Thursday, September 16, 2010

progress report v.1

I'll be posting pictures of the next few rooms of our new home, once I am able to take pictures with natural light. Of course to do that, I'll need to get home before the sun is gone for the day.

We haven't done any painting yet. We haven't pulled up any carpet yet. We have, however, bought a dehumidifier and had approximately 300 empty boxes hauled away. It feels like there are still about 300 more to unpack. The kids are thrilled, though, because they love playing in boxes. Our basement has morphed in to a box village.

While I've been at the office, Charlie has been busy at home securing bids from a host of sources. Since Monday, he's had general contractors, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, flooring, chimney and tree removal experts file through the house. The bids have started to arrive and we weep over the money that we need to do repairs and renovations ... and the money we actually have.

There is a gap.

A large gap.

We're trying not to dwell on the fact that if we had sold our house in California for what it been appraised at three years ago, (i.e., before it dropped 60%), we'd actually be weeping with joy as we skipped through Home Depot.

On Tuesday, we had to have our chimney and two fireplaces repaired. While I wasn't planning for this improvement to occur so soon and thought it was instead, a simple cosmetic repair that we could tackle later, the fact that bricks were actually falling off the chimney didn't bode too well with our home insurance company. It seems they wanted us to have it fixed or they might need to suspend our policy.



Are you suggesting that bricks falling 30 feet to the lawn below is some kind of liability?!

And so it became, the cost for what I thought was a "simple" cosmetic repair took two men, three solid days and wound up costing us the equivalent of an all new marble bathroom.


Today, it took me almost two hours to drive seven miles to work. Because, there was a very small fender bender on one of the main roads.

Tonight, it took me almost an hour to drive home. Because, I saw that there was gridlock in front of me, so I tried to take a short cut and wound up horribly lost.

When I saw the sign that read, "Maryland Welcomes You!" I knew there was trouble.

Today was not a good day to forget my GPS at home.

I've driven this route to and from work now for almost two weeks, and I could tell that the traffic flow patterns today were highly unusual. Still, it fills me with dread to imagine what the roads will be like in January. When they're slick with ice.

I might have to learn how to cross-country ski.

Or get me some sled dogs.

For the past few days, I've noticed that Henry calls for Daddy when he gets hurt. He's happy enough to see me when I come home, but when Charlie walked the kids to the bus stop yesterday and I stayed back with my little tot, he almost crawled out of his skin that he couldn't be with DADDY. The thing is, he's always preferred me over anybody.

So, my heart nearly broke in two.

By the time Charlie returned, 20 minutes later, I had convinced my baby to snuggle with me on the couch and I was in heaven. But then I had to get up and push myself to leave for work and as I was preparing to go, my little boy clung to me crying.

As I had to peel his little hands off of me, my heart nearly broke in two.


And then it broke the whole way that I drove to work and sat in my itty bitty cube for the next several hours. And it really broke when Charlie called and let me talk to all the children when they came home from school and they all asked why I was gone SO MUCH?

While I really am enjoying the challenge of my new job, the whole "working in an office" thing isn't so great. Maybe it's the amount of time that I spend getting to and from the office every day that I could better spend on other things. Or maybe it's the constant distractions and disruptions and meetings and phone calls and what feels like ten minute hikes to use the restroom or get a sip of water.

I really thrive on being efficient and what I've concluded is that working in an office is anything but. To put it in perspective, as I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic this morning, I couldn't help but think about the destruction of our natural resources. And cancer. And child abuse. And elder abuse. And human trafficking. And terrorism. And then there's working in an office, which honestly haunts me just as much as the aforementioned. As a mother to young children who are growing up a little more every day, time is so incredibly valuable and precious to me. And yet, I feel like I'm wasting so much of it when I'm in an office five days a week.

This job that I have is very important for my family. I know that. I recognize the responsibility that is upon my shoulders and I'm doing the best I can to do it well. But here I am - on my first full week in to the office - and I can definitely say, it is NOT easy being away for the better part of my children's waking hours and this current work arrangement is not something that I'm optimistic I'll be able to sustain, long term.

I'm not opposed to being in an office.

I just don't want to be there every day.

Perhaps I'm just spoiled after working from a home office for the past 10 years. Because right now, try as I might, I cannot stop daydreaming that I could and should be at home.

I could get up in the morning and before anyone else is awake, spend an hour or two working. And then, I could wake the children up and help get them fed and out the door to school. And then, I could clean up from breakfast and make the beds and work for a few more hours. I could take a break to cuddle Henry, or he could sit on my lap while I check e-mail. I could walk to the bus stop to pick up the children and enjoy lunch with them. In the afternoon, while they play with their dad, I could get in a few more hours of uninterrupted work and then I could leisurely prepare dinner with my husband. Or, maybe I could play with them in the afternoon, and work at night, once they were asleep?

Either way, I'd undoubtedly get more things done in that span of time than what I've accomplished in an office for the past four days.

We could feed the children at a decent hour - get them to bed at a decent hour - and I would have ample time during the day to take pictures with NATURAL LIGHT.

Which takes me back to where I started this post.


And is yet one more reason I need to be home.


  1. I am sorry you are having a hard time adjusting to the new job. I know it would have sucked being away from my kids when they were little. My husband felt that way too and we just learned to make the most out of our weekends. Let the house work go and enjoy the weekends.

    Now I have to chuckle at the pics of the kids walking to the bus stop all in pants and long sleeve shirts. If you all are called now you are going to freeze come November lol lol

    Transplanted from MD to WV

  2. Sadly, this is the way of our world. My husband commutes to NYC (we live in NJ) and is gone at least 12 hours a day. In the fall and winter, he leaves in darkness and returns in darkness. He spends 20 minutes on each end of the day with our kids. Do I like it? No. Does he like it? No. Do we have a choice? Not really. In order for him to do what he does, he needs to be in New York. And in order for us to clothe, feed, house, and school our children, we need his income. We (and you) are lucky that one income is enough; that one parent can stay home and manage the house and children.

    Now, I like to imagine alternate lifestyles, like moving to the Berkshires or northern Michigan or a Montana ranch, where we can enjoy the out of doors and live a peaceful, leisurely life. It's a great fantasy but it's missing one crucial element: money. Sadly, we are not independently wealthy and have not (yet) won the lottery, so there is no foreseeable way to sustain such a lifestyle. And as frenetic and competitive as the NYC metro area can be, it also provides certain advantages: great schools, lots of cultural opportunities, proximity to many of the nation's greatest historical and natural parks and recreation centers. Much like D.C.

    Your complaints are valid. I wish things were different for all of us. Think of how happy the planet would be if we could eliminate commuting. As you have learned in the recent past, nothing is forever. Deal with your job, and your commute, as best as you can for now, and maybe, hopefully, it will change in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, appreciate the fact that you have a gorgeous new house in a secure neighborhood and a steady income. Trust me, a lot of people would be very happy to have that. Nothing like unemployment and foreclosure to make you appreciate the small comforts of a small cubicle...


  3. I am from San Diego as well (in fact, I still own my home in Oceanside because I could not bear to sell it for half of the price I paid for it 18 months before - so I feel your pain). Is there any way you could take the metro even if it means going in the opposite direction from your office to get to a station? Seems illogical but could be easier and quicker. The thing is, the infrastructure in this area is so poor, that even living very close to your work doesn't mean you will get there quickly - because the roads you use to get there are ridiculous. I would try the metro if at all possible, maybe as just an experiment.

  4. sad for you, I am a single mother of 2 and have always had to work out of the home so I feel your pain...hope it gets better or better yet hope you can work something out so you can stay home with your babies:)

  5. Is that a picture of your backyard!?!?! Wow! That is awesome!
    Do the triplets go only half days to kindergarten?
    Thinking of you during this transition.

    Laura Beun

  6. oh Jen that's just so sad.

    Do you think after you've been there a fews months, an eternity I know, they might let you work from home a couple of days a week?

  7. You are going through a big adjustment. Its okay to miss the kids, but also know whent to stop thinking about it. And focus on kicking ass currently. Your kids are in great hands. This is a phase of life. You will be onto the next phase soon enough. Don't get bogged down. Keep your chin up. You'll make it thru this.

  8. I hear you! I miss my old work schedule - at least two days at home every week. New employer...been here almost a year and thought for sure I'd feel comfortable asking for more flexibility by this point. Sadly, I don't.