Ask the grumpies: kids learning stuff

Sandy L asks:

I still sometimes feel guilt that I haven’t forced my kids to learn an instrument or even the 2nd language I speak with my mommy. They know some but are not fluent. What are your feelings on that? Do you force your kids to do things they hate?

The Official Grumpy Rumblings Parenting Philosophy ™ is that people are going to want you to feel guilty whether you do or don’t have your kids do activity X (or indeed, any activities at all), so do what you feel is best, which may be whatever is easiest for you.

Do we force our kids to do things they hate?  Sometimes!  I suspect DC1 would never ever ever bathe or take a shower if we didn’t make hir.  Certainly not as frequently as every other day.  And there’s things we’ve made them do the initial not fun parts and they end up liking them more later after they’ve gotten better, like cooking for DC1 or the tough parts of Train Your Monster to Read for DC2.

What about the rest of you, Grumpy Nation?  What are your thoughts?

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RBOC

  • On a recent plane trip, I shared a row with the guy partly in charge of food on American Airlines.  I told him I really liked the Biscoff and he said that was one of his programs.  :)
  • Trying to get flu shots for my kids has been non-trivial this year.  I called and the receptionist said only my doctor’s nurse could make those appointments and then I got the voicemail for the nurse which said that if this was about appointments to press 0 because the front desk could make those appointments, then the front desk again refused.  Later that day DH called and actually got the nurse, but she said they couldn’t get flu shots unless they had their well-child appointments for the year (even though they both had them before school this year!), but the first available for a well-child visit was not for weeks and they would have to be taken out of school (and while DH was on the phone, google calendar suddenly decided to have a bug on all our devices throwing back to 2015 and not showing any items for 2017– it worked again on all devices like 10 min after DH got off the phone).  Then DH realized that DC1 is old enough to get a shot at the pharmacy so we all went to the pharmacy.  So I guess DC2 will just not be getting a flu shot this year.
  • DC1 has the same shoe size as my sister now.  I still have another half toe in size on hir, but it’s getting close!  It is a bit crazy how quickly the feet grow compared to the rest.
  • DC2 watched Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar and cried and cried that it was over and there wasn’t a second season and zie couldn’t watch it again for the first time.  I tried Angelic Layer, but zie wasn’t into the first episode.  Right now zie is watching YumeIro Patisserie on youtube.
  • We cleared out a bunch of board books and similar books that DC2 has outgrown (we kept stuff like Sandra Boynton, but not the super easy readers meant only for babies), and now there’s a bunch of empty space in one of our bookcases where we had been keeping the grade K-3 chapter books (which are now in DC2’s bookcase).  I feel a bit twitchy about this.  I’d expected to be buying Spanish stuff from Scholastic (Club Leo), but the teachers never started Scholastic even though they said they would.  I guess they forgot.  :(
  • I CANNOT imagine borrowing money to go on a vacation ever, whether or not I already had a ton of debt.  This is probably the first time I’ve felt that we could probably handle a Hawaiian vacation given our income.  However, I think I would rather spend that money on the kitchen (also political action and charity).  (Plus there’s always that looming question of whether or not my 12 year old car is going to finally give up on us.)  Of course, I can’t imagine borrowing money to renovate a functional kitchen either.  (Borrowing for a car is often a necessity, particularly in areas where public transportation is poor.)
  • Related:  Consumer debt from buying luxuries and choosing to service high interest debt rather than sacrifice spending to pay it down is VERY different than medical debt caused by insufficient insurance from our broken health insurance markets.
  • I have finally abandoned “he or she” or “(s)he” in my technical writing.  I’m still having trouble replacing it with the singular “they” so I’m mostly rephrasing to remove pronoun use at all or to make the they plural.  (On the blog I’m sticking with zie and hir.)
  • DC1 grew a bit more after I typed that third bullet [#2 edits:  bonbon], and is now the PERFECT size for a chin rest.
  • I called about the Dream Act yesterday.  Today is for SCHIP funding.   https://5calls.org/issue/bipartisan-renewal-chip-funding

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What are we getting for people this year?

My sister said she wanted a chef’s knife and a paring knife, so after some conversation, we got her a santoku (Shun), a paring knife, and an electric knife sharpenerThis post of ours really helped me!  I don’t know what DC1 is going to give her this year, but DC2 has been working really hard on a 4 plate pixel hobby with 8 ballet dancers on it (DC1 gave my sister a pixel hobby with a pair of ballet slippers on it at about the same age).

Sadly, the bookstore in my mom’s town just went out of business (as did the Barnes and Noble a few years back), so either I get her a giftcard to someplace half an hour or more away, or she gets an Amazon giftcard.  Aha!  I realized that she’ll be staying at my sister’s around Christmas, so I can get her a card she can use at the half price books near my sister’s place.

For everyone else it has been harder!

MIL:  She started an amazon list this year!  Woooo!  When DH found that out (on the phone on Thanksgiving while trying to pump her for any hint of what she could possibly want) his stress level visibly dropped 75%.  We popped through and got a bunch of “Nanarelated merch (I guess replacing her previous Green Bay Packers theme?) as well as a number of hard-boiled mystery novels.  (My mom runs more towards cozy mysteries, DH’s prefers the tougher stuff.)

FIL:  Now that FIL is retired, he’s spending more time hunting.  Plus he’s making sure there’s plenty of game on the plot of land he inherited from his parents.   So in addition to the Cabela’s giftcard we usually send him, we’re also sending a highly rated game cookbook.

BIL1:  DH is waiting for a game to go on sale so he can get a copy for his brother and his cousin both.  (I assume we’ll also be sending a check to the cousin, but I don’t know for how much yet.)

SIL1:  It is always a pleasure to shop for SIL1 because she has an up-to-date amazon wish list!  And she puts cool things on it!  And she has great taste in books!  This year I’m adding the Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal and KJ Charles’ regency series.

Cousins 1 and 2:  The younger has been learning braille, so we got her a subscription to the children’s braille book of the month club.  (It is pretty heavily subsidized, so we added on a donation.  What a great program.)  This is the first time we’ve known what to get hir!  For the older we’re getting the dragonbox complete math pack and big numbers which is too new to be in their complete math pack.  (Usually we also buy books for their oldest, but he’s already got most of what our DC1 likes.)

BIL2 and SIL2: This one was hard this year.  The past few years there’s been a good excuse to just write a check (a new house purchase, saving for a house, babies, paying off wedding debt, etc.) but this year none of that has been recent or immediate.  When DH tried to pump SIL2 for information on the phone, she was non-committal and said she’d update her amazon wishlist, which she always says and rarely does.  DH suggested not exchanging gifts among the adults with her nuclear family, but apparently she demurred.  I wish he’d just asked her straight up about checks vs. giftcards, but he didn’t.  We do have a bunch of $5 off amazon luxury beauty products and she does have a $20 foundation from 2014 on her list– we could get her that and the pair of $14 earrings from 2014 but that’s literally all that is on her list right now, other than a bunch of size 0-3 month onesies and diapers that will probably not fit either her rising 3 year old or her 5 year old.  [Update:  We got her the foundation and the earrings, and then a little over a week later she actually did update her list so we got her one of the books on teaching she wanted and now we are 100% done with holiday shopping other than that one game that DH is taking care of and stocking stuffers.  Yay.]

Cousins 3 and 4:  SIL did ok us buying books again for her kids (given how many toys everyone gets from the grandparents).  For the older one (about the same age as our DC2), we got Magic Treehouse and Magic School Bus books and the Magic School Bus chemistry kit.  For the younger one, ladybug girl, the Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, Elephant and Piggie books, and Beautiful Oops.

For someone who likes art and lives in Milwaukee

What are you getting for peeps this year?

Frozen link love

Link love is late today because our heater is broken and it is cold outside so it has been hard to get my fingers to emerge from covers, much less the rest of my body.  But here I am!  There’s a sun patch next to the computer that Little Kitty and I are both sitting in right now.

There are a bunch of bad things about the Republican Tax Bill.  Punishing Americans who use public schools.  Destruction of the American social safety net. CALLPROTESTVISIT OFFICES.  FAX.  Do just a little bit more activism than you really want to do.

The media is doing a horrible job of framing this– as a fight between two equal sides.  They should try reporting on the truth instead of treating this like a football game.  Here’s a great thread with  more on the topic of framing.

5 ways to push back against the tax bill from teen vogue

Even the Republicans were screwed from voting on a bill they hadn’t read.  THAT’S WHY WE HAVE REGULAR ORDER!  Because of unintended consequences!!!!!

When the bad guys weaponize outrage.  (He got reinstated)

A killer cop actually went to jail for shooting an unarmed black man in the back.  (Of course, another killer cop just got acquitted for shooting another black man with arms raised high who was pleading for his life)

Dear mens, your greasy demon hands are in time out

This is a lot of awfulness to unpack in one guy.  (Lots of trigger warnings in just one tweet!)

Grad students protest GOP tax hike

From a rally in Reading, PA.

Delayed action prescription drugs can kill even after vomiting up an overdose

Go give Stacking Pennies some ideas on how to help

Cards against humanity redistributes your wealth

Book cover parodies.  Check out 1984.

Read this thread on Max.  Do not let him in the library.

Ask the grumpies: Do summer homes make financial sense?

Sandy L. asks

Summer homes. Do they ever make financial sense?

In the grand scheme of things, probably not.  They’re really not something that I understand at all.  Most people would be better off just renting a place for the small amount of time they use the summer home, especially if that home is not the only place they vacation in each summer.  But people don’t do summer homes for the financial reasons.

HOWEVER, there are some scenarios that can make financial sense.  If you can claim the summer home in another state as your main residence, you might be able to get a break on state income tax.  If you rent out the summer home the 9 months of the year you’re not using it, you may be able to make some $ if it’s in a desirable area (particularly if it’s someplace in CA where property taxes are frozen and you bought years ago).  If you turn it into a B&B/Air B&B place it might make $.  And if you’re lucky enough to buy someplace that magically goes up in value after you’ve bought it, you might be able to sell for enough profit that it’s all worth while (particularly, again, if it is in California).

If you use it also as a weekend home, you might save money over staying in a similar place that you don’t own each weekend.  If it keeps you from jaunting off to Europe on a regular basis, it might also save money.  If your second choice would be extremely high priced rental lodging for you and all your servants, then sure, it might make financial sense.

Those of you contemplating summer homes, keep in mind that federal tax treatment of the mortgage deduction for these may be changing in the near future (getting rid of the mortgage deduction is a good thing economically in the long run), making second homes more expensive to own.

Any experience with summer homes, Grumpy Nation?

Books… in… spaaaaace!

Ok, I was listening to this podcast episode about (what else?) books and reading.  One of the hosts, Brea Grant, is a nervous airplane passenger, as am I.  She says that her secret is to read books that are set in space.  She reads books that let her think she’s not trapped in a small metal tube but rather out in the vasty darkness.  I think this is a great idea.

My recommendations are:

(The standard here might be Ancillary Justice, if you haven’t read it already)

I recommend The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.  The sequel is great, but not as space-ish. Not fantastic: The Ship Who Sang (by Anne McCaffrey) isn’t great art, but it’ll while away an afternoon.

Most things in the Liaden series by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.  There are several places you can start, including The Crystal Variation, and/or Fledgling.

Only a little bit in space, but great: Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi.  Pretty awesome.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty.  Oooh! Murder mystery in space. Page-turner-y.

What have you got, Grumpy Readers?

Our annual charitable giving page

Time to get those charitable ducks in order, especially if you’re not going to be able to itemize under the new tax laws next year.

This year is probably a good one to do the Donor Advised Fund.  We’ve opted not to just because we want more flexibility right now with so much uncertainty, but your situation may be different!

Planned Parenthood : They need us more than ever before

RAINN :  help people impacted by sexual violence

CAIR :  Help Muslim victims of prejudice

Donors Choose (though, to be honest, I think the wobble chairs everyone in my [not poor] town wants are expensive and a waste of money– but there are a lot of teachers in lower income districts that want books and pencils and math supplies)  Note:  I am incapable of clicking on this without donating something.  I am such a soft touch for learning.  Ugh, #2 just sent me another link I had to fund.  Stahp!

WNDB:  We need diverse books!

ACLU :  One of the things standing in between us and fascism

EveryLibrary.org :  Helps political actions to fund public, school, and college libraries

EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) seems pretty relevant right now

Emily’s List:  Help pro-choice women Democrats get elected to office!

Previous posts:  2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, (we have a couple posts in 2012 on charity, but I’m not finding a holiday one), 2011, 2010

Grumpy Nation:  Link us up to your favorite charities!