{ 983 comments… read them below }

  1. Marzipan*

    Just an update for anyone who remembers my previous adventures in fertility treatment (which were a while ago so quite possibly no-one does): just started injections to prep for, hopefully, another attempt at double-donor IVF, with the main treatment due to happen in a month or so. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

    I hope everyone who celebrates it had a nice Christmas and that everyone for whom it’s New Year has a nice New Year :-)

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I remembered! Best of luck to you. Currently prepping for an FET in this corner, so I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you.

      1. IVF-alum*

        I hope you find your blue castle in 2019! I am an IVF survivor and remember how brutal the process is. I wish you the best of luck!

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      My husband and I are doing double donor. We tried half and half with his sperm (he had known issues) but only the donor ones fertilized. We are doing a transfer in 3 weeks from our 6 frozen. Trying to decide 1 or 2. Best of luck to you!

    3. LibbyG*

      Best of luck! I filled up a few sharps containers in my IVF days. I dearly hope all of you family-building folks in this thread have great outcomes with smooth roads getting there. I’m now parenting, and when I think of that time the fear and uncertainty and hormonal weirdness are dim memories and the more prominent memory is, “Holy crap; I’m a bad-ass!” I hope it’s the same for all of you!

      1. Marzipan*

        Thank you! (And I really must get round to properly disposing of my sharps containers as opposed to stuffing them in the bottom of the wardrobe…)

        1. Amelia Pond*

          I seriously can’t figure out how to get rid of mine. There was supposed to be paperwork with them, apparently, except there wasn’t. Without that paperwork, I haven’t been able to get anyone to take them.

          1. angeldrac*

            I’m probably in a different country to you, but I was able to just take them to the local chemist. Try giving them a call?

          2. Valancy Snaith*

            Same–I’ve been able to take mine to my regular pharmacist as well as my fertility clinic’s pharmacy, and they both take them back. Does your area have any sharps disposal facilities? Some places you have to call ahead to notify them, but they’ll take them.

    4. Maggie*

      I have similarish news – I had a laparoscopy to diagnose endometriosis and it was actually there! I was so afraid I wouldn’t have any. And my remaining Fallopian tube (lost the other to anectopic) is currently free from blockage. I’m working on getting a new job, and depending on where I go I’ll at least start trying in the next six months :)

      1. Amelia Pond*

        There are a lot of people that totally wouldn’t get why you were afraid it wouldn’t be there, but I so do. When you don’t have a diagnosis, it’s nearly impossible to properly treat something and when you know, you can start to plan treatment. Along with the “thank god, I’m not crazy”, since women’s health problems aren’t taken seriously and you really start to wonder if you are crazy.

    5. CoveredInBees*

      There are so many of us on AAM, it would seem. Sending you lots of love and hope that this month will be the month for you.

    6. Cat*

      Add me to the list. I’m hopefully doing IVF in January – if my hormone levels are right, which they weren’t in December. I’m on oral estrogen and ganirelix to hopefully regulate them. I’m a little worried because I’m not expected to retrieve a ton of eggs, so it feels like a shot in the dark.

      Good luck with your cycle!

    7. Jackie*

      Good luck to you, you’re not alone ! After 3 years of infertility, we’re starting IUI in February.

      Sending positive thoughts your way.

  2. Jaid_Diah*

    It’s gorgeous here in Philly and I’m thinking of going for a long drive in the ‘burbs. I’m just antsy from being OOO because of the shutdown. It looks like I’ve got another week to go, at least.

    I’m debating between King of Prussia and Quakerstown Farmers Market. Hmmm.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Omgggg go get a scrapple breakfast for me. I miss you, PHI. Also say hi to Gritty for me. Xoxo

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        Welp, I already had breakfast, but I do have plans on hitting up the Amish market on Cottman for their coleslaw and pretzels. Sending you thoughts!

    2. anon24*

      I used to drive past Qtown Farmers market when I visited my grandparents! I miss the area! If you go there and get bored there are so many awesome roads within 15-20 minutes if you just want a cool drive. (Farther away than that, but I was just thinking this morning how much I want to visit Ringing Rocks Park in Bucks County again).

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        :-) I usually take Welsh to 309 to get there and then to get back home, I get back on 309 and end up in Easton, then take River Drive for a spin. Or take the 13’s and end up in Bristol. It’s all good and I end up at the Delaware River either way.

        1. anon24*

          I love the Delaware. It holds a piece of my heart. I’ve spent hundreds of hours walking the tow path along the canal. It’s probably the thing I miss the most about living in Bucks County. If you’re looking to end up along the river from the Qmart and are willing to try something different cut through to pick up Rte 212 just off of 313. That meanders up along through the county and will bring you right out to Rte 611 along the river a few miles south of Easton. Beautiful drive!

          1. Bluewall*

            I grew up between the canal and the Delaware (on the PA side) and miss it dearly. I find it so odd to be living in a city right now that isn’t attached to a river!

            How about a trip to New Hope/Lambertville? If you like ice cream, MOO has a place in Lambertvilld (or did when I lived up there 5 years ago…).

            1. Llellayena*

              Yep, still there. Though I prefer Owowcow in Lambertville. If I was there now, I’d probably wander through The People’s Store and get my antiques fix then walk to the south end of New Hope and look at how far along they are with the stone building (formerly Odette’s) that was recently moved into the park at the end of town. Yes, entire stone building lifted off its foundation and moved to a new location!

    3. Jaid_Diah*

      It was great hearing from you guys! I do drive thru New Hope on occasion, but hate the parking situation and the sidewalks are pretty crappy. I prefer Brewsters Ice Cream in Lower Bucks. Drive thru window!!!, loyalty card, and plenty of parking!

      I ended up going to the Amish Market in Bristol, on Rte 13, then taking the back roads to Quakerstown Farmers Market. It was starting to get dark, so I took 309 to County Line Road to get back to Philly. I figure that I’ve racked up 75 miles in the afternoon.

      I got my coleslaw, some jams (red raspberry jalepeno and F.R.O.G), seafood dips for New Yeas Eve, and tea tree oil.

      :-) Have a great weekend, folks!

  3. Comms Girl*

    Admittedly a sad topic, but I found out over Christmas that one of my friends is in an abusive relationship (think physical aggressions and lies to cover up her bruises). I’m not supposed to know this (so she doesn’t know that I know), and according to another friend she claims they’ve been working on their relationship.

    I’m at a loss and thought I’d ask you guys what can I realistically do given that I supposedly don’t know anything about it. All I want is to find a way to make her feel that she can come to me for anything :(

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Just stay warm and loving towards her. Show she can trust you. It’s one of those things that you can’t fix unless someone actively wants out. It’s the hardest thing that we do as loved ones is see others in bad terrible situations and are helpless.

      So you must stay a friend so she’s not alone in this battle. Many abuse victims are isolated by their abusers and pull away. You being there and not allowing for the wedge to tear you apart is huge for when she does want to leave.

        1. valentine*

          If he knows you know, he’ll use that against her: “Comms Girl hates me. She doesn’t want you to be happy. I’m the only one who believes in you/trusts you to make your own decisions (that I have assigned).” If you are in it for the long haul, support her without opposing him, for when they repeatedly break up/reconcile. I don’t know if one can be a Trojan Horse in these situations.

      1. Ltrim Press Club*

        ^^Agree with this.

        I might also add, keep the focus on her. Direct negative comments about the partner can invoke strong defensive emotions and reactions.

        This stuff is tricky, do your best.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes! This is important. You have to be open to hearing her negatives but not adding your own. It’s a hard dance.

          If she complains about him, let her know that you understand and trust her and aren’t questioning he’s bad news bears. But resist the urge to pile on to him…it triggers the nasty defense mechanism that you develop towards even the worst nightmare of a person you’re emotionally attached to.

          I learned that so many people will by reflex “protect” their abuser or that loved ones will try to deflect and make it sound like “oh he’s not that bad” and it comes across as “oh they don’t believe me the person is bad and relationship is bad”. My cousin had this happen, everyone “loved” her husband and nobody took her complaints seriously and tried to soften all the things she’d say. Then I came along and was like “No, this is your relationship, you are in it on a different level than anyone ever will understand, therefore it’s not my place to ever try to play down your emotions. If you say he’s acting poorly, I dont’ care if he’s the sweetest person to my face, that’s part of the whole song and dance of an abuser…”

          1. Ltrim Press Club*

            “it’s not my place to ever try to play down your emotions”

            This is amazing. Thank you for being the kind of person we need in the world.

            I’m going to say some things that might not come out well in writing and is indirectly related to what you’re saying. For me, the physical part of the abuse was the “easy part”. It sounds disgusting to say that, but the emotional part took a long time to recover. I dealt with a very talented gaslighter who conveniently moved us hundreds of miles away. The bruises, welts, and dislocated items all eventually healed. Immediate and midterm emotional items took much longer, even years. And honestly because of the time period of my life + circumstances, there are things I will never recover from. To others, I’ll always be the one who “chose” that relationship. Talk about softening the blow, right?

            The emotional stuff is just so tricky. In the situation, you’re in a different perception of what’s acceptable plus dealing with people who declare you as the source of the problem……when you’re not. It’s overwhelming in a subtle way that you aren’t thinking of “leaving” (that common proclamation by outsiders), you’re focused on fixing. It’s just you can’t see that’s part of the scheme to have you in that position.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              I understand completely how the physical altercations would be less than the emotional abuse. I have a lot of experience as a supporter of people who are “cutters” and have come to understand the physical pain can make more ‘sense’ to people than the internal suffering that is caused by others and ourselves.

              You can nurse a wound and “fix it” a lot easier, you know how to bandage cuts and take care of a bruise.

              But you can learn to duck if you see it coming or to keep your back to the wall, etc. But you can’t protect yourself from the emotional blows. And you also start to turn on yourself and believe the things they’re saying. It’s why they’re allowed to isolate you from your loved ones and your own emotional security. It ruins the trust you have in humans, even your parents or siblings or best friends.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Words vs. Punches: I have read where this is a pretty common comment from adults who were abused as children also. The punches were not that much compared to the things that were said. The words hurt more and the pain lasted much longer.

            3. Amelia Pond*

              Every single victim I’ve ever talked to, including my mom, always found that while the physical wounds healed faster, the emotional and psychological ones last far, far longer. That old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” is wrong, wrong, WRONG.

            4. rear mech*

              yeah I used to beg my dad to just hit me and get it over with after the yelling and berating had gone on and on and on..

        2. ainomiaka*

          yes this-you don’t ever want to make her think that she has to choose between him or you. It’ll sometimes feel like letting him win, but that’s the best thing you can do for her. Keep connection, even if it means dealing with his rules.

    2. Anon Anon Anon*

      If you’re connected on social media and she reads your posts, you could post something about local domestic violence resources, etc, just putting it out there for the general public. I think there are ways to do this without coming across like you’re covertly targeting her.

      Aside from that, I think all you can do is to be friendly, be nonjudgmental and easy to talk to, and stay in touch.

      One difficult thing about relationships going badly is that when you talk about it, there can be an implication that you made a bad choice and that your judgment isn’t that great or you “don’t have good taste” in partners. That can be internal and/or it can come from other people. But it’s a fundamentally flawed way to look at things because there are no good and bad people, and people change over time. In other words, there is a lot of victim blaming out there. So provide a safe haven from that. Give her positive reinforcement. Compliment her in the areas that people sometimes criticize when you’re dealing with abuse. Compliment her judgment, her people skills, etc. And counter-act the kinds of things her partner might be telling her (based on what’s typical). Tell her she’s intelligent, makes good decisions, etc. Be positive about stuff. But also be ready to step back a bit because there is only so much you can do. I hope it all goes well.

    3. Comms Girl*

      Thank you all for your kind advice, which I will definitely heed. To give a bit more context, I knew our other friends didn’t like her boyfriend for some reason but I just met him a couple of days ago. Apart from a slightly holier-than-thou vibe, he is charming towards other people (as you all said, it’s part of the whole abuser routine). Then another friend told me what was going on. To make this a bit more complicated, this group of four (counting with myself) has been friends for almost 20 years but now we all live in different countries (same continent). My friend who’s being abused moved to her current country of residence for this guy. Geographically speaking, I’m the closest one to her – on top of our friendship and her well-being/safety, I want to make sure she can come to me in case she wants to leave but doesn’t want to go back to her folks for fear of stalking etc (God knows what can can happen; as someone who left her home country partly to get as far away from a psychologically abusive ex, I tend to consider all possibilities). Her family doesn’t know anything either. It’s a tough situation, but I will take your advice, be supportive and non-judgemental, and let her know she can come to me for anything (even if she doesn’t know that I know).
      Many thanks, everyone :)

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Late to this, but i just wanted to remind you it may take several attempts for her to leave her partner, if at all. And that leaving is *the* most dangerous time.

        So of course keep being there for her and open to her, but also it’s possible you’ll work hard to listen to her, find resources (with her blessing), do whatever is needed, put yourself thru the emotional wringer… Then she will stay with her partner after all. Or maybe she will leave then go back.

        Be prepared for that, and if necessary don’t let yourself get too emotionally invested, if you’d find that frustrating or difficult. To be a true friend, a real help, don’t judge her and trust that – even if she is being abused and gaslit – she knows her own situation best. Let her control the speed – but be there whenever you can.

        It’s hard. I’ve been there (for someone) so I speak from experience. Just be there. And thank you for being her friend.

        1. Washi*

          “Don’t let yourself get too emotionally invested”

          I think this is a good point. I had a friend who was in an abusive relationship for years and years. I learned through trial and error to do some of the things mentioned above (reflecting her emotions back at her, validating her as a person, not attacking the guy, etc) but it could be exhausting. Sometimes I just had to change the subject to take a break, and I wish I’d known that it was ok to do that more often when I was feeling drained.

          Also, I don’t know if this is common, but while Friend was with Abuser, I didn’t feel a ton of anger/frustration toward her. When she left though, and finally did what I’d been hoping for all along, I felt all this anger rush in. Obviously I did not express that to her, but it was surprising and took a few months to dissipate, and I felt pretty terrible about it. It’s a tough situation. Good luck!

      2. Amelia Pond*

        I’m seconding what Flash says. Combining it with what else I said, even if/when she leaves, don’t take that as a sign you can start talking negatively about him. If she ends up going back, he can then use it against you and she may feel she needs to defend him.

        My mom actually taught me this lesson regarding normal relationship stuff but it very much applies in abusive situations as well. That if someone (let’s just say a friend) is complaining about their significant other (like after a fight), they may be fine with you doing the same in the moment, but the next time you see that friend and say something negative, they may have made up with the S.O and get upset at you bashing the S.O. (…that was a godawful sentence. I hope it makes sense- my brain is especially swiss cheesey this weekend.) It may end up damaging your friendship, which isn’t generally something people like to do. Is it frustrating? Most definitely. But not engagingly in that way may mean you don’t damage your friendship.

        And icky as this feels to consider, but the fact you have experienced with an abusive ex may help. It makes you much more sensitive to the situation than other people might be and you’re an example that people can get out of an abusive relationship. (It shouldn’t need to be said, but it is absolutely awful you had to go to such and extreme to stay safe, but you still got out and that matters.)

        I know I’m a bit late to this, but I hope it’s still helpful.

    4. Phoenix Programmer*

      Honestly until she is ready to leave there is nothing much you can do. My own sister is in an abusive relationship. She also lied to me about how bad it was but fessed up after her son told me the truth. Since then it’s been an exhausting dance of being supportive of her as a human, encouraging her to leave, shutting down talks about how ‘hes not that bad really once you get past the [abuse], and reminding her I am here and she has a safe place whenever she wants to leave.

    5. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      Make sure you make yourself as available as possible to her. Answer every text. Say yes to every hangout. When she’s ready to leave the relationship, you want her to be sure she can stay with you and count on you.

      1. L.*

        But make sure he doesn’t know your address, if you want her to be able to stay with you if she leaves him. Otherwise there’s a chance he’ll show up at your place looking for her.

    6. Amelia Pond*

      One thing that’s key is to not bash the abuser or try to convince her to leave, because the abuser can turn that around on her and use it to isolate her from you even further. Captain Awkward is a really great resource for advice on this. (Other commenters can confirm this. She’s even been on AAM’s podcast.) Calling an abuse hotline can also help- they’re trained to handle this in a way that makes sure things are safe as possible. RAINN’s number is 800.656.HOPE (4673) or you check their website. (Not sure if this will post if I put a direct link in, sorry.)

    7. deesse877*

      This obviously won’t work for everyone, but one thing I’ve done is reveal my own history of abuse to a friend whose partner seemed abusive. I didn’t connect it to friend’s life directly, just explained the basics in the course of a conversation about me. It didn’t inspire friend to leave, or even to conceptualize partner as abusive, but it did make friend trust me more, and put up less of a front about a perfect relationship etc.

  4. EmilyG*

    I was waiting for this to be posted because I just want to complain! A few months ago, one whole side of my family got tickets to see an entertainer we all like this weekend at a brand-new venue I’m also interested in seeing (architecture dork). Apparently my aunt found a ticket deal online and immediately called my mother to see if we wanted to go, and my mom told her that I would probably be out of town for New Year’s, so they (plus cousins etc.) got the tickets and told me a few days later, when it was, of course, sold out.

    First of all, I am not “usually” out of town, so I have no idea where my mom got that, and I am 41 years old so I don’t know why anyone thinks she keeps my calendar. Second, I am actually working 12-hour days through my usual “winter break” on a special IT project, so I certainly was not going anywhere this year and knew that months ago. Third, it’s 2018 and all of them know how to text.

    I prepared Thanksgiving for ten for these folks, and do things like make restaurant reservations exactly two months in advance for my mother’s birthday, and they’re ditching me for the ONE EVENT that I didn’t personally organize. I’d forgotten about this for a while but my cat woke me up at 4am this morning and I suddenly remembered it and had several hours to stew.

      1. EmilyG*

        Yes, back when this first happened. She believed that my aunt had to buy the tickets right away (okay, but text me?) and also really thinks that I go out of town every New Year’s. That’s because I did happen to go away *last* year and she doesn’t remember what I did any other years. But if anyone had asked me, I knew for sure that there was zero chance of me traveling this year because I am really working over the break.

        1. valentine*

          New year, new family?

          I am a big fan of chosen family. Are there single/solo neighbors you can befriend? Any sort of adult companion program or meetups in your locale? Who else would you be kind to? Anyone is fair game, but start with yourself.

          Putting all your eggs in one basket that doesn’t treat you the way you want is guaranteed to repeatedly hurt you. So. Divide and conquer. If you email, put the platinum rule at the top of your fam emails (unless they read signatures). Add it to any writing you give them. Sow that seed. Spend time with them in smaller groups and encourage them to text, possibly by texting them, so everyone has their own framing of and communication options with you ex-group and, most crucially, sans Mom. Let them know your likes and loves, even if you have to exaggerate so it sticks. Let them know you want to be asked, even if they’re sure of your plans. Stuff happens! Maybe your travel fell through. They don’t know. It’s especially egregious if you’re the only one left out. I hope you can build a Team Me that wouldn’t dream of seeing entertainer/architecture without a direct ask.

          1. EmilyG*

            I had a google the Platinum Rule, but that’s a good one! I’ve been thinking that 2019 has to be a year of Building Up My Social Life (rather than agonizing over work or falling back on people I knew when I lived here 15 years ago). And there *are* some solo neighbors so that would be an easy place to start… especially when the weather warms up and we’re outside more. Thank you!

          2. L.*

            Seconding the chosen family.

            Unless I call my father at the exact right time, I miss out on key details. Like that my grandfather is in town and they are meeting up for dinner. I’ve accepted that I cannot change them or their behavior.

            However, I can choose who I consider my close family. I choose my aunt (father’s sister-in-law, my uncle has passed), her sister and family, my siblings, and two friends.. one from elementary school, one from high school. I’m almost 30 for perspective. This is what I consider my “core” family. My ride or dies. Everyone else I treat as like that distant aunt/uncle/cousin you see at weddings and funerals.

    1. Auntie Social*

      Oh, I’d tell them exactly that, and ask them who was going to stay home so I could go. In the alternative, your mother—who appears to live in an alternate universe—can buy you a scalped ticket. You may be happier NOT sitting with these people. Or—you can buy your own scalped ticket, secure in the knowledge that you’ve made your last Thanksgiving dinner for these people. Why people ask a relative instead of asking you is just beyond me. Sheesh.

      1. Colette*

        Telling them you’re hurt that you weren’t asked is fine, but you can’t demand to be included. They’re allowed to organize an event you’re not going to, even if you would have loved to go.

        You can evaluate whether you want to keep organizing events for them. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But organizing events for them does not obligate them to invite you to their events.

        1. EmilyG*

          This is true, but not a nice thing to hear in my predicament, as a divorced only child who doesn’t really have anyone else to be kind to, even when they can’t be bothered to be kind back. Now you’ve changed my mood from grumptastic to tearful. Progress?

          1. fposte*

            I think Colette was directing her response to Auntie Social’s specific suggestion of making a demand, not to your situation overall.

            I’m sorry they left you out–I’d be pretty pissed too. It sounds like a big family deal. Might this be worth a separate conversation with your mother either before or after the event? You don’t have to tell her to eff off, but you can note that it’s really hurtful to be left out like this, and you’re still angry.

            1. EmilyG*

              Ah, I see, I figured Auntie Social was being facetious! It is a big family deal–we didn’t even do anything for Xmas itself because some would prefer to do something fun/casual instead.

              I think my mom knew before that I was annoyed, but I don’t think she’s picturing the actual situation, which is: not only is EmilyG not on some glamourous vacation, but after a year at work that left her with an eyelid twitch and teeth-grinding problem, she is not getting a break and instead working 4 12-hour days in a row through the weekend while everyone goes to a fun show without her. Uuuuggggghh. Maybe I’d just fall asleep if I *did* go.

              1. Colette*

                I want to agree with fposte – my comment was in response to the suggestion that you should demand to be included.

                I understand why you’re hurt – I would be too – and I hope that your family understands too, and includes you in the future.

      2. EmilyG*

        It has occurred to me that surely one of my young cousins has cooler things to do and would decide not to go at the last second, but that hasn’t happened yet. I checked Stubhub this morning and tickets are going for about 5x what they paid originally and that seems kind of ridiculous and not worth it.

        Oh, and *I’m* the one who likes Thanksgiving! Some of the family could take it or leave it, they’re not very traditional. But who else would I spend it with?

        I’m afraid they’re going to suggest that I have dinner with them beforehand and that I’ll end up telling my well-meaning but apparently clueless mother to eff off. That would be regrettable.

        1. Amelia Pond*

          I know when you said “who else would I spend it with?” is very likely a rhetorical question, but I want to suggest something nonetheless. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. ☺

    2. I’m Too Young For This*

      That’s completely ridiculous that your mom didn’t check in with you. Like, my mom knows I have default plans for New Year’s (a friend’s birthday is on Dec 31st so she always plans an overnight party) but if something came up on New Year’s, she would still check with me in case I would rather do that than go to my friend’s.

      So total shame on your mom for just assuming. Your aunt probably should have reached out too but my aunt would also probably take my mom at her word so really I put the full blame of this on your mom.

      I would stress to her that even if she is 100% certain you wouldn’t be able to make it, she should still ask you. She has no idea if you’d want to rearrange your plans to make her idea work. Better to ask and get a no than keep it to herself and snub you out of the fun.

      1. Lily*

        My family once left me out of a family reunion with my grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. because “they were pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to make it”. As in, there was a house planned with a bed for everyone, all my cousins and my brother but no bed planned for me (being the only young woman I do not want to sleep in the same room as three to four adolescent boys but not even that was planned). They did not see a problem with it, not even when I told them that I did see a problem.

        Then again, these are the relatives who forgot about my entire existence one easter (while I was upstairs for half an hour!!), so what should I expect…

    3. FuzzFrogs*

      I’m so sorry this happened. I have had a similar thing occur regularly with my friends (I work every third weekend, so apparently instead of asking me if I’m free, it’s easier to just assume I’m never available and never invite me). Everyone acts like you’re supposed to brush it off because they didn’t mean to hurt you, but that’s never the same as being able to forgive them. Especially when you’ve made effort to be considerate and they don’t make the same effort to consider you.

      It’s probably not healthy of me, but I often make myself feel better about these things by buying myself something that I’ve told myself I couldn’t buy. Or by planning a vacation where I turn off my phone and get away from everyone for a few days. Or by eating Chipotle a few days in a row. In my experience, this is the type of situation where the most healing thing might be to forget them for a day or two and focus on giving yourself something nice.

      1. EmilyG*

        I’m surprised to see how many people have similar stories! Assumptions don’t do any of us good. I have a few friends who work weird schedules and I tend to always ask them even if it is pesky.

        I have acquired and am eating a brownie, a small indulgence that is compatible with sitting at my computer working…

      2. Amelia Pond*

        Wow. Those are some really crappy friends! I mean, they could possibly be forgiven the first time it happened, if it wasn’t intentional. But the fact they keep doing it means it is intentional. That makes it a very big deal that cannot, and should not, be brushed off.

    4. Nicole76*

      I’m sorry that happened and can totally understand why you’d be hurt. In your situation I’d speak to both your mom and your aunt. Tell your mom in the future if anyone asks if you’re free to ask them to contact you directly and tell the same to your aunt. I’d even consider telling your aunt your mom sometimes gets things mixed up and you’d hate to miss spending time with the aunt because of it. You’ll get the point across with the added benefit of flattering your aunt which will make it much more likely for her to change her behavior in the future.

      1. Steve; I have pet peeves*

        Yep. This took my focus for a few years after getting married. Everyone was always going through our parents. It was insulting after the first year.

        But then again i was also the type to get annoyed that my name was signed on cards. I still get annoyed that anyone over 13 cant take a moment to sign their own name.

    5. KR*

      I would be so upset. I worked a lot a few years ago when I lived locally to my family and my parents just stopped inviting me to stuff where my sisters were coming over for dinner or something. And they insisted on communicating via my sister who would invariably forget to tell me plans. I had to pointedly mention after events and get togethers that I would have loved to go and had nothing to do that day, or I would have asked for the day off… If they had bothered to invite me and not assume I was busy.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You could consider telling your aunt to ask you directly as your mother is not a reliable source for information about your schedule.
      Then tell your mother what you have told your aunt and why. And tell her that she is to ask you also, not just decide for you. Remind her you are an adult and you expect to be asked each time, you do not expect her to speak for you.

      This is the stuff that can permanently severe family relationships.

      I am looking at what you are saying about Thanksgiving and I had a couple thoughts. It seems like you gave to much, it was important to you but nothing to them. Yeah, no one wants to end up alone on a holiday, that royally sucks. Can I suggest volunteering for a place that offers a community holiday meal? I do it here for TG and I am there all day. I come home whooped and sleep like a rock. This, instead of dealing with a bunch of emotions about life.

      Between the TG episode, forgetting you for the event and your long work hours you have quite a nasty mix going on there. Please invest in some self-care. Whatever that means to you. Perhaps you have people in your life who you enjoy very much, then make time to be with them. Or perhaps you want to go for a massage. Whatever self-care means to you. Take the time to do it. People let us down, almost on a regular basis. But when we let ourselves down that is a whole new level of problems. Take care of you.

      1. ... cats and dogs*

        I agree with Not So NewReader and those who suggested strengthening relations with others. This sounds like something that would happen in my family as well. I’m sorry you are going through this and suffering. For whatever it is worth, one perspective I fine helpful is to realize my mother avoids confrontation to a point that it creates other conflicts. So I could see my mother “not wanting to bother me”- so not contacting me directly- and also not wanting to bother my aunt by suggesting she contact me or “put her out” by getting an extra ticket. Another idea I had is: Can you go to the venue a separate time or even in the day to see the architecture?

  5. LuJessMin*

    So far this week, the door knob on my front porch door broke off in my hand (but go me, I was able to replace it myself!) On Christmas Day, my oven crapped out (oven is 24 years old, so not before its time.) Then Thursday my toilet started leaking and the plumber said it would be cheaper in the long run to get a new one, so I’ll be shopping for a toilet today and figuring out how I’m getting it in my Camry (probably have to take it out of the box to get it in my car.)

    1. Slartibartfast*

      Parachute cord and creative trunk tie-down for the toilet. Bring a couple of blankets in case you do need to take it out of the box, you’ll want to make sure it’s well padded to survive the trip. Also, spend the extra 5 bucks for the rubber seal ring instead of the wax, being able to reposition the toilet if you need to is worth it. Things happen in 3s, so hopefully the universe is through with you for a while.

      1. LuJessMin*

        Well, as I was driving to the Home Depot, a fellow driver honked at me and motioned me to roll down my window. Apparently the right rear brake light was out. A Toyota dealership was on the way, so for $6 I have a new taillight.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You can fit it in your Camry. They’re more spacious than you think until you move in one.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, plus the box provides a lot of protection. Toilets seem sturdy, but the flat part that gets bolted to the floor is thin and breaks easily when it’s not attached to anything. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Even in the box it’s possible to break a toilet if you put too much stress on it at the wrong angle.

      2. LuJessMin*

        The Home Depot guy was able to fit it in the trunk fairly easily – the plumbers will have the fun of getting it out.

    3. Auntie Social*

      Sometimes it’s easier to rent the Home Depot mini truck for an hour. Or if you are on Nextdoor there’s always a guy who does hauling who can meet you there—then you have someone who can help you wrangle it into the house, and haul the old one away afterwards.

      1. Tmarie*

        I replaced 1 1/2 walls of exterior siding on my house and then painted the entire thing last summer. To be exact, I was the source of money and the apprentice worker, but anyway, that Home Depot truck rental was a LIFESAVER! Many many times, a life saver. Sheets of plywood will not fit into a Kia Soul or a Honda Civic! Nor did scaffolding pieces, 10′ trim pieces, 10′ drain pipes…what a summer.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Please ask someone for help with the toilet– unless you have a wheelie cart & a trailer, it’s not a one-person move.

      I’m admittedly over-cautious on this lately because last year my fatherinlaw wound up in emergency surgery to save his leg after he dropped his still-in-box lawnmower trying to get it in his car. He hackysacked it and that ripped muscles & blood vessels.

      More likely a drop would just crack the commode…which is still no fun.
      Signed, the worrywart

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Re the toilet – I got a new one not long ago. Some of them are one piece, some are 2 pieces. Meaning 2 boxes. I’m not very strong and was able to carry it ok. And the boxes were smaller than I expected too, I had no trouble getting them into the car. So I think you’ll be ok.

    6. Flash Bristow*

      Can you buy toilets and ovens in the post-Xmas sales? We have boxing day sales here in the UK, but just as we’ve adopted Black Friday despite not having Thanksgiving *sigh*, I’m guessing other countries have post Xmas sales even without having Boxing Day?

      There’s never a good time for these things to break but hopefully you can get a bargain?

      Btw I empathise over the oven. Mine isn’t dead, but it always runs cold and that’s just with one thing in it. On Xmas day I used both shelves and its floor… Food due at 9pm was served at 1030, by which time hubby had consumed a large chunk of his xmas whisky and was practically falling asleep in the meal… I know a poor workman blames their tools etc etc but it really wasn’t my fault and I was hungry too!

      Hope you managed to eat satisfactorily somehow?

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Ugh I think I have the same oven! It’s always too cold and nothing is ever crisp.

  6. Foreign Octopus*

    The worst thing that can happen to a writer happened to me yesterday. A folder of my recent chapter was corrupted and nothing I did could save it. I had to rewrite it all over again. The fear I felt when I was desperately making sure my other folders were all right was like nothing I ever felt before.

    Although, when I was looking for other writers it happened to, I learnt that T.E. Lawrence once left his first, 3/4’s completed manuscript at a railway station in Reading and it just disappeared. At least mine was only 10 pages. I’m not sure what I’d do if I lost 250,000 words.

    1. tab*

      Ouch! That hurts. I recommend Dropbox. It’s free, and you won’t lose, or even accidentally delete your files. It’s saved me more than once.

      1. Short Time Lurker Komo*

        Dropbox or other automatic backup software like Carbonite. Carbonite isn’t free, but it’ll back up a lot more stuff too that you can restore at any time, and you can have it back up as you work or at set times of a day.

        You can also look at something akin to Google Docs that lets you write offline and as soon as you’re back online, it’ll bring your document back online. With Google Docs specifically though, I’ve heard that in its Terms of Service, if you published your novel somewhere else (even with an exclusive contract with them), they still had the right to publish the novel on Google Books, so look over the Terms of Service very carefully!

        1. Amelia Pond*

          Holy crap! I had no idea using Good Docs did anything like that. Thank goodness I’ve never used it for anything I’d ever actually publish. That stuff I keep on my computer and backed up by two USB sticks and two portable hard drives. (Not that I believe I’ll ever be published, especially since I’ve had a writer’s block on my creative writing for… •stops and thinks• Sheesh, for a whole decade now.) I know I’m overly paranoid about it but better safe than sorry!

    2. Basia, also a fed*

      This is my greatest fear! I email myself everything I write, every draft. I email it from one email account to another in case something happens with one of the accounts. I then save it in a folder in both email accounts. I’m sorry you had to rewrite everything.

    3. Anon Anon Anon*

      I lost many years’ worth of writing once, including half a novel. My hard drive suddenly, unexpectedly, died. At that point, I decided to focus on small projects that I could share immediately – performing and visual art. But that’s just me. And it wasn’t the only factor. I had been really passionate about writing while growing up, but it was also something to fall back on when I wasn’t allowed to do other creative projects. I got good at it, but I needed a break after seeing the academic side of it – lit crit. That removed a lot of the joy for me. I felt like what I was writing would just be read by people with a very specific lens that didn’t really resonate with my own experiences and what I was trying to communicate. Not to invalidate lit crit – there is a lot of good stuff there. But the perspectives there are only one set of perspectives. There’s more to life. So, anyway, for me, it was kind of a turning point. But that’s just me. I’ve lost things and had to rewrite them recently, then found the original. I like the rewrites better in some ways. It isn’t always a bad thing.

    4. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      Oh man, that is awful! I usually save to both my hard drive and a flash drive, but occasionally I forget and I’d be beside myself if that was the time something bad would happen.

    5. ElspethGC*

      I saw a story once from Emma Thompson about her Sense and Sensibility screenplay. She’d almost completely finished it, but then the computer corrupted the entire file. For the record, this was 1993/4, so you can imagine the computer that she pulled out of the wall and took in a taxi in her PJs around to Stephen Fry’s house after the IT guy failed to fix it. Apparently Stephen spent seven hours fixing the file.

      And then she won an Oscar for it. Because of course she did.

    6. Elizabeth West*


      This sorta happened to me once–I was moving a file to a backup and accidentally overwrote it. I’d been going back and forth from a folder on my laptop to a folder on my flash drive. Since then, I make three backups (one on the flash, one on the lappy, and one in the cloud) and always, ALWAYS go from my flash drive to the computer, NEVER the other way round.

      On the bright side, the scene I had to rewrite turned out better the second time around.

    7. Amelia Pond*

      I got upset today when I accidentally deleted a three paragraph reply to someone today. Losing 10 pages? I’d freak out in a big way. Losing 250,000 words? I probably wouldn’t get out bed for six months.

    8. Doctor is In*

      Hemingway lost a lot of his work when his wife took it on a train, left it unattended and it was stolen. Happens to the best in any format.

  7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    It’s been a week in my new place and my kitty cat whisker face is doing much better. Thank you for all the advice last week when he was all anxious over the change.

    He’s now cuddling and enjoying his new kingdom.

    He was upset we had to have internet installed, it’s new construction so I couldn’t just plug n play like usual. The tech was so nice. I was scarred by my movers who didn’t speak to me last week…so a tech in my home was starting to give me a panic attack but he was very personable and kind. Phew.

    Ah cats. I do identify with them so much.

    Also my new local petshop has more people and more people with puppies. Yesssss, this place is so awesome.

  8. WellRed*

    While I was reading AAM just now, got a FB notication from a thread I commented on in a diabetes forum. Someone was complaining about food pushers in the office. Someone replied with a link to AAM!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Hey, this is good news. It’s nice to hear that word gets out about kindness and common sense (in other words, AAM and her commenters).

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      About a year ago now, AAM got a shoutout on our local radio station morning show. They were talking about something about coworkers and someone texted in telling people to check this site out.

  9. Jean (just Jean)*

    Wow, this weekend’s AAM open thread is definitely a blast of Real Life.
    Marzipan, may your fertility treatments go well and be kind to you along the way.
    Comms Girl, perhaps the best you can do is just continue to be a good friend. I hope your friend decides that she deserves better in her life.
    EmilyG, would it help to ask your cousins to check directly with you next time? (I recall recently reading something else here about a mom misinforming other relatives about an OP’s social plans.) As for this time, try speaking up anyway; otherwise let it go, only because stewing makes you miserable but neither informs nor reforms your errant family.
    Foreign Octopus, I share your frustration but am glad that none of your other folders were corrupted. Maybe you need an off-site storage disk (somewhere safe AND with someone utterly trustworthy; and maybe I should take my own advice).
    LuJessMin, sorry that parts of your home are failing but please consider filming yourself fitting an unboxed new toilet into your Camry. You don’t need to act on this suggestion, just enjoy it in the privacy of your imagination and please feel my gratitude for supplying a small chuckle in this season of gloomy weather and equally depressing national and international news. May onlookers be moved to help you load/unload both at the store and at your home!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Now it’s time for my own complaint. I need a better way to cope while several geographically distant loved ones endure a variety of life challenges. (It’s possible to bridge the geographic distance, but only for brief visits because Life Reasons for All Concerned.) In other words, I need to Keep Calm and Carry On, not Worry and Eat Junk Food. So far what works best is persuading myself to manage for just the next five minutes…while trying not to give in to inertia, panic, procrastination or falling asleep at every time except bed time. The struggle is real! I feel like I’ve swallowed an episode of World Wrestling Federation.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And this is why I put prayers up on my kitchen walls a while ago and I will never take them down. Not saying this in the context, well everyone should do this, nooooo. I mean that life is just way too hard in some ways.

        Humbling isn’t it? We have so little power with so much of life. All we can do is sit and watch basically.

        This is why I came to the conclusion that each of us is responsible for how our lives play out until our last day. No one can lay in that hospital bed for us. We have to do that. And likewise with everything else. Sometimes we can soften their crash landing, if we are lucky. This is where it’s obvious they are heading into a Major Problem and all we can do is stand by with a steady stream of little random helps.

        My friend found out that her husband did not pay the mortgage for months. The foreclosure guy told her. Then her husband died. Then she found the stack of credit cards. Her world is upside down. All I can do is just talk to her each day. Sometimes I find stupid little ways to help. Fortunately she is a very strong woman.
        I have been encouraging her to leverage the things that are going right, try to tap those things to help herself along. We don’t notice the things that are going right, so it’s good to deliberately look for them. It’s still hard though.

        I am sorry about your people who are having difficulty. I can send out good vibes/prayers/warm thoughts/whatever they appreciate.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Thank you very much, NSNR. You’re right about being unable to attain complete control–and about noticing whatever is going right.
          I think my people would appreciate warm thoughts.
          Still struggling here, but parts of the bathroom are significantly cleaner and the internal WWF crowd has gone quiet. I’ll be out with folks for a low-key gathering tonight. That will help also.
          We have sunshine for a change. That helps enormously!

  10. Lcsa99*

    So I am testing a bread recipe that we’re hoping to use for caramel french toast in a few weeks. We’re gonna make the again closer to the french toast date if the texture and consistency is good, but for now we just want an idea of what to expect.

    The problem is that this calls for a 13x4x4 Pullman loaf pan. We already ordered one for the final bake, but for this test, I am just hoping to use our regular loaf pans. So I need to figure out if I should divide it into two or three smaller loaves. If I figure out the area inside the bigger Pullman pan, and just use the right amount of the smaller pans to get close to the same area, will that give me something closer to the final product? I don’t really want to divide it more than once, but I am not sure how it’ll change the bread for this test if I just divide it and don’t worry too much about the final size or overflow. Two out of three of my loaf pans are also pyrex, so I am not sure how that’ll change things when I use the non-stick Pullman pan.

    I know I am overthinking things, but I also know there are a lot of bread bakers that read the site, so I’d love some input.

    1. Marzipan*

      Is it a bread that absolutely has to be made in a tin or is it a dough that would be OK with just being done on a sheet, as a round loaf? I mean, yes, the tin will change things somewhat but like you said, you’re making it again and this is more a taste/texture run, which you should get a sense of. Otherwise, I’d probably lean towards just eyeballing it and not worrying too much; but I’m a rather slapdash baker and probably a terrible example!

      1. Lcsa99*

        I am pretty comfortable free-shaping loaves, but I am not sure how (or if) baking it in the open or in a pan would change the crust, which would matter since I am testing it for french toast.

    2. Jules the First*

      The lid on the pullman will give you a different baking environment (moisture and temperature distribution) so baking in open-topped pans and/or pyrex will give you only limited information about the texture and finish of the eventual loaf. If texture is really important, I might wait and do your test run once the pullman actually arrives.

      If you’re committed to testing it now, I’d bake part of the recipe in your metal tin sealed with a double layer of foil (or invert a baking sheet over the tin and weigh it down with a brick or similar) during baking to get as close as possible to the pullman baking experience. The rest you can bake off in any straight-sided pan or turn into rolls. Don’t forget the smaller loaf may change the optimum baking time and/or temperature and your two pans will almost certainly be done at different times.

      The other option would be to bake the loaf in a heavy dutch oven with the lid on, but again, that will change the shape of the loaf and may impact texture and bake time.

      All that said, a simple bread dough should be pretty forgiving, an enriched one (butter, milk, eggs, etc) will be trickier to predict how it will behave. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

      1. Lcsa99*

        I am glad I asked, cause you’re totally right that the lid would change the environment. I didn”t think about that. But since it’s already done with the first rise, I think I will just use a weighed down cookie sheet as a lid for the test bake. It’s a good idea!

  11. Chocolate Teapot*

    I got in from my festive travel to discover a hole in my suitcase.

    It isn’t a new suitcase, but I suspect it got bashed about when hopping on and off of trains. I now have to think of a way of repairing it, and at the moment, glue is looking like the best option.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I feel for you…I’m trying to find a flexible glue for repairing a pair of shoes i got st the end of the summer. I hate that they failed so soon, but I just don’t have the energy to deal with customer support.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          No, unfortunately the local shop owner retired. I know leatherworkers too–some are really disappointed he didn’t post the business for sale. But apparently he owns the building and got an offer for his space from a salon…sigh.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I didn’t see it in walmart before Christmas, I’ll look online to see if it’s in another site. Thanks.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        A lot of customer support have a chat-system. I refuse to call most days and chat systems have saved me a ton of money, since there’s a nice disconnect if you’re not on the phone.

  12. StellaBella*

    Laundry/cleaning thread for the end of the year!

    I’ve moved recently from a mildewy-smelling damp house in the UK to a dryer place in the EU. Today I celebrate because after 4 large bottles of white vinegar and not even kidding, 10 loads of laundry – ALL of my sheets, duvet, clothes, blankets, pillows and teddy bear – are complete. White vinegar gets that mildew smell out of things – a cup or so in each wash is needed, with regular detergent. I did not really notice the gross smell until I started to unpack my clothes, my roommate said something, and then…. UGH. Also thankfully the local laverie (laundromat) has a couple of those really big machines to wash sheets, duvets etc in. YAY.

    I also vacuumed the apartment and roommate’s van today, and cleaned the kitchen, so I am feeling quite happy to be rolling in the new year in a couple of days as a very clean person, Jolie Kerr would approve I think. :)

    What are you cleaning this weekend? Any New Year traditions in terms of cleaning for good new year luck?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m cleaning my old apartment today. I moved mid-month so that I could get my stuff out and see my family for Christmas, so it’s just been sitting there waiting for me to come scrub the place down. It’s not bad, just a cruddy apartment with bad stinks that come in from the adjoining units…my upstairs neighbor causes the bathroom to stink to high heavens [chain smoking indoors, it comes down out of the bathroom vent, disgusting…I don’t miss that place.]

      I finally have in suite washer/dryer and I’ve been doing laundry for fun this last week. I’ll cool down on that luxury soon so I won’t continue to waste water/electricity for much longer, lol.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Cleaning the bathroom and kitchen for plain old sanitation and to reset expectations of “normal” in the new year. Also planning to vacuum. Not glamorous but necessary.

      1. Augusta Sugarbean*

        Oh man, I actually love vacuuming. Dorky but true. It is instant gratification! I also have a hypothesis that my mom used to vacuum while I napped as a kid. For the longest time, when I’d turn on the vacuum, I’d immediately feel so relaxed. Maybe that’s why I sleep so much better with a white noise machine now.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Just trying to get the floors vacuumed and laundry caught up. I’m thinking about hiring someone to come in and do a deep clean at the end of winter, so I’m going easy on myself.
      I’m facing some mildew issues myself, but mine is books– we didnt know we had clogged land drains, so last summer’s extreme weather meant moisture problems in the garage. That’s where we’d put treasures as we closed the storage unit. I need to make decisions on the ones I stashed in the deep freezer for later…

      1. StellaBella*

        Deep freezing books – to kill mildew – that is a great idea! Good luck, too and bummer on the drain issues.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s an archivist’s trick I learned about a long time ago… when Florence Italy had catastrophic flooding in the 60s, restaurants in the not-flooded sections filled their walk-in freezers with antique volumes to buy time for the conservators.
          There are a lot of tricks online now, many written since Katrina by people eager to help artists salvage their works.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          By the way it doesn’t by itself kill mildew– but if you freeze it fast enough you can get time to dry the pages without mildew taking over.
          I like to think it’s harnessing the forces of freezer-burn for a good cause.

    4. WellRed*

      Taking down the very dry tree, which will create a ginormous mess, so will be doing a thorough cleaning after. Might also clean out the fridge.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          My late lamented Grandmother always said that you should never do any washing on New Year’s Day as it would wash away your good luck for the year.

          To be on the safe side, I have put on several loads today. They should be dry quickly as I have an old washing machine with 1600 spins.

            1. fposte*

              I like the idea of generations of women having reasons why it’s unlucky to do a big demanding chore on a day off.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’ve heard the same about sweeping. I hope robo-vac isn’t a problem because mine goes on every day I’m home.

    5. Bluewall*

      Just finished cleaning my apartment this morning! If I have clean floors, then I feel much better about the space. This was a deeper clean (kitchen sink, stove, and bathroom fixtures). I have someone coming in a couple hours to hopefully rent the unit and takeover my lease, so I want it to look as clean as possible. Also have the windows open to try to get rid of the pot smell from my duplex-neighbor (mentioned that last week; hope it resolves soon).

        1. Bluewall*

          Thanks! I hope so too. The property manager told me that if I find someone to take the lease over, I can get out without paying hundreds of dollars.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A Realtor friend suggests heating a little pan of vanilla on the stove to camouflage odors. Few people have problems with that scent. (She suggested it when she learned artificial scents can trigger my migraines.)

    6. Overeducated*

      I’m still out of town this weekend, but i have so much New Year’s organizing I don’t even know what to do!

      1. Somehow there are tiny bits of lint stuck to my bathroom WALLS, which i just noticed before leaving town. Gross! How? Tiny threads from towels stuck to walls by shower steam? How do I even clean this without just smearing it around?!

      2. So many toys to put away. And laundry. And new sheets and towels for Christmas, hurrah! There will be much reorganizing of closets and hopefully some getting rid of stuff; maybe the ripped sheet set can become cleaning rags, if i have scissors sharp enough.

      3. Got fed up with a living room sparsely furnished with scavenged furniture (lots of floor space for kids play, but awkward for guests) and bought two small chairs and a chest to use as a coffee table. Need to assemble chairs, decide how to arrange, and whether to keep giant ugly but comfy scavenged armchair as well. The Christmas tree may interfere with this, it takes up a lot of space, so I may have to take it down before Epiphany.

      1. StellaBella*

        1. On the lint – not sure where it is from but if you have a clean, dry stiff broom, sweep the walls – or vacuum them – those should get rid of it and you can then clean the walls with a wet sponge maybe?
        2. Hoping for sharp scissors and a good purge for you!
        3. Good luck!

        1. Overeducated*

          I think it may be too dried for vacuuming, and I don’t have a very stiff brush, so maybe wet sponge is the way to go, then wipe up with paper towel or ripped up old sheet? Thanks for the tip!

          1. Worked in IT forever*

            I get lint, too, near the toilet paper roll. I think the lint comes off the roll when it’s used and sticks to the wall, probably helped by the nearby heater vent. So maybe your lint is paper bits that come from a tissue box or toilet paper roll?

            1. Overeducated*

              It’s on the wall above the towel rack, looks faintly reddish, and most of my towels are red, hence my theory. Towel rack is also above a radiator so that could be part of it though! It’s not super noticeable, just tiny threads, but now I can’t unsee it.

      2. Bluewall*

        I love having a sparsely furnished living room, but have the same conundrum with guests. My plan for my next place is either a nice sized window seat or a nice large bench.

        1. Overeducated*

          I would LOVE a window seat, ideally surrounded by built-in bookcases, but there is a radiator right under the big window – this seems to be a common design (flaw) around here!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Most sheets will tear evenly by hand if you get it started, so just get through the edging with a knife if you have to. In a pinch, try nail clippers.

    7. Alpha Bravo*

      My kitchen ceiling, of all things. We have a very old house with a new roof. It no longer leaks (YAY!), but there is water damage along one side of the ceiling in the kitchen, so we are cleaning and resurfacing. Actually my daughter did the cleaning part last night, so I need to put down my tea and iPad, get down there and get to work on the second part. I also have a load of towels to do and she has to finish the dishes. Good times.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I am painting a ceiling, then making a giant mess scraping paint off the woodwork in a large bedroom. So probably the opposite of cleaning!

    9. Ltrim Press Club*

      Usually I go shred crazy with all the paperwork I’ve accumulated. That and I want to sort some legos to condense space in the closet. Thanks for the reminder!

    10. Ladybugger*

      You just reminded me that I successfully removed a LOT of red colour-bleed from a white shirt over the weekend and I was super proud of myself (white vinegar was the trick as well).

      Hooray for clean things!

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Sunday is typically my cleaning day. I failed to clean before I left for Christmas with the fam. Tomorrow I will clean the house so it’s all shiny for the new year. Although I’ll still have to take down my tree on New Year’s day; I might leave it up until the next Sunday so I can just whisk the glitter away with the regular cleaning.

    12. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Not a new years tradition, bit I picked up the living room after taking down the rest of the Christmas decorations and also cleaned out some of the kitchen cabinets yesterday. Today’s plan is to start going through my clothes because I need to get rid of things that are worn out or no longer fit.

    13. Anon for this!*

      Ha, just got back from my MIL’s place at 11pm last night and went on a cleaning spree till 2:30am!

      Unpacking, organizing, cleaning the fridge, scrubbing the appliances and Brita, sorting the laundry, filling up a bag of donations…

      (Context: her place is not very clean overall, and I was there for two weeks… Partly hoarding-ish, partly circumstances. I tried to help, but there’s only so much you can do when the real solution is: hire a skip, put half the household goods in it, then marvel at the space you now have and scrub everything down…)

      Feels good to be home after some unhappy holidays!

    14. PhyllisB*

      Still moving slower thanks to cracked ribs, but doing much better. My husband and I tackled the laundry room/kitchen and cleaned out years of junk we forgot we even had. He did the climbing and lifting; my contribution was to say “No, we don’t need this.” Or, “We might need to keep that a while longer” and to take stuff (in small loads) out to the garbage/stack up. We have people troll our neighborhood on garbage day looking for stuff to pick up, so I will stack it in area away from the trash cans, and by 7:00 A.M. it will be all gone. Now got to face taking down the tree and putting everything in the shed. Ugh!!!

  13. Goose Lavel*

    Has anyone watched American Circumcision on Netflix? I’m one of the men who is outraged that this genital mutilation was performed on me without my consent.

    I recommend watching this show to all new and expecting parents before you decide to have your son permantly deformed by this procedure.

    1. Anon Anon Anon*

      I don’t have that body part, but I’m also outraged. I understand the health reasons for it having been done historically, and I don’t want to comment on traditions in religions that I’m not a part of.

      Outside of that, I can’t believe we perform that kind of operation on babies. It seems so fundamentally wrong. And the justifications I hear are even weirder. Let people decide for themselves when they’re older. It’s not as if it can’t be done later in life.

      1. Jen*

        So my Dad is a pediatrician and I’ve listened to him have this conversation with my brother before my nephew was born. It’s actually not that simple because the recovery time is way longer and the surgery way harder on an older kid. He describes it as “low risk, low reward”, but he has had circumstances where he’s had to recommend it for parents either because the kid gets reoccuring foreskin infections (despite my Dad giving multiple lessons on hygiene) or to resolve phimosis issues. Both of those can cause serious pain or loss of function if they go untreated. In general, he’s consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics and doesn’t push it but doesn’t recommend against it either. My Dad will push hard for the important stuff (like vaccines), but doesn’t push either way on this issue.

        Remember that a documentary isn’t necessarily the best source of rational, scientific information. If you’re having a kid, the best source of info is scientific studies and medical professionals.

        1. Goose Lavel*

          The documentary actually addresses current scientific studies and the lack of current scientific data regarding the negative consequences of circumcision and how the medical community pushes for this unnecessary procedure (66% of circumcisions are performed in the United States). Watchin the documentary is a good starting point as it covers both pro and con.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think it’s kind of a barbaric thing to do to babies, but to be honest, I’m so used to it myself that I’m not outraged for myself. I’ll have to add that show to My List, as I like anything medical or behavioral, and this sounds like it would probably address both.

    3. NeverNicky*

      Apart from those who have it done for religious reasons it is not common for baby boys to be circumcised in the UK.

      Having seen the pain and recovery of two partners who have had to be circumcised later in life (which is uncommon, most boys/men are fine) I do wonder if the recommendations for non-religious circumcision stem more from an income generation POV than a health one.

      1. Jen*

        I mean, I’m going to be honest, I’ve heard people use the “you’re just out for money” argument used when I mention my father recommends vaccines. The reality is that doctors make very very little off of individual procedures. My dad gets way, way more billing off of a routine checkup than he does any particular procedure. Not to mention many of his patients are Medicaid, and his state was always always late on those billings. My Dad also once helped a broke family where the father had been deported get into a state program totally on his own time.

        The vast majority of doctors, particularly pediatricians, are not in it to get rich, and I find it really frustrating when people suggest that.

        1. Future Homesteader*

          Having a baby has made me so very appreciative of the AAP and pediatricians/other pediatric HCPs. I consider myself a pretty rational and intelligent person, but having a baby does something to your brain. Our peds practice has been nothing but supportive, nonjudgmental, and – best of all – rigorously evidence-based as I’ve come to them with all kinds of concerns and dumb questions. So please tell your dad thanks for being a hero to new parents. :-)

        2. Mrs. Fenris*

          I agree with that part completely! I’m a veterinarian and we get a lot of “You don’t care about animals! You’re just in it for the money!” Um, what money? Vets and pediatricians make a similar amount of money so I feel your pain.

        3. Marthooh*

          In the USA, I think it’s mostly a “That’s what we always do” thing. Originally, it seems to have been a hygeine and morals thing – “Don’t leave any unnecessary frills on your sex knob, cuz it’s unclean and leads to mastur——n. Which leads to blindness and idiocy.”

          1. Anon Anon Anon*

            The argument I’ve heard is, “So he won’t stand out in the locker room,” the idea being that other boys might look at his stuff while they’re all changing clothes, and comment about it looking different. I’ve never been in a boys’ locker room, but how often does that happen? And it is a reason for surgery?

            I guess the unspoken implication is also, “So future partners won’t be weirded out, considering what’s normal here.” But someone could decide to have it done later if they were concerned about it at that point.

            1. Observer*

              As others have pointed out, for some reason, it’s far more difficult when someone is older. Not that I’m pushing it, but that argument just is not as solid as in many other contexts.

            2. Amelia Pond*

              Honestly, I’m weirded out a kid/teenager has to get naked to change in a locker room. I don’t recall anyone ever taking off their underwear while changing, when I went to school. (I’m female, though, so perhaps it’s different in male locker rooms?)

              1. Anon Anon Anon*

                I think there is less nudity in locker rooms than there used to be? I think kids used to have to shower together after gym or sports practice? The schools I went to had group showers that were never used. It seems like something that’s been phased out. Also speaking only to the girls’ side of things.

    4. Clever Name*

      I don’t know that I can bear to watch it. I did not have my son circumcised. He’s 12 and has had no hygiene issues at all.

    5. misspiggy*

      I can’t bear to watch it, as my SO has suffered significant problems from being circumcised and he considers it mutilation. I’m glad male infant circumcision is being challenged more these days though.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        I’ve met guys who had issues with it too! And there’s not that much that can be done about it. Whereas if you have problems from being uncircumsized, you can choose to get circumsized (among other treatment options?).

  14. Seal*

    After living in the Deep South for over a decade, I’m once again living in Upper Midwest and loving it. This time around I own a house, which is an adventure. We had our first major snowstorm this past week, so on my way back from Christmas with the family I bought my first snow blower. That thing is a marvel! My driveway is long enough that shoveling a foot of snow would be a neverending nightmare, but not so long that I need more than a smallish electric snow blower to keep it clear. I’ve used it three times so far (went out in the storm a couple of times to keep things manageable) and it turns a tedious chore into something I actually look forward to. I haven’t had this much fun in the snow since I was a kid!

    1. Ltrim Press Club*

      I vote snowblower over other methods. We used to have a plow for smaller lawn tractor, but it turned into a struggle in years that there was extra snowfalls. (And it beats trying to throw snow via shovel over 5’ banks.)

      1. Pen*

        We keep a country driveway, 1/4 mile long, cleared with an electric snowblower. They really are wonderful, just don’t run over the cord. We have multiple industrial cords connected together so ours will reach all of the driveway. Have fun with it they save a lot of work and electric is the way to go!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Hm. The site ate my reply.
      Oh well…short version? I LOVE my snowblower… it has headlights and a key-starter. And my family took my hint and got me ear-protection headphones with built-in Bluetooth player.

  15. I’m Too Young For This*

    Warning for a question about bathroom health.

    I’m a woman in her 30’s and I’m already experiencing significant bladder leaks if I’m laughing too hard, dancing around, or doing anything remotely physical. I know it’s a genetic thing in my family but it seems to have struck me fast and early in life.

    My doctor only recommended exercises to strengthen my muscles that would help me secure leaks easier. Is that really all I can do? Am I doomed to panty liners for the rest of my life?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Have you had kids?? That can cause this to happen faster than usual or if you’re of larger stature, because of the strain on your bladder and rectum.

      Did you see a urologist or is your doctor a GP? I would seek a specialist out if possible. Sadly I don’t know of any ways to fix it but that would be my next step, don’t just take one doctor’s “well it is what it is”. Since it’s an inconvenience and not a health issue, some doctors just shrug it off like that. Others will take it more seriously or give you more options or ideas.

    2. Future Homesteader*

      Have you looked into pelvic floor physical therapy? I haven’t been but my friends who had issues after childbirth say it was life-changing. Just like with any physical therapy, the benefit is they teach you to do the exercises properly and can help you figure out exactly what’s going on.

      1. Bluewall*

        If you are up to doing research on your own, check out Katy Bowman’s Diastasis Recti book. Helpful exercises!

        1. Agnodike*

          I would actually recommend against doing any exercises until you’ve been assessed by a pelvic floor physiotherapist or medical doctor; there are many different issues of the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor that can cause incontinence, and you can actually make the problem worse by doing the wrong kind of exercise. For example: the classic Kegel exercises tighten the pelvic floor, which is awesome if your incontinence is caused by hypotonic pelvic floor muscles but will worsen incontinence and probably also cause pain if the issue is caused by hypertonic musculature.

          I know not everyone has access to assessment and treatment, but this is an area where you it’s probably prudent to tread quite cautiously about self-diagnosis and treatment.

          1. Amelia Pond*

            You are absolutely correct. I’m really angry her doctor suggested she just do exercises without referring her for pelvic floor PT, because that could end up doing real damage.

      2. Traveling Teacher*

        Yes! This is so important. I have several American friends who were helped so much by French pelvic floor therapists after suffering needlessly–and silently!–after not getting adequate care in the US in this area. (here, it’s routine and expected for women to see a PPT, after childbirth or when experiencing symptoms like yours, so it’s talked about quite openly here, especially after women give birth, and I find it really upsetting that your doc basically just gave you the brush-off!).

        As several commenters already said, definitely see a specialist and go from there. I had a c-section and had at first assumed I wouldn’t need therapy–wrong! Pregnancy just… weakens everything.

        Just talking about it is a really big step, though, and I hope you can find someone to give you the help you need!

    3. Jules the First*

      Get thee to a women’s health physiotherapist! (Yes, they exist!) She can make a more detailed evaluation than your regular doctor and give you a better understanding of how this works, how it’s likely to progress, and what you can do. Most doctors just recommend some boring old Kegels, while you may benefit from a broader-focused set of exercises. Look for a physio with a WCS qualification (no idea what it stands for…sorry!)

      In terms of other options, there’s no pill you can pop (sorry) and while there are a couple of surgical options if the exercises don’t work, surgery has a long list of possible side effects (not to mention a fairly low success rate) and is pretty much a last resort.

    4. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Women’s Heath Physical Therapist!
      Most doctors only know Kegels, but there is a lot more. A WHPT can evaluate what is weak and give you a broader – and more effective – range of exercises tailored to what you need.

    5. Rj*

      Yes, do physical therapy! I had intense hip pain and sometimes had the same issues as you (30s, no kids) and it helped with the hip issues, with a side effect of helping the bladder issues!

      1. Teach*

        Yes! Pelvic floor PT! Mine solved chronic hip pain, chronic bladder pain, and almost eliminated the leaks. The pain had caused some involuntary muscles to seize up, preventing them from stopping urine flow. A nerve was bundled up in there as well. Anyway, about three months of weekly visits with biofeedback, trigger point release, and homework radically improved my quality of life. (They will need to be up in your genital area, but generous use of sheets and reassurance that they have seen everything and been peed on before made it not super weird. )

    6. Zona the Great*

      Ugh this is me too but only with very heavy coughing. I’m looking into at home exercises but I also have access to a female PT who specializes in pelvic floor rehab. Look into that in your area.

    7. Ann O.*

      Thirding the importance of visiting a pelvic floor physical therapist. If that’s who you saw already and said therapist doesn’t think the exercises will solve the issue, I would recommend a second opinion before concluding you’re doomed to panty liners.

      I’ve been misdiagnosed a couple times by physical therapists. What I’ve learned is that good ones can usually do a quick exercise that helps you understand how you are imbalanced and what needs to be solved to fix the underlying issue. I don’t know if that’s true for pelvic floor therapists, but the underlying principles are the same.

    8. Thursday Next*

      See a urologist—if you can fine one nearby, a urogynecologist is even better.

      Pelvic floor PT is amazingly helpful. It’s not just strengthening; there’s also biofeedback and e-stim to help with relaxing muscles.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Are you dehydrated? You might want to google and check out the symptoms of dehydration. Oddly, leaking can be one of the symptoms. Right, you don’t have enough water so you leak water. It doesn’t make sense on the surface.

    10. Anon anon anon*

      Also for dealing with it in the moment, check out period panties (I recommend modibodi), which are washable underpants with a built in absorbent liner for periods and incontinence. They’re as comfortable as regular underwear and ready to catch any leaks! It might not be practical to wear them all the time (they’re a bit expensive) but might be better than a panty liner for exercising and such. (And they’re more sustainable than disposable pads too because you can throw them in the wash.)

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        I was going to suggest this too! Physical therapy (instructed by someone knowledgeable in this specific problem) will definitely help, but in the meantime absorbent underwear would be a lot more comfortable. I have Thinx for menstruation, and they also make a version called Icon for incontinence. They are a bit pricey, but they’re durable and very comfortable. On top of being better for the environment, you eliminate the risk of running out of liners at an inopportune time and won’t be constantly exposed to the weird chemicals in disposable hygiene products.

    11. Dr. Anonymous*

      That is absolutely not all you can do. Exercises can be a start but I agree with the other posters that pelvic floor physical therapy and a visit with a urogynecologist or urologist are both things you should explore before you settle for the Costco-sized box of pads. Depending on the cause of your leaks there are multiple treatments available.

    12. Amelia Pond*

      A urologist can refer you to a physical therapist for pelvic floor PT- something your doctor should have done. (I suggest a female urologist and PT therapist, though female urologists can be hard to find.) Just doing exercises without proper training from a physical therapist can actually make the problem worse. It infuriates me when doctors brush of women’s health problems and it’s far to frequent. It’s been proven that the majority of doctors don’t take women’s problems or pain seriously.

      But, I digress. You are absolutely not doomed to panty liners for the rest of your life. Do it ASAP, because waiting and letting the problem go will make it harder to deal with. But pelvic floor therapy really does work. Mine was the opposite problem, where my muscles clenched all the time, never relaxing. It made me feel as if I had a UTI literally all the time. Over the course of a year and a half, I saw 4 male urologists, tried multiple medications, had many lab tests run, went through multiple invasive diagnostic/exploratory procedures (and due to PTSD it made those invasive procedures very traumatizing for me) and ended up in the E.R at least half a dozen times. Then I went to see a female urologist- she figured out the problem in five minutes. I’m not exaggerating, she literally figured it out in five minutes! I saw all those other male doctors and they had no clue. (Sorry, that was a large tangent.) The PT helped so, so much. One last thing! After completing physical therapy, some women may need a few maintenance sessions, but it doesn’t mean the PT didn’t “stick”, so to speak.

    13. ... cats and dogs*

      No no. I had this at age 21 and took a medicine to loosen the bladder wall and it worked. I was only on the medicine for a short period of time but my bladder never went back. I’m mid 40s now. Sorry that I don’t know the medicines name but a doctor will!

  16. so anon for this*

    TL;DR:. How do you deal with changes in your life that you aren’t exactly happy about, and how do you stop dwelling on what was instead of focusing on enjoying what is?

    This is long and sort of whiny so thanks to anyone who takes the time to read.  I’m also extremely bad at writing my thoughts down so I apologise if I just sound like a selfish person who needs to join reality. Posting this is actually very hard for me and I’ve been debating it for months.

    Has anyone else dealt with mourning a life you previously had, and just not being able to let go?

    I used to be a very active person and my husband and I went out almost daily for walks and short hikes, with 10+ mile hikes on days that we were both off work.  Our lives were filled with being active and it did define my life.  At the time I lived for the next walk, next hike, next new place and adventure.  I loved it and have so many happy memories.

    Over the last 2 years things have changed, and my husband no longer enjoys outdoor activities, preferring instead to stay inside and play video games in the evenings and on weekends.  I have no friends, no real way of making friends, and for various reasons do not like to hike alone (I do not feel safe alone in the local parks because I have already been a victim of crime at one, and hate driving long distances alone to get to a safer park). 

    I have been very depressed, mourning the loss of my lifestyle.  I do try to walk around my neighborhood on my days off, but its small and I am very sick of the same loops.  I would love to have a hiking buddy again but I’m not good at making friends and the area I live in is not known for being friendly to people who weren’t born and raised here.  The lack of activity, combined with some medical problems, have also caused me to gain over 50 pounds that I have been unable to lose, further adding to my unhappiness.

    My husband knows that I feel this way but at the end of the day is just not interested in being active anymore.  He always talks about wanting to be active but if I do get him to hike with me he complains the whole time.  Unfortunately what makes him happy is not what makes me happy anymore and vice versa.  I get this, and I’m not looking to change him.  Our relationship is fine otherwise.

    I miss the fun times we used to have together, and it’s affecting my life now.  Instead of enjoying the happy moments I do have, I’m thinking of previous adventures and spend sleepless nights looking at pictures on my phone.  I am looking at ways of becoming more active myself for the future because I think it will help, but I won’t be able to get to my previous level of activity.  That’s ok, life has changed and this living in the past needs to stop.  Any advice?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I worry that your hubby may be depressed, which in turn is keeping him holed up and it’s trickling into your mental health state as well :( Has he talked to someone? That kind of change usually is due to a health issue, either a physical one or mental one in my experience.

      Have you looked into joining a “meet up” group of sorts in your area that does hikes? Or an adults rec center? They often have group outings. It may be awkward to go alone but you have to force yourself through that phase and you’ll start meeting people. Especially since you’re craving the outdoors and activities but don’t want to be alone. I know they’re still strangers but they’re all through the same club of sorts so there’s still protection in numbers, more so than if you’re hiking by yourself.

      1. so anon for this*

        I don’t really think he’s depressed. I do think he works too much, but he’s not about to slow down. He complains that he’s constantly tired but flat out refuses to see a doctor. I think it’s more related to the fact that all his friends are literally obsessed with video games (and alcohol, but thankfully he enjoys his alcohol one or two drinks at a time).

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s so strange that he turned into a homebody gamer after an active life…are these new friends of his??? That would make some sense if they weren’t always like that and now he’s hanging out with guys who are into gaming.

          I have a hermit like gamer for a partner but he’s never complained about leaving the gaming system or going outside. It can become an addiction, I say so as someone has has had issues leaving the internet in my earlier years. So I do worry that something is triggered inside of him. Not in a way that I’m scared for his over all health but I do see it is effecting your marriage and that’s a huge red flag that something is going on!

          Especially hearing he’s new to gaming and is complaining about your outings. He’s tired because he’s jonesing for the gaming system. I got that way when my mom would take me out and prior to smartphones, I couldn’t stay in constant contact with the internet world I had built.

          1. so anon for this*

            They are new friends, yes. And actually thinking about it he enjoyed gaming before we met, but from what he says he had a mix of very active and gaming with friends as a social thing. They would all get together, do guy stuff outside and then game together afterwards. I admit I don’t understand it but I suffer from extreme motion sickness so I can’t play and never could. He bought a very cool game for me and we tried to play together once but I ended up throwing up and got a headache

            1. valentine*

              Find a depression checklist and see how many boxes your husband ticks. Mention it at your next doctor’s visit. Your doctor can help you with how your husband’s radical change affects you.

              Is it time to move (with or without your husband)? You are even more isolated then when hubs was down for activities with you. You need other people in your life. Make a pros/cons list of what you want and need, then research best walkable/car-free cities and imagine yourself there. Are you interested in movement that lends itself more to groups? Ideally, you would have several activities with groups large enough there’s always someone available. (Unless you want to learn to lower your anxiety and hike alone.) Anywhere new you can drive to and just walk around, to vary the loops?

              Do you have access to a pool? Even if you can’t swim, pool walking or noodle/kickboard-assisted swimming may help you, especially if you keep up with the walking, even if it feels like a chore.

              Get yourself to a better place physically, then look at your current marriage and see if it serves that wants/needs/cities list. You may mourn your former relationship, but the movement need not be at an end.

              1. so anon for this*

                “is it time to move?”

                We’ve actually been saving to move. We moved out here for his job (it was a mutual decision, I was ok with it) and he would like to stay a few more years. I have my doubts about whether or not he actually will, but I’m moving either way once I can afford it.

                My pool is back in my hometown :( I do have a gym room in my complex, but I’ve always had excuses not to use it. It’s basically just anxiety and I know it and I’m going to get past that and just go to the free gym dammit!

      2. Anoncorporate*

        I also wondered this due to the sudden change in his lifestyle preferences. It must be health related to some extent – whether physical or mental. I recommend looking into it/encouraging him to look into it and get some help. You’re sense of loss is you probably also sensing that your husband’s well-being deteriorated in some way, and this will affect your relationship/marriage if not addressed.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Could you look into whether there are any hiking clubs or groups near you, or even try setting one up? There may be others in a similar situation.
      Or check out whether there are any places where people offer guided walks/hikes – which would give you a starting point and the guide might be able to suggest other local options, perhaps.

      1. Snoring Pup*

        Second the hiking clubs! The MeetUp website for my area has several hiking clubs that I could join, both local walks and longer day hikes. Could you join those to get your activity on?

    3. bunniferous*

      This is a marital problem not a “you” problem. What happened two years ago? Is he suffering health issues?

      1. so anon for this*

        No health issues. He just found new friends who are obsessed with video games, so that became his thing. I just need to be able to move my life along and find a way to enjoy “my thing” without holding a grudge. Holding him back and demanding he stay the same would be really unrealistic and selfish and he’s not the issue, it’s just what happened in life.

        1. WellRed*

          How are you holding him back? He’s had a big life/personality change. You have the right to be frustrated by that. Would you have even dated him as a gamer dude? Seriously, therapy for you, preferably both of you.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, I am not sure I would be able to move on with the relationship if video games were in the way of us being us. So I am not so sure that you can move on without a grudge. I am leaning toward the idea of therapy, also.

          2. Anoncorporate*

            I second this. I think the issue is more that he seems to have become more detached from the OP (if I’m reading this correctly) more so than he developed an interest in video games. People develop new interests all the time, but I would be concerned about whether is new lifestyle preferences reflect his outlook on their relationship in any way.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also look into an exercise bike with a laptop desk so he can get some exercise WHILE gaming.

        3. The New Wanderer*

          Totally happened with a friend’s husband – he met some new friends who were way into the club scene, so he got way into the club scene. I’m not even sure he was into it all the time but he didn’t feel like he could say no without being phased out, and/or he had some FOMO going on.

          On the fixing-it side, when I first moved here and didn’t have anyone to do things with, I did random volunteer-type activities like park cleanups that seemed designed for singles and people newly arrived in town and joined a hiking club and an adult kickball team. I took some outdoor type things like rowing, orienteering, and sailing. I only met a couple of people that I ended up hanging out with more than once, but it was nice to have organized activities in my schedule and it kept me physically active.

      2. Anoncorporate*

        I agree. It’s not just he lost interest in hiking, but it seems like you lost a main activity you two used to do together. You might want to explore other ways to spend time together (like going on a weekly date, activity, or other ritual). If he seems uninterested in finding alternatives, I would really look into why.

    4. Pharmgirl*

      Do you need to have your active time with your husband? Maybe you can join an active meetup or something similar and do more of the outdoorsy things with others, and save time with your husband for other things you both enjoy. I don’t know if meet ups are thing where you are, but I think there are also apps too (kind of like dating apps but for making friends, I think bumble BFF?) that you could try? You can join a gym, even for a bit to make more likeminded friends. Or sometimes rec centers offer activity classes like Zumba or yoga – not sure if those are your thing, but again it might be a way to meet more people who might also enjoy hiking.

      1. so anon for this*

        Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve been holding off on gyms or classes because I work most evenings and every other weekend, but it is something that I have on my list to investigate. I need something. A co-worker had asked me to hike with her, but I really don’t want to spend time with this person outside of work. I’ve tried to connect with people on social media with no luck, but maybe I’ll look into an app. It’s hard here because the culture is very alcohol centered and I don’t drink. Sorry, hiking after drinking a case of beer doesn’t sound enjoyable (or smart).

        I just need to stop limiting myself and stop giving myself excuses to sit around and mope. Time to make the most out of life again!

        1. Bluewall*

          I did a bird walk with the local Audubon society recently (free!), and it was a really lovely way to get outside with some interesting and interested people.

          1. so anon for this*

            I’m really not into bird watching, but that actually does sound fun! I know nothing about birds except “they chirp, have wings, and poop when they fly” so it would also be a great opportunity to learn. Thanks for the suggestion!

            1. AcademiaNut*

              I second the bird watching. Birders tend to be friendly types, and it gives a topic of conversation while walking, so it might be easier for social anxiety (and as a novice, you can listen a lot). The pace of walking is slower than a straight up hike, though, because you keep stopping to look at birds.

              It’s also a really portable hobby, as there are birds everywhere. So if you move, it’s easy to find new birding people. And it’s generally done completely sober.

              1. another idea*

                Another idea … dog walking. Animal shelters often look for volunteer dog walkers for the dogs. It’s usually a solitary activity, you and the dog, but you are not alone as in you have some interaction with the shelter people/other volunteers; you get to go out and walk. It might be a way into more/other kinds of exercises and meeting others.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Are you active in a church by chance? That is also a good place to find others who may be looking for friends and activities.

          Meet-ups and social groups when you don’t drink or want to be around the drinking culture makes things difficult.

          Most people aren’t actually drinking a case of beer before a hike. A case of beer at a time is binge drinking and after college, it’s physically hard to do, most are drinking over the course of a long hike and the exercise itself and the water you drinking while hiking as well breaks down the idea of being actually drunk in the wilderness.

        3. Trixie*

          I’m not much of a drinker either and our people are out there, I promise! Many gyms have robust class schedule in mornings as well as evenings. If you work evenings, morning classes may be an option. I have good luck with our local YMCA for a heavy group class schedule. Group classes are lovely way to meet people and find a schedule you can choose to maintain while seeing workout friends. Plus Meet-up groups mentioned by others which have the added bonus of being free. Hiking with a group adds safety in numbers and great workout while exploring new areas.

          Creating new routines is tough. You know how much you previously enjoyed an active, healthy lifestyle. Great goal to work towards again!

    5. Kathenus*

      If you have the NextDoor neighborhood social network where you live you might be able to find a local walk/hike buddy that lives near you. I’ve seen people post that on ours, I responded once but we were polar opposites in when we wanted to do things – she wanted to go at 6am before work and I’m totally not a morning person but will do anything after work.

      Also look into things you can have at home, there are some really inexpensive options. I got a used ‘gazelle’ which is kind of a gliding exerciser, one of those boards where you twist to work your core (do it on a carpet, not bare floor, unless you’d like to go to the ER), and a mini trampoline. I need things that are easy and convenient or I won’t do them, so these have helped me to be better. They also make under desk ellipticals/steppers/cycles that you can use sitting on the couch. They’re all little things, but I figure it’s better than not doing anything at all.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Maybe your husband is depressed, I don’t know. For sure YOU sound depressed. There’s a lot going on in your letter besides the exercise: changes in your marital interactions, social isolation, physical changes and some medical challenges as well.

      My first suggestion would be to find some support for yourself outside of your marriage. Finding a counselor or therapist even for a few sessions might help you sort some of this out. The fact that you felt so negatively about yourself even for wanting to post this makes me think that you really need someone on Team You right now.

      My second suggestion would be to really ramp up your attempts to be more physically active. If a person is depressed, physical activity might be helpful for a variety of reasons. For you in particular, being active has been something joyful for you, so I think you should really plan for that. Is there an active Meetup community in your area? Mine has group hikes and stuff, and then sometimes people make smaller groups of friends or pair up. Nextdoor is a good site for posting to your local IRL community. You might post for a walking buddy. I know that your area is socially insular, but that just means that there must be SOME other people who feel just as shut out as you do.

      What about other forms of exercise? Sometimes I feel safer biking alone than hiking alone. What about even joining a gym? It’s not the same as getting outside, but it might be a new physical challenge for you. If you’ve had some physical changes that make some forms of exercise difficult, swimming might be a good re-entry.

      Lastly, I think you should work on your marriage. You say that your relationship is “fine otherwise,” but that’s a big “otherwise” to get past. Would your husband consider marital counseling to explore why he’s suddenly more interested in video games than in a shared activity that he used to enjoy? And even if he doesn’t enjoy it as much, isn’t he GGG? Can’t you negotiate, say, one afternoon a week where he will do something that you like just because you like it, and agree in advance not to whine about it? Is there some reason that he feels that you don’t or won’t reciprocate? I think these things are worth exploring.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This may sound goofy, but see if you can hook your video game junkie on Pokémon Go and/or Ingress–both of which reward walking. I know several people who have used one or both to jump-start their lapsed exercise programs.
      Also, if he complains of foot or back pain, get him new shoes…I learned the hard way that my shoe soles wore out before the uppers. New shoes–> pain relief.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, it seems like there should be some compromises! Maybe your husband can commit to doing something outside with you twice a week without complaining. Maybe you can find a game that would make being active fun for both of you – my husband loves Pokemon Go and has also made some new friends through it! Or maybe you could get a Wii or Dance Dance Revolution or something else that would get you active but still has a game-like vibe.

        For you, I also second the Audubon Society suggestion (love their bird walks, and in my area they also have more hike-y hikes to learn about trees and geology) and if you have an REI or LL Bean nearby, both usually have organized hikes and classes.

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Get a dog maybe? If you like dogs. Enthusiastic hiking buddy and loyal guard in one fuzzy package.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I agree, it’s possible *you* are depressed. You sound like you are coming up with excuses not to do what you want to do (be active) which is a sign of depression.

      Hiking is one of the easiest activities to find groups to do in most areas.

      1. Meetups, local societies of local parks (my area has the Blue Mountain group), birders

      2. Hike with your coworker

      3. Join a gym or do fitness classes

      If your husband it’s interested, you will never achieve your perfect solution (hiking w/ husband). But you can still hike, be active, and make new friends through a group. Solves some of your problems.

      The voice in your head saying (“I can’t do Meetup… this is impossible for such and such reason so I have to stay home and be sad”) is the voice of depression. I’m not trying to rag on you because I have the same voice in my head.

      1. so anon for this*

        I’m definitely depressed. I’ve been my whole life and it cycles off and on. I’m actually much better than I used to be and I’m careful to monitor it. The reason why I need to make changes is because right now I’m crossing from fine to not ok and I need to fix that. I also have major anxiety, especially socially, and I’m well aware that I’m making excuses. I did try some fitness stuff over the summer, but it didn’t go well because I kept getting depressed when everyone was grouped around talking and laughing before and after and I was just standing there super awkward looking dumb.

        I had hoped moving away from my hometown and having a chance to start over would be good for me socially, but I’m actually far more isolated and socially awkward than I used to be. This is not a good place to be. I mean, I can’t tell you the times I’ve been flat out mocked because my accent it is different. It makes it hard to care, I know I need people in my life but sometimes lonely seems easier. I appreciate everyone who’s commented on this post and will be saving all your suggestions and looking into them.

    10. Fish Microwaver*

      Is there a Parkrun near you? Parkrun is a free weekly timed 5km run with locations worldwide. You don’t have to run it, walkers are welcome and it is very social.
      http://www.parkrun. com

    11. Ann O.*

      This is very hard. I’m in a similarish emotional place although the details are very different. You have my sympathies because I know from personal experience that when you lose a structure that worked well for you, it is VERY hard to rebuild.

      Still, I don’t know that there is any way but to try and try again. You have a few obvious paths forward. You can try Meetup, Nextdoor, or an equivalent to look for hiking groups to get you out and active again. You can also try Pokemon Go or a similar type of game to get some outdoor time with you and your husband.

      When your husband complains during the hikes, is he complaining about pain or boredom? It sounds like you both have lost your physical fitness over the past two years, and I’m wondering if you may be doing hikes appropriate to old physical yous but that are too much for current physical yous. Switching to video games with a new friend group seems pretty normal, but losing all enjoyment in hiking for a former avid hiker does seem a little odd.

    12. Lilysparrow*

      I had a major upheaval in my life a few years ago due to an illness & death in the family, a layoff, and an emergency interstate move all in the same year.

      It took a long time to go through the stages of grief on that and get to a point where I felt like I was moving forward in a positive way. A few things I’d suggest:

      – Change is loss. So do read up on the stages of grief, and don’t skip any. There’s a great temptation to rush to “acceptance” before you’re ready, because you want to move on so much. But if you don’t allow yourself to really face your sadness and anger, you will just keep cycling through them over and over. You’ll wind up in resignation: “oh well, I guess life just sucks forever now”, and that will lead to depression.

      Acceptance is different than that. It’s when you have integrated the change into your past. It informs your present situation but does not define it. Ir becomes one if many factors that affect who you are and how you live. Not the only one, or the major one.

      -Priotitize your physical and mental health. It’s not about losing weight or looking a certain way. It’s about feeling good and reducing stress. Make it a project and set goals around it.

      -Actively reject any thoughts or language about “getting back to” a past state of being. You have desires and goals, a vision of the lifestyle you want. But it will be a new thing, and you will get there in a new way.

      Wanted ng to hike and be outside more is great! Wanting to make friends is great! But it sounds like there is a lot more going on than can be solved simply by these thngs alone. They will be pieces in the puzzle, positive ones, but the big picture is going to be more complex, I think.

      Take care and I hope you can get some positive movement on these things very soon.

      1. so anon for this*

        Thank you for this. I’m definitely trying to focus on moving forward. When I get depressed I remind myself of all the wonderful things I have now that I didn’t have then, a lovely apartment, my cats, the chance to work a job I’ve always wanted to do. Whenever I get too down or all “I wish it was back then” I remember how truly blessed I am now. I would love to live one day in the past again, but wouldn’t we all. Trying to move forward and bring the parts of my life that I miss back in to join this life I have now.

    13. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I think everything you described makes the drive to a safer trail worth it!

      I know we’re all sick of people mentioning meetup as a foolproof social solution, but there are a ton of hiking groups on there. You could join one and go hiking with the group and avoid talking to people if you want, if that would at least make the trails seem safer for you.

    14. anonagain*

      That sounds so painful. I am sorry you are struggling. It sounds like you’re in an area that doesn’t have a ton of resources, necessarily, which could make it harder.

      Is there any active, outdoorsy volunteer group or effort you could join? There are a bunch of groups that do park clean ups near me and a few that do other conservation projects (bird monitoring, etc). I bet you’d meet some hikers there, but even if you didn’t, you’d get out in the woods for a bit. If you were a scout growing up, maybe there’s a troop near you that could use another volunteer. (Or even if you weren’t a scout, I suppose. It just seems like it would be more appealing to someone who grew up chasing merit badges for no real reason.)

      If a dog would help you feel safer hiking alone, maybe you can take shelter dogs out for exercise.

      I know you’re trying to save money to move so something like a retreat might not be doable, but do you have any friends or family who can come visit you for a long weekend and go hike with you? Or even just walk around in a different area? That’s not a solution, but I think isolation can make it feel even harder to go out and try to be social.

      Anyway, I hope very much that you find something that works for you.

    15. Owler*

      If you are willing to keep trying to find an outdoor group, you might look into some other avenues beyond Meet Up. My local REI was advertising an outdoor group for women of all sizes, and you might look into joining a yoga class or a Parks and Rec board for other connections that you could turn into a hiking connection. Would you consider hiking with the work friend if she were part of a bigger group, and if so, could you figure out some more people to join the two of you and dilute her essence?

      Are you and spouse spending other meaningful time together? Preparing and eating dinner together without tech distractions and talking throughout dinner together? Sharing a good five second kiss that is more than a quick peck, but not a prelude to anything else? (I know that sounds weird, but I heard that from a parent talk to newborn parents, and my friends and I still try to do this with our partners. Count it out…it can be hard to do if you’re out of practice!) I think it’s easy to get in a rut and treat each other like roommates.

      I definitely become more introverted as I get depressed, and it becomes this cyclone of pity that drags me down. I’m trying to dig out if it right now. So along with exercise, I have a checklist of social things that I’m trying to do every week or two. I don’t have a lot of friends, but I’m trying to get better about reaching out to the few I do have more often while figuring out new ways of getting out of the house and be around people. My library offers a book club that I’m going to try, and I’m going to commit to regular swimming.

      Good luck. I hope by these replies you see that you shouldnt think you are alone in your troubles.

  17. heckofabecca*

    To continue the blast of real life…

    My husband told me he wants a divorce during finals week :| So naturally now I am completely floundering because I was NOT expecting to have to need a new place to live, the money to live elsewhere, possibly a job (and therefore cut back from full-time & not finish my degree by next Dec…), etc etc etc. And it’s too late in the year to apply for financial aid/etc. At this point I’m pretty numb and I’m desperate to talk to an attorney to figure out if seeking alimony is at all feasible based on my circumstances, or if I should just cut my losses and keep what I have without seeking anything more. The one atty I’ve heard back from so far is busy.

    Just feeling really numb (when I’m not busy crying). On the plus side I still got all A’s. Thanks for listening.

    1. Jules the First*

      Go you, with straight As!

      Is there a compelling reason why you have to move out when it’s him that wants the divorce?

      Also, contact your institution to see if they have a hardship fund or if they can do anything to help – often they can. And finally, as a student you probably have access to campus counselling and possibly legal aid – both of which might be useful as you disentangle your relationship.

      1. heckofabecca*

        Thanks :) And thank you.

        When he said it, I made the mistake(?) of being super emotional and leaving. At this point I’m just waiting to talk to a professional to find out what’s reasonable to expect/want/etc. I’m definitely going to the school next week to feel things out, and most of the staff are on vacation anyway. Thank you <3

        1. Doodle*

          You go right back to your house or apt. Pick one of the other rooms to sleep in, don’t sleep with him. If he complains, you tell him that he’s the one who wants to leave. Going away for a few days or a week or two is not “leaving”.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. How terrifying! I hope that you hear back from an attorney soon. I think that once the new year is in swing, you won’t have a problem finding one that can take your case, a lot of people are still on vacation :(

      Please also think about seeking some therapy for yourself if you are comfortable doing so. You deserve it and it may help you work through all the emotional waves that are hitting you right now.

      1. heckofabecca*

        Thank you <3 Good point about the timing… I know *I'm* on school vacation, but I forget that actual professionals often have vacation around this time too! As a non-Christian I forget that people celebrate Christmas, ha.

        I do have a therapist, thank goodness, and she's really great so at least there's that. I've got an appointment scheduled for the 2nd, and since I'm on break til February I should be able to get more than usual in the coming weeks.

        1. valentine*

          Sit down with a cool head and list the things you agreed to, such as him supporting both of you while you study. What does it all cost, especially if you’re on his health insurance? Definitely get a lawyer on alimony and ask them if you should go back. Some US states have laws about “abandoning the family home.” Look into financial aid for school/medical.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Try to remember that he took the upperhand by dropping this on you but this isn’t all about him. A marriage is a contract, he cannot just put you out on the street or make you vanish! You will be okay in the end, I’m sure he’s going through a whirlwind of emotions too and you both have to find a time when emotions settle a bit to hash out the actual logistics of the split!

    3. Rj*

      So sorry to hear that. I’m a prof and have worked at 2 different kinds of schools. I can guarantee that there is some amount of money they could give you. Also, most schools admin offices open well before classes start (my current uni is 12 days before). If your school has a law school they def have a clinic for free/geared to income legal advice. If it is too soon to think of these details, I hope you have a place where you can hang out with friends for a bit.

    4. WellRed*

      Do you want a divorce? Was this totally out of the blue? You don’t have to automatically agree to just upend your life. I agree with the suggestion for him to move out, at least for now.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes. If you left in a daze, you can move back in until you both figure something out.
        Easier with a guest bedroom, but sofas are possible.

        I’m so sorry you got blindsided like this.

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Internet hug. Sounds awful and my best warmest thoughts are headed your way. EXCELLENT on still getting those “A”s…. you are a survivor. Good advice here, I won’t add to it, just wanted you to feel supported. You are among friends and well wishers here.

  18. ThatGirl*

    We’re home from our first Florida Christmas — my inlaws moved down there this year from Illinois.

    I really do like and appreciate my MIL most days but she is clearly not super thrilled to be there and has a lot of weird petty quirks. They are well off in a beautiful house but then she complains about them not being made of money. Never said you were. We’re happy to pay for our own dinner, but we did buy $$ plane tickets to get there plus ship gifts. And she’s kind of compulsive about dishes to the point where I couldn’t even finish my breakfast and clean my own pan; she’d already done it. But then she complains about us not cleaning up. You didn’t give me a chance!

    I think she misses having us close but doesn’t want to say it—kind of emotionally closed off. Oh well.

  19. CurrentlyLooking*

    Favorite Vegan recipes?

    Trying to go vegan in the new year and need some ideas/inspiration. I tried some vegan chocolate ice cream last night and it wasn’t great :(

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Don’t give up on vegan ice cream! Just try another brand if possible, there are a ton of them. Perhaps another flavor profile that’s not chocolate? I’m a huge fan of So-Delicious brand personally. Remember that not all brands are created equal! A lot of the niche small brands are gross IMO, I blame their budgetary issues, they don’t have the tasting kitchens the big places can build.

      It’s a good time of year to learn to make soups with veggie stock. I don’t have any recipes because I tend to just draw out of my mind and toss things into a baking pan in the end. But you’re in luck, there are a ton of vegan blogs that will be helpful for you!

    2. Marzipan*

      Curries! There are tons and tons of really lovely curries that just naturally don’t include any meat or animal products and so there’s no substituting things or eating weird pretend versions of other foods. Plus, they’re always nicer than ones you buy, when you make them yourself.

      I’m not vegan but I am vegetarian and the Christmas present I’m most excited about is Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook – it has tons of interesting-looking things in it. I’ll report back if I find anything good!

      1. Overeducated*

        That book has a recipe for something with a vague name like “spicy bean curd” that’s a family favorite! It’s just tofu with scallions or leeks, cilantro, and a soy and garlic based sauce, so pretty quick and simple. It goes very well with her sesame dressed green beans.

      2. Clisby Williams*

        Second this – and even if a curry recipe has milk/cream it it, you can try substituting coconut cream to make it vegan.

        Google Middle Eastern and Ethiopian vegan recipes. (The cuisines aren’t inherently vegan, but they include vegan recipes.)

    3. Jen*

      I am lactose intolerant, but not vegan, and I find the best non-dairy ice creams lean into the flavor profile of the milk substitute. So if they’re using almond milk, they do a praline flavor. I think Ben and Jerry’s does a nice job with it.

      I like Tofu Pho and Chana Masala a lot. Just adapting American food can be tricky because there tends to be a lot of milk and cheese, so sometimes leaning into certain cuisines where milk is less common can help.

      Where I’ve had the least success, personally, is in vegan baking.

    4. Anon Anon Anon*

      It takes some time for your tastes to adjust to a new diet. A lot of stuff tasted bad when I first gave up meat. Now that stuff tastes good and meat tastes bad. For me, the switch took about a year. So I would get ready to tough it out for a while, knowing that it will get better and you’ll feel better if you stick with it.

      What plant-based foods do you enjoy now? What about dark chocolate? Dipped in peanut butter? Fruit dipped in dark chocolate? (As an alternative to vegan ice cream.) I would start with things you know you like and branch out from there. And maybe try something to help your body reset (sauna, working out a lot, acupuncture, a fast, etc). It’s an adjustment on a physical level. You’re changing the ecosystem in your gut and what your brain craves when you need certain nutrients, among other things. A doctor or nutritionist might have advice on how to get through that, and maybe how to make it happen faster.

      Also, try going to some vegan events where there will be a wide variety of food available. And cook things you like, just without the meat. Snack on fresh nuts, trail mix, fresh fruit, hummus, and so on. There’s a lot out there and a lot of it is good.

    5. Miranda*

      Had to go dairy free while nursing. So Delicious cashew milk chocolate ice cream bars and salted caramel cluster ice cream were creamy and tasty enough that I didn’t miss regular ice cream (except for the prices).

        1. Alice*

          The sorbet recipes that I use are dairy- free but not vegan, I’m afraid – egg whites. But maybe there are vegan versions too?

      1. Miranda*

        Oh also Chocolate Covered Katie is the name of a blog with all sorts of vegan recipes, mostly dessert, but some not. Mostly I agree with the people who say look for vegan recipes that are naturally vegan, but for non-meat meat, if you like burgers but don’t like where they come from the impossible burger was actually really good even when tasted side by side with regular burger.

        1. Future Homesteader*

          Just went dairy and soy free, also for nursing reasons. This is the thread I didn’t know I needed! I’m also a believer in mostly eating foods that aren’t meant to have dairy, but I do really find myself missing creamy things (and getting rapidly sick of coconut, which has never been a flavor I particularly enjoyed). So thank you! (And I will happily take any other tips you might have about how to handle this! It’s such a big lifestyle change, right on the heels of the biggest lifestyle change.)

    6. Bluewall*

      My suggestion is to try things that are inherently vegan, not modified recipes. That’s like just increasing the amount of fabric on clothing for plus sizes… it might fit but that don’t mean it looks good.

      Oh She Glows has some really great cookbooks (she has a blog as well but I’ve only read and used her cookbooks).

      Kris Carr also shares a fair number of vegan recipes.

      I find myself cooking a fair number of curry-like dishes; I also make a wicked salad (super easy! Just have some good salad add-ins on hand, romaine or a head lettuce, chickpeas, and shake up a dressing).

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        I second all of this! I was vegan for many years and had much more success with new-to-me cuisine rather than trying to veganize things I already liked. Try learning to cook food from cultures that don’t eat much in the way of animal products to begin with, like Indian food.

        Some cuisines that aren’t super commonly vegan are still easier to adapt because the animal ingredients are just one or two straightforward things that can be substituted or left out without sacrificing the core flavors, if that makes sense. For example, lots of Thai food is essentially vegan if you just leave out the meat and substitute aminos for fish sauce. Whereas so many typical western foods layer butter, meat, and cheese into the same dish and trying to work around all of that is inevitably disappointing.

        I also highly recommend doing some preemptive recon of local restaurant options. You don’t want to be stuck eating undressed lettuce when you go out with friends, or lose the willpower to stick to your decision because you have no idea what your takeout options are at the end of a crazy day. Figuring out which Mexican place doesn’t put lard in their beans and which pizza place doesn’t add Parmesan to their crust now will save you a lot of disappointment later.

    7. Ranon*

      Falafel! Smitten Kitchen had a good recipe recently. Refried black beans with basically anything, American style tacos with lentils instead of ground beef, masa dumplings (made like you would for tamales but with frozen olive oil instead of lard) in red enchilada sauce with spinach and black beans, lentil Bolognese, garlicky white beans with heaps of olive oil on toast, chickpea salad sandwiches, blackened tofu tacos with avocado “crema”… So many options!

    8. Raine*

      Try avocado based ice cream (there are a few recipes online, I’ve never seen it in a store). Super yummy.

    9. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      Test out the meat/dairy options thoroughly and make sure you enjoy them enough to commit to a lifetime of them. I’ve dabbled in vegetarianism/veganism in the past and I’ve found that 1) my body doesn’t do well with large amounts of soy and tofu, and 2) I prefer not to load myself down with carb-heavy alternatives like seitan. These days I eat mostly a plant-based diet with minimal meat and dairy, most of which I try to ensure is sourced somewhat ethically.

      This is a preemptive pep talk to not be too hard on yourself if things get frustrating :) Lifestyle changes take time!

    10. Margaret*

      For ice cream, I love Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Daaz dairy-free options! They carry both at Target (and I believe Target’s brand just started a similar product, but I haven’t tried it yet), they’re near/adjacent but usually not intermingled with the regular ice cream.

    11. CrazyPlantLady*

      Love and Lemons, Dishing Up the Dirt, Minimalist Baker, and Thug Kitchen all have great vegan recipes. The first two aren’t vegan, but a lot of their recipes are, and you can click the vegan button on the recipe page to sort for just the vegan ones. All of these are blogs that also have cookbooks. I’ve made recipes from both of each, and they’ve all been delicious.

      I especially love the sauces from Dishing Up the Dirt. They taste delicious on any vegetable. I’m a big fan of the bowl meal – pick a grain, roast or steam a couple of veggies, pick a bean/tofu/tempeh, and slather it all in a delicious sauce. Endless combinations, super easy, delicious, and vegan friendly.

    12. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      These vegan snickerdoodles (cinnamon and sugar cookies) are delicious — I actually think they’re better than the non-vegan version of the same recipe:

      2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
      2 tsp cream of tartar
      1 tsp baking soda
      1/2 tsp salt
      1 cup unsalted vegan butter or margarine (we use Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine, which has no dairy products – be warned, the salted margarine does! Earth Balance butter spread also works)
      1 1/2 cups sugar
      The “egg replacer” equivalent of 2 eggs (we use Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer)
      2 tbsp soy milk (I’ve used water when I’ve run out of soy milk, and that works fine too)
      1 tsp vanilla extract

      Snickerdoodle topping:
      6 tbsp sugar
      2 tsp cinnamon

      In a small bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

      In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the mixed-up egg replacer, milk and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for two hours (note: we’ve chilled it for less time and it’s been fine).

      Preheat oven to 350 F.

      Mix the extra sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl to form the snickerdoodle mixture. Place rounded spoonfuls of the dough onto cookie sheets and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Let cool and enjoy!

  20. Rosie M. Banks*

    New Year’s Resolutions, all? I realized that I used to be a get up and go kind of person, and I’ve become a get up and read random stuff on my phone for at least an hour person. So my resolution is to turn the phone off when I go to bed and leave it off until at least two hours after I get up. Maybe I can start doing stuff in the morning again!

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I am the same, so I am trying the same thing. I usually use my phone to watch videos etc to put myself to sleep (I know that is the opposite of healthy sleep) but I got an Amazon Alexa and “help me sleep” is one of her tricks, so I’ll be trying that!

      1. Jen*

        I have trouble sleeping and an audibook played on my phone usually helps me sleep. Although this is a habit I developed as a child with my tape player. I wish I knew a better way of getting myself back to sleep.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          I’ve been doing the same. I also like BBC radio 4’s Book at Bedtime and the LeVar Burton Reads podcast.

    2. Kristen*

      I really like that one and should commit to that myself. I could never do without my smart phone now, but it’s such a time waster for me.

      I have a list of goals for the new year. Most are the same as usual: read X number of books, get healthy, and organize. A few new ones are be on time for work (for whatever reason, in 2018 I was awful about getting to work at a decent time) and save a certain amount of money in my savings and retirement accounts.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’d really like to start getting up earlier and doing a little stretching in the morning. It’s just a matter of making myself until it becomes a habit. I already managed to make myself drink a whole stadium cup of water every morning with my thyroid pill (gag!), so if I can do THAT, surely some stretching will be easy. The morning ritual of French press coffee and reading the news will remain, however. I really love that thing and look forward to my mega cup of Cafe Bustelo (current fave; tasty and also cheap) every day.

    4. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I am spending 2019 (and 2020, and 2021) enacting last year’s resolution to go back to school!

    5. Overeducated*

      I also spend too much time on my phone. I’d like to put it to better use and try learning a bit of Spanish every day.

    6. Anoncorporate*

      Ack I should have checked to see that there was already a thread on this. I want to sleep more consistent hours and better. I think it will be a lot better for my health.

  21. Epsilon Delta*

    I was about to call my mom to ask her how to fix something, and then I realized that she would probably be just as confused as me. New adulting level unlocked lol.

  22. Anon Anon Anon*

    Hey Anon, how was your week? Well, let me tell you.

    I heard from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a couple of years. She was homeless the last time we talked, so I had been worried about her. I was happy to hear that she has a place to stay and still has phone service. She’s struggled with employment due to some mental health stuff. She’s the kind of person who is really funny and awesome in so many ways but has trouble with certain kinds of things because of said mental health stuff. And the resources don’t seem to be great where she is, so I don’t think she can get disability or help finding a job with accommodations. I wish I could do more to help. But it was good just to talk and catch up.

    I’m broke as a joke, still job hunting. Rent is due. A lot of people in my life have been jerks lately, but I’ve met some nice people too. I’m still trying to get back on my feet after dealing with some bad stuff, but the bad stuff continues. I’m pretty isolated right now. I wish there were more resources for people in my kind of situation, but there doesn’t seem to be much out there. I’m staying optimistic and hoping things will turn around.

  23. Curator*

    In my quest for w/l balance I commit:
    That today there will be a nap.
    I have done the grocery shopping.
    There will be laundry.
    As I make this list there is an opposing list of EVERYTHING that needs to get done for “the thing that shall not be named”
    So as I bat away those thoughts.
    I will list them and remember that none of this is an emergency.
    Article revision.
    Literature Review.
    Research Plan.
    Exhibit layout.
    Okay- I can postpone all of this to tomorrow.
    I will watch GLOW and finish knitting a Christmas present.
    I will have dinner with friends.

    1. Bluebell*

      I love your “to do list as poetry”– it’s inspiring! Good luck staying balanced and enjoy GLOW!

  24. AnonforThis*

    Can I get a gut check on whether I’m being too harsh here? A friend of my spouse’s wants to come stay in a couple weeks for two weeks to do a project in town for grad school. Normally I wouldn’t object to this, but the time the person wants to come is when I’m about 37-38 weeks pregnant, and I’m just not okay with that (doesn’t help that we live in a small apartment so our “spare room” is actually the room we are setting up for the baby, which just isn’t done yet). Plus 37-38 weeks is in the danger zone for delivery and if I was going to pick someone to be staying with us when the baby was born, it wouldn’t be some random friend.

    I’m annoyed because my spouse gave a tentative okay (because we’ve done that before) and then I have to be the bad guy who is going “wait… no way.” The person in question keeps insisting that they wouldn’t be a burden, but the reality is that just is never the case with any visitor (the exception maybe being our parents, who are helpful when they arrive).

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      People who push you and “insist” they’ll be “no burden” are actually HUGE! burdens. This person is a user and trying to take advantage of your kindness!

      First you don’t need a “good reason” to say no but in this case you have a great reason to say “We’re busy having a baby over here, I don’t have the space in my small home or mind to accommodate you!” Of course you’ll feel like the bad guy but to be honest, if someone cannot understand that as a heavily pregnant woman, you need space and control over your environment, they aren’t really great friends to begin with, let alone stress over!

      1. valentine*

        Your spouse should have your back so that you’re not the bad guy.
        Spouse: I totally spaced. That’s way close to the delivery date!

        Say you are having a stay-babymoon. I don’t want people in my space, ever, but certainly not while waddling on swollen ankles, possibly in a state of undress for optimal comfort. If necessary, tell outright lies, like your parents will be arriving at an unknown date or you’re considering a water birth in that room.

        It’s infinitely easier to say no than to turf him, especially if he refuse to leave for whatever reason.

    2. Bluewall*

      Uh yeah you are totally not out of line. Not at all a time when you want a guest in your space. Can spouse suggest a friend of alternative housing option (suggest, not arrange)?

    3. Overeducated*

      Erm…yeah, I delivered at 38 weeks. Only way I’d agree to a houseguest is if they were planning to provide full service cooking, cleaning, and driving. “Not a burden” is not enough.

      Unless this came up months ago when your husband said yeesand the person now doesn’t have time to make alternative plans, I think it’s acceptable, in this instance, to say “NO WAIT, i checked the calendar and was mistaken, really sorry.” Your husband can say this without mentioning your wishes, you’re not the bad guy.

    4. Thursday Next*

      You’re not being harsh, and it should be your spouse to deliver the news to the friend. Your spouse can apologize for not taking the timing of your pregnancy into,account, and explain that it’s not about the friend being a burden, but that it’s a time when you and your spouse will be focused on other concerns, such as preparing for the baby—and possibly caring for the baby!

      Mine came at 37 and 38 weeks, so I hear you!

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      You are not being too harsh! You’re about to have a baby and of course you don’t want someone in your space as you get ready and/or possibly bring the baby home with you. This is your time, you’re not obligated to host someone you don’t want to!

      I would have husband go back to him (as it’s his friend) and say:

      “I’ve been thinking about what you asked and I’m sorry but we just can’t do it. Wife is going to be 37-38 weeks pregnant and there’s still so much to do before the baby comes. I know you say you won’t be a hassle but I don’t want to risk it if the baby comes during the window you’ve provided. Here’s a list for cheap accommodation.”

      Whatever you do, protect your space!

    6. fposte*

      I think a two-week guest is a big deal at the best of times, and this isn’t the best of times. I also think it’s on Spouse, not you, to say “I’m sorry, I screwed up on the dates, and we won’t be able to host then.” How little this person plans to be a burden is neither here nor there, and you don’t need to be involved in those conversations.

      But I’m also wondering about the timing of the initial request. Was the tentative yes given, like, within the last week, or did it get sat on for a while? If the student just asked last week, I’m side-eyeing their slow planning on housing for the visit and I don’t feel bad at turning around and saying “Actually, no.” But if they asked months ago and your spouse sat on the request, I think that’s also a sucky thing to do to the student, so I’d hope he could make alternative arrangements for the person.

    7. dawbs*

      Can “parents coming to help with baby, and if baby comes at 38 w…” be your out?
      Bbecause pregnancy at least means random friend needs a plan B.

    8. BRR*

      You are 1,000% ok saying no. Heck you can even tell them you know they wouldn’t be a burden (if that’s true) and under other circumstances you wouldn’t mind but you don’t want any house guests at this point in the pregnancy.

    9. Marzipan*

      Yeah, no. Not being too harsh.

      In normal circumstances, yeah, fair enough, someone could come and stay for a couple of weeks and it might be slightly inconvenient but with ground rules and whatnot, that’s completely doable. At 37-38 weeks? NOOOOOOOO. A world of no.

      Best case scenario, you’re very very pregnant – so, probably really quite uncomfortable and needing your space to rest as best you can. But yeah, that’s absolutely in the zone of when baby could actually arrive, so there’s also the distinct possibility that you’d be adding a baby into the mix. And I think the way to pitch this, in a totally non-bad-guy way, is: that’s actually not a sensible situation for the friend to come and stay in, for the purpose they need to come for. Presumably their grad school project would not be greatly enhanced by being done on no sleep, for example. You just can’t offer this person a place to stay at the moment, even if you actually wanted to (though it’s 100% reasonable not to want to). You don’t, at that time, realistically have a place they can stay in. You have a place that could at any moment be full of baby. That’s just not workable at all.

      Best wishes to you and your growing family, by the way!

    10. Jean (just Jean)*

      Your reluctance to host right now sounds reasonable to me.
      Can you jump-start the process of finding this potential guest (PG) another space to stay? Ask around in your social circle or post on your neighborhood, bowling group, congregational, etc. listserv? (Insert other social media here as appropriate. I’m kinda old school in this department.) Surely somebody else has a larger home with a spare room and no baby about to appear?

      Evil impulse: If PG is squeamish, you might want to mention the body-fluids aspects of childbirth and infants. Seriously, your spouse should deliver the news–without holding out any vague hopes that PG can come crash with you in a few months or indeed ever. You don’t need to be painted as the Bad Guy. Random Houseguests are Just Not Possible in your current stage of life. Anyone with any sense would realize that new parents or almost-parents don’t need to be Innkeepers unless there’s an emergency (forest fires, millennial flood, civic upheaval but NOT a random grad school project).

      PG sounds like a somewhat informal planner. Hopefully they’ll go with the flow and float their visit to another place.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        It’s not her job to find PG another place to stay. PG is a grown-up who can jolly well find their own accommodation.

    11. Perpetua*

      Nope, not too harsh. My opinion is that a two-week stay is no small thing under any circumstances, and both partners should agree on it (and yeah, I completely agree – no matter how much you like someone or how little of a burden they think they are, it’s still a changed routine, at the very least).

      You being pregnant and almost near delivery makes this answer much easier – definitely NOPE, NOT TOO HARSH. You have the right to your comfort and peace, and usually, the types of people who want to be guests in such circumstances and even insist that they won’t be a burden are usually people with little respect for boundaries, which makes them indeed a burden.

      You’re not being a bad guy for being perfectly reasonable, and if someone tries to label you as such, they can take the title themselves. :)

    12. MeganTea*

      All the nope. This is on your spouse. Your spouse needs to go back to friend and say no (without throwing you under the bus!), and it’s spouse’s job to help friend find another place to stay (not yours).

    13. Call me St. Vincent*

      You’re 100% in the right. When you’re 37-38 weeks pregnant, you make the rules. Your spouse needs to go back and say that he wasn’t thinking and it’s not a good time but you’ll catch them next time!

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Oh wow. So I wonder how his project will go with 1 screaming baby and 2 frazzled adults in a small apartment and 24 hour days of no sleep.

      This is a really bad plan. No, it’s not just you, it’s actually a bad plan.

      1. Artemesia*

        Who cares about his project? She needs privacy at this time. Sharing space with a casual acquaintance; sharing the one bathroom in the place with him; having an intruder on your privacy. Just no. And no one he whines too will think he is right.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I missed my “/snark” label.
          Some people only understand if it is said in terms of how it impacts them. They don’t understand or care how what they are doing impacts us.

    15. Adeline*

      By 37-38 weeks many pregnant women want to sleep alone (especially if sciatica is bad, or insomnia, or whatever) so your husband could well be taking up whatever spare accommodation you have anyway. It’s completely reasonable to ban any non-emergency house guests during that period even if you don’t end up delivering until 40+14!

    16. Sybil Fawlty*

      Absolutely not! It sounds like this is your first baby so you will have many new things to learn. Now is not the time to host company. I just can’t believe that someone would actually ask to stay with you at this time.

      Put your foot down and don’t feel the least bit of guilt. Babies never stick to a schedule and once their arrival is imminent, it’s too late to do anything else.

      Best of luck to you!

    17. AnonforThis*

      Thanks everyone. My husband handled telling her she couldn’t stay (she’s actually his best friend’s wife). I get the feeling she’s frustrated, but it just isn’t a good time. For context, we let her live in our spare room for about a month a couple years ago when she had to be in town for a temp job, so we have been accommodating in the past.

      I do also feel like this may be some of my last chance for privacy for quite some time and so I just wasn’t cool with it.

      1. Marthooh*

        Yay good! And as for the context, it’s much better in the long run to let this friend know that staying at your place is a big favor to ask for, not something she can count on.

      2. Overeducated*

        Good! Glad he took care of it. Sorry she’s frustrated but sometimes timing doesn’t work out, it’s nobody’s fault, just a thing that happens.

      3. Arts Akimbo*

        Yes for the need for privacy! When we brought my kiddo home from the hospital, he slept so irregularly and nursed round the clock that I didn’t even have the energy to get dressed most days! I would have felt downright violated if anyone else besides my husband, mother, or MIL had been in my space during that time.

        It is an absolutely unreasonable ask, and absolutely reasonable to refuse your friend’s request.

    18. Future Homesteader*

      A lot of people have already said this, but I delivered at 37 weeks earlier this year, following a spectacular episode where my water broke in the middle of the night in bed. Even if you end up going to 42 weeks, the very end of your pregnancy is not when you want people in your house. You’re not being unreasonable at all!

    19. Jane*

      OH hell no.

      I would side-eye anyone who wasn’t completely apologetic/embarrassed for asking to stay once they realized that you would be 9 months pregnant. That is completely ridiculous. I can’t think of a worse time to ask to be a houseguest!!

      You are not being too harsh at all. If this person doesn’t understand why you don’t want a houseguest when you are about to give birth, they have no social skills at all!

    20. Lilysparrow*

      Nope, you are not too harsh. Your husband needs a reality check. And I am assuming the only reason the friend asked is because he is completely ignorant.

      This is a totally unreasonable request, and you should have zero – count em, zero – qualms about putting the kibosh on it.

    21. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I hate that guilt trippy pressure to basically give someone a free hotel room. In general, I have a weirdly specific pet peeve regarding people who travel under the assumption that they’ll never have to spend much money.

      Just to smooth things over, I’d tell the non-guest that it’s not going to be good for his project if he’s staying up all night due to sharing a small space with a newborn.

    22. Artemesia*

      It is very important to call a halt to this and get it very clear with your husband that you are entering a more challenging time of life and that he needs to have your back on this and that going forward no casual promises that commit both of you are ever made. When something comes up EACH of you confirms with the other before committing — always, even when you are pretty sure it is okay.

      Especially at this point in your life, you don’t need the stress of a house guest. THIS should be a firm ‘no way, sorry I didn’t think this through. We just cannot have house guests right now.’ End of discussion. And he needs to do it and not throw you under the bus. It is, ‘I just didn’t think — and I just realized we are just too close to our due date to do this.’

    23. Maya Elena*

      You are not unreasonable at all, but so you know that you’ll automatically be the “bad guy” or that it will be a big deal to articulate this to your husband and then the friend directly? I bet the visitor, if he is at all a secent person, would be apologetic and qouls not willingly intrude if he knew when his stay occurred.

      Often what seems like a huge deal in one’s head is actually not an issue at all for all other stakeholders…. And that’s doubly true when the pregnancy hormones are raging!

      Good luck, and don’t succumb to unneceasary suffering to avoid minor confrontation!

    24. Amelia Pond*

      You’re not being too harsh, at all. It would have caused stress no matter what but now that he’s being pushy and rude about it you’ll be even MORE stressed. Stress and pregnancy is very obviously bad. You’re not the bad guy here. Your husband should step up and handle this. Also, the fact this guy is being pushy makes him a bad friend.

    25. ..Kat..*

      Glad your husband went back and said “no.” Going forward, can you get him to agree not to give a tentative yes on questions like this?

    26. Traveling Teacher*

      You are the good guy–just say no! You will need tons of sleep and/or you will be full-blown nesting and prepping all the things for the baby.

      Also, your husband needs a bit of a reality check about your and baby’s needs. Mine did too. He might be in denial about how life is going to change for a couple years re: spontaneous plans. Also, mine totally did not realize that babies can be born anywhere from 36-42wks and still be considered “full-term”!

  25. Bibliovore*

    Seeking travel recommendations.
    I will be in Gainesville Florida this week and next.
    Does anyone have recommendations for restaurants. If there is a bad restaurant within a ten mile radius, that is the one that I will end up in.

    1. Jen*

      So this is kind of a casual place, but when I lived in Florida as a teen, I loved Tijuana Flats, which is a Florida tex-mex chain. I only visited Gainsville for college visits and debate tournaments, but we used to eat there when visiting.

      1. EJBumblebee*

        Yes to Tijuana Flats. I went to school in Tallahassee so I didn’t spend much time in Gainesville ever, but Tijuana Flats has amazing food. Their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Flautas give me life.

    2. Kittymommy*

      I always liked Emilianos and Embers is a nice place to grab a good drink and nice meal. Satchel’s is a must.

  26. ScotKat*

    Hope anyone having a holiday is enjoying it!

    I want to take a class in January. I took a creative writing one last (this) year and it was good for me to get away from the W-word and meet other people to use my brain differently. Can’t decide what to do this time, though. I’m considering a hip-hop dance class, which would be hilarious given that I am very much not a dancer, but maybe something physical (but fun, unlike my current running) would be good. OR do another ‘thinking’ class, like a language or something. I am having trouble deciding!

    Anyone taking a new class or thinking about it? Tell me about it :)

    1. Bluewall*

      I love taking classes! Over the years I’ve done an intro to accounting class and a basic electricity class at the community college, a homesteading-type course at through the extension office, some one-off crafting classes and the like at craft stores, an herbalism class at a farm, and some Jewish text courses through a local center.

      I’m signed up for an edible gardening course starting in late Jan through the community college, and I’m super excited! Also have signed up for some talks at the state botanical gardens.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve been eyeing culinary arts classes at the local community college… I’m a decent cook, but my pie crusts are abysmal.

    3. SparklingStars*

      I’m taking an 8-week long pottery class that starts in January. I took another pottery class last summer, so I’m hoping that I’ll have improved somewhat and maybe this time I’ll make something that doesn’t look like it was made by a small child :)

    4. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      I would choose an art class: photography, painting, drawing etc. Being creative is what would draw me.

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I have been taking tap dancing, which is really fun but is also really hard! I am being reminded that it’s been a long, long time since I have done something I didn’t already know how to do. Now I am more sympathetic to my husband, who has taken salsa and ballroom dance classes with me only to freeze in the middle of the class and say, “It’s too fast!”

    6. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      There are places that do open dance “classes” that are just rooms full of adults jumping around and having fun with music playing.

    7. Adeline*

      The best class I ever took was a massage class. Very friendly, very self-care, a couple of hours a week destressing with like-minded people. And a skill for life!

    8. Ivy*

      I took an adult ballet class this fall, which was a real step outside of my comfort zone since I’m pretty uncoordinated and have never taken any dance classes. It was a good physical and mental challenge (learning to move in a new way, keeping good form, remembering steps, trying to look graceful etc.) and humbling- in the best way- to do something that I wasn’t ‘good’ at. I’m going to sign up for next semester.

  27. Persephone Mulberry*

    I posted last week about saying goodbye to our senior cat and thinking about looking around for a new cat. Instead, I took a 45-degree turn and was approved to be a cat foster! I just need to make my house presentable for the pre-placement home visit. (I fully expect to foster fail eventually but I’m hoping to make it 6 months or so first.)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I haven’t fostered myself, but the cat rescue I volunteer with is made up entirely of foster homes. They all say it’s really difficult to let them be adopted out, but it’s so rewarding to know they were a part of that kitty’s life and are happy they were able to help prepare them for their forever home. Good luck!

    2. Twinkle*

      Yay, good on you! We fostered 6 cats this year, most for 4-6 weeks each, and each one of them brought us joy. We came very close to being foster fails with one in particular (such a snuggle bunny!) but managed (just!) to resist (regular work travel means it would be tough to have a kitty full time right now, so it was the right decision for us). Good luck and bring on all the cute puddy tats!

  28. Sled dog mama*

    Thanks everyone who has commented on my previous posts about my issues with my sister in law. The thoughtful comments here have really inspired me to reflect deeply on my relationship with her and all members of my husband’s family.
    My mother and father in law visited this week which in turn inspired more reflection on my relationship with her. After all this reflection I have realized that my sister in law isn’t where my issue lies it’s my mother in law, but I project it onto my sister in law because hubby tries to believe his mom is totally benevolent.
    MIL also helped me realize this with her behavior. She got me kitchen towels and cupcake wrappers, I made her a pillow with kiddo’s hand prints stitched on it. Yesterday hubby called me at work (very odd), to tell me that his mother said she “went out of her way to make his wife and child feel special for Christmas and he could have at least gotten her a card”. We’re both really baffled by this.
    At any rate I have resolved to do my best not to project my MIL issues onto my SIL.
    Hubby has said that he was up quite a bit of the night trying to decide how to or even if to respond. Any tips on how to cope with or address this with MIL, or change our perspective would be much appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      Not So New Reader here once delightfully characterized somebody’s employee or relative as “inconsolable.” I suspect your MIL may be inconsolable, and that efforts will be better focused on moving past her laments briskly rather than solving them.

      So from outside the dynamic, I feel like the response to that is “Mom, Sled handworked a beautiful pillow for you. We’d hoped it would please you, and we’re sorry to hear it didn’t. Work’s going well, and we’re looking forward to our weekend of poledancing and necromancy; hope you and Dad are well.”

        1. valentine*

          I made her a pillow with kiddo’s hand prints stitched on it.
          This is adorable and new to me. So…she didn’t appreciate this glory? This is the same women who introduced an allergen to your daughter and wanted her to sleep in MIL’s room at your house? (There was also some issue she manufactured where she was maybe pitting the cousins against each other.) Wow. I understand if you want to take the high road, so when MIL whines to your daughter about how evil y’all are, you can show her the photos of the thoughtful, unique gifts.

          If it’s any consolation, husband can’t lose because estrangement would hurt MIL most, as she needs y’all as her audience. This reminds me of the Captain Awkward letter about Alice. Maybe there are scripts there for you. I would boil it down to “You must feel terrible!” or “Bless your heart” and a subject change. Also tackle this with the middle man, because hubs should not be sharing her manipulation, especially not via calling you at work, though I understand if she trained him to experience her feelings as Klaxon emergencies. You will find MIL in Susan Forward’s Emotional Blackmail. (Downsides: no racial analysis; gender-binary focus.)

          1. Sled dog mama*

            I wish I could take credit for the pillow idea but it’s something my mother did for my grandmother (her MIL) when I was a child.
            I made one for my mom too (only got my kiddo’s done for Christmas, I’m making the ones with her other grands but don’t have them done yet)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on, fposte.

        Sled, it’s really a great tool to be able to recognize when people are not going to allow us to please them. Ever. I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled this out and used it for a given situation. It’s good to remember that this is a person who does not find much happiness anywhere. You and your hubby are not responsible for her happiness, no more so than she is responsible for your happiness. If you had gotten her a card you would have fallen down somewhere else, it’s a moving target and you will never hit it.

        I had cranky inlaws myself. Where I landed was, “Did I remember them in some manner? Did I try to show them I was thinking of them?” If the answers were yes and yes, I just moved on.
        I can run very practical from time to time. So I have no problem thinking, “This is what you get. Make it work for you.” But I talk to myself this way often. This is what I have and I have to make it work for me.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            >…always room for one more…
            Does it constitute bribery to placate the fire marshal by emphasizing how many folks are not present because they could not stop laughing long enough to travel safely?

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m so glad you’ve had time to reflect and figure out what was the real issue here!

      Argh. Your MIL sounds like a treat. I’m sure your SIL has issues of her own with her mother, she probably won’t speak to you about because she’s not necessarily close with you! Please stay kind to her because her MIL makes your husband’s life difficult…she’s doing the same to be ridiculous with SIL and her spouse!

      My mom had to stand up for herself and put her foot down with my grandmother years ago. Stay civil but stay chilly if necessary. In the end, this is up to your husband to handle and isn’t your problem, she’s his mother. Push off anything she does that’s off putting to him to handle. Be his support system but he has to be his own mouthpiece and has to keep his spine.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Thank you. Yes I believe she probably does do the same to SIL and I’m making my new year’s resolution to do my best to heal things between me and SIL and hopefully learn to let things from MIL roll off.
        I have a counseling appointment in a few weeks. I’m excited to get some professional help in learning to cope with this.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’m glad that you’re getting counseling! It took me just three sessions for me to get a grasp on some of my issues with my extended family that I have been stewing over since a child. It’s different for everyone and please, if you don’t like your therapist, find a new one, don’t let one person dictate how you feel about the whole profession!

          I’m not trying to put any bad energy out there that your therapist won’t be awesome but I’ve seen people struggle with finding the right doctor to ‘click’ with. I would have stayed with my therapy if I hadn’t really not liked the therapist much myself but I had already gotten my main answers, so I just unhooked myself, also I was starting a new year and the deductible was going to re-start, so I was like ‘naaaaaah, byeeeee.”

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We went through this with my elderly mother. I loved her dearly but she expected a gift or card from every member of the family separately –even her grandchildren. To the point of being making a 14yo cry because she brought a gift for the gift-stealing grab-bag game not for gramma. And the grab-bag had been implemented SPECIFICALLY so the teenaged grandchildren didn’t have to buy gifts for everyone. This still burns me up, 20 years after the tantrum and 2 years after mom’s death.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sorry that that turned less than helpful for you….but it was cathartic for me and I feel a little lighter for venting it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There is an overarching thing here. A rule of thumb says when you see bickering among the rank and file, that is because of the leadership at the top. The leadership is causing the bickering.

      I see the same in families. Parents who don’t act supportive of adult children or worse, report failings to anyone who holds still for five minutes, often end up with bickering kids. So yes, it would be normal to have a cranky inlaw and then adult children in the family end up disliking each other. It’s not the kids who are the real problem. It’s the cranky inlaw.

      So OP, you are got a real handle on this one. Good for you for seeing through the bs.

    5. Artemesia*

      Someone like this MIL needs a lot less ‘response’ to her nonsense. The obvious response from her son should be radio silence. She needs to learn that bitching and whining gets her less attention not more. If she pushes it is ‘Mom I found your comments ridiculous; we went out of our way to create something we thought you would love. I am hurt that you felt you should complain about it.’ Aggressively ‘fail to understand’ that she wants him to do some sort of double back flip for her — she got a lovely gift? We don’t understand why she is complaining about it.

      But start with ignoring it. And the more obnox, the less attention.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      I have people in my life like this (not my MIL, fortunately). The easiest way I’ve found to deal kindly with them is to pretend they are petulant toddlers. You express empathy for their feelings without internalizing them or altering your own intentions: “No, honey, I’m sorry. We don’t eat out of the dog dish. I know you are sad about that. But look, you can have these nice Cheerios instead!”

      The other way is to go full oh-honey-bless-your-heart. In this instance, it would be something like:

      “Oh, Mom, I’m so sorry you didn’t like your present! We thought you’d rather have something personal and unique than something from a store. Now we know better, so we’ll just buy your gifts and make the personal keepsakes for baby’s OTHER grandmother, since you don’t like them.”

  29. The Other Dawn*

    Chronic pain sufferers: have you normalized your pain so much that you sometimes wonder if maybe you’re not in as much pain as you think you are?

    Let me clarify. And this may be all over the place, so I apologize ahead of time.

    I’ve posted a lot about my chronic back pain. I’ve had muscle spasms for many years, minor scoliosis and was just last year diagnosed with two bulging discs and an annular tear. Over the last year I’ve tried physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, CBD oil, and cortisone injections. Now I’ll be getting a radio frequency nerve ablation since the medial branch nerve blocks made me realize I have pain not only in the sciatic nerve because of the bulging discs, but also pain coming from the facet joints. The ablation is just pain management and will get me through until I feel it’s time to do a spinal fusion.

    Sitting is the biggest problem for me. I can work out five days a week, walk, do my daily things, and whatever else for the most part. But sitting at a desk job all day is a killer on my back. Static standing isn’t great either. And sleeping can be a problem if I don’t take either a half a Tylenol PM or half a Percocet before bedtime. If I don’t take something, I typically wake up and start tossing and turning from about 2 am., on. And when I wake up in the morning, I generally need to get out of bed within about 10 minutes or the pain starts to set in.

    I’m at the point, have been for awhile actually, where I wonder, am I really in real pain? I guess I’ve started to wonder if maybe it’s normal that I can’t usually sit for more than 10-15 minutes before I become antsy and feel like I need to get up and walk. Or maybe I’m in pain because my chair isn’t good, or maybe my bed isn’t right, or any number of other things. And lots of times my pain is more like a low level dull ache that is just always there, an annoyance that I sometimes just don’t notice anymore because it’s been like this for so long. (Although it makes it hard to concentrate at work a lot.) It’s not like I’m in bed, writhing in pain everyday like some people, so maybe this is just something I should live with and not pursue anything else?

    But then my logic kicks in and I realize that having this ablation will hopefully eliminate that always-present dull ache in the background, and minimize (or maybe eliminate) the pain I feel on a typical “bad” day., so I should do it anyway, even though my typical pain level is around a 3-4. I do cycle on and off for weeks where my pain level while at my desk hits a 5 or 6 and it’s really difficult to concentrate on anything. I got about a 75% reduction in pain from the branch nerve blocks, so logic tells me I should feel a big difference having the ablation.

    I don’t know. I guess I feel like I’m just being a big baby sometimes, that my pain isn’t a big deal because I’m not confined to bed, in constant pain.

    1. dawbs*

      Pain is always a big deal and chronic pain messes with your head and your normal. It’s never bad toi want to eliminate that!
      (And im sorry. It sucks )

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Forgot to add that the fact that the pain cycles doesn’t help. When I’m feeling little to no pain I start thinking, OK maybe I don’t need this ablation and it would be overkill to do it. But then I cycle back into a more painful time period of days or weeks, and that brings me back to logical thinking, that I should do the ablation because I WILL get some relief and i can’t keep cycling like this for another year or two.

      1. valentine*

        The pain is the new normal. I don’t recall a time when I didn’t have chronic back pain, but of course I did. I used to move without really thinking about it. I didn’t have to strategize movement between resting places. Should you be pain-free or should the pain lessen, you’ll see the divide and how your brain kind of glossed over the path.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Actually, I did see it when I had the two medial branch blocks, which were to diagnose facet joint pain. I had absolutely no idea that the pain I feel when I’m at my desk is probably 75% from the facet joints and 25% from the pinched sciatic nerve. It was eye opening in how different I felt. I still felt the sciatic pinch when I walked, but the deep aching in the middle of my back was gone. Very briefly, but gone.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      I’m with you on wondering if I really am in as much pain as I think.
      No advice but lots of sympathy and commiserations.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, God, yes. The intersection of chronic pain and the inner voice saying “Don’t be a baby.” (JFK had both my chronic disabilities and was president, dammit!) Plus bonus boiled frog phenomenon. We’re so filled with the myth of “I was in pain and I still did the thing” as some kind of character measurement, too, when sometimes it’s just lack of choice or even wrong choice.

      So I try, not always successfully, to take the morality consideration out of pain and focus on outcomes. Not what should I do, but what will happen if I do A vs. B? Is it likely my life will be improved if I do A? Okay, that’s a reason–I don’t have to be “entitled” to it. And a wry advantage of the U.S. health care system is that if insurance has approved a procedure, it seems pretty likely to save you trouble down the line.

      I will also say that the mental effects of pain are hard to shake and can leave lasting imprints. If there’s a reasonable thing to try to diminish that impact after conservative measures have failed, I’m all for it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “I was in pain and I still did the thing”

        Yes, this is something that affects how I think about my level of pain. “I still work out five days a week, I do all my daily things, I do X, Y, Z etc. How bad could it be, really??”

        It also doesn’t help my mindset that my husband has chronic pain, too, also in his lower back; however, his is a different problem than mine. And he feels better when sitting or resting, and feels worse when he walks too much. So, it’s hard for him to understand that I’m in chronic pain, too, even though I can do all sorts of things. And he also tends to have the mindset of just pushing through the pain and this is how life is. He’s not actually unsympathetic. He just doesn’t always understand and it frustrates me sometimes, but I know it seems kind of strange for someone to be in chronic pain yet see them working out, lifting, etc. (And no knocks on my husband, please.)

        1. fposte*

          Right, just because it has the same name doesn’t mean it’s the same pain. And hey, maybe his pain *is* worse than yours sometimes, or even always, but that doesn’t mean yours doesn’t count or that you have to do what he does.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I should have said that the “no knocks on my husband” wasn’t directed at you. Just a general way to avoid someone telling me my husband is horrible etc. He just has different pain than I do and it limits him differently.

        2. Amelia Pond*

          People obviously have pain to different things but some people tolerate pain better than others, but many people don’t know that and assume everyone feels pain the same. Take redheads, for example! The same gene that causes our redhair also makes many of us more sensitive to pain, while needing higher amounts of pain medication, numbing medication and anesthesia. Weird, right? I do have an issue when people (such as Jeff Sessions) think others are just being a baby and could just push through the pain if we wanted, because those people are literally calling us liars. Nobody gets to tell me, “No, you’re wrong, you don’t feel like that, you feel like this.” I am the authority of my own body, and no one else.

    5. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I’m experiencing a tiny bit of this. Back/shoulder/arm pain for a few weeks now. The issue in my head is more how bad the pain is – I think the level is relatively low but it’s constant so it feels higher. You know how in weather reports it says X degrees and “feels like Y degrees”? I think my pain level is actually 4 but there isn’t any respite so it actually feels like a 6. I hope you find some resolution soon!

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I’ve always thought that there’s a duration component (yet another reason for the bogusness of the pain scale). A 4’s a 4 if it ends in 15 minutes, but if it’s still there 6 hours later it’s a 6.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          Yes, the time component is so important.
          I landed in the ER for my Trigeminal neuralgia a few weeks ago mainly because there are no 24 hour pharmacies within an hour drive of where I live and I was out of the narcotic I use for acute flares. I wasn’t really in that bad shape when we got to the ER pain was pretty steady at around a six but every 15-20 minutes would go up to a 9 for about 30 seconds,
          I knew there’s was no way I would make it to morning without some relief

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m on the tail end of a two-year fight with a frozen shoulder. That kind where yeah I had a torn rotator cuff but the doctor couldn’t do surgery because I didn’t have enough range of motion to do the physical therapy required afterwards.
      There are family events that I don’t remember at all, because the pain and the lack of sleep from pain simply eliminated my long-term memory.
      I didn’t even get any meds for it, my dr said anything he could give me would interfere with my day-to-day life. In retrospect, my day-to-day life was pretty interfered with anyway, and I should have insisted.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I have a love/hate relationship with the Percocet, which I tend to hoard and use sparingly. I love the pain relief and that it keeps me asleep (I only take it at night if needed), plus it helps me cut down on the Tylenol use. But I hate that it’s a narcotic, because there are addiction issues in my family, which is also why I hoard it and only take when I feel I need it. And I won’t ask the doc for more unless I have a long road trip or flight coming up and know I’ll need some relief.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It gets very hard to tease out what is actually going on. I don’t do well with scripts. I found that drugs made me restless and unfocused and even confused about my own status. Painkillers worked barely if at all. On good days I was so exhausted from the bad days I did not know I was having a good day. It felt like I lost parts of myself, I got more and more whinny with all the flippin’ scripts they gave me. I did not like me.

      I was 35. Oh crap.

      This is all to say what you are experiencing is a quality of life issue. You are not able to enjoy life because of all this over-thinking that it takes to get through your day and your week. Additionally, you (like I did to myself) are losing respect for you own opinion on matters. You are questioning yourself, calling yourself a big baby, etc.
      If someone spoke to you in this manner what would you say to them? That they were big jerks and didn’t know how to talk respectfully to others, right?

      Drop the over-thinking part and deal with facts. The way to look at the facts of your setting is to look at how much you do to accommodate your discomfort to get through your day. You are telling us that you are looking at your bed, your chair and so on to see if you can do something to get relief. Nooooo. If you have to look at this many things to try to figure out how to reduce your pain then you are at your pain tolerance level. It’s time to change what you are doing.

      On top of other stuff I was having problems with vertigo and panic. My solution was to park my car in a particular spot so I could get into work without having a problem. If my spot was not available when I got to work, this was a Huge Problem. I talked myself down, I said, “No, this is not normal to cry over a parking spot. I need to do something to help myself with this vertigo and panic. It’s time to do something majorly different.” I had been beating myself up with admonishments, I was weak, I was a baby. Oddly, this did NOT help me feel better. What’s up with that?

      If you need a specific chair or a certain type bed, etc, to keep going through your day then it might be time. If you are putting yourself and your opinion on matters down in order to force yourself through the day, then it might be time.

      I don’t like that pain scale thing. I never know what to rate pain. I will say a 2 and the doc will say, “nooo, it’s higher than that….” I dunno. I remember when I was about 3 years old. I did not have a lot of pain at all. I do remember kind of floating… But I was tired. So very tired. My mother got the doc to make a house call. (Yes, this was a long time ago.) He simply said, “Call a coroner, don’t bother me.” So I think that pain is a superficial measure of health really. As you show here pain levels go up and down and our lives yo-yo accordingly. I think it’s better to look at how much it takes to make it through your day and your week.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I once found a pain scale online that had descriptions next to the numbers. Can’t find it now, of course. But the descriptions were pretty useful. I think a 3-4 was something like “distracting, but doesn’t typically stop me from doing things I like to do.” That was really helpful for me to be able to describe to the ortho where my pain is at most of the time.

        1. HannahS*

          Was it the Mankowski Pain Scale? That’s my favourite* of the pain scales I’ve encountered because it contains a number, how you feel, and what drugs help at each stage.

          *you know you have chronic pain when…

            1. Buzzbattlecat*

              Does anyone remember the glorious site Hyperbole and a Half? Her pain scale is worth looking up!

    8. Junior Dev*

      You’re not being a baby and it’s ok to want to feel better.

      I’ve had on and off back issues throughout my 20s and one thing that happens when I start to normalize pain is my personality can change. I get impatient and sometimes mean. It’s something where I won’t be consciously thinking “that hurts” but I’ll snap at people and be mad about everything.

      I think if you can get some relief it’ll free up mental energy you didn’t know you were using for things that actually feel good, as opposed to just trying to feel less bad.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I agree with this. Not that I have noticed it’s a thing I do, but I totally understand that if you are burying your pain through “normalizing ” It, something else will have to give.
        Part of my migraine aura is emotional fragility. It’s like I know I have no resources left.

    9. Fish Microwaver*

      I’m sorry you are going through this and I totally understand what you are saying. Chronic pain messes with your head.
      I have chronic pain from prolapse discs in my neck, which results in muscle spasms and chronic migraine. My doctor has put me on medication which has reduced the frequency and severity of the migraines but I still get at least 2 a week. The pain from my neck is chronic, usually constant and low grade, worsening with repetitive movement such as computer work or scrubbing etc. In many ways the low grade constant pain is worse than the more severe pain because it is so draining. I would give a lot to have a pain free day.
      Some pain management treatments involve cognitive behaviour therapy but when I tried this I found it invalidated my pain and then I felt resentful, because I did not receive any validation from my employer and insurance company.
      I am currently waiting for an appointment with a neurologist to see what other options are available.
      I wish you the best.

    10. Bibliovore*

      Chronic pain here.
      First of all for me- the pain scale isn’t really helpful.
      I am always around a 4 or 5 with throbbing pain in my joints. Sometimes it is like they are just talking to me, distracting and annoying. And this is with meds. Other times its like a fire in my joints. Every once in awhile a specific part of me will have an injury (from just living, my ligaments tear easily) Then life sucks for a few months until that heals. Pain is over 11. Can’t catch my breath pain. Can’t sleep pain. Can’t talk. Can’t distract myself pain. Ice gel packs and hi dose prescription meds.

      I wake up every morning around an 8. Take my meds. If is a bad day the meds don’t kick in, a hot bath. If it is a good day, I do the elliptical machine.

      So I get it. I still do things every once in a while that I know will suck later like go to a movie. Went to the movies on Christmas Day. Probably won’t go to one again for about 8 months.

      You are not a baby. Pain is exhausting, depressing, and anxiety producing. Oh and did I mention nauseating.

      Sometimes I am tired. I have to figure out, is this pain?

      Then if I deal with the pain, the other symptoms are relieved.

      I have been married over 30 years. My spouse has his own chronic pain. This is not a contest.

      Things I do to take care of myself.
      Sometimes nothing. Today I was up and around from 6 to 11 and then went back to bed until two.

      At work and at home, I work from a couch with my feet up. I have a standing desk. I do use that occasionally or I write at the kitchen counter.

      I do not drive or ride in the car for long periods- anything over 40 minutes.

      I cancel plans at the last minute. Sorry but my friends know that I do what I can.

      I prefer to have people over than sit in a restaurant.

      I distract myself with work and reading.

      On bad days, I watch Netflix and Prime.

      I use assistive devices when I need to–a crutch, a cane, a scooter.

      And as I mentioned sometimes I just give up and take to my bed like a Victorian heiress.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Movies…UGH. I typically avoid the movies these days since I can’t really move around much. Although the theaters near me now have those recliners, so it’s not quite as bad as it used to be. But I still try to avoid them. And driving, yes, I try to avoid long car rides unless I can stop frequently. I have a 20 minute commute to work and I’m generally ready to get out of the car when I arrive.

    11. HannahS*

      Yes. Totally. Sometimes reality comes crashing in when a friend makes a comment like, “…and after three days of that, my neck was absolutely killing me” and meanwhile I haven’t had a pain-free day in nearly a decade. But for the most part I just forget. Like you, I think I’m being a big wuss when all I can accomplish is school and…end of list. I get unduly hard on myself for not keeping my place clean, when the real reason isn’t that I’m lazy and unmotivated; I’m just exhausted and in a lot of pain. But I don’t look different from other people. So I forget that they don’t feel like me.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, it amazes me when a friend of mine will sit for hours and I’ll ask if her back is hurting and she says, “Eh, I’m a little stiff.” Wuh??? If I sit for hours I’m in real pain and it generally carries with me throughout the day, usually at a very low level, but sometimes more noticeable. I don’t even know anymore how long someone without back issues should be able to sit before needing to get up and move, because it’s been so many years. I asked the ortho and he just said, “Well, it’s different for everybody.”

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t often sleep well because of my shoulder issues (I’m a side sleeper but even so) and I can’t remember many days in the last few years when something didn’t hurt despite whatever I did to mitigate it. I would love to lie on my side and not have to use a pillow to support my arm. I would love to be curling my hair or getting something down from the cabinet and not suddenly grimace because my arm won’t go over my head. Add to that the tennis elbow that comes from overcompensating for the shoulders, and whee!

      Physical therapy is no longer working and I probably need to have shoulder surgery, but I can’t afford even the x-rays, I have no one to take care of me afterward, and I doubt I can find a job that would be okay with making accommodations/me being out for a while.

      I personally know people who are worse off than I am. Their pain is worse; the conditions it’s from are worse. I’m grateful I don’t need narcotics to manage mine. But chronic, unremitting pain doesn’t have to be excruciating to impact your quality of life. Your pain is real and it’s okay to do something about it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “Their pain is worse; the conditions it’s from are worse.”

        Yes, this is what sticks in my mind a lot on my good days. Even on days where I’m feeling the dull ache, I’m still thinking other people have it way worse so I need to just suck it up and deal.

        I’m a side sleeper, too, and about a year ago, when this pain really changed into something I needed to address, I did the best thing ever: I bought a small knee pillow. It’s an hourglass shape and it goes between my knees so they’re not touching. It doesn’t alleviate all the pain, but it certainly helps. I take it with me anytime I go somewhere overnight.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          By worse, I mean more severe than mine—if you go by the pain scale here (https://pics.me.me/improved-pain-scale-it-might-be-an-itch-i-just-3079728.png*), I’m usually at “bees” while they’re at “mauled by a bear.” But that doesn’t make any difference–a pain that never goes away can be just as debilitating. It just wears you down and steals all your spoons.

          The knee pillow sounds awesome. I use my other bed pillow to prop up my right arm when I’m on my left side (I’d use my bedmate, if I had one, since obviously he’d have the pillow). I love it when I can sleep all night without waking up once.

          *I took this pain scale to the hospital with me when I had the cat bite infection and everybody thought it was hilarious. :)

          1. Someone Else*

            FYI for anyone who has trouble with the link above, the asterisk for the footnote got included in the hyperlink, probably accidentally. The URL should be without it, to get the image to load.

    13. Everdene*

      Ah pain scales; where are you on a scale of 1 – 10 where 10 is the worst pain you can imagine. Well for me 8-10 is bad enough for IV painkillers/hospitalisation/vomiting from the pain. 6-7 I’m taking all my prescriptions, limiting behaviours, mood is affected. 4-5 I’m managing things, if sore, I can keep going for a bit longer, this is where my pain normally sits. I can exercise at 4-5 and know if will help long run even if it hurts short term. 3, a day spent doing nothing with only baseline medications, a constant discomfort perhaps. 1-2, I can’t remember.

      But I bet everyone else has different interpretations and so the whole thing is useless.

      Really sorry you are going through this. Remember it’s worth doing a review with an anethatist every now and again as treatments change and develop, as does your reaction to them.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yeah, it’s really tough when the ortho asks my pain on scale of 1-10. Not only because everyone’s interpretation is different, as you say, but because I’m typically there at 8am or before and my pain hasn’t had a chance to really start since I’m going before work and I haven’t been sitting at my desk yet, so of course the number is very low. I mentioned somewhere here that I found a pain scale that has descriptions of the pain at certain numbers, and I’ve found that really helpful. It’s much easier to pinpoint a number when the description says “(3) pain is annoying enough to be distracting,” which is where I am most of the time at work. On the other hand, I sometimes look at that and think, “A 3? That’s it? Yeah, that’s not real pain.” But feeling like that everyday *at work* is a problem since I need to be able to concentrate. So, ablation it is. Hopefully in the next couple weeks.

    14. Keener*

      When I had a torn ACL in my knee I didn’t realize how much of of a dull ache I was living with and how much that took out of me until I’d had reconstruction surgery. Chronic pain (even if “just” a dull ache) can definitely affect your quality of life! If there is an opportunity to address it you should definitely give the treatment some serious thought.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve already decided to get the ablation done. It’s basically 15 minutes of my life and should provide me with pain relief, at least from the facet joints, for up to a year. Eventually I’ll need fusion since the bulging disc hasn’t popped back to where it should be and it’s lost a lot of volume at this point, but this should keep me going until I feel the time is right to do that. I’m just waiting on the new insurance to kick in Tuesday so they can get the authorization.

    15. Lilysparrow*

      My pain is chronically recurring, not continuous, and it varies a lot. It absolutely plays tricks on your mind.

      When I’ve had a run of bad days or weeks, I ping-pong between wanting to cry because I will never be able to function independently again, and telling myself it’s not that bad and I’m just weak and lazy.

      When I have a run of good days, I delude myself that the pain was just an unusual circumstance that was my fault because I did something wrong. And now I will never do anything “wrong” again, so I will feel good forever and I can do anything, always!

      Each state feels like it has always been “normal” and will go on forever. But the reality is that the cycle is my normal. But I can only remember that when I’m at medium pain (like now), neither very good nor very bad. So when I remember that, I try to hold my plans loosely, prepare for bad days, and take advantage of good ones.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I do the same thing. On the good days, I think maybe I’ve been on point with getting up and moving often enough and as long as I keep that up, then I’m normal and it would be overkill to get any more pain management procedures. On bad days/weeks, I think maybe I just didn’t get up from my desk often enough, or I sat too long watching TV. But if I really think about it, there were days at work where I’d use my standing desk and be adjusting to sit/stand all day long, make multiple trips to the printer, walk around the floor, etc. and I still felt as though I had sat for hours and hours after just 15 minutes.

    16. Amelia Pond*

      I speak as someone that is now confined to bed because of pain (I won’t fo into the why on this post because this isn’t about me)- your pain matters too. Who hurts worst isn’t a contest, where the one in “less” pain doesn’t deserve to get their pain treated. You are not being a baby. You and I and other pain patients aren’t competing against each other, we’re on the same team! And teammates support each other. We’re all in this together. ❤

      I don’t know if that helped any, but I sure hope it did. Even if it’s just a little.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, it did. Thank you! I look at other people, such as yourself and others on this thread, and it’s hard to not compare my pain and think, “Jeez, maybe I’m just being a wimp.” But on the other hand, I really don’t remember a time when I didn’t have back pain. So, it’s become normal for me. Something I just work around.

    17. Slartibartfast*

      Yep. Sometimes I skip the pills to see if I really still need them. I do. Laying in bed is the worst. When I’m in a bad phase, I usually end up sleeping in the recliner instead of bed because it’s easier to keep weight off my pressure points. I have a sleep nuybed, a wedge pillow, a pillow for between my knees and an assortment of head and neck pillows, but still sometimes no position is comfortable. My current work is pretty good as far as the pain is concerned, I have a laptop and a counter height work station with a bar stool height chair, which has excellent adjustable arm rests. And I have to get up and move as part of the job, which is why the laptop. Maybe a standing height desk with a tall chair so you could alternate standing and sitting would help?

      Anyway, it does suck and you aren’t crazy and we just can’t lie around till we’re better, because that isn’t going to happen. All any of us can do is find ways to work around it. Have the ablation, don’t feel guilty about needing it (ha! Easy to say hard to do). Best wishes.

    18. anonagain*

      “It’s not like I’m in bed, writhing in pain everyday like some people, so maybe this is just something I should live with and not pursue anything else?”

      I’ll start by saying that I have no idea whether or not you should pursue any additional treatment. That’s obviously a very personal decision that you have to make with the advice of your doctors. I do have a few thoughts about this though.

      Treatment decisions are personal and we all weigh things differently when making these choices. That’s fine. But is it really relevant for your treatment decisions that other people have it worse? How and why does that change the calculus for you? Should it change anything for you? If you had bacterial pneumonia, would you take antibiotics? Would you still take them even though some people have treatment resistant TB?

      That sounds like an argument in favor of continuing to search for treatments. I don’t mean for it to be. Again, I don’t know enough to say that. What I would encourage you to do is to consider your own situation and the treatment options available. Are those treatments acceptable to you in terms of cost, risk, or whatever matters to you? Is your doctor in agreement and do you feel that they understand your situation well enough to make that assessment? Do you have the time and energy to devote to treatment?

      It’s totally okay to decide that given your current circumstances and the treatment options available to you, you don’t want to try anything new. It’s also okay to take a break for a month or two and revisit. If you are set on doing the ablation, you can totally decide to schedule that for a date that will be convenient for you and decide that you are not going to read a single article about pain treatment in the meantime. Chronic pain is exhausting, but so is constantly trying to solve it.

      As for learning to live with the pain, well then what have you been doing all this time? ;-)

      Seriously though, I think the energy you’ve put into learning to adapt and cope is worthwhile. I encourage everyone with chronic pain/illness to really invest in the tools and strategies that will help them be able to function and enjoy their lives as they are today instead of deferring everything to a time in the future after treatment.

      Chronic pain sucks. I hope things get easier for you.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, the pneumonia/TB analogy is a good one.

        I was going to make one like, there are people who break their legs in five places and need reconstructive surgery with pins.

        But if you had a hairline fracture and needed a boot, you should wear it. Their surgery doesn’t fix your fracture. And forgoing your boot doesn’t fix their leg.

        It seems easier when it’s something you can see or prove, and so much harder because pain is subjective.

    19. Kate*

      I don’t have a lot of insight to offer, but that question has also been on my mind for awhile now (and I had actually been thinking of posting it here; you not only beat me to it, you said it much more eloquently than I would have). I’ve had RA for so long, it’s like I have no idea what a normal baseline of pain is. I have a little voice in my head saying the exact same thing you mentioned- I’m being a big baby, that my pain isn’t a big deal. Like, isn’t everyone achy? No one just…feels good, right? Everyone has something to complain about. So what makes my achiness more, I don’t know, worthy of being treated and coddled than everyone else’s? So what if, like you said, I can’t lay in bed for more than 10 minutes before I have to get up before everything starts to hurt. So what if my boyfriend can tell when my hands are hurting because I apparently hold my toothbrush in a different way (I have no idea). It feels almost selfish to try not to be in pain, as stupid as that sounds, because what if I’m not reeeeallly in pain, this is just the way life is?

  30. Cherry*

    Any advice on reducing sagging breasts w/o surgery? I don’t have big breasts but I got annoyed with how uncomfortable the supportive bras were and just wore bralettes and non-supportive bras all year. I lost a tiny bit of weight so now the supportive bras are a little easier to wear but now they’ve sagged. Advice?

      1. LizB*

        +1, and I would personally advise going to Nordstrom or a boutique that specializes in bras/lingerie, not Victoria’s Secret. If your correct size happens to be something VS carries, you’ll probably be fine there, but if you measure as something they don’t carry, they’ll likely try to put you into a “sister size” that will be workable but won’t actually be the ideal fit.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think there’s any way to keep our flesh from loosening as we grow older, no matter where that flesh is located, or reversing that tendency short of surgery and similar interventions. I second WellRed’s suggestion that a bra fitting is going to be the best bang for the buck.

    2. Jules the First*

      Oddly, you can work out and build your pectoral muscles (ie chest muscles) and the girls will get perkier. But a good bra is still your best option (take heart – there is a comfy one out there somewhere!) – don’t be afraid to come down a band size (or three) and go up a cup size…for years, bra fitters put me in a 34D but it turns out I am much more comfortable in a 30F.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I ran some errands with a friend who does professional costumes for theater and dance, and as long as we were in a department store I figured I would pick up a new bra. She glanced at what I had in my hand and said that’s not your size. She handed me one 2 band sizes down and 2 cup sizes up and honestly it was kind of magic. The only drawback was that she is a big fan of underwires, so she talked me into one with underwires. I hate them. But I’m still buying that size just without underwires. LOL.

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        I know what you mean about building your pecs but as soon as I read your post, all I could think of was Judy Blume hahaha

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. Pushups and the like can build you a nice comfy foundation of muscle for your boobs to rest on – but it’s not magic and you’ll also need bras (exercise and properly-fitted regular ones).

    3. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      This isn’t quite what you asked, but current trends are moving away from the sculpted shape that standard bras give you. Bralettes have become a lot more common (no wires, racerback straps that don’t slide down) so a generally saggier look is actually the “look” at the moment. Victoria’s Secret recently launched a line of padded bralettes that keep everything smooth.

  31. DCR*

    I want to spend some time during my furlough doing some home cooking and ideally stocking my freezer, but I’m not much of a cook. Any recommendations for websites with easy/quick healthy recipes?

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I’m a big fan of BudgetBytes and NomNomPaleo (I’m not paleo, but the recipes are delicious and not very complicated).

      1. Anona*

        Seconding budget bytes. She has quiches and other things that are fairly straightforward and freeze well.

    2. cat socks*

      There was a post on Pinch of Yum a month or so back dedicated to freezer meals. I also like Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and Once Upon a Chef. I believe both have categories for freezer meals.

    3. Overeducated*

      Thekitchn.com ran a lot of healthy casserole posts a couple years ago based on a cookbook one of the authors wrote. I’ve never made anything disappointing from the “Genius Recipes” series on Food52.com.

    4. Jane*

      I love the website skinnytaste. The recipes are not hard, and the food is healthy but not so healthy that you don’t want to eat it. She has a lot of slow cooker/instant pot recipes, if you have one of those, but also a lot of other recipes (and for slow cooker ones, she often puts stove top instructions in as well, so don’t skip them if something looks good to you!).

      But in my opinion, the easiest thing to cook is a roast chicken. You can freeze the cooked meat, and also make a chicken soup.

  32. FlipperFlapHappyDap*

    Going anon for this for reasons. Not sock puppeting!

    I’m having a problem that I don’t know is a problem and would appreciate outside advice.

    I have a friend who I’ve been mates with for nearly three years now and she’s somehow managed to work her way into being friends with my siblings and my parents. She’s so close to my parents that she’ll stay overnight in their house and go out on trips with them.

    I’m well aware that she (and my family) can be friends with whoever they want, the thing that bothers me is how closely intertwined she is with my family. I’m a very private person and I don’t like to cross spheres (I introduce her because we were having a coffee and she asked what we should do next: I intended that to be it but I was going home and she came along and then my parents appeared and I wasn’t going to be rude). I want to pull back on the friendship because I feel like I’m being violated, which is ridiculous, but I need some distance from her for some breathing space but it’s impossible right now because if I don’t respond to a message then, a day later, mum will ask me why I haven’t messaged her back yet.

    Is this something I need to adjust to? Am I being too sensitive and precious here? Or do I have recourse to strengthen my boundaries who is lovely but is everywhere?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I, personally, would find it really strange if a friend of mine was so close to my parents that they stayed at their house overnight and took trips with them. (I assume she goes without you?) The only way I wouldn’t find that strange is if it were my best friend since childhood, because she always called my parents Mom#2 and Dad#2. But honestly even then, I might still find it a little weird. As far as friendships with siblings, I don’t really think that’s weird.

      I don’t have any advice, just an opinion.

      1. FlipperFlapHappyDap*

        She does go without me. She and my mum recently went on an evening wine tasting course together, and when she was visiting her own parents in the UK, she stayed with my parents for two nights at their home. She comes over for Christmas and is just always here.

        I know the siblings’ friendship isn’t weird, I just feel like it’s more encroachment. I talked about it with my older sister and she’s of a similar mind to me that it just feels weird.

        1. valentine*

          Encroachment is just the word. I agree with WellRed below about the stalking.

          She is near to crowding you out of your own life. Be blunt with your family about what level of friend this person is, as she’s a successful manipulator. You let her follow/accompany you home and stay there instead of using your parents as a natural out. Maybe your parents are doing the same, to a great extreme. (Any chance your parents are critical of you, you’re a scapegoat, and she’s who they expected to raise?) Not yours to solve. Get yourself free. Cut her off and be ready to cut off relatives who won’t stop mentioning her. You should absolutely have your own friends and space and freaking breathing room in your life, away from and unknown (unless you want to share) to your family of origin.

    2. WellRed*

      That’s annoying and frankly, the plot of a lot of lifetime stalker movies. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to disentangle from her if your family has basically adopted her. She sounds really unhealthy.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You need to tell your mom that you’re not going to speak to her about your “mutual” friend at this case. You need to put distance between her being able to use your mom or siblings to get to you, which is even harder, I know!

      I had an old friend for ages and she was close to my parents only because we grew up together, in that time of life, you really do get to know family due to the living arrangements.

      I was blessed, my mom knew that she was toxic and was kind only because my mother is saint-like. When I finally lost my mind and cut the person out, my mom was thrilled to do the same. She was only staying civil due to her connection with me. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case with your mom of course but it may play a lot into it! Your “friend” is playing off your emotions and family connections, she’s no good and a parasite.

    4. Augusta Sugarbean*

      How is her relationship with her own parents? Could she be trying to fill in something that’s missing in her own life? Not saying you have to be fine with this but maybe it will help if you understand her motivations.

      1. FlipperFlapHappyDap*

        This is a really good question. Her relationship with her parents is distant. They’re friendly to each other but she speaks to them maybe two or three times a year. I do feel that she’s trying to “fill the gap” so to speak. There have already been jokes that my parents will be grandparents to her children and it just sets my teeth on edge.

    5. Call me St. Vincent*

      This would totally weird me out too. You aren’t being too sensitive. I think you can and probably should talk to both the friend and your parents about boundaries.

    6. Nita*

      Oof. I lost a friendship over that kind of thing. It was an odd friendship to start with. The girl worked with my relative, which meant we saw each other a lot, but we really had nothing in common. She just decided that since we’re around each other, we’re best friends. I put up with this assumption for a few years, because it was no skin off my back, but then life took us in very different directions. And I started feeling like I have to apologize for every good thing that happens in my life. I tried to be sensitive about it, but if I wasn’t ready to tell her something, she’d find it out from my family and it would cause drama. Every. Time. I felt like I had no privacy and no control over how much she is in my life. The “friendship” was becoming more and more toxic and in the end there was no saving it.

      If my parents had any emotional intelligence, I’d have asked them not to share certain things with my friend until I was ready to tell her myself. But this is not their strong suit, so I’m just glad most of my friends don’t know my family, and vice versa.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like she does more with your parents than she does with you. You could just say that you have notice a shift and Jane seems to be more of an active friend of your folks than she is with you. (This is what you can tell your folks.)

      Probably it fills a void in her life somehow. But yeah, it’s a little strange. Just an observation I made when I was really young, it seems that people can be friends with the parents or friends with the kids but not both. Very seldom do I see someone who is good friends with the entire family like you describe here.

      I guess what I would do is just let the friendship fizzle out. And the way you explain it is to say, “Jane is always busy with my parents.”

      1. ainomiaka*

        most of my friend group is friends with parents of friends. I would absolutely say that your observation is about your particular social circle, not general. But I agree that it’s filling a void in her life.

    8. ainomiaka*

      as someone who has desperately been trying to set my mom up so that some of the social need isn’t on me, this sounds like a victory to me. That said, you are different and allowed to decide what bothers you. And absolutely allowed to decide that you are not going to discuss response time to someone else with your mom.

    9. Not A Manager*

      How close are you to your own parents? Can you be honest with them? If so, I would gently but straightforwardly tell them that this level of intimacy is making me uncomfortable, and ask them to set some boundaries.

      If you feel that they would gaslight you or punish you for that, then obviously don’t do it. But if they are generally supportive parents who want what’s best for you, they might be happy to dial it back with your friend just because you want them to.

      Otherwise, I would suggest using the same scripts you would use whenever other people are crossing the streams and you don’t want them to. “Mom, you don’t have to pass on messages from Barb, I’ll handle my relationship with her myself,” etc.

      This lady sounds a little bit scary.

    10. Lena Clare*

      I would come at it from the friend side of things and establish boundaries with your friend only.

      You say you want to pull back; do that with your friend and also explain to your parents that is what you’re doing and that you don’t want to hear from them or be involved at all in *their* relationship with your mutual ‘friend’. Hopefully that’ll be enough to have their friendship cool down a bit too.

      You’re not being weird about this, and no you don’t have to suck it up.

      Captain Awkward is good, as ever, on things like this.
      I do think though that in order to end the friendship you may have to go down the route of a boundary-setting talk with your friend rather than pulling back gradually and hoping everyone will notice. That’ll likely be hard, but it’s doable.

      Good luck. Let us know how you get on!

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, I’d focus on refusing to cross the streams when you talk to them. If your mom asks why you haven’t texted friend back, say something like “well someone’s a tattle-tale” and just sorta ignore it. Then maybe have a chat with the friend and be like “I’m glad that you get along with my parents, but I’d like it if you didn’t always go to them if you have an issue with me – it’s kinda weird.”

    11. ... cats and dogs*

      Your reaction and feelings are totally valid. She has transitioned to be a family member and no longer your friend. Family you cannot choose and it feels like you can no longer choose (or un-choose) her. If you are close to your parents, you and your sister might sit down with them. If not you can explain it when they ask why you’re not coming around as much. And I’d ignore your mum’s texts about about her even though that’s is tough!

  33. Thursday Next*

    The older I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate my father. It’s not one of those things where in hindsight I see the wisdom, of his decisions—he really wasn’t the father adolescent-me needed. But middle-aged me is grateful for his stubborn insistence on self-sufficiency. He’s also receptive when I prod him on updating paperwork.

    I’m also grateful that my brother is a reasonable adult. If it becomes necessary for us to care for our parents, I trust him implicitly. I know we’ll be able to work things out together.

    My husband is having a very difficult time dealing with his sibling regarding care of their parent. Some things happened this week that makes us worry that his sibling has been using their parent’s money as a personal resource. My husband and I plan to hire an elder care attorney ourselves on his parent’s behalf. Unfortunately, my husband’s parent’s cognitive decline has progressed quickly. It’s very sad.

    1. Loves Libraries*

      So sorry y’all are dealing with this. We too had a few issues dealing with my husband’s family. That was a long time ago and we have made up. I too have a wonderful brother who does the majority of parent care. He is now retired and moved back to our hometown and I’m not but have always been here.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Thank you. It’s good to hear you were able to make up. Honestly at this point I just want to make sure my husband’s parent is cared for, and I’m not even thinking about how it’ll shake out between him and his sibling.

  34. Nita*

    It’s my late mother-in-law’s birthday in a couple of weeks. She died this summer so it’s been a lot of “firsts” without her – Thanksgiving, Christmas, all that. We don’t really have a chance to stop and think about that, between the chaos of planning the holiday and the chaos of dealing with small kids. I think the birthday will be really hard for my husband though. How can I acknowledge the day and make it easier for him?

    1. fposte*

      Can you ask him? Some possibilities would include visiting her gravesite or a place she loved and leaving flowers, cooking a meal that was a particular favorite of hers, or taking out some older pictures and talking about what he remembers of her from childhood. But some people would prefer at most an “I know this is a hard day for you, and I’m sorry.”

    2. Not A Manager*

      Definitely talk with him about it beforehand. Remembering someone who’s passed can be bittersweet – it hurts to miss them, but that’s because you had a good relationship with them that’s worth missing.

      In our family, whoever is around and feels so moved (people have different needs at different times) meet up at the gravesite with flowers, and we say a prayer. Then we go out to a restaurant that our loved one enjoyed, and we chat and reminisce.

      When we haven’t been local to the cemetery, my family (that feels moved to do it) will light a candle and have a special snack that we used to share with our relative.

      If there’s no gravesite, or if that doesn’t feel right, going to a special, pretty location that your loved one enjoyed (outdoors in nature, or even something like a art museum or a music venue) can be a nice way to think about them and remember them.

      I’m sorry for your loss and for your family’s. I hope you continue to be consoled with loving memories.

      1. Sam I Am*

        I’ve been going through those “firsts” this year. My emotional swings have declined. I’ve gotten good at reminding my self of, and sitting with, the idea that I can be feeling different emotions at the same time and none of them are “right” they just are.
        I also have been making sure I’m not over-scheduling myself during big holidays. I’m busy but I definitely draw a line so that I have the time to sit with those emotions if I want to. It’s worked well, I feel like I’m both enjoying my time and honoring this person.
        Have a happy new year.

  35. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Been going through some interesting times with my cats. The younger cat was in the vet for respiratory infection/asthma, got meds, did some sort of fear reaction that stank up her, the carrier, me, and the vet’s office (sorry vet). She’s doing fine.

    Older cat actually went blind the week before Christmas. Which, great timing? Cause I had 4 extra people in the house, with a newly blind cat who was stumbling around trying to figure out how to cope. She kept falling off the bed, running into things, etc. Oh, and she’s deaf. You try googling for tips to handle a deaf and blind animal. You get tips for deaf, tips for blind, and they cancel each other out. We’re muddling through. Took her to the vet to investigate cause of the blindness – her retinas detached from high blood pressure. Pending some blood test results to determine what the source is, but she’s got kidney disease and a heart problem, plus previous borderline thyroid. All of which could cause the BP. Once the results come back, we’ll determine appropriate medication and get that started. Won’t fix her vision, but we can prevent other issues.

    1. cat socks*

      Oh no! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this all at once. I have a cat with kidney disease and high blood pressure. She’s on a medication called amlodipine for high blood pressure and it has helped. Another thing I learned recently with kidney disease cats is they can have low potassium, so she gets pills for that too.

      I had another kitty with hyperthyroidism and heart disease and once he got on medication, his thyroid levels came back to normal.

      Third kitty has asthma and that is pretty well maintained with an inhaler.

      I hope the blood tests help with getting the medication figured out! It took a couple of times to get the thyroid medication dosage correct for my one kitty. However those are all treatable problems with medication.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Yeah, still in the early stages of all this. And it’s a fine line to walk – I want to keep her comfortable without going overboard. She’s 19, quality of life is more important than quantity of life at this point (it just kills me though). Though she surprised me last night, she showed up on the stair landing to demand I go to bed. Until then, she’d been avoiding the stairs.

        The vet called, he got some of the results – it’s not the kidneys. They’re unchanged. Probably get the thyroid results on Monday, so we can determine appropriate meds then whether it’s thyroid or the heart directly. This is a new vet, so he’s getting to know me while also dealing with all this mess. Plus side is he’ll have a pretty good read of me fairly quickly!

        The other cat is doing fine, she has asthma and had a cold a couple weeks ago that’s causing issues. I was expecting it, so got her in to knock it all out pretty quickly once it started.

    2. Pam.*

      A friend adopted a deaf/blind cat. Their solution was to keep her in a limited area- think a spare bedroom- so she couldn’t come to harm.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Sibley’s mostly confining herself to a couple rooms upstairs, but since this is recent, she’s well aware of the rest of the house. She’s old and sleeps most of the time. It helps at least.

        Though I was doing some painting, and nearly dropped the roller while preventing her from walking into the paint tray. sigh. Cats.

        1. ..Kat..*

          I’m sorry for your troubles. I have read that you should not move the furniture around to make it easier on the pet. Also, one way they learn to navigate around people is that they feel the floor vibrations as people come near them.

    3. Raine*

      Check out Piglet, the deaf/blind pink puppy, if you’re interested in the touch communication and methods that his dad has used to train him. I know cats aren’t the same as dogs, but the concept is there and very specific for the needs of a deaf/blind fur baby.

  36. ScoutFinch*

    I have not been able to read many weekend threads lately. Has Alligator Skye been around? I have been thinking about AS and hoping things are better these days.

  37. Georgina*

    Hi! Does anyone have recommendations/insight/advice on the best website/service to use to get pantry stuff (canned goods, etc.) restocked in a rural area? Just discovered that Target Restock is only for a couple major markets. Amazon Prime Pantry has a subscription fee AND a charge for each order AND shipping if the order is under a certain amount. Walmart seems like my best bet everything seems to only come in multiples and I’m not a huge fan of Walmart. I’m hoping that someonecan point out an obvious solution that I’m accidentally overlooking. Thanks in advance!

        1. George*

          Oh! Jet.com looks like it might be a good fit! (I’ll have to put my dislike of Walmart aside, but I’m already a hypocrite as we use Amazon all the time.). This is primarily for my parents. The goal is for me to be able to order as much as possible to be delivered in order to make their lives easier. There is just the two of them so costco probably won’t work and the regular walmart site seems to only ship stuff that come in packages of multiples.

      1. fposte*

        In lots of rural regions there isn’t a local grocery store. Amazon Prime has been a godsend to some parts of the country, subscription or no. 30-50 miles to groceries isn’t hugely uncommon in the West, even before you get to the likes of Alaska. I’d link you to the fascinating USDA Food Desert map, but apparently it’s down because of the shutdown.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s an interesting possibility. I presume you have to be a member, so there’s still the annual fee problem, but there are other services that Amazon doesn’t offer that might make the fee more worthwhile.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Thrive Market ships pantry stuff but they charge an annual fee, it’s difficult to cancel, and it’s focused on organic/more expensive brands. Brandless is another option – they only have their brand stuff and the selection is limited but free shipping over a certain amount and cheaper than Thrive Market.

      Making a monthly trip to a store is bound to be more economical than delivery.

      But if you have to have delivery, Thrive Market or Brandless are options.

    2. Ktelzbeth*

      When I looked up Prime Pantry myself, my understanding was that there were two price structures:
      1. Pay for regular Amazon Prime. If ordering from Prime Pantry, shipping would then be free above $35 and an additional charge below that.
      2. Pay for regular Amazon Prime and Prime Pantry membership. If ordering from Prime Pantry, shipping would be free above $10 and an additional charge below that.
      I never ended up trying it, but you might double-check if there really is a charge for each order beyond the cost of the items. I am an Amazon Prime member and I use that membership a lot for the free shipping on items I have trouble finding at local stores and for the streaming videos. It’s been cost-effective for me. (I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way, just don’t like going to the store.)

      1. George*

        From what I experienced you are correct. There is a fee for Amazon Prime (which we already have) AND an additional fee for Prime Pantry (currently on a free trial) AND a shipping and handling fee for orders under a hundred dollars.

    3. Anona*

      Target has a red card that you can get (I got the debit version) that offers 5% off your orders and free shipping for orders over $25 or something. I’ve used it to get things like tea and laundry detergent (not through a specific restock program)

    4. Rebecca*

      I live in a rural area, and we have a few grocery choices, and the main one where I live is Weis. I have to travel 30+ miles one way or the other to get to a Giant, Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, all normal stores for everyone else. Things tend to be more expensive here, and we do have a Walmart Supercenter, but I’m not a fan. I’ve started to use Brandless a bit to get things I’d have to travel long distances to find.

      As far as canned goods, though, it seems Weis runs a sale once or twice per year on canned goods, like 50 cents per can if you buy 10 cans, sometimes even less. I use those times to stock up on chick peas and beans, and if sauerkraut is included, I grab some of that.

  38. Foreign Octopus*

    Does anyone have any good, well-research historical fiction to recommend?

    It’s my godmother’s birthday soon and she loves the genre. I’ve already thought of: Poldark, Outlander, and The Luminaries but I’m struggling to think of more.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        YES! I love this series. Have you read all of them? World Without End and Column of Fire? Column of Fire’s ending looks like a segue into possibly the Salem witch trials.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          That’s my mom’s favorite book! My husband and I were just in Sevilla. We took a rooftop tour of the cathedral (which was amazing) and the whole time, I was taking photos and texting them to my mom because it was all the stuff they talk about in Pillars.

      2. Jane*

        I was going to say this. I’m on my second book of his and I am learning so much.

        It’s not the greatest writing, I’ll say that. It’s serviceable, though. But it is really engaging, and very educational from a history/political science point of view. I understand WWI and WWII so much better than I ever did before! Way more effective than history class :/.

    1. cat socks*

      Not sure if this entirely fits the bill, but I’ve been enjoying books by Fiona Davis. The ones I’ve read feature a New York City landmark and characters from the past and future that have connected storylines.

      Lila Girls from Martha Hall Kelly is based on real events and people from WWII.

      1. Piano Girl*

        Lilac Girls. Loved it! I also read Atomic Girls, which was pretty good. You might want to look at The Alice Network.

    2. Hellanon*

      If she’s big on the “well-researched” aspect, I’ve got 2 for you: C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series and Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond series. Both are excellent, really engaging & well-written, and comprehensively researched. (I didn’t enjoy Dunnett’s Niccolo series nearly as much, so you may wish to stick with Lymond to start.)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Bernard Cornwall’s series that includes the Archer’s Tale.
      The Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters.
      And if you want to go a bit lighter, Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. That last was a Newberry Honor book, so it’s intended for young readers–but so very insightful and witty that it’s memorable for adults.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One more– The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and A God in Ruins. First is about a woman who keeps getting reborn (like movie Groundhog Day but more than one day) and experiences most major events of the 20th century. Second is similar about her baby brother.

      Think they both won major literary awards.

    5. Penguin*

      Mary Robinette Kowal writes quite responsibly researched fictional books set in various historical periods; you might take a look at her work! I don’t think I’ve ever seen her books labeled as “historical fiction” but have seen some of them variously under SciFi/Fantsy, Romance, and undifferentiated ‘Fiction’. I know she’s written books set in WWII-era England, 1960s USA, and Napoleonic War-era Europe. There may be others!

    6. Not A Manager*

      If she likes the ancient world, Mary Renault is a classic. I’d start with The Last of the Wine or The Mask of Apollo for actual historical events. The King Must Die is a good retelling of the Theseus myth, with excellent research into the contemporary society.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Are ebooks & graphic novels acceptable? SPQR Blues is available for download. (Online at spqr blues dot com) Set in Pompeii in the run up to the disastrous explosion.
        Truth in advertising…I don’t do well with disasters that kill off characters I like so I took a break from reading.

    7. Jane*

      I seconded Ken Follett above, but going in a totally different direction, I’d also recommend “The Boston Girl” and “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant. They’re less complicated than Ken Follett, but better written.

      I’d also recommend the writer Sarah Waters–I’ve read “The Paying Guests” and “The Night Watch,” both about lesbians in different times in British history.

      And also “Mudbound” by Hillary Jordan. It was made into a movie recently, but the book is SOOOOO good.

      These recommendations are all very “engrossing personal story” historical fiction, rather than Ken Follett’s kind of epic “Oh, I understand history now!” kind of historical fiction. Both are good in their own way.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I’ll second the recommendation for Sansom’s “Matthew Shardlake” series; I love it. (There are excellent audiobook versions too, for those who like audio.)

      Another favorite historical-mystery series of mine is the Fools Guild series by Alan Gordon; it starts with Thirteenth Night, and features a guild of jesters who are actually deep-cover operatives manipulating local politics while juggling and making jokes. (It also ties in heavily to characters from Shakespeare, for bonus points.) Marvelous historical detail mixed with delightful banter between the main characters.

      Peters’ “Cadfael” books are also great fun, and Steven Saylor’s “Gordianus the Finder” novels too – mysteries and politics in ancient Rome.

    9. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. It’s set in the aftermath of WWII. There were a lot of historical tidbits sprinkled throughout that I hadn’t known before. Like imagine keeping a hidden radio and knowing that the war had ended, but you couldn’t tell anyone or act like you knew anything was different. Or what the actual process was for shipping the kids out of the cities.

    10. PurpleMonster*

      Anything by Edward Rutherfurd. They follow the growth of cities and historical places (there are heaps, but e.g. London, Dublin, New York, Stonehenge). They’re also absolute doorstops so she’ll need plenty of time ;-)

    11. Chaordic One*

      I rather like Anne Rice, although she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Aside from the vampire novels “The Feast of All Saints,” and “Cry to Heaven” were both interesting and I learned quite a bit from them.

    12. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I love Margaret Frazer’s Dame Frevisse murder mystery series. Set in 15th century England. An fascinating glimpse into how people lived, plus a crime solving nun.

    13. Traffic_Spiral*

      Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian is good if you want to hear about ships in the Napoleonic Wars. And if you like lighter fare the Flashman series is remarkably well-researched. Of course, the main character is a weaselly lecherous coward, but watching him weasel and letch his way through history is pretty fun.

    14. Foreign Octopus*

      These are all fantastic! Thanks so much for the recommendations.

      I’ve added a number of them to my list and bookmarked the Dame Frevisse series as one to introduce my mother to. I consider myself well-read but I knew only of a few of these so I really appreciate the help. Thanks guys!

    15. foolofgrace*

      Almost anything by James Michener. I pooh-poohed him because he was such a best=seller in the 60s but after being forced by my favorite cousin to read “Poland” I’m sold. His research is impeccable and he has a varied repertoire. I also read Centennial about the history of Colorado. I plan to read more but I got sidetracked by science fiction.

  39. Recipe ideas*

    My daughter (5) has some stomach issues. She’s not a complainer but she’s been actively complaining of stomach pain for several months. She’s had blood work and an ultrasound to rule out things like celiac, various kidney/liver issues and so far all is normal. She seems to be chronically backed up despite having 1-2 bowel movements every day, so has been on a high fiber diet with miralax for maintenance. This has stopped the acute “ow ow ow” pain but there is apparently a constant “medium ow”. We are into dietary changes.

    We did 2 weeks without dairy, no change. Now it’s on to gluten. Her pain is bad enough that she said she wanted to try no gluten even after leaning all her favorite foods have gluten.

    So, hit me up with your best gluten free kid recipes. She doesn’t like tomatoes, yogurt or plain eggs (as in, hardboiled) but is otherwise a fairly unpicky eater. I’m thinking some fun Pinterest-y shaped things might take the focus away from the absence of bagels, cereal, and cookies ;). We’re going to make Rice Krispie treats later today.

    1. Max Kitty*

      Sorry, no recipe ideas, but with the blood tests, did they also check for food allergies/sensitivities? I had terrible pain for months until a new doctor suggested testing. Now that I don’t eat four certain foods (weird stuff like green beans), I am pain-free.

        1. Recipe ideas*

          Full abdomen ultrasound to rule our masses or abnormalities in stomach/liver/spleen/bladder/liver etc.

          She had an X-ray done a few months back that was clear except for lots of backed up stool- but the kid has very regular bowel movements and always has. So the thinking is she has a slow colon…but we’re working on food sensitivities as well.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Is she drinking water? I mean just water, not juice or something with water in it. I mention this because at age 5 I very seldom drank water.

      1. Recipe ideas*

        She does, and she pees clear (or close) but she’s super active so we did up her water. She only drinks milk or water, basically never juice (but we do watered down OJ with miralax bc the pulp hides the grainy ness). It is one of the things we are trying, though.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also check if they’ve checked soy. That was a hard-to pin down problem for my colicky baby. She outgrew it but maybe some don’t.

      1. Recipe ideas*

        Ugh, she was MSPI as a baby, but it cleared at 4 months. She’s been a rabid cheese and soy consumer since then with no issues until very recently. I did the dairy trial but after talking with her ped have skipped the soy trial for now. It’s so hard to be dairy/soy free now with all the nuts and nut byproducts banned from schools.

        1. Jules the First*

          Oh I hate to say this…but I had to give up gluten, corn, soy *and* dairy to get regular and pain-free.

          I was fine until I was about 12, gave up gluten etc at 16 but held out on the dairy for more than a decade until it left me whimpering on the bathroom floor one too many times.

          For allergy friendly recipes, try Gluten Free Girl’s archive and cookbooks, or Minimalist Baker.

    4. Red Reader*

      How about gluten free cookies that are easy to make with kids, even little ones? :) one cup each of peanut butter (creamy) and white sugar, plus one egg. Mix together into a dough, mix in chocolate chips or some such if you want, form into balls and bake at 350 for about ten minutes.

    5. Ktelzbeth*

      Brand name Rice Krispies are not gluten free, at least not in the US, so read your label. They may not list gluten clearly, but use barley malt flavoring. Barley and rye are the lesser known gluten containing grains. I like the website Gluten Free on a Shoestring for recipes. If you have a library with it or want to buy a cookbook, Flavor Flours is good. Both of those suggestions are heavily baking-related. Flavor Flours will require you to buy some specialty flours, but GFOAS uses flour blends you can buy in a store. Because it’ll take a little longer to post, I’ll reply to myself with a link to my favorite brownie recipe. Most gluten-full products are now available in gluten-free versions in a natural foods store or even a good regular grocery store, though they are not always as good. You can certainly find cereal and cookies. I have GF fake Cocoa Krispies in my cupboard now, despite being an adult, because I like them.

      My other piece of advice, not knowing what all your workup has been in detail, would be to work with a pediatric gastroenterologist, if you haven’t and can get to one in your area. I’m sorry your daughter is having a hard time.

      1. Ktelzbeth*


      2. Recipe ideas*

        This is great. And yes, our next stop is a pedi GI. We wanted to see how the bloodwork and ultrasound went, then see if she self-reported pain for a few weeks (vs me asking “does your stomach hurt today?” And her always saying yes). Twice in the last few days she’s doubled over with “ow ow ow” level pain, including once when she had just sat down to eat. So it’s now interfering in a way we will f/up with the GI. Ugh.

    6. Occasional Baker*

      There’s a flourless chocolate fudge crinkle cookie recipe on the net…..egg whites, baking cocoa, vanilla, powdered sugar, chocolate chips….makes a very chocolate gooey sort of cookie that I’ve gotten a lot of raves about over the years, both from GF and non folks. Also, chocolate potato chip stacks, super easy – melt a bag of dhips, stir in crushed ridged potato chips, scoop piles onto parchment covered baking sheet and chill.
      Re: cereal, Chex are GF so you could maybe still make snack mix she can have…
      Otherwise, mashed potatoes – spin them on day two by combining with egg, cheese, bacon, seasoning and pan frying like a latke. I’ve had more success planning around gluten than with replacing in recipes, but I’ve only done this as a host, I’m not GF myself. Good luck!

    7. Not A Manager*

      My kids liked foods that you could shape.

      I don’t have the exact recipe, but there was one for mashed potato “ghosts” – which could easily be mashed potato gingerbread men or anything else. It was basically well-seasoned mashed potatoes, with some cheddar cheese grated in, and an egg to bind it. Then you roll up balls for the heads, and logs for the arms and legs, and an oval for the body, and make people-shapes. Decorate with bits of carrots, olives, parsley, etc. for eye, hair, buttons, and then bake at like 375 ish on parchment paper or foil. They puff up a little bit in the oven, and are tasty enough for adults too.

      Polenta can be spread into a flat pan (you can use quick-cooking or instant) and chilled until it sets. Then you can use cookie cutters to cut out stars and other shapes. Pan fry or bake until crispy.

    8. Ann O.*

      Are you getting medical guidance on the diet issues? Because if celiac is ruled out, I would think going FODMAP free would be more productive than going gluten free. Gluten sensitivity is relatively rare, but FODMAP sensitivity is less common.

      FWIW, I have IBS and her issues sound pretty similar. FODMAP free is the magic solution for most IBS sufferers. If you would like advice on that, I’ve just had to do the elimination portion of FODMAP.

      And actually, even if you don’t want to change from gluten to FODMAP, I still recommend looking at the Calm Belly Kitchen and A Little Bit Yummy for recipes. They do a lot of gluten free or low gluten because some people want to avoid gluten in the elimination phase for extra caution.

      1. Recipe ideas*

        Our pedi suggested that perhaps she has mild IBS- which from what I understand is a diagnosis of elimination.

        My husband may have undiagnosed IBS as well. His stomach gets “really grumbly and uncomfortable” on occasion and comes and goes for periods of time. No specific triggers but when he stops eating lots of breads and beers it helps.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          My stomach also gets “really grumbly and uncomfortable” on occasion. I have no formal diagnosis but do know it’s nothing bad, so work on managing symptoms. For me, going gluten free took care of 99.5% of the bad times, which didn’t leave enough discomfort to chase whatever the other culprit(s) is(are). That’s why I have recipe suggestions. When people ask me if I miss [whatever], I have one of two answers. Either I have a great recipe for it (but now you know my best sources) or not badly enough to put myself in pain.

    9. Earthwalker*

      Nom Nom Paleo blog is written by a fun mom who feeds her kids a paleo diet – no grain. Her recipes are wonderful.

    10. The New Wanderer*

      Sorry this is not exactly what you asked for, but you’re basically describing my daughter when she was 5 through 7 or 8. She’s had constipation issues starting as a toddler and still takes PEG (miralax or similar) every day as recommended by our pediatrician. She used to complain almost daily of stomach pains, but it could not be associated with diet or intolerances or anything else on the long list of possible causes. Well, except one: we know she doesn’t drink as much water as she needs, especially to compensate for the PEG, and I’m constantly reminding her to drink more water.

      Just as something else to consider, there is research to suggest that kids in this age group experience increased sensitivity to stomach issues and/or manifest anxiety this way. “Recurrent abdominal pain syndrome” is one name for it, and it’s kind of a general catch-all for stomach pain that isn’t attributed to a specific cause other than stress. Through process of elimination (sorry) this is what we concluded was affecting our anxiety-prone daughter. It’s real pain, not imagined, and I think part of my daughter’s issue is that she just feels her internal processes more intensely – things that other people would just describe as discomfort, she experiences as horrible pain. My cousin and one of my coworkers also went through this as little girls.

      The complaints really tailed off in the last year to year and a half, fortunately. I expect there may be a resurgence in a few years when puberty hits (which is when I developed IBS).

    11. Jaz*

      I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but I make chicken tenders using Malt O Meal brand Crispy Rice cereal, and it’s one of my family’s favorite GF meals. I cut up the chicken, dip it in beaten egg, then in the crushed cereal mixed with a little garlic salt, and then bake them at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (until the coating browns). Simple and tasty.

    12. Owler*

      It sounds like when you see a pediatric GI, they will be able to rule out anything like Crohn’s or Ulcerative colitis. My friend’s daughter was recently diagnosed with gastric migraines, with similar symptoms to what you mention. One thing that helps her is following the FODMAPS diet, which was mentioned above. It is a hard one to follow; I tried it for my own UC as an adult and struggled with it (while working full-time; I might do better if a little one depended on me to try it again). Good luck.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      You’ve done such an extensive workup that you’ve probably tried this already, but just in case:

      My daughter developed chronic stomachaches over a couple of months, with no apparent reason for it. We couldn’t find a trigger food, she was drinking plenty, etc.

      She wasn’t vomiting or “dumping”, and she had no signs of malabsorption. But every day her stomach hurt – often badly enough to keep her out of school – and her bm’s were fairly regular but either too hard or too runny.

      I was ready to start a hardcore elimination diet like maybe FODMAP. Her pediatrician said her symptoms weren’t consistent with an intolerance, and thought gut health was more likely. We had all had a minor virus with a little tummy upset earlier in the year, and the Dr thought that might have caused a lingering imbalance in her gut.

      She recommended double-doses of probiotics (one am, one pm) for 2-4 weeks. And if that didn’t work, she was going to refer us to a counselor for anxiety screening, and explore more intensive testing.

      It worked. The frequency and intensity dropped noticeably in a few days, and she was pain free in about 2 weeks.

      I hope you get things sorted out and your little one feels better soon. It is so miserable when your lovey is hurting and you can’t fix it! Best wishes.

  40. Johanna*

    I live in an apartment in an old house and we have mice. Our food is already in plastic containers, but the sink is leaky and I’m finding droppings in the silverware drawer. We have traps but I dont know what else I should be doing.

    1. Jen*

      Deep clean everything, for sure, but the problem is, because it’s an old house, there may not be a lot you can do. I liked in a place where literally the only thing that worked was getting a cat (unless the mice are parasitic, the smell of a cat can keep the mice away).

      1. Artemesia*

        The cat did it for us too in an old house. The cat didn’t catch the mice; they just didn’t want to be where a cat was. We also used a lot of the disposable traps. I had to use them by the dozen in the garage when they discovered the Prius is a lovely mouse house. This car is very easy for mice to get into the AC system and nest — very costly to have them cleaned out and of course nothing quite like dead mice in your AC. AFter I dropped $350 to get mice out of the air system on a new Prius I kept in a garage, I started ringing the car with traps and caught lots, especially at the change of seasons and this kept them out of the car, and we had fewer in the house. But nothing was as good for the house, where they would crawl up behind drawers and get into things, as a cat. We got used to keeping all grains in sealed containers after a bad bout with pantry moths too. They come with the grains and so by keeping them sealed in, they don’t infect everything else which they can do relentlessly and they are hard to get rid of.

    2. fposte*

      Calling your landlord and asking them to bring in pest control. I’m in a house, so I’ve nobody to blame but myself, but I muddled along with traps for years and finally pest control came out and dealt with the situation.

    3. Kathenus*

      Second the pest control. I live in an old house that has also recently gotten mice. Since they cache food and can get in such tiny holes and live in the walls, it’s not easy to get rid of them and will take a while. Pest control should work on exclusion – trying to find where they might be getting in (although it’ll be impossible to find all access possibilities) plus baiting and/or trapping. Have a conversation with the pest control, learn what they’ll use where and then figure out what works best for you for safety, humaneness, reduced secondary effects (other animals getting into bait/traps or predators eating a poisoned animal). You can absolutely customize the plan to your needs and comfortability. And if it’s an apartment the landlord might cover some or all of the cost, it’s in their best interest to deal with it too. Patience will be important, as I’m learning myself right now.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Second getting the landlord involved. But also start looking for any access holes yourself to plug with steel wool.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Peppermint oil will repel them. (Put it on cotton balls or other paper products, place near their entry/exit/travel points. Repeat when smell fades.) Not fatal, just discouraging. Your home will smell like Santa’s workshop but this time of year that’s not a problem.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Can you find their entrances? Stuff them with steel wool. it sounds like your landlord needs to seal the apartment up better!

    7. Jane*

      The only way to deal with this is to find where they are getting in and close it up. I had this problem (another old house here) until my landlord finally closed up some major holes to outside. Now and then I’ll get another mouse or rat (!!!) and then we’ll find another hole somewhere to plug up, and it will stop again.

  41. LizB*

    I need some sewing advice! I got a pair of work pants that fit very nicely. They close at the waistband with just a zipper and a hook&eye closure, and the hook&eye broke the second time I wore them (the stitching holding it on busted and I lost one piece of the closure). To mend them, I could either get another hook&eye-style closure and try to sew it on more firmly, or attempt a buttonhole for the first time in my life. This would all be hand-sewing, as I don’t have a machine. Thoughts? If your vote is for buttonhole, do you have a link to any clear instructions for a beginner?

    1. Kage*

      Hook and eye is much easier to do by hand. I would definitely vote this. There are just so many ways to mess up buttonholes by hand. If you do a buttonhole by hand, I would practice a ton on scrap fabric so I didn’t ruin the pants.

    2. fposte*

      I am not a sewer, and my vote is for a better hook and eye. Buttons are single-point strains, while a hook and eye closure spreads the strain around. I’m more confident about the H&Es that are made from a solid piece of metal with holes punched rather than wires; I’m posting an example in followup.

      (But I’ll be curious to know what actual sewers think!)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is what I would do. Making a buttonhole is a pain. Making a buttonhole without a sewing machine is way too much work.

    3. ainomiaka*

      I am definitely voting hook and eye. Will be a million times easier, even if you have to do it more than once.

    4. LizB*

      Thanks, all! Sounds like hook & eye is the resounding winner. Someday, buttonholes, someday I will defeat you… when I own a sewing machine.

    5. HannahS*

      Do the hook and eye. Sewing a buttonhole by hand is tricky, has no margin of error, and getting all those tiny knotted stitches in precisely the right place and looking not completely bedraggled is not a beginner skill. A hook and eye will look nicer and be much easier to do.

    6. Dr. Anonymous*

      Hook and eye. Buy a skirt hook. Use polyester thread and get beeswax from the sewing store, run the thread through it, and run the thread under the iron briefly to set the wax into the thread. For extra points, one you’re sure the hook and eye are where you want them, apply a dot of Fray Check (also from the fabric store) to the thread. Use a cotton swab of toothpick instead of applying directly from the bottle so you don’t risk staining your pants.

  42. The Other Dawn*

    UGH, why must I be sick when I have four days off and have a lot I want to do?? I realize it’s only a cold, but I just feel so miserable. Being sick again so soon after my last cold has made me realize that I need to get my eating back on track. When I was on point with my diet and making sure I got all my protein, I was hardly ever sick. I’ve been eating like crap for months and I’ve been sick twice in three months, which is unusual for me these days.

    1. L.*

      My body knows when I have a few days off in a row. Without fail, if I have three days off, I will be sick. It’s like my immune system told it’s self “we only have to hold off til X day. Then she’ll be able to get some rest and kick this.” I love it (no having to miss work with limited sick days) and hate it (I had so much planned!).

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Same as when the universe knows that a small financial windfall is coming, no matter how small–that’s when the car breaks down, or the water pressure tank for the well decides to die (that was last week).

    2. foolofgrace*

      At the first sign of a cold, whether it be three sneezes in a row or that tickly throat, take some zinc lozenges (Zicam). It cuts the length of the cold, and its severity, in half. It still is beneficial if the cold has already taken hold but it’s best if taken very early. Hope you get better soon!

  43. anon anony*

    I always crush on a guy who is kind of a jerk, but the type of guy parents love because he totally sucks up to them and looks really good on paper — smart, ambitious, handsome — but deep down, he is not the nicest person. He usually has a controlling streak that is sneaky and subtle. He makes comments aimed to get a reaction out of me.

    They’re just crushes and luckily I figure it out before anything gets serious, but it scares me that I like guys like this. I know that they’re bad news, so why do I still hope that they’ll change into Mr. Nice? I feel like I have to prove myself or please them, which isn’t healthy.

    Has anyone liked someone like this? How did you break the pattern? How did you get out of the toxic part and move onto a healthy relationship?

    1. Dreamboat Annie*

      I made plenty of bad relationship choices before I found my partner. Not exactly the same kind, but similar. A lot of it was based on my emotional needs I didn’t know how to get met in a better way.

      Instead of giving you specific advice which might be off-base, I am going to suggest that you look into why women* get into relationships with emotional manipulative men. Also, read the Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker if you haven’t already – even though your situation isn’t as critical as his examples.

      * Making an assumption about your gender here – but most of the info out there will be from this point of view even if it isn’t your situation.

    2. Jane*

      Just a thought–are your parents really critical of you? Or were they growing up?

      There’s an idea out there that people who grew up in abusive families seek out abuse from loved ones in one way or another, because that is what they interpret as loving behavior. I think this can be scaled down to apply to not necessarily abusive, but still not the healthiest habits. If your parents “showed love” by tearing you down a bit and making you prove yourself to them, that’s the thing that’s going to feel “right” in other relationships.

      Maybe this applies to you, maybe not, but it’s worth thinking about. One thing that stood out to me in your comment was reference to a “guy parents love.” So, maybe you’re still really hung up on pleasing them? I mean, it was the first thing you went to when describing him….

      1. anon anony*

        My parents are both (retired) teachers, so grades really mattered. My (perfect) older sister was in honors classes and is extremely bright. I’m not stupid, but I was a good “B” student. My Dad was also an alcoholic, so there’s also that. My mom can be controlling and uptight, so that might be why I seek out those types.

        1. TooSoonOldTooLateSmart*

          +1…. You are very self aware to already recognize that this is a potential problem. The advice here is very good, and I wish someone could give me a do over. Encouraging you to keep working on this and not to fall into the jerk-guy (narcissistic is one version) trap. Hug. I had the super critical, dysfunctional family and did too much pleasing….not enough self-value to protect myself. I lost >25 years of my life to a lie. Just my experience (and typing on my phone, so brief)….but I wish I’d had the wisdom to recognize I deserved a partner, not a fix it project.

      2. anon anony*

        My mom can be controlling and uptight about things. My dad was also an alcoholic, so that might also be a source of problems. My parents are in education, so that’s why grades/smarts were so important.

    3. Maya Elena*

      My answer assumes your goal is an LTR or marriage.

      Based on your description of these guys, don’t pursue a relationship until you can verify that the degree of jerkiness is low enough to be funny but not a real jerk. VET VET VET or you will probably get ghosted or strung along for years or emotionally unfulfilled or otherwise let down.

      For example, a rough around the edges guy who says in-PC things (I.e. jokes that would be ok 15 years ago) and likes a bit of mischief here and there can still be loyal, principled, brave, etc. This will satisfy your bad boy itch without having to suffer a bad boy.

      BUT don’t sleep with a guy until he proves his worth, e.g. through calling back, interest in you and youe life, kindness to others, commits to exclusivity, etc. Better lose him quickly than waste time.

      ALSO: you might need to step out of your comfort zone WRT politics, manners, and rule abindingness for this kind of guy.

      Good luck! (I speak from my own experience here btw.)