Sitting on Play-Doh = the two-year-old equivalent of photocopying your butt
Roar, the battle-hardened veteran, lost his arm in a vicious encounter with the beast known as Atticus the Terror. Thankfully Dr. Daddy reattached the arm and Roar is resting comfortably.
I probably talk about my job too much, but I do that because it’s awesome. But it’s not all about traveling to fun, exotic places, hanging out with brilliant coworkers, and designing pretty things…although that’s a big part of it. A typical day goes a bit more like this.
I get up at the ungodly hour of 6 or 7 a.m. You’d think I could sleep in, but I have these adorable-albeit-early-waking things called “kids” that need to eat and leave the house to go to school. It’s a mind-boggling concept, that one should have to leave their house. I don’t understand it, personally, but what can you do?
The stringent office dress code calls for a t-shirt and jeans or pajama pants, naturally. I grab coffee and breakfast, feed the kids and dogs, the standard morning routine. Then I’m ready to settle in, and get down to the tacks of brass.
Currently I’m working from our dining room table, since our office has yet to be renovated. Gwen sits next to me, playing, and interrupts frequently until E arrives (three days a week). Thankfully today is a sitter day, so I have seven hours of kid-free time to focus.
The first thing I do after logging into Skype and IRC, our company’s primary communication channels, is check email. As Automatticians we’re supposed to be more progressive, but I’m old school–new posts from our internal blogs are filtered to my inbox, and I refer to these, check my to-do’s for the day, and comment on stuff that’s come in overnight. A bunch of my coworkers are in Europe, so often by the time I get online, they’re already taking lunch.
Next I check commits for my squad. One of the coolest parts about being a WordPress.com developer is that we’re constantly updating the code, fixing and improving things, and themes are no exception. We have a lot of them–well over 200, in fact. That’s a lot of code.
I’m currently overseeing five of my peers, but that sounds a lot more formal than it actually is when you’re working with a talented, self-directed group. They’re great like that. I act as a reference if needed, but mostly I try to stay out of the way and let them do what they do best, which is…
By “themes” I mean the WordPress-powered things that make your blog look cool. In less WordPress-centric terms, I review, develop, and design templates for websites.
Theme Wrangling entails several different things. Sometimes this means reviewing another theme’s code for security or visual aesthetics, or making a new theme from scratch, or writing a blog post announcing new releases. If I’m on support that week, it means fixing bugs and helping our support staff with theme-related problems as they come up. Today, it means going over several premium themes’ code. We work with outside sellers to offer a wider array of choices to our users, and all that code has to be combed through to ensure it’s safe and meets our standards.
We now interrupt your regularly scheduled post for coffee.
I also check in with the squad members each Friday to recap the week’s events, see what’s coming up, and just chat. This is one of my favorite parts, because again, see the part about my coworkers being great.
After that, I start work on a new free theme I’m converting, and by “converting” I mean I take a theme from the WordPress.org repository and polish it up, give it a thorough code and visual review, and make it work with our unique tools (like Custom Design). Eventually I’ll set up a demo site and write documentation, and when it’s ready, launch it with a post on the WordPress.com blog (affectionately known as “en.blog”).
At some point I may take a lunch break, although I’m guilty of working through it. Note, this is not a recommended practice, just a bad habit I’ve found hard to break. But I do take frequent breaks to let dogs in and out (and in and out and in and out and…) do laundry or dishes, or check in with the kids.
Around 3 p.m. Ellie gets home from school, and our sitter leaves at 4, so we try to pacify the kids with TV for an hour to finish off the day at 5. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s rarely my most productive hour, so I use it to wrap up–check on commits, email, or read work blogs.
After the kids go to bed, I’ll occasionally work for a bit, usually light duty stuff like reading and responding to notifications. I try not to do that too often, though. It’s easy for me to get too absorbed in a project, and setting clear boundaries between work time and free time is a constant challenge.
Is that everything? Not by a long shot. As with any job, random stuff draws me away from my to-do list, priorities get shuffled, and unexpected projects pop up. Thankfully most of the work is flexible, and I can always turn to my team for help. I like that it’s varied, and I’m rarely working on one project too long.
That’s my average day in a nutshell. Like the idea of working in your pajamas, making your own schedule, and building cool stuff? We’re always hiring!
Ellie: “Mama, I promise not to suffocate you.”
Winters are long, white, and cold up here in Northern Maine. I’m trying to look for the beauty rather than the ugly. Like how brilliant the stars are on a clear night, or how the world looks perfect with a fresh coat of snow. I just have to look past the fact that I’ll end up shoveling said snow eventually.
My folks have the right idea–they turned into snowbirds at the start of the new year and are traveling in warmer climes (you can even read about their adventures!) Our family has grown by two. Their dogs, Dillon and Coco, have temporarily adopted us. Atticus is happy to have regular playmates. He’s also thrilled to have mountains of snow to romp, dig, and roll in…the Husky is strong in that pup.
The kids spend a lot of time inside due to the weather, but we’re armed with Play-Doh, finger paints, baking, LEGOs, puzzle games, movies, and a ridiculous number of toys. They have an entire playroom to themselves, but you can guess how often they use it.
Ellie is making us proud with her reading skills, although now it’s harder to sneak stuff by her by spelling it out loud.
Gwen hangs out at home, and as a result, our family hasn’t been ill all winter. Usually by now I’d have had at least two stomach viruses and a cold, but so far (knock on wood) all I’ve come down with is a case of the sniffles that barely registered on my Radar of Sick. Even elementary school germs can’t compete with daycare germs. That alone has made this winter more tolerable than most.
I realized the other day that when Ellie was two and some months, I was already pregnant with Gwen. This is probably why I’m enjoying Gwen’s two-year-old-ness–life on the whole is more enjoyable when you’re not vomiting and/or exhausted! Who knew?
It occurs to me, as Gwen moves away from baby-dom and into full-fledged kid-dom, that we’re rapidly shedding the accoutrements of baby life. She gave up both her binky and diapers in January. Her crib has been retired to the basement. She’s talking more clearly and showing preferences, and her goofy, sweet-hearted personality is making itself known.
I admit, this is a transition I’m feeling great about. They were cute as babies, but now they’re cute and (more) independent! I’m getting the best of both worlds, with the occasional tantrum thrown in for good measure. I can handle that if it means I spend less time wiping other people’s butts.
As for me, I’m in the process of writing/editing my NaNoWriMo novel, and it’s taking for-ev-er because I keep finding ways to distract myself (like, say, writing this post). Meanwhile, I posted the first novel on its own site.
I’m also taking advantage of the indoor time to redesign all my sites that have fallen into a state of neglect over the last year, including this one. I’m using slightly modified versions of my recent theme designs, a process developers know as “dogfooding.” Dogfooding takes on a more literal meaning in this house.
I feel like I’m coming out of a rather uncomfortable phase that’s equal parts hormonal-sleep-deprived-mother-of-two-little-kids-craziness and late-twenty-something-problems and oh-my-god-we-moved-and-adopted-a-puppy-at-the-same-time-last-year-insanity.
In other words, things are finally starting to level out. So while the weather is still brutal and bitter cold, to the point where I have an actual physical craving for spring, I also feel pretty good about life right now. Maybe even great. Yeah, we’ll go with great.