Friday, March 31, 2006

I'm back

Well I'm back to posting. I hadn't been feeling well the past few days, which culminated in me spending yesterday morning in bed. I'll spare everyone the details.

Alex arrived on Saturday. Rene picked him up in Atlanta. Alex is so grown up! 18! Erin was very excited to have Alex here. She wanted to show him to her friends, bring him to school, and of course, have him push her on the swings. Alex has been a good sport with all of this. Lauren has not warmed up as much. I think she's a little jealous of Daddy spending time with someone else.

Alex and Rene tried out the kayak, and found out how hard it is to go upstream on the canal! We went to Columbia on Sunday and had lunch. The plan was I'd take the girls to Edventure and Rene and Alex would go to the history museum next door. Unfortunately, the history museum was closed that day. Also, the big lake fishing trip was cancelled due to rain. But we did make a trip to the lake and had a nice little walk along the shore. Beautiful! Rene and Alex also took in a movie.

On Wednesday, when the girls were in school, we checked out the brand new library that opened this week. We're so happy to have a wonderful library near us! Brand new huge facility, with 60 computers with flat screen moniters, a coffee shop/ cafe, a playground outside, and an outdoor ampitheater for concerts and performances. They did a great job! I think we'll resume our weekly library nights that we did in California. Oh, and we got to see our the artwork of our neighbor Frances displayed in the library as well.

Since I was not feeling well yesterday, Rene had to make Erin's lunch, take her to school, and watch Lauren. Luckily, Alex researched on his own that he could go to the YMCA using his card from Calgary. He played basketball there for 3 hours. Alex also has ridden Rene's bike to downtown Augusta following the trail between the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal. Rene got Alex a small digital camera, and Alex has taken lots of pictures of his trip here.

In Erin news, I attended a kindergarten meeting for parents. I got to tour the classrooms and the principal gave a talk. The school looks wonderful, but it is so big! There will likely be 7 kindergarten classes. Each class has 18-20 kids with 1 teacher and 1 para professional. I got to read some of the children's journals. They're journalling in kindergarten! Very cute, and impressive too. I'm glad the school is so close. I also know a few other kids who will be attending. I saw 3 other moms I know from Mom's club, one from dance class, and one from Erin's preschool. Also, Erin's big ballet performances are today! We had a short spacing rehearsal on Monday evening, and then a full dress rehearsal on Wednesday. I had to volunteer as a dressing room mom. Quite chaotic! Erin did fine. They had lots of toys and activities for the cherubs, fireflies and ponies. That kept Erin quite occupied. I was trying to put the costume on the littlest cherub, who decided she did not want to be a cherub. She wanted to be a pony. There was no way she was going to put her cherub costume on. Finally I called her mom. Her mom got the costume on, and left, and later, the littlest cherub was hiding under a table, costume off again. Finally we got Miss Kathleen, the teacher who would be performing with them to come and talk her into it. They did well, but boy those cherubs were tired! We got home at 8:15. Tonight we'll probably get home after 9. Erin has a performance today in the morning for area school kids. Then a public performance tonight. Daddy gets to go in the morning, and mommy gets to go tonight.

And tomorrow, the Georgia Aquarium and Alex and Rene see the Atlanta Thrashers hockey game. We'll meet my friends Kara, Walt and their children Samantha and Sean for lunch and then all go to the aquarium. Then early Sunday morning, we take Alex to the airport in Atlanta. It's been good to see him.

OK, off to start our busy day!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lack of postings

Bloggerjeanne has been very busy and under the weather. Sorry for lack of postings!

Friday, March 24, 2006


Soon Rene will be rolling on the river in his new deluxe kayak! I'm told he should start out with the Augusta Canal before he tackles the Savannah River. Alex arrives tomorrow, so he'll be taking the inaugural launch. Hey, I wonder if I get to christen the boat? I'd better get a bottle of champagne and think of a good name for the boat. Chartreuse? Lullabelle? Hmmm, this on top of trying to think of a puppy name. ETA for when we'll get a puppy: 2 weeks. Yikes! Where's that champagne?

I registered Erin for kindergarten today, which was a painless process except that they'll be taking my baby away from me 8:30-3:30 starting August 4th! August 4th! What happened to summers off?

Next week will be busy. Alex is here, rehearsals and the big show, soccer practice, kindergarten meeting. And we'll be off to Atlanta to see the new Georgia aquarium. We'll return to the Augusta Masters madness. "Do not go to a restaurant during Masters week," I'm told. We'll batten down the hatches and hole up in the house, I guess!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The birthday update

First bit of information to report is that Lauren does not like to have "Happy Birthday" sung to her. She made that quite clear.

We celebrated her birthday on Saturday with some of the neighborhood kids with cake on the back deck and a little playing in the back yard. It was simple, but a nice celebration. Weeks before Lauren's birthday, Erin had chosen the perfect gift for Lauren. She decided Lauren would like the Dora suitcase she'd had for a few years. She found the wrapping paper (Christmas paper, actually), tape and scissors and wrapped it herself. She was very excited to give the gift to her little sister. It was very sweet.

Erin had been playing with the kids across the street a lot, but hadn't really spent much time with Alan down the street, age 6, or his brother Zach. On Saturday and Sunday they spent a lot of time playing together, which was nice. You can always tell which house the kids are at, as there are a pile of bicycles in front of the house.

We've been trying to reduce the amount of time Lauren spends with her "binky" (pacifier), and she did so well that on Saturday night she fell asleep without a binky! She did wake up at 3, and got one then, but that was quite an accomplishment. On Sunday, we did a good job of distracting her every time she asked for a binky. Finally, after her bath, when Rene was reading her books, she kept asking for her binky. Rene said, "I don't know where mommy put it." Lauren said quickly and clearly, "kitchen counter"! She was obviously motivated to expand her vocabulary. Again we successfully distracted her. When I was changing her diaper and getting ready to put her to bed, she said, "Wait! Where binky go?" I told her she could have her binky when she went in her crib. Which seemed to make her happy. That did not prevent her from having a very bad night of sleeping. Mommy and Daddy are tired today.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy birthday Lauren!

You're two years old today. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The heat is on

We had mid 80's temperatures and humidity this weekend, so I'm getting a taste of what is to come here in Augusta. It was nice to be outside in the warm weather. We tackled the vegetable garden. Rene bought a cheap rototiller. What a great invention! To think, I was pulling weeds! The rototiller and weed cloth have become my new friends. We cleaned up 3 or 4 of the beds. Erin helped me plant tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, basil, dill, rosemary and cilantro. We still need to get watermelon, pumpkin and carrots. Most of the other beds will be covered in weed cloth and pine straw, but at least it will be neater than it is now.

Another outdoorsy thing Rene did was to assemble the white adirondack chairs I had purchased for the front and back patios. I even sat in one on the front patio and read a book for a while on Saturday.

Why it was so warm out on Saturday that the neighbors had the sprinklers on for the kids to run through!

Today is Lauren's last day as a one year old! She has gotten into the spirit of being a two year old by refusing to do many things, including taking baths, getting diaper changes, eating dinner. "NO" is her first response to most questions. We love her anyway. :)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Our angel

Actually, our cherub. Erin will be a cherub in the Ron Jones Dance Academy performance of The Roar of Love, based on The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Here is her photo in her costume. Note: Click on the photo to see a bigger version. You can then hit the back button on your browser to return to the blog.

Software career and forced rankings

As I spend time on this blog and using my computer, I think:

This is something you enjoy. Maybe you could make some money at this. Work with computers. Software. Perhaps train people to use software or work in some way to make the software better, more usable. Yes! That's it! I could work for a software company. And I'm good with people, so maybe I could be a manager. Help others to do their job well.

Uh, been, there, done that. For all the fun parts of the job (mostly the interacting with people part), corporate life can really suck the soul out of you. When my uncle was visiting, Rene and I talked to him about our careers working with software. We both agreed that in the older days (10-15 years ago), what made the job so much more interesting was the creativity involved. Perhaps it was a brave new world, perhaps it was the lack of software productivity tools available, but there was just a lot more creativity involved in those days. We worked longer hours, but there were problems that needed to be solved and we worked as teams to solve them. Then management philosophies took over. Implemented procedures, forced rankings, came up with plans to justify their existence. In some situations, a little control was probably necessary. In most areas that I saw, however, the creativity died. So it just became a job. And after a while it got boring.

The forced rankings were unproductive, motivation killers, and frankly just a management power play. You're a good manager, working with a good team. Maybe you had a low performer, so you steered them to another position, or they left, or you put them on a performance plan and they made it through or they didn't. Then annual review time rolls around. You must force rank your team, and someone has to be at the bottom. And, as part of a larger group, you have to rank your team with other folks who may or may not have comparable jobs.

If you've been doing your job as a manager, you took care of the issues as they occurred. If you've been doing your job as a manager, you've helped everyone to do a better job, contribute more. If you've been doing your job as a manager, you've made everyone feel good about contributing, even if that included working late or on some not so fun tasks. But with forced rankings, you've got to tell someone that they're at the bottom (even if it's not true). With forced rankings, maybe you "hold on" to a "problem child" until review time, so you can put them at the bottom, thereby keeping dead weight around. With forced rankings, good people, maybe not stellar people, leave. Good managers, who are great at managing teams, leave. People start to play the numbers game. I did x number of this, that, instead of coming up with creative solutions. If you're a good manager you let everyone know on a regular basis what they're doing well, what they need to improve on and if there's a problem you deal with it. You be honest, direct, and you do what's best for the person, team, and company. Not all managers did this, so I guess that's where forced rankings came in. Oh, and by the way, if you're a manager, talk to your employees once in a while. It helps you as a manager and it helps employees. And it's just common sense.

Today and tomorrow Erin is off from school for parent teacher conferences. Rene will be meeting with Erin's teacher this morning. Rene jokingly said this morning that we may have to force rank our children. (Which is what got me started on this topic). "I'm sorry, Erin. You write the number "9" backwards. We're going to have to let you go."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Soccer and self-imposed timeouts

Last night was Erin's first soccer practice. In the car on the way there, she asked me to remind her of the soccer rules I told her. No hands, only use your feet, and listen to the coach. As soon as we got there she grabbed one of the balls and started kicking it around the field. She was ready to go! There were six teams of 6 kids each practicing. On Friday evenings, the teams will play each other. Erin did really well. She needs to work on running backwards and sideways, and moving the ball through the cones.

The other thing that Erin did during soccer practice was to indicate how her parents were embarrassing her by giving us the hand (as in "talk to the hand") when I introduced myself to the coach or cheered her when she kicked the ball well. Four years old and already she's embarrassed by her parents.

Lauren has started giving herself "timeouts" whenever I reprimand her or even tell her to stop doing something. For example, she had been gently kicking me (not consciously), and I told her she needed to stop because it was hurting me. She said, "Sorry, sorry mommy." She climbed off the couch, put her head down, walked to the front room (office), climbed on that couch, and started to cry. She does this all the time now and sits there until I get her. Not even two years old, and she's got guilt!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Hilton Head photos

Lauren HH 2006
Originally uploaded by bloggerjeanne.
testing this out!

I guess you can click on the photo and then find the link to the slide show. There should be one picture each, for me, Rene, Erin and Lauren. Will see how I can improve upon this process. See posting below for details of trip.

Hilton Head Weekend

We did it! Got away for the weekend. Hilton Head was very nice, very upscale. We did the lower end accomodations but still had a great two days away. It was nice to go to the beach again! It's only about 2 1/2 hours away, so we'll likely be going back.

It was chilly but sunny, so no swimming this time, but we did spend a lot of time on the beach flying our princess kite, digging in the sand, chasing the seagulls and petting the many doggies on the beach. We stayed at the Holiday Inn which was right on the beach. It was cheap, they had a nice pool, and the best part was they had a little playground right off the beach. Lauren's favorite thing to do is to be pushed in a swing, so we spent some time there too. The Holiday Inn is within walking distance to restaurants, shops and the Piggly Wiggly. I bought some Piggly Wiggly water bottles to commemorate the visit.

We ate at the Salty Dog Cafe. The legend of the "salty dog" is that there was a dog name Jake who rescued his owner by pulling the owner in the water to shore. Since we have a dog named Jake we had to go! We also got our Salty Dog shirts and Rene got a baseball cap.

Our trip to HH was memorable too. We drove through Switzerland, which we thought was a little out of the way, but we made it there fine. We also drove through Allendale County which is home of the annual Cooterfest. We also stopped at a McDonalds along the way that had to be the slowest one around, and did not live up to the "fast food" label. By the way, McDonalds has good apple slices for future reference.

Our friends Barbie and Andy and boys Drew and Riley will be vacationing in HH in July, so we may visit them there for a few days then.

The only disappointing part to the trip was that the beach trip did nothing to relieve my allergies which kicked in full force last week. May have to visit a doctor and get some prescription medication as the Clariton doesn't seem to be helping.

Looks like the weather will be warm here this week. Soccer starts tomorrow, hooray! Erin's team is named Blitz, and the team color is, appropriately, California Blue. Go Blitz!

Friday, March 03, 2006

We're going to Hilton Head

Since the forecast was NO RAIN this weekend, we decided to take advantage of it and check out Hilton Head. We're looking forward to walking on the beach and just seeing the sights in Hilton Head. In order to leave Jake at the kennel (aka "doggy camp"), I had to drop him by yesterday for a "temperment test" (aka "school entrance test") to see how he interacted with the other dogs as they have a general play area for them. I'm happy to say Jake passed with flying colors!

The past two days here were quite warm, in the 70's! I fear the time between cold and hot and steamy will be short, so we'll enjoy it while we can. Yesterday at dance class I got all the details for the upcoming Roar of Love show (based on the Narnia story The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. There are practices, dress rehearsals, performances for area schools and for the general public. All this for Erin's few minutes on stage. Oh well, the price of fame. The show will be at Augusta's Bell Auditorium, which is where we saw Barney, so you know it can't be too shabby!

Next week soccer starts for Erin, so March will be a busy month for us. And of course we have Lauren's 2nd birthday in less than two weeks! After meeting just about every window salesman in Augusta, we finally ordered some windows, so they should be coming in a month too.

I'll post a Hilton Head report when we return.