Saturday, December 31, 2011

So Long, 2011!

2011 has been a great year for us with lots of new and exciting things happening.  Here's a rundown:


  • Ethan and I started Kindermusik class.  He's gone from being a sleepy baby on my lap to an active participant over the past year.  


  • We took Ethan on his first road-trip -- to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  It was a very long drive but Ethan was a real trooper.  We even had a couple of warm and sunny days.  
  • I also took Ethan to the Nashville zoo for the first time (it was my first visit there too).  


  • Ethan took his first Arizona.  We also went to the Grand Canyon (Cayne's first time there, too) and other National Parks and Monuments on our way to Tucson.  


  • Ethan went to his first wedding (in Arizona).  He danced the night away at the reception until his bedtime and had a blast.  
  • I gave a talk at the ASIP Career Development Lunch on Effective Poster Presentations at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting.  It was a great experience and was also my first ever night away from Ethan.  


  • We joined our first ever CSA.  We loved our weekly box of vegetables and can't wait to participate again next year.  
  • We went to a First Birthday Party for our niece, Mackenzie.  Ethan had no idea what was going on but we were happy to get to spend the special day with family.  
  • I took Cayne to his first ever Jimmy Buffett concert.  I don't think he's a parrothead yet, but he did enjoy it.  


  • I took Ethan swimming for the first time -- he loved it!  I can't wait until next summer when he should do some serious splashing!
  • We also had our first professional family pictures taken.  Ethan has changed so much since then but we love looking at these cute photos of our baby. 


  • Ethan's first two teeth came in at the same time! He still only has four teeth.  


  • We took Ethan on a day trip to Chattanooga to see the Tennessee Aquarium.  He loved the penguins and he was a wonderful traveler!  


  • We got to see my sister get married at the Belmont Mansion in an beautiful and intimate ceremony with family.  
  • I took Ethan and Cayne on their first trip to Disney World and Grandma & Grandpa Wade, Aunt Sarah and Uncle Nathaniel came along too.  


  • Ethan went trick-or-treating for the first time, with his cousin, Mackenzie.  He dressed up as Bamm Bamm Rubble.  
  • Ethan turned 1!  It's still hard to believe it's already been over a year since we brought our baby home as happy, nervous, exhausted, and scared parents.  Sadly, we are still happy, nervous, exhausted, and scared...but mostly we are happy.  


  • We took a road trip so that Ethan (and Cayne) could meet his great-Grandma Poteet (my dad's mom).  It was a long drive to Illinois but as usual, Ethan was a real trooper and he had fun playing with his great-grandma.  


  • Ethan started walking!  It is so cute to see our little guy moving around on two feet.  
  • I went to San Antonio to interview for a job with Susan G Komen for the Cure.  I'm very happy to say that I was offered the position and will be starting to work for this great organization in January.  
  • Ethan met Santa Claus and loved him!  No tears for Santa for our little least not yet!
  • Christmas with two toddlers at the grandparent's house was priceless.  

Ethan is sad to see 2011 come to an end.  

We hope that all our friends and family had as much fun in 2011 as we did and we hope for all the best for everyone in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Project Management Certification

While thinking about beginning a more aggressive job search a couple of months ago, I kept running into a "preferred qualification" for a number of the positions that looked interesting:  project management coursework or PMP certification.  Interestingly, even though I've been managing projects and/or programs for years, I had never considered taking any formal training in actual project management (graduate school was definitely training in project management, but in a very different way).  Cayne has worked with project managers and encouraged me to find a course in project management to learn more about it -- he thought it could only help me learn new ways to do what I like doing anyway and that it might even help me find a job.

I found a course through the PMI (Project Management Institute) website that was a 4-day long course of study here in Nashville by a company called  I was a little nervous about the course, knowing nothing about the provider other than that they are a certified provider with PMI.  Well, the class was a small group but the people who were there were taking it as professional development for their employers:  Vanderbilt and other businesses in the area...most of whom had colleagues at their workplace who had taken the same course previously and gave good feedback.  That bit of information made me much more confident about the course.

The class was really good.  It was a grueling schedule going from 8am-almost 6pm Monday through Thursday but somehow the instructor managed to keep things interesting and entertaining.  We also had 1-2 hours of homework each night!  I learned a lot and felt very confident about passing the project management certification exam after completing the course (the course I took came with a money back guarantee that you would pass the certification).  I really liked that while we were taught exam-taking tips, we also received lots of real-world scenarios and advice.

I took my exam a week after the class finished at the Prometric testing center in Nashville.  The PMP (project management professional) certification exam is a 4.5 hour exam of 200 questions.  I felt like I did pretty well but there were definitely questions I was unsure about how well I answered.  In the end, I found out that I had passed and that I am "proficient" (the highest rating) in Initiating and Closing projects, "moderately proficient" in Planning and Executing projects, and unfortunately, I'm "below proficient" in Monitoring projects.  Well, at least I know where I need more work!

My next step is to complete an online Six Sigma Greenbelt course that was included with my classroom prep course that will help me earn some of the continuing education requirements for maintaining my PMP certification.  I'm excited to learn a little more about Six Sigma concepts.

In short, I would definitely recommend's 4-day Project Mangement classroom prep course for someone interested in an intense study of project management concepts.  It's a high level overview with practical advice, and definitely helpful toward passing the PMP certification exam.  In fact, it is probably the most insightful and practical management course I've taken...most likely because it's the one that relates closely to what I've been doing in my career while integrating important management concepts.  I'm really happy I took it and really glad I passed my PMP certification exam.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Photos

Merry Christmas, everyone!  
We had a wonderful day and hope you did too!

Mom, I don't want to go home to and have to go to bed.  I want to play!

Christmas Eve 2011

On Christmas Eve, we had fun playing in the yard and enjoying the warm weather:  

Then Daddy continued the tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas at bedtime.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Buzzy Bee

There is a reason some toys are classics:

We caught Ethan having fun with his Buzzy Bee!  

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Birthday Pressies!

Last week, Ethan received a box full of birthday pressies from his New Zealand relatives.  This gift opening experience was good practice for Christmas!  He got a Buzzy Bee, lots of Animalz, a cool balloon ball, an awesome hand-knitted sweater and some other cute things.  He even got to talk with his "Marg" on Skype while opening the gifts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Talking with Santa

We took Ethan to see Santa Claus today and Ethan LOVED it!  I was nervous he might not like being handed to a stranger (even a very friendly, Santa stranger) but he turned right to Santa and pointed at his beard, smiling and laughing.  He was so mesmerized by Santa that he didn't want to look at the camera for a photo.  When he finally did look at the camera, he seemed annoyed at being distracted so he stopped smiling.    As soon as Santa caught his attention again, he was all smiles.  This is much better than last year when he slept through the whole experience!  I'm sure he told Santa what a good little boy he has been...and how good his mommy and daddy have been too!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dickens of a Christmas

In front of the Franklin Square

We took Ethan to downtown Franklin for the Dickens of A Christmas street festival today.  It was chilly (46 degrees) but still sunny and nice for strolling through downtown.  We saw a handbell choir, a harpist, clarinet player and other musicians as well as Scrooge (a reformed Scrooge saying "Merry Christmas"), the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and many other characters in Victorian costume.  The oddest sighting was Cayne's favorite -- it looked like a wedge of cheese in a Santa hat.  We never could figure out why it was there.

Ethan really enjoyed people-watching while we walked around and babbled to anyone who would listen.  He also got to try his first piece of a doughnut -- he loved it and kept trying to get more!

Munching on one of Ellie's Old Fashioned Donuts...YUM!

Watching the horse-drawn carriage go by.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Trains at Cheekwood

We took Ethan to Cheekwood to see the model trains at Trains! Tennessee In G.  The weather was perfect -- sunny and warm for December and we had a lot of fun strolling around the park.  Ethan really enjoyed seeing the moving trains that were decorated for Christmas and the Christmas tree decorations in the Frist Center were neat too.  You can see a You-Tube video describing the train exhibit here.  He even got to hear the Nashville Philharmonic Flute Ensemble...Ethan didn't know what to think of the live music but he was definitely mesmerized by it.

"Mom, I think there's a train coming!"
"I just want to watch the trains...forget about these photos!"

Ethan enjoyed the tall Bamboo

This was one of the best-decorated trees.
They were all neat but a little strange.  
There was a tepee as part of the
American West Exhibition too.  Fun! 

Perpetrating stereotypes with Mommy.