Posts Tagged ‘money’

Division of Labor – Davis Family Style

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

My friend Laura posted this on her blog and I found it totally fascinating, in part because even though Laura and I get along really well (in our exclusively interweb interactions) and I think we’re sort of kindred spirits – that’s going creep her out if she TOTALLY doesn’t feel the same way, but Imma risk it – our home/work lives are completely different. COMPLETELY. Reading her responses was sort of like watching a really short reality show where you think “Whoa, who actually lives like that????” Except instead of having drunk orgies in a hot tub or entering their jacked-on-Mountain-Dew toddler in beauty competitions it’s someone just doing their everyday stuff.

Maybe I am grossly overestimating how interesting other people find this sort of thing, in which case I apologize.

Davis Family Division of Labor

Child care: Since my job title is stay-at-home-mom I’m in charge of all of the child care. I’m not in charge of all of the PARENTING, but since I’m with the kids 90% of the time I do 90% of the care. I make sure we have diapers and pull ups and seasonally-appropriate clothing and snacks and arrange play dates and babysitting on the rare occasions we get a sitter. I did all the preschool research and I’m in charge of getting Evan to/from school. When E happens to be home for things – bedtime, bath time, playtime – I’d say he does between 40-50% of the work. It’s definitely much more evenly split then it was when the kids were babies, which brings us to…


Newborn care (bonus historical category): With both kids I did way more infant care than E did. He only gets 10 days paternity leave, which seems like a lot when you’re just sitting around staring at a baby all day but is not a lot of time when you consider the newborn/helpless/infant/waking-up-all-night stage is between 6 and 12 months long. Since I was nursing and neither kid ever really took a bottle I got up with them 98% of the time and fed them 100% of the time. E was pretty good at holding, swaddling, rocking and letting me take a nap if I needed one, but a breastfeeding infant is basically my responsibility. If/when we have another baby, I’m not looking forward to the up all night stuff, but I AM looking forward to only taking care of ONE baby as opposed to TWO children for a while.


Time off (bonus category): Right now, neither of us is getting any time off and it’s sort of terrible. In the past, we’ve taken turns getting a day to sleep in on weekends, with my day usually being Sunday. On weekends when we are both home we split our time about 50/50 between doing stuff as a family – museum, aquarium, seaport – and sitting around doing as little as possible. Although I use a lot of my “do nothing” time to get household stuff like laundry and errands done, since it’s much easier to do when someone else is watching the kids.


Work: E is the only one with an outside job. He’s a submariner in the Navy and works on the nuclear reactors that power the boats. Right now he’s stationed on a brand new sub that’s still being built (it’s called the North Dakota) so he’s working in a shipyard. He typically works 12+ hours a day (more if they’re on shift work). His “normal” schedule gives him weekends off but at least 75% of the time he works Saturdays. He doesn’t get paid anything extra for working more hours and although he gets a fair amount of paid time off he can’t actually TAKE it without approval and right now they aren’t giving it. We can’t plan vacations or trips because his leave can ALWAYS be taken away (see: last weekend’s trip to Sesame Place, our beach vacation over the summer) and there’s a pretty good chance we’ll have to move in the next 2 years. BUT. It’s a really stable job. It covers our bills. It provides excellent healthcare. When E eventually leaves the military he’ll have the training and experience to get a really good civilian job. Most of the time I’m really happy “will we get a paycheck?” isn’t a concern. My work is child care (see item 1) and this blog, which brings in a small amount of money I mostly use to buy fun things like clothes for the kids or my ticket for BlogHer.


Food: I do all the grocery shopping, unless we are running family errands to BJ’s on the weekend. I’ve been doing it the entire time we’ve been married and I care a lot more about what we eat so it makes the most sense. If I wanted/needed to send E to the store I’d have to send VERY specific instructions (not just “milk” but “whole, organic milk from BJ’s, get the generic store brand”, not just “cheese” but “these 3 specific brands and types of cheese which you might have to find in 3 different parts of the grocery store”). It’s not worth the frustration/time for either of us. I also do 90% of the cooking, which I used to resent but I actually like cooking so now I don’t mind. On the nights I am unable/unwilling to provide dinner he’s happy to order or pick up food. E is in charge of ALL pizza ordering.


Housecleaning: Since I’m the one home, I do most of the general house cleaning. E is happy to help with evening straightening, loading/unloading dishes on the weekends and doing the majority of the vacuuming but I’m not sure he even knows where I keep the sponges. I’m not a very fastidious housekeeper, so keeping things clean ENOUGH isn’t a huge burden. The only time I dislike the way this labor is divided is when there are a LOT of things that need to be done in a SHORT amount of time (say, before we have houseguests) and he can’t/won’t take it upon himself to deep clean a bathroom.


House decorating (bonus category): Almost all me. I just repainted the dining room entirely on my own, although he did help me take down/put back up the chandelier so I could spray paint it yellow (a color I picked with no input from him). The only group decisions we make is large furniture, which tends to take FOREVER since we have wildly different taste.


Yard work: Mostly E.  He takes care of snow removal, mowing and major landscaping (like the patio project) but I tend the garden and plants. In the past we’ve out sourced yard clean up but didn’t hire anyone this fall. I tend to do the spring clean-up type stuff when I get an urge to plant things so I’ll probably haul leaves to the dump in April or May.


Communications: We split family communications evenly between our respective families. E’s side does a weekly family conference call to stay updated (he’s one of 4 siblings who are all married now so everyone is spread out) and he talks to his brother via computer game chat once or twice a week. My mother reads my blog and sends me Facebook messages (we are so 2012) and every once in a while we have super long telephone chats. I am in charge of sending birthday/mother’s/father’s day/Christmas cards/invitations. We are not super great at communicating with each other but most of the time we get by.


Finances: We have one bank account and one savings account. We both have equal access. Right now I’m in charge of bill paying, but most of them are automated or paid online so it takes very little work. The only finances I don’t have access to are E’s retirement account which we haven’t touched in many years. Like I said, my blog money is just for fun, although sometimes when we have unexpected expenses it goes into the joint account. We are not very good at budgeting, it’s something I am REALLY hoping to get on top of in 2013, especially because I’d like to start a couple separate savings accounts for things like vacations and an eventual car replacement for E.


Activities: I am the social director of the family. E’s job comes with a certain amount of mandatory social stuff, but I avoid as much of it as possible – not because I dislike the people involved but because I already have a nice little social network set up. I should really make more of an effort. I sign the kids up for things, maintain our memberships to various places, plan family outings and grown-up outings. Every time we hang out with some of my mom friends and their husbands E remembers he really likes people! And hanging out! And doing stuff! But in between good fun times he’s extremely anti-social and prefers his computer and the couch, something I don’t fight against as hard as I should.


Who wears the pants (bonus category): Ehhhhhhh…I don’t know. I’d say I make a lot more decisions on a daily/weekly/monthly basis but I wouldn’t say I’m the boss. I’m like the XO and the CFO of the house but E is the CEO. The current pants are mostly being worn by the Navy, since they make all our decisions for us.


When I look at it like this, I feel like things are pretty evenly split. E’s job is so demanding at the moment he can’t do much more than he already does. He puts in super long hours at his workplace, I take care of almost all the aspects of our joint lives. Some day I hope we both get more time off, but for now this works for us.


So, do you think we’re total weirdos? How do you divide labor in your house? Have you written a post like this? Leave me a comment or a link, I would LOVE to read it.

If there’s ever a Whining Olympics, I’ll bring home the gold

Monday, October 4th, 2010

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately writing two paragraph blog posts in my head and then promptly forgetting them. It’s mostly due to the fact that I’m doing all my brainstorming in the middle of the night when I a) can’t fall asleep to begin with or b) can’t fall BACK asleep after waking up for no apparent reason. This pregnancy is doing weird weird things to my internal clock and thermometer and electrical system and pretty much any other part of me that could be compared to something mechanical. When the weather changed suddenly last week and the barometric pressure went way down (or up or lopsided or whatever it is that happens when it goes from mild and humid to clear and cool) I woke up twitching from head to toe feeling like my skin was trying to crawl off my body. It was rather unpleasant. And not at all conducive to sleeping. So I stay up too late and toss and turn all night and then totally crash during Baby Evan’s nap time which means I stay up even later the next night and get even less sleep and am more exhausted so the vicious cycle continues forever and ever amen.

I felt the same way last pregnancy, only then I wasn’t chasing a toddler around all day so napping wasn’t really a problem so much as a glorious, wonderful way of life. I’m hoping if I can make it through the rest of this week sans nap and with a 10 pm bedtime my body will readjust and I can start stocking up on zzzzz’s while I still can – that number on my pregnancy ticker ain’t getting any bigger and it has DEFINITELY not been long enough since I had an infant around that I’ve forgotten what that’s like. Ugh.

My exhaustion is making every other little tiny annoyance in my life seem like a Huge Deal this week, which is just making it harder for me to relax. Huge Deal #1 is that I’m still laptopless after almost a month because we’re still deciding if we can afford to buy E a new computer or if I should just buy ANOTHER power cord for my clearly defective yet much beloved HP. So we’re “sharing” one laptop, and by “sharing” I mean I’m currently up writing blog posts at 1:20 am because it’s pretty much the only time of day E isn’t involved in some vitally important online game that he tries to guilt trip me into not nagging him about by claiming he’s “spending time” with his brother and his dad. To which I say: THAT’S WHAT PHONES ARE FOR. Because, obviously, I NEED to get online to comment on all my internet friends’ blogs and whine about things on my own. Priorities, people.

Huge Deal #2 is more bullshit with one of our worst purchases ever – E’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. Go ahead, Google “problem with my 2004 Jeep” and come back in 12 hours when you finish reading eight bazillionty forum posts about stupid problems like windshield wipers that don’t work and cruise control that fails every time it rains and the ridiculous trash they call the “heating system” but I’m pretty sure is just a hamster on a wheel working a little fan that costs $1000 every time we have to have it replaced. Which has been twice. So far. But most ridiculous of all is the windows that simply FALL INTO THE DOOR at random times and then can’t be fixed without taken the entire panel apart. It’s because some genius made the little piece that holds up the electric window out of cheap ass plastic. So the piece itself costs like $7 but the work costs $500 plus two days of being a single car family in an area that does not lend itself to single-car-ness. Did I mention this is at LEAST the second time we’ve had the window fall? I’m pretty sure it’s happened to both the driver’s and passenger’s windows once before but E thinks this is the first time on the driver’s side. He’s been driving the Jeep around with the window down for weeks now rather than getting it fixed (I think we were both secretly hoping it would just sort of…self-heal or something).  I could complain about this for another fifty years (I hate our dealership! Taking my car to work is a HUGE pain for E because of security! Being housebound with a toddler in the rain is the 8th circle of hell!) but let’s just sum up by saying the weather report for the rest of the week is so grim we’re going to bite the bullet and take the Jeep in for repairs today so I’ll be Mr. Grumpy Pants for the next few days. 8th circle of hell here I come.

Huge Deal #3 is..oh nevermind. Whatever. Let’s just say I’m annoyed at myself and annoyed at the world and annoyed at my husband and pretty much nothing is going to change that right now besides a good night’s sleep and a day without being smacked in the face by my child. And maybe a few hours of peace to get the house clean so I can stop feeling like I’m YEARS behind on my to-do list. I’d settle for weeks. The best case scenario is days. I’m exhausted already just thinking about it.


Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Since I don’t bring up E’s career very often, a quick sum-up so this post makes sense to everyone: My husband is a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy and is mostly assigned to nuclear submarines although he’s currently on shore duty. In 2012 he has to go back to a sub.

It looks like E is going to re-enlist again in a few months really soon in October, meaning he is definitely in the Navy for the long haul. We knew he would be re-enlisting at least one more time the LAST time he did it (which seems like just yesterday but was apparently 2 years ago)(having a baby can really make time fly y’all)(I bet you’ve never heard THAT before) because it put him over 10 years, the halfway point. After 20 years of military service you get to keep certain benefits – a pension, base privileges, cheap health care – forever.

Since he enlisted when he was 19, my husband is going to retire at age 39.

To be fair, it’s only a retirement from his first job. He’ll probably find something nuclear power related to do in the civilian world and put in another 20 or 30 years before we get to sell the house, buy a yacht and abandon our children travel the world. But maybe, instead of getting a job where he has to carry a briefcase and wear a tie and commute every day, we’ll start a business. Or buy a bar. Or move to rural Tennessee and live on $1000 a month plus whatever I can make blogging working at Walmart. The thought of a life that boring and normal makes me giddy and lightheaded.

But before we can start making plans like that we have to make it through the next 10 years of Navy life. We will have to move – probably several times. E will be deployed – probably several times. We’ll have to sell this house – the house I love, the house my babies came home to – in a market that means we’ll be lucky if we get out without having to bring money to closing. Forget getting back any of the cash we’ve already put into it. And even more than the material inconvenience of leaving, I cannot even begin to imagine my life without the friends/support system/general awesomeness I have here. In fact, I’m going to have to stop thinking about it right now or risk getting all sweaty and shaky and panicky. Starting over – even after 28 continuous years of experience starting over – is HARD.

To be 100% candid, re-enlisting also comes with a bonus – as in dollars – that would mean our plans to turn the third floor junk room into a guest room (and perhaps the guest room into a second nursery) could happen in the foreseeable future rather than “some day” and our “four bedroom” house could actually be sold as a 4-bedroom house. It would also mean canceling cable is as far as our drastic budget cuts have to go – no buying cans from the dented pile, veggies from the bruised cart of bread from the thrift store (true story: as a kid I thought the Hostess Thrift Shop was where they sold used donuts and muffins). That kind of financial security also makes me giddy and sort of lightheaded.

So there’s an upside to go with the downside. And truthfully, not having to worry about sudden unemployment or layoffs or downsizing or whatever not-at-all helpful euphemism companies are using these days is such a blessing. So I’m going to think about the good parts instead of the maybe-in-a-little-whiles.

Another upside? The uniforms. Oh, yes.

From the day E was pinned (promoted) to Chief

One of the Navy Balls - I was 3 or 4 months pregnant

E doing his best Top Gun impression (I'm still pregnant)

Sailor Sandwich! Tell me you're not jealous.


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Cutting the Cord

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

So between the tax increase (thanks for NOTHING stupid town) and the new minivan (thanks for NOTHING fetus) (just kidding) our budget is feeling a little pinched.

By “budget” I mean “dollars left over in our bank account three days before payday since we seem to be totally incapable of planning or predicting exactly how much we’re spending despite spreadsheets, software and having made pretty much the same amount of money for the last 2 years.”

And by “a little pinched” I mean “I’m considering selling my gold for cash. If I could just remember where I buried that chest of pirate’s booty.”

Unfortunately our largest expenses are all fixed – mortgage, car payments, insurance – so we’re taking a really hard look at our optional expenses. Since we can’t really stop eating or bathing and I would probably DIE without internet (not an exaggeration at all – I NEVER exaggerate) the service on the chopping block is cable.


Growing up, my parents refused to pay good money for TV when it was available for free right out of the airwaves. Of course “available” is a relative term that often meant Dad climbing on the roof to reposition the giant antenna so we could watch whatever channel was currently broadcasting the documentary about soap in English.

We spent a lot of time at other people’s houses who did have cable outside.

When I went to college I was THRILLED to learn the dorms included cable – INCLUDED!!!!! – although I’m pretty sure my dad called to ask if he could get a discount on room & board if he had the connection turned off. Don’t worry, roommates, I’m sure he would have climbed up on the roof of the dorm to install a giant antenna for us.

With that kind of traumatic TV past, I’m having a hard time giving up my cable. I am in fact, throwing a little bit of a hissy fit about it. I don’t CARE that we have Netflix. I don’t CARE that almost every show I watch is available online. I don’t CARE that I can buy a season pass to almost everything else on iTunes for a fraction of our monthly cable bill. I don’t CARE that we have a super-fast desktop designated media computer attached directly to our TV so I can watch all the online shows ON MY ACTUAL TV. I don’t….oh. Well, when you put it that way, I guess I’m being a little unreasonable. Fine.

I think instead of giving up all TV we’re going to go to the absolute bare bones $16 a month cable plan (which is less than we pay for Netflix). Then I can still watch the Today Show in the morning while Baby Evan and I get ready and the Price is Right at lunch. Because it’s not lunch time without The Price is Right and I am NOT screwing around with roof climbing and antennas. It means I won’t have a DVR. It means I have to choose between shows when there are two things on I want to watch. It means when I’m deciding if I should sit on the couch and watch Wipeout or take the baby to the park the first option might take enough effort that I make the wiser choice.

I think it will be good for us and our bank account.

Kitchen Konundrum

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

One of the reasons I’m not a very good cook is I’ve never had somewhere really great to practice. At least that’s what I tell myself. Growing up my mom was always shooing us kids out of smallish kitchens while she cooked since little people underfoot while you chop and boil and bake and heat is a good way to end up in the emergency room. Since I never loved cooking I never focused much on kitchens when I picked out apartments and until recently would have sacrificed everything but a fridge and a microwave for a walk-in closet. When I first saw the house we live in now, I fell in love with the hardwood floors to the incredible mouldings to the front porch…and was THRILLED with the newly remodeled kitchen. Stainless steel appliances! Corian counters! Ceiling height cabinets! A gorgeous stone tile backsplash! It’s so PRETTY and SHINY and FULL OF CHARACTER I knew I would just love baking pies and boiling water (my specialties) while admiring the grape arbor out the window.

Unfortunately, I soon realized “full of character” is the real estate term for “almost no counter space” and “nowhere to put the mail” and “where the **** am I supposed to keep any FOOD?!” Over the years I’ve tried adding tables, carts, baskets, chairs, hooks and bowls in various places but nothing has helped control and organize the overflow of junk. It’s gotten worse since the baby, since my diaper bag and camera have permanent homes on the counter by the back door and when I come in carrying a baby everything else just gets DUMPED. Even when the kitchen is super clean (which, honestly, it almost never is) I only have about three feet of counter top to make dinner on, divided in the middle by the stove. I’ve set more than one pot holder on fire because I was using the stove top as a work surface. Setting things on fire is NOT GOOD when you have a toddler.

Since we won’t be moving in the next couple of years, I finally decided it was time for a permanent solution to my lack of counter space. Lucky for me the guy who did the original kitchen remodel left his name and contact info under the sink. Lucky for HIM the custom cabinets he put in are impossible to get anywhere else so we’re trading him our first born for an island/peninsula/breakfast bar thing. Well, we tried to trade him our first born but with the economy as bad as it is right now he wanted cash instead. Babies just aren’t worth what they used to be. Luckily, we had saved a little of our tax return for home repairs (in case we did have to put the house on the market) and I convinced E it would be best spent on this project. I may have also promised a large number of homemade meals, cookies and pies IF ONLY I HAD THE COUNTER SPACE TO MAKE THEM. I guess it’s time to dust off those cookbooks.

Unfortunately, it’s going to take at least two months before the elves hobbits blind nuns cabinet…eers? make the cabinets and then another week to get a big slab of countertop in so until then I’ll just have to try not to burn the house down with a tea towel. Wish me luck.