Archives for posts with tag: working mommy

On Saturday (Oct 5), after three 80 to 90 hour weeks of work, I spent 3 hours at Belfast airport, 7 hours flying, 3 hours at Newark airport, 2 1/2 flying, 35-ish minutes driving and opened the door from the garage to see this:

kitchenReturn

This would be the remains of my former kitchen. 

And actually, this photo isn’t quite right because that wall of 2×4 studs (on the right side of the photo) was actually gone.  In its place was a long rectangle of semi-dry cement with some wires sticking up in the middle of the room.  All the contents of my former cabinets, along with the toppled furniture from the living room, was strewn through the dining room, entry hall and master bedroom, covered with a fine layer of white dust, probably from the jackhammering.

Yes, jackhammering.

As in demolition.

It seems the home remodel project that was supposed to occur a month after I returned from Belfast actually started a week after I left.

Oh, and that’s not all, my friends… oh no, sir!

Let the following list be a warning to all you Working Mommies about what can happen when you Leave Daddy In Charge:

1.  Steve dismantled my office.  My desk is now in my daughter’s room, the spare desk in my son’s room and my office holds a pool table.

Check and mate.

Seven and a half years after giving up his Man Cave to become the Children’s Playroom, Steve re-established his territory.   There’s no answer to a pool table on the second floor, along with displacement of several other large furniture items.

Steve wins.  Temporarily.

2.  As I noted, the home remodel project commenced.   The words “jackhammer,” “demolition,” “plumbing rerouting,” “electrical non-compliance” are not words you want to hear when 4000 miles from home.  Or, at least, they aren’t if you’re planning to go back.

3.  Our cat died.  This wasn’t entirely unexpected, since she was 17-ish years old.  Steve reluctantly told me during the marathon of the second weekend, which depressed an already exhausted and relatively pathetic me.  [big sigh]

4.  Choice slips.  Yes, these are what used to be known as “notes from the teacher,” meaning you were in big trouble at school.  Alex scored three of them the second week I was gone.  Outstanding.

5.  Steve bought a “keg-erator.” 

What the…?

Yeah, a kegerator. 

Apparently, after collecting his first batch of beer made with a friend, Steve decided he’s going to become some sort of world-famous micro-brewmaster.  So he bought a refrigerator contraption that houses 2 kegs and taps on top.

It’s enormous.

An eyesore.

And sitting in the dining room.

6.  The upstairs TV blew out.  Was also on its last legs, so probably not entirely unexpected.  I’m just glad he didn’t buy a new TV, although he did sit a small TV on top of the large TV, in yet another marvel of masculine home decorative decision-making.

7.  Here’s a positive thing:  unlike my last major trip to the United Arab Emirates, there actually were a few vegetables in the refrigerator when I returned.  Sure, they were the same vegetables that were there when I left, but they do deserve a few points for having veggies at all.

Ah, but I’m home….

Here’s the really good news:   Unlike my last big trip, Steve and both the kids were much calmer when I returned, not nearly as frazzled or disheveled as I might have expected.

Everyone survived, including me.

Whew!

On the way home from the airport, I had to sit in the back seat between both car seats as Alex and Sophie talked at me simultaneously the entire way, while each holding my hand and randomly making a random grab-strangle-hug.  Very sweet.

Sunday:  jetlag, exhaustion, dizzy.  In the morning, I stood in the one path through all our dishes and furniture and started to whimper when I couldn’t figure out how to make toast or coffee in the hall bathroom.  Steve had mercy on me and gave me something to eat.  I pulled myself together enough to have lunch with a dear friend, who had returned to Memphis for a week while I was in Belfast, and we overlapped here for less than a day.  I took her to the airport and went back home to crash and be continuously piled on top of by a 7 and 5 year old.

Total nap time:  20 min.  Awakened by tiny finger poking me in the cheek.

Monday:  Children home from school for a week on Fall Break.  Attempted return to regular job.  7 year old starts to puke his guts out mid-afternoon.  Completely disoriented and jetlagged, I’m appalled at the amount of dust covering every single object and surface in my entire house.   Steve leaves for work at 7am, returning after a client dinner at 10:30 pm.  I’m mercifully sound asleep long before he arrives.

And so, thus began my rather rude return to normalcy after 21 days in Belfast.

Um, yeah. 

Normalcy. 

*snort*

Can I go back to 14-hour workdays, please?   Wasn’t Day 21 the END of the challenge?  #smartercities Challenge

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Smarter Cities Challenge.  The name is apt, but not for the reasons you might guess.  Here’s the REAL scoop behind why this project is a challenge:

1.  Sleep Deprivation – I haven’t gone to bed earlier than midnight since I’ve been here.  I’m probably averaging maybe 5-ish hours of broken sleep per night, which is not good for my generally sleep-needy self.  Two of us are (or have been) sick (one of us won’t admit it was exhaustion tho, and I’m not naming names Steve).  I’m taking vitamins like crazy but had a touch of a sore throat myself yesterday.  Oh my goodness, am I tired!  As I look around the table at my colleagues’ pale faces, I know I’m not the only one, since we’re also…

2.  Working Marathon Hours – We meet for breakfast, walk to City Hall (or, the last 2 days, down to our conference room in the hotel) and work until at least 10:30pm, often with a working lunch or dinner or both.  We’re averaging somewhere around 14 hours per day, methinks.  But, that’s because we’re also getting…

3.  Firehosed with Information – We have literally met probably 100 people from around Belfast in 10 days, all of whom have given us vast amounts of information related to our project.  Since we’re working on health disparity in 2 areas of the city, there’s a lot to keep straight, especially since there are…

4.  Cultural and Language Differences – You wouldn’t think Northern Ireland would be that awful different than the U.S.  It’s not really that different but when you combine a high volume of information, lots of new acronyms, a different health and social system AND dialectal differences, it’s a lot to process simultaneously.  Some of these delightful Irish lilts we’ve heard have been very difficult to understand for our ill-trained American ears, so much so that when some of the faster speakers stop talking, I have to sit there for a few seconds while my poor brain tumbles along after.  I know I have a bit of a dumbfounded look on my face during these painfully long moments (not a good look, under any circumstances).  Luckily, June and Nick (from Scotland and England, respectively) have been very generous about providing subtitles when we need them.  Let’s not forget another key of the Challenge is that we’re…

5.  Away from Home and Family – This one is a little interesting in my case, since my beloved husband has taken it upon himself to dismantle my home office and turn it into a pool room (aka Man Cave) while I’ve been gone.  (My response?  “You need to be really glad I’m 9 hours away by plane, dude.”)  My desk now belongs to my daughter (thus apparently necessitating its placement in her room) and the spare desk is in my son’s room.   And, about 3 days ago, demolition also began on my house (yes, you read DEMOLITION) on a kitchen remodeling project we’ve been planning for, except more like a month from now, not while I’m overseas.  So, I’m getting to see photos of massive destruction to a place that will be unrecognizable when I come back.  Finally, as was the case last year when I left for extended work travel, my 2nd grader is getting himself into a world of trouble at school – also not a favorite.  He’s now managed to earn himself THREE dreaded “choice slips,” which is politically correct code for “your kid is a menace in my classroom.”  No stress there, right?  And finally, the biggest thing….

6.  Coming up with Something Worthwhile in Short Order – We’re now at the completion of 2 weeks of the 3 week Belfast Challenge.   In order to accomplish this amazing feat, we need to wade through the finer points of each other’s work styles and just get. it. done.  After seeing primarily the inside of our conference room for the last 2 days and the inside of the ER at City Hall (Emergency Room, which is normally used for handling city disasters when we’re not there – and, yeah, I see that joke you’ve just put together about us being the disaster the ER is handling for 3 weeks, har dee har har), we’ve made quite a bit of progress on our final presentation but there’s still a lot to go to whip it into overachieving-IBMer-acceptable shape.  I see hours of weekend work in our future…

But I’m motivated, because if I get my work done, I’m going to get to see where they film Game of Thrones on Monday.

Oh yes.  I’m motivated.  Very, very motivated.

Will we be able to overcome sleep deprivation, long hours, massive amounts of information, cultural and language differences and being away from home to come up with something worthwhile in short order?

That, my friends, is the Challenge.  #smartercities Challenge