Monday, April 21, 2014

Five Pitfalls of the Home Office

A few weeks ago I wrote a pretty complimentary post about Adam and what an awesome marriage we have. That was all true.

However, just so you don't think our lives are always filled with butterflies, I'm giving you the other side today.

These are the things that drive me batty about having a husband that works out of a home office...with two toddlers who are home...and me, a mom who stays home. In other words, the things that drive me batty about having everyone home together, all day long.

I mean, this (and Starbucks) is MY office. Would it kill him to find a similar one from time to time?


So, in case you have ever wished that your hubby could ditch the long hours and commute, here are the pitfalls you need to be aware of.

5) He's in your business.

What are you doing? 

Did you guys not get dressed yet?

Why did they make such a mess?

You're going to Target again?

Is there a reason this is out?

I hate having to explain everything. We're going to Target because I forgot to get the ZipLocs yesterday, and we need an afternoon outing. They made a huge mess because they were playing quietly so I tried to get a few phone calls made. We didn't get dressed yet because I didn't feel like it. Get off my case.

And don't even get me started on the bathroom.

4) It adds to the mess.

You would think that two adults being home with two toddlers might help keep the house in check. No. No it does not.

I'd like to say for the record that he has never asked me to make him lunch, or a snack, or even breakfast. But if I'm cooking, I'll offer. And that's another set of dishes.

Or he makes his own breakfast, snack, lunch, glass of iced tea. And it adds to the dishes. And the general mess in the kitchen.

When Adam and I both worked outside the home, our kitchen had occasional bouts of messiness, but generally stayed clean. Now it is a train wreck all the time, simply because it's in use all the time. By the time I do the breakfast dishes, there are lunch dishes on the way. By the time I do those, the dinner prep dishes are heading in. And so on, and so on, and so on...

And don't even get me started on the bathroom.

3) There's no real privacy.

Yeah, I know. I'm a mom of toddlers. There isn't much privacy to begin with. But let's just say that I managed to get both girls in their rooms, napping or resting, for an hour.

Then my co-worker wants to chat. He wants to tell me about how this customer wanted this and this guy they're dealing with is an idiot and this guy had this happen.

I get it. He's alone in an office all day long, all of his colleagues present via phone and computer only. I am the adult he gets to personally interact with on a regular basis. So instead of wandering down to the office next door and sharing the story he read about news, or sports, or something that happened on a conference call, he wanders in while I'm watching my DVRed Chopped episodes.

I'm also incredibly self-conscious about certain things. Do not try to read what I'm writing, do not listen as I gossip with my friends on the phone, do not come downstairs if I'm trying to exercise. I don't want you to see the scrabble of words trying to turn themselves into a coherent essay, I don't want you to hear how gossipy I can get, and I do not want you to watch me trying to keep up with a cardio DVD. I don't want you to notice that even though I said I'm writing, it's Facebook open in my browser.

And don't get me started on the bathroom.

2) It get confusing for the girls.

Reagan might cling to me, but Madison is a Daddy's girl through and through. She loves Adam and everything about him. There is nothing she likes better than coming home from her morning activity with new information or a craft and bursting in his office to catch him up on what she's been up to.

When she's mad at me, for whatever reason, her first solution is to go to Daddy (who has, without fail, backed me up, but it doesn't stop her from trying). And though he's home, he's not available to play good cop.

Reagan adores everything forbidden about Daddy's office. She wanders around, picking up papers and dry erase markers and pushing buttons. Daddy's office has a lot of buttons.

And we haven't managed to be consistent yet. Sometimes Adam is happy to have them in there, but sometimes he can't allow them in. Sometimes he's fine with the household noise while he's on the phone, sometimes we need to pretend that he is working in an actual office where the loudest background noise you'd expect to hear on a conference call is typing. Sometimes he welcomes the interruptions and is more than happy to share breakfast and lunch with them, sometimes he can't be a part of their day until dinner.

And they are horribly confused. Most of the time, Madison gets the difference now. Door closed means Daddy can't be disturbed. We treat phone calls as quiet time unless told otherwise.

Reagan does not get that difference.

Not to mention that he occasionally stays on the phone as he comes down to the kitchen to refill his coffee, uses the bathroom, picks up receipts from one room and moves to another. Because it's a headset, it's not always noticeable, so they think that Daddy is ignoring them, when really, he's just trying to get through his day.

We also don't have a distinct Daddy's at work/Daddy's home delineation. Daddy might be working in his laptop before breakfast, or on a call after dinner. He doesn't have "hours", at least not that they understand.

But then he's available to play with them much longer in the morning than most dads with typical jobs are, and he's ready for dinner by 5:30.

1) When he's not there, we feel it.

Big time. 

When he travels, we don't just notice it at the beginning and end of the day. We feel it all day long.

Because for all the little annoyances, I don't think we'd choose to have it any other way.

For all my whining, I wouldn't trade this guy in. But husbands do make for some excellent story material.  Have you picked up a copy of the book yet? Pin It

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Worst. Party. Ever.


I can do this.

It's been a month now.

I can talk about Reagan's party.

Seriously. Poor Reagan. She's the second child who doesn't have a ton of her own friends yet. She's incredibly frustrated trying to communicate, and is always compared to her super chatty sister. She's the kid who runs boring errands with me while Madison is at dance/school/storytime.

She's the kid who doesn't even have a freaking birthday on the calendar for goodness sake.

So I felt like she needed a good birthday party. One that was different than what Madison had, one where she could run around, one where there could be a mix of kids that Reagan knew because they were Madison's friends, and a few friends of her own as well.

I booked her party at an indoor jungle gym facility. The store sells those giant wood playscapes (both the kinds you expect to see at homes and the giant pirate ships you might see at a preschool) and they open the store for play on the display models. They've got a bounce house, tons of Step2 stuff, a train's perfect for kids, especially kids who have just been through an endless winter.

Because this place is so popular, I couldn't get a spot her birthday weekend. Or the next weekend. I didn't think I'd procrastinated, but this place books up months in advance, and the best I could do was two weeks after her birthday. She's two - she doesn't care, but I already kind of felt bad.

Party day arrived and already I had a few strikes against me. I had to work in the church nursery that morning. Party time overlapped with naptime, so I needed to adjust the schedule. I was rushing around getting clothes ready, goody bags ready, naps started, food made from the moment I got up.

As I was getting in the car to go to church, I realized I hadn't eaten anything yet. I was so busy trying to get everyone else fed that I hadn't worried about me. Not unusual, but I was feeling a little off from having a completely empty stomach, so I stuffed a bagel in my purse and headed out to nursery.

The kids were unusually well behaved and were all involved in their own play, so I spent the majority of the time in the rocker. I never ate the bagel, but I didn't feel sick, so I didn't worry about it.

Got home, got the girls down, rushed back out for bottled water, packed up the goody bags, started loading the car, and realized that I still hadn't really eaten and was definitely feeling off. I mentioned to Adam that my blood sugar was probably low, and ate an apple. I felt better after that, so I loaded up the girls and off we went.

The party was ninety minutes long. Twenty minutes of play, pizza, thirty minutes of play, cake, rest of time for play.

Reagan was having a good time as I followed her around with my camera, but the "off" feeling had returned. Suddenly, despite the 30 degree weather, I was feeling a little flushed. A little queasy. I walked out to get a water bottle from the car, and the cool weather made me feel better, so I figured it was just hot in there. Lots of toddler activity, lots of running, a tiring day...who wouldn't feel off? I chatted with friends but sort of started counting the minutes that were left. I planned on going home, letting Reagan open her gifts, and crashing on the couch.

There was light at the end of the tunnel. They were arranging the kids for birthday cake. I snapped a picture of the cake and got Reagan settled. I assumed my position as photographer as all the parents and little friends started to sing.

But crouching down was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I broke out into a cold sweat. Through the camera lens, as everyone sang to Reagan, I started praying that she would blow out her candles quickly so I could take the picture and scoot outside for some air.

Reagan started to blow out her candles...

And I barfed all over the floor.

Let me be clear here so you can get a good picture in your mind. Sixteen kids sitting neatly at picnic tables surrounded by their parents. A completely open area space. I am front and center with the birthday girl. Everyone's eyes are on this magical moment.


You know that dream, where you are completely humilated, in public, with nowhere to hide?


I had extra clothes for the two year old. I had extra clothes for the three year old. I did not have any extra clothes for myself.

All the adults noticed, and were evenly divided on whether or not I was pregnant (yay!) or I'd just exposed all of them AND the precious children to the stomach bug (worst mother ever).

And we had a half hour of awkwardness left.

Because all the kids still had cake! And then they wanted to play! And the lovely party hosts had some extra vomit to clean up!

Sidenote: I am sure I was not the first party puker they came encountered. Pizza + kids + cake + bounce house is a recipe for a mess. But I was probably the first MOM.

Oh, and I did mention that Reagan started an epic tantrum as soon as I threw up? Because, you know, all of a sudden all hell broke loose and her mom disappeared?

Right, because of course that happened. And the hallmark of two-year-old Reagan is epic tantrums. They are age appropriate storms that go on and on and on and on...

My solution is to get her into a quiet place and just let her get it out. Hugging, picking up, trying to console her, all those things make it worse. When she reaches "epic" you need to do that quasi ignore thing in a quiet place and just let her get it out.

But we didn't have a quiet place. And I was there where she could see me but not there where I could be with her, which is the worst kind of place I can be. She is cool with other people holding her if I am not around.  And rather than being ignored, people were attempting to pick her up and cuddle her quiet. Which is like throwing gasoline on a fire.

So Reagan's party ended with thirty minutes of screaming (her) and thirty minutes of awkward conversation with adults who were both avoiding me and trying to act like nothing had happened (me).

The party finally ended, the guest slunk out while avoiding eye contact, a screaming Reagan was loaded into the car and I threw up in the snow while saying goodbye to my parents and in laws.

Then got home and proceeded to suffer the stomach bug and the churning stomach of humiliation for the next twelve hours...until it hit Madison...and then Reagan.

Happy Birthday Reagan...and I am so glad you will never remember this.

Worst. Party. Ever.

OK, readers. Bring it. Can you top my story of parental humiliation at a kid's birthday party?

By the way, if Adam were invited to write a book about embarrassing wife stories, this would probably top his list of stories to share. Thank goodness such a book does not exist (yet).  Have you picked up a copy of the book where I poke fun at his poop yet?  Pin It

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Giving it Away

Every few years, our town does something called "bulky waste". Basically, you can put anything you want out on your curb - no garbage can necessary-  and on that one day, the town will pick it up and dispose of it for you. You don't have to figure out how you're going to get to the dump on the ONE weekend a month the dump is open, you don't have to lug whatever it is into your car, you don't have to take your chances with finding people to come take this stuff. If you can drag it to the curb, it's done.

Now before anyone gets all up in arms about how we ought to use Freecycle or what a horrible waste it is to just throw out everything or how could we be thrilled that our town in producing such a multitude of junk, it basically IS Freecycling. Every evening, you can watch people driving slowing through the neighborhoods in pick up trucks or big SUVs, scavenging whatever looks good. In the past, although we've put out a huge amount, by the time the town actually sends the garbage trucks, there is very little left to pick up. They've picked up completely broken and useless stuff - like our old well tank - and probably make a decent amount of money for scrap. Good for them.

The last time the town did this was in 2008, so it feels like it's been a while. Many in town seem downright giddy that they have brought it back. Adam and I seem to have accumulated a good amount of junk in the past six years and we have thrown ourselves into decluttering in a big way. We're skulking through the house in a "take no mercy" way, banishing things to the curb.

Rusted out, non-LED Christmas deer? Gone.

The remains of our first shed, which caved in under three feet of snow a few years ago? Bye bye!

Computer desk that Adam got in high school? Out the door.

The frame of the patio table? See ya!

Two old vacuums (that were decluttered to US), our broken patio umbrella, a spreader that doesn't work, battered lawn chairs, a wicker hamper that is falling apart and waiting to stab you under the fingernails? All gone.

We've got a long list of other things that won't be given quarter in our home, but we're trying to put things out a bit at a time, so everything is visible and as much gets picked up by the scavengers as possible. We are ruthless.

Except for the baby stuff.

I know, I know that realistically, we're done. The family is complete and I am at peace with that decision. We're in a great place. But somehow, it is incredibly hard to part with the baby stuff.

Adam and I were staring at the crib rails, currently holding court in a corner of our bedroom. In the past few months, both girls moved into toddler beds, and actually, Madison is now sleeping in her "big girl" twin bed, her crib stripped bare and abandoned in her room. We started to talk about what to do.

Adam: So what do we want to do about these?

Me: Ummm....I don't know. We won't be using them again.

Adam: So we should put them out? Or could we try to donate the cribs? Or sell them?

Me: No, Goodwill won't take anything a baby has slept in. And I thought I heard you aren't allowed to sell cribs? Maybe you are. But even if you can, they're both pretty chewed up. And it's not like these are handcrafted artisan cribs.

Adam: So we should put them out?

Me: I feel weird about just putting out the rail. No one will take just a rail. And then if we find out someone does want the cribs we won't have all four sides.

Adam: Madison doesn't use hers at all. Should we put the rail back on and put the whole crib out?

Me: Ummmm....I don't know.

We finally left it, reminding each other that we have a few more weeks to figure it out.

But I'm really not sure why we're hesitating. We are not picturing any more babies sleeping in cribs in our house. We aren't hoping we get to use these cribs again. There is no logical reason we need two cribs when both girls have outgrown the actual "crib", and we're staring at two spit up on, chewed up, stained rails. They are purely clutter. They should have been among the first things we hauled out. Why is it hard?

I think it's that they symbolize the last of the baby days. We've managed to give away and sell most of the smaller gear - the bouncers and swings and high chair. Burp clothes and towels have been turned into cleaning rags. I've been sorting through clothes and toys as Reagan outgrows them, making piles to consign, piles to sell, piles to donate, piles to pass on to friends. Although I've been cooing here and there over an adorable tiny dress or sleeper, I've generally been ok with this.

But the crib is hard to say goodbye to. When I was pregnant, it made the nursery feel like a nursery, rather than a room crowded with baby gear. Madison's crib saw her grow from a tiny newborn into a preschooler. Unlike the clothes, the gear, the toys, which all had a lifespan measured in months, this piece of furniture was constant for her first three and a half years. And even though she isn't using it, saying a true goodbye seems strange.

I don't have to say goodbye yet. I could give these cribs a pass until next time. I could scour Pinterest for ways to re-use them.

But if I do that, I'm just postponing the inevitable. I'm clinging to a material memory trying to slow the progression of time, but that isn't reality. The baby days are in their twilight. Both girls are growing into independent, feisty, individuals, who don't want to stay babies. And why would I want to keep them that way, when the little girls they are growing into are so amazing?

Today, the crib rails stay in our bedroom, and both rail-less cribs stay firmly in the girls' rooms.

Maybe in two weeks, I'll be ready to say goodbye. But if not, I'll know the end is coming.

And I'll be ok with that. Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...