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Friday, March 21, 2008

I've found a way to receive compliments while pregnant

Wear black and monotone dress pants and blouses regularly prior to pregnancy. Then during pregnancy, suddenly switch to bright colored dresses. Compliments every day. Switch it up with a few Angelina Jolie black dresses occasionally and then back to brights.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Yes you can have my job

Last weekend, two of my favorite bloggers left the following comments on my blog:

Suburban Turmoil said...
I know travel sucks when you're pregnant, but please please please, can I have your job??? It sounds FANTASTIC!

Blogger Potty Mummy said...
Hi SB, just thought I'ld pop over after your visit and what do you know? We work (or in my case, worked), in similar fields. Reading about your trip really took me back to life pre-kids. Sounds like you're having a ball. And glad to hear that you too love the best city in the world! I love my children but (more than just) occassionally I miss that job...

I do get this comment a lot, and it always makes me pause and feel really thankful for my job. I work at a toy design and manufacturing company and I get to travel to Asia, LA and London regularly along with managing product development and great team of designers – it can be a lot of fun! Then Monday starts and the chaos begins. This week was no different; I walked into work to find my 2 senior creative guys spinning in their chairs stuck with how to proceed with a new line of dolls we are designing this month. Stuck on colors, story, style, you name it – stuck! I looked at my vast mountain of work and decided to drop everything and help them. One trip to Wal-Mart to check out competition to our idea, buy $100 of toys for reference, back to the office to solidify a few basics to get them started. Off to lunch, I stop at Jo Ann fabrics for $60 of fabrics to serve as further reference in material designs with swirly colors and different sparkle applications and they were finally set by 3. The next 5 hours were spent on email, charts and art packages.

Monday – Friday I worked 12 hour days every day! In broad strokes:
• I managed a team in the creation of a Harry Potter concept presentation that the client was vaguely unhappy with when I left on Friday and I can’t wait to get to work on Monday and find out how to appease on this one.
• I have procrastinated for several months on buying the new CS3 Illustrator and this month all art packages from our London client came in this program. I’m actually 2-3 weeks late in getting my art packages sent to Asia and this is bad because it delay’s their start on the samples which could potentially cause major stress to the production team later on. So I finally dropped everything and called Office Depot (upgrade not in stock), Best Buy (on hold for 20 minutes and finally hung up), Comp USA (confirmed they had it in stock but upon driving 20 minutes to Deerfield, found it not in stock and they asked who did I speak with because it’s not been in stock all day – grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) and finally Apple Store in Aventura mall which represents an hour drive from Comp USA. This day I stayed late to get 6 art packages out, the following day I sent 8.
• Quote project for factory that is increasing prices.
• Worked with guys on the doll project throughout the week and finalized presentation for Monday meeting with CEO.
• 2 weeks late in getting an art package out for a major Pooh promotion in the EU and after sending the entire art package to Asia and art to the client for confirmation, he changed his mind 2 times and Monday I get to start all the concepts over. Yeah!!!
• There was a frantic conference call on Wednesday between myself, Hong Kong GM and London client to clarify corrections for Halloween Pooh & Stitch with sound and movement. The goal of the conversation was to get approval on the sound so we can start the sound chip masking. I got the sound approved but by Friday failed to clarify in writing with the client that they were comfortable moving forward with sound chip masking and commitment to project even though quotes had not been finalized. Friday was the deadline, I’m hoping my Asia team will forgive my negligence and wait for Monday to resolve this.
• I can’t even remember what else I did but it involved a lot of email and updated charts.

I really feel like a ping pong ball when my week ends. So anyone still want my job?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Babymoon Weekend Trip to Sanibel Island

My anniversary is July 13; my baby is due July 21st. Hubs decided to take me for an early anniversary trip considering the obvious.
Vacation also came one week after marathon month of business trips and I was really ready for a break.

Day 1
We didn’t actually plan it too well. In fact, we didn’t start looking for a hotel until the morning of the 1st day of vacation. Hubs got bagels and post breakfast dropped puppy off at the dog sitters while I researched hotels at islands in South Florida (yes we vacation in the state we live in – it’s convenient which equals no airports/schedules and we don’t happen to “live” on the beach so anything on an island is novel).
Sanibel Island was selected because it had the following: Mimi’s restaurant in 15 mile zone (favorite restaurant in the world), beach access from hotel room, kayaking and heated pool (hey it might be FL but it’s 70F/21C during the day and 50F/10C at night).
We arrived to the area around 3:30pm and promptly went to Mimi’s for late lunch. I had a lovely seafood pasta and Hubs had a hamburger. Upon check-in we find our 1 bedroom hotel room has been upgraded to a 2 bed/2 bath with full kitchen suite that is like equal to the size of our condo. Had I known, I would have packed food – I rarely like hotel restaurants. We arrive to room and I promptly start reading Sophie Kinsella’s “Remember Me” (with cool dust cover from UK). In an hour its pitch black outside and we realize we are still too full from lunch to even consider dinner. It suddenly dawns on me that being on a very small island might equal nothing to do at night. Upon further discussion with concierge, we learn there is a local movie theater but it’s only playing old crappy movies and everyone just ends up at local pub which isn’t much fun while pregnant. We wandered around the resort and stopped for dessert, a game of shuffle board (I lost) and pin ball (I won!!!) before retiring to our room for an evening of Harry Potter for Hubs and Sophie’s book for me.

Day 2
Breakfast at hotel restaurant – not bad/not great as expected but while eating we saw DOLPHINS – yes dolphins hoping along the coast. I’m surprised I didn’t scream and run out of the restaurant. It was really so cool!!! After breakfast we changed and rented a tandem kayak to search for more dolphins – didn’t find any but managed to have a fairly compatible ride until Hubs started commenting on my unusual ability to paddle severely harder on the left then the right therefore causing him to counter correct. Once I corrected that small error, he had more advice which I’ve promptly forgotten. We somehow returned 2 hours later without killing each other and I was so tired I was happy to lay by the pooh reading more of Sophie’s book (I have this small problem with a high energy level and if I don’t exhaust myself, I find it hard to lay around and relax). By 2:30 we are ready for lunch and discover Chee Burger where they offer 20+ toppings for burgers and chicken sandwiches along with onion rings and fries. It’s a wonderful gooie mess of a sandwich with a Vanilla Coke to top it off (I only drank ½ - doctor said I can have small amounts of caffeine). In the same complex we find a small toy shop called Needful Things (it was not my idea to go in here, Hubs is a huge toy fan and really should have my job – I swear I’m not working on my vacation – not working!!!). I did however find a collection of Smurfs from Schleich and promptly bought 2 figs to decorate my desk along with The Cube – an office cubical friend named Ann with cubicle playset.
Evening was spent leaving the island for a trip to the mainland to dine at Mimi’s – I had no desire to experiment with other restaurants, why mess with a good thing followed by a viewing of “The Other Boylen Sister” at local theater. The book by Phillipa Gregory was amazing (I harbor a secret hunch that I might be related to the author because my mother’s maiden name is the same) but the movie – well I was a little disappointed, I thought the costumes would be more elaborate and the last hour was really rushed. It’s got to be very hard to bring such a detailed book into theater so I respect the effort.

Day 3 – I negotiated late check out of 1pm and we got up early, had breakfast in our room with muffins from Mimi’s  and tea and rushed down to the dock for one last killer kayak ride that should be early enough to encounter dolphins. This time we rented single kayak’s to avoid killing each other on our last day and cruised in the direction of the wind, really fast for a ½ hour (no dolphins) – I went in a very straight line and kept tossing satisfied “told you I knew what I was doing” looks at Hubs. We decided to be conservative with our energy levels and return after a ½ hour – it suddenly turned into a grueling trip as we kayaked against the wind. Yeah I noticed it was windy but I swear it got much stronger on the return trip and stronger and stronger as we got weaker and weaker. It took 1 ½ hours to return. Here’s the part where I tell you we are not extremely experienced kayakers – in fact we just started a year ago and this is likely our 5th trip but still I’m strong, I lift weights on a regular basis – this is not rocket science – it was really windy!
The rest of the day went really slow, we showered, checked out on time, went for a drive to the 2nd island that is so close it might as well be attached just to explore and check out future hotel options. Found the 2nd island to be more civilized with an actual Starbucks and really fancy grocery store. Around 2:30pm we made our last stop at Mimi’s – I do not apologize for my repetitive preference and I had another lovely pasta dish with 4 muffins to go (for future breakfasts). Pooh Hubs had to drive the 2 hour drive home while I disappeared into the end of Sophie’s book. I’m happy to say it was a very good read. Oh yeah and the vacation was definitely relaxing and fun – but I failed to realize how many folks might be concerned at my level of activity while pregnant – the list includes Hubs co-workers quoted as saying “she did WHAT?” and Hub’s mother lecture on how maybe I should take it easy and my boss’s confused look followed by “but your pregnant”. I think I broke a rule book somewhere but hey at least I wasn’t drinking martini’s and smoking cigars!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Baby started kicking 2 days ago

It's so cool, I was going to sleep when I felt a tiny blip, felt like the softest poof of air expanding outward. I immediately yelled for husband and he got to feel it too. Since then I've felt the kicks more often, just felt one now. It's so cool!

Pregnancy wouldn't be fun without several stressful business trips

February – my 4th month of pregnancy. I felt back to my old self, full of energy and thus announced to my boss that I felt up to traveling as needed. I was quickly lined up for 4 trips (one to Mexico got canceled).

Trip 1 - Drive to Orlando, boss was supposed to drive but got hang over from watching super bowl the night before - claimed he got chest pains - maybe it was a little both, ended up driving myself and co-worker on 3 hour drive. It should normally be an easy trip but was surprisingly tired in client meetings. Fortunately co-worker was the one to do all the talking.

Trip 2 - Fly to LA, meet with client, fly back next morning at 6am. We met up with LA based co-worker and she drove us to the meeting. She had a really bad cold and I cheerfully ignored this potential hazard. Meetings went well and we found our way through the LA airport at 5:00am the following morning with no problem (surprisingly full at this hour).

Trip 3 – New York/London Trip - scheduled 3 days after the LA trip. 2 days prior, I fell sick with the worst cold in my entire life, on Valentines Day (see below post).
Left for New York on the 17th with an extremely stuffy nose but at least the breathing had improved; spent the next 2 days walking around New York with a handbag full of tissues and Vicks. Toy Fair on Monday, visiting the shops in SoHo to find new toy ideas, non-stop nose blowing and eating Vicks, the weather was horribly cold and rainy – miserable. 2nd day was a meeting in morning where I had a massive nose bleed shortly before the meeting was to start and spent the entire breakfast in a paranoid terror that nose would betray me, meanwhile the pancakes were wonderful. Went to FAO Schwartz and was really disappointed in how the store has gone downhill in the last few years, it used to be such an exciting toy store. I really hated New York. Everyone I know loves this city but it’s enormous and cold – the streets are like 6 lanes, the buildings are enormous, and I was incredibly grumpy with my cold in the cold. Even left New York in the worst way possible, red eye flight to London leaving at mid-night. My bedtime is 10pm!!!

Got lucky on the flight; airline attendant blocked 2 seats next to mine and I got to sleep on 3 seats, granted it’s a challenge to find a comfortable position while pregnant but lying in a C shape seemed to work. Surprisingly I got to London at 11am and felt fantastic! I really love this city but I was still surprised at how energetic I felt after sleeping only 5-6 hours on the plane. Here’s the part where I explain the only reason I agreed to continue on the NY trip with miserable cold was to reach London – my favorite city in the world.

Met up with boss and his wife in afternoon and immediately stopped in cool café for cappuccino and tea (we do have real café’s in cold US city’s but in Florida, only Starbucks). Went shopping on Oxford Street at The Disney Store (of course to view our products), a gift card store (love the Mother’s day bear cards) and oddly Nike – boss felt the designs might be inspiring. Surprisingly, Nike has totally different clothing lines then US and the styles are much more interesting and exciting – more colors and designs, US tends to rely on lots of whites which is reason I’ve never seen Nike more then a shoe store. It was a really fun store. Went to eat at Thai restaurant.

2nd day – didn’t have meeting schedule until noon, so was left to own devices for morning. 1st priority – find bookstore. I love buying books in London because all my favorite author’s have totally better dust covers in UK then in US. Take for example Sofia Kinsella’s “Remember Me” – US version is giant sunflower, UK version cute lilac car covered in sunflowers. I promptly purchased the following:
Sophia Kinsella’s “Remember Me” – bonus points, bought few days before it came out in the US
Louise Bagshawe’s “Sparkles”
Zina Rohan’s “The Officer’s Daughter”
Wendy’s Holden’s “Filthy Rich”

Following the book store visit I joined boss for meeting with clients and a visit to Hamley’s (much better toy store then FAO Schwartz). Evening dinner was at an amazing Tuscan restaurant near our hotel.

Last day was spent with the Disney Store and I suffered with my damn stuffy nose the entire day. Morning meetings are the worst, after an hour I’m just holding my breath and trying not to choke on a drizzle of snot and make any disturbing sniffles, etc. Afternoon meetings got better as I made an hourly dash to the bathroom to clear nose. Evening was spent at Wodka with the head buyer and it was a lot of fun.

Saturday I took a 10am flight back to the US and finally after all above flights combined, had nice seat passenger who offered to help with my overhead bag – cheers London man, you are so sweet!

Spent all day Sunday sleeping, resting, eating and relaxing.

Not planning to business travel again for remainder of pregnancy.

Valentine’s Day ‘08

I started the day with a dentist appointment I'd been avoiding for several months. As a pregnant woman, I've been told to NOT AVOID THE DENTIST so I finally braved my fears and went. To be honest, I was in LA the day before and missed the follow up call confirming the appointment and had I received the call, I would have definitely canceled it. I'm no superwomen in this category.

Surprisingly, the appointment was fine. The new dental hygienist was incredibly kind and patient and she was very careful to apply the gum numbing paste, keep my mouth rinsed and didn't spray junk all over my face and give me a pair of goggles to wear (all previous experiences with Olga).

On my way to work, I stopped at Panera to get my favorite lunch, continued to work and had lunch before starting work. Around 1:30, I started sneezing and getting a clogged nose. I thought no big deal; pregnancy brings a daily sneeze and a bit of a clogged nose.

By 2:30, it got worse and people were telling me to go home and rest. So I left by 3:30 with a mild cold, came home and finished working by 7 while husband played a compilation of love songs in the background and made dinner. I had tea and dove bars before dinner and felt tired with a runny nose but not too bad. I went to bed to rest my eyes while hubs finished dinner. Got up, and progressively through dinner felt my nostrils close down. After dinner, I asked hubs to run to the store and get doctor approved Tylenol cold medicine because I cannot sleep with a completely clogged nose.

We watched Romancing the Stone and it's a really fun movie but during it my nose continued to clog until I could only breath out of my mouth and drinking any water made me feel like I was underwater with my mouth open. It caused me to dry heave, breath heavily and blow my nose non-stop until I looked ready to pass out. Needless to say the medicine did nothing! Halls did nothing. Usually one of these items works to open the clogged passage. Does pregnancy counter the affects of drugs?

Since I could not take any more medicine without consulting a doctor, hubs ransacked the home to find our trusty "Foods that harm, foods that heal" book and found the following remedy:

* Steam a pot of water to boiling, place face over steaming water with towel over head basically replicating a sauna or humidifier. This actually worked to clear enough space so I could drink water without feeling like I was drowning.

From my mom:

* Mom's cure for a cold is crushed garlic, lime juice and honey. I tried this after the nasal passages opened and surprisingly tasted nothing and was able to get it down.

From Make magazine:

* Rub Vicks vapor rub on the feet and cover with heavy socks.

By this time it was midnight and I was exhausted but with enough breathing ability to go to bed. I slept the entire night with bi-hourly bathroom breaks and felt marginally better by morning but not nearly as horrified and miserable as the night before.

From my humble perspective, my husband gave me the most romantic Valentines Day by doing every thing he could think of to reduce my suffering. Thanks hubs, for being this girl's hero.