bringing home the bacon

WW: Aspirations

by mayberry on February 2, 2011

The assignment was to draw a picture of what job you’d like to have when you grow up. Opie: I don’t want a job. I just want to be a dad.

We’re hoping a future assignment will cover “marrying well.”


by mayberry on August 6, 2010

The multitalented, multifaceted Kristen at Motherhood Uncensored interviewed me for a series on work-at-home moms. Check it out.

Child labor

by mayberry on June 9, 2010

I am ashamed to admit that my children don’t do chores. At least not on a regular basis. If I ask them to set the table or pick up crumbs with the handheld vacuum or shuttle something upstairs or down, they comply (with varying degrees of cheerfulness). But they don’t have assigned daily or weekly chores, mostly out of sheer parental laziness (and unwillingness to cede control).

They also don’t get an allowance. They take in so much cash from greeting cards (seriously) that they honestly don’t need much more. If we gave them a few dollars a week they would just spend it on mass quantities of gum and Nintendo points.

But they still like to earn money from time to time (like the times when I refuse to buy them any gum or Nintendo points). And I want them to develop a sense of responsibility for the household, as well as the basic skills they need to take care of themselves and their living space.

After a few random attempts where my husband or I promised totally divergent amounts for similar jobs, we’ve come up with a plan that I think might work. We’re making a list of prerequisite jobs, everyday tasks that don’t come with a paycheck: keeping their bedrooms picked up, putting away their shoes on the shelves expressly installed for that purpose by the back door, clearing their dinner dishes, and so on.

Then we’re making another list of money-earners: folding and putting away laundry, weeding, watering outdoor plants, unloading the dishwasher, etc. These will each have a predetermined fee. The catch is that all prerequisite tasks must be done before the child may take on an extra chore for extra cash.

What do you think? How do you handle chores/allowance/spending money with your kids?

The right fit

by mayberry on April 19, 2010

One of my favorite tasks as a magazine editor was copyfitting. As an issue of the magazine came together, a printed copy of each page or multi-page article was circulated among the staff. The assigning editor checked her pages for errors and also usually had to cut or fill so that the text would fit properly on the page.

I woke up the other day thinking about how much I liked doing that (I must have been having a flashback dream). It’s like a good word game. While retaining the meaning and intent of a passage, you must add,¬† subtract, or change just the right number of words¬† to fill the space without causing a dreaded widow or orphan. Plus, at the time, we did this on paper. So we got to use cool proofreaders’ marks.

What can I say? I am a word nerd. I recently took over editing and publishing our school’s monthly newsletter. It’s in a two-column format, so I returned to my old widow- and orphan-hunting roots. And I put everything in the same font. This revolutionary change earned me more than one heartfelt appreciation from a fellow parent.

We word nerds know a fellow traveler when we see one.

Captain Obvious eavesdrops

by mayberry on March 11, 2010

As I flew home the other day, I was listening to the man across the aisle discussing his job with his seatmate. He was a pilot, one of eight who worked for some superrich, carefully unnamed Canadian oilman. He ferried the man and his business associates all over the world (“I’m still on Beijing time,” he said. “Once when we were in Switzerland,” he said). That night he was on his way to pick up a brand new plane for his boss. He’d give it a spin, kick the tires, and then fly it to Delaware or Kansas, whichever was more financially expedient, so his boss could complete the transaction.

I just sat there and thought Is this guy for real? People actually live this way? This is a job? I knew the answers were “maybe,” “yes,” and “most certainly,” but I still marveled.

Back when I used to read the New York Times wedding announcements religiously, my favorite part (except for spotting people I knew, including, once, an ex) was reading about people’s jobs. Tons of lawyers and doctors and Wall Street types, of course. But every once in awhile one of the JDs or MDs marries a dolphin trainer or a waste-water engineer or a professional BMX biker. And I’d remember there are a lot of ways to make a living (or at least a few bucks).

What’s the weirdest job you ever had, or heard of?

Following discussion with a friend and former coworker on salaries, lowness of:

ME: Thank god my husband makes good money selling toilet paper, is all I can say.

ME: Opie: “Mommy, you are a writer. And Daddy is a paper towel maker.”

HER: I just pictured Jeff sitting in a workshop sewing paper towels together. Quilting them.

ME: And he would have a little inkpad, and stamp on the bottom of each roll, “quilted with love by JEFF H.”


by mayberry on November 12, 2009

Have we ever talked about dream jobs? What is yours, assuming salary, education, background, location, etc. are no object? Mine is translator of French novels.

Happy birthday to me. Kind of.

by mayberry on September 4, 2009

Really, to my family fitness site. It’s been live for a year now. So today is also known as “the day I start getting paid based on traffic.”

Which means … please click! Early, often, every day!

Some popular pages:

Lots more where that came from. I very much appreciate visits, comments, suggestions, feedback, tweets, Stumbles, Kirtsys, links from your blog or Facebook … everything helps.

First! day! of! school!

by mayberry on September 1, 2009


Don’t you love the hand-in-the-pocket pose? She was SO happy to go back to school and see her friends again. Last year, the “student comment” of her weekly work plan always included some variation on “I liked [doing XYZ task] with my friends.” As in, “I liked doing math with E” or “I like reading with my friends.” So yeah, she was ready. She also has the same teacher and two-thirds of the same classmates, in the same room, so it’s not as if there was much of an adjustment or transition. The classroom did acquire a pet mouse which is sooooo cuuuuuute. Jo checked out a book from the library on “caring for your pet mouse” and carefully brought it to her teacher today. Just in case Mrs. R. didn’t know what she was getting into.

I am almost as happy and excited as she is, although I do have some pangs of regret … summer? Over? I found it very hard to be productive with only 3 days of child care per week. Combined with all of the short trips and other special events of summer, I felt constantly behind and maxed out. Apparently my kids totally snowed me with their ability to keep themselves busy for more than 10 minutes at a time during a few test runs last winter and spring. I thought I’d be able to get in an hour or two of work on my non-child care days this summer. I know you’re shocked to learn that that never happened. But we did spend a lot of time together, just the three of us, doing summery things. I hope we did as good of a job as Frederick the mouse did.

Last month Nancy reminisced about cars in her past, and I commented that, even at my advanced age, I’ve never had my own car, not counting the ones I now share with my husband. In high school I had to walk, borrow from my parents, and even (horrors!) had a babysitter whose main job function was to drive me and my younger siblings around after school.

I went to college in West Philadelphia where a car was unnecessary and expensive, not to mention a certain target for theft and destruction. Then I moved to Manhattan–same situation, multiplied a few dozen times.

Apparently I moved in with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, just to get my hands on his car keys.

Still, when I was a magazine editor I went on two trips to test-drive cars. The first one was for Buick Regal and GM put us up at a very swanky hotel (no wonder they are out of money now). I spent a couple of days driving the car around a parking lot with all kinds of simulated hazards. During an evening cocktail party with the GM PR people I let slip that I lived in New York and hadn’t actually been behind the wheel of a car in four or five years. PR man almost choked on his hors d’oeuvre.

That one trip made me an expert in test driving, apparently, so my editor also sent me to Alaska to preview a Volvo station wagon. And just to emphasize the ruggedness of the car which is now, in fact, my own mommymobile, I also learned how to shoot a rifle and go salmon fishing (with hip waders and everything). Besides seeing Alaska for the first and so far only time, I also got to meet a lot of blond Swedish dudes.

These days, the blonds I share my car with are the ones I gave birth to; and I will be happy to trade my four wheels for two as soon as it’s warm enough to get out my bike again. But if anyone wants to send me to Sweden (or Santa Fe, or Seattle, or frankly, Stroudsburg) to check out the latest offerings, my bags can be packed in a matter of minutes.