How did it work out?

by Finn

One of the things I like about this group is the hijacks and side discussions that take place, often started by someone asking for advice.

Let’s share how things worked out. What car did you buy? What computer did your DH buy? How are those working out for you? Have the bullying problems been worked out?

More generally, what advice or suggestions have you received here that has been particularly useful?


51 thoughts on “How did it work out?

  1. A year ago, we impulsively bought a fixer-upper in a neighborhood we loved (and a school district we longed to be back in). We moved last spring after a furious and fast remodel, and spending everything we had on lots of super boring things (like a roof and a furnace). We sold a house at a loss (when you count in the transactional expenses) in order to make it all work.

    We love the house – it has a quirky layout, and solid guts (because we took it down to studs and replaced all of the wires, plumbing, etc.). Depending on how you count, we have 7 bedrooms, 2 baths in less than 3000 sq feet in an urban area. Cell-like rooms for the children, a guest, an office, and an Au Pair room. It’s kind of like a rabbit warren and perfect for us.

    School has been hit and miss. We have a preschool that meets our needs (which by the time the youngest gets to preschool the main need is convenience and not-crazy). Oldest is struggling with school, combination of a personality mismatch with the teacher (teacher daily spends time emphasizing that this is the make or break year of early elementary – it gets real, real hard next year, shape up or ship out. This does not help the highly capable special snowflake with anxiety). But the community is good and we are in a much better position that we were last year.

    DH stayed in his job beyond the clawback period for his hiring bonus, surprising all of us. He doesn’t particularly love it, but the hours aren’t awful, the pay keeps going up, and he is making big professional gains. I’m in a very stable position with more predictability and less drama than I’ve ever had.

    Considering homeschooling next fall (for one or two kids). There is a 2 day a week enrichment part-time school program near us that I would supplement with home instruction 2-3 days a week. It is a crazy idea, but we will be working through the logistics and doing a school visit this spring. Inviting chaos to our smooth pond.

  2. I bought the instapot. I do enjoy it, because it lets me make slow-cooked things in a couple of hours. I just don’t use it too much, because DH doesn’t like slow-cooked.

    Unfortunately, I recently bought my second instapot. Because last week’s chicken chili required skillet cornbread, and I set the cast iron skillet down on the stove right next to the instapot lid, which promptly melted. And since an actual seal is required to maintain pressure, I now have 1 3/4 instapots in my pantry.

    Come to think of it, I upgraded from the slow cooker to the instapot when I killed the lid of the slow cooker. You know that t-shirt that says “I am the reason we cannot have nice things”? . . .

  3. Not that I post often enough to update on anything, but I’ve been announcing my pregnancy with my 5th baby at work over the last few days. Watching people’s reactions has been funny.

  4. LfB – I melted the cord on our first Instant Pot when I left it to close to the stove. Oops! So we’re on our second one too and it saved us a lot of money during our kitchen renovation. I had used it before for mashed potatoes, roasts, rice, etc. but it actually makes soups and pastas decently well too and whole chickens. These people have some good recipes and I basically used them to plan our weekly menus –

    We went with the Subzero/Wolf appliances for our kitchen. Ya’ll had convinced me to go Thermador but it turned out DH really wanted Subzero/Wolf, so we shall see how we like them in a few years. I’m making Christmas cookies in my new oven today and so far so good and they sure look pretty.

  5. Congrats, TLC! You tie Meme for the Totebag record.

    I’ve been really happy with my little boat purchase. It’s been so much fun, and I think using it for entertaining has helped DW and me strengthen a few “couple friendships” that we felt (mainly she felt) we were lacking.

    I was talking with one mechanic about winterizing, and he convinced me that it was unnecessary as long as I was willing to take it out at least every 30 days. It’s even been really nice periodically getting out on the sunny lake in the crisp, cold air, by myself or maybe with one kid, just for an hour or two.

  6. Congrats, TLC! I would love another baby, but I don’t think I would be able to do it now and keep my job, and DH would go crazy. ;)

    We moved to the country, as everyone knows. Then spent a bunch of money on tree work, painting, new fridge/freezer and new cabinetry for the fridge/freezer, and are spending more in the spring on refinishing the pool. Still have a mouse issue in the basement – we need to work on sealing all the cracks etc. (Fieldstone foundation.) I developed anxiety after the move and starting taking something for it since I just couldn’t deal any more. BUT no one at work has noticed me showing up less, and I got a performance bonus for the first time (and a raise!), so that’s good. DH is still working on the legal docs for his new fund. I am hoping he gets a giant amount of money into it, so that he can hire someone and finally DELEGATE. :)

    On my bucket list now: new ovens, new range (15K BTU just doesn’t cut it) and hood fan, and a garage.

  7. We bought a Subaru Impreza for the latest driver, which I like for the safety features, but which he finds less comfortable that the Altima he learned on. Life for him now is unrecognizable from the lousy first year of middle school. Grades are strong, he’s in Student Council and a couple of clubs, is much more social than he has been the last few years, and life is just calm and generally happy. He has been accepted to several schools he’s interested in, is still waiting to hear from flagship, and is still being encouraged to consider community college for first year. Daughter will graduate this spring or summer, has had quality internship where she learned a lot and was asked to stay on, so she feels like she did a good job and is employable. DH survived yet another round of layoffs that brought his former 40 person group down to 2, so we are hoping things turn around before his luck runs out.

  8. Congrats, TLC! I’m always interested in how people manage their larger families.

    The first Totebag-influenced shopping I can think of is my sous vide controller, which turns my mechanical crockpot off and on to maintain the desired temperature. I like elk, venison and beef bottom round roasts cooked at ~135 for ~48 hr and, after trying cuts of beef with more fat, realized I like roast beef (or elk or venison) that is very lean. The fact that we vacuum seal our roasts to store them long-term makes sous vide very convenient.

  9. Oh yeah, I forgot: we did finally build the garage, and I freaking love it and am kicking myself for waiting 10 years.

  10. I want to thank Mooshi for all the middle school advice. I knew what to expect and passed on the advice to DS. The bus continues to be the Wild West. Learning to drive will be priority# 1 for DS. Again the Totebag advice will come in handy (or there maybe driverless cars by then).
    Will also consult the Totebag on what car to get kid when the time comes.
    I found a new position which hopefully will keep me employed. I may have to be in the office more but as time goes on and I learn my position I will be able to work from home more. I am hoping they move us to a new location which will make people automatically work from home more days a week. I am glad to hear L’s work situation is working out.
    Other than that chugging along.

  11. If I cook wild meat with my sous vide controller, I suppose it makes me a redneck gourmet.

    Discussion about taxis/uber/ride services has made me realize that I could likely arrange with the local taxi to shuttle my kids home from soccer or something when Mr WCE is gone and I need to be in two places at once. I wouldn’t have ever considered that as a possibility before this blog.

  12. Congrats TLC! Please pop back if you can and let us know how it’s going.

    My favorite blog-inspired purchases this year were the packing cubes Houston wrote about. Total game-changer when packing for long trips; even short trips are easier when everything has a home.
    Based on the advice of multiple posters, I also opted against a password managing app and am using a notebook. I figured that someone, somewhere, had probably designed a notebook specifically for such purposes and, of course, Amazon sells it.

  13. If I cook wild meat with my sous vide controller, I suppose it makes me a redneck gourmet.

    No, a regular gourmet. For much of European history hunting wild game was restricted to royals and the nobility.

  14. Congratulations TLC!

    Updates on things I’ve asked or talked about here:

    DW is still discussing with the assistant principal about homeschooling DD in LA for next semester. The assistant principal is still insisting that the “depth of thinking” they are doing this year is much greater than they have in past years even though they’ve only read 1.5 books so far. He is concerned about the logistics of what DD would do during that period and where she would go. They are on break until the 9th and we are planning on meeting in-person after break to continue the negotiations. DW is still livid about the class and the teacher.

    I mentioned we bought another Outback a few weeks ago because the old one was dying. It’s the top of the line trim and it is very cool.

    We finally bought a couch about a month ago. We ended up with an L-shaped sectional with a chaise on the end, no reclining. It’s being delivered Monday. Now we need to get a good coffee table/ottoman thing to put our legs up.

    DW and DS spent an hour at the DMV this morning to get his permit. Now we need to schedule his first BTW session and then I’ll start driving with him.

    DS and his group ended up with a 0 on their robotics final (as did several other groups) so he ended up with a D for the semester. He still wants to continue the class next semester but I’m thinking we need to evaluate that because he doesn’t need another D. He got As in honors geometry and English, and is doing well in his other classes,

    I think that’s it.

  15. Congrats TLC! Once my two hit teen years, I wished we had more kids. I hope everything goes smoothly.

  16. How did his group get a zero, DD? I assume they missed some deadline or misinterpreted some rule, because usually teachers wouldn’t give an absolute zero for a reasonable effort.

  17. DD, I read Greek plays in the library after annoying the teacher I disliked badly enough that the principal thought it was in everyone’s best interest to separate us.

  18. Off topic – Eataly opened in my neighborhood recently and I they sell non-homogenized milk. What are you supposed to do with the cream/butter* on top? I tried shaking it and now the milk is all chunky.

    Anyway at least the cows are living well:

    Arethusa cultivates an aura of haute-living heifers. A sign above their abode reads: “Every cow in this barn is a lady, please treat her as such.”

    They munch on the finest, protein-enriched hay and rest upon soft wood shavings from Canada. Workers vacuum their bodies on a daily basis in a spa-like room. (“There’s not a single fly” on any cow, boasts Mr. Malkemus.)

    To plump up their coats and tails, cows are treated with some of the same beauty products used by ladies who lunch. Brands like Artec shampoo are slathered on dark-haired cows, while Pantene is preferred for the blonder bovines.

  19. RMS, the motor for their robot blew out or something the day before the final presentation so the robot didn’t work. I also thought they’d get some credit for the effort but apparently not.

  20. They munch on the finest, protein-enriched hay and rest upon soft wood shavings from Canada.

    Oh what, ‘Murrican wood shavings aren’t good enough? Communists.

  21. Wow, Denver, I think that’s unreasonable. I hope it’s not the same teacher next semester.

  22. RMS, I think the teacher is very unreasonable. When you have tests where the entire class fails, that’s likely a problem with the teacher not the students.

  23. We bought the smaller, older house in the dream neighborhood. If you remember, my husband wanted the great location and a home with “character” whereas I wanted the practicality of a perfect move-in ready modern home even if it meant cookie-cutter suburbs. Many days I still dream about the gleaming new homes in the suburbs. Especially because renovations when lead paint is involved are incredibly nerve-wracking (as well as expensive and time-intensive) with a toddler. But, the benefits of living in an incredible neighborhood with so much walkable or a very short drive, great schools, and a super short commute for my husband make me think it was the right choice. I don’t think I could handle suburbia again after experiencing a place that has the best of both worlds in terms of urban and residential.

  24. Congrats TLC!

    This is a crazy week, and I am having a hard time focusing in order to reflect on 2016. I miss my Subaru, but I’m happy that we splurged on the BMW because I spend a lot of time in my car. I know why people can’t wait for their kids to drive because I feel like I’m always driving and I just have one kid. I almost didn’t get one because of the service issues mentioned here, but I tried a lease to avoid any long term ownership of a BMW.

    We’re going to hold on to the MDX since I learned here that there isn’t a perfect solution to the third row as the kids get too tall for a SUV.

    This was supposed to be the year to recover from that hellish renovation, and my parents were healthy. It worked out for my side of the family, but stepmother was diagnosed in Feb with stage 4 cancer. It’s been a long year, but she is doing ok.

    We’re taking the health of our parents one day at a time because we never know what surprises they will tell us when we get their phone calls.

    I’ve learned to chill out about honors math and other classes in middle school because of the advice and experience that some of you have shared. I know there are many paths to graduation, and I really try to absorb some of the stories that have been shared here so I don’t drive DD nuts since there is more than one way to be successful.

  25. Atlanta,

    I just tried it in my coffee and the heat melted the chunks – it’s delicious. They also say you can spread it on baked goods. I tried a chunk and it’s halfway between butter and cream cheese.

  26. DD – those types of glitches happen to DS too (which makes him very upset).
    I agree with RMS that credit should be given for effort.

    Rio – I hope your kid has other kids in the neighborhood to play with. My kids have benefited greatly from being in a neighborhood with plenty of kids to play with. Also the urban/suburban aspect means enough of space with quick accessibility to everything. The only downside is my older house.

  27. I’ll be around for car advice in March. Maybe I I’ll splurge

    I just made the gingerbread men for Sunday morning, and getting ready for the production that will be goose with red cabbage Xmas eve. Put on for cooking music my standard Pandora early folk station key words “the Weavers”. As the cookies came out, the Marvelous Toy came on. And City of New Orleans. And as I type a live Johnny Cash doing Ghost Riders in the Sky. Doesn’t get much better than that.

  28. Rhett – it is delicious, although my kids detest the bits of cream floating in their milk so sometimes I end up straining their milk which is a bit of a pain.

    Rio – I think you chose wisely. Location beats perfect new house for me every time (you can always renovate the house).

  29. Thanks for all the congratulations. This baby snuck up on us, but now that I’ve had time to get used to the idea I’m pleased about it and am getting a kick out of everyone else’s surprise. Part of the shock value is that we just had the last baby this spring – so another TLC baby wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

  30. Based on advice here, we updated our home with paint and flooring and it now looks so much better. But quite like that effect we discussed few weeks ago, it has snowballed into purchase of new furniture etc. But it feels nice to come home.

  31. We get organic non-homogenized milk for kid. since I grew up drinking almost farm fresh milk I am used to cream on top. I just scoop it out and milk/cream loving members of family consume it. It tastes best even n coffee in place of creamer.

  32. @ TLC – congratulations!

    Agree with Scarlett on Houston’s packing cubes. OH HOW I LOVE THEM.

    My only other real question for the Totebag was on cars this year. At the end of the school year, I was feeling like the minivan didn’t have enough room for all the gear that seemed to come with the kids – mine and the family we carpooled with. Nothing can beat a minivan as a people hauler, but we were having trouble fitting in instruments, backpacks, computers, and sports equipment for everyone. So I got a Suburban this summer, which holds the same number of people but twice as much cargo room.

    And then we promptly stopped carpooling when the school year started, as it turned out the family we’d been carpooling with (our neighbors) all had different sports/activity schedules for this year from us. So, I would have been just fine with the minivan for another year. But I LOVE the Suburban and all the room.

  33. I already had packing cubes, but I started actually using them, and I too am a convert.

  34. Congrats TLC! What fun your family holidays will be! :D

    I think I asked about the bullying of DD over her clothes at the end of ’15, because I followed your collective advice and got her the cool clothes last Christmas.

    The sporty look really helped get her through the rest of the year, and this year the two girls causing the problem weren’t in her class so she is back in dresses. (She went in this morning in a red corduroy dress with smocking and embroidered flowers, looking like she stepped off the set of Little House on the Prairie. No one said anything except the teacher, who loved it.)

    You all have made me more accepting of her desire to fit in, even if I cannot understand it :)

    Now we have to decide whether she should participate in the small dance troupe which includes those two girls and the rest of the “cool kids” and will run from January to May – is it worth doing, or are they just going to be awful to her at the rehearsals? She is inclined to do it, and I am inclined against.

    We also used your advice on bidding for the new-to-us Enclave, which was quite helpful – especially getting the CarMax bid for the car we were selling.

    I enrolled DS in kindergarten after agonizing about it on here, and that seems to have worked out. (Either that, or his teacher is a saint. Or maybe both ;) )

    If any of you have any gluten-free, lactose-free, egg-free, and fructose-free Christmas recipes, bring ’em on! Everything GF/LF/EF has fructose….

  35. I’m on the train, and a lot of kids are going to work with their parents today. I miss those days when I see how excited they are to be on the train etc. DD still has a full day of school today. It’s nice because I can get some stuff done, but I’m ready for the break.

  36. Sky,

    I understand your concern and would feel exactly the same way, but perhaps let her sign up and if the girls haven’t reformed their nasty ways and she is not having a good experience, let her quit? Maybe they will wear some sort of dance attire that won’t cause any issues with “cool” vs. “uncool” clothes.

  37. “Maybe they will wear some sort of dance attire that won’t cause any issues with “cool” vs. “uncool” clothes.”

    While this is a reasonable approach, my guess is that those girls aren’t very nice.

  38. OT, based in part on advice here, I installed a new Toto toilet a couple weeks ago. It’s the 1 gallon per flush upgrade of the 1.28 gpf Toto model we had installed several years ago. So far it’s worked fine, flushing as well as the the older model that uses more water.

    We’d been pleased with the 1.28gpf model, which was much better than the 3+gpf model it replaced. The main problem we’ve had is that I’ve had to replace the flapper frequently, which I believe is related to a design decision for a much larger opening from the tank than in most toilets. I may also have to replace the fill valve soon. But those are relatively small issues relative to the much better day to day performance.

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