Already planning next summer’s DH-Family Vacation

They decided on a popular Midwestern tourist destination for Summer 2020.  There’s enough stuff that I like (and don’t feel like I have memorized from my own childhood) that I’ll be going too.

MIL is planning everything this year and got into it shortly after last summer’s vacation ended.

We offered to pay half the housing again.  We’re renting a house off AirBnB and our half will be $1500.

We bought four plane tickets.  That will also be $1500.

We’re going to have to rent a car this time around at the airport.  If we don’t put off booking a car for too long, it looks like that will be something under $300.

There’s a lot of attractions at this tourist place, and they all cost varying amounts.  I imagine it’ll be somewhere between $100 and $200/day for our family of four, though we will be spending a day going to a state park which will be some small amount per vehicle rather than per person.  Then there will also be food.  The place we’re renting has a kitchen so it is likely that the in-laws will purchase groceries.  But our smaller nuclear family also likes to try restaurants.  And there’s supposedly some good coffee shops.  We will probably order pizza.

This looks like it will cost more than last year’s trip (even though last year we paid the entire housing) or the first real vacation and less than the Disney trip from two years ago.

Do you have any fun plans for next summer?  How about winter break?

On knowing what’s out there: loosely connected thoughts from vacation with the relatives

Over the holidays, DH’s newly retired parents kept talking about how truly blessed they are.  None of their kids are in jail.  All are gainfully employed.  They themselves have more money than they ever dreamed and will actually be able to increase their quality of life in retirement (or rather, FIL now has both time and money for all those hunting trips he’s been wanting to do), at least while the stock market is booming.  (A couple of weeks ago, FIL called up to ask DH to ask me whether or not it was ok to have 90% stocks/10% bonds…)

DH’s relative that we’ve talked about before is not doing so well.  He’s got arthritis, which makes being a construction worker difficult.  His oldest two both had children as teenagers (the oldest is living at home with her toddler, the second moved West with her two kids to live with the biological mother who abandoned her as a baby).  His wife is recovering from brain cancer.  His third attempted suicide via electricity socket recently and is depressed because he’s too blind to legally drive.  His fourth has gotten in with a bad crowd and started stealing from family and was recently on suicide watch at a hospital.  We didn’t hear much about the fifth this time around except that she was driving the oldest’s car when it got totaled by an uninsured driver (which means the relative is now chauffeuring everybody around).  Also one of his two much younger brothers (his brothers are the same age as his oldest daughters) has been jailed for possession of stolen materials.

Focusing a bit on that third kid– he graduated from high school last year and the plan was to take the year off working (he’s washing dishes at a restaurant) and then spend the next year at community college.  Community college is about an hour away, so he would have to be driven.  He’s really depressed that he will never be able to drive and it’s not clear that he’s actually going to do community college next year, or ever.  He’s smart and has the grades and GPA to go to the flagship school or one of the closer regionals.  The flagship’s admission deadline has come and gone and the closer regionals have passed their priority deadlines but still have rolling admissions.  Over break, he and DH talked about careers and DH tried to convince him to just fill out one of the two page regional applications for either of the closest schools (while DH was there to pay the $40 admission fee), but no luck.

And the thing is, this kid has never been anywhere with public transportation (or even taxis!).  He has no idea what it’s like to be someplace where you can take yourself where you need to go without having to depend on the kindness of someone else to drive you.  It would be best for him to skip community college and to just go straight to a 4 year college with an extensive bus system and counselors.   He should be eligible for plenty of need-based financial aid and what’s left we can pay.  But… he doesn’t know that’s best.  He doesn’t know what is best and his parents don’t have 4-year college degrees (his mom never finished high school) and his dad has been on his own since 16, so they’re letting him do what he wants since he’s officially an adult.

Growing up I knew I wanted to be upper-middle-class because I knew people whose parents were upper-middle-class and I had an aunt and uncle who were judges, and I thought, I want that.  I want to not have to worry about money and to have the temperature always set to something comfortable.  DH never had those thoughts, but his parents were doing pretty well compared to everyone else in his family, and at boarding school he learned a lot about what all was out there.  And his mother had a wide variety of experiences growing up and she told me this most recent trip that she always thought it important to make sure her kids saw places outside the small town, so they went to camps (or in DH’s case, boarding school) and visited relatives (from her side of the family) up north and so on.  She also took them to get professional career testing before college and told them not going was not an option (for DH she also controlled where he was allowed to apply), just as her father had told her that not going to college was not an option.

Going back to DH’s family’s place at Christmas does tend to make one feel #blessed because it reminds us how well we’re doing and how well DH’s immediate family is doing.  It also forces the comparison of how hard it is for so much of America to get ahead outside of our highly educated McMansion-owning bubble.  DH’s relative is plenty smart, but his life diverged dramatically from DH’s at 16 when he got married and left home and had two kids.  But there were also a lot of factors that led up to that point and after– his parents also had two kids by age 18.  Our kids’ lives will diverge even more dramatically.  His kids are not our kids, and we don’t know how to help, or if we even can help.   So, we will continue to feel #blessed and to keep things in perspective while doing what we can to make it easier for poor kids more generally to get ahead.  We have our oxygen masks on, but there are still a lot of people out there who need assistance with theirs, and even more who don’t have access to oxygen masks at all.

Another real vacation for the family (that I won’t be going on)

DH’s grandmother died earlier this year and she left a small inheritance to her daughters.  DH’s mother has decided to put that money into a “Disney World” savings account and take all 6 grandkids and their parents to Disney World.  She wants to go in June.

This is very Midwestern.  Growing up I think I was the only kid who had never been to Disney World (I had been to Disney Land as a child with an after-school field trip when we lived in California– mostly notable because they lost me in the gift shop and I spent a good portion of the time in the room of lost kids coloring in already colored coloring books and eating lolly pops).  My sister has never been to either Disney.  That money went into our college fund instead.  (DC1 has been to Disneyland and to all the stuff in San Diego in conjunction with work trips for me– we paid for DH’s mom to fly out and take him places while DH took care of baby DC2 and I conferenced.)

I hate theme parks with a violent passion that’s mostly to do with my undiagnosed ocholophobia (well, not precisely undiagnosed– it showed up on the initial anxiety screen when I did CBT but I declined to get it fixed because I can easily avoid the kind of large crowds that freak me out now that I’m no longer forced to go to school dances or 6 Flags trips), and partly to do with the ease with which I get overheated in the sun.  So I won’t be going.  DH will have to go because there are 6 kids going and we have to send at least one adult to corral our two kids.

While I know that MIL will be paying for DH’s sister’s family (they combine a small-town teacher salary with a factory worker salary) and will probably be subsidizing DH’s brother’s family (union engineer + SAHM), we should probably pay our way.  If we book now, it looks like flights will be ~$1,500 for DH and the two kids, and hotel will be another $500, assuming they stay outside of Disney which I assume will be the plan [update:  our house rental will be $500-$1K, and I have to admit, some of these Kissamee houses are nice enough that I’m tempted to go and just work by the pool all day while everyone else goes to Disney/Universal].  Disney and Universal tickets look like they’ll be another $1,500 which seems pretty crazy to me.  So $3,500, not counting food or ground transportation, for a trip that the kids will probably enjoy but DH will find exhausting.  By me not going they’ll be saving ~$1,000, so that’s something, right?  (Of course, I will probably soon start spending similar amounts on academic summer camps for DC1 without blinking an eye, but those are at least more enjoyable for the parents!)

My well-off colleagues seem to be going to Caribbean destinations more and more.  Sitting on a beach has always sounded boring to me in the past (I can read a book just as easily inside without worrying about sunburn!), but given how hectic life has been lately, I’m kind of wondering if maybe they have a good idea.  Though that’s not cheap either.  Staying at home is cheap!  And I can get more work done.

What kind of vacation do I like?  The kind where a conference is paying for most of it, where there’s really amazing and different food to explore, and where there’s history and/or nature and not too much sun.  Sadly I haven’t been going to too many of those recently– all my conferences are either in Boston or Palo Alto/Berkeley these days.  And while those places are lovely, we’ve been so often that I can’t get DH and the kids to tag along with me (plus that whole public school thing puts a crimp in taking the whole family during the school year thing).  So… no vacations for me, and another week to myself next summer.

Have you done Disney?  Which one?  How do you feel about theme parks?  What’s your ideal vacation?  Have any good vacation travel coming up?

DH and the kids are going on a real vacation

sort of…

We do a lot of traveling, mostly for work, which means we haven’t really been on any vacations that aren’t connected with a conference or someone getting married.  Almost all of our vacation time is spent in DH’s home town (population ~3K and falling) at the grandparents’ because DH needs to see his extended family at least once a year or he starts getting maudlin and depressed.  So essentially everywhere we’ve been, someone else is paying for our housing and often part of our meals or some of our travel.  Or there’s been a wedding.*  When we’re low on cash, we spend a day and another one back driving to get to DH’s home town (it is a very long day).  When we’re flush with cash or miles or rates are especially low, we will fly instead which cuts the time spent traveling by about 2/3.

This year DH’s parents are both retired so we’re going to try something different.  Not, you know, too different.  But still a little different.

Last year, DH’s brother’s company transferred him and he ended up moving near DH’s sister.  So last summer DH’s parents rented a couple of cabins in a state park near the town DH’s siblings live in and they spent a few days there as an extended family.  This year, DH wants to join them with the kids.  So after some discussion (and realizing that everybody in the world wants to visit peak tourist places like Yellowstone during peak tourist season which drives the prices way up), they decided to go to the same place as last year and DH and the kids will fly in to the nearest big city, rent a car, and drive down to the cabins.  After a few days there, they’ll spend a night in the city and fly home.  (Me, I will be staying home getting work done because I have to go to TWO conferences the next week.  :/ )

It’s like a real vacation!

When this was initially discussed, we talked about splitting the costs for the cabins, since DH would be adding an additional family and we want to subsidize his less-flush siblings.  Plus we’d just found out that DH would indeed be working in April and May so we were going to have more money than we’d anticipated.  AND DH’s dad is retiring and his parents are going to have to start budgeting again for the first time, so there’s no need for them to shoulder the entire expense.  But DH’s mom is being difficult about it (we finally got a “we’ll talk about it later” from her) so we’re going to have to figure some way to pay/subsidize.  Maybe we’ll pay for the hotel the night in the city and DH can pay for food purchases if she won’t let us write a check to her for half the cabins.

With some research, it looks like they’ll be paying $450/night (plus tax) for 3 nights = $1350 for the cabins.  We’re going to try to pay half of that:  $675

Airfare for DH and two kids came out to= $937 (We don’t have enough miles on the right airlines to make it worth while to use miles for this trip.)

Then there will be one night in a big city (estimated) = $250/room (if we go for near the touristy stuff rather than near the airport– airport hotels are closer to $150/room)

Car rental + gas for us (estimated) = $350 (though we may find a better deal closer to the time)

Food (estimated– a total guess because who knows) = $200

So total cost (not including incidentals):  $2,182

Which seems like a lot of money for 5 days for 3 people, but also not a lot of money for a vacation compared to what we see when people go fancier places than a Midwestern state park.  (Going on a weekend would have cost double the cabin fee!)

 

*We honeymooned in beautiful London… Ontario (the one in Canada).  Which is kind of like honeymooning in Ann Arbor if you could daytrip to Niagra Falls from there.  We did not have a lot of money.

What do you do for vacations?  How often do you go on them?

Fantasy Vacation

A while back, the two of us on this blog had planned out a comprehensive European vacation involving Italy, staying at Lake Como with day trips to Milan.  We would come in via Spain (for the art museums) and leave via Vienna (I think this is what we decided; it could have been a couple of cities in Germany, but it was around there).

But now I really, really, REALLY want to go to Wales.  I recently discovered that a friend from college, who is now teaching in Wales, actually lives within driving distance of Hay-on-Wye, which I think would be an excellent honeymoon spot.

I wonder how far in advance you have to book (haha) accommodations for the annual book festival at the beginning of June? Or perhaps I should keep to the off-season to avoid 80,000 other visitors?

If I ever get a sabbatical, ha ha, I want to spend time writing at St. Deiniol’s, a residential library.  Yes.  You live there.  In the library.  DO WANT! Although the library doesn’t specialize in my subject area, it would be a great place to write a lot, and read, reflect, rest, nap, and rejuvenate.

photo from the Guardian by Christopher Thomond

And while I’m over there, oh, I would like to see Cardiff, possibly also Glasgow and Edinburgh. I could just progress northward; these things are all pretty much in a line.

Captain Jack in front of Wales Millenium Centre

John Barrowman is actually a Glaswegian, but has a house near Cardiff

I could fly into Cardiff, hang out, then stay in Hay-on-Wye a little bit, then drive just a few hours to St. Deiniol’s. Stay there a few weeks, maybe. Thence a slightly longer ride to Glasgow, hang out, and fly home from Edinburgh, which I hear is also nice. See, that’s such a good plan! Now all I need is thousands of dollars (though the rates at the library aren’t too bad, and also include dinner & breakfast!) and maybe a month or two of free time.  I’m sure I could find many simply smashing things to do in those places.  Hmmmm…

Do you dream of travel?  Have you been any of these places?  Where would you want to go?

ETA:  #2 says… we did?  I thought my fantasy vacation was just, “An eating tour of Italy.  Oh, and we can stop in Spain and eat there too– I’ve eaten good food in Spain, and I’d like to see the Alhambra again.”  I might have wanted to do the art museums at that time, but I finally did get to see the Prado.  (I LOVE CONFERENCES.  Don’t think I actually get to go to exotic locals for vacation… If only I had a bigger bursary…)  I don’t remember Germany being on the list.  German food is ok, but I’m not sure you have to go to Germany unless you’re really into beer.  Of course, Germany may be preferable to Wisconsin in other ways…  And I wouldn’t mind getting another street waffle in Luxemborg.  I will remember that experience for the rest of my life.  Bliss.

My two main joys in life are eating and reading novels.  Vacation should include both!  Preferably someplace with nice weather.

What do you think is most important in a vacation?

Ask the grumpies: Ethics of being “our level of rich”

Cloud asks:

I struggle a bit with the difference between my wealth now and how I grew up so a post on the ethics of being our level of rich would be really interesting to me. For instance, my husband thinks we should buy a second house and rent out the one we’re in and I can see why this is a good idea but I really struggle with the fact that we could afford two houses in our expensive real estate market and whether we’d be making things worse by doing that.

I also struggle with this.  I grew up in an extremely frugal household in which our income was uncertain and every penny spent could end in screaming.  But we always had food and clothing and housing even through lengthy bouts of unemployment.  Genteel poverty.  There have been a lot of sea changes as we go through these different wealth levels.  I gain new levels of understanding of how the next chunk of income will make our lives different and how it won’t.  (Turns out, above the # mentioned in that previous post– frugality starts getting thrown out the window because it is less costly to just buy something than to think about it and I started thinking about all those things that kids I knew with high income parents got to do like fancy summer camps and travel.  Many of my colleagues have built their own 4 and 5K sq ft houses or bought vacation homes which makes them feel artificially low wealth, but we think 3K sq ft is plenty big for us and don’t want the hassle of owning more real estate when Air BNB is a thing.)  There’s less fear of bag lady syndrome.

Like I said in the comments before, as long as you actually rent out the second house, it’s likely ethical.  But you still don’t want to be a landlord because if you get unlucky it can cause no end of grief and anxiety.  There are much more peaceful ways to earn additional money.

Ethics:  Part of me feels like we should be giving half our incomes away instead of stock-piling it. We do donate strategically to a lot of causes, both activist and charity.  And we’re generous with tipping and pay people who do work for us either what they ask or more.  But it is nowhere near what would leave us with only a reasonable upper-middle class income (that is to say, once we have a few of DH’s payments under our belts again– we have been living on just my salary and unemployment for quite a few months).  We’re stockpiling for an uncertain future and because I’m worried about income inequality increasing in the US and want to make sure that our children and our children’s children (if they have them) have a safety net if the US is no longer going to be able to provide one.  I’m like, I want to take care of our own first.  And that’s selfish and money can do so much more for people who have less of it.  But… they’re my children and my potential grandchildren.  And we need structural change and I will fight for that.  I would feel much better about having less of a nest egg if I could trust our government and our society.  But I can’t.  So we need to stockpile money to stay “Haves” even if the “Have nots” need it more and I hate that.  I want everybody to be Haves.  I want all kids to have stability and opportunity.  But fear keeps me stockpiling.

It’s crazy to me that you have to be in the top 2% of household income or higher to be able to afford a high quality full-time legally documented dedicated personal assistant or housekeeper that you’re not married to ($150K/year give or take, themselves in the top 20% of income), but when you get to the top 1% of income, you can afford many such people.  That’s a huge concentration of wealth among a very small percentage of the population.  I think a lot of rich people think they’re not really rich because they can’t afford servants, especially when they remember being middle class back in the day meant having a woman come in to cook and clean and “do for you”– but back then people didn’t really think of the women who “Did” as people themselves.  I don’t want servants, except mechanical ones.  Though I do think it’s great when people have businesses that do a specific task for a large number of different households.  That seems efficient.

Which is to say:  I think hiring people is ethical, and hiring cleaning people and yard work people and so on is ethical.  But it’s not ethical to have a lowly paid personal servant (remember Alice on the Brady Bunch?)– if you want someone like that, you must pay the price for them, and at our income that is not a price we can afford.  We can afford college students or underpaid undocumented labor but the former is a crapshoot and the latter unethical, so it’s best to avail ourselves of whatever services are available.  For us that’s just yardwork because I hate the way cleaning crews cost money and get in my space and don’t clean things as well as I was brought up and grumble about how we don’t preclean before they get there.  (We’re currently not happy with our yardwork either, but have yet to find anybody who is happy with theirs– the crackdown on undocumented labor has really decreased the quality of this kind of service.)

Grumpy nation:  How do/would you deal with income and ethics?

Link Love

Stacking Pennies estimates how much they would need on hand to early retire where she lives.

How gender bias against women is operationalized in wikipedia.

Three out of four people in this family got vaccinated for covid and then all four got covid anyway.

From NIHCM email:  “A recently released study using the health insurance records of nearly two million COVID-19 patients explains that 23.2% of patients have a post-COVID health condition. The report illustrates that long COVID can affect every organ in the body and asymptomatic patients.”

Nikole Hannah Jones discusses why UNC-CH has lost their opportunity to have her on their faculty.

The comments on this post are well worth a read.  I was going to do a reaction post (in addition to a related Ask the Grumpies this coming week), but I think some of the commenters said what I wanted to say so much more beautifully than I would have.  If you’re in the top 10% and feeling down because you can’t have everything right now because you’re not in the top 2%, then definitely take some of the comments and advice to heart.  This is not to say that we shouldn’t push for those dangerous 1%ers to have higher taxes– we absolutely should!  Strengthen the inheritance tax too!  But also… very few people have everything on that list, nor do they need to.  If you have the choice between 10K/year on family vacations vs. 10K/year to the 529 plan, you’re already in pretty good shape.  If you’re upper middle class and are jealous of our 529 plan saving, then remember we’ve never had a real vacation.  No regrets.  Well, except that Covid killed our 20th anniversary trip to Portland.  We’re still just as married as before though.

Postcards to voters has a new Florida campaign up.

What we’re doing for summer: update

The other week we asked you all what to do with our kids for summer and you had some great ideas.

DC2 recently had spring break while I didn’t.  This reminded us that zie reallllly needs more mental stimulation and interaction than what we can provide.  Basically by Wednesday DC2 starting talking and didn’t stop until school started again on Monday.  School has been online all year and it has been great– it keeps DC2 entertained, talking with classmates, and mentally stimulated so we can get normal amounts of interaction at lunch and after 5pm when I stop working for the night.

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting ads for online college credit classes for DC1.  I was irritated to find out that my uni lets high school students take classes during the school year but not during the summers!  What is UP with that?

But there are plenty of programs willing to charge $4K-$6K per 3-4 credit hour class to take either their own special classes for high schoolers, or in the case of Wisconsin-Madison, anything that they’re offering over the summer.  Right now we’re leaning towards C++ at Georgetown, though it is tempting just to do the C++ Coursera not for credit.  We’ve also been considering Intermediate Spanish courses and academic writing.  Vanderbilt has an interesting mentorship program that isn’t for course credit that DC1 may apply to, but zie hasn’t decided yet.  Even though there are a bunch of schools DC1 can’t go to because they require people to be 16 (and zie is only 15), we’re no longer super worried that zie will be doing nothing over the summer.

But, back to DC2 because while DC1 may need to do something this summer for hir own needs *I* need DC2 to do something for *my* needs.  I looked up online summer camps and was a bit overwhelmed.  It’s hard to tell what is any good and what is a for-profit scam.  I did see that the science museum in the nearest city has something, but it is only an hour per day so I wasn’t sure that was going to be enough.  The descriptions for that camp also sounded a bit like they needed more parental involvement than we really want to give.

Then one of our friends who grew up in the midwest recommended NIU– that’s one of the regional universities in Illinois.  Apparently they run some really great summer camps for kids each summer and this year they’re all online this summer, unlike all southern camps that are mostly back in person this year.  An actual university and a personal recommendation?  I will take that.  And it looks like each one is around 4 hours online, with some being 4 hours straight and some having a break in between for projects, which is pretty similar to DC1’s online schooling this past year. They also seem to know what our rising 5th grader will enjoy.  The only thing that sucks is that there’s no creative writing week for 5th graders.  (DC1 has moved on from Bad Kitty fan-fiction to epic fantasy.)

So we did the jigsaw puzzle work with the different options (5th graders are eligible for both elementary school and middle school camps and several camps conflict and several repeat) and signed DC2 up for most of the summer.  There’s about 2 weeks on either end and two weeks sometime in the middle of summer that are unaccounted for, but we can figure that out later or take an actual vacation.  All told it will cost ~$1000 give or take.  But well worth it if it means I can finish an email without being interrupted 5 times.

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RBOChristmas

  • Since this is the first year we haven’t been traveling for Christmas since DC1 was born, we’ve had to decide what our Christmas traditions are.
    • Are we a big Christmas dinner the night before or the day of?  At the IL’s this is generally dependent on what our flight prices were (are we leaving on Christmas, coming on Christmas eve?) and what BIL’s in-laws in the same town are planning.  So it varies every year.  I have decided we are a Christmas Eve dinner family (and a snack on leftovers all Christmas Day family).
    • What is our traditional Christmas dinner food?  MIL favors ham.  I do not like ham.  We have decided on my mom’s garlic sage pork roast.  (I do miss the traditional BIL’s birthday lasagna though! We were very close to deciding on a lasagna, except DC1 doesn’t like lasagna even though DC2 loves it.  Which is weird because DC2 is the one who dislikes cheese and DC1 likes every individual ingredient of lasagna.)
    • I think we’re not going to be doing Christmas on my sister’s patio.  She brought it up at Thanksgiving but the weather has not been great, so I assume it isn’t happening now, given Christmas is Friday.
    • What kind of tree do we want?  In grad school we had a post-modern wire tree that folded flat because we lived in a tiny apartment.  Then later as adults with kids we would do a felt tree (h/t Leah) since we’d be spending actual Christmas someplace completely decorated for the season.  Early on we had rosemary trees which we would then plant in the yard (and would either die right away or mowers would mow over years later :( ).  Sadly we can’t just go to whole foods and pick one up, but I was able to special order one from a place on Etsy for $40 instead of the $15 it would have cost at a grocery store, had any carried them.  (The locally owned place in town that might carry them is a covid hotspot according to Yelp, with the owner basically not allowing his employees to wear masks properly because he’s some kind of right-wing nutcase.)
    • Are we an open all the gifts on Christmas morning family, or do we have other rules to spread things out?  Back when I was growing up we got one gift on Christmas Eve, which was always exciting.  Our kids have mostly gotten presents that were delivered from family as they came in the mail and they would get presents from us either the night before we left for the plane or the morning after we got back (with the exception of stockings which appear on their beds).  Presents from DH’s family were generally opened at MIL’s sometime on Christmas based on BIL’s in-laws schedule.  Since even with the lottery the kids have a lot of presents, we’ve decided to kind of spread it out, especially since they have a whole week of vacation before and only a single week after.  On Saturday we had them each open up their big present from us and DC1 spent a few hours putting together a unicycle and DC2 spent a few minutes putting together a razor scooter.  Then they went out and played with them.
    • Do the kids get to open presents without us or do they have to wait?  This one will be the same as with the in-laws– they can open stockings as soon as they wake up, but everyone has to be awake and there for Christmas present opening.
  • We’ve set up a crafting zoom with MIL.  They’re both buying the same ornaments kits from Michael’s and also the same ingredients to assemble melted snowman cookies.  We set up a date and a time (which was hard since MIL is taking care of SIL’s twins 8 hours a day 5 days a week, and actually has all 4 kids when their school is out but SIL’s isn’t).  DC2 sings, Santa doesn’t care if you’re precise, he just cares that you’re nice.
  • DH says that nuts.com knows what they’re doing when it comes to organic vegan gummy bears.
  • My sister says she is worried about my mother’s safety and is going to tell my father’s therapist so.  She is likely right.
  • I have a conference paper due December 27th that didn’t exist in any shape or form on December 1st.  It’s not done yet.  (Technically I had two papers due December 27th, but one of them already had a draft and was updated and turned in last Saturday.)  But I’m taking Christmas completely off even if I’ve been working most weekends.
  • After spending most of the summer playing Christmas music, DC1 has been refusing to play Christmas themed piano pieces (only playing ragtime) and DC2 has been playing lots of “holiday” music from the Fourth of July (“It’s not my fault it starts with America,” says DC1 about hir school’s holiday music thing.)
  • Youtube has been offering a lot more old-fashioned Christmas music to me this year which is a nice change from the same old 70s- 90s hits it usually focuses on.  Not that I dislike said hits, just, it’s nice getting more variety.  I’ve especially enjoyed the King’s Singers Christmas and the old Goodyear tire albums from the 60s.  Sammy Davis Jr. is such an incredible singer– he makes it all sound so easy and smooth.
  • DC1 is doing a computer programming contest thing.  They really like cows in their problems.  Did you know that the conference call software that cows use is called mooz?

 

Have you had to figure out any new Christmas traditions this year?