Money! It’s a crime

So how do you keep your children from being spoiled? That’s a tough question. It’s one that I grapple with daily. 

I have a friend (Smiley You know who you are!) Who was kind enough to share her wealth with us in February. Her family had recently bought a new jet and her husband wanted to get more flying time in. She invited all of us who were visiting her to go on her jet from Kissimee to Key West. Now to me, this was generous. They paid for the fuel and the time of the second pilot. They allowed us to visit a place that most of us in the group would never had gone to (I personally LOVED Key West and I would love to go there again! and again). On the way back to Kissimee, we had the discussion of how to keep it real for kids.

Now my friend, yes, she has money. But she hasn’t ALWAYS had money. Her husband owns at least 2 businesses. One here, one in Europe. Flying is a major part of his life, so turning the work into a hobby makes sense. But they also have two children. They travel to Europe often. The kids sometimes go with the parents, sometimes not. Sometimes the nanny comes. The kids have learned what  their normal is. Their normal is that Daddy gets the plane ready and they fly off when they need to travel long distances. My Friend is concerned about how to keep life real for them.

To be honest, Jay and I wonder about that too. Not for her children, but ours. So far, the girls have gone to Florida, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania (and Tennessee for Luna). Except for the New England states, this is a LOT of travel. Luna’s not even 4 yet. And Hawaii? They’ve been there TWICE in their lives. Most of this is work or family travel. Our family is all over the place. Work takes us several places. But still I got asked last week "Mommy, why are we driving to Maryland? Can’t we just take a plane?" I explained the cost of things, the cost of airfare, etc. It did make me realize how my girls are accustomed to a certain life style.

To offset what they see in terms of travel, I noticed that we started to make other changes. When they put some of their allowance in the Tzdakah bank, Jay and I match the amount they put in. When I see someone at a traffic light asking for money, I will sometimes give it to them. I try to make sure we give to the food bank, in front  of the girls. We talk about each of these events and why we do it.

We also talk to them about corporate greed. When we discuss something about smoking or the mortgage collapse in the country, the girls will often ask why? Why are people mean to other people? Unfortunately, the answer is almost always money. The smoking industry wants to money. The sub prime loans were an attempt to procure higher monthly payments. Money. Money. Money.  The girls come to their own conclusion that this is not right. And we agree. We try over and over to explain how money is not the end all be all of life. It’s what you do that matters, not what you own.

I just hope that we can show by example and not have to make our children go through the stress of day to day money woes to not be spoiled and to appreciate what they have.

Money! It’s a gas!

Ah- Johnny and I are on similar wavelengths today. We are thinking of MONEY! (Spoken as in the Pink Floyd song). I have been very upset with the current economy. It sucks. Seriously sucks. I am seeing people really switch out brand names for store brand. I see people buying less and less. I hear of people telling their kids to deal with the older clothes.

Jay and I are either lucky or we’ve made our own luck. I can never tell. I tend to claim that we are lucky. The truth is, I didn’t get my first full time out of college job until I was 25. Jay just turned 30 before he defended his PhD thesis. From 18-25 (30), we were both below the poverty line. We both learned how to stretch money, how to make things last, how to buy old, not new. How to make a car last as long as possible.

Now? We are in a position we never thought we would be. We have money. Not Bill Gates money or even enough to buy the $1M + houses in our area, but enough that we pay off our bills every month, we put a good sized chunk in savings and retirement and we can still choose to eat out 2 times a week (at lunch). We are not even getting the stimulus check this year, we make too much.

So why do I still go to consignment shops for the girls, and buy my new clothes on end of season sales? Why do I rarely buy myself something at full price? I think the basic answer is so we can save more for the days we need to money. Why waste it? To both Jay and I, money is a tool, not a goal. The goal is comfort and happiness. To be happy with who you are, not how much is in the bank.

To this end, we are teaching our girls about money. Money has three purposes and we explain to the girls that each week of allowance should be used for all three purposes: 

  1. Savings. Always save some money first. You never know when you will need it.
  2. Spending. Why horde money? It’s a tool, use it.
  3. Charity or Tzdakah. You have a tool that you can use to help others. Do that. Help people when you can. Not because it makes you look good, but because it is the right thing to do.

I recently took the girls out to a toy shop. They were allowed to use X amount from their piggy banks. At first, Soleil complained, "But I have more than that in my bank!"   "Yes", I said, "but if you spend it all, what if you need the money for something else?"  She thought about this and agreed to only spend X. We spent about 40 minutes looking and deciding. In the end, I agreed to give the girls each $3 more than their limit because toys cost more than I expected. I am hoping that they learned something about cost, saving and spending….


Johnny today asked about if we feel "richer" than our parents. My basic answer is Hell yeah!, But does this mean our children will be spoiled? That is another question for another day.


The Monday Blues

Man, I am tired. And cold. My house is holding at 63 and since it is the last week of April, I am refusing to turn on the heater. Stubborn, I am so Stubborn!

Just finished a quick assessment of the risk of high count rate proposals for our telescope. I shouldn’t really work on Mondays, but I feel like I need to just to keep up, and the girls are playing nicely downstairs.

We have plants to transplant. I think the girls and I will do that this afternoon. Tomato plants. Yum. Unfortunately, we need to wait until Mid/late May to put them on the deck. For now, they will enjoy inside. I feel like a plant experiment right now. Lots and lots of little plants in our house. Tomatoes, parsley and hibiscus.

After hitting 86 last week, it will hold in the low 50s with rain this week. Yuck.  Sometimes, spring depresses me.

I need to find some time this week. Anybody got some time to spare?

Dear Smithsonian Institution

Dear Sirs and Madams,

When purchasing items for your museum gift shops please consider placing a warning on products such as "buying your three year old child a  Cherry blossom plant kit will cause undue stress because you need to SOAK the seeds for 24 hours before even considering planting them and then you need to put them in COLD STORAGE for 30 days in the fridge."

Please find enclosed with this letter,  a USB stick that contains an audio file of the screaming that will ensue  when I explain to said three year old that we need to have her seeds chill out before she can watch them grow. Please consider playing this audio file to all employees whose duties include buying new merchandise for the stores.

Thank you,


Much ado about everything

There’s just WAY too much going on inside my head. First of all, I need to finish writing up an SOP (standard operating procedure) for work, but I can’t find the one fricken email that I need to do this. Gah! While searching my email, I discovered that I had missed an email on Friday (well, I was out of town) from my boss asking me to do something on the "fairly important" scale of things. Frick.

Secondly, I got my hair colored today. Second time ever. I really like it, but I get a headache from the chemicals. Then I start to worry, should I be doing this? What if these chemicals will cause some major life changing event? What if I develop an allergy to the chemicals (do not laugh! I am allergic to almost every lipstick out there…) What if I look silly with my new color ("copper penny")? Then I notice that Kelly wasn’t around. Then I was realizing that Kelly’s husband was flirting with my hairdresser. Then I figured out that they were going to Cancun together (my hairdresser and the owner). OMG! So I casually asked if Kelly was planning to do massages when the rooms are built (they just moved to a new place) and I found out the sordid details of Kelly leaving said owner! The gossip! I felt like I needed to out myself as a gossip monger or something. This is just not me! 

Did I mention I need to finish this stupid SOP? So I can write another one? A brand new one to send up a new software patch to the spacecraft? The last time we did this, I went into pre-term labor with Luna. I wonder if this is why I am stalling.

I finished "Princes in Love" while getting my hair colored. I blame Becky. If she hadn’t brought "Princess Mia", the eighth Princess Diaries book, to my house and REFUSE to lend it to me until I had read the other seven, I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with Meg Cabot right now. But, Here I am…

And Meg Cabot has a blog. Very very cool. I read WAY too many blogs

I’ve been painting the railing on my deck. We’ve been avoiding it like the plague, but when there is too much wood showing, what can you do? We expect to lose the deck in our reconstruction in 2 years, but… I am now covered with white paint.

Jay got a letter from one of the Big Wigs (BW for short) in his specialty of astrophysics and it basically said "The next time we have this meeting should be in Cambridge Mass. BW1 and BW2 and I have spoken and we think you should work with BWs X & Z from MIT. You could be the CfA person to lead."  (sorry for all of the secrecy… I know that a few people have some astro connections here and I just don’t want to out Jay!) Well! I called up Jay and he still thinks he is just a lowly guy in the field. I keep explaining to him that BW1 really likes his work and for BW2 to be even aware of him (which I know BW2 is more than just aware of Jay), should remind him that he is not just small fish in big pond. He is so self-deprecating some times! UGH!

Did I mention that last week I spent all Wednesday working on the spacecraft software patch? And that it nearly killed me? mentally, that is.

We made Passover pancakes two nights ago. It’s mostly egg and cottage cheese, but Soleil LOVED them. She ate them up. This was a shock for us since she rarely eats. Although I just checked the CDC, she is 50 percentile. I thought she was much lower considering how much bone she shows. And that size 5 slips off of her hips! We’re making the pancakes again tonight.

Thanks to ALL who know the Princess Bride so well. I often yell to Jay "Have fun Storming the Castle" when we depart, and the kids don’t get it…one day, when they won’t be afraid of the ROUS, we can watch it together.

I guess I really have to do this SOP,eh? Sigh… Okay, I’ll go get to work..Then to Starbucks.!



They’re dead, Jim!*

So, Luna and I went to the dentist this morning. He looked and checked out her gums. Then he drew some pretty pictures.

The teeth are turning grey because the trauma to them ruptured the blood vessels in the tooth. There is no way to know if the tooth is REALLY dead, or just Mostly Dead( "to blathe"). So we need to check on her gums. Her gums? oh yes, my friends in the ether, if her gums start to show white spots, like a pimple, then the tooth HAS died and the pulp is infected. The infection will damage the incoming adult tooth. So then we would have to remove them.


Lovely. Just fricken lovely….


*Sorry Star Trek Fans

** Extra points to the person who finds the Princess Bride reference 

Dodging the bullets

  • Today it is going to hit 86
  • That’s Hot
  • Luna’s two front teeth are turning grey. She fell last week in ice skating and may have damaged them
  • Our fridge stinks. I need to clean it
  • My work email is flaky
  • Jay lost his sunglasses in Maryland. Frick
  • I miss the good old days when I could drive a 7 and a half hour trip in 7 and a half hours
  • We avoided NJ on the way back. As much as we could
  • New Mom Phrase "Don’t talk to mommy when we’re on the Cross Bronx"
  • Need coffee… Heading to get some!
  • did I mention it’s going to hit 86 degrees today??????

We had a guest teddy bear on our trip. He wasn’t too happy about the way we posed him for photos!

While on vacation…

  • one should avoid New Jersey…Unless they really like sitting on the Turnpike for hours. Maybe the Garden State would be faster. We lost 3 hours on the Turnpike
  • one should remember to bring lots of helps
  • one should try to avoid getting a stomach flu
  • one should sleep more