link love

Bardiac with two very thought provoking posts on class and the limits of our experience.  Much better, we think, than the Charles Murray dreck that inspired them.  (No, we still have not forgiven him for The Bell Curve.  When our students stop quoting it, then perhaps we will forgive him.)

Speaking of racists with poor comprehension skills, jezebel has an interesting article on people’s immediate racist reactions on not realizing that the characters in a book they loved were *gasp* black until watching them on the big screen.  Totally stolen from quesera.

Wandering Scientist goes into more detail about the comment we griped about in a recent RBOC.  One note:  we have a deliberately controversial post coming up in April on the need to have a clean house.  (NOT on whether or not  a clean house makes you happy, specifically whether having a messy house makes you unhappy.)   Also, #1 hates goat cheese with a passion and does not mind if you feel sorry for her about that, but at least she doesn’t have to deal with goat cheese every day!

A simple little post answering the work more/spend less conundrum from fabulously broke in the city.

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

Google Q&A

Q:  why those people always judge others people??such a hobbies??or what?..

A:  They’re bored and have nothing better to do with their time.

Q:  is being called miss patronizing

A:  Depends on the circumstances.

Q: what can you say when a waitress calls your husband “honey” or “sweetie”?

A:  “Husband, let’s move out of Georgia.”

Q:  does formula milk make babies largr ze?

A:  Yes, the growth curves for formula fed babies (AAP) are different than those with breast-fed babies (WHO).

Q:  what to say to a grumpy girl

A:  “Would you like this chocolate ice cream?”

Q:  if i pay off house, do i still pay mortgage?

A:  No.  That’s kind of the point.  You do still pay taxes and insurance and any HOA fees.

Q:  should k-12 students be required to have three month vacation

A:  No.  In fact, 3 month vacations have been shown to be especially detrimental to those with low SES.

Q:  hey nice car how much did your parents pay for it

A:  My father got it for free in a settlement in which the company said they wouldn’t fire him if he would quit and he said he wouldn’t sue them if they settled.  (That was about 15 years before it was handed down to me.  The car company doesn’t even exist anymore.)

Q:  will i ever want kids?

A:  Maybe, maybe not.

Q:  whjat to do when kids are cranky

A:  Feed them.  Then suggest they go to sleep.  If not sleep, then at least send them to their rooms and tell them they can come out again when they’re ready to behave themselves.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 7 Comments »

Blub blub blub

We’re underwater and dying with end of March deadlines.

How are you?

Night training

Our then-four-year old (almost five) still needed a diaper at night, despite having been mostly day-trained since ze was 2.  (We still get the occasional accident in conjunction with a growth spurt… I imagine these will continue.)

Every morning the cloth diaper or pull-up or diaper would be heavy and soaking.  DC would toss if disposable or put into the laundry if cloth.  (This was a bit annoying to me because prior to ending cosleeping DC was completely night trained– never ever peed when asleep from birth to almost age 3!  Always peed first thing upon waking up.  But moving to hir own bed seems to have granted deeper sleep.)

The bulk of the internet says it is impossible to night train.  The bladder will get big enough one day.  But maybe use cloth diapers so ze feels wet.  When diapers are no longer wet, you switch to underpants.  For those with bed-wetting which is different from not yet being night trained there are fancy devices that ring when the bed gets wet, but in general, the recommendation is just to wait.  The other part of the internet suggests limiting water for several hours before bedtime and waking them up at midnight to drain.  I don’t like the limiting water part because I wake up thirsty, and figure DC shouldn’t be kept from listening to hir thirst.

One of my colleagues said they’d been in the same situation and she just put them in underpants and within a couple weeks her kids were night-trained.

So we told DC we’d be trying an experiment over winter break, and it might work or it might not work.  We went to Target and picked out new sheets and new mattress pads and a pack of those plastic pads for the incontinent.  We explained that DC should tell us if ze had an accident and we’d change the sheets etc.  We moved hir water bottle to the bathroom to make sure if ze got up to drink ze also drained (ze was not happy about this change after the first night).   For the first few nights DH did night wake-ups.  It didn’t seem to make a difference, was killing DH, and caused some bizarre screaming from DC who apparently reacts the same way as hir mommy to unexpected wake-ups.  So we stopped that part.

Night 1 there were two major accidents.  DC told us.  We thanked hir profusely for telling us.

Over the next couple of weeks we alternated between big accidents and just slightly damp underpants, as if ze peed a little bit and then realized and stopped.  Occasionally DC told us proudly ze had gone to the restroom.

And then no more accidents (watch!  Ze will have one tonight!  Because, as our department secretary says, “they’ll make you a liar every time.”)

Would ze have trained on hir own in those two weeks without changing to underpants (the true counterfactual)?  I’m skeptical.  It seems more to me that hir body gradually learned to avoid having accidents and having to wake up in a wet bed in a way that having a wet diaper never bothered hir.  Even if the internet disagrees.

So I dunno, I think my colleague was right.  Sometimes you just need to try something and it will work out.

Have you ever just tried something and it worked out?

Schooling update: Spring Semester

I was looking through blog posts I wrote last year about DC’s schooling dilemma.  It’s crazy to think how much has changed since then.

At the time, DC was in preschool, all hir friends were heading to kindergarten (almost), and hir (quite excellent) preschool had run out of things for hir to do.  They suggested that DC become a teacher’s helper the next year as hir main activity.  At home ze had whizzed through all the magic treehouse books and done increasingly more math.

We were worried about DC’s increasing perfectionism.  DC slept very little (~7 hrs/night, no nap) and was bouncing off the walls while awake.  Ze was even starting to have little behavior problems of the type that a child trying to entertain hirself often gets into.  I read approximately a zillion books on giftedness for solutions to these problems, and they were pretty unanimous that starting K early would be the answer for our situation.

So we looked into schools in the area and decided on the one that called hir in for a second round of testing after ze passed the first kindergarten entrance exam.  They suggested, based on the testing, that DC start K a year early and spend half the day in first grade for math and reading.

Several readers had concern about the acceleration.  Were we destroying DC’s childhood?  What about when ze got to middle school or high school or college.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  And you know, there was that one kid who was accelerated and ze was WEIRD, so obviously acceleration (and being weird) is a horrible thing.  [Note to people:  Correlation is not causation.  That kid would have been weird ANYWAY, and probably would have been perfectly normal surrounded by kids who were more accepting of differences instead of by assholes.  Oops, were we projecting again?]

DC has flourished this year.

The perfectionism is gone.  The first grade teacher is a miracle worker.  DC is no longer afraid to try things ze doesn’t know right away.  Ze comes home with the occasional 80% exam and grins and tells us what the right answers should have been, and ze knows that now.  Ze tells us ze will get things.

Ze is learning things and excited and tells us all sorts of interesting science and history and theological and mathematical ideas.  We discuss lines of symmetry and ze stumped me on a parallelogram (they don’t have a line of symmetry!)  Ze love love loves school and learning.

At school DC has practiced the things ze didn’t want to practice at home.  Hir printing looks a lot nicer than mine did as a second-grader.  Double-digit addition is no problem.  It’s nice being able to pick and choose to only do fun stuff at home without being limited by what DC can write or compute.

DC now sleeps 9 hours per night on weekdays.  (Still less than that on weekends, but what can you do?)  That extra grown-up time is wonderful.  At home ze is so much calmer (again, not so much on weekends unless we get that hour of exercise and hour of thinking in).  We don’t have to do homeworkbooks on weekdays because DC doesn’t need extra thinking to help hir settle down, just on weekends.  (So we’ve greatly slowed the pace we’re getting through Singapore Math, and I am fine with that.)  We don’t think this is just getting older– when the 1st grade teacher was gone for two weeks, DC started reverting to previous behaviors.

All reports tell us that DC is an angel at school.  So far ze has gotten two “yellows” all year (every other day is “green”).  One for rolling off hir mat during naptime (during the horrible 2 weeks that the first grade teacher was out with a family emergency), and once for leaving the room without permission (“I didn’t know what that meant”) to go to first grade early.

All the kids are pretty well-behaved and DC is something of a pet among the older grades.  They love to ruffle hir hair.

Socially, DC isn’t even the youngest in hir class.  Though, as always, ze prefers spending time with the older children.  Hir best friend is a 6 year old who moved here mid-year and goes with hir to first-grade for half the day.  DC likes to use the word “noodle” in place of everything and hir best friend has played along and decided to be a meatball.  The V-day card was adorable– to Noodle (picture of noodle) From Meatball (picture of meatball).

Of course, all has not been smooth sailing.  The school has sucked hours upon hours of our time and thousands of our dollars in donations.  The headmaster is afraid of numbers but also can’t let go of control… and most recently has quit (long-term a good thing, short-term a bad thing).  The board is weak and also not so good with numbers.  In fall, the school came out with press announcements that it was going out of business unless they raised 500K (the actual number needed turned out to be closer to 400K, and would have been less had they been capable of cutting anything that the finance committee suggested cutting).  Because of poor management going forward, we opted not to give them the second installment of the large donation my father had offered.  We’re still not sure if the school is going to be around next year.  The finance committee told the headmaster she needed to come up with a bare bones budget that ensured the school would be around next year without assuming an increase in students.  Instead, her budget assumes an enrollment increase of 20 students.  That isn’t going to happen.  And it isn’t going to happen because current students cannot recommend the school to their friends if they don’t believe the school is going to stick around next year, which they could believe if the head had listened to the finance committee.  This is why not being afraid of numbers is so important.

The first grade teacher will not be returning next year.  She wants to get paid more than 23K and to have job security.  We’re bummed about this.  The replacement teacher, the current 2nd grade teacher, has a good reputation and DC would have been spending half the day with her anyway.

So we filled out the form next year, and would have put down the deposit had it not been waived.

We’ve looked into a local preK-6 Montessori and we think this will be a good option if the school does go under, assuming we can get on the list quickly enough.  (And as members of the finance committee, we may get insider information in that respect.)  They’re on board with DC starting in the elementary room as a nominal first grader next year (rather than K with the 3-6 room), and they are completely self-directed and have materials up through standard 8th grade.  I love their New Math curriculum (combined with more traditional Singapore math workbooks).  You should have seen me drool over their units on math with different bases. The main problem with them this year was that they closed at 2:30, but for the first time ever next year they’re adding an after school program until 5pm.  Which is still cutting it close, but since the Montessori turns to be very close to my work it should be ok so long as I do pick-up.  (Sadly, it is far from our daycare Montessori for #2!)

Starting in public school kindergarten next year cannot happen.  That much is pretty obvious right now.  Going back to a year of learning letters and numbers and colors after this would be frustrating for everyone, especially in a large class with a lot more kids with very different needs from DC’s.  Heck, it would have been frustrating for this year!

Did we make the best decision (or at least a good enough decision) based on our options?  Unequivocally yes.  All the things people warned us about with acceleration would probably have happened had we not accelerated.  Instead DC fits in well, is challenged, behaves well, has friends, and loves school.  This year has been a good one for hir, and by extension for us.  The sacrifices we’ve made have been worth it, though we wish we would not have had to make them.  We hope the school is still around next year, but all we can do is one year at a time, one month at a time, one challenge at a time.

Fie on the residents of [state].

So I got my credit card stolen by dorks.

I went to a place for a conference.  Six weeks later, my CC called me.  When we checked the charges, sure enough, the ones they suspected were fraudulent totally were.  Whoever stole my number (I still had the card itself) tried to pay for advertising on Google and Facebook.  There was no way I would ever do that.

A few websites tried to run multiple transactions for like $1 to see if it would go through.  Also another place tried to charge something, but when asked to verify my identity by Visa they got it wrong.

They suck.  Now I hate [state] even more, though I had a pretty good time when I was there.  The people seemed nice (little did I know).

Of course there is the usual rigamarole of cancelling the card, getting a new one, re-setting-up my automatic bill pays, etc.  Tedious.  [State] is full of morons and I hate them.

Disclaimer:  #2 has never gotten her cc hacked in [State], despite having been, but she and her partner have had that experience in London and in a much beloved state in the Midwest.  And the physically cc stolen twice in Boston.  Stupid Boston.  Also once in California.

Have you ever gotten your cc hacked?  How about your bank account?  What happened?  What did you do?  Do you take any weird steps to prevent it?

link love

Love and disdain talks about opportunity sets.

Eco Cat Lady talks about turning a feral outdoor kitty into a pet using a heating pad.

Leight PF explains the pros and cons of ETFs vs index funds.

Windy City Gal explains what’s up with wordpress comments.

Delagar talks about rereading l’engle.  She was my first science fiction, unless you count James and the Giant Peach, which is really more fantasy.

We continue to love Scalzi.  Here’s why he’s glad he’s a white heterosexual male.  We’re glad too because when people like him say things, people listen who wouldn’t otherwise.

We would like to tell Academic Cog to fly like the wind, but we can’t because blogger won’t let us.

Laura Vandekam talks about false dichotomies.

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

Ask the grumpies: What do you say when people in public say your kid is smart or shy?

Ree asks:

I would love advice on what to say when your kid is in earshot and another adult says something like “Ze’s so smart!” or “Ze’s shy!” Because I often hear both, especially the latter, and I do NOT want to reinforce that in my four-year-old. I am both gifted and socially awkward and have no idea what to say in these situations…

This question is great.  According to research by Carol Dweck and others we do not want to help foster a fixed mindset through praise of intelligence (or other fixed traits).  Praise for effort is good, praise for smarts can lead to the bad kind of perfectionism, fear of taking risks, and so on.  Similarly, saying that a kid is shy may reinforce that behavior.

With the “smart” I always focus on, “Oh, yes, DC LOVES to read!” or “The Magic Treehouse books are really exciting!” or “Ze’s been working really hard on hir handwriting.”  I try to enforce that these things are fun and that practice is important, and get away from the “smart” with a gentle correction that way.

In preschool we also talked to the director about teachers not saying that kind of thing and praising effort (which she already knew about– she teaches childhood development at the community college, but some of the newer teachers needed reminders), and that helped a little.

When DC was much younger I admit to rounding up hir age when asked, not so it was incorrect, but giving the most generous rounding I could do (almost 3, rather than 2 years 6 and a half months)… I’m not sure how I feel about having done that.

Over the past year we’ve been avoiding situations with DC’s same-age peers… ze fits in much better with kids about a year older.  This is easier to do because ze started K early (when people ask, we say, “Ze just missed the cutoff, and all hir friends were going to kindergarten,” which is true, for some definitions of “just.”)   People just assume ze is small for hir age.  That has helped a LOT.  Ze doesn’t seem quite so abnormal around other kids when the other kids are at similar levels, even if they’re not really the same age.

In terms of shyness:  We usually get that DC is mellow, which I don’t mind so much, and I always say ze takes after hir daddy.  Ze definitely likes to check out the situation before jumping into it, and the teachers at after-school recently told me ze is always shy at first but then warms up.  So maybe, “It generally takes hir a little while to warm up to people, but ze will be fine.”

Dear grumpy readers:  What would you do in these situations?  What advice would you give?


  • I don’t understand when parents complain about their kids growing up.  My kid just keeps getting cooler and cooler with each new stage.  I can’t wait to see what adulthood will bring, while still enjoying every moment of the present.  Of course, I’m not crazy about kids as a general thing– there’s about a 2 year moving window around my own kids that I find other children adorable.
  • We are happy to see women’s heads returning to book covers.  What a weird fad.
  • Did you know that the first practical use of the birth control pill was as a fertility medication?  Some women (those with PCOS, for example) with no cycle or irregular cycles are fertile right after going off the birth control pill.
  • DC seems to be hooked on the Chinese-American version of Dora the Explorer: Ni Hao Kai-Lan.  Not sure why this one is so interesting when ze has seriously outgrown Dora.  (Not that *I* have outgrown Dora…)
  • Dear anonymous commenter who says she is sick of reading about working moms who have it all but OMG have messy houses (“because they’re chic now”… not a comment I had heard yet, though it would be awesome if they were– I would totes be a trend-setter, and I would *LOVE* it if people stopped feeling guilt about having messy houses because that’s healthier), and when we talk about how we’re awesome we’re just trying to convince ourselves, and when she has kids she’s going to take time off to be with them because otherwise why have kids… Sorry I’m more awesome than you are (as are a small handful of other working mothers who are brave enough to openly admit that their lives don’t suck!  Even though we get attacked when we do, probably because the patriarchy hates it when women do anything with their time besides raise boy babies…) and btw, it is possible to enjoy kids and have a career at the same time.  Even if your brain can’t imagine it.  In fact MOST mothers are not secretly falling apart… perhaps most mothers on the internet are (or at least pretend to be because dude, otherwise the anonymous patriarchy-bitches attack!), but perhaps mothers who don’t spend hours on the internet are just better at using their time wisely.
  • Adding to that… I don’t get it when people say they hate reading about other people’s happy lives.  If your life isn’t happy (and you’re not dealing with a chronic disease etc.) then why don’t you @#$3ing change something?  Why be a victim?  Sure, we rumble grumpily, but we don’t put up with crap we can change either.  We’ll whine about the patriarchy, but we’ll keep on fighting it.  We’ll keep reading Georgette Heyer because we like the happy endings.  We love happy endings in real life even more and wish more people had awesome partners like ours and so on.  The world would be a much better place.
  • Why when discussing their gifted children, do mothers feel the need to qualify that they themselves were only above-average intelligence (though they were never actually tested)?  Even when not asked.  IBTP.  (Btw, both #1 and #2 were gifted, probably in the HG/EG/PG range, if such things can be boiled down into percentage terms, as were our partners even though we don’t know our “numbers”.  And we are totes unapologetic about it (though we love meeting other gifted peeps!  Even if they don’t think they’re gifted.).  #1 mourns what she could have been had she been able to live up to her full potential and is still trying to make up for those wasted years in K-8 counting ceiling tile dots.  Every year she gets more awesome.)  Men, for some reason, don’t seem to have this problem.  Are we really so afraid that people will think we’re bragging about ourselves that we have to put our intelligence down at every opportunity?  It adds to that atmosphere of silence that mothers of gifted kids already feel.  (Wait, I gotta apologize for my intelligence just when I’m finally brave enough to talk about my kid’s?  Swell.)

Should kids come first? A deliberately controversial post.

My kids don’t come first. My FAMILY comes first. Kids who come first end up being entitled little pricks with helicopter parents who are PITA in the classroom and in life until they get beaten down when they’re finally away from their parents. Our family is a team with all members equally important (based on need and so on) and all members pulling their weight. My family has produced generations of strong successful responsible middle-class working women and men who are proud of their parents and siblings with this strategy.

You can try to guilt me into thinking I’m a terrible mother, but what I do worked for my mother and her mother and her mother before her and so on. I turned out perfect, as did my sister (as did my mom and aunts). My kid is turning out perfect. If I changed anything, then we might move away from that optimum. My kid is strong and independent and loved and ze’s not going to be the one who is helpless at college when it comes to taking care of hirself. Ze’ll be the one showing other kids how to do their laundry or grocery shop and so on, just like I was. There’s a satisfaction in being able to do things yourself.

You can try to make me feel guilty for being selfish instead of selfless.  You can quote Horatio Storer at me, that 19th century intellectual who worked tirelessly to ban abortion, among other things.  This ideal that the angelic innocent mother should sacrifice herself for her children (her sons, really… daughters are only important if they’re going to bear grandsons) is an upper-middle-class Victorian ideal made possible only on the backs of the starving working class of an industrializing society.  They’re the products of modern surplus.  And one that my family has never bought into– we were too tied to the land at that time, traveling across the Western US in covered wagons.  Pioneer women don’t have time to stand on pedestals or to raise Little Lord Fauntleroys.

And because we all had to pull our fair shares, whether to stay alive or just to make the work-life balance work for everyone, we perhaps grew up thinking that we should spoil our parents rather than the other way around.  We should do chores without being asked.  We should do our best to behave and entertain ourselves.  And it’s much more pleasant spending decades as a mom being treated a little bit like a princess by spouse and progeny after waiting on one’s own mother (though we call it “helping out” and “being thoughtful”), than it would be having to reverse that.  It’s nice having something to look forward to rather than something to dread.  (Guilt-free too!)

And that is definitely not to say that SAHP are, by definition, helicopter parents. They’re not. Most of them have lives outside their children. Most of them know how to discipline their children so they don’t try to brain other kids with tool-boxes. But folks who try to lecture me on being a bad person because I don’t have to work but I do anyway (or who were passive-aggressive at my mom growing up)– IRL at least, their kids tend to be spoiled brats incapable of polite relations with society.  That probably has nothing to do with their choice in work-status.  But the idea that they have to martyr themselves because the children come first and all mothers who aren’t martyrs are, by extension, miserable sinners… well, that’s not really healthy for anyone.  Especially not their daughters.  Or for their sons…

Bottom line:  Family first as a team.  Children first makes for a pretty depressing adulthood for the kids to look forward to and may result in a lack of  grandchildren.

What say you?  Kids first?  Family first?  Furbabies first?