Parenting, Family

Our Journey to Parenthood

We met in 2005 after Jonathan moved to Thomas' hometown of Vero Beach, Florida, for a real estate opportunity. Until 2012, we split most of our time between Florida and Vermont. We married in 2012, and just a few months later in 2013 at a friend's wedding, we finally decided it was time to start a family of our own. At the time, Thomas was in the Army and Jonathan, to this day, is the CTO for a software company, so it wasn't until we arrived at our first duty station in Baltimore, MD ( Fort Meade) that things started rolling. Our path to fatherhood wasn't an easy one. We suffered two failed adoptions. Our first daughter Emma was born only to live a few hours. It was devastating, and to this day, we still look back at that moment with such sadness. Our opportunity to adopt a second time fell through when the birth mother changed her mind two weeks before giving birth. We were crushed, but the decision was hers, and hers alone to make. Something we greatly respect. So it was with reluctance that we enrolled in the training program with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services to become foster parents with the hope of creating our family. It became clear, very early on, that we were the only same-sex couple taking this course and likely one of the few in their entire program.

A few months after starting our training, we received a call asking if we could take in a newborn. Forty-five minutes later, Grace came home for the first time. Five weeks later, just around 5:00 pm, Daddy, Papa, and Grace were sitting down to eat dinner. Little did we know our second daughter had just been born. It wasn't our intention to adopt twice, let alone two babies just 5-weeks apart, but later that night as we were all getting settled into bed, our phone rang. It was relatively late on a Friday night, but we immediately recognized the number. It was someone from the Baltimore City Dept of Social Services. On the other end of the phone was the deputy director with a straightforward question. "We have a newborn who is immediately available for adoption. Would you like to adopt her?" We both said YES before she was even able to finish speaking. Her next question was, "can you come to the hospital right now to meet your daughter?" It took us all but 15 minutes to get out of the house and on our way to meet her.

— Papa West

Family

Our Coming Out Story

Both of us were lucky to have a very supportive group of friends and family when it was time to come out. We were both in college and opened up to our closest friends first. For Jonathan (Daddy), it was a bit more complicated as he was in a three-year heterosexual relationship with one of his best friends. While it all worked out in the end for him, his large, tight-knit group of friends in his college a cappella group, encouraged him to love and respect who he was. That, in turn, gave him the courage to come out to his family.

It took me (Papa) a bit longer to come out to my friends and family. It has always been hard for me to make friends, let alone close relationships. So try imagining someone who has very few friends, has come to accept that he is gay but doesn't really have anyone to tell his story. Even though it was still difficult to say the words, "I'm gay," it became a freeing moment in my life. Unfortunately, it also became a time of excess and a loss of focus that almost forced me out of school. Too many nights were spent going out, and too little time studying resulted in abysmal grades. Florida State University is, after all, known as a party school, and I took full advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves.

Out of desperation and with very little money to my name, I made the difficult decision to move back home and finish the remaining classes I needed to graduate. Shortly after that, I met Jonathan for the first time. Meeting him has and will always be the best thing that ever happened to me. He helped me turns things around for the better and shift my focus so that I could get back on track and finally complete the classes I was missing to earn my degree.

My family, on the other hand, was extremely accepting. It may have been hard for me to tell them my truth, but they made it clear from day one that the only thing that mattered to them was my happiness. They even invited the boy I was dating at the time on a family vacation. He was able to meet everyone in my immediate family, something that meant the world to me at the time.

— Papa West

Family, Airstream, Parenting, Travel

Acceptance Through Visibility

The success we've both seen in our personal and professional lives wouldn't be possible without the hard work from those who came before us. From Alan Turing and Harvey Milk to James Baldwin, Silvia Rivera, Edie Windsor, and Laverne Cox we owe the present day to them. The hard fights won, the painful battles lost, and even the loss of lives has brought us to this point in history. Both of us feel a responsibility to do more and be more visible. We may not be fighting for equality in the legislative halls of Washington, DC, but we've made it our mission to share our lives openly and honestly. In many ways, it sounds silly to think that a simple photo or story shared on Facebook or Instagram can have an impact, not only for someone today but for a child yet to be born. We do know, however, that it has made a positive difference in the lives of those that follow us. We've received countless messages of encouragement and support from around the world. Women and men of all ages, from Iran to Brazil have reached out to thank us for showing them that a family of their own is possible and that it does get better.

As our family continues to grow, it has also given new purpose to our daily lives. The future our daughters will grow up to see is now our priority. Just years after we saw so much progress made towards equality in the United States, we now face a threat greater than many may have ever expected. Our world is becoming less safe, less equal, and much more dangerous. Simply put, that is not a world we want our daughters ever to see.

We hope to tell our story to all that will listen with the hope that families like ours will gain "Acceptance Through Visibility." Every moment we are visible as a family and every moment we share our story, we hope, will pave the way for future generations of the LGBTQ+ community, just like those did who came before us.

— Papa West

Parenting, Family, Airstream

Our Lives as LGBTQ+ Parents

When I was medically retired from the military in 2017, we made the decision to move back to our home State of Vermont. Living in a state that supports our family without objection made that an easy decision. Our lives as parents, however, has been much more difficult. It wasn't our intention to have more than one child, let alone two newborns a mere five-weeks apart in age. When we received the second call asking if we were willing to adopt our youngest daughter Charlotte, how could we have said no? In fact, it was one of the best decisions we've ever made.

It's true. When both of our girls came home for the first time, our lives changed overnight. Waking up at 3am to feed two newborns when you need to be at work by 6am is no joke. Simply put, it was rough. Not everyone might agree with us, but we say it was for the better. We now see the world through a different lens. One in which the future our daughters will grow up to view is now our priority. Their future families are now our priority. Everything we do is now based on that future.

In fact, we recently purchased an Airstream and are living out both of our dreams of traveling as a family. We are currently traveling full-time around North America showing our girls all that our country (and the world) has to offer. What better way to learn about something than seeing it in person? When it's time to learn more about the Hoover Dam, we'll drive to it. When it's time to learn about forests and the trees that live within them, we'll spend a month in Yosemite National Park. We hope to give them a different perspective of the world they live in. One in which anything and everything is possible.

We also plan to take our motto of "Acceptance Through Visibility" with us on this journey, having conversations with strangers, showing everyone that love is what makes a family. Our travels will take us to many of the U.S. military bases, National Parks, and baseball stadiums across the United States. Visibility and personal connections are how we change things, so hopefully, we're doing our part, especially as parents!

— Papa West

Family

How and When We Met

Jonathan and I met back in 2005 by chance when I made the decision to move back home before completing all of my courses and earning my degree. Don't worry, with Jonathan's help, I completed the three classes left and earned my BS in Political Science from Florida State University. Jonathan, on the other hand, breezed through college and received his BS in Music Education from the University of Vermont.

How, when, and where we earned our degrees wouldn't typically help describe how a couple met, but timing really is everything in this case. If I had finished my degree in the standard four years it usually takes, I likely would have been in a completely different location when Jonathan was given the opportunity to move to Florida. Would I have still been in Florida when he first moved down from Vermont? Maybe, but probably not.

The first time we found each other was online. A more than average way to meet someone nowadays, but this was in the early years of Facebook when you needed a college email address even to join the website. We chatted online for weeks leading up to his big move. Per his request, I also vaguely remember driving to what would be his new apartment, so he could see what the exterior looked like.

Our first in-person meeting was at his apartment shortly after he moved in. He invited me over to dinner. While I won't go into the details of that fantastic night, I can say that he knows how to cook and loves to talk about politics. Two of my favorite things by the way; food and politics. We've been together ever since. Traveling up and down the East Coast multiple times for jobs, buying and selling two homes, enlisting in the Army, starting a family, and now traveling the country with our two daughters Grace and Charlotte. The rest, as they say, is history, but I prefer to call it fate.

— Papa West

Family

Our Wedding

We didn't have a formal wedding. It just wasn't in the cards for us. We met in September of 2005, were engaged in 2009, and legally married in 2012. Why did we wait so long to get married? Well, there was this thing I really wanted to do. I wanted to enlist in the US Army. For obvious reasons, Jonathan was hesitant to agree to the idea. He would, after all, need to follow me wherever the Army sent us and sentiment surrounding the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was concerning.

After several weeks of badgering him, he agreed to support my decision to enlist. Within weeks I left for Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. The separation was a mere 90 days, but it felt like an eternity. No phones, no mail for the first few weeks. It was the first and longest time we've ever spent apart.

Upon completion of BCT, I went to language school at the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, CA. We were to spend at least two years in Monterey. This was when we decided it was time to get married. Naively, we assumed that finally getting married would recognize Jonathan as my legal spouse, thus granting us the benefits that come with being married in the military. We were, after all, able to legally marry in many states. We learned very quickly how unequal our rights were when I presented my marriage certificate from the State of Vermont to my command. They were unable to accept my marriage certificate as evidence of being married, they said. It was one of the lowest moments in my career as a soldier. We were legally married, yet treated as a single soldier forced to live in the barracks and pay for housing off-base at the same time.

Fortunately, a few months went by, and the US Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA was a United States Federal Law passed and signed into law by then-President Clinton. It defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes. This law was THE reason why the Army was unable to recognize my marriage.

Many people worked behind the scenes to repeal this law, but Edie Windsor worked harder than any of them. Do yourself a favor and learn more about her. Edie is the reason why marriage equality found its way to the United States. Edie is the reason why I was able to serve my country on the same equal ground as the soldiers I was already serving with. Edie was the reason.

I remember putting my uniform on the morning of June 26, 2013, anxiously awaiting to hear the court's decision before I had to walk out the door. Just minutes before it was time to go the breaking news alert flashed on the screen. “DOMA Struck Down by US Supreme Court — Marriage Equality in the United States!” We both cried tears of joy that morning because we knew a hard-fought battle had been won.

— Papa West

Family

It’s Time for Congress to Pass the “Every Child Deserves A Family Act”

For those of you who know us, we spent many years trying to build our family.  For those of you who don’t, we started our journey with private adoption and failed multiple times. Our first daughter passed just 45 minutes after birth.

Adopting a child is not only an emotional rollercoaster but an expensive one at that. Not many families can afford the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to hire an attorney or work with an adoption agency. And the last thing that qualified foster or adoptive parents should have to face is unfair and unjust discrimination. Yet in far too many places across the country, qualified LGBTQ parents are turned away simply because of who they are. That’s why it’s time for Congress to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.

By chance, we started working with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services’ Foster Care program and were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to adopt both of our daughters Grace and Charlotte after months of caring for them as a foster family.  While there is plenty to improve inside many of these systems, it comes down to a very straightforward question.  Do these children have a safe place to go in an emergency?

Recently the City of Baltimore was in the news because there were not enough beds to care for all the children in care.  There are simply not enough Foster Families in Baltimore to care for all of the children in need. And if the agency limited their foster pool based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, the situation would go from bad to worse. Simply put, Grace and Charlotte, the girls that have stolen our hearts from the moment they first came home, would not be with us today.

We took pride in becoming foster parents, and we would not have a family today if it weren’t for that opportunity. And while the cost for same-sex couples to start a family can be financially impossible, thankfully many Foster to Adopt programs help overcome that issue by facilitating low or no-cost adoptions.

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would prohibit any child welfare agency receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. It would ensure that qualified parents have the opportunity to build a family of their own. It would also prevent discrimination against LGBTQ foster youth. If Baltimore City had not already taken action to protect families like our own, our lives would not be complete, and our family would cease to exist.

There are hundreds of cities across this country just like Baltimore that are in dire need of Foster Parents. If you support our family and the tens of thousands of families just like ours, then NOW is the time to take action.  Far too many qualified parents are turned away simply because of who they are. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would do more than protect the LGBTQ+ community. It would create loving families across the United States!

— Daddy West

Travel

Atlanta's Beltline

As an environmentally conscious family, we are always drawn to innovative ways to make urban living more friendly. Since moving to Atlanta from mountainous Vermont, we were immediately drawn to a project which started as a master’s thesis and has become an economic and environmental victory for the City of Atlanta. The Beltline deemed, “the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States” will have 22 miles of pedestrian-friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails,  and 1300 acres of parks. Many of the elements of this project are already underway and a stunning success. The system tightly integrates 45 in-town neighborhoods utilizing transit-oriented development strategies (for anyone that has been to Atlanta, traffic sucks.)

When first looking for a place to live, we were immediately drawn to areas that were close to or on the Beltline (proof that the economic draw of the Beltline is real). Ability to access the trails is a hot commodity. Housing that is near the Beltline is highly sought after, to the point that if you hesitate, even just a little bit, it’s gone! Our favorite area is master-class ofurban renewal. Ponce City Market, is one of the most sought-after areas to live. What is very special about Ponce City Market is that it is a complete transformation of a vacant Sears Roebuck & Co distribution center. What once was empty floors, has become a multi-use development that has built a massive economic engine for a once depressed area of town. Massive lofts, dining, shopping, one of a kind stores and restaurants all abound in what has become one of the best places to spend an afternoon out and about. And did I mention there are carnival rides and games on the roof of the building? Ok, enough gushing over a super cool place to live, work and play. The most exciting part of this LEED certified project is its direct access to the Beltline. Walk up to the third floor and you’ll find the Beltline!

Hundreds of spots to park your bike, tools to tinker and fix that flat, and vendors catering to passers-by, holds just one example of the atmosphere popping up all along the Beltline.  The old station where merchandise was once loaded onto train cars is now a lounging area where you can watch thousands of people, pets, bikes, and scooters fly by.  On our first trip to the Beltline, we started at its furthest most completed section North of Midtown Atlanta.  First, what is impressive is that deep in the heart of a massive American city, is a serene trail of nature which made biking all the more comfortable.  Just like a subway in New York or Metro in DC, people utilizing this Beltline trail system are avoiding bumper to bumper stalled traffic, all while getting exercise, and taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of nature around them.  

Our Schwinn Cruisers were perfect for the gentle slopes, and paved trails.  Everyone on the trail exudes a state of relaxation.  Our family was able to enjoy our trip with our Schwinn Bike Trailer, a healthy snack from Whole Foods and a popsicle from King Of Pops.  After hours on the trail, our three-year-old girls are so hooked that they ask to go “bike ridin” every chance they get.  The system of trails is growing every year and expects to be done by 2030.  What is impressive is that neighboring cities, are working to connect their trails to the Atlanta Beltline to make a more extensive network of pedestrian and bike-friendly trails, linking even more to a healthier, more sustainable mode of transportation and recreation.

For more information about the Atlanta Beltline, visit https://beltline.org/about/the-atlanta-beltline-project/atlanta-beltline-overview/

— Daddy West

Family

Emma's Story - A Story of Love & Loss

It had only been a few weeks since we had finished all of the required training classes to become certified as a foster family by the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. At the time, we were still an Active Duty military family, so finding the time to commit to such an undertaking was tough. Even when it wasn't as easy as we had wanted, we found a way to get it done in just a couple of weeks. Those details matter, because only a few months prior we had lost our first child.

Daddy & Papa West in 2013 while stationed at the Presidio of Monterey in California.

This is where her story begins. It's difficult to remember the exact day we received the email from our attorney who had been guiding us through the adoption process. At the time I was a Cryptologic Russian Linguist in the US Army (meaning the Army trained me to speak, read and write in Russian) and I recall being more than 2/3rd's of the way finished with a language course funded by the Intelligence Community in the Washington, DC area. I was stationed at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland and lived just within the Baltimore City limits, so on top of studying the Russian language for eight-plus hours a day, I was bound to the reliably unreliable Amtrak schedule between Baltimore and DC.

Just a few weeks prior, we had matched with a birthmother in Texas. Not all of the details were clear just yet, and she still needed a sonogram, but we were told to get ready because we were having a girl. Her name would be Emma, so that's what hung above her crib.

It happened with an email. In an attempt to blunt the sharp and painful nature of what we were about to learn next, our attorney chose to use that email to explain Emma would not live more than a few minutes after taking her first breath. I remember feeling frantic and hopeless as I read those words and even more so as I sat on the train headed home to be with my husband. It was the first time in my life I can remember crying in public without a thought for what those around me might have been thinking.

Even though we never got the chance to meet her, hold her tight, or tell her how much she was loved, she’ll always be our first baby.
— Daddy & Papa West

Emma's story is incredibly painful even to this day. The door to her bedroom, the one where her name hung above what was supposed to be her crib, stayed closed for weeks. Regrettably, we were unable to attend her funeral and have yet to visit her in Texas. I know that we will someday. Not only is it essential for Grace and Charlotte to learn her story, but for all of us to get the chance to say goodbye in person.

In reality, Emma's story hasn't ended. She is the reason we were able to complete the foster care training and move forward with our dream of becoming parents. She made us stronger, more determined to become a family, and we do our best every day to remember the joy she brought us.

— Papa West


Parenting, Family

Her Lucky Coin, A Watch Battery

Not once had we ever imagined that a watch-sized battery could be so dangerous. One morning Charlotte told us she had just finished eating her snack. The comment was odd because we hadn't given her anything to eat since we had just recently finished breakfast, so we prodded further only to hear her say, "I swallowed my lucky coin." She then showed us a small toy calculator the girls had both been given to use as a "supercomputer" (@pbskids #superwhy). Not even a minute went by before we were speaking with someone at Poison Control. They explained that it was hazardous and could burn a hole through her esophagus (think feeding and breathing tubes) in as little as two hours and we should rush her to the nearest Emergency Department.

To make a long story short, we found out how fast and agile a Tesla Model 3 can be on our drive to the nearest hospital with someone able to help. We were in Southern Vermont at the time, so that meant driving to Albany, NY. Typically a 90 min drive, but "safely" done in 45 minutes that day. The 1st set of X-rays showed the battery in the worst possible place (lodged in her esophagus requiring surgery to remove), but fortunately, the 2nd set of X-rays confirmed that it had passed down into her intestines (now we hope that it passes in less than a week).

In a single moment, our life as a family almost changed for the worse.

In a single moment, our life as a family almost changed for the worse. I'm sure some statistics show how unlikely it is for the worst to happen in a situation like this, but as we rushed her to the hospital, that's all we could think of. This photo was not staged btw. It happened in Clarkston, GA, a small Southern town incredibly welcoming to refugees from around the world at a local coffee shop (@refuggeecoffee). The night before we had watched the season 2 finale of @queereye and were compelled to see the town for ourselves since it was only about a 30-minute drive from Atlanta. I just happened to have my phone out taking pictures when she leaned over and asked daddy for a kiss. I (papa) stay home with them during the day, so they tend to show me more affection. We were both a little surprised in the moment, but the combination of that photo, in that town and our day spent at the hospital left us wanting to be better parents. If you've made it this far down (thanks), please take a minute and get rid of or secure batteries your children have access to because it might just save their lives.

— Papa West


Airstream

We Bought an Airstream

It finally happened! We bought a 2019 27’ Flying Cloud Airstream and couldn’t be more excited to share our plans with all of you. Below is a quick video we made to announce the purchase and explain what our plans are. Let us know what you think in the comments! Are we crazy or is this a dream of yours too!?



Working Remotely

Stories of a Remote Work Dad: Change in Plans

Remember the time when that weekly all-hands-on-deck meeting got kicked out of the conference room because someone else decided they were more important? You and your ten other colleagues scramble to find a quiet spot in the break room until someone comes in and makes popcorn just as the group begins discussing something important.

Being agile in your work environment is no different, whether you are in an office or working remotely from home. A perfect example, is happening in real life to me, this week. After taking a long weekend to spend time with family in our Nation's Capital, we returned home to news of a death in our family. After talking it out, we decided that driving was the best option. Although lengthy, the cost of the last minute flight was simply too much.

I had planned on working from my desk at home or even walking over to the nearest Starbucks, where I know the corner is quiet, and the internet is reliable. Now I am subject to unknown conditions when I arrive at the hotel and particularly unsure of what my schedule will look like for the rest of the week. Will I need to take more time off from work or can I manage to be present, both in terms of family and work? As of late, I've become pretty good at expecting the unexpected and working through it. However, sometimes, I push the limit of what's acceptable.

Here are some things to remember when your work environment isn't what you planned:

Always have a backup - Don't leave yourself with merely one option. If you think you can have a call in a quiet location at an unfamiliar place but aren't sure when guests may arrive, make sure your car is also nearby, it works as a great last-minute spot to find quiet and get the job done.

Never rely on just wifi - In most cases for general computing needs, a generic internet connection will be just fine. But if you're working on a more vital task, say a presentation or a conference bridge, always have a mobile hotspot ready. If you have a modern smartphone, you already have this feature. 90% of the time, the internet connection from your phone will be 10-20x faster than some public wifi connections, especially in hotels or coffee shops. Plus, public wifi connections are known to be insecure and leaves your connect open to malicious actors.

Get a good headset - Noise canceling headphones are a great way to create your own private office no matter where you are. These types of headphones will help you focus and get the job done.

Don't be afraid to reschedule & always use a planner - If it's an informal meeting, don't hesitate to pick a time that's better for you. Most people would do this regardless of where they were working that day anyhow, especially if they were "swamped" with tasks to complete. My favorite planner was created by CNCPTS. It’s a weekly planner and notebook designed for business.

— Daddy West

Check them out here for yourself and use discount code DADDYANDPAPA for 15% off your order!

Bring your power - These days most airports, coffee shops and hotel lobbies have upped their game in an effort to make it easier to charge our devices. But sitting on the floor against the wall in an airport terminal is not that appealing. I always carry two charging options with me. The first is my Mophie USB-C 3XL. It can charge my MacBook and iPhone simultaneously. The other is conveniently located inside my Away Suitcase (click here for $20 off your first purchase). They have it tucked in just under the handle so I can charge my phone while waiting for my flight.

Give yourself time - If you are the type that needs at least five minutes to get settled before a meeting or a call when in an unknown working environment double the amount of time you need. Try doing a test call with a colleague to make sure everything is working properly ahead of time.

Finally, while I believe there is nothing wrong with working remotely, keep in mind many people still think that it's a terrible idea. Background noise to you may be nothing, but to someone on a call, it may be incredibly distracting. Use good judgment when taking your phone off mute, and remember to get in the habit of muting when not talking.

All of this might sound like a lot of extra work to make sure your workday is productive, but once you get the hang of it, and know your limits, you will find it freeing and more enjoyable than an awful commute to the office everyday.

Working Remotely

Stories of a Remote Work Dad: The Beginning

For years, I have spent most of my working adult life in some capacity as a remote work employee. My commutes have generally been pretty mild, although once in a while there is a hold up at the coffee pot. My journey started years ago when I took my first real office job. Working from home was just a "thing" most people thought was simply a way to "take advantage" of a situation. In the years since with the tech boom and race to get the smartest, and the brightest employees, companies have had to rethink their thoughts on where an employee is most comfortable working.

Working from home is NOT, and I repeat NOT for everyone.
— Daddy West

The average person when asked what they think about working from home, will likely think of pajamas, lounging around the house and not getting as much done as you would if you were in an office environment. What most people aren't aware of when given the option to work remotely is how much of an adjustment it takes to go from an office setting to working and being productive where ever you want. Plus, it just might not be the right fit for everyone.

On my first day working from home, I was excited. It was probably a bit of nervousness soaked in caffeine and freshly showered wet hair. It felt great for a few minutes until I needed to start working, but had a question. I went to stand up as if I were going to walk over to a colleague and suddenly remembered I wasn't in the office anymore! I would dig through my notes, try to ask Google for the right answer when all of a sudden the buzzing of the dryer would interrupt the solitude most people think of when working from home.

I then thought to myself, "can I fold laundry on this upcoming conference call?"

Week two went by in a flash as I slowly started to figure out what worked best in my new workspace. I began to realize that I was working a lot more than I expected, likely because of that insatiable need to check emails (on my work computer) while binge-watching the latest Netflix drama.

Week three arrived, and I began to feel like something was missing; something was not right. It's still difficult to describe just how that felt, but it's a feeling that soon thereafter subsided because in a flash I had finally found a rhythm and it seemed so natural.

That was my first three weeks. After ten years of working remotely, my employer suddenly changed, and it was time to go back into an office. At this point, I've become used to the mundane noises around the house, but even with tenure, getting back into an office environment would make any person feel like a rookie. I was no different.

Remembering that the weekly conference call is at the same time the garbage truck stops just outside my window and hitting mute on my phone finally became a habit.
— Daddy West

In the coming months, as we start our next journey as a family and I step away from the office again, I hope to share how I have been the most productive. My goal is to help you better understand what "working from home" really looks like: the good, the bad and the ugly.

— Daddy West