When people tell me they want to stay home with their kids and they can’t afford it, I want to yell at them about how when I was trying to write freelance and take care of the kids I had a babysitter refuse to come to the house because we had no food in the house. We had no food in the house because we had no money. I bought food on a day-to-day basis. That was me, affording to stay home with my kids and not work.

I must also admit that I ended up in a mental ward. Maybe from postpartum depression, but probably from the stress of being the sole breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom.

I am having flashbacks. Because I’m homeschooling nowboth boys. I never really believed I’d do this. When I launched my homeschooling blog I actually thought I was just exploring a trend. I thought I’d just write a little about how it’s clear to me that there is about to be a homeschooling revolution.

But that’s not what happened. Read more

It’s hard to confess to you that I’m happy on the farm. The Farmer and I are getting along well, and all that research about how if parents are in a happy marriage the kids are happier — well, that seems to be true for us.

So I spend my days writing career advice and reading about goats and figuring out how to make enough unleavened desserts to keep the Farmer from hating Passover. When I need a break from thinking, I plant my vegetables in perfectly straight rows and hope for no more snow.

The thing is, though, that it is not my nature to be sunny and bright.

Now there’s a study to support my instincts toward stress and anxiety. According to Leslie Martin, author of the new book, The Longevity Project, stress and anxiety that arise from working hard at something that is engaging and exciting to you is actually a more healthy way to live than in a regular state of cheerfulness. Read more

I just got waxed. Everything off. Here’s a picture of Stephanie in action:

getting a brazillian

I love Stephanie because she is fun to talk to if I feel like talking and she leaves me alone if I feel like sending emails on my iPhone while she waxes. Or taking pictures.

I love the feeling of being neat and tidy after waxing. Because I feel like if my body is neat and tidy then my life is neat and tidy. Which is, of course, not true. I’m not sure anyone’s life is neat and tidy. But I like the idea that I can buy the illusion that I have things pulled together.

The problem is that waxing is expensive, and it’s a recurring expense. And I’m working on keeping my expenses very low so that I can start another company. Because a startup is really difficult to keep funded, and if you are supporting a family on a startup salary, it’s very scary.

But I keep feeling I’ve already cut as much as spending as I can. Does everyone feel that way?

But look, I moved from NYC to a farm. There are no stores here so I have to go to eBay at 2am for something to qualify as an impulse buy. There are no avenues for splurging on spoiled children beyond buying an extra dog or donkey. But still I find avenues to extravagances that I hate giving up. Read more

I was talking with Leo Babauta a few weeks ago. The topic of the conversation was his new book, focus. But of course I am not good at focus. So here is a picture of a book I just bought that is not Leo’s book, but I really like it: The Selby is in Your Place. It’s full of photos of people who turned their apartments into art. Totally eccentric, often over-furnished, but always totally interesting.

I would not have bought the book if it didn’t match my house so well. More on that later.

I told Leo I thought it was BS that he is Mr. Minimalism and he moved to San Francisco. I told him that the biggest cultural shift for me from New York City to the farm is the surprise shift to extreme minimalism. So I am sure that his move to San Francisco means he is tossing in the minimalism towel. Read more

Whatever you earn at age 40 is likely to be the top of your earning potential. This is one of a gazillion things I've learned from talking with Al Lee, the director of quantitative analysis at PayScale.

Al’s data, which is based on the careers of college graduates, is basically that the salary curve for most people in their 20s is very steep. Then it starts to flatten in the 30s, and then you get into the land of the 3% raise. In real dollars, those 3% raises are not actually raises, they are just keeping up with inflation.

The information is grim. But here are some things you can do with it:

1. Go where the men are. To be precise, pay tops out at age 38 for women ($61K) and age 45 for men ($95K). But the difference, according to PayScale data, is not due to unequal pay for equal work. Rather, the difference is that women choose lower paying careers, and women are more likely to take time out of the workforce for kids. So the first thing you can do to prevent your salary from flat-lining is choose a career that men dominate. But it's not just about industry—it is also about influence. Stick to line-management positions rather than support roles. For example, skip human resources and go to supply chain management. Read more

Now that I live on a farm, which, by the way, has been inescapable for three days because of snow, I keep up with the world by watching trending topics on Twitter.

Right now, a trending topic is “Volkswagen commercial” which is about their new Super Bowl commercial. Volkswagen has conveniently released the commercial early so we don't have to spend this Sunday watching men giving each other concussions to see it.

Here's the commercial:

This makes me happy to be part of Generation X. First of all, this is the small window of time when Generation X will have the largest buying power in the consumer market. We are at our highest earning power, which, admittedly, is not impressive, but earnings are all relative, and people are discriminating against the Baby Boomers because of their age, so it's our heyday.

It's also our heyday because Gen X values are front and center. And we're about family. We don't earn as much as Baby Boomers did because we work such fewer hours. We've downsized our careers to take care of our kids. We've taken back the dignity of working part-time. We've deconstructed stay-at-home parenting as a respectful career alternative. Read more

We took a trip to NYC because I was worried that we are were not being exposed to enough visually stimulating inputs. I want the kids to see new things, do new things, and I wanted to see the Barney’s Christmas windows. The theme was foodies. I was stressed that I was not up on Food Network enough to get the high-brow insider references. Still, the windows were gorgeous.

I was talking with Leo Babauta about minimalism. Well, actually, we were talking about his new book, and his minimalist process of promoting it, which I will now contribute to with this link. Read more

I have earned a lot of money in my life. But I have never had an extravagant life. I don't own a house. I've never bought a new car. I've never bought a new piece of living room furniture, and I do not own a single piece of real jewelry. What I have spent money on was always intended to help me with my career. That was so I know that I can always earn money doing something I love.

I leased a BMW when it was clear that that mattered when it came to making deals in LA. I hired a stylist when I realized my clothes were holding me back in NYC. In Madison I have tons of household help so my kids don't have a crazy schedule because of my work schedule.

I am convinced that frugality is a key quality for a successful career. Here is why frugality helps your career:

1. Spending money is generally a distraction.
We know this. That people use it as therapy. People use it to fill holes they perceive in their lives. But the psychic energy it takes to spend money actually distracts us from what matters to us. Pay Pal reports that people wish their significant other would spend less money on Valentine's Day. This encapsulates the whole problem to me. Read more

I think its safe to say that for the majority of people, Thanksgiving is not about goodness and gratitude, but rather, family drama.

Until now, I have been pretty much on the outside of this American tradition: The tradition of building up Thanksgiving to be a great family moment and then the family not living up to it. But everyone still does Thanksgiving basically because they love their parents. I'm not gonna say here that I don't love my parents. But it's a special kind of love that does not involve being with them for holidays.

But this year is a big switch for me, because I'm doing Thanksgiving family drama—with the farmer. There is family drama because the farmer has three sisters who think I have a morality problem. Like I don't have morals.

In fact, the whole family thinks this, and those with Internet connections print out blog posts about sex acts and send them, via US mail, to less connected family members. The outcry crosses state boundaries from Wisconsin to Illinois, and sometimes, I think they are googling terms like Penelope Trunk and sex. I mean, it's not easy to find the stuff they are finding.

Wait. You are wondering, right? What they're finding? Here. Here's a list of some links. And, now no one has to do any morally-compromising searches. It's all right here: Read more

I don’t usually write question and answer columns. (Although I have once or twice before.) I do read every single question that people send me. And these are three questions I’ve been answering a lot lately.

Q: Why do you pay $50,000 a year for a house manager?

A: The short answer is that I am buying a stay-at-home wife. Most people, who are at a similar spot in their career and have young kids at home, have a stay-at-home wife. (This is, of course, because I have the type of career that is dominated by men, and women without kids.)

I know you are thinking that most stay-at-home wives are taking care of kids. But almost all kids are in school most of the day. But the women are still busy. They are doing the infinite number of things required to run a household. Here is a sampling of things that I am sure that none of the startup CEOs I met with last week thought about for one second:

–What should we get my niece for her birthday?
–Who is the best teacher to request for third grade?
–Should the kids have private swimming lessons or is group okay?
–What’s the best way to train the dog not to pee on the sofa?

Those questions actually require thinking and planning, and they are constant. Running a house is like running a business, and very few people can do both well. Read more