Saturday, November 19, 2016

You wouldn't believe what happened...

Seriously. I didn't believe it.

I was promoted this cycle!

And I hadn't even taken to whining about my job yet! That never happens. It is a well known fact that you don't get promoted without being just totally pissed off and overdue for a promotion that you don't even want to celebrate when it does happen.

I figured I had little to lose last fall when I told my team lead that I wanted to be considered for a promotion this coming year (nearly a year ago). I reminded him mid-year and then I made it pretty easy for him to make my case for me by arming him with tables and written materials stating my case.

I was actually a bit worried because my group manager (who I adored) left a few months ago to take a temporary assignment (betting she doesn't come back) and the guy who took over for her lacks that something. Oh and not to mention that I had even had one of those "come to Jesus" meetings with him as his program manager just a few months prior.

So when he was announced as our interim TGM I felt a bit sick to my stomach. I knew that recommending me for promotion had been put forward as he called two meetings with me within the last month to "just get things straight".

Last week he shook my hand, told me congratulations on the promotion and let me know that it was actually an easy sell. I was blown away. He read off glowing word for word reviews from people I work with that actually made me tear up. It has been a hard fought year with a lot of travel. But worth it.

I haven't told many people. Truth is, I have few people in my life who really care about my career or my getting a promotion. I don't mean that to sound bad, I know many people care about ME, which is what counts. And I DO have the people who I told. And really, I don't mind it, it is just a fact of life in what I do for a living that not everyone buys into it, sees value, many think I should do something different or have taken another path. And most, frankly, don't even know what I do on a day to day basis. I am in introvert, I am not the person to scream up and down and shout it from the mountains. I find satisfaction internally, not from other people patting me on my back.

I did need to change some cost estimates and I gasped a bit at what my new charge out rate is. I had to tell one colleague why I was presenting her with a new request that was 20% larger for the year than my previous estimate. So it was a bit of a sticker shock, but she was tremendously supportive.

So here it is, putting it out there. I have rocked this year. I helped bring in a new $12-18M/year program and have a lead position on that program, I co-managed an existing program and brought many changes to how things are done, I ran one proposal call, landed a few smaller proposals, continued serving on my graduate universities advisory council, was offered a research associate position at one of the nation's most prestigious nuclear engineering university programs (UT Austin), despite never having taken a nuclear OR engineering class, I mentored other staff, I was the hammer, I resolved staff conflicts, I endorsed others, I was compassionate with what my staff were experiencing, I made connections, I was invited to speak, I became one of the "good old boys" (or so I was told, I tell myself I have infiltrated their network), I have made my colleagues proud, and I have supported my country in our mission space. I am proud of what I have done.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Skadi Update

Skadi is at that really fabulous age. Not yet a tween. Totally a pleasure to be around. Enjoys interacting with people around her. Always has a smile for everyone. Takes every broken or bent being under her wing. I wish I were more like her.

She struggles academically, which is hard for me to admit as someone who has always succeeded. This year we put her in Sylvan (freaky expensive). And we are actually seeing a lot of growth in her both academically and socially. We ended 3rd grade in the dumps. She hated school. She felt that she wasn’t liked. It was horrible.

I don’t want to think it was because she had a horrible teacher. I felt as though her teacher was “just there”. She wasn’t a leader. She was a warm body in the classroom. She was lenient to start and then when Skadi pushed, she had no where to move to. She became exasperated (my impression) and then Skadi ended her year on a suck-ass note. Skadi wasn’t happy socially, she felt that her teacher wasn’t her friend (and maybe her teacher shouldn’t be her friend, but maybe she should stand behind her?).

I have to admit that I have no actual idea how Skadi is doing this year. We have a very different teacher who is from the dark ages. (Seriously, she could have been my 4th grade teacher.) She doesn’t communicate, no e-mails, no “newsletters” home. But you know what? Skadi adores her and reports that she is actually on “grade level” by her tests. WTF? Grade level is not a phrase we use with Skadi typically.

Conferences are coming up and we will find out the hard truth. Skadi has worked her tail off. I so hope it has paid off.

Skadi was in tae kwon do – but has decided her priorities lie elsewhere. I really kind of wish she would have continued. And maybe she will at a later date. What has really driven home for me was the confidence builder it has been in her own body. The girl knows how to take down a grown man. No joke. You don’t want to meet my girl in a dark alley – and she is only an orange belt. I asked her one day to show me what she would do if someone attacked her. I was astonished.

Skadi really enjoys swimming – like her dad. She has her goals set on joining the swim team at our health club this spring.
She has a lot of passions she wants to pursue - but until we get her lined out and on a solid path academically, we don't have a lot of time to pursue other activities (which makes me sad). She is in Leadership Club at school and came up with the Club's motto for the year on her own. Well I found the website of "quotes for kids" and she picked the one she wanted:

"Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody." Kid President

This embodies Skadi. She is tender hearted and wants everyone to be included and have fun. There is a boy in her class from Korea that speaks little English. Skadi has been nice to him and offers to partner with him a lot - we have learned that the boy has a pretty serious crush on Skadi now. Instead of backing off (since she doesn't like him "that way"), she continues to be nice and warm to him.

I love her so much.

One thing I love is seeing the interactions between her and her brothers. Yesterday we went to pick her up at Tchoukball (afterschool PE activity like handball). She is the tiniest child on the teams and the boys tend to ignore her. Leif was outraged. He knew some of the boys from last school and was SO upset that they weren't getting the ball to her equally. I loved seeing him stand up for her!




Silas Update (from September, never posted)

Silas is at that funny age where his memories are starting to form and he is defining his own world around him. He is nearly 3.5 and is a typical preschooler for the most part. A bit more intense than my other two were. And more so than many of the kids around him in preschool. He is intense and over the top, but loving and snuggley and caring.

It is really fun to see his world evolve around him and him act as an independent participant in the world we are not a part of. The Mystery Bag is his thing. What is the Mystery Bag? For sharing in his preschool class the kids get a canvas bag that comes home with a big question mark on it. The kids get to put a secret item in the bag, bring it in and give hints to the class, while the classmates guess what might be in the bag. It is a huge highlight for Silas. He LOVES the Mystery Bag. He gets so excited when he finds the Mystery Bag in his locker and then we all get to practice guessing for him all night before he takes it in. 

Silas is a huge fan of music. He has eclectic tastes in music, and very much goes OCD with one song. So much so that he wears everyone out on the song. He gets the song completely memorized. (Everyone else is forced into complete memorization as well.) He sings the song, he plays it on piano, guitar and whatever other instrument he can find. And is absolutely insistent that no other song can play on the TV, in the car, anywhere. And if you try, he screams. 

I kind of hate to give in to musical preschool terrorist tactics. But keeping the peace is also a priority in the house. 

Silas is also at that age where he is starting to fib and try to get out of things. He wasn't the one who hit someone at school, it was another kid in the class. The reason Skadi was pushing him away wasn't because he was throwing the arrow in his hand at her. "It wasn't because I threw this arrow at her mom." He self-incriminates pretty regularly. And it's always hard to keep a straight face as he tries to get himself out of trouble. 

The big trouble comes from Dad though. He pretty regularly gets in trouble at daycare for something, the teacher tells me, he insists it wasn't him. Then begs and pleads for me not to tell dad. Dad will be "Soo mad at me!" Sorry that AB has to be the bad guy all the time, but we play it up pretty good. 

Silas had his first stitches two weeks ago. He and Leif were playing when Silas slipped on the floor. When he looked up there was blood all over. Split chin. AB took him to the ER and he did great there and was home in record time. Stitches dissolved and we thought all was good.

That was until I was chatting with a friend at the grocery store and Silas was messing around near my feet - slipped and fell. The ER visit that time wasn't so easy. Hours later he came home with butterfly closure and no stitches and one irritated dad. Multiple doctors, multiple injections, doctors constantly pulled away for other emergencies. It sounded awful. And the final doctor slapped some steri-strips on it and sent them on their way. Amazingly the chin has healed, but not without a decent sized scar.

Silas Update

Excuses? It isn’t that I don’t have the absolute best intentions. It’s that I don’t have the time. I have jotted down a gazillion things that I want to record regarding Silas. I want to blog about my work life – because that is crazy. But I just can’t seem to stay on top of things. There’s no time like the present, I guess. My goal over the Thanksgiving holiday is to blog everyday. Maybe this will push me back into the habit? I always take the week of Thanksgiving off - but this year I saw that the Friday before Thanksgiving had no meetings scheduled - and Silas was in need of some mama time - so I extended. Now we are kicking off 10 days straight of "hanging out" (Silas' words). So in theory that would be 10 days of blogs. I have a few days in there we won't be around or connected, so I hope for a few days of double blogs.
So Silas. He is a ball of love, but a superior pain in the rear at the exact same time. Knock on wood – we haven’t had a bad report on him from daycare in a week and a half. Seriously, I would knock on wood.
He is at that phase where everything he says is hilarious. Or completely scary and I worry about my safety at night. But mostly just loveable. He is struggling at daycare. The child does not really like other children. At all. He thinks they are evil or something. I don’t really know. He doesn’t want to be near them, he doesn’t want them to make noise. He doesn’t really want them to exist. If they make noise, say things he doesn’t like, exist in his space, basically – he freaks out. And sometimes (but not always) that freak out entails a more vampire like attitude.
Yesterday Silas was pushed down and bonked his head pretty hard. They decided to keep him up for nap as a concussion precaution. For some reason they sent him off to kindergarten with the 5 year olds. When I picked him up I got rave reviews. He loved sitting there in kindergarten, was not distracting, loved participating. I felt a bit vindicated because we keep telling them to push him intellectually.

Silas is my book kid. I FINALLY GOT ONE!!! After having two reluctant readers, I finally got my kid who enjoys passing his time with a book laying on his bed.

He is freaky smart. He counts above 20, counts objects by rote, he memorizes songs and books completely. He will sing entire songs – “Sound of Silence”, “Lampshades on Fire”… not easy songs. He also memorizes books. AB and I have taken to trying to trip him up. But he catches the slightest word and corrects us. If I say “beast” instead of “bear” in his favorite (and freakishly long) Merida book, he will correct me. It is a LONG book and he can recite it from front to back and doesn’t miss an adjective.

We have thought about taking him in and having him “tested”. Though I am not sure for what. Can they tell if a preschooler is a genius? Or are we just the same as every other parent and shocked at the things that we, as adults, don’t seem to be able to do anymore because we have our brain power devoted to other things?

It’s probably the later.
Silas' favorites:

Curious George
Captain America
Finding Dory (refuses to watch Finding Nemo)
The Grinch book
Merida book
Too Many Toys book
Buzz Lightyear
Monsters Inc,
Beethoven (our dog)
Lucky (our cat)
Calling people "buttheads" (hanging head in shame - my fault, I call Odin this. Correction, I used to call Odin this.)
Jingle Bells by the Barenaked Ladies

Cooking - cracking the eggs specifically. Silas calls it "making". When I am cooking dinner he yells, "I want to make with you". He is a hard worker in the kitchen.

He is also my good eater. He eats lettuce! An unknown in my house with the kids. I actually get to send salad in for his lunch.

One other thing that Silas nailed that the other kids still lack is knowing where things are. He remembers. And when he loses something (or Dad loses something that was bought at the Chinese Lantern Festival) he remembers the item months and still holds grudges.


Me: "You're out of time out. Now what are we going to do?" (I was thinking something along the lines of apologizing to Skadi.)

Silas: "You are going to return me back to the Brother Store where they will put me back in my cage and I will have to wait for another mommy and daddy to decide they want me."

And so now I AM the one who feels like crap.
Silas: "Mom, when we get home can I have a feather?"
Me: "We can probably find a feather, what do you want it for?"
Silas: "To call it macaroni."

Silas asked the other rainy day why we didn't have more gorillas as he wanted to take one to school and certainly Skadi would want to take one too.

Tonight while reading to him, I found out that gorilla is umbrella. And his world makes a little more sense.

Silas channeling my mom: "If you want to make pie, you make pie!"
This is actually a common Silas refrain. "If you want to have a hang out day, we have a hang out day."
Or, "if you want to go to school, you go to school".
He is a very matter of fact kid.