Pink Shoes

Our son, Benjamin, is a little dynamo of a kid.  At three, his personality is oftentimes bigger than his body.  It’s delightful and frustrating and mesmerizing at once.  He’s a kid of varied interests: robots, planes, princesses, Star Wars, Jake & the Neverland Pirates, baby animals, jewelry, Legos, the colors blue and pink.  He likes to throw himself down, pretending to “die”.  He rough-houses with his father.  His current best imaginary friend is Princess Leia, who more often than not is symbolized by a Lego minfigure he constantly “dresses” with different torsos, feet and hair styles.  She always, however, has one of the two girl heads we have.*

We took Benjamin shoe shopping last month.  As his current pair of sneakers were being held together by the sheer force of his personality, it was time to upgrade.  Thanks to the generosity of others, we hadn’t needed to go shoe shopping for him before.  We hit the local Meijer and headed to the kids’ shoe section.  Upon arrival, Ben immediately pointed out the pink shoes.  He didn’t even look at the others: those were the ones he wanted.

Watching my golden-haired boy, I felt a twist of fear in my gut.  I thought of all the articles I had read over the years about boys being bullied for liking My Little Pony, or for having long hair, or for any number of other ways they might deviate from accepted gender norms.  He’s only three, not even in preschool yet, but I was already preparing myself for the unkindness the world could hurl at a person who is different.  I hated that fear.  We are trying to raise Ben to be free of gender norms, to be himself and to feel free to express himself without fear.  But I couldn’t stop the reluctance inside of me, even as I said, “Okay.”

Stephan agreed.  If his son—who is constantly mistaken for a girl—wants pink shoes, then pink shoes he’ll have.

We were getting ready to go check out, when another pair of shoes caught Ben’s attention.  They are blue and light up.  The first pair, no matter how pink and pretty, couldn’t compare to shoes that light up.  Ben changed his mind.  And I felt relief.  And I felt betrayed by my relief.

Raising Ben (and Charlotte) as we are is a constant learning—and unlearning—process, one we are committed to.  Should Ben want pink shoes the next time, it will be a little easier, I think.  Baby steps.  Or in this case toddler steps.


*That we only have two girl heads (three if you count the Lego McGonagall, which Ben doesn’t) and 3 billion + “boy” heads is pretty damn annoying.

Making it Work: The First Obstacle

Our plan is pretty solid: I sew like a despondent Disney princess.  Then, instead of hitting multiple small conventions throughout the year (as I did before) I only vend at one or two large conventions.  In theory this gives me time to make plenty of stock, and will let us walk out of a convention with a fat stack of cash.  There’s plenty of risk with this plan, though.  It means that our cash flow is severely low for months.  As we are living hand-to-mouth as it is, we don’t have any room for the unexpected.

Which, of course means the unexpected happened last week.  I was working in the workshop when my cutting table collapsed.  It was a slow motion sort of disintegration, like a building that had been dynamited.  I stood next to it torn between laughter and annoyance. Continue reading Making it Work: The First Obstacle

A Day in the Life – VikingDad

This site, this blog, was intended to display our creative outlet for those who are interested in what we do, those that are in similar situations, or just looking for information on those sometimes Herculean obstacles we overcome in our life’s journey.

What would that be without having some insight into who we are and what it is we deal with on a daily basis but words on a page?

To dispel that notion, let me share with you what an average day in the life of VikingDad looks like:

Midnight – I will have been asleep for about an hour or so at this point, so not much going on.  I am a light sleeper, so I wear earplugs.

4:30AM – Generally around this time, Enya, one of our elderly dogs generally wakes up at this time and tries to get us to feed her.  Now, this time is fluid.  It’s sometimes as early as 12:30AM, and rarely ever is it after this time.  Granted, on those days she gets us up before 4:30, it’s due to her ears (she sometimes has infections so they need to be cleaned regularly) and just letting her out and then sleeping with her on the couch until 4:30 does the trick.  The shield-maiden usually takes the bulk of this (thankfully for me) as the couch is just a bit too short for me to stretch out.  Alternatively, I get up and take Enya for a jog at this time, usually two to three times a week. For simplicity sake, let us say that this is not one of those days. So currently I have gone back to bed.

6:00AM – Benvolio wakes up.  This is also fluid. Sometimes it’s as early as 5:00, other times, it’s as late as 7:00, but this is the general time frame.  He then comes looking for me.  We get up and I relieve the shield-maiden from couch duty to let her go back to sleep in an actual bed.   I get moving, feed Trixie, the other elder dog, and then go about getting breakfast ready for both children.  Charlotte is often still asleep at this time (though there are the infrequent mornings she gets up at 4:30 or 5:00 to come out and get some alone time with Minecraft on the Xbox).  For simplicity sake, let us say that this is not one of those days.  I also, at this time, make sure that Charlotte’s lunch for school is packed.  We try to make sure she has at least one veggie and one fruit, doubling up on one or the other to accompany her sandwich.  I am also certain to have prepped the shield-maiden’s caffeine (Wild Strawberry Crystal Light Energy packet).

7:00AM – Breakfast.  Charlotte and Ben and I have breakfast to the sultry sound of Clone Wars on Netflix.   I make sure that they stay on task and not get too enraptured with the television.  I also make sure that Charlotte is ready for school.

8:00AM – Charlotte is off to school, Ben is being occupied and I am organizing my day (and doing some form of calisthenics), taking care of administrative tasks (either doing a rune draw, or filing requisite paperwork, answering email and doing research).

9:00AM – I have woken the shield-maiden up at this time and after making certain we have all eaten and are prepared for our day.  I’ve also usually started the laundry at this time.  Once all the requisites have gotten out of the way (and Ben has proudly proclaimed his successful use of the potty), we check our white board for our tasks for the day and start on them.  This is the start of where one or the other of us get the bulk of our physical work done (sewing craft for the shield-maiden and wood or chain craft for myself).

NOTE: We try to organize our weekly goals and daily tasks in order to achieve them on a whiteboard in our office.  It’s extremely handy.  The key to remember is to schedule the beginning heavy and the end light… and to be forgiving of yourself since things come up that limit what you can do in a day and if something needs to be pushed off until tomorrow, that’s OK.

12:30PM – By this time, one or the other of us have been on point with Benvolio so that the other can get work done, or he’s been able to entertain himself for a bit while we both collaborate on a task for a few minutes. I then go and prep lunch.  More often than not, it’s for the three of us, but occasionally there are scheduling things that mean it’s just for Ben and me. For simplicity sake, let us say that this is not one of those days.

1:00PM – LUNCH!!!! Not as exciting as I make it sound, but it usually takes forty-five minutes from start to finish for Ben to complete the entirety of his lunch.

2:00PM – QUIET TIME!!!!!!! OK, the theory of this is REALLY exciting for us parents.  Since Ben doesn’t nap any longer, he understands that this is his quiet time. Usually it means playing on his leapster, or getting to watch a movie or something, but that this is the time when (since one or the other of us have played with him for the better part of the morning) he entertains himself.  This is better in theory than in practice, however.  One or the other of us is working in the family room with him, so we’re in proximity while he does so.

4:00PM – RELEASE THE BENVOLIO!!!! Benvolio, who has been entertaining himself for the better part of this time is (usually quite literally) screaming for human interaction.  Charlotte is now home from school and she gets to work on her chores (emptying the dishwasher and her lunchbox) and then homework, after a short snack for her and Ben.  I then take point on Benvolio and the shield-maiden hits the workshop if she’s not there already.

5:00PM – Feed the hounds.

6:00PM – The shield-maiden then generally gets dinner started (NOTE: we’ve also got a whiteboard in the kitchen with dinner plans and grocery lists… yup, another whiteboard… sensing a theme?).  This time is also a bit fluid.  At this point, if Charlotte is done with her homework, she and Benvolio get some Xbox time together.  This gives me a bit of time to also catch up on email, social media posts, etc…

7:00PM – DINNER!!!!! We have a dinner together where we talk about our day.

7:30PM – Bath/Bedtime for the Benvolio.  I would normally put this in all caps, because really, it’s an exciting time, but I’m usually too exhausted by this point to be really excited about much.

8:00PM – Charlotte gets about half an hour or so of alone time on the Xbox.

9:00PM – PARENTAL FREE TIME!!!! I have regained a tad bit of energy and now am able to be excited about sitting down with the shield-maiden, having a glass of red wine and either working on collaborative projects or simply enjoying an episode of something on Netflix.

10:30PM – BEDTIME!!!! I try to be in bed at this time, but usually it’s more towards 11.

There you have it… a day in the life of VikingDad!

Doing the Math

I’ve been trying for a while to write this all out.  I’ve gone through several drafts.  The obstacle I keep running into is not knowing how to start.

So let’s start here: At one point I went through lengthy arbitration with The Bank That Shall Not Be Named.  I had to show P/L sheets, bank balances, invoices, etc. to prove my low-income status.  Looking over my year’s expenses and sales showed a net income in the low three figures.  The man who represented the bank was less than kind in his response.  “That’s all you make from sewing?  Why even bother?”*

Continue reading Doing the Math