Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cloud Gate & Other Sites

Last Saturday morning we went to Chicago to do some touristy things. Thanks to some unused Metra train passes from my sister's visit, we didn't spend a dime.

Most of the morning was spent at Millennium Park. I love the Bean (the official name is Cloud Gate). It is so much cooler in person than in pictures. If you get under the center of the bean and look up, you are reflected multiple times - sort of like a fun house mirror.

This is the whole bean. I absolutely love the reflection of the city on the bean.

Our family reflected in the bean:

At the Crown Fountain, the faces were on and spitting. I suppose it could look like they are drinking rather than spitting. The official description uses the word "spouting". Whatever you want to call it, we saw it.

One of the faces:

The face "spouting": (just ignore the two heads of other spectators at the bottom of the photo)

While at the park we also checked out the Lurie Garden, walked by the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and walked over the BP Bridge to the Daley Bicentennial Plaza.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion - I want my lawn to be that green

At the plaza we stopped at a great playground for Sweetie and watched people get ready for their Segway Tour of the city. You'll notice that Sweetie is wearing the scarf that I knit! (Yes, it was that cold -scarves, hats, mittens and ear muffs were all worn.)

Bicentennial Park - If you look under a magnifier you might be able to see that the person in the picture is on a Segway

Just in case you aren't sure what a segway is, this picture is from the City Segway Tour website (obviously not taken the day we were there. Short sleeves - ha!)

After the playground, we walked along the Randolph Street side of Millennium Park by the bike rentals and the Millennium Monument. I had skipped that corner on the way into the park due to my excitement to see the Bean.

Millennium Monument:

I took a couple of pictures of the flowers in the road dividers on Michigan Ave for my sister. When she and I took a trolley tour in March, the driver mentioned how beautiful the street looks when everything is in bloom.

From the park we walked to Macy's (the former Marshall Fields) on the corner of State and Washington. We admired the Tiffany glass ceiling, the great clocks and the granite pillars of the famous building.

Tiffany glass ceiling (it's on the 5th floor if you want to visit):

While waiting to cross a street, I turned to the left and saw the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). This was the oldest futures and options exchange. It has since merged with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. For most people, this may not be exciting, but I work in financial services, so I have actually seen CBOT as the exchange on future trades.

Then we hopped on the train at Union Station and made it home in time for Hubs to watch the Indian's baseball game.

A little something for everyone.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On The Road Again

We are moving home!!

I am thrilled. I didn't realize how much I want to go home until we made the final decision. Now I am positively giddy! I want to leave at the end of next week, but there might be a contractual obligation to stay until the following Friday. The contract is really between my current employer and the client (not me personally and the client). I could say "oh well" and just leave. However, I like my client and the industry is small, so I may be stuck here an extra week. On the other hand, the client isn't giving me enough work to fill the extra week, so I might make a plea for letting me go regardless of what the contract says. It will save the client a week of consulting fees, so they really should let me go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Starting to Bloom

Spring has arrived in Chicagoland. Trees budding, flowers blooming, green grass, warm breezes. It's wonderful!

The tree pictured below is right outside Sweetie's playroom window and it has the most amazing fragrance. When we come home at the end of the day, I can smell it as we come up the walk. It's a better welcome than a welcome mat.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Best Thing You Can Do

I just read this in a document at work:

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bless You

Do people that don't believe in G*d get offended when someone says "Bless You" when they sneeze?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Working Morning

I spent 2 hours of the early morning participating in a group interview with a team in India. There were 3 in India and 6 here and it was great fun for me. My client is considering hiring them, so I was able to ask the questions (rather than be asked) and I loved it. I had a great time listening to their responses and building new questions based on what they said. We were able to get into some nitty-gritty and flush out the fluff from the solid knowledge. At the end of the interview, the client asked me what I thought and I gave a fair response pointing out both positives and negatives. The main decision maker for the client liked my analysis, which added to my warm and fuzzy feeling.

This was my first time participating in an interview where my opinion actually matters to someone and I'm just amazed at how much I enjoyed it. I've done interviews in the past, but they were mostly informative interviews to benefit the other person. For example, after my boss spoke with someone and decided he wanted to hire them, he would have me speak with them to give them the "real story" about the job. He wasn't looking for my input in the hiring decision. My role was purely the rah-rah cheerleader to make the interviewee want to work for us. Today's interview was so much more fun than those old "information" conversations.

Based on my performance today, I've been invited to participate in another one tomorrow and one more next week. I can't wait!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Housework Is Not A Priority

On Saturday we went to the local public library. I love the library and am worse than a kid in a candy shop. There were so many books and dvd's I wanted to take out. It was difficult, but I kept it under control. Next to the library is a kids science museum. We spent a few hours running around there, then went to lunch nearby. SPie fell asleep and it was raining, so we drove around the historic downtown area of Geneva. It's a pretty town and there are some lovely homes just off the center including a private residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright called Hoyt House. I forgot my camera, so I don't have a picture, but if you are interested, you can google it. I probably would not have taken a photo anyway since it is someone's personal home.

At the library I checked out a book on Mexican cooking. There was a recipe for Avocado and Prawn stuffed eggs. We had that for dinner, but we used can salamon instead of shrimp/prawns. It was delicious with a salad and some leftover rice.

After dinner I finished my scarf! Sweetie tried it on and it looks adorable on her. I didn't get a picture, but you can see the finished scarf on Big Teddy. I'm taking a second knitting class this week to learn how to do cables and a few other stitches. :-)

We spent Sunday hanging around the house with one excursion out for a walk to the grocery store. I started a chocolate mousse recipe without reading the entire thing first. Halfway through I realized it takes 4 raw eggs, so I switched to another recipe. It didn't work so well.

This morning I looked at my "to-do" list for the weekend and it included practical things like cleaning the bathroom. I didn't get my list done, but we had a nice family weekend around home.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chicago Pictures From St. Patrick's Day

Enjoy these pictures from Chicago taken in March.

The St. Patrick's Day green river with the Chicago Tribune building in the background.

Green River and Columbus Drive Bridge
Lake Michigan Waves
Bird house for Purple Martins
Mosaic in the Bryn Mawr area. It's much bigger than what's pictured. We found it completely by accident - a lovely surprise.

The US and Chicago Flags. Each of the 4 stars represents a significant event for Chicago.
1st = the evacuation and burning of Fort Dearborn in 1812
2nd = the great fire in 1871
3rd = Chicago World's Fair in 1893
4th = 1933 World's Fair
More Green!
Curvy Green

My sister took this one. The proximity of the hot dog car to the church made her chuckle.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Talking About Money

I just started reading Suze Orman's book Women and Money. She raises the issue of talking about money and how people don't consider it a "subject for polite conversation". Her point is that this is wrong and we as a society, and especially "we" as women, need to discuss money and not be afraid of it. This is rather timely as I am trying to figure out my salary requirements.

I don't know how to find out if my desired salary is "reasonable". I know that it will barely cover the expenses if my husband were to stay home and pursue his furniture making interest, but the number seems so high. Then again, when I gave my current employer my salary she said, "That seems low." My big fear is that I'll lose a job offer because I've asked for too much. Is that a crazy thought? I shouldn't be afraid to ask for what I need, right? And, I should believe that I'm worth that much!

I'm thinking of asking a couple of former co-workers and a former manager for suggested salary ranges. It's a little scary for me to do this. Employers have always said not to discuss salary, and I listened. Now I'm on my own island with no point of reference!

Suze is definitely onto something with the "conspiracy of silence" when it comes to discussing money matters. I think I'll take a deep breath and ask my contacts through email. It's not as big a step as calling on the phone, but it's a start.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Bold Baby

I recently heard a snippet of a radio interview with the jazz singer KoKo Taylor and it reminded me of my SweetiePie. Koko's voice is bold, fierce, rough, and strong, but the words of the songs were soft and loving and positive. That's how I've been thinking of my girl lately. She is a complex mix of wonderful things. She is fearless, independent, confident and strong, but she's also loving, sweet, cuddly, and kind.

My girl might go for the black crayon over the pink one day, then ask for her pink ponytail the next. She might play with cars and trains everyday for a week, then play with her baby dolls. She says, "I love you" freely and gives kisses. She sings silly songs and likes to dance. She knows her own mind and when she wants to do something on her own, do not get in the way.

I love her mix of bold and soft and I hope she never loses either side!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Living in Limbo

Things have not worked out as expected with my new job. The client is great, but the employer is not delivering what I believe we agreed on. I'm waiting until the end of the week to see if a few things happen and if they don't, I have to look for another job.

While we wait, everything is in limbo. Hubs is holding off looking for a job. We are looking at houses to rent (our apartment lease is up in May), but we can't commit to anything yet. We are touring other preschools, but that is a bit of a waste since we don't know where we'll be living after May. Some of the schools that are close to our apartment won't be convenient for some of the rental houses. Family and friends are asking about visiting, but we don't want anyone to book flights until we know we'll be staying.

We've been living in this limbo since we arrived and it's making me crazy. It's times like this when having to work for a living really bugs me. My future plans are dependent on what my employer does and I have no control over that.