weekend free-for-all – January 6-7, 2018

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: This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel. It’s about a family who thought they had five sons but turns out to have four sons and a daughter. It’s excellent.

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

{ 1,626 comments… read them below }

  1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

    Has anyone used Himalayan Salt Lamps? I’m thinking of getting one for the place that shall not be named on weekends for a variety of reasons…better air, nice light and possibly picking up the salt pieces to warm my hands. Are these a viable thing or kind of a scammy product? Any “gotchas” I should look out for?

    1. KatieKate*

      I think salt lamps look cool, but there is 0 proof that they have any of the health benefits that they claim. So if you’re just looking for a fun lamp, you should be set

    2. dr_silverware*

      I have one! All the claims on the box about better air etc are very scammy. On the other hand, it’s pretty, and when it’s been lit for a while it gently warms up and it’s nice to touch. Biggest downside: apparently you’re not supposed to lick them.

      1. Peggy*

        I absolutely licked mine the moment I got it. I had to.

        I love the warm light – I’m obsessed with coziness after reading the Danish hygge book and the salt lamp is ultimate hygge.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t have one, but a friend does. It’s nice to look at, but that’s about it. I don’t buy into their claims (or claims on many products, for that matter). I’d say if you just want something that looks nice, go for it.

    4. NaoNao*

      My BF got me one for xmas! I don’t really have any health benefits, but it makes a lovely nightlight for winding down before going to bed. I like that it’s a touch-on, touch-off, and I love the pinkish/redish glow.

    5. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Thanks all. A co-worker got one with a bowl and spheres, and the biggest thing was the spheres warmed my hands up pretty well when I was chatting with her (I have the VENT OF DOOM above my desk and somehow they couldn’t figure out how to turn on the heat this week, so we got AC). Other than that, I was thinking the health benefits weren’t really proven, so I didn’t want to make a big time monetary investment.

      1. Thlayli*

        You should ask about the possibility of getting a new diffuser put on the vent. That’s the part (usually plastic) that diverts the air sideways do it goes round the room instead of straight down into the unfortunate individual sitting directly below. It’s just a bit of plastic so it’s s relatively cheap fix – you might even be able to google suppliers in your area and call them with estimated dimensions to get an estimated price, without any actual technical knowledge at all. The actual selection of the correct one and fitting would probably have to be done by an expert, but if you are on good terms with your maintenance person (and maintenance personnel are some of the people you should always try to be on good terms with) then she should be able to tell you whether she can fit it herself or not.

        1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

          I used those diffusers when I lived up north and they worked well in my house vents to redirect! Sadly, the vent above my desk is about 18″ x 18″ and already sends air in 4 directions very powerfully, but it’s connected to the same duct that vents a freezing interior conference room (which sounds like a jet engine when air is on!). They can’t seem to equalize the air flow or temp and I’m freezing even in summer, but at least then, I can go outside and warm up. I’m hoping a move of desks will solve the problem and perhaps I can find the warm spot in the office!

          1. Thlayli*

            It sounds like you could make a case that having a desk in that location at all shouldn’t b allowed on the grounds of health and safety. Do You have a H&S department? If so contact them.

    6. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      For better air, I like charcoal. Cedar never worked for me, but charcoal has. (It’s also done wonders for impurities in my skin so maybe I’m just biased.) Plenty Of places have little cloth bags of it, and Walmart sells some with the irons and steamers.

    7. Wrench Turner*

      Until I see a published paper with a double-blind study on their benefits, they’re no more than pretty rocks to me. That said, enjoy your pretty rock! I love the way they look when lit from within. Our planet is beautiful.

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Agree! Currently, I’m enjoying co-workers pretty rocks (warm on hands!). I think I’ll hold off on purchasing until either it warms up here in FL or my desk gets moved away from the vent of doom. Then, I’ll see if I still want to look at pretty rocks and buy myself a glowy light!

    8. MissDissplaced*

      Ive had one a few months. It is pretty as an accent piece, but that is about it. Don’t spend too much if you want one. I got mine at Marshalls for about $12 on clearance.

    9. Southernbelle*

      Let me put it this way: it’s not ionizing anything, unless you eat the salt, at which point it’s going to dissolve. It’s not purifying the air, either. The melting point of salt (NaCl) is about 800 degrees Celsius, and the boiling point is about 1400 degrees Celsius, at which point your office would be on fire.

      So, get one if you want, but all the claims are nonsense. If you want cleaner air, I favor a HEPA filter and a plant. They are pretty though!

      -A PhD biochemist with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry

    10. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms*

      I have had a couple, they’re delightful. Caveat, if you keep it in a very humid place, it will disintegrate somewhat.

  2. Turtlewings*

    Can anyone advise me on unlocking an e-reader? I got one in the mail by accident from some kind of health company (it came with a scale as well), and when I contacted the company they said I could keep it. But it’s set up to only talk to the scale or something. I don’t even know. Part of some kind of health plan kit. The company is Optum if that means anything to anyone. I don’t have an e-reader so I would love to use this one if I can get it to work!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Unless it’s a branded kindle or something, it’s probably only designed to be used with the scale and may not be jail breakable. Think of it as an oversized remote.

    2. Menacia*

      What kind of e-reader is it? Why not ask the company if it can be used for other things beyond communicating with the scale?

    3. Laura*

      I’m guessing it’s a tablet (not e-reader) that uses the Android operating system. If you google jailbreak Android tablet you should get a few things you can try.

    4. D*

      It’s a Samsung Galaxy and it’s locked to only work for teleheath purposes. I’m surprised you were told to keep it; typically those devices are returned when a member leaves the program.

  3. Stacy*

    I found out this week that my position is being eliminated for budget reasons. This has never happened be me before. I’ve got To-Do lists started, and am going back and forth between peacefulness and my thoughts being totally scattered. I think I’ve got the work-related things that I need to do noted or already in progress (updating my references, applying for temp and full-time positions…). What might I not be thinking of that I should do or not do? I’ll be letting my family know so they don’t find out via FB or anything, since an announcement went out to my department and the leadership team last night. What life stuff am I not thinking of? What did you do/not do in similar situations that you wish you had handled differently?

    And it’s January…so like everyone else, of course I’m fighting off whatever cold/crud is going around for like the thousandth time this season. I’m going back and forth between wanting to lay low and nap, ply myself with fluids, binge watch something distracting and rest, and also slightly panicking feeling like I should occupy every second with tasks to help secure new employment. Tell me this is totally normal, or am I just totally burnt out right now?

    1. Colette*

      Once you tell your family, tell everyone else. I mean, don’t take out a billboard, but don’t feel like you have to hide it. I got my last 2 jobs through connections.

      Figure out your budget. How long can you live at your current expense level? What can you cut, and how long does that extend your money?

      Figure out what kind of jobs you’re looking for, and find a concise way to share it if someone asks.

      Are you eligible for unemployement? Apply. What about job hunting help? Is there a program in your area?

      And be kind to yourself. Most of getting a job is out of your control, so take care of the parts you control and accept that the rest isn’t up to you.

    2. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I’m not sure what your health insurance situation is like, but one thing I did when this happened to me is to take full advantage of every health benefit I could. Bumped up my physical, got an eye exam, ordered new glasses and contacts to spend out my FSA, etc. I was extremely fortunate that I could switch onto my partner’s insurance plan and avoid the awful expense of cobra, but it still meant switching off of my company’s awesome plan and onto a less frilled plan (one of the downsides of start ups). But either way, if you’re going to have to switch insurance plans, make sure to take advantage of every benefit you can before it ends.

      Also do that for any random benefits your company may offer. (For example, my old company offered to pay global entry/tsa pre-check application fees, so I applied for that before my last day.) I would double check with whoever approves them beforehand just to make sure they’ll still cover it for a departing employee, but since you’re not departing willingly, they’ll probably be more sympathetic and approve it!

      And yes, all of your feelings are suuuuuuper normal. Hang in there, Jedi hugs from me!

      1. atexit8*

        Sign up for COBRA.
        If you continue with your current health insurance under COBRA, there is no reason to bump up the physical exam.

        You might be force to roll over your 401(k) if the balance is too small.
        If that is the case, I would consider rolling into Vanguard or Fidelity total stock market index fund.

        Take PTO if it is take it or lose it.

    3. WillyNilly*

      I have been laid off twice. My biggest advice is buy a BIG thing of laundry detergent (I tend towards powdered, you can get a 200 load box for under $20).
      When funds are tight (if you are unemployed a while), its really nice to know you can always have clean laundry.

    4. MissDissplaced*

      At least you got some notice. In addition to all the work things noted, yes take advantage of your health and PTO benefits now before the job ends.
      Get finances in order, make advance payments if you are able.
      I kind of did a “stock up” run on necessities while the money was still coming in.

  4. Laura*

    I’m all better from the flu and I’m stoked to go back to that place that’s not named on weekends! The rest I got from that week and a half was needed but I’m ready to get back to my routine! And get out of the house also!! Have a great weekend!

      1. anon24*

        If I remember correctly Anon had $16 to their name and still needed food and gas for the week, and Cold had no heat in their apartment and lives somewhere experiencing this cold snap.

        1. nep*

          I mean the one whose name was ‘Anon and Cold’ — a couple people asked after this person in the new year’s free-for-all but I don’t think there was a response.
          So Anon and Cold, if you’re there we’d love to hear from you.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, I was really worrying about her. I hope either the landlord got it together or she contacted a friend about staying the night.

    2. Courtney*

      I hope we do soon. There was a story yesterday about someone in my area without heat literally freezing to death. It’s heartbreaking.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It sucks not to have heat, besides being dangerous. I survived three days without heat during the 2007 ice storm (no power either) but it would have been dangerous to stay any longer. The only reason I didn’t leave sooner was that 1) there was nowhere else to go that had power, and 2) the roads were impassable until the storm was over.

        Remembering how miserable that was, I really hope she found a place to stay.

        1. Lujessmin*

          Oh, the great 2007 ice storm. My power was out for a week, I was going from one hotel to another, and my mother was in the hospital (eventually had to put her in a nursing home). It was the closest I’ve ever come to just wanting it all to be over. If the window in my hotel room could have been opened, it might have been.

          The next day (Saturday), I was at work, trying to get caught up and do some personal stuff. I called our Employee Healthline and tried to talk to someone, but they were useless. It finally blew over, and I’ve never had those feelings again, but I never want to go through another ice storm.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me either. It was the WORST. The storm lasted for three days, and my power was out for twelve days. The sun did not come out for two weeks afterward. I too did the hotel hopping and stayed at a coworker’s house for a night. I had hot water; if I had a fireplace, I could have stayed in my house. But alas, I do not.

            One really good thing: all the arborists and power company people who came from other states to help, and when I went to Branson to stay (they escaped the worst of it), all the restaurant workers and hotel folks were very kind. One place gave discounts on meals to all displaced ice storm victims. And the city, whose failure to keep up the tree-trimming schedule made it worse, sucked it up and picked up all our tree debris for free. They burned it–there was so much that they had nowhere to put it. The whole town smelled like a campfire for weeks.

            A former friend who went through the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in Santa Cruz said she did not know how we managed. They were powerless after that as well and had to camp out in the backyard (wasn’t safe to be inside the house until they were sure it was stable), but as she put it, “At least it was WARM!”

            I want to move out of winter weather FOREVER.

            1. nep*

              Wow that’s a hell of an experience. Glad to hear of all the helpers.
              (Re last line: Every year when the cold weather starts, I wonder why the hell I’m still living where winter is brutal. Every year I say never again; I hope this year I can hold to it.)

        2. Coalea*

          My power (and heat) were out for 7 days following a freak October snowstorm in 2011. I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain a few hours after the outage started. Went to the hospital, which was running on generators. Turns out I had a kidney stone. Spent the next 4 days huddled under every blanket I owned, zonked out on Percocet. Finally felt well enough to drag myself to the house of a family friend whose power had been restored. Hope never to repeat that experience!

      2. IntoTheSarchasm*

        We live in Northern Michigan, near the lake and have gotten tons of snow and freezing temps as many others have. We have a pretty stable power grid, but still wonder what we would do if the power went out as we have no heat other than our natural gas furnace. As we are planning a major remodel in the spring, started looking at natural gas powered generators – they are less expensive than I would have guessed so that may become part of our remodel or at least lay the ground work for one as much as possible while everything is torn apart.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I saw a similar story of someone freezing to death. I pray it’s not our friend here.

        Maybe it’s something simple as we overwhelmed her with so many posts. It’s okay Anon and Cold, you can come back anyway and talk to us. It’s okay. We will be happy to talk with you.

  5. OperaArt*

    Suggestions? I’ve been taking private ballroom and Latin dance lessons for the last 3 years (also group classes.) When I reach a certain point in my training, my teacher and I will do a kind of graduation dance in front of several hundred people. It’s a big deal, and we start prepping months in advance.
    So, I need to pick a song. I want something that’s about being happy, positive or charging ahead even when things get tough. But I want the message to be a little subtle. Also, my teacher and I need to be able to dance to it, any combination of waltz, salsa, tango, foxtrot, rumba, cha cha, hustle, West Coast swing, or (East Coast) swing.
    So far, I’m thinking “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, Singing in the Rain, or No Boundaries (not subtle enough?).

    1. Marthooh*

      “Downtown” (Petula Clark) sounds like it’s about a place but really it’s about an attitude. And it’s very danceable!

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      This is maybe not the right kind of message but I like All or Nothing by Athena Cage which is the song used for the final routine in Save the Last Dance.

    3. Liquor Store Lady*

      Uncharted by Sara Bareilles. It’s a little slower than some of the songs listed, but it’s a super charming song about wanting your life to be an unplanned adventure.

    4. Former Employee*

      I know it isn’t applicable/appropriate, but for some reason I thought of “Can That Boy Foxtrot!” by Stephen Sondheim. Hint: It has nothing to do with dancing.

    5. oranges & lemons*

      How about Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”? Based on your criteria this probably won’t work, but I will forever be amused that this was my graduation song.

    6. Thlayli*

      Feeling groovy? That 60s song can’t remember the name of the duo. You know the one: slow down, you move to fast, gotta make the morning last..

      The tune alone puts me in a good mood.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    Hey everyone. It’s my birthday early next week which is mostly really annoying timing but does at least give me a nice extra reason to take down the Christmas decorations and cards. I wanted to go for a drive in the country and have lunch in a pub with a roaring fire, so we’re doing that tomorrow. And I’m coming up to eight months no smoking!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Hi! Congratulations on eight months no smoking! That’s brilliant.

      And happy birthday for next week. I hope you have a great one with lots of love and happiness.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      Happy Birthday!!! I just want to take this opportunity to tell you, which I may have done before but you can’t say it enough, how glad I am that you are part of this forum. I really enjoy reading your comments all the time and way back in September you gave me the best advice for how to handle being away from my daughter for the first time. I hope you have an amazing birthday day and an even better year!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        So people keep saying things like this to me, and I am struggling to express in words how surprised and pleased I am to hear that anyone finds my comments helpful. I was so glad to be able to help you and your kiddo.

        Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

        1. Grace Carrow*

          Happy Birthday! I think people say this because it’s true. I like the way you (a) give sensible and thoughtful on point advice; (b) also participate by asking for advice yourself; and (c) I admire so much your ability to say nicely but firmly that you are asking for advice on X but not Y.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Hey, I’m glad you mentioned point c, as I often worry that I just seem controlling. It’s often an important self-care thing for me, so it’s nice to hear that it’s not coming across badly.

    3. CAA*

      Happy birthday! Mine is Wednesday, so I totally understand the thing about annoying timing. And congrats on being a non-smoker!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Some day I’ll get round to insisting on a second birthday in the summer. Like the queen.

        1. Woodswoman*

          Happy birthday, and congratulations on being a nonsmoker. Regarding your suggestion for the summer, I actually do this with my mother who was born on December 26. Many years ago, she commented that growing up she felt she didn’t get much recognition for her birthday. Ever since then, I’ve been celebrating her birthday on June 26 instead. She loves it, and she now gets two birthdays a year because my siblings still recognize her December 26 date. Truth be told, I honor t in a small way too, we just call it her half-birthday.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            My birthday was Thursday; I’ve never been able to move it six months (bc that’s July 4th) but I’ve shuffled it into March or April before and it’s great!

        2. Amey*

          My birthday’s just before Christmas and I always thought I should get to celebrate my half birthday in June as well. It just seemed like such a nice time for a birthday. I might still do it.

    4. DanaScully*

      Congratulations on eight months! You must feel really proud.

      That sounds like a perfect birthday to me. I hope you have a great day!

    5. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      Happy birthday, and congratulations for staying smoke free! It’s an amazing accomplishment that will hopefully net you many more birthdays to come.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Congrats on making it 8 months! My mom quit around the same time and I’m proud of both of you :)

      Enjoy your birthday!

    7. King Friday XIII*

      Happy birthday and one more round of congrats on giving up smoking! Seeing you in the comments always makes me smile, both as a Scott Pilgrim fan and because you always have something thoughtful to add. Thanks for being here!

    8. Safetykats*

      That sounds like a really lovely birthday treat on a cold winter’s day. Also, I didn’t know the queen gets a half-birthday! I am going to have to lobby for that also.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        It’s not a half-one, just a random date in June that’s designated as the royal birthday.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I think it’s mostly because that way you can have parades and reviews of troops and mostly have good weather. I’d assumed it was just something the present queen did but apparently it’ been a thing since Edward VII, who moved it to June to take advantage of better weather. I seem to recall he was quite elderly when he came to the throne, maybe he didn’t like having to watch the trooping of the colour in the rain?

    9. Ramona Flowers*

      Thanks everyone. I forgot to mention what I’m doing tonight. I’m at a David Bowie tribute night (proceeds to the local children’s hospice).

    10. Almost Violet Millet*

      Congrats on nom-smoking! In my culture it is bad luck to wish happy birthday early so I am only going to say that I hope your day will turn out the way you want it.
      Also, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoy reading your comments. And your name’s cool, I’ve been meaning to say that for a while.

    11. Anono-me*

      Happy Birthday!

      I love January birthdays. They offset the winter blahs and due to the after Christmas sales, I get to give really great gifts.

    12. Former Employee*

      Happy Birthday!

      Congratulations on quitting. I’ve been a non-smoker for about/almost 25 years. I found that as soon as I started to think of myself as a non-smoker, everything fell into place.

  7. Foreign Octopus*

    I am so happy that The Good Place is back!

    The episode popped up on my Netflix and I just spent a really fun 20 minutes back in the Good Place. Ted Danson is fantastic and Kristen Bell is one of the most attractive women I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it’s the lighting, or just her, but she seems to glow and is very distracting.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’ve seen the movie but not the show. I’m not sure if it’s available on Spanish Netflix but I’m up for watching anything with her in it.

        1. Aealias*

          Veronica Mars is a very different character from Evelyn, but the show is an enjoyable teen mystery. The character has depth, makes poor choices and lives with the consequences. There are lots of characters I like, and some surprises in the plot. I can continue to care about the story line over a whole season, which is rare for my dreadful attention span. The first two seasons definitely do improve on the movie (although the movie WAS a solid piece of fan-service), but I personally didn’t make it through season 3.

      2. Almost Violet Miller*

        Veronica Mars is my favourite show! The film was also okay but not nearly as good as the first two seasons. (I am team Logan.) I also read the two books published a couple of years ago and, to my surprise, enjoyed them.
        Do you have a favourite episode or supporting role?

      1. Artemesia*

        There is something so satisfying about the afterlife being as screwed up as the US right now. It is as I have always imagined it.

    1. hermit crab*

      Ahhhh thank you for the reminder! I’m gonna go watch it now.

      Also, I read your Kristen Bell comment out loud to my husband, and he said “Are you sure it’s not you who posted that?”

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      Omg I needed this show back in my life. It is really one of my favorite shows on television right now, if not my favorite.

    3. Book Lover*

      Kristen Bell just has an inner light, I think :). She has talked about her history of depression and I think she seems like an amazing human being.

      You know how there are people that you respect that you hope will never disappoint you? I feel like that about her. I hope she is as wonderful as she seems.

    4. Lily Evans*

      I adore Kristen Bell! I follow her on Instagram and she’s had this ongoing saga about this stray cat that kept showing up outside her house. Over the course of a few months she went from not being a huge fan of cats, to pretty much adopting the cat and its kittens. It’s been great.

    5. Aardvark*

      YES! The end of this week’s episode was so perfect and exactly what [character] deserved. It feels like on a lot of TV shows the writers think of a good and reasonably satisfying solution to a problem and call it a day. With The Good Place, it feels like the writers find three good solutions, choose the weirdest, turn it inside out, throw it in a pan, and fry it up with butter that tastes like a fully charged cell phone battery feels.

  8. Loopy*

    Lately, that thing we do not speak of is super stressful and super exhausting. So when I get home I just have no energy for normal life tasks. Then they get pushed to the weekend. Which makes weekends full of chores and errands and Idon’t feel like a break.

    Does anyone have any tricks for “rallying” themselves during the weekdays to get things like phone calls, small errands, etc. done so they don’t eat up a much needed weekend? I think now more than ever I need weekends to have downtime for things like reading and tea drinking. But this weekend I find myself with a big to-do list instead!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      If you set reminders in your phone or calendar, don’t just put ‘pay gas bill’ or ‘buy llama food’ or whatever the task is. Add wording like ‘so I can have a lovely free weekend’ or ‘so I can read my book all day Sunday’ or whatever to remind you of why. And before and after you do the task, also spend some time thinking about your lovely free weekend and how you’ll spend it.

      1. WillyNilly*

        Outsource. Find a local laundromat with fluff-n-fold service. Grocery shop online & have it delivered, or consider a meal kit service (I love Hello Fresh but there are tons). If you can afford a robotic vacuum, get one. If you can afford a housecleaner ($60 a week easily buys 3-4 hours) hire one. Etc.

        1. Courageous cat*

          Outsourcing is (obviously) pretty expensive and not a reasonable solution for a lot of people, though. Like, I wish I was in a position to outsource.

          1. WillyNilly*

            I know its not an option for everyone, I didn’t mean to make anyone feel bad.
            I think sometimes though people advance in life slowly but steadily, or even just save for rainy days for so long, that they don’t realize that they now can afford stuff, or it is a [metaphorically] rainy day.

            I am not yet at robotic vacuum myself, or weekly cleaning service, or even all the time laundry service. But I am at a point where when I am drowning I can tap into these services for a short term and they really do lighten my load and help immensely.

        2. Weekend Naps*

          Agree! Sometimes when life is really stressful, it’s worth it to throw money at problems/tasks if you can. May not be feasible forever, but it helps in the short term. Also, depending on where you live you can have anything delivered.

        3. Clumsy Ninja*

          One thing I try to outsource as often as possible is the grocery shopping. Several chains in my area (Schnucks, Walmart, I think Dierbergs, etc.) will allow you to do your grocery shopping online and come in for free pickup as long as it’s over a certain minimum (which I never have to worry about hitting). I know home delivery is also available for a small fee, but I’ve never tried it. Really nice to spend ten minutes ordering online vs 30-45 minutes walking around the store (and being tempted!).

          1. Bigglesworth*

            I mentioned this last weekend, but an easy, cheap alternative to grocery shopping is Hungry Harvest. They’re slowly expanding, but are mostly located on the East Coast. I love their mission (reduce food waste), but I also love that they deliver fresh produce to my door and I don’t have to go out shopping. Their prices are comparable to Aldi (ex. HH eggs are $2.59. Aldi eggs are $2.29). I’m in law school right now, so I am all about saving time and energy.

        4. Loopy*

          I’ve had times where I was completely in line with this as long as it’s affordable. Sadly, for some reason I’m full up on things no one can do but me! Weird, but true. Things like getting a ring sized, making very specific financial decisions that I wouldn’t want to hire someone for, making doctor’s appointments.

          But I did just get Amazon prime so anything that can be ordered is getting ordered.

      2. Happy Daze*

        I love this idea! I am going to give it a try. Thanks Ramona Flowers and also – have a wonderful birthday.

    2. Rookie Biz Chick*

      Check out Apartment Therapy’s January Cure to see if that’s something you’d be into. Also, grocery shopping or small errands at lunchtime sometimes eases my weekend busyness.

      1. Loopy*

        I will look into that. Sadly I do not have the ability to do lunch time errands- I often don’t even get a break!

    3. Okay then*

      I set a lot of alarms in my phone but I also don’t let myself go home first if it’s something that needs to be done outside of the apartment like shopping. If I do go home first, then my brain is instantly in “it’s time for pajamas and snuggling with the cat” mode, so I have to do it all before then.

      1. Nicole*

        Similarly, I won’t let myself sit down or change into comfy clothing when I get home until I’ve completed all my tasks. Once my butt hits the couch it will be a much bigger struggle to do anything productive.

      2. Loopy*

        So true!!! I would love to do things on my way home but traffic makes it difficult. It just gets worse the longer I am out. And I have a pup at home waiting desperately for a walk!

      3. copy run start*

        I usually plan to hit the store after work at least 1 day each work. I prefer Fridays because the stores are quieter and I don’t feel stressed about eating dinner later (and thus going to bed later) if I spend a lot of time running errands.

    4. schnauzerfan*

      I make lists of “1. things I must do” and “2. things someone else could do” and “3. things that don’t need doing”

      I get the first done as soon as possible, hire a cleaning service, lawn service, snow removal people to deal with the second, (yes, very lucky to be able to afford to hire help, but if I’ll do without a concert or show to have someone else vacuum and clean the toilets) and I learn to ignore #3

      1. Loopy*

        I’m very bad at putting anything in category 3!! That one might take a while but is good advice :)

    5. OtterB*

      Doesn’t help with the errands, but for tasks at home, Unf*ck Your Habitat recommends what they call 20/10s (other places sometimes called the Pomodoro technique). Set an amount of time you will work, followed by a break time. Doesn’t have to be 20/10, could be 5/5 if you’re having a bad day. But it helps break the inertia of “I’m not going to finish so why start” to set a timer and say, now I’m going to do this stuff for 20 minutes and 20 minutes only, and then I’m going to take a break. Even one 15 or 20 minute stretch a weekday evening will cut down on what has to be done on the weekend.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve tried the pomodoro method for work and didn’t like it but I wonder if it would be better suited to home stuff. I’ll revisit.

      2. Bacon Pancakes*

        This is a great idea for household chores! I totally use it for things like Cleaning the Bathroom or Vacuuming. I can vacuum about half our house in 20 so if I come back to it later and finish it, I can get the house vacummed twice a week. I find it terrible for daunting tasks like Organizing the Entire Back Bedroom Closet wherein we find no less than FIVE boxes that have been moved and never opened (the story of my life).

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’m the same as you–Sunday is usually cleaning day, but then it seems like work and I don’t want to waste my weekend doing boring work. I do two things:

      –I NEVER do my weekly cleaning on Saturday. Not EVER. That’s my fun day. If people are coming over on the weekend, I split it between Thursday and Friday night. It doesn’t matter how dirty the house is; no chores allowed on Saturday!

      –While I’m cleaning or raking the stupid front yard (which I especially hate), I listen to old-timey radio mysteries or something funny, like BBC’s Cabin Pressure, so it’s not so boring and draggy. I only listen while cleaning to reward myself for actually doing it. Use whatever podcast you like for this. :D

      1. Loopy*

        I’m like this but my days are swapped. Sundays are my sacred days, especially the last two- four hours before bed. Everything must be done so I can relax and unwind.

    7. Not That Jane*

      Every Sunday, I make a list of tasks for the week (some are routine and daily / routine and weekly, while others are one-offs), then make a To-Do list broken down by days. That way I can say, on Monday I’m doing these X tasks, and (crucially) not worrying about the others for the week! Then I check them off as I get them done.

      I also break multi-step To-Dos into smaller tasks and spread them over multiple days. Example: I recently had to pick up prints from the studio portraits we had done, buy frames, frame and wrap them for Christmas. Each of those things happened on a different day: I picked them up on Tuesday, bought frames on Wednesday, etc. It really helped the task not feel overwhelming, and having a separate “phase” of the project written down on each daily list allowed me to relax about it. Like, I knew I wasn’t going to forget!

      1. Loopy*

        I started a monthly to-do list and perhaps sorting things into weeks would be a good next step!

          1. Bacon Pancakes*

            I keep hearing about these and find myself plannerless (cause i didn’t make time to order one before the new year)… I am going to check them out!

    8. Oregonian*

      This might be verboten where you are from (or, just not your style) but, if I’m having a day with zero motivation to do somewhat mindless tasks (cleaning, organizing stuff, making a non-complicated dinner, etc), I smoke a little sativa marijuana, and turn on some music. That’s usually enough to get me in gear.

      Granted, that’s not something to do on a daily basis! But, it can be just enough to make it seem fun to organize stuff or clean up around the house. Unless you are one of those weirdos who have write A quality term papers while high, I would also skip the tasks that require more thoughtfulness.

      The non-marijuana related tip I have is that in my planner I also keep a “things I accomplished today” list. I really like the soothingness of crossing things off a list, but some things don’t really need to be put on a to-do list. So, this list helps me feel like I’m being productive AND motivates me to keep adding to the list. When my anxiety/depression is really rough, this can be super helpful to write down things like “got dressed” and “went outside” – super basic things that help me avoid the mental trap of feeling like I’m worthless because I’m not accomplishing anything on my to do list.

    9. Nines*

      This! I’ve literally been meaning to ask this question on this forum for awhile now. But I’m too exhausted! Ha!
      But seriously, thank you for asking this! I’m excited to read the responses!

    10. Thlayli*

      Exercise always energises me. Maybe take up a sport or going to the gym or swimming or something one – two nights a week? It improves your sleep and physical and mental health. And then you have more energy the rest of the time.

      Also cool batch meals – not sure if u live alone but whenever I made dinner when I was in my own I used to cook a big meal and freeze in individual portions. So I’d always have food in the freezer for nights I couldn’t face cooking.

    11. INTP*

      It may not be possible depending on your schedule, but try doing chores in the morning. Not all of them necessarily, but 30 minutes of straightening up, or sit down with some coffee and look at your finances, whatever you have time for that doesn’t have to be done during business hours. (Then go to bed earlier to compensate, it’s not sustainable to just chip away at sleep.) I’m not a morning person by nature but I do find that I’m able to get the energy for stuff like doing my dishes or laundry more easily in the morning than after a tough workday.

  9. CoffeeLover*

    I’ve been struggling lately with a lot of negativity, which is a new concept for me. I’ve always been a pretty positive and self-loving person, but a somewhat recent move (8 months ago) to my husband’s home country has been really tough. I’ve lived in several different cities and countries in my life and have never struggled so much. To put it bluntly, I hate it here. The weather is absolutely horrible and I barely see the sun. I haven’t managed to meet people yet and I’ve heard it can be difficult to make friends here (this is the longest it’s ever taken me). I don’t even have someone I can text or meet for coffee. While this has been hard, the hardest part is how it’s affecting my overall mental state. I don’t know if it’s the lack of sun or the lack of human contact, but I’m in a really (for me anyway) dark place. I’ve been dealing with negativity spirals, irritability, and a total lack of resilience (everyday inconveniences have me forcing back tears.) I’m beating myself up for things I never would have in the past.

    I’m not sure what to do. Therapy is off the table for now (for cost reasons). On one hand, I want to try to keep an open mind with this place and to see the positives in it… on the other hand, I sometimes feel better focusing my negativity on the place (i.e., it’s not that I suck or my life sucks, it’s that this place sucks). I firmly believe that I can’t be happy here long-term, but for various life reasons I’m determined to stay for at least a couple more years. I basically want to hunker down and get through these years. What has helped you stay positive in your life? If you’ve dealt with a negative situation, what has helped you not let the situation affect other aspects of your mental health?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      There’s this saying in gestalt therapy that, to change, we must first accept what is. I wonder if, before you can start to feel okay in this place, you perhaps need to acknowledge how much it sucks and let yourself feel sad and upset and do a bit of grieving?

      I’m not sure it’s about negativity, exactly. Could it be about hope? Reminding yourself it’s not you and it’s not forever, it’s just this place right now, that sounds hopeful and important. And you don’t feel you can be happy there right now because you’re not.

      Is there any way of meeting other expats?

      1. Safetykats*

        I second Ramona’s advice about accepting the suckiness. My acupuncturist advised me a few years ago that life has seasons just like the year. Sometimes it’s spring and everything is growing and flowering and lovely; sometimes it’s winter and life seems dark and cold and what beauty there is seems stark and doesn’t hold much comfort. You live through it and learn from it, and remember that in life as in nature, spring follows winter.

        I found that to be true, and I trust you will too. In the meantime, take care of yourself. Eat well, and try to exercise. Get some fresh air if you can. Take up a new hobby, or rediscover an old one. Knitting is nice, as it’s portable and doesn’t take up much space, and fairly universal. If it’s possible and you feel up to it, think about a pet. A creature to care for, who loves you unconditionally, can be a big help.

        I also think that volunteering is a wonderful thing. It not only gets you out of your space, it can give you a connection, however small, with other people. Maybe other people who share your passions or concerns; maybe other people who need your help. Many volunteer opportunities don’t require a lot of language skills – walking shelter dogs or visiting at a nursing/care home, for example. Volunteering can be a lot of work though, so try to take care of yourself first.

        I hope this gets better for you. Please let us know how it goes.

    2. dr_silverware*

      For me it’s always been having spaces to leave it aside. Since it sounds like a lot of your struggles right now are centered in your home, that may be more difficult; I think it’s still doable. So going to a movie, where you don’t think about where you are. Or creating a sanctuary in your home that is peaceful, separate, and involves some kind of activity. Or nurturing your connections from outside the country; FaceTime or Skype or what have you where you talk with someone from your previous country and try to avoid dwelling on your misery.

      Also journalling helps me enormously. I find that when I’m sad or grindingly miserable, part of the bad feeling is that I’m running the sad thing through my mind over and over and over like I’m afraid I’ll forget it, and processing it through writing helps break that loop for me.

    3. Marthooh*

      I just started reading “Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks”, which looks (so far) like it might be helpful, if you don’t mind DIY-style therapy. I got the e-book in a Humble Bundle with some exercise manuals and cookbooks for one dollar – so at least the price is right. Google “Humble Bundle work it out” to see if it interests you.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve struggled with this as well. First on my Erasmus where I think I spent the first six months just in tears because I didn’t understand the language, finding accommodation was difficult and expensive, and just not wanting to be there. Then again when I moved to other countries.

      The one thing I always do when I’m in a new city is act like a tourist. Go on tour buses, visit museums, churches, mosques, synagogues, whatever is the main tourist attraction in your city go and do it. When you’re there, ask the people who work there what they recommend to do and then repeat ad infinitum. Ask them about their favourite cafés or what they like to do in an evening. Do it all under the guise of a tourist and people are so, so willing to help you.

      Depending on the country (i.e. language barrier) it might be useful to Google book clubs or evening classes. If you’re in a non-English speaking country, consider taking in person group classes in the language because then you’re meeting other learners (and I guarantee that most of them will speak English to some degree) and you can generally suggest a coffee and people will do it.

    5. neverjaunty*

      The lack of sunlight is a real physical contributor to mood. Can you get a light therapy lamp to put on your desk?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, the lack of sun would be a big thing for me, too. OP, how about some large doses of vit D. Not a magic cure all, but it might help things from looking so bleak.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I hated it here when I first moved here 9 years ago. Now I love it and we have a good life but I still feel not quite settled, not quite belonging. If my husband got an interview in my hometown I’d have the house packed before he returned. A university and hospital mean the area here is thriving and full of culture and newcomers but there’s also a subtle divide between locals and transplants. And this area has an extra layer of reserve that’s tough to break through. When I first moved here I met a local who had moved away and returned and even she had a tough time finding her place. It can take years, and in some towns they’ll never forget you’re new. My child was elementary school aged when we moved here and that helped a great deal. I volunteered in the classroom and joined the parent teacher organization. I also found groups and organizations to work and volunteer with.

      Like dr_silverware says, having a space to get away helps. When I first moved away from home I was so homesick. I’m from Target’s birthplace (Big store like Wal-Mart) and know all the store layouts. They’re the same all over the country and when I felt homesick I would go to Target and wander the aisles and pretend that when I walked out the doors I would be home. And yes, some days my most meaningful conversations would be the one I had with the person at the check-out counter.

      What do you need to have a good life there? Think about that and then go out and find those things or create them for yourself. Use social media to find other people looking for friends. If it’s hard for you, it’s hard for others. One place I moved to had a fantastic newcomer’s club with groups for every age and interest. Is there a college, university or big hospital nearby? They might have resources for transplants. Same for a real estate agency that specializes in relocations. I think I saw this idea here in another post: pick a restaurant and a time and announce you’ll be there on social media with a book about birds on the table and see who shows up. Ultimately, that’s the key: you just need to keep showing up. To different places and multiple times to the same place. Keep showing up and you’ll gradually make connections. Meanwhile you have something to do and a place to be.

      Can you get your vitamin D levels tested? You mentioned twice not seeing the sun so I suspect you’re low, or at least that you miss it. A few weeks of supplements and time under a good sun lamp might really help.

      A project could also help. Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn or try that could serve as a way to meet people? If you like to read you could start reading memoirs by people who are transplants like you. You could start a blog about being a transplant or about something where you are.

      1. Temperance*

        Are you in the Pacific Northwest? Booth is in love with the area, but I feel strongly about Philly and don’t want to get the “Seattle Freeze”.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          Nope, I’m on the same coast as you, just much further north. But I’ve heard the same about Seattle.

      2. Bibliovore*

        You are right on the money. I am five years in as a transplant to Targets home town. I missed my grocery stores, my neighborhood pharmacy, my neighbors, my old colleagues etc something awful. I came here for my job and it is Mr. Bibliovore’s home town.
        He had family and friends (of 40 years) I had nobody. Even family after we were here for a few weeks “ghosted” People at work don’t need any new friends. This area is famous for people saying lets get together and it never happening.It feels that in the winter everyone is hibernating and in the summer they are “at the cabin”
        Also I am older and it seems that “meet ups” are in bars and much younger fold.
        I have made two real friends. One is a transplant herself, the other I met while doing volunteer work.
        I have gotten used to my neighbors being sidewalk friends not people who you “hang out” with or invite over when you have made too much hot dish.
        Sorry for the cliche. It does get better.
        Oh and yes, Lightbox and vitamin d made a huge difference in how I felt about things.

        1. Lady Alys*

          I am relocating to that general area soon and confess to being nervous about leaving good friends and family. Spouse is already there, working new job and loving it – I have no job lined up and worry about sitting alone in our new place surrounded by moving boxes.

        2. LizB*

          I’m a transplant to the same city (though I came for college, so that made the transition easier because most people around me were also new) and most of my actually good friends here are also transplants. It’s become a running joke that if I meet a new person who I actually click with, 8 times out of 10 I’ll then find out they’re not from here originally. There are definitely cultural barriers that are hard to break through. We should do an AAM meet up for folks in this area sometime — I am fairly young, but I’d be more into a coffee shop meetup than a bar meetup.

      3. King Friday XIII*

        Haha, that sounds like Portland. I’ve been here, oh, six and a half years and I still feel like people are expecting me to pack up and leave at any second. Seconding the social media recommendation – hyper-local (like neighborhood specific) groups have been pretty helpful for me, and we aren’t super religious but started going to the local Universalist Unitarian church for the social hour. XD

        The lack of sun was an issue for my wife when we moved here but she’s acclimated over time so it’s not quite so bad now, too.

    7. Sherm*

      That sounds brutal. Horrible weather/lack of sun plus trouble with human contact would affect just about ANYONE’s mood. Please try not to be harsh on yourself — I would be pretty darn negative, too! If you are in Scandinavia by chance, you’re definitely not the first to have trouble seeking companionship. Is there an expat community you can connect with?

    8. Former Employee*

      I’m sorry you are having to deal with this situation.

      Can you try online therapy? I’m not sure how much it costs, but it might be cheaper.

      Also, is there any place close by that is warmer/sunnier that you could go for a few days?

      Best of luck.

    9. Cor*

      Every day write out a couple of things you’re happy for a stick it in a jar (or you can use a notebook, but I’d rather not look back at what I wrote, so I use a jar I can empty). It seems like it wouldn’t make a difference, but the act of writing really helped my happiness levels.

      Also, try listening to Alpha wave music (search YouTube). It’s music designed to trigger your brain to produce happy alpha waves. Soooo calming!

      I found my one and only friend (so far, 18 months here) on a neighborhood page when she asked to meet others new to the area. There might be other people who are lonely like you, you just have to find them.

      1. Cor*

        For sun: a lightbox, 10,000 lux is what you need for it to be helpful to replace sun. 20-30 minutes per day. (So says the research)

  10. Jean (just Jean)*

    Question about changing habits: Do people think it is easier to facilitate change by encouraging oneself, or others–children, neighbors, prickly relatives, other sorts of challenging folks–to move towards a positive goal or away from a negative goal? (“Positive” and “negative” are defined by the person seeking the change.) I won’t add “colleagues” to this list because that word belongs to the Topic We Don’t Discuss on Weekends (“TWDDW” for all acronym enthusiasts).

    Contemporary parenting advice that I’ve managed to retain leans, I believe, towards the former: parents are encouraged to, say, encourage a toddler to transition from playtime to dinner time by framing it as preparing for the meal rather than as ending a currently pleasant activity.

    I asked this earlier in the week. To honor this site’s request to keep during-the-week comments focused on the letters, I have relocated my query to the weekend open thread.

    First world problems, by the way. While I type this, Scott Simon on “Weekend Edition” (public-radio news program from National Public Radio in the U.S.) is discussing with Peter Smerdon (sp?), of the World Food Program in East Africa, how that non-govermental organization does not have sufficient resources to continue to feed all who desperately need it. This is not a PSA (public service announcement, for any non-U.S. readers); just one more example of how this world is not yet fair for all inhabitants. How can we bring about positive change for others?

    I’ll check back later today to see what anyone else has responded…to either question.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I think it depends on the person. Gretchen Rubin was onto something with her four tendencies, at least in theory (in practice everything she writes about questioners – the type that fits me – annoys me as she doesn’t really seem to get how we work). We all have different motivations. The way you facilitate change in me is to suggest it and then shut the hell up and let me get on with it in my own way. Which is why the dentist who said it was my choice whether to smoke was the one who inspired me to quit, and the ones who told me to quit didn’t.

      I’m not a parent but have worked with children and I don’t think this is a particularly comparison. If you’re a kiddo who’s upset about stopping playtime, it’s arguably more helpful to hear “you’re upset as it’s hard to stop playing, now we’re going to put the toys away and get ready for dinner” than have some adult try to act like you shouldn’t be upset about it. Because is the goal to cushion them from their feelings or help them learn to process them? Children don’t have a choice about many of the changes and transitions they have to go through.

      And colleagues and other types of adults? Well. Change is uncomfortable even when it’s positive. Most people don’t need encouragement to change so much as the removal of whatever is a) making the status quo worth keeping and b) preventing change being necessary or possible. So don’t try to get prickly relatives to change – rather, stop making it worthwhile to stay the same.

      I don’t know if this is even vaguely relevant to what you asked!

    2. fposte*

      I might be reframing your question slightly in terms of “positive” and “negative,” in that I don’t see “negative” as sad or disappointing so much but as loss or absence. IOW, more effective than “Not that” is “Not that but this.” It seems to be true in animals ranging from cats and dogs to human kids and adults that it’s usually easier to train a new habit than to train away from an old one. So “I won’t go to the vending machine in the afternoon” is harder than “I will go for a walk in the afternoon instead of going to the vending machine.” Cognitively, “I won’t buy anything this month” is harder than “I will add $100 to savings this month.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. Just because we have decided not to do something does not automatically mean what we WILL do should fall into place. We do need to do some swapping, “I will get rid of Old Habit x and make Y my new goal.”

        I had tried for over a decade to lose weight with some success. The dam broke when my goal shifted from “looking better” to “feeling better”. I think my problem was that I did not place a high value on looking good, but I would not admit that to myself. Convoluted, yes. Mental clarity set in when I decided that I wanted to feel better and participate in life to the best of my ability. Like RF is saying, the doc never mentioned a weight problem to me. He just steered me towards foods that would give me energy and nourish my body. Then nature ran it’s course. The weight fell off and I was actually having a life again. (I did a lot of other things to help myself along in this process.)

    3. anon WFP*

      (Just interesting to see mention of Peter Smerdon after a long time — I worked with him years ago.)

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      It’s late enough that everyone may not see this, but thank you RF, fposte, and NSNR. You’ve given me some useful topics to ponder.

  11. anon24*

    Yoga with Adrienne TRUE

    Who’s doing it? What do you think?

    I’m loving it. I have a pretty nasty stomach bug so I’m not really able to go “all out” but I’m still doing the videos and adapting the things my body won’t let me do. Can’t wait for week 2!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I have it bookmarked but I’ve been too lazy this week to start it.

      Is it difficult? What was your level of fitness before you started it? I’m about average weight for my height so I’ve never bothered with exercise and am quite sedentary. Can I jump straight in?

      1. anon24*

        Yes! Definitely recommend for a beginner! She makes her videos for people of all levels. When she does harder poses she will give options so the beginners can do one pose and more experienced people can do harder poses. It’s fun to see how your body changes and you become able to advance.

        I started her videos last fall because I was super out of shape. My only yoga experience before was Wii fit :) She’s great at making it easy for everyone, and she’s very good at making you not feel bad if you can’t get your body in the perfect pose. She’s always saying that you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga and you find what feels good for your body that day and don’t worry about the perfect shape, worry about what it feels like. Adrienne is so soothing and has such an awesome personality – when I put her videos on my cats usually snuggle up and sleep.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I also recommend for beginners. Wanted to add, don’t worry if there’s a series of ‘easy’ moves and then a surprisingly difficult one thrown in. It is not an indication of your lack of fitness or that the sequence is too advanced, it is only an indication that some moves are more difficult for some people than others. For example, I have very tight hamstrings so I can barely bend forward during floor-based leg stretches, but I can easily do balance-based poses for minutes on end. My MIL finds balance poses to be very challenging but can still do the splits.

      3. Rookie Manager*

        I’m relatively fit in the swimming pool (before holidays) but not so much on land. I’m definitely a yoga beginner but find Adrienne really easy to engage with.

    2. KatieKate*

      I’m doing it! I’m aday behind and reallly need to go do yesterday’s so I can catch up with today’s. But I think it’s a great one for beginners because she’s really easing us into it. And so much Benji! (her dog.) Makes me smile.

    3. Bluebell*

      I’m doing it, and wanted to thank whoever suggested it here. Was that you, Anon24? I’m enjoying the Benji cameos and particularly liked yesterday’s session.

    4. Perpetua*

      I’m doing it and I’m really happy about it! It feels much more like an exercise in self-care and mindset than “just” yoga, and it’s just what I need at the moment. I haven’t been exercising for a long time now, and this seems like a great way to get back into the habit.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I just bookmarked it! Thanks for mentioning it. I do go to hot yoga with a friend but I admit I don’t go when she can’t. I should, I know. So this is a great alternative! (It’s also relevant because similar to Loopy upthread, I’m exhausted when I get home in the evenings and totally unmotivated, so if I do this before I put my jammies on, I’ll feel better about lounging the evening away!

    6. Triplestep*

      Thank you for posting this! I was looking for some online yoga videos, but so many of them are annoying or grating for various reasons. I am going to start this over the weekend and try to catch up!

    7. Tris Prior*

      I’m doing it! Mostly enjoying it so far; having to really fight the urge to beat myself up when I can’t do something, which is more about me than her as she keeps talking about how it’s OK not to be flexible and listening to what feels good for your body. I’m not new to yoga (though not an expert either) but STILL cannot hold a downward dog for any length of time – she’s great about giving accommodations for most of the poses but I wish she’d give an alternative for people who can’t do that pose without being in a lot of pain.

      I like how it’s so far been a mix of calming stretchy stuff, and stuff that requires strength.

    8. Rookie Manager*

      Yep! I’m doing it!

      I had to do two sessions today because last night after I got home from you know where I was too tired to move. I’m really enjoying it but my stomach muscles are aching! The first session went so quickly I couldn’t believe it.

    9. Rookie Manager*

      Sorry to take over the thread but just remembered a question I had… How do you set up your yoga space? Mirrors? Where do you show the video? Do you ever find yourself twisting round to see what you should be doing?

      I’ve got a tablet I use for the video but today discovered I can cast them onto the tv in the lounge. Giant tv in the lounge is very different feel to tablet and mirrors in the bedroom. Not sure what is best.

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        Right now, I use the baby’s room because I can close the door and there is space. It worked better than the middle of the living room with everyone around…..

        I play it on my laptop on the floor. Not the best always – I do have to sometime move out of a pose to check the screen. For now, it’s getting it done at all that’s my goal.

      2. anon24*

        I set up in my living room for now, but I’m hoping to move in a few months and make a dedicated space. I have a slider door to my balcony so I set my mat up in front of it for the sunshine. Put my laptop on the floor where I can reach it adjust the screen angle if I need it, and have my water and my yoga block (you don’t need one, but some poses I like to use it) within easy reach. It’s a pain to set up every time, but it works for now. When I’m learning a new pose I’m twisting a lot to look, but it doesn’t take long before I can just follow her voice and know what to do when.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have a mat I got for Pilates, but I think it will work for me in the living room. I roll the mat up and it lives in a big basket with all my exercise stuff. Plus, if she’s on YouTube, I can watch through the Roku on the TV, so no need to fiddle with a laptop.

        2. Rookie Manager*

          That sounds beautiful. I picked up a yoga block but never sure when to use it.

          Elizabeth, I like the basket idea.

          1. Grace Carrow*

            The way I use it most is to sit on it for the seated poses – it’s magic the way it makes it so much easier to sit up straight in a relaxed way. Also think of it as a way to bring part of the floor closer to you, so if you are trying to get your hand to the floor, touch the block instead, either flat or on its end. And the third use for me is in child’s pose. If your butt doesn’t touch your heels then your back doesn’t get the message to relax, so put the block on your heels and let your butt touch the block instead.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            It’s so cool! I found a giant basket at the flea market. It’s literally a basket, with a handle, just huge. One of those basket hampers would work too, probably better, since you could put the lid on and hide stuff.

    10. SouthernLadybug*

      Me! I came to the thread today to thank whoever mentioned it during the open threads before the new year. I’ve been wanting to find some good online yoga since at this stage in my life reliably getting to a yoga studio just isn’t happening. I have a baby and a 4 year old, work full time, etc so it’s been hard to get anything consistent. I’ve made the first 5 days and am pretty proud of that!

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        Thanks :) I’m sure I won’t make the 30 days in 30 days….I figure I’ll end sometime in Feb or even March when it’s all done. But having a focus and a plan with someone whose videos I like is a nice step forward.

    11. super anon*

      I did the first day and wasn’t super into it, I prefer her Yoga for Weight Loss type videos where it combines yoga with more strength training type exercises. The first day had too much hippy style pep talk for me, but I’ll give it a shot with some other days to see how they go. If I can’t get into it I’ll probably try following along with the other 30 days of yoga series she’s done.

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        I’m out of shape, so this slow start is good for me. But I agree that for people that are fitter or already have a regular practice may need more advanced stuff. I had that thought when I started (basically that pre-pregnancy me wouldn’t have perhaps gotten as much out of it as I am now).

        So – when I am back into it, I’ll take a look the other videos. :)

    12. LizB*

      I did the first three days, but my back has been hurting for two weeks and the lovely RN on the nurse’s hotline said I should take it easy until I can see a doctor. :( Once I’m better I’ll jump back in. I like her teaching style a lot, and it’s nice to do shorter practices and really focus on a few elements.

  12. The Other Dawn*

    OMG do kids not play outside anymore??

    Family is visiting and my great nephew, who’s 9, is parked on my couch watching some really annoying videos. The older ones are still in bed, glue to their phones/electronics. We have a ton of snow and it’s so weird to me that they don’t want to be outside playing in it.

    I don’t have kids and don’t want them, so I don’t know if this is me being…me…or if it’s truly something that’s “not done” anymore by kids.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think it depends on the kid and family. I am 36 and rarely went out just to play in the snow, though I would help shovel, or go sledding, or some specific activity. And some people see outdoor play as more of a warmer weather thing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Plus, in many parts of the country it’s very cold. Being outside in 30 degree weather is way different than 5 degrees.

        1. Triplestep*

          Yep, it’s way too cold here in New England to go play in the snow. Even if that’s not the case where you are, this nine year-old might enjoy playing in the snow with other kids his own age. If he’s visiting from out of town, that may not be an option.

    2. Justme, The OG*

      I too hate playing in the snow but my kid loves it. Totally dependent on the kid and age.

    3. Enough*

      Sort of. I think part of the problem is there are fewer kids and the ages gaps are getting bigger. There are 16 grandchildren in my family with the first 5 in 3 yrs, then the next 5 in 14 months, next 4 in 3 yrs. So there were lots of opportunity for interaction. The same when I was a kid. Combine this with most of their day before dinner taken up with school/day care with almost constant structure they don’t know what to do with themselves.

    4. hermit crab*

      Isn’t it like a bajillion degrees below zero where you are today? Playing in the snow is no fun if you are frozen solid!

      To be fair, though, my favorite part of playing in the snow as a kid when you got to come indoors and drink hot chocolate, so that may be informing my opinion :)

    5. Amy S*

      I’m 42 and I would never have wanted to play in the snow (cold, wet, gross), so I don’t think this is an “anymore” issue. I’d have stayed in bed or on the couch with a book.

    6. Brand New Day*

      I can totally see the frustration. When I was younger, as the eldest cousin, I would always lead my younger cousins in play, chasing each other around the house or playing outside. We did a lot. Now I’m in my 20’s and my next youngest cousins are in their teens, we spend most of the gathering times chatting with our family. But the new generation of little cousins, three under the age of 11, spent most of the day on computer devices. Even when we did gift exchange, they only stopped when someone directly handed something to them and then went back to their electronics after opening the gift.

      My parents and I had a laugh driving home because even I was saying ‘What is it with kids these days?’.

    7. neverjaunty*

      As long as there have been kids who would rather stay inside and curl up with a book, there have been adults fussing at them to put that thing down and go play outside.

    8. Courtney*

      There’s no one answer here hat applied to all, or even most, kids. I don’t think there really ever has been – the stereotypes and trends people pay attention to just change. There will always be kids who want to play in the snow and kids who would rather stay inside. That second group gets a lot larger when it’s literally freezing outside. I doubt you feel like going for a walk or anything with the current temperature!

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      I can tell you that in the context of my job, it’s really hard to get kids to go out if they don’t want to. Our phys ed people are always horrified… “but kids should love recess! Go outside! Recess! Recess yaayyyyyyyyy!” And I totally get why they hide in the bathroom. It’s annoying but I get it.

      (Also: I never played outside, even when it was nice. My sister and I went to a dayhome as kids, and the deal I made with the lady who ran it was that I would go outside with the other kids but only if I could bring a book to read.)

      1. Temperance*

        I was an inside kid as a child, and books were what I would rather do than play outside. I’m not super fit, or coordinated, and gym class was torture as a kid.

        If kids are hiding in the bathroom … maybe there is a problem other than not wanting to run in circles or whatever gym teachers think is fun.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          It was partly because it was FREEZING here the last week of school. No one wanted to go out.

          TBH no one should be hiding anymore because our library is open every recess, so they can hang out there if they really don’t want to go out.

          1. Temperance*

            OH THAT IS AMAZING AND I LOVE THAT! When I was little and it was cold, they would just let us watch part of a movie for recess.

            1. Bibliovore*

              yes, I always kept my school library open during lunch and recess. It also got me out of lunch duty and drop off. Our kids had gym for running around and physed. Anyone who wanted to could come to the library as it was open access.

      2. Tris Prior*

        I was just thinking the other day about being forced to go outside for recess when it was freezing cold out. My friends and I found this corner of the building where we could just huddle together and shiver until they let us back inside. It was the worst.

        (I was also one of those kids that preferred to be reading rather than outside.)

        1. Courtney*

          Omgggg your user name. <333 I was also a kid that preferred reading, and now as an adult who still loves YA fiction your name makes me happy. Haha!

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          I used to love Wet Playtimes when it rained and we were allowed to stay indoors and colour, read and play with indoor games.

        3. Windchime*

          When I was a kid, we were made to go outside to play unless it was really cold (I think below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or something). That was back in the day when girls were not allowed to wear pants to school, but school would let us wear pants under our dresses when it got super cold. They would let us stay inside when it was raining, though.

          1. All Hail Queen Sally*

            OMG I remember those days (1960’s): piles of snow, a drafty school house built in the 1800’s, and we girls were only allowed to wear pants to school for the ride on the school bus. We had to remove them once we got to school. I had chapped legs every winter. Grrrrrr!

            1. only acting normal*

              Ooh flashback! I’d forgotten having chapped legs. I remember getting chilblains though. *shudder*
              It wasn’t til about age 15 that we successfully got the girls uniform changed to allow trousers.

      3. Muriel Heslop*

        So true. I teach middle school too, and it’s really impossible to get people to go outside or be active if they don’t want to be. And the middle school PE environment is exactly supportive and nurturing…I mean, it’s filled with middle schoolers.

        I’m hopeful if I can get my kids to enjoy moving as littles, that they will enjoy moving some as they grow older. Wish me luck!

      4. MissDissplaced*

        I remember as a kid we would get FORCED outside for recess even when it was 20 degrees out and -10 wind chill. We’d huddle against the school building or trees. It was horrible.

    10. nep*

      I’ve noticed over the past several years — nieces and nephews who used to be a lot more active (playing ball, riding bikes, other) spend a lot of time planted on a couch with their phones or other electronic devices. They still play some sports, though, and spend some time outside swimming and on their bikes in the nicer weather. Still, much more time in front of a screen these days.
      All that said — depends on the temperature. The toddler we take care of absolutely adores being out in the snow, but we’ve not been able to do so for a couple weeks because of the cold. It’s not fun — it’s even downright dangerous — when it’s this cold. Very much looking forward to nicer temps next week so we can get out there.

    11. Muriel Heslop*

      My kids are outside all the time. We have zero screen time during the week and they watch no TV except for weekends, and even then it is limited. My oldest just turned seven and he and my five year old play in the backyard unsupervised which is a game changer. It’s the childhood we know, so it’s what we are giving them.
      We are fortunate enough to live in a city with great parks and outdoor activities, a mild climate, and a small community of like-minded parents who will join us for “Denmark Day” (which is what we call the rare days when it’s in the 30s and 40s and we meet for a playdate.)

      Also: I hate annoying videos. My kids need to be able to entertain themselves without making me want to break their phones. Not that they have phones.

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          My sister in law is a pediatric occupational therapist and we have learned so much from her. I think it’s definitely given us happier kids (plus, they know everyone in the neighborhood because they are always outside.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We had no internet and very little on TV to watch when Saturday cartoons and weekday kid shows weren’t on, so we spent oodles of time outside. In the snow, too. I played in the woods a lot. We lived near a small river, and my sister and I liked to take our Barbies outside and take them “swimming” in side streams.

        Also, I just literally now found out that the river had an actual name besides just “Muddy Creek.”

    12. Anon for this*

      It’s true–for the most part, kids don’t play outside unsupervised anymore. The reasons for this are complex, but many parents restrict their kids much more than was common 20 or more years ago, due to various fears, some more valid than others (kidnapping, traffic, sexual abuse). Google “Free Range Kids” for much more on this topic.

      So, part of it is that they don’t want to play outside, but a much bigger part is that they aren’t allowed to play outside. And it’s pretty common these days for people to call the cops if they see unsupervised kids out and about.

      1. blackcat*

        A new family moved into my neighborhood. They called the cops on the “unsupervised” kids playing hockey in the street. There were 10-15 of them, youngest probably around 4 or 5.

        Relevant facts:
        1) There was a 14 year old and a couple of 12-13 year olds, so there were older kids who could handle minor emergencies/easily fetch/call adults.
        2) My neighborhood also has lots of retired people, so there are always adults home in case of an emergency.
        3) The kids were 100% not being destructive and did a good job moving out of the way of cars.
        4) Two of the kids are the children OF THE COP WHO LIVES ON THE STREET.

        The cops showed up and started asking where the kids who were “damaging property” and “running wild” were. They asked *the kids who the cops had been called on* because they thought that the band of respectful kids would tell them where the hooligans were. When the cops spoke to the woman who called the cops, they chewed her out for wasting their time. I think they were more pissed off when they realized that they had been called on the kids of one of their colleagues (my town is not that large, so we do not have all that many cops. I think they all know each other at least somewhat).

        New family now has no friends in the neighborhood. They got super defensive when people basically said, “Hey, this is how the neighborhood rolls, kids play in the street. That’s how we like it. If you tell kids to stay off your property, they will.” I also wonder if they would have called the cops if the kids playing were all white (they were roughly half white, half black). Maybe they looked at their house only when school was in session or something and/or didn’t talk to anyone in the neighborhood before buying. It was totally clear to me that this was the deal with the neighborhood before I bought (quickly, in a hot market), and it was a significant draw for me, even though my husband and I are childless.

    13. Lissa*

      I haaaaated going outside in any temperature pretty much, LOL. I always just wanted to read. My brother loved being outside though. My parents were always kicking me outside to “play” but it was never fun for me!

      I think people react worse to kids on electronics to kids reading, but I think it’s the same type of kid TBH, some just don’t like the type of kid play that happens outside. I pretty much hated all physical activity as a kid/young adult, only in the last year have I figured out things I like, which is usually solo activities while listening to podcasts.

      All kid games were nightmares to me. Tag, hide and seek etc., please no. I think this is one of the reasons I don’t want kids. I didn’t even like being a kid, why would I want to relive it?

    14. Relosa*

      I grew up in a cold state and while I liked playing outside int he snow, I didn’t like to do it multiple days in a row. It was mostly a weekend/snow-day kind of thing for me, or occasions when all the neighborhood kids were free at the same time. I hated the hassle of having to get dressed for recess because it was such a short amount of time outside.

      I definitely grew up in a “play outside all day” life and I genuinely liked it but I realize that was probably the benefit of growing up in a safe small suburb that was closer to agricultural communities rather than big cities. But that was all 20+ years ago.

    15. Valancy Snaith*

      I live in a town with a metric ton of kids and they are constantly outside. On playgrounds, in yards, on bikes, in parks, running, screaming, you name it. However, there are none outside this weekend because it’s literally -36C outside and it’s too cold for any of them to be out. Kids definitely still play outside, if the constant noise of kids from the playground on my block all summer long is anything to go by.

    16. paul*

      How cold is it and how good is their clothing for it?

      We got down to the low single digits/high negatives F over Christmas week (we FINALLY got above freezing again late this week) and we watched a ton of TV and movies. Did a little bit of driving and a very short hike (bald eagles and the biggest dang mule deer I can remember seeing!), but my kids gloves, shoes, and hats aren’t up to that type of cold for any real duration.

      Plus, hey, everyone has low-energy days.

    17. Sled dog mama*

      My kid is going stir crazy because it’s too cold for her to go out for any length of time (seriously considering the mall so she can run, and I hate going out when I don’t have to)
      It could just be your nephew.

    18. Someone else*

      As a kid I used to play outside all the time, but not in snow. I hated snow then and I hate snow now. I can’t say what’s the case with the kids you’re dealing with now, but it’s entirely possible their current activities are directly related to the current weather.

    19. copy run start*

      I stopped around 10 – 11, but I loved it when I was younger. It’s not much fun by yourself though.

    20. Maya Elena*

      Even though people who didn’t like the outdoors seem overrepresented here, I think the trend you observe is new and real. All the playgrounds in my neighborhood also rest empty all day, even in summer, except for one or two forlorn moms with toddlers.

      Electronics, a cultural shift away from unsupervised play, more structured after school activities, and a lack of neighbor kids in to play with (especially in urban areas) all add up to fewer kids playing outside.

    21. blackcat*

      My neighbors (4 kids, ages 7-16) have the MOST AWESOME snow fort/tunnel thing going on in their front yard. They gathered snow from the big plow piles. The structure is covered and quite complex (I believe the 16 year old, who is quite handy, was the engineer, LOL). It is awesome.

      But it is also so f-ing cold this weekend that I haven’t seen them in it much since Friday afternoon.

    22. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, all! I needed a reality check. I don’t have kids, so wasn’t sure. And yes, it’s pretty dang cold here in New England, so I wasn’t thinking about that. It was more, “Look! We have a foot of freshly fallen snow! Go out and play and stop hibernating with electronics (so I can get stuff done and actually use my own living room)!” But, yeah, it was and still is absolutely freezing, so I get it.

      That said, in general, I see that the younger ones in the family tend to want to just hang out with the electronics and not get out and do, even when it’s really nice out. It just seems so strange to me, because when I was a kid (I’m 43) I was always outside. Basically, when the street lights came on, you went home.

    23. Student*

      Have you considered leading the way, instead of harrumphing about kids these days?

      Just tell the kids you are going outside to build a snow fort (or whatever floats your snow boat). Then go do it. Probably at least one will be curious and go out with you. Then the others will likely want in on the fun.

      If none of them join you, hey, you still got to build a snow fort.

    24. The Expendable Redshirt*

      What quality is the snow? Where I grew up, there were two types of snow. 1) Dry, powdery, good for nothing common snow and 2) sticky prime building snow. The second snow type was very rare, a true opportunity for adventure. Most often thought, The Outside was just cold and boring.

  13. Amelia*

    Any tips for staying upbeat and motivated? Living through the it doesn’t get above zero windchills and other January blues… I have a tiny studio apartment (yay grad school) and can’t really be outside.

    1. fposte*

      One answer you may not like–bundle the heck up and go for a short walk. Especially if the sun is out, this is a really useful reset. When I say “short,” I mean “short”–like 5 minutes around the block is better than sitting inside the whole day, and you really don’t have to have extra-special gear for that length of time.

      1. WellRed*

        Second this. I went for a 10 minute walk the other day in a blizzard. Today, it’s sunny and I spent about 45 minutes shoveling. It’s -2 but it felt great to get physical. (Plus, being active warms you right up).

        1. fposte*

          One problem with my fall is that I became really sedentary, for a variety of reasons. I can’t shovel, but I can go for a walk around one or two blocks, and wow, it has made a difference. Since our streets are in dire condition right now I stick to during the daytime, but if there’s no snow or ice I kind of like going at night (with reflectors on my clothes).

            1. fposte*

              I didn’t realize how that could be interpreted! I had a really intense and draining autumn, but I didn’t fall over in any literal way :-).

              1. Not So NewReader*

                fall= autumn, now I see. (palm to forehead)
                I am sorry you had(have?)that rough stuff going on. I hope things smooth out very quickly for you. Thanks for clarifying.

      2. Amelia*

        During the week I have a 3 mile total walk to and from work and class. So I do walk some. It’s just downtime (like this week’s snowday) and weekends. My walk is before the sun rises and after the sun sets in winter though, maybe I’ll start taking a quick walk on my lunch break.

    2. Triumphant Fox*

      My environment has a huge influence on how I feel. When I was doing my PhD, it was a warm weather climate, but I still focused a lot on making the one bedroom my husband and I shared bright and cheery. My walls were white, and I chose bright furniture, paintings and lots of lamps. It can really help in grad school to have a non grad school project on which to focused. Everything we had was thrifted, Craigslisted or made by me. If you’re not creative, organize, declutter, and find a few big prints online that are colorful and make you smile. It gives you a break but can make being home a haven instead of a sadness.

    3. Librolover*

      Oh No! I hate that! find a Project and do it, get distracted. Read. Do your nails. Cook and clean.
      Also make sure its not SAD or just depression in general. Go to your dr. Lexipro is awesome, and so is Zoloft.
      Also Idk, can you go to your library, or mall walking? or an indoor gym? out of the house, but still warm?
      Working out-even at home helps me when I get this way.

    4. nep*

      Agree re: getting out for a walk, no matter how brief.
      It’s been proven to me time and again — no problem seems quite as daunting after a walk outside.
      If it’s dangerously cold to be out for any length of time, bodyweight exercises, yoga, stretching, and deep breathing can do wonders.

    5. Gingerblue*

      Former grad student, current inhabitant of a tiny apartment here! I’ll preface this by saying that I’m an introvert and tend to like cozying up at home anyway, but here’s a gallimaufry of suggestions:

      Since you mention the apartment, can you do anything to make it feel less like a constriction and more like a positive place you want to be, if it’s making you restless? Rearrange the furniture, add an aromatherapy diffuser with an interesting scent or a new picture? I know both time and money are probably in short supply, but I always enjoyed at least daydreaming about how to furnish my places, even if I couldn’t totally follow up. Apartment Therapy’s “Small Cool” contest archives are a treasure trove of people making tiny spaces beautiful and comfy.

      I tend to lean hard into indoor activities I enjoy this time of year—knitting, computer games, cooking, etc. Eight hours of tv and knitting isn’t lazy, it’s making the most of the season!

      Music. Upbeat EDM got me through many a January and my dissertation.

      Have you tried changing the color temperature of the lightbulbs you use?

      I heavily second other people saying to get outdoors briefly even when it’s awful if you’re physically able. If you have a positive goal outside it’s easier to make a habit of. (I took up snowshoeing, and it was good for my mental health.)

      Can you change up your workspace? Does your school, for instance, have any communal work spaces which might be nice and sunny, or at least a change of scenery? A library carrel, a reading room, or so forth which you have access to but don’t normally use?

      Does your school have any things like gym facilities or other amenities which could get you out of the house for a change of pace?

      I’m always way more productive once the temperature hits 75, and I went to grad school in Michigan—great move, past me!—so you have my total sympathy.

    6. Anono-me*

      I find it helpful to spend time around plants. If your community has a conservatory or a garden shop with a greenhouse or even the plant section at Home Depot; try to spend some time there. Also, try to have some green at home. (Many people will share plant cuttings that can be started in water like spider plants.)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I use this time of year to start spring cleaning. The wonderful thing about spring cleaning is I really have to move around. While I hate doing it, I always feel better for making myself move.

      Set a do-able goal. Work on the goal several times a week until you are done. Do this in a gentle manner- this can be by deciding how many hours today you will work on and letting yourself quit when the time is up. Another gentle way to move yourself along is to do small things that you have always wanted to do but would not take the time during the warmer months. I moved the paper towel holder in the bathroom. I have been looking at that and cussing at the location for a couple years now. With this cold weather and not too much else going on, I decided to move it. I feel like I moved Mt. Everest, but it’s just a paper towel holder that sat in the wrong place for years. It gave me a larger sense of accomplishment than any paper towel holder ever should.

      1. fretnone*

        This made me smile :) It’s the small things, right? The way we see the world is so much more than just the world.

    8. paul*

      Small indoor garden and maybe some nice posters (of whatever stuff you enjoy)?

      An indoors fountain?

      Any chance of hanging a birdfeeder off your windowsill? I did that last week, it’s been a blast. Right by my kitchen sink so I can laugh at sparrows being sparrows while I scrub dishes

    9. Ramona Flowers*

      Am I the only one who likes to just get under the covers and enjoy being really cosy and reading or watching TV?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Not at all.

        I’ve been forcing myself to walk outside even when it’s cold, however–it’s the easiest way I know to fitness (and least costly). I was bummed about cold last winter and then realized I had all these skating clothes I could layer. We also eased into winter then, and I discovered I can handle it from about 25-30 F on up, if the wind isn’t blowing too much and it’s not raining or snowing.

        This year, it’s been difficult since we went straight from warm to polar and I had no chance to acclimate.
        ((( *_*)))

      2. paul*

        I love doing that, but I find if I do an all day under the covers thing more than maybe a couple-three times a month I start to feel really withdrawn and not good mentally. I know that isn’t universal, but even some of those of us that enjoy that in smaller doses can’t/shouldn’t do it too often :)

      3. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I like to nest in my recliner working on needlework while watching TV or reading. I get interrupted by the cats every once in a while–one wants to be petted (put down that book/needlework and pet me!!!) While the other wants to sit on my lap and nurse on the fleece blanket I’m snuggling under (she was bottle raised 9 years ago but still reverts to kittenhood every once in a while). It is too hot in summer to do this so I let them snuggle as much as they want while it is cold.

    10. HannahS*

      I’m an indoor person to begin with, but I try to use projects to keep me from melting into a couch-blob from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. I might spend a weekend afternoon cooking my meals for the week, and then watch a show and work on my knitting projects–basically, I try to spend time doing things in various areas of my apartment to avoid the couch-blob situation.

    11. Pathfinder Ryder*

      Over Christmas my cousin told me about the Fitness Marshall, a gentleman on Youtube who makes dance along “Cardio Concert” fitness videos. They’re pretty easy (though I admit we may be biased – my cousin was a ballerina until uni and I’ve also spent most of my life in dance lessons), with optional levelling up (eg. turning a step into a jump) for more of a workout. I’m trying to do one every weekday morning for a quick little mood booster before the thing we don’t talk about on weekends – maybe this might work for you? I also have a tiny studio apartment and had just enough room.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Oooo! Interesting!

      I’d support literacy and foreign language charities in poverty stricken areas. I think that if you have access to good quality books from an early age and you’re taught that reading is a worthwhile past time then you have an advantage later in life because you’re experiencing things through the fictional world before you encounter them in real-life. As for the promotion of foreign languages, I come from Britain where it’s not normal to be bilingual and I’d like to help change that.

      (Also, women’s health – probably support Planned Parenthood but on a global scale)

    2. ThatGirl*

      Mennonite Disaster Service, Heifer International, Posse Foundation, NAMI… all nonprofits I currently support.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Aside from the charity I work for, I would support the Maytree suicide respite centre (not least because their telephone listening service saved my life), the Rees Foundation for foster care leavers, Stand Alone which supports adults estranged from family members, a local animal rescue and a local hospice.

    4. Claire (Scotland)*

      Doctor Without Borders, Cancer Research UK, and Children First. Same ones I currently donate to monthly, just on a bigger scale.

    5. WellRed*

      Planned parenthood, local libraries, diabetes research and advocacy. I would love to create a foundation that gives insulin and supplies to those that can’t afford it.

    6. Puertorriqueña*

      Art museums, the humanities departments at universities, whatever programs are in place to supplement the loss of arts programs in schools. Also would support paying for mental health services for people who need it but can’t afford it, and no-kill shelters.

    7. Florida*

      Southern Poverty Law Center – they help identify hate groups, educate law enforcement about them, investigate them, etc.

      That’s the only national group I support. I also support my local library, a music camp I attended in high school/college, local foster care organizations, and local arts organizations.

      1. Eva*

        If the SPLC applied their own criteria to themselves, they would almost certainly qualify as a hate group. They also have named innocent people on their lists before, nearly ruining peoples lives.

      2. Mazzy*

        I’ve seen the SPLC being quick to label things as hate crimes using very weak and questionable criteria, and their own website says they don’t include organizations that promote hate and violence if it isn’t explicitly based on race or sexual orientation. Sorry, but it’s 2018, and I’m not about to forgive violence and hate because it’s aimed at everyone and not just specific people! Using that logic, what is to stop an actual hate group from just not publicizing its target?

        1. Former Employee*

          “…their own website says they don’t include organizations that promote hate and violence if it isn’t explicitly based on race or sexual orientation.” Huh?

          If you look at their website, SPLC works against hate groups whether it is based on hate towards ethnic groups or people of a certain sexual orientation or religion or even anti-government hate groups.

          The following is a quote from their website:

          “The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”

          1. Mazzy*

            The contradict that on their own website, this is from the FAQ

            Why doesn’t the SPLC list —– as a hate group?

            The SPLC condemns violence in all its forms, including the violent acts of —– movements like —–. But the propensity for violence, though present in many hate groups, is not among the criteria for listing. Also, —– groups do not promote hatred based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity (see criteria above).

            1. Mazzy*

              I don’t see how “we hate everyone” should disqualify from counting as a hate group, I think that logic of the SPLC is horrible.

              1. fposte*

                I think it’s because it’s an organization based in civil rights law; that definition of “hate group” is pretty much the same as the FBI’s, too. If it’s a problem equally for everyone, then it’s not disparately impacting people based on membership in a protected class. (I also think this gets to the discussion elsewhere in the thread that not every org is going to work for every cause.)

                But is there a group you think hates everybody in ways that don’t discriminate but are dangerous? I’m not thinking of a group like that offhand–the occasional individual, but by definition that’s not a group.

        2. Temperance*

          They have a specific mission to protect groups targeted by hate groups. No one, certainly not the SPLC, is asking you to “forgive violence and hate because it’s aimed at everyone”. They just choose to focus on certain activities.

          Your POV here is akin to claiming that Living Beyond Breast Cancer is trash because they don’t also raise funds for other types of cancer. No one is saying any cancer is good, the group is just choosing to focus on this type of cancer

    8. Kuododi*

      Definitely Make a Wish….the emotional benefits the kids receive from experiencing their wish will many times translate into real, verifiable physical well being. I have gone to local Make a Wish foundation get togethers with DH and being a small part of helping these wonderful children and their families is beyond words.

    9. Temperance*

      1.) NARAL Pro Choice America
      2.) Freedom from Religion Foundation
      3.) ACLU
      4.) child welfare charities
      5.) Human Rights First
      6.) Emily’s List
      7.) Girl Scouts of America
      8.) the Church of Satan
      9.) Girls Who Code
      10.) the Four Diamonds Fund

      1. Eva*

        The ACLU supports and defends Nazi’s, pedophiles and other abhorrent people. I’m surprised you are okay with that. I’m a Jewish person who isn’t white. They support people who want to hurt me and my community. Don’t know how anyone can be on board with that.

          1. Sarah M.*

            After hearing stories from my grandparents and other family members who survived the holocaust and were terrorized by the hate groups in the cities they lived in (Skokie where they wanted to march and Chicago where they eventually did) I cannot in good conscience support such an organization.

            The same organization defended the group whose members molested my cousin as a child and destroyed his life.

            1. Temperance*

              I really encourage you to look into this further rather than just taking your family’s opinion on the subject. The ACLU didn’t and doesn’t support hate groups terrorizing individual folks and they absolutely wouldn’t encourage child abuse.

              1. Sarah M.*

                I have studied this at college to the tune of two B.A.’s and an M.A. where my thesis was on Nazi policy and hatred against the Jewish people. I have worked for NGO’s, nonprofits and a UN envoy that deal with hates crimes and genocides. It was very terrifying for my relatives who survived the holocaust to have Nazi’s marching near where they lived. It was terrifying for the man who molested my cousin to post all over the internet that the contact between them was right and should be legal.

                1. fposte*

                  As I said below, I’m open to recommendations of other organizations that do similar work. Which ones would you recommend?

                2. Temperance*

                  I understand that it had to be scary for your family to be exposed to those marches, but I still stand firmly on the side of the Constitution and allowing free speech and public assembly, even for people with abhorrent views, like the Charlottesville marchers. I hate the Westboro Baptist Church, but I support their rights to protest.

                  I can’t comment on what happened to your cousin. That sounds awful.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          They “support” them as in they support their constitutional rights, because they support everyone’s constitutional rights.

          1. Eva*

            They also supported the Alt-right hate groups in Charlottesville. Did you support the Alt-right in their rally there or did you think there hate speech was awful. The ACLU supports hate speech and not just free speech.

              1. Eva*

                POC like me who are on the receiving end of hate speech don’t get the luxury of feeling the same way. It still hurts us even though it is one form of hate that is “allowed” and it not being illegal doesn’t change it. It is great that you have an organization you like and support. Not all of us get that luxury.

                1. fposte*

                  I’m open to recommendations of similar organizations that you find preferable; I want to support an organization that actively defends atheists, but not only atheists, when it comes to religious freedom, to give you an idea of what I’d be looking for.

            1. Gaia*

              I support the constitutional right of anyone, even with an abhorrent stance, to gather and protest peacefully. My support (and the support of the ACLU) ends when it becomes violent. If we start saying some speech isn’t allowed because we don’t agree with it, we risk our speech not being allowed when the people in power don’t agree with us (as is the case now, for me).

              1. fposte*

                Right. The ACLU has supported the rights of people who believe that I’m wrong and evil and shouldn’t be in the USA. And I’m okay with that, because their rights are also my rights.

        2. Temperance*

          I am completely okay with the fact that the ACLU defends unpopular causes and protects all of our rights. For me, it’s very simple. They defend the free speech rights of people that I find abhorrent, because we *all* deserve those rights. Once you start deciding who deserves protecting, you erode the very rights you should want to protect.

        3. Frankie Bergstein*

          The way I heard it explained once was that they would defend folks with abhorrent views, win, and then use those legal precedents to defend folks with other (non hate-based) views. However, after Charlottesville’s march earlier this year, the ACLU set to some real soul-searching.

        1. Temperance*

          They are doing some AMAZING stuff in the US with regards to pushing back on government-backed support of Christianity. They also do a lot of cool charity work.

          1. Wut?*

            It really is! They have gotten so much done with schools that were forcing Christianity (and other religions) into a public education setting, which I think is so important.

          2. Thlayli*

            I looked on their website out of interest and I couldn’t find anything about the work they do. Not saying it isn’t there, coz I only spent 5 mins on the website. But usually advocate groups have info on what they actually do with your money right there on page 1. All I could find on the church of Satan website when looking to see what they do with the money was “that’s up to us, if you want to know what we do with your money, don’t give us money.”

    10. NicoleK*

      I would support a charity that covers the cost of replacing driver’s license or state ID. This seems to be an issue that affects mainly the poor as they can’t afford to replace lost, missing, stolen, or a new ID due to change of address.

    11. Roseberriesmaybe*

      Homeless charities, especially the Fr Peter McVerry Trust. It is a big issue in my country…the priest I named has basically given his life’s work to supporting homeless young men (often with drug issues). He is practically a saint

    12. MsChanandlerBong*

      I think about this every day of my life. My husband and I would support the local zoo/botanic garden, the Philharmonic, the opera, local art programs for children, the Ronald McDonald House (local/state/national level), a local program that provides housing for people who need to stay close to a hospital while they are in medical treatment, the local natural history and science museums, the Met, the Metropolitan Opera, several art museums around the country (National Gallery, High Museum in Atlanta, Phoenix Museum of Art, etc.), Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg (best aquarium ever, has ruined all other aquariums for me), the local musical theater group, and Donors Choose projects as we saw fit. Assuming we invested the money wisely and had a bunch left when we died, we would divide our estate among the local Ronald McDonald House and a local arts program for disabled adults (my husband currently works there, and it is a great program).

    13. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I don’t know if it counts as a charity, but I would donate to the campaigns of female and/or POC progressive candidates. I would also like to set up some kind of service that assists people in getting to the polls or getting the required ID they need to vote or overcoming whatever other barriers they might have.

      I would also support local arts and education organizations.

    14. fposte*

      What an interesting question! I’d probably stick with my current donations–local food bank and Habitat, Doctors without Borders, UNICEF, ACLU, etc. But when you’re talking funds on that scale, I think it’s also time to see if there’s something that needs to be addressed that current foundations don’t tackle. One area I’d really like to see something develop is helping foster kids transition to independence; these are kids already fighting an uphill climb through no fault of their own, and they’re often on their own financially at 18 with little preparation. Needless to say, it often doesn’t go well for them.

      If I had the funds because I inherited them, I also would likely keep on with the work that mattered to the person I inherited it from; with money like that, you’re not just an owner but a steward.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Can’t believe I forgot about food banks – I would add the Trussell Trust to my list.

      2. Eva*

        Are you aware that the ACLU defends and supports pedophiles, white supermasict Nazi’s and other people with terrible beliefs? As someone who is Jewish and has been hurt by this type of people in the past I can’t imagine why anyone would support them.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          People of goodwill can disagree. In fact, that’s one of the wonderful things about the U.S. (home to the ACLU aka American Civil Liberties Union, if anyone needs the acronym unpacked).

          I have to remind myself of this frequently because I have ferocious political opinions that I can’t always express around other people.

          For purposes of this discussion, I’m also Jewish and I’m a member of the ACLU (unless I’ve been temporarily cast out by my delay in membership renewal).

          1. Sarah M.*

            My grandparents and some other family survived the Holocaust. They lived in Illinois, in Chicago and Skokie where these Nazi groups both wanted to march eventually did. I grew up hearing the stories of how they were terrorized. The ACLU fought for and allowed that to happen. The only time I saw my grandfather cry was when he told me about this. I will never support the ACLU because of that.

            1. Temperance*

              Did you do any personal research on the subject, or did you just hear stories from your extended family?

              Your wording makes it seem like the ACLU supports hate groups as a policy. They absolutely do not. They support constitutional rights for all, which is not the same thing.

              1. Sarah M.*

                I have two B.A.’s in history and an M.A. for the same. My M.A. thesis was on the holocaust and hate groups and Nazi party policy. I have done work for NGO’s and the UN in the interest of preventing genocide and I work for a non-profit that supports victims of hate crimes.

                1. Temperance*

                  With your considerable experience, I’m genuinely surprised that you oppose the ACLU and their work.

          1. Gaia*

            Agreed. It is like the lawyers that defend terrorists. It has to be a horrible and hard job sometimes, but it is critically necessary. We cannot just support the rights of people we agree with – we must support the rights of everyone.

    15. Catarina*

      I have an invention I would fund, based on a local charity tragedy that happened when I was younger.

      One of our animal shelters had a fire, and many of the animals perished locked in their cages. I would develop cages that are linked to the fire system, and which would unlock as soon as fire is detected. It’s been over twenty years, and I still tear up thinking of those animals trapped in their little cages as fire burns around them.

      I would also buy animal-sized breathing masks for all fire departments.

      1. Grumpy*

        I think I know the one you mean. That was awful.
        I would give to smaller animal shelters and private groups that operate on shoestring budgets to help animals get forever homes or happily live out their lives.

    16. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I’ve never had the money to donate to any charities so I’m not sure which ones are problematic and which ones aren’t, but I’d want to focus mainly on helping animals, on women’s health, and on health research (both curing diseases and patient access/the more social parts of health).

      I’d also probably start some kind of scholarship/grant fund to help students go to college and also maybe help underfunded university departments in certain subjects. A few years ago I heard about a cool-sounding program at some community college somewhere that had a really interesting sustainable energy program. I don’t know if that one is still around (and I don’t really remember enough about it to check; don’t even remember what part of the country it was in), but I’d love to fund curriculum development and equipment purchasing for something like that.

      1. Safetykats*

        If I had some real money to donate I would actually look for new opportunities. There are a lot of big, established charities that are doing great work, but working with our local United Way has helped me to realize that there are even more little organizations doing essential work – sometimes locally, but sometimes not – who could really use some help. My three favorite just now are an organization that helps homeless teens, one that provides classes in parenting skills for guardians of at-risk or developmentally challenged children (who can’t afford that type of help alone), and one that repairs and refurbishes donated bicycles and provides them to local refugee and other low income families.

    17. Muriel Heslop*

      Charities that support women and children who need to be able to support themselves. Heifer is one I support, plus lots of local charities that support teenage moms trying to finish high school, women trying to start over after abuse, the food bank.

      Recently, I read an article about Lenny Bruce’s daughter starting a recovery house for women leaving prison who need a fresh start and are in recovery. Her dad was an addict, she mentioned she was in recovery, and she wants to build more. A great cause, and much needed.

      I’ve always said if I won the lottery, I would use the money to start a foundation. With that foundation, I would start a residential high school for pregnant teens/teen mothers who need a safe and stable place to be educated and to live. Then, I would expand. Every time the Power Ball or Mega Millions gets big, I ask him to buy me some tickets for my foundation.

    18. Lcsa99*

      There is a small local charity called Special Strides that has made a big difference in the lives of my niece and nephew so I would definitely support them. Other than that, it’s so disconcerting that so many seemingly worthy charities are corrupt – I might be tempted to just start my own.

    19. Ann Furthermore*

      The first thing I’d do is go talk to the principal of my daughter’s school and ask her to add up the cost of all the projects, improvements, supplies, etc that she’d like to do for the school, and write her a check. Money has been so tight in the district for the last 10 years, which is shameful considering that we live in a pretty affluent county.

    20. Sled dog mama*

      The Ronald Mcdonald house that housed us when our daughter was in PICU, and Id start my own foundation to support women (and men, and those who are non-binary, but mainly those who aren’t white men) in science who interrupt their careers (ie publishing) to have children or care for family. This has been a dream of mine since a conversation I had with a professor as an undergraduate. We weren’t talking about what leads many women to drop out of grad school or struggle to get tenure or choose some other career path and this was the biggest thing, the pressure to publish so you could keep bringing in grants ment that many of her peers felt they had to choose between family and career.

    21. paul*

      I’d *really* out myself by naming the names because they’re local/regional, but there’s a list of about 4-5 local ones that do pretty good work working with various populations. They’re none of them perfect all the time (something I think people get hung up on with charities).

      There’s a DV shelter in the area that’d get a lot of cash.

      there’s another homeless shelter type agency–right now it focuses exclusively on women, but given how good they work and their practices I’d approach them about a similar thing for men as well–toss 7 figures at i(we don’t have an equivalent). They’re heavy into protracted case management with their clients; it means it’s a resource intensive process well beyond what the other shelters in town do, but it does undeniably get good results.

      There’s a new-ish free health care place that popped up in 2016 I’d heavily bankroll. They’ve got good partnerships as is, but they’re literally it for free health care and they’ve shown a hell of a lot of grit and inventiveness (I already donate to them but I’m…well, not rich so you’re talking 20 bucks sometimes).

      The local food bank recently launched an initiative to increase food availability to rural areas; I’d put money towards them generally and that program specifically. We’ve got north of 15 counties here that don’t actually have a consistent food pantry in the county.

      The local zoo would get a crapton of money, as would the botanical garden.

    22. Hele*

      For me it would be charities that provide support to military members and police officers (and their families as too).

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Why not?

          I love that everyone named such a variety of charities. And I suspect many of the choices are down to personal experience. I know many of my employer’s supporters have extremely personal reasons for choosing us.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, I didn’t mention some of the very localized places I’ve donated to, some of them because they meant a lot to my family.

        2. Gaia*

          Because it is important to Hele and, I imagine, Hele views both the military and the police as providing a societal need while doing dangerous work that all too often results in them being killed on the job or with life long mental and physical injuries.

    23. Mazzy*

      Anything animal rights or environmental. I can’t believe PETA has to police people keeping dogs outside in this sort of weather.

    24. pandq*

      I support Equal Justice Initiative for their brave work against capital punishment and the other projects they have going on. There is a museum called The Legacy Museum that is opening soon in Alabama.

    25. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely Planned Parenthood. They were my only source of healthcare when I lived in Santa Cruz. They kept me in BC pills so I could work. Without them, I would have not been able to for three or four days a month.

      There’s one here called Care to Learn that funds immediate needs for schoolchildren, without them having to enter into a huge bureaucratic process. It goes through the school because teachers are often the first outside adults to notice a kid is coming to school with no coat or doesn’t have a toothbrush, etc. It started locally, founded by Brad Pitt’s brother Doug (this is their hometown), but now it’s statewide. I’d love to see it go national.

      Also, I’d love to see allotments be more of a thing in cities here. My cousin in London has one and it’s brilliant. I know a bunch of places have community gardens, but not nearly enough, and I want to put them in food deserts. With greenhouses for in winter. And have special rates or concessions if you couldn’t pay a yearly fee because you were on benefits.

      I’d go around pushing money for extension of public transit, too, if I were a zillionaire. Think of me as a benevolent dictator, LOL.

    26. call me Katie*

      My main charity would be one called Justice for All. It is an organized dedicated to reforming the justice system to make the world a safer place. I would also look into other organizations that support reforming the justice system and advocating for victims of crimes and them having more of a voice.

    27. Hobgoblin*

      Neat question! My list would be:
      – Remote Area Medical (they run medical clinics in Virginia/Tennessee and other impoverished areas and provide free medical care to the uninsured and underinsured)
      – Girl Scouts
      – my local food bank
      – org that hands a check to the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty (this does exist but the name is really region-specific)
      – my animal shelter
      – my local library (I’d totally ask how much it would take to make them rename it after me!)

      My husband and I were actually talking about this today. He said the Powerball was some huge amount so he plans to buy tickets (because it’s not worth it if it’s “low”??) and we were picking the charities we’d support. Such a fun conversation!

    28. Tuna Casserole*

      If I had the money, I’d finance a men’s shelter; the nearest one is over 100 miles away.

    29. super anon*

      I would donate a significant amount of money to my alma mater to set up scholarships and bursaries in my name for areas where they are funding gaps (and if I had enough money see if I could donate enough to get a building or significant campus feature named after me). I would support my local aquarium, as well as the local small animal rescue group.

    30. JamieS*

      Too late for me to think of the names of charities but I support the decriminalization of drugs, legalization of prostitution (NOT human trafficking), access to clean water and sanitization, and helping people get jobs (teaching job skills, interviewing help, providing work clothes, etc). I also think a lack of paternal involvement is a root cause for a lot of societal problems so I’d want to figure out the main causes of men not being in their children’s lives (current opinion is men being imprisoned for drug related crimes is a major factor) and from there work to address those issues to reduce single motherhood.

    31. Thlayli*

      I would set up my own charity with one single goal – to give contraception to anyone who wants it. Aiming particularly at the poorest of the poor – like women living in IDP camps who have to go outside to get firewood and risk being raped every time they step outside the camp.

    32. Gaia*

      I think about this. Like, a lot. I would buy a ton of land in some very rural place. I would build lots of tiny houses on it with small individual yards. I would work with nationwide foster and rescue animal groups that specifically help animals in kill shelters and rescue animals from areas with natural disasters. I would offer these tiny houses to people who are housing insecure or homeless, at no cost, under the condition that they care for the animals I would offer to be housed on my land. The animals would be safe, loved and cared for and the people would have a safe, warm place to call home.

      1. Gaia*

        And when this pipe dream turns out to be not feasible….I would give a lot of money to ACLU, Planned Parenthood (who provided my only healthcare for many years at no cost because I didn’t even have $5 to spare), Give Back Packs (a local initiative started by one man on a whim trying to help one homeless man which has turned into hand out thousands of backpacks to homeless people in a single town…including one to my own sister), the local Crisis Nursery (which allows parents to drop off their children no questions asked if they are concerned they may hurt the child), every no kill animal shelter and foster organization I could, HOPE schools, Gift of Hearing Foundation, and a few local food pantries and shelters.

    33. FD*

      I can’t name exact names without outing myself too much, but there are a few I would want to help. First, there’s a local food bank that does an excellent job of helping people in our region. They do an amazing job of using a combination of donations, purchases, and reclaimed food (e.g. grocery stores will give them food that’s perfectly good and safe but won’t be sold because it’s past the ‘sell by’ date) to make funds they get go a long way.

      Second, there’s a local art museum with a great collection that you can see for free. I’ve spent a lot of time there and I think it’s great that anyone who wants to can view the works there. I also respect that they try to keep a diverse collection on display of both historic and modern works.

      Third, I would like there to be more non-religious health and human services organizations in my regions specifically. If you need emergency aid around here, there’s really only some Christian organizations. Many of them do fine work, but there are plenty of people either wouldn’t be comfortable reaching out, might be rejected, or wouldn’t know about them.

    34. Amadeo*

      Everyday people in my community, I think. A coworker with preemies whose birth and long hospital stay are going to make things very tight. Somebody whose car broke down and needs it fixed or replaced. Somebody else with a vet bill or unexpected expense. Those sorts of things. I feel like when donating to national organizations the people that I see around me that need it most don’t get it and I’d rather quietly pay a bill for someone that needs it and won’t get help otherwise.

    35. Elizabeth H.*

      The Fistula Foundation
      SPIN Stray Pets in Need – local (Boston suburbs) all-volunteer animal care group
      American Friends Service Committee
      NYT Neediest Cases fund
      Pine Street Inn (Boston homeless shelter) and other local shelters.
      I would also make arts donations eg to concert series, museums, public radio, local arts organizations.

  14. LibbyG*

    Piano lessons. Our kids are 6 and 3, and we would like to start them on piano lessons (maybe just the older one for now). I’d love to hear some from people who took lessons as kids. Did you want to? Were you glad you had them? Other thoughts?

    1. Butterfingers*

      I was sent to piano lessons aged 6, and made to keep taking them until I was 11. I hated them, I had NO musical talent or interest, and I resented every minute I was forced to spend there. I think my parents just liked the image of having kids taking music lessons, instead of listening to us about what we wanted to do.

      It put me off music for life. :(

      1. Caro in the UK*

        Me too :( My mother forced me to go because, and she admitted this right from the start, she really wished she’d taken piano lessons as a child and wasn’t going to let me make the same mistake. I hated it. It dreaded my lesson every week and begged to stop going.

        Eventually my mother relented when I was 12 and allowed me to quit, but only if I went and told the teacher myself why I no longer wanted to take the lessons, because she thought I might chicken out if I had to have the awkward conversation.

        Obviously not every kid will hate the lessons as much as this! But I’d definitely discuss this with your kids first, because they will almost certainly have some opinion on it. They might absolutely LOVE it. They might want lessons, but for a different instrument. Or they might not want to go at all. Listen to what they say and take it from there.

      2. Sylvan*

        +1, basically, although I definitely appreciate the opportunity! The time spent in lessons or practicing could have been used for interests I would actually pursue later.

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        My mother tried to make me go and I fussed. We really couldn’t afford them anyway, so I won, but I really didn’t want to take piano. She did triumph a few years later when I had to pick an instrument and she made me pick the flute because she loved it and always wanted to play it. I resented it at first, and while I did grow up to love playing music and music in general, I’d always wished I’d had my choice (which was saxophone or trumpet).

    2. neverjaunty*

      Why piano in particular?

      I would have like lessons a lot better if they were more interesting and I’d been allowed to choose them, instead of it being treated like something You Should Do because It Is Good For You.

        1. copy run start*

          To add: my parents signed me up for piano, but in 5th grade we had a presentation for the school orchestra and band and we all got to learn about different instruments and sign up to take either orchestra or band through school. I was much better at violin than piano because I wanted to play it.

    3. Librarian from Space*

      I started at 5 and mostly loved it – sometimes practicing was hard or boring, but I kept at it and it has brought me lifelong joy and good habits. At 39, I still play nearly every day, and I’m starting to show my 3 year old the basics. I say at least give it a try with the 6 year old!

      1. Kuododi*

        My beautiful niece was six years old when DH and I moved to where the family is currently living. She begged me to give her piano lessons pretty much as soon as we got the boxes unpacked. (Of course she didn’t have to put much energy in her begging!!!! ;). I have amazing memories of snuggling with her on the piano bench while we had our lessons!!! Sadly her side of the family moved out west about two years later putting a massive cramp in our quality time. :(

    4. BunnyWatsonToo*

      I always wanted to , but didn’t start until age 10. Quit after 5 or 6 years because I wasn’t ever going to be as good at it as I wanted to be. A few years ago, I bought a fairly inexpensive keyboard and started reteaching myself. Still not very good but I’m glad I took lessons as a kid.

    5. Kuododi*

      I started at age 4. Apparently at that time teachers wouldn’t take students too young to read and Mom had to really hunt to find a teacher who believed that a 4year old could read. Long story short… I loved piano and studied for funsies all through graduate school. I got to the point I was playing semi-professionally in the community. NBD…just helped make extra cash during the lean college/grad school days. I also found my aptitude for piano allowed me flexibility to pick up other instruments during highschool and college. I also played flute, marched on drum line playing xylophone, and taught myself clarinet. Unfortunately arthritis and carpal tunnel have made piano an impossibility these days. Id encourage you to just make music a fun experience….no pressure for the kids. Enjoy!!!

    6. zyx*

      Despite having hated her own piano lessons as a child, my mother decided to get her kids lessons because she was so grateful as an adult that she knew how to play. So my sister and I both were both “forced” to take piano lessons. I loved them! I started when I was 7, and knowing how to read music was a huge advantage when I joined choirs or wanted to play other instruments.

      As a moody teenager, I often parked myself at the piano to play my assigned pieces as loudly and quickly as I could (and transposed to a minor key). My mom once told me that hearing me pound at the piano was her signal to give me space. :)

      I am thankful that I had low-pressure piano lessons. Though I will never be a concert pianist, they helped me discover a lifelong love of music. I still find playing a keyboard (or guitar) to be an important emotional release.

    7. Florida*

      Music lessons are so important. Sign your child up today!! Make the child continue for one year. (You can change teachers if they hate their teacher, but stick to the lessons). After one year, re-evaluate it. Give them a choice between piano or strings (those are sort of the only choices for that age. They don’t have the lung power for anything that requires air.)

      I took piano lessons as a kid. Participated in school and non-school music activities all through my entire education including college (music major). It is so cool to listen to music and have a deep understanding of what is happening, rather than just being able to hum the melody. I am forever grateful that I took piano lessons (piano is not my primary instrument). I only took about two years in elementary school and one in high school. I wish I had taken more. (I took lessons on my primary instrument from sixth grade through college.) I quit piano lessons when I changed instruments. So I was taking some sort of music lessons from about ages 8-22.

      Music lessons teach discipline. In sports, you have practices that you have to participate in, but going to a team practice at a scheduled time is different than practicing on your own every day. It’s the difference between attending class and sitting down and studying for a test. I currently teach adults (not music) and many students can show up to class, but they cannot for the life of them sit down for an hour and study for a test (even though their career depends on them passing!). Learning how to practice is a skill that is transferable. You have diagnose the problem, figure out how to get better at it, do enough repetitions to solidify it, etc. Music lessons taught me the level of meticulous hard work it takes to be successful. This is a trait that transfers to any field regardless of whether you child grows up to be a musician or not.

      I recommend that you find a teacher that seeks a balance between learning music that the kid wants to play and learning music they should learn. If the kid wants to learn the latest pop tunes, the teacher should be able to incorporate that into the lessons. But you don’t want a teacher who thinks that the kid gets to pick all the music. Pop tunes are the equivalent of beach novels. Fun to read, but you want the teacher to teach Shakespeare too.
      Also, be sure the teacher uses sheet music. Most piano teachers do, but if you go with Suzuki strings, the kid may or may not really learn to read music well.

      I think with music lessons (and most activities in life) whether you like it or not depends on your teacher. You absolutely have to find a good teacher. (This is true no matter what activity you put your kids in.) A bad teacher will ruin the best activity on the planet.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        “Pop tunes are the equivalent of beach novels. Fun to read, but you want the teacher to teach Shakespeare too.”

        You’re kidding? Plenty of popular music requires skill to play. I am a pianist, albeit a rusty one, and have plenty of complex pop songs in my repertoire.

        I found Tori Amos harder to learn than Gershwin, for example.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          PS Speaking of which, as a teenager I used to enjoy going into piano shops with my bright red or pink hair, eyeliner, facial piercings and stompy boots (back when this kind of look was taken to mean that you were a drug addict or some kind of troublemaker), skulking about a bit, sitting down at a nice Steinway or whatever. Bonus if the staff started hovering really nearby.

          And then I’d launch into Rhapsody in Blue, or a really thoughtful rendition of Moonlight Sonata (which may appear simple to play but is hard to play well) or this really great Fanny Mendelssohn piece I forget the name of.

          1. Rookie Manager*

            I loved playing sonitinas, The Entertainer (Felix), blues, old and modern pop songs, ‘Easy to play musicals’ that I could sing along with. You learn much more if you can play different styles and see the differences and similarities between them.

      2. Rookie Manager*

        As well as what Ramona said, of course young children can play wind instruments. My 2yo nephew can make a note out a trumpet, there is a very cute photo of my grandad helping me play trombone when I was 3 or 4 and I started proper brass lessons age 6.

        Some wind instruments are incredibly easy to play, my mum taught me recorder age 4 &5, the music book was colour coded for different notes so my toddler sister played along on a xylophone from the same company by reading the colours and recognising the rhythm.

    8. Triplestep*

      I had lessons as a child (teacher came to our house) and I liked them. I don’t know why I quit – it may have been because money got tight when my parents divorced when I was ten. We moved and the piano moved with us, but the lessons stopped.

      My kids both had music lessons; the one who was less musical just drifted away from his drum lessons. The one who is more musical kept it up and still plays violin/fiddle and sometimes piano. She asked to play the violin at age 3, and I enrolled her in Suzuki classes.

      The teacher she had as a pre-teen/young teen was not a good match. I was star-struck by his accomplishments and the fact that he had auditioned her at age 10 before taking her as a student. He was a nice guy and well-meaning teacher, but not for her. She wanted to quit. With her natural ability, this would have been such a shame, so we found better teachers from then on. That would be my advice if these lessons reveal that your kids enjoy playing – make sure this teacher AND subsequent teachers are good matches. Don’t stay with one too long if the relationship doesn’t grow with your child.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Yes!!! I loved playing piano but I really didn’t like my teacher (she’s my Mom’s best friend) I’m still sorry I didn’t enjoy the lessons more that would have kept me going.

        It depends on your kid OP. Some kids are talented and will love it, some are not talented and will still love the challenge, some will hate it no matter what. Set out your expectations to the kid at first (ie we’re going to try this for a semester because you won’t know if you enjoy it after one lesson) find a teacher who loves to teach and makes the lessons fun (just because the person can play does not mean they can teach) most importantly if your kid says they want to quit figure out if it’s an issue you can fix (not the right instrument/instructor/expectations) but if it’s just that they aren’t interested in music or it’s not a fixable issue let them quit.

    9. Mephyle*

      I started piano lessons at about 7. It wasn’t always fun, (I had to be pushed to practice for a long time) but I am so glad I did it because knowing the formal systems and notation of music is like knowing another language, besides facilitating your entry into the world of music. It stays with you all your life and informs a lot of other things you learn.
      I’m glad I took piano, because unlike many other instruments, I learned from the start to read both clefs and to play and understand multiple notes at once. But if a child leans towards another instrument, they’ll of course be more motivated if they are learning the instrument they’re drawn to.
      I spent many years of my childhood and youth participating in choirs, and knowing piano helped with reading choral music (and vice versa).

      1. Mephyle*

        As AliceBC writes below:
        I did like playing but I did not like practicing when I was younger, and my mom had to make me do it in elementary school. So even if the child likes it you might still have to enforce practicing. When I got older practicing was part of my morning routine and it was easier.
        Me too. Exactly.
        You have to find the balance between not forcing them into something they totally hate, vs. not letting them choose the easy road of quitting and never exercising their ‘stick-to-it’ willpower muscles. Or only doing it as long as it’s a song-and-dance-and-ponies-and-rainbows show, but when it gets to technical exercises and pieces that don’t spark enthusiasm, they’re allowed to flag, because it’s not ‘fun’, so what child should be expected to stick with something that’s not fun?
        Studying music can be a good life lesson in sticking with something that is satisfying because of the skills and abilities learned, which can be practised with enjoyment, even when there is little joy in practicing. As with other arts, or with many sports.

    10. Sherm*

      My mom had pressured me to take lessons for some time. I resisted, but one day she played just a little ditty in front of me, and I was hooked! I suddenly wanted lessons. This was the end of first grade, and I continued with lessons — and practice, literal homework, tests, and recitals — all the way to the end of my senior year in high school.

      Now that I think about it, I wonder if my previous mindset was “Mom, if piano is so great, why aren’t YOU doing it?” Perhaps play the piano in front of them to whip up some enthusiasm, even just tinker with some scales if you don’t know how to play. I think it’s important not to force them. Maybe it’s not meant to be. Maybe they just need time. I am glad I took lessons in a pretty rigorous program. It has helped me for life. But I think things would have turned out very differently had my mom not waited and made me go.

    11. AliceBD*

      I did piano lessons from 1st grade through the first half of 12th grade. I played viola (mostly in school orchestra, but some lessons) from 8th grade through the first two years of college.

      I am so grateful to have had lessons! I wish I had had a different piano teacher after elementary school — my next door neighbor was a teacher and she was fine for me as a little kid (especially because I got to go there all by myself, which was very exciting at age 6) but I didn’t learn anything new all of middle school/maybe some of late elementary school. I thought I couldn’t change teachers because she was our neighbor, but my mom switched me to a much, much better teacher.

      I don’t play much now but it is very useful to have a good solid background in music. I can read music, I know things about music and can have an informed conversation on it, etc.

      I did like playing but I did not like practicing when I was younger, and my mom had to make me do it in elementary school. So even if the child likes it you might still have to enforce practicing. When I got older practicing was part of my morning routine and it was easier.

    12. Yetanotherjennifer*

      The piano was my first instrument and it’s the instrument I “think” in. If there’s a difficult phrasing in a piece I’m learning I’ll take it to the piano to get the notes and rhythm in my ear. If music lessons are going to be a given in your family, it’s a great way to get started and develop an ear for intonation. They’ll learn two popular keys and be able to easily move to another instrument later if they want. I took lessons for about 3 years and my mom had to nag me to practice every time. In 5th grade I switched to the clarinet and then in 7th I switched to the violin and have been playing that ever since. I’m glad for the grounding that piano lessons gave me but I’ve never been one to practice and rarely do even now. I play in a group and the music is challenging but easy enough that I don’t need to practice. My daughter took piano lessons for about a year and a half and she practiced pretty willingly, but it was getting to be more and more a struggle so I let her quit. Because of my years of being nagged, it was important to me that she want to spend her time on it. She plays the trombone now, loves it and manages her own practicing.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        I have a fairly good talent for sight reading the different instruments I’ve played over the years. I worked out as a kid that if I played the music badly the first time I was given a piece of music then played it much better the following lesson my teacher would think I had practiced hard. This is not something I would recommend though!

    13. Catarina*

      I took lessons with a horrible teacher in the local mall. He was an idiot who did things like make me stop and start over when I hit a wrong note. I cannot urge you enough to choose an actual, legitimate teacher who bases their program on music theory and learning, rather than on muscle memory. You’re not trying to train a monkey, you’re trying to teach a child.

      I shoould have been taught about major and minor keys, tonic chords, and the like. Instead I was being taught nonsense like “every other white note usually sounds good together”. I wanted to learn how to vamp and how to jump into a music circle, not how to mindlessly crank out the current pop hits.

    14. Wendy Darling*

      I took piano lessons for a few years as a kid (I think 8-10) and recently resumed doing it as an adult.

      I liked it okay as a kid but my teacher was… terrible, TBH. She didn’t teach me almost anything, she just gave me books and told me to read/play certain pages. If I wasn’t good enough after a week she just told me to keep practicing it but gave me basically no feedback.

      I did want to take piano lessons. I switched to a different instrument after 2-3 years, and another different instrument 2-3 years after that, and then stopped playing anything until recently. I kind of regret that my parents didn’t make me pick something and stick with it, because if I’d stuck with one instrument for 6-8 years I would have been really good, as opposed to being mediocre to lousy at three instruments. But HAVING SAID THAT I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it.

      I think if your kid has no interest or aptitude there’s no point in forcing them, but there is some value in trying to get them push through the boredom if they are interested but get bored for a bit.

    15. LibbyG*

      Thanks, everyone! It great to get this diversity of perspectives. My spouse and I are both musicians; I’m a total hobbyist but spouse has an academic degree in music and high semi-pro performing chops in multiple instruments. We’ve both had so much fun with music that we want to give our kids the same opportunity. We want to start on piano because of the foundational, how-music-works knowledge it provides.

      The points about the importance of the teacher and the comments from those who found piano lessons and practice just plain tedious help me think about how to be really attuned to how (and whether) to make learning piano a good thing.

      More comments? Please keep them coming!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Kids seem to follow their parents, let them see you playing/practicing.
        Ideally, play the instruments together and let them see you guys being silly with each other through music.

        I wanted to change instruments and my parents wouldn’t let me. If they want to change instruments please consider letting them. I probably would have stayed with it if I had been able to change.

        I did not have a positive music experience but I don’t regret it in the least. There have been so many times where I found myself in a setting with people talking about music. It was so nice to be able to follow along somewhat.

        I did read of a study that showed music lessons can help with brain development in a child. So there is that,too.

      2. Reba*

        What about Kindermusik or similar for the littler one?

        My first piano teacher made me cry (although I think it was more me than her) but some of the later ones are still in my life/friends of the family.

    16. Helen*

      My parents made me start them right after I turned 3 and continued to send me until I turned 18 and refused to keep going. I hated them and never wanted to go. My parents were both musicians who played in amateur orchestras and taught music so they insisted on me going. They had played their wholes lives and went to college for music so they thought it was the greatest thing ever. It is fine that they enjoyed it but I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I was forced to be in piano and violin lessons from the ages of 3 to 18. I had a lesson for each of them on a different day of the week. Four other days (two for piano and two for violin) I had to practice for an hour each evening. The other day I had to learn music theory and history. I hated every second of it but my parents never listened when I told them I wanted to stop. I also had to take music in all 4 years of high school and was forced to play the flute. I had no musical aptitude or ear for it at all. It’s like forcing a kid who is not athletic and hates sports to play football or another sport just because his or her parents were athletes. I hated them so much I cried. My parents insisted it would build character. They even insisted I go to college for music when it was the last thing I wanted. The only thing it did was make me leave home the day I turned 18. It took weekly therapy from the ages of 19 to 25 to resolve all the issues forced music lessons caused. I barely speak to my parents now, we speak 3 or 4 times a year at family events like weddings. I haven’t been home to see them for 15 years and our relationship is that of arms length acquaintances rather than parent and child. I strongly urge you against putting your children in any activity, music or otherwise, unless they express an interest first. Don’t put them in piano just because you enjoy music. It is great that you love music so much, but it is up to them to decide if they want to also. Let them decide for themselves.

    17. Porygon-Z*

      Not piano, but I joined my elementary school band on flute in 4th grade and over time, music morphed into a passion in my life. I learned several other instruments as time went on and I still play flute as a hobby. My mom’s side of the family is musically inclined and I’m glad I am as well.

      I’d say give it a shot for the 6 year old at least, and maybe the option of a different instrument if the option is out there and they are interested in a different one.

    18. Sarah M.*

      I honestly wouldn’t do it unless one of your children expressed interest. Just because you love music doesn’t mean you kids will. If you want to pass on your love of music you can show them how much you love it and see if they want to follow in your footsteps. But putting them in lessons for something just because you like it could lead to resentment on their part.

    19. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I actually studied organ rather than piano and loved it. The discipline and creativity I learned from music has helped me throughout my career in IT. Not surprisingly the most talented people I had the opportunity to work with likewise had a background in either music or art.

      Music also taught me responsibility. I became a church organist in my teens and that helped pay my way through college. In my opinion giving kids the opportunity to study music is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

      1. Mallows*

        I did this too (sort of) – played piano and organ, whichever was needed, at church from 9 yo forward. And then went to a conservatory to study pipe organ and left after freshman year, realizing there was no career to be had for atheist organists. Maybe it’s different now.

    20. another person*

      We started piano lessons when we were pretty little (I think maybe I was 8 and my sister was 6). I hated them but I’m also glad my mom made us take them. Like would hide in my room when it was time for lessons hated. The rule was that we had to take piano lessons until we could read music reliably, and once we knew how to read music, we could switch to another instrument, until we got to too busy (I stopped taking lessons in 8th grade–had switched to flute earlier and there were some decent gaps when teachers moved, etc–my sister stopped earlier when she got into competitive dance and got busy).

      I am really glad that I learned how to read music and it definitely made picking up other instruments a lot faster. I wish I stayed in piano a little longer though because while I can sight read things in treble clef pretty well, when you throw in chords (because flute plays only 1 note) pr bass clef I have to spend a lot more time to work through things. We’re a musical family, though.

    21. DanaScully*

      I didn’t take any musical instrument based instruction as a child, but I really wish I had. I would love to be able to play any type of instrument now. My mum often relays the time she asked me as a child if I wanted to learn to play an instrument, and I told her I’d like to learn to play the harp. I wasn’t a child who did things by half!

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I’m 35 and started taking piano lessons 8 months ago. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done as an adult and I feel like I’m learning SO MUCH about not just music but how I learn. If you want to do it you should go for it!

    22. Rookie Manager*

      I had piano lessons as a kid and believe it’s one of the best things my parents did for me. I love that (despite not being very good these days) I can sit down at my piano and play a tune, I can express emotion through music, read music, have fun. If I ever have kids I would definitely help them find their instrument.

      Music is also great for teaching maths concepts, language skills, team work, critical analysis, patience, empathy and much more.

    23. HannahS*

      I wanted to, I found it fun, and I’m glad I had them. However, my parent-who-was-in-charge-of-music-lessons had the attitude that if I REALLY wanted to learn, I’d motivate myself and practice without being told to. Basically, they left it completely in my care…when I was six. I might occasionally have messed around on the piano of my own volition, but discipline is a skill as much as piano-playing is a skill, and I needed more support from my parents than I got in that regard. So I’d say, treat as a fun, challenging game with lots of positive affirmation rather than a chore. Short practice sessions for little kids. Ask the teacher how long they suggest, what exercises they want your child to do, etc. If your child hates it and you’re having big blow-out fights about it (and you’re not having those issues with other things) then probably it’s not worth it.

    24. Elizabeth West*

      My mum played (really well, actually) and I took them as a child, but because of the dyscalculia, reading music was difficult past the basic stuff. I mostly played by ear. I have a little bit of dyspraxia too, and I never could really do it properly, so it was more frustrating than anything. We had to take piano class in music school (college) and no matter how much I practiced, I never could get it. I tried one more time as an adult before admitting defeat.

      I can sing, though! :)

      My advice would be to not force them to do it–if they want to, by all means go for it. If they’re interested in another instrument, go for that. But I think three is a bit young.

    25. Tau*

      I took piano lessons from age six and wanted to and was happy I did. I kept them up until I was… sixteen? but lost a lot of the joy due to a horrible teacher switch when I was eleven/twelve (new teacher had very firm opinions on how to play expressively; I was too wooden for her so she decided that I, with my six years at the piano, should start over from scratch with the easiest song so she could train me to play the way she wanted. :/)

      I honestly think that musical instruments are some of the things it’s a lot harder to learn when you’re an adult than when you’re a child. In addition to certain bits of mental flexibility (I have perfect pitch, and you basically have to have had early childhood musical training for that) you just don’t generally have the sort of free time as an adult, and often also not the tolerance for not being good at it for a while. So even though there were obviously bits in between where I was “eh” on practicing, and the last few years with the new piano teacher were a horror, I’m still super happy my parents gave me the opportunity. It means I have a skill now that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

      Also, piano has the great advantage that you sound reasonable from the start. I also learned violin from age nine, and string instruments are a serious trial – it takes you *years* to sound even halfway decent. I took lessons for almost a decade and played regularly for a decade beyond that and I can still sound terrible at times. I suspect a bunch of the brass and woodwind instruments are similar? Anyway, it’s really demotivating. (The upside of those instruments is that you can play in an orchestra, which piano won’t get you.)

    26. Nana*

      I’m going to suggest they try the recorder first. It’s easy (which is so satisfying for beginners) and any sound it makes is pleasant. There are different tones, so they could even do duets. Once they’re comfortable with one instrument, it’s easier to add/change to something more difficult.
      [I took piano from 4 – 7, but was frustrated that I couldn’t play as well as my mother…queen of instant gratification here!)

      1. LizB*

        “any sound it makes is pleasant” Ah, you were not within ten miles of my house when my brother was in fourth grade, I see. :-P (I do think the recorder is a pretty great starter instrument, but if you’re determined, you can make it make some horrific squeaking sounds.)

    27. LizB*

      I took little-kid music lessons from 2-5 years old (mainly just singing interactive songs and playing around with some basic percussion-y instruments) then immediately started piano, which I continued until… 11, I think? I think my parents would have let me stop earlier if I had asked. I liked music, but hated practicing, and I didn’t like that piano wasn’t intuitively easy for me. I did voice lessons for a few years in middle school and enjoyed those more because singing came much easier to me. I am definitely glad now that I learned so much about music as a kid, because now I sing in a community choir and being able to at-least-kind-of read music is super useful.

    28. Maya Elena*

      A recital or exam is key as a motivator, IMO.
      Also try to find someone who gives more depth than rote “memorize and punch out these keys” teaching.

      I had a year of theory and history with my teacher before starting actual piano lessons. I continued this theory portion for many years afterwards. It really deepened my musical knowledge.
      We learned rhythms, notes, key signatures, took dictations, learned about circle of fifths, major vs minor scales, chord nomenclature, ans all the major Western composers from Bach onwards thru about Prokofiev, ans their major works.
      This is over about 8 years.

      We drew to new music and watched relevant movies, e.g. Amadeus and Leonard Bernstein’s musical lectures (taped live).

      Also, buy an electric piano if you’re not sure they’ll stick to it. It will be a good flower pot stand ;)

    29. LilySparrow*

      I had lessons for several years in elementary school. I liked my teacher and loved recitals, but hated practicing.

      My teacher did not really instruct us on *how* to practice, how to approach a piece and learn it gradually. It was just, “Practice 30 minutes a day, here are your pieces.” That was very overwhelming to a first-grader, I never really knew what I was supposed to do with it. I’m not sure if that was just a weakness in her teaching, or if that was standard in the ’70s – ’80s.

      So I’d look for a teacher that gives short, very specific written tasks for practice time. I’ve seen some teachers work with colorful counters and other fun ways for kids to keep track of their exercises. That seems helpful!

      Also, my mom grew up poor and felt very deprived of the opportunity to learn, so anytime I dawdled over practicing it became a huge emotional blow-out full of guilt and tears.

      If you want your children to love music, don’t do that.

    30. JamieS*

      Have your children expressed an interest in playing the piano or learning to play music in general? If so, or if they haven’t expressed an opinion one way or another, I’d start off with lessons for a month or two (long enough for them to get a feel for how they like it) then sit down with them to discuss if they’d like to continue. If not, work with them to find activities they would enjoy. Personally I recommend starting with ones with low start up costs until you’ve narrowed down their interests.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is what I did for my daughter (at 7), coupled with my trying to figure out if she’d have the patience to sit through a lesson and the courtesy to listen to the teacher (not a given with this child!). We tried a few lessons over the summer and found that the teacher is a good fit for her. Since she said she enjoyed them and didn’t fight practicing too much, she started full time this fall. So far she’s done a practice recital and a more formal one and enjoyed the performing aspect, so we’ll see how far she wants to go with it. Son is 4 which I think is too young to start (for him). He likes sitting at the keyboard once in a while and soon we’ll probably teach him to peck out a simple song to gauge his interest.

        I started when I was 6 or 7 and played up until 11th grade. My teacher at the time basically told me I had progressed as far as I would without making a full time (college degree-level) commitment. I never did any graded competitions, but I did write several pieces over the years that I still play for fun. I also played flute for 6 years, and I’m glad I have that background in music.

    31. Mindy*

      I took piano lessons as a child for 8 years. I had no interest or aptitude. My older sister enjoyed them and did well and my mother always wanted to learn. It helped later with typing. That’s it. I wanted to take dance lessons but since my older sister didn’t like them my mother assumed I wouldn’t either. The moral of the story is, who wants the lessons?

  15. Anon Accountant*

    Omg, your cat looks exactly like mine and we have the same blanket. I had to do a double take there to figure out that that wasn’t a picture of my cat who was sitting on my lap in exactly that same pose :)

    1. Marthooh*

      I took a closer look at that photo and OMG that hot pink blanket is warming my haunches even as I type. Alison, how did you come by these strange powers of blanketry?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There is no hot pink blanket! I think you might be looking at the red pillow behind him? That said, I do consider myself a blanket wizard who finds the coziest blankets.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I can’t find this blanket online and I have no idea where my brother’s mum-in-law got them. Everyone got a blanket from them, all different. But mine is definitely the cutest. :3

        1. JamieS*

          Looks like a pink blanket. Although I would describe it as more of a tint between pink and purple. More mild pink.

  16. Veruca*

    My kids (11 and 8) were asked to stage our neighbor’s gender reveal for her first child. They have built a Rube-Goldberg machine that does a few things and ends with dropping a chemical into a flask that will create a waterfall of (pink or blue) foam. So proud of them! And.. hoping it works.

      1. Veruca*

        It was today. Much chaos and it didn’t go quite as planned, but it was a ton of fun to be involved. This was a first child for the couple and they would have been thrilled either way. It was mainly an excuse to have some BBQ and get together and celebrate the new addition! PS: It was a girl!

    1. Triplestep*

      That sounds great! “Gender Reveals” were not a thing when I was having kids, so besides the cake color (which I’ve seen on TV) I don’t know about other ways they’re done. Seems like this idea might take off!

      1. NJ Anon*

        My son had a football with pink powder in it. His SO hiked it to him and he kicked it. Pink powder everywhete! (Outside, of course). It was great!

      2. Pollygrammer*

        I find gender reveal parties problematic. Someone sent me a YouTube video of a dad with several daughters learning via-balloon or something he’s “finally” having a boy. His thrilled disbelief is supposed to be funny or uplifting or something. But all I could think of was–his daughters are ~right there~ and he’s making it super obvious he would have preferred them to be boys, and that this is the kid he really wants. I can’t imagine a little girl not internalizing that. Ick.

        1. Helen*

          +1. I have seen this exact same thing play out on both sides of my family (although in all 3 cases the genders were reversed and the reveal was for a girl). I completely agree with you.

          1. Eva*

            I doubt the dynamic for boys seeing it vs. girls would be the same though. It wouldn’t be harmful to them and they would not internalize it like girls would. So while you might have seen it play out I doubt it is the same thing for boys as it would be for girls.

            1. JamieS*

              Don’t you think it’s incredibly sexist to say boys wouldn’t care about being told their parents preferred girls but girls would care?

            2. Observer*

              Don’t kid yourself.

              NO child – NONE boy or girl – should have to see their parent(s) making it clear that they are not good enough by virtue of who they are. NO child can help but be hurt by this.

              The idea that boys somehow aren’t hurt by their parents’ attitudes is utterly toxic.

            3. paul*

              Are you seriously arguing that it wouldn’t hurt a kid to know they weren’t wanted/what their parents would prefer?

          2. Temperance*

            Society doesn’t tell boys that they’re worth less than girls, though, and I think that’s a key difference.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              Little kids don’t know what society thinks as keenly as they know whether they have their parents’ approval.

              1. Temperance*

                While I don’t think that kids get the whole “sexism is a societal institution” thing, kids realize at a very young age that boys are treated different than girls and that adult men have more opportunities than adult women. For instance, when I was 6, I saw a poster of all presidents and demanded to know why no “girls” were on there.

                In a world where I knew that I can’t do as much as a boy, it hurt even more when my family was prizing a boy over me. I don’t think my experience was that much of an outlier.

              2. Nichelle*

                My aunt and uncle wanted a daughter. Both sets of my grandparents wanted a granddaughter. Yes, society does damage to girls because there is a (general) preference for sons but my older cousin was well aware they wanted a girl and longed for a girl. Even as a kid I could see the difference in how I was treated vs. him. My cousin knew I was favoured in my family because I was a girl. Anyone could have seen it. It did lots of damage to him to know he wasn’t what his parents and some family members wanted.

            2. Observer*

              So? How does that make it better for a boy?

              If a kid is aware of this, it could make it worse, if it has any effect. ie Everyone says that boys are better, but my parents don’t want boys! It must be ME! Something is wrong with ME and that’s why my parents don’t want boys.

              1. Temperance*

                FWIW, that’s entirely possible, but I was sort of approaching it from the “girls are already told over and over that they aren’t as good as boys, and when their own family lets them know that they aren’t as good as boys, it hurts them even further”.

                I don’t think gender preferences should ever be expressed to kids, and I’m not suggesting that boys get everything easier.

        2. Temperance*

          I guarantee those girls internalized it. My sister and I were young when our brother was born, and my father’s elation and all the comments about how someone would “finally” carry on the family name stayed with us.

          1. Oldestof4*

            This, 100%. The extended family named the boy “The King” and would rush into the house, calling for The King. Greeting any of the girls was an afterthought. We all still remember it, and how much it hurt. And replacing “King” with “Pain in the Ass” was *not* allowed!

        3. Triplestep*

          Oh, yuck. As I mentioned, gender reveals were not a thing when I was having kids – I just assumed that everyone cheers and is always happy just to have more info about the soon-to-be new member of the family.

        4. Gaia*

          I find them problematic because you cannot possibly know the gender of the child in question. You may know what their sexual organs will be. You may know what their chromosomes are. You cannot know how they will identify. It is weird and uncomfortable. It also, as you point out, tends to make it clear that some parents prefer one sex over another for their child which is…I don’t know…I mean I’d be pretty sad to find out my mother wished I had been born male. Almost like I wasn’t good enough? And it would be kind of messed up to wish my nephew had been born female. Like he wasn’t what we all wanted?

          1. SS Express*

            Thank you! The name “gender reveal” bothers me even more than the existence of gender reveals. Finding out the sex of an unborn baby is exciting to me – when you’re so eager to meet them and you know absolutely nothing else about what they’ll be like, it’s really nice to find out the one piece of information you can and start thinking of the baby as more of a real person and less of an “it”. I think this would be the same regardless of what random piece of biological information we could access. Finding out that your mystery future kid is actually a mystery future REDHEAD kid would be exciting too.

            But there is currently no way to test a baby’s *gender* and certainly no way to know that the baby will subscribe to every gender stereotype imaginable. The ways that people ignore both of those facts to frame these reveals as “a princess or a pirate”, “ballet shoes or soccer boots”, “a bun is in the oven – will it be a sweet little cupcake or a handsome stud muffin” (I am not making these up btw) turn my stomach. The Rube-Goldberg idea is much less gross!

        5. Student*

          My father was like that. Didn’t need gender reveal parties (didn’t exist at the time) for him to spend a good part of his life reminding me I’m not the son he wanted.

          Parents – never even joke about this in front of your kids, and do your best to keep it internal if that’s how you feel. It’s painful to experience.

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        I’ve seen expecting parents do balloons in a giant present box – they untie the box, lift off the top and let the balloons fly out. I’ve also seen people do a simple envelope.

  17. DanaScully*

    I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who responded to my skin condition post last week.

    I went to see a nurse who confirmed that it is Pompholyx/Dyshidrotic Eczema. She prescribed a moisturiser but I think I need something stronger so I’ve booked an appointment to see my GP.

    At the moment the blisters have gone down but the skin on my fingers has thickened and become really coarse. Thankfully it’s not as itchy and I’ve been avoiding soaps/perfumes as much as possible.

    Thanks again for all of your responses, and I hope you all have a great weekend.

      1. DanaScully*

        Thank you, Bluebell. The nurse said it’s more than likely caused by stress and that it will probably rear its head again during future stressful episodes-eek!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Mine is definitely exacerbated by stress. But good thick moisturizers and the prescription ointment really help, at least until I can get the stress under control.

        2. All Hail Queen Sally*

          I am amazed at all the different ways our bodies react to stress. Too bad stress can’t be outlawed.

  18. Call me St. Vincent*

    So interesting thing that has come up. We have a shared driveway with our wonderful neighbors. Seriously, they are wonderful neighbors. They snowplow the entire driveway, including the part that is solely ours, and refuse any compensation or gifts and are generally giving and thoughtful people. They are probably 10 years ahead of us in years and in terms of career growth. They have recently put an addition on their house and redid their kitchen. We did work on our house before we moved in because it was in fixer upper state, but since we put a lot of money into the house, there have been other extremely expensive things that have come up. We had to replace our entire HVAC, for instance, which we weren’t expecting and we found out our basement had mold in it, so we had to remediate that. That was all stuff that wasn’t picked up on our inspection, but turned up after we had invested in cosmetic changes in the house (that we might have waited to do if we had known about the real issues–first time home buyers will not make that mistake again). So here’s the rub…

    My wonderful neighbors want to repave our shared driveway. They have mentioned it like three times in a “we should be saving up because we need to replace the driveway” and they have alluded to us doing it this Spring. I don’t really have any expertise in it and neither does my husband, but neither of us really feel like the driveway is in disrepair. I mean there is definitely wear and tear, but I guess I am jaded because my parents driveway is a mess and hasn’t been redone in 20 years and it’s never been that big of a problem and our driveway is in way, way better shape than theirs. My neighbor does have a sportscar, so I don’t know if that plays into it. We have a pothole we filled with sand for now until it can be patched and one that has been patched already. We are not opposed to redoing the driveway, but we know it’s going to be big bucks to do it, even splitting it by square footage. If it isn’t an emergency, we’d rather hang on to that money because we have expectations of things that need to be fixed in our house on a more emergent basis (we need a new front door because our doorjamb is broken and our storm door is totally busted–we are dealing with a 20 year old roof that could die at any point).

    Is there something I’m not seeing about the driveway that could be making a driveway that looks okay need to be replaced? We certainly want to make our neighbors happy and do anything that really should be done for the sake of the properties. Also, has anyone handled a situation like this before? What is the best way to deal with this when we want to keep our great relationship with these neighbors? We definitely feel like it’s better to have neighbors that want to take care of our properties than the other way around!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Are they improver types who can’t just let something be? I’m reminded of friends of ours who did up their house and, as soon as it was finished, sold it and moved. They’re always either improving or upgrading things. Me, I’ll decorate once then sit back and enjoy it.

      I think it would be fine to say you’re not able to pay for the driveway. I wouldn’t get into discussing reasons.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        I actually have wondered about that myself. I think for them, it’s probably one of the last things they need to do for their house/property to be “done” as they have done everything else over the past few years. Whereas for us, we still have some ways to go and there are other things that seem to be more of a priority at this point.

      2. All Hail Queen Sally*

        I have two friends who are constantly repairing/ replacing/ updating things around their houses. Every time I talk to each one, they’re telling me what new things they are doing. It’s like a hobby to them.,

    2. fposte*

      Have you gotten actual quotes? Start with that. When you say “pave,” do you mean asphalt or, as is common in my area and costs more, concrete?

      I think my call would depend to some extent on the exact numbers, but wonderful neighbors who have already saved you a ton of trouble and money are worth trying to please, and I might prioritize that over the door. (I also would want to repave at that level of potholes, I think.)

      But I also think it’s worth opening up a conversation. “We think you guys are great and we want you to have the driveway that pleases you, but we might need some time to save up for our portion since we didn’t have that expense budgeted. Could we talk about getting quotes this year and then looking at timeline for later this year or early next year?”

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        We haven’t gotten the quotes yet, but my father got a quote for his driveway, which I’d say is comparable to our portion of the shared driveway (considering half of the part we use together and our sole section) over the summer and it was $8,000. It’s possible it could be lower given that it’s a larger job overall, so maybe there would be a discount. I am pretty sure its asphalt that is common here rather than concrete.

        I definitely agree that it would be nice to have a new driveway given we are getting the potholes, for us it’s more–can we put this off while we do the more pressing things? The answer for us is yes, but everyone’s comfort level is different and we knew that there would be compromises with buying a property with a shared driveway. And as you mention, we do love our neighbors and we are very grateful for all they do for us! We will definitely talk to them more about it as we get more towards Spring I’m sure.

        1. fposte*

          They may not realize that this would work on you guys the way it would, too, so opening up that fact with them would be useful. But, as you’ve doubtless found inside your house, shared space involves compromises. Probably you will have to get this done before it’s what you consider an emergency if you want a good relationship with your neighbors; probably they will have to get this done later than they could if they want a good relationship with you.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Is it possible you could sealcoat instead? We have asphalt driveways and our HOA sealcoats them every other year to help maintain them. Could help and put off a whole repaving.

          1. Call me St. Vincent*

            My neighbor has said he doesn’t believe in seal coating. I honestly don’t know much about it, but we got a quote for that from a guy we asked to fix the pothole in our section. We had spoken to the neighbors about it then and they were basically saying no don’t do it, we should just get the driveway repaved.

              1. Call me St. Vincent*

                Yeah we called him to fix the pothole, but he was trying to sell us on seal coating as well since I think that is his main business.

        3. Rocketship*

          I think it would be totally fine to just be honest with them – especially if you already have a good relationship with them. You could just ask them the next time it comes up, “Hey, what’s your sense of urgency on this? We want to do our part, of course, but we’ve had some big expenses lately and if there’s any way it could be pushed back a bit that would be a huge help to us.”

          If they do feel it needs to get done right away, perhaps you could work out a sort of (for lack of a better phrase) payment plan? Like, if they’re able to bear the cost up front, you can commit to paying them back $X over Y time, or do X amount of work on shared areas in trade, or something along those lines. Put it in writing so everyone’s clear on expectations, and as a sign of good faith that you will keep your word, etc. They sound like really reasonable people, I’m sure they’d be willing to help come up with a plan that isn’t a financial hardship for you. Let us know how it goes!

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m your neighbors in this situation. My side of the driveway has more/deeper potholes and due to bad grading water pools against the foundation. Are there more than cosmetic issues at play?

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Honestly, there could be! The only times we have been on their side of the driveway, it has been night time so I haven’t really taken a close look. That’s a good thought.

    4. Hildegard Vonbingen*

      Why not be honest and tell them you don’t have the cash to do it right now and can’t afford to take on any more debt? That’s pretty clear, and hard to argue with. Perhaps they’d be willing to wait. But, bottom line, if you don’t have the bucks and can’t take on more debt, then that’s pretty much it for now.

      I’d approach this in a friendly way – you like each other, they’re helpful, and they sound like reasonable people. Also, get an idea of how much it’s going to cost so you know what you’re looking at – at some point you’ll want to do it. The question will be when. And keep in mind that there’s more than one way to re-do a driveway, from straight concrete to more decorative – and expensive – materials. So, ask.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Funny you should mention this.
      I share a driveway with 2 other households.
      One neighbor goes above and beyond. The other neighbor in the other house ignores it entirely.

      Here’s the problem with the pot hole.
      Both me and my plowing neighbor have broken our machines on these holes. You can’t see them with snow on the ground and sometimes it’s really hard to estimate where they would be with a few inches of snow on the ground. Depending on the type of break, sometimes we are not able to finish plowing. Other times the repair is just plain spendy.
      One part of the driveway has broken the auger on my tractor so bad that I needed a new auger. The auger was $800 plus shipping and handling and tax. So it was just under a grand to get this thing and I still have to pay someone to install it.

      I think 8 grand is relatively cheap to have a driveway done. If your share is 4k, you probably would have spent that paying someone to plow for you these years. (A cheap price around here is about $50 per storm, this adds up fast and people leave it if it is 3 inches or less. ) Additionally, snow equipment is going up and up. The prices are ridiculous. From your neighbors perspective they may not see a choice it’s either spend 4 k on the drive way or spend several k on a new piece of equipment because the driveway ate the equipment. They are going to be out the money anyway. You may want to check to see if this is their concern right here.

      Like you I have had extensive work done here and mold remediation etc. Houses are such a money suck. This is the nature of things. It’s just plain tough. There is really no good time to redo the driveway. We fix ten things on our houses and then ten more things pop up, the driveway repair gets put off and put off.

      Since neighbors like this are a once in a life time thing, I would like to encourage you to find a path to some type of agreement. Just on the basis of how wonderful they have been.

      1) Consider options. I know they have machines now that will come and tear up your black top and turn it into something pourable. Then the machine pours your black top back down but – tada! — it is now smooth. This may be cheaper to do this than to do brand new.
      Pricing on black top is tied oil prices. If there is a jump in oil you can plan on this price here jumping. So your savings here would be not paying for more black top.

      2) If you think you’d be in a better spot next year, let them know that and ask if you could pay for some patching work to help you guys get through this season. Then make a solid plan to do this in 2019.

      Your story resonates so much with me. My plowing neighbors are 20 years older than me. Like you are saying, they shouldered it, never asked for anything, etc. We bought a tractor when we moved in so that we could take our turn. My husband was great about getting out there, but me, not so much. After he passed, I kept working at getting used to the tractor and so on. Now my dear neighbors are 80.( Those years FLEW. They were 50 years old yesterday… )And now I am the one who does the driveway. I am saying this so you know my advice comes from a good place in my heart. Find a way to keep involved in the driveway maintenance, this includes planning how to pay for that maintenance. One day I woke up and my dear neighbors had aged. The husband is now terminal and the wife will not stay once he passes. I am very grateful that I did do some things so I am more familiar with what it takes to take care of that driveway.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Your story is so sweet. Thank you for sharing it! That definitely makes sense regarding the equipment! Just one point of clarification, I think it would be $8,000 for our share, rather than the whole thing. I’m sure the whole thing would be over $15,000. It’s quite a long ways up and around unfortunately. The advice still holds though and we will take it to heart.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, wow, that is a big driveway. I can definitely see that that’s not an easy amount to casually commit to.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            That is probably what mine would run. I have 250 feet plus side areas where people can park. Part of the reason why the idea of recycling the black top that was already there intrigued me was because I really hope we can get a substantial reduction.
            With the progression of my neighbor’s illness, I do not expect them to help with the costs at all now. So am waiting for the million dollar lottery ticket.
            I found tubes of stuff at a tag sale. I dug out the grass and filled in a couple cracks. At I don’t have to mow there anymore.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          All the pro-repaving comments are pretty amazing to me. If I had a driveway that WORKED (i.e. one could drive a car up it and park on it) and wasn’t a gigantic eyesore, and my neighbors wanted to get it repaved and have me pay for half of it I would find this totally crazy. I definitely acknowledge the value of good relationship with neighbors but 8k is a huge amount of money for something that’s not a need based priority but more cosmetic. I’m not sure the snow blowing factors into it either – people around where I don’t commonly hire others to do driveways unless they are physically unable, everyone does theirs themselves pretty much. So an economic argument based on money saved by your neighbors snow blowing also seems strange to me.
          If you’re willing/desirous to do it in a couple years but can’t afford it this year, it seems totally appropriate to me to just tell them that straightforwardly with less hedging than others have suggested above.

    6. Safetykats*

      Maybe have a professional fine look at the driveway and get your own estimate, along with an assessment of condition. The driveway isn’t just the pavement, it’s also the bedding – so letting potholes go for too long can greatly increase the cost of repaving because water intrusion into the bedding could result in the need to rework big areas of that. Whereas having it done earlier may mean that you the bedding only needs to be rerolled, rather than replaced.

      Unfortunately shared driveways, fences, or what have you so mean that you have to cooperate with your neighbors and sometimes work to their schedules. You might be able to compromise on schedule, but it’s probably not okay to just say that you can’t contribute. Also, as another commenter pointed out, it’s problematic for your neighbors to keep plowing your part of the driveway if you have unrepaired or poorly repaired potholes, as that can damage their equipment. So if you don’t want to get your section repaved or properly repaired, I would at least be prepared to have them stop clearing your snow.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks. I definitely appreciate the insight on the bedding issue. As I mentioned, I am not savvy about the nature of these things and the technical reasons for doing the repaving sooner. That is very helpful information. I’m sure we will get an estimate in the Spring. I just want to clarify that we would never not contribute to the repaving! I hope that isn’t what I implied in my original post. We intend to pay our fair share, I really just wanted advice on dealing with the situation in that (1) I didn’t know if it actually could be urgent without us understanding and (2) if it isn’t, how to delicately handle a situation with neighbors we love and appreciate. No intent was ever there to let them shoulder the entire burden–that isn’t the type of people we are! Also, we have offered to pay for plowing more times than we can count, but my neighbor won’t have it. We also have tried getting out early to shovel before he can come out and he literally comes out and yells at us to stop because he wants to do it. We have tried to give them money, they literally refuse it and turn away. So I really don’t want to give the impression we are somehow taking advantage of their kindness, as I am afraid you might have that view based on your response.

    7. MissDissplaced*

      They might just mean it needs to be sealcoated, which is a maintenance thing, and should be done every few years. If the driveway is in good repair, this shouldn’t be too costly.

    8. blackcat*

      I have a shared driveway and a lovely neighbor. There wasn’t a dispute when the driveway needed to be done–it was in iffy shape before the snow of 2015 (in Boston), and 2015 did it in. It was super hard to clear the mountains of snow, and the asphalt just crumbled after so many freeze/thaw cycles. It was also not that expensive compared to what you are talking about.

      Because the driveway is legally my neighbors (it’s an easement), we didn’t technically have to pay anything, but made it clear we would. Neighbor is lovely but very particular, and so she was extremely particular about who she wanted to hire (she’s a serious gardener and didn’t want damage to her property). She got several quotes, and felt best about the company that was the most expensive. She asked us to pay 50% of the mid-priced option. She recognized that, if left to our own devices, my husband and I would have chosen the cheaper option, and that she was picking something that was way more (like $2k more) because she’s fussy about these things. That seemed fair, and there were no hurt feelings.

      I recommend figuring out what you think needs to be done/are willing to do and how much that would cost, and offer to contribute your share of that to the project. They can do whatever they want above and beyond if that’s what they want.

  19. Kali*

    I’m going to see the Terry Pratchett exhibit in Salisbury museum on Monday! Unfortunately, that means I have to spend six hours on a bus tomorrow….

    1. Caro in the UK*

      I am also going to see the Terry Pratchett exhibit in Salisbury on Monday! :) I suddenly realised that it closes in a week and the guy I’m dating is a HUGE Pratchett fan too, so we’re going!

      1. Bibliovore*

        I am so, so, so, so envious. I do want to brag that I did have the opportunity to spend time with Terry Pratchett at a publisher’s event years ago and it was one of the highlights of my career. He was charming and kind, just as I imagined.

          1. Free Meerkats*

            I was lucky enough to run into him in a bar at Worldcon in Melbourne in 1999 in the wee hours. I managed to not fanboi out and we had a beer together and chatted about touristing in Australia.

            The total highlight of my life – so far.

    2. IT Squirrel*

      I did not even realise this was on, I might have to try and make it next week – it’s only an hour or so from me. Although it sounds like Monday is the day for AAM readers!

    3. Anonymouse for this*

      Am travelling to UK next week – and was planning to spend my Fri layover in London wandering about Hyde Park and Oxford St – am now searching for trains to Salisbury!

      1. Anonymouse for this*

        Oh bother – RMT is calling strike action on 12 Jan so restricted train service to Salisbury. Here’s hoping the strike gets called off.

        1. Kali*

          Never have I been to an exhibit with more tears. I think the secret feegles must have been chopping onions.

          I’m planning to put some pictures on imgur later, so I’ll share the link here and in next week’s post.

          You could look at national express or Megabus to Southampton and then train to Salisbury, but you might not have time with a layover.

          I also got to see one of the original magna cartas! The cathedral is right next door to the museum.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I enjoyed the exhibition when I went, it looks like it’s just got busier and busier since then, and was incredibly busy at the weekend. I think they have already extended it once.

      anonymouse, you might be able to get a National Express coach – they seem to run about every half hour from Waterloo and take 1.30 -2 hours.
      I don’t know where is Salisbury they stop, but it is a small, walkable city and the museum is right by the cathedral so easy to find.

    1. fposte*

      Finished how? That will matter. You’re always going to want to sand some to give the new paint layer something to stick to, but if they’re finished with something oil-based you’ll need to take more drastic measures.

      Probably they’re just sprayed with polysomething–if so, sand with fine grade, wipe them down and allow them to dry, and paint with the basic house paint of your choice, preferably one you can get in volume below a quart. If by “paint” you mean “stain,” that’s another matter, and the choices get more complicated and outside of my practice, so I’ll let somebody else weigh in.

    2. Bex*

      Do you want them to be a darker color of wood? If so, you’ll need to sand everything really well in order to take off the current finish. Then you’ll need to stain the wood. And after that dries, you need to varnish it. Honestly, its probably at least a 2 day job and it’ll be really tough around the joins in the wood. Getting those parts sanded down is tricky, but if you don’t get all of the old finish off then the new stain can’t soak in and you’ll end up with light patches.

    3. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Do you want paint, or stain? What’s on it right now is stain. Paint is a LOT easier than to restain it. For stain, what Bex said. I don’t recommend it, a ton of work and a much higher chance it won’t turn out well.

      To paint, you’ll need to get some sandpaper and sand the wood. Goal is to get it the current finish pretty roughed up so paint can stick well. Then get some primer and apply that. The primer will help bridge the wood/stain and the paint and make it last better. Your paint should probably be either high gloss or enamel finish, because that’s what will hold up best. Recommend you go to a paint store (not big box store, you need someone who knows paint) and talk to them. A knowledgeable person can help you select appropriate primer and paint. I like Sherwin Williams, but there’s others. Make sure you check online for coupons too.

      I prefer to brush vs. spray paint. But for spray paint, you’ll still need both components.

  20. WellRed*

    I turned on my Samsung Galxay 7 while it was charging and now it’s stuck on one screen, sort of mid warm up. I can’t restart it. Suggestions?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I don’t know about Galaxy phones but with iPhones you can plug into a computer and do a repair thing – maybe see if there’s something similar?

    2. Caligirl*

      According to my tech husband, push the power button and volume down button and hold them down for up to 45 seconds. That should force a restart. What does the screen look like?

      1. WellRed*

        Your husband is my hero! The tech support at Sprint had me holding volume up + power + home (which is physically very difficult) and it didn’t do a thing. You have saved me a Saturday trip to the mall.

      2. Hildegard Vonbingen*

        Yup, restart usually works for me, too. This reminds me of the British TV show, The IT Crowd.

        “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Amazing how often that’s actually good advice. Too bad it doesn’t work on co-workers.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          That is the standard advice in my household. Any technical problem is met with a bland “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Mr Darling and I are both very tech-savvy but we STILL say it to each other. I say it to coworkers. I say it to my mom. It works most of the time!

    3. matcha123*

      I’ve had something similar happen with my s6. I hard pressed and held the power button to turn it off then restarted it after 30 seconds or so.

  21. Brand New Day*

    Can I ask what you all think about warning tags on the Internet? I follow the blog of one of my favorite writers, who loves exploring nature and taking pictures of animals. One of her recent posts featured the photo of a moth. She got a comment from a reader asking her to specifically tag moth photos because that reader has a phobia of moths.

    I understand warnings for the obvious upsetting things: bullying, abuse, gore, sex, death, eating disorders, suicide, things like that. Personally, I can look at photos of gross and gory make up from horror movies all day long, but the second I know a wound is real, it turns my stomach and I can’t look at it, so I understand having an aversion that you don’t want to see. But it’s also the Internet, and it’s impossible to tag for everything that might upset someone. I post a lot of photos of my dogs, but to someone who was attacked by a dog and now has an understandable trauma about canines, my photos would be upsetting. On the other hand, it’s the Internet and there are a ton of puppy photos out there, so I can’t imagine tagging every single one.

    I do try to accommodate when possible because I want to make people comfortable. I planned a trip to a movie recently, one that I knew had a graphic sex scene in it. I warned my asexual friend, who has a strong aversion to seeing that stuff, about it; she was grateful for the warning and went to see a different movie at the same time so we could all go to dinner afterwards. But she also would not have thrown a fit in the theater if she saw it by mistake; she just would have closed her eyes until it was done.

    What do you all think of having to tag every little thing that might upset someone?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I think for me it divides into ‘thing a lot of people might find traumatic or upsetting’ and ‘very individual issue’.

      Moths are in the latter group.

      1. DanaScully*

        I agree. I’ve mentioned before that I have quite an intense phobia of spiders.
        I often unwittingly come across photos of spiders on Facebook that people have found in their homes. Whilst that greatly upsets me, I can’t expect people to know that, or to not post them. I hide the photo and move on.

        On the other hand, earlier today I came across a graphic photo on Facebook of an injured child in a war zone. This photo was in the middle of an album and there was no content warning in the text above the album. In this case I feel that there definitely should have been a tag or warning.

      2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Agreed. I can’t take the preferences and phobias of the entire Internet into account every time I post anything. I’ll warn for generally upsetting content like gruesome violence or very explicit sex, but I’m not going to warn for individual issue-type things.

      3. Sylvan*

        I agree. I used to be firmly in the “warn for everything!!” camp, but I don’t think it’s possible to warn for every existing issue, or to manage others’ reactions that much. Now I try to be considerate about the content that I post or bring up in person, give people a heads-up if I know they want one, and otherwise trust them to take care of themselves.

    2. Bu*

      I think it’s reasonable for someone to ask if tagging a certain thing that is an issue for them would be possible. Maybe it is, maybe the blogger doesn’t want to, or can’t guarantee they’ll remember or whatever so they say no. But there’s no harm in asking, where I’m concerned, and if the blogger says yes, the reader gets to read and the blogger keeps a reader. If they say no, the reader can make an informed decision on whether to keep reading.

      Of course you can’t tag for everything that someone might be upset or triggered by. But when it’s a specific request like that, I don’t see any harm in asking. I have a couple of followers who’ve asked me to tag certain things on Tumblr, and I’m happy to oblige.

      1. Brand New Day*

        Except she’s a popular writer with a lot of readers (like thousands; she’s a fairly famous writer and equally popular blogger) and has gotten requests like this before. Her response to the moth-reader was a very polite ‘I try to tag things that are upsetting, and I’ll do my best to remember your request, but in actuality I can’t remember every tag that upsets my audience’.

        Like I said, I know to avoid the topic of sex around my asexual friend. But that’s one friend with a very specific request. If in my group of friends, Sarah needs to avoid sex, Sam is afraid of food with eyes, Bob is afraid of driving at night, Matt is allergic to cats, Georgia is a vegan and against meat in all forms, that’s a lot to remember for people who I really care about, much less dozens of requests from nameless and faceless Internet readers.

        Even those Halloween/horror make up blogs I follow only tag for extreme stuff like excessive gore. They’re straight up scary stuff and they can’t tag for everything that might scare someone who comes across their sites.

        And yes, no harm in asking but I can’t imagine being that writer who receives so many different requests like that. But it’s similar to how I feel about people who attack those who are supporting diversity, just not in the specific way they want. This same author featured a genderfluid character, who changed their dress, mannerisms, and pronouns on a daily basis. Many of her reads praised her for this character, but there was a group who said ‘Yeah, you’ve done this genderfluid character, but you haven’t done a gender neutral character. When are you going to get around to that? What do you have against gender neutrality that you haven’t written it yet?’

        You can’t please everyone all the time, especially on the Net, and I don’t understand why those who try but can’t cover every single instance because that’s downright impossible get attacked for it.

        1. fposte*

          But it doesn’t sound like the moth reader threw a fit–she just asked. Would I have asked? Probably not. But we’re in a transitional place with tags and warnings and there’s no clear agreement on whether there are absolute requirements and what they are. I don’t think it’s unacceptable to ask, and I don’t think it’s unacceptable to say no.

          I think there’s another issue you’re discussing that overlaps on this but isn’t entirely the same, which is to what extent we can expect an individual piece of media to serve all our wishes and requirements. And I agree with you there that it’s always easier to tell other people what they should include than to create your own stuff, when creating your own stuff is the best response.

        2. teclatrans*

          Just briefly, she is one of my most favorite writers too and has amazing book readings and even her other-name stuff is great, and I am happy to meet a fellow fan. The end.

    3. Turtlewings*

      I don’t think one reader asking one blogger they follow to tag for moths is any kind of society-wide commentary, honestly. I’m assuming the reader was polite about it. I’m sure they realize full well that their phobia is unusual, moths are not obviously upsetting like gore, suicide, etc. so if they need that content tagged, they’re gonna have to ask for it. They’re not ranting about “why doesn’t everyone I follow tag their darn moths,” they’re asking one particular blog they follow, who seems likely to have more moths at some point if they post a lot of nature, to provide her with warning so she can avoid something she finds upsetting. The blogger would be within her rights to say “I’m sorry, realistically I don’t think I’ll remember to do that” or some polite version of “No, I really can’t be bothered.” But I don’t think it’s rude to ask, it’s not like tagging is a difficult thing to do.

      You have an asexual friend who would have been upset by the sex scene, so you warned about the sex scene. If you had a friend who got migraines whenever she was around perfume, you would surely refrain from wearing perfume around her. The sight of a moth upsets this reader and causes her pain. She’s not asking the blogger not to post moths, nor would she have any right to, as it’s not her blog. She’s just asking for a tag, so she can continue to follow the blog but avoid the pain of the moth.

      I feel like it’s just courtesy? If you know you’re going to be “in the room” with someone who’s terrified of moths, warn them about the moth, or at least let them know they can’t count on you warning them about the moth. Of course you can’t anticipate all the things someone might need tags/warnings for, and I don’t think anyone’s expecting you to, except maybe the obvious ones you listed. But there’s really no reason not to tag for something if someone has politely asked you to.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, but imagine trying to do that for 100,000 followers.

        Since insects of all kinds are a common phobia, if it were me, I’d probably just tag it “INSECT PICS,” especially if I often posted photos of butterflies, moths, mantises, or other crawlies.

      2. fposte*

        I think there are plenty of reasons not to tag for someone, though. I don’t think they’re wrong for asking, but I completely understand saying no.

      3. TL -*

        Tagging and remembering to tag what and where and why can be a lot of work. I think most places have generally warned/noted things that are usually graphic beyond the normal content – a theater that only plays horror wouldn’t warn for It but a theater that plays mostly children’s movie probably would.
        But tagging is like accommodating diets – the larger the crowd, the bigger the effort and often the least payoff for the person doing the work. I’m very invested in my best friend enjoying food I prepare. I’m much less invested in guest #59 out of 200 enjoying it.

      4. Safetykats*

        I think we generally try to remember and account for our friends’ preferences or issues. Although when we don’t, our friends are mostly quite polite about it. My husband sent some lovely trout he smoked himself to his family at Christmas. Although it turns out his sister doesn’t like smoked fish (which he knew but I did not) she thanked us and told us how much everyone else enjoyed it. Next time I will try to remember to send something specifically for her – but she didn’t ask us to do that.

        The thing that gets me about people asking for specific changes or accommodations on authors’ or artists’ blogs or FB pages is that they aren’t friends, and might not even be customers. So it seems less like hoping your sister-in-law remembers that you don’t like smoked trout, and more like walking into a restaurant and asking them to keep the smoked trout away from your table. It’s nice that the author responded so politely, but I think she’s not got any obligation to go out of her way to cater to one fan, unless for some reason that specific fan is pretty important to her.

      5. Wendy Darling*

        I think all any of us can do is try, but people also have to be realistic about people’s ability to comply. If you’re a blogger with many thousands of followers and you post something including a photo of a moth maybe once every 18 months, your ability to remember to tag photos of moths because one person asked is gonna be spotty — it just doesn’t come up that much.

        I’m really lucky that my phobia does not come up a lot — I am terrified and disgusted by broken bones or teeth, and damage being done to bones/teeth in general. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to avoid those things (except when some jerk leaves your TV on the local access channel owned by a university that inexplicably shows videos of surgeries all day — why does that channel exist and what kind of maniac just leaves the TV turned to it and then turns it off???), but I pretty much consider it my problem to deal with them as best I can. I suppose I’d probably feel differently if I had a phobia to something common, or if my phobia was more severe. The one time it REALLY impacted my life was when I was doing research moderation and a woman with super messed up teeth came in. Because of the context of what I was doing I basically had to watch her talk for an hour, and I was kind of a wreck afterwards — this was how my work team found out I had a broken-teeth phobia.

    4. neverjaunty*

      I think when you phrase the question that way, you’ve kinda already decided on the answer?

      1. Brand New Day*

        Yeah, fair point! I really do want to accommodate people, I’m a people pleaser at heart, but I guess my frustration comes from seeing requests for this stuff all the time. If I avoided everything that I’d ever seen people only ask to be not talked about or at the very least tagged, I’d have nothing to talk about. So to see someone on the blog of a writer who is well known for her photos of nature and animals ask to tag a very specific thing that one would expect to see into those nature/animal photos, frustrates me. Feels like asking a dessert blog to tag all chocolate items because you’re allergic to chocolate.

        Sorry, didn’t mean to bring my frustration to the forefront, guess my thoughts got away from me.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Do you see it all the time though? Really?

          I ask because I spend a lot of time online and I don’t see this all the time. It’s possibly talked about more than it actually happens.

          1. neverjaunty*

            I think it’s that typical exaggeration people do when they feel strongly about something. It’s emotionally simpler, for some reason, to complain about something happening everywhere all the time instead of saying “I find this very offensive and have a lot of feelings about it.”

            1. Fiennes*

              I run a Tumblr with many, many followers, and you can in fact get a ton of these. And while I did my best to oblige in the beginning, once you have upwards of 15-20 tag requests for stuff that isn’t generally considered upsetting — you do have to let some thing slide.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Sure, there’s nothing wrong with declining those requests. But “I see it everywhere these days” != “I get a lot of these for my site”.

          2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            I think it depends on where on the Internet you frequent, too. I see a lot of this on Tumblr and in a Facebook group I follow that tags incredibly weird things, less of it on the rest of Facebook and on Twitter.

    5. Temperance*

      I actually don’t support tagging everything that might upset someone, but I think major triggers (rape, suicide, death, violence, etc.) should be tagged.

    6. Earthwalker*

      Maybe I’m old school but it seems to me that you shouldn’t have to protect everyone from seeing everything that might bother them. Spiders are my phobia and I hate seeing them even online. (The other day I had to touch the black widow photo to scroll it off my view – eeuw!) But since no one can protect me from actual spiders it hardly seems worthwhile to demand that the whole world go out of its way to protect me from virtual ones. Certain content is inappropriate for children and should not be easily available to them, and hate-focused content that might incite others to hate-focused action should not be online, and so on, but when it gets to the “I know this is interesting to others but I really really don’t like that” content, I think the viewer should be responsible for navigating away and shaking it off.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Consider that many people don’t want to needlessly upset others, and would prefer to spend a few seconds letting folks know about content that has a good chance of being upsetting?

      2. Pollygrammer*

        Looking at pictures of nature and getting upset because you’re seeing something that exists in nature is absurd.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Why? There are some pretty terrible and sometimes upsetting things in nature. Someone who enjoys beautiful sunset or pictures of tiger cubs isn’t being hypocritical for not wanting to watch videos of a predator tearing apart a shrieking rabbit.

          I guess I’m just not following the sentiment that a polite request – as opposed to an outraged demand – is some sort of morally reprehensible showing that people nowadays lack internal fortitude.

          1. paul*

            Morally reprehensible is a strong way to phrase the sentiment I’m seeing expressed here–I’m seeing a lot more that’s basically the equivalent of a mental eye roll than outrage.

    7. Triplestep*

      Your example of warning a friend about something you knew would upset her (graphic sex scene) doesn’t really apply to your question. There’s no way a blogger, author, etc, is going to be able to account for things that upset an audience they do not know personally.

      This morning I came across a Facebook page of a someone in city politics that was full of useful information. I thought I would “join” or “follow” or whatever, but then found photos she posted after she’d fallen during a run – torn pants and scraped up, bloodied elbow. My first thought was “this doesn’t belong on a politician’s page!” (I also don’t like seeing photos of wounds) and then I realized, this was her *personal* FB page. There does not seem to be one just for her political role. Oh well. I guess I will miss out on all that useful information she posts because I don’t care to see wound photos mixed in. It would never occur to me to ask her not to post them!

    8. fposte*

      Subsequent thoughts: I’ve worked in book reviewing for a long time, and variants of this question have been around for print stuff in decades. What’s changing to some extent is that the requests are more public than they used to be for print (even then, we knew that journals that printed letters got a lot more of such requests than those that didn’t), and that the democratization of production means that more people are producing stuff and therefore getting such requests, even if they don’t identify as professionals or content creators and are sometimes startled to essentially be asked to change what they do in their diaries.

    9. Book Lover*

      Oh, we follow the same person! Yes, I noticed that, and the reasonable response that the more she has to tag for, the less likely she is going to be able to do it.

    10. Not That Jane*

      Agree with others who say there are highly individual phobias that you just can’t always predict in advance or warn someone about! For instance, I have a friend who has an intense, panicky fear of cats. Obviously, knowing that, I won’t be sending her a cute cat video online… but for folks who don’t know that about her, or for random Internet strangers posting pictures, it’s not realistic for them to provide that content warning given that cats are not terrifying to most people.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Man, the internet must be HARD if you’re afraid of cats. The internet is like 40% porn, 40% cats, and 20% everything else.

    11. New Bee*

      I agree with what other people have said about intense content vs. someone’s specific fear, and I think a descriptive title can usually cover the bases. So for example, if the post is called “A Walk in the Woods,” then I don’t get people complaining about pictures of squirrels. But if it’s called “What I Did Today” and there are pictures of roadkill, I can see why people would complain. (Sometimes having pictures not show until the click-through/after an intro paragraph can also help.)

    12. LilySparrow*

      I think specialized tags like that are relational. If the requester is a longtime, highly engaged participant who the blogger recognizes as a positive contributor to the community, maybe it’s worth catering to her a bit. But I still wouldn’t consider it obligatory, by any means.
      An unusual request like that out of the blue from a “drive by” commenter? Nah.

    13. paul*

      I mean, if you have a phobia of a common animal and you’re following a blog that’s got a lot of photos of animals…I feel like that’s just kind of a chance you’re taking?

      I feel like a blog is also different than a personal relationship; I can’t take anything that might offend or scare any random person, but if I know my friend Joe has a strong aversion to X, and that X is present in a book or movie we’re seeing with a group, sure I’d give them a heads up. Because that’s me helping a specific person avoid a specific thing, not me trying to warn anyone and everyone about anything that someone out there might have problems with.

  22. New Bee*

    Spurred by road trip questions my husband and I found last week: how have your experiences shaped your thoughts on age in relation to life milestones?

    The question from the list said, “What’s the right age to get married?” We got married in our mid-twenties, which is considered “young” by lots of folks we encounter where we live now (Bay Area). But I grew up in the Midwest and went to religious schools (including university), so “young married” to me is 18-22. Same with kids–my mom had me mid-twenties, while my husband’s mom had 2 kids in her mid-40s, so our perceptions of family relationships (nephews, grandparents, etc.) started out completely different. (His mom is only 4 years younger than my grandmother, and some of his older nephews were more like brothers.)

    Also, I have several former high school students with kids around my kid’s age (3 within ~3 months), and it was interesting to see the lifting of the teen pregnancy taboo once they graduated–all of them had kids at 19 or 20, which felt incredibly young to me (I had my first at 27.)

    1. Kj*

      My parents were married at 22, I got married at 29. I was “young” to get married for my liberal city, but back home in the conservative south, I was an old maid at 29. In fact, my aunt assumed my husband had been married before, as someone of my advanced years (28 when we announced the engagement) could not have possibly gotten a man who had never been married! That was 3 years ago too.

      I think generational norms have changed. On one side of the family, I’m the second youngest cousin, but the only one to be married. On the other side of the family, I’m in the middle of the cousins, age-wise, and only my oldest cousin and me are married.

    2. Puertorriqueña*

      I’ve thought about this somewhat a lot. I’ve ultimately decided that there isn’t such a thing as a “right” age to get married, or have kids, and I don’t like when people judge others for waiting or not waiting to do those things. All that matters are your life goals, and you do your best to have the milestones happen in accordance with your goals. Much easier said than done, of course. I know that there are statistics that suggest marriages happening before ~25 are more likely to end in divorce, but it’s not like being older automatically guarantees a good marriage.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        My general observation is that early marriages tend to be more common when people settle into their adult roles at a young age, and more problematic otherwise. So my cousins, who live in small towns and start working right after high school, or at most a one or two year technical program, tended to marry in their early 20s at the latest, often to someone they’ve been dating for a while, and settle in the area. So by their mi-20’s they’ve been married a few years, and are established financially, have loads of family support around, and quite ready for kids.

        On the other hand, I’ve seen friends marry young, then head off to university, living in a radically different environment than they grew up in, meeting a wide variety of new people and experiences, and had the marriage collapse because during that process, they turned into very different people, in part because of their new experiences. And if you’re doing a degree, followed by grad school or internships, by your mid-20s, you’re still broke, either still in school or just starting to earn money and are living far away from family, and possibly in a long distance relationship, having kids is likely to be put off five or ten years until it’s practical and doesn’t mean abandoning your career.

        For kids, I think it comes down to whether someone has the emotional and mental maturity to raise them, and the financial/life resources to afford them. I don’t think sixteen year olds in general have that. Some people do in their early twenties, some people never do.

      2. SeekingBetter*

        I completely agree. There really is no “right” age to get married and/or have kids. Since I’m a single 35-year-old female not in any LTRs at the moment, I get judged all of the time by people. I hate that. I work, help out friends and family, volunteer for good causes, and take care of myself and don’t abuse drugs and alcohol and I know people are thinking “well, there’s something wrong because she isn’t married yet.” No, it’s because any LTR I had in the past didn’t form into marriage or anything like that. And just because a couple is married doesn’t mean their relationship is healthy or good. I see too many people in bad marriages.

        1. Almost Violet Miller*

          As a recently single woman in her late 20s, I absolutely agree with you. It’s just too often assumed that being in a relationship equals being happy and fulfilled.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          You can come hang out in my social circle, where getting married before your late 20s is, like, scandalously young. We’re mostly current or former academics so most of my friends were in school or doing postdocs or trying to wrangle a career change into their late 20s or early 30s.

          I’m 35 and in a LTR but not married and no one bats an eyelash.

    3. matcha123*

      My main age-related milestone was graduating university, which I always pictured as doing by 21. I was a 5th year senior and graduated at 22.
      When I was a kid, I thought if I were to have kids, I’d want to have them at a younger age, say around 25. But as I got older, I thought that 25 was too young to throw my life away.
      I also grew up in the midwest, but in a university town and people didn’t really push marriage and kids by a certain age as a life path. For other things like marriage or buying a house, they never really entered my mind as something I needed to do and I never had pressure to do them.

        1. matcha123*

          When you spend your childhood taking care of your family financially and sacrificing free time to work, having a kid before 25 (or in general) really equates to throwing one’s life away :x

    4. Temperance*

      I’m from a low-income, rural area, and now live in the suburb of a major city. My childhood friends all have multiple kids, including teenagers, and we’re all around 35. My friends now might have one kid. My childhood friends are either divorced and remarried or never married, whereas my current friends are either newly married or never married.

      Booth and I are the outliers. We dated for a long time and cohabitated before getting married. We’ve been married for 4 years and we are 34.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I went to university late and got married in my 30s because of some life shit. So I can’t really relate to this idea of when you’re supposed to do something. Life happens however it happens.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I’m with you. There is no right time. And the expectation of by the time I am thirty this will happen is a resentment waiting to happen.

        I didn’t find my profession until I was 32 with many, many, many false starts. I didn’t reach my stride until around 39.

        1. fposte*

          I was really fortunate that my parents were late bloomers on every level, so I didn’t have that early self-knowledge model to push against.

        2. Relosa*

          I needed to see that, thank you. I’m 30 with a crap job in my main field with a ton of sputters the past few years professionally. I’m finally figuring out what I actually want to be doing and I know it will take awhile to get there.

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        Agree. I think you get married when you find someone you want to get married to and the thought of your future together doesn’t foresee only divorce. (I was 38.)

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        It’s definitely true that life happens when it happens and that setting goals of when something is “supposed” to happen doesn’t help anything.

        However! This is something I struggle with immensely. I turned 30 a few months ago. I do want to be married and have kids and my own family. I really, really wanted to be married and have started having kids by now. I originally wanted to do this by my late twenties, but at the time I realized that that wasn’t where my life was and was okay with pushing the timeline a few years later. And clearly now I’m looking at an even later timeline because I’m not in a serious relationship and don’t even want to be right now (I had a really difficult 2016-2017 and am just recently back on track with actually feeling like myself). One of the especially frustrating things about this to me is that I feel like I’m not allowed to be disappointed about not being further along in my life goals, because being 30 is “so young,” everyone is getting married late and having kids later, it’s normal to marry late, we should have knowledge that everything happens when it happens and not to rush things, and so forth. I feel like the culture has changed so much that I’m not allowed to have these feelings and not allowed to wish I were married. This may be specific to my social/cultural group (college & grad school educated, big Northeastern city, lots of people working in tech, etc.) but it’s definitely the way the culture feels to me. my parents got married really late in life, 39 and 44, and had me that year, which was incredibly unusual for the time. I know that it worked out great in their case and that tons of people marry and have kids late and it works out great, but having seen it with my parents, I just never wanted that for myself – I always wanted to be much closer in age to my own kids and get to enjoy feeling more in step with other parents, with having young children, have more of my life ahead of me, more time with my kids as adults, all of that. It makes me worried and sad to think that this might not be possible and also I feel bad like I can’t talk about it with anybody because they will think I’m crazy for worrying, tell me I’m so young and have plenty of time, should be focused on my career, be independent and not even want to get married. I AM focused on my career and very independent but I also want to have a family.

        1. fposte*

          That’s a really good point. I think one problem is that people really don’t want to fall into the kneejerk “Oh, you poor single person” old cliché either, but I think it makes it hard to leave space for people just to say “I thought my life would be different, and I’m afraid I won’t get the things that it seemed reasonable to expect I would” when it comes to relationships. That’s a statement we mostly allow when it comes to midlife crises and therapy, but it doesn’t get a lot of room elsewhere.

          So I’m sorry your track isn’t where you’d like, I hope you find more people willing to hear you, and I hope your track takes you to a satisfying destination eventually.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            Thank you fposte! Yes, I definitely think part of it is that people are conscious of and don’t want to play into the “poor single person” trope. I definitely don’t want to play into that either – there are lots of things I love and appreciate about being single (and I’ve been in a few serious relationships so I have something to contrast with and feel I can make a conscious choice about it) and I’ve always been totally at ease being the single person among many partnered friends. I think that encouragements to appreciate being single and de-emphasize the importance of partnership are often coming from a good place, but can almost tip over into stigmatizing in the opposite direction.

        2. matcha123*

          For someone like me, who is only a little older than you are, I have a hard time understanding WHY you would have such a strong desire to get married and have kids. You said you want your own family, but aren’t your parents (and any other family members) YOUR family?
          When I was in university and getting down because I’d never dated, I realized that it wasn’t that I couldn’t get a boyfriend, it was that I actively excluding men who would have dated me, but I felt no connection with. If your goal is merely to get married and have kids, it’s easy enough to go out (or online) and fine some random dude who you may or may not have a connection with, get married and have kids.
          However, that won’t guarantee your happiness. People in the past got married earlier because their life choices were severely limited. It may seem scary to have so many more choices, but it seems better than the alternative of rushing into marriage and having kids due to some arbitrary number.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            This is such a weird comment to me! I posted expressing some frustration I’ve been feeling, that it seems to me that people aren’t willing to hear or take seriously someone my age express a wish to get married and have children, and you literally replied to me “Why would you want to get married and have kids?”

            Just to respond anyway, I’m incredibly close to my parents, my best friend and her husband & extended family are like family to me, I have a half-brother and SIL I’m close to and of course they’re my family. I don’t get why that has any bearing on having children – are you not allowed to want to have children if you already have other relatives?! For what it’s worth, I’m an only child and I think that contributes to my wanting to have husband/kids – to have more people I’m related to to be close with and share my life with. And more generally, you wrote “You said you want your own family, but aren’t your parents (and any other family members) YOUR family?” I’m lucky to be close to my parents, but there are many people who either don’t have family they’re close to, or have had a difficult relationship with their parents/other relatives and that is part of a motivation to marry/have children in order to have a positive experience of having a family. I think this is very natural.
            I don’t see “openness to different choices in life” and “rushing into marriage” as binary options. I’m not frustrated that I can’t find some random guy off the street who wants to settle down, I want to find someone I’ll be happy with. (And not settle down :)

        3. New Bee*

          Thanks for sharing this. I have a few friends (and my sister, at one point), in the same boat and it always sucks to hear, “You shouldn’t care!” when your honest response is, “Well, I do!” And you don’t need a “good” reason to want things when you want them–marriage is a valid life goal* and creating a timeline for yourself makes sense the same way lots of people have a timeline for graduating college based on what they want out of life.

          *I notice this is where my fellow WOC and my White female friends differ, in terms of our perspective on traditional female roles and self-empowerment, and I wonder if that’s reflected here.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            Your asterisked comment is really interesting to me – I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on potential differing perspectives on female roles and self-empowerment, if you happen to see this comment.

            1. New Bee*

              I hope you come back! A good example would be some White feminists’ response to Michelle Obama calling herself “Mom-in-Chief.” Historically Black women have had to take care of White people’s kids, so it’s radical and powerful for MO to explicitly say her most important job is her girls. But viewed through the middle-class White lens of 50’s nostalgia, some people called her statement disempowering.

              Similarly, some WOC see shared surnames/taking their husband’s name as subverting the stereotypes of us having lots of kids with different daddies, yada yada, and it spurs a sense of pride in creating a family unit. So it’s frustrating to hear “every woman who takes her husband’s last name is blinded by the patriarchy” (also bound up in this is the legacy of slavery and families having their master’s name, being separated and sold, etc.)

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                Thanks for sharing! I have heard similar ideas before, I thought this might be what you were alluding to.

        4. Snargulfuss*

          I very much identify with this Elizabeth. I feel like being single in your thirties can be very much like being a mom to young children, i.e. you can do no right, and everyone has advice for you. If you’re happy being single you’re too independent, too into your career, not attractive to men. If you express the desire to get married and have kids you’re warned against being too desperate. If you’re trying to find a long term relationship you’re advised that it will happen when you least expect it, but if you stay home too many Friday nights in a row you need to put yourself out there more. The list of contradicting advice and judgments goes on and on!

          Like you, I would love to find a good man that I love and want to spend my life with. I’m also worried about fertility or feeling like I’d have to start trying to get pregnant as soon as I got married (even though I’d rather wait for a year to enjoy being a married couple….but fertility). I hate being judged about why I’m still single and I hate people telling me how easy my life is because I don’t have kids or how sad it is because I don’t have a husband/kids. I try not to talk about my marital status at all because I’m always going to say the “wrong” thing (according to someone else).

          Anyway, no answers, but all of that rambling is to say I get it.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            It is so nice to hear that someone else relates to what I wrote! I could not agree more, there are so many ways you’re supposed to think or feel especially “it’ll happen when you least expect it.” You definitely took the words right out of my mouth in terms of worrying about fertility and pressures of the hypothetical decision to try to have kids right away or not. I really want (wanted?? Who knows?!?) to be able to take a while to enjoy being married without having kids first and regardless of the fact that it’s scientifically possible to have kids later and later, and that it’s quite possible to have kids at a more advanced age even without scientific intervention, I feel like the margin is shrinking.

    6. Enough*

      My family was all over the place. I believe the right age is what works for you; same as when to have children. My parents and in laws were a little older than normal for their generation. In laws were post WW2 and my parents were post college with my mom 4 years older than my dad. Hubby and I were 29 and 28 and had known each other for 8 years but never a couple til we got engaged. Sister #1 was more the norm, married at 22, husband 23, met at college. Sister #2 was 19 the first time and 27 the second, both husbands were about a decade older. Brother #1 married at 23 to very pregnant girlfriend. Brother#2 was 24 and wife 2 1/2 yrs older.

    7. Earthwalker*

      The right age to get married should be when two people understand more about how to build a solid marriage and bring up healthy children than they know about how to throw a wedding. IMHO our US divorce rate is high because so many people marrying haven’t thought much about their marriage beyond sinless sex and a princess wedding. A few very young people are really mature but many need more time to consider what marriage and parenthood are about – the joys and the challenges – before they consider the wedding.

      1. Enough*

        My youngest (22) commented yesterday that she didn’t get all these people she knew getting engaged after 3 months of dating.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Can’t have kids for health reasons. Good to know this means I shouldn’t have bothered getting married…

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          In the 21st century there are still ignoramuses who define marriage as worthless until/unless it brings BABIES?! People can be amazingly uninformed, tactless, self-righteous, and narrow-minded. As if the happy co-existence of Spouses A and B (or Domestic Partners A and B) isn’t enough in itself?! Whether by choice or chance, living child-free does not negate one’s status as a full-fledged person.

          Grrr. At least these folks identify themselves so you know whom to avoid in future.

        2. Sylvan*

          Probably won’t be marrying a man, definitely won’t be having kids. I thought marriage was about commitment to the person you love.

        3. Former Employee*

          I didn’t see where anyone said you shouldn’t get married if you aren’t going to have kids.

          However, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that the other party will be likely to stick around, married or not, if you (as in one, not you, personally) decide to have kids.

          Myself, been married – no kids.

        4. Earthwalker*

          I didn’t mean to suggest that. I’m also married and have no kids and no plans. I’m still a little shocked at people who think that you mustn’t get married unless you plan on kids.

        5. Jean (just Jean)*

          I was responding to RF’s comment which I assumed was sarcasm directed at anyone who thinks marriage = meaningless w/out progeny. In other words I was _strongly_ agreeing with RF that marriage is not just for folks who want to be, and then become, parents.
          Next time around I will try to use positive language to defend my position, rather than use negative language to disparage a different viewpoint. I regret that I leaped straight from disagreement into disrespect.

          Earthwalker, please accept my apologies for being rude.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Reading comprehension fail–I didn’t see Earthwalker’s Jan. 7, 1:36 pm comment until after posting mine of Jan. 7, 1102 pm.

            I’ll see myself out…

      3. Fake old Converse shoes*

        This. A childhood friend got married after a year of relationship with her long distance boyfriend. We all thought it was too strange and too rushed.

      4. New Bee*

        Cant tell if the responses are supposed to be snarky, but I didn’t read Earthwalker’s post as saying marriage = children. If it needs to be said, my general disclaimer on this post is that it did invite people to share their personal experiences, and doing so doesn’t imply judgment of people who do differently. Be cool, ya’ll.

      5. Bibliovore*

        two people understand more about how to build a solid marriage and

        Perhaps you misspoke. Understanding how to build a solid marriage from my point of view took about 10 to 15 years. Are there resources that you could point those thinking about that step?

        bring up healthy children than they know about how to throw a wedding. – perhaps this is sarcasm or hyperbole. Were you suggesting that people who cannot or don’t want to have children should not get married?

        1. Earthwalker*

          Certainly not, and thank you for pointing out my lack of clarity. I’m married and don’t plan on kids. I only meant that if one does plan to be a parent, one should have some idea what that entails. I’ve met teens who had babies because babies are so cute but who had not yet matured enough to be even somewhat responsible for those young lives. I know people who had lovely weddings and divorced within a couple months. No sarcasm intended in pointing out that a lot of girls know more about perfect weddings than they do about maintaining a good marriage. Not that any of us knows all about what we’re getting into when we marry (or have kids, I’m sure), but our culture puts more focus on the milestone than the journey, to the detriment of many young people.

    8. AnotherAlison*

      I got married at 19, and my husband was 22. We had a baby before we got married. This was obviously young (20 yrs ago) but not for my family or his. My cousins all got married in their early 20s, so it didn’t seem too weird. Some of my friends got married right out of college and had kids soon after. Other friends got married in their 30s and had kids a couple years ago.

      For us, the young marriage worked. We were immature but we stuck together while we grew up. I graduated college when I was 21, bought a house at 22, finished my masters at 25, and had our second kid at 26. We hit all the milestones early. It is weird, but I am looking forward to being an empty nester in my late 40s and having plenty of money to do what we want. : )

      1. Reba*

        Recently I heard therapist/author Esther Perel describe two relationship models as Cornerstone and Capstone. Cornerstone you get the relationship set and then build your life on, while capstone you add to the top when you’ve got all your life stuff figured out. She said that she is seeing capstone as the favored style for people these days. I admire some of the “cornerstones” I know (though for others it hasn’t worked out). My spouse and I married at 27/29, we got together at 20/22 and I think we have some of both impulses.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          What do you call it when the cornerstone is rotten?

          I was engaged in my early 20s. He was abusive and I thank my lucky stars we didn’t get married.

    9. WillyNilly*

      I got married at 36, first kids born at 38. I was a bit on the old side I guess, under ideal conditions I think I would have preferred moving things 5 years younger… but that would have landed me with the guy I was dating 5 years before my husband. I firmly believe I would be divorced in that scenario. My timeline was contingent on finding the right mate not being the right age.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      There is no “right” age to get married.
      It’s unfortunate that this question still gets bandied about. Buried in this question is the concept that “if we do everything perfectly then we will have perfect lives.” No one can do everything perfectly and no one has a perfect life.

      Some day I hope our society will go to the point where this question does not get asked. If two people of any (legal) age are committing to each other (of their own free will), the response should be that of joy. They have a life mate.

      1. New Bee*

        Actually, I disagree. It doesnt necessarily need to be shared publicly, but interrogating our personal archetypes can be an important part of understanding the decisions we make. In certain circles I notice it’s taboo to talk about (and oft-implied that “enlightened” folk don’t care about such things), but we’re only human, and social conditioning is a hell of a thing.

      2. TL -*

        I actually think that the age you get married can greatly affect the life that you have – so in that case, there can be a “right” age to get married and thus talking about when people get married and why that age and how their lives turned out can be really important (beyond just addressing the social conditioning, there’s a legitimacy to the underlying context of the question.)

        For instance, my best friend wanted stability and a family and 2.4 kids and a picket fence. She got married 8 months after we graduated college and has a family w/kiddos and a house and a husband who makes her feel stable and secure.
        I wanted very, very different things, including the ability to pack up my life and move wherever I wanted whenever I wanted and to focus on my career without sacrifice. That combination doesn’t go so well with healthy marriages and so I am single.

        The right age for her was 23. The right age for me is “not yet.” What’s the “right” age to get married? Depends on what you want out of life.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I can whole-heartedly agree with the idea that the ideal time to marry is not matched to age but rather matched to many other variables in this thing called life.

    11. Rookie Manager*

      I was all set to get engaged as soon as I graduated uni, I expected to have a marriage, house and baby by 25. Then I was involved in a horrific RTA before finishing my degree. The associated stress meant I split up with the boyfriend of 4+ years and I had no degree no house, no relationship, no life plan.

      I had to re-evaluate everything as I healed and rebuilt my life. I got a different degree, different relationship, bought a house in an area I’d never considered and witnessed some peers enter abusive marriages. That made me recitant to get married or commit so fully to someone. I’ve been with my incredibly patient partner for a decade and only now are we ready to start thinking about the marriage and potential kids. If neither happens though it will be ok as I am loved and secure. I would not have thought that age 22.

    12. Grace Carrow*

      The question assumes that everyone will have always had the option of marriage. I met my spouse when I was 23. It took 20 years for the law to catch up, and we were finally married on our 20th anniversary. We bought a house together when I was 26, and at the time that was the most that we could do to say that we were committed to a life together.

    13. paul*

      I got married while going to school in the Bible Belt; wife and I were both 21 (this was…uh, 12 years ago this year I think?). We weren’t abnormally young or abnormally old; seemed like a lot of people got married throughout maybe the 20-25, 26ish range? I have seen friends get married for the first time at…I think the oldest I can remember was in her mid 30s at the age of her first marriage.

      Going back on my family, my folks got married pretty young, my mom’s folks did too. Dad’s folks got married late, after his dad got back from WWII. IDK the exact ages though, I think 30ish? Which for the 40s in a small town was probably late. My wife’s parents were each other’s second marriage, back in Ohio 35 or so years ago–her mom is 70 something and her dad is late 60s. I know nothing about their first marriages, dates etc.

      Age of first kids have been all over the map–it isn’t like I’m going to ask details about our friends sex lives so I can’t say if that’s deliberate, problems conceiving, decisions not to have kids at all, etc. We’ve got friends (well, my wife’s closer with them but I used to work with the husband) that’re 30 odd without kids *shrugs*. Have friends that had their first within 18 months of the wedding when they were very early 20s too.

    14. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot! I’m 22, in my last year at a liberal college. While I have no intention of getting married for a while, I have been in a relationship for a long time that I feel really good about, and honestly I would love for us to marry eventually. I don’t know anyone else who feels the same way– I have a cousin who got married at 18 and has two kids, but most people in my circle don’t even want to be in a relationship, let alone thinking about marriage.

      As other commenters have suggested, I think it really depends on how ready you feel to tie your life to another person, and how confident you feel in your own life. In my situation, I love my person a lot, but I don’t feel ready to tie together our living situation, finances, families, etc. I like that I can kind of waffle and make mistakes and figure myself out without worrying about how it’s going to affect someone else practically. But I also don’t think I want to wait until my thirties to tie the knot. But also…who knows what’s going to happen (??) (Seriously, who knows? Please email me if you know).

    15. ANon*

      Very late to the game here, but this is such an apt question!

      Fiance and I recently got engaged – we’re both mid-20s. Honestly, I think your perspective on the “right” time to get married is so, so heavily dependent on your geographical location. Fiance was ready to get engaged when we were in our early 20s. Fiance is also from the Midwest, where people marry earlier. His friends from high school started getting engaged/married right after graduating college (20 – 22), and by now some even have kids. I’m from east coast and not a single one of my high school friends is married. HS friends and I are nowhere near wanting kids.

      Sometimes when I think about it, being married by my mid 20s still feels very young to me. To him, it feels fine. Just a difference on perspective and based on what we grew up with.

      1. New Bee*

        I’m also from the Midwest, and I agree. Even things like how long an engagement should be very wildly. (I know several people with multi-year engagements where I live now and that wouldn’t be considered “engaged” back home.)

  23. Caring for a friend*

    I have a friend whose partner is suddenly very sick in the hospital. I wanted to drop off some food/a care package but it has to be something that doesn’t need to be refrigerated as it’s unlikely we can actually meet. She’s not into sweet things so cookies are out. Any ideas?

    1. Caro in the UK*

      Cheese, crackers and chutneys or pickles? Like a cheeseboard that she can nibble on without having to make a meal?

    2. Temperance*

      I was super sick in 2016, and friends of mine dropped off random food on our porch for Booth. It was super cold out, so no issues with temperature control.

      I think the absolute BEST thing you can do is drop off toilet paper, a roll or 2 of paper towels, and some nice snacks like crackers and cereal.

      1. Emalia*

        Can you get a cooler? When someone in my parents’ community is sick, they put together a calendar of who is responsible for leaving food in the cooler on the porch.

        When my dad was sick, I met people on the porch who were dropping off food. While I was happy to see them in other contexts, this particular type of interaction of receiving food was incredibly difficult. I was a teenager at the time and frequently took offense to the things people said to try to convey encouragement. I think it’s great your are trying to problem solve meeting your friend’s needs and not expecting her to be at home.

    3. Kathenus*

      I’ve had great success with giving nature sound/white noise machines to people in the hospital. I’ve done it with several friends and all remarked how much nicer it made their stay to mask some of the hospital sounds.

    4. Kuododi*

      I would probably also go with some kind of cheese/meat tray. I’d probably pass on any kind of nut combination unless I was dead sure my friend had no allergies.

    5. Laura*

      What about some kind of savory pastry? They can usually withstand being at room temperature for a long time. Something like spanakopita or empanadas. I’d steer clear of meat because of potential spoilage issues, but there are lots of veggie savory pastries. Frittata could also withstand a good amount of time at room temperature. Tomatoes are acidic enough that they actually keep food from spoiling when left at room temp for a long time, so something like lasagna or a tomato-based pasta bake should be okay at room temp for far longer than you’d normally keep it there.

      Also, bread and most fruit would be perfectly fine without refrigeration (I store both on the counter anyway). You could give a nice jam and some peanut butter with the bread so she can make herself pbj sandwiches to bring to the hospital.

  24. Puertorriqueña*

    Hey guys, I’m a long-time reader but have never commented. Love this community.

    I recently met someone who is absolutely wonderful; he treats me wonderfully, constantly compliments me, makes me laugh a lot; he’s so great! When we first kissed, it was quite a turn-off to be honest; he kind of kisses like a cat lapping up milk, with the tongue going in and out for brief intervals. I’ve read various advice websites, some saying to tell him, not tell him, lead him, and I’m not sure what’s really the best advice. Some people have said that they just walk away if the kiss is bad, but I really don’t want to do that. Thanks guys!

    1. Triplestep*

      This was me, 18 years ago when I first started kissing the guy I’m now happily married to :-) (And cat lapping milk is a good description.) I did kind of what neverjaunty is suggesting – I didn’t frame it as “you’re a bad kisser” but “looks like we like different things”. In the middle of kissing, I said “we need to come to a consensus about kissing”. Yes, I really said it that way! But he’s a nice, nerdy guy so it was appropriate – your mileage may vary. At any rate, it worked and the issue has never some up again. Good luck!

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      I agree with everyone else. I would frame it as, I would really love if we could try kissing like [insert what you want to happen here]. Or let me show you how I like to kiss and do to him what you want. I think I said that to my husband when we first started dating. He didn’t really open his mouth enough, if that makes sense, but the problem was quickly corrected!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      All this advice is excellent. And being able to discuss what you like re physical affection is a really good skill. First, because what you do with one person doesn’t necessarily translate to the next person–a previous lover may have liked or even taught them cat-lap kisses (or at least, not objected to them). We tend to do what we’re used to doing.

      Second, because gauging their ability to talk about cringey or sensitive stuff in a tactful and constructive way will help you figure out if you’re compatible. Better to see if they can handle feedback or deal with touchy subjects at all now, when it’s just kissing, rather than later when the stakes are higher.

    4. Arjay*

      I think walking away if the kiss is bad mostly applies if the other stuff isn’t spectacular either. I had a first kiss with a guy who just went round and round like he was Roto-Rooter, and it wasn’t worth it to try to train him when we didn’t really have anything special between us. For the right person? Yeah, show them what you prefer and practice, practice, practice!

  25. Fertility Poster*

    I posted a while back about my struggles to get pregnant. I went to the fertility doctor, a month of testing later, I have been diagnosed with PCOS. I’m kind of surprised by this- I don’t have any of the secondary symptoms that people picture when they think “PCOS” but I have two of the needed three primary symptoms.

    Does anyone else here have PCOS and have any advice? I am leery of books about PCOS because they tend to presume you need to diet. I don’t and I have had an eating disorder, so I stay away from any and all dieting books. My doc put me on metformin to “improve my egg quality.” I am healthy other than my PCOS. My husband is supportive, but this diagnosis came out of nowhere and I don’t know what to think or feel about it. And all the advice I get online is about dieting, which is not good for me! Any words of wisdom about dealing with unexpected medical news? I also have to have neck surgery in a month for a mass, so I am tired of doctor visits.

    1. JessicaC*

      Try searching for a NaPro doctor in your area! They specialize in helping women’s cycles stabilize. The book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” is also helpful.

    2. Anon IAS*

      (Anon cause personal stuff.) I’ve re-written this comment like 6 times but I’m going with the ‘short version’. If you want more details or have questions ask away. :) I was diagnosed with PCOS after 12 months of 1) no natural period and 2) not being pregnant. It was a total shock to me as well, I got on the pill at 18 so my OB is pretty sure I’ve had it my entire fertile life, but due to bad doctors all the symptoms and my complaints were ignored. I was put on Clomid (forces ovulation) and after my second round of 100mg was able to get pregnant, I gave birth 2 months ago.
      As to how to deal with the news, I let myself wallow in self pity for a weekend and then that Monday I picked myself up and started doing research. I am going to try to find the articles that were most helpful to me and if I can I’ll comment back on your post with links. The main way I dealt with it was by having a “deadline”. My husband and I decided we were not going to seek treatment past Clomid so I knew that if after 6 doses it didn’t work, I was done. Knowing that I had only X more tries was for some reason comforting to me.
      SN:You say you were put on Metformin to “improve egg quality” but I’ve never heard of Metformin being used for that. Women with PCOS are normally put on Metformin to help keep insulin sensitivity/diabetes under control or at bay, I would get clarification from your doctor on that statement.

      1. anon for medical stuff*

        I’ve got PCOS too, diagnosed while I was in high school. My doc once tried to put me on metformin because of the increased risk of insulin sensitivity/diabetes (especially since it runs in my family), I’ve never heard of it being used for egg quality either. (It didn’t work out because the side effects were so rough on me I couldn’t keep taking it.) But to be fair I’ve been very open about my desire to not have children with all my gynecologists, so maybe it’s never been brought up because they know that I’m not interested in getting pregnant.

      2. Fertility Poster*

        This is helpful! I had a bad eating disorder from 14 (right after the onset of menses) until 19 and after that, I was on BC, so I never really had “normal” periods. The doc refused to put me on Clomid, because I’m ovulating and with clomid, I might over ovulate and we would risk multiples. Which at this point doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, to be honest. I did find one study showing metformin helps with conception in women with “lean PCOS” which is the subtype I apparently I have. I’m giving it two months, then will try the next step.

        I like the deadline thing. We have talked about cutting off trying in 6 months and then adopting. We are great candidates to adopt and I’m familiar with the process.

        Thank you and to everyone who is replying!

        1. Anon IAS*

          Since you’re ovulating, has your SO had his sperm quality tested? My OB wrote the referral for my husband to be tested as soon as I was diagnosed with PCOS to make sure we weren’t “fighting two battles”. You may also look into tracking your basal body temperature to be sure you’re ovulating on the days you think you are (if you’re not already tracking that kind of thing).

        2. Observer*

          You REALLY don’t want to deal with multiples, as the risk of a twin pregnancy is not negligible and goes through the roof if you go to triplets or more.

          Metformin tends to help women like you ovulate and also to maintain a pregnancy – PCOS is a risk factor for miscarriage. Also, something that tends to help women with PCOS is exercise, even when there is no weight problem. I’m not talking about extreme but a moderate amount. So, if you aren’t already getting a decent amount of exercise, that’s something to consider.

          Anon IAS is right that it may pay to have your husband tested as well. Something like 20% of diagnosed infertility involves both spouses.

          1. Fertility Poster*

            My husband has been tested, he is fine. But that is a good point.
            As to activity, I’m super active, in fact the doc asked me to cut back, as training for a marathon is not good for getting pregnant either. I’m chaffing a bit at being limited to 7 mile runs! I think is is my other problem with the PCOS diagnosis- I’m already doing a lot of the recommended stuff and I want more to do- I don’t do well waiting and hoping. I am seeing a therapist for this.

        3. Starryemma*

          I don’t have PCOS that I know of, but I have had fertility issues. My obgyn put me on femara for a few cycles, since my cycles were super irregular. I too was ovulating (got pregnant/miscarried once), but hard to know if I was all the time since my cycles were so long/irregular.

          Femara is similar to Clomid, but with lower risk of multiples, which is why my obgyn likes it. It’s not fda approved for ovulation stuff- it’s an off label use of a breast cancer drug, but has been used for fertility stuff for about 10 years.

          Like Clomid, has some side effects-i had hot flashes and some emotional ups and downs. The worst was some really bad depression at the end of cycle 3, so I was going to take a break for a few months, but just found out that it worked & I’m pregnant. Still very cautious because I miscarried previously.

          Wishing you good things. Fertility stuff is so maddening/stressful/emotional/difficult. I view it as a club no one ever wants to join, but once we’re here we make the best of it.

      3. Book Lover*

        Metformin isn’t for egg quality but to help you ovulate. Women with pcos rarely ovulate and the background is insulin resistance. Metformin helps with the insulin resistance and restoring ovulation. It is a reasonable thing to try, usually well tolerated and safe in early pregnancy.

        It sounds like the diagnosis was not a slam dunk – I think if I were you I would try the metformin and see if I started ovulating, and otherwise move on to next step, often clomid. Or even another opinion if you are unsure.

        1. Book Lover*

          Huh, just saw your response above. Well, it isn’t my area of expertise, but for pcos you typically have to have anovulatory cycles. So I am a bit confused, but back to – might as well give it a shot and see what happens :). Best of luck!

    3. Kuododi*

      I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 29 but unfortunately things moved too fast for my MD to recommend a tx plan for that problem. A few days after the diagnosis, the rest of the biopsies came back and I had cancer so I had to have total hysterectomy and oopherectomy. What I am discovering as time passes is I am developing other related conditions to PCOS even though I haven’t had ovaries in years. What I will tell you as a diabetic who took Metformin for years, in my experience it is very hard on the kidneys so I would be cautious about taking that unless there were no other options. (Mine are currently running at about 50 percent capacity.). You are the first person I have ever heard of taking Metformin to boost eggs. I would encourage you to do your research and get a second opinion. I’m not an MD and can’t give medical advice. Best wishes!!! I know how scary big medical diagnoses like these can be.

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      Ok this may sound crazy but I was in your situation and it turned out I didn’t have PCOS but I have something else called adult onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia which is a genetic endocrine disorder. If you are seeing a reproductive endocrinologist, ask them to test your levels of 17-hydroxyprogesterone just to make sure! It’s kind of rare but it made so much more sense in my case than PCOS. Worth checking out! Also know that with either of them, it is possible for people to get pregnant.

      1. Book Lover*

        It isn’t that super rare, especially among ashkenazi Jews! And I agree, when a diagnosis sounds like not a good fit, it is always worth evaluating further. In the ends, helps with feeling more confident one way or another.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          Yeah I have heard that, but my REI literally was like “I don’t believe it, it’s probably a fluke.” He made me get tested several times to “confirm” my levels. Then I had to go see the geneticist for the DNA testing for confirmation. His initial thought was “that’s ridiculous, you don’t have that.” Oh but I do!

          1. TL -*

            If you’re not an ashkenazi Jew, it might be incredibly rare (haven’t looked it up but there are genetic diseases that are vanishingly rare in every population but X, especially if X population went through a recent genetic bottleneck event.)

      2. Fertility Poster*

        I will look into this. I’m just not sure of this diagnosis. I don’t have ANY insulin resistance, my doc said the only level out of whack was testosterone, so that is odd to me. I’ll look into this, thank you!

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          YEah my diagnosis would definitely affect testosterone levels. I’m curious about the metformin prescription as well as the other posters. Did you have high A1C??? If you aren’t seeing a reproductive endocrinologist I would highly recommend you see one to make sure your current doc is on the right track. What was the explanation for the metformin prescription??

      1. Fertility Poster*

        But most to the books I find talk about weight a lot. I’m recovered from my ED for many years, I think I’m strong there, but I don’t want to test it. Recovery was hard and I nearly died from my ED multiple times, so I try to stay away from possible triggers.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Oh, hey!

      Bones seems to be doing much better. We finished her round of antibiotics Sunday just gone and she’s put on a visible amount of weight since then so the problem definitely seems to be focused around her mouth. She’s much more active lately as well, which is great for her but not so great when I’m in the middle of teaching a student and she jumps onto my laptop. So many times she’s turned on the flight mode and I’ve lost Internet connection!

      We’re going back to the vet on Tuesday where she’s going to check her over and take a blood sample to check for immune deficiency (I think. I’m translating from Spanish so I’m not 100% sure that’s right) and other things that will show up on a blood screen.

      There’s still a lot ahead of us. She needs her teeth cleaned for starters and possible up to three extractions depending on how well the teeth cleaning goes, but she’s on the mend. I’m really happy because I love having a fat, healthy cat.

      The only thing that’s playing on my mind is the cost. In Spain, the vet gives you the bill upfront so you can see how much it’s going to cost and they’ve quote me about €500. I know it’s 100% worth it, but it’s still giving me a little anxiety about how to pay for it.

      Overall though, she’s great and I’m a happy mum again!

      Thanks so much for asking :)

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Aw I’m so glad she’s doing well. Sorry to hear about the bill but really pleased to hear how she’s doing.

  26. matcha123*

    I asked about Chrombebooks a few weeks ago, and I want to say thanks for the advice.
    I ended up getting the Chrombook 3, the cheapest Samsung model and I’m using it with the Home Mini and Chromecast and I’m loving it so far.
    The screen resolution isn’t the best, but the size and weight are perfect! Any other people using those home systems like google home or alexa? I have it play relaxing sounds at night for 30 minutes and it’s great.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We have an Amazon Alexa and a Google Home. It’s worth it just for the weather, music, and alarms, although right now I like the Alexa better because I can control the thermostat with it. In my experience Google is a little better at understanding language, though.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Advice — don’t puke on it, or else it will be fried. My 8 year old learned this lesson the hard way a few weeks ago, which resulted in a forced technology break until Santa showed up. LOL.

      1. matcha123*

        As strange as it sounds, something like that passed through my mind while I was setting it up!
        It’s nice to have something to talk to, since I live alone.

  27. Mimmy*

    Bleh! Let’s see….today is my husband’s birthday, yet we are most likely not going out to celebrate because it is way too cold and I’m sick. On top of that, I have two grants to read by Tuesday evening for a volunteer panel and only today and tomorrow to do so because I didn’t even get to pick up my set until yesterday afternoon.

    On the bright side, I think the weather will FINALLY warm up (relatively speaking, lol) beginning Monday.

  28. NaoNao*

    Not urgent, but would love some inputs:
    I live in a townhome (rental) with my BF. My ex and I made a lot of little modifications (swapping out light fixtures, painting walls, etc) to make it unique to our style and “us”. I love it and my BF likes it too.
    So, we’re considering moving either in July when our lease is up to a more desirable, walkable part of town or in 18 months depending on the $$ situation (like, we’d sign the lease for another year in July and stay here, meanwhile decluttering and getting our financial house in order).
    My question is:
    I would like to keep making small improvements (like replacing the fridge, painting the kitchen cabinets and woodwork, getting some nice patio furniture) but it seems like that would be a waste if we’re moving in either 6 month or a year.
    The place is a solid B+, but there’s small things that really get to me that I would love to change.
    What do you all think? Keep tweaking the current space (we’d lose the deposit either way, which is only a token amount, since some of the changes we can’t reverse—the original blinds and light fixtures we gave back to the apartment complex, for example) and make it really lovely, or just live with it, save the money, and then pour that into a new place?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      How much money do you have to spare, and how big an impact will this have on your everyday wellbeing?

      If it’ll be a hardship then no. If it’s affordable enough and important enough, I’d consider it as a self-care thing.

    2. Puertorriqueña*

      I guess it depends on how eager you are to move out? If moving out sooner or later depends on $$, and you’re eager to move out, then I would just save the $$ and put it all towards perfecting the new place, especially if that new place you see yourself living in long-term. I feel like July is going to be here before we know it, so to me those improvements wouldn’t be worth it.

      Maybe as a compromise, only make the improvements that REALLY get to you, that you feel like you couldn’t stand for 6 months, and don’t do the more cosmetic ones.

    3. TCO*

      As a landlord, I’d be pretty unhappy if my tenants painted cabinets or woodwork without my permission. If the originals are truly universally ugly and the painting is done skillfully, it could be okay. But if the woodwork is fine (just not your personal style) or the painting is done poorly, no deposit can fix that. It’s different than painting walls. Please check with your landlord before doing something so permanent.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Agreed. One of my tenants made a very permanent change that I can’t reverse. I was not pleased.

      2. NaoNao*

        Well, I will check *but* these apartments are….let’s say everything is the cheapest and quickest “down and dirty” version possible. The paint, carpet, finishings, appliances…they’re all bargain basement. Every single light switch plate is crooked. Whoever prepped the place prior to our move in *painted over wallpaper* in the bathroom. And so on. I am thinking about paying a professional to do a highly skilled job of sanding down, priming and then painting the cabinets—so I would not just be slapping paint on 1940’s oak cabinets or something :)

        Maybe “woodwork” is the right word for what I meant either. I mean the plywood/sheetrock that is not cabinets, yet not countertops, that’s currently painted the same color as the cabinets. Like the walls/the supporting structure of the cabinets.

        But all that aside, I bought dining room chairs today and rearranged the whole dining room and did a few tweaks to the living room and that really sated my itchy home improvements fingers for now, so I am pretty happy for the time being :)

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Doesn’t matter. You don’t own it. Would you borrow something, say a pair of pants from a friend, and the tell her “yeah, this length didn’t work on me, so I cut them off and made them into capris”? Or would you rent a car, even a little crappy model, and then take it back and say “the colour didn’t work for us so we got painted, and also we replaced the stereo because it sucked”?

    4. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t buy a new refrigerator for a place you aren’t planning to live in. I also wouldn’t paint the cabinets in a place I was renting.

      If you can take the patio furniture with you, great.

    5. fposte*

      I would split the difference. Figure out the formula–how much the current state annoys you, how much it will cost you in expense and time to change, and whether the advantages will carry forward. For me that might mean no on the fridge, get the patio furniture and take it with us or at least resell it when we go, and cabinet-painting would depend on how many and their current state.

    6. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      If you can’t (or won’t) take it with you when you leave, I don’t think I would. When you get the itch to renovate, just think of what you may get to fix up in the new house or plan how you’ll decorate.

    7. Anono-me*

      I would stop the changes, except for maybe buying some inexpensive patio furniture.

      First, the landlord may not be happy about the changes and in many cases if the changes were made without written approval the landlord can pursue you for any ‘repair/return the townhouse to the way it was costs’ above and beyond the deposit.

      Second; you talk about getting your financial house in order. Very few tenants put money into improving short term rental property. Before spending any more of your money making any additional improvements to someone else’s property; I would suggest meeting with a financial advisor to discuss your financial situation and goals, and also ask about the impact of these expenses.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      As a long time renter, If I were planning on moving out fairly soon, I wouldn’t put money into anything that I couldn’t either take with me, or was related to function.

      So I might get new patio furniture, but wouldn’t replace the fridge, or paint the cabinets. Function might be something like replacing curtains to something that made the bedroom darker, or buying new filters for the A/C.

    9. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I’m going to be really blunt here, because I feel like you’re going through life “la la la, I can do what I want”, at least based on your post.

      Why did you do half these things? I rented for years, and I put up curtains (but left blinds in place), replaced shower heads and thermostats (knowing that I’d be leaving them in place when I moved out), and in the last place I lived, with the landlord’s permission painted the living room and bedrooms. And the landlord approved the colors! That’s it. I dealt with the boring white walls, and the bad paint jobs and crappy carpet and the dishwasher that sounded like a jet engine. I filled in the nail holes, cleaned, and got the carpets cleaned after I moved out. FOR YEARS. You’re renting. You don’t have the right to make updates/changes, you don’t own the place. If something breaks, then you ask the landlord to fix it. And you live with the rest of it. There’s a reason why people often prefer to buy – and it’s not because it’s cheaper. It’s frequently more expensive to own.

      Yeah, this is harsh. But if I were renting to you, I’d be PISSED at even a fraction of what you’ve done. If you want to do renos, then BUY the place first.

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        I’m having a similar reaction. I’ve never rented a place that allowed painting the walls, let alone anything more dramatic like what has already been done, let alone refinishing the kitchen cabinets (?) and getting a new fridge (!). And as an above commenter said, it’s not just about losing your security deposit, you’re legally liable for anything they have to replace because of what you’ve changed, whether they pursue that avenue or not. And if they enter your apartment for maintenance issues or something and see everything you’ve changed and don’t like it, they can end your lease for cause.

        Maybe the OP lives in another part of the world where customs are different. For their sake, I hope so.

      2. NaoNao*

        Well, message received, it seems like everyone is very adamant that any/all changes are a bad idea. I seem to have given people the wrong idea here, that I’m gleefully skipping around changing things for the heck of it, but most of my changes are in line with what you just listed: putting up curtains instead of blinds, replaced shower heads, painted some walls with knowledge of landlord. I haven’t like, knocked down walls or ripped out major fixtures! These were all small, easily changeable tweaks like taking cabinet doors off (and storing the doors where they can be easily put back on) switching out light fixtures (again, with permission). Also, these were done by my ex, who I’m not in touch with and I don’t have the knowledge or wherewithall to change it back (in the case of switching out light fixtures).
        The other factor here is this is a management company, not a private individual.
        I can see that I’ve given sort of a terrible impression and I am bummed out about that—that certainly wasn’t my hope!
        I’ll stick with what’s already been done and is not changeable and just live with the rest or make cosmetic changes to existing furniture.
        I am a little taken aback at the tone of some of the advice, I don’t feel like it’s in line with the general tone I have come to expect and enjoy about AAM—like, even if someone is completely in the wrong, which clearly I am, they generally don’t get a pounding like this. I didn’t realize it was a controversial or heated topic at all!

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          You’re getting pounding because your initial post seems so very clueless. (Sorry, but it does.) We’ve all likely been burned, and here you are talking about reno’ing the kitchen. A management company is going to be WORSE than a private individual, fyi. Just because you have “permission” or “knowledge” doesn’t mean that they’re not going to hammer you for it later. I had a roommate who really, really had to paint her bedroom. She talked to the mgmt office, and they said as long as she painted it back to the same color she wouldn’t be charged, but it was clear they didn’t want her to paint. Well guess what? She painted, and when we moved out she painted it back, but it wasn’t the exact same cheap white paint and they charged her anyway. I told her all along not to do it. She got to pay $200 because she couldn’t deal with white walls for a year. Renting is a very different ball game – you deal. You don’t (usually) get to paint and change things.

          There are little things that you can do. You can put curtains up, but leave the blinds in place. Just pull them up all the way. You can swap out the shower head, but either put the original one back up or leave the new one. And don’t get an expensive one! I’ve added a towel bar and left it in place with no issues. My former roommate insisted on swapping out the kitchen faucet. If you’re renting from a private individual, not a company, you can ask about painting and other minor changes, but be prepared (and accept) a no. And read between the lines – if they give a reluctant yes, it’s really a no. I’ve never heard of a mgmt company allowing you to paint, not without being charged when you move out at least.

          My parents are landlords. They have accommodated a tenant’s request to change a light fixture for a ceiling fan. She bought it, my dad installed it. I think that’s probably the only change they’ve allowed a tenant to do in 20ish years. The one tenant who decided to paint, etc got charged for it. (They didn’t ask permission, I don’t know what would have happened if they had.)

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            In my experience in the areas I’ve rented in, it’s pretty normal to paint walls even without permission. I painted the last two rooms I lived in, first one was a pretty bad apartment where the previous resident had written on the walls and there were a million holes and chips in the plaster, so I spackled all the holes and painted it white. My current place the woman who had my room before (who was the landlords daughter!) had painted three of the walls this crazy cinnamon orange and I painted it white which is the same color as the two other bedrooms and most other walls. It might depend on area and type of apartment but being allowed to paint isn’t especially unusual where I lived.

            1. Elizabeth H.*

              (by “without permission,” I meant that it wasn’t assumed one should ask permission, not like done expressly against wishes of landlords)

    10. ..Kat..*

      You are pouring your own money into an apartment that you do not own. You have replaced fixtures, done painting, etc. And now you are talking about replacing a major appliance – which you will leave behind when you move. This is madness! Save your money. Plus, as someone else pointed out, the landlord can charge you big bucks to return everything to the initial condition.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        I agree, I think replacing the refrigerator is beyond illogical for somewhere you don’t own!! Unless you are taking it with you!

    11. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’ve read at least one blog where this is a thing: spending huge amounts of time and work updating and improving a rented space. It can make it seem like a thing that’s done, and maybe it is in certain areas but it is by far not the norm. These blogs and shows are fictionalized. They probably do have the owner’s permission and they either have money to burn and/or corporate sponsors. Any troubles they run into seem minor because as a reader you are a step removed but I assure they can be devastating to experience yourself. These things you’re planning are not minor. Absolutely do not hire people to make cosmetic improvements to your rented townhouse. Absolutely do not buy major appliances for someone else. Just because you’re not going to get your deposit back does not mean your liability is over and that you can have free reign. What happens if the contractor goofs and causes significant damage to the cabinets? You will be responsible to replace them and new cabinets are not cheap. What happens if the ice maker in the fridge you buy breaks and floods the kitchen? Since it is your fridge and not the owner’s you would be financially responsible for all the repairs. Save your money and effort for a place that is truely yours. It will be much more satisfying. Make a scrapbook of pictures of what you’d like to do and save that amount of money. Make a game of improving your place with things that don’t violate your lease and can be taken with you. Volunteer for an organization like Habitat for Humanity that lets you scratch this itch. Learn to accept and live with the flaws. But please stop throwing your money away on someone else’s property.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Also think about it this way: every penny you spend -on- this place keeps you -in- this place. Spend your money so it benefits you in the long run, not your landlord.

  29. Dainty Lady*

    Mommy MD, if you’re on this weekend (or someone else with med cred), can you please explain why a cold flares up at night? I’m so tired with this cold because I’ll feel relatively okay during the day and then the moment I go to bed the coughing starts. Such a drag. And then I got curious as to why that happens.

    /feeling sorry for myself

    1. tigerStripes*

      I’m not a doctor, but a year or 2 ago I had a miserable cold that left me very congested, and it was worst at night. I found that taking Dayquil before I went to bed actually helped. Seems weird, but it was true.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I don’t have medical credentials, but when you’re horizontal, fluids and things tend to pool and make you more uncomfortable. I’m always congested when I first wake up in the morning. Try propping yourself up on more pillows so you’re not lying completely flat.

    3. Enough*

      Not a MD but when you lay down everything stops draining so coughing clears it. Also as the day progresses your temperature rises and that always makes me cranky.

    4. Mephyle*

      Not an MD, but it’s very common for a cough to get worse when you lie down. It’s because the mucus isn’t draining down away from your throat any more.
      Also worth noting: anyone who has this problem when they don’t have a cold (coughing when lying down) should investigate whether they have silent reflux (reflux without heartburn). It can be caused by acid and/or stomach enzymes getting up into the throat when you’re horizontal.

    5. Dainty Lady*

      So… I’m not lying down when the cough begins to get worse. I just start coughing more as the evening progresses. When I go to bed with a cold, I do my best to stay as vertical as possible. (This involves a satisfying number of pillows.)

      Maybe as Enough says, it’s more temperature, which causes a cascade of other things.

    6. Jen Erik*

      Not medical, but my daughter had a recurring cough that got worse at night. I don’t remember if I was told this, or just decided it, but I put it down to the air being colder at night.

      1. Book Lover*

        Asthma? My poor girl has asthma that fortunately at this point is just nocturnal cough, but it is still a misery sometimes. Flovent helps, thankfully.

    7. Natalie*

      I didn’t bother to go dig for his citation, but in a book I have about sleeping and nighttime through history, the author says many conditions get worse at night. It’s probably for multiple reasons.

      (The book is At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past)

    8. MsChanandlerBong*

      Not a doctor, but there are a few things at play. Blood flow changes when you lie down vs. when you are standing. I’ve also read that some symptoms get worse at night because your hormone levels go up and down at different times of the day.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Apparently so does our eye sight. I read that colors will be slightly different if we are laying down. Odd stuff.

    9. Nina*

      Yep, what everyone said. Mucus and drainage tend to pool when you’re lying down, so it’s better to sleep propped up. But I know that’s easier said than done. I’m also sick and was up til 5AM this morning because like you, I couldn’t stop coughing when I was lying down. Even though I had been feeling better earlier. Ugh. I hope you feel better soon.

    10. paul*

      Not a medical professional but have chronic respiratory crap (that my youngest seems to have inherited); I’ve been told it’s because you’re laying down and not up and moving and it makes the gunk kind of pool. Plus you’re not coughing or sneezing so there’s more gunk–you’re not expelling it anymore.

      I’ve found sleeping upright in a recliner with a humidifier going nearby can help but it sucks so hard.

    11. Carmen in Canada*

      I had a horrible cough and cold earlier this winter and after losing my voice and having violent coughing fits every night for 2 weeks I was very frustrated. I started giving myself a lymphatic face massage (Google will turn up charts or videos to show how) that my mom had recommended and felt much better after one night. I’m skeptical of that kind of thing but I think it helped force some of the mucus out of my head and I was able to get a good sleep.

      1. Dainty Lady*

        Now that is an excellent suggestion. I had a DO do this once and was astonished at how effective it was, but I’d forgotten all about it. Thanks for reminding me!

  30. Seafood Lover*

    If you’re looking for a movie to check out this weekend, can I please highly recommend The Shape of Water? It was awesome! Beauty and the Beast set in the Cold War with a very diverse cast of characters. It tugged at my heart and made me laugh, it was fabulous. I’m definitely picking up the DVD when it comes out.

    It’s a limited release so it may be hard to find near you but I promise it’s wonder. Fair warning for some female nudity, slight gore, and one disturbing sex scene (though not between the woman and the fish creature sadly).

    But I freaking loved it!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I just watched the trailer and oh my stars it looks really interesting and amazing!

      I’m not surprised it’s a del Toro film. It definitely has that look about it. As I was watching it, I kept thinking what a challenge it must have been for Sally Hawkins to act a mute character.

      It’s so nice to see an original film like this. I’m definitely going to check it out when I can.

    2. Bluebell*

      Loved it too – it also just looked so beautiful. Hoping that the set decorator gets nominated for an Oscar.

    3. Kuododi*

      I make a point to watch Guillermo del Toro movies. The designs and the creatures are exquisite works of art!!! Just hoping the movie shows in my area.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Oh my damn, I am DYING to see this one. But our Alamo Drafthouse said they weren’t getting it until this month. I like to go there for films I really want to see. If I miss it, I’m going to be inconsolable!

    5. Searching*

      I enjoyed it too! It was not a movie I was initially drawn to when I heard the description, but a friend suggested seeing it and I was so happy we did.

  31. HNY*

    Is it too late to text someone Happy New Year’s? I want to text an ex-boss but not sure if the moment has passed.

    1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      It might be a little odd, but since it’s a semi-work context, could make sense since most people are just getting back to work in a lot of areas. When I send a late birthday text I go with something along the lines of “hope your birthday on Monday was great! Wishing you another year of happiness!” so maybe you could do something similar so they don’t think you have zero concept of what day New Years falls on?

    2. NaoNao*

      I don’t think it’s too late—just change it to “Hey, hope your 2018 is getting off to a great start!” or something. :)

    3. nep*

      Agree. In my experience, within the first couple weeks of January it’s quite common to hear new year wishes.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Russian Orthodox New Year is still to come!

        I tend to start messages with “I hope the new year has got off to a good start”, which I think covers it.

  32. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

    Any advice for first time homeowner? What you wish you knew, the good stuff, etc. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be moved in next weekend and close in early Feb. Owner was pretty accommodating to my weird situation, so I’m grateful. I’m a single woman, pretty petite, no men on the dating front, 5 hours from family, and have a handful of friends in this town (but am finally free of horrible roommates!!) I have a budget set and was fortunate to have most of my appliances given to me – they aren’t perfect but I’ll use them until I can afford what I’d prefer. I know I also need a ladder and ADT security, but is there anything else that may make life easier? I’m really excited and hoping everything falls into place.

    1. Temperance*


      We actually don’t have a ladder for our house, and we’ve been living here for 3 years. We do have a stepstool and that works pretty well. (Full disclosure, I’d need a bigger stepstool if I didn’t have a tall husband to change lightbulbs.)

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      A good, basic tool kit! I got one in a case from Home Depot very inexpensive ($20?). The Wirecutter website (thewirecutter.com) has some good recommendations. I also got a ratcheting screwdriver (the one recommended on The Wirecutter) that I love so much I gave it as a gift to a few people.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Paint before you move in. It’s 5,000 times easier. And get any carpets cleaned while the place is empty.

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        Ugh, I wish I had that luxury! Because I’m technically a tenant the first month, I’m not allowed to alter anything until possession. The walls are an awful beige, and I can’t wait to throw some white up!

      2. Kuododi*

        Second that!!! Also address any issues with bad wallpaper as quickly as possible. Our first house was an older home and the previous owner believed in throwing wallpaper on anything that didn’t fight back!!! (Think hunting duck border paper in dining room, plus tiny violet flower paper above chair rail in dining room as well as red and green stripe paper on bottom on chair rail in same room…shudder!!!!). To make matters worse there was solid bordello red paper in family room complete with flocking and country kitsch blue chickens in the kitchen. An overall nightmare from the seventh circle of hell!!! Definitely regret not addressing that before closing!!! Oh well…the joy of new home ownership.

    4. DanaScully*

      I’m also very interested in responses to your question as I’m hoping to make the jump soon also!

      I don’t know if you use reddit, but there was a really useful thread along these lines a couple of months back in r/askreddit. If you search ‘homeowners’, it should be one of the top results. Good luck!

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You mentioned ADT for security. Don’t use them. They might be one of the worst security companies. They do a really hard sell when you first meet with them and there are many much better companies. For example: Once your ADT equipment is installed, they don’t do any kind of monitoring to ensure that it’s continuing to work. If a sensor dies, you won’t know unless you deliberately test it (and who’s going to constantly be testing their sensors?). Companies like Frontpoint are much better (Frontpoint, for example, has constant monitoring on all your equipment and will send you an immediate alert if something stops functioning).

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Huh that hasn’t been my experience with them. They have actually called when it’s something isn’t working in our system to make sure we fix it. On another occasion we didn’t know we lost power to the panel and they called us to make sure we were okay and that we could get it fixed (it was due to a fuse blowing in our basement). It sounds like you had a bad experience. That stinks!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh, that’s interesting! When I talked to them in August, they told me they require you to test everything yourself monthly to keep the warranty in effect.

          I also read that if a burglar smashes your control panel within 30 seconds of entering your house, no notification will go to ADT. For anyone considering them, I recommend doing some research online — there are a ton of complaints about them. They’re also pretty expensive and were also a huge pain to cancel with when I changed my mind within 24 hours after signing up (I changed my mind after doing that research), despite their paperwork supposedly giving you three days to cancel. I am very much not a fan of theirs.

          I adore Frontpoint though.

      2. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        Thank you! I haven’t hard core looked into them, so this is good insight. I like that Frontpoint also does smoke and carbon monoxide watering, so I’m definitely going to look into them.

    6. Red Reader*

      Yard maintenance stuff. Rake, snow shovel, etc. cleaning supplies. Extra TP.

      A plunger for every toilet :-P

      Call your power company and see if they’ll do a walk through analysis on conservation – ours gave me a couple new low flow shower heads, a fancy power strip, and like $80 worth of LED light bulbs, plus a $20 credit on my next bill, for having a guy check and see if they had any power/water saving suggestions that I wasn’t already implementing. Took about 15 minutes.

      If you’re in the US, see if your neighborhood has a Nextdoor site – super handy for info ranging from your neighbors have seen the same skeezy unmarked van trawling the streets for three nights in a row, to someone has a treadmill for sale, to lost pets, Girl Scout cookies, recommendations for landscapers or handyfolk. There’s a tree guy in my subdivision who does discounts on his services for people who are in the same neighborhood, several contractors and handymen and a tech guy who all do the same.

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        Oooh, I like the info about power companies. I’d never even heard of that! Thank you!

        1. KR*

          If you live in the southeast us and Duke is your provider I know for a fact they will do this. Saw a commercial and read an artical about it

      2. moql*

        Similarly, if you’re replacing any appliances for more efficient ones, check to see if your utilities have rebates. I work for a water company and we do them for low flow toilets and smart watering controllers, and we’re debating washing machines. We also do free consults on if you’re watering correctly,

    7. Catarina*

      Join Angie’s List, which is like Yelp but for sane people. It’s less than $20 a year, and you can search for any type of household expert you may need, with detailed reviews from previous customers. I have been thrilled with the electrician I chose.

        1. Catarina*

          I am flabbergasted to hear this. I forgot to renew after my credit card was closed for fraud, and somehow this info slipped by me. I hope it doesn’t devolve into the crapshow that other free review sites are.

    8. Anono-me*

      If you are in the USA; Look at a home warranty. They are usually super cheap for the first year, if you buy one when you buy the house.

      Ask your Realtor to reach out to the sellers to see if you can buy any of their old or duplicate tools. Most people go through their stuff before moving and get rid of what they don’t want. Leaving stuff in a corner of the shed is much easier than hauling it to a charity or having a rummage sale.

      Basic tool kit.
      Screwdrivers- Flat and Philips
      Needlenose pliers.
      Misc nails and screws package
      Duct tape
      Hose washers
      Fire extinguisher
      Carbon monoxide detector *
      Smoke Alarms*
      Yard rake.
      Snow shovel
      Escape ladder if you have a two story.

      Get the locks* changed right away. (Also make sure the strike plate screws are long ones, not the short ones that come with the doorknobs.)

      Have tp, lighbulbs, and paper towels handy right away.

      Pay for high quality new locks, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. These can mean life or death.

      Congratulations on the new house.

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        Oddly enough, when my dad was there for the inspection (I couldn’t be, and he’s helping with any minor move in things right now!) he met the seller. That’s how the seller agreed to rent it until closing, and the $500 “deposit” is basically going towards any appliances he has per our lease agreement. I would’ve been renting somewhere anyways, so we kind of won out on this one.

        The lease allows me to change the locks, but I’d have to give a set to the seller until closing, and then change them again after I take full possession, so I think I’m just going to wing it for now so I only have to do that once.

        1. Anono-me*

          You know your comfort level.
          But fyi Many of the better quality locks can be ‘rekeyed’ multiple times. You buy the locks and if you loose a key or something you just take all the locks into your local hardware store and for a few dollars each, they will reset the pins to change the locks.

        1. Anono-me*

          I’m sorry to hear that, mine paid to replace a major appliance and for two visits by repair professionals the first year.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Ours paid for a visit by an hvac tech who told us the AC was busted but wouldn’t pay for a new one because it’d been improperly repaired years before we bought the house. Useless.

      2. ..Kat..*

        Seconding the carbon monoxide detector and changing the locks. If you are in the United States, all homes sold have to have smoke detectors.

        also, when you get a tool kit, do NOT get a ‘lady’ tool kit, especially if it is pink. Tool kits targeted at women tend to be poor quality and more expensive.

        1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

          That’s odd. This one doesn’t have smoke detectors and the contract puts it on me to add them, not the seller.

          1. fposte*

            It’s state by state, not federal. There may also be grandfather clauses, and I bet that the statement that it’s on the buyer to put them in is an established workaround in some places.

    9. periwinkle*

      1. Make sure you have an emergency home repair/appliance replacement stash of cash. Stuff breaks even if you think it’s fine. Our house came with all original appliances except washer/dryer, but it turns out that everything was pretty much at the end of its lifecycle. Within the first year we had to replace the hot water heater, dishwasher, fridge, and microwave/range hood. Only the stove is hanging on, which is the only thing I had wanted to replace immediately. Arrrgh.
      2. Definitely get a simple set of tools. You don’t need anything fancy at first, but a set of the basics will be useful (a “homeowner’s toolkit” will do). A sturdy measuring tape is really handy, as is a level and stud finder (you can start with one of those magnet-type stud finders, not good enough for renovations but certainly adequate to hang your artwork!). Don’t forget a sturdy box cutter because you’ll probably find yourself bringing in more boxes of stuff than you ever imagined.
      3. If you have a yard, don’t forget the basic tools – mower, rake, snow shovel if appropriate for the climate.
      4. The day you move in, find your fuse box, water heater, furnace, and gas/water shut-off valves. Figure out how they work. Label what needs to be labeled. If a valve needs a pipe wrench or other tool to be opened quickly, hang the relevant tool right by the valve.
      5. Tour the nearby hardware/home improvement stores. You will get to know them well, so find a favorite.
      6. While you’re there, buy fire extinguishers.
      7. And collect paint chips so you can banish that beige in a couple months!

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        Yes, I’m planning to replace appliances as soon as possible! The freebies I have will get me by until I can do so, but I already know the dryer is supposed to squeak and fridge doesn’t get as cold as it once did. I want a fresh start with those! Thankfully, I didn’t even make it to my college dorm without a basic tool kit, and since my dad has 7-12 of everything he’s hooking me up with extra tools!

    10. Book Lover*

      Congratulations! That was me about 15 years ago :). I was happy to have a home warranty and fortunately was pretty lucky with that first house.
      Now I would warn you to expectable that just about everything that can go wrong will, from plumbing to electrical to appliances, roof and foundation. But that is 1/3 houses for me and hopefully you will have better luck :)

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        Thanks! It’s been a heck of a time just getting to this stage, so I’m hoping my bad luck has already run out! (I could use a break, honestly!) But I also know it probably hasn’t, so I’m planning on it anyways.

    11. Pennalynn Lott*

      Know where the main water shutoff is to your house. Mine was the water meter under the front sidewalk, and I needed a “plumber’s key” to get the cover off to get to it. Very time-consuming if (a) you don’t know where the shutoff is, and/or (b) you don’t know where the plumber’s key is (or if you even have one). Meanwhile, if there’s a big leak in your house, the damage is multiplying while you’re scrambling to shut off the water.

      Also know where the electrical panel is and which fuses control what part of the house.

      Buy pocket LED flashlights and put one in every room. Buy a bigger, high-powered flashlight for things that need to be repaired / investigated in the dark. (I’ve got one with a bendy neck that lets me hang it off things or curl into a stand).

    12. Rookie Manager*

      Get an electric drill and bit set. If you can’t stretch to that an electric screwdriver. Best thing I ever bought before getting my first place.

      (Against advice I also got a “pretty” tool kit. It was flimsy and useless. Now I buy tools for function over form.)

    13. Not So NewReader*

      We needed garbage cans, recycling bins, a step ladder and we bought a thermostat with programming ability.

      Spend slowly. There will always be something that you want and then something that you absolutely need. Take care of the needs first. Keep an emergency fund. I have been lucky here our worst emergencies were about 1 or 2 thousand dollars. I am very fortunate.

      When I first got here, I started right away looking at how to reduce my costs. (Hence the choices I listed above.)

      If you can put off some purchases until spring/summer you can find incredible deals at tag sales. I have bought everything from microwaves (almost new), paint, furniture, tools, ladders, and so on. This stuff is in mint condition and I got it for a song. The trick is to get there early, start out first thing in the morning. Another trick is to go down those side roads, a lot of people won’t stop for a tag sale that is too far off the main roads.

      I bought used yard equipment from a reputable dealer. The savings was awesome. My current tractor was 12k. We picked it up for just over 5k and I have had it for over 15 years. It just won’t quit. But you can pick up mowers and snowblowers the same way. Do business with places who have a repair department with a good reputation. All machines break at some point, what we really need is good repair people.

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        Oh yes, scouting out deals is already basically a second job for me. I haven’t paid retail for anything since… I’m not sure when!

    14. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      You tube is your friend. You can learn SOOO much from that.

      and why do you need a security system? I have a general rule of thumb: if you think you need a security system, you don’t. You either need bars on your doors and windows, or therapy. Following common sense (locking doors/windows, testing smoke alarms, etc) is going to go a lot farther.

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        The home isn’t in the safest of areas and I want basic door and window alarms to deter any thieves. I don’t expect anyone to intentionally cause harm to me, but in this day and age you can’t hope for that. In fact, I just left the visitation for a friends son that was killed in an armed robbery less than a week ago. If a blaring alarm is what keeps someone from killing me when I’m home just to get to my MacBook and Visa card, then I’ll gladly pay for a security system. I don’t care about the stuff, but I do value my life, so yes, I will have a security system, if for nothing other than saying that I tried.

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          Ok. But I’m serious about the bars on the doors and windows. You can get some that look semi-decorative but are still quite strong. Also, do some research on making your home more secure. There’s some pretty easy things you can do (longer screws in the door hinges for example) that can have a big impact.

          1. fposte*

            When I got the reinforced strike plates, the screws were longer and there were more of them. I totally agree that that’s a really easy, low-impact way to make your home more secure.

            1. ..Kat..*

              I agree on quality locks. Also, do you have a high quality door? Poor quality doors are easier to kick in (the cheap quality bends in the middle until the deadbolt pops out of the door jamb. Oh, and get a dead bolt.

              Also, you don’t want a door to the outside with a window. Or those decorative windows right next to your door. Burglars love those.

              1. fposte*

                You can get clear security film that apparently renders such windows unbreakable. I bought some but never got around to putting it up (I have a window in my front door, but I’m not in that high crime an area); might be cheaper than getting a new door if budget is a concern.

    15. MissDissplaced*

      Plan for lots of extra expenses!
      Depending on the house, you may need a lot of things you never needed before, such as:
      Lawnmower/weed whacker/hedge trimmer
      Furnace screens
      Closet shelves

      Also, don’t forget to figure in your cost of taxes (school, county) and heating fuel, trash, electric & water utilities. As a renter, much of these are included and you don’t realize the true cost. These ended up being much higher for us than the realator initially said.

  33. Umvue*

    New to the weekend open thread…
    Anyone here have strategies for dealing with a difficult parent? My mom has outbursts that she never apologizes for – overreacting to perceived slights – and the family strategy when I was a kid, pretending they hadn’t happened, isn’t working for me anymore. But I’m not sure what to do instead. How do I say “X thing you did wasn’t okay” without falling into the trap of “you always do X”?

    I think her bad example has also made it harder for me to know how to begin an apology than it is for normal people. As you might imagine, my mom has few friends, and I don’t want that to be me in old age. I have some learning to do. Advice?

    1. Temperance*

      Do you Reddit? If so, I highly recommend /r/RaisedByBorderlines or /r/RaisedByNarcissists.

      I solved the problem by cutting contact with my mother. That’s extreme, but she wasn’t going to change and having a parent who treated me like an emotional punching bag wasn’t working.

      If your mother is like mine, even if you say that it hurt your feelings when she called you X or did Y, she’ll deny that it ever happened OR will come up with something nasty that you did or did not do to throw in your face as a rebuttal. If your mom isn’t as disordered as mine, she might actually be willing to listen and work on it. I also don’t necessarily see a problem with telling her that it sucks when she screams in your face, and she does it often.

      1. Umvue*

        I don’t Reddit, but I gave those forums a look, and a few of those stories sure sound familiar. Thanks for the tip.

        I’m glad you found a solution that works for you and keeps you safe. I’ve known a few people who’ve gone NC with a parent and sometimes there really isn’t a better solution. In my case, I only see my mother once a year, and once-a-week contact via phone/Skype is generally distance enough.

        I don’t actually know what happens if I call her on being mean or unreasonable – whether she reacts like yours, or apologizes. I’m not sure I have ever tried, oddly. I’ve been an adult for long enough now that at this point, not trying is on me!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          No. None of this is on you. You have been doing the best you can to deal with someone who is not reasonable. Blaming yourself for not trying makes it sound like you have been freely able to, and with difficult parents it’s just not that way.

        2. Temperance*

          It’s absolutely NOT on you! You have been trained since birth to respond to her in a certain way, and you have been taught not to challenge her. If she was an actual toddler having a tantrum, you would stop her, but when it’s an adult, and you’ve grown up around it, it almost seems normal.

          Many people in those forums do LC and what’s called grey rocking – you basically become as boring as possible so there’s nothing for her to emotionally react to.

    2. fposte*

      I think the real question is what you want to happen from this information. Is this about you being tired of never being on the record as being hurt by these outbursts, are you hoping this information will change her, or something else? I don’t think you’re going to get her to start apologizing at this point in life, but you may be able to position yourself more securely, and you might be able to get a little more insight.

      When she’s mean or yelling, say “Mom, it’s wrong to talk to people that way. I’m going to go for a walk and I’ll talk to you when you calm down.” State your position, and remove yourself as target.

      And, as I usually advise for talking about tricky subjects, if you want to know more find a low-stress time when you’re humming along well together, and ask what’s up. “Mom, I don’t understand what’s going on when you got so angry that you yelled and called me names yesterday. Can you tell me what’s up with that and why you make that choice?” If you think that’ll set her off again, it’s probably not worth doing and you shouldn’t do it in a space where you can’t get away from her, but it’s possible that you may actually get some information about the kind of hurt your mother’s holding on to to make her move so quickly to attack. That still doesn’t mean you have to put up with it, but understanding the walls in my parents’ lives really was helpful to me, so I mention that as a possibility.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Sorry to derail from the original discussion but re “tired of never being on the record as being hurt“ – I just want to thank you as I never worked out how to put this into words.

        1. fposte*

          I think we worry about that a lot when it’s something offensive to somebody else but it can matter a lot when it’s hurtful to ourselves, too.

      2. Umvue*

        Great question, fposte. I know it’s very unlikely that I’ll reform a person my mom’s age. I think there is part of me that secretly seethes at the unfairness of her “getting away” with being mean to me, but the adult part of me knows that she hasn’t “gotten away” with anything, really, because her difficult personality means she has a lonely and unsatisfying life.

        Anyway, what I really want is to make sure that I have tools in my toolbox for handling conflict, both so I can avoid alienating friends the way she tends to, and so I can model appropriate behaviors for my kid. I know that there have definitely been instances where I haven’t handled my own unmet needs well, and I have to think that all this garbage from my upbringing plays some role. I feel like if I were a well-adjusted person I’d know better how to deal with my mom when she isn’t.

        I guess there’s an assumption buried here, namely, that “how to handle conflict with normal people” and “how to handle conflict with my disordered parent”h ave some overlap. Now that I look at it directly, maybe that’s actually not true at all…

        1. Natalie*

          I know it’s very unlikely that I’ll reform a person my mom’s age. I think there is part of me that secretly seethes at the unfairness of her “getting away” with being mean to me, but the adult part of me knows that she hasn’t “gotten away” with anything, really, because her difficult personality means she has a lonely and unsatisfying life.

          I want to push back on this, as someone with a difficult parent (my mother) and difficult in-laws (both of them). I don’t know how old your mother is, but in general age is no barrier to change. For that matter, even if it was true that she couldn’t change and even if it’s true that she is lonely, you do not have to sit there and tolerate her behavior just because you have in the past.

          I think there is a lot of value in removing yourself as a target no matter what you think the outcome will be. Even if you’ve been tolerating this behavior for years, in my experience it does get into your psyche in a negative way, and the first step to repairing that damage is to stop subjecting yourself to the blows.

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          I went NC with my mom for 6-7 years (I forget exactly how long). Shortly after reinitiating contact, she moved in with me. (I know!) And she tried her old bullsh*t. But I’d spent the intervening years learning boundaries and was able to calmly shut her down and let her know that talking to me / treating me that way wasn’t acceptable. After a few fits and starts (and her threatening to move out and me responding with, “That’s probably not in your best interest, but whatever floats your boat.”) she actually changed. She is infinitely more respectful now, stays on her own side of the street, worries about her own issues, and will apologize once she’s recognized that she stepped out of line.

          She was 60 when she moved in with me, so it’s possible for old people to change. But, like anyone else, they have to be the ones to want the change. My mom was afraid of me kicking her out and going NC again, so she decided that she needed to follow my lead and learn a new way of communicating and interacting with each other. It wasn’t easy, but she never would have changed if I hadn’t — calmly, gently, but firmly — pushed back and held my ground.

        3. TL -*

          My dad was not that bad at all but he started therapy at like 60 and changed his patterns/how he approached his family a lot.
          Not that I had been anywhere near no contact or asked for change – he went for other reasons but he’s changed and it’s improved our relationship a lot.

      3. fposte*

        People have made good points about people’s ability to change, and I agree that the capacity for change doesn’t disappear even later in life. What I should have said was that you want an interaction that makes you feel more secure and comfortable whether she changes or not.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      As hard as this sounds, you probably need to not try to Make Her See. It’s too easy to believe that if only you explained it clearly enough or in the right way, you’d be able to change her.

      I had to learn that this was like trying to get steak out of a vending machine. No matter how badly you need steak, or how clearly you explain why you need it and how to make it, the vending machine can’t give you steak if it doesn’t have any.

      Is therapy an option for you to figure some of this out? Otherwise, the website Out of the Fog has some very good tips on dealing with difficult behaviour, and Captain Awkward might also be worth a read.

      1. Umvue*

        I had to learn that this was like trying to get steak out of a vending machine.

        Amazing metaphor. Thank you, Ramona.

        I love Captain Awkward! I hadn’t heard of the other site you mentioned, though. I have seen therapists at a couple different points in my life, and the weirdness with my mom always comes up, but I still think something’s missing for me, skill-wise.

          1. Umvue*

            Oh my god, the “grey rock” sounds like my dad. For almost forty years I’ve just assumed he *was* boring…

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You might suggest that she have a check up with a doc to find out what is driving the emotional outbursts. “Mom, I have seen you get yourself really upset sometimes, maybe a check up with your doc would be a good idea.”
      What I like about this one is that it lays the groundwork. The next time she blows up, “Mom did you get that check up yet?” Your tone here is that of concern, you might work your way into, “Mom, it’s unusual for a person to get upset like that. What’s going on.”

      Honestly though, I have several family members who are locked into perceiving slights and overreacting. There does not seem to be a fix for that, unless they recognize the problem and want to fix it.

      Just my opinion but the learning to apologize part is easier comparatively. “I’m sorry.” That is it. That is an apology. You probably already do this, if you bump someone in the grocery store or if you catch yourself letting a door go in someone’s face. Use this as your building block to add on to. With apologizes less words is usually better. With apologies, explanations come across as excuses. So skip the explanations. If it seems to make sense, explain how you will not make that mistake again in the future. This is a good thing to do in the Wplace and it can sometimes be very impressive to friends. “I forgot to call you back, so I decided the next time I have to wait to call you back, I will set a timer on my phone so that I remember.” In this example, your friend might even be a little flattered that you decided the friend was worth the extra step.

    5. Laura*

      Check out Captain Awkward. She’s the Ask A Manager equivalent for difficult families and relationships and has given some great scripts to others in similar situations.

    6. Kuododi*

      My mother is a raging narcissist, racist and a whole bunch of other stuff. What’s happening now is she has a brain injury which has left her with Alzheimer’s-type dementia. As the dementia has progressed, her social filters have vanished as well as her impulse control. So, what that leaves us with is a woman who has the emotional stability of a toddler, and will do things like set the dining room tablecloth on fire for no particular reason. I would really like to correct her and “make her understand” when she pops off with her latest horrible racist notion, tell me for the hundreth time why I should be at least 15lbs less than I currently weigh, or speak abusively to other members of the family….the best I can do is refuse to engage with her venom against me or others in the family. I simply tell her I will not continue this line of conversation and walk off to the kitchen or bathroom for a minute. If she’s talking inappropriately about others, I redirect her as best as I can and if we’re out in public with her unwilling to cooperate, I just take her back home..This isn’t one that can be fixed….but it isn’t one that has to be endured.

    7. ..Kat..*

      The Out of the Fog website is also good. Lots of info, teaches you tools you can use.

      They answer your questions and so much more.

      Sadly, many of us have had to resort to no relationship with a parent like this for our own self protection. Good luck.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Just an aside, reading Captain Awkward or Out of the Fog involves delving into painful areas. Many people need time to process these sites, because it brings up old, painful stuff. Give yourself time to feel strong emotions – to be angry, cry, grieve. Don’t read too much at once – it can be very emotionally and mentally draining.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          That’s a really good point.

          Pete Walker’s website has good tips on dealing with some of the effects on your psyche.

  34. MechanicalPencil*

    I recently moved into a new place, which I love. My post is actually two fold.

    How do I find motivation to unpack when I’m tired from weekday activities, being sick with the crud, and just life. I also have decision paralysis.

    Also. I want to update my look/furniture from post-college to something more me. What tip do y’all have to make that happen?

    1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      When decorating, I always find one piece that I really love and build around it with complimentary pieces. It keeps me from changing my mind 12 times. And if it takes you a month or two to find and afford those pieces, so be it! It’s better to make sure you really love it than you’re just settling. I also have a Pinterest and it doesn’t always look like it matches but I’m often pinning rooms just for one particular piece that I like. Good luck!!

      1. Rookie Manager*

        I’d second Pinterest or even an old school paper mood board. Pulling together looks and pieces you like helps you try things theoretically make the right decision first time. But you won’t always make the right decision first time.

        It’s ok to get interim pieces too. You may want to stop eating dinner on your lap every night, that doesn’t mean you need a fancy heirloom dining set immediately; get a small extendable table from Ikea until you work out what you want and need.

    2. DanaScully*

      I break everything down into smaller chunks and reward myself on completion. So mine would be: If I clean the bathroom and kitchen, I can play Skyrim for a few hours.

      It doesn’t always work but it does give me a sense of accomplishment, and also means I can sit and enjoy something without thinking about the task I haven’t done yet!

    3. Merci Dee*

      I had the same unpacking problem when I moved. I was tired after a long day of work and didn’t feel like dealing with it. I got comfortable with the idea that I didn’t have to unpack everything right this instant. I would come home at night and unpack at least one box. Most times, that would go really quickly, so I’d unpack two or three more. And I’ll honest here – I felt that I had been pretty ruthless with my pre-packing culling, but there were times I’d open a box to unpack it and decide that most of the stuff could be trashed. I had everything fully unpacked and sorted/stowed within my first month in the new place. I was stunned that I had been able to deal with it in such a relatively short time frame. (I absolutely loathe moving, so, yes, one month was very very short for me.)

    4. CAA*

      For the unpacking — I have a couple of podcasts I really like that I only listen to while I’m doing chores I otherwise would put off. Is there a podcast or audio-book you could enjoy while you are unpacking?

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      Browse the decor sections on Modcloth/Urban Outfitters/Forever 21. I know, I know, these sound super “young” but IMO it’s an easy way to figure out what’s trendy in homewares. Home Goods has lots of stuff but it’s a total hodgepodge and 90% of it isn’t actually stylish. Target is, oddly, very dorm-ish to me, moreso than the stuff on the F21 site.

      Also, browse the wall art sections on Gilt and Wayfair. You’ll start to see the same artists over and over (there is a category of artists who only do wall decor for homes) and you’ll get a sense of what words to google when searching for the best prices. Avoid overly famous works of art as well as completely anonymous “hotel watercolor” works.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Get yourself healed up first. Unpack only the things that you need for today or the next few days. Once you feel better some of your decision making abilities will come back.

      After you feel better, put away the things you are certain about. For example, in my kitchen I put an empty box. Any thing that I was not certain about, I would put in the empty box. This allowed me to get most of the stuff put away. As I got more and more stuff put away I was able to deal with the stuff in the box of undecided things

      It’s also good to realize that none of this is set in stone. Try it one way, if you don’t like it then you can switch it.

    7. Laura*

      When I moved I had a bunch of things I needed to buy, but weren’t super important to have right away (like a TV and houseplants). So I rewarded myself with being “allowed” to buy those things once I got a certain number of boxes unpacked or, in one case, furniture built. I found that highly motivating since they were things I really wanted and had budgeted for.

    8. Catarina*

      I moved in 2004 and I’m still not done unpacking. You’re quite hard on yourself. :p

      As far as decorating and furniture, I found it more helpful to live in the house a bit to understand my new flow and habits first. For example, I originally bought a little table to toss keys and mail on. It turned out that we stopped using that door once winter hit, and it made more sense to hang a keyhook on the kitchen wall near the mudroom entrance.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Don’t go crazy. Un pack the kitchen. Unpack the clothes. And live with boxes. I unpacked my last box three years in. Oh that’s where I packed the scissors.

  35. AnnaleighUK*

    Tooth Fairy is on Film4 and R and I cannot stop laughing. Why has it taken me so long to see this utterly ridiculous movie!

    Going to see Jumanji tomorrow too, it’s obviously a silly film weekend.

    1. Red Reader*

      Jumanji was remarkably entertaining. I’ve never had a very high opinion of Jack Black as an actor, but he did a really good job of playing the same teenage girl as the actual teenage actress.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I love Jack Black, and thought this was another fun role for him. My two favorite movies he’s done (besides the Kung Fu Panda movies, because those are priceless) are Shallow Hal and Goosebumps.

        Now that I think about it, I’ve seen him in tons of kids’ movies, thanks to watching tv with my mini-me as she was growing up.

      2. Don't Blame Me*

        My husband and I were just talking about this! I actually think Jack Black is a great actor, it’s just that he’s so often asked to play a version of himself (or his public persona, anyway) that you don’t really notice. We thought he was great in Jumanji.

    2. Merci Dee*

      My daughter and I saw Jumanji before Christmas, and we loved it. It’s a fun and silly movie, and you’ll enjoy it if you know going in that it’s not high-brow fare.

        1. Merci Dee*

          It’s a sequel. There’s one point where the characters are sitting around a tropical-type shelter, and there’s a close-up that shows where “Alan Parrish was here” has been carved into a beam. That’s the name of the character that Robin Williams played in the original movie. One of the players mentions he found the shelter, and that he didn’t build it.

          Also, at the start of the movie, someone finds the Jumanji board game on the beach in 1996 and brings it home to his son. The son doesn’t want to play it and goes back to his video game system. During the night, the jungle drums start to play and a green light glows in the box – when the son notices and opens the box, the game has transformed into a video game cartridge. Weird (or weirder, anyway) thing is, son doesn’t seem disturbed by this and decides to play the video game. Naturally, wacky hijinks ensue.