Money Matters: Bubblews

This blog is suffering from a bit of neglect of late, but only because I have been remarkably focused on my long-term goal of building enough of a from-home income stream to ease a bit of the pressure on my husband. His business is going well enough but the stress of the ups and downs of the last couple years is wearing on us both. Since there’s no practical way for me to work a normal job around his crazy schedule, not that I really want to anyway, I decided to step out of my comfort zone a little bit and start working on earning some money from home.

The tiniest, most insignificant of these steps started with a site called Bubblews. It is a revenue sharing site, like many others before it, but unlike the Associated Content and Themestream of old it is also a social networking site unto itself. Rather than writing full length articles and promoting your content off-site, the earning model is based around frequent, conversational posts and networking with other writers to build a community.

I was pretty skeptical at first. I made a few bucks at Themestream before they went under, and at Suite101. I posted some at Associate Content when they still offered upfront pay but have done little there since they changed to a pageviews only model. But a friend invited me to Bubblews and I found the community aspect interesting enough to give it a chance.

I just recently cashed out for the first time, so I figured now is a good time to post a quick review. Earning is slow, as with most pageview based sites. I joined in October but didn’t start using my account regularly until January, and it took until last week to build up enough earnings to cash out.

The social aspect provides a built-in audience to promote to rather than counting on Twitter and Facebook followers, search engines, and other less focused efforts. I appreciate this because it not only means not spamming other audiences, it also creates a fun atmosphere of interacting with other writers.

The minimum to cash out is $50 and Paypal is the fastest way to receive your earnings. Payout takes a few days. I submitted my request early Saturday morning and got notice today that the funds are in my Paypal account. This isn’t a bad turn-around time overall. From requesting payment until the e-check clears on Friday will be six days.

Some negative reviewers claim that Bubblews is a scam and cite unfulfilled payment requests as evidence. This stems from a clause in the terms of service that reserves the right not to pay out for content that doesn’t meet Bubblews minimum standards. Unfortunately there is no formal notification of rules violation, and this is admittedly a weakness of the site but not one that above-board writers need to worry about. The requirements for posts are simple – 400 characters excluding white space, not plagiarized or previously published, with proper attribution for any photo sources that you might use even if they are public domain.

I held off on sharing this site until I received my first payment because I wanted to see for myself, and I can say now from experience that Bubblews scam claims are unfounded. The site does pay if you follow the rules.

Bubblews will never replace more focused and lucrative earning efforts for me, but it has all but replaced Facebook and Twitter as my social media time-waster of choice and I make a few bucks in the process. If you’re looking to make some new connections and earn a little extra money on your own time, check it out. But beware – posting and reading there can be addictive!


Where I’ve Been Lately

Where I’ve Been Lately

I know I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit. That’s because I’ve gotten sucked into a new (to me) social networking site that is part blog, part Facebook, and have been spending far too much time there. Come check out my posts if you’re so inclined. I’ve got photos, book reviews, travel adventures, and more. 

My New Year’s Resolution – To Get A Divorce

I came across a post on another blog, Bucket List Publications, that gave me pause.

With the new year I, like most of the rest of the world, turn my thoughts to how I can live better, improve myself, and generally make the new year a step up from the old.

I’m thinking about my weight, my health, my career, and my relationships. But I never even thought about the one thing that has become an excuse and a distraction from all of those priorities.

I too need a divorce in 2014.

I’m not leaving my husband, who I still adore even after all the ups and downs of more than a decade of marriage. I am talking about a relationship that is in some ways even more intimate, and which has become damaging to the things most important to me.

I’m kicking my smartphone out of my bed. And not just out of my bed… out of the dinner table and the baseball game and all the other places I allow it to pull me out of the moment and into a virtual world I care little about but seldom resist.

I’m relegating my computer back to its rightful place as a tool to be used as needed, rather than a constant source of entertainment and connection. I will step out of my office more often, say “One minute honey” less, and be more present both in my home and out of it.

I do not need to be constantly connected. It can be very easy to forget that when the computer is at the heart of my education and my modest money making ventures, but it is true.

How much have I missed over the years because I was checking my e-mail compulsively, hoping for an acceptance letter, or refreshing my stats as though today is the day my blog or one of my articles goes viral? Wasting time on Facebook games or engaged in pointless debate on some message board?

So this year I say, “No more.”. My phone and my computer are tools and it is time to put them back in their place – a way to get something accomplished, not a mindless time waster to enable my worst tendencies towards procrastination and social isolation.

My relationship with my electronics has become toxic, and it is long past time I put a stop to it.

You can read the original, inspiring post here: My New Year’s Resolution – To Get A Divorce.

Reflections on 2013

2013 certainly proved to be something unexpected for me.

The year started on a profound down note – the loss of a job just before Christmas in 2012, a difficult job market and one promising interview after another with no calls back, travel plans scaled back or canceled entirely as unemployment ran out with no job prospects on the horizon. The first four months of the year had all the markings of a total disaster and the next four were only marginally better. Temp work, unexpected expenses, and lots of uncertainty.

But then it all started to fall into place.

And though I have a hard time admitting this, I certainly see a higher power at work in the way it has played out.

It all started with my friend, the priest. I was chatting with him after mass one September morning and mentioned that we were having a BBQ for our daughter’s birthday. Of course I invited him to stop by if he had time, and he did. That day he got to chatting with my husband about the state of the rectory and historic church building. That conversation led to a part time job – the parish needed a handyman, and my husband has a decade of experience in all manner of residential repairs and renovations. My husband applied and was hired before so much as a help wanted ad was drafted.

That turn of events allowed us to put the job search aside so that my husband could go back into business for himself, reviving a dream that we thought was dead and buried under the rubble of the Great Recession. The church pays enough for us to make ends meet, and the jobs my husband books on his own allow us some breathing room.

When I last posted I could think of little else but our money problems. Little did I know that a few short weeks later we’d see our income rebound to a point we haven’t seen in years. When it rains it pours, indeed. From no work to booked solid, we’ve seen both destructive storms and nurturing showers this year.

And it all started with that backyard conversation, with the seemingly insignificant part time job that freed us once again to trust in our dreams. Once again we find ourselves drawn even more deeply into the community of our school and parish, and once again I see the hand of something beyond my understanding nudging us in a direction I never imagined myself traveling.

Looking back over 2013 is profoundly humbling and deeply thought provoking.

Looking ahead to 2014 is incredibly exciting.

The Trickle-Down

Recently I stumbled across a headline that caught my eye: Financial Stress May Hit Your Brain And Wallet. Interesting stuff, that.

It seems researchers have found a connection between financial stress and diminished decision-making abilities.

To anyone who has lived with chronic financial stress – not the financial stress that gets talked about in the media of how to save enough for retirement or pay down credit card debt, but stress of the how to keep the lights on and food on the table sort – I’m sure this finding comes as no surprise at all.

Aside from casting new light on the very important political and social conversation surrounding poverty in our nation, this article really hit home for me right now.

We’re living pretty close to the edge at the moment. We have enough, just barely, but things that should be little more than minor hiccups have the potential to bring that delicate balance crashing down. And this week, it feels like it is slipping.

A special-order window is a week late coming in so a major job, major in the sense that final payment will cover a full month’s bills for our household – can’t be finished yet.

A direct deposit snafu and the most ridiculous address change problem I’ve ever heard mean no child support is getting through. We’ll get it eventually, but that doesn’t help right now when we have school pictures, a gas bill, and a nearly-empty gas tank in my van.

A paperwork delay postpone another customer closing on a house, which in turn means my husband can’t even move on to the next job.

When it rains it pours. And with the rain comes the fog, a sort of mental sluggishness that is doubly damning for someone who makes what little money she does earn with her brain and her words.

You see, not only does financial stress cloud the mind and impede decision-making, it also trickles down to wreak havoc with creative ability. At least it does for me. So at the very time my small contribution matters the most, I’m least able to be the prolific, conversant, efficient writer I know I can be.

So my blog gets dusty and stale. My contributions at revenue-sharing sites dry up. And my content writer accounts shrivel from neglect.

I’m not sure where to even begin combating this new challenge. I know I must, for my own peace of mind as well as to ease this temporary fiscal crunch. But how to find the words when my thoughts don’t flow and the ideas drift in and out without ever coming into focus?

In Defense of the Private School Parent recently ran an opinion piece that caught my eye, and to which I could not help responding.

If You Send Your Kid To Private School, You Are A Bad Person” the headline proclaims, and coming from a publication that aims for an upper middle class, educated, liberal demographic it seemed somehow out of place.

The author, Allison Benedikt, begins by clarifying her credentials – “I am not an educational policy wonk; I’m just judgmental.” And the content of the piece certainly backs that up.

The gist of her argument is that private schools skim off not the academic cream, as is so often alleged, but rather those families who care the most about education. By doing so, the author claims, the public schools lose the very parents who have the most ability and drive to improve the quality of the public school systems in which they live.

There might be some validity to this notion. Where Benedikt goes from there, however, is far more debatable.

First, she assumes that parents do exert a significant influence upon the quality of neighborhood schools. She cites PTA fundraising and petitions to remove lousy teachers, and it is certainly true that PTAs can be effective in addressing these one-time issues.

But unfortunately that’s where it ends – with the resolution of one-time issues. They do not have any effect on overall school funding, curriculum, testing, or any of the other issues that are most responsible for the decline in public school quality. And let’s face it, our lawmakers aren’t interested in hearing from moms and teachers. There isn’t a “party of education” that we can vote for, and as lobbyists we’re too underfunded to be effective.

How many years ago was No Child Left Behind passed? In all that time, I haven’t met a single teacher, public or private, or a single parent who believes it has had a positive effect on education. Most agree it has had a negative impact, with the tests taking center stage and limiting both the scope and depth of the classroom experience. And yet, we forge ahead with it as the law of the land.

More PTA moms peddling overpriced chocolates and wrapping paper is an excellent way to upgrade to the new version of Microsoft Office or install a piece of playground equipment, but it is not a solution to the pervasive anti-government, anti-union, and anti-taxation attitudes that are crushing our public schools from above.

Second, she acknowledges that change will take time and then asserts that the generation or generations lost in the shuffle, waiting for this educational renaissance to take place, will be just fine.

Looking around me at the way the current generation is struggling – with student loans and high unemployment and dead-end service industry jobs – I rather doubt that. It might be true for the children of upper middle class New York City, where the same parents who can pay for elite private schools at the primary and secondary level can also ensure their children have access to post-secondary education without hefty debt loads, but those parents also have the resources to purchase homes in top-notch school districts should they choose public education.

For those of us down here in the blue-collar trenches, private schools can be a step on a ladder to a better standard of living. They offer opportunities to shine, academically and otherwise, in ways that stand out not only on admissions applications but also when seeking the merit-based scholarships that can bring college within financial reach. They provide a firm academic foundation that avoids the need for pricey remedial-level college coursework. And most importantly, they offer the sort of positive, focused learning environment that better-off families can take for granted.

Throughout the piece, Benedikt goes back to certain stereotypes of private education and the families who choose it. This only shows how incomplete and provincial her understanding of educational issues is – not all private school parents are looking for Mandarin lessons or trying to shield our children from “black and brown kids”. It isn’t about having only the best; it is about having good enough to launch a successful life, rather than a lifelong struggle with low-skill jobs. Rage against the elitists competing to get their kids in to the right pre-school to start them on the road to Harvard if you must, but at least take the time to know what you’re arguing if you’re going to lump the rest of us into your judgment.

I still believe in public education. I continue to support, with my time, my money, my voice, and my vote, efforts to create a system that lives up to the promise of universal, quality education for all. But I draw the line at sacrificing my children’s future to a system that even the most optimistic acknowledge will take generations to change.

My only regret is that I allowed my faith in the system and worry about the strain of paying tuition on our modest income keep me from making the decision sooner, when I first began to see how badly the current public school culture was failing my children.

To leave them there, in a setting that could not meet the needs of either of my two oldest children, knowing that both were developing a lasting disdain for education that could easily become a lifelong handicap… To turn a blind eye to their unmet needs and continue fighting battles against glacial bureaucracies as the years slip by…

Well, in my book that would make me a bad person.

The Boys of Fall

It is that time of year again – the start of another football season.

I’m not a big fan. You won’t find me on the couch watching the Lions or the Wolverines with my husband, never mind actually going to games. But on Friday nights can often find me in the stands, cheering on our high school team.

Football as a youth and scholastic sport has taken quite the beating recently in the court of public opinion, and I can certainly understand why. The injuries are frightening, both in their frequency and in their nature.

But still I allow my son to play. Not just allow. Encourage. Support. Cheer. Drive. Fundraise. All of those things that go along with being a sport parent.


Simply put, because it is good for him.

2008 - His First Season

2008 – His First Season


Every morning he gets up with the sun. He puts on his pads and heads out for a 3+ hour workout. Rain or shine, hot or cold, tired or rested.

He learns what it means to be in shape, and he learns what it means to be part of a team.

He learns what it takes to stick with something through the bad and the good.

He learns what it means to do what he has to do – in this case, homework and studying to maintain eligibility – in order to be able to do what he wants to do.

All those lessons matter far more than the skills he learns on the field.

2011- Last Year of Youth Ball

2011- Last Year of Youth Ball


Does it make me nervous? At times very much so. He already has one teammate out with an injury and we’re just one game into his freshman season.  Every time he goes in I half hold my breath. He’s defensive line, one of the big guys up front going toe to toe with even bigger guys, and I’ll bet even NFL players’ moms worry when their sons get down in their stance to await the snap.

Do I wish he chose a different sport? Well, I certainly gave him every chance to do so, but from the first time he put on those pads football was all he wanted to do. The physicality of it appeals to him, as does the constant action.

But looking around at the community support and excitement that surrounds football in our little town, I’m not sure that baseball or basketball or soccer – all sports he tried and eventually lost interest in – would be equal substitutes. In many ways my son is very much like me, a little quirky without meaning to be, a little out of step with “normal” for his age and situation, and I think part of the power in football for him is being a part of something that the whole town recognizes and celebrates.

And when I say the whole community, I mean it. This is the crowd that came out to support our high school team when they made the state finals in 2011. The fans from our little town for 4000 people filled the lower bowl of an NFL stadium from end zone to end zone!

Ford Field 2011

Ford Field 2011


So come Thursday, you can find me at the football field cheering on my son’s team. I’ll be there Friday too, rooting for the varsity boys while my son watches from the sidelines.

I won’t quite be able to relax until the clock ticks down to zero, but I’ll be there nonetheless.

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