Thursday, February 26, 2015

Four Years Old.

My little man, the baby of our family, turns four today.  Four years ago today I was big and pregnant with sore hips and a voracious appetite.  I felt old, tired, and READY for this baby inside of me to make his grand entrance.

And grand it was.

My little baby boy was not a typical hospital birth.  We flew into the ER in the middle of the snowy night and I literally popped out a baby sitting in the wheelchair at the nurses station, waiting for my room.  Honestly, if you have to birth a baby, this is the method I recommend.  It certainly beat the hours and hours of natural childbirth and fruitless pushing that I endured when my daughter was born.  The hospital probably frowns on this (due to the fact that the wheelchair is likely out of commission permanently....) but I still say fast and furious is way better than slow and laborious when it comes to childbirth.

OK, enough about birthing.  Back to the birthday.

So our little guy is four.  Here's what I will remember about four....

He loves all things bulldozer.  Actually anything excavator, dump truck or race car is also at the top of his list. 

When I sing along with the radio as we drive around town, he often says, "Mommy, I like your singing."  

Piggie and Gerald are his favorite literary characters and he can listen to those books over and over and over.

He still calls his big sister "Ra-Ra", even though he's perfectly capable of pronouncing "Clara." 

We have to store toothpaste out of reach, because he is completely incapable of controlling the urge to squeeze out a half cup of toothpaste on his toothbrush. 

He refers to the dentist office as the "tooth hospital" because we had to rush him there one evening when he fell and smacked his face on the coffee table.

He does not sleep in.  Ever.

He still naps 1-2 hours every day, which must be our consolation prize for his habit of rising early.

He begs me to paint his toenails.  And I do.

His favorite game to play with his sister is "Mom and Dad" which I think is basically what we used to call "Playing house" in my day.

The sandbox is his happy place.

On the weekends when he's the first one out of bed, he comes to my bedside and puts his face right in front of mine until I wake up and pull back the covers for him to climb in with me.   He snuggles for 10-30 seconds before asking about breakfast and moving on to other more interesting activities. 

His curiosity does not quit.  He wants to know the how and why of everything.

He likes going to the doctor and has never shed a tear when getting a shot.  

He loves being a helper.  That is my go-to solution for times when he is pestering his sister or just not able to find a productive outlet for his energy.  I ask him to help me with something and it usually works.

As a result of  previous statement, we spend a lot of time together in the kitchen cooking dinner.

This little man challenges me every day.  He pushes the limits, challenges the rules and tests the meaning of "No" and "Stop" on a daily basis. He has occasionally brought me to my knees as a mother and made me recite desperate prayers for "Just one easy day."  Or, "Just one morning without a power struggle." Or, "Please Lord, just one nice toy that we don't have to donate to the thrift store because he used it to hit his sister."

He has also taught me about love.  And strength.  And growth.  I have learned (Many times over) that I am far from being a perfect mom.  His challenges have forced me to give up the facade of perfection and ask others for help.  He has given me the courage to be vulnerable in new ways.  Do you know how hard it is to admit you don't quite know the correct way to parent your very own biological offspring?  It's almost as if you're admitting failure at being human.  Isn't being a mom supposed to be natural?  Easy?  Intuitive? 

Sometimes, not so much.

But here's what I do know.  Admitting you don't know it all is the first step toward getting it right.  Or at least better. Loving through the struggle makes me stronger and teaches me lessons about love and grace that I didn't even know I needed to learn. Being a mom to an active, envelope-pushing, mischief-stirring boy has made me reevaluate, learn, stretch and grow in whole new ways.

When my kids complain about things being hard, I don't try to convince them that it's easy.  I convince them that they can do hard things.  Because truly, nothing less than hard work has ever birthed anything worthwhile.

And so, my little man, happy birthday.  Growing up is not always easy when you are four.  (Or 41, for that matter.) You'll try out some new tricks.  I'll learn new ones too.  I'm sure we both have a few more mistakes to make before we get it all right.  But we'll be fine.  Because we can do hard things. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Home Office

The view from my work desk has change dramatically.  Last month I quit one of my part-time jobs (The "real" job that had an actual office with a desk and my own phone line) and opted to make a go of it with just one-part time job.  (Well, really still two jobs because I'm still a mom.  Or maybe three because I'm also a wife. But that's another post...)  This decision did not come lightly as I did have to give up some income and a few benefits and perks that came with the real job.  Adios, dental and vision insurance.  Goodbye, employer contribution to my retirement account.  So long, little office with big windows where I could watch the wild turkeys stroll by.

I am now officially a "Work at Home Professional"!  My job now is actually a contractor gig, which means I work for myself.  I provide my own office.  I make my own coffee.  And I go to work in my pajamas.  Well, not really.  My son is still in preschool, which means I actually have to get out of the car when I drop him off at school.  So most days, I actually do get dressed.  It might be yoga pants and flip flops, but it is not the clothing I slept in.  Therefore I call it dressed. 

I have to say, for the most part I really love working at home.  I have my own little office (aka the guest room, the storage room, or the treadmill/work out room, depending on the time of day), I make my own hours and have the flexibility to pick up my kids from school every day and/or take a quick trip to Macy's when the mood hits.  The dress code is relaxed.  The commute is a breeze.  And, I must say, my boss is awesome.

Perhaps the trickiest part of working from home is my new coworker.  My husband also happens to be a tele-commuter, so we share this home/office arrangement.  Every.  Day.  He has actually been working at home for quite some time, so he's well entrenched in the pajama dress code and other home office norms.  He likes working from home because he can focus, get more work done, and not get sucked into 30-minute political discussions at the water cooler.

Here is the irony.  My husband spends a LOT of time trying to suck me into 30-minute discussions about anything.  He'll grab a cup of coffee, stroll into my office and ask me what I'm doing....and then SIT DOWN as if to listen to my long, detailed explanation about what type of work I am performing at that very moment.  He'll send me text messages from the other room about a funny article he read online.  He'll come into my office/guest room/gym and lie down on the bed to watch me work or just "hang out".

It drives.  Me.  Nuts.

Truth is, working at home doesn't mean I have more time to sit around and shoot the breeze.  It means I have to prioritize and get stuff done.  If I want to volunteer in my daughter's classroom every Friday, I have to get work done on Thursday.  If I want to have time to shuttle kids to doctors appointments on Wednesday afternoon, I have to get work done on Wednesday morning. You get the picture. I think the problem is my husband doesn't really mind staying up until midnight to get his work done.  He has a more flexible attitude about when he works.  I, on the other hand, prefer to clock out in the mid-afternoon and not return to my office/guest/gym for more work in the evening hours.  So, my work time is WORK TIME.  Leave me alone.  Thankyouverymuch.

Like any new job, it takes a while to get adjusted to your new coworkers and office politics.  In spite of his loitering and occasional harassment, I do enjoy being home with my husband.  I'm confident we will be good coworkers and develop a happy working relationship.  At least I hope so.  Because I haven't yet found the HR department around here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

California Winter: A Storm Story.

Our neck of the woods has finally been getting a small dose of winter.  It's not three feet of snow or hurricane force winds....nothing crazy like that.  (We ARE still California, after all.) But we did get some serious rain this weekend.  Some places got hail or lightening, and most of us got some pretty strong wind. 

I woke up on Saturday morning and went to flip on the light switch in the bathroom and all I got was a "click" with no light.  Tried it again, just to be sure, and still no light.  Our power had gone out in the middle of the night. 

I stumbled through the dark hallway and made my way to the kitchen where I again flipped the light switch, you know, just to check, and because I apparently have the short-term memory of a gnat.  Note to self: When the power goes out, none of the lights work.  NONE of them.  STOP CHECKING. 

It was still pretty dark, but I quickly remembered that we had a candle in the middle of the dining room table and a lighter in the junk drawer in the kitchen.  I was able to connect Candle A with Lighter B to create light!  I then stopped to pat myself on the back for being so remarkably well-prepared for the apocalypse by having an alternate source of light for my home.  Yay me!

My next order of business was visiting the PG&E website to see what the deal was with this power outage.  Always a bummer when you pull up your address and get a message like this:

We were already eight hours in to our little power hiccup and they had no idea on the cause and no guess as to how long power would be out.  Ugh.

When my kids woke up, they were delighted with the candlelight cereal spread that was on the table for breakfast.  They thought it was fun and fancy.  Lucky them, they didn't notice the very real absence of COFFEE. Turns out I couldn't even pull out our gas camping stove to make coffee because all we had in the house were whole beans, nothing ground.  In the absence of a Indian coffee grinding rock we were forced to make an emergency trip to Starbucks.  Perhaps my apocalypse planning had a few holes in it....

As the day wore on, we embraced the frontier lifestyle, sans electricity.  We lit a fire in the fireplace to keep warm (with outside temps hovering in the 50's, we couldn't risk frostbite...).  The kids did some coloring by candlelight and ran around outside for over an hour.  I actually sat down to read a book.  The last time that happened on a Saturday morning was, um, never. We also answered question after question after question from the kids about what does and does not require electricity.  TV?  Yes.  Computer?  Yes.  Refrigerator?  Yes.  Fireplace?  No.  Yes.  Lights?  Yes.  Water?  No.   And on and on and on.

Lunch and snacks were gleaned from whatever was in the cupboards because I was trying very hard to conserve every ounce of cool air inside the refrigerator.  When the afternoon wore on and it appeared that we might be forced to create dinner without electricity, I started debating about Burrito Bandito or pizza.  But then I became determined to survive in this primitive state and actually COOK my own dinner on the BBQ.  And then I remembered our propane tank was empty.  So again, the disaster prep in our house could perhaps use a little fine-tuning.

A little after 2pm the lights came back on, we all breathed a sigh of relief and the kids got to celebrate by watching a movie.  The vacuum cleaner doesn't work without electricity, so all in all it wasn't a bad way to spend a Saturday. Bring it on, California winter. We got this. 

The Apocalypse?  Maybe not so much.