October 20, 2016

Just a little (link) love: author talk edition


I’ve done well for myself but these women are routinely knocking it out of the park. I’m torn between cheering for my favorites (Sana Amanat – cocreator of the awesomest Ms. Marvel!! Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie!) and wondering oh hell, what am I doing with my life? I hate the limelight but I wanted to be doing Really Important Things at this age.

Are you a Virgin America Elevate member? Get 500 miles for signing up for their newsletter!

Are you managing your career effectively? These are the points by which I’ve judged if my career management is in a good place. I can tell that I’ve not been super engaged (more thoughts on engagement by Ms. Our Next Life here) when I can’t think of who I would turn to for mentorship and a job lead. One mentor once observed that we always have a choice between broadening our horizons (going more generalist) and broadening our experiences (becoming a better specialist) and that each choice has its limitations. While I’m currently a specialist, my brain wants to be more of a generalist to open up more opportunities. What are you?


Glass Gem corn is beautiful

I don’t generally watch SNL but I will for Lin Manuel Miranda!


My heart. Shoreline School District is actually doing right by its students. Thanks to Cloud by way of Nicole and Maggie.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin totally sucks for disenfranchising voters.

Men of all ages move through the world with power and privilege and need to be held accountable for their actions….
Trump’s treatment of women in general, or of Arianne Zucker at her workplace in the video, is not unique to the deplorables.

Ergh, United is making it harder to build your own itinerary. Luckily, we have some insight into how to get around their restrictions. YMMV, of course.

12 months ago I took a survey asking what direction our country was going and if I felt optimistic. I think my answer today would be very different, because win or lose, the poison of the Republican candidate is pervasive. How is it normal that the response to the Arizona Republic’s endorsement would be death threats? How is it so normal that I’m absolutely not surprised?

Sabaa Tahir and Patrick Rothfuss

October 19, 2016

My kid and notes from Year 1.8

Year 1.8 update on the JuggerBaby Pardon my doting

But I adore this child. When ze was first born, the reviews were mixed. Ze looked like me, some said. Ze looked like him, said others. Never mind that, I sighed, how do you get zir to stop crying?

Ze got that from me if you believe the family canon. That and the face. And the fire. That nearly savage defiance is almost certainly from me.

It’s a peculiar thing in my family that certain facial features are incredibly pronounced in the first two to four years. It was long told that you couldn’t tell our matriarchal pack of cousins apart by voice or face comparing us at the same ages, male or female. There are still a few pictures I remember holding up to Mom and even she couldn’t tell which of us two kids it was. It didn’t help that we also shared the same hand me down yard sale clothes. Uncanny really, and the genes hold strong for yet another generation. For now, ze looks like every two year old in my family.

PiC twits me for my “vanity”, joking that I’m just admiring myself. “Sure I do, I’m great. But that kid’s not ME, that’s mini-me,” I retort. But it’s only a little bit true. This child did come from me but other than some superficial similarities I think (and hope) ze is a totally different person. Super finally, ze is far more compellingly attractive than I ever was, ze is brimming with personality and quirks. Where I was sullen, ze is vibrant. Where I was suspicious and shy, ze is curious and inquisitive. Sometimes even charming. Definitely wholly engaged with the world I only wanted to hide from. The whole combines to make a child photogenic in manifold ways. I was, and am, not. Which is ok given my personality, honestly but I wonder how well it’ll serve zir. A dear friend sighed, “Well. Ze will be a beauty, nothing we can do about that.” I had to laugh at that – but we both know that living with good looks can be more an impediment to good character than not.

I don’t recall what my good traits were from that time, other than “finally stopped crying all the time” and “obedient” and the person who might have remembered is long gone. Maybe that’s why I keep these notes. Someday I’ll share them so JuggerBaby might know what a challenge and a delight ze was.

We talk a lot about parenting and what we hope to share with zir. We hope ze has my sense and his way with people. We hope ze has the love of money that I have and the sense of responsibility that he has. We hope ze enjoys life like he did, that ze enjoys being zirself like I did. But that’s the hope we hold through the lens of our experiences.

I know that ze isn’t us 2.0, and zir experiences will be wholly zirs, not ours to retread. I hope we do a good job of supporting and guiding without alienating or enabling. I hope that ze avoids the uglier gifts of my family line. The depression, the bipolar disease, the preponderance of abuse issues. We’ll talk about them, in hopes ze is as well informed as ze can be, and so ze also knows to come to us first if ze has need.

Ze has a whole life ahead that ze will live and I hope love.

Of course, it’s not ALL good

We’ve been having a problem with biting for the past several months.

It started as something ze did for a reaction, for fun. This is how we went from “oh, weaning, maybe around a year or so” to “We’re done, keep those teeth away from me, take your a bottle.”

Let me tell ya, it did nothing good for my fears that ze will grow up into an adult sociopath when ze would grin, bite, then chuckle when you yell OW! Sometimes, ze would be overcome with baby belly laughs, and mock your “ow”: “aaaoohhwwww! heh heh heh heh oooohhhhwwwww!”

… It’s not funny!

Except zir laughter was contagious and ze wins again because everyone’s laughing and ze did it. Sigh.

And mostly ze was biting me so, not a big deal, except teeth happened and it flipping well HURT. Those bites were mainly out of frustration – ze would be angry that I was preventing zir from, say, licking the dog, or throwing a punch, or flipping over everything in sight. Ze would yell, and I don’t respond to yelling, so then ze would zoom in for the kill and chomp down on me. That sucker is quick, too, I know it’s coming and sometimes I still can’t block it.

The laughing at mouthy-biting stopped right quick when the anger biting started, and we’ve been working through all kinds of techniques. Let’s start with what doesn’t work: Saying “no” calmly. Saying NO loudly. Saying OW! Not reacting. Opening zir jaws like ze is a dog, not saying anything. Pulling away. Not pulling away.

What’s worked: NOTHING.

The teachers keep saying this is just a phase and it’ll pass when ze can talk, but in the meantime, I live in dread that ze is going to get zir little butt booted from daycare if ze doesn’t stop biting kids as communication. Generally it stems from an inability to know how to ask for toys, and other kids’ unwillingness to share. We don’t insist they always share but ze doesn’t understand kids who don’t proactively offer to share like ze often does. Ze doesn’t share everything but almost always offers something, and I’ve noticed a shift in zir behavior from willingly offering to being more guarded and refusing to offer since ze has been playing more with these kids. Maybe it’s just a phase they’re all going through, but I’m pretty sure the company has a lot to do with it too since you see zir behavior adapt to the company ze is in.

Parenting skills: boogers boogers everywhere

Everyone I know swears by the NoseFrida snot-sucker. If this works for your kid, you’re clearly blessed by some deity. For MY kid, if you even pick up the thing and look at zir, ze will scream blue-brown-grey-purple murder. It doesn’t matter if ze has lost the ability to breathe like a normal human, that snot-sucker and the saline isn’t coming near zir.

FINE. So I very quickly squish zir nose like I’m pinching it shut several times, gently, and voila! The boogers come out. No fuss, lots of muss, but whatever, the boogers are removed.

We love …


Chase, AKA, I’m a monster, I’m going to get you. If you’re too slow, ze will come back to get you. If you wander off, ze will come back to get you. Mind, you’re the monster in this scenario.

Tickle my toddler. JuggerBaby will shriek with laughter, then say “no”. I always stop when ze says no. Then ze looks at me and points at the tickle-spot: you may resume. Rinse, repeat.

Find my toes. Ze stretches out zir feet, as far as ze can, and waggles zir foot. Where’s my foot? Do you see my foot? Touch zir toe with one finger and ze collapses with laughter.

Where’s my belly button, do you have a belly button? Flip shirt up. Stick head under nearest adult’s shirt to check if they also have the elusive belly button. Check the dog’s belly. Where’s his button?? (Seamus: STOP.)

Favorite book 

Nursery Rhyme Comics, published by First Second. We don’t love all of the nursery rhymes but with 50 to choose from, who needs to? Ze can sit through three read-throughs of this book. Ze loves Three Little Kittens, Three Blind Mice, Pat-a-Cake, Rock-a-bye Baby. Ze is not creeped out by Mike Mignola’s Solomon Grundy but PiC is. Personally, I think Georgie Porgie’s a jerk and I’d have punched him in the nose.

Lunch things: bento boxes

I’m in love with bento boxes, conceptually, and having to get JuggerBaby a new set of lunch gear was right up my alley. You wouldn’t believe the hours of research that I put in to find the perfect lunch set but we’re very exacting people when it comes to buying containers.

Our requirements: leakproof, insulated, stackable, microwavable, dishwasher-friendly, the right size for JuggerBaby’s lunches from now until ze is 5 (aka not too big, not too small, juuust right).

After a few false starts, I happened across the InnoBaby brand. While it doesn’t fit the microwave-friendly requirement, we can work with that because it’s excellent on all other fronts.

InnoBaby Keepin Fresh 15 ozWe picked two InnoBaby Keepin Fresh 15 ounce boxes instead of the smaller 11 ounce snackbox sizes. The smaller ones come with a convenient divider which would be nice but zir idea of a serving size of fruit isn’t your standard toddler size. We didn’t want a hangry toddler wreaking havoc in daycare after an inadequate lunch.

It’s been FANTASTIC. It’s secured by four clips, one on each side, and the metal tray stacked within the plastic box holds in cold or heat for hours. This also means that despite JuggerBaby’s habit of shaking zir lunch like it’s a mysterious Christmas present, it remains intact and non-leaky for the rest of the day.

We’ve sent some good lunches to daycare, if I do say so myself! Certainly better than the hot lunch option they’re providing.

  • Box 1, grapes, strawberries; Box 2, cheesy pasta w/veggies
  • Box 1, banana, hummus and 3 pieces of pita bread; Box 2, fried rice with veggies
  • Box 1, banana, strawberries; Box 2, baked beans and cornbread
  • Box 1, cherries, grapes; Box 2, meatloaf and pasta primavera
  • Box 1, mango, yogurt; Box 3, turkey cheese sandwich

:: What were some of your favorite books to read as a child? What’s your earliest memory?

Swagbucks: Winc

My oenophile friends, this one’s for you.

I’ve given up alcohol almost entirely, it’s rarely ever delicious enough for my taste, but I do enjoy a small glass of wine on occasion. This means PiC either drinks an entire bottle himself (picture bubbles floating up over his head) or we only serve wine when we have company. We collect our good wines as we come up on the holidays or special occasion, but we don’t exactly do a stellar job of picking the best wines.

Swagbucks is partnered up with Winc to offer a wine promotion. Winc sends you new wine every month, or every other month, and when you order 4 or more bottles, shipping is free. I’m not judging if you hit that free shipping minimum but that would absolutely be overkill for us.

The promotion: Your first order earns 2,000 SB, stay subscribed for a second wine shipment & earn an additional 2,000 SB. That’s a total of $40 in Swagbucks if you were already going to buy wine to begin with, and they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee (which is a critical component of this in my opinion).

If you haven’t started using Swagbucks and want to sign up now for this deal, then use this link to get both your first order SB bonus plus the sign up bonus of 300 SB crediting at the beginning of November.

Remember: buy and drink responsibly if this is your thing!

Swagbucks: Freedom Pop SIM card

I currently have a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan which includes international texting and data but we haven’t been traveling internationally for a couple years now so it feels like we’re holding onto that for a premium. We do have a trip on our horizon, though, so I don’t want to give it up entirely when I move from T-Mobile to a cheaper carrier.

This was a compromise I was considering: switch to a cheaper carrier for regular US-based coverage, and then add a FreedomPop SIM for when we travel. I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger yet but here’s a Swagbucks offer for those of you who might be ready for it.

They’re offering a FreedomPop SIM card for $0.99 and your first month of FreedomPop for free. Also, as a nice bonus, you get $5 (paid as 500 SBs).

FreedomPop’s Global 3-in-1 SIM gives you free voice, text, and data in the US *and 25 other counties). Staying subscribed for 3 months means you get an additional 1000 SB.

This deal is good until Saturday, October 22nd.

If you haven’t started using Swagbucks and want to sign up now for this deal, then use this link to get both your 500 SB for the sign-up bonus of 300 SB crediting at the beginning of November.

October 17, 2016

Real Estate Investing: hiccups and the routine things

Real estate investing: I'm on the hunt for a new property managerHas it really been so long since my last update? Whoops.

Things have mostly been going well, but I’m definitely seeing the downside of hired property management. Not that I have a choice, the property is an unrealistic distance from us so I can’t drive over there and manage it myself. But when your property manager’s responsiveness goes down by 55% despite your specifically calling them out for it, then it’s time for a change.

I’m also in the market for a new home warranty company, and a new loan! If possible, I’m looking to refinance since my original interest rate was not favorable at all and I need to bring our monthly costs down.

But let’s start with one thing at a time since I get that “mountain sitting on my chest” feeling from all the things that feel like they must be done NOW.

  • I contacted my broker, and investing friend, to get recommendations for a new property manager. (Turns out that same friend is also considering a change because we use the same person and it’s not just me, the service has been much less attentive than it should be.)
    • The broker gave us a recommendation for a boutique property manager. The fees are pretty high, in addition to the monthly 10% off the top, so I’m thinking about what it is I want and how much I’m willing to pay. I want the kind of hands-on detailed service this manager provides but I have to consider whether my income will bear it. My monthly profit margins still aren’t high enough to cover more than a little over our expenses by the end of the year.
  • I read through some Yelp reviews and sites, and sent an email asking about services and fees, to the one that seemed to be a possibly good fit.
    • They replied the next morning saying politely they were not taking new clients because they have a full docket. That’s actually a good sign, I think, when a company knows how much they can handle well and sticks to it. Not great for me personally but good to know they’re not the sort to just take in as much business as they can get and damn the consequences.
  • My friend is inquiring after a larger company. He and I both came up with their name independently, I’m guessing because it was because they advertise.
    • My preliminary research turned up mixed results. They have all their information up front, which is great, and they state pretty baldly that if you’re asking about the kinds of restrictions you want to put on who gets to rent from you, you’re very likely trying to screen out people based on discriminatory reasons. This isn’t the first time I’ve been told that screening renters based on certain characteristics is really a racially motivated screener, I’m glad to see this company is speaking plainly about what that’s code for. I like that because of their size, they have easy ways for the renters to pay electronically. But I’m not sure that I want to work with a huge company that only gives you a price break after you own 40 units. For one thing, that’s a hell of a lot more than I intend to take on, so I wouldn’t benefit from adding one or three more properties with them the way I would with the boutique manager. For another, while they have the infrastructure to be more technologically up to date, that also means they may not be motivated or willing to consider updating where they’re lacking.

:: If you were renting, would you prefer to deal with a large somewhat faceless company, or a boutique property manager? If you were hiring a manager, which would appeal to you more?

Read more of our experience with real estate investing!

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