Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Plunge...errrr...!

We left town for one of C's events yesterday. I worked from home starting at 4:00 AM with surprising vigor, and finished with a final conference call on our way out of town. C was driving quietly to avoid disturbing this phone call with an employee, when suddenly he burst out and called the vehicle next to us a name... not a profane name, but a name that would certainly sound out of place in the background of a work conversation. The person on the other end of the line grew silent. "Could you hold on for a minute?" I asked, giving C a smoldering look. I came back on the line, completed the last few minutes of my 30 minute phone call, and sat in silence for a while. "I want you to know that the next time you are on a call with one of YOUR employees, I will feel completely justified to shout out something, too."

"I'm sorry. That car almost ran me into a semi truck. Not that it's any excuse. I totally used my outside voice when I meant to use my inside voice." C said.

Let's just say that I will reconsider any future road-trip work conversations.

The rest of the trip was really quite pleasant, minus the fact that my tolerance for sitting for long stints in a car seem to have narrowed down to about a ten minute window. We were welcomed at our destination by near and dear friends and their delightful three children who undoubtedly feel that we are there to visit them as much as their parents. We settled into the basement guest bedroom, a great blessing for one extra-insulated lady with kicking twins, and enjoyed a restful sleep.

The next morning C woke to SPLISH...SPLASH...SPLISH...SPLASH... SPLISHSPLASHSPLISHSPLASHSPLISHSPLASHSPLISHSPLASH... "RRRRR!" One frustrated wife had encountered her worst nightmare of clogging a host's Loo.

Realizing he was awake, I walked into the bedroom with my hands in the air and said in a frustrated whisper, "This is the most ineffective plunger I have ever encountered!!!"

"What'd you do, drop a missile in there? I'd like to help, but..." We both laughed at this painful situation. I went back to my porcelain vigil. I'd like to say that it was over in five minutes... or even ten... maybe fifteen would be reasonable. I think that it was close to thirty minutes later that I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Violets are Blue...berries...

Lately, I am starting to feel a bit like this:

Oddly, when I visited my old job this week, everyone told me how fabulous I look. "You look so... relaxed and... not stressed!" I met with those who took over the conference planning, and let's just say that my dissipated stress seems to have found a new home. "You are definitely missed," said one dear colleague. "I mean, not just because of all of the work you did, but, well, you are DEFINITELY missed." I am not sure what DEFINITELY meant. Maybe it meant that I was the sassy one in the room with turrets-like candor who would push back when it wasn't the bureaucratically correct thing to do. What good is an employee who always tells you that you have great ideas, I always say.

I confess that looking back I could have measured out more diplomacy with that candor. At the time I thought that thought the opposite extreme from other's behavior a more favorable and raw form of communication. Still, that is no excuse. Mine were interpretive expressions of disrespect, and interpretations are not reality. To think that an individual is spineless and is unable to muster up enough integrity to say what needs to be said is just as inaccurate as the individual who says,  "I am just being honest" to excuse their unkind words or bad behavior, and never own up to the real emotions percolating in their hearts. To objectify another human being is to remove the humanity in them, and terrible things happen when we stop seeing one another as human beings. We alter our worlds to match our skewed reality, and we stop being honest with ourselves to justify our own behavior.

But that isn't really where I meant to wander off to this midnight hour. I wanted to say that really important things pass through my mind these days. Things like finding the perfect double stroller. I boldly stop parents pushing favorable strollers and ask their opinions. This has been going on since week 6 or so, and 11 weeks of querying parents has led me to this conclusion: The perfect stroller is located here -

I believe that this is the stroller destined to allow me to navigate through normal sized doors and not make me look like a freak show. Cute, no? I haven't decided on a color, maybe the green, but you get the idea.  Thank you kind woman at the mall for doing all of the research to find this for me, er, I mean your children. I can now sleep at night knowing that I won't have to lug around a monstrosity to be a functional human being with my little dumplings as they try out their harmonious little vocal cords in public places.

Speaking of sleep, I think I ought to.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trouble with a Capital T and that Rhymes with P and that Stands for Pool!

Yesterday started out a bit troublesome for me. I started work in a bit of a fog, feeling discouraged about my inability to crack into a rather massive organization for some data acquisition. I had made repeated attempts to reach what I thought were key individuals, only to receive no response. C prepared for a bicycle ride while I prepared for a a quick drive to step away from work momentarily. I had just sent an e-mail to the organizational contact, and while driving, made yet another attempt to contact this individual by phone. I left a message, and a few minutes later I finally received the much anticipated return phone call!

The rest of the day flew by as I prepared a proposal for said organization. C returned from his ride to point out that I had worked the entire day away and now it was time do something fun. After checking to make sure that my belly still fit into my swimsuit, we went to the pool. I have relied quite heavily on non-aquatic exercise for years. My body has always been far from buoyant, so swimming requires extra effort. I discovered yesterday that I have developed an aversion to putting my face under water, so I focused on the breast stroke rather than my beloved back strokes. By the end of my workout I felt much better about breathing while swimming face-down.

After our swim we raced home to shower and were soon off for soup and salad at the Olive Garden. Zuppa Toscana, baby! Happy doesn't quite capture the emotions that pulse through my veins lately. It is almost unreal. Life isn't always happy, but it's these times that make you remember how worthwhile the hard times are, because your capacity to feel joy is so much greater! I love my adorable husband. He is just so good to me!

Oh, and lest you miss my late night mini-post:

Monday, July 25, 2011

To those who have recently commented...

First, thank you for your kind and generous comments. While I am not out to become the most popular blogger, I so appreciate your expressions of friendship. Thank you. I have not been the best lately at replying, but thank you, and please don't stop. That's all. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


C and I have made a point of going to the temple on a regular basis lately. There is surprisingly a lot of drama and commotion externally about such very peaceful places. I think much of it is drummed up by those who don't understand the purpose of a temple, or who have been offended because they didn't get to go inside to observe the wedding of a loved one.

When you visit a temple, you wear nice clothing. Men wear white shirts, ties, and weather permitting, suitcoats. Women wear nice and modest skirts, shirts, or dresses and I personally always wear nylons and dress shoes rather than sandals or flip-flops. Each person who is admitted to a temple has a small slip of paper with three signatures including their own, stating that they feel worthy to enter. The other two signatures are from church leaders who ask several questions to the person who wants to enter the temple. This isn't to exclude anyone, rather to make sure that all entering are worthy to be in the presence of God since temples are dedicated to Him and are sacred.

In truth, anyone may enter a temple. They just must first agree to live a life of high moral and ethical standards. People make mistakes, and so they are given time to repent or stop acting on immoral behaviors, and then they too may enter the temple. In truth, it is one of the most inclusive religious organizations, encouraging all to live honest, clean, and moral lives.

When you enter a temple, you change out of your street clothing and into clothing of pure white in individual private locker areas. Everyone is esteemed as an equal, and nobody is treated disrespectfully or as inferior to anyone else. There are sacred things we learn in temples, most of which are right out of the scriptures from the time that ancient Israelites built temples in which they also worshipped God.

Contrary to some rumors I have heard from others, absolutely nothing immoral or sexual happens in temples. Everyone is dressed very modestly and the building is filled with light and beauty. There is another type of light that fills a temple, and that is a spiritual light. It also fills your heart and mind with peace and beauty just like the temple is filled with light and beauty. It isn't a loud place. Everyone speaks in barely audible whispers if they speak at all. It is a place of contemplation, a place where you can come with questions in your mind, and have the answers to those questions flow into your mind before you leave.

No one listens to iPods or talks on mobile phones inside. In fact, these devices are not permitted inside. The only books you will find are the holy scriptures. It is a haven, a sanctuary from the distractions of everyday life. It is a place of calm and kindness. It is the house of God.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Private Dance Club

My grandparents used to own a private ballroom dancing club in Florida. It was quite the social arena, full of exciting events and country club members. I feel we have followed suite in some small way. Our kitchen is our private dance club. C and I often turn up our Mint and boogie to some high-energy tunes. Today I thought I'd share a bit of my let-loose side today. I tried to find a benign video of some of our jammin' tunes:

No jam session would be proper without Kung Fu Fighting, only I couldn't find my favorite version on YouTube, so just look up the Biggest Loser Workout version on iTunes. Enjoy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Make My Arms Longer, Please?

I am of the opinion that, along with all of the other changes that come with pregnancy, one's arms should grow in length 2-4 inches, returning to their former length following childbirth.

I felt them kick on Sunday. I am sure I felt them before, only there was no question on Sunday. It was like a little jab, and I can imagine that it will feel more like a punch later on when they are bigger than five inches. I also dreamed that they were born. C and I were lying in bed, and they were there, small and new. I woke up feeling like I would burst with happiness.

I am hitting the stage of, "Now I've got them inside of me, I will at some point have to get them out." There are many interesting thoughts that follow that vein, and so many unknowns. I start thinking about birthing classes, and wondering if reading all of those books will really help. Will they be in position to come naturally, or will I have to undergo surgery? Will they weigh enough that we will get to bring them home, or will they have to continue baking in some incubator?

Exercise is proven to increase birth weight, which is an odd thing to wish for when you are eager to birth two babies without the doctor touching a scalpel. Still, exercise I will. "Strengthen your abs and your back so that you won't have problems later." I was told. I am still doing Jillian workouts with a few adjustments. Sometimes I use my knees during push-ups/planks, and getting up and down between circuit work requires slow motion. Supermans are out, and I can't plyo quite as intensely. Occasionally I have to pause to catch my breath since three of us are competing for my oxygen. Yesterday I did 30 minutes of circuit work, 15 minutes walking briskly on an 8.5 incline, 15 minutes running, and 15 minutes doing back exercises.

I finally found my salad groove again, and have been able to eat more veggies. My main crave so far has been fresh fruit, but eating more vegetables feels great. We gave Kawi a huge romaine leaf yesterday and C captured it on his Blackberry. I think he likes it when we eat more veggies, too.

I am dying to SHOP for baby things, but I have this little problem: We still don't have the gender verified. Today I am at exactly 17 weeks, so just three more weeks to go before we know! I did discover something fabulous last night: my new sewing machine will do applique! Custom Onesies, baby! It also sews on buttons, although the 10-step process makes me think that a hand-stitch will be much faster.

Work is going great. I feel I am able to strike a good balance between work and life without work taking over. There is plenty to do, but prioritization means that managing the affiliate relationship always takes precedence. I have made more trips to FedEx this month than I have my entire life, over-nighting urgent data. I took my old team out to lunch this past week which was delightful. They asked questions about my new company and I think I changed several misconceptions. I love the un-corporate world. My new job takes everything good about my old job and magnifies those elements 100x.

Speaking of a balanced life, in addition to cozy hammock time and blueberry pancake Fridays, C and I have been venturing out on summer evenings to enjoy 4th of July celebrations, dinner with friends, birthday parties and most recently, professional sporting events. I recently managed to get front row tickets to a baseball game, and even the bench seating at the soccer game was thrilling! Saturday may include an early jaunt to the farmer's market, followed by a baptism at 11:00 AM.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Problem with Social Media

I visited my old job this past week to drop off a "thank you" to someone who has helped my new company with an affiliate relationship. When I left the company a couple of months ago, I had several individuals approach me with interest in positions since they knew that I was being placed on the executive team as a director. Apparently some reached out to me through LinkedIn which I haven't touched since I left my old job (mainly because I forgot to change my e-mail account and don't receive any of the notifications). I ran into one such individual, who tearfully told me that said individual thought I didn't want to be friends because I didn't respond in the affirmative. SIGH.

Some feel that social media is a great way to manage relationships, but to be honest, nothing fosters relationships like personal interaction. There is so much more to communication than words, and so much more to gaining common understanding than leaving a note on someone's wall or blog. People are dynamic, complicated and wonderful, and software, no matter how great or user friendly, can never replace laughter with an LOL, can never give a hug when a friend's heart is breaking, can never replace a night out with friends, and can never offer fellowship like a brief visit from an old companion who knows you well.

Dear Google lovers, cover your ears:
I am also put out with Blogger/Google these days, claiming that I could permanently lose access to my account if I don't give them my phone number. What's next, my SSN? Seriously, your prying tentacles reach far enough as it is, Google, you marketing octopus. Plus nothing, except to gather more data that you can sell companies about me. "My Un-Touched" new Android phone dwells in a lonely closet because you require me to share every detail with you in order to use the dang thing. I won't dispute that Chrome is very usable and splendid, and yes, many of your products are super nifty, but seriously...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Words from a Wise Husband

"There are three things you have to remember," he said, after listening to me ponder out loud the rate of my exuberant weight gain.

"First, you are going to put on weight, and you shouldn't worry about it. You eat healthy and you take good care of yourself. Second, it will take you twice as long to take the weight off as it took to put it on. Your age makes it a little more challenging to take weight off than it would if you were a twenty-year old. Third, you will lose all of the weight you put on."

I thought about his words of wisdom with gratitude, then eagerly added, "Because I have a great husband who will make sure I get a break from the twins to get a workout in."

"That's right," he said.

5 AM


5 AM is a strange hour. We've all met it for some reason or another, and some more frequently than others. You wake to find the moonlight swimming through the sky, merrily tossing long pale rays through windows and doors and dreaming that its rays could reach in to lap sleep from the eyes of the slumbering soul like its undeniably brighter counterpart. Indeed, its silent efforts are seen by few. Those who wake by moonlight in the summertime are not hastened on their course by its gentle hand, but wake against the silence of a world that would lull them back to sleep.

These days I am most grateful if I can wake only once or twice during the night, rather than seven or eight times, so waking at 5 AM after six hours of sleep seems strangely restful, despite that my body is now the ever depleted garden in which two tiny souls are growing. During the day I munch on gummy vitamins to supplement my prenatal so that I can get a bit more nourishment. My fridge is constantly stocked with fresh fruit of every kind: melons, orchard fruit, berries, tropical fruits and more. It's my constant craving. I often wish that I craved more salads, but alas, spring greens and spinach, while ranking high above fried foods, are the least on my list of pleasant foods at the moment.

With a much smaller pharmaceutical selection these days, I am most grateful for the following items that have helped me navigate the otherwise challenging waters of pregnancy:

  • Zofran - or the generic version. It helped me survive morning sickness, and I have now been off for a solid week!
  • Senna - to counteract the less-than-desirable effects of Zofran (plums and similar items are most helpful, too).
  • Saline spray - when I wake unable to breathe, this is far better than an antihistamine (forbidden) these days.
  • Tylenol - I had ruled this out as a qualified pain killer, but it has come in handy a time or two.
  • My sister - After an ultrasound on my gallbladder, two bottles of tums (salicyliates forbidden), and a Dr's visit, my sister told me she'd had the same problem I was having and told me I needed something to coat my stomach while pregnant.
  • Carafate - Ahhhh. Alas, relief from stomach pain! This lovely baby-safe glue coats my stomach like a shield. It could mend at last! Sucrafate does the same, according to the nice pharmacist man. No more jalapenos, broccoli, or Indian food for a while... :(
  • Two showers a day - for the workout I seem to be doing by merely sitting in a chair. Who knew I had sweat glands that work when I am not hitting the gym?
  • Dr. Pepper - because Rx migraine meds and babies don't mix, and it tastes yummy, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trouble on the Frontier

Owning a bird seems simple. You put food in the food tray and water in the water tray, and the bird sits in its cage and sings, right? Wrong. The truth is, when you get a handfed baby bird, it imprints on you and thinks you should never, ever be out of sight. It thinks that it belongs on your shoulder while you sleep, sweep, cook, clean, talk with friends, and when it gets jealous, it does something drastic so that you will pay attention to it. It longingly watches out of the window while you mow the lawn or shovel the walks. It would rather be with you than eat, sleep, or drink.

Most of us don't even consider the possibility of bonding with a bird because they surround us every day. They poop on our cars, they pick carrion in the middle of the road, and they certainly don't cuddle.
We have two very unique little birds. When you place one beside the other, it becomes very apparent how unique their personalities are. Take for instance a little habit that Kawi has had for years of shredding a single piece of toilet paper into tiny little balls. He is so meticulous and careful that it is really quite impressive how consistent the results turn out:

Now take Penny. She was still a baby when she met Kawi and decided that she, too, should shred toilet paper, however, she does so in a slightly less delicate fashion:
Birds are very sensitive to sound and sight. Every noise you make holds some meaning. That bright red fingernail polish turns beloved fingers into a foreign object.

This past weekend we moved Kawi from the room he has occupied for the past three years. After his first night in this new room, Kawi woke in a terrible fright and thrashed in his cage until C took him out. He must have hurt himself because for the next few days, he was the most tender and loving bird in all of the world, craving at every instance a head scratch, and not biting us to let us know he was finished with our affection.

I know it sounds lovely, but this simply wasn't our Kawi. At last he is starting to come back around and regretfully is back to his old ways. Penny handled the move like a champ, but Kawi is still adapting to us moving him out of the newly designated baby room. Sigh. Can't wait until December...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Semantics and Social Graces

Years ago I worked for a gunsmith. It was a temporary gig that I did as a favor to my husband, who was eager to see his friend successful. Despite this man's lack of skill in managing his business, the gunsmith was highly successful at one thing: getting into his customer's heads.
If someone came into his shop and asked for a softer trigger, the gunsmith played 20 Questions with the customer until he could confidently define what the term "softer" meant for that specific customer. This semantic investigation allowed him to get the job done right the first time, and even though this took him months or even years to get around to, his customers (navy seals and other specialty military personnel) were very pleased with the final outcome.
From this experience I learned that we all have very different definitions of clearly defined words. Confidential is another term that I have learned has a wide variety of meanings for various individuals. I interpret this to mean, "Please don't share this," and my brain makes it just go away. I take that request seriously.
Trust is a rare commodity in this world, and even if I am not able to offer any other gift, it is something I have learned to be quite competent at over the years. If there is any question in my mind, I will ask, "Is it okay if I tell...?" If the grantor of said confidential information say no, then I won't share it. Oddly, everyone's definition of confidential is so vastly different that I now take complete responsibility when someone breaks my trust, knowing that I should have known better in the first place.
Over the years of being a childless soul, I have had great insurance. I occasionally required medical procedures like scans from banging my head down down icey cement stairs. I have also had ultrasounds on various parts of my body. It never occurred to me personally that the term "ultrasound" would be isolated to prenatal use only.
For the past month I have had persistent pain just below my rib cage in the location where the gall-bladder sits. Not once did I think, "It must be a problem with the babies." I knew when it started, and I knew that it was far away enough from the babies that it was something different. Since radiation isn't an option when you are pregnant, I finally went in for an ultrasound on the area when the pain took me down in tears.
I missed church last week to rest (since the pain doesn't allow me to sleep), and mentioned to someone that I'd had an ultrasound on the area. Little did I know that this translated in several minds to "problems with the babies." Today my most beloved pointed out my faux pas in using the term "ultrasound." It had never occurred to me that someone would take what I said to mean that there were baby problems, but that's semantics for you.
Finally, I have been astounded to find the variety of individual interpretations of social graces. I was raised in a home where certain topics were considered socially taboo. We were taught, for instance, never to ask someone's age, income, or intimate details of their lives. Having received questions in all of the above categories from friends, associates, and even complete strangers, I have come to the conclusion that social graces fall under the class of rapidly disappearing virtues. I am not sure what the fascination is with needing to know personal details of one's neighbors or associates. Whatever the cause, it makes me cherish ever more those individuals who are endowed with such attributes as social graces and restraint.
Disclaimer: I did take all of the above photographs, under personal copyright. During my time working with this gunsmith I learned a great appreciation for the meaning behind the most simple word, the art of fine weapon craftsmanship and among other things, the value of epoxy impregnated glass grips in desert environments. 

**If the beauty of the above weapons doesn't fit your personal tastes, perhaps these will be more to your liking:

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team

Last week something happened at work. When I came on board with this new company, I told the CEO that I was expecting. I explained how important trust was to me, and that we weren't quite ready to announce. When he was asked if I was pregnant during an offsite, he flatly said that he didn't know what the person was talking about.

I have had several very different experiences with other leaders who were not so bound to maintaining trust, but this one is different. I have never heard him speak unkindly to anyone or about anyone. He is a man of integrity who leads with a positive energy and a quiet confidence. I have never experienced him trying to peacock his intelligence, but that isn't because he couldn't. I have never experienced him belittling someone in front of others. His employees don't rush around in fear, they rush around and work hard because they are eager to be their very best. It's so refreshing. It makes you want to be the best you can be.

Employees aren't called on the carpet for being unprofessional. They let their personalities shine and everyone can just be themselves. They can even list how many bottles of propel they drank over the last 3 months in an official company report. They can make mistakes, own them, laugh at them, and move on. I am loving the un-corporate environment. I don't have to change who I am or worry about how I am doing. I just want to be the best I can be.

There is still some left-over corporate rub that I am shedding, but another member of the executive team told me about her work at LinkedIn. It was a similar environment, but required her to let go of the corporate environment to fit in. Sometimes I wake up at night stressed, a leftover from my previous job, and then I laugh that it's okay. I have an amazing husband, an amazing job, an amazing life, and no reason for stress!

Pride begets pride. Humility begets humility. A great leader begets other great leaders that are constantly raising their own personal standards to want to keep up, and they do it quietly and powerfully.

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