weekend free-for-all – December 19-20, 2015

Olive on back under treeThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

{ 775 comments… read them below }

  1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    My life is complicated right now but WHO CARES since a friend just helped me get the Warlords of Draenor WoW extension that’s currently 50% off.

    I just caught a cold, but I’m still really happy! Using Dad’s apartment until he returns from vacation in about a month, living like a princess in Paris (sans computer though, long live internet cafés, back at mom’s tonight using my stuff for a bit) .

    So yeah. And also, the best best part: reconnecting with a new friend and nurturing that friendship. Very, very nice week indeed.

    1. nep*

      That’s great. Good for you.
      May your cold ease up soon.
      Enjoy these lovely things that have come your way.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          The leveling in Warlords is pretty great, and the info coming out about Legion is so far pretty encouraging – though YMMV based on class and spec and also lots of salt-grains due to alpha/beta status.

  2. Special Snowflake*

    I need to find a yankee swap/white elephant gift for 19-21 dollars that appeals to men/women and children from 11-80. Rules are that it can’t be coffee/drinks, gift cards or alcohol.
    Any suggestions? I keep coming back to board game but I’m not sure what my extended family has in that realm.

    1. Maybe Tomorrow*

      I found indoor snowballs and instant snow in a can. Try looking in the seasonal baskets for a variety of fun play things.

    2. Felix*

      Oh I have a couple of ideas:
      – nice clear water bottle (nalgene maybe?) filled with candy
      – box of hedge hog chocolates
      – Anything Star Wars related
      – the new Adele CD
      – movie night basket (big metal bowl – from dollar store- filled with popcorn, licorice, candy and a couple of classic family friendly movies from Walmart, usually a couple of bucks each).

    3. Andrea*

      Shredder or an electric stapler. Honestly, something people need and therefore hot commodity at a white elephant. Likely to get stolen many times.

      1. rozin*

        It’s true! At the last white elephant at my company someone brought in rolls of toilet paper and everyone was trying to steal it.

    4. Lee Ann*

      At my tech company, things related to smartphones were big hits: speakers, chargers, and tiny app-controlled drones.

      1. Natalie*

        You can sometimes find those little power pack things for under $20; those are always useful for a smartphone or tablet.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Yes! Someone did this at my work Yankee swap and it was a big hit.

          So were the Star Wars mugs with hot cocoa packets included.

    5. overeducated and underemployed*

      Lost Cities and Coup are a couple of affordable card games for a wide age range.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      A snow broom for their car? I mean like one of those foam rectangles on a pole. I found one for under $20 and I am not sure how I lived without it. I can clean 8 inches off of my car in about 2 minutes.

      1. Elizabeth*

        This – if you live near a major highway stop or farm supply store (or really Costco or Walmart) get one with a SUPER long handle – my mom got one in a yankee swap years ago – she was a 5’2″ woman who had spent the last year trying to clear her suburban off without getting covered in snow, this made it possible- she then went and bought them for everyone, best gift ever.

    7. Windchime*

      We had a yankee swap exchange this weekend and by far the most coveted gift was a couple of silly little flying toys. They weren’t even at the level of drones; just little things with a couple of propellers that took batteries. The “kids” who fought over them were between 25 and 35 years old, but they were definitely appropriate for smaller kids, too. I don’t know what they were called but I think they were purchased at a stand in the mall or something.

      1. Artemesia*

        I went to one one year where the big sought after item was a bathtub submarine designed for toddlers; everyone wanted it. I was at a book swap dirty Santa this year where one person forgot and didn’t have time to get to a bookstore and so brought a Bed Bath and Beyond 3 wick balsam scented candle. The books were all really good, but it was the candle that everyone went for weirdly enough. I lost on the candle but went and bought one (they were two for one and so not quite so ridiculously expensive as usual) and now my house smells like a Christmas tree.

    8. GOG11*

      I think crafty kits are fun – something that includes everything a person needs to complete an easy and fairly quick project. There was a paint your own piggy bank at a yankee swap I went to a few years ago and it was very popular.

    9. College Career Counselor*

      Google 25 words or less board game. That’s a good one. (Yes, I’m aware if should be 25 words or fewer, but whaddaya gonna do?)

    10. Sparky*

      One of those stuffed things representing a giant germ or disease? I actually think those are sort of cool. I also think it would be fun for everyone to be trading Small Pox, or Tetanus. Or giant red or white blood cells.

    11. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Almost guaranteed they don’t have the game Timeline, and they’re missing out. It’s a card game with a bunch of event cards: invention of the telescope, discovery of fire, battle of Hastings, etc. The goal of the game is to put the events in chronological order. The rules are easy, the game is challenging, good for all ages and a lot more fun than it sounds. Plus it’s educational. Oooh, or Tenzie. That’s a dice game where you try to be the first to get 10 of a number. Two sets of Tenzie, (it’s good to have enough for 8 players) will put you in your price range. With Timeline you’ll need to add some chocolate or something.

      You could also buy one of those ball ice cream makers. They’re a fun novelty gift, great for camping and most people don’t have one.

    12. ginger ale for all*

      Perhaps a pack of Uno cards and party food? And a six pack of fancy soda? Game night party in a box idea.

    13. AmyNYC*

      My family does this too! This year I’m bringing a set of small planters and herb seeds. The big “winners” from past years have been a Tupperware (not sure if it was brand name), generic scarf and gloves, a set of white towels, kitchen canisters (like for dry goods), and scratch off lottery tickets.

    14. Lindrine*

      I have been handing out portable chargers. You can find some of them for very good prices right now that are good quality. This is great for anyone with an electronic smart device.

      Other ideas:
      Fun novelty hat (think elf ears or reindeer ears)
      a game like Uno since you can never have too many of those cards
      ** I agree with the other commenters about the snow globes. Those appeal to a lot of people. I have an annoying plastic star wars one I picked up to decorate my desk at work.

    15. Mando Diao*

      Google “human hot dig cooker.” Not sure what your family’s threshold for dumb humor is, but it tends to go over well.

  3. Marzipan*

    So, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a single lady having fertility treatment. I had an early miscarriage in October (on International Baby-loss Awareness Day, just for completeness) and now it turns out I’m very slightly pregnant again. Rather ominously, the equivalent stage of pregnancy to when I lost the last one will be Christmas Day, so although the pregnancy tests this time around have a bit more ooomph than last time (when it was obvious something wasn’t right), I’m still fretting somewhat. Also, inevitably, I’m now freaking out that the whole thing was a terrible idea, and I’d be the single worst mother in the history of ever (and also the worst single mother!) and generally wondering what I was thinking. Not sure why I’m posting, really, except that it’s nice to be able to say what’s happening somewhere, while it’s all still under wraps in real life.

    On a side note, if you’re ever moved by a desire to make Turkish Delight as Christmas presents, don’t do it! It’s WAY more trouble than it’s worth.

    1. Anon for this*

      Congrats!! I am also newly pregnant again after loss (4 early miscarriages) and way too much fertility treatment. It’s so hard to believe that this one might go any differently… Big hugs to you, I know how hard it is.

    2. Tara R.*

      It can be such a relief to share something that you can’t share anywhere else. I really hope everything goes well for you!

    3. fposte*

      Fingers crossed for you, Marzipan. I think cold feet are natural, and I bet the hormones of fertility treatment just intensify them.

      I just found this great quote about Turkish Delight: “Americans seeking out the candy after watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe may wonder if Edmund Pevensie couldn’t have gotten a better price for his soul.”

      1. Windchime*

        I used to work with a guy from Turkey who brought us back some authentic Turkish Delight after a visit home. It was…..OK.

      2. Evie*

        I’ve heard people make more sense of Edward’s choice after pointing out that it was during rationing when sweets would have been very scarce!

      3. Jen RO*

        Turkish delight is so so good. We’re next door to Turkey, so it’s readily available, and even the meh ones are good… but the ones with walnuts or pistachio inside are the best!

        And, as your random fact of the day, we use the same word for Turkish delight and for poop. It creates interesting conversations.

    4. Mkb*

      I’m pregnant as well and have the same feeling everyday. I’m worried constantly about losing the baby or being a terrible mother. I think these are really common fears that happen to most.

      1. StillHealing*

        Hormone changes contribute to these feelings and yes, they are more common than people realize. Empower your inner dialogue and reassure your baby at the same time by finding mantras that work for you. I was a Nanny years ago for a family and the mom had those feelings during pregnancy which intensified after giving birth. She kept thinking she would make a mistake that caused harm to her babies. She found a good Therapist that helped her deal with the thoughts and feelings as well as got in to see her doctor to help manage the post pregnancy hormone changes.

    5. overeducated and underemployed*

      I hope you have a peaceful Christmas Day and a relieved time after. The secrecy and worry of early pregnancy is rough to go through, and so much more so after a loss. I am sure you’ll be a great mom – after all, the child will be wanted and loved, and the planning, purpose, independence, and motivation you have doing it as a single lady will be things that will all benefit your parenting too.

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        P.S. I have a one year old and I’m still terrified of being a bad mother, so maybe that part doesn’t go away…..

        1. Windchime*

          It doesn’t ever go away. I still worry about it sometimes and my kids are happy, well-adjusted adults.

          1. edj3*

            What Windchime said. I’m thankful my kids have turned out well but I like to say it’s through no fault of my own.

        2. Artemesia*

          NO matter what you do, you will later look back (and the kid will look back) and criticize your choices. Comes with the territory. The dumbest things we did as parents were very intentional because we thought they were a good idea at the time; now we ask ‘what were we thinking.’

          And every important rule seems to change every 20 years. We very carefully put our kids to sleep on their stomachs because it was ‘safer.’ uh huh.

          At least we had them in car seats literally from the time car seats became available in the early 70s.

          1. Jinx*

            I think one of the most important realizations I had as an adult was that my parents were just people. My parents were in their early 20s when I was born, and I’m in my early 20s now – I’d be a complete mess as a parent right now, so I can’t really judge my folks for what they didn’t do perfectly.

    6. Windchime*

      I’m very sorry for your loss. Fingers crossed for success this time around; I’m sure you will be a wonderful mother so please don’t stress about that.

      Fun fact: I grew up in a town in the US that ships a form a Turkish Delight world-wide.

    7. Ruffingit*

      Thinking great sticking thoughts for you! And you will be a wonderful mother. You might find some inspiration in following Leah Campbell on Facebook. She was a single woman who went through infertility treatment that did not work and ended up with an amazing, miraculous adoption that is a story for the ages. Here’s the link to her page. She also answers emails and I’m sure would be quite happy to talk with you about it as she was very candid in her blog when going through infertility treatments and loss herself. Helps sometimes to talk to people who’ve been there!

      https://www.facebook.com/Leah-Campbell-110309278986538/

    8. anonforthis*

      I think you’re very brave – I’m so afraid of pregnancy/childbirth that I won’t even have fertility treatments even though I very much want to be a parent. I wish you nothing but the best!

    9. LibbyG*

      Congratulations! I so hope this is the one that sticks. I’ve had three miscarriages and many, many cycles of treatments in the course of bringing home my two kids. That long-ass period between week 4 and week 13 is so hard! Keeping my fingers crossed for nothing but good signs for here on out.

    10. Clever Name*

      I think cautious congratulations are in order! When I found out I was (very intentionally) pregnant with my son, I definitely had a “what have I done?” moment. :)

    11. Hrrecruiter*

      Congrats and best of luck! I am 8 months pregnant after several years of trying and 4 miscarriages and there are still days that I wonder what the hell I’m doing. I wish you all the best!

    12. Saro*

      That’s such a stressful time – I’ve been there. Sending you good vibes. I really liked the infertilitybabies sub on reddit. It helps to be with others in the same boat.

    13. Soupspoon McGee*

      Oh, I hope this pregnancy goes well for you! My sister had several miscarriages before having two wonderful babies, so I understand how devastating they are, and how anxious you must feel. To cheer her up, I did Mr. Bean impressions for an entire afternoon, so I send you my best Mr. Bean.

    14. Marzipan*

      Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all the kind words, personal stories, encouragement, congratulations, Mr Bean impressions and, errrrm, Turkish Delight/poo facts. I appreciate them all : – )

    15. FelineFine*

      My fingers and toes are crossed for you. I have been in your situation as well (miscarriage, fertility treatments) and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  4. Maybe Tomorrow*

    If your child was smacked upside the back of the head, while at school, by the school custodian, what would you do? Would you have gone to the Superintendent about it? The 9 yr old was very upset and when she smacked me as hard as she said the custodian did, it hurt.

    More info: 9 yr old girl was “shhh’ing” another, louder child during a lock down drill. The other child was talking and whispering but was not touched. The 9 yr old was spoken to at home about the importance of being quiet during the drill. (4th grade for those that don’t know)

      1. ginger ale for all*

        Did the custodian apologize to you and your daughter? What outcome are you hoping for? Fired, reprimanded or something else? Figure out what outcome you want first. It isn’t okay that it happened but there are a variety of possible outcomes.

      2. Artemesia*

        I would want this on record; have you spoken to the principal? Since the child is not injured I would not go to the superintendent but I would want it on record. School personnel, but particularly non classroom personnel, should not be hitting kids.

    1. katamia*

      I don’t think the superintendent would be my first stop–I’d probably go to the principal first. But that is SO not okay, and if the principal didn’t take it seriously, I would absolutely escalate it.

      1. danr*

        Yes, talk to the principal first. Also, are you in a state where school personnel are allowed to hit kids? It makes a big difference if you are. I would still raise the problem that the custodian should not be doing this. I would also talk to your daughter about not ‘shushing’ others during a drill. Let the talkers take the punishment and she should stay alert for directions. And yes, it isn’t fair, but your daughter was the last one making noise.

        1. Maybe Tomorrow*

          Oh, I talked to her about the noise. She was in the wrong for that and we addressed it.

          No, we are not in a state where hitting is allowed. I did talk to the principal and she said that she has had adults lose it on kids over the lock down drills. She also seemed to blow it off as not a big deal.

          The problem with those drills is the fact that its NOT life or death at that time. The kids arent fully grasping that. If it WAS a real situation, those kids still wouldnt be quiet. They’d be crying, whimpering, asking for mom.

          I have some opinions on the way schools handle lock downs and leave our kids as sitting ducks in a classroom, but that’s not for this thread.

          1. Myrin*

            I’m completely horrified that apparently there are states where hitting students is allowed? (I’m not in the US.) My god. It’s seen as a completely archaic thing (like, when children learn about how school was in the past, teachers being allowed to hit pupils is one of the examples used to show how very different stuff was only half a century ago) and wouldn’t fly here at all and rightly so, I believe. Many parents here tend to make a fuss about all kind of stupid things and I often wish the school personnel were more assertive about making them shut up but really, smacking a child upside the head is not one of these situations! It’s not okay in any way and I’m really uncomfortable with the principal’s reaction here.

            1. fposte*

              There are actually bits in the legislature about the allowable size of the paddles for hitting kids with. (Black kids are also apparently twice as likely to be paddled as white or Latino kids.)

              1. Myrin*

                THAT IS HORRIFYING OMG! (Both these rules in general as well as the racism. Although I’m only surprised by one and it is sadly not the racism.)

                1. Tech*

                  It’s not racism. It’s culture. Black and latino parents are also more likely to use corporal punishment.

                2. Anna*

                  Well, no, Tech. That isn’t entirely true. What fposte is saying is due more to racism than to culture, kids who are black are more likely to be given corporal punishment, suspended, or kicked out of school entirely. That’s systemic racism.

              2. Natalie*

                Which makes me wonder – even in a state where corporal punishment is allowed, would smacking a kid in the head be okay? From the link it sounds like spanking is the only allowed corporal punishment.

                1. beefy*

                  Corporal punishment was allowed where I went to school (15+ years ago), and a permission form had to be filed in the office. It was only allowed in lieu of specific other punishments, such as detention or suspension. A wooden paddle was used, and other adult witnesses were required. I seriously, seriously doubt there is any district anywhere with a policy that allows a custodian to dispense “justice” via a slap to the head.

                2. Jinx*

                  I’m 23, and I went to an elementary school where paddling was allowed. But paddling only happened in the principal’s office, not by the individual teachers. It never happened to me, so I can’t provide specifics.

                3. Kassy*

                  In Missouri, it’s not. In the physical abuse criteria, there is an exception for “spanking administered in a reasonable manner.” Definitely not smacking in the head.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Do not even get me started on this. I had a teacher who abused me to the point where all the other kids spent the rest of my school career abusing me. Part of her thing was to piss me off so she could have an excuse to get me in trouble, which included paddling. She had an accomplice–the school librarian. I never hated two people as much as I did them.

              If I’m lucky enough to have a kid (sigh) I will NEVER send them to a school where any paddling takes place. And if it does, heads will roll.

              1. Nina*

                (hugs to Elizabeth) Sorry you had to go through that. Those people sound vile.

                I’m surprised that so many schools still allow any kind of physical punishment, regardless of the region.

                My pre-K principal (20+ years ago) was big on spankings and she doled them out herself. I knew one kid who practically got them daily. My friend and I got spanked once for talking when the teacher was talking. Not a pleasant experience. Needless to say, my parents were pissed.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                I felt tears coming up in my heart while reading this, Elizabeth. I am so sorry this happened to you.

              3. Elizabeth West*

                Thanks. The worst was that she made it okay for the other kids to bully me, and it never stopped after that.

                I’m against spanking in general, but I firmly believe that if anyone is going to do it, it should be the kid’s parents and NOT anybody else. You should not be allowed to hit other people’s kids. If you need to grab their arm to pull them out of danger or something, then fine, and I hate that you can’t hug kids now without being called a molester. But hitting is OUT.

                1. Artemesia*

                  Agreed. And if hitting is ever appropriate it is for kids not yet school age. A swat may communicate to a 2 year old prone to running into traffic but by the time kids are school age, there are more effective forms of discipline.

          2. fposte*

            Do you know what you’d like her to do? What is it that she said she was doing to do?

            My reaction is pretty much “Holy crap,” so it would take me a minute to figure out the answers to those questions myself. I’m guessing I’d like to be promised at least that the custodian would get a stern reprimand and told not to physically chastise kids ever again. If I wasn’t assured of at least that, I might follow up with a cool letter asking for it. (I’m also wild-eyed at the irony of smacking a kid during a safety drill. “We want to make sure bad things don’t happen to your kids! Except when we’re the bad things!”)

            1. Observer*

              (I’m also wild-eyed at the irony of smacking a kid during a safety drill. “We want to make sure bad things don’t happen to your kids! Except when we’re the bad things!”)

              Yes, that hit me, too. It makes it so much worse.

          3. danr*

            Then the principal should remind his custodian of proper behavior. And I think you can go up the line to the superintendent now.

          4. Florida*

            Based on this new information that you talked to principal and she thought it was no big deal, I would talk to the superintendent.
            Yes these drills are important, but unless the child’s life is in danger (i.e. Kid about to run into traffic and janitor grabs him), there is no reason for the janitor to touch your child.
            As important as the drill is, part of the reason to have drills is to learn from mistakes. Hitting a student is not a way to teach them how to correct a mistake.

          5. Observer*

            It needs to up the chain. The fact that other kids were also talking is, in some ways, the least of it. The fact is he not only hit her, he hit her hard and in the head. And the principal thinks that adults losing it on kids is EVER ok, much less in a lock down drill where the whole idea is to keep CALM!!

            1. catsAreCool*

              Yeah. No one should be hitting your daughter on the head. Period. And the adults shouldn’t be freaking out over a drill!

            1. Florida*

              I’m not opposed to going to the media, but think it through before you do that. There will be consequences to you. Everyone will know what happened. Occasionally the media will do the story without using her name or your name (your name is just as important as her name because the other parents will put it together). It’s not necessarily bad if everyone knows, but I’d encourage you to think about it before you do it.

              Also, start documenting everything you say to the principal, teacher, etc. Should you decide to contact a lawyer, you will be glad you did.

              Is there a way to file a formal complaint against the principal? It’s bad enough the janitor did this, but the principal’s reaction is worse.

              1. Maybe Tomorrow*

                I work for the district and really do not want the media involved. I’d be fired.

                There are multiple issues with this particular school and the principal is an A+Schmoozer. I’ve had issues with her lack of handling other issues in the past with my oldest. I will go chat with the Superintendent and a board member.

                The custodian did apologize to my daughter, but I wasnt there when she did it…so I have no way of knowing if it was genuine or one of those bitchy non-apologies.

              2. Anon for this*

                Co-sign on the media issue.

                I had a former coworker who visited her daughter at school one day and some kid made a crack about what the woman was wearing. So she smacked the kid on the head, in full view of the students, faculty, etc. Not only was she arrested, but it made the crime blotter.

          6. Ultraviolet*

            She has had adults lose it on kids over lock down drills? What the hell is happening at that school? What?

            Any chance of transferring your kid out of this crazy place?

          7. Kassy*

            I wrote this below, but call your state’s child abuse/neglect hotline. By blowing it off, there’s a solid chance the principal is in violation of the law as well as the custodian.

    2. Don't hit other people*

      Talk to the principal. If you don’t feel like it’s handled well, I would call the police. What the janitor did is called battery on a minor. This person does not need to be working in a facility with children.

      Start with the principal. Visit the principal in person if you can. The principal will take that more seriously than a phone call or email.

      1. Allison Mary*

        Uh, yeah, +1 to calling the police. This is totally assault in my mind. I posted a few weeks ago on consensual touch and how big of a deal it is to me – this scenario with the custodian and your child is absolutely horrifying to me.

        I would call the police if someone hit me, and I would definitely call the police if someone hit my child.

        This is why, when I’m around other people’s kids, I literally will not lay a finger on them for any reason without asking, “is it okay for me to touch?” and getting a clear affirmative response.

        1. Florida*

          It’s easy to say, “It’s just a slap” so we don’t need to call the police. But the janitor didn’t say, “She’s just trying to get the other girl to be quiet,” before he slapped her.
          In other words, don’t minimize his actions. He didn’t minimize your daughter’s actions.

          1. Maybe Tomorrow*

            The janitor and principal are both women.

            The janitor apologized to my daughter but I was not present when it happened.

            1. Allison Mary*

              Hmm, well, that’s potentially good, I guess? But like you said, hard to know if it was sincere. Honestly, if it were me, I would be needing a HUGE and very sincere apology to me from the custodian, for violating my child’s physical boundaries.

              Alison often talks about how there are times when a manager needs to have a very serious conversation with an employee regarding a highly inappropriate action committed by the employee. She’s talked about how, in that situation, the manager needs to pay close attention to the employee’s attitude, looking for signs of deep remorse and mortification – which would indicate an awareness on the employee’s part that the action in question was totally inappropriate, and that this is a very serious matter.

              Now, of course this is not a manager-employee situation, but if I were in your shoes, I’d be looking to have that very same serious conversation with the custodian. I’d be furious, and while I’d keep my demeanor calm and “professional” (because I think that’s always good to do, no matter the situation), I would be looking for a very sincere apology from the custodian to myself. I’d be looking for signs that the custodian clearly understands how inappropriate her action was, and I’d be expecting clear signs of deep mortification and humility. If in our conversation I got anything short of that, if I got defensiveness and rationalization of her actions instead of deep and obvious regret — I’d be promptly going to the police afterwards.

              Of course that’s my own individual response to the condensed story as you’ve shared it with us, and perhaps there are facts I’m missing that might lessen the need for the assertive actions I’ve described above… but based on what you’ve described so far, the above would be my response.

            2. Observer*

              I don’t really think it makes a difference if you were there, or if the apology was sincere. The only thing that matters, somewhat, is something that would not likely come through in an apology to the kid she slapped. That is, does she realize that what she did was a MAJOR, FIRING LEVEL NO NO?

              I’d still take it up the chain, even if I knew that she “got it”, because the principal is a horror show. I honestly would not trust her to keep the kids from being abused, nor to keep them safe, to the extent practical.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am saying this in the context of looking for an inroad, because for some insane reason hitting does not stand alone. With this in mind, my suggestion is that if there is supposed to be quiet then the custodian risked the sound of the slap being heard. Additionally, he had no way of knowing if the child would cry out and give away their location by the loud cry. (It is sad to have to think along these lines because the primary point cannot be heard.)

      I would argue that the custodian’s actions put the whole group of children at greater risk.

      Furthermore if the principle knows that adults become stressed in these situations, then he should be providing them with guidance on how to manage that stress. What has he done so far to coach adults away from hitting the children? Inquiring minds want to know.

    4. Yetanotherjennifer*

      This is so very inappropriate! Your poor kid! Yes, keep working your way up. The principal is a disappointment; hopefully the superintendent will know better. Downplaying the situation is not how you diffuse this sort of thing. Also, call the police and ask if this is a situation where you can press charges. Not that I’m saying you should, but it’s good knowledge to have. The custodian could be in a world of trouble for assaulting a student. Which may be why the principal downplayed it. A lawsuit may also be an option. Again, not suggesting it, but the school is definitely more aware of your options than you are so get yourself educated. Good luck!

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Oh, and the fact your daughter was breaking a rule is absolutely not the issue here. His reaction was entirely inappropriate and extreme. The custodian is not a trained educator, nor a designated disciplinarian (like say an assistant principal).

    5. misspiggy*

      I’m with those saying consult a lawyer. This wasn’t laying hands on a violent kid to restrain them; it wasn’t organised and ordered corporal punishment, repugnant though that would be; it was straight up assault, to a very vulnerable area of the body. An apology to the child, however sincere, doesn’t cut it.

    6. Anno today*

      I’m in a state where they do hit kids as discipline, and I work in the area of public school law. Even in my state, that hits kids, what happened to your child would be considered child abuse, and it is highly likely that the custodian would be terminated. Call your state’s child abuse hotline. That is what the principal should have done.

    7. Kassy*

      This may sound drastic, but if the school refuses to handle it, call your state’s child abuse hotline. If you reported it to the principal and they didn’t do this, they are actually in violation of the law as well as they are a mandated reporter.

      As others have stated, spanking is one thing, but hitting in the head is another entirely. Plus, spanking should be reserved for more serious infractions than your child committed, if it’s allowed at all. It doesn’t sound like the situation had escalated to that point, so unless there’s WAY more to the situation than was reported to you, it was WAY out of line.

      1. Kassy*

        Edit because the principal being in violation of the law herself depends on the state you are in. All I can say is that it would be illegal in Missouri for her to hear that and not report it.

  5. edj3*

    Anyone had sinus surgery to open up the airways so the sinuses can get enough oxygen?

    Just had it yesterday (Friday) and wondering how painful the irrigations are likely to be. I have to start those tomorrow and I’m dreading the process to be honest.

    1. fposte*

      I saw your mention, and I hope you’re healing. No info on the irrigations, I’m afraid, but in my experience generally, water/saline solution is pretty low impact on wounds, incision, and damage, so I’m hoping that will be true for you.

      1. edj3*

        Thank you–I can use saline spray too but must irrigate 3x a day. I think it will feel horribly good if that makes any sense.

    2. Florida*

      I’ve had two sinus surgeries, one to open irrigation. I usually refer to it as a roto-rooter job. That one was 20 years ago so the methods have probably changed.
      Did they packed your sinuses? I remember that being excruciatingly painful when they removed that. But it might be different than what you have.
      I had a different sinus surgery where I couldn’t blow my nose for a week. I used saline about five times a day which is the only thing that made that week bearable.
      Best wishes to you. There’s nothing fun about sinus problems.

      1. edj3*

        I called it roto-rooter too! I’m not sure my surgeon appreciated that, he was all “camera this, CT scans that, small flexible tool to open up the airways.” But it’s basically roto-rootering out my sinuses.

        The stuff they use now for packing is bio-degradable so the irrigations are supposed to help it come out when it’s time–although I do have an appointment next week where my doctor’s already told me he’ll numb my nose and then irrigate it like crazy. I told him that didn’t sound like fun at all and he agreed.

    3. LCL*

      I had it years ago. Irrigation is painless and feels good. As long as you don’t use chlorinated water. The first time you do it, it is very disconcerting because it seems so unnatural. But it does not hurt.
      Getting the packing removed didn’t hurt. It was more an intense feeling of itching/tickling must sneeze.

    4. Mutt*

      Irrigation doesn’t hurt at all! I had that surgery years ago and continue to use sinus rinse on a daily/weekly basis to avoid sinus infections and allergies – it works like a dream and you don’t have to take any medication!

      Breathe out they your mouth when you’re irrigating. Don’t ever irrigate when your sinuses are fully closed, or your ears will hurt. You’ll feel so clean after irrigation, and it will smell like you’re at the ocean! Good luck with everything!!

  6. Anon for this*

    Help! I need some gift ideas for my BF (male, early 40s) who is notoriously difficult to buy for. Interests: cooking, literature/books, gaming (star citizen is his fav), sports (biking, tennis, squash), politics …

    This should be easy right, lots of interests?! He has specified not to get him: “stuff”, sports equipment, kitchen supplies, clothes, alcohol or gift certificates.

    Ideas? My budget is around $50-75. (Also I think next year I’ll suggest we do something together instead of present exchange, but it’s about too late to suggest that now.)

    1. Marzipan*

      Can you get him an ‘experience’, like maybe a cookery workshop focusing on one specific cuisine/technique, or something like that?

      1. blue_eyes*

        +1. My dad loves mixing drinks so one year I bought him a cocktail mixing workshop at a famous local restaurant.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Last year I got my brother the New York Times Grilling Cookbook – he & his fiancee love it (I also got him various sauces that were for grilling).

    2. newreader*

      I agree with the suggestion for some type of experience. Tickets to a sporting event or a weekend away at a location he enjoys.

    3. Trixie*

      Larger monitor for gaming? Or can one rent out a theatre to game on big screen? I like the “experience” angle.

    4. Evie*

      Nth’ing the experience idea – maybe a voucher for circus/acrobatic type training? See if there’s a knife or axe throwing range in your area and do a lesson? (Have done axe throwing as a min competition type session with a group of friends then joined the local league so can totally recommend for fun). Does he like animals? A ‘behind the scenes’ experience at the local zoo? Our city zoo had a thing apparently where you can see the animals from above by climbing ropes and stuff in the canopies above the exhibits. Word lovers dictionary? The lates book by a fave author? Gaming related clothing eg a jumper with fave game character/logo or character costume piece? (If he can wear it it’s not ‘stuff’).

    5. ginger ale for all*

      After the sheets discussion, I got my bf flannel sheets in a masculine plaid. He usually gets the cheapest sheets he can find. The last ones started as black and white and are now navy and light blue and the wall where his bed was pushed up against is blue from the ink bleeding. I also got him a nice blue blanket. It’s not an exact match but the colors kind of chime in with one another. So if he cheaps out on bed linens, look over the bed and bath area in a local store. Also, I found out here that you are supposed to replace your pillows every three years or so. I think it will be both practical and pampering for my bf.

    6. lonepear*

      I like the cooking workshop idea others have suggested. Some other thoughts: A gift certificate for a sports massage? Private lesson from a sports pro? Tickets to a tasting or other special event at a restaurant? Tickets to a convention or expo related to one of his interests?

    7. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Give a donation in his name to Child’s Play. It’s a charity promoted by the Penny Arcade gamer community. If he’s a gamer, he probably knows about them already and will be thrilled.

    8. Grapey*

      You say ‘gamer’ – are board games included? If so consider getting an expansion for a favorite game.

    9. LD*

      Subscription to Cook’s Illustrated and their online cooking school videos and/or their cookbooks? Interesting ingredients from a gourmet shop (rubs, spices, sauces, etc.) and instructions for how to use them? A “gift certificate” for your help to enjoy eating and then cleaning up and maybe a bottle of wine to share with his latest cooking experiment? Cookbooks for his favorites?

  7. DaintyPaint*

    Does anyone have any tips on how to store a wedding dress BEFORE the wedding? I’ll be picking up my wedding dress when I fly home for Christmas and I still need to figure out how to store it until the big day in April. It’s not a giant pouffy/meringue concoction so would it be OK in just a wardrobe in its travel bag or should I take more precautions?

    1. JulieB*

      I did what the bridal shop told me to do, which was this (mine was slightly poofy and had been steamed). I emptied an extra closet, had a white sheet laid down on the floor, hung the dress making sure nothing was squished against the wall, and then had white sheets dropped on top of it covering it completely to protect it from dust.

    2. Kat M2*

      Mine was a giant, poofy, not meringue (red and white)-it was just fine in my closet. I picked it up about a year before my wedding (long engagement).

    3. blackcat*

      Depends on the fabric. Mine was chiffon & silk (and no poof). It got stored in the bag it came in (including when it lived with the seamstress). It was totally fine.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      It should be fine hanging in the closet assuming your closet is dry and not full of moths or drips blood from the walls or anything. I did the same (picked up my dress at Christmas, married in april) and it was fine. Just double check when it’s hung that it’s properly hung up (using the sewn in straps, if necessary) and not folded weirdly, and it will be fine. Congrats!

    5. Evie*

      I guess also remember to check with the seamstress if she has any tips about storing it, and checking on the dress at least a couple of weeks out from the wedding so it can be stream cleaned/ attended to etc if it has gotten a little crushed or whatever. Also if you are worried about moths there are many non-mothball related remedies to deter them, including ha if soaps and lavander (or at least that’s what we do in our house), and I’m sure the Internet has more suggestions.

    6. Hypnotist Collector*

      Well – with some caveats depending on the fabric – It should be fine short-term, but eventually you’ll want an archival storage box (a large one made for textiles) to keep it from yellowing or fading unevenly, and moisture/ bugs. I’m sure it’s beautiful!

    7. DaintyPaint*

      Thank you everyone for your advice! I’m fortunate that my fiancé (whom I live and share a wardrobe with) isn’t the snooping kind so I don’t have to worry about him sneaking a peek :)

      I’ll check in with the seamstress when I pick it up for her tips but you’ve put my mind at ease that hanging it (responsibly) in a wardrobe won’t cause irreparable damage.

  8. nep*

    Anyone else continue to receive automated calls from the healthcare marketplace, even though already enrolled in a plan by the 15 December deadline? I keep thinking something fell through the cracks.

      1. nep*

        With another automated phonecall, yes.
        I called the 800 number today to ask that the freaking calls be stopped. We’ll see whether it works.

    1. Paige Turner*

      I have private insurance through work now and I got a call from them. I don’t think it means anything (like they somehow messed up your coverage), and you can always block the number if you’d prefer.

  9. Anonyby*

    Oh my gosh, look at that BELLEH!! I just want to bury my face in the floof! (She is totally adorable btw.)

    And last week was a good break. Two days in Disneyland, followed by an evening-through-next-day bachlorette party for a friend. The only issues are that my feet and energy levels have been slow to recover. lol

    1. StillHealing*

      Me too! I just want to get down of the floor under the Christmas Tree with her. (o:

      Sounds like it was quite the party!

      1. Anonyby*

        The party was a lot of fun, even if it’s not my normal party thing (honestly, the bachlor’s party was closer to what I prefer in parties!). Dinner downtown, wandering around until we found a bar that people liked… While doing a scavenger hunt on our phones (my favorite item was the special ops to get a cigar to the groom!) and not letting the bride talk about the wedding or her groom. Then it was a sleepover, followed by brunch and going to an escape room. (The group of us were locked in a room together with a puzzle, and we had one hour to solve the puzzle to unlock the door to “escape”.) The escape room was my favorite part. :)

  10. Traveler*

    Who is still Christmas shopping? Usually I’m earlier than this, but I’m in the midst of a scramble. I know what I want to get everyone, but I’m paying the price for shopping late with all the rush delivery fees. Eesh.

    1. Special Snowflake*

      I am still working on my yankee swap gift (above) but that is because I finally got the parameters this morning.I feel you on the rush shipping. Being ahead of the game doesn’t always help either- I ordered something on 12/9 that still hasn’t arrived at its destination.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We just got back from buying my boyfriend’s stepmother’s gifts– last thing on the list. I have been so overwhelmed with work that I haven’t had time or energy to do it. It was a very pleasant experience, mostly because we have a wonderful shopping center within walking distance. No driving = no fighting for parking = much less stress. We walked into this one store, my bf saw the line and freaked out, I was like, “Whatever, we’re here.” Found something, stood in line for maaaaaybe 10 minutes, and while we were doing so, a store employee poured samples of sparkling pomegranate juice.

      I still kind of need to get my bf some gloves (I got us a trip to a swanky hotel as our Chrismukkah gift), but again– walking distance, no worries.

      1. Traveler*

        Sparkling pomegranate juice sounds lovely! As does walking to the shopping center. I wish that were an option right now. I agree that would make it much more pleasant.

    3. newreader*

      I was hoping to complete a bunch of shopping today, but the small city where I shop is having an lp gas issue and a bunch of stores are closed. I was able to hit a few stores early before the issue began. Hopefully I can finish the bulk of the shopping tomorrow.

    4. Sherm*

      Still shopping here. And I really wanted to get done early — it just hasn’t worked out! A good tip I learned from my retail days is that, even on days when it gets insanely crowded, if you show up early it is still sedate. I went to Target today at 9:30 am and had my choice of checkout lanes without a wait.

      1. Traveler*

        Yes. I am with you – I always go the moment the store opens. The only people with me in there then are the employees and a few other early birds. Its the best!

    5. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      Just started today. Not unusual for me but even my kids aren’t coming up with a wish-list so I’m really struggling. Hubs and two kids came along with me to the mall today which is definitely a first and we had fun shopping for his family. But I will really have to get down to it on Monday.

    6. Natalie*

      Haven’t even started. I’ve been overwhelmed at work and school, so I just acknowledged to myself that I was going to be paying shipping or paying more since I wasn’t shopping around. C’est la vie.

      On the plus, for me, I finally got my parents to agree to just giving small gifts, so I’m not doing a lot of shopping. And my future in-laws are coming a week after Christmas. Woot!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Me. I have three people left to shop for (oops, four), but limited funds until payday on Dec. 24. Which means I have to get up early, go shop, and then drive for three frigging hours. >:P

    8. VintageLydia USA*

      I’m mostly done but the gift for FIL is backordered until next month and we just figured out what to get to MIL a couple hours ago. I’m also not sure if I’m done with my kid. He’s got a small handful of inexpensive stuff from us, but he also had 4 sets of grandparents and two great aunts that like to spoil him silly so I’m tempted to just leave it at that (and label what we got him from Santa. He’s 3 and he’s not going to know the difference anyway.) I also picked out what to give my best friend but I won’t be seeing her until after the holiday so I’m waiting until then to actually buy it.

    9. Evie*

      I’ve got some more to do. My sister has been slow with getting me her wish list so that’s not all sorted yet. And I have more rellies than usual in town this year (and interconnecting with rellies I don’t always see over this period) so I’m trying to decide how much more buying I should be doing – I’m loosing money over the x-mas period because of non paid leave type stuff and even if I only buy for the kids it’s still 8 more gifts to get, plus possibly brother, extra parentals, aunts and uncles oh my…. Gah.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      Just finished mine last night! Stopped at Dollar Tree on my way home to get some little stocking stuffers for the kids. Had a wrapping marathon today and got everything under the tree, except for 2 or 3 more things that will be delivered next week.

      Wait, no, I’m not done. I opened a box from Toys R Us today and found some stuff in there that I didn’t order, and realized I was missing 2 things that I did order. There was also one thing in there that I did order (a Captain America shield), so I’m pretty sure that someone else and I both ordered the shield, and then we each ordered some different stuff, and the wrong labels got stuck on the boxes. I’m not upset, shit happens. I Googled Toys R Us to find out their hours, and they open tomorrow at 6AM!! Dang!! I’m going to try and be there around 7, and hopefully I can just do a quick exchange and get the hell out of there.

    11. Rana*

      Just finished shopping today. Usually I’m lazy and wait until the last minute, but we’re traveling – with a toddler – this year, so it’s just better for my sanity to have a few days before the chaos begins.

      However I have yet to send out our holiday cards from last year. Yeah…

      1. LD*

        Me, too! Holiday cards are the hardest for us. I don’t know why, but we procrastinate. And I love getting cards from friends and family, so you’d think we’d be more on the ball.

    12. Nina*

      I haven’t even started yet. For one, very little money, and two, I had finals for the past two weeks and I’ve basically been living at the library. I’ll be heading to the mall tomorrow.

    13. Jen RO*

      I am actually just about to go shopping for the final presents! And I am a bit afraid of the crowds, so I am procrastinating…

    14. Elizabeth*

      One of my gifts (really the one piece of the gift that I’m excited about) is still in transit- which is now making me anxious- I just have my future sister-in-law among the “kids” this year and I just want to have everything and be done.
      I also had to do the shopping for my brother who is deployed (Navy) – which was nice (being able to double my budget on my parents worked out well) but also a pain because our dad asks for nothing for weeks and then “caves” and tells us to get him grey t-shirts.

    1. Windchime*

      LOL. Love this part:

      She knows I’m strong
      I can open all the doors and tins
      She could only claw at

    2. GOG11*

      OMG. This is brilliant. I especially love…

      “Thanks for the suggestion
      But I do not need to look for my cat…
      ‘in the clear cool water on a quiet pond’

      Dear pet crematorium
      Why the fuck would my cat be in a pond?!”

    3. Alicia*

      We just had our 19 y/o kitty cremated and I received the call saying to come pick up his ashes. The vet tech was hugely apologetic that there wasn’t a poem to accompany the remains.

      My problem was more so with the undignified container they returned him in (basically a bonbon tin), with a post it note with his name… I’m glad I was spared the horrible poetry.

      1. Windchime*

        Oh I am so sorry about the crummy tin and post it note. I paid a lot (too much) to have OldKitty cremated, but his remains came back in a polished wooden box. They also sent a heart made of out of clay with impressions of his paw prints and his name etched on it. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, since I knew they had taken the paw impressions after he was deceased. But I kept it anyway.

        1. Alicia*

          Oh my gosh, I don’t know how I feel about the post mordem paw print either… I’m glad that wasn’t included. See, I was expecting a nice wooden box like that since my fiance had one from a previous pet, but it was a different vet, so lesson learned I suppose.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      fposte, there are many things for which I love you*. But, right now, I love you for this link, most of all, because I went through something similar with my local pet crematorium.

      * (Seriously, I’m like a major fposte fan-girl). :-)

    5. FelineFine*

      Thank you! We just had to put our beloved cat down and the vet sent a card and a (long) poem about the “rainbow bridge”.

    1. fposte*

      How have I not hear of this?

      “BIG WEEK AT THE OFFICE I JUST WISH SOMEONE WOULD TELL ME WHERE IT WAS”

      1. Artemesia*

        I just came back from a dinner party and our not very self aware roomba had managed to strip the lights off of the sculpture and wrap them around its various twirling parts. I had guarded the tree with lighthouses but didn’t see the potential for disaster with the sculpture lights.

    2. DeLurkee*

      Oh thank you for this! I’ve just laughed for 10 minutes straight after a very bad day. This is going in my bookmarks.

  11. katamia*

    Anyone a medieval European history buff? I never really got European history in school, so my knowledge of it is pretty weak, but I’d like to know more. I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations (authors or specific books), either for general overviews or books on more specific subtopics (e.g., interesting people, women in X region, art/science history, etc.).

    1. Jessica (tc)*

      I was just reading this article about the “Five Favourite Reads for Medievalists,” and I’m considering getting the last one on the list: www[.]medievalists[.]net/2015/12/16/five-favourite-reads-for-medievalists/

      My husband and I are both interested in this, so I’ll have to see what else we’ve read over the years. I just took a course in codicology and paleography, and there are a ton of great Twitter feeds and blogs that show interesting marginalia and things like that in books, too.

    2. Myrin*

      Unf. I’m a medievalist (germanist with a focus on the medieval period) but I can only recommend books written in German. You don’t happen to know German, do you?

      Other than that, don’t ask me to talk about manuscripts because I am completely ready to talk your ear off.

      1. katamia*

        Oh, that’s cool! Unfortunately, I don’t read German–I know a few words, but definitely not enough to read any kind of remotely complex texts.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      As part of my degree I’m studying a course called Medieval to Modern (1400-1900) with the Open University. So far we’ve done France, England & Burgundy and the European Reformation. It’s quite interesting, I know on Amazon UK you can get the coursebooks 2nd hand, not sure about anywhere else but it might be worth a try? Or there is somesort of FB group as well. Since it’s a coursebook, it has questions, maps, discussions etc based around the reading. The two books that are required for this course are: PG Wallace The Long European Reformation and R Gibbons Exploring History 1400-1900: An Anthology of Primary Sources (be warned, they’re both a bit dry, esp the Wallace one).

      1. Marzipan*

        Ooh, are you doing an OU degree, too? I’m on my last module – no history, though; I’ve done an Open Degree mashing up Creative Writing and Design and Innovation. How are you finding it?

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          @ marzipan I’m doing Humanities (I switched a while ago from English Lang & Lit) and on my second last module (finally!). I like it as I never got on with “normal” uni, although there have been some real changes in the past 5 years since I started studying (time restrictions for one thing) and the FB groups are usually helpful but there are some very…particular people who complain about various things (one student earlier this week said that she was fuming that her tutor wouldn’t remark her assignment as she had only sent in an earlier draft of 600 words. She got more than a pass! I had not much sympathy with her and said so as where I work half an essay would be a fail).
          You?

          1. Marzipan*

            I’m doing it for fun, really (well, fun in inverted commas) as I already have a degree (although, actually, last week I had a long work-related conversation with a colleague where I channelled a whole load of concepts from the design modules into talking about why the local council do bin collections all wrong, so it has its uses!)

            I only signed up to the whole degree because I started early enough to get the old, lower (English) fees and thought I might as well! Having read the rules on how they decide if an Open Degree is a BA or a BSc, I’m rather hoping that it might turn out to be a BSc in spite of not being in the least scientific, because that amuses me (and my other degree is a BA). Oh, and I’ve done the whole thing in secret – only one ex-colleague knows I’m doing it, because she was in the same tutor group as me twice. So, it’ll be a surprise for everyone when I finish!

    4. edj3*

      I’ve read The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer and it’s quite good and also not fiction. He wrote another one for Elizabethan England.

    5. Kate R. Pillar*

      Not a buff, but need to recommend one of my favourite podcasts: BBC 4’s “In our time” with Melvin Bragg. He meets weekly with acdemics to discuss one topic for ca. 45 min, and I always learn things I didn’t know I didn’t know ;-)

      Medieval topics for example have been: The Domesday Book, Chivalry, Beowulf, Prester John (I had never heard of him before!), Al-Ghazali (neither had I heard of him…)

      You can access the complete archives as podcats, and the BBC also does separate archives of the show for “History” “Philosophy” etc. – I will link the “History” one in a reply to this post.

      1. katamia*

        Thanks!

        Do you know if they have transcripts? I couldn’t find any, but I don’t spend a lot of time on the BBC’s website.

        1. Kate R. Pillar*

          I subscribe to the show with a podcast app, so not really familiar with the website at all.
          The wikipedia page for “In Our Time” says that there is one published book of transcripts, which points to them not being a regular feature, unfortunately.

          If you have the time, I highly recommend listening to the podcasts though! The invitees always are really passionate and knowledgeable about their topic and the dialogue format really makes a lot of the fascination for me.

          1. katamia*

            Ah, thanks. I have a horrible time paying attention to audio-only stimuli (might be my ADD), so I usually find myself zoning out and missing a lot of information when I try to do podcasts. I might give some a try, though, and I can see if I can get ahold of the transcript book.

            1. Rana*

              I have to do something physical when I listen to get my body to be quiet enough to pay attention. So, knitting, cleaning, that sort of thing. Maybe that would work for you?

              Also, another +1 for Connie Willis.

              1. katamia*

                Thanks for the suggestion, but I’ve tried that before and it doesn’t really work. I don’t know what it is, especially since I’m generally a fairly auditory learner, but I just kind of get lost in my own head with podcasts–I’ll start thinking about something else and the next thing I know I’ve missed half of it.

      2. Dear Liza dear liza*

        +1 for CONNIE Willis’s THE DOOMSDAY BOOK. A time traveler from the near future travels back to medieval times. A fascinating story that I re-read every couple of years.

        1. Algae*

          I read that after “To Say Nothing of the Dog”. I was not expecting the feels from that one. Great books, both of them.

      3. Mephyle*

        Oh yes! I was about to jump in to recommend “In Our Time” too.

        Tip: listen to everything on this podcast; that is, don’t judge by the episode titles and summaries what is going to interest you and what isn’t. I find some of the most unexpected topics becoming my favourite episodes.

    6. zaracat*

      My own interest is in medieval science and technology, including the technology behind medieval art. Buying books can get very expensive, and if you’re still in the “looking around” phase there are many excellent documentaries on YouTube to get you started (but take them with a grain of salt and cross check details if you’re doing any more in-depth research). Plus the Getty Museum has a virtual library from which you can download free PDF versions of a number of art books. Just go to the link below and type “medieval” in the keyword search field.

      http://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/

    7. mander*

      This thread is awesome. I spent six weeks this summer digging a medieval cemetery site, and I felt a bit silly the whole time because my knowledge of the period is pretty basic. I mean, I can dig up the monks and record them properly, but I didn’t have much insight into their beliefs or anything.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh that sounds cool. I learned how to dress down the edges of a pit on an archaeology class trip to Kampsville, IL. I found a stone tool while doing it, too. :) It was in the plow zone, though, so not particularly important.

        1. Mander*

          I work in commercial archaeology. Usually we just dig up the bits of Roman London that happen to be under a new building, but sometimes you get sent to amazing projects.

      2. Mephyle*

        That sounds so cool, and also: The Domesday Book by Connie Willis recommended above by Kate R. Pillar and others is especially relevant for you.

        1. Kate R. Pillar*

          Chiming in again a little late to say that I really can’t take the credit for recommending Connie Willis ;-)
          The “In Our Time” episode I mentioned is about the original Domesday Book, “a vast survey of the land and property of much of England and Wales completed in 1086” (quotes from the episode guide).
          However, I just downloaded the Connie Willis book from my online library, so thanks to all who suggested it!

    8. LizzyB*

      Nancy Goldstone has three biographies I really liked. The Maid and the Queen is about both Joan of Arc and Yolande of Aragon. The Four Queens is about four sisters who became queens of four European nations. The last one is called The Lady Queen or something similar and is about Joanna of Sicily. Another writer whose biographies I enjoy is Allison Weir. She has several about the Tudors, which may be a little late for you, but also at least one about the Princes in the Tower and one about Katherine Swynford.

    9. asteramella*

      Beyond books, check out primary sources! There are lots of digitized manuscripts online now, plus many translations are in the public domain.

    10. Nicole*

      Alison Weir has some interesting biographies, particularly of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella of France.

      I’ve just read Michael Pye’s The Edge of the World, about the influence of the North Sea on the UK/parts of Europe from post-Roman empire to early modern period, and loved it; also Sarah Gristwood’s book on the women behind the Wars of the Roses was interesting.

    11. Algae*

      Alison Weir is mostly known for her Tudor histories, but she’s also written about Elizabeth of York and Isabella of France and can offer some neat insights in medieval noblewoman’s lives.

  12. azvlr*

    I wrote in almost a year ago asking for advice on whether to allow my son to go on a family cruise because he was doing so poorly in school. I did allow him to go, and we had a great time.

    Fast forward: He graduated from high school, and is now in college at our local community college. He has a job he takes pride in, has moved out on his own, socialized normally now (dates, Halloween party, a member of two clubs at school). His writing has blossomed and, as a result of his classes, he has a clear vision of what he wants to do with his life.

    I think if I had not allowed him to go, it would have put a dent in our relationship and things may have taken a very different turn for him. Thank you all for the great advice!

    1. Myrin*

      I remember this and think I even replied to it! I’m so very glad to hear you had a great time and everything had such a wonderful outcome. How very delightful! :D

    2. Observer*

      I’m so glad things are going well. I’m sure you are right that letting him go was the right move here.

    3. Alma*

      I remember! The hardest thing for me to do is to have the foresight (bwaaahaaahaa!) to make decisions for the long run. I am so happy for you, and for your son.

  13. The Other Dawn*

    A couple weeks ago I asked about sending Christmas cards even though I don’t get many in return. Well, after much stressing about it and feeling like a terriblr person for not sending them, I decided to send to only the immediate family plus my favorite cousin. What I think is interesting is that I received some cards; however, none were from those I sent a card to. I got one in return from my favorite cousin but she had already bought it before I sent mine. Not a single one from any other family member, and none from friends that I’m actively in touch with. But it was nice to get cards from a few people I figured only sent them to me because I sent one to them.

    In other news, I’ve been sick with a cold since Sunday. Hubby now has it…right after having the stomach bug earlier this week. So it hasn’t been a productive week at all.

    Today I’m sanding the wood floor in the dining room. We ripped up the carpet and then sanded and stained the floor. Needs another coat though so I sanded it this morning and now it’s time to vacuum and tack cloth it, then another coat of stain. Eventually we will tear it up to get down to the original 1700s boards that are under it.

  14. Cath in Canada*

    Our trip to Japan was awesome! Definitely highly recommended – it had been on my list for a while, but if I’d known it was going to be that great, I would have gone sooner instead of waiting for my annual conference to be hosted in Tokyo!

    The temples, gardens, shrines, and mountains were stunning, the food was delicious (my husband says he will never eat sushi in Vancouver again – he’s been ruined for life), the people were really friendly and welcoming, the train system is phenomenal (we bought a two week unrestricted rail pass), and it’s very easy to get around. I know a few people who’d visited several years ago and said it was difficult to navigate, but with a smart phone in your pocket it’s just not a problem any more.

    It’s hard to pick a favourite, but seeing the snow monkeys in hot springs was definitely a highlight for me – something I’ve wanted to see since I was a kid and it was on a David Attenborough programme! The shrines in Nikko, with towering cedars all around you, were also very special.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Not really. We learned a few basics, and had a phrase book/dictionary and a translation app on a phone for the rest. The only issue was when things were written in characters only – I downloaded an app on my phone that was supposed to be able to translate them through the camera, but it didn’t really work.

      2. Rana*

        My experience is that you can communicate with people acceptably – I did a crash Rosetta Stone course before going and managed okay in shopping-level conversations – but that it’s weird being functionally illiterate. (Which was different from my experience in Spanish-speaking countries, where I struggled with the speaking part but could read signs acceptably.)

        1. fposte*

          I felt that in Russia! At least there are some closer analogues there, but even after studying I read like a toddler.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            I could actually read the Russian signs (when we went to Kiev two years ago) a lot better than I could read anything in Japanese! Once you remember that what looks like “pectobah” translates as “restoran” (i.e. restaurant), and combine that with a basic knowledge of the Greek alphabet (thank you maths and science education), you’ve got most of the alphabet figured out, and a lot of the words aren’t too dissimilar from French.

            The Russian washing machine I used on that trip was therefore easier to figure out than the Japanese one I used last month, where I basically hit buttons at random and hoped for the best. I got our clothes clean, but the dryer function eluded me and I just hung them all up to air dry!

            1. Rana*

              Yup. I also can sorta-kinda read Cyrillic, and was able to handle the phonetic kana in Japan… but so many signs were in kanji – the ones that represent words rather than sounds – and those were just impossible to decipher.

    1. Sinjin*

      There’s a wonderful book called “Pretty Good Number One” that you might enjoy. I love Japan, and this book delves into the food and culture in a really delightful way.

      1. irritable vowel*

        Hey, that’s written by someone I know! :)

        To answer the question above about language being a barrier, I found that most of the people I encountered in Tokyo really struggled with conversational English. Even though most learn it in school, the instruction style there is really more about memorization than speaking practice. But everyone tried, and I tried to speak Japanese, and there was a lot of pantomiming, and it was fine.

        1. Sinjin*

          How cool! I really love that book and the author’s sense of wonder (his daughter’s too) about the people, food and culture.

        2. Mephyle*

          I visited Tokyo for the first time in 1986 and for the second time in 2014. I found that in spite of the struggles people have with conversational English (as @irritable vowel mentioned), there had been a striking advance in those 28 years – a lot more of the people who deal with the public (e.g. store clerks and waiters) could speak at least a little English instead of none at all. My efforts in learning a few words of basic Japanese had been a lot more vital for communication the first time than the second.

  15. Windchime*

    This post could be considered triggering by some; please skip past if you feel you may be triggered. Leaving some space.

    “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”: Yay or nay? I always just thought it was a cute, flirty song but I attended a party this weekend with a lot of folks from a younger generation, and they all have a totally different viewpoint of this song–one of the girls called it the “date-rape song”. It’s caused me to now really listen to it and I can totally see it that way. What do you all think? Discuss.

      1. fposte*

        That’s how I read it. I think especially there’s a lot of modern projection onto “Say, what’s in this drink.” I think that’s kind of in line with the contemporary disproportionate fear of date rape drugs in drinks, given that the actual use seems to be extremely rare and that most victims of assault while impaired were impaired on plain old alcohol.

      2. Windchime*

        Thanks, that’s a good link. And that’s how I always used to view the song, too–she really did want to stay, but she was worried about what people would think. I am in my early 50’s, so that’s the generational lens I hear the song through. It was really interesting to hear the younger people talking about it, though–one of the boys made up a lyric that said something like, “If you want to still have a job on Monday”. They were hearing the man’s lyrics as implicit threats, and that the woman was trying to edge her way to the door to get out.

        It was a really interesting conversation.

      3. Sophia in the DMV*

        To me there’s not an indication that she wants to stay except for societal expectations. Yes, it’s a back and forth, but the song is set up for him not to take her concerns or excuses seriously.

        Perhaps, as the writer suggests, read it in the context of the time. But a) there are still pressures she is facing from a beau and may not feel like she could could no herself, so that’s why she uses her family as an excuse, b) no means no – even if she doesn’t use the exact words “I do not want to stay” she is not giving a “yes” either, why does she have to be convinced to stay? The guy should take excuses for what they are and let her leave if she wants to, and c) I still get creeped out by the “what’s in this drink” line

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, that’s one of the big things that bothered the people I was with. I don’t know if there was drugs that got put in peoples’ drinks back in the day when the song was written (or when I was hearing it as a kid). But now that there is such a thing, I think that people are really bothered by that line.

          1. de Pizan*

            Drugs and alcohol have been used like that for a few thousand years though. Spanish fly is one of the oldest known alleged aphrodisiacs (it actually comes from the toxin produced from a beetle and can be fatal), and was in particular was often used like a date rape drug over the years. Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus supposedly would put Spanish fly in people’s foods at her banquets, and then blackmailed them based on what happened next. The Marquis de Sade was sentenced to death for mass poisoning a group of women with it. Bill Cosby joked about using it in the 1960s.

            1. fposte*

              There’s certainly a lot of folklore about it, but even if the report about Livia is true (if it’s via Suetonius, it’s probably not), it’s unlikely that Livia got any actual blackmail material–Spanish fly is basically just going to irritate your penis into an erection and doesn’t do much at all for women. That doesn’t mean people haven’t fed it to other people, of course, or fed something they believed was Spanish fly to other people. But in general history’s best knockout drop for taking advantage of somebody sexually or otherwise was alcohol.

      4. Jessica (tc)*

        I’ve always thought of it in context of the time it was written, so I always got a kick out of it and saw it as flirty back-and-forth and playful banter between two lovers (in the more archaic sense of lovers, although they obviously want to be a more modern sense of the word lovers). The link that you posted, Alison, really sums up how I’ve always felt about it. She doesn’t really want to go, but she has to put up the pretense for the listeners (of the song and of her life, specifically parents, family, friends…)

        I recently started hearing it referred to as “the date rape song,” too, and it surprised me, given the context of the song itself. I mean, there still was a feeling of “oh crap, our reputation is shot” when Wake Up, Little Suzy was sung, and all they did was fall asleep at the drive-in, so they weren’t even considering the implications of actually staying over with the purposes of sex.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          This blog post is the first time I’ve ever heard it referred to that way. I feel the same way as you about it — my favourite is the Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Jordan one. I’ve always thought of it as a cute song in the sense that she is worried about her reputation and he’s trying to convince her to forget all of that. Which is something I think has been done since the beginning of whenever. While he lays it on thick, there doesn’t seem to be any menace in it, he’s not threatening her with anything like “if you leave, we’re through.”

          As for the “hey what’s in this drink?” line — I’ve always taken it as it’s something like a rum and coke and she is surprised by the mix because it’s heavy on the rum and light on the coke. It was written in 1944 after all and rationing was a thing. I’m not saying it’s right, but also something that people have been doing since the beginning of whenever. But, there also isn’t any indication in the song that she guzzles it down. You could just as easily interpret it that she takes a sip, finds it too strong for her taste and then doesn’t have any more.

          The song ends without any real decision made, except that they both agree it’s cold outside/heavy implication that it’s much nicer being warm inside. Did he manage to convince her to stay or not? Did she decide or get drawn into flouting all of society’s conventions and staying? What happened when she stayed? There isn’t any follow up song that continues the story. And since it’s not being chanted by frats outside of sorority houses, I think the actual date rape level on this is low. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the people here have been in a similar situation where they were being pressured or feeling pressured but their boundaries were respected or everyone gave themselves a good shake and snapped out of it or they left before anything happened.

          Now, if you want want to talk about Xmas songs that are really not meant for children, let’s talk about Trim Your Tree, Here Comes Santa’s Pussy, Homo Christmas, Christmas for my Penis, Shouldn’t Have Gotten Him a Gun for Xmas, Santa’s Secret. I could find some more if I browse through my collection and refresh my memory.

      5. Not So NewReader*

        Good link. My parents were from that era so I can see them nodding in agreement with this assessment. Argumentatively, you could say he spiked her drink with booze but she seems to be aware of that.
        In that era becoming pregnant out of wedlock was a huge deal. Women were sent away to have their child and so on. Even if you married, people would still count backward from the day the baby was born. In both my parents’ families sex outside of marriage was a reason for the entire family to ostracize that “offender”.

        My father went to high school, in the late 30s with a person who is medium-famous in the history of WWII. This person got a classmate pregnant. My father always felt badly for the woman because a) the guy abandoned her and b) society abandoned her. He (the bf) went on to become semi-famous, retire to a business he owned and live out his days. Never heard what happened to the woman. I did manage to stumble across the guy’s grave- what are the odds? That cemetery is HUGE.

        A song like this was considered by some people to be radical for its time, you just did not do this stuff. And most certainly, if you loved the woman you would not let her be subjected to life-long scorn by her family and society.

        No, the song is not about date rape, it’s about pre-marital sex.

      6. Anonyby*

        The first version of the song I heard really sounded to me like the woman was playing coy and mentioning societal expectations so that she could later use it to defend her reputation, rather than not wanting to stay.

        That link is awesome, Alison. Thank you! It puts words to my original interpretation of the song better than I ever could.

        Though for me the line “What’s in this drink?” always came across more as finding it intriguing and wanting the recipe, but that could be because I’m a hopeless collector of recipes. Lately the “hurting my pride” line has been bugging me more and more, though.

      7. Graciosa*

        Actually, the history of this song is that Frank Loesser used to perform it with his wife at Hollywood parties (it was the custom at the time for guests to contribute to the entertainment in these circles).

        His wife apparently loved it, and it was *their* song – until he gave in and made it public. I once heard their daughter (?) talking in an interview about how much her mother regretted that he had done this – but there was certainly no implication in their minds that the song was anything more than flirtatious banter between members of an established couple.

    1. it happens*

      The song always squicked me out- she didn’t seem to want to stay to my ears. And seeing the commercial with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett this year made me cringe. But the version with Scott Aukerman and Casey Wilson is skin-crawling and funny.
      http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/a5fg

    2. zaracat*

      Those that think it “isn’t” tend to base their argument on the lyrics and say it was just a sign of the times etc. When I watched the original clip of the song from the film Neptune’s Daughter (link below) I found the argument less compelling. Particularly in the first part (guy convincing woman to stay), it doesn’t look to me as if she is merely looking for plausible deniability – she looks distinctly uncomfortable with some of the grabbing and touching, responding with dirty rather than flirty looks.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MFJ7ie_yGU

      1. fposte*

        But the song isn’t written for the film–that’s an interpretation, same as any other subsequent one.

        1. Windchime*

          Actually, at least one place on the Intranets tells me that the song was written for Neptune’s Daughter. I still can see it both ways, though. It’s so interesting how the view of things change over time.

          1. fposte*

            It was written and premiered in performance in 1944 and the film’s from 1949; it was only sold to MGM the year before that. I think it’s pretty clear.

            That being said, I don’t think there’s an objective truth here–it’s a song by a dead guy about two pretend people, and he could write them as thinking whatever he wanted. So on the one hand you can argue that making the woman happy in the end is as inauthentic as making Katherine happy at the end of The Taming of the Shrew (though it’s fun to watch contemporary directors work with that–the BBC Shakespeare with John Cleese as Petruchio is amazing), but on the other you can argue that interpretations are similar ventriloquism.

            1. Windchime*

              Oh, good to know about the dates of the song. Yeah, I agree with you as far as interpretations go. I did watch the clips from the film and thought the choreography was really cute. And Ricardo Montalban as a young man? Wow!

    3. Sparky*

      I sent Barnes and Noble an e-mail complaining about their choice of a date rape song in their ads. I got back a totally neutral reply.

    4. Noah*

      I have always found the song cute and flirty too. This year was the first time I’ve ever heard it called a date-rape song. I don’t find it offensive and when viewed in historical context it actually seems very liberal. I will continue to listen and enjoy the song, it’s one of the few holiday songs I can actually stand.

    5. Swoop*

      For me it depends who’s singing it and how they’re singing it. If it’s people who sound to be generally similar ages and kinda flirty I’m ok with it, but there are so. many. versions with an old creepy-sounding guy and a young and somewhat desperate-sounding girl.
      I do like the version Jason Manns and Mandy Cohen did last year though, where they switched parts :)

    6. J.B.*

      Rogers and Hammerstein musicals can have some similar ugly messages too (some ways of playing carousel include spousal hitting, South Pacific and racism) and I think if you’re going to play such songs and musicals you have to acknowledge the time and project how hopefully we can do things differently now.

      1. fposte*

        South Pacific is one of those interesting examples of how unprogressive something progressive can look down the line. It’s going to happen to stuff in our era too, of course.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. In it’s time it was a big deal, you just did not discuss this stuff, never mind explore the concepts in a movie/show. We are seeing stuff turn the corner in our life times, too. I remember taking a film study course and the teacher pointed out that South Pacific was one of many things that paved the way for our country to do some self-examination about who we are and what we are about.

  16. overeducated and underemployed*

    Glad this thread is here. I feel…aggressively sad, if that’s a feeling, over this week in the job hunt (wrote about it in the work open thread, won’t get into it here), and I am having a really hard time thinking about anything else, so clearly some distraction is necessary.

    On with the innocuous discussion question. Christmas presents: my husband likes to get “a present to himself” for his birthday and Christmas. I think this is ridiculous. We are divided! Where do you fall on gifts for yourself?

    1. fposte*

      Hard and frequently, if that means pro :-). Is the problem that he keeps choosing items that you would have gotten him so that he’s messing with your gift plans? That I can understand–maybe you can negotiate a pre-Christmas and pre-birthday embargo on the self-gifting and then he gets to buy himself something immediately afterwards.

      1. Overeducated and underemployed*

        That’s one problem! When he mentioned what he wanted to get himself for Christmas I yelled “Nooooooooo!” but now he gets no surprise.

        The other is just that Christmas has always been a financial stress for me, so it feels excessive to add in extra self gifts. Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t grow up with that and it seems against the spirit of the holiday to me. I am more ok with it on birthdays bUT still think it’s weird.

    2. Windchime*

      I’m a single person, so I am a big believer in getting gifts for myself. I usually have my sister wrap them for me. A few years ago, I bought myself an iPad. Brought it straight home and had her wrap it. Even thought I knew what it was (obviously), I still got to experience the fun of being excited to unwrap it.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Ditto. I buy a box of stuff from Amazon for myself with a few books or CDs. I know what’s in it, but it’s not like I have a spouse who has been keenly anticipating my expression of delight upon opening their present on Xmas, either.

        I think that there’s nothing wrong with your husband buying himself a gift. But, he could do you the favour of waiting until after Xmas to get it. If you haven’t gotten him what he wants, it will probably be cheaper in the Boxing Day sales, as well.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      Hope things pick up for you soon!

      I don’t always get a gift for myself, but it does occasionally happen! For example, I went to a “beer and bling” event with some friends last week, where various local independent jewelry makers teamed up with a local brewery for a beer tasting and jewelry sale event. My primary aim was to find Christmas gifts for my sister, mum, and two sisters-in-law, but there were dozens of items I would have loved to buy for myself, too. I ended up finding gifts for all of the people I was buying for, and bought myself a ring in celebration and because it would have been sad to have seen so many things that I loved and to have bought none of them! It’s not a “Christmas present” per se though – I didn’t wrap it up and put it under the tree or anything like that, I just started wearing it the next day. And a few years ago, my husband had been asking me if I’d like a Kindle (we’d just been on holiday with my sister, and I’d been playing with her Kindle), so I assumed he’d buy me one for Christmas – so when he didn’t, I bought one for myself in the Boxing Day sales, as an extra present for myself. But I don’t set out to do it every year or anything like that!

      1. Overeducated and underemployed*

        I understand that temptation – I often see things I want when shopping for others :) i’m talking wrapping it and putting it under the tree though!

        1. fposte*

          I love both wrapping and opening presents, so if I wasn’t so bone-idle lazy I’d totally do this. (I think I have done this in the long-ago past, now that I consider it.)

        1. Jo*

          Same. If I don’t buy things for myself, no one else will. So I do. This year I’m treating myself to a Christmas weekend R&R in another city :)

    4. beefy*

      I usually get myself just one thing, to avoid the temptation to buy myself a bunch of stuff I when I’m shopping for others. This year, it was a laptop as an “early” (October!) present to myself, as it was something I both wanted and needed.

    5. Irish Goodbye*

      I buy and wrap all of my own presents from my husband. When I open them, he is surprised and I got what I wanted. Ideal situation.

      He tells me what he wants and I get it for him and usually a surprise gift too. This year I got him a pink salt slab for cooking salmon. He wont be expecting that.

    6. newreader*

      My husband and I stopped buying each other holiday gifts years ago and just exchange cards on the holidays. Throughout the year we buy ourselves what we want and our gifts to each other are spending time together or picking out projects/things for the house.

      We did exchange gifts in the beginning of our relationship, but after being together for years, we ran out of fresh ideas and were just buying things for the sake of having something to open. So now we use the money we would have spent on gifts to plan a few long weekends away every year and/or do a project around the house.

      1. danr*

        Same here. Plus, we like to joke that a big purchase is the next 5 years gifts in advance. And, of course it isn’t.

      2. Hattie McDoogal*

        My husband and I don’t really do gifts for Christmas either. Some time in the winter we usually put our money together and buy something big that we both want — one year a new bed, one year a TV, last year a PS4, etc. I think this year will be a new freezer (which sounds so adult/boring after last year’s video game system).

    7. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      My husband won a $100 gift card at his company party ( he didn’t attend! ) and just came back with some new tool as a present for himself…and still felt a little sheepish about it. I think it’s cool if the money is there.

    8. LizB*

      I love getting presents for myself — usually something I’ve been wanting for a while, and can’t totally justify buying as an everyday purchase. I got myself a label maker for Chanukah this year, a groupon for a pedicure a few birthdays ago… that kind of little splurge item. I don’t get a lot of physical presents from other people (I live far away from my family, so they generally give me money or tickets/outings/experiences), so it’s nice to get a physical thing I’ll enjoy, even if it wasn’t all wrapped up as a surprise.

    9. Natalie*

      I get it, although I imagine a lot depends on your feelings about your budget and finances in general. My fiancé and I have never been big gift givers to each other, so for Christmas this year we bought ourselves a gift rather than exchanging gifts.

    10. Lady Bug*

      We are both big in buying gifts for ourselves and giving them to the other to wrap up for Christmas. No surprises, but so much simpler.

    11. AnotherFed*

      I don’t usually time it for Christmas (too much else going on), but we both self-gift in my house. It’s typically the sort of thing that’s more expensive than we’d ask for as a gift from someone else (we have no kids and thus significantly more disposable income than friends/family) or something that we’d want to pick out ourselves, like a nice coat or sports gear that has to be sized more precisely than small/medium/large.

    12. VintageLydia USA*

      I do but always on accident. It’s usually clothes, though, so even if I get clothes for Christmas it’s never been the same exact thing I bought myself.

    13. ginger ale for all*

      I ended up getting a jacket for myself while shopping for others. I saw a door buster/ loss leader for less than twenty bucks and I bought it. The jacket I already had still has a year or two of life in it but now I have two. Merry Christmas to me from me as cheaply as possible.

    14. irritable vowel*

      I always get birthday/Christmas gifts for myself! Just today I treated myself to a package of 10 yoga classes at the place I go to (they’re having a holiday special). My husband and I don’t get Christmas gifts for each other, just for birthdays.

    15. Graciosa*

      I think the bigger issue is making sure you and your husband are on the same page regarding budgets and personal spending money. It sounds like the financial stress you mentioned in your supplemental post really gets to you – which means that his self-gifting may be straining your budget.

      If you are able to reach an agreement on what amount may be spent, that may help ease this a bit. You would need to agree on amounts both for yourself and on your spouse as separate items (meaning $X each on gifts for other people and $Y each on self-gifts) because if there’s one pool of money, it’s a lot clearer that he is being fundamentally selfish in spending the limited amount allotted for gifts on himself rather than others.

      That said, I actually think it’s better to be open to some self-gifting and just agree on the amounts. Everyone needs to indulge themselves a little once in a while – I have no problem with that, although I would have a problem with one half of a financial couple screwing up the budget for both of you.

      Final point – you should agree that any self-gifts must be fully returnable and remain untouched with receipts intact until after Christmas. If someone receives a gift that they also bought for themselves, then the self-bought gift can be returned (with due appreciation for the fact that your partner knew you well enough to choose something the recipient would buy for themselves!).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Graciosa’s got some good thoughts right here, OP. My husband and I would go out together to pick out what we each wanted. We’d stop and have lunch out, you know, make a day or afternoon of it. Although not the same as having a surprise present, there were still benefits to this plan.
        We got to spend some time together doing something fun.
        We were involved in each other’s process of selecting an item.
        We did not have to go through another version of the torque wrench story again. (He wanted a torque wrench. I went by myself to buy one. Bad plan. It took three days for him to tell me it was too big for his intended purpose. And the only reason he finally broke down and told me was because I asked several times a day for those three days. The process was exhausting for the both of us.)

        I guess what I am saying is that we kind of learned to laugh at ourselves a little bit. I could not buy a torque wrench for him and he could not pick out new feet for my sewing machine. And that really did not matter. We turned it into an opportunity to make sure the other one got the exact thing they wanted. Not what I had envisioned in a marriage but it worked in the long run.

    16. Ann Furthermore*

      I always get a few things for myself. Like today I took my daughter to Kohl’s so she could pick out a Christmas ornament for her best friend, and there were a couple sweaters too cute to pass up. Plus I got some Kohl’s cash too.

    17. Mando Diao*

      I do a fair amount if Black Friday/cyber Monday shopping for myself. I have the packages shipped to my moms house because my apt doesn’t have package acceptance. Sometimes my mom wraps the boxes and saves them for Xmas. She thinks it’s funny.

  17. Amber Rose*

    I was going to pick up the gift for the secret Santa exchange at the Christmas party tonight. Instead my car was wrecked and I have a killer headache and a sore shoulder. Pro tip: icy roads mean slow the heck down. Zero friction means a mild fender bender turned into an 8 car pinball game with no winners.

    That makes… four years in a row that I’ve had accidents around or on Christmas. December can eat a bag of extremely phallic, flesh colored, Hannah Montana “guitar” candy. (It’s a thing. I have pictures.)

    Dunno what the heck to do about this party gift now. Any ideas, brilliant people of the AAM boards? I have no car and soft tissue damage and… a McD’s and drug store within walking distance.

    1. Marzipan*

      Ouch. Hope you feel better soon.

      If you have cookie ingredients and a big empty jar in the house, maybe cookies in a jar? (i.e. you layer up all the ingredients so they look pretty, and the recipient gets to make cookies!) You can find recipes online, and it’s not particularly fiddly to do if your shoulder is feeling uncomfortable.

    2. Myrin*

      Upon first glance, I first read this as “my car was wrecked by a killer” and I honestly didn’t even know how to react there for a second. Then I re-read and managed to calm down. My god. Still sucks though, I really hope you’ll be better soon!

      1. Schnapps*

        Not to derail the thread, but earlier this week I read a facebook headline as “Why America needs Unicorns!”

        It was actually, “Why America Needs Unions”, but I think the unicorns would work out just as well.

        Sorry to hear about your accident, Amber Rose. And I hope something worked out for your gift.

    3. Kate R. Pillar*

      Bath salts or bubble bath? Fancy hand cream?

      Sorry to hear of your accident! Hope you heal fast!

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’ll be ok. The whiplash sucks but treatment is covered by insurance and I have a rental already.

        That candy is my favorite ridiculous food product.

    4. Sparky*

      Honestly, if you just had a car accident, I think an IOU would be an ok gift to your secret Santa recipient, as long as you do follow through when you have a car, are feeling better, and the roads are safe.

      Feel better soon, I’m glad the accident wasn’t worse!

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Someone further up mentioned a giant thing of toilet paper being a hot gift in Dirty Santa. Maybe a huge stack of dollar knit gloves and socks for the recipient to hand out to the homeless???

    1. fposte*

      Worst: Long and exhausting work week where the cats not only wouldn’t be herded but started hissing.
      Best: Today! Nice lazy day, sun is shining, have been eating cookies, gonna make chili, done with the Christmas shopping. Maybe I’ll look on Etsy for a self-gift like overeducated and underemployed’s husband :-).

    2. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best:
      Being an attorney at last
      Also, Xmas parties galore

      Worst:
      Sleep deprivation
      Also, have amazing boyfriend but he promises things in the future I don’t know will happen, which is a dealbreaker in and of itself (ie. he’s thinking of taking the patent bar, or he’s thinking about going to law school). He’s an amazingly attentive boyfriend but this indecisiveness drives me up the wall. It’s like he finds one excuse after another to show why it’s impossible. (Ie. mom lost her job, his sibling relies on him, he’s exhausted, etc). The patent bar only costs $390 and I’m contemplating using my next paycheck to give the full amt to him, but not sure how he’ll take it. (4 other coworker/mentors have really recommended he take the patent bar b/c he’s super smart). Thoughts?

      1. Ruffingit*

        Don’t give him the money to do it. At this point, he has the intention to do things, but not the desire/motivation. When that is the case with people in my life, I find it helpful to gently say “I’ve heard you talk about many things you’d like to do. You have the intention to do these things, but you don’t have the motivation and that is OK. It would help if you would move on from discussing things you intend to do, but then give yourself excuses not to do. If and when you actually have the motivation to take the patent bar, go to law school, learn to ride a unicycle, apply to be an astronaut, let’s talk about it at that time.”

        It does not make sense to help anyone financially with something they’ve not expressed a genuine desire to do. Thinking of taking the patent bar is not signing up for it and studying for it. It’s one thing if he says to you that he would like to sign up for the patent bar and has actively begun studying and needs your financial help with it, but if he’s not expressed the true willingness and shown the motivation to do it, don’t waste your money. Just because he’s super smart doesn’t mean he’s going to use that intelligence in the ways others might want him to.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “Just because he’s super smart doesn’t mean he’s going to use that intelligence in the ways others might want him to.”

          I have this handwritten on my walls. No, not really. But I was married to a super smart guy and, yep, they do things at their pace and not in the way others envision.

          You could start an account to fund these projects or maybe start a piggy bank at home. If his complaint is no money because of other things, then why not set some aside for holidays and birthdays so he does have the money when he decides what his next thing will be?

      2. Graciosa*

        Paying for this would be a mistake.

        You would be giving him the money in the hope of fixing him (making him finally get moving on a career) which is a HUGE mistake – or possibly out of a bit of misplaced guilt (you’re finally an attorney – congratulations – but you recognize that there are dealbreaker issues in you’re current relationship and can’t help thinking about leaving him behind).

        If he took the money, you would probably feel more like you at least tried to help him and save the relationship – but that’s not a good reason to do it, and it’s not healthy for either of you. He needs to genuinely take responsibility for his own life, and you need to genuinely let him.

        Best wishes –

    3. Wrench Turner*

      Best: I know that once I throw money at it, come spring, my motorcycle will be repaired; we’ll have a 2nd vehicle, I’ll be able to keep it maintained and running dang near forever and life will get +1 more badass.

      Worst: It’s going to cost about $2k to get that thing restored, just slightly less than it’s worth in good working condition. It was a gift from the father in law, who left it neglected in the Florida sun after buying a shiny new bike.

      Careful about the gifts you give and receive. No such thing as a free clutch, er, lunch.

    4. StudentPilot*

      Best: I leave on Thursday for vacation!
      Worst: One of my cats likes to “drown” her toys in the water dish. I don’t want to hide them while we’re away, but I also don’t want to come home to moldy toys. (The cat sitter will take them out but won’t be doing laundry)

    5. Nicole*

      Best: Finished wrapping Christmas presents, had lunch today at our favorite Chinese restaurant which just reopened after renovations had them closed for over six months, attending a friend’s game night tonight which I’m really excited about since we usually host.

      Worst: Dealing with a billing issue for blood work I had in October. Hopefully I really don’t owe over $2000!!!

      What about you, Ruffingit?

    6. Ruffingit*

      WORST: Getting a cold.

      BEST: We moved back into the house yesterday! I posted below about how that ended up happening, but it’s so nice to be out of the hotel.

    7. Liane*

      Best: Going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens tonight with the family! Best Family Friend Ever sent movie gift card as an early holiday present!

      Worst: I could have been on TV talking about the movie,* except for Darth Work Schedule. It was too late to ask for that date & time off.
      *For those who don’t know, one of my hobbies is costuming, including Star Wars

    8. Hellanon*

      Best: I am really pleased with all the reorganizing I’ve been doing around my house since the last (and final; long story) housemate moved out. I have moved furniture, more furniture, drapes and dishes, and re-colonized all the shelves in the fridge & pantry. I feel like I live here again-it’s great.

      Worst: the cat is sick (hyperthyroid) and managing it is driving us both a little nuts.

    9. Overeducated and underemployed*

      Best: I am on vacation until December 31! Looking forward to a party tonight, Christmas cantata at church tomorrow, visiting my family for Christmas, and hosting my sister in law for New Year’s.

      Worst: not knowing if I can or should take a temp job with a former supervisor, but knowing I have to deal with the hiring paperwork and phone calls on either my travel day Monday or when my grandparents are visiting Tuesday morning. I was available all this week but no, it has to be instant AND at the worst time.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      WORST: I realized I’m insanely burned out. I didn’t even know it. But I’m not sleeping, I think about nothing but work, I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. We’re supposed to go on break after Tuesday, or maybe Monday, so at least I’ll have some time off.

      MORE WORST: At 4am on Monday morning, we were woken up by what sounded like fireworks. Nope. According to the cop who knocked on my door 25 minutes later, those pops were gunshots, and someone apparently stood about 5 feet away from our house and shot out a window on a nearby house. They’re pretty sure it’s retaliation, and I’m not scared, it was just REALLY freaky– and it interrupted my already hard-to-get sleep.

      BEST: Best? Hmm. Oh! I finally, FINALLY booked a trip to a very swanky resort I’ve been wanting to go to. And we’re going away for Valentine’s Day, which on one hand is super cheesy but on the other appeals to my latent sense of traditional romance.

    11. blue_eyes*

      Best: Conditional job offer and being home for Christmas.
      Worst: Waiting for official job offer. Getting up at 4am to fly home.

    12. periwinkle*

      Best #1: My husband is finally coming home after being at his company’s HQ for 3 weeks (he’s a remote employee). He’s spent 7 weeks of the last 3 months out there. Yay!

      Worst #1: Aaaaaand he has to go back out there next month – initially it would be 1 week, now it’s 3 weeks again. For the second time he’ll get back just in time for me to leave on a week-long business trip, too.

      Worst #2: Soooooo tired, been spending most of my free time for the last two weeks writing final papers for my two classes. Got one turned in early (got 100% on that so yay me), and the other is now 98% finished. Haven’t been able to just chill out for two weeks. Poor Mr. periwinkle is coming home to a not-very-tidy house.

      Best #2: But I’ve just got that other 2% to write and then no more classes until mid January! Plus my employer gives us a paid week off between the holidays… it’s Netflix binge time! All I need now is a show to watch…

    13. Schnapps*

      BEST: a few weeks ago I got randomly contacted for some contract work because the org had heard really good things about me and want references and for me to come in for an interview (formality, really). Then I didn’t hear anything and it fell off my radar because I was so damn busy at work. This week, I randomly get an email from their HR department with my onboarding forms. I still have to do a reference check and interview (and find a damn cheque for direct deposit), but they’ve already sent me the schedule and I have my pick of when I want to work.

      Side-best: living in the Vancouver area, I’ll often ship stuff to Blaine, WA and pick it up there because shipping to Canada is ridiculously expensive. I zipped down this morning to pick up husband-type’s xmas present: One Goal III (Blackhawks’ story of their most recent 3rd Stanley Cup win). I got gas (much cheaper – a $25 fill after exchange vs a $40+ fill north of the 49th), and headed back. When I got to the Canadian Border Guard and he asked me what I had to bring back. I picked up the book and said, “I came to pick up my husband’s Christmas present!” (Side note: People from the Vancouver area generally have a strong dislike/hate for the Blackhawks). He said, “Blackhawks? Really?” so I said, “I know, right?! It’s about $65!” The guard rolled his eyes, grinned, and said, “Well, I hope he’s a really nice guy, because that’s the only way he’ll get away with being a Blackhawks fan. Go ahead, have a nice day.”

      Worst: The husband-type’s Christmas present is damaged slightly. He probably won’t care, but if I’m going to spend $65 (USD) on a book, I want it pristine. I’ve sent an email to the NHL shop asking them to expedite a new one and I’ll ship the old one back when I pick up the new one. They UPS it so if they send it tomorrow or Monday I should get it no later than Thursday. Oh and the NHL shop doesn’t have a phone number, according to google.

      Best Best: I met the Prime Minister! and he is just as good looking in person as he is on TV.

    14. Mimmy*

      BEST: Saw the new Star Wars movie yesterday afternoon – it was very well done.

      WORST: Slowwwwwly making my way through my Final Paper.

      WORST #2: Had to have a routine blood test repeated because the one last week turned up high potassium. It’s usually a false positive, hence the repeat, but it’s still a bit of a PITA.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Best: I had a nice day today–skipped skating, made some cookies to send to someone in a cookie exchange round robin, actually got them and a card for my friend in Poland mailed (they’ll be late, but whatever), and had a haircut and brow wax today so my hair and brows are on fleek, LOL. I let my stylist actually style me–I usually don’t because I don’t care, but I felt like it today. She was so excited; she loves to style my hair. We made jokes about how I’m her Barbie head, LOL.

      Worst: I don’t know why I let her. There is no one to see my pretty hair except the cat. And it’s too dark in here to take a selfie. *sigh*

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Take one anyway! You have pretty hair! You saw mine the other day and it wasn’t even styled.

    16. VintageLydia USA*

      Worst: Back to back colds! The worst! One had the whole family flat out for an entire week. 3 days after we all recover, Mr. Vintage and I get another almost as bad cold and I got an ear infection on top of it. We had to cancel our normal Friday night get together for the second week in a row and some of those friends will be moving before we can do it again :(

      Best: Despite being sick himself, Mr. Vintage has been the BEST nurse. Because I’m pregnant I can’t take any medicine so since he’s been able to be functional he’s made all the meals and made sure the boy and I have been happy and comfortable. He even gave me one of my Christmas presents early: a heated throw blanket for the couch.

    17. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Worst: my company has a ‘participation’ program where eventually most get invited to become participants and get a tiny portion of the profits. I learned that an admin who has been here longer than I have STILL is not a participant. She is very hardworking and valuable and I’m utterly shocked by that. So is everyone I spoke with. So much at my company is not transparent. One of these days this is going to cause a lot of trouble for them. In he meanwhile, it just ruins morale.

      Best…sorry, NSFW. ;-)

    18. danr*

      BEST: the catalogs seem to have run out. I guess the after Christmas sales catalogs will start on Saturday. Plus we have the first fire of the season tonight and from the smell outside, everyone had the same idea.

      WORST: It’s cold now and then it’s supposed to warm up to around 70 deg F, then colder. I like the four seasons that we usually get.

    19. Jo*

      Best: Escaping town for Christmas at a luxury hotel in a nice, modern, safe, city nearby — even if it’s only for a couple days.

      Worst: Several weeks alone while all my colleagues/friends/roommates are out of town for the holidays.

    20. Stargazer*

      Worst: More “adjusting to being married” discussions with the husband. I learned I need to tone down my negative reactions to things. Thanks, by the way, to everyone who answered my question in last week’s thread about the first year of marriage.

      Best: Hubby and I are making stuffed crust pizza from scratch! Also, my mom is visiting from Florida.

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

        My husband and I would have a lot of “Could you …” discussion about really minor things. “Could you please put your socks in the laundry basket when you take them off?” Etc.

        I have never minimized my husband’s emotional reactions to things and he has never done that to me either. There was actually a really interesting post I saw today about “Men don’t trust women” which talks about how many men minimize the emotional reaction of women in their lives, even women they have grown to trust in all other facets. Maybe worth a read?

  18. Wrench Turner*

    Cleaning the studio today so I can haul the broken down motorcycle inside for the winter. Deciding which paintings to keep, recycle, etc. Nothing more frustrating than a pile of art that isn’t selling.

    1. Ada Lovelace*

      Is anyone in the US going to watch in theaters? I was thinking about it but I don’t want to wait. I’m thinking of just downloading it before going over to my inlaws.

  19. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I’m trying to figure out how to have a better relationship with my mother in law. For awhile I was pretty convinced that she did not like me, even though my husband says she does. I’m usually not afraid of confrontation, but for some reason around her, I just shut down and don’t want to deal with it. She has a habit of giving me gifts that perhaps someone would like, but are not to my taste (e.g. last year’s Christmas was a MiracleGro hydroponic herb garden. I have probably the worst black thumb you’ve even seen and have never expressed an interest in gardening or growing my own herbs. I could not figure out how/why she decided this would be a good gift.)

    She also suffers from resting b*tch face pretty badly. I’m learning to realize that her face doesn’t necessarily match her emotions, and overcoming that, but I’m still struggling to like her.

    How do you change your feelings about someone? Can you decide to “like” someone even if they’re not actively “liking” you?

    1. katamia*

      Can you try viewing her through the best possible lens for awhile? Like “Oh, she’s not great at getting gifts, but she makes the effort to preserve/improve the relationship.” Some people are just really bad at giving gifts (I’m one of them). If gifts are one of your “love languages” and not one of hers, then it might feel more personal than it was intended to be.

      This might not be true (you certainly would be in a better position to know than I), but acting as though it’s true for a little while and putting the best possible spin on her actions could improve your perceptions of her.

      1. Stella Maris*

        Ditto on ‘love languages’, and a pointing finger to the Captain Awkward archives for building better relationships with difficult folks.

        As for the gifts, I’d just say ‘thank you’ and give it to charity, or … make a list for your spouse to give to her. (Specific books, DVDs, gift cards to stores you shop at, gift cards to restaurants you like?)

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          Yeah, I did give her a list this year. I got a little frustrated because she refused to give my husband a list of what she wanted. “Mothers don’t make lists,” she says as if we’re supposed to read her mind about what she’d like. I so wish I could donate to charity or regift. For some reason my husband can’t stand to give away gifts we’ve received even if we have no intention of using them. I’m working on that one too. Mostly, at this point if it’s something I don’t want that he doesn’t want to get rid of, I have him keep it in his “man cave”. If it gets too overrun, maybe he’ll change his mind?

            1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

              My response (to my husband, not to her) was, “Then mothers shouldn’t get gifts either.” I was so frustrated with it that we agreed that I would shop for my parents/sister and that he would shop for his family so I didn’t have to be involved. He was more than a little frustrated with me when I did not commiserate the trouble he was having figuring out what to get her. I told him he should ask for a list… -_-

              1. CoffeeLover*

                My mother would never give me a list because she doesn’t like asking for things or feeling like a burden. She’s also hard to buy for but she really appreciates the things we get here even if we have to convince her not to return them every time (she doesn’t want us to spend money on her). It’s not a malicious thing or a power play. I’m not saying this is the case here, just chipping in to the positive perspectives idea.

    2. Florida*

      Give her benefit of the doubt and assume that her motives are good. If you start to think her intent is bad then you start to see her as a bad person. But if you think her intent is good but her execution isn’t always right, you will both be happier.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Thanks. I’m trying to do that. I think that’s what I’m asking for help with. A few years ago for Christmas, she talked to my husband and asked him if I would like a certain item. He told her in no uncertain terms that it was something I would not want, but she bought it anyway. I ended up returning it. Ever since then, I’ve struggled to believe that her intentions are good and I want to believe that. I tend to think that she gives you the gift that she wants you to have, rather than the gift that you would truly enjoy. I am trying to figure out how to change my perspective.

        1. Florida*

          Lower your expectations. There are definitely people who buy gifts for themselves, not you. (i.e. Someone who buys you a sweater that they would like to wear even though it is the opposite style of you.) If you know from the get-go that buying gifts (or seeing things from another person’s perspective) is not something that this person is going to do, than if you do happen to get a good gift, it’s a bonus. But you aren’t disappointed when it’s not a good gift.
          Maybe try to view as she is not capable of buying gifts for others rather than that she is choosing to buy you a bad gift. Does she do this with everyone? Or does she single you out for this honor?
          Also, don’t feel any guilt about returning it. Even if she asks, you can say, “It was a very nice sweater, but it’s not exactly me. I was able to exchange for a sweater that I love. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the thought and I love this new sweater.” If she tries to make you feel guilty, just agree with what she says. For example:
          MIL: I spent hours trying to find the right sweater for you. You don’t even appreciate it. You just return for something you want.
          YOU: You’re right. (No other discussion or explanation.)
          This absolutely shuts down her guilt trip plan because you agree with her, but you don’t feel guilty.
          (I don’t know if any of this guilt stuff is part of your situation.
          I know it is wwwwaaaayyyy easier for me to say this than to actually do it. It is very hard to do this. It’s something I’m trying to do more of with someone in my life as well.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            There are definitely people who buy gifts for themselves, not you.

            Oh Gawd, yes. You might want to look at the gifts she’s given and see if there’s a pattern. Maybe she really wants to grow herbs hydroponically or something like that. She may not be able to feel she can splurge on the things she wants for herself, so she gets them for other people.

            Your idea of letting him deal with his family and you deal with yours is spot on.

        2. Alma*

          I have found that those tough relationships to a large degree are up to me. My best relationships are ones where we care enough about one another to be together, and not to “win.” So we agree to disagree, and there are certain topics that are off the table. Other relationships “push my buttons” to such an extent that I must stay elsewhere so I have a quiet (introverted) place to calm and regroup. The amount of time each day spent with those relationships will be limited, and it may be a 2 or 3 day visit.

          Perhaps you could give some thought before your visit to stories and experiences you could share with your MIL that will give her better insight into who you are, what you enjoy, where you love to shop, and perhaps, what joys you share. Is there a holiday task the two of you could share, so she might feel more open to responding in kind? (In the South, it would be polishing the silver.) Think of some questions you could ask her about her experiences with making traditions, getting to know family members, and what she likes to do for fun or relaxation. Think about short interchanges – 10 minutes, plus or minus.

          You don’t state whether they are local, or whether you are newly married. I encourage you to let down your guard, if applicable, especially if she intimidates you. Don’t be afraid to screw up (I’ve lost control of the whipped cream dispenser and covered everyone nearby, and we laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe). Ask your MIL to show you how she makes a recipe, or keeps her herbs alive. Controlled vulnerability. You can admit you have a black thumb, and plants tremble in your presence.

          Be prepared. Also, if you are in a one-on-one conversation, if she goes silent, you can ask “you seem deep in thought” or “did I say something?” and really want to know. Take advantage of this time if you are able.

          Best wishes this holiday season. I hope you both can come to know each other as unique individuals, and not “MIL” or “DIL.”

        3. the gold digger*

          Whoa. My MIL was the Queen of Awful Gifts. She and my husband would go through this routine where she would send him various links – ugly sweaters from the National Geographic store, ugly t-shirts from the Smithsonian Store, ugly knick knacks. He would tell her no repeatedly and even would ask, “What about renewing our Cooks Illustrated subscription?”(it’s not cheap) or “A gift certificate to a nice restaurant” or “Tickets to a play.” She refused all those ideas and would send me something I hated that could not be returned for cash and could be exchanged only for something equally ugly or something that just made me scratch my head and go, “Huh?” (We live in the same city as the HQ of a major spice company and the spice companies that have been spun off because of intra-family rivalries. She sent us a gift certificate for a little spice store – just one store, not a national chain – in Dallas. Not a place she had ever been to or had any connection to – just a random spice store.)

          She did this to my husband as well. It’s kind of a joke among his friends that he wears only blue shirts. I was looking at photos with a friend’s three year old and Henry pointed at a man riding a camel and asked, “Is that Uncle Primo? He’s wearing a blue shirt.”

          She once sent him a brown Hawaiian shirt with a gift receipt.

          1. Primo never wears brown
          2. He never wears Hawaiian shirts
          3. The store was in Florida; we are very far from Florida.

          Primo was really upset. And this, I think, is the crux of the gift-giving problem. He said, “It’s like she doesn’t even SEE me.”

          We resolved it only when Primo kept saying, “Please let’s stop with the gifts” after we had gotten

          1. The cast-iron cat (which Primo actually likes)
          2. The green glass pear
          3. The vase handpainted with butterflies
          4. The cheap pressed board nesting tables painted with hibiscus and hummingbirds that she said she had also given to my sister in law, who had LOVED them, to which my SIL said, “HUH?”
          5. The brown shirt
          6. The spice gift certificate
          7. the custom jigsaw puzzle of a map of our neighborhood
          8. the framed photo of FIL and MIL – with a selection of two frames
          9. This was not for an event, but she mailed me two hardback books I had already read and three catalogs once.

          We returned most of these and had to tell her because the money went back to her. We could have given them straight to Goodwill, I suppose, but they were all kind of expensive. (I know.)

          Still, I would not have had a problem donating them except MIL and FIL expected equally expensive gifts in return and WOULD TELL PRIMO WHAT TO BUY THEM. As in, from his dad, “Buy your mother these $100 garden lights for Mother’s Day.” I send my mom a card.

          Anyhow. Primo finally got her to agree to no more gifts and there was a ton of drama associated with it. She was all, “You don’t love me!” OK – those were not her words, but that was the subtext.

          I am saying all of this not to tell you how to solve the problem – I don’t know how – but to let you know you are not alone. Some people are manipulative and don’t care what other people want and they are not going to change. Yes, my FIL was abusive to my MIL, but for crying out loud – once you have spent nine days in someone’s house (as they did when we got married) and you notice a lack of hummingbird tables/vases with butterflies/green glass pears, maybe think the lack of such items is deliberate.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Primo was really upset. And this, I think, is the crux of the gift-giving problem. He said, “It’s like she doesn’t even SEE me.”

            This last bit. I often feel that way about the gifts my family gives me. They’re getting better about actually asking, though.

        4. the gold digger*

          This whole thing with gifts makes me think of that episode of Cheers when Diane did Sam’s colors, got wool and spun it into yarn, dyed it to the proper color, and knit him a sweater.

          He gave her steak knives.

    3. the gold digger*

      I am discovering – now that my mother in law is dead – how horribly emotionally abusive my father in law (also now dead) was to her. I did not like her while she was alive – she was so emotionally needy and was so negative – but wow, I sure get it now. I had gotten bits and pieces of it over the years, but never saw it all at once until I started putting my book together. My FIL forced her to have sex. He forced her to give him oral sex a couple times a week, even though she had COPD. She had written notes and slipped them to my husband about how bitterly unhappy she was.

      I don’t know what I should have done differently while she was alive. I guess I could have sucked it up and called her once a month, but even knowing what I know now, I cringe at the thought of having to talk to her.

      All this to say – I don’t think you can change how you feel but you can decide how you will act. Be kind. Smile. Laugh at the Christmas gift of the cast-iron cat or the hydroponic herb garden because what else can you do? Take notes. :)

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Yeah, I try to be pleasant when we’re together for family stuff. I understand what you mean about wondering what you could do. My uncle passed about a year ago. We weren’t close, but in going through his house and things, I began to realize the type of life he had and I felt bad for him. I wish he hadn’t been so caustic when he was alive…

        I have friends that have such wonderful relationships with their in-laws and I wish I had that with her. I do have an amazing relationship with my own mother, and I’ve only been married a couple years. Maybe it will grow over time. :-)

      2. Natalie*

        Oof, this is a good reminder for me. My future MIL has is also an abuse survivor (father, not spouse) and it’s easy to forget that her brain is often, to be blunt, fucked up. That’s not to say that she doesn’t have her own problems and ways she perpetuates abuse onto her children, but it’s worth being aware of. And I agree, how you act is something always worth being mindful of.

      3. Pennalynn Lott*

        I completely missed that Doris had died. I’ve had my head down in text books and hadn’t had time to read the Sunday Free-For-All or your blog. Please pass along my condolences to your husband.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I remember once commenting to my father about a person who I admired very much but who seemed insincere from time to time. “So good to see you!”, came out in a robotic manner. He said, “Try to remember that she had enough of her wits about to realize that she needed to say something appropriate to this person. So on some level, she was trying to say the right thing.”

      Some of this goes to your MIL’s gifts. On some level she is trying to do the right thing. The dots just don’t connect for her and it could be for reasons like GD says or it could be childhood issues. We can’t learn to do things that we do not see being done.

      Second step. It’s disappointing, but try to lower your expectations. Where ever your expectations are at now, reduce them a little bit. Decide she is not a smiley person, so instead of smiles you are going to look for [fill in with something that husband says is a loving gesture on her part].

      Third step. And this is one I messed up badly on. Reeeally listen to what your husband says about his mother. Find out her likes and dislikes. And find out how much interaction he thinks the two of you will have. My husband thought if I sat through a meal I was doing great. I had other ideas and I kept pushing the envelop- I expected MORE. It did not go well. I should have listened closer to my husband.

      Hang on to the fact that your husband is with YOU because he KNOWS he will have MORE with you than he has ever had in life. Sorry for all the caps, but this one is really important. Hang on to this. Don’t feed in to her upset/downs/whatever. Decide to just be you and she can do her own thing.

      Lastly, my friend had an MIL that was tough. My friend knew her MIL’s story and, yeah, she had an incredibly rough life. Some how knowing that did not make the present time issues that much easier. So my friend prayed for her MIL. Time passed and MIL softened a tad. Then my friend got her MIL a small adult dog. Months went by. The ice melted. MIL was laughing and telling stories.
      If you are not a praying person, you can substitute a few minutes of quiet time wishing her well and wishing good things in her direction. If you have to do it in a robotic manner, then so be it. Go ahead and do it anyway.
      My friend’s MIL did not morph into the MIL of her dreams. And MIL always needed help with things. But the lady was pleasant and smiling. YMMV, of course. But over time you might find a path to a different place.

      1. fposte*

        I’m thinking about your phrase “the MIL of her dreams,” and I think that’s often a part of a situation like this. There’s a fantasy of having a warm relationship with an MIL who thinks you’re wonderful, the daughter she never had whether she actually had one or not, and it can be hard to accept as a success something that isn’t that.

        It reminds me, weirdly, of house hunting, when you have to stop looking for the house in your head and start looking for the house in your town.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          That is what it boiled down to for me. I had to stop and figure out why it was so important to me that she be this ideal MIL. And I had to figure out why her approval and acceptance of me was so important. I don’t require it of random strangers on the street, so why am I randomly imposing all this on her?

          In the end, I realized she treated me the same way she treated her own kids. Why should I expect better. This led me full circle to realizing the function I served in my husband’s life. He thought he could have more with me. I felt that way about him, too. And that leveled the playing field, at least for me.

          MILs do not live forever, OP. Carry yourself in a manner such that in years to come you can say, “I did the best I could at that time.”

      2. Sybil Fawlty*

        New commenter, long time reader. I really hope this name isn’t taken already!

        I loved your comment and that’s how it worked for me too. My MIL and I are very different, but I don’t think confrontation would have done any good. It’s just one of those duties that come with marriage, navigating the in-laws. Just do what you have to do to get along, and eventually your feelings may change towards her.

        Good luck!

    5. Dan*

      You have a point – I’d actually like an herb garden like that, but haven’t really been able to justify the cost. Do you still have it?

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Lol, I actually do. It’s sitting in my husband’s man cave never set up. The seed pods may need to be replaced because they may not sprout this far out, but that’s much less expensive. I thought about sending it to my cousin, but never got around to it.

    6. Mando Diao*

      Herb gardens are actually a very common “gift for someone who’s hard to shop for.” She probably asked around and did a little research.

  20. GOG11*

    So a lot of people have been sharing the video where “underprivileged” (word used by the article) children who are part of a Boys & Girls Club program are given two gifts – one for themselves and one for their parent – and told they have to choose between the two. If they chose the gift for their parents, they were allowed to have both. It’s being received very positively by those who are sharing it.

    It feels gross to me, and I think it’s because I see it as manipulating children (especially children who may be dealing with more than the average kid) for…I don’t even know why… I’ll post the link below. Thoughts on this? Am I missing something here?

    1. PX*

      I think thats pretty gross too. What ages are we talking here? (Either way, I’m still pretty grossed out. It has so many connotations of how to be ‘good’ and ‘selfless’ when I really dont think this would be the time or place for it).

        1. PX*

          Yeah, totally gross. Kids that age (or lets face it, anyone really) shouldnt be expected to be selfless paragons of virtue so that we can sit back and applaud and feel good about ourselves. Ugh. The more I think about this the more it annoys me.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, hell, no. “Screw you, kid with nothing. You’re never, ever allowed to want to enjoy anything yourself, and we’ll punish you if you do.”

    3. it happens*

      Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope to the infinite power.
      In other words, you are right. This is manipulative and wrong. And people who watch it and feel good might need to think about why it’s ok to use kids with no money to make other people ‘feel the spirit of the season.’ I have no problem if a child who knows that Santa may very well not know where to find them chooses to take a gift for him/herself over someone else. Kids are selfish by nature and it is heartbreaking to think that a child exposed to the crazy overcommercialization of this season would have that nature reinforced. Yay for the kid who chooses for the parent, but no problem with the rest. /end rant

    4. Florida*

      This is weird. There are plenty of ways to teach children compassion, sharing, etc. without playing mind games with them.
      If they choose the gift for themselves, are they made to think they are a bad, selfish kid?
      If they want to teach the child to be sharing, give him both gifts and talk to him about things like: which gift would mom like better, let’s give her that one and keep the other one for yourself, why should you so nice things for mom, etc. You can do all of that without playing emotional mind games with kids.

    5. katamia*

      Ugh, that’s super gross and mean. Whatever you don’t understand about the positive reception this video is getting (I don’t have it in me to watch it, so I’m just going off your description since the link hasn’t shown up yet and I can’t bear the thought of Googling it), I also don’t understand it. If you don’t have it in you to give presents to all kids instead of the ones who happened to give the “right” answer, then, yeah, I don’t get it. And I’m okay with not getting it.

      1. Florida*

        I just googled it and read the articles but didn’t watch the video. Some TV station came up with it. They show the kid the two gifts, tell him he can have the toy, let him get excited, then tell him there’s a catch. If a parent did this frequently, we would call it emotional abuse.
        Very disappointed that the Atlanta boys and girls club allowed their kids to be used for the TV station’s “experiment.”

    6. salad fingers*

      Grossssssss. This reminds me of a show I saw one episode of where a family in dire financial straits are given a suitcase of tons of money and allowed to get all excited that it’s all theirs and then told that they need to choose whether to give some or all of it to a different needy family. The twist is that the other family is making the same choice about them.

      This show made me inordinately angry. Effing poverty exploitation show. Watch and judge how generous they are or are not, and let them be embarrassed by comparing at the end which family was more or less selfless in how much they chose to give away! Grab the popcorn and lets watch the emotional vicissitudes of the struggling when a carrot with hidden strings attached is waved in front of their faces! Just ew.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I was thinking I’d heard this before, and it was that I vaguely remembered that show. I think the producer should have been told she needed to choose whether to keep her fee and residuals or give them to the featured family. On camera.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      When I was a kid I called stuff like this a head game. As I came into adulthood, I made sure I moved away from those who played head games. And so did many of my peers. This may not go well for B and G Clubs in the future.

    8. Clever Name*

      I have the same reaction as you. It’s manipulating the children, and to what end? To prove that poor people are kind? Just ugh.

    9. blue_eyes*

      I agree. It feels exploitative which is a shitty was to treat already marginalized people, much less children.

    10. catsAreCool*

      Treating kids like this feels wrong to me too. Are they trying to do something nice for the kids or using them like lab rats? Sounds more like the lab rats to me.

      1. fposte*

        Except an IRB would never let you do a study like this; it’s only television that can get away with it.

    11. Rana*

      Gross. Those aren’t gifts – they’re mindfucks.

      If you want to give a child a gift, you bloody give a child a gift. You don’t make it into a merit contest or a lesson.

  21. JPixel*

    How much money should I give as a wedding gift when I’m not attending the wedding? The recipients don’t have a regular registry (which is not to say that they don’t want gifts). The wedding is taking place in NYC. My judgement is clouded by the fact that I dislike the bride and wouldn’t send a gift at all except that I’m worried it will strain my relationship with her parents. If she had a registry, I’d choose something in the $30-$50 range and call it a day but it seems like an odd amount to write out in a check. Generally I have no issue giving gifts so it’s really just the fact that I don’t like this woman at all! If I was going to her wedding, I’d probably give her $150-$200.

    1. danr*

      Split the difference. A check for $100 should do it. On the other hand, when I got married, we never told our parents who gave us what or how much. We felt that was private to us. They never asked and we never volunteered.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You can still send a physical gift, even if she doesn’t have a registry. This is the type of situation picture frames were made for. You can also have alcohol delivered in NYC, so if she lives there, you can even send a bottle of champagne. Candlesticks are good too, as are champagne flutes, and you can get some very nice ones for well under $100 that look like you’ve spent a pretty penny.

      1. BRR*

        I’d strongly advise getting a physical gift if they don’t have a registry. Its a big sign they don’t want physical gifts and getting them something is flat out ignoring their wishes.

        1. fposte*

          I’m going to disagree with that. For one thing, their wishes don’t actually have that much significance–people get to give the presents they want because it’s about the wishes of the giver, not the givee. A registry is a polite option to guide people looking for suggestions, not a shopping list.

          IOW, you’ll get cash from me only if I’m dead and you’re inheriting it :-).

          1. FutureLibrarian*

            I disagree with you, specifically this: people get to give the presents they want because it’s about the wishes of the giver, not the givee.

            Then why give a gift at all? A gift is supposed to be about the recipient, not the giver.

            1. fposte*

              Still not agreeing. It’s given with the intent to please, but it’s always an extra bonus to the givee, never something they can direct. If it happens to align with the recipient’s tastes and desires, that’s wonderful and lovely. But there’s no etiquette-approved avenue for you to indicate your actual wishes for a gift, because nobody’s ever required to give you a gift, and you never get to be anything but pleased (except in private to your long-suffering partner) when somebody gives you one.

              1. JPixel*

                In this case, I’m pretty sure the recipients don’t know that they get to be anything but pleased about the gift! Which, the more I think about it, is the root of my problem. Maybe I’ll just send a card.

            2. Graciosa*

              I’m with fposte on this one – recipients of gifts are supposed to be inviting people they care about to share the experience of the wedding with them (or with notices, sharing their happy news). They are supposed to be pleasantly surprised that anyone would think to give them a gift in either event.

              Miss Manners accepted gift registries on the theory that a third party establishment was providing information about tastes and preferences only to those who asked for advice (kind of like asking a family member of the celebrant for ideas). Choosing your own gift is still the standard IF you choose to give one, which is not required.

              A gift registry is not a bill to be paid as presented unless you can negotiate different terms.

          2. BRR*

            I never thought I’d disagree with you :). I think the gift is a generous gesture from the giver to the givee. Because a gift isn’t mandatory, I don’t see why the giver would do what they want. It’s like being proactively unhelpful.

            I’ve decided to go the other route and only give cash because I feel it’s now what couples need the most and they can use it for what they need the most including anything from their registry.

            1. fposte*

              Ha–it had to happen sometime. But just think of the additional excitement about my massive inheritance now!

        2. hermit crab*

          Nah, I’m with AvonLady Barksdale. This is EXACTLY the type of situation picture frames are meant for. (We didn’t have a registry for our wedding earlier this year, because there wasn’t anything in particular we needed/wanted and because having one sort of weirded us out in general. We ended up with a bunch of picture frames and they’re awesome because we sure have lots of pictures now!)

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I am chuckling. We received a $200 table and lamp (attached). We took one look at it and instantly decided it was a piece of furniture we would tolerate until something better came along. (Here’s how bad it was, friends came over, looked at it and said, “This was nothing you picked out.”)
          While I agree that the giver gets to pick the gift, the recipient decides if they will keep it and use it. This means the recipient has the last word. If I am going to spend a chunk of money on something, I do not want to learn the recipient threw it out six months later. I gave a person a nice $50 item. I had the “pleasure” of seeing them break it 3 minutes after they took it out of the box. It was an accident, so I could not say too much. But I could not replace the item, either. What did me in here was the recipient’s reaction, “oh well”.
          In order for a gift to be meaningful, it requires cooperative effort on the part of both the giver and receiver. There has to be concern on the part of the giver and there has to be caring on the part of recipient. If either one drops the ball, the gift is apt to become meaningless. Might just as well flush the money down the toilet.

    3. Mando Diao*

      Target gift card for $50. Don’t write the amount on it. They’ll. be getting a whole stack of them and will probably use a bunch at once and won’t know how much was on any if them.

  22. PX*

    Random question – I thought I saw a few times over the last couple of months Alison mention she had been doing guest blogging/advice dispensing on other sites. I thought I had made some mental notes of where it was but I seem to have failed on that part. Anyone have links they can share?

      1. Jenniy*

        And some of those lovely columns went into one of my papers on stress in the workplace last term and helped me score a 100 on a paper that was 25% of my grade so :)

      2. PX*

        Hm. No, I thought it was more one of the general life advice columns, not Carolyn Hax but something else? Ask someone? Agony Aunt something?

        Or maybe it was just wishful thinking :D

  23. salad fingers*

    Haven’t been around much this week so sorry if it’s already been addressed but what’s with the bold blue vs. no lines to the left of comments?

    1. Marzipan*

      Blue lines are new comments – so, if you go away and come back, you can see what’s new since you last refreshed the page. I am liking the blue line a LOT.

    2. Rana*

      FYI – if you make a comment, all the lines disappear – basically, the program thinks that you’ve refreshed the page when you post.

  24. K.*

    Even though I’m in a funk (and it seems like the closer Christmas gets, the more in a funk I get), I managed to uphold a tradition I’ve had since I was little – making baked goods and sending them to my great aunts out of state. This means I braved the post office today. The line was out the door, of course, and two 50-somethings who ran into each other there held up the line taking selfies at the window until someone in the line yelled at them to “stop holding everybody up.” It’s a small thing, but I know it means a lot to them that I do it – and they’re all over 80, so it feels more significant as they get older. A little mini-accomplishment.

    1. GOG11*

      The post office at this time of year – and people-packed places in general – is the stuff of nightmares. I hope your funk starts to pass soon.

  25. Ruffingit*

    So from previous threads some of you might remember that we rented a house, moved in Dec. 1 and left for a hotel (at the property manager’s expense) on Dec. 5. Where we remained living until…yesterday!! We are finally back in our house and it’s glorious to be here! We were in a cramped hotel room with three people and two dogs living out of suitcases, eating out, and generally miserable. Was also dealing with a property manager who will likely win incompetent biatch/psycho of the year in 2016. Finally, after a ton of shenanigans on her part, I sat down and composed a carefully worded email in which I said that if she wasn’t able to behave respectfully and professionally, she needed to refund our deposits because we would be looking elsewhere. Suddenly, the plumber was at the house yesterday fixing the pipes and we were able to move back in.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Damn. Huh. The darnest things work. She probably thought her mother was hacking into her email. Okay, mom, I’ll behave.
      What a journey for you. I am glad you are in your place before Christmas.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thanks, me too. None of us was feeling the holiday spirit while trapped in the hotel. It was exhausting and stressful. I couldn’t believe how glorious it felt to take a hot bath at home and retreat to my cozy bed. The dogs are thrilled as well to have their backyard to romp in.

    2. Mimmy*

      So glad you finally got that situation squared away and are now settled into the house!! It’s just sad when a note threatening to look elsewhere is what it took to get the plumbing fixed. She didn’t want to part with that security deposit!! *evil laugh*

    3. StillHealing*

      Yay! So glad to read you are back home. I hope the property manager minds her manners this next year.

      1. Jenniy*

        Check your state and local tenant laws, as many of them have protections for you if she pulls this crap again.
        You have the ability (in most areas) to pay your rent money into an escrow fund instead of to her, that she can’t access until she makes the necessary repairs, but you usually have to go thru the courts.
        Taking money from their pocket usually makes them work a lot quicker

  26. TL17*

    My husband and I are going to make homemade ramen for Christmas dinner and I am so excited. Our kitchen is going to be a noodle extravaganza. I’m going to start making the broth this weekend.

    And we’re having nachos for Festivus, because that seems appropriate.

    And we’re having latkes this week too because we forgot to make them during Hanukkah. (for me, it’s an excuse to eat mostly applesauce for dinner).

    I’d love to know what others are planning. I love celebratory dinners & traditions. Everybody does them a little differently.

    1. danr*

      Well, for Hannukah, I made some rosemary, garlic roasted potatoes with onions and plenty of good olive oil, which went nicely with our roast chicken. For Christmas dinner, we make a standing rib roast with a salt, rosemary, garlic and pepper rub. There are just two of us, so it’s just two bones. New Year’s Eve will be rack of lamb with a rosemary, garlic, mustard coating. I hope you see a trend here. :)=

    2. Windchime*

      My sister is coming to visit. I’m not sure what we’ll do for meals; all I really know is that I want to make a nice breakfast on Christmas Day, and maybe something simple that we can heat up for dinner. Other than that, we will probably just eat a lot of appetizers and cookies and stuff.

    3. Samantha*

      Not sure what we are having for Christmas dinner – one of my aunts who loves to cook is taking care of them whole thing, yay! For New Year’s Day I am making cabbage rolls, mashed potatoes, and black eyed peas.

    4. Schnapps*

      I want to make a tourtiere for Christmas eve. I just need a non-complex recipe.

      Mom is making turkey, yams, suffing, potatoes, brussels sprouts, etc. for xmas dinner. I have plans to make a pumpkin pie (I have pumpkin in the freezer, flour, sugar, etc. and a pie plate). I’m seriously going domestic this year.

      New years is usually a bunch of appies, or pizza :)

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I do a great tourtiere using an Allrecipes recipe and it isn’t hard at all. My only changes are leaving out the celery, including a 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and only using two bouillon cubes. I’ll link to it in a comment, it always gets raves.

    5. Merry and Bright*

      This year I’m spending Christmas with my sister and brother-in-law at their home. I’m arriving for dinner on Christmas Eve and going home on 27 December. I don’t know anyone else who does this but we always cook a huge shepherd’s pie on Christmas Eve with masses of vegetables. I bought the lamb mince from a butchery yesterday and it is currently in the freezer.

      On Christmas Day it will be a traditional roast turkey with trimmings such as sausage meat balls and chestnut stuffing. And lots of parsnips. I am cooking on Boxing Day and doing salmon with chicory, and mashed potato browned in the oven.

      I also like reading about others’ choices and traditions.

    6. Be the Change*

      We have no traditions at all. :-( Maybe that’s our tradition? Whatever works!

      This year we’re going to spend 2 weeks with my husband’s father in a country far, far away where neither Hanukkah nor Christmas is celebrated. I hope my FIL doesn’t get all het up thinking that he “should” do something for Xmas because I’m coming.

    7. Elizabeth*

      It’s just my husband and I. On Christmas Eve, we have lobster rolls, ( on butter grilled New England style hot dog buns, if you’re from New England you know what I mean) along with some clam chowder. Ther have been years when I made little hot dogs in crescent roll dough, but after we ate those there was no room for anything else! Christmas Day is a sirloin roast of beef, or some years a tenderloin. Mashed Yukon gold potatoes with lots of butter and cream, ( and my secret ingredient, a little nutmeg). Asparagus, roast carrots, crescent rolls, and some nice store bought cake or pie. Before dinner, some shrimp and Dark and Stormies, to remind us of our wonderful trips to Bermuda. No pressure, no company, we don’t have to dress up but we do. A little. I always use the good China and silver.

    1. GOG11*

      I get that look from one of my cats. He’s OBSESSED with chewing on artificial evergreen stuff (the tree, garland, I’m sure the wreath, too, if he could manage it) and I’ll yell his name. Over. And over. And over, until finally he stops chewing and gives me this wide-eyed dramatic look like “What?! I wasn’t doing anything…”

      1. esra*

        Having a cat is like having a teenager forever looking at you with that semi-disgusted, “UHM. Can I help you.” face.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Oh my gosh. That’s exactly what that face says. No wonder it annoys the crap out of me!

        2. catsAreCool*

          I think it depends on the cat. I’ve got a couple of kitties who frequently give me a look that I think means “aww, what a nice human”, and one of those kitties (I adopted him when he was an adult) will give what I think is a sincere look of love.

          My 3rd kitty on the other hand sometimes looks like she has decided not to kill and consume me… for now.

  27. mander*

    For no good reason I have been on a baking marathon this week. Well, it’s sort of part of a drive to clean out the kitchen of unused jam, frozen fruit, preserves, etc but I’ve gone a bit crazy. So far I’ve made two types of banana bread, strawberry muffins, mincemeat oatmeal cookies, mincemeat pies (though so far these are a disaster), and mincemeat cupcakes — I had a huuuge jar of mincemeat to use up! I also made quince jam, and I plan to make some sort of pumpkin cookies.

    On the plus side the freezer and cabinets are looking much emptier and my friends will be pleased to have baked goods.

  28. bassclefchick*

    Seriously, major department stores….is a hunter green comforter REALLY that much to ask for?! Not sage, not olive (unless it’s Olive, the cat! LOL), not mint, not camo, just a plain, hunter green, cotton comforter. I don’t really care what your “color of the year” is. Keep basic, classic colors available. People will buy them, I swear.

    And apologies to Cambridge Comma (and all you other lovely word nerds here!) for my excessive, totally incorrect, use of commas.

    And when did Domestications go out of business?

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I remember Domestications. It’s been a long time since I got one of their catalogs, though. I found a website that suggested the Domestications site had been down for a couple of years already in 2014.

      When I searched Amazon for “hunter green” under Bedding Comforter Sets, with Cotton selected as a filter, I found a few–maybe one of those would do?

      1. bassclefchick*

        Yeah, I saw tons of them on Amazon. But with bedding, I really want to be able to see it and touch it BEFORE I buy it! And there were so many on Amazon that my brain got overloaded with all the choices. LOL

    2. Alma*

      I share your frustration. Basic colors (that are consistent from year to year) like navy blue, kelly green, hunter green, holiday red (both Christmas and Valentines day), bright yellow, etc, will sell.

      Lots of linen specialty stores have “muddy” colors. Not interested. The best stores have the best customer service. I have appreciated Lands End because the operators have fabric swatches and actual measurements of items of clothing and household linens and towels. LE and LLBean have much more of a selection online than in the catalogs. The Company Store and Cuddledown have great customer service – make your own decision on the colors available. I recently found Wayfair, and have been surprised at the wide options of styles and colors in linens, in standard colors.

      I miss Domestications, too.

      1. bassclefchick*

        That’s it! “Muddy” is exactly the word to describe what I’ve been seeing! Whew! Glad it wasn’t just me. Thank you for the suggestions. I totally forgot Lands End did bedding. I think we actually have The Company Store as a brick and mortar store in my city. I will check these out, thank you!

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      This is one of my big peeves about the fashion industry. I get that they need to make money and that the way to do that is to constantly change what is “in” but… I cannot wear neon colours. Just can’t. There are years when I walk through a mall and just throw up in my mouth a little because everything is in colours I simply cannot pull off.

      If I had all kinds of money or backing, I would start a clothing store called Basics. And that’s just what it would have, simple styles in all the basic colours. Colours that are the same (or as close as possible) every year. Current fashions in standard colours. Seriously, all I want is an off-white turtleneck. Not white, not grey — ivory/cream because that’s the colour that’s most flattering for me and the year(s) that I have to replace whatever one(s) I have, pretty much guaranteed it will be the Year of Fuchsia or something and I won’t find that replacement for at least a year. To be able to walk into a store and know that I could get the thing that I needed… oh, that would be heaven to me. I’m not someone who shops for fun and pleasure, I want to get in and get out as quickly as possible with the thing I need.

      1. Alma*

        That’s a great idea. There used to be places where those “basics” could be found. The grey wool slacks, the winter white pieces, the black velvet skirt for holidays, the classic navy blazer, and so much more. Those “investment pieces” lasted many years with proper care. Then each season, a more trendy color or two works with all those basics. I did actually have a fuscia linen jacket, that went with black, navy, and the green linen skirt I bought the year before. (It was the ’80’s!)

    4. NacSacJack*

      Hunter green is out of fashion this year. Check back in a few years. Until then, here is your white with gold pattern comforter for your black&white Border Collie/Lab that sheds his weight in fur…weekly.

  29. Victoria, Please (Laid-Back Stepmom)*

    My stepdaughter’s wedding was earlier this week and it was The Bomb. She planned a *fantastic* party. Even her mother-in-law, who had been very worried that things would not turn out well, was impressed. I have to admit, I’m somewhat in awe of the girl’s executive ability and creativity, and especially of her sheer force of will. It was gorgeous. God bless them.

    If anyone has a big, complicated, long, million-part project that needs to be bulldogged through, I recommend my DSD.

    Oh, and I looked nice too. Ended up with closed-toe shoes so the nylons-and-peep-toe question did not arise.

  30. Anon4this*

    Yesterday I hit Seasonal Affective Disorder rock bottom. I had a total meltdown. The fact that the solstice is in 2 days is little comfort to me; it will be dark and miserable where I live for months. I need to get out of this dark, slushy hellhole. But first I need to clean my kitchen, which I have been neglecting all week. Summoning the energy and motivation to do that sounds pretty impossible right now. I’ll just stay in bed a little longer.

    1. Older not yet wiser*

      Amp up the vitamin D. Maybe try a happy light? Eat some oranges ( we are getting really good oranges and “cuties” right now in our stores). Turn on all your bright lights and some good dancing music and move! I live almost on the Canadian border and we are buried in about 9-10″ of snow and it kept coming down all day. And it’s all dark and slushy here too (turning into slippery tonight). So I get it. For me, the vitamin D makes a big difference in how I feel at this time of year. On the other hand, just staying in bed all day works too…

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Me, too. After a year where we went over 30 days without sunlight with grey overcast skies and I was looking around for an axe, I heard about vitamin D and decided to start taking it. I found it helped a lot. I had tried those sunlight lamps and meh, nothing.

        I’m going to check out this curcumin stuff. I’ve been put through the wringer with work these past two months and I am exhausted on top of being burnt out. Maybe that will help me tighten up as I have work over the holidays. Worth a try, anyway!

    2. Schnapps*

      Have you tried curcumin (turmeric)? I started taking that and wow, my brain is back.

      Which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view. But I feel a helluva lot better.

      1. Anon4this*

        I haven’t! I’ll give it a try. I’m trying everything these days. I’d love to have my brain back.

      2. nep*

        Please tell more about your experience with taking turmeric. How long have you been taking it? Did you start taking the supplement to address something in particular, and if so, how effective has it been? What impact are you seeing/feeling? Thanks.

        1. Schnapps*

          So I have depression and take 100mg zoloft daily (at bedtime). It’s a pretty mild depression, although there are certain times of the month that I would just rather sleep away. The curcumin takes the edge off and it makes me sleep better. It makes me kind of dopey so I only take it at night because I drive to work. It’s mostly a boost to the antidepressant; from what I’ve read it can help.

          For me, the issue is quality sleep. Not necessarily 8-10 hours, but I need a couple of cycles of REM sleep to function at a high enough level to do my job and take care of my family.

          Disclaimer: not a doctor, far from. Just someone who knows what helps for her.

    3. LF*

      Have you talked to your PCP about this? I live in one of the cloudiest places in the US and am suicidal if I don’t anti-depressants on a regular schedule in the winter, but I take a small dose of seratonin and manage pretty well.

    4. Rebecca*

      I also loathe the winter months. The first week after the time switched back was horrible. I kept falling asleep in my chair, felt like hibernating, etc. That Friday, I went to a friend’s house for dinner, and she had jar candles burning here and there. For some reason, it lifted my spirits, on top of the good company and food. The next day, I found some jar candles I’d been hoarding, and before dark, I lit them. I cannot tell you what a lift it gave me. I don’t know why, but I’ve been lighting candles in the evening now every day and I feel better. Thought I’d throw that out there just in case it might help you, too.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      For what it’s worth, my parents went to Goa in the 80’s and my mom still raves about how much they loved it. Granted, it was 30 years ago, so I don’t know how fabulous it still is.

  31. fposte*

    God bless rote design: a medical page wants my father’s birth year as authentication and notes that answers are case sensitive :-).

    1. Tennessee*

      that’s a hoot!

      all designers should have to fill out the forms themselves. blindfolded. with mittens on. in a dark room filling with water. locked dark room, no extra paperwork to refer to to get that obscure crazy fact they say you absolutely have to have to finish filling out the form. on a Monday.

      (disclosure: I do web forms and bad design makes me crazy!)

  32. Gene*

    Favorite kitchen gadget/implement? The basics like knives and pots/pans are excluded.

    Mine: Chef’n silicone spatulas.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I have a wood cutting board that is kind of shaped like a square shovel. It has a thick board area, and then sides and a flat area where you can put the cut items. So you can cut and then swipe into the holding area, then dump it all in a different container without the food going all over. I got it for a wedding present over 30 years ago, and it’s showing its wear, but it is so useful. I’ve never seen another like it.

      1. Jenniy*

        The closest I have seen to what yours sounds like is one that is made for going over the sink (as opposed to in, like a colander). It sits over the edges/ edge and center support, is expandable, and has a … “cubby” at one end where you can swipe the cut up pieces into as you cut. (In case you do feel the need to replace yours, since you said it’s showing wear- although 30 years is really good bang for your buck!)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I have a NordicWare Multi-Pot. I use it to cook rice in the microwave. It’s BRILLIANT. Comes out perfectly every time, and no more boiled-over pots on the stove. I also don’t need to buy an appliance just to cook rice. Tried quinoa in it a while ago, and it worked, though it needed a bit more water and a bit more time. It just looks like a little plastic saucepan with a slotted lid. You can get it on Amazon, I think, though I picked up mine on a sale rack at Walmart.

    3. could be anyone*

      A measuring cup a little bigger than a shot glass. It measures out 10 tablespoons/30 teaspoons/5oz/150 ml. It comes in handy for the brownie recipe that calls for 7 tablespoons of milk.

    4. nep*

      Found a terrific thin julienne slicer (just about new) at an estate sale several months back. I think I’ve used it every day since. Cuts beets and carrots so nicely.
      My Bodum press — because, coffee.

    5. Alma*

      OOOOOooooooohhhhhh. My favorite topic!!

      I’m with Alton Brown: no “single purpose” items in the kitchen!!

      Most treasured: the cookie cutters I used with my Mother as a child.
      Most used: my small-appliance convection toaster oven (not the small one).
      Item I will bequeath to my niece: my Made in USA Swing-Away can opener.
      Least expensive: a paint can opener, which prys out tops of cans that get stuck in the soup, opens a can of soda when the pop-ring comes off, spears stuff in narrow jars – truly amazing implement.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I’m with Alton Brown on the no single purpose items…except my garlic press. You’ll pry that out of my cold, dead hands. Not sure why the celebrity chefs never use them. It may just be because their knife skills are far superior to what mine will ever be. LOL

        1. fposte*

          Elizabeth David didn’t approve of them either. I learned that in a fabulous and at times hilarious Julian Barnes essay about her influence on cooking.

    6. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      We have a meat carving board with spikes on one side to hold the meat, and it’s angled slightly so all the juice/fat runs off into a little pool at one end when you carve. It came with a carving knife and fork which magnetically clip together. Genius, I tell you!

    7. danr*

      small kitchen scale. It will weigh in either American or metric and has a tare function. Oxo containers. They have a positive seal and release. Two hold my nuts, one for cashews and one for pecans. Others hold the pasta. Slotted bread board. The crumbs fall below the bread. Great for cutting garlic bread and challah.

    8. StillHealing*

      My favorite has been a Garlic Peeler. I tried to add a link to a video but it wasn’t allowed. So, if you Google “Chef Tools – Garlic Peeler Demo” you’ll see the peeler I’m talking about. Very cheap. I don’t roll as long as they do in the video. I do a quick back and forth a couple times and that usually does the trick.

    9. Rana*

      Microplane graters. And the sort of can-openers that remove a sort of lid from the can, instead of cutting a hole in the top. Very handy.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love those can openers, but I can’t find one that doesn’t break. Right now I’m using an electric one, so at least the can top doesn’t fall into the food.

        1. Rana*

          We have one from Emsa, which is great. It was a gift, which is also great, because just now I’ve discovered how spendy they are!

    10. nep*

      Oh — and my very basic second-hand food processor, with which I make peanut butter, energy bars, and banana ‘ice cream’.

    11. Nye*

      For cooking: microplane grater. I’ve had mine for years and it still works great.
      For baking: good kitchen scale. Great for accurate and reproducible baked goods, and less to clean if you tare the bowl and measure directly into it.
      For candy-making: heavy-duty scientific thermocouple thermometer. Flexible probe, indestructible, fast-reading, and accurate.
      For fun: iSi whipper. I love whipped cream and am a snob about it – this way I can have instant whipped cream made with slightly sweetened farmer’s market cream and really good vanilla, and it keeps for weeks in the fridge. I have plans to try some molecular gastronomy tricks with it, too, but it’s worth it just for the cream. (I’m generally with Alton Brown where uni-taskers are concerned, but this is one that’s so convenient I make an exception.)

    12. bassclefchick*

      My Pampered Chef chopper. Love that thing. Great stress reliever! My husband is always a bit startled when I use it because I slam the heck out of that plunger!

    13. LizB*

      Sadly I no longer have this gadget — lost it in one too many moves after college — but a vegetable peeler that instead of a handle has a little ring that you slip over your finger so the silicone back is against your palm, and the blade is in front of that. Then you just run your hand over whatever you’re peeling! It’s so much more maneuverable and easy to use than a traditional peeler, or even a y-peeler. I wish I could find a replacement.

      1. Mander*

        Try the dollar store! I have one like that and I got it at Poundland in the UK. Or one of those “seconds” shops like Ross or TK Maxx.

    14. Adara*

      I LOVE my Vidalia Chop Wizard! It makes chopping a breeze and it’s super easy to clean and store. Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells them for under $20.

    15. BRR*

      Ooh I love this comment and replies.

      My magnetic measuring spoon with a teaspoon on one end and a tablespoon on the other. Sits on my fridge ready to go.

      And my 4 cup measuring up with the markings on the cup so I can see from above. I’m tall so it was always a pain to be able to see from the side.

      We also recently got a toaster oven that has been heavily used.

    16. Schnapps*

      My hand blender. It came with an extra container and blade so it acts as a mini chopper too – great for onions.

    17. Mander*

      I have some long-ish silicone covered tongs from Ikea. Because they are non-slip I use them for fetching things from the backs of high cabinets without having to get a chair, as well as for more conventional cooking purposes.

      1. Alma*

        Me, too!! And after I had back surgery, my 18″ tongs were always with me. The first morning I was at home, I sat on the edge of my bed and started to get dressed – I dropped my underpants. Much cursing. The tongs saved me! They also helped me grab the clothes in the back of the dryer, and retrieve the soda can that got pushed to the back of the fridge. The silicone gives that non-slip that plain stainless steel tongs don’t have.

    18. Katie the Fed*

      Oh honey, this thread was made for me. I LOVE cooking :)

      I have a Rosle garlic mincer – it’s stupid expensive but so useful! I love it.
      A tagine that can go directly on the stove (Emile Henry) – so great to cook with a beautiful to serve.
      Vitamix. It stays on my counter and I use it so much.
      Cheese grater container with the grater lids – you can grate right into a container and snap on a lid to store. Perfect.
      Immersion blender – great for pureed soups

    19. Dynamic Beige*

      I bought a few silicone baking sheets when I was really into making cookies and they are awesome! Whether you use them for baking cookies or for making chocolate covered strawberries, things just slip right off, no need for Pam or greasing at all.

      Along with someone else here, I also have all the cookie cutters my mother and grandmother had, so that’s special to me.

  33. Sue*

    Ok, looking for advice.

    Last Saturday a tree branch wonked into my head. Today (a week later) I have a large 4-5 inches across knob of yellow/red bruise on my forehead and some “flesh” colored tape covering the remains of 21 stitches across the middle of the knob. Long hair, but not enough to cover it up.

    Tomorrow I (and hubby) fly back to visit my parents. They are 74 and not in the greatest of health. So, do I call shortly before going over to their house and let them know about the forehead, or wait till I show up at their house?

    It will be drama either way, I’m just looking for ways to minimize the potential of one (or both of them) completely losing their minds.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      You might call and say, “We’re on our way! Hey, by the way, I had a little argument with a tree branch the other day. I’m totally fine, though it’s a little messy. Just wanted to you to know so I don’t scare you when I show up looking like Frankenstein’s monster. Love you and see you soon!”

      Or whatever.

    2. Alma*

      Make sure your parents know the Doctor said you are ready to get back in the game, having passed the concussion test. That’s probably best said in person.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, call ahead. Just tell them that you wanted them to know before they saw you and that you are healing up just fine. If they say something later on, remind them that you are healing up just fine. Focus on the healing part.

  34. Mimmy*

    BELLY RUB!!! I love your cat pics Alison!

    Just a bit of a vent, but I welcome suggestions. I’m trudging my way through my final paper for my class. It’s due Wednesday and, as always, will probably be scrambling to finish it on time. I’m the type that keeps finding articles to read (usually from reference lists) and having to remind myself to not get out of control since the paper is only a limited number of pages. Honestly, if I didn’t control myself, I’d probably end up with a dissertation! Which means I probably do have the head for a PhD since they often have to find as many references as possible when doing the Literature Review of their articles (at least from what I remember in my Research Methods course during my MSW program).

    The hardest part about writing papers is having to narrow down which sources you’ll cite and piecing all of the notes and highlights together into one coherent paper. I find myself spending so much time reading and highlighting, that time gets away from me and, before I know it, the due date is near and I haven’t even written anything (aside from unwieldy outlines–thank god for word processing software!). This probably happens to every student, but it still sucks.

    1. LibbyG*

      Well, if you can make yourself write four or five sentences about each paper as you finish reading it, you might find yourself honing in earlier on the insights that you’re bringing to your work. Then it might be easier to leave more papers unread and focus on crafting the paper. I encourage students to think of library research papers like a dinner party: the uthors of the papers are like the guests. You can only invite a few, so try to get the most interesting mix of perspectives and let the conversation fly.

      1. JJtheDoc*

        This! I started doing this part way through a Master’s program, and it made writing under deadline pressure so much easier! I also formatted the citation according appropriately, and kept everything in a ‘running bibliography’ document on my computer. Made it easy to search, easy to copy/paste the citation into the reference list and/or bibliography. Setting it up was a pain – had to force myself to add the info from completed classes and papers – and maintaining it was easy.

        When I entered by doctoral program, I expanded on this idea and copied/pasted every ref list/biblio into a second ‘sources by class’ document. Gave me another way to search, and didn’t add more than seconds to the list maintenance process.

    2. periwinkle*

      Oh yes, if you go on to a doctoral program you will need a lot of references for, well, everything. For the term paper I turned in this week I wrote 20 pages and used 31 references. My dissertation reference list will certainly hit triple digits.

      Google how to write an annotated outline and annotated bibliography. I really like doing an annotated outline because it lets me sort out what I’m going write about, how the info will be structured, and which references are key for each part.

      For reading academic papers I’ll skim through the intro and lit review, read through the conclusion/discussion, and put it aside. You can always go back later to get into the methodology and data.

      1. Mimmy*

        My paper has to be 12-15 pages and include class readings and at least 5 outside peer-reviewed sources. My reference list is probably going to be twice that long. Maybe not 31, but definitely over 10, maybe even 15.

    3. Nye*

      If they’re scientific papers, read the abstract and look at the figures. That’ll get you the most important points, and frequently you don’t need more than that (especially since intros/discussions can cover the same info if you’re reading a lot of the same topic).

      For writing motivation, I love a site called WriteOrDie. You give it some goals (e.g. 500 words in 30 minutes), and then type into a box. If you pause for too long, the screen goes red and horrible noises start to sound (the deluxe version has spiders drop into the screen, I think), and they only stop when you start writing again. I tend to research a lot and over think things, and have trouble getting started. This gives me motivation to just write something without worrying about whether it not it’s perfect, and then I can go back and clean it up/add references/restructure/etc. Your mileage may vary, but it got me through a PhD so thought I’d mention it!

    4. CMT*

      I did the same thing in grad school, and for me it was totally a procrastination technique so I could put off the actual writing. All those new sources weren’t adding anything to my papers or arguments. Really they were distractions leading me off on tangents.

    5. Mander*

      The thing is, you will never read all of the relevant papers. There will always be more, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that if you submit papers for publication, you will get at least one reviewer who gets huffy because you didn’t cite *their* paper, even though it is only marginally relevant to whatever you’re talking about.

      Anyway, I did this too, and I think the best way to combat it is to write as you go. As soon as you’ve read 4 or 5 papers and have an idea of what your argument is going to be, start writing some sketchy paragraphs. You’ll end up revising them or even just deleting them eventually, but it will be easier to see that you don’t need any more support for this or that idea and hopefully that will help you resist the urge to look up yet more papers!

      Also there is a book called “Destination Dissertation” that has a really good method for constructing literature reviews/annotated bibliographies. I can’t recall all the details but it’s very useful and worth looking up if your library has the book.

      1. fposte*

        There’s a great pre-Simpsons Matt Groening cartoon about grad school, and one of the vignettes is “How to avoid the agony of working on your dissertation? Read another book!”

        It’s true. Lit review is important, but it’s also an easy way to duck the hard part, and it’s important to be able to call the review done and deal with the real meat.

    6. Mimmy*

      Thanks for the suggestions everybody!! Probably too late for this paper since it’s due in 3 days, but it’ll help me next semester if I have any papers. MY LAST CLASS!!!

  35. phyllisB*

    First comment; I was at the bank yesterday, and one of the personal bankers told me, “I feel like a spider on roller skates.” I think a lot of us can relate to that.

    1. StillHealing*

      Didn’t someone in Harry Potter cast a spell on a big spider and put roller skates on all eight legs? When I read what you wrote 1. I totally agreed. 2. I had a hilarious mental vision pop up of a spider on roller skates. Lol.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Wasn’t it Ron, picturing it when they were doing the boggart in Defense Against the Dark Arts with Lupin? That would have been Prisoner of Azkaban, I think.

        Heh heh, Snape in Neville’s grandmother’s clothes. XD

  36. Legalchef*

    The hubs is off watching football with a friend so I had time to myself… Got ALL of our wrapping done (well except for any presents for me!) – 25+ presents! I also made a batch of bourbon-black pepper caramels, and the second load of laundry of the night is being done now. Perhaps not the most exciting night, but certainly a productive one!

    As my husband’s “big” gift, I got him a watch he wants. But I put it in a tie box underneath one of his ties to try to trick him. :)

    Have any of you done any joke or tricky wrapping?

  37. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Exactly a year since we got our last kitten, today we bought another. We pick him up on Thursday. What are your tips for introducing cats to each other? New kitty has had playmates in the pet store up to this point. Current kitty did when we got her, but has been sole cat in the house since then — and she’s an indoor cat, so her only real interactions with other cats has been through the doors at catteries. We really want them to get along, so any great tips, please tell me!!

    1. NZCat*

      Hey MJ. Sorry I don’t have any tips, but I just thought I’d comment because I’m also in NZ and I have indoor cats. Other people always find it really weird that my cats are indoor only – do you also get this reaction?

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        Yep, people find it really strange. But, we are right next to a busy road and a blind bend — we’ve seen too many squished kitties on the road, it’s a no-brainer for us, unfortunately. She’s pretty happy, though! We have heard a few horror stories about petsitters deciding it’s “cruel” and letting house cats out, though, so it’s catteries only for us when we go away. It was very refreshing going to the US last month where most people’s cats where indoor-only (due to coyotes etc.)

        1. NZCat*

          We are in the same situation where we live on a hill that people drive down VERY fast. It is also much better for the native birds not to let the cats out to catch them! Indoor cats do come with their own problems, but I think it is better in the long run. I’m glad to hear of someone else who has indoor cats in NZ! :)

        2. the gold digger*

          We had to sign a contract when we got our cats that they would be indoor only cats. We have broken the deal a bit – we let Laverne outside because she loves Outside but only on a leash that we attach to the clothesline. She is still possibly exposed to fleas, so we have to give her treatments (NOT the Costco flea treatment!) but there is no risk she will run into the street and be hit by a car.

        3. The Other Dawn*

          I’m in the US and over here people react with horror when I say that two of my cats are indoor-outdoor. I often try to skirt around it or I outright lie now, just so I don’t get the judgement from others. However, now that I’m living in a more rural area, I do see the need to keep them indoors, as I lost one this past spring to what I assume was a coyote.

          1. Cruciatus*

            I remembered your question from last week about the robotic vacuums and just now Consumer Reports posted the ones that did best in their tests. on FB. I’ll add that link in another comment.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Our dogs/cats have always been outdoors. I’m not used to having animals in the house. If I had a bigger house, I would have made Psycho Kitty come in and put in a pet door, but the house is small and the back doors aren’t set up to do that easily. If I forced her, she’d just yowl all night and then run back out anyway. I just make sure she’s set up to be warm, dry, and fed/watered outdoors. If it’s really awfully cold, like with the polar vortex, I work from home so I can keep an eye on her (and so I don’t have to go out in it, LOL).

    2. Allison Mary*

      Hi! If you haven’t heard of Jackson Galaxy before, I’d highly recommend checking out his videos on youtube, as well as the TV show My Cat From Hell.

      Here’s a great video from him on how to introduce cats to each other (it’s about 8 minutes long, he starts to get into the actual material a little less than a minute into the video) – I’d definitely recommend checking it out:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZrwcoiy_gY

    3. catsAreCool*

      Keep them separate for a few to several days if at all possible. If they can sniff each other through the door, that will give them a safer way to get to know each other at first. Switch which kitty is where from time to time so each kitty can sniff the rooms that the other kitty was in.

      For 2 kitties, it’s best to have at least 3 litter boxes.

      When you do let them meet, be sure to supervise closely – you might want to separate them quickly. It’s normal for hissing to happen at first. Don’t worry if they aren’t too friendly at first. In my experience, kittens want to be friendly, and adult cats (and a 1 year old might count as sort of adult) are more cautious.

      My kitties are indoor only – it’s so much safer for them.

  38. phyllisB*

    This is (I guess) a bit of an update. I want to thank you those of you who responded to my questions about flight to Charleston, SC. First of all, we had a GREAT TIME, and trip couldn’t have gone better. One thing I found out, th