So… many… toys…

#1:  we still need to do a bunch of stuff before the party tomorrow… like get plates and cups and forks and make cupcakes… and candles
DH is like… can’t we just reuse the ones from hir real birthday? (They came in a pack of 4)
Um.  NO.

Oh lord, we’re going to get so many gifts… argle.  DC doesn’t need any more toys.  I understand why parents love the books

#2:  keep a running list of who gives what and regift to anyone except that kid!

#1 : yes
so much effort though.  If only Toys for Tots was sooner!  There’s always the Goodwill closet.

#2:   YES.  And who knows, maybe someone will move to your neighborhood or department with kids that need toys.

#1:  there are a lot of kids, but I don’t think anybody needs toys.  I think we all have too many (in terms of the neighborhood and department) (not in general)

#2:  maybe you can make a blog post calling for an end to the madness in children’s gift giving.

Next year: Convince DC (s)he wants a book-themed party.  Then probably (s)he’ll get a lot of books.

#1:  we have all the books ever written

#2:  if teen relatives get pregnant, send them the extra kids’ books.

#1: we’re good at regifting books
but you can’t do “no gifts” because most people bring gifts anyway, and then the few people who don’t bring gifts feel like crap (speaking from experience as a rules follower) (we did bring a food item)
and you can have a book exchange or something but that’s pressure on the parents to buy a specific thing that may not be easy for them to obtain on short notice

#2:  try some sort of wording like “DC is really into art supplies so please bring a related gift and help hir use them all at the party!”  Then they take the art projects HOME with them afterward.

#1:  yeah, the problem with that kind of thing (miss manners doesn’t approve) is that folks can’t use their own regift closets, they have to go to a store etc.
We decided no restrictions was the most polite thing.

#2:  “DC is really into helping in the kitchen.  For your gift, please bring your favorite recipe for hir to make later and a story about why you love it.”

#1:  that doesn’t work because they bring a recipe AND something (AND it’s a lot of work for the parents).  Except the people who just bring recipes– they then feel like crap.

#2:  I suck at this game.  People suck.

#1: I sucked too.  You have to experience these alternatives to understand why they don’t work first hand.

#2:  sigh.  sometimes I hate this culture.

#1: yes. I don’t think IBTP for this one though.  I blame mass consumerism or something.  And it isn’t like we don’t like gifts.  We love gifts.  But there’s just so much stuff, it’s overwhelming.  If the in-laws weren’t so generous this wouldn’t be so much of a problem.  This is such an upper middle class problem to have.  I hope that DC is super generous and gives unopened things away when (s)he’s older to people who don’t have so much stuff.

#2:  Yeah.

#1:  UPDATE:  The Toys are AWESOME.  (S)He is going to get to keep them all because I want to play with them!

Gentle readers:  Do your children get inundated with presents?  Have you figured out a polite non-intrusive way to stop the madness without hurting anyone’s feelings?  Or do you just give in and play with the cool stuff yourself?

Our February Challenge Decisions and more

February is the best month for month-long Challenges.

We here at Grumpy Rumblings have decided upon two challenges: one for each of us.

#1 is going to do a boring challenge.  She will write for 30 min for work each and every day, including Saturdays.  There will be no failure.  No excuses.  (Barring things like hospitalization, of course.)  The hope is that after 28 odd days of that, going back to 5 days/week will seem easy.  Hope.

#2 will be doing the Steampunk Challenge.  My plan is to read 3 steampunk books during February (maybe ambitious?) and post brief reviews of each.

#2 is also considering doing different challenges each month.  These are instead of New Year’s Resolutions because I feel capable of keeping each one for a month, but not for a year.

Jan.:  Figure out list

Feb.:  Steampunk

March:  inbox zero at work

April:  Floss at least 4 times per week every week

May:  write every day for 30 min., without fail

June:  Eat less junk, more veggies (#1 suggests joining a CSA)

July: get-a-handle-on-my-money month

Aug.: TBA

Sept.:  Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night!

Oct.- Dec.:  TBA

Hm… #1 is intrigued by this idea, but is not sure that she has enough willpower.  Except for floss.  #1 is totally up on the flossing every night, but she does that already.  She’s awesome that way.  #1 is going to have to make a decision at some point about whether or not she’s going to go back on metformin this year and begin the long slow vomitty process of getting her body ready to reproduce, which would mesh with #2’s June goals since #1 has to eat like a perfect eating person in that situation.   More on that in an unfinished post that will probably appear sometime in March.

Links for the Last of January: And note to Dr. Crazy and Historiann

Please fish us out of your spam filters:


(Thanks to Worst prof ever and CPP for fishing us out of theirs!)

Update:  Thanks Dr. Crazy!

And now for links.  It seems like this week had been much longer than a week!

Check out Lindy Mint’s new pantry door.

An old one, but new to us.  Just being caught in the work your passion thing can cause you to be less happy.   (Thanks to single mom rich mom and her comment on First Gen American)

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance at living richly on a budget.


First Gen American on what kind of posts to posts.  We at grumpy rumblings tend not to want to post on our specific subject areas because we feel like we should get paid to do that.  We totally post on things that we are not the proper authoratiee (misspelled intentionally– emphasis should be on last mis-pronounced syllable).

An interesting discussion from FSP on politically correct speech.  We are in favor.  And we BTP.

Funny stories on candidate dinners from Bardiac (check the comments!).  Also a great followup post by Historiann, who, incidentally, does not show our brilliant and witty comments on her site as they go directly (we assume) to her spam filter.  (She may be purposefully deleting them, but we’re assuming spam filter.)  If only there were some way to get her attention so we could rejoin the conversation…

We suspect that Dr. Crazy went on a date and that it went well.  We wanted to congratulate her, but could not.  Very sad.  Well, congrats here!

Everyday Tips on home renovation.

Squirrelers with a great post on opportunities for and cultural expectations of girls.

I’m so tired!

Conversations from the re-entry the other week:

#1:  Where did break GO?  All of a sudden it’s teaching and students and meetings job candidates and running running running and I didn’t get my R&R in before classes started or the grant proposal and I have yet another referee report due… And so much pressure to do so much stuff.

#2:  Dear semester, I hate you so much.  It is the second day of classes and already I have an icky virus.   Please go die.  Most sincerely, #2.

It seems to be some kind of mild flu, is my best guess.  I have a very slight fever, a very sore throat, misc achings, and general craptacular feeling. (N.B.: I even got a flu shot!  I blame my students.)

#1:  that sucks
also sounds like what everyone here had over break

#2:  well I hate it
especially since I have 2 classes tomorrow, one of which is long.  But it won’t kill them to get out super-early.
It hurts to talk and I might lose my voice.

#1:  my students got me off track so many times that we ended on time instead of early
they’re like, “Time for ‘off the record with Prof. #1‘”
all the wild students I had last semester are taking this section with all their wild friends
I’m guessing we will get through the material much faster in the other  section

#2:  just ONCE I would like to teach Class X when I am NOT deathly ill.  JUST ONCE!  Class X makes me sick, apparently.
JUST ONCE can I teach this ONE CLASS when I’m not sick.
I can manage to teach OTHER classes without getting sick… I think that’s one reason I’m disliking the course so much.  I’m always sick when trying to teach it.  Ugh ugh ugh.

#1: patpatpat
students are evil vectors
you’re in a germy Skinner box
press the Class X button and you get sick

That’s us.  How’s your early semester going?

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  • Kitties and chimneys don’t mix.  Luckily, Little Cat was better about getting a bath than Bad Kitty.

  • DC refuses to eat anything with MSG in it.  Good baby!  Boy I’m wishing I’d realized the bad lunch food I had had msg in it before eating what I did.  MSG headaches are no fun.  (#2 has never had one.)
  • Shoe update:  Went to the city to buy DH’s chair (he got a top of the line Aeron, after trying nearly every chair in the city and suburbs for comparison).  Called up or visited all the shoe shops that carry NAOT.  None of them had my size Rahina in stock (though they could all offer me the shoe that I already own!).  My regular store even said that they’d just put it on sale and completely sold out.  Dang nabbit.  I did try some of their other shoes and found the Trendy to fit, but the store only had it in kind of tasteless gleaming black.  Some of the other shoes I looked at in NAOT were too narrow so those were out.  So I dunno, I’ve taken this as a sign that I need to hit the outlet mall in a couple of weeks for some cheaper Bass loafers.  Too bad my current black shoes are Stonefly and have a weird water sole, otherwise I would be very tempted just to take them to a repair shop.  Why is this all so hard?
  • Shoe update #2:  Took the afternoon off and hit the outlet mall.  They had ZERO black loafers in my size in the entire mall.  Plenty of brown loafers in my size.  And plenty of wrong-size black loafers.  But nothing even *as* comfortable as my current several year old stoneflys which are not actually all that comfortable anymore.  I don’t know what to do next.  Maybe it’s time for Zappos.
  • I’ve noticed some of my male colleagues and coauthors keep trying to get me to do their work for them.  Good thing I’m lazy and good at standing firm and not volunteering.
  • Best thing about being a grownup:  The ability to go into a bakery and say, “I want one of each of these cookies.”
  • Worst thing about being a grownup:  The inability to eat all the cookies you just bought because it’s bad for your health.  Dang it.
  • Sometimes it takes an anonymous person on a forum to get a parent to listen to what the kid has been saying for years.  Yes, Vanguard funds are awesome.
  • DC LOVED hir observation day at kindergarten.  (S)He spent the car ride to the outlet mall trying to convince us to let hir start the next day instead of waiting to September.  On top of that, the teacher said there’s another little girl with a birthday the same month that they’re letting in early next year. She said they don’t usually do this (and this might be the first time they’ve had more than one kid advanced in the same year), but the little girl is in their preschool program and really needs to move on because she’s so advanced, just like our little one.
  • See that quote on the side by Arnold Lobel?  We’re currently in love with his Frog and Toad series.  We’ve got Frog and toad both on CD, read by Arnold Lobel, and in book form as a Christmas present from my mom.  DC begged to go to B&N to get the Frog and Toad book that didn’t come in hir box set but was on the audio.  So we did.  And picked up his Mouse Tales too.
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Hacking my work habits Part ?: The CD method

Boice is really into working in regular dedicated stretches, punctuated by short breaks (sort of a time reward).

The problem arises, of course, when either you really don’t want to work so you keep wasting time checking the clock, or you get into such a flow experience that you don’t take breaks and end up burning yourself out.

Some people set up timers.  I’m not crazy about that because ticking is annoying and alarms drive me nuts.

Now, the following method doesn’t always work, and Boice would totally not approve… but…

Here’s my CD method.  It’s simple really.

First a disclaimer:  Boice says not to listen to stuff while you’re working.  In like controlled randomized trials or something people think music helps but it actually doesn’t and it actually hurts or something.


Find a cd that’s about the length of time you want to work.  Put the cd in.  Play it and while it is playing you must work and not surf the internet or otherwise occupy yourself with things that are not work.  When it stops, you take a break and do all those things you were avoiding doing because you were working instead.  If you really have to use the restroom or drink some water when you get up then you have to pause the cd while you’re doing it and turn the cd back on when you get back.

Some people find classical music to be easiest to work along with.  For me, I get the best writing in with a capella.  When I’m seriously hardcore about writing I listen to The Kings Singers A New Day.  I just totally associate that cd with writing now.  My partner used The Crow soundtrack in high school, actually one specific track from The Crow soundtrack (“They keep CALLLING me,” he would sing off-key to his headphones), but now he prefers the dissonant sounds of Brassy.  Thank goodness for headphones, is all I can say.

What do you listen to while working?  If you don’t listen to anything, how do you keep yourself focused while you work?

Can adults keep children civilized?

Growing up was pretty much a free-for-all Lord of the Flies situation.  There was  lots of teasing, general meanness, some racism and homophobia, and lots of exclusion.  Until I was embarrassingly old I didn’t understand why one girl was always calling me, “queer” instead of, “weird.”  (This was the same girl that would yell I stuffed my bra when I wasn’t old enough to be wearing one, so I wonder about what her home life was like.)  Like Mean Girls but without the happy ending… or perhaps with the happy ending in high school.  Exclusion started as early as age 3, since that’s when my memory first begins.  (And tattling about it would get the tattler punished!)

At DC’s preschool there’s none of that.  The general rule is that kids are allowed to want to be alone, but they’re not allowed to exclude other children from playgroups.  Occasionally DC will report that L doesn’t want to play with T but T also doesn’t want to play with L even though they both want to play with DC… this usually ends with a teacher (and now DC) telling them they should all play together, or T going off with her other friends or L going off with his.   I have NEVER heard anyone call anyone anything worse than, “Noodle” and only in a hilarious nobody is sad sort of way.  (“You’re a noodle!”  “Well, you’re a noodle doodle!”).  Boys and girls play together.  They comfort each other when they get hurt.  They apologize for inadvertently hurting each other.  They trade and take turns and share.  All of this in the standard language taught by every teacher (except a couple of the new mean ones) beginning in the infant room.   Are they just good kids?  Or is it good supervision?  Or that they have better things to occupy their little minds with because it’s a good Montessori?  (Idle hands are the devil’s playground… that’s sort of the moral of many of Jane Austen’s books, Emma especially.)

Not all daycares apparently have as nice kids as my kids’ does.  I don’t know if you recall but one of the resolutions last semester was to meet more people in real life, preferably those with kids DC’s age who live in the neighborhood.  We were really excited at Halloween when we met a big group of little kids DC’s gender who all have weekly playdates.  DC hit it off with one of them (a year older, just like all hir friends from daycare) and hir mom put us on her weekly playdate calling list.

It didn’t work out.  We went.  The ringleader kids in the group took to calling DC, “poopy-butt” and told hir they didn’t want hir to play with them.  DC has never experienced anything like that and was shocked.  (S)He just didn’t understand.  The mom who had invited us told DC that they just weren’t used to hir and they would warm up and that they call each other poopy-butt all the time– it’s just their way of including people and they picked it up at their daycare.  (Very different from our, “That isn’t nice of them.  People should not exclude other people and should not call each other poopy anything.”)  After two more playgroups in which DC got more and more excluded, they stopped inviting us and we haven’t called to get back in the loop.

Bullying has been in the news a lot, especially with respect to rampant homophobia.  With the new online methods of bullying it seems easier to make kids’ lives miserable than ever.  The existence or lack of respectful behavior and empathy can start on the playground.

Can adults keep children civilized?  With enough supervision and training can we create nice kids?  Should we?