‘Twas The Summer Before High School…

(Disclosure: this post has taken a few weeks to finish. Because life.)

Confession: I hate the end of the school year (and the beginning too 😉).

Not for the obvious reasons though. For me, it has always been a notable transition point. An indicator that we’re all growing up and time is passing.

And that soon enough our time together will end.

I recognize how much the boys have grown, marked specifically by the passing from one grade to the next.

I try every year not to dampen their end-of-year excitement and enthusiasm with my tears. (I shed a few in private for sure.)

But this year is worse. The oldest is ending middle school and we’re moving on to high school.

High school.

HIGH SCHOOL!

!!!!!

How did we get here seemingly so fast?

It seems like only yesterday he was sobbing his way through the doors of elementary school for the first time.

When he started middle school, I told him to just keep his head down and ride the waves. Because no one likes middle school.

And he did. Whether these were the worst years of life for him is obviously still to be determined. But I can say that we have had some pretty trying moments.

Seventh grade was especially the pits.

But as we moved through eighth grade, things have improved.

I can kinda sorta see the light beginning to shine. He’s definitely growing up – in all the ways.

He offered to help make the cake for his little bros birthday.

I’m sorry. What?!?

He started an evening ritual with the 10-year-old – they go outside and talk about their day.

No screaming. No yelling. No cross words. No shoving or fighting. Just two dudes, a ball and a chat about the day.

And I now have to tilt my head ever-so-slightly up to meet his eyes.

I can see them all growing – which fills me with a combination of pride and sadness.

Because it makes the end of this ride seem so much closer.

We recently listened to Phil Keogan’s interview with Tim Ferris – one of the best podcast episodes I’ve heard in years –  in which Phil mentions that we spend 80% of all the time we get with our kids in the first 18 years.

Let’s pause a moment to let that settle in.

And there’s also the 18 summers is all we get post that was floating around Facebook for a bit recently.

SMACK! Did you feel that too?

That was harsh reality folks – that our time as parents is far shorter than we realize or imagine.

Sigh.

We’re already more than a week into this summer. I’ve dried my tears and have moved on from this (mostly) for now.

Far too soon the beginning of school will be upon us again and we’ll start the beginning of the end.

And I’ll shed all the tears.

But we’ll also make darn sure that we get the most out of every summer and all of what’s left of our 80%.

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

A big shout out to my husband, who dutifully went to see this with me – without complaint – even though this is so not his thing!

I so desperately wanted to love this movie.

I tried really, really hard.

To embrace Hermione as Belle.

To feel the true beauty of the Beast despite his overly CGI-d beastliness.

But in the end, it left me …  meh.

There is a fine line between remaking a movie in a new a fresh way while still holding on to what made the original so amazing and attempting to copy the original unsuccessfully. This movie does not toe that line at all.

The tipping point – Ewan McGregor’s horribly failed attempt at a French accent.

Singing in a French accent no less. Blech.

I do love that they stuck to the original story but did not appreciate some of the additions – let’s not try to remove fantasy from a fairy tale. Puh-lease.

I love that they included all the songs from the original and they did a spectacular job here.

I sang. I tapped. If I were inclined, I might even have stood up and got my jam on.

The new songs were full of melancholy and angst and felt a lot like something from Les Mis.

I found myself singing the songs over and over for the next week, inspiring a great desire to watch the original again.

And again.

And again.

The story of Beauty and the Beast has a special place for me – I’ve even read the original in French.

But this movie just didn’t do it. The original is just better.

You just can’t improve upon perfection.

Video

Leprechaun traps … Becker style

This is from last year …

Forgive the poor quality but I had to get it before the leprechauns did. They also left the front porch light on and added disco balls, comfy sofas and potato chips to the actual stuck-in-there areas.

We’re all about catch and entertain here…

The first year in 6 years that on St. Patty’s Day Eve, there are no Leprechaun traps gracing the floors of the Becker house.

No tiny footprints.

No glitter or fancy, dressed up shoe boxes.

I mourn this much more than the day that Santa disappears. There was something about the magic of the Leprechaun that was just …. innocent and special.

Not that the little ones don’t believe  – they just don’t have the same fervor that the oldest did. His excitement about the Leprechauns was pure and real. He truly believed, without question, that he had a chance to catch one. Like for real.

I’ll have hope for next year, but it will never be the same.

Sniff.

Sniff.

Being A Happiness Engineer

This post is part of a series describing what Happiness Engineers at Automattic do each day. Read more like it by checking #a8cday on WordPress.com and Twitter.

I am extremely fortunate to be a newly minted Happiness Engineer at Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, Jeptack, WooCommerce and a potpourri of other fantastic products. As part of my decision process to apply, I stalked thoroughly reviewed all of the posts in this tag stream, so it’s time to pay it forward and share a day in my life now…

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 

6:15AM – The “alarm” (loving the new iPhone Bedtime feature as it doesn’t feel so much like an alarm). I get up, throw on some comfy clothes, pull up my hair/throw on a hat/actually style it if I’m feeling fancy, and make the 20-second commute to my desk. (This amount of time is only in the morning; I can make it much quicker when I’m fully alert.)

I’m testing out a slightly earlier waking time, but not being a morning person, we’ll see how it goes. I like the quiet before the boys get up and it’s nice to start my day with a little work-time.

But I’m still not a morning person.

6:30AM – I check Slack for all of the fun things that all of our “overnight” team accomplished. Because we’re distributed, these aren’t really people working overnight, rather the EU team members who start their day while I’m still catching my zzzzzs. After Slack, I head to my work email to catch up on all of the P2s (our internal blogs and the primary means by which we communicate) that I follow.

7:00ishAM: Break to say good morning to the middle-schooler (who still says good morning and gives me a hug goodbye – yay for the little things 🙂 ). Also time for breakfast.

7:30AM: Wake the not-so-littles, make their breakfast and assist with whatever they need in the way of lunch-making help. It’s amazing how calm and peaceful that seems when it’s in that tidy sentence.

!@##$%$^^&! is more like it.

Wednesdays are usually coffee shop days. It’s my day to take the kids to school, so I like to take advantage of already being out and get some time out around other humans. I have a favorite local coffee shop that has great wifi, a fabulous owner, and delicious – and bottomless (bonus!) – coffee.

But this particular Wednesday, we’ve got this new little fella going on:

Our newest arrival … Flash. (Like the comic – for those in the viewing audience who don’t have a gaggle of boys to keep you abreast of all the cool comic book characters.)

I’m staying in today so that he doesn’t have to be alone for too long yet.

8:45AM: I’ve found that it takes me a bit to find my rhythm so I like to start the day looking through others replies or digging into something that confused me or in which I’m still not super confident. Because I’m still new this is a very deep bucket from which to draw!

9:30AM: Time to crank up the tunes and dig in to some tickets! I’m still new to troubleshooting VaultPress (our backups and security solution – soon to be part of Jetpack), so I start my day there.

10:00AM: The puppy wakes and needs to burn some serious energy. Short break to take him out and to enjoy the sunshine. It’s beautifully warm (although dismal to those who would prefer a traditional, frigid winter) so I take some time to really soak it in.

10:30AM: After trying unsuccessfully to work with my laptop on the front porch (thanks to wonky wifi), I head back inside to bang out some Jetpack user questions. This is a complicated plugin and so inspires a wide variety of problems, ranging from installation and connection issues to Publicize (everybody’s favorite) to problems with stats to … the possibilities are endless.

That’s part of what makes this job so awesome. Never boring!

12:30PM: My husband comes home for lunch and puppy duty. We’re fortunate that he works only 5 minutes away so we spend everyday (mostly) lunching together. Sometimes I’ll run to the grocery store or we’ll meet for a lunch date at a local place, but usually it’s leftovers from the fridge.

1:30PM: Back to the queues. If the incoming volume is manageable, I use this time to check on any replies to the responses I sent in the morning. I find that following a ticket all the way to its resolution to be incredibly helpful for learning; if someone else grabs it and replies, I’m not always privy to the outcome. If I come across a particularly tricky ticket and know that I won’t be around to see it through, I try to bookmark it so that I can understand how it worked out.

1:57PM: Ping! Time for my weekly check-in with my rockstar lead. We chat about how things are going, the puppy, any questions that I may have, suggestions that she has for moving forward, goals and progress. As a new hire, it’s nice to have this weekly one-on-one time as a checkpoint for me so that I can be sure that I’m on the right track.

3:00PM: Quick break for the puppy. (Full disclosure: at this point, he’s starting to get a little needy and I’m starting to get a little $%&*#)

3:15PM: Finish up a last few tickets and then head into the training course for Polldaddy. By the end of the day, my brain starts to get a little overheated, so it’s harder for me to compose my thoughts. Since I’ve still got a lot to learn, I like to spend a few minutes working on the training for a new product. I’m really better in learning through experience, though, so these are more cursory for me than anything.

3:45PM: Middle schooler arrives and comes in for his daily chat. I stop what I’m doing for this everyday because I get a huge data dump of everything that happened during his day. I’ve found that if I miss this opportunity, he moves on with his free time and it never comes back around. At this age, I’ll take every moment like this that I can get 🙂

4:00PM: To the bus stop! It’s really only just up the street, and they truthfully don’t need me to come greet them, but it gets me out of the house for a bit and I get to hang out with my best-neighbors-ever. Plus, the littlest still has that excited-to-see-me look on his face when he gets off the bus, and I’m not giving that one up until it follows it’s natural path to extinction. One of those small moments that makes all the rest so worth it.

4:15PM: Finish up the last of my tickets, following up on replies where I can, and get set for tomorrow.

5:15ishPM: Sign off for the day.

My days vary in length and work, but for now, this is mostly how they go. I’ve started to work Sundays on a fairly regular basis because it gives me freedom to do other things during the weekday when everyone is gone: workouts, errands, long lunch, coffee dates, PTA meetings, volunteering at the kids’ school … whatever!

Every Happiness Engineer works differently and in their own way, so check out these #a8cday posts to read about how others do it 🙂

So much flexibility. I dig it.

If you dig it too, We’re hiring!