We still think this is the polite way to go…

DC2 had another birthday.  The in-laws were extremely generous again.

Unfortunately, with DC2, unlike with DC1 (who is the oldest grandkid), they’ve been getting hir (grandkid #5/6) a lot of what we consider to be inappropriate stuff or just stuff zie doesn’t want.  When DC1 was younger, there was always too much, but it was generally appreciated.

We think this is because DC2 has a same-gendered cousin who is about a year older whose parents have, without going into detail, very different viewpoints about uh, bringing up children.  So DC2 has started getting things that DC2’s cousin loves but that DC2 is either completely uninterested in because zie’s not into that kind of tv show, or that we are not interested in because we teach the opposite of those values.

Initially we were just giving the former to DC2 because we were often wrong about what we perceived to be DC1’s interests, but in DC2’s case, we were right–those toys would be opened and played with once and then never again.  The latter we’d send back to Amazon if we could or put in the gift closet for future birthday party gifts if we couldn’t or if it wasn’t worth sending back.  Last Christmas they gave DC2 4 different versions of the same toy (all of which were displayed prominently on hir cousin’s amazon list) and all of which we gave to toys for tots because DC2 wasn’t playing with the figure zie already had.

This birthday when MIL asked what DC2 wanted, I made an amazon list.  DH told her that DC2 is really into Batman and My Little Pony and Powerpuff Girls and Bubble Guppies.  (But did not explicitly say, no, zie is really not into the shows that hir cousin is into.)  And some of those items made it into DC2’s haul this year, but so did unwanted items, and this time a couple of really expensive such items.

Since we make a lot more money than we used to, it no longer bothers me to get a $45 toy that is both age inappropriate and our-values inappropriate.  It just gets saved up for toys for tots come Christmas time.  [It used to get saved for birthday parties (though I’ve always felt a little embarrassed about that since these are things we would never buy for someone), but there’s been a lot fewer of those lately, and when they do happen they’re “no gift” or “give to this charity” parties instead.]

On top of that, when we remove the unwanted items from the gift pile, DC2 is left with a much more reasonable number of gifts.  So it’s not like we want replacement stuff instead of the expensive unwanted stuff.  Just, you know, less stuff.

We don’t know how to bring this up to the in-laws, so we don’t.  Beyond saying what DC2 actually wants, putting together an amazon list, highlighting gifts zie’s enjoyed and not much mentioning the rest, I don’t think additional feedback is really wanted.

How do you deal with extraneous or unwanted gifts?

link love

The courts can be forces for good.

It was only a matter of time before this headline popped up.  Because women can’t win even if they’re winning.  So much FFS with this election. More misogyny in political coverage. Here’s more.

Great news! You can vote for Hillary AND keep your dick!

heaven help us

ICYMI, here’s Trump calling for Clinton’s assassination

The desperate Russian/GOP/crazy guy line these days seems to be about HRC’s health, as if Tim Kaine wasn’t perfectly capable of stepping into office.

‘From the book summary:  “In a covetous quest to attain the power that men had, women were advised to work like men, talk like men, party like men, and have sex like men. There’s just one problem: women aren’t men. Instead of feeling happy with their newfound freedoms, females today are tied up in knots, trying to strike a balance between their natural, feminine and traditional desires and what modern society dictates—and demands—through the commandments of feminism. ”  The irony is off the charts with this one.’  (Not that she should have been harassed, but seriously, stop contributing to patriarchal oppression!  Even if you’re a victim.)

I think trump is more crabbe or goyle

If only

Why are more US women dying of childbirth?

Simone!

A Snowy Day.

Retirement plans for small companies

I don’t even like cooking for just myself

We did not go to Egypt.

Go for the John Scalzi links, stay for the cat pics

Where’s Charley?

At least this cool kid

Transportation agency attack haiku

Ask the grumpies: If you were a supercommittee with superpowers where would you start reducing the federal government budget?

chacha1 asks

If you were the supercommittee, with actual governmental superpowers, where would you start with reducing the federal government’s budget so that we could actually start reducing the national debt without condemning the nation’s poor to starvation, homelessness, and/or death from preventable illnesses and workplace injuries?

Well, the answer to this would depend a lot on how much power said supercommittee had.  Like, does what we say become law?  Does it have to be voted on?  What happens when people protest?  And so on.

Here I’m going to assume that the committee has the power to force through legislation and people just have to lump it, but doesn’t have supernatural powers to change the hearts and behaviors of people.  We make the laws, they try to get around them.  They can’t vote us out.  In any case, some really easy cuts would be to go with evidence-based policy.

Note:  We may not actually *want* to reduce spending when times are bad because even just throwing money out of a plane over a city is better than reducing spending.  So I’ll assume that in those situations the money saved goes to feed kids, fix infrastructure, fund education, stimulate important research, and otherwise fix the economy in ways that are good for our long-term growth.

So easy things:

  1. Phase out the mortgage benefit– this benefit does not encourage homeownership, only overconsumption of houses
  2. Phase out the SS tax cap
  3. Completely eliminate ridiculous agricultural subsidies that are making us fat.
  4. Examine the corporate tax code– this is hard because there’s a lot to be cut, but there is a real worry that corporations will move things overseas, so it’s not just a slam-dunk.  I’m sure more educated folks than I have better ideas.
  5. Go with the Poterba policy recommendations for stream-lining the tax code so that there are fewer loopholes for extremely high earners (this is essentially expanding the alternative minimum tax system)
  6. Make stock earnings taxed as income (or otherwise make it so the Buffett tax hits people who own American stocks)
  7. Cut inefficient military spending, replace it with efficient military spending or infrastructure spending so as not to hurt communities dependent on the industry (possibly phasing out plants)
  8. I’m not so good at foreign policy, but there’s a lot that can be done to decrease our spending in this arena without jeopardizing our national security.  We need more focus on doing things with coalitions rather than unilaterally.  And we do need to help out more like with the Syrian refugee crisis.
  9. Cut foreign policy aid to Israel and possibly to Egypt.
  10. Cut some Medicare spending– allow Medicare better bargaining power, allow outcomes from experiments to influence policy, cut some doctor reimbursement (but not to Medicaid levels)
  11. Allow federal funds to fund abortions.
  12. Add a public option to health care with an eye towards eventually transitioning to single payer health care (this will actually cost money and we’ll have to pay more taxes but it is good for efficiency).

There’s probably a lot I’m forgetting.  In my work office I have a chart of government spending, but I don’t have one off the top of my head here.

Why DH is awesome even when he screws up

Also my sister is occasionally brilliant.

So…

DH and I made a list of all the stuff we needed to do before we got home from Paradise.  He put the list on his phone.

Item 3 was to set up the utilities.

DH was all, I’ll take care of it.  After all, he took off vacation days from work and I was rushing about to finish things before leaving.

Taking care of the internet was a huge pain in the rear because the internet provider wouldn’t let us set up until our tenant had closed out, but the tenant couldn’t close out until the people who owned the home they just bought closed out and it was a huge mess.

I kept asking, is there anything I can do on the moving list?  What should I do on the moving list?  “I’ll take care of it,” DH would say.  Or I’d say, “Well, how about I change our address for providers” and then I’d go do that.

Since I knew he’d finally gotten the internet scheduled, and he didn’t ever mention that we still needed to change all the other utilities, I assumed that he’d taken care of those without hassle.  Because of course, electricity and water are more important than internet.  Also they’re easier to set up appointments for.  And our tenant had specifically mentioned that we were good to go with setting up our utilities.

We got home in the afternoon on a Friday.  I cranked the a/c to bring the temp down to the high 70s.  We went to Target to pick up necessities like toilet paper and cat litter.  Thankfully we didn’t go to the grocery store.  Because at 5pm all of a sudden the power went out.

Turns out DH had *meant* to set up the other utilities, but what with one thing and another had kept putting it off and then just forgot to do it.

Turns out that having the power off is not an emergency if it’s your own fault and the emergency power guy can’t do anything until billing processes your credit history and ok’s you.  Even if you had an account at the same place a year ago.  Even if you beg and plead.  Even if there’s a woman hysterically sobbing in the background.  Even if it’s 100+ degrees in the shade and WE COULD DIE.

Billing, of course, can’t process your credit until Tuesday.  TUESDAY.

DH’s first suggestion was to go to a hotel.  But we’d been in hotels for a WEEK and I wanted to be home and to unpack and to wait for the Pod and get stuff ready for the kids’ daycare/camp on and on and on.

His second suggestion was to stay at my sister’s in a city that’s an hour and a half away.  She texted me (via cell, since we didn’t have internet yet) right as he suggested that so I took it as a sign and gave her a call.  She obviously invited us to visit, but had a pretty packed weekend with her best friend leaving for an important job in a bigger more paradise-like city and a first date and a bunch of other stuff.  She jokingly suggested a generator.

How much do generators cost?   I asked.  $1K? she guessed.   I want that!  I said, wiping sweat from my brow.  Where do I get one?  Home Depot?

Turns out Home Depot RENTS generators and so ~$500 later we had a generator rental ($250 for a week), a window unit air conditioner (~200), and gasoline.  Only enough to power the guest bedroom (which is one of two rooms in the house that allow for a window unit).  But we didn’t have to reschedule our internet connection (which DID happen on Saturday, as promised).  The Home Depot lady was very nice.

Thankfully our water and natural gas both stayed on, so we’ve even been able to take hot showers.  Flashlight lit.

So what does this have to do with the title?

Well, DH screwed up.  He could have yelled at me (particularly after the, “I hate you so much right now” comment after he got off the phone with the electricity guy).  He could have gotten upset.  He could have given up and told me to figure out what to do.  He definitely felt bad about things– he always takes it really hard when he makes a mistake like this.   But instead he worked on things until he was able to find a solution.  (Something I gave him full credit for, but not until after the room temperature dropped to bearable.  I am NOT a good person when my basic needs aren’t being met.)  He went to Home Depot and figured out our options, he got gasoline to power the generator and filled it, he bought an air conditioner, he dug our extension cords out of the shed.  He even offered to spend his allowance and leftover birthday money on the fiasco, so the family budget isn’t out that $500.

Basically, he’s a hero.  A hero bringing cool breezes and internet.   I am so lucky.

Next time the to-do list is going to go on paper like we usually do these things and if I’m not in charge of the list, I’m asking more questions.

RBOC

  • So DH was all, “I like Tesla’s logo, it’s like a spiky T.”  And I was all, “OHHHHHH… I kept trying to figure out if it was supposed to be a stylized cow skull or a uterus.  T makes much more sense.”
  • Flipped through the FrugalWoods blog now that they’ve moved out of the city.  Man, homesteading sounds like an enormous boring drag.  More power to them, I guess?  But definitely not the life I would want AT ALL.  Maybe if they were both not employed and the kid was older?  Still, it sounds busy but dull.
  • Giving stuff away before moving, what do people want most?  Balance bikes and coolers.
  • Since we’re moving and the other half of the duplex moved, the new landlord took this as a sign to sell the duplex.
  • We discovered that our rental place isn’t actually 1200 sq ft as advertised, but 1080 sq ft.  So it’s even more impressive that we were able to survive here for a year with two kids.  :)  (Also we’re not getting quite as much a deal on the rent as we’d thought, but it’s still pretty reasonably priced.)
  • Giving stuff away is surprisingly irritating.  DH is saying maybe we should just pay money to rent a uhaul to take stuff to goodwill.  Man people are so entitled and flaky sometimes.  Not all people, but some people.  Also I suspect that some of these SAHM would be better off getting jobs than sending long detailed emails about why they’re the best person to get whatever free thing.  Though perhaps they would have been better choices than the entitled flaky people who often email first and that’s why they do it.
  • Last time we did something like this, we had an alley behind the house we were renting and the freecycle wasn’t ridiculous.  So we were able to say, “lots of free stuff out in the alley at this address” and people just took stuff and updated freecycle without us having to actually talk to people complaining about the quality of said free stuff or why they couldn’t wait a week to pick it up.  Here that’s strictly prohibited and we have to set up appointments.  UGH.
  • We did put up free signs on some furniture and put it in our driveway (sort of like an all-free garage sale), but some is too heavy to take outside the house and bring back in.
  • Eventually we got rid of most of it and were able to fit goodwill stuff into the car.
  • I loved the way at the convention that HRC had a Bernie narrative that healed rather than divided, even if some divisiveness would have been justified. Sometimes if you tell the positive narrative enough, everyone starts to believe it until it becomes the truth.
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How did you learn how to handle making meals?

Specifically, I mean the entire process of procuring and preparing food.

DH’s relative’s household is currently having trouble because the wife in the family got brain cancer, had brain surgery (has an amazingly good prognosis, considering) and can no longer do all of the stereotypical wife things that she had been doing.  That leaves DH’s relative and remaining 3 kids at home completely helpless when it comes to meals.  She did all the menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.  Since she got sick, they’ve been eating a lot of rice and beans because they’re income limited and that’s all he really knows how to make.  He also has to work overtime to pay for everything so it’s not like he has a lot of time and ability to put into the process.  He says he’s pretty terrible at it.

He does have three teenage kids at home who are perfectly capable of taking on some of this work.  Which my DH suggested.

So with the relative’s permission we sent the kids a copy of our favorite easy to use cookbook for beginners without a lot of money (unfortunately Faster! is out of print) with instructions to double the recipes, along with a giftcard from Walmart (which is their local grocery store) for $100.  To give them practice menu planning with a budget.  I don’t know if it will do any good, but maybe it will.

I learned how to use grocery circulars for sales, how to build up a pantry, and how to comparison shop at a very young age.  My father would take me to the market and show me the process he went through.  I learned cooking from both my parents and have a repertoire of both of their weeknight meals.  At a slightly older age I took over cooking a few nights a week and once I got a driver’s license I was in charge of a portion of the grocery shopping.  (Before then I would occasionally be sent on my bike or by foot to get missing ingredients if necessary.)  I experimented with recipes and menu planning during long boring summers.

DH never really learned how to shop or cook until he married me.  In college he spent one year on the meal plan and then survived the remaining three years with a combination of eating out at cheap restaurants (usually Schlotzky’s and Pizza Hut) and getting free day-old bagels from the bagel place next door to his dorm.  After marriage I showed him how to comparison shop because when you’re living in a city and using public transportation, shopping requires muscle.  At first, I did most of the cooking, but one day when he asked me to make (my father’s) chili for him, I realized that that was probably something he should learn to do himself.  So I taught him.  Then he taught himself more.  Then he took a cooking class to get better knife skills.  Now he’s a better chef than I am.

We’ve been teaching DC1 to cook, and when I remember I try to show hir how to comparison shop even though we don’t really do that much anymore (we have our favorite brands and can afford them).   Being able to eat cheaply is pretty freeing, especially when you’re starting out and so much of your disposable income is going to food.

How did you learn how to procure/prepare food?  Do you do it the same way that you learned?  If not, what has changed?

Link Love

How to vote in every state by the vlogbrothers.  Note:  Some of these may be out of date by November because of pending lawsuits.  So check the comments for what to look for and the official links to see what’s happened!

Why you should vote even if you live in a red state in the south.

Hillary Clinton has been asked the same sexist questions for decades.

The NYT Public Editor will make you mad.

Apparently Greg Abbot wants to get on the Periods for Pence train.

This is what a feminist looks like.

Loving Obama is cool again.  Commuting sentences.  Happy 55thFriendship goals.

Kaine calls on GOP to cancel recess and pass Zika bill.  (Zika is in Florida.)

Yay Bernie!  Boosting downstream candidates.

Hope trumps hate.

Someone made a list of one day in Trump.

Turns out #2 isn’t so against political links.  Though she also recommends this instead.

The daily show continues to be the best show for non-sexist hillary clinton humor (also, Samantha Bee).  Here’s some newspaper cartoon humor.

He has not actually done this yet.

Intersectional woman’s reading list.

Is it wrong that I found this funny?

19 of the prettiest ladies on the planet.  Poor #11.

Freddie Freeman’s cat.

Willems Shakespeare

ICYMI:  Flossing

Burritoad

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