Thursday, September 27, 2007


Today we laid off the fourth employee since I joined the firm 22 months ago - we're only 21 people. Right now, we're short 4 people (2 due to layoffs, 1 a new position and 1 an employee move) and in the frenzy of hiring.

It's crazy, but exciting due to the possibility of adding great people to the team and improving work flow.

This is the yucky part though - discipline and letting go.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Quick update - Dad's surgery took 4 hours when it was supposed to take 2. Those last 2 hours were torture. They think they got the entire tumor and were pleased that it had shrunk after chemo. They were able to do the surgery without giving him the "coloscopy sack" - us engineers call it a bypass line for the rectum and it is no fun.

Thank you for your positive thoughts!

Today, I am grateful for:

The surgeon who respected my father's wishes and performed the surgery requested, worked twice as long and did a great job.

My step mom's friends who came to the hospital and showed support.

My husband's sister, who did a great job reading to the kids tonight, with love and patience.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Recently my children have started to say grace before dinner. Mostly it is a very positive experience and I've stopped cringing when they thank god for everything instead of each other or simply expressing gratitude. The concept of thanking only god has always rubbed me wrong - it feels belittling to the things the rest of us do. Anyhow, they seem interested in saying grace and expressing thanks for our food and other things.

According to Dr. Emmons' research, my kids are on their way to a happier, more fulfilling life. His research is based on the concept that "Gratitude is the “forgotten factor” in happiness research." He asserts that those who take the time to express gratitude and spend time thinking of their blessings are happier, healthier and more likely to help others.

I love it.

So, here's my first shot at three things:

- I am grateful for my long-lasting and enduring friendship with my college room mate and look forward to seeing her soon.
- I am grateful that my husband helped reinforce to our son that he should eat the healthy lunch his mom packs for him instead of skipping snack and buying lunch.
- I am grateful that my former boss, who has been respectful but distant since I changed jobs, has agreed to see me for lunch today.
- I am grateful that I live close enough to my dad that I can be there for his cancer surgery, which is tomorrow, and that my boss is supportive of that time off.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Entering Week 4

My darling little girl has been sick for just over three weeks and we finally broke down and started antibiotics for what we think is a respiratory infection.

When you don't catch asthma fast enough, or manage it well enough during an illness, the mucus stays in the lungs and can lead to infection. After a visit to the doctor last week, we discovered that the medicine simply wasn't getting into her lungs.

They gave us a new device that has a one-way valve and only administers the medicine when one inhales through the mouthpiece. God bless the engineer who designed this as it has been our savior. She's getting about twice the medicine she used to and we saw improvement within days. We were hopeful that the lungs would open up and we'd avoid the antibiotics, but when she complained of not feeling well this morning, and with our son now sick, my husband filled the prescription.

Which brings up a side point. One of the real challenges of being the one who works full-time away from the home is that I don't have control sometimes. I can give my input, on what I know, but my husband gets to make the call. I try to trust his judgement, but I'd be lying if I said we agreed on everything. Sometimes I sit at work so frustrated about my lesser role in my children's care giving, at my powerlessness in all of this. Then I worry that gender matters and that my kids need their mom, at home, with them. But in the end, I just try to be thankful that they have their dad at home to take them to school and pick them up. Many don't even have that. My support may not always be being there, but I am making it possible for many things through earning my salary. I just can't be both the wage earner and care giver, and sometimes that's really hard because having to pick just one seems so unfair.

I guess we could switch roles, but that would dramatically affect our ability to stay in our neighborhood, save for college and save for retirement. Plus, it's not clear that I would be happy trying to be part-time worker and home for the kids.

Perhaps the grass just seems greener on the other side of the fence.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Las Vegas Slots Machines and My Parenting Skills

Ever thought about why the house always wins in Vegas and why people can spend countless hours in front of slot machines. The premise is that the machines are unpredictable and if you keep trying, you are bound to get lucky. It's just a matter of when.

So it goes with whining. If the child whines enough, or asks enough times, or promises to be good, maybe the parent will give in.

We've been practicing not being the house lately. It seems like every time the kids don't like the answer, they ask again and again and again. Or they try to negotiate.

I've been practicing holding firm.

I've even started threatening a worse fate if they continue to whine or argue. "You don't like sherbet for dessert? If you keep complaining, you'll get nothing?"

So far so good, but it's going to take time for them to know that we mean what we say and that our word is final. It makes me silent alot, or at least whispering to my husband before I lay down the law.

In the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard (I recommend this one Yertle), Blanchard talks of an experience with one of his sons. First it is important to explain the basic premise of the book and that is to be concise in your dealings and to delver criticism in a one minute package, absolutely focused on the recipient. Then it is also helpful to note that he is divorced and didn't have a heck of a lot of time with his sons. So, one day his youngest son acts up in the grocery store. Blanchard stops everything and begins to deliver his one minute of discipline. Yet his is greeted by a smiling face, all to pleased and eager to receive his one minute of undivided attention from his too busy dad.

Maybe that's part of it. Maybe my kids feel like they need to misbehave to get my attention?

Maybe I'll have to work on that too.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Spare the Rod

You ever heard the phrase, "Spare the rod, spoil the child"?

This has been on my mind a lot lately.

My mom was yelled at and hit as a child. She tells stories of how the nuns rapped her knuckles with rulers and her mom slammed her fingers in the window. My dad remembers the paddle in school. My mom vowed never to hit us. And she did pretty well with that promise, she slapped me once when I was a teenager, and lookihng back, I'm pretty sure I deserved it. My dad didn't make any promises one way or another and the occassional spanking was not unheard of. Once he got mad at me for intervening in a fight between my parents and my brother, he grabbed my arm hard, which wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't popped the stiches that I had just gotten from a minor surgery - the scar is hideous. Although my mom didn't hit, she could say some god awful things and she lectured forever. I remember her following me into the basement to continue a fight and even waking me up in the middle of the night to yell at me. My brother jokes that at times he wished she would just hit us and get it over with instead of lecturing for hours.

So, my daughter and son are 7 and 5. An age where they have a lot of control over their actions and words. At times they can be very disrespectful, rude and out of control. At times, I slap them. I'm so embarrassed to admit this and feel like such a hypocrite when I tell them not to hit. How do I explain the reason. Far away from it, like now, it feels like a loss of control on both our parts. In the heat of it, though, it feels like the only way to get their attention after trying to reason calmly. This only came up this past year. Something about the sassing and outright disregard for rules triggers it.

So, I'm curious what did you experience growing up and how did it color how you parent?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Everyone at Work Loves Me

Everyone at work loves me.

This is one of the affirmations Louise Hay wants me to say each morning to create a joyful work environment for myself. When I read it out loud to my husband last night, he laughed, out loud, and for a long time. You see, as a boss, not everyone loves me. I'm the one that gets to tell people that their copay for medical is going up or that the board only approved a small raise or that we're laying off their position. Right now I'm undergoing disciplinary action with an employee and was the target of two memos to HR about how she was a great, loyal, dedicated, long-term employee and that I was just a crappy, fly by night supervisor. Needless to say, I'm not always loved.

My husband thought I could say "Almost everyone loves me" instead. Somehow, it just doesn't seem as powerful, but I thought he was onto something, so I asked for translations from him on some of the other affirmations.

Louise Hay - My workplace is a pleasure to be in.
My Husband - There's hot coffee at work.

Louise Hay - It is easy for me to find jobs.
My Husband - I could always work someplace worse.

Louise Hay - There is plenty for everyone, including myself.
My Husband - There's hot coffee at work.

I think you get the gist.

But on a serious note, I paid attention to Louise Hay and to my body today. When I woke up achy and not feeling so good, I called in sick. Then I rested and read. Later, after the morning nap, I did a little yoga, meditated, and took myself out on a date for sushi (a whole food which is good for my body). Now I feel fantastic. I highly recommend taking the time to take care of ourselves - it's too easy to ignore, but so wonderful to not.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I'm Not Ready for This

Upon the suggestion of my yoga teacher and in response to thinking a lot about a friend lately, I picked up one of Louise Hay's books. It was an easy choice, there was only one at our local library. The reason I sought out this author was to explore the concept of self-love and spirituality.

When I started the book, I felt fairly confident that I am a strong, healthy person with lots of self-love. Now, I'm not so sure. The part that hit the hardest was when Hay explained that our children mirror our repressed selves. The night I read that section happened to be a hard night-time with some yelling and general frustration - sometimes the kids just don't want to go to bed and will not stay in bed. I remember telling my husband while we stood in the kitchen feeling battle weary that I hated when I yelled and couldn't stand that I had become that.

Hay would tell me to forgive myself. Then to forgive my kids and not criticize.

I'm improving, but have a long journey ahead of me. I try to remember that escalating conflict only feeds it instead of dissolving it.

What I'm currently stuck on, though, is the concept of criticism. Hay says not to be critical of others, not to be judgemental. But then I catch myself wondering about my jobs of mom and boss. Aren't I supposed to have a critical eye, to correct behavior, to get results. Isn't that my duty? Otherwise, would it be chaos and anarchy?

Maybe I can be critical in a coaching way. In a manner that comes from love, not insecurity or fear. But then, who am I to be so bold, to think I have the answers.

Maybe it all becomes clear in the next chapter . . .