Friday, August 11, 2017

Parenting while owning a home business

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Sam and I have worked from home throughout our marriage: first telecommuting, and then owning our own online business of DVD sales. I wrote out our story in Working from home, Part 1 and Working from home, Part 2, if you want the background.

As we approached starting a family, we realized we wanted to continue to prioritize working together, but we knew it would take some sacrifices and shuffling to make working from home jibe with parenting small children.

Here are the pros and cons so far as we coparent and homeschool a ten-year-old, six-year-old, and two-year-old while running a family business for our income. This is from our experience and might not reflect your own if you already run a business or choose to begin one, but I hope it gives you some perspective on what it can be like.

Our Marriage

We started working from home by accident, but once we got going, we loved it. We had nine years together as a married couple before Mikko came along (well, he beat our anniversary by one day), and that was nine years of seeing each other nearly all day, every day. When we tell some people that, they groan or shudder, but we still really like the person we married! Now that we have kids and live in a(n increasingly) small(er) space, we've made the choice to separate more during the day so one or the other of us can have dedicated work time. We also rented a small and inexpensive work loft for storage and office space. So Sam and I don't see each other quite as much as before — but I'm guessing a whole lot more than most couples where one or both partners work outside the home. I totally understand why other couples would choose the work they do and know that not being together as much is a necessary evil in those cases, but I really do enjoy seeing Sam as much as possible and think it's helped keep our partnership strong.

Coparenting

When we were thinking of having kids, Sam and I knew we each wanted two things: to continue pursuing income and our passions, and to raise our kids. Having a family business has allowed us to divide those goals so we each get a share of both of them. We purposely chose this business in particular (after trying and discarding several others over the years) because it gave us the most income for the least amount of stress, leaving us time to share the parenting.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Happy tenth

Celebrating 10 years with Mikko, my firstborn.



He's the same age as my blog,
since my journey as a parent started with him
and inspired me to write about the
new road we were on together.

Looking back is always bittersweet,
seeing all the adorable stages gone in a blink,
but I love all the years we've had with him so far,
and enjoy and appreciate
the unique, determined, compassionate person he is.

We look forward to many more.

Happy birthday to Mikko.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Splashing in the wading pool



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

We went to the wading pool
for summer splashy fun.

Here's a video of our adventures:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Why do we gender children? — How to approach kids neutrally

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

I have three boys with long hair, and one in particular who favors bright colors and sparkles, so I have something to say about our habit to gender people.

When we go out, it seems like everyone we interact with has to say something to make it clear they have interpreted these children as girls — whether it's a cashier offering a sticker as "one for you and one for your sister" or a waiter calling them "sweetie" (which I wouldn't have even caught but that sets off Mikko's spider senses) or a stranger outright saying, "What pretty young girls you are!"

Note a few things upfront:

(a) These are not mean or rude people. They're interacting with my children and doing so in a pleasant, friendly manner. I appreciate that a lot.

(b) There is nothing wrong with being a girl. Or a boy. Or a person born as a boy who identifies partially or wholly as a girl, and vice versa. There is nothing wrong with being gender fluid.

(c) This is probably the biggest one: I'm not here calling out individuals for being problematic. Heaven knows such individuals exist, but most of our interactions are with well-meaning folks. And I know that I am one of them! I'm sure I do this type of thing as well when I awkwardly try to interact with a stranger's kid. I'm more thinking of our culture as a whole and questioning why we feel the need so strongly to gender-identify people in general and children in particular.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Happy America Day!



When Mikko was young, that's what he called
the Fourth of July
, and it always made me smile.



Even now, the kids like shouting out,
"Happy birthday, America!"

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Turn a baby wrap into a kid hammock

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Did you know you can repurpose a woven wrap
into an indoor hammock?

If you're an avid wrapper, probably so.

If not, let me BLOW YOUR MIND.




I learned this trick when trying to break in
and soften up a new-to-me wrap that
was still a bit too stiff.


Choose a sturdy table,
and tie a sturdy knot.

Longer wraps can run the length of the table,
shorter ones the width.

Pro tip: You'll want to tie the hammock
tighter and higher than you think it needs to be,
because it will stretch down
once someone lies in it.


Then pop in a kid or two,
and let 'em chill.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Family at the beach

Every year, my sister-in-law comes over to
help us document our growing family.


Karsten at 2 1/2, Alrik at 6, Mikko at 10.


The boys just keep getting taller!


Digging.


Playing it cool.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Photobucket phail, or How to ruin a hosting site, on LaurenWayne.com

UPDATE July 3: Photobucket keeps sending me autoresponses and demands for payment, so that's no help. BUT, I did find a viable workaround for myself, so I've updated what I'm doing at LaurenWayne.com.



I try not to blog too much about blogging on here for fear of having it get too meta. However, there's a situation going down with my archive images that warrants a head's up. I explain it all over on LaurenWayne.com — here's an excerpt:

The pirate's sign that you must
pay the ransom or forfeit your photos
A few days ago, without any advance warning, Photobucket sneakily changed its terms of service to disallow third-party hosting, or hotlinking, on nearly all of its plan tiers. Most people use Photobucket explicitly for the ability to link from images on Photobucket to other locations such as blogs and forums, so this seems like a baffling move.

Until you realize the scam that's afoot: The only way to get your images to show up again is to pay Photobucket $400, upfront, as an annual subscription to its most expensive plan.

Ah, I see. It's a ransom demand.

I'm livid. I'd been using Photobucket to host my images on my Blogger blogs for ten years. For several of those years, I paid Photobucket an annual subscription for the benefits of unlimited bandwidth and extra storage.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The perspective of a cosleeping kid



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

We visited my parents this month and stayed in my old bedroom, complete with its sheep wallpaper that my mom and I had hung and the dollhouse I had received as a Christmas present.

Karsten and Sam enjoyed an air mattress in my younger brother's old room. Mikko, Alrik, and I squished together on my old queen bed, handed down from my older brother before me, after both refused to endure an entire night on the floor mattress that had been set up. Too many spiders in my parents' house, so I don't blame them.

Alrik was fascinated with the historical sleeping arrangements.

"This was your room when you were a kid?" he asked. "Who did you sleep with?"

No one, just myself, I responded.

He was agog. "You slept by yourself when you were a kid?"

Yep.

He digested this for a bit. "Wow, you were brave."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

To Sam, on Father's Day

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!



It seems obvious to me that
all fathers should be as wonderful
as my kids' father.




Thank you for parenting and loving our kids, Sam.



We are so very blessed.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The easy way to organize laundry in a small space



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

When we moved into our 996-square-foot home, I was elated to finally, finally have my own washer and dryer — but I faced a dilemma: Where do the laundry baskets go?

Our appliances are stacked into a closet that's just barely big enough for them and for socks to fall down the crack between them and the wall. The hallway the closet's in is narrow enough that with the bifold door open, there's barely room to scootch by. There's room on top of the closed washer to fold some clothes but not to fit a basket. Our two bedrooms are petite for a family of five, containing just the requisite furniture without a lot of spare floor space and with minimal closets. Our bathroom is laughably teensy, with room for just a toilet and tub and no extra floor space whatsoever. Yes, even the sink is elsewhere.

Long story short, we got rid of our laundry baskets and our hamper once we realized they fit nowhere and were just being tripped over.

But what to do instead?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Now we are six: In the Age of Childhood



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.


— A.A. Milne

My little Alrik turned 6. I wrote when Mikko turned this age that 6 always feels firmly in Childhood Age to me, part of an iconic and golden period.

And here we are, with number two moving into it.

Alrik is such a sprite of a child. He was the baby who was born peacefully and precipitously at home, in our first unassisted homebirth, and he was smaller enough than Mikko that my first thought on his emerging was, Oh, no, where's the rest of him? I guess I worried maybe his legs had broken off inside.


But, no, he was just somewhat petite, and he grew more elfin by the day, our skinny, wiry little boy with round Disney eyes and energy for days. Always dancing, always running, always talking.


"Can I say something?" is his catchphrase. And then he does.

He introduces me to his imaginary friends and asks me to join him in Minecraft World, which is a realm he made up that adapts to any sort of creative play. Sometimes he's fighting zombies. Sometimes he's a samurai. Sometimes he's a human who turns into a cat when he brushes against you. He tells me what to do to participate adequately.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother guilt: The uneasiness of time away from the kids


Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

The day I am writing this, I am at Seattle Center, the campus where the iconic Space Needle stands, enjoying the filtered shade on a bench on a 75-degree May afternoon. Pink blossoms from the spring-sprung trees are dropping softly down on my arms and shoulders. I've spent two hours working on my latest novel, and an hour wandering the well-groomed grounds, admiring the works of art strewn generously throughout and smiling at the sight of so many other people enjoying the beautiful, illusory weather while it lasts.

I am alone, kidless for this brief period of hours. I am free and thrilled and rested and content.

And also miserably guilt-ridden.

Do fathers feel this way, or is it a culturally or biologically instilled mandate that mothers experience guilt at enjoying time away from their children?

Last night I was breaking down in tears from stress. Alrik had a wonderful opportunity (with scholarship!) to attend a homeschool drama class downtown for the spring. It's an incredible program, and we couldn't pass it up for our creatively minded kid when the doors opened for us.

But I worried how we would all cope with getting three kids and me up very early and out the door, onto two to three buses for the ride downtown, and then whiling away the time Alrik was in his class before picking him up and doing the bus dance on back.

I've had nightmares about those bus rides. It's currently cheaper enough for us to ride the bus (only Mikko and I pay at the moment) to beat parking. Plus, we can stay longer and go on other adventures after if we desire, and we often do. And it makes sense to bring Karsten and Mikko with me so Sam can work and we can play. We have memberships at the children's museum and science center, and there's a fun playground, and soon the fountain will be spraying, and the three of us have a grand time while Alrik's having his own fun in class.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Caps for Sale for the second kiddo


Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Blast from the past! Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina, has been a favorite of both our older kids so far. I suspect our third will have a go at it soon enough as well!

Here's Alrik reading along with Sam at age 4:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Do you and your kids share the same homeschool philosophy?



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

I recently took a quiz on "What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?" posted by my friend Jennifer on Facebook as found on the blog Eclectic Homeschooling. My results were mostly what I expected — high emphasis on natural, child-led learning and a low emphasis on "school at home."

But what I was even more interested in was finding out if my kids agreed with my philosophy on learning. After all, how could I believe in child-led learning if my children didn't think that was a worthy goal? That's kind of a head-scratcher, isn't it? But I do think I'd adapt our unschooling approach to be more schooly if that's what our kids needed from us.

So, I had 9-year-old Mikko take the quiz, going through each question with him to be sure I understood his point of view. Our results were as follows. Mine is the first number, and Mikko's is the second. I've rearranged them into descending order to make it easier to scan.

  • Score for Unschooling: 25 >> 13
  • Score for Thomas Jefferson Education: 23 >> 13
  • Score for Charlotte Mason Education: 21 >> 13
  • Score for Montessori Education: 20 >> 7
  • Score for Unit Studies Education: 17 >> -15
  • Score for Waldorf Education: 10 >> 5
  • Score for Classical Education: -5 >> -20
  • Score for Traditional Education: -23 >> -15

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Brothers in Lederhosen

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!


Because why not?



My mom passed along various pairs of Lederhosen (German Bavarian traditional dress) from when our family lived in Berlin and my mom liked to play dress-up with my little brother. I dig the tradition, so I broke them out and went on a photo shoot in our version of the Grünewald with Alrik (5.5) and Karsten (2).



Alrik in the same outfit at age 2 at a German cultural party.



Tucking away that flag.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Little Sunshine, the imaginary friendly isopod



Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

I love my children's imaginary friends. I recently reread my post on Silly Guy to Mikko, now 9.5 years old, and we were both tickled at the details we'd forgotten as Silly Guy faded from our lives. To that end, I record: Little Sunshine.

Little Sunshine originally was, I believe, an isopod, or roly poly, that Alrik spotted one day as we walked along the beach a couple years back. Alrik already had established a habit of naming tiny critters we passed, often ants, and telling me their given monikers were things like Rainbow and Cutie. He's never seen the movie with a related title, so I'm assuming Little Sunshine is just something else his brain came up with.

We watched the real-life Little Sunshine crawl along the sidewalk and then disappear down a sewer grate. Isopods, I've learned, are crustaceans and need damp environments to breathe through their gills. In case you were interested. Your call.

But Little Sunshine's disappearance was not his departure from our lives. Oh, no. Alrik, then about age 3, kept talking to him as we continued our walk, and I was obliged to keep up Little Sunshine's end of the conversation.