Surviving Day 1 – Andy’s School for Boys

One of my biggest concerns about our big life change, was worrying Andy would have more time to text and call me during the day and that it might interfere with getting work done. Andy tends to get a little antsy if I don’t respond to him quickly. There are many days where I get home from work and get a little cold shoulder when he asks “why didn’t you text me back?”. So I was more than a little concerned that the first few days (or weeks!) would be us working through that hurdle.

Go figure, I spent the day yesterday wondering if I should call him and check in. I found myself flashing back to the boy’s first days of daycare where I was nervous if they were settling in alright, but this time I was wondering about Andy. I had visions of coming home to him frazzled and angrily handing me the children as he stormed off to fill out job applications. I knew it couldn’t possibly be as bad as all that….but did I really know that for sure?

Color me impressed as I walked through the door to him holding the baby and not looking crazy stressed out. To top it off the living room was not exploded with toys and crumbs, had he seriously found the time to straighten and sweep? Gasp!

What takes the cake about this situation is that I was able to leave the house and be at my desk just 20 minutes later, unlike when dealing with daycare drop off, when I have to find all items needed for the day, make sure kids are fed, bundle them up, wrestle them into a car seat, et cetera, and arrive at work almost an hour after departing the house. So not only am I instantaneously loving mornings more now, but I get to go home earlier. Win-win.

According to Andy, his biggest challenge this week is going to be figuring out Drew’s napping schedule and then figuring out what they can do in the time between. I will also give him extreme credit for the fact that Drew was wide awake yesterday morning at 6am and showed no signs of going back to sleep anytime soon. (The fact that Andy went from staying up all night for the past several years to switching over instantaneously over the weekend and not being a cranky bastard, is extremely commendable.)

I brought Drew to our bed to nurse him, hoping he would just go back to sleep and Andy and I could perform the old switch-er-roo and they could sleep in a bit. But when it came time for the switch, Drew spotting Andy standing behind me and bellowed what sounded like “Hi Dad!”…only in garbled baby speak. We both laughed and Andy said ‘guess we’re up for the day”.

This morning the switch-er-roo was much more successful and hopefully they were able to sleep at least for a little while longer.

The quote of the day for yesterday was:

I found myself switching between frustration and utter adoration with them all day long – Andy.

That is basically the definition of parenting I think. Day 1 down and I’d say so far so good!

Boys aka “mans”

Well it is officially official. I know announcing it on my blog makes it pretty darn official, but last week Andy put in his notice and we notified daycare.

As of March 1st Andy will have his hands full and the adventure will begin.

I can’t quantify how happy I’ve been the last several weeks. Once we made the decision to make this happen and I went through my scared shitless period, everything after that has been utter excitement and bliss.

I am so excited and happy that Andy is wanting this, that he is taking it on and that our boys will get so much dad time.

What will it actually be like when it starts? Who the hell knows! All I have are my ridiculously ideal imaginings, which I know won’t be right.

But that’s fine, I am ready to take what comes in stride. I know it will still be scary and frustrating and all of those things. But I am just happy to know for now we are giving this a try.

I read this passage recently…and sorry I don’t remember it exactly, but it said something along the lines of “it is amazing to realize how free you are when you let many of the modern expectations go”.

And for now I feel free!

Ask me again in three weeks and it might be another tune! Ha!!

Leaving the Race

I’ve come to realize our little family is guilty of being trapped in the rat race of life. There are really two choices when you come to this realization: accept it and continue on running, or leave the race.

We work to make money to buy things we want, but it seems there is a never-ending list of things to want after that and the older I am getting the more I am starting to think “what is the point of all this?”

Here’s where shit gets relevant: Andy hates his job. He’s hated his past couple of jobs. But he sticks with them, mostly because he has this weird compulsion to be a good employee even when he loathes his employers or the work itself. It is a learned behavior from his father. And he obviously sticks with them because of the pay.

He had this unexpectedly amazing time at home with Jack after I went back to work and he was off from school (not working back then). I think we were both surprised by it. Granted it was also one of the most challenging times of his life because, as some of you may recall, bottles were not Jack’s thing. But they worked it out.

Andy has always struggled to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Besides being a Marine, nothing else seems to make sense for him. There was a year overlap when I was finishing undergrad in San Diego and his enlistment had ended; he took a job as a butcher, but also took some welding classes offered by a ship-fitting company. He loves working with his hands and talks non-stop about business ideas he has.

Then there is the kid’s school. Jack can start pre-K next year. Education is something that we’ve struggled with ever since I found out I was pregnant. Andy and I were both public school kids and with an elementary school right down the street, I figured that was the path we’d take. Then I started hearing stories. First a mother whose son failed kindergarten in our school system……failed kindergarten? WTF? I didn’t even know that was a possibility. But he did. She put him in a charter school not too far from our house and he has done well since.

Then another mother told me about Colorado’s school rating site…needless to say it was a poor choice to look at that. Both the local schools and the charter had horrible reviews. Shit balls.

After more thought I decided we should be one of the families that tries to better the local school system. And I realized I shouldn’t be too worried because I know we will always be the active parents that will help their kids through….but it still never felt like “the best” choice we could make for our kids. And obviously every parent wants “the best”.

So Andy and I started talking about what would be the best. Private school will never be an option. I have enough student loans for our street, let alone the family. Homeschooling to us seemed like the best we could do. Then I stumbled upon “unschooling”. This is a post in itself (and I promise to get to it).

Where I am going, is that all these factors and months of discussions boil down to this:

Andy is quitting his job, raising the boys, giving the homeschool / unschool thing a try, and seeing if he can start a small business on the side to help supplement.

It is going to be a crazy adventure for all of us. It could end in utter and complete failure, OR it could be the absolute best decision we’ve ever made. We shall see!

I hope to document the adventure…..should my work life every slow down enough to write more than once every three months!

Less Money, More Happiness

Call up an image of a grumpy person bashing their head against a tree trunk
in your mind, and that’s about what I would equate my latest thoughts on the current socially acceptable lifestyle, aka “the rat race”.

We are all told some variation of the same thing: get good grades so you can go to college, go to college to get a good job, get a good job to buy what you want, buy what you want to be happy…wash, rinse, repeat…and then you die.

I feel like we were given, and continue to give young people the wrong tools. We were tragically lost somewhere along the way and people no longer know how to find happiness on their own….or did we ever have that skill?

Here’s a challenge for you: can you think of something that will make you a happier person that doesn’t have a financial implication? Whether it be having to purchase it or having to lower your income to do it (changing jobs, or taking more time off, etc.)

Maybe you can name several, maybe no more than one. Maybe you can name something that would make you happy for only an hour. I feel like you are a champion if you can think of something that is absolutely free that would make you a happier person indefinitely… If you can, do share!

My ideas tend to get very complex in order to achieve the “free”. Reading a new book, which I can get from the library for free, but I have to walk there so it wouldn’t take gas, and with snow, that becomes more challenging, etc. It is free, but I’d think of this as a more sporadic happiness and there are no guarantees. Some books are good (anything by Alexandra Fuller if you are in need of a recommendation) and some are crap.

Working less and having more time with my family most likely means less pay or at least less advancement potential.

Obviously changing jobs two years ago to chase my dreams had pretty significant financial costs. Which I still maintain was / is completely worth every penny lost.

But I am challenging myself, is it possible to find happiness over the course of, say, one year without the guarantee of any money to achieve it? And I feel completely ill equipped. It seems this is a skill I should have!

Do the rest of you have it and it is just me missing out? Or am I right in assuming this is an epidemic of humans today? That most people would list off 10 or more things to make them happier that all cost something for every 1 item that might be free? And that we would all view those 10 items as giving us exponentially more happiness than the one free one?

There is a point to this ranting…. next time.

Let’s Not Do This Again Soon

We’d been fantasizing for a couple of weeks about last weekend – our first getaway from the kids and our first actual couples’ get away in….well maybe ever. I honestly don’t remember ever going somewhere for a weekend with just the two of us. We were either with family or visiting someone, etc.

I had lofty plans: a soak in the hot springs, massages, a romantic dinner out, sleeping….not sleeping, you get the idea. Bow chicka bow-wow

What I didn’t plan for was breaking the 4 wheel drive on the way down the pass or getting mastitis for the second time in three months…yeah. So needless to say we limped around town on sheets of ice in two wheel drive. Spent a couple of hours at urgent care to get antibiotics. Spent a few hours coordinating a tow, a rental car and a repair.

Also because the ski slopes didn’t open until Thanksgiving day my plans for that nice dinner were thwarted because the fancy restaurants weren’t open and getting to town was a mighty dangerous endeavor.

But you know what’s important? That we had true one on one time with each other. Despite all that crap we still got massages. We couldn’t get to the hot springs, but there was a perfectly fine hot tub. We didn’t get that amazing meal, instead we got a meal that…well was kinda school cafeteria in nature. But we decided to dress up anyway and there were cocktails…so that was a win.

It was great getting to reconnect. Time to remember where our current life began – with just the two of us. Two crazy kids who thought they knew everything there was to know…. Turns out we only really knew that we were supposed to be incredibly humbled by life together.

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The Lure of Beautiful Things

It’s easy to see how it happens – the accumulation of stuff – it would sneak up on you gradually: a tea cup here, a angel figurine there, then suddenly you are standing in your own house, so overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of what you own that you really can’t even begin to tackle it.

We went up to Casper last weekend to pick up Andy’s inheritance: a 1968 ford mustang. His aunt is in her late 60s and can no longer see well enough to drive. The near perfect piece of classic americana has had an interesting history in his family.

It was his aunt’s first car. Then her dad bought it from her when she first moved to Wyoming. After his death, her mom drove it some, but it soon found itself sitting dormant in the garage.

None of us even realized it still existed until after her death in 2002 (7 months before our wedding), when we started going through her house.

I had only been to Ruth’s a handful of times in the 4 years we dated. The house was clean but you found yourself immediately overwhelmed upon entering the front room. There were 4 couches, arranged into a square, but spaced about 10 inches apart. It felt as if you had to step over their arms to get into the room to sit and this was just the front half of the main living room. There was a second “gathering space” in the back half…then a second living room towards the back….etc.

Every horizontal surface was filled with ceramics, doilies, whatever-the-heck-else people place around on display. We didn’t own a single china cabinet, so I had no concept that there were people who owned several. You didn’t want to breathe in that house let alone move an inch as you tried to look relaxed and engaged.

She was a wonderful woman. The kind of spitfire 80-some-year-old we all hope to be…except for the stuff that is.

Her husband died shortly after Andy turned 1. The stories of him leave a hole in my own life, as he was most certainly someone I was meant to love. I only see shadows of who he was through the kind-hearted and generous nature of my own father-in-law.

He adored his wife and cherished his children, so it is no wonder they found themselves trying to find ways to cope with his absence. I think Ruth couldn’t bear to get rid of anything he ever touched…..the problem was, she then found herself with decades of time on her hands and a penchant and pocketbook poised for accumulation.

“Mom loved beautiful things….” Gayle recalled as she stood next to me and watched me carefully wrap each piece of china.

This is my third trip to Casper in the last 18 months and maybe the 10th time in the last 2 hours that she has spoken of her mom. “I suppose I get that from her”.

The problem was that like her
mother, Gayle couldn’t let go of anything….and I do mean anything. I was living in the dorms when Ruth passed and Gayle asked if I would take a 2 lb bag of sugar, which was hard as a rock and might have been purchased 20 years ago, because she obviously couldn’t cope with the idea of throwing it out.

Andy’s step-mom at the time (long story there), spoke up for me “great idea Gayle, I’ll put it in the car”. She took me back up to school that evening and we stopped at the dumpster behind the mall to toss the sugar. “Believe me, this is the path of least resistance”.

…to be continued

Eff the Dishes

I didn’t actually mean to take a 3 month sabbatical from this place, it just sort of happened. Work got intense, but in a really awesome “living the dream” sort of way. Every week I looked at my workload and thought “this week is insane, but next week it will lighten up”, copy and paste that statement every week and I soon realized, things were not going to lighten up anytime soon.

Work is still crazy, but I am finding a normalcy in it. I am being a productive human being. I am making things, mastering my craft, pushing my life forward, etc. I am not sure how you guys are feeling, but I am feeling like the whole damn world is out of control right now. So I am trying to dial in and focus on what I can control, my own productivity and my own happiness.

A year ago I was stuck in a bit of an eddy, working on projects I cared very little about, trying to figure out how to escape into the realm of awesome work. Now I am finding myself in the opposite predicament. So many amazing projects and I want to work on them all, but I also want to be a present member of my family and you know…not spend my life at the office. The result? I’m accepting the fact that I can’t work on all the projects I want to. Surprisingly, I am sort of pulling off the “being a present member of my family”. However I have had to accept that our house will never ever be clean or organized enough.

But something has to give. And if it is housework then that’s what it has to be. No one looks back on their life in 50 years and says “I loved everything about that time, but I sure wish I had put forth more effort to wash the dishes”. So fuck the dishes. They will perpetually be dirty. With that in mind, please don’t come over to my house….like ever.

I do want to get back to writing though. Writing makes me happy. So in an effort to do so, but to still keep things in something that slightly resembles balance, I will keep my writing short and sweet. Here goes my stab at making a come back. Hopefully in solidarity you all with say “fuck the dishes” too.