The day the beach didn’t have wi-fi

IMG_0296Those few of you who are regular readers know that I spend much of my summer working at the beach while my kids try to avoid and/or drown each other.

I’m able to do this because I’m a copywriter so my work is highly portable, and because our wonderful, local beach, which is the best value on the planet, has wi-fi. So not only can I work, I don’t even have to use my own data plan.

But I’ve gotten a bit lazy, I guess, because I failed to bring my hotspot along today and, woe is me, the beach wi-fi was inoperative.

It’s at about this time in a post where I mention beach wi-fi that readers far and wide begin to mock me. Sounds pretty cushy, huh? But in my defense, without wi-fi I don’t have much to do. I’m not the mom with the San Tropez tan. I’m the one in street clothes carrying a laptop and a file folder stuffed with edited drafts, and to-do lists. So no wi-fi means I run out of work about the time my kids have their sunscreen applied.

And there are really only a few other things to do:

  1. People watch. Wow, I really hate to people watch. I don’t find total strangers that interesting until I converse with them, at which point they lose total stranger status. As for just watching them? Yawn.
  2. Nap…………………Sorry, I dozed off for a few minutes until someone shrieked and woke me up.
  3. Eavesdrop on the nanny gossip. This is some juicy stuff, folks. Better screen those caregivers wisely.
  4. Swim. Except it’s June in Minnesota and the water is a cool 72 degrees today, which may sound warm in the middle of January, but not when the air temperature is only 80 and the wind’s blowing at about 30 mph. Would you take a 72 degree bath with a fan trained on you? No, you would not.
  5. Practice your stern lifeguard impression. Say it along with me, at top volume and/or through a megaphone:

NO RUNNING ON THE BIG DOCK!
DO NOT SIT ON THE BUOY LINE!
ONLY ONE PERSON AT A TIME ON THE LADDER!

All phrases that will come in handy at a later time, especially that ladder one.

Or you can just keep checking the wi-fi connection over and over until your thumbs fall off, or it comes back on. Which it never did today. So I have learned a valuable lesson in preparedness.

(Published at 0 plus 5 minutes after returning from the beach.)

Y is for Yoga

work-at-homeWorking at home delivers me a huge advantage – it allows me to go to yoga class. Not just any yoga class, but the class I actually want to attend, which at my studio takes place in the middle of the morning.

(This class is largely attended by retirees and empty nesters who have their mornings free. One of the only places I am considered a youngster, another clear advantage.)

Yoga is great training for a working parent. The poses, or asanas, help you build the flexibility and strength you need every day:

  • Standing poses – Wonderful prep for standing in the back of a gymnasium while your children participate in an endless “dance night,” or for those networking events where you must position yourself on the perimeter of a large group of chatting people for some period of time.
  • Inversions – Good for keeping your equilibrium when your day inevitably gets turned upside down.
  • Restorative poses – Practice for those times when you have a few minutes to collapse on the couch before the kids get home, so you can maintain enough awareness not to snore or drool.
  • Seated poses – Great preparation for sitting at the computer all day, and in the car or on the bleachers all evening.
  • Arm balances – Conditioning for those moments you are carrying a laptop, a purse, an empty coffee mug, three bags of groceries, and a baseball bag all at the same time.

Namaste.

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X is for X-Ray Vision

work-at-homeWhich is what you wish you had when you’re working at home and your office door’s shut. And it’s too quiet on the other side of the door.

If I’m writing, I can wrest myself away for a few minutes and check out what the kids are up to, but if I’m on the phone I’m out of luck. And of course, it’s when I’m on the phone that the shenanigans start.

I’ve always told my kids that moms are like superheroes – We see all, we hear all, and we know what you’re going to do before you do it – but when I’m on the phone my powers are diluted by the noise from the speaker phone on the other end of the line. The paper shuffling. The side conversations that come across as merely a hum. The door opening and closing as people late to the call head in.

So x-ray vision would be a plus. Although I can think of a lot places where I would not want x-ray vision: The airport, the line at the grocery store, the waiting room at the doctor’s office. *shudder*

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W is for Wireless Wars

work-at-homeThe biggest bottleneck of the home office – shared wi-fi. As if it isn’t hard enough to work when the kids are home, I have to compete for bandwidth with two people playing Minecraft and one streaming Netflix on her phone.

And it only gets worse when my husband’s home. The five people who share our abode, among us, have at least nine devices that require the use of wi-fi to make their users happy and/or productive. (Note: It’s usually an “or”.)

I’m sure some of you who are reading are wondering why the heck I let the kids sit on their devices all day – I don’t. But frankly, when I’m working, I don’t always notice that they’ve headed back to the electronic babysitter until my email starts to bog down. Then I raise my head and listen to the eerie silence that is three kids with their heads back in the “cloud”.

It’s so nice to be a copywriter and a policeman all at the same time.

Now that it’s spring it will be easier to keep the kids engaged in non-electronic activities. With baseball, dance, lacrosse, recitals, jobs, and school events they’ll be plenty busy. Then once school is out it’s camps, the beach, the bowling alley and museums across the city.

The good news? Even the beach has free wi-fi. So I can keep working.

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V is for Vacation

work-at-homeNo on really takes a vacation anymore – at least not without a wireless connection. The self-employed are no exception.

I try to schedule projects around time off with my family but it’s not always possible. One of the tenets of working on your own is “take the work when it shows up.” And for me, invariably, it shows up right before our summer driving vacation.

Since I’m a marketing professional, I position this carefully to my family (“Watch mommy earn the money for our vacation even while we’re on it! Hurray!”) but in all honesty, there have been years I was relieved to have something to do on those long stretches across Nebraska or South Dakota.

I’ve written copy in the car (not while driving) and by the pool. In the hotel room while everyone else is at breakfast. Or at night after they’ve gone to sleep. In the better part of at least eight states. All without incident.

On our recent vacation to Mexico, however, I received a karmic gift – both of the projects I was completing ended the day before we left. Just like that! I turned off my phone, left the computer at home, and checked off the grid. For a whole week. Aah.

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T is for Treadmill

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I moved my office to the basement in order for my youngest to have his own room. Unfortunately, I have an office mate. I have to share my space with the treadmill.

I like the treadmill. The treadmill and I have spent some quality time together. But I wish it weren’t in my office.

On the mornings my husband uses it I have to air the place out before I can begin work. Frankly, if I don’t, the place just smells like gym shoes. It’s a little like setting up to work in a locker room.

But I’m stuck with it. In our house, there is no other place for the treadmill to go. And given its similarity to a hamster wheel, maybe there’s a sort of poetry to having it here.

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S is for School Supplies

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What is a post about school supplies doing in a series about a home office? Perhaps the better question is what are all these school supplies doing in my office?

Because there are a lot of school supplies – two bins and a miscellaneous stack of junk. These are the items I purchase using the helpful list the school provides at the end of each year to help us prepare for the fall. When fall rolls around, the list has inevitably changed and half the stuff trickles back home and curls up to die in my office.

It’s usually too late to donate or return these items so I stash them. Then, before we purchase school supplies for the following year, we paw through this pile looking for things like:

  • One steno notebook in red
  • Five pocket folders, one of which must be puce
  • Fifty-six glue sticks we will not use before they fossilize
  • One round-nose scissors to replace the one last year’s teacher threw out when your child left his bag in the classroom for five minutes after the final bell rang
  • The largest three-ring binder known to man

It’s a great system.

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R is for Rodents

work-at-home

We live in a lovely wooded area. My “office” has beautiful views and shade that keeps the house cool most of the summer.

And I’m surrounded by wildlife. I bet you’re picturing the deer, coyotes, and foxes that occasionally wander through the yard. Or the majestic birds that soar by – eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, turkeys. (OK, turkeys aren’t exactly majestic, nor do they soar, but you get my drift.)

Oh, yes, I’m surrounded by wildlife…but the ones who frequent my space are mice, voles and squirrels. (In case you’re thinking to yourself right now, “Squirrels are not rodents,” rest assured. I looked it up.)

These unwholesome critters are drawn to the bird feeder that drops seed right outside my garden-level office window. There they scratch, dig and make a general nuisance of themselves all day and night.

The squirrels are a real pleasure. They don’t just graze. They rumble. As in fight. Each other. And when they do, they slam into the window with an alarming racket, thumping and scratching against the glass, sending me flying out of my chair, and the cats running to the window sill. (We call it cat TV.)

So when I say my co-workers are pests, I really mean pests. As in vermin.

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Q is for Quagmire

work-at-home

Which is what I’m in, because I couldn’t think of anything that starts with Q – and me a copywriter! Or should I say qopywriter?

I tried, but everything I came up with seemed too boring. Questions? Quality time? Questionable qualifications?

No, no, and no.

What a quandary. I was disquieted. My writer’s block left me quaking (not really) and a little queasy (closer). But after churning out a large quantity of posts on my quest to blog A to Z, I thought I could give myself a break. It is Saturday after all.

Now I’ve quelled my qualms.

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P is for Proofreading

work-at-homeAs I promised yesterday, a post about proofreading. It took me a while to land on a post for P. Products? Passwords? Pesky pets? It seems I could write about P all day (a joke my 10- and 11-year-old boys would appreciate).

I finally settled on Proofreading because of something I felt compelled to do the other day – send the head of a company a note advising that he have someone review his copy. Preferably someone who can spell.

I know how hard it can be to produce error-free copy (especially in the era of autocorrect) so I’ll typically give an organization one typo. But the communication this company sent was embarrassing – a notification for a conference that contained (with my limited perusal) three obvious typos, including one so heinous it moved me to action. When I sent myself an email link to the conference site, the auto-generated subject line contained a typo, a word any 2nd grader can spell.

Think about it – if I had sent this email to someone else suggesting they attend the conference it would have looked like my error. Horrors! I can’t think of a single one of my charming marketing friends who would have let that go by (I love you guys!) and then I would have felt compelled to explain that it wasn’t my error, leading to a long, annoying email chain.

I don’t really expect a response from this individual. He’s probably more annoyed than he is grateful. But I did him a favor by pointing out these errors. *Waits nervously for someone to point out the obvious typo in this post*

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