weekend free-for-all – September 7-8, 2019

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert. A 19-year-old gets expelled from Vassar in 1940 and is sent to live with her black sheep aunt who runs a theater in New York City. She befriends showgirls, discovers men, and figures out how she wants to live her life. I quite enjoyed it.

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

{ 1,336 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare*

    Something I saw on Twitter this week really made me think – how do people manage to have a full time job (or even a job and study) plus cook themselves nutritious meals every day, keep the house clean, incorporate regular exercise into their daily routine, enjoy their hobbies and their weekend, and spend time with family and friends?

    I mean…I don’t manage it, and I’m single. I’m not even talking about juggling kids in the mix.

    How do you manage it? I am even behind on my reading, let alone the cleaning up.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am a full time student with a full time job and a family of three people, two dogs, three cats and a snake. I have a flexible definition of “nutritious” (frozen vegetables totally count), I work from home and have a set of exercise pedals under my desk that I use daily, and I pay someone else to do the deep cleaning. As far as reading, I read on my phone for a half hour between getting into bed and actually going to sleep pretty much every night. (Also, the people who own the cats and snake handle all their maintenance, and my dogs are pretty low maintenance outside of wanting to snuggle :) )

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          They work pretty well, though they get awfully warm after a bit. I have a daily task that involves click here and press enter, repeated 50-100 times, so I pedal aggressively while I do that and otherwise ignore them. (I’ve known people who just low key pedaled all day, but never enough to break a sweat.) mine were $25 from Target online, higher-end ones might not heat up the same way.

          1. Chaordic One*

            I work on the swing shift and there is someone who works days, whom I’ve never seen, who has a “thighmaster” (like what Suzanne Somers hawked back in the 1980s) sitting on her desk. I imagine that she must have shapely thighs.

      1. Gleeze*

        Why wouldn’t frozen veggies count? Frozen is usually better because picked in peak time (i.e. has the most nutrients)

        1. JaneB*

          and not stored/shipped/generally aging – frozen is usually frozen less than a day after picking, so in many ways it’s great!

    2. KimberlyInOhio*

      I have a full-time job, I’m working on my doctorate, and I have a side editing business. I try to keep the latter two from overlapping, but authors gonna author and I’m spinning all the plates now. I think a lot of #adulting involves lowering the bar. Like, keep the house tidy instead of deep cleaning all the time. And combine things when you can, like reading or listening to audiobooks while exercising. Play your audiobook while you’re doing house chores or cooking, or even better, play some upbeat music and dance while you’re doing your work so you can get some exercise in there, too. Combining. Also, get rid of things that collect dust and you just have to move them around to clean. Unless you really love them, just donate them. Have you thought of those meal kit services? That might help with the meal things, too. I don’t cook, and I’m way too picky to outsource fooding to a stranger, but it might be worth checking out. Good luck, fellow adult!

    3. Lemonish*

      Lower standards and outsourcing whatever I can :)

      I have a husband, a son, and two youngish dogs. I work full-time and am lucky to be able to work from home at least 3 days a week, which saves me at least 5 hours of commuting and also allows me to do things like fold laundry or cook dinner during conference calls.

      We have a cleaner who comes in about once a week, depending on our schedules. My son is 8, so he’s expected to do things like make his own breakfast under limited supervision and fold his own laundry. We’re taking a family cooking class next week to get his knife skills going, and then I will work with him to get him cooking at least a meal a week.

      I am on a restricted diet, so every other I batch cook enough meals for about two weeks. I then cook for my husband and son 5 times a week. They go out once a week and get takeaway once a week. My husband cleans the kitchen every night after dinner. The day that they go out, I go grocery shopping for the whole week. (We live in a rural area, so popping down to the shop isn’t really a thing for us. In general, I find that shopping for a whole week is fine. I have a basic repertoire that I cycle through and I know there’s automated shopping lists and stuff that would probably save me even more time, but I don’t feel like investing the start up time to get that going.)

      Exercise is an area I’d like to improve in. I walk the dogs about 3 miles a day most days, but I’m not getting any strength training done and I need to sort that.

      I am also trying to get into writing for myself again. I have time, it’s just re-developing the habit. I read when I can (finding a series that I’m into really helps with that) and have read 17 books so far this year. Last year, I prioritised reading and ended up reading 77, so setting priorities definitely determines what gets done. (This year’s priority is to walk 1000 miles and so far, I’m at 775. I guess the lesson is to prioritise strength training and daily writing next year!)

      So yeah, let me add prioritising what’s most important to my list of how to manage things. :)

    4. ConfusedKiwi*

      I think you usually can’t do everything – you just have to work out what’s the most important to you. Or at least that’s my strategy. I work 30 hours a week, have two kids, we use a meal delivery service so we eat well, I exercise on my commute, there’s not much social life, the house is patchy (but the Roomba helps a lot!) and I’m not even sure what my hobbies are anymore! But it works for now. At various times in my working life hobbies have been more prominent and eating and exercise have been less… I like how it’s working now but I’m sure in another 10 years I’ll have a different balance. :-)

          1. New ED*

            Me as well. It is truly the only way I would fit regular exercise into my life. Plus, I enjoy it! Getting to say that your commute is one of the best parts of your day is a pretty awesome benefit

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      I saw this (or something similar) and someone answered that it’s because the current system of living with a full-time job and everything that comes with it was constructed with the idea that there would be someone (a woman) at home to do the cooking, cleaning, and all the extra stuff that a full-time job makes difficult.

      1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        Yeah I mean honestly! Our lives would be infinitely better with a 4 day work week, where most people are working around 30 hours a week. Just having a weekday to do household chores, go to the grocery store, go to the bank, go to the DMV, or do whatever life-maintenance you need to do is so powerful, and it means you can mostly spend your weekends on actual leisure.

        Households (both physical living spaces and the maintenance of the people who live in them) take so much work! I honestly don’t think people can really do all of it on top of a full-time job and still have an amount of time for hobbies & leisure that I think is necessary to live a good life.

        1. LizB*

          At a low point in my recent job search I had the thought that damn, if I didn’t have to have full-time employment in order to get access to health care, I would switch to working part time in a heartbeat and be 1000% happier. Like, 30 hours a week sound wonderful to me… but I also need to see doctors and stuff, so 40 hours it is. (Never mind that a lack of time/energy for exercise, healthy eating, and leisure will definitely increase my need to see doctors in the medium-to-long runs……..)

        2. misspiggy*

          A recent research project in New Zealand had the employees of a company switch to four-day weeks on the same pay. It worked so well in terms of efficiency and morale that the company is keeping the model going.

        3. Meepmeep*

          Or a part time workday. I switched to working part time when I had my daughter, and I never want to go back to a full time schedule. I have the time to take care of my family and my house, I am not constantly rushed, and I can do things like go to the bank during business hours.

        4. Alexandra Lynch*

          My boyfriend realized this. He’s had weight loss surgery and is developing Sjogren’s syndrome like his mother, which causes underproduction of saliva. He also has DID, along with anxiety and depression. The only way he manages to eat a varied and healthy diet while living in an orderly environment that soothes his anxiety and supports him is to pay to support me. I do the cleaning and organizing and am a good enough cook to work around his food issues. It’s 1950’s division of labor, but I’m a good homemaker and organizer, and my own health issues are such that I can get quite a lot done if I can sit down and rest a lot, and I like being home and taking care of a nice house. We pay to have the yard mowed, and the flowers are such (roses) that I can handle the care myself. We do not have a dog because no one has the ability to walk it. However, the two cats are my responsibility to feed and water. They get cuddles from everyone.

          He works in IT and often takes a walk while things are downloading or compiling, and takes a long walk at lunchtime, and that’s how he gets his exercise. Once we get done with putting shelves up in the garage, he’ll have room to get to his weight set, and he can do that too every now and again in an evening. My own exercise is limited to yoga, but when I get a car next year I will be able to join a local gym and just go there while he’s at work.

          1. Alexandra Lynch*

            I’ll add that we’re both in our mid-forties and it’s a childfree household; I have sons who are now grown by my first husband.

      2. TechWorker*

        Oh, 100%. The vast majority of middle and senior management at my company have a wife at home who either doesn’t work or works part time. The number of people who have a partner who works AND kids is vanishingly small (and in those cases it’s usually because the woman earns more and the some of the man has thus gone part time…)

    6. Fikly*

      The expectation of being able to pull that off is based on a two-person couple where one person is not working. Which is to say, completely unrealistic and not possible in today’s society for the vast majority who are not uber wealthy.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, exactly this. Someone on Twitter responded to that with basically — postwar capitalism is why we have the schedule, lifestyle, and expectations we have attached to our (work) lives. In a time when most women did NOT work outside the home, but were full time unpaid managers of all domestic and family duties, those things made a kind of sense, and worked for many people.

        A lot of what’s happened in the 70 years since, with the denigration of those domestic and family responsibilities and the expectation that everyone should be able to work AND manage those tasks, is due to rampant misogyny in the context of an acquisitive capitalist culture. Those tasks belonged for generations in a female sphere, and were unpaid, therefore they are seen as unimportant.

        An acquaintance of mine is working on a book right now in which she essentially blames the Victorians for coming up with all this nonsense, and reminds people that “traditional roles” for hundreds, if not thousands, of years of human history meant the entire multigenerational family working together at the family business, NOT “man goes off to work and earns money, wife stays home and manages domestic duties.”

      2. ampersand*

        I recently quit my full-time job to stay home with my baby—my husband works full-time. We had a housekeeper who cleaned twice per month until recently; in an effort to save some money I thought I could do all the cleaning instead. Turns out, I can’t do all the cleaning—not with a baby to take care of. I had a mini-breakdown this week from trying to do All The Things. I don’t understand how women used to do this for years on end. It’s HARD. I’m slowly learning that you have to just let some stuff go and re-prioritize as needed.

        1. TechWorker*

          Letting go sounds very sensible. ‘Women who did this for years’ may also have had different circumstances – eg family close by to help out/older children expected to help out with younger children, etc. I don’t

          1. ampersand*

            Good point about family. I forget about that, probably because we don’t have family nearby, either.

        2. PurpleMonster*

          It’s a good thing to let it go now, because soon you’ll have a toddler who will literally pull out toys the second you put them away. I’ve heard it described as ‘shoveling snow in a blizzard’ and it’s so true. I’m just trying to make my peace with the state of my house.

        3. Alexandra Lynch*

          Historically women with new babies had a live-in maid of all work at minimum. In nice middle-class Victorian households, they had a cook, a waitress (who did a butler’s job) and usually a laundress who came once a week and did the laundry. So she had nothing to do but attend to the baby.

          If she’d had, say, three kids in four years, often they added a nursery maid or nanny, until the kids got toilet trained and up to an age where they could start school.

          So historically, women didn’t do it all by themselves.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Plenty of (probably most?) women historically DID do it without paid help, but many more women in the past lived in multi-generational or multi-family homes. You’re right that lower-social-class women have always supported the child-rearing and housekeeping of higher-social-class women, however, often to the detriment of their own children, or their own children being forced to work at a very young age.

          2. TL -*

            Most likely the live in maid, the cook, the waitress, and the laundress all had their own children. So for every woman who had “nothing to do but care for the baby” there were up to four working with children.

            Working mothers have existed for as long as there have been jobs.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              Those lower class working women were not expected to have a fulfilling life and their kids were often taking care of their younger children until they started working at like 10 or 12 years old.

              1. JaneB*

                The live-in staff rarely had children they were responsible for – they were often not allowed to marry, lived in shared rooms, and were turned off if they became pregnant and had to leave to marry. If they DID have a child, the child lived with their parents or another relative, sometimes supported by the mother’s wages such as they were.

                I read a really interesting article recently about some regions of the world today where the NORM is that grandma looks after children once they are weaned and does small piecework type work, often home-based, whilst the mother (who is younger, has more energy and better health) is a full time worker who often works away from home for much of the year, e.g. as a near-live-in domestic worker, or even working in another country (see e.g. Caribbean or Philipine women working as skilled nurses or child care or similar in Europe and America…), and I think that is likely to have been more widely the case.

                Also, there are many kinds of family historically – in my own family, for example, there were often unmarried or widowed “aunties” (any kind of kin of the same generation as your parents is referred to as an aunt in family stories, it is SO CONFUSING) in the household – they sometimes worked, always helped out with different aspects of the household, and had a much nicer place to live and company than they could afford as a solo household.

                And my great-grandad put his youngest two children into an orphanage when his first wife died because the older ones were all boys and working (and the older kids used to go and get the littles once a week for Sunday dinner – they were still very much part of the family, just unable to be cared for at home), and took them back into the home full time again when he married again, and apparently that was very normal all round. We have some very odd, very restricted ideas at the moment about what “normal” is, and it definitely messes up our understanding of work!

                Also, we do a heck of a lot more for and with children these days, even when they’re tiny, never mind when they start to move and speak and stuff – all these assumptions about classes and activities and managed play dates and quality time and getting a head start at school and never being unsupervised are very new, and even looking at my friends’ kids, they spend far far less time being turfed out of the house to play or being left to get on with stuff with limited supervision than my sister and I did.

                1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

                  Confusing–but also you should see me and my cousin (the family genealogists) trying to explain third-cousin-twice-removed to the rest of the family

        4. Meepmeep*

          Taking care of a baby is a full time job in itself. The way women used to do this is by having lots of extended family around, because there’s no way someone can do this alone.

          In hunter gatherer tribes, there are 14 adults, on average, taking care of one baby – aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents. This is what we evolved for, and this is the norm for the human species.

          So yeah, screw the housework. You’ve got enough to do.

        5. Reba*

          Consider the origin of “Spring Cleaning” — the things you cleaned in spring because you literally did not clean them the rest of the year, you didn’t have time given all the other survival activities.

          I know I read about this in a book about the history of women and labor… that I got in this great revolutionary bookstore in my college town… If I can dig it up I’ll share the title!

    7. Angwyshaunce*

      I’ve devised a system that ensures everything that needs to get done, does. It’s a three tier list of tasks that includes *everything*.

      Every day after work, I have two “waves” of chores. The first I do immediately, to get them out of the way. The second I do before bed, which is pretty much cleaning up the mess from just before. That generally leaves me 2 – 4 hours an evening for cooking, cleaning, hobbies, projects, or relaxation.

      This system does not add hours to the day though, so I still have to sacrifice some optional stuff. I rarely do deep cleaning, don’t exercise, and don’t eat all that well. But I do make time for fun stuff.

      Remember, when you’re on top of chores, they don’t take as long, which can help leave you more time in the day for other things.

    8. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Lowering standards and combining activities!
      For example, unless you have one of those “utterly adorable but shed hairs every time they breathe out” pets, you’re not going to need to vacuum every day. Congratulations! That’s one less chore to do after you’ve done your 9-5.
      Speaking of which, assuming you’re doing a 9-5 with an hour commute,(30 mins in either direction), can you combine your “reading” with the commute time? Obviously, this is easier on public transport, but if you drive yourself, try an audiobook. Or, if you can commute on a bike, there’s your daily exercise!
      Don’t save up your chores for the weekend, do half an hour every night just to keep the place tidy (we’re not talking deep cleaning the grout in the bathroom on a Tuesday evening here!) and hygienic.

      And here’s an important point: if your friends are the type who will inspect your baseboards for dust – get some better friends!
      Also, priorities change as you get older. When your read the article, were you picturing “spending time with your friends” as four hours in a nightclub kind of socialising? Because that stops happening as you get older. Socialising becomes having ‘nutritious’ meals (that you take turns at hosting – again, one fewer meal to cook/clean up for you if it’s not your turn and it’s combining friends and food)

      1. NACSACJACK*

        She doesnt shed hair every time she breathes. She just sheds twice a year…for six months each time. Labradors. Gotta love them!

      2. JaneB*

        who the heck vacuums every day without having a medical need to do it? I’d better not invite them to my place (even when I’m “on top” of everything by my standards, the occasional feline-origin tumblehair rolls past…)

    9. Loopy*

      At least for me- this was a bit depressing to think about in terms of my own life.

      I got really into a hobby that makes me happy and totally lost any semblance of balance- no exercising, eating well, etc. So I tried to step back, but i’m still at maybe two days of exercise a week, not eating much better and cleaning is always last on the list (my house isn’t disgusting, but it’s not clean).

      It’s sad that the first thing I always feel has to be cut back is the stuff that makes me happy- my hobby and just having unstructured lazy time without guilt. When I try and even to be moderate and fit everything in just to a small degree, I feel stressed and sad. Work for me is being away 10 hours a day, and I really need 7-8 hrs of sleep, so really everything else feels crammed in.

    10. Anon attorney*

      I work four days a week and am studying part time. Single, no kids or pets (unless you count Cyrus the stuffed panda, although he doesn’t make much mess). I think it’s impossible to do everything, but that just means you need to understand what’s most important to you, and why you do what you do. For me, at the moment I am prioritizing healthy eating and exercise, so I will, for example, take a dance class in preference to going out drinking or reading a book. I batch cook at weekends. I don’t work ridiculous hours and don’t have a bad commute which helps. The low priority things for me just now are my home (I let it get untidy in the week and spend a morning of the weekend tackling it – I am relaxed about mess but it needs to be sanitary!) and my romantic life. If I am going to start dating again I can see that something is going to have to give. Will deal with that if it happens! I don’t feel the need to perform a successful lifestyle on social media (nor am i interested in others claiming to be and do it all) and I think that helps. Saying that, the extra day in the week makes a huge difference to me and I don’t think I could do everything I want to do if I worked full time.

    11. Kate Daniels*

      I listen to audiobooks while making breakfast, cooking dinner, and cleaning around my apartment. I also live in a city, so I usually try to walk everywhere to get my errands done (grocery shopping, library visit, etc.), which helps me incorporate exercise into my day, and I always listen to audiobooks while going on those walks.

      I really enjoy watching soccer matches, basketball games, and other sports, but I’m able to easily fit in reading during lulls, timeouts, halftime, or commercial breaks. I have started pre-planning my evenings and intentionally blocking off a couple evenings each week (generally those nights when there is not a game I want to watch) where I don’t turn on the TV or pick up my iPad at all when I get home from work and instead get to dedicate four hours or so to just read a book, so I get through them quickly this way. Weekends are for more reading, more sports, and socializing (though I admit that I often have “low key” weekends without any socializing, as most of my friends and family don’t live in the same city).

      I work full time, but recognize my privilege as it pertains to having more free time in being child free and having a really short commute.

      1. bleh*

        Yeah, I work full time… but as an academic my schedule is very flexible except for teaching class and meetings. To make sure to exercise, which is necessary (for me) to burn off negative energy, we get up at 5:00am. The house is small, one partner (full time and also flexible schedule), no children or pets, and we have someone in once a month to do the heavy cleaning. We batch cook on weekends, but can afford to go out a few times a week. And we have gotten good at eating healthy even at restaurants by sharing things and ordering salads. Even with all of the advantages, sometimes things fall between the cracks. I have NO IDEA how people who must be at work to do work and be there for 60+ hours a week and or raise kids do anything else. It’s a crazy system we have built, and we wonder why people are depressed and tired.

    12. PowerRanger*

      Realistically we don’t need to exercise that much. More studies are showing exercising two or three days out of the week is enough.

      As for eating healthy, I batch cook meals and freeze leftovers. So I eat the same thing two or three days in the row.

      For cleaning, instead of doing it in one full swoop, try cleaning certain areas on certain days. Kitchen on Monday, Living room on Tuesday… ECT. Look up weekly cleaning plans for help. It’s also not the worse thing to have a messy house. Sometimes you have to prioritize things. Eating dinner with friends is doing laundry is ok.

      Try trying out your week as you did in school or work. Schedule in things you want to do. Even plan on lazy days where you don’t do anything.

      1. Jackalope*

        It depends. We may not be required to get that much exercise but I need some exercise each day for my own personal mental health. If I try to cut it out for more than a day or two in a row I get stir-crazy and fidgety like nobody’s business.

    13. Lilo*

      I have a kid and sometimes it just doesn’t. I lower my standards (clean things that are risky when uncleaned like the kitchen). Sometimes you get takeout.

    14. Teapot Translator*

      I think it’s impossible. I mean, we’re also supposed to get around 8 hours sleep. Personally, something will always be left undone.
      I work fulltime, study part-time and live alone.

    15. cat socks*

      I have a husband and five cats. I’ll address the cleaning first.

      I work from home on Thursdays and that is the day I vaccuum the downstairs areas and mop the kitchen floors. If I have time I’ll vacuum the upstairs too. Bathrooms get cleaned as needed.

      Each evening after dinner the dishes get done and kitchen counters wiped down. I don’t have a lot of stuff or clutter so I guess that helps with keeping the house clean.

      The stuff that’s hardest for me is cooking. I try to cook dinner during the weekdays but we’ll get takeout on the weekends. Sometimes that means getting McDonald’s or Burger King at 9 at night.

      Exercise is hard too. Still haven’t figured out how to incorporate that into my life.

      My main hobby is reading and I read books on my phone. I don’t have a lot of friends and don’t really have plans that take me out of the house other than going to church on Sundays.

      I do volunteer once a week after work.

      I guess I have a pretty boring life. I feel like I have cleaning the house under control,.but could definitely improve in other areas.

    16. Anon Librarian*

      You either double up or make trade-offs. You let the house get messy when you’re busy with work, hobbies or friends. You work out and cook with your friends or eat out with your friends. You clean the house for exercise. Most people understand. There’s the occasional person who gets upset and judgmental because your house is a mess while you work two jobs, volunteer and have impressive hobbies. Those are usually people who are in different circumstances, like they’ve always been able to afford to hire a cleaning person. Life is a mess. Do your best, and live it.

    17. 8doggies*

      Years ago I found a site that shows you how to prepare food for the week in a couple of hours on Sunday.
      Google: Chelle Stafford Sunday Food Prep
      It is amazing. She has everything going at once – oven, crockpot, stovetop.

      Other sources good for batch cooking are the “Well Fed” books.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Thank you for the recommendation! I’ll have to look this up. I’m currently working 35 hours a week, taking 12 credits at my law school, and have a minimum of a two-hour commute each day. I’ve tried batch cooking in the past, but we’ve ended up using a meal deliver service because I can’t do all the things.

    18. Ranon*

      Active commute solves daily exercise for me (the best reason to support walkable/bikeable neighborhoods and public transit imo), cooking on the weekends and eating leftovers during the week covers food, weekend chores spree with an every day evening pick-up and a partner who stays on top of the dishes keeps the house liveable (small space and lowish standards helps there), my hobby is active and social (so more exercise there), and “enjoying my weekends” mostly involves things that are active with family, things that are hobbies with friends, and chores that I like. The toddler has pretty much killed any desire to stay out late (not that I had much to begin with) so my weekend days start at 7/8 am rather than noon, which makes for a lot more weekend.

      Now, cramming in volunteering in there definitely means things are full, and the house isn’t perfectly clean, and I’m not doing everything I want to do, but short of retiring it’s not bad. Short commute with a grocery store on the way helps a bunch.

    19. MissDisplaced*

      You can’t!
      Most annoying to me is how the corporate world is pushing “wellness” and demand you exercise and be healthy employees… but still expect yo to fit that into your 12 hour daily work and commute schedule.

      1. Ariaflame*

        I must admit I didn’t follow the link, but the latest thing that our workplace threw at us was a ‘newsletter’ that was meant to help us. Though it was to a restricted site, and they only considered weeks later telling us how to access it. One of the phrases in the clickbait titles was something along the lines about how work-life balance was out, and ‘integration’ was in. I do NOT want to integrate my work into my personal life.

    20. Overeducated*

      I think a lot of people don’t manage to do all those things every day! Work is pretty much mandatory. Between leftovers and prepared foods my husband and I only do real cooking 3-4 days a week, and not every meal is that nutritious (lunches are a struggle for me). Same for exercise, we fit it into our commutes 3-4 days a week. I don’t have a lot of hobby time, which I do miss. Seeing family and friends is more spread out than it used to be because we’re all at a busier time of life, we schedule weekend get togethers pretty far in advance. I do not keep the house that clean, it’s more of a damage control situation. There are only so many hours in a day.

    21. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Reject the assumption that anybody manages to successfully accomplish all the things you’ve listed. Disbelieve Facebookers and Instagrammers who claim that they do — they are outsourcing some things, or they have some other kind of support.

      The only things that worked for me when I was a single mom in law school were extreme time management and lowering my expectations for how the house would look and the number of “non-essential” things I’d be able to do. Luckily, both law school and child-raising are time-limited experiences.

    22. Agnodike*

      I work full-time, am married, have a toddler, no pets. The way I get “everything” done is, first, carefully define what “everything” is, and second, time-track and reflect on where and how I want to spend my time.

      I have lists upon lists upon lists upon lists, because that’s the way my brain works. I made a list of everything I felt I should be getting done in a week, then reviewed it to figure out which activities were essential (brushing my teeth, laundry, time with my spouse, time with my kid, etc), which were on the B-list, i.e. stuff that’s really important to me but can be cut if needed (exercise, home-cooked meals, clean kitchen, hobbies), and the “in a perfect world” stuff (deep cleaning the fridge, reorganizing my craft supplies, a weekend away at the spa).

      Then everything gets sorted into “I’m doing this now and will keep doing it,” “I’m doing this now but spouse could be doing it,” “Nobody’s doing this and that should change” and “Nobody’s doing this and that’s just fine.” The time tracking piece is what deals with the “Nobody’s doing this and that should change” list, because knowing exactly where my time goes lets me identify what I could change. So if I feel like I’m not spending enough time with my spouse, I can look at what I’m doing more of than I really want to, and cut back on that. So I started getting up half an hour earlier in the mornings so we could have coffee together, instead of my previous morning wake-up routine, which was lying in bed and checking the news, etc. It’s not to say that one was a better use of my time than the other, just that I’d rather have coffee with my spouse than read the NYT briefing alone. I build in time for lots of downtime, too, because I need that to reset – I’m not willing to reduce my weekly Netflix or internet-browsing budgets, because I need those to reset my brain. So it’s not about trying to only do “productive” activities, it’s about figuring out whether you’re really doing the stuff you want and need or whether inertia is carrying the way you spend your time.

      Exercise is another good example. I’m not at a place in my life right now where I’m going to have two hours to go to a gym, or even an hour to go for a run by myself. So sometimes I take my toddler for a run on the weekend when we would otherwise be spending time together – I run back and forth around her while she chases me, which she thinks is hilarious – and sometimes I break up an hour of training into six ten-minute increments throughout the day, and do it at work.

      Basically, you have to figure out how much time you realistically do have (time tracking is an amazing tool for this) and then make a priorities list. Anything that’s not a priority doesn’t get done unless you have a sudden time windfall, you figure out where your time is going to make sure you’re spending it the way you want, and you try to stress as little as possible about things that are low-priority or an idea of what you “should” be doing.

    23. PB*

      In terms of a nutritious dinner, I’ll put in a heavy plug for A New Way to Dinner (https://food52.com/shop/products/3540-signed-copy-a-new-way-to-dinner-by-amanda-hesser-and-merrill-stubbs). This is one of my favorite cookbooks. It gives you 16 menus for dinners for four for an entire week. Each week includes a shopping list for a family of four (you’ll need to scale if your family is smaller or larger), recipes, and game plan. You do most of your cooking on Sunday (often 2-3 hours, but it also includes suggestions for shortcuts). When you get home, you can get a nutritious meal on the table with a few minutes of prep. It’s magical. I just finished a week of grilled pork and romesco, grilled squid and couscous salad, oil-poached tuna, summer pasta, and plum tart. Cooking time: about 2 hours!

    24. MigratingCoconuts*

      I don’t know how some people do it. If they do, I’m sure they are sleeping 2 hours a night. I was a single mom for a few years with 2 young children, then I was married, still working full time with 3 kids. I ended up assigning major chores for each day of the week. Monday: tidy upstairs (bedrooms), Tuesday: shopping, Wednesday: laundry. I saved tidying the downstairs (living, kitchen, guest bath) for Thursday and Friday. That way, my ‘guest’ areas were clean for the weekends, in case I had people over. (instead of tidying early in the week and then having to tidy again later in the week) Most of these things didn’t take more that half an hour or so. Doing a little everyday made me feel accomplished, and not so overwhelmed. I cooked quick, easy meals. I read in bed at night before I went to sleep. Helped me relax and also do something I love. I also lowered those standards society seems to put on women.

    25. Redhead in NY*

      Lots of coffee :) haha. I work full time, once in the evenings during the week (about an hour or two) and usually a couple hours between Saturday and Sunday to finish up things and get prepared for the week. I work out 4-5 times a week, make 90% of my own meals, and hang with friends once or twice a week. I still have time to read and hang with my dogs (and my husband, of course! who works from home so it’s easy to spend time with him).

      My secret is to just start doing something when I get home from work. I sit down for a minute to chill of course but then I’m getting ready for the gym or cooking or meeting up with people. Good habits are hard to start but if you really want to make a change, you can do it. It’ll take a good couple of months of daily consistent effort for it to become a habit.

      I always say to myself if I “don’t” have the time to do something that I really want to do, is it that I really don’t have the time or I’m just sitting on my bum scrolling on instagram? The answer is usually the latter and I put down my phone and start being productive.

      Most of my meal cooking is done on Sunday (I even make my dogs food… lol) and then once during the week.

    26. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I’m strongly considering getting a cleaner… I started therapy like 6 months ago, and I feel like I should drop to bi-weekly on therapy and spend the savings on a bi-weekly cleaner, and I’d get about the same mental health benefits :D Someone else mentioned a Roomba; we also have a robot vacuum and it really does help. We’re now building our lives around it, every new piece of furniture has to be off the ground enough for the vacuum to get under it and into all the corners.

      I don’t really read. :/ I mean, I read articles, and I read stuff on Twitter and whatnot, but it’s been hard to carve out time for books. I still have books I’m working on, it just takes a long time to get thru them.

      I hate cooking, too! I do a lot of slow cooker now, so we eat a lot of leftovers. It’s great.

      1. New Normal*

        I love our Roomba! It’s an older model (2013?) so doesn’t have all the features of the newer ones but it’s a great helper. My only issue is that it REALLY loves to play hide-and-seek. Also the cats love laying traps for it by pulling out shoelaces or other small items and putting them in its path. So I often feel like I’m trying to out-think both the roomba and the cats.

        It’s incredibly durable and I love that it’s designed to be user-serviceable. I’ve taken it apart several times (twice it managed to climb the plates and get into the cats’ wet food then a few other times either to change parts or free it from one of the traps) and it’s still doing great. It doesn’t replace a full-sized vacuum but it very much helps with those cat-fur tumbleweeds.

        1. Life is Good*

          I sooooo want one of these! We have a sheddy cat and dog. Does anyone have experience with these on long dog fur? We have a hand-vac that we use every now and then to pick up the pools of fur, but having a Roomba just keep those at bay would be heavenly.

          1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

            There are ones that are specifically designed for pet fur! They seem to be really good for keeping pet fur at bay.

            1. School Psych*

              Yep. I just bought a Bissell robot vacuum that is specifically designed for pet hair and it did great on the pools of fur. I have one of those adorable, but sheds every time she breaths dogs.

    27. Texan In Exile*

      When I was single, I worked full time, exercised almost daily, spent time with my friends, volunteered, ate well, and had a clean house. I did have a cleaning lady once every three weeks. I also did not cook every day – I cooked on the weekends and put stuff in the freezer. I didn’t have a TV because if I had had one, I would have spent every single spare second watching. I have no self discipline in that regard.

    28. LibbyG*

      I have three things I want to do outside of teaching/admin work and basic life-management: writing, exercise, and music. Before I had kids, I could do 2 out of 3. When my kids were really little, it was pretty much zero out of 3. Now that they’re school age, and work stuff has gotten more in a groove, I’m back up to 2 out of 3.

    29. Jax*

      I’m single, and I hear you! Also, I am pretty much always trying to manage depression so I am and can stay functioning and well and independent. So the things I’m going to recommend might seem ridiculously basic but they’ve helped me tremendously.

      I no longer use all the plates/bowls/silverwear/cups I have or even the dishwasher. I bought a simple but nice-looking and sleek dish-drying rack and a drying mat to set it on. I constantly keep on it 1 small plate, 1 large plate, the dish I use to feed my pet, and 1 spoon, 1 fork, 1 butter knife, and 1 cutting knife. These are my favorite of each category

      1. Jax*

        Oh this posted, maybe that’s a sign I’m going on too long with just my first recommendation, so I will wrap this up. It is the prettiest large plate I have and like to look at on the rack; the cutting knife is the one I always default to for everything. I have one small and one large bowl I have selected for this too but I usually put those away after they dry; same with my coffee mug. (I have a large I think stainless steel thing that’s really meant to use in cars that keeps ice in ice form for 24+ hours that I drink water from all the time throughout my apartment.)

        It sounds so stupid but I did this to find a way to keep my kitchen clean — and it works. I use only those plates (unless I’m really making something major, which is rare) and clean them when I’m done and let them dry and store them right there. It somehow does not seem a chore to have just one plate and my utinsels to clean, right then. It’s impossible for the sink to pile up with a ton of dirty dishes, or even the dishwasher. It makes things fast. On my stove I keep my main frying pan, my main sauce pan, and another deep pan I use, right there and clean them and put them right back after I use them. I also have a large, pretty ceramic jug-like thing on my stove for the spatulas, scissors, can opener, whatever big things like that I need regularly. The cutting disk is on my sink. It’s made a world if difference in time, cleanliness, attractiveness, and somehow lifted a dreaded chore. I still have all the other plates and pans and baking tools etc but it’s amazing how I really only use a few things regularly.

    30. JDC*

      I haven’t ever found it all that difficult to get that all done. An infant soon will surely mix that up though. I meal prep on Sunday, clean as well. It amazes me how long it take some people to clean. My son takes an hour to do his bathroom. It takes me less than 10 mins. I think just doing it and not allowing yourself to get distracted is key.

    31. RoadsLady*

      Yesterday in a meeting this came up. We laughed and laughed. Ah, work-life balance. And this is a place that really promotes that.

      But the lady who has a side business as a cleaner says she can’t keep her own house clean.

      Right now I’m looking around my disastrous house.

    32. Aquawoman*

      For me, I incorporate exercise into my commute and my day (i.e., I take the bus to the metro, and have chosen a route that means I get a mile of walking total getting to and from work/climb the escalators, use the stairs) and do ten minutes of stretching at night. I prep most stuff for lunches on the weekend, and it really only takes maybe 15 minutes-half hour of hands-on time to prep a simple dinner from scratch. We do the dishes every night but for other stuff, we have someone come in once a month and then I spot clean but I never “clean the house” all at one time, I’ll wipe up or sweep the floor or do one or two tasks of 10-20 minutes total (or none). I don’t clean to some imaginary 50s-housewife sparkling standard but on a what’s-bugging-me standard. I also don’t wear makeup or spend a lot of time on my hair. I may be a high-energy person.

    33. Ann*

      Honestly? We throw money at the problem. We’re fortunate to be in a position to be able to do so.

      My husband works ~80 hours per week with a commute that can be up to 3-4 hours round trip. I’m a full-time student and I’m also chronically ill, which requires several hours of treatments per day. We have a toddler and pets. My husband doesn’t do much around the house because he’s so busy with work and commuting. I tidy up the house nightly and we have a house cleaner come every two weeks. For meals, we do a combination of Freshly and simple home-cooked meals, usually a sheet pan with fish or chicken + veggies + potatoes roasted at 425 for ~30 minutes. I don’t enjoy cooking so meal prepping on the weekends is not at all appealing.

      In terms of socializing, I see my friends at my school every day but we probably only get together outside of school about once a month. My husband doesn’t really have time for socializing outside of work. We both reserve weekends and evenings for family time, and try to save extra work and studying for after the toddler is asleep.

      We don’t really have time for hobbies or exercise. I do wish we exercised more (aside from chasing the toddler around) but instead I prioritize getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, since when I get less than that I start to have flareups of my chronic illness.

      We’re super busy, but we’re keeping it together and it’s only for another two years until circumstances change.

    34. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I do it all…but not at once. Some weekends I don’t socialize because I have too much Stuff To Do – cleaning, working on my side projects, cooking. Other weekends I party it up and maybe only eat sandwiches and frozen pizzas all week. After losing weight, I downsized my exercise routine to 2 times a week and leisurely walks. (When I was on a stealth weight loss routine, I probably exercised at the expense of some socializing and other career opportunities.) I also alternate which areas of the house I clean every Sunday, so I’m only spending 1-2 hours cleaning at once but my house still stays maintained.

      Idk…you just have to decide what you need/want most at any given time. You also have to allow yourself to be imperfect. Sometimes a frozen meal is better than no meal at all, even if it is not all Organic From Scratch.

      I’m also single w/ no family….I don’t even have a cat! It doesn’t help sometimes I feel like the thing I need to do most is…nothing, so that takes up a lot of my time.

    35. Clisby*

      Back when I was single, working full time at a newspaper at night, and attending school full time in the day:

      Exercise: I walked or biked to and from class, so 2-3 miles a day.
      Cleaning: I had pretty low standards for this, but also a small apartment so it wasn’t too hard.
      Cooking: I cooked a lot on Saturday or Sunday morning, and made/bought enough food for most of my meals for a week. This would be a lot harder to do if I were cooking for me and kids, but for one person I’d cook 2 main dishes (let’s say, a roast chicken and a small pot roast.) I’d then cook at least two sizeable batches of vegetables (green beans, potatoes, broccoli – something like that.) I’d make sure I had the makings for salad (lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, carrots, etc.), sandwiches, and breakfast. So, I’d make and eat breakfast; after I got out of classes for the day I’d eat my main meal (leftovers from the weekend cooking); and at work at night I’d eat a sandwich or salad (or both) brought from home. I rarely ate out.

    36. Lena Clare*

      Oh this has been such an amazing thread to read and I’ve really picked up loads of tips,thankyou, which I will bookmark an come back to later. In am attempt to have more work-life balance I went out today with a feriend for lunch then for a talk and tour of the Blackden Trust which is the old Medicine House that a local author lives in. It was a 2 hour round trip on top of that, so a big chunk of the day. i enojoyed it but I have a migraine now…ugh.

      I really liked what Agnodike said about:
      So it’s not about trying to only do “productive” activities, it’s about figuring out whether you’re really doing the stuff you want and need or whether inertia is carrying the way you spend your time.

      I am not on Facebook or Instagram. i am only on Twitter, but it affects my mood and I spend far too long on there, so I am thinking very sreiously about deleting my profile.
      I don’t think I have the disciplime to keep mysefl away from it and come back to it at a later date (like Texan in Exile with the TV!) I spend a lot of time watching Netflix, but I do like doing that so…

      I am cutting down to 4 days a week from October to fit in an MA, which I am excited about but I think I am going to have to really plan my time more carefully.
      No Twitter would probably help. I use the UfYH system of cleaning, and bouts of 20/10s seem to keep the place clean. Beleive me, I have fairly low standards already lol. It’s “just good enough for if a friend dropped by unannounced” clean.

      I cannot bike to work. I use my car to visit people as part of my job, so I can’t use public transport either, and I don’t like audiobooks because I am sensitive to noise. My commute is horrible, but it is only for the next 3 years and then I can get another job/work for myself at home. I try to go swimming at the weekend because I enjoy that.

      I defintely could shake up my routine with cookiking. I should be able to plan a week’s worth of food and then freeze it. Lunches are the hardest.

      So lots to think about. TYhanks so much. and I;’m sorry if there are loads of typos :)

    37. Koala dreams*

      I don’t get it done.

      I did read an interesting article some years ago about how we spend the same amount of time on chores despite the technical innovations. Take laundry, for example. Before washing machines, most people did their laundry quite selten. It simply wasn’t possible to have clean clothes every day. With the early machines, it wasn’t as automated as today and someone needed to check on it frequently. No wonder a family needed a full time adult to stay at home and do chores! Today, you just put in the clothes and press the button, then you can happily wander away. But the demands for clean clothes has increased. It seems unacceptable to wear the same clothes several days in a row, and so you fill the machine more often than you would have the early machine.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        Well, and our clothing has changed. It used to be that people wore an entire layer of clothing that came between their dress or suit and their body. That layer was white cotton or linen, and it was made with flat buttons or strings, trimming of tucks and flat crocheted lace, and it was meant to be boiled and scrubbed. The wool or silk garments on top were meant to be aired, brushed, ironed, but never actually washed. The dyes weren’t fast, even. And people wore different clothes for different things. The dress you wore to make the beds and dust the house in was a simple garment of washable fabric. The dress you wore to go out to the butcher’s and greengrocer’s to find the makings of dinner was heavyweight wool. (Heavy wool like that can be dried and have the mud brushed off it, and aired to remove odd smells.) The pretty dress you wore after the work was done to sit in the parlor and read a book and look pretty was silk. We wear nearly the same clothes for everything.

        1. Ugh Laundry*

          thanks for this historical context! I never thought about laundry in that way before and that makes me feel less overwhelmed

    38. TechWorker*

      I don’t ;) the things that slide for me are: I mostly exercise at weekends (sometimes I get into good habits and exercise at lunch but it depends how busy I am at work whether I can get the time), we have a robot hoover (godsend) and dishwasher (not everyone does obviously, saves so much time). All the things I cook take 15-20min max

      1. bleh*

        Oh yeah, I deleted all social media in 2017. And I have stopped reading the news for the most part. It saves time and mental health.

    39. YetAnotherUsername*

      Check out the book 168 hours (I think it was someone on here who recommended it). It is a time mamagement book and includes time logs of people like a woman who runs a large business and has a lot of kids and still manages to go hiking and be in a book club. It’s all about using your time intentionally Rather than wasting it.

    40. Gatomon*

      I used to just spend my weekends cleaning, which… didn’t work. I wouldn’t get much done beyond laundry and vacuuming most times unless I dedicated hours to it, which sucks. I’m trying a new cleaning schedule since I recently moved and have doubled my living space:

      – Sundays: projects; various cleaning tasks for my animals; laundry day 2; prep garbage to go out
      – Mondays: garbage pickup day; floors, not necessarily all floors each week but I just vacuum/mop whatever area is worst
      – Tuesdays: toilets… clean the bowls and scrub the whole shebang once a month
      – Wednesdays: sinks/countertops
      – Thursdays: dust; declutter; vacuum soft furniture (I have a cat)
      – Fridays: weekly shopping and errands
      – Saturdays: showers/baths; laundry day 1

      So far it’s working pretty well. I don’t always get to each day’s tasks, but I think it’s okay if I miss something, since I’ll get to it next week! I aim to keep everything to 15 – 30 minutes worth of work on workdays, and I start on it right after I get home. If I get home later than 5:45 though, I won’t take it on. Oh, and I have a dishwasher so that makes dishes pretty easy, and the condo association does the lawn.

      1. Salymander*

        Breaking chores up by day is a good idea. I do that too, and so far I get more done. I split my chores up by doing a room each day. Monday is my bedroom, Tuesday is living room, Wednesday yard work and breadmaking, thursday kitchen (so I clean up all the flour from Wednesday), Friday is bathrooms, Saturday is office, Sunday more yard work. I do the stuff on the weekend that is less critical, so no big deal if I skip it to do something fun (or nothing!). I set the timer for however much time I want to spend, say 20-30 minutes, and I clean like mad until the time is up. If I have more time or energy that particular day, I can always do more. That way everything gets at least a bit of cleaning every week, and I don’t spend the whole weekend doing chores.

    41. Earthwalker*

      We’re a couple with no kids. It’s nearly as fast to cook for six or twelve as to cook for two, so I make a school lunch lady sized dinner for today with leftovers for tomorrow, and the rest goes into dinner-sized boxes in the freezer for those nights when I can’t face cooking. Even so, though, I could never do that plus work, commute, keep a Kondo-clean house, read, run errands, spend time with friends, exercise regularly, have healthful hobbies, and get a proper night’s sleep, even without kids. There might be enough hours but where’s the energy? I grit my teeth every time I see someone recommend that if one is burned out at work, the cure is to do every last one of those things at home.

    42. Alex*

      Each weekend, I want to: clean my house, cook, exercise, and work on my personal projects.

      I usually can succeed at 2-3 of these things. I try to switch up which ones I succeed at each weekend so that everything gets some attention sometimes. I try to make sure that cooking happens each weekend so I have food for the week!

      During the week, I work, exercise (I attend 2-3 classes regularly, and try to work out on my own an additional 2-3 times), and I work on my personal projects in the evening. So a normal day looks like getting up early, working out, going to work, coming home, eating dinner, working on projects, going to sleep. Rinse, repeat.

      I never socialize during the week except maybe 1 phone call to my best friend.

      I don’t have family really so that’s not an issue. I have a couple of local friends that I hang out with maybe once every 3-4 weeks. Sometimes I combine my socializing time with them with working on projects or exercising.

    43. Salymander*

      I put a recumbent stationary bike and a water rower in my living room, so I can do a little exercise here and there, and I pedal while reading, or watching TV with the family.
      Also, I make double and triple batches of things like soups and casseroles, then I freeze them in portions for one or two. I used to do that when at University, as I also worked full time and volunteered. I could come home exhausted, then pull dinner out of the freezer. It worked really well. I do something similar with cookie dough. Make a triple batches, then freeze in cookie sized blobs what I don’t immediately need. Then, when I need cookies for my kid’s class at the last minute (seems like it is always at the last minute), I don’t have to scramble to get it together at 11:00 the night before. Or, I can pull out a small container of cookie dough blobs on a Friday night when my kid has a friend sleeping over. I get to feel all super organized (I’m not, really. Not at all!) without expending much extra effort.

      Then again, I kinda feel like we mostly put too much pressure on ourselves to get everything done, to an impossible standard. It sucks to feel like I am failing at life. Especially because I don’t think I really am failing, it is just that the standards are really high up in fantasy land rather than down here on Earth.

    44. HBJ*

      A few things.

      First, there’s a concept I first heard from a homeschooling mom called the Minimum Viable Homeschooling Day. It’s figuring out the absolute minimum that needs to get done in a day to keep the education moving forward so that they will have learned an acceptable amount by the end of the year. I like adapting the Minimum Viable Day to regular life. What is the minimum to do to feel like I got something done? You don’t have to do everything every day.

      Second, when it comes to cleaning, we all hate that this is true, but it’s easiest to do a little every day. Make a chore chart. Vacuum on Monday, clean the bathroom on Tuesday, etc. Make the bed every day. Everything looks neater. Wash the dishes every day. Wash them after every meal, and if you can’t do that, at least rinse them. Have something nice looking – ottoman that opens, hat boxes, drawer in coffee table, wicker baskets in a bookshelf, etc. where you can toss that random stuff that accumulates on the couch or wherever and then go through it when you get a chance.

      Third, figure out quick meals you like and keep the ingredients on hand. On that topic, keep a notepad on hand to write down a shopping list. It does NOT work to try to remember on shopping day what you used up the last of cooking five days prior. And then meal plan so you have stuff on hand andout so you’re not defrosting meat last minute.

      Finally, plan ahead (for some things) what you want to do, and cut the tech. My husband and I would come home, sit on the couch and suddenly it was 7:30 with no dinner started and nothing done, not even a conversation. Our phones had just sucked the time away. I set a time limit now. First thing when I get on my phone (before unlocking it), I turn on a timer. I cannot use my phone more than 15 minutes at a stretch (looking at it – phone calls, listening to podcasts, etc. doesn’t count against that). I turn off notifications and only check social media twice a day. I went cold turkey doing that, no adjustment to slowly reduce my phone use. It was weird. I magically had so much more time in my day.

    45. smoke tree*

      I think it depends on your expectations and standards for each of these things. I save a lot of time cooking by cooking only once a week, but you have to be okay eating the same thing for multiple days in a row. I also live in a really small apartment so cleaning it doesn’t take a ton of my time. I also chose to live in a city where I can walk and bike everywhere instead of driving. But obviously these are choices that work for me and would be incompatible with other priorities. It’s kind of a question of prioritizing what really matters to you and what success in that area looks like to you.

    46. Gaia*

      I have a full time job, plus I do about 10 hours of “second job” a week. I am single without roommates or kids.

      For me it was all about finding out what was most important to me, what I could do while doing something else (exercise, Netflix, cleaning, cooking), and what absolutely requires dedicated time (maintaining relationships was this for me). Then, I found places where I was wasting time and where I could be more efficient. For example, I have a few shows I love to watch – but they were taking up a few hours each week. So now I watch them while I do a hobby or while I cook (I meal prep each week which saves me a TON of time and $$). I began cleaning as I go. Every time I leave a room, I tidy up a little (straighten cushions, wipe down a counter, etc) so that my weekly clean takes less than 30 minutes. I also got rid of a lot of things I don’t use which means there is less to clean.

      It is a lot of little things that led to me feeling much more in control.

    47. Washi*

      Huh. Until very recently, when I became a full time student, my husband and I worked full time, exercised regularly, cleaned, cooked, and saw friends/family 3-4 times per week, and it felt and continues to feel very normal! I think part of it is that these things double up – my husband and I spend quality time together exercising, often eat with friends, which reduces cooking, and I sometimes run errands with friends as well. We live in a 1-bedroom apartment, and I wipe down counters in the bathroom and kitchen daily, as well as sweep the floor almost daily, and that keeps things looking tidy in between bigger cleanings.

      I think the other factor here is that I have trained myself to enjoy cleaning. It’s a zen/mindfulness thing to me – I don’t multitask, and just really focus on the feeling of taking care of my possessions and space, and how grateful I am to have all these things.

      I don’t know how people do all of that with kids though! I want to have kids but am also very nervous about the wrench they will throw into my orderly and leisurely life.

      1. Agnodike*

        Life with kids is not orderly but it can be very leisurely in a refreshing kind of way. I spent 20 minutes following a butterfly around the neighbourhood with my kid this morning. Having to slow down to baby speed/adapt to the stop-and-go pace of a toddler is a great perspective resetter! Not for everyone, of course, but it’s been great for me since I’ve always been a bit of a control freak, and now I’m definitely more comfortable going with the flow.

        1. Washi*

          Aw, this is so sweet! Sometimes when I read parenting stuff online, it’s so specific and intense about the downsides (you’ll never sleep again! bodily fluids and crumbs everywhere! tantrums! no alone time!) and really vague about the upsides (it’s great! love my kid! can’t imagine life any other way!). Maybe on next week’s thread I’ll ask for specific, positive things about having kids.

          1. Agnodike*

            Listen, sometimes kids are just bedevilled by the spirit of Chaos for some reason and you end up sitting in a pool of Cheerios and snot tearing your hair out and weeping softly, but also they spend a lot of their time overflowing with joy that they just HAVE to share with you, or doing something hilarious, or having an unexpected moment of genuine kindness and compassion, or learning a new skill in a way that makes you really proud and also makes you see an everyday task in a new light, or a million other things that make parenting extremely rewarding.

            If you start that thread, I will post a million examples! Parenting is very very hard and tiring and also I love it very much.

    48. Goldfinch*

      We don’t. My husband and I are having almost-daily arguments about this. We can’t handle everything between work and family dementia care-taking, and he has a prideful blue-collar snobbery about hiring anything out.

      1. Goldfinch*

        ETA: also I think “cooking” is overrated. I eat healthy without making a production out of heating and plating up a main/side/veg. There’s nothing wrong with crudités and nuts for a meal.

    49. Warped One*

      Many years ago there was skit on Saturday Night Live where a perfect housewife was asked this question. She replied, “I take speed.”

      “That wonderful drug that you get from your doctor, and your sister’s doctor, and your best friend’s doctor, and your neighbor, and your neighbor’s best friend’s doctor, and…

    50. Formerly Known As*

      Was that my tweet you read? LOL. Because I tweeted something to that effect very recently.

      This is the great mystery of life that at 40 years old I’m still trying to figure out. I have a very demanding full-time job that often means I work 50 hours a week, working late and/or weekends. I’m single with no kids to take care of, but that also means there’s no partner at home to help out with chores and errands.

      I don’t manage very well. I basically work, come home and scrounge up dinner (often something frozen), maybe watch a little TV or try to read, and fall into bed. My house is a mess and generally stays that way. I can’t afford a housekeeper and would feel weird about someone being in my house anyway.

      I can barely manage to keep my kitchen stocked and keep up with the laundry, much less have a hobby or exercise. Weekends roll around, and I’m so exhausted I sleep or am trying to catch up on all the stuff I didn’t finish during the work week.

    51. londonedit*

      I don’t know…I think I manage it? I live by myself in a small flat, which I guess might help as I don’t have a lot of cleaning to do! I work 8:30-5pm and get home before 6, so I have time to pop to the shops in the evening on my way home. My usual weekday routine is home around 6pm, cook something simple and quick like stir-fried veg and microwave rice, do a quick tidy-up and maybe put a load of washing on if I need to, watch a bit of TV or read for a bit, have a bath, go to bed at about 10pm. Twice a week I get up early and run 5k with friends at 5:45am, so that helps get some exercise in, and once a week I do a Pilates class in the evening. I also run most Saturday and Sunday mornings. Most weekends I have something going on with friends, occasionally I’m out one or two evenings during the week too. Sunday afternoons are my usual cleaning/housework times, when I do the bigger jobs like cleaning the bathroom or washing the bedding or whatever.

    52. Liz*

      I struggle with this as well, and I am single too and no pets, so it’s just me and me alone. Which is good and bad. Good in that if something doesn’t get done, i.e. an errand, cleaning etc. it impacts no one but me. Bad in that there isn’t anyone, spouse, partner, kids to help out with “all the things” that need to get done, and its ALL on me alone. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve learned to relax and let more things go. I may or may not always eat healthy, I may or may not always manage exercise, I may or may not always manage to clean when things really need to be cleaned. And I don’t beat myself up about things that I don’t get done that may need to.

      I also sell on the side, on Poshmark, and other sites. But unlike many who do it full time, I do it when I can. So that too sometimes get pushed to the back burner. At the end of the day, whatever it is, will still be there tomorrow.

  2. Bilateralrope*

    Weird update for you. Last week I was looking for advice on mp3 players due to my current one being damaged.

    It doesn’t look damaged any more. The lines of dead pixels across the screen have come back to life.

    Can anyone explain this ?

    1. greenthumb*

      Great news! Did you power it off and leave it sit, by any chance? Sometimes depriving a piece of electronics of power for a while can do amazing things. If you hadn’t done a full shut down in a while, it may have needed one, and/or is it possible a software update downloaded in the background?

      1. Bilateralrope*

        They didn’t all come right suddenly. The black lines thinned over some time, with some pixels in the line going green before going fully back to normal. It might have been going a bit faster while it was charging.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      In that case they probably weren’t dead pixels (those are unfixable to my knowledge) but for some reason not refreshing properly.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Electronic devices are psychic. It knew you were thinking about replacing it and pulled itself together.

      How else do you explain long, complicated Word documents behaving perfectly well right up until you try to print them or turn them in, at which point they magically turn into corrupted disasters?

      1. Bilateralrope*

        I have had computers that had problems that were probably due to age. Right up until the day after I ordered a replacement. Then they suddenly performed fine.

      2. Rebecca*

        That made me laugh!! Confession: I don’t have to type up too many actual letters any longer, mostly I use email and Excel, and I have crafted a “letter” in Excel because I dreaded trying to appease the Word Gods long enough to actually get a good printed document. It’s just too hard sometimes!! Especially if I have to add a graphic of some sort. “Oh, this looks good, let’s put this little picture right here.” Click. All of a sudden, extra pages, things are awry and it’s UNDO UNDO!!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There’s a reason so many cultures had trickster gods–Loki, Coyote, and Anansi being three I can think of offhand.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Ha! If Clippy was an avatar of Anansi, does that make him a bug in the operating system?

    4. Anonomoose*

      Yup, dodgy contacts or wiring would cause this. It’s fine, but the odds are the little tiny connector for that row of pixels is not quite right. I’ve had a little luck fixing this on nothing left to lose devices with some gentle heat, but it equally might kill the device

      1. Bilateralrope*

        When you say gentle heat, how warm are you talking ?

        Because I know that batteries do heat up slightly while charging, and the line was coming right faster if I left it charging all day instead of just for an hour or so before work.

    5. SaraV*

      I have a friend whose job is to fix tech-y things, and she told me how at her work they have the saying PFM. Such as “How’d you get that machine working?” “PFM….Pure Effin’ Magic.”

  3. downunderer*

    I posted a few weeks back about my ill brother in Germany – just wanted to update as people’s comments and advice really helped at the time. My brother passed away Wednesday, fortunately a family member was able to get there hours before he died and spend good time with him and be there when he peacefully passed. Still navigating the German bureaucracy but I just wanted to pass on my thanks to those here that so kindly commented and gave advice.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m very sorry about your brother. I hope that the next few weeks are easy to navigate for you.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad though that his passing was peaceful and someone was there.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Very sorry for your loss. I am glad someone was there with him. I am glad you were able to find some help here, I love this Saturday forum as we see some amazing things here. This is a prime example.

    4. Myrin*

      I remember your original comment (I think I even replied? I’m not sure) and wanted to express my sincere condolences. I hope you’re taking good care of yourself. And please, if any further questions come up with time, don’t hesitate to ask here again! (I’m German and my grandma died two years ago, so I’m relatively familiar with all the going-ons surrounding death here.)

    5. Policy wonk*

      I ‘m sorry for your loss. The embassy in Germany should be able to help you with the bureaucracy. (unless your brother was military, in which case they will handle it.)

  4. greenthumb*

    PoGo thread. How is everyone doing with that painful new quest? If you managed to get the metal/psychic thing down, one of the things around the corner is not one not two but THREE excellent curveball throws *sobs*

    Moral being, you may not want to waste the Ponyta and big fire lava dudes you may earn in field research. Run from them so they will be in your saved rewards and you can knock ‘em off. I burned through mine yesterday trying to get a Spinda.

    1. KimberlyInOhio*

      I’m surpassingly lame and my Special research tab is all full of gym battles and raids, which I don’t do, and “Battle another Trainer in the Great League,” which I’ve never heard of. Thankfully, I still have one research section I can do with the Shadow Pokemon. But the other ones might just have to sit there forever. Can’t delete those like the Field research ones.

      1. Shiny alolan raichu*

        Some of the tasks you can do by just joining a raid then leaving, is that an option? You can use the free passes .

        Have you got any friends in the game? Once you’re ultra friends you can battle them from a distance. Go into your friends tab, click on a friend then battle instead of sending a gift. It’s by far the most reliable way to get sinnoh stones as a reward so you can get the last evolutions.

      2. greenthumb*

        If you’re my friend, I’m happy to battle! Great league is for pokecritters who are 1500CP or lower. It is fun to see the random half-forgotten Flygons and Furrets strut their stuff. Folks can battle at a distance when they hit ultra-friend status, which probably a number of folks here who friended each other before summer already are.

    2. Shiny alolan raichu*

      It took me like two full weeks to get the spinda from first getting the task and it wasn’t even shiny ;)

      I’m ok with the excellent curveballs. At least it’s not consecutive. I do feel like this special research is taking FOREVER. I burned through all the previous ones quite fast but it took ages to find the third whismuir, psychic/steel is taking ages and yeah it’ll take a little while for the excellent curveballs. hey ho.

      Got an ex raid this afternoon!! It’s been ages since my last one (January!) and I don’t even know what the boss is. Exciting times.

      1. greenthumb*

        Congrats on the Spinda. Seem to remember they were easier a while ago. Did it used to be 5 consecutive nice throws? As for psychic, Natu qualifies, figured that out after skipping a half-dozen of them. Found a whismur nest outside a movie theater, not sure if that was coincidence. I’ve been getting streaks of 3 or 4 great curves on gligars (no shiny yet) but did score a shiny alolan sandshrew thanks to an egg from an AAM friend.

        1. Shiny alolan raichu*

          Yeah it used to be something easy/at least in comparison. Natu has been getting me through the psychics, that’s the only one that’s been showing up regularly. Finally through that now. So jealous of shiny alolan sandshrew!

          1. greenthumb*

            Just checked. He is from Columbus, Ohio and looks like he’s assembled from igloo pieces with a blue glacier tummy!

    3. LGC*

      Hey, I mean Wailmers still exist for your excellent curveball needs…

      (depending on your location! Like, I know in Jersey City, there’s a ton of them on the Walkway just south of Hoboken Terminal.)

      I’m still getting back into things. Need to make a few friends, though! (This is how far behind I am on my special research.)

        1. LGC*

          I might have a long commute, but I try to make it fun!

          But seriously though, if you have any large rivers close by (or you live by an ocean), they’re really easy to get excellent throws on.

      1. Shiny alolan raichu*

        I’m in the UK so that’s a bit far to travel for wailmers, haha. There used to be a nest next to my bus stop, it was ace. Not seen any for weeks now.

    4. Book Lover*

      I am waiting for spinning two more days. I think I got the excellents just in the course of regular throws – a week is a good amount of time and stuff happens by happy accident sometimes :)

    5. GingerNinge11*

      I’m still stuck on step two because it’s taking me ages to get enough candy to evolve my Feebas :(

      1. greenthumb*

        Have you had any luck collecting and hatching 10k eggs? A good quarter of the ones I’ve hatched this week have Feebases (Feebasi? Feebi?) and the candy drop seems higher than usual. Not sure if that is because I’m on an island and most of my stops are within a couple miles of ocean?

        1. Shiny alolan raichu*

          I’ve not hatched a single feebas this week! I’ve got plenty of candy though (sorry).

    6. MinotJ*

      I’m okay with all parts of various quests – except for trading. Most people in my day-to-day life would be amazed that I play Pokémon Go, and I’m soooooo embarrassed of my habit. When I finally managed to trade with one discreet coworker for an earlier quest, she laughed her butt off because I’d secretly gotten to the mid-30’s.

      This also causes a problem with raids. Sometimes I can sneak into a multiple-person raid when I’m at a big airport, but otherwise I’m stuck with raids level 3 or below.

      I found a YouTube video that showed how to properly throw curveballs. Now every ball I throw is a curveball and my accuracy has really improved. I probably get a few excellent curveball throws per week now.

      And a big “Thank You!” To AAM friends who battled me from a distance!

      1. greenthumb*

        Love it. I am a raid-sneak too. Finally soloed an alolan Raichu last week. Ouch.

        I have an ultra friend on my island (don’t know her IRL) and she sent me an ex raid invite. I reciprocated when I got one. I could tell by a gift that evening that she was in the area for the raid, but we didn’t end up on the same team.

        How are you getting the long- distance PvP battling to work? I’ve clicked on a few friends who have the blue halo but nothing happens…

      2. Cruciatus*

        I say own it! I was a little embarrassed at first, but on my lunch breaks it gets me out and about. I’ve actually met some coworkers that work in other departments because of playing (it’s always obvious who is playing based on how they are standing (at a gym or a Pokestop). We try to help each other out when we can (like not knocking them out of a gym right away, but kicking them out the next day so they can just get their 50 coins), and trades, and battles. Some coworkers roll their eyes when they hear me and another coworker talking about the game (I mean, it does sound ridiculous. “I have a lot of eggs to hatch and I can’t afford more incubators and I got kicked out of a gym, but I had some good raids today, but I never get anything shiny!”) but the game gets me walking during lunch, during the weekends, etc. It’s the longest I’ve ever played any game! I’ve even hesitated starting to play the Harry Potter version because I don’t want to stop the progress I’ve made!

        Maybe search for groups that play locally on Discord? I am in a local group and actually one for the larger city nearby. People post questions and get answers from a lot of the players that are more experienced, they post when and where they’ll be raiding and just other useful game information. It’s likely that’s true where you live as well. My game has improved a lot just reading some of the conversations people have, and just discovering tricks like typing 4* in the search window on the Pokemon bag will show you all your perfect Pokemon, or you can just search shiny, or steel, or electric, etc. Just stuff like that.

        1. Shiny alolan raichu*

          +1 on all this. Why be ashamed?! I posted on our wellbeing Yammer group to see if anyone played – exercise, fresh air, social contact, it’s totally a wellbeing thing. Now I have another 6 friends or so which is getting me xp as we level up and it’s other people to send gifts to and chat to about it.

      3. Shiny alolan raichu*

        YMMV, but where I live if you turn up in the city centre at the time a raid egg hatches, you will 95% of the time be able to win the raid as there will be plenty of people there.

    7. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      There’s something called ‘circle lock’ that helps you keep the circle in place so you know where it is. I haven’t researched how to do it yet, but saw it mentioned on my PoGo Discord.

      Speaking of – there are TONS of PoGo Discords out there! I’m in one that has bots to help report raids (people still have to report, but it’s fairly automated), wild spawns of rarer pokemon, and special research! They also have channels to facilitate friend codes and trading. I found it via the Facebook group for my cjty.

    8. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We went on vacation last week, and whenever we went through a town I have would turn it on to get my spins. Funny, I turned on on a lark while we were hiking one of the trails in Avenue of the Giants and the whole trail was mapped out in PoGo! There were even a couple of Pokestops! But as soon as we left the trail, no more internet! It was odd. We figured that there was a cell tower bidding in the trees.

      1. Susan S. Helit*

        Hi all!

        I just started playing again after a looong break and I’m looking for some friends. My friend code is:

        4525 1737 2658

        Feel free to add me :)

    9. Shiny alolan raichu*

      OH MY GOD I’ve had the most successful day.
      -Did an ex raid and caught speed deoxys (only defence type still to catch and they’re coming to normal raids soon)
      -hatched a second unown and nearly died of excitement
      -caught a shiny sentret
      -hatched a shiny lapras (so excited I nearly peed)
      -hatched a 100% snorunt
      -and hatched a riolu so finally evolved lucario

      And a load of team go rocket pokéstops and loads of gym possession and just wow. Also level 39 and on 4,865,146XP so getting so very close to level 40!!

      I have to say I spent £11 on the game so I could get the big box with all the incubators. I didn’t have unown before this week and now I have two (U and A). 65 eggs I’ve hatched this week!! Ridiculous.

      1. Shiny alolan raichu*

        My weekend got even better. Hatched a third unown and leveled up to level 40. My only problem now is that with all the items you get for getting to level 40 I’m 100 items over my box limit and can’t spin pokéstops any more. Oh how I laughed.

    10. greenthumb*

      Reporting back to say I got my Spinda the old-fashioned way, by dodging the grazers in Costco and going Remoraid-Houndor-Houndor-Houndor-stockpiled Ponyta with red balls and no berries. Then when I went to admire it at home, thought I’d mistaken it for a Sentret and dumped it. Turned out I’d stockpiled it for curveball excellent attempt tomorrow.

      Also so apparently Nincadas (Nincadi?) are in 10k eggs?

      1. greenthumb*

        We work for the Professor, measure our walks/bikes/runs in KM, and get incredibly enthralled with our pocket monsters.

    11. Julia*

      Thank you for the warning! I am almost done with the 50 psychic or steel types and incidentally just picked up two “make three excellent throws in a row” tasks (one slot has to stay open so I can complete something each day), and now I’ll wait to attempt those until I reach the next stage of the special research. Oh boy…

    12. Shiny alolan raichu*

      Don’t forget to get all the 10k eggs you can before 1pm PDT tomorrow if you want a chance of unown.

      1. greenthumb*


        But the wording is muddy. It could be read as the eggs have to *hatch* by then to be Unown. I filled up on 10k eggs and am gonna try to get them walked without spinning anything until 10 am so just in case the 10s have to hatch and the 7s won’t morph into regionals until the cutover, it’ll work.

        Also, forgot how much fun Gligars are to hunt. Managed to knock off the excellent curves with them and a Sentret.

    1. Catherine*

      In summer it’s absolutely warm enough for me, though I use it over a sheet anyway since it’s a pain to clean. (Disclaimer: It gets very hot in the summer here and I’m too cheap to cool my apartment below 25C.)
      In winter, it’s perfect on top of a thick comforter.

      1. Fran*

        Thanks. I just received mine and had a quick nap. It seems warm enough but where I live gets really cold on the winter so later I might add a regular blanket.

    2. Tess*

      I use my weighted blanket year round. On top of another blanket – even a thin coverlet in summer – it can get quite warm. In the winter atop a thick comforter it can get VERY warm. I’ve never tried sleeping directly under the weighted blanket, so I can’t speak to that. For reference, I’m a woman who is almost always cold and am quite petite. If I find it this warm, I suspect many people would find it intolerable. My boyfriend often gets too hot and has to remove the weighted blanket.

      1. Numbersgirl*

        I bought a Cool ax weighted blanket and it was way too warm for me with just the sheet. I love the concept, but I can’t be waking up in a puddle. :(

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      It is! I have an empty duvet cover on top, but that’s mostly for aesthetic purposes.

      Granted I’ve only had mine during the summer months but I like to keep it at arctic temperatures to sleep, so hopefully that means it will be warm enough in winter too.

      My weighted blanket is also cooling/breathable – my husband gets really hot (I apparently give off a lot of heat too when I sleep which doesn’t help) but he doesn’t kick the blanket off like he did with a regular comforter.

    4. Mid*

      Right now I have mine and a sheet. I also made sure to get one that was 100% cotton when helps ensure I don’t overheat. I have so many blankets that I’m not worried about winter at all

      1. Doctor is In*

        I found I liked just a sheet between me and the weighted blanket,otherwise it did not feel as “heavy” to me. Then add more layers as needed in cool weather. It did not make me too hot; mine is cotton.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I haven’t been able to use mine as much as I wanted because it’s too hot. But it came with a heavier slipcover on. I actually just took it off today, so hopefully it will be more comfortable tonight.

      I have the fabric for a lightweight cover, just too many projects in the queue.

      Mine is mini glass beds, BTW.

    6. Alexandra Lynch*

      Mine is warm enough if I wear clothing to bed. But we are upstairs in a house with efficient central heating. (grin)
      As it gets towards winter, we may switch out for a duvet cover that has some insulative capacity.

      We don’t use ours with sheets because that got really annoying to cope with when we were using regular bedding, since we each had our own pile. There are cotton covers on the blankets, and I have extras; once a week I change the bottom sheet, and change the covers, and wash the covers with the sheets. The weighted blankets themselves hang over chairs and couches to air out, and then get fresh covers put on them. We have a decorative quilt that goes on the bed in the daytime for pretty.

    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I find mine a little too warm, actually — I have a Gravity blanket, and along with the weights it’s got a fair bit of batting in it. Definitely too warm in the summer, slightly too warm in the winter.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Still mostly fanfiction for me, but I should have more time next week to work on my main projects again.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m on fanfiction as well at the moment as I’m toying with an idea for a novel and doing some basic research on the topic, so I’m not writing anything original at the moment.

    2. poetry writing*

      They just announced masterclasses with some of my favorite poets this fall. You have to apply and I am working hard to not psych myself out and apply anyway because there is nothing to lose (the application is free even, even if the class itself is not). Nothing I’ve written seems good enough but then I think other people have liked and said good things about some of my poems. Have to keep those negative voices out.

    3. Hazy days*

      Great! I’m pulling together some of my poems into a short and focused collection – very interesting to look at my poems as a body of work, see where there’s overlap, what’s distinctive, how I tell a story of progression across multiple poems, and so on.

    4. the curator*

      Thank you for this thread. Its great to check in. Took the weekend off of everything. Had a four hour nap today. Academic article that I had been working on the last four weekends turned in. Waiting for editorial comments. Published book ready, will work on marketing stuff next week. https://www.lib.umn.edu/publishing/writingboxes

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I’m almost done with Child of Light, I think. It really is such a charming, beautiful game.
    And because this has come up a few times: yes, phone games count too. So if you want to share how you *finally* got past that one difficult level in Candy Crush or something, feel free! There’s no judging here, and gatekeeping is bovine fecal matter anyway.

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      I’ve decided to put games on hold so I could pursue a longtime passion of mine – game programming.

      This week, I finished developing my first “practice” game. Then I played it for a while!

      So in answer to your question, a crappy little game called “Money Hou$e”. lol

    2. Lonely Aussie*

      I’ve started playing WoW classic with a few mates from my MC server, it’s been a bit of a learning curve. I’m loving the fact you don’t lose your stuff if you aren’t quick enough to get back to it. Not super great at fighting but we’ve working our way through the quests.
      Also got a few rounds of PUBG in with another server mate. I missed playing in the hype (potato laptop had no chance of running it) of it when it was released and normally fps don’t interest me but I’ve been enjoying it. Totally suck at it, managed to get a kill in last night though (the fact I was slain 3 seconds later doesn’t count lol) which was awesome.
      Need to get some work in on the MC server, just lacking motivation, one of the farms I built in an earlier release is broken as all hell and I’m not sure if it’s fixable. Looks like 1.15 is coming soonish so not sure it’s worth rushing into a fix, especially as most of us are WoWing.

    3. Rebecca*

      I am so low level in the gaming world :) I play Candy Crush (level 2150’ish) and Farm Heroes Saga (level 1060’ish). I sign in daily and stock up on boosters if I’m on an especially hard level (for me) and if I get really frustrated, I use The Google to see what others have done to get past. I don’t buy too many boosters, and limit my spending to one purchase per month under $5. Confession: the sheep baa’ing in Farm Heroes Saga makes me smile!

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m back into Hyrule Warriors again. I really love doing the adventure maps, there’s something really satisfying to me to unlock all of the pieces of the maps and earn all of the upgrades/weapons/rewards.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I’ve made a lot of progress in Sunless Skies, including finding a new and interesting way to lose a captain, and I finally got to try out Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

      This week I formally accepted an offer with a new job, so I’m counting the days until I allow myself to get a Nintendo Switch as a reward (it’ll be with my first paycheck). Since it’s going to include a significant raise, I’m going to splurge and get the full Switch instead of the Lite. Even though everything I’m likely to get will probably be fine in handheld mode, it’ll be nice to sit in a different posture sometimes.

        1. Nicki Name*

          I’ve had a lot more fun with Sunless Skies— it felt like I never made any long-term forward progress in Sunless Seas. It’s nice to see the occasional callbacks to Seas though.

          1. Blue Horizon*

            Hmm. This makes me think I should try Skies sometime. I liked a lot of things about Sunless Sea but was put off by the issue you mention.

            1. Nicki Name*

              The inheritance mechanic is a LOT more forgiving in Skies. Every time I’ve lost a captain (3 now), I’ve gotten to keep my upgraded engine, most of my equipment, all of my current map, and about half my money.

              The messages when it happens suggest that there is a chance of losing the engine, the map, etc. but it’s not at all like Sea where you could only pick one thing to keep.

              1. Blue Horizon*

                I actually had no issue with the difficulty level in Seas as I’m pretty used to the roguelike play style where early characters are disposable and the main advancement mechanism is knowledge and information (in fact I tended to start over from the beginning if I hadn’t played in a while, because it made the game more interesting).

                My main problem was that it was two games in one: a large collection of interrelated interactive text stories, and a graphical exploration game about going from point A to point B (with a bit of combat thrown in on occasion). I got tired of the second game much quicker than the first, but you couldn’t complete the first without playing the steam-from-A-to-B game a LOT in order to visit all the points required in the correct order. I ended up wishing I’d been able to play just the steam-from-A-to-B game for maybe 10-20 hours until I got tired of it, and do all the rest in Fallen London style text browser game format. Essentially I liked all the parts but I didn’t feel they fit together properly.

                1. Blue Horizon*

                  Thanks. I’ll keep an eye on it anyway (sometimes steaming through the dark in ‘Sea’ and listening to the different musical themes phase in and out along the way could be just the thing) but I’ll probably be selective about when I get it and how long I play it for, if I do.

                  I remember they had problems during early development for ‘Sea’ because people would go out and explore, get killed, think ‘oh, I guess I shouldn’t have done that’ and play more cautiously the next time. Then they’d get trapped in repetitive low-risk play styles (like Tomb Colonies passenger runs) that barely covered expenses, get disillusioned, decide the game was too hard, and quit. In fact there were about half a dozen highly rewarding puzzles and storylets that could be completed within the first hour or so once you knew about them. Discovering those and figuring out how to complete them was risky and involved longer voyages and typically a few deaths, but once you’d done it you had access to an instant jump-start for all subsequent captains, and could eventually skip much of the early bootstrapping phase entirely. They added the splash screen text about taking risks to try and encourage people to adopt that play style, but I don’t think it was universally successful.

    6. CatCat*

      I am replaying Red Dead Redemption 2. The first time, I played Arthur as a good guy (or, as good a guy as he can be). And now I’m not playing him as a really bad guy. He’s just the worst.

    7. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      Been playing State of Decay lately! Trying out the Dread and Nightmare difficulty levels. I play with my partner, usually, in co-op, but weirdly I’ve found that the Nightmare mode is just not much fun in co-op! It’s brutal, and there’s pretty much no point in making any noise at all, so to me the fun way to play is full stealth. Which, like, that’s not the way I’ve ever played SoD before. But stealth is just not as fun in co-op!

      I played solo for the first time and spent like an hour trying to loot one particular store because I really needed food, but the door was jammed (which means you have to break in, which makes noise) and there were like 2 herds nearby, so I ended up breaking open the door and immediately running away, but then some ferals were on me and I wound up climbing a nearby water tower… anyway, stuff that I found fun and satisfying, but if I’d been playing with my guy, we probably would have ended up trying to fight the herds, might have killed a couple of our characters, or the plan would have gone wrong because one of us idly shoots the wrong zombie because we’re waiting for the other one to finish doing some random thing, etc etc.

    8. Nessun*

      Super excited for the next story release for Guild Wars 2! Looking forward to next weekend – got a 3 day weekend and it drops on Tuesday. In the meantime, trying to figure out what gear to craft next.

    9. Platypus Enthusiast*

      I’m thinking about playing through fire emblem three houses again, but hesitating, because I’d be choosing a different house which makes me feel like I’ll be abandoning all the people from my previous house? I’ve gotten too emotionally attached!

    10. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Merge Dragons is my addiction. Still playing PoGo, but just enough to get/send gifts & hatch eggs.

      1. Nessun*

        Oh MD is annoying!! I play and play and then there’s no more land but I need more dragons! I spend way too much time on the events, trying to get more eggs – I hit a point where it’s just a slog for more energy to open more land and farm dead plants… Yeah, addicted.

        1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

          Omg, right? I absolutly HATED the merge 5 combo a few events ago. It was really laggy and difficult. The regular merge 5 camp events are easy peasy, as that’s what I try to do anyway. I was really happy when they updated it that you would get credit for 10, 20, 25 etc!
          I totally don’t ever play in the middle of the night when I wake up to go pee.

          1. Nessun*

            I think the events in big worlds
            outside camp are designed as a cash grab…they require spending money to open some areas so I leave those parts alone. But that means the best I’ll get is award 5 (maybe 6, if I hustle and have no other weekend plans!).

    11. CherryScary*

      Fire Emblem Three Houses! Just got to the time skip this week (Blue Lions route) and I have All The Feelings about a character who has been declared dead (but offscreen death, so hoping he’s not officially gone…)

      I’ve never gotten very far in a fire emblem game before, but the cast of this one has been quite charming to keep me going. Playing on casual because I’m not a very good tactician.

      1. Platypus Enthusiast*

        I played Golden Deer first, but Blue Lions is what I’m planning on doing for my second run through. I don’t know who you selected to enter the dance contest, but if you didn’t select Dmitri- look up the dialogue. You will not regret it. I saw it on Twitter and quite literally choked on my coffee while laughing.

    12. Jackalope*

      My husband got me hooked on Skyrim after many years of not gaming. (Slightly mixed feelings bcs I enjoyed the free time I had when not gaming but it is indeed fun.) Some friends of his had given him a longterm loan of their PlayStation and the game so I started on that but it was having a lot of issues (getting to the point where it would freeze up every 15-20 min, if I went into the water at ALL it would freeze every time, etc.), so wasn’t able to finish. He got a shiny new version for me a few months ago and so I am trying to a) get back to where I had been in game 1, and b) try some of the quests I passed by the first time (or just couldn’t do bcs they involved water; see above). Yesterday I spent a pleasant hour or so wandering around the Morthal countryside looking for plants and also finding all sorts of other fun things too. Today I completed a couple of quests and did some nice leveling up, plus found some of the word walls for my favorite Shouts.

    13. Julia*

      I’ve been “playing” the Sims 4 again – I tend to play in waves and then stop for a while – and have finally mostly completed my reasonably sized penthouse to fit my likes. Now I’m stuck trying to make a turtle-shaped beach house, and the game is glitching on me. Wondering whether to get the new game pack, which might entice me to actually play instead of just build lol.

    1. valentine*

      why would I need your pronouns for emails?
      It’s a great way to let people know before you interact and you may need to refer to them in the email chain. The honorifics don’t express gender.

  7. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I finished A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra and We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and, right now I’m reading I Await the Devil’s Coming by Mary MacLane.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve switched between three books in the last couple weeks and it’s annoying me, because I can’t get into any of them. My favorite authors don’t have any new books at the moment, so I’m stuck trying out random books, either through Kindle Unlimited or the library.

      I started out with Hard Hit by JB Turner (it’s a series and I’ve read the other books). Then I switched to Recursion by Blake Crouch. Then I was reading Murder by Misrule by Anne Castle. Last night I finally went back to Hard Hit. It’s not a spectacular series, but it’s good enough that I can get through it and be mostly interested.

      I think it’s time to visit my Good Reads list and pick something from there.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’ve never had luck at my local library. It seems to be lots of self-help books, outdated cookbooks, etc. These days I read everything electronically anyway so I stopped going.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      I’m reading The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald, which is funnier and FAR more racist than I was led to believe. I think I’ll finish it off and then I have a couple spooky fall books lined up.

      1. fposte*

        I was just talking about that book to somebody; we both had read it young and we remembered racism but not how much. I like a lot of mid-century humor (Jean Kerr set my tastes early on) and also good rural life tales (I want to go back to read The Hills Is Lonely sometime), but it does tend to contain poison pills.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          It’s a bit of a pain, because I really do love the style and feel of a lot of pre-turn of the century to midcentury books, but the racism can sometimes just smack you in the face, you know?

    3. PowerRanger*

      Journey to the Center of the Earth. I read it as a teenager. I can’t believe the amount of science and languages he included in it. It’s amazing.

    4. cat socks*

      Currently reading The Summer Country by Lauren Willig. Pretty good so far. It takes place in Barbados in the 1800s. I visited Barbados last year so I recognize some of the places mentioned.

      Also I’m trying the Libby app for the first time, but not sure if I like it. I might go back to Overdrive.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Finishing The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison. Very good, and I highly recommend her short story collection How Long ‘Til Black Future Month to anyone looking to check out a new sci fi/fantasy author. Her purgatory of people in little resetting isolated timeline boxes still haunts me.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Are you me?

        Listened to Black Futures Month a few months ago and enjoyed it enough to listen to The Fifth Season on a recent vacation. I liked it a lot except I was disappointed that The Fifth Season ended unresolved. Or Now that I think about it, the main storyline (there were 3) was unresolved, but it was well written and engaging so I will be back for book 2 and probably 3.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m halfway through the fourth Dark Tower book by Stephen King. I’m really into the story and the characters but I know everything is going to go wrong so it’s also stressful waiting for that shoe to drop ha.

      1. MMB*

        My son and I read the series together when he was in highschool. Ten years later he still has not forgiven me or Stephen King for the ending!

    7. StellaBella*

      Will Storr’s book, “The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science”. It is LOL funny in parts and maddening and interesting.

    8. Rebecca*

      I just started Sleeping Beauties on audio last night while mowing the lawn. Already hooked, and I’m going to investigate Hugh Howey further after reading the Wool Omnibus. And waiting patiently for The Testaments.

    9. Joie De Vivre*

      Not reading exactly –

      but people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area – Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You, is going to be at the North Richland Hills library Wednesday, Oct 16.

      I read her book based on recommendations from people in this group. It was really good & thought provoking.

    10. Pumpkineater*

      I’m read an Advanced Readers Copy of The Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall. It’s a nicely creepy ghost story, very Blair Witch Project vibes. I’ve been slow to read it as it releases at the end of September and I was supposed to finish it and post my review a week ago so I’m quickly catching up. It’s a great read so far and I definitely recommend anyone looking for a spooky read this October to pick it up.

    11. Jaid*

      Just finished a Chinese danmei, The Legendary Master’s Wife. 700 plus chapters online. It’s a fun fantasy read.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It was fundraising sale at our local library… I am forcing myself to finish Dracula before I can dive into my HG Wells collection. I also picked up the Lord of the Rings audio book set so I will be commuting with Tolkien soon.

    13. Zephy*

      I’m revisiting the Foundation trilogy this week. I’m about 40% of the way through Foundation; I have the omnibus edition that has Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation in a single volume.

      I like reading old scifi like Asimov, but sometimes there are just lines that upset my Delicate Feminist Sensibilities ™ and take me out of the story for a minute. Like an early exchange in the first chapter of Foundation, where a character is asked how many people belong to a group he has formed, the answer he gives is orders of magnitude off from what the asker suggests, and the rebuttal to that is “I believe you are counting women and children.” Because those aren’t people, obviously. /s

      If you have any recommendations for scifi works or authors in a similar vein that write women as people, I’m all ears. Bonus points if the authors are in fact themselves women.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I haven’t actually read any of her work yet, though I do have The Dispossessed and Earthsea on my shelf, but Ursula K. Le Guin is the first sci-fi author that jumps to my mind to fulfil your criteria. Octavia E. Butler is also very good – I loved Kindred by her. It was just so good.

        The problem with old scifi is that it very much doesn’t write women well. Even Ray Bradbury, whose short stories I enjoy, doesn’t write them well.

        1. Zephy*

          I’ve dipped my toe into LeGuin before, I just hadn’t gotten around to giving her a proper look. Guess I have to, now. Butler, too.

          And yeah, I know I’m going to have a hard time with most 20th-century-and-older fiction of any flavor, science or otherwise. Like, I love Lord of the Rings, I’ve read it multiple times. There are three entire women in the whole 1200-page affair. Thankfully there aren’t multi-page tirades about how inferior women are whenever one of them is on screen, but they also don’t do much? Like, okay, Eowyn gets the drop on the Witch King. That’s it, that’s the one cool thing someone without a penis gets to do in these books, and even then, Merry helps.

          1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

            Hey, Lobelia Sacksville-Baggins totally attacked a guy with her umbrella! She lost, but that was still cool. I have a weird fondness for her.

      2. Just a Guy in A Cube*

        From that era, you’re going to get more short stories – James Tiptree Jr/Alice Sheldon is a name to look for, and the VanderMeer’s Sisters of the Revolution is a good recent anthology.

        The trouble with “like Asimov but where women are people” is that my recollection is even his men aren’t that fleshed out – to the extent that you’re looking for ideas but not characters (which I do love – and Hal Clement’s Heavy Planet is my go to comfort read of that genre, but it’s also entirely male), more recent SF beers away from that. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice trilogy is pretty high concept & might be up your alley. Nisi Shawl’s Everfair is Steampunk and the era is the Belgian Congo, but a nice mix of characters & ideas. Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series (Starting with “A Closed And Common Orbit”) is space opera heavy on character & feelings. Also definitely take a look at Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut books … started with a Short story, then I think a couple novellas in the same universe, and the first full novel in the series just won the Hugo.

      3. Jackalope*

        Okay, how old-time sci-fi are you looking for? Elizabeth Moon and Lois McMaster Bujold both have some pretty good sci-fi series (they also have fantasy which I personally like better but may not be your thing, and EMoon has a few stand alone sci-fi books as well – I really liked Remnant Population in particular, and the protagonist is a woman). Barbary by Vonda McIntyre was my gateway drug into sci-fi and I still like it. (She has some other good stuff too.) AC Crispin founded the Starbridge series, of which I greatly enjoyed the first 5 books (only the first book was written by her; the others had different authors, and books 6 & 7, which I where I think the series ended, were pretty meh in my mind). Zenna Henderson’s novels of The People (a race of human-like aliens that landed on Earth) is good, although the conflict tends to be wrapped up too quickly. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is lovely and innovative, although very modern in its sensibilities. Sharon Shinn mostly writes romantic fantasy novels but she has a few crossover books that are sci-fi (Wrapt in Crystal and Jenna Starborn come to mind).

        Okay, that’s a lot; hope that gives you some ideas. All of the above authors are women and the majority have female protagonists in some or all of their books.

        (I give a shoutout as well to Alexander Key. His stuff is often more considered young adult, and it’s getting harder to find. Part of this is that he was TERRIBLE at conclusions; one of his books ended seriously right in the middle of the climax. I mean, who does that??? But his utopian ideas have haunted me my whole life, and I loved some of is books. Escape From Witch Mountain is his most famous thanks to Disney; there’s also The Forgotten Door, and I think my other favorite was The Magic Meadow. Hard to find these days but worth it if you can, or at least that’s how I remember them. He had both male and female protagonists and I don’t remember any misogyny. Probably some older ideas about gender since he was born in 1904 or thereabouts, but it didn’t stand out to me and I was born clutching my feminist card in my tiny wrinkled fist, that’s how long I’ve been a feminist, so nothing too bad in any of the books that I read, at least…)

        1. Fikly*

          Seconding the Bujold rec – if you don’t want to dive into her massive Vorkosigan series, her latest entry in the series, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, can probably be read reasonably standalone, and features a truly fabulous older woman as the main character. But I highly recommend the whole series.

          A white cis male author who write surprisingly good women (he is often compared to Heinlein) is John Scalzi. I recommend Old Man’s War as a jumping off point.

      4. Blue Horizon*

        I’ve had that experience as well (I’m male, but apparently I have Delicate Feminist Sensibilities™ too and John Wyndham was too much for them).

        Le Guin is very good, especially if you can find the Earthsea series with the commentary she wrote (this is fantasy, but she wrote a lot of sci fi as well). You need to bear in mind that it was written over several decades, the first three books featured her largely following the high fantasy traditions, before she returns to subvert them all starting with the fourth book. Her comments on why the earlier books turned out the way they did and why she changed direction are interesting to read, and highlight the evolving literary landscape during that time. Her sci fi and short fiction tends to have an anthropological flavor (especially the Hainish cycle) and her favorite technique is to invent a society with non-standard structure, culture, gender norms etc. and then tease out the implications of that.

        I haven’t seen anybody mention Andre Norton yet. She wrote mostly for young adults and a lot of her work is pretty dated now, but she’s generally considered one of the pioneers of the genre. Because of the era she wrote in, she maintains pretty strong protective coloration (male pen name, mostly male protagonists) but the women that do appear in her books are generally real people.

        1. Blue Horizon*

          Re: Asimov, I am definitely not blind to his flaws, but my absolute favorite thing about him is when he has one of his characters suddenly declare that they have solved a puzzle or mystery, and then lay out a meticulously reasoned theory that explains all the available facts and observations and is nonetheless utterly and completely wrong. I never got tired of reading those.

    14. Foreign Octopus*

      All right, I lied. I tried reading I Await the Devil’s Coming (this is my second attempt at reading it), but I got thirty pages in and just couldn’t do it any more. I’ve set it aside and picked up Animal Farm by George Orwell instead. I’m surprised at how much shorter it is that I was expecting. My copy of the book is only 94 pages, so I’m hoping to read it all in one sitting.

    15. Llama Face!*

      I just finished reading Vessel by Lisa Nichols and enjoyed it. It’s a lighter on the science side sci-fi book involving a female astronaut main character who comes back from an experimental spaceship wormhole trip 10 years after presumed lost with memory loss and all her crewmates missing. There may be aliens involved…
      (Can’t say much more to avoid spoilers but there are also plot elements involving feminism and I liked the way the author handled the dynamic between the M.C. and the woman who had started dating her husband after she was presumed dead.)

    16. DuPont Circle Travel*

      I LOVE Constellation of Vital Phenomena. So heartbreaking but so beautiful. It’s one of my go-to recommendations.

      I’m reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and I gotta say…. I expected to love it, but I’m feeling a bit meh about it. I like it enough, but it’s not grabbing me as much as I thought it would.

    17. LizB*

      I finished Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (fun, quick, well-built urban fantasy — I’m going to be looking for more by that author for sure!) and am now on to Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch (nonfiction about internet linguistics).

      1. SAHM*

        I just started her Clean Sweep Series, I’m about to buy book 4. I bing read the first three over the last two days. Exactly what I needed.

    18. DayMan Fighter of the Nightman*

      I just finished up Skyward by Brandon Sanderson this week and now I’m on to the 4th book in the Last Kingdom series, it has another name but I started reading it after I watched the show so I just refer to it that way.

      I just started reading Brandon Sanderson books this year and have read 5 so far and they’ve all been excellent fantasy books.

    19. Bluebell*

      In preparation for a vacation to Hawaii, I finished The Descendants and hope to watch the movie soon. Also read Molokai and Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert. Both were very well written and I learned a lot of history. Next on the list is Molokai by O.A. Bushnell. And just as a fluffy palate cleanser, I read Chelsea Handlers latest book. My favorite parts were the chapters about her dogs.

    20. Jen Erik*

      I found ‘The Bone Clocks’ by David Mitchell on the bookshelf, which for some reason I had bought but never read, so I read that. I did enjoy it, but the last part is set later this century (2043, maybe?) and the characters facing global warming was hard to read. My daughter had bought Lori Gottlieb’s ‘Maybe you should talk to someone…’ – which is about her work as a therapist and her own experience of therapy, and I enjoyed that. There were several bits where I stopped and tried to commit something she had written to memory.
      Then I reread a couple of Heyers, because politics was getting fraught and a bit of escapism seemed called for. And then I downloaded Sherwood Smith’s ‘It happened at the Ball’ anthology for further escapism – so far it’s of mixed quality, as anthologies tend to be. I’m a little disappointed: I think I wanted really, really fluffy, and it’s not quite what I hoped for. But that’s not the book’s fault.

    21. PhyllisB*

      Meant to post this yesterday, and forgot. I belong to a FB group called Women Reading Great Books and they threw out a challenge to read a book published the year you were born. I quipped that there’s probably not any books still around published the year I was born; that according to my kids they were probably carved into stone tablets.
      But on a serious note, have any of you ever read a book published the year you were born? I did look and I had read a few of them in years past, but didn’t see anything I wanted to tackle now. I may do it anyway just because.

    22. Mimmy*

      I hope non-fiction books are allowed in this thread!

      If so, I just finished Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma. I love her self-confidence and her creativity. She’s extremely passionate about accessibility, particularly in communication (which I’m particularly interested in myself) and in the digital world. To facilitate communication with others, she developed a text-to-Braille system where you type on a regular keyboard. The text is then converted to Braille on a Braille display. Haben then responds verbally. Seeing her speak in person is now on my bucket list.

    23. TexasRose*

      I’ve just discovered the Alex awards, given by some subset of the American Library Association: “The Alex Awards are given to ten books [each year] written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. ”

      My favorite by far is the Murderbot Diaries, a set of four novellas by Martha Wells. The first is “All Systems Red.” It deservedly won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards, and others. Definitely not light, but lots of cutting observations, and oddly incredibly tender. (Asimov would be spinning in his grave. Three Laws of Robotics, hah!)

      Other recommendations (not Alex winners):

      “The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal, part of her Lady Astronaut series. Her “Ghost Talkers” (set in England during one of the World Wars) was excellent as well. Both of these deal with explicit, rampant, and infuriating misogyny and racism, so not for everyone.

      Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, a combination urban fantasy and police procedural. First title is “Midnight Riot” [US title; UK title is different]. A young police constable in London, son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, discovers that magic and the supernatural are real. In an ironic, post-modern, snarky way, of course.

    24. Liz*

      I pulled out and re-read, over the last few weeks, all my Harry Potter books. I forgot how much fun they are!

  8. Bilateralrope*

    About 2 years ago a cat showed up at my workplace and basically declared “I live here now. Pet me”. Then we started feeding her.

    Today I realized that she is the only cat I’ve ever spent much time with that has no interest in the chairs people use. She will sleep in front of the heater, on our logbook, or sheltered behind a large rock outside, but never the chairs.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve switched between three books in the last couple weeks and it’s annoying me, because I can’t get into any of them. My favorite authors don’t have any new books at the moment, so I’m stuck trying out random books, either through Kindle Unlimited or the library.

      I started out with Hard Hit by JB Turner (it’s a series and I’ve read the other books). Then I switched to Recursion by Blake Crouch. Then I was reading Murder by Misrule by Anne Castle. Last night I finally went back to Hard Hit. It’s not a spectacular series, but it’s good enough that I can get through it and be mostly interested.

      I think it’s time to visit my Good Reads list and pick something from there.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Nesting fail. Sorry! That was meant for the post right above yours. But it’s a fortunately nesting fail since I’m a cat lady. :)

        My new cat has no interest in jumping on anything other than the occasional bed, and he won’t even sleep there. He just jumps up to check out the scene and then jumps back down again. He’s always on the move.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        We rarely use the keyboard, so it’s left where there isn’t room for her to stand on it.

        Now I did manage to train my parents cat to stay off the keyboard. But the training only held when I was using the computer.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I initially read this as training your parents to not stand on the keyboard, but only with difficulty.

          1. Bilateralrope*

            Nah. They need to be trained to not touch the monitor when pointing at something. Ive only had minimal success there.

  9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    Ugh. It is nearly 11:30 am and I’ve done nothing but drink coffee and waste time on twitter, Facebook, reddit, etc. My house is a disaster and I’m probably going to start a new job in a week (which, depending on how things go, could mean that I have to pack all my work stuff and go work away for six weeks at least). And I am not prepared to go anywhere with the house in this disorganised state! Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh.

    What strategies are people using to break their internet addiction and start doing things in the real world?

    1. Platypus Enthusiast*

      I have also done the same, but don’t beat yourself up about it! Sometimes we just need to spend time relaxing. Congratulations on the new job! So in terms of just not using a phone, I use an app called forest- you set a timer, and you can grow a cute plant or tree of some type. These plants translate to virtual currency, and when you get enough, you can trade that in so a real tree gets planted! Also, for cleaning- take it one thing at a time! And seriously take a hard look at what you want to keep and what you don’t. I made the mistake of transporting everything when I moved a month ago, and then deciding to clean stuff up. And while cleaning and packing, maybe listen to an audiobook or podcast! If you’re into audiobooks, most libraries have a lending library and use an app called Libby (the same as Overdrive), which is super convenient!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ear protection with built-in bluetooth headset to combine yard work with podcasts.
      And I joined a FB group geared towards housecleaning & organization. My 20yo sungle self would have been mortified, but in my current life it works: pop on, post what I’m about to do, and update to get backpats. More attagirls from those Internet strangers than I get from my family. Harrumph.

    3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Set a timer. When I have a chore that I don’t want to do, or I’m just tired, or depressed, I set I timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then I go read for a bit, then timer again. And I add time as I’m doing it – day one 5 minutes, day two 10 and so on. A lot of time I’ll reset the timer because I get to wanting to finish this part (I break everything down). I’ve found, for me, it’s that starting that’s the hardest, and then the staying focused. Having the timer keeps me on tract, and I get breaks. Projects get done. Win.

    4. YetAnotherUsername*

      I go through phases when I don’t go on boards at all, then I come back. It is such a massive time suck. Things that have helped me temporarily include:
      Installing apps to block certain sites
      Tracking time and seeing for real just how much time I waste on sites (there are apps to track this now)
      Making myself do other things first like duolingo or playing words with friends or something else that has an inbuilt trigger to stop playing (finish all your moves / run out of lives).
      Setting a timer

    5. Gatomon*

      If it makes you feel better, I didn’t wake up until 10, then I rolled around in bed until 11:45 using my phone to internet. :( This weekend I’ve decided to forgo Reddit and Ask a Manager/news sites will be my only “interneting.” Reddit doesn’t make me happy, yet somehow I keep going back… I might actually see if I can block the domain on my router….

      I’m slowly realizing that I’m deluding myself into thinking I’ll ever be an outdoorsy person. All the things I love to do (read, play video games and watch shows/movies) are indoor activities, and mostly solo. I was an only child growing up and really never had neighborhood friends, so I am pretty used to just spending my free time amusing myself. I have a friend who I go walking in the park with at times, but that’s about it. This summer hasn’t gone well for either of us so we haven’t met up much.

      Part of my problem is that the outdoors and I don’t really get along. My seasonal allergies are making spring/summer/fall impossible to enjoy for me – my doctor prescribed me an inhaler this year because I’ve been wheezing all summer. And we really haven’t even had any issues with wildfire smoke this year! The one winter thing I really liked as a kid was skiing, but it’s just so expensive to get all the equipment and hit the slopes that I just keep putting it off. I’m also 15 years out of practice, and everyone I know is either a gung-ho skiier or hates it with a passion. I think I might just give up and buy a basic treadmill now that I have space.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m not quite the same, but I realized that despite enjoying it maybe wanting to enjoy nature activities that they don’t beat out now nature ones.

        I prefer reading. I live in the city and I don’t prioritize getting out for hiking or mountain biking as much as I enjoy them. There’s stuff and chores to do at home on the weekend. There’s museums and talks all over town that I don’t get to go to all I want.

        It is an identity change. I like the nature stuff enough but the fact that it’s not winning the prioritization battle means I’m not a hiker or mountain biker. My job allows me to live anywhere so I could live in nature or closer to nature. The big thing is though I like my liberal queer community in the or this city. Not ready to sacrifice community for living in beautiful nature.

        And I know there are queer friendly outdoorsy places but they are thousands of miles from here.

        It is really The identity change that I prefer living in the city than places of outdoorsy natural beauty.

    6. cat socks*

      I’ve started watching cleaning videos on YouTube. I’ll put them on while I have to do my own cleaning. Weird, but it kind of helps get me motivated.

    7. Meepmeep*

      I went cold turkey. Actually, at first, I’d decided to take a “digital Sabbath” – turn off my social media apps one day a week and just read books when I needed entertainment. The first time I did that, I felt so much better after one day of not clogging up my brain with social media that I actually didn’t want to go back. I’d noticed just how angry and anxious I got after reading Facebook, especially – so many things to be outraged about, so many stupid people, so much to incite anger and fear. I don’t want to be angry and afraid.

      I deleted the Reddit and Facebook apps from my phone and switched over to various e-reader apps for actual books. I’ve been at it for 34 days now (I guess I get a 30 day sobriety chip or something?), and I honestly have no desire to go back.

      I do make an exception for AAM, which may be a weakness, but it doesn’t consume my life the way Reddit and Facebook did.

    8. Jackalope*

      I’ve found that not having my phone in the room where I’m sleeping helps so much with this. Many nights I’ve left it to charge in a room someone else is sleeping in so I couldn’t go grab it even if I wanted to. It helps to keep me off it for awhile in the morning, sometimes all the way til my Mir I got break. (I have a radio alarm to wake up so don’t need it for that…) No Facebook app on my phone, and I try to take breaks from specific sites that eat up a lot of my time.

    9. Alexandra Lynch*

      Lists and timers, and breaking big tasks into smaller ones.
      I don’t have to clean the kitchen immediately. I just have to unload the dishwasher. Then I can sit down for twenty minutes. Then I can do something else.
      I also play a game that has a nighttime cycle when you can’t see to do things, and so I tend to park my character in its base, make sure ongoing processes are producing and don’t need more raw material, and stand up and go do stuff until “dawn”. I get a lot done that way on hard days.

      (To be honest, though, I have chronic pain, and sometimes a general “I don’t want to do anything but fart around on the computer” is actually, “I hurt all over and don’t feel like moving.”)

  10. Ready Player One*

    I am kind of struggling with how to feel about a friend of mine.

    TLDR: if my close friend is a player and I don’t care, am I a bad person?

    I have been (very platonic) friends with this guy for nearly a decade. I haven’t had a front-row seat to his life (or vice-versa) since we both work around the world, frequently not in the same place, but this is someone I talk to multiple times a week, we see each other in person whenever we can, and whom I would emphatically trust with my life.

    A few months ago, introduced him to a friend of mine (Friend A), and the two of them hit it off spectacularly. They dated for a bit, and then he broke it off, saying he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship right now. They said a friendly goodbye, and we all thought that was that.

    Well, a mutual acquaintance from work (Acquaintance B) has since “come forward” (I use the term loosely) to say that the same thing happened to her five years ago— no insinuation of anything untoward, they dated for a few weeks, he broke it off saying he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship right now.

    Friend A is now outraged, saying this is a pattern of disrespectful behaviour, and is heavily implying that this should change my opinion of my long-time friend.

    …it doesn’t?

    As I am going through this in my head, everybody involved here is a fully consenting adult, there has never been any hint of anything untoward whatsoever, and since I am never going to sleep with him, I’m not sure how it’s supposed to change *my* opinion of the guy. Admittedly I probably won’t set him up with anyone again, but that’s about it.

    Just to clear, I fully believe everyone involved. I believe Acquaintance B’s story, I had a front row seat to a friend A’s story, AND I fully believe that my friend isn’t ready for a serious relationship.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      We have a friend whose romantic morals were not always first class, but took the view that they weren’t our business.

      Until he looked like hooking up with a friend of ours in our house at a party – not a 100% robust friend, in case that’s relevant – at which point I strongly warned her off.

      Spouse has since been best man at his wedding, so there was no loss of friendship, but that was the line we drew.

    2. Angwyshaunce*

      You are allowed to feel however you do about a friend. Somebody else can’t dictate that for you.

      I once had a friend who was shunned by our other friends for choices he made, which did not impact them one bit. I accepted how he chose to live his life.

    3. Christy*

      Honestly it doesn’t even sound disrespectful. Dating and then breaking up just sounds like what dating is. I think Friend A is just hurt from being broken up with.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. This sounds like normal dating behavior to me. I don’t have much experience with dating, but I see what my friends have gone through and this wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar. Actually, they’d probably be thrilled that he broke it off and was truthful he didn’t want a relationship.

      2. Anon Librarian*

        What was written here is normal, but we don’t have all the details. It’s hard to pass judgment one way or the other.

      3. Alex*

        Agree. I’m not sure exactly why Friend A is so upset at the fact that years ago he dated someone else and then broke up with them. Seems like misplaced anger/hurt.

      4. Beatrice*

        Yeah, I don’t understand how rejecting two separate people and clearly expressing what he wasn’t looking for makes him disrespectful.

    4. WS*

      You *have* changed your opinion – he’s now someone you probably won’t set up with anyone again. You aren’t (and don’t have to!) decide that he’s now a terrible, disrespectful person or anything, just that his idea of a relationship obviously isn’t compatible with that of your other friends.

    5. Christy*

      Separately, I’d care if your bestie were sleeping with your friend circle and then ghosting them, but this isn’t that. I prob wouldn’t set him up with anyone who was looking for long term or a relationship though.

    6. LGC*

      Your username in this context DELIGHTS me.

      I think your friend is…having a rough time with the breakup, to put it lightly. Your “player” friend said he wasn’t ready for commitment with two women you know about five years apart. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t know if you can draw a pattern from that.

      And you’re doing the right thing! You’re not going to sleep with him or otherwise have a romantic relationship with him, so while you shouldn’t hook him up with any of your other girlfriends, his phobia of commitment doesn’t affect you. It’s possible to be a good friend and a bad boyfriend, which it sounds like he is.

    7. Lilo*

      It also may be this is his way of letting people down easy. It might be misguided. But there is 100% nothing wrong with dating someone for a few weeks and breaking up.

      1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        Yeah, ultimately, it’s really hard for me to be mad at this person at all. Everyone has a right to not continue to be romantically or sexually involved with someone else whenever they want.

        Yeah, people should be as honest as possible about their intentions and not, like, date someone for 5 years and talk about marriage and kids if they have no desire to build a life with that person, but this doesn’t sound like anything even dishonest. Some people would rather date casually than date to try to find a life partner, and that’s a perfectly legitimate choice.

        This honestly doesn’t even sound like something that would cause me to stop introducing him to friends! Since you know what’s up, you can just say “I think you would get along really well! He doesn’t want a long term relationship, but I’d be happy to introduce you if you if you like.”

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Yeah, I think what he actually meant was “I’m not ready for a serious relationship *with Friend A.*”

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t have any problem with what he’s doing, as described. Nor would I if you had a female friend who dated people and then broke up with them, including because she routinely discovered she didn’t want anything serious.

      There are levels of dating crappy, like constantly insulting the person you’re sleeping with, or lying to them about the other people you’re sleeping with, where I think maintaining a neutral “hey, I’m not dating them, so not personally affected” gets a side-eye. But a tendency to not marry the people you date should be unremarkable.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      The key is the nature of the relationship. Since he is just a friend and nothing further that can make a difference in how you view him.
      You don’t have to be angry at him “for” someone else. That is their relationship or was their relationship and it’s up to them to sort that out.

      AT MOST, if he says anything to you then you can talk about it with him. Perhaps at that point you can suggest that he be more upfront or whatever. I don’t see too much wrong with what he is doing. I too have a male friend who dates just to get out and have life experiences. He wants someone to do things with.
      The problem comes in when the other person is dating in the hope of finding someone to marry. This unbalances the relationship as each person is looking for something different. The goals are not the same.

      It’s not your friend’s responsibility to fix a situation where a person says to him, “Yeah, just dating is fine” and then secretly they keep hoping for that engagement ring. There is an expression, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” The responsibility is on each person to speak the truth.

      As far as it making you a bad person for hanging out with him, there is a counter-argument that I have heard. Let’s assume that it’s true the guy is a “bad guy” (he’s not, imo). So if “good” people never mix with “bad” people then “bad” people never learn different approaches to live because they are never exposed to other options.
      I DO have a few problems with this line of thinking. My top problem is that just as no one is all bad, neither is anyone all good. And most of the time I land on “Who the heck am I to judge? I can only fix me and that is a full time job.”

      I think it’s fine not to set him up with anyone again. I don’t do much matchmaking myself because of blowback. Let people find their own way, I’d say. You could use this one example to change what you are doing across the board.

      As a reference point, you might think back to a time in your life where you had a friend and you were friendly with their parent. The problem was Friend and Parent did not do so well together. It’s the differences in relationships. If that were your parent or your kid, you may have had bumps in the road with either person, also. We don’t have to dislike/hate/avoid other people just because a friend/family member says to do this.

      But based on what you have written here, I’d say do your own thinking. If the friendship is a positive in your life then you should keep it. There are examples of times where I might say the opposite though. I do have friends who have stepped in crap. Eventually, we end up talking about it and the friend decides to make some kind of adjustment in what they are doing. (The reverse is true too, I have stepped in crap and friends talked me through it.) This is what friends do for each other.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t see how dating and then deciding not to date someone is inherently bad behavior as long as he was honest and upright that the relationships were just dating. That’s the whole point of dating isn’t it? You’ll find many people you genuinely like, but may not want to settle down with.

      As long as he wasn’t lying to them or professing some kind of undying love for them just to get them in the sack, I struggle to see how he’s been disrespectful.

      But maybe it is a topic worth exploring with your male friend, to just get a sense of his thoughts on dating in general. IS he generally respectful of women? Is he actively looking for “the one” or just playing the field? Is he unintentionally giving the wrong impression that he’s more serious? If you have a good relationship it could be one of those conversations like “You know, women may view dating in a somewhat different way…”

    11. Traffic_Spiral*

      Unless he was misleading her by going on about how he was totally looking for something serious until he pulled the rug out at the last minute? Nah.

    12. Not A Manager*

      “I’m not ready for a serious relationship” is a common euphemism for “I’m not that into you.” Just because someone says that twice in five years doesn’t make him a player.

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, I don’t see that this should change your opinion of your friend, unless he has a pattern that starts off each potential first date with declarations of how he’s looking to settle down immediately and then backs out a few weeks later with the whole not ready for a relationship thing. (If he’s doing that on the a regular basis, he should think about why and also stop. It’s fine and expected for any given first date to not end in marriage, but if the problem is that he actually doesn’t want commitment with anyone at all once the shiny is worn off, then he should stop announcing that he’s looking for a committed relationship so early on in the shiny new person phase.)

      It does change who you should set him up with (other people who are also looking to go on a few dates with a new person rather than people who are looking to get in a serious relationship), but to me that’s along similar lines to how I have friends that I wouldn’t recommend for certain jobs or expect to cook Thanksgiving dinner. They may be my D&D friend, or my go camping friend, or my travel friend, but don’t have the right skill set to be a front desk receptionist/school bus driver/car salesperson/whatever, or don’t really understand why you need to own more than one knife (I once had a dear friend hand me a pocket knife when I asked for a cheese grater while cooking dinner in his kitchen), so despite them being great in one context I wouldn’t recommend them in another one.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah, and even if he WAS doing the thing in the first paragraph you wrote, I think while that’s not great behaviour it odesn’t rise to the level of “I have to stop being friends with this person for moral reasons” either. Everyone has flaws, and if he’s lying to himself about being ready for something/wanting a serious relationship well, that’s a flaw and one he should work on but not one I’d feel like I would need to cut him out of my life for, either!

    14. Stephanie*

      Five years ago? Doesn’t look like a huge, red-flag kind of pattern to me. I’m not sure the outrage is warranted.
      If he’s not ready for a serious relationship, he’s not ready. Breaking it off after a few weeks is not disrespectful, it’s actually honest and in a way, kind. If friend A is looking for a more committed relationship, this guy is clearly not the guy for her, and he saved her from wasting a lot of time by breaking it off early on.
      And you are allowed to have your own opinions about your friends, and you are allowed to continue to be friends with whomever you choose. No one else gets to dictate that stuff.

    15. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I just recently found this out about a work friend of mine. I…don’t know how to feel. I like him as a friend, but I’ve also dated people like him and know how it’s frustrating. He doesn’t do anything too bad, but he tends to be purposefully untransparent about the fact that he is less invested in the situationship than the girl is just so he gets to sleep with her. It doesn’t help that he’s conventionally attractive (but not my type), and our friendship further raises trust issues in these girls (one of whom is my other coworker.) Basically, we come from the same ethnic community, and I know that his crazy behavior is basically a reaction to a very restrictive, religiously conservative upbringing. I told him off about it, but also don’t feel like ending the friendship.

    16. Agnodike*

      There’s nothing disrespectful about ending a relationship in a friendly way, no matter how many times you do it. Casual dating is allowed. No one is under any obligation to enter into a committed/monogamous relationship at any point in their life. Honestly, if I were in this situation, it would be Friend A about whom I changed my opinion, because based on the information given here, it really seems like they have some seriously unreasonable expectations of others.

    17. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      So I’m female and I’ve been married for a /really/ long time, and honestly? He’s not doing anything wrong. Unless he made promises and then turned around with the ‘not ready’ talk, that’s just dating! I’d tell her that I understand that she’s sad, but twice (or a hundred times) isn’t really disrespectful behavior. And no, you don’t get to choose my friends.

    18. Morning reader*

      What’s a player to you? Do you find his behavior unethical? If so, you may want to disassociate yourself or at minimum warn people you care about away from becoming involved with him.

      From your description, he doesn’t sound unethical to me.

      Does he stalk women he is interested in? Does he beat them or rape them using force or coercion?Does he deceive them in an attempt to take their money or resources? These I would find immoral and illegal and I would not be a friend to such a person.

      Does he lie to them and say he has long term intentions when he does not? Does he claim to be monogamous when he’s not? Does he not take any responsibility for birth control or sti protection? Does he become involved with people with monogamous commitments and help them lie about that? This is a less criminal level but I probably still wouldn’t be close to him.

      Or is it just that he gets involved in short term relationships and is clear about that? Maybe sometimes with more than one person at a time but he’s honest about that too? Always safe and consensual? Tries not to break hearts and follows the campsite rule? Knows he might get someone pregnant and accepts the risk responsibly? Well that’s alright with me. Would have no problem with a friend hooking up with him as long as she wasn’t looking to settle down.

      TL:dr You’re not a bad person unless you think he is and don’t care.

  11. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Removed because no politics here. Sorry! (Generally that ban applies to American politics but the replies here were straying into American politics and I don’t want to moderate that!) – Alison

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      The Conservative party tweeted a Photoshopped image of Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the opposition) dressed as a chicken, with “JFC” in the corner as if a KFC ad, with taunting language – they’ve been calling him a coward for resisting an early General Election. KFC’s social media team responded very well.

    2. Anonomoose*

      They tweeted some support for throwing milkshakes at racists…I think at Stephen Yaxley-Lemon, or whatever his real name is

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Doing good – any amount of good – is definitely the action we should be undertaking to counter the awfulness. Our local town has got involved in a “look for a book” scheme where you hide a children’s book and post clues in the FB group. Children find the books, read them, then rehide them, with photos of the finding and the rehiding. It’s been lovely for the community and for encouraging excitement around books for young readers.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I never turn down a coronation chicken sandwich. A friend makes hers with a dollop of mango chutney added to the sauce, and I highly recommend.

      (the KFC was delicious; I also sent a thank-you card to the MP thanking her for sticking to her principles)

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Fried chicken is widely available in the bigger cities. Out here in the sticks it’s KFC or DIY.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you for keeping us honest, Alison. I wondered as I typed how far I was pushing the limit. No hard feelings! Enjoy your weekend.

  12. Washi*

    My childhood best friend just had a baby! I’m going to visit her for a little in the hospital, and then once they go home will likely be around quite a bit after the baby is born to help clean and cook (both are things my friend has asked for.)

    What are some things you wished visitors would bring to the hospital after giving birth? What did you need most in the first few months? (things or actions)

    1. Fikly*

      I don’t have children, but my mother’s secret amazing new baby present is a bunch of cloth diapers. She never used them as diapers, but says they are the baby multitasker and can be used for everything. Everyone she has given them to was confused at first, and then swears it was the best thing they received.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        My go-to new baby gift is some of those little mesh lingerie bags. You can usually get a 3 pack at the dollar store, and they’re a great way to keep baby socks and other tiny baby things contained in the washing machine so they don’t get eaten by the sock fairy. For baby showers, I usually tuck a set or two into whatever present from the registry I picked up as my main gift, and the new parents usually say they got quite a bit of use out of them.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I have a couple of “go to” baby gifts (not to bring to the hospital.) One is a kit that has things like baby nail clippers, baby meds, Tylenol, spray for stuffy noses, and several other things. You can find them at stores that sell baby/child items, and sometimes at stores like Walmart. They’re about $25.00 and every new mother I’ve given one to has been thankful because it’s all together in one kit and it’s easy to take wherever you need to. Another one is, if they have a dishwasher, one of those little boxes you can sit in the top rack to hold small things like bottle rings and nipples. I usually include that with whatever else I give and has always been well-received. My niece told me it was her very favorite baby gift!! They’re less than $5.00. I also second the laundry bags and cloth diapers. My “baby” is 32 and I still have a couple of cloth diapers that I use for dust cloths, and they make great burp rags.
        Now for the hospital, one of my favorite gifts to bring for anybody is some puffy mints. I can’t think of a brand name, but they’re red and white striped and very airy and dissolve in the mouth quickly. I don’t what it is about being in a hospital that gives people a bad case of the dry mouth. And if they don’t want to eat them, they can offer them to guests. A basket of snacks and bottled water is good, too. You can buy them pre-made or make up your own. Especially if she’s breastfeeding, she will need lots of liquids and a quick snack she can hold with one hand will be great, or to offer to guests. I know that sounds strange to worry about visitors, but I liked having something I could offer.
        Now two things NOT to bring: plants or balloons. She’s going to have a ton of stuff to take home and that’s just something else to contend with. Wait until she’s home if you want to give things like this. I’m sure as soon as I post this I’ll think of more things, but hope this helps!!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I wouldn’t visit in hospital unless she’s in for a while. It’s noisy and busy and she may need to snatch sleep where she can. Most people go home within a day. Then in the first days …

      1. Bring food that doesn’t need eating immediately and only needs one hand to eat but is fresh and nutritious – wraps and sandwiches cut as if for a buffet but in a suitable tupperware, vegetable sticks, that kind of thing. If you’re bringing a dinner, again think one-handed, quick reheating time, etc, unless you’re staying to do everything. Maybe coffee in a vacuum flask!

      2. Wash the dishes. Thoroughly rinse any used bottles you find. Every visit. Ask if there’s laundry to be put in / transferred into the dryer / folded – there will be.

      3. Don’t let either parent wait on you. Keep early visits short (30 minutes) and don’t expect entertaining – make your own coffee, and theirs. If you stay longer, it’s because you’re doing laundry or watching baby so she can shower for longer than 30 seconds. Be patient if they’re spaced out or boring.

      4. Baby is not a toy or ornament to be passed round. It’s wholly weird to have part of your body suddenly outside your body and being touched by other people. Be led by the parents and wait to be offered. Some are desperate to share, others feel unexpectedly protective even with “safe” people.

      Well done for being the helpful friend and caring about them!

      1. Lilo*

        Yes! People kept making these elaborate meals that I only ate when they were cold because my son was always nursing when food was ready.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          One visitor faithfully reheated my dinner every time I was summoned by my first baby one evening. By the time he had FINALLY settled, the food was totally dried out and unappetizing. Cold food would have been fine.

          So maybe consider how appetizing the food is once it’s cooled down a bit …

          It sounds like I’m being really fussy and honestly I am capable of gratitude, but any “help” that actually creates work (e.g. coming round to hold baby so new mom can catch up on her housework, but demanding refreshments and criticising housekeeping) is far worse than nothing, and I try to be certain any baby visit I make is significantly net positive to the new family.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Just as an alternate view — I loved having visitors in the hospital and wished we’d had more!

    3. Lilo*

      Offer to hold the baby so she can shower. Seriously.

      If you buy diapers, don’t buy Ns. They’re through those in a hot second. Same with newborn onesies.

      1. Beatrice*

        Yes! My mom’s go-to gift (and now mine) has been packs of onesies and soft knit bottoms in a range of 6+ month sizes. Everyone buys the wee baby sizes, so the goal of the gift is for the parents to have at least a day or two of outfits to reach for when they wake up and suddenly nothing else fits the baby and they need to go buy more clothes.

      2. Observer*

        I agree on the onsies. The problem with diapers is that if you get them to big, you almost might as well not bother. And, to be honest, I’ve yet to see a pack that lasts more than a week anyway. So, that’s something that needs constant resupply anyway.

    4. greenthumb*

      Frozen waffles that can be toasted at zero-dark-30 while stumbling around for a 2 am feeding. The warm, crunchy carbs are soothing and quick to munch on. If she’s nursing, she may suddenly feel famished and that has a way of jolting you awake enough that it’s hard to fall back asleep when baby does.

      Something like a pan of veggie-centric lasagna that is assembled and ready to go in the oven, and easily portioned into smaller single-serve containers for leftovers. (We were lucky enough to receive one like this, and that and the cloth diapers we received and used as spit-up cloths were two of the items we’ve remembered most fondly.)

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      What not to bring to the hospital: anything you wouldn’t want lost. Friends brought us a quiche with a knife from home for carving, then asked if we knew what had befallen the knife. Uh, no. Induced labor, fetal distress, emergency C-section, no one was tracking the knife.

      After birth: Healthy food you can prepare and eat with one hand, aka a one-dish-meal casserole with protein and vegetables.

      If the baby is going through a rough sobbing like the world is ending and no one will fix it patch (e.g. colic, nursing problems) take the baby out for a set time, like 90 minutes. One of the best bits of non-joking advice in a humorous book for dads was that your wife cannot stop crying while the baby is crying. She also can’t nap while the baby sobs in the next room. You can look after the baby with no “the baby is crying because I am a failure as a mother, forever” additional emotions on top of it. (Not all babies do this. But when they do, their exhausted mom isn’t really looking at it dispassionately as a momentary rough patch that will be over in 1 or 2 more baby life times.)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


        Take the baby somewhere else for an hour. If it screams for that hour, hold it for that hour. Maybe hum a song (doesn’t need to be PG especially if you are just humming, so long as you keep going).

        An early visitor to us sent me back to bed. For half an hour all I could hear was the baby fussing and someone loudly emptying the dishwasher by opening and closing every single cupboard multiple times. Not one second of sleep. I gave up.

          1. Agnodike*

            Yeah, I would have been inconsolable if someone had taken my baby far enough that I couldn’t hear her cry in those first few weeks.

            I feel like there are so many different approaches to parenting, and so many different baby personalities, that the best course of action is always to just ask what someone wants.

    6. Ranon*

      A quick text asking if there’s anything you can pick up on the way as you’re swinging by (Target/ chain pharmacy/ supermarket with good baby section) might be welcome in either circumstance (some folks don’t like being asked if they need anything but even those folks tend to do better if it’s a specific store you’re stopping at). They know best what they need right now. Non perishable snacks are always good, mix up the sweet/salty and protein rich/ carb rich/ fat rich options so they’re not, say, drowning in sugar or salt or what have you.

      1. Lilo*

        I somehow, when I brought my son home, didn’t have diaper rash cream. I imagine every new parent has something like that.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I once, in the earlier days of the internet, drove across town to the house of someone I’d met in person only once before but was friends with on LiveJournal because her baby had a digestive bug and she was out of diaper cream. I knew there was no reasonable way she could take a miserable, emitting-ick-from-multiple-orifices baby to the store to buy diaper cream and so I just offered to do it for her and drive it over. I probably stayed at her house for under 2 minutes before driving home again (“here’s the cream, is there anything else I can do to help before I leave?”), because that really wasn’t going to be a good time for her to have company, and I knew that going in. If you can offer to be the friend to do things like that for her, it will probably be very helpful.

    7. The Mayor*

      The first thing my wife wanted in the hospital after giving birth was an ice-cold beer. She abstained for her entire pregnancy, for baby’s health, but craved it once baby was born!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        My best friend didn’t eat lunch meat the whole time, so as soon as she delivered and got cleaned up, she sent her mother out for an Italian sub. She said it was one of the best things she ever ate!

    8. Overeducated*

      Hospital: maybe text her (or partner if she has one) asking if either of them needs a good cup of coffee, that was the #1 thing I appreciated. Hospitals otherwise have food and most other necessary stuff so I wouldn’t clutter up a place they’re leaving soon.

      Post-hospital: cut up fruit or veggies or cookies. Many people stock their freezers or can order/buy prepared hearty food, but every time we made something but my baby needed to nurse and it got cold anyway, so having room temp stuff around is nice too!

      And I think just being there and being around the first few months will mean a lot, beyond specifics. Being a new parent can be isolating, your presence means more than stuff.

      1. LibbyG*

        After we came home with the baby some kind folks brought us delicious meals, and then one brought muffins which turned out to be fantastic to have. Nursing made my hunger level go from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds.

        And my perpetual baby gift recommendation is Zutano booties. Super cute and they actually stay on.

        1. Overeducated*

          Yes! Last time around I stocked my freezer with casseroles, this time I’m throwing in half batches of zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and ready to bake oatmeal cookies when I make them. Muffin type stuff is so good when you’re hungry and exhausted.

      2. Hmmmm*

        I got their exact Starbucks orders via text (dad’s too!) and brought those along with my friend’s favorite almonds.
        The almonds were a welcome surprise but worked because i knew she was out, loved them, could eat one handed and! They last/can be thrown out.
        Also- not everyone is comfortable letting you hold the baby right away, and they’ll have rules want to grab him/her back etc
        That’s not a judgement on you- it’s instinctive and generally fades as parents get comfortable

    9. Thursday Next*

      Face-cleansing wet wipes and Wisp toothbrushes. New parents’ routines are upended, and it’s nice to be able to keep a few parent care items close at hand that can be used quickly while feeding the baby.

      If your friend has a pet, bring a treat for it and give it a bit of attention.

      Food that can be eaten as is, no reheating necessary. Paper plates if that’s okay with you/your friends—a week off from doing dishes is great at this time.

    10. Joie De Vivre*

      In the hospital – food: fresh fruit & snacks. The hospital food was just so-so & I was hungry between meals.

      At home – the best tip I got was to double sheet the baby’s bed. When the diaper leaked in the middle of the night, all we had to do was strip off the fitted sheet & the waterproof sheet & the bed was ready to go. (because there was already another fitted sheet & waterproof sheet on the mattress).

      1. PhyllisB*

        Joie, that’s a great idea that I forgot!! Also, crib sheets are a wonderful baby present. When I had my first baby, I had three crib sheets on hand. I thought that would be plenty. We went through them in the first hour. I had to pin a towel on the mattress and send my husband to the store.

    11. Sled dog mama*

      The best thing anyone brought me after my first was a milkshake, I had zero cravings while pregnant and for the first week the only thing I wanted to eat was milkshakes.
      Everyone has made fantastic suggestions for things that would have been welcome.
      I’ll add if mom is nursing out in the open (as many do at first while getting the hang of it) and she says she’s ok with you in the room or says she wants you to stay (or calls you in from another room) she’s ok with your presence so believe her. One of the hardest things for me was how everyone cleared the room when I nursed, nursing was easy for me (with my first, second was a nightmare) baby girl didn’t mind being covered of there were men around and I usually didn’t bother covering at home with only women present but I really wanted someone to talk to while she was nursing.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Calorie-intensive, easy to eat one-handed, comforting — milkshakes are IDEAL postpartum food IMO! :)

    12. Parenthetically*

      My best friends brought a box of lovely little pastries first thing in the morning after my son was born. Later that night they brought my favorite Thai food, super spicy, which I hadn’t been able to eat in the weeks prior due to heartburn. If there are things like that — treats or favorite things she hasn’t been able to eat — bring that to the hospital! Also, some hospitals aren’t great at providing food for partners, so a substantial snack and/or some good coffee would be nice.

      One of my favorite things someone brought postpartum was BREAKFAST THINGS. We were blessed to have a roster of people bringing dinners, but I had a couple friends who brought breakfast — one brought big bran muffins and fruit salad, and the other brought a massive, rich baked oatmeal packed with fruit. I was obviously nursing around the clock so I deeply appreciated things I could eat easily but that were still super calorie-dense.

      Refill her drink bottle, especially if she’s breastfeeding. It’s hard to stay sufficiently hydrated when you’re doing all the newborn things.

    13. Not A Manager*

      “What are some things you wished visitors would bring to the hospital after giving birth?”

      Food. I was only in the hospital for two nights and the hospital food was horrid. Second everyone else’s comment that baby presents will only get lost/be hard to transport. If she’s in for longer, she might want a comfy blanket or a pastime such as audiobooks or a craft.

      “What did you need most in the first few months?”

      A shower. One of my best visitor memories is of someone cuddling the baby long enough for me to take a long shower.

    14. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      There are these things called SwaddleMe which are an absolute God-send. Basically, they’re stretchy, velcro fastening swaddled that are super easy to put on and take off and don’t get tangled. New, sleep-deprived also avoid needing to do cloth origami to get a wrap to stay around the baby. You also can’t go wrong with onesies. A set of 5 in 3 or 4 different sizes are awesome! And don’t be afraid of a cute outfit, sometimes it’s nice to receive something cute but so impractical the parents could never justify buying it themselves.
      For the new mom, a GIANT thermos to keep next to the bed during those first marathon feeding sessions. If there’s a dad or other partener/ helper in the picture, offer to sit with mom and baby while they go home and shower/ change clothes/ catch up on a last minute work deadline. They’re trying to take care of everything at that point so knowing someone’s there, even if its just to watch mother and baby sleep, is really nice.

    15. Salymander*

      I wouldn’t have wanted anything brought to hospital that I would have to take home with me. All of friend’s stuff + a baby and their stuff adds up to a whole lot of stuff!!!

      In hospital, I was told that I couldn’t have baby go to nursery so I could rest a little. I hadn’t slept for 50+ hours at that point. I shared a room with a woman who was really noisy and had guests in and out at all hours so I couldn’t sleep and didn’t feel comfortable leaving baby in the little bassinet by my bed. Especially when the police came and removed some guests. Dunno what that was about, but didn’t make me feel any more relaxed. If a friend had offered to hold baby for awhile so I could pee and take a 20 minute nap, I would have cried with happiness.

      When friend is home, maybe some meals you can keep for a fairly long time in refrigerator or freezer? Especially portions for one or two of soups, stews or casseroles. The stuff in freezer will be especially nice once your friend no longer has folks coming to help out as much. The first 4 months or so (sometimes longer!) can be exhausting to the point that normal things like showers and meals fall by the wayside. Having a cache of portions of homemade meals could be a lifesaver!

      Another thing I would have loved was for someone to hold baby or take her out in stroller so I could take a shower or a nap. My baby was colicky up to age 4 months, and no one wanted to hold her for 20 minutes while she screamed. If I had a friend who had done that for me, it would have made me so happy.

      You sound like an awesome friend :)

    16. LilySparrow*

      Best gifts:
      1) A “midnight pharmacy run” kit, which basically consists of all the things you run out of at 1am and can’t go without: small packs of diapers, wipes, rash cream, baby wash, lotion, sensitive-skin detergent. Infant Tylenol. Pedialyte. Baby Vapo-rub.

      2) A lidded file box with Pendaflex folders labeled for the first 24 months of Baby’s life. And if there’s room, annual ones for a few years after that. I saw this at a shower and was so jealous. It makes it so easy to store keepsakes until you have time to deal with them, and keeps them in chron order.

      Best visit: one where Mom gets to just hold the baby, and you get something accomplished. My first had nursing issues that required a LOT of work. Everyone who visited wanted to hold her so I could “get stuff done.”

      By day 5, I broke down sobbing because I never got to just cuddle her. I always had to *do* stuff to/with her, and everyone else got the cuddles.

      So just check where Mom is with that, and offer accordingly.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Oh, and those are home presents, not hospital presents. I didn’t want anything brought to the hospital.

        And really, bear in mind that between the bleeding and the milk and the spitup/pooping, anything you bring to the hospital is likely to get drenched in body fluids.

        1. Clisby*

          I didn’t even want visitors at the hospital with my two. I was so tired I had no interest in having to interact with anyone but my husband.

    17. Jackalope*

      Not a mom but have lots of mom friends so this is based on what they have told me. First of all, clothing in multiple sizes (through a year old or so); bonus if it is weather appropriate (i.e., not buying lots of 6 mo shorts for a baby who will be 6 months old in December in Minnesota, that kind of thing; if you aren’t sure then basics like onesies). A boppy pillow has been beloved by my nursing friends.

      And for things to do, depending on how close you are… When my sister had her first baby I went to their house while everyone was still in the hospital and cleaned things up. Nothing huge, but washed the dishes (which had gotten left bcs oh my gosh there’s a BABY coming!!!), vacuumed, cleaned out the cat box, etc. The night they came home from the hospital I went to a local pasta place and got us all some pasta (I think I stayed with them that night or something since I love too far away to drive home that late.) A few weeks later I came back and did some deep cleaning (taking everything off the shelves and dusting it, etc.), so they wouldn’t have to do those things for a few months. All of this was cleared with my sis beforehand, so ymmv, but it worked out well.

    18. Nita*

      Maybe bring chocolate and snacks? I found it really hard to stay awake most of the night when baby wanted to eat. Chocolate helped. I was also hungry alllll the time, including at night when obviously no one is serving lunch. I was lucky that my hospital had a fridge with leftover lunch sandwiches, but if they hadn’t, I’d have really needed a snack stash.

      1. Parenthetically*

        The night-shift nurses in the postpartum ward at my hospital were SUCH lovely people, and not only stashed the leftovers of the Thai food someone brought me, but reheated it at 2 am so I could eat it while feeding the baby. It was heaven. God bless those nurses.

    19. Washi*

      Thanks so much y’all! I so appreciate your ideas and also the kindliness of these posts – a lot of stuff online was like “ugh, if you MUST intrude on the mother, don’t you DARE think that she will even smile at you, you must come bringing 3 days of food, do all the chores, and then leave without making eye contact, she doesn’t care about seeing your stupid face.” I guess people have had very very bad experience with visitors, but I felt like I was being pre-shamed for things I hadn’t even done yet!

      Anyway, I stopped by the hospital for about 20 minutes yesterday and admired the baby, heard a bit about the birth, dropped off smooties, cookies, and fruit, and took home flowers that my friend had gotten from her mom and didn’t want to have to deal with while also getting the baby home.

      I was glad to see all the breakfast suggestions, because I really hate cooking but don’t mind baking, so it will be much easier for me to show up with muffins and breads and other things like that. What I really love is cleaning, so I’ve already offered to do lots of that for her, and I’ll probably bring over some of the other items suggested here whenever I come. Thank you!

    20. Alexandra Lynch*

      I needed someone to be a second me. So someone to either actually clean up the kitchen or run a load of laundry, OR to hold the baby while I took a shower, or to babysit while I got a solid four hours of sleep one afternoon so I didn’t totally melt down. (My husband was a trucker, so I had no help at all.)

    21. Meepmeep*

      Cooking and cleaning would probably top the list as “actions”. I basically stayed in bed for a week after giving birth. And I had an easy birth, comparatively. Any sort of practical help would have been invaluable.

      If I had a friend like you at the time my daughter was born, I’d love you forever.

  13. Loopy*

    I finished Carnival Row this week and really liked it. It was right up my alley- fantasy but not super high fantasy (a la Lord of the Rings). While I’d love to hear if others liked or disliked it as well, I’m posting because I loved the music throughout the show, especially the snippets of the fairy songs we got. I went looking for a soundtrack only to find a compilation of modern day music. I realized I guess what I want is…a score? Does anyone know if such a thing exists or if there’s any way to get the music actually IN the show, even just the theme song?

    On that note, the soundtrack baffles me. Its so far removed from our world, I don’t get how any modern day songs really go with the show, but maybe that’s just me.

    1. Lilo*

      I was initially interested but turned off by the reviews and later previews. Maybe I will give it a try.

      1. Loopy*

        I’m really glad I stayed away from reviews- they can really dim my excitement and bias me against something even if I try and keep an open mind. I’d definitely recommend it.

    2. KarenK*

      I have one more episode to go. Really like it, but, honestly, it’s so dark! I’m not talking about the subject matter, but the actual lighting! Half the time I can barely see the actors. The fairy music is lovely, I agree.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I liked the show as I’m really into fantasy and steampunk, though I thought Orlando Bloom kind of skulked through a lot of the scenes he was in. Granted, partly that was his character, but still it was an awful lot of skulking and brooding!

      Loved the look of the Fey when they fly. The Puck characters look a bit weird w/the ram horns sometimes. I felt the final episode had so many twists and turns that it seemed rushed a bit, or some storylines could’ve resolved in the previous episode and not all at once.

      1. Loopy*

        It was a lot, but now that you mention it, I wonder if his character will develop and change a bit given how the season ended. Trying to be vague and avoid spoilers but I’m hoping he’ll become at least a little different.

        I loved everything about the Fey! I really just loved it all. I agree it could have been a 10 episode season quite easily but if they were constrained to 8 episodes they did pretty well for that.

  14. It’s All Good*

    I have about 120 concert and baseball tickets I’d like to frame in poster size frames. Has anyone done this before? If so, any tips? I’d like to preserve them so they will not fade.

    Also, I have about 25 tickets that are printed from a printer. Any ideas on what do so with these? TIA

    1. WS*

      If the tickets are from a thermal printer, they will fade or (depending on the paper) go completely dark. You may want to make copies for display. Otherwise, you can buy acid-free mounts, frames and UV-protective glass pretty easily.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You can search for archival framing materials. It gets spendy. But maybe it will give you some ideas that you will actually implement. We have a high end craft store near us that offers archival pens, papers, glues and tapes, etc.

      Once it’s framed, keep it away from direct sunlight. I have an embroidered American Flag here. It’s in a frame with glass. I know better than to take it apart for any reason. However, both growing up and now, I have managed to keep the picture in the entrance way to my house on the same wall as the door. This means no day light is shining right on it because there are no other windows. The picture has lived in a darker area of my homes for over 50 years. People comment on how great the colors still look. Sunlight is a real killer. Put a newspaper on the front seat of your car and leave it there all day then you will see what I mean.

      1. It’s All Good*

        Thanks for the tips! I really want what’s best, even if it means I spend more. I want me first row DMB ticket to live forever!

    3. Llellayena*

      If you’re able to spend on custom framing, I’d go that route. Ask for acid free matting and UV resistant glass. And don’t hang it on a sunny wall…

      1. Reba*

        You can get not-custom frames with UV protective glass from art supply stores such as Blick or Utrecht.

        I often buy and assemble my own from a supplier like American Frame dot com… But I have some experience with this.

        For mounting, an acid free back board (mat board or foam core–could be fun to do a colored mat board) and use a spray adhesive or stick on photo corners or glue dots. Get archival products not like scrapbook grade (no disrespect meant, just that stuff in the Michael’s scrapbook aisle or whatever is often overpriced for the quality).

        Agree with WS about reproductions of the tickets, though.

        Sounds like a great project!

      2. It’s All Good*

        I thought about saving for custom framing. But honestly I can see myself shift all the tickets around a million times. Although I suppose I can do that and take a picture for the framer.

    4. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I think most of the others are right, but my low-cost DIY approach would honestly be collage. Get some Mod Podge and some poster frames, and just decoupage them directly onto the cardboard that comes with the frames. You totally cover the tickets, front and back, but it dries clear so it should prevent them from fading (though I’d test a couple first in case the mod podge does something weird to thermal paper), maybe google some decoupage tips, but that’s what I would do!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Test that first! Some printers use cheap tech that can be destroyed by innocuous things. I once used a highlighter to mark the warranty item on a receipt and it turned black in days. Lucky for me that drier didn’t die within warranty!

      2. It’s All Good*

        Thanks. Yes I plan to rest whatever method I use. I saved some Fair tickets that I won’t be framing but are the same type of tickets.

    5. taylor swift*

      krylon preserve-it spray (I bought from amazon) – it sprays a protective coating over the paper to keep it from fading. i’ve used it for photos that were printed on cardstock and they’ve lasted for the past 3 years without fading – I’ve added several each year to the collection and the quality from the ones done three years ago look the same as the new ones

    6. It’s All Good*

      What do you think is more interesting, a mash up of concerts or placing them in date order or by group, like my eight U2 tickets together but random group order or alpha group order?

    7. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I have about 25 tickets that are printed from a printer.

      Are you talking about print-at-home tickets? No advice on how to display them, but I’d definitely suggest saving the PDF image, if you still have it. I have season tickets to my local MLB team, and even though I use the digital tickets through my phone to get into the ballpark, I have PDFs of every print-at-home ticket just because I like having ’em.

      (Unfortunately, my team will no longer offer print-at-home tickets starting next season. Apparently MLB wants all of the teams to go digital, but this is a misguided move for many reasons. Won’t get into ’em here because I don’t want to disrupt the thread.)

      Regarding reader WS’ comment…

      If the tickets are from a thermal printer, they will fade or (depending on the paper) go completely dark.

      In 2000, there was a short-lived ATM-type kiosk located in malls that sold tickets to sporting events. I bought a ticket to a ballgame through one of those kiosks, partially because I wanted to see what the ticket looked like.

      In 2012, I made an enhanced scan of the ticket stub and posted the image online. Even enhanced, the printed part of the ticket was very faint – on the actual ticket, the printed part was virtually illegible! This was 12 years after the ticket was printed, and I can only wonder what it looks like now, in 2019 (I’ve got it put away somewhere – if I want to look at it, all I need to do is see the scanned image.)

  15. Angwyshaunce*

    I mentioned upthread that I’m starting to learn video game programming. Does anyone want to share an interesting skill that they are either trying to learn, or want to learn?

    1. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      I want to learn to sing on tune. I got an app, but finding time to walk around singing “laaaaa” without getting strange looks from spouse and kids has been difficult

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Ooh does the app specifically help train your voice or is it just a tuner and you’re trying to match the note? (Not trying to come off judgy/dismissive if it’s the second one, genuinely curious) I’ve always wanted to be able to sing, I never considered there might be an app for that.

        1. Just a Guy in A Cube*

          Sing True for iOS. It starts with the basics – listen to notes and identify higher/lower. Identify your most comfortable pitch, and practice singing that regularly. It gamification things, so as you can do those excel uses consistently, it adds more. I haven’t gotten much beyond those basics, so can’t speak to where it gets to.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You know that video game Guitar Hero? I know somebody who used it to practice his trombone. You could use it for anything it’s just pitch!

      3. Julia*

        I started singing lessons last year (mostly to improve my range, but also to keep my voice healthy) and if that’s something you might consider and it’s in your budget, it can be really interesting! The teacher won’t judge you (if they do, find another one) and might help you within a few lessons if there’s something that prevents you from being on pitch, like maybe your production doesn’t follow your hearing.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As for a skill… I’ve always loved reading out loud, so my husband has gotten the software and a good of a headphone with microphone for me, and I’m going to experiment making audiobook recordings. I expect the biggest problem is going to be the 12 year old snearing into the room and suddenly saying ‘CATS!” because she does that to me lots if I use speech to text.

    3. LizB*

      I signed up for a beginning wheel-throwing pottery class — it won’t take place for a couple of months, but I’m so excited about it!

      1. fposte*

        Ooh, report back on how you like it when you start. I love pottery. The Great Pottery Throwdown (which I heard about on AAM from Rana) has some episodes on YouTube now–if you haven’t watched it, you might want to have a look.

    4. CherryScary*

      Calligraphy! The reddit community has a ton of resources and lessons for different hand styles and I’ve discovered there’s a calligraphy society that meets once a month down the road from me! Their next meeting is next week, so going to go check that out.

    5. Nessun*

      Posted down thread, I’m learning Tarot reading – totally fascinating investigation of the psyche and personal intuition. Definitely weirding out some of my family and friends, but I’m very much enjoying it!

      1. Tau*

        I learned a bit of tarot shortly after I graduated high school and have been thinking about getting back into it as something of a self-analysis tool. It’s definitely fun, although I know what you mean about weirding out family and friends – I am from a super rational/science-y family and had to reassure them I didn’t actually believe I was foretelling the future or anything.

    6. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I don’t know how you feel about Yahtzee Crowshaw (entirely reasonable to hate him) but he has a youtube series I’ve been really enjoying where he’s committed to creating one video game a month for 12 months. He shares a lot about how he approaches structuring the games, and a lot of it are really fun and interesting ways he approaches specific things – how to animate a character walking so it looks good, how to do an easy day/night cycle, how he fixed this issue with the computer keeping beat with songs improperly in a rhythm game, that kind of thing. Really interesting! Warning, if you’ve never watched a Yahtzee video, he swears a lot.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve never heard of him, but will definitely check it out. Funny you should mention character animation – that is my next thing to learn.

        I found a blog where someone is doing something similar – they are trying to recreate the original Legend of Zelda using the graphic assets from Link to the Past, showing and explaining each painful step. Link (no pun intended) to follow.

    7. JobHunter*

      I have dabbled in R programming for a few years, and now would like to learn spatial analysis. I would also like to learn how to program a robot vacuum so it swears mild curses when it bumps into things. (I found a video on YouTube.)

    8. Meepmeep*

      I’m attempting to learn Biblical Hebrew. Not religious at all, just fascinated with the time period and the history and the language.

  16. Françoise*

    Time to put away my summer clothes! I’m keeping a few colorful pieces to brighten up my winter wardrobe which is mostly black/brown/white. So my question is: how do you store clothes that are out of season for 6+ months?

    Our apartment is too small and has no space for storing anything other than what we use almost daily. However, we have a storage unit in the cellar of the building. It’s gonna be our first winter here so I haven’t fully tested how it is but it didn’t seem to get damp and no mold spotted so far.

    I had the winter clothes down there in suitcases (some hard shell, some soft shell, some waterproof plastic) but I’m starting to wonder if I should buy those vacuum compress bags first and put the cubes into the suitcases. Any thoughts?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Depending on space, I use those plastic totes you can get in Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, etc. If they’re going in a closet I use the stackable ones. Otherwise I use the under-the-bed ones and store them under the bed. I’ve never had any issues at all.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Sorry. just noticed you mentioned basement storage. I haven’t done that with clothing, but I would think plastic totes would be fine. I haven’t tried the vacuum bags for anything.

        1. Fikly*

          If there’s any chance your basement storage might flood, make sure the bins are waterproof! (Don’t ask about my sad experience.)

          1. fposte*

            Oh, no! My area floods aren’t deep, but seepage is pretty common, so I definitely try to keep stuff off the floor proper. I used wood pallets, which are pretty easy to find for free in my area, until I got metal shelves, and there were definitely a few times when I was glad I did.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Industrial metal shelves from Home Depot were invaluable for organizing our basement and garage. They aren’t pretty, but they are functional and inexpensive, and they will keep your boxes up off the ground.

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      Buy the vacuum bags. Even if it isn’t to compress things but just to keep stuff out. Things in storage acquire a smell and attract insects. Maybe even put a scent neutralizer/deodorizer or bug repellent in the cases.

      1. Grace*

        Vacuum bags are great. I use them to bundle up winter duvets to store on top of wardrobes. Get good-quality ones, though, and be incredibly careful to not rip them.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Agree on the vacuum bags. Just be careful not to bend them after compressing, or they might unseal themselves.
        Lavender is very good bug repellent, and prevents a musty odor. Even if you don’t like lavender scent, it’s a lot easier to get rid of lavender than musty smells. I recommend it wherever you keep your winter woolens, too, both in season and in storage.

    3. Overeducated*

      I use a soft fabric container under the bed since my current apartment has no external storage (*sob*), but when I had it, I used big plastic tupperwares. That kept bugs, dust, and moisture out.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I recommend the vacuum bags if space is tight, or if you live in a damp climate. For the latter, I make sure the clothes are really dry first (running the dehumidifier in the same room over night), then pack them, which keeps the clothes from smelling musty the following spring.

      I’ve still got another month or two before I can pack stuff away, though.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Yep, for basement storage I’d definitely go with the vacuum bags — they protect against damp and bugs SO much better, and you’ll almost certainly have some issues with damp over winter.

    6. fposte*

      I do vacuum bags in a plastic storage tote, so I like your idea of vacuum bag and then into the suitcase. Extra barriers are good.

    7. Not A Manager*

      If you’re concerned about dampness, buy some desiccant packs and put them into the bins. You can get fairly large quantities online. The packs vary in size from tiny to large, so be sure you’re getting the right size.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        THIS. I lost some cloth mementos that were packed into a cookie tin on a day that wasn’t even very humid–all mildewed.

    8. Alexandra Lynch*

      I had a very small house for years, and stored my out-of-season clothing under the bed in a low flat plastic tote. It had wheels so I could pull it out and push it back. (I had several; that was also where the spare sheets for the bed were, and the extra blankets.)

  17. Valancy Snaith*

    I finally got the call to write my Canadian citizenship test Thursday! I’m very excited and a bit nervous, and I’ll be very glad when it’s over.

    1. Snarflepants*

      Most excellent! Canada is very lucky to have you as a new citizen.
      Remember, its traditional to bring either a lacrosse or hockey stick to the citizenship test. Also, you have to say “Oh yeah, no, for sure Eh?” during a conversation. Complete the day by visiting Tim Hortons and ordering g a double double coffee with a box of Timbits.

    2. Roz Doyle*

      I am three days late to this, but hoping you’ll see this anyway. Congrats and Good Luck on Thursday! Agree with all others, this def calls for a double-double :D. Let us know how it went! :)

    1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Oh I’d love to do this! I have the book and tried it on my own years ago, did not get far, sadly.

      1. Hazy days*

        Great! I’m hoping we’re a little group ready to start Week 1 today, but copies of the book may not have arrived.

        Do you have your book ready to go?

    2. greenthumb*

      Hi. Doggone it, good news and bad news. Good news is the book arrived. Bad news is Amazon packed it in a flimsy envelope that burst a corner, book got greasy/oily in transit, and I’m waiting on a replacement, which the supervisor wouldn’t let the CSR expedite.

      I’m sorry! The replacement won’t ship until midweek apparently and I wrapped the original in some clean rags and sent it back, so nothing to peek at in the interim.

      1. Hazy days*

        Oh – what a disappointment for you! I was wondering what had happened.

        But we do now have YouWantMeTo to join our little group of people wanting to explore their creativity, so that’s good.

        YouWant, Green and Hazy will get ready to Artists Way, and so will anyone else who wants to join.

        For people who haven’t come across it, this is an approach to unblocking creativity using a workbook by a well-known writer called Julia Cameron. It is both quite eccentric and (in my experience) ridiculously successful, if you actually throw yourself into her mindset. You need about 30 mins per day, time for your ‘Artists’ Date’ each week, and time to reflect on your week.

        To get going, we need Artists’ Way Books found / ordered/ sorted out by Evil Amazon. Exercise books and pens selected for the morning pages exercise.
        If we get going before the end of Sept, we’ll be through the ten week course by Christmas.

        I have already been doing morning pages (3 pages of freehand mind blurt onto paper in the morning, to be thrown away unread) and today I took myself on a terrific Artist’s Date, to see a ceramics exhibition at a local gallery.

  18. CoffeeforLife*

    Does anyone brew water kefir? I’ve been doing it for a while now and one of my bottles exploded, sending glass into three different rooms. I am looking for bottles that withstand a second carbonation (it was a swing top that went boom).

  19. Dog fights*

    Any suggestions for dogs not getting along about once or twice a week? We have 2 dogs, each about 8 pounds, different breeds. Dog 1 was 5 years old when we got Dog 2 (who was 13 years old at the time of adoption). For the most part they’ve been fine with each other until 3 or 4 months ago. Dog 1 attacks 2 at no apparent provocation. We feed them separately. The fights are not about toys, food. Dog 1 will be in the living room, on the couch with me. Dog 2 will walk in from a bedroom husband is in and walk across the living room. They make brief eye contact. (As a human I cannot read anything aggressive in Dog 2’s eyes. She seems to be saying ‘hey. I’m a dog. Walking. How’s it going?). Dog 1 leaps off the couch and growls and instigates. Dog 2 stands her ground and growls back. Barking, growling and physical contact ensue. We separate them as fast as we can and put Dog 2 in a time out (another room with a baby gate). We check them for injuries and nothing yet thank goodness.
    We’ve tried obedience classes with both of them but so far no luck. They go to day camp and play with other dogs. When they are crated together at day camp (they do this after 5pm until I pick them up at 6:30) they have no problems. They have no problems with other dogs or each other at day camp.

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Any chance Dog 1 is developing arthritis? Dogs in pain will often reflexively lash out at the closest fellow creature if they don’t understand the source of the pain. Maybe they’re getting stiff while sleeping and get a sharp pain from looking up as someone enters the room? I’d schedule a vet visit to rule out anything physiological first.

    2. university minion*

      Get dog 2 (the one being attacked) evaluated for seizures. They can be almost imperceptible to humans yet be enough to provoke another dog to attack.

      It may (just as likely) be dog 1 asserting his claim to space over the older dog, particularly if there is warning behavior like growling/barking. I’d also restrict dog 1 from the couch and institute a “Nothing in Life is Free” policy with him or both dogs – ie, sit/do a behavior for meals, attention, etc.

      1. T minus a year*

        I second this. Get both dogs checked out at the vet. We had two dogs that got along great until they didn’t. Then one was diagnosed with seizures (probably a brain tumor), the other developed Cushing’s Disease. Our vet thought each dog might have realized something was off about the other.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I was going to say the same thing. One of my dogs started attacking the other for no reason. Took the attacked dog to the vet for a check-up and found out she had cancer. She didn’t live very long afterward. My other one got sick within three months and died also. I think she mostly grieved herself to death. Sorry, I realize how horrible this sounds and this may not have any bearing on what’s going on with your dogs, but a vet visit couldn’t hurt.

    3. Venus*

      Physical issues and pain are always good to rule out but if it is only happening in this one scenario then behavioural is likely the reason. If it is this one situation then it isn’t random.

      How long were they okay? How old is dog2 now? It could be that dog2 has vision issues (common in old dogs) and no longer gives dog1 the right cues (for example looking away). If it is the situation where dog2 comes into a room where dog1 is cuddled with you, is it likely that dog1 is protecting you? Is dog2 intending to get on the couch with you? Does it happen every time this situation occurs?

      Definitely consider the physical but this seems behavioural although it’s very hard to give suggestions with so little info, sorry.

    4. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Do you know dog language well enough to tell a play growl from a growl growl? One of our beasts sounded like a whole dog fight when she played. If they haven’t hurt each other, maybe it’s because they aren’t trying to?

    5. anonagain*

      Have you tried working with a certified behaviorist? That would be my next step, personally. I really wouldn’t wait to consult an expert in person, because the longer the behavior continues the harder it will be to break and the greater the possibility that one of your dogs will get hurt.

      This post from vet behaviorist Jen Summerfield talks a bit about what obedience classes are useful for and what they don’t really help with: http://www.drjensdogblog.com/when-obedience-isnt-the-answer/

      She also talks about how to find a behaviorist. If you do go this route, please make sure that the person you are working with uses humane training methods.

    6. Dog fights OP*

      Thank you all for your thoughts. Dog 1 is 8 years old. Dog 2 is 16. They have both been to the vet in the past month for their checkups and shots. They’ve found nothing amiss. We have had dog 2 for 3 years and dog 1 for 7.5 years.

      We will be on the lookout for any health issues for both dogs. Dog 2 def could have vision issues. She is not blind but looks like she has cataracts. Dog 2 is def slowing down, not jumping as high, a bit more clumsy compared to 3 years ago. But then if I were her age I prob wouldn’t be jumping around at all.

      They play together very well so the attacks are def not playing. When they play it has a cute bouncy vibe with lots of pauses, growls with gentle pouncing, and tail wagging. This is a different timbre of growl.

    7. Animal worker*

      Agree with the vet checks. A couple other thoughts from your description. You mention that you don’t think this is about toys/food, but it sounds like it could still be resource-guarding of you, if it happens frequently when dog 1 is with you when this occurs. Also, if dog 1 is the instigator, timing out dog 2 may not be the best response since a time out is a form of negative punishment to try and change behavior, and the dog being punished wasn’t the instigator.

      The good news is that you have a pattern to work with which might give you some tools to mitigate this. You know that if dog 1 is on the couch with you and dog 2 enters that this may spur an incident. So maybe have some treat containers near the couch and if you’re with dog 1 and dog 2 enters, tell dog 1 to stay/target/handshake or whatever – basically a trained behavior that is done on the couch with you to give dog 1 a choice – stay with mom and do a behavior to get treats or jump down and instigate a fight. So you are intervening BEFORE the aggression to give dog 1 a different behavioral choice. You could also begin pairing dog 2 entering with a training session/playtime/small feeding for the dogs so that both being in the same room in this context means something fun versus aggression. It’s easier to teach an animal TO do something than it is to NOT do something, so replacing the negative behavior (before it occurs whenever possible) can be a great strategy. Good luck.

      1. Dog fight OP*

        Oh. Thanks for pointing out my typo. Dog 1 goes to the time out room. Dog 2 does not. We try to encourage dog 2 to stay in the living room and try to reassure her that is a welcome part of the family.

        But will def try to associate Dog 2’s presence in the living room as a good thing for dog 1 by giving them both treats and praise.

      2. fposte*

        Yes, the fact that dog 1 is in a very high value location and next to you when she gets aggressive strongly suggests resource guarding–she’s saying “Don’t even think you can get *near* any of this.”

        And I heartily second the notion of giving dog 1 job when dog 2 comes in, both so she can get good associations and be refocused on you.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I’m not a dog trainer, but have you considered proactively calling Dog 2 over to you when you are sitting with Dog 1, so that you can hold 1’s collar/pet them both/generally manage their interaction? If you’re holding the collar when 1 starts growling, then you can soothe 1 and redirect him when 2 joins you.

    9. Critter*

      It could be related to Dog 2’s age. Our vet warned us about that, and I’m starting to see it as one of our dogs gets older. If the older one’s eyesight or hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, she may be missing “hey, back off” signals from the younger dog that she used to be happy to obey. Then, when the older one (accidentally) plows through the younger one’s stated boundaries, the younger one interprets that as unprovoked aggression. Meanwhile, the older one has no idea what they did, so they also interpret the younger dog’s actions as unprovoked aggression. Do check with your vet, they’ll probably want to make sure both dogs are healthy.

  20. LGC*

    So I’m just going to launch into the running thread for the first time in ages.

    Anyway. It’s the start of (meteorological) fall where I’m at, and the start of the fall racing season here. First up for me is…5th Avenue Mile tomorrow. It’ll be my first time doing it, and I’m hoping I can break 4:40 this time! (My last two mile races were 4:55 (the same day I ran a 10k) and 4:43 (after coming down with a fever and sore throat the day before), so I’m hoping I can pull this off!)

    The main event for me is the NYC Marathon again. I’m about three weeks in to official training right now, although I ran through the summer. So far, training has been up and down, but hopefully things get back on track.

    (Also, pacing a half, racing at least one half, and probably slipping in something else along the way.)

    So yeah! What are you guys up to?

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

      My plantar fasciitis is 99.8 percent gone but the 0.2 percent that’s left is stubbornly hanging on. I’m slowly increasing my weekend mileage, but out of an abundance of caution, won’t be running another half marathon this year.

      I think I can totally swing a 10K, though, and I very much want to run one before the end of the year, to show to myself that I’ve come back from injury. Unfortunately, I’ve only found three interesting ones all fall and they’re on September 21 and October 26, both days I have work commitments I can’t get out of. I’m disappointed to see that 10K appears to be a declining distance. There appear to me to be more halfs and many more 5Ks–but significantly fewer 10Ks–in 2019 than when I started running at the start of the 2000s. It sort of feels like going to a Ford dealership and being offered the choice between a base Mustang with a 90-horsepower four cylinder engine and a GT Mustang with a 450-horsepower V8, and nothing available in between.

      1. A bit of a saga*

        Plantar fasciitis, urgh! I’m also battling it. Have made some progress with stretches, icing and a massage ball (and less mileage) but would love to hear what worked for you. I’m also passing on 10ks until 2020 but here there seem to be plenty of 10ks – hoping to be ready for my neighborhood race in 2 weeks but if not there are more. And LGC, go go go on getting under 4:40!

        1. fposte*

          I had good luck with eccentric exercises on the stairs and brilliant luck with the FootLog. The stretches made mine much worse.

          1. A bit of a saga*

            I have never heard of a footlog, might check it out! I also make those exercises, they definitely help.

            1. fposte*

              You can see it on Amazon. I think it really varies for people, but for some of us it’s sheer magic. It’s pretty clear from other stuff that I respond well to approaches that reset things neurologically, which is pretty much what this does, rather than focusing completely on stretching and strengthening.

        2. Fikly*

          Plantar fascitis is the worst! I have only had a mild case, but my mom’s was pretty nasty. She ended up with a newly developed treatment that she says worked wonders, and I always like to mention it because most people haven’t heard about it. Apparently it works for some and not for others, like most things, alas.

          It’s super powerful ultrasound, essentially. Not the kind you get in physical therapy, this has to be done in a doctor’s office. It takes about 5 minutes, hurts when they do it (sorry) and you can need 1-3 treatments per foot. As I recall, most insurance won’t cover it, but it was under $500 for 1 treatment for both feet, and she only ended up needing the one. Obviously this is over some people’s budgets, but is not that much more than custom orthotics.

          I’m not going to include a link, but google percutaneous ultrasonic fasciotomy and plantar fascitis and it should come up. My mom had it done several years ago and her pain is still much better than before.

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

          Stretching exercises and reducing my mileage (actually, completely stopping running for three weeks, then running drastically less mileage and gradually rebuilding up) worked. Getting fitted for the proper running shoes for my feet — instead of just buying from a big-box store — also had to have helped. The thing that helped the most were 3/4-length orthotics. Oddly, they were not the ones my podiatrist recommended, but the ones my wife’s podiatrist recommended for *her* feet.

          I had mixed results with the ice bottle my podiatrist recommended; on some days, that seemed to make things worse.

          1. A bit of a saga*

            I also stopped for a couple of weeks and got some insoles for my normal shoes, though not for my running shoes. It got much better but lately it’s worse again (though I am still running very little). Will check out the other suggestions in this thread I haven’t tried yet.

      2. LGC*

        They ARE fairly hard to find, though! I think you’re on to something – the 10k distance is being cannibalized by both the 5k and half, since a lot of people want to just jump up to a challenge after their first 5k, and a half marathon sounds more impressive.

        Plus, it is MUCH easier to organize a 5k, since you have half the distance you need to set aside, marshall, and so on. (And less than half the time you need the roads for.)

        I’m not sure how I feel about it – even if I don’t love the 10k (or rather, it doesn’t love me), I’m all for different distances. (Obviously.)

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

          I do understand that it’s harder than ever for race organizers to put on a race, and considering all the constraints, they have to do what will attract the most people. But, still, it’s disappointing for sure.

          There is a donut-themed 5K happening on Randall’s Island in November, and I’m dying to do it because I LOVE donuts (which would explain why I can’t break two hours in a half marathon anymore), but… it’s a 5K! 90 minutes of travel time each way — plus the normal time standing around before a race, which honestly I don’t much like, to run for 30 minutes. The math doesn’t add up for me. I asked the organizers if they’d consider a 10K in the future and got a lukewarm response… oh well.

    2. Searching*

      My Achilles tendon is acting up a bit (even though I’ve had a very low mileage summer) so I’m taking it easy. Just running 3-4 miles with my running group twice a week. Tried different shoes but that hasn’t done much for me yet. Doing some stretching and eccentric movement on the advice of a PT. Hope it resolves soon.

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

      Also – good luck in Fifth Avenue Mile, LGC! It’s over basically as soon as it starts but it’s still a cool race!

      1. LGC*

        Thanks! I have noticed that no matter what the distance, 3/4 of the way through I’m usually like, “Do I HAVE to go the other 1/4?”

    4. Ktelzbeth*

      I had my last triathlon of the season, a sprint distance, this morning. I felt a little short of zip on the bike and was wondering if I was still tired from my hilly Olympic last weekend, but then the run was great. I was awarded first in my age group, because the two people ahead of me were pulled out for second and third overall.

      I’m not running the local fall marathon tomorrow and am trying to put together my fall lineup. I know I’ll do Newton Hills trail race, 10k option, in October. I’ll miss this month’s race in the trail series because of work.

      Good healing to all who are injured, stay healthy to those who are not, and good luck to everyone!

    5. JobHunter*

      The snapping hip business is sorting out; I can walk normally with minimal discomfort. We have been taking long walks on the gravel roads a few miles outside of town. Hopefully I can start trotting around the city parks and get back on the C25k plan…

    6. LGC*

      Update: 4:51, but at least part of that was being far back and with the guys running 6:00. (Also: I’m a musicphile, but seriously dudes, you got your AirPods in for a mile race?)

      Also, I almost thought I lost my glasses, biked back up to Grand Army Plaza from Penn…and then I realized they were in one of my pockets and I just didn’t feel them the first time.

    7. londonedit*

      Well done on the mile race!

      No parkrun for me this week as my parents were visiting, but yesterday morning I headed out with a friend for a lovely 10-mile run. We have our local half-marathon coming up in three weeks’ time so we ran various bits of the course, and I was pretty pleased with our pacing and with how I felt at the end. My goal for this race is always just to enjoy the fantastic atmosphere and enjoy running with friends, so I’m probably going to start slowly on the day and see how I feel. There are a few hills on the way round that make pacing interesting! I think my course PB is something like 2:05 so if I can run close to that I’ll be happy (pace yesterday was 9:30/mile for the 10 miles).

  21. Oh here we go*

    I am on a train to go visit my in-laws for my mum-in-law’s birthday. I adore her. But his sister who is just awful is going to be there! Any tips for surviving the weekend with a vapid self-centered cow who has to one-up everyone including her own mum and makes everything about her.

    She complained when her mum brought her boyfriend of 2 years to our wedding. Because she didn’t like the boyfriend and insisted her mum only brought her to upset her. We specifically invited the boyfriend to OUR wedding. Thats how bad she is. And every time I see her she asks why I am not pregnant yet. Ugh.

    1. Lemonish*

      It helps me, in difficult social situations, to pretend that I’m an anthropologist studying the weird habits of an unusual group of people. That way, I have an emotional and mental barrier between me and my “subjects”. I also amuse myself by thinking about what I’d write in a report. (“The dominant female seems insistent about making sure that the group survives in the future. She has asked each coupled female a minimum of three times when they plan to have offspring.”)

      Basically, my advice is to minimise the amount of time you spend near her and remember that everything is her weird stuff and not your problem to solve, worry about, or feel bad about. Good responses to unwanted questions (in a tone of absolute curiosity): “Why do you ask?” “How soon do you think we should have kids?” “Why does it matter to you?”

      1. valentine*

        If she’s not going to physically assault anyone and it’s any fun, one-up her right back, with obvious lies about how you invented the Moon and are the landlord of Buckingham Palace.

        SIL: Why aren’t you pregnant yet?
        You: Waiting on you. (Don’t elaborate. Maybe singsong and winking.)

        1. Oh here we go*

          I love the waiting on you!

          So I survived the weekend. To be fair he has 4 sisters and 3 are fabulous and I do love my in-laws. Its just her.

          I have told her in the past not to ask and that we will tell her if anything ever changes but I think she feels like she is encouraging us. It only came up once when she was talking about moving away unless we plan on having a kid soon so she can be an auntie and I told her I would help her pack.

          I did limit my interaction with her as much as possible so it went alright. The idea of imagining her (and a few others) as test subjects really did help. That is absolute gold. Makes it so much easier not to take it personally.

      2. peg*

        I actually do this too but I pretend to be a psychologist and I’m mentally writing a case study on my awful narcissist sister in law. Detaching from her personally helps me to stop being so affected by her nastiness; I can just observe it and dissect it in my head and feel like I have the upper hand. It helps me ignore her pointed little digs and her attempts to rile everyone up by pushing their most sensitive buttons and cutting them down and her gaslighting. Her signature move is quietly saying the cruelest thing possible, waiting for a reaction, denying she ever said anything, and loudly following up with “why are you so ANGRY and sensitive all the time? you really should see a therapist, you are just so full of anger, it can’t be healthy for you.”
        My mental case study on her has to be about 3,000 pages by now.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Have you told her to stop asking about your pregnancy status? People like this need clear and direct instructions.
      While you might not ever speak to anyone else this way, your SIL opened the door for whatever, so give her instructions, “No and stop asking.”

      And dial back your own thoughts. Calling her a cow is not going to help you get along with her better. It’s like throwing gas on a fire. While you may be justified in being angry with her, hammering on why you are justified will only make things worse not better. I know when I got going on calling someone “that stupid idiot” or whatever, it just helped me to find even more ways to get more angry. I started looking even harder at what they were doing and I kept stirring my own pot.

      This person is who she is. Teach yourself to expect nothing from this person and you will have less surprises when they do… nothing…
      Focus on enjoying your MIL. Let MIL handle her daughter or not, as she wishes. Don’t try to fix it. We don’t get to pick our in-laws, even though we SHOULD be able to do that! If need be, conspire with your hubby to take breaks for your SIL by going for walks or making a grocery store run, etc. Perhaps the two of you can go for lunch with just your MIL. Deliberately plan workarounds and take control of how much time you have to be near this person.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      If you can pull this off, smile like an angel and say sweetly, “Oh, that [pregnancy] is up to [insert name of higher authority].” However, you have to have a reputation for being at least somewhat religiously inclined. I suppose I was lucky in that on the only time I tried this, it succeeded–with an acquaintance whom I knew was active in their congregation and who understood me to be similarly involved with mine.

      BUT: Not So NewReader’s suggestion sounds much more effective for all kinds of inquisitors. Simple and watertight with no room left for arguing.

      Nothing stops the hellbent, gonna-drive-a-tank-over-all-social-obstacles inquisitor except for one’s own ability to overlook, redirect, ignore, and/or firmly shut down further discussion. In the end it takes two to converse but we are not obliged to discuss sensitive-for-us subjects with every random so-and-so.

    4. MigratingCoconuts*

      Turn it back on her. No, but why do you keep asking? Is your self worth somehow tied into my uterus? Or beat her to it. Instead of saying Hi, how are you, say Hi, no we’re not pregnant. Or just tell her to ask her brother. Have fun with it! If you make it a game, it can be fun. As for one-upping everyone, don’t make eye-contact with her while she’s blathering on, and when she stops to draw breath, say to your MIL (or whoever was speaking) So tell me more about xyz, or something along those lines. Or be more direct, such as, What were you saying before Cruella interrupted? Overall, just keep in mind that she has some serious self esteem issues, and feel sorry for her. She’s probably not a happy person.

    5. LGC*

      …but tell us how you REALLY feel about your SIL!

      Okay, so. To be serious: think of it as just one weekend. You’re only stuck with her until Sunday! And if she gets overly annoying, excuse yourself if possible.

      If she asks about the occupation levels of your uterus, you can tell her that you don’t have plans and to not ask anymore. (Or you can be even more direct.)

    6. MatKnifeNinja*

      “When are you getting pregnant?”

      “When will you get a brain, sis?”

      With someone that ratchet, it would tough not laughing straight in her face.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Stay in a hotel. This will give you time away to decompress from it all. You can even go back to the hotel for a nap in the afternoon!

  22. Anon For This*

    Anyone had luck with asking a family member you care for dearly to cut way back on the daily updates about a family member you don’t talk to because you’re way happier with boundaries in place? I’m starting to dread phone calls for the near-inevitable “but enough about you, on to sibling’s many many problems.”

    Intellectually I grasp that this is what’s on her mind, a burden shared is a burden halved, etc. Emotionally it usually hits as either a request to somehow fix everything, or like being the supremely boring beige sheep whose life can never compare to the excitement of the black sheep.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If you can’t come up with anything else, when they start talking about the sib you can say, “Oh my, look at the time, gotta go!”
      A burden shared is a burden perpetuated, in my opinion. I don’t do well with people who avoid action plans. I have been very off putting to some folks when I have pointed out, “This is the third time you have told me about this, so it sounds like you need an action plan here. Let’s talk about steps of action you can do starting today.”
      And suddenly the conversation will end. ha!

      I will say if you go the action plan route, you can expect to hear less and less from certain types of people.

      1. Acornia*

        Wow. You don’t sound terribly compassionate. Many, many people just need a listening ear because they process thoughts and emotions verbally. Not everyone needs an action plan like you.
        A good friend is one who understands that different people process differently, and don’t try to force action plans on people who don’t need that right then.
        Try compassion instead of action plans.

        1. Washi*

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting limits on how much and often someone processes the same thing over and over. No one has the obligation to be a dumping ground for a friend or family member’s stress. And that’s a compassionate response – you don’t do anyone any favors by letting them vent over and over until you’re sick of it and dread seeing them.

          1. The Francher Kid*

            THIS. It took me years to learn that refusing to be someone’s emotional dumping ground did not mean that I was a bad person lacking in compassion. Especially when the person venting had no intention of doing anything about it except dumping all the bad energy on me.

            1. Beatrice*

              Yep! And some people need to be prompted to DO something about a problem. My husband used to vent to me about aches and pains without ever bothering to take a mild pain reliever. I set the boundary that any conversation about pain will start with me asking whether he’s taken any ibuprofen lately. Now he remembers to take it more often and I hear about aches and pains less often and am happy to commiserate or help him out with a muscle rub or distraction when the ibuprofen isn’t cutting it. He just didn’t independently think to solve his problem that way as he got older and started developing new aches and pains. :)

          2. Anon for This*

            My experience with verbal processors has largely been that it will be the exact same problems, over and over and over. In this particular case, I think it falls that way because dear relative believes drama relative will cut ties if they ever receive a hint of push back. (My usually patient spouse gave pushback, once, leading to the not talking (on their side) and “whew, this is so much nicer” (on mine).)

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Right on, Washi. I was that compassionate person for almost 30 years for one person and about 20 years for a second person. I heard the same stories over and over and over. Then I realized this was not compassion, this was enablement, because I had not drawn my lines. Just as OP says here when I was around these two, I failed to exist. It was all about their problems. They unloaded on me so that they could go back into the repetition, they would pick up a fresh load of upset and call me to dump off the next load of upset.

            In a typical example, the second person would call me frequently and each time it was two hours going over stuff they already told me. I knew I let it go on too long because once I said, “You already told me this”, the response was that I needed to shut up and listen. I am not their therapist. There are therapy models where a person repeats their upset over and over and eventually it diffuses the power of the upset. So it does help, I guess? I am not a qualified professional and my chances of exasperating the issues were probably pretty high.

            OP, I hope you see your own parallels here. I hope you are able to redirect toward a therapist. Some problems are not ours to solve.

            PS: FWIW, OP, I later found out that my two people had other people they were doing the same thing with. So it went like this, they would call me, dump off a load of problems, hang up with me and call SOMEONE ELSE! They lead that next person to believe that they too were the only person on earth that the caller could confide in. The next person also spent hours going over the same material. omg.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      “You would need to talk to $BlackSheep about that” in a dull tone and on repeat has worked for me in the past.

      Sympathy, though. It’s hard to feel like your only function is as a person who knows another person, rather than any brilliance in your own right.

    3. Acornia*

      Be very up front about it.
      “Mom, you know I have chosen to have no contact with so-and-so because I need some space from their (drug addiction, mooching, whatever). Can you respect that and only tell me the biggest news on rare occasions?”

      1. Anon for This*

        Intermittent mooching against a steady backdrop of all the bad luck and bad decisions that lead to the mooching.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, it’s rough when there’s been a steady erosion of the relationship.

          But it sounds like you haven’t straight out identified what you want yet–I’m guessing for fear of hurting her feelings? In which case I think you may need to identify your choice to yourself: are you deliberately choosing to listen because you think the conversation with her would be too hurtful to be worth it, or are you choosing to ask for what you want because these conversations are too hard for you to be worth it? Right now it doesn’t sound like she has any reason to think you don’t want to have these conversations. I think either answer can be okay, but I also don’t think minor hurt feelings are the end of the world. She also, I think, may not realize that what she’s doing is really bad for her relationship with you, which she seems to be taking for granted.

          And FWIW, I don’t think this kind of constant worry-venting is actually good for her either. It’s an anxiety response that feels good in the moment but overall exacerbates the problem. It’s certainly nothing you need to allow her to do with you for therapeutic reasons.

    4. No fan of Chaos*

      Try saying with some desperation while holding the phone away from your mouth as if talking to someone else, “I told you, I’m coming!”. Then apologize and hang up.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Have you tried Grey-Rock-ing the subject? No response other than “cool, “huh,” “bummer,” “wow,” and “so what are you going to do about it?” That usually does the trick. If not, I’d be as short and clear as possible: “I’m sorry, but I’ve hit my limit on X-talk for the day. How about that [other thing]?” then refuse to discuss any more about the person or get into *why* you don’t want to talk about it. “I’m just done for the day. Do you want to talk about [other thing]?” Then just leave/stop replying if they won’t stop talking about it.

      Don’t frame it as “please cut back on X,” but rather “I will only be listening to a small amount of X talk at a time.”

      1. Anon for This*

        I think it doesn’t work here because dear relative is a bit hard of hearing and interprets any sounds from me as continuing the conversation.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Does your parent know that you don’t talk to Sibling? Or do they think you “just don’t get along” but don’t know that you’re estranged?

      If your parent knows, then I think you can actually just ask them to stop bringing up Sibling. Say that you’re sorry things are hard for both of them, but that you just can’t be helpful and you prefer not to hear about it. You can do all the Captain Awkward things about suggesting a therapist for Parent, etc. as options to talking at you about it.

      If your parent doesn’t know and you don’t want to tell them, then I still think you can redirect, be boring, or end the conversation. What you don’t need to do is sit and listen to a lot of talk that makes you upset and agitated.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My elderly mother used to give me excruciating Lee long detailed updates on every single one of her grandchildren. Including things like speeding tickets, insurance issues, etc.
      I finally got to the point where I once ask her “Does $niece know that you’re telling me this?” And followed up her no with “She’s old enough for privacy. If she wants me to know, she’ll call or email.”
      Surprisingly, it worked. I was also feeding her other topics of conversation, which helped too.

    8. ..Kat..*

      Captain Awkward has some good blog posts on how to set boundaries for conversations. And how to maintain those boundaries.

    9. Nita*

      I keep phone calls very short and they usually end with me running off to attend to some kid thing that must be done right this minute, or I’m about to get on a work call, or I’m on a train and reception is bad. I’m sure I look like I haven’t got my life together if I can’t keep my phone calls free from interruptions, but it’s worth it.

    10. Garland Not Andrews*

      What is wrong with just ending the conversation. “… on to sibling’s many many problems.” Love you, bye.
      And hang up or otherwise disconnect. Not really useful when stuck in the car/plane, whatever, but very useful over the phone, text, Skype, or even in person. Just leave.
      Your time is YOURS. It is ok to make the decision how you spend it.

  23. Venus*

    How does your garden grow? The weather here is wet, and I have piles of green tomatoes, so I may end up picking them in order to ripen them indoors. The garlic was a bit small but looks good, and the onions were a complete failure. The sunflowers are finally doing really well and should start to bloom soon!

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      I’m still waiting for my last tree of peaches to fully ripen. Everything that falls is nearly ripe but everything on the tree is still firm. It’s going to be a day of processing when I finally harvest and just want it over with.

    2. Lizabeth*

      The rabbits have disappeared – the local predators found the buffet. Not seeing any rabbits around at dusk. It’s probably coyotes, we’ve been hearing them at night. We’re also in level 1 drought conditions here in VA. Guess all those thunderstorms this summer didn’t help water levels. Doing research on how to amend the nasty clay soil and what will grow in it for next year. Planted mums and we’ll see how they do.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’m annoyed that I only got one zucchini all summer. The weather has been fairly warm and sunny and there has been plenty of sun, so I don’t know what the issue is. I only got a handful of runner beans, too. But the hedge continues in its monster way. I cut it back the other day and it completely filled the bin, so I’m going to wait until it gets emptied on Wednesday to finish the job.

    4. Fikly*

      My basil plant has reached the top of the first window! It has now collided with the shade, and is growing horizontally. It started going a bit yellow at the bottom, until I clued into the fact that it had gotten so big I needed to up its water. It’s happier now, yay!

    5. Knitter*

      We have been picking the tomatoes and ripening them indoors… but that is largely because of a squirrel who likes to eat them when the tomatoes start to redden.

      Eggplant is coming and spouse hates one of the meals I make from it, so on to new recipes.

    6. My Dear Wormwood*

      We just did a massive prune of the old mandarin tree at my sister’s yesterday and today we’re doing the same for the orange tree. We hope if we chop them dowm low enough we’ll actually be able to take care of them and get edible fruit next year.

      There was loads of dead wood hidden amongst the rampant growth so it’s kind of a shame it’s a total fire ban day, otherwise we could have had a little campfire on the fallow garden bed.

  24. Mini Zoo filled with Friendly Beasts*

    Does anyone foster animals? I have two litters of kittens right now and am thrilled that the older ones are going to a different foster this weekend. I recently started taking in cats from colonies until the rescue can find them spots in other homes (and if needed ensure they are healthy before they go somewhere less experienced). I have loved having them, but they are now old enough to need space and a giant dog crate is too confining. It’s a better option than being dead, but this move is perfect timing. The younger ones are also old enough to need human socializing so will need more of my time.

    Yet all of these animals are so much less work than one puppy! I had one this summer for a month and I am exhausted just thinking about how much I had to walk him (he needed 1-2 hours of activity a day). I think all animals are great, but foster dogs are so much more work! (I also get asked to take the untrained large dogs because I have the strength so I think the little dogs would be much easier).

    Is anyone else interested in sharing their animal foster experiences? I don’t want this to be a post just for me but I have no idea if there are others at AAM who want to share their experiences?

    1. Mini Zoo filled with Friendly Beasts*

      (I should have added that the kittens have mothers. This is useful detail because they do all the work. One is friendly but the other may be TNVR’d. Bottle babies are so much more work! I could manage it sometimes, but not two big litters with my job the way it is right now. I feed, water, and clean litter twice daily with the kittens (I’m naturally lazy as my cat gets 2x weekly), sweep the floor on the weekend, and no more work is required until they leave and I give everything a good scrub. In the evenings and weekends when I have time I cuddle with them and watch them play, which is more like stress relief than work. It’s a rough life, but someone has to snuggle with kittens when I read AAM so that they are kept from being feral and can find good homes)

      1. tangerineRose*

        Kittens are exhausting! They get into everything and go everywhere and have little to no fear.

    2. university minion*

      LOL – I only foster big unruly dogs *because* I find them easier! Putting a few manners on a friendly but klutzy and energetic dog is so much fun. I don’t do puppies, though.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      I foster pit bulls (volunteer with a rescue) and it is awesome. I’ve always been a cat person and my kitty passed away in May but we also have a senior dog. Yes, it’s a lot work but it is rewarding. So cool to see their personalities develop and for them to learn manners. Puppies are a pain though. They require constant attention, multiple middle of the night potty breaks, etc. Taking care of a litter of any animal is a LOT OF WORK. Kudos to you! I’ll take them one at a time :)

    4. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      We fostered a litter of kittens when I was ten. So so so much fun for a kid. No problem getting them adequate socialization with four kids eager to play with them as much as we were allowed. Mama cat was super friendly and happy to let us mess with her babies. We had a small room set up for them so they had plenty of space. My mom says one of her best memories from then is walking into the room and having seven kittens racing up her jeans. We kept two from that litter and they were the best cats ever.

      I couldn’t foster adult animals. I would get attached. But I think maybe I’ll do a litter of kittens when I have kids. It’s an amazing experience.

    5. Sandra Dee*

      I foster senior dogs, usually the bigger the better. I am a “forever foster” meaning I will have them for the remainder of their lives, and the rescue covers their medical expenses, I provide a loving home, comfy beds, regular meals and lots of love. Older dogs have their issues, but are so grateful for everything you give them. Dogs tend to live in the moment. Currently, I have a mastiff and a basset hound that I am fostering. The mastiff weighed 75# when she came to the rescue, she is now about 130#. She is a big girl. The basset came to the rescue with only one eye, and recently had to have that removed due to blindness and constant pain. He has adjusted well to his new normal. Yes, it is hard when their time one earth ends, but knowing that their final years were good years is the reward. I have had fosters up to 2 years, and as little as 3 months.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        I really want to foster senior dogs/the unadoptable, but my partner worries about the constant heart pain of losing them. You are awesome for doing this loving gift to them!

    6. Cats!*

      Yes I am currently on my 4th set of kittens to foster this kitten season. It is really rewarding to know that they are going to be great cats for someone. The more handling of the kittens you do, the better they will be when people come along to meet them. I volunteer at our local shelter who I foster through and so when the kittens are ready to go back, I try to get them adopted quickly. You can usually see the difference in kittens that have been fostered, than those who are just in the shelter. I love watching their personalities come through and they are just so loving to you.

  25. Lemonish*

    Board games!

    I’m very excited because the first two expansion packs for Race for the Galaxy arrived earlier this week. We’ve dropped the first one into our set and have played once with it. The goals bring an interesting dimension and help keep my 8 year old engaged.

    Looking for games that are a good mix of luck and strategy and take about an hour to play. We are already big fans of Race for the Galaxy, Catan, Seven Wonders, Small World, Carcassone, and Port Royal (we have two of its expansion packs – the one that added contracts and the one that added passengers).

      1. Lemonish*

        Intriguing – do you mean the Ankh-Morpork or the Discworld Role Playing games?

        Also, do you need to know about the books? I think my husband’s read some of them but I have not and neither has the kid. (Though maybe he’d enjoy them? He and his dad are listening to the audiobook of “The Wise Man’s Fear” and have listened to “The Name of the Wind”.)

        1. Lilo*

          Ankh Morpork.

          You do not need knowledge of the books. I have played it with friends who have not read them and they enjoyed it.

    1. Grace*

      My housemates and I are big fans of Betrayal at House on the Hill. You all explore a haunted house, dealing out the tiles as you go so that the layout is always different, and you draw item, event, and omen cards. At some point, an omen card will trigger the beginning of a haunt (there’s fifty scenarios, plus another fifty if you get the expansion pack). Someone usually becomes a traitor at that point, and then both teams have (secret) goals that they race to achieve. The Exploration phase is pretty fun on its own, but the Haunt phase is the real game. Fair warning, it’s more fun with more people, but we play it just fine with three or four. The Wikipedia article

      We also really love Ticket to Ride – bonus, it teaches you basic European geography! It’s quicker to pick up than Betrayal, but stealing someone else’s routes will cause rifts within the family that rival Monopoly. The only house arguments we’ve ever had have been over this damn game and whether or not it’s fair to steal someone else’s route if you don’t need it for your own benefit. Make your own house rules on that front.

      Both of them depend heavily on luck (layout of cards, the cards you draw, etc) but just as much on how you strategise and, in the former, collaborate.

      1. Grace*

        edit: The Wikipedia article gives a better idea of how it’s played and if you think it’s too complex for an eight-year-old, but I wouldn’t think so. It’s “horror-themed”, but more of the ‘A ghost slams the door, end your turn’ type, not actually scary.

      2. Lemonish*

        My kid is super-averse to scary stuff, but we have friends who come down around Halloween every year so it would be fun to play with 6 instead of our usual 3, and he might be more in the spooky mood at that time of year. It sounds pretty fantastic!

        1. Grace*

          There are actually videos on YouTube of people doing playthroughs of Betrayal, so you can maybe watch one and see if it’s the kind of spooky stuff that he doesn’t like.

          We’ve found that you can make it as faux-spooky or as casual as you like, depending on how much effort you put into things like events, but obviously we’re all twenty-somethings and not kids. You can just reel off the name of the card and what the effect is (lose a stat, gain an item) or put actual effort into reading the description of what happens. Example card: “Image in the Mirror. There is an old mirror in this room. Your frightened reflection moves on its own. You realise it is you from another time. Your reflection writes on the mirror: THIS WILL HELP. Then it hands you an item through the mirror. Draw an item card.” We’re now at the point where we skip everything except saying “Mirror, draw an item”, but it’s also very fun to read them in campy B-movie voices.

          1. Lemonish*

            Watching a play-through is a great idea – thank you.

            My kid is funny – he loves drama and acting, but he can actually freak himself out at practically nothing. Like he will cackle like a panto villain and then the sound of his own cackling will momentarily freak him out. :D

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      Pandemic is a classic for a reason, it’s really fun :) Bunny Kingdom is a super cute drafting game about creating point-ful territories. If your kid has decent motor control I HIGHLY recommend Meeple Circus—this is a bit off of your strategy requests but it’s a great game about physically stacking up your little pieces.

      1. Lemonish*

        I’ve never heard of Bunny Kingdom or Meeple Circus – I will have to check them out.

        Pandemic is on my radar. I’ve been wanting to play it in a game cafe before committing.

    3. Overeducated*

      How about Forbidden Island or Forbidden Desert (similar but desert is harder to win)? Both co-op games that are good for mixed ages.

      I’m impressed your 8 year old is into Race for the Galaxy, I love it but have definitely played with multiple adults who think it’s too complicated. Castles of Mad King Ludwig is also a fun game if your 8 year old is comfortable with addition and subtraction (it’s a “buying with tokens” game), but it is definitely over an hour.

      1. Lemonish*

        We have both the Forbidden games and really enjoy them.

        The key to getting the kid playing complicated games is to learn by watching videos on YouTube. (There’s a great one for Race for the Galaxy by Nights Around a Table that got us all up and playing in no time.) We also give him little helps, like not making him discard down his hand or letting him pick his start worlds. (And of course, he’s always allowed to ask for help if he needs it.)

        My kid loves maths, so the Castles game sounds right up his alley.

    4. Nicki Name*

      I recently got introduced to Bargain Quest, which might fit the bill. Run an item shop for adventurers and try to make a profit selling them gear… though it helps if you can also make sure they survive their battles. Great art, too.

        1. epi*

          Some of the other editions of Ticket to Ride also have different game mechanics that can change the difficulty or time to play. If your friend’s game is close but not quite right, be sure to check out the other versions. They are also worth looking into because I know avid players who have memorized a lot of the routes over time, an expansion or a different edition takes care of that.

          I have both the US and Europe editions, Europe is more complex but both are quite fun.

    5. Mari*

      Check out splendor, the base game is straightforward enough for kids to learn and there are expansions to add more layers of complexity.

      1. Lemonish*

        We got splendor maybe two years ago? It didn’t click with us, but I’m not exactly sure we were playing it 100% right. (like we never had a royal visit or whatever that’s called). Might need to dust it off and try again!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Friends who like the games you mention are also fond of Talisman. It’s been a while so I don’t remember details.
      I’m a fan of card games like Guillotine & Exploding Kittens, and dice games like Pigmania & Cosmic Wimpout.

      1. Lemonish*

        Exploding Kittens was the very first game we played with the kid, when he was four years old. :) Even though he couldn’t read yet, we showed him the video and he quickly figured out the color-coding for the cards. We have the imploding expansion and the other expansion….can’t remember what it’s called but it was a very small box. Guillotine was another early game for him. (You have great taste in games! :))

        Will have to check out Talisman!

    7. Wannabe Board Game Aficionado*

      Titles that might be worth checking out, in alphabetical order:

      Epic Card Game
      Galaxy Trucker
      Granada [1]
      Saint Petersburg [2]
      Space Alert
      Star Realms: Frontiers [3]

      [1] Granada is a streamlined version of the game Alhambra. Alhambra is also good, but has a slew of expansions; Granada is a single box.
      [2] I’ve only played the first edition (with the expansions) and have not looked inside the second edition box. The second edition claims that you can roll it back to first edition rules, so I’m confident that there’s a good game in there. It’s possible it’s even better than the one I’m used to.
      [3] There are a couple of earlier Star Realms boxes with different cards in them; they’re also good. I suggest SR: Frontiers for three reasons: (a) it supports 4 players out of the box while the others are 2-player, (b) it includes “challenge” cards that let you mix things up a bit if you grow tired of the base game, and (c) the box it comes in is nicer and will hold sleeved cards (if you throw out the spacer).

      1. Lemonish*

        Why a great list – thank you! I especially like the foot notes.

        Thanks especially for the tip on Star Realms: Frontiers – it’s nice to know the extra advantages.

    8. Koala dreams*

      I like Forbidden Desert! It’s a cooperative game where you have to collect parts to your flying ship and fly out of the desert before you are getting buried under the sand tiles.

      Another game, that can be played either cooperative or competively, is The Lost Expedition. It’s more strategic and a little faster to play compared to Forbidden Desert. You go through the jungle to find the lost city, but beware of illnesses, dangerous animals and running out of food!

      Dixit is fun, it’s about interpreting artsy pictures and giving clues that are not too easy and not too hard.

      I haven’t played Power Grid, but I think it sounds fun. From what I heard it takes rather long to play.

      1. Lemonish*

        Thank you – Lost Expedition sounds perfect.

        We love the Forbidden games – have Island and Desert. I love Dixit – the artwork is incredible. It’s better with more people, so we tend to save it for when we have company.

        My husband’s played Power Grid and I think he’s found it a bit boring and complex, but it seems like it might be right in my wheelhouse! Thanks for reminding me about it.

    9. Aealias*

      My kids (4 & 9) and I enjoy Bears vs Babies and Castle Panic. The 4-yr-old kind of amuses herself while the elder can follow the rules and play properly.

      Bears vs Babies has wild Oatmeal-style artwork. You create complex multi-part monsters to fight armies of evil baby invaders. It’s a competitive game, where the person to defeat the most babies wins. Also, it comes in a faux-fur covered box.

      Castle Panic is a cooperative game in which all players work to fight off invading hordes of orcs and trolls before they can destroy your castle. There CAN be a competitive element wherein the player who finishes off the most monsters wins.

      We have two ‘collect the resources from a moving map’ games that are great to play with the kids, but a bit simple for adults: The Magic Labyrinth (Dirk Baumann) and Labyrinth (Ravensburger). In the magic labyrinth, you set up a labyrinth using wooden walls, HIDE IT, and then use magnets to try to drag your playing piece through the labyrinth to retrieve your targets. My kids are great at it, but my spatial reasoning is for crap, so I usually lose. In labyrinth, players must slide elements of the board around after every turn, with the goal of creating a simpler path to their own target, or obstructing an opponent’s route to his. LOTS of competition and fun.

      My 9-yr-old loves Agricola (I find it complicated, so it annoys me slightly). The actions available to you vary from game to game, so it has high replayability.

      Not board games:

      The card game Bang! Is awesome, but it’s a game of attrition, and players knocked out of the game have nothing to do but wander away. When we played it in board-game club, we paired it with chess or Dutch blitz, so eliminated players had something to do.

      My kids adore the proto-D&D primer Amazing Tales, available for download online. It teaches storytelling and weighted abilities. You need a 6 and a 12-sided die, and a relatively creative grown-up to DM. (I strongly discourage letting the kids DM. IME they struggle with letting anyone change the story around.) They love inventing their characters and abilities, and all the parent-focus-time while they create a story together.

    10. Fikly*

      How do you feel about card games? I have played Apples to Apples with crowds of many ages, mixed from 4 to 70+, and it’s almost always a great success for all.

  26. Randa*

    How do people deal with empty nest syndrome? My oldest daughter left last week for her first year of college, she’s the first of my 2 children to leave home. I miss her terribly and keep crying all the time. Does it ever get better? It’s not just her leaving, it’s that shes becoming an adult, I’m getting older, things aren’t the same anymore, etc.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      When my oldest left for college, I was asked by more than one person if I wished I had chained her in the basement so that she could never leave me. I almost kissed the woman who heard she’d just gone off for college and just asked if she loved it. (Yes, she loved it. To start. Not always. She grew so much even though she was a mature and level-headed high school student. And she tried new things that she didn’t even know existed when she was 17. She changed and grew. We are much closer now (she’s 23), discussing serious adult things about our lives.)

      Can you focus on her becoming an independent adult, with a new life and new adventures and basically fulfilling all that stuff you spent 18 years prepping her to take on? That you did it, and it worked.

      1. nhb*

        WAY late to this, but just felt compelled to say that when I hear of big changes like that, my go-to reply is “And how is that [for you/for kid/etc.]?” in a genuinely curious tone. Or “How’s that going for you all?” Also “Wow! That’s a big change! How…” So far it seems to be well-received.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’m not a parent but I do know a little about grief. And this is one of the things in life we can grieve. My suggestion is to cry when you need to. Take walks. Walks get blood circulating and in turn help the brain to blow out some cobwebs. Next, think about your life. You need a new gig. What’s your next thing that you want to do in life? What do you enjoy doing?

    3. MigratingCoconuts*

      I cried when my daughter left for college. I cried when my son moved into his first apartment, 5 minutes away. Just go with it, but keep yourself busy. It will fade. Besides, sounds like you have one still at home, so you’re going to still be busy parenting. Maybe spend some one on one time with him/her.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It most definitely gets better! It’s a huge life transition.

      When Glomarization, Jr., left for university, my partner and I took a month-plus road trip that kind of served to mark the transition from parenting to empty-nesting. It was concrete but also felt ceremonial. Maybe you can do something to honor the transition and help you anticipate when your younger child launches as well?

    5. Acornia*

      It’s hard! I focused on thinking of it like all the milestones of the baby and toddler years. I remember being so proud they could sit up, pull to standing, walk!
      And look at them now! Achieving more and more milestones!
      If you’re feeling proud, tell them! It means the world to them when their parents see them doing hard things and succeeding and we tell them.
      This is a rough, rough time for young adults. They need to know it when they’re doing well.

    6. Not A Manager*

      You’ve gotten good advice about your own emotions. I’d like to STRONGLY suggest that you have a conversation with your younger child, however.

      Whether or not you are crying in front of them, they know how hard this is for you. It’s very important that you help them understand that neither they nor their sibling is responsible for your feelings, that you are happy that your child is off to college and growing up, and that you honor your own feelings without in any way wishing your child hadn’t left home.

      In my experience, kids have a TON of ambivalence about growing up/leaving home even when they act like they can’t wait. Be sure that you’re not fueling Sibling’s natural concerns about their future separation from you.

    7. Stephanie*

      My youngest just started college, my oldest is in her senior year (of college), and I’m feeling very differently about it. It was kind of weird when my daughter (the oldest) started school, because it was just so very quiet in the house without her. We texted a lot, and had great conversations over text. She also came home quite a bit because her school is very close to where we live (like a 20 minute drive).
      When my son left, it was easier. I know he’s fine, and he goes to the same school as his sister, so it makes it easier to not worry so much.
      Try framing it for yourself this way: Your job, as a parent, is to prepare your kids for the adult world. Going away to college is a large part of that process. Your kids are supposed to become adults. If she’s doing well, you’re doing your job well. Try to reframe it from “I’m getting old” to “I can get back some time for myself”. Also, “she’s becoming an adult” can also be a positive. I’ve always really loved seeing my kids grow and change. If they’re thriving, you’re doing it right. And the empty nest is pretty fun. My husband and I can do what we want to do, and aren’t tied to the kids’ crazy schedules. We get to spend real time together again, and it’s pretty great.
      All of that said, it’s okay to be sad for a bit. Give yourself some time to adjust. Try to keep in contact with your daughter, but let her dictate how, and how often. Change can be difficult, and a child moving out is a big change. Be kind to yourself.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Some parents feel they haven’t lost an adult kid, they’ve gained a room! My parents knocked down the wall to my old bedroom to make the kitchen bigger.
      I recommend doing more physical things and, if your sadness continues, see what your doctor recommends. If you have empty-nester friends, ask them how they’re doing. Realizing we’re getting older and things are changing is hard on a lot of people.
      I hope things get better for you.

      1. fposte*

        There’s a funny British commercial right now for Gumtree or some other online selling platform that has a sentimental, they grow up so fast start as daughter moves out and then shifts comedically to the celebratory parents clearing her old room out for their own use.

    9. Mariana*

      It’s going to take a while.

      When I left home for college, my Mom cried for at least a week and even slept with my twin sister for a while (maybe a few weeks). I’m not sure when she started feeling better. Later on, she told me that she imagined that I went to school for a very, very long day and then came back home during breaks. We spoke or messaged each other often, which probably helped.

  27. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone had luck with re-boiling jam to get it to set?

    I made a batch of strawberry habanero last weekend and it hasn’t set. I know I need to re-boil and re-can it, but I’m wondering if that’s usually successful. This is my first batch that hasn’t set properly, even though I followed the instructions. I used liquid pectin, so I’m I’m thinking I should add more when I re-boil and then it should be fine.

    I also made a batch of blueberry with cinnamon and cloves…absolutely delicious! It tastes like blueberry pie. There was also a batch of pineapple habanero, but it’s way too hot for me so I’ll likely give it away. It was my first time using habaneros and I wasn’t sure how hot it would be. Thankfully it made only four jars, so it’s not too much waste.

    1. Anona*

      I have no jam making experience, but a friend gifted me some blackberry jam that didn’t set. I drizzle it on pancakes, toast, and icecream. It’s delicious!

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Oh yeah. Sometimes we make blackberry syrup on purpose, because it is absolutely amazing on pancakes. My favorite, in fact.

        Unsuccessful jam in general can be just declared syrup and served on pancakes if you don’t want to redo it. I think strawberry habanero would be great on whole wheat or just regular buttermilk pancakes.

    2. Vincaminor*

      I’ve done it —I think it was blackberry in my case —and it worked fine. I added grated cooking apple on the second boil, for both pectin and some acid. You might want to add some lemon juice.

    3. Alex*

      I’ve done it many times, although I have over-corrected and OVER set it. I’ve used powdered pectin to re-set even when using liquid pectin in the first place. Google “how to re-set jam” and you’ll find good info.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I re-boiled and added more liquid pectin, and it came out perfect. Not sure what happened the first time around, but it’s fine now. It’s just a pain having to unseal the jars, dump them in the pan, wash them, boil a ginormous pot of water, etc. a second time.

  28. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Section 8 housing question……
    Hubs and I are closing on a lovely 4 BR house in a quiet wooded neighborhood at the end of this month *knock on wood.*
    I did a quick google search and found out 1 house in the neighborhood several houses away is Section 8 (was in a S8 listing).
    1) Genuinely curious. What does Section 8 mean?
    2) Any safety issues I should know? (I’ve read horror stories on Reddit, e.g tenants who demolish a place/cruel to animals and kids but not sure what to believe).
    3) Any Section 8 neighbor experiences?

    1. university minion*

      It means that the tenant receives rental assistance from the government. It covers a portion of their rent, but not all of it. From a landlord perspective, they are balancing the reward of guaranteed rent with the risk of instability that is more likely among those of lower socioeconomic status. The house must also meet certain maintenance/safety standards in order to be eligible to rent to folks with Section 8 assistance. Tenants also abide by certain rules. The one I see most commonly come up is undeclared people living in the unit. This is a problem in non-section 8 rentals as well and it’s up to the landlord/property manager to stay on top of the property to ensure that the only people living there are the ones on the lease.
      I personally wouldn’t worry about it. There may be people in my neighborhood (“starter” homes with an even mix of owner occupied and rentals) who receive Section 8 assistance but I have no idea who they are.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      1) “Section 8” is shorthand for “Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937.” It’s a scheme where the government subsidizes housing for lower-income people. Dig the Wikipedia entry on it for background info and links to the HUD website.

      2) It’s hard to find good data and analysis regarding any correlation/causation between the introduction of Section 8 housing into a particular area and changes in the area’s crime rates. The experiences you read on Reddit are anonymous and unverifiable. And nobody’s going to post about their wonderful tenants; they’re coming onto Reddit to complain and get sympathy.

      3) If I’ve lived next to Section 8 housing, I didn’t know it. But I’ve lived in major U.S. cities with plenty of subsidized and non-subsidized housing, and honestly the worst tenants I’ve ever lived next to weren’t poor people, but were medical students.

    3. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      It’s just low-income housing. It’s fine. Some people trash houses or are mean to animals or kids, because some humans do those things, whether they’re poor or rich. Poor people living several houses away should be filed under “they’re just people, their income and housing situation isn’t any of my business.”

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      It’s a rental assistance program. Participating landlords get Section 8 government funds as part of the rent payment by the Section 8 tenant, which means there’s a certain amount of guarantee that that part of the rent will be paid since it’s being paid by the government rather than by the person you’re renting to (who has more precarious finances than would otherwise let them rent someplace like that without assistance).

      All it really “means” to you as someone buying a house nearby is that one or more of the nearby houses is a rental rather than owner-occupied and thus may have some of the issues that can crop up with renters rather than owners (this is also true even if it’s not someone who takes Section 8, of course). Section 8 tenants have extra rental protections and are harder to evict, so if they happen to be terrible tenants they’re less likely to be gone quickly (but not all landlords are quick to evict non-protected tenants either, particularly absentee landlords who own houses in cities they do not live in as an investment who may not be paying any attention), but if they’re just regular people who rent a house, live in it, and mostly take care of it, how their budget allows for them to rent there really shouldn’t come up.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I wouldn’t worry about this. It just means they’re getting rent assistance. Tenants have to abide by certain rules, as does the landlord and the house has to be kept up to Section 8 standards. All of my sisters at one time or another were on Section 8 and they didn’t have issues, and didn’t cause issues for the landlord or neighbors. Trashing of a house or apartment can be done by anyone. Section 8 doesn’t make that more likely.

    6. MigratingCoconuts*

      My mom once owned a house that she had section 8 people in. They were awful tenants and neighbors and it wasn’t easy to evict them. She then went to regular renting and out of 8 different tenants over the years, two weren’t great either. Renting is a crap shoot, mostly because people who are renting are less likely to treat a place as well as if they owned it. I think before anyone buys a home/condo anywhere, they should look for how many residences in the area are owned vs. rented. The more renters, the more problems there may be.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Bad neighbors exist at all income levels. The saying “You can’t buy good neighbors” is true, unless you buy enough land that you have NO neighbors. Most of my neighbors are/were wonderful. I get the feeling you’ll be just fine.

    8. Shiny alolan raichu*

      There’s a recent planet money episode which talks about section 8 housing in passing. It’s not directly relevant but might be interesting.

    9. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      One of the units in my building waa section 8. (I don’t know how it works since it’s a private landlord and condo sublets. Might still be, I don’t know.) They were some of the nicest neighbors I’ve ever had.

    10. Overeducated*

      I pay market rate in an apartment complex that offers low income housing (rhe lower rates have an upper income cap, I’m not sure if Section 8 is involved). There are several complexes like that in a 3 block radius in an otherwise wealthy neighborhood. It is absolutely fine. Most of my neighbors keep to themselves, a few of us exchange pleasantries. I’ve lived here for 3 years, never had noise issues, and feel safe walking around at night. I definitely wouldn’t be at all concerned to find out one house on my block had low income tenants, that does not mean anything about their behavior.

    11. Gatomon*

      1) I think this one has been covered already.

      2) Comments/threads on the internet should be taken as just anecdotes, and remember you’re only hearing one side of the story. If you haven’t driven by at night or checked the historical crime stats in your neighborhood, that’s your best bet for determining if there’s an issue. Otherwise I wouldn’t assume that just because someone is low income that they are more likely to be a child or animal abuser, or negligently destroy the property, or disturb you in any way. There are plenty of horrid people who own their own home or who can afford rent on their own.

      3) No, I don’t know if I’ve ever had Section 8 neighbors, but I’ve lived in plenty of areas with lots of low-income housing, and visited friends who’ve lived in low-income housing developments. I’ve had and heard of 0 issues. I just bought a condo in a development where the majority of units are rented out, and there are older trailer parks down the road. I haven’t had any issues since moving in.

    12. Knitter*

      We live in an incredibly mixed income neighborhood: million dollar houses to small starter homes to a housing project and lots of section 8 apartments. College students to doctors to minimum wage workers to State and local politicians to artists. I love it. Honestly if someone is able to manage to secure section 8 housing, it’s impressive given the complexity of the system and difficulty finding s landlord. Frankly, in my neighborhood, the bigger issue is the landlords. While there are a ton of rules about maintenance and safety in houses to quality for section 8, it’s pretty obvious the landlord who do the bare minimum.
      The only thing you know about your neighbors is that they met the income qualifications for section 8. Please don’t use their housing to make any assumptions about their morality.

    13. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      The other unit in the duplex I just left were section 8. Both single moms. The first one was always pleasant and friendly when we met, but she left a mountain of trash and discarded items when she moved out. It cost the landlord $400 to have Waste Pro haul it off. Also a fair amount of damage, I heard. They needed a month to clean and repair.

      Second moved in last February. We said hi when we saw each other. However, I don’t think their finances had any impact really on their status as good renters . I think it was just down to being people. Ages ago I worked on cleaning service team. One house was in a hugely expensive neighborhood, but the teenage daughters lived like pigs. So money isn’t that much of an indicator.

    14. Jule*

      This thread has been so illuminating! It never occurred to me that one would be scared of Section 8 housing. Was there something that suggested to you that there would be safety issues, OP?