Friday, January 24, 2020

Mike got a job and other updates

So this has been quite a week! The amount of things happening since my last post totally deserved an update.

About two weeks ago Mike had a phone interview with a company he applied with in November for a job he was quite overqualified for. He never heard anything about it and put it in the pile of "ah well, it was worth a try". They emailed him to see if he was happy to talk to them about a possible job. The phone interview was scheduled shortly after and it became clear they thought his skills were very suited to another job they were now advertising. The phone call went very well and a week after he had a face to face interview. The job would be quite a new thing for him as he will move away from hands on work in a lab to a more managerial role to be a reference point with the headquarters which is based in San Diego. So, while German is very important, clearly being english mother tongue is quite an advantage. They told him they would let him know within a couple of weeks but on tuesday they called him and offered him the job! Massive celebration all around, major sense of relief  for me and part of my current anxiety around the fact that if something should happen to me, now that Mike has a permanent job at least they can all keep living here (I know..I know...).

On the same friday as Mike's interview, we had the appointment with Oliver to the psychologist for the evaluation of ADD, possible traits of autism and giftedness. We really really liked the therapist, she spoke very good english and had a great approach to probing Oliver's emotions. She had him do a non verbal test (because the others are in German and clearly Oliver would not be sufficiently fluent to be meaningful), and despite being a friday afternoon, after a whole week that he had the flu with high temp etc, and a persistent annoying cough, Oliver scored >130 (not a genius but clearly above average). She strongly recommended for him to do the full test to properly evaluate the giftedness level, this can be done in english at the hospital in the children neuropsychology department. We have been referred and while it won't be quick to have an appointment at least we are now in the system. She said there is no trait whatsoever of ADD (he never lost concentration in the test despite the coughing) or autism. He is just very clever, when he loses interest in school it's because he actively disengages (as opposed to not being able to keep paying attention). She said it's a pity we didn't do this when it was suggested to us back in Ireland, apparently one of the major risks for these children is that they give up after a while, because they just get too bored. Anyway, hopefully now we can find a way so that he is properly challenged and this should help in turn to relax him and make him feel more fulfilled.

This is almost all. I am falling back into my obsessive health anxiety, i hate it so so much, winter sports help but then as I am in my office I enter the awful loops. I've started taking CBD and see if it helps a little. As usual I have (or imagine, i can't tell for sure of course) a symptom of some vague nature somewhere in the body which becomes my obsession and it's a clear sign of something ominous. I know so well how insane this sounds, I must have had 3 or 4 different lethal conditions in the last couple of months... I need help. I fear the only help will be medications.

Heather, still no joy in posting to your blog (or others...though i see some have comments so I have no idea why just mine are eaten up!), I'd love to be in touch, my email is visible, would love to hear from you and at least I can comment to you directly on your updates.

Hugs to all

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A new decade has begun

I was really hoping to write a post to wrap up 2019 but clearly it has not happened... so I'll do it here and now, at the beginning of this new decade. So many posts on facebook have appeared showing all that people went through in the last ten years...mostly families getting bigger. I suppose it was the same for me, the 2000-2009 period saw me getting married for the second time and begin the quest for a family which of course had more downs than up in that time. IVF, two ectopic pregnancies, surgeries, so so much heartache.
Then 2010-2019 has given me two children, three relocations with two job changes and life in three different countries. Significant also has been the steady decline in my relationship with my husband which I am now just accepting as the norm. Maybe this new decade will bring some changes there because I don't feel that old yet that I have to just give up on happiness (for which really there is no age anyway).

I remember my post at the beginning of 2019 was quite loaded with anxiety and expectations, it all went well for me, it has been a great year, specially on the work front. I feel with the move to Switzerland I'm living the dream. I love everything about my job, the new students, the colleagues, the unthinkable options I now have available. I also stopped thinking it was a major amount of luck that brought me here, I know it was not a gift but actually a ton of hard work with very little external help (reading: I had nobody pushing me or my career, ever) and I am very very proud of what I have achieved. The luck has been in meeting exceptionally talented young researchers that worked with me on my ideas, brought in their own, grew as scientists and developed a work ethic which is impeccable. I am so so proud of them and incredibly thankful.

2020 has for me less anxiety to start with (I'm sure I'll get my fair share soon enough), but as no major changes are planned, at least I do not have to elaborate on all possible negative scenarios.

The children are well, have settled in school and we finally are getting some attention for Oliver's behaviour which, while I can safely say it has improved, still is extremely challenging at times. On suggestion of the school, he will soon be tested for giftedness and with that also for ADD. It seems that children can show traits of ADD if giftedness is not spotted on time. If I think about the amount of times we seeks professional help and never got anywhere I feel quite defeated. In fairness the first neuropsychologist in Ireland where we went when he was not even 5, suggested to test him for high intelligence too, but that would have then implied going to special schools and we didn't do it. Here the normal public school he is attending now would have a programme for gifted children every wednesday. Let's see how that goes. He turned 9 on the first of January. He can be such a lovely child, but when he gets into his oppositional mode he is capable of saying unspeakable things which totally push my buttons and never ends well.
Martina is a lovely girly girl, so super caring and thoughtful, she suffers a lot when Oliver is in one of his tantrums, but she is very easy going and forgiving (unlike me clearly).

Mike has not yet found a job, hopefully the new year will bring something for him too, but it is very very tough of course as I would expect he at least used all his free time to engage with the children and build a relationship, but no...he is not that different with them from how his parents must have been with him and this is not working out.

Finally, I still can't seem to get my comments to any of the blogs I read... Heather if you are reading my blog still, please know I must have commented on almost all your posts but it seems that either you don't get the message that there is a new comment to approve or it is just lost in the web.

Hugs to you all and I wish you a great 2020.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Relocation completed

My dears,

I thought of updating the blog given the new life we have started in Switzerland as of last week. The move from Nottingham has been smooth and we have now settled in our new apartment about 10Km from the city. The commute is brilliant, I have a train every 15 min and we have decided not to buy a car for the moment as we don't need it.
The children have made already new friends with children living in the same complex as we are. It's incredible the difference...yesterday Oliver and Martina told me they were going with their bikes and their new friend (possibly 12 years old) to see the school where they will be going. Alone. I was definitely not comfortable with that, I mean... cycling on their own, out of sight, with no adult supervision? But this is how it is here, so so safe, children are independent very quickly, they know the rules (or so we hope). And so they went, and they were back maybe 15 min alter, all in one piece, even Martina had no problem in cycling uphill.

I feel like I'm on holidays still. I will try and post a bit more to at least keep this diary updated with the new first that will happen here. So far everyone loves it! 

This is the view from the back balcony of the apartment:

When we eat at the table it feels like we are in a postcard... 
And this is the view from the front of the house:

I will never get tired of the Alps!

Just one comment if any of you is still reading: I have been unable of posting on your blogs, I type my comments, they seem to be ok, but they never appear. I do not know what the problem is, I just want you to know I'm reading!

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 round up

As the last day of 2018 is swiftly moving along, I want to stop for a moment and express gratitude for all that this year has brought. From the work point of view it has for sure been exceptional, I have an amazing team that is dedicated to our research and achieved incredible results. The new job starting soon, what a rollercoaster that was and now I'm nearly nearly the place of my dreams in Switzerland.
From the family point of view it has been very much on the same sort of "chugging along" we have been for a while. I suppose it could be worse. We bought a house in Nottingham we now have to put back on the market after a renovation which was never-ending (still not fully finished), Brexit will not help, but it is what it is, let's hope not to lose too much.
Children have been very good, they are growing and many things have become easier, while new challenges have come to light. We have been through Oliver's saga in school, now finally closed for good, which was extremely stressful for us. I hope the children will quickly settle in Switzerland and we can start our new adventure.
Health-wise we have have been well, I went through my usual round of anxiety of deadly diseases, did all the checks I felt were needed, and I seem to be still doing well.

Tomorrow a new year will start, as always it brings anxiety for me, of the unknown, of the what if this year will be a bad one. I love 19. 19 is my favourite number so this year is loaded with expectations and it's unfair on anything, including a "brand new year" that still has to begin.

To my cyber friends, I wish you all the best for 2019, may it be interesting, full of laughters and adventures.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Next week is the week

The semester is over. I'm wrecked. I got excellent students' feedback on my lectures which is always uplifting and makes it all worth it. But still...I had a gruelling semester because I'm condensing almost all my teaching in the autumn term. And just as well.

Next week I'll be travelling from monday to friday, visiting two cities in Italy where I'm giving a lecture and then I'll go to the dream destination for final negotiation. I am hopeless at negotiation. HOPELESS. I really would pay someone to do it for me. I'm told they want me to have the best stat there as possible but my minimum request is way above the granted offer both for equipment and personnel... let's see how far I get. In fairness, I want this job so much that I'll take anything they give me (which is a terrible negotiating position to start with).

I have started sharing the news with some closest colleagues, they were all very sad to know I'm leaving but they were also so so happy for me and the dream job (which is not just my dream job, but it's objectively a stellar opportunity). I will remain closely affiliated for at least another 2.5 years so it's not that bad. Of course, having said that, it's a mystery what will happen with this damn Brexit the UK decided to bring upon itself. What a disaster.

In other news, FIL had a major accident at home, and after a miraculous recovery, he is now left incapable of feeding (has lost his swallowing reflex) and is definitely not self-sufficient. He is also not recognising his children or anyone. Mike and his sister are looking for a nursing home in Dublin. We will go visiting just after Christmas. Let's hope this situation won't drag on too long, because that is not a life worth living. Even the doctors apologised...but they had to do their job and save him of course.

I'll update on everything next week, send positive vibes on all fronts please!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Major news!

Well well well... in my last post I mentioned about the dream job that was shortlisted for but that unless of a miracle I was just not the best candidate.
Would you believe it, last week I got an email and I immediately recognised the sender of course. I was at a very important meeting in Brussels and thought "oh crap.... I so don't want to read this now..." but then I thought "ah what the hell, I better get this over with and focus on what I have rather than on what I don't have". The email read something like this:

Dear Fran,

it's been a while. I have some good news, unofficial as of now, but better to talk on the phone, can you take a call?

I was completely blocked for the whole day and it was only 9 am!! I could not leave or take a call, it was nerve wrecking..I though Ohhhhhh shit!! This can't be happening, this can't be happening...
I texted Mike and my parents, and of course emailed back to say I could only talk in the evening.
You can imagine my level of concentration for the rest of the day.

The call was amazing. I ranked as top candidate unanimously!! So while there is a set of technical procedures, the job is mine if I want it. IF I want it?? Can I sign a contract now??

So anyway, today I spoke with my group, they were all thrilled (I can take them all with me if they want to move), and I also mentioned it to my Head of School. I know most people will just pretend nothing is happening and they will just resign when the have to. But there are several things going on in work and my HoS is a great person that deserve honesty. He was great, he knew he could not compete with such an offer, it's not just my dream job, it would be a dream job for half the academics I know...

So onwards and upwards, new adventures on the horizon!

Monday, September 17, 2018


All of a sudden is already my birthday. Hello my virtual friends!

I wanted to post a nice update about the house renovation with pics etc, but we are still living in a building site without a kitchen... fun was gone by the time we came back from holidays a month ago and we won't have it for another 2 weeks...but we are nearly there.

Children have started school back again and they are delighted (I promise I will update soon on Oliver's saga which, would you believe it, it's still dragging on).

I went for a dream job interview during the holidays but while I would sell a kidney for it, I was not the perfect match and two other candidates fit better the job description, so unless of a miracle that is gone (but the process is very long, I won't hear for while a definite no). There's another good position going that I will apply for, and I'm also going for promotion this year. Work has gone quite well, one of those years where planets align and several very ambitious things have succeeded. So I'm going for it because it was really what I should have been offered 2 years ago when I joined this new Uni. I am telling myself that if I'm again caught in the bureaucracy of a broken system (not enough budget for the School, too soon to be promoted, etc), I'm packing up and enrol into a medicine degree which is what I should always have done. But that's not without other major consequences (assuming I'm not too old already and eligible).

My feelings in general are still very troubled. I feel very conflicted with Mike (who is his usual self, great person, great with the children, but zero ambition or drive to do much at all), I feel stuck, I day dream of other lives most of the time, but at times I dream of moving back the clock to when I felt happy with what I had. I need projects and plans...I'm one of those.

Health-wise we are all doing well, I had my usual anxiety about whatever, did all my checks, all is good. Till the next bout of anxiety. I am doing much better from that point of view but when anxiety strikes it's a beast. The one who is doing worst is Carlito the cat, who has not settled much in this new neighbourhood, the other cats are giving him a hard time, and on saturday he was hit by a kind neighbour took him to the vet where we found him today. He should have (one very expensive) surgery tonight, poor pet he looked miserable...but should be ok.

I read all your blogs, you that are still writing, but sometimes my messages to you don't get posted and I don't know why. Know that I'm there for you.