RandomBraggingOnChildren

  • DC1 has always been exactly average height for hir age/non-skipped grade.  DC2 has always been a bit tall for hir exact age, which put hir as average or a little above average for hir grade (because zie has a late summer birthday), but over the summer this year, zie has gotten HUGE.  Zie is towering over kids in first grade with early Fall birthdays.  Zie isn’t the tallest, but zie is close.
  • Also this summer DC2 decided to skip over things like Magic Treehouse or Cam Jansen or the A to Z mysteries and go straight from books with lots of pictures and badly behaved main characters (Bad Kitty, Franny K. Stein, etc.) to Harry Potter.  We’re not quite sure how that happened.  Or where to go from here.  Zie also loves Ramona books.  Basically it seems like zie completely skipped things at 2nd-4th grade reading and interest level other than a brief flirtation with Junie B. Jones.
  • Did I mention that DC2 is absolutely brilliant in math?  Zie has this amazing intuitive understanding of the number system that makes my heart happy whenever zie explains connections zie has figured out to me.
  • We got the learning outcomes for first grade.  They want kids to end at level “J” which is where DC2 ended Kindergarten before this big reading advancement this summer.  And math looks like another completely uninspiring year.  If zie was better at Spanish this would have been a very good year to skip.  But hir teachers seem nice, and oddly they both already knew DC2’s name at back to school night (not true of all of the kids), so maybe they’ve been warned.  They’ve also re-sorted the GT kids across the two classes — I think maybe by gender.  Sadly DC2’s best friend is in the other dual-language class (which was also true last year– they hang out in the after school program), but happily zie isn’t stuck with the one GT kid who actively doesn’t like hir, and there’s not just the one.  (Last year there were 2 in DC2’s class and 4 in the other class.  This year it seems to be 3/3, girls in one class, boys in the other.) [update!  The GT kid DC2 was paired with last year didn’t show up, so they put *all* the GT kids in DC2’s class the first day of class.  DC2 is thrilled.]
  • DC1 has gotten into geometry proofs.  It was hard starting at first– I’d forgotten how frustrating it always is to start a new proof-based subject not knowing what you’re allowed and not allowed to assume.  (I remember back in Number Theory in high school where we had to prove addition (using definitions for distance, IIRC) before we could assume it!  That was super frustrating!  And then in Real Analysis in college we proved addition in a completely different way (set theory, I think?), but that was more in the middle of the semester and less frustrating.  Math is so amazing with the way it all just works.  Well, except for paradoxes and unprovable things but those are really cool too.)  And this is hir first foray into proof-based anything so zie hadn’t had the experience of being initially frustrated an then getting used to the new rules.
  • There’s a new teacher for geometry at the middle-school, coming over from high school.  She sent a very nice email talking about how she’s not really sure how to go about teaching the class in terms of homework and lecture vs. classwork and providing the schedule for the class.  There’s about a 6 week unit on proofs, but the rest is non-proof stuff, including a unit on the end on construction, so I feel vindicated in going through proofs with DC1 this summer.  Plus I had forgotten that the book I’m using has a lot more intro-to-proof stuff that will be useful in later classes that isn’t necessarily there for geometric purposes (indirect proofs, paragraph proofs, etc.)
  • After being obnoxious about two column proofs and complaining that paragraph proofs were somehow better, DC1 has converted into a two column proof evangelist.  They take less writing.
  • DC1’s feet are the same size as mine now.  Hands are still smaller though.
  • My kids are seriously into seaweed snacks.  I don’t understand it at all– I couldn’t handle the taste of dried seaweed until late college, and I still prefer more mild seaweed on my sushi.  (Seaweed salad, otoh, is delicious and has always been.  But that’s a different thing.)
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RBOMoney

  • The private school that DC1 went to for K-4 went out of business.  Luckily DC2 seems to be enjoying dual language in the public schools.  I switched my amazon smile account over to the Planned Parenthood in the nearest city.  I’m not sure what DH will be switching his over to (I suggested ACLU).
  • I got some summer money so now our emergency fund has been completely refilled.
  • DH has gotten into the idea of buying a new mattress and has been investing more time in it than I would, which for now means I’m not immediately rage buying one online.  Last week during a lunch break he went to a local mattress store and tried a bunch of mattresses (he likes tempurapedic memory foam) and wrote down how firm he thought they were.  Next he went online and tried to find firmness levels for those specific mattresses.  He’s hoping to be able to use that information should we decide to buy a bed in a box online.  [update:  it did not help because mattresses sold in stores exist nowhere else, apparently]
  • I was talking to a finance professor at a conference this summer and he told me that upper-middle-class people such as myself should be invested in 100% stocks until age 45 or so because the variation between stocks and jobloss isn’t close enough to make it worthwhile to invest in bonds.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, but something worth thinking about.  I should probably purge my retirement accounts of bonds and shift any bond over to taxable, if I’m going to have bonds.  But I will probably put all of this off.
  • In the end we decided to take the king bed plunge and went with Loom and Leaf.  Sadly they didn’t have a platform bed option (and the place we got our last platform bed no longer sells them!) So we ended up getting a Best Price Mattress Model E from Amazon.  There is some concern that Amazon may send the wrong item, but Walmart was out of king-size and Target doesn’t carry this brand.  We went with Overstock.com for new sheets and mattress pads.  We haven’t actually *gotten* the mattress yet because we need a two week window in which we can guarantee one of us will be home to let them in to take away our old mattress and box springs.  But we did order the bed and sheets…
  • DH’s employer bought everyone new laptops, and the result is equivalent to his four-year old desktop for the same price (except for a better monitor and graphics card).  The price was the same.  So the price of portability is about 4 years of technological progress.

What do you have your amazon smile account linked to?

RBOC

  • My car just starts now when I try to start it.  It’s amazing.
  • I made shrimp paste for the first time and it was surprisingly easy and surprisingly tasty.  I may need to try some more retro sandwich pastes now.
  • We’re starting to get into the dregs of completing my best of cooking light cookbook.  That sometimes leads to surprising discoveries, but more often there’s a reason we put off those recipes instead of doing them right away (usually because they look like effort, and they turn out to be effort).
  • Grrr.  Stupid Republican Tax Bill means that I now have to pay taxes on my already too-expensive work parking.  But there’s really no way to not have an annual permit given where my office is.  (Like, we could move our housing and live closer to a bus stop, but there’s no way to live in walking distance.)
  • We did back-to-school shopping later than usual this year and man was it picked over.  And what is up with schools wanting 12×18 papers of various kinds and neither Target nor Walmart stocking them?
  • DC1 has recently discovered that if you want to keep your new card deck from clumping, you have to wash and dry your hands before touching it.  (DC1 is really into card tricks these days.)
  • One of the daycamps (a programming camp!) we were sending DC1 to had a truly ridiculous waiver that they wanted us to sign off on– absolving them of all wrong and disallowing lawsuits even should they be criminally negligent and agreeing to pay their court fees should we sue anyway.  We refused to sign it.  They let us drop DC1 off anyway, but then called and said they couldn’t take hir so DH had to pick hir back up.  All of the camps we send our kids to have waivers and some are pretty silly (the university math camp last year listed “pencil injuries” in the form blank of example injuries), but this one seemed dangerously so.  Especially since it’s a small company and doesn’t have the reputational concerns that say, the university has (although they said the rule was a franchise rule).  Ugh, so that’s another $400 of DDA account money that isn’t getting spent, on top of the $295 for a camp that was cancelled.
  • On Sunday we didn’t have any posts queued and #2 suggested a summer vacation for the blog.  Except I’m sure there’s a question I need to ask you all but I cannot remember what it is.  Wouldn’t it be horrible to have no readership and no twitter account when I needed advice on a purchase?  So that’s why this RBOC is [ed:  was before I put in a couple more bullets Monday morning] shorter than usual– it was pulled from drafts without having time to truly marinate.
  • Remember that whole house water filter we bought that took forever to get installed?  This is a picture of the first filter after 3 months.  No wonder our unfiltered water was so gross.
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RBOC

  • Lately I’ve been feeling a bit creative about foods.  For example, I recently decided to make savory pancakes with Northwoods seasoning (similar to Emeril’s, but available from Penzey’s– kind of a paprika thyme garlic salt mix) and no sugar, just eggs, flour, a little olive oil, and seasoning.  We also made a roasted red pepper dip that I really want to add sour cream to and use as the base cream for a vegetable tart which would be like a fruit tart but with roasted veggies instead of fruit and this red pepper cream instead of custard.  Maybe puff pastry on the bottom.  I wish we still had easy access to WW puff pastry squares with butter like we did back in Paradise.
  • When dealing with blog/internet drama, we often ask, “What would Scalzi do?”  That’s generally a good guide.
  • I made the mistake of looking at the youtube comments on Georgy Girl (the song) and they were full of misogynist men ranting about feminists and how songs like this were so wholesome (and to go to the Ukraine to get wives because they’re totally subservient)… but… Georgy Girl (the movie) is one of the least innocent movies I’ve ever seen.  Maybe these commenters see themselves in the position of the creepy rich old man at the end (more likely they just don’t actually know anything).  (Georgy Girl is definitely a movie that works as a cautionary tale for women to never be dependent on a man!)
  • I’ve noticed my OCD tendencies gradually getting worse.  I suspect this has to do with feeling like I have no locus of control with world events.  So nameplates need to be centered and teas need to be organized and categorizing things is even more soothing than usual.  (Looking at my home and workplace you’d never know I had these tendencies unless you looked at my spices or my bookcases.  I am a very alphabetized slob.)
  • My fear of crowds has also gotten worse since I had that panic attack at the first women’s march.  I had to do CBT breathing walking around a dealer’s hall at a spec fic convention in a nearby city, which is something I haven’t really had to do before because the level of crowding didn’t used to hit my panic-meter (unlike, say, amusement parks during the busy season).
  • I am excited that wide pants are coming back (at least where I live– my most recent trip to the east coast shows they’re still wearing skin-tight pants) and that ripped jeans are in and that it’s summer.  This means I was able to unearth my favorite pair of jeans that got put into storage many years ago because the knee is ripped across and I am a grown-up.  They are SO COMFY!  And fashionable!
  • If you hate a lot of people, chances are I am one of them.  (Not counting the hate we should all have for fascists and racists and Nazis.)  Except #2 likes me, which is the exception that proves the rule.
  • Obviously the room labeled “Quiet Area” is where you go to have a conversation. Of course. Because it’s quiet.
  • DC1 was in the “worst” (and largest) of 3 orchestras in middle school this past year.  Zie was kind of upset because zie had hoped zie would at least make it into the middle orchestra after the previous year, even though zie started a year behind (in 5th grade zie played trumpet while we were on leave instead of violin).  Zie worked super hard this year, practicing at least 30 min/day every day and doing more pointed practicing (zie read the intro to “Practice Perfect” and a lot of what hir previous orchestra teacher had been trying to say about how to practice finally made sense), and we got a better (and very strict) outside teacher who started teaching hir basic stuff like how to correctly hold a bow.  (DH and I both played brass so we are completely clueless when it comes to strings.)  Zie is one of TWO kids moving from the enormous “bad” orchestra to the smaller “best” orchestra.  (Most of the movement comes from the middle orchestra to the small best one or from the best players at the previous school.) We weren’t expecting this outcome at all– DC1 had been hoping to make it to the middle orchestra and is worried that zie isn’t ready for the small elite one, but we have 3 months and lots of summer lessons for hir to get ready.  I’m super proud at how hard zie has worked.  :)
  • The fourth child (third daughter) of DH’s relative is going to graduate from high school a year early (!) and has definite college plans.  She wants to be either a teacher or a journalist, but probably a teacher (because her top choice state school isn’t the journalism school but has a good teaching program).  We told the relative not to bother with community college since she’s state-school eligible and we would 100% foot the bill.  We’re trying paying for high school summer camp for her even though that didn’t work out well for the oldest when we tried 7 or so years ago because of homesickness.  But they are different people.  And if there is homesickness, I guess that will help make the community college or not decision.  It would really be nice if the last two kids get degrees right out of high school.
  • i made chicken tetrazzini (cooking light style) and I really liked it.  It was a real comfort food which is odd because it isn’t one my family made, but definitely a midwestern potluck staple.  So much comfort food that is out of style these days.  I did leave out the pimiento and increased the mushrooms and roux (with milk in place of water) instead of using a can of cream of mushroom soup.  So updated a bit and the cooking light version had more veggie than the tetrazzini of my youth.
  • I saw a high temp forecasted for tomorrow and I said, I kid you not, “Holy schnorkles!”  I do not know what has happened to my words.
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RBOC

  • I hate it the way people in the South default to Mrs. instead of Ms. in writing.  (In speech it all slurs to Miz.)  The thing that bothers me about it is not the assumption about my marital status, but the way that they call me Mrs. Maiden, when properly I am Mrs. Married.  (Legally, I am Ms. Maiden or Dr. Maiden, but I’m not picky about that outside of my work.)  I have the weirdest grammar OCD triggers.
  • It also really really bugs me when people write beta * X instead of X * beta when X is a vector and not a single variable.  How do journals let this get through copy editing?!?
  • I have recently done some interdisciplinary work with non-economists that’s been placing in interdisciplinary journals.  It is insane how much faster and easier the publication process is with these.  First off, the papers are a lot shorter and aren’t criticized for telling part rather than the entire story.  Then the turnaround is so much faster!  And they ask for so much less on the revisions.  And they’re so positive.  And there’s fewer revisions.  My n isn’t very large right now, but man, this could get addicting.  I wonder how much of this is the anonymity (reviewers don’t know who we are) and how much is the lack of anonymity (editors do, and my credentials seem to be more impressive to non-economists than to my peers who also have the same or better credentials).
  • I made another obscure academic pun.  I crack me up.  But I don’t crack anybody else up.
  • *this* year’s mother’s day tea (with the kindergarten) specifically says that the person taking place of mom if she can’t come must be a grandmother or aunt (so no dads– I will be interested to see if the fathers day donuts thing has similar instructions) AND that younger siblings need to stay at home.  So… sucks for both working moms AND SAHM this time around.  At least it’s at 8:30am which is before work instead of in the middle of the day.  I’ll be at a conference in another city though.  I really hate these taxes on parents.
  • It has become even more difficult to view facebook and twitter if you don’t have an account.  That makes it pretty clear that it’s not advertising that they’re trying to sell– if that were the case, they’d be happy for me to read through and they’d just show me more ads, especially on the facebook pages for business.  No, they want information.  They want a world in which corporations are big brother and can perfectly target… and possibly more.  All those mid to late 1990s movies were pretty prescient.  Information is power.
  • Did you ever have one of those days where you thought you were gonna leave the house and be all together and collected but then it turns out later you’re not as together as you thought?  For example, I need a belt.  I do not have a belt.
  • I have to take an online course in order to be allowed to telework.  Yay?
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RBOC

  • Little kitty got another ear infection—this time two bacteria and a fungus.  :(
  • FINALLY got DC1 hooked on Diana Wynne Jones.  I was getting worried that it was never going to happen, and even worse, that there was something actually wrong with the Chrestomanci series (like the suck fairy visiting), even though I have definitely reread it as an adult.  But apparently zie just needed to grow into it.  The lives of Christopher Chant hooked hir so hard that zie chose to finish reading it instead of playing video games (or sleeping)!  And that was after Charmed Life, which I consider to be one of her creepiest novels.  (Granted, after I read it the first time I flipped straight to the beginning and read it again!)
  • I often wonder how DC1 can be so smart and so thoughtful, and yet be seemingly completely incapable of:  hanging up hir wet towel, putting away hir empty fizzy water can, or putting on a shirt right side out and not backwards.
  • DC1 grew three inches in three months.  In theory zie no longer needs a booster seat, though since most of that height is leg, in practice zie still needs a booster seat.
  • Posts that say you “need 300K to be middle class” in any specific part of the US confuse being middle class with being able to have everything.  You do NOT need 300K/year to live in a 2-3br place in good school district, eat yummy food, save for retirement, and have some luxuries anywhere in the US that’s commutable for work.  Even Manhattan.  Yes, you need that or more to have a McMansion in those places/send kids to private school/have elaborate lengthy vacations and so on, but when you have all of those things someplace where it’s also amazing to live (and expensive because it’s so amazing), you’re no longer middle class.  Last time I did a calculation, which was before the Trump tax hike for people who live in coastal states, we’d need 230K/year to move out there with no negative lifestyle changes other than downsizing and renting.  But we are NOT MIDDLE CLASS.  That’s a life without any sacrifice except the one imposed by reality.  And we’d be getting more of so many other wonderful things (eating out a lot more!).  (Alas, DH does not have a job offer for 230K and I have no job prospects.)  There’s a big difference between comfortable and upper.
  • It takes a while to refill an emergency/slush fund that you’ve just taken 33K out of.
  • The plumbing company owner came out finally and figured out a way to get our water filter to fit in our hot water heater closet where the main water line enters the house.  But then sort of ghosted again instead of scheduling an appointment.  Not a high priority, but man… I do wonder if this is ever going to happen.
  • The women’s history month thing turned out to be a huge waste of time.  Two terrible talks (including one that went double or triple time) and two decent talks.  Followed by 12 minutes remaining for the poster session which ended at 5pm, which meant that almost everybody (including the fourth speaker whose talk was really interesting, but sadly abbreviated) had to leave to get their kids before 5pm instead of looking at posters.  I left with 6 min remaining since nobody had looked at my poster other than the group of 6 students whose poster was next to mine (“This looks really… complicated… how do you know so much statistics?”) and they were crowding in my space trying to stand in front of their own poster.
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RBOC

  • DC1’s algebra teacher quit to join administration a couple of weeks after the second semester started (after a week long absence).  I guess we’ll have to keep a closer eye on the rest of the semester since algebra is so fundamental and I’m pretty sure zie doesn’t now how to factor polynomials even if zie does know how to multiply them.
  • Super bummed that Teen Vogue is no longer doing a print edition.  The last few issues were AMAZING, including one guest edited by HRC.  Irritatingly, they switched DC1’s subscription over to Allure magazine “the magazine for people who care about beauty” or something like that.  Full of “beauty tips.”  This month’s issue was on nudity and had a nearly naked airbrushed stereotypical model on the cover.  Completely not appropriate for an 11 year old or really anybody.  And very different from a magazine that features people like Malala Yousafzi on the cover.  I will be getting a check for $2 in the mail for my cancellation– Teen Vogue should have been charging more.  It’s a different market and was worth much more than the ridiculous $10 for 2 years or whatever it was I paid.
  • Forgive me, for I have referred to a paper about fertility as “seminal” in published work.  Next up:  referring to a paper about religion as “canonical”.  And a paper about building cities as, “ground-breaking” (or should I save that one for agriculture?).
  • it is weird to me that my kids have had macarons before having had macaroons.
  • DC2 has moved onto chapter books at school.  Zie is in love with the Geronimo Stilton that DC1 read maybe once or twice.  They have such different taste in books.  Really the only commonality is that they both love Jim Benton, author of Franny K Stein and Dear Dumb Diary.  I so wish we had Scholastic so I could indulge in buying sets of series we don’t have (like Thea Stilton!)
  • Preserved walnuts are really good.  If you ever get the opportunity to try/buy them, take it!
  • My cholesterol is fine this year (whew!), so maybe all that additional lunchtime walking did some good!  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have helped with my vitamin D levels (which may explain the fatigue I’ve been having), so my doctor wants me to go from 2000 iu to 5000 iu.  I’m going to compromise and do 4000 iu because that means I can have a 2000 iu when I brush my teeth and keep another bottle of 2000 iu in my office when I get my mid-day slump.
  • It isn’t a bargain if you can’t afford it.
  • We owed an additional $2846 in taxes this year, not counting the estimated taxes for this next year.  [Update:  We forgot a whole ton of donations– didn’t go through the school email folder or the check register, so it’s actually $100 less than that.  With the additional donations, we’re just a little over the standard deduction.  Also turns out there’s no point for us to declare a home office since we don’t get anywhere near the minimum for it to count for us– We make too much and our house is too big and too cheap.]
  • DC2’s school was having a performance for parents/relatives and one of their dances had them shooting with finger guns.  This disturbed DC2 enormously given that they started practicing right after the FL school shooting.  Thankfully someone decided to change that number to something in less bad taste.