Dad Brog (#098): Goodbye office, hello au pair

The blets are all down and in storage, my personal effects are all gone, and the only things left are my giant Jinx wall mural, and the hanging bar full of running medals, because they’re out of the way enough to where I don’t feel bad leaving them up.  But for all intents and purposes my office is no longer my office, and is back to being a bedroom, ready for a new resident to my household who will be arriving in short order. 

Mythical wife and I are long past the point of exasperation when it comes to childcare, and we’ve decided to embark down the route of getting an au pair, which is a fancy way of saying we’re bringing in a person from another country to come live in my home, and be a live-in nanny to my children. 

The hopes are that with a nanny as a resident, it will bring a semblance of stability to my house; reliable, consistent care, and with them living with us, the hope is it will greatly reduce the possibility of fake sick days, COVID exposures, and the litany of other bullshit that seemed to plague my home through the parade of temps and babysitters we’ve relied on throughout the rest of this year.

I genuinely can’t express in words the sheer exasperation I’ve had with all the babysitters I’ve had to endure over the last year.  All the bullshit sick days called in where I’m the one who has to eat the sick day from my own job.  All the regular tardiness from them where they were always 3-10 minutes late every single fucking day, where those small amounts of time are the difference between being prepared for an early meeting, or needing to log into a meeting with a crying baby in tow, praying that I’m not called upon to unmute my mic.  All the clock-watching when it came to the end of the days, to where they’d leave on the dot, and I’m on double duty while on the clock at work until mythical wife gets home.

I’m sick of feeling like a liability at work, and questioning my job security, and really hoping that nobody’s taking notes or building a dossier on my occasional work flakiness on account of putting my kids first.  I’m sick of feeling like I’m wasting money when I have to pay shitty babysitters who grew complacent and fell into routines and lazy habits.  I’m just sick of unreliable help.

Of course, mythical wife and I are more than prepared to welcome our au pair with open arms and hope to embrace them as a legitimate member of our household, and we’re really hoping that by giving a shit about them will make them want to give a shit about us, more importantly the kids, and that we’ll have a mutually beneficial year of reliable childcare while they get to explore a slice of life in America, as polarizing of a place we are these days.

But this also means that I’ve had to forfeit my office, as all the other bedrooms in the house are occupied by the kids, and that was honestly one of the things that gave me pause about heading in this direction in the first place.  I loved my office, I loved my wall of blets, and I loved having a personal space for all of my shit that I geek out and obsess over, even if nobody else gives two shits about wrestling, running or any of the rando pieces of art and figures I had on my walls.

However, I love my kids more, and frankly it goes without saying that a large part of parenting is sacrificing things for the sake of our kids.  So add my office to the list with hobbies, disposable income, freedom to bullshit and just time in general, and I’m hoping the au pair experience will go so well that I’ll have zero chance to have any regrets about it.

It’s funny, because while I was on the fence about going the route of an au pair, when my last full-time nanny’s personal drama bomb went off, and she used it as reason why she couldn’t come in to work, I remember my wife showing me her phone with the wall of text, and two seconds after reading it, I was just like, fuck this, let’s get an au pair.  I don’t need my office so much as I just need some fucking reliable childcare, and it just doesn’t seem like we’re going to find any viable options in our area, much less this country full of lazy and entitled people who have some babysitting experience, looking to cash in on a hard caregiver’s market.

But all the same; vaya con dios to my office, as it’s going to be a long time before you will be mine once again, and I will have my blet wall back, and a place to put my nerdy framed artwork and League figures up on the shelves, and have a place in the house that is solely my own.  But the kids come first, always, and one day I will have my office back definitively.

Completing the blet wall: time to get a new house

What we have here, are the newest additions to my collection: blet #24 – the 2014 PG-era WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and #25 – the John Cena Spinner US Championship.

As has been the case with the last nine blets I’ve purchased, these have been primarily financed by money earned through doing online surveys.  Which is great in the sense that I haven’t used any of my earned income in order to purchase such frivolities, but when I write out that I’ve basically bought 11 blets, I’m trying not to add up the dollar amount and not wince at what maybe a little more productive or substantiative things I might’ve been able to have done with such a slice of coin but whatever no regrets

The thing is with #24, I never really thought about getting another WWE World Championship blet, since I had the Attitude-era winged eagle blet, but whether it’s just random blet itch scratching, or when I was happy when Big E won the championship, the idea of getting one didn’t seem that unappealing.  That’s sometimes all it really takes for me to want to get a blet; acceptance of a current holder, a good deal, or just plain wanting a new blet for the sake of getting a new one.

Also, I was sitting on a small cache of Amazon gift card and gift card codes, and instead of putting myself through the rigors of I don’t know what to spend this onnnnn, once I learned that WWE actually sells some things through Amazon, including blets, and makes them subject to Prime benefits, I knew what I would be saving up towards, instead of bullshit consumables like soaps and socks.  So once I hit the price threshold for a 2014 WWE World, I pulled the trigger and here we are.

The bigger story though, would be the John Cena US Spinner that I had long been waiting out.  For years, friends would “troll” me and tell me that my collection would never be complete if I didn’t have this blet, and truth be it, when it was actually on TV way back when, I wasn’t a fan of it.  I didn’t think it was cool for John Cena to be above everyone else and have his own edition of the historic United States championship, and I was up on a purist high-horse scoffing down on a spinner blet in the first place.

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2 Under 2: No time like the present (#068)

About a month ago, I wanted to write a post about how I was embarking on my paternity time for the second time, on account of the arrival of #2.  How I was looking forward to not having to worry about work for 12 weeks, and all sorts of ideas of ways I could be productive and get shit done with no work looming over me.

Well it’s been about a month since I’ve started my paternity leave, and unsurprisingly I have not accomplished nearly as much as I hoped I would prior to the start of it.

Who would have guessed that juggling two kids would consume so much of my capacity, even without having to worry about work?  Pff certainly not me.  In all fairness, our Disney trip consumed nearly two weeks of my leave, since it encapsulated a Tuesday through a Wednesday, and trying to accomplish anything before or catch up afterward just weren’t going to happen.

But going into my paternity leave, I made goals of accomplishing several tasks:

  • Refinance my home: rates are crazy low and with a second child in tow, refinancing my mortgage to try and bring down my monthly payment and free up some cash sounded like a tremendously good idea
  • Look for a new job: the cat is out of the bag by now, and most everyone knows I’m quite unhappy with my job, and would like to seek out a new one now
  • Explore the possibility of upgrading to a larger car: my car of two years and less than 15,000 miles is already too small for the size of my rapidly grown family, and I would like to capitalize on the potential of the also-hot used car market, and try to trade in my car for maximum value, so that I may upgrade to a larger vehicle
  • Yard work: there are some shrubs I want to get rid of, and some general cleanup I’d like to do around my driveway and walking paths, as well as reclaim some of the wild land in the field adjacent to my home, while the poison ivy is wilting and the snakes are going into hiding

So nothing too lofty, provided there’s a reasonable amount of time to do them, but therein lies the biggest problem – there’s just simply never any fucking time.

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2 Under 2: making baby gates (#041)

As most parents eventually need to do, mythical wife and I have gradually began baby-proofing the home as our first is completely mobile, fast as an Olympian, and is capable of being out of sight and with a dust bunny in her hand headed toward her mouth in the blink of an eye.  And the impending second child will only make the need to cordon off areas of the house that much more imperative, so we made the decision to section off parts of the home, so that we can (hopefully) be able to have to only monitor half of the home at a time instead of all of it.

The problem is, baby gates are ridiculously expensive, and considering we needed multiple gates, it seemed like something that we weren’t particularly interested in spending the money we’re already stretching thin on.  Furthermore, baby gates all have a particular cheap and plasticky look to them, and just because we’re frazzled parents doesn’t mean we have to turn our home into a giant billboard for like Fisher Price.

Mythical wife found this online tutorial from a lady who made her own baby gates from wood and gate parts, and looking through it, I’m thinking “hey I could do this,” so we made the executive decision to make our own gates.

I’m not going to get too granular with all the details, because there’s basically nothing outside of the steps the mommy in the link that I didn’t do, so if you really are curious you could support her and give her traffic, but I’m just going to kind of write out the things I did in the process, and hope that this turns into something of a substantial post that isn’t too boring.

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I would like a small Batmobile to curate my lawn pls

You know what I’ve found out to be an extraordinarily harder task than I imagine it would be?

Finding a landscaper.

With baby #2 on the way, and my general limits already pressed past capacity on a regular basis, mythical wife and I decided that perhaps we’re long overdue to just hire landscapers to take care of cutting the grass and making it HOA/NIMBY Karen-proof at the very least.  I had done it for the vast majority of the time we’ve lived here, and it’s never been easy because I have a lot of grass I’m expected to cut, so we’ve decided to bite the bullet and just pay people to take care of the problems that we don’t want to deal with.

I would say that 75% of the homes in my neighborhood have landscapers, but getting any of them to come and service my property has proven to be as frustrating as one of those speedbike levels in Battletoads.  For the landscapers that have actual names, branding or contact information on their company’s vehicles, literally none of them ever return my phone calls or reply to my emails.  For landscapers that people have referred me to, it’s easy to speak to any one of them once, but again, getting any sort of follow-up is pulling teeth.  And then, there are all sorts of landscapers with no identifiable affiliation that are teams of efficient Hispanic men who show up, get the job done, and then gtfo before I can get shoes on and try and stop them to ask for service; those are the types of guys I’d want, but it’s like they’re a shiny Pokémon and hard to catch.

I think I’ve finally gotten someone now, but it’s only been one cut so far, and this guy services one of my neighbors, so the jury’s still out on his affordability, but I have to say that I never would’ve thought it would be such a colossal pain in the ass to get a landscaper, and I hope I don’t have to deal with this again any time soon.

Anyway, because theFacebook is scary and clearly listening in on conversations and/or my general rants about the frustrations of landscaping, I started getting targeted ads for this robotic mower made by Husqvarna, that looks like a miniature Batmobile.  Now there’s a rich guy’s house outside my subdivision, where I’ve driven past, and seen a little robotic mower doing its job at the edge of his property; it looked like a little lawn version of a Roomba.

It also felt a little Black Mirror-ish to me that the idea of robotic mowers exist now in the first place, because it’s one part the pinnacle of human laziness, that robots that cut grass have emerged in the real world, but also to go back to that Black Mirror thought, one step closer to having machines dominate us like Maximum Overdrive

Regardless, something that looks like a Roomba doesn’t seem as insidious or intimidating if they were to go rogue and try to kill humanity, I feel like I could probably stomp on it like a goomba from Super Mario Bros. if one tried to revolt against its makers and snuff out the rebellion.

But one that looks like Husqvarna’s Batmobile?  This little motherfucker looks like it might have some machine guns that will emerge from some hidden compartments and end my life if it chose to.  It basically looks like it was already sprayed with that shit from Transformers that turned a Nokia into a killer robot, except that the Batmobile is just laying dormant in standby mode and not yet ready to kill everything in sight.  It looks like it’s ready to team up with the robot dogs from that one episode of Black Mirror to go on hunting sprees for remaining human life.

All the same, if it didn’t cost $4,000, I think I’d want one.  The idea that this little murder mower would run constantly in order to keep the lawn short always versus landscapers coming weekly/bi-weekly is appealing in that I’d have to interact with nobody ever, and on a long enough timeline, it would probably pay itself off fairly efficiently.  But a $4,000 tab is a tough pill to swallow, when there are several other things that I’d probably want to do with my property to where that would be better spent in a lump sum.

But it would be great at deterring assholes who let their dogs shit on my property, if something that looked like the Batmobile were patrolling my yard, to menacingly threaten people and their pets away.

‘Burned out’ doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel

On any given day, here are the things that I like to accomplish in my free time:

  • Write
  • Run
  • Watch wrestling
  • Watch tv in general
  • Play Fire Emblem Heroes and/or Pokémon Go
  • Do surveys

Coincidentally, that just so happens to be the list of things that I so rarely get to do anymore, on account of the fact that I’m just so endlessly busy, with a plate so perpetually full, that I’ve been feeling on the cusp of anxiety attacks at just how much stuff I feel that I have to do on a regular basis, with practically no help at all.

The fact that I’m writing now is a miracle in itself, and I mentally would really like to accomplish a whole fuckton of writing that’s been backlogging in my brain as well as on the living document I keep a list of topics and things I’d like to write about but the reality is that as much as I love to write, there’s only a certain amount of it I can do daily before the topics begin to run into each other and I put out a bunch of bullshit that I’m not happy with.

Over the last few weeks, my daily schedule hasn’t really changed so much as it’s just had things added to it, as some of them have finite timelines in which they should be accomplished.  However, it’s these extra things that have nickeled and dimed their way into overfilling my plate on a regular basis, and the’ve all been constantly bleeding into all facets of my time not spent working and/or raising a child, that I’ve hit the point where “burned out” doesn’t come close to describing how I feel so much as I just simply feel like I’m drowning.

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I want a machete

Actually, I should rephrase that headline: I am getting a machete.

I’m not particularly fond of doing any sort of yard work or landscaping.  The idea of having a nice-looking property is, nice, but I don’t particularly want to put forth the effort in doing it myself, and I don’t particularly want to pay what I feel is outlandish rates and be locked into contracts with a landscaping company to have someone else do it for me.  So it usually ends up with me doing the bare minimum to have a remotely passable yard, as in the grass remains cut, and the edges are barely maintained, but there’s not much in terms of fresh mulch, neat little accents or any of the small things that make yards look pretty.

But when things become what I think are necessity, then I guess I’ll go ahead and put a little more effort into things.  I have some shrubs that really need to be tamed, because I’ve literally watched squirrels use them as a springboard onto my physical home and for those that know me, I fucking hate squirrels, and the idea of them infiltrating my home now makes me feel homicidal, so I need to nip this in the butt before it becomes problematic.

Furthermore, my property is adjacent to county-owned land, so in some regards it’s nice to not have a neighbor on one side of my house, but in the other hand, the county doesn’t particularly do a good job of maintaining public land, so there’s a good bit of brush and wild growth that has encroached onto my property that needs to be tamed as well.

Needless to say, it’s more work than a trimmer and blower would be capable of doing, but I don’t want to spend the money to get some power tools for what is basically amounting to a single job.  Frankly, in my mind, a good afternoon with a machete is what I really need, so I went online and ordered, a machete.

It’ll be interesting when it gets here, because I’ve never actually used a machete for its intended purpose, and only known of them for fantastical scenarios of killing zombies.  In my mind, it’ll be a gratifying, satisfying and a stress-reliever of an activity, hacking away at wild plants and shrubs, while at the same time bringing order to my property and gaining land back from the county.

But I know there’s an equally strong chance that I am underestimating the whole task, and that ten minutes in, I’ll find that a machete isn’t that efficient, or that there are some plants that are far too thick for a machete to be of much use, and I’ll be exasperated and disappointed with the results, throw in the towel, and end up springing for some power tool(s), and just be behind on my anticipated timeline of getting this task done.

I won’t know until I try though. The machete is en route, and pretty soon we’ll see if it’s everything I hoped it would be, or if I’m going to regret making this decision, and be angsty about the time and money wasted.