Appreciating the Outdoors

My little ones have a favorite spot near the park.

We go there from time to time in the winter, weather permitting, and more often in the summer.

We wade in the creek with our rain boots, watch tadpoles grow over time, and see who can make the biggest splash by throwing a rock. They haven’t quite mastered the art of skipping rocks. 

One of my daughter’s Christmas presents was a rock painting kit. With the flattest rocks placed in colorful buckets, our last trip was a success.

Four Years at Automattic

This past November marked a work anniversary for me. It kind of passed quietly under the deafening election results the next day and a back injury I’ve been struggling with since. But I made it 4 years and I’m still happy at Automattic.com where I work as a VIP Wrangler.

My previous software job I held from 2001-2011. It was in a traditional office with local staff. It was a niche product offered internationally. I learned how to build websites, do phone/email/forum support, write small blurbs for advertising, write and edit articles for specific page counts in magazines, write multiple 300 page books and not flinch, give back-to-back television presentations in one take, teach software to end users, teach software to teachers, teach software to sales people. It showed me what I liked to do and what I did not excel at. I will be forever grateful to my previous employers for their trust and giving me wings to do what I wanted to try.

But that job did not allow for telecommuting. So I found myself as a new mom, in a new state, with the desire to get out of freelancing. It was one of those moments when some sort of divine intervention swoops in and saves you — too many coincidences to attribute to chance.

I was canvassing job boards, applying many places, checking LinkedIn for friends at other companies I could apply at. A gentleman asked to be a LinkedIn connection. I took one look and thought “who are you and why do you have over 500 people in your list?” I scoured his profile wondering if infant-sleep deprivation was keeping me from remembering we had actually met. We hadn’t, but #yolo. I clicked it. Accept!

Over the next few days, I came across a job listing that was perfect…for him, not me. And sticking with my theme of “what’s the worst that can happen?” I contacted him and told him why I thought he should apply.

8/15/12

In the interest of paying it forward, I saw this and thought of you while I was doing my own job hunt…
Check out: link
Best wishes,
Andrea

He wrote back:

8/15/12
Andrea,
Thank you so much for thinking of me with regard to this position. It seems like a great fit and I have applied for it. May the good Karma you generated by passing this along to me stand you in good stead in your own job search. Stay in touch and let me know how your search is going. Who knows, perhaps we will meet each other in a corporate boardroom someday!
Warmest Regards,
Jeffrey

Not 24 hours later after our email exchange he shared this link to his LinkedIn connections:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443571904577631750172652114

I often wonder if I would have stumbled across the article on my own or found Automattic on my own.

It sounded like the perfect fit. I applied, started my trial at the end of September 2012, and was hired by early November. I was assigned to a team having a meetup almost immediately, so not only did I find myself with a new job but needing to book flights to Lisbon, Portugal on short notice.

It’s been a whirlwind of fun, changes, and new friendships. I have not had this kind of job satisfaction before.

About a month after my work anniversary, I had the pleasure of volunteering at WordCamp US in Philadelphia and wrangling room staffing. I walked up to Matt after the State of the Word and said, “you know I don’t think I have a photo of us together”.

So here goes. Thank you Matt. You’ve got a great thing going on here at Automattic.
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So I made the “Christmas Crack” recipe that’s floating around Facebook

It all started with an over abundance of saltine crackers from Wendy’s. Am I going to use these? They’re going to go to waste! Then epiphany. I should make that dessert that has saltines as the base.

Now that I have, there’s only:


It went together quickly. I’ll admit it was salty and sweet, but way too sweet for my taste even without all the toppings we added. If I had to make it again, I’d add more crackers or salted peanuts and lessen the butter/brown sugar layer.

Here’s how to make it:

Start with a layer of saltines on top of a foil-covered pan. I sprayed mine with no-stick baking spray as well. Preheat the oven to 425F.


Then, melt 2 sticks of butter and a cup of brown sugar together until it boils for a few minutes. If you understand anything about making candy (which I don’t) or have a candy thermometer (which I don’t), you should probably do whatever recommendation you know from another recipe for getting it so the sugar isn’t grainy. Here’s what it looked like before it boiled:


Spread it over the crackers and bake at 425F for about 4 minutes.


Then sprinkle chocolate chips, wait a few minutes for it to melt, and spread that out:


I was planning on only adding m&m’s on top. The mini marshmallows were calling my kids though.

So I broiled it until they were golden and popped them flat reaching the same satisfaction you get when you pop bubble wrap.


After that came the m&m’s and the freezer for 30 minutes. It didn’t “crack” it was more like forceful bending under the will of chocoholics– which makes me think I screwed up the butter and brown sugar part even more.

Finished product:


Pardon me while I slip into a sugar coma.

Happy accidents

So apparently I can’t timezone outside of work. I coordinate with coworkers all over the world just fine, but when it is just me — I goof it up.

I drive 12-16 hours sometimes to and from locations and stick within the Eastern timezone. Today on my way to Nashville, I didn’t realize this short 4 hour jump would take me into Central.

So now suddenly I’m multiple hours early for my flight to California. What to do? What to do? It took me an entire 2 seconds to decide and act on my decision. I’m celebrating my extra hour with a massage/pedicure, because this is my time.

Is it still a “Zen” Tangle with a 4-year old?

Every year at our all-company meetup we do Flash Talks – a four minute presentation on whatever you want.

This year I saw one about drawing zen tangles (I think by Kristen Symonds). ❤️

I can’t remember the complete steps from the presentation 😣 but have been trying a variation with my 4-year-old daughter who loves to draw. 

I’d like to put an emphasis on variation, because Zen and 4-year old don’t always belong in the same sentence.

We’ve been doing them together and just doodling our hearts out. She is intently focused on the drawing for the first twenty to thirty minutes before she runs off, I finish the drawing out, and then if I forget to put it away – she fills in designs with solid color when I’m not looking. Doh!

Madame Butterfly

I’m very excited to hear Indiana University’s production of Madame Butterfly tonight. I’ve been listening to this opera since I was born. (No joke!) My dad always sang the role of Sharpless. Hopefully it’s a night where a few of his opera students will be in the cast or chorus.

Here’s a preview of one of the dress rehearsals:

Pokemon Halloween

It all started when I had this idea of being   Pikachu for Halloween and asked my kids if they wanted to go as a theme. Of course my daughter didn’t want to be anything else other than Pikachu. :/

After much negotiation and surfing the pokedex in the Pokemon Go app, she is going to be, surprise surprise — Pikachu.

I thought I’ll probably be chasing her everywhere on October 31st anyway, so I’m going to be a trainer whose sole job it is to catch Pikachu. 

But when I asked my son what he wanted to be, he didn’t like anything he saw. I asked him if he’d rather be the trainer – nope. Asked him if he wanted to be one of the dragon-looking ones – nope.

Then it finally dawned on him and he said with stubborn enthusiasm “I want to be a pokeball!!!!” 

How in the world do you get that costume off Amazon???

Fast forward to a week later, my paper cuts are healed from covering an exercise ball each night in paste and newspaper. The holes have been cut out and initial coats of spray paint applied.

 

I’m feeling a bit apprehensive of trying to  tape-off the reverse and paint the black stripe in the middle, so black duct tape is going on tonight.

I hope he remembers twenty years from now that I try to be the cool mom.