weekend free-for-all – March 24-25, 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: The Amateur Marriage, by Anne Tyler. A multi-generational saga, all stemming from a marriage that probably shouldn’t have happened.

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

{ 1,415 comments… read them below }

  1. Grandma Mazur*

    Recommendations for young children’s books that deal with social issues?

    We have an eight-month-old to whom we read once or twice a day, and I’m getting a bit bored of books that are about dinosaurs and underpants. We just got Our Twitchy, about a rabbit who’s adopted by a cow and horse, from a charity shop, and it made me want to get other books that actually help raise awareness about the world, not just rhymes and vocabulary (we’ll still read those as well, but they’re easier to find without recommendations).

    So, what books would you recommend, covering topics such as adoption, trans issues, racism, bullying, death, etc, for very young children? I don’t mind that they won’t all be suitable for toddlers specifically, as I’d like to build up a library that stays useful for a good few years – I am a former academic and my husband’s an avid reader of fiction, so we’re planning that there’ll be have *a lot* of books in the child’s room – but the younger the age range the better at this stage.

    Thanks! (in a few years time, I’ll come back for YA fiction suggestions :-) )

    1. Truffles*

      Not sure if this fits the bill, but I’m a fan of the book Humans of New York Stories by Brandon Stanton. It’s a photo series of people in the streets of New York, accompanied by quotes from each person. I find that the stories cover a diverse range of topics, and the photos could be interesting for a young child. There are a couple other books in the series that are more focused on photographs rather than quotes, but I prefer having the stories beside each photo. I enjoy Brandon’s blog, too. He regularly posts photos and interviews of people he’s encountered in his travels.

    2. JustAnotherLibrarian*

      My best recommendation is to go to your library and ask the youth librarian there. Some libraries separate out this kind of picture book nonfiction to make it easy to find and in some, it’s in with all the others and you have to do a search.
      I don’t know of anything for this age on trans issues. I recall a couple of good Mr. Rogers books on death, kindness (the opposite of bullying), and possibly different ways of becoming a family. (Might be out of print.) I always liked “The Skin You Live In” for racial differences. Many years ago I used “My Body is My Own” to cover “private parts” and consent-type ideas but there is probably something newer and better out there by now. I also like “For Every Child” which covers some of the principles of the Rights of the Child adopted by the UN.
      I applaud your regular reading but at 8 months, the topics might not matter as much as the closeness of a lapsit and your tone and affection while reading, which will give the child warm fuzzies related to the experience and set the stage for a love of reading later.
      Again, ask your local children’s librarian because she will be up on the latest research and the newer books. There is also the 1000 books before kindergarten movement…

      1. Cor*

        I like It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny. It’s about a bunny who doesn’t want to be a bunny anymore and tries being lots of other things before he realizes that bring a bunny is best after all. Not super deep, but a good message, I think.

        I remember the Berenstain Bears having books about sharing and bullying and such when I was growing up.

      2. MarianCSRA*

        Maybe Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman: Jacob, who likes to wear dresses at home, convinces his parents to let him wear a dress to school, too.

      3. Another Anonymous Librarian*

        Seconding the 1k books before kindergarten program! We do a lot of it, and if your local library isn’t aware of it, I believe there’s an app. Your local children’s librarian will know good books, but I also recommend:
        Prince and Prince (and sequel, King & King)
        And Tango Makes Three
        Mommy, Mama, and Me
        It’s Okay to be Different
        The Feelings Book
        Pete the Cat (anything in this series is good)

    3. Jules the Third*

      These should all be available at every library:
      Heather Has Two Mommies is becoming a classic
      The Snowy Day or any Ezra Jack Keats helps normalize non-whiteness.
      Seuss’s Sneetches, Horton’s, Lorax are still great (I did purchase all these and read them to pieces)

      I also liked Max and the Tag-along Moon, and I linked to a curated list at Pragmatic Mom.

      1. Julianne*

        Peter’s Chair and A Whistle for Willy by Ezra Jack Keats are also great. I’d especially recommend Peter’s Chair for younger kids who are getting/got new siblings.

    4. MarianCSRA*

      Children’s librarian here. I like the Lola books by Anna McQuinn, Global Babies by The Global Fund for Babies, Yoko by Rosemary Wells, and Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena. There’s also a great blog called Everyday Diversity that has some good suggestions. School Library Journal also has a great list titled A Diverse Book List for the Under Five Set. You can find both easily in a Google search (which will also bring up a bunch of other helpful results).

      I also highly recommend asking for suggestions from the children’s librarian at your local public library.

    5. An*

      There’s “Good night stories for rebel girls”. You don’t have to be a girl to enjoy it, but it’s for children a bit older than yours. But it might be a good read in a couple of years, and it has incredible illustrations!

      There are some danish books about “Niller Pilfinger”, who is a child with two moms. It’s just a fact that he has two moms, and it’s never really discussed in the books. You might have to buy them online and in danish, but the words have been translated and can be found here; http://nillerpilfinger.dk/niller-pilfinger-in-english/

    6. Not That Jane*

      We found a list of children’s books to teach compassion. Three of my favorites from that list:
      – A Sick Day for Amos McGee (zoo animals visit their sick friend. Beautiful artwork)
      – A Chair for My Mother (non-traditional family dealing with the aftermath of a fire)
      – Out of the Blue (story in pictures about helping a stranded sea creature)

      1. Book Lover*

        A Sick Day for Amos McGee is absolutely gorgeous. I am always looking for more by the artist.

        Mem Fox – Whoever you are – is a nice one for the message, though the art isn’t my thing really.

        I recommend Emily Gravett to everyone with kids because her books are quirky and amazing, and her most recent, Old Hat is a good one for your purposes, I think.

      2. NoName*

        A Chair for My Mother was the book in one of my favorite episodes of Reading Rainbow ever! (The episode focuses on teamwork. It’s a cheesy episode with a dance/musical number about fighting a fire. But it is the one that seemed to be on every time I turned on PBS growing up, and it always makes me nostalgic.)

      3. Not That Jane*

        Oh, I should add another one! It’s called How Smudge Came. The main character is an adult woman with an intellectual disability who works for a hospice center. Touches on death, loss, difference, difficult feelings. Plus an adorable puppy and a heartwarming ending.

    7. Greed is something we don't need*

      Not a book but there’s movies and tv shows that focus on gay and trans issues for children more, one that comes to mind is Queer kid stuff on YouTube

    8. Canadian Natasha*

      I love the picture book Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman. (A bunny family adopts a baby wolf and the big sister bunny doesn’t like her new brother at first. It could be a good starting point to talk about different kinds of families and belonging as well as the problems with stereotypes and making assumptions about people)

    9. Peanut*

      How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina Friedman. A great picture book, explaining how the (interracial) narrator’s parents tried to learn how the other eats (one with chopsticks, the other with a knife and fork) when they met. Not heavy handed at all, and a lot is told through the pictures.

    10. Grandma Mazur*

      Thanks for all the great suggestions so far!

      I also have asked for recommendations for German books too, as we’re bringing him up bilingually (it’s hard work!). I already have two “German classics” – both are actually translated from other languages (Hungry Caterpillar and Frederick) – but would be keen to hear what others have enjoyed…

      1. Someone*

        Michael Ende and Paul Maar are two classic German children’s authors that shouldn’t miss in any good German children’s book collection.

        Michael Ende is wise and thoughtfull as well as funny – e.g. “Momo” (one of my all-time favourite books) is just as suitable for adults. “Jim Knopf” is noticeably old-fashioned but still a nice read.

        Paul Maar is very funny and witty and loves to play with words. I can’t imagine a child not liking “Das Sams”. For smaller children learning to read and write, “Der Buchstabenfresser” is nice, too.

        But for both authors you should absolutely check their other books, too. They are classics for a reason.

        Other nice books for younger children:
        “Die kleine Hexe”
        “Das kleine Quadrat” (best if done with the corresponding origami)

        1. Someone*

          Oh, and I just googled and skimmed the books for books that sound familiar…
          “Der Regenbogenfisch” is good, too (no idea about it’s origin – is it popular in other countries, too?)
          “Das kleine Gespenst”
          “Vom kleinen Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat” is not socially educating, and I never read it myself, but I couldn’t help learning that this is a popular children’s book

          1. Grandma Mazur*

            Excellent suggestions – Der Regenbogenfisch we’ve borrowed from the local German playgroup’s collection, and I have Momo (in English) and Jim Knopf (in German) – but I don’t know the others and hadn’t heard of Paul Maar, so this is very exciting. Thanks!

            1. Someone*

              And I just remembered that when I was a child, we had a box full of “Pixi-Bücher”.
              They’re an entire series of small picture books with different protagonists/story lines (I remember Conni and Pixi).

            2. Someone*

              Paul Maar is really an excellent author – the only thing between him and world fame is his insistence on playing with language (and it’s his strength, too). Most of his books would be impossible to translate – they have a plot hinging on misunderstandings at the very least, and frequently the word games form the entire plot.
              E.g. the Sams is a creature that only appears after a days have been “true to their meaning” for a full week – as in, Sun on Sunday, visit by Mr. Mon on Monday, work on Tuesday (Dienst), middle of the week on Wednesday (Mitt(e)), thunder on Thursday (Donner), no work on Friday (frei) – then, on Saturday (Samstag), the Sams will be there! Granting wishes that use up the blue dots in it’s face. Making silly rhymes and deliberately misunderstanding obnoxious people.
              …even the basic plot can’t be explained without translating the words. But it is definitely a very fun series (I would totally read the books again if I happened be alone in a room with them).

              Somehow a background process has been running in the back of my head for the entire day, scanning my childhood memories for more books.

              “Die Olchis” – building on the fact that many children are fascinated with yucky things – the Olchis live in a dumpster, eat garbage and get sic from normal food. I remember liking a book from that series.

              “Lurchi” – in fact an elaborate marketing scheme targeted at children. It markets shoes. But it has gained cult status, and personally I have to say that the marketing aspect went right over my head (if you don’t KNOW it’s shoes from a special company, it’s just special shoes). The series is a nice read; and the older, classic books are written in rhymes which make them very suitable for reading them aloud.

            3. NiceOrc*

              I can see why The Rainbow Fish is popular, and I like the theme of sharing, but I can’t help reading it as a story of a fish who was told it should give away everything that made it special and stand out, and make everyone else look great while it fades into the background of ordinariness. But I’m a cynical old bag so that’s just my take! I like The very quiet cricket by Eric Carle, and I’m Here by Peter Reynolds. But just reading to your child is the best thing you can do. When my children were babies the bedtime story was usually whatever I was reading (textbooks, fantasy, etc) but the tone of voice was most important. Stories read during the day were more of a conversation about the book, not just reading TO my child. You’re right that if you’re bored by the books, your child will probably pick up on that too. Have fun – a story and a cuddle were always our favourite times!

        2. Jane of all Trades*

          Absolutely agree that Paul Maar is fantastic. I also recommend das kleine Gespenst and die kleine Hexe as well as the Ritter Rost series. Also Astrid lindgrens books, translated into German, are fantastic, for younger children her books Tomte Tummetot and the Matilda series are great. I also recommend James Krüss for older children, eg der Leuchtturm auf den Hummerklippen. Also Janosch.
          And for English language books that touch upon social issues, maybe take a look at “a mighty girl” – they have a lot of recommend readings on a lot of issues!

      2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I also grew up bilingual and just loved translated Calvin and Hobbes comics! And Asterix and Obelisk (sp?)

      3. LK03*

        We’re doing bilingual German/English too — my daughter is almost 2, but we’ve been collecting books since she was tiny. My partner (he’s the German-speaking one…it’s his second language but he lived in Germany for several years) gets recommendations from German parenting blogs and so on. Two favorites so far are by the author/illustrator pair Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler — they’re translated from English, but apparently popular in Germany — Der Grueffelo (The Gruffalo) and Fuer Hund und Katz ist auch noch Platz (Room on the Broom). We’ve also really liked some non-fiction science books from Ravensburger that are large-format but made of stiff paper, with tabs and flaps to open and look behind. We’ve got one on the weather and one on the parts of the body, so far.

        By the way, for German kids’ music — we’re not TV people at all and our kid’s only screen time is Skype with relatives, but my partner was familiar with the German TV show “Die Sendung mit der Maus” from when he lived in Germany, and ordered a whole set of CDs from the show. They are mostly music but with some spoken-word storytelling, too. I think the music is great, not annoying to listen to repeatedly at all, and our kid loves them too (though she hasn’t been as interested in the spoken-word stories as in the songs so far). My German isn’t very good, so the German board books and all the Maus CDs are good for me too!

        1. Someone*

          “Die Sendung mit der Maus” is definitely a very integral part of German upbringing. The “Käpt’n Blaubär” stories are particularly good, other popular stories are “Der kleine Maulwurf” and “Der kleine Eisbär”.
          “Löwenzahn” is another well-known TV show aimed at children, and also educational.

          Other non-book-media I’d recommend are the audio dramas(plays?) “Benjamin Blümchen” and “Bibi Blocksberg”.
          When I was a bit older I also liked to read the children’s science magazine GEOlino.

          A book which I remembered while writing this because we had it as an audio book: “Herr Klingsor konnte ein bisschen zaubern”.

          1. Grandma Mazur*

            Thanks for all these ideas! I loved the Bibi Blocksberg stories as a kid (I still have the cassettes, but no means of playing them) – but I think they’re on You Tube…

        2. Jane of all Trades*

          For audio you might also enjoy Rolf Zukowski’s children’s songs. A lot of them are classics at this point!
          Also “Augsburger Puppenkiste”

      4. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

        Briefe von Felix and its sequels! I loved those because the letters Felix sends are in the books in actual envelopes and it was so fun to open them as a kid and take out the ‘handwritten’ letters!

    11. Kuododi*

      I adore “The Paper bag Princess” as a book for empowering younger girls. Unfortunately I’m drawing a blank on the author… I’m sure someone out there will be able to jump in and help!!!

      1. Aealias*

        Robert Munsch.

        His “Love you forever” and “Lighthouse” are wonderful stories about ageing and loss. They both make me cry, but my kids love them.

        All the other Munsch books are rollicking and silly and strongly recommended. The illustrations are based on pictures of specific actual kids, after whom the characters are named, so there’s some diversity. (Michael Martchenko, who does most of the illustrations, is brilliant.) They’re not generally about social issues, though.

        For babies and toddlers, I can’t shout loudly enough for “No Matter What,” by Debi Gliori, a simple board book about toddlers moods and unconditional love. I like that neither character is gendered, so the story’s a bit more universal.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          “Love You Forever” tends to be one of those love it or hate it books (full disclosure, I’m in category 2), but Robert Munsch’s work is generally really fun to read, especially out loud.

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            Plus, all of his books are read aloud — by him! — and available for free on his website (linked in my name)

          2. Elizabeth H.*

            I’m definitely in the second camp too. It’s horrifying and I wouldn’t allow it into my house, LOL.

    12. Melody Pond*

      I’m surprised no one’s mentioned this one yet!

      John Oliver, from Last Week Tonight on HBO, just released a children’s book called “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” (like, released it within the last week). He’s basically trolling Mike Pence with it. The Pence family has a legitimately awesome pet rabbit named Marlon Bundo, and John Oliver released his book on the exact same day that the Pence family released their children’s book called “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President”.

      John Oliver’s book tells the story of Marlon Bundo meeting and falling in love with another boy rabbit, and them wanting to get married. Apparently there’s a big stink bug in the book who is very against them getting married because they are both boys. And the stink bug bears a striking resemblance to a certain vice president of ours. :)

      I haven’t read it yet, but was thinking of buying it. Apparently it was way more popular than they expected, so they actually sold out, but they are reprinting another large batch of books which will be ready in a few weeks. It’s available on Amazon, and I believe the proceeds are all going to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.

      1. Windchime*

        I was going to suggest this book as well. It looks like a lovely children’s book and the proceeds go to a good cause. I’m planning to order one for a family member who will be having a baby very soon.

      2. Typhon Worker Bee*

        I listened to the audiobook version on Thursday and it was delightful! It was read by Jim Parsons, with some other celebrity guest appearances too. I might order a hard copy later, for the illustrations – assuming they make it available in Canada soon.

    13. HannahB*

      Where to start! I’m a elementary school teacher, and I use picture books all the time to illustrate theme, or address an issue.
      – Not a Narwhal
      – Paper bag Princess by Robert Munsch. A kick ass princess defeats the dragon with smarts and rescues the prince.
      – And Tango Makes Three. About the gay penguins at the NYC zoo.

      You are entering a wonderful world! Find a good independent book store and fall down the rabbit hole!

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Not only does the Paper Bag Princess rescue her prince from the dragon, she also decides that it’s not a good idea to marry a person who doesn’t respect her. I love that.

    14. HannahS*

      And Tango Makes Three is about the true story of two male penguins who adopted an egg and raised a baby penguin together. The pictures are lovely watercolours.

    15. Ranon*

      There’s a micropress called Flamingo Rampant that puts out “feminist, racially-diverse, LGBTQ positive children’s books” – we’re still at the board book stage in my house, but I’ve heard great things about their books: https://flamingorampant.com

    16. Rookie Manager*

      A book about grief is Dogged by Shirley Hughes. Absolutely beautiful illustrations and a way to talk about loss that kids can really relate too. 8 months might be a bit early though! ;)

    17. only acting normal*

      Books I’ve bought for nieces and nephews and been sorely tempted to keep for myself. Probably most are suitable for when they’re a little bit older.
      “Dogs don’t do ballet” by Anna Kemp (following dreams / assumptions based on appearances about who can do what)
      “My little book of big freedoms” by Chris Riddell (Universal Human Rights Act)
      “Black Dog” by Levi Pinfold (unwarranted fear of the unknown)
      “Aesop’s Fables” illustrated by Helen Ward (also written by her: “Tin Forest” and “Varmints” are about ecological threat)

      1. Julianne*

        There exists a book called Giraffes Don’t Dance (or maybe Can’t Dance) that I think is similar to your first suggestion. I haven’t read it, but a few of my colleagues who teach K and 1st use it.

    18. Paris Geller*

      I’m a Youth Services Librarian, so these kinds of questions are what I field daily. Ones I typically recommend:

      The Family Book & It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
      Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima (this one is very new!)
      A is for Activist (board book)
      Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (this is one that has a lot of trans themes)
      Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
      Introducing Teddy by Jess Walton
      Stella Brings the Family by Miriam Schiffer
      This Day in June by Gayle E Pitman (book about Pride that is definitely geared very young with few words per page)
      One Family by George Shannon
      Home at Last by Vera Williams

    19. Indoor Cat*

      Hmm. When I was a kiddo, I had quite a few books that were about social / relationship issues that had a good message while still being playful rather than preachy (no kid likes a lecture, even if it has pictures).

      –“Officer Buckle and Gloria” by Peggy Newman. The message? Some people’s talent is obvious and rewarded; other talents are more hidden and less applauded. But everyone should use their talents together to make the world better, rather than compete and compare ourselves to one another. The illustrations are amazing and hilarious, and it won a well-deserved Caldecott award in 1994.

      –“The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton. The message: Constantly wanting “more, more, more!” and “new, new, new!” makes us neglect and overlook perfectly good old things. An explicit anti-pollution, pro-recycling message, and an implicit ‘respect your culture’s traditions even if they’re not cool’ message.

      –“Corduroy” by Don Freeman. My favorite picture book with a black girl co-protagonist. The message: You don’t have to be perfect to be loveable, and you don’t need to judge yourself by the standards of the people “in charge.”

      –“If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand” by Kali Dakos. Connected poems that tell stories about kids in a classroom. Some are about serious issues, like a girl who is being raised by foster parents. Some are about smaller serious issues, like a girl who is fat and asks her teacher if she’ll be ‘thin and beautiful’ when she grows up, and the teacher has a wise answer. And some are just funny.

      When I got a bit older, like 6-7 age, I started reading a *ton* of books, through the library, about history and zoology. All the zoobooks and NatGeo Kids and Discovery books had explicit environmental messages along the lines of, “This cool animal you just read about? It’s on the BRINK OF EXTINCTION.” Which definitely made an impact in what I did with my life, a lot more than any general pro-environment book.

      There are tons of kid-appropriate historical stories, (Dear America series, for example; I was also very into Harriet Tubman and Sacagawea in second grade, and pretty much every report or project I did that year involved one of them) which, like the zoobooks, made me care about social issues a lot more than a story with an obvious moral lesson re: treating people with respect.

    20. fposte*

      Where are you located, GM? The “charity shop” locution suggests you’re not in the US, so some of the books us US folks suggest might not be available to you. Hopefully your local library still is, though.

      Some things to consider beyond the message: one, the age of the books. For instance, Heather Has Two Mommies had its groundbreaking place in 1994, but it’s not, IMHO, a great book even after revisions have improved it; there are more and better picturebooks now about kids with same-sex parents. Hold out for a good book, not just a good message. Two: think also about representation–books like Snowy Day and, if you’re in the UK, Amazing Grace are really nice, but they’re books by white people about black kids. Make sure that your diversity isn’t only in what’s represented but also in who the creative talent is–black people make books about black kids too :-).

      If you have access to US books, every year the American Library Association has awards in several relevant categories for you: there’s the Coretta Scott King Awards, for books about the African American experience; the Pura Belpré Awards, for books about the Latinx experience; and the Schneider Family Book Award, for books about the disability experience. It’s easy to find lists of previous award winners (you might even be able to search in Amazon for the award names); while not every book is a long-term great, it’s a good way to find books focusing on representations that you won’t always see foregrounded elsewhere.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        I had no idea Ezra Jack Keats was white – that’s crazy. (I used to work as children’s book specialist at a bookstore so I am especially shocked) I was actually about to comment *correcting* you but looked it up first!

          1. Bibliovore*

            And if you are looking for great “Keatsian” type books, there is the Ezra Jack Keats Award from the Keats Foundation identifying new writers and illustrators.

      2. Grandma Mazur*

        Am in the UK but am guessing all books are accessible via inter-library loan if one can wait awhile! Thanks for the point about representation – hadn’t occurred to me although it really should have. Will pay attention to this.

    21. Anonymous bookworm*

      Try a magazine subscription from Cricket Media. They have a variety of magazines for different ages, and the stories and art are from all over the world. Some of the characters carry over from issue to issue. They start with BabyBug, for the under 3 set, then have two lines after that, one more literary, and one more science-based. I think you can ask for single issues from them, to see if you like it. I got them as a kid from my grandmother and loved them, and have given them to nieces and nephews.

    22. Yetanotherjennifer*

      If you happen to have a boy, one of the most radical things you can do, apparently, is read him stories with a female protagonist. It’s generally accepted that girls will read books from anyone’s point of view while boys can only read books with a male protagonist.

      And I hear you on the dinosaurs, but “the day dinosaurs came with everything” is delightful.

    23. It’s All Good*

      Most of the Dr Suess books hold a child’s attention because of the fun words and pictures. Then when they are older you can discuss the message behind them. In example – the Sneeches, which can go either way for racism or classism.

      I miss the days of reading everyday with babies and toddlers. I swear our kids have empathy partly because of all the reading we exposed them to.

    24. Totally Minnie*

      “I am a Baby” by Kathryn Madeleine Allen is a good one. It’s got photographs instead of illustrations, and it shows a wide array of family compositions. There’s also “A Mother for Choco,” which is a metaphor for foster care and cross-racial adoption.

    25. Nacho*

      Only one I can really think of is Heather Has Two Mommies, because it got a fair amount of press a while ago.

    26. Amtelope*

      I agree with many of these recs! As a lesbian mom, I think Heather Has Two Mommies was important and groundbreaking, but I would choose newer books to introduce the idea of diverse families today. Heather Has Two Mommies is very much about Heather having two mommies, and that’s not something that today I would necessarily introduce to a young kid as weird/unusual/noteworthy, rather than as a normal way some families are. (And it was mostly baffling to my daughter, who as a preschooler mostly knew other kids with two mommies, and couldn’t figure out why this was interesting.)

    27. InternWrangler*

      The Ten Good Things about Barney is about grief and loss.
      Amazing Grace is a beautiful story that celebrates diversity.
      Father Bruce is delightful, easily one of my favorite books.
      Ira sleeps over is a great book that talks about anxiety without expecting people to be brave.

    28. Anono-me*

      The Golden Treasure by Maryke Reesink.
      It deals with selfishness and entitlement and what makes something truly valuable. The illustrations by artist Jaap Tor are incredible. It is an older book and you would probably need to buy it online second hand, but I think that it is beautiful art and a beautiful story.

    29. LilySparrow*

      Well, my theory is that if you instill the right principles, the issues sort themselves out. And most “issue oriented” little kids’ books I’ve seen are either cheesy or horribly pedantic. Social issues rarely benefit from the oversimplification toddlers and preschoolers need.

      One principle-oriented one I like is “Like likes like” by Chris Rashka.
      It’s about a little cat who can’t find a friend, but spends time seeing how beautiful the world is, and then finds another cat to enjoy it with. The pictures and language are lovely. I didn’t see any social message in it, but some bigoted relatives got very upset, variously claiming it “promoted homosexuality” or “promoted interracial relationships.” So there’s that.

      “Corduroy” and “The Snowy Day” are classics with children of color as protagonists, having normal kid lives.
      I think it’s important to raise kids to think of everyone as having the same kind of feelings and needs as themselves, not just as a backdrop to an issue. That’s another downside to a lot of the “issue” kids books I’ve seen. They often leave a taste in my mouth as if the protagonist is a symbol instead of a person the young reader can identify with.

    30. Amy*

      My 19-month old loves “The Worst Princess,” which is a picture book about a princess who breaks gender norms and basically becomes a mini Danerys Targaryen (with dragon). It’s cute and funny.

      Another favorite is “Alphabet Family Band” which isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but is about a Hawaiian family singing the alphabet. There are surprisingly few books that have characters who are all people of color, and this is a good one.

      She’s grown out of it a bit now, but “The Sounds Around Town” was a huge favorite for a while. It features people of different races speaking different languages.

      We tried “She Persisted” but it didn’t hold her attention – I think she’s just too young for it. We also tried the “Little Feminist Board Book Set” which features women leaders from around the world and is unbelievably cute, but she didn’t really get into it even though it’s made for the baby/toddler set. YMMV.

      Good luck, and thanks for starting this thread – I’m going to steal some of these suggestions!

    31. Fireye2*

      Favorites of mine that haven’t already been mentioned include:
      “Her Right Foot” by Dave Eggers
      “Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed A Neighborhood” by F. Isabel Campoy
      “A Chair For My Mother” by Vera B. Williams
      and when they are older “Escape from Aleppo” by N.H. Senzai are my recommendations.

      Try using “Social Justice” in your searching and you’ll find a ton of books on all sorts of topics that will help lead you!

    32. Tuna Casserole*

      1. Any book by Robert Munsch
      2. Hands are not for Hitting by Martine Agassi
      3. Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz
      4. Rosa Loves Dinosaurs by Jessica Spanyol
      5. Two Dads: A book about adoption by Carolyn Robertson
      6. Zack the Prairie Dog: A Prairie Tale to Promote Autism Awareness and the Acceptance of Differences, in Yourself and in Others by S. Charles Decker

    33. LilySparrow*

      I just remembered the “ordinary people change the world” series by Brad Meltzer. Little biographies of historical figures as children, really fun illustrations. I’d say they’d work as a read-aloud for older toddlers and preschoolers and up, or a self-read for newly independent readers. He’s got an interesting selection of subjects and pulls out details that would be interesting to kids (like Amelia Earhart building a giant bobsled, basically, to launch herself in the air.

      He’s got Ghandi, Jane Goodall, MLKJr, Lucille Ball, Jackie Robinson, and lots more. I think the series is still growing.

    34. Mephyle*

      Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis. A wonderful story of a young boy who has to learn some lessons about proper behaviour, but when he is challenged by a great adventure, he steps up and acts responsibly. It is also a historical novel about the African diaspora in U.S. and Canada. Elements include slavery, the Underground Railroad and the meaning of freedom.

    35. ket*

      I just got “Please, Baby, Please” by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee. It doesn’t actually address what you’re asking for, but it’s adorable and addresses the day-to-day and features a black family.

      For something “deeper” I’ve actually been reading old rhyming poetry and old fairy tales/stories for kids from the 1940s, etc. The rhyming poetry seems soothing to my kid even if it’s Anne Bradstreet talking about death or Edgar Allen Poe talking about bells (I mean death). The old stories have heroes and heroines who trick people and do dodgy things. They’re about getting enough food to eat and avoiding death, rather than about self-esteem. It’s an interesting change of pace.

      “A Different Pond” by Bao Phi and Thi Bui has gotten very good reviews — they were out when I looked at the bookstore. Father-son fishing story that’s about beginning a new life as a refugee, leaving Vietnam, fishing for food not just recreation, but none of it in a preachy or heavy-handed way — just in a quiet and reflective story.

    36. Pol*

      My parents would read me The Lupine Lady from age 1.5 or so, it really affected my view on generational inheritance. Might require more vacabulary, however (I’m not sure- they would translate it for me, as we don’t speak English at home)

      Just another ordinary day (Rod Clement) is hilarious. It doesn’t deal with social issues, though. It’s mostly absurd with picture-text contrasts (the story is very banal, the pictures show a much wilder reality. I guess you could use it to illustrate how the terms you choose to describe something are themselves a judgement, but that is also for older ages than 8 months. Though, awesome pictures)

      1. bunners*

        Oh man, the Lupine Lady is properly called Miss Rumphius and it’s by Barbara Cooney. I was actually going to mention it if nobody else did. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book it’s about a girl/woman named Alice who is carrying on her grandfather’s legacy of traveling to far away places, coming home to live by the sea, and (this is the kicker) making the world a more beautiful place. It had a massive influence on my understanding of a person’s ability to influence the world *and* the importance of caring for the planet.

        Last year my family started carrying homemade seed bombs and small bags of native Californian wildflowers with a focus on bee and butterfly friendly seeds (super heavy on the milkweed – Monarch butterflies depend on that plant for almost everything and as the plant vanishes so do Monarch butterflies) and whenever we went on a walk or hike we’d “do a Miss Rumphius” and sow seeds. The areas we planted last year are starting to grow now and some of the flowers are blooming – and you’ve never seen a more excited 5 year old than mine when she saw the first patch of poppies she’d planted.

        Caveats: it’s a little advanced for a toddler – I’d say it’s a 4 and up book? Also, it’s from 1982 and is set in the late 1800s/early 1900s and there’s a little “far away places = exotic natives” subtext (although in my family we’ve always used that bit as a moment to talk about learning from other cultures and what do we consider far away places? And then we get out the globe – we’re currently learning about Iceland because of this tactic and my child deeming it “the far-est away place” and are planning a family holiday there. Homeschooling as a way of life!)

    37. SharedDriveUser*

      Ping – set in China, Ping is lost and has to find the way home. It’s a classic story that speaks to children of all ages/types/groups. All of us feel lost and abandoned at some time! And my stepson loved it, gave multiple copies to friends who adopted/fostered children of different races and/or national origin.

    38. OtterB*

      Not yet mentioned:

      Lifetimes, by Mellonie and Ingpen, about death. It talks about how everything has a beginning and an ending, and in between is living.

      Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolen. The fact that the little girl who raises the dragon from an egg is black is not central to the story. The message has to do with family love and becoming yourself, with hard work along the way.

      (Not a picture book, but a little later) Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess books have great fun overturning some of the classic fairy tale tropes, and Harriet Hamsterbone is not going to put off by any expectations about what princesses are supposed to do. Vernon’s Dragonbreath books are also good kid fun.

    39. cleo*

      Ashley Bryan’s ABC of African American Poetry – beautifully illustrated sampler of African American poetry.

    40. Autumn anon*

      Sophie Labelle writes and draws comics about trans kids. It’s mostly a webcomic, but she definitely has printed books that contain the same cast of characters but different stories which could work for you, and I would definitely recommend her for trans issues. Her main motivation was to make stories for trans people about trans people by a trans person who gets it (her) rather than a cis person who may try but might not understand fully, but apparently they’re really educational for cis people too. I’m not sure how good they’d be for very young children, but they’re not really complicated so they might work for children over five or six? I think they’d at least be worth looking at to see what you think.

    41. Pathfinder Ryder*

      When the kid gets a bit older, Disability in Kidlit (middle grade and young adult) and Rich in Color (YA) are great resources for book suggestions and reviews.

    42. dragonzflame*

      There’s one that I guess is a bit heavy, but a really important theme, called Uncle Willy’s Tickles – it’s about bodily autonomy and a child’s right to say no. Uncle tickles a kid a lot, kid doesn’t like it, tells mum, they find a way to respectfully ask uncle to stop, uncle says sure, no problem.

      I also like The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton (she of the Hark! A Vagrant webcomics) – it’s a funny, silly story but I see a lot of good messages in it about doing the best with what you’ve got etc (unless I’m reading into it too much).

    43. Phy*

      Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers depicts families of all ages, genders, and races but its not specifically about social issues.

    44. Kat*

      for really little kids I would recommend “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” (all about diversity and how babies are different but still so alike), and “Everywhere Babies” which has awesome diversity both in the text and in the pictures. And both are geared towards babies specifically. Both of mine have loved them.

  2. Nancy*

    Where to get maternity clothes? Have no relatives or friends who can give me hand-me-downs. I’ve checked thredup and there’s nothing. I also went to Motherhood Maternity and tried some on. They don’t carry sizes big enough for me (I’m a 16 or 18 pants size and a 1x for shirts). I’ve tried just buying bigger pants but they don’t fit the belly! Help!

    1. LK03*

      One useful thing, at least for the first few months, is a belly band — like “Bella Band” or similar. It’s kind of like a cummerbund made of stretchy material that goes over the waistband of your pants so you can leave your pants unbuttoned or unzipped and the profile is still (mostly) smooth.

      Other than that, I had luck finding maternity clothes and just some sized-up elastic-waist pants (some of which were okay for my business-casual work wear) at my local Goodwill-type charity shop. But I know those can vary a lot by area.

    2. Jules the First*

      Facebook marketplace, freecycle, Craigslist are all decent options. Garage sales or jumble sales also sonetimes come up trumps.

      You can also ask around at your church or community centre to see if they know anyone who is looking to offload some lightly used maternity wear.

    3. Cor*

      I got mine at a Just Between Friends sale. (jbfsale dot com). It’s like a pop up consignment sale held in big cities. It’s mostly toys and kids clothes, but there’s some maternity. There’s nowhere to try on the clothes and the stock is limited to whatever women are purging from the closets that season, but that’s where I got all my stuff (you don’t really need that many items after all).

      Stitch Fix is now doing maternity too!

    4. Temperance*

      Check your local thrift store! Maternity clothes are one of the most often donated things, because they have a limited use.

    5. Anonaternity*

      Some Motherhood stores carry plus sizes; their website might be helpful finding which does. I ordered some stuff from JC Penney online, but I don’t know if they have any in stores. I think old Navy might also have stuff, online only.

    6. MidlifeStudent*

      It appears that both Motherhood and Torrid carry your size. Have you checked there? Having some solid staple pieces that you pay more for can be very valuable, then “making do” with stretch knit dresses, long shirts, yoga pants, etc. I never wore maternity pants much. I hated their fit. Instead I wore yoga pants with the waist folded under my belly with a long shirt overtop. The knit belly bands are nice to cover any belly exposure, and later in your pregnancy the stronger ones help reduce strain on your ligaments. (I do wish someone had told me about the supportive ones.)

      I have seen ThredUp carry maternity, so maybe check occasionally for some in your size.

    7. Amtelope*

      Target has a reasonably-priced maternity line that goes up to XXL, both in stores and online.

    8. Intel Analyst Shell*

      I’m the same size as you and had my baby 4 months ago. I lived in Walmart or Target clothes.

    9. LibbyG*

      Some of those stores for used kid clothes have a maternity section. Good luck! A couple good pairs of pants will do a lot for comfort in late pregnancy!

    10. It’s All Good*

      Congratulations! I wore knit yoga pants that had a folded wide band. My MM had Plus sizes so I was able to get two pants from there. Tops were 2/3x regular tops.

    11. Thursday Next*

      eBay—look for mat clothes sold in a “lot” in your size. And Target has pretty good stuff.

    12. Lima9472*

      If you live in a city, check if there’s a local parents listserv where people sell or give away kids items and mat. clothes, etc. I’ve gotten most of my maternity clothes (and kids’ clothes) that way.

    13. Amy*

      Target and Old Naaaaavy! I bought almost all my maternity gear from them. Yes, they’re cheap and not super high quality, but you’re only going to wear the clothes for a short time. They have stylish options and many of the shirts also double as nursing tops for after the baby is born (and your stomach hasn’t deflated yet). Plus, if you’re nursing in a shirt, you really don’t want it to be a nice garment because there will be bodily fluids of all kinds everywhere.

      I visited a few maternity boutiques like Pea in the Pod and found their stuff really overpriced given the fact that I wouldn’t be wearing it for more than about 6 months.

      Also – you’ll find a lot more online than in brick and mortar stores.

    14. Anona*

      I got a lot of stuff at a children’s consignment sale. They have a lot in the spring and the fall, often advertised on Facebook.

    15. valentine*

      Ashley Stewart has good spandex pieces. Order various sizes to try, but beware of final-sale pieces ($x.97, I think), as they’re not returnable. Jessica London/Woman Within/Roaman’s are an online/catalog family, with JL having the smaller sizes.

  3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    Tw: food issues, disordered eating

    Advice for dating a picky eater?

    New boyfriend has admitted to being one, and it’s messing with my head a bit. I have GI issues, non-GI health issues that require specific diet modifications (sometimes mutually exclusive ones *sigh*), and several food intolerances and vitamin deficiencies. Additionally, while I doubt my symptoms are severe enough to actually get me diagnosed with an eating disorder, I have some major issues around what I eat, when I eat, who gets to see me eat, etc. And a lot of my really “safe” foods are either hideously expensive or much more difficult to find here in the UK, so things have been extra stressful. In conclusion, when I was single, I spent a lot of time thinking about food in generally unpleasant ways.

    And I think his picky eating might just be a bit too much for me. I don’t want to break up with him, but I really feel like having more information about what he eats might help (and maybe sharing some of my own issues; he doesn’t seem to mind if I eat when he’s not, but I have a hard enough time eating around other people when they’re also eating, and I’ve been accidentally skipping a lot of meals because he hasn’t wanted to eat). How can I talk about this with him? I don’t want to shame him or blame him because it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t like his pickiness and wishes he could eat more, but things as they are right now are unsustainable for me in the long run.

    1. Fiennes*

      I’m not sure what it is about his eating that’s troubling you. It sounds like he doesn’t police what or when you eat—is that correct? If so, what specifically makes his pickiness hard on you? That sounds like a key element here.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Some of it is the uncertainty–I often don’t know what I’m going to be able to eat from day to day, and my safest foods are things he doesn’t eat. I also feel really uncomfortable eating in front of other people, especially when I’m the only one eating. I also just don’t want to make him uncomfortable–he hasn’t expressed any feelings about my eating something he doesn’t like in front of him, but how do I know he’s not thinking it even though he’s not saying it?

        What’s been happening is that most of our dates have been 12+ hours recently, covering one or more mealtimes, and because our dates are less food-based than when I’ve been with other people, I just kind of…don’t think to eat? Which isn’t good for me (and, to be fair, is something I struggled with when I was single too–I’d often skip lunch when I was working a 9-5). So 95% of it is just me being weird about it and having my own food issues, but I think having a more indepth conversation about it might make things easier for me. I’m not going to try to encourage him to eat more variety or anything. I just feel kind of overwhelmed by the addition of his food issues to mine, if that makes sense.

        1. Fiennes*

          I don’t think this is a picky eating issue; I think it’s a communication issue. Anyone you regularly spend 12+ hours with will sometimes not be hungry when you are. Also, most of the time, that would be a relationship that was becoming fairly intimate. So I think that if you can open up to him about this, that’s the real solution. The two of you need to come up with ways to cope that work for you both —and if he’s not capable of understanding this and handling it maturely, better for you to know now. Good luck to you both.

        2. KayEss*

          You are thinking about this a lot… is he devoting even a tenth of the emotional energy to this problem that you are? If not, you may have to write this one off as incompatibility. You can be incompatible without one of you being a bad person. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes that’s just life.

          As a picky eater myself, the number one thing that is important for me to feel comfortable with regards to eating with people is that they not comment on or even notice my relationship with individual foods and food in general. I really can’t list what foods I guaranteed will or won’t eat, and TBH thinking about it makes me internally lock up with anxiety. If you and I were dating, knowing that you can’t eat unless I’m eating and were also monitoring my reactions to your food would stress me out a ton and we’d probably be better off breaking up. And that’s okay! That’s just what you need and what I (your boyfriend?) need being incompatible.

          Remember that he has navigated a world of food he dislikes for long enough to become an adult. The only food I’ve ever had to ask my partner to not consume in front of me is canned tuna, because the smell makes me gag, and I was perfectly capable of using my words to negotiate that with him. (Now, if canned tuna was a vital part of a restricted diet for him, it might have rightfully been a huge issue! That pesky incompatibility of needs again.)

          I wish you the best of luck, but seriously, stop shouldering all the work and anxiety about this yourself. You need food to live. You don’t need this dude to live.

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            Eh, we’ve been together for about three months, so the jury’s still out about long-term compatibility. :P I have no idea how much he’s thinking about it other than my general impression that he seems to be uncomfortable with his eating habits and a few things he’s done (that I don’t want to elaborate on for anonymity purposes) that make me think he’s thinking about it a lot, too, even if we’re not discussing it.

            If we’d been together for longer, I’d be more comfortable eating in front of him–I’ll eat in front of family and close friends when they’re not eating, but I’d probably have to be literally about to die before I’d eat in front of a non-eating coworker, and even then I might stress some about it afterwards. It’s very much a Level of Intimacy for me, and I guess I’m not sure if I’m there yet with him or not.

            I do want to push back on one thing, though. It seems like you’re ascribing more conscious intent to my thought processes than there really is here. I’m not thinking like this for fun or specifically because of him, although the anxiety is greater than with a coworker or friend because of the more intense relationship.

            1. KayEss*

              I apologize for sounding overly critical. I’m mostly trying to push back strongly against two underlying cultural assumptions I’m detecting in what you’ve said:

              1) “You are responsible for your partner’s food satisfaction.” This is especially insidious for women with male partners (which may or may not apply to you) and is what I’m trying to get at with the “is he thinking about this as much as you are?” question. You express anxiety over what he feels about the food you are eating–the food you need to eat–when it doesn’t sound like he has indicated at all that it’s a problem. By all means, you can have a conversation about that… but then you do kind of have to trust him that he’ll step forward with any issues. If that’s not going to be possible, it sounds like a lot of stress.

              (Also, is he demonstrating a similar level of care and consideration of your feelings and preferences in this and other areas of your relationship, at three months in? Does he notice that you’re skipping meals when you’re with him? The answers to those questions will provide you important information one way or the other.)

              2) “Food/meal compatibility is not a factor worthy of consideration in relationships.” You are (hopefully) going to eat tens of thousands of meals in your lifetime. You absolutely, 100% deserve to not be on edge during all of them. Or even 1/3 of them, if you’re only eating dinner together. This is the kind of thing that people tend to think they can just “get over,” because love conquers all and for goodness’ sake it’s only dinner, but then five years later they’re stewing because their partner doesn’t care about meal planning/preparation, or wants to read a book while eating instead of having a conversation, or whatever. Most meal needs and preferences are completely valid: meals being important shared time vs. eating individually being okay, dividing meal planning and preparation equally vs. one partner taking on the bulk of it, prioritizing a particular (non-medical) diet vs. prioritizing meals with low-effort preparation, etc. You have a preferred/necessary way for your meals to be and he has a preferred/necessary way for his meals to be, and if six or nine or twelve months in, you can’t get enough overlap for another 5-10 years to be worth it… that’s a bummer, but also totally fine.

              Even just three months in, you’re getting a feeling that working out compatibility in this area is too much effort. Three months seems to me like it should still be the “everything is as perfect as the smell of his neck”-phase of a relationship, not the “wow this is hard” phase. (Though obviously you know yourself best with regards to whether that’s a reasonable alarm going off or if it fits into an overall pattern of anxious overthinking.)

              1. Safetykats*

                KayEss, you are amazing. I second everything you said.

                As far as practical advice goes, I’m hypoglycemic and so have to control when and what I eat very carefully. If I can’t manage that, I feel really awful. Unfortunately, having another person (or people) in the equation can really complicate the issue. I think it would be really helpful, first of all, to find a healthy snack that you can get used to eating in front of others. I love protein bars (Bonk Breaker Bars particularly have a nice mix of nutrients for me; a lot of them are too sweet.) They are compact, portable, and can be easily broken into pieces, which makes them pretty discrete. I use them a lot at work, because when it’s time for me to eat I can just pull one out even if I’m in a meeting or in transit. I have coworkers who will bring a whole elaborate lunch to a meeting, so that’s not necessarily frowned on, but I’m really uncomfortable eating on that scale when others aren’t, so the protein bars are a life saver for me.

                The other thing I really recommend is figuring out how to clearly state your needs. When you have specific food needs, and you can’t communicate those, I’m afraid it’s always going to end badly – because any partner who doesn’t have those exact same issues is really unlikely to figure them out. My husband knows – because I told him really early in our relationship – that I can’t skip meals, but I also can’t eat huge restaurant meals. It took him a little while to really understand, because it’s very different than the way he used to eat, but he has been lovely about changing his eating habits because he knows it’s a must-have for me. I do still occasionally have to remind him that I really have to eat soon, but mostly he remembers. Also he’s a champ about sharing meals when we go out – luckily there are a number of things we both really like – and admits that he feels better when he doesn’t eat as much at a single meal. But I had to ask for that specifically – had to just tell him it would be really helpful to me if we could just share something.

                The main thing I want to emphasize is that it’s not unusual to have specific food related needs – all kinds of people are hypoglycemic or diabetic or have Celiac’s – or are body builders or marathon runners or all kinds of things that demand specific dietary needs – and a loving, caring partner will actively support your needs to the extent that they understand them. This just means that you need to figure out how to become comfortable clearly stating what you need.

                If you can’t clearly state what you need to this potential partner, or if they can’t figure out how to support what you need once they understand, you probably do need a different partner. Because otherwise you’re going to be miserable and unhealthy, which is no good – no relationship is worth that, if only because I assure you that you can find a relationship in which your partner will be understanding and supportive.

              2. Close Bracket*

                2) “Food/meal compatibility is not a factor worthy of consideration in relationships.”

                Oh, heck, yes it is! Anything at all is a factor worthy of consideration in relationships, but there are certain types of food pickiness that would be deal breakers for me even if my hypothetical SO wasn’t happy about their pickiness!

        3. Junior Dev*

          Do your dates have to be 12 hours? Can you make them shorter?

          For longer dates, can you put a timer or reminder in your phone to eat every couple hours?

      2. Fiennes*

        Upon rereading—is it only about him not eating at times you want to eat, and you winding up hungry as a result? I see that this is a problem (though one you would probably also face with a non-picky eater.) Just wondering if that’s the crux of it.

    2. Forking Great Username*

      Picky eater here, so maybe I can offer some insight. Maybe not though – this sounds like a tricky situation. My pickiness is pretty much a sensory issue, and if I tried to force myself to eat something I don’t like so that you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable eating alone, I would likely end up gagging and not being able to do it – super embarrassing and not likely to make you feel more comfortable!

      You say you’re not sure that your issues with food could really be considered an eating disorder, but it definitely sounds like they have the potential to turn that way if your own eating habits greatly depend on not eating unless others are as well. Have you ever talked to a therapist or someone and tried to get some strategies for this? It just sounds unsustainable to keep ANY relationship going with a dynamic that you can’t eat unless the other person is eating. Especially if you reach the living together stage with someone. Your SO should be able to turn down food they don’t feel like eating without putting your health in jeopardy, and right now it doesn’t sound like that’s possible.

      I know I’m kind of jumping ahead of what you’re currently asking about, but it might be something to give some thought to. In the meantime, yes, if you think there’s potential for a long term relationship you should certainly talk to him further about your issues with food.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        I don’t care if we’re eating the same thing. He could be eating a hot dog and I could be eating sushi, and that would be okay with me. Eating in front of someone who isn’t eating is, as I said in another comment, a Level of Intimacy for me, and I guess despite how well things have been going I’m not sure if I’m there yet, although he’s eaten in front of me when I haven’t wanted anything, so maybe I should try it sometime soon and see how it feels.

        I’ve thought about going to a therapist for it, but I have some other mental health issues that have always seemed more pressing. Maybe I’ll look for some books or websites in the meantime.

        1. Amtelope*

          Are you addressing those other mental health issues with a therapist? If so, mention this – not feeling able to eat in front of someone who isn’t eating unless they are close family members is a pretty big issue. When that’s causing you to skip meals, you are definitely in “warning signs of eating disorder” territory, and eating disorders are not well treated by self-help methods. You need to take those symptoms to a doctor.

          If you’re not, I would really encourage making finding a therapist a priority. In the mean time, maybe scale back the all-day dates to build in mealtime breaks where you can go home and eat by yourself. Waiting for someone else to be hungry so that you can eat isn’t a good longterm plan.

        2. Perse's Mom*

          I would prioritize finding a therapist and laying it ALL out. Disordered eating could be linked to the other mental health issues you mentioned; it’s a piece of your whole mental health puzzle. A good therapist is going to need all this information in order to get a full picture of your situation in order to start helping you.

    3. Emilie*

      If you trust him, I think you should just be honest with him; “I tend to skip meals when you do, since I have a weird anxiety about eating while others aren’t”. I’m pretty sure that most people would try to do their best to help you. Maybe he (or you) could bring snacks that he could eat with you, like some fruit or a bar or some sorts. There’s no shame in needing some support in breaking unhealthy habits or learn to tackle things that makes you anxious :)

    4. Drop Bear*

      I’m not sure how practical a suggestion this is, but could you minimise how much of your time together is food related? Food and dating are culturally linked of course, but when I dated someone who struggled with food issues we did non-food related things together in the beginning. As we became more comfortable with each other it was easier for him to tell me about his issues and for us to incorporate them into our plans.

    5. Jules the Third*

      Mr. Jules and I still, after 20 years, only have a couple of meals where we eat the same things. Him: complex and multi-national; me: simple, plain, low spice. We only come together on occasional Mexican or Mediterranean; I’m just not a sushi gal. There is no reason why your romantic partner’s eating choices have to determine yours. Mr. Jules does do his own cooking, though – he’s much better than I am.

      It does sound like you already have a lot of mental focus on eating. To get around it with a partner:
      * Make food-based dates primarily take-out, where you both get what you want and meet up to eat together.
      * Find one or two places that have enough diversity that you can both eat there.
      * Make meals for yourselves, don’t try to push it to meals for both.
      * If you do really want to do ‘meals for both’, keep it *simple*
      * Make the focus the time together, not the food

      And finally – work to get rid of your adherence to social expectations. Do what works *for you*, let him do what works *for him*, and look for the ways you can do them together. Don’t judge his choices, don’t let him judge yours, get to the point where it’s just ‘we have different preferences and that’s fine!’

    6. Lcsa99*

      As a picky eater, I think the best thing to do is essentially worry about yourself, and let him worry about himself. You can look at restaurant menus ahead of time and find something that has stuff you can eat, then ask if it works for him too. Being able to know ahead of time that you CAN eat somewhere gets rid of a lot of the anxiety that comes with picky eating. I have a feeling that might be part of the reason he skips meals – if there isn’t something you can eat, or you just don’t know there is, it’s easier to skip a meal.

      I wouldn’t pressure him to discuss it. Picky eating is really stressful. If you make an effort to let him know it’s safe to eat with you, that you won’t push or judge, then he will be a lot more comfortable with you and you can learn what he can eat by just observing.

    7. Turtlewings*

      I think you two need to just completely unyoke your eating. He eats what he wants, when he wants, and you likewise. I know there’s a ton of weird social pressure around people eating at the same time and place, but accept the fact that you absolutely do not have to do that! If your eating habits are not compatible, stop trying to make them compatible. You don’t have to eat together to enjoy each other’s company.

      (Extremely picky eater here, fwiw. I can tell you he probably does not care what/whether/when you’re eating as long as you’re happy. He’s too busy worrying about being judged for HIS weird eating.)

      1. Overeducated*

        I agree with this. I have two friends with very strong and different eating restrictions (one kosher and no grains, beans, or dairy, one with a ton of allergies to fruits and vegetables) and they just eat separately the vast majority of the time, it just makes things low pressure to not worry abput matching up at all.

    8. dr_silverware*

      That does sound pretty serious. The absolute first thing I’d do is speak with him about this—to tell him basically exactly what you’ve said here. That you have a lot of anxiety around food, and while you’re not trying to force him to eat when he’s not hungry or not into the food, this is a really big deal for you.

      Possible options: one, this isn’t the right relationship for you right now. Food is a really fundamental part of daily life and maybe you need someone right now who will make you steadier about that instead of less certain.

      Two, maybe you can’t swing twelve hour dates right now. Hang out after dinner, between your planned mealtimes, etc.

      Three, maybe take a break around mealtime, so you can go eat without the pressure of him watching you.

      Four, he finds something he’s comfortable snacking on while you eat.

      None are easy options and there are more compromises under the sun, but it all starts with talking with him and telling him what’s going on.

    9. Dan*

      I hate to say this, but this isn’t about him. Your phrasing in the opening paragraph suggests that you think this is some sort of quirk on his end… and I don’t think it is.

      I eat anything and everything, and enjoy pretty much all of it. I’ve thought a bit about how compatible I would be with someone who is on a substantially restricted diet (reason doesn’t matter — preference, religion, medical, doesn’t matter), and I’ve come to the conclusion that food is both too important and too frequent for me to make serious changes or compromises for a significant other in how, what, when and where I/we go to eat or what I cook.

      I agree with the others who think it’s worth a conversation or two with a therapist to see where you’re at with your food issues — it’s outside of the norm enough where I wouldn’t write it off as a quirk.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        It’s not that I think it’s a quirk on his end. I know that picky eaters tend to be really sensitive about their eating habits and have done some reading about it, but what he needs might not line up with what other people need. Ideally, if we do discuss it, when the conversation is over he’ll have a better idea of my (currently non-articulated, so not his fault for not knowing them) needs and I’ll have a better idea of what I can do to make things easier and less stressful for him. It might indeed wind up being a dealbreaker for me down the road. I just don’t know.

        And I don’t have the time to see a therapist right now, but I think I’ll definitely be looking for books and websites that might be helpful sometime in the next couple weeks.

          1. Polly*

            Right? Shorten one of your dates. Go see a (clearly much-needed) therapist in that time slot instead. One day, you’ll look back at your posts here and understand why you keep getting the same plea.

          2. Reba*

            That’s not really fair (though I get your point about priorities). It’s not just an hour by hour exchange. Finding a therapist takes a lot of time and energy, plus katamia is not in their home country so accessing that stuff is harder. And dates usually happen on weekends, when therapists don’t usually work.

            1. Music*

              This person is asking for help, and it’s extremely clear that therapy is the only thing that will help them. You’re projecting a lot of circumstances into the conversation that haven’t been said by the person actually asking for help.

              I stand by the point: if they’re having 12-hour dates, then they have the time to find and visit a therapist. And until they do, they’re going to keep having this problem.

              1. Reba*

                I’m not projecting, but adding some context from katamia’s past posts about their situation–they are a regular poster here.

                Also not attacking you.

              2. Close Bracket*

                I bet those dates don’t happen during the work week – which is when they would have to see a therapist. So, no, having time for 12 hour dates does not translate to having time to see a therapist.

        1. Close Bracket*

          “if we do discuss it,”

          This needs to be a when, not an if. It is affecting you right now, so it needs to be out in the open.

    10. Indoor Cat*

      It sounds like you’re really anxious about this. Especially the “don’t eat if he’s not eating rule.” You seem really worried about it, so, first, I want to say that nobody is judging you as hard as you’re judging yourself.

      I’ve dealt with both-physical-and-mental eating disorder stuff, and I’ve learned that making up rules (like “don’t eat if he’s not eating” or “only eat proteins on Tuesdays, carbs on Wednesdays,” or w/e) were a way of trying to control part of my life and my body, because it felt very out of control. I couldn’t control whether or not I got sick, or whether or not someone else harmed my body, and that’s a scary feeling. It actually took a lot of therapy to really learn where that was coming from, and to learn new coping mechanisms besides the “rules” which interfere with my life without helping me stay well.

      In the short term, can you make up some different rules? Like, instead of “don’t eat when someone else isn’t eating,” you can make the rule, “don’t eat a meal when someone else is eating, but drinking [a protien shake / an ensure / a frappuccino] in an opaque glass is fine.” Or the rule could be, “every hour, eat a three-bite snack, like a bag of cashews or oreos.” That way, you can still get the feeling of bodily control or whatever positive reward you get from following your own rules, and that doesn’t interfere with your relationship.

      I know a lot of people are encouraging you to be open about this with your boyfriend, but I have mixed feelings about that. I think it might help if you’re asking for a specific thing, like dates that don’t overlap with meal times, or to coordinate a routine that involves ordering food at the same time; then he can agree or offer counter-suggestions about what might work for him when he realizes how much stress this causes you.

      The thing is, it can go wrong if you just say, “I have all these anxieties; help me fix them!” Your bf can’t do that work for you, so that can cause a lot of conflict.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Part of this is basic coupledom, where people, who have paired up, by necessity have to check in with each other.
      We are on a road trip. I need a bathroom. I really have no choice but to tell my guy, “Can you pull over at the next rest stop?”
      So there is this practical angle of communicating needs to each other.
      My suggestion is that if you are not ready to talk about food with him, then the relationship may be going too fast for you and you might do well with breathing space. It sounds like it’s basically a nice relationship, right? So why not pace it out and just take your time.

      Intimacy is cultivated and grown. Intimacy is not instant at all.

      Second thought. People tend to mirror back what we do, especially if they are sensitive to the same things. Since you are the one who is able to talk to us internet strangers, I suspect you are the stronger of the two of you at this point. This happens in couples, they take turns being the lead on an aspect of their relationship that needs assistance.
      Here’s something like I would go with to open the topic. “Uh, hon, I have to say this. I try to keep to a particular diet. I found that it helps me in some ways. I also like to plan my meal times. This, too, helps me with my health. I have been slacking lately because we do this and that so my food plan kind of shifted to the back burner. But now I need to rope it in and get back on track.” Then briefly describe the times of day you like to eat. For myself I would say, “I like to eat within an hour of getting up. Lunch is anywhere between 11:30 and 12:30. Then I have to have dinner by 6 or I am just dragging myself around.”
      Then move on to, “I see you eat a lot of stuff that is not for me. Why don’t we agree that each of us will be responsible for planning our own meals when we hang out together? I don’t think it’s good for us not to eat regularly but it might work out well if we each find/bring/get our food. This way neither one of us has to guess what the other wants.”

      People in long term relationships have to have many difficult conversations. Some times it is only difficult for one of the people(because the other person has some thoughts on things and thinks it’s a workable situation), some times it is difficult for the both of them (because both parties are in uncharted territory). If you think about the bigger picture of “This is one of many difficult things we will talk about if we stay together for a long time” this reframing might help in some small way.

      As you think along here, think of times you had to talk to someone about a difficult topic and you did WELL at it. What went right? What did you like about how you handled that tough conversation? Look at positive examples, it’s all to easy to look at the negative examples where we failed to connect with another person. Make your thoughts trend on the wins you have had.

      1. Thursday Next*

        This is a terrific comment.

        I was thinking that the issue in part could be that you’ve jumped to the intimacy of extended periods of time together without feeling sufficient intimacy to talk about this difficult topic. And of course the length of the dates makes food even more important, since waiting until the date’s conclusion to eat is not a reasonable option. So there’s a disconnect between these different levels of intimacy. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, just that it exists.

        Several commenters here have suggested different ways of handling that disconnect, through shorter dates, therapy, unyoking food and dates, or having a conversation. Whichever (or whichever combination) you choose, I wish you all the best.

    12. AcademiaNut*

      Reading through your comments, this seems to be almost all about your issues, while you don’t really know what his issues are but are making assumptions. There are a couple of suggestions I can think of

      Therapy! Even if you break up with this guy, the issues will follow you to the next relationship. You’re skipping meals when you’re hungry because of psychological discomfort, *and* you’ve got complicated physical diet issues. This is not a good combination.

      For this guy, you need to talk to him, otherwise the relationship is doomed. One practical way you could deal with this is to consciously decouple your eating. If he’s very picky, and you have serious diet issues, sharing meals is going to be really complicated, so you could agree to each handle your own meals at home (cook separately, bring something with you visit him), and come up with a list of restaurants that serve food that both of you can eat. For a 12 hour date, you absolutely have to be able to say “I need to eat now”, and maybe separate for half an hour, go into different rooms, or something like that, if he’s not hungry.

    13. LilySparrow*

      This isn’t meant as a criticism, but an observation – my understanding of a “disorder” (at least in terms of the disorders I have) is that it interferes with one or more major life functions.
      Your issues may not fall neatly into a specific, named eating disorders, but it looks from here like there are certainly some disordered patterns around your eating. Certainly worth bringing up with your therapist.

      I think bringing this up with your boyfriend will be a great relief to you, and possibly to him as well.
      It certainly can’t hurt.

      “Hey listen, there’s something that’s been making things difficult for me when we’re together, and I think if we can talk about it, we could find other ways to deal with it that would make it easier for me.
      I have some physical issues and some feelings issues about what and when I eat. One of them is that it’s hard for me to eat alone in front of people in a newer relationship. I’ve been skipping meals because of it, and I can’t keep doing that. When I need to eat at a certain time, would you want to share sometimes? Would you rather I excuse myself?”

      And see where it goes.

    14. misspiggy*

      I’m in a situation where I have health issues around food, and my partner is a picky eater on a number of levels. He’s been fairly comfortable explaining his issues. This has really helped, because some things took a lot of hearing before I could take them seriously, given the assumptions about food my upbringing had given me.

      We’ve evolved into some patterns which have helped us in practical terms:
      Takeaway at least once a week: we each order what we like and avoid what we don’t like/can’t eat.
      Timing of main meals is usually between when I get most hungry and when he gets most hungry. But each of us snack when we need to and there’s no criticism of that.
      Sitting next to each other (watching TV usually) while we eat. Not facing each other helps keeps the attention off what and how we’re eating.
      Cooking a meal where we can each eat the protein, but we might have different carbs/sides. Or vice versa.
      Cooking a one-pot dish, dividing it into two and adding different spices towards the end.
      Never cooking anything one of us hates; but sometimes cooking something one of us craves and the other isn’t keen on.
      Never cooking something he hates the smell of when he’s in the house, or going to come back to it. Sometimes if we’re out, I might have a dish he doesn’t much like the smell of; he doesn’t have to smell it being cooked, and it stops me getting resentful.
      On days where I can’t eat a meal, I sit with him and eat some kind of snack like nuts.
      On days where I can’t get out of bed to eat, he brings dinner up and we eat in bed. (We might well be eating different things at this point.)

      Our issues cross over in different ways to yours. But I’m sharing as an example that there are so many ways to do eating. The assumptions you bring with you into a relationship can change once you start talking about what each of you needs.

    15. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      David, there is a catchall diagnosis out there that you may fall into. Disordered eating. Honestly, this sounds like it’s really messing with your daily life regardless of your SO, so if you’re able I’d recommend that you seek out some professional help. Having a hard time eating around other people when they’re also eating isn’t “normal”, and if you can get some sort of help to reduce it, you’d probably get a lot of relief.

      I also struggle with food, though not to the extent you seem to. It’s rough, and most other people DON’T get it and will accidentally make it worse. Good luck and take care of yourself. (no advice on the SO, I’m hopeless there.)

  4. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I went to see an ENT this week for what I thought was chronic sinusitis (I asked last week about experiences with balloon sinuplasty). Turns out my sinuses are fine, but my turbinates (yeah, I’d never heard of them either) are enlarged, which has caused my chronically stuffy nose and, in all likelihood, my headaches. The doctor can’t guarantee that the headaches will go away once he fixes the turbinates, but he thinks treatment will help with them and the congestion in my neck. It will also help my snoring. So now I need surgery. Through the wonders of having very good health insurance, everything is scheduled and set to go next month. Outpatient, yet I’ll be under general anesthesia (a first for me) and they expect me to have a not-great couple of days but a full recovery pretty quickly. No packing.

    I’m divided between excited to get this fixed and freaked out about the anesthesia.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I totally understand being freaked out about anesthesia. I’ve had four surgeries and I still worry. For me, it’s the fact that I’m under for all that time and I have no idea what’s going on. I mean, I know what they’re doing because I’ve researched the procedure like crazy and the doctor has told me, but it still freaks me out. They’re rummaging around IN your body. It’s also the passage of time. It totally boggles my mind that you go to sleep and wake up like two seconds later with the same thought you had before you went to sleep, when actually hours have passed. Does that make sense? I’m trying to explain as best as I can.

      But you’ll do fine! It’s totally normal to be freaked out about it. Just think about the benefits of going through some very temporary nerves and discomfort.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That makes total sense. I am so used to local anesthesia, the idea of not being aware of what’s happening to me is so foreign. I am also a Very Good Patient– not fussy, interested, perfectly willing to go through discomfort while practitioners get things done– and the idea of being so out of it that I can’t be that Very Good Patient is simply weird.

        1. WellRed*

          When I had surgery the I was worried because i have type 1 diabetes and couldn’t imagine being under in case of a low. The anesthesiologist said, “your job is to sleep, my job is to watch you sleep.” I found that so helpful.

        2. Other Duties as Assigned*

          This is timely, as I just had a colonoscopy yesterday (F). My earlier two had the usual anesthesia, where you wake up sort of disoriented and have to sleep it off the rest of the day. However, this time, they said they were using a different type, explaining “you’ll drop off faster and come out of it faster.” I thought I’d count to 30 from when they put the stuff into the IV to see how long it would take; I made it to six. SIX! I woke up 90 minutes later and was completely lucid and felt normal, unlike the woozy feeling I’d had other times. They fed me a fresh chocolate chip cookie (I believe they make them on-site) and turned me over to my wife to send me on my way. Even though I had the usual prohibition on driving and signing legal documents for the rest of the day, I felt 100% fine and didn’t spend the day asleep. I’ve always felt the anesthesia is the best part of this procedure….you really go off into a deep and restful sleep. For GoT fans, this matches the described effect of Dreamwine.

          Best wishes.

        3. ..Kat..*

          We nurses understand. We are dedicated to keeping our patients safe and comfortable. Good luck.

      2. Book Lover*

        I get anxious I will say weird and inappropriate stuff while waking up. Sigh. I have only had one procedure and apparently the worst I did was thank people more than once, but still. I have this crazy stuff in my head and what if it comes out!

        1. Drop Bear*

          My daughter is an anaesthetist, and according to her it’s not uncommon to say things while waking up but it is almost never inappropriate and if it is she doesn’t ‘hear’ it.

          1. Book Lover*

            Lol, good to know. I find being alive to be generally embarrassing most of the time but like to feel I hide it well. Anesthesia uncovers thing. Sigh.

      3. D.W.*

        I have the same problem with my turbinates; found out about 6yrs ago. I had the outpatient surgery and my recovery was really short and painless, and I felt so much better. If you haven’t, ask is if this is a one and done procedure. I had to revisit my ENT every year because my turbinates are always swollen!

        I’ve since moved and unfortunately have not found any doctor here that I trust, so I’m miserable.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Thank you for the tip! My doctor didn’t indicate either way, and I tend to be very conservative about these things. Like, let’s do this and see how it works. Fortunate to have that luxury, to be honest.

      4. Florida*

        I had turbinate reduction surgery a few years ago – and it’s the best thing I ever did. A little background, I have had life-long sinus problems. Had one sinus surgery in high school. Have been getting allergy shots for about 10 years, and tried every allergy medication on the market. Nothing has made as much difference as the turbinate reduction surgery.

        After the surgery I couldn’t blow my nose for a short time. I think it was about three days. That was annoying because stuff was drippy out constantly. But you can handle that for three days if you get the level of relief I got.

        I didn’t have general anesthesia for this.

      5. nonegiven*

        Beats the hell out of the kind of anesthesia that you’re not supposed to remember but doesn’t seem to work on me.

    2. Sarah*

      My husband had that done and it’s made a huge difference in his ability to breathe and his energy levels throughout the day!

        1. Safetykats*

          I would really recommend asking if it can be done under local anesthesia, if the general makes you uncomfortable. Fairly often, general anesthesia is more for the convenience of the medical personal and not at all mandatory – and it sounds like this is the case here, since one commenter has had this surgery without general anesthesia. You say you’re a “good patient,” which probably means that you’re not used to challenging your doctors, but a good doctor really wants you to understand your options, and to do that you need to ask questions. It also doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion, if you’re not getting answers that you can be sure about. You say that you have good insurance – and good insurance will often pay for a second opinion – so I would take advantage of that if you can.

    3. Ann Perkins*

      I had a septoplasty a while back and coming out of the anesthesia was a little scary becausi hadn’t been under in a while but it was fine and gave me an excuse to watch TV in bed all weekend. Good luck!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thanks! Your nickname reminds me that I am just about to finish my semi-annual Parks and Rec re-watch, so I’ll have to find something else to plan for the weekend. I’ve started Downton Abbey again and might be finished in a few weeks. So I have some decisions to make. :)

    4. Merci Dee*

      I had sinus surgery 10 years ago, which included shaving down my turbinates, as well. It made a huge difference in the way I was able to breathe. You’ll do fine with this.

      As for the general anesthesia… my fondest memory of the whole thing. They put me under, did my surgery, and then wheeled me to recovery until I woke up. First thing I asked was how long the surgery took and how long had I been asleep. The nurses told me the procedure took about 45 minutes, and that I had been asleep for about an hour all together. I just sighed and replied, “I feel like I’ve been asleep for hours! It was wonderful!” The nurses thought that was great.

    5. LCL*

      When I had sinus/septum/turbinate surgery done, the surgeon explained that general anaesthesia is preferable for this type of surgery and he wouldn’t do the surgery otherwise. His reason was that it is very traumatic for the patient having surgical instruments near the head and being used. Basically, you don’t want to be aware this is happening because you can’t look away or escape the sounds.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That was my issue with an endoscopy. My fear level with that procedure was much higher than when they took out my gallbladder, which I just found interesting.

        They don’t actually knock you out, but I did tell them to please give me as much sedation as safely possible, because I didn’t really want to know what they were doing. Whatever they gave me did the trick. I remember them putting the block in my mouth and then nothing else until I woke up in recovery.

    6. Totally Minnie*

      My number one post anesthesia recommendation is make sure you have plenty of wet foods available to you. A common side effect of some anesthesia drugs is dry mouth, and I tend to have problems eating things like crackers or bread afterward. So make sure you’ve got someone to bring you lots of water, and try to have things like pudding or popsicles on hand.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I said something to my boyfriend last night about chocolate pudding and Spaghettios, and he thought I had gone crazy. I don’t eat such things usually, but they strike me as very good post-procedure foods (if I’m allowed to have Spaghettios, that is).

    7. charlatan*

      I had turbinate reduction and septum surgery a few months ago and I’m only sorry it took me so long to muster up the courage to have it done. It was my first time with general anesthesia too and I was worried in general about the recovery but it was all so worth it.

      It was an odd experience coming out of the anesthesia – I was apparently combative and then weepy for about 10 minutes straight – and I had full-body aches for a few days afterwards. My nose was tender for a while but I only needed the pain meds for a day and a half after the surgery. Be very careful with the discharge (it’s hard to not blow your nose but you REALLY have to wait a while before it’s safe) and make sure you have your pain meds, soft tissues and a saline irrigation system ready for you at home.

      Good luck! I hope it works out as well for you as it did for me.

    8. Skunklet*

      I had a deviated septum repaired with a partial turbinate reduction (they weren’t swollen, just removed to make more room). In and out of the OR in 45 minutes – but yes, the anesthesia is awful (I am out of it mentally for two days). After the surgery it wasn’t too bad, but they pack your nose with, essentially, medical tampons to stop the bleeding. The first day wasn’t bad, the 2nd day stunk because, well, your breath is awful and you can’t equalize pressure. Once they took the tampons out, it was fine, but your breath smells for like 2 weeks… trust me, my husband told me!

  5. Fiennes*

    My sweet little dog has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He’s older, and has had heart issues for a while, so as sad as I am, it doesn’t come as a shock. His energy remains very good, as does his appetite; it’s obvious he feels absolutely fine. So that’s good at least.

    My vet is one who really, really softens bad news to the point of not being clear. I’m trying to get some sense of how long he has, and she just says no one can know. She says she has seen dogs last two years or die within a month. Is there a more concrete time frame? I want him with us as long as possible, and to be with him whenever he finally begins feeling poorly. We have been planning a longer trip this summer for almost a year, but I don’t want to abandon my little buddy if he’s going to need me. At the same time, though, I don’t want to put personal and business travel on hold for up to two years if that’s not warranted.

    He’s a mutt, part Pomeranian, approximately 11 years old. He has some lung edema that’s well controlled by medication, at least for now. Any advice from those who’ve been through this would be welcome.

    1. nep*

      No relevant experience or advice — just commiseration and a huge hug. Sorry you’ve got to go through this with your long-time companion. May he not suffer.

    2. Book Lover*

      I am so sorry! I think she is likely being honest that she just doesn’t know and that it can vary a lot. In humans, a diagnosis of congestive heart failure has a very high mortality – like a nasty cancer – but still, some people last weeks and others many years. As long as your dog is happy and enjoying life, perhaps you can take it a day at a time? I understand the vacation thing, but perhaps you will know better in a month or two….

      1. Fiennes*

        I realize there’s nothing concrete to know, at least at this stage. Thanks for the kind words.

    3. Dan*

      How long is long in terms of the trip? I regularly take trips out of country that range anywhere from 3-5 weeks. I’m sorta waiting for the moment where “life” (in whatever form) dictates that a planned trip won’t happen.

      My suggestion is to live your life the way you have and the way you’ve planned; and insure your vacations with a policy that will cover a cancellation for a reason like this.

      If your dog remains relatively asymptomatic, I’d say keep doing what you’re doing. When the symptoms start to kick in, then you can revisit some of your future plans.

      1. Fiennes*

        My dog would probably be in my family’s keeping for about 5 weeks. They love him and will take good care of him; he’s stayed with them before and likes it there, so the time away should not be super stressful on its own. This trip is mostly pleasure for me, but it’s something that has deeper personal meaning for my partner, so I really want to make this happen for us. I think your idea about living life as usual, but getting trip insurance, is probably the best way to go for now.

    4. Peanut*

      About 9 years ago my rescue Chihuahua mix was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was relatively young at the time (maybe about 4?) and the vet cardiologist we saw said he had anywhere from 3 to 6 months to live. They put him on medication (sorry I can’t remember specifics, but I remember one cost about a dollar a day) to reduce the fluid and also to help with the heart. Within a few months we found out our dog basically recovered amazingly. The cardiologist couldn’t believe it and said our dog was an outlier, and eventually the dog didn’t have to be on the medication anymore.

      He lived a full life, died in his sleep of old age about a year ago.

      I would recommend going to a specialist if there are any near you. We lived in Massachusetts at the time and there were at least two very good specialty animal hospitals within a half hour drive of us.

      1. Peanut*

        Oops, my math is all wrong. I think he must have been more like 6-7 years old at the time he was diagnosed, because he was around 15-16 when he passed away.

      2. Fiennes*

        I will try to check one out. Given my dog’s age, I suspect a total reversal is unlikely, but I would like to give him as much (happy, comfortable) time I can.

    5. Former Employee*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your dog.

      I am only somewhat familiar with congestive heart failure in people, not in dogs, and it seems as if the doctors can’t really tell. Sometimes, the patient is put on medication(s) and responds well, sometimes not.

      Someone else suggested you check with a specialist and I think it’s a good idea. A specialist may also be aware of meds that a primary care doctor is not aware of or familiar with, just because.

      Best of luck to you and your little guy. Please keep us updated.

    6. Slartibartfast*

      Vet tech for 15 years here, and the truth is, there’s no way to know. Which sucks, because the not knowing is the hardest part to deal with. Congestive heart failure is progressive, nothing will stop it, and the goal of treatment is to slow it down as much as possible. It’s really variable how each individual will respond to treatment, but the good news is it isn’t painful. If you’re noticing a lot of fatigue and are constantly having to adjust meds in the first few months, most often (and I’m generalizing off of presonal experience here) that’s a sign that the patient only has a few months. Usually though, the response to medication is good, and when that’s the case, it’s usually 2 to 4 years of good living before they become difficult to medicate, at which point it’s usually going to go downhill fast. In its final stages, heart failure causes extreme fatigue and exercise intolerance, because the heart isn’t circulating enough blood to keep the body oxygenated. Signs that it’s time to let go would be blue tongue, passing out, and trying to keep their head elevated when sleeping, because fluid backs up into the lungs when the heart can’t pump effectively. But still, the patient is pretty comfortable and not suffering, just really tired. This is the point where you’ll have to make the decision to let go. Not laying down at all, standing or sitting like a bulldog with the chest out, hearing crackling or gurgling when they breathe is the end stage, because these are signs there’s free fluid in the lungs, which is the only part of this illness I would consider to be suffering. There’s a good handout about quality of life if I can find it that helps you judge your pet’s condition objectively and helps track good vs bad days, I will post a link if I can find it.

      1. Fiennes*

        Thank you very much for this. It helps to know that while there are no guarantees, there are signs I can look for. Right now he’s showing none of the extremely negative signs (except keeping his head elevated, but he’s always done that–I think he just likes it). It helps a lot to know what to look for and look out for.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Why not ask your vet what she would decide in this instance if it were her dog?

      I made one last trip before my previous dog got too old. The people I left him with are great people or I would not have even considered going. When I got back the report was NOT GOOD. He howled every night and they could not console him. (Previously, he LOVED them, he was very happy there.) I never left him again. He lived about another year or so, then he passed. Oddly, my aunt who took the trip with me passed about 8 months after my dog. No regrets. I feel bad that he was so inconsolably upset, but I am glad I got the time with my aunt before she passed. It was four days out of his life, I came back and I stayed with him to the end. It was the last trip I took with my aunt. Such is life, no ideal solutions but just handling things in a sensible way and in the moment.

    8. cat socks*

      I’m so sorry. I’m going through the same thing with my kitty. He was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, heart disease and heart failure last August. He’s been on medication since then and is doing well. I definitely notice him sleeping more and being less active overall, but nothing serious enough to where he is having major breathing issues.

      We went on vacation about 3 months after his initial diagnosis. I boarded him at a vet so they could give him his medication twice a day and monitor for any signs of distress. I have another trip coming up in April and one in June for a week at a time. Both of them are out of the country. He will be boarded at the vet for both of those trips as well.

      What helped me feel a little better this time was that he had an appointment with his cardiologist recently where she saw some pockets of fluid around his lungs, but not enough to have to extract any fluids. It helped having some concrete information about his condition.

      I just spend as much time as I can with him but it’s hard because I don’t know how much longer I have with him. It’s a tough situation. Sending good vibes to your little guy.

    9. Onomatopoeia*

      This is the most difficult phase of a beloved pet’s life for thoughtful owners. When our 20-year-old dachshund received this diagnosis, we didn’t know what to expect either. Your Vet isn’t being vague – it varies from animal to animal. As long as your beloved dog isn’t suffering, all is well, if slowed down considerably. One morning my doxie woke up and was clearly struggling for breath. It was the weekend so we went to the emergency vet. Her little heart was struggling in her fluid-filled chest. She wasn’t wailing in agony, but she was suffering. We had to say goodbye to her that day, but she died in my arms, she was loved, and she didn’t experience agony. I’m so sorry for what you face, it is difficult beyond description. But truly, your little dog will let you know; the signs may differ from pet to pet, but it’s immediately recognizable as time.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      Sorry to hear that.

      One of my cats had the same issue. It’s true what the vet says, that it’s just not easy to pinpoint how long the animal will survive. You’ll know it’s not far off when he starts to rest way more than usual. Meaning he may get out of bed, walk halfway to his food dish and then have to sit or lay down for a bit. Not napping, but having to stop and rest, then continue on to wherever he was headed. That’s what happened with my cat. Over the course of a couple weeks he started having to stop and rest/catch his breath more often. The last day or two he would walk maybe 10 steps and then have to rest for five minutes. That’s when we knew it was time.

    11. CityMouse*

      It can depend on a lot of things. My grandmother’s dog was diagnosed with heart failure and he lived another year, but I don’t want to give you false hope.

      1. Safetykats*

        I think boarding him at the vet is a great idea if you can – and if he is going to potentially need medical care. If not, please make sure your family understands what he needs and is capable of providing it. I have an elderly cat who is hyperthyroid, and needs medication twice a day, and I’m lucky that my mom is capable of doing that pretty reliably. As she gets older and sicker, I probably won’t be as comfortable leaving her for extended periods of time, if only because if there are serious decisions to be made I don’t think it’s fair for my mom to be the one who has to make them. It might be a good idea to think hard about what you would want done if your dog takes a turn for the worse while you are gone, and discuss that with your family.

        However, I have a friend with congestive heart failure who had to quit her job three years ago because it was so bad – and she is actually doing quite well now. So I think your dog may have some good years left, depending on how well you can control the condition with medication. So possibly the main issue is only whether your family can effectively medicate the dog.

    12. Good pup!*

      You really can’t know. The last CHF dog I looked after had “weeks to live” for 2 1/2 years (the 3rd recurrence of a cancer is finally what killed him, not the CHF), and management/medication has come a ways since then. With any luck, your pup will have a similar story.

  6. The Other Dawn*

    I went for a follow-up with my orthopedic doctor in regards to my back pain. I thought I was going to hear about a simple pain relief outpatient procedure. Instead, I found out that I’m actually a strong candidate for disc replacement. Totally not what I was expecting. At all. I was kind of in shock.

    Apparently the herniation in my disc is pretty big and the nucleoplasty (disc decompression) isn’t possible. A mini discectomy isn’t possible either. I was kind of in a daze and on information overload at that point, but it was something about the condition of the disc, the size of the herniation and the very small space and location in which to do the work. The other possibility is disc fusion, but he said it has a lower success rate. Not that it’s not successful–it is for many people–but he felt for my situation, a disc replacement would be the best choice and I’d get the most relief from it. The disc above also has issues, but he’s more worried about this one for now.

    He’s having me see another doctor, the one who would work with him during surgery to get him into where he needs to do the work. (Apparently it’s a frontal approach, rather than through the back.) Unfortunately I can’t get in until April 13, but I plan to call every couple days to see if they have any cancellations. He ordered an updated MRI, which I had yesterday morning. I looked at the MRI since I have the previous one and I now know what I’m looking at, and the affected disc actually looks a little worse than six months ago. I go Tuesday to have him read it. I plan to make up a list of questions. I didn’t think to ask much other than recovery time (out of work for two to three weeks) and success rate.

    I’m not adverse at all to having the surgery done, as long as there’s a reasonable expectation of pain relief, which there seems to be; he’s pretty confident that this would help me a lot. I’d also like to know if it’s inevitable that it will need to be done at some point. If so, they why wait? I’ve already tried a bunch of things and they’re not helping. I really want to get back to living my life as I was before. Why spend more money on temporary solutions? I’m also not worried that he’s trying to steer me to surgery too soon; we’ve tried all the conservative things. He even suggested chiropractic and acupuncture, which isn’t usually suggested by a medical doctor. And he’s all about minimally invasive, so for him to suggest surgery doesn’t alarm me. I guess my only concern would be whether insurance would cover replacement, as I know not too long ago it was considered experimental.

    So, the question is: has anyone had one of these procedures done? Either fusion of disc replacement?

    1. Me2*

      Haven’t had the replacement, have had fusion. Replacement was not an option when I had mine. The only thing I would caution you about is the armchair quarterbacks. I had so many people telling me to try alternate theories including some I’d already tried (like spinal epidural) for pain relief. Only you and your doctor can adequately judge your pain level and the impact it is having on your life. I was to the point where I could not walk long distances, couldn’t walk my kids to the bus, had to use a wheelchair when we went to Disneyland, if I dropped something it stayed dropped until someone else came home to get it. The surgery was definitely worth it to me, I’m able to move relatively freely but am still cautious and mindful of my back, and my quality of life has improved enormously. Another year of trying alternates just to avoid surgery was not worth it to me. Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “Only you and your doctor can adequately judge your pain level and the impact it is having on your life.”

        Thank you for saying this!! I’ve already had a lot of people telling me to get a second opinion. I mean, I get it, but it’s not like we haven’t tried other things: spinal epidural twice, prednisone taper pack, chiropractic, PT, back brace, etc. I feel like it implies they think the doctor is jumping the gun or trying to take advantage. I know his reputation, and it’s a really strong one. And based on what he’s saying, it seems like this will be inevitable because there’s a fair amount of degeneration in there, too.

        My issue is lying, sitting and static standing. Working out is great (90% of the time, and I’m a little limited), as is walking and movement in general. If I didn’t have to sit for my job, I’d probably feel pretty decent most of the time.

        1. Me2*

          Yes, exactly. I have tried other things, lots of other things, now I’m trying this. I’d never advise jumping to surgery and you said your doctor is conservative. As far as the actual procedure, you’ll feel amazing immediately after because your incision is packed full of the happy drugs. I went from wheelchair to walking immediately. Be slightly cautious and listen to your body, especially as the drugs start to wear off. On a separate note, which I’m sure you’ve thought of, is it possible for your employer to accommodate you with a standing or convertible desk?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, I have one already. I stand when the sitting gets to be too much, and then sit when the standing starts to wear on me. I’m constantly up and down, because those are the two things that bother me. And the nature of my job is that I have to be at my desk, unfortunately.

    2. fposte*

      I’ve had a fusion, but it was cervical, so much less effect on mobility. It was really effective.

      Some thoughts on your previous paragraph.

      Spine stuff comes with no guarantees. Some people have discs leaning on their nerve and have no pain; some people have virtually clean MRIs and are in agony. Some people have relief when the disc is, one way or another, separated from the nerve, and some people really don’t. Absent paralysis or loss of below-the-waist control, the doctors are mostly going to say it’s up to you whether you have a surgery or not, because it’s about pain relief and it’s up to the patient what it’s worth to try for pain relief. Hence the suggestions that you try other methods of pain relief to see if they help.

      IMHO, it’s actually pretty unusual for people to get to surgery too early; insurance makes you jump through hoops anyway before you can even get to the MRI. I think it’s far more common for people to put themselves through hell trying to avoid surgery for too long. I regretted how long I waited for the fusion, and I regretted not pushing for an MRI earlier on the lumbar surgery to identify the need.

      If I were you, I would ask what options are available down the line with each technique. Does the replacement disc mean that you could still get a fusion in 10-20 years? (I think if you get a fusion that precludes disc options since there’s no disc space any more, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask what options there might be after that as well.) I’d also ask about mobility. It’s generally true that pain limits mobility to such an extent that the loss of mobility from a fusion might not be noticeable, but ask, and ask specifically about anything you like to do physically that you think is relevant.

      (And of course check with insurance.)

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and while I haven’t done real research on this, I would lean toward the replacement disc myself. I think it has a higher chance of preserving both mobility and later options. I would research comparative outcomes and the longest-term available data I could find on replacements (it’s new, but it’s not, like, toddler-new).

        I would also, now that I think about it, ask if there’s a possibility that they’d start surgery and discover that a replacement wouldn’t be possible after all, and in that case what happens?

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, he mentioned that back surgery is tricky. Some people get a lot of relief, others don’t. My husband knows a lot of people at work who have had some form of back surgery, and most of them had a lot of success. I know a couple, too. But I do have a few people who like to tell me all the things that can go wrong, how Jane had surgery three times and she’s a mess (this was from a coworker yesterday), how the doctors just want money so they push surgery (I’m sure there are cases like that, but I don’t think that’s typical in back surgery–maybe plastic surgery), etc. Same thing happened when I had weight loss surgery four years ago. Almost no one had a nice success story to tell me. It was all doom and gloom. And now that I’ve had it and kept the weight off, everyone knows someone who had it and lost so much weight and kept it off and they’re doing great. I think what annoys me most is the implication behind their negative stories, which is that I don’t know enough to do some research and ask questions. I know some people might be looking out for me, like my family and friends, but some people seem to want to scare me or judge me.

        Sorry, I’m going off on a tangent here…

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I know all about that! Also an argument for stay away from most online forums on the subject–the people who got relief are out and about and not posting, so they skew heavily toward the failures.

          By me, though, when pain is untenable you look to the relevant intervention. You can’t have much of a life in severe pain. It’s really unlikely that things will get worse, and this isn’t the only thing that can ever be done if it doesn’t help. There is some really sobering research about what happens to brains under sustained pain, and I’m pretty sure mine took a hit as a result of the delay in my action. The second time I had an issue, when I saw the MRI I had an appointment with my surgeon within the week; I wanted surgery ASAP.

          So if it helps, I’m two spine surgeries and a “well worth it” on both. Maybe in 100 years they’ll figure out something better, but in the meantime I still need to sit sometimes.

        2. Book Lover*

          Well, failed back is a thing, unfortunately :(. I think the way we typically approach it is to try to do everything under the sun that is not surgery (unless nerve compromise emergency) and then go for it, recognizing some people will wish they had had the surgery earlier and others will wish they had never gone ahead with it.
          I think if you have tried everything and have a reputable surgeon who is optimistic that it will help (no good surgeon will give a guarantee, but you can usually tell if they think it is a good idea) then it is hard to just not do anything.

    3. Slartibartfast*

      Bad stories make more interesting news. I have had back surgery and it was life changing in a positive way. If it was my spine, I would try the replacement before the fusion, because you said the disc above the problem is also not in great shape. Fusions can put additional stress on the discs to either side, so there’s a chance that a fusion could lead to the next disc rupturing sooner than it otherwise might have. But it’s not my spine, and I am not a doctor, so feel free to chuck my opinion right out the window if it isn’t right for you. I am glad you’re getting a built in second opinion though, this isn’t a decision to make lightly.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        No, that’s actually valuable information to know–thank you! I hadn’t thought about what a fusion would do to the other discs. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure he said “fusion.” What I remember him saying is that taking the frontal approach would have a higher probability of success; however, going through the back might mean less relief and he might use rods and screws. But doing some research, it appears that “rods and screws” are what are used in a fusion.

        1. fposte*

          It’s worth asking more about that so you understand what the procedure would entail. Also, in your first post you said “disc fusion”–unless I’ve missed something, that’s a little misleading, because in a fusion what happens is that they take the disc out entirely and fuse the two *vertebrae* together (usually with a bone graft and rods and screws). So if it’s, say, that usual troublemaker of L-5 to S-1, those two would be fused together and your back would no longer bend between the two vertebrae (which is why, as Slartibartfast notes, there’s more strain on surrounding discs). You’re probably not bending between them much right now as is, so it may not even be something you’d notice. But speaking as somebody who started this crap young too, I think about long-term possibilities, and if you start getting trouble at another level in a couple of years you want to have preserved as many other options as possible.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, I misspoke when I said “disc fusion.” I meant “fusion.” After reading about fusion I can see why it’s something that might potentially cause some issues long-term, since it’s in the lumbar area, which has more movement and bears more weight than a cervical disc or vertebrae.

            1. fposte*

              Cool–as long as you know what you’re signing up for phraseology doesn’t really matter. And I still think a fusion can be a reasonable move, but so can other procedures.

    4. Natalie*

      My husband had a fusion in November (L4&5 and S1) and had overall very good results. I’ll second Me2 that the armchair qbs are extra annoying – my friend is dating a chiropractor right now and my already-not-great opinion of chiropractic is basically bottomed out after meeting a bunch of his work friends right around that time. Anyway.

      For insurance, you almost certainly need to get preapproval and there should be someone at the ortho office that coordinates all of that. If for some reason they don’t approve, you can cross that bridge when you come to it.

      When this was first recommended to B, he was referred to a neurosurgeon but everything I researched indicated an orthopedic surgeon was preferable. He ended up at a clinic that specializes in this kind of thing and works with a lot of professional athletes. And even though I think his surgeon was kind of an asshole, the guy did a good job. You may want to consult with a second surgeon either for extra confidence, or if they disagree on the front approach. I’m obviously not a doctor but if they’re going through the back they’re disturbing fewer muscles, no organs, etc.

      One odd thing we weren’t warned about is positional nerve damage from lying on a table for hours. Apparently it feels like a bad sunburn and can last for months. But if it’s intolerable they can give you medication that helps.

  7. Ms. Gullible*

    A couple months ago I posted that I caught my ex and his howorker coming out of our house on my son’s birthday. That day I got a lawyer, filed for custody/support, and began looking for a new home. I found out last week I was approved for our new place and the kiddos and I move in next weekend.

    The child custody hearing is in two weeks and my ex had not completed the parenting class still. He will not communicate about the kids and I want to strangle him. He does not seem to realize what he’s doing to our children.

    Anyway, I appreciate all of the support I received and the recommendation for reading Chump Lady. Looking forward to packing this weekend. (Bonus is that everything but the kids is pretty much his, so I really don’t have much to pack other than my clothes.)

    1. Agnodike*

      The way you’ve handled this is incredible and your kids are unbelievably lucky to have you as a parent. I’m sorry you’re going through so much upheaval and pain right now.

    2. nep*

      Thank you for the update. How great that you have a new place. Sending you love and good vibes. You are strong and amazing. All the best as you move through this.

    3. It’s All Good*

      Don’t let him see you sweat and don’t let the kids see you sweat. You are on the right path. I wish you well. Remember I’m those tough times you are stronger than you think.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Go, you! Well you are indeed in charge of your life and how your life will go. Congrats on your new house. You have the world wide open for you. Him? He will be in the bathroom hiding from his phone.
      I am very sorry for how things blew up here and I am sorry the kids are short their father. But I suspect that time will be very kind to you and to them. I wish you the best.

    5. Perse's Mom*

      If his refusal to prioritize his kids during a custody battle isn’t all that surprising to you, it’s probably also not surprising to them. That doesn’t mean it’s not hurtful to them (or to you!), but you all may find it easier to breathe when you’re in a new place. There’s something kind of claustrophobic and disheartening about feeling trapped in a space with someone who SHOULD care but clearly doesn’t.

    6. Lcsa99*

      I think it’s great how strong you’ve been through this. Focusing on yourself and the kids. It’s so important.

      One thing I feel I need to say, though, as hurt as you feel, and as mad as you might be, try to be careful about bad mouthing him in front of the kids. Even if he bad mouths you. Trust that they will eventually see for themselves that he is an ass and you’ll have a better relationship with them in the long run.

      1. Observer*

        This is true. And you can be sure that they will eventually see it, even if they don’t yet. Of course, based on your description of his behavior, if they haven’t figured it out yet, they will very very soon.

  8. LK03*

    On the knowledge-swap post this week, Scrumtrillescent shared some amazing stories about how she is raising 5 kids on her own. One point she made was that her kids started having chores and responsibilities in the household when they turned 2. My kid is almost 2, and my partner and I really want to raise her to be generous and self-sufficient. So…what kinds of chores are good to start a 2-year-old on? She already joins in with us to pick up toys and books when we ask her to, and sometimes she does it spontaneously. (“Put it back!” she says.) What else could we try?

    1. Me2*

      I used to have my littles feed the pets. Give them a pitcher to fill the water bowl, which they think is fun. Same with watering houseplants. They can help with laundry at this age, sorting whites from darks. Carry dishes to the sink or counter. I remember mine would ask if the dishes were plastic, those could go in the sink, or ceramic, those would go on the counter. Chores at this age are mostly you supervising, helping, redoing as necessary, but it definitely plants the seed for the future. Make it a game (like learning colors when sorting laundry) for sure.

    2. Forking Great Username*

      If your washing machine is a front loader, my toddlers love helping me put laundry in ours!

    3. Jules the Third*

      Sorting clothes into lights and darks
      Maybe bill filing, if you color code your bill folders

    4. Emilie*

      When I worked as a cashier some people would let their very young children pay. They’d hand them the cash/card (I’m from a country where everyone pays by card), and then the child would hand the money to me/put the card in the machine (and then the parent would enter the code/do the signature). I always found it encredibly sweet and a great way to give the children an important job to do during grocery shopping, so they’d feel more involved.

      1. Red Reader*

        A caveat with this one from a former cashier: if you’re letting little kids pay with cash, please include the “before we get to the cashier, we want to make sure our money is not wadded into individual crumpled-up little balls and that we know roughly how much money we have” lesson, for the sake of both the cashier and also anyone else who might be in line behind you.

          1. Red Reader*

            I loved helping out little kids who were doing their first purchase with their very own money — I worked at a Target, so it happened a lot — but man, so often, Junior is just fishing handfuls of change and wadded up singles out of her pocket (or worse, her how-does-this-open-again piggy bank) and dumping it willy-nilly on the counter, and surprise they’re $2 short for their plushie and now dad is fishing for the couple bucks cash, and ALWAYS the next four people behind them in line were snotty and awful about it taking so long.

            1. MRK*

              Along with organizing money/making sure they have enough, please make sure you are with your child if they have your card. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a kid come up with a toy and their parents’ card while the parent is outside/across the store/otherwise unavailable. Here the problem is two fold. 1. I want to make sure the sale is ok and they kid hasn’t added or switched anything and 2. We need the card holder to sign or enter their pin. Your 6 year old can not sign your card slip, that’s fraud and we can lose the sale if it was contested.

        1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

          slightly OT: Am I the only person with the bills in my wallet lined up facing the same direction and in descending order of denomination?

    5. Savannnah*

      I’ve seen 2 year olds sweep, dust (what they can reach) help put groceries away, put away their clothes, pick up toys, set the table and clear plates and load laundry. Depends on youe kid though!

    6. Agnodike*

      This nested wrong when I tried to post it, so copied from below:

      Unloading the dishwasher is a fave for my small people – I put their plastic dishes on the bottom when I load it and they take them out and stack them for me, or sort the cutlery as we put it away. Matching socks when we put away laundry is another fave, as is wiping down the table and high chair after a meal and cleaning up spills etc with a cloth. Outdoor chores were very fun with my eldest, who loved to pull weeds and did a surprisingly good job identifying them on her own (although we always confirmed before they got pulled!) but her brother was fond of eating dandelions so he didn’t get to do that one as often.

      1. Elf*

        If your lawn/garden was organic, that’s totally safe, dandelions are edible. (and delicious!)

        1. Agnodike*

          We do put dandelion greens in salad often! The issue was more the he would spend more time delicately plucking leaves and scattering dandelion seeds than weeding ;)

    7. Kuododi*

      When little sister and I were small people we were “helping” around the house as soon as we were toddling around the house. By that I mean taking plates to the sink, learning how to sort wash (darks and lights), tidying the bed covers.(Mom had to go behind us.and finish that task quite a bit until we got bigger and more proficient.). Obviously as we got older, the complexity of the tasks would increase. Have fun!!!

    8. King Friday XIII*

      Aside from putting her own toys away I think we started Princess Tuesday in on matching her socks, cleaning up her own spills, putting things in the trash can and we got a terrific deal on a kitchen tower so she’s been helping in the kitchen for forever. We also put her plates, bowls and plasticware in a low drawer so she can get them out herself, and put her things away as we unload the dishwasher. We also put her snacks on the lowest shelf in the pantry so she can get them out when she’s hungry. At three she decided she loves vacuuming so I found a lightweight vacuum that she can handle rather than a pretend one.

    9. Good Morning!*

      Ive picked based on what my kid is interested in combined with what I can currently stand. I have 2 under 3, so some learning messes are just too much.

      Silverware sorting. Wiping the table. Taking kids dishes to the table and back to the sink. Push any buttons, elevator, credit card machine, washer/dryer, help feed pets, vacuuming since 18months, sweeping, toy pick up, window wiping, pushing in chairs and closing doors, turning off lights, finding kid clothes in the laundry pile, putting groceries on the belt, grabbing diapers or towels for spills, pulling weeds.

      They will do anything. Whether its safe or not, so its more focusing on safety and personal sanity.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Pushing buttons!
        Erma Bombeck once said in one of her books, “My girls fight over who gets to press start on the dishwasher.” I laughed so hard because we did that too.

        1. LK03*

          Oh, I loved Erma Bombeck. We mostly use our dishwasher as a glorified dish drainer, but on those occasions when we actually run it, I’ll have to give the kid a chance to push ‘go’!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My friend started teaching her grandchild to scramble eggs when the kid was about 3-4. The kid stood on a chair and my friend did NOT leave her side, nor did she even look away for a second. The kid did a good job and had a blast. (They did hand over hand.) This one is hugely dependent on the personality of the child. My friend took her outside to collect the eggs first, so she had a good feel for how this would go with her grandchild.

      1. LK03*

        We’re really hoping we can start our daughter cooking early — maybe we can do this sooner than I was thinking, and scrambled eggs would be an excellent start. Our whole kitchen is a no-go area for her right now unless someone is carrying her — rental house, not as childproofed in there as I would like — but she loves to balance on one parent’s hip and watch what the other parent is doing in the kitchen.

        How cool to collect eggs fresh from the yard and then scramble them! No chickens here, unfortunately.

        (And I just have to say this: as an infrequent poster but an avid reader on AAM, I always really appreciate your compassionate and insightful comments. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Back at ya, in the context of not every parent tries to teach their kid stuff. Thanks for being that very cool parent!

    11. Anonia*

      Toddlers can do lots of things! I teach preschool and we have them bring their plates over and dump out their cups, they help wash dishes (which we then put in the dishwasher); have your child help with folding wash clothes and her clothes, putting her own clothes away, putting away toys, putting books back on the shelf, help with measuring and stirring when cooking, etc.
      make sure you also teach her what I call personal chores-getting dressed putting on coats, hats, mittens, and shoes. I am always amazed every Sept at the number of kids who clearly have never been expected to put on their own shoes! If she has a backpack, she can start carrying her things and help with packing it. It’s all about teaching independence!

    12. LK03*

      Thanks everyone for the replies and suggestions!

      Some of the things we are already doing but didn’t think of as ‘chores’ — like working on having her pick out her own clothes and dress herself, or having her take her own jacket and shoes off when we come inside. And pushing buttons — that’s a favorite! Her father hit on the idea of having her turn the light on and off in her room (rocker switch) with her foot for nighttime diaper changes when she was about 3 months old, so we’ve got that one covered ;) and on a recent trip she was very excited about taking care of the elevator buttons in our hotel. (She’s just learning to recognize numerals now, which made the elevator extra fun: “Can you push the button with the 5?”)

      Some of the ideas (unsurprisingly) won’t work for us — no pets, and (shocked gasp) we don’t actually sort our laundry by color, and we don’t vacuum very much (hardwood floors). But I had already been thinking of getting her her very own little broom. And the idea of having her sort her own socks once the laundry is clean is brilliant — as is putting away her clean clothes, since her things are all in a low Ikea shelf-and-bucket thingy that she can reach.

      We definitely plan on starting her with cooking soonish, but I didn’t think of that as a chore either, lol. She already helped with the cookie cutters at holiday cookie time.

      I’m amazed, though, at all the suggestions about wiping off the table and setting the table. She’s only about 35 inches tall/not even a meter, so she barely clears the top of the table with her head. Still, those are good ideas to keep in mind for when she gets a little taller! (And she does wipe off her own highchair tray after meals…she likes to wipe things.)

    13. paul*

      I like to have ours help load the washer and unload the dishwasher and put up their own laundry. We pretty much have to supervise of course but…I keep telling myself it’ll help long run (I hope I’m right!)

    14. Jen*

      My kids (4.5,2) started helping set the table and unload the DW at or before 2. Now that my older one is…older…they can empty almost the whole dishwasher.the two year old gets plastic plates and paper napkins for everyone. We store all our plastic dishes in a low cabinet.

      I remove knives from the dishwasher, then the kids do the entire bottom rack. I do glasses and mugs out of the top rack and they do the rest.

      They help with laundry- older one started around 3 but has been helping my 2 y/o learn even younger. 2 y/o folds wash cloths and matches socks and puts her clothes in the right drawer (with supervision).

      They both sweep, though it’s really for practice for the 2 y/o. 2 y/o vacuums up crumbs if I give her the nozzle. They pick up many of their toys.

    15. Amy*

      My 19-month-old feeds the dog, picks up her toys and books at the end of the day, helps unload the dishwasher, carries her dirty clothes to the hamper, and wipes up any spills she makes. She thinks all of these tasks are great fun. We’re planning to add more as she grows older.

    16. Observer*

      Make clean up part of her routine. She puts away every.single.toy. Every.single.day.

      Have her put her things in the clothes hamper when she gets undressed.

      Help set and clear the table.

    17. Bunny McFoo*

      Oh, this is such a fun age to be working with! I have access to a wonderful resource in my mother – I turned out okay AND she taught preschool for twenty three years – and I just ran this question by her. Some of what she suggested has already been mentioned, but here’s a few that haven’t been:

      – Pouring the (pre-measured) soap in when doing laundry or running the dishwasher – or if no dishwasher is used, squeezing the bottle of dish soap.

      – Sorting laundry either before or after washing not only teaches household skills, it can be a great way to teach matching and patterns/scale – ie, these socks are little, these are Little LK socks. Can you find them all? Now these socks are bigger, these are Mama LK socks, etc. (Apparently I used to LOVE sorting out my undies from Mom’s undies and I still to this day adore folding towels. Folding sheets was another big favorite – I would hold two corners and she would hold the other two and we’d make it go UP and DOWN and then bring corners together!)

      – When you start cooking with her, apparently the biggies are helping to stir and (again) pouring things into the bowl. This is also a great time to start teaching her about some ingredients by letting her taste or smell them and then explaining what they do – things like salt, sugar, herbs, sauces, etc. We made muffins every Saturday and age two is when I got to start helping to decide what went into the muffins – from pre-selected options, of course – and eventually I did take over the muffins entirely. (I will have you know that pumpkin muffins with pistachios and dried apricots are shockingly good and we still eat them now, 30+ years on)

      – This is a great age to have them start “helping” with the grocery shopping – by which I mean explaining what you’re doing when you shop, and why. When we went to the farmer’s market I had my own little shopping bag and I was so proud of it! (Granted, it had things like, oh, one green bean, a flower, and a pretty pebble in it, but it’s *training* so that’s okay)

      – Dusting! Dusting is great for kids. I was always allowed to dust the shelves of the bookcases that I could reach and it was my own special job to dust the baseboards every week.

      – Making the bed: while much of this is going to be outside the scope of what a 2 year old can do, Mom suggests letting them “finish making the bed” by putting the pillows at the head of it and also possibly helping to pull the sheets or duvet up depending on how high the bed is

      1. LK03*

        Thanks for the detailed comment — sounds like your mom is a great resource!

        We already do some of the food and shopping things, like showing her ingredients and how we cook, and talking with her about what we’re doing while grocery shopping.

        Lots of folks have recommended laundry and sorting, and that certainly sounds like fun; I know kids like to match things. Lots of folks have also recommended setting/clearing the table, but she is way too short for that now! A good idea for the future, though.

        (Apparently you are from a universe where dusting the baseboards happens weekly? ;) That did make me giggle!)

        1. Bored IT Guy*

          When you are changing sheets on your (or her) bed, have her help take the old pillowcases off and put the clean pillowcases on the pillows.

  9. Elsa*

    Just venting about small frustrations that add up to a big frustration.

    I’d been waiting for a delivery (which contains information that could potentially be life changing but can’t be given over phone or email) and got a notice from UPS saying no one was home on their first attempt. I got permission to WFH the next day to make sure I’d be in…and found another notification instead!

    That’s when I realised the buzzer to my flat was broken! This was on Friday so my property manager can’t get it fixed before Monday (when the final delivery attempt is scheduled). There’s no option to get it re-directed or left at a pick-up spot and I have to sign for it in person. So basically on Monday I’ll probably have to just stand outside the door to my building for the four-hour window they give and hope to intercept the delivery person before they can leave another notice!

    Sigh. I hate it when something is delayed on a Friday ’til ‘next business day’ because that just puts a dampener on the weekend. Now I’m both annoyed by the prospect of having to literally stand and wait for hours, /and/ anxious about the results I’m waiting for. Not a good combo. ARGH.

    1. Red Reader*

      Oh geez!! :(
      Could you maybe stick a note, “buzzer broken, I swear I’m home, please call (phone number)” or something like that?

      1. Elsa*

        I thought about that, but I live on a really busy street (which has a restaurant downstairs so a lot of people go past) and I’m not all that comfortable putting my number there (probably paranoia, but still…). Plus I’m worried the note might get lost or something (paranoia x 2). I don’t get many packages like this though, so I’ll just have to suck it up and hope they come earlier in that window!

    2. Lcsa99*

      The buzzer at our old place was broker so we left a sign on the door saying it was broken but if they called my cell (number on the note) I would run down to meet him. Worked perfectly.

      Good luck!

      1. Elsa*

        Nope, I tired to arrange it online and it wouldn’t give me that option. I called the number and all I got were automated options to return to sender or arrange a different day. I’m in the UK, maybe options here are different?

    3. DietCokeHead*

      Oh, that’s really frustrating! I hope you can get the package on the third attempt. Good luck with everything!

    4. Jerry Vandesic*

      If you sign up for UPS My Choice, a free service, you can have packages delivered to local UPS store, which will hold the package until you go and pick it up. If you sign up for the paid version you can reroute the package to work, but I have found that delivering to the UPS Store works for me.

      1. Elsa*

        I tired to sign up to that option online! But it wouldn’t let me do it, I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a sensitive item or because the service isn’t available in the UK, but…ugh.

    5. valentine*

      See if you can get it redirected or if there’s a place on the notice to write in “buzzer broken/call me” or “buzz apt x” (having arranged w/ your neighbor to help you here).

  10. Crappy family issues*

    Cut my manipulative and abusive parents off completely three years ago. Best. Decision. Ever.
    My parents have been whiny as hell about it, pestering my husband and adult kids about it, showing up at my house uninvited, sending whiny letters on a regular basis that I don’t look at but husband reads and summarizes to me. Husband does not get it at all and is trying to play peacemaker and we’ve had a bazillion fights over it.
    I get along fine with most of my siblings, and we get together when we can. They all DO get it and have all at various times and for various reasons done the same thing.
    BUT. Family wedding this summer. I don’t want to miss it, as I love the people getting married dearly. It’s not local, we’ll be flying in and staying nearby all week. (I already drew the line at staying in the hotel.)
    BUT. Parents will be there.
    I could easily just ignore them and steer clear, but given their whiny persistence, that isn’t likely to work.
    If husband were 100% on board, I could get him to play interference. But he won’t. He’ll try to “broker peace.”
    Any advice or strategies for me?

    1. Red Reader*

      This is a husband problem. He doesn’t have to get it, he needs to be on Team You. Why is he so dedicated to disrespecting your wishes for dealing with your toxic family members?

      1. Jules the Third*

        +1 from another Awkward fan.

        But since he isn’t, yeah, reach out to other Team You members like your siblings. Maybe ask the family member getting married if you can have a ‘troubleshooter’ role at the wedding, so that anytime the Whining Parents (WPs) start to close in, you have to duck into the kitchen to check on appetizers, or round up that stray bridesmaid for pictures. You’d need a separate troubleshooter designated to any issues specific to WPs, and don’t get stuck with anything where you’re nailed to one spot.

      2. Drop Bear*

        I agree but fixing that is the long game. The short game is getting through the wedding probably. Sorry if my sports metaphors failed!

        1. Red Reader*

          I mean, it’s not a long game though. It’s really simple. If I say “I don’t want (whoever) to be in my life,” especially where (whoever) is someone that my husband wouldn’t have any interactions with ANYWAY if he didn’t know me, then his only role in the exchange is to go “Okay.” and help me out with making that not happen. He doesn’t get to second-guess me or argue with me or try to change my mind, because doing any of that makes him a jerk.

          It’s a little less simple if it’s HIS family that I’m trying to cut out of my life, but still can be pretty straightforward, and he still doesn’t get to argue with me as long as I’m not saying HE has to cut them out too. (My husband’s twin brother and I amicably despise each other. So when he goes to hang out with his brother, I stay home. It’s really not rocket surgery.)

          1. Drop Bear*

            It shouldn’t be a long game but it can be. What he SHOULD do and what he WILL do are likely miles apart. It can be hard for people with functional families/upbringings to understand that estrangement can be the healthiest option. Or perhaps he doesn’t believe her about her family, or (insert a dozen other possible reasons here)….. Whatever the reason he’s not on her side at the moment, so while in the ideal world he’d step up for the wedding he hasn’t in the past (a bazillion fights!) so the OP needs a strategy for the wedding that takes into account that he most likely won’t have ‘seen the light’ by then.

            1. Red Reader*

              Again, he doesn’t have to “see the light.” He needs to show some respect for his wife. If he can’t do that, then maybe he can just stay home by himself and at least not actively sabotage her mental health. Because that’s what he’s doing, and that’s not something that she should be expected to wait around for him to decide he’s ready to stop.

              1. Drop Bear*

                I’m not disagreeing with you about what he should do. But people often don’t do what they should and sometimes that never changes. CFI’s reality is that he ‘doesn’t get it’ , he hasn’t changed his ‘peace maker’ role in spite of a gazillion fights about it and he can’t be relied on to play interference at the wedding. Saying over and over why he is wrong won’t change CFI’s reality.

                What’s more, I didn’t say she was ‘expected to wait around for him to decide he’s ready to stop’. I think it is clear I was trying to point out that he probably wouldn’t stop quickly, if at all, and so she needed strategies to manage the wedding around that. Which is what she was asking for in the post!

          2. Crappy family issues*

            We’re totally working on it, but it absolutely IS a long game here. If all your relationship conflicts are resolved in a snap, you’re hugely lucky. It’s not that simple. But you can go on enjoying your marvelously simple and straightforward life full of nothing but easy fixes.

      3. Emilie*

        I had the same thought. Some things are not up for debate in a relationship. He’ll have to respect your decision. And then you can debate everything else, from the colour of the bathroom tiles to where you should go on vacation, or how you should treat your children.

      4. neverjaunty*

        My guess is that he dislikes conflict and has his own But Faaaaamily issues and he’s dumping them all over CFI.

        Dude needs to be sat down and told to cut it out, immediately and forever. And if he wants to read whiny letters he can do so silently and to himself.

        1. Crappy family issues*

          No, he doesn’t have family issues. That’s why this is an issue. He cannot wrap his brain around the idea that a parent/child relationship can be so bad I don’t *want* to salvage it.
          He is conflict averse, too, so you’re right on that part.

          1. Natalie*

            Have you tried talking about this with a couples counselor? With my spouse and I sometimes we need a third party that’s not invested/frustrated/defensive to reframe/rephrase the issue for the one of us to get it.

    2. Not That Jane*

      Honestly, I think you’ll ultimately need your husband to “get it.” Any chance of doing a few sessions of couples counseling to talk it through and help him get there?

    3. neverjaunty*

      You already know if you go to this wedding that you are going to have to do some family deflection as the price of admission.

      Sounds like before going you need to have an extremely serious chat with Husband about expectations: he doesn’t have to agree with your decision, but he has to respect it, and that means having your back and not undermining you.

    4. Temperance*

      It’s really hard for people who haven’t dealt with these issues to understand. There’s a recent column in “Care and Feeding” on Slate that has some excellent advice, and (shockingly) the comments are great.

    5. Another Anonymous Librarian*

      Suggestion for the JustNOFamily on Reddit, if you haven’t been there. They have a lot of strategies and advice, not just about parents but also about your not 100% SO.

    6. Anono-me*

      Is husband close to the engaged couple? If not, maybe he shouldn’t go. I don’t mean this in a high drama way; rather if he isn’t close to the engaged, you have to buy a plane ticket for him, and he will try to make things 50s tv family happy between you and your parents rather than 50 feet away happy that maybe it doesn’t make any sense for him to go.
      Good luck.

    7. heckofabecca*

      I cut off my dad about 2 weeks before my own wedding; the next summer, a cousin on his side got married and he’d be there. I feel you!!! It’s such a stressor.

      I’m sorry that your husband isn’t supporting you in this. He should be! As if things aren’t stressful enough without him adding crap to the pile. :/ So many props to you for holding fast even in the fact of such behavior. I don’t know how I would have managed it in your situation.

      Do any of your siblings still talk to your parents? If so, can you talk to them about potentially running interference at the event? If not, maybe they have other ideas. Good luck.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Fire him as UN peacekeeper.
      This means tell him to stop summarizing letters for you. And anything else he does to bridge the relationship.
      See, when we let other people do these things, it gives them an inroad that they can use to get more involved in things. Or perhaps it makes them feel like they are responsible even if they aren’t.
      Take away his power to be involved.

      So this is take with one hand and give with the other hand.

      Here’s the give part. I had a fight with my father. It was not good, my husband never seen us get really ticked at each other. It took a long time, but months after my father and I worked through our issue, my husband finally opened up and he said he had never seen two people get so ticked at each other. Then it dawned on me. He was looking at my relationship with my parents and trying to see what that would mean in my relationship with HIM!
      Help your husband to understand that this is your relationship with your parents and he does not need to worry about you handling your relationship with him in a similar manner. Explain that he is very different from your folks and you don’t need to put your foot down in such a hard way with him. Also say that you realize that you have been letting him bridge the gap between you and your folks and this is asking too much of him. Tell him from now on your relationship (or the lack of relationship) will be solely on you to handle. Yes, that maybe a little be removed from reality. Reality might be that he inserted himself when his help was not wanted. However, in order to reach your husband you will have to have a very high awareness of HIS perspective. And you will have to meet him on the grounds with a sign that says “Husband’s perspective, enter here.” Make sure he knows that you love him and make sure he knows you remember you promised you will always love him.

      1. Dopameanie*

        This is brilliant. I was going to type something similar, but you did a much better job than I could have. I co-sign *EVERYTHING* NSNR put.

    9. Casuan*

      Attend the wedding & don’t let anyone prevent you from celebrating with those you love.
      Tell your husband that your focus is on the happy couple & that you will be civil with your parents. Also tell him that whilst you appreciate that he tries to broker peace it is now officially time that he stops doing this. Expect a learning curve because this seems to be his default mode; when he goes into mediator mode remind him that you don’t want to hear it & change the subject.

      Civil can only go so far before it becomes strained, so have civil topics on hand &or an out for when your parents talk with you… deflection can work although when that fails always have an out:
      “The kids are doing well, thank you for asking! How is Great Aunt Esther doing?”
      “Somebody asked me how my mum & dad met & I told them I couldn’t do the story justice. Tell me again?”
      “This isn’t a good time to discuss why [I’m a horrid daughter who can’t take your whining]. Excuse me, I need to go [do this other thing].”

      Also have an out with any mediator wanna-bes who want to talk with you.
      “Wakeen, I appreciate what you’re trying to do although this isn’t the venue for that. Did you hear how Fergus & Arya met? It’s epic!”

      It can definitely help to have a partner-in-crime who will run interference, such as to be the person who asked how your parents met. Bonus if your husband would agree to support you in this way!

    10. Onomatopoeia*

      As difficult as this is, just be the bigger person. The greatest gift that you can give to the about-to-be-wedded couple is no trill of stress and dissension through their wedding ceremony and festivities. Hard? Oh heck yes. I’ve experienced similar estrangement issues in my life, we all have. Give everyone, including yourself, the gift of conducting yourself with calm, disinterested courtesy when you must interact with your folks. You aren’t endorsing their behavior or their treatment of you; you’re not offering renewed relations when the wedding week is over, you’re simple claiming the higher ground. If they try to bait you, and likely they will, with conversation to discuss the undercurrent, reply with a happy remark about the wedding. Or the lovely venue. This is how I endured my abusive ex at my daughter’s wedding. No one who didn’t already know, would have guessed the years of pain and misery between the two of us. I did this for my daughter. It didn’t harm me. I gave her the gift of no unpleasant undercurrent. No snipe, no sarcasm. Just happiness on her behalf. It is near physically painful to endure the presence of someone who has harmed you and not let it show, believe me, I truly get it. My coping thought is: “Let go, let love, let life, let God.”

      1. Crappy family issues*

        That’s exactly what I want to do. Problem is, my parents will try to force the issue. When they showed up uninvited at my home, I could refuse to let them in, close the door and wait for them to leave. Can’t exactly do that at a wedding.
        I *know* how to behave myself. You make it sound like I don’t.

        1. Mustela Furo*

          I disagree that you are called upon to “be the bigger person” and “be nice.” Victims of abuse or bullying are often asked to “be the bigger person” and it is annoying as hell. If you want to go to the wedding, go…just be civil and brief to these difficult people. Have multiple escape plans, such as refreshing your drink, talking to an old friend, having to pee, getting an urgent call. You can deploy the phrase “I’m not discussing this now” and “Let’s focus on the wedding!” If you think they won’t leave you alone (like, they will chase you to the bar or bathroom), enlist the help of other relatives to run interference who will magically show up and ask them for stories or advice, or even tell them to Leave It Alone. I strongly encourage you to take your own car (maybe even a separate one from your husband, if he isn’t on Your Team) and be ready to just leave the venue if absolutely necessary. Hugs from afar if you want them!

    11. valentine*

      Can you not draw a hard line about the no-contact? forbid receipt of letters at your residence. (In the US, you can send them back “RTS Refused”. Take before/after photos, in case you need evidence someday.) Tell your husband and kids to stop mentioning your parents. There is a greater peace possible. Ask the couple if they have designated bouncers and work with them and your siblings to devise multiple redirects of your parents/commanding your parents’ attention, versus you having to run around to avoid them.

    12. LilySparrow*

      I’d leave husband at home, honestly.

      “I can do this on my own, or I can miss out on something really important to me. But I can’t do it with you along, because you will spend the whole time hurting me and making my life harder.”

      One would hope it might be a wake-up call.

    13. ket*

      Of all the weird places to get ideas, the “Dealing with In-laws” forum on BabyCenter (or the “All in the family” board) might be good. There are a lot of readers there who have dealt with crazier parents (pestering, showing up, sending whiny letters, stalking, breaking in, starting lawsuits, trying to steal grandchildren, etc) and it sounds like you’re at the level of difficulty that requires stronger measures than “be polite” and “change the topic gracefully”.

    14. Dopameanie*

      So, no joke, my wedding and reception budget included paying for a BOUNCER. Just in case certain relations decided to show up unannounced or certain invited relations tried to make a scene. Can you leave husband at home and invite an intimidating muscly friend instead? Tell people you brought a buddy from work since hubby is feeling under the weather? Or, I mean, you could be honest and say you don’t want to talk to your parents but they insist on invading your life so you brought someone who can minimize that? This is a more dramatic solution than others will suggest, but it’s advantage is that it may embarrass your parents to the point they leave you alone. No matter how you handle it, I agree with others that you have a marriage issue not a parental issue. I hope it works out!!

    15. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Reddit. JustNoSO, JustNoFamily, JustNoMIL. Whichever applies to you.

      I’ve also heard good things about DWIL, but never spent time there.

    16. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m coming in late, but motherinlawstories.com is a great resource (not only for dealing with ILs, but your own family as well).

  11. The Other Dawn*

    As part of my commitment to start cooking more (no motivation lately), eat healthier and journal my food intake (in an effort to lose a few pounds and take back control), I bought a couple sweet potatoes last weekend. I was at the store, feeling positive and seeing some nice looking produce, which is how I ended up with two big sweet potatoes–about a pound and a half.

    What to do with them? I find that recipes that prominently feature sweet potato as the main ingredient are just too much for me, such as roasted or mashed, or hash. I’d rather it be more in proportion with other ingredients, or an accent. I found a recipe for sweet potato cornbread on Budget Bytes, but that would be dangerous to have in the house. I don’t think I could control myself.

    If it helps, I have a bunch of grains, like wheatberries, farro, quinoa and amaranth (don’t even remember why I bought this!). I have some lentils (I thought about SP lentil loaf). Pasta, of course. Meats.

    1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Maybe a shepherd’s/cottage pie with mashed sweet potato instead of regular potato? I had a good vegan one with lentils recently, although I’m sure you could use actual meat too.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was going to suggest this too! I made one this week. Just threw every vegetable I had (leeks, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, carrots) in a cast iron pan and used mashed sweet potatoes for the topping. I was planning to use lentils, but I ended up having so many veggies that I just threw in some silken tofu.

    2. Zathras*

      I love to eat sweet potatoes very plain – just cut them up into small pieces and cook them in olive oil. Once they are cooked, put some salt and pepper on top and you’re done! I do this on the stovetop in a cast iron pan but the oven would probably work too. Sometimes I get fancy and add some different spices on (paprika is a favorite). I eat this as a main dish, usually with some greens on the side. (I tend to like boring food, so YMMV on whether this is a suitable main dish.)

      As a bonus, sweet potatoes do not lose any deliciousness if you burn them a little bit, so if some of them look burned, don’t toss them – just think of them as artisanally seared. They will taste fine.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like this too–and if I nuke the potato about halfway cooked and then put it in the fridge, I can take it out and cut it up later and cook it. It saves time so I can have it for breakfast.

        The other day, I had corned beef hash, two poached eggs, and a small spinach salad for breakfast. Vegetables aren’t just for dinner! :)

        Also, I like to cut up cooked sweet potatoes and put them in ramen. You can do this with a different soup if you don’t eat ramen.

    3. Drop Bear*

      I make sweet potato, green bean, tomato and red lentil curry a lot. Coconut milk and/or cream to thicken if desired. Served on a bed of whatever grain you have.

      1. Emilie*

        I’m joining team curry! Dahl/daal is also a great indian dish to use up stuff like sweet potato.

    4. Jules the Third*

      Sweet potatoes would go well in a grain salad, but it also freezes really well. We buy 30lbs at a time, spend a day roasting / peeling / mashing / freezing them and have easy sweet potatoes for 3 months.

      If you chose to do that, find serving-sized storage containers and freeze each serving individually. I use the Glad freezer squares; Mr. Jules uses vacuum sealer bags.

    5. Not That Jane*

      Ming Tsai has a vegetarian paella recipe with edamame and sweet potato. Not sure if it’s available online, but you could try Googling for that.

    6. Drop Bear*

      If you are craving a sweet bite, a favourite of mine is diced sweet potato microwaved until soft, then fried with diced apple, sliced banana and ginger to taste (powdered or grated) in ‘healthy’ oil until the banana softens.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Ohhhh…that’s a great idea. And I have two bananas that are heading south very quickly. Although they are VERY ripe so I might be better off saving those for baked oatmeal.

    7. epi*

      Sweet potatoes (any potatoes really) make a good base for other foods that aren’t a meal on their own, kind of like pasta or rice. Cube then, bake them, and use the time to make a topping. Quick veggie chili (can of black beans +can of tomatoes + western veggie mix + seasonings) and cooked down dark leafy greens taste great with sweet potatoes. I like my greens with red pepper, lemon, and parmesan. Or ginger and jalapeño.

      Mashed sweet potatoes also make a really good breakfast. Salt them, then top then with some plain yogurt and dried berries or granola. If you use granola it’s more like eating oatmeal, not an overwhelming sweet potato experience. The great thing about them is you should get more than two breakfasts for your effort since you are mixing them with other stuff.

    8. Agnodike*

      Unloading the dishwasher is a fave for my small people – I put their plastic dishes on the bottom when I load it and they take them out and stack them for me, or sort the cutlery as we put it away. Matching socks when we put away laundry is another fave, as is wiping down the table and high chair after a meal and cleaning up spills etc with a cloth. Outdoor chores were very fun with my eldest, who loved to pull weeds and did a surprisingly good job identifying them on her own (although we always confirmed before they got pulled!) but her brother was fond of eating dandelions so he didn’t get to do that one as often.

      1. Agnodike*

        I don’t know why this nested here instead of under the toddler chores, but since I’m here…toss them in oil, paprika, garlic powder and salt, and bake at 400 until they’re caramelized. Good side dish, good as part of a salad, good as a snack.

    9. Sweet potato help*

      I’m also a person who often finds plain sweet potatoes to be Too Much. Crisping them helps me, fwiw. In terms of specific recipes, the New York times has a recipe for oven baked hash (with white potatoes) and I find that making it with half white potatoes and half sweet potatoes is a good choice. Smitten kitchen also just posted a recipe for sweet potato and black bean tacos that I think would be quite good and help mitigate (via crisping, the addition of black beans, and toppings like salty cheese and pickled onions) the richness and sweetness that are the aspects of sweet potatoes I find can be unappealing.

    10. Die Forelle (The Trout)*

      I make a southwestern-flavored quinoa and sweet potato bowl:
      1. Cube the sweet potato, toss on a baking sheet with salt, pepper, and chipotle chili powder (reg chili powder would probably work, too). Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or so
      2. Make a pot of quinoa according to package directions
      3. Dice a red bell pepper, then saute the pepper, some black beans, and some corn in a skillet
      4. Put it all in a bowl together with some sliced or chopped avocado, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and a squeeze of lime juice. Some cilantro and/or green onions to garnish if you have them.

      This is one of my go-to easy meals, it’s vegetarian and can be done vegan by omitting the sour cream/yogurt. It sounds like a lot from the directions, but you can probably do all of steps 2-4 while the sweet potatoes roast.

    11. Junior Dev*

      You could do a veggie burger with mashed sweet potato, cooked lentils, some flour or bread crumbs for binding, and whatever seasonings. Heat up some oil in a skillet, pick up a scoop of the veggie burger mix with a large spoon, plop it on, and flip it after about 5 minutes, then keep cooking and flipping til it is browned on both sides.

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You can always do a grain bowl! Roast some sweet potatoes, chickpeas, broccoli, carrots… anything you have, really. Place on top of grains and make some kind of sauce (when I did this on Thursday I made a peanut-tahini sauce) and you have a delicious, healthy, filling dinner. Very little clean-up too, if you use parchment paper on your baking sheet when you roast the veggies.

    13. Chameleon*

      Stuffed sweet potato can be a main or side dish: Roast one sweet potato per person. When it’s done, scoop out the flesh and mash it. Meanwhile, sautee some ground turkey, diced carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms and add it to the mashed potato. Put the mash back into the potato skin and serve! Makes a very filling dinner with plenty of leftovers, and one cup (a generous serving) is less than 400 calories.

    14. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      If you “bake” a sweet potato in the microwave and only use a little at a time it’ll keep for a while wrapped up in the fridge. Try substituting it for 30% of the regular potato in dishes you already know you like. You can also mash one or two spoonfuls into a bowl of oatmeal, or add a few scoops to a batch of muffins. Not enough for it to be a dominant flavor, just a little hint.

    15. PB*

      I like to peel and chop them, sauté them, and make them into a curry. I don’t have a recipe. I just make it up with what I have on hand. Usually, I cook down some coconut milk, add some red curry paste and whatever spices I have on hand, add the sweet potatoes and any other vegetables I have on hand, and serve over rice.

    16. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! I definitely will try some of them. I especially like the chili idea, as well as shepherd’s pie and a few others.

      I think next time I will plan a little better when I want to buy something new. That’s the problem with going grocery shopping when you want to try something new, but don’t know what–you just pick up random stuff without thinking how you’ll use it.

    17. periwinkle*

      Echoing the suggestion to use sweet potatoes in chili. I make a veggie-heavy (but not vegetarian) chili with ground turkey, cubed sweet potatoes, winter squash if I’m feeling brave enough to cut it, chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, chopped kale, diced tomatoes, and at least two colors of beans (black beans plus some other type). I also make Japanese curry regularly with pork, onions, and sweet potatoes.

      If you puree cooked sweet potatoes, it mixes in nicely with tomato-based sauces and adds a bit of natural sweetness along with the extra beta carotene kick.

    18. Ali G*

      A couple of options:
      Google “vegan lentil chili” and get the recipe from The Kitchin and sub the butternut squash for sweet potato.
      Shred along with either shredded zucchini (be sure to squeeze water out) or regular shredded potato and make potato cakes (mix shredded veg with some egg and a little flour or corn meal. Drop dollops in a cast iron pan with some oil and cook on each side until brown and crispy). I eat this on a bed of spinach and shallot, with some greek yogurt.
      I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes either. They are too sweet for me, but these two recipes balance them out a bit.

    19. HannahS*

      Some kind of grain with roasted sweet potato chunks, a green veggie like green beans, and protein/no protein as desired (beans! chicken! tofu!), with either a lime-based vinagrette dressing or maybe a chili-based one, or a sweet honey-mustard.

    20. cat socks*

      I am doing my meal planning for the week and am going to make the Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato & Kale. This my second time making it because it’s delicious!

        1. Still working on the user name*

          The cocoa powder is a stroke of genius, imo. It adds such an incredible depth of flavor. I hope you enjoy – this is my absolute favorite recipe to share!

    21. Stellaaaaa*

      How about baking them like a regular baked potato? They caramelize a bit and get sweeter. Just add butter.

    22. Roja*

      I’m a huge fan of baking them in the microwave (or oven if that’s your thing). Then while it’s baking, you sautee up some black or kidney beans with some chopped tomatoes in a pinch of olive oil, and add curry powder or cumin, coriander, and salt. Top with some sour cream. Oh man, is it ever good!

    23. LilySparrow*

      I like them anywhere you’d use a regular potato:

      Soup, stew, filling in a pasty, hash, sliced and oven-fried, grated for pancakes, etc.

    24. The Other Dawn*

      Something I just thought to ask, since there are apparently a lot of sweet potato lovers here: what would be the approximate weight of a small, medium or large potato? I bought two, and they weighed a total of 1.5 pounds. And those were two of the smaller ones in the bin.

  12. Anne*

    I’ve been thinking a bit about chronic illnesses lately. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness when I was around 13. I always try to remind myself that I’m lucky it’s one of the relatively less ‘disruptive’ ones (no obviously outward symptoms, controlled with medication) but when there’s a flare-up I can’t help but be a bit resentful of all the people who don’t have to deal with this stuff (or having to worry about keeping up with meds etc. in the first place).

    Recently though one of my friends mentioned that she also has a chronic illness (it was just in passing, about why she was switching up her diet/lifestyle), also one that’s mostly invisible. I’d never have suspected her of having any health problems before she told me this, and I’ve known her since we were in high school!

    That just got me wondering how many other people in my life (inner or outer circles) are actually dealing with their own health issues that I wouldn’t have guessed. After all no one would know about my condition unless I tell them (or if they’re a medical professional and know what they’re looking for), so it’s possible that they’d felt about me the way I’d felt about other people not having to deal with certain issues.

    Anyway, that’s rambling a bit, but I guess it was just a bit of a reminder to not assume everyone else has it easy just because the have no noticeable problems.

    1. CleverGirl*

      I have sleep apnea and I regularly go through resentment phases. I’m not overweight, and was diagnosed in my 20s and I didn’t fit the “profile” fit sleep apnea at all. My neurologist was shocked at my sleep study results. I hate hate HATE using a CPAP but I don’t sleep well without it, and honestly even with it I don’t think my sleep quality is as good as people who don’t have sleep apnea. I’m so angry and jealous of other people who can just plop into bed and go to sleep without strapping a huge mask to their face and turning on a machine to help them breathe, and who can go camping in a tent without electricity, and who wake up feeling energetic and refreshed instead of wanting to also for 10 more hours.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Though my home medical company did give me a sheet of instructions on how you could hook a CPAP up to a marine/deep cycle battery for use in places without power. I haven’t done it yet.

      2. Lujessmin*

        I freaking LOVE my CPAP. The fact that I get 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep outweighs any inconvenience (although, I don’t really have a problem with using it.)

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          It’s definitely a love/hate relationship for me. I do like the better quality of sleep, but the mask is just such a nuisance. Maybe someday there will be something better.

          1. CleverGirl*

            I hold out hope for this. Since sleep apnea is such a common sleep disorder, I hope there is research going on for ways to fix, cure, or deal with it.

        2. CleverGirl*

          Okay I admit I love that I actually sleep now, but I hate the fact that I have to have a CPAP to sleep. So I guess it is a love-hate thing. I don’t like that it restricts the positions I can sleep in (I used to sleep on my stomach but that position pushes the mask off my face) and that I am tethered to something with a hose, and that LITERALLY EVERY NIGHT as soon as I turn it on my nose starts itching and I have to pull the mask off to scratch it, and then it makes sneezing kind of a pain (I also have basically chronic allergies so I’m pretty much always sneezing). I do like that I don’t wake up with a splitting headache every morning, and that I can go to a meeting during the day and not start nodding off halfway through.

    2. Kj*

      I totally agree that lots of people don’t obviously look like they have health problems, but do. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS due to fertility problems. I talked to three separate friends about it and they ALL had PCOS too. It was so weird. I am the “least conventional” of the PCOS diagnoses, which is why mine wasn’t caught until I was 31 and trying to get pregnant for over a year. Now I’m 12 weeks pregnant and super happy. But it was interesting to realize so many people had what I thought was a rare illness.

    3. fposte*

      I think that increased diagnosis and awareness means that chronic illnesses are really common, and the older you get the more likely you are to have something and to have friends with something. IMHO, the needle is shifting a bit from the “the majority is healthy and some unlucky people have a problem” to “many bodies have factory-installed glitches and most bodies undergo detectable wear and tear that affects their operators’ lives.”

      1. Casuan*

        …“many bodies have factory-installed glitches and most bodies undergo detectable wear and tear that affects their operators’ lives.”

        Love this!!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I read some where that 90% of the population has a heart problem. For many the problem will never develop into something that warrants treatment. But I would be willing to bet that it contributes to other problems later in life.

      3. TL -*

        It’s mostly due to an aging population – the older the population gets, the more likely something chronic pops up. Evolution really only pushes for a healthy majority to the end of the reproductive years*; we now have a population that is living long beyond that, due to effective treatments for most acute conditions.

        Obviously, if you look at populations with limited access to health care and large socioeconomic problems, you’ll see the opposite – lots of acute problems, very few chronic ones, and a much younger population.

        *Why Huntington’s disease can stay in the population even though it’s caused by a dominant gene – it manifests after reproductive years are done (40s/50s) and thus is not quickly eliminated from the gene pool like the majority of deadly dominant mutations are.

    4. nep*

      I hope I’m not going too off-track here.
      I teach fitness classes and over time I’ve learned that many of the beautiful, upbeat, fit people I’ve met have had or still have some crazy challenging health issues. It’s humbling and uplifting every day. And just a great reminder — we never know what people have been through or are going through.
      I had a lovely and powerful reminder a few months back. I was at a gathering where I interacted and played music with some people. This one woman had a particularly beautiful glow about her. I was drawn to her; at the same time my jerk brain was entertaining all those ridiculous thoughts we sometimes have — comparing myself to her. All that ego BS.
      Well. I exchanged emails with her a few days later as part of something I was writing about the event. I learned from her email she’s survived a brain tumor, six brain surgeries, two strokes, and she’d died twice.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Many of the beautiful, fit, upbeat people have had that “come to Jesus” moment where the choices are “sink” or “swim” and they chose “swim”. This woman chose “swim” many times over. This is someone who is tremendously strong at their core/spirit/whatever we can call it.

        It’s okay, nep. You have your own unique beauty that no one else has. So do I and so does everyone else.

        1. nep*

          Thanks. Oh I didn’t mean to suggest that I doubt that one bit. Sure we all have moments when we’re down and not at our best, and some of us do that comparing thing. In any case I know that it’s only when I glory in the grace, beauty, and power of others as well as myself that I’m free.
          All One.

    5. Junior Dev*

      I have a bunch of stuff going on and I don’t know to what extent I would classify it as a chronic illness–it’s more like I have a bunch of mental health problems that take various forms in various life circumstances, plus some weird food intolerancees, plus a susceptibility to some physical health problems that I need to work hard to make sure they don’t flare up again.

      But yeah. I’m on a bunch of psych meds right now and it keeps me marginally functional at work and in society as a whole. I also exercise a lot because if I go more than a few days without it, my brain goes to a pretty dark place. Right now my project is learning to exercise in a way that doesn’t over-exert myself, to approach it from a place of joy and self-compassion rather than grinding myself into the ground and risking injuries. I’m starting physical therapy again and it’s bringing up a bunch of unpleasant feelings about the last time I had major physical health problems.

      I wonder how many people are suffering in some mental or physical way and they’ve gotten used to it and don’t realize there are resources out there that could help them. Probably a lot. I know before the current round of psych meds I was getting used to the idea that ordinary social interactions would send me into a spiral of self-loathing panic.

    6. Thlayli*

      There’s an old saying “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

      The perfect life doesn’t exist. Every single person I’ve ever been close enough to to have deep meaningful conversations with has some serious sadness going on, whether it be health issues, family issues, abuse, childhood bullying, whatever. No one has the perfect life, even if if looks like it from the outside. Everyone has problems.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on.

        I had a family member (FM) who argued that there were people out there having perfect lives. I started to enter the argument but I backed out because of the absurdity. FM actually believes people have perfect lives, which sets her up for huge, larger than life disappointments with her own life.

        Growing up in the 60s, we were all told how marvelous the Kennedy family was. The pics were idyllic. It was so easy to get drawn into the dream. The truth is that they are a family, not much different than every other family, a mix of good eggs and rotten apples, those who are just lost and those who die too young. That’s it. No amount of wealth, fame, followers can shield us from Life Stuff.

      2. Mobuy*

        Yes Thayli, this is so true. I had cancer 5 years ago, my parents-in-law lost a 14-year-old daughter 14 years ago, the list goes on and on. Emily Dickenson’s poem “I measure every grief I meet” really speaks to this idea, and it really helps me remember your point.

    7. My Anonymous Alter Ego*

      I’ve had multiple sclerosis for almost 30 years. The first five of those years was: my knowing that my body was going haywire, being so fatigued that I couldn’t talk & walking the five steps to the bathroom was more arduous than I’d ever think it could be, dealing with the mindf*ck aspects— which consisted of my being confused & terrified, wondering if that state was the new standard for the rest of my life, having to deal with other’s thoughts & feelings, battling the questions of if I was a hypochondriac &or faking it because I “just wanted attention,” wanting a diagnosis to justify what was going on yet not wanting a diagnosis because I didn’t want to be ill— dealing with different doctors & specialists yet still no one could tell me why I was sick…
      Once I was diagnosed I had to battle my company to go back to work because they didn’t understand how I could be ill yet not look sick & there were times when I kind of wished that I was wheelchair-bound because in the corporate newspaper there was a profile of a paraplegic employee that described how difficult it was for him to go into work two or three days per week & he could also work from home because he had a disability.
      Although I was genuinely glad that he could still do so much, I was also resentful because it was obvious he was impaired & I couldn’t resist thinking that if I had more visual symptoms then I might be able to get the the accomodations that could help me.

      So… yeah. I get the resentment thing. Sometimes I also resent myself for actually thinking that if I were more “visibly” unwell then things might be easier because that is sooo very much not true. Mostly I try to be grateful for all that I can do, especially because with MS, tomorrow my symptoms could get worse & I would be confined to a wheelhcair for the rest of my life. Then again, that might not happen & really any living person could be in an accident that would change their lives forever.

      What ‘ve learned from all of this…?
      Tolerance. Knowing that everyone has their own issues, whether it’s illness, insecuritues, family drama &or other skeletons in their respective closets.
      And I’ve learned some humility because there are many whose experiences are so much more intense than mine & often I’m glad that I have “only” MS. Still I’m far from humble.

      What I haven’t yet learned—at least not to my satisfaction— is to shake off others’ attitudes. So I tend to say that I have MS because I hate for others to think that I’m lazy or otherwise trying to get away with something.
      I’m still working on this one.

      I don’t suffer from my illness. It just pisses me off.

      Everyone has something & it’s easy to forget this. It’s also kind of cool when we learn of others’ difficulties because they can connect us & help us to be better people. Definitely I’m a better person from my experiences & from others sharing with me.

      1. Julia*

        My mother has MS. It is scary how many people are… not well(?) when you really start talking with them.
        I remember when we were children, we were saying that every family has their own battle and issue. Now twenty years later it is every person has their own battle.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        “I don’t suffer from my illness. It just pisses me off”

        That really resonates with me. Fibromyalgia, it won’t kill me. It just makes simple things incredibly difficult.

    8. Circus peanuts*

      My fiance is on disability. My parents have only seen him on his good days. If he is having problems, he stays home. And so every time I speak with my parents, they want to know when he is going to get a job. Because he seems so healthy to them.

      1. Casuan*

        Go to “but you don’t look sick-dot-com” for “The Spoon Theory.”
        Email it to everyone you know &or print it out for your parents. Hopefully it will help others to understand a little better.

      1. Dopameanie*

        They have actual robber masks on! They will never be able to get bank accounts because the bank will have them arrested. If the banking industry knows better than to have them around, we should too!

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          You are clearly in the pocket of Big Opossum and have bought into their anti-raccoon agenda!

          1. Dopameanie*

            Actually, I am paying restitution for that one time I decided to see if it was true about what they say regarding opossums and full outhouses.

            I still can’t look them in the eyes. (Because their eyes are closed when they play dead.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        They do! FarmBoyEx and I had a pet one for a while. She liked to play with my braid.

        I like opossums too. They eat lots of pests and almost never get rabies (body temperature is too low).

      1. Kj*

        Love their faces. And their little hands. I want a pet raccoon! (I know it is a bad idea in reality, but I love them so much.) I have raccoon socks too because I love raccoons so!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s a controversial opinion? They are creepy emeffers. They have weird claws and they look you straight in the eye. Same with skunks.

      1. Lady Jay*

        I grew up in the country, and for as long as I can recall, my father waged war against the skunks that would come onto our property. It was a sensible decision, since skunks often carry disease and especially rabies and we had pets.

        But my father built up a reputation, to the point that people give him skunk-related gifts now (he has a skunk figurine in the back yard and a skunk magnet on the refrigerator).

        1. Dopameanie*

          So I met a tame skunk once. It had its scent gland removed and ate dog food. It was super friendly and very curious. It’s owner said if you get a pet skunk you don’t ever need to lock your doors again. Robbers will turn and run on sight. It may have been psychosomatic, but I thought it was still slightly stinky.

      1. Dopameanie*

        They have the soul of Gollum wrapped in the fur of a cat. Raccoons probably steal their fur from those poor naked hairless cats.

    2. fposte*

      They are Trojan cute, because they will take you, or at least your pets, effing DOWN. People freak out over opossums because they’re ugly and weird and offer treats to raccoons because they’re cute. And which one is likelier to give you rabies and dispatch your Rottweiler? That’s right, the masked bandit.

    3. Canadian Natasha*

      Hmmm, well there’s the rabies proneness and the Lady Macbeth style compulsive washing so I can see your point. Also my sister was bitten by one. But I’m a sucker for clever animals with inquisitive faces so I’d have to say overall they are more appealing than creepy.

      1. nep*

        ‘Lady Macbeth style compulsive washing’ — love that. (And until reading this and looking it up I didn’t know that about raccoons — or I had and I’d forgotten.)

        1. fposte*

          Myrin and her German compatriots can set me straight if I’m wrong, but when I learned German I was told that their name in German was “washing bear.”

          1. Myrin*

            They are indeed; they’re called “Waschbären” (that’s the plural). Until this moment, I never thought about why that might be, though. Animals names usually aren’t random in German so I should’ve guessed that they’ve got something to do with washing but I’ve never spared that a single thought until now.

            1. fposte*

              I first saw the word in completely incomprehensible-to-me context and thought it was a bar for washing, i.e., soap. Then I got it :-).

            2. Dopameanie*

              That’s interesting! Are MOST German animal names like that?

              Though I am surprised they didn’t stick with, like, “sinister bear” or “evil cat with hands” or something more accurate.

              1. Myrin*

                I’d say so, yes! They’re usually very descriptive (even if the description is lost to time for most people because it hinges on a very early wordform most aren’t familiar with), though not always (usually when it’s orignally a loanword from another language like Latin or Greek).

          2. Dopameanie*

            How can someone BE so blind? They are probably drugging your food. Be careful, and don’t open your door to anyone in a trench coat and sunglasses and hat. As soon as you unlock the door, BAM. It’ll be like 20 raccoons instead of a person.

      2. Dopameanie*

        They wash compulsively because they know under their fur they are creepy little hellbeasts. That’s why they are trying to distract you with the face thing.

          1. Dopameanie*

            I agree! The video ends properly, with the raccoon denied the sustenance it needs to stay alive. This is good entertainment. I pretend it is a new raccoon every time.

            1. charlatan*

              Aw. I don’t like them either but I feel bad for that poor little guy every time I see that video.

              There’s a different video that shows him eventually learning and getting to enjoy his treat.

    4. nep*

      I am right there with you. Creeeeeeeeeeeeeepy. Don’t like them at all. A couple of them have been hovering round our garbage at night. Yuck.

    5. Undine*

      #TrashPanda! They’re cute in pictures, but when you see a hefty urban one scuttling down the street at 3 a.m., yes they are scary. And they eat cats.

      1. Dopameanie*

        They are cute the same way little kids are in horror movies. You know there is something wrong in there somewhere, but by the time you figure it out it’s too late.

      2. Windchime*

        This is true. My mom lost her old cat to a raccoon. To add insult to injury, the thing came back on several subsequent nights and kept banging into the glass patio door, trying to get the other cat who was inside the house! My son decided he was going to shoot it if/when it came back, but it never came back after that.

        They are horrible, nasty, destructive creatures. Pictures of them might look cute with the little mask and the little hands, but when you actually see one walking down the street they look like a deformed cat.

    6. Gorgo*

      Red pandas are the only good pandas. Red pandas are adorable. Giant pandas are HUGELY overrated. My zoo spends a fortune on giant pandas, and they aren’t even ours–we’re renting them from China. >_<

      1. Dopameanie*

        AGREED. Giant pandas are soooo dumb. They move slow and have terrible balance and procreate worse than two kids from the freshman formal in the back of an old Buick. Why are we spending so much money propping up a species Mother Nature CLEARLY wants gone?

    7. Oxford Coma*

      Racoons don’t bother me as much as groundhogs. Those little f*ckers act like they’re so cute, predicting spring and shit, but they’re actually vicious demons. It’s almost kitten season, and I will once again be trying to protect our neighborhood strays from a painful groundhog evisceration. (I do TNR, but I just can’t keep up, so the kittens continue.)

      1. Dopameanie*

        I LOVE your username. Also, I kinda thought they only ate bugs? Is this like a territory beef? Or are they always carnivorous and I never noticed?

        1. Oxford Coma*

          I think it’s territorial, because the mother groundhogs with kits are the meanest. They tend toward plants and bugs as far as diet.

      2. dawbs*

        I know someone whose Newfie was taken down by a woodchuck. They are AWFUL if they think they’re cornered.
        We have one that is allowed to live as long as it stays int he WOODS, not in the yard. the jerk keeps edging into the yard and I”m afraid it’s going to try to take on a kid or a pet.

    8. Loopy*

      Raccoons are evil. I volunteer at a place with animals that get feed and they’ve chased the animals away from their own food!! It was deer in this case.

    9. Former Employee*

      Raccoons are the best mothers. They really take care of and watch out for their babies.

    10. I Love Thrawn*

      I’m not fighting you. They are the mortal enemies of cats, so I do NOT like them at all.

      1. Dopameanie*

        My cats informed me their mortal enemy was my vacuum cleaner. I have *just now* come to the conclusion my cats may be spoiled. They, of course, disagree; but have a hard time getting taken seriously from their fortress whilst eating treats.

        1. Nonnon*

          I had a fear of the vacuum cleaner from a very young age, and I feel that your cats are wise. Horrid, noisy demon. My cleaning process normally involves a dustbuster and loud music played through my headphones.

          1. Dopameanie*

            My cleaning process is usually me closing my eyes so I can’t see the mess anymore, so you’re still doing better than me.

    11. charlatan*


      I used to like them until a little family literally chewed their way into my attic and I had to pay lots of money to get them out of there.

    12. LilySparrow*

      Raccoons (at least urban/suburban raccoons) are nasty-tempered, garbage-gulping, flearidden rabies bombs.

    13. Slartibartfast*

      Two words: baylisascaris procyonis. Don’t Google it before bedtime. Raccoon roundworm that sometimes burrows into the human brain. You’re welcome.

      1. Dopameanie*

        O. M. G.

        I did not know this. I am simultaneously feeling deeply creeped out and victoriously vindicated? I don’t think there is an emoji for my face right now. Ewwwwwwwww.

    14. Nines*

      This thread made me so very happy! Thank you, you have made a random person on the internets day!

  13. Zathras*

    Any tips or suggestions on good resources for learning how to buy a home (and about home ownership in general)? I am not ready to do that, but I just finally paid off my grad student loans (yay!) and this is the next financial goal. I figure I should use the time while I’m saving up the down payment to also learn everything I need to know.

    Home ownership for me in the area I currently live might involve some element of being a landlord, so learning about that would be useful too.

    1. Fiennes*

      I learned more than I expected to from a LOT of HGTV. It helped me understand what’s expensive to change and what’s cheap; what not to freak out about (paint colors); and that the perfect house doesn’t exist. Also I just learned more about what I do and don’t like. When I began my house search, I gave my realtor a 3-page bullet-pointed list of Must Haves; Strongly Desired; Likes That Aren’t Necessary; Stuff Most People Care About That I Don’t; Mild Dislikes; Strongly Disliked; and Dealbreakers. I apologized for being difficult when I sent it—but she said I was one of her easiest clients, because the real difficulty arises when people don’t know what they want. (She showed me my future house on day one of the search.) HGTV taught me what I wanted, which really does matter.

      1. Snargulfuss*

        Agreed but I have one warning about HGTV: it kind of brainwashed me into thinking I just had to get some old house with character and make it my own. That was my approach my first time around it was a disaster. I personally don’t have the resources (time, help, more money than you think you’ll need for a project) to do a lot of diy. For my second house-buying experience I bought a boring, new townhouse…and I love it! I’d so much rather spend my money on fun furnishings than updating electrical and worrying that every creak means something is falling apart.

        That’s not to say that buying an older home is bad. I still love the idea of customizing something with character, but there’s also nothing wrong with a two year old tract house.

        1. Zathras*

          This is a great point, I helped a family member work on a fixer-upper they bought a while back and it was a LOT of work. I enjoyed it because I enjoy DIY stuff and also I could stop and go home whenever I wanted, but I saw how exhausting it was for them. I think I would probably do OK with a place that was solid but maybe a little shabby or dated, where I could do small projects over time as I wanted to – not something that needed as much work as this relative’s house just to be livable.

      2. Zathras*

        Thanks! like your idea of a list, I will keep that in mind and try to build the list as I save up. I don’t have TV right now but have watched lots of HGTV in the past. I have heard a suggestion of going to open houses even before you are ready to buy, just to see what is out there, that might be a fun way to start building the list.

    2. Irene Adler*

      RE: being a landlord
      Read up on the owner-tenant laws in your area. You’ll want to know what things the dwelling must have to rent it out (example: Where I live, the rental must have intact screens in all the windows). And, you’ll want to know the laws regarding unlawful detainer. So if you have to evict, you won’t waste time finding out the laws if circumstances dictate.

      RE: how to buy a home
      Learn about the financing. Research banks, credit unions, etc. and get to know the rates and terms (points, fees,etc). Different institutions have different criteria for how much they will lend. This is based on your income and how much the down payment will be. Some places will loan 2.5 times your annual income; others 3 or 3.5 times your annual income. HOA dues affect this so factor that in.

      Don’t automatically trust the real estate agent to get you the best financing. In fact, I NEVER tell the R.E. agent any numbers beyond what home price I wish to see. I take care of the financing myself with the lending institution. Now, this pissed off one R.E. agent and was perfectly fine with another R.E. agent. The pissed off agent insisted she could get me better financing than anywhere else. So I told her the terms of my loan and her face fell. No, she said. She couldn’t beat what I found. Do as you are most comfortable.
      Having the loan pre-approved can put you in a stronger bargaining position than merely being pre-qualified for the loan. Discuss this with your agent.

      I found Redfin to be handy with calculating what the monthly payments would be. Peruse real estate websites regularly to see what all is out there. Good to know what the inventory is and what you can get for the amount of $ you wish to spend. The lists that Fiennes describes are brilliant (If nothing else, assemble a list of deal-breakers that you don’t want). Perusing real estate sites can also help with thinking up items on your lists.

      RE: Real Estate agent
      Shop around. Ask for referrals from friends, relatives, other people you know. Interview a few. Make sure you are comfortable with them. And that they understand your needs.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        IA, is right about landlord-tenant laws. Long ago, landlords got away with oh-so-much unbelievable stuff. So law makers made laws. Now in many places the scales are tipped in favor of the tenants. No one seems that interested in rebalancing those scales.

        If you want a really good example of what you will see, find out what happens if a tenant does not pay and you need to evict them. Look at your state’s legal process for that. Then look at your state’s legal process for collecting rent owed after the tenant leaves. (Hint: Go whistle up a drain pipe.)

        If you are interested in renting an apartment to help pay the mortgage, make sure you have a plan on how you will pay the mortgage if the tenant does not pay. Figure on a minimum of three months to get them out, so three months with no rent.

        1. Roja*

          In my area, the landlords still get away with oh-so-much unbelievable stuff. I only wish those laws were enforced more often. Our first rental here was an… interesting place.

          1. Zathras*

            This – I understand it is a ton of work and hassle to evict a deadbeat tenant, but it’s still a lot of work to make a deadbeat landlord toe the line.

        2. Zathras*

          This is great advice. I definitely plan to only buy something I can afford without any tenants – the most likely “landlord” situation would be me renting out a room in the same home where I lived, from what I have heard the scales are tipped at least a little bit back toward the landlord in those cases, although I will have to do my research. Depending on what the market and my income do in the next few years (or if some previously unknown wealthy relative dies and leaves me all their money) it’s theoretically possible I could end up owning a 2-family home or similar, but those are CRAZY expensive around here.

      2. Zathras*

        Thanks for all these suggestions, this gives me some good places to start! I’m fairly well versed in tenant rights in this area, thanks to currently living in a place managed by incompetent ****heads. (We have the screens law too! And the screens they put in after we badgered them for a year aaaalmost comply with the law…)

        I will have to look through those laws again with a landlord perspective. I know the state puts out some helpful pamphlets for tenants, maybe they have similar landlord documents.

    3. Snargulfuss*

      I found Home Buying for Dummies really useful. I also bought a book from Kiplingers but that one was more detailed and advanced; I needed the Dummies book to establish a base of knowledge.

    4. Trixie*

      In addition to local and state laws, I find local financials often host free class/workshop on home buying. No commitment required and usually very informative. For something like this, I would be somewhat familiar with the process going in but only to ask more specific questions on confusing points. Check with local credit unions too. Should see more of them this time of year too.

      1. Zathras*

        Thanks! I had forgotten but the relative who bought the fixer upper I mentioned above attended something like that, I will have to ask where they went.

    5. ..Kat..*

      Consumer Reports had a great book that simplified things and laid out all the things you need to do/understand. My husband and I were so glad we had this resource.

    6. Dopameanie*

      So the only advice I really have around home ownership is: however much money you have reserved for right AFTER you use the down payment and move in? Like, triple that number.

      In the long run, owning a home is a better deal than renting, but in the short run homes are seriously expensive! It’s easy to get in over your head if you don’t have enough in savings to cover, say, a new water heater and a broken window in the same month.

  14. The Other Dawn*

    One final question for today (I think). Any suggestions for finding slip covers for a wing-backed sofa? It’s definitely a 1980s country pattern and style, so I’d like a solid color. I’m having trouble finding something to fit the weird back. The arm and back shape is like this: https://www.centuryfurniture.com/product-detail.aspx?sku=LTD7124-6&section=
    I’ve done some Googling, and I can’t seem to come up with good results. But maybe something exactly like this just doesn’t exist.

    1. Max from St. Mary's*

      Have you thought about painting the fabric? I’ve been trying to carve out some time to try painting a really ugly plaid upholstered chair and have watched several videos about it…looks doable, just trying to find the time.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve seen that, too, and I’m not so sure I want to attempt that. I’d much rather buy and slipcover and be done with it. Although, it’s a hand-me-down, so I wouldn’t have anything to lose by trying it!

      2. LilySparrow*

        We painted a sofa once. It felt awful and looked worse. And the paint didn’t hold up to even a year of normal use before it started rubbing off the edges.

        1. Ali G*

          You could still buy the Sure Fit and just make your own plastic stays. The way Sure Fit works is that the slip cover is a stretchy fabric and they give you these plastic stays that you push down behind the cushions and between the cushions and arms. You could just get your own plastic (or other) materials (they may also sell extras) and use them to push between the wings and cushions. Or find another way to tack the cover around the wings.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! I see they have some that look like just a plain old blanket draped over the sofa, so that might work. I went and looked at the sofa a few minutes ago and I noticed that the wings aren’t as big as I thought (I hardly use that room so I don’t look at the sofa very often), so a standard loose-fitting cover might work.

  15. CleverGirl*

    Leaving for Japan on Monday! Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. Tips and recommendations appreciated. It’s supposed to be in the high 60s and low 70s and I’m still not sure what clothes to bring. I don’t remember what that feels like (it’s been a long New England winter).

    1. Amber Rose*

      A t-shirt and sweater should be fine at those temperatures. You’ll probably ditch the sweater halfway through the day though. I recommend long pants personally, just because of all the stairs. Kyoto and Tokyo are basically just a series of stairs.

      If you have time in Tokyo, you can go to the top of the Metropolitan Government building at night. The view is like nothing you’ve ever seen. And it’s either free, or cheap as heck.

      Off of Hiroshima is Miyajima Island. You can take a ferry there, and it’s beautiful. Also: riddled with deer. They’re friendly and like pets. Lots of tourist shopping and street food and tori gates.

    2. Dan*

      Buy a rail pass in pass to get around from Tokyo – Kyoto (I think the bullet train stop is in Osaka though) – Hiroshima. Hiroshima has significant historical value, I’m sure you know that.

      Last fall, I spent four days in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. It was awesome. In that area, check out Piss Alley (it’s full of izakayas) and the Golden Gai.

      I’ve stayed in Roppongi and Shiodome on previous trips; Shinjuku was far and away a much better neighborhood to hang out in.

    3. matcha123*

      Bring layers. It’s getting warm (for me) here in Tokyo and Hiroshima is further south and a bit warmer. The cherry blossoms are almost completely opened, so by the time you get here (barring any rain) they should still be out and nice to view.
      Bring a small umbrella, just in case.
      Here in Tokyo, the mornings are cool and it warms up a bit throughout the day. The weather is supposed to be pretty warm next week, so a jacket should be ok. Might feel chilly in the early morning and evening.

      Kyoto will be filled with tourists looking at cherry blossoms and everything.
      The cherry blossoms along the river at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima are quite nice. And as others have mentioned, Miyajima is nice, too. Be sure to try okonomiyaki in Hiroshima and momiji manjuu if you go to Miyajima. And if you like oysters, Hiroshima is the number 1? producer of oysters in Japan.

      I would recommend getting a Pasmo card for transportation while in Tokyo and an Icoca card to use in Kyoto/Hiroshima. You can get cards at any train station, plus a 500 yen deposit. If you don’t think you’ll ever use it again, you can return the card for a refund of your 500 yen.

      Bring good walking shoes! A plus if they are ones you can slide off easily.

      1. Mephyle*

        A Suica card will work in both Tokyo and Kyoto. (I don’t know first-hand about Hiroshima, but the internet says it works there, too.)

        1. matcha123*

          Suica is a card from JR East, but Kyoto and Hiroshima are JR West. Recently all of the JRs (East, West, Kyushu, etc) have tried to make it so that users from different regions can use their respective cards. Basically, if you are only going to use the JR lines in Kyoto and Hiroshima, you’ll have no problem. But, as far as I know, you can’t use Suica on the streetcars or local buses in Kyoto/Hiroshima. Icoca (from JR West) works on Kyoto/Hiroshima streetcars and local buses. But, things may have changed since last year.

      1. The Curator*


        日 時:2018年4月5日(木)10:00 - 12:00
        会 場:竹中工務店東京本店2階 Aホール
        講 師:リサ・フォン・ドラセク
           (ミネソタ大学図書館 児童文学リサーチコレクション学芸員)
        定 員:30名 要事前申込(先着順、親子参加可)

        Can anyone translate this for me. My hosts have not and I am curious to what it says

        1. Mephyle*

          I pasted it into Google Translate, and this was the result:
          Buriddji ― Ōno Miyoko no hito to hito,-gai to machi o tsunagu dezain ― eigo ehon yomi kika se wākushoppu `hashi ni tsuite kangaeyou!’ Ehon no korekushon de shira reru Minesota daigaku toshokan jidō bungaku risāchikorekushon gakugei-in no risasan ni,-bashi ni matsuwaru ehon o eigo de yomi kika se shite itadakimasu.-Bi-ji: 2018-Nen 4 tsuki 5-nichi (ki) 10: 00 – 12: 00-Kai-ba: Takenakakōmuten Tōkyō honten 2-kai A hōru-kō-shi: Risa fon doraseku (Minesota daigaku toshokan jidō bungaku risāchikorekushon gakugei-in) jō-in: 30-Mei yō jizenmōshiko (senchaku-jun, oyako sanka-ka) sanka-hi: Muryō kaki ōbo fōmu yori o mōshikomi kudasai. Ōbo
          BRIDGE – Miyoko Ohno’s people and people, connecting the city and town –
          Read English-Picture-book Reading Workshop “Think about the Bridge!”
          I am going to tell Lisa, a curator of Minnesota University Library / Children’s Literature Research Collection curator Known for collection of picture books, English books on bridges.

          Date and time: Thursday, April 5, 2018 10: 00 – 12: 00
          Venue: Takenaka Corporation Tokyo Head Office 2nd Floor A Hall
          Lecturer: Lisa von Dorsek
          (Curator of Research Collection Collection for Children’s Literature, Minnesota University Library)
          Capacity: 30 people Required advance application (first-come-first-served basis, parent-child participation possible)
          Participation Fee: Free
          Please apply from the application form below.

    4. Mephyle*

      My go-to recommendation is to visit the Tokyu Hands and/or Loft stores in Shibuya. Allow several hours – maybe half a day – there’s a lot to see and it’s well worth it.

    5. fort hiss*

      As I’ve said The Curator, if you’re in Kyoto and like fine dining, absolutely make reservations for The Sodoh. It’s an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant where you’ll be treated like royalty. The chef there is SO inventive. There’s always at least one waiter who speaks English, so let them know if you need that. You can check their current seasonal menu on their website, but it changes every month or so so it may change by April.

      When you go to Hiroshima, ENJOY MIYAJIMA! Itsukushima Shrine is the best thing you’ll see in all of Japan, in my opinion! If you can, stay until low tide (around 6:30 or 7). Stores start closing before that, but don’t worry, the last ferry is around 9. If you can stay on the island at a ryokan or a rental, I honestly recommend that. It’s so peaceful late at night. Eat a fried momiji manjuu if you can (you can get them near the Sanrio store in the main market area). If you like aquariums, they have a really cute little aquarium with a great gift shop. Last: watch out for the deer, they can and will eat any paper right out of your hand.

  16. Amber Rose*

    My new bed shows up in a few hours! I am so tired they may not be able to get it up the stairs. Our old mattress is like freshly plowed farm: all ridges and dips. I actually slept on the couch last night out of sheer desperation for a couple of hours of sleep.

    Question: the sales guy tried to sell us on a mattress protector for $200. That’s a lot of money for what is basically a plastic sheet. Is it worth it?

    1. Emilie*

      IKEA has options for mattress protectors that are a lot cheaper. I’d assume that a plastic sheet would lead to a lot of sweatyness and inhibit the mattress from “breathing” properly. Where I’m from mattress protectors are made from fabric and batting, so my lack of understanding might be a cultural thing, though.

      1. HannahS*

        Yeah, I have an Ikea one. It’s sort of terry cloth with a rubberized backing. I like having it in case of a sudden terrible vomiting (hasn’t happened, but I’d hate to ruin a mattress over it) or accidental bleeding.

    2. fposte*

      IMHO, no, not for an adult, unless you tend to drink or leak in bed. There’s a weird school of mattress protector that wants to seem like it’ll protect from bugs but doesn’t go all the way around and zip closed, so it’s useless for bugs, and it’s not nearly as nice texture-wise as proper mattress pads.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Or you’re a woman whose period has nights where it isn’t completely under control. We have a mattress cover that was about $50 that has saved our mattress from more than a few bloodstains (as well as stains from other adult activities, actually).

        1. fposte*

          Right, that was one of the meanings of “leak.”

          I was a Grand Guignol level bleeder for years, though, and never bled through to an actual mattress past a regular mattress pad, and nor did anything from sexual partners leak through. So the mere existence of bodily fluids doesn’t necessitate a $200 mattress pad or even one that’s plasticized.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            If you jump right on the stain and clean it first thing in the morning, you can get it out of your mattress. I would take the bed apart, clean the stain, and leave the bed unmade all day while I was at work. This gave the formerly stained area enough time to dry.

            I had that mattress for many years and when looking at it no one would have ever guessed. Fresh stains clean up much easier than we imagine.

      2. Undine*

        The only-on-top mattress protectors keep the microscopic skin particles that fall off of you from falling into the mattress, so (at least in theory), the dust mites have nothing to feed on. Won’t help with bedbugs, of course, and only good with a fairly new mattress. They are much easier to wash.

    3. Drop Bear*

      That seems a lot (you are probably in a different country from me though so I might be wrong.) I got one for around 50 AUD (39 ish USD) in December (king size). It’s not plastic -which would be uncomfortable I think – but some sort of quilted material. Worked when I spilled tea on it though.

    4. Laura H*

      Maybe not that particular one but DO get a mattress cover.

      I still wet the bed on occasion (I overestimate my bladder sometimes) and the matress cover does it’s job. Not completely dry, but miles better than drenched.

    5. Book Lover*

      That is too much for a mattress cover! I buy them for the kids in case of accidents and that is very expensive. Actually I should get one for myself – I always manage to get blood on a mattress as soon as I buy one….

    6. travelandi*

      If you ever need to file a claim using the mattress manufacturer’s warranty, the mattress pad will be worth it’s weight in gold! Any stain, no matter how small will void the warranty. On another note, don’t forget that there actually IS a warranty (usually about 10 years I think). We got a brand new replacement mattress for free after our last one started developing deep depressions. I thought we were SOL but contacted the manufacturer on a whim and was blown away how easy the process was! The claim inspector is the one who told me about the stain clause. And, yeah, you can get a good mattress pad/ cover for about $50.

    7. Peanut*

      Sign me up with all the others saying to get a $50 mattress protector. I have a Protect a Bed premium waterproof protector that is 8 years old and still works great. You really just want to protect from leaks of any kind, assuming you don’t have allergies and need a full mattress encasing which is pricier.

    8. oldbiddy*

      That’s a lot. I got my most recent one free when I bought the mattress, and the last one was maybe $40. I get heavy periods, so I like having the plastic backed one. My 10 year old mattress looks like new.
      The mattress store did give a longer return timeframe/better exchange conditions since we got the mattress pad, so you may want to consider that if you think you might have to exchange it.

    9. Casuan*

      Yay, new bed!!

      $200 seems too much for a mattress protector. As for mattress pads, I’ve given up on buying more expensive ones because after several washings [& drying on very low heat or air dry] the netting never lasts long enough to justify the price.

      Are mattress pads worth buying at all?

    10. Oxford Coma*

      Getting one in general is worth it. A $200 one from a mattress store is not.

      We always zip our new mattresses in a dust-mite cover first thing, then use a top mattress protector as well. In addition to the usual concerns, we both keep water bottles on our night stands and have had a few “wake up startled and topple everything” moments.

  17. Sunflower*

    I have to get some expensive dental work done that insurance will not cover- around 6k. Someone a while back had noted some good places to get interest free loans. I have the savings to pay it all up front but I’d rather pay in smaller increments and then pay the rest off once I pass the interest free period. I have great credit so not worried about approval. What do you guys think?

    1. Uncivil Engineer*

      I did this when I bought new appliances for my kitchen. I could have paid up front but took the 18 month, 0% interest credit card being offered by the store. It worked out fine but I wouldn’t do it again in the future. It’s one more bill I had to remember to pay and I also had to remember when the 0% interest ended. The mental energy – albeit very small – was not worth it to me.

    2. nep*

      I know this doesn’t answer your question — but I wonder whether Care Credit is an option? I’ve not used it but my dentist told me about it; apparently it allows you (if your dentist works with Care Credit) to get work done and pay in monthly installments.

      1. Red Reader*

        My husband and I have both done major dental work on CareCredit, aye. It generally works in a “x months same as cash, and if you haven’t paid it off in the x months you get slammed with ALL THE INTEREST EVER” vein with the number of months depending on the size of the charge. So, Sunflower, you want to make sure you pay the balance off in the last month of the interest free period rather than waiting til afterwards, but otherwise, yeah, CareCredit is a pretty common option for dental work because dental insurance is a total racket and doesn’t cover like anything unless you don’t actually need anything other than preventive care or possibly are a little kid who needs braces. (And I’m not sure how well they cover braces either. I just know I have a $18,000 mouth and my dental insurance covered about $600 of it. :P )

        1. miyeritari*

          I’m also doing Care Credit for some dental work. I knew I could pay of the amount based on my monthly take-home pay, but I didn’t want to pay for it all up-front, so I set up autopay! You can do it online, set how much you want to pay per month (and it can be more than the minimum), and then forget about it. I calculated how much I could afford per month, and I’ll be paid off in no time.

      2. Natalie*

        That’s what I would suggest and might actually be what the OP is thinking of – if you get the promo rate it is an interest free loan and I’m not aware of any other commonly available one for medical care.

        Husband did it for laser eye surgery and we have 2 years interest free. Totally worth it.

    3. Lizabeth*

      Have you talked to your dentist about a payment plan? Mine have been incredibly generous to let me do that for stuff not covered by insurance. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

    4. My Anonymous Alter Ego*

      Ditto with me. First talk with your dentist’s office. When I asked my dentist’s assistant about a payment plan I was told to discuss it with the dentist so that’s on my to-do list.

      Has anyone ever had implants? I’d like to keep my teeth although with all of the work that needs to be done I’m wondering if it might be more cost-effective & efficient to get implants.
      Thoughts & suggestions, please?

      1. Red Reader*

        I do, aye, a full upper arch, thanks to a combination of bad dental health as a kid and a physical assault. That’s my $18k mouth, and it took almost a year all told — 4 months to heal from the initial extractions, then another I think 5 months for the implant anchors to set after implantation.

        As a midpoint, consider regular dentures — significantly cheaper, significantly faster. That was my initial plan, until I found out that I apparently have -a- a weird deformity of my hard palate that meant I couldn’t get the right seal on a standard denture plate to keep them in place AND -b- a contact allergy to the most common varieties of denture adhesive :P And of course we didn’t know that until after the extractions — I went without anything at all for almost two years in between extractions and implants, saving my pennies to be able to afford the implants. (It is amazing what you can still manage to eat with no upper teeth. I think the only things I found that I really couldn’t manage were Rice Krispie treats and most raw fruit/veg.)

        1. My Anonymous Alter Ego*

          Thank for the infos & suggestion, Red Reader!
          For now I think I’ll try to keep my teeth. :)

      2. the gold digger*

        I have an implant that I got almost 20 years ago. My insurance at the time would pay for a bridge but not for an implant. I did not want to ruin the adjacent, healthy teeth, so I fought with the insurance company and won.

        Even if I hadn’t won, I was willing to pay for the whole thing myself – I really treasure my teeth! I was lucky to be living in a city with a dental college and had everything done there for $600. Worth it.

        1. Sunflower*

          How did you win that with the insurance company? I need 2 implants and 3 caps/crowns- right now i have a 3 teeth bridge but one of the posts is no longer healthy and i refuse to get a 5 tooth long bridge. My crowns are covered 60% but implants nada. I can’t find any dental plans or anything online about insurance covering implants

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      I’ve heard of dental schools that provide dental care at a reduced cost. Maybe that’s an option?

    6. valentine*

      Credit card balance transfer with zero APR for 12-18 months. Maybe negotiate for no transfer fee.

    7. CatCat*

      If you do it, pay it off before the interest free period expires. If you wait until that period passes, a heap of interest could be piled on dating back to when you first incurred the charges.

  18. Ktelzbeth*

    Question on realtors:
    I’m trying to buy a house. How frequently should my realtor be the one to send me the new listings vs me finding them first? Our market is really fast in the segment I’m looking and it seems like I’m finding listings only to have her follow them up and say, “Oops, sold already.” Is it reasonable to expect her to find them before me? It is her job (I think). The only other realtor I’ve ever used was the same. Truthfully, the person I’m complaining about is the substitute, because my person has been out of town for much of March, and almost nothing was on the market when she left, but I want to know what I can reasonably ask for when she gets back. Thanks!

    1. Sandra Dee*

      My realtor was a gem. The local market here has been hot for a couple years. He found my house for me before it was even listed, therefore I was the first person to see it, and put in an offer and it was accepted before it was ever listed. I would also get automated emails from him for any new listings that just came on the market, based upon my requirements. In my opinion, a good realtor knows the market and area well, and can get you appointments as soon or before a House being listed. Or maybe I have a rare unicorn of an agent.

    2. Lcsa99*

      I think we found a lot that our realtor didn’t. She gave us about a third of the listings we saw, but the best were always hers. If you’re looking on your own and find something you like, before sending it on try looking directly at the listing broker’s website (instead of Zillow or whatever) and you’ll reduce the number of listings you send her that are already sold. They tend to keep their own sites up to date and forget the multiple listing sites.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Today’s was still showing active-new with an open house today everywhere. My agent was as surprised as I was that it was actually sold when she went to arrange a showing for me. Can’t always win, I guess. I’ll remember to do a better job looking at the actual broker’s websites; some here make it hard to find that, but it’s a good point that that is most likely to be up to date.

        1. Lcsa99*

          I remember one listing I actually drove myself crazy with. In the multiple listing sites it came up and went down again as sold pretty quickly, and on their site it was marked as sold, but later it was relisted on their site alone. Both our agent and I tried contacting the agent about it multiple times but never heard back.

          It’s a frustrating process. It took us 10 1/2 months to go from looking to closed and moving in to our new place. You just need to be patient, especially if there isn’t a lot around your area.

          1. Triplestep*

            This happened to me the last time I was in the market to buy. The house sold quickly and showed everywhere as “under contract” except on the listing agent’s site where it was “active”. I asked about this and was told that realtors will do this on the one site they have control over (their own) to keep interest alive in case the sale falls through.

        2. CBE*

          When we bought our house, we had our offer signed and sealed on Friday and the realtor STILL held the Saturday open house. Wanted to capture leads – people who were shopping but didn’t have an agent.
          She was super up front with us. Not so much with people who came to the open house. (We went to it, too. Took the kids so they could get their first look at it.)

    3. Dan*

      As a practical matter, if you always find listings that are “gone already”, you’re never going to find a house and your realtor won’t make the commission.

      I’m sure this is market specific, but one way to figure out what kind of service is reasonable is to work with an agent for six months or so, and if you’re not happy, move on to another one. If you do this for a couple of years (I know that’s a long time) with a few different agents, you’ll get a sense of what’s reasonable.

      It’s your house and your life, and nobody cares about it more than you do.

    4. Snargulfuss*

      I worked with a couple of different agents and they both just set up automatic mls searches that would send me results ince a day, but I was the one on the listing website multiple times a day sending texts to my agent about what I wanted to see.

      I also bought in a hot market. If you’re not already doing so, I’d recommending putting in backup offers for properties you like that have gone under contract quickly. I’m my area people put in offers first ask questions later, which means an original accepted offer has a decent chance of falling through.

      1. DietCokeHead*

        Same here. We would get the automatic mls listings from our agent with houses that fit our criteria. Then we would tell the agent which houses we were interested in seeing in person. The market was hot when we bought to, so we needed to look at the emails right away and then see the houses as soon as possible.

        As far as backup offers, we didn’t put any in. But we did offer over asking price for the house we ended up with. Our agent was good in advising us in that situation.

    5. Irene Adler*

      You are entering the “hot” season for real estate. You want someone who is on top of things in finding your new house.
      What you describe is unacceptable on the part of the substitute. Sounds like you are an afterthought in their priority list.
      Complain to the broker. Ask for someone else who will send you TIMELY listings that are of interest to you. You want to buy but you can’t when everything is already sold. Agents often know of properties BEFORE they show up on the MLS listings (connections!). That’s where they get the jump on other buyers. Clearly no one is doing this for you. Why not?

      Also, have you lined up financing yet? I had this all ready to go and found that the loan institution was instrumental with getting the agent focused on finding my house (“let’s get this done already!”).

    6. Florida*

      Does your real estate agent usually work with buyers? Generally speaking, you make more money as a listing agent. (Not necessarily a higher commission, but in terms of annual income.) So people who have doing this a long time and work primarily as a listing agent, often are not good buyer agents. There are some agents who focus on buyers. Others who work with both. Sometimes those are newer agents who are still trying to figure out their niche. Other times it’s people who like the variety.
      I would try to find an agent who makes most of their income representing buyers.

    7. Triplestep*

      I don’t have anything to add to the great advice you’ve gotten here already, but I would go ahead and go to those open houses if you’re not doing so already; tell the agent at the open house that you’re working with a realtor so that if you want to move forward, you’ve been up front about it. Let your realtor know that you’re doing this, too.

      Neither the listing agent or your agent should be shocked if you do this – plenty of people do. If anything, they should be used to it. The internet and real estate apps have changed everything about the way they do business, and if your realtor has not caught up to today’s technology and the accompanying need for urgency, she does not deserve your business.

  19. Ktelzbeth*

    D&D/role playing:
    There was a segment in the knowledge swap on D&D that I got to late but another late reader and I got to talking about the idea of starting an online campaign with interested AAMers, whether because you don’t have an IRL campaign or want an online one for a different reason.

    I know an online site that mimics the tabletop (Roll20). It offers voice and text chat, but the voice chat isn’t very good. Ventrillo works better for the voice chat part because of a push to talk feature that can be enabled, but the last online campaign I was on switched to something else just after I left (due to divorce), so maybe someone else knows something better. Vent was also nice because it worked on Windows, Mac, and Linux, all of which were represented in the campaign.


      1. Aealias*

        Discord seems to have taken over from Vent in my online gaming community. Cheaper hosting, maybe?

      2. Joan*

        I’ve been in an online D&D group for over a year now, and a combination of Roll20 for maps/character sheets and Discord for voice and text chat has worked well for us. I think Discord now offers video chat as well, but we haven’t tested that out.

    1. Red Reader*

      I have no suggestions — the couple of times we’ve remoted someone into my games, we just used Skype and that worked about as well as you might guess (not very) — but I’m generally interested in D&D discussions overall :)

    2. Chris*

      The last Roll20 game that I played in we used Skype. The one I watch on Twitch (Court of Swords) uses it as well- some occasional hiccups but otherwise works well.

    3. MayDay*

      De-lurking just for this!

      I know my friends typically use Skype for games – plus Critical Role uses Skype for the one that lives/works on the other side of the States.

      I haven’t played in a D&D campaign in a while due to the fact that d20s only works for me outside of combat and critical story moments (hey, roll an insight check on that super suspicious NPC who is totally not an evil person! Natural 1…)

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Reminds me of the natural 1 rolled by someone else in a campaign I was in as they scouted ahead and found a bunch of perfectly normal humans conversing in the pitch dark in a dungeon. Right.

    4. New To This*

      I’d be interested! I don’t have much experience, but I’ve always wanted to try D&D

    5. Perse's Mom*

      Discord is the big voice app in gaming now – and it’s nice because of how it integrates with communities, text chat, and it’s easy to set up different channels for various things – so you could answer questions for players in PMs (oh a high Insight check from Susan, Susan gets a PM and can decide what to share with the group rather than everybody knowing it) rather than clutter the main channel or spend voice time on it. It also has a push to talk option.

      But I don’t think it offers a video option, so it depends on if you want to SEE your players or just hear them. Then again, you could have something like Skype or a google hang-out with video and have audio run through whatever works better for you on that end.

    6. Ktelzbeth*

      I’ll email Alison and ask if she’s willing to be the center of an email address exchange for those who are interested, so we don’t have to post them openly here. I think I see three interested besides me today and one from Friday, which is a good start.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Actually, if you’re willing, the best thing to do would probably be to set up an email address you’re willing to post publicly here (maybe one you just use for this purpose) since my mail is hard to manage as it is and I don’t want to be responsible for accidentally leaving anyone out! Sorry about that.

    7. Antagonist Relations*

      Long time lurker, first time commenter.

      I’ve used Roll20 to run and play games and been happy with it, though it does work much better to use another audio connection, like google hangouts or Discord.

      With my newest online game, we’ve been using Discord and it’s worked really well.

      I’d love to play in more online games (I can run too, but I’m running 4 other games, so I might only want to do one shots).

      I created a groups.io group that’s linked in my username if anyone wants to join and we can use that to talk RPGs and organize games. If anyone else wants to help manage it, just let me know and I’ll add you as a moderator on the group

  20. Annie Mouse*

    Does anyone have any tips for getting started improving strength? I need to get a bit stronger for both work and hobbies but other than joining a gym I have no idea where to start!

    1. fposte*

      If you look for “You Are Your Own Gym,” you can see a lot of suggestions for bodyweight exercises you can do at home (I couldn’t tell if your phraseology meant you didn’t want to join a gym). Even if you just start doing squats and pushups, adding one each day, that’ll get you some good strength in a lot of important muscles.

      1. Annie Mouse*

        Ooh, thank you. I’ll have a look. I haven’t the time to go to a regular gym at the moment but I’ve been told I have access to a gym at work if I ask but it will be working out by myself (no PTs or anything). I know a bit about improving cardio fitness but not strength. Bodyweight exercises definitely sound like something I can do to start with so thanks!

      2. The Other Dawn*

        +100 to body weight exercises. You can get quite a workout without any equipment or trips to the gym. Just you in your living room.

        And yes, squats, pushups and lunges are awesome for building strength. Planks and wall sits, too.

    2. Fiennes*

      I have a great app called “Full Fitness,” which lists tons of exercises for every body part and muscle group. You can also look up exercises by method: Body weight, free weights, machines, Swiss ball — you name it. So you can figure out what to do based on what’s available to you at any given time.

      At the beginning, be very careful to get the form of the exercises right. Good form minimizes risk of injury and maximizes results. The FF app is only so-so on this, but you can look up almost anything on YouTube for detailed pointers. Many gyms also offer one free consultation with a trainer; if you can resist the subsequent sales pitch, that consult can be a great opportunity to pick up pointers on form.

      I don’t know your gender, but if you’re female, don’t ever limit your workouts for fear of “bulking up.” It is virtually impossible for a woman to build heavier muscles like a man without sustained, deliberate effort. (The main exception is women who have abnormally high testosterone, and chances are you already know if that’s you.) They try to sell women on exercises that will just leave them “toned,” in other words not as strong! Don’t be afraid to go for it.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks for this advice! I’m not the OP (obviously) but I was looking for ways to change up my resistance routine, and just downloaded the app you recommended to my tablet.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Steph Gaudreau dot com! Lots of focus on women’s strength, but would be very outstanding for people of any gender. She has a podcast too — Harder To Kill.

    4. AnonyAnony*

      If you can afford it, hiring a personal trainer can help. Even just a few sessions where the trainer can assist with creating a workout routine that will accomplish what you’re after.

    5. PB*

      I’ve been using a book, New Rules of Lifting, and making good progress for the first time ever. It’s designed for people with no lifting experience, provides background, a workout program, and instructions for the exercises. If you want to pick it up, I would advise getting a print copy rather than an e-book. You have to flip back and forth a lot, and it’s just easier.

    6. Roja*

      Fitness Blender on YouTube is a really great place to start. They have a HUGE variety of videos and they actually are sensible (no fads and stuff).

      1. CA Teacher*

        I am a Fitness Blender evangelist, so thank you for mentioning them! They are the best :)

    7. ..Kat..*

      Shape magazine will usually have a work out routine every issue that uses minimal equipment and that you can do at home.

    8. Koala dreams*

      A gym can be a great place to start, I find having classes is greatly motivating, but, you need to have the time to go regularly. Sometimes there are cheaper alternatives at community centres and similar. If you want to do exercises at home, there are a lot of videos on Youtube. You can get a cheap exercise band to help you, and later maybe some weights.

      A physical therapist can also help you with exercises based on your needs. The ones I’ve seen have been great for things you can do at home.

    9. Bullwinkle*

      I have been enjoying the Reddit body weight fitness Recommended Routine. I think it’s pretty accessible to beginners, there is lots of explanation and videos of the exercises, and the forums are friendly if you have a question.

    10. Climber*

      LAte to the party but a great way to begin building strength is to try rock climbing. It’s popularity is building and there are several gyms around the country (US). Full body work out, balance, and endurance training, plus it’s fun and social. If you like the outdoors it fits right in with your likes already. As a woman this was the best/easiest way to build muscle when I wasn’t really interested in lifting at a gym. It builds working muscle and, of course, is a great supplement to any cardio or lifting program.

  21. Anon though I shouldn’t be....*

    Awkward issue – avoid if squirmish.

    I get contact dermatitis from Always pads. I tried tampons when I was young and always managed to put them in wrong and now I would be worried about a very awkward allergic reaction given that it is bad enough with pads.

    I tried the cup and I just couldn’t make it work for me. Now I basically avoid my period for about six months at a time with the pill, then when I have spotting, use cloth pads at home and manage the discomfort with regular pads at work.

    Any ideas? I imagine I should be researching hypoallergenic pads or…?

    1. Agnodike*

      It’s actually relatively common to get a rash from Always brand pads specifically because of one of the materials they use. Most of my patients who have that sensitivity have been fine with Kotex or even store brand, so you could try one of those. You can also buy expensive organic cotton ones. If you want to try tampons again, try wearing one next to your skin (but not *in* your vagina) for a day and see if you react. (Without the applicator, of course, or you could try a no applicator brand like OB.) Finally, reusable cups come in many shapes and sizes and vary by brand; if you have a feminist sex shop if your area, you could pop in and have a chat with them because they can usually make some recommendations on what to try. Good luck!

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Can confirm. I recently switched from Always to Kotex, and it’s soooo much better.

      2. LBG*

        Great timing. Usually use Carefree but had picked up Always for some reason. Was having terrible irritation. Switched back to Always and feeling better already. Thanks!

    2. Intel Analyst Shell*

      I was in Target the other day and saw some pads that were labelled 100% cotton and organic. I can not remember the brand for the life of me but I’d suggest trying something along those lines?

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        Are these the L. brand? I got some from Target and really like them. They are a tiny bit bulkier than Always, but I found them more comfortable.

    3. Thursday Next*

      My gyn said Always issues are common. Even switching to another brand might solve your issue–it did for me.

    4. PeachSox*

      I’m team cup all the way, but I have learned about some new companies that sell 100% organic cotton pads and tampons. Lola is one of them. You might want to check them out.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Seconding Lola. NatraCare is another brand and they are really widely available.

    5. Junior Dev*

      I use organic cotton pads, either 7th Generation or Natracare brand. If there’s a Whole Foods or health food co-op near you you can probably find them there. I find then much more comfortable than most brands.

    6. Fiennes*

      Don’t know if this will help you, but I spent years believing I was sensitive to tampons and couldn’t wear them. Finally in an emergency, I borrowed Tampax Pearl and discovered—I wasn’t sensitive to tampons, just cardboard applicators! My chagrin was great, but outweighed by relief.

      Tl;dr—don’t write off any form of “feminine protection” without trying a few different brands/types.

      1. CityMouse*

        I’m actually the same – fine with Tampax pearl, bad with other tampons. If you haven’t tried them, I would recommend it.

    7. Melody Pond*

      Which menstrual cup did you try? There are a ton out there, and while the Diva Cup is the most well-known, I personally think it’s one of the worst cups out there, particularly for beginners. The LENA cup is one of the best ones out there for newbies – it’s quite firm, so opens up easily, but they also have a “sensitive” version which is a little softer. They also have insanely good customer service, who are more than willing to help coach you through the learning curve.

      Softer cups seem to be a little easier to remove, but require more skill to insert and get them to open properly. Firmer cups are traditionally a little easier to insert, but are sometimes a little more difficult to remove. Using a firmer cup like the LENA, but also applying some generous lube to yourself before you insert the cup, is probably one of the easiest ways to go.

      I’d encourage you to give cups another try. They’re not the kind of thing you can just try for one or two cycles and expect to get it to work perfectly – some people find there’s quite a steep learning curve. It took me only a few cycles to get it figured out, but it took my sister six months of the Diva Cup, and then another six months with the LENA cup, for it to really “click”. Now she tells me she’s got it completely figured out, and knows how to get it perfectly aligned with her cervix, so that she knows she won’t have any leaks. And to hear her tell it, the convenience she has now is 100% worth the 12 months of learning and wrestling with it.

      I’m also very into cloth pads. I find them way more comfortable than disposable pads. :)

      1. Agnodike*

        Just FYI, this isn’t an option for the many people who get breakthrough bleeding/spotting even if they take oral contraceptives continuously without a break.

      2. Thlayli*

        What pill does that? I know you can start a new pack if you want to skip the 7-day break, but at least for my brand it’s not recommended to do that 2 months in a row.

        1. Anon though I shouldn’t be....*

          I use a generic for seasonale – three month continuous and then start the next pack. I can usually do almost two before I get breakthrough. I think you can do it with almost any pill that is a continuous dose (not tricyclen for example).

        2. HannahS*

          Lolo. I very occasionally have very minor spotting at the end of a pack, but I don’t get periods.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Lunapads and Lunapanties are another brand with the same idea. I have some and have liked some, but they keep changing the design, so it’s hard to know whether I’ll like them when I have to reorder for having worn the last to pieces. It looks like they’ve even added a boxer brief for folks who don’t want explicitly female-looking underthings. Dear Kate is another option. I have one pair of those. They are not absorbent enough for full on period, but they are actually cute and perhaps even sexy.

    8. saddesklunch*

      I bought myself a set of THINX (period underwear) and I love them! They’re pricey to start, but since they’re reusable it ends up evening out, I think.

    9. Ktelzbeth*

      I’m also team cup. There are a lot of different styles, so one might work for you. I also did poorly with inserting tampons and found them tremendously uncomfortable to wear, so that doesn’t guarantee a failure with cups. I made the transition through Instead Softcups (http://www.softcup.com/), which worked great too, but I wanted something reusable. You say you only use cloth pads at home, but not at work, but could they work at work? I use cloth as backup all the time. I’ve also heard of but not tried sponge “tampons,” which can be either natural sea sponges or artificially manufactured.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I used Insteads for years, and would reuse the same one for the 5ish days o& my period, then toss. To me it was the best compromise, I wasn’t going through a whole box but I never had to boil or anything. I found them very comfortable and only stopped because I have a Mirena now.

    10. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’ve heard good things about reusable menstrual underwear (THINX, I think?) I’m not sure what materials they contain, though. I found the Diva cup unwieldy when I wan’t on birth control, but now that I’m on the pill and have lighter periods, it works for me.

    11. only acting normal*

      I hate Always pads, I don’t get a reaction, but they feel plastic and sweaty. NB Avoid anything perfumed like the plague if you get reactions!
      As a supplement to cloth pads I like (the unscented version of) BodyForm (don’t seem to be available in the US though). Looks like Natracare disposable pads are available in the US – free from lots of kinds of potential irritants like chlorine, latex, fragrance, etc.

    12. Parenthetically*

      Seconding/thirding the suggestions to look into organic pads and Thinx panties! Another option is sea sponges. I used them as a transition when I was thinking about switching to a cup but didn’t want to pull the trigger. They’re amazingly, incredibly comfortable.

      1. Anon though I shouldn’t be....*

        Thank you, everyone! I will likely try Kotex next, then, and then maybe the standard organic pads before considering other options. I like my cloth pads but I have heavy periods and they are pretty bulky for at work. I did try soft cups but will think about the other cup options and the period panties. Will try to keep it simple for now though.

    13. Julianne*

      I haven’t had a period in 15 months, since I got my IUD. (I have Mirena.) I do realize that’s quite a leap from the problem you identified in your question, though! However, if it’s in line with your general health/life goals and potentially feasible for your personal circumstances, I’d encourage you to talk to your health care provider about it.

    14. NaoNao*

      Any chance “period panties” (such as Thinx) or reusable cloth pads such as LunaPads, would work, especially with lighter or breakthrough bleeding?

    15. Anon For This*

      Go to a natural food store and get some organic, no extra stuff added pads. They’re not expensive. The major brands have some nasty stuff in them. Your body’s reaction is common.

    16. Dopameanie*

      So I don’t know where you are on your reproductive plans/health insurance, but if you are DUNZO with baby-makin’ you could try an ablation? It’s where they “sear” your uterine walls. It’s an outpatient thing, you take a pill, walk out 30 minutes later and NEVER HAVE ANOTHER PERIOD EVER AGAIN. No hormones, no babies, no nothin.

    17. Bionerd*

      Same issue with Always (and other major brands). Both Organyc and Natracare brands work for me. I usually buy from Amazon.

  22. Forking Great Username*

    I need to vent about my husband’s parents and holidays – Easter is causing our usual debate about how to handle them. My mother in law is the very controlling type who sees herself as the matriarch of the family, and expects us to all let her make our life decisions. My sister in law goes along with this and lets her mom call the shots even when mom is clearly wrong. They’re together CONSTANTLY. Mother-in-law is their full-time childcare too, so she sees sister-in-law’s kids every. single. day.

    Our kids? She sees them maybe every few months. When they were first born she wanted the same 100% involvement, and while we were happy to have grandparent support, we set healthy boundaries – we get to choose the names, pediatrician, nursery decor, and decide how we parent our children! That pissed her off, so she pulled way back. Never calls or texts to see how they are. Doesn’t invite them over. Always has an excuse when our kids ask to see her.

    But now it’s Easter! And on holidays she expects us to show up so that she can take photos and pretend to be grandma of the year on facebook. I’ve had it with this crap. I grew up with a grandparent who strongly favored my cousins for super similar reasons to what we have going on here, and I will do everything I can to protect my children from it. While I can’t protect them completely, why should I give them that precious holiday family time when they absolutely does not deserve it? None of them give a shit about us until we’re breaking up their picture of their perfect little family on the holidays. I want to be done and put my foot down. But I also don’t want to hurt my husband, who will do what I think is best but is obviously hurting over the way his parents have shut him out because he doesn’t let them run his life anymore. (Guys, when we were house shopping they fully expected us to bring them to see every house and buy their choice. When we said no they got my husband to tell them what houses we were considering, and they went and peeked in the windows of the homes!! Then told us which ones we could and couldn’t buy. No. They’re nuts. Just no. I have a million other examples.)

    1. Dan*

      Are you suggesting you never want the kids to see their grandparents? I’m no stranger to toxic relationships, so I get it.

      But what I can’t get a read on is exactly what you’re looking for, and exactly what your husband will back you on.

      I will say, however, that at a certain age, you should guide your children in making those decisions for themselves. I would think it’s unreasonable to keep your kids from their grandparents until they’re 18. When they’re old enough to start figuring things out, the best thing you can do (IMHO) is validate their feelings and let them call the shots. If granny’s nuts, validate their feelings. If they want to see granny in spite of that, at some point, I would think that’s their choice. And if they *don’t* want to see granny? That’s their choice too.

      I’m not close to my mom’s side of the family, and I’m pretty sure *she* is a big reason why. I lived within an hour and a half from my mom’s two sisters, and I can count on one hand the number of times we spent holidays together growing up. (Each of my mom’s sisters has at least one kid.) My cousins and my aunts are normal people, and I’m pretty sure that the distance is mostly on my mother for one reason or another. (She can’t stand one of my uncles, and made it clear. I don’t think my uncle was bad enough for her to draw the lines she did.)