The F Bomb

In many homes, for at least one half of the marital couple it’s a dirty word: Finances.

For most people, the word triggers a fight-or-flight response. The problem is that for each individual, the response is almost always the same. At the mention of the word “finances,” some get excited and prepare for battle with numbers, while others prefer a more pacifistic approach.

Furthermore, when the twain mix, intramarital wars can often arise.

In my house, I’m the finances warrior. My wife Courtney and I are so polarized in this area that if I want to watch a ballgame alone, all I have to do is drop the F Bomb. She’ll vanish from before my very eyes, leaving behind just a cloud of dust, à la Wile E. Coyote. There is no way I can package the word without bringing on her instant anxiety.

Well, there’s nothing like throwing a baby into the mix to make the finances challenge even greater. It really makes you start thinking about the future.

College: Are we going to pay for it? That should be a palatable $300K bill by the time our daughter graduates. Wedding: That’s cheap, right? Maybe we can convince her that weddings are bad. Or maybe we can lock her in the attic for the rest of her life — that would save on college, too. Insurance: We all live forever so why is that air jordan 9 important? Will: In the event of a fiery wreck that kills Courtney and I, who is going to care for our child and where is all our stuff going?

So how do Courtney and I approach this? Plan A was scratch-off tickets, but that seemed a little risky. Plan B could land me in jail for a while. So we are on to Plan C: the crazy notion of looking at the numbers and starting to strategize our financial life.

I handle personal finances the same way I tackle business finances: I use tools and seek knowledge. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Taking the first step is a bite, and if you take bites frequently then you’re on the right track.

My tools? I use Quicken to track business and household finances. It’s a very easy program to learn and it allows us to see all our money plans in one picture. What gets measured, gets managed.

My knowledge? When I don’t already know something, air jordan 5 femmes or when I need a second opinion, I go to Edward Jones for advice. Not only are they professional and knowledgeable, but they have a great feature for a work-from-home father of a 4-year-old: They make house calls.

No matter who in the home feels comfortable with the F word, it’s important to confront the matter early and often. If you can’t tackle it as a team, at least make sure you acknowledge which of you is the quarterback and which is the water boy (or girl). Both roles are important to putting a winning team on the financial field.

Formula for Success

Working at home while caring for a baby has made time seem tangible. Clock management has never been more critical in my life than it has been in the past couple of weeks.

Please don’t accept the insinuation that I’ve mastered this new set of time challenges. I haven’t. Not even close, yet. But I have started to find some tricks and best practices, and have also begun to appreciate some of the conveniences that have been discovered or thrust upon me.

At the top of that list is premixed formula.

At first we weren’t even going to use formula — we were going to breast feed, right up until Maggie leaves for college, I think. My wife was planning to pump at work. We obtained all the necessary air jordan 7 plumbing materials, the pipes and plugs and plungers and augers and such. She was planning to pump in her private bathroom at her office (private because she and her staff hide the key). She would stockpile the leche de la madre for me to use during daylight, and during her homebound hours she would feed the baby straight from the tap. The plan was made. The schedule was set. Our ducks were aligned and ready to waddle.

[Unrelated side-note: As I’m typing this, Maggie is reclined nearby in her Rock ’N Play, looking at me, smiling and cooing and giving her input. I have no idea how I can finish writing while being bombarded by all this cute. This is, I’m sure, why Edgar Allan Poe didn’t have children. Otherwise we’d have a sunnier “Pit and the Pendulum.”]

Then my wife had second thoughts, and, simultaneously and serendipitously, someone gave us a bunch of bottles of premixed formula. The pediatrician signed off on a mixed diet, and the new air jordan 4 femmes plan became formula from Dad, milk from Mom. The ducks were dismissed.

The effect of this on my schedule has been wonderful. There’s no thawing, no (necessary) warming, no mixing, no purifying, no sterilizing, no rotating tools and supplies.

In other words, there’s no prep. When Maggie wants to eat, setting aside my work to feed her is easy and quick. I just grab a bottle and open it, affix the packaged nipple, and feed her. Then I toss the bottle to the recycle bin and I’m done.

Then I wipe the spit-up from her chin and my pants, and I’m done again. Easy.

First Dilemmas

Very soon after my wife Molly returned to work, I realized that chances are quite good that she will miss some of our daughter’s milestones. First time sitting up. First time doing sit-ups. First time putting a pacifier in her mouth without poking herself in the eye.

I also realized that chances are good that I will not miss these things, because I work from home. That presents somewhat of an untraditional disequilibrium in my air jordan 6 marriage. (Perhaps even more than our polarized dancing abilities do.)

Just a generation or two ago, fathers were routinely in the position of missing out on many of their children’s developmental milestones. If my grandfather were still alive, I would ask if that bothered him. But I don’t have to ask my wife — I know for sure it would bother her, perhaps the most caring person in the world.

And that leaves me with a dilemma: How will I handle that? If I trumpet the accomplishment across email,  text or instant message, will my wife feel shorted or sad for not having been able to witness the event? If I lie by omission and allow her to believe that all the “first times” miraculously occurred in her presence, would that make me a bad husband, or a good one, or a little bit of both?

I have visions of running interference with my daughter’s development. I can see myself nine months from now glimpsing from the corner of my eye: She is standing and about to take her first step, and I run to push her over. “Sorry, sweetheart, tricks like that have to wait until Mommy comes home.” She’ll end up not being able to walk until she’s 9 years old because I’ll have consistently traumatized her from trying. She’ll end up wearing diapers until 4, not because she’ll be air jordan 4.5 femmes peeing herself but because she’ll need the cushioning on her bum.

In this age of predominantly two-income households, Molly and I are lucky that even one of us is home, otherwise a daycare stranger would be the first to see our baby poke herself in the eye. However, … Oops, she just did it. Please don’t tell.

To Poop or Not To Poop

Captain’s Log: Seven days ago my 4-year-old daughter dropped something into her princess potty that looked like a lump of clay someone would give you in a pottery class to spin into a salad bowl. It’s not the first time this has happened.

Seven days have passed again and we are back in the same spot. Code Brown! Code Brown! What is going on here? Lydia is ducking off behind doorways with her legs cross and refusing to go air jordan 5 anywhere near the bathroom. It looks like she is straining to try to hold it in. I am just a regular guy— I didn’t major in child excrement behavior.

Meanwhile, work responsibilities are calling. Several hours later it’s 10:30 p.m. and I am working five feet away from the bathroom where my wife is doing everything she can to coach Lydia into letting it go. She sounds like a midwife in a birthing session. Can I really tell my customers I can’t talk because I am waiting for my daughter to poop? That’s not going to fly. Prioritize, change schedule, communicate to customers and keep chopping away at this workload, that’s what I have to do.

At midnight I can still hear my daughter waking every half hour or so. I decide to call the doctor. I am shocked when he tells me he has seen children go as long as 18 days like this. He settles my biggest fear by telling me that this problem should pose no health threat to her.

“The body has its way of working air jordan 3 femmes these types of things out,” he says. “She will eventually go. Don’t worry unless she starts to run a fever.” He goes on to tell me that in most cases this problem is psychological. “Children can be much more manipulative than people think.”

I hang up the phone, relieved but baffled. Lydia is supposed to start preschool in the fall and we have been telling her that she has to be good about using the potty or she will not be able to attend. Is she so afraid of school that she is doing this to herself?

Visualizing the Workload

Time is of the essence in my world. Knowing what has to be done with company work, household work and learning time with Lydia is critical. Priorities can get clouded when tasks and due dates start to logjam. Depending on my mood, the logjam can make me feel terrible. I limit that feeling by using simple tools and communicating well with my customers, employees and my wife.

Before my daughter was born my strategy was very simple: I would keep working until the work was done or I had to sleep. Sixteen- hour workdays were the norm. air jordan 3 That strategy is not realistic in my life today.

To help me maximize the time I do have, the most effective tool I have found is free and easy to use: My wife Courtney and I share an online Google Calendar. We can each enter appointments, tasks and priorities, and can make additions and changes on the fly from our phones or computers. Absolutely everything that needs to be done is there, from checking fire alarms to birthdays to company meetings to doctor appointments, etc.

The calendar has a note section where I can remind myself (or where my wife can remind me — thanks, Google!) of where I left off or what needs to be done. I get an email whenever a task comes due, so I don’t even need to look at the calendar to know if I’m on target with a deadline. If I can’t get to something around the house then I can ask Courtney to take it over.

I probably look at our calendar ten times a day, moving things that are not as high of a priority to the future, and isolating the most important things to get done now. When I feel I may miss a due date with a customer, I am able to inform them as far ahead of time as possible.

As I peruse my calendar for this week I can air jordan 1 femmes see that Friday through Sunday are going to be very limited work days for me. Courtney’s company’s summer party is Friday. On Saturday we have a guest coming from out of town and I have a bachelor party to attend. It’s going to be a very fun weekend, but with one glance at our Google Calendar I know ahead of time that I really only have Monday through Thursday for business tasks.

Now I can compensate and front-load my week with work.

Sieze the Birthday

Days like this are what make working from home so special. My daughter Lydia turned 4 today.

I am right in the middle of a busy work week with a backlog of around 200 hours. Despite that, it’s a special day, and I’ll make sure it’s a memorable one. We are riding the wave of whatever Lydia wants to do. I still remember my 4th birthday and she will too.

Half way through the day, Lydia is happy as ever. Air Jordan Femme She has consumed part of the cake we gave her this morning for breakfast. (Note to self: Don’t do that again.) The remainder is scattered all about her favorite spots in the house; I have to rely on our dog Bentley to tackle that task, and he is more than willing. The sun is shining, but all Lydia wants to do is play with the balloons and drag the princess blankets we gave her all over the house.

It’s more than Lydia’s day. It’s a special day for Courtney and me, too. I can guarantee it’s killing Courtney to be working today. I am not going to remind her by sending her videos or showing up at work for a lunch. I think she would rather skip lunch and get out early so she has no pressures of the work day to distract her from the time she does get to spend with her daughter.

Last night I pulled out some videos I took of the two of them when Lydia was less than 6 months old and we all watched them together. It was an emotional moment for us. It’s very air jordan 1 difficult for a mother to see her child so young all the while knowing that she missed so many special moments. When she gets home I’ll show her the videos from today and then hang out with the family.

All the while my company work is still getting done, but I had to shift my work time to late last night (9 to 11:00) and early this morning (5 to 6:30) and late tonight (9 to 11:00 again). That’s a total of 6.5 hours of work for the day, and I’ll get to enjoy every moment along the way.

Day 1

My wife Molly just walked out the door. She’s off to her first day at the office since our baby girl (our first) was born just over three months ago. That leaves me home alone with my daughter and my work, both of which will need oscillated attention until the end of Molly’s workday. This is a new experience for both of us (and for our baby Maggie, too, I suppose).

I am comfortable that I am prepared to the fullest — prepared to make just about every mistake possible and to appropriately adjust. It has started already.

I wanted oatmeal  for breakfast, so I got some cooking in the pot. This isn’t instant oatmeal — it’s a porridge recipe that combines rolled and steel-cut oats simmering for enough time for me to drink enough coffee on an empty stomach to give me digestive-tract problems for half the day. (Rationing is key.)

And, as I have done for nine years of working from home, I made one portion.  So I can eat today, but if I want oatmeal again tomorrow or Thursday or Friday, I’ll have Air Jordan Femme to cook more from scratch. I would have served myself better by preparing a big batch and refrigerating the leftovers.

(I used to know this. In my living-alone days I would  often make a quiche at the beginning of the week and reheat a piece for a quick breakfast for days afterward.)

Well, Day 1 and Lesson 1 is learned before Coffee 1 is fully drunk. (I rationed successfully.)

Lesson 2? I’ll need to learn to write in fragmented time segments. In crafting just these 342 words, I have had to change one wet diaper and have been alerted air jordan 4 to a messy one. And Maggie got tired of listening to the muffled Mozart of her playmat and demanded a more fun option. So here I sit, typing these last two paragraphs with one hand, while mi hija straddles my left thigh, kicking her legs and smiling at her newest favorite ditty, “Banana Boat Song.”

Daylight come and I work from home.