When a Crock’s Not a Crock

Over the years I’ve had a few consulting firms as clients. Thus I’ve been exposed to a lot of theory about lost time and whatnot, which is why I can be so “efficiency” minded — even if I’m sometimes poor at practicing what I preach to myself.

But since Maggie came into our lives 11 months ago, efficiency has become a means of survival. She is a great kid for a work-from-home parent, nearly always happy and proficiently self-entertaining. Even so, sharing space with a baby consumes a few hours of each of my workdays.

Diaper changes, wardrobe changes, toy clean-ups, toy re-clean-ups, and rescuing her from every dangerous situation she can find — all of that pinches the minutes available for work. Nowadays the last thing I want to do at 5 p.m. is get off the computer so I can get on the stove. I don’t want to lose that hour.

That’s why the crock pot has become such a standard in our domestic repertoire. My mom gave my wife one for Christmas, and it’s made our culinary life easier to live. I love cooking (I’m the one who does most of the non-microwave food prep in the house), but on most days now I just want to not worry about it.

The crock pot gives me two huge conveniences:

  1. Cooking is actually faster. The food isn’t ready to eat until forever, but my role in compiling it is brief. Most slow-cooker recipes involve just cutting and measuring (and the latter is barely necessary), followed by dumping everything in the pot and pressing the power button.
  2. One crock-pot session gives us three or four meals’ worth of food. We can eat until at least Wednesday on Monday’s bounty. Two days of cooking can feed us for a week. We sometimes don’t have enough Pyrex containers to contain it all.

On cooking day I spend all afternoon hungry, because I can smell the food simmering for hours upon hours. I keep peeking at it to see if it looks as good as it smells. Then my wife loves walking in the house and smelling the brew.

We haven’t ventured far down this culinary road yet, and the short distance we have traveled has included just the usual stops, such as beef stew, pulled chicken and chicken soup that was supposed to be chicken stew.

I recently posted a request for crock-pot ideas on Facebook and received a generous portion of recipes from friends and family, ranging from pulled-porks to puddings to soufflés to casseroles to enough oatmeal to feed the cast of Oliver!

We will likely try it all, which should give me more time to write. Bring on the paper. Bring on the Pyrex.

Coo Calling

Have you ever tried to play a piano with a kitten in the house? Or type? Either way, clanging or clacking on the keys is a sure way to lure the feline. You can’t get through a stanza or a paragraph before the cat is stepping between your fingers, composing its own gift to the world.

That’s what it’s like making phone calls with a baby in the house.

Part of my job is reporting, which means I need to ask people for information to report. I’m not a rush-down-to-the-police-capt’n-for-the-scoop kind of reporter, because I don’t work in newspapers, air jordan 12 femmes and I don’t work in the 1920s. I’m primarily a magazine and public relations writer, which means I collect most of my information from polite, neatly scheduled phone conversations that involve a lot of “please make that sound better when you write the article” requests.

So I spend some time on the phone. And, lately, that’s when Maggie starts hootin’ and howlin’.

During family time, my wife and I have been habitually responding to Maggie’s cooing (along with her newly added skills of squealing and whooping). Doing so is reputedly a way to encourage a baby to learn the concept of conversation. So perhaps when she hears me speaking on the phone, she thinks it’s talk time. She can’t see anyone else in the room, so Daddy must be speaking to her, right?

Alas, the last five phone interviews I’ve done — five! — have at some point included tangent phrases such as, “How old is your baby?”, “Sounds like someone needs Dada” and “Uh oh, is it diaper time?”

In every instance, I felt as if the interruption shredded any semblance of professionalism. I suppose my fear is that one day I’ll be talking to some super-serious, self-important source who doesn’t have the time to be patient with a writer who’s being background-vocaled by a baby, and he or she will blow me off, leaving me stranded on a story with an impending deadline.

Like most fears, though, the reality is likely far different. And so far, it has been.

Each time Maggie joined my phone interviews, it resulted in some off-the-topic chitchat about babies and kids and the joys of parenthood and such. Anyone with experience interviewing knows how roshe run hyp important rapport is, and Maggie’s background banter has donated oodles of it to my calls.

So I suppose instead of shushing her (which, yeah, works great on a five-month-old), I should be thanking her.

Still, there’s a challenge found in this arena. In an upcoming write-up, I’ll discuss some strategies for making phone calls with a baby in the room. In the meantime, any suggestions are welcome.

Look Ma, Two Hands

Several years ago, on a summer evening, I sat writing. My girlfriend at the time approached from behind and put her hands over my eyes, Guess-Who style. Her intent was playful but purposeful: The message was that I should stop working and spend time with her.

My playful response was to continue typing with my eyes obstructed, word after word, sentence after sentence, all mistake-free. How? Because I can type. I can type “correctly,” as in eight fingers on the home keys, adidas neo both thumbs over the space bar, eyes never on the keyboard, and so on. Why? Because I’m a writer, and that’s the efficient way to go about my business, of course.

My blind typing trick impressed her pants off — literally, I think (though that did me no good because I had a deadline, so kept writing all night).

I do have a point, even if it takes me 150 words to get around to relaying it: Despite the multi-tasking afforded by my one-handed-bottle-feeding trick (see “One Hand Left”), some tasks are still best performed with two hands. I can write an email while feeding the baby; I cannot write a chapter.

This led me to a recent epiphany that, when viewed in hindsight, should have been obvious. A key to better organizing my work-at-home-dad workday is that when I need to multitask, I should focus on tasks that actually are, by nature, better compatible with multitasking. Moreover (and this is the important part), I should save those tasks when I actually need to multitask.

An example is photo editing. (Yep, I’m also a photographer.) Culling a batch of images from a shoot can require considerable time, but in the digital world it’s really just a one-handed job. That’s a task I can work on while feeding the baby.

Another example is reading — emails, articles, et al. That, too, is a task I can complete while feeding the baby.

To edit photos or read while my daughter is sleeping or quietly entertaining herself with a bib is, in efficiency vernacular, a waste of time. During two-hands-available time, I should tackle tasks that require two hands: writing, researching, packing camera bags, cleaning lenses. During one-hand-available time, I should be photo editing, updating software, nike cortez conducting phone interviews, catching up on social marketing.

(During no-hands-available time — such as when changing diapers — I can think, which is a huge step in the writing process. Seriously. A majority of my writing time is spent just pondering possibilities. But during no-hands-available time, usually I just exchange laughs and smiles with my daughter— that’s a far more important way to multitask.)

This compartmentalizing of tasks has been kind of a “duh” moment for me. But at least the moment came, and now I have more time to type things like “duh” — which, when done with sound technique, requires two hands.

One Hand Left

Though it may seem contradictory compared with my recent post “Formula for Success,” a repeating delay in my workday has been having to feed Maggie.

I don’t mind feeding her, of course. I understand that it’s necessary — if she didn’t eat, she wouldn’t poop, and then what would we do with the closet full of diapers? I’ve also heard that eating is related to growing, so I suppose that’s a benefit to be aware of.

And I certainly enjoy the benefit of bonding. air jordan 12 She has a need, I fill it, her trust in me is reinforced, and she looks into my eyes for 15 minutes as if I were the most useful person ever. (She knows nothing about how much I’ll ruin her life when she’s 13.)

However, another reality exists: Sometimes Maggie needs to eat at a time that isn’t convenient for me. Perhaps she’ll be hungry when I’m writing, or researching, or doing a phone interview, or preparing an estimate that needs to be delivered immediately lest I lose a chance at securing a new client. In life overall, Maggie and anything she needs are my priority, but minute-to-minute, sometimes I just need to get something else done.

Throughout my 41 years I’ve learned that occasionally my mind knows a solution exists even when I can’t identify that solution. In this case, I knew there had to be some trick for me to feed Maggie a bottle and hold her with just one hand, leaving the other hand available for me to be somewhat productive.

Yet nothing I tried worked. For a few days I laid her on my lap and held the bottle with one hand, but that quickly led to rapid reflux and increased spit-up problems, resulting in the laundry bin filling at an alarming rate. I faced the same problem with laying her in the bouncy seat. She can’t sit up yet, so any other seat would also not suffice.

One morning Maggie was outright wailing to be fed, but a work deadline was about to slip away. She was so upset that I wouldn’t be able to focus on my work even if I did choose to ignore the crying (which I wouldn’t do anyway, but that’s another conversation). That’s when the epiphany came: What do parents of twins do? In order to double-feed, they have to be able to feed and hold with one hand, right?

So I searched for a twins-raising website, and found the answer. The solution, which seems obvious now, is to sit Maggie on my lap with my arm wrapped around her torso, and with that hand hold the bottle to her mouth. free run 5.0 +3 femmes For parents of twins, that allows them to feed both babies at once; for a work-from-home dad, that leaves him with one hand to type.

I’m sure other oOne-Handed Feedingne-hand feeding techniques exist, and I’d love to hear about them in the Comments section below. Until Maggie is capable of reliably holding her own bottle, I’ll surely be able to use the further advice.