weekend free-for-all — October 19-20, 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: Lust & Wonder, by Augusten Burroughs. It’s either his third or his six memoir, depending on how you count them. The first covered his awful childhood, the second covered his alcoholism, and this one is about his path to his husband.

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

{ 1,101 comments… read them below }

  1. Anónima*

    Hi all.
    Any kind scripts for my much beloved mum who isn’t getting on with my brother, that I can use to get her to stop offloading on me? Don’t want to hurt her more than she already is, but I get on with my brother and don’t want this to damage my relationship with him, plus I also want boundaries!

    1. Alex*

      “Mom, I love both you and Brother, so I really don’t want to get in the middle of this. I’m sorry you’re having a tough time with him but I’m not the right sounding board for it. Can I tell you about [something going on with you]?”

      Normally in polite conversation, I would suggest a topic change asking someone something about themselves, because it is nicer and people like talking about themselves, but because she’s your mother I think it is OK to assume that she is interested in topics about YOU, plus if you let her talk about herself when she is preoccupied with her problems with your brother, it could meander back to that subject.

      1. Anónima*

        Thanks, I like this a lot and think I will be able to use it, slightly adapted with a bit of what sequined histories wrote below.

    2. sequined histories*

      “That sounds really painful. I’m so sorry you guys aren’t getting along. I love both of you so much that it gets really painful for me after a while to even listen to these stories; it’s making me sad and stressing me out. I know I can’t fix these problems you two are having; is there someone who isn’t so close to Brother you could vent to? I want the two of us to be able to talk about other topics.”

      Also, maybe consider just setting a time limit? Like after 10 minutes about Brother, just gently shifting to something you’d actually like to talk to her about? Can be combined with the strategy above.

      If those two don’t work: “Hey, like I said before, I just can’t be your go-to sounding board for this, unfortunately. I’ve got some other things I’ve gotta do right now. You take care.”

      Based on my personal experiences with this: looking back on my life I wish I’d listened to less of it, not to mention realized earlier that it was not my job or responsibility to mend fences between these two people. In my case, my brother had legitimate issues with my mother and—as much as I genuinely love her—she had very little capacity to entertain or acknowledge her failings, much less grow or change. She’s sliding into dementia now, and wishes she had more contact with brother, and all this stuff seems too late to change or fix. As sad as that is, pretty much every minute I spent angsting about was wasted. I wasn’t the source of the problem and I couldn’t fix it.

      Accept that the situation for whatever it is and let yourself off the hook.

      1. Anónima*

        Thanks so much. I especially liked:
        I know I can’t fix these problems you two are having; is there someone who isn’t so close to Brother you could vent to? and I will be able to use this bit.
        I think I am beyond the time limit thing now – I’ve kind of used up all my available emotional bandwidth on it already.

        And you’re right, my mum has a way of making me feel guilty, and I don’t need to take that on board anymore. She does know that I don’t like what she is doing because she acknowledges it, but then ignore it.
        I have tried to set a boundary before, and I guess I am experiencing her extinction burst behaviour which means I need to be more consistent. Sigh, I hate this kind of conversation.

    3. Kathenus*

      Agree with both Alex and sequined histories. I was always in the peacemaker role in my family. My brothers never got along, and finally as an adult I told them both explicitly that I love them both but can and will no longer be in the middle. Whether that is venting or as a go-between. With my family at least, it had to be addressed clearly and head-on, hints and avoidance wouldn’t work. It might help with you to have a conversation outside of the venting with your mom (and brother if needed), letting her or them know that you can’t and won’t take that role. Good luck.

    4. C Average*

      Here’s what I told my mom when she started to vent to me about my sister, despite years of subject changes and hints: “Ma, I’m not a therapist. If you want to keep using me as a therapist, I’ll need some financial help going back to school for that, and it’s also going to take a long time. All joking aside, you clearly have a lot of feelings about Sibling and I think you’d benefit from actual therapy, where you could process this stuff with someone who isn’t me. Because I’ve got to be honest here: talking about Sibling like this with you makes me really uncomfortable, and uncomfortable people don’t give good advice and aren’t the best sounding boards.”

    5. Asenath*

      I was very brief. “I really don’t like listening to things about Sibling behind her back”. And then I refused to engage further.

      1. Anónima*

        Oh this is good, thank you. I could start with this and then escalate it to the above scripts if needed.

      2. You can call me Al*

        That’s my mantra. I use it so much my siblings all know it, and once when a sibling was trying to start a rumor that I’d said something really hurtful about another sibling, no one believed it because they KNOW I don’t discuss siblings with siblings.

    6. Anónima*

      Thank you to everyone who has shared their personal experiences, and been so kind. I really appreciate it. I am seeing my mum tomorrow; I will try my best to practice some scripts now in case I need them if the topic comes up again, but I am nervous about confrontation so I will also see how I feel tomorrow about it. I think I need some bravery.

    7. ShortT*

      My mom and her brother aren’t speaking to each other. I don’t know his side of the story, so, I feel uncomfortable hearing one of her tirades about him without that information. I flat-out told her that I am not her therapist and said that I’d hang up the phone if she were to broach the subject again. I did.

    8. Pyjamas*

      “That’s a conversation you and Eddie can have. Hey, do you think I should get a new winter coat or have this one mended?”

      Repeat as needed.

    9. Anónima*

      Ha I didn’t need the scripts today, it was all fine. Good to have them in case though. Thanks.

  2. PX*

    Weekend sports thread!

    How are your teams doing?

    I spent my morning watching the first of the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup. Alas, none of my teams decided to show up, but wow, the All Blacks were certainly not having any of it with Ireland. That was a proper, clinical masterclass in rugby. So good to watch, but heartbreaking for Ireland. At certain points I felt tired just watching them run up against that black wall and get nowhere. Looking forward to Wales v France tomorrow! And ofcourse, hoping Japan can continue their amazing form and beat the Springboks :)

    1. LGC*

      I’m a dirty New York Yankees fan. So…I’m not that happy right now! Ah well.

      It sounds like the Rugby World Cup has been exciting! I’m not that into rugby, so I don’t quite understand it yet. (This is making me want to get into it, but I feel like I’m into too many niche (in the US) sports as it is! I spent my train ride home yesterday listening to Lance Armstrong recap the reveal of next year’s Tour de France course.)

      1. PX*

        Ooo baseball. I assume you lost? My sister is a Red Sox fan so I guess its good that you lost? :D

        (And this is how rivalries live on, even when people have no clue about sports)

        And do it, get into rugby. Its so much fun! And this World Cup has been pretty good! Standouts have obviously been Japan, who are not an established rugby country making it to the quarter-final. Next weeks semi between England and New Zealand should be goooood even if its not the matchup I wanted.

      2. Tort-ally HareBrained*

        Your Yankees are making me nervous, but hoping my Astros can hold on and end this tonight. It’s been a good series with some interesting dynamics.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      The Oilers are killing it right now! It’s early in the season and I don’t want to jinx it, but for the first time in a few years, I feel something… it feels like hope…

      1. Nessun*

        Yes! I came here to say the same! I am so excited for the season right now. Going to see them next Sunday and looking forward to it even more than usual!

    3. HA2*

      I’m a big fan of Denis Shapovalov, and he’s through to his first career final! Pretty exciting! I also like Murray and he’s having a good comeback, battling out a tough semifinal right now, the first in his comeback!
      So overall, a good week for players I’m cheering for.

      1. PX*

        Super happy to see Andy playing well again! It was such a shame when he was talking about retiring, so glad that the surgery seems to have worked well. I’m always torn as to how much I really support him tennis wise (Federer fan here) but I love him as a person (man is a good feminist) and I think its great that he brings some personality to the tour.

    4. Parenthetically*

      It’s almost draft time for Australian Rules football — trade period’s just wrapped up and it was… pretty uneventful, except for one THRILLING return for Eddie Betts, one of the greatest players alive, going back to his former team as a veteran, to help them as they rebuild after a difficult but promising season. I don’t really follow the draft — no headspace to keep up with the under-18 players. But then once draft is over, it’s a long, dark offseason. *sadface*

      1. PX*

        As a sports junkie I have to say…AFL is a step too far – even for me :D But glad exciting things happened even if its now almost off-season!

  3. Lcsa99*

    So last weekend we put up our Halloween decorations, including window decals for the first time, and almost immediately one of our cats went a little batty. He was scratching and biting and meowing at the silly decals and managed to get several of them off the windows. He doesn’t seem to do anything once he gets them off, just goes after the next one. So what gives? Has anyone else had this issue? The first day he was so determined to kill them that he ignored the food we put out and even the shake of the treat container, which I would have considered impossible before. He’s gotten to the point that he isn’t ignoring food any longer, but every day we put them back up and the next day we come home to more on the floor.

    Our working theory is that he is a witch turned cat, who is insulted by the holiday (we’ve been watching reruns of Bewitched). Anyone have any other ideas or at least amusing stories of their cat attacking decorations?

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I womder of they’re blocking his view out the window? Or casting a shadow in his favorite sunny spot?

      But I like your theory better!

      We don’t really decorate much for Halloween, but when the Christmas tree comes out . . . well my cats are totally obsessed!

      1. Lcsa99*

        The decorations aren’t that big! He goes after the webs the most so they don’t block anything. Our other theory is that he has an addiction to plastic since he loves eating plastic bags and scotch tape. But he doesn’t actually eat these, just attacks them.

        1. Venus*

          Be forewarned that some cats are allergic to plastic, and get chin acne, rash, red skin, or other problems as a result. In my experience they tend to want to eat or lick it. Hopefully he will be fine, but if you ever notice any immune-type reactions then you might want to hide your plastic and change to ceramic / metal dishes.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      We have a fake “spooky cat” that sits in the window. Our cat is totally surprised by it every year, freaks out, knocks it down, and then remembers it’s fake and she doesn’t mind it the rest of the month.

      1. Lcsa99*

        That’s funny that reminds me of a Tinykittens video where one of the kitties bats at a toy cat and then goes flying.

        Cats are wonderfully weird.

    3. Angwyshaunce*

      You can never be sure of what’s going on in their crazy little heads, but they have their reasons.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I thought of that too but he hasn’t removed any bats or the raven, just a witch, a hanging silhouette and all the webs. Oh and the words – “happy halloween” and “boo”

        1. valentine*

          They think it’s a game and you’re playing right into their lovely paws.

          I would stop because it’s the cat’s castle and a resounding no from them. In future, on the second try, I would put it out of reach and, if they go for it, accept the veto.

    4. AnonyNurse*

      That’s how my cat acts when she sees a bug that she can’t get to — like a fly up near the ceiling. She absolutely loses her mind. Perhaps some of the decals appear to be critters she needs to kill.

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

    Alison’s book recommendation from last week spurred a question: Has anyone ever put in a substantial amount of work toward a piece of writing, only to discover that… someone has already written substantially the same thing?

    I’ve been working for a year, on and off, on a novel whose premise is freakishly similar to Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes… a book I never heard of, until I saw Alison’s recommendation. (What can I say, I live under a rock.) There are differences, for sure… the female character is markedly different… but I gotta be honest, I totally unintentionally wrote what is for all intents and purposes the same story: a Major League Baseball pitcher who has suffered a traumatic event in his life, and loses the ability to pitch, being “saved” by a romantic love interest who has also lost something dear to her.

    What is the correct response here? Do I need to trash my novel immediately and start over with a completely new premise? Can I continue writing if the “idea” is already taken, if what I’m writing is not intended to be fan-fiction? I’m enough of a realist to know that my work is unlikely to ever be published anyway, so it’s most likely a moot point, but this has been bothering me since last week’s open thread.

    1. C Average*

      Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this very phenomenon, among other things, in “Big Magic,” which is great and well worth reading.

      How far are you into your writing process? If you’re well underway and have good momentum, I’d keep going. Who knows? Your book may surprise you and turn out different enough to stand well apart from “Evvie Drake.” (Why does autocorrect want to turn her into Elvis Drake??!)

      1. valentine*

        Captain Awkward wrote that she gave up several projects, only for others to do the same type of thing and win awards. Also, keep in mind the template monarchs: Harlequin. (You might check whether your book would fit their formula.)

        Finish your book. You don’t even have to change the characters’ jobs.

          1. Princesa Zelda*

            Harlequin is a house that publishes romance novels, all of which are basically the same story.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think ideas being original is overrated. Ideas are very often not original, but what makes a novel good is its execution.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One of the more interesting concepts I’ve seen developed through comment threads over the years. Ideas are often easy; execution is where the challenge lies.

    3. JustDesserts*

      I am a big romance novel reader and I can say that 90% of them have a similar formula. I wouldn’t worry too much about it if the main female character is markedly different. You can always add more specific details to make it more your own.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Why hasn’t anyone else come here to say ‘I think you summarized it perfectly!’ ??
            Although one could have fun with word substitution:
            “Her stomach heaved. His headache throbbed. The curtains ripped. (Groan.)”

            No disrespect intended towards romance. Other genres could also be spoofed:
            The rocket throbbed. His anticipation heaved. The sound barrier ripped. (SF)
            The city heaved. Her sense of dread throbbed. The police siren ripped through the night. (Noir/detective)
            Anyone else want to play?

    4. MissGirl*

      I’m a writer and I know a lot of romance writers who’ve based entire series on baseball teams. One book about a pitcher, then the next about the catcher and so on. I guarantee that stories been done more than once. It’s what YOU bring to it that matters. How do you differentiate yourself?

    5. CAA*

      This idea was not original when Linda Holmes came up with it. Google “baseball romance” and you’ll find there are a couple hundred of them already published. I guarantee at least a few of them involve a pitcher who’s lost his mojo and a woman with her own crisis finding out that they can solve their problems together.

      Your story does not have to be different from every other story in order to be a good one.

    6. vanillacookies*

      I’m a PhD student and I was working on my first research paper for publication. I read all the related work I could find. Then a few months later someone emailed me a paper that did exactly what I had been trying to do.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That’s the really painful one! You can have multiple fiction stories with similar premises and different execution, as long as the details aren’t freakishly similar. But if someone scoops your research, you either can’t publish and the work is wasted, or have a paper that’s not going to be referenced as much.

      2. I hear ya*

        That happened with my senior thesis – found a new book with the same general idea, tho not exactly the same content. My advisor told me that it was now unacceptable and I needed a new topic and another year in school. My old advisor pointed out to then advisor that the standards for his dissertation didn’t apply to my senior thesis for a BA, and arranged for me to graduate anyway! Phew.

        1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

          That would have been extremely unfair if you had to do another year because of that reason. Heck, my advisor explained to me that, when writing my Master thesis, it just a way to prove you can do research, use a correct methodology, write academically, and draw good conclusions based on good arguments.

          The subject does matter, as is your intake on it. However, a Bachelor and/or a Master thesis is mostly a way for the student to prove that they have all those aforementioned skills and wrote it themselves.

          If it really gets published in a scientific magazine, all the more kudos (and points) for the student. But it isn’t mandatory, unlike writing a PhD or post-PhD and the likes.

    7. HA2*

      Every literature idea has been done already, and that’s ok. There’s countless of stories that are “Romeo and Juliet, but…” or, in a different genre, “Chosen one saves the world from a great evil” and so on and so forth.

      That’s perfectly fine, and normal, and not a reason to give up on a story. It may have a similar plot to something that’s been done, but this one is YOURS and will have differences and your own twist on it.

    8. MissBliss*

      Charles Darwin had been working on the manuscript for what would become The Origin of Species for about two decades when he got a very polite letter from a young Australian saying “Hear me out, I’ve got this whacky idea…” which was, essentially, Darwin’s own giant tome condensed into a few pages.

      1. NforKnowledge*

        Gotta nitpick here: the Origin of Species isn’t amazing because it was a brand new idea at the time, but because Darwin spent decades collecting and meticulously laying out the evidence for evolution.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes. And it was revolutionary because it had all those piles of evidence backing up the idea.

    9. Anono-me*

      Anothe vote for you to finish the book. It’s not the same story. It’s the same inspiration. As everyone else has already said, there are literally thousands of different stories out there with the same inspiration. There are even very successful authors out there that have made their entire career I’m writing different stories based on the same inspiration. I have found both Barbara Cartland and Danielle Steel stories to be wonderful reads but very similar in their bone structure if you will.

    10. Ranon*

      In romance I feel like similarities between books is a feature, not a bug! I sure like to read books that have similar tropes, there are certainly more regency romances where someone marries a duke than there every were dukes in history!

      Sarah Wendell over at Smart B*tches, Trashy Books has done a lot of good writing about the romance genre and why the familiar structure of romances is part of what people like about the genre, you might enjoy some of her stuff (she also talks a lot about the publishing side, I don’t write but the podcasts where she really gets into that stuff are great)

    11. knead me seymour*

      I personally think ideas are overrated in fiction. The execution is much more important. Your book doesn’t sound terribly high-concept, to the point where the novelty of the idea would be a major selling point for agents/publishers/readers. I would just go ahead with it–chances are, your book will probably end up pretty different from the other one, and if your editor has any concerns, they’ll probably just suggest some superficial changes.

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

        Too late! I ordered a cheap used copy of it (there’s a holds list for it at my library 180 people deep).

        Who knows, maybe it will turn out that what I’m writing is much more different than it seems.

        Thanks to all for the responses. These are a lot more encouraging than I was honestly expecting!

        1. C Average*

          Whenever I hear about a book that sounds similar to a book I have plans to write, I go ahead and read it. Sometimes I’m reassured because it’s not much like mine at all. Sometimes I learn about pitfalls to avoid. Although it hasn’t happened yet, I fantasize about shutting the book with a satisfying thump and saying to myself, “Welp, I’m off the hook–someone else wrote my exact book. I guess I have to write a different one!” (Writing is often torture for me, so I look for excuses wherever I can find them.)

        2. Hitori*

          If the wait list is that long, there is a demand for books with this particular plot. I’d say keep going.

        3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I think ordering it is worthwhile, actually! If it’s found to be too similar, the publishing house will sue you for copyright infringement. By reading the competition, you can scratch out the arcs that are too similar and send your characters on a more distinct journey.

    12. PaperTowelBattle*

      It’s like a group of people painting the same sunset- no 2 paintings will be the same even though everyone worked from the same thing. Keep writing!

      1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

        Some impressionists all got together to paint the same lake and sunset, and they all got a different end result.

        (Almost) everything is already done in the arts. What matters is: how you do it. (while at the same time respecting that others have done it before you as well).

        Finish your story, and then perhaps start rewriting it a bit. But only if it was advised by a publisher interested in your work. Because as others have said, it might not even be needed if your work is strong enough.

  5. C Average*

    Writing thread! How is it going?

    I’m 90% committed to NaNoWriMo and am prepping for that. Debating between rewriting a novel I wrote a very rough draft of a few years back versus attempting something entirely new.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Oh good idea.
      I basically lost all of the data on my hard drive (crying emoji here) this week, including soft copies of a couple of novels I’d written, and the edits I’d started to make.
      I have hard copies on paper, so I could use NaNoWriMo to write one of them back up again.

      1. C Average*

        Oh nooooo! I’m glad you have soft copies, anyway. These stories terrify me to the extent that I pretty regularly email my works in progress to my Gmail.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I have three copies; one on the computer, one on my flash drive, and one on Google Drive. Which reminds me; I need to update two of those.

    2. Laura H.*

      My plot bunnies, they LIVE!!

      I’m of the belief that to an extent, fan fiction is borrowing upon borrowing upon borrowing ad infinitum to the point where I don’t know what little details are canon or fanon anymore and to a point don’t care. Reading a really good one and I love what the fic author was doing and well, want to emulate it. (Idk if there’s protocol or not, but as per mine-) I message them, gush more and tell em “x bit inspired me/ is gorgeous/ makes my fangirly and or shipper heart explode/ I love the concept here and wanna take a crack at it myself.” And I ask “May I?” And tell em (if they say yes- which usually is the case) like it or not, you’re getting credit and more gushing in my closing AN because my small amount of readers need to know how good your fic is!

      I owe my current very hoppy plot bunny to this.

    3. Queer Earthling*

      I’ve been having trouble writing again, but I have some products coming in on Monday that I have to review, which should help! (I review adult products and write saucy things for a living.) I find sometimes that if I *have* to write, it obviously gets me writing, and once i’m writing anyway, my creativity is unleashed. This is actually a phenomenon I first learned about in the NaNoWriMo official book, and it’s definitely true for me. When I’m writing regularly, not only do I get more ideas for what to write, but I end up finding a zillion other creative projects.

      Anyway, writing. Yes. It’ll happen.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We read Annie Dillard’s book (I think it was The Writing Life) for a class and she said something about creativity being a well. The more you draw from it, the more bubbles up.

    4. Kalico*

      I had a good week – now at almost 10,000 words of my new novel. I haven’t done NaNo in some years, and am a “Nano rebel” (meaning I usually set my own goals when I do participate). I’ve found over the years that daily writing doesn’t work for me. I end up wasting a lot of time writing crap. My brain just needs time off to ferment ideas. But I do love NaNo and have participated off and on since its inception. I’m excited to be back to writing after some years of depression-related inability to write. I want to push myself but not too much. Maybe I can set a goal of writing 4-5 days a week and see if I can keep it up.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’m a rebel too.

        Last year, I used NaNo to finish a script that had been idling in my tabs for close to two years.

        This year, I’m going to use NaNo to finish two scripts I started about this time last year. Each is about half done so . . . . piece of cake, right? (probably not!)

    5. HBJ*

      I’m considering doing NaNo. I’ve attempted a few times and won once. Last year, I had what I thought was a very good idea, and I certainly could have gotten 50k out of it, but I ran out of steam around 10k. This year, I’ve thought about redoing the same story, but I may not do it at all. I’m moving a plane flight away just a couple days into November and living in temporary housing for at least a week or two, so I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to write.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Same here. I committed by posting on my blog, but I’m still undecided between doing Book 3 or writing something that currently is no more than a blurb. I need to make an outline for the blurb thing to see if it has legs. If it does, I might write that and then do Book 3 just to get it out of my head.

      I’m just assuming that no one will choose me as a mentee for Pitch Wars. Should be fun trying to do all this at the same time as moving and job hunting in a completely new city! *hysterical laughter* D:

    7. Liane*

      I made progress on my goal of doing all my little game articles. Am through October and will be done with November once I finish this 2 part piece. It going slow because I am discussing some complex game mechanics (rules). But once I finish those I am just going to do character and creature stats for the rest of the year, which are (usually) quicker and more fun.

    8. Claire*

      Slogging, slogging, slogging through this draft for #pirates2. The due date is November 1st, but I might not make that deadline. We shall see.

      Once I hand that over, I expect a detailed editorial letter, but until that arrives, I will be 1) cleaning the house, and 2) plot doodling something completely different.

  6. Disco Janet*

    I need recommendations for professional (and hopefully not hideous) shoes that are for people with high arches – either that, or ones that are roomy enough I can add a bulky insole. I’ve been trying to get over a bad case of plantar fasciitis for quite a while and finally saw a podiatrist. So I’m doing the things he recommended for finally getting rid of the inflammation, but he said my high arches are the source of my problems, so I’ve got to figure out footwear to support them.

    I’m set on running/walking shoes (Brooks Adrenaline with insoles for high arches), and my boss is fine with me wearing those to work for a while, but eventually I’ll need to go back to professional shoes. Any suggestions?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      Hah, I have plantar fasciitis and I was told it’s because of my flat arches (they “collapse” when I walk). What gives podiatrists?
      I use insoles so I go to work wearing all black walking shoes, then I switch at work. I used to have Hush Puppies Mary Janes and now I have Josef Seibel kind of Mary Janes.
      I would suggest going to a shoe store (particularly one specialized in comfortable shoes) and just trying every pair that looks professional and wide enough for the insole.

      1. Amy Sly*

        As a comfort shoe salesperson, I hated when people came in talking about their “low arches” because it can describe two completely different types of feet. Some are folks like yourself: they used to have high arches, but those arches fell and have problems with plantar fasciitis. These feet love high arch support to put the feet back in their proper position.
        Then you have folks with actually low arches. Give them an arch support in their shoe, and they hate it, because for them it’s like having a rock pushing up on something that can’t give.
        This is why any quality shoe shop will not only measure your foot but also try to get a picture of what your arches are doing, whether with an ink pressure pad or a computer sensor.

    2. Deborah Hendrix*

      Revere shoes out of New Zealand. Extremely comfortable. There’s also a German brand that comes with their own custom insoles.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      It’s not everyone’s style, but I love my Klogs! I’ve worn them 5 days a week for over a year and they are still holding up, so I think the price is worth it.

    4. Fikly*

      How do you feel about Mary Jane style shoes?

      I had very good luck fitting a bulky calf-high orthotic in shoes by Drew. Looking at their website, the style called Rose looks closest to what I had. They come in wide and the strap is velcro so you can adjust to any height you need for clearance.

    5. Mimosa Jones*

      The blog Barking DogShoes has good recommendations for all sorts of functional shoes. Sometimes the styles are a little more aging hippie than urban professional but it’s a good starting point for brands and styles.

    6. Anonydoglover*

      Have you tried going to the Walking Company Store? They have some cute shoes, and you can choose the types of insoles that are built in. They helped me when I had a bad case of plantar fasciitis. They aren’t cheap, but they occasionally have sales. They have a website too if you don’t have the store near you.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Looks like the closest one is about 45 minutes from me, but it would probably be worth the trip. Shoes are one of those things I have such a hard to me buying online and still getting a proper fit!

    7. Lillie Lane*

      I have high arches and have had plantar fasciitis symptoms in the past. The brand I swear by is FitFlop. They have some very professional styles that are great for work. I also wear their slippers (in the winter) and sandals (in the summer) as house shoes. I think I read somewhere that the mold of the sole is especially good for people with plantar fasciitis.

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

      Same problem, but I’m a man. I wore running shoes to work for months; nobody cares at my library. The problem is that now I need shoes that are warmer than running shoes because my feet are always cold in cold weather…

      It’s especially tough this year because the shoes this season are particularly awful. I thought I got lucky with a pair of Skechers, but despite being super comfortable, I’ve worn them maybe ten times and the soles are already disintegrating. I really miss being able to wear Doc Martens, which are durable and cool looking, but are not the best shoes orthotically and I think may have triggered my plantar fasciitis in the first place.

      1. lisajulie*

        re:cold feet. I have a serious success rate with cold feet by wearing liner socks. Backstory is that I hate shoes with a burning hate. I also take public transit in a rainy climate. Bad mix, eh? If I wear really thin wool or silk socks under thin or medium weight wool socks my feet are toasty warm, even in Teva or Keen sandals.

      2. Disco Janet*

        Could you wear boots for your commute, then change when you get there? I have a little closet in my classroom that I store my boots and coat in – not sure if that’s an option for you.

        I wish I could just wear the sneakers year round and have no one care! But our principal is pretty big on setting examples of professional dress for the students, I temporarily have permission for the sneakers but don’t want to push my luck by wearing them for too long.

      3. Amy Sly*

        Do you like New Balance? If so, look into Dunham shoes: the same New Balance comfort and size selection, but in more professional styles.

    9. Alas alack*

      Same problem – I looooove American Munro shoes. Plenty of room for my customized Super Green orange insoles.

  7. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone have experience with barn cats?

    I’m taking on two cats from the rescue that will be barn cats. They were adopted out from the rescue as kittens last year and then returned to us a couple months ago as nearly-feral adults. It’s clear they’ve never been handled by the adopters nor socialized in any way after adoption. They definitely didn’t leave us in this condition; I met the cats a few times before the adoption and they were normal, social kittens. They’re now not adoptable and the woman who runs the rescue (a network of foster homes, no shelter) doesn’t have the space or resources to devote to these two cats. She doesn’t want to euthanize them so she asked if I’d take them on as barn cats. She said that there’s a chance they may become manageable given time, but that’s not a guarantee. I have a barn and I’m experienced with cats, so we decided to give it a shot.

    The person bringing them today is experienced and will tell me what I need to do to settle them into the barn and acclimate, as well as provide some supplies for me, but I’m wondering if anyone has real world experience from the owner side of this.

    (I’ll add that I can’t help but feel awful that they’ll be living outside, but I guess that’s what a barn cat does.)

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I grew up in a rural area with lots of outdoor cats — their tameness went from basically tame to only showing up for meals to maybe seeing them ocassionally out of the corner of your eye.

      Cats really can be basically self sufficent. Make sure they have plenty of water available. For winter you might look for a heated bowl if the barn has electricity, that way you won’t have to change frozen water bowls multiple times.

      I would provide a small space inside the barn — like a plastic bareel or tote, lined with old towels or blankets to give them a place to hide that os easily defesible from other predators. Don’t leave food out overnight — racoons can be really vicious to cats and you don’t want to attract them.

      You can try to tempt them with smelly treats (tuna was always a big hit). But yeah, they might never warm up to humans.

      I have 3 indoor kitties now, but I have known cats that were never truly satisfied without a big outdoor space to roam as they pleased.

    2. Lady Jay*

      We had a bunch of barn cats when I was growing up! Barn cats are super adaptable. We made sure they had a cozy, safe space to sleep (my father set up one of those ‘dogloos’ for the dogs to hunker down in, with plenty of straw for warmth; but it would work well for a cat, as would a cardboard box with blankets). Many of our cats also liked a safe space up above the ground as well–a ladder stretched across the rafters with a box lashed to it; I think it gives them a feeling of safety.

      Do make sure food is closed up (in a trash can or something) and keep an eye for wild animals–skunks and the like. Once you have outdoor animals, wild animals are attracted by the promise of food.

    3. Courageous cat*

      As an indoor-cat only person, I would say: don’t feel awful. This is much much better than the alternative for them. We can’t always provide perfect, but providing good is… well… just as good.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve had indoor/outdoor cats my whole life. Same for my husband. About eight years ago we started keeping them indoors as the older ones died and new ones came along, mainly because I found my one-year old cat, who was my sister’s cat initially, dead at the end of my street as I was leaving for vacation. He’d been hit by a car. :( Prior to that another one-year old cat disappeared, and another went missing twice. I then decided that future kitties would be indoor-only. It’s not that I have strong feelings about it one way or the other–some people do, but I never entertain debates on that. It’s more that I got tired of my cats going missing or being attacked or whatever. To be honest, I had less behavioral problems when I had outdoor cats. But all my current ones were raised as indoor-only, so I won’t be letting them out.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, I grew up with outdoor cats, and most of them did not have long lives, so as an adult, my kitties are indoor only (except when I had a a cat who made it clear she wanted to go out, then I took her out on a leash sometimes). But in this case, it sounds like these kitties can’t be indoor cats, so I think you’re doing the right thing – you’re saving their lives. Also, since it sounds like they were social initially, they might warm up to you eventually.

        2. Courageous cat*

          It’s all tragic and I’m sorry, I keep my cats indoors for the same reasons – but I would still argue a free life cut short is better than euthanasia.

          1. Stormfeather*

            I’d also suspect that if they’re living in a barn they’re also probably not going to be as much at danger of being hit by cars, although I could be wrong, and the possibility is still there. There still might be dangerous, like wild animals but… yeah, I wouldn’t feel bad, living a life as a barn cat would be way better than being euthanized!

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I would say that cars aren’t as much of a danger since we have about 1.5 acres. I know cats roam; however, with a field and pond in back and it otherwise being fairly wooded, my guess is they would gravitate towards that instead. My one outdoor cat I had never went across the street. If they do cross the street, it’s not a main road so there’s not a ton of traffic. Wild animals, such as foxes and coyotes, are probably more of a danger.

    4. Kc*

      My mom got barn cats that never warmed up but she still enjoyed having them as she was done with having indoor cats when the last of the indoor cats passed and these 2 were not suited for indoor life.

      She had the barn cats for years and then started having trouble with raccoons. The raccoons ended up chasing away or killing the cats. We don’t know, it was hard on her. My take is the cats had good lives for years in the barn but I didn’t get attached. And trapping and killing the raccoons was the only viable solution we could come up with since it isn’t legal to relocate them in this state but things devolved first. Maybe feeding only during the day would work.

      On a more positive note, I also know someone who recently rehomed a barn cat because it decided it wanted to be an indoor cat.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      My grandparents lived on a farm. It were very clear that unless cats are socialized as kittens, barn cats are feral for life. There’s no harm in your efforts, but don’t expect the cats to change. If you get an exception, be very happy.
      P.S. Barn cats are fed in the morning so they’ll hunt mice at night. This will also leave no food for raccoons to eat.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        What’s sad is that these WERE socialized, friendly kittens before they were adopted. But they were returned to us a year later by the same people as semi-feral, unfriendly cats. I feel bad for them. The rescue works very hard to match cats with the right human, but they can’t always foresee something like this. Apparently the people have a baby on the way and said the cats are “vicious” so they can’t keep them. They didn’t leave us in that condition!

      2. Sc@rlettNZ*

        Not necessarily. I’m one of the founders of a cat rescue charity in my town – many of the cats and kittens we rescue were wild born or abandoned. Small kittens are easily habituated to humans but I can give dozens of examples of older cats that tamed up just fine, given enough time. It all depends on the cat’s personality.

        I’m in NZ so we don’t have to contend with raccoons (which sound like a nightmare – I never knew they would kill a cat). Good luck with your barn kitties (as they were socialised as kittens they may eventually come to trust you – although they may remain shy with strangers).

        1. Venus*

          I mentioned this further down but will add my experience again here too to add support:
          I know a lot of rescuers who rehabilitate fearful, sometimes human-aggressive cats from outdoor colonies. Some become friendly faster, and I suspect it is because they were friendly with humans from 4-12 weeks old. That seems to be valuable timing. So if these were friendly as kittens then I think they have a good chance.

          It also depends if they are male. They are more likely to become friendly faster.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You might also check out the work Tiny Kittens is doing with the colonies of feral cats they care for. They trap as they’re able for spaying/neutering and veterinary care — and, with the pregnant mothers, until they deliver and wean their kittens — and then they test to see if any of the cats they trap might be interested in becoming indoor cats. Some are, given enough time and exposure to kind humans. Some make it clear that they want to return to their colony and so they let them once they’ve recovered enough to be released back. But some of their cats who were extremely feral at one point over time do become socialized. (One of their cats was so feral that she could only be approached with a pizza box as a shield at one point, was released back into the colony’s forest once her kittens were weaned … and over a year later had become friendly enough that she’s now happily living with a human. See details on Sloaney here.)

      Some more stuff you might find interesting here.

    7. Lora*

      Have four barn cats that will happily shred your arm if you attempt to pat them.
      1. Set up a food dish with canned food as well as dry initially, then switch to dry. They will live where they are fed. I feed them in the morning.
      2. Heated water dish in winter. They’re big plastic things, if there’s a Tractor Supply near you, they carry different sizes.
      3. In really frigid weather I put out a heating pad for them to snuggle. Honestly they mostly ignore it and make a nest in the hay storage, but it makes me feel better that they can warm their toe beans if they need to.
      4. Hope you are OK with very, extremely dead chipmunks, sparrows, etc. Mine keep field mice under control for the most part.
      5. There is a rumor that you can get them in a havahart trap and take them to the vet, who will wear Kevlar gloves to give them shots. Mine have never gone in a trap no matter what it was baited with. The vet just comes over and I shut the door to the Food Room and then it’s all kinda shenanigans trying to grab them.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone.

      The cats have arrived and are settled in the barn. The woman brought two large dog cages with her, as well as their carriers, food, and other supplies. She grabbed one of my long, orange driveway markers and told me, “This is what you’ll use to close the carrier doors so you can go into the cage to clean and feed.” She then, very gingerly, reached in to open the carriers and then close the cage doors as fast as she could. One of the cats nearly got her, but she was OK. I’m thinking I won’t reach in there with bare hands when I reopen the carrier and close the cage. Oven mitts, I’m thinking.

      1. Meow*

        Thank you for taking these cats in! If you are a TinyKittens fan, have you continued to track Calvin of “Calvin’s Quartet and the Fire Kits” on the facebook? (TinyKittens Cat Pack on the facebook follows a lot of the TK alumni as well as current kits). She has nightly “story time” with the cats, which seems particularly helpful for the newbies at their house. I wonder if something similar might be helpful over time for your new cats – you’re present, they get used to your voice, and you’re otherwise innocuous. Sounds as if the cats have had a rough time, going from friendly and socialized to angry and semi-feral; thanks for giving them a chance.

        Ways to keep them warm in the winter include cat shelters to make yourself, eg at KittenLady on the facebook, soft reflective heating pads that are machine washable (and I use these myself in the winter now, too) though these no longer work when wet, and there is a lot of info at alleycat dot org slash community-cat-care. If you have electricity in the barn you could set up a heated food station to keep water and food from freezing.

      2. Anono-me*

        You might want to consider getting some welding gloves when you’re at Tractor Supply to get the heated water bowl. I think they’re more durable and more flexible than oven mitts.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, we went there tonight to check out the water bowl. I’ll be grabbing that probably tomorrow. It won’t be cold enough tonight for the water to freeze. We went to another store and grabbed several moving blankets, which I draped over the cages with only enough uncovered to get some air circulating, but also keep them a little warm. I felt so bad–I scared the hell out of the female (Tessa) when I put the blanket on the cage. Even though she was in the carrier she freaked out, ran around the cage. knocked over the water, and then got on top of the carrier; she looked terrified.

    9. Venus*

      I (and other rescuers) have worked with some really vicious ‘feral’ cats who were able to be friendly after a month or two of work. In all those cases it was very likely that they were initially in a home, then abandoned outdoors, and they built up a fear of humans. Many of them become friendly with some time and effort, so if you are willing to work with them then you can find suggestions online (I can also write up our method, but it’s long so my default is to refer to google) as it’s a typical problem for rescues. Although essentially it’s about feeding them kibble, yet enticing them to like you with really tasty food, and a looooooooooot of patience.

      I sometimes have to hold foster cats in large dog crates, and they are physically fine in there but they become aggressive toward me. Once in another foster home with more room they slowly warm up to humans. So part of their behavior may be a result of their current situation.

      They might also never lose their aggression toward humans, so I don’t want to sound too hopeful, but I would be surprised if they couldn’t be made friendlier again. Such a shame for your rescue that they didn’t contact you sooner. I have had a number of fosters where I thought “I know you probably didn’t give up your pet sooner because you kept hoping it would suddenly be okay, but why couldn’t you have made your decision to give them up to rescue 6 months ago when the problem would have been much easier for us, and better for the pet?”

      Thank you for taking them in. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the best the cats could ever hope for. Thank you for saving them!

    10. The Other Dawn*

      Toby (boy) and Tessa (girl) are settled in for the night. We got some moving blankets to cover the cages, which will hopefully keep them somewhat warm. I left just enough of them uncovered in order to let the air circulate a bit. Toby is cowering in the litter box, just as he was about three hours ago. Tessa freaked out and ran around in the cage, knocking over the water; she looks terrified. Ugh, these poor things. I really wish their former adopters had taken as good care of them as the rescue’s foster homes did before they got adopted. :(

  8. Teapot Translator*

    Taking care of aging parents.
    My brothers and I have reached that stage in our lives. My mom died a few years ago and now my dad may have something. The doctor ordered some tests, so we’re waiting (for the tests and the results).
    This is the kind of situation (health problems) that triggers one of my brothers’ anxiety so he overreacts to every thing. It’s exhausting because you never know if his urgency is warranted or if it’s caused by his anxiety.
    My anxiety is usually under control, but my brother’s reactions are testing that control.
    And we’re at the beginning! We don’t know if my dad has something. It may be something manageable. My dad is still autonomous.
    How did/do you cope?

    1. Deborah Hendrix*

      This is going to sound odd but see if your brother is willing to undergo hypnosis. My father went through a session of hypnosis when he received his cancer diagnosis. Basically, he wanted to receive and process information calmly. He learned to self-hypnotize himself and it worked beautifully.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Unfortunately, my brother is in denial with his anxiety. He refuses to believe he might be overreacting; he thinks his reactions are warranted.
        But thank you for the suggestion.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t think you have to get him to admit his reactions are over the top in order to suggest that he may get something out of talking with a professional.

          You can talk a little bit about grief. Grief is not just for deaths. We can seriously grieve a person’s illness, sometimes even harder than their passing. There’s all kinds of things we grieve.

          So your inroad here might be, “Yeah, bro, this is rough stuff. I have been thinking about maybe talking things over with a professional to help me along. You might want to consider the same.” You don’t have to say the part about, “I might need a professional if YOU don’t calm down. I cannot take care of everyone.”

          When he says his reactions are warranted (or indicates a similar idea) you could say, “We could both get really hyper, Bro, but it won’t change anything. And in some ways it might make the situation even worse because we aren’t making careful logical choices and we aren’t being careful during our own activities.”

          1. Courageous cat*

            All of this is fair, but I can all but guarantee most people with chronic anxiety have heard the suggestion before. It’s not like they don’t know it’s an available option, it’s that they don’t want to/are too anxious to/don’t think it will help/etc.

            Ultimately suggestions like hypnosis tend to only help a person who’s asking for help.

        2. Sometimes Always Never*

          What if you can calmly point to older, non-dad-related anxiety problems he’s had that turned out fine? I have some anxiety, and I do this for myself if/when it seems warranted. I grew up with an self-medicating, mentally ill alcoholic father and my anxiety still has me scanning the horizon for potential problems (and potential solutions) and so many, many times, life deals out something I never anticipated, despite all of my efforts. It helps in some of my anxious moments to look back (and laugh) at how wrong I was, while acknowledging that the anxiety made me feel like I was “doing something proactive.” Also, it helps to be able to realize that no matter what happens, I can and will get through it because I always have. This helps dampen anxiety greatly. But it may be hard to lead someone else to this conclusion because anxiety, odd as it seems, can feel comfortable if that’s where you generally live your life. Good luck!

    2. Sue*

      There was a recent letter to AAM about a work situation where someone was having this issue. The answer and comments were good and there might be some helpful stuff in there for you on dealing with his overreactions.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You need to develop some mental calluses. Assume that your brother is overreacting, every single time, until it’s shown to be otherwise. That will help you retain your calm and sense of balance. Also, even if it is a huge emergency, you being calm will help immensely. If the doctor is trying to get medical information/history and your brother is running around with his head cut off and you’re calmly giving them the information you need, well, that’s a much better option.

      You could also consider point blank telling your brother that it doesn’t matter how terrible something is, he has to figure out how to be calm and rational when talking with or being around you or your parent. Period. No exceptions. Then when he’s NOT calm, call him on it. “Brother, I understand this x is happening, but I need you to be calm and rational, and you’re not. So figure it out or leave and I will text you updates.”

  9. Evergreen Watercolor*

    My family and I are split on an issue. I’m currently pregnant with baby #3 but it’s number 1 for the father. The father and I had been together for quite awhile and I have known him for half of my life. We had a miscarriage before this pregnancy. He was excited the first round and this time. However, shortly into this pregnancy we split. Around the time of the split I informed him I found out I was having some complications that resulted in weekly appointments. I let him know what was going on and I haven’t heard from him. As this has progressed, complications have changed from one issue to another. All is going to be well with baby but I found out that the child will have a lifelong issue. The baby will most likely be able to lead a normal life. My issue stems from whether or not to contact the father. He does not know the gender or what has become of the complications. We split several months back and he has not reached out at all. Granted, I have not contacted him. He knew there were complications and I figured he would be reaching out to see what’s going on with the baby but nope. Part of my family feels I need to try and reach out to let him know what’s going on. The other part who I’m leaning to agree with is that I should write him off and just inform him when baby is born. I get it may be he’s not feeling like a parent yet but he’s not someone I would have anticipated to ghost this whole thing. Just curious on everyone’s thoughts.

    1. KR*

      I would wait for him to reach out to you and just let him know when the baby is born. Sorry you’re going through this. I think if it were me I’d rather just accept he isn’t going to participate rather than keep giving him opportunities to and hoping he decides to reach out in return

      1. valentine*

        Reach out and see if he also wants, say, monthly updates. Your family doesn’t know this guy and extrapolating from guys they know or stereotyping isn’t helpful. Plus, imagine his family is in his ear with “Don’t bother her! She doesn’t need you under her feet. If there were news, you’d know by now.”

        Sit down with him and hash out his role and legalities. Presumably someone else is your emergency contact, but you need to know your state law so your medical proxy isn’t texting this guy who’s incommunicado on a hiking trip because the baby came early or you didn’t tell him and the hospital needs his permission for something. Hire a lawyer and put things in writing. Put his name on the birth certificate. He should go to court and be legally declared the father via DNA as well. With or without him, do you want his family to have contact with your baby? Does your state have grandparents’ rights? Everything is easier now than it will be post-birth or post-incident.

    2. Deborah Hendrix*

      Are you planning on underwriting the cost of the baby or hoping for financial participation from the father especially given the issues baby may face? Now might be the time to begin settings those expectations in place. Perhaps that would be better done upon consultation with your legal representative.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Get legal counseling first. Then decide how to keep him informed. Chances are very high he will have to financially support his child whether you demand it or the government does. Your communication with him can either help or hurt your case.
        I hope you have the best possible outcome.

    3. Alex*

      I don’t think you need to reach out to him out of obligation–you already did that once, and I assume he knows how to contact you, so it seems like the ball is in his court.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never so much as had a thought that I might be pregnant, so this is definitely a theoretical rather than experiential for me, but my thought is, would you like him to be involved in some way? If you don’t want him to have a role in the baby’s life, you don’t want to have to worry about whether he might show up and want parental rights, you don’t want child support (and you don’t anticipate needing social support from an agency that might get shirty about it; I hear that some of them do?), then don’t do anything that might encourage him to do any of those things. But if you do, and if you intend to list him as baby’s father on official paperwork, then at the very least give him a heads up on that – being told, hey, I am listing you as father, I will be seeking child support, and I don’t want this to be a blindside to you that will add stress to an already stressful situation, can we please get some plans sorted out so that we can decide what we both need in this situation and make it work as well as possible for all parties.

    5. fposte*

      I’m coming at this from a pragmatic standpoint. If he has or ever will have any pay or assets, child support is a must here; a child with lifelong issues needs the support of both parents, and if you ever seek financial aid for her the state may go after him whether you like it or not.

      So, given that, what do you think is likeliest to get him on board with supporting his child? Will he rise to the occasion better with advance notice or is it better just to file with the court once the baby is born and let them handle it?

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        From someone who’s friends had a dog fight legal battle after a birth of a child, and didn’t let the dad know.

        I would send status updates. This way EVERYONE on his side of the family can’t say you left him out of the loop.

        This guy may walk after the birth, or may suddenly want to be involved. That is what happened with my friend. To get Medicaid in my state, you have to put down the father. Her child has spina bifida.

        When the father was hit up for child support (my state automatically goes after the father if you need any sort of public help), he suddenly wanted 50% custody and visitation. His family threw a ton of money at a lawyer, It turned ugly in family court. Dad got what he wanted, but does nothing with it. The judge was not happy mom left dad out of the pregnancy loop.

        Another friend would write once a month notes on her brother’s (lawyer) letter head and send them return receipt requested. It would be stuff like OB appointment 12/15 at 2 pm. Address blah blah blah.

        When that baby was born dad’s mom was “outraged” she was excluded from the pregnancy. My friend had 12 receipts that grandma signed for those letters. Can’t be helped he son frisbeed them all into the trash.

        At the end of the day, the law is the law, but it looks better on you that you tried to keep the father informed. You look reasonable, and the dad looks like Squirrel Nutkin screaming he didn’t now, and you have the correspondences.

        Does dad deserve it ? Not in my book, but you gain much from a 4 line letter than doing nothing.

        Good luck with your little one!

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Child support, in the US, is legally due to the child. So a parent can’t “decline” it on the child’s behalf.

        You can fly under the radar without it, but if the child’s health problems make them eligible for things like SSDI or CHIP, the state certainly will not hesitate to file for it on the child’s behalf.

    6. Observer*

      I agree with the others – talk to a lawyer about ongoing support. And keep dad posted in a form that you can document. Not about yourself so much, but the progress of the pregnancy and the baby. You don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to claim you excluded Dad or didn’t give him the information he needed.

    7. Book Lover*

      Inform him and talk to a lawyer. Child support is for the child and can include college cost support if I recall correctly. I don’t think as the mother you should make the decision for the child that support is not needed. But talk to a lawyer and go from there.

    8. Anon Librarian*

      *I am not a parent.*

      I agree with the other commenters that legal counsel should be the next step. Since you aren’t together, you need to sort out: 1) Custody and visitation 2) Financial Support 3) How you’ll communicate about the child 4) If/how you’ll make decisions together (when that’s necessary) 5) If he’s not going to be involved, what if family members of his want to be?

      A lot of people are saying to contact him first. Personally, I would get legal advice first. Because he isn’t communicating, so you already know there are issues on his end. A lawyer could advise you on when and how to communicate with him, taking into account the local laws and your specific situation.

      This sounds challenging. Sending you support and good wishes!

    9. Morning Reader*

      I would recommend an allisonian approach, that is, treat him as though you expect that, of course, he will want to be a good father, so therefore he would need/want to know about his child’s health. Keep him in the loop. Send him a copy of the birth certificate with his name on it when the child is born. Ask him how he’d like to arrange for insurance coverage for the child. Send these updates by certified mail as suggested elsewhere, so that there is no possibility of him not knowing unless he is willfully evading. The tone should be, “going forward, how can we best co-parent?” You May have to write him off but wait until after the birth to see if he steps up.

    10. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’m going to read this in the most forgiving light possible just to give you food for thought. Obviously read this through the lens of your knowledge of this person as I could be way off base. Is it possible he pulled way back because he was scared of another miscarriage? If he was genuinely excited for both pregnancies, maybe when he heard “complications” he panicked? It’s not fair to you, who didn’t have the luxury of getting space, but maybe it was purely emotional? I agree with everyone else saying to get legal counsel, but maybe reach back out to let him know what’s happening with the baby. Maybe he’ll realize what he’s done and want to be involved again. And if you feel at all like this guy would be a decent father, it’s worth it for your kid’s sake to try one more time. Just keep your expectations low so you will only be pleasantly surprised. Sorry this is going on for you.

    11. Sue*

      You don’t mention that you have any issue with him being involved with the child. If there are no problems with him that put you or the child at risk, I strongly urge you to reach out and let him know what is going on. The courts always favor open and cooperative communication (again, assuming no danger) so if you can show with an email/text thread or otherwise what efforts you’ve made, it will be to your benefit.
      It might also help you to have his involvement and support during challenging times. I sincerely hope he steps up and takes responsibility. Sometimes people can be in denial until made to feel the reality of it all.

      1. Quandong*

        I agree, Sue.

        Evergreen Watercolor, unless you have reasons to think he will be an appalling and unsafe father, please keep him in the loop for your benefit in the future.

        As well as being evidence if you need it, this may mean it’s more likely for the child’s father to be part of their life. If you there aren’t dangers to you, I think you’re doing your child a service to promote the possibility that they will have an ongoing relationship with their father.

    12. LilySparrow*

      You owe him nothing. If he couldn’t be bothered to check on the baby before, the news that his kid will have a lifelong issue isn’t going to make him suddenly turn into a responsible person.

      You are the one dealing with this, he should be reaching out to you.

      I certainly hope you pursue all child support your baby is entitled to. Especially if they will have a lot of medical bills, you’ll need it.

      I’m glad your little one will do okay in the long run, and wish you all the best for the difficulty in the short run.

    13. Dr. Anonymous*

      The baby will need his support and he may be off avoiding the thoughts. Send him an update since you didn’t think he was the kind to ghost and to remind him this is real and, in case he has it in him to step up and be a father, to let him know he needs to start making plans for a baby with complicated needs.

    14. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

      If you were living in my country, where the health-system, insurance and child support are really easy to get once the baby is born, I would say that you’ve done enough. You let him know that you are pregnant, had some complications. I would tell you to indeed inform him when the child is born. (I would tell and write all about the father in a notebook for the child later on, and try not to be very negative for the child’s sake when they are old enough to ask about the father if he did not take up his fatherly duties).

      However, I believe you are in the US. So for the child’s best interest, and so that the child gets all the support it needs, I would update him if I were you (after seeking legal counsel, that is). The better you communicate with him, the better you can get insurance and support for your little one.

      Best of luck to you, your family and the little one.

  10. Meh*

    Any online dating profile tips?

    I’m a late twenties woman trying to find a long-term relationship online and am struggling a bit with finding anyone in-person or online. I’ve had slightly better success online but definitely not the barrage of men contacting me that other women complain about. Any tips to improve my profile would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Lena Clare*

      I have some articles on my blog, lenaclare dot wordpress dot com, about dating and dating profiles if you wanted to have a look.

    2. PX*

      There have been a few threads about this recently if you have the time/patience to go back looking through recent weekend threads. Captain Awkward also has a good post about building an online dating profile up. But I think my summary is usually:
      – Be clear both in your mind and in your profile about what you want. Personally, I find bland generic or empty profiles the worst. It doesnt have to be much, but even a few sentences to give a sense of a who you are as a person super important (to me at least).
      – Dont be afraid to initiate.
      – Good pictures. You dont have to look perfect, but I find its important to have photos of you that actually look like you (and look like you now, not years ago).
      – Remember that its a numbers game as well – you will likely have to swipe a lot/date a lot to find someone compatible
      – Related to the above, dont be afraid to tell your friends/family that you are looking to date. Similarly this is where I also found any kind of social activity to be a boon. Essentially the more people you meet and the more open you are to just meeting people in general, the odds increase (slightly!) of finding someone!

      1. Meh*

        Thanks for the tips! Sorry I didn’t realize that there were other threads about this. I’ll take a look!

        1. Jackalope*

          Captain Awkward is great with this. 100% recommend finding some of her sample profiles. She also gives the good advice to go on lots of first dates, a few second dates, and very few third dates. Basically if you have any interest at all in the other person then try it out because chemistry is funny and you never know who you’ll have it with but don’t be afraid to nope out if it isn’t working, and nope out quickly.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      The advice PA gave is all good! I just want to add, don’t be discouraged that you’re not getting a barrage of attention. While there is some truth to dating be a numbers game, you don’t need to attract everyone’s attention. You just want to attract the sort of people you would also be attracted too, and have a compatible time with. It’s okay if that takes time!

      1. Meh*

        That’s true. Just wanted to get ideas from others to see what I might be doing wrong. Thanks for the encouragement!

    4. Entry Level Marcus*

      I’m a mid-20s cishet man who has used online dating sites on and off for the past 5 years (mostly OkCupid, a little Tinder). YMMV, but I would say these are the tips I would give to many women whose profiles I’ve come across through the years:

      – Make your main photo a good headshot, and make sure you have one full-body picture that doesn’t have other people in it. They don’t have to be professional level, but they should be good.
      – Don’t be afraid to message first! Men looking for women are very rarely messaged first on online dating sites, and so taking the initiative to send a first message (that isn’t just “hi”) will get most men to give your profile a serious second look.
      – Really fill out your written profile, and make sure you show your personality in it. Don’t just list a bunch of identities/hobbies/traits and leave it at that.
      – Try to always frame things in a positive way whenever possible. What I mean is, talk about what you like, not what you don’t like, and talk about what kind of man your looking for rather than the kind of men you aren’t looking for.
      – It’s better to make a polarizing profile that is *really* appealing to the kind of man you’re looking for than to be bland but broadly appealing.
      – Remember to be open-minded when matching with other’s profiles. Some people don’t make amazing profiles or don’t express their personality well online. One of the best dates I had from online dating was with a person who I almost skipped over because they didn’t have a great profile. They seemed like my kind of person, though, so I messaged anyway, and it led to a fun date.

        1. Rainy*

          From my own experience, if you are well-endowed in any of the physical areas your preferred gender/s are typically attracted to, don’t ever put a full-body shot on an online dating profile.

        2. Jackalope*

          I read an article once that said that people who have professional pictures as their profile get more attention. Silly thing, but it worked. So I had a friend who does portraits of people do a photo shot with me and the pictures were SO much better than what I had previously. And it DID help. (Very well, actually; ymmv but I am now married to someone I met online a few weeks after I put up the new profile pic.) So I would encourage you to see if you can get a couple of quality pictures (they don’t have to be fancy expensive, but professional quality) to choose between for your main picture. Also, this seems like it should be obvious but never have a picture (esp as your main pic) of you and a member of the opposite sex alone as your main profile picture. I saw a lot of guys who did that, and while I figured out at one point that they were pics with a friend, or their sister, or whoever, I tended to have the knee jerk reaction of “looks like he’s already taken” and keep going unless I had a lot of time to burn.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Years ago I read that the most polarizing profiles actually got not just the most clicks but the most dates. I think the most important thing is to be genuinely yourself, without trying to be all things to all people — in fact, I think the main benefit of online dating is to be able to filter out people from the start who don’t mesh with you, rather than having to go on several dates to find out that your date hates tattoos and you have 30, or thinks women should stay home and raise babies and you are a feminist. Or whatever. So fill out the profile, be totally honest and don’t apologize, and let THAT be what intrigues potential dates.

    6. Auntie Social*

      My friend said a little about herself but an equal amount about stuff she didn’t care for—“you think I require mansplaining? Keep walking!” and it was written funny. And she actually got quite an uptick! So maybe make a list of your “don’t”s as well, and you’ll get rid of the ice chewers/hiking at dawn guys.

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I’m sorta playing with an idea for a writing competition, but I still need to work out some of the kinks before I can actually begin writing it.

  12. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I got started on Doki Doki Literature Club and…holy macaroni.
    Seriously, did NOT see that coming.

    1. Lyudie*

      Skyrim SE, mostly. Futzing a bit with Elder Scrolls Online though I’m usually not an MMO player (too flaky/busy, jumping from one game to another etc). I got the goose game on Switch but haven’t gotten into it yet, hearing good (and hilarious) things about it though.

    2. Liane*

      I have been watching my kids play Fire Emblem Three Houses. (Do they hire soap opera writers for these games?) Also listened to a friend grumbling about the difficulties of toddler-rearing in the newest The Sims. I suggested he see if it was possible to get baby gates in game. (Yes you can)

    3. Gingerblue*

      Not so much actually playing as contemplating what I’m going to do when I have time to play, but: Cities Skylines. I want to get back to the monorail system I was building circling my city’s main island.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I borrowed a friend’s ps3 and am playing Lord of the Rings Lego :) Having fun with it. My friend also gifted me the Star Wars lego games, so those are waiting in the wings when I’m done with LOTR.

    5. Urdnot Bakara*

      Playing a lot of Overwatch recently. Always love the holiday events, especially Halloween!

  13. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Moving to our house this weekend!!

    How do you stay physically/mentally/emotionally healthy during such life transitions?

    I’ve had a cold, sinusitis/TMJ, dry eye, uveitis in the past 3 months. Now, behind-the-leg pain for 3 days I’ve been putting heat/ice on. Possibly pain due to jogging?

    Staying sane by: Knitting, reading about pretty gardens, and possibly signing up for a yoga class for next weekend a bus ride away from the house.

    House-wise: We’ve taken smaller items there piecemeal and movers for larger items (eg. Bed) come tomorrow. Locksmith already changed locks. A piece of paint chipped in our bedroom which means potential repainting…and a kitchen light already burnt out last night O.o It’s a marginally longer commute (but all the affordable houses are further out from the city). One friend has a 1h45 commute, another has a 2h commute both *one way*. Ours will be 1h (instead of usual 45 min).

    What helped you most when moving to a house? How did you make it your own?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Take time off from work. It’s too much to hunt down shoes, coffee cup and tonight’s dinner while working full time during the day and unpacking at night. Take time off so you can just focus on settling in. Have a set time that you quit working on the house each day. From that time on, declare it a rest period. The rest is just as important as doing the work.

      Making my house my own took years. My best thought is get things set up so you can function in ordinary life THEN think about personalizing it in a while. My household decorations stayed in boxes for a while. I got the bathroom and kitchen set up. (Have to be able to eat and to bathe.) Then I set up the closet and dressers in the bedrooms. (After I eat and bathe, fresh clothes would be a good thing.) Next I set up the laundry area so that was kind of workable.

      Because of complications in my life the rest of it came slower and took longer than I would have liked. After the laundry area, I started to try to make some sense out of the guest room because I had frequent company. They needed me to have the bed set up and perhaps a flat surface to set things on. (ha!) Since I had a table and chairs set up in the kitchen, the dinner room was the last thing I worked on. There’s no basement so we set up an extra room as you would a basement type space. This was handy for throwing empty boxes, bags of garbage etc. We had shelves so we just lined up tools on the shelves with the idea that we would organize them better later. (Which we actually did do.)

      One thing I wish I had understood better is that needs change periodically. I am sure the interval varies for people. My interval seemed to be about 7-8 years. So houses are never “finished”. We are constantly tweaking, adjusting, accommodating etc in how we configure stuff in our homes. What works well today may not work so well in years to come.
      A silly example would be when we added a pup to our mix. All of the sudden I had to put everything up high where the pup could not reach it. Then the pup grew and height was not that helpful any more. I had to tuck things away where the pup could not get at them.

      It’s good to look at the configuration of things and say, “This works for now. In a bit we may find that we need to change it.” Keeping this thought at the forefront of your thinking can be useful in preserving your sanity.

    2. Fikly*

      I moved this July. I’m autistic, and change is SUPER hard for me, and all my routines changed, my local food options changed, etc., etc.

      I went into it with the expectation and understanding that this was going to be hard, and I was going to have to be kind to myself. I also allowed for extra self-care. I did extra therapy.

      And I managed to roll with things. 3 weeks after moving in, I concussed myself on my freezer, and ceased being able to unpack. 3 months later, I’m still not unpacked. I’m not thrilled about that, but I’m managing not to blame myself for that either.

      Good luck with your move!

    3. Marcy*


      We have moved several times. What’s been helpful for me is to focus my energy on what is most important right now.

      For example, clean bathroom, clean kitchen and a clean place to sleep is first for me. When the kids came along, getting them settled made my life easier, so that was a priority.

      Once these areas are good to go, focus on the areas that will improve your life. Maybe organize your closet or put away books.

      And give yourself a break. Take time to clear your head. Eat good food. Get good sleep. You will make better choices when you are not tired, hungry or over stressed.

    4. Anono-me*

      It really helped me to clean everything. The house was already very clean but it did help me feel more at home.

      As far as repainting the bedroom right now . You can sometimes find a big enough paint sample under an outlet or light switch cover to take to your local paint store and have them color match it. You might also want to check the basement or garage for leftover cans of paint. Many people leave those behind.

    5. Ranon*

      Snacks, hydration, cleaning and rapid unpacking are my tricks, insofar as anything along those lines is a “trick”. I’m much happier with my stuff out of boxes and it’s relatively easy for me to decide where to put things, so my husband cleans and I get stuff out of boxes and settled (with input, of course, for shared stuff). If that decision making process is tough for you I think you just need to allow yourself time, and prioritize the spaces that are most important for your personal comfort. For me that’s a couch- I can manage just about anything if there’s a couch to collapse on when I need it.

    6. PaperTowelBattle*

      A friend of mine came by and told me funny stories of her crazy life during moving, which was a good distraction, but the best thing for me was accepting that moving was just gonna suck- that nothing we could do would make the transition not be hard, and that when it got hard it wasn’t our fault- just a feature of moving.
      I will say that getting to paint and organize the way that I wanted made a huge difference, and a year in I couldn’t be happier.

    7. PurpleMonster*

      Well, for the move itself it was getting the pictures up. Generally that’s close to the first thing I do, even if you know they aren’t in their permanent positions. Make it a priority to put the bed together and make it first, because after a long, long day of moving and unpacking you do not want to be putting sheets on the bed at 11pm.

      After a deep clean, to be honest, I just get on with living in the house. If it needs work, I’d really recommend putting off anything that doesn’t have to be done immediately for a good 6 months. That way, you’ll understand more about the house and its quirks, and how you live in it. You might find that something that really bugged you at first isn’t an issue, but you’ve discovered something else that you want to tackle.

      And don’t rush into choosing colours! That’s the fun part, so take your time. It might even pay to wait an entire year so you can see what the light does through the seasons.

  14. Jaid*

    Playing around with different tubers this week. Tried the eddoe, but my throat felt weird afterwards and I’m not sure why.
    Now I’m trying the Yellow Name (pronounced “nyah-may”). Salt water, a hefty slug of Southern Comfort (just had a feeling to try it), and cooking it on the soup function in the Instant Pot.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, I don’t know where I could get eddoe around here. I love tubers, so I’d be interested in trying that.

      A guess on the throat–it looks like eddoe is related to taro, and taro contains oxalic acid crystals that can irritate or numb if it’s not cooked long enough. Some people even get irritated skin from handling the raw stuff. Maybe that’s what’s going on?

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Or it was a mild allergic reaction that might get worse with repeated exposure. I wouldn’t eat eddoe again, just to be safe.
        Stay well!

      2. Jaid*

        My local ShopRite carries some of the exotic ones and I’m blessed with a couple of Asian markets near me. I heard that Giant might carry them.

        As for the eddoe, I’m not sure. It felt like my throat was closing up/very mild convulsions and the base of it was super cold to the touch. It could have been an allergic reaction, even though it was cooked long enough to mash and I had used paper towel to handle it. Or it could have been that it pretty dang cold at work and the cold air was bothering my neck. Either way, I tried it and don’t need to cook it again.

        The Name came out pretty good, I think. Too much salt, so I rinsed it. I had some more bites and it seems tasty. I’m not sure what next, so I’m letting it cool down. The Internet says I can mash them, form them into patties and then fry them. Or use a savory/hot sauce.

    2. Reba*

      Oh! igname! how interesting. I have eaten it in West Africa, A LOT. I like it fried, with spicy sauce. Fritters are nice too.

      Mashing it is the classic way to eat it in WA, but also a truly enormous amount of work to do by hand. So I’d only go that route if you are feeling adventurous and in need of some cardio :) But I imagine small portions could be made in a food processor. Googling for “pounded yam food processor” shows a lot of results, which seems promising!

      1. Jaid*

        Hmm. It’s in the fridge now. I wonder what the difference is between “pounded” and “mashed”.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Japanese Mountain Potato is an interesting one to try (nagaimo). It’s the only species of yam that can be eaten raw. The flavour is mild, but the texture is really unique. In Japan they grate it to a pulp and eat it with noodles, or cut it into sticks and serve as a salad with sesame dressing, or cook it in stews.

  15. Juli G.*

    Looking for some parenting advice.

    My son is a 3rd grader. He’s a smart kid. I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on grades but truly, his bad grades are due to laziness and following instructions. He failed an assignment to create a poster for reading. The teacher gave a checklist for what it needed to include and he just bypassed two categories. He reads above grade level, he’s an amazing speller (he missed his first spelling word in three years last week because he wasn’t paying attention and he spelled the wrong word – correctly of course), he’s great at math. There is no reason that he should be getting C’s on his report card!

    Advice on how to handle? I don’t want to put undue g

    1. Juli G.*

      Accidentally submitted! I don’t want to put undue grade pressure on an eight year old. If he didn’t know how to do it, this would be different. He admits he doesn’t always read the instructions or listen because “he knows how to do it.”

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I am not a parent, but I was once a 3rd grader. It sounds like he needs more challenging work to keep his attention focused. Can you talk to his teacher about what kind of resources might be available so that he’s not bored at school?

        I was homeschooled, but that’s obviously not an option for every family. Can he skip a grade or is there any kind of track for “gifted” students? His teacher may have otger ideas to help engage him.

        1. Juli G.*

          Maybe you’re right. He hates to be told he’s wrong so that’s why I haven’t considered challenging him more.

          Skipping a grade isn’t a good option (he’s already the youngest in his class and it’s starting to show socially) and there isn’t a formal gifted track. It’s a private school that’s good about customizing though.

          1. Observer*

            Then he NEEDS to be challenged more. And he needs to correct his work EACH AND EVERY TIME he gets it wrong. Being able to deal with being told he’s wrong is an important skill. And, it doesn’t matter how smart he is if he doesn’t do the task he needs to do, or does it incorrectly. In some cases it’s not a big deal but sometimes it IS – life altering big. And it’s not always apparent which is which. Also, even if it’s just mundane stuff, not getting it right is going to be a problem.

            On the other hand, he also needs to learn to do the boring stuff correctly – that’s often a LARGE part of almost any job, profession or thing that you want to accomplish.

          2. just a random teacher*

            Honestly, I think the “hates to be wrong” thing is the part to work on with him rather than his grades. Elementary school grades are basically play money unless the school uses them for tracking kids into different classes or sports/activity eligibility, so as long as he gets the grades he needs to to not have to miss out on stuff it really doesn’t matter whether he gets C’s or A’s right now.

            However, he needs to get better at being wrong. It’s an important life skill, and it does not get easier to learn if you wait until you’re an adult.

            I work with gifted kids who are placed up in math quite a bit in my job, and the thing I always emphasize to them is that being wrong is an important part of learning, and it’s important that we find math hard enough that you don’t get it right all the time. (I spend a lot of time doing things like offering them fewer, harder problems if they insist they don’t need to learn algebra because they can solve things like 3x+8=29 in their heads. I just open up an Algebra 2 book, and we look through it until we find a problem they agree they couldn’t keep track of in their heads and we talk about building the skills they’ll need to do those kinds of problems.)

            You might also find some of the growth mindset stuff helpful to use with him. It’s very trendy right now, which means it’s being used in a variety of both appropriate ways and ridiculous ways, but the core idea of emphasizing to kids that they haven’t figured something out *yet* rather than that they just don’t know it can be pretty useful.

            1. Clever Name*

              I totally agree. Grades in elementary school mean squat, but always having to be right will negatively affect him for the rest of his life. I’d guess he’d rather fail because of not trying than try, be wrong, and fail anyway.

              1. Anon Librarian*

                Grades in elementary school actually CAN have an impact on things. It depends on the school, of course.

                I was a similar kind of kid – found school really boring and slacked because I wasn’t learning anything and I thought the only point was to make your parents happy.

                My grades weren’t terrible, but the school penalized me. I wasn’t allowed to audition for school plays, they wrote bad recommendations so I couldn’t transfer to a different school, and my options for what classes to take in middle school could have been affected by it. Those are just a few examples. It can be more of an issue than one would think (not fair, imo, but that’s how school is).

            2. Juli G.*

              Had never heard of growth mindset. I will take a look for some possible appropriate uses.

              I completely agree that learning to be wrong is the most important part and what I have the least patience for.

        2. Disco Janet*

          As a teacher though, it’s tough to justify giving a student harder work, or figure out what level is appropriate, when they haven’t shown you they can complete the grade-level work. The teacher may not know where he actually stands ability-wise if she hasn’t seen what it looks like when he actually puts in effort.

          1. Observer*

            As a teacher, it should be clear that it’s not that he is incapable of doing the work, though. So, a different approach it needed here.

            1. Disco Janet*

              I think that depends on the context. Why do you assume it would be clear he’s capable of doing the work if the teacher has never seen him demonstrate that work, or the skills necessary to complete the work?

              1. Observer*

                Well, if, as a teacher, you decide that anything a mother says must be made up, it’s a pretty big problem. Also, when you see some of the kinds of errors this kid is making, it’s a pretty strong indicator that this is not about a kid who can’t do the work.

                The one where he spells the wrong word correctly and gets marked down? That’s CLASSIC. I can’t blame the teacher entirely for handling it that way, but in my experience, any competent teacher recognizes it for what it is. And it is NOT an example of a kid who can’t do the work.

                1. EinJungerLudendorff*

                  I kinda disagree on discarding the parents opinion. Certain parents are notorious for overestimating their kids, or just refusing to acknowledge their problems at all and blaming the teacher instead.
                  If the teacher doesn’t think the child is at a certain kevel, why should they let the parent dictate otherwise? Unless OP can actually show the teacher that their kid is at that level, or they have a very good reputation with the teacher, it’s only reasonable to take their assessment with a grain of salt.

                2. Observer*

                  SOME parents are impossible. But starting from that assumption is simply stupid. It’s NOT fact based – most parents have a lot to tell a teacher about their kids. Now, if you see that the parent is actually speaking nonsense, that’s one thing. But more often than not, parents DO have a point.

              2. TexasRose*

                Because (at least in middle school and high school), it is clear from their work whether a student:
                * has no clue what to do, or no desire to do anything, and leaves everything blank
                * has no clue about the method to use to solve the problem, so puts in random numbers to fill the blank space
                * has a clue but some mistaken ideas about the method to use to solve the problem, so puts in the wrong number for a specific slot (switching vertical and horizontal coordinates, for example)
                * does the work according to the instructions from the last assignment (where you were to find the domain of an equation, rather than the actual equation, for example)
                * is missing some underlying skill (like basic multiplication skills, because in the classes where I volunteer the kids are not allowed to use calculators, so the larger method is correct but the answer is incorrect)
                Making mistakes is what school is *FOR*.

                1. Disco Janet*

                  Okay, let’s say you’ve got a student who has no desire to do the work and will just leave everything blank. How on earth do you have any idea what level he would be at if he actually tried?

                  With OP’s son, I can see that spelling the wrong word correctly could be a cue. But this idea that teachers should always know what all of their students are capable of, even if the student hasn’t shown them what they’re capable of, and go above and beyond to find special, interesting work for that student (and when you have 150 students, as high school teachers often do, you’ll have many of these students, all with different interests)…it’s just not that simple.

      2. sequined histories*

        Speaking as a teacher, I would recommend against a freak-out or crack-down. Mediocre grades but good core academic skills are not necessarily a crisis, if the core issues are temperament and immaturity. My father, for example, failed a bunch of classes during his freshman year college due to similar issues, yet went on to become a college professor and international expert in his field.
        The biggest issue academically is whether or not there is an underlying disability tripping him up. I’d ask his teacher her thoughts on that. Also, if he’s in a public school, you as a parent can probably get him evaluated for learning disabilities if you really push for it even if the teacher doesn’t think it’s necessary.
        If he actually likes school and is learning the basic academic skills, though, I would recommend avoiding anything that seems punitive or likely to make the fact that he’s gotten some C’s in 3rd grade some big emotional drama. The grades themselves are giving him some feedback that he needs to change something if he wants to make an A. Consider—assuming he doesn’t have a disability—letting him decide what, if anything, he wants to do about that.

        1. Juli G.*

          We did crackdown on his writing grade bc his lack of attention was racking him up a D and he would be unable to play on the school basketball team with a D. This is where the balance piece comes in because obviously, that would be a tangible consequence. At the same time, I feel like he’s really young (8!) to have to miss an entire sports’ season when his parents could help him learn responsibility. Am I wrong? Maybe he does need to learn those consequences?

          The help is that his teacher makes him bring the writing assignments home and we check them. This has been a huge failure as his reaction to being told he’s wrong is to whine and cry. (And I’m not a perfect parent but I put so much energy into being patient and pleasant into those moments!)

          His teacher doesn’t think there’s a learning disability. She (and I) think he’s in competition mode with his peers. His recap of the school day usually includes who finished math/science the fastest that day and if it wasn’t him or his BFF, clearly it was unfair. At our (private) school, third grade is when they make the jump to become more independent so the teacher doesn’t spend as much time spoon feeding the instructions and she said it is an adjustment for most kids.

          The most important part I left out is my son has had this issue before but not to this extent (see change in philosophy at this grade level). He is very prone to blame the teacher for his errors. So I worry that letting him face consequences will just destroy his interest in school because he’s the type to blame others and not look at his own actions. Does that seem normal at this age?

          1. Auto Generated Anon*

            Posted below first, following up here.

            Both of mine (one ADHD like me, the other not) are elementary aged. Given what you’ve written, about all areas of life, it may be really useful to reframe this as it’s not a choice, this is how his brain works. Missing basketball, if he loves it is not going to help and will only make things worse if you take always the things he’s good at.

            He’s not lazy. Kids this age aren’t lazy. So, what do you do:
            1) Rule out the easier stuff. When was his last optometrist eye exam, real hearing test, etc
            2) regardless of what the teacher says ask your pediatrician to do an ADD assessment – the most common tool here is just a couple page survey that you and teachers/coaches fill out, then the pediatrician scores them.

            Gotta run, but can provide more later. It sounds like you are really worried about him, and that he’s a great kid who is struggling. You’re doing the right thing by him by getting involved.

            1. Disco Janet*

              I’m baffled by the “kids at his age aren’t lazy” part of your comment. What makes you think this is true? While in generally younger children are more motivated about school work than teens, to say NONE of them are ever lazy seems like quite a sweeping generalization. My six year old can definitely be lazy.

            2. sequined histories*

              1. Yeah, given what you’d added I would have him tested for everything (sight, hearing, all possible learning disabilities, etcetera). There’s nothing worse than everyone involved struggling for years before discovering there’s a diagnosable problem. Get that done ASAP and before intervening further.
              2. Denying a 3rd grader participation in a sport based on a D seems pretty harsh to me. That sounds like something more appropriate to middle or high school. Honestly I’m not loving what I’m hearing about this private school, just on the basis of that. I’m a public school teacher so I’m biased, but your local public schools might have more to offer than you realize, even if they have low standardized test scores. They could have better access to screening, gifted programs, teachers more accustomed to accommodating learning disabilities, extra, highly qualified staff members who specialize in supporting students (even gifted students!) with learning disabilities, and they could free up your cash to pay for non-school-related basketball programs and so on.
              3. I’m all for setting kids up for success and not failure. However, consistently blaming others for our own failures and whining when we’re told we’re wrong is a whole other problem that preventing failures from ever occurring doesn’t begin to address.
              4. Maybe try to find opportunities to discuss the fact that doing something fastest doesn’t always mean doing it best or winning: gymnastics versus track, speed skating versus figure skating—there are many non-school examples of situations where quality and accuracy are more important than speed.
              5. You seem to be thinking that you should be preventing these failures by tutoring him one-on-one, but based on what you’ve added here, you’ve already tried that and it was miserable for both of you. I doubt more of the same is the answer.

              1. Juli G.*

                1. He passed hearing/vision tests with actual doctors last week. I have to admit I dread the idea of other testing because he’ll be so whiny about it but its probably time. I guess I’ve never suspected learning disabilities since my brother had several and he’s nothing like him. That’s a pretty naive view though.
                2. I can’t imagine making him change schools. He loves his school and has lied to me before about being sick to not miss (it was really embarrassing when his teacher called me – I felt like a crappy mom!). Forcing him to start over with all new friends seems like a nightmare. And honestly, I really like that our school has three daily recesses. Our local public schools are way too restrictive with free time. It is also a school district in an affluent neighborhood which means that everyone is gifted and they spend millions of dollars on sports stadiums. If he tests for a disability and our current school can’t support him, yes, I’d move him. (This is not an issue with teachers at the school – I know many of them that are awesome.)
                3. 4 years ago, I got advice here to never give into his whining. I have not since. We’re still waiting for him to grow out of it.
                4. One of his sports is bowling so this is a great idea.
                5. Probably also true.

                1. Observer*

                  You’ve taken a really good first step in never giving in to his whining. I hope you are equally clear with him when he tries to blame everyone else for his mistakes.

                  At this point, he may need to start feeling some real consequences for this kind of behavior. While it’s highly possible that he has some sort of diagnosable problem, whining and blaming others are two behaviors that are going to mean that he’s not going to make a whole lot of progress, regardless of what the problem is.

                2. TL -*

                  It’s great that you’re not giving into the whining but make sure you’re not making decisions primarily based on avoiding his whining/tantrums in the first place. (Every parent has to pick their battles, so it’s reasonable to avoid sometimes, just don’t let it be the biggest consideration in every decision.)

                  Also, if it’s been four years of this and you’re not seeing gradual improvement (can’t tell if you are or not), maybe it’s time to reach out for some expert support. That’s not a judgement on your parenting at all – sometimes kids are just wired differently than their parents’ default parenting style and having someone who is an expert neutral party give guidance can help make the trial-and-error of parenting go a lot easier.

                3. Juli G.*

                  @TL I am considering professional help. We really aren’t doing much to avoid whining (at this point, we have a second child who has his own opinions and is still at an age appropriate for some whining. No way to avoid it for both boys since they’re very different).

                  It’s hard to not feel like it’s my fault but I’m also not doing much different with kid 2 and he is way less whiny

                4. Juli G.*

                  @Observer I’m not good at not accepting the blame myself but I always stand up for his teachers, coaches, and dad. And my husband stands up for me.

          2. Observer*

            Get him evaluated. And if he won’t cooperate with you, then he probably does need to feel the concrete consequences. There could be a lot of issues going on here, but one thing he CAN do is cooperate in stuff like having his work checked. “I am NEVER wrong” is not ADD.

            His refusal to accept that he is ever wrong, or that he ever did not do the perfect thing is a problem and he needs to learn that there are consequences to that. In the world of work it’s kind of like the person who thinks that what their boss is asking is stupid or even incorrect, but does it anyway because you do what the boss says. He needs to learn that even when he thinks HE is right, he needs to do it your / the teacher’s / the boss’ way.

            As long as he gets away with refusing to do that, he’s going to keep on doing that.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        He’s bored and it’s going to be difficult to get him to pay closer attention as long as that’s true.

      4. Ann O.*

        I think the blame shifting and not reading/listening because “he knows how to do it” are the core issues from what you’ve said more than the grades. I wish I had good advice about the blame shifting because those are issues I struggle with to some extent with both my daughter and annoyingly, my spouse. However, the extent that you describe this for your child seems on the very extreme end.

        With the instructions/listening, however, you may be able to help by role modeling good techniques when you help with the homework. Try to do as much asking and as little telling, so he has to discover his errors and strategies on his own. (for example, with a math problem asking him to explain what the assignment is looking for.) The more indirectly you can lead him to spot his own errors, go back to his own work, IMHO, the more effective it is with this type of personality. Likewise even with the blame shifting, you can ask him to explain why he thinks things were unfair, which may get him to admit that something wasn’t. (Some people just need a vent/cool down period to deal with personal disappointment, though. I have a friend who is a champion blame shifter, but if she’s given space to cool down and process, she generally ends up admitting her responsibility.)

        I also wonder about incentivizing caring about good grades. I know there are mixed philosophies here about this, but your kid is already facing clear consequences for the blame shifting and skipping instructions. Those consequences aren’t enough motivation for him to try something new.

      5. Not enough coffee*

        For one of my kids, a simple bribe is always the best way to start changing a habit. She’s not super internally motivated, but it doesn’t take much.

        Example: when she was in 1st, we wanted her to stop blowing spit bubbles. Told her if she could go 3 days without doing it, we’d buy her a pack of gum so she could blow *real* bubbles. Took a week or so to earn the gum and once she did the habit was broken. In soccer, she just didn’t want to try. We told her if she did a certain thing her coach kept trying to get her to do twice, she’d get an ice cream after the game. She practiced hard all week and did it!

        For school, she actually does pay attention. But if she didn’t and she had your son’s problem, I’d say something like a week of perfectly completed (don’t need an A, but no careless mistakes) gets some small reward. Remind him of the reward daily (before school and before homework).

        My younger one is totally unmotivated by bribes and the only way to get her to do something is for her to want it. So we try hard to find ways to make her want to do things. It is exhausting!!

    2. PX*

      Not a parent, but this sounds a lot like many of my friends who were not challenged (in my case, this was in high school but…)

      To me, this is an age where report cards dont really matter so as long as he is passing I would probably let it go.

      But there is perhaps a bigger picture/thread about responsibility and attention to detail. I would be more inclined to look at other parts of his life and perhaps use examples from other things to demonstrate that if he rushes ahead/skips things – mistakes can happen which might be more serious. In my head, this would be great with putting together some kind of complicated toy (or even kids programming games perhaps) which show the relationship between instructions, attention to detail and results :D

      The key thing here is it needs to be something he cares about – not just you.

    3. Elder Dog*

      Sit down with him when he feels he’s done with his assignment and check it over with him. Ask him if this or that requirement is covered, don’t tell him. Let him discover his mistakes with your guidance before he turns his assignments in, and when he stops making mistakes the two of you discover (for more than a couple weeks please) start cutting back on the checking and see how he does on his own, and be prepared to have to go back once or twice. You want him to learn to handle this on his own, so don’t get all disappointed or critical when it doesn’t “stick” the first time or he’s making a lot of mistakes and not catching them till you point them out.

    4. Fikly*

      I have a cousin sort of like this. Very bright, refused to do anything in classes where the teacher annoyed him or he wasn’t interested. He’s now a successful pediatric neurosurgeon.

      1. Auto Generated Anon*

        There are so many things that could be going on, my thoughts as a parent of two very differently abled and super smart kids is- Start with, is it this sudden and only at school or does he miss instructions/forget at home and other activities too?

        One implies it’s classroom bases, the other that it’s brain based. Then the easy stuff – is he having trouble at school in other ways, what does his teacher think? what does last year’s teacher think? Vision and hearing?

        Could write a great deal more, if helpful, but don’t want to drown post. Let me know if you’d like more along these lines.

        Also, a really simple possibly. his school work has probably gotten more complicated and required longer time at work. He may not have skills to deal with that, like breaking a big project into pieces.

        1. Auto Generated Anon*

          I cross posted with your additions above – then saw them when I refreshed to make sure mine took. I’m going to re-read to make sure I understand.

        2. Juli G.*

          Well, he does with chores but I think that’s because he doesn’t want to do chores. He absorbs everything he can about the two sports he plays and takes good direction from coaches, YouTube videos on his sports, etc. as well as video games. He remembers every promise I’ve ever made and is a classic eavesdropper.

          Ha, the vision test is funny. He failed his health department vision test at school 2 years ago which seemed crazy because he can spot things so far away. They called me non-stop to go get a follow up. I finally went and his vision was perfect – eye doctor was baffled . He admitted that he was the last one tested and that it cut into the start of recess so he just yelled out some letters and left. We now opt out of health department vision testing.

          I just worry that I’m going to raise a kid that doesn’t care about achieving BUT blames everyone for the fact that he doesn’t. I can be comfortable with the first part but it’s the second part that I can’t let happen!

          1. Disco Janet*

            I wish I had more advice (I’m better at this stuff with teens, since that’s the age level I teach), but just wanted to commend you on recognizing what’s the important part here. I agree that focusing on the blame shifting Is the right move here – because it’s likely the underlying attitude that’s driving all of this.

          2. Auto Generated Anon*

            Me again. In accordance with Allison’s rules, we don’t diagnose over the internet. :). I’m my experience, lot of the things you describe could fit into several subtypes or ADD. Asking your pediatrician to do a ADD screen is an easy place to start, a good thing to rule out.

            Also check out understood dot org and chadd dot org. There’s a lot of great advice for all parenting there

            1. EinJungerLudendorff*

              Seconded. I also have a disorder in that area, and ADD often seems to manifest as being unable to do things you don’t care about while hyperfocusing on the things you do.

              Which leads to a lot of parents, teachers and kids looking at how they approach the interesting subjects, and wondering why they can’t just apply themselves to the boring/unwanted tasks. It’s clearly not above their level after all.
              And in my case, lead to a lot of ingrained assumptions that I was the problem, and that I was just too stupid/lazy/incompetent/selfish to do the tasks, which caused a host of behavioural and mental health issues that took more than a decade to work out. And I had good, loving parents and teachers.

              I’m not saying that this is the case with your kids, and the blame-shifting and competitiveness definitely needs to be worked on, but I would encourage you to look a bit closer than just dismissing their behaviour as “lazy” or “whiny” and trying to find out what their underlying behaviour and thoughts are.

              Sorry for the textwall, I let myself go a bit.

          3. knead me seymour*

            I’m not a parent or teacher, but based on your descriptions, I’m wondering if it might come down to a confidence issue–like, maybe he’s afraid to give his all in case he falls short. Does he have other issues with perfectionism or fear of failure? If so, I wonder if there may be avenues for him to develop the ability to overcome obstacles and make mistakes in an environment that feels lower pressure. I actually understand video games can be quite good for this, or maybe a hobby or craft that he likes. As a bonus, I feel like that this is a skill pretty much everyone can benefit from working on.

          4. Taylor Swift*

            What if you set a timer? So like, we’re doing work for an hour and if you finish in ten minutes we’re still sitting here for an hour? Maybe that would help teach him to take his time a little bit more.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Another non-parent. Sorry. I was that kid in grammar school who got Cs. The only time my parents said anything is when I dipped down to a D in something. And the most they said was, “See what you can do to pull that up a bit.” That was the worst thing they ever said about my grades. I never was afraid to show them my report card.

      This was so wise of them. Not kidding. I was not happy in school. I felt bullied for one thing. But mostly I was bored out of my mind. A typical example, we spent 6 weeks going over 4 quarts equals a gallon. Class after class we watched the teacher pour four quarts of water into a gallon jug. At the end of six weeks one person said they still did not understand and so we went back over it again. Everyone in the room sighed. I remember I used to get what I call boredom headaches. I never told anyone about these headaches from boredom.

      Another major piece for me was that if I did not see the relevance of what we were learning this would definitely cause me to have a low grade. I remember in kindergarten they drilled us on the letters of the alphabet and I had NO idea why. (No one really explained to me that I would need to read, nor did they really explain what reading was.) So I did not really learn much about letters until the next year. Years later this issue of relevance came up again when I took calculus. I did not understand where a person would use all those flippin’ formulas and I just could not get oriented to the course work.

      Grammar school was the worst of it. In high school I started to come alive. I could pick my courses! I could manipulate the schedule so I had the teachers I wanted! I could drop courses if the teacher called us stupid or anything else. I still did not get great grades. I think I was in the top 50% in a class of over 300. Then came college and I got that cum laude.

      My father was very much the same in school. Solid Cs and Ds. He went on to get many, many US patents. He said to me that grades do not always reflect what a person has learned. I married a man who had the same pattern. At work they called him the professor (think along the lines the professor of Gilligan’s Island). My husband was not a prof but he was able to retain scary high levels of information. He never got great grades in school, either.

      What me, my father and my husband all shared was that even though the school grades were not good we could find things of interest to us and learn about it. I had a collection of sea shells and I knew the names of every single type I had. I had a stamp collection and I could tell you where any country in the world was. I was ten. My father learned how to build things. My husband took apart clocks, motors etc to figure out how they worked. Our parents could not pick out what we were going to chose to learn, but we did keep learning. I think that is something to consider as you mull this over.

    6. C Average*

      Is everything okay for him socially? Does he have good relationships with his peers, does he feel safe and accepted at school, etc.? Do you ever see him struggling to fit in?

      I was a smart-on-paper kid who aced standardized tests but got meh grades. Looking back, I realize a lot of that was due to the ever-present distraction of trying to fit in socially when I frankly just didn’t. When I was in class, rather than focusing on what the teacher was saying, I was angsting about not having anyone to play with at recess, or getting iced out by someone I thought was my friend, wishing the teachers would do something about the boy bullying me, or trying to convince my mom to let me dress like the cool kids so I’d feel like less of a weirdo. Honestly, existing socially occupied so much of my headspace that it’s frankly amazing I learned anything at school.

      1. Juli G.*

        I don’t think that’s the problem. We tried to pull him out of school 40 minutes early one Friday and he threw a fit because his class had earned extra recess time that week and he and his friends had an epic ball tag game planned. He goes to a small school and when we show up for family events, a flock of kids run up to meet him. The only kid I’ve ever saw act like a bully moved last year and my kid and others in the class expressed how it was relief he was gone.

        I’m sorry that was your experience! I had similar problems.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      I think it helps to ask your son what he wants. I have done that with my son over the years, adapting the question to the situation and his age.

      Tell him his grades don’t show what he knows. Ask him if he is ready to be more organized so his grades will show what he knows.

      I think that gives him a voice and a role in the solution, keeps the pressure off the grades (they just are not reflecting reality), and models for him what to do when you are bored (find another skill to work on).

      And it does sound like he is bored. The teacher might have insight into this, into what else to do, and in how urgent they feel this is.

      Really, 3rd grade is much lower stakes than 9th grade (or whatever other grade level is key these days) and I think it is worth the time to work through this to build skills that will help him later.

      Good luck!

    8. Book Lover*

      My son would rush things and not even read questions before answering, but he has adhd. He also wanted to do well, but just wasn’t able to control the rushing. He would get angry about homework but he wouldn’t whine or blame others for his results. It doesn’t hurt to get an assessment (and it sounds like you have already done a lot) but I think some kids are just not people pleasers or anxious to do well, so they have to be internally motivated, which is really hard.
      Sorry, it sounds frustrating. I am trying really hard not to fuss about grades, but as someone who always did extremely well in school I have a difficult time knowing my son is smarter than I am but not getting the grades because he won’t slow down. He is in a program where he is able to be a couple of years ahead in math and so on, and enjoys it – definitely worth seeing if your son is just bored (I didn’t see if you addressed that, sorry if I missed it).

    9. BRR*

      This question has really made me think. I think I’m reasonably smart but did terrible in school and it only got worse later on. I don’t know if I have advice for you now but I will say because I was “smart” I never learned how to study and that came back to bite me really hard. I feel kind of wrong saying this and don’t know if it’s bad parenting but maybe don’t let his intelligence be an excuse. I 100% agree that people can be bored because they’re not challenged and I don’t love testing overall as a measure of smarts, I would just hate to see him suffer in the future like how I did.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I think this is a really important point. He’s just a kid, but at some point “they’re bored and need more of a challenge” is kind of a cop out. When you’re in the work world, it’s likely that you’ll start off on a lower rung job that may not have as much challenge or responsibility as you want. But you have to prove that you can do that job well to get the challenge and responsibility.

      2. Juli G.*

        THIS WAS ME! And it’s why I stress about this so much. I was lazy. Truly. I’m not sure if I ever finished a high school assignment more than five minutes before class started. The valedictorian of my class took his ACT a second time because he was so mad that I got a better score than him (I’m an excellent standardized tester). I coasted easily to a 3.0

        My parents let me get away with it because my brother did have a learning disability and hated school. I wish they had pushed me. It would have made a difference in my life. My husband feels the same way but about athletics – his parents ignored his raw athletic ability and had he been supported, he probably could have had a scholarship to at least a junior college.

        But my son is different from both of us in a lot of ways and similar in others. It feels like every decision you make his life or death.

    10. PaperTowelBattle*

      Honestly, this sounds like me before I got my ADHD diagnosis- the refrain from my teachers was “smart but careless”. Answering the wrong question correctly and forgetting to do homework were a huge indicators.

    11. Michaela*

      Juli, from everything you’ve written (including the responses to other posters) I second the recommendation to pursue more testing for your son.

      While you’re waiting for the results, I think your son would benefit from sessions with a trained counsellor or an educational psychologist to address his reaction to being told he’s wrong, and his feelings about achievement and competition. In the scheme of things, he’s likely to have issues (both in outcomes of learning & socially) because of this, and it is much harder to address in teenagers.

      Also, it sounds to me like you could really benefit from some concrete suggestions from a professional around how to support your son while he works through these issues. I hope there are lots of resources available to you online and in person. Where I live there are several evidence-based programs for parents that are usually run for 8 weeks at a time (as well as dedicated counsellors etc).

      You might also consider going to some family therapy sessions to help you all draw together in problem solving, and creating a less fraught dynamic, well before your son starts puberty.

      1. Juli G.*

        Thank you. This is good advice. At the risk of making my son sound terrible (we truly had a fun carefree Saturday together!), he has a lot of resentment around his younger brother and they are such opposites. Support therapy couldn’t possibly hurt.

    12. AcademiaNut*

      As a former very bright but careless kid –

      Treat the carelessness as a weakness that needs to be worked on the same way you would difficulty with reading or math. Just because someone is really intelligent doesn’t mean that they have good attention to detail, or good study habits, or the maturity to go with their intelligence. Making sure he’s challenged academically is very important, but it’s not necessarily going to improve his ability to pay attention and follow instructions.

      It sounds like he might need more oversight when it comes to doing work – more than is typically for a kid that age. Maybe a check in at night when he’s doing homework to make sure he’s read and is following instructions. Talk to the teacher for strategies – maybe having him redo stuff that he’s been careless on would help, or some sort of reward system that’s not about marks, but about remembering stuff.

      And it’s easy to make it not about grades! Make it about the fact that reading and following instructions is an important part of school. If your kid were struggling with reading, you’d be working with him and the school on it, and I’m sure you wouldn’t be emphasizing that it’s all about the grades.

    13. TurtleIScream*

      Wow, I coûld have written this last year. My son was in third grade at a private school, super smart and socially well-adjusted, but was putting in bare minimum effort. Turned in half-completed assignments, late. Wrote down the wrong spelling words. Read books below his reading level to quickly get through them. My son said he was sooooo bored, but never ever put in extra work when he was challenged. We tried so many of the stratgies named above, but very little worked. You know what ultimately helped? He got a male teacher this year.

      It is good be be an involved, concerned parent, but I think too many of us think our children are a perfect reflection of us and our parenting abilities. Your son may be smart and capable, and just not care. You or he might stumble across something that will make him start caring, but there’s not a perfect formula to raising high-achieving children. And believe me, I understand the defensive feeling, sitting in parent-teacher conferences, wondering how much the teacher is judging you for letting your kid turn crap in. At some point, give you and your kid some grace, and don’t let the pressure get to you.

      The only thing I would suggest that did help us a little – we created a schedule that included 1/2 hour of free play time right after school, and put a hard stop time of 6:30 on all schoolwork. After that was family dinner and downtime. Any homework that didn’t get done, didn’t. He could earn extra playtime if he showed me properly completed work before time was up, but he was never punished by taking away his scheduled free time.

    14. Nicki Name*

      I was a super-smart 8-year-old with terrible grades. Teachers would tell me I was smart, and since I was smart, I shouldn’t get bad grades. My reaction was to tell myself that in that case, since I had bad grades, I obviously wasn’t that smart, and to tune school out more and more.

      As an adult, I’ve read a lot the last few years that framing intelligence as a fixed quantity leads kids to put less effort into schoolwork and be more afraid of showing weakness than when it’s framed as something like a muscle which takes work to train.

      So… if you’re telling him he’s smart, try refocusing away from that.

    15. Fikly*

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’m concerned that you used the word lazy to describe your third grader. The vast majority of kids having school work problems aren’t doing it due to laziness. That’s a shorthand word used by adults that means, well, kid must be at fault, there couldn’t possible be a reason for it that’s not the kid’s fault.

      Even “smart” kids can have problems with schoolwork. I was a smart kid who had problems with schoolwork. And you know what? I was told I shouldn’t, because I was smart, and I took it to heart, and hated myself for decades because it must be my fault, right?

      1. TL -*

        Eh, my middle brother was lazy growing up. He grew out of it but as a kid he just didn’t want to put effort into things a lot of time – he wasn’t frustrated, he wasn’t struggling once he decided to do them, and there wasn’t an underlying issue. My parents made it clear what standards he needed to meet and he met them but that was the extent of his effort.

        I mean, all of kids had lazy moments and the occasional lazy tendencies, but his was more of a character trait than a tenancy. As an adult he’s a little lower energy than the rest of us, but he doesn’t default to doing things at bare minimum acceptable anymore.

      2. Juli G.*

        I take your point but I was lazy as hell at that age. And older. So it’s probably some projection.

    16. J.B.*

      I have an extremely bright child with an anxiety diagnosis, and was that child myself. (She has been evaluated.) Organization is not our thing. For us, missing stuff was not a matter of laziness, it was a matter of not seeing something on the paper. My strategy right now is to emphasize that I know the organization thing is hard. She must do the work but I will support her in any way I can. With organization the best thing is to come up with strategies, checklists, review steps etc.

      Start with the school counselor and teacher and ask about the evaluation process. Now if your kid is more or less meeting grade level they may put you off – especially if the school has a tiered policy. But D’s might be enough to catch their attention. If you need a private evaluation expect it to be $1,000 plus with limited insurance coverage.

    17. JC Books*

      The book Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman would be a great book for you to read. Once you know the child’s love language, motivation increases.

  16. Valancy Snaith*

    I just returned from a week-long visit to my parents, since my mom had landed in hospital. We are really struggling, here. She has Stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer that’s spread to her liver, lungs, and spine, and consequently is in a lot of pain. Her team recommended she do some radiation to reduce the tumor in her spine and relieve some pain, but she is reluctant because being on the rad table hurts her. They suggested upping her pain, she doesn’t want to because she’s afraid she’ll be hooked or they’ll give her too much and off her. (Her brother died of an opioid overdose about 15 years ago.) So she’s just in the hospital, in pain, refusing treatment, hoping it’ll get better on its own. She’s reluctant to talk to anyone–my dad, the doctor, anyone–but she did talk briefly to a social worker and only said she’s afraid.

    We are really, really struggling hard. It’s her body, her life, her choice, but it is unfathomably difficult to watch her suffer like this and refuse treatment or relief. I’m not sure she’ll see Christmas at this point.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I’m sorry. It’s an incredibly hard situation to be in.
      Is there any way to get her to palliative care? Maybe someone from palliative care can explain to her how it works and how they are careful with the pain medication and they’re just there to get her comfortable, nothing more.

    2. patricia*

      I have no direct experience with any of this, so first I offer you my sympathy. I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you.

      I re-read a wonderful, thought-provoking article by Atul Gawande (love his work so much!) recently called Letting Go. It’s about managing end of life outcomes better than our medical system does currently. I’ll post a link in a follow up comment (though it’s also easily google-able) that may give you some food for thought. It’s lengthy but I think worth the time.

      All my good thoughts to you at this time.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thank you for this link. I am really happy to see people starting to think this way and starting to talk about this.

      1. C Average*

        Second this recommendation, and really anything by Atul Gawande. Wonderful human, wonderful writer.

      2. Valancy Snaith*

        It’s a beautiful piece that really resonated with me personally, but my mom has said over and over again that she’s afraid, doesn’t want to die, is afraid that we’re trying to “get rid of her,” and similar things. But since she’s so resistant to talking with me and my dad this way, we’re at a loss on where to go from here.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Oh, this is hard. It must hurt so much to see her suffering, and then to hear her say those things.

          I’m thinking the only thing you can do is tell her you love her, you support her, and you will do whatever you can to ensure her wishes are respected. She’s feeling so powerless right now. Maybe if she sees that you’re willing to respect her wishes, however baffling they may be to you, she’ll be able to trust you a bit more. It’s so, so difficult, though, to be in a situation where this most you can do feels like nothing.

          I’m sorry your family is going through this. Jedi hugs to all of you, if you want them, from an internet stranger.

        2. patricia*

          I’m so sorry. It sounds like her fear is so overwhelming to her, and my heart goes out to all of you. If she spoke with the social worker, perhaps the social worker would persuade her to meet with hospice? Again, no direct experience here. My heart just goes out to you and your whole family.

    3. Asenath*

      It’s incredibly difficult when you have a relative who won’t take what seems to you to be obvious and simple measures to reduce pain or make life a bit easier. I don’t have any solutions other than to try to be patient and not nag her. My late relative would sometimes take suggestions from a nurse or doctor that she’d refuse from us, but it sounds like you’ve tried that.

    4. tab*

      So sorry that you’re dealing with this. We lost my dad in January, and my brother in April. It’s not easy, but I was lucky to have my family to support me. Sending you encouragement and internet hugs.

    5. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, Valancy. That’s hard to be a bystander to.

      Sometimes in stress and pain is like being at the edge of a cliff–it feels like any movement will send you tipping over the edge and holding very still is the only safe thing. And sometimes also what we hang on to as the important things about ourselves are our handholds, and we fear that if we let go of those things we’ll fall. I hope you and your family can find some peace with her path.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The grief from watching a loved one suffer can be as hard or harder than losing a loved one. Our thoughts can run all over the place from our own mortality to “how do I cope in life without my person?” to “make that pain go away, do something/anything!”

      Try to hang on to the fact that the sum total of one’s life is NOT in their final illness and suffering. There is more to their lives than that. It’s really hard to remember this as you think about standing next to that hospital bed, these are some of the most intense moments life has to offer.

      I did not agree with my husband’s choices when he faced his final illness. But I was his wife, not his dictator. It felt like, “Do I love him enough to let him make choices I know are bad ones?” In the end, I realized it was his to process and my role was merely to serve. This can be a really hard pill to swallow. I did find some relief with this thought however. I ran him to the 67 doctor appointments over a 13 week period. (Yes, those are real numbers.) I was able to do it because I decided to just be of service. Ironically, if my heart/brain had been screaming NO all the way, I probably would have collapsed and landed in the ER half way through.

      See, some things are way bigger than us. Picture a tornado. We cannot stop that tornado. We can only serve the victims of the tornado. And each victim has different needs and different settings. I could not stop his tornado. I could only be the person who helped him to implement the activities and choices he thought would be best for him. Even if those choices were not always the best for him.

      This goes into the next step. Redefining our definition of love. What do we think love is vs. how do we show love in real life? “Do I love you enough to let you do what you think is best and set aside my own thoughts?” I got to thinking about some time MANY YEARS from now, I will ask people to respect my own wishes. And they may have a hard time doing that. I will lay there and I will hope that they do as I have asked. I hope they serve ME.
      I will never understand some of his choices but maybe understanding is not the point.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          Agreed. NSNR, this so resonated with me (1 year, 2 months, but who is counting how long I’ve been a widow?). This is so true.

          Thank you for sharing. Really needed this today.

    7. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Oh my heart goes out to you. Have you read Atul Gowande’s ‘Being Mortal’. Would your mom consider hospice? It sounds like she’s in ‘quality of life’ frame of mind and they are stellar at that. I know hospice can sound like your loved one is on the brink, but that’s really not necessarily the case – it’s about mapping out how to make your life the most enjoyable you can. That might not be where she is of course, but the hospice nurses I know are really good at looking at things more from quality of life perspective than hospitals do. Please do forgive me if I have read this all wrong – I am so sorry for what you are going through.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        She would not. She is actively afraid that we’re trying to “get rid of her” or “push her out,” so she is absolutely not in the frame of mind where she would even not panic at the idea of hospice.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Does her hospital have a pain specialist team? Such a team could help allay her fears about pain medications and help her be more comfortable.

          Is there a support group for people with (basically) untreatable Stage 4 cancer near her? (And a support group for loved ones of people with such cancer – for your dad)? Support group for you?

          Condolences for what you and your family are going through.

    8. PaperTowelBattle*

      That’s awful, and i’m so sorry that your family is going through this.
      If she has stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer, palliative care, therapists, and possibly hospice workers should be actively involved in her care: does she have these specialists in her care team? Have you spoken to them about whether being in the hospital is appropriate in the first place?

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        They are. I live in a different country from my mom so I’m not exactly her primary caregiver–that would be my dad. It’s his role, not mine, to question that.

    9. Quandong*

      I’m so, so sorry. My suggestion is to seek counselling and support for yourself, since your mother is going to do this her own way, and you need help to cope with that.

      It can be traumatizing to see loved ones suffering so intensely, apart from the grief of knowing they are dying.

      Sending internet hugs if you’d like them.

    10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      That’s hard.

      Does the hospital offer patient-controlled pain dosing? That might help her accept that “they” won’t give her too much and off her, because she can give herself a little extra *now* without someone else deciding that means her next dose should be increased. The social worker might be able to put this in terms of “I understand you’re afraid of an overdose, here’s how we’ll keep you safe from that.”

    11. Tea and Sympathy*

      Can you ask her doctor if they can give her something for her anxiety? When my BIL had stage 4 pancreatic cancer he was also treated for anxiety, and I think it really helped him cope with everything.

  17. Punctuation puzzler*

    I have a writing etiquette question for you. I’ve seen people online saying that it’s rude (condescending/patronising/passive aggressive) to use ellipses when writing. I’d never heard this before, so I wanted to ask: is this a widely-known etiquette rule for written communication in general, or more of an online convention? I’m curious because I use this form a lot in informal communication (never in formal writing), as do my friends, and colleagues in our work WhatsApp group, and never thought anything of it. We tend to use the ellipses for incomplete thoughts or things which need doing (“I wonder where that book is… I’ll look later…”) or as an alternative to a comma.

    Help much appreciated, as I’d prefer not to cause offence.

    (If it matters, I’m in Italy and tend to use the ellipses in the same way in Italian and English.)

    1. Teapot Translator*

      My Filipino sister-in-law uses ellipsis (none of us are native English speakers). I do not understand what they mean for her. To me, they come across as passive aggressive? Like, if you write “Thank you…”, I’m going to wonder if you’re saying only thank you or “Thank you, I guess. You weren’t much help.” I should probably ask her at some point what she means with those ellipsis since she’s not a passive aggressive person.

      1. NaoNao*

        I lived in the Philippines for three years and I saw this frequently. From my (could be mistaken!) understanding, they are a kind of visual “softening” that acts as “tone” where text cannot. They also are literally just “decoration” because again from my could be mistaken understanding, Filipinos really love making text messages “cute” or “pretty” :)

    2. Amethyst*

      I’ve run across people who overly use them, & I take it as a type of tic, not anything PA. (But it also depends on the person’s personality.) My dad tends to use the space bar when he’s thinking, so a lot of his emails look like this. (I hope the multiple spaces show up after this posts, lol.) It’s like people who “um” or something when speaking.

      I’m also basing the above off the assumption that they’re not dragging out the ellipsis in their sentence, so………..

      But ellipsis on their own isn’t rude, & it’s odd that someone would presume that it’s rude.

    3. PX*

      I think this is a super cultural thing and I think is more an online convention. Online culture tends to skew pretty North American centric (I think) and there are some parts where the ellipsis is a kind of shorthand for sarcasm I guess?

      I personally tend to use it like you do (for incomplete thoughts) quite often. But as someone who has grown up in a non-English speaking country, and has many international friends – I’m used to just running with whatever weird quirks people have when writing. And if they want to be rude/passive aggressive, I would much rather they use their actual words! I take great pleasure in being deliberately obtuse sometimes ;)

    4. FriendlyPassingDragon*

      Personally, I’ve never heard/seen someone say that ellipses were considered rude… (Right here I mean it as hmmm, I’m still trying to think of examples of people talking about ellipses.)
      It puts me in mind of “awkward” characters or moments, such as in a game or anime when a character responds only with “…”, which can range in meaning from “I don’t understand what you just said” to “I DO understand what you just said and either I can’t believe you said it or I’m in super awkward mode and cannot reply”…
      In the end I think it really depends heavily on the context. I suppose there I was using it as you do (incomplete thought trails off).
      I have seen it used somewhat “rudely” on occasion, mostly when the “empty space” in someone’s discourse implies an extremely sarcastic tone. It can be hard to tell of course, because someone MAY be saying something like “And you thought that was a good idea…?” or “You thought that was a good idea because…” in a neutral, I’m-your-friend-listening-to-your-story tone, or it could be a sarcastic or even outright meant-to-be-insulting what-were-you-possibly-thinking-this-was-so-dumb tone.
      Context seems more responsible than the ellipsis itself though.

    5. fposte*

      The other thing I’d mention is that there are people who use ellipses, sometimes in atypical numbers, as their only punctuation, and that can get hard to read. But it doesn’t sound like that’s you, since you’re capably wielding periods and commas up there.

      But it’s very hard to read sentences…..when they go like this……and you never know what they’re building up to…….and it makes the noise of static in my brain……

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. It’s… really annoying… when… people…. won’t type out a simple gotdamn sentence… and just… leave… things… trailing…

        Use actual punctuation.

    6. Courageous cat*

      I find people around my parents’ age tend to use ellipses more online, and they’re fine in the middle of the sentence, but almost never at the end. It leaves the thought so incomplete and sometimes seems really… not happy.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I use them exactly like courageous cat. To show a pause that I might use in speech. He said this and I was . . . confused.

        I’ve never considered them rude but using them instead of punctuation is, as others said, poor form, bad writing. I use them in formal writing to show a gap in a quote.

      2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Yeah, I agree, it’s the ending ellipses. It sounds like you’re dubious. Or you don’t really mean it.

        “Okay…” sounds in my head sort of like, “Ooookay,” when you draw out your word to signify disbelief.

        But don’t actually spend a lot of time on the internet, so maybe I’m wrong.

    7. MMB*

      I’m so glad someone asked this question! I’ve always used ellipses to indicate a pause, hesitancy, or a sort of ….. trailing off. Therefore, I’ve always perceived them that way when others use them. Grammatically, they’re used to indicate that a word or words have been left out. I had no idea that some people see them as rude, sarcastic or condescending.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Completely agree with everything you said, MMB—about the grammatical use, and about ellipses indicating a pause, or a shrug, or definitely a trailing off … I like them! Am horrified to think that all these years, people who’ve seen me use them might have thought I was intentionally rude or condescending. (Feedback indicates my readers have received my intended meaning, but … dang. Now I have to worry about this in addition to unintentional personal pronoun usage. Sigh.)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s weak writing if overused.
      There are rare occasions where ellipses can make sense.

      To me overuse looks like this…. not up to crafting complete sentences today… I need you to fill in my blanks… and surely you will do that….because I am not really giving you a choice…..if you want to find out what I am saying… you have to keep going….

      Grr. I will give up and just go read something else.

    9. Xavier89*

      This is just anecdotal of course but I often see it as an age difference kind of thing

      For example a slack conversation with an older co worker might go

      Me- good morning!
      Older co worker-morning…
      Me- how are you doing?
      Older co worker- I’m okay…
      Me- okay well have a good day
      Older co worker-thanks…

      To me those “…” look passive aggressive but typically I know them well enough to know they don’t actually mean anything about it

      Another example is I’ve seen lots of older people who think younger people sound weird and over excited in text messages whereas younger people might find that the older person sounds uninterested

      For example

      Younger person-okay I got our tickets!!!
      Older person-ok. thanks..
      Younger person-you still want to go right?
      Older person-sure..
      Younger person-okay yay!

      Hope I’m not offending anyone obviously this is very generalized. It’s just a pattern I’ve noticed

    10. knead me seymour*

      The farther you get into the Anne of Green Gables series, the longer each book takes to read because the author … develops a somewhat … annoying habit of sticking … ellipses everywhere in her sentences for no apparent reason. In my opinion, ellipses are best … in moderation.

      For casual written communication, I think the passive aggressive interpretation comes in particularly when they’re added to the end of brief messages. If I ask my friend to do me a favour and she replies “Okay…” that sounds like the written equivalent of a heavy sigh. Or if I give my coworker a piece of information and she says “Thanks…” But apparently this isn’t always intentional on the writer’s part.

    11. LJay*

      Yeah, if I read “I wonder where that book is… I’ll look later…” I would feel as though I were being accused of taking or moving the book. Especially in a text usage like that does read as rude or passive aggressive to me.

      Those both are complete thoughts and can be punctuated appropriately as “I wonder where that book is? I’ll look later.” so as the reader if you choose to punctuate it differently I read a different intention into it. I do try to keep in mind that it may not be intended rudely and to not jump to conclusions, but my initial reaction to it is that it us rude and I need to bring myself back down from there.

      1. Nita*

        Huh. Interesting. To me “I wonder where that book is…” reads as trailing off to think about where the book might be, while “I wonder where that book is?” reads vaguely accusatory, like I’m asking the person I’m talking to (with the implication that I think they know the answer). So, a completely opposite reaction. I guess that’s exactly why it’s so tricky to convey tone in texts… (this is a thoughtful ellipsis, not a sarcastic or accusatory one!)

    12. Loopy*

      More often than not I intensely dislike them because they confuse me in casual written conversation (via text). It makes a perfectly mundane response seem vague and loaded with unsaid meaning. I usually don’t read into it but rarely do I feel like it was needed or even just made sense when used!

    13. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I use ellipses as… dramatic… pauses… and sometimes in places where… here, for example – I’d use a dash. Also, sometimes, just to end a post… like here…

    14. Anon Librarian*

      I think the comment about them being condescending / passive-aggressive must refer to times when they are. Meaning when they are used inappropriately.

      Good morning . . .

      That sounds passive-aggressive. But if you’re trying to convey a pause or a thought trailing off, as is standard, I say keep using them.

      I can’t imagine . . . I mean, I have no idea . . . .

    15. LilySparrow*

      They can be used to convey a snarky attidude, such as

      “Well, if you really think that….I guess you do you, bro.”

      Which would indicate that you think the other person is really stupid for their opinion.

      But they can also be used in perfectly normal ways. Punctuation is neutral.

    16. Morning Reader*

      I heard or read somewhere recently that this is a generational thing. (Might have been on NPR?) iirc, older texters use them for a pause or trailing off, while the younger tend to see them as sarcasm or rude. There were other generational differences noted. I think my own use follows the patterns they described. Another difference was that younger texters are more conversational, with shorter, back and forth texts, while older ones go longer and include all the info in one blast, more like an email. (I might have that backwards.)

  18. Aurora Leigh*

    Organic food–

    Since we’ve combined housholds, we have a little more flexibility in the grocery budget.

    Anyome have any good resources on how to decide which foods are best to make the switch to organic? So much of the stuff online seems to be fear based and I’m skeptical they just want to scare people into spending more money.

    Like organic quinoa isn’t that much more expensive than the normal kind, but it’s a seed, so how much could it really absorb?

    I wonder the same thing about chicken feed — would buying the organic version actually make a difference as to what gets in the eggs?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I don’t know how reliable it is, but the EWG does a list of the food with the most pesticide (link in reply).
      Besides the effect of pesticide in our own health, from consuming food with pesticide on it, there’s also the effect of pesticide on the environment or on the producers themselves. So, the choices you make depend on why you would want to eat organic.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce: EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

    2. PX*

      I’m not sure about resources but my personal experience/taste test definitely says meat (if you eat it) and eggs are worth the switch. In my case, it helps that organic usually comes combined with free range (so better animal welfare) – so I cant definitively say which one makes the difference, but it definitely does. Overall, I’d say any animal product is better off organic (I’ve noticed differences in dairy as well).

      I try to do vegetables as well usually but the cost factor there sometimes gets me, and I’ve yet to find a super clear cut difference in taste.

    3. tab*

      My rule is that if I peel it before I eat it, then it doesn’t need to be organic. If I eat the skin (berries, apples, potatoes, tomatoes, etc) I definitely want it to be organic.

      1. Loopy*

        This is a guideline I heard that made sense to me. I don’t splurge for organic but in this sense I can see why people do.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s a good guideline.

        I go for organic products when I shop at Aldi — mostly the pasta sauce, ketchup, and applesauce — because they don’t add so damn much sugar. The applesauce has no added sugar. I’m trying to cut down but then of course they put Ding Dongs right there where I can see them.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          I shop at Aldi all the time and never thought about comparing the sugars on those things! Other than the applesauce, because I grew up eating unsweetened and like it better that way. Thanks for the tip!

        2. Jdc*

          I feel victim to the ding dongs al Aldi the other day. On the up side I eat very little sugar in general so not the end of the world. On the downside, calories.

    4. university minion*

      My personal hierarchy for food buying is organic local > conventional local > organic shipped in > conventional shipped in, and I try to eat what’s in season whenever possible. My local co-op’s produce purchases generally follow this as well.
      For meat, I generally minimize consumption, but when I buy meat, I purchased from producers who practice regenerative agriculture. The factory farm/CAFO model is absolutely done organically and that’s something I prefer to stay away from.
      I don’t care as much about potential pesticide/chemical residue as I do about the overall footprint to produce and that it’s done in a humane manner (for both workers and animals in the case of meat).
      YMMV of course.

    5. fposte*

      So there are two ways to ask this question: which foods make the most difference, and which foods make a difference worth the price difference? I make that point because you can have the 10 foods most likely to contain *anything* (like, many foods have trace amounts of arsenic) but that doesn’t tell you how big those amounts are or how different they are from the 10 least likely.

      It’s also worth noting that organic farming doesn’t usually mean no pesticides, and while they’re restricted to a shorter list, they can use as much as they want, so often there’s a greater amount of pesticides used because the approved pesticides are not as effective. There’s an interesting Scientific American article that I’ll link in followup about what organic does and doesn’t mean, and how mostly we buy it for myths. (You’re probably closer to goals buying from a local small farm without organic certification than commercially farmed organic supermarket produce, for instance.)

      I’m definitely in favor of more planet- and human-friendly farming, but organic isn’t, IMHO, as useful a way of dividing as one might hope.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Thanks, fposte! That is really great article. Reaffirms my skepticism about what is marketed as organic.

          And yes, buying local or raising ourselves is our first choice, regardless. Frustrating that labels can mean so little though.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I like university minion’s flow chart. Ultimately I’ll take some trouble to buy local but not take trouble to buy organic.

          2. Natalie*

            You might look for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share near you. Typically you get a box every week or every other week during the growing season with all kinds of stuff in it, depending on (duh) what’s in season. A share usually comes with one or two events at the farm so you can literally see it yourself.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Thanks fposte, that’s a good summary. Organic does not mean pesticide free or even less pesticides, so you’re going to still need to wash everything!

        Money wise, I’d personally lean towards going for better meat, dairy and eggs, in farming practices and animal treatment (and hormones and antibiotics), and with vegetables go for in season and local as much as possible.

        Health wise, I figure eating lots of well washed vegetables is going to be so much of an improvement over not eating vegetables that the organic/non organic effect is minimal if it exists at all.

    6. 00ff00Claire*

      You might want to try Googling “dirty dozen foods”. It’s a list updated every year on the 12 foods that are most affected by pesticides. The counterpart, “clean fifteen” are supposed to be least in pesticides. It’s short and sweet and since it really can be quiet confusing about what is better / best / etc, I just try to go with that in general. Maybe only applies to US though.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I heard part of an NPR article this week (grr commutes that take me between stations) on a French study showing benefit to honeybees with organic farming and a chance to give beehives time away from modern agricultural products. As a once & future beekeeper I’m reminded to go look this up!

      1. LilySparrow*

        Yes, I think most of the advantage to buying organic is that it promotes some better farming practices, not so much a direct health benefit to consumers.

        Not that all organic farms are ideal, but it doesn’t lend itself to massive industrial monocropping, for example.

    8. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Also, what are you trying to improve? Your health, or the environment more broadly, and does the latter include the health of farmers and farm workers?

      For the latter, you probably want to reduce shipping distance, so you aren’t paying for the possibly healthier meal with more polluted air.

      Organic/conventional doesn’t tell you whether the farm workers are getting adequate drinking water or bathroom breaks–and if they aren’t, that increases the risk of E. coli in your vegetables. (I’m not sure how to check on this; it’s mostly a heads-up that neither organic nor conventional farming is necessarily safer than the other.)

  19. Amethyst*

    I’ve been decluttering during my three day weekend. Yesterday was spent shredding 4″ of paper I’d kept on a DV situation I’d left 6.5 years ago. (My paternal grandmother was my abuser.) It’s freeing not to have all that paper around as I’d been holding onto them just in case she or someone from that side tried to sue me (for what, IDK, but they’re that unhinged).

    I’ve also gotten rid of 2 bags & a medium box full of things I no longer use. They’re going into my town’s Buy Nothing event today where people can sift through everyone’s unwanted items for things they can use, so that feels good.

    I’m also the commenter from last week whose dad broke his finger on the circular saw. Thank you for your comments & reassurance. I reread them all throughout the week. I had 5 sleepless nights before I finally crashed hard. My father has chosen not to have the tendons in his finger repaired. As he put it, “I’m 59, I’m old, I don’t use that finger much, & the only thing I can’t do once it heals is bend it all the way to my palm. So I’m not getting it fixed.” I haven’t yet 100% committed to it, but I’ve started thinking in terms of “what I need to do next to repair the dresser”, so I guess I’m keeping it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Am smiling about the dresser. Good for you.
      And good for you on your decluttering, that’s some heavy lifting right there.

  20. Smello Vision*

    Has anyone found they have a more sensitive sense of smell in their early 30s than in their 20s?

    Am early 30s, Aunt Flo visited last week so am definitely not preggers. Is it hormone fluctuations?

    Case in point: sensitive to car air freshener do have to have window cracked open; gave up coffee 2 years ago and walking into a Starbucks today makes my stomach churn bc of all the burnt coffee smell

    1. Elf*

      Take a pregnancy test anyway. It is totally possible to have something that looks like a period while pregnant (especially if it was somewhat lighter than normal.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I got into my thirties and I had to eliminate all fragrances from the house. The doc said it was a cumulative effect- over time the stuff got to me. On the plus side, fragrances bother me a lot less when I go out.

    3. Venus*

      I find this in part because I’m not used to some really strong smells. I didn’t mind perfume when I was younger, but now I work in a scent-free place and being around someone wearing perfume is really irritating to my nose (and eyes, if it’s strong). You are mentioning smells which can be very strong – perfumes and coffee – and I have had similar reactions.

    4. Llama Face!*

      I’m older than you by a few years but have definitely noticed my sense of smell (as well as potential for nausea) cranking up over the last little while. And fwiw it would be physically impossible for me to be pregnant unless I somehow got transformed into an aphid* in my sleep without realising it. ;)

      For myself I figured it may be part of an early perimenopause thing, though that’s probably not the case for someone in their early 30s.

      *Can you tell that I find it inordinately fascinating that female aphids can singlehandedly have their own clone babies who can be born already pregnant with the clone granddaughter? Not that I actually want to do that!

    5. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      Definitely happened to me at your age, and it’s still with me. Can’t wear or even get near perfume anymore, fragrance free everything all the way. My doctor said that happens often.

    6. Weegie*

      I suddenly became very sensitive to anything perfumed when I developed a severe intolerance of rapeseed/Canola oil. I couldn’t be in a room with pot pourri in it, and the washing powder aisle at the supermarket made me feel so ill I had to leave. Once I discovered what the intolerance was and stopped eating anything with the oil in it, the sensitivity to scents diminished considerably, although not completely.

      Some years later, when I equally suddenly became gluten-intolerant (after a bout of flu, would you believe), all food smelled like toast while it was cooking – not unpleasant, but very odd! Again, as soon as the intolerance was identified and gluten eliminated from my diet, food smells returned to normal.

      So, in my case, scent sensitivity seems to be related to food intolerances.

    7. Jdc*

      Me me! I can smell everything. It’s actually annoying. I’ve been to my OBGYN twice thinking something was up but apparently I’m just nuts. Not pregnant, can’t be, wish I was.

    8. Bluebell*

      Count me in as “the older I get, the more sensitive my sense of smell is.” In my early 30s, suddenly I hated the scent of lilies. And nowadays I have to be very careful about scented candles, and I’m extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke (and I’m asthmatic too.). I’m past getting my period, so definitely unrelated to possible pregnancy!

    9. Jane of all Trades*

      Yes!! Early 30’s and I just came to the same realization a few days ago… I think the people on the subway definitely don’t smell worse than they did a few years ago, but all of a sudden I’m so much more aware of it (and I’m 100% not pregnant). I thought it was just me!

  21. Aurora Leigh*

    I know there are several of us on here planning 2020 weddings, so I thought I’d share — my Maid of Honor and I just found the perfect dresses for the bridal party! At . . . wait for it . . . Amazon!

    I’ll comment with the links below.

    The wedding is in mid-May, so I will probably need to find wraps for everyone since the dresses are sleeveless.

    I scored my invitations from Zola on a 40% sale (which they seem to do a lot!). They came with the addresses printed on the envelopes, plus I can use the same theme for my wedding website.

    Feel free to share your own wedding planning sucesses (or fails)!

      1. Kuododi*

        I love the grape color dress!!! That color is actually one of my personal favorites. I have a cocktail dress in teal lace that’s almost a carbon copy of your bridesmaids dresses. (Mine has a traditional hem rather than Hi-Lo or handkerchief style). I originally bought my dress for a Make-a-Wish foundation gala. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having my teal dress and have worn it to other occasions. (Parties where I needed to glam up a bit, special occasions with DH…you get the idea!). I say all this to say I am confident your bridesmaids will get good use out of that style without problems. I’ve found it to be a style that can be dressed up or down depending on the choice of accessories. A belated but no less heartfelt “Mazel Tov” regarding the pending wedding. May you and your partner enjoy a long and happy life together. Blessings

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Aw, thanks! Rewaerable is the gold standard lol. I’m not positive on that count, but if they do end up only being able to wear them once, the under $35 price point makes me feel better about it.

    1. Anonyme*

      Vistaprint has frequent sales also. We are at $100 for all STD, Invites, RSVP cards and envelopes.

      I think our key money saver was getting a restaurant as a venue. They have a minimum spend (which we’ll hit no matter what) but no rental fee. It is also already a pretty location.

      Also bought a dress online and did minor alterations myself so $175 for that.

      Goal is $5000 or under for 75 people.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Go you! We are doing a state park for our venue, and also hoping to keep a $5000 budget for about 100 people (mostly family, and a handful of close friends).

        So far we are at $125 for my Modcloth dress ( haven’t decide if I want to attempt alterations myself yet or not) and $60 for invites/envelopes. We decided to just ask everyone to RSVP on the website (and ask the older people to call if the prefer). We also skipped Save the Dates, and just told people. But so many people are asking multiple times that I’m wondering if that might have been a mis-step.

        The photographer is our big spend so far — $1700. But that does include our engagement pictures too.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got my wedding dress on Amazon :) (though I went nontrad, mine was a blue dress with a peacock pattern.)

          1. Anono-me*

            It’s absolutely beautiful. And it would work for an upcoming function for me . Unfortunately, Amazon is saying horrible things to me about the dress. “Currently Unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock again.”

    3. LizB*

      GORGEOUS dresses! I love those.

      My recent success is that we got the finished design for our save-the-dates from my lettering artist friend, and all four of our parents love the design! Even if they hadn’t we’d still be going for it, but it’s so nice to have them be excited about it. We were all together a few weeks ago (me, FianceB, and both sets of parents) and I asked the parents, is there some aspect of our wedding that you feel really strongly about or something you really hope we include? And they all just went, no, we’re happy with whatever you want. (Well, my dad said “Chocolate fountain!” as a joke.) After a not-necessarily-fabulous childhood, it’s weird and very refreshing to have my parents be 100% on my side and supportive of whatever I want.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Oh that’s so nice!

        We’re having the meeting of the families next weekend and I am dreading it . . . my mom has been super critical of all my choices since I moved out of the parental home. She will be “nice” to everyone to their faces, but I know she’ll find something to give me crap about later. She was really good at being a mom when I was little, but she has majorly struggled to see me as an adult (and I’m 28!).

        She has been getting weirdly fixiated on things like if the bridesmaids will wear pantyhose . . . But she’s not paying for anything, so she doesn’t get to be the boss.

    4. Anono-me*

      If the person you’re marrying wants to wear a suit, purchasing may wind up costing about the same as renting. Plus you don’t have the hassle of the return or damage fees. Also nice suits are usually easy to hit that gold standard of rewearable in.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Ooh, thanks!

        We’ve been talking about this. He was thinking renting would be easier, but after renting for his friends wedding and ending up with an ill fitting shirt, plus the returning early the next day, I think he’s been swayed. We’re planning to have the guys wear navy blue, and find them ties to match the dresses.

        1. Belle*

          We bought ours through Mens Warehouse and it was actually cheaper than renting in the end — and he was able to wear it to multiple functions. But we kept his classic colors – so it would be easy to reuse.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Ok, so I’m saving those because I’m a sucker for lace and at that price, I may get one for me.

      Anyone think it might be ok for office wear with a professional jacket?

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Cool! I would think the traditional hem would be okay for the office, depending on how short it looks on you, and your office norms.

  22. Amy*

    Thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions for foster kitten names last week! I ended up naming them after characters from The Good Place: Chidi, Trevor, Bambadjan, Mindy, and Ellie (Eleanor).

    After not much weight gain or eating in the first few days I switched them to a higher quality kitten food than what the shelter provided and they are OBSESSED with it. They swarm the bowl as soon as I set it down and several have now broken 400 grams! It’s so satisfying to see them fill their tummies. They’re still quite underweight for their age so they’ll be with me a while and it’s going to be so hard to let them go.

    I really, really don’t want to foster fail – my only cat recently passed away at age 18, so technically I could keep one or two, but I’m headed into a very busy period of life for the next two years and I don’t think adding more pets is a great idea. Plus I don’t know if I would continue fostering other litters if I had two cats of my own to look after as well. But at the same time, I’ve had friends inquire about adopting them and I feel a little pang of sadness that it would mean I couldn’t keep them!

    I think the best solution is to try to find them awesome homes where I know they’ll be loved instead of just dropping them back at the shelter to be adopted by strangers. But oh man, I’ve gotten so soft… I’ve fostered hundreds of kittens over the years and I’ve never felt so attached as I do to these guys! It doesn’t help that my preschooler is obsessed with them too.

    1. Disco Janet*

      Gosh darn it, now I want Good Place kittens! We’ve been holding off on getting a pet because our kids are young – I miss having furry friends around the house! I think your plan is a good one.

    2. Venus*

      I have fostered many kittens over the years, and sometimes I get really emotionally attached to some litters. Then again, the last bunch I was really keen to adopt one of them but after a few weeks I realized that it was just a stressful time and I got more attached than usual. Now they have gone to good homes, and I’m happy!

      It’s up to you to decide, but personally I love to foster and force myself to give them up for the same reasons that you mention. Although I have since found a foster-based rescue so I get to meet and approve all the adopters!

    3. AnonyNurse*

      My foster fail is presently kneading my shoulder and chewing on my hair. Which she did on day one, in April 2004. Good luck. :)

  23. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I’m thinking of buying an Apple Watch and can’t quite make up my mind. Anyone have any pros/cons to owning one? Things they wished they knew before they bought one? I’m looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly. :)

    1. FuzzFrogs*

      I’ve owned both an Apple Watch and a Fossil Venture Q (smartwatch for android phones) now.

      I think one of the biggest advantages is that having it actually lets you untether from your phone. With your notifications coming to your watch, it’s so, so much easier to respond to people in a timely fashion, ignore unimportant notifications, and just keep track of what’s coming in without having to check your phone itself every ten minutes. And it’s got a decent range, so it makes unplugging when you’re at home a little easier–just leave the phone in another room and only go get it if something important comes in on your watch. And I have the same process for that place we don’t talk about on this thread.

      I found the fitness capabilities only so-so–it seems like this wildly varies by customer but I never found that it accurately measured how active I was; my current Android smartwatch is much better at this. The heartrate function worked well, but mostly useless for most people; I set it up to notify me when my heartrate went above 110 only to find out it only does that when I’m watching really exciting movies. :P I also found that scratches and dents are pretty inevitable, which is annoying, because the only way Apple Watches can be repaired is to replace the entire thing. It’s much more resistant to breakage than iPhones themselves, but if you’re wanting to keep it pristine without the bulky cases/screen protectors I’d invest in the insurance plan.

      I personally think having a smartwatch is worth it just because it’s allowed me to restructure my life where my phone is less of a disruption to my life.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve had Apple Watches (one at a time, but I’ve upgraded) since the first release day, and had Pebble smart watches for a couple years before that. I like the convenience of being able to curate my notifications while I’m doing other things (messages from some people ping my watch, other people don’t, this email address does and that one doesn’t, etc). I like being able to set timers and alarms while baking without having my phone in the splash zone. I like being able to listen to music while working out without taking my phone with me. I like the options for activity tracking. Basically, I like being able to leave my phone on the table next to my chair and still have access to almost all the information and communication options on it from anywhere in my house.

    3. C Average*

      I bought mine a year ago and gave it to a friend just the other day. It just wasn’t a good fit for me, for the following reasons:

      –I’m eczema-prone and it made my wrists break out something fierce. I tried multiple bands and I tried it in both wrists, and nothing really worked.
      –it seemed like it needed to be updated a lot, and the updates took freaking forever.
      –I found the screen too small to be very useful; most notifications made me reach for my phone, which I always carry anyway, so it became just an annoying extraneous gadget.

      It might be a better option for someone who’s already accustomed to wearing a wristwatch. I haven’t worn one for decades, and this experiment made me realize I don’t really like wearing one.

      1. LGC*

        Random point about breaking out – I’m the same way, and I find it happens more often if I put my watch on too tight. (Or in hot weather. This summer was FUN.)

        So it might not just be you with that!

    4. Courageous cat*

      Ultimately, mine wasn’t useful. If you can use your phone freely throughout the day, and you don’t want it for exercise, then I probably wouldn’t recommend it. I liked the timer feature and being able to see who’s calling me without pulling out my phone, but none of that was worth $200+.

    5. Book Lover*

      I have eczema and haven’t had issues with the watch or band, so sorry someone else has! I love my watch and will get another when it dies. I have had mine for 2.5 years without issues.
      I mostly like it so that I don’t look at my watch for things. It tells me the time :). Mostly it is the message notifications, reminders, so on that are helpful.

    6. Clarissa*

      I love my Apple Watch. I got it because I live alone and it has a button on it that will call 911. I can even wear it in the shower because it’s waterproof.
      Then I discovered more features that I like:
      1. It pings my iPhone in case I lose the iPhone.
      2. It has the weather and forecast for a week.
      3. It gives my heart rate.
      4. It’s a (small) flashlight.
      5. You can get your email and text on it.
      6. It’s a PHONE! I pay my cell carrier more each month. But it’s worth it. I don’t have a landline
      but now I have 2 phones on the same number. If I forget my iPhone I can use the watch as a phone.
      — There are other things too.

    7. Cambridge Comma*

      I thought about it but bought a Fitbit Versa 2 on sale for a fraction of the price, very happy with it.

  24. Grandma Mazur*

    Hoping that this isn’t technically a „work“ topic…

    I can’t remember which new story prompted this but I was reminded this week that I find it amusing when people have surnames relevant to their jobs. My favourite is Frances Crook, CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform. I believe there’s also someone named Tennant at the UK National Residents Association. Anyone got any others?

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        And the company I work work for sells products to schools — I’ve encountered school librarians named Ms. Book and Mr. Read!

    1. Amy*

      I’ve met several veterinarians with very appropriate names: Dr. McVety (seriously) and Dr. Gentle (which is kind of sweet, though she’s a cow vet, which is not an especially gentle side of veterinary medicine).

    2. WellRed*

      A coworker and I do this all the time. A couple off-hand, David Kitchen, real estate, defense atty Arthur Crooks who works on Old JailHouse Lane, a cab driver with the last name Fares. Former press secretary larry speaks.

      1. Shiny Flygon*

        Oh and I had Physical Education teachers at school called Miss Stretch and Miss Twist. FWIW my mum didn’t believe me. Can’t make this stuff up!

    3. LNLN*

      Danielle Outlaw is the chief of police in Portland, Oregon. Whenever I read about her in the local paper I kind of giggle.

    4. Daphne*

      Had a gym teacher with the surname “Float”. Of course she taught the swim lessons.

      A former colleague kept horses – “Saddler”.

      My last name is associated with a profession which I have no interest in, makes me a little sad really!

      1. The Kerosene Kid*

        Had an eye doc by the name of Pier. And for a while, I used to go to a dental clinic that employed a Dr. Hurt!

    5. Red Sky*

      There’s an urologist in Austin who specializes in vasectomies whose name is… Dr Dick Chop. He gives out t-shirts to his patients that say “I was chopped at the Urology Team”

    6. A.N. O'Nyme*

      There’s also a legal practice specialising in divorce consisting of three lawyers. Their names? “Ditcher, Quick & Hyde”

      1. MOAS*

        OK i had to google it, it’s Marion Nestle, Author of Food Politics and Professor of Food studies at NYU. If I were to see that name in any other context, I’d pronounce it “nessel.” But… nestle + food = chocolate.

    7. MOAS*

      Not sure if this counts but a few years ago, when I had a TV< I would see weight loss ads for certain medicines with "doctors" endorsing them. One "doctor" was Dr. Synamoun….. to me, synamoun was a fancy way of spelling/saying CINNAMON. just thot that was an interesting ocnnection

      1. Related to devine*

        I am related to Father Devine. I always thought that side of the family should have named a child Grace. Roll call would have been good.

      1. Boots from CA*

        I kid you not, my OB-GYN for my first childbirth experience was Dr. Payne
        A few years later, I had Laser eye surgery to improve my vision by Dr. Byrne.
        Both were excellent

  25. Amy*

    So here’s a question about parenting, specifically girls. I have a three-year-old daughter who is obsessed with face painting. If there’s any event where a face painter is present she begs and pleads to get it done. She will wait in line for as long as we will tolerate standing with her (which is some cases has been up to an hour). At home and at preschool, one of her favorite games is “face painter” where she pretends to paint the faces of anyone who is willing to sit still for her.

    I’ve always been happy to let her get her face painted, and I recently ordered a professional grade face painting palette online so I can do some face paint for her for Halloween, and just for fun (I’m not a professional, obviously, but I have some artistic skill and her standards are not very high). However, I’m kind of second guessing how much we should be leaning into this… particularly as it relates to her self esteem being tied up in physical appearance.

    I think she likes having her face painted because of the transformation, and once it’s done she will spend a long time just staring at herself in the mirror taking it in. But I think she also likes the attention and compliments. I try to tell her she looks “cool” or “fancy” instead of “beautiful” or “pretty” but of course, she hears all kind of things. I just don’t want her to feel like she has to change herself to be considered beautiful or get attention, or that the way she looks is more important than who she is as a person. A complicating factor is that she sees me put on my makeup every morning (nothing elaborate, just undereye concealer, mascara, and a little lipstick).

    What say you? Is it a harmless fun thing I should chill out about, or should I be doing something different?

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      I think this is probably a phase and you won’t create a mindset if you honor or humor it. She might be wired to enjoy the change in her appearance and the compliments and attention. But either way it seems a shame to limit something small that brings her so much joy. You can balance it out in other areas of her life. You could also take the focus completely off how she looks and notice the art. “ I see you chose a butterfly this time. What made you choose that one?” “I see you waiting very patiently for your turn.” You could also ask her how the art makes her feel.You might find out she feels like a butterfly, which would be awesome.

    2. Pony tailed wonder*

      Maybe you can use this to do small jumps into learning about the creatures that she wants to be? If she is a tiger one day, perhaps you can go to the library to find a book about tigers, etc.

    3. Not A Manager*

      This is both harmless fun and serious, important work that she’s doing. At age three, kids really are figuring out self-identity. The staring into the mirror probably isn’t vanity as much as it is a delight in the idea of transformation. I don’t think you need to indulge her every face-painting whim, but I wouldn’t worry at all about her gender expectations or sense of self-worth.

      You don’t say what she paints her face as – does she insist on being a Disney princess every time, or is she willing to be an animal or to get abstract designs on her face? I wouldn’t worry either way, just curious.

      One thing you might consider is some other outlet for exploring “who people are” like the Richard Scarry “what do people do all day” book, or some of the Mr. Rogers episodes about people in his neighborhood, or some age-appropriate bios about trailblazing women. What about a costume box? In my house that consisted of a bunch of hats and accessories.

    4. sequined histories*

      This sounds harmless to me, and also it sounds like it’s a natural part of who she is.
      Embracing a child’s natural inclinations when they seem in some way to conform to traditional gender role expectations is very different from imposing traditional gender role expectations on a resistant child.
      There’s nothing wrong with enjoying make-up!

    5. Courageous cat*

      I bet if you wrote this into Care and Feeding they would say: She’s 3. Let her have fun doing what she wants. She will move on from this, so relax.

    6. Disco Janet*

      What kind of face painting does she usually choose? If it’s makeup style, I could see your concern a bit more – but if, for example, she likes getting her face painted like a tiger, or something like that, it just seems like an enhanced version of pretend play.

    7. Anonymato*

      Oh, I hear how you worry about this, and my heart goes out to you. I would take it easy – it sounds like a phase & perhaps she is trying to copy you a bit. From what I’ve seen: If she senses your slightest discomfort, she’ll keep pushing the button and keep doing that…

      I would just tell her each time you wash that off the paint that it was fun, really fun, but I am so glad to have her own face back, I love that one the most.

      I would also paint masks with her to drive the point of pretending to be somebody else (vs sort of being somebody else). And I might do puppets with her if you worry about her judging by appearance, and have the ugly/uncool/scary puppets be the nice/good guys. I think you could use some phone apps if you choose so at this age to see how people can pretend to be somebody else and how it’s not real — and again, make the point of loving her own face.

    8. Ann O.*

      I would say let it be a harmless fun thing. A love for facepaint is very age typical and is more likely to lead her down the path of gothness or equivalent high aesthetic subculture. Or possibly to become a makeup artist or other kind of artist.

      It seems from her play that she is as interested in the artistry as the compliments, so it may be fun for her (and you if you’re into this sort of thing) to get some stencils so she can actually play face painter. With stencils she can do simple face paint on you and still have it turn out nice.

    9. You can call me Al*

      Had a kid like this, and they are about to graduate with a degree in theater. Still loves to transform and role play!

    10. Anon Librarian*

      I think that face paint is different from makeup! And that there is a difference between makeup for creative expression and applying makeup to feel less insecure.

      This sounds more artistic, since it’s face paint. As you probably know, face painting is a whole art form and there are a number of career paths people can follow within that genre if they choose to.

      I’m just a stranger on the internet, but this sounds like an artistic interest to me. It sounds fun, and like something that could lead to other positive things if encouraged.

      Does she want to paint? Does she want to paint faces? Could you get her some face paint to play with? Watch videos or read books about face painting with her (like something on how to make the designs she likes using simple shapes and colors)? It could easily segue to other artistic interests and skills. I think it’s cool.

    11. not today.*

      That sounds like my daughter, when she was 3. She loved all the facepainting/costumes/transformational things – she really explored that hard. As a teenager, I’d say she has a lot of ability to see things from all sorts of points of view. Her transformational play/ role play allowed her to explore all the characters, all the motivations, etc. It helped develop empathy. She still loves make-up, but not in the conventional “pretty” way – she does awesome spiderweb eyeshadow.

      tl;dr ; it’s normal, and has good sides.

    12. Meepmeep*

      My three year old daughter is like that. I treat it like any other interest. There’s nothing that precludes a girl from liking makeup AND liking science, or sports, or whatever else she decides to like. I give her plenty of exposure to lots of different interests and ideas and activities, and don’t discourage the appearance-based interests.

      I’m a lesbian mom, neither of us is all that girly, and we ended up with a very stereotypically girly daughter whose favorite color is pink. I never wear makeup myself. Our daughter loves to pretend to put on makeup. Children are who they are, and all we can do as parents is give them the confidence to be happy about who they are.

    13. LilySparrow*

      Chill out. This is a game, and is more about playing with identity like playing dress-up. Not about self-worth in the way you mean it.

      I have two daughters, and had to learn to police myself from weight/diet talk and negative self-talk. I talked about putting on makeup that it’s a way of dressing up that’s appropriate for certain events, just like we have dressy shoes and play shoes.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Oh, and the way to make sure she doesn’t feel like she needs makeup to get positive attention isn’t to squash her joy in facepainting.

        It’s to give her lots of positive attention in many different contexts, like when she is kind or figures out how to do something by herself, or jumps really high, or is funny, etc.

        Self esteem isn’t either-or. It’s additive.

    14. Ermintrude*

      Super harmless and lovely Just make sure you aren’t the parent who doesn’t let their child have a particular type of facepaint because it for example isn’t girly. I’m sure you aren’t but some people are so it seemed a valid point to be aware of She sounds lovely!

    15. Not enough coffee*

      What do you paint? A rainbow or a full on cat mask?

      Do you think it could be the fun of pretending to be something else? If so, lean way in and fill up a dress up closet. I have 3 girls and while they are lukewarm on face paint (oldest likes it because she likes unicorns and rainbows, middle likes the idea but then hates actually having the paint on, youngest hates it), they are bananas for dress up. The more in character the better. Masks, hairdos, the works.

      Try spinning it as “instead of just making your face look like a cat, what if you **were** a cat?”

      FWIW my middle one is 4 and will spend a good 15 minutes pretending to put on makeup/paint her face/do her nails. She uses invisible makeup. (FWIW she also has imaginary glasses and occasionally swaps them for imaginary contacts but sometimes she can’t find her imaginary contact case or saline so…). You could give that a try too. Imagination is amazing at this age!

    16. Patty Mayonnaise*

      If my kid were really interested in face painting, I would highlight the creative and artistic aspects. I bet she would LOVE those videos of people getting their makeup done with prosethics/etc!

  26. FuzzFrogs*

    Finally got some time to sew yesterday and it was…so, so nice. I’m sewing the Mary Quant Georgie dress pattern from the Victoria and Albert museum (look it up cause it’s free!) and I just finished getting the neck ruffle and lining on and understitched, and I’m so pleased with how it looks. Doubly pleasing because we had an independent fabric store open recently in town and the fabric is a lovely grey cotton chambray that I got from there. There’s something so soothing about finally getting a glimpse of what the make will look like finished and realizing it WILL be as snazzy as you saw it inside your head. It’s going to be soft and subtle and luxe and I will wear it every week and be happy.

    Anyone else got anything they’re making this weekend? I’m also in a no-carve pumpkin decorating contest this week, I could use ideas.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      I recently got back to sewing! It’s been years. I used my SIL’s wedding dress to make a christening gown for her newest grandchild. It was so good to get back to it… I worked all day without a break. I really need to make time to sew more often. It is so relaxing!

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I knit a hat that looks like a pumpkin topped with leaves. It came out well.
      Sewing never worked out for me, but I’m glad you are doing well with it and that sewing is still something people do! Sew on!

    3. CastIrony*

      My sister has won one or two pumpkin contests in grad school by decopauging (sp?) galaxy pictures from the Internet, and then decorating the top with fake flowers from Dollar Tree. I wish I could upload a picture!

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Finished altering a ballgown for a friend, and now mending a kilt and making a tentative foray into French darning a tiny frayed spot in the kilt.

    5. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I just downloaded the dress pattern for Georgie, and the minidress pattern (and instructions) So pretty!! Thanks for the info. And yes, being able to visualize the fabric and the pattern in the best combo is a gift!

      1. FuzzFrogs*

        Just a head’s up–the pattern is meant to be assembled, essentially, as one giant poster, and then the pieces cut out. I’d only used digital patterns that are meant to be assembled piece by piece before so I didn’t realize until I had a series of small bits that I then had to puzzle piece into my pattern pieces. Probably much easier to do it the way they intended. :P

        I’ve got an Alice in Wonderland-inspired teapots fabric set aside for the minidress; I’m very excited to tackle those pockets.

    6. Too personally identifiable*

      I am doing some handsewing. A friend’s Lab chewed her comforter. I’ve cut off the shreds and I’m turning it into a smaller version for my kid. I’m halfway through the new seam. Then it’s a little repair of a small hole, and my daughter’s going to try a little embroidery to hide it. I think the shredded edge can be turned into dog beds for the local animal shelter, but for that part I’m going to use a sewing machine!

    7. LilySparrow*

      Younger daughter wanted to be Felicity from American Girls. I’m not replicating the doll exactly, but I self-drafted an 18th c chemise, petticoat, and simplified open gown. Got the sleeves & skirt onto the gown yesterday, so now it’s just the stomacher & some finishing.

      Older daughter is a Ravenclaw, so the fabric for her Hogwarts robe & lining is in the wash.

      If I get Hogwarts done with time to spare, I’ll make Felicity a set of wearable pockets so she doesn’t have to carry a candy bag.

  27. Fikly*

    I had an amazing doctor appointment yesterday, and it was just such a relief.

    I have a number of chronic health conditions, many of them rare and complicated, and complex. Seeing a brand new doctor is always such a gamble. Are they good? Will they listen? Will they invalidate me? Will I have to wait another three months and try someone else?

    I saw a new allergist. She spent TWO hours with me. She listened to everything, knew about the super rare things I have. Agreed with me when I said, I suspect I may have x condition that is comorbid with two other conditions I have, but is incredibly difficult to diagnosis (expensive, has to be tested for at the exact right moment, and even then testing positive is a crap shoot) and that I felt the right thing to do was treat, not seek testing.

    She said the magic words of “I don’t know enough about this specific condition to feel comfortable treating you, let me refer you.” She explained why she wanted to order certain tests. She did some basic testing in office, then came back and said my results were all good, but that she understood that my specific subtype of my condition means that I will often get results that look good when I’m not doing well. Do you have any idea of how many doctors have told me I’m fine based on these results despite me telling them otherwise???

    I feel like I won the doctor lottery.

    1. Bob*


      I’ve been thinking I should go get a checkup as I’ve had a bit of a weird year healthwise, but honestly – the fact that none of the doctors in the practice I’ve been to seem to take anything I say seriously means I just keep putting it off.

      1. Fikly*

        Doctor invalidation is SUCH a huge problem. More for women, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to men too. It’s exhausting to have to keep trying.

        And finding a new practice is so much work. I moved in July, and I see a million specialists, and I’m still replacing all of them.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      YAY! You DID win the doctor lottery.
      Too many of us have had the “you’re fine”/shrug experience when something was definitely wrong. I wish we could all find the right doctor and diagnosis!

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      I am so happy for you! It’s so frustrating when your labs are normal but you just know something is wrong. And then people start to think you are overly invested in having something wrong with you. No, it’s just that you feel so terrible, you want to know what’s wrong with you so you can try to fix it. I spent 13 years being blown off by rheumatologists, and then I FINALLY managed to get an appointment right when I felt my absolute worst. My anti-SSA and anti-SSB antibodies were extremely high; the rheumatologist himself called me to tell me (I think he felt bad because he didn’t think anything was wrong with me for the first three years I was seeing him). Part of the problem is that every time I had a bad flare, I couldn’t get an appt. for a month or six weeks, so by the time I got to the doctor and had tests done, the flare was over.

    4. Jules the First*

      I love my GP so much that for years her practice’s catchment area defined the boundaries of my house hunt. Thankfully they’ve now changed the rules and I can stay with her no matter what, but it made moving house incredibly stressful. She knows me so well by now that she can practically see the future – I got a lecture from her at the end of August about playing with fire in the carefree way I was managing my autoimmune condition and that if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up not in remission…and here we are in October, no longer in remission, having ignored her warning. The funny part is that I panicked and called her when I started getting sick and freaked out over the phone and she laughed and gently reminded me that this is just what my life is like when I’m not in remission, and isn’t it worth it to do all the hard work to stay in remission?

  28. Queer Earthling*

    Vampire hunting kit update–I’m about halfway through. Most things are aged really well (the stakes look amazing), so we need to fill and seal the bottles of holy water, finish aging the elaborate cross, and then fit straps into the case so we can put things in securely. Might age the case a little more, too, but might leave it.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        When it’s done I’m going to! I’d hoped to have it done this weekend to share, but life got in the way. Hopefully no vampires will need to be dispatched in the meantime!

  29. Fikly*

    Second question, pardon for hogging the open thread.

    I use KT tape to stabilize my joints and as a big part of my pain management strategy. Braces are not an adequate substitute, unfortunately. I wear the KT tape 24/7, not just while doing an activity.

    I’m beginning to develop some hives/skin reaction to it. This is really bumming me out. Any suggestions for off brand alternatives, or something I could put down in between my skin and the KT tape as a barrier (but wouldn’t make it not stick)?

    1. Veruca*

      Have you tried Signa Spray? It’s a barrier spray and I find it actually helps the tape stick better while lessening the irritation.

    2. Jules the First*

      The KT tape is unlikely to work with a barrier (and I say this as someone who feels your pain in a very literal sense!).

      However, as long as latex is not a problem, get yourself a couple of rolls of VetRap – you’ll use more of it, but it is adhesive-free and, in my experience, every bit as supportive as KT tape. (And yes, it is intended for animals but humans are animals, and almost every vet I know uses it on themselves as well). You won’t be able to tape it in exactly the same pattern as the KT tape, but it should at least give you options for giving your skin a break from the adhesive. If you have latex issues, 3M does make a latex-free version as well, but it’s noticeably more expensive and harder to source.

      1. Fikly*

        Interesting! I’ll ask my PT if she’s familiar with using it, as she’s the one who tapes me. I got nothing against using something used on animals!

        So far I don’t think I’m reacting to latex, but I did just start reacting to a bandaid (not sure what brand, got it at a doctor’s office) the other day, so this is clearly getting worse.

  30. WellRed*

    Since everyone was so helpful with my iPhone questions about data. My phone has no volume if I am playing a video unless I use headphones. I don’t see anything for speakers under settings, just for ringtones and alerts.

    1. fposte*

      If you swipe up from the bottom, do you get a control screen? There should be a vertical volume bar on the right side. Can you increase the volume there?

    2. Mimosa Jones*

      The phone can differentiate between Bluetooth devices, something plugged-in like headphones, and the built-in speakers and will remember the last volume setting for each type.

    3. Clarissa*

      You can call Apple help at 1(800)MYIPHONE for free. I’ve called them many times and they will do everything possible to help you.

  31. Rebecca*

    I received third party validation that my mother is truly difficult, and it’s not just me being impatient.

    Backstory – 2 months ago, I arranged for a visit to another personal care home, because mom wasn’t happy where she was. I had heard nothing but complaints, so one of her friends knew the person who was in charge at the other home, gave me the phone#, I arranged the visit, and took time off from work to take mom to visit and see if she would like it. While we were there, mom was her typical “nothing suits Her Royal Highness” self, but all in all, I didn’t think she was too bad, until a few days ago.

    Friend who referred mom needs to have surgery, and her husband isn’t able to be alone, they have no children, so she and her husband went to the PCH to sign paperwork, etc. for a 1-2 month stay for both of them while she recovers. Mom’s friend called me after the visit. While they were filling out papers, friend mentioned to PCH person that she had given her friend “Jane”‘s daughter the phone# and that we had come for a visit, and oh my. She said the woman’s face just changed, and she said “oh, my, I feel so sorry for her daughter Rebecca”. She went on to say that she thought I had my hands full, and mom seemed a bit challenging, and finally said that I was really patient. Mom’s friend asked me, what did she do?? I said, well, nothing really, and I thought she was on better behavior than normal!

    At least I know other people have the same impression I do, it’s sort of validating. Still frustrating, but validating. And, the fact that she remembered my name, two months later, and that Mom’s behavior stood out, is in and of itself telling.

    I haven’t made any progress finding someone to pay to take mom to town for groceries or to the bank during the week. She’s complaining about riding the senior transportation van – the driver plays rock music (I need to suggest she wear pearls so she can clutch them), they take too long, she has to ride for an hour and she has to pee a lot, she fell asleep and didn’t hear the driver outside, so they called her on the phone, but didn’t give her enough time to get to the door, etc etc. I talked to a few people, explained the situation, told them where we live, and then nothing…they don’t even show up to discuss payment or anything. They would be driving Mom’s car, using her gas, and getting cash. I suspect they figure out who she is and don’t want to deal with her. Unfortunately, she’s been standoffish and grumpy for years, so I think her reputation proceeds her. She can’t understand why people aren’t just willing to take off during the day for several hours and chauffeur her around, and I said there aren’t a lot of dependable and trustworthy people just sitting around waiting to be asked to do these things – they have their own stuff to do, or they’re working. We have a small local cab company, and I’m not sure about Uber, so those are still options for me to explore.

    In happier news, we finally had a frost last night, so I’m hoping that lawn mowing is done for the year. Laundry is done, hanging on the line, I ate lunch, and I’m going for a walk. I was going to hike on an old forest road nearby but remembered that it’s archery season now, so I’ll wait until tomorrow as to not disturb any hunters. I’m really liking Walmart’s grocery pickup option, it saves time, I don’t have to go into the store, they load the groceries into my car for me, and I drive away. It takes a few minutes! Weekend time is precious to me, and the less time I need to spend doing mundane things, the better. I scheduled pickup for 6 PM, it’s getting dark by then, still gives me plenty of time to get everything put away before football, win win!

    1. Disco Janet*

      You might have heard this before (I don’t always get around to checking the weeks threads), but does Shipt work in her area? We use them to get our groceries delivered sometimes.

      1. Rebecca*

        I’ve never heard of Shipt, but I checked, and apparently Weis Markets might be an option. Just a caveat, if it costs anything extra, she won’t pay, even though she can afford to. She is very entitled and feels like everything should be done just for her, at no cost, because, well, she’s special. It’s exhausting.

        Just today, I told her I was ordering stuff from Walmart to pick up. She had been working on a list for days. I placed the order. 2 hours ago, right before I left for my walk, she said, oh, I guess I should have ordered [4 more things]. Told her, either wait until next week or pay what Weis wants, because I’m not going into Walmart on a Saturday evening! I still need to go into Weis, as HRH wants 2 things from there, but it should only take a few minutes.

        I do appreciate this!

    2. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending hug. Interesting, how your mom obviously left quite an impression!
      Validated. You are patient, and a good daughter. Enjoy the day and the hike!

      1. Rebecca*

        And the impression wasn’t good, which concerns me, as in if she does need to go to a PCH, and spaces are limited, they will take someone else over her because they know how “difficult” and impossible to please she is.

    3. Observer*

      That is validating indeed.

      I also think you are very wise to do whatever you can to save yourself time and work. I hope you find some good options for the driving.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I need to suggest she wear pearls so she can clutch them

      I’m so sorry but I laughed out loud at this! Hang in there, Rebecca. *HUG*

      1. Rebecca*

        I had a hard time keeping a straight face!! “The driver played that awful rock music, and it was too loud. I covered my ear as best I could, but it was terrible. They should be told about that. They shouldn’t play that terrible music with people in the van.” I’m thinking, they probably do that to drown out the complaining old person carrying on about every little thing just to keep their sanity.

    5. Suggestion?*

      Hi, Rebecca! I’ve been following your posts for a while now and have always been impressed by how firmly you took control of your life’s changes. Even when things were so tough.

      I think about that sometimes and think, if Rebecca could handle X, I can handle Y.

      I had a thought one day about your mother’s situation and wanted to suggest it next open thread.

      Obviously I don’t know all the details and you’re the one on the ground dealing with her but is it possible that she never makes decisions about her future bc she simply can’t make higher level decisions anymore?

      The kind referred to as executive function.

      Like she can do the Consumer Reports research but not make the final decision? She could count out money to pay a lunch bill but couldn’t balance a checkbook?

      So she could want something and be coherent enough to argue with you about it but not be able to make the actual decision.

      If you’ve already thought of that, never mind and enjoy the football!!

      1. Rebecca*

        Thank you, this is pretty much it. She simply cannot make decisions, but it’s not a recent thing, it’s been going on for over 30 years. The bathroom next to my bedroom upstairs is gutted to the studs (I have a working toilet and sink) but nothing else. The tub is sitting on its side in the hallway, and has been for about 20 years now. Reason? She wanted to update the bathroom, insisted that Dad tear everything out (I added the sink and vanity myself), and she was going to decide what she wanted to do. She couldn’t decide. Ditto carpet in the family room, same as since the 1970’s, couldn’t decide. And when decisions are made outside of her jurisdiction, like when I went with Dad to just buy another TV for the family room (she was dithering for 6 months over the brand, features, etc. and Dad was tired of not having a TV to watch), she was seriously angry for days that we had the audacity to just buy something without her input. So, she can’t decide what to do, if others take the bull by the horns and do what needs to be done, she’s angry about that too.

        And you make a good point about the arguing – yes, she can argue. That’s what she does best – argue, cast blame, everything is always the result of what others have done, never what she has failed to do or has done, and her default position is to be nasty, argumentative, and just plain difficult. False apologies (I’m sorry I’m such a bother!!) and “I’m sorry you think that way”. Guilt trips and fake apologies, all manipulations, not apologies. I deal with this by not really listening. I’m there in case of a physical problem, like she’s actually sick or she falls and hurts herself, and I do the laundry, get groceries, etc. but there’s no emotional attachment past there’s an elderly human who is struggling.

    6. Pony tailed wonder*

      I can commiserate with you. My father has been banned from several area stores and restaurants. He is in his 80’s and the possibility of him changing is long past.

  32. CatCat*

    I would love to hear stories of success with getting kitties to get along especially when one has been hostile!

    We adopted an older kitten (she’s 7 months right now) and then a few weeks later, a younger kitten (3.5 months) and they are well matched in terms of energy level, but the older one is being very unfriendly! It’s been a little over two weeks and the big one is feeling really hostile/territorial about the little one. We are successfully eating a few feet apart with a baby gate in between, but we aren’t anywhere near being able to be in a room together unsupervised.

    Playing apart in the same room is a challenge (like my spouse play with one and I play with the other) because the younger one gets distracted really easily. She clearly really wants to play with the older one and will gear up for a pounce, but the older one is Not Having That. So we’ve got the little one playfully try and stalking the big one and the big one hostilely stalking the little one. So it is definitely taking a lot of time and effort to integrate. Definitely not what we thought would happen since we thought being so young, they would get along, and I feel defeated at times.

    So any tales of successful cat integration stories where one was initially hostile, and how long it took (even if a really long time) would be most welcome and encouraging!!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Honestly, two weeks is nothing! Don’t feel defeated!

      We went through something similar with Eve and Wallace (although Wallace was just plain afraid of her) and it took months. They have just now really become friends and it’s been 11 months (but we started to see real progress after about 5-6 months). Our cat Lucy used to take 3-4 months to stop despising any new cat, and then she’d be fine. Some cats adjust really quickly and others just take time. Your older one sounds like she’s just in that latter group. I’d say mentally decide it’ll take a few months, and then you won’t be as anxious about why it hasn’t happened yet.

      What’s good is that the little one isn’t feeling cowed or scared of the older one — I think that’s a point in your favor! (When Eve had calmed down and was ready to be friends, at that point Wallace was so weirded out by her that it took longer for them to become friends than it would have otherwise.)

      1. CatCat*

        We are trying really hard for the little one not to be fearful because she was pretty skittish at first even around us and she’s really been blossoming, becoming really bold and confident.

        We’ve had a couple Incidents in the past few days where the big one has angrily charged the little one and while the little one ran away in the moment, she was pretty much unphased after the moment passed.

        Spouse and I will have a conversation about how we need to re-set our expectations on timeline and make a plan for it possibly taking months. The little one has been occupying our second bedroom, but we need it for guests soon in Oct, Nov, and Dec so maybe she needs to move into our master suite (feeling guilty about that since the big one currently sleeps in our bed! She’s really wonderful with us, just not yet with the little one).

        Glad to hear successful integration can happen. The guidance from the shelter had a timeline of a few weeks, but I get that that’s just generic so I’m heartened that it’s not wrong or doomed to failure if it doesn’t happen in that time frame.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          One other thing — are you absolutely positive the older cat isn’t playing, just a bit too aggressively? When we first adopted Eve, we were concerned about Olive being aggressive with her — but Olive really just wanted to play with her and we were misreading it as hostility. It could also just be territoriality (not play) but if that’s the case, she’ll likely chill out once she has more time to get used to the new one (and especially to the new smell — which, again, I think can take a few months for some of them).

          [I think if I ever stop doing AAM, I will instead need to have a blog about integrating cats. I know firsthand the anxiety you’re probably feeling right now — every time we’ve added a new cat, I’ve had moments of “crap, was this a huge mistake for the other cat(s)?” — but it has always ended up working out.]

          1. CatCat*

            I think it’s hostility and not play, but I’m not sure I guess since I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like. The internet tells me hissing and growling is “normal,” but not if it’s normal with play.

            The little one doesn’t hiss or growl or otherwise seem prickly when she’s gone into “stalk/pounce mode,” but rather does an intense stare and butt wiggle.

            The big one growls and hisses, and when she has charged she makes like a “rrreeeeOOWWWWW!” noise that sounds angry and I’ve heard cats make when they fight. Her fur doesn’t get bristly/puffed out, but she just “sounds angry.” Not sure if I’m improperly anthropomorphizing there though.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Hissing and growling while playing is normal for some cats at this stage. It took Olive months to stop doing that while playing with Wallace and Sophie (our most recent additions), even though she liked them and was enjoying them. So those two things wouldn’t worry me.

              The angry meow sound you described does seem more like legit hostility to me. I would take that as more of an indicator that she’s not happy about the interaction. Are you breaking them up when it happens? If so, there might be value in letting them work it out (within reason). But also, I think you might just have to wait this period out and it will get better. (Lucy made that angry meow noise for several months when any new cat got too close, and then after 3-4 months she would always adjust and be fine.)

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                As additional data: My sister has two cats who she adopted when they were kittens — litter-mates, in fact. And they just didn’t like each other that much. The cats on their own divided up the house so they each had their own territory, and peacefully coexisted that way for years. Now, many years later, they’ve started snuggling together. So cats are weird!

                And there are some cat pairings that just never quite resolve themselves, but I think those are very much the exception to the rule. It’s much more common for it to just take some time (which can be months, not weeks). During that time, it’s completely normal for their humans to start worrying it’ll never resolve (I have panicked at some point during every cat integration) — but most of the time it does end up being okay.

                1. Pam*

                  We have two male dog siblings- Jack Russel Terriers. They get along fine, untim they don’t, and can ring up some pretty expensive vet bills. They now have to be kept separated.

              2. CatCat*

                Oh yes, we absolutely put a stop to it when it happens. The big one chills out pretty quickly after we pick the little one up. She outweighs the little one by a lot so we’re quick to intervene and have not had any full on fighting though the little one got smacked once.

                The little one puts her paws under the door of the room she’s in and we’re allowing that though it irritates the big one (or seems to, again growling and hissing, charging the paws though without the “angry rrreeeeowww!”) when she notices. Seemed like a low stakes way to intoduce some contact.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yeah, I think your older cat is just one who will need more time. I wouldn’t start worrying until it’s been a few months, and then only if you haven’t seen any progress at all.

                  I also wouldn’t worry about the little one getting smacked — that’s how she’ll learn the older one’s boundaries and even mother cats will do that to teach their kittens. (I agree on intervening with full-on fighting though.)

                2. Venus*

                  I realize that your cat’s smack is probably a more confrontational one, but my funny story on this one:
                  My cat enjoys playing with the foster kittens. She sits higher up, and swishes her tail so that they run over and try to catch it. At which point she smacks them upside the head not too gently. I worried about it, but the kittens kept trying to catch the tail, and weren’t at all bothered by the head smacks. She does it with different foster kittens, and they all enjoy it, and I don’t understand why the game is so fun, yet they clearly love it as they can play it until too tired. Kittens surprise me with their resilience.

                  Hopefully things improve soon! Play time together might be your best bet. If the younger kitten is easily distracted then you might try different toys?

                3. 1LFTW*

                  You’d have to be really, really quick about this, but could you feed/treat the bigger kitty before she starts hissing and growling? If you could set up positive associations, like Little Kitty = Treats, that might help.

            2. Old Biddy*

              My older cat Lucy was 2 years old when I got the younger one (Molly). I knew Lucy was a social, playful cat that got along well with others, so I assumed the transition would be easy. Lucy would follow Molly around and do a weird pseudo growl (literally just ‘grrrrrrrrrr’) but her body language did not show that she was mad (ears were in their normal position, no raised fur on tail or back, body position was normal. She never threatened Molly and I was able to let Molly have free reign of the house after one day. Sometimes she would do an exasperated sigh that sounded like a person. Molly is a goofball Maine Coon mix and didn’t seem phased by all this, and Lucy seemed happy overall. When Molly was six months they became best buddies and started play wrestling. I’m not really sure what happened, but I think Lucy just didn’t know how to play with kittens and was more comfortable once Molly was a teenager.
              Lucy is a tortie so that probably added an extra layer of strangeness.

              1. Lison*

                Oh this makes sense, I have experience with both cats and dogs (more with dogs) but with young ones there is a thing about vengeance somehow arriving if they interact with babies, like Mom is going to arrive and kick their ass for being a threat to the baby. Once they are older not so much, they are interacting one on one and get to know each other. Baby just wants to be friends but older one worries, unless they already know it will be okay from previous experience.

          2. C Average*

            Can I slightly hijack this thread with a cat question of my own?

            I have a ten-year-old female indoor cat, Mitzy, who was declawed by her previous owner. My partner has a four-year-old male indoor/outdoor cat, Theo. Both are fixed.

            Mitzy HATES Theo. When I moved in more than a year ago, she would ambush him when he came in the cat door, place herself between him and his food bowl, attack him when he tried to get up on our bed (they both like to sleep with us), etc. He never struck back; he just gave her a wide berth.

            She started peeing on the bed and the couch and other places he likes to go, so we’ve sequestered her in the basement with a gate. She’s relatively content there. It’s big, and I do my writing and sewing down there, so she gets plenty of time with me.

            When we were trying to integrate them, she had her food and water and litter box far from his food and water–like on a separate floor. He never ventured into her area.

            We tried Rescue Remedy and calming collars and CBD and even Prozac. She still lost her mind anytime he even entered the same room as her. Even now, if she sees him pass the basement window while he’s outside, she runs to the window and hisses and yowls at him.

            The status quo works okay, but is there anything else we should have tried in our efforts to integrate them? Or is my cat just a hard case?

            1. 1LFTW*

              I’ve heard of this with declawed cats. They don’t have their first line of defense, and they know it, so they act with more aggression than they otherwise might.

              Have you tried Feliway diffusers? I’ve had brilliant results with it (though occasionally I’ve heard of it actually increasing aggression, so be aware that’s a risk). In my experience, which includes incredibly terrified shelter cats, it can really calm everything down. It also comes in a spray, that I use on bedding, etc., which has really helped with moves, new cat integrations, and vet visits.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, try Feliway! Works great for some cats. But yeah, you may just have a hard case, especially since she’s a bit older and may be very used to being a single cat. Even so, I wouldn’t be surprised if she mellows in a year or two.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      It took close to year after moving in with my boyfriend for my 2 cats and his 1 cat to really settle down. They were 3, 2, and 1 year olds all fixed females, but there were definitely some LOUD fights the first few months (usually right after we went to bed). I think around the 6 month mark they settled down to just hissing and leaving the room when they encountered each other. They’re still not the greatest friends, but after the 1 year mark they could all be in the same room at the same time.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Have you tried rubbing them both with a towel with (a) the other cat’s scent or (b) your scent? Or brush them both with the same brush, which also carries scent?
      My two still aren’t great friends after several years, but they both love being brushed.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have an 11 yo female and am fostering a 13 yo male. Male was fully separated (closed door) for 2.5 weeks, then I allowed visual contact from a distance with me supervising for a week before I was convinced that no one was going to get murdered. And that was freakishly fast. We’re 3 months in and while they coexist, they don’t interact.

      and honestly – at 7 months and 3.5 months, that’s a MASSIVE age difference for them. It’s like a teenager and a young elementary schooler. So as the young one grows up, that will help because it won’t be the little kid annoying the cooler older kid.

  33. Call me G*

    I’m writing the second draft of my (nonfiction) book and I realize I need to be realistic about the need for it. I’m not a celebrity… is there any chance of being published? I don’t know. I wonder if it’s a waste of time. I looked into ghost writing, and to be attached to an agency you have to have an extensive resume already. I’m trying to think of any scenario where finishing this book provides any value in the slightest and I honestly don’t know. Even as just a “writing sample” it’s be too long!

    1. Fikly*

      What kind of nonfiction?

      Also, there are a lot of niche publishers out there. I’d look at one that is specifically focused on the genre/area you’re writing in, rather than one of the big ones.

      Also, as an aside, is your goal to be published, or is your goal to write the book? Those are two separate goals, and either can be worthy.

      1. Call me G*

        Well I feel like I did write it because I did write a first draft. Now I’m thinking ok — if I focus on the *publish* goal, is there literally any avenue I can take to do that? Do I literally have to just take my clothes off on Instagram and get x amount of followers before I can publish a book?

        It’s in the self-help genre, organizing your life.

          1. Call me G*

            Yes — maybe 50-60. The feedback I got was that the content doesn’t matter, only that I have a following.

            One exception from an agent was that my work was too close to a client they already have. Most of the rejections were non-responses or were generic rejection letters, so they didn’t say why.

            My plan was to finish the whole book first (instead of a proposal with a few finished chapters as I’d been advised), but if content really doesn’t matter then it looks like I should focus my efforts on getting famous instead.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Reputable agents are telling you the content doesn’t matter? Or some agents mentioned that you’d need to have a following (a platform) to sell this specific type of book? The former doesn’t sound right at all, but the latter could make sense. Platform does matter a lot with certain types of nonfiction.

              I’m pretty sure “focusing my efforts on getting famous” isn’t a thing that works most of the time unless you’re willing to take on a lifestyle that most people really wouldn’t want (and still leaves you with slim odds), so I would not advise that route!

              1. Call me G*

                They didn’t *explicitly* say content doesn’t matter, but rather no one really mentioned it. This is one actual letter I got, with the name of the book redacted:

                Good to hear from you and thank you for your interest in our agency. I was very interested in reading about [your book], and appreciate you sending it on to me.

                To get the not fun news out of the way, I’ve unfortunately decided to step aside on representation. My primary reason relates to your platform. Publishers expect authors to have well-developed platforms prior to seeking publication so that they have a built in audience when the book comes out. If a publisher doesn’t believe that the author can sell many thousands of copies on their own, they are averse to taking a project on. This is particularly true of the major NY publishers, whom we pitch to. While I can tell you are doing good work in developing your platform, it still feels a bit early to me to approach NY publishers. I sense I would struggle to find your book a home and for that reason, I’ve decided to pass.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  That’s one person saying you needed more of a platform, not agents plural telling you content doesn’t matter :)

                  I get why that was your takeaway (she was stating it as absolute fact, as opposed to “I don’t think I can sell this particular book without you having more of a platform,” which probably would have been more accurate), but I think you’re letting yourself be too influenced by a single letter from a single agent. That said, it’s possible that with the specific type of book you’re writing, platform will really matter. You’d probably get good data by looking at similar books that have been published and see what the authors’ platforms were like pre-publication.

                2. Call me G*

                  I can’t comment directly to yours because I guess this thread has reached the max, but I want to say, I really appreciate your audience and your comments. I feel a lot more encouraged to try again.

                  You’re right… I was seeing that way.

        1. King Friday XIII*

          Incidentally, as someone who loves organization, planner videos, decluttering, clean with me videos, housekeeping books, the whole nine yards… I have bought lots of books from people I found on social media. Some were traditionally published and some were courses or self-published books. I followed those people and bought their books because I liked their content, and none of them took their clothes off. ;) If you want to take risque photos of bare SHELVES while you organize your pantry, though, I think you could find a following.

      2. Call me G*

        I’d be willing to write almost any book if I felt like it could get published… I just like writing.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I would dig into this more! If it’s just that you like writing, you could just write. But you specifically want to be published — can you figure out specifically why? That might help you refine the right next steps. (For example, if it’s reaching a wide audience, there might be other ways to do that, like with a website instead of a book. Etc.)

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Can you seek someone else’s opinion about your book? You need objective advice.
      Some people self-publish. Some publish online. I hope there’s an option out there that will fit your needs.

      1. Call me G*

        Yes, I got feedback that people really liked that and it made them happy. Those were just like beta readers.

    3. Agnodike*

      What are your goals for the book? Is it a story that you want to tell to as wide an audience as possible? Do you want to make money? Is seeing your name on a published book your dream? Do you want to push yourself and see if you can finish a substantial piece of writing work? It’s hard to say if the book is “a waste of time” without knowing what you want to accomplish with it.

      1. Call me G*

        Well I did want to publish it. I wanted to do *something* with it. Ideally make money and have people read it! I’ve just been told by a lot of people that writing has nothing to do with the industry and all publishers look for is fame/following.

        1. fposte*

          That’s not true, in my experience. A lot of things go into publishing. It is a business, so they do have to publish things that they think will make them money (which isn’t the same thing as making the author money), but editors in trade publishing are also interested in literature, and writing, and culture.

          It also depends on what kind of nonfiction book you’re talking about, since that’s a field that runs a wide gamut from literary nonfiction to Dummies books to institutional series. I’m guessing you’re thinking about the first. I know more about the youth than the adult market, so I don’t have specific recs, but I’d say have an idea of comps–what books in the last 2-3 years would your book have a similar audience to?–and start looking for an agent that reps nonfiction (check acknowledgments of your comps to see if any names come up).

        2. OhCanary*

          Hi, publishing executive here. Congrats on finishing your manuscript!

          If you want to be traditionally published, the good news is, for nonfiction, you don’t even need the complete manuscript — just a pitch letter (who are you, why would anyone want to read this book, why are you the best person to write it), a detailed outline, and the first 3-5 chapters. Then you query agents using all that collateral. (Ideally, of course, then you sign with an agent, and the agent then sells your book on your behalf.) I would recommend researching places like QueryTracker to find out reputable agents to query.

          I promise, publishers are looking for good stories — not just “authors” who have large social media followings.

          Good luck!

          1. Call me G*

            That’s encouraging. Thank you. I’m going to have to mediate on shifting how I feel about this.

            I mentioned in an earlier comment that most people that rejected me didn’t say why, and the only feedback I DID get was that I didn’t have a big enough following. I’ll check out the resources you mentioned. Thanks.

          2. Call me G*

            Along those lines — with the “who are you” and “why are you the best person to write it,” I mean, I’m just someone who figured this technique out that helped me organize my life. I’m not famous or published already. I don’t have any credentials that qualify me. I’m just a writer who likes to write with an idea that my friends ask me about all the time. That’s where I get tripped up but… I’ll try again.

    4. Literary Editor*

      Well, there are tons of non-celeb nonfiction books getting published so clearly that’s not actually an issue. I’m not sure where that’s coming from but it’s not a realistic concern. The real issues will be the quality of your writing and the market for your content. If your book is well-written and there’s a market for it, you have a chance.

      Have you tried to find an agent? That’s the first step towards getting published, and you don’t need a completed manuscript to query agents. Get the first few chapters polished up and work on a strong query letter. Find agents who represent authors who write the sort of thing you are writing, and start querying. If you find an agent willing to represent you, you can start to think about the rest of this.

      1. Call me G*

        Thanks. Yes, I posted a letter I got from an agent in a comment above. It just made me feel like platform is the only thing that matters. But I really appreciate everyone’s comments because it’s helping me to realize that I should try again.

    5. LilySparrow*

      Yes, you should finish it and seek publication, primarily because of the change that happens in you when you finish a really hard goal.

      There are two times to be thinking about positioning your book to sell:

      1) In the outline / pitch stage, when you choose your topic and style.

      2) When you have a finished draft.

      The time you should never have your sales hat on is in the middle of writing. You will do your head in.

      This sense of despair is a predictable stage in the process and you have to push through it. It is analogous to the moment late in childbirth when women commonly try to opt-out of having the baby, or when marathon runners hit the wall.

      You’re nearly there. Don’t give up now. All those things are solveable on the other side.

    6. LilySparrow*

      Oh, and no- building a platform isn’t about taking your clothes off on IG.

      It’s finding your tribe. Part of the reason publishers are looking for platform is because markets are so divided, there really isn’t a “general audience” for anything anymore.

      The money is in niches. So that kind of platform is somewhat on social media, but much more on blogging and email lists.

      I can spend hours on SM (and do), and book sales are flat. I publish a blog article or email my list about some cool tangentially related thing I heard on NPR? Automatic sales spike.

      By finding your tribe, you get to know them, their concerns, aspirations, and related interests – that’s the stuff a publisher needs to know, too. It’s really a much more organic and relational process than I think you are imagining it to be.

      Doing speaking gigs is another great way – but of course it doesn’t suit everyone. Also doing joint efforts with authors in related niches.

      Have you read the article “One Thousand True Fans?” Google it, it’s a very encouraging perspective.

      Even though you are interested in traditional publication, (and I think it’s probably the best path for your topic), try reading some stuff on how indie authors build platforms – The entire indie business model revolves around platform, and they really embrace it in creative ways.

      Joanna Penn & Kristen Lamb jump to mind as good places to start.

  34. Aphrodite*

    Help! Question about flashlights and lanterns.

    I am a non-tech person. I do have a Mac laptop but no cell phone or tablet. I am looking for both lanterns and flashlights that can, preferably, be plugged into wall outlets to recharge and be left plugged in there until I need them. Most I looked at online seem to require USB cables. I admit I am not sure what these are but can they be plugged into a wall outlet or do I need a regular plug?

    I prefer to get high power, or at least have that option, because I plan to use them around when the power goes out. (I grow fearful when that happens.)

    I tried LLBean but the online associate said they have nothing like that. I looked at this one ( https://www.amazon.com/Tough-Light-LED-Rechargeable-Lantern/dp/B01IIH0ZFQ/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=electric%2BLantern&qid=1571443802&refinements=p_72%3A1248957011&rnid=1248955011&s=outdoor-recreation&sr=1-9&th=1
    ) but think it might not be what I need. Does anyone have suggestions?

    1. Disco Janet*

      USB cables will allow them to plug into an outlet on your wall to charge. You just need to buy a USB wall charger.

    2. Elf*

      USB cables are what charge phones; you need an adapter to plug them into a wall. You can get a usb to wall adapter anywhere – seriously, every highway rest stop, drugstore, and 7-11 will have them.

    3. ThatGirl*

      USB cables can be plugged into plugs and then the wall, yes. It just gives you a number of charging options. If you don’t have an adapter you can buy one separately that’s fairly inexpensive.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I have one of these and like it: https://gamasonic.com/product/rechargeable-emergency-lantern-dl-713ls/
      It has a normal outlet charger and really good light. I keep it by the bed, since I live in earthquake (and now power shutoff) territory. It has a feature where it can come on when the power goes out, if you want to be alerted to the outage. (I keep that off since I’d rather keep sleeping.)

      The link you provided would also be fine. Lots of things today are USB charged. You’ll need a small adapter for that, but they are inexpensive and easy to come by. The adapter goes into your wall plug, and USB cable goes into that. Search for “USB to wall adapter”.

    5. Aphrodite*

      Thank you, Disco Janet, Elf and ThatGirl! Thank you so much! Now I finally understand what that means. (I hate feeling so stupid.) Great. Now I can go and buy a USB wall charger and get some alternative light sources so I look like Dodger Stadium in the final playoffs. That will be a big relief.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        When you buy the USB charger, check the current rating (will be listed as something like 1 amp). Higher values give more current and charge faster – for something like a lantern or high intensity flashlight this can make a difference.

    6. Autumn Sunday*

      I have these Red Cross emergency flashlights in several rooms in my house. I also take one with me when I stay in a hotel. They come on when the power goes off so you aren’t sitting in complete darkness. You can unplug it and walk around with it. They are small flashlights, though, not bright lanterns. You could purchase a few in addition to a bright lantern and use the flashlight to find the bright lantern in the dark.


      1. Aphrodite*

        Thank you also, Filosofickle, Jessica (tc), Autumn Sunday, I really appreciate the information and links. This makes me feel so much better.

    7. Pam*

      I have a small flashlight called an Eco-Lite. It may be one of those As Seen on TV items. A holder ring plugs into the wall socket, and the flashlight sits in the ring to charge by contact.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was going to ask so similar a question I hope you don’t mind me putting it here…
      Is there such a thing as a dimmable red-light LED flashlight?
      My husband has a red-light LED flashlight on his bedside table for when he gets up at night. The red is supposed to be easier to go back to sleep after. Problem is, it’s so bright a light that it wakes ME up. He’s willing to use another one, if I find it.

  35. Yup*

    Just finished watching “Living with yourself” on Netflix and I highly recommend it. Paul Rudd is such a great comedic actor.

    Anyone else watch it?

    1. C Average*

      I’m just about to watch it! I have a sewing project that requires a lot of hand work, and my plan is to sew while I watch.

      My ex-sister-in-law’s kids went to school with Paul Rudd’s kids, so she knew him socially. She said he’s very nice and very chill, and she had trouble remembering he was famous because he was such a normal dude.

      1. annakarina1*

        I once saw him in passing when I was a magazine intern and did coverage of a memorial garden ceremony for the actress/director Adrienne Shelly, and he was there, and just looked like a normal guy to me. His hair was longer than in the movies, he was dressed down, and he just looked normal. Though for all the immortal jokes people make about him, he was 40 at the time and looked it. Not in a bad way, just that he looked more his real age than on film when not gussied up.

            1. Shiny Flygon*

              I’m sorry, I can’t let that stand.
              -Mike Crapbag?
              -no. No Mike. Just crap bag. First name Crap, last name Bag!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        He was also in Parks and Rec! He played Bobby Newton, the dumb heir to Pawnee’s Sweetums fortune.

        And of course, ANT MAN \0/

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I just started and I am two episodes in. I don’t hate it but I guess I thought they could have built to the spa session a bit. I don’t want to spoil it but at least in the first two episodes, I can’t figure out why he would have decided to go to the spa without much more than thought than it seemed he gave it.
      Follow up question: Why does Paul Rudd never age?!?! For real!

    3. fposte*

      I’m watching it mostly because I really like Aisling Bea as Aisling Bea and wanted to see what she was like as an actor. It’s an interesting show–it’s got a very ’50s sensibility in a lot of ways–and while I agree that it’s not super fast-paced, I’m curious to see where it goes. (Though I think the soundtrack is a weak spot. It sounds like ’90s synth on a MST3k-featured thriller.)

      1. fposte*

        Okay, and I’m seriously amused by the IMDb trivia for this: “There’s really only one Paul Rudd in real life. They used special effects to make his twin.”

      2. fposte*

        Okay, I finished binging it last night and I liked it less as it went on; I’m also pretty annoyed that the plot resolution ignored a key inequity to work.

  36. MOAS*

    I had my first PT session this week for my lower leg pain that I’ve had for 2 years. My therapist was asking a lot of questions and very soft spoken and understanding. I felt comfortable with her. While talking to her it just came out in the conversation that this has taken over my life. Even though Ive always been overweight, I considered myself fairly active–exercising at least 2x a week, walking long and short distances etc. 

    They asked for short and long term goals, and my ST was to be able to do my 0.4 mile walk to work without stopping and being in any degree of pain. Long term….to get back to my old life. 

    Like for ex/ I never felt apprehensive walking to work. During lunch, I could go somewhere 1 avenue over. I could spend a 40m lunch break just walking and talking with a coworker/friend. 

    Now-I pay 2x to take a Bus that drops me closer to my job and even that 3 block walk is too much. I go to work and stay there, walk inside the office but have lunch delivered. I went to get coffee last week with someone. A block away. ONE BLOCK. And I felt soooooo embarrassed at being in pain and out of breath. Anyway, so the therapist examined how I walked, checked pain points etc. she said patience & practice and I have the motivation to do it. She gave me some exercises to do at home.

    The only thing I’m a little worried about is getting a surprise bill. When I called initially, they said they take my insurance. When I got there, they gave me the benefits statement which I should’ve taken a pic of or requested a copy. I always pay a copay but I’m worried about getting a separate bill afterwards..I was talking w a coworker who was doing PT and he said our benefits suck and he got a bill afterwards too. So a little apprehensive about that. 

    But overall I’m patient and hopeful. I just want my old life back. 

    1. Sparrow*

      I did PT a few months ago and was also frustrated that I couldn’t get a good idea of my out of pocket cost ahead of time. I tried calling the office and my insurance and they could tell me that I would pay 20% of the billed amount but couldn’t get any estimate beyond that.
      I ended up being billed about $50 for the initial evaluation and about $20 for each of my 1/2 hour follow up sessions, which was totally worth the improvement I got from it. Hope your PT is affordable and beneficial to you too!

    2. LilySparrow*

      You should be able to access all that benefit information online, the booklets as well as the documentation on each visit. Ask HR how to log into the portal for your insurance company.

  37. MOAS*

    On another note…..

    Anyone ever feel like they’re not competing against anyone but just themselves? I never considered myself competitive, and yea I always noticed how beautiful other women were but I never aspired to be like any of them. Looks, career, etc. I don’t have a “story”, I just….middled along? I just wanted to be the bestversion of myself.

    So, I feel like I compete against myself. I look at my old pix and it’s so depressing to me–when I was 20, 28 and 31, I lost significant weight through mostly exercise and very little diet. I NEVER took my insulin correctly. Now that I’m taking my insulin and trying to be better about the diabetes..I gained weight and slow weight loss, along with the pain etc. I’ve tossed between maybe I should quit my medicine and just do diet and exercise, but then days of high #s scare me to death and ruin my A1c. So it’s a crappy cycle. 

    1. Wishing You Well*

      You’ve got to feel well physically to feel well mentally. Please keep taking your insulin correctly. That should be your number 1 priority. Ask your medical people for help. Also consider treatment for possible depression. Life is tough and we all need help at some point. You deserve to feel better and you need the best possible sources for advice.
      Jedi hugs, if you want them.

      1. MOAS*

        I’ve talked to my endocrinologist before. She got frustrated that I would do well then fall off the wagon. I explained this. She said the weight gain is minimal compared to the side effects from uncontrolled diabetes. I know the problems with uncontrolled diabetes, I know what’s needed for a good diet, allt het ipsand tricks and stuff…I just need the mental push. I speak for myself when I say it’s 99% mental.

        1. Grace*

          tw – discussion of eating disorders

          Have you seen any documentaries or discussions about diabulimia, like the BBC documentary? It’s classed as an eating disorder in that there’s a mental block related to control and weight loss/gain, but it’s when someone with diabetes deliberately takes less or no insulin for the purposes of weight loss. You’re far from the only person struggling with these urges. I understand your endocrinologist getting frustrated, but the papers I’ve read all point to this being a genuine eating disorder linked to disordered thinking about weight and insulin. You wouldn’t tell someone anorexic to just shut up and eat (or at least, you shouldn’t) and people shouldn’t be telling you to just shut up and take your insulin.

          From what I can see online, even though most endocrinologists aren’t exactly qualified to deal with the disordered aspect of diabulimia, there are suggestions about how to build a qualified team across different specialities, as well as online advice and places to talk without judgement. The BBC documentary is available on YT, and there are a lot of people discussing their own experiences with these urges in the comments (with an incredible amount of compassion given that it’s a YT comment section).

          Even if you don’t think that your struggles go so far as to qualify as diabulimia, you might find some of the same resources helpful.

          1. sequined histories*

            Yeah, speaking as someone with a history of disordered eating, if you’re saying that—on an emotional level—you’re more comfortable letting your blood sugar get out of control and being skinnier than you are with keeping it under control and being somewhat heavier, that sounds like sounds like it’s own separate issue deserving of evaluation and specific treatment. It’s sounds like you might not be able to escape this “crappy cycle” on your own.

            1. MOAS*

              That’s interesting I never thought of it like that. I’m not sure i could get that comfortable to go back to old habits where I was very ignorant or in denial of what was going on inside—never checking it, never Taking my meds regularly etc.

    2. Disco Janet*

      Don’t quit your medicine! I hear you though – I’ve gained quite a bit of weight and accumulated a few health issues over the last couple of years. I know to some extent that is just part of life – your body is aging, bad habits that didn’t affect you as much in the past start catching up to you.

      It almost sounds like you’re looking at this as an either or where you take to or insulin OR focus on diet and exercise. Why not both?

  38. LlamaDoctor*

    A close friend’s father died yesterday, he had cancer but he was doing quite well and the death was quite unexpected despite the fact that he was sick. This is the first time I’ve ever had a close friend lose a very close relative, especially a relatively young one (early fifties) and I’m not sure how to act. We are in different states (I’m away for college but she goes to college in our hometown, we’ve been friends since elementary school) but I will be going home for the funeral. I want to support her as best I can but I also want to give her space if she needs it. Of course, I’ll follow her lead but I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what to do/say or what not to do/say. I want her to know I’m there if she needs me but I don’t want to be annoying or insensitive in any way. For reference on the level of friendship, we’re good friends but not “best” friends, we were really close as kids but have grown apart some what, we still spend time together whenever we’re in the same place and probably text a few times a month to once a week depending on how busy we both are. If I got married she’d definitely be a bridesmaid but probably not my maid of honor.

    1. WellRed*

      Going to the funeral is the important thing. Tell her you’re there for her if she needs anything and check in a few weeks after to see how she is(that’s when it really sinks in but everyone else has of course moved on). The check in can be a call or even a text.

      1. WellRed*

        Oh, as for what to say, I’m so sorry. And then a memory of her dad, remember that treehouse he built?

        1. fposte*

          This is perfect. There’s a template for a reason, and the fact that you’re expressing sorrow matters more than what you say (unless you say something spectacularly bad).

    2. MOAS*

      If you make a promise, stick to it.
      If there was something you did before, continue to do it.

      I’ll share my experience, fully knowing that everyone deals with things differently and what worked for me may not work for everyone else….

      With that said..when my father died suddenly a year and a half ago, I had a friend who said they would come over (it’s customary in our culture to visit the family to offer condolences if you don’t make it to the funeral). I was abroad and texted when I came back. They didn’t. no apology, nothing. Eventually, they stopped talking to me and inviting me to stuff. I understand they got busy wiht life, and their circle got smaller etc so I don’t take it very personally but it still hurt. Another friend, didn’t offer to come over, and later apologized and said they were busy with life. I forgave them, and still see them, but it still hurts.

      So– I’d say if you promise to do anything, follow through. If there was anything you did before, like always invite them to a certain thing, don’t stop doing that. If you see them, let them lead the conversation, I remember switching between wanting to talk about normal stuff and talk about my dad and heavier stuff.

      I had a lot of ppl reaching out in the beginning and it felt overwhelming. and then it stopped and I felt lonely and forgotten. Again, I know this is the nature of things, people have lives, as do we, but it doesn’t hurt any less.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Tell her you’re sorry for her loss and ask her if she wants to talk about it. Some people do, some don’t.
      Don’t say “I know how you feel.” or “He’s in a better place.” And respect your friend’s religious beliefs.
      I’m sorry your friend lost her father.

    4. Pippa*

      If you are able, be present at the services and tell her you care. Send her a note with a memory or story about her Dad and the two of you as little kids. Send a similar kind of note to her Mom, if appropriate. Letting people know you care, being present if possible (and the family wants it) can really mean a lot in circumstances which no one can really change.

    5. Una*

      Don’t worry too much about your level of closeness, but also don’t assume your friend has closer people she’d rather talk to. That might be true, but it is a very common experience in grief that the people you most expect to show up for you don’t—but also the opposite sometimes: that people you weren’t expecting to at all find ways of showing up, and it is deeply moving.

      I would say grief begins more than it ends at the funeral, especially for the person making all the arrangements. It gets harder after all the work is done, so keep checking in…in a week, in two weeks, in three weeks, in a month, and so on. The funeral in some ways is the easiest part—your whole community is there with you. It’s after that grief feels terribly lonely.

      The key thing is to resist the (perfectly natural) temptation to say things to make your friend feel better. Remember that the pain of losing someone is a natural extension of one’s love for someone. Feeling like one has to move too quickly into ‘acceptance’ or coming to terms with the loss, or seeing some positive in it (eg, ‘at least he’s no longer suffering’) can feel like a betrayal of that person, because the pain seems like the last part of that love that remains.

      So when your friend is hurting, try to just let her express that, and sit with the pain instead of trying to make it feel better. She probably won’t want to do that all the time—and it’s fine to ask! ‘If you need to talk about it, I’m here for you. But if you need distraction right now instead, I can do that too!’ If you’re at a loss for words, it’s fine to admit that. It’s also fine to sit in silence for a while. But a hug is nice too.

      This might be less relevant if you’re not in town for as long, but if you’re there for a few days, think about what you’d do for a sick friend, and offer to do that—to make her dinner, or wash her dishes, or some other daily task which can be hard to do when you’re paralyzed by grief or sickness. It helps to be concrete. A lot of my friends said, ‘just tell me if there’s anything I can do for you,’ but that largely meant I never told them, even though there were things they could have done—but my brain was knocked off its axis and I couldn’t think of anything, or felt too ashamed to ask, or felt like nothing mattered anyway so what would be the point? Along those lines, don’t expect that your friend will reach out if she needs help or support—instead, keep reaching out to her. Remember that it can be really hard to ask for help when you’re already at your most vulnerable. Hard even to accept it sometimes, so try not to take it personally if you don’t always hear back. She will have a lot going on.

      Finally, a book recommendation: Megan Devine’s ‘It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand.’ My friend got it for me when I experienced a loss, telling me her other friend had found it helpful for her own grief—though she was also very clear that *I* didn’t have to read it or find it helpful if it wasn’t for me. But I think it really is a good one.

      1. Kuododi*

        Here to upvote your suggestion about not putting on the friend who’s grieving to know what they need and communicate that info to you.

        When I was first diagnosed with the breast and lung cancer I had a number of people tell me to let them know how they could help. I found that to be an overwhelming task on top of adjusting to the diagnoses. A new friend I recently made through a local Meetup group contacted me and came up with suggestions on how she and the group could be supportive. (ie- food chain, taking up a collection to help with expenses.). Long story short, she’s going to organize a rotation of folks to help with transportation to and from my radiation treatments. The week I got my diagnoses, my Dad invited me to have lunch with he and Mom over at their house. (Nothing fancy, just salad and sandwiches.). His goal for lunch.was to give me a couple of hours where I could talk as little or as much as I wanted about the cancers. It was a very helpful get together with family giving me time to take a mental break from the stress and anxiety. I hope this is helpful. Blessings

  39. matcha123*

    DNA tests have become a lot more popular in recent years, and I keep seeing people (online) post about how they are now mixed. I am mixed, my parents are from different races. I find it incredibly annoying when someone who identifies as monoracial, is identified by society as monoracial, and has never questioned their racial background now feels like it’s fun to tell people about all the “nationalities” they are mixed with. Or ask to be validated as a racial minority because a DNA test shows they might have some non-white ancestry from centuries back.
    Which ties into my other pet peeve…people who cannot understand that “Hispanic/Latina” is not a race, or that you cannot be a bunch of “nationalities” without fulfilling some very specific requirements. This is more of an American thing, but it just gets on my nerves so much.
    DNA tests are created from data points of people who took the DNA test and they match those results to modern-day regions or countries.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I find it incredibly annoying when someone who identifies as monoracial, is identified by society as monoracial, and has never questioned their racial background now feels like it’s fun to tell people about all the “nationalities” they are mixed with.

      I fully agree. It seems they want all the benefits of being monoracial (especially if that mono is White) while also getting the benefits of being multiracial (without any of the difficulties that come with it). They want to have their cake and eat it too.

      people who cannot understand that “Hispanic/Latina” is not a race

      Here’s where I disagree with you. Race is entirely a social construct that has only minimal overlap with anything biological. “Hispanic/Latina” is, in fact, a “race” in America, because that’s how you have to select things on a form when you select race. We have one racial category based loosely around language and geography (“Hispanic/Latina”), one racial category based loosely around geography (“Asian or Asian Pacific Islander”), one racial category based primarily on skin tone and geographic remote ancestry (“Black/African American”), one racial category based on length of time of ancestry within the Americas (“Indigenous/Native America”), and one racial category based on everything else (“White/Caucasian”). Where do people of Middle Eastern descent fall? It’s unclear, because race is a BS form of classification. Sometimes there is a separate checkbox for that. And sometimes people from the Middle East have to identify as White or Asian.

      There is a long history in the U.S. of people we now consider to be “White” being considered not White (Irish, Italian, Eastern European, Ashkenazi Jewish), and we also have a long history people with light-colored skin (Middle Eastern, East Asian) being unsure if they’re “White” or not until the Supreme Court decides they aren’t White.

      Race has no basis in biology or genetics. That doesn’t make it any less real (a building doesn’t have to exist, but if you build it, it’s there, and you can’t just deny its existence once it’s built).

      1. Enough*

        The single point for hispanic/Latina is actually rarely new. They used to have 2 lines. One for black and one for non-black.

      2. Ann O.*

        On the census, Hispanic/Latina is explicitly identified as an ethnic origin rather than a race.

        I also disagree that Ashkenazi Jews are uniformly considered white, and it is one of my great frustrations with social justice bubbles that so many of them insist that we are despite our lived realities (especially because frankly, I often experience this in the context of someone minimizing prejudice against us).

        Beliefs about race have material consequences on people’s lives, obviously, but that doesn’t make race itself a real, stable concept. And because it’s not stable, the ways in which race is socially constructed are also neither stable nor uniform.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I also disagree that Ashkenazi Jews are uniformly considered white

          What of the few simplistic racial categories in the U.S. do they belong to, then?

          Look, anti-Semitism is a real thing, of course, and WASPs still hold special power in the U.S. that other kinds of white people don’t, but I don’t really see how you can say Ashkenazi Jews aren’t considered white.

          1. curly sue*

            In my experience we have conditional Whiteness. (Using the capital letter here because it’s not white as in skin colour, but Whiteness as in the conditional access and acceptance allocated to various European groups at different points in western history. Also see the Italians and Irish.)

            We’re assumed to be White until our Jewishness comes up, at which point people’s attitudes change. You can actually watch the re-evaluation take place in some people’s eyes (and in the past that’s when I’ve gotten questions about when I got my horns removed, and is it true that Jews have hooves). What it tends to come down to is that we’re considered White when it’s useful to see us as part of a power structure, but we’re not White enough to be safe from racists. And so it goes.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          My primary experience with people claiming Ashkenazi Jews are not white (due to being Ashkenazi Jews) has been from white supremacists. I took the previous poster’s remark about the “long history” to be a reference to that. Of course there do exist Jews who are not white or who are multiracial, but it is extremely problematic to suggest that the latter is because of the former, as opposed to a separate data point.

      3. ZarinC*

        As a scientist (doctorate in genetics) I do wholeheartedly agree that race is a social construct–however I find your attitude kind of harsh.

        This statement in particular “It seems they want all the benefits of being monoracial (especially if that mono is White) while also getting the benefits of being multiracial (without any of the difficulties that come with it). They want to have their cake and eat it too.”

        It’s unclear to me what these supposed benefits are, but ancestry DNA tests are generally for entertainment and who is not curious about their origins? Pretty much everyone on this planet has mixed ethnicity but until recently the average person did not have access to this information.
        So what if they are excited to find out that they have ________ ancestry? (Fill in the blank)
        That doesn’t make your own claim as a multiracial person any less special or important.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          How is that any more harsh than this?
          I find it incredibly annoying when someone who identifies as monoracial, is identified by society as monoracial, and has never questioned their racial background now feels like it’s fun to tell people about all the “nationalities” they are mixed with.

          The supposed benefit is being able to have fun with some trivia about it without actually facing the real-life oppression that comes with it.

      4. 1LFTW*

        Dear gods, these tests are a scourge. Even at their least malign, they reify our culture’s deeply problematic constructions of “race” and “ethnicity”.

        I have a student (in her late 60’s) whose family member took one of these tests and found out that “they’re not Italian”. This bummed out my student, who always took pride in her Italian heritage. Her maiden name is Italian, because her father’s parents were *from Italy*, her father was raised speaking Italian, and raised his kids to be knowledgeable about his culture… but because A Genetic Test said that their family is “0% Italian”, this poor lady felt like she no longer had a claim to her culture. I explained (in much gentler terms) that her family damn well *is* Italian, because ethnicity is a cultural, not biological construct.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Genetic tests probably don’t do a good job for people descended from families living in places where national borders shifted a lot. And families where someone might not have revealed they adopted a child. (Especially if that child was from a targeted group–Jewish or Roma in Nazi Germany, just a fast example.)
          And then there is simple migration, like the refugees who are trying to get out of Syria.
          I wonder if the worry is the possibility of an unrevealed adoption.

      5. matcha123*

        Race is a social construct, but South America and the Caribbean are made up of very racially diverse groups. This includes indigenous people. If you were not aware, there was a huge backlash in the 90s of Mexican dramas featuring white Mexicans as “good” roles and darker skinned ones in “bad” roles; there are large Asian communities in South American countries like Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina (many generations back); etc. etc. That is why “Hispanic/Latina” is not a race on Census forms, it is an ethnicity.
        I think most people who visit this site are on the same page when it comes to America’s crappy way of dealing with race, so I don’t want to preach to the choir.
        My basic point was that if you take a DNA test and find Asian ancestry, you suddenly do not become an expert on Asia or whatever, especially if you don’t identify that way, none of your family does, and neither does your community. It’s fine to be amused or interested in the results you find in a test, but I’ve seen people asking if they can call themselves mixed on university applications because a DNA test showed they had 10% African genes.

        1. Roverandom*

          Honestly Hispanic/Latino/a is a language/culture category. I don’t know how you justify putting a white person from Spain and a dark-skinned person from the Dominican Republic and a person from Honduras with indigenous ancestry in the same category, and have that category also exclude black people from Haiti and people from Brazil and white people from France.

          I am equally there with you against “DNA test says I’m X race” B.S. and think it really speaks to America’s lack of understanding of how race, biology, and culture works.

    2. Courageous cat*

      Yes, I agree, and for context I am white. Lots of people who think they’re ~exotic~ because they’re like, German, Irish, and Norwegian. It is absolutely not “mixed” – it’s basically what every white person is.

      1. matcha123*

        Yeah, if these people were living in Europe with immediate family members influencing their cultural background and upbringing, I could see a case for them identifying as mixed. But if they are in North America and live their lives as “white bread, apple pie” Americans, then really, that’s fine. (not you, op!)

    3. Asenath*

      I can’t say I worry much about how other people want to identify their ethnicity – that whole area is so full of competing ideologies and approaches that it seems like almost anything goes. Race is an even shakier construct – and if these tests do anything, they usually show that if you go back far enough, everyone has people from various origins in their family trees. No one is really a genetically pure member of any group. And – speaking for myself – the discovery that I have some ancestors from previously-unsuspected locations is of mild personal interest, but says absolutely nothing about my culture or ethnicity or race, which remains unchanged since it’s affected as much by the groups I grew up among as by genetics.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I would never do these because then the company owns your information. That makes me really leery, since companies these days aren’t great about keeping that info secure in any way. They’re not that accurate, either. I read an article where somebody tried a few different ones as an experiment and got back different results!

      1. You can call me Al*

        I did! My husband used to work in the industry and we took three tests with the three companies he worked for and every single one came back with VERY different nationalities.
        Seriously take that stuff with a grain of salt.
        The person-to-person data is much more accurate than predicting nationalities.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Exactly. My understanding is that the nationality stuff is *highly* uncertain, and that things like “14% Welsh” don’t mean a whole lot in the first place. There’s the uncertainties in the testing, in the calibration data (who is your template for ‘Welsh’), and the tendency for historical mobility of populations to mix genetics (trade, exploration, migration, refugees, slavery, war….). I think it’s reasonably good when it comes to the basic continent (sub-Saharan African vs East Asian vs North American), but beyond that it can be pretty random.

          It’s better at determining relationships, although even then there can be big mistakes in determining the precise level of the relationship, particularly with a single comparison.

  40. Can I get a Wahoo?*

    My cat’s absolute favorite thing is dragging herself along the base of my couch by her nails. I’ve tried the Jackson Galaxy method of putting scratchers in front of the places she likes to scratch, but they’re either not what she’s looking for or not long enough to drag herself along. Double stick tape hasn’t worked because she just pealed it off to eat it. Any suggestions?

    1. CatCat*

      Rub some citrus on there or otherwise get citrus in the area. I read cats dislike citrus so we have a living room chair we don’t want ours to go under because they could get paws or tail caught in rocking mechanism if one of us didn’t realize one was under there. I rubbed a lime one some wood under the chair and left a couple lime peels under the chair. That has largely been very effective.

    2. Kuododi*

      I’ve had good luck with sprinkling Cayenne pepper around the thing I want Kitty to leave alone. (Very helpful at keeping cats out of the Christmas tree). Good luck.

  41. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

    Phase 2 of self-care reset weekend. I’m still trying to recover from a month of burnout and work-related anxiety stemming from multiple sources. Now I’m moving into more active self-care. I take workout classes 2-3x a week, I’m making plans with friends, and doing some creative projects. Also watching some of my favorite lifestyle YouTube channels.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      You go! That’s where I want to be around mid-November. Keep us posted – which creative projects? Which YouTube channels? I’m starting to plan ahead!

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        One of them is just decorating my apartment which I just moved into. Hanging up mirrors and pictures. I am painting a couple of canvases for this purpose.

        Another thing I like to do is make my own bath products (because taking warm baths is a staple in my self-care routine!) Sugar scrubs, bath bombs, and body creams. Rachel Talbott’s channel is my primary source of inspiration for these.

        I’ve also been watching a lot of muchellb’s channel – it’s been practically therapeutic in the place of actual therapy, which I’m having trouble getting a hold of where I am.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          Sounds wonderful!!! Decorating – Are you painting just things you like, or to tie together your decor?

          And high five on the bath. I have figured out this is one of my care rituals… making your own bath bombs is a great idea!!
          Thank you!

  42. coffee cup*

    This morning I volunteered at park run for the first time! I ran it the last two weekends so this time I thought I’d help out. I was nervous beforehand but I really enjoyed cheering people on and seeing them all do well. I was positioned at the bottom of a small hill that I personally hate when I’m running it, so I was able to genuinely tell them they were doing well. It was pretty chilly and damp but good! Next week I think I’ll run again.

    Anyone else like volunteering at things? I never have before, mainly cause I’m shy, and I’m now wondering what else I could do.

    1. Daphne*

      I volunteered for years at at theatre doing ushering and box office, led to paid work because i’d been there so long.

      Going to help out at a big film festival in another city next month.

      Like you, I’m shy, and still have my off days. But I found have a genuine interest or a knack for one/some of the volunteer tasks will really help your confidence – for example I was known for learning the ticketing software really quickly and was nicknamed box office queen!

    2. LGC*

      On the running end of things: I’ve done quite a few things!

      Mainly, I’ve been a pacer twice. That’s been fun – it’s helping me become more confident about staying in control.

      I also marshaled (which is what it sounds like you did) at my club’s 4th of July race. It was fun! I enjoyed just cheering everyone on for a change!

      1. LGC*

        But outside of that…I really want to do more. I’m kind of like you where I’m an introvert by nature, and it seems like a lot of volunteer ops are front facing.

        What’s worked for me is to…have the interaction directed. Basically, if I have a primary job. Being a pacer, your job first and foremost is to hit your splits. (And run the course properly.) And a course marshal directs people the right way. That’s me, though – I feel like my issue is that often I don’t know how to human properly, so I like guidelines. You’re probably different!

        1. coffee cup*

          The marshalling at park run was easy, as the route is pretty obvious, so I didn’t need to direct anyone, just shout ‘well done!’ and other encouraging things! You can do various jobs, though. Even just helping to set up the event is useful and doesn’t require much human interaction, if any!

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I volunteer at SF conventions and some other kinds of fan-run conventions. A lot