparents in the Bay Area, and she did remarkably well on the flight, despite us being on the delayed last flight of the day on the #1 and #2 most traveled days of the year. 

We went to a really nice restaurant for Thanksgiving, and she was a little angel until about the time the entrees arrived.  At that point, she hit the wall, and entered tantrum land, from which there is no return.  I ended up taking her outside and letting her wail, as she didn’t want to be held, but wanted to stand by a trash can and cry it out.  Ah, life with a toddler.

On Saturday, we took her to Ardenwood Historic Farm, where she joined in the Barnyard Buddies program and got to help feed the farm animals.  We saw clydesdale horses, cows (including a week old calf), sheep, lambs, chickens and bunnies.  All was well until the poor kid got pecked by a chicken, to the point that it drew blood.  Luckily, we cleaned her up and found a display where they were serving hot chocolate chip cookies made in a wood burning stove, and all was better.

We got home last night around 10:30pm, and Little Miss was in bed by 11pm.  I unpacked, and then packed for a business trip (leaving this afternoon), and right as I got comfortable in my own bed, she started crying.  Little Miss then stayed up until 1:30am, which was loads of fun, but I guess that’s what we get for getting her so off her routine.

So after spending one night in my bed, I am heading to Seattle this afternoon for a lovely (said with sarcasm) 4 day meeting, consisting of days where I’m booked from 8am to 9pm, and I’m somehow supposed to keep up with the hundreds of emails I’ll be receiving while I’m in those meetings.  I guess I won’t be sleeping much, eh?

Anyway, don’t expect to hear too much from me this week.  Toodles.

Updated to add:  The fun just keeps getting better.  Daycare just called, and looks like Little Miss has been exposed to Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, and has blisters in her mouth.  Hence, she is kicked out until further notice and I’m about to go get on a plane.  Lovely timing, I tell you!

Updated later to add:  blisters in mouth and on hands and feet have been confirmed.  Calling in the emergency backup support.  It’s days like these (as I have a trip I cannot get out of) that being a working mom just plain sucks.

Gobble Gobble

22 Nov

I have so much to be thankful for, but no time to list it all in a thoughtful manner.  So I’ll just say that superficially, I am so glad that Thanksgiving will include a quiet affair with just my in-laws and going to a nice restaurant.  I hear all my co-workers talking about 20+ family members coming to dinner and cooking multiple turkeys, and can’t help but think that my day will be so much more relaxing!  And now I turn off my computer, and hope to keep it off until Sunday.  Adieu!

Just Wait Until JB Finds Out

20 Nov

I blame it on my co-workers who told me ghost stories yesterday.

I’ve mentioned on this site before how I have lucid dreams occasionally, where my dreams are so real that they invoke me to take physical action, usually including screaming and leaping out of bed in the middle of the night.

JB was away on an overnight business trip last night, at at about 2am, I distinctly thought someone was standing in my bedroom, so I yelled at the top of my lungs and threw my pillow with all of my might.

That is when I heard a crash.  I somehow managed to hit the lamp on my night stand, and it fell to the ground, shattering into many pieces.  I had no idea what the crash was, but once I turned on the light and saw the carnage, all I could think was, “JB is going to have a field day with this.”

And then I couldn’t get back to sleep because I was so bugged that I now need to add buying a new lamp to my never ending list of to-dos. 

Remarkably, I somehow didn’t manage to wake the toddler sleeping in the next room.

Jumping To Injury (twice in one post)

20 Nov

On Saturday, the hubby was under the weather, so Little Miss and I took off for a girl’s day.  We started by meeting some friends at the park, then went to tour the Lake Mansion in downtown Reno, where they were having an open house and pictures with Santa.  When we walked in, Santa said ‘ho, ho, ho’, and Little Miss got very frightened, which is how we ended up with a picture of me in my sweats (totally unprepared for a pic) holding a cowering toddler as Santa stood behind us. 

From there, we went to watch the guys that were jumping off a ski jump on top of the Silver Legacy Casino.  Unfortunately, due to wind conditions and a jumper getting injured earlier in the day, they didn’t jump when I was there.  But I looked up the video online, as I was especially curious to see Jesse Hall, who got his ski caught in his parachute lines and blew out his knee in the process.  I’m sure glad nothing more serious happened, and it definitely makes for some dramatic video.

Here is the video.

Now how many cities can claim that they’ve had guys going off of ski jumps off of a 40 story building?  One.  That would be Reno.  Talk about ‘America’s Adventure Place’! Read the article.

Anyway, the next day, JB took Little Miss to the park while I went trial running.  Trail running is my new pass-time on the weekends.  It is a really hard workout, but is almost therapeutic to be running in the crisp Fall air with the leaves on the ground. 

Unfortunately, Little Miss fell on the playground, and hurt her shoulder.  I spent the afternoon consoling her, and this morning, she woke up screaming in pain.  We determined she needed to go to a doctor.  I spent the morning taking her to the doc, and just like always, she seemed to have a miraculous recovery right before the doctor walked into the office, and I ended up trying to explain why I’m not insane for bring my perfectly well child into the doctor.  She’s still a bit sore, but the doc and I think she will be A-OK in a few days.  She got a sticker for putting up with the doc’s poking and prodding, and seems to be none worse the wear.  And yes, I’m glad for that outcome.

That’s all that is happening around here.  Two dramatic falls in one weekend.  Looking forward to a short work week!

No Foolin’ This Kid

12 Nov

I had been seeking a copy of Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook for about three weeks now, ever since seeing it on the Oprah Show.  You see, for about two months now, Little Miss has been on a vegetable strike.  Up until about September, I had a kid that would eat a wide variety of foods and most of the vegetables I prepared.  Now, she’s picky.  She won’t eat anything that LOOKS remotely different than the small palate of favorites that she chooses. 

So the premise of this cookbook is how to incorporate vegetable purees into healthy and kid-friendly foods.  As soon as I saw it on Oprah, I knew that was going to be my next plan in trying to get my toddler to eat healthy.  Unfortunately, the publisher WAY underestimated the demand for the book, so it has been very hard to locate.  I ended up mail ordering it and paying a bit of a premium to get it before the next printing is available in 5-6 weeks.

Anyway, the book arrived on Friday, I read through it on Saturday, and made up some vegetable purees on Sunday.  Last night, I made homemade maraconi and cheese, fortified with cauliflower and carrot.  It tasted delicious.

Too bad Little Miss refused it.

JB is happy, as now he has an entire batch of homemade macaroni and cheese to devour without scrutiny.  I’m hoping it was just her mood, and we’ll try it again today, but after all that build up, it was very frustrating to have my ‘deceptively delicious’ food outright refused.

Ah, life with a toddler…

Updated to add:  Just called daycare, who said she’s having a great day, but wouldn’t eat her Mac N’ Cheese.  Refused twice!

Recent Pics

10 Nov

Just uploaded the last batch of photos.  Enjoy!

Little Miss Update… Almost 21 Months

10 Nov

Little Miss has recently started speaking in sentences.  And I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised every time I hear a full sentence come out of her mouth.  For instance, last night, she came up to me and said, “I want my milk.” 

I hesitated a bit to digest that she had just spoken a very clear sentence, after almost 21 months of working up to this feat.   I gave her the milk, she drank some, and then went about her business (dancing, more on that later).  I later told her it was time to go get ready for bed, and she said, “I WANT MORE MILK.”

So I replied, “then go get your milk,” as it was sitting on the coffee table.  And low and behold, she did.  That’s when I realized, that we’ve advanced from one way communication and we just had a very efficient exchange.  It just feels like all of a sudden a light went off in her head, and low and behold, we have sentences.

Her very first sentence was, “I love you,” which melts my heart every time I hear it.  I prompt her to say it a lot, and though I know she can’t grasp the entire concept of love, it is a bit of reward for all of those sleepless nights, crying fits, etc.

So now on to her most favorite pass-time lately, dancing.  It’s like Dance Dance Revolution in our house every single day.  We have like 4 children’s CDs, and JB and I are admittedly sick of them, as we hear them way too much.  She is constantly asking to “DANCE!”, and she’ll go up to the CD player, motion towards it, and start dancing just in case we didn’t get the message.  Neither her father or myself can resist such a cute request, so it’s constantly on.  She wants to dance even before breakfast.  We recently tried to get her dancing to adult music, such as country, rock, Frank Sinatra and even big band.  All were rejected.  She will throw a tantrum until you put on the kiddie CDs. 

Now she’s taking it to the next level, making song requests.  Her favorite songs are “Pop!” (Pop Goes the Weasel) and “Duck” (Six Little Ducks).  She wants to hear them over and over and over.  It’s to the point that both JB and I will burst into kiddie songs unconsciously at random points during the day, and we’ll usually wake up in the morning with one of those songs in our heads.  It is out of control.  To my In-laws, who started all of this, YOU HAVE CREATED A MONSTER.  OK, yes, a very cute monster, and we can’t resist her, but we may have to do some pay-back by singing to you our new medley of songs!

I have a new shipment of children’s CDs that are arriving at my house today, and I am excited to at least add a bit of variety to this insanity. 

So I’ll leave you with that this Friday afternoon.  Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Video Shot In Reno

6 Nov

You have to check out this Modest Mouse video, which was shot in Reno.  It stars the son of a friend of mine, Dave LaPlante.  You can read the write up of the video in the Reno Gazette Journal here, but basically, it depicts a woman taking her terminally ill child to all the places they used to visit.  It is shot in reverse time, and the video itself is pretty haunting.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch your child playing this role.  That must have been hard, but it really is a beautiful portrayal of love.

So here it is.  Keep an eye out for the hospital scenes, which were shot in the hospital where Little Miss was born.  And one big shout out to Dave, who has kids that just ooze cool from their pores. 

Baby Bellin Makes A Debut (AND NO I’M NOT PREGNANT)

6 Nov

I just put my non-existant infant on a wait list for a daycare.

How insane is that?  I’ve been trying to get Little Miss into another daycare since February.  I called last week to check on her status on the list, and was told that we’re at least another year from getting into that daycare.  I then asked how long the list was for infants.

“Basically, if someone gets on the list when they’re pregnant, we can usually get the child in by the time they’re three years old,” was the response.

That is just out of control.  Anyone want to open a daycare in Reno?!  Anyway, I got to thinking…  We do plan on having a second child, and it would be best to have both kids in the same daycare, and I do hope to have that second child within the next three years, so I should get on their list.

I called and lied, saying I was pregnant, so that I could get on their list.  I even had to tell them my due date, which had me fumbling a bit.  So Baby Bellin, the child who is only a twinkle in his/her parents eyes right now is on a daycare list.  That thought has me shaking my head in disbelief, but I really think that’s what needed to be done.

And you should have seen my reaction recently when a co-worker, who is 8 months pregnant, told me she kept meaning to get on daycare lists, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  I think my eyes about popped out of my head.   

Cruise Pics and Ramblings

5 Nov

I finally got the pictures developed from the underwater disposable camera I took on our cruise.  I am horribly disappointed with the quality of these pics, and it was pretty darn expensive once you pay for the camera and the developing! 

Anyway, these pics show our Mazatlan ocean kayaking excursion and our Cabo San Lucas snorkel excursion.  The kayaking was a blast.  They basically took us out and around this little rocky island with a ton of birds.  We were in a two person kayak, and the guides said that the person in back was the ‘captain’.  Of course, JB stepped up to the task, and took it very seriously.  I do have to say that we had a good groove going on with our kayak, especially as is counted out like drill seargent “left, right, left, right”.  After the kayaking, which lasted about 45 minutes and was over way too soon, we had some time to burn, so we body surfed for at least an hour.  JB, who went to college near the beach, is awesome at catching waves.  I caught a couple, and one even took my swim suit top off!  (Don’t worry, family, no one saw!)  After our beach time in Mazatlan, we met my cousin and her family on board another Princess ship for lunch.

The next day we went to Cabo San Lucas for snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez.  We were in a tour with a bunch of tentative swimmers, who were shocked when we asked if we could ditch the life jackets, and then jumped in and swam to a far off cove for some uninterrupted snorkeling.  The rest of our tour group stayed about 10 feet from the boat.  Our guide then caught up with us and had managed to catch a blowfish.  He told me to go get my underwater camera, and then took some pictures of me holding the blowfish.  This was way too cool, and one of the highlights of my trip.  It was all slimy, and I could feel it trying to puff up bigger as I held it. 

You’ll then see a picture of JB eating the infamous meal at Cabo Wabos that made both of us SICK, and landed me in quarantine in our room for about 14 hours.  I swear almost one month later, our guts are just now recovering.  As for how I was the ony one to get quarantined, I was the only one stupid enough to believe the postings I had seen saying that if you had stomach issues, you would get treated for free.  What really happened is that as soon as I mentioned that I had stomach issues (a PC way of saying it), the on board doctor and two nurses announced that I was to be quarantined and could not leave my room.  That is NOT what you want to hear when you’re paying a lot of money to be on a vacation! (Since Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships, they take any reports of stomach ailments very seriously.  And I didn’t even have Norovirus!!!)

I ended up back in our room crying as I was going to miss formal night with the lobster dinner.  I sent JB to dinner without me, as I didn’t want him to pay for my stupidity.  Anyhow, minutes after I returned to my room, a team of sanitizers dressed in white suits and masks.  They wiped down the entire room, including the walls in the bedroom area, which I found pretty funny.  I kept expecting them to put some crazy quarantine sign outside our door.  And of course, the only thing playing on the cruise TV was 1980s movies, so I spent the night watching When Harry Met Sally and Pretty Woman feeling pretty sorry for myself. 

The next morning I was feeling better, and I managed to convince the ship doctor to let me out of quarantine just in time for spin class.  We took three spin classes on the ship, which were excellent, and kept us in good shape.  In fact, I love traveling with my hubby, who is just as nutty as I am about working out.  He didn’t bat an eye when I asked if he wanted to work out twice in one day on our at-sea days, and we’d work out after our excursions on the other days. 

Anyway, to end my rambling, we both ended up losing weight on our cruise, thanks to the crazy gut issue and working out a lot.  I guess I’ll wrap up my comments on the cruise with the only thing that really annoyed us, which was the Cruise Staff that seemed to show up at every bar/party we attended.  We’d be dancing and having a great time, and then the Cruise Staff would show up and start at least an hour of cheesy line dancing songs, like the Marcarena, Electric Slide, Tush Push, etc.  The first night, we humored it, but after six nights of this (the same line dance songs every night!), we were ready to empty our drinks on their heads!

Alright, enough rambling.  Enjoy the rest of our vacation pics!

Women’s Conference: Flexible Work

2 Nov

On to another hot topic for me from last week’s Women’s Conference, flexible work.  I swear almost every session I was in touched on work life balance, and the flexible work concept ripped my eyes open to the fact that it is possible to still have a rewarding, upwardly mobile career while working either reduced hours or in a job share. 

Two of the speakers that floored me the most were women in executive management, reporting into a Vice President of my super huge software company, and THEY WERE IN A JOB SHARE.  I always assumed that job sharing would mean that you were in a lower, more administrative position, but these women were in a strategic leadership position, managing an entire team of people in a job share.  It blew my mind.

The way they worked it was by not splitting up tasks, but by splitting up their commitments (formal commitments you make to your company about what you will accomplish).  They meet every day for at least 30 minutes, and stay abreast on what the other is doing so that either one of them can act as a single point of contact for that role.  WOW.  That is so inspiring. 

There were also a few presenters that were working reduced hours.  One woman had been working 20 hours per week for the past 10 years, and had even managed to get promoted in that time frame.  She said the key was that you do the same high quality work, but just less of it.  For example, if you’re a project manager, you’ll still manage projects, just have less of them.  Great concept! 

Telework and flex-time were other concepts discussed, as there were mothers saying that they flex their schedule so that they can be home when their kids get off of school, so they work some time from home.  The key to that, they said, is that you be available via email or cell phone at all times for any specific questions.  I think that’s a fair trade-off for being able to step out of the traditional 8-5 and be able to be there for your family when you want to be.

The fact is that women make up a significant part of the workforce, and if companies restrict them to rigid work hours without flexibility, they will lose those women.  My company is taking steps to address the needs of these women, which is so encouraging.  It might take a while to bring that philosophy to the Reno office, but at least I know that when I want that kind of situation, I have a good business case, and proven examples of this working at the corporate headquarters.

As for dealing with the guilt that all working mothers struggle with, we were told to set your priorities and stick to them.  This has worked for me, as I clearly draw the line when I’m at home, I’m done with work and I’m 100% tuned into my family.  Although my time with my daughter is limited by me working right now, I make sure that the time I spend with her is really high quality — no TV, no telephone, and a lot of one on one attention. 

And when you’re at work, focus on getting your work done at the same high quality as it always has been, and you can prove to your management that flexible work can be a win-win arrangement.

Do any of you out there have flexible work arrangements that you can share?  This is really an inspiring topic for me, and I’d love to keep the discussion going.

Women’s Conference: Finances

2 Nov

I know last Friday I promised you all kinds of great content from the Women’s Conference I attended last week.  Well, then life got in the way.  The whole month of October was a blur, as I traveled every other week and the weeks I wasn’t traveling, I was struggling to catch up at home and at work.

And now I’m staring at my notes with such great content, but wondering how to slice and dice it for all of you so that it makes sense. 

We’ll start with Women and Finances, as that was a big topic of discussion.  The first speaker I’ll discuss was Lois P. Frankel, author of Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich.  She started off her talk asking the audience what were the messages we received about money as we were growing up.  Some of those were:

  • Men take care of the finances (because they’re good with numbers, and women aren’t)
  • We’re taught to be nice girls, and to have people like us (if women are powerful, they are called a B-I-T-C-H, where as powerful men are called successful)
  • Don’t have uncomfortable conversations (such as those about money)
  • If you work hard, you will be rewarded
  • Don’t worry about your education, your income will be “extra”

And the key is that now most women are working outside of the household, and it’s time for us to stop being NICE and to start managing our finances.  We need to stop saving our money and start INVESTING it.  We need to have the goal of being rich, which is defined as having all the money you need to live the life you want, free from concerns about money.

Another big topic she covered is that women are by nature caretakers.  Women tend to go into nurturing professions, which include teaching, nursing, etc, and notice that those are the most underpaid professions.  She asked the audience how many of us were told that we should be teachers, and almost everyone raised their hands.  She then asked how many of our brothers were told to be teachers, and almost no one raised their hands.  I’m not saying that teaching isn’t an honorable profession, just pointing out how women tend to be socialized to take lower paying positions. 

And why are those care giving professions so underpaid?!  It is wrong, as where would our society be without teachers and nurses?  We need to start standing up and demanding that those people get more pay.

She also talked a lot about socializing today’s girls, noting that at 13, they tend to “dumb down” because that’s what they believe they need to do to get people to like them.  We need to teach them to save, to give back through philanthropy, the difference between wants/needs, and we need to have open conversations with them about the household finances. 

That leads into a second speaker, Valerie Morris, a former CNN correspondent, who recommended that teenagers should sit down with you when you pay bills so that they can see how much money is required on a monthly basis to keep the lifestyle you enjoy.  That is a huge concept to me, as we never talked about money much in my household.  (Not to say my parents did it wrong, as they instilled a very healthy philosophy of money within all of their kids).  I’m just saying that this is a new generation, and one way to combat this culture of greed that seems to be overcoming tweens and teens these days is to teach them openly about finances.

She said that at retirement age, 90% of women will be responsible for their own financial well being, and that the average age of widow-hood in the US is 55.

WOW.  I sure hope to God that doesn’t happen, but I had no idea about that statistic.  It does make a case for women to make sure they are financially secure for themselves, and not just relying on their husbands.  She was actually talking about leadership, and said that every day we lead, and for many of us, we are leading our children.  Teaching our children about finances is our own act of leadership.  She suggested that you start teaching children about finances at age 3, giving them four piggie banks:  one for college, one for something special, one for giving/philanthropy, and things you want. 

She said that you teach your children about needs and wants by telling them that parents will cover their needs (clothes, food, etc.), and they will pay out of their piggie banks for their wants (parents can contribute if they think it’s appropriate).  But importantly, there should be a philanthropy component in everything we do — as adults and children. 

She then said that we give our children two gifts — roots and wings.  The wings are the harder gift to give.  But the biggest gift of all that we can give our children is our own financial independence in retirement (otherwise, it will be a huge burden to them).  As for the trend of 20 somethings returning to their parents’ houses after college, she stressed that at age 20, you’re “off the payroll”, and if they return home, they need to be paying rent, for food, and to have a plan for getting out on their own.  Because all those adult children are doing by returning to the nest is spending their parents money that should have been theirs for retirement.

I hope some of my rambling made sense to you.  I came out of these sessions feeling thankful for the way I was raised, as my parents truly taught all their kids a sound financial philosophy, and I have some great ideas now for teaching my daughter about finances in this ever changing world.  I feel a bit more armed against those marketers that are just waiting to target her with their ads, toys, etc.  I’m also committed to more actively manage my 401K and savings accounts.

Edited to add:  Another thing that Lois P. Frankel said is that women are socialized to think they aren’t good at math.  The truth is that girl’s brains don’t develop to start comprehending advanced math until 11th or 12th grade.  We need to be teaching our girls math in a way that works for them, and advancing those teachings when appropriate.  It’s something to keep in mind as our daughters enter the education system.  I know I struggled a lot with math, and I think a lot of that was my attitude towards it.  And the ironic part is that I deal with math on a DAILY basis, both at work and at home.