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Newest Adventure: Sex and Relationship Book for Couples that Want to Rekindle the Sparks

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I’m excited to announce the release of my latest book, No-Bone Zone: The Ins and Outs of Curing Long-Term Relationship Boredom. This book has been in conceptual development since my days as an undergraduate psychology student studying to be a human sexuality researcher, but became a realized dream about six months ago. Like The Barefoot Running Book, Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel, Must Have Been Another Earthquake, Kids (a book about full-time RV living with children), and The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running and Ultramarathons (which was released about a month ago,) No-Bone Zone takes the idea of creative self-experimentation with unorthodox ideas and utilizes it to make our sex and relationship adventures more interesting, exciting, and fulfilling.
Here’s the official description:

So you and your significant other used to go at it like rabbits, but now your sex life has cooled off and you have entered the dreaded No-Bone Zone. How do you fix your mismatched sex drives and recapture some of that early magic?

 

As a sex and relationship blogger, this is one of the most common issues I have seen long-term couples encounter. Far too many couples struggled with this common issue, especially after children. Pop psychology, relationship counselors, and the self-help community typically offer advice that ultimately exasperates the problem. In other words, we’re doing relationships wrong.

 

No-Bone Zone flushes that viewpoint down the toilet and explores our relationships and the issue of boredom from a different, unconventional, and sometimes controversial perspective. This new perspective allows us to create long-term solutions that can save our relationships. No-Bone Zone fuses emerging hard science with easy to understand language and outside-the-box thinking to produce an entirely new framework for making our relationships last.

The first few sections of the book are available as a sample, which can be downloaded here:

 

The book is currently available exclusively via Amazon, and is being published as a dead tree paperback version and a Kindle ebook version.

Questions? Leave a comment and I’ll answer it as soon as possible.
Enjoy!
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Being an Introverted Parent of Preschoolers Sucks. Seriously.

For about a year or so, I’ve been a part-time stay-at-home parent. Each Tuesday and Thursday, I’m home alone with our recently-turned five year old.

And it seriously sucks.

He’s our most talkative, outgoing kid. Over the course of the ten or so hours I’m alone with him, he won’t go more than ten minutes without interacting with me in some way. He narrates every action, verbalizes every thought. Our other children did the same, but they’re rather introverted themselves. Eventually they would hole up somewhere around the house for their own solitude. Not our youngest, though.

And it seriously sucks.

As a moderate introvert, I love interacting with people… for awhile. Eventually I need silence. I need solitude. I need to shut the outside world out. If I don’t get that down time, I begin to lose my mind. I become anxious, agitated, and easily annoyed. I can’t concentrate (which is not cool for a writer.) I start questioning my decision to stay at home. I start fantasizing about escaping somehow.

And it seriously sucks.

Our society likes to champion the idea that parents should always be “on.” We should love every waking moment with our kids. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me to “cherish their youth”, I could afford to place him in preschool full-time.

Our older two are at the age where they can entertain themselves without parental interaction. Hell, the oldest is starting the ‘tween “I don’t want to be around my parents anymore” phase… and we love it.

Extrovert parents that feed off those interactions with their children pretty much run the parenting scene, which places undo expectations on us introvert parents. Quite frankly, I’m sick of it. I know there are other introvert parents out there that feel the same way. Perhaps its time we speak up. With summer vacation just around the corner, we need to hear that it’s okay to crave that solitude away from our kids.

Any other introverted parents out there? Leave a comment!

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New Full-Time RVing with Kids Book Now Available!

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My new book is finally finished and available via Amazon! “Must Have Been Another Earthquake, Kids: A short, honest guide to full-time RV living with children” covers our three year adventure traveling the United States with our kids in tow. In the book, I cover a wide variety of topics (see table of contents below.) The goal is simple- we met A LOT of people that were considering, with various levels of seriousness, doing something similar to us.

They had a lot of questions.

Most revolved around sex.

Based on their perceptions, it was clear the research they had done gave them an overly-optimistic rosy view of the lifestyle. While there are a million positive aspects to these kind of adventures, there are also serious caveats. This book covers both in detail.

It is essential reading for anyone considering the RV lifestyle with kids, or may be kicking around the idea of any sort of microhousing.

The book is also available for Kindle.

Blogger friends– if you’re interested in writing a review, drop me a line via Facebook or email.

Table of Contents:

Our story
The Decision to Live in an RV
The Typical American Lifestyle
The Options
Making the Hard Decisions
This Idea Sounds Too Good to be True!
Just How Common Is This?
Lingo
Prerequisites to Hitting the Road
Preparing Finances
Securing Multiple Income Streams
Savings
Budgeting
Residency
Setting a Date
Emotions of Leaving Friends and Family
Choosing the type of RV
Does brand matter?
Campgrounds
Types of Campgrounds
Cost of Campgrounds
Camping Clubs
What do Campgrounds Offer?
How safe are campgrounds?
Driving
Truckers
The Positives of the Full-time RV Lifestyle with Kids
Family-related
RV-related
Lifestyle-related
The Negatives of the Full-time RV Lifestyle with Kids
Family-related
RV-related
Lifestyle-related
The Rest of the Story
Frequently Asked Questions
Conclusion
How it Changed Us
Creating Your Own Adventure
Reading list

Being a Stay-At-Home Parent Sucks

Warning: Ninety percent of the stay-at-home-parents that read this will be publicly outraged. Seventy five percent of stay-at-home parents will secretly rejoice. 😉

Hanging out with your kids all day every day… it’s supposed to be great, right? Teaching them to play ball, video games, wrestling, ice cream, whatever. It’s supposed to be a Hallmark moment, right?

We’re supposed to LOVE the opportunity to be a stay-at-home parent. In fact, the debate that rages between working parents and stay-at-home parents (almost always involving women… us dudes are never really given a voice in the debate) always seems to focus on:

  • Materialism: “I need to work to provide my kids with iPods and trips to Disney World!”
  • The needs of the parent to work: “I need to prove myself in the workplace/ be productive/ climb the corporate ladder!”
  • The needs of the kid: “I don’t want my kid to be raised by strangers!”

Not too many people mention another issue… maybe we just can’t handle being around our kids 24/7. Some parents will joke about it under the guise of the “drunk mommy” shtick, but few are willing to admit a fundamental truth:

Some of us just aren’t well-suited to be stay-at-home parents.

Our Situation

Over the summer, I’ve been a stay-at-home-dad. Shelly took an administrative job with a local police department. My former close-to-full time job at a lumber yard didn’t pay enough to cover the cost of daycare, so we made a logical choice. I’d work one day a week and stay home the rest. It made financial sense.

I spent weeks planning all the cool adventures we’d tackle. We didn’t have a second vehicle, so we’d ride bikes and scooters. We’d get a healthy dose of culture, exercise, and excitement!

  • We were going to make a weekly trip to the library to work on reading skills.
  • We were going to travel to local markets to explore new foods for lunch each day.
  • We were going to go to the park and learn a variety of sports.
  • We were going to take occasional longer-range trips using public transportation.
  • We were going to start a ‘home improvement” project to replace a fold-out couch in our RV.
  • We were going to set up a “daily responsibility” list so each child could learn to contribute to the household operations.

I was going to be epic!

So what really happened?

Reality set in.

I failed to consider some of the obstacles… namely weather. San Diego is well-known for the temperate climate. Unfortunately we’re living east of San Diego where temperatures routinely hit 90-100 degrees. That, coupled with the intense sun, made travel on foot especially difficult after 9 a.m.

As ultrarunners, Shelly and  were fully capable of traveling many miles in extremely hot conditions. Too bad my kids aren’t ultrarunners. Travel after about 10:00 a.m. became exceedingly difficult if not borderline dangerous. As such, the outings were close to impossible. That eliminated the library, trips to the local markets, and the parks.

That relegated our adventures to the 300 square foot trailer or the campground. It didn’t take long for boredom to set in. The older kids (nine and seven) would entertain themselves about half of the time, but four year old was perpetually bored. That required frequent attention. Having to continually interact with them made it impossible to do anything productive (like write books) or enjoy more than three minutes of silence.

Eventually we settled into a barely-tolerable routine where two of the kids would play together and I would entertain the third. On the rare occasional all three played together, I could be assured a fight would break out over which kid gets to lick the picnic table first.

Needless to say, I am exceedingly excited school starts today.

Parental Guilt

It’s difficult to admit we may not be well-suited to be stay-at-home parents. Society sends us a few messages, including:

  • We should love spending time with our kids, even if we’re ALWAYS with them. They will only be this age once, and we should enjoy every second. People are fond of saying things like “When they’re older, you’ll wish they were still this age.” No, I won’t. People said that about their baby years. There’s never a time I wish I could repeat that time. People only say this because they forget the shitty diapers, lack of sleep, or constant crying.
  • If we have negative feelings, we should become a martyr and bury them. After all, our kids are our most precious resource. Sidebar- I’ve written extensively about the martyr complex, including how it poisons relationships. Bad stuff.
  • Keeping kids occupied is easy. I get this claim from people that have boring kids. “When my kids are bored, I just <insert something I’ve tried repeatedly> and the problem is solved. You’re just not doing it right.” This is the one that I find especially annoying. I’m well-versed in kid psychology. There’s an excellent chance I tried your suggestion. Just because it works for your lame-ass kids doesn’t mean it’s going to work for mine.

Bottom line- we’re led to feel guilty if we admit we’re not cut out for the stay-at-home parent gig. That’s bullshit. Instead of making each other feel bad about our perceived shortcomings as parents, let’s discuss ideas so we can figure out what parenting strategies work best for our kids, our environment, and ourselves.

I’m a bit of an introvert in that I need down time. I need a little bit of silence on a regular basis. Without it, I tend to go a little crazy. As a stay-at-home-dad, I rarely if ever got that silence.

Some of us just don’t have what it takes. And that’s okay.

With my current schedule, the older kids go to school for about seven hours during the week. Ty, the youngest, goes to daycare three days during the week. That gives me about 21 hours per week of alone time, and another 14 with only one kid (infinitely easier than three kids.) That’s more than enough to be able to recharge, get some writing done, and even allow me to do nothing on occasion.

I’m curious to hear from other current or former stay-at-home parents that may have or have had the same issue. Specifically, what is it about the experience that was most difficult?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Also, if you know of other stay-at-home parents that may find this interesting, share with them. I want to solicit as many opinions as I can to start a good discussion. 😉

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New Adventures on the Horizon

Since Shelly and I stopped our travel and set up camp east of San Diego, our plans have been somewhat ambiguous. I got a job, we put the kids in school, and we started mma training. We didn’t really have a plan; we were going to more or less wing it.

After our savings dwindled, we decided to get “real” jobs to pay off our debt and rebuild said savings. We’d both look for employment; Shelly searching in the area and myself searching in neighboring states. The first that landed a job would determine our immediate fate.

Well, Shelly landed one first. She accepted a job working for a local police department. She’s excited to have her first outside-the-RV job since leaving teaching, especially given the nature of her work. This means we’ll be able to stay in the area for the immediate future.

Our kids will be going on summer break soon and our niece Stephanie moved back to Michigan. This brought up the difficult decision of keeping my current job (it doesn’t pay especially well.) The cost of daycare would surpass what I earned. We decided we’d be better off if I become a stay-at-home-dad.

That’s right- I’ll be livin’ the dream!

Actually, I’ll use that time to focus on my various writing projects which have fallen by the wayside. I haven’t been able to maintain a regular blog posting schedule. It will also allow me to work on book projects. Squirrel Wipe has been far more successful than I expected. I’m hoping to use that momentum for the next project- a parenting book featuring the weird, random shit that comes our of our kids’ mouths.

I’m still planning on working one day a week to have some outlet. I should also be starting running classes in the near future.

We’re happy to be able to stay in the area for the foreseeable future. We really enjoy the El Cajon area. Staying put will also allow us to continue to train at our gym, which has become our new obsession.

We’ll continue living in our RV because a) it’s cheap, and b) we enjoy our particular campground. The move from six to five people definitely makes a difference in regards to space.

What will the future hold?

Who knows. We do have some long-term plans, but we’re open to any opportunity that may emerge. Writing has a funny way of opening surprising doors if you’re open to serendipity… so we’ll see what happens.

We’ve come full-circle over the last two years- from full time high school teachers to traveling hobos to “poor folk” to… well, close to “normal.” We’re still reflecting on the various elements of the journey- what we’ve learned, what we enjoyed, what we’d change, etc.

We’ve been at this long enough for the honeymoon phase to wear off, which has given us a good perspective on the positives and negatives of the lifestyle. Anyone have questions about any element of our adventures? Leave a question in the comment section; I’ll answer it ASAP!

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Is Retirement Planning a Scam?

In yesterday’s post, I discussed a plan to balance making money with living a life of adventure. A reader asked about retirement planning- how does it fit in my plan?

Over the last two years, Shelly and I spent a lot of time observing our fellow campground-inhabitants. Many were retired. The conversations we had more or less confirmed the “Ferriss Hypothesis” (more on this in a minute): Lots of people waste their best years toiling away at a job with the hopes of freedom and recreation after retirement. Unfortunately their limited physical abilities, illness, and reliance on less-than-adequate pensions and savings dramatically limited their ability to enjoy their hard-earned “freedom.”

In The 4 Hour Work Week, Ferriss says the following:

“Retirement planning is like life insurance. It should be viewed as nothing more than a hedge against the absolute worst-case scenario: in this case, becoming physically incapable of working and needing a reservoir of capitol to survive.

Retirement as a goal or final redemption is flawed for at least three solid reasons:

a. It is predicated on the assumption that you dislike what you are doing during the most physically capable years of your life. This is a non starter-nothing can justify that sacrifice.

b. Most people will never be able to retire and maintain even a hotdogs-for-dinner standard of living. Even one million is chump change in a world where traditional retirement could span 30 years and inflation lowers your purchasing power 2-4% per year. The math doesn’t work. The golden years become the lower-middle-class revisited. That’s a bittersweet ending.

c.If the math does work, it means that you are one ambitious, hardworking machine. If that’s the case, guess what? One week into retirement, you’ll be so damn bored you’ll want to stick bicycle spokes in your eyes. You’ll probably opt to look for a new job or start another company. Kinda defeats the purpose of waiting, doesn’t it?”

Many of the people we encountered were regretful. Many had a significant chunk of their savings eaten in the recession or housing collapse. Some saw their supposed secure pensions cut as their companies went belly-up. The promise they were sold was far different than the reality. To paraphrase a former colleague, upon receiving their first pension check- “I was promised a Cadillac; I got a Yugo.”

How about a better alternative?

1. Do work that’s intrinsically rewarding. Do work that is meaningful, educational, or otherwise desirable in some way. When it gets old, move on to something else. Your time is too valuable to be spent doing something that makes you miserable.

2. Build several income streams that can evolve over time. Leverage your talents. These streams can grow with you well into your elderly years to supplement any savings you will have accumulated. This is usually the idea behind typical investments- build a healthy principle principal then live off the earned interest. This is great… until the economy tanks. Alternative passive income streams alleviate this inherent risk.

3. Don’t put off adventures during your most physically-capable years. I’m extremely grateful I realized this when I did.  I was able to run some amazing races and see some breathtaking sights, got to spend significant time with Shelly and our kids, and met a ton of amazing people because I didn’t wait until I retired. In short- live life while you can. Taken to the extreme- you may die tomorrow. Every day working is exchanging a sliver of your life for a wad of cash. What’s left on your bucket list?

4. It’s okay to save for retirement… but think of it as insurance for a worst-case scenario (see Ferriss quote above.) Just don’t spend so much time obsessing about the future you hope to have one day. If you have an extra grand lying around, it may be better to take that trip to Nepal than plop it in a 401k.

So… how do you go about doing this. Start by asking what you when you retire. Instead of waiting decades, make a plan to do it now.

It’s that simple.

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