Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two weeks off!

The past few months have been a real whirlwind. I am sure that is just what happens when you have two careers and two busy kids. I have got a big long list of blog topics on my phone and I am hoping to get to those over the next two weeks as I enjoy my two weeks off. But right now? Just a general catch up is in order.

Let's see... the kids started gymnastics again. This second time around, a year later, is much better for Skadi. She is now in the big kids area and not the little kids area, which is really what she wanted all along. She is quite happy being a gymnast. And same as last time, I have put Leif in gymnastics as well because I would just rather not have him sit next to me with his nose in his DS for an hour every Monday night. Nope, he gets to be out there too. Last year he loved gymnastics, this year a little less so for some reason.

Both kids are in swimming. My Skadi fish has passed up again so that she and Leif are now in the same class. While this reflects great on her, I won't tell you how many years Leif has been in this level. Some day he is going to get it, right? One day it will all click and he will take off.

Leif loves first grade and is doing so well. He has a super teacher and we are just so proud of him.

This year we decided to all volunteer to be shepherds in our church's Living Nativity. Last year AB and Leif did it, while Skadi and I stayed home and held the fort down with many "girl's nights". This year we decided we would all give it a try. I figured that Skadi and I could always bail if it became too much for her (or me). Well that worked until the first rehearsal night when she was picked to be the little shepherd to kiss baby Jesus at each performance. And suddenly we are there and commited for every performance!

Me? Things are good. A lot of changes.

I had a rough year on my one big project dealing with a demanding client, in a difficult funding year, and a team that was ripping apart at the seams. I tried and tried to deal with the team issue and I knew exactly where it was stemming from. One person. One person who was sucking the project dry funding wise, constantly pushing scope in the wrong direction, being divisive among the team, and who, no matter what I tried, I could not trust and nor could most of my coworkers.

After a long year of trying to manage the situation both from the client's side as well as our side, the client made a phone call to my superiors and asked that the person be removed. A day later it was done. It was ugly. It remains ugly. But the project is seriously one of the happy places for all of us now. My team is just this happy little cohesive unit that smiles and jokes and delivers.

It makes me sad actually though. Sad because I always liked this person, until I worked closely with him for a few years. He gave me opportunities, career changing opportunities. And I will never forget that. But I will also keep in mind the actions of someone whose career was spiraling and the desperate accusations made towards me.

On the rare occasion I see him in the hallway he always looks right at me and pushes his glasses up with his middle finger like a junior high kid. And I smile. AB has uttered the words, "hostile work environment". But I am not like that. I can get past it. I can see why he is angry and hurt and seeing his reaction only makes me feel more sorry for him. This is how you deal with adversity? With your middle finger? Well, I am better than that.

We found out last week that we won an award for this project! A big award that involves a cross country trip to receive our award in May. Wheee!

My career has recently catapulted. I managed to pick up five additional projects to manage, one of those to PI, in late September. They have kept me busy. Too busy. Then one of my favored clients had a proposal call and because I was a delinquent in returning proposal ideas for consideration (too much other stuff on my plate and I truly just forgot), I was just handed one to write up. That works. My least favored, but flush with cash, client has issued a proposal call and I have found out that my name is being put on at least 3 proposals as manager. Then on Friday one of the PI's I started working with in October asked me to manage another $3M project he is pulling in.

Yes, I have problems saying no. But my ALD, who was once my boss, once complained to me during lunch one day, "I can't believe that he told me no, that he couldn't take that project. You never say no! You say yes and then you make it happen even if you aren't the one doing the work. Delegate." My next goal starting in January is to build a team of project managers. Ones I know and trust and who can adapt to my style (if needed) and who can help me with the nearly $8M worth of projects I am presently sitting on with hopes for another few mill on top of that for the coming year.

Given all this, you would think my management would call it a good year for me. Wrong. After two years of exceeding expectations, I have apparently faltered.

I call it that I am being punished for the above issue concerning my coworker. He is the "popular" one in my group.

I can't quite figure out how I can be an author on more papers, have more deliverables, be in higher demand, but have dropped a couple notches in my manager's perspectives. This whole review process has never made much sense to me.

I made a snap decision the other day. Actually it was a decision I have been mulling over for a year and have discussed with my mentor and a few other people in higher ranking positions. But after reading my review I made the snap decision to jump ship over to the manager ladder. After all, it is those requirements that I am meeting, not the scientist ones so much anymore. According to my mentor I am functioning two levels above the manager level I map to. Time to make that change and start receiving credit for my work.

So at the first of the year I become one of the pointy haired sorts.

The other change? Early this fall I made the decision to drop to less than full time. But... I take a lot of calls at home. I always have a surplus of hours (I haven't had to actually USE vacation time for anything until this two weeks off). And I have 3-4 trips coming up this spring, which becomes a sink for hours typically speaking.

When I made the change my management told me, "just make sure you are getting paid for the hours you are working".

I need to either turn off, or get paid for it. And it is hard, so very hard, to turn it off. Especially when I have big deliverables and procurements to approve and visiting scientists that I am hosting who need things. I will be working from home the rest of my hours and going back to full time starting in February.

So there it is. My work update. And bits of updates on my kids. More on them to come over the next few days!

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