Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Three(ish) Month Performance Review

To be honest, Jacob and I were nervous to tell our family about my new career as a wife/mother/homemaker. My mother-in-law jokingly told me, "no, you're the smart one. We need you to make the money." And my dad gave us his patented Dad Face and bet I'd be sick of it and looking for a new job within a week.

Well, it's been just shy of three months and when people ask how I like it I can honestly say I love it, and only a small portion of that is wanting to prove people wrong.

If you've never done it, it's easy to see how you'd think staying home would drive a person mad. Yes, there is downtime. But the time you spend surfing Facebook at your desk is the time I spend watching Revenge on Netflix (I consider watching Dancing With the Stars to be recess/gym). Sure, I can spend a day lazing around doing nothing, but the work I have to do will still be there. And if it's not done in a timely manner, I'm going to get grief about it from somewhere. Your boss didn't need that quarterly report by 5pm just like my husband and child (and probably myself) didn't need clean underwear by the next day.

I may not get nights, weekends, holidays, or (and especially not) vacations off, and my paycheck is whatever I find floating around in the dryer, but the dress code is admittedly lenient (and if I make the boss mad I can just take off all my clothes and all is forgiven). I can see how easy it would be to rock the sweats/teddy-bear shirt/Crocs look, but I see being a stay-at-home-mom as an opportunity to treat every Wal-Mart, Costco, and Applebee's outing like I'm at New York Fashion Week. Yes, I am *that* woman who looks like she's going clubbing instead of to the Pediatrician, but really, I just have so few people I interact with that the Target store clerk better notice my cobalt-blue-with-metal-studs flats and he or she better like 'em!

Interesting, though, my calendar has filled up remarkably since ditching my full-time job, which I attribute to not being so run-down that I have zero interest in social activities beyond the obligatory one's. But it also fills up with vet appointments, doctor appointments, car appointments, and all those other things that pop up and instantly stress you out when you try to fit them into your already tight schedule. The current flexibility I have helps tremendously in those areas.

Others who stay home with children under the age of five crave adult contact come the end of the day. If you've ever talked to my child, you know it's like talking to a 30-year old in the body of a hormone-ridden 13-year old so by the end of the day I'd rather not talk to anyone and just stare off into space. But before that inevitable part of the day arrives, here are some of the ways we've been filling them up:

 This is the second picture Zoey has ever taken. I can't publish her first because it was moments before this. Needless to say, I'm glad she got *just* my head this time.

 Durbin: "I don't know what you're doing, but where I come from Upward Facing Dog isn't that."

 Durbin loves the Princess stories best.

 Receiving our box of Katie Cakes Gourmet Cupcakes cake-pops for Zoey and I's birthdays.

 As soon as the temperatures drop, we are among the mindless droves scrambling for the coveted PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte in layman's terms). We get Zoey a chocolate milk so now every time we go to City Brew - Montana's (better) answer to Starbucks - Zoey says, "Mmmmmm, chocolate latte!"

 She can be bratty sometimes, and is a major distraction, but I love my new office mate.

 I must have put stronger vodka in my morning coffee one day because I decided to take a 3-year old to the movies. But it actually worked out quite well. We went to the very first showing of Planes at 1:30pm and there were two other people in the theater: a girl about a year older than Zoey, also with her mother. Throughout the movie, her and I were doing the same thing: "Sit down." "Shhh." "We'll leave when the movie is over." Zoey was excited at first, then wanted to leave around the middle. But I made her stick it out and by the end she was snuggled in my lap and exclaiming, "Go, Dusty, go!"

I lucked out and we went to the movies on a Tuesday when they have Stimulus Tuesdays. The lady at the concession counter informed me: *holds up small bag* "This is just $2.00 today, and this *holds up medium bag* is $7.25." SOLD!

 We had to go to the mall for some birthday presents and going in a different entrance introduced us to a whole new play area. You put quarters in these to make them move and make noise. Zoey was thrilled.

 She rode the ice cream truck on the way in, then the train on the way out. Her favorite part of the train was the button to make it toot.

I read once that toddlers don't know the difference between work and play, they just want to do, which is completely true since Zoey is the only one who shows any sort of non-sarcastic enthusiasm for housework. So we did some on-the-job, mommy/wife training.

 Don't judge; you know your laundry room looks pretty much the same way.

 Yeah, I know it's exhausting work.

 Zoey loves cars and trucks and trains but she loves to be a girly-girl, too. While picking up Dollar Store Halloween decorations, we found some cool toys, puzzles, and activities, one of which was a foam-jewelry-making kit.

 You have to bake cookies at least once if only because it's so cliche.

 And do your nails...

 Already workin' 'em.

 Look out, Toddlers and Tiaras! The most glamorous thumb-sucker I know.

 Two things every childhood must (and just seems to) have: a big ball and magnetic refrigerator letters and numbers.

Or we just do....whatever....

 It was in the high-60's one day then 28-degrees and snowing the next, so a few days prior we celebrated what was probably  the last nice day of the year in the only way we know how: MUD!

Goin' out of the season in style.

Sorry, boys; Daddy's gotta go to work.

Damn paparazzi always gotta interrupt a good belly-rub.

 Playing in my robe. I thought she looked like a Monk and it was just good luck - as it is with most pictures of children - that I happened to get this shot.

That awesome coworker you have that you can talk to, ask for help, bitch to, and yell at and still be friends with? That's my husband. I don't know if it's because we had equal parts in tending to her as a newborn, or because she was just hooked on him from the beginning, but the moment Jacob walks through the door at the end of the day, I - mother - cease to exist. She wants him to help her with things, play with her, and snuggle, and he could brush her off, say he's too tired, too busy, or simply plant her in front of the television, but he doesn't. This used to bother me because I felt my time with her was so precious, but now it's a blessing in so many ways. I can have a break, have someone else be the disciplinarian for a change, and daddy-n'-daughter get quality time together. Sure, that means we're both comatose on the couch seconds after putting her to bed but hopefully she'll have a sibling she enjoys playing with so Jacob and I can just relax and get drunk in the basement.

In the meantime, we'll do some rehearsing for Cirque du Soleil.

In terms of money, a lot of people think a stay-at-home career wouldn't fit into their financial lives, and with the keeping-up-with-the-Jones lifestyle these days, they're probably right. When my cell phone contract was up, I traded in my smart phone for a basic one and reduced our monthly bill to something a little easier to swallow (I still hate them, though, and think they really give it to you in the ass). Now I actually look at my surroundings when I'm at a stop light and, wow, there are a lot of people who pick their nose.

We also got rid of cable and just have internet with Netflix and Hulu. Thanks to the DVR, only cavemen are watching live TV anymore, and we're never up late enough to catch The Colbert Report anyway, so we cut our bill down by about half. I know more and more people who have done this, but to most it's still baffling. They look at me confused and say, "What do you mean you don't have TV?" (which reminds me of one of my favorite Friends quotes: "You don't have a TV? Then what is all your furniture pointed at?")

Like everything in life, being a stay-at-home mom is an experience, and one I think everyone who has children should have. I can't say that there is nothing else I'd rather be doing because I'd rather be publishing a book, back in school, or writing for an Emmy-Winning late-night faux-news show (your move, Universe). Staying at home gives me a little more flexibility so those things might not be that unattainable. Like every job I've ever approached, you never know until you go, and I'm glad I went. Any of the trepidation our family had over the change has diminished and now everyone - including strangers when I tell them - are glad I get to be home with Zo and know it's not some Bon-Bon-eating cake-walk. I have three things: limited time with Zo, a college education, and no reason not to reenter the work force if I need or want. In the meantime, though, I'm enjoying that I no longer dread Mondays.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Story Time

With the temperatures slowly going down, all we really want to do is curl up on the sofa with a soft blanket, cup of apple cider, and a good book. Or few.

So go do all of that, and settle in and get comfy as Zoey presents: Story Time.

(Click the square in the bottom right corner of the video box to enlarge to full screen.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rockin' Out With Our 'Staches Out

It's hard to believe I first met Layne when he was just over a year old. Still in diapers, his favorite thing was to Swiffer the kitchen floor. My how things change...

Now he's my Nephew, going to school five days a week, is one of my child's favorite people, and is grown up enough to make the manly decision to have his birthday party be mustache-themed. It is every man's dream to grow a mustache and Jacob's theme throughout most of the day was, "but you won't let me grow one." It's not me that won't let him. It's nature. So, definitely have to hand it to Layne (and his parents and grandparents who pulled it all together!!) for creativity. And in case you aren't hip to the face-pubes news, silly mustaches are totally "in" right now so we all got some great mustache paraphernalia.

 Ready to rock out with our 'staches out.

 Kids are so much more grown up these days. (Is it upside down? I have no idea, I don't know the first thing about mustaches and their face-placement.)

 I'll give you one guess who took this picture. Maybe she's opening a collection titled, "Headless."

 Then Zoey got some camera help but my mustache had lost it's sticky.

 Some yummy goodies to get caught in our mustaches.

 Game time!

 Zoey is still just a tad too young for instruction-following so she decided she just wanted to be a worm.

 And perfectly happy and content about it.

She did get into some of the games but mostly just took the opportunity to jump and run around and act silly, which is really what it's all about when you're pumped full of sugar at birthday parties.

 Libby got in on the action, as well.

 She looks like a little, chubby man, I love it!

 Zoey thoroughly immersed herself in the theme of the event.

 Sometimes we just sat and watched the games (and ate cookies in the shape of mustaches, of course).

 We sat and watched a few rounds of Duck, Duck, Goose (my most hated of games when I was little because when I was "it," I was never fast enough to get un-"it") until Zoey decided she wanted to join in. Still unsure of the concept, but knowing it involved running around in a circle, that's just what she did. As soon as someone got up to run, she ran along side them. No one seemed to care and - hey - as long as she was running, right? That would save me the trouble of having her run home to work off the five cookies, cupcake, and cup of punch she downed.

 Simon Says, another work-it-off favorite.

Libby and her blanket joined the raucous, too.

 The birthday boy!

 I need to bribe them with treats to get them to come closer to me.

 Grandma Bobbie managed to snag her for a few minutes of snuggling.

 Must be something good...

 Anything with motorized wheels is definitely a winner.

 Enjoying the glasses I got for Jacob, Zoey and I but they were way too small for Jacob and I so I thew them in Layne's gift bag. There was a wind-up knob on the nose that made the mustache and eyebrows move. The Dollar Store has some real finds sometimes.

Since he's a big kid going to school now, I thought he could be the class distraction with mustache pen/pencil toppers. That's what Aunts and Uncles are for, right? We also got him a mustache car sticker that is supposed to go on the front of a grown-up car but Layne and I thought it would be just as good to put on the front of his 4-wheeler. We also gave him a pair of sunglasses with a mustache that hangs down to hit where a mustache would be, and a Cars snow hat and Spiderman gloves, just to spice things up a little.

 Admiring the haul. Zoey desperately wanted to go home with Layne so she could play with everything with him (or use him to get to the toys, whatever), but we had another birthday party to get to.

A mustache whistle was given out to all the guests. I guess that is a little payback for all the parents who got him annoying toys.

It was a great, creative, party where everyone had fun and no one got hurt, in trouble or cried. Success! Zoey is still talking about the mustache cookies almost a week later.