September 19, 2017

Just a little (link) love: hay-bear edition


The Atlantic on why women are supposedly terrible to each other in the workplace. I think a huge part of this was described accurately by  Kelly Sue DeConnick in one of her SDCC talks. Women aren’t stupid – they don’t want to be associated with a weaker or subordinate group and they’ve internalized the prevailing misogyny early on so they tend to respond by trying to set themselves apart from other women. Obviously if you know that women are considered less than, why would you do anything but highlight how you’re not like them? Women can learn to shed that patriarchal gullshit and understand the power we can have, though and I can always spot when a women has or hasn’t shed those attitudes.

The manufacturer of Epi-Pens continues to behave horribly. This time they’re called out by the FDA.

Have you talked to kids about money? Emily had the “bank holds your money” talk with Little Bit

Are you emotionally prepared for a bear market?

I don’t usually listen to radio show clips but this one piqued my curiousity. The UK shop John Lewis decided they weren’t going to label clothing with gender anymore, which I think is great because how about you let us decide what’s right for ourselves, and this caller expresses concerns about “bowing to political correctness” with about exactly the kind of reasoning you’d expect from that response. James O’Brien rather deftly gets the caller to actually think about what he’s whinging about for a second.

Marshmallows aren’t likely to fix low-income kids’ real problems: “We demonstrated that expectations matter—a lot—in the marshmallow test, and that it’s not all about self-control. This shows that children’s decisions aren’t driven by inherent ability or inability, as Mischel and colleagues suggest. The behavior is driven by the forces of evidence and expectations.

We should not waste time and grant money trying to train self-control, nor should we commit to the implicit judgment behind these studies—that kids who fail to wait for the second marshmallow are inferior.


September 18, 2017

Living spaces: how much and what do you need?

Once upon a time, and as recently as this spring, I wanted a house with at least five rooms: three bedrooms, an office, and a library. Maybe four bedrooms. Wide spaces, with room to stretch your arms out wide and wiggle your fingers. Then to race the dog down the hallway and see who successfully skids to a stop before slamming into a wall. Dreams of a country girl.

Thus I confess, occasionally I get bitten by the jealousy bug when friends buy a 5-7 bedroom colossus on a 10,000 square foot lot for much less than our down payment.

But the reality of our lifestyle (low-key, low-energy, focused on financial freedom) doesn’t line up with the commitment of such mansion style living. And just as important, the reality of where we’ve chosen to make our lives means that we’d pay dearly and be mortgaged forever and a day if we were so very expansive when we finally found our next home.

On the lower end, the average price per square foot ranges from $500-700 hereabouts. On the higher end, I’ve seen $900-1000 per square foot.

At these prices, we would be giving up our dream of being financially free for a house.

Now, if ever there was a hermit who could flog down that cost per hour-lived-in, I’m your daisy. It took me two and a half years of working solo before I even considered it might be a good idea to see people occasionally. Maybe. (No.)

Thankfully, sense and a bit of luck prevailed – we didn’t paying our maximum bid on the purchase, but we surely paid enough that I’m simmering some ideas on bringing down the principal, stat!

Even at that cost, we didn’t get the sprawling ranch home with a moat, and carriage house (and murder holes) I fancied.

We’ve maybe 1400 square feet. It makes up 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a wee sma office. I have and would give up a lot for the balance of comfort and safety (physical or financial) of my family but if either of us ever have any choice in the matter, two bathrooms is a must. No coveted laundry room, unfortunately, nor my wished-for piano or library.

In short, it is enough room to live in, grow a little, host a friend or three temporarily, and grow old together without fighting over whose turn it is to clean the sixth bathroom.

We have a lovely bit of yard where I can have micro container garden adventures, and Seamus can sun his bones. We splurged on the Fancy Stove for my cookery and a bench for my bath because it’s every day now that I’m too tired to shower. PiC got to pick all the design and color elements so that this is a home he’d be proud of, though it was never designed with showings in mind. That’s why, though I’m proud of the work we did, I won’t be sharing pictures. We were making our home, not a showcase.

I have mild pangs of regret thinking we should have held out for something a touch bigger, a few more amenities, a few less compromises. But PiC is confident this is what we need and I trust his judgment too. Besides, what a wreck I’d be if I had to build my dream library during this very small window of time we had to work on the house!

Anyway this is all luxury, in the end. I grew up poor in Southern California so space to myself still feels like an amazing thing. A whole house for just my family is like the icing on the icing on the cake.

  • Age 1, our family of four shared a 2 bedroom house with four other families.
  • Age 3-12, our family of four shared a 600 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment on and off with single family members. We had one room, they had the other.
  • Age 13-17, our family of four lived in a 1300 square foot house with three dogs.
  • Age 17-now, our family of four, then three, then two, were in a 1500 square foot house with three, then two, then one dog(s).

Now we’re a family of three humans and large dog going from 1000 square feet to 1400 square feet, with enough room to comfortably lodge our rather frequent visitors.

PiC’s probably right, this is the right place for us. We were told to only list three Must Haves and we ended up getting 15 of our 20.

We can make this work!

:: What’s your living space minimum/ maximum? What are your dealbreaker amenities? 

September 14, 2017

Just a little (link) love: owl pets edition

How blind auditions help orchestras to eliminate gender bias

I still think it’s amazing that Maggie can literally fish for her supper.

Boosting creativity and problem solving by goofing off  I happen to know this works, this is why I switch to mindless tasks when I can’t focus. I know it’ll come back later if I don’t force it.

A Navy SEAL on ten things to focus on to “inspire your children and grandchildren to become everything that they can”. Respectfully I personally disagree with the first one because the act of getting up from the bed is my huge accomplishment of the morning. Making the bed is meaningless energy expenditure.

It has to be safe to say that this letter writer’s friends STINK to high heaven. Who forgets that their friend went through a bad divorce? And SAYS so? Or implies that their wedding is more important than said divorced friend’s financial or emotional wellbeing??

I can empathize with some of the views in this article. I don’t consider us wealthy in the absolute sense – we couldn’t have bought our new place this year without help and I didn’t have any plans to do so, for example – but we are in some ways wealthy. We have two good incomes right now though it certainly isn’t near the neighborhood of the folks interviewed ($2.5M income? Holy moly), we save a steady percentage of it even while living in a HCOLA. We pursue the creation of wealth but still want our child to learn to live a normal existence with choices and sacrifices. If JB ever says “great vacation but next time we (fly private or otherwise do what the rich do) like everyone else”, I will feel that I’ve failed to raise a decent human or gone terribly wrong somewhere.

Thoughts on “gaydar”– is there really such a thing and how does it work?

Excerpts on the all girls remake of Lord of the Flies, this is brilliant.

Turns out, birth order doesn’t mean anything. I think I knew that since I’m the youngest and my older sibling is a trainwreck.

Such a cute owly

September 13, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.6

My kid in Year 2.6 IT ME

Someone has developed self awareness.

(JB: Me!)

Me: Someone ate all my crackers.

PiC: Someone doesn’t have the-
Pic: -best hand-eye coordination.

PiC: Someone’s made a mess here.
JB: *proudly slaps chest* ME!


Sometimes JuggerBaby gets so frustrated by a no, or life, that ze gets rude, sulky, and throws things. Now, being frustrated is normal. That happens. But ze isn’t allowed to throw things in anger – it’s hit me, PiC, or Seamus in the past and that hurts!

Ze requested goat pictures and a book and conditional permission was granted: after ze got socks and shoes on. For some reason, probably impatience, ze was struggling and got mad at the socks for not just getting on zir feet. The socks went airborne, and the goat pictures were forfeit.

My voice got quite level and stern, “you’ve lost goat pictures, the book is yours to earn or lose.” The shoes went on the wrong feet, then the right feet, then, “may I have goat pictures, please?”

“No, you threw your socks so that means no goat pictures today. You have your book.”

“May I have goat pictures, please?”

“That’s a good ask but the answer is still no. Remember throwing your socks?”


“That’s why you can’t have goat pictures now, throwing socks is not ok.”

“May I have goat pictures please?”

“No, but tomorrow you can try again, without throwing socks. If you do, then you can have goat pictures.”

“Oh. Ok.”

Freedom and sleep shenanigans

We didn’t have enough going on, so JuggerBaby thought it’d be HILARIOUS to climb out of zir crib and fall overboard with the loudest thump you ever did hear.

SpiderBaby this kid is not.

I soothed zir and back to bed ze went, but softy that he is, PiC decides to release zir from the crib the next day, converting it into a toddler bed. Ze really is getting too long for this small crib but it’s “home” and ze will fit for a while longer.

Honestly we could have released the wee beastie months ago but ze was content and so were we.

Now, though. Now ze has had a taste of freedom. And ze is a mixed up pile of not knowing what to do with it. One night, ze insisted I stay in the room with zir. So I did, and ze caterwauled for 15 minutes before dropping off to sleep. Another night, ze kept trying to snuggle with me which was cute but awkward. I hide my illicit phone activities under a blanket but when the toddler insists on being Big Spoon and then pops up with a “what doing, mama?” every couple of minutes, ze is bound to catch me in the act of blogging or emailing.

Most nights involve a little chasing back to bed. The novelty of being able to slide out of bed physically, not just sitting in the cage stalling for time, is a delicious heady brew and ze can’t get enough of it.
But mama has her ways. One night I shrugged and said I’d sleep in zir bed, then. “No! I sleep own bed!”

Another night I stood watch at the door for a few minutes listening to the giggling and in zir amusement, ze forgot to make a break for it.

Occasionally PiC intervenes but I often shoo him away. He takes every single wake up, every painful morning, without fail so I insist on sticking to my end of the bargain. Night calls are my calls.

It’s a mixed bag, honestly, but we’ll see if ze settles down soon, for good.

After naps it’s like ze forgets the prison door has been unlocked, and hollers for Daddy repeatedly. When I show up at the door, ze asks: may I get out?

It’s a slight improvement on when ze would holler for me, specifically to tell me: I want daddy.

Really? You called me in here ten times to go get daddy?

Yes. Daddy please.

Dietary development

Something weird happened this summer: salad became desirable! It started when we shared a Costco Ceasar salad. Ze has an obsession with dipping foods in sauces, and lettuce into Ceasar dressing was a match made in heaven. The next dinner salad that was served turned into a greens massacre, leaving us adults with only salad toppings and frisée to eat. Frisée being, as any civilized being would know, not nearly green enough.

Brain development

The contrast between this month and the month ze turned two is unbelievable. At that time, I thought we were DOOMED. Ze was irrational, demanding, and melted down at all possible provocations, including breathing the same air as ze was breathing.

Now, though ze has moments of frustrations or even tantrums, a semi reasonable child is about five minutes away with a bit of space and even tempered handling. Of course if you get cranky and snappish, it escalates, and boy howdy does it escalate. And of course when we’re tired, that’s exactly what happens until everyone is cranky.

Precious #parenting moments

Me: Put on your pants.
JB: I can’t.
Me: Why?
JB: My hands broken.


JuggerBaby snuck out of zir room in the middle of the night, cackling. Spun around to run back in, full speed into the door. BAM!!!

I laughed so hard that ze laughed, too.

It’s pretty clear that JB has inherited the Complete and Utter Klutz gene from me.

:: How did you learn that actions have consequences? Do you remember changing your mind about any particular food that was previously anathema? 


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