March 16, 2017

Just a little (link) love: Grocery helper edition


Enter for a chance to win a stay at Duns Castle for you and 20 guests. Plus, five runners-up could win a HomeAway® vacation. (They have 2+ million unique places to stay.)


I’m an honorary Indian! Yay! Thanks, Mrs. BITA!

You’re used to me doing pressure testing here all the time, have you done your own?


Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why – observing behaviors of whales makes me happy.


Behavior first, or neuronal activity first?

Learn something new every day. I had no idea that altitude affects your sense of taste. Then again, I’m willing to accept a fairly low quality of food because it’s only recently that I noticed airline food wasn’t that good.

Amanda’s Trail in Oregon: We have an awful history of treating Native Americans about as inhumanely as is possible to conceive.

I am the child of immigrants. When I see immigrant families torn asunder because we as a nation lack the heart, courage, or creativity to come up with a better way to deal with immigration, legal or not, I feel so utterly we’ve failed as people.

Grocery helpers

Swagbucks: Spring Reading Team Challenge

Sweep in spring with the Swagbucks Spring Reading Team Challenge!

1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team. You can pre-register starting tomorrow: Friday, March 17. If you haven’t joined yet, you can sign up on this page as well.

2. Starting March 20th at 8am PT, in addition to earning SB, you’ll contribute points to your team’s total as you complete activities.

All members who participate and contribute at least 400 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card.

If you earn 300 SB before April 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus if you joined the team using my link.

The 1st place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 25 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 3rd place team will receive a 10 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be available on Friday, March 24th and expires on Sunday, April 9th 11:59 pm PT.

March 15, 2017

My kid and notes from Year 2.0

My kid in year 2.0

The Age of Un-Reason

Leaps and bounds

JuggerBaby hit age 2 with a blast of temperamental mood swings and sudden skills developing. A week before zir birthday we were still prompting, “More, what?” “Mo’ milk.” “More milk, what?” “Chz.” “Say, ‘more milk, please'” “CHZ!!!”

The day after, ze strung it all together handily into nearly civilized dinner conversation if you ignored the rice and curry dribbling down the side of the table, and the curry in zir hair, splattered when ze gesticulated with an excess of emotion: “Mo mik, chz!” “Mo wice, chz.” “Tant you, mama.” “All done!”

More phrases: “No, mama eat!”
“Gigi (Seamus), nom!” (Seamus, come)

Literacy (almost)

Ze is pretending ze can read more frequently, making noises that mimic reading as ze taps each page of the book “ah eh oooh ah ah oooh, eh eh eh.” Then ze looks at me expectantly. It’s still unclear if ze wants applause or follow-up reading. But here’s the sort of amazing overnight change: ze has a play alphabet set from my aunt and ze went from knowing where to place the “A” and the “Z” one day, to placing all the letters with confidence the next day. This is after months of playing with the letters, chewing and licking them, and getting the placement wrong 98% of the time.

I’m going to assume that the tantrums are associated with these leaps in skills and not what we can expect for the whole year.

Parenting skills

Toddlers mimic everything you do. Some parental behaviors for infants, therefore, are completely inappropriate if your goal is to nurture a toddler who isn’t a giant bully. At a gathering with friends and their kids, ranging from six months to three years, I noticed the infants’ parents grabbing things out of their hands quickly without a second thought. That’s because infants lick and chew everything. But a toddler is watching what you do, so if you grab things out of their hands routinely, this reinforces their already uncivilized propensity to grab whatever they want out of other kids’ hands.

JuggerBaby still gets into everything but thankfully ze doesn’t immediately shove it in zir gob every single time so I can be more relaxed and strategic about my responses. When ze dug into my bag of chargers and cords, rather than scolding and snatching them away, ze was directed to clear the mess. Always happy to have a task, ze helped me organize the cords. This is a 180 degree difference from how ze “helped” me at nine months (and I have the pictures of the utter wreck of a room to prove it).

Bargaining. JuggerBaby used to exercise rudimentary bargaining skills, learning to offer trades to get what ze wanted, but ze sprang a new level on me the other day.

Normally our bedtime routine is strict: dinner, bath, books, bed. But I deviated by looking for a song from daycare on my phone and ze asked for a different song when our search came up empty. It was a treat but then ze tried to push zir luck for more. “No, that was one-time treat, we’re not watching more videos.”



“Please?” + the baby sign for please.


“Ears?” Gesturing at ears.

This is a restriction I often place on listening to music on my phone: “radio-only” or “ears-only” when we are playing and ze wants music. I don’t like zir to be glued to a screen all the time. It was a clever offer – it was a compromise I was tempted to accept. But no, I’d rather we didn’t get used to using the phone as a bedtime crutch. I had to congratulate zir for being clever enough to think of negotiating terms, though. It was much better than going straight to a tantrum.

Things we bought

I was not planning to spend more in 2017 than we did in 2016. We bought formula, childcare, diapers, and a minimum of clothing. Then surprise! We were given a list of Must Haves for zir transition to the next age group in daycare. It turns out you swap bottles and formula gear from infancy for active kid gear in toddlerdom. Initially I was annoyed but most of them make sense.

Of course, I didn’t buy everything right away. We had a few weeks to get it together so I made the most of my time: did some research, scoured sales, compared new to used prices, used gift cards when I could.

Bike helmet

Daycare has tricycles in the play yard, it seems a shame not to let zir participate and, with any luck, gain some sense of coordination.
The problem is that zir head is still too small for standard kid sized helmets, so we had to spend more than I wanted to on a much smaller helmet.

My target budget was $20, the helmet we ended up with after some research on safety and fit was $27.50.


Rain boots

This makes sense, ze should be able to splash about even if it’s wet, and shouldn’t have to go around in wet shoes and socks all day.
We hadn’t gotten any rain boots because we live in drought-bound, foggy California, and it seems silly to get seasonal gear for a season that usually lasts 2 and a half days in three months. I talked to friends with kids first to see if they had any outgrown rain boots lying around, but no one did.

After seeking advice from a friend with twins, who confirmed that it was perfectly fine to buy the boots in sizes too large so they last more than a year, we visited REI to see if they had anything on clearance.  Ze tried on a pair three sizes too big for a test clomp (size 9) and LOVED it. Ze was able to get around, but they were a little TOO awkwardly oversized, so that was helpful information. We don’t want to send zir into the rain to twist an ankle! REI wanted $90 for the boots that were rated for freezing and snow weather, which is much more severe weather than we’re likely to be in, so we passed on that pair.

We bought this pair in size 8, only 2 sizes too big, from Amazon for $13.76. I had a $2 promotional credit from this offer (buy a set of 3 gift cards for $3, add at least $10 to each card, get $2 back per card), plus a $2.55 credit from a promotional credit they’d screwed up on an earlier order, bringing the total down to $10.06 after tax. That’s less than what I was seeing boots listed for, used, so I’m satisfied with that price.

Update since buying them: Ze is in love with these boots, and we’ve had an unusual amount of rain this year, so the cost per wear is already down to dimes per wear! That makes me feel much better about buying them.

:: When did you learn to ride a bike / trike? Were you a reader, growing up? Do you remember being read to by adults?

March 13, 2017

What are your home dealbreakers?

On the trail of a likely home: Shh! We're huntin' houses!We’ve been going over our priorities for a new home for weeks now. There are the obvious ones: near public transit, in good school districts, walkability score, safety.

Then there are the personal things: I don’t want anything with stairs, my joints need to avoid that kind of daily up and down. He wants something facing east.

What’s tough is that this market is unnerving and bizarre. Most listings are in contract within 7 days of the open house, if not sooner, typically sell for  20% over their list price, and it’s not uncommon for them to go for more than that.

It’s such a seller’s market that we’re at a huge disadvantage making offers against people who have oodles and oodles of money. We can’t make an all cash offer, and we aren’t willing to go into a multi-million dollar loan. In some ways, it’s a good thing. We simply can’t be tempted to buy too much house! (And who wants to clean 5,000 square feet of living space??)

I looked into foreclosures but they’re priced just as badly, well north of $500K, and the buyers would have to take on the property as is. It’d be one thing if I were healthy, we can learn to be handy, but since I’m not, and we’re not renovation experts, that’s out.

We’re seeing some trustee sales which mean there’s less information available, but that doesn’t stop people from buying, and some are even buying sight unseen before the listing agent has a chance to host an open house!

Speaking of weird, I’ve even seen houses renovated without things like full showers or ovens. What? Who completely removes an oven from a kitchen? These Bay Area people, I don’t understand them. Who puts in a shower so narrow that I’d be claustrophobic in it? I’m tiny, and can fit into some bizarrely small places, but those showers are scary. Then there’s the places with almost mini-fridges. I think that’s an old timey thing, when fridges weren’t the monsters they are today, but we need our fridge space. We’re big eaters, here!

It’s strange, I tell ya.

The other half of my work this quarter is getting our place ready to sell, which means going through all kinds of disclosures that we’ll have to declare (nothing major, a few dents and scratches), and learning what sellers are required by law to declare.

One of the disclosures stood out to me: sellers must declare whether there’s been a death in the home in the last three years.

Would you be bothered if there had been a death in the home that you intended to buy, assuming it was because of natural causes?

I’m not sure if it would bother me, but I’m not sure we can afford to be picky about that, either 😀

As PiC said, “what are you gonna do when you’re bringing a knife to a gun fight?”  (Me: “Bring TWO knives!”)  We are enormous dorks.

Edit to add information people have shared on Twitter

Death doesn’t seem to bother anyone but you have to actually asked if meth was ever made in the home, they aren’t necessarily required to disclose that, and you can still get sick even after it’s been cleared out.


:: Would you consider a home that didn’t have a built in stove, oven, dishwasher, or fridge? What would you be willing to give up? When’s the last time you had to go home-hunting?


*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

March 9, 2017

Just a little (link) love: Giraffe baby edition


Enter for a chance to win a stay at Duns Castle for you and 20 guests. Plus, five runners-up could win a HomeAway® vacation. (They have 2+ million unique places to stay.)


Are you a workplace candy dish supplier? Many of the reasons shared here are reasons why I am emphatically not – but I keep secret candy for those in distress.

Dental/orthodontia: Would you fix your teeth as an adult?

How risk averse are you?

I love this new statue on Wall Street and what it represents


Nurturing your happiness portfolio, with Mrs BITA. I spend quite a lot of effort / time doing this very thing, to counteract the stressors in other areas of my life.

I would do this. Alexa, stop eavesdropping.


On parenting: “We do not need to make our children’s childhood magical. Childhood is inherently magical, even when it isn’t perfect. My childhood wasn’t perfect and we weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but my birthdays were still happy because my friends came over.”  Yep, we couldn’t possibly match the magic of growing up in a world afresh, experiencing so many things for the first time, why try to duplicate the natural wonder that’s free with cheap (or expensive) toys?

Bagels and trains and a brawl. Only in the U.K.?

While I knew intellectually that chronic illness management was challenging for women of color, I never fully grasped what that looked like in practice.” These attitudes were partly why I didn’t get a proper diagnosis or care for about 15 years of debilitating pain.

Giraffe baby meets the herd

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