What is the birth dearth worth?

The latest provisional birth data is out and the results are an ongoing decline in total births at all but the oldest ages (mostly 40+, which is barely any of the total babies).

I have no idea when I can get around to it in more detail but Gen X (my “generation”) beat the spread and had more babies than their initial TFR predicted, which is pretty interesting.  Also cohort analysis shows some specific cohorts within Gen X and older-Millennial are having more higher-order births (3, 4, 5th, etc) than  their fellow cohort-sisters.

So on the one hand a few small groups that someone eventually should look at more closely are having more children than expected.  On the other hand, the big-picture of fertility is ongoing declines in baby-having at every stage of fertile-life.

So what is this ongoing decline in new life worth?  What is it worth to the ever-shrinking  pool of married parents?  And what’s making a handful of people double down and have marginal additional children at all?

 

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Stormy Monday (a blast from the recent past)

This was a draft I started a while back and you can see why it never got finished, lol.   The washing machine is ok, though! And the kitchen is shard-free! We stopped buying jam (and pb) entirely and switched to deli meat.

Original below.

Not only is there an actual (but mild) storm meaning our planned outdoor time was reduced to about 15 minutes, but this has been my day so far:

  • One child dropped a glass jar of jam on the floor
  • At the same time I found out one of the laundry loads was covered in yellow paper which turned out to be cardboard from a lightbulb package (lightbulb did not make it into the machine though).
  • So I went back and forth shaking out every single piece of clothing and then cleaning up the whole thing between closing the kitchen door and getting up the shards and jam.

Life in the Lion’s Den: How grocery shopping more frequently saves us money

One of the learning curves we’ve experienced living in suburbia is kitchen design.  Our old kitchen in the sticks was tiny (almost no prep space), but with very generous pantry space.  It was set up to reheat large portions of shelf-stable foods and not for multi-course cooking.

We had about this much pantry space, but split on each side of the fridge.

The current kitchen has, effectively, no pantry, but lots and lots of custom soft-touch shelving to grab the array of dishes for the gourmet meals you’ll definitely be cooking for that special someone.  Even bachelors can dream big.

We have a zillion of these instead of real cabinet space.

We also went from this type of refrigerator

Ok, it wasn’t outside though. But this is it.

to this type

We have this but narrower, if you can believe.

The change in fridge shelving meant it was much harder to figure out where stale/old food was piling up.

The upshot of all this kitchen change was that we had to switch from weekly shopping to shopping 3-4x a week.  And we are saving a surprising amount of money.  Like 25% off the old grocery budget.

How can such a thing be?

We have found that since the kitchen is not designed to store large amounts of food that we can keep track of our food consumption easier by buying smaller portions.  Then when it’s gone, it’s really gone, not crammed somewhere random.  Things fall behind the super deep shelves of our weirdly narrow fridge.  So less is better, less likely to get shoved into the back and fall into the fridge-abyss.

Also, we used to avoid buying what we wanted if it was supposed to be eaten in a couple of days (usually deli meals, sushi or ready-made salads).  But here buying that stuff means we know what everyone’s eating a lot more easily and if the kids have a picky phase, we aren’t struggling through a stockpile of bulk whatever.  Also, yes, we can buy lighter, lower-cal stuff for Mommy and Daddy this way.

Yes, we buy oatmeal in the single serving packets.  And we’re spending less money than when we bought the bulk sack because half of it doesn’t end up on the floor when someone tiny has a meltdown.

It’s all very counter-intuitive, but it was also a nice feeling to add up the budget for the month and get a pleasant surprise.

Also, and this isn’t really money-related, but we get a lot of decent social interaction out of shopping more often.  People being nice, striking up conversation, just a lot of positivity.  The store managers know us and are glad to see us, and the kids even have their own little shopping carts they can use.

The stores we go to are real “third places” and very mother-friendly rather than “kid-friendly”.  One of the kids has leveled up to “runner” and I don’t have to bring him back or face judging about his breaking and running.  Given that in suburbia I pretty much always have more kids than any other mothers, it’s really a relief and comfort that the grocery store is a place where I’m welcome and acceptable.

(This was in fact true in the boonies too (not the kids thing, there were some larger families, usually 5 kids that would pop in now and again), but we just shopped less often, so I wasn’t seeing that aspect nearly as often going 3-5x a month vs. a week.)

(not) Furnishing Castle Ladyhawke

We tried this but the kids have been turning the baskets into airplanes and robots instead of putting their clothes in them.  They seem to do much better keeping up with their ever-increasing wardrobes when they have actual dressers.  Life was so much easier when someone would just dump a load of near-new clothes on us after the last batch was shredded to ribbons by rough play and wearing tulle to climb the highest tree.

So I tried to go to a local furniture store and see what there was to see and if they could deliver it.  First place was closed, and second place was only a warehouse for the main store an hour away.  The third place bragged about their personal touch and unique styles.  I should have known better, but I was hoping to get an order in before the end of the month somewhere, with the 3 month lead times that are so typical with furniture.

I went in.  And this was the joy that greeted me.

Factory finish?

Only 299.99!

Reduced to UNDER 400, what a steal!

Anyway I got tired of looking at stuff that was in worse shape than even what my kids would do to some nice older-wood furniture and yet a lot of women with spray-tans and baseball caps seemed into it.

I will never get the distressed trend.  Also everything was skinny (no depth) but tooooo long.

 

Mama Magic, oatmeal edition

One of the kids thought it would be a great idea to dump oats into the sugar jar since I said they could have a little sugar with their oatmeal.  Then there were tears since it came up mostly sugar.

I thought I would have to toss it all, but then I remembered something I used to see my own sainted mother do when baking, which was use a sifter.  I didn’t have to use a sifter, I just shook the sugar-oats out with a regular strainer into a mixing bowl.  The oats were greatly reduced in sugar content and had maybe 1tsp a serving, while the sugar just had some oat powder left behind.  Breakfast was salvaged for another few days (my children eat like the war horses at the local stable) and now I have a new kitchen task to train them on.

But the sugar jar is no longer in kid-reach.

Almost all American married parents are Amazon Prime customers.

Amazon recently revealed they have 90 million or so Prime users in America, and that in the income ranges that mark the married class they have 70 to 90% uptake, with the 100k+ being close to 90% as far as they can tell.  By nearly any guess or estimate or account list, the majority of American households period are not just buying from Amazon, but subscribed to its Prime division.

I see right wing people brag about not buying from Amazon ever, and then I look at the reality on the ground for married mothers, who continue to have most of the children.

Acknowledgement of the extent of SCALE is part of the way towards reducing it.  Bragging on a Amazon Web Services-backed server about how you personally never go near the website to buy books or whatever, not so much.

“All states experienced an increase in the percentage of interracial and interethnic married-couple households from 2000 to 2012-2016.”

“The percentage of married-couple households that are interracial or interethnic grew across the United States from 7.4 to 10.2 percent from 2000 to 2012-2016.”

From interracial marriage reporting from the Census Bureau.

ETA an interesting note from a working paper about health status in interracial relationships. “Having a White partner is associated with higher self-rated health for Hispanic, Black, and Asian men and women, relative to having a partner of one’s own race/ethnicity. For White women, but not for White men, having a non-White partner is associated with worse self-rated health. ”