Kid Junction

What’s your function?

Today I took the boys to Kid Junction, an indoor playground/arcade, and they had a pretty good time. I worry with places like these, because some are so big and/or elaborate that it’s hard to keep an eye on twins, but this place was laid out so that the boys were easier to track.

There were climbing…um…things, closed off areas for the smaller kids, an arcade, a dining area, a cafe, and rooms where kids can pretend to be postal workers or grocery store customers or other things they will hopefully never, ever get stuck doing when they grow up.

The cafe had a fairly wide selection as play zone cafes go, and the prices were mostly lower than I would have expected. No outside food is allowed inside and it’s a nut-free zone, so plan accordingly. In our case, we got two free drink tickets with our passes. I asked for milk, but the drink vouchers only work for soda, coffee, and juice. The boys don’t get soda or juice and they’d already had enough coffee in the morning. I understand that milk costs more, but it would have been nice if a healthy drink option existed for use with vouchers, free or not.

Our hands got marked when we came in to show we paid, which is fine, but we were checked again with a UV light on the way out. The boys were well behaved, thankfully, but if they’d been throwing a tantrum and fighting with me as I put their shoes on, I would have politely informed the attendant where s/he could store the light for safekeeping. I assume this was because they wanted to double check whether we had paid already? If that’s the case, and we had somehow snuck past the two-door, manned lobby, would they make us give back the fun?

The place was as clean as can be expected, although the tiny diaper trashcan (Diaper Champ, to be specific) was broken. The staff wasn’t surly or rude, but seemed absolutely joyless. Does that happen when you work in a building usually packed with screaming kids and whiney parents? Probably. I think that would make me dead inside, too.

There is free Wi-Fi and a dining area, so parents can be on their phones and computers and get a break from their kids and/or ignore them while somewhere “Cats In the Cradle” plays softly. Seriously, though, I was a little surprised that I was one of only two parents I saw the entire time we were there who was actually playing with our kids. I definitely get it if your kids are old enough to look after themselves a bit and you want some grown-up time, but I figured more parents would be making nom-nom sounds while trying to avoid eating the plastic pizza slice their tots are trying to force-feed them.

We’ll be back.

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When you haven’t driven a car for a long time and find out it got infested by mice.

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Pictured: Why we won’t have guns in the house.

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“Look, I like you, but not ‘hug you’ like you.”

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This might have been their favorite thing. I’m not even joking.

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His field goal percentage was only like .18.

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Running real errands: they want to go home. At awesome play zone: They want to run imaginary errands.

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Pfft, the Capri Suns would never get stocked next to the rice. F on authenticity, Kid Junction.

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“Yes, 911? My dad saw me working a toy cash register in a pretend grocery store, and I think he’s having some sort of PTSD episode.”

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“Fire station? Fix-it shop? Space ship? I’ve got it! A post office! What kid doesn’t want to grow up to be a surly, over-worked government employee?” – KJ designer, apparently

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Animal hospital! Now we’re talking!

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“Will my cow be okay, doctor?” “I’m afraid she’s got cudstipation.” “Oh no! Is it hopeless?” “Udderly hopeless.”

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So they can learn how to work the knobs on a stove.

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This isn’t edible, but that didn’t stop M from trying to take a bite, nor from trying to force feed it to me.

 

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Sickos

**READER ALERT: While no graphic descriptions are given, there are references to bodily functions that you might want to avoid even picturing. You’re picturing stuff right now, aren’t you? You know what kind of bodily functions I’m talking about, and you can’t help but imagine what could be so horrific that I have to warn you, even though I won’t be giving details.**

We’ve hit a major milestone in our life as a family with kids: the lot of us all got sick as hell at the same time.

Yes, a stomach bug (most likely rotavirus) came upon us like Donald Trump in the election: It came out of nowhere, and every time we thought it would pass into obscurity, it would immediately resurface, leading to vomiting and an overwhelming sense of despair.

Poor little M was the harbinger. He [bodily function deleted] on a Friday morning, and continued [bodily function deleted] all over me and the living room for most of the day. His spirit remained as high as possible, which is to say his spirits were pretty low, but he soldiered on.

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Pictured: Stoicism

That night was interrupted by more [bodily function deleted], and by morning, he was pretty wasted. That morning his brother started to display symptoms as well; it became a bit of sibling rivalry, really, with C seeing M’s [bodily function deleted] and raising him severe [bodily function deleted].

Not to be outdone, M became lethargic and weak, and we decided to take him in to urgent care. Kat took him, and in the six or so hours they were there, he received three IVs for dehydration and meds for nausea.After less than two days, he had lost four pounds. I remained home with C, who had largely stabilized.

When Kat got home with M, he was in fine spirits and went right to bed with no fuss, in spite of his terrible night.

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One tough mofo right there.

Sunday saw both boys suffering, and we spent more time than usual cuddling with them on the couch. It was also the beginning of my new hobby: Cleaning [digestive expulsion deleted] out of said couch.

It was Monday when the boys started to feel and act better. We gave them nausea medicine when we needed to, they ate more of their regular diet, and [bodily function deleted] and [bodily function deleted] were at a minimum. It was also Monday when those little [unkind personal expletives deleted] generously shared their germs with me. I’ll briefly sum up Monday night be saying it became practical for me to bring pillows and a blanket to the bathroom. It was a rough night. At some point during that night, I emailed Kat (who was in the next room, but I’d been keeping her up enough) and told her I would need her to stay home from work on Tuesday if it was at all possible.

It was possible, and she stayed home to tend to the three men in her home who were usually burly stalwarts of strength and power.

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Like this, but not funny. So just like this, I guess.

I was down and could hardly handle taking care of a pair of sick two-year-olds, who at this point were having a resurgence of symptoms.

The good news was that Kat was able to stay home to take care of us. The bad news was that that day she got hit too. It was the first time that all four of us were sick at the same time. It was kind of a low point. I had been looking forward (if you can call it that) to having her handle the boys while I recuperated, but with her trying to steal my sick-parent thunder, the two of us were on equal footing, both trying to balance feeling like death while trying to take care of twin toddlers who also felt like death. Of course, we didn’t refer to it as “feeling like death” in front of them; we told them we were all getting ready to go to a wonderful farm where we could play and chase rabbits and be happy forever.

While K and I felt better after a couple of days, the boys carried on with their illnesses as if they were trying to win a competition. A call to the doctor’s office was met with the comforting advice “give it seven to ten days” before we made another appointment. By this time, the boys were managing to keep down enough water to remain hydrated, but the overwhelming percentage of things they took into their bodies ended up [insert nightmare].

If you don’t have kids, it’s hard to get how bad it feels when your kids are sick and you can’t do anything about it. I’ve always hated the “if you’re not a parent you don’t know” crap (and still do, mostly), but dammit man, it’s tough to have someone who counts on you looking at you, wondering why you won’t make the suffering end. I imagine it’s like every meeting the Jackson Jaguars have with their owners.

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M, the poor lad who started it all, continued being sick into the next weekend. C wasn’t doing great either, but was clearly recovering. Finally, almost exactly 10 days later, all of us seemed to be mended. It was a relief in every way.

I have no idea if we were lucky to have had this nightmare take place two years after the boys’ birth. Were we ahead of schedule for the worst family adventure ever?

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Was this more or less the average point in time where entire family units are crippled by rampaging RNA strands?

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You capsid-wearing bastard.

Either way, it sucked. Some people say that when you have multiples, the best thing to do when one gets sick is to make sure the other one/s is/are exposed as much as possible, thus becoming sick as well. This way you have to deal with more than one sick kid at a time, but it’s over relatively quickly, rather than having kids be sick end-to-end, drawing out the time you’re dealing with it. That’s probably still good advice, but when the parents are sick too, you start wishing you only had one kid whose [bodily expulsion deleted] you have to worry about.

I’m ready to return to a simpler time when the boys only got sick because they ate Cheerios they picked out of a puddle in a parking lot.

Elmocation

Before the boys were born, I was the best dad ever. My kids were never going to eat anything but homemade, organic, mostly vegetarian food. They’d never know who Ronald McDonald was. I would take them to kid gyms and classes every day. They would never watch TV.

Turns out, constraints on time and finances relegated some of those to the “A guy can dream” file.  The last one, though, was something I thought I could pull off. I couldn’t, and it’s actually made me pretty bummed.

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I’m next month’s centerfold.

Granted, I knew the kids would watch some TV. We do watch TV in our house, and this is a world of screens, so winding up looking at moving pictures on a screen was, of course, inevitable. That said, I feel like we’re in dangerous territory.

When the boys were newborns, I could throw stuff on in the background because they could barely see, let alone realize I was watching campy ’80s slasher flicks in their presence. When they got older, we allowed some Caspar Babypants music videos (if you haven’t checked him out, do yourself a favor and do), but that was about it.

Somewhere along the line, a certain little red monster from Sesame Street made an appearance on our TV. Yes, Elmo was here, and we’re the ones who invited him in.

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“Ta-da, bitches!”

There are a lot of compelling reasons why Elmo appeals to toddlers while making parents want to throttle the Muppet until the puppeteer’s wrist snaps. From his bright red color to his child-like speech patterns to that piercing falsetto that is something akin to the Son of Sam talking to his neighbor’s dog.

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“Burn it all down, Mr. Robb.”

Suddenly, the kids demanded more and more Elmo. Elmo was one of C’s first words (well, okay, he says “Ello”), and sometimes the choice between watching Elmo or riding out the tantrum fell on the side of peace. Naturally, the kids went all Pavlovian on us and can throw some epic tantrums in order to see their favorite little red beast.

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The fact that he swallows kids whole like a python doesn’t seem to put them off at all.

So, is it so bad to have a couple of tots watching an “educational” program for, at most, a couple of hours a day, a few days a week? It depends who you ask. You can find plenty of opinions saying that it’s totally okay, like this, this, and this, but you can find at least as many opinions stating that any TV before your kids are old enough to write a college thesis on what they’re watching, like this, this, and this. Hell, even publications like Psychology Today can’t agree on whether or not TV will turn your kids’ brains into mousse, or into a flexed bicep of intelligence.

When we switched to toddler beds due to the boys’ penchant for going all Houdini in their cribs, they stopped taking naps, as to leave them alone in their room meant a total disassembling of the same. It was easier to simply handle them for 1-3 hours a day rather than invest time and money into converting our guest room into a second nursery or watching them turn their present room into a cinematic tornado cliché.

This means that I (SAHD, here) have 1-3 hours or so of extra time with the boys. Yep, 12-13 hours a day alone with just the lads. That’s a long time to spend with anyone, let alone two-year-olds.

I’m a human. I have responsibilities as a “homemaker” and a (minute) wage-earner. I also like to sit down by myself for a few minutes to relax or fire off some emails or eat without being spotted by my kids and having to hand over my food. Sometimes just having the boys nap for a half-hour bought me enough sanity to make up for whatever else I’d been put through during the day.

When naps went bye-bye, I looked for other ways to keep the boys occupied while I did the things that I needed to do outside of being 100% involved with them. What I needed was a nanny.

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“Mr. Robb is looking for talking plush toy with no concept of pronouns? Elmo is Mr. Robb’s monster!”

More and more, Elmo was tossed on in the background merely to keep the kids occupied while I washed dishes or made lunch or curled up in a ball and wept about my failure as a parent. Soon, as with most drugs, an hour’s worth of Elmo didn’t cut it any more. Suddenly, I was putting on the Little Baby Bum and Mother Goose Club videos of children’s public domain songs. When these grew old, Monsters, Inc. went into the DVD player and became a staple in the stable. I tried introducing various Disney movies and other kids’ fair as a sort of cinematic methadone, but to no avail. We always wind up back with Elmo.

So for now, we’re sharing parenting duties with an admitted monster and various other programs. I absolutely don’t begrudge people who have their kids watch more TV than I do, and I I know that TV is okay in moderation.I also know that Elmo is actually fairly educational, but dammit man, I feel like I’m doing the boys a disservice every time I turn on the TV in order to buy an hour or two of non-toddler time..

 

Wherein I Explain My New Jzzzzz…

Okay, so this won’t be the most exciting of posts, but if you’re wondering how the wide world of online transcription works, you’ve come to the right place.

ICYMI, I finally found a work-from-home (or wherever, really) job! I started working as a paid transcriptionist for a company called Rev, which does audio transcription and video captioning.

“How does this new job work?” I can hear you all asking from the edges of your seats. I’ll break it down for you:

Customers have recordings they want transcribed and send those to Rev. Rev posts these on their site, and transcriptionists pick and choose them on a first come, first serve basis. These recordings can be by anyone and about anything. Sadly, I’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I can’t go into details of specific jobs, but I’ve done everything from interviews with famous musicians and Hollywood insiders, to product test focus groups, to medical discussions, to a person who literally just had a mic on as s/he went through the day. Some things are more interesting (discussion about an as-yet-unaired season of a popular TV show) than others (somebody vacuuming during the recording), but overall, it’s a pretty fascinating gig.

When jobs are posted for one to choose from, they are categorized by length, number of speakers, the name of the customer, the duration, and the subject (sports, religion, medical, etc.). You can preview everything, even to the extent of listening to an entire project, but you then run the risk of somebody else snagging the job while you’re listening. To that end, you can claim a job, and if you decide you can’t do it or don’t want to do it after all, you can “unclaim” it within an hour without it counting against you. Actually, you can unclaim it any time, but after an hour, it affects your metrics.

Those metrics show how you’ve been doing with your jobs, and include scores on accuracy, formatting, on time submissions, and so on. The higher your scores over X period of time allows you to advance, which in turn allows you to have access to jobs sooner than people lower down the ladder, earn more money, and take on extra work like grading other transcriptionists and doing closed-captioning. I wanted to advance as quickly as possible, so I burned the midnight oil for two weeks to max out the numbers and get to the top, earning the title of “Revver+.”

I’ll admit, the job is more challenging than I thought, and takes a combination of skill, strategy, and, memorization. My typing has never been consistently great, and it goes down a peg when typing something I’m listening to, but it’s been improving since starting this job. I’ve learned a number of keyboard shortcuts built into the Rev editor, and got a foot pedal that I use to start, stop, and scroll through audio. These have all helped to increase my speed, and speed is money.

My three biggest challenges are:

  • Not typing what I hear. There are two kinds of projects: Verbatim and, um, not-verbatim, I guess. In the case of verbatim, you write everything, from coughs in the background to the “ums,” slang, and stutters people tend to sprinkle their speech with. In regular projects, you ignore all that and write the core of what the subject is saying. (“It’s, like, um, challenging.” = “It’s challenging.”) I tend to get in a zone and write what I’m hearing, at least as far as dialogue goes.
  • Typing what I didn’t hear. An issue I didn’t know I had until I’d done some proofreading of my own work is a tendency to fill in blanks and hear things backwards. I’m not sure if this stems from dyslexia, a lack of listening skills, or what, but if the speaker says “I thought about going to the mall downtown,” I might write “I thought about going down to the mall.”
  • The APS, CMS, and MWDEU can, apparently, kiss it. Transcription grammar rules seem to be a mix of stylebook standards and total nonsense. I’m sure the stuff that seems ridiculous actually makes sense in some transcription-specific way, but not in the way things are correctly written in any other setting. For example, numbers need to be either numerals or spelled, regardless of the quantity of digits. My biggest issue is that they are rigid in the notion that sentences should never, ever start with conjunctions, whether every style guide for the English language says it’s okay or not. Usually, sentences can be edited with punctuation or omission to avoid starting a sentence with conjunctions, but it can be slightly annoying.
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Slightly.

That said, my written grammar and spelling have been improving, as even knowing rules doesn’t do a lot of good if you don’t practice. (Because I just wrote that, I’m sure this post is riddled with errors.)

Overall, the toughest part of the job is also the best part: flexibility. I don’t have to show up anywhere and punch a time clock, so I can work when I’m free. If I’m ever free, which I’m not, at least not as much as I’d like. The benefit to working away from home is having to be there during certain times; no distractions, no other obligations, no temptations. You’re there for however many hours straight, earning money without needing to work around anything.

As it stands, I’ve had a harder time lately than when I started out, since I neglected other things to crank out as much work as possible during the first few weeks, but mostly because right after we decided to give this whole thing a shot, we started transitioning the boys from cribs to beds. For the last few weeks, naps have been non-existent (except for a few in the car), so I lose the possibility of that work time.

Even if the boys do nap, it can be tricky work that requires listening and focus will come to a screeching halt if there are toddlers to deal with. These jobs are all on a deadline, and getting interrupted can potentially wreck any productivity. In fact, I’m finishing this post instead of working because the boys are being more high maintenance than usual and I have appeased them with Elmo (more on that later).

Speaking of skipping naps, it has also taken its toll on me; I never realized how even a short nap on their part can be very rejuvenating for me. Being with awake two-year-olds for 12-13 solid hours with no break for at least five days a week can push me to  the point of physical and mental collapse. I’ve gone to bed (and actually fallen asleep) a few times over the last few weeks before ten, which is unheard of, and I’ve basically lost my infamous 10:00pm second wind, which has for years has been my most productive time. This loss of night work time completes the circle of not being able to keep up on jobs as much as I’d like.

There’s also more familial obligation than working away from home. Yes, I get to see the family more, but it’s hard to say to my wife, “Good luck, I’ll be in the basement, don’t bother me,” when the boys are being difficult and I’m right there. We’re trying to get in a groove, balancing this job with family time, but there’s a learning curve, especially since the boys aren’t napping now.

All in all, I’m glad we’re taking a shot at this. If nothing else, I’ll get to add something to my résumé and have a story to tell the kids about that time I tried something and failed, so they probably shouldn’t try new things because life is failure and pain and loss. But maybe this’ll be awesome and go smoothly. Either way, I’m having genuine fun at a job for the first time in a very long time, and that’s worth the challenge.

Let’s Do This Thing

…We’re going for it. If you’re falling behind on reading my posts (the same way I’m falling behind on writing them), you might have missed my last two, wherein I talked about the need for me to go from full-time stay-at-home-dad to full-time SAHD and part time wage-earner. As much as I love contributing financially to the family, my work experience before, during, and after college has consisted of various levels of food service and/or retail; noble professions to be sure, but I’m tired of them, my wife’s tired of being a restaurant widow, and the boys would probably like to keep our current arrangement of seeing each other over the weekends.

A couple of years ago, I began aspiring more than ever to earn enough money to keep things nice and stable without having to stand at a counter and feign interest in how someone’s day is going, like I do when my wife comes home from wherever it is that she goes.

While my education, ambition, and a handful of skills said that I could do something new to earn a little scratch, the reality of nearly two decades of work experience and the challenge of learning a new job while taking care of twin babies said something different:

I think they were being sarcastic.

Still, while researching work-from-home jobs, I came across Rev, an online transcription service that pays people to transcribe audio files it uploads onto its site. I took the entry test, got accepted*, and was able to start listening to recordings of people and typing them out for money. Only I didn’t.

Even something as simple as transcription seemed too challenging to leap into, what with still working at the store and doing the parenting thing. It was also partially the fear factor of starting something new when real time and money were at stake.

When Kat accepted her new job in D.C., we decided to try things with me as a full-time SAHD. It’s a job I’m fairly good at, and, unlike my previous jobs, it allows me to exercise my own brand of dictatorial control without HR always getting involved.

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“For the last time, refer to them as ‘valued team members!’ No more of this ‘discontented rabble’ nonsense!”

It’s doable, but it doesn’t give us as much wiggle-room or ability to save as we’d like, so we decided it would be best for me to bring home something more useful to the family than anecdotes about the day’s trip to Target. (Spoiler: I forgot the one thing I went for.)

Which brings us back to the transcription thing. We did the math, and based on two trial weeks, it seemed like a viable option. By then, I had actually applied for a weekend job at a nearby grocery store, a job I subsequently interviewed for and was offered.

*deep breath*

I respectfully declined. I haven’t declined many job offers before, and to roll the dice on this new thing was pretty…well…dicey.

Yep, we decided to go for broke (insert uncomfortable laugh here) and give the “me doing a job I like” thing a whirl. I’ll get more into the five w’s of the job in my next post, and it will be a while before we see if this was a huge mistake or not, but we’re at that now-or-never point of trying something new. It’s something that might not be as lucrative as other prospects, but which can potentially pay off in other dividends, like work-life balance, mental health, and…well, that’s really about it.

For now, we’re 90% excited and optimistic, and only 10% WHAT THE HOLY [EXPLETIVE DELETED] WERE WE THINKING??? Given that this, right now, is the happiest I’ve been with my life in a  long while, I’m really hoping we can make it work out. Well, I know we can make it work out, I hope we do make it work out. The fact that we physically work out so rarely gives me cause for concern.

*I’ll discuss this in better detail later, but I want to emphasize the point that I am not an employee of Rev, but am classified as a “contractor,” self-employed and, unlike my last job, able to come to work in my boxers, if I want.

The Best $4.68 I Ever Made

…I might have another option. Maybe. We’ll see.

If you missed my last post re: us not being in the 1%, I’ll sum it up briefly: I need to pick up some extra work to add a little padding to our finances in case of those unforeseen expenses that tend to pop up exclusively when you don’t have padding.

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It’s called “Murphy’s Sucker-Punch.”

This would mean missing weekend time with the family – basically the only quality time all four of us spend together – but sometimes necessity trumps preferences.

That said, at some point in the past you might have read or heard me mention a transcription “job” I had been “hired” for. I took some tests for a transcription company and became a contractor. This allowed me to choose audio transcription jobs that they post, and work whenever and wherever I want, and earn a little walkin’ around money. It’s a much better way to earn extra cash than the last thing I tried.

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Now I’m married and a father, so I do this for free.

You also might have read or heard me lamenting the fact that I could never scrounge up the time, energy, or wherewithal to get rocking and/or rolling on this transcription job.

I took this test roughly two years ago, and almost immediately, my eyes had a faraway look, dreaming about busting out transcriptions throughout the day, filling in spare time by earning money for the fam by doing something I enjoy. The (then) forthcoming babies would be strapped to me as I worked, sound asleep through the day, soothed by the clickety-click of me typing hundreds of words per minute and the soft glow of the computer monitor.

But then…

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This guy again!

Getting started proved harder than I thought. I had new twin babies, I was still working at the store four days a week, my “free time” was actually spent cooking, cleaning, running, questioning my life choices, and trying to keep up on this blog.

When it became clear that we’d probably need to add a secondary income, the obvious choice was to have me get back into the grocery/food-service/retail game. Frankly, I’m a bit tired of that game, but you do what you gotta do.

I had a bit of a now-or-never moment and decided to at least be able to say I’d given the transcription thing a shot. I logged in to my two-year-old account, re-read some tutorials, and plunged in. I took the shortest job they had. I didn’t make a lot of money for that first job – just $4.68 – but it was the first job I’ve been paid for that wasn’t in some sort of customer service field. Other, than, well, the customers of the transcription service.

Who knows? Maybe I can turn this into at least something to add a few bucks here and there to the budget, and have a job I enjoy. In case you skimmed over the title of this post, it was the best $4.68 I’ve ever earned.

Of course, this whole post is basically just a footnote now, because…

Back to Work

When we uprooted our lives to move to Virginia for Kat’s new job, we knew there was a possibility – probably a strong possibility – that we’d need to reassess the “stay at home dad” situation at some point. When we looked at our new income versus outgo, we found that it was going to be tight. The cost of living here is higher than Washington (believe it or not), and we knew it was going to be a pretty thin margin.

We recently decided that, unfortunately, the time has come to look at me going from full-time SAHD to a full-time SAHD and a part-time employee somewhere. I’ll be trying to find something in grocery/food/retail, since those are apparently my only marketable skills ever since that accident sidelined my skating career.

They called me "Belle of the Ice."

They called me the “Belle of the Ice.”

I’ll still be home with the boys during the week, and ultimately (“hopefully”) the plan is for me to work a shift each day on weekends. I of course don’t mind doing whatever I need to do for the security of the family, but for the last few months I’ve called no man mister, and it’s been nice. It’s also nice is some time off from morning-to-night responsibility, and filling up all seven days with full-time work of one kind or another will probably be a little tiring.*

We talked about day care (too expensive), a part-time nanny like we had in WA (expensive and hard to find), and getting an au pair (a young woman [or man] would be living with us), but those parentheticals outweighed the notion of having me go to work during the week. Just like when I was part-time at Met, it doesn’t make sense to work a job just to pay someone to watch the boys so that I can work at that job.

This leaves working weekends, and that should at least be enough to have some cushioning and still be able to afford to send donations to Peter Popoff.

The first taste of Miracle Spring Water is free, but sooner or later everyone comes back to the Popper.

The first taste of Miracle Spring Water is free, but sooner or later, everyone comes back to the Popper.

While I’ve (mostly) always taken pride in a job well done, the SAHD job is the only one that has ever brought me true fulfillment. I also like to think that I’m really awesome at it.

That, and delivering moving soliloquies.

That, and delivering moving soliloquies.

I might be missing out on family time on the weekends, but I’ll have that time during the week, and I’ll feel good about contributing to the family in a more tangible way again.

That said…(continued here).

*I know a lot of parents out there struggle much harder than we have to, and I don’t want to understate my respect for those who do; I know a little something about it. I’ve just been fortunate enough to have lots of time with the boys and weekends with the whole family, and I’ve gotten kind of addicted to it. That, and Miracle Spring Water.

Plearning

The other day we took the boys to the Tacoma Children’s Museum (my review here). I’ll admit that I went in with a bit of trepidation; I cringed at the thought of looking at museum exhibits with 1-year-old twins. If I had done some research (read: asked my wife one question), I would have known that the museum is basically a huge play place designed to stimulate sensory development and imagination.

I would have killed to go to a place like this when I was little; though I’m pessimistic as to what the policy would be regarding allowing a homicidal toddler to come in.

The boys had great fun, and as we watched them play and learn (I have dubbed it “plearning”), we actually learned a little more about where they’re at developmentally. All in all, a very good experience, and I highly recommend it if you have kids in the single-digit age range. If you want to take older kids, people will probably look at you weird. If you go and don’t have any children, please never read this blog again and drive your windowless van out of Washington.

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“Are you kidding? I look like Thanos’ janitor.”

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“Guys, GUYS?! They have rocks here, just like everywhere I go in the world! Sweet!”

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“Malkovich Malkovich?”

Serious caption: They had these things that were literally metal rods protruding from rocks. Eye-removing and stone-age assault capabilities aside, the boys loved working on getting various objects with holes drilled in them onto said rods. It was really fascinating to watch how developed their hand/eye coordination has become, especially considering how neglectful we are when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Serious caption: They had these things that were literally metal rods protruding from rocks. Eye-removing and stone-age assault capabilities aside, the boys loved working on getting various objects with holes drilled in them onto said rods. It was really fascinating to watch how developed their hand/eye coordination has become, especially considering how neglectful we are when it comes to that kind of stuff.

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“Guys, GUYS?! They have a sink here!”

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Today’s lesson: Fire is snuggly.

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“You know what my kids don’t know enough about? Opening doors. I wish they had something that could show my toddler how to access areas where he shouldn’t be.”

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I believe they call this “The Battle of the Somme Experience”.

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Pictured: A happy dad with his sons. Also: some sort of light-up table thing that I’m pretty sure caused some permanent eye damage.

Empty quiet house…

K and the boys are off in the other Washington visiting friends and family in the area, and I decided to take a few vacation days to relax and get some work done at home that I can’t always manage to when I’ve got toddlers…toddling, and what-not, right under foot.
Between work, home in general, the twins in particular, and all the other bits and pieces that account for my time, I have been missing a lot of sleep and failing to get things that are important to our family (like home maintenance) and things that are important to me (like writing) done. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up to only a little behind this week!
That said, my emotional stages regarding this “stag” time have been surprisingly inconsistent. They have gone something along the lines of:
• Oh my God, I can’t wait until you people get out of my hair.
• You’re leaving tomorrow? Already?
• OH MY GOD, I can’t wait until you people get out of my hair!
• I can’t believe they’re gone…
• This house is really empty and quiet…
• THAT WAS THE BEST SLEEP ANYONE EVER HAS EVER HAD EVER!!! STAY AWAY FOREVER!
• This house is really empty and quiet…
• *has panic attack trying to decide what to do with all this time*
• I can strut around with the TV up and vacuum at midnight and not bother anyone! This is awesome!
• NO, THIS WAS THE BEST SLEEP ANYONE EVER HAS EVER HAD EVER!!!
• My purpose seems a little less purposeful…
• That was a good run; a good lonely, lonely run.
• This house is really empty and quiet…
• I’m staying out late with beer and cigars and grilling under our open windows and IDGAF! Time by myself rules!!!
• Who did I cook all this food for?
• *has panic attack trying to decide what to do with all this time*
• At least I can finally get some writing – my sole catharsis – done!
• *has writer’s-block panic attack*
• This house is really empty and quiet…

It's not all drudgery when they're here...

It’s not all drudgery when they’re here…

Priorities

Wait for it…

I’m going to try to paint a word picture that does justice to the outing the boys and I took to the nearby beach park the other day.

We arrived at Dash Point Park with little to no fanfare and I unloaded the boys from the van without incident.

Now, as you might or might not know (depending on if you read this blog, which I guess you do or you wouldn’t be seeing this), M likes to wear stuff on his head*, to the extent that he puts things on by himself and wears them around the house. *refer to figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

“The way I wear my hat? No, they can’t take that away from me.”

When we got to the beach, M decided that due to the bright sun, he’d probably better wear some head protection. Actually, I’m not sure if he thought that at all, but he still grabbed one of the beach pails I’d brought and plopped it down right on top of his head.

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“Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard you call…” Ladies and gentleman, Jimmy Bucket.

OK, sure, whatever. He’s worn buckets in the past, this was no different other than the fact that we were in public and that there was a little shovel on the handle of the pail. Hey, whatever floats his boat, I figured. He’s happy wearing a pail and spade on his head, I’m happy for him.

He wore the bucket through the parking lot, down the beach, and up to the water. He wore it as he picked up pebbles and handed them to me. He wore it while C ventured out into the water just a bit.

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He wore it when the first wave hit.

In this part of the Puget Sound, the waves aren’t usually much to speak of, at least not on a clear, sunny day with no wind. I’m guessing that the big-here-small-everywhere-else waves that began crashing into the shore were from the wake from a freighter or something. Wherever they came from, a series of waves started “crashing” into the shore, scaring the absolute living crap out of the boys.

By the time the second wave hit (none of them even reached far enough up the beach to touch us) I was running up the beach, a crying, panicky boy under each arm.

Once we were at the top of the beach and out of “harm’s way,” I played with the boys at the little playground there as they calmed down, then put them in swings facing the water and pushed them for quite a while so that they could see the water calm down and smooth out.

I took the boys out of the swings and did have to coax them a bit…

“No.”

They climbed over and played with some driftwood logs, and I finally got them down to the water again.

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They were calm for the most part, especially M, surprisingly. C stayed pretty tense and seemed actually mad at the water.

“Curse you, mighty Poseidon!”

“Umm…he said it, mighty Poseidon.”

It was a pretty mundane outing except for one thing: As I was trotting up the beach away from the water, the boys sobbing hysterically and holding on to me, I had to set M down to get a better grip on him. In so doing, I knocked the bucket off of his head, and it bounced about six inches away from us. Without missing a beat, M – who I hadn’t grabbed up again – stopped, turned around, took a few steps back towards the water, grabbed his bucket, slammed it down on his head, turned around and came back to me, arms out, still crying. I was obviously busy and the boys were upset and everything, so I didn’t get footage of M’s risk-life-and-limb devotion to his hat, but I’m including what I think is a pretty accurate recreation:

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