Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back in the Saddle

It's a perfect 70 degree fall day. The sun is bright, the sky is solid blue, the leaves are rustling, and I'm sitting under the umbrella on my back deck eating a hawaiian chicken sandwich and drinking an Izze Sparkling Clementine. Ahh... life is good. Life is also busy and I am thrilled for the opportunity to update family and friends on the latest happenings in our family. I know I haven't blogged in awhile, but I'm getting back in the saddle. So hang on to your hats folks... this is gonna be a long post. :)

At the beginning of the month I started a new adventure as I became the new Showroom Manager for Teknion, an international designer/manufacturer of commercial furniture. I worked in this industry before my ministry days and when this position became available, I couldn't pass it up. There are a variety of reasons I chose to step out of professional ministry, all of which revolve around a healthier personal and family balance and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity God provided for me. One of the greatest benefits of this is that I don't work on the weekend anymore so I am able to attend the campus where Zach leads worship. For all of last year I was pretty much completely absent from Zach's ministry and campus due to my role at a different campus. Although I miss numerous people and teammates from my time there, I am so happy our family is finally united in one place!

Sunday mornings are quickly becoming my favorite part of the week as I get the opportunity to read, work out, sip some coffee or tea in front of my fireplace and then ATTEND church with Zach at 11. ELEVEN people! Thank you Lord. It also allows me to be more present with Allie on the weekends and give her maximum church time since she loves going to church and meeting new people. Another huge blessing. I am SO proud of her for how well she navigates new environments and isn't afraid to talk to people she doesn't know. She is so confident and bold and it just... makes me all ooey gooey proud inside.

Now about the new job... many people have asked, "So what exactly do you do? Like... what is a showroom manger?" So here's my job description in a nutshell:
1. I'm a house manager
Similar to a house manager at a large house or estate, I simply manage the showroom. The showroom is where we showcase a sample of our products. Since everything is custom and made to order, the space provides a basic representation of the main product lines and the general quality of Teknion products. It's my job to keep the space in tip-top shape. This requires me to constantly be coordinating various vendors who service our space. If something is wrong with the sound or video in the conference room, I schedule the AV guys to come fix it. If the door bell stops working, I call the electrician. If the placemats need dry-cleaning, I schedule the pick up and so on. I also have to maintain all of our inventory of brochures and finishes (which is a lot) and stock the kitchen (which is fun). Basically, I'm a professional organizer/online shopper and Amazon Prime's #1 customer. Haha!
2. I'm a concierge
Since this is the only showroom in the southeast, we regularly have out-of-town visits from other Teknion teammates and clients. Sometimes this requires me to make hotel reservations, dinner reservations, call cabs, etc etc.

I also get to create fun things like welcome baskets for out-of-town guests and really anything I think would enhance the experience.
3. I'm an event planner and experience designer
The showroom is mainly used for client visits and events. In both cases I am responsible for food/beverage and general prep of the space. Larger events (such as our upcoming chili cook-off) require a lot more attention since I get to design the experience. From invitations to decor to menus and gifts, I am up to my eyeballs in details to make the event special, unique, and professional.

4. I'm a resource for the region
I also support all the district managers in the southeast region. This involves everything from me shipping out brochures/finishes when needed, helping them get product questions answered, to even designing the holiday client gifts. This involves a number of other creative projects I have in the hopper to help our region reach new heights in serving our clients.
So yeah... that's basically what I do. And it keeps me REALLY busy. But I love it. I love working in such a beautiful, bright space everyday in the city. The showroom is located in a part of Atlanta called Atlantic Station which is kinda midtown, kinda westside. It's one of those live-work-play developments that have mid-rise office buildings among shops, restaurants, movie theater, gym, etc with condos above. I love working in this area due to the pedestrian quality of life and immediate access to pretty much anything you would need. The one big downside to this location is the commute from where we live. It's pretty rough (usually an hr, sometimes more), but in the long run... I think this change of pace is good for me and provides some much needed structure.

Oh- and I also get to travel! I love traveling and haven't been able to do much of it in recent years. Next month I will be traveling to Toronto for a week (Teknion is a Canadian company) for new hire training. In December, I'll be going to San Francisco for some additional hands-on training, South Beach in January for our regional meeting, and the NJ/Philly in February for more training. I am so thankful for my great boss who believes in me and Teknion for wanting to equip me with skills and knowledge to excel in my role. So much to be thankful for including earning Skymiles! :)

My new job has kept me so busy that I have had ZERO time to invest in the care package biz. I guess I'm kinda on hiatus with it right now as I settle into my new groove and work-life balance. Another great part of my job is that the showroom is a place Zach and Allie can be. It's not like a typical office that would be weird to have your family hanging out in. Ha! This is a major blessing and makes this transition doable given our irregular schedule with Allie. And speaking of our sweet Al, we had an awesome week with her for fall break this month.

As usual, here are the deets on our time together!

Allie turns 14 next month. 14. We can hardly believe it and we know that every second of our time together is important. She's growing up SO fast. One thing that's hard for me is managing our time well. What I mean is... when Allie is here I want to do a hundred fun things and make incredible memories and try new things, basically squeeze 6 months worth of fun stuff into a week's time, but sometimes... what needs to happen (and what Allie really needs most) is some down time. Quiet time. Time just hanging out on the sofa doing nothing or sitting in her room for a little while reading, drawing, etc. We are constantly in prayer over her and asking God to reveal to us what she needs and how we can parent her well to prepare her for young adulthood. Although we had a ton of important conversations and interactions over fall break, here are the highlights from all the fun stuff. :)

Goofing off at church with costumes left over from a recent series.

This week provided a lot of much needed daddy time.

A few of their daddy-daughter activities included walking the prayer trail...

exploring Atlanta (eating at Parish after getting a haircut)...
and shopping at Rag-o-rama, the most hipster second-hand store you've ever seen. Ha!

Before going to our friend's house for dinner, I had to get a pic of Allie in her new palazzo pants I found last month. Thanks Nana for hemming them! She LOVES flowy pants and looks absolutely adore in them.

Speaking of clothing, Allie and I took a shopping trip one afternoon to Mall of Georgia. Surprisingly, we rarely go shopping. I am kinda... Allie's personal shopper. Haha What I mean is, in order to find things she likes (as inexpensively as possible) I usually online shop for her based off what she has told me she likes and her Pinterest boards. When she is here, she has a variety of things to try on, see what fits, and decide what she wants to keep or return. This has been really helpful in getting some great deals and not being at the mercy of current inventory and prices, however... it does remove the fun out of shopping together. So... I surprised Allie with a little, modest shopping trip.

I'm still getting use to being on this side of the dressing room... the waiting area side!

 Altar'd State, one of Allie's favorite stores, just opened at this mall and I was so happy she was able to explore it. Altar'd State is a christian company with a brand reminiscent of Anthropologie.

In the sale area we were back to back and both exclaimed we had found the cutest dress. When we turned around we were holding the same one! Haha!
 Isn't the back adorable?
After finding a few pieces she just couldn't live without :), we topped off our day with seasonal donuts from KK. Just a little splurging happening here... :)

We had planned to spend Thursday - Saturday up in the mountains, but before leaving town Allie wanted to go to student ministry at our church. Again, so proud of her for wanting to be a part and just.. jumping in even though she isn't here every week. They had a great night of worship and even finished the night out by gathering in the courtyard and singing outside.  It was really a pretty special moment.
And so was our time in Lake Junaluska and the surrounding area. We love this part of the country and are so blessed to have a house here.

Leaves crunching under my boots. I luurve it.
On Friday we headed to Hendersonville for our annual apple picking. Our faithful Charlotte friends (the McDermott's) came again too which made the occasion even more special.

On a mission.
 A girl and her basket.
 Such a gorgeous landscape- orchard in the front, mountains in the back.
 Daddy-daughter apple hunting.

The orchard shop is full of ready to buy apples, pumpkins, gourds, and a variety of homemade spreads, sauces, and jams. 
McDermott family!

Three Musketeers.
Even though Allie loves searching for apples and climbing trees to get them, I'm pretty certain her favorite part is eating the apple cider donuts. :)

They girls also enjoy checking out the animals and exploring the bamboo forest.

On our way back to the lake, we took the most beautiful drive. The leaves were already the most beautiful combo of colors.
We also stumbled upon a little gem in the Pisgah National Forest that was SO perfect for Zach - Crank Coffee. It's a bike shop and coffee shop in one. :)
Friday night Allie had a sleepover with Emma and the girls spent their time doing what normal teenage girls do -

Drinking cider while working on a puzzle..

 Playing go fish...

 and watching a movie. :)
I am so thankful for these friends in Allie's life and that they are close enough to see each other throughout the year.
After returning from our trip to NC, Allie and I rounded out the weekend by doing some serious fall-inspired baking at home. Every year we make "jam up" cookies- almond oatmeal cookies that are filled with apple cinnamon jam. It's a tradition and all three of us love these "fancy pop tarts" as Zach calls them. Ha! This year, we did the cookies and threw in some cinnamon roll muffins and experimented with gluten free pumpkin donuts. (Is it just me or does it seem like we ate A LOT of donuts this week? I swear we had healthy food too! Haha)

 Adding the cinnamon swirl to the muffin batter...
 The special ingredient for jam up cookies - jelly from our favorite orchard!
 Smelling so good!
 Everything turned out great! The donuts were my least favorite and most difficult due to our lack of gluten free/ donut baking experience, but they were still pretty good.
On Sunday we took a sample of our goodies to church and shared them with Zach's team of volunteers. Everything was gobbled up and next time... I think we need to bring a lot more. :)

We are so proud of Allie and the young woman she is becoming and are so incredibly grateful for all our answered prayers. God is faithful and he has such a special plan for her life. We can't wait to celebrate her birthday next month and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday together. Stay tuned for more updates from the Kales!