Monday, December 15, 2008

two company Christmas parties…

Thursday was the TASS party – a company that Jerome worked for when he first arrived in the US; actually, this was the company that brought him over to the US. He hasn’t worked for them for nearly 5 years, but he’s invited to the party every year. It surprises most people I tell because, I mean, have I been invited to an MSX party, an Innovative Solutions party, an EDAG party or any type of Chrysler party since I’ve moved on? No. Actually, I’m not sure that those company parties exist anymore.

Thursday’s party was a bit different than what they usually present. This time it was in their office building. They had the hors d'oeuvres catered and must have purchased a bunch of wine and pop and set up a little bar area in the lobby/hallway with a bartender. It worked. They also set up a Wii in one of the offices which was a big hit.
It was nice to visit with everyone; old and new.

Saturday was my companies Holiday party. It was held at the Troy Hilton. We had a family style sit down dinner and the classic “fountain of chocolate” dessert (plus plenty of other sweety things). Afterward, they set up several tables to pretend gamble with buckets of chips. Dance floor and open bar.

It started at 6pm, but for some reason I had it in my head that it started at 7:30pm, so we arrived fashionably late for a 7:30 time slot…so, really 2 hours late! The guys had been saving us a couple of seats at their table, but being that we were so late, they ended up forfeiting a seat to another person. We ended up sharing a table that was meant for 10, with just one other couple; George S. and his wife.

Nearly as soon as we sat down, dinner was served. I think that this is probably the best time to have come. We did however miss the hors d’oeuvres in the hallway, but from what I heard about how jammed it was, I don’t think we missed much.

This was the same room that held the MS Society “Care-giver of the Year” awards last year, where my mother won care-giver of the year.

After gambling, we stayed to dance one dance and left. That was around 11:30pm.

Apparently, my company is faring pretty well during this economic downturn – and we were told that we would be receiving a bonus. That was very unexpected and quite nice.
One funny story about the night was told to me by one of my co-workers, Tony. It was right after the great speech from our President telling us how well the company is doing and that we would be receiving a bonus. Tony was standing by the bar near the President of the company and two of his underlings. Another colleague, Daniel was standing with them, uncomfortably trying to keep up with the conversation. The subject of “Joe the Plumber” came up and Daniel said something like “speaking of plumbing, the plumbing at BR2 really stinks”…the jovialness of the conversation dropped and the President said something like “does that mean you have to flush twice?” The colleague, knowing that he made an error in judgment tried to grab onto anything that would keep him afloat. He looked around and found Tony's face in the crowd and said “isn’t that right Tony????” Tony totally denied him. – Maybe you’d have to be there or at least know the guys, but it was really quite funny.

another anniversary...

We celebrated another anniversary over the weekend - the actual purchase of our house. We signed on the dotted line 4 years ago.

This is what we were doing yesterday - working on the fireplace.

We have the cement board up, the corner pieces and Jerome taped the seams this morning before heading to work. We hope to have the first layer of tile up by the time our primetime shows begin this evening.

This project began in April of 2006 and we've been teased about not having it done for the last couple of years.

Justin called last night and I told him we were in the middle of "doing the fireplace" - he said that the last time he was home (over 3 years ago) we were in the middle of a project. I told him, we've not stopped working on projects the whole time. It's true!

Getting there...but not quite - this is going to be a long project
Close up of the glass tile - it's called Noche
Back in 2006 when we first started:

We had found a bunch of papers, photos and other items behind the mantle when we pulled it off. Even a check from Detroit Edison.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

have you ever had one of those days...

...that you seemed to be spinning your wheels? Things just don’t seem to work out the way you planned?

Well, yesterday was one of those days.

After a long day at work, where everything was fine – I headed to Main Street Salon to get my hair cut and colored and eyebrows waxed. I had practiced what I was going to say to my girl (Julia) as far as not to style my hair because I prefer it flat to my head and possibly just the wet look. The whole process of getting your hair colored and cut takes a long time. When it came time to tell her not to style my hair – she agreed and then started styling with the big round brush and the hair dryer. Afterward she said “you can’t tell a hairstylist NOT to style your hair – it’s impossible”. So, I ended up with way puffy hair. Oh well, I can always jump in the shower and take care of that – but it probably cost me a little too. The final cost for all of this was $125 + tip. I never know what to tip – is it supposed to be 10%, 15%? I think I’ll google it.

Anyway, got home and Jerome was just getting back from the errands I sent him on (or he sent himself on…never know). He had to go to Home Depot to return the slate tiles and natural stone mini tiles that we decided against for the fireplace. We had purchased them within the last two years and they’ve been sitting there, next to the fireplace waiting for us to have time and interest in continuing that project. For the first time, we could not find the receipt, but it doesn’t matter – you just take the items back and if they have the items in their system, you get a store credit. It’s so nice and easy. Only problem was that the huge slate tiles were a discontinued item, so they wouldn’t take them back.

Then he was off to The Tile Shop to return the samples and place the order. We decided on a dark brown glass tile for the fireplace face (after watching something on HGTV over the weekend) and then a travertine stone for the hearth. Should be a nice combo.

Our order for new office chairs came in and were delivered to Jerome’s work. He brought them home last night and after the hair appointment, we went downstairs to put one together. As we were taking the different parts out of the (partially damaged) box, we were becoming more and more hesitant that we had made a good purchase. The parts were wrapped in some sort of Huggie’s diaper material – really – it had Mickey Mouse and Huggie’s written all over it and also Chinese newspaper. The welds seemed really poor quality and as the chair was taking shape, it just looked like crap. The final “straw” were the scratches on the “real wood” arm rests. So, we are going to return them. We had to disassemble it and rewrap it with the diaper material, etc. Jerome could not remove the hydraulic stand from its resting place so we will have to send it back in a larger box. Incredible.

So, after we got all of that done, we decided that we’d start printing out our Christmas cards. The printer was giving us so much trouble – we could only get a couple dozen finished.

Then we looked over The Tile Shop receipt and noticed that the guy that Jerome ordered the tiles from ordered the wrong ones completely! Now Jerome will have to call the store and reorder the items. Sometimes I think he really has a handicap in this country because of his accent. People just don’t understand him – and then there’s the fact that he has some trouble hearing, so I think that works against him too.

The last thing we did was print out our investment information for our meeting tonight with our financial advisor. Hopefully today will NOT be one of those days.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

some good news...

Got a late call from my son last night. He called to tell me that he got sworn in yesterday. Yep, he joined the Army and will be a Light Wheel Vehicle Mechanic.

This was a long time coming; the process seemed to go on forever. The first time (this year) he called me to tell me that he was joining was the beginning of July. Now it’s December and finally, as of yesterday, he’s in.

He had a few hurdles to jump – weight and a criminal record seemed to be the biggest stumbling blocks. But he, his recruiter and Shelly (the parent of a friend of his) persevered and here we are.

He “ships out” to Basic Training on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

Here’s a very nice note that Shelly wrote to Justin (I was cc’d):

“The time has come for us all to rejoice and celebrate Justin moving up in life. He’s come far these past few months, with a few bumps along the way, but he’s done it.

I am saying this to you. Big A, the girls and I are proud of your accomplishments these past several months. You have stuck it out (with a little PUSHING here and there…LOL) but you did it. This is time for you to stand proud and take this new road as a life changing experience and become a wonderful young man with much ahead of him. The road will get tough at times, I’m sure you know that, but look back over the past few years and look at yourself in a new light. You have overcome many odds that were against you. You can succeed, you just have to put your mind to it.

Congrats PVT Justin Daniel Bruce”

Monday, December 8, 2008

let the christmas festivities begin…

Took my mom to the Holiday Tea at the Henry Ford Estate this past Saturday. It was quite nice. I love that place. The menu was an assortment of finger sandwiches and some mini desserts and of course we had tea! Holiday Spice for me – I think mom had some Pomegranate. After lunch, we were offered a tour around the Estate that was narrated by a Clara Ford impersonator. It was really nice and I was forcefully volunteered to dance the “some long named dance” with her in front of the whole lunch crowd.

Dropped off mom and raced back to Romeo because we had the Romeo Historical Society Christmas Home Tour at 6:30pm. It started at the Congregational Church on Main and we visited 5 homes in Romeo. I love this event and hope to do it every year. Had to miss last year because my company’s holiday party landed on the same night. The homes are usually older; some from the 1800’s. The owners have them decorated to the max. Trees in nearly every room. Some homes have the older feel to them with older looking styles and wallpaper, etc. Others have a more modern look, but keeping with the old, they throw in a few antiques here and there. Much more my style. My favorites were the first and the last homes. One was a Craftsman Bungalow, early 20th Century (Arts and Crafts) and the other was a Greek Revival, mid 19th Century. I believe the younger the people that own the homes, the more I share their tastes. I would have loved to take pictures, but my camera really doesn’t do a nice job when it’s dark, so I left it at home.

We have a lot more holiday fun to look forward to the rest of this month. Full details will be in later posts.

Monday, December 1, 2008

getting ready for christmas...

The weekend was dedicated to putting up Christmas; lights, tree and decorations. I decided that I would only use the silver and blue ornaments this year - so it would be different. Jerome didn't seem too sure about it at first thought, but once it was done, he seemed to be OK with it. It just means that all the Hallmark ornaments that I've acquired over the past 25 years are not being used. Next year, only Hallmark ornaments!
Last year we wanted to buy a real tree – not a real “cut” tree, but a real one with a root ball that we could plant in the spring. We were trying to be "green".

At the nursery, a forklift had to put it in our car.

12 9 2007 : I look happy took us an hour to remove this living tree from the back of our car. It weighs about 500lbs! Jerome says I'm exaggerating but that whole root ball is a block of ice. We used several methods including tying a rope around it and trying to pull it out of the Golf with our MINI. All we could think of was being in the 2007 Darwin Awards.

12 16 2007 : We haven't brought the living Christmas tree into the house it's enjoying the new fallen snow. Actually, they say that you shouldn't have one in your house for longer than a week. It will come out of dormancy and then get shocked when you take it outside.

12 18 2007 : Yes, it's inside - but not without a lot of pain. Do you see, it doesn't even fit inside the box that Jerome made last year...and that box is BIG! The weight of the tree actually is breaking the box at the seams. And the tree is crooked. You can't tell because it's not crooked from this side. We thought that getting a living tree rather than purchasing a dead tree for nearly the same amount of money would be a great idea. It's not worth it. We will be buying a fake tree with integrated lights after the season!!! Oh, and we gouged big scratches in our floor! And it's not the end...we have to get it out of the house before we go on vacation and then in the spring, if it is still living, we have to plant it!

We planted the tree in the spring and did everything that you are supposed to do…and after all that struggle it still wound up dead. Here's a picture of it from earlier this it's totally brown.

After Christmas last year, we went out and bought a fake tree from KMart. It’s very nice. Picture perfect.

the detroit three...

As you probably have heard, the auto industry is taking a beating during this economic downturn. This affects nearly every aspect of my life from mine and my husbands’ jobs, our friends, my parents and my brothers and their families.

Anyhow, everyone at Chrysler, if they were direct, got offered a package last month. They had up until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to sign on the dotted line. The packages differed depending on how much time you had with the company and what your job was, but it seemed that most packages offered a lump sum of money (I heard anywhere between $25,000 - $75,000) and a ($25,000) voucher for a new car.

Cerberus, the privately held company that currently owns the majority of Chrysler, wanted 25% of the people to take the package. Up until the last moment people were vacillating on whether they would take it or not. But I’m pretty sure, from what I’ve heard as far as people I know that have taken the package, they must have reached their goal, if not surpassed it.

So, my “connections” are pretty much gone. Two Friday’s ago, I was having lunch with the guys from work at Buddy’s. The place was packed. At the table next to us was a group from Chrysler. I recognized two of the people at the table. Both were CATIA V5 experts and also had a lot of understanding of VPM (the database I work with). Rob, one of the guys that I recognized, came over to my table to tell me that it was his last day with Chrysler. It was the whole tables last day. I really feel that if Chrysler wants to survive, they are really doing themselves a disservice by letting these “experts” go. It’s a bit crushing, but I wish them well – and as for Rob, I’ve been friends with him and his wife (outside of work) since 1993.

This past Wednesday was the day that those that signed, were to leave. There were several on our project (Chrysler side) that took the package and so today Chrysler is operating with a skeleton crew. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Funny SNL Skit – Auto Industry Bailout


For Thanksgiving we went to my brother and sister-in-laws house in Wixom for the traditional turkey dinner. Played games and watched some home movies.
Then the next day was spent at my other brother and sister-in-laws house in St. Clair (near Port Huron). It was my nephews 12th birthday. Both days were nice - good to see my nieces and nephews. I find that I'm better with older kids. It's hard for us to "connect" until they are hitting their tweens. Then, they LOVE me. :)