weekend free-for-all – July 22-23, 2017

This 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.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendliness, by Jennifer Latson. I read this after reading this fascinating write-up in NYMag about Williams syndrome, also known as “cocktail party syndrome,” which makes people incredibly outgoing, extroverted, and trusting (as well as causing intellectual disabilities, physical problems, and musical and story-telling talents).

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,309 comments… read them below }

  1. belle*

    Friends! I’m moving to New Hampshire (Manchester) for work, from the south.

    Tips on surviving winters? Fun day trips around New England? What’s the best coat? mittens or gloves? Share your New England knowledge with this newbie….

    1. Me2*

      Strawbery Banke (no, neither one is a typo) in Portsmouth is a fascinating “living” museum, you can easily spend a day here. Portsmouth in general is very charming.

      1. KR*

        I agree to this – Dover, Newmarket, and Exeter are also nice towns to walk around in and Very historic. There’s an original copy of the declaration of independence in Exeter. I lived in Portsmouth for two years and grew up in the seacoast area. Portsmouth has some great bars, restaurants, local breweries, and public events. There is only something like 18 miles of coast in NH. A drive up the coast is worth it – take it from Seabrook beach, catch 1A, and drice through Hampton Beach (which is the most popular beach in NH) and up through Rye and North Hampton. It’s a super pretty drive. For the winters, it really depends on what coat you prefer but I wore a Carrhart and I found it very effective in dealing with the cold. It kept me warm, held up to the wind, I didn’t mind if it got covered with salt (as everything does evenutally in New England), and it held up to wind. Gloves are a must in the coldest part of the winter (December to February) though there’s a good chance come February you will be desensitized to the cold and the first day it’s 40° you’ll want to wear short sleeves out. If your car is very light you may have to put weight or sand in the back for the snow and keep kitty litter in the back in case you get stuck. I would recommend keeping a small shovel and a snow brush in your car. Manchester is the biggest city in NH, so it gets more crime. It’s not a bad or terribly dangerous area though in the grand scope of things. Rochester is an area with a reputation but same thing, it’s just somewhere that has had a lot of issues with addiction in recent years. Living in the Manchester area I honestly don’t think you’ll have a reason to go to Rochester anyway –
        it’s definitely out of the way. You’ll hear a lot about the opioid crisis – there are a lot of problems in NH right now with addiction and overdosing – something to be aware of since it’s all over the news and many people have been affected by it. In Manchester, I would recommend the Red Arrow Diner. It’s one of the only restaurants in NH that’s open 24hrs and it is GOOD. My favorite is the Queen Dinahs Breakfast. Dos Amigos is a American-Mexican local chain that is also super good – there’s locations in Portsmouth, Dover, Rochester, Concord, and Manchester. The nice thing about NH is that everything is close by. The White Mountains are beautiful and I love them. If you like hiking at all I would check them out because there’s some very manageable day hike mountains there. They are also pretty to just take a day driving up there and stopping to check out the sites (very assessible from Manchester, just take 93). Check out driving the Kangamangus Highway. NH’s tallest mountain, Washington,
        has an auto road you can drive up in your car in good weather (though make sure your breaks are in good shape for the down trip). There is also a lot of skiing and snowboarding and general winter in the Northern part of the state. Pawtuckaway state park is very near you and also has a small lake beach, good hiking trails and nature walks, ect. I don’t do winter sports but I loved taking drives up to the mountains in all seasons since almost all in NH there are amazing – curvy and pretty. Basically I grew up close to there and I could rant forever about how awesome it is. Happy to answer individual questions. Warning: if you’re not in Manchester, apartment housing is expensive and hard to get.

    2. Mischa*

      Not from New England, but from the midwest where it gets freezing cold, icy and snowy in the winter. I have a pair of knock-off LL Bean boots for snow/slushy weather. I love them. If it’s cold and very windy, I wear a two phase jacket from the North Face. Basically it’s an outer waterproof shell with a fuzzy inner shell. On their own, they’re not incredibly warm, but together? Fabulous. Gotten me through some negative zero weather without feeling cold. If it’s not windy I go for my wool peacoat from Land’s End. The higher the wool percentage, the warmer, IMO. I’ve had my North Face for about 8 years and the peacoat for about 5. Paying more was definitely worth it in this case, though REI usually has some great sales.

      1. Emmie*

        I second a heavy coat. I had a long North face and a long LL Bean down coat. I liked the LL Bean one better because it has an internal cord around the waist, and it goes on sale for half off. a day or two around Christmas. You’ll be shocked at the number of jackets you’ll want – lightweight early fall, moderate weight late fall, winter 30 degrees wool pea coat, and then the down coat. I also added a ski jacket for the gym. But I was pretty cold weather adverse. Also, remote start on your car is a life saver!

        1. Mischa*

          Remote start sounds wonderful! I love running in the cold so I also have a 20 degree (F) rated running jacket thing. Plus, I discovered how amazing wool is beyond peacoats. I love my wool socks and wool neck gaiter. The gaiter isn’t the most attractive or fashionable thing but man it will keep you cozy, whether you’re being active or not.

    3. Warm Coat*

      I’m from the north east and now live in the mid west, and the best coat I’ve had is a knee length down (or down substitute? I can’t remember because I bought it 6 years ago…) filled Columbia coat with a hood. The key here is that the inside is lined with a silver heat reflective material, so it’s able to be very warm and still slim – not like the super puffy Michelin man type jackets! I’ve walked to work in Chicago by the lake in the winter and gotten hot in this coat!

      1. Me2*

        Sec0nding the Columbia brand with the silver lining, my lightweight puffy one (Omni-Shield) keeps me toasty warm on the coldest days.

        1. Kristen*

          I like Columbia jackets (have owned 4 or so since my early twenties), but I keep having zipper problems with them. My new jacket is from The North Face and I like it so far. Look for jackets that have a nice liner and are waterproof (Goretex is recommended, but usually raises the price).

          I’m from MN, so I know a bit about winter. A few years ago I bought boots by Baffin (a Canadian brand that also knows a bit about winter) after finding a website that prepares people for trips to Antarctica recommended the brand. It’s difficult finding good reviews of winter gear when you’re from a very cold place (the reviews by people where the lowest temps they see are closer to 30 F than -15 F aren’t exactly helpful). I’ve been pretty satisfied so far with the boots (the fit is the only thing I’d complain about). I like having two pairs of mittens. I like cute, knit mittens for everyday use (something with a soft liner, because I think wind would chill your hands otherwise with just the knitting). I also like having waterproof mittens for shoveling and removing snow from my car.

          Speaking of snow on the car: if you don’t already have a snow brush, get one early (before the forecast calls for snow) and put it in your car right away. Just when you think you won’t need it, a blizzard will come while you’re at work and you’ll wish you listened to me. Haha. And keep it in your car until June (if you remove it at all). If you’re not used to driving in the snow, remember accelerate slowly, turn slowly, drive slowly. The goal is to keep traction with the road. This is true even when you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. There’s nothing like being passed by a big 4-wheel drive truck and driving by them a few minutes later after they’ve gone in the ditch.

          Lastly, I hold this belief that it’s important to find things to do outside in the winter. Staying inside all winter is pretty depressing in my opinion. Winter mostly sucks, but there’s nothing like the calmness of winter either.

    4. Ruthie Rather Not*

      This may sound silly, but when you are cold, put on warm things like gloves, hat, scarf, etc. So many people are worried about looking silly, so they won’t wear them and then complain about the cold! There are so many cute options, there is no excuse for not wearing warm outerwear!

    5. Lexie Madison*

      (I’m not using my regular name for this one since I literally grew up next to Manchester) Manchester is a pretty great little city! It’s only an hour from Boston for when you want some city time, and also about an hour from the beach, mountains and lakes. The first winter might be rough, I’d recommend fleece-lined hats and gloves/mittens (unlined are useless in the wind) along with scarves and a warm water proof jacket! Also it’s not uncommon to lose power during snow storms, sometimes for days, so always be prepared with non-perishable food and water! If you have any Manchester specific questions ask away! Like I said, I lived in an adjacent town my entire childhood, went to high school in the city, and my parents still live there.

      1. Bea W*

        That reminds me! Don’t forget to keep a store of batteries, flashlights, and candles! Have a battery powered radio and fully charged power packs for your phone. I have a couple battery powered lanterns. They are easier to use and safer than candles and hurricane lamps. For extended periods without power, you can move some of your perishable foods outside in box/cooler to avoid losing them. Keep extra blankets handy as well. It will get cold af without power for heat. If you do not have gas cooking, you can warm things over a can of sterno or cook outside if you have a grill, not in the middle of a storm obviously but afterwards, while you wait for power to come back.

        If you have gas cooking and need morning coffee, get one of those one-cup coffee brewer things where you can pour hot water over coffee right into your mug. Life saving!

    6. Bea W*

      If you are taking your car, which is also from the south, make sure you have a set of good all-season tires and a battery that can handle freezing temperatures. These are the main issues my southern transplant friends have run into, having “summer tires” (This is a thing apparently. I assumed all tires made now were all-season!) and a battery that had to be jumped more often than not. You don’t need special snow tires or anything. Regular all-season tires are fine for Manchester. The northern states know how to treat and clear roads when it snows and have the equipment to get it done within hours.

      You will have to learn how to drive in winter conditions. The best advice overall is be cautious and steady, go as slowly as you feel comfortable going even when idiots around you are flying down the road. Approach turns slowly. If you skid (most likely when turning), steer gently in the direction you want to go. Do not jerk the wheel or make a hard turn. You will make it worse. Always give yourself extra distance to stop, and know what kind of brakes you have. This changes how you operate them in case of skidding or having to come to a quick stop on slick roads. If you have anti-lock brakes, you want to keep your foot on them as normal. Do not pump anti-lock brakes. The ABS does the pumping for you. You should only pump the brakes if you do not have ABS.

      Invest in a couple of good ice scrapers for your car and a snow brush with a telescoping handle. You will use the scrapers all the time, even if it is not snowing. Morning window frost is common. Keep a small shovel and a bag of kitty litter in your car. The kitty litter can be sprinkled by the wheels to give you traction if you find yourself stuck. The shovel is handy if you end up in a snow bank or otherwise have to remove snow from around the tires to give yourself a fighting chance.

      For the lovagawd clear the snow off your car completely, especially the ROOF. If it does not fly off the back and hit the car behind you, it will slide down in a huge chunk on your windshield and completely block your view. Clearing snow off your hood with prevent it from flying up on your windshield.

      Snow shovels, buy more than one, early in the season when they are in stock. Same for ice melt if you need to put it down yourself, and I will recommend having a bag on hand if you have someone doing the clearing for you. You might need to get down some stairs at your place before anyone has a chance to treat them. DO NOT wait until there’s a nor’easter headed up the coast because there’s a predictable panic run on shovels and ice melt. (Don’t ask me why! It’s a mystery!) After that you will be SOL. The same goes for groceries and gas. Never run so low on essentials that you’re forced to go to the store or a gas station right before a big storm. It’s a huge PIA. Yes, you need a shovel even if your landlord clears the snow for you. You will probably have to dig our your car, and you might want to leave your house before the landlord as a chance to dig out

      Invest in good practical, waterproof, warm boots. They should really come up past your ankles and you should feel comfortable and stable walking in them. Carry your regular/dress shoes to change into at work. I leave a pair of shoes at work also because I will forget to bring them with me. For icy walking conditions I love Yaktrax which slip over your shoes and give you traction on ice. If you have to walk much anywhere (I commute by walking/public transit) these are awesome!

      You will be warned about frost/freeze warnings as part of the weather forecast only once in the season, and that is when it happens for the first time. After that, it’s assumed to be a normal thing.

      In the fall (Late Sept/Oct) get out and see the leaves! Drive to the white mountains, enjoy some crisp fall air and hiking if that’s your thing.

      I keep a variety of hats/gloves/mittens/coats. You’ll want at least lighter lined jacket for fall and warmer winter days and a full on winter coat (hood recommended) for when the winter temps kick in. I have ski/snow sport type gloves and also mittens for shoveling snow and clearing my car so my hands stay dry. I have a couple pairs of warm mittens for super cold temps. I like mittens are better for going out in teens and sub-zero weather because your fingers will help keep each other warm. Do buy a few hats and scarves. I am chronically losing these things (and gloves!) or leaving them behind. I recommend always having a back-up, even if it’s some cheap extras to keep around specifically for this purpose. I find the combination of a hood pulled over a hat is the warmest for super cold (way below freezing) and windy days.

      If you have any need to check your phone outside in the cold, get gloves that work with touch screen or mittens that flip open. I do check my phone for bus and train tracking and alerts (and alternative routes) while I am out. If you are driving everywhere you might not find this essential.

      If you have ever wanted to try skiing, ice skating, snow tubing, etc NH has lots of great ski areas within a short drive. There will also be plenty of ice rinks locally. You can rent whatever equipment you need. In the summer for swimming and water fun, there are lots of lake beaches and resort areas, Lake Winnipesaukee being the largest and probably most well known vacation area, but tons of smaller lakes. Check out the “lakes region” just a bit north of you. A bit further north you have the White Mountains.

      New England states are small, and you can pretty much day trip to all of them from Manchester. You are also a short drive from Quebec. It is very easy to take a weekend road trip to Canada. Montreal is a popular weekend ski trip destination in the winter. The coast of Maine is beautiful and you can also visit Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by ferry.

      Other random things:
      Hot drinks – tea, hot chocolate, coffee, hot apple cider – soooo good when you come in from the cold!
      My nose runs like a leaky faucet in the cold weather. I bring tissue everywhere.
      Ice cream and iced coffee are year round foods.

      1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!*

        I second the extra tissues (and extra cold-weather accessories)! Everyone I know has this problem, with a runny nose from the cold. Even if you haven’t had this issue in the past, bring some for your first winter, just in case! It’s awful when you’ve just arrived someplace new and you have a runny nose and nothing to do about it.

        If you are prone to being cold anyway, I’d also recommend buying some thermal layering clothes, if you don’t have any. Something like long underwear (Under Armor is the most notable brand that comes to mind), where you can wear the thermal shirt under a sweater or something. I’d suggest planning to wear multiple layers until you get to a comfortable place with your temperature; that way, if you do get too warm inside, you can always take a layer off and still be legal 

      2. Kristen*

        I think you provided excellent advice, especially about driving. I forgot to mention in my post above the importance of braking early and slowly and knowing what type of brakes you have. Btw, is it weird that I miss my car without ABS brakes? The pulsating of ABS brakes freaks me out and I feel like I was better without it. Haha. In drivers training, I learned the squeeze method of braking (also called threshold braking apparently; done without ABS brakes) and became pretty good at it.

        Like Bea W. said, remove ALL of the snow from your car. Clear every window of snow and ice as well. Don’t be lazy about this.

      3. Artemesia*

        Two things you can buy with hand cranks — crank flashlight and crank radio. That way your car flashlight isn’t always out of batteries when you need it. They are not a real substitute for plug ins and battery flash lights, but when all else fails, you just crank them you have light or radio.

        Good waterproof and warm footwear. I have a pair of slip on Merrells that have some sort of insulation and work for me in my cold northern city unless the snow or slush is deep in which case I switch to my Merrell snow boots. If your feet are warm and dry and your hands are warm and your heat is warm i.e. good footgear, gloves and hat, you feel fine.

      4. Emily*

        Lots of good car advice! I would also recommend getting windshield wiper fluid that’s made specifically for cold weather.

        Maybe this is obvious to some people, but when I moved from North Carolina to western New York, my wiper fluid froze in the container because I didn’t realize I needed a different kind for the winter.

    7. Yetanother Jennifer*

      Welcome to New England! I’m in a small town further north, so some of this may not apply to the “big city.” Long underwear is going to be your friend that first fall and winter. I like tank tops from Cuddle Duds, especially the reversible ones, and I like anything silk to wear under pants. An extra underlayer will make all the difference. You’ll find better quality and true warmth technology in the sporty brands of outerwear: Columbia, Patagonia, Marmot, EMS, REI, Lands End, LL Bean… North Face is also good, but is an older status brand. Canada Goose is the current status brand, but it’s also high quality, and probably more than you need. A 3-in-one jacket with a zip out lining that can be worn on it’s own would be a handy first coat. (You’re about to own more coats than you ever thought possible.) Lightweight puffy jackets are popular. Boggs are great neoprene boots that can span the seasons and Great Storm is the just as good copycat brand. People up here also dress more casually than in the South. Lots of people look as though they’re about to go on a hike, and they often are. The best way to survive winter is to get out there. If you hibernate you’ll take longer to adjust to the cold and you won’t have as much fun. Same goes for summers, get out there and enjoy the warm sunshine when it lasts. Also, watch out for bright sunny days in the winter…those are deceptively cold because in your brain sunshine equals warm but there’s no clouds to hold in the heat.

      1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!*

        Also, if driving, the glare from the sun on the snow is INTENSE! Make sure you have sunglasses.

        1. NPG*

          Yes, when there is a super heavy snowfall and the sun come out it was be overpowering. You might think we’re crazy, but I use my sunglasses all the time in winter.

          Also, I don’t know about NH, but in NY it is a ticket able offense not to clean your car off of snow and ice. I think first offense is something like $300/$350. Every year there is at least one accident when flying snow from a car caused someone to go off-road or swerve into another car. Don’t risk being that person that causes an accident.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Gosh, yes to all this. Proper, waterproof, warm, lined boots and a good coat — both are WELL worth the investment of a couple hundred bucks. Target boots are useless. In really cold weather I like a longer coat — my bum gets freezing cold especially if I’m going to be sitting outside at all.

    8. all aboard the anon train*

      Definitely invest in a pair of L.L. Bean boots. I’ve known too many people who want cute or stylish boots and then have cold feet when they’re outside. Invest in some good wool socks, too. I have a bunch of SmartWool socks and tights and they’re my lifesaver when I’m walking to the subway. When it gets cold, no one cares what you look like so wear the warmest items you have. I layer up when I walk to work or the subway because even a few minutes outside in the wind and snow is bad.

      Are you moving to an apartment or buying a house? If it’s an apartment, make sure heat is included in the rent! Sometimes it’s not and if it’s an old building or one that uses oil heat it can run between $500-$800/month during winter.

      If you have a car, always keep some salt/dirt and an ice scraper in the car in case of snow. If you’re walking, be careful of black ice. I generally walk fast (the New England style lol), but I take extra time in winter. A normal 15 minute walk might take me 30 minutes because of the snow and ice.

      Snowstorms can mean losing power so always keep a charged flashlight, a lot of blankets, and some non-perishable food.

      1. Parenthetically*

        This reminds me of those grippy things you can buy to strap to your shoes to provide extra traction. I’ve never used them but I feel like they’d be a good addition.

        1. Mischa*

          YaxTracks! I don’t own any, but I am planning on getting a pair for icy winter runs. I’ve heard good things about them.

      2. msroboto*

        There is an L.L. Bean outlet north of Manchester right near Concord.
        There is a newer Bass Pro Shops near there as well. You might find some specialty outdoor items like gloves that are good for lower temps but might be more flexible because hey you’re still trying to fish / hunt temperature be damned.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Quechee Gorge in VT; Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA; White Mountains in NH. I haven’t done many day trips in a very long time, but those are off the top of my head. I’m in CT, but my parents lived in NH for about 20 years. My brother and one sister are there (Claremont area), as well as my niece.

      Since I’m now in mid-state CT, I find I need warmer winter clothes. I have a Land’s End down parka that I love for snow blowing. Very warm and cozy.

      I’m still searching for a pair of gloves that will actually keep my fingertips warms, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I like to get rag wool mittens and put them on over gloves if I have to be outside for a while.

      If you see people not turning their cars off when you run in to a store to get coffee or whatever, don’t shut yours off. It’s probably bitter cold and you may have difficulty restarting. (I shut my vehicle off with a minus 80 wind chill and there was no way that car would start again.)

      If there are warnings on the radio about bare skin, heed them. Do not attempt walking the rest of the way to work if your car fails to restart. (Yes, First hand experience. I think I got about 500 feet from my car and realized I had made a huge mistake.)

      If you have car trouble in a storm or in cold weather STAY with your car. It’s easier for rescues to find your car than it is to find you. (Yes, there are probably exceptions but you will know for sure if you are in a situation that is an exception.)

      Because winters can be tough and because some areas can be very isolated most people stop to help someone who has broken down or had a single car accident. Little things like a can of dry gas, or one of those tiny space age blankets can be very helpful. You’ll think of other things. I carry a tire inflator that runs off my car battery and a first aid kit.

      Overall have Plan B for everything. Car does not start, move to Plan B. Power goes out, move to Plan B, etc. Personally, I like to buy extra food staples at the beginning of winter. I set these things to one side so I don’t accidently use them up. This means I am not running to the store hours before a storm hits and dealing with crowds of people who are buying six weeks worth of food in one shopping trip.

    11. Sparkly Librarian*

      Oh, I had a similar question, about Michigan, so I’ll post below. (And I’m soaking up the pertinent info here.)

      1. Saturnalia*

        Yeah I just came to Boston from Utah, so I “know winter” (I’m positive I don’t actually know winter) and this is very relevant!

        /continues taking notes

    12. Nathaniel*

      Patagonia synthetics are very useful… The R1 pants and sweater will make you super comfortable at home. They also offer several products for layering and have a great reputation.

    13. Emmie*

      Practice driving in the snow. In the South, the whole city shuts down for a few inches. You’ll see 10 inches and Northern cities won’t shut down. When you move, ask about their snow removal. How fast does it get removed? What are you responsible for? It’s hardest driving in an active snowstorm. You’ll need to allow plenty of time to stop. Pump your brakes- test them out. Drive slowly.

      1. Kristen*

        Not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but since you touched on it: if you’re going to park in the street, learn about the parking rules when there’s a snow emergency (snow plows are actively removing snow from roadways).

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            And make sure it fits easily in your trunk. You may need it to shovel out when you are *not* at home.

            1. Special Snowflake*

              Never leave it in the trunk overnight though! Yes it’s a pain for people sitting in the backseat but having a shovel to shovel out the car does you no good if you have to first get through the 6-8 inches of snow on the top of your trunk. Car shovels should be accessed through a door you can open at all times.

              1. Kristen*

                This sounds kind of silly, but what you said reminds me of something I do. Before I open the car door to start my car and grab the snow brush, I sweep snow away from around my door with my mittened hand (near the crack around the top of the door mostly) to keep a pile of snow from falling right on my car seat. Maybe this is common sense and something everyone does.. not sure.

    14. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Make the trip to the LL Bean store in Maine, worth the trip. Learn to love wool, wear it (lambswool or merino) or silk against your skin in the winter, layers over that. Don’t wear cotton in winter, bulky cotton sweaters are a suckers game–they look cozy and don’t help at all.

      Get snow tires and have ’em put on in October, take ’em off in March or April, depending. Don’t live with all-seasons. They aren’t ALL season. Just budget for the snow tires and the changes and know they don’t last as long as regulars.

      If buying a place, see if you can get a blower test done on the home before buying. Insulation is more important than looks. Trust me.

      In the winter, you prefer a shorter driveway, trust me on this, too. Lots of people move to NH/VT thinking they want to be in the woods. The woods are great, I have lived there (am in a huge city for *my* work now) and have no trouble with the rougher aspects, but lots of people who have been neighbors to me have fallen for the ideal/fantasy when house hunting and not thought about the reality.

      In a perfect world, look at your prospective homes in the worst weather. Ice, glum rains, blazing hot days with a drought.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        PS: Don’t think a 4-wheel drive car will solve your winter or mud season troubles. I actually have never owned one. Have driven in lots of rough environments, though, just with chains on the tires.

        You can stick yourself EXTRA well with 4-wheel drive.

        If you travel up a bit towards VT, check out Farm-Way in Bradford VT for clothes and garden tools and have lunch at the Colatina in town. Or drive up 5 from there to Newbury and get lunch at the Village Store. They do good sandwiches.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed about 4wd vehicles. I had a well-known 4wd and when the 4wd failed, it was worse than a regular car. Even the 4wd when it was working was not that impressive. Maybe spring for studded snow tires instead. Just watch the calendar because they can be restricted use.

    15. JulieBulie*

      There are open-fingered gloves that have a mitten-like “hood” that flips over the top to cover up your fingers, but then you can flip the hood back to expose your fingers to use your phone or whatever.

      There are also mittens where you can flip the top on and off.

      Highly recommended.

    16. Sled Dog Mama*

      As a fellow southerner who has spent the last four winters in Cleveland I’ll echo what has been said about coats, hats, scarves and gloves. The biggest thing I had to get used to is that you must zip/button up the coat before leaving the house, none of this throwing it on and leaving it unzipped.
      Several companies make dressy wool socks, get some, wool socks are amazing. I’m currently in love with Darn Tough (made in Vermont) but Ibex, and Smartwool also make good socks.
      In addition to all-season tires for your car remember that you are going to need to wash it in the winter (otherwise the salt, sand and road treatment chemicals will build up and can damage the paint) so be on the alert for which car washes have an undercarriage wash included and which are heated, and consider doing an under coating on your vehicle to provide some extra protection.

    17. Former NH resident*

      I lived in Lincoln, NH for several years, up in the White Mountains, and loved it. Check out the Kancamagus Highway between Lincoln and North Conway for a beautiful scenic drive. Great all year but especially in the fall (although much more crowded then too). There are so many scenic drives up in the White Mountains, especially through the notches – my favorite was Franconia Notch between Lincoln and Littleton. The Mount Washington Auto Road is well worth doing, in my opinion. And if you don’t mind either a very long day or an overnight trip, head to the area in the very northern part of the state called Moose Alley, on route 3 from north of Pittsburg to the Canadian border – it’s as close to a guarantee as you’ll get to see moose if you go in the right season – I used to head up there yearly and once saw eight in an evening. Enjoy, I really miss living in New Hampshire.

    18. Belle di Vedremo*

      Lucky you! NH is gorgeous. You’ve got lots of good advice already, so I’ll add mostly warm/outdoor gear thoughts.

      Surviving winter climate:
      First, if you tell people there you’ve just moved up from the south you’ll get sympathy and some combination of accommodation and advice. It will help a lot to be moving this summer so you have the fall to begin adjusting. You can expect to be cold this year, as you adjust, it won’t be as bad the next. Generally folks in New England keep their homes & work places cooler in the winter than folks do in the south. You’ll figure out what you need to be comfortable where over time. And winter will seem to go on and on and on… spring comes much earlier in the south, and even having grown up in the northeast it was a shock to have to wait so long for spring after years in the mid south. You’ll be amazed at what temps feel “warm” by early spring.

      Layers. Layers are essential – with the caveat that you’ll likely want to be able to remove some indoors, so don’t rely solely on long underwear and tights. Eg, leg warmers have sorta come back into style/use, and you’ll want some.

      Wool, silk, and “technical” fibers are your friend, barring any allergies. Acrylic and even fleece won’t keep you as warm. Down coat for the coldest days, and probably a down comforter for your bed. Jackets and coats: partly it’s a question of preference, and partly a question of your cold tolerance. Second hand shops are a great resource, and are very common in New England. Start there, and see what works best for you at less than full retail prices. You can get Gore-tex and similar shells at second hand shops for great prices if you time it right; those are water proof and breathable, and a little bit warm. Get one big enough to wear over a sweater. New they are very pricey. You’ll want a coat or jacket for temps in the 40s-50s, especially if you’ll be returning home after dark. You’ll probably want another for temps around 25-40. And you’ll want at least one more that’s WARM. You want windproof most of the time, waterproof too if you can. For your regular winter coat, you’ll want one that comes down below your knees, and is down filled or equivalent. If you use a store’s “scale” for temperatures, remember that those are based on fit young men doing physical activity, not anyone standing or sitting around. Know that people in New England will mostly have coats for warmth and comfort so the standard for looks will start there. Most will have plenty of peeling to do on arriving indoors – coat, boots, hats/scarves/mitts.

      Hats/scarves/mittens/gloves: multiples of each, as you’ll be putting one set up to dry and reaching for another more often than you might expect.
      Hats will depend on what is comfortable and stays on your head. Wool knit shows up in a wide variety of options, wool felt will too. You won’t find many hats that are waterproof, though dense wool can be remarkably water resistant.
      Scarves will be under the coat/jacket, and fabric won’t matter as much here. I have a lot of fleece scarves, as well as wool, wool/silk blends, etc. They fill in the natural gaps between sweaters and coats, etc; without them you’re much more likely to get snow or sleet on your neck.
      Mittens & gloves: mittens are warmer because you have your fingers together instead of separated. I have fleece mittens and gloves for fall, wool for cold, and technical fabric with waterproof and windproof for *cold.* You’ll want to try them out; you want ones that will be warm enough and that will stay warm even if your hands are sweaty. I keep a couple pair of gloves or mittens in the car all year; little cotton ones for when the steering wheel is too hot to handle, fleece for when the temps are cooling off fast in the fall, wool and warm for the winter just in case. It’ll be harder to find these (hats/mitts/scarves) at second had shops.

      Boots. You want warm, lined, waterproof boots with treads that go up to your shins or higher. Ankle high boots pretty much mean wet ankles and feet if you’re walking in snow or shoveling out your car. Leg warmers: put them on, put on your boots, and have the leg warmers start over the boots and them come up onto your legs. Covers the gap that can let snow/sleet in, and makes a significant difference in how warm your legs stay.

      Socks. Warm socks make a world of difference. Wool, silk, technical fabrics. Cotton holds sweat and becomes cooling. Wool can hold heat even if wet.

      Bedding. You’ll want a warm comforter. You may want flannel sheets. I kept a fleece shawl to pull over my head on the coldest nights.

      Pets: if you have pets, they’ll be adjusting too. I recommend getting a couple of the pet beds that are fleecey with a heat reflecting interior that can be thrown in the washer and dryer. And don’t be surprised if you find them on the bed/under the comforter. If you have a dog, they now make little booties to help protect paws from ice/salt outdoors.

      Note that most winter gear will be on sale by Christmas and harder to find in stores by mid January, even tho it’ll be cold yet for another 6-8 weeks. We had significant snow storms where I am by mid November last year, so plan to be ready in early November.

      Get tourist info from NH and the other NE states! You can order it online and have it sent to your new home (so you don’t have to move it) and get general information to supplement what you’ll get here. States (other than Maine) are comparatively small, it’ll be easy to go visiting. It’s such a beautiful part of the country, and one that will look and feel pretty different from where you are now.

      Lastly, New Englanders are friendly but much more culturally self-contained than southerners. Everyone looks like an introvert at first, but it’s mostly a cultural difference.

      Good luck with the move, and enjoy your new place.

    19. D.W.*

      Hi— fellow southerner from Alabama here! I moved to NYC last year. Please get waterproof boots and a waterproof, warm coat! I don’t know if it’s windy up there, but also invest in a hat/earmuffs to protect your ears and head from the wind. I love LL Bean and Columbia.

    20. Cereal Killer*

      Welcome to New England! I’m a fellow southerner (GA native) who has lived in the Boston area for the past 10 years. I love NE and being so close to so many cool places to visit. Everyone above gave you some great advice on clothing. A couple winter survival tips that haven’t been mentioned yet (I think)…
      – There are lots of old houses here with old heating systems- including lots of houses that still use oil heat, which can be $$$ as the market raite for oil prices go up. It’s not always avoidable, but something to be aware of as you look at houses/apartments. I rent and will only rent places with oil heat if heat is included in my rent.
      – Also along the lines of heat and old houses is radiators- my first place had steam heat which was/can be noisy when it turns on. I slept with ear plugs in the winter.
      – Ask landlords or property managers about snow removal and who is responsible (as mentioned above). Don’t ask them about pest control! I asked my first landlord about frequency of pest control service because bugs are just a way of life in the south and have always had to deal with this. I think I scared my landlord into thinking I will be a difficult tenant that calls them for every ant or fly in my apartment. Turns out you don’t really need regular pest control service up here, unless you have an actual infestation.
      – The cold and snow were far less a shock to my system than the sun setting at 3pm in the winter. That is a hard transition to make. Some things that helped me is buying a natural daylight lamp for my home and scheduling regular activities for after work so I don’t have the urge to go to bed at 6pm every night!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Everything that has been said .Here is what I know.
        Wool, wool, wool. I am a Merino fan as I am very sensitive to itchy fabric.
        Layer- Cuddle duds for around 40 degrees and under, silk for dress up, Smartwool leggings and longsleave zip first layer.
        If you are buying place- gas fire place- I love mine.
        slippers. I like hafflingers for around the house.
        Heated seats in your car.

      2. teclatrans*

        Oh, the light! Definitely look into some full-spectrum lighting. I spent a winter in a far-northerly European country one year, and the late dawn/early dusk was the hardest (especially in Nov/Dec when it was mostly overcast).

    21. just another day*

      Snow tires are worth every penny, leave three times the stopping distance you think you need (especially during the first storm of the year – everyone has to re-learn how to drive in the snow again), and the underside of bridges and overpasses freeze first, so even if the roads are clear the bridge /overpass can be icy.

      1. just another day*

        One last thought:
        Early in the season it is so easy to sit back and appreciate how pretty the snow is and to work around any snow that is in the way / minor inconvenience, but by if you don’t move it during those early storms it’ll harden all the way through and you’ll be stuck with it until March/April, so the snow we get in November and December is definitely the time to get out there and not be lazy no matter how much Netflix and hot chocolate is calling you!

        1. just another day*

          (and it piles up and up and up and that minor inconvenience can eventually block walkways and doors and then you can’t get your car in the garage or the mail carrier won’t deliver your mail). Living in New England is mostly wonderful, but we basically spend all year living through winter or preparing for it.

      2. oldbiddy*

        Amen to snow tires. A front wheel drive sedan with a low center of gravity and snow tires will often fare better than a big SUV without snow tires. I’m from CA originally but now I live in an areas with hills and snow. I drove my old Camry for 5 winters using snow tires. No problems. When I replaced it I got a Subaru but still ended up opting to buy snow tires after the first storm.

      1. D.W.*

        Great advice! I’m in a building with central boiler heat and when the temps dropped below 70 I was freezing!! Our building doesn’t turn on the heat until the temp is below 60. Buy a space heater.

    22. Diluted_Tortoise_Shell*

      I moved from NC to Maine and got stuck there 3 years. I say stuck because hubby and I pretty much instantly wanted to move away, but couldn’t afford to for a few years. NE is very expensive compared to the south, even the coasts have much lower prices then up there. Winters weren’t a problem for us (wear layers and keep a blanket in the car) but the culture just wasn’t for us (He is from the midwest, I”m from the south). We are both very liberal atheists so were honestly surprised that we struggled in this way up there. The main struggle we had, is that NE has a very different approach to strangers. At least in Maine 9 out of 10 folks wanted absolutely nothing to do with us for the 1st year. It made for a lonely and challenging living. It’s also dark from 9am to 4pm for a large block of winter – that was honestly harder than the snow for us since we got practically no sunlight. It was not the time for me to learn that I am more dependent on the sun for my mood than the average person!

      I also had a bit more trouble with the culture, because for some reason the civil war/slavery got brought up a surprising amount (think someone hangs up after speaking with a customer with a southern accent and then the civil war/slavery/southerners are all idiotic bigots conversations would start up). It was very upsetting to constantly be torn down because of where I am from. Some workplace incidents were so bad (Portland, Maine) that I even turned folks into HR and they received warnings and diversity training. Eventually I just stopped trying to correct folks on their misconceptions – in their mind we were all hillbillies riding around with confederate flags and shotguns in our pick-up truck windows and that was that.

      I have heard good things about New Hamshire and Connecticut, that they are a bit more open to strangers compared to other places in New England. I also believe NH has much lower taxes then ME so hopefully that will help with the costs. Just be sure to research and budget, because food alone was a struggle for us in ME. Case in point I took a 10% pay cut to come to Missouri with hubby but my take home pay was 5% more because of the lower taxes and my disposable income went way, way up. Our grocery budget, rice, beans, mostly frozen fruit and veggies and some meat and fresh fruits/vegetables for 2 was $100 per week in Maine. $100 per week were we live now would cover prime rib, sea food, and organic fruit and veggies. Rent was also very expenses. We were dropping $800 per month to live above a methlab in one bedroom apt. Got a two bedroom down here in the revamped downtown for $600. Gas was just at $2.00 when we moved here, and we were paying $3.80 up there. Even state parks charged an entry fee in Maine, something I never saw in NC. If you want to spend the day hiking be prepared to drop a $40 entry fee, even more when we had out of state plates.

      1. KR*

        The state park thing in NH varies by state park but a lot of them have an entrance gate and then a back way in that you don’t pay. I lived in NH and rarely paid admission to any state park. NH has no income tax and no sales tax, but can have higher property taxes depending on your town. Rent is very high and it’s not a good market for renters.

      2. Red Arrow Diner*

        in their mind we were all hillbillies riding around with confederate flags and shotguns in our pick-up truck windows and that was that

        Wait, you’re not?

    23. NicoleK*

      Everyone has provided good tips for you already so I’ll only add one more suggestion. Make sure you don’t run out of windshield wiper fluid.

    24. another person*

      Second pair of pants for winter! That’s my key for really cold (Chicago) days when I have to be outside for a while (either walking dog or public transit waits). I look a little ridiculous, but honestly, even just throwing a pair of sweatpants on over my normal pants is a 1000x improvement in warmth levels (I mean, also with coat and scarves and hat). I can get to work and not be shivering for the next hour and instead actually get work done. I also recommend double gloves (I need gloves because I can’t walk the dog in mittens, which are supposedly warmer).
      Also puffy knee length coats are good. And thick scarves. Honestly, I can bundle up appropriately and not even be cold for half an hour of 0 degree (F) weather just fine. It’s the second pair of pants that does it and I recommend it 1000%.

      1. firebolt*

        Yes! I have a pair of pants that I wear over or instead of my regular pants just to make the walk to work. The first day I wore them, I wasn’t sure how well they worked–until I changed into just regular pants and walked across the street and felt the icy chill! If anything, they can be too warm (I wore them on a plane one time and suffered for that choice; I wouldn’t wear them indoors if there’s any heat). I’m sure there are options, but I have a pair from Uniqlo. They look like this but have the HEATTECH (doesn’t look like you can buy them right now, though). I’ve only tried the pants but they’re so great that I’d recommend anything from that collection.

        pants look like this: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women-leggings-pants-400549.html?dwvar_400549_size=SMA002&dwvar_400549_color=COL08&cgid=women-leggings-pants#start=2&cgid=women-leggings-pants

        HEATTECH collection: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women/heattech-collection

        I’ve been here five years and this last winter was the first year that I felt like I was completely satisfied with all my winter wardrobe items (partly because I didn’t have the money the first few years to get quality stuff). If you’re cold or uncomfortable, it’s probably your gear! Good luck!

  2. Anon for medical stuff*

    Yay got in early! I have a crooked toe problem and trying to decide if surgery is my best option. Basically, the third toe on my left foot is bent so that it swerves left and then back right, so it presses up against the second toe really hard to the point where the skin is constantly raw if I don’t wear bandaids around between them.

    I’m considering surgery, which the foot doctor said I would probably need at some point, sooner than I’d planned because I met my insurance deductible for the year already and wouldn’t have to pay for anything.

    Anybody have experience with similar issues or advice they could share? All is much appreciated!

    1. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I don’t have specific experience with this type of medical issue, but all I can say is that you shouldn’t live with constant/regular pain if you have a way (and the means) to fix it.

      I’ve had ankle surgery to fix something I thought “oh maybe I can live with this, do I realllly need to put myself through surgery”, and I don’t regret it one bit. You spend a lot of time on your feet, don’t force yourself to live with pain. Especially if it’s something the doctor says you’ll eventually need surgery for- that probably means it might get worse, fixing it now may mean you avoid a bigger procedure in the future.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        Thanks, it helps to hear from people who had more elective surgeries and don’t regret it! I’m mostly gritting my teeth at six weeks out of work, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

    2. Undine*

      It’s good to do it when you max out your deductible, but plan for some additional expense that insurance won’t cover.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        Good point! I’ll be sure to check with my insurance company on exactly what will be covered.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t have toe stuff, but in general something like this can have effects all the way up–it’ll change your gait, and over the long term it can affect your back. So surgery earlier than later might be worth considering on those grounds.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        Yeah, that’s my bigger concern. It doesn’t hurt constantly, and it’s not bad when it does, but I’m concerned about it getting worse (my grandma has several really bad hammer toes that cause a lot of pain, and doctor said she really can’t do surgery at this point. Hadn’t really thought of back issues, but that scary too and something I definitely want to avoid. Thanks for the suggestions!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You could check with a chiropractor to see if chiropractic will help. To save time/effort I would call and ask before making an appointment. You can frame it as, “Has the doctor had any experience with toes that are extremely crooked?” The answer you hear back should be a good, solid answer not a general, “Well, we can check you….”.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        My regular doctor (not the one I saw for my foot) also has a chiropractic office that I visit regularly, so I’ll ask about that next time I’m in. Appreciate the suggestion!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe it’s a long shot but I like to try the non-invasive stuff first. Good luck! You will have to let us know how it goes.

          1. Anon for medical stuff*

            I would definitely rather avoid surgery, but the hang up is that I would need to have it by the end of September at the latest, due to some other scheduling factors, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for experimenting :/ I’ll keep you post though!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Be sure to let the doc know the kind of time frame you are dealing with. He may shorten your learning curve on this one by telling you to go directly to surgery OR he may tell you that he can help you and he has had success with previous patients. A good chiro will tell you upfront.

    5. Cookie D'oh*

      My mom recently had surgery for a bunion and her second for was overlapping and laying on her big toe. The surgery too care of the bunion and straightened out the other toe.

      The first week she was in a cast up to her knee and had to use crutches and a knee scooter to get around. After that she got a boot and is able to get around better because she can walk by putting weight on her heel.

      She’s about 4 weeks into the six week recovery time and after that she gets physical therapy. She goes back in November for her other foot.

      She wishes she had gotten it done sooner than later. If you’re able to get the surgery and it’s covered by insurance, I would reccomended it.

      1. Trixie*

        I am contemplating bunion surgery but I’m not experiencing any real pain for discomfort. Just thinking corrective surgery is easier now than waiting. I think some folks get both feet done at the same time but maybe it depends on how severe the situation is.

        1. Cookie D'oh*

          My Mom’s situation was pretty bad. She’s a teacher and on her feet all day and was in as lot of pain at the end of the day. She’s on summer vacation now and should be healed up by the end of August.

          From seeing her, I think doing both feet at once would be difficult. I think you would need a wheelchair to get around. My Dad has some mobility issues himself so it would be difficult for him to help.

        2. Artemesia*

          Note that the magic word for insurance coverage is ‘pain’ as well as functional disability e.g. difficulty walking. Things that are not causing pain are often considered cosmetic and not covered.

      2. Anon for medical stuff*

        Ahh ick, recovery sounds not fun :( Walking is a pretty big part of my job, although I’m pretty sure my boss will be happy to give me s much desk work as he can to get me back sooner, but sounds like I’ll be out of work for quite a while. Best wishes for your Mom’s recovery!

    6. Andrea*

      Husband just had hammetoe surgery on his pinky toe two months ago. It caused him pain for years and he developed a bone spur on top of it-FUN!. With toes, the tendons and the bones can get out of whack and it only gets worse.

      His surgery was on a Wed. He was off his feet that weekend, seen on Monday and cleared to go back to work in a boot and with a cane. The healing is slow, but he now can see his foot not constantly hurting.

      Good luck.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My younger brother had a hammer toe. A horse stood on his foot. It miraculously fixed his hammer toe.

        I do not recommend this course of treatment, alas.

        1. Anon for medical stuff*

          Ha that’s hilarious! And way cheaper- if mine was arched up, I might give it a shot, but it’s more cockeyed sideways. Maybe I should try playing soccer or something.

      2. Anon for medical stuff*

        The worst part is that I walk 4-5 miles a day for my job, which means that I would be out of work for ages (or at least it would feel like that since I’m currently at my parents’ house) and I’m not looking forward to that part. But then it will be done!

    7. Sled Dog Mama*

      I had bi-lateral 3rd and 4th mallet toes and 5th hammer toes. I had surgery to correct them 12 years ago.
      If the joints are not yet frozen (meaning that if there is still any flexibility when you use your fingers to straighten out the toe) I’d explore non surgical options like splinting. I was stuck with surgery because by the time I saw the doctor for it my joints were frozen, they also ended up shortening my toes as one of the contributing factors was my very long toes, they were all the same length.
      The best thing I can tell you is the recovery varies. I had both feet done in the same surgery but one hurt considerably more than the other and swelled more.
      You totally should not have to live with this issue though so and I have never regretted having my surgery.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        I can straighten it with my fingers, but there’s kind of a lump that still cockeyed out the side that I think is bone. When I saw a doctor and had it x-rayed, she said I would need surgery at some point, sooner than later.

        1. Sled Dog Mama*

          It sounds like you need the surgery to deal with that bony lump. Could you schedule the surgery for as late as possible, do non surgical between now and then to minimize the joint issue and have your doctor only deal with the lump.

          Something I forgot in my previous comment is make sure you know what they are going to do in surgery, the solution for a mallet toe is to fuse the joint. Also my toes had pins that keep them straight as they healed (held both joints straight) because my doctor used bio absorbing pins rather than the removable kind it took several years for me to get full range of motion back in the unaffected joint which had an effect on my gait.

    8. Belle di Vedremo*

      Are you at all interested in medical care a bit off the beaten path? I’d look for a physical therapist (or even a massage therapist with the right training) who does manual therapy for soft tissue alignment issues. Sometimes surgery is the best option, but once things are cut you can’t go back. I’d try other things, first. I’d look for training in cranio-sacral therapy, myo-fascial release, or orthopedic massage. Most (not all, but most) medical doctors don’t have experience with this kind of work so don’t think to recommend it. PTs and massage therapists often do have this training; the PT is also licensed to do evaluations in ways massage therapists often aren’t. Access to PTs varies by state; some are allowed to see patients directly, some are allowed to see only patients with a prescription, sometimes they can see you for X appts before needing a prescription, etc. A PT is more likely to take your insurance, too.

      Had a frozen shoulder for which surgery was suggested; was told I could expect to be able to lift my arm up over my head but not straight up afterwards. I went the other route and have full rotation again.

      If the best answer is still surgery, you’ll know you checked out other options. Once things are cut, there’s no going back.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        I am interested in trying other things, but a little short on time since I need to schedule the surgery for mid September at the latest to ensure that most of the follow up care would also happen before the end of the year, which only gives me about six weeks to try other options, so it’s kind of a now or never thing with surgery, unfortunately. :(

  3. LazyCat*

    My husband and I put an offer on a house on Thursday, and got a counter offer this morning! (Minor, acceptable changes) Now I’m looking at the calendar and realizing our probable 7 day due diligence period includes his birthday and his sister’s visit from out of state, and kicking myself for not asking for ten days of due-diligence. Oh well, it’ll work if it had to!

    1. Anna*

      If you haven’t accepted/rejected the counter yet, you can add the 10 days as well and have the agent pass on the explanation.

      1. LazyCat*

        That’s what we ended up doing! (no answer yet) The sellers were openly flexible about the changes they’re requesting, so hopefully they’ll be open to this change too.

      1. Anna*

        That is where you have a home inspector come out and look for termites, code violations, leaky roofs, and other stuff that needs to be fixed. You make a counter offer after the inspection of things you want to be repaired prior to closing or if you want a price break.

    2. Sled Dog Mama*

      Glad you realized that. We’re in the middle of selling our house and because of how everything has worked out everything got signed late on Friday and the due diligence period included the weekend and a national holiday. Our buyers didn’t get some of their reports until three days after the end of the period (fortunately nothing came up soot was a non issue) but it’s not like they didn’t know when they submitted the offer Thursday night that the following Tuesday was a national holiday.

  4. Lynn*

    I generally only lurk on this website, but you all are so well informed I’m going to throw this out into the internet and see what comes back.

    My husband and I are under contract for a house purchase. A few weeks after the contract was ratified (and, of course, after we terminated our lease in anticipation of moving) we learned the seller has a reverse mortgage obligation that is 30k more than the sales price/appraisal price of the home. We’re being told that our contract is being submitted to HUD for approval, and a new appraisal will be done.

    My internet research this am suggests that a seller can owe no more than 95% of the home’s value in a reverse mortgage situation, so as long as this new appraisal is within a reasonable distance of the appraisal we had done by our mortgage bank.

    Anyone have any thoughts? Or insight as to how long it takes for HUD to review something like this? This is our first home purchase, and we feel pretty out of our depth for what our options are. All we know is that we probably aren’t actually closing on Monday!!

    1. Blue Anne*

      I haven’t done one of these myself, but I’m a little bit of a real estate investor and have seen a number of other people do them.

      Short sales can take a really long time to get approval from the lender. It is totally ridiculous that you weren’t told about this situation before you even looked at the house. If you end up out of pocket a lot on getting housing lined up, I’d be looking for the seller to cover that cost, frankly.

      You may want to post this question on the BiggerPockets forum. There are a ton of people there with very specific knowledge on this.

      1. Lynn*

        Thanks – I definitely will. It’s easy to find information on short sales, but less common when the shortness is due to a reverse mortgage and even less so when the seller entered into a contract first!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So it’s a short sale? If so, those can take months to get approved by the seller’s lender. Your agent should be explaining all this to you, and advising you on what to do!

  5. Hometown Bound?*

    I have to decide soon whether or not to move back to my hometown and…I’m really torn. I’ve been telling people I will be moving back this year and my family are all really excited. And I thought I was, too. Until I took a trip back to visit them.

    See, my family has problems. I am very different from them (I am liberal, they are conservative, I am middle class they are all deep in poverty – as was I growing up, they are religious and I’m not, so on and so forth). There are also some pretty unhealthy relationships. My mother lives with my grandparents to take care of them but she is deeply unhappy there but won’t leave because my grandfather is our Patriarch and has a strong hold on the family. I’m very close to him but I think our relationship would suffer if I was there, in person, for the same reason’s my mother’s relationship with him has. My sister suffers from severe mental illness and drug addiction and is homeless. My extended family isn’t much better.

    The thing is, I want to be part of their lives. I miss my mom and my sister and my grandparents and my nephew is growing up largely without knowing me. That is all why I decided to move back to my hometown despite 10 years of living away. But, I am worried about how I will handle all of this if I go back. I can distance myself from their troubles and the worry and stress it causes me by being physically distant. I live about 12 hours away and work keeps me from going back more than once or twice every two years. But if I am in town I’ll be expected to see everyone every few weeks.

    I just feel torn. I know I don’t want to stay in the town I live now but if I move somewhere else that isn’t my hometown, I feel like they’ll be disappointed and I’ll be letting them down. But if I move back to my hometown I worry I’ll be unhappy.

    1. CityMouse*

      For what it’s worth I don’t think you have to live in the same town as your family to be involved in their lives. I live on the other side of the country from my sister and we still talk on the phone multiple times a week and go on trips together. My nephew spent the summer with my parents and so they still spend time with him, even though he lives far away. I would also say I am very close to my aunts/uncles who I only saw 1-2 times a year when I was a kid. I still have relationships with them as an adult.

      I know a lot of people who actually have a better relationship with their families at a distance, and it kind of sounds like you are one of those people. Moving home could potentially damage your relationship with them if it becomes too much and you end up fighting with them.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        To be fair, I do talk to them regularly on the phone with the exception of my nephew. He was born deaf and so we cannot talk on the phone and he’s too young for texting, etc.

        I don’t think we would fight…I think it would just stress me out to an extreme degree.

          1. Paquita*

            Second this! If you don’t sign it’s a good time to learn. If he isn’t learning to sign that is a problem.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Can you move to a city that’s an hour or two drive away from them? Them you could visit on weekends but wouldn’t be quite so tied down to them.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        Unfortunately it is either that town or 6+ hours away. There is nothing else in any direction except farmland and desert.

        1. Turtlewings*

          I was thinking exactly what Junior Dev said, sad that it’s not exactly an option, but hey, 6 hours is still a lot closer than 12. You could still be available for serious emergencies, 3-day weekends, and much easier for planned visits. I’ve been at 6-hours-from-parents and am now at 12-hours-from-parents and the 6-hour distance was WAY easier to work with. It would be easy to say you couldn’t get a job any closer (heck, it might even be true).

          Fwiw, I really sympathize with your dilemma. I’m very close to my family and miss them a lot, and yet it’s a relief to be further away from all their drama, especially as we grow further apart politically.

          1. teclatrans*

            I used live 6 hours from family I am very fond of, and I was able to visit 4-5 times per year. (3-day weekends were too intense for round-trip solo drives, but 4-day weekends worked, YMMV.) I think you would see a major increase in your ability to be present in your family’s lives over living 12 hours away.

            I think your gut and other indicators are telling you not to move home, while wishful thinking is trying to paint over the cracks.

            Will you enjoy living and building a life (career, partner, family, if any of those are your goals) in your hometown on its own merits, or is family all it has to offer? Do you like who you are when you are with family? Do you have the tools to set good boundaries and not be drained by family dynamics? Could you really go 2-3 weeks without seeing family, or would they expect more from you? What roles will they try to draw you into, and how will you deal with that?

        2. nonegiven*

          My son is 7 hours away and his cousin is 5 hours away and they both visit more than twice a year.

    3. Bibliovore*

      Okay- we moved back to my husband’s home town to be closer to family. We are sucked into the all of the drama and are seen as the emergency fund for all monetary crisis. Go to six Alanon meetings to see if that program is for you. If you can, delay the moving decision until you have reasonable boundaries that you can live with. What caught my eye was this “if I move somewhere else that isn’t my hometown, I feel like they’ll be disappointed and I’ll be letting them down.” I know this sounds harsh but “so what?” Imagine what your life will be like back in the home town. Your drug addicted sister living on your couch and you supporting her. Your mother’s health failing and you care-taking your patriarch. Your extended family surrounding you with disapproval about every belief at odds with their own.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        No, I get it. It sounds miserable and I think it would be. But on the same hand: my mother is alone and struggling emotionally and physically with worry for my sister, care for my nephew and care of my grandparents. My grandparents are getting old and we’ll lose them one day probably sooner rather than later and my sister is literally homeless because no one else can take her in. This is my conflict: do I take care of the people that raised me and sacrifice my peace for their wellbeing as they did for me – or do I put my own sanity first and sacrifice them for my peace and wellbeing?

        I know to many people the answer would be obviously put myself and my health and sanity first, but I can’t help but feel horrible for that.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          Would you be OK with taking in your sister if you move? Since “no one else can take her in,” but you could, it sounds like you will be expected to provide for your sister. You should be comfortable with that, or willing to take on the conflict that could arise if you don’t take her in.

          1. Toxic Relative Survivor*

            Seriously, you need to step back and look at what you just wrote. OP’s sister is severely mentally ill, and you’re suggesting “would you be OK with taking in your sister if you move”? Due respect, but you need to think about the utter, unending Sisyphean hell that is living with someone who is that mentally ill. OP will never, ever get a respite if she does this. And outsiders like you who say, “oh, the ill person is family, you need to accommodate her” just don’t get it. Just because you’re family doesn’t mean you have to tolerate abuse.

            1. Julia*

              I don’t think that’s what Jerry meant. They asked if OP had a way of dealing with the expectation of taking sister in if OP moved closer.

            2. Jerry Vandesic*

              Slow down Toxic (very appropriate handle, BTW). The point is that others will be expecting the OP to take in the sister, and the OP will have to deal with that expectation. OP can deal with it by taking in the sister (not a good idea in my opinion, but I don’t think OP should move back in first place), or by dealing with the fallout from the family if OP doesn’t take her in. Neither are good options, which is why I would recommend not moving back.

        2. Undine*

          You likely can’t save them even if you sacrifice yourself. There are ways to help, and you are probably doing some of them. If it feels like it’s not enough, it’s because nothing will be enough. And you will never stop feeling guilty.

        3. Belle di Vedremo*

          What would an answer that puts yourself, your health, and your sanity first and then for what you can for them after that look like? It’s in the “put your own oxygen mask on first” category, which isn’t the same as “sacrificing them for my peace and wellbeing.” I can’t see a way to sacrifice yourself that is helpful to them in the long run; to be helpful you’ll need to be in good shape yourself.

          Have you thought about a consultation with a CPA with experience helping individuals looking at elder care and other family issues, to get ideas about pathways to take care of yourself while setting aside money for others in ways that are sustainable?

          Have you thought about a consult with someone with experience helping others through the kinds of concerns you have for your own family, and finding ways to walk with them, not for them? What kinds of things might be most helpful for your mom, for your sister, etc? Are you willing to house your sister for the rest of your lives? Are you willing to kick her out if you feel you have to? I see the second as a lot harder on both of you than helping her to an alternative in the first place.

          Your concerns are valid and important to consider, for your own wellbeing and that of those you love. Getting support and advice is smart, generous, and kind. Good for you for asking these questions, and good for your family, too.

          They raised you, and want the best for you.

        4. nonegiven*

          You can’t support the whole family. There is home health, assisted living, hospice. You don’t have to be the one providing all the care, you can help without getting sucked in.

          I have a cousin that has been on drugs so often, her own mother won’t let her visit for even a few minutes. Can you get your mother into alanon? You will have to draw a hard line with your sister and don’t let anyone push you over your line.

        5. Bibliovore*

          I hear what you are saying so…that is why the Alanon meetings. Just try six meetings. In my mid twenties, I was living in MY home town. I had no life of my own…caring for my baby niece, care-taking my drug addicted brother, care-taking my emotionally fragile mother, anxious, and depressed when I walked into those rooms for the first time. It did take six meetings before I understood that- I didn’t cause this situation, I can’t control this situation, and I can’t cure it.

        6. neverjaunty*

          You are weighting the question to make one answer (moving back) seem like the only moral choice. Ask yourself why you have to push so hard to make this seem like a good decision.

        7. teclatrans*

          Did they sacrifice their peace for your well-being? Did they make you feel like a burden? Do you feel like you got away to save yourself, but that was the selfish choice and now you have to go back and take up your burden?

          Those are all just stabs in the dark, but I agree with others that there may be some boundary issues at play.

          I think I can relate to some of your dilemma. My mom spent years looking after my grandmother while holding a full-time job, and they both involved lots of commute time. She is on her own and I am far away, and I sometimes felt guilty that I wasn’t more of a help. But she never laid a guilt trip on me, and I contributed when I visited. What helped was that she is an independent, capable woman and when things were too much, she looked into options (eldercare, hiring someone to come in for a couple of hours three times a week to clean and handle other light work, etc.) Are you in a position to help pay for that kind of support? If not, could living in the 6-hour location help you begin to meet a goal to get into that position? And if your mom and/or grandfather reject these solutions because it’s the daughter’s/granddaughters duty, then that’s on them, a choice they are making that’s rooted in patriarchy and possibly codependent — you are allowed to offer the help that keeps you sane, and set limits.

          One last point. I think the modernist emphasis on the individual can have some problematic aspects when it comes to the relationship of the individual to the collective. I think it is admirable that you are considering the needs of your lived ones, and it sounds like you have strong positive feelings for your family despite the issues that weigh on you. But you do not have to, in fact you just not, sacrifice yourself at the altar of family. That will eat you up, grind you down, and leave you struggling too. There is a description if sympathy vs. empathy that seems apt here — one is lying at the top of the hole and calling down to give comfort and help them climb out and/or get help, while the other is climbing down into the hole with them. From your description, it sounds like moving home would be climbing down into the pit with them?

        8. Toxic Relative Survivor*

          @Homeward Bound: your mother and other relatives *made a choice* to be where they are. Your life is yours. Being a family does NOT mean entering into a suicide pact.

          This decision should be an easy one. You have mentally ill family who are begging you to move to a hometown that, frankly, sounds isolated, without a lot of economic opportunity. Don’t kid yourself. You’re going to get sucked into their drama. You are NOT going to be able to rise above it. Mentally ill people have to WANT help.

          You are NOT going to maintain that middle-class lifestyle you mentioned above, because the economic opportunities are likely not there, and your skills will atrophy, and employers are NOT going to be forgiving about mentally ill relatives .

          You should not make this move. You know this (“it sounds miserable and I think it would be”), and people ’round these parts are unwilling to tell you so bluntly for fear of appearing rude or unkind or rocking the boat.

          You know how on pre-flight safety demos on airplanes they always say, “put on your oxygen mask first, then assist others.” That’s what you need to do here. It is NOT horrible to put your own well-being first. On the contrary, that honors the sacrifice that your family made to get you OUT of that environment. If you reinsert yourself into that environment, that sacrifice and your accomplishments until now will have been in vain. I implore you: don’t do this.

          I’d suggest you check out a book called TOXIC PARENTS by Susan Forward for a much lengthier treatment of issues like this.

    4. MissDissplaced*

      Run. Stay away. Or if you must, move to a large city within the region that is “close enough for holidays but far enough for everyday.”

      I’ve been there, done that. Remember why you left in the first place?

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        I wish there was a closer city that wasn’t there. That would be a good option but, as is, I’m in the nearest city and I’m nearly 12 hours away. Everything else is desert and farmland.

        Most of these issues have come up since I left. When I was there I was a lot like them. I changed after I left and I like who I am now but it means I don’t fit with them. But how do I not go back and help them when it is so clear they need help?

        1. WellRed*

          If these issues have cropped since you left, do you have any experience of daily life with an addict, one so bad she’s actually homeless? Ymmv, but expect heartbreak, frustration, manipulation, and money drain.

          1. Hometown Bound?*

            I do have that experience and, unfortunately (fortunately?) her homelessness is a result of her mental health issues – addiction came tertiary as a result of looking for ways to “cope.” Not that it changes the end situations which is a mentally unstable person, homeless and addicted to drugs, but….

            My heart breaks for her daily. My heart broke when I told her she couldn’t come live with me where I live now unless she was willing to immediately enter intensive treatment for both drug addiction and mental health care. I had to stop sending her money years ago because it never went where it was supposed to go. I know if I end up back there she will be my biggest hurdle. My grandparents I can manage – I just want to see them more before I lose them. My mother really just needs a little relief and I can help there (and goad the rest of the family in a way she can’t or won’t into helping more) and everyone else is easy enough to ignore.

            1. TL -*

              If she won’t go into therapy to live you with and get stable, she’s not going to get better because you’re closer, either. It’s unfortunate, but honestly, it sounds like the most you can do is offer support for the decisions to get healthier and you can do that just as well from 12 hrs away as 5 minutes away.

              1. Toxic Relative Survivor*

                ^One thousand times this. Your sister is a drowning person. Like many drowning people, they’ll clutch onto anything they can, including you. She’s a drowning person WHO WILL TRY TO TAKE YOU WITH HER. Don’t let that happen.

                You have ZERO moral obligation to let that happen. ZERO.

            2. Em*

              Do not discount that fact that offering to let her live with you while undergoing treatment is HUGE. AND SHE SAID NO. They need help, you want to help, but will they accept the help you are willing to give or will they insist on help that drains you and doesn’t get them out of their situations?

        2. Rebecca*

          I think you should stay away. Trying to help them will pull you down. There are agencies that can help with elder care. In PA, it’s the Office of the Aging. The grandparents could get a caseworker, and they can get help with care. You can’t fix your sister. She has issues well beyond your ability to care for her, and this is a terrible thing. Again, maybe you could help to find a caseworker, could she get into a group home, that type of thing?

          I’m not being heartless. Yes, it’s clear they need help, but I don’t think you are obligated to the the one providing the actual help. There are agencies who can address the issues, and maybe that’s how you can help the most, by getting the family members in contact with those people.

        3. MindoverMoneyChick*

          I can’t speak to all of the issues your family is facing, but here’s one thing I know for sure. There’s nothing you can do to truly help your sister with the addiction. You can pour all of yourself into her, and it will just drain you with no benefit to her. Maybe there is something you can do that would truly benefit your mom – it’s hard to tell. But think long and hard about that. If you trade your peace and sanity to help them, will it actually help them in a substantive way as opposed to making everyone feel better for the moment.

          You seem quite clear that this would be a sacrifice on your part, something you would do for the greater good, but at a personal loss. Make sure there really is a greater good to be gained.

    5. But first, coffee*

      My family and I are very similar to yours in terms of socio-economic status and political and religious beliefs.

      I actually did move back to my hometown a few years ago. It didn’t take me very long to realize that it was not a great move. I was deeply unhappy but kept trying to make everything work. I am one of those people who does have a better relationship with her family at a distance, and vice versa. I moved last year and I’m currently thriving in my new city (close to the distance you currently live).

      I’m not saying that moving back to your hometown would be a mistake; if anything, I think you should reflect on this carefully and take what CityHouse said into consideration. Moving 3 hours away where you can still visit on occasion may be a better option for you. But the one thing I want to point out is that you are concerned with disappointing them, which means you feel guilt about not fulfilling an expectation they have or that you think they have. That’s people pleasing, and it’s not a way to live. You have to make yourself a priority. Yes, it may involve slightly valuing yourself over your family but bending over backwards to cater to their needs and expectations will likely wear you down and make you unhappy.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        I know and I agree. It is a weird dynamic in our family. We are very much raised to always put The Family first. In everything. Always. At all times. It was a big break for me to move away – no one else ever has and I can tell when I talk to a few cousins they want to, but won’t. It has been 11 years now and I still feel that draw.

        1. But first, coffee*

          Good for you for being the one to make the leap! You aren’t responsible for the members of your family who choose what they choose. You are responsible for yourself, and you can make decisions for yourself. I imagine that your family was probably hurt when you did move away. Maybe someone or several people tried to guilt trip you or said things that made you feel guilty shortly after you did move. But at the end of the day, they are your family and they will love you no matter what decisions you make. I mean, you wouldn’t stop caring about someone in your family for a decision you didn’t agree with, would you?

          1. Hometown Bound?*

            The guilt didn’t come when I first moved away. I first moved for college and I was the first in my family to attend so there was a lot of pride/pressure to succeed. The guilt came when I didn’t return after college.

        2. Toxic Relative Survivor*

          So you have to decide what’s more important: tradition, or your own well being.

          At the risk of an armchair diagnosis, some people in this situation (“put The Family first”) may be suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s not uncommon for people with NPD to suffer from other mental illnesses as well.

          While it’s said that mental illness is not contagious, I actually disagree in many ways. I can’t pin this one on science; call it my one faith-based initiative. But you would not move into a house with live Ebola patients; so you shouldn’t move into a house with live NPD patients, either. “Family” does not mean “suicide pact.”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes when we are not there to see the day-to-day we can tend to idealize what living nearby would be like. Use that trip back as a reality check.

      You can be a part of their lives with the phone and Skype. You can have your nephew come stay with you for a week during the summer.

      While it is true that they will feel let down if you chose not to move, please consider the ways that they have let you down. A big one was your need to move away in the first place.

      If your goal is to see them every few weeks you can make more of a point to call them or email them. They are who they are and they are not likely to change. You are who you are and it’s reasonable to think that they will expect you to change.

    7. Liz*

      Run. Spend the money to have the neice’s and nephews visit you. It will open their eyes to what is possible. And visit more, but don’t live there. Usually I don’t give adcice this so strongly, it is your life, but find other ways to be in their lives.

      Read Hillbilly Elegy. Support them from a distance and be the role model the author of this book never had.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        Man I wish my nephew could come stay with me. That would take out a lot of the guilt I feel. I feel like he’s some innocent in this family of chaos and I’m not there to provide some stability. Unfortunately due to a nasty custody situation he cannot leave the state and I live out of state.

        Thanks for the recommendation to read the book – I’ll pick it up.

        1. TootsNYC*

          He cannot leave the state even for a visit? That seems weird.
          If you want him to come for a one-week vacation (or two-week), look into pushing back on that. I can’t believe the courts wouldn’t allow it.

          Or, if he can’t, then arrange to spend that same time with him, but visit some other city in his state. My best friend takes her nie-phews on trips to other cities.

          1. Hometown Bound?*

            Yea it is a really complex and ugly situation involving multiple levels of custody disputes and state appointed guardians. Things got ugly really quickly and given that neither of his parents are at all qualified to raise children, they never really got better.

            1. TootsNYC*

              He’s 11–very, very soon it’s going to become a very compelling argument that this restriction is grossly unfair –to him–.

              He is a human being who is being hampered by restrictions on HIS movement. I can’t believe a state-appointed guardian–especially one whose role is to advocate FOR HIM (as opposed to for his parents, or grandparents, etc.)–couldn’t make that case.

              Age 12 is often a time when judges start to pay attention to a child’s wishes (as opposed to his guardians’). And a wish on his part for a VISIT out of state could be argued as having a far lower stake than permanent residency or custody.
              And the older your nephew gets, the more he will be able to argue in front of a judge for what HE wants, and against the restrictions this ruling places on HIS choices for HIS life. (A summer spent with you at age 16–working, perhaps? bagging groceries at the local grocery store in YOUR neighborhood?–could provide him with a huge boost to get away from the dysfunction and to see how the rest of the world works. If he had a plan like that, I can’t see how the courts coudl argue against him. Note: him, not you, not parents or grandparents. Him. This is his life, and restricting his travel is something he’ll be able to increasingly argue against as unfair to HIM.)

              If you move back, you won’t be able to provide that sort of stability, alternate-relative surroundings.

              Just something to think about.
              And of course, maybe you can go on vacation in-state! It would still be a concentrated dose of time with you to build that relationship.

        2. neverjaunty*

          If you’re there, you will not be proving stability. You will be sucked into the drama and miserable. You will be a living example to your nephew that there is no way out; even you, the one who got away, came back. You will not be able to have texts or chats from Somewhere Else and you will not have a place he can go visit.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. There are more of them than there are of you. The odds are stacked against you.

          2. Toxic Relative Survivor*

            +1111111. If there’s truly no way out of the guardianship situation now (I’m mildly skeptical, but what do I know), have him come to you the instant he turns 18.

        3. Perse's Mom*

          From the sound of it, there’s not much of anything you can do for the vast majority of your family – addicts need to WANT help (you offered, she decline), you can’t cure their poverty by beggaring yourself, and unless you convince your mother to move in with you in your current town, you can’t alter her situation enough to significantly ease her burden.

          On the other hand, have you considered or explored the possibility of trying to gain custody of your nephew yourself? If neither of his parents are considered qualified by the state, perhaps the state would be happy to have a close relative who lives well outside of and away from the ugly situation raise him?

          It would maybe complicate relationships with other members of the family (though some of them might be grateful, too!), but it sounds like you’re pretty well immunized from all but the guilt simply by being so far away, and it would benefit your nephew SO MUCH to be with someone who loves him and prioritizes his well being and can provide for him.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            This might work out well for the nephew–if it’s also truly workable for you, Homeward Bound. Maybe a good social worker or family lawyer can advise you re what to expect, how to prepare for it, and maybe even whether there’s any financial help available…?
            Perhaps it would give your relatives (other than the nephew’s father) some comfort to know that he is with family rather than strangers…but I could be way off the mark here. All I know about addiction is that it can produce badly tangled thinking. (So can depression.)
            I also want to send you good wishes, and to second Perse’s Mom’s comment that “you can’t cure their poverty by beggaring yourself.” I would add that this should mean both financially and emotionally beggaring yourself. You can’t destroy yourself trying to save other people.

    8. As if*

      I used to live on the other side of the country from my family. It was too far. I now live about 2.5 hours away and it works well. I can drive over for the day, and I do so about once a month. But I’m far enough away to avoid the drama.

      I also second the suggestion for boundary setting. I used EAP through work for a few sessions with a therapist to help me process what boundaries I needed, and strategies for enforcing them.

      It’s hard to be away from family, but I hope these responses encourage you to think of alternatives to hometown vs. 12 hours away.

    9. Nynaeve*

      1. Aside from your family situation, do you like your hometown? What are the work opportunities like? Do you like the neighborhoods? Does it have the types of entertainment and shopping options you prefer?

      2. In an ideal world where you get to choose, how much contact, and what kinds of contact, do YOU want with your family? It sounds like you want more contact than you have now. What do you miss? Parties and get-togethers? Conversations? Hanging out? Updates on family news? Maybe you could send postcards or schedule calls every couple of weeks. Maybe find a new job that would allow you to attend more of the reunions. Maybe host a picnic at a park halfway between your respective cities, if transportation would be feasible for them.

      It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Compromise is a part of life. Just don’t feel like you have to be the only one doing the compromising.

      1. Toxic Relative Survivor*

        “It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Compromise is a part of life. Just don’t feel like you have to be the only one doing the compromising”

        With due respect, “compromise is a part of life” is wonderful if you have a normal family. With mentally ill relatives, it’s quite different (and really, in all honesty I wish you’d bone up on what survivors of toxic family situations go through before you offer platitudes like this). No contact or very little contact — not “compromise” — is often the best solution in these cases.

        And if likes her current job, she should DEFINITELY not be “finding a new job” to inject herself into the drama.

        OP, you ESCAPED from this situation. You have nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, that’s something to be PROUD of.

    10. Sam Foster*

      What am I missing? I see nothing compelling about your family that you would want to spend time with them. I understand if you are missing intimate bonds to worthwhile people but you should find those elsewhere instead of hoping your family can be that.

      Regardless, you’re already unhappy even considering this, it’ll only get worse from here if you choose to pursue it.

    11. Temperance*

      What do YOU want to do? This doesn’t sound like something that will make you happy, just something you might do out of guilt.

      What are your career prospects there? Will you be forced to become a caregiver? Will you have opportunities for friendships and romantic relationships there?

    12. Nana*

      One thing I find helpful is to sit down, calm down…and try to picture your life in five years. Where would you like to be, both physically and emotionally, at that time. What kind of relationship would you like to have with them in five years? How much responsibility (physical, emotional, financial)?

    13. nonegiven*

      You have to live where you can work. If you want to be closer but you’re afraid of getting too close, look for work in a larger city that’s close enough you can visit more often but not so close that you have to visit every weekend.

      My son thinks he has just the right distance. He comes up for 3 day weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas. He isn’t really close enough to drive up every weekend, it would be have dinner, hang out, go to bed, get up, have breakfast and get back on the road. Not really worth the trip.

    14. buzzbattlecat*

      Captain Awkward has some wonderful, detailed advice about boundaries, families and self care.

    15. Peanut*

      Hometown Bound, I have read through the 38 comments, from others (100% against your moving back home) and your responses, and it struck me that perhaps you are seeing a return home as being greeted with thanks and praise by your family.

      You sound sure that you will be personally unhappy if you return; you also sound like you think that is an acceptable sacrifice, in order to exchange their guilt trips on you for their approval.

      Listen carefully, Hometown Bound: no matter what choice you make, it will never be the right one for your family. You will never be doing enough. You could give and give, and they will still want more.

      Don’t believe me? Try this: instead of moving back home, for one year just live the 6 hours away. You have halved your distance to them, so double your usual number of visits. Heck, triple them or more – visit home once or twice every two months, instead of every two years. Is your increased engagement with your family greeted with thanks and happiness? I think it won’t be, and that instead you’ll get deep sighs and, “if only you could be around all the time.”

      Moving back home will not make them happy and satisfied. It will only make you unhappier.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        I actually don’t think there will be anything like thanks and praise. That simply isn’t how we operate. But I think I would feel less guilty because at least I’d be there? Trying to help?

        1. Bibliovore*

          So the question is…why the crippling guilt? Why do you think you are the one who can “fix” this situation? Your super power seems to be empathy. Can you take vacation time and give your mom respite from caretaking? Can you throw some money at the situation? How old is the nephew? Can you set up a fund to help with his health and educational needs?

        2. Bagpuss*

          I can understand the impulse, but like others, I think you would be sacrificing your own peace of mind and happiness and in a ll probability, you wouldn’t significantly improve things for other family members.
          Also, bear in mind that as things stand (and also if you move to the 6 hour distant city) you are setting an example for your younger family members. You are showing them that there is a way out of the poverty and other issues, that it is possible to succeed and move on. I think that’s a valuable thing.

          I don’t see anything in your posts saying that you want to go back, just that you feel you should. I think that there is a real risk that if you do move back, you are going to end up feeling resentful and unhappy because you’ve sacrificed yourself , and even if your family have not explicitly asked you to go back, you’re likely to feel resentful of them because they are why you moved.

          I’d suggest that you move to the nearer city so you can visit more frequently, but don’t move back to your old hometown.

          Consider whether there ware things you can do to help your family, as you clearly feel that you should – this might involve (for instance) paying for help such as respite care or cleaning, to give you Mom a break, or allow her to visit you (and if necessary supporting her to encourage your grandfather to allow her to accept that help), inviting relatives to visit you. (If you move to the 6 hours away city, would that be in state?)

          You were unhappy going back for a visit. Don’t put yourself in the position of moving back full time,. It won’t get better.

      2. Toxic Relative Survivor*

        “Listen carefully, Hometown Bound: no matter what choice you make, it will never be the right one for your family. You will never be doing enough. You could give and give, and they will still want more.”

        Bingo. This is absolutely how narcissists operate.

    16. Anonymous Prostate*

      I, too, read all the comments here. I do not mean to “pile on”, but it feels like you need support for not moving back. I think you really don’t need help deciding whether or not to move back. You need help coping with the guilt you’re feeling about deciding not to move back.

      Trying to be objective:

      – if you move back, you will not be enhancing your ability to help them.

      – if you move back, you’ll be unhappy. Perhaps profoundly unhappy. Belle De Vedremo mentioned putting on your own oxygen mask first. I believe that is a completely apt metaphor.

      – You mentioned that moving back might damage your close relationship with your grandfather. Frankly, this alone would count as a very good reason to not move back.

      I think I understand your sense of obligation to your family – I’ve been shocked to see how casually some people will cut off a relative over something trivial. But that is not the case here with you.

      Honestly? I think you need to find a friend or counselor who will help you deal with the guilt that is being dumped on you. And perhaps this friend can help you develop an effective plan for you to help your family that does not require your unhappiness.

      Again: you’ve asked whether or not to move back, but I think the answer is a fairly obvious “no”. I think the real issue is that you need support for making a correct but unpopular decision.

      Good luck with this.

      1. Windchime*

        Counseling is a great idea. I have a family situation that is very similar to yours, HB. I have a mentally ill, drug-addicted sister, another sister who has been sponging off our elderly parents for years, and a drug-addicted nephew who is in and out of jail, steals, lies, punches holes in walls, and doesn’t see or support his preschool children. It’s a huge mess. I used to try to help with money, support, listening to the endless sad stories and excuses on the phone, etc. But not any more.

        There isn’t enough love or money in the world to fix this problem. If love were enough to fix my sister or my nephew, they’d have been fixed long ago. If money were enough, they’d all be stable and working and contributing to society. I realized that parts of my family are like drowning people who are compelled to stay in the deep water; if I go out to try to save them, I will be pulled under as well. And because the constant drama of being around people like this is so exhausting, it’s possible that I would be of no help shortly after arriving.

        I understand the feelings of guilt. I struggle with it daily. But as others have said, maybe your way of helping will be to make arrangements for social services or treatment or whatever. But no matter how much love and money you pour into this situation, it will never be enough. And that’s a sad truth.

  6. Ruthie Rather Not*

    We have to put a new roof on our house and I’m feeling so bummed that we can’t use that money for something more fun – like upgrading our kitchen or bathroom. Anyone have any tips on how not to be resentful about things that have to get done?

    1. self employed*

      Sounds silly, but reframe it with gratitude. I’m grateful I have the money to put on a new roof! Yes, it would be more fun to do something else, but it would be worse to go into debt for it…

      1. Bibliovore*

        yes. often my list of gratitudes consist of –
        I have a roof over my head
        food in the fridge
        and clean clothes to wear

        1. nep*

          Amen. Same. I say every day — hey, I woke up and I’m getting around fine. House. Food. Grateful.

      2. TootsNYC*

        in that list of things to be grateful for:

        Be grateful that you found out about fixing the roof now, and not later when the roof beams and ceiling beams had rotted.

        And one last thing: You can’t slap a new coat of paint on a roof and fix what’s wrong with it. And few of us can do the repairs to a roof ourselves.

        But you can freshen the bathroom w/ new paint or new fixture, and a kitchen with new appliances or a new set of kitchen towels.

        Some people can even learn how to set tile themselves, and do a new backsplash, a new floor, or maybe even their entire bathroom.

        1. Nx*

          My sweetie taught himself to lay tile through research online and YouTube videos. A lot of how-to stuff is more accessible than ever before.

    2. blackcat*

      I’m still upset about spending 5k on a sill plate. At least a roof is something you can look at….

      So, no, no tips. Just commiseration.

        1. blackcat*

          No, that’s the cost of having the house put up on jacks, a giant, rotted, giant piece of wood taken out, a bit of foundation repair, a new, giant piece of wood put in, and better drainage done around that side of the house to avoid a recurrence of the problem.

          Most of the costs was labor (carpenter, masons), and that was a level of home repair that we really needed experts. It actually wasn’t that bad compared to some prices I saw online.

          1. fposte*

            Aha. I figured it probably was a domino-effect thing, but I didn’t realize that “sill plate” was the technical term for that big ol’ horizontal piece of framing. That makes more sense.

    3. Thlayli*

      My husband once said to me when I was freakin’ about house stuff “it is not in the nature of a house to ever be finished”. When I was freaking about wedding stuff he said “its in the nature of a wedding for things to go wrong”.

      I can’t really articulate why but for some reason Both of those things made me stress far less.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s the change in expectations.

        Houses break.
        Cars break.
        Weddings have things go wrong.

        When we change our expectations to include what really does happen, instead of looking at some ideal, we can let go of that ideal easier.

        My husband was a techie. He said when you buy a machine LOOK around first to see who will be repairing it. Machines break, that is what they do. It’s nice to have a good machine, but it’s critical to have a good repair person/department. I loved this because like you are saying here, I calmed right down about making major purchases.

        1. fposte*

          This is so true, and so hard to internalize. I think it’s also really easy also to assume that “perfect” is the general norm so that we’re being particularly hard done by to deal with imperfection, when in reality nobody’s experience is flawless.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Am chuckling. Sometimes I think all of life is a test, “How well do you handle it when things do not go the way they should?”

    4. danr*

      For the roof, think of all the rain that won’t be dripping or pouring into the house. It’s a grin and bear it situation. You’ll do the other renovations next year. :)

    5. Mela*

      Do you plan on selling in the next 10 years? Resale value? Knowing it’s done and it’ll be good to go for the next 20+ years?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I hope this helps.

      I live in a 180 school house. School houses are famous for being slapped together and having all kinds of problems later on. My poor school house needed all kinds of help. So much so I did not know how to prioritize the work.

      My friend, who is contractor, had this pearl: There is a hierarchy, pecking order to repairing homes. You start with the foundation, make sure it is solid and make sure the beams under the house are solid. This is because there is no point to remodeling anything if the house is shifting around because of a bad foundation.

      Then you go to the roof. This is because there is absolutely no point in doing inside repairs/renovations if you have rain coming in on the new work. He also braced the roof in places that it needed help.

      We can’t see money we did not waste. If you repaired the bathroom and later found it raining in the bathroom you would realize how much money just got wasted on the repair. Take pride in knowing that future renovations are protected by a good roof.

      Your contractor should be able to tell you how long the roof will last, 25 years? maybe longer. And there should be a warranty on the work. So if you have a problem within a year you can get it repaired for free. If you do have a problem BE SURE to call him back. This is part of how you get the most value for your dollars spent.

      If you think of house repair as a check list and think of it as working down a check list it might make things easier for you.

    7. Gaia*

      Well, if you spent the money on a kitchen instead of a roof, think of how ruined your fancy new kitchen would be when the roof failed?

    8. kms1025*

      Look at it this way…if you did your kitchen, or any other interior makeover, your bad roof would ruin it. You’ve got to secure the outside before you can improve the inside.

    9. TootsNYC*

      If you ever sell, you can say, “new roof!” Which could translate into a higher price, or a faster sale.

      And remember that you are preserving the integrity of the structure itself. So it’s like you’re taking care of a serious health problem, but not buying jewelry.

    10. TootsNYC*

      Can you find something inexpensive but fun to do in either of those rooms?

      A fresh coat of paint, maybe in a new color, or new kitchen towels?
      Something that -seems- splurgy but isn’t?

      Or something low-level splurgy? Like a new backsplash, or an inexpensive but not-dinged counter?

    11. Ruthie Rather Not*

      Thank you all for the great advice. Shifting perspective helps, and a little splurge to freshen up the rest will help too!

    12. Lady Bug*

      When I had to get a new oil burner, I took pictures of it and demanded my friends tell me it was pretty. I also made a few look at it when they visited to tell me it was pretty. At least you can see a roof when you are outside. Go up and hang out on it once and awhile (if its one story). It’ll be a new outdoor space!

      1. TootsNYC*

        Bonus: Some of your friends may need the information or background you provide.

        But yes, treat it like the major achievement it is–something to be proud of.
        Look at you–you are like 1950s homeowners!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Your oil burner is GORGEOUS! Wow. What a great oil burner! ;)

        I just got a new one too. Yeah. I had to put in a new chimney liner… then I found the oil tank was leaning….
        You know what, I have a GORGEOUS oil burner also! ha! It’s going to reduce my heating costs by 40%. This will be my oil burner’s Christmas present to me every year.

  7. This too shall pass*

    So I have been diagnosed with shingles. It was caught early. The meds worked but I still have debilitating pain. The medical advice is to take pain meds and avoid stress. So the weekend is sitting on the porch reading the new Michael Connelly and AAM.
    Big work stuff coming up next week. Trying to stay in today. Any light netflix or hulu recommendations? I like tv shows like law and order and ncis, but not criminal minds. I like science fiction but don’t have the patience or attention span to catch up on Dr. Who. I loved shows like Eureka and Warehouse 13. Is there anything new like those shows or old that I might have missed.

    1. CityMouse*

      Stargate SG1 – occasionally dark, but often a more fun Sci-Fi show. The tone is significantly different from the movie it’s a spinoff of, you might consider just reading the plot of it on Wikipedia. A lot of “planet of the week” episodes.
      Dark Matter – against sometimes dark, but mostly fun science fiction show about a group of people who wake up on a spaceship having lost their memories.

      Psych – People are pretty divided on this, you either find the main character annoying or not. But a very silly mystery show.
      Death in Paradise – Very light fluffy BBC murder mystery series that takes place in the Caribbean.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Atlantis is a bit less intimidating than SG1 since it’s only 5 seasons of 20 episodes each.

          1. Bibliovore*

            Stargate is right on the money. I have seen them all years ago but might be just what I need for short attention span and distraction

          2. CityMouse*

            True, I’d just be slightly concerned that it relies on a bit too much knowledge of SG1. But I do enjoy that show.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Ooh, seconding this!
        Also Brooklyn-99, which is on Hulu. Cop show, very light-hearted and funny, can be surprisingly deep. I think of it as “Scrubs for cops.”

      2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

        It took me 3 episodes to get into the swing of miss fisher, but then I loved it. I can’t wait for the movies :)

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Sliders is an old 90s show that is fun. It’s about a group of people who end up transporting themselves to alternate universes, but they are always in San Francisco in the same year. There’s one where the US never got independence and one where Germany won WW2 and all sorts of other ‘what if’ type situations.

      Bones is pretty similar tone-wise to NCIS. Mysteries of Laura was also a good, if short-lived, detective show.

    3. Rebecca*

      Love Michael Connelly! I’ve listened to the entire Bosch series (plus the Mickey Haller and Terry McCaleb books), and am more than half done with “The Late Show”. There’s a new Bosch novel coming out in October, BTW. Have you tried John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series?

      1. Bibliovore*

        I don’t read a lot of “non-work” material. My go to are dog mysteries- I started with Susan Conant. Loved Carol Lea Benjamin. I look forward to every Chet and Bernie mysteries. Also David Rosenvelt.

    4. Awkward Interviewee*

      White Collar and The Grinder are on Netflix and have a crime/law theme with comedic twists.

    5. LNLN*

      Dectectorists, Schitt’s Creek, Dramaworld are all funny shows. River and Occupied are both dramas but very absorbing.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I loved Occupied (on Netflix in US), but I wouldn’t consider it light… BUT, if you political intrigue/drama and don’t mind subtitles (its a Norwegian show), I think it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen.

      1. Saturnalia*

        Ohhh the star trek tv shows! I rewatch TNG and DS9 to death. I find them visually/auditorally soothing, and with TNG you get the extra bonus of a hopeful future, where it’s just a given that humans are always trying to be their best selves. That is refreshing.

        My other recs are Master of None on Netflix, which has decent social commentary from a millenials perspective, and The Good Place on Hulu, which is better than I expected, just very light and clever humor.

    6. Requisite*

      Leverage appears to be on Hulu (I’m not in the US so I have the DVD box set), and it’s one of my favourite shows. A team of bad guys become the good guys, fighting corporate injustice and helping people. It’s a lot of fun.

      1. Chameleon*

        Second Leverage! It is a really fun show. Also, Agent Carter and Agents of Shield are a lot of fun (but I wish the writers would give FitzSimmons a break already)

      2. gingerblue*

        Leverage is officially The Best.

        This Too Shall Pass, if you’re up for animated stuff, Steven Universe is SF and both light and fun and much chewier than it seems at first. Episodes are only half of a normal 30-min slot, so they’re great for when your attention span is low.

    7. MommaCat*

      The Librarians is awesome, and only 3 seasons. Librarians working to keep magical items out of the hands of the general populace.

    8. Sled Dog Mama*

      Not that you asked about this but are you able to get lidocaine patches for the pain? There are prescription ones and you can also get OTC. When I was recovering from my last bout of shingles (yep I’ve had it multiple times) those were a life saver in helping to keep the pain manageable.

      I love SG1 and never could get into Atlantis. If you can deal with a show that ends on a cliff hanger I really liked Stargate Universe.

      1. This too shall pass*

        I have 4% lidocaine cream and another formulation of gel. And prescription NSAID. The pain is an interior band behind my bellybutton and stretches around to my lower back. On the pain scale of constant distraction and annoyance, a 5 when I do the meds, an 8 and half when they run out. Ice packs work a bit. I have had them twice before so I kinda new immediately what was going on and got the anti virals right away. So this isn’t the worst. Just trying to rest and de stress.

        1. Anono-me*

          Can you stagger the different meds, so that only one wears off at a time?

          Ps.I really liked The Commish, The Closer, and New Tricks.

        2. Sled Dog Mama*

          Ugh, that sounds exactly like my last round. Sorry that the meds aren’t helping more.

    9. Kathenus*

      I have so much empathy for you, I’ve had shingles and it was really, really not fun. I’m currently re-watching The West Wing from the beginning. I’ve always loved it, and probably know most episodes by heart, but it’s a great way to take a break from today’s political climate and go into fantasyland of what could be. Hope you feel better soon.

      1. This too shall pass*

        I have been listening to the West Wing podcast. Have you heard it? I find it really really soothing.

        1. Kathenus*

          Coincidentally someone just told me about this yesterday. I haven’t looked into it yet but am planning on it. Thanks!

      1. WellRed*

        I am watching this now. I’m a few episodes into seadon 3. Is it worth continuing? Kinda tired of dead young women and angsty angry teenagers.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          I have to say, seasons 1 and 2 were way better, I think because it was still Veeena Sud in control. If you stick it out, she writes the final episode in season 4, but, if you’re like me, you will be yelling at the tv a few times prior to that.

    10. Engineer Girl*

      Troll hunters is technically a kids show but lots of fun. Jokes and Easter eggs abound. It’s great for binge watching.
      Seconding on Miss Fisher and Death in Paradise. Don’t forget Sherlock.

    11. Engineer Girl*

      Hmm. My first comment didn’t appear?
      I enjoyed Trollhunters. It’s a family show but well written. Lots of Easter eggs and jokes. Great for binge watching.
      Seconding Miss Fisher, Death in Paradise, and adding Sherlock.

    12. Anonymouse for this*

      Hope you feel better soon

      Not sure if these are on hulu or netflix – vpn detecting software means I can no longer access Hulu :0(
      Murder mysteries
      Prime Suspect Tennison
      Father Brown
      Endeavour (prequel to Inspector Morse)

      some of them are on PBS.

    13. teclatrans*

      Haven was a bit like Eureka or Warehouse, but it’s super cheesy.

      I finally get the love for Bones, but the first seasons aren’t streaming.

      Fringe is an amazing Sci-fi series, but it spends most of first season acting like X files with a really wooden actress before diving deep and becoming this amazing story about parallel universes, with damn fine acting. I actually started about halfway through the first season (after rejecting the show based on early episodes) and highly recommend the approach if Olivia isn’t grabbing you.

      The Good Place is quality TV.

      Leverage is a heist show with a social conscience, amazing acting & writing, and I join all the others in recommending it.

      I loved-loved the Miss Fisher series, and went on to discover I love the audio books even more. (There are some significant differences between the books and TV series, and the books more explicitly explore class and race and sexuality in 20s Australia. The author is a legal aid lawyer and her dad was a Wobbly.)

      The Good Wife has great procedural and courtroom storylines while also exploring politics. It’s not the type of shoe I gravitate toward, but I got hooked.

  8. ancolie*

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU, ALISON! I had commented a few weeks ago about the ads and the problems I had since I’m always reading AAM from my phone instead of a full PC (bottom anchor ads layering on each other, x buttons that have to be tapped 10+ times, ads that still open a tab when I close them) and how it’s hard to fill out the ad problem form on mobile, etc.

    But the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that 95% of bottom anchor ads have a nice long button saying CLOSE instead of x and they all close perfectly. Thank you so much! It really means a lot that you care about the ad experience of readers and work to improve it*.

    * unlike other sites I go to ::cough cough SDMB cough cough::

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, that’s great. I’m going to pass this along to my ad network people, since they’ve put a ton of work into trying to track down and fix problems. (The crazy redirect problem from the last two months has also been fixed; they’ve developed some entirely new technology to block them.) Thanks!

    2. Aimee*

      Oh, you’re so lucky! It keeps hijacking my browser with a KFC ad that takes over the whole page and WILL. NOT. CLOSE. It’s driving me nuts.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Try clearing your cache and cookies. Also, if you’d be willing to send me a screenshot of what you’re seeing, I can have that ad entirely blocked; they’re not supposed to do that and I can get them kicked off.

    3. amanda_cake*

      I agree! I tend to read Ask a Manager from my phone and it has gotten better. I have decided it is way better to navigate comments from the computer, however.

  9. Mela*

    Question for single and dating people!

    If you came across this on a dating profile, what would your first reaction be?
    “Happily married, but my style of dating looks remarkably similar to that of a single person.”

    I’m polyamorous, and am trying to find a quick descriptor for my online dating profile to convey the general idea that even though I’m married, a second partnership is absolutely on the table for any new partners. I’ll explain it more in depth at later stages, but I’m looking for a sentence or two that gives them the general gist. I don’t want to say something like “open to anything from a one night stand to a life partner is on the table” because even though that’s true, I don’t want to attract men looking only for one night stands.

    1. Jenny*

      I’m not single, but I don’t know if that conveys what you’re going for. Why not state it more like you did it later in your post: “even though I’m married, a second partnership is absolutely on the table for any new partners”?

    2. But first, coffee*

      Why not just say that you’re polyamorous?
      Even though my dating profile strictly says no hookups, I still get guys that message me and ask about going out of a night. There’s no way around it. But maybe something like “polyamorous but with some boundaries” or ground rules or limitations is a little more upfront. Just my two cents.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yes, wait… Mela, are you not actually saying on your profile that you’re poly? I had assumed that line was trying to explain your dating style in addition to an “I am poly” statement, but…?

      2. Mela*

        No no, this is in addition to the “I’m polyamorous” statement. And I know you can’t avoid it entirely, but I’ve been online dating for 5+ years, and if you name anything explicit like that, the sexual messages increase dramatically.

        The reason I don’t want to leave it my normal “I’m polyamorous/non-monogamous and keep it ethical, consensual and responsible.” is because unbenownst to me, a lot of people assumed married + polyamorous is very different than what I do, poly and single alike. The poly people are used to talking about specifics, I just want a quick way to signal to single/otherwise mono people that it won’t be like that.

      1. Thlayli*

        I agree – It sounds more to me like someone looking for an affair.

        I think you will have to explicitly say you are in an open relationship/polyamorous

    3. Blue Anne*

      I’m also poly. If I read that line, unfortunately, I’d assume that you were an ostensibly monogamous person looking for an affair, and skip your profile.

      My profile is linked to my fiance’s. It also mentions that I’d love to settle down with a couple of spouses and a picket fence, but will never give up flings. :)

      1. Blue Anne*

        Okay, actually, at the risk of outing myself, this is the poly-blurb on my profile:

        “I am polyamorous. Honesty makes me hot and ultimatums make me angry. I have a fiance who I’m obviously deeply in love with. He is not on this continent yet, boo! But his profile is linked to mine here. We are making plans for him to move to the USA! I’m now dating someone in Ohio too. I would love to settle down with a few spouses and a picket fence, but I don’t think I’ll ever give up flings.

        Poly does not mean that I’m up for casual sex. I also don’t date couples.”

        It has worked out pretty well for me, no one has been confused about what I’m looking for/open to.

        1. Mela*

          Aw I love that blurb! I don’t have a clear vision of the future like you do, I’m not even sure I’ll ever want to properly settle down in one city! But for the right person, both my husband and I are open to do almost anything to allow the right person to stick around (including getting divorced and re-marrying the new partner for visa reasons). But I don’t really want to say that since that’s pretty intense for a dating profile.

        2. Misquoted*

          I think that’s a great profile — honest, specific enough but not too specific, and sets some boundaries nice and early.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I get it, and it’s good to get that out up front, but I’m getting stuck on the “looks” and “single person” parts. I’d be wondering why it looks that way, and which single person? I think it feels more direct to say that your “style of dating is remarkably similar to when I was single.” Or, if you feel like you weren’t that typical when you were single, maybe “to that of the average single person”.

      I think it’s pretty good, but if people are looking with a critical eye, you don’t want to be too vague or people might worry you’re trying to hide something. Ironic, since you’re being very up front about it, which is why I think it would be good to make sure your phrasing is unambiguous.

      Good luck!

      1. overeducated*

        Yeah, I think the reference you’re trying to make to “a single person” is too broad to be helpful, since I know single people with wildly different dating styles. It sounds from the comments like you are trying to avoid some kind of misconception about poly people, but without being part of that subculture I have no idea what you’re contrasting here. You might have to keep it specific about the kinds of interactions you’re looking for.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      It’s a little confusing–a single person might be looking strictly for hookups or only long-term relationships with no messing around. Why not just say it flat out–you’re poly, married, and open to dating both casually and seriously? As it stands it looks a bit like someone looking for a cheating partner.

    6. all aboard the anon train*

      Honestly, it’d sketch me out enough that I’d pass. It sounds like you’re looking to have an affair.

      I’ve seen enough profiles that say something like “I’m poly, my current partner is poly/know I’m poly/knows I’m looking for a second relationship. Looking for relationships, not one night stands”.

      I like people to be upfront and honest, not coy. The more coy someone tries to be, the more I think they have something to hide.

    7. Mela*

      Ack, I knew I was missing something when I hit post! But just to clarify, this statment is in addition to a general “I’m polyamorous” statement, my profile is linked to my husband’s etc. No sketchiness here!

      The potential life partnership was just an example, but it’s meant to include a range of things people assume married folks generally don’t do: sleepovers, travel with other partners, no restrictions in general on my behavior, at least not from my spouse.

      1. neverjaunty*

        “Dates like a single person”, to me, reads as “any time I meet a new potential partner, I ignore my spouse and leave them at home while I run around with the new fling.” Which is not what you’re going for!

        1. Mela*

          But that is what I’m going for! haha
          Aside from a general safety check (which is usually but not always with my husband) during online first dates, I do pretty much ignore my spouse! That’s exactly what I’m trying to convey =) Lots of poly people need to “check in” in general, or to get permission to do certain things, or go certain places. That’s not how our marriage works; we’re individual people with our own lives outside of our relationship. Obviously if there’s an emergency or something, sure, but those interruptions would look exactly as if it were my mother or a friend with the emergency.

          1. neverjaunty*

            I don’t mean ignore in the sense of checking in on dates or vacations; I mean that there are people who, when they have a new relatoonship, basically ignore their spouse day to day and devote all their energy and time to the fun new person.

            1. Mela*

              Ah I see. That’s exactly the kind of unintended meaning I wanted to suss out from the non-poly population, so thank you!

    8. Liz*

      To me that sentence conveys that you are cheating. Unless I wanted a sneak on the side kind of thing I would not click/swipe/read. If you said married and polyamorous or in an open relationship. Then I know more what you mean even though I will jave to ask more. For married but dating I would not ask, I just would run.

    9. Sylvia*

      If the rest of the profile doesn’t explicitly say “poly” or “open relationship,” I wouldn’t want to be the “other woman.”

      If it does say “polyamory,” I want to know what kind of interaction, if any, is expected between me and your other partner. This was a dealbreaker between me and someone I was very much interested in, who was in a poly relationship with someone I wasn’t particularly a fan of.

    10. Dan*

      Since you posed this to single and dating people… It’s not a lifestyle I understand, so I’d pass.

    11. Nynaeve*

      As a single, non-poly person, I find the wording vague and a little sketchy. It reads very much like “looking for a piece on the side.” Which doesn’t actually sound like what you want, so the phrasing isn’t doing you any favors.

      Aside from that issue… There are so many ways to be single! I would have no idea what you meant and whether there would be long-term potential or not. Why not specify the types of dating relationships, behaviors, and goals you are (and especially aren’t) looking for? Like: “I’m open to casual, short-term dating and serious long-term dating potentially leading to a second partnership, but am not currently looking for one-night stands.” (The “not currently looking for” wording gives you a little wiggle room for one-night stands that happen spontaneously, but should cut down on messages from the subset of people who are looking for one-night stands, actually read profiles, and take the poster’s preferences seriously. So… not that much? ;-D)

    12. Amtelope*

      I wouldn’t know what to make of that. I think it will work a lot better to be more specific; “I’m happily married and dating with my husband’s knowledge and consent. I’m interested in a second relationship more than in a one-night stand, and would love to eventually spend nights at your house and share vacations with you.” Or whatever it is you want to make it clear you’re open to doing.

    13. AlaskaKT*

      Poly here, honestly that sentence sounds more “married but looking” than poly to me. And why do you have to explain again if you already state you’re poly?

      Mine reads: My husband and I are interested in possibly adding a long term girlfriend to our family in the future, so if you’re interested in that kind of arrangement drop a line and maybe we’ll get together to hang out sometime. — The basics are that we would like a partner in our relationship. I have no interest in a first wife/second wife kind of set up. — Not really interested in long distance or online anything for dating unless you plan on/are seriously considering moving to Alaska.

      I don’t think any once sentence conveys enough specifics at to your needs/boundaries. Especially with poly profiles I find laying out what I want and what I won’t find acceptable makes for a better dating experience. Good luck!

    14. Sam Foster*

      Put it in black and white and make it super clear what you are looking for. Dating is hard enough without needing a secret decoder ring.

    15. Persephone Mulberry*

      “My style of dating looks remarkably like that of a single person.”

      What does this even mean? Married or not, poly or not, it doesn’t really tell me anything useful about YOUR style of dating and what you’re actually looking for.

    1. Bibliovore*

      Best- My dog bounced back from having all her teeth removed and we are enjoying this beautiful summer day.
      Worst- I am feeling under the weather and resentful

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Best: someone started a lunchtime board game club at work and it was so much fun – I think it’s going to be a monthly thing.

      Worst: it rained when I wore my new shoes, I got really stressed out this week for no apparent reason and one of my friends is driving me round the bend. But it’s okay.

    3. Blue Anne*

      Best: I got a snake! Her name is Mittens.

      Worst: I had a really nice date on Sunday with kisses and enthusiasm but he hasn’t answered my texts since. :/

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Sorry to hear about your date. I love your snake’s name though! What kind is s/he?

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Best: cleaning out the garage and the basement, and I found the home movies my parents took the 1970s that I thought my dad abandoned when he sold the house I grew up in! And we have most of the garage cleared out now, and I’m making yet another run to the dump soon. I expect the staff there will start greeting me by name soon.

      Worst: work stuff that I won’t go into, both because it’s the free-for-all and because I can’t say much without outing myself, but it’s more nerve-wracking-exciting than filling me with dread. But I can’t wait for things to settle down, I like my routine.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      BEST – Moving back to a M-F work schedule! 4x10s aren’t terrible necessarily, but working Saturdays is just not my bag.

      WORST – I forgot that yesterday was an energy savings day until the savings period already started… at which point I’d just put in a load of dishes to wash! Won’t be saving much on my bill this month…

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: I weeded some overgrown flower beds last weekend, and then I mowed a meditation labyrinth into the grass in my backyard. My son and I have both been using it for meditative walking; it finishes in a small seating area under our peach tree.

      Worst: Can’t think of anything; everything’s been pretty good this week.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh cool. I should do some walking meditation outside when it cools off. We did it today at dharma group, but we did it in a circle and I can’t stand walking that slow with people in front of me, so I bailed out after the first circuit and went back to my mat.

    7. Mimmy*

      Best: Unexpectedly easy week at work because one of my most stress-inducing students was out.

      Worst: A good friend passed away Wednesday evening following a brief but devastating illness. Thankfully she is at peace and no longer in pain, but I am sad for my close friend, who was one of her best friends.

      Coming up that I’m nervous about: My center where I work is about to be overrun by teenagers!! If spending time with my nieces and nephews is any indication, I’m in for the potential for sensory overload! Yipes!

    8. Heaven*

      Worst: Two months after an interview that was the exciting culmination of a couple of weeks of pursuit from a company that made me feel like an in-demand debutante, still zilch. A week after sending a gentle reminder email, emphasising that I understood hiring decisions often took longer than anticipated but an update would be greatly appreciated, still zilch… Giving up on that company, I think.

      Best: After even the briefest look around, I’ve found a bunch of opening for the exact same position (retail merchandising) at other companies with similar if not better reputations and have sent some more applications out, and bookmarked more that will be opening in the next couple of months.

    9. Gem*

      Best and worst all in one: Fantastic leaving do, love all my coworkers, gonna miss the hell out of them. I didn’t buy a drink the entire night. I did not eat enough food, so I woke up this morning with the worst hangover – I was in bed until 12, then on the sofa since then. I’ve managed to eat dry biscuits and now half a pizza but I think that’s going to be the lot for today!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best. Excellent holiday even though I had to get up early a few mornings for the excursions.

        Worst. Knowing there will be lots waiting for me when I get back to work on Monday.

      2. Nana*

        PLEASE drink a lot of water. Part of post-drinking feeling bad is just plain old dehydration.

    10. Elkay*

      Best: Friday night at the local comedy festival.
      Worst: Forced fun team building which I enjoyed less as it ran over the time I told them I had to leave.

    11. MommaCat*

      Best and worst: went to GP, she agreed I have enough symptoms of ADHD to be referred to a psychologist for an evaluation. And when I got home, I immediately made the appointment for the psychologist instead of putting it off like I normally would, so yay me! But boo ADHD. But yay things in my life making more sense! Yeah, I’ve got mixed feelings.

    12. Parenthetically*

      Best: just got back from our baby shower where a room full of lovely thoughtful friends brought us food and stuff from our registry which is now complete!

      Worst: got about 2 hours sleep last night because of excruciating pain/shakes/fever that it turned out was likely buildup of lactic acid from overdoing the nesting and then getting a massage.

    13. Jules the First*

      Best: I had an awesomely empowering Friday at my thing-we-don’t-talk-about-on-weekends, which culminated in me treating myself to a brand new iPad (I have two weeks to decide if it deserves a place in my life, but so far, that’s a yes….)

      Worst: I got asked out yesterday, by a neighbour, which is not bad in and of itself, but because it’s been so long since I dated a guy, I didn’t twig that he had asked me out until I’d given him a really awkward non-answer and gotten in the lift. Total social skills fail. So not looking forward to having to explain that one when I see him next….

    14. SpiderLadyCEO*

      BEST: House-sitting for my parents, so I have their pool and amenities all to myself :D

      WORST: The mic I just bought to record an audition due next week is making me sound weird.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Is the mic too close to something else? Sometimes moving a mic can fix a problem.

    15. Lizabeth*

      Best: The SO is doing RAGBRAI for the week – cycling across the state of Iowa at the end of July and possible nasty weather for the 2nd time. Me? Nope, nope, nope…but I may reconsider and drive the car as personal SAG next time just for the food. Oh…the food

      Worst: While I’m happy to have a serious block of alone time I miss him :(

    16. D.W.*

      Best: Pre-marital counseling with my fiancé this week was awesome, scary and eye opening!
      Worst: Trying to carefully navigate the minefields that are personal relationships with loved ones and friends. Currently in the valley of decision.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: I got a reward for a free pizza from Alamo Drafthouse, so I think I’ll go see Dunkirk there. It’s not worth going to Alamo if I’m not going to eat (even for the awesome recliners), since it’s not that much different otherwise from watching a film at the regular cinema.

      WORST: I think I lost a couple of pounds–at least I feel like I did. I didn’t walk today because it was WAY too hot and my house has been hot and it’s taking a toll on me. I didn’t walk yesterday either. So of course, what do I do? Make dashboard cookies and eat them. :P

    18. Red*

      BEST: I finally gave up and bought a pair of Birkenstocks, and they are 110% worth it. Most comfortable sandals I’ve ever worn. The Mayari style is even pretty decent looking.

      WORST: Dungeons and Dragons got cancelled this weekend for very understandable reasons, but it’s still a disappointment.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha. I’ve also been thinking about giving up and getting a pair of birkenstocks: either Mayari or Gizeh.

        1. Red*

          Dot it. I swear they are worth it. I hated sandals before I bought them on the recommendation of a friend, now I’m sad when I’m not wearing them

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I had some, but they were too big. I want to try them again with a pair that actually fits. Because walking for a long long distance in the ill-fitting ones killed me.

    19. Trixie*

      Best: OT hours this week and next with funds going towards training in the fall, then cc debt. Continue to help pack up house as family member moves to Big Town which has been our goal. Now can enjoy some privacy at home while looking for jobs in Big Town.
      Worst: Stressing about a work thing on Friday but will be so happy when 4pm rolls around and it’s done.
      Worst/Best: Eating way too much crap but started new smoothie recipe today! Starting is the biggest step for me.

  10. New girl*

    Anybody have suggestions of things of hobbies I could look into? My SO has been working a lot and friends aren’t always available. I find myself spending a lot of time watching tv and occasionally reading but I’ve become quite bored.

      1. New girl*

        I like being active and around people but I’m not great at meeting people or going alone to do things.

        1. Anna*

          I feel like meetup.com is your friend here. There are lots of low-key, low-stakes activities where you can be active and meet people at the same time. Hiking, boating, tree identification, sports, volleyball, whatever floats your boat.

        2. Saturnalia*

          Hey new girl, no advice to share, but me too 100% on all of this stuff, and if you feel like it’s hard I hope it helps to know others are trying to figure this out too.

        3. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!*

          You can check out Groupon for some things you’d like to do! Around here they have a ton of options!

    1. Thlayli*

      I like to combine hobbies and life-improvement. Sports is both Hobby and exercise and if a team sport is also social Interaction. Making things you need or sell will save /make you money. Joining a club with social interaction can help make friends. Something like Red Cross/order of Malta ticks a lot of boxes – lots of social interaction/volunteery feelgood factor plus learn valuable first aid skills). Local am-dram if you’re outgoing. Painting if you’re not. Learn something you’ve always wanted to learn.

      The worlds your oyster – think about the kind of things that make you happy – long run happy not just happy for five mins.

    2. hermit crab*

      I always suggest this, but — volunteering! In my experience, even getting something on your calendar for a few hours a month can help you feel less bored.

      Also, maybe check out classes at a local community center/rec center/community college? The county where I live offers inexpensive adult-ed classes, and a lot of them are recreational/personal development-focused rather than academic (genealogy, cooking a specific type of cuisine, yoga, arts & crafts, etc.).

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        I was also going to suggest volunteering. I started volunteering at a cat shelter recently. It’s a way to be around people, but since you’re busy doing tasks you don’t necessarily feel like you need to participate in a specific activity.

          1. Cookie D'oh*

            I knew I wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter so I started searching for shelters in my area. From there I went to their websites to get more info about their programs. I attended an orientation session and then started coming in once a week.

            I have heard Junior League mentioned on Corporette, but I’m not sure how that works.

            I used to be a candy striper at a hospital when I was in high school. They might have opportunities for adults too.

            Or maybe search for volunteer opportunities in your city. There may be community organizations that need help. Good luck!

          2. HannahS*

            For me, I would think of types of organizations or types of work I wanted to do (museums, hospitals) and then googled all the ones nearby. Most have a page dedicated to volunteers, and usually have a contact number/email and information. From there, I’d call/speak to someone, get more information (usually about time commitment) and then meet with a volunteer coordinator to be interviewed. Then, some kind of training or orientation. Attending info sessions (which many orgs have) can also help you get a sense of who the people you’ll be with are. When I volunteered at a museum, people were either in their 20s or 40s, but when I was at the hospital, most were retirees.

          3. Pieforbreakfast*

            This may or may not be in other cities, but there’s a Portland organization called Hands-on Portland that’s like a clearing house for volunteer activities. It’s great if you want one day of volunteering (like helping at an event) but there’s also opportunities to find long term slots (like meals on wheels driving).

            1. Bryce*

              I’ve used these guys when I was dealing with depression and looking for things to do, and it worked great. I could pick and choose what appealed to me on my good days without worrying about “what if I’m a mess next week?”

    3. Temperance*

      My favorite hobbies are extreme couponing, reading comics, gaming, and doing Sporcle. I’ve also got into Swagbucks lately.

      I’m an introvert, though. I’ve met some super cool women at craft beer meetups.

    4. Mobuy*

      Indoor soccer is really fun. A lot of places have coed or all-women leagues that are low-pressure.

    5. Teach*

      What about a handcraft of some sort? I like knitting, but crochet or embroidery are also fun and versatile. You can combine them with TV viewing or reading (audiobooks) when you have the basics down, and they are good for introverting (learning on the internet) or extroverting (find a yarn shop and take class or go to knitting groups.) Any stitching hobby provides mental challenge plus soothing repetitive motions and all the textures and colors to enjoy.

  11. Bibliovore*

    Maine travel suggestions?
    Flying in to Portland. Have a few days in Arcadia National Forest.
    Looking for a peaceful retreat within an hour an half drive of that.
    I am not a boat person- I get motion sickness.
    Would love a place to go with a pool.

    1. Coming Up Milhouse*

      Best: I finished my first week on weight watchers and lost 6 pounds!
      Worst: Connecticut is in a heat wave and I’m having trouble with the humidity

    2. Coming Up Milhouse*

      Look into places in Camden and Rockland Maine. Very casual resort like areas, some with pools.

    3. WellRed*

      Bar Harbor is also nice, but this time of year, it’s all pretty tourist ridden so depends what you mean by peaceful retreat.

    4. Eve*

      I live in Portland so if you need suggestions in that area let me know. Portland has fantastic restaurants.

      1. Belle di Vedremo*

        Ooh, if you’re back here can you give me some general info on Portland? What is it like as a place to live, how is the rental apt market, how “walkable” is it, and anything else you think should be answered? Applying for a job there right now. I’ll have more questions if this goes well, later.


        1. namelesscommentater*

          I’ve only visited Portland but know lots who live there. It’s on my shortlist of places I would be willing to move back to in Maine. In short, it’s fabulous. The rents are high compared to more rural areas, but still way cheaper than NYC/SF. Lots of places are being renovated and put on the market – but there’s also a lot of competition for them! Parking can be a challenge, but most places come with at least one spot. City is easily walkable but things are a bit more spread out than NYCers might be used to. I’m not sure how good the public transit is.

          Great restaurants – Duck Fat is supposed to be great (but I’m a vegetarian so no fries for me…), Scratch in Cape Elizabeth has wonderful baked goods, and the various smaller cafes have always been great – even when just popping to the nearest one for a cup of coffee.

          I don’t think the city is that expensive. There’s a Trader Joes and Whole Foods, with prices in line with the rest of the country. There’s local farmer’s markets prices obviously vary. Like anywhere, there’s expensive food available, but there’s absolutely affordable stuff there too.

          There’s a comment above that discusses the culture of the state from Diluted_Tortiouse_Shell that you might be interested in. Portland is liberal and I think it’s the best thing about the city. I’m not doubting their experiences in the Maine workplace, but in my own, I’ve never assumed all with a southern accent are a gun toting confederate flag wearing idiots. I’ve never seen an unprovoked “Wow, that’s offensive” or “you must not believe the civil war happened” based on nothing but an accent. However, there is a very real North/South divide present in Maine, and we were not just taught about the civil war, but about how some southern states teach it as the “War of Northern Aggression.” And at least in my friend group, it’s inappropriate to wear the confederate flag, get married at a plantation, or refer to the civil war as the war of northern aggression, and that is quite hostile to people who don’t see those things as problematic.

          That being said, Maine is far from some bastion of racial equality. Maine’s governor, Paul Lepage, is not a representative any decent person wants. He has no professional boundaries, says outright racist things, abuses the power of his office. His words & actions are so incredibly offensive that I feel comfortable mentioning it in “politics free zones” because “Politics free” doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge racism. He’s on his way out, but there is damage there. Portland has not shifted politically in the same way district two has, but the state has lacked leadership for quite some time. Portland does have some tense history with their Somali Refugee Communities, but my understanding is that things are fairly amicable at this point.

          1. Belle di Vedremo*

            Thank you very much! I’m saving your email and will follow up if things go as I hope. Really appreciate it.

      2. Bibliovore*

        If you see this…
        I would like to make a reservation to a nice restaurant for Sunday night to thank our hosts. Recommendations?

        1. anonfrommdi*

          If Portland – Duck Fat.

          If near Acadia – (island side of things, I’m not so knowledgeable on the Sullivan side of things other than chose a place with a busy parking lot ;) )

          Bar Harbor – Side Street, Cafe this Way & Lompoc are all fantastic, and often have live music available. McKay’s is also the go-to of many. The Blue Door is new and I haven’t been back since it opened, so I’d definitely look into it!

          XYZ is solid Mexican, but not in downtown Bar Harbor.

          And for some unsolicited MDI advice:
          Southwest & Northeast have tons of great lunch spots to grab a sandwich before going into the park. Colonel’s Deli in particular, though the absolute best food on the island is Mother’s Kitchen, a little shack on 102 with handmade sandwiches and limited hours (check them before hand and order ahead, because they work at maximum capacity for pretty much every open hour). Grab a sandwich, and head to Echo Lake. There’s Acadia Mountain across from the parking lot, very easy climb (if you’re out for a workout, you might plan to do it 2-3x). Climbing Acadia and then cooling off with a swim across the lake ending it all with a Mother’s Kitchen sandwich is pretty much the best afternoon in Acadia you can ask for.

          An afternoon at Sand Beach is definitely worth it. I’d skip Thunder Hole, honestly, and focus more on the mountains. The old fire tower is also a great, but easy, hike. Reel Pizza movie theater is definitely worth a night, and the village green is also a great meeting spot in town. Take advantage of the island explorer – parking in bar harbor is worse than in my major city adoptive home because there’s simply not enough spaces.

          Do bring a first aid kit on your hikes, even the easy ones. The number of times I’ve gashed open a leg on a tree branch is … a lot. You’ll be glad for a few band aids. I myself have yet to learn this lesson, despite the variety of scars on my legs from that damn fire tower trail.

          Eat all of the blueberries!

          For lobster – the pounds are all a dime a dozen, each family has their preference, it’s not really my scene, so your hosts will guide you to theirs if you want to do that.

          Enjoy! I’m clearly a little jealous ;)

          1. salad fingers*

            Shoot, probably no one is here anymore but hike the Precipice if you like a little challenge! Other than being out on our hosts boat seal-spotting and lobster eating, that was my favorite part of MDI. Seconding the first aid part, too – broke my toe on one of our hikes. Also, probably obvious but wear proper footwear.

        2. Eve*

          I always recommend David’s on Monument Sq., Central Provisions is small plates, pricey but delious, and I’m a huge fan of any of the Rooms (Grill, Front, or Corner).

    1. NoodleMara*

      If it hasn’t been seen by a vet, that’s step number one, preferably before you bring it home so if it needs to be fixed, get shots, etc, it’s already handled. Keep the kitten in one room for the first few days to make sure it’s litter box trained, so it won’t be overwhelmed, and it’s a lot harder to lose it. Kittens love to hide places.

      If you have another animal, make sure interactions happen slowly and only with supervision at first.

      Get a litter box, some of the same food it’s already being fed, water bowls, standard stuff. You don’t need to buy a ton of toys if you don’t want to, a lot of cats like playing with crumpled paper, cardboard or other things you might have around the house.

      Good luck with your kitten!

    2. Aliecat*

      Congrats! A small litter box and a good low dust litter (I like World’s Best), small, soft toys that skitter, a food/water bowl with low sides and a silicone mat underneath (cats are kind of messy eaters), and a carrier. You can usually find carriers on craigslist. Don’t worry about cat nip, cats don’t develop a taste for it until they’re almost a year old. Cats don’t need a ton of stuff, and will probably eschew anything expensive anyway.
      Just an FYI, plan to pen kitty up for the first month when you’re away for the day in a room with food, toys, and the litter box. When they’re really small sometimes they feel anxious rattling around in the house. Also, kittens REALLY like to play at night. I would recommend not allowing them access to your bedroom at night until its older, otherwise be prepared for toe nibbles and face batting at 2 am.

      1. nonegiven*

        I’ve had more than one litter of kittens born in my bedroom. As soon as they were big enough to climb up and jump off the bed, they slept on it, in a pile, on a pillow at my feet. I did wake up at 3 am a few times with kittens running up and down my body and dive bombing each other off the headboard.

        1. Aliecat*

          Lol at being dive-bombed! My cat does sleep with us at night as he cannot abide a closed door, but I couldn’t have him in the room for his first month of living with me, I’m a light sleeper and he was pretty active at night.

        2. Bryce*

          My cat was doing night laps around the place and foot attacks even at 12 years old. It’s amazing what you can get used to.

          1. Aliecat*

            My old man cat firmly parks his butt right at the foot of the bed, forcing me into some weird fetal position. Sometimes he gets a case of the kittens and takes a chomp out of my foot.

    3. Seal*

      Get a scratching post as well. Mine like both sisal and cardboard. With a kitten, you can train them to use it by gently rubbing their paws on it.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and get a tall one that will let the cat (once it’s grown) stretch up quite a bit.

        1. Marzipan*

          I have a piece of thick twine/thin rope wound around one of the banisters for my cat. He loves it!

    4. Anna*

      What Noodle and Aliecat said plus a scratcher thing. The nice carpet covered posts were about $80, but a round plastic thing with a ball and cardboard was only about $20. Treats bribe/reward it with.

    5. Trixie*

      I always suggest when petting/grooming, get them used to both have their paws handled and teeth brushed. I had luck with the first so it’s so much easier to trim claws. Not so much the second. Also, since he was a kitten I take cat for rides on regular basis. He’s much easier to deal with as far as the carrier and the car. Have fun!

    6. Cookie D'oh*

      Based on personal experience, check with your vet about their after hours and emergency procedures. They might have a doctor on call or refer you to another facility.

      In my city, there’s an animal hospital that is open 8-8 every day and another open 24/7. I have two older cats with health issues so I keep the numbers handy.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Also, congrats and have fun! Lots of good advice from others.

        If you’re on Amazon,search for “pet enclosure” or “pet playpen”. There are some good options that would work for a kitten.

    7. Andrea*

      Look for hazards like hanging string, sharp objects, stuff they can pull down like a table runner. Make sure you don;t open windows widely or leave to toilet up. See if you indoor plants are noxious to cats.

      I would honestly get a set of kittens if they are on offer. Two is easier than one in the long run.

      Read Jackson Galaxy.


    8. Lyra*

      Yay! How exciting for you! All the suggestions so far are great. I’d add to be clear and consistent with reactions – cats are smart and can learn, so long as you give clear feedback. Like Trixie recommended, get the kitten used to you handling its paws, but if it bites, freeze and say NO firmly. Wait until it’s stopped to resume play and cuddles. Similarly, if you feed the cat every time it meows at you at 4 am, it will continue to meow at you at 4 am, because why not? it knows it’ll gets food! Keep a consistent schedule as best you can, and it will learn that wailing at you won’t get it food.
      Back to your actual question: it might help to confine the kitten to a single room for the first few days, to help it get used to the new space, particularly if your flat/house is large. You’d want a litter box in one corner, food and a water bowl as far away as the litter box as possible, a scratching post/pad, a hidey spot (which can be its carrier lined with a towel).
      Have a wonderful time with your kitten! :)

    9. Saturnalia*

      This may not be possible and won’t ruin anything if it’s not, but if you can work from home, or take a few consecutive days to hang out around the house with the new kitty, it can help speed the bonding and help her feel comfy in your home. Congrats, and enjoy the loves!

    10. Chaordic One*

      Stock up on cleaning supplies. I like using old bath towels to scrub and clean with, so if you can pick some up at a second-hand store that would be great. Also get a bottle of ammonia for cleaning up accidents. (When you use it, be sure to dilute it.)

    11. MandyLou*

      One thing to add to the litter box suggestion…Depending on how big your kitten is, they may not be able to get over the sides of the box if they are very tiny. When I found Maggie, she was very tiny(4 or 5 weeks) and couldn’t use the pan I purchased because the sides were too tall. A cheap temporary option for the tiny ones is a disposable aluminum roasting pan from the grocery store. The sides are only three or four inches tall and are perfect for itty bitty kitties.

      Also, even if your kitten will be indoor only, make sure to get him/her microchipped! That way if they ever get lost, you’ll have better odds of them being returned to you.

      Enjoy your kitten!

  12. Resi Lence*

    Juggling projects this weekend! I’m clearing the condensation out of a taillight (never thought I would have to do that myself, but it’s surprisingly not hard!), playing with a new eggplant recipe, and working on some designs.

    Does anyone have an Etsy store by chance? I want to sell stuff online but outside of social media I am not sure how to market my things.

    1. Effie, getting there*

      I have a Poshmark store, which is very social-media heavy (like Instagram) and you kind of need to be super active to move your stuff. You can sell handmade stuff on Poshmark, but you might not be able to price it for what it’s worth. Generally I’ve found that people on Poshmark buy stuff when then feel like it, no matter what the price is, but I’m also not anywhere near as active as recommended. The app is super user-friendly too and free to download. They also have a regular website and are working to allow you to sell from there (you can edit posts right now but I don’t think you can post new stuff yet from the website).

      1. Effie, getting there*

        Forgot to say – most stuff on Poshmark is used and people are looking for a bargain, so again may not be ideal for handmade stuff although you can list if you want.

  13. OldMom*

    If you have to send additional info to the IRS that they have requested, is it customary to send a cover letter? Or better to include only the specific forms they requested? (routine matter, not an audit)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago we filed our taxes and my husband had missed a line when transcribing on to the good copy. Sure enough, we got a letter from the IRS. I wrote a cover letter, I included redundant documentation, and I sent an entire new 1040 with the correction. Then I mailed it return receipt requested. At that time it had hit the news that agents were throwing 1040s in the garbage because they could not keep up. I wanted to dot every i and cross every t.

    2. CAA*

      If they sent you a notice requesting more information, there should be a Response Form as the last page of the packet. Fill that out and put it on the top of the pile of documentation you send them. It has your SSN, an AUR number and a barcode, so it increases the chances that your correspondence will get matched to the right return. You can put a cover letter behind that if you want, but you don’t need to if the only thing it’s going to say is “please see the attached forms that you requested”. You really only need a letter if you are explaining something that isn’t obvious, or if you’re including additional documentation to support your position.

      If you don’t have a Response Form to send back, then a cover letter is a good idea, if only to list out what forms you’re sending in. Do make sure that your SSN and tax year are on every piece of paper you send.

      1. Saturnalia*

        This, exactly this. I had some routine IRS stuff too, and it was just fine without an extra cover letter.

    3. No regular name*

      Send a cover letter with the documents. Use a subject line stating your name, SSN, date of their request & any reference number from their letter. Only include the documents they requested.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      I’ve survived a couple of audits very successfully. I have always included a cover letter with a list of enclosures.
      Never give them more than what they asked for.
      I have always sent my packet with signature tracking.

  14. someone101*

    Hi all. So I’m slowly working my way through the archives of AAM and I just wondered if there was an update of the person called King who was starting starting a new job and they told him to change his name? Was just curious of the outcome.

    1. Toph*

      I don’t know about that one specifically, but there is an updates tag so you might be able to find it if you limited your searching within there. I think I also noticed on the ones that have updates, the update often shows up in the “you may also like”.

      1. someone101*

        Ooh thanks for the tip I will try that! I noticed this too and didn’t see an update, I thought perhaps it might have been in the comments section.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The easiest way to check for a specific update is to do a site-specific search for the headline of the original post in quotes, since the updates all use the same headlines as the original post did. So for this one you’d do this:


      (That looks like a lots of gibberish, but basically you put site:askamanager.org into Google, plus your search term.)

      All of which will lead you to find that no, we never did have an update for that one.

      1. someone101*

        Ah that’s a shame I was so intrigued! Thank you for the reply though I will bear this in mind for future searches!

  15. Gingerbread*

    For those of you that dislike exercise, how did you make yourself start working out? I hate exercise with a passion, but I am not happy with the way I look. I have a gym in my complex about 200 feet from me and still can’t get myself to go.

    1. FDCA In Canada*

      There are only a few ways. You can find something you enjoy doing even if it doesn’t look like in-the-gym exercise (a dance class, hiking, distance walking, something like that), or you can get yourself into the habit by only doing something enjoyable while at the gym (watching something you enjoy on TV, having a good podcast you only listen to there, etc.). The former is much, much, much more sustainable long-term. You don’t have to go to the gym to work out–there are tons of bodyweight exercises or cardio that can be done at your home with videos available for free on youtube.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I started using a personal trainer twice a week. Now I’m down to once a week. Yes, it can be costly, but it’s what I needed to do. I really, REALLY need the accountability. I still don’t love it, but I find I look forward to it. I like how I feel when I’m done and I like feeling strong and capable.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I find something that’s fairly mindless to do as an exercise, and bring a book. Sitting on an exercise bike with nothing for my mind to do = torture, but sitting on an exercise bike while I slam my face through a new book = totally fine for me.

    4. Get a Haircut*

      Gym- started with yoga class and exercise bikes. Went on to other machines once I felt stronger. Currently not at a gym, but have a set of exercises I do at home that starts with something really simple. If you can start your routine with something that’s easy to say yes to, maybe that might help?

    5. Sophie*

      I feel the same way about exercise. I’m starting small- I park far away when I go the store, I started walking around my neighborhood, etc.

      1. Bryce*

        This is what I do as well. I find an evening walk a lot easier to do than an afternoon at the gym. Also trying to get back into swimming; I used to love it but every time I try to go back I overdo it and, since it pretty thoroughly uses muscles that I haven’t worked in ages, that results in weakness and soreness for a couple of days that keeps me from going back.

    6. Dan*

      Come to Jesus moment with myself.

      I went on a cruise with my mom and dad that was full of overweight old people with all kinds of medical problems. I still have my health and decided I wanted to keep it.

      I now sleep better, feel better, and look a little better, so I keep going, even though I don’t actually like the gym.

    7. Trixie*

      finding activities you enjoy that feel less like exercise. For me, it’s hiking and yoga. And group classes or activities which feel more social. (But still a great workout.)
      Whatever you direction you go, the biggest hurdle is just getting started or going again.

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        +100 on this. The only “exercise” I like is yoga. Or hiking. I hate gyms with a passion because they bore me to death. Everything else physical I do is something that accomplished another task: gardening (we have a nearly 1 acre garden, so I really do burn a lot of calories keeping up with that), walking the dog, etc. When I lived in the city, I would walk to do my errands.

    8. Cookie D'oh*

      I’m still trying to figure this out, but at some point you just have to do it. Start slowly so you don’t get overwhelmed, like once or twice a week.

      I’ve found I like doing online videos from Fitness Blender and PopSugar Fitness more so than exercise machines.

    9. someone101*

      I really dislike the idea of exercise but once I start it’s ok. I started healthy eating and used the money I saved from not getting take away food and Costa Coffee everyday to pay for 12 weeks worth of sessions with a personal trainer; because I’d paid for it upfront I had to do it. I also enjoy swimming so I do that every week too, it’s good for you but it doesn’t feel like I’m exercising so much because I enjoy it.

    10. Gem*

      A mixture of what everyone else has said:

      – A come to jesus moment (I was 190lb at 5ft3 and 28yrs old)
      – A personal trainer who helped my find exercise I could do with my dodgy-from-birth ankles and that I wanted to do
      – Continue that routine, adding in yoga, weights, and spin classes as I got stronger/realised exhausting myself physically on a regular basis did *wonders* for my anxiety
      – Log my calories on my fitness pal, just to see what I was eating and shift my carb/fat/protein intake to make good choices

      That was last March, I’m now at 153lbs and feeling so good. Still got a ways to go, my ideal weight is ~120lb, but definitely feel like I can get there!

      1. Gem*

        Oh, and if you want do at home videos, Millionaire Hoy does youtube videos that cover everything – bodyweight, low impact, kickboxing, from 10mins to 90mins, and are good! Yoga with Adrienne does the same for yoga videos – beginners, hands free practices, for specific conditions, etc.

        They require more commitment from me as they’re free, and I find parting with cash the only real way to force myself into things, but may be worth a check!

    11. NDQ*

      I joined the only gym with a hot tub. Then I started water aerobics because it looked easy. If I miss class, I will use the treadmill. I also do the bootcamp class once a week. I still hate exercising, but it makes my weekdays at work easier, I look and feel better, and I get to socialize a little.


    12. Canadian Natasha*

      I was one of the “exercising is misery” crowd for most of my life. I hate most competitive sports and exercise for its own sake bores me silly. What I ended up doing was rejoining a martial art that I’d formerly practiced as a child. This particular school has a very non-competitive, friendly, and cooperative atmosphere. I am NOT​ a kinesthetic learner so the slow pace of advancement is very helpful too. It is also practical for self defence (more for the learning to be assertive and body-aware and not timid since the actual moves wouldn’t be all that useful in a real situation yet). For me, any habit needs to have a very definite reason to practice it (general or vague ideas like “better health” don’t cut it) and measureable ways to see change and improvement.

      Tl;dr- If you are similar to me, it may help to look for a goal to accomplish and then find a type of exercise that will lead you towards that goal.

    13. Anon attorney*

      It’s a total cliché but I have found it to be true that you only stick with exercise you enjoy. Hence I have lifted weights on and off since I was in college (now middle aged) but have rarely done any form of cardio (I hate machines, I can’t run due to injuries and I basically hate working up a sweat). I did enjoy (sort of) metabolic conditioning circuits for a while but I needed to have a personal trainer to make that happen (as in making me accountable to turn up).

      However my body can still surprise me. In middle age I have developed a passion for ashtanga yoga which is certainly a cardio workout and I am noticing a difference in my cardiovascular performance and changes in my body shape (for the first time in years). But I would do it even if neither of those things happened ever, because it makes my mind happy. So finding what you really love seems to work but I hope it takes you less than my 20-odd years to get there!

    14. Julia Gulia*

      I love action movies and my spouse hates them, so I only allow myself to watch them while working out. If I don’t go downstairs and get my butt on the treadmill or elliptical, I can’t see my movies. My spouse is in general a very easy-going person, but I’ve instructed him to push back if I try to suggest one of “my” movies for our shared viewing.

    15. Book Lover*

      Personal trainer twice a week was the only thing that worked for me. And a more recent addiction to Pokemon go.

    16. Parenthetically*

      OK, as a fellow exercise hater, I honestly think the best advice I’ve ever heard about this is from Terry Crews. He’s done a couple of reddit AMAs where he talks about his philosophy of working out as self-care/spoiling yourself/treating yourself, and they are 100% worth looking up and reading. Basically, unless you’re a masochist, you’ll never go if you don’t like it! So he says, start to work on changing your mindset towards the gym, and spend a couple weeks going to the gym (in workout clothes) and just sitting and reading a book or watching a show or playing a game on your phone that’s just for that time — a treat. No working out, just unwinding at the end of the day, or easing into your day, or whatever. And then slowly ease yourself into it, continually working to reframe it as self-care time that is pleasurable and worthwhile.

      But also, you don’t have to go to the gym! Can you figure out what you hate about exercising? If it’s sweating and stinking, go for a gentle yoga class. If it’s being stuck in a smelly gym, find a beautiful park to walk in or an outdoor fitness group. If it’s standing at machines, why not a soccer team? If it’s the concept of “exercise,” how about sword fighting lessons or ballroom dancing or a really energetic LARP group or aerialist training? 30 minute living room dance party? Ballet? Vigorously scrubbing all the surfaces in your house over the course of a few weeks? Signing up for one of those dog-walking service apps?

    17. Chameleon*

      I am just starting too. I really hated running until I got a Couch to 5k app, but now I have a way to easily see my progress which really helps my motivation. Same thing with weights… seeing how much I lift now vs. a week ago helps.

      The other way these apps help me is by giving me a specific program to follow. I used to wander around and doing the machine that I felt like doing, but having a specific, repeatable routine makes the gym feel less like an amorphous obligation.

    18. Mimi*

      The things that have helped me get a gym routine are 1. finding a gym near work, with really good classes. 2. The gym had a promotion where you could earn back your membership fee if you went 12 times in the first month, which made me get into the habit. 3. I have done personal training a few times and it is awesome. 4. The realization that once I have all those things in place, I just need to do it. I don’t need to feel super-motivated to go work out – I just need to go. And then I’m always happy when I do.

    19. Artemesia*

      I’m with you here and have not entirely managed it but what I do is:

      1. really try to build lots of walking into my day e.g. get groceries on food, walk to anything a mile or less away etc etc. I live in a big city where walking is easy to work into errands and such.
      2. when I do laundry the building gym is next to the laundry room, so I run the washers which run about 28 minutes and I work out during that time, then put the stuff into the dryers and go back to the apartment.
      3. there are fitness classes at a park service gym about a mile from where I live. Several women in our building or nearby sign up for a couple of these a week and somehow having to show up to walk over and back with friends gets me to these courses which are rigorous.
      4. I keep weights next to the kitchen and will do a few sets of weight exercises from my gym class while I make coffee or do other short term things in the kitchen that involve waiting. Waiting for the coffee to drip, or the water to boil for the rice or hard boiled eggs or whatever.
      5. There is a stretching workout that takes about 10-15 minutes called the Canadian 12 minutes workout or something like that. It is age and gender graded and I do the sequence for women my age on the mornings I am not going to the gym.

      In other words. I try to have lots of different things so if I am not doing a big thing, I can at least do a small one. For me it isn’t about weight but about strength and flexibility and these things all really really help. (I could lose 10 pounds but it isn’t going to happen from exercise).

      BF Skinner used to organize his day so he wrote in the morning and after accomplishing his page goal, he would reward himself with classical music. figuring out something you want to do — like read AAM — and then making that contingent on completing your workout is also something you can try.

    20. Red*

      I sold my car and now walk most everywhere, because my city has decent-but-not-great public transportation. Sometimes I even jog, if it’s the only way to not wait half an hour for the next bus.

      1. Red*

        The big thing with this is, I wear comfortable shoes all the time. If I have to have heels or something, I will put them on at the last second and then change out of them right after. It’s too easy to make excuses otherwise.

    21. MsChanandlerBong*

      Good question. I HATE exercise. I would rather have a colonoscopy. A lot of it stems from my medical history (spina bifida, so my knees knock together and my calves get tight when I walk more than two feet, which is quite painful; lupus, so my joints are usually stiff/hurting; heat intolerance, so walking outside is a miserable experience, etc.). I just have a really hard time, but my husband and I don’t have kids, so we really need to start moving around more. Otherwise, we’re going to end up crippled with nobody to help us.

      1. Red*

        I have RA and hate heat and my coworker suggested water aerobics to me, you may want to give it a try if you can. Unfortunately, I couldn’t because of cost reasons :(

    22. Cara*

      I like exercise and it’s still a struggle, LOL!

      First, don’t go home before going to the gym. You go home and you get comfy and next thing you know 2 hours have gone by (I did that 3 times this week, but I still ultimately went). Second, try a bunch of stuff. I’ve done Zumba, running, powerlifting, yoga, spinning, bar class, CrossFit. Some things I liked, others not so much. Some I just do sporadically.

      I also found that I love working out to hip hop music and remixes. Good music can help a lot.

    23. This Daydreamer*

      A YMCA just opened in my city, and it has a POOL! Two of them actually, one of which is just for laps. I am remembering why I loved swimming when I was a kid, and now I can do it all year round. It doesn’t feel like exercise to me (literally no sweat) but I do feel it when I get out of the pool. Finally, a workout that I really look forward to.

  16. The Other Dawn*

    Well, my dad’s house goes up for sale in one week. We’re very slowly starting to clean things out and I took a large item back with me last weekend. Met with the realtor and we only need to do a little minor painting outside, along with some yardwork for curb appeal. We’re happy about that since three of the five of us are out of state. I’m hoping it sells quickly so we can put this behind us and move on to dealing with my brother’s impending passing.

    They’ve changed his timeline to two months, best case. I find I’m dealing with it a little better these days, although it’s still tough. Mostly because all I can think about is the pain he’s going through. He’s having radiation now so he can eat comfortably and not feeling so crappy overall. But cancer is cancer. Basically, they thought the tumor in the esophagus was causing the discomfort with eating, but it turns out the liver has swollen up and pushed all the organs upwards. So that’s making him winded very quickly and making it harder to eat. I shipped some ready-to-drink protein shakes to him so he can at least get some protein and calories in him. What does he do? Mixes them with ice cream. LOL Hey, whatever floats his boat.

    Now I’m headed to the little farm stand up the road for some goodies. I’ve discovered a love for fresh oregano. Makes an awesome flavored goat cheese. I use that along with my basil, some lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix it into goat cheese and voila: delicious flavored goat cheese. :) I do one with fresh dill and lemon, also.

    1. FDCA In Canada*

      When my dad was first diagnosed with his cancer and could hardly get anything down (also esophageal cancer), the doctor did tell him to just get as many calories in him as he could. He got some very-high-caloric protein mix and my mom would blend it up with whole milk, bananas, peanut butter, ice cream, chocolate sauce, whatever (depending on the flavour) and my dad would choke down as much as he could. He would eat a lot of soft and high-calorie foods as well–scrambled eggs cooked in bacon grease was a favourite, I think. Despite the suffering from his chemo, he felt far, far better with some food in him–I think before he had been down to under 600 calories per day because he just could not swallow anything comfortably. So even junk food gave him energy and truly boosted his spirits.

    2. Mimmy*

      Sorry, but the part about your brother mixing the shakes with his ice cream made me giggle. I will keep him in my thoughts.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Basically every single member of my family, including cousins, does this with ice cream. They all put their ice cream in a glass and then pour milk into it. I’m the only one who doesn’t do that!

    3. Sled Dog Mama*

      I had a friend who added olive oil to his shakes to up the calorie content when he had throat cancer

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      So sorry to hear this news about your brother but I share your amusement about eating the protein with ice cream.
      Is he comfortable seeking help from palliative care or hospice to ease his discomfort?
      I hope you and he are able to have some quality time together, even if you’re just sitting and chatting or sharing a friendly silence.
      It’s hard to watch someone you love dealing with advanced, incurable cancer. I apologize if anything I said has caused you distress.

  17. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    A friend invited me to meet her newborn today. I baked bread for her. Is there anything I need to do/remember? Also, how can I be most helpful to her and her baby?

    1. Liz*

      Be excited to see and hold the baby but ask first about washing hands, what she is comfortable with in terms of holding.

      Also ask her how you can help, maybe run an errand or cook something?

      Just offering and listening is so much. And I also remember not being sure of myself, if she mentions anything about pressure from others to do x or y, support het in trusting herself.

    2. Anna*

      How are you feeling today? Are you in any way sick or under the weather? When was your last Tdap? I just had to field the whooping cough case in one kid’s school with the baby boom in the extended family issue. The kid bug of the week may not be as big an issue in the summer as during the school year, but if your allergies may be going into a sinus/ear infection like mine always seem to do, you should bail with the I don’t want to share this explanation. She will be fine with that.

      Just because Mom felt up to a visit when she called you doesn’t mean she will be by the time you get there. Just go with it. It isn’t personal to you. It will take her some time to get a routine. And, she will likely look like death warmed over. Don’t say a word about that. Not. One. Word.

      Offer to do the dishes, the laundry, cut the grass or make a grocery run.

    3. Amy*

      You’re a good friend for asking this question!

      Echoing what others have said about only going if you are 100% healthy and haven’t been around sick people. Being up-to-date on Tdap is ideal. Be sure to wash your hands and Purell as soon as you enter the house. Don’t kiss the baby or get in his/her face even if you don’t feel sick. There was just an awful case of a baby dying of meningitis caused by herpes from a kiss from someone with a cold sore. Kissing young babies is no bueno.

      She will likely have planned her day/napping schedule/feeding schedule around your visit and arriving late or early will foul things up, so be there when you say you will. It was a HUGE pet peeve of mine when I had a newborn and people would show up late or say things like “I’ll drop by sometime in the afternoon.” Also, be very aware of cues that she’s ready to wrap up the visit. She’s likely exhausted and may only be up for a 20-minute chat. Personally, though, I loved for visitors to stay a while so I could have some adult conversation. Just take your cues from her.

      Wait for her to offer to let you hold the baby if she feels comfortable with that. Don’t ask or demand.

      If she needs to pump or breastfeed, offer to give her some privacy. Go do some dishes in the other room or something. She may not care if you stay, but ask.

      Bringing your bread is awesome! Offer to pick up groceries on your way over if you can. While you’re there, offer to do dishes or laundry. She may or may not take you up on it but she could probably use the help.

      Lastly, ask how SHE’S doing. Most people just ask about the baby and she could use some love too. Don’t bring up heavy stuff from your own life right now, just listen and support her.

      Have fun! Enjoy all that sweet baby squishiness!

    4. Sled Dog Mama*

      Offer to do something concrete don’t make her figure out what you can do. If she’s breast feeding and just whips it out without asking if you’re ok just roll with it (she has probably gotten surprisingly comfortable with her body). If she has a baby that doesn’t like to be put down and will let you hold her get her to do something for herself while you hol the baby like shower or take a bath or a nap or trim her toenails (that was huge for me)

    5. Artemesia*

      Make sure you have your DPT shots up to date. Everyone should have anyway, but if you will be around newborns, make sure you are up to date. Pertussis is making a big comeback and adults with minor symptoms can pass it along to newborns where it can be lethal. My boss at my last job got it; we were all notified as soon as he was diagnosed and he stayed out of the office until a course of antibiotics was completed. He had a cough but not all that terrible a one as an adult who had had vaccines that had worn off.

      I am about to check my own status as I have a grandbaby on the way.

  18. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Has anyone tried one of those under-the-desk bike pedal machines? How well do they work? Are they awkward to use? I’m not real thrilled with my current 10-hour days at work, and being tied to a phone means I can’t really even go take a walk around the floor when I want to stretch my legs.

    For context, I’m not short, and most of my height is in my legs, so I’m definitely concerned about jamming my knees into the underside of my desk, but I’m a fidgeter and I’d love to get my fidgeting harnessed for a bit of real exercise.

    1. Anna*

      What about a standing desk? Varidesk has a lot of good options, though they are slightly pricey. You can adjust the desk up when you want to stand, and lower it when you want to sit, very easily because it is spring-loaded. I find that doing my work standing up gives me a lot more energy, and keeps me more cheerful. Plus it’s healthier for you! I have a feeling that even if you got a bike under your desk, sitting for 10 hours a day is still not great for your back, etc.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        That’s also a good option! My only question would be how portable it is. So far I’ve been in my job for 9 months and I’ve had 7 different desks, not counting the times I have been in training and not assigned to any desk. Our assignments tend to shift pretty frequently.

        1. Simone R*

          I’ve seen someone at the library with a collapsible stand that turned the desk into a standing one. If you’re interested that might be something to look into.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I wouldn’t want to carry it home and back, but it’s a snap to move it from one desk to another.

    2. Toph*

      I had one of these, and I am short and frequently found myself bashing my knees on my keyboard tray. I think if I’d had a desk that didn’t have a keyboard tray (which made the underside of the desk about 4″ lower than it otherwise would’ve been) it would’ve been fine. For me it ended up being more of a “pull it out slightly and do ten minutes during a break” type thing than something I could actually do while working.

      Phonewise, do you have a bluetooth headset and/or is it possible for your employer to provide one? Or do your calls require you to be at your computer? I found a good sneak-excercise is when I have long calls scheduled but I don’t need to be glued to the screen, I pace with my headset on. Of course if you’re in a cubicle/shared space that might irritate your office mates. But if you have your own space with a door, that approach might be worth trying?

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Our employer doesn’t provide Bluetooth headsets, but I’m saving up for a nice one! It’s just gonna be…. a while… unless I can convince my family to pool money and get me one for Christmas.

        It’s a common joke at my company that your first quarterly bonus always goes to a better headset than the ones we’re provided.

    3. Get a Haircut*

      I just discovered these the other day! Following this to see what others have to say about them!

      1. JaneB*

        I have a basic sort of stepper thing rather than a pedal thing under my desk at home, and a rocking foot rest at work – as a natural fiddler, I’m definitely happier able to move part of my body. I’ve tried pedal-things and despite having short legs I can’t cope with them under the desk – I either bang my knees or end up cycling with my knees pointing out so the joint angles are wrong and it leads to joint pain.

        I’m a very overweight person with a few joint and lower back issues (which pre-date most of the weight gain, but obviously are not helped by it and which limit exercise options generally) as well as various other issues, and I often have to pull 10 hour days at the computer. I’m also not supposed to stand still for long, so a standing desk isn’t much use to me, and I’m very clumsy (seasonal allergy/sinus problems make my balance wierd) so can only walk safely on a treadmill with all my attention and my hands rested on the side rails for balance, so have not even considered a treadmill desk! Sitting, even with a good chair, was tending to give me leg aches and sometimes even numb spots, but having the rocking foot rest or the stepper keeps me moving more and that’s just about gone completely! It’s probably not great exercise for getting fitter, but my body feels less tired after long days at the desk and I am less frustrated by pent-up need to fidget, so I think they’re worth it!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I got the j/fit mini elliptical, and although I only use it standing up at my standing desk, I lent it to a coworker with a regular desk to use underneath, and she liked it quite a bit, although she is short. There’s much less vertical motion than with a regular elliptical. In fact, there’s less foot motion overall — my phone fitness program records almost twice as many steps in, say, 20 minutes on that than it does for 20 minutes on a full-sized elliptical or treadmill. But that’s fine, I feel like I get less sweaty that way. I mostly want to just keep moving, keep from being too sedentary, and raise my heart rate a bit.

      I got mine for about $100 on Woot!, but they’re $120-140 on Amazon.

    5. Kj*

      I’m using one right now! I have a DeskCycle. I use it at a raised desk while sitting at a stool though. It works well for me and I can use my desk for standing too, which I like. I got a more pricy model as I had one prior that had problems. I use it about 2-4 hours/day at least 6 days a week, have had it for over a year and it is still working well.

      1. Kj*

        And I should add it is fun to use. I really enjoy my working time more. I work from home when I use it, so it is not bothering anyone else. It does creak a little, but not enough to bother people when I have call others.

    6. Anono-me*

      I am average to average plus an inch or two. I banged my knees a lot using a peddle contraption under my desk.

      I do still use it when I can be in my cube but a foot or two away from the computer(telecoms, actual paperwork to read, long phone calls.)

  19. Keladry of Mindelan*

    Anybody on this site like to play video games? I just finished Horizon Zero Dawn and I have feelings. Has anyone else played it? I don’t want to spoil anything, because discovering the secrets is a delightful and gripping part of the game. I can’t stop thinking about humanity, robots, and various ethical choices that you encounter and observe.

    Plus fighting robot dinosaurs is simply cool.

    1. AlaskaKT*

      I don’t play often, but I’m an avid watcher of my husband while he plays. We both thought that was a fantastic game, and my husband platinumed it.

      He actually bought a play station specifically to play Horizon Zero Dawn.

      1. Keladry of Mindelan*

        Nice! I’m working on Platinum, but that might take awhile. It’s such a pretty game! I’m not ready to be done playing in this world :)

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      I do, but my gamer friend makes fun of me because I only like a certain type of game. If it’s a side-scrolling platformer that involves jumping around and collecting gems/coins/bananas/whatever, I’m all about it. I have no interest in multi-player games, first-person shooters, etc. So basically, I play Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Bros. (the older ones and the newer ones for the Wii/Wii U), and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, which is the BEST GAME EVER. It’s just so beautifully designed, and it fits right in with my idea of a perfect game (you run around collecting gems and stomping on bad guys). It’s also HARD, which I like. I love a challenge.

    3. NerdDork*

      I do – mainly story heavy single player games (RPGs and visual novels and the like). I’ve dabbled in FFXIV’s free trial since I have friends who play that, though the time and money sink inherent to MMOs is intimidating. I’m also kinda slow at finishing games in general (trying to get a bit better at finishing one before starting another with limited success thus far).

  20. Ask a Manager* Post author

    We closed on our house yesterday! I’m so excited. The seller is renting back from us for a week, and then we’re using the next week for painting, etc., and then we move in after that. Here is a photo of the backyard, which is the best part of the whole thing:

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It actually is a real forest — the land right behind our piece of it is owned by the Audubon Society. I texted everyone I know yesterday to say “I OWN A FOREST” because I am insufferable.

  21. dating question*

    I met someone new a few weeks ago and we hit it off and I invited them to go out last weekend and we had a great time. I am so unsure what’s the next step? We texted a bit this week (I initiated it). I … am finding that I wish she would either suggest hanging out or a specific plan. But is it premature? Do I need to show more interest by suggesting an outing? I am ok taking it slow but don’t want to seem uninterested. However I don’t want to be pushy either.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I don’t think you need to be concerned about showing insufficient interest. It sounds like you’ve been the one driving the action thus far.

      You might try suggesting that you two get together again, but asking her for suggestions of where she’d like to go or what she’d like to do.

    2. Thlayli*

      If you are a straight guy and she is a straight girl then there is a very good chance she expects you to take the initiative in suggesting dates for the first few … coz cultural expectations. (Please note I’m not passing judgement on this expectation either way, just offering it up as a possible way to interpret her behaviour).

      If either of you are Non-Cis-Het then I Amn’t really qualified to give advice on dating protocol. It could be she is not interested but it could be she is interested and just wants you to do the chasing.

      I’m a big fan of honesty so either way I’d say you should just ask her directly if she wants to meet up again and if so does she want to plan something together or does she want u to plan it.

  22. Claire*

    I wrote last weekend about getting in touch with an old friend and she wrote back. We’ve been emailing one another, but I haven’t heard back from her and it’s been a week. Should I assume that she’s not going to write back? I feel stupid for writing because it’s been about 5 years since we’ve talked/seen each other and while she claimed to be happy to hear from me, she might have also just been being nice. I know she’s busy- she’s getting married soon and they just got a dog, but I feel unsure of things. I think I’ll just let it be and move on, regardless of if she writes back or not.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Aww. I hope if she writes back you reconsider and answer her. When I have reconnected with people, I notice that the conversation is a little choppy in the beginning. Sometimes they answer and some times they don’t. We can go back and forth many times and then silence for a spell. I’d try to roll with it and see what happens.

      1. Claire*

        Oh, I’ll write back! I just meant I need to move on mentally if she doesn’t. I just don’t want to dwell on it. (I worded it poorly.)

    2. someone101*

      Don’t feel stupid it’s nice to catch up! I think socially a week isn’t that long. I mean she’s preparing for a huge life event, probably working and getting a new family member settled in, and the week has probably flown past before she’s even realised. I keep in touch with an old friend she works full time and I’ve not long had a baby; when I get messages from her I think ok I will reply when ive finished making this cup of tea or whatever the next thing I know it’s 5 days later. However she understands as she’s the same with her replies. I think sometimes being an adult just takes up a lot of time!

    3. Simone R*

      I honestly wouldn’t worry too much-my friends and I will email intensely for a month and then it will drop off for a while. It’s a lot to always be responding to emails, and sometimes there’s not that much that happened in a day or a week that feels email worthy or sometimes things are so crazy it’s overwhelming to type out.

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        I agree. Once you’re caught up with someone, it may be a little while before there’s more to say.

    4. Anon attorney*

      I get this because I have a email-only friend who goes silent for weeks and it plays hell with my anxiety/rejection feels. But a week isn’t that long, and if she’s planning a wedding she’s probably pretty busy. Could be she’s been thinking “I must reply to Claire” but hasn’t had time to sit down and do it properly but doesn’t want to just fire off a couple of quick lines either. I think letting go and just trying to value whatever this brings you is a solid strategy.

      1. Saturnalia*

        Ha, just realizing that I both worry the hell out of delayed replies and mysteriously vanish from all communication for various lengths of time while super stressing over my replies. :-)

        Oh, anxiety, always all anxious like that…

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      You can’t email intensely back and forth all the time so these things can come in bursts sometimes.

    6. Mephyle*

      If I were her, and I were happy to hear from you, I would be really bummed if after we managed to get some communication going, you took offense because I was too busy to keep up a constant stream of email (wedding, and dog, and my daily life and all). And then when I finally found time to reply, you ghosted. Yeah, I would figure that you were being insincere when you got in touch and didn’t really want to keep up with me. So please give her a break even if there are months of silence, and assume the best.

  23. Shay*

    Is it weird that I want to grow out the gray/white hair coming in? It’s strictly around my face. Since January I have asked my hairdresser not to touch it at all and she’ll agree — and then cover most of it with highlights/lowlights. It’s almost 8 months and it could have been nearly grown out by now but instead is almost back to day one. I think I can’t go back to her anymore — but now I wonder, will any hairdresser respect this request? Or do I just not get any of my hair touched up at all while I let the front grow out?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      A good hairdresser should absolutely respect that you only want certain areas touched up! Shame on your old stylist for not getting that.

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      Yes, a good stylist should absolutely respect that you want to grow it out. I’ve been seeing my stylist for over 10 years, but she still consults with me before she starts to discuss what I want. She’s never done anything different without asking me about it first.

    3. Nynaeve*

      I have a streak like that and I’ve grown it out before. Some stylists think it’s awesome and others have their fingers actively twitching to try to cover it up. But they’ve all done what I said I wanted. Find a new stylist.

    4. Heaven*

      I don’t think it’s weird to want to grow it out at all! My mum has recently started getting some noticeable streaks of white hair, but they actually blend in really nicely with her natural colour, to the point where she gets asked where she got her highlights done, ironically enough.

      I think when it comes to specifying what you want doing with your hair, it’s helpful to remember that in the hairdresser-client situation, you are technically the boss. YOU are the one telling your hairdresser what you want doing. Think of it as employing them for the service of styling your hair – like any design job, the person providing the service can make suggestions and offer their opinion, but at the end of the day you are the one making the decisions.

    5. Sam Foster*

      A good hairdresser, or really anyone you pay for a service, should do exactly what you want as long as it is legal and within their capabilities. Change hairdressers.

    6. kb*

      A good hairdresser would totally respect this request, though they may suggest ways to ease the transition, especially if your current hair color is dark. I would recommend having a really thorough consultation with a new stylist; if you can, draw out what you’re looking to achieve or find pictures online. Silver hair has been really trendy recently, so I bet there are tons of stylists out there who would be eager to help you embrace those greys.

    7. nonegiven*

      My temples are gray, the hair in those spots is a different texture than the rest. If it would grow out, it would be easier to tame. Even when I’ve grown six inches of straight as a board hair in the back, the temples are still wiry, short and crazy. I’m thinking about just cutting that part short and ignoring it.

    8. Ramona Flowers*

      Your hairdresser isn’t listening and that’s not cool. I’m curious about the growing out thing though – I kind of assumed grey or white would just keep being that colour. Are the roots coming through a different colour?

      1. fposte*

        I thought she meant that she’s trying to let the natural grey grow out but her hairdresser keeps coloring the grey hairs when they grow.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I did get that, I’m just curious about the fact that natural grey grows out – does it not just keep being grey?

          1. Windchime*

            Yes, it keeps being gray. I think when people are saying “grow out”, they mean “let the gray keep being gray as the hair grows” instead of the hairdresser coloring over the gray.

    9. JenM*

      It doesn’t matter if it’s weird or not. It’s your hair and your money. Definitely find a new hairdresser!

    10. Gaia*

      I don’t think it is weird at all. My grey is growing in one strand at a time in more of a “highlights” type fashion around the front of my hair. I kind of like them. But more importantly, your stylist didn’t listen to you. That is not okay. I agree with the others: find someone new who listens.

  24. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Today is the last day of our beach vacation, and I must say it’s been lovely. We’re here with my boyfriend’s whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins) and they’ve been really welcoming. I haven’t felt too overwhelmed. Some rough points: his stepmother is AWFUL for various reasons, and one of the couples in our house is made up of smokers who drink Busch Light all day and don’t really talk. I also have not slept well at all, but there is plenty of napping to be done. I learned why beach vacations are often a week long; after 5 days, the sand can drive you crazy.

    1. Saturnalia*

      I’m glad it’s going well! Sounds like it’s better than you feared, which is always the way we hope things go :-)

      It really does always seem harder to sleep on vacation!!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I usually sleep beautifully in hotel rooms, but this one… D’oh! Our rental was a traditionally rickety beach house (amazing location) with thin walls, and my boyfriend’s dad likes to wake up way early and be productive, so it’s loud. Plus, our rule is that the dog gets to sleep in our bed during vacations, but this bed was a queen and it was a bit tight with two humans and a 65-pound pooch, and he kind of refused to get in his crate. Also, the beer-drinking couple (bf’s uncle and his is-she-really-his-girlfriend-or-not) would wake up at 5am to smoke and start drinking, so it was rough. We’re home now and I kind of passed out sitting up on the sofa.

        My knee, which has been bothering me a lot, is a wreck from all the walking on sand and in flip flops. The dog had the TIME OF HIS LIFE and loves the beach, but he is wiped out from the heat, the activity, and the kids. A lazy day for us for sure, but damn, we seem to need it. I do feel quite rested, though, despite the rough sleeping. The Outer Banks are just as beautiful as everyone says.

  25. Anon here*

    I don’t have much experience in this area, so I’d appreciate some advice.

    There’s a guy that I like in a class I’m taking. He approached me and we talked for a little bit. I don’t know what happened, because then one day I overheard him telling someone that he has an “image and reputation” to uphold or something.

    Does he think he’s better than me or something? After that whole thing, he sort of started avoiding me.

    1. fposte*

      Can you explain why you think the conversation a few days later had anything to do with you? I’m not seeing why you’re connecting the two.

      I think he thought maybe he kind of liked you and then now maybe is interested in somebody else; if so, that’s a classic que sera sera moment.

      1. Anon here*

        When he was mentioning the “image and reputation” thing, I overheard my name and the person he was talking to was looking at me.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I would just give him the benefit of the doubt unless you know for sure. And if he is indeed looking down on you and ignoring you or whatever, well, you dodged a bullet.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This. Your image and rep are far more important than his. Say “thanks for showing me your true colors” and move forward. You can do better than this dude.

          2. SystemsLady*

            Yeah, I can think of a couple charitable possibilities (he’s married or dating and hadn’t told you, you look much younger than him and he’s worried about that, etc.)

  26. matcha123*

    I feel increasingly isolated from the people around me. Logically, I know that I have some good friends who would be fine with hanging out. But, all of my friends come from relatively stable backgrounds, and when they talk about buying homes, finding partners/marriage, promotions, etc. I feel like the odd person out. My job position doesn’t offer promotions and my family is very small and I grew up quite poor. Moreover, just doing simple things like calling up someone to hang out or chat are incredibly difficult for me. Growing up I was told that I didn’t need friends, that the people I called friends were only kind to me because they took pity on poor people and that my friends didn’t really like me because they didn’t call to hang out/their parents didn’t drive to my neighborhood to pick me up (our family didn’t have a car).
    I keep thinking that I’m not fun and my friends here only offer insincere invites to hang out. I know I need to take the initiative, and I do at times. I try to tell myself, repeatedly, that they wouldn’t hang out if they didn’t like me. But those thoughts of being rejected and being annoying keep coming back.
    Do you think it’s worth it to tell my friends this aspect of my past? Would this be too big of a burden for someone to hear? I don’t really want their reassurance, but I guess I want them to understand that I’m not rejecting their friendship? Any advice?

    1. families*

      Are you able to go therapy? My family taught me similar things and it really helped me to work with a therapist to work on dismantling these feelings. For me, these are tied to feelings about your family/ties to your family that have not been fully explored and dismantled, since even though you know intellectually that your friends would not hang out with you if they didn’t lik you, you can’t get rid of it intellectually.

    2. Reba*

      First, do you have access to a counselor of some kind you could talk about this with? The things your family told you growing up are very, very ugly. It’s no surprise that you are still dealing with them and feel somewhat unsure of yourself.

      I think it’s worth sharing some of this with friends. If you wanted to tell someone you’re pretty close to, I think something along the lines of: “Sometimes I don’t accept invitations/I cancel our plans [if this is the kind of thing you mean by ‘rejecting their friendship’] because I struggle with social stuff due to some emotional abuse in my past. It’s not about you and I enjoy spending time together.”

      I’d avoid saying simply “I worry that you hate me” because most people would want to immediately reassure you that they don’t, which the unkind voice in your mind won’t let you believe, so you may still wonder…

      But if they want to tell you that they care about you, try to let them. They might ask what they can do to help, or they might respond awkwardly–for some people this is probably too heavy, honestly–and that’s less than ideal but not the end of the world.

      Good luck!

    3. Andrea*

      Therapy would likely be a good avenue.

      You might also just create an experiment for yourself–the Year of Yes (HT, Shonda Rimes). Say yes to any invitation you get for a year that doesn’t conflict with something else. See how that feels.

      Remember, too, that invitations are two way and to reciprocate.

      1. matcha123*

        Generally, I say “yes” to almost all invitations. I’m happy they’ve invited me! Even if it’s something I’m not terribly interested in, I will go because the person is a friend and I like spending time with them. However, I rarely ever invite people out. I don’t think people would be interested in walking around shopping districts for hours without eating before heading home. And while I’d love to have people over, I don’t have much to offer aside from Netflix. I guess I feel like even when I do want to reach out to someone, I don’t have much to offer.
        I can’t talk about retirement for parents or buying a house or other “normal” topics, and I fear they would get bored or depressed around me.

        I am not doing any therapy, I’m not in an area that offers good services. The past few years I’ve been taking a step back to evaluate my feelings and move from there.

        1. PX*

          So I just want to pick up on this idea that you cant have people over because you dont have much to offer..I’m trying to think of a nice way to put this but thats a very skewed way of thinking? I’m terrible with words and this sounds a lot like it has to do with your upbringing but like, if someone is friends with you – its generally because they enjoy your company? Its not like a competition where you have to have the nicest things to offer them?

          I mean, to try and put it in context, I just made plans with a friend of mine to go over to her place next weekend, order takeaway, watch terrible movies and maybe drink some gin. And thats it. Thats all there is to it. To me, just her hospitality and offering to do that is plenty and is really appreciated! So I guess what I’m trying to say is that just offering and opening up your home to someone to come over and just hang out is usually all you need to do! I dont even have a TV so when my friends come over they’re stuck just talking to me :P

          1. matcha123*

            I guess this comes from friends who had more than me. When they’d come over in elementary school for sleepovers, they’d kind of poo-poo our store brand pop and such. When I’d go to their homes, they’d usually have more food to offer. In high school, one friend invited herself over and went, “I’m a guest, aren’t you going to give me something to eat?” I told her we (I) didn’t have anything to offer aside from bread, and she took the bread but seemed insulted/surprised/disgusted…
            The fact that ordering pizza was a huge ordeal was really demeaning for me. Especially since I had to pay out of my part-time job wages.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Hospitality is PBJ on paper plates. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Offer what you have and make sure the guests feel welcome.

          And Netflix is a great excuse to have people over. Bad Movie Marathon, Silent Movie Night, any other movie theme night. Just serve pizza and, if you want to get really fancy, box mix brownies hot from the oven with ice cream.

          If you cook, have people over for a fancy meal. That and conversation will fill a whole evening.
          If you don’t cook, you can serve take out. Then play cards or a board game. Anything that you can do and talk.
          If you bake, have someone over to help make a few batches of cookies. Or a project too big to be sensible, like homemade puff pastry.
          If you don’t bake, invite someone to make a mess with you trying. If it works well, you get yummy food. If not, a hilarious mess.
          A craft project you’ve never tryed or that you love.

          Just make sure the bathrooms aren’t utterly embarrasing, and probably feed them. Chips and dip work fine.

          Its not hard, and its a lot of fun.

          1. matcha123*

            Okay, I’ll try that. My place is tiny anyways, so I can really only have one or two people over at a time. And strangely, my bathroom is the room I’m most proud of!

          2. Windchime*

            Yes to this. I used to get all anxious over having people over because my family of origin never had guests over who weren’t family (and even that was rare). But I’ve since learned that it’s perfectly acceptable to have someone over to watch a movie and serve popcorn and pop (even if it’s store brand!). A take-and-bake pizza is also perfectly fine; delivery is great if it’s available in your area (it wasn’t when I was growing up so it feels like a big luxury to me now).

            Your friends aren’t going to judge your tiny apartment or your store-brand pop; if they do, then maybe they’re not the kind of people you want to be hanging out with. Honestly, if you were someone that I liked them I would be plenty happy with sharing some microwave popcorn and a diet Coke while watching a movie on Netflix.

    4. HannahS*

      Well, here’s my two cents as someone on the other side of this equation! I have a friend or two that are terrible at initiating things and flake out a lot. It’s been very helpful for me to understand that they are highly anxious and insecure, and didn’t want to initiate because they were sure that I–and our other friends–wouldn’t want to see them. If I hadn’t known that, I would have assumed that they felt ok to see me sometimes for old times’ sake, but weren’t interested in reciprocating or having a real friendship. The knowledge that they feel that way isn’t a burden to me; I just make sure that I invite them to stuff and mentally shrug when my overtures aren’t returned. However, there are some factors to consider.
      1) The fact that they don’t reach out makes our friendship less close, because it assigns me the task of always reaching out and planning; even if I know why, it’s still tiring to always plan/host, so I see them less often.
      2) I have learned that with the exception of my nearest and dearest, other people’s mental health is not my problem. When friend A says stuff like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bother you, I wasn’t sure that you’d want to see me….” I say, “No, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all! I’d have been happy to see you.” and THAT’S IT. I don’t try to work through her insecurities and she doesn’t ask and ask and ask for reassurance. If you/your friends are not like that, be wary of falling into a very taxing dynamic.
      3) It can be as big or as small a deal as you’d like. If you want to share information about your childhood, and have a big conversation in a I-want-you-to-understand-where-I’m-coming-from, do it! If you don’t feel comfortable with that, you can still say, “It’s really hard, emotionally, for me to reach out to people. I’m telling you because I don’t want you to think that I don’t want to be friends; I do! Could you keep inviting me to things?”
      4) It sounds like some people were seriously awful and manipulative to you as a kid. If it’s holding you back from being happy, it’s worth tackling either on your own or with help (which you might already be doing; I don’t mean to presume).

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Agree on 2.

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this stuff but I would really advise starting with therapy. It can be really hard knowing a friend has these issues as it means you worry how your every move will be interpreted. I’m not saying don’t tell them – just be realistic about what you want them to do once they know.

      2. Saturnalia*

        Really good stuff here, I loved to hear from the other side. I’ve used 3 to good effect – it is such a relief to explain how I work to people I’m close to, cause then I don’t feel like they expect me to be more social than I am. It’s tempting to make it a big feelingsdump but brevity provides a clearer point.

      3. matcha123*

        I definitely don’t do the last minute flake out thing. That was one of the things some friends did when I was younger and I hated it. I feel like with the friends I’ve opened up to about portions of my past that were not normal, I then can have a more normal relationship with them. I don’t know if that makes sense. But, when I tell closer friends that I grew up poor and struggle now, it makes it easier for me to talk to them in general. Not for making excuses about bad behavior. From there I can speak more freely with them and I’m more likely to reach out to invite them for a cup of coffee.
        However, I don’t really know if I’m dropping a huge emotional bomb on them. For me, it’s like, now that my friend knows this part of me, I feel comfortable chatting about whatever or letting them know my preferences in a more normal way (ie “I’d love to go out, but I’m not feeling being around people, how does next week look for you?”). I don’t want them to feel like they need to tiptoe around my feelings. And after I open up to someone, it’s like I can be myself.
        I will admit that the people I am closest to know are the types that are more aggressive about contacting all of their friends to talk about their personal frustrations. It makes it a bit easier for me to stay in contact when my friend wants to rant, but also listens to my frustrations, too.

        Yes, I’ve really been working on trying to tackle this. And before I do call someone, I rehearse scenarios where they say “no” and I keep reminding myself that everyone is entitled to say “no” or turn down an invitation to an event.

        1. HannahS*

          It sounds like you’re not dropping an emotional bomb. I think that people will take their cues from you; if you feel or act like the purpose of the conversation is to work through your childhood difficulties or get reassurance, then that’s what the conversation will be. But if it doesn’t feel like a feelings-bomb to you, it probably doesn’t feel like one to them. What I was trying to get at with point 2 is that my friends share really personal information without the expectation that I’m going to be their therapist, and I know better than to try to be their therapist anyway, so it doesn’t become this big emotional mess where our roles have changed or anything, it’s just, like, getting a deeper understanding of someone I care about. It sounds like you’ve had good results in the past!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Sorting through stuff from my childhood, I used to tell myself 20 years in the making and it will be another 20 years in the UNmaking. Actually things started getting better when I got into my 30s. My 40s were even better.

      Honestly, you have already faced the worst rejection there is. And that rejection is family who tells such a nasty, nasty LIE to a child. Why on earth would anyone do that to a child? The people you were most dependent on FAILED you in the biggest way, they did not teach you how to survive and thrive. Framed this way, anything that happens next will never be as bad.

      But in some ways we have to prove to ourselves that the world does not work the way we were taught. This means taking risks. What risks are you willing to take? My suggestion is take a long series of baby steps. This is where you don’t do anything that hard but you keep trying. It’s super easy to think of all the things you will not do, tell yourself to stop and think of things you will try. If you dwell on what you cannot do then you will have difficulty starting anything.

      A few years ago I lost my husband and numerous close family members. I was reeling. And I was not thinking straight. But I told myself, “If I want to prove I am alone in the world, I WILL be able to do that.” This is not actually a good goal. And cruel irony, the way out was to force myself to go out the house with a smile on my face. (I did take breaks, I did not make myself do this every single day.) It worked, it took time to work though. I will always be a person who enjoys my quiet time and probably you will find that about yourself also.

      My suggestion to you is to logically look at your approach, extrovert yourself one day and then give yourself a day of rest the next day. But KEEP doing this. Your rest period will be as important as your active period.
      My next suggestion, I have mentioned a few times to others, is to make a group of acquaintances. People you know from the library or church or the gym, etc. This helps because you learn what other people are doing and their interests, which gives you things to talk about and think about. It gives you random, positive interactions.

      Books can be a great friend to you. You can read on dysfunctional families or you can read about friendships and how healthy relationships work. I read a lot of advice columns for YEARS. I am not sure what topics would be relevant to your setting but you can start with googling and looking for books discussing things tangent to what you have seen in life.

      Seems to me that you have been commenting on AAM for a while now. This is great! You found a way to put yourself out there and talk with others. So you are already helping yourself and maybe not even realizing.

      I agree with the therapy suggested above. And I would also like to ask you to mull something over. When you are worried about people liking you, do you ever try to figure out if you like them? Of the times I have asked this question most people told me NO. They never even tried to figure out if they liked the people they were trying to hang out with. Sometimes the best we can get is knowing that we genuinely like a person. What they do is on them. We are only responsible for our own sincerity. So stop and think the next time Lizard Brain acts up. Ask yourself, “But do I actually like this person?” Be confident in your own sincerity.

      1. matcha123*

        I think your last paragraph is pretty true. When I look back, I see that I’ve let a few people’s actions dominate how I react to various situations. I switched jobs a few months ago, and I’ve met some really open people. I keep trying to fight back that voice in my head that is telling me that they wouldn’t want to hang out with me. So far, their actions say that they enjoy being around me. Now it’s up to me to reciprocate, because I do like being around them!

    6. Chaordic One*

      Don’t avoid the friends that you already have, but don’t just settle for them either. There are people that I consider friends who I know I can’t really count on to be there for me when I need them, so I’ve continued to explore new things and to make new friends, in addition to the old.. (You can never have too many friends.) I’ve met a lot of interesting people and made a lot of friends by volunteering.

      1. matcha123*

        Hmm…This is really something I’ve been reflecting on for a while. I kind of assumed that if the people I knew best were, at most, lukewarm towards me, that most people were the same. But I’m starting to see that good friends are not like that at all…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          That is right, keep spreading out and finding more people. Watch for folks who do random acts of kindness, either to you or other people. This tells you something about their character.

  27. Debbie Doormat*

    How do I find and maintain a good balance between being a sympathetic ear and feeling like a punching bag?

    I’ve been assigned the role of “therapist” to my friends. I’m quiet and a good listener, so they tend to unload all of their problems onto me. It’s my own fault, because I try to help them and give them advice. One friend even told me, “I just need to vent all my emotions and you tend to face the brunt of those emotions.”

    When I need a shoulder to lean on, they are there, but not as much. (They seem annoyed.)

    1. fposte*

      Can you identify which part makes you feel like a punching bag? Is it the failure to reciprocate, the feeling that conversations tend to be one-sided, or all of the above or something else? (Also, I find often what happens to me isn’t so much that I don’t want the role as that I don’t want *only* the role; I’m okay being the organizer, but I don’t want it always to be me organizing and our relationship being only me organizing.)

      You have a couple of possibilities, both of which involve you taking some action. One is to explicitly raise this pattern–“Hey, I’ve noticed I tend to passively slip into the role of shoulder to cry on, and then I feel like I’m missing out on the *good* stuff in people’s lives and also I end up not feeling able to tell people my own problems. Can you help me break that pattern?” Putting it this way makes it about them helping you change, rather than you telling them to be different. Another is to just start changing your conversational approaches. If somebody seems to be settling down for a long moan, redirect them–“Oh, I hate that kind of thing! But I gotta ask if you saw the last episode of [whatever]–I’m dying here!” I suspect also that you feel driven to pick up dropped clues, so stop doing it–if somebody answers “I don’t know; it’s hard to think about that with my work problems” you don’t have to give them an opening to talk about the work problems. You can also split the difference and make it about “today”–“I’m not up to facing heavy talk today–can we talk about our cats?”

      It’s also possible you’re in a friend-drift stage of life, which happens; people grow at different paces, and sometimes friends from old patterns become an uncomfortable fit.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think you need to separate your desire to help and your desire to be helped. I understand the feeling of being taken advantage of, but I find that I need to resist bean-counting in relationships, as all that does is breed resentment, and makes it difficult to frame what I do want from others.

      If you’re tired of listening, then change the subject or remove yourself from the situation — Captain Awkward has great advice about drawing and holding to boundaries.

      If you’re tired of not being listened to, then find people who listen to you and spend time with them, and when your friends talk over you or dismiss you, address that, but don’t bring up your listening to them. That makes it sound like you’re doing it with the expectation of reciprocity.

      Like I said, I understand that feeling, I’ve had friends who were users, who didn’t spare a thought for others, or were just plain selfish with time or other resources. It worked out much better when I just told them what I wanted/needed, and if I didn’t get it I just didn’t hang out with them as much. But often stating your wants and needs that plainly can help.

    3. HannahS*

      I don’t know, but sympathize. Is it possible to be less available? I know with one friend I just hit a limit, and when she would ask me if I could talk, I’d give a “Sorry, no” or “I’m really busy right now, but we can talk next week” by which point the crisis would be over. It helped to, well, not be there for people as much.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is why I don’t do venting with anyone. I got drained, totally drained.

      I would point blank say, “Is this a vent or do you want to solve/slow this problem? Because if it’s a vent, I can’t do vents anymore. I am maxed out.”

      I felt more like an enabler than I did a peer. I enabled some people to keep making the same lousy choices over and over. They would get their fill of crap, come over dump it on me and then go back for more.

      Some folks have been doing this for 30 years. That should scare you into action, right? I stopped listening about year 22 or so. And they are still out there venting to some poor soul.

      Let people know that you have become solutions focused. You don’t mind listening to a problem IF the two of you are going to brainstorm solutions after the problem is explained.
      If people tell you that they always listen to your problems and you must listen to theirs, start spending less and less time with those people.

      1. Saturnalia*

        There is someone in my life with whom I will be trying variations of that line! Because it actually has been years of the same venting topics, and I care enough for this person that I want to at least try helping them see the pattern.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          For me it was not worth maintaining the relationship if my chief job was to listen to the rants. Push came to shove on this point for me when I had my own “life stuff” going on that demanded my immediate attention. I could not sink the time in anymore and I got a little ticked that certain people could not see I was having some life changing stuff going on. “But you don’t understand, I was orphaned 55 years ago!” No, I do understand. I also understand that you have had 55 years to build a life after your tragedy, your folks did not die yesterday. It’s a part of your life story, not the sum total of your life story.
          It felt heartless to me, but then I realized what was missing was that I needed to take care of me first and bale myself out of my own hot mess.

          1. Saturnalia*

            That totally makes sense. I don’t think it was heartless of you to put on your own oxygen mask first!

            I think a very key test of any relationship is how conflicting needs are handled. They needed to vent, you needed support… And it always ended in them getting to vent. I don’t have that particular bugaboo to deal with, but I’m always watching to make sure I’m not giving up on my own needs just to be a rant receptacle.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yes, right. Don’t wait until there is an unfortunate extreme in life in order to see that they are taking and you are giving and not much else is going on.

    5. just another day*

      omg, been there! About 10 years ago I worked my way out of this role by focusing on being extremely humble and remembering (and constantly reminding myself) that I can’t provide advice because I don’t have all of the information (even if the person seems to be telling me everything) and I don’t want the responsibility of having influence over someone else’s decisions. I’ve learned to only ever give advice when specifically asked for it and even then I work hard to re-frame the request into questions for the person to consider.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      People who drain you are often a one-way street – they won’t change or reciprocate and will react badly if you set boundaries.

      Stop trying to help. Ask yourself what beliefs you have – do you feel you have to help? Why, what does it mean if you do or don’t help?

      It was very hard for me to learn to say “oh dear, I hope you get it sorted” but my god it’s been liberating.

  28. Sparkly Librarian*

    My wife and I were contacted by a pregnant woman who is considering making an adoption plan. It’s VERY early in the process, and it may come to nothing, but I am an incorrigible planner (and it helps me cope). She lives in Michigan and is due in January, so we two native Californians would have to navigate the frozen Midwest for two or three weeks, with a newborn, while we wait for the legal paperwork to go through and allow us to return home with the baby. I imagine that we’d be inside most of the time (hotel rooim with kitchenette, Ronald McDonald House, or similar), but we’d still have to go to and from the hospital, the grocery store, and the airport at a minimum. How do you keep the baby warm and dry in a land of ice and snow?? Other advice from cold-weather natives (or those acclimated) is welcome. Not so much looking for adoption advice just now; suffice it to say that I know a lot can happen in six months and we are keeping in touch with our agency.

    1. Emmie*

      Congratulations (I hope!) and fingers crossed for you.
      You won’t take the baby out much, if only to the airport and maybe a doctor’s visit. Have one of you two warm up the car for 10-15 minutes. Since you’re there for a short time and the baby is little, she won’t need a snowsuit. I’d cover her with an extra fleece blanket in the car seat, and drape another fleece or wool blanket over the car seat like a tent. It’ll keep all her heat inside her space. Like other humans, babies body temps vary so touch her to see how cold and warm her hands and feet are. You can put her in socks, and those little baby mittens. She’ll be fine. You two will be a bit worried. ;).

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      If you’re somewhere you won’t have to drive all the time, I say baby-wearing with the baby under your coat with you. That way, if you’re warm, they’re warm. If you are hot, the baby probably is, too, and needs a little cooling off. (It was so easy then…)

    3. Yetanother Jennifer*

      It’s recommended that you do not put a coat on a baby and then buckle them into their car seat. Coats can compress significantly during a crash. You can buy a warm cover to go over a baby bucket car seat and that should be safe and sufficient for what you need. And lots of people just drape a blanket over the handle. Just keep in mind that babies can’t regulate their own temperatures so you need to keep an eye out for signs of cold or overheating. Also, dress the baby in layers so you can add or remove clothing as needed. Good luck!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        For the short amount of time we’ll be there, a blanket may be the answer. Or someone local might have a carseat cover we can borrow. What are those things called?

        1. Thlayli*

          Car seats these days can be taken in and out of car with baby in it. So put baby in car seat in their indoor clothes while you are indoors then just pile on the blankets right before you go out. Remember a folded blanket is 2 layers and a double fold is 4 layers. I think for newborns rhey revommend 2 layers more then adults (though please look this up as I may be misremembering). So if you are in the car wearing 3 layers baby should have 5 – a vest, babygro, folded blanket and an extra blanket. Don’t forget a hat.

    4. Jen*

      Babies can’t go into thier car seats safely with puffy winter stuff (too much air space to be safely restrained in an accident) so you likely don’t need to worry about that – just do the usual layers, and in this case on top of the straps in the car seat – blankets etc. Baby wearing is great for outdoor walks and public transit, and even in a stroller you’ll want the baby strapped in and blankets on top. They can’t see too far from thier faces so a blanket over the stroller to protect from the wind isn’t even boring especially if the quilt side faces them. How lovely for your family to get a few weeks to bond together in the cold – you can cuddle and visit and sing and whatever else you’ll want to do without many strangers wanting to see the baby because they’ll all be rushing in the cold from place to place too. In northern Canada where my family has thier babies we also spend a HUGE amount of time in museums and malls and libraries so we can be inside and warm but somewhere different to walk around and explore. You all are going to have so much fun!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Thank you! I will research some of those indoor possibilities as well… even with an adorable little one eating up all our sleep, I expect we might get a little bored of the same four walls after a bit. I am looking forward to the bonding with just the three of us (in any match where we have to wait on ICPC) — it’s the positive side to being stuck away from home for so long without our support network.

        You made me think about something, though… Where we are, babies in bucket seats get transferred into the car and then parents load up the stroller and the shopping bags and all (or the carseat stays in the car, and the kiddo gets taken from the baby carrier and placed into the seat while the grownup kneels and leans in from outside), and this all happens out in the parking lot or at the curb, and the car doors and hatchback are all open all the time. Obviously not so good when it’s freezing outside. Do places with colder weather have more sheltered parking structures, or different methods of doing that without suffering unduly? I feel silly for never having contemplated this.

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        Hoping this doesn’t double-post…

        Thank you! I will research some of those indoor possibilities as well… even with an adorable little one eating up all our sleep, I expect we might get a little bored of the same four walls after a bit. I am looking forward to the bonding with just the three of us (in any match where we have to wait on ICPC) — it’s the positive side to being stuck away from home for so long without our support network.

        You made me think about something, though… Where we are, babies in bucket seats get transferred into the car and then parents load up the stroller and the shopping bags and all (or the carseat stays in the car, and the kiddo gets taken from the baby carrier and placed into the seat while the grownup kneels and leans in from outside), and this all happens out in the parking lot or at the curb, and the car doors and hatchback are all open all the time. Obviously not so good when it’s freezing outside. Do places with colder weather have more sheltered parking structures, or different methods of doing that without suffering unduly? I feel silly for never having contemplated this.

        1. Jen*

          Ha! That’s so interesting, I feel silly for not contemplating it on the other side! I suspect we have a bit more shelter options, at least for the librarian type people (I was raised by two librarians, so I am here to say you all give your kids an awesome life because of the access to information). In our family usually it just means two parent families get to trade off – in our family it was based first on skill then on interest – so my dad was skilled and interested in gardening and music while my mom was skilled and interested in finances and logistics – so the division of labour would extend to unloading the car – kids in first, adult to deal with them, and second adult deals with kid debri and taking garbage out of the car (even in frozen climates you’ll want to police the kids seats for food and beverage). May I also suggest some of those daytime movie theatres which are welcoming to young families? They came after our time but sound like they welcome fussy babies and parents who are stil adjusting and might let you and your wife feel like you’re getting a break that’s better than just in front of the TV. Also, if renting a vehicle ask if they have remote starters which are a total luxury if hotel has a parking lot in zapping site, otherwise I totally spring for valet because why not if you can afford to eliminate hassle? In addition to museums and libraries we also spent a LOT of time at art galleries in the winter and outdoor public history and art sites in the summer – it’s possible that in Canada we were also seeking out sites welcoming to a variety of families – I’m hoping that would also ring true in the states? Especially when you and your kid are just adjusting to loving and caring for each other – it’s so nice to be in spaces where you don’t have to worry about emotional or other boundaries

          1. Jen*

            By librarian type people I mean we often are lucky enough to have options with resources, including money – so we always had houses with garages for instance so the first load of the car and the last unload are easier. It’s also true that it’s possible to adjust to the cold, same as the heat, so it’s possible that over time in addition to proper clothing for grown ups and blankets/mitts/hats for babies feels even more effective – not sure you’ll be there long enough for that to take effect – but if nothing else the layers won’t be a waste in y

            1. Jen*

              Oops – won’t we a waste in your home climate I mean. And re car seats – in a home we often have storm doors so in a no-garage situation a single adult could leave the main door open while loading the car and listening for baby cries, and load the baby last – then on the unload its weirdly often still baby last because if they are sleeping you don’t want to wake them and the warmth of the car typicall lasts enough during unload, and an awake and fussy kid is often best restrained in the car during unload so they don’t go bad inside the house during unloading. A garage or hotel overhang shelter type thing will help – so you’ll be good in a hotel or B&B scenario. Also, people from cold climates LOVE bragging about thier toughness and explaining it which means you can usually co-op help from opinionated but helpful service people and strangers

    5. amanda_cake*

      It is cold where I live, but not as cold as it is in Michigan.

      Baby will go into infant carrier with base, so the carrier can be taken in and out of the car easily. You put it in base and there’s a click to let you know it’s in there. Absolutely no snow suits or big clothes as others have said. Carseat covers are great. You can sometimes get coupons to buy one for the cost of shipping it to you.

      As far as baby carriers, that could be helpful in your travels if you have a kid that wants to be close to you. My best friend is obsessed with Tula carriers. They ain’t cheap, but they are nicely made and resale value holds well. Check them out–they do small runs of prints so you have to snap up something you like quickly.

      The big things you will need to buy/bring are diapers, blankets, wipes, and outfits. I also suggest taking baby out as little as possible in the beginning due to the weather. It will be way easier to send mom or dad to grocery store alone while the other stays with the baby.

    6. Windchime*

      Your question reminds me of when I brought my first newborn home from the hospital. He had been in a Seattle hospital, but we were bringing him home to the cold, snowy part of the state. We bundled that poor little kid up in an undershirt, a warm sleeper that snapped up the front, and then yet another warm full-body bag type thing along with a knit hat. Then he got buckled into his car seat and covered in a blanket. It was a 3 hour trip and it’s a wonder he didn’t cook to death, he was so layered up.

      Fingers crossed for you!

    7. Jessica*

      Congrats! Sending good vibes to you and to the birth mother that all goes smoothly.
      I’m from MN (where I was the oldest of 5 kids) and now live in IL (with my 1-year-old), so I know babies and cold weather. :) It will be fine! Put the baby in a hat and a couple layers of warm clothing, then into the carrier/car seat while still inside. Wrap a nice fleece blanket around the baby, and then drape lighter breathable blanket over the top of the handle. In regards to your question about getting in and out of cars, our infant car seat could latch into our stroller. The car seat “hood” and the top of the stroller would each extend to cover the entire carseat, so it was a pretty wind-proof set-up and I’m guessing retained a fair amount of warmth. But if you’ll be with your partner, just always drop off the baby and parter1 close to the door, and then partner2 can park and bring in all the stuff.
      In general I would recommend staying in…not just because of the weather but because the newborn stage goes by SO fast! Go out when you have to for appointments, etc, but otherwise enjoy this special time of just being together. You can add in some outings (which TBH are always kind of stressful with your first baby until you get the hang of it) once you are back in CA!

  29. anon wet pants*

    I need help with a script to say to my boyfriend ‘s mom. She is in her seventies and has some health problems. She has a warm, kind, and loving personality and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Several times that we have gone out and done family things together, she has wet her pants. The first few times we went to her home and she cleaned up and changed. This last time, she didn’t and when we finally got to her house, she didn’t change and spent the rest of the day in her wet pants. The boyfriend doesn’t want to say anything but I feel awful for the people who have sit in the restaurant chair or movie seat after her. Does anyone have a script of something to say? She already wears adult diapers and her doctors are aware of the problem. I am thinking of suggesting having a change of clothing in the car for her. But I don’t want to embarrass her. Should I ignore it though? I am going to check back Sunday night and I can’t check this post if any other information is needed so I hope I have given enough until then.

    1. fposte*

      Obviously a shortcut is to notify the establishment when you’re leaving about the seat, so at least they know.

      However, it sounds to me like her adult diapers aren’t doing the job, and it’s worth considering the possibility that there’s a dementia factor in here if she’s not changing wet clothes or, I suspect, changing the adult diapers, hence the problem. I don’t know details on those–can you check to see if there are better brands or what the recommended change frequencies are? Does she have enough control over her urinary flow that regularly going to the bathroom would help this?

      Relevant though those questions are, they don’t answer the question of what you do. I think your boyfriend should contact her doctor with this information, because it really could be significant (I can’t tell if your boyfriend is reluctant to speak to his mother about delicate topics or just passive period). If she can use a bathroom, you could start relying on stereotype and hitting the ladies together before and after meals; whether you’re open with her about the strategy depends on your relationship with her and your role in her son’s life. As does just about anything else you could do as an intervention with her; you have to be pretty close to somebody before you can say “Hey, how about you change your Poise and your pants before we go to the movie?”

    2. GirlwithaPearl*

      This is your boyfriend’s job and he needs to step up and handle this like an adult.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      There are different level of diapers, from drips to gushes. Does she have the best one?
      I ageee that your boyfriend should be the one having the conversation. That said, you could bring up the comfort factor and also that Uric acid is hard on the skin (diaper rash, right?). Offer to help her change since you’re together in the ladies room.
      Something to note. Your boyfriend’s avoidance of the hard conversation is a problem for your relationship too. Those are critical for healthy relationships.

      1. Thlayli*

        My thought too – if he is happier leaving his own mother sitting in urine soaked clothing than doing anything about it then that does not bode well for him as a potential husband/father (if that’s what you’re looking for). She’s his mother, it’s his responsibility to look after her when she get to the stage of not being able to look after herself (which it sounds like she has reached).

        1. Jen*

          I hear you all, and you’re right, but it’s so difficult even for families with excellent communication to deal with this – it’s a major transition in the relationships as well as in physical and mental health and even in my large and experienced family with lots of nurses and teachers and other people used to leading during health problems it took a while to cope and manage this change with my grandmas, I’d try to be kind to the boyfriend as he navigates it and not extrapolate too quickly to his own life

    4. WellRed*

      Echoing comments on quality, as well as make sure they are right size. Also, sadly, echoing dementia comments because she’s…not changing even when it’s easy to do. Finally, there are also underpads she could sit on to protect chair, but not sure how discreet that is in public.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I think it is better to use underpads than leave a urine soaked seat. Even if you tell the establishment, it is difficult to get urine and the smell out of upholstery. Scheduled bathroom breaks is a good idea. Just be matter of fact.

      2. Isobel*

        You may be able to find seat pads that look pretty much like a normal cushion, so wouldn’t attract too much attention (other than “oh, that person maybe needs a bit more padding for comfort”). My mum has one for the car because my brother can be incontinent if he has an epileptic seizure.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Loop in your boyfriend first, once you have a plan. Get his buy-in or support. If you can help him to figure out what his role might look like.
      I have a male friend whose mother had kidney problems. She was still okay mentally, though. My friend totally backed away from any “female issues” even though men pee also. He just did not want to get involved in that level of care. He did bust his butt taking care of many other things, though.

    6. Laura*

      So I still wet my pants on occasion at almost 27. I definitely recommend taking a change of clothes(and a grocery bag for the wetted ones) if you know that it’s likely to be an issue. Or just keep a set in the car so that you don’t have to remember. As for the chair issue… do make sure that the folks know.

      And as a pure example of take my advice cause I don’t use it- a timer might be useful.

      Good luck.

    7. Continence Nurse*

      I’m a Continence Nurse so my take is a bit different. Do you have those where you are, and if so, does she know? There will certainly be a Continence Foundation somewhere where you live, providing access to resources and advice, and probably a freecall number to speak to a nurse. Incontinence is a symptom, not a disease, and while not every cause is fixable, there are plenty of management options. General practitioners can be a bit out of the loop – they have plenty of other things to concentrate on.
      Firstly, sudden worsening of leaking is very frequently caused by infection, and wearing pads increases the likelihood. It’s always worth checking (by dip stick, then sending a sample for micro culture).
      My take is that this is a touchy subject for an adult son and an elderly mother, and if it were me, I’d be matter of fact, and when you’re alone with her, just ask if she needs some help managing her incontinence. I’ve been doing this a while and I’m still surprised by how much people want my help.
      There are a bewildering array of products out there and people tend to stick to the ones they know. If she needs better options, did you know that the big brands have guides on their websites, and many will send you samples to try. They often have advisors too. Try Tena, Depend, maybe Hartmann/ Moli .
      Passive leaking is not a normal part of ageing, but it can be very common in type 2 diabetes, so I’m wondering about that.
      Please, have a really kind conversation with her, offer some options, maybe she just feels hopeless about it. Even if she has mild dementia, she’s going to be aware of this.

      1. Teach*

        This is really good advice. There could be all kinds of health changes at play here.
        There are also specialists in the US that work with women on pelvic issues with specialized physical therapy. Their typical patient is an older woman with incontinence. Most doctors, even most OB/GYNs don’t refer because there is a belief that it’s “normal” for women, especially older women, to have incontinence. She may not know that there is help to be had.

    8. anon wet pants*

      Thank you all for your kind replies. My boyfriend does take care of his mom except for this one blind spot. I think I will just support him with this and try to discreetly let the establishments know if the problem come up again. The idea of chair pads is a great one and I would not have thought of it myself.

  30. Tau*

    So after a week and a half of searching, I have a flat! I will not have to start newJob while sleeping on someone’s couch! Said flat isn’t perfect, but I’m still looking forward to it a lot. (Not perfect mainly means that the architect was deeply in love with windows and didn’t consider that someone living on the ground floor might want some privacy. Especially while sleeping. Or showering. I’ve spent the last week learning more about different types of curtains and how to install them than I expected to ever need to know at this stage in my life.)

    For the first time in my adult life, I have something beyond the actual flat, namely a little terrace. I’d really, really like to do something with this seeing as I have yearned for a balcony for years. Decades.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for potted plants that one could keep on a south-facing terrace which I can buy or start growing at this time of year? This is in Germany, so summer around 15-30C, plenty of frost and little light from October/November onwards – smaller plants could maybe come inside. I’m generally a fan of edibles and am planning a herb garden, but it’s too late in the year to do a lot of the other things I’ve considered (tomatoes *sniff*). Also taking flower recommendations.

    1. someone101*

      Snapdragons! They prefer cooler weather and usually die out in warmer temperatures and they have such beautiful vivid colours!

  31. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Buying furniture from sites like Wayfair or Joss & Main — good idea or bad idea? I’m not going to buy a full-on couch from them because that’s something I want to sit on first, but what about for smaller items, like chairs or tables? We have a huge new house to furnish and our existing stuff will only fill about 20% of it, and I’m looking for ways to do it without going bankrupt. Joss & Main seems to have some really attractive stuff, but given the prices, I’m suspicious. Anyone have first-hand experience with them?

    1. Toph*

      I would totally have done the exact same thing. That’s awesome. I’ve had good experiences with smaller pieces from Wayfair, a bench seat for kitchen table, and some outdoor furniture, small bookshelves. All required assembly so if you’re not up for that it may not be the best, but I’ve found the on-site reviews of each piece to be accurate and helpful. One thing to keep in mind about Wayfair, they have nearly constant sales where something is super discounted for 48 hours, and then a few days later, something else is. So if there’s a particular piece you like but isn’t quite in budget, waiting a few days it may suddenly be on sale. On the other hand if you see something you like and it is currently on sale, don’t wait.

      1. Toph*

        Oh weird. The first two sentences of that comment were from a different comment I’d started and not posted and this seems to have combined them…

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        When I was furnishing my rented, unfurnished flat, I didn’t buy all my furniture at once. Even though almost everything came from Ikea, it soon adds up. So I started with the essentials, a bed, and some stools for the little breakfast bar in the kitchen, then the next month bought 2 sofas, then some wall units and a matching table and chairs the month after that.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I bought a bar from Wayfair. Process was fine. Quality wasn’t great, but I expected that for under $200. The boyfriend very kindly assembled it for me, but he seemed to think it was pretty easy. I wouldn’t get a sofa from them, but an accent piece or two, sure.

      I got our accent chairs from World Market, on sale, and I loooooove them. Decent quality, too. So I would recommend that option.

    3. alexa, set timer for ten minutes*

      I have a Wayfair bed frame in my guest room and while I had to hire someone to assemble it, I’m pleased with how it looks and there have been no problems so far (the real test will be when my parents visit and there are 2 people sleeping in it instead of the usual 1).

    4. CAA*

      My parents bought chairs from Wayfair for the kitchen table and they are actually quite nice. They are solid wood with a woven cane seat, and they are a good match for some similar chairs they already had.

      That said, I’ve looked there myself for some things like living room side tables and find that I just can’t wade through all the junk to find the quality items. I ended up going to a consignment store here in town and found some very high quality pieces for a fraction of what they would have cost new. I was able to see and touch them, so the decision was much easier. Plus they came with free delivery that got them up the spiral staircase to my second floor living room, which is always a major consideration when I buy anything for the house.

    5. Clumsy Clara*

      We bought a bed from Wayfair that arrived damaged. Getting store credit back was a pain. We used that store credit to purchase a boxspring for another bed that arrived broken. Getting a new one was a pain. Needless to say we don’t buy furniture from Wayfair anymore, but I think our situation was an anomaly, as I’ve heard good things about others’ experiences with them.

    6. New Bee*

      Definitely don’t buy a couch from Wayfair–ours ripped after less than a year, and the stitch pattern made it impossible to get fixed. But we have a dining set from them that we liked, and my mom furnished my grandmother’s bedroom with them and she seems to like it.

    7. Merci Dee*

      Getting accent tables, etc. from Wayfair is a good idea, but I’d recommend that you pick up your anchor pieces (sofa, arm chair, etc.) first. It’s easier to find accents to match the big things than it is to find big things to match the accents.

    8. Emmie*

      I bought a guest bed frame from Wayfair. It was a great deal. There’s tons of assembly. I had to pay someone to put it together mostly b/c I didn’t want to do it.

    9. Bad Time with Wayfair*

      I had a terrible experience with Wayfair when I moved into my first apartment. I called to place an order, because I needed them to not ship the pieces until I’d be moving in. They took my email down incorrectly, and started shipping immediately, which caused problems with my management company. And I didn’t know, because they couldn’t email me. Then, they sent me the wrong piece of furniture, took a very long time to correct the mistake, and made me deal with returning the large package on my own. I’m not using them again.

    10. Dead Quote Olympics*

      Don’t have firsthand experience, but Wayfair owns Joss & Main (it took me a while to figure that out) so if you see something you like on one site, check the price of it on the other site. My preference for budget furniture of the non-upholstered variety is World Market. The style isn’t always what I’m looking for, but if it is, then I’ve found the quality has been solid. I’ve looked at CB2, but never bought, but others have and been satisfied with the quality.

      There are a bunch of what are called “Ikea disrupters” that are trying to do for furniture what Everlane did for clothing — direct to consumer furniture. I have no personal knowledge, but you could try looking for reviews for furniture at Article (https://www.article.com) or Hem (https://us.hem.com) or Brush Factory (https://www.brushmanufactory.com/shop) or google around for “direct to consumer furniture.” The designs are pretty mid-century modern, but so is IKEA.

      Are you a Costco member? Sometimes they have decent stuff online and they have their awesome return policy.

    11. nonegiven*

      Make sure you can furnish a place to sleep, to keep your clothes. A place to sit and eat, a desk to work and a place to watch TV or whatever you like to do for fun. Take your time picking out something you like instead of hurrying to fill the spaces because they’re empty.

    12. Clever Name*

      I bought a dining room table from wayfair. I wouldn’t buy furniture from them again. Quality is quite mediocre.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I bought lighting for my home from Wayfair. I was very pleased overall and things did not go well.
      I bought some sconces. I had planned for 100 watt lighting in that area. I got the sconces and the label inside said 60 watts. Noooo.
      I got an overhead light for my kitchen and it had a plastic “shade”. This is a piece of plastic probably 4 feet long by a couple of feet wide. The shade was broken in half. That probably had something to do with the foot print on the outside of the box.

      I called the company. The man worked his tail off. For the sconces, I had found another pair I would buy in exchange. He called the manufacturer directly to make sure the new sconces were 100 watts as stated on the website. He emailed me shipping labels to return the sconces I had.
      For the kitchen light, which was much larger, he told me to toss it out. I was sent a new one free of charge.

      The lights came and they are great. They fit in the way I thought they would and I am pleased with the level of illumination.
      Seeing how the representative worked to make my order right, I would definitely do business there again.
      The lights are not top drawer stuff. But they are solidly made and probably will last me quite a while.

      To fill your new home, I would really recommend taking your time. Shop tag sales and shop going out of business sales. Summer is a great time to do this. The bargains you can find are incredible and the stuff is almost new or new. Here we have a carpet outlet place. Once a year they have a big sale, certain rugs are marked down to $99. I bought a large living room rug for that price. Looking online the lowest price I could find was around 400 and I did not even like it. Most rugs that size were around $4K.
      I like townwide garage sales better than stand alone garage sales. I picked up a wing chair for $25 at one townwide sale. I have also picked up supplies for repairs, such as wire nuts, screws, shelf brackets etc. I found a heavy duty stapler for $4, it goes through 60 sheets of paper. It’s practically new. Point being I got more than just furniture.
      I found cabinets for one room for $75 each (regularly $1200 each.) at a going out of business sale. Keep an eye on the local papers for the business closings.
      I do shop with a list and I carry cash. Businesses will give extra discounts for cash. But it does not have to be a lot of cash as you can see.
      It’s true this stuff will break the bank but it does not have to.

    14. Kj*

      I’ve bought from Wayfair a few times. The buying process was smooth and the items came quickly. I read comments throughly before I bought to be sure I would like the items and I haven’t been disappointed. Nothing I’ve gotten is herloom quality, but I didn’t expect it to be.

      Also, a easy furniture change that makes a big difference is to elevate a piece of clunky furniture from an Ikea-like big box with some hairpin legs. I added legs to my Kallax shelf and it looked about 150% better in my opinion. It took about $10 and 30 minutes to do too. I got the legs from Lowe’s.

    15. just another day*

      Accessories like lamps and area rugs can be a good deal and “good” quality (not exceptional), but the furniture is good for 3 – 5 years depending on use. It is not “real” furniture.

      Congrats on the house!

    16. Chaordic One*

      I would say don’t rush things. Give yourself a year or so. Or course, don’t deprive yourself of necessities. If you end up with something that is functional but ugly, you can get rid of it down the road, but don’t be in such a rush that you end up buying a lot things that will wear out, break or that you’ll need to get rid of.

      Things will come to you, to those who wait. Beautiful and attractive things. (And very likely some good quality used things at very good prices.)

    17. Seal*

      I just had a couch from Wayfair delivered today. It looks great – a vast improvement over my old couch – and the price was right. The delivery process was very smooth, too. I had been putting off replacing my old one because I’m job hunting and hoping to move out of state within the next 6 months; my plan was to dump the old couch then. As it turns out, I’m going to have family visiting soon and even a new slip cover wouldn’t have made the old couch presentable.

    18. I never remember my name*

      Congratulations! I’ve purchased: planters, side tables, area rugs, linens and the largest piece, a kitchen island, all from Wayfair. No problems at all and everything is great quality and priced very well.
      I’d also suggest Pier One and even Amazon.
      My couch, chair, and ottoman are from Macy*s and were a really decent price and have held up through cats, kids, and a dog.
      Best of luck!

    19. mreasy*

      I don’t know if you’re considering overstock.com, but we ordered quite a few pieces from them, and found the customer reviews to be invaluable.

    20. Windchime*

      I’ve not ordered from Joss and Main, but I’ve gotten several things from Overstock and the quality has been great. I do pay attention to the reviews and I’ve found them to be really accurate. My most recent purchase was this TV stand; it’s a really heavy, quality piece. In fact, it was so heavy that I couldn’t get it into the house by myself and I had to have help putting it together. I also got my bedroom area rug from there and it’s beautiful.


    21. Eden*

      I’m late but have to say – if you find a furniture piece you love on Wayfair, google it. It may have a slightly different name but at least two pieces I have been interested in have been listed elsewhere for far less. I bought a recliner earlier this year for my husband and found it for $180 less at Goedekers, with free shipping also. I think Wayfair has good deals on some things, but other things are marked way up. I love the ease of using their site and that they have everything so I usually look there first and then see if I can find it significantly less somewhere else.

      Nice experience with Wayfair: I bought a clock that turned out to have a mar on the plastic face – instead of having me send it back, they just credited me the $$ and told me to dispose of it. So I have a free clock with a mar. It’s fine in the guest room but I wouldn’t have kept it otherwise.

      Overstock is also good, seconding mreasy on that recommendation. I think their rug prices can’t be beat. I haven’t bought furniture from them yet but have looked at a number of things. I think the thing to remember with these places is that they are a great source for cool-looking accent pieces but probably not the best source for well-constructed, last-forever furniture.

  32. AnnaleighUK*

    Back from France after a fun holiday with my boyfriend following the Tour de France around. Because we’re mad we actually rode part of one of the stages and holy god, nope. I’ll stick to my weekend triathlons! We’ve put a lot of miles on my car but it was so worth it.

    Also I am now addicted to brie. It’s different in France! Send help, I’m missing it already.

    1. CAA*

      Lucky you! We’re just watching every stage on TV at the crack of dawn (or before dawn in some cases). What an exciting race this year. And how fun that you got to try riding on the actual course.

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        It’s been amazing, we were right at the finish line the other day and the noise was just… wow! It’s a shame we couldn’t stay for the last three stages but we’ve both got work on Monday. We stopped off in Carcassone as well – wow! Incredible place.

        And it’s such fun to ride just a bit of the roads, obviously they reopen after the race and there are a LOT of fans who do the same. Mountain stages are definitely the best. The Boyfriend is more of a cyclist than me and he was wincing as we were watching them up some of those climbs. It’s amazing, next year I think we will do the whole three weeks. I want to be there in Paris!

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          The Tour de France did a stage close to where I live, and it is odd to see places you know well on TV.

        2. Caro in the UK*

          Tour de France and Carcassone sounds like my dream holiday, I’m super jealous!

          Do you mind if I ask… was it really expensive? No exact figures or anything, but I’ve always assumed that hotels on the route hike their prices massively for the days the Tour is there and it’s always put me off even looking.

          1. AnnaleighUK*

            We camped or slept in the car if we couldn’t find anywhere to pitch up – did that twice, we are lucky I own a big SUV. The campsites do hike their prices a bit, I can’t speak for the hotels. It’s not horrible expensive though. You can camp directly on the route as well if it’s a mountain stage but we decided not to do that. We found that if we stayed outside of anywhere significant, like a town that had a sprint in it or a summit finish, it was cheaper because the sprints or the summits are where everyone wants to be. Most of the places we stayed were along the ‘boring’ bit of the stages and therefore quite affordable. Your biggest expense will be fuel if you’re following the race every day. We didn’t exactly, sometimes we spent two days in a place to explore but it was still pricey. Boyfriend remarked that upsizing the car for the purposes of bike transportation was fine but the associated fuel costs hurt.

            One thing though, the French police like to stop English registered cars for no reason so if you do go, make sure you get a kit for travelling in France or you’ll get fined.

            1. Caro in the UK*

              Thanks for such a detailed response, it’s really helpful :) Might give it a go next year!

    2. Never Nicky*

      Lucky you! I really want to see the Tour de France in France – I saw the Grand Depart from Leeds in 2015 and was at the finish in Sheffield the following day and it was so much fun!

    3. Shut up legs*

      That is amazing! We’ve been to two stages in different years (the time trial in Belgium and the stage that finished in London) but I would have loved to have been in Marseille today! Someday we will watch it in France…..

      1. Liblady*

        We’re in Paris now and got caugh up at the madness at the finish line at the Arc d’Triomphe. It was crazy! The energy is really high. Crazy level of police presence on the streets ( due to the recent troubles here, I don’t blame them, just really different from home in the US).it has been a lot of fun!

    4. Bagpuss*

      So far as the brie is concerned, the secret may be to let it mature. Don’t put it in the fridge, keep it out, and be patient, let it get properly ripe and gooey. Most brie sold in this country is seriously under-ripe and if you put it in the fridge it’ll never ripen. Take it out of the plastic, wrap it in waxed paper instead and wait.

  33. Cafe au Lait*

    I need to start putting together my baby registry, but am I having trouble knowing what really works versus what sounds nice to have but doesn’t help as much as promised.

    Parents, what products did you love? Which ones did you really want but ended up failing you completely?

    1. Yetanother Jennifer*

      I and my clingy baby loved anything that would allow me to carry her while keeping my hands free. Baby Bjorn, slings, kelty back packs are all great options for different ages and activities. Especially during the witching hours from about 5-7 when she was desperate to be held and I was desperate to be productive.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      For clothes, have them be at least 6 mo. old sizes. Those newborn sizes can be too small for the newborn and they outgrow them in a flash. Can’t have too many one-sies. Really.

      If you’re somewhere with a diaper service, consider cloth and have ppl get you gift certs for that. You get weekly deliveries of clean cloth diapers and they pick up the dirty ones and launder them. It was soooo much easier than having to go and buy things for me.

      I might have wanted a gift certificate to the Upper Breast Side, I bought a lot of bras there. They are in NYC, but they’re online, too. (Not putting in links b/c it’ll go into moderation.)

      Also, for toys, I think the wooden Waldorf-type are the best because they adapt to various ages’ imaginations. But, they tend to be a bit expensive. Nova Natural Toys in Shelburne VT is a good place to look for ideas. They are online.

      And, never hurts to set up a 529 account and let people contribute to that. Only the owner of the account gets to take the tax deduction, but everyone’s money grows tax free and the educational savings starts early.

      1. Chameleon*

        Disagree for the clothes size. They will outgrow really quickly, but you can pick up a TON of newborn- 3 mo clothes at thrift stores for about a buck a piece. And you will need a ton because for the first three months you will be changing clothes many, many times a day due to spilled milk, spit up, and diaper blowouts.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          That’s exactly why I was recommending against having them on the baby-registry. People tend to splurge on the gifts and the newborn sizes can be picked up so easily and cheaply as well as hand-me-downs/overs because hardly anyone stays small enough for long enough to wear them out.

    3. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      Get a NoseFrida!! They are much more effective than bulb suckers. Definitely a bassinet or pack and play with a cradle attachment in case your wee one finds the crib too spacious. Stock up good on diapers – plan to need about 1,000 size 1. I would definitely recommend a diaper genie as opposed to just a trash can. Cloth diapers are a great substitute for burp cloths. We still keep a couple in our 2 year old’s bag. Humidifier… preferably one that does not require a filter. Lastly, get the big 4 in one car seat and skip the travel system. The car seat that comes with the travel systems was great for taking our son in and out to daycare for the first several months but we needed to upgrade before he was a year old and I didn’t really realize when registering that the seat with the travel system wouldn’t be appropriate for a toddler. I thought it was the all in one kind.

    4. Book Lover*

      Ergo carrier. I did a britax travel system and was happy with it. Carters onesies, basic swaddling cloths. I used a travel crib next to my bed for the first three months or so.

    5. Jules the First*

      I’m not a parent (yet) but I was a nanny in a former professional life.

      It’s not possible to have too many receiving blankets. If you’re nursing, you’ll go through up to a dozen a day.

      Something like the Safety First Recline and Grow booster seat is a godsend and is far preferable to a conventional high chair – you buy one, strap it to one of your kitchen chairs, and use it until they’re tall enough to sit like the rest of the family. It reclines to hold your newborn, and the big bonus is that it comes with you to restaurants and the grandparents’ homes, so baby always has a familiar spot to eat (or a safe spot you can stash him for 30 seconds while you blow your nose), you don’t need to worry about the safety or quality of the high chair when away from the house, and it’s super easy to clean.

      A changing table is probably overrated – get yourself a couple of changing mats instead (one super compact one for your diaper bag, one cushier one with a rim for home use) and either change on the floor or lay the cushy mat horizontally on top of a chest of drawers.

      For the sake of your sanity, avoid registering for any toys that play music, sing songs, or “teach”. Buy those yourself, after you’ve listened to the sounds and figured out how to lose…I mean take out…the batteries. If I have to listen to the Vtech Fly & Learn Airplane tell me that the cat goes miao one more time, I will not be held responsible for the resulting injuries. To the airplane, of course…

    6. Chameleon*

      I know a lot of people find these useless, but we loved the wipe warmer. Or daughter was born in November and nighttime changes were sooo much less painful with a nice warm wipe.

      Baby bathtubs always seemed like a great idea but became pretty useless within a month or two. You may want to consider just taking a bath holding the kiddo instead.

    7. Thlayli*

      Stretchy cloth sling works much better than the one with the straps and so on.

      I had a tommee tippee sangenic nappy bin (I think they might be called diaper genies in America) and it was AWESOME. It blocks out the smell and holds up to 2 days of nappies Before you have to empty it – and the bag roll insert only needs to be replaced every few days. However the inserts have gone up to ridiculous prices so if you do get that put a load of inserts on the list too. (After they jacked up the price I worked out the bag was costing more per change than the nappies).

      Also put nappies/diapers on the list – they are cheap but they add up. If you want to go cloth they say it’s best to Join a cloth nappy library and try out a few typesfirst before deciding which to buy as every baby is different shape and they don’t all suit everyone.

      Microwave Steam steriliser for bottles/teats/ soothers/pacifiers. It costs about €12 and takes 8 mins in the microwave to sterilise a days worth of bottles. So much easier and quicker than the expensive plug in ones.

      If you want a breast pump I can’t recommend the medela swing highly enough. It has a slow speed to get your milk flowing and then a fast speed once you get let down – used to totally empty my boob in about ten mins (I used to get about 150ml from each if I was pumping a whole feed). It does not do double pumping though so If you are planning on exclusive pumping at any stage (e.g. If you are going back to work quickly and work long hours) then you may prefer a double pump.

      Hands free bra. Awesome. Did I mention medela swing can be battery or mains power.

      Don’t bother with fancy high chairs most people I know ended up switching to the IKEA €17 chair coz it’s so easy to clean.

      Travel cot of a type u can convert to playpen when they are older.

      Moses baskets are really cute but baby will outgrow them in 3 months. I got the gulliver cot from Ikea and babies slept in it from day 1 – it also converts to toddler bed to age 4. I had those woven plastic (soft but easy to clean) boxes in one end which made the cot much smaller for when they were tiny and has them sleeping sideways in it. Plus the boxes meant I always had spare clothes and nappy changing stuff handy.

      A dim nightlight – bright enough you can see enough to change a nappy /check for puke but dim enough that it won’t wake the spouse who is sleeping (and make sure everyone does their fair share of night waking – e.g. If u are breastfeeding get him to do night time nappies etc). I had a glowing battery powered angel thing – it was actually a Christmas decoration but it was perfect it could be placed in the cot, on floor, bedside locker etc and battery lasted forever.

      A small reading light you clip on a book to read in bed – this is basically a flexible torch with no sharp Edges so is perfect for a quick nappycheck without turning on the light.

      A good flask – for the first few weeks they recommend you only use boiled water and cotton balls not wipes. Cooled boiled water is very cold so we had a flask of hot water and one of cold water at our nappy changing station. Then we would mix up lukewarm water each change. This also works to warm wipes if u want it and will also come in usefulfkr making bottles on the go when u are out and about when/if you use formula. Thermos are the most well known for a reason – they stay hot for 24 hours. I also had a combined thermos/Bottle warmer (also tommee tippee) which was brilliant but the water would be too cold to make a bottle within 2 hours.

    8. Amanda*

      Echoing the Ergo! I used mine every single day through 4 kids. At 22 months, my 4th and last is starting to age out of it, and it is faded, but still quite functional. I loved a lightweight stroller frame that works with an infant car seat. My favorite was the Baby Trend – easy to open and close and put in the trunk one-handed, plus lots of room in the basket underneath. Velcro swaddle blankets are awesome as well. If you or someone you know likes to sew, crib sheets are super quick and easy to make, and you can do a lot more fun patterns than what you can find ready made.

    9. Amy*