...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Everyone knows that I wouldn’t be the person I am or have the family and home I do without HH. He’s my support system and my partner in crime. I have the vision; he brings it to life. I think it’s high time HH had a voice on House*Tweaking, don’t you? HH has graciously agreed to field one ‘Ask Handy Hubby’ question a month. You can ask him about anything from DIY to what it’s like living with me. {Surprise! I’m not always easy to live with.}

The idea for ‘Ask HH’ actually came to me through a reader’s email. Shortly after Mabrey was born, I received this email from Jennifer:

Hi,

I read your blog and LOVE it. I know you hear that all the time. But it is actually true.

I have a question. Let me start with..CONGRATS on Mabrey. How exciting!! I have two boys and am expecting my little girl in September. With that, here is my question. One of your most recent posts was about the evolution of H*T and how you were a working mom and now are a SAHM. You said it would great to get paid to do what you love. With the Underdog you guys can make the change for you to stay at home and still be able to afford life and pay off the house quickly. OK, OK…*HERE* is the question: Does HH love his job? 

I know this is personal but I am asking simply because I want to be able to stay at home with my babies but don’t know if we can. I just wanted another opinion (albeit I don’t know you, it is nice to know you were in the same shoes). He works longer hours? He has sacrifices that are hard to deal with, no? How do you handle those? Does HH get home later now? 

My husband is being offered a job that has potential to help me become a SAHM but I am figuring out how to handle all the changes that will create.

Anywho…I was just wondering how you handle his being gone, coming home late, and anything else. And if HH loves his job and that helps HIM deal with those changes also.

Thanks for the inspiration!!

Jennifer

Since the question was about HH’s feelings towards his job, I felt it would make sense for HH to reply. Here is HH’s response:

Congratulations, Jennifer, on the new family addition! I can tell you from experience having a little girl CHANGES EVERYTHING! Not just because of the switch from 2 to 3, which is pretty crazy…but having Mabrey has changed our whole family dynamic. I feel like she’s balanced things out a bit. It’s not just transformers, fat lips and boogers. Now there are little flowery socks, wide-eyed open-mouth smiles, and even more boogers. It’s all great. I’m very happy for you and your family.

Now, to answer your question…

“Does HH love his job?”

Love is a strong word. A really strong word. I love Dana. I love my boys. I love Mabrey. Do I “love” my job? Probably not.

Do I enjoy my job most of the time? Absolutely. I work with some terrific people. We have fun. We encourage and help each other. We commiserate together. We’ve even formed a workout group that high-jacked a section of our building for lunch time crossfit! As Dana mentioned, I took a new role last year as well. It involves more responsibility but also a new level of satisfaction. And I get to help develop some really cool products. These are the reasons I enjoy my job.

I’m not going to lie. The transition so far has not been an easy one. In the beginning, I was completely overwhelmed and felt in over my head. I got stressed out. My amount of travel has increased dramatically over a short period of time. I do work much longer hours and tend to get home late now. Those are the parts of the job that can be trying.

As far as sacrifices go though, mine pale in comparison to Dana’s. I need only watch the kids for a few hours to remind me how difficult a job being a SAHM is.  

I’m going to give you a little background on my career path now. Not because I like inflicting pain on H*T readers but because I think it will help illustrate a few things. I chose to study engineering for very practical reasons – much like what led Dana to pharmacy. I was pretty good at math. I enjoyed figuring out how things worked and liked the feel of a TI-85 in my hands (nerd joke), yada yada yada. I worked hard, got hired on with a great company and proceeded to settle into a comfortable path. I want to emphasize the word “comfortable.” This path would have been just fine and I would have most likely stayed right on it if it hadn’t been for Dana.  

We were living in Illinois and had been for 6 years.  Layne was 3. Everett was on the way and we had been away from family for a very long time. We decided that if we were ever going to move back closer to family that it had better be now…and Dana helped me make that decision.  You see, I’m pretty conservative in a lot of regards. I take WEEKS to buy a pair of shoes. Dana, on the other hand, is the risk taker. Not like a running-with-scissors kind of risk taker but a live-without-regrets kind of risk taker. So we decided to leave a city and house we loved and two great careers to move to Ohio. In what seemed like a matter of a week, we bought a house in Ohio and I accepted another job. In the process I took a sizeable pay cut, forfeited all my vacation, slashed by benefits, and lost any chance of relocation help. But we both believed that this move was what was most important for our family, so no biggie. Well, I mustered up the courage to tell my boss at the time I was leaving.  I didn’t want to leave but some things are more important. Two days later I was being offered a job at one of my company’s joint ventures located 45 minutes from our new house. In a 48-hr period, I was now getting a promotion, keeping my benefits and seniority, getting full relocation, AND working in a new industry that I knew nothing about but learned to enjoy WAY more than what I’d done in the past. High fives and chest bumps all around! Talk about being humbled.

Fast forward 5 years to the present. We now have THREE!!! kids. Dana’s staying at home and following her passion. I have a new position.  We’re both enjoying “tweaking” the underdog.  Wow.

What’s the moral of this story, you might wonder?

My…our experience has been that when we focus on what’s best for our family’s future, those decisions have turned out well. That’s not to say they were easy. Most were downright terrifying (see “selling really nice big house, buying small crappy house”). Dana and I have spent many long nights discussing these big family decisions. We ran numbers (I ran numbers). We weighed pros and cons. We got REAL honest with each other. We argued. All of that. But in the end we made a collaborative decision with the best intentions and then we were “all-in”.

So there you have it. A really long, somewhat philosophical answer to a relatively simple question. I hope that was helpful. I’m exhausted. I’m sure you are to.

Good luck,

HH

Do you have a question for HH? HH has asked for his emails to be sent to my inbox and I’ll forward them onto him. Contact me at danarmiller {at} hotmail {dot} com. Due to time constraints, HH won’t be able to reply to every question but hopefully he’ll hit up the most common inquiries.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

43 Comments

10.October.2012

Loved this! You guys are one cute family. Plus, I really enjoyed hearing a man’s perspective on stay-at-home life and career. It sounds like you’ve really been led to the life you’re living.

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10.October.2012

ugh, man holding a baby… gets me ever time.

i don’t think i’ve ever commented, so i just want to say that i love your style and blog – and adore that you downsized to create the home and life that made sense for your family. my boyfriend and i are doing our version of that soon – moving to a smaller, more affordable apartment to save up for the future we want (and still allows us to spend $ on giving it some love).

i guess all in all, i wanted to let you know that there are unmarried 20-somethings out there who enjoy your blog as well!

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10.October.2012

Wow….he sounds like a great guy! Good to get the husband’s perspective – thanks HH! Dana, I’m loving the fact that you are updating more often, even after your post a couple of weeks ago about feeling pressure about it. No worries if you go back to scattered posts here and there. I personally loved it, as it made it even sweeter when I realized you had posted something new versus expecting something every day of the week. It was kinda like finding money in a jacket you haven’t worn in a while!

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11.October.2012

What a fun idea. I always love getting to know the man (and family) behind the blogger. Nice to meet you HH :)

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11.October.2012

So fun! thanks HH! you didn’t bore us to death, we’re women, we love words, the more the better. happy you are both getting to do what you love :)

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11.October.2012

TI-85! Love it.

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11.October.2012

XO to you Dana and HH!! Happy to see you both happy!

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11.October.2012

Love this idea!! He is funny :)

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This was great! Currently going through some transitions of our own after having our son a few weeks after Mabrey. The work-life balance is a never ending challenge for both of us. My solution is to just win the lottery, maybe I should actually start buying tickets…

HH makes a good blogger! Have I missed his real name around here? Or is that highly confidential? :)

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replied on October 11th, 2012

HH’s real name is Steve. Yep, Steve Miller. As in the band. He gets that a lot ;)

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11.October.2012

Thanks for sharing! We are about a year and a half into a similar transition and I can relate to the challenges you and Dana are facing. I don’t think I’ll ever fully adjust to the longer hours but my hubby comes home in a good almost every day now, which is a marked change from his previous position. That alone is worth so much to me. He is also an engineer but was promoted to site manager which comes with a huge amount of extra responsibility but he is clearly fulfilled in his work. There is always a price to be paid and we just have to figure out if it’s worth it. Love what you’ve done with the underdog, by the way!

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replied on October 11th, 2012

Oops…he comes home in a good MOOD most days!

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11.October.2012

Great post! We too are undergoing “transition” as well. My husband is a teacher and I am a dietitian. We have two children a boy 3 and girl 2 and had a miscarriage this year -which has really affected our our brains if we should have third on purpose (i will be 35 in 2 months so i am a little apprehensive). After a long hard look my husband just isn’t happy with the career choice. So he decided 2 years ago to take some classes to switch to a PT or OT, long story short he said if I am doing all of this I may as well apply to medical school. So here we are! MCAT in January, which he is studying nearly every night for, and shadowing physicians in the area all while working as a full time teacher. We have a little mantra we go by in the house regarding how we make our choices, which is “the right choice is seldom the easy choice”. So now if I make a decision I often look to see if it’s the “right choice” vs “easy choice”. Sometimes the right is easy but more often than not it isn’t. If everything were the right choice than everyone would be doing it right the first time all the time. Keep truckin’!

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11.October.2012

I love this new feature!

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11.October.2012

I don’t know why exactly, but this post had be smiling and tearing up at the same time! My husband and I have the same conversations on a regular basis. Many people would assume that we have the perfect life, but for me something is just missing. I think it is my work, but also feel that a move might be in store for my family. I am ready to take a risk and make some changes, but my more practical husband will take some convincing…it’s nice to know we’re not alone…thanks so much for sharing!

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11.October.2012

Thank you for posting this! I can’t say I’m going through the same thing right now, but I have a feeling I will be in the future. My boyfriend and I live in Chicago and talk about moving to Portland to be closer to family (especially when we start having babies!). He is doing so well in his career these days it seems like the “move date” is getting pushed back further and further, so it’s great to hear from a man who has made the change and doesn’t regret putting family first, and even more wonderful to hear that things are working out. I think I’m going to have to read this post to Andrew tonight :)

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11.October.2012

I like Handy Hubby. :) He seems like a great guy and a great husband. I love hearing stories of how things work out in the end and I’m happy everything seems to be going well for you guys. You’ve definitely inspired me and my husband to consider buying a small fixer upper and pay a low mortgage so we can live the life we want. Thanks for documenting it all in your blog!

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11.October.2012

Dana I think this is a great addition to your blog. I loved how supportive he is to your needs. A keeper for sure. He definitely has a way with words.

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11.October.2012

I loved HH’s insight! It definitely helps to round out the family dynamic! :)
Thanks for sharing!!

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11.October.2012

What field of engineering is HH in? I’m in structural!

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replied on October 11th, 2012

I’m a mechanical engineer by degree.

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replied on October 11th, 2012

I’m curious too! I’m in my last year of college for chemical engineering.

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This was a wonderful post! I love hearing the voice behind HH!! So happy this will be a monthly occurrence. :)

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sending this to my husband right now. great post! :)

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11.October.2012

I can see why you guys make such a great team, you’re each pretty awesome.

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11.October.2012

off topic, but still kinda personal… Has anyone ever told you that you look like Tori (sp?) from the Mythbusters. cuz ya do. If you are in fact him….. I love you. not creepy, just dork love.

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11.October.2012

HI Dana and HH,

Thank you so much for this post! As other readers have stated, this is right on time for me and my family. We are living hundreds of miles away from family and friends and have been seriously trying to decide if we should move back home. HH eloquently summed up how we must do what is best for our families and not live in fear of the unknown. I sent this post to my husband as well. Its always nice to hear about other people’s experiences when you’re making hard decisions of your own. I look forward to reading more.

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11.October.2012

Okay, I feel like I just sat down and had a conversation with my husband! Maybe all engineers have the same quirks – calculator jokes, precise decision making, etc. Too funny. I love that HH now has a voice on the blog!

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11.October.2012

We are watching mythbusters at the mi ute and I was thinking the same thing
;-)

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11.October.2012

Love this post Dana!! and thanks for giving such a thorough and thoughtful answer re: your perspective on your wife becoming a SAHM, work, moving, and the big decision to downsize, etc. (with a 3rd baby) HH!

I think the readers of H*T are drawn this blog (IMHO) because in addition to the beautiful home design stuff, it’s written beautifully…honest and real, without too much fluff. love it!

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replied on October 11th, 2012

Exactly. Decor, budget realities, decisions large and small and how they’re made–how one young family manages the juggling of kids, home, jobs (with sponsors, blogging is a job), surprises (e.g., flooding and warped floors, unexpected pregnancy in the midst of chaos and change), and *life* in general. Oh yes, and all that with attractive photos and posts written with intelligence and humor. H*T feels like an invitation into a neighbor’s house for a bit of friendly chat and a (healthy!) snack, with no discomfort from TMI and no guilt over calories!

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11.October.2012

Wow. My hubby (also handy) and I are also looking into buying an under dog. This new house will be a more than 1000 square feet smaller than our current home and a total wreck. We’re doing it because it sure does look like freedom. We asked ourselves, what would we do if we had no debt? Wow! The picture we painted for ourselves looked really good. I love following along on your adventure and really hope to be starting one of our own very soon. Cheers!
Robin

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11.October.2012

Girl – you are one darn lucky woman, that is all I can say!

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replied on October 11th, 2012

I am. I really am.

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11.October.2012

I really enjoyed reading that – nice to hear the HH’s perspective. I look forward to seeing more. Maybe I could persuade my Mr to join in and do a post too. You might just have started something|!

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11.October.2012

Hmmm, I see a ladder in the background. You holding out on us, Dana?

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replied on October 11th, 2012

Oh, that’s an older picture from before we moved in. Mabrey wasn’t even two months old then. She’s six months old now. I’m not holding out on you!

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12.October.2012

My questions – how do you balance it all? Are you planners? Do you set milestones? How do you come home from job #1 and move immediately onto job #2? Is it all worth it when you see what you’ve accomplished?

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13.October.2012

We all know how Dana feels about the surround sound speakers you insisted on installing. Are there any design decisions she’s made that you wish she wouldn’t have?

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15.October.2012

Hi HH and Dana,

I so enjoy reading about your lives. I am a grandma to a beautiful granddaughter, 9 months old. My daughter completed university, but decided that being home with her children is what will be best. I was a SAHM, and never regreted a minute of it. I was 3 quarters shy of completing my degree, then off to law school, and found out I was expecting. The minute they placed my daughter in my arms I never looked back. Nothing in this world matters more than our children. We live in a nice home with nice furnishings, and drive nice cars, but don’t have all the stuff our neighbors and friends do. We planned for the future financial in case something happened to dad, and focussed on our 3 girls. Two have graduated university, and one more will graduate in a semester. They all plan on being SAHMs. At the end of my life, I didn’t want to look back and see that things mattered more than teaching, nurturing, and giving my time to my family. I believe if there is a will there is a way. I was judged and criticized for my decision, but I knew it was right and was honored to be a SAHM. The years went by so fast, that I am now “retired” from my career, and work outside of the home, it feels like a vacation, because I did the hardest, yet most rewarding job in the world. You two are awsome! I am so impressed with your level of maturity for being such young people. Our world is a better place because of you, and those precious children are blessed beyound measure. Keep up the good work!

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15.October.2012

Lovely. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed the question and the answer.

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15.October.2012

You need to start calling yourself a WAHM (work at home mom), Dana. Even HH says staying at home = super crazy work.

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16.October.2012

Will you come and be my handyman until my husband comes home! He is deployed to Afganistan and all home projects are on hold and patience is not a virtue of mine!! LOL

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