March 22, 2013

Upon further reflection

I'm getting a little annoyed about my review. I love all the kind things they said. However, I thought I'd be getting tangible steps to take towards a promotion. My GM made it seem like it was almost a done deal when we talked in January. Now this VP of Creat1ve, who is just starting to know me, is making me prove myself all over again. PLUS, now I have to do that with the new Creative D1rector they just hired.

I'm grateful for the good from the review, but it feels like I could see the next step and all of a sudden it grew into a mountain.

It also seems like a great way to make me invest more blood, sweat and tears into this company. Hmph.

Which is why, when they asked if I'd come for the latest pitch rehearsal on Monday, I said, "Sure!"

March 21, 2013

My review

Good news: Brex is in daycare today. He woke up 'in his right mind' vs the screaming banshee with flailing arms that we've dealt with since Sunday. The reason that's perfect is that I had my review call with my General Manag3r (GM) and our VP of Creat1ve (VP).

I'd told GM that I wanted to find out what I had to do to become an Associate Creat1ve Director. I've been nervous since then because the VP posted some things on our company Chatt3r group about why it's impossible to have remote creat1ve teams. The irony is that before I moved here, I completely agreed with him! Every time my company tried to force me to work with rem0te creatives, I kicked, screamed and whined.

I didn't get the promotion. was the feedback (and yes, I took notes. Don't judge)

  • You have a wonderful, 'can-do' attitude that's refreshing
  • You have the poise I look for in a leader
  • You're a strong communicator. In fact, there are many times when yours is the main voice in the brainstorm, why is that? (I gave a few answers: I'm an extrovert, faster at thinking on my feet, depends who feels ownership, personality of the other guys. The irony is that I've been impressed with myself lately because I've managed to draw out tangible answers from my guys!)
  • You need to raise the level of the Big Ideas that you bring to the table. Throw some pasta on the wall.
  • We have a new Creative D1rector coming in. Right now you have amazing rapport with your current team, how do we build that with the new leader?
  • We need a plan to keep you in the heartbeat of the studio, especially if we start adding new people to the team.
  • You are incredibly special and we want to keep you involved, this isn't a way of trying to manage you out. You bring a value that's intense and we want to keep you.
In terms of wanting the promotion:
  • Being remote is the biggest hindrance.
  • We look for three elements in a creative leader: Outward (being the lead in the eyes of the client), Being a partner to client services; Being a creative leader to the staff.
  • If you were still in the area, you'd be in the position. You have it all. 

So I responded, "I have a proposal then."

"Great, we love proposals."

"Let's give it six-months with the new leader. See how it goes. I know it will mean I need to travel there frequently. I'm willing to do that. Then after six-months, let's evaluate with him if he thinks this might work."

They agreed. In fact, the VP added, "I have to say, before meeting you, I've been completely opposed to any creative working remotely. You are challenging and breaking the mold."

I laughed, "The problem will be that if I do it others will want to as well!"

He chuckled, "I'll just write up the OTRgirl model for rem0te creat1ves and no one else will ever measure up."

In other good news, after giving me a speech about how our company didn't meet its objectives and how they took a cautious and aggressive approach to any pay increases, they gave me a cost of living adjustment as well as a bonus. Sounds like most people aren't getting either.

I'm feeling good! Well, despite having caught the cold Brex dished out, and despite having a TON of work to finish in the next two days.

So now, back to the drawing board (literally).

March 18, 2013

Second week post-op is the culprit

I'm wondering if the reason the hernia keeps coming back is that by the second week, I feel fairly normal so it's easy to push it.

Brex was sick this weekend starting with a low appetite Friday night and a fever Saturday morning. He seems to be better today, but we're both working from home to given him time to recover. Jrex can't leave me alone with Brex since I can't lift the baby into his high chair, or into my lap for story time, or up the stairs, or into the bathtub, or onto the changing table. The problem is that after a week of me not being able to do what I normally do with him, Brex is OVER it. He wants me and only me, is getting frustrated by the situation, and therefore taking it out on his Dad. Any time Jrex approaches Brex, Brex waves his arms in a 'get away!' motion and then reaches his pudgy arms towards me with tears streaming down his face. It's really sad. Since I feel 'normal', it's easy to want to just pick him up. I'm realizing this is what I caved into the last two go-rounds. Not that Brex was as opinionated then, but I'm so used to being independent, that having to call for help all the time feels humiliating and frustrating. This time I'm really trying to be good.

I may have done a foolish thing this weekend. As I've mentioned, thus far, the only TV that Brex has seen has been sports when Jrex is watching on the weekend or a fun kid show to mesmerize him so I can trim his fingernails. Well, with a little sick kid, a sore belly and a husband stressed out by all the work he needed to do, I turned to Shaun. Friends from daycare have mentioned the show before and I decided to see if Brex would like it. Well... I'd say 'like' is a small, tiny, fragile word for what he felt.
The claymation is whimsical, the music and sound effects mesmerizing, and the story lines are funny for adult and toddler alike. In short, I may have created a monster.

On the other hand, not only did he get all twenty nails clipped, he got a haircut, too!

March 13, 2013

Post-surgery update

My Dad just emailed me some questions. I figured they were worth answering for all four of you still reading this scattered, slap-dash blog.

When the surgeon scoped your interior, did he find other causes of your hernia?
He didn't see anything else wrong and assured us that this would fix it. Unfortunately though, the last two rounds of surgery were one layer up and so they couldn't see what was going on there. As in, they were below my stomach lining and those repairs were above it? Something like that. (I will clarify this with the surgeon when I go in for my follow up in a week and a half. This is my interpretation from what Jrex heard from him).

If so, was he able to repair them?
He did small incisions and was happy with the result and says this should be it.

Did the surgeon do anything differently from prior repairs?
No idea since he couldn't see the details of the prior repairs. His opening seems to be smaller and I'm recovering faster, so that's good.

Is the surgeon pleased with the results?
Yes. But I doubt any surgeon would admit to less! They tend to be over-confident and a little cocky.

How are you feeling?
By Sunday afternoon I was done with the Vicodin (narcotic pain med) and able to just use ibuprofen. Yesterday I got through the day with no naps or pain meds, so I'm feeling pretty good considering. Still sore. Still can't pick up Brex, but I can sit on a stool near him when he's playing and give him lots of hugs. We normally play fairly physical games (him leaning back in my arms, twirls, upside down, fake drops, etc) and I think he is missing that, but overall we're managing.

A funny side note:
After my second hernia repair, when I was in the recovery room, they kept asking me if I wanted to wake up and I kept saying, "No" and continuing my blissful nap. This time, my surgery was in the afternoon. It meant that Jrex waited to hear what the surgeon had to say post-op and then headed back downtown to pick up Brex from daycare. Which meant a toddler in the waiting room. He kept telling me, "You can't do three hours in recovery this time!" It was rough to force myself out of happy sleep to wake up this time. In fact, I suspect I did it a little too fast cause the ride home was NOT fun (nausea).

A less funny side note:
A freaky thing that happened the post-op evening. We got home, I fell into bed and slept for four or five hours. I woke up because the mutt was whining to get into our room. Jrex had gone out to do some shopping or something, Mom K was home, but not sure what she was supposed to do about the dog. I shuffled out of bed to let the dog into our room. Then I shuffled into the bathroom to get my pain meds. By the time I got to the bathroom, my teeth were chattering and I started to shake. Thankfully, Jrex came in at that moment and helped me back into bed. I was under the covers but still shaking. He took my pulse for the normal 15 seconds. Then he repositioned his fingers and did it for a full minute. I knew that meant something was bothering him. "What's wrong?"

"Has your pulse ever been below 55?"


"Hmm...Let's get you hydrated and get you some food."

I asked the next day, when my pulse was back to 68 and I felt normal, what was going on. Apparently, my pulse had been 48-52 and irregular. It was likely an after effect of the surgery and not having much to eat or drink for 24-hours, but that was scary! Another time that it's nice to have a doctor for a husband. I certainly take advantage of him a lot.

March 8, 2013

Water in the desert

I thrive on 'words of affirmation'. (From The Five Love Languages)

One of the challenges we've faced as a couple is that each time we move Jrex is my only 'real' friend for a while. Usually once I dive into a church, I get surrounded by people who affirm who I am, my gifts, my friendship, etc. Poor Jrex fights an uphill battle since compliments are not his style. This move has been doubly challenging because we've added a kid to the mix. Therefore, it's taken more time to find a church, and despite having found one, it's taking a while to get connected. Having a kid in tow provides quick connections, but lengthens the time required to achieve depth. As a result, I've not been getting many affirmations. If I ask him to 'tell me something nice', he always responds in a wonderful way. It's good, but somehow, just not as 'real' as if he spontaneously tells me I'm the best wife ever (a girl can dream, right?).

Sadly, the love desert works the other way, too. Jrex's primary way of showing (and therefore of receiving) love is through serving others. Well, that's the one that's hardest for me to do. I'm already doing most of our laundry, much of the childcare, most of the house straightening, and in my oh-so-abundant (not!) leftover energy, various house projects. Therefore, he does most of the cooking, yet in Korean culture, food=love. Sigh. We're both starving each other despite our best efforts.

One of my best friends sent me an email today that was a HUGE help:
What's so great about you?

1.  You are so fun to watch / hear as a mom.  I love your heart for your little boy and how much fun motherhood is for you.
2.  You have modeled perseverance and love in your marriage, in a way I've not seen in anyone else. 
3.  You love life, and you are able to connect with anyone and anything.  :)
4.  You are honest and caring in your communication.  I know you will always tell me the truth—even if I don't think I want to hear it.
5.  You are careful with your friends... I feel safe with you and always have.
6.  You see beyond the exterior of people and into their lives.
7.  You are a constant that I'm so thankful to have in my life.
8.  You have ideas beyond what a normal brain can hold. 
9.  You don't give up - you figure out a way to make things happen, in relationships, in your job, and even with small details.
10. You recognize God's hand in and on your life, and you are mindful of His blessings.
11. You are a great communicator—I have learned so much about communicating what's in my heart because you have been open and patient with me over the years.
Obviously the list could go on, and I could elaborate on each of these things as well. But basically, I just want to let you know that you are
beautiful and loved and appreciated!  I truly don't know what my life would be without you. Thanks for showing up, and for staying through all the stuff we've walked through over the years.  You are more of a blessing to me than you may ever know. 

Part of the point in this fraught and fragile life is to be truly known and truly loved. I think there are points in a marriage where each person feels truly known and truly tolerated. Jrex and I are working on rebuilding our emotional adoring core (we're still enjoying our 'in home' date nights), but while we're working on that, it was wonderful to hear from someone else who truly knows me and has the words that help me feel loved.

March 4, 2013

Yikes! Where did I go?

I just scrolled through my last few posts and realized there's nothing personal in them. Sorry about that! Here are the latest tid-bits.

I'm getting my THIRD round of hernia surgery on Friday. Yes, the sucker came back again. I'm going to a different surgeon (cause, "fool me twice, shame on me"). The new guy's going to go in with a camera first and make sure all systems are normal.

Mom K is arriving at 10 PM the night before the surgery. We'll have Friday morning for Brex to get used to her, then they'll drop me off for surgery, take Brex to daycare and come back to sit in the hospital until I come out. Maybe we'll see if Mom wants to go to daycare with Brex instead? I won't be able to pick him up for two weeks and I'm a little worried he will be very testy about a Mom substitute when he hasn't had a chance to adjust to her first.

In preparation for not being able to pick him up, I bought him a toddler bed off of Craigslist. This way, neither Mom K with her severe osteoporosis or me with my sutured stomach will have to pick him up to put him in a crib. Brex is DELIGHTED to be able to tumble into and out of his OWN bed. I put the step stool next to the bed and he's quite adept at using it as a launching pad. I can change his diaper on the floor. He's happy to climb and descend the steps under his own steam. Mom will be here for a week, Jrex will have to do drop off and pick up since I can't drive. We'll make it work. It's just, sigh... I'm SO over this whole process.

Sunday we invited another couple over for brunch. They have many eerie similarities to us: he's Asian (Chinese), she's Caucasian. They moved here when she was 7 months pregnant. She's in the arts (Museum Registrar), he's one of Jrex's peers at work (another Physician/Scientist). They have a perfect child. He does most of the cooking (says it's an extension of the experimentation he does in lab). We had a great time despite the fact that I'm becoming the Crazy Lady who works from home and talks WAY too much any time there's a breathing human in the same room. Over share with the poor cashier at the grocery store? Check. Accost my poor neighbors? Yup. Interrupt our gentle, quiet guest? Sigh.

Still working on the office decor project. We found out Friday that the Exec (who is over the two people we've been working with) vetoed the overall direction we were heading in. Not only do we have to revamp, we have to have a new deck ready to show our general manager on Thursday to then send to the Exec on Friday. The four of us went off to look for inspiration last Friday and did Show and Tell today. There were common elements we'd all found, so we're using those as the main motifs moving forward. I started the phone call by announcing that I'd jumped into Eeyore's camp and was totally demoralized. By the end, it felt like we were back on the same team and I felt excited again.

Jrex and I continue to do our weekly 'in home' date nights. We migrated away from take out and Jrex did an amazing meal for our most recent one. I realized that as much as I LOVE his food, part of what makes it feel like a 'date' is not having to spend the evening cleaning, cooking and cleaning. So we'll go back to the take out concept. We just need to find places open on a Monday night...

In the next month it looks like we'll be having a constant flow of overnight guests as well as out of town friends stopping by for dinner or brunch. It's surprising how many of our far flung friends swing through Dallas to visit family or for work. Having a house that can accommodate the influx has restored my enjoyment of hospitality.

So c'mon down, y'all!