New Chapter: Stay at Home Mom

After about 2.5 years of working from home, this September I decided my family deserved to have my full attention. My last day working for the radio station was October 31. I was  a bit nervous about our family losing my income, but overall felt pretty confident in my decision. Our loans will now be getting paid back slower and we won’t be doing any renovations on our house for several years. But I thought that seemed like a fair trade so that my kids didn’t have to share their mom with about 30 clients.

Now that my work days are two and a half months in the past, I look at the decision as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And I wanted to share some of the misconceptions people have regarding working from home.

When people heard I worked from home the immediate response was always “you’re so lucky!” People mean well when they say this, I know they do. But by the end, the phrase made me cringe. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful when I say it wasn’t luck that allowed me to work from home, but here’s why it wasn’t.

First of all I chose a job in a field (radio sales) which allows most employees schedule flexibility, with my eventual goal of raising a family in mind. Radio sales was only part of my job when I was full time at the station, but a part that I held onto because I knew it could be done remotely and that some day I may need to take advantage of that.

In my time as a full time employee at the station I worked hard to make myself invaluable to my boss. When I told him I was pregnant with Lennon and could no longer afford to work full time I felt certain he would ask me to keep my sales responsibilities and work from home on a commission basis. (But I wanted him to be the one to suggest it so it didn’t seem like allowing me to do so would be him doing me any sort of favor.)

So that covers why it wasn’t a lucky situation that I just happened to fall into but something that took forethought and work. Of course, my boss didn’t have to offer me the option to work from home, despite my labors. I admit luck played a role. But luck should not be getting all the credit here!

Then comes actually working from home…. “that’s so nice to work from the comfort of your home”, “how convenient to be able to set your own schedule”, “that’s great to be able to take care of your kids while doing your work.” Yeah… sort of.

When you think of working from home you think you’ll have a lot of say over what hours you’ll be working. And I’m sure for some people that’s true. But that was not the case for my job. It was more like being on call throughout the entire work day for 1/3 of the pay and then frantically trying to get to as much as possible once my husband was home for the evening. With 30 clients able to call at any minute and often needing something immediately, I tried several times to have certain hours that I focused on work, so that my kids could have my attention during the other times…. but it never happened. Because I couldn’t ignore anyone who called me during the “other times”.

Working from the comfort of your home is a phrase that just did not apply to me… I felt more like I lived in my office because of the above scheduling dilemmas. And yes, it sounds great to work in your PJs. But when you’ve been wearing the same pajamas for 3 days and you’re covered in spit up… I bet you’d rather have a daycare to drop the kids off at when a client decides they want to meet that afternoon… which brings me to another point. People would say well why don’t you bring the kids to daycare when you get backed up? Or when something comes up last minute? Because no daycare will keep 2 slots open for kids I might drop off twice a week and I might drop off once a month… Daycares can’t be profitable or operational by letting Moms like me drop their kids off whenever “work from home” gets to be too much.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side. I’m not writing this to make myself out to be a victim of an impossible situation. Working away from your kids sucks, you miss them. Not working sucks, you need more money. For this reason I think a lot of people think working from home is the best of both worlds. And they’re right. But it’s also the worst of both worlds. You have all the stress of work and of kids at the same time. And the guilt of not getting to work quick enough. And worse, the guilt of not giving your kids the attention they are seeking.

I’m writing this as food for thought for those considering working from home. I knew working from home with my 2 little ones would be challenging. But I don’t think I realized the extent of it. And I’m writing this to remind myself of the challenges. 1. Because I’m proud of myself for juggling my priorities as long as I did. And 2. Because in a year when I can’t afford a fancy vacation I may be wishing I didn’t give up the income I had… and this might remind me how much more valuable the day to day interactions I can now have with my kids are.

Rushing my kids home from the playground because a client called me at 1:00 and now I need to get an order placed by 2:00 is no longer something I have to worry about. When we have play dates with our friends I won’t have to feel guilty every time a client calls and I have to tell them “No I can’t get that started by tomorrow.” Or worse, spend the whole play date writing scripts from my kindle and calling the office to try to get the order placed without the accurate forms because it NEEDS to be on by tomorrow. I won’t have to close myself in another room to call a client back while my kid screams on the other side of the door. I will not miss any of this!

I’m so grateful to close this chapter of my life and move onto the next one.

Working from home was a very significant part of who I was and has helped shaped me into who I now am. The Mom I am. It was not lucky. It was hard work. So that I don’t seem completely ungrateful though by saying it wasn’t lucky, here are some things I do consider lucky in my life:

  1. I am lucky for my health and the health of my family
  2. I am lucky to have been born to a loving family and one that could afford to take care of me
  3. I’m lucky to be born in a country where I am free
  4. I am lucky to be born in an age with so many medical advancements (otherwise I’m positive I would have literally died in childbirth, if something like the plague didn’t get me before then.)
  5. I am lucky to have met Peter at the time in my life that I was ready to meet my soul mate.

And so much more! And now I’m off to enjoy time with my kiddoes!!




Name of the Day: Kipling

According to behind the name, Kipling (which originated as an English surname) means Cybell’s cottage… I can’t figure out who Cybell is though!  If I were to use the name I’d want to so further research on that. (Please comment if you have any knowledge.) But on the bright side, I love cottages. My grandparents had a cottage on a lake and many of my happiest childhood memories took place there.

This name is most associated with Rudyard Kipling, writer of The Jungle Book, as well as many other works. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, the first person who wrote in English to receive the honor, and also the youngest to receive it. He was 42.

I adore the nickname Kip and think Kipling sounds rather sophisticated as well! Win-win.




Name of the Day: Marla

The name Marla, like Marlene, refers to the biblical character Mary Magdalene. One of Jesus’s followers, many believe she was the first to see him resurrected. I was always under the impression she was a reformed prostitute, but that is up for debate. I personally like that theory about her because it makes her story one of overcoming personal situations. A symbol that you can change no matter what’s in your past.

My husband likes the suggestion of Marla because of Marla Hooch in  A League of Their Own. That movie is a favorite in his family, my father-in-law particularly loves it. So the name makes him think of childhood and family memories.

Fight Club also has a Marla. Fight Club is a book and movie I studied in college, and discussed in depth with my brother. So this association is actually more nostalgic for me.

Marla Olmsted is a painter who’s abstract work gained attention around the world when she was 4 year’s old. Of course, once she received a lot of fame people began questioning whether it was really her work or if her father was helping her. She is now 17.

Marla Maples is one of Donald Trump’s ex-wives and an actress. She may be a lovely and talented person, but I haven’t seen her in anything so I can’t really judge that. The Donald Trump association isn’t a great one for me. So, for our family, this is a strike against the name. But I’m sure for some it’d be one more reason to love the name.




Name of the Day: Lorna

A literary name from R. D. Blackmore’s novel, Lorna Doone, it is believed he derived the name from the place name Lorne in Scotland. The book, like the name, is filled with beauty and abundant with splendid descriptions of nature. Truly, I loved the book. A love story packed with adventure and a surprise ending, it’s one of my favorite classic books. And Lorna’s character is very charming, though my favorite character is actually Ruth (another name I adore!).

More modern associations include Orange is the New Black character Lorna Muccio and Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, a member of X-Men. These associations make me surprised only 27 girls were named Lorna in the U.S. in 2016.

In real life, Judy Garland named her daughter Lorna (and she has a Liza, so she had impeccable taste in names.) Lorna Fitzgerald is a modern day actress. Named after the character and novel, Lorna Doone is a well known brand of cookies. Some may see that as an annoying association, but I like it. Cookie can be a funny nickname when she’s young.




Dish to Pass Season

Tis the season!! Thanksgiving is later this month and then various holiday activities will fill up our calendar for the rest of the year.


In our families, my sister is the hostess for most gatherings on my side of the family. Peter’s parents host gatherings for his side. We also gather there for football every Sunday. In attempt to not feel completely useless, we do try to contribute to the food being offered. But, let’s face it, I am lazy… so I try to volunteer easy dishes. Here are some winners we’ve done in the past:

Appetizers:

This super easy pizza dip was a big hit at last year’s small Christmas gathering. And I do love anything that can be made in a crock pot!

I have not made these 3 ingredient meatballs in a long time. But they are literally the easiest dish anyone can bring. They used to be what I brought to every single gathering, in recent years I’ve branched out only to show I’m capable of cooking something besides meatballs. Now that I’ve proven myself, I may go back to this for this year’s festivities because they were so yummy and I miss them!

Sides:

This Nacho Grande Soup was my contribution to last year’s extended family Christmas. It didn’t last long. If I make again I will be making a double batch. Super yummy!

I’ve made this as a side dish for my own family but it’s certainly easy enough to make multiple batches and bring to share with a big crowd. Asparagus Crescent Rolls would be a welcome addition to the Thanksgiving table in my book!

Desserts:

Halloween this year proved particularly challenging as children at our gathering had allergies to peanut butter, chocolate and cheese. So I said I’d bring apple crisp, and when I went to make it realized I had no oats… I found this oat free recipe and turns out, Peter and I prefer our apple crisp without oats!

Had I not had such rigorous restrictions on my Halloween dish to pass this year I probably would have made last year’s Thanksgiving contribution, peanut butter cheesecake truffles. They’re a little messy, but very worth it.

A drink:

Just for good measure, in case you want to bring ingredients to play bartender, here’s my husband’s creation he calls Cuban Missile Crisis.

Do you have a signature dish to pas or like to experiment with new stuff every time?




Name of the Day: Magnus

Meaning “great” in Latin, it is rumored that it became a Scandinavian name under rushed, uninformed circumstances: King Olaf Hardaldsson’s illegitimate son was born while he was away. Born prematurely and not breathing, they made a poet his godfather and did a hasty baptism, as they did not expect the child to live long. He named him after the king’s role model, Karlas Magnus, not realizing that Magnus meant “The Great” and wasn’t part of his name. The boy went on to not only survive, but become very strong, and the King of both Norway and Denmark. Whether his name was a misunderstanding or not, he was a real person, best known as “Magnus the Good.”

Magnus the Good was the first of 7 King Magnus’ to rule Norway. 4 Kings of Swede, 1 in Livonia and 4 Dukes were also named Magnus. Also a Roman usurper, Roman consul a prince, and a bishop. Certainly a powerful and regal history!

Saints include Magnus of Anagni, a hepard who donated all his earnings to the poor. Magnus of Avigon is the patrol saint of those selling fish.

And of course more down to earth notables have the name as well including many musicians, scientists and athletes.

Besides being so handsome as a formal name, it has the most adorable nicknames. Maggie and Gus.




Happy Birthday Lennon Wallace

I’m going to be honest, this post is a week late. And it’s going to be brief. Because I can’t take my eyes off you long enough to write a long, gushy love letter like I’d like to!

If you told me that there was a child in this world with more energy than my Lennon, I would not believe you! If you told me there was a child in the world who is more demanding of his mother’s attention than my Lennon, I would not believe you! But if you told me there was a child who is funnier, with a sweeter heart, desire for adventure or excitement to learn something new, I would also not believe you!

Lennon, you are so much more than I ever dreamed you could be. Your larger than life personality puts a smile on my face every day! I’m so lucky that of all the Momma’s Boys in the world, you are mine! I can’t believe how much you’ve grown in these past 2 years. Part of me still can’t believe you’re here! Thank you for all the laughs and smooches!




Name of the Day: Roscoe

Derived from a place name, Roscoe is used as both a first and last name and means “doe wood”. I believe there are 15 Roscoe towns and villages in the US.  It was only given to 63 boys last year, which I find incredible! It’s so handsome, why are people not using it?

With the name Otis I just linked to a bunch of youtube videos of artists with the name… it seemed to resonate with my husband, so let’s try that approach again!

Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbucke, a silent film star who mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Bob Hope. Other actors include: Roscoe Karns who comically starred in 150 films, Roscoe Orman (Gordon on Sesame Street), Roscoe Born, Roscoe Lee Browne and Alan Roscoe.

Outside the arts, there have been many influential politicians and accomplished athletes bearing Roscoe as a first or last name.  Several professor and scientist Roscoes have contributed research advancing the scientific world. It’s also the name of several war heroes and the first ever direcor of the CIA. Roscoe Pound is one of history’s most influential legal scholars. Roscoe Nicholson is one of the earliest advocates for conservation of forest life in the US.  Will Roscoe is an author and activist who’s works largely involve rights of the LGBT community.




Name of the Day: Florence

I adore the name Flora!! For years I’ve been pushing it on Peter, constantly insisting it’s perfect because it’s my great grandmother’s name (Florence) and his great grandmother’s name (Cora) combined. I’ve had no luck. But this week I found out, he does like Florence! And that’s even better in my book. Because Flora is still a nickname option, as is Flo. But it ads other great options Ren and Flossy! And Florence is beautiful, sophisticated, historical and exotic. And (like Flora) I love it’s nature inspired definition, flowering/blooming. (As a side note, I also like Florentia, the original version of the name.)

If you didn’t know my great grandmother, you likely associate the name with Florence Nightingale. She’s well enough know that I don’t think I need to write about her accomplishments. The founder of modern nursing, she was selfless, strong and would make the perfect namesake for any child!

In the arts: Florence Ballard was a founding member of Motown and the Supremes! Florence Lawrence is often referred to as the “First Movie Star”. She appeared in over 300 films.  Florence La Badie and Florence Turner were silent film actresses. Florence Mills “The Queen of Happiness” was a cabaret singer, dancer and comedian! Florence Price is the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer. Florence Welch is the front-woman in Indie rock band Florence and the Machine. And of course Florence Henderson was the Mom on the Brady Bunch.

In other areas: Florence Kelley is a political reformer who worked for childen’s and worker’s right. Florence Newton is the most known “witch” of the Irish witch trials. Other Florences include A first lady, a Vietnam war protester who set herself on fire, several writes, athletes and some politicians.




Name of the Day: Miriam

The meaning of Miriam is quite disputed. In our culture most consider it a Hebrew name that is the first variation of Mary. Mary and Miriam have several theories regarding their origins. The most published definition is “bitter” but I believe it’s actually “beloved”. If Miriam were originally a Hebrew name bitterness would apply as “mr” in Hebrew is bitter. “yam” is sea. So in Hebrew the name means sea of bitterness. However, there is evidence (inscriptions in the pyramids) that the Egyptians had used the names before the Hebrews. It was adopted by the Hebrews to fit into the Egyptian culture. (Similar to if if someone immigrated to America today and named their child Sofia to fit in with our culture.) Many Egyptian names back then included “mr” as it means loved. Another possible Egyptian translation is “Mirror of God”.

Though I don’t consider Miriam to be Hebrew in origin, it’s history in the Bible and Torah is significant. As Moses’ sister she led the women out of Egypt and taught them the Torah, just Moses did for the men. From the time she was a very young girl she also assisted in delivering babies and sparing the lives of the boys that the Pharaoh decreed were supposed to be killed. When her father and other men began divorcing their wives for fear of having male sons, Miriam convinced them to remarry. She also told her parents that they’d give birth to Moses, who would save them all and she’s the one who saved him by putting him in a basket and then helped the Pharaoh’s daughter care for him when he was found. Though I was brought up Catholic, I am no longer part of organized religion. However, I do still find certain stories and characters in holy texts inspirational. Miriam is definitely one of my favorites! In recent decades Miriam has been seen as a symbol of feminism within Jewish communities.

Miriam Makeba was a singer, activist and, well… pretty much everything. Known by some as Mama Africa her life is extremely fascinating and inspiring. She wasn’t expected to survive birth, spent the first 6 months of her life living in a jail, her father died when she was young and she was married at 17 to a man who beat her. None of this stopped her from achieving international fame, but fame got her exiled from her home in South Africa, where her family still resided. It was at this point she began speaking out about the white minority government in Africa. There’s no way I can do justice to her in this blog post. She was talented, brave, confident and she also provided the world with amazing music. She stayed true to herself and her culture instead of trying to fit into the mold of the successful artists of the time. By exposing the world to her African style, she opened their minds to discuss moral and political issues as well. She spoke to the United Nations twice and was involved in many political movements and performances. She says she didn’t sing about politics, she sang about the truth and of her own life.

Miriam Leslie was an author, publisher, aristocrat and woman’s suffrage supporter. She was born to a noble family but was never given much in terms of “love and merriment” as she said herself. In the late 1860s the editor of Frank Leslie’s Lady’s Magazine became ill. She volunteered to take over the job while forfeiting the salary to the sick editor. When he died, she took over permanently and this of how she came to marry Frank Leslie. When Frank died she took over the magazine, immediately making it more successful. When she died she left her money to Carrie Chapman Catt for the woman’s suffrage movement.

Speaking of publishing, Miriam Goldberg also took over her husbands publication, Intermountain Jewish News. Under her leadership the paper began to take controversial stands. Miriam believed in presenting all sides of the issues that they covered, something I feel very strongly should always be done.

Miriam Rivera is a transgender TV personality that has starred in several reality shows and has been a pioneer for the transgender community. Her courage to be herself has helped normalize lives of transgender people to those who have no similar experiences within their own lives. She has never had gender the reassignment surgery because she loves and accepts her body as is. (I’m not at all against gender reassignment surgery, I think each individual should have the body they ate most comfortable in. But I do think her acceptance of herself is inspiring.)

Miriam Yalan-Shteklis was a talented children’s poet who’s works taught lessons without preaching, didn’t always dissolve adults of all blame (as most literature for children do) and showed children expressing a wide range of emotions, not just a happy ending. Similarly, Miriam Roth wrote books now considered children’s book classics and was a pioneer for preschool education in Israel. Several other Miriams have also had success writing for adults. Miriam Ben-Porat was the first female Supreme Court Judge in Isreal and the first female State Comptroller, a role in which she was extremely successful and had a very positive influence. Several other singers, Olympic athletes and actresses bear the name. So, I’d definitely there are very strong feminine role models associated with this name, a big perk for me when choosing names!

Miriam is also the name of the title character in a short story by Truman Capote. Is the story any good? I don’t know. What’s it about? I don’t know. I didn’t read anything about it because Truman Capote is one of my favorite writers so I’d like to read the story very soon.

Adorable nicknames include: Mira, Miri, Mim, Mia, Ria, Mimi… and Meerkat!