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StephanieZ last won the day on January 10 2014

StephanieZ had the most liked content!

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About StephanieZ

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    Child Wrangler

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    Between a hill and a valley

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  1. The later school hours are way more humane for kids and better in most respects, but for mixing parenting with working, I can totally see the upside of the super early shift . . .
  2. The 7-2 schedule sounds awesome if it works for your sleep schedule, as it'd allow you so many more opportunities to "do life" before 5 on work days, especially for after-school stuff with your kid(s). So, that'd probably be a big factor for me, personally.
  3. I suspect that WELL painted brick could last a very long time w/o maintenance. Good strategy on color choice, good prep work, high quality paint of the correct variety . . . and you could likely last decades with one paint job (same as you can with properly painted hardi-plank or concrete). If I were building new, I sure wouldn't plan to paint brick. But, if I were facing an ugly brick on a nice house, I might do it . . .
  4. Random things to consider . . . + ASAP, I'd totally put cheap padding and carpet down over that tile for a couple years, until you're not so worried about the kids cracking their heads. For just a couple/few hundred bucks, you can make the floor a million time safer and reduce a lot of your (reasonable) worries. Plan to rip it out when it gets nasty and then that tile will still be there, good as new. + My climber kids had bunks at those ages and I never felt unsafe, but they weren't REALLY crazy, just climbed all the time. But, with thick padding and carpet, it was fine. Kids fall. It's OK. I mean, my youngest climbed the ladder to the tip top of the big kids' bunks when she was TEN MONTHS OLD and did that in about 20 seconds flat (first time she ever got on any ladder of any sort, while Dad was helping the kids brush their teeth in the bathroom no more than 20 feet away . . . So, I get it. But, still, no damage done . . . + A Twin-over-Full bunk, slammed against the wall on the long side and with modern, safe design . . . could be pretty darn safe. Especially because if you fell off the long side of the twin, you'd land on the full. 🙂 And the short ends could be pretty hard to climb with the right design (say, solid panels instead of rails/slats . . .) Modern bunks have so many safety rails, etc, they're pretty darn safe, I think. + You could take the doors off the closet and just take over that closet space for more floor space for bed space if that helps. Even if you keep the closet as a "closet", I'd still take the doors off to clear the floor space. You could hang curtains or just leave it open. + You could remove everything but sleep/peaceful stuff in the entire room. You could remove all toys (to the family room, whatever) and maybe all the clothes, too, or at least ONLY have minimal clothes (maybe only jammies) and books/lovies in there. + Kids clothes could go to some "family closet" wherever you can fit them. Maybe in the laundry room. Or an armoire in your family room or maybe in your master. + So, at a minimum, each kid would have a lovely bed, with room for a few movies and a bin/nook somewhere for their favorite books and one or two items they really want in the bed room. Everything else OUT (and give each a chest/cabinet/shelf/trunk/whatever somewhere in the house that is "theirs" for their STUFF). + Consider curtains as dividers/screens (in place of closet doors and/or between beds) if desired. Make them easily washable to minimize allergens.
  5. My prediction: the parents are junkies and they are going to lose their kids for keeps, most likely, and that's likely for the best. Nothing adds up in their story. NOTE: Infant spit-up does not equal vomit. Infant spit up drying on the baby's bib or mom's shoulder is NOT THE SAME THING as "sick vomit" I've had a house full of family members vomiting and having explosive diarrhea. I've had all the kids sick and Mom and Dad, too. I've had crap all over the couch and vomit splattered all over the laundry room (and that was a TEEN)! I've had toddlers vomiting and diarrhea exploding. I'm sure most of us have BTDT. Also, I'm not the most fastidious person. But, I've never, ever, ever left vomit around my kid's mouth to dry. Nor left vomit or *any other bodily fluid* stain on their bedding or anywhere else. I see the vomit or other bodily fluid, and I CLEAN IT UP no matter how sick I am myself. So would my husband. I just can't FATHOM a responsible adult allowing a small child to be in bed with vomit or other bodily fluids on it. Nope, that's on the adults. Kids under 8 or so are 100% on the adults to keep clean, healthy and well. No excuses. Sorry, not sorry. That point alone, IMHO, says those parents are up to a lot of very bad stuff. (I totally believe they were destroying evidence while CPS was trying to get in and in NO WAY do I believe they all slept through the attempts at getting in.) No way, no how, does a responsible parent allow a young child to have vomit drying on their clothes or bedding. Unless you're drugged out of your mind (or seriously mentally ill and incompetent), or unless your very, very busy doing something much more important than performing the basic duties of parenthood. (If these parents lived in housing with no running water, that'd be a totally different situation. STILL no excuse for vomit drying on your little kid's face, though. None.) IMHO, as long as the reports are generally accurate, then IMHO, these parents are very bad, no good, awful. I'm Team DR 100% on this one. I hope I'm wrong about the parents, but I doubt I am.
  6. What does he do all day when he's not at school? I'd be inclined to make sure you know that he's NOT on the computer screwing around or doing any gaming. How does he evade going to class? What's he DOING? Are there consequences you could apply that would motivate him to go to class? (I.e., take away privileges, his phone, his computer, etc.)? Is there a school option that wouldn't rely on the computer, so you could take that away? If you HAVE to let him have the computer, I'd hire a PRO to install nanny-ware that would allow you to both monitor and control his use of it to make certain he could only use it for school. (You could have a second "family" computer in the kitchen or similar area that he had very controlled access to in order to do "fun stuff" as a reward and under your supervision/control.) TBH, I'd be inclined to consider a more intensive therapeutic environment. I have struggled a lot with one of my (neurotypical) kids, and if I had the added complexities of a handful of serious diagnoses, I'd definitely seek professional guidance on a day to day basis to get him on a better path. You could have a FIT with the insurance-approved psych and insist on being seen NOW (I know I would, and you might have already . . .) . . . or seek some sort of in-patient assessment/treatment or therapeutic school. I know that sounds extreme, to me, but, TBH, that's the direction I'd go if I couldn't control his daily behavior to at least get to school and go to class (the vast majority of the time). I'd be looking at the clock, thinking I only had 3 more years to get him "in hand" before he's out of my control and at high risk of imploding. (((hugs)))
  7. Plenty of salaried jobs have required hours. I.e., medical professionals or any other field that requires set hours of availability/appointments. In those roles, even if state or federal law required a salaried person to be paid for the day even if they leave after a short while, that person would find themselves w/o a job pretty fast if they did that with any regularity. I might not be able to dock your pay if you left at 10A but were scheduled to work until 5P, but I can still reprimand and/or fire you . . . (in most situations). Legal requirements vary HUGELY by state, so definitely search YOUR state's laws in addition to federal laws. (It's likely smart to consult your business attorney if feasible.) Once you've nailed down your legal limitations, then you can just do whatever makes sense to your company. If your state and company have laws and policies that make it easy-to-fire, then it's not as critical to nail down the policies beyond legal compliance, because you can just fire folks who abuse the system. If your state/company make it hard to fire, then it's super important to nail down the policies ASAP, IMHO. (That said, I personally like to have company policies as clear as possible to maximize the likelihood of employees succeeding.) We pay all our staff except dh/owner (even professional ones -- veterinarians) hourly to avoid these sorts of complications. In a field such as ours, it's critical that folks are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there, so avoiding salaried positions has that advantage. And, even though folks don't get paid if they aren't there (or using their hourly PTO), we still would have to fire someone who wasn't reliable.
  8. My friend and her husband were on a cross country flight a couple years ago. They had booked an aisle and a window with a vacant middle seat between them. (Him -- an aisle seat, as that used to be the haven for tall folks. Her -- a window seat, so she could sleep.) A hugely obese woman was seated between them, in the middle seat, with a "seat belt extender", etc. She was so huge that the poor woman's body could NOT fit between the arm rests. Her bum was up above the rests, resting upon both of them, with her body literally pouring over BOTH arm rests. She couldn't lower her arms at all during teh entire flight. She had to hold them in front of her, hands clasped in front of her face, elbows up. For 5 or 6 hours (coast to coast). My (slim) friend was crammed against her window during the entire flight. She has so little space that she couldn't even use her small pillow between her head and the window. There was no way on earth she could have gotten up to use the restroom, as moving was pretty much impossible, and the middle seat passenger getting in or out of the seat was a heroic feat that involved a lot of time and difficulty. Thankfully, no bathroom emergency occurred. The obese passenger was clearly very uncomfortable for the 5+ hour flight and was sweating profusely. So, she was sweating and stinking on to both my friend and her husband. My friend and her husband are infinitely kind and compassionate people. They said NOT A WORD during the entire miserable flight. They did later warn me (and I'm sure others) about being aware of the middle "handicapped designated" seats, as apparently these are used for overweight folks . . . because the aisle seats can't be used because otherwise the passenger's body would BLOCK THE AISLE. Instead, they just take over their neighbor's seat space . . . IMHO, this is an airline problem and an obese passenger problem. Airlines have made seats (and aisles, and bathrooms) ridiculously small while the average passenger is getting larger and larger. There are not easy ways to upgrade to a "plus size" seat for a modest cost. If it's a $300 coach flight, first class might be $1000. Instead, there should be a "plus size" seat available that is, say 50% wider and 20% more leg room. Charge 30-70% more for the plus size seat, but not 3-5x+. Then they need to mandate that folks verify they can FIT INTO a regular seat if they don't want to pay for a plus size one. Honestly, I think it's abusive what happened to my friends AND to that poor middle seat woman. There's GOT to be a better way. Meanwhile, I do think it's required by good manners that if you can't fit your body into the allotted space of YOUR seat, you figure out another seat (upgrade, etc), another airline with better seating options, or drive/train/whatever if at all possible. It's just not cool to invade a seat mate's space, IMHO.
  9. This is incorrect. Many things can result in penalties during the year if you don't do them right, even if you send in all your taxes by April. There are numerous ways to owe penalties for under-withholding or under-paying estimated taxes, and I'm sure there are lots of other ways that I haven't had the pleasure of discovering, lol. You can likely avoid LATE FEES by paying by April 15, but not all penalties, for sure. If you pre-pay last year's tax burden PLUS 10% *during the year that ends Dec 31*, that (generally) puts you in a "safe haven" where penalties are not assessed even if you owe money. Since our own taxes due are very unpredictable and impossible to accurately calculate before year end, this is what we aim for every year, doing careful calculations quarterly to make sure we stay on track for "last year plus 10%" to avoid the easiest way for penalties to be assessed. If, for instance, we earned 100k last year and owed 10k in Federal taxes, then this year, if we pre-paid (by Dec 31) 11k, we should be in safe haven and not owe penalties, even if we earned more than 100k (say 120k) and so will owe more in taxes than we pre-paid. But, if we'd only withheld 10k this year, we'd owe the additional taxes PLUS penalties. (There may be some ways to lose your safe haven if you are ridiculous . . . but I've never been a ridiculous tax payer, lol. We do our best to comply with the rules. I.e., I can't guarantee that safe haven applies if you earned 10k last year and 1 million this year . . . I have no idea.) Also, if you use "estimated" quarterly tax filing (ie., you own your own business) instead of using the standard withholdings on your paycheck, you can get assessed penalties for not withholding enough throughout the year (they penalize you for under withholding early in the year and then trying to make up for it at year end) Since our own income includes both regular payroll withholding and other income that would typically lead to quarterly estimated payments, we actually use a "trick" to avoid the risks of THIS particular penalty by completely avoiding the quarterly payments and instead having extra withheld from our paychecks -- which thereby avoids that particular penalty risk, as with regular payroll deductions, you can do it all at year end if need be. (And, indeed, some years we've had to ramp up our last few paychecks to put all or nearly all of them into withholdings. This trick is quite handy for us since we often have no idea what our taxable income will be until the accountant is finished with our taxes. Even though we have quarterly reviews to do our best to estimate . . . At least with this trick, we can avoid the risk of penalties.) Anyway, I'm sure others with other types of income and issues face OTHER penalties, but I can speak to these couple, lol.
  10. That was true last year, as it is true in general. What it will look like THIS year is yet to be determined. The lack of predictability is a problem, and they did a very bad job rolling out the tax changes, as even our CPA has had to guess all of 2018 as to what many of the rules are, as many important issues were not clarified until very late in the year if ever. It makes our 2018 taxes even more of a "black box" than they always are (as small business owners with lots of year end calculations by the CPA required to have a good idea of what our actual taxes will be.) Be especially careful looking at "averages" because, as we know, an average is very skewed by BIG numbers at the high end. The median would be more relevant.
  11. Yup, the "tax scam" hit regular folks a lot harder than the scammers led us to believe. Shocked. I'm shocked. (Not.)
  12. Have you watched the show? Everyone gets rid of heaps of stuff. She shows the mounds of donation bags and garbage bags and even shows them taking the stuff to donation centers. The emphasis is very much on assessing each item for personal value and "letting go" of things that don't bring value.
  13. I think they should be free nation wide. Personally, I have kept stocks of them distributed around my house (in every bathroom, in opened boxes so it's not obvious how many were/are there) ever since my oldest was a teen. I send big boxes to college, too. My goal is to do my part to make sure no teen/college kid I or my kids know gets pregnant unintentionally. From a purely selfish standpoint, can you imagine how distracting and upsetting it'd be if your college roommate got knocked up by her fling? I know that at least two doses of Plan B (that I paid for) have prevented that mishap in my kids' circle of friends. Worth every penny. It's not my business when or how or if they get used, but neither is whether poor parents feed their kids. I donate to food banks, too.
  14. I typically drop everything into my bottomless purse and hope for the best. Some times, if I have my wallet handy, I put them back in there., where they belong. Bills start out in my wallet when I get a pile of cash from the bank, but they rarely return to my wallet when I get change/etc. I'd say 80% of my bills live in my wallet at any given time, with a few more floating around anywhere in my purse and pockets. Big bills are more likely to make it back to the wallet vs the bottom of the purse. But big bills are often lost in pants or jacket pockets when I stash the "emergency $40" when going somewhere w/o a purse. When I can't find enough money in the bottomless purse, I get more cash at next opportunity. At any given moment, I could have $20 to $300 (occasionally more) cash in my purse, and I rarely know how much more than maybe a $200 window. I notice if I run low on green bills, but I never actually know how much. Receipts get stuffed wherever. If it's a really important one, I put it in my wallet where paper money is supposed to be. If it's not important, I do my best to toss it in the trash ASAP. Middle-importance receipts are the ones that tend to float around in my purse until I clean it out (every 3-12 months). By then, usually they're destroyed enough to go ahead and throw away. My mom once bought me a new purse to get me to clean out my purse. This was a few days after she watched me have to dump my entire purse on the floor to find my car keys to get us home from the theatre. (That isn't a rare occurrence.) I know my purse is a mess. Whatever. It's fine with me. I would think you are a bit neurotic (nicely) to keep your cash and receipts so organized, and I suppose you'd think I'm neurotic to be as messy as I am. Personally, I believe there is a WIDE WIDE middle ground of reasonable tidiness/messiness and I'd guess that as long as we're each functioning effectively and happily, it's all good. If it makes you miserable, change it up.
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