Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Work Situation

Believe it or not, we're coming up on one year back in the USA quite quickly. We've settled into a rhythm of life that's different from Luxembourg, but also very different from when we left Portland in the first place. There are two main reasons for that: 1) the kids are older, and 2) our work is very different.

Before we left for Europe, Daphne was in "half-day" kindergarten (really, only a couple of hours a day) and James was in preschool two days a week for a couple hours. Pete was a traveling consultant for an international firm, meaning he was away 80% of the time. Both of these factors meant that "Stay-at-Home Mom" was still very much my main job title, although I worked part-time and volunteered a lot. This time we're living in Portland, however, both kids are in school 6+ hours per weekday.

So what do we do for work now? Let's start with Pete. As I've mentioned before, we moved straight back into our old house in Oregon. (Sorry, renters!) We made this move instead of transferring to Seattle with the corporate job he'd had in Luxembourg, per our original plan. The plan shifted last minute because Pete felt ready to start his own business. Living back in our paid-for house in Portland made it possible to take the financial risk. The end goal of moving to Seattle was to eventually move back to Oregon anyway, so we were able to streamline that processes.

In fact, Pete has started two businesses. The first is a sole-proprietor consulting business, in which he builds custom data analysis tools for various companies through connections who are familiar with his past work. Since his last job was overseas, and his connections are spread across the globe, he still travels a fair amount (not nearly as much as with his old consulting job, however). The consulting gigs pay our bills right now as he simultaneously works on the other business: developing a software platform that does custom analysis. For this project, he has a business partner who's helping him on the user-interface end.

And that's about as detailed as I'm gonna get on the technical side of Pete's work! Feel free to ask him about it, though. He needs plenty of opportunities to work on his sales pitch!

Except for before we had kids and both worked full-time, Pete has always been the main income earner of the family. So, the major change in our life in moving home was going from a regular corporate job to self-employment. Over the past year, we've thrown ourselves into the world of irregular income, irregular schedules, lack of traditional "job security," buying our own health insurance, and giant tax bills that include an extra self-employment cut.

If that all sounds a bit rough, I will tell you that this new setup has also given us way more freedom and autonomy than we ever had when Pete worked a traditional 8-to-5 job. He's also able to complete many projects remotely, so even though he still travels, we also get to have him home during the day most of the time. As a whole, our family spends WAY more time together--which is great!

Now, over to me. When we first decided Pete would quit his corporate job and go it on his own, we planned for me to look for full time work with medical benefits. Although I'd made some decent headway on securing a full-time job in Portland, Pete's consulting work was picking up steam straight away upon our return. It soon became clear that he'd be traveling a lot for his first few projects, and that a telecommuting position would be ideal for me, so I could be parent-on-duty while he was away.

We also decided that part-time work would probably be okay--that we could afford to buy our own health insurance, and that I should be prepared to chip in admin work on the new "family business" where needed. As fortune would have it, my sister-in-law is the editor of a website that was looking for a writer. The position had flexible hours, and only required a laptop and internet connection. I took the writing sample test the week we arrived back Portland, and they hired me!

So now I write reviews of "merchant account providers" for small business owners at a website called Merchant Maverick. I'm not even going to bother explaining what that is, because honestly, it's not all that exciting. However, I wouldn't describe the work itself as boring. It involves a lot of detailed research, which I do enjoy. I get to put my teaching cap on as I wade through tons of information and try to present it in an understandable way. The best part of the work, though, is that the tone of the website is very casual. We're encouraged to use our own voice and add humor. The fun and challenging part of the job for me is taking a topic that is normally quite dry, and turning it into a somewhat engaging read.

Writing sample

So, now you know part of the reason I don't post over at the family blog very much anymore. Writing somewhere else is my job! Great excuse, eh? Meanwhile, Pete and I are enjoying working side-by-side at coffee shops and libraries most days. That's livin' the digital nomad dream, right there. We're practically Millennials!

Anyway, that's a quick snapshot of our work situation right now. At this stage of our lives, we don't make detailed future plans, so things may change quickly and dramatically at any time. But now you know--for now!