Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not very good at actually even remembering that I make these, if I do make them, but I wanted to make some this year.
  1. Try and be more present for the girls
  2. Remembering to be grateful at the end of each day
  3. Spend Mommy and Me time with both girls
  4. Support Liam more
  5. Get healthier and more active, do at least 2 workouts a week and track my food
  6. Pay off another 30% of my student loans

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas time is here.....

(Just was this in my drafts that I forgot to publish)

And our DVD player isn't working :( This means no Christmas Story, Rudolph etc on Christmas night. I might try and work something out with youtube, so we'll see. The girls and I had cookies this morning for Santa! I still haven't wrapped Liam's 3 presents. And I'm glad we decided to buy a couple of things for the girls over here because the big Amazon box with their presents in it that my mom was supposed to ship over here. Well it never even made it to my mom's house. This was a month ago. My family kept saying how all these boxes were arriving for me, so I just assumed that it was the box with all of the gifts. Nope!

It's not like they will notice, but it's definitely still a bummer. So Amazon has given me a $12 credit and has said they will refund the money if the items aren't a my mom's today. It won't really help us, but at least it will be something. Z will be getting a bike, Dinosaur Train trainset and a Merida doll and horse (from her godfather) and Boo is going to get a rocking moose from Ikea, Bob the Builder toy set and a doll. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A plague on our house

Boo has been sick for about the past month with a cough and fever on and off Liam and I are finally getting a touch of it. I'm off for the next week, which is awesome. I thought of all of the things I would get done...I've been having chills, fever, coughing so hard it hurts my back and sinus pressure to make my eyes tear. We had to put in a special overtime request for Melody to come in last night because we were both just pretty much crawling around the house as the girls took everything out of every drawer.  I'm just hoping I'll be ok by Christmas and can get some food prep done for the new year. As it is, I'm just pretty much excited about going back to sleep right now. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Getting my financial house in order

I've closed 2 random accounts with about $30 in them that I opened for god knows why. I also officially cancelled a credit card I had and I never used, but came with a yearly $75 fee and managed to talk my way out of those fees not being paid and the interest associated with them. I'm pretty sure there is a few hundred dollars I owe someone for my short hospital visit in 2012, but I get my mail about once a year so who knows who it is.  I also set up automated savings transfers for our yearly travel fund, a bit more into my Roth IRA, house downpayment and general savings accounts.

I found out that I have been putting money into an investment  and retirement fund for the past 4 years and didn't even really notice. It was a small amount every month and I finally managed to talk to someone to reset my log in details and check it out. I think I stopped checking in 2008 when everything was in red and just depressing. It is now rosier picture and I actually feel like I have some savings for retirement even if it's much less than where all those retirement calculators say I should be. The other biggie is the dreaded student loans, the massive 6 figure number that looms over my head...still dreaded. We've made a nice dent and we're on track with the goal of paying them off in a few years. Then I can finally feel like I'm not single handedly pulling our family's financial future into the toilet and Liam can start chucking away more money for retirement. The loans are the only debt we have aside from my car loan (15 months left) and the mortgage on the house in the UK, which is rented out. It's just crazy when I look at those loans and realize that it's for 5 semesters of tuition. I think I took out about $1500 for living expenses one semester. We, ie Liam, paid for all of my living expenses. I guess I should feel a bit happy that at least it's less than it could be...ugh.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Trying to figure it out

I'm still in wtf am I doing mode. It feels like everyone is putting a whole lot of stock in my legal knowledge when it comes to the contracts, but they are mainly hotel, catering, and equipment agreements that will have to go through main campus anyway. It seems pretty straightforward or I'm missing something huge. Liam thinks it's just people's innate fear of all things legal.

Computer science crash courses are in my future. I wish I had taken a few classes. Designing databases and Sharepoint site would make my life a lot more productive now. I'm thinking my yearly training may just be programming-based this year.

Thanksgiving was great! We had a large friends celebration with a bunch of new people on the day and the girls had so much fun running around outside with all the other kids in attendance. Work also had a Thanksgiving dinner at a hotel. The girls were running around, jumping in the moon bounce,  getting their faces painted and having balloon animals made, which promptly popped when they laid them down on the grass. We didn't have many leftovers which was a bummer, but we're hoping to have more after Christmas dinner.

Z had an uneventful 3rd birthday. I can't believe she's getting so big. My little one will be in school next year with a little uniform and all that jazz. She's so hilarious sometimes with her favorite phrases, "It's so delicious", "Of course", "I'm very upset with you" and other gems. Z also loves being a great big sister, showing Boo how to work the iPad, climb the play kitchen and get water out of the water cooler. She's turning into a serious little leader. I can definitely tell why first borns tend to take leadership positions. They are always used to having someone follow. That's not to say that Boo doesn't assert her dominance from time to time. She's not above a bit of hairpulling to get her very serious points across. With the new job, Liam's workload and just general holiday craziness, we didn't do much for Z's birthday. Z and I made cupcakes the day before school for her class and then we had cupcakes at home. We got her a balloon as a present and she loved it. They had days of fun with that one. Other than that we've been buying our gifts online for the family to send over and wrapping as we go along buying a few things here or there.

I was also told today that Liam could be eligible for a benefit through my job we didn't think he would be, unfortunately not health insurance (bummer), but a travel allowance, which would be a nice pay bump. Or they will be deducting that amount from my paychecks over the next few months. I asked and they said it was all good, so I'll be super pissed if they come back in a few months like...wow, yeah you shouldn't have gotten that...

So that's pretty much it. Next week will be laid back because everyone is starting to leave the country. I'm excited for all the gingerbread house, sing-a-long and school Christmas party the girls will be having. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Flexible work schedule!

Yeah for that, it means I can come in earlier and leave earlier to drop off and pick up the girls from nursery. This means I spend between 30-45 minutes in the car each way as opposed to 1.5 hours. I also found out that working away from the office while on "vacation" is possible. This means that I can go back to the US with the girls this summer for the month of Ramadan and not have to use all of my vacation days. Sweet!! Now we just have to find a place to stay that won't break the bank.

The work is still a little bit of a mystery to me, but I'll definitely be learning a lot of new programs, programs I have wanted to work with and I'll have to tools to actually learn them. InDesign, Excel (crazy indepth), LiveCycle, InfoPath, etc. All of these programs, plus probably picking up some programming knowledge. This are all things that I feel like will be useful in life, so getting to learn them on the job is even better. I also have to figure out what I want my yearly training to be, I don't know if I should go conference or course. I'll have to see what interests me most.

I've been able to help with some process sorting out as well as some policy write ups. I'm still learning and there are so many, but I feel like I'm starting to get a hold on things. I went out to lunch wit hthe Director and I thought we were going to have a work talk, but she just wanted to chat. It was fun. So far things are good, can't wait ti get in and start running trainings! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The beginning

It's very weird to go from knowing tons about what's going on in an office, having people come to you with their problems and knowing how to fix them to not even knowing where to get your pens. This new position is a lot to get used to going from that situation. I spent last week meeting with everyone in the office, finding out what they do, what systems they are working with and what needs they have. It was a little weird for them, I think they thought I was trying to do something negative, but then after the first few people everyone realized that I'm just trying to help out.

I now have a list of all areas that need work, I'll compile them and see what topics came up most and figure out with the Director what issues I'll tackle first. I must say that having a game plan in place getting my training started will be essential or I'll feel completely useless in the office. I already kind of do, but it's so nice to hear the phone ringing and not freaking out about making sure someone is answering it. I still have the urge to answer other people's phones. I also don't have to worry about whether or not supplies are stocked, booking conference calls with 3 minutes notice or being buried under a pile of paperwork every month like clockwork. It's strange not having my team and I don't think they will stay for very long after my departure. I tried to set things up for them after I left, but apparently things are reverting to the pre-me status quo.

The next steps after the game plan will be really trying to figure out what the heck everyone is doing! There are so many departments in our department, I've count 6 and there are 16 people. At least I've got the names down, next it's more interviewing, writing processes and policies and then once I've sorted that out it's onto training prep. It's going to be a super busy time getting used to all of this. It's exciting and a little scary!     

Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Day

I've survived my first day, which was complete with impromptu military exercise that had us stranded in the office for 3 hours, snipers on the roof and vehicles that looked like the Christian Bale batmobiles rolling around outside of the building. It was weird.

I made it through some confusing orientations, picked up my emergency preparedness bag, complete with MREs, water bladders, candles and water purification tablets. I'll perhaps get some more orientation later. I also learned of a nice shipping bonus, which means my family can send over all the Christmas presents they want for the girls!

I still don't know what exactly I'll be doing! And my supervisor is leaving for a week and a half. Contracts and documentation seem to be on the forefront and then the training will happen a bit later. It also seems as though most of the department is new, so even they are confused about many of the policies. I'm looking forward to all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas events they will be having and we can also now enroll in a bunch of great classes for the girls in like gymnastics, piano, ballet and swimming for free! The big challenge now will be figuring out exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, what the department needs and get in some good development programs to keep me on my toes. It's exciting and I'm so glad I'm finally at the new job. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

And of course now I'm sad to leave

I'm sure that this is because I know I'm going, but I'm really going to miss 90% of the office. I teared up a bit when one of my team told me how much she's going to miss our mad dashes to the elevator at 5 on the dot. I'm going to definitely miss my team and trying not to feel guilty for how things may change for them once I leave. The Partners brought someone in to shadow me and while she's super nice everyone keep saying they don't like her because she's not me. If she gets the position, I hope it will work out for her and everyone else in the team. I definitely don't want to leave people in a lurch.

I'll start work bright and early Sunday morning and I'm looking forward to it, but definitely nervous. At my current job, people know what I can do, appreciate it and we get along well. I'll be starting all over again and I just hope I can make that same impression again. It kind of feels like when you're about to start at a new school and you don't know where anything is and you're super nervous. That's me right now, sad I'm leaving and super nervous about my new start.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

1 week left!!!

And I'm go glad, Inept Co-worker is back to her old ways again. She knows I'm going, so she has started cursing at my team, telling them to get her coffee and order her lunch, throwing papers at them and telling them to do "urgent" tasks for her while she strolls out for her 6th 15 minute smoke break of the day. I'll talk to the Partners before I go, but if it reverts back to the way it was, they are going to be down the only 2 admin staff they have left. I was so boiling mad I actually started shaking some because I know that unless the Partners step in in a big way once I'm gone, she will continue to do this.

I'm wrapping up all of my work. Making sure that everything that needed to be done has been done/sent out/recorded. I've made sure that all my emails pertaining to Inept Coworker have been added to the document management system, so that things she's dropped the ball on will be less attributed to me. Although at this point, anything she says is my fault, even if it was, would be disbelieved. It's pretty bad when your reputation won't even allow anyone to trust you when you're telling the truth. But I'm trying to make sure it isn't even an issue and all of my loose ends are tied up. The office has also tried to sort out when we'll be having my "leaving doo" as they call it. My last day doesn't work because we're going to a co-worker's Halloween party right after work, the night before doesn't work because the office advocate is having everyone over to his house for dinner. I might come back the week after I leave to have some drinks and I'm sure hear all the crazy dirt.

I'm so excited to start at the new job!!!!!! I still need to email my new boss and find out about the arrival time, where I need to go to get my HR orientation and dress. Now that I have my driving license, I'm getting geared up for hobby time. Liam has been on my back for years to start golfing. He even bought me golf clubs on sale in Australia in 2008 and I've never used them. This year he won his guys golfing group award for something, I don't even know and got a nick chunky gift certificate for the local golf club. So I'll be taking a month's worth of lessons and then Liam keeps saying it will be our date night to go out for a round of golf. I'm not so sure, but I know that it's a good way to meet people and all that jazz, so I think I'll keep it up. I also bought a sewing machine and will be looking into clothes making classes that should be starting soon. Fun times!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The waiting game

2 weeks left of work...

We had a 5 day weekend which was great! Yay for Eid break, boo for Z getting hand, foot and mouth disease on the day before she's due to go back to school. It's apparently very common here. Small blisters show up on feet, possibly hands and maybe in the mouth. So far it's just on her feet and they will go away in a few days. Nothing can be done to move it along and nothing to prevent it other than washing hands a lot.

So I'm back at work today, many will still be away for Eid break, so I'm sure it will be a slow day. Everyone in the office knows I'm leaving now. They want to have some kind of lunch/dinner/drinking to see me off during my last week. I would go out to drinks with everyone after my last day, but that's Halloween, so I'll be taking the girls out trick-or-treating. Inept Co-worker was seriously pissed she wasn't informed first about me leaving because of how much that's going to inconvenience her...riiiiiight. If proper measures aren't put in place when I leave I think it will take less than a month for everything to go to pot again and I'm sure my name will be yelled in effigy by Inept Co-worker until the end of time for all of my "mistakes". Everyone in the office is dreading my departure for that reason. I am practically skipping to work these days because I know what I'll be leaving behind. I'll miss 95% of the office and the work I did was fine. The new job will have me handling some legal work, which will be in a non-lawyer capacity and in collaboration with the in house counsel of the school. I'm good with that.

The new job is already paying off in dividends. Their "fixer" has managed to work out my immigration issues and get me my ID card, which also meant I could get my driver's license, which is amazing freedom!! Freedom to actually drive my car and freedom from paying almost $400/mo in taxi fares. I'm going to have to contact my new boss because I still don't know what my hours are and what the dress code is. When I went for my interview everyone was in polo shirts/tshirts and jeans with flip flops or sneakers. I don't know if it was a dress down day or something, but I don't want to show up in my normal work clothes if everyone else is chillaxing in their comfiest clothes. I think I'm going to have to buy some jeans!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween is coming

Over here Halloween lives in their weird place of being a semi-holiday that Americans have pushed people from the UK and Australia into celebrating. Costumes, trick or treating and pumpkin carving are things a lot of people have adopted even if they wouldn't have celebrated in their home countries. One of the big obstacles to the traditional festivities is finding pumpkins! There are no pumpkin patches where you get to go out and pick your own pumpkin. Last year we didn't find one :( This year we're determined. If need be we will be going to a hotel for a pumpkin carving class because that might be the only place we can find them. The options are 1) searching random gas stations that also sell produce 2) Make sure to butternut squash or 3) scour the wholesale market where produce is imported into the country. This isn't a farmer's market type of deal, this is almost like a port for veggies where there is no direction and kind of organized chaos. We went to it last year, but were unsuccessful.

We have purchased costumes for the girls. There will be a Halloween parade at school and I've taken a half day so I can be there. We're gearing up for the holiday season and I'm getting so excited!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Notice Period

So the impasse is over and I've given my notice at my current job! All the formalities, reference checking and background checking is over and I've signed my offer letter. I'll be working in a non-legal setting with a semi-legal focus. It's a great job with a big pay and benefits bump and I'm so excited! I'll start at the beginning of November.

The notice process is actually a lot easier because the new job, without telling me, contacted my current employers for a reference. It could have been seriously bad, but the partners are cool with me and gave great references, so they knew this was probably coming. They asked if there was anything they could do to get my stay. The partners had previously offered to pay for the bar process, but with the understanding that I would stay on for at least 2 years as a fee earner after I qualified. I've seen what they do and how they work and at the end of the day it wasn't going to work for me. My new job will also pay for me to take the bar, so I may go that route with them.

It's strange working during a notice period. I've never really had to do it before. When I left a job it was always because of a natural end (ie leaving the country, program ending, or a remote job), so this is just strange. Not everyone knows, I don't know if I should be sending out an email or something. It's just strange to hear people talking about what will be going on in November and I know I won't be there and I'm not sure how to tell them. The partners gave me their blessing when I sent in my resignation by email because both are out of the country and the one month clock needed to start ticking. Relief and excitement are my middle name!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Private School Rollercoaster

But do I have a law degree is talking about the process she'll be going through for private school next year and this has me in almost cold sweats because we will be doing all of this for Z starting in 2 days. The first international school application open date is on Oct 1. There are no public schools over here where the language of instruction is English, at least not a level of English that wouldn't seriously damage Z. She's too young this year to go to the American school in town, but will be too old to stay in a nursery for another year (the law says kids get kicked out at 4).

Most applications for the international schools/UK schools are open January 1. We will need to go do school visits, applications,  interviews and a lot of hoop jumping. I have heard horror stories about this process where people don't get into any school or get into their first choice school 12 hours after putting down a $3000 non-refundable deposit. Many of the application cost around $140 a pop and that's making me dread it even more. There are about 5 schools that we would send Z to due to a mix of their curriculum, distance from our house and reviews I've heard from other people. It makes me happy that most likely it will only be for one year, but I'm not looking forward to all of this. And to think I laughed at all of the NYT articles about competitive parents in Manhattan schools and here I am...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Holding Pattern

Things are on hold for the next week or so pending some news. Life has been in limbo as I wait for this news and I'm just hoping that things go one way rather than another, but knowing will be nice all the same. This way I can get ready for new things or tuck in for the long haul.

The girls are their usual chipper selves and running around like crazy. Melody got her drivers license, which is super rare over here. We paid for lessons and everything and she passed after her 3rd try and a bunch more time on the road. This couldn't have come at a better time because I'm still without a license, due to non-reciprocal driver's license issues and the 2.5 hours it was taking for Liam to take the girls to nursery and then get to work.

Traffic has been crazy! Everyone is back from summer break and there is construction being done on literally every major road in the country!!!! This means a commute of 20 minutes this summer can take anywhere between 50minutes to 1.5 hours. The traffic patterns change daily and it's not like there is a local morning news cast to let you know about traffic conditions, so it's a crap shoot. All of this craziness actually kind of makes me happy I can't drive. I can just chill in the backseat and read or listen to music, but I'll need to start driving soon, especially since I have a car that's just kind of sitting there.

We have also started making a more concentrated effort on my loans. I think it was spurred on by a super cute house we saw Stateside while searching online that would have been perfect. We've been looking for something near my mom and grandmother's house that we could stay in for a month or so while we're back in the US visiting and use as a transition house once we move back in a few years. This house was perfect! There wasn't anything that needed to be done. Kitchen, amazing. Bathrooms, great. Floor, hardwood and beautiful. Knowing that we could have possibly done something, like make an offer and jumped on this house with a mortgage that is 1/3 what we pay in rent and would actually be ours has reinvigorated our debt pay down. It's just my loans and a bit on the mortgage on the house in the UK, which is rented out. But it would be nice to pay off my HUGE HUGE, painful loans asap. At current rates ,we will have it paid off in 5 years, I would like to get that down to 3 years. Then project downpayment will begin.

Other than crazy traffic and loans, things are pretty much the same. It's still super hot, which means no outside time, but we should be able to go to the beach soon on weekend mornings. We will also be able to go for talks and picnics. I'm so looking forward to things cooling off and gearing up for the holiday season!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mini Update

  • I'm alive
  • It's still hot as balls, so no outside time
  • I'm tracking meals and down some poundage, which is nice
  • The girls are loving school and more friends are arriving back from summer break
  • Liam's new projects have him criss-crossing the city, but we get to have lunch together at least once a week
  • Work is work...
More to come in a little bit!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Making Improvements

These improvements are at work and at home.  First, at home Liam and I are trying to be healthier. I'm getting an Up by Jawbone for my birthday. We've changed our eating habits and the next step is an exercise overhaul, ie starting to exercise. Our date nights will be kettlebell classes and other fun stuff. Once it cools down, walks along the water and maybe a game night at a local arcade.

The girls are back at nursery, YES. But Liam's project is now on the other side of town, booo. So it's just another reason I want to get a job at the university I want to get a job at. They are adorable as ever and I love when I peek into the living room from the kitchen and they are playing together and being adorable. Any then Boo pulls Z's hair and it's all over!

At work, I'm made a few improvements as office manager, which have been met with overwhelming enthusiasm. They aren't big things, mainly things done to make my life easier or things I would like to have happen and everyone is loving them. I almost feel like I'm being lulled into a false sense of security and everyone will turn around and say how much they hate everything I'm doing. If it weren't for the fact that the organization is dysfunctional, has an unpredictable budget and hasn't given my a pay raise I would think of staying. Haha.

On the job hunt, I'm aggressively going after jobs. I'm working contacts I've been cultivating for months to finally have something happen soon. The academic year is gearing up and everyone is getting back in the game. I will make this happen by the end of this year.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Our vacation in Thailand is officially over and it's back to work tomorrow. Phuket was a great trip, the girls had so much fun, but we certainly learned a few things.

Don't go to Phuket in August! It was hot and this is coming from someone living in the Middle East. Unlike here, aircon is not pervasive. The hotel, while plush, was still one of those open air lobby, restaurant, ie everywhere other than our room, kids club, gym and spa. People were constantly offering my napkins to mop my brow/entire head/upper body.

Elephant trekking is a lot less fun than it seems. I had a death grip on Z, so she didn't slide off.  The elephant ahead of us wasn't so happy about walking, so they kept poking it with one of those pointy stick things. By the end Z was yelling, "Stop hitting, it's not nice!" So yeah, talk about feeling terrible for exposing my kids to this. Boo rode with Liam and they seemed to have a much better ride, but still not something we would repeat. 

We could have subsidised our whole trip by charging 100 bhat for all of the people that wanted to take pictures of Boo. I seriously have no idea what was going on. We pulled into our hotel after 4 bus loads of tourists from China. As we checked in every eye in the lobby was on us because the group was still there sorting out their rooms.  It was startling, I looked up from the girls to see how Liam was getting on with checkin and there was a room filled with about 150 people just staring at me and my kids. They started to get a bit more curious and were just snapping away with their cameras. I don't know about you, but I don't generally fill my vacation photos with random kids I see around. Pretty much every time other than when we were eating we were fending off people that wanted to pick Boo up and take pictures with her. Z also got some attention, but I think that since she could run away people were less likely to grab her. I mean people would literally try and take her out of my arms as she's screaming, so they could take a picture. It was very weird. By the time all that started happening, I was more than happy to entertain the people that just wanted to come up and tell us how beautiful the girls were and maybe give their cheeks a pinch. 

Other than that it was a lot of fun. The pool had a water slide, which Z and Liam made great use of over and over again. And as you would imagine, the prices were awesome. Even in the hotel, things weren't as expense as you would think. We were able to grab a 3 course dinner at a swanky restaurant near our hotel, plus two rounds of drinks for $30. Awesome!

Traveling was a challenge (12 hours there, 14 back), but it was a great trip and Z has already been talking about elephants and the slide and all the fun she had. I think next time we're going to have a choose a place with more kid friendly entertainment options a bit closer to a city. We were about 25 minutes away for the nearest big city, so it meant we were pretty much hotel bound, which wasn't bad. But being unable to go sightseeing on a whim, means that when you do you're cramming it all in.

All in all a great trip, I don't know if we'll be back to Thailand, but I would certainly be interested in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or Tokyo the next time we're tempted to head east. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Office Manager

So it seems that by default and kind of against my will I'll be the new office manager. Without my prior knowledge, I had been referred to as the acting office manager. Glad everyone is on the same page. So my pay bump for taking on supervising a staff of 3, all financial duties (client invoicing, vendor billing, petty cash, handling all fee earner time and other tasks) and other office manager type jobs is a 5% pay raise...in 3 months possibly!

Apparently I negotiated a little too well in my initial job offer and I'm already making about the same as the trainee lawyers, other office managers in the country, and the former quasi-manager. I know I've been saying this for a while, but at this point knowing that there isn't much more of a financial ladder to climb I'm ready to jump ship for a job that pays as much and even less than I make now. I know with the jobs I'm applying for there would be some serious position/financial movement in a couple of years.

I figured I might as well take the title, so I can put it on my resume and make my applications stronger. The consensus with one of the partners was that even if I didn't officially take the job I would end up doing all of this stuff anyway because I'm the "most senior administrator". I have been there 5 months, the other two have been there for 10 months and 5 years!

There are 3 active applications out there, plus the position I turned down earlier in the summer because it would have been impossible to accomplish in the time frame given, which will be coming back up in a couple of months. I'm just hoping something good comes along before the end of September/probationary period when I only need to give 2 weeks notice.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I'm still alive

We got back 2 weeks ago and things have been full throttle since then. The big developments are:

  1. Girls are over jetlag.
  2. Girls are sharing a room, both sleeping all night and not waking up until 7 or 7:30AM. There is a god!
    • Boo will wake in the night, drink a bottle we have sitting on the nightstand and put herself back to bed!!
  3. I have applied for 5 jobs since getting back and need to get out!
    • No longer Supervisor has now had essentially all of the duties she would think she should be doing heaped on my team. No-Longer-Supervisor will now be "managing more higher level tasks" - So I get to do her job and not get paid anymore for it...
    • I have some leads and am letting everyone in my network know I'm looking
  4. Liam has been moved off his HUGE project to 2 smaller projects
    • Kind of sucks because we don't know what the hours will be once Ramadan is over
    • Even more reason for me to get a job where I have been looking because his new job is right by my job and on the other side of town from the girls nursery
  5. It's really f*cking hot (115-120 with 90% humidity)! Nursery is closed, so the girls are cooped up inside all day with Melody and that definitely sucks
  6. I'm still combatting guilt about taking the girls away from my fam, especially when Z cries that she wants to go to Grandmom's house and misses cousin X, Y, Z, L, M, N, O, P

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

11pm bedtime

That's been pretty standard for the whole family since arriving in the US. If Liam's family was hands off, man has my family been hands on. We were at my aunt-in-laws parents house for dinner last night that they try and invite us to every time we're back. It was delicious as usual and gave the kids yet another chance to play. There are 10 little cousins 10 years old and under, which means that Z and Boo are having a fabulous time. Z has learned everyone's names and how to tear up when they are about to leave the house close to 10pm and squeeze a bit more time out of them.

We've been to the local zoo, aquarium, 2 children's museum an OUTLETS!!! I've gotten a new work wardrobe for under $200, Liam has gotten new work shirts and pants, we've purchased clothes/shoes that should get Z well into late 2014 and gotten a few pieces for Boo to supplement her Z provided wardrobe. The only things we need to buy now are bits and pieces for the house and my vanilla extract!

One thing I'll say about this trip, beside being seriously draining in a great way, is that it's making us both feel really guilty that we don't live here. Our trips anywhere are with at least 2 minivans and sometimes 3. Between my grandparent's anniversary party, which required me to do the big ask for lunch to my grandfather because the fam was sure he would miss his own surprise party with another case of the "I don't want to go outs." The family from near and far was there and it gave us a chance to dress up the girls and watch them climb under tables, roll all over the floor and bust a move on the dance floor. We also had Boo baptised in the church basement where they had to hold service because the sanctuary's newly refinished floors weren't ready yet. And we still have a lot more to cram in, especially since we probably won't be back until maybe Christmas 2014.

 Z's language is already great, but it's been growing by leaps and bounds around all of the family. She's also playing so well with her little cousin just a couple of days older, Maggie. I mean they are like two peas in a pod and just running around everywhere and the bigger kids are great at watching over them and taking care of them. We had a BBQ for the 4th and while all the grownups were inside getting things ready to go on the grill all of the kids were in the back yard on their own ranging in age from 12-1 just playing and having fun. They were checking out turtles, frogs and ants, sword fighting with sticks and playing tag. It was all of the things I remembered loving about growing up with a big family. It's going to be super sad when we leave and I definitely think that Z might freak out a little.

This trip has pushed us to replicate this feeling back home as much as possible. We've been trying, but by seeing how much fun she's having we know we need to try harder. The biggest thing for next visit is that I don't think we're going to be able to stay at my grandparent's house like we are this time. The room we are in is fine, but the rest of the house is approaching hoarder territory, which is bad considering how much better it is according to everyone in preparation for our visit. There is just so much stuff! A lot of it is from my aunt who passed away unexpectedly at 34 about 10 years ago. My grandmother doesn't want to get rid of things because she thinks she's holding onto it for my aunt's sons, but they have already said they don't want it. I think part of it is she doesn't want them to come to her in a few years and ask for the stuff if they change their minds and she just really can't let go of it. Our dream would be to hire a huge dumpster and some dudes and just have them help clean everything out. I think that Liam and I are probably the only people she would do it for. Maybe next winter we'll be able to save enough to make it happen.

All in all a great trip so far, we have 3 full days left and leave on Saturday evening for the glorious 22 hour trip back home. We've stocked up at Target on $1 toys for the trip and I'm definitely not as nervous as I was before. It's a night flight so they should be good to go and sleep well.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Suggestions on ways you celebrate holidays

My previous post on raising kids in another culture noted that creating those connections is something that's important for me. Now that the girls are getting older and more aware I think Liam and I are much more alert about the fact that we need to start creating these traditions for them. It's not something that they will pick up in the couse of things, if we don't make an effort. It's weird trying to think back to the things that I enjoyed as a child mainly because it's not until someone reminds me or there is a trigger that I go, oh yeah that was so much fun. We are determined to celebrate all of the holidays we can in a more meaningful fashion. Reading books about the holidays, singing songs, coloring pictures, all of that will be part of things going forward. Any suggestions on what you do for the holidays(any of them)?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dublin Out!

So we're wrapping up the Dublin leg of our journey. The girls have had so much fun. Z calls her Granddad's back garden and best garden, which is totally cute and his little dog is definitely a fan favorite.

The flight over actually went surprisingly well. Boo had a minor crying spell before passing out on my lap about 45 minutes into the flight. Z decided she wanted to be up and about, so she had a bigger meltdown followed by passing out. All in all it was much better than my expectations and other than being so cold that I thought I might lose a toe, it was a good uneventful flight. We definitely know that for the trip back the essentials are our own small trash bag, short sleeve, long sleeve, hoodie layering for all of us as well as more of those blended food pouches for Boo.

 We were stuck at security for 30 minutes because of freaking liquids! They went through everything only to find a bottle of hand sanitizer or kids toothpaste. I was so ready to just say "LEAVE IT, we'll buy new stuff." We barely made our flight and had to double up the kids in the one umbrella stroller we had, which would have been cute if we weren't sprinting through the airport.

Once we arrived we realized how freaking cold 60 degrees feels when you're used to 115. So cold, so so cold. I'm thinking the US will be a much better in between temperature wise. Although the girls have been having fun, this trip has definitely highlighted the differences between Liam's family and my family when it comes to our visits. Liam's sister was here last weekend for a wedding, but tickets were too expensive for her to come this weekend. His oldest brother decided to go on a trip to Greece the week we are here and only came back to drop off some things for about 20 minutes before heading back out to the airport for his move to Singapore. We saw his twin brother, wife and their two kids that are the same age as our kids yesterday for dinner for 3 hours that's it. Also his father went off for a golf day with friends saying he would be able to pick us up from Liam's friend's house and left us stranded to the point that the friend had to give us a lift back to the house at about 9:30pm, we were supposed to be picked up at 8. His dad didn't get back to the house until 12am. I don't really mind people give us our space and letting us do things, but I mean really? We're here for a week and we see his brother once? We've seen Liam's good friend 3 times since we've been here are thinking of doing a holiday with them sometime in the near future.

Meanwhile my family will be arriving to the airport in 2 vans full of people and we will probably see about 20 family members in the first 24 hours. My mom is taking off the whole week of work to take us around everywhere and spend time with us. I think this is just the dynamics of my family and what I'm used to. If I went home and only saw 2 family members that weren't staying in the same house for a total 3 hours, I would be pissed and feel like wtf, why did I even come on this trip? Liam seems fine with it and again the girls are having a blast, I think it's just comparison-itis because we'll be visiting my family next and I think I'm processing this time as taking away from time I could be spending with my family. I think next week when my family is driving me crazy and we just want a few moments of quiet without 10 family members in the room I'll look back on this time more fondly.

Now the great shopping expedition begins and since apparently Amazon is now charging SALES TAX in my state I'm going to have to do some serious price comparisons between Target, Walmart and Amazon to determine what we will be buying where and what will go on the Dream Shopping/Shipping List. The seasonal stuff for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are making their way to the top of the list as well as a lot of kids books, which are impossible to find over there. We'll also be heading to the beach, aquarium, two zoos, two children's museums and just general running around. It's going to be crazy and the vacation after this vacation will be most welcome!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Flight Anxiety

I'm starting to freak out about the flights...a lot. Our first flight is leaving around midnight, so we'll put the girls to bed at their normal time of 6:30 and 7 and then head out to the airport at 9:30. They might sleep through the car ride there, but no way will they stay asleep in the bright, crowded airport.  Between check in, security and hanging around they are going to be two crazy cranky messes. At least that's what I'm preparing for. This will be our first long flight with Boo since she was 2 months old, so we'll see how she will fare.  I guess the worst thing about the night flight is that people expect to sleep, so if they are freaking out people will be even more missed than regular crying baby time. It's making me anxious just thinking about it. I think this flight is the one I'm most worried about because it's the only one so late at night. And to think I used to lament long flights pre-kids, ha! I didn't know how good I had it just being bored on a 14 hour flight or them running out of my meal choice. Oh the luxury!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gearing up for vacation

We're leaving next week to head to Ireland and then onto the US. It's going to be a crazy trip and I just wish we could be there and cut out all of the actual traveling. We're going to look like gypsies at the airport with our carseats, strollers and tons of bags. We're borrowing a carseat in Ireland from friends and traveling with one, then in the US we'll buy one on Amazon and have my family bring that to the airport, so we can bring back an extra carseat for over here. Carseats will run $180 easily over here when you can get one for $40 in the US. Our Amazon list is also filled with random things you can't seem to find over here, such as Mod Podge, Sesame Street Fizzy Tub Color Tablets , balloons (melted unblow-up-able messes over here), vanilla extract (can't find due to alcohol content), Scrunci hair bands. It's little things that you definitely take for granted!  

On the job note I'm so glad to be leaving and getting away for 2.5 weeks! The now Non-supervisor is still being crazy and making everyone crazy. One of the partners thinks she must have bad pictures of the Senior partner or something. It makes no sense. They still haven't given me an official offer for the office manager job, but they have also relieved Non-supervisor of all of the administrative tasks she was meant to do and now she's just sticking to the job she already does terribly.  The issue is that all of the administrative tasks are now being tended to by no one and Non-supervisor has no qualms about saying it's not my job and not even providing any guidance. So nothing new...

Today was the breaking point for one of the other admins, Lily, who snapped after we all received invitations to webinars for organization, time management and not procrastinating...right. So she's moving desks away from the constant yelling of Non-supervisor and moving next to me. One of the Partners called me into his office to talk about what was going on with Lily and just how much Non-supervisor sucked. A friend emailed me to let me know one of her friends thought I might be interested in a position coming up soon. I'm praying the posted job will be as great as the one she described where the salary will be in a range that will allow us to put more toward my loans.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hot becomes cold

Just a tidbit about living in the Middle East. Around this time of year, generally a bit earlier for most people living in houses hot becomes cold when it comes to water. Our "cold" water tanks are on the roof. Well what happens when I giant tank of water sits on your roof in 120 degree weather, it's no longer cold. And our water heaters are all located in each bathroom and in the kitchen, which we can manually turn on and off via a switch in the room. So during the summer our "cold" water is super heated, like can become scalding very quickly and the water in the water heaters is cooled by the AC in the house, so it's all reversed. One friend doesn't have the water heaters/now coolers in each room and has to set a bath for her kids about 2 hours before they want to take a bath so it will cool down enough to put the kids in it. It also means that we can't let the kids wash their own hands all willy nilly and have to supervise so that they don't scald the crap out of their hands!

It's also a fact of life that every building you are in is super cooled to the point of chattering teeth and frozen fingers. People will often bring in space heaters for beat the cold in office buildings. Go figure, 11 days until vacation begins! I'm so excited and dreading the travel at the same time. We also need to get out of this country, short of the 12 hour visa runs back last year we haven't left the country since August. This is not normal for here, people get serious cases of "I need to get the f*ck out of here or I'm going to hurt someone" and I'm almost there. I'm not looking forward to the flights (more than 48 hours of transit), but the trip will be great!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I'm alive! Barely...

Two sick kids, plus two working parents is a real nut shot! Z was puking all night and Boo is coughing so hard she's retching. We've been having a sandstorm for the past week that makes it feel like someone is sitting on my chest.

I have officially shut the door on the university job I was offered.  The HR manager asked to mee with me after I said I wouldn't be able to take it at the salary they were offering. She was blunt said that they wanted me and what would they need to offer to get me. I gave her a number and she was like, "Wow, we can't do that, but here's what we can offer." I told her I would think about it. It would be a great job, but essentially impossible between the two trips we have coming up.  It would only leave about 3 weeks to plan, coordinate and execute a new student program, handle students graduating in Sept, start all the research grant work and jumpstart 2 new programs, which haven't even gone through the admissions process for August.  I would kind of be setting myself up for failure and working through both vacations. So that definitely colored my feelings about the position even with the bump in pay they counter offered  Then the HR Manager told me she thought I was awesome and outside of this whole work thing would I like to get our kids together! Haha, I said sure, she seemed nice and it's so hard to find friends around here, so we're hanging out next weekend and getting the families together.

The office manager position is still a nebulous thing, but they keep trying to give me the responsibilities without the official offer. I've been pushing back and will continue to do so. I have also been warned off of taking the position by everyone who has brought it up to me! I don't know how that makes me feel. I think it just boils down to the office is such a mess that it would be nearly impossible for almost anyone to fix it. Pretty essential things aren't being monitored and I'm not sure what kind of job I would be in for. I was also told that they pay most likely won't be that great. Quasi-supervisor received a 3% raise for a promotion and taking over a major function at 2 offices. Not to say the job Quasi-supervisor is doing is well done, but I mean that's pretty bad.

If taking over the position means a minimal bump, plus a sh*t ton more responsibility and more time away from my family...not going to happen. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Job Prospects

So there have been some new developments.  I was offered 2 jobs.  One at a university and one as the Office Manager at my current job.  I really wanted the university job, it would have been amazing, a lot of responsibility, a lot of freedom to create programs that I wanted, but it was paying less than I'm making now.  The very next day I was asked if I wanted to be Office Manager. I ask about the salary and I still haven't heard back about that one...it will determine whether or not I take the position or stay in my current post.  At this point, we're making double payments into my student loans and I want to keep being able to do that while still leaving work at the end of the day promptly at 5 and coming home to the girls.  I like being able to leave the office in the office and I like not being tied to the office via a Blackberry.

The thing that scares me about the Office Manager positon is that no one really seems to know what it entails; this includes the person who is currently doing it.  I'm a little afraid that there will be a LOT that hasn't been done over the past 2 years and I'll have to sort it all out as I've done with other tasks that have been handed over to me.  One task was given to me, which hadn't been done since August 2012 and a vendor had cut the office off.  I managed to sort it out in a month, but that was a fairly small task. Just imagine what might be lurking for me in one of the Supervisors boxes of doom.  This is where papers go to die in order to maintain the appearance of a clean, tidy and organized desk!  I was warned by some of the senior associates that previous Office Managers have been completely overwhelmed, had to come in on weekends and just seemed to be drowning.  That's not what I want at all. I also don't want to work in a completely dysfunctional office.

It's also weirding me out that I'm getting so excited about creating an office manual in my down time during the day.  The outline is already 9 pages long, I have plans for a Complete Guide, Fee Earners Quick Guide and an Admin Quick Guide.  Did you know you can create an index for a document using a concordance document? Amazing! I can't wait to start compiling all of the content.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Finger Woes

We're still dealing with the fallout from the finger in the drain.  It doesn't seem to be healing and alternates between looking really yucky and like it's on the road to healing.  We spent another day in the hospital this weekend having the ER doc and plastic surgeon look at it before we were referred to a hand specialist.  The hand specialist now wants us to meet with the hand surgeon on Wednesday and he will try and see if there is nerve damage/infection compromising the bone/just a slow healing wound.    It's definitely at least a little nerve racking.  I am freaking out that one of these day when we change the dressing (which is daily) that it's going to black or I'm going to see some kind of sepsis and she'll lose the finger.  It's just making me nervous that the healing isn't progressing more quickly.

I have no idea how people deal with more serious injuries/illnesses.  This is stressful enough!  But the saving grace is that she seems totally fine with it.  Boo doesn't really seem to care most of the time, only if we take too long putting on the new dressing.  Otherwise docs take a look, move the finger around, give it s squeeze etc and she just looks at them looking at her.  And I was comforted by that until I started thinking, Oh no what if it is nerve damage!  So Wednesday is the day we will finally have some more answers, I hope.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trudging along

My meeting with Partner B keeps getting pushed back.  New cases/projects keep coming up and making everyone crazy busy, so there isn't really time to talk over changes.  He did say he would make up all of the push backs with a fancy lunch...we shall see.  The Supervisor is still pretty crazy, but still not to me.  Although I was given an assignment yesterday and literally no one seems to know anything about it!  I asked Supervisor, she just laughed and said "Good Luck" and forwarded me someone's email address to ask them.  I emailed the company finance service desk to see if they would be any help and I got shrugs and another person to contact via email.  I mean how does no one seem to know about a separate billing platform that some of the biggest clients use? I understand that only a few use it, but if they are some of the biggest clients why don't people know how to use it or even where to find info about it!  I can't believe it's coming up to 2 months.  Ugh, I need to change things or I need to peace out.

Boo's finger is healing nicely.  I'm not looking forward to getting the stitches out at all, but I'm hoping it will be over quickly.  She'll be so happy once she can go swimming again! Z is loving our new swingset, but definitely learning the "dont' walk in front of the swing while someone else is on it" lesson the hard way.  We are also looking at possibly moving at the end of the year.  Our contract is up in November and we might just do it.  We're looking for a compound that has some better facilities and a little bigger.  The girls are getting bigger and we'd like more room for them to ride their bikes and also one with a small store, playground and nice pool.  I think that would give life more of a small old school neighbourhood feel than the tiny road feel we get now.  We have looked at a few, but nothing seriously yet, just trying to get the lay of the land and cost.  This becomes especially important as the sh*itshow that is getting your kids into school will begin in the fall if we want Z to leave nursery and go to Preschool.

I used to laugh at those articles in the NYT about parents trying to get their kids into Kindergarten and laughing at how crazy that was because of course I would be living somewhere with good/great public schools...hmmmm not the case.  There are perhaps 6 acceptable schools, which teach either a US, UK or International program.  These schools all have crazy waitlists, but I knew of one friend who got her daughter into one on what seemed like a fluke.  I think it may happen, but I have no idea and I'm not looking forward to everything being so crazy and going to assessments, filling out applications, going on school tours and the generally stress that will be involved with getting a 4 YEAR OLD INTO SCHOOL.  She will be 4! Freaking 4! Can you tell I'm excited for this.

Friday, May 3, 2013

We have a baby down!

Boo is the latest injured baby to join the gang.  We were going to put the girls in the bath before naptime after a particularly Nutella filled morning.  We figured the safest place for them was in the tub while we rounded up the PJs, how much trouble could they get into in an empty tub...Boo decided to check out the drain and somehow got her finger stuck.  In her haste to get her finger out quickly Liam saw her yank it out.  She sliced it in a semicircle near the base.  Talk about screaming and man the blood was insane.  We called Melody and asked her to stay with Z while we took Boo to the hospital.  She fell asleep while driving there, so I took it as a good sign.  The pediatric emergency room saw us right away and then referred us to the regular trauma ER just up the road.  So we drove over there, again they took us back right away and showed us to an exam room.  I waited there with Boo by myself since it was the women and children section.  I wasn't happy about that bit and neither was Liam.  He waited in the car.  The doctor came and we went to Xrays to make sure is wasn't more serious.  After that was the real horrible part, the stitches.  To day she was screaming was an understatement   I was crying, she was crying the doctor and nurse were trying to do the stitches as quickly as possible.  It was 4 stitches in total and they referred us to the local health clinic for daily dressing changes.  All in all a draining experience.  For all of the complaints about living over here, the fact that we walked in, were seen treated and released within 2 hours and the whole thing without having health insurance, including medications for home only cost us $1.64 is pretty amazing.  They took great care of us and it didn't bankrupt us.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Kiddos

Another weekend gone and it's Boo's 1st birthday!  I still can't believe it's been a year since she arrived.  It was all pretty chill after I finished my final paper and then went straight to the hospital.  For some reason the first birthday seems like an end of an era, although she's been doing most of the same things for months now.  She's eating like a champ, walk-running, saying Mama/Mum and Dada and just being a tiny little peanut.  She's still a toothless wonder and I don't know when those things are going to show up...I'm hoping soon.  I don't want to send her to pre-K without any teeth!  We will have cupcakes and pizza this evening to celebrate.  We bought her one toy, which Z decided she had to have.  Z was not happy to learn that she didn't get a birthday present as well, but she got over it once Boo decided to share her keyboard caterpillar.

Over the summer, we will do a joint welcome home/birthday party for the girls at a local discovery museum, so they will be where they get to balloons, big cake and lots of friends and family.  I'm actually getting really really excited about the summer trip.  I think the girls are going to love it.  It will be nice that both can run around, play, interact and just have fun.  We have 3 zoos, 2 amusement parks, 2 beaches and lots of park time scheduled.  It's going to be so ridiculously tiring, but I'm excited and my family is being a lot better about actually keeping in touch with us and showing their excitement as well.  Yay summer rain!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Third Culture Kids

I'm sitting here this morning with Z, eating pancakes and watching Dora The Explorer, as she's saying the Spanish words and I'm thinking about what the world will look like to her.  For the past few weeks Z has been saying these "gibberish" sentences.  She was speaking so clearly though and it didn't sound English at all that I didn't even want to respond with my own gibberish in case she was actually speaking in another language and I would confuse her.  So after some investigation, I asked Melody if she was speaking Tagalog and Melody said no.  Then earlier this week Melody was out front with the girls while I was getting ready for work and she told me that Z has been speaking Nepalese!  Karim is a man that works on our compound and the girls like him.  So she's learned some phrases apparently from him.  That caught me so off guard, I know she speaks some Tagalog because Melody has spent a lot of time with her and of course she would pick things up, but they maybe see Karim for a couple of hours a week and she's picked up a lot in just that short amount of time.

Then I think about what will be "normal" to the girls.  Men wearing thobes and women in abayas will be a totally commonplace, having kids in her class from Japan, Ethiopia, Australia, Jordan, Egypt, Brazil, etc will be just how it should be.  We had a friend who went back to the US to visit and told her daughter the name of a friend they were visiting.  The daughter thought the name was hilarious and just kept laughing while saying it in the back seat.  The name...Matt.  She thought it was hilarious, "Maaaaaatt, Mat, Maattttt."  She doesn't blink at Abdullah, Mineko and other names like that, but Matt was hilarious.

While all of this is really great, I can definitely see why first generation kids in the US can have so many issues with their parents.  And I can empathize with the fear that parents have that their kids will lose thier identity in a new and different culture.  I guess, the almost helpful thing about being in the Middle East is that American culture is so pervasive it's not as though they are missing out American culture as a whole.  It's a little harder with Liam and making sure they feel their Irishness.  We don't have many Gaelic speakers around and the only other cultural thing would be Irish dancing, which they can't do for a few more year.  It's something that all of our friends talk about pretty often.  It's particularly important here where it isn't as if we were immigrating and becoming citizens (you can't) and were going to live here forever (also not possible, you can only live here while you are working).  So it's really strange where you have people who have lived here all of their lives and possibly are 3rd generation here, but they still consider themselves Indian or Egyptian, partially because they can't be from here.  But we want to make sure our girls don't feel like they are American/Irish by default.  I think starting after the summer we're really going to make an effort to celebrate some of the holidays that we have let fall by the wayside and a creating a few of our own to help the kids learn about things that you just take for granted living in the US.

And now I'm getting really excited for our summer trip! My mom has said she'll take off the week we are there to take us all around, so that's a pretty good effort on her part to actually spend time with us.  We will also have a non-birthday birthday party for both the girls where the whole family can come and we will get 8 bags and 184kg of luggage to bring home!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Office Manager Position

So I had a partner and a senior associate pull me into an office separately and then together to discuss what's going on in the office.  I was frank, but professional and let them know what the issues were, how we could try and fix some and how we could try and make sure it doesn't all get so screwed up again.  The partner was also kind of miffed that in the office structure reshuffle I'm not longer working for him.  :) Made me feel kind of good that I made a good impression in just a few weeks.  The partner asked if it came to pass that this position was created would I be interested.  I said sure, I would think about it.  I really really would, but I still don't know if this firm would be for more in the long term.  It will be interesting to see how things progress going forward...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hope I'm Not the Last One Out

Apparently I'm the Supervisors new bff.  I don't know why, but it's not going to keep me there because I know what will happen if everyone else leaves and I'm left.  I have seen evidence of her forwarding "modified" emails to try and foist things off as being someone else's fault.  There have also been accusations of someone losing things that were later found on Supervisor's desk.  I was asked to chase up a document with a client, the partner asked me to check that the client actually received it.  Nope, still on Supervisors desk from February!

I have met with a few members of the office to try and find out what issues there are and what can be done about it.  Apparently everyone has lots of issues, but no real solutions.  I made one suggestion and seem to have the backing of most people.  I'll try and get it implemented as soon as possible.  Even if I'm only there for a short time I would like to try and make some positive improvements.  But if Supervisor is there, it seems like being thrown under the bus would be a daily occurrence and I don't want to have to watch my back constantly, "ain't nobody got time for that!"  But it's official, all the admin and legal secretaries are looking for work elsewhere.  Even one who has been there for 6 years, her exact words, "I'm not putting up with this sh*t anymore." Duly noted.  At least my partners are pretty nice!  I continue to watch the train wreck with rapt attention and semi-amusement.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Office Revolt

I think it's brewing.  Either all the admin are going to jump ship or the Supervisor is going to have to change things.  Supervisor actually told a partner "It's not my problem" about an area that is entirely her problem!  Let's just say that didn't go over too well.  Everyone is bitching about how the system isn't working.  I'm trying to arrange meetings to find out what the current system is because I don't even know, what improvements would be made in the dream world and what we can actually get done.  I mean it's seriously ridiculous when someone directly contradicts themselves in written trackable email form and still tries to blame other people.

I'm also loving the fact that everyone, including partners are in the cubicles, because it means that I can hear everything! Which is hilarious now because I'm so new that nothing has really been my responsibility at this point, but I'm sure it will suck once they are talking about me.  It's just funny to hear the Supervisor try and blame others, then walk away and you can hear everyone call bullsh*t.  As you can tell by my attitude change, things are better at the office.  It seems people do want to change, but are kind of being held hostage by Supervisors inability to let go of things/not wanting to do things.  I think I can work around it, at least for people in my department.  But the feelers are definitely still out there!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The New Job

...it's getting there.  The firm is kind of a mess.  It's not like offices I'm used to where there are people to chat with and go out to lunch with and get your work done.  I talk to one person, Samantha, in the office pretty regularly and no one else talks to anyone unless they want something or have work to give out.  I mean some people are downright unfriendly.  I tried to ask one person how long she's been in the office and she pretty much snapped at me and told me she didn't have time for this right now.  Not "oh I'm swamped we can talk later," but "I don't have time for this."  Ooook.  By the end of the first week, I was seriously wondering if I would come back.

If it weren't for Samantha, I probably wouldn't have.  She told me she's gone home crying some nights and gets super stressed.  I'm not down with that.  Apparently I've been good at helping her reassert when it's time to leave the office and not taking things personally.  I'm out the door when the clock strikes 5:00pm.  I stayed during the first week until 5:30 because someone put something on my desk at 4:55.  I stuck it out, did the work, it took an extra hour to get home and the girls were asleep.  I nearly cried.

So I'm still looking, but I'll suck it up and do this job as best I can until something better comes up.  I've literally been told by at least 2 people at the firm that I should get out while I'm still new and don't get sucked in.  That's reassuring.  I was excited about starting new processes and organizing things, but it really seems like no one wants that.  Maybe things will change in the near future, but I doubt it.  In the meantime, it's a nice paycheck, I do my work, head out at 5 on the dot and leave it all behind once I'm in the car on the way home.  But it's really not a place I feel comfortable, happy or look forward to going to everyday.  I guess you can't have it all!  And see look all that time I was bitching about not having a job and now I'm bitching about my job.  I'm just never happy! :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

First Day at Work

It was a successful first day, but a little weird.  In theory, the office has been around for almost 10 years.  In practice, I think the office has been up and running less than 4.  It has also had a lot of turnover and seems to be finding its legs in the past year or so.  They are trying out new structures for keeping everything working smoothly, which means some people (ie me) are kind of sitting there like "what am I supposed to be doing?"

Someone mentioned that my job description and duties had been sent around to everyone...but not me, so she forwarded that info on to me.  Quite helpful!  I looked at all my responsibilities and wrote up questions for each one.  And then, since it didn't seem like the training or supervision was going to come to me I emailed the person listed on the office flow chart above me and scheduled a meeting with her for tomorrow morning.  I also managed to somehow teach half the office how to file non-client assigned documents in the system properly and how to use the firm specific formatting, which has it's own custom ribbon in Word.  Apparently that isn't something anyone teaches you, but I was bored and watched about 5 hours worth of IT training video tutorials.  I definitely felt like a rockstar!

I was also given the backstory on the office, who has moved up, out and been newly introduced.  It seems that they are happy to keep good people as long as they can and move them up whenever possible.  The person who had my job before me is now the finance manager for this office and another one in the region.  All in all it was a good day.  I was even treated to a lunch at a fancy restaurant next door.  The only bummer was a 30 min drive back home, which would normally be 15-20 min, but I am at the mercy of taxi drivers until my new car arrives on the 10th!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Great Shipping Expedition

I have the beginnings of a work wardrobe sitting for me between my mom's and grandmother's houses. These are things I've bought over the ast year when I'm on the lookout for great sales.  $100 blazer for $15, thank you very much and so on.  But now I have to get all this over here.  Which means shelling out $100 in shipping and stupid customs forms to try and get everything over here.  I'm not that upset considering an office shirt here runs about $80, but I'm just hoping I'll be able to piece some kind of work wear together for the first week or so.  I literally have 2 pairs of work pants, 3 shirts, 2 cardigans 1 pair of work shoes. I can only mix and match that for so long.

So I've filled out all of the customs forms and hope that everything makes it hear safely.  In the meantime I'm playing with the girls, trying to get meals together for next week on.  I'll also be easing Boo into nursery school starting tomorrow.  Melody has Tuesdays off during the week, so we needed a solution for Boo.  I'm glad she's starting now because she really does need some more socialization and to be around more kids.  I think she'll like it and have fun and a week of hanging out there should be good.  If worst comes to worst, she only has to go once per week, but we'll start at 2 days and work up to 3 or start at 3 if she's a happy camper.

It's so weird to see her walking around now.  She reverted back to crawling for a day once we put shoes back on her, but now she's a little shoed walking demon and it's so weird.  She's so like a little person now and I'll be going back to work, it's all happening so quickly!  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Starting in 10 days

They wanted me to start Monday!  I told them I needed another week.  Everything worked out, salary PTO (26 days sweet!), and the other things all look good.  I'm super super nervous.  Like oh my god what am I doing? nervous, but a friend managed to talk me down.  Her advice, don't talk yourself out of it, you'll do just fine and if you don't like it it's easier to look for a job while you're in a job than not.  We're trying to work on figuring out hours, they wanted 9-6, but said some people work 8-5 and they are flexible.  Since the girls are in bed at 6:30 and we try and do dinner at 5:30, I asked if 7-4 would be possible or 7:30-4:30.  They assured me we would give it a shot at 8-5 and see how pick up, drop off and bed times went and we would re-evaluate with everyones needs, including mine.  So I guess that's something.

Now I just have to get all of my work clothes I bought on Black Friday over here to actually look the part of a professional.  So nervous!  We only have one childcare hiccup, since Melody has Tuesdays off, but we think we can get Boo into Z's school for 2 or 3 days a week.  Next hurdle, visas, new drivers license and get another car.  Yikes!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Got It!

I still don't feel like it's real.  The HR director called me and we spoke for about 10 minutes and she told me they wanted to make me an offer.  She said she would email the official offer.  But I totally blanked and didn't ask about salary, paid time off, hours (I know the number, just not the when), and other benefits.  I just kind of blanked.  This whole process has taken so long with everything else that I didn't even think to ask any of these questions!  I'll wait for the official letter and then I can go over it all and make my changes or just gladly accept.  It's all happened so quickly with this position. I went from first contact with the recruiter to offer from the firm in 7 days.  

Is my recruiter serious?

So I contacted a recruiter through a contact given to me by a neighbor.  Things have moved pretty quickly.  I emailed her late last week, she called the next day and I had an interview yesterday.  It was with a firm and it looks like I'll be getting an offer.  I spoke with two partners, who were 40 minutes late! but they both apologized and were really nice.  My recruiter said that they loved me and told the managing partner he doesn't need to interview me, they want to make me an offer.  So now I'll be talking with the HR director to discuss salary, hours and get the actual offer.  I'm still not really believing it because there have been so many rug pull moments over the past year.  It's not an associate position, but the pay is pretty freaking great, the hours are good, it would have a good amount of responsibility and the ability to build systems from the ground up and everyone keeps saying how nice everyone is in the office.

I'm still holding my breath until I get the actual offer, but it's looking pretty good.  I just have to stand my ground on salary, which isn't really negotiable, so that should be easy.  Exciting times!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cancelling Summer Vacation

As of right now, we're not cancelling because of financial reasons, although that may be the case later on, we're cancelling because both of our families are pissing us off!  Maybe it's an out of sight out of mind thing, but my family isn't the best at communicating.  Although I have a US number they can call/text whenever they seldom do.  It's all on my end to call, set up Facetime chats, etc.  My grandmother would do it more, but she doesn't have a computer/ipad to do the video chats.  I'm sick of calling, getting the kids together to talk to them and then just having my family walk in and out of the room, sometimes leaving it completely empty when we're trying to talk to them.  It's annoying and disappointing because we would like to kids to be able to speak with them, get to know them and their voices, etc.

And then the kicker comes with Liam's dad.  He's been bouncing all over the globe, visiting Liam's sister in Hong Kong, then a golf trip to South Africa and another in Thailand.  We asked if he would pop over after a layover in a nearby city, we would pay the difference, but he said no because we would have to get up at 2am to pick him up, etc.  So we left it.  Then we find out that his trip into South Africa stopped in neighbouring country/city (30 min flight away), but his flight to Thailand stopped HERE!!!!!!  Are you fucking kidding me?!  He then has Liam's sister contact him to ask Liam to track down a book he left on the flight a week ago when he flew through here.  I mean seriously.  Liam sent her a pretty scathing email, letting her know he wasn't directing it at her, but just pissed off that he's so nonchalant about not seeing his grandchildren.  I mean he was less than 15 minutes away at the airport and he just kept right on flying.  At this point, I say f*ck them all.  I'm not so sure we should be paying thousands of dollars to fly all over the world for people who don't seem to have the slightest inclination to make time for us and spend time with us.  We can just do a weekend holiday close to home and if they want to see us, well they can come here.  Sorry for the rant, we're just so pissed right now!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Friend Dating

I've been friend dating for a while really trying to find some good friends over here.  I was definitely tired of hanging with Liam's work friends and their wives and wanted to branch out to people with/out kids more in an in between age for the both of us.  I've gotten to know and frequently hang out with two women, which is nice, but I think we've finally hit the couples jackpot.  A woman, Amy, I met through a California coffee group (grew up there for a few years) and her husband are awesome so far.  I've hung with her a few times and it's always fast talking, laughing, slightly inappropriate chatter that kind of sucks when it ends.  We're all hugs at the end and set up our next hang out pretty quickly.  We've done a family hang out at the beach once before and the husbands hit it off as well.  Now we've scheduled the first couples only dinner and I'm definitely looking forward to it!  It's exciting, it feels like dating all over again.  

The only tiny issue is that their one older daughter has a slight case of the "I do this better, Z's picture/cookies/whatever is messy, I'm taking my time."  She's 4 and Z doesn't notice, but so far I've kept the meetings to the babies to keep that to a minimum.  It's just nice to have a friend in the same time zone where I don't really feel like I have to censor myself, be on best behavior or explain all of the intricacies of American culture in every conversation.  So let's hope our group date goes well!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tired on the Teetertotter

We went to a park yesterday...covered in litter.  That's a big issue over here.  People just expect someone else to clean up after them, so leaving your trash everywhere just happens.  We've made sure Z knows she isn't to do it, but it's still disheartening when a playground is covered in chip bags, bottles, and other pieces of trash.  It's such a shame because the actual playground equipment was nice, but yeah, not going back.

Liam's car battery died after Z put the keys in the ignition while Liam was bringing in the groceries.  We had to wait for one of the non-hungover friends with jumper cables to bring them over in the morning.  Boo has also been walking more and conquered the climbing up onto the kid Ikea wooden chairs that we have. This is fun because she can now pull herself up to sit in them, but what it actually means is she stands up on the chair backwards and attempts to sit down completely missing the seat part of the chair.  So needless to say, those don't come out unless I'm around to play spotter.

We had a date night during the week at a steak buffet.  We were kind of shocked at how much we got for the price, plus the mom group I belong to got us another 30% off of our bill! Score.  We will go again at the end of March, but this time I'm not going to fill up on salad.  But the Yorkshire puddings were freaking amazing!  I'm also trying to decide which hobby I should undertake to keep me entertained while the little ones are napping or otherwise occupied.  Sewing? Finally learning Arabic? Guitar? Project life? 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Dreaded Budget

Since my employment will be a bit further off than we hoped, we'er getting a lot more serious about the budget.  Previously, we kept track of expenses, but weren't so great about taking money from certain designated piles and ensuring we didn't go over on other things.  This month we managed to go through only half of our budget for everything that wasn't fixed!  I think this was helped by the fact that Liam has been working until 9pm for the past 2 weeks.  Since he's been working so late this means no grocery store runs and no date nights.  So grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, quesadillas and digging through all of the freezer meals I've made was definitely essential for not starving.  I don't think we'll be able to replicate this amount of underbudget-ness in the future, but it's a good start.

This has actually made us a lot more pumped about staying on budget and going as far under our daily max as possible.  Adding in for little eventualities, such as the dryer breaking down, renewing our visas and a St. Patrick's Day party are going to help us keep it on track.  The big question mark will be the summer.  We're supposed to have a big family visit tour taking us to Ireland and the East Coast over 3 weeks.  That's 4 plane tickets, at least 14 days in a hotel (unless someone gets booted out of my grandmom's soon), and 2 weeks of a car rental.  It's a big expense, huge in fact.  But we want to make the trip because my family with the exception of my mom and grandmom haven't even met Boo yet.  Liam's family saw her at 3 months old.  It's also my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.

I've been applying for a bunch of jobs and hope that something will pan out by summer.  Until then I'm just going to search and apply for 1 hour per day and spend the rest of the time playing with Z and Boo, learning to sew, teaching myself Arabic and maybe I'll even attempt to fiddle with Liam's guitar.  I'm going to enjoy my break and knowing I'm not driving my family slowly into the poorhouse has made that possible.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Favorite Phrases

Z's new favorite phrase is "I love this."  It's her way of saying, I'm holding this/pointing at something and I don't want you to take it from me/I want it.  She also like to say, "Mommy/Daddy, I'm talking to you.  Listen me!"  But my absolute favorite is, "Mommy, rock-a-baby."  This is when she wants me to hold her and rock her like a baby, while wrapped up in a blanket.  It's too cute.  I can't believe how quickly she's growing.

Boo's favorite phrase is "EEEEEEEEEEEE" I don't know how she screeches so loudly, but the does.  Then Z will join in on the screaming and squealing and they are both just screaming and squealing and laughing together.  She's also up to about 4 steps when she's not paying attention, but not a tooth in sight!  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Breaking Radio Silence

I didn't get "the job."  It's was a rough few days.  My inside the office source won't be back until March, so I'll have to wait until then to get the inside scoop.  It's supremely disappointing, especially because I don't know why the other person was chosen over me.  It's also going to be supremely awkward to go and visit my friend for lunch from now on.

I was very upset.  Liam took me out to dinner to make me feel better.  There was a concert we really wanted to go to next month, but I told Liam we would wait until after we heard about the job.  Not going to happen.  My friends are all being super supportive, but short of giving me a job there's not much they can do.  I've also decided to quit my part time job.  It was fine and easy, but it kept me homebound when I would really like to be doing things with the girls like go to the park, do crafts, go to playgroups, etc.  So I'll be taking advantage of stay at home momming and going full tilt.  My last day is this Friday and I don't even know if my boss knows I put in my notice.  That's the level of communication that's going on with this place.  In 6 months we've had about 2 meetings, spoken over the phone never, and via online chat maybe 20 times.  There was no response to my 2 weeks notice email, so I won't be surprised if I get an email 2 weeks from now asking why I missed a week of work. We shall see.

There were a couple of position that I recently saw posted.  These were the first in a couple of months that interested me and I was qualified for and that helped lift my spirits some.  The next few months (I guess) will be filled with me being home with the girls, continuing to look for work and not letting it completely consume me like it did before.  And I know that we are lucky that we can survive off of the one salary until Z is 4 and needs to start school, worst case scenario.  We can go out for a dinner every once in a while, go to a movie, and take Z to swim lessons.  I'm trying to shrug off the feeling of failure and just hopelessness and look at this as an opportunity that many people don't get and would love to have.  It will all work out...eventually.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What A Crock!

I've almost forgotten it's possible to make a main dish in any other way other than the Crockpot.  Liam wrestled one away from a co-worker when he spotted it while having lunch at the mall.  These things are hard to come by.  There are rice cookers out the wazoo, but no crockpots.  Technically it isn't even a Crockpot, it's a Kenwood brand, but same dif.  We've cooked every meal in this thing and it's amazing.  This was our newest creation. One of my big issues was I could never time everything to be finished at the same time.  Now I can just turn the Crockpot off, steam or boil some veggies and we're good to go.  It's soooo nice to not have to cook a full meal when we get home from the park, beach, store or where ever.

We're having our first kid focused semi-conflict.  Z loves to play in the park with this other boy Gary.  His mom and I are friends, we have known each other since both our 2nds were born.  Gary is 5 and Z is only 2, but they played nicely together in play places and at the park.  Z's very adventerous, so there were few things Gary would do that she wouldn't.  They would run together, swing together, etc.  Then my friend Emily bought Gary a Razor scooter and that's what he wants to do at the parks.  I can't blame him for that, but Z wants to play with him, not watch him scooter around.  Also Emily has kind of set up our outings as a weekly thing, but if Gary isn't going to play with Z then we don't see much point in schlepping all of our stuff and both kids across town to play.  We could take her to a much closer park for her to play at on her own.  I'd say I'm one of Emily's closest friends here, her husband is doing contractor work out of the country for another month, after almost a year away, so these park trips are one of the few times outside of work where she has grown up talk time with me and Liam.

I feel bad about wanting to cancel and we may hold off until her husband comes back, but it's really kind of sad to hear Z so excited to play with Gary all weekend, then we get there and he doesn't even give her a second glance.  Then in the car on the way home, she's saying that she still wants to play with him.  I think we're going to have to make sure we stress not running after boys that don't want anything to do with you for the sake of our future sanity when she's older!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Laughter Supression

I have a friend who is due in 8 weeks.  She's wants to do a non-epidural child birth, which is totally cool.  I think it's great when people can do it, but even with my fear of needles, I was like give it to me! And she's doing hypnobirthing which I also think is cool.  It helps you feel in control, gives you some tips etc, but the thing I don't like about it is this idea that some people seem to have with it, which is "if you're in pain it's because you're not doing it right!" Now I've been through child birth twice and as I've said before, that sh*t freaking hurts! I'm sure there are some people out there who don't feel pain, like there are people out there where anesthesia doesn't work on them.  But the idea that it's all on your head and mind over matter in this case is just crazy to me! So when she said "oh they told me your body is made to do this and it's just main over matter as far as pain goes" I couldn't really help just trying not to laugh.  I felt really bad, like I was the mean mommy saying "get an epidural," but I really wasn't.  I just couldn't fathom being in a place in my life where I would think "maybe it won't hurt that much" especially after doing it twice.  I hope it works for her and she has a pain free delivery...call me in 8 weeks I say.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don't Call Until You Put It In My Hand!

That's what I feel like saying to everyone who has mentioned anything to me about a job.  My friend who urgently contacted me about a consulting positions with the words "You can start immediately!!!!!" has fallen off the face of the earth.  I can start immediately doesn't seem to coincide with not getting back to me after more than a week....

The other position that I did the second round, where they told me they would get back to me last week...seems there is some issue with finance.  I don't even know if I've been selected, but I know they haven't selected anyone.  They haven't told anyone why the hold up, if you're going to give someone a deadline to inform them at least let them know you haven't come to a decision yet.  I'm sure the issue will be ironed out, but it's annoying that if my friend didn't tell me about the hold up I would just have assumed that I didn't get the job.  That might still be the case, but still just help a chick out.

Don't even get started on the "we'll contact you mid-Jan" folks who I know through insiders haven't contacted anyone for second rounds.  Or the "can you please apply for this position?" over 4 weeks ago for another job.  It's totally disheartening to the point where I just feel like I should stop trying because even when everything is going "great" nothing freaking happens! Now once I get a job I'm sure I'll look back on all of this and laugh, but until then grrrrr.  Don't contact me until the offer letter is ready to go.

P.S. I have been super productive and made over 10 types of baby food for Z.  I've also made about 15 freezer/crockpot meals for the family, so at least there is that.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Everyone is better

Z's tooth hasn't been fixed yet, if it can be, but she's eating normally again and taking it all in stride.  The bug/food poisoning has left us all and we're all back to normal.  I was feeling better to make it out to a sporting event/concert over the weekend that Liam had been dying to go to.  I tried to back out during the day because the girls were really trying our patience and I didn't think I would want to go out that night.  I didn't want to go, but Liam said that he wouldn't go unless I went.

So I sucked it up, put on a pretty shirt and we caught a taxi out there.  It was quite an evening...2 of the group were asked to leave the premises and the rest were warned and given yellow cards for various reasons, including but not limited to shooting off a fire extinguisher, puking, general disorderly conduct and other offenses.  Mind you, the majority of the group is in their 40s.  The end of the evening was topped off by me falling into the bathtub still filled with the girls' bath water and toys.  Liam fished me out and put me to bed.  The next day we realized that winter was over while we baked in the sun while Z played at the park.  It was 80 freaking degrees.  There was a short run to the corner store for some water and Snickers, but all was good.

The moral of the story is don't try and force yourself to have fun, because the results won't be pretty! But definitely entertaining :)  Other than that it's been slow going EXCEPT for Boo taking her first actual step.  Liam and I both stood as still as possible while she did it.  I didn't even move to get my phone to videotape it because I was so afraid of upsetting her concentration.  I think it was a cautionary, "can I do this?" step and she's probably not going to do another for a few weeks.  That was the MO for Z.  One step then 3 weeks with nothing and then walking.  I'm excited, then she can go to the park and won't feel left out!