26 October 2012


Starting last Monday, my work email now ends with @dell.com, instead of @navarik.com.  I was with Navarik for 12 years, seeing and helping it grow from a little start-up to a mature, stable company.  I was Navarik's employee #1 and the decision to leave was not an easy one.  But it just felt like the right time to go try something different somewhere else.  I am certain I will miss Navarik and my friends there for a long time.

It certainly is different where I am now.  Navarik has less than 50 employees, whereas Dell has over 100,000 employees in I don't even know how many countries.  The team I joined is a product team that develops software for modernizing legacy systems and my role involves product management, business analysis, etc.  My role is similar to what I was doing at Navarik but the products and users are quite different from what I am used to. I was looking for change and I definitely got it.

It is Friday now and I survived my first week at Dell.  It was overwhelming and scary but it was also good.  Change is good, right?  Right???

16 October 2012

Renovation experience

We’ve have been enjoying our new kitchen and bathroom for a month and a half now and it really is about time I post something about the whole renovation experience. We hired Dean Plesko (nuspacekitchen.com) to be our contractor and he does not go by the time-and-material model. He gave us a project cost, based on the materials we chose for the cabinets, sink, toilet, plumbing fixtures, lighting, etc. The items that would make that project cost go up or down are added or cancelled features or requests. Dean supplied most of the materials, except for the kitchen appliances. I liked his model because of the comfort it brought us knowing how much the project would cost right from the beginning. In the end, we spent about $1500 more than the original cost because we added work for Dean, like beefing up the insulation above the ceiling, and installing heated floor in the bathroom. Dean was easy to work with and communicate with. He guided us in our decision-making and made the whole process quite manageable. The project schedule was delayed for 3 weeks (almost 40% of original duration) because the countertop manufacturer, Cambria, couldn’t deliver the material to the local fabricator. Luckily, we didn’t have a fixed move out date for the basement suite we were staying in. And in the end, I believe we got a granite counter that is more beautiful than the original quartz counter we had chosen. Plus it gave Sophia more time to be with Ed’s aunt (she lived upstairs from us). It all worked out for the better.

The most stressful part of the experience was making decisions. We didn’t hire a designer so it fell on me and Ed to decide on the colour scheme and choose the design for the tiles, countertop, backsplash, cabinet handles, plumbing fixtures, and lighting. I found it stressful because I would have to live with my design choices for years to come and I felt that there was no room for error. I would email my girlfriends for their advice when Ed and I couldn’t agree on something, like staggered versus stacked floor tiles. And it wasn’t only the visual design we had to decide on but also functional design, such as, how far apart should the pull-out drawers in the pantry be or where to install the microwave or the garbage can. Dean provided a lot of guidance for the functional design, thankfully.

After a month and a half, I am happy to report that I love our kitchen. Visually and functionally, I think we got it right. The only thing I can complain about is the splashing the tall faucet causes. That’s minor. All the appliances are performing well and there haven’t been any “oops, we shouldn’t have picked that” moments. I love the eating bar (we finally bought stools a couple of weeks ago) and we use it quite often now. The kitchen is just soooo different from our previous kitchen that it’s a totally new experience for us and makes the whole house feel different, too.

As for the bathroom, I really, really like it but it’s not the “I am in love with it” feeling that I have for the kitchen. The bathroom is functionally not much different from our old bathroom so the impact of the renovation has not been as significant to us as the kitchen. I do love how it looks. Functionally, there are a couple of things that have given me the “oops, should have done it differently” moments. One is the shower valve. It is the type where I can only control the water temperature but not the volume. I didn’t know Dean was going to install a valve like that and I didn’t know to ask, either. I just assumed it would be like our old tap where I can control both volume and temperature. Oops. However, it is really only when the water is coming out of the tap that it bothers me. Once I have the water going out of the shower, then I love that the volume is full blast. And I love how our tub is roomier than before.

Overall, the renovation was a good experience. Ed and I worked well together, I thought. It was stressful and busy but very much worth it. I am so glad we finally got it done!

Here are some photos of before and after…




More photos at our Flickr site...

5 October 2012

Band aid MIA

I think Sophia swallowed the Dora band aid we put on her thumb last night. The band aid is a way to discourage her from sucking her thumb and it worked the first night. Last night, however, she reverted to sucking her thumb even though there was a band aid on it and this morning, the band aid was nowhere to be found. Uh-oh.

4 October 2012

26 months

Sophia is now 26 months old. 2 years and 2 months. Time is just zooming by.

She is well into her terrible twos. She is asserting her independence every chance she gets. “I do it” or “Phia do it” is frequently stated. And when she does not get her way or can’t communicate what she wants, a little tantrum ensues. She has not displayed a big tantrum yet (oh, I dread the day!) and we have managed to calm her down quickly by asking her to use her words or to show or point to us what would make things better. The challenge when she uses her words is we don’t always understand what she is saying. I understand she feels frustrated but sometimes, it’s really difficult to keep my cool and not lose patience with her. Finding that balance where we let her assert her independence and encourage her to explore her world, while not indulging her too much, is a big challenge. Plus, I don’t always have the luxury of time to let her do it on her own pace. I am already late for work, dammit! Sigh…

It is very fascinating and fun to watch her personality develop. I love listening to her use new words and surprise me with new antics everyday. I was looking for one of her books the other night and was muttering to myself, “where is that Jillian Jiggs book?”, as I flipped through the books on the shelf. Then I hear Sophia say out loud behind me, “Jillian Jiggs, where are you?”. She made me laugh and I thanked her for helping me find Jillian Jiggs. Too cute.

She enjoys going to daycare and playing with her friends all day. Sophia still loves to sing and dance. Her daycare teachers commented on how musical she is and how she loves to just belt it out. Yup, that’s my girl! She is also a fast runner. This presents a challenge when I am carrying groceries and I need to run with her on the sidewalk. But she loves it.

Mealtimes are usually peaceful but sometimes stressful. I would say Sophia is a picky eater fifty percent of the time. Some days she eats a lot and some days she hardly eats. She has recently started eating grape tomatoes, nectarines, and strawberries. I even got her to eat a little bit kale and couscous recently but refused them the next time I offered it to her. And when she’s not in the mood to eat, she starts palying with her food and dumping it on the table and floor. Then I get mad and take her off the chair, then she gets mad because she wants to keep playing with the food. Yeah, sometimes it’s a battle. It’s up and down. When the mealtime passes peacefully and she eats well, I always say a thank you prayer that we got through that without any battles. I just take it one mealtime at a time.

Sophia is a source of joy, happiness, laughter, frustration, anger, self-doubt, and a myriad of other feelings. And I am starting to appreciate that as long as I am a parent, this is how it will be. And as somebody who has always been able to compartmentalize emotions, having this big ball of feelings all squished together throws me off-kilter. But that is the big challenge - how to just let it be and embrace it as my reality. How come they never mentioned any of this in those ‘what to expect’ books???