Monday, December 15, 2014

Matthew 25:40 Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Hi friends,

Last Tuesday, my bible study group had an evening of food and fun.  Each of us was encouraged to bring something for two great causes.   One cause was Compass.  They help homeless families in the area.  The other cause was 'Route 1 Ministries.'  They offer encouragement and support to women who work at the local strip clubs.

For Compass we were encouraged to bring gift cards - gas cards, grocery cards, bus/train cards etc. It's no surprise that homeless people really need these things and one way to bless these families is to help them take care of their families basic needs.  It was really cool to watch so many women bring envelopes with gift cards to the front of the table.  I think the girl collected over 20 gift cards.

For Rte 1 ministries each group was given a list of items to put in a bag.  We made 35 bags and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the people of this organization show up at the strip clubs and hand these bags out to the ladies who are working on the holiday.

After our dinner, the women who represent these groups spoke to us about some of the myths and misunderstandings about both homelessness in the area and human trafficking in our local area.

Many people think that the girls who work in a strip club are 'just college girls - making a little money to put themselves through school.'  Sadly that's not the reality for most.  For over 90% of the girls who dance at strip clubs, they were victims of sexual abuse while under the age of 18 and most feel significant shame in their job.   They range in age from 14-65. They are really blessed to receive a bag with mittens, snacks, nail polish and other 'little items' on the holiday. If you think it stinks to work Christmas as a nurse or police officer, imagine how much it would stink to go and strip!  It was cool to think that we could help make their holiday a little brighter.

In addition to the goodies, I made a card and all of the ladies in my group signed it with words of encouragement.  I had some fun trying to make an extra special card for this one.

So do you want to see my card and the pile of gift bags we collected?  Of course you do...

Since our bible study is called 'Joy' I thought using this stamp set and die cut out from stampin up with the words Joy was perfect.

The bags below were filled with 'pre-approved' items for the ladies.  I guess the owners of the clubs are very controlling about what their girls are allowed to receive as gifts.  Each bag was packed full of items on the approved list.  

All together there were 35 bags from the morning group and our evening group.  The organization collects over 100 bags to distribute from various sources.

It was a really heart-warming night.  One last thing to leave you with.  Imagine if you and Jesus were texting.  This time of year, it might go something like this.



Thanks for visiting today.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Getting ready for Christmas

Hi friends,

First, let me share a darling Christmas card I made using a favorite Stampin Up stand set I found on a fellow crafter's Blog that was for sale.


The stamp set is called 'The sounding Joy' and it's so elegant and gorgeous (and easy to use!)  I think I'll be inking this set up for several last minute cards.  I love it on the musical patterned paper background with a nice big ribbon to add oomph.

This year for Christmas our family (on my mother's side) decided to do something a little bit different.  Since everyone lives far apart and most of the kids are growing up with girlfriends/boyfriends and husbands combined with the fact that Bob and I live in a condo, we don't really have one house that everyone fits at.  So we found a great house to rent in Maine for the weekend before Christmas.  We have the house from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.  It's got 5 bedrooms and seems like a perfect spot for our family gathering.

As for gifts it was decided that everyone would get a stocking and each person would bring an item for each persons stocking.  For those on student budgets, it's perfectly fine to get a candy bar for each person and keep the spending to under $5.00.  For others, you can get a personalized gift or gift card.

As Sarah and I considered this new tradition, we were inspired to hand sew stockings for each person.  So Friday after thanksgiving we spent the day with the sewing machine making a dozen cute stockings: red for the girls, green for the boys.

Below are pictures of the crafting day.








And while the girls were up doing the sewing the boys were down in the garage making free standing stocking holders!  We figured we don't want to mess with the rental house and putting stockings up on a mantel so we'll bring our own stocking stands!  Everyone was quite busy!


We almost finished all of them, but we need to get busy to finish them up.  The party is less than 2 weeks away!

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Make it a great day!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!

Hello friends,

Just stopping by to share a fun birthday card I made for my dad for his birthday.



This card uses 'through the tree's' by Papertrey ink.  Thanks for stopping by today.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Papertrey Ink Blog Hop - SNOW!

Hi friends,

Today is Papertrey Ink's blog hop.  this is a fun opportunity to ink up some of my many Papertrey Ink stamps and get creative with their theme.  For some reason I was really stumped by this theme. SNOW.  I have lots of stamps with snow elements, but very few actual snow images.

So I did the best I could.

Below are two creations I made for the hop.

The first is a berry and greenery image with snow lacing the edges.  I love the clean and simple nature of this but when I finished I didn't feel this was very snowy so I decided to make another.

 My second creation is using the ice skate image with snowflake patterned paper.  This has a home style feel with the red and green. Again, not too snowy, but fun non the same.
I'm so excited about having a few days off for the American Thanksgiving Holiday.  I'm off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and besides cooking and getting started on my Christmas cards, I have very few plans.  Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hope your day is full of fun SSSC244

Hi friends,

Just a quick post to show you a fun card I made last night for a fun-loving friend.  This card uses the sweet sunday sketch from Karen Giron.



The sketch is below:
On Karen's blog are some really gorgeous cards using the sketch.  Click below to check them out or for details on how you can submit your card using this sketch to her blog.


Oh and in case you are wondering how our project launch is going, it's going really well.  We are SUPER busy with support - lots of questions from the users about 'how to' but really only a few bugs and the tech team is resolving them quickly.  Of all the major project software launches I've been part of, this is the biggest and smoothest launch of all.

I had the overnight shift for the first day and two 6am-9am shifts this week.  I felt like an ER triage nurse trying to get through all the questions and prioritize them and get the critical ones off the tech team.  It's hard work - especially when dealing with people where English is not their first language, 

Yesterday they had a nice (but short) lunch where the project sponsors came in and said some nice words about how proud they were of us and what a great job we were doing.  It was nice.

We took another team picture.  Here you go...

The team in front of our corporate office
Fist pumps to celebrate a success
The true superstars of the team - Will, Petr and Anthony - Brilliant Tech Guys
Well, off to walk the dogs and then into the office.  Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Vendavo Launch

Well today was the day.  For the past 14 months I have been totally focused on a large initiative at work.  I work in corporate pricing and our group develops processes and systems to ensure that all pricing for our products are processed, approved and executed correctly. So anytime a customer wants to buy one of our parts and needs a price, that falls into our domain.  We don't respond to the price requests (that's done by a group of 100 various users throughout sales and marketing) but my group does ensure that the price requests go through the correct approval process and are loaded into our order management system so we can ensure pricing integrity.

Okay, so now you know what my group is all about, so let me tell you about this project.  We want to take our pricing to the next level - best in class. We engaged with a top software vendor - Vendavo and spent some big bucks to buy the software and engaged a consulting team to help us customize the software for our processes.  Our configuration was quite intense, even by Vendavo standards.  I work in high tech and high tech solutions always require a lot of customization because of the complexity of the business selling environment.  If you see me sometime and want to be bored out of your mind, ask me about ship and debit, registrations or EMS.


So in September of 2013 we began the project and today November 9, 2014 we launched the system. We have a total of 230 users. For about 1/2 the users they access the system a few times a week and it will be a minor impact to their workday.  But for 101 users, this system means that everything they have done for the last 10 years, has been completely replaced by a new system.  They spend most of their day in this quoting system and today, the old is gone and the new is here.  We really needed to ensure they were very familiar with the new system and business process.  We don't want a customer to ask for a quote and want to buy product and the person helping them is unable to do that.  So it was a very high visibility project from our senior mgmt team.

Of course they put the best people on the project!  Below is a photo of the team.  This includes 4 IT people & 4 business people from our company, 3 full-time consultants from Vendavo and 12 subject matter experts from various areas of the business.  My how thin and well rested we looked before the project started.  That's me smiling in the front with the pretty teal green top and black pencil skirt (both are in the back of the closet today, hoping that sometime soon I can fit into them again!) Oh and that kid I was telling you about yesterday - the one who is leaving our group - that's him on the edge in the white button down shirt. My boss is the tall guy in the center back. You can barely see his head!  And the girl who went on the road with me training is standing next to me in the blue dress.


I was the business analyst and training lead.  As the business analyst I worked with many different subject matter experts (and others on the core team) to define all the requirements for what we needed the new system to do. As the training lead I developed all the documentation, lead the development of the on-line training courses, developed the content and conducted most of the hands-on regional training sessions, coordinated the local workshops and monitored the certification testing for the 101 all day, every day users.  For the training, we produced the following:

One 303 page user guide
One 46 page handbook
Six 7 page Quick Look Guides
Six e-Learning Courses

Below is a photo of our 303 page guide.

I lead most of the training thus all my travel this summer.   I visited 4 international cities - Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai and Munich.  Typically we held 2 or 3 sessions in each city with between 8-15 users at each session. I hosted countless web-ex's and sent endless e-mails communicating with the users and the subject matter experts about training content and requirements.

Below are a few photos from our regional training classes.
Above: Training in Taiwan just a few hours before the Typhoon arrived.
Training in Tokyo.  Notice the skyline of Tokyo Bay in the background!


The theme at all our trainings
After training in Munich!  That was the SMALLEST size you could get!
 Workshop in Norwood Ma
Training in Norwood

And now, we are LIVE with our new system.   It's a huge milestone for our team.  Below is a photo of our launch.  Most of the team came into the office at 4:30pm to do final verification and send the e-mail with the new link to access the new system.  Keep in mind that for Asia and Japan, Monday morning starts for them as Sunday evening begins for us.  We wanted the new system available for all regions at the start of work Monday morning, thus the Sunday evening 'official launch.'
Vendavo corporate color is Green, thus the decorations
Mayur set up the food
Praveen came in from Chicago, Peter came in from Czech Republic
Chris dialing into the webex
The e-mail to the users saying 'we are live.'
Rich getting the mail ready to send
Jen and I.

Will, Anthony and Vinay on the webex video
Getting ready to hit send on the email

All hands in when we hit SEND 3.2.1.go
Champagne
As we hit send on the e-mail to all users, we popped a few corks and celebrated.  We still have a TON of work to do to support the users and fix unexpected bugs, but today was a HUGE milestone for our project.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

another goodbye card...

One of my co-workers recently got a promotion and starting next week, will be sitting at his new cubicle downstairs.   He is really a great kid.  One of the millennials that I pick on constantly.  He is not really a kid (31 now) but if you knew him you'd know why I call him a kid.  I started working with him about 7 years ago. He worked in the North America Quote Center and since I'm in corporate pricing, he would be part of some of the trainings I would conduct.  I knew he was a smarty pants when I attended a distributor regional meeting and he (and a few of  his co-workers) each had a tiny slot on the agenda to present.  He was fabulous.  Quirky, funny, self-depreciating, but he got his message across perfectly and engaged the audience.  I also knew he was a star performer because he always asked the tough questions (meaning he thought beyond the basics) and he was the go-to person in his dept.  A few years ago there was an opening in our group and my boss asked me who I thought would be a good candidate.  I immediately thought of Josh and and recommended him.  My boss wasn't convinced this 'kid' could step up and take on the new challenge but I encouraged both of them.

Now Josh, a few years ago was a shy Jewish boy who lived at home with his parents.  His father is a meek guy and his mother is a force.  He has several sisters and is the baby of the family.  He was a few pounds overweight, showed up at work in a t-shirt and baseball cap and worked his butt off.  For the interview with my boss, he went out and bought a white button down shirt.  He showed up with it on, with all the fold wrinkles still in place.  I think he opened it out of the bag that morning and just threw it on.  He had a jacket and when he went into the interview he asked Rich, should I wear the jacket or no.  That was the kind of kid he was.  He got the job and it's been great to see him step up and grow in his skills and knowledge.  He lost some weight (about 30 pounds), learned how to wear a button down shirt and never once showed up with a jacket.  His baseball cap still comes with him EVERY DAY, but instead of wearing it, he holds it in his hands or keeps it by his computer.  It's like his security blanket.  He shows up for work at like 6:30am and I hear he wears the cap until others arrive around 7:30/8:00.  He is a huge asset to our group and he will be missed.  He now will go back to the Quote Center only this time as the supervisor.  He is ready for this next challenge and I know he'll be great.

My favorite Josh story is the time I was at my cube and sneezed.  He sits two cubes away from me.  I get an instant message 'Bless you.'  I just busted up laughing.  Millennials and their texting!

I just started a bible study this fall on Joshua and sometimes tell him 'be strong and courageous' since that is a theme from the Joshua passage. Since he's Jewish, we share a lot of knowledge of old testament and it's 'fair game' for conversation.  I didn't have a verse from Joshua directly as a stamp, but I had this Deuteronomy verse and since it's the same theme, thought it perfect for him.



I wrote some lovely words on the inside of the card.  I hope that he can read them.  My handwriting has gotten more and more unreadable over the years and most things I hand write, can't be understood.  But I tried to be legible and hope he gets the encouraging message.

They had started moving his things yesterday and already I was sad.  He helps me a lot.  He knows a ton and is the go-to person for many of us when we need help with excel, data from our current research system or really anything.  I thought I lost my car keys the other day and he was right there looking around the area for them.  His sister's trained him right!  We already are joking that Aaron, who sits just next to Josh will have to take over as the 'new Josh.'  Already Aaron helped me with something in MS word.  Someone always has to fill that role of the 'go to person.'  Aaron is great too.  He just started last spring, and he too is a bright star on the rise!.  It's fun to watch young talent succeed!

Thanks for visiting my blog today and make it a great day!