Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Perfect Moment Monday (on Tuesday): mission impossible

If you've been reading my two most recent Winter Shed posts, you know that the last few weeks have been absolutely crazy work-wise. Last week Monday I had to start a project that was way too big, with a deadline way too close - a real mission impossible. I had a commitment to the client, so I jumped and started swimming, but I had no idea if I would reach the shore or drown.

Two days later, at the end of a long workday (allowed by my dad and his girlfriend who took care of M. Sensible all day and picked up M. Gourmand from the sitter at 5 pm), I knew that I would reach the shore, and that it would be in time (luckily the deadline had been extended too). Suddenly the utter chaos that marked this project in the beginning was gone, and despite still having a lot of work, it had become manageable, and from that point on was even enjoyable. As I closed my laptop and gathered my stuff to go home, I was happy. It was a small perfect moment, and I'm glad I noticed it.


Perfect Moment Monday is hosted by Lori at Lavenderluz.com. It is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Shed: Week Seven

No, I didn't fall off the Winter Shed bandwagon! I was just too busy trying to meet my work deadline that there was absolutely no time to write this post on Friday, or even on the weekend. However, the translation has been emailed to the client, M. Sensible is at day camp and M. Gourmand at the sitter, the house desperately needs cleaning, but I allow myself to write a blog post first. The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here

Now to report on how I did during week seven:

1. Read more novels.
The book I had picked out stayed on my night table for the entire week. I only picked it up to read this weekend, which is officially no longer in week seven, so not much progress here this week. 

2. Follow the news more.
My work took up all my time and energy this week, so apart from some news snippets hubby shared with me I have no idea what went on in the world this week.

3. Pick up regular blogging again and start a series/hop on Cultural Differences.
Again I am glad for committing to do this blog hop, even though I'm again late in writing this post. I intend to write a Perfect Moment Monday post today as well.

4. Get my professional website up and running.
No time and energy for that this week, but I did get some new ideas for what to put on my website, mainly by things that came up during the translation job.

5. Find more clients / pursue more paid projects.
This week was taken up entirely by the second document that needed to be translated for the same client as last week. My father and his girlfriend arrived here on Monday evening and stayed until Friday morning and they were a huge help taking care of the kids so I could work. It was four times as much text, in about the same amount of time, so the job was split between me and another translator. I was very hesitant about this in the beginning, afraid that the two styles would be too different and we wouldn't have time to make one coherent piece out of it, but in the end it worked out fine. It clicked really well with the other woman - we kept in touch via Skype chat to quickly check translation of certain words / technical terms and then once we both had finished translating our parts, met up on Friday and Saturday to go through the texts together. We did some final tweaking last night and I emailed both files to the client yesterday evening. 

There is a third document in the pipeline, but I have no idea yet when I will get that and what the deadline is. I will not bother my client with that question today, as she is busy finalizing the layout of the other document so it can be printed ASAP.

Then I got two other requests for work this week! 
The first one is from a client I already did a project for in December. I call it my 007 assignment: it's a daily internet watch I have to do for news in Dutch about a certain company. If I find anything I have to mail the URL and a summary (in French) about the news, and also check if there are tweets, FB shares, etc.
The other request is for a translation from Dutch to French of a workshop manual. I'm a little hesitant about this one since I usually only translate the other way around, but I will respond to it anyway and ask a French friend to be on standby for proofreading if I do get the job. It's a lot of text so if they don't have a crazy deadline like my current client it would be a nice way of keeping me busy for the coming weeks or even months.

6. Start playing the cello again.
Again, just no time right now.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winter Shed: Week Six

Another week has passed, time for another Winter Shed post! The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here

Overall this week was very busy but a lot better than last week. Everyone was healthy again (except for hubby taking over M. Gourmand's pink eye, but he got over it relatively quickly). The translation job finally started (see under #5) and I finished the first document on time (with help from hubby who did some final proofreading and improved quite some stuff). Our neighbor, whose son is the same age as M. Sensible and is going to the same preschool (different class though), was willing to take in M. Sensible all day on Tuesday so I could work even during the teachers' strike, which was great. Then on Wednesday I could bring M. Gourmand to the sitter but had M. Sensible home, but he was very sweet, watched cartoons all morning and took a 2-hour afternoon nap, so I still had a pretty productive day. Hubby is off for business for the coming two days, but my dad and his girlfriend are coming over from Holland to help out so I can keep working as much as possible on this crazy project.

On a completely different note, I was very saddened to read that Bio Girl's sister Missy had died of brain cancer, and it brought back many memories of my mother's final days and death. If you haven't already done so, please go over to her blog to read about her wonderful sister and let her know you're thinking about her in this difficult time.

Now to report on how I did during week six:

1. Read more novels.
I finished the 500-page Dutch novel on Wednesday (well, actually it was very early Thursday morning)! The story is set during WWI, first in London and then at the West Front. Heavy stuff, but a story very well written, so a definite page-turner! The next day I already picked out a new book. I first wanted to take a German novel, but with my current translation job, which is French to English, the thought of adding another language in the mix didn't seem such a good idea. Since I'll have a crazy workload for another week I chose a thin book and it seems like a pretty easy read, so hopefully I can pick it up a few times in the coming week when I desperately need a break from work, kids etc... (I still haven't opened it though).

2. Follow the news more.
I did read and watched some in-depth stories about the  equal marriage rights bill here in France, which was accepted last Tuesday after long and heated debates (it also includes adoption rights, but ART still no covered for gay couples (and might still be labeled 'illegal', which is scandalous). The French Minister of Justice is an amazing woman, I have never seen someone expressing her convictions so passionately and slamming down the opposition with poetry and quotes from philosophers.

3. Pick up regular blogging again and start a series/hop on Cultural Differences.
Luckily I committed to this weekly blog hop, otherwise there might not have been a post from me this week! Just too busy with the work project (see under #5)

4. Get my professional website up and running.
I finally could get started on the translation job, so no, no time to work on the website.

5. Find more clients / pursue more paid projects.
It felt really good to finally be able to start on the translation job on Monday! I must say that the first two days were still complete and utter chaos - I would be told to start on one document, then two hours later I got a call that the final client still had corrections for that doc, so I'd better start on the other doc, only to receive an email the next morning that the client hadn't proofread that one yet, so no-go for the translation. Finally on Tuesday afternoon things were clearer and I could really get going and I haven't stopped since (well, that's not true - I do still keep the household running too, although at a bare minimum this week - and M. Sensible has been watching a lot of videos...). I handed in the translation of the first doc yesterday afternoon. 
The final version of the other document should be ready for translation by Monday and needs to go to the printer on Friday. When I saw that I laughed out loud, what else can you do..? And if it goes like the first doc the client will keep making changes until the very end....
The good thing is that my contact (at the design studio, which is my client) is a very nice woman and we understand each other very well, so that keeps the work atmosphere healthy, even with a crazy client and an unrealistic deadline.

I also replied to a request from someone who's setting up a new company in the area with ties to the Netherlands and was looking for independent translators. Haven't heard back yet though.

6. Start playing the cello again.
Just no time right now.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Winter Shed: Week Five

It's Friday, which means it's time for another Winter Shed post! The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here.

I feel I just want to crawl in a little hole and come back out when it's nice and warm and my kids are grown up. The weekend started great but that changed quickly: M. Sensible came down with the flu and M. Gourmand with a conjunctivitis. On top of that, hubby said he wasn't feeling great either. So on Monday no extra time for me to work because M. Sensible could have stayed at school for lunch, but sickbay at home caring for both boys. Same story on Tuesday. On Wednesday everyone was doing better but no school on Wednesdays in France, so I had M. Sensible at home. Luckily the sitter could take M. Gourmand (even though normally I have both kids home on Wednesdays), so I could get some work done. However I still hadn't received anything and the February 18 deadline was still standing! On Thursday I brought M. Sensible to school only to find out that his teacher wasn't there and they didn't have a replacement. If it would be possible, they'd appreciate it if I could keep my child with me, otherwise the class would be split over the other classes. I took him home after we dropped M. Gourmand off at the sitter. The poor little fella was still suffering from his conjunctivitis - every morning he would wake up with big crusts on his eye lashes and trying to clean his eyes, let alone administer the eye drops was a twice daily struggle. The skin under his eyes looked almost worse than the eyes themselves, completely red and raw from all the cleaning. He even refused to lay down on the changing table (still does, even if I just want to change his diaper), screaming as if I'm about to torture him, and I had to put all my weight on his little body to try to keep him to lie still. And of course, because we share everything, since yesterday evening I now also have an infected eye...
On top of that, when I picked him up at the sitter's yesterday she told me he now also has a stomach flu. I'm not completely convinced though, the way he's chewing on my chopping boards and everything else he can get in his mouth (my shoulder, for example), makes me hope the weird poop is caused by emerging teeth. But I've been wrong before...

Yesterday evening I got a little respite from everything during dinner with a few girlfriends, which was great, but they got me a little anxious when they asked me if our school would be closed too coming Tuesday because of a teacher strike. Hubby dropped M. Sensible off this morning while I brought M. Gourmand to the sitter and this is what he emailed me:

A note from M. Sensible's teacher: "I will be on strike Tuesday, February 12,
you will receive a document (explanation) shortly."
So yeah, no school on Tuesday... The strike is about the changes the government wants to make to the school week. Currently Wednesday is a school free day, but the government wants to change that and also have classes on Wednesday mornings. The teachers don't have a problem with that, but with the way the government decided on the changes without consulting teachers, PTAs etc, and giving no solutions for a number of other issues.

This is why I just want to crawl in my little hole and not come out until life is a little less complicated. 

Now to report on how I did during week five:

1. Read more novels.
I made a nice little dent in the 500-page Dutch novel I'm reading at the moment. Mostly in the evening and a little bit during nap time, when I didn't want to take a nap myself because I wanted to be 'on alert' in case my client would send me the texts to translate (oh, I could have slept... see under #5).

2. Follow the news more.
Shall we just skip this item...?

3. Pick up regular blogging again and start a series/hop on Cultural Differences.
Two published post this week, a short one explaining my sons' new blog names and this one. I wrote a first draft for an introductory text for my Cultural Differences series, but am not completely satisfied with it yet, so the launch will not be for right away, but it's getting a bit more concrete already.

4. Get my professional website up and running.
Well, now that I think about it I could have worked on this while waiting for my client to send me the documents to translate (more on that under #5). So if I still don't have work by Monday I might do this.

5. Find more clients / pursue more paid projects.
I should be over my head in the translation job right now, but I still haven't received the texts! This whole project is really getting ridiculous and I'm almost at a point where I'll call them and tell them to forget it. I spoke to their project manager on Tuesday and we agreed that one of the three documents would be translated by someone else, because there would be just no way for me to be able to finish everything in such a short amount of time. The text for the other document would come the next day and the third document had been postponed to Mid-March. Ok, fine. Come Wednesday, no text. So I call again Thursday morning. No answer. So I send an email, demanding clarity. She left a voicemail that she wasn't able to answer all my questions right away, but she would surely do so tomorrow. Which is now. It's past 6:30 pm and I still haven't heard from her...

6. Start playing the cello again.
Skip please! 

However, on another musical note, we bought a 1/4 violin for M. Sensible on eBay - it's still a bit too big (we should have bought a 1/8 size, but oh well, he will grow into this one). No violin lessons for the moment as it seems that the Suzuki classes (which are the only ones who take kids as young as three years old) don't take on new students halfway through the school year. That's ok though, he can get acquainted with it and we can sign him up after the summer.

The boys get their blog names

Now that I've been writing a bit more regularly again I find it annoying to keep referring to my two boys as either "the preschooler" / "the eldest" and "the baby" / "the youngest" so, since I still don't want to use their real names here, I decided to come up with names I could use on this blog and that would be more or less accurate descriptions of them.

So please meet

Monsieur Sensible
(pronunciation and meaning in French, i.e. Mr. Sensitive in English)

M. Sensible is 3.5 years old, goes to (pre)school and won't be easily tricked. He's curious and sweet, but also a very sensitive boy. His balance can be easily disturbed if he's in a new situation, with foreign people, or if he's tired or not feeling well. He can wrap his mommy around his finger but also make her pull out her hair!


Monsieur Gourmand
(i.e. Mr. Glutton)

M. Gourmand is one year old and almost always in a good mood. He'll be smiling even when he's sick.  He likes to eat all the time and he'll eat everything! He'll only refuse food when he's really really sick or when his emerging teeth are causing him too much pain.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Winter Shed: Week Four

Another week has passed, so time again for a Winter Shed post! The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here.

It was a pretty tiring week as our eldest son (now 3.5 years old) had a few very restless nights, including nightmares, bed wetting (although more PJ wetting, the bed was still OK), and hysterical crying. Apart from having a sore throat and a stuffed nose, there was nothing wrong with him, so I'm not sure what he was dealing with, but it seems to have passed, as the last two nights have been much better. Of course to keep mommy on her toes the youngest (1 year) decided to wake up screaming a few times last night - also major stuffed nose and I suspect an imminent appearance of tooth #8 to make his life (and mine) miserable. Apart from that it I was in preparation mode for the big work project to start - getting organized and cleaning the apartment.

Now to report on how I did during week four:

1. Read more novels.
I finally finished the French novel - I think from start to finish it took me more than a year, oops! - and I immediately started another one which I finished the next day (okay, it was only 133 pages, so not such a big deal). After a one-day break I picked up a thick Dutch novel that my husband gave me last year which should keep me busy reading for a while.

2. Follow the news more.
Well... I still haven't found a way to make this happen. Listening to the radio during breakfast would probably be the best solution as the evening news on TV is smack in the middle of trying to get the kids to bed and reading the New Yorker again still hasn't happened either, as for the moment I prefer to spend the rare spare time reading novels than getting depressed by extended reports on world events, even if they are very well written...

3. Pick up regular blogging again and start a series/hop on Cultural Differences.
Still blogging - two blog hop posts this week, Perfect Moment Monday and this one. I'm happy to say I also commented on almost all the other PMM participants posts. Ideas for the Cultural Differences series are brewing in my head and I would love to get it started by next week, but I also want to announce it on LFCA, which means I need to submit it this weekend at the latest and I'm not sure I will have a first post all thought out by then. I'm also not too sure about the frequency. I want to make it a regular feature, but I think if I do it once a week I will soon run out of topics. So a monthly series? Or should I just hope it attracts enough readers and they will suggest new topics if I ask for it? Most of the topics I have in my head right now are parenting related, as I'm obviously in the midst of that myself and it is also by reading other blogs that I figure out some things are done very differently from one country to another, but it might be too much of a turn-off for those reading LFCA and still battling infertility... Anyway, those are some of the reasons why I'm procrastinating with this project. Any comments and/or suggestions are welcome! 

4. Get my professional website up and running.
I don't think I will give this any time and energy before the project under #5 is finished sometime in mid-March.

5. Find more clients / pursue more paid projects.
All focus here is still on the big project I wrote about last week. They asked me for a price quote which I gave last Friday - I think it's more of a formality and it's unlikely they will come back to me saying no, but I did increase my price since last year and I haven't heard from them in a week, which does make me a little bit nervous... However the project manager said they probably wouldn't have the texts (it's a translation job) before the middle or end of this week, so we should still be good, but I did send an email this morning to ask where things stand (and also to let them know we can talk about the price, if need be), just to be sure.

Update: I got a mail back. They want me to stick to my old price but have brought the deadline forward to February 18 (!) and I will not get the texts before the middle of next week.... I've no idea how I'm going to do this. I'll take the weekend to think about it and will talk to them on Monday.

The school granted me an extra day a week at the school restaurant for my son, so that is great! Things are still a bit uncertain regarding the upcoming school holidays though, as one center that offers day camp was already completely booked. I have a registration appointment on February 11 with another one, but they couldn't say anything yet about availabilities - only that they have 16 spots. So we'll see.

6. Start playing the cello again.
This has been put off until at least after the above-mentioned project is over. If I happen to open the case and tune the instrument before, that's a plus!