Feb 292012
 

Well February has come and gone, and we didn’t have too many exciting things happen, although we were very busy. Every day seems to be packed with something. I’ve got girl scout meetings once a week, I babysit three days a week, Ethan has cub scouts once a week and Kyle has been subbing for one or the other leader every single week since Ethan became a bear in January. Dinah and one of the little girls that I babysit have preschool twice a week. Jeremy is in Kindergarten every morning until noon. Ethan and Tyra are in school all day, and of course Kyle goes to work every day. And this is just all the regular stuff that keeps us busy!

Ethan’s pack meeting for this month was the Blue and Gold Banquet on the 8th. They decided to have a fiesta this year and we had taco salads for dinner. They awarded the boys that had earned awards recently. Ethan hasn’t earned anything new yet, considering he JUST moved up to bears and hasn’t worked his way very far into the book. They gave gifts of appreciation to leaders that have been released. There were some skits performed and after all the eating was done, they let the boys pick either a sombrero or maraca to take home. We finished the night off with a pinata, which the scouts got to take turns whacking at. First they let the kids in the wolf den beat at it, and then the kids in the bear den. I think it busted before they got through all the bears though. I was kind of bugged that the pack meeting is supposed to be a family thing, and yet only the scouts got to hit at the pinata, while the siblings stood back and watched, hoping that they would get some of the booty.

On the 10th, Tyra’s class invited family to come to the school during school hours to come check out all the animal reports that the kids had put together. I always go to these things and see all the other projects and wonder if all the kids really did their projects all on their own. Some of them are always way too good to be the work of the child alone, that’s for sure. Tyra chose to study and do her report on foxes. This also fell on pajama day so all the kids were wearing their pjs. I let Dinah and Chloe wear their pajamas to school as well. I didn’t get to stay very long to look at many of the other projects however, for as soon as we got there and we were looking at Tyra’s project, I discovered that Chloe had a dirty diaper. Such bad timing. Also Dinah ran off, and then Chloe kept trying to sit on Tyra’s lap. Chloe also decided that since we were no longer traveling outside that that meant she could take off her shoes. I tried to get her off of Tyra’s lap and get her shoes back on which resulted in Chloe throwing a huge fit, crying loudly. I felt bad for the mom next to me that was trying to video tape her daughter telling her about her animal project. So I told Tyra she did a good job on her project and took Dinah, Chloe and Lydia back home!

Something else that happened this month, most people will probably think I’m silly for mentioning. I had a dental checkup, my regular cleaning and exam on the 24th. The thing that was different about this one was that when the dentist was done looking at my x-rays and my teeth, he seemed really surprised, and asked if this was a first. “A first what?”, I wondered. Then he said that I have no new cavities! I’m sure that to some people that’s no big deal, but for me that was the first time in YEARS that I haven’t had new problems when I went in for a checkup. Usually I have one or two cavities that need filling. At least once a year for the last couple of years I’ve needed a new crown (I’m up to NINE crowns in my mouth!)…just something new every time I go in. Now this doesn’t mean that none of my teeth have problems this time, just that there were no NEW problems to have to deal with. My 3 wisdom teeth that are showing all have cavities, but the dentist doesn’t want to bother filling them because I need to have them pulled anyway. One of those three cavities is more like a huge cave on the back of my tooth. But I already knew about the wisdom teeth issues (I’ve totally been avoiding going in to have them pulled), but am SO excited that there were no new problems. 🙂

And the last exciting thing worth mentioning, is that as the girl scout troop leader with a large van, I got to go up to Salt Lake City to pick up our troop’s girl scout cookies! I really wish that I had been able to take a picture of our stack of cookies, but our camera hasn’t been working properly lately. Our troop had two pallets of cookies, and almost filled my van (which we had taken the seats out of, to make more room). I was really excited to get to see how they distribute cookies to each troop. We did annoy some people from another troop that were waiting for us to get out of their way so they could start loading their cookies. But I promise we weren’t trying to annoy anybody. We had loaded the first pallet of cookies into the van and then looked up to find the rest of our cookies, but they were nowhere to be seen. We stood there and waited a few minutes to see if they would show up on the dock when one of the other pallets was moved out of the way, but they didn’t. So Amy (our troop’s cookie mom) went to go ask about it. It turns out that our other pallet of cookies was just sitting in the back of the warehouse all by itself totally unnoticed by anyone. So we brought it to the attention of the guys operating the fork lifts and they brought it to the dock for us. And now we have the fun joy of delivering all those cookies!

 

Feb 062012
 

So, after having a nice relaxing weekend back home, I had to travel again.  As one of the top performers in the company, I had the chance to take a special training class on how to deal with difficult situations, and as the classes filled up quickly, I took advantage of an opening in our Springfield office, to sign up for it.  Once I got all the travel arrangements finalized to be there on Thursday and Friday, my manager approached me and asked if I could extend the trip and spend two days training a newly transferred member of our group, in the products I used to work on.  I agreed and made the changes, and eventually the time to fly arrived.

I was a little less ready for this one, as the flight was mid-morning, and I had to rush to get to the airport on time.  I learned from my last trip, and packed lighter, only taking a carry-on bag (to avoid the $25/flight baggage “fees.”)  Previously, I had checked my bag at the counter, so this time as I was bringing it as a carry-on, in my hurry to get to the plane, I totally forgot about picking it up at the TSA x-ray machine.  I made it half-way down the moving path before I realised it, and I quickly turned around and ran back in the wrong direction, to get to the security desk.  Once I was off, I realised it would have been faster to run with the flow, then take the moving path back.  No matter; when I got to the security scanners, they were simply scanning my bag again, making sure it wasn’t suspicious.  I quickly thanked them and rushed off to the terminal, where everyone else had boarded, and as soon as I was on, they closed the plane.

If Boston was hectic and crowded, and Rochester was more suburban and pretty, Springfield was quite laid back and green.  The whole time I was there, I awoke to fog in the morning, and it was drizzly a few times during the day.  The airport was out in the middle of farmland (coming in for a landing, I saw fields in all directions.)  It just had a nice, mellow feeling to the place, which I really enjoyed.  The people were overly friendly, as West Coast people tend to be.  Plus, this was one of our company’s main sites in the US, as we occupied the entire building, which included an on-site food court, a number of large conference rooms and data centres, and from what I heard (but did not see), a fitness room.

The local manager (peer to my own) introduced me to everyone on the team, as if I was some special visitor; I appreciated that.  The day and a half that I had to work with this new tech were interesting for both of us, as I hadn’t touched the product in months.  We spent most of the time talking about a lesser-used product, because it was very difficult to set up and use.  Fortunately, we were able to get it working on the first try, so we were able to try out a lot of the functionality that it offered.  I only hope it was enough to help him feel more confident on it.

The training I went through was quite interesting.  We had a decent assortment of people in the room, coming from all over the country, and also covering all positions like management to sales, etc.  The main focus of the class was to help us identify difficult conversations and not let them escalate, but teach us how to take a step back and maintain control over them.  The videos in the class were actually performed by actors and actresses in Utah (I recognised someone from The Single’s Ward.)  I found the concepts pretty useful, although I am usually easy going enough that I hopefully won’t get into those situations much.  (Ahh, the joys of being a White personality.)

By the time I was on this trip, I didn’t really feel much of a desire to eat large meals any more, and even got a chance to use the fitness room in the gym.  I went to Jack-in-the-Box the first night (hey, we don’t have them in Utah!), tried a couple vegan places (one was too salty, and the other had excellent cornbread), and did a Sushi place one last night.  Breakfast was complimentary at the hotel, and lunch was typically spent at the office, eating whatever special of the day was whipped up by the chefs.  I found that interesting, actually, that the site had contract workers cooking for a living.  I spoke to one of them, and he really enjoyed his job.  Sounds like a fun thing to do, if you like to cook.

The people there were all great and helped me feel welcome, but I really was glad when I could finally get back to my family.  Rebecca said Chloe slept in my bed every night; not that this is any different from any other night!

 Posted by at 9:42 pm
Feb 052012
 

So, the most hectic part of my business trip was travelling to Waltham, just west of Boston.  When I booked the travel flight and hotel, I chose a hotel in Boston, as the recommended hotel in Waltham was unavailable.  Besides, the website said it was only 7 miles from the office, and I typically drive much farther than this on my daily drive to work.  However, I had never been to Boston, and had no idea what to expect from driving in the old historic town.  After I arrived and got the rental car, I was in for a shock, trying to navigate through the small one-way streets, through old downtown Boston.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite beautiful there, and so amazing to be able to walk through a historic town that I heard so much about.  However, it was really frustrating as well.  I ended up having to navigate by the GPS on my phone, restarting the directions every few blocks, as I would pass the street I needed, and had to back-track around a one-way street to get to where I wanted.  Then, I finally found the hotel (nice old tall building in the theatre district) and had to circle it three times before I could finally figure out how to park, which ended up being valet parking.  Once I got my hotel room sorted out, I took a walk down to the Boston Common park, and across the street to a pizza place to grab a bite to eat.

I realised that Boston was full of toll roads, and was short on cash to pay for them, so in the morning, I left extra early so I could take the free side-streets to get to Waltham.  That drive took the better part of an hour, but at least I got to see what life was like for normal people attending the University and local schools, and going about life there.  I really wonder what it would be like to live in Boston, and if the salaries for common people would pay enough for their living there.  I found our office without major issue, and had a really good time meeting a lot of people I only knew over the phone or through email.  I won’t go into many details on the meeting, but I felt it was helpful that I was there, as I had more experience with all aspects of the product than any other group individually.

That night, once I left the office, I noticed that the rental car had a toll road sensor on it, that allowed me to drive on the toll roads without spending cash, so I used it to quickly return to the hotel, and I decided to walk around Boston a bit to get to see the area.  Unfortunately, it was already dark by the time I returned, but it was still pretty to see some of the old buildings, including an old church that seemed to be turned into some form of restaurant.  I was surprised with how far I walked, according to the map, and suspect that if I had more time (and light), I could easily have crossed the city in less than an hour.  I ended up eating at a Legal Sea Food, at the suggestion of a friend, and then returned to the hotel for the night.

The next day was much like the previous, only I took the highway to save some time.  Traffic was crazier this day, much more than I expected, but at least I was still early.  At the office, we focused on how we could improve the features that were brought up the previous day, and when the day was over, I quickly headed back to the airport to fly back to Rochester.

I think Boston would really be a fun place to visit, if I ever had the time and money.  I’m sure Rebecca and I would love to see some of the shows together, and just to see the historic city would be beautiful.

It felt really relaxing to return to Rochester, which was not nearly as hectic as Boston was.  Even though I was only there for a day, it felt more familiar and friendly, even though I wasn’t really willing to try a garbage plate again. 🙂 I found, in my exploring of the area, that there was an Aldi store (I shopped at one in England, and loved the place, and found lots of European chocolates in this one!)  I was able to wrap up my training and learn a lot more about the product over the remaining two days that I had there, between the TOI and other training that I took part in.  I rather hope I can go visit the place again, but am not sure if that would happen.  Considering it was about 45 minutes from Palmyra, I would really love to get enough free time to go visit that historic site, instead of feeling more rushed to get the work things done, and quickly get back to the airport, like I had to do this time.

 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Feb 052012
 

As Rebecca explained, I had to travel for business over a couple weeks.  I had no idea it was going to be as hectic as it turned out to be.  Initially, at work, some of our product management told me that they were going to arrange for me to go out to Rochester, New York, to meet with our developers, and receive one-on-one training for them for a week.  When they finally told me the date they arranged, 24-27 January, they also explained that they would be holding a “Transfer of Information,” the “TOI” for my product, on Wednesday of that same week, giving me a chance to be there in person for the event.  Basically, it’s the training the developers give the support staff on how to actually support a product.  I arranged the travel for that trip, going out Monday and coming back Saturday, to give me Tuesday through Friday on-site.

In addition to this, as one of our department’s top performers, I had been recommended to take a training course normally meant for management.  I had decided on the first Thursday and Friday in February, to attend the training in our Springfield, Oregon office, thinking it would give me a week back between the Rochester trip and this training trip.  I didn’t realise until I signed up for the class and booked the flights, that it was the week directly following the Rochester trip, but at least I would have a few days at home, flying out on Wednesday afternoon and coming back on Saturday.

Then, the week after I booked the flights and hotel stays, I found out that my product management had arranged for an internal meeting about my product, on Tuesday and Wednesday of the same week as the TOI, but in Waltham, Massachusetts.  When they told me I needed to attend this, I felt annoyed that they scheduled this on the same week as the trip they asked me to make, and asked if they would reschedule this meeting, but they explained that everyone else had already made the arrangements to attend this one.  (Made me feel like inviting me was an afterthought, sadly.)  So, after talking everything over with management and verifying this was the final change, I made the arrangements to travel out on Sunday afternoon, to be in Rochester on Monday, then added a flight Monday night from Rochester to Boston, and a flight back from Boston to Rochester on Wednesday night, moving the TOI to Thursday and changing the hotel stay in Rochester and adding one in downtown Boston, which claimed to be seven miles from the office I needed to be at for the meeting.

The day after that change was finalised, my manager asked if I could change my flight to Springfield to fly out a day earlier, to arrive as soon as possible that day, and spend as much of that Tuesday, and all of that Wednesday, in training with one of my colleagues in Springfield.  So, once again I called the travel company and made the changes to the flight, hotel, and rental car reservations, but at least didn’t have to add another trip into the middle of this one, and would still come home at a reasonable time on Saturday.

The complications arose as we drew closer to the week of my first travel, as my manager was able to hire two new frontline support techs to work on my team, and in addition to my busy customer load, I also had to try and get them up to speed with both the product and general company policies, and get myself ready to be gone for the next two weeks.  That in itself was hectic, and I doubt I did everything needed, but at least felt that they had enough to stay busy with whilst I was gone.

When I originally booked the Sunday flight, I figured to make it late enough that I would be able to leave after church, but with preparation time and the new security at the airport, I ended up leaving first thing in the morning to get to the airport, and then had over an hour to wait for the flight to start boarding.  The trip was pretty uneventful, although I was overly nervous on the first leg of the trip, being years since my last flight.  With a layover in Detroit, (never been there before, so I figured I would do that one), eventually arriving at the Rochester airport around 7:00pm on Sunday.  After getting my bag and rental car, I asked the rental car clerk what kind of food I could try to experience “Rochester,” not wanting to simply go for a place I would recognise.  The man suggested I try the “garbage plate,” which I turned my nose up at, like any sane person would.

He laughed and explained it wasn’t anything bad or scary, but explained it was more of a meal students would try, being relatively cheap and filling.  It was basically a whole meal combined together, with fried potatoes, macaroni salad, meat, and multiple sauces including a local special hot sauce.  I asked where to find one, and he suggested “Henrietta Hots,” which turned out to be a block from the hotel I stayed at.  He also suggested another place, if I couldn’t find Henrietta Hots, but said it was more known for police issues, so I settled for his first location.  Walking inside, it was a simple establishment, with a couple tables full of high-school aged kids sitting and eating.  I looked at the menu, which was like any small local joint; full of dozens of various options.  The woman behind the counter was nice and asked if I needed anything or had any questions, and I explained that I was told to try the Garbage Plate, not finding it listed on the menu.  She pointed to the section called “plates” and said all of those were them, which was around 15 different options.  I asked what the best one would be for a visitor to try, and she recommended the cheeseburger plate, which I ordered.  When it came, in a styrofoam take-out box, it felt heavy and smelled good.  Obviously not the most posh food around, but considering it was a large portion of hot fried potato cubes, a similar sized portion of cold macaroni salad, with three beef and cheese burger patties on top of that, all smothered in mustard, signature hot sauce, and onions.  I ate half of it there, then finished it at the hotel over the next couple hours.

From what I could tell, I was actually in Henrietta, seemingly a suburb of Rochester, as it wasn’t overly crowded or difficult to navigate in.  I had no problem finding where I needed to go, and everyone I spoke to was overly kind and friendly.  The area was green and mild, which seemed similar to the mild winter we’ve had so far.  I got to the office and met everyone I would be working at that day, and later that week.  One thing that struck me was that nobody I spoke to had the typical New York accent I had expected from my mom; it seems Western New York is a much different place than the more typical New Yorker would be from.  We started getting deep into my product, and had to call it quits on time for me to get back to the airport and head to Boston.

 Posted by at 8:26 pm
Feb 052012
 

Kyle spent the last couple of weeks traveling on business. He works for Symantec, and they sent him on 3 different trips in two weeks. So I’ve been alone to take care of the house and kids for the past couple of weeks and I’m so glad to have him back home. The first week he left on Sunday to fly to Rochester, New York. He spent Monday in the office there in Rochester, then Monday evening he had to fly to Boston, Massachusetts and then drive to Waltham, Massachusetts to spend Tuesday and Wednesday with some software developers there.  Then Wednesday night, he had to fly back to Rochester to spend Thursday and Friday back in that office. He didn’t get home until late Saturday night. Then he was home for Sunday and we had some family over for dinner. He went back to work Monday, and then Tuesday morning he flew out to Springfield, Oregon and didn’t come home until dinner time the next Saturday. So he had a totally crazy time the past couple of weeks.

As for me it was business as usual. Get the kids up early and get them ready for school. Girl scout meetings, cub scout meetings, babysitting three days a week, oh and the school just happened to decide to have SEP’s during the time that he was gone! While Kyle was out of town, Chloe would come to sleep with me every night, (which didn’t really bother me because it beat sleeping alone) and every morning she would ask “Where’s Daddy?” She seemed to think that by sleeping in his spot, that she would be able to catch him whenever he happened to come home during the night. She really didn’t understand that he didn’t come home during the night because he was far far away. Life for both of us has been insane, but I’m so glad that he’s back now. It’s so good to have the whole family back together again. Chloe has issues with him going to work in the mornings, at present. Seems like she’s afraid that he will disappear for days at a time again.