I am not good at launching stuff. It stresses me out. I am not good at focusing on multiple things. Ryan Healy used to hate working with me because of this, and, frankly, I hate working with me because of this too.

I need to divide everything into very little projects in order to ensure that one project does not ruin everything else around me. This is why, in the past, blog posts have been the perfect length for me, and having a startup has derailed my whole life.

The first thing I'm launching today is a homeschooling section. To be clear, I don't homeschool. But I definitely think it's a huge trend that will shake up all of our lives, because homschoolers will take over the workplace in the next ten years. I am worried that I'm making the wrong decision by keeping my kids in school. So this is the spot where I will worry about it discuss it. Here is the post where I explain in more detail why I’m adding the homeschool section.

The other section that I'm launching is Mailbag.

I answer all my email. People are often shocked by this, which, in turn, shocks me. I mean, what am I writing a blog for if I don't want to communicate with people? But I decided I should publish the questions and answers since many people ask the same type of questions. (Don’t worry, I’m changing details to conceal the writer’s identity.)

When I met my Ex he was working for Sony. He was in charge of online properties for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. The marketing people always said that people watch Jeopardy to say “He's so smart!” and people watch Wheel of Fortune to say “He's so stupid!”

I think that marketing approach may be applicable to the questions in Mailbag. Hopefully you will think my answers are smart. But if you don't, there’s room for you to give your own answers.

On Sundays my Ex comes to our house to hang out with the kids, which made today a great day for my launch.

Also, do you ever wonder what my Ex looks like? Here he is — well, about one-third of him — with my son.

Here’s a question I get a lot: Does your Ex mind being on your blog?

Here’s the answer: He’s probably really happy being on with just one-third.

 

Melissa left yesterday. She moved back to Austin. She moved for a job that I think is totally stupid, but her future employer reads this blog, so I have to watch what I say. On the other hand, she ended up giving references the same day I posted about me worrying about her having an affair with the Farmer, so the woman interviewing her decided not to use me as a reference.

I can see why she wouldn’t want to have to deal with me. But, if I am not a reliable reference then I’m probably also, in her eyes, not a reliable person for assessing whether the job that Melissa took is totally stupid for her to take. So maybe she is just ignoring my blog anyway. Or maybe she is printing out each post and putting it on she office wall and throwing darts at it.

The second-to-last day Melissa was here, we went berry picking.

The farm is full of little pockets of wild blackberries. And we set out to pick enough for me to make a pie.
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When the pig litters came in January, the Farmer helped my son pick out pigs for his 4H project. They picked four, because you never know, really, how a pig will grow. So you start with four and pick two after a few months.

My son woke up every morning and fed his pigs, for six months. And after three months, he walked with the pigs, around in a circle, twice a day, to train the pig for the show.

There is huge variety in the amount of help parents give their kids in these projects. Some kids’ parents buy show pigs from out of state and the kids take very little care of them until the fair. Some kids do everything themselves.

I think it’s a lot like an allowance for a city kid. Each family manages the potential pitfalls of an allowance themselves. Read more

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.

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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