Monday, December 8, 2008

I've moved

All future posts will go on my new domain

jeffreyleonard was just an alias, a nom du plume, what my mom called me when I was in trouble.

Said, with lips pursed against teeth, as I now speak when irked by kid, usually with a raised finger and a stern look, "Jeffrey Leonard!"

I'm 41. She may have more opportunities.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar...

I speak the Mary Poppins sense.

What I'm really talking about is cash.

Well, credit.

The getting ready in the AM, teeth brushed, breakfast eaten, clothes on, and out the door in time to make the bus every day was proving darn near impossible. Lots of screaming, and threats of physical violence and "consequences" such as the rescinding of "privileges".

All to no avail.

There were still occasions when we had to drive to school, throwing the finely-tuned morning schedule into turmoil.

Remembering my mother's axiom that you catch more flies with sugar than vinegar, and knowing well my 7-year-old's greed and competitive spirit (he's the only kid who could turn the watching of Tom and Jerry into a competition sport); I made the process into a game.

December 19th begins the Holiday Break, there were 15 school days left until then. I told him if he could make the bus 8 times he'd get $5, 10 times $10, 12 times $15 dollars, and all 15 times $20.

He's 5 for 5.

We keep track on a scorecard.

My wife thinks I'm bribing him.

She sleeps in.

NPR Marketplace Money update

Well, the NPR Marketplace Money piece aired, I had a brief moment at the end of the story. The whole thing is here:

This is the entirety of my bit:

Then there are those left out of the official underemployment figures because they're working for themselves. Like Jeff Wenker. He was laid off from his PR job in Seattle two months ago and is now self-employed, getting small jobs here and there. And that's on top of his other responsibilities.

Jeff Wenker: If you're underemployed and you're looking for full-time employment, you are always working. You're working to find a job, you're working to take care of the kids...

Wenker says as time goes on he's willing to take any full-time job just to get the benefits. But until he lands that opportunity, he's trying to look on the bright side of underemployment and indulge his creative dreams. He says he's sleeping just four and half hours a night so he can write a series of blogs and a screenplay.

I'm Rachel Dornhelm for Marketplace Money.

Yeah, I'd return punts naked for the Seahawks if they'd give me benefits.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Ranks of Stay-at-Home Dads Grows

This isn't a good sign:
Unemployment rises to 6.3 percent, inching toward dot-com bust era
John Cook:

It does mean that there will be many more Stay-at-Home Dads, which means more people should be coming to this site for tips, links to resources, and other helpful posts.

I am like the posterboy for the under-employed, having spent nearly half of my adult career not in a traditional job. I also have many years of experience caring for kids, and living on the cheap. (I've been published in Cheapskates Monthly [and I never paid for a subscription]).

When I was freelancing in San Francisco I finagled an apartment in the Marina District (well, East Cow Hollow) for $400, and I had a parking spot. The place was a dive, we called it the Chateau du Fromage, but I had roommates (who worked [Nic "Buys-the-Beer" Howell being the most generous]) and was fresh out of college where any domicile free from gnats circling puddles of beer was a step up.

In short, I know from whence I speak and hope y'all will come back again and again with comments, suggestions and other helpful tips for those of us in the under-employed boat.

Not to mix metaphors, but a quote from Dory in "Finding Nemo" frequently runs through my head: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...'

Try it.

It's my favorite mantra.

NPR's Marketplace Money, personal PR

I was interviewed for Marketplace Money which will air this weekend (1:00 PM Sunday on KUOW).

It was very fun, went into KUOW's studio, put on headphones, spoke into a big mic and talked about using time not employed by someone else to explore your creative side, do the things you love, spend time with family, and work on finding the right job.

Who knows what they'll use, but hopefully they'll mention this Stay-at-Home Dad Survival Guide.

It might go on their website.

Local air times are here:

Audio file will be posted here:

Please listen and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm a regular guy.

That doesn't happen by accident (see oatmeal below).

For years people have mocked me for eating prunes, but they rank up there with bananas, oatmeal, and pork in the pantheon of perfect foods.

Buy them, eat them, teach your kids to eat them. Nature's candy. Kids on refined sugar are a nightmare.

This post brought to you by Sun-Maid, my preferred provider of Dried Pitted Plums

I just can't get started in the morning without a piping-hot pot of coffee and a handful of prunes. I've tried other enemas they just don't seem to work.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tip 5: Breakfasting

The most important meal of the day, yet also the most difficult to execute with the clock ticking.

WARNING: This is the beginning of the shameless marketing portion of the program, look for links to products I endorse.

1. Oatmeal. Not just any oatmeal, Quaker Old Fashioned Original
Five minutes versus one...really, does it make such a difference. True, time is of the essence, so in the race to get ready, oatmeal is like the starting gun. Boil water, insert oatmeal (you'll get the portioning down with practice, hint use more water, when the oatmeal sits and softens it will get too thick otherwise).

The flavored instant stuff is a luxury you don't require (buy brown sugar, you know...Pure cane sugar...from Hawaii...growin' in the Sun...C&H pure cane's the one...) At the bare minimum cooking oatmeal gives you plausible deniability when the wife asks "did you make them breakfast?" You did, did they eat it, well...some things are best left unsaid. (If left uneaten, eat the stuff yourself, it's the right thing to do and the tasty way to do it [God bless Wilford Brimley]).

2. Agree upon a weekly menu. It sounds like I'm pampering the kid, but it helps to have their buy off on what they'll eat before I lay a bowl of oatmeal in front of them. Saves some frustration in the morning, although there always exists the risk of the fickle addled brains of your splendid youth changing his/her mind(s) by Friday. Review menu as needed and stock fridge accordingly. (See Upcoming Tip "fulfill promises").

3. Make Nothing for Yourself. Trust me there are always leftovers and you can survive (indeed, grow large) eating only what's left on your kid(s[']) plates. This takes a strong stomach and the essential component of parenting, loss of self. You are no longer the 20-something happy-go-lucky man-about-town. You are a father, and that means, every once in a while you'll be eating regurgitated oatmeal. Consider yourself like the mommy bird who eats the worm, returns to the nest and then expels the food from her stomach into her chick's mouth. It's like that, but in reverse.