Last Day of School

It’s summer officially here. The last day of elementary school was “Field Day”– lots of games and outdoor play all day. My son came home soaked from head to toe, shoes and all. With the widest grin and speed-talker voice, he mumbled “It was so fun!” [unheard] “water balloons!” I drew a bath for him and made him soak the mud off before being allowed to roam the house.

They’re growing up so fast. I can’t believe I just wrote my last daycare check ever. My littlest one starts Kindergarten in less than 3 months.

Eleven Years Later

I don’t dread April yet, but this day always makes me cry. On April 20, 2006 I lost two friends in a plane crash on their way back from a rehearsal.

Robert and Chris both did their undergraduate music degrees the same years my brother and I were in college. They were studying opera performance from our father. My brother and I sang with both in choirs, many times I was next to Robert because we towered over others and blocked their view if we were up front. Robert even offered to my accompanist when I took my own voice lessons. When I’d work backstage at the university theater, one or both of them would be on stage. I still remember a time when Robert’s villain costume was locked up over Spring Break in his dorm room and he needed to wear black on stage. Realizing this mid-show shortly before he had to go on stage and me being in all black to do scene changes, I gave him my pants and took his so he could go on stage and sing. He teased and implied all kinds of things to make my father laugh.

When it came time to do their masters, Robert lead the way and found the Music School at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Chris auditioned and made it in as well. When the educators learned they both came from my father’s studio, they invited my dad out to teach a seminar. He wow’d everyone so much, my father switched universities. When my dad got Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to undergo chemo, Chris and Robert would take turns – one holding my father’s arm and walking him through the school to the car, the other having a good hug/cry/pep-talk with my mother where she waited to pick him up.

I can honestly say, their deaths devastated every member of my family.

Every year this day, the families of all the victims get together for dinner. I did not know Garth, Georgina, or Zach, but I have had the privilege of getting to know their families since. It’s been eleven years and I’m still numb from the loss.

Vegas, baby

My best friend and I decided to spend our vacation together, celebrating halfway between our birthdays with whomever else from our group of friends who could come along. Las Vegas was planned a year in advance. We joked about all the things we’d do, but our trip took a much different spin when she learned she was pregnant a few months prior to the trip.

We filled our days with sightseeing and shows, good meals at Bobby Flay’s and up in the Eiffel, and plenty of downtime. The 4×4 trip through the mountains was going to be a bit too bouncy for the momma-to-be, so only half of us went but it was gorgeous out there and the weather was perfect. I could have used another day by the pool soaking up the heat and listening to the water ripple. It was not the trip I thought I was going to have, but it was definitely the one that I needed.

Hopefully March is better

The last month has been rough. And by rough I mean, it’s been a series of rolling crises. I had a fun meetup with my team from work in Barcelona. I was exhausted, but glad to have some downtime with friends while coworking and talking about the future. Upon arrival at home, I found out my dad’s blood sugar spiked to 400 plus while I was away and he was having trouble waking up one morning. If I hadn’t hired a babysitter for every other day while I was away, I think my mom would have lost her mind and asked that I fly back. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad she didn’t tell me about the incident while I was there.

A few days later, everyone came down with strep throat in 3 day increments and had to go on antibiotics. Most of the morning of my birthday was spent at Ready Care trying to get myself medicine over the weekend so I didn’t feel like crap and could actually celebrate. (tl;dr: I fell asleep next to the humidifier after dinner.) By that time after having everyone sick for the last two weeks, we were behind on our chores.

I boiled or replaced toothbrushes and started in on the bedding and clothes. Just when I needed to sterilize everything the washer broke. Two weeks of laundry was too much to deal with while we waited for the new washer/dryer to be delivered and installed, so I spent a day at the laundromat with my mom. The new washer/dryer arrived and everything started going back to normal. Things were great for 3 days.

This past Thursday, I went to bed late and found a puddle on my brother’s oak desk, looked up and saw the water dripping from the ceiling. I grabbed some towels and a bucket and triaged the downstairs. Good enough? Yes, ok UPSTAIRS!

Upstairs I found the leak behind the new washer/dryer. It was dripping faster than a heartbeat and I barely saw any water on the floor. 😦 After turning off the water supplies, throwing down towels and a bucket, I thought “I’m not going to be much use tomorrow if it’s 3am and there’s more hiding that I haven’t found.”

The next morning (i.e. less than 4 hours later), I got the kids off to school, kicked off my shoes at the front door and walked to the kitchen but noticed my socks were suddenly wet. Sarcastic YAY! I scrambled to go find a Bissell wet vac and some box fans at the local hardware store. Most of Friday was spent moving the sweeper incrementally by inches across the carpet for hours. The remediators who came said I could have put them out of business with how well of a job I did in the dining room. We couldn’t save the laundry room though.

So today I see bare subfloor. The cabinet is ripped out with the utility sink. All the tile is gone. The new washer/dryer are covered and protected standing guard in the hallways, keeping small children from peeking through the construction. I still can’t do laundry. The hum of industrial fans is starting to sound normal, but working with a dust mask on to keep from sneezing/coughing is the pits (especially with glasses).

Trying to find some fun things out of the house to do, I came up with a reading scavenger hunt for my kids. They loved it. I think I’ll try it again when it’s warmer and we can find flowers.

scavengerhunt1 scavengerhunt2

I’m trying to stay positive, but everything around me is like a displaced torn-up maze of relocated furniture.

I could use some happy thoughts sent my way if you’ve got them.

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 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.


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,

He wrote back:

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,

Not 24 hours later after our email exchange he shared this link to his LinkedIn connections:

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.

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: