Parenting Rules

by saacnmama

What are your rules of parenting? Do you agree with Sontag’s?

Susan Sontag’s List of 10 Parenting Rules

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215 thoughts on “Parenting Rules

  1. Rule 1) Don’t overthink it.
    Rule 2) When in doubt, refer to Rule 1.

    The list in the article is fine.

  2. Atlanta – I (sheepishly) will admit that we struggle to get in two baths a week. And, one DS has taken to wearing his PJs under his clothes this winter. He has gone a few days wearing the same PJs 24/7 before DH or I noticed.

  3. Hmmm. Generally yes. And yet it bugs me a little that so much is written in the negative. There’s a difference between “don’t discourage” and “encourage.” Even the rules that are written as “dos” are constraints — do control myself when I feel like badmouthing his dad; do make sure my kid understands that some things are none of his business; etc.

    I actually agree with all of these rules as written (I think #10 is actually a very appropriate use of the three negatives). But overall, it gives me the impression of parenting as somewhat of a straightjacket, as 18 years of making sure that mom and child both color within the lines. And it leaves me wishing for some more positive “dos” — rules that involve joy, love, encouragement, fun, freedom, etc. etc. etc.

  4. We bathe the kids every day. However, a friend has pointed out that bath time is the hippie parent’s tv. 4p on a Sunday afternoon? Let’s spend an hour in the tub with some bubbles and kitchen utensils. Don’t push your brother’s head under the water and don’t interrupt mommy and daddy while they are drinking wine.

  5. ATM – Oh us too and then when Milo posted that Washington Post article about how you shouldn’t bathe your kids every day, I could then validate my laziness.

  6. The list is fine.

    Now for the rant/tangent: But it has become a big pet peeve of mine that so many of these lists (6 out of the 10 on this one) are DON’T.

    English is a fully formed language. Negatives can, I want to say always, be expressed positively:
    “Don’t forget to call your mother.” is better said, IMHO, as “Remember to call your mother.”

    I try to model this but, yes, sometimes I fail.

    The key is to express what you want to happen.

    My example from Wegman’s OTC drug section: “Non-aspirin product”
    Well, what is it?

  7. We have baths either once a week or when they stink, whichever comes first. :) So the 7 yo gets bathed least and the 2 and 5 yo about the same.

    LfB – I agree – it is more of a “remember HANDS OFF” list in the negative – but if you consider that it was written in 1959, the hands-off approach fits right in. :) I think the “grown up world that’s none of his business” would be phrased much differently today!

    On a totally different note, I have been following the Tsarnaev (marathon bombing) trial and the surveillance footage of the young Chinese guy who escaped from his hijacked car is really amazing.

  8. I agree in general – but see this list as three basic concepts.

    1. Consistency – At an early age consistencyand routine, which for the child means predictablity is very important. However, they also need to learn what to do if something isn’t EXACTLY the same. As they get older, consistency becomes more about values and decision making, as they are learning that some things are situation dependent. This rings true to me for the praise based on circumstance as well. However, even as an adult routines help me make sure things get done and to stay on time.

    2. “You are not the center of the universe” – this comes on the list through the monopolization rule and none of his business rule, which I also think is important. Knowing that the world does not revolve around your every need, want, and desire is a good lesson.

    3. Realize you are a role model – the way you treat your child, spouse, others, especially in front of other people, tells them what is OK behavior and what is not. This also bleeds over into what is acceptable to share and what is not as well as how much to share – such as not sharing salary information specifically, but it might be OK to tell your friend you got the raise you asked for, or not sharing personal health information other than the person is recovering well from their surgery or they are recovering more slowly and yes, taking a meal over would be helpful.

  9. Rhett – Nope they hate showers. It’s a time thing, especially on school days. Often it’s a choice of should they get a bath or should they do their homework.

  10. Oh, yeah, we sucked on the bathing too. First 9 mos.+ DD couldn’t stand water on her head and would shriek to holy hell the whole time, so we doused and scrubbed as rarely and as quickly as possible. By the time she could tolerate it, it wasn’t a particularly joyous/relaxing occasion for us. So we kind of defaulted to the L schedule. Although we do shoot for every other day with DS, now that he is growing into his dad’s stinky feet.

    And as affirmative proof that what goes around comes around, DD now showers at least once a day, frequently more — and now we’re the ones telling her to hurry up and leave some hot water for the rest of us.

  11. My kids mostly enjoyed bath time until their tweens, then it became seen more as a chore. As little ones it was part of the wind down of the day and afterward we snuggled and read before turning out the lights. Hair washing was a different issue. DD#1 was fine with it; DD#2 HATED it, and has always been extremely tenderheaded.

  12. This doesn’t help with hair washing, but when my mom was hospitalized the staff often used these: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B007MCCDJA/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    They’re kind of like really big, sturdy baby wipes, but less oily. If I were doing it all again, I’d probably ease off the nightly baths and just wipe the kid down with these several times a week and save the big bath for hair washing and extra cleanup.

  13. “and now we’re the ones telling her to hurry up and leave some hot water for the rest of us”

    Maybe the poor kid’s just trying to warm up :)

  14. ATM, that’s why I love the handheld shower head. It made it so easy to aim at exactly the parts that needed washing, scrub ’em up, and rinse. Less than 3 min. But a couple times a week is the new goal so you’re ok anyway. I’ve been trying to let my guy decide for himself, but at 3 days tend not to be able to restrain myself from stepping in. I hope that adolescence will get him to shower more often as he notices that he’s stinky. Right now he doesn’t swest that much.

    LfB, I see what you mean about the negatives, didn’t notice it before. Some of them, like the one about praise, are a matter of sentence formulation, but with others it really is hard to think of it as anything other than restraint. When it comes to dealing with kids, of course, it is always important to tell them what to do (sit down) as opposed to what not to do (don’t stand on your chair).

    Btw, this website is a new favorite of mine. Check out the recordings on it of Nimoy reading the Martian Chronicles n

  15. Maybe the poor kid’s just trying to warm up :)

    LOL!

    To that end, any update on the energy audit?

  16. “To that end, any update on the energy audit?”

    For my issues? Bless that guy’s heart, I was ready to replace, but he said let’s hold off for now. He was able to inject a couple pounds and a few hundred dollars worth of refrigerant into it*, and said let’s see how that goes and reevaluate in the late Spring, before you really start needing the A/C. Apparently the pressure measurements aren’t as reliable in cold weather for some reason.

    *It seems that the refrigerant it uses is no longer on the market, by law. So whenever I get it topped off, he’s adding refrigerant that was previously evacuated from another system that was being dismantled. And the price keeps rising.

  17. DS1 bathes once a day and needs it. DS2 bathes every other day. Since he hasn’t hit puberty yet, he can skip a day or two without smelling.

  18. For my issues?

    I was thinking more of LfB and her roaring furnace and army of space heaters trying to get the inside temp above 58.

  19. The list is pretty common sense, but just the fact that she made such a list makes her sound very uptight about the whole endeavor. I wonder how her kid turned out?

  20. My 14 yo showers every day (and takes too long because he enjoys it). The other two shower every other day. I always found that baths right before bed didn’t work – my kids would get all revved up and then wouldn’t sleep. So we always did them before dinner.

  21. @Milo — LOL. Did you bug my car last night? Because DD insisted on a bath as soon as we got home from dinner, claiming she was freezing (as it was our first 60-degree day, I’m not exactly buying it, but I sure did snort my tea at your post).

    In fact the energy audit starts in an hour — huzzah! I will be sure to report all of the engineering tech-ey stuff, transliterated into English as accurately as I can convey (no calculus tho, sorry).

  22. Yeah- long, hot showers were my go-to way to keep warm whenever I lived in cold climates.

  23. WCE, now there’s a reason to take the math track! I sent in a topic re math in everyday life as a possible pi day topic (or for any other day). I don’t know if CoC plans to use it.

    Rio, hot showers are nice, but for keeping warm for days they can’t touch a sauna with several back n forths between hot & cold.

  24. The groom was rejected because he mislead the bride and her family on his education level. He could not add 15 and 6. I don’t really blame her. How many of us would marry someone who could not add 15 and 6?

  25. For some reason, I’m not a fan of rules. Maybe because I know I’ll break them. (Even “be consistent” – I’m mostly consistent, because obviously that’s a good thing, but I reserve the right to be inconsistent when the situation calls for it or when I’m just stretched too far and decide it’s not the end of the world to take the easy way one night.) With different kids, or as they change over time, it makes sense to me to adapt your style and way of doing things. My kids are very, very different people, and cannot be parented the same way. We have one set of values that are the basis for our decisions, and the single goal of raising good people into adulthood, but how we try to achieve that has to adapt. I hate that so much of my thought processes now seem to start with “it depends….”, but there is just so much nuance to some situations.

  26. Even I can add 15 + 6. I’d have dumped him, too.

    I hated bath time. The kids were fine with it but I dreaded it. All that kneeling and bending over and you get soaked. And for me it came at the worst part of the day (as did reading out loud which I mostly failed at). The day they could take their own baths and showers was one of the best days ever.

    Did you see the other article, with the list of things F Scott told his daughter to worry about and not worry about? Don’t worry about flies, do worry about horsemanship. Love it.

  27. “Anyone have any absurd parenting rules?”

    Absurd is in the eye of the beholder. I place almost no weight whatsoever on parenting books and philosophies that are based on poorly controlled research, which is pretty much all of it.

  28. When we build our home, it will have a steam or a sauna. Which one is better? Once I had an occasion to visit a doctors house for non medical reasons. They had this humongous drive-out basement with a large workout area with a steam and a sauna, a raised area with disco balls hanging( they had teenage kids) and a theater room besides and large open area. Fabulous

    I would reject that groom too.

  29. Happy Friday! I know I’ve been MIA for awhile but I wanted to stop in and say hi. Also, I would totally not marry someone who lied about their education background. my ex did and it should have been a huge red flag.

  30. My kids had a short bathtub in the one bathroom in the growing up duplex, and not all that much hot water, so as soon as they could stand up reliably it was showers with the parents until they aged out. I think when they got older we had a split schedule two showered at night, two in the morning, every other day unless filthy. It is hard to remember. Bathing was not one of our problem areas, and believe me there were many.

    I am a steam (shvitz) person as opposed to sauna. The one time I belonged to a full gym that was the attraction for me.

  31. Speaking of hand-held shower heads. . .I was placed in a handicap-accessible hotel room this week. I’ve been in some of those rooms before but this one was different. First, all the light switches were at waist level – I’ve never seen that before, but OK. What really got me was that the bathtub was outfitted with all the requisite rails and hand-held showerhead, but it did not have a regular showerhead, and the hand-held was placed just below shoulder height on me so I couldn’t stand under it to wash my hair. Add on that the water was cold the first morning when I was in a hurry and I probably won’t go back there.

  32. Which one is better?

    You can upgrade a regular walk in shower and add steam. But, if you want a sauna AFAIK you need a separate area.

  33. The most important parenting rule IMO is most of it just doesn’t matter. Just use common sense.

  34. I just read in the NYT that wet wipes are not really flushable. Makes my washlet toilet look a lot less extreme.

  35. I encountered the practical implications of Rule #2 for the first time last week; I was telling DH about something that had happened with a kid in DS’s class while I was volunteering, and DS pipes up from the backseat “Oh, mommy, you are talking about X. He is special and has special rules and has a person that helps calm him down all day.” It was my first wake up call that, even when we are not “naming names”, DS is old enough now to figure out who/what we are talking about.

    On the steam/sauna: saunas are much easier to maintain. Steam rooms (and steam showers) are really susceptible to mold/mildew, so you have to clean them frequently (how frequently depends on how often you use it).

  36. Makes me laugh because I have a preschooler who is all about rules, especially for basic, everyday stuff.

    I had to come down the stairs from my home office once last week (which NEVER happens) because he told the nanny that Mama is the only grownup who can make rules . . . had to disabuse him of that notion immediately :)

    The new rule in question? No headstands on the staircase. I think I trust Nanny’s judgment on that one!

  37. Quotes from the cleaning crew (who have been here 45 min so far & are all wearing face masks)
    -I love projects like this. Can I take pictures for my website?
    -you’re not dirty, just messy (I’m a sucker for this, <3 it!)
    -does having us here inspire you to work more? (Why yes, we are indeed lazy slobs lost in our own detritus when left on our own).

  38. But SWVA, if it’s handheld, you don’t stand under it. You spray the top of your head, then the sides, the nape of your neck…. For thick hair like mine, getting a good rinse while standing under a shower head requires all kinds of contortion that the handheld eliminates. Not to mention those, uh PERIODic times I need to cover specific places where gravity won’t take water directly.

  39. I don’t know that we have any rules, although the kids have always had at least one bath a day since they were babies. After reading the posts about bathing, I wonder:
    A) was I doing it wrong, because bathing seemed like a no stress time killer
    B) How did you manage to keep your kids clean enough not to need a bath?
    C) How else to you get the strained carrots off a baby?

  40. Meme, what kind of home spa do you have? Is it big enough for two? Does the water stay in it all the time? How much does it take to fill it?

  41. “A) was I doing it wrong, because bathing seemed like a no stress time killer
    B) How did you manage to keep your kids clean enough not to need a bath?”

    Murphy – A) bathing my twins is stressful. I’ve outsourced it to DH. They protest about taking a bath, get really worked during it and then do not get out. This is followed by running around naked, clothes and towels everywhere, and general silliness. You must have done something right. BTW – the solution is to not bathe them together, but that takes longer and they don’t like that either.

    B) Umm, we don’t.

  42. Anothertwinmom, your description of bath time sounds like our bath time, when the kids were younger (and to some extent, it is still like that with DD – lots of water everywhere). That is why we couldn’t do the traditional bath-before-bed. It always took at least an hour for my kids to come down from their post-bath highs.

  43. Mooshi – It’s a blast for them, once they get in, but it’s loud and the kids do not follow directions and make a mess so not so much fun for DH. I hear of these parents that read to their kids during bath time and cannot fathom it.

  44. I have been in many coversations were parents, though mainly moms, feel compelled to lay out their parenting philosophy for others, who then of course criticize them. I agree with MBT that the way you parent the child, depends on the child and the situation.

    When my DDs were younger, we followed fairly strict routines especially enforcing bedtimes, but that is because that is what worked – kept our household humming along with less grumpy adults and kids. At their tween/teen ages, many things have loosened up to be guidelines. However, if grades, health or general sanitation fall below acceptable levels, then these morph back into rules.

    Agree with Milo – absurd is in the eye of the beholder and generally are our judgment placed on someone else’s rules. One of our rules was the children did not turn on the tv or change the channel without permission.

  45. One of our rules was the children did not turn on the TV or change the channel without permission.

    AustinMom – while not an explicit rule, my kids follow this, except on weekend mornings when DH and I are sleeping. They also always ask to use my phone/computer/iPad, except they may use the iPad on Sat. mornings when DH and I are still sleeping. Sundays the rule is no iPad unless homework is done.

    My kids still like frozen peas straight from the freezer. I find it absurd, but that’s what they like.

  46. I stopped the daily bath or shower in second grade when I learned that lice like clean hair. Some kids aren’t dirty in the winter in northern areas if they are always inside.

    We will not skip a shower during allergy season due to pollen in hair/bosy

  47. I used to do kid baths on alternating nights, but my DH is a fan of the nightly bath. So if he’s home they get one nightly, and if he’s not, I skip days! We wash hair on alternating nights. I find my kids smell if we skip more than one day. Mine don’t mind baths at all, but at various times one or more of them has *hated* hair washing.

    When can they shower alone? My 7 year old can clean her body fine by herself, but still needs help to figure out rinsing shampoo /conditioner out of her hair. She’s the easiest with that so far.

    I don’t do rules either, really. At least, not the kind i could list. (No headstands on the stairs seems like a good one, but not one I’d think to list!) Someone here once said the only rule was 1) is it safe? 2) is it kind? 3) is it respectful? I borrowed that and use it a lot because it seems like a good common-sense rundown to start with kids.

  48. I love that safe/kind/respectful thing – covers a lot of ground. I’m adopting that one.

  49. We have daily shower rules starting in grade 5. Before then, it is once or twice a week with unless brought on by dirt. I am curious why Susan Sontag’s rules get any airplay. Was she a a great mother or was she just famous in a way the New York Times would approve of? The information provided with the article does not paint a picture of great warmth on her part.

  50. Meme, the plumber told us the same thing about those bathroom wipes last year, and we got a washlet for the master and cold water bidet attachments for the rest of the house.

    I’m not sure I have any parenting rules, other than that you will be fully dressed with your bed made before you are allowed breakfast.

    DH is glad he doesn’t have to follow that one. Yet.

  51. ATM – the bath behavior you described is much like what DS used to do. You will be pleased to know that all that will pass, including the phase of splashing water outside the bathtub and leaving water on the floor of the bathroom.DD used to take a bath afterhim and has slipped on the wet floor.
    It is now a phase of who needs to have their bath first. I grew tired and annoyed of keeping track of who bathed first, yesterday. Now I just order one of them to go first.

  52. In retrospect, most of our rules are for a period of time (like don’t wake mom and dad up before 7 am on the weekend – now they are rarely up before 8) to keep at least the adults sane and/or reduce grumpiness in children. As I think back, most of the rules we set have now been incorporated into their pervue of judgment. For example, we used to make them ask before eating snacks to (1) avoid gorging on candy/sweets and (2) keep a fairly regular eating schedule. But, as they learned to be aware of the general meal times and neither one tends to gorge on sweets, it no longer a rule or even comes up.

  53. Yes, flushable wipes will wreak plumbing havoc! I know others here have mentioned news stories about this issue. We lived it firsthand–apparently they just build up in the system over years and years and eventually the water has no where to go. Fortunately for us it was discovered when flushing one toilet made clean water from both toilets overflow, so we were able to get it fixed without any crazy sewage problems. The plumber told us that they just don’t disintegrate as claimed and problems are essentially inevitable–apparently he gets a lot of business now based on this problem.

  54. Louise – Good to be reminded! They are at that funny stage where running around naked after bath time is OK but me being in their room while getting dressed is not. I’m still waiting for them to settle down a bit in general.

  55. Was she a a great mother

    ” He alludes in his book to a difficult relationship with Sontag, but won’t discuss it further. The two were physically undemonstrative people who spoke mainly on the phone.” He being her son David.

  56. Baths in our house are about the loudest time of the day. The kids yell and splash and then shriek bloody murder if you rinse their heads. Plus all sounds are magnified with the tile. Come to think of it, I should use ear plugs. ;)

    To get the baby clean without a tub, we hold him/her over the kitchen sink and spray his/her head with the pull-out spray faucet. You can also use baby shampoo, but if the food is not caked/congealed yet, it will come out easily.

  57. ATM – they will settle down at some point. DS took a very long time and it has been very challenging. Even homework used to mean half an hour of running around, shrieking that it is too hard and then settling down to do it. When DD does the same work it takes her 10 minutes. DH says DS is like him, so let’s see how it all turns out.

  58. So clearly I don’t feel like working today. . . .

    Anyone else devising traps to catch Leprechauns? The kids are all into planning very elaborate traps with ladders, cardboard rolls, pretend gold coins and honey.

  59. I’m going to try to dictate this. we have no steam shower it was to elaborate to install. we do have a deep soaker tub, with an air jet feature, not a Jacuzzi. we can use oils, bubble bath, and salts. in a Jacuzzi, you cannot use additives and you must clean with a bleach type: solution after every use. a hot tub can stay filled, but requires chlorine or natural equivalent. the master bath remodel added the stand up shower swapped out the old toilet for a wash look put in double sinks but left the tub a single in the same footprint.

  60. Sontag spoke “mainly to her son on the phone” is not the kind of relationship I am shooting for with my kids. I guess he is publishing her papers to make up for the distance in the relationship and that is some kind of legacy. I wonder what Susan Sontag thought about Linux or Leprechauns. We made traps in Kindy and first grade. We were not able to trap any Leprechauns. Leprechauns were able to disrupt classrooms, mostly during lunch and recess.

  61. traps to catch Leprechauns

    That’s seems horribly insensitive to an historically disadvantaged ethic group.

  62. Rhett – Ah those Leprechauns are mighty clever. We haven’t been able to trap one yet, going back decades if we count extended family. This might also be our last year. One of mine asked if DH and I left the green leprechaun footprints and note. This development portends no good for Easter.

  63. S&M, I love a good hand-held for all the reasons you mentioned, but I think they should be adjustable enough to serve as a “regular” shower head too. We have one in DD’s bath that is attached to the original regular showerhead and there’s a way to toggle between them. It was originally installed for dog-bathing, then used by me during pregnancy when I couldn’t reach everything, and then by DD to take a shower without the spray coming from so high up.

  64. I enjoyed bathtimes when the kids were young. From about the time they could crawl, until they were too big for the baby tub, we’d use the baby tub in the shower stall with a handheld shower, mounted at above head height, so DW and I could still stand under it when in its bracket

    Bath time was when the kids would tell me about their days (e.g., in day care or preschool or school), they’d ask me all kinds of questions, we’d sing songs, and I’d expound on the importance of making sure to wash between their toes.

  65. One recent favorite bath time activity – suggested by an occupational therapist but fun for all – draw with shaving cream on the tub/shower walls and let the kids use a skirt bottle to get it off. A bit messy but lots of fun.

  66. Do you til cleaning services for a one time visit?

    ATM, I’ve never heard of the leprechaun traps. How adorable! I can picture your boys getting into them.

  67. SWVA, in most accessible showers I’ve seen, the handheld bracket is mounted on a vertical rod, and can slide on that rod to various heights, from above head height for most people down to a little above the height of the fold-down seat, for hands-free use.

  68. “ATM, I’ve never heard of the leprechaun traps. How adorable! I can picture your boys getting into them.”

    But you need to make sure they can get out, in them in case you have a fire.

  69. DS wants to know how you get over the disappointment of never catching any, if there is chocolate or some reward for the kids.

  70. These St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are utterly foreign to me. All we did was dress in green and have some green cookies with green milk. How common are notes/presents from leprechauns and traps?

  71. Milo – re: the Duggars. Since we started watching the show, my daughter and I frequently shout at the television when we see examples of why they need an education. Clearly, Jana has heard us. Good for her!! I hope she really does it.

  72. MBT – I’m all for them having their unique parenting and values for their minor children, but when the “kids” are 25, it’s time to let them go out into the world if they so choose. When you’re 12, chores and “jurisdictions” and “buddies” are fine. When you’re 25, it’s slave labor.

    I hope she goes. Let the show film at whatever college she attends. That could be really interesting material.

  73. Well, I didn’t til them, but she said I only had to pay them for 3.5 hrs even though they were here for 4. I paid for 4 & got them Pizza Fusion pizza & drinks. Hope that’s ok!

  74. Finn, That shower head on a rod is what I have seen too, but this one was really weird. Plus the water was cold! Got an email from the hotel today asking about my stay, so I think I’ll give them some feedback.

    I have never heard of these elaborate St. Patrick’s day celebrations either. We might wear green and drink green beer, but that’s it. Maybe it’s a Northern thing?

  75. I have never done leprechaun traps. I figure it’s one of those things that’s great if you enjoy doing it, but I’m not into. My DH has done green grits for the kids, and they look forward to that to a degree I would never have expected. Sometimes I make shortbread cookies, and I often make some version of soda bread for breakfast. Crafts, no. Baking, yes.

  76. “Anyone have any absurd parenting rules?”

    Family Rule #1 – If you can help another living thing you are obligated to do it. (within reason, don’t get your fool self killed)

    Family Rule #2 – If you can capture a family member looking foolish while doing #1, you are obligated to video tape it.

  77. I’ve never heard of Leprechaun traps until just now, and I’m part Irish. Is this a new thing, like Elf on the Shelf?

  78. Family Rule #3 – As long as it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings, always take the joke. Always.

  79. Atlanta, that is very funny! When we first moved to Tampa, we had neighbors who occasionally left notes and gifts from “the pirate” for their kids. Gasparilla meant a whole little chest full of fake jewels & crap. For a very short period, I thought I needed to do that too. Thank goodness I got over that!

  80. Moxie, rule #1 is wonderful. I loved DD’s story about his kid looking out for the kid being bullied. My guy still looks out for #1 too much, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll have to introduce that rule.

    SSK, believe it or not, 3 of them working hard the whole time (one of them didn’t even take the 10 min pizza break the others did) got both bathrooms sparkling and the kitchen nearly, but not quite? done. No one touched the living room or bedrooms. This is not because they were poor workers. They were not. Things just needed that much work, which vindicates me for deciding it was more than I could do to get the place ready for company next week by myself. They’ll be back on Tuesday.

  81. Love that article, Atlanta! I’m all for fun and family traditions, but if EVERY holiday has to be huge Pinterest production then it stops being special and starts to be a hassle IMO. I don’t want my future kids expecting gifts from the Leprechaun or Cupid or whoever.

    Speaking of St. Patty’s Day fun for kids, I liked to prank my brothers by putting a few drops of green food coloring in the bowl before filling it with cereal and watching their surprise when they poured the milk and it turned green.

  82. The dye in the cereal trick is neat, and is just the kind of simple little fun thing that I think can make these days (I don’t even want to call them full-fledged holidays) special. We have heart-shaped placemats and plates from a Target a few Valentine’s Day ago that we use occasionally to have a special “love” day. My mom always decorated for all different seasons, but I always thought of that as her thing, not something for us.

  83. I’ve never heard of the leprechuan trap thing before either and I would have described myself as going all out for St. Patrick’s — we have Irish stew, colcannon, brown soda bread, smoked salmon, lots of Guinness and whiskey (adults only for that), invite people over if it’s a weekend, and I also use it as an excuse to buy more Irish/Celtic music.

  84. We got the leprechaun trap assignment for the first time this year.

    I’m Irish, and I don’t like it. But I view St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday, and would rather they did something to emphasize his anti-slavery views rather than “Irish pride! PARTY!” St. Patrick did not invent green beer.

    Instead the kids got a storybook about the saint and I’m trying to incorporate some basic engineering principles into the trap project.

  85. A trap assignment sounds like a buzzkill to me! Not that I know anything about what is apparently a trap-making tradition. I wonder if you could work the anti-slavery into it…

    Idk if we have any college applicants this year, unless Risley’s son is applying for this fall and not next year like I think. Anyway, this article might be helpful for lots of us to keep in mind as our approach that day. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-how-to-survive-the-college-admissions-madness.html?_r=1&referrer=

  86. Here’s a good example of their sound (just try to ignore the pictures the person who made the video chose . . .):

  87. My kids have been curious about Lucky Charms after I told them about Lucky the Leprechaun (DS1 got the leprechaun trap assignment) and I realized they’ve never seen commercials. (We only have Netflix.) So I think each one will get a box of Lucky Charms this year.

  88. I’m surprised General Mills hasn’t jumped on that one and come out with a box with only green marshmallows or something.

  89. there is already a limited edition General Mills lucky Charms for st patricks day. green box and green charms.

  90. HM – thanks! I need to make a Thistle and Shamrock (did anyone else listen to that after Prairie Home Companion back in the day?) type of playlist, not too many fiddles all at once. ;)

  91. I hated leaning over the tub when my kid was little, so I’d either have him stand & hang onto the side while I sprayed his bottom off or we took a bath together, which usually resulted in him wanting to nurse. If I could keep the drowsiness going until I eased him into bed, it was good, but the slightest thing could rouse home and he’d have a real second wind. That was not good. When he was 4, we went to the pool once or twice a week. I did laps & he played, then we played together. When we got home, I’d start the water, put a pizza in the oven, & we’d take a bath together. He was always done first, so I had him turn off the oven and open the door while I relaxed a while longer.

  92. Just got home from Cirque de Soleil. Calculus, schmalculus, I say. Anyone can do that. All my respect now goes to people who can choreograph and set design.

  93. MBT – I have a 12 yr old niece who competes successfully internationally in “acro” she is also very, very bright – her parents struggle with the choices and expenses this extraordinary girl has introduced into their lives. My DD loves to watch her cousin – and dreams about designing the sets – which I know she could do. Maybe we are a circus family – something completely foreign to my MBA brain.

  94. Word to the wise – don’t invite MMM to your kid’s birthday party :)

    “In one incident, I traveled to a distant suburb with my son to attend a child’s birthday party. The homes in this middle-income area were tightly packed with short driveways, but each place was outfitted with at least two enormous luxury vehicles – often trucks – so big that they had to spill out to consume the entire street. The interior of the each house was clad with beige carpets, artificial finishes, and tiny windows placed with complete disregard to the prevailing direction of the Sun.

    At the party, every food was an unrecognizable assembly of chemical compounds ripped out of a brightly-colored box, served on styrofoam plates which were promptly discarded into a black plastic bag. Every gift was a plastic and metal recreation of a famous movie character or vehicle, ripped out of another plastic package. There was a television in the kitchen blaring news and advertisements. The unhealthy parents drank beer and ate cake, and sighed about not having enough time or money to spend more time taking care of their home, or their kids, or themselves.”

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/03/12/when-ridiculousness-is-ubiquitious/#comments

  95. Yeah, well, anyone who invites MMM to a kid’s party should expect that treatment. I guess the kids should all sit around whittling lovely wooden toys for the birthday child and then play hoops and hopscotch, followed up by picking peaches from the neighbor’s orchard.

  96. I live in eastern Massachusetts. St Patrick’s Day (figleafed as Evacuation Day – the day the British left Boston in the revolutionary war) was a school holiday for my kids, if March 17 fell on Friday or Saturday you didn’t go out in the evening to avoid drunken revelers. I have never before yesterday heard of Leprechaun traps.

    I give thanks every day that I had my kids 35 years ago. I simply could not have tolerated today’s BS expectations for middle class parenting, the enforced constant celebrations and the scrutiny. One of my girls absolutely could not live up to the pressures of being a parent in these days and has decided against it. The other talks a good game about wanting to be married and a mom, but has managed not to take any normal steps toward achieving that objective and she is in her mid 30s. Susan Sontag wrote her notes 55 years ago in Betty Draper days – when kids were little people who came to live with you early in your adult life, you kept them healthy and clean and tried to impart values, and then at 18 most went to college or the service or married and only returned to the neighborhood if that was the ethnic culture or there was a family business/farm to continue. School was school, work was work, and no one would have put up with the intrusions of either into family and home. In my parenting days, with seemingly limitless opportunity, we would not have put up with all that either – enforced conformity was unnecessary and re-invention throughout life the objective, not a fall back plan.

  97. S&M – thanks for the Bruni link. Good advice!

    Milo – while I agree with a lot of what MMM says here, I also think he’s a bit nuts. Its like those extreme couponers. Where you or I might choose to ski or play tennis – their hobby is beating the system.

  98. ” I agree with a lot of what MMM says here, I also think he’s a bit nuts”

    Of course. That’s what makes him so entertaining. But I do feel that he’s growing increasingly strident, and a number of the commenters treat him like the founder of a religious movement. It used to be more about saving money for financial independence; now there’s much more focus on reducing consumption for ecological/moral reasons.

    But I can’t take someone like that too seriously when all this is only made possible through his ownership positions in standard index funds. You can’t say that a Ford Expedition is morally wrong and finance your lifestyle on the earnings from Ford Motor Company. But if he wants to believe otherwise, it doesn’t bother me. His writing is fun to read, and it’s inspirational in a way. He has a gift for metaphors.

  99. At kids school they find that the Leprechaun has left them gold coins.
    They do a lot of celebrations but everything is done at school. The most you will be asked for is a few supplies which I am happy to provide.
    Also, as they celebrate different holidays that will read books related to that day. So it will be

  100. At my kids school they find that the Leprechaun has left them gold coins.
    They do a lot of celebrations but everything is done at school. The most you will be asked for is a few supplies which I am happy to provide. Parents are not saddled with projects.
    Also, as they celebrate different holidays that will read books and do different activities related to that day. So it will be Irish tales read this week and next. My own school was like this – it does give kids something to look forward to.
    Thinking of what Meme posted – like everything parenting related there is the low, middle and high. You can choose whether you want to be laid back, somewhere in the middle or on the high end. Most parents I know are somewhere in the middle. To me taking the high end from the beginning is exhausting, it is a long journey and cannot be sustained when you add more kids.

  101. I give thanks every day that I had my kids 35 years ago. I simply could not have tolerated today’s BS expectations for middle class parenting, the enforced constant celebrations and the scrutiny.

    Meme, sure you could. You just do what my wife and I do is just not worry about all the BS. We’ve never done any of these made up holiday things. We throw a (non-organic, fully processed) frozen pizza in the oven for dinner at least once a week. We go out for ice cream on a regular basis. Our kids watch too much TV. I take my 13 year old to R rated movies. (FYI, Unfinished Business was probably a bit inappropriate for him, but it’s too late now.) We’ve been known to give in to whining occasionally. Etc.

  102. Agree with Denver.

    I think the people who actually embrace all these standards are likely to be the ones who go off the deep end in a few years, anyway.

    And then the response to a lot of these things is over the top. How many lengthy Huffington Post articles are we going to read and discuss on FB about some Mom who’s “declaring that she’s not participating in the Elf madness this Christmas”?

    Like you said a long time ago to a different question, “there are no stroller police.”

  103. DD, I think with some luck and more financial stability I could manage to be a parent today, even a single parent, to the standards required by children and family services, but with fewer children. It is not about pizza versus quinoa burgers or TV versus Netflix or R rated movies. But I could never do travel teams or support the level of kid activities in an era where not attending almost all events is hurtful to the child. And I would want my 10 year olds to take a lunch and spend six hours exploring Rock Creek Park with a friend (my era), or my 12 year old to ride her bike to the $1 a year Charles River Community sailing program 3 miles away (my kids’ era). With cell phones that is even safer, IMO, than it was when I did it or when my kids did it.

  104. “But I could never do travel teams or support the level of kid activities in an era where not attending almost all events is hurtful to the child.”

    Even among the middle and umc, not everyone is doing this. Especially as you control for the number of kids in the family. To generalize, with two you can do travel teams. With three, the activities tend to be more scaled back, maybe one activity at a time per kid, and for sports it’s a low-key local rec league. We know families with four, and one path is to have varying off seasons; the other we’ve seen is to make it work by combining two children near in age onto the same team (and sometimes getting special age waivers to do so).

  105. Milo – I am not saying one cannot choose a less hectic lifestyle. For me, the individual not the archetype, as a 25 to 40 year old parent the mental energy required to take a stand several times week against the prevailing customs of my cohort, especially with the specter of family law enforcement in the background, would be exhausting, if not impossible.

  106. Meme – I agree with DD and Milo. Each family decides for themselves what they can and want to take on and also very important how much they want to spend because it all adds up.
    I honestly don’t feel your girls should be deterred by all that they read and hear about being a modern parent. The blogs, parenting articles etc. only serve to drive new parents crazy. You are a great example that kids can turn out OK inspite of not an absolutely smooth family time in childhood and an inspiration to me.
    The only thing I would say, is that taking steps to start a family should be a priority if that is what your one daughter wants. I thought my own mother was being old fashioned with this bit of advice (since it was contrary to the be independent bit) but it turns out she was right.

  107. Wow, MMM would fit right in on those DC Mom forums posters were linking a few weeks ago. That’s up there with the worst of the sanctimommies.

  108. I admire Mémé and will point out that in many or most areas of the country, CPS is more focused on the meth families than on the working or middle class families. The local CASA program has a 100+ child waiting list. My friend who works part-time for the district attorney assures me that the last thing they want to do is add to their load by harassing people who leave the kids in the car while they pick up a pizza. This probably ties into my recurrent theme about the proper role of government and the appropriateness of local/community standards rather than federal ones for many choices.

    Milo, Mr WCE coaches soccer, in part because he wanted to and in part because he can make the practices convenient for our family and the location convenient for most families on the team. Someone has to take the kids to soccer practice anyway. I worked late and the twins (too young for DS1’s team) attended DS1’s practice and played in scrimmages. The first 3 years of close-in-age kids were tough, but now we’re definitely seeing some benefits now. Everyone is in level 3 swimming right now, so we may make occasional private lessons work with our family’s schedule.

    And I concur with Louise that you make choices about activities, because it adds up. Because our school is “middle class” and not “upper middle class”, parent volunteers make activities affordable. Mr WCE is known as “Coach” by some of the kids. Another parent is sponsoring a six week after school chess club, etc.

  109. My kid prefers one or two activities at a time, which is fine with me. I have, however, made it clear to him that he needs to choose one academic thing beyond his school to compete in, whether spelling bees or storytelling fair or Lego team or whatever. Half his BB team skipped the tournament game today because of spring break so they lost, but as far as I’m concerned, taking that well is more important.

    Meme, I don’t know what ” re-invention throughout life the objective, not a fall back plan”‘means, but I agree with you in letting kids go off on their own. Now that we live in car city, mine can’t find his way anywhere, for the first time since he was 2 or 3.

  110. Milo, I think going off the deep end might be an occupational hazard of writing those frugality blogs. 25 years ago Amy Dacyczan, the writer of The Tightwad Gazette, started out just writing about frugality and raising her many children on one salary and so on. She faced the same thing MMM did — success made her rich. Then she went bonkers (IMO) and started homeschooling her kids and trying to keep them away from other kids and keep them from knowing about all the lovely, lovely consumer goods that exist out there. Maybe she’s come back in from the austerity zone; I haven’t read anything about her in years.

  111. Our DD is not a superstar athlete, but she likes to run around, and to be with her friends on the weekends. We are fortunate to have several levels of competitive sports in our community, and she can still participate in town teams that are fun, but they are not as competitive as the travel teams. The cost for each is very low because it is “rec” basketball, AYSO soccer and town little league. All three of these are coached by parent volunteers. I was able to volunteer as the AYSO division head when she was very young because it was something I could do while working full time. It involved a lot of spreadsheets and organization vs. coaching. Many parents just arrange car pools when they have 2 or 3 kids because so many people are in the same boat with multiple kids getting to different fields.

    We didn’t get caught up in the craziness that can happen with sports, but we still managed to find a way for her to have some fun and to be a part of a team.

  112. Speaking of frugality bloggers ending up making changes far beyond personal finance, did anyone else read Get Rich Slowly? Once the blogger “made it” he divorced his longtime wife and immediately got a new girlfriend. And became obsessed with Crossfit and something called the “world domination” conference. It just screamed “midlife crisis” and seemed really pathetic.

  113. My husband and I were just discussing MMM last night. Mostly we were discussing the fact that although he purports to be “retired,” he’s really just swapped one type of work for others that he enjoys more. Which is a great life goal, but IMO not quite the same as truly not having to work. I also personally find his whole “you too can live on $25k per year” schtick a bit disingenuous because if, for example, the s*it really hit the fan for them medically, he has continued to make money via the blog and is not going to actually be buried by it even though they have a high deductible plan etc. I don’t follow him closely but my sense is that Milo is right and he has been getting more militant/cultish over time.

  114. Rio, yes! I had the same reaction. IMO there were some red flags before that, though–were they the ones who didn’t plan for retirement together? Can’t remember if that was them or someone else, but I never could figure out quite how that was supposed to work.

  115. I also used to occasionally read the Simple Dollar blog until that guy decided to opine that women who purchase a bathing suit as opposed to just wearing old cotton shorts and a t-shirt to swim are simply recklessly throwing money away because of societal fashion pressure. After that I couldn’t take anything he said even remotely seriously.

  116. That’s a moving story, A Parent. I just read his NYT essay, too.

    Rio – Yeah, I used to read GRS. It was sad because JD was kind of a doofus, and his wife was the patient and steady one all the years–much better than him. And once he gets his sh1t together, he looks around and says “What am I doing with her?”

    Rocky – It’s an interesting dynamic how we can have anonymous front-row seats to the way these things play out, like the Tightwad Gazette. I’m curious what will happen to MMM, just like I’m curious about the Duggars.

  117. Milo and a parent – that guy was the BIL of one of my law school friends. His writing is so beautiful. Very sad.

  118. I don’t think I would’ve been thrilled at that birthday party either but there is no way to express that without sounding sanctimonious, and that’s just rude. I don’t think its hard to find a toy that is fun without being prescripted. There are lots of balance boards that kids like, for example. Balancing is an important basic for all kinds of social and emotional skills. Sand and water are great learning tools for preschoolers, so you can get them something to play with sand and water. There are lots of creative ways to be true to what you think is best without pooping all over someone’s plastic parade. The grouchy approach is unlikely to win any converts anyway.

  119. Meme, I forgot the most important thing: you don’t read any of those ridiculous mommy blogs.

  120. Well, I just got home from throwing a birthday party for my now five-year-old. We paid a small fortune to one of those suburban bounce house places, and the kids had a blast. (We did this for the oldest kid at 5, too. I can’t fathom doing this annually for three children, but once in a while is a good memory for them to have, I figure!) My DD just opened a small toy shop worth of legos, craft sets, play dough, sidewalk chalk, and jumping toys.

    I hear where Meme is coming from. There are ways to opt out of the prevailing hyper-parenting, but it is already opting out of a lot of what’s done. Right now I have my two oldest sharing an activity. This fall they’ll both be in soccer (with separate schedules, etc.) and we’ll have to see how that juggle goes. And this is the local ayso. But our school is primarily what passes for middle class in these parts, and we have subsidized activities after school like WCE describes. Those are fantastic and require zero parental driving/organizing. Everything is run on volunteer power, though.

    Question– I forget who, but someone recommended the dorkfood sous vide attachment (for a crock pot) and now I’m thinking about it after seeing the raves from Rocky & Rhett on here. Any favorite places to search for recipes?

  121. Tulip, I don’t use that particular sous vide, but I just google for various recipes. I also just make a lot of roasts (beef, lamb, etc.) by setting the temp to 130 and letting it roll. Then brown on the grill or broiler. There seem to be more recipe sites every day.

  122. “We paid a small fortune to one of those suburban bounce house places,”

    Does it include goody bags and pizza? DW insists that, when you add up all the costs for throwing a party at home, including theme materials and craft supplies, you’re really not saving much, if anything, over the venues. We’ve done both kinds.

    I don’t argue.

  123. Milo, we had a party at home this year and I spent around $60 on supplies. I found that I paid in time rather than in money. But we don’t have any great locations for the kind (size and style) of party DS1 wanted to have, and I had the time to plan/organize.

  124. I think where you live and your circle of friends/your children’s circle of friends has a huge impact on what parenting looks like.

    A former co-worker of mine is in this insane “perfect” mommy group. She is pregnant with #3, but the baby shower was a huge affair with hand made signs, baby gender reveal cakes,and the photo booth where everyone holds the frames or other props up to take pictures. Plus, a whole nursery redocoration, because you just can’t have the same crib, same mobile, paint color, etc. for more than one child – even when they are the same gender. If I was part of this former co-worker’s peer group – I’d be afraid to have kids as I couldn’t keep up.

    Mrs. Milo is generally correct. We have done some all inclusive and some on our own. It doesn’t seem to save much in $$ and takes more time to do it yourself.

  125. although he purports to be “retired,” he’s really just swapped one type of work for others that he enjoys more.

    He’s not retired. He’s just self employed.

    Did you read about how he stopped the advertising links on his blog.? Now, he had his claimed reasons. But, I think part of it was also an objection to how easily the money poured in. In his mind “working” should be a great soul crushing burden. That money should pour in with so little effort? That would completely refute his life’s work.

  126. Rhett, I agree. He seems to totally reject the idea that someone could make a living doing work they enjoy, or that working for a living doesn’t have to be soul-crushing.

  127. Going to a party place was a perfect way to say goodbye to saac’s friends in Germany, towards the end of a chaotic overseas move. But for his birthdays, I like the “hassle” of having decorations up for a while afterwards and letting some non-professionalism show through in the preparation. Nobody does a party like mama does!

  128. Sounds to me like MMM makes a living doing what he enjoys. Not sure why people here get so upset about it.

  129. Sounds to me like MMM makes a living doing what he enjoys.

    He claims such a thing is impossible.

  130. Milo, to your point at 10:45 3/14: preaching against The Man or Racism while relying on investments that rely on traditional explorative relations or an all-white group of discuses te can only make sense if the outcome of the discussions if greater than the harm created by the dependency. That is only the case in exceedingly rare circumstances.
    http://www.alternet.org/education/1-percents-white-privilege-con-elites-hold-conversations-about-race-while-resegregating

  131. Rhett, he aims he hates his life? I thought he loved it and preached how wonderful it is that he keeps afloat by his own two hands or wit or whatever.

  132. Re MMM, sometimes people do things to help ensure the world works the way they think it does/should, rather than being open to changing their perception of how the world works.

  133. he keeps afloat by his own two hands or wit or whatever.

    He claims to keeps afloat from the income generated by his investments.

  134. So if he doesn’t pretend he’s living from anything other than the investments, & that is what he’s living from, what’s the problem? Do people just begrudge him being happy in his iconoclastic way instead of following the rules they feel constrain them?

  135. I can’t take MMM seriously. He seems like the guy that you meet at a party and slowly move away from as he rants to you about ridiculous things.

  136. “Milo, to your point at 10:45 3/14: preaching against The Man or Racism while relying on investments that rely on traditional explorative relations or an all-white group of discuses te can only make sense if the outcome of the discussions if greater than the harm created by the dependency.”

    I’m a reasonably well-educated person, but I don’t have the slightest clue what this means.

  137. “But, I think part of it was also an objection to how easily the money poured in. In his mind “working” should be a great soul crushing burden.”

    Unless he’s changed more drastically than I thought, I wouldn’t agree with that:

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/30/your-money-can-work-harder-than-you-can/

    I wonder if removing the ads has something to do with his endorsement of Betterment. I think he’s getting a small fortune from them, and his endorsement surprised me a little bit because it’s not something that really aligned with his previously stated philosophies. In fact, in one interview, he specifically stated that he was different from a lot of financial writers because he didn’t obsess over minimizing taxes (referring to Roth vs. Traditional debates and the like). Then suddenly he announces he’s moving all his money over to a firm that charges a relatively high fee to invest in the same Vanguard index funds but promises to work in some tax loss harvesting that will hopefully cover their expenses.

  138. I think he’s legitimate that he lives on the earnings of his investments, and that he only spends $25k per year, with the key exception being that he’s previously considered his paid off primary residence as a form of “income,” but he does not count imputed rent from living there as a form of spending. If his accounting were totally honest, I’d say he’s living on $40k per year.

  139. Absolutely fascinating about Obama vs. Hillary feud. It really does sound like a House of Cards episode!

  140. The media may have painted the Clinton story unfairly, but I still think her reasons for using a different account are ridiculous. I worked for many banks that were regulated by the same US govt, or regulatory bodies of the US govt…and that same government said that every single email had to be sent from a bank email account and be stored for a very long time. Yes, of course people would occasionally use personal email, but they would usually be reminded that this was not allowed. In fact, many financial institution email filters are set to catch this type of behavior because it is against the policy. So many people carry two phones, and it is not a big deal.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I probably would have voted for her if she was the nominee, but even this decades old liberal is so tired of certain people thinking that they don’t have to play by the rules.

  141. I’m surprised to hear real people are concerned about the Clinton email server. She started as Secretary of State 7 years ago,’right? I think personal servers were new & cool then. It doesn’t sound to me like she thought she was above the rules any more than people driving above the speed limit think they’re above the law. Most universities have restrictions about computer usage; I’ve never known anyone to take them too seriously. People often set up their own webpages on servers they like, and their official page just has a link to that other site. I realize faculty are not Secretary of State, but I’m willing to believe that her thought process was probably just that simple.

  142. Rocky – Interesting. And interesting that the NYT was so eager to trash her. (If you have any doubts about that, read Maureen Dowd’s column today. Ouch.) I wasn’t sure what to make of the email “scandal” before. I was certainly surprised that she could get away with that, simply because, like Lauren said, I’ve worked in places with far less sensitive information than I’d presume the Secretary of State handles, and we had entirely separate computers and networks for that. So if I were going to email DW about yoga or our wedding, then I could use the computer with the green sticker plugged into the green outlet, and if I were going to write an email about an operation, it was on the computer with the red sticker plugged into the red outlet.

    But that’s neither here nor there. I’m just shocked at the revelations–and we’ll see if they prove founded–that the supposed front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President is being actively sabotaged by the sitting President of the same party! I mean, it’s one thing to not so enthusiastically support her, to make comments that maybe they should have a competitive field or something like that. But to purposely throw a scandal at her at a strategic time??? That’s totally Frank Underwood!

    It almost makes me feel sorry for her. Almost.

    And if it’s true, or even if enough people believe that it’s true, it’s certainly not going to help Obama maintain much support in Congress for his last two years. The Clintons haven’t lost all their friends.

    This whole situation just got a LOT more exciting. Onward to Iowa!!

  143. Milo– Remember, we live in 1200 square feet, so the alternative is a *much* smaller birthday party. I don’t like to wrangle 25 preschoolers and wouldn’t voluntarily do it in my home by myself. I like having other people do that part! In that sense, it’s more expensive to go to the bounce place, but that’s part of what makes the splurge fun. And yes, pizza and balloons for the kids. We brought our own goodie bags because we had a few inexpensive tchotchkes leftover (mardi gras beads, fruit snacks, etc.) that we were able to use. Same difference. Other years we’ve done family trip to the zoo, tickets to Disney on Ice, tickets to see the Dinosaur live action thing at a theatre, etc. Cheaper, oddly, than the big birthday parties, and fewer logistics, but still a celebration.

    Once my oldest hit elementary school age we’ve done small parties of 5-8 kids at our house and movies/pizza/cake. Someone who came once thought it was great that we were going so “retro” for the party. I died laughing later. We know and like some of the parents, so if they’re sticking around we open some bottles of wine and put out snacks and enjoy ourselves while the kids wear themselves out. Win-win.

    Rocky– Thanks. I guess I’m thinking that not messing up the food would be more complicated than it probably is!

  144. I’ll need to go read the new links today, but my initial impression of the Clinton thing? I’m liberal. I like her. But she’s a lawyer. Any lawyer knows that all your work related stuff is subject to subpoena. And if you mix it with personal stuff, ALL your personal stuff is subject to being sorted through to ensure it’s not work-related. Every lawyer I know either carries two devices or has one set up that can access separate accounts. I’m in a field where it’s unlikely anyone would ever want to subpoena my email, and I’ve always kept my work email attached to a distinct email address from personal stuff. I don’t have sympathy for her initial explanations.

  145. None of the 2016 contenders so far appeals to me.
    Tulip and Lauren said it well on the emails. When you are in position with first class confidential information and presumably by your professional training you ought to know better, yet you don’t and it is yet another in a series of affaires that have chipped away at your reputation – you have lost all creditability.

  146. $40k is quite low by the standards of this blog. Just a few days ago people were clucking over how hard it would be to graduate and make “only” $40k

  147. Saac, I don’t agree with the analogy to universities.

    Post Eliot Spitzer, every politician and govt employee knows where the emails should be located. I can’t speak for other industries, but financial services has the same rules. Even text and instant messages are monitored and saved.

  148. Saac – The first year after I graduated, I was making about $40k. At the time, I felt capable of supporting a family on it.

  149. Milo, did you miss the end of the “Ghe Kids are Alright” discussion?

    Lemon, that’s my perspective & why it doesn’t seem weird to me, not an analogy.

    Louise, the question is whether it is “yet another in a series of affaires that have chipped away at your reputation” or just another bogus way to distract attention by a group who lessen their own credibility with each trumped-up charge.

  150. ” a group who lessen their own credibility with each trumped-up charge.”

    The NYT?

  151. Saac – I don’t think every charge was trumped up, some blown out of proportion perhaps but this power couple seems to attract a fair bit of muck and I would not want to waste four years of the country’s time by voting for one of them.

  152. Louise, fair enough. There was a little something there in each case. I don’t think that they would attract muck any more than any one else if there weren’t such a crew ready to throw it at them.

  153. SM – Do you think the Clintons are targeted more than others at that level? What “crew” are you referring to?

  154. Was Clinton sexually assaulting and showing his penis to Paula Jones, a low-level state employee, “a little something”? Was an affair with a White House intern, and getting blow jobs in the Oval Office, and lying about it under oath “a little something”?

  155. Rhett — I’m glad something good came out of today’s messy snowfall!

  156. I like Hilary, but I found the commodity trades she made back in the day where she made huge profits very quickly in deals most people wouldn’t have access to to be concerning. I think in her career there have been a fair number of things that push the envelope of what is acceptable. I think Republicans get called out on that stuff as well, but their base may not care as much.

  157. Rocky – it’s fair because she has a role in it. She claims to be a feminist, but whenever there’s been some woman of much lower socioeconomic status complaining about Bill sexually assaulting her, Hillary has always been more than eager to ruthlessly “bury” or “destroy” her.

  158. To add to the speculation of a HOC-type sabotage of Clinton, Dem Elijah Cummings has apparently conceded for the first time that there may be “reason for the continuing inquiry” on Benghazi.

    Plus, from the comments: “It would appear that Cummings is alluding to some very unpleasant revelations are about to come out and that somehow they will make Hillary look very bad and Obama will be portrayed as a ‘victim’ of her incompetence, mendacity or whatever.”

  159. ON the party topic- when my kids were little, I would never have done an in-house party. Why? Because I can’t stand party planning! I can’t think of activities, the crafties are all beyond me, and cake baking is not in my repetoires. I also don’t like wrangling other people’s small kids. So having the parties at a party place, for me, was a way to simplify my life.

    Now that the kids are older, we can dare do some in house parties. Last year my oldest celebrated his party with 4 good friends, pizza, and a ton of old Monty Python episodes. This year, we did a combo – both my older kids (whose birthdays are 2 weeks apart) went in together, and we took 9 kids to a hibachi place, then brought them back to watch an ancient Godzilla movie. It worked well but both DH and I ended up with throbbing headaches from the noise and organizational woes (one kid showed up, alone, at the hibachi place an hour early, another showed up 90 minutes late, with everyone almost finished).

  160. What is the deal with the reports that Jeb Bush was also using his private email for state business when he was governor? I was so embroiled in schlepping teens around yesterday that I just saw some headlines flash by on a TV screen

  161. So, reporting back:

    — Instantpot was a hit on the first try — it cooked a 7-lb pork butt in 2 hrs to falling-apart. DH told me later that he had assumed it was going to be pizza night, as I didn’t even get started until about 2. OTOH, deep-fryer was a bust — it took 15 minutes to hit 300 and never even made it to 350 for the second phase. Well, it might have made it there by Tuesday, but by then I had given up and finished off the artichokes at a lower temp.

    — Energy audit: we need to wait for the final report, but that was probably the best $100 I’ve spent in a while. Guy spent almost 4 hours, checked HVAC, did blower door test, etc. Confirmed biggest issue is likely joist space, as suspected, but found two really big holes that I didn’t even know existed (almost 3’x3′ entry to the crawl space just wide open, + a hole and a disconnected vent line in the area behind the knee walls in the attic). Also found out that the knee wall area is only partially insulated — we have insulation on the floor there, but none on the vertical surface. Duh.). Waiting for the final report so we can call his guys back and say “go do.”

    On the bad news front, my garage is on hold — insufficient room between the house and the property line to put in a side-facing garage with enough space for the cars to make the turn. DH wants a front-facing one, which I don’t like, because it would have to be right up even with the house and would require removing our existing fence and paving a good part of the front lawn, and it would just generally look totally out of character with the neighborhood (not to mention blocking light/views from dining room and office). I came up with the idea of a rear-facing one on the far side of the driveway from house (i.e., you’d drive down the driveway past the garage, then do a 180 to pull in). I figure that could be tucked behind our existing fence and look more in keeping with the neighborhood, plus I’d rather have the concrete turn-around area in the back yard for a more private basketball/skateboarding area (the concrete would basically extend about as deep as the end of our deck, and there’d still be a good swath of lawn behind it). But DH doesn’t like that because it’s — surprise — “inefficient.” So right now, we have no plan, because neither of us can stand the other’s proposal. But in either case, the most we could fit would be a two-car, one-story deal, so my dream upstairs gym is gone regardless, as is room for all three cars. I am rather ridiculously disappointed about this whole thing. Damn laws of physics.

  162. LfB – I don’t understand how you can’t have the exact same garage that you were planning for a side entry in the exact same spot but just put the doors on the front. Why does that suddenly mean that the driveway is too much of the front lawn and it’s too close to the house?

    Rhett – That’s for DC/Annapolis commuting. Find her the same thing in Ellicott City or Columbia. But yeah, I had the exact same thought.

  163. Yeah, I’ve had the same thought, too. :-)

    Too much logistics, but basically the driveway comes in about the 2/3 of the way across the front yard and runs along the side of the house. On the other side of the driveway, there’s a big tree in the front yard, and behind that a fence that goes from the side of the house to the property line, with a gate into the back yard. So to put a front-facing garage in, we’d either have to lose the tree and planting bed (which I don’t want to do), or put it up against the house at the end of the current driveway. But if we do that, I have to push the garage back far enough to leave room for the concrete between the garage and the tree, which would push it right up against the dining room and office windows, and we’d have to lose the fence. Plus we have an American Foursquare, and having a garage butting up against the house would basically look like a growth.

    Whereas backwards-facing, the garage would be on the yard on the other side of the driveway to give room to drive past. So it’s more away from the house, which leaves more light and looks more in character with the neighborhood (which has a variety of outbuildings). And then the concrete runs out the back, not the front, so the tree and the fence can stay.

  164. Rhett – That’s just standard McMansion architecture. I don’t think it’s specific to Baltimore suburbs. The Ellicott City place is a little more Victorian Craftsman.

  165. @Rhett – the roofs are a reminder that you are living in a McMansion :-).
    There are houses in my neighborhood that are big – 5 bedrooms etc but you would never know because the roofs are very simple.

  166. @Rhett: That is *awesome* — I have forwarded to DH. :-)

    PS — y’all are about at 2x in terms of the house prices. And at about 2x the commute, too. There’s only so much I’m willing to give up for the hope of a Porsche in 10 years, ya know?

  167. We purchased a new Odyssey over the weekend. The price for new was better value wise than a 2 or 3 year old van. We bought the low end without power windows and doors in light of our ongoing issues with these features on other cars.

  168. “We bought the low end without power windows…”

    I don’t believe that’s possible in 2015.

  169. Meme – I had to chuckle when I saw your post about modern parenting. I hope it wasn’t triggered by my leprechaun trap post! By modern (MC-UMC) parenting standards, we’re just barely acceptable. I don’t have a Pinterest account, have small home-based birthdays, and work full-time so the kids only have limited school-based afterschool activities. They each do one activity on the weekend – swimming/karate. I don’t read mommy blogs (except this one if it counts) anymore.

    Completely agree with DD – just opt out of the craziness, which I will admit is easier to do now that the kids are older and I know a little better.

    As a first time parent, when the boys were babies I did read the mommy blogs and tried WAY to hard. (Home made organic baby food – disaster!) Lesson learned.

  170. I just signed up for Pinterest and Houzz because we are finally going to renovate those bathrooms this year. I’m meeting with someone this week to start the process, and she asked me to set up a “book” of our ideas on Houzz and/or Pinterest so she knows what we like in bathroom decor. I miss the old fashioned pages from a magazine.

  171. A parent, we also bought a car over the weekend (Toyota) and went with the base model new–we keep our cars for a long time and determined there wasn’t much value in buying used. But it’s amazing how many things are standard in the base model that we don’t have in our other car or had to pay more for 7 years ago (it’s also a Toyota, but the top end “Limited” model).

  172. LfB, I’ll be interested to see how the improvements affect your energy bills. For $100, I’d also be interested in another audit a year after the first round of improvements. There might be a second round of possible improvements that are visible only after the first round is done. BTW, growing up with a north side window in Iowa, the films that you tape on your windows and blow dry to make them transparent really work to trap cold air by the window.

    During my “federal energy standards on washing machines reading”, I learned that some places (New York City was the one described) mandate energy improvements to existing buildings. California has an energy code for new buildings or remodels. One of the areas of controversy is that if the expensive, legally mandated energy efficiency retrofits don’t achieve the projected cost savings, the building owner has no recourse. This is especially important where the building has rent limitations due to affordable housing laws. In one case, the projected energy improvement was 50% and the [very expensive] energy efficiency improvements resulted in an actual savings of only 7%. An advantage of your situation is that you can make your own decisions based on data over time.

  173. I’ve seen more than a few of those auto turntables in Japan. I’ve also seen a number of garages there that would be one-car garages here, but hold two cars there, one above the other.

    And there are the combinations, e.g., a car elevator coupled with a turntable, e.g.,

  174. Milo,
    You are correct as to the power situation. We have power windows but not power doors. June, we looked at the Toyota Sienna and really could not tell much of a difference.

  175. A parent – I hope you like the van. I remembered reading a while ago that for many features, it’s cheaper just to give everyone the upgrade than to run a separate inventory of different panels and window cranks, for example.

  176. A parent, we like our Honda Odyssey so far. I had similar concerns about power door problems but Mr WCE wanted them so we have them, along with the fact that we wanted the eighth seat, which only came with the power doors on the Odyssey. I can’t remember how many kids you have- we want to be able to haul two extras since we have twins.

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