I have never been a fan of vacations. Why would I need a vacation from my life if I like my life?

Also, I’m a fanatic about routine. After years of obsessive research about what makes people happy, I have determined that self-discipline is the key to happiness. And self-discipline is really difficult, but not in the context of routine. So I love routine and I hate vacations because they disrupt routine.

So I was surprised when the Hampton Inn offered me free nights in any hotel if I would write about it. After all, it’s not just that I don’t like vacations. Also, I’m the person who wrote about why I think travel is a waste of time, and one of the most popular posts on this blog about vacations is why it’s okay to work during vacation.

But now that I am basically raising farm boys, I am careful to take them to the city so they know what it’s like. Digression: I have heard that one of the biggest problems the Ivy League has with attracting kids from rural America is the rural kids with high enough test scores simply can’t handle living in a city – yes, New Haven counts as a city to a farm kid. So while you are sending your kids to SAT tutors to get your kids into college, I’ll be sending my kids to ride NYC subways.

So, back to the hotel. I used the free offer this week to stay in the Skokie, IL Hampton Inn while I was at Suzuki cello camp with my son. That’s right. This is my idea of vacation for my kid. He’s only six years old, so he doesn’t know other kids are going to Disney World.

We do five hours of cello lessons during the day, and then we come back to our hotel. And I have to say, he totally loves the hotel.


The whole day is very structured for my son. So when we come back, I let him do whatever he wants until bed time. Read more

Father’s Day is a big deal in our house because we have two dads. We have the boys’ biological dad – my Ex – and we have the Farmer. On Sundays, including Father’s Day, we all spend the day together, on the farm, in mostly harmony.

It is not perfect. A few weeks ago, my Ex left early because I’m so annoying to him. And just this morning, the Farmer and I had a fight that scared the kids so much they cried. But I think we are doing okay. And on Father’s Day I feel particularly grateful for both men, because they work really hard to make sure the kids feel like they have an integrated, stable family.

The New York Times says that women go into politics to change something, and men go into politics to be someone. I think this is true for all work, not just politics. I think women are more likely to feel important because they are home with kids, which is why more women than men leave the workforce to be with kids.

Men are changing how they parent, but not too much, because there’s still this survey from ERE that shows men prefer work to being home with kids. I do not believe we can change things completely. We are who we are. Men and women are different. The more I write about these differences in the workplace, the more I appreciate the differences at home.

We all know that if a mom is at the playground with three kids, no one notices, but if a dad is there, people say, “He’s such a great dad.” Read more

The farmer tells me that farmers are going to the Capitol to protest on Saturday.

I tell him I think it's stupid. It's not like Walker broke a law. People who voted for him should think twice about right-wing fascists next time they go to the polls.

The farmer says fine. He wants to go and he wants to take the kids.

I want to be supportive. I say, “The kids will go nuts there with so many people. I'll go with you to help with the kids.”

He says, “Actually, I am okay handling the kids in crowds. The person who is most likely to go nuts in a crowd is you. So it’d be better if you stayed home anyway.”

I say, “Ok. Thanks.” And I say, “I don't want to start a fight. I just want to understand. Why are you going now? It's over. Walker won.” 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

This is a guest post from Cathy Reisenwitz, who blogs at Birmingham SEO Blog.

Time magazine reports that young, childless women are earning more than men. You’d be hard-pressed to find evidence of widespread discrimination against childless women in the workplace. But equally solid data confirms working mothers’ suspicions that working moms do in fact get paid less than childless women. Here’s another article on it from BusinessWeek.

Before you get up in arms about gap in pay between childless women and mothers, consider that maybe gap is fair.

Maybe moms get paid less because they work less. The majority of mothers work part time. Fully two-thirds of mothers work less than 40 hours per week, and most mothers prefer part-time over full-time. Employers pay part time workers less, whether parents or not, and offer fewer benefits because part-time workers aren’t as cost-effective for companies to employ as full-time workers. Childless women are also significantly more likely to work overtime. The vast majority of mothers, 92 percent, work less than 50 hours a week.

Read more

When I first met the farmer, I knew he was not a normal farmer because normal farmers don't email bloggers for a date. But also, he gave himself away because he quoted Garrison Keillor to me. Then, when I thought I could not put up with him dumping me anymore, and this time would be the last time, just as I thought that, he started reading Moby Dick, and he got so excited about certain chapters that he'd read them out loud to me on his porch in the bright sun of long summer nights.

When I first started forwarding my mail to the farmer's address, he had to buy a larger mailbox. “Why do people send you so many books?” he asked. “Don't they read your blog? You never review books you like.” [This is largely true.]

During the tumult of our move to the farm I stopped opening the packages. But the farmer got curious, and he started reading the books. It turns out that he doesn't like them any more than I do. Here are my summaries of his summaries: Read more

People at work are asking me why I am not working as many hours as I used to. I am. But I am working on anger management. Here are seven tips I’ve tried using:

1. Face the problem and make it a priority.
I used to think anger management problem is a thing for men who are in prison for setting their wives on fire. Now I see it's a problem for people who think they will get fired for being unpleasant. Or for people who think their kids will grow up and hate them for being emotionally unpredictable.

I am both those people.

2. Focus on your trigger points.
The time I most consistently lose my temper is trying to get the kids out of the house in the morning. So I told myself to not lose my temper.

That didn't work.

So I have been waking up at 5:30 because I need to give myself two hours to be completely organized and calm so that I can get the kids and myself out the door for school and work at 7:30 without screaming at the kids for not eating fast enough because I changed my clothes for work three times and got behind and forgot to make lunches. Read more

When I was in the mental ward, it was mostly girls in their teens with messed up track records and eating disorders. But my roommate was from Kellogg, a top-ten business school.

I thought it was insane that she was there. She was so smart. She was going to be great at work. Her only problem was that her fiancé had just broken off their engagement. I thought she would be fine—there are so many other men to be had. But before I could ask her to explain, she tried to electrocute herself in the bathtub, with a blow-drier, and she was moved to the high-security ward.

That has been on my mind as my relationship with the farmer has unraveled.

Which makes me want to sleep.

I kiss my sons good night and then walk through a kitchen full of dirty dishes to my bedroom, thinking going to bed would be a good way to escape. But I can’t sleep. Probably because I used that trick earlier, when I came home from work and slept for a couple of hours before I took my son to cello.

I was not sad while I slept. But I was sad at cello.

Even since our first date, the farmer has said that he does not want to date me, but he does it anyway. Over eighteen months, we pretend things have changed, but really, here’s where we are: Read more

I wake up Wednesday at 4am to a phone call: The Guardian, in London, asking for an interview about my miscarriage twitter. Then a half-hour later, an Irish radio station. And then the phone kept ringing.

I tell Now Magazine (I think it's basically People magazine for the UK audience) to call back after I got the kids off to school. I ask my housemanager to come early because I can’t handle the sleep deprivation and the early-morning interviews and school lunches all in one morning.

I block out the morning to write a thousand-word essay for the Guardian to justify tweeting about my miscarriage. Which the Guardian wants done in the next 20 hours.

Now magazine wants to know if they can send a photographer to take a photo of my kids.

No.

Or the Farmer?

No.

What about if their faces are blurred?

No. (But this at least makes the Farmer laugh.) Read more

The farmer broke up with me five times the first five months we were together, last year. So I learned that he had huge commitment issues.

I tried to do the advisable thing to do when you're with someone who has commitment issues. I tried to fall in love with someone else. But I didn't. I only missed the farmer more.

So I told myself that it's okay to be with someone who has commitment issues, as long as I am having fun.

But my kids grew to love the farm, and the farmer, almost as quickly as I did. This makes sense. My oldest son was with me on my first visit to the farm, and if you have ever been on a working farm you know that to kids, it's like Disney World.

So my kids were constantly asking to go to the farm, and constantly trying to figure out, what is the farmer? A friend? An uncle? And why did I kiss him if he's not in my family?

This is not a good path for kids if the relationship isn't going toward marriage. So I waited until a day when the farmer and I were holding hands, walking between rows of corn higher than our heads. And I told him that I can't keep bringing the kids to the farm because we're not getting married and I'm scared the kids will get hurt.

The farmer didn't say anything for five minutes. And then he said, “Okay. Let's get married.” Read more