Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Drama Here

My new job is so very different than my previous, the amount of stress alone is a night and day difference. There are plenty of similarities since they are both banks and have similar policies and procedures. I am completely taking a backseat right now and just learning about the company and my co-workers. In simpler words, I'm keeping my mouth shut and my ears open. Lol.

Danny & Camille have received their progress reports, both are doing well. Camille's making As & one B and Danny is struggling a bit in 1st grade and the amount of homework vs. his academic abilities is reaching their limit. I've requested a new Individual Education Plan for him to be done since he will be judged by first grade standards instead of kindergarten.

Camille's favorite class is math even though she's taking dance and piano as well. She's doing well, study skills are what I'm focusing on with her. Danny is reading! WOOO HOOO!!! Granted it's still a struggle but I'm so proud of him and I'm glad we're finally breaking ground in this area. He wants to be lazy and guess at the words based on pictures but I make him sound it out. I also cover the pictures and isolate the word he's trying to read.

We're trucking along here, life has achieved a new balance with my new job and we're all very grateful. Everything is going well. Sort of boring but I'll take doing well and being boring over drama any day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Their Tech-Savvy Daughter

My parents are not completely out of it, they are mother is 51 and dad is 57. Ever since online banking and anything 'online' has been popular they have both not been interested in participating. They've been afraid of identity theft and other boogie-men like viruses, etc. I understand their stance although I tried to tell them that I had never experienced any problems.

Now, they are ready to join the technology bandwagon. I'm going to Verizon with my mom today to help her pick out her first smartphone. In the last couple of years, she has bought a Mac laptop, iPod and is pretty knowledgeable with those devices due to the computer training classes she took at the Mac Store.  I was very impressed when she made the decision to get a Mac book. But to highlight her charming ignorance of all these technological, she has no idea why there is a regular ABC channel on her cable and a ABCHD channel.

They have both asked me to help them become more technology-savvy and help them streamline their costs. My mom has a car that has SYNC which allows her to use her iPod in her car or cell phone and she's never used it. She wants a iPhone without knowing why, she just likes the idea of having a Mac product since she has the Mac Book and iPod. 

In one conversation, ahem long conversation, they asked about eReaders (Nook, Kindle), online banking, routers, firewalls, DVRs, cell phones vs. landlines, and it goes on. My head is spinning a little but I think it's great that they are ready to embrace what is available. My dad asked me to get him a phone when I take mom today- nothing fancy, no internet, just a phone. Mom wants everything, she loves how I can pull out my phone and do a quick internet search for something. It's neat that I'm able to help them with this...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Curious about Bats

Danny wanted to know what a vampire bat looked like and I told him to go find books on our shelves with b-a-t in the title. Smarty pants who has done nature study a billion times brings back the Petersen field guide on mammals and flips straight to the bat section. Of course, there is not a vampire bat listed. He then grabbed Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study and turned straight to the bat lesson, which was lucky but goodness he impressed me.

Thanks to our homeschooling time, we have a huge library of books on just about any subject and together Danny & I found, Outside and Inside Bats by Sandra Markle on our science shelf.

We spent about 45 minutes talking about bats and exploring the books.
Nature study is ingrained in him and I had one of those warm hearted moments when you know as a parent, you've done something right.

He is curious. He looks to books for answers. He wants to talk and ask questions. He can navigate a field guide.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.  -Rachel Carson

We spent 3 hours watching two rabbits in our backyard a few days ago. Danny, who cannot sit still for very long, was patient and excited to watch them hop from area to area. He watched through binoculars and told Camille to be very quiet because rabbits ears are long, they can hear us. As I write this, I feel very blessed.

Our Tiled Kitchen

Our kitchen newly tiled! 
We're still working on faceplates and we have molding to still put up 
at the bar near the sink but all in all, we're 98% done! 

 I need a good phone camera is not the best. 
Mental note: add camera to Christmas list.

What I've learned while tiling our kitchen: Patience & communication is vital when tackling a project.
Things do NOT happen they way you THINK they will. DYI is very satisfying! Never underestimate what you can do. Michael and I are much more confident about tiling now- we have no qualms about tackling floors or a later date.

Our dishwasher's motor went out and we had to replace the dishwasher (the cheap one that came with the house)- decibel ratings really matter when selecting a dishwasher. We've gone from a 60 dba to a 52 dba and we barely hear the dishwasher anymore. We also looked for a dishwasher that had 3 full water sprayers: top, middle and bottom.  This website really helped us learn what to look for:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Take this job...

I haven't posted much. When I'm stressed I tend to prioritize my time and blogging gets put to the wayside. The last post I did was in May with today's exception of Tile!

I started looking for another job in May so my online time has been spent exploring job boards and updating my resume. I didn't want to talk about my job because I while it was happening, I didn't want something I said to come back and bite me if I decided to stay. I've found a new job at another bank and I start in a week. I've taken last week and this week off to decompress from all the stress I've been under since last December when I took a new position.

I will be the first to admit, management of others is not easy. No matter how fair you are, no matter how sympathetic, empathetic... others expect to get away with murder and get a 'pass' for everything. If not, you're the big bad wolf. I didn't have a problem with that, although I have new understanding of what 'entitlement' and 'lazy' means beyond generalizations.

I left due to the constant stress and pressure of micromanagement from my leadership team. Coming in to work, know there are 5 tasks to be completed before opening (done correctly the first time helps) and seeing 15 emails all with different asks, different time-frames and 10 of them require a response. 8 of the 10 requiring a response were sent at 6:00pm and require a response within 30-45 minutes. 2 of the 15 are very unclear as to what the person wants and 3 of the emails are going to require 1-2 hours of research to answer.

Then, your manager comes in and asks what you're doing for the day. Will your team perform at this level today? What will you do to ensure they meet their goals? Did you answer that email yet? I need to meet with you later to discuss writing so and so up and did you call the person about this or that yet? What is the status of this? You do realize it's due by 10:00 am today?


My team is coming at me with questions that they could answer themselves but don't want to put forth any more effort than asking me. More than I like, I answer them instead of explaining to them how to get to the answer themselves- *mental note: send email with instructions. Then the answer is, I sent an email with instructions how to do that. Read it and follow it. (Smile).

If I had support, understanding and appreciation from my manager & team- I probably wouldn't have left. I worked for 50-60 hours a week on salary. My manager took 45 days off for medical leave during a major, major project. I took on her role, my role and without much support. Since March, I haven't had an assistant. On top of all that, I was written up myself by my write-up happy manager without much direction on how to improve. I swear, she was the happiest on the days she had someone to write up.Yes, I called HR. I had 3 different cases and I spoke to my District Manager. Unfortunately, all that did insert doubt that I could handle my job. In my last call to HR, they begged me to switch branches, let's talk to your district manager and get you moved. I had had enough and I felt I already reached out to my district manager 2 times in the past 8 months with no favorable results- why try again?

Since May, I've been on 2 interviews and submitted my resume to over 50 jobs. My 2nd interview was my ticket. A job within my field with a solid company whose mission I can align myself with proudly. May to September and I applied to many jobs that I was qualified for!

I'm excited for this new chapter. A whole lot less stress and a more balanced life. I'm furiously loyal and leaving my previous employer was very hard. Even the day I turned my notice in, I was doubting whether I was making the right decision. Today, a week later- I'm relaxed and at ease with life and my decision.

The last thing I want to say on the subject is that the company was not altogether bad, there are many good principles to what they're trying to do but when you mix good principles with bad execution- the end result is ugly. I left the door open to walk back through at a later date, although it would take MAJOR convincing for me to go back.

Onward and happier...


Under our yearly goals, tiling our kitchen back splash was one our most daunting tasks to do this year. We're almost done! Neither Michael or I have ever tiled before and after talking to the pros at Home Depot- we decided to tackle it head on. There is a new product for tile adhesive called SimpleMat and it's a peel and stick application making tiling super easy. After accounting for the total cost, we decided to do it the old-fashioned way with trowel & adhesive. We're going to grout today so I'll load up our final pictures after this post.

Without any tile, our kitchen. Granite countertops with cherry maple cabinets.

Behind the sink done, I didn't think to take pictures until we tackled the hardest part of the project. 
The light is reflecting, it's not as gold/yellow as it appears. More browns, deep golds and browns. 

Our tile from Lowe's website, see how different it looks? My picture shows more detail of the shine and color variations than the stock photo.

We spray painted our faceplates to match the tile. So economical! I originally bought the spray paint to paint a piece of moulding to fit in-between the tile and granite at the sink but this was a fabulous idea from Michael. Gold tone face plates are expensive! $14 per? Pa-cha, one can of spray paint- $6 and recycle faceplates, $0.

This is definitely a 2-3 day project, we'll have it done today but you won't be seeing us on Renovation Realities anytime soon. We have a small kitchen but it seem so much larger now with the tile. Optical illusion, I suppose but we're so happy with it!