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At first returning to my former stay at home mom position seemed ideal. My oldest is struggling with fifth grade. My third grader has the same teacher she didn't care for when she was four so this has been a tough year for her. Being in soccer has allowed her to develop some new skills however it wears her out physically and we're all trying to adjust to a different routine.

I stayed home when the girls were little and I'm sad that I don't remember more of that time. Now I'm home alone which might sound better but I miss the girls when they're not around. Without them the house is very empty and I am not motivated to clean the entire place from top to bottom like I feel I should. Today my daughter brought home another pink slip which is her third this week. Pink slips are handed out to people for various reasons, in her case she had three late assignments and as a result is going to be off the volleyball team for a week.

Yesterday we watched her play in a couple games. That was nice since typically she sits on the bench. Two of her serves went over the net, she got under a few balls however since the girls aren't used to playing together they had trouble returning serves and volleys that came back to them. Their team lost all three games but to me what was really nice was seeing some of these girls who never get to play receive some experience.

Last week a client of mine got married. We had talked before then, he asked about me leaving my job and he had shared some of his frustrations so I felt comfortable explaining my reasons for leaving. Pictures of the wedding went up on Facebook, some of the photos are stunning and I'm glad I got to see them. Before he left for the Bahamas he took time to let me know his boss would be calling me.

My newly married former client has a younger brother with MS, another former client of mine has a connection to the MS Society and I thought that was why my friend's boss was calling me. Instead he offered me a job which I wasn't expecting and was not prepared to discuss. Fortunately the connection was terrible, he didn't have much time to talk so we rescheduled our conversation for the next day.

Tuesday he went into more detail about what he would like me to do. Our connection wasn't any better so the conversational flow was interrupted by us having to call each other back. He's going to be sending me product samples and a scanner to evaluate which to me says that this is a serious offer. The next step would be me going out to meet the people I'd be working with and if they're not willing to fly me out to show me the lab I'm going to turn the job down no matter how attractive it sounds.

A former client of mine sent me a message on LinkedIn. I was feeling low at the time and her message was a real pick me up. Already I miss talking to the people I've been talking to for the past year but I still feel as if quitting was the right thing to do. I've had some time to make real meals. I've spent a lot of quality time with my girls and I was hoping I'd feel better but I'm still very tired and don't have as much energy as I wish I did. 

Yesterday a girlfriend of mine took me shopping. For years I have been trying to find clothes that fit, are comfortable and not jeans or long sleeved black t-shirts. When I go to the store by myself things are over-priced, either sleazy or matronly, staff tells me things look good when I can see they don't and I leave frustrated. Somehow my friend was able to put together several outfits that were my style, fit, comfortable and neither too dressy or overly casual.

After totally my first four items I went into sticker shock. I've never opened a credit card even though I shop there quite a bit for dress clothes but four items were $139 and eight items were $148 with discounts applied so I went ahead with the credit application. Spending that much when I don't have a job made me very nervous however my friend said I got great deals on everything and I needed some items like this if I was going to be interviewing.

Although it was the most expensive combo the suit was our top pick. The jacket and skirt both fit extremely well, I can wear the items together or individually, I can dress them up or down and I could wear this to an interview or even a funeral if I have one to attend. The fabric is light enough that I can wear it during summer and warm enough to make it viable during winter.

In an effort to get some exercise I had my husband drop me off at the sports store where my daughter's soccer jersey was waiting. I thought the store opened at 9:00, we arrived at 8:30 and I could have been dropped off back at home however I knew that once I was there I wouldn't want to go back out. Instead I rode to my friend's house. She was there but so was her husband and I wasn't in the mood to deal with him so I rode back to the store and waited for it to open.

Weather made my ride home difficult. Cold damp weather hurts but I didn't have any other option so I had to bike home. It wasn't actually raining but the wind had picked up. I came home, took another bath and spent some time under the covers trying to warm up. The soccer socks OSA gave my daughter to wear fit me. I wore them on my ride and was thankful for over-the-calf coverage.

Commissions from my former job are going to be paid out on October 7th. This should make me happy and I guess on some level I am however they're putting everything on one check which I asked several times that they not do because of tax implications. People keep telling me I should be thankful I'm getting paid but what they seem to forget is that this is money I'm owed. I have a hard time believing that they'd patiently wait for the remainder of their paycheck if they had it cut by some percentage.

My department was started on November 8, 2010. First and second quarter commissions are going to be paid October 7th so I've waited almost a year for this money and that still ticks me off. They switched the commission structure on us so I have no idea how they calculated my commissions and one of the reasons, probably the main reason I quit is because they wanted to change the start date I started working with people which would have slashed my commissions.

The example they used was I had called one customer January 4th. At that time this customer told me that they were no longer going to dispense diabetic shoes. Whenever I run into that situation I ask if it is okay to keep in touch and I respect their wishes either way. Back in April this customer called, we had a great conversation, he was looking for specific samples which I sent out to him.

We had a couple more conversations after which I sent him samples of our sandals and compression hose. Orders started trickling in and it wasn't long before they became regular. During our first conversation my customer mentioned one of the reasons he was coming back was because of the letter I had sent. Because order from January to April were sporadic and minimal management doesn't want to pay me for that since they feel those orders would have come in anyways and I had not actually been managing that business.

While they have a point they would not have the April orders or any subsequent orders had I not made the January call so I feel that I should be paid commissions on all business transacted after my initial call. My customer was upset with our lab. I addressed his concerns and my copy of the letter asks him to consider giving us a second chance to earn his business.

What I dislike most is that they tried changing the structure after we had all agreed that the start date was the date we would use to determine commissions. I think they made big promises, got bought out and are now having trouble justifying paying us commissions that they do not believe we have earned. Several of my former customers have let me know that I am missed and my replacements "do not have my flair".

Getting a job offer from a company that has a lab similar to the one I left and having that company tell me I would have a free hand in launching a new product line nation wide tells me that my expertise is valued by some and I was underpaid and my value underappreciated where I was at. I'm trying hard to let some of these things go but I firmly believe that had I not left we would still be waiting for commission checks.

Going forward I am glad I left my job when I did. I am so grateful that I met the people I did and very thankful that I have had the opportunity to stay at home with the girls. If this new offer includes an option to work from home - they mentioned the job was flexible which can have different definitions depending on who you speak with - right now I'm cautiously optimistic and can't decide if I cultivated this opportunity or it fell in my lap.

Good news on the food front: For many years my children have had dark circles under their eyes. Since I've been home I've tried to modify their diets so they are getting more fat and protein. We've been doing vitamins twice a day and supplementing with calcium when they don't have enough servings of dairy a day. It seems as if these new changes have helped. My youngest especially has better coloring and a dramatic reduction in under eye darkness.

I would like to cut out gluten entirely for my oldest. Dental defects are a sign of celiac disease and she has an enamal defect in the exact same place I do which scares me. I see behavior patterns in her that I saw in myself - I had her tested but the tests are not always reliable - I would like to try her on a gluten and dairy free diet just to see if it makes a difference.

For now I am content with the small changes we've been making. My youngest is not the girl she was last year - pale, thin, nervous and shy - she has come so far in the past couple of months and even further in the past couple weeks. She's bright, does well in school and has fallen in love with soccer which in my opinion is a good crush for an eight year old. Right now my ten year old needs some extra support and attention, we talked about working through things together and I guess right now I have to work on helping one daughter at a time.

Wishing I could do more but grateful for the steps behind us, until next time.


P.S. I have a chance to make $1000 doing some consulting work. Now all I have to do is figure out how to train people on a system I don't know myself.

p.p.s. After watching the Food, Inc. movie I went shopping and spent $120 buying my family food that was mostly good. I read that purchasing organic food is one of the simplest ways to contribute to a healthier planet, it might be slightly premature to be making resolutions for the New Year but I am done feeding my kids junk. Not all organic food is good or healthy either but I am taking small steps to allow my family to acclimate to the new changes.

(part ten of Thirty Days in Brazil: Fiber in a Faraway Place)

Cold. Sand all over me. The wind is blowing in, salty and unwelcoming, the sky is roiling with blue-grey clouds, and my pillow is hard. Up. Up. Where am I?

Oh yes.


"I feel like a bum." says the ops manager as we stumble blindly down the beach. I can only grunt, shielding my eyes from the grey morning. Hotel might be ready. Must be ready. We're tired. All tired, all four of us.

We sneak into the hotel room two at a time to avoid extra charges, all of us wiz-kid sysadmins with our twenty-thousand dollar expense accounts and our root access on a good chunk of the Internet. Don't look at me like that, do you know how much beach-fronting hotels cost down in Rio de Janeiro?

Wake up at night again, for the first time in months. Briefly confused that I'm not in Virginia.

Eat Brazilian barbecue. Drink cachaca. Roll from bar to bar to bar down the strip, swallowing sangria, swallowing mixed drinks, getting increasingly shit-faced in the balmy night. Rub elbows in a crowded bar, confines almost tighter than the dresses on the working girls. Palm trees are nodding and swaying along to the bad Eighties music.

Late at night, the ops manager folds over on the table in the eatery, snoring gently into cheese pasties. We take pictures, prop him up, order another pitcher of beer. Stumble hotel-wards at the end of the night by way of the beer stalls, all the way down the black and white waves of the Copacabana strip.

Pull from the remains of the Hennessy, because we're young and dumb and expensing that too.

Lights out, into the hotel bed. Too tired to notice the other tech snoring like a freight train.

Morning. Breakfast at a corner shop, beach walk by the sea. Waves crashing up as the clouds think about parting, getting gradually warmer and warmer. Old fort on a high cliff. Guards say: steps closed, too slick from the rain yesterday. Pack into the car. Back into the car, roll on down towards the market for bamboo-carved tourist toys. Then on to Corcovado and the massive Christ the Redeemer gazing over the city.

The ride up the hill is exorbitant, over bumpy streets, in a van that has clearly seen better days. It wails and gives off the smell of burning all the way up to the halfway point along Corcovado, where we disembark for the officially sponsored bus to the top of the stone.

Then steps and gift shops and steps, to the top. The jungle landscape all around us is becoming redundant.

Christ the Redeemer stares blankly out over Rio de Janeiro as the tourists take pictures, posed below with arms spread. My coworkers emulate their fellows as I wander about, taking in the view and considering overpriced rosaries from the gift shop. On the way back, we pass a small, disapproving cluster of monks in full frock. The coworkers ogle the hot Brazilian women, and consider conversion to Catholicism.

I am tired, and beginning to be sick. I do not consider reconverting to the Mother Church.

I pass out in the car on the way back to Rio.

I therefore manage to miss the ops manager and my coworker pushing our efficiency shitbox car to speeds at or above one hundred and sixty kilometers an hour as they blithely ignore the signs proclaiming the highway to be riddled with speed cameras.

$200 on the corporate expense card later, my coworker is no longer allowed to drive in Brazil.

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