Graham struggles at preschool. It’s maybe one of the biggest pangs of mom-guilt I get – that, because his father and I have two full-time working parent schedules, these kids have been pulling 10-hour days since they were 3 months old. Daycare was fine for G when he was little and all they did was sing songs and play trucks, but ever since he progressed into a class that started having expectations about his ability to follow directions in a series and allow the other kids in his class to participate in an uninterrupted group activity, we have been getting sporadic reports about his ability to cope.

I’ll stop a minute to be clear: Graham’s teachers are his advocates. They root for him, and take extraordinary measures at times to help him coexist in a classroom of his peers. He has flexibility to do his own thing when the class is doing another and he just doesn’t want to join. I read about the crazy expectations we crazy American parents have for our kids. This doesn’t feel like that. The expectations that Graham’s teachers have for him are not that he be an automaton and have a 9-to-5 desk schedule. It’s that he acknowledge that there is a story time going on for other kids and that he not scream out loud and bang toys around while a teacher is trying to tell a story.

Lately there have been increased reports from school that Graham is struggling again. It tends to go in waves. My latest crazy theory is that bad days happen on the full moon. That one’s not holding water. Obviously. We’ve had pep talks with him. Stern talks with him. Consequences. Brief conferences trading tactics with the teacher.

But today? Today as I was fixing dinner, Graham walked into the kitchen after arriving home from school and looked grief stricken. No drama, just… upset.

I said, “What’s wrong, buddy?” He looked at me. His voice cracked, his eyes filled and he said, “Mom. I don’t know what’s wrong with me… I can’t listen…. I am trying so hard, but I can’t listen. Ms. Peggy is trying to tell me stuff, and I don’t understand what she wants me to do.” And then the tears flowed. He just let loose. All the frustration that had been building up in him all day came out of his tiny little body.

He *has* been trying hard. Andy and I – along with Ms. Peggy – have been creating a ton of different strategies and tactics over the past year. We all get frustrated at times, because G gets so wild. Because he starts telling a story and has trouble in the middle remembering where he was trying to go with it. Because he gets so distracted trying to do a simple task like go to the bathroom or wash his hands or put on his shoes. I half think he’s so skinny because he can’t sit still long enough to finish a meal.

I’m writing this out because I never want to forget today. Today, Graham wasn’t about excuses or drama. Today, Graham set out to do well in school and couldn’t. And that just breaks my heart.

A New Beginning


Now that we’re through all that mess, let’s go to the instant replay and see what happened.

We had sort of heard that this was going to be a big week, as mentioned in this last post, but we didn’t know how it was all going to go down. The rumor mill had been working overtime, and no communication that you could really rely on was coming from anywhere.

Wednesday morning, we woke up to a company-wide email that said that a restructure was going to happen, and that those affected would be notified that day, Wednesday, and the following (now yesterday, Thursday). Shortly after, I had this email in my inbox.


I saw the email on my phone as I was walking into the building. I took a screenshot and texted it to Andy along with a bunch of colorful expletives.

After entering the building, it was obvious it was widespread. People were huddled in groups looking various shades of alarmed. We soon found out my entire team had them: two had appointments Wednesday and two – one being myself – had appointments Thursday.

I had a project meeting at 8:30 with a bunch of cross-functional people. Two of us had HR appointments, the other 3-4 didn’t. That was the theme. Walk around to a group of about any size, and 1 in 3 people on average had appointments with HR.

It was a terrible day. Those who had meetings tried to wrap their minds around what was coming. Those who didn’t have meetings were also upset with a mix of what I could only imagine was a mix of survivor guilt, relief and indignation. Basically, everyone was upset. And everyone was trying to get information. It was like an accident had happened and we were taking a headcount. “What about the pilot plant? Has anyone checked in with those guys?” and off someone would go.

Every so often, someone would square their shoulders say, “Well, time for my appointment,” and off they’d go.

And every so often, someone would walk up to any group in particular and wave a goodbye and confirm that today was their last day. Some in tears, some just in shock.

It’s so funny in times like this. We are still creatures of habit. Many folks – including myself – would continue to go to pre-existing business meetings most of the morning until we ultimately realized that there was no point. As the day stretched on, you’d get meeting owners cancelling saying that they were no longer with the company and assumed someone else would set something up if need be.

I’d say Wednesday was the hardest.

The next day, Thursday (yesterday), Sam – my remaining teammate and I, returned to work. Our kitchen staff was laid off, but we still had our two panels of trained tasters coming in per usual. So Sam and I got in the kitchen and prepared and served samples that morning to keep the business moving. I was worried that I’d get busy and miss my appointment with HR, so I set a reminder on my phone.


Gallows humor.

I walked down to the main floor and walked through the doors to my meeting with the head of R&D and HR.


There was a line. They were a little backed up. Apparently they’d scheduled these appointments for every 10 minutes, but I guess didn’t anticipate how many questions people might have.

When I walked in, I was informed that they were consolidating my function down to their tech center in Chicago and that I no longer had a position with the company going forward. I was also informed that I would stay until November 20 to assist in the transition to a centralized model – which means knowledge transfer and equipping the remaining R&D developers to be more self-sufficient without onsite sensory resources. At that point, I will receive a severance package and be free to figure out what life looks like from there.

And that was that. At that point, I had nothing to do but go upstairs, put on a hairnet and serve ham to our taste panel.

I was told to stay home today, because the new organization is going to get together for a celebratory rally. Monday, I’ll return and start working on the transition plan.

I’m in a good place, overall. I’m sad that it worked out this way. I’m sad that other people are sad and in worse positions than me. I’m grateful that I get a paycheck for a few more months. I’m worried about what the next step looks like. And late last night, I finally got indignantly angry. Angry that I did everything I was supposed to do and still ended up dispensable. But it was just a blip. I’m back and ready to figure out what the next step looks like. A new beginning. Let’s get started.


Dead Man Walking

I keep hearing this verse in my head: “We eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”

I was a little off on my time estimation…

I have a meeting with HR tomorrow at 9:40 AM. 

Our entire team does.

We got an email from corporate HR this morning letting us know that layoffs are happening, that many salaried employees would be affected, and that those affected would be notified by the end of the day tomorrow.

Several people – many, many, many here in Madison – have meetings set up with HR. People who are having their meetings are being notified that today is their last day.

So, it’s looking like I’m not going to make it to my 2-year anniversary at Kraft.

We had a project meeting at 8:30 this morning, and two people walked out in tears. I walked one of the floors in the headquarters building and people are huddled in small groups figuring out who has meetings and who doesn’t. People are crying. Meetings are being cancelled. Half of my team meets with HR this morning. Another girl on my team and I have our meetings tomorrow morning.

And that’s that, I guess.

T Minus One Week

August 14.

Friday, August 14.

That’s the day we should know if we have a job, and – if so – what we will be doing for the company. So naturally, I have been putting in long hours, making sure our lab space is tidy, going above and beyond to make sure I put in those extra touches on my work to be sure and demonstrate how indispensable I am to this company.

Just kidding. I took the day off today.

! Heh.

Ugh, I just typed out some pretty rich details about what this merger has been like, but I have to keep in mind that – albeit a small audience – this blog is an unprotected public site. I could get fired with no compensation if someone took issue with what I said. So, I took it out.

Suffice it to say: business has slowed to a crawl. Seemed like a good time to take a long weekend.

We’re going down to my parents’ this weekend. Andy, Graham and I have dentist appointments on Monday, and Reid’s coming along for the snuggles. I scheduled this a couple of weeks ago when I completely freaked out that not only were we due for dental appointments, but Graham is starting school at the end of the month. No more taking PTO for an ad hoc 3-day weekend. We will officially have a school schedule to work around!

We leave tomorrow. Today, I tackle decluttering in the boys’ rooms. Let the cleaning begin!

Nervous Energy

Well, it’s been all about keeping busy in a climate of we-know-something-but-can-tell-you-nothing-but-it-could-have-everything-to-do-with-your-job. I’m a girl who likes to know things, so I’m going a little crazy.

Andy and I have created several Plans B, if you will, but none of them are turnkey and we just don’t love any of our options in the event that I am let go. Sigh.

So we’re just trying to fill our dance cards for evenings and weekends. This weekend, we visited the National Mustard Day festival in Middleton. They are serious about their mustard, man. It was a gorgeous day. Folks around here were complaining about how hot it was that day, but we’ve lived in Texas – we know better. ;)

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Graham tried the climbing wall.

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Just… no comment. Graham was so excited to see the Wienermobile, and it just makes me sad right now. Things are just not how they should be, and it all feels pretty unfair. But I, like any mother would, pushed it down and mugged for the camera.

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He makes a pretty cute hot dog.

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Reid and Andy searched for food. Free hot dogs! Free mustard! (Ketchup? $10) See what I mean? They are serious!

Don’t worry, Jim Gaffigan. They’re on it.

Otherwise, this weekend we did our darndest to keep the kids busy. Graham lost TV privileges this weekend, so we had to get creative.

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One roll of painter’s tape = highway network for matchbox cars!

I’ve also been systematically decluttering our house. I chose to start with the unfinished basement (?!), so it’s plugging along slowly. This weekend I made it to – dun dun DUNNNN! – the baby stuff.

I’ll be frank. It’s looking more and more like we’re going to be a family of 4. Logic is sort of in the vein of: know what you can handle. We’re so wishy-washy though, we refuse to completely shut the door on the possibility. So fine. We’re operating under the assumption that we will not be having any more kids and decluttering the stuff accordingly. The only things we’re keeping are things that: (a) are akin to keepsakes for the boys, super special jammies and nice outfits, handmade things, etc or (b) don’t take up huge swaths of space and would be expensive or a complete pain in the rear to replace.

Case in point – I’m keeping the breastpump, but allllllllll the nursing supplies, covers, storage necessities are gone. Even bottles. The carseats will go after they grow out of them. Not sure about the crib yet, but we’re thumbing our nose at old wives’ tales and leaning toward giving it the heave-ho.

Anyway, because I know this is all so fascinating… there is something cathartic and empowering to decluttering. I’m sort of done storing stuff we are only keeping around ‘just in case’.  I’m selling a few marketable things on a Facebook community. I’m passing on treasured things to friends. And I’m loading up a carful each weekend to take to goodwill.

Mostly though, it just keeps me busy. I’ve got a ton of nervous energy, so I’m channeling it the best I know how.

Better than doing nothing while we wait.