Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 2014

Picking the tree.
Putting the star on top.
Coco's First Nutcracker Ballet
December 15, 2014

It was Daddy's first Nutcracker too.
"I want binoculars for Christmas." 
(Seriously, she does.)
Margot:  "Not having it."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snow. Uphill. Both ways.

Dear Readers:   About this time last year I wrote a post about the exhausting schedule of managing “three under three” – three children under the age of three including infant twins – while both Ken and I were working far more than full time and both of us were traveling for work.  At the time I wrote it I remember thinking, “I don’t want to forget just how exhausting all this was.  Someday I might think it couldn’t have been that hard.”  Well – note to future self – it was hard.  Really hard.  Worth it, of course.  But hard nonetheless.  A year later I find myself in a similar frame of mind.  Hence the following post.  It’s long and I won’t know whether or not you read it.  Feel free to skip the text and go straight to the pictures.  Certainly the pictures are the better part of the post.

It’s been more than three months since I last posted here.  Although I’ve wanted to post something and have felt guilty about not posting anything, I’ve not done it until now.  Well, the following better-late-than-never post might provide a bit of insight into our lives for the past three months and why a blog post just hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list.  (And, hey, future-Coco, future-Flynn and future-Margot, pay attention to this post because this is my version of “I remember when I had to walk to school in the snow uphill both ways.”  And do not roll your eyes future-Flynn!  ‘cause I can see you from here!)
Ken and I’ve been a bit busy. 

In September, October and November, between the two of us, we took 35 flights and were away from home 57 nights.
Ken finished his fourth season as a designer on Home Made Simple in early October.  After working for nearly ten weeks in Los Angeles with only a few opportunities to come home for the weekend, he finally came home on October 3rd. Then (bless his heart!) he started traveling back and forth to Los Angeles every week for three appearances each week on Home & Family.  He leaves the house on Tuesday mornings at 4:30 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. flight and then flies home on Thursday evenings.  Fortunately, most weeks he’s home in time for dinner on Thursdays, so he’s only gone two nights a week.

When he’s not in Los Angeles (or, actually, even when he is in Los Angeles) he’s prepping for upcoming segments on Home & Family, building his media presence (blogging, posting, tweeting, etc.), and managing the Wingard store.  The store runs pretty smoothly and Ken can manage it remotely, calling a few times a day, placing orders on the road, and spending time in the store on the weekends.  There have been some hiccups of course.  Several weeks ago a now-former employee decided to “follow his heart” and go to some festival in Oregon.  He thought leaving a Post-it note on the door was a sufficient “won’t be coming to work today” message.  Fortunately, because Ken calls the store multiple times a day he quickly figured out that this guy had, well, “followed his heart.”

Fortunately, Ken’s travel schedule and my travel schedule have not conflicted.  My travel has been mostly at the end of the week, through the weekend and/or at the beginning of the week.  And most of it has been on the West Coast.  But the scheduling is still difficult.  October was particularly challenging.  Three times I had to be on a flight leaving San Francisco on a Thursday, the day Ken comes home from Los Angeles in the evening.  On two of those Thursdays I dropped Cornelia off at school in the morning and then went straight to the airport.  Our good friend (actually, pretty much our best friend at this point) Eric picked her up from school in the afternoon and delivered her home. On the third Thursday, Ken and I played our parental version of “Tag, you’re it!  Ken arrived home in the evening as usual.  He came up the front steps and in the door; I met him at the door, gave him a kiss good-bye, took my suitcase and trotted down the steps and into a waiting cab headed for the airport. 
In November a few weeks ago I was in Seattle for a meeting and I realized that my day-long meeting would not finish in time for the last flight home to San Francisco.  Ken had left for Los Angeles that morning and I was supposed to be home that night, albeit late.  Fortunately our nanny Mari was happy to stay the night.  The following morning I got up at 3:15 a.m. to catch a 5:00 a.m. flight to San Francisco so I could be home by 8:00 a.m., take Cornelia to school, and then be at work by 9:00 a.m. 

One Tuesday night in October the kids went to sleep with Ken home and me gone and then woke up on Wednesday morning with me home and Ken gone.  Coco was entirely nonplussed when she found Daddy home and Papa gone that morning.  I think she thought we were being funny.

(Hey, future-Coco, future-Flynn and future-Margot, are you listening?  Like I said up above, “In the snow.  Uphill.  Both ways.”)
On the days Ken is gone – Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays – my days are divided into four parts.
The morning shift:  Starts at 7:00 a.m., unless Coco is up earlier.  Get ready for work, usually with Coco’s company.  (These days she likes to put shaving cream on her face while Daddy shaves.)  On school days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) get Coco dressed and fed and make her lunch.  At some point the twins wake up.  Deliver sippy cups of milk, change diapers.  Twins roam around upstairs while I pick up before Mari arrives at 8:00 a.m.  Leave the house at 8:15 a.m., taking Coco to school if it’s a school day.  Arrive at work by 9:00 a.m.

The day shift:  Work from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. if it’s a school day, or to 5:30 p.m. if it’s not a school day.

The evening shift:  On school days take the train to Noe Valley to pick Coco up at school.  Take the train home with Coco.  Home by 6:00 p.m. every day.  Mari has Margot and Flynn fed and in their pajamas.  From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., play, dinner for Coco, more play, story time for twins, bedtime for twins, pajamas for Coco, story time for Coco, bedtime for Coco.
The night shift:  Work from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and beyond.

(future-Coco!  future-Flynn! future- Margot!  Say it with me now:  “Snow!  Uphill!  Both ways!”) 
So, dear readers, you might wonder if I worry about our schedule and its impact on the kids.  I used to, but I don’t anymore. 

I don’t think our schedule is unique.  It can’t be unique.  How many families these days don’t have working parents juggling busy work and childcare schedules?  I don’t even think our travel schedules are exceptional.  Lots and lots of people travel for work and many people have to be away from home for much longer periods of time.  I think the description of our past three months would resonate with a lot of busy -- and exhausted -- parents.
I think we’re lucky that every day our kids wake up to a parent at home to start their day and have a parent at home for dinner and bedtime stories every night.  Mornings and evenings (at least while the kids are awake) are very rarely interrupted by work emails and phone calls.  Work on the weekend is generally very early in the morning or late at night.  When we are with the kids, we are with the kids.  And our routine times are special in their own way. 
Twice a week Coco and I commute home together.  We walk from her school to the train, wait a bit for it to come, ride it from Noe Valley to the Castro, and then walk home through Duboce Park.  I ask her how her day was at school (“Good,” she says.) and she asks me how my day was at work (“Fine,” I say.)  We share the left over Goldfish crackers from her lunch.  Sometimes we have adventures.  This week it rained so hard on our walk home that we had to take cover from the downpour.  We were literally huddled under an umbrella.  (Okay, I admit that I played up the adventure aspect a bit just to make it more interesting for her.) 

Every night for story time with Flynn and Margot I throw the bed pillows on the floor and all three of us pile on.  They hear the pillows hit the floor and they come running ready to plop themselves down.  Then they proceed to try to turn storybook pages before I’m done reading them or grab for the next book before I’m ready to read it.

Ken often takes Fridays off so that he can spend the day with the kids.  Invariably he takes them on an outing, typically to the park followed by lunch at a nearby cafĂ©.

So, in the end, really, we’re just like all the other busy parents out there.  We’re just making it work.

"Halloween caterpillars are No. 1!"

"I want to be a princess! 
Not a caterpillar!"

Halloween 2014