Saturday, December 31, 2011


Phew! Goodbye 2011. It wasn't a bad year here. As all years tend to go, it just went fast. Wasn't 2011 just starting?

One nice thing about working where I do is that learning to write 2012 isn't hard. I have been writing it for three whole months now.

Every year I sent out to do monthly goals. And in the first few months of the year, usually January through May, I really kick butt. Then I either take the summer off, or we tackle a larger project. Then a few more monthly goals in the fall before the Holidays take over. It works for me.

But honestly, I haven't given my monthly goals much thought.

I had a huge list of goals for my just over two weeks off in December and managed to hit all of them (make chicken pot pies, make lefse, make chili, make latkes, make bolognese sauce, clean and organize Leif's closet and room, clean and organize Skadi's room, help AB install the dining room floor) except three. And the three I didn't hit aren't major - I didn't get the trailer cleaned like I had planned. And I didn't get the two planned playdates done with other kids we don't normally have playdates with. Maybe if I got return e-mails from the two other parents, the playdates would have worked out...

So with any luck we will have our dining room completely done on January 1.

My list of things to do during 2012 is long, but not really organized in a monthly fashion...

Empty the office.
Finish painting the office.
Rip up the carpet in the office.
Enable AB to do the floors by fielding the kids for 2-3 days.
Come up with plans for the outdoor kitchen.
Start execution of outdoor kitchen/patio area.
Start purging the baby stuff out of the house (sigh)

Part of my problem is that I am just so blinded by my long list of other stuff...

My birthday weekend
AB's birthday weekend, skiing?
Ski weekend?

Potential travel to Florida and Connecticut
Ski weekend for President's Day

Anniversary weekend
Travel to DC

Leif's Spring Break - Yellowstone in the trailer?
Travel to Tennessee (oh yeah)

Travel to Pittsburgh.

And now it's summer.

Where do I fit in all my to do stuff?

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's good we can cook...

Because dining out in this city just sucks!

We hadn't eaten out in quite awhile and I convinced AB to go out to dinner last night. He was tired from putting the floor in and I was tired of fielding the kids all day and dealing with Miss Sassy. We needed to get out of the house.

My one request was that we couldn't go to the usual haunt (Sakura) because I wasn't in the mood for sushi (amazingly enough) and I wanted something different. We stepped only slightly out of the box and headed to a Korean restaurant not far from us. One where if we were "regulars" anywhere other than Sakura, this would be #3 on the list. (#2 being a Mexican place a few blocks from the house.)

Having kids has really impacted our dining out style.

Ok, so we go to the sparsely decorated Korean restaurant that still (after 8 or so years) lacks a liquor license. That's ok.

New and very young waitstaff as usual.

Waitress: "Can I take your order?"

AB: "Yes, we will start with the combination tempura..."

Waitress: "Ok, is that all for you tonight?"

AB: "No, the kids will split a Sweet and Sour Chicken with the Sweet and Sour Sauce on the Side."

Waitress: "Ok, is that all for you tonight?"

Me: "No, I would like dinner too. I will do #54."

Waitress: "I am sorry, I don't know the menu yet, what is that?"

Me: "It's the Spicy Pork Bulgogi right here," I said pointing to the menu. AB noted he would take one as well.

A bit of time passes and she returns with the tempura that the entire family chows. Then the Sweet and Sour Chicken arrives, covered in sauce. Skadi is happy, Leif is in tears.

AB tells the waitress that he requested the sauce on the side. Yes, she remembers that but thought he meant something else. I mean really lame long rambley response about why the sauce was on the top and not on the side.

AB: "Can you just bring out a saucer of the chicken without the sauce on it."

She heads in to check. Skadi is chowing away at the sweet and sour chicken.

Waitress: "No, I am sorry we can't. I can return this plate and the chef can remake it, but we can't just bring out extra chicken without the plate being returned."

AB: "But she is eating it and I would rather not take it away,  you are just going to throw it away."

Waitress: "No, I am sorry we can't do that, we are just too busy to do that."


AB: "Fine, I will order another order of Sweet and Sour Chicken with the SAUCE ON THE SIDE."

Then our meals come out. It looks a bit different, but we start eating. Our Korean side dishes don't arrive, so I flag down the waitress.

Me: "Will our Korean side dishes be coming? The Kim-Chi and such."

Waitress: "Let me go see."

She returns.

Waitress: "I am sorry, you ordered the spicy pork teriyaki, it doesn't come with Korean side dishes."

Me: "Umm no. I ordered the bulgogi and we had a conversation about you not knowing the menu and I pointed it to you."

Waitress: "Let me go see."

She returns.

Waitress: "Ok, she will remake your meals for you."

AB: "Nevermind. Can  you just bring us the Korean side dishes to go with the pork teriyaki?"

And she does.

Then she brings out a grilled chicken breast sliced up on a plate and puts it in front of Leif.

And if I didn't have a plate of hot food in front of me my head would have just dropped onto the table and maybe pounded a bit.

We all ate. The waitress avoided us.

Then she brought us our ticket charging us for EVERYTHING including $4 for the grilled chicken breast.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quiche, Latkes and Meatball Sandwiches

I may be onto something!

A few weeks ago my son's pickiness came to a head with me. It was driving me insane.

And as a formerly very somewhat still picky person, I get picky. I get the extreme picky. I know that there are times you just look at a food and know that it cannot go into your mouth. I know that it is inexplainable. I know that it sends shivers up and down your spine. I get it.

But my son has recently taken picky to a new extreme and it was

"Fine then," I told him one evening. "Once a week it is up to you to plan a dinner with me and help prepare it."

I knew then that my biggest challenge with this would be ME sticking to it and not falling to the "I don't have time for this tonight".

The first week Leif declared he wanted to make "egg pie". Just like that.

"Sounds like a quiche," I declared and found a simple recipe.

I made the crust... because you just don't mess with crusts. Someday I will teach him the art, but he needs a few primers in other food prep first.

He mixed the eggs, the cream, cooked the bacon and by himself chopped the broccoli. AB shredded the cheese. We mixed it all together and tossed it into the crust. Wa la. One amazing quiche. And Leif was proud of himself. He grinned from ear to ear as I took his picture and posted it on Facebook.
"Mom," he said, "I don't want you to fix any other food because I want Skadi to have to TRY this, it is so good."

Oh the irony. Words that I have recorded well... because he IS going to hear them again.

Then was meatball sandwich night. They were good, but not quite up to whatever it is that he gets on meatball sandwich day at the school cafeteria...

Then last week Leif came home from school and declared that he wanted to make latkes.

Latkes, as in potato pancakes? I asked. My mom used to make latkes, but I don't remember them well.

You see Leif has a weird and unexplainable potato aversion. He doesn't eat French Fries, Tater Tots, Potato Chips, Mashed Potatoes make him gag, backed potatoes give him the willies.

I am not sure he is mine because *I* am the opposite. I love potatoes in all forms.

Actually I should correct that Leif DOES like lefse. But who doesn't like lefse?

I agreed and AB started cautioning me, "make them as Leif friendly as humanly possible, the potential for disaster on this one is HUGE. And you don't want this to be a disaster".

I treaded carefully. No onions. No toppings. Just plain latkes.

We peeled the potatoes. Ok, Leif peeled a half a potato and in the interest of having them ready in under 8 hours, I did the rest. He shredded them in the food processor, mixed the eggs in and the flour, put them in the colander to drain. We did a whole safety talk on hot oil. Then he stood there handing me quarter cups full while I dropped them in hot oil and pressed them flat.

OMG they are good. So freaking good.

Skadi, who doesn't care for potatoes much more than Leif except that she will eat potato chips and fries (sometimes), ate two. AB and I nommed on them.

And Leif ate one and said it was "ok".


Monday, December 26, 2011

Elf Calamities

Invariably, if you are going to do the Elf on the Shelf thing, you are going to have mishaps.

Like forgetting to move the Elf and the kids discovering her first. "That silly Elf tried to trick you guys (again?) and came back to the same spot!"

Or the day the housecleaner knocked her off her perch and left her sprawled on the floor. Horror! "Well I hope she forgives the housecleaner for touching her and doesn't give a bad report to Santa."

Or the day that daddy stepped on her.

Our elf was sound asleep on the dolly bed in Skadi's room on the floor next to Skadi's bed. She had survived the whole day there, I THOUGHT we were out of the woods.

AB was putting Skadi to sleep that night and at some point, got up, and stepped right on Mina!!

The world screeched to a halt as Skadi's eyes welled with tears, "DADDY! You hurt Mina. You touched her and will get a bad report and now she can't fly back to the North Pole and so Santa won't get our good reports. WAH!"

It didn't stop there. I heard about it for the next two days. Not only from the kids but AB as well.

"I don't care that it is cute she was in a little bed, she should NOT be on the floor or SOMETHING is bound to happen," and he was probably right.

But as it turned out Mina was none worse for the wear and flew to Santa that night and issued her good reports.

(Thank goodness AB didn't step on her face and smush it in or something catastrophic like that...)

The Bomb Story

Skadi: "Mommy, will you tell me the bomb story again?"

Me: (Sigh) "Are you sure you want to hear that story again?"

Skadi: "Yes."

Me: "What part of it do you want to hear?" (Hoping she doesn't say the Japanese part.)

Skadi: "All of it."

Me: "Wouldn't you rather have a princess story?"

Skadi: "No."

Me: "Ok."

Blame Leif. He is the one who introduced Skadi to the concept of the "biggest bomb ever". Actually, I blame his teacher. Because do we really need to talk about nuclear weapons in the 1st grade? Yes, I know it was December 6th, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. But I was a bit surprised the depth of questions.

December 6th:

Leif: "Mom, Mrs. H told us about today a long time ago we were attacked."

Me: "Yes, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on this day 70 years ago."

I could go on and line out all the conversation surrounding this, but I won't. And in fact, I don't remember it well. I just know that he was very concerned that Hans and I had been there (we reassured him we weren't), that it would happen again (we hope it won't), that children were killed (I don't know if children were killed) and then he wanted to know about the "biggest bomb ever" that ended the war.

The conversation ended with me stating historical fact that we actually live near where part of the bomb was made (so nontechnical speak) here and that Daddy's job is in cleaning up the work from making that bomb and that Mommy works in ensuring that nothing like that (we haven't talked about 9-11 yet) doesn't happen to the people of the US again .

And life went on.

Until Skadi, about a week later, asked to hear the "story of the bomb" again. I confirmed, before delving in, that it was the story from the prior week. She nodded her head.

And now it is just after Christmas and the "bomb story" has become a mainstay. I have modified it to suit my needs in speaking with a four year old.

The Bomb Story

Once upon a time, a long time ago before mommy was born, before grandma was born and when great grandma was a school teacher in North Dakota, the bad Japanese (as opposed to the good Japaneses) attacked Pearl Harbor, a US base in Hawaii. They flew planes in and attacked the soldiers there. The United States then said we are at war with the Japanese (for Skadi's purposes, I haven't expanded to the axis and allies...)

Great grandma decided that she wanted to help the US and so she joined the Army Nurses Corp and she went to Spokane where we get to go to see Beauty and the Beast at the end of January to learn to be an Army nurse.

While she was there being a nurse, the bad Japanese started invading islands in the South Pacific and were pushing their soldiers through the islands and taking them over. Roar!

But while this all was happening the scientists that were living here where we live decided to make a bomb with some other scientists at another lab. The scientists here out on the Hanford site made a very special ingredient for the bomb, the plutonium. But they were messy and made a huge mess that Daddy is still working on cleaning up.

Finally the day came that they flew the two bombs named Fat Man (Skadi invariably thinks this is funny) and Little Boy over to Japan and they dropped them on the bad guys. Those bombs were the biggest bombs in the world and so Japan said to the United States, "you win, we give up!"

And all this happened just a few weeks before your great grandma was supposed to ship over and be a nurse in the war! So she didn't have to go overseas after all. So instead she met your grandpa in Seattle and they moved to Casper where they had two boys, then a girl, who was your grandma Barbara and then another boy. And Barbara was a good girl, but when she got mad at her brothers she would chase them into the corner with the broom!

And then Barbara grew up and she got married to my daddy, Perry. And soon after that they had a little girl, and that was me. And my sister just a few years later. And we had so much fun playing Barbies and Little People! I played with those exact same Little People that you have!

Pretty soon I grew up and I went to college and met AB! (At this point Skadi giggles hearing her daddy's name.) And we moved to Reno, Nevada so I could go to more college and we got married at Lake Tahoe.

Then we packed up and moved up here where mommy got a job working to protect us from bad people and Daddy got a job cleaning up the mess from the bomb. Then they had a baby named Leif and a few years later, a little baby girl named Skadi. And Skadi was a good little baby, but she did cry a lot. Her favorite food was milk and applesauce. Once she learned to walk though, she started running. Then she turned one and her grandma Barbara and Grandpa Rick came to visit and they pushed her on the swing. Then she turned two right when we moved into our new house. But she was sick on her 2nd birthday. When she turned three the year after that we had a princess dress up party in our house with all her friends. Another year passed and she turned four and she had her party at Coach Brett's gym! And now we are here, I wonder where she will have her party now

Twisted, huh?

Friday, December 23, 2011

What we did this Christmas season...

I didn't work. Well that much at least, just a few hours here and there.

We didn't bake much. So I am not much of a baker and I don't have much of a sweet tooth. We did do Christmas cookie cutouts. It's a tradition in my family to make my great grandmother's sugar cookie recipe that is so finicky, but so tasty. But no nanaimo bars or Gingerbread cookies that were on my list to do.

We didn't sit in front of the TV and watch the Christmas specials. We usually do, and I love them. So do my kids. But not this year. I did rent Elf one night and was happy that many of the jokes didn't go unnoticed by my son.

I didn't put up the Christmas village. I wanted to, but ran out of time.

We managed to get a few lights on the bushes outside, but no lights on our house.

I have barely put away the Thanksgiving decorations inside, Christmas interior decorations? Ha. We have a tree and the stockings were hung a few days ago.

The Advent calendar? Sorely neglected.

We haven't driven around our town and looked at the Christmas lights.

Our Christmas Eve and Day meals are barely planned. No prepwork started.

We didn't go caroling.

I didn't even take the time to find the Muppets Christmas cd.

What did we do this Christmas season so far?


We have stood by our fire.

We have petted goats, sheep, horses, camels and donkeys.

We have pulled our clothes out of Sparkle's (the sheep) mouth.

We have kneeled on the ground with our foreheads in the hay.

We have begged and pleaded with our wriggly children to be still and quiet.

We haven't cooked dinner, instead eaten whatever the church prepared for us (which has been hit and miss!).

We have coached our children in some semblence of acting.

We have stood and kneeled in front of crowds of 800-2000 people a night.

I have watched my husband guide Mary and Joseph and wrangle a donkey into a pen.

I have had tears in my eyes seeing my daughter walk up and kiss the baby Jesus a few times a night.

I have nudged my kids' bedtimes to nearly 1.5 hours later than normal, with the hopes I can nudge them back.

I have been amazed at the tenacity of my children to willingly and with minimal whining, participate in 11 performances (so far).

I have hidden Lifesaver candies in my boots for those times when tenacity is waning.

I have watched new friendships form and a community be created by us strangers brought together to perform the Nativity for strangers.

We smell like farm animals and smoke.

I am amazed at how I remain moved at each of the 11 (so far) performances we have participated in.

I have prayed the camels be well behaved this year.

I have no regrets at surrendering my evenings of Christmas prep.

We hope that the beauty of the Living Nativity has brought a season of joy to those who have witnessed it.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Way back at the start of the school year, Leif met a girl.

She is a cute little blonde who wears great shoes, plays the cello and loves little kids. And she is a FOURTH grader!

It all started innocently enough. Leif was nervous to ride the bus, he never had before. I was nervous to have him ride the bus - because what if the bus dropped him at the wrong school... or left him on a street corner... or decided to drive to Texas or something? You just never know these days...

But the cute little blonde at the bus stop (with cute boots) promised me to help Leif out.

And for a few weeks she diligently rode the bus with him next to her.

And AB and I worried when we saw stars setting in Leif's eyes upon gazing at her.

"What if she wants to sit with her friends?" we started asking him.

"She doesn't want to," Leif assured us.

Gone was the crush on the girls his age... now he had his eyes set on an OLDER girl! And he would blush when her name would come up. And he would blush when he would see her at school holding the door. And he would hide from her when her class left the gym and his arrived...

Then just a few short days later Leif complained that she keeps trying to sit in other spots. And he was trying to come up with tricks to force her to sit with him. There started a war at the bus stop whereby she was trying to make him get on the bus first so that she could select her seat afterwards. And Leif tried to make her get on the bus so that he could sit next to her.

And even when she would take a seat with somebody else, Leif would squish in and make it three in the row!

AB and I tried to take the tactic of reasoning with Leif, "you know, she is older and has friends and maybe doesn't want a first grader hanging around all the time?" To which Leif would reply, "she does, she just pretends she doesn't."

Poor, poor oblivious little boy.

Then AB and I took the opposite tactic. Don't mention her at all and hopefully the heart throbbing would subside. I reluctantly followed this path. Reluctantly because to me it seemed akin to sticking my head in the sand.

Then last week the little miss sealed her own fate unknowingly.

"Leif," she said, "if you can answer a math problem that I make up, then you can sit with me for the rest of the year. BUT, if you get it wrong, then you can't sit with me the rest of the year. Ok?"

Leif agreed.

"What is 44 x 10?" she asked.

"That's easy!" replied Leif, "440!"

And so Leif has a spot saved for him on the bus for the remainder of the year.

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!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One post in November?

That's pitiful.

I have sworn in the demise of blogging in favor of quick one liner updates that I would always maintain my blog. I mean my kids' baby books are nearly bare because it is all here. The good photos, the vacations, the milestones, the good, the bad, the ugly... you know.

But last month has kicked my booty. Seriously.

I have gone less than full time at work and so you would think that would afford me more time, right? Yeah wrong. I am considering bumping back up to full time, because when I made the decision to drop my hours my management said one thing, "just because you are at home doesn't mean you aren't working, just make sure you are getting paid for the hours you put in".

And well, here I am at home fielding phone calls, sending e-mails. All the things I said I wouldn't do.

I need to either turn off or get paid for it.

I love the time at home with the kids. And I keep telling myself that next week will be less intense. And a lot has recently happened on my big project to make the intense stress evaporate like a poof of smoke on a windy day. But it isn't happening. That poof of smoke is gone, but I keep picking up things here and there that dominate my time. And with those little things I have picked up is one client who I have worked for in the past that thinks they are the be all, end all and that a few hours is not an unreasonable time frame to demand for turnaround of documents.

Anyways, I will detail the work stuff here soon. As well as some hopeful good news that we hope will be announced on Tuesday.

And I will detail the kids and all those lists on my phone of blog topics I have made.

I work next week and then I have two weeks off. Two weeks of cooking and baking and family and holidays and love and movies and crafts and decorating and...

Until then... bear with me. I will return.