Sunday, September 17, 2006

The very definition of busy!

Whew. If I thought I was busy before, I didn't know what was coming!

This past week has been busier than any week so far. It's been really really really busy! Between training, getting my old claims finished up, and running meetings, I've barely had time to breathe at work. It's just insane! And I lost my first employee on Friday...she gave her two weeks' notice despite assuring me that it was nothing to do with me.

And every night I have fallen asleep on the couch watching television. I'm just exhausted at night.

However, I'm not too busy for quality time with my girl! I've spent almost all weekend with my daughter. Yesterday P went to the lake to see some friends, and even though at first I was irritated because I didn't want to be on my own all day, I was glad later because it forced me to put everything else aside (cleaning, work, laundry) and just focus on HER for a full day. We had a great time. We spent several hours just exploring the house and playing, and then I took her shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond, Babies R Us, and the grocery store. I brought her home, I made us Korean barbecue from one of my baby cookbooks, and then I bathed her and it was lights out. Today, we had a playdate with one of my friends (and current managers) and her daughter, so we took the girls to the mall, had lunch, let them play on the floor of a bookstore for a while, and then strolled them around the mall while they snoozed. It was great.

And she made me SO proud today at lunch. While my friend S struggled to get her seven-month-old to eat bananas and drink her bottle, MY GIRL ate her chicken, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and pear-applesauce with gusto, and THEN proceeded to feed herself three pieces of grilled chicken, pineapple and a slice of orange that I cut up real small for her. What a trooper. I'm SO proud!!! I know it won't always be like this, but for the moment, I'm relishing it.

Anyway, that's about all that's new at the moment. We have all kinds of new baby stuff around here after this weekend's t-shirts, new crib bumpers, fireplace bumpers, hair accessories, bath toys, all kinds of neat stuff!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Do you remember when?

That's the question that a lot of us that have had babies in the last few years are going to get down the road when they learn about September 11, 2001 in their U.S. History classes in high school. I compare it to us asking our parents, "Do you remember when JFK was assassinated?"

And the answer is, yes, I remember when, and I will never forget, as I'm sure a lot of us never will.

September 11, 2001

I had been working with my company for about six months. I had just started adjusting field claims and had just been working from home for about a week. September 11 could have been any ordinary day...I woke up, ate breakfast, booted up my computer, checked the fax machine for new claims, and was sitting at the table checking my email when P called.

P: "Hey, a plane hit the World Trade Center!"
E: "Really? Oh, my God, that's terrible. What happened? Was it a big plane? A small plane?"
P: "I don't know. They think it was a communication problem. I'll let you know if I hear anything else."
E: "Okay, I'm going to go walk Katie."

At this point, I'm thinking it was a fluke, an accident, and nothing to be worried about, so I go walk Katie. I never imagined I'd come back to one of the worst days in American history.

When I walked back in the house, I don't remember what exactly happened after that, but I remember talking to P on the phone again and finding out that a second plane had hit the second tower and that it was no accident. No fluke. And it was no small plane either. They were jets. BIG JETS. I turned on CNN, and pretty much CNN stayed on at our house for about the next week solid. The Pentagon was hit. Another plane crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania. All air traffic was closed indefinitely. Then the towers collapsed.

I remember feeling numb for the entire day. I remember feeling so sad. But most of all, I remember feeling so scared. NO ONE KNEW WHAT HAPPENED OR WHO WAS BEHIND IT. No one knew if it was over. No one knew how many people had been killed. No one knew anything.

P's company closed their office early that day, so he came home that day to watch television and be sad and scared with me, but I had an appointment that day that I couldn't cancel. My company didn't close since most employees were virtual. So off I went around 2:30 to drive to my appointment.

There were no cars on the streets. It was very quiet. The radios were all talk and no music. I remember thinking to myself, "Is this what it feels like when your country is attacked? Is this what they felt like after Pearl Harbor? After Nagasaki? After Hiroshima?" It was very weird, like something out of a movie, except it was real. And another irrational thought that I had was that Dallas was next...all I knew was that they were attacking major cities and even though air traffic was closed, who knew if there was going to be some other kind of attack? Bombs? What was coming next?

And that night the Dallas skies, which were normally lit up like a Christmas tree, were dark and quiet, and would stay that way for days, almost as if in observance of the terrible loss our country suffered that day.

I guess I was naive until that day, because I never really truly realized the extent of the hatred that the Islam extremists responsible for the attacks felt for Americans and our way of life until then. Now my eyes are wide open.

Anyway, it was a sad day for me and for all Americans. Even though I did not personally know anyone that died in the attacks, it was a heartbreaking and sad day for me. It will be sad tomorrow as we all reflect and remember.

And I hate that one day my daughter is going to have to learn about it and will ask me, "Why, Mommy? Why do they hate us so much?"

I am sad for that day because I will have no answer for her. How can you explain something that you don't understand yourself?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My crawling master and my high-low

She's everywhere, she can do steps and for lugging around 25# of her own body weight, she's freakishly FAST. That's all I have to say. And we're realizing just how messy our house is.

My high for today: I made a new recipe for mashed potatoes tonight. I have made mashed potatoes probably thirty or forty times and they always come out fine, but tonight I decided to try a new method of making them that I read in my Texas Home Cooking cookbook that I bought a few weeks ago. It involves boiling the potatoes with a lot of salt, scalding milk and keeping it warm for adding to the potatoes, and drying out the potatoes by stirring them on low heat before adding the milk and butter. They were AWESOME. I think I'm in love with the cookbook. So far, everything that I have made from this cookbook has been just absolutely delicious...I've made milagro meatloaf, year-round salsa, and this avocado green sauce. Here's the Amazon link for anyone that's interested...I highly recommend it. It's definitely got a better record right now than my Racheal Ray books, which are slowly taking a nosedive lately.

My low for today: I had my first appointment for a Brazilian wax today with my old aesthetician at Avalon Aveda since McKenna was born. (Here's a funny story about a Brazilian in case you're not clear on what it is.) I couldn't even remember how long it had been since I had been in, but I knew I hadn't been waxed since I started trying to have a baby, so I knew it was 2004. I couldn't remember how long the hair needed to be, so I just left it alone, didn't trim and didn't shave. I'll spare the details, but I really felt I needed to tip D (the waxer) extra because I was so (ahem) unruly, it does NOT look pretty (in fact, it looks pretty darn angry with me), and I actually had to take some Tylenol a few hours ago to help with the pain. And I've had probably a dozen Brazilians!!! It was so painful, it actually took my breath away a few times. I actually started sweating!

And to think I actually PAID D to cause me that pain. WHAT was I thinking?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The art of corporate upper management politics

In a sentence, I SUCK at it.

I'm way too tired to type in all the faux pas that I have made over the last week since I've started my training to become a supervisor, but let me just tell you's EXHAUSTING analyzing every decision at work to make sure that you're not pissing off anyone.

And for a paperless workplace, they sure are blanketing me with a TON of paper and a million email attachments and emails.

Thank GOD my employees think I'm doing a good job. One of them who I was convinced hated me before I started supervising her told one of the other adjusters in the office today that she (and I quote) "LOVES working for Erica". Wow. That's SO cool. And all just because I'm doing my job and giving her regular feedback on her files!

Of course, there is someone in the office who loathes me, and that would be our lovely recruiter K who refuses to speak to me, make eye contact, or in other words acknowledge that I am breathing. Ha ha ha! Mission accomplished. And she quit...her last day is September 15.

Not too much else to report at the moment except for the fact that McKenna crawled finally for the first time on her ten month birthday. It wasn't really that big of a deal at first on Tuesday or last night because she wouldn't crawl more than a step, but tonight she was sitting in my lap watching television and then all of a sudden decided that the satellite receiver eight feet in front of her was mighty fascinating and that she just had to start touching the knobs and buttons.

We are SO in trouble with the childproofing.

I'm back from stitching exile and on to scrapping again. I went to a crop last week at my friend D's house which was just the boost of creativity that I needed to get going again, and last weekend thanks to some uninterrupted crop time from P, I finished McKenna's pages through six months. I also finally ripped apart two of my books that were segregated by trips and by high school and just went ahead and put them in chronological order, so now I feel a lot better about it and very organized. Tonight, I went through all my high school, middle school, college, and childhood pictures, decided what I need to scan in, decided what memorabilia to paste in my pages, and in general organized them for the thirtieth time. But it's all good...I'm super-duper organized now and ready to crop this weekend! I just need to figure out what I want to work on...I have a few possibilities.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I love my Dutch oven

Being the culinary guru that I am, I have certain items in my kitchen that I absolutely can NOT live without. They are as follows in order of must-have:

1) my Kitchen Aid stand mixer (if you don't have one, go directly to Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon and get one)
2) my garlic press (I went through about five before I settled on one that I love)
3) my microplaner (awesome for zesting citrus and grating ginger)
4) my food processor
5) my Crock Pot
6) my terracotta garlic keeper
7) my herb keeper for the fridge (keeps herbs fresh for weeks!)

And Dutch oven joins the list. That thing is freaking AWESOME. I bought it about two months ago for making casseroles, but hadn't had a chance to try it out yet. Today I made a braised beef dish with carrots and sweet potatoes for McKenna...and it called for a "heavy-bottomed saucepan". Perfect opportunity.

Not only did that thing conduct heat like the dickens and saute my onions and garlic just perfectly, it also shaved forty-five minutes off the total cooking time at the end. "Simmer" to me is usually a very low boil...apparently to the Dutch oven, "simmer" is a HIGH boil!

Awesome...just awesome. And considering it was heavy cast iron, it cleaned up like a DREAM!

In case you aren't aware of what a Dutch oven is (I had to look it up), it is a very heavy cast-iron or enameled saucepan with a lid (usually 5 or 6 quart) that can be used on top of the range and also moved directly to the oven. I had to get cast-iron because I have a glasstop range and if you aren't aware, apparently enameled cookware can ruin glasstop ranges. (No, thankfully I didn't learn that the hard way...I read the instruction manual on an enameled skillet before I used it!)

Anyway, I love it. LOVE IT!

Friday, September 01, 2006

The formula conspiracy

In all my irritation over the HR wench at work, I almost forgot to post McKenna's stats from her 10 month checkup!

Weight: 25 lbs, 9 oz (above 95th percentile)
Height: 29 1/8" (75-90th percentile)

She also got a Hep B shot and a finger prick test for iron. Her iron count is off the chart.

That being said, we have been slowly sneaking whole milk into McKenna's bottles. Guys, I just can't stand buying formula anymore. She eats yogurt and cheese with no problem at all, so clearly she's not lactose intolerant. So today, after I got the standard no-milk-until-12-mos lecture from the pediatrician, I, the annoying hippy mom, had to ask. WHY!?!?!?!?

She really hemmed and hawed but I kept poking and digging. She finally admitted that her big reasons for wanting to wait were that she didn't want McKenna to become anemic or constipated.

But, wait...doesn't fibrous grains and veggies like oatmeal, pears and asparagus help with constipation? Isn't broccoli, green beans, and beef loaded with iron?

After reminding the ped that McKenna eats a lot healthier than most babies her age (and probably more adults, including me) and in general being really annoying, I got the green light to switch her to milk.

Score! Maybe I'll get my scrapbooking allowance back!

So now I'm convinced that the formula thingy is a big racket. But then again, most babies at ten months aren't the size of two-year-olds, so there is that.

The pediatrician also thought it was hilarious that I actually fed McKenna pureed celery. I'm sure that was discussed and laughed at hysterically around the doctor's office all day.

Inconsiderate AND rude

Want to hear a good ranting story about my day today? Pull up a chair.

This is the story of my brush today with a recruiter in our office. I can't even TELL you how annoyed I was all day today.

Okay, let's rewind. In a meeting on Tuesday with my managers, they mentioned to me that they would like for me to accompany our two recruiters to a local college today to go to a mixer that they were going to have with said college's Insurance Club (I know, I had no idea such a thing existed either) which was basically lunch followed by a Q&A session. Immediately after the meeting, I went to the recruiter's cube (to be known throughout story as K) to tell her that I would meet her up here at the office on Friday between 11 am and 11:15 am so I could drive her (since she doesn't have a company car) and that I would probably be here before that, but that I had a pediatrician's appointment on Friday at 8:30 am. I should also probably let you know that the college we were going to is about thirty minutes north of my house while my office is probably about twenty minutes east. In other words, my office is totally out of the way compared to the college, and that I was only coming to the office to pick her up to be nice.

Yesterday, I went by her desk to confirm the times and confirm the business dress and everything. So it was a go. I also gave her my business card with my cell number on it. Please note (as it is relevant to the story) that SHE did not bother to give me HER cell number, much less a business card.

So today, I get up and go to my pediatrician's appointment. Today, coincidentally, was also my first day supervising a team. The doctor didn't come to see us until about 9:15, and by the time I got McKenna to school, picked up wipes at the drugstore, etcetera, it was 10 am. I still had to get home, work for a little bit and shower/primp for this mixer.

Around 10:30, the supervisor for the team that I am taking over calls to discuss some HR issues with me about another employee. That ate up thirty minutes. By the time I got her off the phone and got ready to shower, it was 11:07. I immediately picked up the phone and called K at our office. The only way I had to get ahold of her was calling the office. I asked for her, they transferred me to her voice mail, and I left a message telling her that my pediatrician's appointment ran late and that I wouldn't be there until 11:30, but that we would leave as soon as I got there. I reminded her in the message to call me if there were any changes. I shower at the speed of light, throw on my clothes, and hop in the car with makeup and brush to jet to the office. I pulled up at 11:31 and parked in the fire lane.

Would you believe that when I walked upstairs, she was nowhere to be found?

APPARENTLY, from what my investigation revealed, when I wasn't there right at 11 am (even though the agreement was 11-11:15) she took off without a word to anyone, a note on my desk, or (this is the part that really got me) A FRIGGING CALL TO MY CELL PHONE. One of my coworkers apparently even offered to give her my cell phone number or call me, offers which she declined because "she would just call me on the road".

No. She did NOT call me on the road. I went into my manager's office and got her cell number and called her at 11:55 and left her a message, basically telling her very politely that if she would just call me back and tell me where we were going, I would leave to meet her.

I never got a call. Not all afternoon.

She finally showed back up at our office at 4:15 pm and went straight into my manager's office to talk about what had happened. My manager's daughter got sick so she couldn't come by and tell me what happened, so the next thing that happened was that K came by my desk to "apologize". Ha. This is the dialogue:

K: I'm sorry you missed out on coming.
(E thinks to herself that if that's her idea of an apology, K has a thing or two to learn.)
E: K, you could have called me.
K: You were supposed to be here at 11 and we waited for you until 11:10.
E: I left you a message that I was running late due to my daughter's appointment. Did it occur to you to pick up your cell phone and call me? All you had to do was call me.
K: *blank stare*
E: The only reason why I came over to the office was to pick you up because you didn't have a company car. All you had to do was call me and I would have turned around and met you at the college. Given my proximity to the college, I probably would have beat you there.
K: *blank stare*
E: You didn't call me back all afternoon. It was inconsiderate and rude and it threw a wrench into my entire day.
K: *starts shuffling off* All I can do is apologize.
E: Apology accepted.

I'm sure I'll get in trouble on Tuesday for telling her that she was inconsiderate and rude, but it was so worth it to see the deer in headlights look on her face after she stood me up AND made me look stupid in front of my managers. My boss talked to her boss, and given K's reputation in our office, they aren't believing her for a second, but whatever.

Yeah, I know. I'm a bitch. I call it like I see it, and I never claimed to be anything but brutally blunt.