Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Family of Many Hats

Well, hello there stranger!  Haven't seen you around these parts since the New Year.  What have you all been up to???

January is supposed to be a slower time around the farm, but things have been anything but slow.

In case you missed it in our holiday letter, Travis and I are both working at the local tax office in town during the tax season, which conveniently takes place mostly during the non-farming months.  The main office is located in a town about 45 miles away, while our office is just 8 or so miles from the farm.

After last winter, we decided that we would not be going down to the Twin Cities again.  When there became an opening in our small town's tax office, the owner who has done Travis's family's taxes for years, contacted Travis about working there and he decided to take the opportunity.  So instead of doing architecture this winter, Travis is a tax preparer for four days of the week, and then farmer the other three...or more if you count evenings.

I really never thought about working since moving to the farm.  Since we have no additional hired help, it didn't make sense to have me working full-time at a job that may or may not even cover the daycare costs.

Then the North Dakota winter hit.

Do you know what it is like to have to entertain a preschooler and toddler in a space of less than 1,000 square feet for over 12 hours a day?  It is not so much of a problem when you are able to go outside and see what tractor the guys are working on or how much the grass crops have grown.

Throughout the winter months, some mothers are able entertain their children with a multitude of activities and games while baking homemade bread, and creating endless art projects via Pinterest.  Some moms (not sure who they are) don't ever need to think about going outside to face the arctic tundra with its bone-chilling wind in negative temperatures.  And they are able to do all this without going insane (not sure who they are either).

This winter, I came to discover that I can do those super-stay-at-home-mom things one day, and then need a day to recover from the endless fights, tantrums, and seemingly endless whining.

Once Travis started working in December, and we found out that the tax office would also be needing a tax processor/secretary, I did not think twice about taking the position working two days a week.  It was just a matter of finding part-time daycare for the boys.

Fortunately, the same daycare that our nieces attend was able to fit the boys in three days a week.  They go to daycare on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, where Charlie also has preschool in the mornings.

However, the transition has not been so easy.  Levi is a mama's boy and Charlie doesn't think that he has to really listen to anyone, including me.

If anyone would have to witness me dropping the boys off those first couple of weeks you would have thought that I was bringing them to a prison camp.  I had to literally drag both of them in as they were crying in hysterics and get out before they could escape before me.  The other kids would just look at them and stare.

Some moms might feel like they were not doing the right thing in taking their kids out of the home with that type of reaction (aka "mommy guilt").  For Travis and I, it just confirmed the fact that maybe we should have done this earlier.

After attending daycare for a month, Charlie is doing great and we have already noticed an improvement in his behavior.  One of the best things that has come out of it thus far is that he will go to the bathroom by himself without dragging me along to pull down and up his pants (and having a complete meltdown if I don't respond immediately..."MOMMY DO IT!  NOT DADDY!  JUST MOMMY!").  Not kidding.  Try doing that day in and day out with a smile on your face.

Levi is still a little apprehensive.  As soon as we turn off the highway and on to the side street where the daycare is located I start hearing a soft and sweet, "No.  No, Mommy. No."  And then he cries and has a mental breakdown as soon as the car stops...

Hey, one out of the two isn't nearly as bad!  At least I can somewhat control the toddler without breaking my back.  I am told that five minutes after being dropped off he stops crying and goes about playing with his friends.  Ever so often he asks for me, but they are able to distract him with something else.

Although we are having a busy start to the year, we have been pleasantly surprised with how things seem to continue to fall into place.

We are a family of many hats.  And not just seed corn hats.*


P.S. Answer the following: What is Dana doing on Fridays?

1) Sitting at home watching talk shows, surfing Facebook and drinking wine.
2) Doing the books for the farm.
3) Learning how to operate a tractor.

The answers: no, yes, and sometime in the near future.

*Farm hand (also known as a "hired man") is going to be my next occupation.  LOOKOUT!

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