It's that time of the year where lots of newsletters, websites, and, well, everything, release gift guides. I get sucked into these as much as anyone else. It's a lot of fun to see what's trending or new. Plus, occasionally, it sparks an idea for a great gift.
When it comes to gifts I like, I tend to want something practical... or nothing at all. Having lots of "stuff" around makes me anxious. But even I need and want new things. I keep a short list of stuff on an I Want Pinterest board. Some of the items have been on there for years because I just don't see the need to ask for them yet. Other things, I would just never buy for myself but think they might be nice to have. (Mom - I know you're reading this. I promise I'll send you an actual list soon.) In lieu of buying gifts for each other, the husband and I are each buying ourselves new laptops since we both need them.
Now that we've got a kiddo, I'm more focused on her gift list. We don't live in a big place and having lots of toys means that none of them get played with very often. Our family has been wonderful respecting our boundaries around gifts. For her birthday and Christmas, we put together a list. Each family group can pick one item from that list. This year, we said they could add a stocking stuff item of their choice. Kiddo gets to open everything but we don't keep it all out. She picks a toy to keep and the rest go away for later. We break a new one back out every few weeks or months. We try to time that to a day she is home from daycare and we're also stuck working from home.
It's a system that's worked really well for us. The one problem is, I sometimes forget we have this stash of toys. We still have one toy from last Christmas that we have yet to pull out.
How do you handle gifting?
Normally, I work from home on Fridays. I'm in the office today covering a colleague's reference desk shift. It's the second to last day of classes. I took a lap of our space and there are only 8 students here at the start of my shift. While that makes the shifts feel longer, I will be able to get a lot of other work done.
Here's what made me smile this week:
Last night, I sat down to draft up the December monthly pages in my bullet journal. I am astounded that we are almost in the last month of the year. My major projects did not end up where I hoped, but at least there was movement on all them.
Before the year is out, I need to sit down and strategically plan all the work and personal things for 2023. I started doing this a few years ago and I really like how it keeps me focused but leaves room for randomness.
Here's what I've been working on:
Tomorrow is, what I like to call, national unsubscribe from emails day.
I used to say yes to every store, company, or retailer email I could get. I loved the coupons, sale alerts, and new product updates.
Five or so years ago, I was done with it all. Cyber Monday was the last straw. One company sent me over ten messages in a single day. The amount of email I had to wade through to get to what I wanted to read was too much.
From that point on, I hit unsubscribe on all commercial emails. It's just too easy to find discount codes online these days (thank you, Honey *referral link*).
Occasionally, I either get added back on to lists or an old company randomly emails me. They always appear on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I am ready to click unsubscribe on every single message. (You can also search "unsubscribe" and find mailing lists that way.)
The side benefit of all this - I spend a lot less money.
Our drive down to SC was delightfully smooth and two hours faster than normal. While the weather tomorrow looks okay, I don't think the traffic volume will be as kind. Fingers crossed we make it home in under 10 hours.
Here's what made my week:
The Thousandth Floor
I feel like I’ve met a hundred characters and the author is still world building. I like the world and I can sort of see where the plot is building, but I haven’t quite fallen into the story yet.
I thought this would be the kind of book I would get addicted to. I don't know if it's my level of tiredness each evening or the story, but The Thousandth Floor just hasn't fully captured my interest. There are moments of awesome, but mostly it's just basic reading.
This morning, I set up my out of office message to start auto-replying at 4pm. In just a few hours, I get to log off work and enjoy an extra long weekend with my family. It's been wonderful watching the kiddo enjoy her grandparent daycare this week. They've taken her out to a lot of cool places. (I want to go to a trampoline park!) I've enjoyed the random "Hi, mom!" pop ins that I get while working. I'm grateful that my library lets me work from "home" like this on occasion. It makes work/life balance so much easier.
Here's what I've been working on.
Parentheses are an overlooked tool in BOOLEAN searching. When you build an advanced search string, it can be helpful to think of it like a math equation. As in math, parentheses indicated that 1) this should be done first and 2) the items inside are clustered together.
For example, I can make a search that say:
"Langston Hughes" AND "Harlem Renaissance" AND Impact OR Influence OR Importance
That will search for all my terms but gets a bit fuzzy at the end because Impact OR Influence OR Importance means that the Influence and Importance keywords could related to anything. (Databases are not as smart as Google).
If I change the search to say:
"Langston Hughes" AND "Harlem Renaissance" AND (Impact OR Influence OR Importance)
The parentheses now tell the database, I don't care which word inside the parentheses you use, but I want it attached to both Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance.
Essentially, parentheses let you design a compound search to get more targeted and, thus, relevant results. It's a great way to clump similar keywords together.
It's been a long week of solo parenting, work, and travel. To quote my daughter, "I don't want to talk right now."
There's a lot of good stuff in this week's Wrap. Time to just jump to the links.
The husband has been out of town for work since Wednesday. Thankfully, our kiddo has been both kind to me and healthy. It's a lot easier to solo parent when you get to keep access to childcare.
Here's what else was good in my week: