18 reasons I can’t work on a snow day

My summer office

My summer office

Or a cold day to be more exact – air temperatures hovering around -20 with windchill around -40. This is the fourth cold-weather school closing this month, and we’re preparing for a fifth tomorrow. This in a school district where we haven’t had a single snow day in the ten years I’ve had kids in school, even when we had to traverse knee-deep snow or two inches of solid ice to reach the bus stop.

School closures are hard on all parents, and it’s no exception when you work from home. The kids are here all summer but it’s different. We have some space. I frequently head to our screened porch where I can get some distance and some fresh air while I work. The beach has wireless access so I can work there. Ditto for the bowling alley. But I’m at a complete loss when we’re all cooped up in the house.
In case you’re struggling with this issue, I’m offering up some justification you can provide to your clients.


I’m sorry, I can’t work right now because:

  1. I can’t hear over the three people in the next room arguing over the remote control.
  2. I’m still doing the breakfast dishes and it’s nearly time for the lunch dishes.
  3. I’m playing a 14th game of double Solitaire and we haven’t won one yet.
  4. I’m fruitlessly encouraging home study.
  5. I’m explaining for the 100th time that it’s too cold to drive anyone to the coffee shop/mall/bowling alley.
  6. I’m explaining for the 200th time why we won’t be inviting any friends over.
  7. My office is freezing cold and all the afghans are being used for the fort in the sunroom.
  8. There are so many people on the wireless we’ve brought it to its knees.
  9. I’m trying to sell fun family activities to an indifferent crowd.
  10. We’re drawing lots to see who goes down to the curb for the newspaper.
  11. I’m exercising my power by requiring everyone to clean out their closet.
  12. I’m confiscating all electronic devices – again.
  13. I’m trying to create dinner out of our remaining food – a can of tuna, a beer, half an acorn squash, and a lemon.
  14. I can’t get past the 4000 Legos in the hallway.
  15. We’re chipping the frost off the inside of the windows.
  16. I’m busy updating my calendar to reflect cancelled school-related events.
  17. I’m drawing up a list of possible activities with dreaded certainty that they will call off school again tomorrow.
  18. And finally..there isn’t enough coffee in the world to keep me going on a day like this.

I can’t help but think of the hardy souls who first populated this harsh country, huddling all day around a smoky fire, fingers stiff with cold, conserving their meager rations to keep the family fed through the winter. Makes us seem pretty wimpy when we’re arguing about what to watch on Netflix. But I’ll be more sympathetic to that line of thinking once I get all these people out of my office.

How can I keep them busy today – and tomorrow? Any ideas?

Good-bye 2013 – a tribute to the passing of the seasons

One of my favorite blogging goddesses suggested a 2013 retrospective. “What a good idea!” I thought. “Then I don’t have to come up with any original material today!” Anyway, here is my tribute to the passing of the seasons as we head into the new year.

One sad-looking inventory – a late-winter’s lament – in which I describe the horrendous state of my children’s outerwear and really offer no useful advice at all.

The work-at-home personnel manual – A few guidelines for the parent who works at home and is blessed with the presence of their children. All. Summer. Long.

Are you really in the weeds? An ode to my favorite season, Weeding. Is that a season?

…and the changing of the seasons – How do you measure change? I measure it by what is in my car.

And finally, a salute to the current season, and I’ll guess you can figure out just what I’m saluting with. 9 things to hate about winter

Happy New Year to all – and a sincere thanks to all who read and comment. You are truly a blessing to me. It keeps my cynicism (just barely) at bay.

Free-floating dissatisfaction, or what’s bugging me today

What is it about autumn that makes me feel frustrated with my environment? Since I work primarily from home, it’s probably that I’m shut up in the house. I’m surrounded by things that bother me, yet I don’t feel any particular urge to fix any of them. I feel disoriented, restless yet unmotivated.

As a result, I have spent a great deal of time standing around today, feeling annoyed…and strangely that does not seem to tick off any of the items on the to-do list.

Things that are bugging me today:

  • My garage smells like a combination of new tires and mice.
  • It’s only 62 degrees in here but I haven’t had the furnace safety-checked yet so I don’t want to turn it on. I’m so sleepy I’m afraid I won’t notice if I’m being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes.
  • There’s nothing for lunch.
  • Our deck looks like a shipwreck that has been raised from submersion and plopped in our backyard, barnacles and all.
  • There are at least a million wet oak leaves on the lawn.
  • I need to make a trip to the compost heap, but I’d have to walk through the million wet oak leaves on the lawn. My obsession with re-using all things organic means I have a kitchen full of vegetable peelings and coffee grounds.
  • I am working on two different computers because I can’t seem to migrate everything over to the new one. It seems I have a problem with commitment.
  • I’ve done all the laundry except the socks and underwear but I don’t feel like gathering up socks and underwear.
  • We did sun salutations for the first 20 minutes of yoga class yesterday and I have sore muscles I have never been aware of before.
  • Did I mention there’s nothing for lunch?

If I applied myself I could take care of most of the things on this list pretty fast. But it’s so darn cold in here. Guess I’ll start by kicking that furnace on and taking my chances. At least then, if I’m disoriented, I’ll know it has an origin.

What’s bugging you today? And what are you going to do about it? I am badly in need of some inspiration.

The work-at-home personnel manual

Even though I have a business office I frequently find myself working at home, especially when the kids are off for the summer.

“It’s great,” I say when asked, “It’s easier than dragging my stuff back and forth and I can throw in the occasional load of laundry.”

But the truth is, there are days it is anything but great. To get me and other work-at-home parents through the summer, I am issuing the following personnel policies:

Business Hours
Scheduling is to be determined strictly by me with consideration of meetings, work assignments, sports activities, medical and orthodontic appointments, lessons, camps, workshops and haircuts. Requests for a modification to the schedule must be submitted for approval in a timely fashion especially if it involves my driving you somewhere.

Standards of Conduct
Our brand is important to us, therefore it is critical to maintain a professional image at all times. That means you may not knock loudly on my office door, nor burst in yelling, “Mom, he hit me in the (privates),” when I am on the phone with a client.

Use of Company Assets
Do not borrow my tape, stapler or scissors, and do not use my good laser printer paper to make scavenger hunt maps, “flames” for your make-believe campfire, or drawings of elaborate military installations. That is what the giant box of scrap paper is for.

Use of Facilities
Please clean up after using the lunch facilities, including washing your dishes, cleaning the microwave, and replacing all food items including milk, mayo, yogurt, and cottage cheese, or anything else that might give the rest of us food poisoning if left out. Toilets are to be flushed and towels hung up after each use. Keep the floors clear of clutter by stowing Legos, dirty laundry, books, and shoes in their proper location.

Technology Policy
Use of video screens including mobile devices, phones and televisions will be limited to two hours per day (I mean it!). Use of my wi-if hot spot is strictly prohibited – violators will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including having to pay the overage fees on my cell phone bill.

Security and Safety Guidelines
Keep walkways and stairways free of clutter. Do not leave doors unlocked and/or wide open when you leave home. Do not insert a knife or other metal object into the toaster; also do not stand idly by while your friend sticks a metal object in the toaster. Wear adequate sun protection at all times. Management is not responsible for sunburns, sun rashes, and/or peeling skin. Immediately report any evidence of smoke, blood, or standing water to the management.

Dress Code
Personnel shall exit pajamas and put on regular clothing before the hour of 10:00 a.m. Those leaving home should ensure their heads, behinds, feet and bra straps are adequately covered for the activity at hand. “It’s in the dirty laundry” is not an accepted excuse for inadequate dress.

Anti-Harassment Policy
Making derogatory statements, yelling and issuing threats are strictly prohibited unless they are a component of an action visited upon you by me. Fighting is grounds for immediate termination.

What did I miss?