Link love

Theology and Geometry had her baby!

how many of these have happened to you?  Definitely more than one here!  Insecure men outraged that smarter man recognizes sexism and apologizes to women.  Someone was stupid on the internet.

My mom says this article makes more sense than any other ACA article to date

Fascinating article on Whole Foods in Detroit.

What do you do if your grandma is a murderer?

Cultural appropriatation in the birthing community.  (Though I will maintain that the zipper pocket makes my super-expensive ring sling worth the extra money!)  Our Babies, Ourselves has a section on baby-wearing around the world and throughout time, and is a great read.

On having said racist things.

Only after a man called Bill Cosby a rapist did anybody listen.

Oh Slate, why ya gotta be so addicting sometimes?  Honest trailer for The Little Mermaid.  It’s not your kids holding you back, it’s your husband.

So the huffington post directed me (via a clickbait headline) to a mommy-blog and I was all, I wonder what the GOMI people have to say about this blog given that huffpo linked me to it, it must say something.  And my first hit was this forum page that has some really good points on it that make me feel less crazy, you know?

The seriously troubling racial history of that Kim Kardashian Champagne Shot.  And that photographer is a serious racist.  Disgusting.

This pretty much sums it up.

Not surprising, but still.

baby groot!

Live kitten cam!

Apparently Barbie can’t do it.

Cool alternative to advent chocolate.

How to explain papers in a non-academic interview.

How could anybody say no to this?

Why stock picking is a losing game.

 

 

Ask the grumpies: Potluck dishes

Debbie M. asks:

What’s good for potlucks?

Spinach balls! Pasta salad.  Casserole?  Cookies.  Cake.  Rolls.

This is a hard one for #2– lately I’ve been bringing things like “soda” and “cups” to pot-lucks.  It’s not that I don’t like to cook, it’s just that I don’t have the time or that’s what I’m assigned.  I think the last pot-luck I was assigned to bring Pocky.

One pot-lock I brought a chicken pate thing that nobody ate at all.  It was delicious later with my RAs, but sad at the time.  (#1 has tried this recipe and ATE IT ALL UP!)

My Swedish rose cookies are always a hit (butter cookies with a thumb-print of raspberry or strawberry jam in the middle).

If asked to bring a salad, I will often make champagne salad , which was my mother’s potluck standard.  It’s kind of like a healthy ice cream, for some definitions of healthy.  I make it with whipped cream instead of cool-whip.

#1 is too tired to cook most of the time, but I generally try to bring something I’d like to eat; something easy; something that’s ok at room temperature; or something I had lying around anyway.  Ain’t nothing wrong with bringing a store platter of hummus, pita, cheese, grapes, etc.  I can barely get up the motivation to cook my OWN food sometimes!

Golly gee wiz, I just don’t know.

Grumpy Nation:  The potluck season is upon us.  What is good for potlucks?

On preschools and biting: Part 2 — what works

There are lots of reasons that kids bite.  Many of them relate to developmental exploring our senses things and teething, particularly with early biting.  This post isn’t focusing on those– this post is focusing on biting for behavioral/emotional reasons.  Feeling bored.  Feeling frustrated.  Feeling threatened.  Not knowing what else to do to get what you want.

We bought a couple of books.  One of them is really good, On Biting.  The other one, The Biting Solution was less so– the advice basically boiled down to, here’s some questions to ask… then figure out your own solutions with the kid’s help.

The thing about biting is that generally it really is a symptom that something else is not going well.  Same as any kind of conflict.  Treat the underlying problem, not just the symptom.

In DC2′s case there’s a couple of things going on.  The first is, well, let me quote DH here:

Environment:
Many RI and some RII children are very possessive.
Several RI children use physical violence as the first response to any issue, including biting, hitting, kicking, grabbing, and pushing.

Conflict resolution:
The teachers handle all problems the same way.  They lecture the aggressor, almost always using phrases that emphasize how the teacher is sad about the action.

Result of current methodology:
The victim learns that other kids will try to take things from him/her, and must develop a response. Typically he/she becomes more protective/possessive of things. Since he/she is observing/experiencing physical violence, quite possibly that becomes his/her future response.

The aggressor learns that the teacher is quite regularly sad, and that the other kid gets to have something he/she wants.

If the teacher didn’t see the start of the issue, she often treats the more angry child as the aggressor and the more sad child as the victim.  Sometimes that labeling is incorrect and both the aggressor and victim learn that physical violence can work.

The second thing, that we found out recently, DC2 is a bit bored.  When there’s more to do and more to play with and more interaction, there’s less time to get into these kinds of scuffles and any one toy isn’t as important.  I wouldn’t have thought of this, but it’s in the book and the current temporary solution addresses this issue (temporarily) even if not the lack of conflict resolution.

I hate the way that so many things about this parenting thing have forced me to become an expert on things that I’m not trained in.  I shouldn’t have to know more about PCOS and infertility than my big-city OB/GYN (I’ve had better luck with my small-town docs!) and I shouldn’t have to learn more about biting in a group childcare setting than someone who has been running a daycare for over a decade.  But there you have it.

How to run a daycare:

Culture

In a good daycare, culture will be consistent across classrooms.  Instead of relying on the teachers coming in knowing what they’re doing, a good daycare will train the teachers in the culture of the school.

At DC1′s first school, they had property rights.  Whichever kid was playing with a toy would get to play with it until she was done.  If another child wanted to play with the same toy, he was encouraged to trade toys.  If the first child didn’t want to trade, then she didn’t have to.  Those were the rules that everybody followed.

At DC2′s second (religious) school, they focused on sharing.  If a child wanted to play with a toy that another child had, he asked politely.  Assuming that the first child hadn’t just picked it up, she would say, ok, and then hand it to the first child.  A teacher would praise the interaction in the background because yay sharing.

In both of these cases, the teachers were consistent across all rooms and all ages and the kids trained each other.  It was amazing seeing little hellions start at the school and turn into angels within a week.  (And new teachers go from being completely lost to being completely in charge!)  Because culture is strong.

When we asked at this current daycare what their culture was, the director told me, “taking turns” which means that when the second child grabs the toy from the first child, the teacher is supposed to say, “It’s not your turn yet” and then wait and remember to give the toy to the first child when it’s that child’s turn.  She admitted that usually by that point the second child had forgotten if the teacher remembers.

When I asked the assistant director, she said no, taking turns wasn’t what they did, it was sharing.

When DH asked the teachers, different teachers gave him different answers.

In any case, none of them are actually doing what they say they’re doing.  There is no method for sharing/trading/property rights other than violence.

Spreading culture

In a good daycare, not only will there be training from the director and from lead teachers, but teachers will work as floaters (an additional teacher or substitute teacher) on a regular basis and occasionally switch rooms.  They’ll share playground time.  They will train each other and help each other.  The director will also float on a regular basis.

What they should do

There are a number of different options for dealing with conflict.  The best stop conflict before it starts and makes each conflict that does occur into a learning experience so that conflict is less likely to happen in the future.

When something happens, they should talk with the victim first.  They should engage the aggressor in the discussion as well.  They should explain why the action was wrong, not just that it made the teacher sad.  And, importantly, they should talk about the alternatives to physical violence.   What should the child have done instead?  If there’s a good and consistent culture at the school, the child will know the answer to this question.  If not, then the school needs to decide what the answer is going to be and start teaching it.

As we said before, the best thing is to keep conflict from happening in the first place.  When there’s a strong culture and kids know what they’re supposed to do, that helps.  So does that 6th sense that many great daycare teachers have.

Here’s DH again on conflict prevention:

When a child starts to get frustrated, the only responses being used are redirection or lecturing. Redirection is not being done with engagement, but more like just shoving the child off in a different direction.

The teachers are not seeing problems before they start.

And on communication:

“Use your words” is a fine phrase, but being more specific is more educational.  Teach children gestures and words to help them communicate. The 18 mo room teacher, for example, does a good job teaching kids how to handle issues with other kids.  She teaches them body language and phrases.  “Stop”, “no”, (hand up palm out).

There should be no discrepancies between what is told to parents and what is actually done inside the classroom.  Directors and teachers and kids should all be on the same page.

So where are we now?  Well, we visited a few more daycares and got on the waitlist for one of them, a new Montessori where two of DC1′s former teachers are now teaching.  The director said all the right things and believes in continuing education for the teachers and has Montessori certification.  It’s a bit more traditional Montessori than we’re used to, but the culture of the school seems to be good and it seems to be conflict free from what DH saw.  There will be slots available in both the 2s room and the 2-3 year room in January.  It’s also very close to DC1′s school so we’ll be back to only having to do one set of pick-ups and drop-offs.

In the mean time, the current Montessori requested that we move DC2 up to the next room (I’m guessing too many other parents complained).  All of the kids in the new room are 6 mo to a year older than DC2.  The teachers are still not perfect, but they’re a lot better.  Instead of constant Lord of the Flies behavior and screaming in the morning, DH only counted 4 incidents of violence in the 90 min period he observed when DC2 was transitioning.  The kids are mostly better behaved.  (DH related a fun incident this morning– the bully in the room kicked down another child’s block tower, and the morning teacher told the child that she could make another block tower and kick it over herself, and then all the kids there turned to the teacher and told her, “No!  We don’t kick toys!” So maybe some cultural training going on in the new room.)  The teachers are more alert and more cuddly and excited.  DC2 hasn’t bitten since ze was moved.  (The teachers do not seem to have been informed that they shouldn’t praise DC2′s intelligence in front of hir, despite conversations with the director who said of course it would never happen.) DH suspects DC2 will get bored of the room before ze ages out of it.  We think this solution will work until January, but we’ll definitely be moving then.

Update:  related post from Wandering Scientist

Update 2:  Yesterday when I picked up DC2 (which I do one day a week) when I walked through the I room on my way back to the playground there were about 8 kids and no adults in the room.  I waited for the teacher to return (with a child who had just made a break for it) and on my way out told the director that there had been no teacher in the room when I went through.  Before I made it out of the parking lot, the director came out and told me that it wasn’t the teacher’s fault, a kid had made a break for it, she hadn’t been gone any time at all, it was a parent’s fault for leaving the door open, etc. etc. etc.  And I said I’d just informed her because I thought she would want to know.  And she said that she was just telling me that it was a safety issue and that’s why the teacher left the room and it was just for a second, and I said that they should have better systems in place so that a teacher wouldn’t have to leave the room. And then she asked what I would suggest, and I suggested having/calling for a floater, or opening a door and letting another teacher know the situation, and she said that she could tell that something wasn’t working for me and they’re doing the best that they can and that if I was having problems with them I should set up a meeting.  The conversation only ended when I got out my phone to call DH.  I’m pretty sure they will be glad when we’re gone.  But I couldn’t say anything then because we can’t be gone until January.

What are we reading? Throw-back edition.

Sometimes this century is just too much and we seek out popcorn from the past.  Not, you know, classics, exactly, but good stuff that is enjoyable to read and gives a nice snapshot of popular literature of the time.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes– technically this one might be considered a classic, I mean, it was sort of made into a Marilyn Monroe movie (though not really– the book is soooo much racier, despite the lack of a strip-tease).  (Also the main character is a bit racist, but she’s a bit a lot of other things too, and it’s portrayed in a way that the actual author seems to be condemning the casual racism, but still, FYI.)  Don’t know why it isn’t available on kindle anymore, but your library is pretty likely to have a copy.

Dinny Gordon, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior.  These are good.  On the surface they’re silly YA fiction from the 1960s, but there’s a subversiveness to them.  Junior year is especially enthralling.  (Hat Tip to Girl Historian for recommending them!)  Worth checking to see if your university library still has them.

We Shook the Family Tree.  A comic memoir, similar to those by Jean Kerr, though not quite the same.  I used to read these kinds of books by the pile back when I was a kid after I discovered the non-fiction comedy section at the library (after running out of children’s books and being too young for a lot of the SF/Fantasy/Mystery adult books).  I have no idea where I got this paperback… I wonder if it once belonged to my mother (unlikely because she doesn’t tend to keep paperbacks) or if I actually picked it up myself at a used bookstore (also unlikely because I don’t tend to buy things that aren’t SF/Fantasy unless it’s an author I already know).   Maybe it was nestled between Richard Armour and Jean Kerr and I impulse-bought it.  It’s a mystery.  In any case, it was a fun light romp (and kind of funny how the heroine complained about having a thigh gap– only they called it being bow-legged back then!)

While reading We shook the family tree, I decided I was curious about Hildegarde Dolson, and the Wikipedia article made her seem even more interesting.  I’m always a sucker for long-lasting, late-in-life romances.  Anyway, her husband was a mystery writer (a widower) who wrote mystery novels with his wife before she died.  Well, I had to try some of those.  Annoyingly, our uni library has ALL of them and all of the Dolson books, BUT it won’t check them out.  If I didn’t have work or a family I would so park myself in that reading room and just read.  They also have a complete collection of SF/Fantasy paperbacks that doesn’t circulate.  Forget the museum.  I want to be locked into that room overnight!  (I may have to ILL One Lady, Two Cats… you know, for research purposes– or just buy it off amazon). They did have a few random circulating copies of things though, so I ordered neither the first in the series nor the reputed best in the series … and I liked them.

The Lockridges have two main series, one about a couple named Mr. and Mrs. North who are pretty similar to Gracie Allen and a less sarcastic George Burns, if Gracie and George solved crimes, and the other about a police inspector named Heimrich.  The two books I got out, Murder is Served and Spin Your Web, Lady, were both pretty good.  Though definitely products of their time (1947 and 1948)– in Spin Your Web I cringed a bit at the pregnant lady getting drunk and even more at the treatment of a mentally disabled character, and some other stuff that would give too much away if I stated it here.  Both open with really entertaining slices of life– the former gives us a scene at a high class restaurant, the latter puts us in the mind of a somewhat sketchy university extension professor.  I think I’m going to grab more by these authors.  And One Lady, Two Cats is definitely on my amazon wishlist.  I also wish I had some Perry Masons, which are easy and fun popcorn novels though not quite as wholesome as the tv show.

#2 is reading lots of frontlist right now (especially from the library), but on the backlist I’ve recently quite enjoyed Fay Weldon’s Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen.

 

Come at us with some throwback-reading love, readers!

My New Mantra

There are many reasons why I quit my previous job.  Among them: teaching was eating at my soul.  Eventually, the job made me physically sick and I hated it, and it made me be a mean person.  Even now I am still purging toxicity from my soul and come off as angry when I talk about that place.  (gotta work on that!)

There was nothing wrong with GrumpyMe 1.0, but it’s time for patches and upgrades.  One reason that I put off leaving for so long was that there are things I love about academia and didn’t want to give up.  My wonderful partner, though, pointed out that I could actually improve on the job situation by finding a job with more of the things I like and less of the stuff I don’t like.  He pointed out that, instead of giving up my academic identity, I could actually become the thing that is now my new mantra:

A BETTER VERSION OF MY WORKING SELF.

Some of the ideas about how to be a better working Me come from when I thought about my ideal workday.  (Awesome side note: in that post I said that at last year’s conference I had met a new friend/collaborator and talked with her about what we could do together.  At this year’s conference, we presented that research!  Our paper is under review.  Hurrah.)

I don’t know yet what kind of bug patches and upgrades I will eventually find.  (I do know that it involves never ever teaching ever again.)  I do know the things that give me energy, those that make me lose track of time (learning something new!  reading books!).  I know that I can’t stand cubicles.  I have optimism about finding something decent.

In working towards a new, research-based career, I have been networking pretty hard.  Recently I had the pleasant surprise that, when asked to list up to 5 references in a web application, I found myself with 9 or 10 people I could list as references who would all say excitedly good things about me, and I could choose among them.  Go me.  Only … uh… 9 years post-PhD and I’m getting good at my career!

Do you have a work-related mantra?

Link love

Lotta links this week.  We had to make up for last week by reading the entire internet.  Lots of good videos too!

Calling all writers– Cloud is starting a publishing company!

Listen to your body clock.

Metaphors again.

Sartorial advice for landing  a spacecraft on a comet.

Argh of the day.

Framing love?

First day of marriage pics!

The problem with positive thinking.

I want a box of ham.  A tower!  Oh heck, just go and read all of these. Who knew that a comic about breaking cat news could be so long lasting and hilarious.

How to save the post office.

Anne Lamont is the coolest!

Tiny Iron Man.

#feministprincessbride

DC1 is enjoying the program mentioned in the comments.

Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago all score 100. These are my people.

all the kittehs!

Let’s hope this never happens to us

Bad advisor suggests places to donate (instead of to her).

That could be why.

10 ways to help out in Ferguson

Holy blackout batman! surely there are enough mosquitos for all?

From the Littlest professor

Why Millenials aren’t saving.

Generation X is tired.

Medieval doodles

Yes on all of this.

What would Victoria Beckham do?  And what are you proud of?

Lotteries don’t really fund education.

Sometimes the onion is just depressing because it is so true.

The truth about job growth.

Is Airbnb worth it for landlords?

Tampons in ancient Greece?  (spoiler:  probably not)

Ear wiggling kittens drinking milk from bottles.

Gamergate tries kittens, fails.

Coffee is the meaning of life.

Ok, with this last too many cooks thing, you have to keep watching *after* the point it becomes boring and irritating.  Only then does it turn hilarious.  (I turned the sound off for a little while and that helped.)

 

Ask the grumpies: IRA limits and 401K limits?

Katie asks:

I just started a new job in which for the first time, my employer offers to match my contribution to retirement.  I already have a personal Roth IRA, and I’m trying to untangle contributions limits, etc.  I know the total amount you can contribute to all Roth IRA accounts is $5,500, but does that also include the employer contribution?  E.g. If I personally contribute $5,500 to both accounts and my employer adds their contribution, will I be over the limit?  What about contribution limits to a Roth IRA versus a traditional IRA?

To our knowledge, your employer shouldn’t be offering to do anything with your (personal) IRA.  Also to our knowledge, the IRA limits are completely separate from your work contribution limits.  The IRA is an individual retirement account.  Your employer will offer a 401(K), a 403(b) or a SIMPLE IRA.  Wikipedia has a nice table comparing 401Ks to IRAs.

So if your income is low enough to max out the personal IRA, you can max out the IRA and your 403(b) and your 457.  You have separate limits for IRA vs. 403(b).  If you have a 401K, those limits are the same as for the 403(b).  Here’s a table with the number limits.   In 2014, the limit for employee contributions is 17,500.  You would also be able to add the full amount to the IRA on top of that.  (And if you have a 457, you can add 17,500).

Employer contributions limits are different than employee contributions.  Wikipedia says that the employer + employee limit for 2014 is the lesser of 100% of your income and $52,000 [update: corrected-- it doesn't look like they can do 52K and you can do 17.5K... again, talk to someone who knows these things if you're in this situation].  Where it might matter what you do is the income limits– if you make enough money you may not be able to contribute to a Roth IRA or get any tax credit for a traditional IRA.  In that case you could put money in a traditional IRA and then back-door convert it to a Roth.

If your employer is offering a SIMPLE IRA, then you can contribute up to $12,000 in 2014 and your employer can contribute either 2% of your salary or match 3% of your salary, with a cap of $260,000 for 2014.  You would still be able to max out your personal IRA on top of whatever you do with the SIMPLE IRA.

Standard disclaimers apply– we’re not tax attorneys, talk to real experts, etc.  Probably the best people to talk to about this stuff are the relevant HR people at your place of employment.

Addendum from Katie:

I have a personal Roth IRA which I began some years ago and as a graduate student, I was never eligible for any benefits or to receive matching funds from my employer.  Now I have started a postdoc, and am eligible to receive retirement benefits.  My employer offers a 403(b) Savings plan and a 403(b) Roth.  I would prefer the 403b Roth because I would rather pay taxes on the smaller, present amount, than the future, larger amount.  I know, however, that there is a limit to the amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA.  So my question was in several parts I guess.  One, what is the difference between a 403b Roth and a Roth IRA?  Two, is the contribution limit applied individually to all Roth accounts, such that you can contribute up to the limit to each account, or does the limit apply to your contributions to all of your Roth accounts added up together?  And three, are there differences when the account is a personal one versus an employer account?

The Fidelity rep informed me that the limits apply individually to each account, so I can contribute the maximum to each if I could afford it.  I’m still unclear, however, on what the difference between the types of accounts and how personal accounts differ from employer accounts.

Think of the 403(b) as a bucket and the individual IRA as a different bucket.  You can fill either bucket with Roth or traditional funds in any mix (subject to income limits you probably aren’t hitting as a post-doc), but the 403(b) bucket will only hold $17,500 this year and the IRA will only hold $5,500 this year.  (Next year you get slightly bigger buckets).  Only your employer can give you the 403(b) bucket, and you need to be making at least 17.5K (otherwise they can only give you a smaller bucket).  You need to make at least 5.5K to put money in your IRA bucket.  If you are making more than 23K/year then you can legally max both out (though you may want to do things like eat).  I’m not sure if you’re allowed to max both out if you’re only making 17.5K/year (as in, can you double count the 5.5K).  I doubt many people are in that situation since most people need to say, eat.

Roth just means, as you noted, that you pay taxes now and not later, whereas traditional means you lower your taxable income for this year but have to pay taxes on earnings in the future when you will hopefully be in a larger tax bracket.  Roth vs. Traditional doesn’t mean anything for how much you can save (at least in the first order sense, you can actually save slightly more with one of them because of how taxes are taken into account, but it hurts my brain to think of which one… in reality it isn’t as important as what tax bracket you think you’ll be in in the future compared to now).

 Does that answer your question?

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