#SunReunion

The Sun Alumni Reunion was last Saturday.  I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale several months ago. I didn’t care that they were $160 per person. I didn’t care whether anyone I knew would be there. I missed Sun and wanted to bask in its light just a little longer.

I started at Sun in 2002 as an MBA intern. I did not join Sun at the height. I was there during the struggles and hard decisions. I was there when Sun had to do it’s first major lay-off. I was there when SUNW became JAVA. I was there when even JAVA became no more. But I learned from and loved every minute of it.

Sun shaped me and my career path. I learned to agree to disagree and then commit. I learned that to make things happen, I have to contribute. I learned that the key is not doing what I was passionate about, but to be passionate about what I was doing. I learned that to succeed, I have to listen. I learned that leadership is more like parenting than being a drill sergeant. I learned that my job was to do what was right, even if it was not popular. I learned not to ask for permission, but do and then ask for forgiveness. I learned that you CAN run a company and still treat everyone as individuals and with humanity.

The reunion was closure. I reconnected with friends and bosses and colleagues. Some traveled from far and wide. I was amongst people who still share Sun’s vision and passion. But everyone had also moved on. We took with us what we learned at Sun and focused on applying them to other companies, other careers. I don’t know that I will ever be able to work for another Sun. But I can make my little corner of the world as Sun-like as possible, kicking butt and having fun.

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What I Learned from My MIL

Let’s lay the groundwork. I don’t get along with my MIL. So it is with reluctance and took a long time for me to admit I learned anything from her. Now that we are done with that. Here it is. She taught me how to receive gifts graciously.

She would get me stuff. All manner of stuff.  That she thought I would like. That showed me she knew me. Some bordered on offensive, like the book Dance of Anger. Others I just didn’t get, like holiday themed paper plates and napkins. And it would all demonstrate exactly how little she did know me. But she was trying to make me happy. And I would be dismissive of her gifts and her effort.

One day MIL told me how her mother was the sweetest woman she knew. That her mother would never think to not appreciate a gift. She may not like the gift, but she never showed it. If it was not something she could use, she would pass it on. I resisted. I am an honest person. I have integrity. I would never abandon my principles just so someone would feel better. And then I had children.

Children can be ungrateful imps. And I am often hurt by their brutal honesty. So I teach my children that honesty is a good thing but it does not mean you have to voice all things, honest or not, if it served nothing but to hurt. My MIL would never understand my taste or my style. So I will say thank you. And if it doesn’t work for me, I will pass it on. “

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Mom Dating

Several years ago a friend told me she was hesitant to get to know a new neighbor because they were renting and she didn’t know how long they would be around. I didn’t get it. I figured if you get along, why not make a new friend. What could it hurt? I have changed my tune since then.

We moved to Fremont 2 years ago and it has been easy to meet people with whom I have a lot in common. In fact, I have this one friend who I can drink with AND can rely on to get my kids if I have to work late. This last year with SO on travel so much, she has been a godsend, inviting me and the kids over for dinner when she knew I needed a break from holding everything together alone. So my kids would play with her kids, while she and I would cook and chat. But she is moving.

Not far, mind you. Only 30 minutes away. But still. Our girls will not be in the same GS troop together. It will be harder for her to come out and play (karaoke rules, y’all). And I wonder how long we can sustain this friendship. We both have busy lives. And 30 minutes travel requires more planning than when we lived 3 minutes from each other. Would either of us have invested in this relationship knowing that time was so short?

I met another potential friend on one of our karaoke outings. A friend of a friend. We went on a family date the other day to see if our families get along. We were also using the opportunity to get to know each other (in daylight, sans booze) and our future plans. She pointedly asked me if I would be sticking around. Because she liked me, but didn’t want to invest in a friendship if I was just going to move away. I felt the same way. I have moved from being ok with casual dating to wanting a long term relationship.

So, Ms. Neighbor Who Just Moved In, I’m sorry if I seem to not engage fully. I don’t know where you will be in a year. And while I am ok with sharing a laugh and a beer while our kids play together. I will likely not invite you into my life.

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Please and Thank You, People.

Please and Thank You, people. Please and Thank You.

When you say Please and Thank You, you acknowledge that the person you are speaking to is a human being with their own will. You acknowledge that every person has an option to say “No”. No one HAS to do what you ask.

What if I am the boss and I sign his paycheck? He can still say no and risk being fired and leaving you in a lurch. So say Please and Thank You.

What if I am the parent and he is my child? He can still say no and risk being timed out or spanked and leaving you with huge therapy bills in their teen years. So say Please and Thank You.

What if I am the patron and he gets paid to serve me? He can leave you waiting longer for your food or, worse, spit in your food. So say Please and Thank You.

I actually had a boss tell me not to say Please because it is a sign of weakness. “Just state what they must do”, she would say. “It’s their job.” Well, no one liked her. And she couldn’t get anything done without invoking names of higher powers. How much easier would it have been to add a Please and a Thank You? You are not conceding your authority or position on an issue. You are acknowledging that we live in a civil society and that everyone has a right to choose.

Please and Thank You are three little words that convey respect and appreciation. What other words are as economical in building good will and lubricating the wheels of society?

So, please, say Please and Thank You.

Thank You.

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Sorry, Teacher

Mui came home on Friday with a note on her weekly progress report and a test scored 64% attached. Her teacher stated that Mui was not on task and asked that she check her work before turning it in. When I reviewed the test, there were some understandable errors, sowing, instead of sewing. But the glaring mistakes were due to carelessness, “He will fixed the car.” and not completing 2 problems at all. I was pissed. I asked her what she was doing during the test such that she could not finish her test AND check for errors? No answer.

This morning I gave her an assignment. She must write a note to apologize to her teacher. When asked if she understood why, she said “Because I did badly on the test?” Um. No. I explained to her that her teacher takes great pains and spends a lot of time preparing lessons so she and her classmates can learn. If she made the effort to learn and truly did not understand, that is ok. We can work on that. But NOT making an effort to learn or making a half-assed effort is unacceptable. Being careless on her tests and assignments (likely because she was projecting managing another kid’s test taking) is unacceptable. It shows disrespect to the teacher and takes her and her efforts for granted.

Taking things and people for granted is a huge sore spot for me. My children will never want for anything. And because of that, they can easily slip into being ungrateful and entitled. “It’s Mom’s job to cook for me.” “It’s my teacher’s job to teach me.” No thought is given to what their job is or what efforts they must make to maintain the social compact. Children, and a lot of adults for that matter, view their role in this world as takers, not receivers. You cannot take with grace. You cannot take and appreciate. You can only receive, because all things that matter are given. Like love, attention, family, friendship, trust, respect. And when things are given, you receive and you say thank you. And you make every effort to not squander what you are given.

So after homework today, before going to bed, Mui will write a note to her teacher. And hopefully, this will help her appreciate that she has a great teacher. And will help her remember to put in the effort to learn from her.

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I Did Something Right By Her

We moved to Fremont from Salt Lake City in July. Mui was torn between staying with her friends and moving closer to her cousins. I promised her she would make friends at her new school and in her new neighborhood.

Enter the Fremont Unified School District.

We chose the neighborhood for it’s great elementary school, Ardenwood. Well, so does everyone else. But there are not enough seats for every eligible kid, so many, of which Mui was one, are “overloaded” to neighboring schools. And they do this the 3rd week of school.

So poor Mui left behind her friends in Utah, starts making new ones at Ardenwood the first 2 weeks of school, and has to start all over again at a new-new school, Warwick, where everyone else already knows each other.

Today, when I walked Mui to her new class, at her new-new school, she would not let go of me. My brave, outgoing girl did not want to start a new school, did not want to restart her life all over again. I was shattered. I failed her. The teacher introduced herself and asked Mui to stand next to these 2 girls. And Mui runs to me, not to cling to me or even hug me, but to tell me she knew one of the girls from the YMCA day camp. She runs back to the girls and starts laughing with them. Mui had made friends within 30 seconds of starting a new school and doesn’t even notice my tearful goodbye.

I had enrolled her in the neighborhood YMCA day camp for the 5 weeks before school started. I was hoping she would meet kids from her school, but it didn’t seem like she did. After school today, she confirmed she knew the girl, but they were not friends. (Apparently, they were not friends at the day camp either.) However, she made a new friend that she would like to invite to her birthday party. Along with a girl she knows from Ardenwood who still takes the same schoolbus as her. And the daughter of the lady who takes care of Didi. And her cousins. And any kids of Mom’s friends Mom would like to invite. And that she would work on the rest of the list as she starts getting to know people.

I enrolled her in the YMCA Day camp that gave her the one familiar face she needed to start over again. So I did something right by her.

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Dutiful Daughter and Dutiful Wife

Family issues are awful. In-law issues are even worst.

I don’t get along with my in-laws. I think it’s because we have our respective positions and are unwilling to budge. My way of coping is to keep conversations superficial and to limit my contact with them. When we are thrown together into a situation (i.e. Holidays, Grandma visits). I don’t talk. I don’t comment. I am civil.

But it goes both ways. SO doesn’t get along with my parents. Fortunately, they don’t speak the same language. Or, unfortunately, as they just conjure stories in their heads more based on their feelings than objectivity.

I don’t know whether it makes sense to work things out with your in-laws for the sake of the people you love, your spouse, your children. Maybe it’s not even possible. All I know is that I was so looking forward to living closer to my family. But we have become so used to having our separate lives that I worry living closer will result in more in-law issues. It will be difficult to choose between being a dutiful daughter and a dutiful wife.

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Love My New Camera

Day at the Aquarium

Shot this with my new Pentax K-r (Thanks to @lskrocki for the tip!) with no flash at ISO 6400, f4, and 1/60.
I am AMAZED at the quality of pics. In fact this is not even the best representation as I had to reduce quality of the post pic due to file size.

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Dear Santa

One of the challenges of working from home is the morning routine. Get up, get dressed, get kids fed, get them out the door, and then…work. All this must be done by 8am each morning.

This morning, we were running late, really late. I had just set the kids in front of their breakfast when I had to start my 8am meeting. SO was still upstairs taking a shower. And since I was the host, I couldn’t “attend” on mute.

But Mui came to my rescue. She finished her breakfast, helped Didi with his, cleaned him off, got him down from his chair, gave him a cookie, brought him to the playroom, and distracted him while I conducted my meeting. He only wandered into my office once. But Mui immediately called him to the playroom again. Didi was having so much fun with his sister, that he refused to leave for school.

Mui has been such a huge help to me and such a great big sister this year. I hope you bring her what she asked for.

Thanks and Merry Christmas,

Pam

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R.I.P. Elizabeth, beloved pet and bearded dragon.

Ok. Now what do I tell Mui? On Sunday, I noticed Elizabeth was not doing too well. She was scrunched around the log with legs splayed. I thought for sure she was dead. But when I picked her up, she opened her mouth as if to say goodbye because she was dead within the hour. Mui doesn’t know. She saw me pick up the lizard. She saw her open her mouth. I told Mui Elizabeth was sick and that I would bring her to the vet the next day. I also suggested that we find Elizabeth a new home. One where she could be cared for the way she needed. (Bearded dragons are super fussy and have very specific needs to thrive.) Mui cried. But she agreed that it was best for Elizabeth.

The next morning, I got rid of Elizabeth and her tank. When Mui got home from school, she immediately asked where Elizabeth was. I told her at the vet and that the vet would find her a new home. She asked what happened to all of Elizabeth’s crap. (Her words not mine. Speaking of which, I really need to watch my language around the kids. But I digress.) I told her I left the stuff with the vet for Elizabeth’s new family.

I lied to my child. Because it will be easier for her. And because it will be easier for me. She knows our cat will die. He is old (14). And I am not looking forward to finding him when that day comes. But Elizabeth was less than 2 and she died from lack of proper care. How do you explain that to a child? Especially one who has already experienced the death of her best friend?

I consulted with other moms and even her pediatrician. (I happened to be there for Didi’s 18month exam). They all agreed it was the best way. She’s six. And even though she seems mature for her age and I don’t sugar coat reality for her (do well in school and go to college or you better perfect “Do you want fries with that?”). This reality is too grim. It’s like telling your child the truth, that the dog died because he accidentally hung himself (true story from two of the moms I know). It’s better to say they ran away and may have been hit by a car which is why he didn’t come home.

So Elizabeth is in a new home. With a loving family. One that will care for her the way she needs.

And we will miss her.

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