The amount of rain this spring is putting a damper on my birthday plans for Josh's party this weekend. My original plan was to have the playset outside sanded down and cleaned up for Josh and his friends to play on. But since it's rained every single day since we got here (and days before), I can't do any work on it. I can't even put sand on the bottom for a sand box, which is my gift to him. Soooo, I think instead I'll migrate the party to the neighborhood swimming pool- assuming weather cooperates.

I'm starting to gain weight. I started out at 122 lbs. as my morning weight. Now I'm at about 130 lbs. in the morning. I'm just barely beginning to feel movement, especially when I lay down at rest. I've been having leg cramps at night, usually 3-5 times, so I've started taking magnesium and calcium supplements. My appetite has increased along with my waist. I think I'm at the best part of a pregnancy. I have energy and I'm past the sickness.

Rain rain rain. Everyday there's rain. I'm waiting for weather to clear so I can stroll Joshua around the neighborhood and let him play outside.

We're still unpacking. We also found a few things to upgrade on the house, like adding light dimmers and a new shower head in our bathroom. Lots to do still.

Whew! Moving is hard work. We're 98% moved. Dorothy helped me clean up the other house this morning and now Rusty and his dad are moving the last of the left over stuff- garage items and cleaning supplies mostly. We're all tired and the new house is so new to me it doesn't yet feel like home. Perhaps when we are more unpacked and a routine sets in, it will.


In no particular order...

Vacations are never long enough. We left Vancouver early Sunday morning even though we only had about 3 hours of sleep. The flight was uneventful but the security check was brutal. We got searched twice and I ended up losing my Swiss Army card. You'll notice I left US borders with it but got stopped by the Canadians. It tells me the US security is still lacking despite all the rules and waiting.

Matt & Oana's wedding was- interesting. They had crowns, four foot long candles, played ring around the alter, the paparazzi showed up from within those attending, and the service went in and out of Romanian and English. There was never a dull moment. According to the priest, Oana is supposed to have lots of babies now. We didn’t have any magicians or performing bears or jugglers, but it was entertaining enough.

A small group of us made our way by foot and train from the church to downtown Vancouver. The idea was to take a train then hop on a bus to get to the pier. The bus never showed up. After we waited like 30 minutes, we gave up and hailed two cabs. A round of drinks then we boarded the cruise ship. I must say, there is nothing quite as memorable as a reception on a cruise ship. We circled the bay, went around what I think was Stanley Park, twice. There was dancing, cake, drinking, stories, just an all around great time! And no one was able to sneak away early.

After the reception most of us (Rob, Weyandt, Peck, Steve Bergman, Lee & Barb, Kelley, Inger, Rusty & I and Spencer & Laura- Matt's brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law) hung out at the bar at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Well, we didn't go straight there. We got directions from Matt as he was leaving with Oana which got us miserably lost. We walked in circles, whined, bitched about the cold until Lee, Barb & Weyandt found was wandering the streets looking for some place called The Mill- which turned out to closed. The stupid things we do for a drink! By the time we FINALLY got to the bar, we were beyond exhausted.

Highlights from the trip:
* Sleeping through the night, minus the few times I woke up from leg cramps
* Eating tasty, cheap sushi with two Matts, Steve and Rusty for lunch on Thursday
* Hearing Weyandt belt out "I'm so ronery" after hearing Rusty was alone looking for everyone
* Being harassed by the waitress at the Elbow Room
* Translating the sung response in the wedding ceremony from "ameen" to "rock on"
* Cajoling with friends at every opportunity
* Having the freedom to get around on my own schedule and not my son's :-)

Don't get me wrong- I was very happy to see Josh again Sunday afternoon. But I didn't worry about him for a minute and enjoyed the break like it was the last. I believe it made me a better mom today. I was eager to play with him and patient when he was crabby.

Lastly, there are pictures being thrown up on Flickr. Some are ones I took, some not. I have more to upload but not tonight.

Vancouver is cool. Literally. Our cozy room doesn't have an A/C vent so we popped open the window last night which chilled us nicely. We're staying in an older hotel, a bed and breakfast really, that's in an older building. It's sort of 30's style. It's not swank like the hotels some of our friends are staying in, like the Sutton Place Hotel and Pan Pacific, but we're not bleeding our wallets and have everything we need.

To our surprise, three friends were on the same flight as us yesterday: Rob, Matt Peck & Steve Bergman. Rob is awesome. After we landed in BC we stood around wondering how to get to our hotels (share a taxi, shuttle?) then Rob says "Let's take a limo". It made sense. The cost split between us was reasonable and we have a direct drive to where we needed to go (unlike a shuttle with other people). We all checked in to our rooms then headed out for a late dinner near Peck & Bergan's hotel. I couldn't have asked for a better start to a vacation.

Today we're helping Matt drop off gifts around town, trying on Rusty's tux and eventually ending up at a pub near the waterfront. Tomorrow Rusty's getting his haircut and I think I'll take that time to get a pedicure or some sort of pampering. Saturday I want my hair done up nicely for the wedding. The shirt I picked out to wear has beads so my hair must be up or it will get tangled in it.

I miss Josh only a little at this point. I have to admit, sleeping 7 hours through the night felt damn good! :) And being able to hop around the corner to grab a toiletries without the hassle of strollering, diapering, fussing, and parenting was great. I miss the little guy but I am enjoying this trip as myself, the pre-mom Sarah with no responsibilities but her own. And Newby 2.

It's a neat feeling to wake up in one country then go to sleep in another. (I say that like it's common for me!) We leave for Vancouver, BC this afternoon. We're 90% packed, the house is mostly clean, the child is at school with a duffel bag packed for his weekend with the grandparents, and travel plans are all confirmed. For once, I get to relax before traveling instead of scrambling to do everything at the last minute. Ask Rusty- he'll tell you I'm usually a total basket-case before trips. Not this time!!

I'm chowing down on a cup of ice-cream. Monday was rough for me. I'm not sure if I had a 24 hour stomach virus or ate something bad but most of Monday and half of yesterday I couldn't keep anything down, felt nauseous, I was weak and tired. Finally yesterday around 4:30p hunger overcame my unsettled stomach so I scarfed down fried chicken for dinner. I was worried the grease might set bad but I had a craving for fried chicken that I just could not ignore. Yum! I felt better and now I'm on a mission to make up the calories I didn't eat Monday and Tuesday. I'll need to eat well on vacation to compensate for all the walking and activity I expect to do.

Josh went back to the pediatric pulmonologist yesterday. He's better but still needs inhalers twice a day. The goal is to have him sleeping better at night (not waking up coughing) and to reduce the coughing at play and when drinking. Once his coughing and breathing is under control we can back off of the inhalers and use them on an as needed basis. I truly hope he outgrows this. Time will tell.

Matt's wedding is in one week. I am beyond excited about going to Vancouver, BC to see him get married and to have a little fun. And sleep all the way through the night. And not change diapers for a few days. And not cook or clean. And be around friends I don't see enough of these days. I am STOKED! I need to invest a few hours in prepping Anne & Russ for taking Josh during that weekend. They need to know his eating preferences (it's unpredictable), his wake/sleep routine, what works, what doesn't, etc. I'll have a bag packed with instructions by Wednesday when Josh goes to school.

I got my mom the coolest Mother's Day gift my mom could ever imagine. I got her a lawnmower! But wait- it was painted on top as a lady bug using black spray paint, coils for antennas and jeweled eyes. On the bottom I painted flowers and grass. Better yet- it's an electric start and self-propelled mower. I got to thinking about my mom's health (back problems, arthritis, etc.) and decided the extra bucks in an electric start was the way to go. Now she doesn't have to wait for the neighborhood kid to come by and she can get rid of her broken mower. She LOVED her gift.

The same day UPS delivered my mom's mower, I was getting my hair touched up. I wanted to get the roots redone on the blue streak of hair. I decided to try a place in the mall from a friend's recommendation. The color came out so indigo-blue it looked black that first day. I washed it twice that night and about twice each day since. It's still waaaaaay too dark blue. And the blue stuff stained my scalp in front and turns my fingers blue when I wash it. It's just an awful product they used, which was Paul Mitchell's Ink Works. I complained to the salon and they told me to wait a week before they would work on fixing it swearing to me it would "wash out to a brilliant blue" in a week. I told the lady a week was too long. I also talked to my normal salon guy, Richard Flores, who agreed to see me on Sunday to help fix the problem. He looked at it the next day and agreed it looked all wrong. From now on, no more surprises. I'll go to Richard instead of chancing another screw up.

My midwife appointment on Friday went well despite having Josh with me. I know this sounds tacky but the kid is VERY active! I was worried I wouldn't be able to relax or focus on the appointment with him getting into everything. And he did get into everything. But Dinah was so good with him and patient with him despite his destructive 2-year old self. We heard the heartbeat loud and clear this time. Everything is normal and healthy so far. Just the way I like it!


Here's the last of the lay-off saga. I sent Dan my hours and activities for my last week of work and requested full payment within 30 days. His response:

Hi Sarah,

This looks fine. There are a couple of requests or considerations I would like to ask of you though:

Could you please reduce several of the hours for the time spent on addressing the errors in punctuation, spelling and such? It seems a bit much for us to proof the work and have to pay for it also.

As well, could I also ask that I spread the total due to you over the next two months? I will be able to give you half at the end of this month and the remainder at the end of June if that is ok?

We loved the work you did and appreciate your help. I am not easy to work for on these things and you did wonderfully - but I hope I did not raise your stress level too high!

Thanks again,


To which I replied:
Dan,

I will not change the hours for this last week. I did spend more time proofing than what I recorded in the hours that you are not being billed for catching several errors beyond the few items that Jeremy communicated to me. Proofing is part of the process of building a website. I will accept half of the wages due at the end of May and the remainder at the end of June if this is easier for you.

You did not raise my stress level working with you until Monday, April 30th when you essentially stabbed me in the front. Rather than trying to work through our problem as I would expect from a manager, you opted to cease our working relationship altogether. I did not have the chance to complete all of the objectives we both wanted to accomplish from the start despite the nearly "year's worth of work to be done", as you put it in January. I feel you did not budget properly when you hired me either in your expectations of how much I was to be paid per hour nor in the amount of time we estimated I would work (as laid out in an email to you on Jan. 30th), resulting in delayed payment of my wages and a premature end to working with you. I have learned several lessons from this encounter that I never wish to repeat. I do not feel on good terms with you and wish to simply be paid and move on with my time and energy.


To which he replied:
Sarah,

Your feedback is good and important to hear. You are right in that I did not budget mainly because the revenue side is difficult to project and we hit several obstacles that decreased our expected revenue greatly.

In part, I don't think I asked or conveyed the the right amount of information to you. That probably added to the issue. You feeling 'stabbed' is not something I desired to occur, but I did want you to know of my concerns with where things were. Estimates were estimates and that is why they are called such - that I understand. Frankly, we needed to end quickly so I did not keep the meter running with you. It wasn't a matter of budgeting, but of revenue short fall. I couldn't guide you and produce at the same time - as well as train Jeremy. So my efforts were split too thin.

So to put it out on the table so you get it from my standpoint, I have yet to be PROFITABLE in the last 4 months. So your time was important to us, but I needed to be able to pay for it too.

Hope that makes sense and gives you an idea of why things are what they are.


I didn't reply to this last email despite a strong urge to do so. Nothing kind or productive would have come of it. What ticks me off is that rather than own up to not having enough funds to pay for me, he preferred to blame me for something as a reason to get me off his payroll. He questioned my integrity in front of another worker instead of being up front and honest. It was fun while it lasted but I'm glad to be moving on now knowing his true colors.

Lessons I've learned- or relearned- after a week of reflection as a former consultant:

** Put it in writing. Everything. Emails count as "in writing" in this digital age.
** Clearly communicate your overall objectives (the forest) as well as the progress of projects (the trees) periodically. I communicated my overall objectives in writing in the beginning one time. I should have reiterate those objectives every so often.
** Don't work with friends or associates unless you are comfortable with the possibility of losing that relationship. Shit happens in business and when feelings get hurt, toes get stepped on and people get personal, there's always a chance of burning a bridge or tarnishing a relationship.
** Demand pay on a regular basis, even if it's inconvenient to the employer. It's not your problem they don't have the cash to pay you, but it will be your problem when they don't pay you.
** Never call a meeting unless you have information on your side and never ask a question you don't have the answer for. I learned this from lawyers and it's good business sense.
** Work loudly. If you're at home, off-site or buried in a cube farm, communicate frequently so that people (managers, co-workers) see you're busy.

Rusty and I are talking about drumming up business from other clients of his now that we have a completed website we're proud to show off. While I regret the circumstances of this last job, I am proud of the results of my work.

The downtime will be a mixed blessing. There are things I want to do and need to do that require my attention and time (such as planning Josh's birthday party and preparing to move our house) that I might have otherwise shoved aside or hurried through as a chore. Other things I can do now is: 1. find another part-time gig for a few months, 2. do the crafty fartsy things that will save us money later on (such as curtains for the new baby's room and homemade gifts for the holidays), 3. learn a new skill (photography classes might be fun or piano lessons), 4. volunteer in the community, or 5. do all those little inane things I always find an excuse to not do, like organize my sock drawer.

But secretly I was hoping to keep busy and make some extra cash on the side. I want to keep Josh in school since I know he's learning new things everyday and needs the socialization. We're trying to budget the cost of keeping him in daycare without my income to make it work comfortably for us.

I find myself with more time thanks to basically being laid off. What started as a misunderstanding escalated into a tangle of accusations. Here's the skinny:

- I sent my hours & activities to Dan
- The next morning at 7:32am he fires back with questions about how much I'm billing per hour and overall cost of building his website (which Rusty & I have been working on since March 4th)
- I answer his questions (mostly corrections to what he thought he owed) and provide some insight into the remaining time for completion. In my mind, this case is closed.
- I drop by his office around 11:30am to review business card design. Already I sense a cold shoulder* but I ignore it. He has me wait for his partner Jeremy to show up.

Then the impromptu barrage of accusations and questioning.

He believes it shouldn't have taken so long to locate images to use on his website. I combed istockphoto.com to find almost all of the pictures to use. I spent time evaluating what each picture communicates about a concept. For a page of financial calculators, do I go with a white couple in front of their new house or a Hispanic couple in the midst of building a new home? For estate planning, old people on a park bench or man sitting alone at the beach? A retired couple talking or dancing? I also take time to replace a logo on the collar of a man in one picture with Dan's. I lighten images where needed, crop where needed, resize where needed and even search on Flickr for alternatives that don't cost anything more than permission to use. This all takes time that I dutifully recorded. Dan wanted me to find pictures online (essentially steal from others) and just use whatever. I had the better idea to make it all legal, look professional and reach his broad range of clients. He was not happy with the amount of time I spent on images, despite my attempt to explain where the time was spent. It breaks down that I spent 23 hours locating and refining pictures (20 in all throughout the website), or one work week. That pales to the 100+ hours spent on content and overall design.

He got stuck on the idea that all the work I've been doing for him since January is for his website. I pointed out that actually he hired me on to tackle a number of things he needed such as newsletters, brochures, business cards, letterhead, revamped forms, and general buzz to attract more business, of which I completed most of these objectives. Now that we are less than a week from making the website "live" with all the basics, he's looking at what that's cost him. Honestly, it's cost him just over $3000 as of last week and completed in just over a month's time. That's a steal. Most firms charge $7-9000 for the number of pages, quality and functionality he wants. I repeatedly stood up to the notion that I have been working on so much more than just this website. But to no avail.

He wasn't happy that the website wasn't done yet. I reminded him that the original deadline was by June- which looks to be a full 3 weeks ahead of schedule. He wasn't happy with not knowing exactly where my time went. (I work from home and don't have a camera watching my every move, and I swear I was honest with my time, but he doesn't see it.) In one breath he doesn't care about what's on his website because "no one goes there anyway". In the next breath he complains that a basic website is what he had to start with and why doesn't he see the extras we planned out? (because that's what takes the time that he doesn't want to pay for anymore) argh!

We went in circles for a bit. One moment he says he doesn't want to continue using me for anything beyond the website. The next moment he says we wants a group picture but I'll have to stand in back because I'm so tall. He's not good at communicating. In fact, he's not good at management or budgeting either. He saw something he didn't like and rather than working through it, he open the door and essentially boots me. He hired me on for "at least a year's worth of work" only to grumble that he can't afford me after three months of part-time work.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot the wages. He owes me over $3000 in wages. I haven't set a deadline for payments received because that was the arrangement we agreed to in the beginning. I agreed to take payment when he could afford it. So really he hasn't paid but for HALF of his website so far. He has no idea what a deal he's really getting for everything. Nor what a deal he's losing by me leaving.

In my mind he's burned a bridge with me. I don't want to see him or talk to him if I can avoid it. All of this could have been avoided with a civil conversation or meeting, not an impromptu barrage of accusations and lack of real information. Going into the talk, he did not know what a comparable website costs, or what the timing was like for completion. He took one small bit of information, jumped to a conclusion, reacted quickly and essentially laid me off in front of his partner. How can I be okay with that? I'm not. Even if he had handled himself even a little more professionally, I probably would have turned heels because I don't want to work with someone who stabs you in the front.

I promised Rusty I wouldn't lose more than one night's sleep over this. Now that this off my shoulders, I can keep my promise. Life moves on and so will I.

*While tossing in half sleep, I realized he had already made up his mind before he ever heard my side.

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