office expressions.

musings from my experience at the home/office.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another post about Lexi

As Jake and I were planning out our day this morning, Lexi came and sat in between us like she usually does, making the most out of her opportunity to have two people petting her at once. She's the very definition of an opportunist, especially when it comes to any sort of love or affection from...well, anyone.

We've had Lexi since she was 8 weeks old, and she has taught us a lot about ourselves, our relationship, our 'puppy parenting' styles, and how fun it is to have a dog in our lives (despite the constant shedding and tracking half the backyard into the house with her every day).

As I look ahead to the next few months, I'm wondering how she'll transition into her role of 'big sister' for our baby. Lexi will likely be getting less uninterrupted snuggle time, and she'll have to learn how to deal with crying, baby messes, and all of the gear that comes with the baby. Normally Lexi tends to be jumpy around new things in the house; grocery bags on the kitchen floor or box that was shipped to the house tends to send her straight under Jake's desk until things are restored to normalcy.

However, with the baby stuff, like the pack 'n play, car seat, and multiple shipments of gifts to our home, Lexi has adjusted really well. Sometimes we need to coax her to come near the new item at first, and usually she'll wag her tail, give it a lick, and be on her way. So far, so good. She hasn't even tried to steal any of the baby toys that look a heck of a lot like dog toys.

I'm excited to see how Lexi handles this transition. I've naturally had to pull back from some of my 'babying' behaviors with her as the bump has's a lot harder (impossible) to take afternoon naps on the ground with her or even go for long walks. She doesn't get to sit in my lap anymore since getting down on the floor is quite the activity for me, so she gets most of her attention from me by sitting/laying as close to me as possible and positioning her head under my hand. She's still the opportunist, what can I say? I love her for it and think she'll make a great big sister to Baby D. Pretty soon, she'll probably be Baby D's golden shadow, napping by the crib and not letting the little one out of her sight. At least, I'm hoping that's how this goes...

For dog lovers out there, here's a book I'd love to recommend: The Art of Racing in the Rain. I usually avoid books about dogs because they are usually tragic and sad and the dog always dies and leaves me heart broken. While this book is definitely an intense and serious read, it's also a beautiful portrayal of the role of a dog in the life of a family.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I recently organized two baskets that sit on top of my desk. They landed there about a year ago when I set up my home office, and I used them to house portfolio werk from past projects, binders from seminars and conferences I'd attended, and a variety of other miscellaneous resources that seemed important at the time.

A year later, a lot of those resources/binders/etc. are quite useless to me. I haven't referenced them, I haven't even thought about them. All of the copious notes I'd taken at conferences were simply gathering dust, along with the project management intro class materials I'd taken 4 years ago. It's hard to part with that type of material when it's still new, because there is usually quite an investment of time and money to obtain it. You think you'll reference things when you get back to werk, but usually, my mental filing system is where most of that stuff takes up residence.

So, out of the binders (we saved those!) and into the trash can they went. Perhaps it's my nesting instinct kicking in, but I'm just not in the mood to be surrounded by stuff I know I'll never look at again. The less 'stuff' I have to file/store/pile around me, the more free I am to move forward and pursue things in front of me.

Next office purge victim on my list? My filing folders...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Little Dutch Boy

I had one of my more realistic discussions with my boss today about my upcoming maternity leave, and while he is very flexible and just wants to know what I'm thinking, he touched on the fact that I am already feeling torn. He's so right!

Right now, I feel like the little Dutch boy with his finger plugging up the whole in the dyke, preventing the North Sea from crashing in and flooding his country. Don't know that Hans Brinker story? You should, it's a good one, especially if you're Dutch.

In a few weeks, I am going to have to hand over my responsibilities to other people and trust that they will take them just as seriously while I am out. Because, quite frankly, I don't want to even think about werk for the first month or two of being a new mom.

I know there will come a point at the close of my 6 week 'short term disability leave' that I need to make a decision about how fast/completely I return to werk...or whether I continue to cash out my paid time off hours. And honestly, I just won't know what I want to do until that day much is up in the air for our little family right now, the one thing I am focusing on is being thankful for a job with benefits that provides for us, supports such a flexible werk environment, and allows me to make decisions in the best interest of my family. Until then, I'm working up my contingency plan for whose finger will do the best job preventing an all out flood in my absence. (Sorry for the weird analogy...but it totally makes sense to me today!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Word of the day: Webinar

I enjoy following the content on 'Q' and find a lot of interesting posts/videos/webinars to fuel my thinking about church, culture, and how to engage with both. Sometimes this content is very relevant to my werk, other times it's just one of those info sources that keeps me loosely tied to the evangelical 'sub-culture' and aware of big events and emerging ideas.

I attended a webinar today by the head guy at 'Q', but found myself tuning out as it was tied very directly to those working in churches as leaders and pastors. Interesting thoughts, just no major take aways for me. Maybe besides this doodle where I intended to take notes. Oh well!

Monday, March 26, 2012

March Madness

I don't care for basketball. I really could care less about college basketball. And I am totally over March Madness.

Maybe it's because I didn't go to a D1 school for college, or perhaps it's because the only sport I've ever tried out for and not made the team was basketball. All of my field hockey friends were trying out for the basketball team, how hard could it be? What's a 'lay up', anyway??

Regardless, March Madness has been the topic of some meeting conversations at werk lately and I have nothing to contribute, and really just don't care about it for any personal reasons. I'm always happy for people who find it interesting or have picked a good bracket...but please excuse me if I tune out while you banter with one another over which team is going to win the final four.

I'm cranky today. I was wide awake at 4am and the first email I got was from a pregancy resource, and the topic of the day was: Insomnia. Go figure.

I'm glad it's almost April:).

In what world are these hideous yellow uniforms OK? I guess this is the one thing during March Madness I have a strong opinion about.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I've got company...and it's not just Lexi! The past few weeks of werk have been full of bumpin', rockin', and rollin' from Baby D. I'm often amazed at how active our baby is, all day and all night. There are some times that are more quiet than others, but the movement is getting stronger and more consistent to be sure.

I never imagined what it would be like to get kicked in the ribs and punched in the pelvis at the same time...or to have a pointy knee/elbow run across your belly while on a conference call. These feelings are truly incredible, impossible to ignore, and often make it hard not to squeal or shout a little in the middle of a meeting. So far, I've managed to keep my reactions to myself when I'm on calls...but it's very nice to be werking from home and have the freedom to smile, shift around or poke at the baby bump without inquiring eyes of co-werkers wondering what in the world I am doing.
I always thought these pictures were weird, and now I totally understand them. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feng Shui

Growing up, Saturday was chore day at the Ridder house. You didn't get your weekly allowance if your chores weren't completed, and there's a good chance Mom/Dad were slightly annoyed with your laziness and lack of motivation to clean your ridiculously messy room, among other things. My chores also included scooping poop in the back yard, cleaning bathrooms, dusting and polishing furniture, and sometimes mopping the floor to the backdoor. The chores changed over the years, but the motivation to get them complete always stayed the same: make parents happy and get your allowance. Plus it was nice to actually see the floor of my bedroom on occasion.

When my room was clean, and all of the clean and dirty clothes had found their homes again, I was often inspired to rearrange the furniture in my room. I would sketch out the basic layout of my room and draw up 3-5 different arrangement options, keeping in mind where the outlets were, as well as windows/doors, and the older I got, the less I wanted to have my pillow on the same shared wall as my parents because of my Dad's snoring. I love rearranging furniture, it makes you feel like you gave your room a mini-make-over...and would often help me keep my room clean a little longer so I could enjoy my time spent in there before the 'newness' wore off.

As we prepare for our baby's arrival, our house is quickly approaching some state of feng shui chaos. We sold our full sized bed and are looking to get a bigger bed. Our bedroom is currently a mix of random bedding items on the floor, and the mismatched dressers we have collected over the last five years of marriage. We have been sleeping in the guest room/my office, which is on the smaller side considering I have my large desk and chair taking up the majority of the room. We also have Jake's office to consider, since he is almost finished with school, but will still need a quiet study spot to prepare for his Nursing Boards after the baby is born.

Moral of the story, we have three bed (right now), two desks, and need to decide how we want to live in our house for the next 3-6 months as we prepare for baby's arrival and my maternity leave. Especially since my need for an office will change on maternity leave, and having a nice nursery space set up, along with re-doing our bedroom space with a new bed will become top priorities.

My biggest obstacle? Our home has really old windows that crank open on the top half, and our home gets really warm in the summer with no AC. The only window in the house that you can prop a fan into is in our bedroom, and I want to give Baby D one of the coolest places in the house to sleep...which would mean our massive master bedroom would do double duty of bedroom and least for the summer months. 

I think I need to start drawing out some floor plans...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

almost there

I can't remember if I've blogged about this before, excuse the pregnancy brain if I have.

When I have events in my life that I am looking forward to, I have a unique way of 'counting down the days'. I didn't realize this was unique until some point in my adolescence when I was discussing my countdown with my family and I could not even begin to convince them that we were counting down to the same big day. We were, but just in different ways, apparently.

We are going to our first baby shower this weekend, being thrown by our moms/sisters. We head out tomorrow, and I can confidently say, we have no more days to go! Today has already been checked off, because I woke up and we are in the middle of it..and there's currently nothing standing in between today and tomorrow that I know, no more days to go!

Apparently this is too optimistic for some people, but I love counting this way. I have no more days of werk waiting for me to attend to, because tomorrow, we go. 

Sometimes this can cause extra stress if the event you are counting down to is not exciting or something to be dreaded. But you have options: you can count down to the event like everyone else (apparently)...or you can stay optimistic, that the dreaded event is almost here and it will soon be over!

Either way, we're almost there.
My nephew made a paper chain like this one to help him count down the days until his extended comes for a visit!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Foot Warmer

I have the best foot warmer ever. Everyone should get one of these:
This is Lexi around 8-9 weeks old sleeping on a throw pillow. Now she joins me in the office and sleeps on top of my feet most of the day. It's one of the most therapeutic parts of my day. 

Yesterday we took her to the vet for a routine check up and some vaccinations. As a puppy parent, my heart was bursting with pride...and I couldn't help but laugh a little at the look on her face as she flinched when she got her 'temperature taken'. Poor thing.  There is no way I would give unconditional love to someone putting the thermometer where the vet tech did, but Lexi has more love to give than almost any being I have ever encountered. She truly amazes me, and honestly, inspires me a lot of times. 

She makes friends wherever she goes, because she loves first and doesn't know how to contain her happiness. That bumper sticker 'Wag more, Bark Less' totally applies to Miss Lexi. 

Although I can't justify the $500 the vet quoted us to get her teeth cleaned (seriously?!)...I'm so thankful for my office companion, who keeps my feet warm and fills my day with golden retriever smiles without restraint. 

(Yes, I love my dog).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rest and Drive

"There is an energy that comes from being rested that is different from the energy that comes from being driven." -Ruth Haley Barton

An interesting quote, because I know the energy that comes from being driven. I am often described that way by my co-werkers: driven, tenacious, ambitious, 'makes things happen'. People often joke in meetings that it's better to be on my side than not. I'm glad people take me seriously, because I approach my werk with passion and importance, but I also try to do it in a way that will earn others' respect.

The energy that comes from being rested is something I'm continuing to explore. As I gain more experience I have realized I truly don't need to be everything to everyone. I don't need to participate in certain activities to prove that I am a good person to other people. If sitting in my backyard staring at the sky for an afternoon is something I can do, I'll do it.

My boss once asked me why I'm always smiling, and if there is ever a time that I'm not. In some ways, that comment caught me off guard because I don't want to be interpreted as someone who only 'smiles' at life, when there are times to be more serious. I guess I also didn't realize how much I was smiling, and that made me a little self conscious. However, I am at a place in my career where it is easy to get perspective when I need it, and just as easy to dive into the nitty gritty details. I love being able to live in both planes, I guess it makes it me smile.

I also find rest and drive in both places, which is something I am very thankful for.'s 70 degrees, lunch time, and Jake and I are headed out doors to have some grilled salmon for lunch. There's some 'rest' for you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

chasing daylight

I cannot WAIT for day light savings time this weekend. I feel like a new person when the day light lasts a few extra hours, and I don't have to dread the sun slipping away at 4pm. I love the sun, I love warm weather, I love that I live in a state that boasts 300 days of sun a year. If there's one thing that is easy to get used to, it's sunny days.

Apparently my dog feels the same way. She managed to find the one slice of sunlight in my office and park herself right underneath it. Go Lexi, get that vitamin D!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pace Yourself

Every first Monday of the month, I trek down to for a two hour meeting with my team. About half of us werk from home, so it's a good time to catch up with one another in person. I usually try to make the most of my trip by scheduling other meetings with folks I don't normally get to see, which makes the 100+ mile round trip seem a little more purposeful sometimes. Although meeting with my team is always encouraging to me!

I was wondering how I would fare with making the trip down and back in one day yesterday, along with having a get together with some friends in the evening. By the time I got home and peeled myself out of the Jeep, I was weary. I have a hunch that the baby has moved to a new position that involves laying/pushing/standing on my pelvis, creating an achy pain that is kind of exhausting. I tried to lay down and take a nap before heading out again, but sleep escaped me. It's rather hard to shut off my brain these days.

After coming home for the evening, I knew I had hit a wall (evidenced by my ability to produce irrational tears at the drop of a hat). I had found myself listening to conversations with my friends instead of engaging in them, and I knew it was time to go to bed. I am not usually the wallflower in a group, and I was beginning to make myself uncomfortable!

Perhaps the drive to and going out was just a bit too much for me to handle. It's time to take a step back and realize that my 'normal' is changing quickly these days...even for the.home.werker who gets to werk at home in her pj's until noon most days.

Friday, March 2, 2012


I love Fridays. I love the rhythm of each day of each week, and how specific days seem to carry certain vibes/feelings/etc. along with them. Even from my earliest memories of using hair barrettes for each day of the week in preschool, I knew I liked my 'Friday' barrette better than the others. Perhaps it was the color of the barrette, perhaps it's some post-industrial-revolution instinct gathered from my ancestors that makes me long for a weekend.

I recently started watching the PBS Masterpiece Series, Downton Abbey, after hearing a few of my friends rave about it on social media sites. In one episode, the newly discovered heir mentions only being available on weekends because of his werk schedule, and the grandmother (Dowager Countess of Grantham, ultimate british matriarch of the show) simply asks: "What is a week-end?".

Apparently during the early 20th century, the 'week-end' was something to be enjoyed by the middle class, since the likes of the residents of Downton Abbey had no need of werk, and therefore no understanding of the use of a 'week-end'.

I am glad of my weekends, however 'middle class' they might be, and always happy to see them show their face come Friday afternoon! I find it to be a great indulgence to turn off my werk email account on my iphone after werk on Fridays...helping me avoid the temptation to check any emails that filter in over the weekend.

On another note, if you get a chance to watch some episodes of Downton Abbey online or on netflix this weekend, do it. It's a slower moving British drama, but the cast is huge and the story lines become more intriguing with each turn of the plot. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Steve Miller

Do me a favor. Press play on the video and listen to the song while you read:).

In 8th or 9th grade, my class took a trip to Baltimore's inner harbor. We spent time at the aquarium and I'm sure some other historic places...but my clearest memory of this trip is listening to my brand new and first ever 'classic rock' cd on my was a copy of the Steve Miller Band's greatest hits that I bought at a flea market. While 'Fly Like an Eagle' was not my immediate favorite song on the album, the lyrics come back to me from time to time. Especially this one: time keeps on slippin, into the future!

As I look at my calendar on this first day of March, I am feeling anxious, a bit overwhelmed, and not sure where to start. I have two full months of werk remaining, and once the month of May begins, I need to be ready to go on maternity leave at moment's notice. It's so exciting, but so difficult to figure out how to get my ducks in a row sometimes.

Earlier this week I sorted through my inbox and deleted a bunch of old emails I'd never need. Now I feel I must go through my desk and my files and do the same...before I forget why any of the things I've saved are important to me.

It's time to get a grip on the days I've got left and make a plan, before they slip away from me into the future!