Monday, April 27, 2009

And Wharton Begins (it's long, but worth it!)

We flew into SFO in the morning, took BART to the hotel and checked into our room. We then had our last feast before the famine (seriously) at The Tadich Grill (California's oldest and longest running restaurant). It was divine! When we were finished with our fabulous meal, we walked to the outdoor markets and the outdoor farmer's markets along Ferry Plaza. This is where my brother (and his wife and two sons) picked us up.
We drove around for a while, and after realizing that everybody and their dog and their fish and their great-aunt Sally had taken every parking space available in Golden Gate Park, we went to Plan B: The Legion of Honor. We found parking there! The exhibits were fabulous --and after we took pictures of Golden Gate Bridge (great view!).
By then we headed to Fremont (where my brother lives) and we had a good time making dinner (and I had an even better time holding my 6 week old nephew!). Brandon and I had to leave by 8:30PM, though, since we needed to get back to our hotel via BART. Which we did. And called it a night.

Pictures of Saturday:

This day was the reason we had come!

And I'm not even sure how I should blog about it.

I mean, Saturday was pretty straight-forward --all chronological and fun and what-not. But Sunday? I'm not sure how to describe everything. I don't even know where to begin, really. However, I need to try because I really want to remember this weekend and what I learned and who I met and what it meant to both Brandon and me.
Frankly, it was amazing. 95 (94? 96?) students were there to begin their first week of classes. The diversity in ethnicity and gender is across the board --and almost 60? or 65? spouses/partners were there for the orientation. Here's an idea of how diverse the group was:
*Some had several degrees --some had just an undergraduate (like Brandon).
*The degrees were varied: law, economics, computer science, business, statistics, finance, etc.
*One was from Korea, and one was from France (although the man from Korea has moved to the Bay Area for school and the man from France is living in Seattle with his wife and kids).
*Only 30-35% had children.
*But about 70% or so were married.
*There were several from Washington State and the Los Angeles area; 2 from Utah (and only 2 Mormons, from what I gathered); one from Las Vegas, another one (or more?) from Arizona, and at least 50-60% from the Bay Area (I'm sure there were other places, but I don't remember them --but they are all in the "West"ern USA, so...).
*I didn't speak to anyone much about religion (just answered a few questions), but it was obvious the religions were as diverse as the ethnicity and education backgrounds. Which was AWESOME!

I honestly believe the diversity was my favorite part. I loved it.

They started the day out with lunch and mingling, introductions into the program and to some professors, a panel of recent Wharton West EMBA graduates (well, they graduate in a few weeks), and then we split up. The partners had free time and then our own Tea, and the students started class. We came back together for dinner later that night (I guess it was last night! Wow. Feels like last week for some reason...).
The partners were incredible.
That's the best way to describe them --honestly. Here are some examples of people I met:
*Camille --the other Utah wife who is also expecting a baby this summer. I'm so happy to know her and have a friend like her who will not only understand what it is like being the wife of someone in the EMBA program, but who will understand everything I'm about to live (being a minority religion in the program, having another baby this summer, being from Utah, etc.)!
*Michelle --a wonderful woman who lived in NYC and attended school in England, who adores the Opera and Ballet, and takes cooking classes for fun, but wants more than anything to have a baby.
*Jules --a beautiful woman who received her EMBA from UC-Davis last year, who is originally from NYC, is Jewish, has two children, and has the kindest eyes.
*Blythe --the wine expert (I think she's a writer for a wine magazine? Maybe?) who lives in The City (SF).
*Gina --the gorgeous woman (seriously, she has to be a model) who is about to have her second child in 6 weeks.
*Kads --A mother of two (the youngest is 2 months old) who honestly believed that nobody else in the program would have small children and was thrilled to meet three pregnant women and learn that the oldest child over-all was only 11 years old.
*Cheyene --The economist who owns her own company and has two children.
*Grace --the Stanford graduate from China who works for Google.
*Joe --the only one who asked me straight up if I was "LDS" and whose girlfriend (I don't think they were married) was the brilliant Russian student.

And this is just a handful! Aren't they amazing? I was so happy to meet so many intelligent, well-spoken, kind-hearted, and supporting spouses/partners. It never felt awkward (not once) and nobody was afraid to ask questions, or re-introduce themselves throughout the day. What impressed me the most was how inclusive Wharton West is with spouses. They genuinely want us around and need our support. The professors talked ad nauseum about trying to find the right balance between the three Huge Responsibilities: Work, School, and Home. Just the fact that they recognize how important this familial support should be speak volumes about the school. I'm very impressed, dear reader.

Also, Brandon loved his first day. I can't speak for him, but I know he was excited about everything and even the "hard stuff" (and holy crap, this program is going to seriously kick his mental butt --he is going to have to work hard!) is going to be do-able. I know this because he woke up at 4:30AM (CA time) this morning for more studying.

The man is dedicated, you know.

Plus, he's used to this juggling act. I honestly believe that the Church does a fabulous job teaching our youth skills earlier on than most --and in ways that will benefit long-term. Brandon already knows what it's like to wake early every day to study. He already knows what it's like to juggle family and work and church callings and studying. I really think he's going to do fine because of this --he already has it figured out. Does this mean it will be easy? No way. But it's possible. And I have nothing but peace when I think about it...

Oh! Funny stuff --the only thing that bothered me about this weekend was the reaction I received from everybody when they realized I was not, in fact, having my first child.
I tried to avoid it when I could.
But I couldn't.
At all!
And soon everybody knew anyway.
The conversations would go like this:
"When are you due?"
"August 2nd"
"Wonderful! Congratulations!"
"Thank you!"
"Is this your first?"
Internal sighing and mental/emotional preparation for the reaction.
"It's our fifth."
"Yeah." Smile.
And then they'd either be completely speechless or rattle on awkwardly for a bit. But by the end of the exchange, they would see I wasn't defensive (or offensive) about it, and we would both leave with admiration for each other. I was surprised at how many women just stared at me in awe --maybe like I was a Duggar? Probably.
Shoot! I hope they admire Duggars...
Oh, well.
In fact, we're a commodity in the Wharton Class 35, you know. Our children outnumber all the others by two.
Soon to be three.
They had a list of all the students, and on it they listed the spouses names, children's names, and ages. Nobody has more than two children (although our Utah buddies will have their third this summer. She got a lot of crazy exchanges, too!). We have four on the list.
And thus, no surprises from me about the reactions. I mean, I lived in the Bay Area for a year, you know --with four children. I'm already used to the stares, the comments, the accusations, the shocked expressions...
But all in all, it was awesome. The whole experience has me very, very, very excited for my husband, and for me! I love the new friends I met and I can't wait to see them again at further Wharton partner/family activities.

(Sorry, no pictures! I forgot to take some, darn it...)

NEWS: My Glucose test came back negative --no gestational diabetes. I asked the nurse what to do and she said "take care of yourself."
We'll see what happens at my ultrasound in three weeks...


Kelly said...

This will be one of the greatest investments in your future (you know, second to the Temple marriage and what not).

When my husband went to Wharton, many moons ago, I was very young and had a six week old baby and stressed so much about how freaky that would seem to everyone. And how wrong was I. The spouse/family support is huge, one of the first pieces of literature we got was info from the Wharton Wives and Kids club. They are so great about recognizing the life balance. (Ok, the encouragement is nothing but lip service near the end of the semester, but they acknowledge that too!)

What saved my bacon in the freaky category was the Non LDS/Non Catholic family on their 5th child who CHOSE to live in the dorms. No one cared about the teen bride (really 24) with the new baby after that. Maybe you'll be able to find yourself one of those to take the pressure off? :)

Good luck. You are so LUCKY!

Anonymous said...

When people found out I had three kids, they'd gasp and say I must have my hands full. Probably because there's nothing else to say in that situation. But you could tell they were astonished, and I'd think, "Dude, it's only three." Now we have four kids (and no more!), and people think that's astonishing, too, but dude, it's only four. And they're all different ages. If they were all under five, that'd be different.

Good luck with Wharton!

flip flop mama said...

Good luck with everything! Brandon is lucky to have such a supportive wife through all of this.

When people ask me what number I'm pregnant with and I say #2 they always say, "Oh you got your boy and your girl. You're done after this one, right?" Um, probably not. I don't know why having more than 2 kids is such an issue.

Emily & Co. said...

SO EXCITING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good luck w/everything!!!!!!!!! We'll have to come visit when I'm visiting my family in Modesto! :)

Gio, Judi and Boys said...

Sounds like it was amazing. That is what I love about leaving Utah, the diversity! And California has a lot of it.
Brandon is lucky to have you be there by his side. He will do great and you and your kids will too!
Where in Fremont does your brother live? That is where I lived from age 5 to almost 19 when we moved here to Utah.
Maybe now that I have the Jet Blue job I can go and check it out. I haven't been there since 1985.
Glad the glucose test went well, I'm sure that is a relief. Just think, in two more weeks you can sit back and put your feet up.
Also, when is the baptism for #1 on May 2nd at 10 AM? I'll try to be there is I can!!!!

Amanda D said...

I'm so glad to hear that there is no gestational diabetes. What a relief!

Your weekend sounds great and like others said, good luck!

Janelle said...

So sad to have missed you.

Next time!