weekend free-for-all – November 16-17, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta. Millions of people vanish all at once, in what may or may not be the Rapture, and those left behind struggle to figure out a path forward.

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

{ 1,368 comments… read them below }

    1. EinJungerLudendorff*

      I’ve been binging Unity of Command 2 this week. Solid game, even if the time limits sometimes make me want to boil every river in Italy.

    2. Gatomon*

      I keep hearing about this game at work, but I’m still working on The Outer Worlds! This may be my next one though!

      1. Stormfeather*

        Also vaguely working on Outer Worlds, but starting to feel the pull of other stuff again, which is pretty much why I almost never finish games these days >_>

        1. Gatomon*

          I finish very few games myself. I usually have trouble right around the 20 hr mark. If the game ends around there, I’ll finish it, but if there’s more to go that’s when it tends to get put down for something else.

          I think the only real exception to that for myself is Skyrim. I put 100 hrs into that game in the first 3 months, but now I can’t seem to get back into the groove for a replay even years later.

    3. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      I’ve been playing Greedfall, but it’s frankly kinda boring, and I just found out that Syberia 3 came out! I’m much more interested in some nostalgic adventuring in pretty landscapes than pretending I care about my blandy bland main character in Greedfall. A trip to GameStop might be in my near future!

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I just finished Lego Lord of the Rings today :) Have started Star Wars Lego. I’m not very good at this, but its fun.

    5. Gingerblue*

      Cities Skylines. Got a monorail system working! But now my garbage trucks aren’t working for no discernible reason.

    6. misspiggy*

      Ooh, I really need a gaming thread. Anyone got suggestions for nonviolent Xbox One games that don’t require a lot of learning? I’d love to be able to pick up a game without having to learn lots of controller combinations or develop complicated fighting or resourcing strategies. I’ve been enjoying GRIDD, Rime and Abzu but not finding much luck other than that.

  1. OperaArt*

    Thanks to everyone who helped 2 weeks ago when I was trying to find a dress for a dinner and ballroom dance event. I went from having no options to having an excess of choices. (Requirements listed at the end as a reminder.)

    If you’re interested in my final selection, it’s the Maggy London V-Neck Allover Sequin Ruffle Hem Sheath Dress from Dillards. I’ve never had an allover sequin dress before, but it’s appropriate for this event. The description says that the dress is silver, but it looks very gold in artificial light. I’ll include a link in a following post.

    (Requirements: in my early 60s, a US size 14 or 16, looking for a white or metallic gold dress. The length needed to be anywhere from knee to ankle, the sleeves at least to the middle of my upper arm, no illusion necklines or plunging backs, and it couldn’t look like a wedding dress.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You’d go a long way before you’d fine something nicer than this- it’s a wonderful choice.

    1. anon attorney*

      What a cute dress! I hope you have a fantastic evening.

      Can I cheekily hijack your post to seek similar assistance?

      I am late forties, UK size 12-14, looking for a dress for this year’s festivities (heading back to what’s left of the UK for a bit). I want to be modest on top but show off my legs (my favourite bit of body) but I can’t wear a high/roll neck or halter as top heavy – a gentle scoop or wrap style neckline suits me. I really like styles with chiffon sleeves/yokes and I’m relaxed about showing arms and upper back. Going for classy but sexy here. Ideas gratefully received!

        1. anon attorney*

          Default to black, but I’m open to ideas. Not s fan of pastels or pinks – strong colors basically :)

      1. OperaArt*

        House of Fraser has a black above-the-knee dress with chiffon sleeves and a medium scoop neck. The James Lakeland Pleat Dress with Chiffon Sleeve. It might be a bit longer than you’re looking for, depending on your height.

        1. OperaArt*

          A sexier option is their Frock and Frill Embellished Mini Dress. Sleeveless, lower back, short. Heavily embellished.

      2. OhBehave*

        Are you in the US? You say you’re heading back to the UK….

        UK
        cute in all colors
        https://www.romanoriginals.co.uk/ombre-sequin-shift-dress-14061495

        Watch the video. https://www.romanoriginals.co.uk/lace-overlay-dress-14010413

        pretty in red https://www.romanoriginals.co.uk/rose-print-overlay-dress-14010378

        US

        https://www.macys.com/shop/product/inc-balloon-sleeve-wrap-dress-created-for-macys?ID=9527184&CategoryID=66874&sizes=DEPARTMENT_TYPE!!Dresses&swatchColor=Deep%20Black

        gorgeous in navy https://www.dillards.com/p/tahari-asl-beaded-illusion-neck-velvet-sheath-dress/509839772

        green or white https://www.dillards.com/p/vince-camuto-asymmetrical-bell-sleeve-stretch-sheath-dress/509719271

        https://www.dillards.com/p/preston–york-felicia-short-sleeve-lace-sheath-dress/505009646

    2. Jdc*

      Oh that’s gorgeous. Perfect for the occasion. I never can find a reason to wear sequins but wish I could!

    3. OperaArt*

      Forgot to mention that I saved the links to all of the dresses people suggested. There are a couple more that are seriously calling my name.

  2. Arts Akimbo*

    Tabletop roleplaying– who has campaigns going? Or who has dream campaigns they’d like to run? What games?

    I’m currently in a D&D 5e game run by my spouse. We’ve got 4 people in the group with a possible fifth being added. It started out as a game where we were just blasting Undead creatures, and it is turning into this huge worldwide issue where the walls between all the planes are thinning and the Illithids are creeping back in to run their dark conspiracies!! It was one incredible plot twist, and we’ve only just scratched the surface! Also we have liberated a dragon egg from a pocket dimension where an Illithid had built its library/war room. And… in this library we found books with AIRSHIPS in them, and proof that our world used to have airships which have been wiped from all history and living memory! OH THE SUSPENSE! But my character is a Swashbuckler rogue, a pirate, and she longs to command an airship.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m running the Pathfinder “Giantslayer” adventure path. We’ve only had a couple sessions, so they’re still I think level 2 :)

      1. TheMonkey*

        Same! I get my satisfaction vicariously via actual play podcasts and streams. Not as good, but still fun to watch/listen.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Ooh, I hope you get to someday!! If you’re interested, boardgamegeek.com has a sister site called rpggeek.com, and they do play-by-forum games there.

    2. curly sue*

      We’ve got a couple of campaigns going – a 2nd ed AD&D with my partner and kids, set in mythological Ancient Greece (kids are into Percy Jackson and partner is a Classics geek), and an Al’Qadim game (2nd ed AD&D ‘Arabian Nights’ setting) that partner, Oldest and I are playing with a friend of mine and her family. We’ve got a session of Al’Qadim this afternoon, in fact!

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        2nd edition D&D is my default – started learning it at 13 years old, and have 25 years (on and off) experience with that particular rule set.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I love 2nd edition forever because of that, myself! I still know all the page numbers of my favorite DMG stuff.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        I always wanted to play in the Al’Qadim setting! So cool. And also, yay Percy Jackson fans! Glad that kids and Classics geeks get to bond in play! :)

        1. curly sue*

          The kids are playing twin children of Apollo, and I’m playing the grizzled old centaur cleric. My job is basically to follow them around and keep their characters alive long enough to complete the story. *g* So far so good!

          1. Zephy*

            (not that anyone’s still looking at the FFA on tuesday, but…)

            …so you’re the Centaur for Disease Control?

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hurrah for 2nd Edition! We haven’t played much for 10 years, because of life obligations vs 50 minute drive to the gaming group. But our 8th grader now has a D&D club at school (5e) so we’re thinking of a future with 2e upstairs and 5e in the basement. :)

    3. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

      That sounds super cool, props to your group and your DM for that fun story!

      I’m playing in a D&D 5E game right now with some friends from college. Unfortunately, I’m mostly hanging in because I think I’d lose these friends if I stepped away, but the DM and I have some pretty major stylistic differences and we also have a player with pretty serious “That Guy” syndrome, which when I brought up to said DM I was told, “That’s just how [player] is. You have to ignore 50% of what he says.” (Keep in mind, we’ve been playing almost a year and this player hasn’t straightened me and another player out (both women). Constantly mixes up our names – not our characters’ names, ours.)

      But the upside of all that is, I think I’m going to start planning my own campaign! Last time I took a stab at DMing, it was with this group, and I’ve since realized that they just aren’t a good group for me to DM for various reasons. (Also I jumped in with WAY too big a campaign idea and bit off more than I could chew.) But I have another friend who’d be interested in a campaign I run and I think I can find others – especially if I try to do it play-by-post style, which I think I’d like – so I’m going to start planning and see where it goes!

      1. Ariaflame*

        I’m DMing for the first time next month. Little bit nervous, we’ve been playing mostly GURPS for a while but what with having watched a lot of CR etc. I decided I’d like to start with 5e.

        1. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

          Good luck! 5E is pretty easy IMO, just remember that you don’t have to be Matt Mercer straight out of the gate (and frankly, your players probably aren’t the CR cast either lol). I liked the bit of DMing I did before, just overwhelmed myself with trying to do too much. We’ve both got this this time around! :)

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          YAY!! Good luck and have fun! The key to success as a GM is to set up a great story for you *and* your players to tell! :) CR is a great place to go for inspiration!

          5e is so fun! I think it keeps the cool parts of the previous editions while sanding down many of the rough edges. It’s a great choice for a first-time GM.

        3. Minocho*

          I GM a lot, and often without an established group – until this most recent job sucked my time away, I volunteered to GM organized play tables at all the local gaming conventions, for usually four 4 hour sessions each weekend (as a woman, I feel it’s important to offer a table run by a woman to give other women who might be nervous to try it a different option) – and the most important thing to remember is keep the focus on the players.

          Different players have different styles, and some will mesh better than others, but if you keep your focus on the players, you’ll be able to determine what matters to them surprisingly quickly. Some find the rules super important (it gives them a set of parameters and lets them feel a little more in control), some find the story to be core, some want a chance to be the center of attention. If there appears to be a lack of interest or a problem, take a break and ask about it in private, see if adjustments need to be made.

          Another thing that I think is critical is: don’t try to solve problems using the game. If there is a problem at the table, with a certain player or between players, address it as soon as possible, address it directly, and address it in private first ( much like the interpersonal problem solving strategy Ask A Manager suggests for workplace issues). I’ve seen people try to handle issues in game, and it really can ruin a game (and the point is often missed). I’ve also seen people decide to ignore/avoid a recurring issue, until their ignore/avoid bucket is full, and then there’s an explosion and a problem that is much harder to fix.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        My group did a play-by-post Amber Diceless game years ago that turned out absolutely amazingly. I think that style of gaming can really engender player investment and seriously interesting roleplaying! I wish you well with your game! :) And hopefully you won’t have That Guy in it. :P Gotta love dudes who think of all women as interchangeable, amirite?

        My spouse and I played with a group for a long time whose DM didn’t really match our play style. He wavered between overly simulationist and rules-crunchiness and didn’t seem to want to let the players drive the story in the directions we wanted to take it. And the weird thing was, he considered himself a total narrativist! It’s just that he had The One True Narrative in his head, I guess. Anyway, we loved him as a friend and put up with it until my spouse just Could. Not. Deal. (One of the other players did something that pretty much wrecked everything our group had been working toward for like 5 sessions, and if Spouse were GMing, he would have given the player a warning, like, “You start to cast the fireball through the keyhole of that locked door, but as you bend down, you smell a whiff of black powder emanating from the chamber within. What do you do?”) But yeah, it’s sad, because we don’t hang out with that group as much without that game to tie us together.

        1. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

          “The One True Narrative” is EXACTLY how my current DM functions. When asked, he says all the right advice about how it isn’t him vs the party, that you have to make sure the players have choices, etc etc, but when it comes to the game he will literally remove a door from behind us so we go the direction he wants us to. Combined with his tendency to power game so that you have to battle optimally or risk death (although he won’t actually kill anyone, which takes all the suspense out of the game and just makes difficult battles feel obnoxious, not dramatic) it’s just a very linear path sometimes, haha.

          I’m super excited to try another play-by-post! I got involved in one for a month or two and then the DM got busy at work and had to back out, but I loved it for those couple months. I also have a friend who’s wanted to play for a while but never has the time, but he thinks he could manage a paragraph every couple days so he’s in. So I’m holding onto hope that I can make this work – and should probably go get started figuring out my campaign to do so, ha!

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My husband and I call it railroading… if it starts happening, one of us will mutter to the other a very quiet chugga-chugga train sound, and the other will try not to bust out laughing.

          2. Minocho*

            Oooooh, yeah, I had one of these. This GM would always wax poetic about wanting to give us freedom and choice, and how he wanted our choices to matter, but then he set up the game like a video game rpg – there is a choice tree, but there are a discreet number of choices, and you WILL choose one of the ones he’s decided is available, not something else. The one time we absolutely refused to follow one of the pre-scripted available choices, our characters were punished and lost abilities and all allies. I was…not impressed by that.

            For me, the joy of the game is the fact that the GM has infinite options in how they make the world and situation react to player choices. I run pre-made adventures, but I heavily rewrite them as players express interest in other directions.

    4. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      I am in three games, two Pathfinder and 1 5e! The two Pathfinder ones are long distance using Roll20 – we have people from both coasts and even Canada, and that’s a lot of fun. One of them is a homebrew game that’s got us doing epuc level stuff at level 6 (and it’s taken us 3 years to hit 6 XD). The other is Rise of the Runelords – we just started book 3.

      The 5e game is played IRL irregularly and it is also homebrew. Its an evil campaign, but we spent most of the time so far in prison (when we hadn’t done anything yet!), but we recently escaped and are figuring out where we need to go next. XD

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Oooh, fun!! I do like Roll20 for online campaigns! The DM of the last campaign we played using it didn’t like it for all these extremely obscure reasons that didn’t quite stick in my mind, but it wasn’t things that I noticed during play.

        YAY for homebrew games! There has never been a system or game that my group and I didn’t mod somehow during play. You just gotta go with the storytelling and system needs of the actual playgroup, ya know? (MAYBE Amber Diceless we didn’t modify.)

        I love that it took you 3 years to hit 6 level!! To me, the fun of games is when you’re low level and clawing your way up and just trying to survive and are constantly in over your head and need to keep your wits about you! 3-5 is my sweet spot for D&D/Pathfinder type games.

    5. Stormfeather*

      Sounds like a great way to segue into Spelljammer TBH, if they ever bring that out for 5e (or your DM wants to homebrew a conversion from the old rules).

      I don’t currently have any face-to-face games going on since I do almost all my socializing via the internet these days, but I’m in two internet games, one using Fantasy Grounds on Steam, the other using roll20.net. One is the latest in a sort of series of campaigns we’ve done with one general group of friends that were run by first one person, then another, with each of the DMs having played in the other campaign(s). The current campaign is a game where the world is created by the DM but uses a lot of the various dungeons or whatever that are pre-published, and oddly enough also involves the planes starting to fragment and bleed into each other, and we JUST made it out of one such accidental jaunt into another plane only to come back and find we may have ended up in the future…? Or something. Or maybe just ended up elsewhere on the home plane than we thought we did. My character is a female aasimar who is a cavalier subclass fighter, and all the characters I think have died at least once, but the DM was merciful since we were just starting out. Not sure if he’d give us any more freebies at this point.

      The other campaign is the second I’ve been in run by a different DM, and most of the players are different except for the one who was the first DM in the other series of campaigns (he brought me over when I was interesting in playing more, and they needed more players). The first one was also a created-by-him campaign that involved illithids almost having taken over the plane and us fighting against them, and ended up with us getting shifted to another plane for a while (funny how that happens). The current one is actually just us going through the pre-made campaign Dragon Heist, with occasional extra things from him thrown in (plus we started out via another low-level adventure). My first character there was a female tiefling monk (way of the kensei), but this DM tends to be honestly pretty brutal in his encounters and she died alongside three of the other four characters, so we rolled randomly for new characters (fudging it slightly by giving ourselves two choices) and ended up all three rolling up new paladins and just running with it. Mine’s a female triton conquest paladin who has also died since, but the DM felt merciful and gave us a way to get a raise dead for her.

      *Cough* sorry, I may be a geeky type who ends up getting carried away talking about RPGs and such. >_>

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Ha, that is awesome!! Our games are spiritual cousins in so many ways! But man, those killer DMs… mine is relatively merciful with the challenges so far. Even the undead army I thought was going to kill the heck out of us turned out to be nothing we couldn’t whittle away at. So cool that you might be time travelling in the first one! And the second one– always wanted to play Dragon Heist! (I guess we’re heisting a dragon egg– does that count? ;-D)

        I would love nothing more dearly than for this game to segue into a 5e homebrew Spelljammer! I am crossing all my fingers and toes for that to happen!! Spelljammer and general Astral Plane ramblings are things I’ve always wanted to play but have never gotten to.

        Ha, just feel free to geek out about RPGs any time!!! I love it!

    6. Angwyshaunce*

      Playing a Pathfinder campaign at the moment. I play a wizard, so I wood-worked a “spell book” (book-shaped box with hinged front cover). Every spell I learn, I create an index card with all relevant info, that goes into the box. When it comes time to select spells, I just take out those index cards. No longer any need to write which spells I’ve memorized, nor to look up a spell in the book. So much fun!

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        OMG, that is SO COOL!! I lllllllllllove props for RPGs!! I made a full deck of Trumps complete with card box for an Amber Diceless campaign, but I never ever thought about making a “spell book” box!! That is the best idea ever, because spells and magic are THE biggest pain in the butt to keep organized for any RPG system, and you’ve really cracked it by having index cards!

        May I utterly steal this idea for my V:tM character, who has a ridiculous number of Thaumaturgical rituals after 14 years of play…?

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Ha, my comment got stuck in moderation for having too many enthusiastic caps and exclamation points. Your spell book idea is awesome and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

        1. Angwyshaunce*

          Thank you! Yes, you should definitely try it! If making a book-shaped box is not your thing, I’ve seen them before in craft stores.

    7. Nott the Brave*

      My husband runs a weekly Pathfinder game for me and two of our friends. It’s set in our world, 500 years after an Event caused magic to spill into the world at large. We’re about a year into our exploration of the lost Island of Oahu, and just started ousting the shapeshifters that have been infiltrating our villiage.

      Slightly off-topic, but I just got to see The Adventure Zone love on Wednesday. I’ve rarely laughed so hard in all my life!

    8. Amethystmoon*

      I play in a couple of RPGs on Fantasy Grounds weekly. If you’re not familiar with Fantasy Grounds, it’s essentially a computer system for running table top games online. You still roll dice and have adventure cards, for those games with adventure cards. It allows D&D, Pathfinder, and a bunch of other things. There are quite a few games that were developed with the Savage Worlds ruleset. I’ve played Star Trek on it. Currently, I am in a 2e group on Wednesday nights and a Delta Green game on Sunday nights.

    9. The Half Elf*

      Currently playing Savage Worlds. Our GM anticipates that our current campaign will finish up first couple months of next year and then my bf will be DMing a 5e game: Ghosts of Salt Marsh.

    10. LizB*

      I’m DMing a 5e campaign with my three siblings, who are all playing different subclasses of rogue. I’ve been struggling a bit because they don’t RP very much, and so they keep zooming through my prepped material way faster than I expect them to. I think I’m finally getting the hang of throwing in enough riddles and logic puzzles to slow them down, though, and they’re getting more and more comfortable with the RP side of things, so we’ll hit a good balance eventually.

      1. Minocho*

        Keep throwing opportunities at them. If they get attached or intrigued by anything, use that as a hook to encourage RPing. You can encourage the RP by adding as much first person RPing as you’re able (voice changes for different NPCs, having their action elicit reactions that you demonstrate).

        I started out as a numbers based player. I’m a software developer and I love math and systems design, so that was the first thing I focused on. But as I got comfortable with the numbers and rules, I really began to work on the RP experience. I”m still working on it, but I needed the numbers nailed down to move forward.

        Keep having fun!!!

    11. Minocho*

      I’m the GM for a Pathfinder (1st edition) game, but I”ll go on a short hiatus to allow another player to GM for a bit, and he wants to try out Pathfinder 2e.

      I’m also a player in a D&D 5e game (which just introduced time travel to save the world by jumping through Stargates powered by dragon magic. Whee!), and when that campaign is finished, I”m planning to run a Pathfinder adventure path I LOVE, converted to D&D 5e.

      I’m the kind of player that loves complicated rules and all the fiddly bits. I’ve played a lot of D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder 1E and love the complicated options available, so I was worried about D&D 5e being enjoyable enough, but it’s really grown on me. I tend to build only certain characters when I play 5E, because I like the complicated stuff, but it’s really a well designed system – allows the freedom for roleplay to be central, simple enough to be approachable for new players, but with enough room for complexity that I can let my nerd side out too. I played an illusionist in my first 5e game, because there’s a lot there to manage and it requires a certain…flexibility of thought, and it was super fun! And now I”m a Hexblade / Paladin (going Hexblade/Paladin/Sorceror soon because…resource management fun!).

      1. NewGuy*

        Pathfinder will always be my first love… but I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of Pathfinder 2e. I played through some test versions before the official was released, and felt it lost a lot of what made Pathfinder special.

        I only got into 5e recently, but like you, I had a lot more fun than I expected! It definitely gives the whole game a more relaxed feel than pathfinder does.

        Hexblade/Paladin sounds really epic. Good luck with your games!

    1. Anon Here*

      Stately. He looks like he’s about to announce that he’s running for president, which would be welcome as far as I’m concerned.

      (Delete if too political.)

  3. Lemonish*

    Looking for recommendations for graphic novels for a soon-to-be 9 year old.

    He loves Usagi, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, Dog Man. He really enjoys complex stories (he listens to Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Trilogy books in the car with his dad), so I’m fine with stuff that isn’t purposely made for kids as long as it’s not too sexy or violent.

    Thank you!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Check out Ursula Vernon’s stuff – the Dragonbreath series and the Hamster Princess series. They’re a mix of graphics and text, aimed at a middle school age.

      I haven’t actually read them, just browsed them, but they look fun. I thoroughly enjoy her adult books written as T. Kingfisher.

      1. OtterB*

        I came to recommend Ursula Vernon Dragonbreath and Hamster Princess also. Her Digger might work if he likes complex stories. It is for adults but neither sexy nor overly violent. It is, however, more intense and there is some violence.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I love Ursula Vernon and T. Kingfisher, and second the Dragonbreath and Hamster Princess, but Digger is adult / late teens. The domestic violence subplot is not for kids, especially in its resolution.

          I handed my kid _The Cartoon History of The Universe_ when he was 7, and he’s read it through twice. He didn’t understand some of it, but it’s funny and true.

          I also like the Avatar the Last Airbender comics (set right after the series), there’s at least 5 of those now, every bit as good as the series (and if he hasn’t seen that, it’s the best). I love Rothfuss’s first Kingkiller and the 2nd was still good, but am SO frustrated waiting for #3. EIGHT YEARS. arrrrrrrgggghhh

          5th grade, little jules had to read a WWII book for school, so I handed him Maus, he asked for the second volume (which I just found, thanks to looking at my collection for this – thanks!). I had a hard time with both the book and Maus, but he hasn’t seemed phased.

          Not graphic novels, but my GN loving kid is trying different things: at 10yo, he really liked _Dragon’s Egg_, by Robert L Forward – hard sci fi, one of the best. Have not been able to get him to start any Vernor Vinge, I think the size is intimidating him. I should hand him some Miles Vorkosigan.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Yeah, hard to get into any more detail without major spoilers, but whew, that was not for kids.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        We just picked up manga versions, which look good but might be a little challenging for 9yos (right to left format)

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          That’s what my kid has. The format strikes me as an affectation for an American edition, but the kid hasn’t had any problem with it. She would probably reject it if it were something she wasn’t really into, but given that she is motivated, she picked it right up.

    2. Hi there*

      That was a fun age! Maybe Bone? Timmy Failure was also a hit around the same time as the books you listed, and I thought those were hilarious. If it does not have to be graphic the Warriors series about a cat society in the forest (by Erin Hunter) is probably in your future.

      1. Clisby*

        Absolutely second the Bone series. My husband, daughter, and son all really liked it. It was the first thing my son voluntarily read just for his own pleasure, when he was 8 – he heard his sister and father talking about it, read the first book, and then read all the rest of the series over a summer. I haven’t read it, but it clearly appeals to a wide range of ages.

    3. I edit everything*

      My soon-to-be-10 son likes Rick Riordan’s stuff. There are graphic novels of his Percy Jackson series.

    4. Curly sue*

      My kid of that age with similar reading tastes is All About all the various Minecraft books – there are strategy guides, but also illustrated novels. I don’t know if there are graphic novel versions of any Gordon Korman books, but his middle-grade novels (especially the Macdonald Hall series) have hit the sweet spot for gentle/madcap comedy.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        _Diary of an 8 Bit Warrior_ is on my kid’s shelf, below Bone and above all the Vernons. It’s better than _Wimpy Kid_ to me, if I was a parent to Rodrick, he would have… some different consequences, shall we say.

        _Nurk_ is an early Vernon stand alone, nice and quirky and age appropriate.

        1. Sarah*

          I was scrolling to see if anyone had recommended the Amulet series, but our family of adult, 12 yo, and 9yo all liked it.

      1. Jaydee*

        Another vote for Amulet! My son devoured them last year (8yo) and claimed them as his favorite series ever and the series that really made him like reading.

    5. Graphic Novels*

      My 10 year old son inhales books so I can’t say he’s particularly selective in his book choices but I think the below books are also popular among his classmates. For graphic novels he is currently enjoying the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series. He has also liked the Amulet (Kazu Kibuishi), The Last Kids on Earth (Max Brallier), and The Bad Guys (Aaron Blabey). The Bad Guys books are pretty short (they are like candy, my son will finish them in less than 30 minutes) but he finds them very funny and will often reread them.

      On a kind of different theme, he has also enjoyed el Deafo by Cece Bell and several of Raina Telgemeir’s graphic novels (Smile, Guts) which are stories about the authors growing up.

    6. Other Meredith*

      I’ve had a lot of success with Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, which are graphic novels about historical figures and events. A few examples-the Donner party, Harriet Tubman, the Alamo. They’re very funny but also you learn a lot. I personally love them, and the kids at the library have liked them a lot too. Appropriate for older kids and teens.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I second these, my 10 yr old daughter loves them!

        The Last Kids on Earth series is pretty engaging too – not a true graphic novel but heavy on the illustrations.

    7. fposte*

      Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl and Mighty Jack series are both great; Sara Varon is excellent in just about everything; Judd Winick’s Hilo books are winners; Chad Sell’s The Cardboard Kingdom is cool; Eric Orchard’s Maddy Kettle books are fun witchy fantasies. There’s also some great graphic-novel format nonfiction by people like Don Brown if that’s something that he might be interested in.

    8. Hi there*

      There are a lot of good recommendations in this thread. I am going to have to check out Ursula Vernon and T. Kingfisher. Also, the big hardbacks of the Complete Calvin and Hobbes are great.

    9. Sh’Dynasty*

      Robin Hobbs full collection is great- adult themed, great story lines, no sex. The original trilogy would be a perfect start since you follow the main character thru childhood. Since they’re actual books, may want to look into audiobooks too.

    10. Sarah*

      My son read the text version of the Wings of Fire series and loved it, but a younger friend of his is reading the graphic novel version and really likes it as well.

    11. weird magnet*

      Lumberjanes – a group of girls at a summer camp where cryptids show up

      All of Art Balthazar’s stuff is pretty great – I’ve given Tiny Titans to younger cousins before.

    12. Nita*

      A few I can think of off the top of my head – Geronimo Stilton series (they may be a little too kiddie, but you never know), I Am Neil Armstrong, Red’s Planet.

    13. Traffic_Spiral*

      Hm… Girl Genius (available in print and/or online) is pretty fun. There’s a few kissing scenes, but nothing too much. Ranma 1/2 is also silly kid fun, with slapstick kungfu violence and practically no kissing, but *does* show cartoon boobs (but mainly in a ‘LOL, the guy that turns into a girl doesn’t care about wearing shirts’ way), so… that might or might not work for you.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not graphic novels, but if he liked the Rothfuss, it’s up his alley:
      ‘The Ranger’s Apprentice’ series by John Flanagan. I’ll throw in ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ by Garth Nix.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznic IS a graphic novel–just so big I forget.

    15. Damien*

      How about some of Terry Pratchett’s books? He’s done some for kids of various ages, and even his most “adult” books contain a bit of mild language and that’s about it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Some of them get more serious–Wintersmth for example. And good omens is a bit older than 9!

    16. Lemonish*

      Holy cow! You’ve all totally come through on these recommendations. Thank you so much. I am going to take some time to compile a list. Looks like my kid is going to get some great reads for his birthday and Christmas.

  4. Shiny Flygon*

    Haven’t done a Pokémon Go thread in a few weeks and it’s the community day today, so hi! Caught anything good recently? Have you beaten Arlo? (If so OH MY GOD TELL ME HOW. I’ve beaten Cliff but cannot beat Arlo to save my life!) Have you got an unova stone yet? I play daily and quite heavily and still not had a single one. Did you pay for the Regigigas event? Was it worth it for you? I didn’t, long story.

    Oh, and I caught my first durant on Tuesday and accidentally transferred it. I’m gutted.

    1. WS*

      I don’t have a Unova stone either! My girlfriend does, and we usually play everything together, so I think it’s just chance at this time. I’m sorry about your durant, how annoying!

      1. Shiny Infernape*

        Yeah it’s just chance isn’t it? I’m glad there are other unova-stone-free people out there though.
        Thank you!

    2. LGC*

      I’ve been off for the past couple of weeks – I broke my phone running the NYC Marathon (yes, you can carry an iPhone 7 in an arm sleeve for 26.2 miles, but put it in a bag first), and then this week was chaotic.

      I have so much I need to get caught up on, though! I haven’t taken on the Go Rocket team leaders yet at all.

        1. LGC*

          I did last week! I was slightly upset because I lost whatever turn-in value I had, but I was getting myself an iPhone 11 anyway.

    3. MinotJ*

      I somehow got 2 Unova stones soon after they appeared, and I didn’t appreciate them because I figured they were going to be as common as King’s Rocks. Now I know I just got lucky.

      My frustration lately is that I only have one Pokémon friend IRL, and I don’t want to rely on her for every new research task that requires trading and battling. I have over 30 long–distance friends, so if any of you want to randomly battle me, I’ll say “yes” if I happen to be playing right then, especially on my “weekend” (Tuesday/Wednesday). Otherwise, I’ve just given up on special research.

      I haven’t battled any of the Rocket leaders yet, but I have bookmarked a few pages explaining which Pokémon to use for each of them.

    4. Cruciatus*

      I’ll be doing Community Day in a bit. Not excited they then added ANOTHER HOUR for the Galarian Weezing raids right after CD. I have no interest in being outside at 30° for 4 hours. Why’d they spring it on us last second? Why not have it, say, next weekend?

      I am level 40, but apparently a lot of my Pokemon are not a high enough level to beat the Team Rocker Leaders. I did beat Cliff once but it was by the skin of my (Pokemon’s) teeth! I was reading a bit and it looks like level 30 pokemon are the ones to use in these battles. So I’ve been looking at common pokemon used for these Leader battles and have been powering them up and blowing through alllll the stardust I had just earned from that last event. Goodbye, a million pieces of stardust!

      If anyone doesn’t know how to tell what level your Pokemon are, there are calculators out there. I use an app called Pokegenie which I think is easier for android than iPhones). It will also tell you how good that Pokemon’s IV is, etc. by taking a screenshot of your pokemon and giving you the stats.

      I do have one Unova stone from doing the weekly research. I’ve been holding on to it until I get really good pokemon to evolve it with. I have enough Panpours but they are all just awful. I only want to use the stone for something worthwhile!

      1. Shiny Infernape*

        I know right? We got so very lucky on shinies so I was glad to get home before 2pm. No way was I going to stand outside for another hour, my coat had already soaked through :( even tomorrow would have been better than today!

        I presume that at some point they’ll have something like the swinub community Day when you can get a load of unova stones one weekend but I can’t wait until then!!

        Also level 40. I’ve beat Cliff a couple of times but cannot beat Arlo and now I’m at the stage where I need to for the special research :( think I’m gonna have to do the same with stardust and power up all the way. No charge TMs either which I think I might need :(

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      >accidentally transferred
      Oh I’m so sorry! I did that early on with my first Snorlax, and I’m embarrassed to admit I felt sick to my stomach.

    6. Arts Akimbo*

      I missed the event entirely by leaving my house at 2:30. I was so sad! Not a straggling Chimchar in sight!

  5. Orange You Glad*

    When I watch shows/films that have intense scary soundtracks to build tension…I mute them.

    I’ve watched entire horror films muted with subtitles because otherwise it’s too much and I’ll have nightmares!

    Do you do this? Am I the only one?

    (Bonus question: why is that music SO SCARY?! It’s amazing to me how different it is with vs without the sound!)

    1. valentine*

      I can’t watch scary movies anymore and it’s mostly the music. Sometimes it plays on non-horror stuff and I’m like, “Thanks for creeping me out, composer. But why? Why does it have to be so good?”

    2. Lena Clare*

      Yes! Or rather…I don’t watch horror films at all because I hate to be scared and the music is a huge part of that.
      But I very often will mute TV programmes I’m watching to cut out the music and just watch it with the subtitles instead.
      Sometimes the music is too atmospheric and therefore distracting.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      I read an article about the use of infrasound and how it skeeves us out and produces feelings of dread. I regularly mute shows to get past a scene because I can’t handle the buildup.

      I also get embarrassed for characters so socially awkward situations get me too. Scotts Tots =total cringe

      1. A few things are nice*

        This is me! It really helped me feel more normal when I discovered there is a word for getting embarrassed for the characters – “fremdschamen”. (There may be an umlaut in there).

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        OMG, I just have to fast-forward through the Scotts Tots episode! Sometimes I watch the B story but usually I just skip it.

    4. Majestik Moose*

      Oh yes. That’s totally me. Otherwise, I get horrifically vivid dreams that are part movie-world, part something-my-mind-conjured-from nothing.

    5. Caterpie*

      Similar, but I used to play horror video games with the music turned off and Taylor Swift playing instead. Totally made them playable, even by myself in the dark.

    6. Queer Earthling*

      My sister doesn’t watch horror movies anymore, but sound is a huge trigger for her anxiety. She even covers her ears during tense moments in otherwise chill/non-scary movies, as a reflex. So yeah, not just you!

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ooh ooh there is an awesome video about why music sounds scary! I’ll post it in a comment below. It’s only five minutes long, and you should totally check out their other videos too!

      They go all into how music evokes feelings or tells stories, and a ton of awesome and fascinating things about music theory that we all experience but usually never think about. Two of my favorites are “How Pixar Uses Music to Make You Cry” and “ How Disney Uses Langauge”.

      1. Nessun*

        That is awesome! I admit, it’s always the music that gets me – moments that others aren’t crying at have me bawling because of the soundtrack. I kinda love that though. I find it cathartic.

    8. Gaia*

      So, I can’t tolerate suspense building scenes. I usually fast forward through them. Even scenes that are in cars where you just know a crash is coming. Or, like you mention, where the music is building to something.

      I can watch the actual scene where the thing happens, but not leading up to it. It is a weird quirk of my anxiety.

      1. lasslisa*

        I kind of think suspense is mean. Like someone is telling you a story and someone else is prancing around jeering, “ooooh, a bad thing’s gonna happen! It’s gonna happen! It’s gonna be bad!” And I want to like, cartoon-neck-grab the heckler and be like “ENOUGH.”

        Modern film does much more active emotional yanking than okay classic movies do, and I like them for that reason. Let me feel the feeling of the *story* and don’t try to Technicolor paint over my actual emotions with some clumsily intense feels track.

      2. lilsheba*

        What I can’t handle is visuals, especially when it comes to things like someone is on a ledge and about to fall off, or hanging from a helicopter about to fall off, or walking on a rickety bridge about to fall off, you get the idea. I HATE HATE HATE those and they trigger my anxiety and ocd really bad, the obsessive thoughts part.

      3. Tau*

        I have this problem, plus the problem with embarrassment, plus problems with scenes involving violence. At some point in my early twenties this ballooned to the point where I can no longer watch any TV or movies at all, beyond like… maybe cooking shows. If they’re not too exciting.

        The most annoying part is when I need to explain to someone why I don’t have a favourite movie or can’t remember any video-based advertisement at all.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I haven’t done this for the reason you gave, but now that I’m aware of it, I’ll probably do it in the future. I do find that often I’ll mute my TV just because. I have it set up to show closed captioning and that seems fine for most shows.

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I hate scary movies!! I also hate any movie where there are sudden loud noises or people/things randomly popping out. I often read all the spoilers about movies before I see them to make sure I know what’s coming.

    11. Ludo*

      I don’t do that with movies but I do it with scary YouTube videos

      I agree it’s the sound that makes it scary

    12. Salymander*

      I don’t watch horror movies at all, but I do this with other shows/movies when the music gets to be too much.

    13. LilySparrow*

      One of my kids is like this – responds far more intensely to the music than the visuals. It’s just the way she’s wired.

    14. PartyTyme Brand Yohimbine-Rohypnol Injection*

      I do music production as a hobby. Seriously, you turn the music off because it scares you?! What a waste.

      That stuff about ‘infrasound’ is largely jive, IMHO. You’ll need a pretty good sound system to get anything from it. The one article quotes Gaspar Noé and recommends his movie Irreversible? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that most of the people in askamanager.com won’t enjoy that movie, and not because of the sound work.

      The following videos go into a bit of music theory but do a nice job of laying out some pragmatic basics:

      How to Imitate a Whole Lot of Hollywood Film Music In Four Easy Steps

      https://youtu.be/YSKAt3pmYBs

      How to Imitate Even More Closely a Whole Lot of Hollywood Film Music with One More Easy Step

      https://youtu.be/W1DK4m2tuiw

      But today you don’t even need to know lots of theory. Check out the audio / video samples for the following software instruments:

      NI Thrill

      https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/cinematic/thrill/

      NI Straylight

      https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/synths/straylight/

      Note that these allow you to make high-quality ‘cinematic’ music by dragging your finger / mouse pointer around in real-time.

      One of the better examples of ‘real’ music in a horror film is the soundtrack to the movie It Follows. The first 5 minutes or so are an amazing piece of film-work.

      Finally, if you’ve never seen Hans Zimmer’s studio, it’s worth a peek:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=hans+zimmer+studio

    15. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      One time years ago I was watching something with an intense scary soundtrack to build tension, and my roommate’s dog burst into the room and ran up to the television to bark at it.

      Apparently the soundtrack did such a good job of selling the idea that monsters were afoot, that the dog bought in and started defending her house against the evil monsters in the TV.

    16. Lifesmpossible*

      I can totally relate.
      That being said, I totally want to recommend A Quiet Place. One reason I love that movie is because it has to rely on building tension and suspension without the noise (and when the noise does come in, it’s completely jarring because it seems out of place). It’s just a different type of horror with other beautiful subplots.

  6. AcademiaNut*

    I’m wondering about people’s experience with bifocals.

    I’ve worn distance glasses since a kid (with a moderate prescription). Now my reading vision is getting worse (age related). I can still read comfortably without glasses, but I can’t read *through* my regular glasses without getting eye strain, which is a problem when I’m at meetings and need to use my laptop and see the screen. I’m a heavy reader, and work on a computer all day.

    Any advice or suggestions? How well do bifocals work with computers?

    1. Lizabeth*

      I have trifocals and usually read without glasses being near sighted. A friend recommended when I first got them to get a prescription for single vision “computer distance only” and I have never regretted getting them. Much easier than to try constantly to find the sweet spot with the trifocals! Yes, it can be a pain to switch back and forth as needed but I usually have my tris on top of my head and use a glass strap on the computer ones to let them hang around my neck. Good luck!

      1. OtterB*

        I got progressive lenses several years ago after needing distance lenses all my life. I also had to get a computer distance pair of glasses because I was making my neck hurt tilting my head up to look at the computer screen through the lower part of the glasses. It did take a little adjustment but works great. The brain is marvelous about learning to interpret visual input.

        1. Hi there*

          I have progressives also and just keep my head at a particular angle when working on the computer. I have to adjust when I do the standing desk but no big deal.

    2. Nerdgal*

      I have no line bifocals. I use a computer frequently and so far they work okay. They just take a few days to get used to them. But if I ever need computer glasses I will probably get a dedicated pair like Lizabeth.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      If you get traditional bifocals, they will drive you crazy for a week or two, as you constantly look through the line dividing the two lenses. Then your brain will adjust, and you won’t notice it. There are more expensive versions without the line. I have never tried them, as the line doesn’t bother me.

      As for reading, I got a new prescription a few months back. My distance vision was nearly unchanged, but my close vision had shifted. The new prescription made all the difference. Reading suddenly was easy again. It is totally worth the cost.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Fortunately glasses are pretty cheap where I live. I’m used to paying about $150 US for single vision, including frames and exam.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve always been super nearsighted, but in the last few years, I’ve hit the point where anything within about the 18-36” range is too near to see with my glasses and too far to see without, and anything less than that I just take off my glasses anyway and hold close. (My husband jokes that I’m going to have a hard time explaining to my doctor how I managed to pierce my own nose with an embroidery needle while stitching.) I asked at my last eye exam if bifocals were in my near future (pun not intended) and the doc said no, not yet, I just need to make sure I remember where I put my glasses when I take them off for now. Apparently I need a more significant “problem range” before bifocals become the solution.

    5. NeverNicky*

      My bifocals, once I got the right prescription, were game changing.

      I’d not been reading much (and I used to read 150+ a year) or doing needlework because I couldn’t see well enough with my distance glasses but not wearing my glasses tired my eyes.

      Mine are set so the upper lens works for my computer stuff – I have a big desk with monitors well set back – and now work fine for distance and TV unless I need detail (like bus numbers in the city) and the lower for reading. There is a line but my brain almost immediately got to grips with that (possibly because my old lenses were scratched!)

      And my old hobbies are fun again. Now I just need more time!

    6. Usually Lurks*

      Like others I’ve got progressives (trifocals) for regular use but also a specific pair for computer use — mine aren’t single vision but rather progressive bifocals. They still have the reading prescription on the bottom part, but the middle and top are the middle distance (~30″) that is usually just in the middle of the full progressives. They make an enormous difference. When I first got progressives I didn’t really need help with reading but I did need help with the transition from screen to looking at closer papers (eye doctor calls it accommodation). Pretty much immediately eliminated the mid-afternoon eyestrain problems I was having. The computer bifocal version handles that issue and also avoids the neck strain of trying to hold your head to use the skinny middle section of the full progressives. I can see distance well enough with them to walk around the office, etc, so I mostly wear them all day at work and don’t have a lot of switching.

    7. Asenath*

      Tried progressives, hated them, and now get by with three single-prescription pairs – distance, reading and computer – and often not bothering with them at all if I’m reading something reasonably close, like a computer screen. I’ve been quite nearsighted all my life – I still remember my first pair of glasses and how sharp and clear everything was with them, so I have always been pro-glasses. But I always seemed to be looking through the wrong bit of the bifocals or progressives or whatever they were, having to hold my head at an odd angle, and if I did get the right angle, I soon had to move my head because it seemed like my eyes ran out of the proper bit of lens as I read on. It really spoiled the experience of reading, one of my great pleasures, and using the computer, both for pleasure and work. I must have had them for about two years, too, because I couldn’t afford to replace them until the time required by my insurance company had passed. Then I got two pairs, distance and reading, on one of those 2-for-1 deals, and later added in a special computer pair. Most people seem to adjust quite happily to progressives; I didn’t and disliked them so much I am not interested in giving them another try.

      1. Elder Dog*

        I had that problem when glasses styles were all small lenses. I broke my glasses sitting on them, got larger lenses, and no more problems.

        There’s a lot of little stuff that makes a difference.
        Lens size, if they got the lenses centered right (if the PD is off, you’ll never get used to the lenses) and put them on first thing in the morning and you’ll adjust faster.

    8. Fikly*

      I first started noticing problems with computers as well.

      I ended up with progressives, and so so happy with them! Depending on how early you’ve caught this, the actual difference in the correction you need for distance versus computer may not be very big, and most progressives start with a moderate difference. Not all eyeglass shops know this, but there are a few makers who make progressives that do accommodate mild differences, and that’s what I use. So make sure to ask about that as an option, if your exam shows that it’s not a huge difference. Even a mild difference can still cause problems/eye strain for some, and clearly you are having problems!

      The nice thing about progressives, also, versus bifocals, is that they naturally work at a variety of focal points. I need three primary focal points – distance, my computer, and my cross stitching. My progressives work for all of them.

      There are also lens coatings that are aimed at computer screens. I don’t know if this is part of your eye strain, but it might be worth trying.

      Also, whether you try bifocals or progressives, there can be a big adjustment brain wise for some, while others adjust immediately. It’s normal to be either way, but if you don’t adjust after a week, go back and request different lenses, and any reputable place will not charge you for the change. It’s expected that this just happens sometimes.

    9. Ambrianne*

      I started wearing glasses for distance when I was four and switched to contacts in high school. When my close-up vision started to go at forty, my eye doctor backed off the distance to 20/25 or so and that put off the inevitable for a couple of years. Now I wear bifocal contacts and they work great. It takes some adjustment, like a month.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Explain to me how bifocal contacts work? I can’t get my head around this – is the reading portion marked somehow so you know that has to go on the bottom of your eye when you’re inserting them?

        I’m similar to you, got glasses at 8, now nearsighted AF, and in my late 40s am having trouble with reading and close crafting work. Limping along with a pair of cheapass readers from CVS for now – which do help, but they make me kind of nauseated, especially while reading on public transport.

        1. Contacts*

          See the link below for an explanation of how bifocal and multifocal contacts work. I wore multifocal lenses for several years and was pleased with how they corrected my vision (it’s worsened and they aren’t an option for me right now). I can’t speak to the bifocal experience, but with multifocals, there wasn’t a right-side-up or upside-down.

          https://www.allaboutvision.com/contacts/bifocals.htm

        2. Dancing Otter*

          I had bifocals, but realized they spent more time on top of my head than on my nose. They just weren’t worth the cost for me. That was about fifteen years ago.

          My eye doctor suggested one contact with full distance correction and the other for close-up. Supposedly, your brain adjusts quickly. Yeah, I’ll pass on that, thanks.

          We settled on contacts for distance and readers over them: not the ultra-cheap ones, but call them the top of the line at the drugstore. Since the contacts already took care of the astigmatism, I didn’t need expensive readers, but there can be quality issues at the very lowest price point.

          That worked for several years, but when I retired I realized I just wasn’t putting the contacts in until I needed to go out somewhere, so I switched to glasses only for distance. Apparently, my astigmatism isn’t strong enough to keep me from threading needles or reading or using the tablet/laptop.

          I’m back where I started 50+ years ago.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I was really surprised at how seamless the transition was. I expected lots of nausea and trouble adjusting, yet the only times I even noticed were laying way back on the couch watching a movie and running in the woods–in both cases, I was looking through the bottom of the lens which is adjusted for close reading and so blurry for things farther away.

      I am on a laptop all the time and bifocals work fine.

    11. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I use progressives and like them. It took my brain a few days to adjust to the first pair, but it’s been smooth sailing since.

      One piece of non-obvious advice: be careful walking *down* stairs for those first few days. I worked out a subway route to and from home that had me walking only *up* stairs, which was in reverse of what most people would want, but felt (and likely was) safer. (This was a couple of decades ago, when the New York subway had even fewer elevators than it does now.)

    12. OperaArt*

      I have progressive lens. They don’t work well for a large screen if I’m going to be looking at it for more than a few minutes. I have to move my head around too much in order to focus. So I also have a much cheaper pair of computer glasses for work.

    13. Kuododi*

      I’ve been on bifocals for about 10-15 yrs. It has been a positive in the past however the past couple of years, I have found myself taking my glasses off to read small print. Grrrrr I am hoping this is part of the joy of aging. Best regards

    14. Pamela Adams*

      I have trifocals- the middle range is my computer glasses. I had bifocals for years before that. I even had them as a kid. Your eyes and brain quickly learn the trick, so you don’t have to consciously use them.

    15. Not So Little My*

      Look into “office lenses”. They’re a special type of progressive lens that is designed for working with computers. I still switch back and forth between my office glasses and my regular daily wear progressive glasses, but your mileage may vary.

    16. Not A Manager*

      I love my progressive lenses. They do take a little getting used to, so give them time and be sure that your doctor has instructed you on how to adjust to them.

    17. No fan of Chaos*

      Put your glasses on and sit like you usually do in front of the computer. Take a marker and mark a small line on each glasses lens above where you look through at your computer. I used a fine line nonpermanent marker. Now do some reading and typing on the computer and see if that would be a comfortable place to have a line. Then go drive your car and see if you can easily see over the line. If you let the optician set the line, it will be too high or too low. Good luck.

      1. Earthwalker*

        Yes, this. I’ve been in bifocals for fifty years since I was in middle school. (Loved them then and still do.) I’m a fan of line bifocals because no lens space is wasted on partway-between near and far. When I go to the optometrist I have to show him how far away the computer is from my eyes so that he prescribes the right correction, and then show the optician where the line should be, as No Fan of Chaos says. Good line placement means you don’t have to tilt your head at an odd angle to read the screen or drive the car. With trifocals you can park a closer-up book-reading or sewing lens below the computer lens. I tried it and found that for me having both computer and book lenses made them so narrow that I had to nod up and down to use either, so I gave up the book lens. One gotcha on using the bottom lens of bifocals for the computer, though: you’ll want the line higher than for a book reading lens, and some opticians who are good at placing a book lens will balk at putting the line that high. Bringing the laptop to your appointment (if you use its onboard screen) may help to demonstrate.

    18. LilySparrow*

      I am similar with lifelong nearsightedness and recent age-related farsightedness.

      I got progressives about six months ago, and they’re great. You can even get the kind for far, middle, and near – some people use that for the computer.

      My normal vision is so bad, I need my regular prescription to see the computer screen. So I just got the 2-way.

      It took a couple of days to get used to positioning my head, but smooth sailing ever since. Can’t believe I put it off.

    19. lilsheba*

      I wore distance glasses my whole life. I could read fine with them on too, although I did get computer glasses about 20 years ago to make life looking at a screen all day easier. Then a few years back I needed bi focals. I hated them at first but I’ve forced myself to wear them and I’ve gotten used to them (only one eye is nearsighted so technically I can get along without them although not great). So now I have both pairs, the last set I got I got the same exact frame for both, but I can easily tell them apart, and I just switch them out as needed. I also started using a neck strap for them both, so I feel like an old lady now.

    20. Merci Dee*

      Been dealing with an astigmatism and the resulting nearsightedness and glasses since second grade. I noticed last year that I’d have to take my glasses off to do close-up things like painting my nails, etc., and talked to my eye doctor about it this year when I went for my annual exam. He said that bifocals weren’t a must-have for me yet, but that they could offer some I’ll improvement, so I got progressives….. and I’m not really impressed with them. Because of the multiple focus points on the lenses, I had to get frames that were wider than I preferred (I’d been getting slender rectangular frames to help balance out my round face and cheeks for years), and the lenses are thicker and heavier than my old glasses due to the extra magnification on the bottom portion. Those things are small potatoes, but I still find myself taking off my glasses for a better view of close-up work … do why did I spend almost double on these stupid things in the first place? I’m going to talk to the doc about going back to single vision lenses at my next appointment in January, and just keep going like I had been before, but without the extra divots the heavier glasses are digging into my nose.

      My old glasses, and my current ones too, have always been fine for computer work, hand writing, etc. It’s just the very close work between 6 to 8 inches away from my face that was ever the problem.

    21. Forrest Gumption*

      I have lined bifocals, because I could not tolerate the progressives. You really have to experiment to see what works for you. I also have a pair of computer glasses as well that I only use when I’m sitting at the computer. Like the other commentor said, yes it’s sometimes a pain to take glasses on and off but it’s better than trifocals, which would be a nightmare for me. Also lined bifocals work best if they are aligned so that the line is not right in the middle of your field of vision. It should ideally be a little bit low on your eye so that it doesn’t interfere with your distance vision.

    22. Life is Good*

      I tried progressives for work. I mostly look at stuff about a foot away and my monitors, which are arm’s length away. The “seeing area” on progressives is just too small for the close up work and I don’t like how you have to move your head back and forth to read. I tried tri-focals for work, to get three larger areas for seeing, but the mid-range was just too skinny to see the computer monitor easily. My solution is to have a pair of lined bifocals that stay on my desk. My progressives stay in my purse until I need them for the regular world. Good luck in your search for the solution.

    1. Chaordic One*

      I’ve always thought that the “Left Behind” books and movies were ripe for parody. I imagine an SNL type of skit where all of the uptight, judgemental, holier-than-thou kind of people disappear and…

      for those who are left behind, the world is a happier and better place without them.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        What if the opposite happened: all the good people disappeared and all the unhappy people were left on Earth? That would be an interesting plotline! (And it sounds more logical to me for some reason)
        I hope some fiction writer explores this idea.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Well, that’s pretty much what happened in the original “Left Behind” books and movies. Authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins have you covered.

    2. tessajanuary*

      I haven’t read the book yet (on my very long to read list), but the HBO show is fantastic. Specifically the second and third seasons.

    3. Anonymous scribe*

      “Have the Rapture already, and let the rest of us start working towards the Federation.”
      –The gospel according to St. Margie

  7. Lena Clare*

    BEST and WORST this week, and plans for this wkend?

    WORST: So, ugh, my boiler broke! I’ve been without heating or hot water since last Sunday. I’m having a new one fitted on Tuesday – so, not long to go now! – and I’m keeping warm with an electric heater, a hot water bottle, and blankets, and I’m showering at the gym.

    My house is so cold though! It’s amazing how much residual heat it retains just from the heating being on for a couple of hours a day! Now it’s been off for a week…oof, it’s like an ice box.

    BEST: I have an interview on Monday.

    I’m just off to the gym for a shower and then to so some chores. Not very exciting!
    Hope everyone stays warm and safe!

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Worst and Best: My latest foster doggo was adopted this week. It hurt more than I though it would but I know I can do it all over again.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Congrats! Court is on Monday for me. Not looking forward to it. Gathering all my documents this weekend to make sure I’m prepared. I was hoping they’d be out, but no luck. Hopefully we get a stipulated judgment and the move-out date is very soon. Once they’re out, the house goes back up for sale again.

          The relocation agency wouldn’t allow my in-laws to wait for the eviction to be done so they had to take a tiny apartment in a bad section of the city until their house is rehabbed from the fire damage. At least they’ll be there only six months or so, assuming it gets done on schedule. (Considering it was 100% gutted down to the studs because the damage was so bad, it seems like six months isn’t enough time.) So we’re back to the original plan of selling. Can’t wait to dump that house and never have to think about it again.

          1. CoffeeforLife*

            Sending you strength! I’m so glad we didn’t have to go to court for the eviction-they are full for several months out here and the wait would have been awful (and expensive).

            Six months does seem like a really short turn around for a full rebuild! During winter. I hope you are able to sell the rental for a profit!

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Thanks. The house being rehabbed is my in-law’s house, not the rental. The rental is our old house. We should have sold rather than renting it out when we moved. We’ll most certainly take a big loss, but I don’t care a this point–I just want it gone.

              1. CoffeeforLife*

                Sorry, two separate thoughts mushed in a paragraph and not clear :/ ! Best of luck on the sale.

          2. Observer*

            Actually, with a gut, 6 months is not so outrageous, as long as the contractors have their act together and you don’t have weather problems.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                Most definitely. We’re supposed to get hit hard this year. My in-laws are on the shoreline, though, so it trends milder. Hopefully the weather cooperates so they can get back into their home. I can’t imagine having already lived a few months in a hotel, and now a tiny apartment in a bad area of town.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Background: My goal for November was to write two 25 page papers and crochet 136 hexagons (blanket patches) by the 27th, because I’m leaving the morning of the 28th for vacation. (December goals, when I get back, will be one more similarly sized paper and finishing the hexagon blanket by sewing the hexagons together and crocheting a border, all before Christmas.)

      Best: I finished the last of the hexagons last night! All done!
      Worst: …. I still have 9 pages of one paper and 12 of the other to do, and now I can’t procrastinate them anymore by working on hexagons. :-P

    3. Sled dog mama*

      Worst #1: I was fired Monday for a completely bogus reason, lawyer I consulted agrees. Company has a scorched earth policy so I can’t talk to anyone I used to work with even to say goodbye. I do understand the HR escort out of the building, I had access that I could have seriously f-ed up things in the computer system if I wanted.
      Worst # 2: (actually happened last week) I found lumps on my dog’s belly, her cancer appears to be back. We knew this was coming because the type was super aggressive and known to recur even after chemo. Median survival for this type is 9-12 months (depends on which study you consult), and we’re at 16 months since diagnosis.

      Best: I got a call for an on the spot phone interview 5 hours after being fired and am interviewing with the company next week.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So sorry about your job and feel even worse about your dog. The timing here sucks.

        Fingers crossed that your interview goes well. You will have to let us know.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          Sending good interview karma for you and a wood from the doggone here fir you furbaby. So very hard….

    4. Jdc*

      Best: finally got a new AWD car on Thursday night. Got a great deal and met a great salesman. I was looking at another but was being treated like since I’m a woman i can’t possibly comprehend cars. Ugh. I worked in the industry for 15 years. I only paid $400 over my lowball I gave him. This salesman actually respected me. It’s so pretty and now I can feel safe in the snow not having a RWD which was fine in CA but obviously not so much in IL.

      I guess I have two bests because on Friday I went to a therapist. My husband took me because I was pretty much against it, I even almost walked out while waiting. I’m so glad I did though. It was just a get to know you but I really liked her. I don’t really have anything in depth to discuss that i could think of my doctor wanted it to help with my anxiety so I’ll give it a shot. Anything to help with the anxiety. Also how awesome is my husband to do things like take a couple hours off work to go with me so I feel more comfortable. He’s a great partner. Very grateful.

      Worst: I found out my ex got married (boyfriend of 15 years). I have zero desire to be with him, very happy but it was a slap to the face because he couldn’t commit to me for 15 years and married someone after a year. Not a totally rational feeling but it sure hurt my ego and made me feel even dumber for wasting so much time on that relationship. I have all social media of his and mutual friends so I don’t see it but one friend slipped through. He looked very handsome though and her dress was amazing. Truly gorgeous. I’d have married her in that dress! I love love long sleeve wedding dresses. I wish they weren’t so hard to find back in the day i was shopping.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Best: I got a medium good night of sleep last night, which is a minor miracle considering that I am Very Pregnant.

      Worst: everything else related to pregnancy, plus this damned sinus headache.

      1. Observer*

        Sinus headaches are the pits.

        Try steaming yourself with thyme. It’s safe in pregnancy and can be very effective.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I had a horrendous headache last week and decided to try peppermint oil (had peppermint extract, figured it would work the same) instead of Tylenol. Worked like a charm. Caution: Be careful about getting it too close to your eyes because it will burn (ask me how I know!!) The second time was this week and I was more careful and it worked again. I put some between my eyebrows, on my temples and a tiny bit over my under my nose. Where I made my mistake the first time was putting it under my eyes. (I didn’t think it was too close, but obviously it was.) Headache was gone in less than 30 minutes both times.

    6. Dr. KMnO4*

      Worst: It has been a long week. The weather turned bad on my hour-long drive home from work on Monday. I just had a lot going on at work and at home, where I had to pick up a good deal of household tasks that usually are taken care of by my husband. That is because yesterday…

      BEST: MY HUSBAND SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED HIS DISSERTATION AND FINALLY HAS HIS PHD!!!!!!!!! Before he gave his talk, his advisor made some remarks, and brought up something interesting. My husband defended 7 years to the day after his advisor accepted him into the lab. It’s been a long journey, but he made it in the end. His committee was very impressed with his work and talk and were very complimentary. I’m extremely proud of him.

    7. Fulana del Tal*

      Best- I have an interview on Thursday and working an extra day this week.

      Worst- I have a sore throat hopefully nothing more serious

    8. Jaid*

      Best: I finally glued the pierced ear findings on a pair of earrings that were originally clip on. I don’t know how I ended up with the clip on ones, but it was something I got at a craft fair and I haven’t seen the artist since. But now I can wear them!

      Worst: I had a cold. At least I’m finally at the tail end of it. The only reason why I even went to work yesterday is because I couldn’t sleep and I would have had to pay to go to Urgent Care for a doctor’s note after the third day out. But I wore a face mask and left early.

    9. Sometimes Always Never*

      Best: my volunteer coordinator who has been dealing with a serious medical issue is feeling and looking well and her future looks good!

      Worst: my volunteer coordinator’s boss called me to tell me they were discontinuing the program which serves homebound elderly who are also less financially secure. I had never spoken to the boss before, and I think the point of her call, at least in part, was to let me know that while I can continue my weekly visits with the senior I was matched with, the visits will no longer be under the auspices of the program. Whatever. I am more concerned for the other seniors who utilized the program.

      (If this shouldn’t be in the weekend free-for-all, please remove.)

    10. Anony Mouse*

      Best: We’re adopting a cat this spring!!!!! (One well-suited to our allergy/autoimmune needs)

      Worst: Got 2.5 tubes of blood drawn today for ankylosing spondylitis autoimmune tests. Exercising self-care since it left me tired/shaky (I weigh less than 115 lbs so it feels like a lot of blood lost). Binge watching Disney movies and reading mystery novels.

      1. Anono-me*

        Congratulations on the kitty.

        For other cat deprived people- check BBC news – there is an article on a new treatment for cat allergies that sounds like a very big deal.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      Worst this week: 3:15pm, kid calls and says he’s missed the bus and is still at school, right as the HVAC guy arrives to talk to Mr. Jules about the non-working heat and I’m in the middle of a time-sensitive email. Temp is about 45 but dropping, school is 15ish minutes away.

      Best this week: Just finished Untitled Goose Game cutouts for the kid’s birthday party tomorrow, and they look great, kid is super excited about them. I may need to take one to work.

      Plans: groceries and birthday party.

    12. Merci Dee*

      Best: I booked a freakin’ cruise!!! Last week, there was a meeting at kiddo’s school because the history teacher was planning a trip for any of the school kids that wanted to go – Peru in May 2021. The price? $4700. Yikes. And if I wanted to go
      it would be an extra $5200 just for me. So almost $10k for the two of us. I mean, the itinerary sounded awesome, and it would be a fun trip. But way too much. So I talked it over with kiddo, and suggested taking a cruise next summer instead. It’ll be a whole year sooner than the Peru trip, and only a fraction of the cost for both of us. She was more excited about the cruise idea than Peru. So I finally found a good trip, and paid the deposit today. So excited, but my crotchety old woman/accountant tendencies are crying at the amount of deposit I put on my credit card this morning.

      Worst: not really bad at all, but my dad’s having knee replacement surgery on December 2nd. So he’s scrambling around trying to get pre-op stuff done, and the knee is really killing him. He’s a stubborn old dude who will let someone else mow and care for his yard over his dead body. And he’s already said that he knows there will be pain from the surgery and the therapy, but it won’t be anything like what he’s been dealing with lately. So he’s highly motivated to get up and moving and to keep up with his therapy. I just hate that he’s been kn pain and is facing this surgery. But I know it’ll be such a relief for everyone when it’s done. Prayers and well wishes appreciated!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        If it’s any comfort to your dad, my 91-year-old mom had knee replacement surgery a month ago. Like your dad, she is very independent. While the first couple weeks were unpleasant–that’s true pretty much for everyone, including me who had the procedure about 10 years ago–she’s doing great now, including walking around on her own unassisted. It’s all about the physical therapy and managing pain so you can do the exercises, and after about three days, my mom ditched the prescription pain meds and has been fine with acetaminophen and ice ever since. Wishing your dad a successful journey!

        1. Merci Dee*

          Thanks, lady! Everyone he knows who’s had the surgery tells him that the only thing they’d change was just having it sooner than they did because they felt so much better after.

          He’s going to have lots of support and love to help him get through it. And he’s a stubborn old coot (per my daughter), so he won’t let a little pain stand in his way. The real challenge will be to keep him from over extending himself in his push to recover.

    13. Me*

      BEST: Living with the parental unit has not been as bad as I anticipated, although I want to find a job very soon and have my own space again.

      WORST: Somehow, probably from stress, I ended up with not one but two infections in sensitive regions and have to take two giant horse pills twice a day for a fecking week. No wonder I was so insanely exhausted after moving, which I thought was very weird because I didn’t even do any of the physical work. Also, one of these medicines is making my mouth taste like I licked the underside of a truck. >_<

      1. Merci Dee*

        Ewwww!! A couple of months ago I had a sinus infection and had to take cefdinir, and that was just the worst tasting thing I’ve ever had to swallow. It was foul. I’d get a mouthful of liquid, tilt my head back and drop the pill in so that maybe it wouldn’t touch my tongue on the way down. I’d still have to chase it down with several bites of something…. anything… to get rid of the taste.

        On the positive side, Remus lives! Heh heh – the antibiotic is made by a company named Lupin. :)

      2. Lena Clare*

        My sympathies :/
        Try holding your nose when you take the medicine and follow it with a sip of orange juice (still holding your nose), that should take the taste away!

        1. Me*

          Unfortunately the taste is in my mouth 24/7 because the medicine is in my system–it’s not confined to the pill itself. I don’t notice it when I eat anything, but as soon as I’m done, I can taste it again. I’m stuck with it until I’m finished! :P

    14. Lexicat*

      Best: QSO livestream performance, excellent music and got to spend time with my Mum.

      Worst: twisted my ankle walking back to the car, fell heavily, and now need to get an x-ray tomorrow. Extra complication: I own 40 pairs of shoes, and the only ones close to flat have an ankle strap.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Worst: every time we think we’ve defeated the clothes moths we find more. Latest loss was a 25yo wool cloak my mother in law made my then-boyfriend for re-enactment. It’s now in the deep freezer, but I think it’s a goner. I’m dreading daylight because I have to dig into that closet and find out what else is in there.
      Best: after umpteen years, I finally can cast on my own knitting project. (Third person who showed me the crochet hook version, I got it.)

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh no! Can you try some wooden balls infused with camphor oil in the drawers and wardrobes to keep them away?
        Also burning citronella candles in the windows seems to keep insects away in general. I hope the wool cloak is salvageable.

    16. BummedOut*

      Worst: I had to put my cat to sleep this week. I knew it was coming, she was progressively getting worse over the past couple of weeks, but it was still so very hard to do.

      Best: hard to come up with much, but I did feel like getting my sink unclogged with a plunger was a personal victory. The guy in the shop seemed convinced I would have to call a plumber.

    17. LizB*

      WORST: I am in packing-to-move hell. It’s been four+ years since I did this and I forgot how much I hate it. But…

      BEST: We are closing on our house in less than a week and then I won’t have to move again for a LONG time! And also will have a really wonderful little house!

    18. Chronic Overthinker*

      Worst: Had a dentist visit after a loooooooong hiatus and found out that all but seven teeth can’t be saved. I’m going to be wearing dentures. I’m too young for dentures. Also, it’s going to be ridiculously expensive and I don’t have dental insurance, and even if I did, it won’t cover all my procedures.

      Best: I finally got my husband to come grocery shopping with me and we actually had a decent “date night” this weekend.

  8. Cheluzal*

    Do I need a gift for a vow renewal ceremony?

    I just took a gift last weekend to the “bride’s” shower (lingerie female only affair).
    Do I need another gift??

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      They had a shower for a renewal of vows?!?

      I don’t get the concept of a renewal of vows. Did the first set have an expiration date? Do they gradually lose efficacy, so they need to be occasionally pumped up, like a tetanus booster shot? My twentieth anniversary is coming up soonish. My tween daughters want us to have a renewal of vows ceremony. My wife is open to the idea. My response is that if my original vows are due to expire, I want to know the precise date, so I can go have wild sex with other women before I get that booster shot.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        Anecdotally, everyone I know who has done a vow renewal divorced soon afterwards. I view it as a Hail Mary in the matrimony playbook.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I think people do this when they know their marriage is in trouble and they think it will save the marriage.

          My best friend and her husband renewed their vows on their 20th anniversary. She told me that she’d always said, “If we can make it to 20 years, we’re renewing our vows.” I guess she expected that would be some feat, and it was considering all the problems they had. They’ve been divorced for two years now.

          A Facebook friend–someone I went to elementary school with–renewed her vows on her 10th anniversary. They spent a *ton* of money, took the whole family to Italy, had a big write-up in the paper…and I just saw a post last week that they divorced a year later.

          On the flip side, we surprised our parents on their 50th with a vow renewal in my sister’s backyard. We had their original flower girl for the ceremony and a JP to officiate. They were so surprised. It was a great day. They’ve since passed, but they would have been married 65 years this year. Obviously they didn’t need to renew their vows and had no idea we were doing that for them. I just think this is an example of when people might want to do it–50 years is a long time!

          1. curly sue*

            My in-laws did a short and sweet vow renewal at their 50th anniversary party. Their marriage has been very stable and they’re still devoted to each other, so in their case at least it was a ‘look how we’ve made it, look how far we’ve come’ kind of affirmation.

            I’ve joked with Curly Bob about doing a Vegas wedding ‘renewal’ at 25 or 30 years for ourselves (we just passed 20 together / 16 married in August). Our wedding was a very high-stress family-driven mess — though it all worked out alright in the end, there were too many parental and grand-parental temper tantrums that put a damper on a lot of things. It would be fun to just elope (like we’d originally talked about doing) purely for the fun of it — get some Cirque tickets, see some magic shows, get vows renewed by a Captain Kirk impersonator. Because at that point, why not?

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                If my family presses the idea of our renewing our vows, I might make this a condition. I, however, am more old school. Rather than Klingon, I would insist on Quenya.

                1. curly sue*

                  Curly Bob would 100% go for this. Our cake toppers for our wedding were minis he painted of Eowyn and Faramir.

          2. Anon Here*

            Re: the stories about friends

            The longer I live and the more people I meet, the more I DON’T want to get married. It’s great that it works well for some people. But all the other stories are enough to scare me away. I think I’ll stick to non-married relationships and save the piece of paper for when/if it becomes a logistical necessity. Yikes.

        2. Pony tailed wonder*

          My parents are in their 80’s and have periodically renewed their vows. They never invite anyone to them. Their marriage was strong until my father started slipping into dementia. My mom is at her wits end dealing with it.

      2. Jdc*

        I think there are two reasons: our marriage has sucked and we are getting back on track or they just want to celebrate their love. My friend didn’t get an actual wedding, just courthouse, so at the ten year mark finally got a proper wedding which was basically a vow renewal.

      3. Parenthetically*

        Anecdotally, the few people I know who’ve done them did so after getting through a particularly difficult period, as a way to celebrate and turn the page. But yeah, it says right in the vows “as long as we both shall live” so I don’t reckon you need a booster.

        (Ooh, I know one couple who does a vow renewal every year on their anniversary.)

        1. curly sue*

          It doesn’t say that in every set of vows – that’s a Christian ceremony. (not that other religions don’t have the concept of being married for life, but weddings and vow wordings are different everywhere.)

      4. Overeducated*

        The only vow renewal I’ve been to was for a couple who’d been married in Soviet Russia and wanted a church wedding so they could stop “living in sin” (30 years and 2 kids later). It was small and very sweet.

      5. Anon Here*

        That’s hilarious.

        But, to be more serious, you should consider doing it for your daughters. Not as a marriage thing but as a parent / family thing. It’s nice that they want to celebrate their parents’ marriage. Or you could just throw an anniversary party and accept gifts from them.

      6. Traffic_Spiral*

        “I want to know the precise date, so I can go have wild sex with other women.”

        In fairness, your wife finding out that you did just that, but she doesn’t want to divorce you (for some reason) is the leading cause of vow renewal ceremonies. Seriously, the demographic is 10% “let’s have basically a fancy anniversary party,” and 90% “ok, so someone (or both) cheated but we’re gonna try and work through this.”

      7. The Other Dawn*

        “My response is that if my original vows are due to expire, I want to know the precise date, so I can go have wild sex with other women before I get that booster shot.”

        Hahaha! Sounds exactly like something my dad would have said to my mom, my FIL to my MIL, and my husband to me. Guess we all have the same sense of humor!

    2. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Heck no. The shower was enough of a gift grab.
      Richard Hershberger, I like your style.

    3. Cheluzal*

      Apparently they got married at the justice of the peace when they were young so they never really had conventional gifts, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

      I also agree about them not expiring. I eloped and now I’m joking that I can do it all again and have people bring gifts and want to know the earliest expiration date LOL!

    4. Jdc*

      No but I’d give a nice card, at most maybe a gift certificate for dinner for the two somewhere moderate.

    5. Asenath*

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a shower for a renewal of vows. The renewal of vows isn’t all that common in my neck of the woods, but I think they’re basically a party (plus the ceremony) and you wouldn’t bring a gift unless it is the custom in your area to bring a hostess gift like a bottle of wine to any party.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      No, you don’t need a gift, and not just because Miss Manners says that gifts are always optional.

      The one couple I know who had a vow renewal when their marriage wasn’t in trouble not only didn’t ask for gifts, they didn’t announce the renewal ahead of time. They were having a party for other reasons, and partway through asked for everyone’s attention, and repeated their vows, and the readings that had been part of the wedding ceremony. I knew about the vow renewal in advance because I had read at the actual wedding, and they wanted me to do the reading again, which meant they needed to know whether I would be there.

      Not announcing it in advance meant nobody was thinking in terms of gifts; my friends realized that renewing the vows might be a big deal for them, but it wouldn’t be for other people.

      I’m not sure why they wanted to repeat their vows publicly around their tenth wedding anniversary.

    7. HannahS*

      No. Admittedly, I’m not from a culture where weddings involve vows at all, so I could be misreading it, but I see a vow renewal as a variation of an anniversary party. So, in that vein, I think if someone’s hosting you at a party in their home, it’s appropriate to bring a small gift, and a really good idea to bring a card regardless.

      One of my family’s handy traditions for the couples in our family who host frequently but don’t need/want us to buy them stuff, is to make a charitable donation in their honour to a cause that would be important to them. Reforestation’s a big one in my family, as are foundations that research illnesses that relatives have died from. So that’s an option, too.

      1. Cheluzal*

        It was an email Evite but it’s a formal dress affair at a facility by the river. Lots of mixed signals and I’m confused LOL.

        No mention of gifts, which was mentioned on the bridal shower party and is not too unusual in our circle. There is a reception but a gift should not be an admission fee, right?

          1. Wishing You Well*

            One could mail a card, but don’t take a card to the renewal event. You might get a call asking if the cash or check fell out of it. Could get awkward.
            I like the charity donation suggestion.

            1. Blue Eagle*

              I dislike the charity donation idea. Particularly when people donate to a charity that they support and not one I support. Giving a charity donation is NOT a gift (unless it is an established tradition like in HannahS’s family).

    8. Drago Cucina*

      My go to for weddings is a bottle of sparkling wine for now and a nice bottle of red to drink in two years. Usually also a gift certificate, but I think the wine alone would be fine and doesn’t have to cost much. A bottle of Prosecco and a Rioja.

      Not crazy about vow renewals. Confession, when we hit our 10 year anniversary we had a Mass of celebration and casual party afterwards with family and friends. We specified no gifts. We had been married in Europe while in the Army, so no family were there. It’s been 35+ years so far.

    9. Environmental Compliance*

      The only time I would bring a gift would be for a situation like my SIL, who got married rather quickly (surprise baby needed health insurance) and with no big wedding, and then a year later had the big ‘proper’ wedding to celebrate with family & friends. Honestly I think a lot of family didn’t even realize they had already been legally married. There was no shower or gifts the first time around, so it didn’t feel grabby. They actually didn’t have a shower for that either, and put around that they didn’t need or want gifts, and I think about 2/3 of everyone listened.

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone doing a shower for a vow renewal, though. That seems really weird to me. (And also, a lingerie shower. Those just make me uncomfortable to begin with, tbh.)

  9. Arya Parya*

    So I ‘m not going to the yearly family reunion of my in-laws today. I’m staying home. My SO and our 1,5 year old daughter are driving there now and I feel guilty for staying home.

    This summer I found out I’m on the autistic spectrum and this event just triggered me. My brother in law is organizing it and he is the most chaotic person I know. So the date got picked fairly late and we only found out the location a week ago. The program is still a secret.

    Under normal circumstances I would be able to deal with this, but this is all colliding with some other stuff. It’s the busy period at my job, so there’s added stress there. Also this morning my SO had a mandatory thing to do, which means we (or now he) couldn’t take off at a more convenient time. They are now driving right through lunch time to get there, so the kid is probably a bit cranky.

    I’ve tried to get more information about the event in the past few months, but wasn’t given any. None of my other in-laws knew anything either and my BIL probably hadn’t organized anything yet. I tried to let my SO know I didn’t like any of this, but there was not much he could do about it either.

    About 1,5 weeks ago I let him know I didn’t want to go anymore and he said that was okay. But once we finally got some information he RSVP’ed on my behalf, figuring I would be okay now we had a bit more concrete program for the day. Unfortunately I didn’t realise this bothered me until last night when I just broke down. All the stress just got to me. I just didn’t feel like me having to take care we had everything ready to go, then rushing to get the kid in the car, driving with a cranky kid and then having to spend a day with about 40 people, trying to be cheerful. So I cancelled last night.

    And now I’m home alone and on the one hand it’s nice to have an afternoon to myself. On the other hand I feel guilty for cancelling so late and not being there. My in-laws are nice people and rationally I know everything will go fine. But I just can’t deal with so much uncertainty and things that might go wrong.

    Sorry, long story. Just looking for some understanding and hopefully to feel less guiltly about his.

    1. Christy*

      I’m not on the autism spectrum but I do have clinical anxiety and I gotta tell you, I am so relieved for you that you aren’t going! I know that feeling of “one more thing will absolutely break me” and then finally pulling out and then feeling bad about your choice but still feeling relieved.

      So like, my first point is that I think you absolutely made the right choice in not going. My second point is that in-laws miss family stuff like this all the time. Sometimes they blame work, sometimes they really do have a conflict, but a lot of the time they just don’t need as much time with their in-laws as their SO does. No shame or harm in that! And my third point is, sometimes you just have to totally tap out. And it sounds like your SO understands that! And that’s really good. It should be the default for a relationship but it isn’t always and I’m glad for you that your SO has been good to you in this situation.

      I hope you can enjoy the afternoon to yourself!

      1. Arya Parya*

        Thanks! My SO has been great about everything, I’m really lucky to have him.

        Now having a quiet afternoon, hanging out with the cats.

        1. valentine*

          You have every right to cancel whenever and I think it’s better not to go when you know you’ll be miserable. Let SO be the liaison with his side of the family. That’s going to reduce your stress a ton. See what that frees you up to do.

          For events where you need to leave at a decent time (on both ends), create a backup so you can go separately. Maybe you would’ve taken the kid, making a nap possible (for both of you?). Maybe you could have a hotel room nearby and only go to the gathering for about 30 minutes. Long enough to say hello, not long enough to get antsy because your escape is imminent? Or maybe SO could go alone unless there is quiet space for the kid or they’re not going to be there long enough for the throng to bother them.

    2. Agnodike*

      I skip in-law events all the time. I find the way they all interact with each other really stressful, and they’re pretty much indifferent to me and have been for the last 15 years, so why go? I put in an appearance maybe once or twice a year to prevent active conflict because most of them are perfectly fine people, and the rest of the time spouse and kid go without me. It’s no big deal. Enjoy a relaxing day/weekend so you’ll be refreshed and ready to have a great time with your family when they get back!

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      I pass on some in-law events. My introversion kicks in, and sometimes I can’t face being “on” for that long. It is fine. The family-by-marriage contingent generally aren’t the critical element to these things, particularly once your kids are old enough to not require constant care. Enjoy a quiet afternoon alone.

    4. only acting normal*

      “The program is still a secret.”
      That there is enough for me to nope the hell out. Especially since it’s in-laws.
      I’m also autistic and I need dates, times, places, and an rough idea of activities, in order to avoid panic. That’s not actually a huge ask: I’m not talking a minute by minute itinerary, just a normal level of invitation detail that’s courteous to all, not a special accommodation.
      (And FFS family, if BIL is very disorganised why is *he* tasked with organising the reunion?!)

      1. Arya Parya*

        Yeah, I need specifics too. My BIL just doesn’t get that. They rotate the organisation and it was his turn, so that’s why he was tasked. The good news is that it won’t be his turn for the next decade or so.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        I balk at the idea of a family reunion having a “program.” at all. What does that mean? It might merely be an overwrought way of describing dinner plans, but it bodes ill, like there will be laser tag followed by a mandatory-participation amateur musical.

    5. CathB*

      I‘m in awe. You stood up for yourself and took care of your own needs. That is more than ok!
      You are going through a stressful phase, the family event sounds like something your partner can handle by themselves. You are staying home to conserve your strength for when your family (or yourself) really need you. Nothing wrong with that, in fact I think it is very sensible and takes courage.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      Do whatcha gotta do. I haven’t seen my in-laws in two or three years. They’re perfectly nice people, but at Christmas, when I might have enough time off work to reach their place, they had a voluntary renovation and then an involuntary major plumbing repair, so I just send their son and grandson for a three-day trip on some school holiday in Jan / Feb. I stay home with the dog, everyone’s happy.

      And at a large family gathering, it’s unlikely that your ‘don’t feel up to it’ will be taken badly, and if it is, well, that’s their problem. I hope the kid gets a decent fast food meal in the car, and they have a good time, and you have a good time.

    7. SigneL*

      I wouldn’t go either – I have a very low tolerance for disorganization at the best of times. Enjoy your afternoon!

    8. Washi*

      I’ve never been to my in-laws’ family reunion. My husband is fine going without me, we live 15 minutes from his immediate family and see them fairly regularly, and I hate being in large groups so I just…don’t go. This gets me some occasional snark from his grandma, but my husband and I are on the same page about what’s reasonable for me, and that’s what we do.

    9. Queer Earthling*

      I’m also on the spectrum and this would be Very Stressful for me as well. It might help to remember that people skip out on family events all the time for a thousand reasons. If you had come down with a cold and had to cancel at the last minute because of that, things would progress exactly the same at the reunion.

      Enjoy your afternoon to yourself. :)

    10. A Simple Narwhal*

      If I’m understanding this correctly, your SO assumed you’d be down to go once you had more info and RSVPd without checking with you? If that’s the case then you definitely have zero reason to feel bad for canceling, because you aren’t actually cancelling – you never said you’d go, SO jumped the gun, that’s on him.

      And even if you did actually agree to go and changed your mind, that’s still perfectly acceptable too. Not feeling well (whether it be mentally or physically) is always a good and valid reason to not go to something.

      Don’t beat yourself up, enjoy your day with some well-deserved self care. <3

    11. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I skip in-law things too, and nobody seems to think anything of it.

      Also, you aren’t “cancelling so late,” you’re sticking to your original “no thank you”–your SO RSVP’ing “yes” on your behalf *after you had told him you didn’t want to go* is his faux pas, and he gets to make the apologies. Yes, he gets to say “Arya Parya isn’t feeling well” rather than “Arya Parya told me weeks ago that she wouldn’t be able to make it, and I shouldn’t have told you she’d be coming with me without making sure of it with her first.”

    12. The Messy Headed Momma*

      If you had come down with the flu, you wouldn’t be going & you wouldn’t feel guilty. So, you came down with the anxiety flu…good for you for taking care of yourself!! Don’t feel guilty!!

    13. lasslisa*

      Absolutely no reason you would desperately need to go to this. There’s going to be another just next year, sounds like!

      For my own edification… How much of a “program” is there generally at these reunions? At my family reunions it’s basically TV, beer, and cards with a couple of smaller outings that are arranged on the spur of the moment a la “I need to get out of this house, who wants to go for a walk?” So I’m wondering if there’s anything there that would be a problem, since we’ve got several relatives on the spectrum and I want to be considerate.

      1. Arya Parya*

        There’s usually two activities, mostly we are informed of what they are. This year there was painting (portraits not walls). I haven’t heard what the second activity was yet, but we had to sent in an old picture of ourselves that wasn’t too recognisable.

        Your gathering sounds fine. I would be totally okay with it.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          Have your husband loop them in that you DON’T mind coming to things if you have a sufficient heads up, if that is how you feel.

          My cousin was diagnosed at age 50. He needs a huge heads up for family gatherings. If he gets the heads up, he does want to go. Autism does not =hating humanity.

          Well, he had a couple rough holidays, after his family found out about his diagnosis. Now the default is not to invite him. The rough holidays were because his family does everything at the last minute, and it’s chaotic mess. But if my cousin gets a semi heads up, he really does want to go.

          This Thanksgiving he received no invite AGAIN from his family. My cousin will eat with me, and my rag tag group of friends. His family feels that all they are doing is making him miserable, so why ask. My cousin just wants information any normal human being would get for an invited. He wants to see his brothers and their family.

          TL;DR is don’t let your diagnosis give them an excuse to freeze you out, unless you don’t care if you ever get an invite again. The “Oh we can’t wait to see SO and the kids” with no mention of you type nonsense.

          1. Arya Parya*

            My in-laws were very understanding, luckily. My MIL texted me this morning to let me know it was okay I skipped the reunion. They really are very nice people, only a bit more extraverted and chaotic than my own family.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I feel relieved for you also. I’m pretty much an introvert, so these things feel like “show time!” and get tiring fast.

    15. Dan*

      Oof. I’ve never been diagnosed as on the spectrum, but this would drive me bat sh!t crazy.

      This also reminds me of my ex-inlaws, who can’t plan *anything* to save their lives. One issue between my ex and me is she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be “flexible” and “go with the flow”. What I tried doing was splitting the difference so to speak — I’d go along with things one week, and pass on them the next. But nope. She’d lay it on thick every time. I told her I didn’t care what *she* did, but because I worked full time and am a bit of an introvert, I really need to chill out some weekends.

      I think my ATF was when my ex-BIL decided to marry his baby mamma, with whom he had an on-again, off-again relationship. My ex and I had planned a month long trip overseas in the fall that year, and had booked plane tickets and what not very early. When he said he was getting married, I told my ex to make sure to tell him when we’d be out of the country. Ok, no sweat, they planned the wedding for the spring. After the plans were shared, they later indicated they might change their mind and move it to the fall. I told my ex that if he moves it to the time period where we were out of the country, she can do what she wants, but I’m taking the trip we planned and would send my regrets about missing the wedding.

      Sure ’nuff, they did move the wedding to the period where we couldn’t make it. My ex did end up going on vacation with me.

      I don’t miss the ex-fam.

      1. Filosofickle*

        My SO’s family is extraordinarily anxiety-ridden and cannot plan anything. If you force them to make a plan or set a time, they will simply change it at the last minute. Everything is chaotic, no one knows what’s going on or when anyone will arrive, and no one takes the lead. Last year on Thanksgiving, all the food was finished and heated but for no apparent reason we all sat around for another 45 minutes until it was all stone cold and then we had to heat it again. No one knew why. And nothing happened because the matriarch is the most anxious of the bunch and no one can or will push her. I like plans and order and it stresses me the eff out!

        Happily, my SO supports me in not going very often. I choose to go when I can handle it, except holidays which I’m stuck with and they’re the worst.

    16. Salymander*

      My husband and I divide up the extended family into his and mine, and we each mostly deal with our own. That includes bad stuff (people being jerks) and “good” stuff (family reunions that are “secret” until the last minute wtf?). Husband and I take the view that dealing with the other partners family stuff is a completely optional favor and a kindness, and should be appreciated as such. We help each other out, especially with things like family traumas, but we don’t worry so much about parties organized at the last minute and in secret (!).

      LW, you sound like a very thoughtful, kind partner, and I bet that in situations where there is a real need for your presence you would be there. This is not one of those situations. Please enjoy having some time to yourself. That is totally fine, and will even help you to recharge your batteries for when partner and kid get back.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      It’s okay. You’re busy, you’re tired, and you just can’t even right now. It happens and sometimes you just need to NOT do stuff to be okay.

    18. Alexandra Lynch*

      I am also on the spectrum and my mother is not, and she is chaotic. I was actually very relieved this year to not to try to cook Thanksgiving dinner with her. I take it seriously with oven timing and lists of what dishes I need, and my mother is apt to say, morning of, “Oh, I just had an idea. What if we do this as well, and not that dish?” and I always get very irate, because changes to the menu were two weeks ago. Or she’ll decide to do something early and “get it out of the way” and thus screw up the oven schedule. And not understand why I’m upset! (And, of course, make me feel bad for being upset… cause she was just trying to help!)

    19. Maya Elena*

      If you need a way to reframe any guilt you may feel, also consider that it’s good for the kiddo to get one-on-one daddy time, and one-on-one daddy and his family time. If they like and respect you they will obviously never request your husband or yourself to see JUST him+kid and not you – but it might be a nice opportunity, especially if rare. I try to “butt out” for a bit every so often when my in-laws are visiting or we visit them, especially if they’re off to do something I don’t care for.

    20. LizB*

      You are so 100% justified and don’t need to feel guilty at all. I hope you had a really lovely afternoon to yourself.

    21. Thankful for AAM*

      I don’t go to the inlaws things, have not for years now, and I’m neurotypical (ive been tested, a la Sheldon’s quote). One of my sisters in law told me she does not go to her in law things anymore and kind of gave me permission to skip things with her family.

      Life is so much better this way!

    22. kt*

      I hope you had a fabulous afternoon without the chaos!

      The kindest thing my father did for me when we got married (besides a nice wedding gift) is say in his grumpy way, “I don’t want you driving around here and there trying to get time with all the families for holidays and events. Just pick what you’ll do and we’ll be fine.” And then he told me a story about going to pick up my mother stranded in a snowstorm in Wisconsin during a blizzard on some holiday because she was trying to do X and Y and Z to be with people and make it to multiple family things.

      It’s not 100% the same, but still, it was a nice thing to hear from him: pick what you want to do that won’t stress you out, and we’re happy to see you, and we’re happy to not see you if that’s better for you!

    23. Environmental Compliance*

      I have anxiety and this would absolutely blow it up. I *hate* not knowing what the plans are. I cannot function well with having absolutely no concrete anything and then let’s just play it by ear.

      My in laws tend to function like that, and Hubs and I had a very frank discussion early on of ‘no, I am not going to drop everything and tag along on their 4 hour drive to who knows where to do who knows what for who knows how long, why can’t we know about this more than 2 days in advance and with details about things like length of time or hotels or who’s driving??”

      We had a ‘family vacay’ with the inlaws a few years ago now that ended up being Drive to Place 6 Hours Away, and Let’s Stare At Each Other For 5 Days. I’m not asking for really exciting, boom boom boom do this do that do this type plans….but hell, we’ve traveled, let’s go out to eat? Walk on the beach that’s 5 minutes away? Literally anything but sit in this hotel room watching the toddler do toddler things, please.

    24. BetsCounts*

      I’m neurotypical and this sounds like a NIGHTMARE. Enjoy your weekend and please don’t feel bad about it! You’ll see everyone next year.

  10. Flying with cats*

    Anyone know of ways to help with cat’s anxiety, specifically when taking a plane? I will be flying with my two indoor kitties on a short 1.5h flight, but they will have to be in their carriers for quite some time for the whole trip. I’m wondering how to make it easier on them. Thanks!

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Are they normally anxious cats or are you an anxious owner for their adventure? :)

      Ours are pretty chill though one does tend to get a bit anxious on occasion. We flew them longhaul overseas and they had to be in the carrier for something like 14 hours due to drive time on both ends. What we did was:

      1) Got a carrier large enough that they could be in there together for comfort and stand up and turn around. Had to be one for medium sized dogs. We did acclimate them to the carrier by using it on long road trips (5 hrs) before we left, however.
      2) Stuffed in a tshirt I had worn for scent (but an older one that could be tossed if needed – uh, it was needed) A favorite blankie can work too
      3) Sprinkled in some cat nip and threw in two mice toys
      4) Laid down a special pee pad you can get for cat carriers,in case of accidents. It did look as though someone may have had a little bit of a leak, and that thing sucked it right up – no odor or wetness
      5) Taped a serving of their kibble in a ziploc to the top of the carrier in case of delay

      We did have to take them out in order for the carrier to go through the scanners, which we hadn’t counted on, so make sure you have a leash and collars if needed.

      Honestly, they just looked confused when they came out the other end and must have slept the whole way. The idea is to surround them with comforting things they know (toys, smells) for reassurance. They will likely be able to hold urine for some time, but the pee pads are definitely the way to go!

      1. Flying with cats*

        Thanks for all the tips and reassurance! One of them can get anxious in new situations, but I am probably going to be the most anxious out of the bunch :D Great point about comforting familiar smells! I am getting them used to the new carriers, and they are enjoying them so far (in-house.)
        I once stood in the security line next to a woman with a cat and offered help handling her stuff. She dropped her big fluffy cat in my arms :) So I’m aware I will have to take them out to pass through the scanner and will have leashes in case they get spooked.

        1. Jdc*

          When I flew with my dog i was far more anxious than he was. They tend to do pretty good. Per the vet I did basically Benadryl him pre flight. Frankly I should’ve Benadryl-Ed myself

        2. Jane of all Trades*

          Note that you do not have to go through the security line with them. You can request a private screening, which will take place in a separate room. If there is any chance that your cats might get sufficiently anxious to try and make a run for it when you take them out of the cage, I strongly recommend going with that option. I don’t think it would be easy to get them back again once they got lose. Good luck!

      2. TL -*

        If they’re going in cargo nothing but a pee pad and a soft blanket or t-shirt should be in the hard plastic carrier, which needs to be high enough for the animal to stand up with about an inch, inch and a half of clearance and large enough for them to comfortably turn around in. The carrier needs to be airplane-certified and water should be provided in a plastic hanging bin securely fastened to the inside of the carrier door (which will be metal.) The plane slopes dramatically during take-off/landing and may need to break hard, so nothing that can fly through the air, even soft toys.
        (I flew my cat internationally through a pet transport company and they were very clear on the safety guidelines.)

        If they’re in the cabin with you for a short haul, the rules are more relaxed, though my cat is too talkative for that option.
        If they’re going in the cargo area, figure out what the airplane company will do and who you should talk to if the plane gets stuck on the tarmac – in the USA, this is the dangerous part of flying for most animals.

        1. Flying with cats*

          I should’ve specified they will be in the cabin :) I’m good on the regulations side of things, just looking for ways to minimize their stress.

      3. TL -*

        Also I got her adjusted to the carrier by feeding all her meals in it for a little over a month.
        The carrier itself isn’t stressful for her – she’ll wander inside it occasionally – but she doesn’t like closed doors between her and me so I wouldn’t say she’s a fan of it either.

        1. Flying with cats*

          They’re good with the carriers inside the house, but being transported out is a whole different story. And also, of course no closed doors allowed :D

    2. Vet Student*

      Some cats respond really well to Feliway (pheromone) spray. You could try getting some of that and spraying the carrier/their blanket before putting them in it. I’m not sure how long it lasts but I doubt you’d be able to take the bottle on the plane unless it is less than 100 mL.

        1. Cat Herder*

          You can also get “feliway” collars with the pheromones on them. I can’t think of the real name, but they are the same as feliway. we had them on our cats to help with anxiety just in the house. Now one cat takes prozac.

            1. TL -*

              I put one on my cat and the first thing she did was get it stuck in her mouth (she doesn’t normally wear a collar and I thought I got it tight enough but apparently not.)
              It did not have the desired effect.

      1. BetsCounts*

        Yes, my vet puts a blanket sprayed with that over their carrier when they come in for their exams and it helps A LOT.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You could check with your vet for kitty Prozac. You’d want to try it ahead of time to make sure there aren’t any unexpected reactions – I know one friend’s cat actually gets MORE worked up on the stuff, for example. But my dog gets anxious before certain situations and my vet issues me a prescription for her that’s an anxiety med that I only give her in those particular situations.

      1. Zooey*

        A friend recently brought her cat on a transatlantic flight due to a big move and was advised not to give any meds because they can have unexpected effects on heart rate.

        1. Flying with cats*

          I’m wary of giving them meds if not necessary. I’ll check with their vet – they know them pretty well and should be able to advise. Thanks!

    4. cat socks*

      Check with your vet about prescribing gabapentin. It’s a calming medication and is great for one off situations where kitty might be nervous. My vet used it when transporting her six cats on a cross country move. I’ve used it when I need to make a longer drive to the vet hospital for a couple of my cats who see specialists.

      1. WS*

        I used this for my cat who is so terrified of the vets that he will injure himself trying to escape if we’re not there with him. He had to stay there overnight, so he was dosed with gabapentin and was okay! We were nervous wrecks, but he was dopey and chill. Gabapentin reaches a peak around 24-36 hours after the first dose, so if you want to go this way talk to the vet well in advance.

        1. Flying with cats*

          We’ll have time to consult, but I should probably do it sooner rather than later. Thanks for the info!

    5. Queer Earthling*

      The time I had to fly with my cat, the best thing was the fact that the carrier had a little space that let me reach in and pet him, or just let him rub on my hand. He also wound up falling asleep partway through the flight.

      Good luck!

    6. Wandering*

      Best tip I’ve heard & not yet seen here comes from KittenLady Hannah Shaw: You can request a private screening room at the airport. She said there was no charge, & it meant that if a kit spooked & ran, she was in a small room so retrieving her wasn’t too hard.

      Do make sure your carriers are a good size for your cats & the airplane. Hope you can have them in the cabin with you.

      1. Flying with cats*

        Yes, they will be in the cabin, and I have the carriers figured out. I have no clue how they’d react to being taken out for security screening (plus there’s the putting them back in the carriers), so it would be neat have it done in a private room! Definitely going to ask – thanks for the tip!

    7. Salymander*

      Our cat had severe anxiety. We bought a Thundershirt for her. It wraps around the cat’s body, snug but not too tight. Does not restrict movement so cat can walk around and do all the normal cat things. Cat wore it for ages, and it really helped her to feel more comfortable and secure. Like swaddling does for a baby.

      1. Flying with cats*

        Or like a weighted blanket! It’s great there are such options, and I’m glad to hear it helped your cat :)

      2. TL -*

        Yeah my cat’s harness (which is pretty big) helped a lot during our big car trip. She’d fall asleep with it on but not when it was off.

  11. Foreign Octopus*

    It’s a been a week this week with my cat. I knew she had to have a tooth out (I was expecting two molars to be removed, max), and so I took her to the vet. He called me after the radiography exam to say that she had an infection in her jaw and needed them all removed so now I have a completely toothless cat. I’m actually surprised with how well she’s doing. She’s eating normally – mainly wet, but I gave her some dry food last night as the vet said it was okay, and she wolfed it down. I’m really hoping that without the bad teeth and once the infection goes, she’s going to put on weight as she’s very skinny.

    I’m hoping there’s a silver lining to her getting them all removed.

    1. Jellyfish*

      My cat got her teeth pulled maybe 18 months ago, and she’s been much happier since then. Put weight back on, her fur looks much better, she’s more playful.
      Good luck to you and your kitty!

    2. Sleepless*

      They do really, really well after full mouth extractions! You’ll be amazed how well she will do long term. She’s probably been in some pain for awhile. She will never miss having teeth.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. I have one cat that has no teeth and all he eats is dry food. He doesn’t like wet food at all, nor will he eat people food.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        That is awesome to hear. Two of my kitties, both 12 years old, need to have full extractions. The vet just thinks they have bad genes–we have gotten them regular vet care, fed them good food, given them dental treats, and so forth, but their teeth are terrible (they were both strays, so they didn’t get a great start). As soon as we pay off Chewbacca’s recent medical bills (about $1100 worth), we will be getting the extractions done.

    3. LuJessMin*

      My cat had stomatitis and lost most of her teeth. She eats wet food, and I have to monitor her while she eats, otherwise she’ll wolf it down and then it all comes back up.

    4. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      Cats are amazing in their ability to adapt. Sounds like she’s recovering well.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      My dog broke some teeth from over chewing when she had heartworm, and we were told they thought maybe two teeth had to be removed, but they could evaluate better once she was under and they could really get in there.

      Well it turns out she needed to have all of her top teeth between her canines pulled and another on the bottom, and I was devastated. Partially by guilt, and the rest by worrying how she was going to function, would she be ok? Would this change things?

      Well turns out pups are way happier when they don’t have seven exposed roots in their mouth! She was way happier with that fixed, and the only difference is that we don’t give her hard toys like nylabones anymore (which apparently certain breeds shouldn’t have anyway since they’ll over chew), and when she sleeps sometimes her tongue peeks out the front of her mouth, which is freaking adorable.

      I know dogs are different from cats, but I think in general all animals (people included!) are happier and eat better when they don’t have dental problems.

    6. Worked in IT forever*

      Some years ago, one of our cats had to have her remaining teeth all removed, other than a couple of front fangs. She’d already lost or had teeth removed before that. The trigger for the final extraction was that we noticed she was suddenly in too much pain to eat, and this cat always loved her food.

      Anyway, though it seemed at first a drastic step to have almost all the remaining teeth removed, it was absolutely the right thing to do. The vet told us that she’d happily swallow the kibble whole, and he was right. (The kibble is on the smaller side, though.) We must have done this four or five years ago, and we have a very happy cat. She’s also overweight (we are working on that), so a lack of teeth has not slowed down her eating.

    7. Windchime*

      My previous cat lived to the ripe old age of 19, and a couple of those years he had over half of his teeth removed due to infection. He did eat a little kibble afterwards, but mostly soft food. Once he recovered from the surgery, he did just fine. I would imagine that he probably felt better due to the painful infection being gone, and I bet your kitty does too.

    8. LizB*

      I’m glad kitty is feeling better! And it’s good to know that she’s eating well even without teeth. My girl needs an unknown number of extractions, but when I took her in for them earlier this week, her platelet count was too low in the pre-op bloodwork for the vet to feel comfortable actually doing them. We’ll bring her back in in a couple months to re-do the bloodwork, and then if all looks well she’ll have the extractions and cleaning a week after that. It’s so hard knowing that she’s probably in pain and hiding it (as cats do).

    9. BetsCounts*

      I was SHOCKED at how much my cat’s energy level improved after he had a couple of teeth pulled. He had been acting fairly old- sitting a lot, staying in one room. The next DAY he was much more active and affectionate- which made me feel bad for not doing it sooner!

  12. I’m going to London!*

    Thank you everyone, I think we are pretty set for the trip. Raincoat, check, walking short boots, still deciding. Did I mention that I have a free day in Cambridge? Food, spa, bookstore, recommendations?

    1. Jenny*

      Why not give us some more details about what you’d like to do in Cambridge? Is there anything that particularly interests you?

    2. NeverNicky*

      Heffers for the bookstore.

      Fitzbillies is the classic recommendation for tea and buns but it can be very busy.

      My treat when I go to Cambridge is Sticks and Sushi (part of a very small chain) or I have a very OTT hot chocolate at the Hotel Chocolat store so I’m a bit boring foodwise I’m afraid.

      The Fitzwilliam Museum is amazing but there’s lots of small and specialist ones around with everything from polar exploration to archaeology covered.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Fwiw all the museums are free (unless they have special exhibitions on, where you pay extra for that part only and can skip it). So if you don’t like it, you’ve lost nothing!

    3. I'm Going to London!*

      Thanks for the advice- I will be spending most of my time talking archival business meetings, the husband is interested in bookstores, design, libraries and museums.

      Another question. Arriving in Heathrow. If money were no object- best way from Heathrow to Cambridge- car for hire, bus, train. Looking for fastest and least painful after an overnight flight AND luggage and a person using a crutch.
      oh and buses’ do make me carsick.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Probably Heathrow Express then train from Kings Cross (though there is a cheaper direct Underground route to KX on the Piccadilly line). You can prebook assistance but I don’t have personal experience of doing so.

        Cars and Cambridge do not go, so I wouldn’t recommend. Whereabouts are you staying?

        1. I'm Going to London!*

          Thank you. Staying at the Cambridge Hotel. I figure a taxi from the train station in Cambridge. Not too concerned about getting back into London.

        2. Ra94*

          Heathrow Express would add a terrible stairs-filled tube journey to get from Paddington to King’s Cross. Much better to just stay on the Picadilly to King’s cross, exit to the station step-free, and hop on a train.

      2. misspiggy*

        Ooh, public transport on that route is going to be a bit of a nasty one. If money were no object, I’d find a Cambridge-based airport taxi firm (specifically mentioning airport pickups and/or business travel) with good online reviews and get them to pick you up. It’ll probably cost a fair bit,, but by far the least tiring way to do it. If there’s more than one passenger the cost per person makes it well worthwhile.

        I just had a quick look online and one example -Prestige Taxis – quotes just over £100. That’s pretty good in my book.

        1. misspiggy*

          Just to add, Heathrow Express only takes you to Paddington Station, where you would then have to get to Kings Cross, either by Underground (with luggage – not fun) or pretty expensive black cab.

          Taking taxis in or to Cambridge is fine, it’s just that driving yourself around would probably be a hassle.

          1. londonedit*

            It’s only one Underground line from Paddington to King’s Cross though (Hammersmith & City/Circle, both go to King’s Cross from the same platform) and there are lifts from the main line concourse up to the level you need to be on for those Tube lines and then back down to the Tube platforms, and lifts at King’s Cross I believe too. There’s a little bit of walking involved but unless you’ve got an absolute ton of luggage it’s very doable. Or as General says the Piccadilly line goes straight from Heathrow to King’s Cross and is much cheaper. It gets very busy in rush hour but as you’ll be getting on at the beginning of the line you should get a seat (though there isn’t anywhere on the Tube trains to specifically put luggage and you need to stay with your stuff at all times so that might be a consideration).

        2. Jenny*

          The easiest is to have a hire car from a small local firm waiting. There are retired people who do this on the side but I can’t remember any names.
          Next easiest (but slow) is actually the coach. You get on, you sit, you get off. If you’re able bodied without much luggage it’s much slower, but it is far less stressful.

          1. I'm Going to London!*

            I will investigate the car. I suspecting the would be the best. I don’t want to ruin myself at the very beginning.

      3. Jenny*

        So…
        The Pepys Library in Magdalen College, and the Wren Library in Trinity are both obvious choices.

        The Whipple Museum might appeal, as small and quirky, and the house museum at Kettle’s Yard.

        There are two second hand bookshops near St Edward’s Church by the theatre.

        Have fun!

      4. I'm Going to London!*

        Thank you everyone. So here is the luggage question again. I am staying 10 days. Must have professional clothes as well as casual for the vacation. Willing to wash leggings, undies, and socks on the road.
        I own 20 inch soft side suitcase with two wheels- a small case can go on top. I travel with a small backpack for the plane. This is the set-up I take for conferences that last 5 days.
        I just got a 25 inch suitcase with four wheels seems huge to me but might be more manageable.

        The following fits in my twenty inch with a pair of spare shoes and toiletries in the small case.
        OR I just take the big one and have spare room for purchases etc.

        Packing list- I do use packing cubes
        Many pairs of leggings
        one wool dress- blue
        one sleeveless black layering dress-
        one grey long sleeve layering dress-
        2 black skirts below knee length.
        1 soft blazer- either wool or silk
        1 long grey skirt
        2 sweaters- one very light, one xtra warm merino super fluffy cowl neck.
        4 cuddle duds undershirts to layer. one wool- if the temp drops.
        1 pair of super casual stretch pants.
        Polartec- cardigan thing- good layer- black.
        Many pairs of wool and/cotton socks
        short business casual Birkenstock boots
        1 pair of high top all birds-
        Deciding on casual hiking boots for London walking days
        packable puffer jacket
        packable raincoat- can layer over puffer.
        2 sets of Pjs.
        one pair of soft slippers (I wear these on the plane)
        bathing suit (wishful thinking)
        cashmere wrap- grey
        Merino wrap- blue

        1. londonedit*

          I think the four-wheeled suitcases are always easier to manoeuvre than the two-wheeled ones – you can just wheel them along next to you rather than having to drag them behind. Sounds like a good list, but I’m not sure if you’ll need all the thermal layers – it’s not that cold here! At the moment it’s around 10 degrees C during the day, and that’s fairly normal for November/December, so unless we get a really unexpected cold snap (which isn’t currently forecast) then I don’t think you need to worry about being that cold! And if it does suddenly turn freezing for some reason, M&S and Uniqlo have affordable and great quality thermal layers, so you could always buy things here. I’m currently going to and from work in fairly ordinary clothes, no thermal layering and just an average coat and pashmina-type scarf, there’s no need to bundle up at the moment.

          And definitely bring the bathing suit – I remember you talking about spas, and there are loads! Check out Treatwell – you can search by area and they show all the special offers and whatnot.

    4. Cambridge local*

      I’m sure this has been recommended to you before, but if you haven’t been to Oxford/Cambridge before, you should get punted around (I’ve seen too many people fall in or lose their punts to do it myself, but I’ll quite happily pay someone to boat me around!)

      I live in Ely, which is probably too far out for you to visit – but we have some lovely tea rooms and book shop (Toppings), and of course the cathedral!

  13. KarenK*

    Anybody playing Harry Potter Wizards Unite? Wanna be my friend?

    I want to complete the Brilliant Event special assignment, and I don’t know anyone else who plays.

    My code is 3700 0558 8214.

  14. LGC*

    Thanks fposte for solving my tuxedo emergency from last week! The only thing that stung was the $20 rush fee (well, I’m okay with it, but it was an extra $20 that I could have avoided spending), but it was…a lot less painful than I was expecting. The only issue was that the pants were a bit short when I picked it up, but they fixed it within like ten minutes. (FYI: yes, they make pants in a Legs For DAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYS inseam. Even slim fit pants. And they’re readily available.)

    I have been getting a stunning amount of ads for Men’s Wearhouse tuxedos this week, by the way. Also, I was not joking when I said I was extremely close to getting a statement tuxedo – one of the mannequins had plaid tuxedo pants on, and I did semi-seriously contemplate that as a choice. (I mean, it might have been on theme anyway – the groom is Irish.)

    1. LGC*

      In case you were wondering: I forgot to mention it was a tartan plaid. And you could get a matching jacket (like the model has on) – although the mannequin had a black jacket. (So basically, imagine like…kind of what bagpipe players wear, except the kilt is tuxedo pants instead.)

      https://www.menswearhouse.com/p/paisley-grayslimfitsuitseparatescoatredtartanplaid-3U633U6411

      My parents said I would have looked like RuPaul, and I felt very attacked. (To be fair, we’re both about the same height, although I don’t shave my head bald.)

      I also contemplated this, to which my mother said she was getting Delfonics vibes from:

      https://tuxedo.menswearhouse.com/white-satin-edge-lapel-tuxedo-pronto-uomo-id-5233

      I just settled on conventional black because I was going to do the bare minimum. I do not intend on bringing my laptop and writing a paper during the ceremony, though. (If you have not listened to this week’s Dear Prudence podcast, please do so immediately because the last letter is bananas. It’s about 10 minutes from the end, so 50 minutes in.)

    2. fposte*

      I’m so glad it worked out! If you do opt for a statement tuxedo at some point in the future, link to photo is required.

  15. Cute dog collars*

    Hi. For the holidays I usually make decorative dog collars for friends and family’s dogs. Last year was felt flowers on collars and the year before that, bow ties. Can you think of something new for this year? Pinterest is letting me down a bit. Thanks.

    1. Anono-me*

      I’ve been eyeing this little pocket that fits on the dog’s collar. You can tuck your id, a spare key and a folded up plastic bag or two in it. Then it can be attached to the collar.

      I have also seen collars with lots of pretty fringe all around, almost like a jester’s costume collar (but without the bells obviously).

    2. fposte*

      Am I correctly understanding that the flowers and ties are 3D, not embroidered on? That sounds amazing. What about stars?

      1. Dog collar OP*

        Hi. Yes. 3D. I cut the flowers on a Cricut and roll them. I don’t know whether AAM allows links but for those interested if you search for ‘felt flower cricut dog collar’ there are a lot of Etsy/ Pinterest images. And the bow ties are similar to what people make for young kids.

    3. Pamela Adams*

      Our dogs got some “bandannas ” that slid onto their collars. Very cute, and they didn’t lose them.

      Autumn leaves? Holiday ornaments?

    4. SAHM*

      Maybe because I’m staring out sausages, but you said you made felt flowers, can you make felt food? I would love a little sausage decorated collar or bagel decorated. Or mimosas…..

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Or felt “thing that is themed for that breed? So sausages, or ketchup bottles for dachshunds, thistles/other Scottish thing for a Scottie dog, rabbits for a greyhound, jacks as per playing cards for a Jack Russell, and little Heinz baked bean cans for mongrels (=57 varieties).

    1. Jenny*

      I have seen the first episode and was definitely intrigued enough to keep going. It is definitely well made and well filmed.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      We watched the first episode last night, it was mostly good, but their soundtrack was off. Too epic for the events, enough that even Little Jules noticed.

    3. Ann O.*

      I’m only through the first episode. It was fine, but not amazing until the very end. I was not expecting that reveal, and I loved it.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We’re enjoying it and I think they’ve now introduced the cutest damn thing in the entire universe.

  16. PhyllisB*

    I have to work today so it will be this afternoon before I can get back on, but just wanted y’all to know my grandson in jail is going to be bonded out by his other grandmother on Tuesday.
    I will come back this afternoon and give updates and answer questions. I know some are wondering why a 16 year old is in county jail. I covered all this at the time, but it’s been a year now and I know there’s a lot of new readers.

    1. My son as well*

      Looking foward to your update. I understand.

      My son was dealing drugs in high school and we had no clue until his “little black book” of who owed him money was discovered. He left home at 18 and spent time in rehab and jail. Addicted to meth, he just looked at his life and his “friends” and just stood up and walked away. I believe God intervened.

      Fortunately, he was able to join the California Conservation Core and turned his life around. Earned his HS diploma, was hired by the Core upon graduation and worked for them for two years. He then joined the carpenters union and has been a journeyman now for 6 years. He is 38 now and a great father to my two grandchildren.

      He did this with a bit of our help, but mostly on his own and with the help God.

      1. Gaia*

        I’m glad for your son. I wish we had a bigger focus on rehabilitation in our criminal justice system instead of punishment.

        There are times punishment is warranted. But if someone is ever going to live outside of jail/prison again, rehabilitation serves all of society.

    2. Anono-me*

      That is such wonderful news for your family.

      It may be a good idea for him to meet soon with his doctor, dentist, etc. for as much proactive treatment as is practical.

    3. Gaia*

      I’m glad for your family and for your grandson.

      I don’t know all the details, and you’re certainly under no obligation to share them, but I do know that there is no justice in subjecting a 16 year old to the conditions you described.

      I hope your grandson gets the help he needs to put him on a better path, and that our justice system comes through for all of us should he be convicted.

    4. Thursday Next*

      I’m so glad your grandson won’t have to spend much longer in county jail. He’s so young, and it’s been so long. I’ve always read your posts, and you’ve always struck me as a compassionate and fair grandparent. All my best to you and your family.

    5. Anon for this*

      That’s got to be so hard on the family, I’m sorry. I have two cousins (different sides of the family) who have recently spent some months in prison for different low-level crimes. They’re both out now and seem to be moving on with their lives. They have good family support, but I’m sure it’s an uphill battle. Both were career-ending convictions and so the big challenge is to figure out something they can do to earn a living without the risks of encountering situations that could put them at risk of repeating their problems.
      I hope your grandson continues to get the support he needs!

    6. PhyllisB*

      Sorry to be so long in posting, it’s been a busy couple of days. I am going to post two comments. This one I will update, the second one will tell some of how he got there so those of you who already know and don’t care to wade through that again can skip over it.
      All I really know is, his other grandmother texted me and said she’s bonding him out and taking him straight to a doctor. They will decide on getting him evaluated and perhaps recommend a treatment plan. I don’t know how much she’s having to post. His original bond was $500,000.00 Yes, you read that right. Half a mil. I’m sure that is because he is considered a flight risk. My daughter said after the State Supreme Court denied the motion to remand to youth court his bond was lowered to $37,250.00 I know the standard amount to post is 10%, but according to my daughter, with his history the bondsman could ask for the whole amount.
      When psychologists saw him in juvenile they sort of hinted around that he was bi-polar, but said they couldn’t diagnose that until he was 18. I know when he was in elementary he was diagnosed as being having ADDHD, but after he went to live with his dad his dad would not allow him to take the medication because he felt like he needed to learn how to control himself. I will give more detail in next post.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Okay, so here’s the background on Grandson. At the age of six he was diagnosed as ADDHD and put on medication. He had problems and at the age of nine he burned down a neighbor’s boat house. Not intentionally; he was burning some pine straw. He stomped it out when he got through and went home, but blaze reignited and burned down this boat house. One of the neighbors saw him leave and reported him to the authorities. The housing association told his mother that they were being kicked out of the neighborhood unless he went to live somewhere else. (Daughter was renting so had no say.) That’s when he went to live with his dad. Child was banned from coming back to the area. His dad, as I said, decided it was just a discipline issue and refused to get medication for him and told him he needed to learn how to control himself.
        Things went along until Grandson was 13 and ran away from home for the first time.
        Now by this time his mother was hooked on meth. Well, she was before, just none of us were aware. Things had come to a head with her, and we took her other children away and told her we didn’t want to hear from her until she was ready to get help. Well, when she heard about Grandson, she texted me and told me she was ready, so I took her to a detox facility the next day. She went through her program, half way house and has now been sober for four years and has her two youngest children back with her.
        Well, he kept running away and kept getting put in juvenile. Every time he was out he would run again. One time he went over the wall at juvenile. Of course they caught him right away.Then he started running away and stealing cars. The last time (at 15) he stole a vehicle with guns in it. He didn’t know the guns were there until he stopped, and gave them away (!!) Back to juvenile he went. Got released AGAIN, ran away in less than 48 hours and was on the loose over a week. This time he and some other boys staged a fight and when the guard intervened, they beat him up and ran. This is what got him sent to the county jail. And led to him being certified as an adult. Grandson did not contribute to beating the guard, but he DID come up with the plan and was going to show them the quickest way to get away. He readily admitted that he came up with the idea, but that he did not hurt the guard.(They had to testify under oath that he didn’t participate in any violence.) Also they had the video proof that he did not. This is why his bail was set so high.
        So here we are. My prayer is that the right help can be found for him and that he doesn’t run away again before we get it for him. If any of you are praying people, I would appreciate you saying a prayer for him. And thank you to all of you who have been so kind and concerned. It really means a lot to me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have seen the power of group prayer, Phyllis, and I will join in on this one. May the other grandma bring him to the exact right doc for his needs.

          Keep us posted.

  17. Frontline: In the age of AI*

    Any one watch this documentary? I posted this last week and most of the commenters refered to employment, which was one part of five parts that the show delved into.

    Curious what others who watched the show thought not just about employment impact and job loss, but also the other 4 topics covered.

    1. KR*

      My husband has watched it and honestly I can’t watch it. I know it will send me into an anxiety spiral. Like global warming, sometimes what you can’t change is the scariest.

  18. Jenny*

    Looking for gift ideas for my seven year old nephew. The issue is he already has a ton of toys and my brother lives in a pretty small apartment. My mom (who loves nearby to my brother) commented on the lack of space. I would love to do experience gifts, but I live a plane ride away and have a small baby myself, so it isn’t as doable. Something that would be “used up” (like maybe a onetime science experiment?) Might work. My brother doesn’t really have any ideas but he echoes the “please don’t buy him a ton of stuff” (he was the only grandkid and great grandkid on both sides for some time so he got inundated with presents).

    Any ideas?

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      Kiwi Crate has subscription craft and science boxes for kids of all ages. They also sell single boxes and they have good Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals.

    2. Fikly*

      Is one of the toys something electronic he can read on? Or can he borrow from parents? My go to gift for kids is always books/graphic novels.

    3. Grace*

      When I was seven, I was big into dinosaurs (aren’t we all?) and I got one of those palaeontology excavation kits that are plaster-of-paris and plastic bones – it sounds cheesy, but I have really good memories of sitting at the kitchen table with my dad and chipping away at the ‘rock’ with the little tools. It’s more of an experience gift than a toy.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Membership to something local like a children’s museum or zoo? If he has a particular interest like climbing gyms or art classes or karate, some classes or lessons in his area of interest?

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes! “Experience gifts” don’t have to be “things I do with Nephew,” just “something nephew would enjoy”! Zoo pass, art/tech classes, etc. Love the idea of a magazine subscription too.

      2. A bit of a saga*

        This! We get an annual pass to the local zoo from my parents every year. It’s really great – no extra stuff in the house and the kids (and we) love it. My kid (also 7) is also very much into magazine subscriptions. She also enjoys receding clothing but that might be a girl thing? Thank you for trying not to bring too much more stuff into their lives. We have some family members who will buy a ton of stuff no matter what we say and I’m already tired just thinking about the mountain of stuff we don’t need that we have to haul back from Christmas.

    5. Cruciatus*

      Could you buy a computer game (Minecraft or something like that)? Magazine subscription (I know it’s “stuff”, but only once a month and it’s recyclable!)? A subscription snack box (or similar)? Again, “stuff” but it’s eaten!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Not sure of budget, but can you do experience gifts where you send cash to your brother (or a gift card, but cash is flexible) and he takes your nephew to try to the rock-climbing wall or for a day on the bumper boats?

      Also, cash can be a great gift for kids from geographically distant older relatives–its fungible and flexible. They can go buy the really cool new hat that is the talk of the first grade. Checks from my kids’ grandmother were deposited in their savings account, and I think as appreciated as the regular gifts from the other grandmother.

    7. Ranon*

      Cricket media does wonderful magazines for kids, my grandma gave me a subscription and I still have really find memories of it. It looks like they have a non-fiction/ science one for his age called Ask and a fiction one called Spider, plus they have others for older age groups so you could answer this question for yourself forever…(and get Babybug for yourself and your young kiddo, it’s great!)

      1. Wandering*

        Yes! Was coming here to suggest this. My nieces & nephews loved getting their very own mail every month, with pictures & stories etc. Cricket is a good source.

      2. LizB*

        I got these magazines from Babybug up through Cicada, and I LOVED them. I’m so glad they’re still being made!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      He might be a little young, but we gave our neph his first wallet. It was a big success. There is a hidden message with a wallet- “We see you as growing and maturing, so you will need this.”

    9. Platypus enthusiast*

      My cousins are the same age and some of their sport/club/activity gear can get expensive (here’s looking at you, tap shoes), so maybe something that he might need or want for activities. Or if there’s a local sport team he likes, maybe tickets to a game? I would have loved to be given a museum pass but my parents were pretty busy working, so that probably wouldn’t have been used much.

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Equipment and instructions for a hobby? Inexpensive digital camera, stuff for knitting, crochet, cooking, beginning origami, magic?

    11. Amy*

      Annual passes to local attractions (zoo, science museum, water park?). Gift cards for downloadable games or books. His favorite snacks. An invitation to visit and do something fun with you. Fun school supplies for the new semester. A gift certificate to a “kid” place – trampoline park, etc. – to cover him and two friends for an afternoon.

    12. Nancy*

      My seven year old son is very into a couple of series of books: Beast Quest by Adam Blade and the Jack Stalwart series by Elizabeth Singer Hunt. Or a gift card to a local trampoline park, adventure playground or similar? Or, my son is always absolutely delighted to get money and plan his own spending (although that way we do always end up with more plastic stuff in the house).

    13. Salymander*

      A Write Your Own Book kit?

      My daughter had one. Write/illustrate maybe 15-20 pages and mail in, they send back a bound book with your child’s work. It is great. Not much work for the parents, and not a huge amount of packaging.

    14. LilySparrow*

      How about a Mystery Box? They get a series of packages in the mail with clues to follow/solve, and it all comes together in a story.

    15. Nita*

      Very kind of you to take your brother’s request for no more stuff seriously! Maybe ask him if books or art supplies would be OK? I mean, it’s kind of more stuff, but book are small and art supplies are one of those things kids need for school anyway.

    16. Pony tailed wonder*

      Why not a gift card for pizza so he can invite his friends over for pizza or have a slumber party with that pizza?

    17. Mindovermoneychick*

      Art supplies? Markers, crayons, gel pens, paper, glue, stickers – that sort of thing? It gets used up over time.

  19. Being a Friend/Medical stuff*

    Okay AAM crowdsourcing time.
    I have a friend. She is in New Mexico near Texas. She has an undiagnosed but very serious medical condition that will require her to fly to Minnesota. She is in a lot of pain and on pain meds.
    I have offered to fly to El Paso (no direct flights from where I live) and escort her to Minnesota and then drive to Rochester MN.
    I have been thinking. Is there another way? This will be expensive but also no fun for her. There is no direct flight and there will be layovers and transfers. We will be using wheelchair services.
    I have been looking at Medical transport but that seems like over kill. She doesn’t need an ambulance or medical professional escort.
    I have heard about “ride shares” on private planes but don’t know where to start on that.
    Anyone have any suggestions or links?

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Start with aircharity.org, they’re kinda built for people like your friend.

      blackbird air is one that does share / charters, but the FAA made it harder and most of the ‘for profit ride sharing’ companies are out of business (AirPooler, FlyteNow). If AirCharity can’t help directly, they may be able to point you to other resources.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Angel Flight may be an option – but there are a lot of requirements and its in small planes. However, the may be able to get her right into Rochester (sounds like shes going to Mayo?). It will be uncomfortable but any flight to Rochester or MSP from El Paso will require a connection.

    3. Anono-me*

      What a true friend.

      Would your friend be able to at least start her process at one of the other Mayo locations closer to her? For example maybe she could do the initial battery of testing at the Mayo in Arizona?

      Also have you two discussed the travel challenges with someone at Mayo? They probably have some resources and suggestions.

    4. SigneL*

      I was in a wheelchair for several months recently after a bad fall, and we had to fly to a wedding. The most difficult part for me was when I had to pee on the airplane – getting down the aisle and into/out of the bathroom was pretty bad.

      Airlines deal with people in wheelchairs all the time, so they will have people who can help when you board/deplane (but nothing happens fast – she may be the last to deplane). Everyone was very kind when I flew, but it wasn’t easy.

    5. Anon Here*

      Hmm. Just throwing this out there as a last resort. Try reaching out to the hobbyist flying community in her area* (NM and all of West Texas). Since it’s a remote area, there might be a friendly group of plane owners. She could be the one doing the reaching out, or you could.

      I bet if you started talking to people, you might find someone who could help. Obviously, offer payment. And do an informal background check. It’s something to try. You never know.

      *Obviously, there are some large cities in NM and El Paso is huge, but that region as a whole is vast and sparsely populated.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I second the idea of the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. I had a relative who went there and had a very good experience.

      I’ve had to do the medical air transport. It’s very expensive and insurance (understandably) is fussy about qualifications.

      One thing you might look into is Amtrak. It looks like there is a train from Albuquerque to Chicago and then one from Chicago to Rochester. If you get the most comfortable sleeper cars, this might be a better option than hectic airports followed by a long car drive.

    7. Being a Friend*

      Yes, Mayo. Things are changing and she might be staying down there. I am going to investigate to be how/where I can be most helpful. I lucky to have a flexible schedule and to be an higher ed academic and will be finishing my classes right before thanksgiving and don’t start up again for 10 days in December.

      Thank you. These are all great suggestions and yes she is in a small town rural area.

    8. MeM*

      I saw there are a number of American Airlunes flights from el paso to Minneapolis with only one stop – in Phoenix or DFW. I believe they also have some programs where people donate miles, so perhaps they would be able to help with cost. Also, might consider splitting the trip, i.e. fly to DFW, stay the night and then fly out the next day. It would be a long day driving to DFW, but perhaps that is a better alternative to changing planes.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        For context, that’s a 9+ hour drive. Not sure if that’s better than a flight plus layover or not.

  20. Fikly*

    I’ve been loving all the recommendations lately for shows to watch!

    I am apparently behind the times, because I had no idea about all the shows that are apparently on Youtube. Anyone have recommendations for ones found there? I am particularly charmed by charming/funny reality, think GBBS. I also quite enjoyed Blown Away on Netflix (I love crafts), but I’d love to explore just about anything.

    1. curly sue*

      I really enjoyed the various reality / history series that the BBC did with Ruth Goodman. She’s an historian and teams up with other experts like archaeologists to do living-history shows. Tudor Monastery Farm had them rebuild and live in a 16th century farm, but they’ve also done Victorian Farm – and a pharmacy one, I think – as well as a Wartime Farm.

      The BBC also did a couple of series where they took non-historians and made them live “historically” – Regency House Party was a bit of a structural disaster, but Coal House and Coal House At War were great fun. I think those are all on Youtube now.

      1. Jaid*

        I love Ruth Goodman and can’t recommend the “Farm” series enough. Tales from Green Valley, Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, and Tudor Monastery Farm. Add in the Christmas specials, Victorian Pharmacy, Secrets of the Castle, and you’ve got enough YouTube material to watch for months.

    2. OperaArt*

      I liked Blown Away, too. If you like competition shows about creative people, check out Skin Wars (body painting) and The Final Table (world class, international chefs). Both are available on Netflix.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      I’m not sure how much of it is available on Youtube, but there is a Great British Sewing Bee that might be up your alley!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not really what you are looking for but I just had to mention the space alien barn owls that somebody found, filmed and put on Youtube. I got roped into it because the still shots of these beings were going to keep me awake at night. The video was very funny. It looks like contractors in India found them in an attic. They are so ugly that they are cute, if that makes sense. The video is under two minutes though.

      1. Anoning as well*

        Ok, I watched the intro, and I laughed so much at the “is pottery better than sex” debate!

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I always recommend Big Dreams Small Spaces on Netflix – a British show about 2 families making over their back gardens into dream spaces. Very cozy and reasonably informative for reality TV.

      1. Fikly*

        Oh, hard agree! I watched that because of a recommendation here – was it you? – and was utterly delighted.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      I loved Blown Away! I’m currently watching The Apartment, it’s ok. I have loved ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ for years – skilled dancers learning new styles – but I’m having a hard time finding them now that I’ve cut the cable / network and am all streaming.

      For non-reality shows, I love Midsommer Murders. They’re funny.

      1. Fikly*

        Huh, Apartment could be interesting, thanks!

        I loved So You Think You Can Dance for years, but eventually the camera work got to the point where it interfered so badly the watching the actual dance that I gave up. I was very frustrated.

        Midsommer Murders is a riot!

  21. Asenath*

    One of my co-workers came to work last week with a terrible cold, in spite of us encouraging her to take more sick leave. I feel like I’m coming down with it now, and am hoping and praying it is my imagination, or if it isn’t, my immune system will throw it off in – well, less than 24 hours? I’m in a choir on Sunday, and my other choir has major extra rehearsals starting Monday in final preparation for our concert the following Sunday. I can’t possibly sing while coughing and sneezing and spreading germs to the other singers!!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      My husband got a really bad cold from his coworkers and was sick as a dog last weekend. Tuesday I started feeling my usual precursors to a cold (sinus headache and throat-clearing). I’ve felt the same all week, with the addition of a scratchy throat yesterday and today, but it hasn’t gone beyond that. I kind of wish it would, because then I’d know I’ll start feeling better in X number of days. On the other hand, I don’t want a full-blown cold. It’s really annoying. I don’t really feel good enough to workout or have a desire to be out and about, but it’s not enough to justify staying home from work.

    2. LGC*

      Oh no! Hopefully you don’t get it as bad as she had it!

      I’d almost advise resting as much as humanly possible today and seeing how you feel tomorrow. Rest your voice. You might want to call out tomorrow anyway just to avoid being as contagious.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Gargle with hot salt water, take some emergen-c and elderberry (good research on this shortening the duration of a virus)! Easier to prevent at early onset than treat once it hits!

    4. No Name Left*

      Zinc supplements may help. I am taking a zinc + selenium supplement daily and it seems to work in preventing and shortening colds.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I take zinc in tiny amounts because a full dose causes big-time nausea. It helps prevent colds but I still get a significant cold about every other year.
        Good health to all!

    5. No fan of Chaos*

      Get Zicam nose swabs. Works great to shorten colds and helps with soar throats. I volunteer at an elementary school and need help often.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        The FDA warned in 2009 not to use Zicam intranasal products after some people permanently lost their sense of smell. Just a heads up.

  22. Frooty Circles*

    My daughter is two and a little chubby. I’ve worked with kids for a longtime and know they gain and lose weight throughout childhood. She is very healthy and active. Doctor is not concerned about her weight as she’s an active kiddo. Grandma (ex’s mom) stated we would need to start teaching her how to ‘suck it in.'(her belly) I said, “ha, yeah, nope. Not at all.” I know she was serious as she told daughter’s older cousin who’s a little heavier this all the time. I used to tell the cousin not to suck it in as she was fine the way she was. I know this will get brought up again especially the older my daughter gets. I want to get grandma to stop and not influence my daughter and her view of herself. What do I say?

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Big picture: Talk to grandma before you go, on the phone, and say that she can’t make comments about your kid’s body / figure / weight. Tell her that this is a serious issue for you, and if she does make comments, you’re going to have to leave. *IF* you really like her, sit and listen to why she’s so obsessed with weight (in a 2yo! yeesh!), but in the end, that’s her problem to deal with, you just want to set the boundary so that it doesn’t become your kid’s problem too.

      In the moment: “We don’t talk about people’s bodies like that, grandma”. “Doc says kid is fine just the way she is”, and leave.

      Grandma *will* get upset. Grandma will push back. If you hold the boundary, Grandma will stop making those comments.

      Google “Captain Awkward weight comments” for more scripts and validation that you can and should have these conversations, and set these boundaries.

    2. Anon Here*

      “Please don’t say that to her.”

      But she might not change, no matter what you say. She might smile and nod and then tell your daughter to, “Suck in your tummy,” when you’re out of hearing range.

      So focus on what to say to your daughter. For example, you could explain that Grandma grew up in a different era and may give advice that doesn’t apply today, and talk about that. I don’t know what that conversation would look like at your daughter’s current age (kids are so different), but I would start preparing for it.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I think digging into body acceptance stuff and starting to think about scripts NOW is helpful. Being a female alive in the world means dealing with body-shaming, so it’s better to have armor against that.

        Also, Frooty, your language that you use around your own body is going to be a powerful protector for your daughter. She’ll naturally mimic how you speak about your body in how she thinks and speaks about her body.

    3. legalchef*

      What?? That’s ridiculous. All toddlers have a little round belly that sticks out. Even mine, who is the skinniest little guy (to the point where I need to sew his pants smaller at the waist) has a little belly. Toddler bellies are the cutest.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Infants and toddlers have much bigger livers, relative to their body size, than adults. Thus the pooch.

        1. legalchef*

          That’s interesting, I had no idea that was the cause! I figured it was due to undeveloped muscles/ligaments related to posture.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t know what the custody situation is, but can you warn her than any comments on daughter not being thin enough will lead to you taking her and walking out? And follow up?

      Ideally, it takes only the warning to realize you are serious and won’t tolerate this.

    5. Parenthetically*

      “Granny, please don’t. First of all, ‘sucking it in’ can cause pelvic floor problems as she ages. Also, we don’t make comments on people’s bodies. All bodies are good.”

      “Granny, I’ve asked you to stop making comments about Daughter’s body.”

      “Sweetie, you don’t need to suck it in, your belly is good!”

    6. Gaia*

      Wow that’s seriously messed up. Your child is 2! As you know, toddlers gain and lose weight because they are growing rapidly. The only people that should be having discussions about concerns around her weight would be her parents (you) and her doctor – neither of which are concerned. And CERTAINLY the grandmother should never be discussing this with your young child. Children are inundated with messages about their body all the time. Why on earth would her grandmother want to make that worse!?

      Finally, a PSA for those that still can’t wrap their minds around it: weight does not inherently = health. One can be the “right weight” and unhealthy and one can be the “wrong weight” and healthy. It is way more complex than that.

    7. lasslisa*

      First: TWO YEARS OLD? That is completely inappropriate.

      I had a grandma who taught me to “suck it in” as a teenager, and it was pretty upsetting at the time though I’m glad to have learned that’s a thing you can do along with all the other ways you can use body language to impact how you’re read. But TWO YEARS OLD? Jeez. No.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      This is such bad advice for oh-so-many reasons.

      I would lie like a carpet: “So, Grandma, I spoke to the doc about your advice and he said not to do this as it can cause many health issues. Please stop saying this to my daughter.”

      Watch this woman. Seriously.

      1. Observer*

        You don’t need to lie – any competent doctor would agree with this. But Grandam is not likely to listen or care.

    9. Amy*

      That’s wildly inappropriate. Don’t normalize it and have an assortment of automatic replies. E.g.,
      “Wow! That’s such a bizarre thing to say.”
      “Stop sexualizing my child.”
      “You’re so rude to focus on her appearance.”
      To your daughter, “Ignore grandma. She’s getting old and she forgets that nice people don’t comment on other people’s bodies.”

      1. Observer*

        “Stop sexualizing my child.”

        Bad idea – this is not about sex and bringing that up is just going to side track the conversation.

        One I would add is “My doctor disagrees with you.”

        1. Ramona Q*

          Sexualization isn’t limited to sex: it also includes objectification and body image stuff. It’s a totally appropriate term to use in this discussion.

    10. yikes*

      Never leave your child alone with her. My mother did this to me from an early age causing all sorts of body image issues and an eating disorder. I remember being shamed of how I looked in a bathing suit as young as 7. “to suck in my gut. ” I was not chubby, I was not overweight.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, never leave your kid alone with her. And if grandma says anything like that, leave with your kid.

    11. ..Kat..*

      Tell her you will leave with your daughter if she makes these inappropriate comments. And then DO IT. And never leave your daughter alone with her.

    12. food*

      Please fight this and people have given good suggestions so I will just add please watch the grandmother/child interactions. One thing my grandmother did all the time when we would eat at my grandparents’ place, at least once a week, was give me a visibly smaller portion of food than everyone else and you can bet I made up for it by binging afterwards because I could not articulate the rage I felt or say it even if I understood it at that young age (like 5-6).

    13. Teach*

      Grandma gets no alone time with kiddo, first of all. If she can’t lay off body shaming A TODDLER she gets no time at all.
      I know this sounds harsh, but I only found out in DD’s therapy sessions what a grandparent had been saying and teaching her for years on girls’ days. Including being “so proud” of her at the point the Drs were talking about hospitalizing her for anorexia.

  23. Fikly*

    Some of you may remember I got a bad concussion in July. It’s the only one I’ve ever gotten, and I was completely unprepared for how much it would affect me, especially cognitively.

    Well, a few days ago, at the thing we do not mention on weekends, I had my most productive shift since the concussion. I’d say I was at about 75% of pre-concussion, but honestly, it felt so good to get to 75%. It’s been a long slog, and for the first time it felt like getting back to pre-concussion levels was a possibility.

    In other health news, thank you to everyone who commented on my back last weekend! I was able to see my psyiatrist on Monday (bless her and her office, I called first thing Monday morning, was seeing her 2 1/2 hours later) and x-rays showed C8 arthritis that is almost certainly the cause of the numbness in my left hand, and she strongly suspects a herniated T6. I’m having MRIs of cervical and thoracic spine on Tuesday to get a better picture of what’s going on.

    I’ve been working with my physical therapist, and have managed to find a better way to sit that has reduced my overall pain levels, but last managed to accidentally shift in some way that shot my pain up to stunning levels. Unfortunately I don’t remember how I moved. Hopefully I’ll get some answers soon!

  24. Smelly Apartment*

    I’ve been having an issue at my apartment that I asked the office for help with. Basically someone in my apartment building is smoking weed and the smell is coming into my bathroom very strongly most nights. I don’t care at all if my neighbor smokes, and this would be 0% of an issue if they were doing it in their car, a room in their apartment that didn’t vent into mine, edibles, etc. I only care that it comes into my space.

    I really dislike the smell (it makes me nauseous), and the washer/dryer is in the bathroom so I’m worried the smell is seeping into my clothes. I’m supposed to interview for a law internship at a more traditional firm very soon so I can’t smell like that.

    The office was very unhelpful, with the attendant just saying “LOL its not a big deal” and that nobody would admit to it so there was no point trying to do something. He apparently also lives in my building and can smell it too but doesn’t care.

    Anybody have any practical advice for keeping the smell out of my unit, or suggest if I should keep following up with the office? They suddenly replaced the whole management team a few months ago without explanation and maybe it’s just that the old team set an incredibly high bar, but the new team just doesn’t seem to care about anything (online reviews confirm this).

    1. Anon Here*

      You need a way to document what’s happening. Keeping records of your complaints needs to be part of that, so try to communicate with the office by email even if you also stop by. You might get a different response in writing.

      This is really tricky because pursuing it further would probably involve getting someone in trouble. I get that you want to avoid that. The office shouldn’t be putting you in that position.

      I can think of a few approaches. One approach would be to stop referring to it as a weed smell and instead just say, “the smell of something burning,” or something else generic. “A burning smell is coming through the vent and causing my clothes to smell bad. It is also making me nauseous, which has caused me to miss work. I mentioned this to the office once and no action was taken.”

      If they don’t respond, get your clothes washed at a laundry service or dry cleaner, send them the receipt and let them know that you’ll be deducting it from your rent. If that’s not possible, ask for reimbursement. If it’s making you sick, go to the doctor. Send them a copy of the bill. See if the doctor can write some kind of statement that you could also send them. And go as high up the chain as possible. The management needs to see this as, “Something burning in building. Expensive. Causing health problems for tenant.” That should get a response.

      You can also look for tenants’ rights organizations in your area. That can be a good source of info about what laws apply and how to handle these kinds of issues.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        deducting it from your rent

        Depending on OP’s location, it can put them in a very, very unfavorable position (read: place them on the road toward eviction) if they do this, without putting the landlord on notice first and putting funds into an escrow account. Laws vary by jurisdiction, but in general it’s bad news for the tenant who quits paying their full rent without taking some other steps first, and just showing dry cleaning receipts to your landlord won’t be enough.

        OP, before you start doing anything with your rent payments, talk to a tenants’ union or a landlord-tenant lawyer.

        1. Anon Here*

          Yes! That’s why I mentioned asking for reimbursement as another option. It depends on where you are and what your situation is.

    2. Cats cats cats*

      If you’re worried about your clothes smelling, I strongly recommend Freshwave IAQ products. It works like Fabreeze, but actually destroys the odor molecules (as opposed to covering it up). It’s oil based and organic, so it doesn’t affect people with asthma or allergies the way some products do. It does have a slight smell when first applied, but that goes away after about 30 seconds. I have the same issue at my apartment, so I feel your pain.

    3. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

      I think you need to take this higher. You said “they” replaced the management team, so take it to whoever “they” are. Inform them that you informed the office of the problem, and while they are actually aware of the problem your complaint was ignored and belittled as no big deal.

    4. Zona the Great*

      Honestly, as a stoner myself, I’d appreciate if you just came and told me how it comes into your place. Most of us are super chill, ya know! We also can’t smell our own exhaled smoke. Bring them a bag of Funyuns to help the medicine go down.

      1. Smelly Apartment*

        This would have been my first approach because in my experience y’all are pretty nice! However there’s quite a few units in my building so I can’t tell where the source is.

        I wish the complex would just put out a memo to everyone in the building that the smell travels. I bet the person doing it might not realize its impacting other units and finds another way to enjoy.

      2. LilySparrow*

        This was my first thought, not as a stoner but as a frequent neighbor of people with annoying habits that intrude on my “quiet enjoyment.”

        Whether it’s music, smoke, or a barking dog, most people want to be good neighbors. Some are jerks, but it’s certainly worth a try.

        If you don’t know which apartment it is, start with the one that most closely abuts your bathroom and say something like, “I have a wierd situation where somebody seems to be smoking at night, and the smell really fills up my bathroom, have you noticed that?”

        If it’s them, you could ask them to close the vent or put a fan out the window, or just use a different room.

        If it’s not them, you haven’t said anything un-neighborly. And they might know who it is.

    5. No fan of Chaos*

      Take painters tape-the blue tape that doesn’t remove paint- and a large piece of cardboard-the kind you get at Michaels that isn’t too thick. Tape the cardboard over the fan or vent in your bathroom. You may need to take to fan cover off if it is too thick. This will stop the smell. I used to have to tape around my entry door when the neighbors had a party. This also works for cigarette smoke.

      1. assistant alpaca attendant*

        Air purifier but if it’s making you naseous and stinking up your clothes you shouldn’t have to pay money in your own apartment.

        Sending sympathy as fellow person who gets sick from smoke.

        Is your building non smoking?

      2. Smelly Apartment*

        Thank you! Someone told me to put dryer sheets into the vent but I was worried they might be toxic to my cats. I might try this instead.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I was gonna say, I did this in college when a group of students moved across the hall from me. A stench like wet burnt dog hair would regularly waft into my place through a large vent near the front door of my apartment, and it was just awful. I don’t know what in hell they were doing over there — smoking hash? Burning weird food? Never found out. I just taped a paper grocery bag over the vent and it cut the smell down quite a bit.

    6. Orange You Glad*

      Not quite the same but my bathroom vent goes to the roof and during the winter there is a strong draft coming down. Like my towel was moving on the rack because there was enough of a breeze INSIDE my windowless bathroom!

      I covered the vent with white duct tape on the metal vent cover and viola! No more draft!

      Then in the spring I used GooGone to get the sticky tape residue off. So depending on which vent it is, covering it so it’s airtight might be your best option!

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Better than duct tape for this type of thing is gaff tape. It looks a lot like duct tape, but has better adhesive on it making it both stick better AND removes easier, leaving little or no residue. But it’s pricey.

    7. Earthwalker*

      In addition to the fan you might check all the water inputs into the room, like the ones under the sink, and stuff/tape/caulk any gaps you find between pipe and wall. We got our neighbors’ cockroaches via the pipe gaps once.

  25. Snarflepants*

    Cat genetics people, my foster kittens need to know who their parents are! I’m fostering six kittens, and I’m wondering what their parents looked like. All kittens are long haired. Three are tortishell females. One is a brown (probably) Male tabby. Two, a male and female, are white seal lynx point with blue eyes. My punnet square genetics skills are a bit rusty. Though both parents had long fur, as that is a recessive trait. Both parents had blue eye recessive genes. The genetics for black fur and orange fur are carried on the X chromosome. Thoughts on kitten parentage?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I believe kitten appearance depends in part on womb environment. You can clone a cat and get a different appearance.

      1. Anon Here*

        That’s true for all living things! Environment, from conception on, influences the way genes are expressed (aka phenotype).

      2. anonhere*

        @Falling Dipthong That only applies to calico/tortie patterning; tortie/calico is genetic, but the process that assigns black or orange to each cell in the embryo is epigenetic. Any cat clone will have the same base coloring as the parent, it’s only the specific markings that come out differently.

        @Snarflepants I’m no expert, but I’d guess you’re looking at two different fathers, one a tabby and one either a Siamese mix or a Himalayan.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, that’s interesting! I know a bit about horse genetics (though some of it’s out of date), and it’s similar with white markings–whether the horse gets them or not is genetic, but the extent is not.

    2. Anon Here*

      You’re on the right track, but that’s not how it works. Recessive genes are not always expressed. They’re the type of gene that can be passed on without showing up as a phenotype. I’ll explain below.

      But first! Many traits are influenced by multiple genes. The punnett square model only applies to certain kinds of genes and even those can be expressed as different phenotypes depending on other variables. Human hair color – you could have two recessive genes for blond hair, which would, in theory, cause you to have blond hair, but not if you have another gene (inherited or by mutation – we all have some of those) telling your body to produce darker hair. It happens.

      Recessive genes are the small letter on the punnett square.

      Cat parents: Sl + Sl = SS, Sl, Sl, ll. Each kitten has a 1/4 chance of getting the genes for a long hair phenotype. The Sl ones could wind up with long hair if the S is not expressed (rare, but it happens). The SS ones will have short hair. Or an additional inherited gene or mutation could cause long hair.

      Sl + ll = Sl, Sl, ll, ll. Each kitten as about a 50% chance of having long hair, with the previously explained exceptions applying.

      These are odds that apply to each offspring. There could be a litter of seven long haired kittens that all got the 25% chance of having long hair – their parents were both short haired and carried a gene for long hair.

      Genetics are very complicated. The relationship between two parents’ genes and phenotypes -> their offspring’s genes and phenotypes is complicated.

      There’s no way to tell what the parents looked like. But, yes, you can make informed guesses. Statistically, there is a good chance that one had long hair and one had blue eyes, but it’s impossible to say for sure.

      1. Snarflepants*

        Given that all six kittens have long hair, it’s more likely that both parents had that genotype. Though yes, it’s possible that six kittens got the lucky 25% chance of having long hair.

    3. Mango*

      Do you know for sure if all kittens had the same father? Our vet swears my two cats must have had different dads even though they were born in the same litter. Apparently it’s common and cat uteruses are designed to accommodate multi-father litters.

        1. Anon Here*

          Do you know anything about where they came from? Were the parents house cats or feral? If feral, what kind of climate?

          1. Snarflepants*

            They are formerly feral kittens found on a farm and brought to an animal shelter. (Say that five times quickly). So I don’t know anything about the appearance of either parent.

            1. Anon Here*

              But that’s a clue! If the parents were feral, natural selection is a factor, as is the local gene pool. Often, there is less variety in the appearance of feral cats in a given area than house cats. In places where I’ve lived, the feral cats have tended to be short haired or long haired according to the climate, for example.

                1. Venus*

                  A big reason for the lack of colony variety, in my experience, is that it starts with only a few cats and they protect their territory, so they are all related. In some situations the colonies draw from a bigger gene pool (cottage country where people leave behind their cats in fall).

                  As these come from a feral colony, it is very likely they have different fathers, and with the range of colours I would guess an area with seasonal folks (cottagers) nearby.

    4. lasslisa*

      Well, if you’ve got tortoiseshell cats they’re going to have both Black and Orange on their X color genes, so you know their genetic makeup there. All three being torties and no black ones implies to me the dad was orange, though 1/8 or so chance they got the orange from Mom. If Mom was solid orange (homozygous) all the kittens would have some orange so we can rule that out. So probably orange dad, mom heterozygous black. Black is dominant so she must have also had another color gene to produce the brown brother.

      Now, the lynx point: this is its own mutation related to albinism, and the blue eyes come with it (not from the parents’ eye color genes). Looks like it’s recessive, so both parents have to have had a copy. Could be two dads, one homozygous for it and one without it, or one heterozygous dad. From the numbers I’d assume one (but can’t be all) of the parents was homozygous colorpoint. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_coloration

      Haven’t looked at the tabby gene yet and out of time for now but hope this is helpful!

      One dad is (O,Y)
      Mom is (Black, brown)
      And at least one of the parent cats (possibly both mom and one dad if the kittens have different dads) will have visible colorpoint, which would limit that color expression to the “points”.

        1. lasslisa*

          Oh, and if you just want to know how the parents *looked*, then you don’t need to know tabby or not because a black coat (mom) doesn’t really show tabby patterning and an orange coat (dad) is always tabby-appearing regardless of the genes. But there were some tabby genes in there because that’s how you get lynx point.

  26. Sorgatani*

    This week and month have been highs and lows.

    On the highs: Good Omens finally came out in physical format. It’s not perfect, but nothing really is. And I really enjoyed it. Go watch Good Omens!

    On the lows: I’ve had to deal with a few people whose social behaviour and topics of choice vex me greatly.
    The feeling of “I don’t have words to address what is bugging me about this interaction, and I don’t think the message would be received if I were to deliver it” has been overwhelming my headspace.
    Politics, relationships, and tone deafness, Oh my!
    So that was the start of the week. By the end of it, I’d told 2 people to stop raising certain subjects with me – it worked in the moment, but we’ll see how well my message sticks.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      One thing I have enjoyed reading here is that people are so good at putting things into words where I can’t find the words. I know my life is better for this experience.
      But, yeah. sometimes people can leave us really speechless.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I binged Good Omens (streamed) this week and endorse your recommendation. A good mixture of funny and clever and stimulating.

      I have also had to deal with “why even are people like this” stuff this week and sympathise. However, we remember that there are many good, honest and kind people about. When people are sucking, I look for the goodies.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      I wonder what Terry Pratchett would have thought about that group who tried to pressure Netflix into not making a second season.

  27. families!*

    I signed up for the first time to buy a gift for a kid for the holidays, and the nonprofit organizing this said the max they are told to ask for is around $40. Now my request has come in and it’s an iPhone 6 and case…and well that is more than $40 and more than I can/want to spend. Or do I buy what looks to me as questionable ebay purchases? (granted I am not an ebay purchaser and tend to not buy especially electronics that way; maybe I’m just overprivileged). Did the adult worker who submitted the requests have a conversation with the kid at all? I hate to break the heart of a kid who is in a tough situation but I also am upset at being in this situation when I was trying to be generous.

    1. SigneL*

      Yes, I’d talk to the nonprofit. They really don’t want kids getting very expensive gifts, for a variety of reasons.

    2. Gift giving*

      Ugh, this same thing happened to me many years ago. The child’s request was for a game system (like a Nintendo, or Xbox) which was way more than what I had the budget for. In my case, the non-profit included a note that said they realized this was out of many people’s means and that I should feel free to buy a gift I thought the child would like that was more inline with my budget. So that’s what I did. But I can definitely empathize with your feelings – I had been excited to buy something for a kid and then felt like in the end I was letting him down because I wouldn’t be able to deliver to his expectations. I agree with the other comments, reach out to the non-profit to see what they recommend. I would expect they would advise you to buy something else instead.

      1. Gift giving*

        I’ll also add, that now as a parent I’ve had to on a few occasions have Santa bring something other than what was asked for, like Legos instead of a Nintendo DS, and my child was still incredibly happy. So even if you are not getting what was requested, try not to feel like you are letting the child down or anything. Sometimes we don’t get what we ask for, but we can still have joy in receiving a gift.

    3. Jdc*

      Wtf. I stopped doing these when the list was items each worth hundreds of dollars. A $1000 phone? Ya. So inappropriate.

      1. spock*

        An iphone 6 is much closer to 100 than 1000 dollars. More than 40 but it’s really not as out there as that

    4. Alex*

      The organization really should have shut that down. There’s a reason that they ask for the dollar limit–because kids open their gifts in front of other kids (family or otherwise) that also had gifts bought by someone else, and they don’t want wild differences between the gifts. But to that end, they need not let requests for iphones go out. When a kid says “I want an iphone” they need to be redirected. Any kid asking for an iphone can understand “woah, Santa has a budget. What else can you come up with?”

      I’d go back to the organization and ask for their advice.

      1. Washi*

        Yep! Or if not shutting it down, had the kid list some alternatives as well. (I just made a list like this with a client, and her daughter asked for an American girl doll, which is not the same level as an iphone, but still pretty expensive! I was like “let’s think of some other options in case Santa is out of American girl dolls…”)

      2. Clisby*

        Another reason I would hesitate to buy a cellphone is wondering whether the family can afford to keep it active. I might check into TracFone and see if there’s a $30 phone I could add a LOT of minutes to – but even then, the time will run out.

        Sometimes they ask for items where you can find a more affordable substitute – for example, Target sells knockoff American Dolls.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Or that the family even wants the kid to have an iPhone. It’s possible the child is asking for something that their parent specifically said they can’t have, for reasons other than financial. A lot of parents don’t want their kids having a smartphone and unrestricted internet access…even rich ones.

    5. Goldfinch*

      This is why I quit participating in the angel tree at work. The wish lists were all Beats headphones and brand name eyeshadow palettes from Sephora. I can’t even afford that stuff for myself.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I had a terrible experience with this years ago, but I still do the angel tree because I’m a big sap. I also grew up pretty poor, so I remember what it was like to feel left out when school started up after Christmas and everybody was talking about their ski vacations to Vail and the $500+ worth of gifts they got for Christmas.

        Anyway, I “adopted” a family one Christmas. The mother sent me a list of requested items, including Ugg boots x four kids. I told her those boots are almost $200 a pair and would not be able to buy four pairs of them. I ended up getting them clothes, nail polish, board games, cosmetic sets, and so forth. I gave them the gifts, and then later that day, I got a nasty email from the husband saying his wife had locked herself in the bathroom and wouldn’t come out because I RUINED her Christmas with the wrong clothing sizes. I was like, hey, I shopped from the list she give me. It’s possible the brands I got ran small or big, but I did buy the sizes I was told to buy. My husband is convinced they were scammers who got ticked off that I did not buy them $800 worth of Uggs.

        Now I only do angel trees through recognized charities. (This adoption thing was done through an online community group, so there were no official organizers and nobody making sure everything was legit.)

      2. Nita*

        Same here. I came in 100% wanting to do something nice for a kid whose family is on a limited budget, but for the last few years, most of the requests were for ridiculously expensive stuff (none of it super necessary, either). I stopped when I realised these are the kind of gifts I can’t really afford for my own kids…

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t know if this helps but an iPhone 6 is super out of date and a refurb can be had for around $100 via reputable retailers, not necessarily ebay. I realize that’s still well above what they told you to expect, but it’s still way less than if they’d asked for a current phone. If it’s still beyond what you’re willing to do I agree with others that you should contact the org and point out the discrepancy between the range they told you and how much the request realistically costs.

        1. CastIrony*

          Agreed, but it was $150 for my sister’s 6s two weeks ago. Perhaps the price went down since, but I agree this is a great idea if their parents want to pay the $45 a month for the service.

          Either that, or the child can have WhatsCall, which is an app that lets people make calls over wi-fi.

      1. ..Kat..*

        My husband replaced his 6 early this year. Most of his apps no longer worked. And Apple was no longer supporting the operating system so anything that did work was not secure (as in easy to hack). Plus, by now, the battery of a 6 is probably crap. Please go back to the organization and ask them to talk to the child about this.

        Maybe the child wants to use it just to text wherever they can get free WiFi? Which would not require monthly cellular payments.

        PS. I have an old iPod (I think 2 to 3 years old). Battery needs to be replaced – I think about $35 at BatteriesPlus. The screen and body are in excellent shape. I’d be happy to wipe it and mail it to you for free if this would work. If this appeals to you, respond to this comment and we can have Alison connect us.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Oops. My husband says his phone was a 5 not a 6.

          FYI, BatteriesPlus does caution that changing the battery always has the risk of killing the iPod.

          Offer still stands. Charger cable and plug included.

          Make sure the child knows many apps no longer work on it. Don’t want to disappoint a child.

  28. Twilight novels?*

    What age is appropriate to read the Twilight novels? I’ve never read them, nor seen the movies, though I have the general idea on what they’re about. My daughter found the first one in the library and started reading it. She’s on the younger side, but is a voracious reader and has already read stuff like the Hunger Games, Divergent series, etc. How different is Twilight in terms of age appropriateness?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Based on my daughter, now early 20s–I don’t think it has anything harder to deal with than Hunger Games et al. I would let her select library books and read what sticks–don’t set anything up as the forbidden fruit. What readers take from books can wildly vary, and I think this is even stronger for young kids. I read Heinlein and shrugged off the sexist stuff because dude was old, like even older than my dad. Parents have read the Narnia books to their kids and been amazed at the hammer-like Christian allegory that sailed right over them as agog 8 year olds.

      1. Clisby*

        I tend to agree. My daughter and I read the Twilight series (I think she was about 13) and we talked about what an idiot Bella was. I read plenty of “inappropriate” books when I was growing up, and haven’t been scarred.

    2. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’d say it’s pretty similar to the series you mentioned, and wouldn’t worry about her reading it. I think it’s always a good idea to ask your kids open questions about what they’re reading, what they like about it, etc. and that way you might be able to glean if there’s any stuff you want to unpack with her.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Former junior high/high school lit teacher here: I mean, the big deal with Twilight is how super-yikes the relationship stuff is — obsessive, stalkery, OTT, instantaneous, possessive declarations of love from an ageless vampire to an insecure underage girl, presented as kind of the ultimate or highest form of love, and showing the hesitations and concerns of others as obstacles to be overcome rather than information to consider. Content wise apart from that? Eh. The relationship element is really worth encouraging her to think critically about — and really, I think that’s an important aspect of a parenting relationship with a voracious reader generally, not censoring their reading too strictly, but helping them do a bit of analysis, especially with books where the young female readers are sort of meant to see the main character as an avatar for themselves.

      1. Washi*

        Yep, this! I don’t think the writing is great, but I’m sure this is not the only crappy YA book she’ll read. My real concern is about someone young reading the Bella-Edward story and finding it incredibly romantic that like, he’s obsessed with her and she regularly ditches her friends for him.

        Also, it can actually be really empowering to read something and to be able to articulate why the book’s assumptions are wrong. Reading something you dislike can clarify your own taste and opinions, and it would be a great exercise in critical thinking to discuss not just why Twilight’s relationships are unhealthy, but why it’s so popular, why teens and even adults love it so much, etc.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I agree – it’s a portrait of an abusive relationship, so I think that is a conversation to have with her, but I wouldn’t try to discourage her from reading it

      3. Arts Akimbo*

        Agreed. It’s incredibly disempowering to the teen girl being stalked by the over-100-y-o superpowered guy. It’s so toxic, basically she tries to run away from him at several points and he does things like sabotage her car to keep her at his side. I was disturbed reading that, especially because I could see myself as a kid growing up in a dysfunctional household thinking that was super romantic and really warping my view of adult relationships.

        If she reads these books, Twilight Novels?, please be prepared to discuss them with her. Ask her what she thinks of how Edward treats Bella. Ask her how she thinks the author treats Bella as a character.

    4. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I highly recommend books by Tamora Pierce instead. Her female characters are strong, interesting people, that work to get what they want instead of sitting around letting things just happen to them. No vamps, but there is magic.
      She has a few ‘worlds’ – The Circle of Magic and the Tortal worlds.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Esther Friesner has done a number of books reworking history or mythology, like Nobody’s Princess about a young Helen.

      2. TL -*

        Or in addition. There’s nothing wrong with the twilight books as part of a well-rounded reader’s library. If she really falls in love with them, have some discussions about how a fantasy love story would play out differently in real life.

        Reading level-wise, they’re about the same as The Hunger Games and content wise I’d say they’re probably a little easier for a younger person – THG get fairly violent.

    5. Amy*

      Well, they’re terrible books with cliche and awful messages about women and relationships. Having said that, the age appropriateness is on par with the other series you’ve listed. Thematically, it’s less mature than something like the Hunger Games.

    6. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      My parents didn’t monitor what I read, and I accidentally read…all types of stuff starting when I 10 y.o. in terms of sexually explicit material. I turned out fine (mostly.) I think it’s mostly fine with Twilight, as long as she doesn’t normalize the relationship dynamics in the book (which in my opinion are more worrying than sex stuff.)

      1. Not a cat*

        Same here (don’t do this), leading me to read “The Happy Hooker” (grabbed from my Mom’s bookshelf) at age 11. I don’t think I was damaged….I have vague memories of thinking “yuck!”

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          Haha. I read that as a kid too and “Fear of Flying” too (the one about zipless f**ks). I also remember finding a book of erotica while babysitting and there was a story about a man pleasuring a woman with a cooked sausage (literal, not a metaphor)… that one may have scarred me for a while.

    7. Jules the First*

      My mum’s rule when I was a precocious young reader venturing into the YA and adult shelves, was that anything not a parent-approved “children’s book” had to be left on the coffee table overnight, which had the dual outcome of preventing me staying up late reading when I was meant to be in bed, and gave my parents the chance to skim what I was reading so they could raise any potential discussion points later.

      I would say Twilight is fine for anyone 12+, but I would also recommend they pair it with something featuring healthier relationships and strong women (Kelley Armstrong has some great YA paranormal stuff, just check individual books carefully as it’s often shelved with her adult stuff which is, erm, definitely adult.)

      1. Teacher Lady*

        I teach 6th and 7th grades, and I wouldn’t give them to my students (based on content/themes). I’d say 8th grade (13/14) or older.

    8. Jenny*

      I read them when I was 16ish (I binge read them during a hurricane). They aren’t inappropriate per se but as mentioned above, the relationships in them are icky. If it’s just one thing she’s reading, I wouldn’t stress it. Kids read a lot of stuff. If she really gets into it, read them yourself and have conversations about why what Edward does in the book would be a red flag in real life.

    9. Jen Erik*

      My daughter and her friends were about 14 when Twilight came out, and read and reread it. Some of them were voracious readers, some not.

      I was too old to feel the charm (my 16 year old was too old to feel the charm) but I thought a lot of the criticism of it was overwrought.

      FWIW, my theory at the time was that it was the same dynamic as boy bands – I can’t remember the research, but the idea was that teenage girls who crush on those boys are rehearsing adult feelings in a safe way – and, among my daughter’s friends, that seemed true of this book as well.

      Having written that, I’m now thinking that they were all a bit older – and prepared to relentlessly make fun of the creepy baby – by the time that Breaking Dawn came out.
      I read them because the kids were reading them, so this is an impression from some time back: I might have a look at Breaking Dawn before she reads it if she’s younger and at all sensitive. I’m wondering if some of the baby killing Bella stuff might be a bit much for a younger audience.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I recall something written by a parent overhearing a group of young teenage girls talk about some actor crush. One of them sighed about somehow dating him one day and the others were like “No; by the time you’re old enough for that not to be gross, you won’t be into him any more.” They could distinguish between things that were fun as a fantasy, but not a model for real life.

        Agreeing with others re part of a well-rounded library, and not assuming that kids must copy every relationship they read about, like they have no other inputs into what makes a good or normal relationship. I enjoy well executed heist movies, while believing that stealing is wrong in real life.

    10. Ann O.*

      A kid that can handle Hunger Games and Divergent will definitely be fine with Twilight’s violence. There is a lot of overt discussion about sex, however, and a sex scene in the final book. It’s YA-appropriate, but significantly more graphic than anything in Hunger Games (and I haven’t read the Divergent series). Depending on your daughter’s age, that could be an issue.

      In terms of the critiques of the relationship dynamics in the series, personally I think the critiques get overblown. A lot of YA is full of problematic stuff that doesn’t get processed as literal models (although some of it is just problematic) (like V.C. Andrews novels!). I don’t find Bella/Edward any more problematic than Buffy/Angel.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Based on my reading history – if she’s not old enough to handle it, she’ll either think it’s boring and stop reading, or it’ll just go over her head. Either way, don’t stop her from reading them. Because if you try, that makes it forbidden fruit and she WILL read them.

      However, I don’t like those books for 2 reasons. One, they’re really badly written. And two, the “ideal relationship” dynamics depicted are pretty screwed up. You can’t protect her from it – those screwed up ideals are all over, not just in a few books. But you do need to add what a healthy relationship looks and feels like to your ongoing conversations with her, along with sex, consent, etc.

    12. Drago Cucina*

      13/14 would be my recommendation, but I wouldn’t worry too much if she’s read the other books you listed. The scene that turned me against Jacob when he kissed Bella, she slapped him, and he laughed because it didn’t hurt him.

      But, I was reading Harlequin romances at that age and the sappy heroines didn’t turn me into a door mat. One book, or series, probably won’t shape her entire world view.

    13. Traffic_Spiral*

      Eeh… I wouldn’t *stop* her from reading them if she’s already got them. That just makes them Cool and Forbidden. I’d sit her down and be like “ok, so fiction isn’t reality, and in the real world, stalkers are dangerous, and it’s not healthy to have that sort of obsession with a guy (or him with you).” Then make sure she has lots of better books to compare it with.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I was reading my father’s Travis McGee series at ten, my grandfather’s Frank Yerbys (male bodice rippers) at eleven and rounded it off with Georgette Heyer. My mother used to hide the John Updikes and Harold Robbins on top of the refridgerator. Guess she never realized I could hop on a chair.

  29. Anony Mouse*

    Update re: kitty—we’re bringing home a Siberian kitty this coming spring. :):)
    Ordered a wicker vase doubling as a cat scratcher for the living room. Fancy but cat-friendly. Cat/dog allergies plus autoimmune condition but making our dream come true. Will donate to our local animal shelter too.

    What do you wish you knew about cats, that you learned only after getting one?

    Also, am getting blood tests for ankylosing spondylitis. Has anyone gone through that due to eye issues?

    1. Amy*

      Ooooh. Congrats!

      I can’t think of anything I wish I knew before getting a cat, but I can think of a couple things I wish I knew before getting my Siberian. They are much more dog-like than other cats. They generally want to be with you, but still be independent. They are also very smart – opening cabinets and doors, pushing buttons, etc. – and I bought a lot of treat puzzles for dogs to keep him engaged. They are also very large for a cat. A lot of cat sized things I got were too small when he was grown (and he was the runt of the litter). We needed extra large litter boxes made for Maine Coons, extra tall scratchers, heavy scratchers so they didn’t fall when he leaned his weight into them, and heavy duty cat trees or they would rock and topple when he took a running jump to the top.

    2. blaise zamboni*

      Yay, congratulations! I love that you’re making your space cat-friendly already, that’s awesome.

      For things to know about cats…every cat is different so it’s kind of hard to say, especially without knowing your prior cat knowledge. But one thing that really surprised me (over 10 years and 4 cats) is that cats are very routine creatures. My cats don’t know why I’m gone most of the week, but they definitely notice if I’m home on weekdays or not home on weekends (they love one scenario and hate the other lol). This tendency can be used to your advantage, especially for a kitten. If you establish certain times as play-time, grooming-time, rest-time, the cat will usually follow your lead. Just try to be consistent.

      I have no input on the medical side, but good luck! I hope you get a solution to your issues soon.

    3. StrikingFalcon*

      I have AS. Developed the eye problems well after my diagnosis, but the medications available completely eliminate them. I only get flare ups if I have to stop my meds for some reason. Anything in particular you are wondering about?

      1. Anony Mouse*

        Thanks, good to know. Posting late. but–
        1. Did you have any symptoms prior to diagnosis? Any family affected too?
        2. I heard methotrexate might be medication used, but isn’t recommended for someone who’s pregnant. Does one stop taking the meds in that situation?

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          Yeah, I’d been dealing with increasingly long and intense flare ups of pain in my back/hips for about six years before I got diagnosed. The pain and stiffness are worst in the morning and gets better with movement, and periodically I would have pain so intense I could barely walk with a cane, lasting from a couple of hours to a couple of days. The medications prevent those intense flare ups also.

          No family history of AS specifically, but other, related diseases on both sides. Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, uveitis, and fibromyalgia all run together in families – there’s some sort of genetic link between them.

          Tell your doctor if you are planning to become pregnant in the future so you can talk about what medications make sense to take, and whether it’s safe for you to continue during pregnancy.

          Methotrexate is a treatment option, but should not be taken if you are trying to conceive or are pregnant. There are other options though, including some immunosuppressants called biologics due to how they are made. Of the biologics, Cimzia has been shown not to pass the placental barrier, so may be the safest option, although actual studies haven’t been done on any of the biologics.

  30. FYI - female related question below*

    Good morning! I was wondering if anyone has ever experienced some crazy hormonal changes after a long vacation? I went on a huge trip – 21 days – and was moving around a lot (6 flights, 2 trains, long car rides, etc.) and ever since I’ve been back which was early October, my cycles and hormones have been effed up.

    I have had normal cycles with out any random bleeding or out of the norm PMS symptoms my whole life and now I’ve had sore breasts for 6 weeks, my cycles are way off, I’ve got an ovarian cyst the size of a lemon, cramps for the last 2 weeks, and I’m either 10 days early on my period or my cyst has ruptured and it’s leaking blood. My gyno said “your trip didn’t do that to you” but I’m sure the stress of travel + eating like I have the metabolism of a 10 year old + drinking daily messed up my hormones a bit. In my 32 years of life I’ve never experienced anything like this. No change in medicine or anything else.

    Anyone ever experience this?

    1. Gaia*

      I haven’t personally, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

      Travel like that can be stressful on your body (even if you feel very relaxed) and stress can mess with hormone levels.

      It is also possible that it is unrelated to the trip and just a coincidence. Most of my 20s I had very regular cycles with incredibly light periods. Then, when I turned 30, one month my period started early and lasted for two months straight. It was so heavy I was going through 6+ super tampons a day (compared to using light tampons). Gyno did a full workup and nothing was “wrong.” He gave me some meds to stop the period and I changed my birth control to the implant to stop all future periods. He explained that sometimes, around 30, women can experience sudden changes in their cycles with no known “cause.” Sometimes it goes away, sometimes it stays. For me, I wasn’t willing to risk it staying.

      1. Original Poster*

        Holy crap. I would think I was dying if I was bleeding for 2 months!!

        Oh women and aging…. so many fun things.

        1. WTF Aging*

          Ha Ha! Did you know you can grow larger breasts at menopause? And it is considered normal? I’m up a full cup size+ and had to buy new bras. And my favorite shirt can’t be worn to work anymore. I DID NOT EXPECT THIS.

            1. WTF Aging*

              Dr said it’s about 1 in 5 women get enlargement, so maybe you will be in the other 80%. I got a whole science lecture about it (I like my doctor).

              To get back on topic, when I was younger, I did I find that I had some cycle changes when I traveled internationally. Nothing as severe as FYI, but noticeable. I always assumed it was the diet and sleep disruption that did it.

          1. Tris Prior*

            Huh. In my case that would be a positive! So far perimenopause has totally sucked ass for me, it would be nice if something good came out of it!

            1. WTF Aging*

              I don’t know. Reading some medical studies seems to indicate that it is unless you lose weight. Then it appears that breast size is more sensitive to overall body fat content than before menopause. My weight has been pretty steady for years, so I’ll be running my own one person experiment.

    2. Chaordic One*

      I’ve experienced similar things, although never as severe as what you are going through. Gaia is probably right when she points out the stress you’ve been through during your trip. My only advice is be good to yourself now. The usual things. Get enough sleep and try to keep regular hours (no staying up all night and sleeping all day), eat right, stay hydrated and try to fit in some light exercise even it is only something like taking a short walk for 10 or 20 minutes.

    3. moql*

      I had a hormone change after my last trip, although nowhere near as serious as yours. I had acne problems for the first time since college thacwent away after a month or my normal routine and diet.

  31. Sunflower Sea Star*

    Kitties and Christmas trees….
    We’ve had one kitty for about 10 years, but he was a quick learner and after a few days the first year has never, ever touched a tree.
    This year we have a second kitty, only a year old, and she’s a real stubborn and persistent stinker.
    Any ideas for keeping her out of the Christmas tree when she totally does everything she knows not to do the minute our backs are turned?
    It’s a good thing she’s cute and cuddly, too. Because she sure can drive me crazy!

    1. Worked in IT forever*

      To keep her out, there’s always a squirt of water approach. That might only work if you catch her in the act, though, so that might not work for you. The squirt of water works on our younger cat, and in fact I just have to pick up the squirt bottle, and she knows to stop what she’s doing … and save that behaviour for when we’re not around! (She likes to “playfully” ambush our old, slow-moving cat and to scratch the furniture.)

      The only other idea I have for keeping a cat out of a tree is maybe using some tin foil around the base of the tree. Some cats don’t like the feel of foil on their paws. We used to use it to help keep the younger cat off the counter. You might be able to find some festive foil wrap that looks better than kitchen tin foil.

      You’ve probably already heard that tinsel is bad for cats (in case she does get into the tree). Also, we put only “safe” ornaments like wood and cloth ones within kitty reach. Glass goes higher up. But that doesn’t work if you have a tree-climbing cat.

      1. Sunflower Sea Star*

        The squirt of water is what worked for out older cat. This one, though. Stinker does what she pleases when you aren’t around.

    2. Aphrodite*

      If you have a real tree do whatever you have to do to keep her from drinking the water. Most pre-cut trees leach the pesticides and other chemicals they have been treated with into the water; it can be toxic. Whether real or faux, will it have flocking; almost all flocking is also toxic. Needles may be toxic too. I went with faux trees a long time ago just for these reasons.

      Given the “cats and Christmas trees” images and videos found online, I would suggest securing the tree to the wall. Even if you squirt her with water that will only work when she knows you are not around–as you know. Best to assume she will go after it and just plan on it.

      Maybe consider giving your new baby her own tree, faux, with cat toys and shiny unbreakable ball ornaments as decoration on it. Encourage her to go after that. Good luck!

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I keep the water level in the tree stand low enough that my cat can’t fit her head that far down to drink it, with the low branches in the way.

    3. Salymander*

      We have feral cats. They were pretty wild in their early years. We just put up the Christmas tree a week early (minimum) so they could get the mischief out of their systems. A fake tree works best for this as no water to spill. Then, put less breakable ornaments on bottom of tree, so the more breakable stuff doesn’t get messed up. Maybe put only less breakable stuff on the tree the first year, as there is a good chance your kitties will still try to scale that tree and whack ornaments to the floor in the manner of King Kong on the empire State building smacking down planes from the sky.

      1. Cat Herder*

        First year we had our crazy kitten, we only put plastic ornaments on the tree–bought a big tub–and just left it at that. the tree did get knocked over but nothing broken. Now the biggest problem is anything dangling on the first 4 ft. Always put the nonbreakable higher up.

        1. Windchime*

          This is what I did. My cat was 4 months old his first Christmas, and I just put all plastic ornaments on the tree. He kept climbing it anyway and I would just gently tell him no and help him down but honestly, you really can’t keep a kitten from climbing if they want to. He also chewed on the cords so I sprayed them with bitter apple spray which didn’t do much good. Tinfoil didn’t work for this cat, either. He’s now a grown up boy and is well behaved around the tree; however, I used to have a little calico and even at the age of 16, she would play with ornaments and bat them down off the tree.

      2. Sunflower Sea Star*

        She was feral for an estimated 12 weeks before going to the rescue we adopted her from. Been with us nearly a year. She’s already calmed down some but it pretty determined and persistent about some things.

    4. OtterB*

      We used to put our Christmas tree inside a playpen (kind with adjustable walls and no floor). We had the cat, and a large dog who wouldn’t damage things deliberately but whose wagging tail was a hazard. It worked pretty well. I’m sure the cat could have scaled the fence, but didn’t

    5. Dancing Otter*

      I have an artificial half-tree that hangs on the wall out of reach. I’m currently working on a wall quilt of a Christmas tree to replace it. Washable! Less bulk to store!

      We tried a standard artificial tree, but Cindy still tried to eat the needles, Taffy and Gracie climbed it, and others leapt at the ornaments. (No, not all at once; different generations of cats.) Everybody wanted to sleep on the tree skirt: why do you keep putting boxes in our bed, Mom? None of these behaviors was conducive to Christmas cheer, and I worried someone would get hurt.

      Our main decoration is the crèche on the coffee table. It’s low enough that nothing has broken yet when patted off. And the stable isn’t big enough for a cat.

  32. Kalico*

    Looks like nobody’s started a writing thread yet. How’s the writing going? I did 2000 words on my novel this week, but that was only two days writing – so I’m happy with word count but want to work on getting my butt in the chair more than twice a week. I also wrote a blog post, though. But the big news is, I’m taking a writing course! It’s for “intuitive” writers (those of us who have trouble with plotting, thinking linearly/rationally about stories) and it has been amazing so far. It’s so good to finally feel like I’m learning writing techniques that suit how my brain works.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Eyy, so glad you found a good course!
      I honestly didn’t get much done this week, unless you count making a powerpoint as writing :p.

    2. KristinaL*

      I’ve been reading about how to publicize a book, and I’m feeling discouraged. It seems like authors are expected to do a lot for publicity. Which I understand, except that since many authors have to have a regular job too, it seems like most authors have to find time to write, publicize, work the regular job, etc.

  33. K. Holly*

    I notice a lot of people have trouble doing something consistently that they love. Especially if that something costs money, or doesn’t make money.

    It can be hard to start something as well when you’re working full time, have kids, pets, no time.

    I saw my friends struggling and I started to write a guide on how I managed to make time to record my music. My friends have different goals completely, but the technique is to do a little bit a day.

    It sounds simple but it’s not?

    My question for you is:

    What questions would you have about this technique?
    What reservations?
    What excites you?
    What do you want to learn more about?
    Why wouldn’t it work?
    What do you think would help you?

    I hope that I can tailor my guide to something that people actually want that would help, which is my reason for asking these questions here.

    1. fposte*

      Ooh, what an interesting project, and what thought-provoking questions.

      My general responses:
      How is this different from general advice to do a little each day?
      How do I keep momentum up and find reward even if I miss a day?
      How do I handle creative components that need a deeper immersion than a short time frame permits?
      I’ve tried to follow a lot of tips before and found them unuseful, so I have resistance to the technique to overcome as well as fear of failure on the task itself. Any thoughts on how to help deal with that?

      I’m thinking how there’s a ton of advice about organization, but Marie Kondo, UFYH, and Flylady have managed to break out as systems that people actually find helpful. If you can find a way to do the same for time, that would be a big deal.

      1. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

        Excellent phrasing, fposte! All of this is exactly what I was trying to say but couldn’t come up with words for, particularly your first and last questions. I feel like many folks have heard the “just do it a bit at a time!” advice, and for whatever reasons it doesn’t stick. So I’d need to see/understand that this particular technique is going to address that issue and make practical suggestions for overcoming it in the way you mentioned Marie Kondo et all have managed to do if I was going to read the guide and find it useful.

      2. K. Holly*

        Thanks for your comments! Very well put!

        What about their techniques do you appreciate over other works?

        1. fposte*

          I don’t follow most of them, but I know that they’ve made a big difference to people who’ve struggled with other methods. I suspect it’s approach as much as technique–you can have the best technique in the world but if you’re not presenting it approachably to the frazzled and jaded audience it’s not going to get anywhere. You might find it worthwhile to trawl reddit and other discussion forums to see what people say about them; for that matter, it would probably be worth looking at time management method discussions to figure out what’s different about yours.

    2. C Average*

      I think it’s helpful to always remember that people who write books about their productivity system invented that system based on their own lives, needs, affinities, etc. They are experts on themselves; with some experimentation, you can become an expert on yourself.

      Case in point: I like to sew and used to want to develop a more consistent sewing routine. I tried making myself sew every day. I tried setting goals related to specific projects. I tried talking to other people about sewing because I thought it would make me more accountable. None of this really stuck.

      When I moved in with my partner, our cats didn’t get along and we wound up confining my cat to the basement, where I have my sewing stuff set up, and now I sew every day because it’s a way to spend time with my cat. Could I in a million years have come up with a “system” involving these particular parts? Could I write a bestselling how-to book about crafting with your cat? Clearly, no.

      tl;dr = look at the moving parts of YOUR life and see if some kind of system emerges.

        1. C Average*

          I’m sure I thought I had a point at the time, but for the life of me I can’t make out what it was. I’m blaming the NyQuil/hot toddy combination, which did wonders for my cold but probably not much for my coherence. I’m sorry! Good luck with your project. It sounds cool.

        2. Owler*

          I read it as you, C Holly have found a system that works for you. Don’t expect it to work for others. Not everyone is going to be able to get into a routine of setting aside a little time each day. If it were that easy, all of us would eat healthy, balanced meals and be thin from daily exercise.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        To be fair, if you did figure out how to write it, “Crafting With Your Cat” would indeed be an instant bestseller! Ideally, the advice would be sprinkled liberally with anecdotes from you and others about massive craft cat-astrophes that have resulted, along with the success stories.

    3. Jackalope*

      I personally found it helpful to come up with rules about when I can skip said thing. For example, when I was trying to do something on a weekly basis I would say that I could miss it if I was away from home at least 4 days per week. That way it happened most of the time but I could freely give myself permission to skip on vacation weeks or the horribly busy ones right before a Big Event with lots of rehearsals. For something I do daily, I try to connect it to something else. Maybe I do it when I’m on the bus, or it is my reading at dinner, or whatever.

  34. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    More Graveyard Keeper for me. I’m really liking this one.

  35. Crystal Smith*

    Anyone else use Plated and absolutely heartbroken that they’re shutting down? Admittedly I didn’t get a box very often, but they were my go-to when I was feeling creative or wanted to try something new. I had no idea anything was up until I got the email notice that they’re shutting down at the end of November! What other meal kit services are there that have the same level of complexity? I’ve used blue apron and hello fresh but their recipes tend to be a little simpler, imo.

    1. Ruby314*

      It’s been a long time since I used it, but I think the Martha Stewart/Marley Spoon kit is a bit more interesting than the ones you mentioned

    2. Dan*

      Never tried it. I’ve had my eye on these things, because I wouldn’t mind a change from time to time, but these services really, really want to lock me in to subscriptions with a frequency that just doesn’t work for me.

      I had a quick google, and it looks like Albertsons grocery acquired Plated and is putting their products in some of its stores for a test run. Now *that* is something I can get behind — I’d much rather swing by the grocery store and pick up a kit when I feel like it and get a couple of meals out of it. Although, sadly, from what I read, the test run is going as well as hoped for.

      The thing that really appeals to me with these kits is that cooking for one from scratch is super inefficient, and really wasteful if you’re not careful. Sadly, these meal kit services have yet to figure out a model that works for everybody. (E.g., if I have to pay shipping fees instead of wasting food, it’s not really an improvement over my current situation.)

      1. Crystal Smith*

        Sadly it doesn’t look like there any Albertson’s or other stores carrying the Plated kits anywhere near me, but if they ever do show up that would be great! And I agree about cooking for one – these were definitely a splurge but it was really nice to get, say, the 1 teaspoon of ground Thai lime leaf I need for a recipe and be done with it, instead of scouring the Earth to find a jar and only using it once.

    3. bo bessi*

      We use SunBasket every now and then and really like it. The meals are interesting, and they have a huge variety. It’s also great if you have a specific dietary concern (gluten or dairy free, vegetarian, paleo, etc.). It’s easy to skip when you don’t want one sent too.

  36. Jackie*

    Looking for family reunion activities. We haven’t had a family reunion in 15 years so it’s great a cousin is organizing one on their hobby farm. Any ideas on what to do ? I’d like to suggest something to the host that would be fun for all age groups. Also, I wondered if collecting our family’s health history would be ok ?

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Scavenger hunt? Family-oriented, so people have to talk to each other? I’m thinking like, find the name of the person whose father served in wwii or something.

    2. LuckySophia*

      the national archives has a downloadable “Family Group Sheet” . If you google “family group sheet PDF” that should do the trick…the URL if you need it is archives.gov/files/research/genealogy/charts-forms/family-group-sheet-PDF. The form has spaces to fill in names of spouses/kids for each “family group (e.g., household), plus spaces to fill in things like occupations, military service, cause of death. It’s not the same thing as a complete health history, but it has the added bonus of helping to document the family history. And you can ask the eldest attendees for help in filling out group sheets for the ancestors who are no longer among you! (As a genealogist, how I WISH I had done this when my grandparents and their sibs were still around. But I was just a kid then…)

    3. C Average*

      If there’s a common area where people gather, set up a large jigsaw puzzle. It’s amazing the great conversations I’ve had with various people through the years while looking for pieces of sea and sky. I bring a new one every time I visit my folks.

  37. Rachel*

    I have a hair question and would love any advice! I’m naturally a dirty blonde, almost light brunette. I’ve been getting highlights for years and am never satisfied with the end color. I want to be BLONDE like Sophie Turner and I tell my stylist this and am always hiding my disappointment. I asked a previous hairdresser if I should dye my hair and then add highlights and she said the maintenance would honestly just be a lot for someone who doesn’t like coming in every six weeks on the dot. I got full highlights yesterday and I’m blonder but it’s not what I expected (not as bright as it’s previously been). I can’t afford to keep spending this kind of money when I’m not getting the results I want. Am I asking for the wrong things? Should I be getting a different treatment? Trying different hairdressers? I’m not sure what else I can try. Any advice is appreciated!!

    1. Thursday Next*

      It sounds like you’d need a double process appointment, which tends to be longer and more expensive. If you could do a consultation with the colorist before the appointment, you could lay out your ideas and get their sense of how to achieve them.

      I sat next to a woman at my salon who was going from black hair to blonde, and she was there for 7! hours! I was scared to ask about the cost.

    2. LuckySophia*

      My hair is similar in color to yours, and I’ve been getting highlights (and sometimes a 3-tone highlight/mid-light/low-light, depending on which stylist I went to) for decades. Your prior stylist is right, if you dye (overall bleach/color your hair) the maintenance will be A LOT. Just once in my life I had an overall blonde base color applied, then highlights on top of it. I began getting dark roots showing at the part, within 3-1/2 weeks, and by 6 weeks they were really awful-looking. So thereafter I went back to just having highlights put in to “blend” the !^#^$% roots as they grew out. That said, if you really want that Sophie Turner look, an “overall” color and lots of touch-ups may be your only option. But it seems to me, if your stylist focused a lot more blonde highlights in the area framing your face, maybe that would achieve the effect you want without the “overall” color???

    3. Anon Here*

      Definitely shop around and try different hair dressers. It’s like finding a doctor – there’s a wide range of quality and specialties and you need to find the right fit. If you’re unsatisfied with anything, don’t go back.

      Ask people where they get their hair done. It could be a win-win; they might get a discount for referring you. Compliment people on their hair. Obviously, you wouldn’t ask if it’s dyed, but if they volunteer that info, ask who their stylist is.

      Also, seriously consider doing it yourself after preparing with the right research and products. You can order the same products they use at salons. You just need to find good tutorials about how to do it right, and maybe have someone help you.

      I don’t see why they can’t get you to the color you want. Even the darkest hair can be lightened. The hard part is doing it in a way that’s healthy for your hair.

      I hope you can find a good stylist!

    4. Not A Manager*

      Why are you always hiding your disappointment? Maybe you could tell your stylist that you want to be BLONDE and that it’s not coming out the way you like. Ask him or her to experiment with you until you find something you like.

      I’m not a hairdresser, but I’m not sure about the maintenance thing if you do dye your hair and add highlights. I *think* there are ways to stagger the highlights so that root growth looks okay? Not like roots are never going to show, of course, but they’re planned for.

    5. Ruby314*

      Have you ever done any toning at home? That may help with the overall brightness and that way you don’t have to mess with the actual bleaching part, which can get you into real trouble, damage-wise. I have highlights that tend to turn brassy, and I tone at home between appointments and it helps a lot. I do have balyage and am trying to keep a lot of time between appointments for both cost and laziness reasons :)

    6. Hair Today*

      I have similar hair colour. Highlights will never get you really blonde – that look really does require bleaching the hair. Highlights just can’t make enough impact against the body of darker hair to deliver the BLONDE impact you are looking for.

      Stop hiding your disappointment. Describe exactly what you want then listen to your colorist. Getting that true blonde colour takes commitment and effort – you’ll need to strip your hair colour out and then colour it to the desired shade, and yes it will require a lot of upkeep. You will have visible regrowth – that’s unavoidable. It’s the cost of getting the look you want. Only you can decide if it’s worth it.

    7. Ludo*

      Are you showing them pictures of the blonde you want? If so they should really be doing a better job either explaining to you the process to get there (which could be a long, expensive process) or just doing whatever needs to be done to get your hair to what you want

      To me it sounds like you don’t need highlights but you need a bleach and tone where they bleach all of the hair in your head and then tone it to the shade that you want. This is high maintenance and you’ll need to go every four weeks to keep the roots at bay, but it will be a real true blonde, not just light brown hair with highlights (which is also nice! But sounds like there isn’t what you want)

    8. Parenthetically*

      1. If you don’t like coming in for touchups, keeping a full head of pale blonde is going to be… tricky. You’ll have visible regrowth, and with dark blonde it’s going to be a pretty hard line. And it’s not going to be LESS expensive to get your new growth re-dyed every 6 or 8 weeks. That being said…

      2. Adding to the chorus of “stop hiding your disappointment.” If your hairdresser isn’t doing what you want, you get to tell them so, because you are paying them! You have the right to be crystal clear about your expectations and get the results you want. It shouldn’t be difficult for a professional to go from dirty blonde to light blonde, for goodness’ sake — it’s not like you’re asking them to take you from jet black to white! Show pictures of Sophie Turner’s hair and say, “My goal is to have this color hair. I don’t want highlights, I want ALL of my hair to look JUST like this. Talk me through the process it would take to get there.” If they hesitate at all, find another hairdresser!

      If you want to call around to various salons, it might be helpful for you to be able to say, for example, “I have level 6 and 7 natural dark ash blonde hair with all-over 9 and 10 warm blonde highlights, and I want to lift it ALL to a 10G-12G, like Sophie Turner. Is that something your stylists feel comfortable with?” You can ask to see a hairdresser’s book, and lots of salon websites will have photos of colorists’ and stylists’ work, including before and afters.

      1. londonedit*

        I was going to say the same. I went blonde for a bit last year, and because my hair is also a very dark blonde we went for highlights rather than a full head of bleach, because with a full head you get a very obvious line of dark roots as it grows. My hairdresser did ‘babylights’ which basically means tiny, tiny little strands of hair being bleached, which blends the bleach into your own hair colour much better and doesn’t have such obvious regrowth. But! It took HOURS at every appointment, it was ruinously expensive, and it took about six months of having a full head of babylights every 6-8 weeks before my hair was super blonde all over. It did end up being very light, but it still wasn’t ‘full head of blonde bleach’ light.

    9. Jdc*

      Fanola no yellow. Read the reviews though, you don’t want to turn purple. It’ll change your life. Keeps my color going for months rather than weeks.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      Find a good hairdresser who will listen and do what you want.

      It does sound like you’ve been asking for the wrong thing – highlights instead of bleaching and toning. And if you don’t want to keep going back frequently then it may not be go you.

      But I think you should find a specialist who will do what you want. And if the maintenance of the roots is too much for you, you can just dye it to your natural color; you don’t have to grow it out.

    11. Ann O.*

      My instinct is that you should change hairstylists, but I’m also wondering what exactly you’re telling them. Because if you’re actually saying outright that your goal is to have Sophie Turner blonde and they’re not telling you straight up to do an overall dye and commit to maintenance, they’re not doing their job. Highlights are never going to get you from light brunette to blonde.

      However, it seems strange that at least two hairstylists haven’t told you this, so I’m wondering if you’re also really emphasizing the low maintenance aspect. Maybe they’re unclear about your priorities in the maintenance/color tradeoff.

    12. Horseshoe*

      I have this same issue. I hate how stripey the highlights look, and they weren’t giving me the overall blonder look I wanted. I actually ended up just using the store-bought dye kit. You just do an overall application, rather than trying to do fancy highlights. I find that it gives me that lighter overall look, but still has natural variations in hair color (i.e. the parts that were darker to start with don’t end up as light of a color as the parts that were lighter to start with.) I usually just do a shade or two lighter.

      Also, costs about $10 vs paying the stylist over $100 to give me streaks I don’t like.

  38. HannahS*

    Happy news, AAM crew, I’m getting married!

    (pause for the parade)

    So, in the months between now and the wedding I’ll be frequently crowd-sourcing advice from all of you. Want to give someone unsolicited advice? Have strong opinions about weddings you can’t voice in polite company? Did your friend royally mess it all up and you’re just dying to tell someone about it? LAY IT ON ME! Both he and I like research and are voraciously consuming wedding advice, so please share!

    This week’s topic: Announcing engagement. How did you approach it, and what did you learn? Any thoughts or advice?

    1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      First, we hired our friend to take very affordable engagement photos. I wrote my parents a letter enclosed with our engagement photo, telling them we got engaged (in writing since my mom tried to force us apart for the past few years before that). I called my best friends and asked if they’d be bridesmaids. Much happy shrieking ensued ;D

      Then, I posted engagement photos to Facebook to tell friends/faraway distant relatives I haven’t seen since a decade ago.

      The only 2 tricky parts:
      1. Church friends/distant parent friends who wanted an invite (we only said yes to 2 since we paid for our wedding 100% ourselves and my mom always used to tell me to leave the now hubs).
      2. Planning a wedding 100% by ourselves because my mom was the overbearing/verbally unkind type

      1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Also CONGRATS!!!!

        What I ultimately learned: there’s no pleasing people (my mom was pissed hubs hadn’t told them in person). But he did after the fact and we just bought a house and we’re carving up a nice life for ourselves so far :)

      2. Ruby314*

        I haven’t done it myself, but my friend said that getting engagement photos is one of the things that a lot of people skip for cost, but that she found it super helpful because neither of them was comfortable in front of a camera, so it was a practice session before the ceremony photos and she’s convinced she would have had disappointing wedding photos without the engagement session to warm them up.

        1. HannahS*

          Yeah, I’m pretty uncomfortable getting my photo taken, but I’ve heard that advice, and it’s probably a good idea!

        2. No Name Yet*

          Yes, 100% this! My wife and I HATE having our pictures taken, and the engagement shoot made such a difference. We then used those pics to make a guest book for people to sign – makes it extra fun for people to sign.

          Along with that, make sure you’re comfortable with whatever photographer you choose, since they’ll be following you around a lot that day.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      First time around, we really only made some phone calls and I started publicly wearing a ring on my ring finger. We didn’t do special photos or announcements, other than the wedding invitations themselves, which were very traditionally designed. This was long enough ago (25-odd years) that engagement photos and “save the date” announcements weren’t yet super mainstream.

      Second time around, it’s not that we got married on the down-low, but we essentially had a courthouse wedding with the minimum number of witnesses, arranged very quickly after we got engaged. No photo session for the engagement, no “save the date” announcements. A few months later, we had a more public celebration with a few dozen friends. The invitations to that gathering served as engagement + wedding announcements, and we had fun designing them ourselves.

      While I’m not an extreme pennypincher, I do bristle at what I felt the Wedding Industrial Complex wanted me to think was “necessary” for the engagement and wedding. I don’t wear an engagement ring, and all I wanted to do was give our friends a nice party at some point, so that’s what we did.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, I hear you on the WIC! There’s so much that my fiance and I have already talked being just…unnecessary. So much of it is just…stuff. Pretty stuff, a lot of it, but still just stuff.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      Congrats! I don’t comment super often but I’ve been around for a while, and I remember you telling the open thread you had a new relationship :) So many congratulations!

      I got married really recently, and it was not stressful. My two biggest tips:

      – find ONE checklist/planning guide and stick with it. If something wasn’t on the checklist until next month, we didn’t worry about it until next month, even if my mom was worried about it :) it also saved me (cis lady) from accidentally running into self-esteem-destroying media by looking further afield. We used the A Practical Wedding guide :)

      – Get clear about what you don’t care about & set your priorities. For example, we wanted to have fun with our friends. So we prioritized having a substantial guest list over a super-fancy venue, or expensive photography. We didn’t care about flowers, so we didn’t have any.

      Good luck and have fun!!!

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        Yes to APW! I haven’t followed the blog since we got married almost 8 years ago, but I loved it then and that the book was a realistic look at what you needed.

      2. HannahS*

        Thank you! I’m glad to hear of one person who did not find it stressful. I’m very into A Practical Wedding, and I am 100% with you on flowers. I’d rather have flowers on our table every week for our year, rather than spend that kind of money on flowers.

    4. LGC*

      If you’re doing an impromptu invite:

      1) don’t invite work friends when you have other work friends dogsitting for you.

      2) do it more than a week in advance if it’s black tie. Do it more than TWO weeks in advance, in case one of your last minute invites breaks his phone.

    5. Overeducated*

      Congrats!!! I didn’t announce engagement formally, just texted and called family and close friends, but I haven’t seen anything i found a huge faux pad, either. So no advice. Enjoy!

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Just food, music, and booze will make everyone happy. Oh, and no suffering in the elements – so no outdoors if it’s too hot, cold, or rainy.

          1. HannahS*

            Oh, so true! I was at a gorgeous wedding once in a greenhouse that was so warm, that even once it cooled off and the party was getting super fun, we were just too exhausted to stay.

    6. wandering*

      Congratulations!

      Best wedding tip I’ve witnessed: if you have a lot of people coming in from out of town, make plans to spend time with them separately from your local friends. The couple who introduced this to me made arrangements for guests to stay at a group rate at their venue, and asked them to stay a day or two after the wedding. The couple stayed elsewhere, but hosted a lovely (fancy) picnic lunch for the out of towners and got to have relaxed, friendly time with everyone. And those who hadn’t yet got to spend time with the other member of the couple after hearing happy stories.

      Honeymoon was after that, and the couple reports being well rested and relaxed as they headed off.

      General best tip: have the wedding YOU TWO want, and can afford.

      As for engagement announcements, my favorites have been excited phone calls or visitors.

      Have a wonderful time planning this together, and may it reveal a lifetime of happy collaborations ahead.

      1. HannahS*

        Good tip! We have a lot of guests (mostly on my side) coming from really far away. I’m lucky that I’ll have time off around the time of the wedding to dedicate to seeing them.

    7. Aurora Leigh*

      Yay!! Congrats!!

      I am also planning a wedding and posted a lot down thread on the how to save money on your wedding question.

      Lots of excited calls and texts and a few visits the day of to show off the shiny new ring. I think we put it on Facebook pretty late in the day, after all immediate family and closest friends had been told. But we didn’t do anything particularly formal to announce. Everyone (except my mother . . . ugh that is a whole other thread) guessed it would be coming soon as we have been together over 2 years now. One friend was slightly disappointed it was an engagement and not a new puppy announcement lol

      Love that we got engagement pictures done with our doggy and got to meet the photographer and get comfortable with her before the day of. Plus, seeing how great the engagement shots turned out makes me more relaxed about our wedding pictures. (I mean yes, she had a large portfolio online, but what if WE turned out be really horrible to photograph . . . That is how my brain works.)

      I liked Zola’s checklist best and have settled on using that one. Plus I like saying the app says do this in this month. It makes me feel less bossy! Plus I feel amazing if I get to check something off early lol.

      Have fun! But take breaks where you just don’t plan for a couple weeks (especially if you have a year to plan). Figure out what tasks your guy is interested and make sure he feels included. I’ve been surprised by the things he is interested in in the planning process!

      1. HannahS*

        Oh thanks! We have six months to plan and I’ll be out of town for at least a month of it, so we’re going to be moving pretty fast. But luckily my fiance used to plan large events at his old job, so the process is much more familiar to him than to me! What were the things that are surprising you about your partner’s interest?

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          I sort of delegated cake, music, and the honeymoon planning to him. He doesn’t care about decorations in day to day to life, but he felt a little left out when I ordered all the decorations for the picnic shelter without discussing it. He likes what I chose, but was worried he wasn’t helping enough.

          And I was originally just going to have the wedding party wear whatever (mismatched) but he actually wanted people to match lol

    8. Cora*

      I posted a picture on Facebook and Instagram the morning after we got engaged to “announce” it. We didn’t take formal engagement photos until months later. We called all the important people to tell them that night before we posted any photos. His parents, my grandparents, etc.

      Personally, I don’t think it has to be a big thing- that’s what the wedding is for, right? At least for us. Honestly I was uncomfortable being the center of attention, so I didn’t even really tell people. Most quickly noticed the ring or it naturally came up in conversation.

      But the most important thing is that you and your fiancé do what feels right for you! If keeping it to yourselves until you get nice photos is what you want, do it! Or send an email, or announce it in Christmas cards maybe!

      One piece of advice – as soon as you announce, there are some people who will then not leave you alone about wedding stuff (like when they will get their invite…) – be prepared!!!

      1. HannahS*

        A very good point! We’ve actually delayed telling people until some key deadlines in my professional life have passed, because I can’t deal with other people’s excitement until after they’re done.

    9. Loopy*

      CONGRATS! I didn’t put too much thought into announcing it but I did call my two/three closest family members, and texted close friends directly.

      I actually did not post it on any social media or actually ever post about the wedding and it was one of my favorite wedding decisions. I didn’t want people wondering if they were invited or noticing as it got closer that other friends’ comments were clearly making plans/getting excited to attend when they weren’t invited. I also didn’t want advice form people I knew (I much preferred strangers so I could ignore it without feeling bad/awkward) and especially not from family/attendees. I had plenty of excitement going on via texts and calls.

      I also was on wedding boards A LOT. This…. was not actually a positive experience for me. While it was a great way to immerse myself in wedding-land….it also gave me body image issues and stress/anxiety about my wedding that wouldn’t have been nearly as bad without it.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh I hear you about wedding boards. I started reading advice on Martha Stewart last night and came away with a stomach ache; it was so stressful! And one of the planning checklists I found was like, “Oh you’re six months out, better start your diet and workout for the wedding! Three months out, better start your skincare plan for the wedding!” It was so maddening. Were there any wedding boards you found helpful?

    10. Wicked Witch of the West*

      When I got engaged (48 years ago) engagement photos/announcements/parties were not a thing yet.
      My one piece of advice is regarding the wedding. Give your photographer a list of *mandatory* pictures. Assign a good and assertive friend (who doesn’t have other duties) to monitor that aspect. Our photographer was a friend who did the pictures as his gift to us. Although he had a list, he got hi-jacked by my MIL. We have photos of all hubby’s side of the family and random friends and neighbors of my in-laws. The only photos of my grandparents and aunt are in random crowd shots. I am still bitter 47 years later. It was a harbinger of behavior to come.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, I’m sorry to hear it! It’s a good point. I’m not huge into photos, but I definitely want a picture of everyone who was there.

    11. ..Kat..*

      My wedding advice: To marry someone (legally) in the USA, you only need a license, someone who can legally perform the ceremony, and two people who are allowed by law to marry. I recommend the two people love and like each other. Everything else is icing on the cake.

      Best wishes for you both.

      1. HannahS*

        Thank you! We are not in the US and have a few more requirements to have a Jewish wedding, but it’s good to keep the focus on those few things that really matter.

    12. heckofabecca*

      MAZAL TOV!!!!!!

      When I got engaged (we staged it at a family d&d match), my SIL posted about it on FB… before I could call literally ANYONE. So just be mindful of which folks are likely to get pissy about not hearing about it from you personally XD

      I would LOVE to heap advice upon you, as someone whose wedding was, and I quote—from someone NEITHER of us are related to—”the best wedding [they’ve] ever been to.” Bridal party, order of events at the wedding, timing/location, flowers… esp if you’re still in the Boston area, I can recommend some places for you to check out for a variety of things :)

      1. HannahS*

        Thanks!!! Oh my, yes, please heap advice on me. I’ll be back a lot in the next six months, asking for it. We aren’t in the Boston area–we’re up in Canada. So true about letting people know. I think it’s going to wind up that most of the people who I’m inviting are going to hear it directly from me, via phone or text.

    13. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Congratulations!

      My tips for the wedding are: 1. Videographer. We thought hiring one was a waste of money so we opted not to, but now we sort of wish we had a video of it. 2. Vendors and “etiquette” sites: A LOT of wedding websites and vendors will gaslight you into thinking you need crap that you don’t need. Don’t fall for their negging-based sales pitch, and keep shopping around if you encounter such a sales approach. The industry is sadly predatory, taking advantage of the fact that you’re not experienced in planning a wedding. 3. Family: I am sorry to say, both of your families will go completely insane between now and the wedding. Be proactive about setting boundaries, even if right now you don’t think you’ll need them. You will later.

      Good luck!

      1. HannahS*

        HAH! Thank you for the warning. We deliberately have put off telling anyone until some key deadlines in my professional life have passed, because I simply…cannot. As the kids say, “I literally cannot even.” So hopefully, once the OMG !!!PLANNING!!! starts, we’ll be ready for it!

    14. Arts Akimbo*

      I learned:
      Buy a wedding planning checklist thingy. Like seriously, a two-page checklist from a bridal magazine will do, but it is a huge headache-saver. It breaks things down by date, “1 year before- reserve venue. 6 months before- book caterer” stuff like that. It was amazing for my peace of mind!

      Be true to yourself! Decide what elements of a wedding you and your spouse-to-be need and want, and what you can afford, and to heck with what anybody else thinks you shoulda/coulda/woulda have.

      Don’t sacrifice your financial security for one day. Your marriage is more important than any wedding.

      Have fun! :)

      Task some kind friend with shoving food into your face from time to time. Somebody told me this advice as he volunteered for the mission, and I was like “pff, nah” but lo and behold, my friend’s proffered snacks saved my evening! It’s amazing how little one eats when one is worried about receiving and hosting a roomful of people. Seriously, I had a very low-stress wedding, and still I only ate when food was literally pointed out to me.

      Congratulations and best wishes! :)

    15. LizB*

      Woohoo, congrats! Welcome to the community of AAMers in the midst of planning weddings. :) There are 2-3 of us right now on the weekend threads, I think.

      I announced my engagement in the following ways:
      1) Texts and calls to immediate family, close friends, etc. within about an hour after the actual proposal
      2) Posts on Facebook and Instagram a little while after that, on the same evening as the proposal
      3) Going “I got engaged!!!!” in response to the most innocuous “how are you?” questions from coworkers until the whole team knew through the grapevine — took about a week after the proposal
      4) Going to my family reunion and introducing my partner as my fiance until my aunts realized what I was saying and flipped out with happiness

      Item 4 was unintentional — I assumed my parents were going to spread the word to the family grapevine, but they didn’t, so there were surprises. Going off of that, my advice would be to be super clear about what you hope your parents (or other people you tell very early on) will share or not share with the rest of the world.

      1. Morning Reader*

        Perhaps too late to get a reply here, but Paul, what were you doing at this game, and why did you have your shirt off? Everybody knows Paul Bunyan is a lumberjack so of course he wears plaid shirts. Why was PB topless and what does he have to do with football? (Is this some State thing? I know they have a forestry program but are they now offering a degree in lumberjacking?)
        I had the game on mute (except for the playing of the Victors after each touchdown) so if this was explained, I missed it.
        Oh, and Go Blue :)

    1. Type 2*

      Buckeye friend here…always root for Sparty as we share a profound dislike of That Team Up North! Get ‘me next year!

  39. Why isn’t it Friday?*

    Hi everyone! Apologies if this has already been asked. Does anyone have tips on how to save money planning a wedding? Partner and I are about to get engaged and I’m finding the thought of planning an expensive wedding very daunting. Thanks!

    1. Ranon*

      I’d say be realistic- multiplication is a bummer, even if you wanted to take 250 people out to Taco Bell it would still cost a pretty penny. You don’t have to spend tons of money, but there are limits to how far a dollar will stretch, too.

      1. Overeducated*

        This is so, so true. We tried to focus on just the very basics that were essential to us: venue that would fit our guests, dinner (catered), and drinks (beer and one cocktail bought in bulk from liquor store, but we had to pay for a bartender). Even without decorations, flowers, photography, etc, space, seating, food and drink alone was in the 5 figures. Because it was for 120 people. A 60 person wedding would have been half the price.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding, for sure.

      There are tons of things you can tweak to save money — a cake and punch reception, for instance — but the major thing I’d say is NEVER SAY THE WORD WEDDING when you’re asking about venues, flowers (we didn’t have flowers, actually), catering, cake, etc. The price will double or triple the second a vendor hears the word “wedding.” Say “event.”

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        No, don’t mislead your vendors.

        First, they have a right to upcharge for weddings. But beyond that — they’re going to find out when they arrive at your wedding, and they’ll be right to be angry.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Why do they have a “right” to upcharge for weddings? Of course people can charge whatever they want, but why is the customer obliged to reveal what they want their flowers for? And why would the vendor be “right” to be angry that they didn’t know in advance what your flowers are for?

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            Vendors have the right to set whatever price they want, and it’s perfectly reasonable to be angry with a customer for lying in order to manipulate them into offering you a lower price.

            But I mean, if you’re cool with lying to get a better deal for yourself, I don’t think there’s much I could say to convince you otherwise.

            1. Not A Manager*

              Why on earth would that be lying? “I need flowers for a party” is completely true, whether it’s for a wedding reception or a child’s first birthday.

              Actually, “I need flowers” is completely true, whatever they are for. “I need flowers, how much do you charge for flowers, cool here is my money for flowers” is really all the vendor needs to know.

              If you’re talking about “lying” and “manipulation,” it’s pretty manipulative to hear the word “wedding” as a vendor and then jack up your base price. I understand what other people are saying about wedding standards being higher than normal party standards, but if a person is willing to accept normal party quality, I don’t see why they shouldn’t pay normal party prices.

              And most of the wedding markup isn’t for additional service and quality. It’s just taking advantage. Similar to jacked-up funeral prices.

          2. LilySparrow*

            Vendors customarily charge more for weddings because they are more trouble.

            1) The majority of wedding couples have never planned a large event before, and therefore have both unrealistic expectations and a harder time making important decisions in a timely manner.

            2) Weddings are more likely to get changed or called off than, say, a corporate event. Even with a nonrefundable deposit, the vendor loses money.

            3) Weddings involve people in a highly emotional state, and often combine bad blood with too much alcohol. You get everything from bridezillas to high-maintenance in-laws to physical violence. Not all the time, but often enough that you need to plan for extra prep time, extra last-minute changes, extra cleanup, breakage, and extra insurance.

            Many businesses have a PITA fee for certain customers or types of work. And weddings are a Pain In The Ass.

        2. Dan*

          I have to imagine this stuff is akin to looking at flower arrangement guides or something like that where if you say “wedding” they point you to the wedding arrangements with the upcharge, but if you say “event” they point you to the event arrangements that are cheaper and have very minor differences in the arrangements.

          If I choose to have the “event” flowers delivered to my wedding, no, the vendor isn’t “entitled” to be angry because I didn’t order the “wedding” flowers. Disappointed that they missed out on a cash cow? Sure. But angry? Nope.

          Similarly, I can imagine renting an event space where “wedding decorations” are provided by the event planner for a big upcharge. And when one says “nah, we just need the space, we’ll do our own decorations”, the event planner isn’t entitled to be angry because I didn’t pay (and ask for) over priced “wedding” decorations.

          Same with cakes. If I don’t want a “wedding” cake, I’m entitled to buy whatever cake I want and put whatever toppers on it that I bought for cheap off of Amazon.

          The vendor should know about “wedding” if it’s material to their preparation of the event. If not, then no, they’re not entitled to sell marked up services and get angry when people don’t want to pay the asking prices.

          1. Parenthetically*

            The vendor should know about “wedding” if it’s material to their preparation of the event. If not, then no, they’re not entitled to sell marked up services and get angry when people don’t want to pay the asking prices.

            Exactly. I mean, isn’t this exactly how capitalism works? You charge whatever you think you can get, but if people don’t want to pay that, they’re going to find a way to get around it?

            The way we saved money was by not using vendors at all — and that’s how most of my friends have had budget weddings. Renting a small-town church hall or community center and doing the decorating themselves, buying the flowers from a wholesaler for pennies and making simple bouquets themselves, ordering catering from a favorite local place (which they’re “allowed” to do because the venue doesn’t force you to use one of their $$$ vendors — that’s a HUGE scam right there), etc. I’ve had other friends do a simple courthouse ceremony followed by booking out a private room at a favorite restaurant and just picking up the tab at the end of the night. One friend’s wedding and reception were at the rooftop bar/lounge area of their favorite restaurant and it was SUPER reasonable — the couple and their families did all the decorating, the restaurant did a couple of custom cocktails and mocktails and a set menu. It wasn’t a “wedding venue” and they didn’t upcharge, because their main business was just… being a restaurant.

            1. Lucette Kensack*

              No, that’s not how capitalism works. Vendors set a price and you decide whether or not to pay that price.

              Obviously cheating happens in every economic system, but that doesn’t make it right. (If we were talking about something that could or should be considered a fundamental right, like food, housing, health care, etc., then there’s an interesting conversation to be had. But nobody has a right to inexpensive wedding decorations.)

              1. Dan*

                You’re using really strong language here. Where are you getting this impression? Unless I’ve signed a contract that says my “event” flowers won’t be used at a “wedding”, then I’ve cheated nothing. And if I have signed a contract, then the other party can take me to court for breach of contract and ask to enforce the remedies set forth in the contract.

                And capitalism allows me to not sign that contract in the first place if I don’t like it.

              2. Not A Manager*

                But in normal capitalism, vendors don’t set their price based on how the customer is planning to use their purchase. If I go to buy a toilet, there’s one price for the toilet no matter if I’m going to use it in my bathroom or if I’m going to use it in my installation art. “Oh Mr. Duchamp, you’re going to frame that toilet? I’m sorry, now it will cost you a million dollars” said no True Value ever.

              3. Sunflower Sea Star*

                I think the cheating (to use your word) is chargine three times as much for the same space for a wedding as for something like a retirement party. The venue doesn’t grow extra square footage.
                This is price gouging, and it’s not “cheating” to avoid being gouged on prices like that.

        3. Parenthetically*

          Framing this as a “right” seems very odd. Why do they have a “right” to charge me triple for the same exact flowers or cake or sandwiches that outweighs my “right” to say “hey I need some floral displays, how much”? Why should I have to sit through a florist’s sales pitch and spend a thousand bucks for a “bridal package”? If I want a simple, elegant, tiered cake for 80 people, why should it cost me $750 instead of $200?

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            I don’t know what to tell you. Vendors can set whatever price they want. Your right is to reject that price and purchase from somewhere else that fits your budget and your preferences about how you want to be treated as a customer.

            I also think — based on my own experience planning events professionally, as well as my own small, relatively inexpensive wedding — that the idea that vendors upcharge significantly for weddings is mostly a fiction.

            1. Dan*

              I had a feeling you worked in event planning in some capacity.

              I have to ask though, if you think that wedding upcharges are mostly a fiction, then why does it matter if I book the “event” package as opposed to the “wedding” package?

              1. Lucette Kensack*

                I genuinely don’t know how to answer your question if you’re just comfortable with lying to vendors in order to get a better price.

                What matter is that you are honest to the people you are doing business with. That’s it.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I find myself agreeing with you so often here, Lucette, but I just do not get this. It’s not “lying” to say “I need flowers,” or, “I’m planning an event.” And if indeed the inflated prices for weddings thing is a myth, then there’s no reason to concern yourself with what sort of event people are having and whether or not they’re lying to you, nor to become “angry” if you find out that their event is a wedding.

                2. Dan*

                  Me calling up and ordering the “event flower package” for my wedding isn’t lying. It’s ordering the “event flower package” which is 100% true. “Wedding” is only going to get mentioned if you bring it up, and then I’ll tell you it’s none of your business what kind of event I’m having. and that I just want the flowers.

                  If the “wedding” markup is a fiction, why do you even care what kind of event I’m having?

                1. Lucette Kensack*

                  I’m afraid you’ve got that wrong. I work in nonprofit leadership development. I hire vendors; I’m not a vendor myself.

                2. Lucette Kensack*

                  Ethyl, I’m not sure what your question marks are about. I run leadership programs. I plan events for them. I hire vendors, but am not myself a vendor.

            2. Traffic_Spiral*

              “I don’t know what to tell you.” Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty obvious.

              And btw, no. Capitalism is not “seller does what they want, and consumer bends over and takes it.” Good Faith is an obligation that hits both sides of the aisle. Further, “Free Market” means people get to choose what they want to buy. If you decide to offer one bouquet for $50 and one for $100, you can either show customers a good reason why the $100 is more expensive but worth the expense, or accept it when they go “nah, the $50 one seems fine.”

              What you can’t do is put up a huge markup, refuse to give a single reason why there’s that markup (other than “but I waaaaaaant to”) and then expect people to go “oh well, I guess there’s nothing else I can do but accept the markup.” People are going to go “uh, no, that product sounds like a terrible deal, I’m going to get something else.”

              1. Lucette Kensack*

                Right, that’s what I’m saying. Go somewhere else if the vendor you’re working with charges an amount that is unacceptable to you.

      2. Amy*

        The “event” trick is only worthwhile if you’re organizing everything and have a flexible schedule. If you’re expecting the vendors to keep to your timeline, organize anything even slightly extra (champagne toast, a cake cutting and serving, ensuring corsages are still fresh at ceremony time rather than pick up time), or be prepared for “wedding” type issues, and you failed to inform them, you’re on your own. So when your cake is damaged during delivery and they replace it with something random because it’s just an “event” and not a photography ready cake for your wedding cake cutting, you’re probably SOL under the contract. Wedding pricing is usually more because people expect more. If you’re totally okay with whatever happens and can handle everything yourself, have at it though.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, our wedding was super low-key, so the idea of a lot of this stuff is just… bizarre to me. My folks picked up the catering, I made most of the appetizers, my father-in-law bought beer and bourbon, my friends decorated, that kind of thing. If you want the exact wedding Midge Maisel had, then you do you, mazel tov, have fun burning through 30 grand.

          But having seen some of the upcharges and restrictions “wedding packages” have, it’s truly beyond just “people expect more,” IMO. You want to get married in this historic barn? Well you’re only allowed to use this florist whose bridal packages start at $1200 and this caterer who charges $40/head minimum, a champagne toast is going to set you back $25 per person, you must use our waiters and you must have a minimum of four for a minimum of six hours, you must hire our wedding coordinator for $500, our DJ for $300 (plus the deposit on his sound system) etc. etc. But if you want to book this historic barn for your event? Cool, on the date you want prices start at $800 + cleaning fee for a 4-hour event with options to add more time, and here’s the price list if you want to add chairs, tables, a sound system, kitchen access, etc.

          1. Amy*

            I’ve organized a huge number of non-wedding events, and I’ve never encountered a venue that had that type of divide in events. I’ve seen those with different rules for events with and without a bar, over and number a certain number, with and without self-catering and handling your own decorating, and plenty that required everyone to use their preferred vendors for everything. I’ve literally never seen a setup like you describe, but if it’s there, I can see someone exploiting it.

            I also know two wedding planners, and I’ve seen that “wedding” stuff from vendors is literally different stuff from what I get for other events. The only explanations I’ve received (and to be honest, I’ve rarely asked), is that the smaller/less expensive/less long lasing/less photogenic/normal quality items used for “events” is not what most “wedding” customers expect. E.g., the florist makes me centerpieces that look good during an hour or two during dinner at the event, but the “wedding” customer wants them to look perfect from set-up the night before until the bar closes at 2am the next day, and to photograph flawlessly, and to be exact colors that may or may not be locally available that week, etc., so they don’t even try to offer “event” flowers for a “wedding” because the customer probably won’t be happy with it.

            If hiding the “wedding” aspect works for someone, great. But from what I’ve seen, they’re still going to get what they pay for.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Maybe some of it is regional? Just about every place I looked at when I was planning a wedding had sharp divides like that.

        2. Jenny*

          Im very much a hobby florist and did my own wedding flowers. However, I did a ‘amateur to professional’ florists course and one of the things they emphasised was that wedding flowers must be perfect, which means ordering more than you need so you get the timings of buds opening etc. I bet there’s other things like this where a wedding costs more because you’re doing more.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I always figured this is why wedding stuff is more expensive. Sure, vendors may also be taking advantage of what people will pay. But IME there is a much higher standard of perfection at weddings than other types of events, and the host (bride) is way, WAY more demanding. Not all brides, but lots of them. The event is going to require more attention, higher end goods, and more risk, so the cost is greater.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yeah, pretty much this. Now, yes, there are always some people who try gouging, but for a lot of them it’s “you want your special day to be perfect, and also want me to deal with your freakouts, your best man’s fuckups, the drama going on between your mom and your bride over whether I use lilac or baby’s breath, your rants-when-she’s-drunk aunt, and the bridesmaid’s ex who’s gonna burst in here randomly? I’ma charge extra for that.”

          1. AnonLurker Appa*

            +100000

            I work as a musician for funerals and weddings. Weddings are reliably 50-100% more work – advance admin (lots more questions and email time, because people are anxious about it being 110% right), choosing tunes, learning special request tunes, arriving extra early, tuning up in a place that preserves the surprise, etc

            1. Avasarala*

              Yes, weddings are just more involved. If you’re picking up flowers and having your brother arrange them on the tables and having your cousin do the catering, OK, lie about the nature of the event and you get what you pay for. If you want experienced professionals who are going to do a good job, coordinate with each other and with you, etc…. you get what you pay for.

      3. Aurora Leigh*

        I think this interesting, but I haven’t tested it personally. I think it makes sense if you are picking stuff up yourself, but less sense if things are being delivered. And a lot of it might just be upselling techniques more than anything else. Like if you call a Baker and tell them you want a round cake and 40 cupcakes, they’ll just sell you that. But if you say it’s for a wedding, they might talk you into adding various decorations and toppers and a stand and it will cost much more.

        But I do think if the vendor might have to deal with wedding drama in any way (difficult mother or MIL, for instance) well they’ve earned their surcharge.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Joking-not-joking: elope. Hah. We took a vacation to Las Vegas, as we have done several times before, and this time took 15 minutes out of the middle to get married. $350 for the wedding ceremony, $85 (I think) for the license, and $600 to take a dozen people out to dinner afters. (I had expected that bill to be a couple hundred higher, admittedly.)

      1. Dan*

        Heh.

        I joke that of all of the regrets I’ve had about getting married, the wedding itself wasn’t one of them.

        We did the Vegas thing too, but did plan everything ahead of time. We rented a wedding chapel (it was legit) in one of the hotels, took 20 people out to dinner, had a night on the town, and the whole thing was $3k including our flights and what not.

        Vegas is totally the way to go (seriously) for smallish weddings where renting event space is impractical.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          We did actually plan it ahead of time, haha. We got married at Luxor. But there wasn’t actually any real planning, other than making the reservations for the chapel and dinner and picking a color for flowers. :)

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        I did the not so planned out elope. Hubs mentioned it before we left but I didn’t think he was serious but brought all the required paperwork just in case. We got hitched and our 17th wedding anniversary is next month. No Elvis but our minister did marry Britney Spears to her first 55 hour husband a few years later.
        We weren’t even engaged.

    4. Not A Manager*

      My husband and I had a lovely wedding a few years ago. It was a second/third marriage for both of us, so between us we’d had some experience.

      My thoughts are that the big trade-offs are “your time” vs. “your money” and “invite everyone we like” vs. “invite everyone we love.” We designed and printed our own invitations, I made our chuppah myself, my husband provided the soundtrack for most of the event. I would have been happy to self-cater, but INEXPLICABLY my entire family vetoed that. It would have saved money, though!

      And then the guest list is key. You have much more leeway in the choice of venues if you have a smaller party, to say nothing of the fact that you’re paying for fewer people. If you choose to have a smaller wedding, don’t let other people guilt you into shoehorning more folks into it. If you choose to have a larger wedding, then allow yourself to be happy that you’re having all the people you care about, and don’t insist that you have to feed them filet and caviar.

      Finally, BOOZE. If you choose a venue that allows you to provide the booze you will save a bundle. Our wedding was in our backyard, but many “event spaces” will let you BYOB. Many more will not, so take that into account.

    5. SigneL*

      Husband and I were married in the minister’s study with only our parents there, so no actual wedding (still married 36 years later). If I were doing it again, I’d have a morning wedding with a brunch. There are lots of places to get a gown for less (decide on a budget for the gown and stick to it!). In fact, decide on a budget and stick to it, period.
      I didn’t have a bouquet and missed that. I also didn’t have a cake or photographs. I really think having good photographs is worth it. No one is going to remember the cake, but you’ll always have the pictures.
      Final thought – it’s not a competition. You don’t have to have fancy napkins or table decorations. (I’d also recommend keeping the wedding party small, and forget about expensive bachelorette parties). Best of luck!

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, my only regret is not having more photos. We had a couple friends with good cameras who ran around and got candids, and they’re great, but I do wish we had more “traditional” wedding pictures.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Know thyself. We got six pictures included with our wedding package and have never printed or even looked at them because neither of us is much of a picture person, so be realistic about what’s important to you! :)

        2. Filosofickle*

          My parents, who’ve been married more than 50 years, only had candids, too. While I don’t think they ever cared *I* wish there were better photos!

      2. Clisby*

        Not sure why you think getting married in the minister’s study wasn’t a wedding, but maybe people have different definitions. My husband and I were married at the courthouse, and that was a wedding. The reception/dinner thing is just a party.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Mutually decide what your budget is, draw up a plan, and stick to the plan. Mr. Glomarization and I kept it to $5,000 by having a relatively small gathering, having it in a local restaurant, and going really austere on the decorations. And we kept each other in check by reminding each other, like, we can hire some music, or we can create our own playlist and put the money we save into adding 3 more couples to the guest list.

      We saved a little on booze by paying for our guests’ beer and wine, but having them buy their own liquor/cocktails. We didn’t want to make it totally a cash bar, but we wanted, again, to be able to have a good number of people at the restaurant.

    7. Amy*

      Working on planning now. The best trick is to invite fewer people. We’re keeping it to our nearest and dearest. There’s a massive difference between 20 and 200 people when basically everything will be based on attendance – venue size, meals, drinks, etc.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yep. You can have a fancy party for 25 or a modest one for 75… we invited around 100, ended up with 80 or so. Did a Saturday morning ceremony and noon reception with heavy appetizers, dessert table and open bar. Also saved money by printing invitations at Office Max, doing our own (fake) flowers for the chapel, running a playlist instead of a dj, and only paying a photographer for the morning. I do kinda wish we’d kept the photographer longer, but my uncle took some of the reception photo duties.

    8. DrTheLiz*

      So I’d definitely agree that there’s a time/money tradeoff – the more time you can put in the more money you can save (at least to a point). I was lucky in that there was a family wedding dress that looked lovely on me, but for the rest we did a register office (courthouse? Civil, anyway) ceremony, which provided seats for guests and a photo area for about £50, then hired a nearby theatre basement for the reception. (Not a wedding venue, did allow outside food and wine). We had a brief cocktail bar with Pimm’s, then champagne toasts and wine on a side table with a buffet meal – bread, cheeses, veg etc. We were also lucky enough to be near a flower wholesaler. If you’re in a city I would definitely recommend looking for one. We got up at 5am the day before the wedding and got fifty beautiful pink-and-yellow roses for £1 each, which when combined with some stolen garden greenery and my decade-old flower-arranging class gave us a bouquet, buttonholes, corsages and a rose for every table and all for easily a fifth the cost of the same flowers from a florist. Total cost of the wedding was around about £900 for around eighty guests. Not all of this will be practical for you, of course!

    9. catsaway*

      I second the other recommendation to look at A Practical Wedding (website, but there are also a couple of books). The recommendation there is that you and your partner sit down and each write out your top 3 priorities and see how they can be combined into an event that will make you both happy. Then you figure out your budget and go from there.
      In regards to saving money, there aren’t any magic tricks. Feeding people is expensive, event spaces can be expensive, buying formal clothes is expesive etc. Any budget wedding you read about online is going to involve some combination of (1) not providing a full meal, (2) a small guest list and/or (3) free labor – yours or your friends and families. You and your partner will need to figure out what sort of event will work for you and your families.

    10. Lucette Kensack*

      So aside from my stick-in-the-mud views on why you shouldn’t lie to your vendors to save money, here are the lessons I took from my own wedding:

      1) The main thing that impacts your cost is the number of people you have. There is really no getting around it; hosting a large number of people costs a lot. For us, just renting a physical space that could have held the number of people we thought we needed to invite would have blown our budget.

      2) Don’t sacrifice the comfort of your guests for your budget (or your aesthetic). When I look back on my wedding, the things I wish I could do differently were around being a better host.

      3) Soooooooooo many wedding accouterments don’t matter, aren’t noticed, or are forgotten immediately. Wedding programs, chair decorations, centerpieces, favors, etc. We skipped a lot of these things or did very simple versions of them, and it was still not worth the money or mental energy.

      Some small practical suggestions/things we did:

      1) Don’t have a tiered wedding cake. They cost a fortune, and all you get from that is a photograph of a wedding cake. We bought an assortment of fancy cakes and pies from a local bakery.

      2) Choose a venue that doesn’t require decoration (or a time of year, like Christmas, when venues will be decorated anyway). We got married in a former library on an island; the views out the windows were our main decor. The reception was at a B&B; the charm of an old Victorian house was our main decor.

      3) We used a reception venue where we could provide our own liquor (and in doing so we didn’t need to hire a bartender; the downside was the “being a better host” thing; folks made their own drinks).

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yup, lots of good advice here. Especially keeping your guest list short.
        I had 5 people at my wedding. The only direct cost for the wedding was $10 for paperwork. Hubby wore a suit. I wore a maroon dress. The minister didn’t want to be paid anything. Mom served homemade chili at home for the reception. Sometimes 2 penniless college students just make it happen. We’ve been together forever now and I think modest weddings can be a good luck charm for some.
        Mazel tov.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        In general guests aren’t going to notice or remember things like colour coordination of table decorations, the type of flowers, or whether the bridesmaids have matching hairdos. They *will* remember if they are hungry or uncomfortable. So have enough food for the length of the event and time of day, seating (for everyone!), adequate, accessible bathroom facilities and protection from the elements.

        You can have fancy weddings, simple weddings, cheap weddings and expensive weddings. You can’t do a cheap fancy wedding well. Either you’ll run yourself into the ground trying to do everything, or you’ll burden your friends and family with the labour, or you’ll dump the cost onto your guests (and often all three).

      3. ThatGirl*

        I will say our tiered wedding cake from a local bakery was only $200 or so. But it was just buttercream with fairly simple decoration. And that was 12 years ago. :)

        1. sleepwakehope*

          Ours was a similar price 4 years ago, and it fed 125 people who are very enthusiastic cake eaters. PLUS for cake tasting they just let us take home a whole (small) cake in the flavors we wanted for something like 5-10 a cake. So I think it depends a lot on the bakery.

    11. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It turns out that doing things yourself ends up very expensive. Venue packages (with limited options on linens, flowers, etc) benefit from economies of scale and hugely reduce your own stress.

      Of course do things if you like doing them – on the crochet subreddit lots of people have created their own bouquets which then last forever. But don’t do things yourself just because you think it will be cheaper.

      Lots of money-saving tips are about transferring costs to other people (especially recruiting friends and family to provide goods and services for nothing, or choosing an inconvenient location or date). If you choose these, recognise that it’s still a $30k wedding even if you personally are only paying $10k of it. Magazines and blogs will mislead you.

      That aside, I very much agree that the guest numbers have the biggest effect on affordability.

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      Planning our wedding right now (for Spring 2020)!

      Like others have said, it depends on the type of wedding you want. A great tip I read is for the couple to settle on the 3 most important things for the day and allocate your budget accordingly. For us, we want professional pictures (okay that’s mostly mine), plenty of good food, and all our family (mostly him, he has a big close family) and closest friends to be there.

      So the State Park with the $25/day rental of the (very nice!) picnic shelter won out over the wedding barns that cost upward of $1000, because the most important part of the venue was that it was big enough for everyone and wheelchair accessible for a grandparent.

      But we are paying $1700 for a photographer to do a full day of wedding pictures, plus an engagement session. This is probably our biggest line item, but she is amazing!

      For food, we are going to go to Sam’s Club and load up on pulled pork (delicious!) and various picnic type sides. This won’t be cheap for 100 people, but it won’t break the bank either. (My aunt has very generously offered to pick up this expense for us).

      Groom and groomsmen will be renting suits from Men’s Wearhouse. The bridesmaid dresses are $35 on Amazon. My dress is $125 from Modcloth and I got $15 flats from them as well. Veil from Amazon for $15.

      We decided to skip Save the Dates and just tell people (multiple times, but still). Skipping RSVP cards in favor of a wedding website. Invites from Zola on sale for about $1/each. Decorations and cake topper from Oriental Trading Company.

      Cupcakes and a small cutting cake instead of the big giant cake.

      I also want to make or buy some oversized yard games for entertainment. We happen to already own a large outdoor speaker, and just plan to hook up a playlist for the music (we are not dancers).

      For flowers planning to raid family yard and gardens for lilac bouquets. May possibly buy bulk babysbreath for the tables.

      1. Girr*

        This basically describes my dream wedding. I’d try to be inside as I’m a mosquito magnet. But I also want picnic foods (my fave!), oversized yard games (all of them! Jenga! Yahtzee! Bocce ball! Lawn bowling!), and a flexible venue size where we (meaning I) can invite everyone.

        A state park is a great idea for this type of wedding.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      The goal is to get married. Hang on to this thought as it will serve you well.

      A friend does weddings, meaning, she officiates. She tells each couple, “Something WILL go wrong. Matter of fact plan on several things going wrong. It doesn’t matter because you will still be married at the end of the day.”

      If you have a family member who for the most part is never pleased with anything, now is NOT a good time to decide to please this person. We built our wedding around pleasing a person-who-cannot-be-pleased. I finally gave up when I was told I had to find the perfect color ribbon for my bouquet and it went into a half hour discussion on ribbon color. I do not do well with that level of detail. In the end, person-who-cannot-be-pleased was the first to leave and they took the cake with them. They said they paid for it, so it was theirs. I found out after I asked for more cake (which was no longer there) because they never said good bye or indicated they were leaving. This story goes on but you get the idea. Have the wedding YOU want, not what others want. And for pete’s sake, pay for the cake yourself, so it’s YOUR cake.

    14. LilySparrow*

      1) Have it in the daytime, like 2 pm, with a “tea dance” reception.

      2) finger food buffet instead of sit-down dinner

      3) choose one splurge – dress, band, video/photos, or venue. Pick the thing that gives you the most significant enjoyment, and keep the rest mininal.

      4) Always prioritize making a pleasant, happy day with everyone having a lovely time together over things being fancy or impressive. A lovely, fun party is much easier to pull off than a “perfect” grand event.

      5) Read Miss Manners’ wedding guide – “a wedding is a ceremony that marries two people, followed by a party in a somewhat more formal style than you normally entertain.”

    15. Anono-me*

      Congratulations.

      Money saving thoughts:

      We ordered flowers from Costco. They were about 1/3 of the price of any of the local places. They were beautiful. Friends who had a summer wedding got their great flowers from someone at the local farmer’s market and paid about $75. (Just be sure to wrap the stems in cling film or something so that they do not drip on people.)

      Check the price of buying vs renting. In many cases it was significantly cheaper and we didn’t have to worry about late fees or damage deposits. (We sold or gave away what we couldn’t reuse.)

      Watch out for vendors that price things per unit. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and $0.12 doesn’t sound like much and neither does $0.27 or $0.41, but all those little charges add up and all of a sudden your place settings are $47.00 per person.

      Random:

      Get a wedding email and voip phone number. It will help you keep everything together. Also most vendors are well mannered, but info. gets sold and some vendors are pushy.

      Stash some energy bars and water bottles for re-energizing on your wedding day.

      Make sure you both have comfortable shoes, at least to change into.

    16. Kuododi*

      DH and I got married a tad over 25 years ago so take what I am about to say with perspective…

      1. I’d strongly recommend no alcohol at the reception. (Your pretty much guaranteed to almost double the catering costs if you spring for booze.) Additionally, no booze means a lower risk of a rowdy relative getting hammered and acting like a knucklehead.

      2. If you are members of a faith community, consider using their facilities for the ceremony. In our case, our church didn’t charge members for use of the sanctuary for the service. We also had our reception at the seminary where I had graduated and DH had one more semester. That left us no charge for the reception hall.

      3. DH had my engagement ring made for me. We had no emotional investment in getting a big diamond sparkler (We were poor little church mice at that time.). My engagement ring was white gold with our two birthstones in the settings. (If memory serves, the total cost was right at $150) Also I had scrap white gold to use for the Ring which knocked down the price about $25-30.

      4. My sister had gotten married about 6 months prior so she had her resource lists of flower designers, caterer, cake people etc. She also is a gifted, hyperorganized designer so I had her help with the whole process. All I had to do was get the musicians together. (Thanks God…all the other stuff was getting on my nerves!!!)

      5. Mom and Dad have us $5000 as their wedding gift. (No strings). We were able to pay for the wedding, a six day five night honey moon at the North GA mountains. We also had enough $$$ leftover to pay DH last semester expenses for seminary, including books. Needless to say, we were and are both very thankful.

      6. Getting back to the reception itself, we had an afternoon service with finger foods instead of full meals at the reception. (Saves $$$ and the stress of those impossible to please relatives who will never be happy with the food provided.)

      I hope this helps. Mazel Tov on the nuptials.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Gonna disagree with the “don’t wine and dine your guests” bit. People are going to considerable trouble and expense to go to your wedding – you should feed and water them properly. Cut down on the list if you can’t afford as many guests, or go for a slightly less fancy venue, but be good to the ones that *do* attend. Quality over quantity, and anything worth doing is worth doing right, and all that.

    17. Earthwalker*

      Is the option of “don’t have an expensive wedding” open to you? Everybody does that because the wedding industry encourages more and more and more extravagance for their own profit. Avoiding the professional wedding people could save you a lot. I’ve seen weddings held at home and in parks and receptions that are picnics or even pot luck. (That pot luck wedding in an abandoned dance hall was the most fun wedding ever!) The point is to celebrate your marriage, not to break the bank and make the bride miserable. Would your family and friends be open to something that’s more creative than expensive?

    18. LQ*

      If you end up with DIY wedding don’t DIY something when you’ve never done anything similar before. Scale difference is fine, it’s harder and more expensive, but if you’ve rented a park pavilion for graduation parties or family reunions for a hundred people and you want to rent a park pavilion for the wedding you’ll figure most of it out and be ok. If you’ve only ever done parties for 8 people in your home and you rent a barn for 200? You’re going to have a really hard time with it.

      Skip the multiple venue jumping if you aren’t going to have a wedding planner.

    19. Thankful for AAM*

      Our local library offers a wedding venue that is very inexpensive. Maybe gwt creative with the location?

    20. Arts Akimbo*

      Oooh, I will reveal my favorite tip for this, which my spouse and I did for our wedding– have it at a state park! Like in a beautiful outdoor picnic area. We did this, and we had the park hotel cater the reception! It cost us a tiny fraction of what other venues were charging for catering. Seriously, it was a pittance! I highly recommend looking into that, if it fits your personality and needs. I think we had around 100 people. Maybe 150.

      1. Why isn't it Friday?*

        I cannot thank you all enough! I read through everyone’s comments carefully and took notes on all of the helpful suggestions. I already feel less stressed knowing that we have options. Thank you all again!

  40. HRT*

    Y’all. You. All.

    I just started HRT for menopause and it’s been AMAZING. I know it’s not right for everyone, but boy has it been right for me.

    1. ten alpacas*

      I remember how much more my life improved when I started HRT. I’m happy it’s helping you.

      To answer wellred’s question: I was fully menopausal when I started and had been suffering severe sleep disruptions. I’d fall asleep fine, but be awake from about 2 till 6 or 7 am. Then I got up for work at 7. I was only getting one full night of sleep per month. Once the hormones kicked in, about 2 weeks after I started taking them, I was able to sleep through the night, every night. Expensive, but worth it.

      1. Sometimes Always Never*

        I can’t take HRT, but my doctor suggested a low dose of an antidepressant, which is allowing me to sleep without being woken up every 15 to 45 minutes in a hot sweat. I am so very grateful, as I knew I couldn’t do the HRT because of a previous blood clot, and I was really feeling the effects of no sleep. Glad it’s working for you!

    2. HRT*

      I am fully menopausal. I stayed on a low-dose birth control pill until I was pretty sure I was in menopause. When I went off the pill my quality of life really tanked. I had serious brain fog, disrupted sleep, loss of libido and pain during intercourse. I tried a number of “smaller” interventions that just didn’t help much.

      The specialist that I’m seeing is pretty hung-ho on the HRT. She’s followed the research carefully and has concluded that there is minimal risk to HRT if it is provided according to current best practices. If my situation were different I would have probed further and sought more opinions, but in my case I’d already decided that I was willing to accept SOME risk if the HRT would provide quality of life.

      Which it has! She has me on an estrogen patch, progesterone, and testosterone. The brain fog lifted literally immediately, my sleep is better, and – by far the biggest thing for me – yesterday my husband and I were intimate and I literally cried afterward. I’d really thought that I would never enjoy sex again. Maybe that’s TMI, but I’d missed that for both of our sakes.

      1. Filosofickle*

        It helps me to read this! I am a few years from menopause, but looking down the road sex is the thing I worry most about. Happy for you <3

      2. WTF Aging*

        I’m kind of on the same path as you, i think. I’m just now going off the low-dose pills, so I have the withdrawal bleeding, hot flashes, and weird sleep. Also my sense of smell is all different, and seems really sensitive, people all smell gross (not good for the sex!). I will talk to the doc about HRT at my next visit.

    3. HRT saved my life*

      Super helped me. I was experiencing hot flashes (like I was running a fever) , migraines, insomnia (like eyes open until the sun rises insomnia) anxiety, moments of panic and obsessive thoughts. Huge mood swings like I was an adolescent. Horrible dark depression.
      Went to a therapist, who sent me to the gyn. The gyn took blood, did some tests and said that I was just the person HRT was for.
      Within a week or so I was normal. Seriously a life saver.

    4. Wicked Witch of the West*

      I started having symptoms when I was 44. Once I found a doctor that didn’t dismiss me as being “too young”, I went on HRT. I got almost immediate relief. I’m still on it 25 years later. When I have tried to wean off or stop, the brain fog and mood swings start up. (there’s a reason my name is Wicked). I, too, am willing to take the minor risks to gain the benefit. Good luck.

      1. HRT saved my life*

        had a resident insist that I wean off. oh the misery. hot flashes, migraines and hate for my husband.

        1. The Ace Tomato Company*

          Late to the game on commenting, but I am on the HRT is the best thing ever train! And my GYN is of the mentally that it is okay to stay on it forever if needed, which is fantastic. I was on birth control for most of my life and me without the hormones is a scary thing.

  41. Kuododi*

    Well, I have a week and a half left of radiation. Woohoo . The ladies from my Meetup group have been magnificent, coming through with transportation. I’ve had pretty wretched vertigo, nausea and vomiting so the transportation help has been a Godsend. I’ve been keeping in contact with my radiation MD and primary care about the vertigo and nausea. Apparently the problem isn’t connected to cancer treatment but rather the big case of bronchitis I’ve been dealing with. Right now, I’m tickled pink to think about being almost finished with treatment. I truly appreciate all of the love, good wishes and prayers. They have meant more than I can put into words. Blessings!!!

    1. fposte*

      Woo-hoo on the week and a half, and I’m so glad you’ve had local support that understands. That’s not a time when you want to handle an Uber, let alone drive. Hopefully the bronchitis will at least settle down soon!

    2. Thursday Next*

      That’s wonderful! So glad you’re almost done with treatment, and that you’ve had transportation help.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So glad to hear that you are almost finished. I hope the bronchitis dials back really soon. You sound like you feel loved and cared about and this is super important, I am very happy about that for you. Just my theory but a person who feels comforted heals better in some manner.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      so glad to hear your support group is coming through so well and that you are almost done!!! Continuing to send warmest thoughts your way…

  42. matcha123*

    I made a mistake sending packages this past week…basically I mixed up the addresses and two people got each other’s mail. They kindly sent the packages off to each other, but should I offer to pay them back?
    They both live far from me, but nearish to each other. The content was treats I’d picked up overseas for both of them. I’d estimate the cost was maybe $5 – $8 for shipping. (It cost me about $23 to ship from my area)
    Maybe it shouldn’t make me anxious, but I’ve never done anything like this and I feel terrible about having them pay.

    1. HannahS*

      If the money isn’t a lot to you, but might be to them, definitely offer. If you all have about the same and 5-8$ is a lot, offer to pay. If it’s not a lot of money to any of you, apologize (once) and thank them. Don’t beat yourself up. You did a nice thing and made a small mistake. If they hadn’t been able to send to each other, they’d have each kept the others’ treats.

      1. matcha123*

        Both are way more financially sound than I am, so the cost was likely no burden. The time to go to the post office and contacting them both to ask about addresses, etc. was definitely more of a burden…

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      Yes, you should insist on paying. They shouldn’t have to incur a cost to receive a gift from you.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        I meant to add: font best yourself up! Stuff happens! Make it right financially and let yourself off the hook.

      2. matcha123*

        I’ll ask them about repaying. Which I was going to do, but I am also a bit afraid of coming off as obsessive?
        When eating with them, if either covers costs for me, even if they insist, I probably ask about paying more than is necessary. This is different, but also giving me anxiety about how to go about rectifying this situation.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Don’t ask about repaying. There is no world in which these people are going to say, “oh yeah, thanks. Please send me a check for $5.” Sometimes the gracious thing is to accept that the situation is already a little awkward, without offloading the awkward onto other people.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Agreed. I cannot imagine a more financially-stable friend saying to a less financially-stable friend who had just sent them a gift (!!!) overseas (!!!), “Yeah, actually, can you go ahead and venmo me $6.73?”

            This is a mixup to chuckle over — just one of those funny life things that happens to everyone. If it were me, I’d be so grateful you thought of me, matcha123, and would never think of it as something you needed to feel bad about!

            1. Washi*

              Agreed completely! You could offer to pay them back, but if they say no (which they probably will) feel free to just take them at their word and everyone can let this go.

            2. matcha123*

              Thank you! I have a difficult time with this because two friends I grew up with, who were raised by quite wealthy families, would not ever. ever be ones to let something like this go. One literally came to my house to collect $15 after I gave her a specific payback day which she agreed to.
              I have to stop and ask people what would be normal or not because that experience really traumatized me.
              Luckily in this case both parties have been quite kind and have turned down my offer of repayment.
              Also thanks to all who’ve commented, it helps me understand what is reasonable!

    3. Not A Manager*

      I actually don’t think you need to. They chose to address the mix-up by re-sending the packages, and you say the cost isn’t significant to them. It was very loving of you to choose gifts for them overseas, and I’m sure they’re not stewing over the cost of postage.

      Apologize once, thank them for the time and effort of switching packages, and leave it at that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this. Since they found their own solution, I’d worry less about it. They see how much it cost you to send the packages so they know you have already put some money into this.

        Ease up on you and vow to look for opportunities to give back the same graciousness they gave you, as opposed to giving them actual money. They sound like good people. You deserve to have good friends like this.

    4. Orange You Glad*

      I would just send each a text saying, “Hey – do you want me to Venmo or Cash app you the shipping costs for the mix up?”

      And they’ll either say “Venmo” “Cash app” or (most likely) “Oh! Don’t worry about it!”

      Then it’s handled and you can stop worrying about it.

      (I do two choices of payment methods instead of “do you want me to pay this or not?” because it’s still culturally taboo to say “yes, pay me” in social settings. People who don’t need you to pay them back will say that and those who do will pick a payment method.)

      1. matcha123*

        That is true. I said “Let me know the costs so I can repay you.” And they both said it was fine. I was happy to repay, but also thankful that they were fine.

        1. OtterB*

          You asked, which was appropriate. They declined. Now let it go, because if you obsess about it after this it will be weird. (My MIL would do things like that. Drove me nuts that she would Not Let Go of paying for something really minor.)

  43. Vicky Austin*

    I just wanted to thank all of you who gave me such great advice about coming out of the closet as bisexual. I finally decided that I was ready to come out, and I came out to my husband and a couple friends, and they were all very supportive.
    I haven’t come out to my family yet, but I’m not too worried as they are very progressive. I’ll probably just bring it up casually. The next time we’re discussing politics, I’ll say something like “So what do you think of Pete Buttigieg? Do you think America’ s ready for a gay President? I personally don’t have a problem with it. Heck, I’m bisexual.” Then I’ll wait for their response and then say, “I never told you, did I?” They’ll say no, and I’ll say, “Well, I’m telling you now!”

    1. Annonymousse*

      So happy for your journey! Maybe you can do it in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they missed an important message from you though? “I’m telling you now” is great if they ask why you didn’t tell them earlier, but “I never told you did I” sounds like you’re setting them up to talk about your timing just to shut them down on that topic. You know your family best but if they’re very progressive I imagine they want to talk more about you than your messaging.

      1. Vicky Austin*

        What if I say, “Yeah, I never told you before, but I’m telling you now. Anyway, Pete Buttigieg. You think he’s got a chance at winning the election?” That way, I’m letting them know, but I’m not making a big deal about it; because I don’t think it should be a big deal.”

  44. Gaia*

    Adventures in Anxiety: Week 4 edition.

    I took the Lexapro. First dose was last night. Because of how bad the Zoloft was, I wanted to try it over the weekend so if I’m a mess at least it will not be on a day I need to work. Doctor has me taking a half a pill of the lowest dose for the first two weeks. I felt…weird…last night about 30 minutes after taking it. A bit of a jittery stomach, a bit of a head fog. I just went to sleep.

    While I can’t attribute it to the medication (since one dose very low dose is WAY too early to see an impact) I did wake up without a knot in my stomach for the first time in….forever. I just….woke up. I wasn’t worried or scared, I was just awake. The knot showed up later, but it was kind of nice to not have that immediately upon waking.

    This week, I’ve noticed my anxiety is very focused around my finances. I have a good job, steady savings, and sufficient income to meet my needs and my wants. I am secure, thankfully, in a way that I never have been before. I grew up extremely poor and spent all of my 20s unsure how I would even pay my most basic expenses.

    It is kind of amusing that I should have been anxious about finances then, but wasn’t and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to make choices that ensure I don’t have to worry so much now, but do. For example: I have two fun trips coming up in the next few months. I can afford both, but my anxiety keeps screaming at me that I can’t, that I should cancel both. I go over my budget, I look at my savings and I see it is fine and feel better for a moment. And then I close the budget spreadsheet and my anxiety says “but you can’t afford this!”

    It is maddening. But I can’t let the anxiety take away this last thing from me. I love to go places and see people and things. I could never afford it before and I’ll be damned if I give it up now that I can.

    1. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I just want to say, as a fellow anxiety sufferer, you have my deepest sympathy. I took Effexor for anxiety and had a lot of success with it stopping my anxiety in its tracks. It was like I could tell my body wanted to have an anxiety attack but couldn’t. It was a weird feeling. Unfortunately, it also made me sexually hyper, and I would have jumped anybody if they stood still long enough. :/ So, I had to quit taking it pretty quick.

      I hope you find some relief soon, and I’ll be sending you good thoughts/energy your way.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “I could tell my body wanted to have an anxiety attack but couldn’t.”

        YES, oh gosh I know this feeling!! This is why therapy has been so important to me too, to try to retrain those impulses!

      2. Gaia*

        Thanks for the support and good energy. I’ve always had some anxiety but it has never been like this before. I finally broke down and started the medication because it felt like something changed this week and it was headed to a darker place I don’t want to go. I legitimately cried for like 30 minutes Thursday over something completely non consequential. And it is so frustrating because only a few people know how bad it is and I don’t think any of them really understand. They tell me to work out and I’ll feel better. To focus on eating healthy and I’ll feel better. I know both of those things would help but I literally cannot. I just….can’t. And I don’t understand why.

        I’m really hoping this helps. I just want to feel better again.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I literally cannot. I just….can’t. And I don’t understand why.

          Well, I know you cognitively know this, but just to reinforce the truth of it: it’s because physical tiredness, mental paralysis, and lack of motivation are symptoms of your illness! I hate the way stuff like this gets moralized. If you have the flu, nobody says, “You just need to stop having body aches and chills and it’ll solve the problem,” everyone recognizes that body aches and chill