Growing needs

Tiny babies fuss, (murfle, make expressive faces and wiggles,) and cry to communicate, but the communication gets more difficult as their needs grow.  Here’s what seems to be the ticket for us so far (and the order that we check things in… hungry?  wet?  need burping?)

On Day 1, all DC2 needed was milk from a breast and ze was happy.  Ze would fall asleep with a smile, tiny arms wrapped around a ginormous breast.

Day 3, DC2 discovered that wet diapers are uncomfortable.  If a breast didn’t satisfy, check the diaper.

A few days after that, DC2 discovered gas.  Gas problems could be solved eventually by walking, patting, and eventual burps or poops.

Sometime in the second week, DC2 got a bit more existential and came up with two new needs.  The need to direct hir own locomotion, something ze is mostly physically unable to do, which causes a lot of frustration and forces us to be very careful that ze doesn’t just fling hirself from our arms to the floor, and the need not to be bored.  We think these are related.  Initially lights and ceiling fans kept hir from being bored (the trip from the hospital to the car was *amazing* to hir for that reason), but they seem to have lost their initial luster.  It is darned hard to entertain a bright-eyed often awake newborn who is no longer satisfied with the same sights and cannot yet hold onto a toy.  So we do a lot of walking around.  Thank goodness for big sibling, and thank goodness DC2 seems a bit less traumatized by tummy time than DC1 was.  I guess we’ll be going out a lot once I’m fully functional and the two week don’t take the newborn anywhere moritorium has been lifted.  (Also we have a mobile in the mail as DC1’s mobile broke into component parts sometime in the past 5 years.)

I could turn this into an analogy about life-style inflation, but I don’t think it fits.  I think a better analogy is one of ambition.  Needing more than a serving of warm milk can be frustrating because warm milk is easier to obtain than a lot of things.  But having more needs, especially existential needs, can also be a driver for growth.  Ambition can help us do things we never knew existed when we were satisfied with a full tummy.

But still, we’re not looking forward to when DC2 discovers that tummies can be upset by things other than the need to burp or poo.

What evidence do you see of growth and growing needs in your life?  Are you satisfied with being satisfied?

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Personal assistants and other outsourcing

Life with a baby is suddenly hectic again, especially when you’re used to living with an elementary schooler who can entertain hirself pretty well.  Especially that whole not sleeping thing.

One thing that is recommended for we middle-class and upper-middle-class folks when time is of the essence is outsourcing.  Pay someone to clean, to do yard-work, child-care, and all the little errands that need to be done.  The higher the value of our time, the more we should be outsourcing.  Someone else should buy groceries or take things to the recycling center!  Get a personal assistant to take care of the honey-do list.

In the past, when DC1 was tiny, we did on occasion hire a college student, generally one of our mother’s helpers or a friend of theirs, to just go through our to-do list and get things done.  For less than $100, a huge amount of crap weighing on our minds for weeks, months, or even years, would get done over the course of a weekend and could stop nagging us.

Any time we have any sort of plumbing problem, we call our amazing plumbers, secure in the knowledge that for the cost of $80 and parts everything will be better.  It just isn’t worth it to try to fix it ourselves when we know they’ll do it right the first time without us getting dirty or wasting our time rushing to Home Depot.  (My sister, who makes way more than I do, recently fixed her garbage disposal, which would have been fine if her housemate hadn’t not realized it was broken for over a week.  The disgust factor alone would have be getting out my checkbook.)

Outsourcing can be awesome.

On the other hand, DH is currently doing all of our yard-work.  We’d love to outsource it, but after going through something like 7 different companies we just gave up.  Either they try to cheat us by charging more than was agreed to, or they run over our blueberry bushes with the mower, or they do a great job for a few years, then graduate and sell the company to someone who mows over our blackberry bushes.  Finding new people we can trust who won’t kill our lawn is just way more trouble than it’s worth.

Similarly with cleaning folks… you can get a crew who will cost an arm and a leg and sometimes do a great job and sometimes suck, just depending on who is on the team that week, or you can get a one-person company.  The really good people everyone recommends aren’t taking on new clients.  The folks who are taking on new clients do a great job… at first, but then start turning your countertops yellow (despite the repeated explanations about bleach) and scraping your hardwood floors while ignoring things they used to do a good job on.  They get complacent.  And so, we just live in squalor.  Squalor uses fewer chemicals too.

Since DC1 started going to preschool and our mother’s helpers and previous folks graduated, it became difficult to find someone to do personal assisting kinds of work.  Sure we could advertise, but interviewing folks for something that’s only going to save the time of a weekend…well, we might as well take the goodwill stuff to goodwill ourselves.  Or just put off that chore.

And let’s not even go into tax implications and making sure the help is legal so when the President of the United States tries to appoint you to a high level position there isn’t that as a reason to block the candidacy.

So yes, outsourcing can be awesome, but good help is hard to find.

I am looking forward to having mother’s helpers around again.  In the past they cleaned the kitchen while DC1 nursed.  A small part of their jobs, but one that made me happy.  I’m hoping for the same with DC2.  Hopefully we’ll find some awesome childcare help.  Paying above market wage seemed to help last time and will hopefully help this time too.

Do you outsource?  Why or why not?  What do you outsource?  Have you had trouble finding good people you can trust?  Where do you find great people for outsourcing?

Link loving

CPP asks an important question.

John Scalzi teaches us How not to be a creeper.  And a followup, for the d00dz. (Bonus: you will get a song stuck in your head forever.)

We’re light on links again because of BABIES!  Also syllabi and crap like that.

Hello, baby:


(bowties are cool)

The Doctor speaks Baby:

Also:  Amazon is having a $2.99 sale for Georgette Heyer books on Kindle.

Madwomanwithalaptop and why you should give money to Tammy Duckworth.  I did.

Google Questions Answered

Q:  do you pay for harvard grad school?

A:  No!   (Exceptions:  law and business.  But we didn’t and don’t.)

Q:  are we harminng our 22 month old child f she does not nap

A:  Absolutely not!  Unless she wants to nap and you’re somehow preventing her from doing so.  Like putting her on a brick in the middle of a pool of water like they do with animal sleep studies.  That would be horrible, so don’t do that.

Q:  does montessori stunt a childs development

A:  Of course not!  A good Montessori will enhance a child’s development.  Bad preschools take all sorts of labels, so spend time observing wherever you end up sending your child.

Q:  is it a sin to not finish eating all your food

A:  Again, of course not.  That’s why we have refrigeration.  Stick it in the fridge and have it later.  Next time take less and get seconds if you’re still hungry.

Q:  why parents want you to better than them?

A:  Because that’s the American dream.  Also they love you.

Q:  do you have to buy a house to go to good school

A:  No.  Good school districts also have rentals.

Q:  do people judge a messy house

A:  We don’t, and we’re the only people who matter.  People who do judge messy houses aren’t worth worrying about because their opinions are irrelevant by definition.  They need to get lives.  (Unless, of course, it is part of their job description to judge house messiness… like maybe a house-stager or something, but hopefully they follow judging with you know, fixing.)

Q:  gifted children sleep poorly?

A:  Sleep less:  there does seem to be a correlation.  Sleep poorly, no more than anybody else.  Unless they’re regularly bullied and tormented for being gifted, which is an occasional hazard.

Q:  do relationships take work?

A:  Depends on your definition of work.

Q:  how can market efficiency evolve without government intervention

A:  It can’t.  At the very least, gov’t needs to enforce property rights.

More series I don’t feel the need to finish (and why)

The Last Werewolf (POV shift)

When I get used to a protagonist, I don’t want to start all over with another one.

Moira Moore Heroes (gah) (#2 did finish this series, however, she skipped the poorly rated second to last book and there’s another book in the series she could have done without… really the first, second, and last books are all that are needed.  It would have made a decent trilogy!). #1 read the first and second, and then on the third one I started going enh…

Spirit Lens (POV shift)

I loved this book! I don’t want to read another character!

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack (only half the book was good)

Vish Puri mysteries… the first one was interesting, but I don’t think I need more than one.

#2 is not sure if she’s ever going to finish the Kim Harrison series.  She wishes the author would give the main character a break, maybe even between books.  Some time off to heal or something.

The Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher.  I just don’t care enough.  (#1 agrees.  There are some parts I really like, but I don’t have the stamina for the whole thing.)

#1 is still happily going on the darkborn/lightborn/shadowborn series. 

Really amazing world-building.

Also about a million other series I am still working on!  I can’t list them all; it’s easier to list the ones I quit on. According to my LibraryThing tag “awaiting sequel”, I am awaiting approximately 45 sequels.  Doh!

Are there any series you’ve decided not to push through?  How about awesome series that you can’t not finish?

Interview questions for potential mother’s helpers

We, of course, lost the questions we used 5-odd years ago and had to recreate a list.  (I should probably finish the unfinished post in drafts about how we came around to having mother’s helpers rather than a nanny or daycare and how that worked out for us.)

Here’s what we came up with:

  1. Why are you interested in this position?
  2. What is your previous child-care experience?
  3. What do you like most about childcare?  What do you like least?
  4. How do you handle a crying baby?
  5. Can you spoil an infant?
  6. What are your beliefs on discipline for infants?
  7. How do you entertain a baby?
  8. What are your thoughts about feeding on demand?
  9. How do you feel about holding the baby a lot?
  10. We don’t believe in rigid schedules for babies (though we are fine with routines).  Are you ok with that?
  11. Do you have infant CPR training?  Would you be willing to take a class to get certification?
  12. What do you want to know about our baby?
  13. Do you have reliable transportation?  (The bus line does not come to our neighborhood.)
  14. If you start this job, would you be able to commit to it for the entire semester?
  15. Would you be interested in continuing second semester?  Over the summer?
  16. Are you allergic to cats?
  17. Do you smoke?
  18. Do you feel comfortable doing light housework while the baby is nursing (cleaning the kitchen, folding baby laundry, baby-proofing the house etc.)?
  19. A few days out of the year our 5 year old will be home from school because of school vacation days.  Is that ok?  Your responsibility will still be for the baby, not the elementary schooler.
  20. Do you have any questions for us?

And then if they haven’t scared us off, they hold the baby.  Last time we discovered some applicants said they had experience but had obviously never held a baby before.

What questions do you think are important for hiring childcare?

Radish top soup: and other super-frugal foods we no longer eat

Back when we were just starting out we had no money and very little income.  We also had education debt.  We were frugal to the bone, and we used every edible part of veggies with very little food waste.

Here are some of the things we used to make but no longer do because we don’t have to.  Wasteful?  Well, yes, but also time-saving… and really I’m not crazy about greens.

Radish top soup.  This is actually a pretty tasty mildly spicy green cream soup.  Made from radish greens from the tops of radishes.  You get the radishes, you cut off the tops so the radish doesn’t get wilty, then you use the radish greens right away before they get wilty.  In Radish Top Soup.

Beet greens.  These you cut off the beets, saute in olive oil, and serve with the cooked beets.  These days, I just toss them into compost!

In case you’re wondering how we were able to afford fresh produce on very little money, we’d go to the city’s big open air market near the end when everything was being marked down and get huge bags of fruits and veggies at a dollar each.  As we got more income, we’d go earlier when stuff was fresher and spend more to get less!  Eventually we had enough of a money cushion that we’d walk to Whole Foods and buy from there instead.  (Now we have to drive into the city to get to a WF, so we buy from the fru-fru section at the local chain grocery.)

Chicken leg-thigh combinations.  I would buy these on bulk when they hit 69 cents/lb and boil them for the meat which I would then freeze and add sparingly to future meals.  Clean-up was a PITA.  Now we keep bags of individually frozen chicken breasts in the freezer.

Macaroni and cheese from a box.  Just kidding!  We still eat these, but we no longer wait until they’re on sale, and we tend more towards Annie’s than the store-brand Kraft imitation.  (“We wouldn’t have to eat Kraft dinners”  “But we would eat Kraft dinners, we’d just eat more!”)

Leftover cold pizza from department events.  Now I only eat this if it’s from a good pizza place or is a kind that I particularly like.  Or sometimes I’ll have a piece anyway (because, you know, pizza) but not 3 pieces and I certainly won’t take a box home.

Are there things that you used to eat when you had less money and choose not to eat now?  If you still have less money, are there things you are looking forward to no longer eating or doing?