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Monday, August 28, 2006

My new boss is two foot two

As a general rule, I don’t blog about work. This is for several reasons. One is for privacy and semi-anonymity. But mainly, my work is usually not very interesting. (I work at a large institution doing some very specific technical things.) But also, the occasional anecdotes that seem really interesting or important might annoy co-workers (who may or may not still be reading this blog) if I take the time to write them down. Then they’d feel like they’re under a microscope. I think it’s unprofessional. That being said, I really wish I had blogged about the weird Jamaican guy who had the wrong number and kept repeatedly calling me trying to get me to tell him how he could become a doctor. (My job has nothing whatsoever to do with medical doctors nor admittance) I wanted to tell him “look, there is no way you’re even going to get your bachelors’ degree, you are a complete idiot!” but anyway, my boss finally talked to him for me and after we determined he was not a friend playing a joke on us, her conclusion was the guy was completely high or mentally ill. The last time he called, he threatened to write a letter to the president of the United States about me for not answering his questions about who he needed to talk to let him in the school. No, I’m not kidding.

But I digress…the one thing I wanted to post about is that in 4 days I will start working from home at 50% time. I have to go in to the office on Thursday afternoons but other than that, I will be working from a work laptop from home. I only get 50% pay so that is the bad part, but it will be offset somewhat by no parking (well except for the 1 day a week but that’s cheaper than monthly permit), less gas, and no childcare bills. Those would have been $1300 a month or so, had she gotten in to daycare. That is another whole long post which I intend to someday write, but for now the gist of it is that I got on 3 different waiting lists at my employer’s different daycares when I first got pregnant, last year, but they STILL do not have a place for Lauren. I had to pay $50 to be on these lists and they were not open and honest about the slim chances I’d have for getting her in, they just took my $50 and they made it seem like a fair system when in fact it is not. But anyway, that is another whole long story which you don’t want to get me going on…

So, after it became clear to us that I would not be able to, as I planned, simply drive Lauren in to daycare, go to work and visit and feed her at lunch, and then drive home with her, we started looking into other options. Of course, by now since I didn’t have her on any outsidelists, I lost out on some chances for other good daycare places. We didn’t want to hire an illegal alien nanny, which seems to be what a lot of people around here do, and we didn’t know how we could really trust someone in a small home daycare system. (Mainly our distrust comes from watching our neighbors who have (had?) an illegal daycare operation running where kids were playing in a pool unsupervised, etc.) The institutional daycare appealed to us because of the level of oversight. No one would really get a chance to molest or beat or neglect our child with the sheer number of employees and parents coming and going. Some of them even have webcams for parents to watch their child at any time. But big institutional daycare centers have long waiting lists so they were out of the picture. I did not really want to stay home with Lauren and be a stay-at-home mom because well, frankly, we need the money and I value the company of other adults who compensate me monetarily in appreciation for my work! (In other words I would be bored at home all day and can’t imagine not having a paycheck.)

After much soul-searching on the matter, we decided that if I had to, I would take a leave of absence from work until we could get her in to a good daycare program. We have her on a list for a co-op daycare which starts at age 2. It really appeals to us for the level of involvement parents have. All parents have to volunteer one afternoon a month and one Saturday a quarter (cleaning on Saturdays) Another program was recommended to me with an even longer list but I learned the insider tips for getting Lauren in (sign up for every list they have, even the ones for only one or two days a week, then get in for one day a week, and from there you have a better chance of getting in full-time. Demonstrate that she is “gifted” and that we are willing to volunteer and commit to the program long-term). A friend with a baby offered to watch Lauren but she lives completely on the other side of town and it would be too long of a commute. Anyway, I wanted to give my boss as much notice as possible about possibly not working, so I had a talk with her about it and she said that rather than lose me as an employee, she would try to come up with some way I could work part-time from home. The main component of my job that I am the only one here who really knows how to do, I can do from anywhere on my laptop. So starting on Friday, I go to the new plan!

I’m very grateful that my boss has given me this chance to work and still spend time with Lauren and not have to worry about her. The loss of 50% of my salary is downright scary but we would have had to start paying almost that much for infant care anyway very soon. My mother is watching her at the moment but she is a teacher and her school year is starting. Plus, she has her own life and needs to get back to it. My “telecommuting agreement” is that I will do this for September, October, and November. In November, my boss has the option to review it and see if she wants to extend it or recall me back to full-time office duties. I’m banking on Lauren continuing her long afternoon naps, and if not, then I’ll have to do the work in the evenings when Ryan is home. I have a feeling it will end up adding up to more than 20 hours if I am constantly checking email to see what I’m missing. But on the other hand, I will be able to focus more on technical things without all of the interruptions I get now from people constantly wandering in lost, calling on the phone, or just coming in to chat. In fact, I should get back to some of that work right now; I’m interrupting myself by writing this!

Monday, August 21, 2006

funny translation of a german spam

Got a German spam email today.  When I ran it through babelfish, this is what it came up with (note especially the last sentence):
A beautiful good evening Mrs. emperor Kaiser-Afroune, we got your inquiry concerning a housing management passed on. In order to be able to provide you an offer that is particularly co-ordinated with your desires, we need still a few data. We usually take up before offer dispatching with the customer telephone contact, in order to present us briefly and experience object details. You would like to also take yourselves or wish a few minutes time you only an offer of kind of condition. This would be then not-binding up to the object inspection and corresponds to our experiences with a comparable object. About a feedback we would be pleased much. Gladly you can call a telephone date us or call you simply on. About an InterNet attendance on our homepage www.erdbeerblume.de we would be pleased also much. Loving a greeting from the cloud-imposed meal its Sandra Sziedat

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Chocolate Story with a Sweet Ending

Last night I was supposed to go do a focus group and get paid $75 to taste gourmet chocolates. I was looking forward to this all week. After work I got in my car and drove through heavy traffic to Plaza Research, down by the airport. The recruiter on the phone told me it started at 6:00 p.m. but when they sent me a postcard with directions to the facility, it asked me to be there 15 minutes early. At 15 minutes to 6, I called to let them know that I was on Sepulveda, almost there but not quite. They told me to "not bother coming" because the group would be in the room by then. :( But I figured maybe I could still make it by 6:00 and since I was so close, I drove the rest of the way anyway, and arrived in their office at 6:05. They said "Why did you bother coming? We told you not to on the phone?". I explained about the traffic, and they were not very nice. No $75, no chocolate.

The thing is, I absolutely structured my week around this stupid focus group. I made sure Lauren had extra milk in the fridge, pumped at work right before I left, got my mom to watch her, changed social plans, missed Greg's birthday party, etc. Not to mention all of the wasted time and gas driving down there. So I was really mad at them for not letting me in, simply for being 5 minutes late. Then they tried to tell me that no, I was really 20 minutes late. But the recruiter on the phone had said 6:00. I would not have agreed to it had I thought it started at 5:45. 45 minutes is not enough time to drive across town in heavy traffic and keep my sanity. It's just not worth $75.

Anyway, I got back to my car (which they did at least validate my parking ticket for, I would have been really angry if I had to pay to park on top of everything else) and called Ryan. I didn't mean to but I started to cry. I hate being female sometimes. You try to be tough but estrogen kicks in and the tears flow at inopportune times. Anyway, the happy ending is that being the wonderful husband he is, he went out and bought different kinds of gourmet chocolate and surprised me with a "tasting" for me at home. Reason # 2 million of why I love him, is the little things he thinks of to do.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lauren and Jakey, Sitting in a Tree...

Lauren has decided that Jake delights her. She watches his every move with a captivated happy expression on her face. She reaches out and tries to pet him but instead pinches him and grabs big fistfuls of his fur and tries to pull it. He takes it but only for so long and then he moves out of her reach. Sometimes he kisses her on the forehead and she loves this. She squeals in delight. She finds it hilarious when he barks, or growls or paws at me or acts naughty in any way. She opens her mouth, throws her head back and laughs out loud, shakes her arms and wiggles in appreciation.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

MBNA Credit Card Not Worth Having

I will spare you the even longer more boring story, but to sum up, I purchased some big-ticket items with my MBNA LL BEAN PLATINUM VISA and afterwards went to register the product's with Visa's warranty protection. I was informed that MBNA "does not participate" in this Visa benefit. What?! So then I spent a lot of time on the phone with Visa trying to figure out what was going on, because I have used this very feature (when the fridge and DVD player broke in the same week, back in 2002 or so) and because of the benefit, that's why I put all of my expensive stuff on that card, such as Ryan's laptop, computer printers, and appliances.

Oddly, MBNA has continually raised my credit limit on this card so that it is now almost my yearly take-home pay. Way higher than most people with higher incomes even get, and way higher than my limit on other cards. So it's not just that I had the wrong kind of card or not high enough level. Evidently they did this for everyone. They supposedly sent out a letter informing customers that this benefit would be dropped. I'm one of those people who actually reads the small print enclosed in statements and I never saw any notice. While I was googling to find out about this problem, I found this post from another guy who also never got their supposedly sent letter. This seems like a class action waiting to happen.

There are 2 ironic things in this story though-1 is that I had another Visa card in my wallet which I would normally use because I get Amazon points (through Chase bank) and that card would have provided warranty extension but I didn't use it because it didn't say the word "platinum" on it which I thought was key. The second is that after I went the trouble to return the items and buy them back again on the Chase card, I found out that 1 item has a 3 year warranty anyway! (The store's ad said it only had 1 year thus prompting this whole warranty-extension madness in the first place).

Anyway, I am boring even myself as I type this but bottom line, I wanted to warn my friends that if you have MBNA, they SUCK and you should use another card. I recommend the Chase card and I recommend registering your big-ticket stuff with Visa. You send Visa copies of the receipt & warranty and if something ever breaks, they double the warranty for you, reimbursing your repair bills if paid on Visa. It's a protection benefit you already have through your card so you might as well make it work for you. Just don't get MBNA!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This will make you smile


Click on this and see if you don't smile back! =)

It was taken when Lauren was 7 weeks old. Usually I am private about photos & video of her and haven't put any on this blog, only on login-only websites. However, I felt the need to share just this one. She looks so different now! But the smile is the same, and I am glad to report that I've seen that look many times tonight and giggles as well! Which means she is finally getting better. Phew!

Sick Little Girl

We took Lauren to her regular doctor yesterday and she thinks she has some kind of virus/flu because her temperature was too high to be just from teething. We are supposed to give her Tylenol every 4 hours and hope it goes away in 1 week.

Poor little girl has been fussing and tossing and turning at night. We had to throw the whole "sleep training" thing out the window and have her sleep in bed with us because she wakes up frequently and thrashes around and panics if she can't reach out and touch me in her sleep. And also if her pacifier falls out, so it's easiest if I'm inches away, to put it back in her mouth. She sleeps like I (normally) do, stretched out, so that means I sleep curled up to have room on the bed. As a result, this morning I woke up with such a backache. I didn't want to take any medicine for it, even aspirin, because I didn't want it to get into my milk and react with Lauren's Tylenol. So I put heat on it and after a couple of hours of just sitting in my chair at work and not getting up, the pain went away.

But really, a little back pain is nothing compared to how bad I feel watching Lauren suffer and make her pathetic little "eh eh" sounds. My mom says she is doing a little bit better today. Not back to her usual happy self yet, and she still has a fever, but she's less upset. We hope she's getting better soon!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lauren's First Trip to Urgent Care

After I wrote the last post, I took Lauren's temperature again and it was up to 101.4. So I gave her a cold bath (found out later this is not good, should be a lukewarm bath not COLD) and got it down to 99.5. We took her over to Kaiser's Urgent Care. We are fortunate enough to have 2 insurances. Her main pediatrician is through UCLA and doesn't do urgent care, so I would have had to bring her to the emergency room through that insurance. Instead we went to Kaiser.

Anyway, the pediatrician looked her over and thinks it is just from teething. Her eyes, nose, mouth and ears were fine. He gave her liquid Motrin and IMMEDIATELY she perked up (although she cried while eating it) and then she finally ate. She was in such a giggly mood when we got home, back to her completely normal self. That is, until the medicine wore off and before we gave her another dose.

She is supposed to suck on Pedialite pops and I'm supposed to bring her in to see her regular pediatrician as soon as she can get an appointment, Monday or Tuesday.

She's fussing now so I have to go give her another chilled pacifier...

Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Sweet Baby?

Lauren was up all night last night, sleeping only for short bursts of time, which meant we were up all night. She is teething and she's in pain. You know the moaning sound Harry made in "When Harry Met Sally"? She did that "ehh ehhh ehhh " thing all night when she wasn't screaming. At 3:00 I finally gave her some infant Tylenol which helped for a few minutes. She refused to eat until I got a chilled bottle, even then she had only a few sips.

She seems fine this morning, mostly back to her cheerful usual self. She is a little bit whiny still with some "ehh"s in there where usually it's giggles. If she doesn't perk up in a few hours, I'm taking her in to Urgent Care to make sure she doesn't have an ear infection. Her temperature is 98.8

Friday, August 04, 2006

4 Month Relections-4 Days Late

Lauren turned 4 months old on Tuesday. She's such a sweet, sweet baby. We're really proud of her. She always has this twinkle in her eye like it's Christmas morning for her all the time. I love watching her see new things. I look forward to her first ice cream cone and her first trip to the beach. Of course, she's not eating solid foods until at least 6 months and she's not allowed out in the sun yet either (I'm afraid she got my fair complexion-one of these days I'll be posting about "Lauren's First Freckle").

One of her new activities is sleep appreciation. (I can relate!) Yesterday she took a 6 HOUR NAP. Yes, you read that right. And the night before that, she slept from 10 PM to 5:30 AM. Now, she did wake up twice and made fussing sounds, but Ryan put her pacifier back in her mouth and she was fine. For the nap, though, she slept 6 solid hours in a row from noon until 6:00 p.m.

My mom is watching her this month and they're having such a good time. Lauren loves Nonnon and giggles and looks so happy. They play and read stories and have lots of cuddling. She still loves the grocery store (that can be read either way, my mom loves it too!) and meeting new people.

Last night Lauren's European boyfriend came over. They were both playing on the mat when they HELD HANDS! I was in the kitchen and was summoned in but they stopped by the time I got there.

Lauren has really come so far in 4 months, from a baby who mostly slept all day and ate and pooped seemingly every hour, to the interactive baby who loves to reach out and touch things and "talk" (we can't understand her "words" yet). Oh, and we found out she loves reggae! She gets a very happy, focused look on her face when it comes on, like she's going to compose any day now.

She's grown 2 teeth and 2 more are on the way. Her eyebrows have gotten darker, more like mine (Ryan's are very light) and her eyelashes are very long. The hair might be red, we're not sure because it seems she has even less of it than when she was born. I think that her eyes are turning green, but they are still a sort of navy blue, not the light blue like my dad's. She's wearing size 6 months clothes and size 3 diapers.

Congrats Ryan!

Ryan found out the other day that he is a quarterfinalist in the Nichols Fellowship screenwriting competition. a> Less than 10% of entries received made it this far in the competition. He then advances to the next round. Yay, Ryan!! Cross your fingers for him and his latest script! Baby needs a new pair of shoes!