Health and Safety Tips for Hiking

Hiking may just be a recreational activity that anyone who loves to explore the great outdoors may engage in. However, as simple an engagement it is, it is a heart-racing one that requires a lot of planning to ensure the health and safety of anyone involved. And one of the things that will ensure that this is properly taken care of is to bring one of the best water bottles for hiking. This is the best one to keep your body properly hydrated. Hydration, however, is just one of the many other essential things that you will need to consider to make sure that your hike will be a safe and most beneficial to your health and those who are with you throughout the activity. Here are the other important things that you will need to consider when you plan to go hiking: Research You will need to do your due diligence to discover helpful tips and tricks that will lead to the success of the activity. This will also serve as the foundation of your overall hydration plan. To accomplish this, you will have to study maps, guidebooks, and also check for up-to-date information on the internet related to the route that you intend to pass through. Local agencies directly will also provide the additional information that you may need, so do not forget to get in touch with them as well. If info proves hard to come by, always err on the side of caution in regards to how much water you are carrying. Better too much than too little. It is best that you bring enough water as well to make sure that you will have enough to consume during the hike. Knowing possible sources of potable water or planning your route around water sources are also important things that you need to remember before you go on a hike. Know how much water will be enough. Engaging in intense activities like hiking will make you lose body water more. Note, however, that the amount of water that you need will depend on several factors, including environmental factors, the level of your efforts, as well as individual needs. As a rule of the thumb, however, you may follow the guidelines that The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine set to remain hydrated while engaging in high-intensity activities like hiking. Note, again that these amounts will vary depending on the factors already specified: About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids from foods and all beverages for men About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids foods and all beverages a day for women Note that when you engage in these kinds of strenuous activities, you release not only body water but also essential electrolytes. That is why the American College of Sports Medicine indicates in their position regarding nutrition and athletic performance that those individuals engaging in such activities should also consume sports beverages containing carbohydrates and electrolytes before, during, and after exercise as this will help maintain blood glucose concentration, provide fuel for muscles, as well as decrease risk of dehydration and hyponatremia. Failure to do so will lead to a loss of muscle mass, loss of or failure to gain bone density, an increased risk of fatigue, injury, and even health issues, as well as prolonging the recovery process. The hydration process should be taken as a continuous process, hence drinking and consuming food high in carbohydrates should be done at regular intervals. You should not wait until you are already thirsty or hungry before you do so as this will only affect your performance and may even cause dehydration and other health concerns. There is no need for you to take vitamins or supplements if you are consuming enough drinks and food that will provide you with the water and energy that you need to keep on going. Note that your body can take only as much as it needs. Anything that is beyond its limit will never be beneficial to your health. The same thing with the amount of water that you can take. Although this will be a rare incidence, as whatever you may take that is beyond your body’s limit will normally be released through your sweat and urine, it is still possible that you can force your body to keep on holding to more water than it can hold. This can lead to a serious condition known as hyponatremia. This happens when there are abnormally low sodium levels because of too much water than what the body can hold and without enough electrolytes in the body. Wear sun protection Clothing accessories such as hats and shades can also keep you feeling cooler. Colder body temperature will require you to release fewer body fluids, which means you will be needing less water to drink. It’s also worth wearing sunscreen as your concern is your health and safety. You will need to apply a generous amount of a full spectrum sunscreen and re-apply every two hours or so to ensure that your skin is kept protected from the harmful rays of the sun. Drink more when you’re at water sources If you are hiking on a route where opportunities to fill your bottles are rare and distance is quite big, you will need to drink more water before leaving the source. This will require you to carry less water on your backpack, which makes it easier for you to cover a greater distance. Start early Beginning your hike early in the morning so you can enjoy an extended break during the warmer part of the day. Make the most of break time by eating your main meal, so you can continue hiking up until the early evening without having to worry about cooking a big dinner. This will make it possible for you to require less water since you would be hiking during the cooler parts of the day. Bring the best water bottle for hiking Remember that not all sources may be safe for drinking. However, if you find one of the best water bottles for hiking that is designed with a filter and/or a purifier, like the LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle, that can remove bacteria and protozoa from lakes, streams, and other water sources to ensure safe and clean drinking water. Know the signs of dehydration It is a terrible thing to fall into the trap of dehydration. Still many would voluntarily dehydrate themselves in an attempt to do more or to reach their destination. If you feel dizzy, exhausted, nauseated, or have an increased need to drink water, you are most probably dehydrated. Rest for a while, have some water with re-hydrating powder or an energy drink, and cool yourself by soaking your shirt, bandana or hat. Next time you plan to go hiking, remember these reminders so you’ll get the most out of your efforts.  

Tips For Proper Hydration In School

This could be quite unbelievable but it’s true. Children do not consume enough water during the school day. As a result, many of our school kids are dehydrated and this contributes to continence problems as well as other health concerns. Perhaps, if you have school children, yours might not be properly hydrated as well. However, if you let them bring one of the best water bottles for school, this might not be the case for you. Researchers at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in  Boston, MA indicated that more than 50% of the children and teenagers in the United States might not be properly hydrated. Evidence indicates that 54.5% of the 4134 participants (boys and girls aged 6 to 19 years) in the study had urine concentrations that categorized them as having below their minimum daily water intake. Your child may not be drinking enough in school and these are the reasons why It is not uncommon for young students to go six or seven hours without a single drink, and there could be several reasons for that. One could perhaps be the distance of a water source, whether the water at the water source is kept cold or it’s not, or, perhaps the water source is not properly sanitized or cleaned. Then, there is the issue of the taste. Perhaps the students do not like the taste of the water. They might have been used to sugar-coated drinks and flavored packed juices that are not actually healthy for them. So, if they do drink, they may either drink less than they really need or would like to or they would be drinking more of those unhealthy water alternatives. Either way, they are not properly hydrated, which could lead to dehydration. Most kids would also rely on their feeling of thirst, which, in the first place, is unreliable. Children have immature thirst mechanisms so when they say that they are thirsty, they may either be hungry or are actually already dehydrated. It is easy to determine if your child is on the brink of dehydration. Children who are mildly dehydrated will be restless and an increased need to drink. Those who are moderately dehydrated will eagerly drink water when offered a drink, have sunken eyes, have dry mouth and tongue. Those who are severely hydrated will be lethargic, increased heartbeat, and fever. This is a serious condition and requires medical attention. Water is crucial for sustenance Water is essential in maintaining the body’s fluid balance. When a is properly hydrated, every part of that child’s body is functioning properly. However, when the displaced fluid is more than the fluid that is taken in, there will be a measurable decline in the mental as well as in the physical performance. Hydration is crucial to children as their fluid requirements are higher than adults. They also do not recognize the early phase of dehydration, which makes them even more at risk of being dehydrated. However, the amount of water that a child may need will vary as this will be dependent on several factors as age, gender, body mass, physical activity, environmental conditions, as well as other personal preferences when it comes to the choice of drinks. The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) recommends drinking 1.1-1.3 liters of fluid drinks for boys and girls aged 4 to 8 years old; girls aged 9 to 13 years should drink about 1.3-1.5 liters of water a day; while boys aged 9 to 13 years should consume about 1.5-1.7 liters of water a day. Other reasons that may be causing children not to drink as much as they need would be the absence of adequate drinking facilities in the school premises. The distance of the water source is another contributing factor, as well as the quality of water that may be provided by the water source. Evidence indicates that children prefer sweet-tasting liquid alternatives such as soft drinks and other sugar-coated juices, which are not really healthy for them. Tips for proper hydration in school How can you encourage your child to drink more water when they are in school? The solution is pretty simple. Train them to bring one of the best water bottles in school. Let them participate when it is time to decide which will best suit their needs. This way, they will want to use what they have decided to buy for themselves. You may also add fruit flavors to their drinks. Better yet, prepare fruit-juices to keep in their reusable water bottle. Choose a flavor that your child already likes as this will encourage him/her more to drink up when needed. Showing them how important water is to health and to their performance when they are in school will increase their interest in bringing their own reusable water bottle. Teach them the benefits of having their own bottle instead of buying bottled water. This will help them realize that they are helping the earth by reducing pollution. Your child will also be contributing to the family’s economic growth as he/she will be saving more when he/she brings his/her own water bottle to school. As there are many brands and designs that are available, make sure that you find one that will best suit your child’s need. Opt for a high-quality design that ensures that your child’s beverage will be kept warm or cold in the water bottle longer. Go for bottles that are spill and mess-proof, are made of durable materials that are also safe when used many times over. Water bottles are made of different materials. Choose one that will be easy for your child to place in his/her bag, is light, and won’t break if ever the child loses grip on the bottle. Make sure to compare reviews on products that you intend to purchase to ensure that you will get the best value for your money. Conclusion Your child’s health is your primary responsibility. Make sure that your child is provided sufficient water even when he or she is not with you. Teach your child the benefits of bringing a reusable water bottle and provide him or her with one of the best water bottles for school to ensure his/her optimum health.

Tips On How To Stay Hydrated

We all know the importance of drinking sufficient water especially when you have to go through an intense workout. Still, many are not taking in just enough. Allowing yourself to go through the day without this essential element not only limits your physical ability but can also have a detrimental effect on your body. Water is the life-giving element Our body, as we all know that the body is made up of 60% water. It’s even a part of our blood is about 92% water. Water is a crucial part of our system. If you are dehydrated, nutrients that are needed by the cells may take a long time to be channeled to them. Water also acts as a lubricant for the joints in the body to move properly. It helps in the proper digestion of food as well as in the elimination of body wastes (through perspiration and the stool). That’s the reason why you may be constipated when you don’t drink enough water. If you don’t drink much water, you’ll feel tired too easily. It will also be difficult for you to concentrate; your body responses will be slower, you’ll experience erratic mood changes as well. If you don’t fill your tank enough that every part of your system is fueled well, you will soon find that you are aging fast. It will show in your skin, lips, in your eyes, and even in the way you move. How do you know when you have had enough? Exactly how much you need to drink depends on a lot of factors. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine indicates that an adequate daily fluid intake is about: 5 cups or 125 ounces (3.7 liters) of fluids for men 5 cups or 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women The standard rule that most of us have known for such a long time indicates that we need to take eight 8 ounces of water daily. Neither of these standards is appropriate for all, however. Factors like the type of activities one engages in, the length of time required to finish such an activity, heat exposure within the location, physiological aspects, as well as the overall health of the individual. Your water requirements will also vary depending on the changes in these factors mentioned as well. If you have gained weight, become pregnant, have changed exercise routines, and so on. That means there is really no absolute amount of water that anyone can take. The best way to determine how much you need for the day is to drink enough until your thirst is quenched. Your pee will also be a good indicator if you are getting enough. If  you have a light-colored pee then you have an adequate amount of water in your body, if not, it’s time to fill up. Here a few tips that can help you stay hydrated and have a happy water level in your body. Drink to satisfy your thirst. Do not drink more than necessary, though. Overhydrating can lead to a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia and can cause the following problems: fatigue, drowsiness headache confusion nausea and vomiting irritability muscle cramps, spasms seizure coma If you need to go for a few hours to do some strenuous workouts, you’ll need to drink more before, during, and after the session. You need more than just water. During a workout, you use a huge amount of energy, so it will be better if you can replace the lost fluid with something that can provide more than just what water can give. You’ll need more carbs, protein, and other nutrients. If you can find a vitamin-enhanced water that will be better. Cold water is better for workouts. Cold drinks are better for your core temperature. It keeps you down, so you won’t sweat as much as when you drink hot beverages. That means you won’t be needing as much water replacement. Drinking cold water can help burn more calories. If you want to boost the benefits that you get from your workout, it is best to drink cold water. Studies found that cold water during a work out can help you lose weight better. Drinking enough more can give your skin that radiant glow. Drink up to allow your skin to look more vibrant and retain its elasticity. You’ll see fewer wrinkles in those who do. If you find your skin taking longer to go back to its normal condition, then you are already hydrated. Make your water taste better Here are some interesting things you can do to let your water get down easier. Infuse your water. Add fruit slices (orange, lemon, apple, and so on) in your water and refrigerate. Add coconut ice to plain water. Instead of regular ice cubes, make some using coconut water and add to your glass of water to give it a slightly sweet taste. Try these water alternatives. Watermelon, pear, or cucumber, and other variations can make thirst quenching easier and great-tasting. Eat water. Here are some tasty food options that also provide water to quench your thirst: noodle soup, cooked zucchini, apple, orange, broccoli florets, and so on. To make it easier for you to drink smart when you are in a middle of a workout, find the best water bottles for gym and fill it up with your favorite beverage. Look for a high-quality brand that provides a water container that will hold hot or cold beverages longer. There are different types available online and at your local store. Find one that can easily be slid in your gym bag and won’t stain your things as it is placed on tables or anywhere.

Makeup Tips For Pregnant Women

It’s amazing how pregnancy can affect how a soon-to-be mom looks. Many experiences that unusual pregnancy glow. But even if you don’t (not everyone is fortunate enough to experience that unusual glow, instead see unwanted skin issues instead), there are so many things that you can be grateful for being pregnant. One of these is being granted to experience the gift that separates a woman from a man. You can celebrate that by putting on your best face forward. To help you find the right products for that, like the best foundation for pregnancy, you may need to browse through this essential makeup tips to help you create that look. Pregnancy-related problems Every success is not faced by challenges. Before you experience the joy of motherhood and see the new member of your family, you have to overcome several months that will present unique challenges. During the early phase of your pregnancy, you will find morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting as your constant early morning reminders that your baby is growing. You will also feel exhausted, may have constant mood swings, or may have an aversion to a particular food, and so on. Sleepless nights will also be a common occasion for you. Your baby will be constantly kicking even in the middle of the night to wake you up. You will end up will dark eye circles and an aching back and hips. Later you also find it difficult to walk, so you will waddle instead. The pressure of your growing baby inside your uterus adds to the tension and you will experience more pain in the lower part of your body. You will also notice that your feet are beginning to swell. There are just so many unsightly things going on in the rest of your body, that you would really want to make sure that you still look good on your face to make you feel better. Some pregnant women, however, see even more dramatic changes on their faces. During pregnancy, the body can be producing more hormones than usual. That’s the reason why you may have an oily skin when you are pregnant. It can also cause the pores of the skin to clog and trigger the development of acne, pimples, and skin rashes. Cover it up! All you can do is to conceal those unsightly dark spots and skin blemishes. You can be looking great even with all these with a good makeup. You don’t need to be a pro to do that. And if you are always in a rush, this simple guide will make every morning something you’ll want to wake up to. Read on for some helpful makeup tips that can make your pregnancy a lot better. Open up those eyes Minimize puffiness and under-eye dark circles by dabbing a light and nourishing eye cream under your eyes before applying a moisturizer. Gently pat or brush on concealer or corrector right after. This will instantly brighten your eyes and your face. You may feel tired or bloated when you are pregnant. Still, your condition can give your eyes a natural sparkle. Even with that, you may still need to enhance how your eyes look with these simple tricks Gently sweep an eye pencil just above your top lashes to define your eyes. Use a thick pencil so you’ll only need a few strokes to create the look that you want. Applying mascara on your lashes will define your eyes even more. However, you may still want to use eyelash curlers to open tired eyes and give an instant lift to your face before applying the mascara. Choose a black, lash-coating mascara to give you a fuller, long and fluttery lashes. Apply the mascara from side to side while applying to separate and coat each lash properly. Mimic that pregnancy glow When you are pregnant, you really do not want any heavy make up that can just aggravate any skin issues that you already have. All you want to do is to let your skin breathe. When choosing a product to use, make sure that it is made of natural ingredients and are non-comedogenic or won’t clog your pores. You also need to use a product that will even out flaws and won’t feel cakey on your skin. Finally, opt for products that have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. An instant facelift You can create an instant healthy glow on your face with a blush on. It can easily lift your face, brighten your eyes, and make you look that you had enough sleep once you put it on your face properly. Apply a cream blusher or cheek stain that you can also use as a lip tint if don’t have much time to put on your makeup. Dab a small amount of blusher on your fingertip, smile and lightly pat it on to the apples of your cheeks. Blend the color in until you have the look that you prefer. If you are putting it on after pregnancy, you may want a brighter shade than usual. Lip lifters A lip color that blends well with your face and overall look will give  you an instant facelift. Choose a shade that will enhance your natural skin tone. If you prefer a more natural look, you may opt to apply a lightly tinted lip gloss instead. You can bring all these inside a small beauty kit or bag so you can freshen up whenever you feel the need to perk up your sleep-deprived face. A final reminder. When you have put on everything and you feel and think that you look good outside, curve those lips up. You’ll see how easy it easy for you to feel a lot better when positive emotions flow through from the inside out.

How Do You Choose A Comfortable Footwear For Pregnancy?

Pregnancy brings in a lot of changes, including a change in your pre-pregnancy weight. The growing baby inside your belly adds in the weight that you also put on as your pregnancy progresses. This additional weight will make your feet to swell and be in pain. It is, therefore, a must that you wear the best shoes for pregnancy. You will know more about why you need to find the most appropriate footwear for pregnancy below. Why do you need to wear the right shoes for pregnancy? Your body bears a lot of pain while you are expecting. That has much to do with the additional weight that your baby adds to your weight. As your body expands to accommodate the growing baby inside your tummy, your center of gravity also changes. This will have a great effect in the manner that you walk. It also does a lot about your posture as well as the lower portion of your body responds to the whole weight. Needless to say, it is crucial that you find the most comfortable pair of footwear when you are pregnant to prevent pregnancy-related symptoms as follows: Swollen feet and legs Notice that as your belly expands as your pregnancy progresses, the pressure around your pelvic area increases. This increased pressure slows restricts the proper blood flow. This results in the accumulation of fluid and swelling around your feet and ankles. Thus, it makes it quite important to wear a comfortable pair of footwear. For some interesting tips to lessen swelling feet during pregnancy, check out Dr. Robert Fenell’s video. Varicose Veins The restricted blood flow or circulation during pregnancy may also cause the development of varicose veins in various parts of the pregnant woman’s body. As the blood puddles in certain areas of the veins, the veins dilate and bulge out from the skin. They become prominent and looks purplish or bluish in color. Varicose veins can make your legs feel painful and quite heavy. There are pregnant women who may also experience itching or burning sensation on the skin. Sprain or Trauma to the Ligament Pregnancy increases the risk of sprains or trauma to the ligament. This results as collagen becomes more flexible during this period because of the increased levels of relaxin hormones. This also helps the pelvic region to easily expand for the upcoming delivery causing the ligaments to be more prone to traumas and sprains. Painful Heels As you put on pounds, the arched portion of the heel where the  plantar fascia or the thick tissue at the bottom of the foot flattens and causes the foot to slowly touch the ground. This causes your footsteps to roll inwards. This change in the movement of the feet puts pressure on the plantar fascia ligament which may result in painful heels during pregnancy. Wearing a pair of shoes that provide support and cushion to your footbed will ease the discomfort and help you maintain balance at the same time. What should you look for in a maternity footwear You need to look for a number of things when choosing the right footwear for your condition. Consider buying a pair of shoes that are about half bigger than your regular size as this will give more room for your feet. As mentioned earlier, pregnant feet may swell especially during the latter part of the pregnancy. Bigger-sized footwear will give more room for your feet and will, therefore, feel more comfortable. Find shoes which are designed with a good arch and ankle support. This will also lessen any discomfort that you may experience around the joints on your feet during pregnancy. The best type of shoes that you can wear while you are pregnant is the slip on shoes. You can easily wear these shoes even after your third trimester. You won’t even need to bend to wear them comfortably. Consider wearing flat footwear. However, if you really cannot wear flats, look for a pair wide wide and low heels (two-inches max). Low-wide heels can help distribute your body weight better. This can also help ease any discomfort that you may experience during pregnancy. Wear insoles in your regular shoes if you can’t find the right pair to fit. This will provide support to your feet. Look for a pair that will let your feet to breathe and will not make your feet to sweat. Footwear with a mesh like a canvas shoes is your best options. For the most comfortable wear, you may consider one of these shoe types: loafers, canvass shoes, flat sandals, and the ever-reliable pair of sneakers for the ultimate comfort and support that your feet need. If you are looking for a footwear that you can put on during the cold season, try a pair of flat winter boots. Opt for one that provides adequate foot support as well as easy enough to put on your feet. Conclusion Your safety is of utmost importance while you are pregnant. This includes caring for your feet as it does much to allow you to enjoy even a casual walk along the beach or in the park. The best thing to take care of your feet is to allow it to wear the best shoes for pregnancy. An ill-fitting footwear will add more pain to the list of discomfort that you are already experiencing. If you wear a pair that provides adequate support, you can worry less about having varicose veins, callous, corns, and other related concerns. Keep your feet happy when you wear comfortable fitting shoes. When you feel happy and have lesser complaints about your condition, it will be easier for you to focus on the things that will maintain the enjoyment that you are already experiencing. That’s double joy for you and your baby.

Conan O’Brien and Memories of a Cancellation

For the past week I’ve been up late, much later than usual, watching Conan O’Brien host his final episodes of The Tonight Show. He’s kept me up in part because he’s my favorite host but also because it reminds me of a time I worked on a radio show that was canceled in January (also after a 6-7 month run), and oddly enough, replaced by the very programming that had preceded it. In the weeks before the cancellation we too were unsure whether it would actually happen. Lots of rumors, deals behind closed doors, uncertainty. Even as the PR manager for the program, I had no idea which way it would end. When we were finally told the show was going off the air, I had to write the jubilant press release announcing the new line-up. It crushed me. I actually cried. The host, reporters and producers all lost their jobs. They kept me on for another year before terminating my position. Perhaps the worst part of the situation is realizing how much you bet on the future. Conan moved his entire family, cast and crew to a new city. Similarly, the host of the show I worked on had moved her family from the west coast to the east. But it’s not just physical. Much of it is mental. Security in broadcasting is pretty much nonexistent, but there are some projects that, for whatever reason, take on an air of permanence, and that permeates the minds of those working on it, prompting a sense of security. I still think about that show and the talented people who worked on it. Some have moved on to positions on other programs, others (like myself) are still hopping from one gig to the next. Sometimes I wonder what we could have accomplished if we’d been given the chance to continue what we started. My heart goes out to Conan and his crew. I don’t think any of them imagined this would happen. Many of Conan’s guests this week have shared their own job loss stories. Adam Sandler talked about how he and Chris Farley were fired from SNL. Robin Williams said he found out “Mork & Mindy” was canceled after reading it in Variety. I’ve loved hearing these stories. Perhaps because they’re not often told. And also because, they’re trying to make Conan feel better. That’s what friends do when you lose your job. I think there are many of us watching who can relate.

Sweepstake Fantasies

A funny thing happened to me tonight at Rite Aid. After I swiped my credit card through the machine and pushed all the appropriate buttons, the cashier took my receipt, circled something and then proceeded to give me a game card. It’s part of a promotion. They give you the card and several pieces to play each time you purchase something. Anyway, I usually decline promotions, but this particular one captured my imagination when I saw the grand prize: $250,000. Why, you might ask, did that captivate me? It’s just a tad bit more than what we paid for our townhouse (currently worth $129,000). In other words, the price of freedom. So, I did something I rarely do with sweepstakes: I got excited. As soon as I got home, I took the card to our kitchen table, giddily opened my game pieces, gingerly bended the perforations to detach each piece and place it on its throne. Finding that I had enough game pieces for a chance to win the cruise (but nowhere near what was required for the mortgage), I actually followed the instructions and taped the requested pieces to an index card, put it in an envelope, stuck a stamp on, and slid it in the mail slot. All the while thinking, “I’m an idiot! Why am I doing this? They’re going to send me junk mail and sell my information marketing firms.” Yet, the skeptic in my brain could not drown out the dreamer saying, “I want to win something, damn it!” Guess after so many unpleasant surprises these past couple of years, I’ve reached a plateau. A place where I have become prey to fantasies of luck and chance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful for the good things that have happened. Working from home on a fantastic project, sharing an office with David, having more flexibility to be with our daughter. But there are so many question marks for the near future, it feels a bit akin to being in that uncomfortable 12-14 year old age range again. Lots of dramatic change teamed with an ever present sense of powerlessness, hope, possibility, uncertainty. At such times, finding a game card with your magic number can make you feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Dreaming about a life beyond cabbage soup and laundry. A life where magic exists again and there are marvelous and odd surprises around every corner.

Two People, One Office

Okay, it’s been a couple months since my last post, and I know you’re wondering: how the heck are David and Katie doing working at home together? So, I’m happy to write that it’s going better than ever. It’s been going so well, in fact, that we “moved in together”, as in, we’re now sharing one office space. Before, David worked downstairs, I worked upstairs. We thought we needed our own space but it turns out it’s easier (and more enjoyable) for us to be in one spot. Here’s why: 1. Designated work space = more relaxing home: We used to have file cabinets, a printer and desk downstairs… and a desk, computer, file folders and shelves upstairs. In other words, our work was everywhere. Leaving us no real sanctuary away from work. Once we moved all the office stuff into a designated room upstairs, we created a more peaceful environment downstairs. Plus, now when we’re in the “office”, everything we need is within arm’s reach. 2. Camaraderie helps morale: Working from home is isolating. You start to miss the small talk and little jokes with people. The stuff that gives you perspective and helps you relax when work gets stressful. David and I have started to find that in each other (I know, I’m getting mushy). He laughs at me when I, unconsciously, give my computer a nasty stare. I laugh at him when he’s listening to that Hannah Montana / Biggie Smalls mash-up on his headphones (yes, so loud I can hear it several feet away). 3. Kvetching during the day, not after: Before, David and I used to come home and we’d release a torrent of commentary about our work. Now, we’re able to tell each other things as they happen, which means when our work is done for the day we stop talking about it. Or, at the very least, our end-of-day work conversations are much more relaxed. The only real drawback is conference calls. But, so far that hasn’t been much of an issue. We tell each other before we’re about to jump on the phone and offer to move downstairs if it’s going to be distracting. Could other couples work like this? I’m not sure, but I would love to know. If you’re in a similar situations, tell me what you think. Pros/Cons? Are David and I still in the “honeymoon” phase or does this situation have staying power? And, as always, thanks for reading.

Two at Home

David and I just completed our first full month of co-working from home. Typically this elicits strong curiosity from people who assume it’s a disadvantageous scenario. So, I tell them the truth: I love it. During the summer, when David was contracting at a company downtown, we rarely saw each other. He had a long commute via public transit and had to leave home early and typically arrive home after our daughter was already in bed. Meanwhile, I had to get up super early to exercise (say 6am) before our daughter woke up (7:15/30am), dress & feed her, pack her lunch and drive her to daycare, then at night pick her up, feed her, bathe her, walk the dog, make dinner. It was hard. Hard for me because I was doing all the kid-stuff before & after work. Hard for David because he was commuting and working non-stop. Contrast that to our current situation: I wake up around 7am to exercise, David sleeps in until our daughter wakes up (7:15/30). He takes the morning shift to prepare her for daycare and drop her off. I walk the dog, shower and eat breakfast while they’re off to daycare. David comes back starts work downstairs. I’m already at work upstairs. Then when one of us has a break in the day, we visit the other. Sometimes we break and have lunch together. At night we’re flexible with our daughter’s pick up. I usually get her, but if I need extra time David can jump in and do it. This happens in the morning at drop off too. Then we’re all together for dinner, bath-time, stories. Once our daughter’s in bed David and I have time to ease into the night: movies, TiVo, or quietly transitioning back to work to meet deadlines. Our daily routine is so much more relaxed than it used to be. It’s hard for me to imagine returning to the daily grind of commuting into an office. On the flip side, just like any good fairy tale, ours has its dark moments. There are days when the instability of our situation fills my entire body with anxiety. The looming deadline of projects; late checks from clients; the labrynth of tax work and accounting; and health insurance (we’re still on government subsidized COBRA, but that runs out in February). I could, and probably should, devote entire blog entries to these topics. They are some of the most compelling reasons people don’t quit their jobs to become contractors. Remarkably, it’s all a little easier to deal with when we don’t have the additional burden of commuting. Do we get tired of each other or on each others nerves? Much, much less than we did when we were both working outside of the house. It’s fascinating to me how life offers these little trades in sanity. Remove one hurdle, shift to the side, replace with another, add something pleasant to the mix. When I was a kid, I used to wonder if we’re all given the same amount of happiness and sadness in life — regardless of the specific situations. We’ve “won the lottery” in so many areas of our life, that it makes things like home value and monetary instability seem petty sometimes. So, I’ll take this little island of harmony while it lasts and we’ll see where the winter takes us.

Homeowner’s Remorse

As much as I’m proud of the work we’ve done on our house, there are some weeks I’d kill to be a renter again. The biggest reason lately is mobility. Last week I was in San Francisco for a conference and feeling the creative vibrancy of the place made me yearn to pack our bags for good… except for the ball and chain that is our mortgage. It’s been hard lately to watch friends who purchased real estate around the same time we did sell their homes and move on to new cities, new neighborhoods. I’m happy for them, just insanely jealous. If we sold our home today at the high end of what units are going for in our neighborhood ($150,000), we would still owe the bank around $80,000. (That’s about twice what I have left in student loans.) While in San Francisco, I actually found myself considering the prospect of “strategic default,” a recent trend of homeowners to have banks foreclose on their homes. Tempting but not wise. Not for us anyway. We made a commitment, we should stick to it (at least as long as we’re viably capable of doing so.) I feel grateful that we have a home we can afford. But, okay, I’m also envious of the people who recently purchased homes in our neighborhood. (They are such nice people, I feel bad writing this.) Sometimes I daydream of what we could do with all the extra money if we had a $150,000 loan instead of a $235,000 loan, and if it was at 4.85% instead of 6%. We could install a dishwasher, replace the mismatched linoleum on the kitchen floor, plan a real vacation, or most of all… put more money away for our daughter’s college education. At times like this, I try to summon the darker periods of my life — times when things seemed dire and the prospects of change dim. In each instance, it was not an eternity before things changed (though it may have felt like it at the time.) The worst days are often followed by the best. So, life is teaching me a lesson right now. For whatever reason, we’re meant to live in our over-priced condo, on this strange little cul de sac. For some reason, this is precisely what we need to do right now. Or so I keep reminding myself, even if daydreaming about San Francisco.