Archive for the ‘The Job’ Category

A Day in the Life of a Work-At-Home Dad

People, you know who you are, often ask me what it is like to be a work-at-home dad. Some people tend to think it is all fun and games, never considering the fact that I’m putting in a collective 60+ hours each week in actual “work” for sources that actually “pay” me. Others think that it would drive them crazy—that they would never get anything done with kids underfoot. The latter is closer to the truth, but I would be a fool to complain about it. There are worse things than kids underfoot.

That said, here is a typical day in my life (in this scenario it was Tuesday):

The conference call was at 2:30, the same time that school lets out. I stood outside the classroom talking about these and those while smiling broadly at my son like he was the only one there.

We walked to the park, his hand in mine, my phone on mute and his mouth anything but. He ran off to play with his friends and I sat in the shade of a lonely tree nodding at people that couldn’t see me and drawing stares from those that could.

Every so often we would wave at one another.

This is my multitasking—a normal day of working at home and all that comes with it. There are lunches made over a warm breakfast, notes signed for stuff I skimmed, the frustrated scramble of forgotten things, and the grooming of two children that take it personally.

The routine: First we drop my wife off at work, and then I leave the boys to a new day of public education. Home is a sip of coffee, a dog to pet, a breath to take, and then I write until the phone rings. A knock at the door. An important email. Texts. Skype. Phone. The dogs are barking. The coffee is cold. Phone. Someone tagged me on Facebook. The deadlines go straight to voicemail.

There are not enough hours to get through half of it, and then I am standing in a school restroom haunted by the smell of aimless generations, helping my son make a square shield of tissue paper upon a cold, small seat of porcelain. I am talking into a microphone hanging loosely from my shirt, the topic is trending, and my son is grunting loudly.

I’m already on mute by the time the toilet flushes.

Sometimes working at home means working in a stall with a stinky 6-year-old, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Although I could do without the smell.

But wait, there’s more! After school I take the boys home and help them with their homework while trying to put the finishing touches on whatever project of mine was due the week before, and the phone. And the phone.

Then it is back to pick up my wife, a family walk on the beach, the rinsing of sand, a healthy dinner, a bit of TV, and just like that we missed bedtime again. There are teeth to brush, stories to share, kisses goodnight, and soon everyone is asleep but me.

I work for hours in a quiet house with a silent phone. There may be whiskey where coffee used to be. Sometimes there is both.

The sun rises over morning mist and flocks of noise. I am too often there to see it.

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The Fun is in the Clicking

Blogging is all about ebbs, flows, and being too busy to maintain one’s personal space. It happens. I’m sure you are over it.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing anything of substance — I have. I’m just writing a limited supply of substance, so I have to put it where the paycheck is.

To that end, I would be thrilled if you took the time to read the posts below:

BABBLE

What Makes Kids Popular?

“I’m not even sure that I would want my kids to be popular. Yes, I want them to be liked by their peers and to have good friends, but there are a lot of trappings to popularity that I would rather they not deal with. First world problems? Maybe — but, and I’m painting with the stereotype brush here, I wouldn’t want them to feel that they had to be something that they are not. I want them to be, first and foremost, comfortable in their own skin. I’m basing a lot of this on Glee and various Disney Channel movies, so forgive me if my grasp of stereotypes is a little rusty.”

 

There is a Monster at the End of This Video Game

“What happens is that a sweet, sensitive boy becomes a monster. He yells and screams at those that play with him or those that tell him it is time to stop. He talks in quick, sharp daggers of hateful speech and he whines when we mention it. It is ugly.”

 

My Thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage

“The right for all people, in this case, all tax-paying citizens of the United States, to marry the person of their choosing is such an obvious thing that to fight against it is well beyond the bounds of politics and commonsense. To suggest otherwise is to declare an ignorance of history and to put oneself squarely on the wrong side of it.”

DADCENTRIC

The Wishing Tree and Buckets in Bloom

“…for every single note was a child’s wish, grown from whispers and wandering thought, written down with careful hand, and tied somewhat gingerly to the hopes of the wild.”

 

There are a lot of other things to do on the Internet, and I appreciate you taking the time to read the words that I fling on it. Also, I would like to thank BlogHer for naming me one of their 2012 Voices of the Year. The post that made it happen is “When Stuffed Animals Die.”

 

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Where I’ve Been & What I’m Doing: Not an Essay

Insert "down the rabbit hole" reference here. Look smart.

Hello, Grantland readers! Thanks for stopping by. You found me running a clip show. How embarrassing for all of us. For those of you that aren’t readers of Grantland, you should be, especially since they used my video of Darth Vader throwing out the first pitch at last Friday’s Dodger game.

  • You may recall a long time ago (see, last post) when I talked about our postponement of Easter. It happened. We thanked the rabbits accordingly. Or we may have thanked a snake. I don’t know. Someone dropped some jelly beans and I wasn’t sticking my hand in the hole to get them back, although, to be clear, I’m a firm believer in the non-hurting qualities of dirt.
  • I attended the world premiere of The Avengers, and my thoughts on the movie are under embargo until May, but seeing as half the internet has ignored that nugget I’ll give you this much: The Avengers movie is freaking fantastic. Also, Sam Jackson gave me the stink eye:

  • Speaking of Disney, I took a trip to Pixar Animation Studios, and it was exactly as amazing as I thought it would be. I thought it would be really amazing. I shot arrows!
  • In other news, I was put on the spot by my 8-year-old when he brought up the subject of sex. I handled it okay, but visit DadCentric and let me know what you think!
  • Last, but not least, I have a new post up at Babble’s Dadding, and your pageviews could send a kid to camp. Not really. However, I would greatly appreciate any traffic you could send my way. It’s cute pictures of kids, people, what’s not to click?

Tune in later this week as I’ve got some spring cleaning to do, and that means giveaways for all the readers (but mostly the winners)!

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The Brave Little Poster

Blogging hasn’t made me rich, unless you’re one of those saps that thinks friends make you rich, then sure, I’ve made a few bucks. But here’s the thing, friends don’t pay the rent, unless they are really great friends, which I’m sure some of them are. Call me!

What blogging has done, in addition to the many friends I’ve met (especially the great ones), is allow me opportunities that I never would have had with a regular job like a job. For instance, in the past year I’ve drank too much whiskey while talking to Bog Iger in Hawai’i, chatted with Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog) while hanging out at Jim Henson Studios (get The Muppets on DVD/Blu-ray tomorrow!), and watched my oldest son get his Jedi on at Skywalker Ranch. All of these experiences (and more!) have been incredible opportunities and I am thankful for them. Sure, they were the result of lots of hard work, and they themselves resulted in even more hard work, but every single one of them has been worth it. And then some.

Which leads me to my next great adventure: Next month I will be Disney’s guest at Pixar Studios in Emeryville, CA, and all will be right with the world. Well, my world anyway. I don’t know what you’re into.

I’m fully aware that you probably hate me a little bit right now, and I can say, with all honesty, I’m okay with that.

The trip includes a tour of Pixar Studios, a screening of Disneynature’s Chimpanzee (in theaters on Earth Day), a sneak peak of Pixar’s Brave and La Luna (the Oscar-nominated short to be shown before Brave), and a day at the wonderful Walt Disney Family Museum, which I just took my son to for his report on Walt Disney because I’m THE. BEST. DAD. EVER. True story.

You still hate me. I can feel it.

Here’s where you, the reader, come in. If you have any questions for Mark Andrews, the director of Brave, or any of the film’s animators, then please leave them in the comments below and I will ask them (unless your question sucks) during the interview process. It’s just like being there! Especially for me.

Hey kids, do you have the Facebook? Then you can “Like” Brave, Pixar, and Disneynature at your leisure. You can also like me. You can really like me. But I totally understand if you don’t.

Disclosure: This trip is on Disney’s very kind dime, but the opinions will be mine (something they know quite well).

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I Went to Dad 2.0 and All You Got Was This Lousy Recap

It was four hours past the the day I turned 41, and I stumbled into a dark hotel room covered in the smells of whiskey, Texas, and things best forgotten. The night had grown stale and suddenly quiet. I threw my clothes on the floor and I fell asleep immediately.

The morning found me relatively fresh and thankful for it. I was at the Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin, Texas, and I had a reputation to live up to — the drinking was only part of it.

The other part was crying in public, which is something of a running joke among those that have seen me speak on the topic of parenting. Turns out I’m a freaking sap. (Also a sap, Robert Candelino of Dove Men+Care, a sponsor and speaker that lost it on stage. I’m only bringing it up because a) it was quite touching, and b) hello? When Doves Cry). Luckily, I managed to forgo my own tears this round (barely), much to the chagrin of those that enjoy such things. Rest assured, I didn’t let them down on the drinking.

But it wasn’t all beer and bourbon.

The Dad 2.0 Summit was an amazing meeting of parent bloggers and brands — a public place for parent relations, which sounds weird now that I typed it, but I’m leaving it in. Somewhere in the distance that’s what she said.

Blogging conferences seem to appear at just the right moment. I have been in this space for a long time by most standards, and I find that my passion for it tends to wax and wane like so many moons and other things that cows jump over. It is safe to say that recent events and the lack thereof had me on the wane. There was thought of turning away.

I am as unemployed as I have ever been, leaving me embarrassed, stressed, and flirting with depression. I thought about skipping the conference. It was only due to a series of phone calls with an impassioned Doug French, one of the founders of Dad 2.0 (also, John Pacini), that I somewhat reluctantly decided to make the trip despite the funds involved and the lack of them coming in. I’m glad I did.

I was greeted by familiar faces (lots of the DadCentric team!) too numerous to mention here (plus I know I would forget someone and subsequently feel like a jerk), and many new faces that became fast friends. What can I say, I’m a people person.

There were engaging conversations about parenting, dads, writing, media, brands, and peanut brittle. Who decided it was a holiday thing? Peanut brittle is awesome all year.

There were things to do, things to learn, and things that I will never forget. There were also plenty of things that didn’t apply to me at all, which is fantastic, because they were presented in an open and honest manner, allowing for curiosity and contemplation when needed, or judgmental silence where warranted.  And sometimes I was just looking toward the distance and thinking about my family.

I managed to find room in my bag for a big box of Legos and pinned my newfound focus next to the heart on my sleeve. I had gone to Austin in hopes of finding what I wanted, a job, which didn’t happen, but I came home with something equally important (though less help financially) — I came home with what I needed, and that feels pretty damn good.

No, it wasn’t peanut brittle.

************************************

This is the only picture I took. It is the only picture I needed.

(My roommates Muskrat & Chad performing Unchained Melody Remix: Ghost in the Machine)

And a couple of photos that Charlie took so that he could enjoy me at his leisure:

Here I am blowing (save it) out the candle on my birthday cake thing which I then shared with the 10 other bloggers at the table. Yes, I’m eating soup and salad. I believe I have already established that I am sensitive like that. Special thanks to Bruce and Charlie for buying my birthday lunch!

And this is what Andy (Betadad), Charlie (How to be a Dad), and I do when we sit outside a gas station for two hours waiting on a cab. Yes, we were posing for album covers. So what? The band is called DadShart. We’ll be touring this spring. Mostly smooth jazz.

 

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UPDATED:

For the purpose of total transparency, let me say that I stole the following thank you list of sponsors from John Cave Osborne. Literally, I broke into his blog when he was out grilling eggs or whatever the hell they do in Tennessee and just took it. He had it coming.

Much thanks to  the sponsors of Dad 2.0Johnson & JohnsonKinect for Xbox 360HondaLGZatarain’sCLRDoveLegoPhilips NorelcoScottsMiracle GrowShot@life.orgSpareOne, and Tide.

I didn’t steal this part (but I would have): I would also like to thank my fellow panel members: Andy, Jason, and Mike.

Also, I got shot. Thanks to Stacy for reminding me of what was, obviously, a very dark time for me.

Don’t worry, I’m okay. Relatively.

Photo by Caleb, who was, as always, exceptional.

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